Gen felt the old man watching him.
No, not watching, but Watching, or Scrying as Mentor preferred, an older, more scholarly word to say the same thing. Gen thought it a waste of effort and energy to quibble over what to call things, but Mentor was rather particular about it. Names, designations, honorifics, and titles, Mentor considered all this of paramount importance, for perceptions were formed through not-so-meaningless labels. The more one perceives, the more one discerns. The more one discerns, the more one knows. Since knowledge is power, this meant perception was the first step on the Dao to power.
Gen still couldn’t grasp why names were so important, but Mentor had spoken and he would obey, because the alternative was… unpleasant.
This was also why Gen kept his eyes closed and breathing steady while his skin prickled and hairs stood on end, a near daily occurrence since the old man joined them. A fortuitous happenstance, Mentor called it, and while Gen agreed at first, he soon discovered the old man was little more than an incessant bother who brought nothing of value to their efforts. Nestled away in his opulent carriage or hidden inside his lavish bedroom, the old man would Scry on Gen for hours on end when not otherwise occupied with his own training or other carnal amusements. Why the old man found him so fascinating Gen could not say, but Mentor had ordered him not to reveal the true extent of his abilities, so instead of setting the old man’s carriage on fire, Gen pretended he hadn’t noticed the daily intrusions and continued his meditative training, moulding Earth’s Fire to his will inside his Natal Palace.
He’d much rather learn while slaughtering his enemies on the battlefield, but Mentor’s orders were absolute, so here Gen sat in some Western City he’d never heard of, so close to the action, yet at the same time, so far.
Soon after their fated meeting, Mentor opened Gen