Chapter 9: The Other Side
After the Underworld Heart sank below the surface of the Pool of Regrets, it began to emit a purplish glow. As it glowed, the water in the Pool of Regrets swirled at a rapid speed and formed a whirlpool.
It also began sending out pulses of energy. These pulses of energy then began to travel in all directions around it. Upon hitting the edge of the pool, they would bounce back and overlap with the next pulse. Until hundreds of pulses danced about in the pool. Finally, a golden pulse shot out from the Underworld Heart and then all the water glowed in golden hue.
The Underworld Heart, realistically speaking, would be the weakest of the seven treasures. It solely possessed the power to condense and manipulate the flow essence that was present in the surroundings within a certain distance from itself. Realistically speaking, the Underworld Heart didn’t have many uses. Forming objects, required a lot of essence and was not very practical. For instance, the wall of essence Zhang formed to block the Northern Diyu’s attack took a massive amount of essence to form.
While submerged in the Pool of Regrets, Zhang was holding onto Yuying. The two of them was now enveloped by the pulses of energy that the Underworld Heart released. Three green tethers of energy lastly shot out from the Underworld Heart.
Suddenly, mesmerizing light shot out from the Pool of Regrets and projected itself into the sky. Simultaneously, streams of water also shot out after the ray of light.
The Heilong Kingdom fell into utter chaos after the Siwang Empire attacked and conquered the ten cities. Armies were being recruited and trained day and night. Emissaries were sent to many neighboring kingdoms to try to form an alliance against the Siwang Empire.
All males from the ages of 17 through 35 were required to show up for inspection to see if they were fit to join the army to serve their motherland.
For those who were currently admitted to various schools throughout the kingdom were exempted from the inspection. This was because anyone who was admitted into a school for cultivation was going to grow stronger than they would if they were put directly into a military camp.
Good seedlings were better harvested after they had been given time to grow. This was especially the case for those in the Royal Academy. Everyone who was admitted into the Royal Academy was recognized genius of sorts.
Precisely, because of this, those in the Royal Academy paid little attention to the happenings of the outside world. They focused all their attention on cultivation.
However not everyone in the academy was focusing on cultivation.
In one of the thousand boarding rooms at the Academy, there sat a beautiful young girl who was gazing at the stars. There was a sense of longing and lost present in her eyes as she peered into the endless night.
The longer she stared into the night, the more tears began forming at the corner of her eyes and eventually began to weep.
Before the Siwang Empire attacked the Blue Tear city, her life could be said as a perfect one, at least for her that is. She had parents that loved her, nice clothes, tasty food, all the things that one could wish and hope for was there for the taking. Life was simple and was void of worries or sorrow.
But nothing lasts forever, no matter how much we wish and pray it did. When the Siwang Empire came, they were like a hammer that completely shattered her world. Her life which had been perfect, spiraled into the abyss. What was always there, was no longer in her reach anymore.
She would never be able to walk down the same street that she did when he was growing up. Never will she be able to see and be greeted by the kind old woman who sold food at the street in front of her home. It was all these little losses that would gradually build to the bigger ones.
Her home that she had grew up in the place that offered shelter from storms. The place where her family had dwelled in for generations. All of these things were now gone. What kept her from going insane, however, was the faint hope that a certain boy was still alive.
No matter what others said, for her he was still alive. Be it in her heart or by some slim chance that he avoided the disaster.
She longed to meet him again even if it was for a second in time. Those who were left behind would always be the ones who were more hurt than those who had gone away.
This girl was the same girl who had climbed up that tree with a certain boy on a certain day. This girl was Ling.
Despite what everyone else said, she truly believed that Zhang would one day came back to her. Until that day, she would continue to push her limits and reach for new heights. She would focus all her energy into cultivation and not letting go to hope.
After Ling had arrived at the Royal Academy, she was like a fish in the water. She proved that she was a genius among geniuses. Ling was recognized as a student who would one day achieve great feats and would play a large role within the kingdom once she graduated.
Many young men fell for her enchanting beauty, while many more marveled at her talent. Some chose to look from afar and count themselves lucky for being in her presence. While the vast majority tried to court Ling. They believed that only they were worthy to possess such an outstanding beauty.
Everyone advanced differently. Some used money, while others used influence and many more tried to use power to impress her.But did Ling lack money? Did she lack influence? And lastly did she lack power? That would be a no.
She had all of these things. Being the shining star of the Royal Academy there was no way she lacked influence. One of the last things she lacked was money, her family, although not at wealthy as Zhang’s, still controlled one third of Blue Tear City which was a trade hub for the eastern side of the Heilong Kingdom. Many people who were high up in the government wished for her to jump on their boat. As for power, she would rely on her own power.
Shortly after they escaped Blue Tear City, the Wu clan and Zhou clan relocated into the capital of the Heilong Kingdom.
Although their homes were lost. The two clans still possessed a large amount of wealth and influence with this, they quickly rebuilt and began expanding their roots within the capital.
Filled with grief and lost, they strived for power. Why? Some might ask, the answer is simple. They wished for power so that they could revenge.
The Zhou Clan being the most vengeful of the two. It had lost its only heir and Zhou Cheng had lost his only and most cherished son. Filled with grief, he vowed that one day he would lead troops to flatten the Siwang Empire and get revenge for his son’s death.
Sadly, Zhen Ji had fallen into a coma and hadn’t woken up after the shock of her son dying hit her.
A storm was brewing in the Wulin continent. The Siwang Empire had initiated an era of war and conquest.
Every kingdom was now preparing for the imminent war. Some wished to protect themselves while others were preparing to conquer.
On a smaller scale, many influential families had begun plotting. They too wished to become royalty. They too wanted their clan to be worshiped as founders of a kingdom or better yet, an empire.
Soon war would break out everywhere. Experts would come out from every corner of the continent to seek glory and power.
Preparations were taking place everywhere except those places deprived of humans. Demonic beasts paid no mind to the affairs of man nor did they know what was happening.
This goes the same for another place. On the southern coast of the Heilong Kingdom, were a hundred small islands of various shapes and sizes.
These islands were not inhabited by humans, for the animals and demonic beasts living there, they were all on the weaker side in terms of strength.
The only people who came to these islands were either pirates or merchants looking for a place to dock for the night. Well all but one, this island was uninhabited. Of the hundred islands, there was one that was roughly ten times the size of the rest. And on this island, was a small port town.
Beside that largest island, there was another particular island. This island was avoided by everyone who came remotely close to the 100 islands. This island was also known as the Cursed Island where strange lights would occasionally.
It was said that on this island lived a tribe of cannibals and for any unlucky souls who got stranded on this island, there was a chance they might get eaten.
There were also rumors that deep within the center of the island was a cave that leads to a network of caves. These caves formed a natural maze and who knows what lurks in them. But one thing was for sure, within the caves, there were countless pool of waters and it was said that these pools lead to the underworld.
Well of course, these were only rumors because those who docked on the island didn’t exactly explore to confirm if the stories were true or false.
However, today, strange lights shot out from the island continuously. Seeing that the lights came from the Curse Island, the few inhabitants of the 100 islands were frightened out of their wits.
This was the first time such a visible light appeared from the island. Usually, it was a quick flash which they believe it could have been their eyes playing tricks on them. But today, how could their eyes be playing tricks on them?
The ray of light beamed through the area of the 100 islands and it was even visible on the southern shore of the Heilong Kingdom.
Some people awed at the magnificent light while others feared that this was an ominous sign.
Deep within the Cursed Island, through a thick and dense forest, was the entrance to the cave system. Inside of the cave system buried a very deep underground, through many twists and turns there was a huge and perfectly round pool of water. The water in the pool however was bloody red and at the bottom of it laid countless bones.
The rumors had indeed been true, inside the cave was actually an entrance to the underworld, but today, it would also serve as an exit.
When the final light shot out from the pool, the Underworld Heart could be seen flying out of the water and floating in midair above the ground. From it shot out three rays of green light. Then it began to hover for a moment then, as if it had run out of power, it dropped to the ground with a clank.
Zhang awoken in a somewhat dazed state. His vision was blurry and everything around him was dim. Had it not been for some oddly glowing stones embedded into the ceiling, he would not be able to see anything at all. The next thing he realized was his necklace that had been around on his neck since he was a baby was gone.
When Zhang tried to move his arms to feel around for the necklace he could not move them. However, there was an oddly soft sensation when he tried to move his hands.
As he turned to his right, he saw Yuying was laying unconscious on his arm. She was completely naked, two hills and a valley were completely visible. His face began to glow bright red at the mesmerizing sight but after a quick look he turned to his left as to avoid looking at her.
But ironically on his left was another girl who was also completely naked!! However, he had no idea who she was or where the heck she came from. The only thing he knew was that she was extremely gorgeous. A beauty that would make nations fall.
Zhang was currently living every man’s dream. He was sandwiched between two completely naked and extremely beautiful women. If he wasn’t so confused, he would probably be basking in this moment.
He did not know what to do if Yuying were to wake only to find herself naked next to him. Nor did he know how this girl he had never once met in his life react to this situation.
But he was about to find out as he heard someone yawning to his right. The yawn soon followed with a scream.
Yuying had woken up and realized that she was nude and had been sleeping on top of Zhang’s arm. The second she realized, she screamed and did a few maneuvers and got herself away, Using her hands to cover what she could cover.
“What is this! And who is that!”, She yelled.
“I DON’T KNOW!” Zhang said as he got up from the ground and tried to cover himself with his hands. Then, another yawn was heard.
Zhang and Yuying both looked toward the source of yawn. The girl who they both did not know had also woken up.
She had long black hair, snow white skin, small lips, and long beautiful eyelashes. Her delicate looking hand covered her mouth as she yawned. Her eyes slowly opened to reveal two large golden pupils.
She looked around the room and then looked at Zhang and Yuying.
“Where am I? Who am I? Who are you?”, were the first words that came out of her mouth.
“We we don’t know where we are!! As for who you are?? How are we supposed to know!”, Yuying yelled back at her.
“My name is Zhang, and she is Yuying.”, Zhang said.
As Zhang tried to avoid looking at the two beauties when something else caught his eye. It was the Underworld Heart laying on the ground.
Zhang quickly went and grabbed it into his hand and sent his essence into it. Bluish light began to appear and swirl in the air. And after a short while, three simple white robes appeared in Zhang hands.
He had used the power of the Underworld Heart to condense essence into clothes. These clothes would only be of use temporarily though. If someone drew essence from the air, there was a small chance the clothes would disappear. This was because he didn’t exactly know how to properly use the Underworld Heart yet.
What he also didn’t know was the Underworld Heart had use the power within the Pool of Regrets to create his new body. Had he simply gone through the pool without it, during the solar alignment, he would had been just a soul and wouldn’t have possessed a physical body.
The Underworld Heart possessed little to no practical combat capabilities, but it possessed the unique ability to condense and mold essence to the users will at least in a limited area.
It had used Zhang’s soul as a blueprint to create his new body, his new body would be exactly the same as his old one when he was alive. However, in one aspect it was different. It was a newly created body, just like an infant. These kinds of bodies allowed for natural essence to flow into them much easier, at least until they had aged.
Zhang tossed a robe to Yuying and another to the unknown girl. After dressing themselves, the three tried to figure out their situation.
“Put these on.” Zhang murmured trying not to peek.
Zhang and Yuying had jumped into the Pool of Regrets in the Underworld after tossing in the Underworld Heart. They most likely were in the world of the living on the other side of the Pool of Regrets. These two things they were almost sure of.
The fact that their bodies had been formed by the Underworld Heart was something that could be possible also. They also realized that none of them had any cultivation having only the essence level of one.
“Are you sure you don’t remember anything?” Zhang asked the mysterious girl.
To his question she shook her head with a clueless look on her face. they decided not to question her very much because it would not help because she claimed she did not remember a thing about herself..
They decided one thing though, they needed a name to call her. Thus, began the difficult task of naming someone.
Zhang came up with a few names which were instantly shot down by Yuying. She had said that he had no naming sense at all and he was just saying random names.
“Xiaqing? Su Ling’er? Lu Lingqi?” Zhang murmured to himself after being shot down by Yuying.
“How about Ai?” Yuying said suggesting a name for the mystery girl.
The girl seemed to like the name Ai also. Ai and Yuying quickly became friends. Yuying had always wanted another girl as a friend. Being a princess had prevented her from making any true friends. So Ai was a friend she had always wanted.
Zhang, Yuying, and Ai began exploring the cavern and had found an exit. They did not think staying in the cavern was very safe. There was a pool filled with red water that seemed like blood and there were bones lying laid at the bottom.
Zhang was able to chip off some of the glowing rocks from the walls to use as a light source.
As they exited the cavern and began exploring they, came across many splits in the road and many dead ends. This place was exactly like a maze.
Walking around aimlessly was going to get them nowhere, so Yuying began marking the walls as they walked. She would drew on the walls as they passed them, this would allow them to know where they had been and where they hadn’t been.
While walking, they all heard a howl that echoed in the cavern. The sound had come from somewhere very close to where they currently were. But they weren’t able to make it out where.
There was nothing to do but to continue onward though.
After walking a short distance, they heard another howl, this time, from behind them. As the trio turned back they saw hundreds of blood-red eyes glowing in the dark.
Not wanting to stick around to see what those eyes belonged to, the three of them ran at full speed ahead.
However, the owners of the blood red eyes didn’t give them the chance to slip away.
The three of them continued running with the two girls in front and Zhang in the back. This was so that if the whatever was chasing them had caught up, Zhang would be able to buy time for the girls to escape.
“RUN!!!” Zhang yelled. The trio ran and ran through the cavern until Yuying and Ai came to a sudden stop. In front of them was a cliff, Zhang who was right behind them had also came to a stop.
Their pursuers come into sight.
“Those are One Eyed Hellhounds!!!” Zhang said hurriedly. It turns out they were pursued by a pack of One Eyed Hellhounds. This was a type of demonic beast that looked very similar to wolves. Except, they only had one big eye at the center of their face. One Eyed Hellhounds were usually low level demonic beasts who ranged from levels two through four. They often lived in caves and in large packs.
The Hellhounds charged and jumped at Zhang and the girls. This was when Zhang’s arm suddenly extended. And a wall of essence formed in front of the trio. Unlike the wall that had blocked the attack from the Diyu, this wall was many times thinner.
“This wall won’t last for much longer. I don’t have enough essence to make a stronger one.”, Zhang said.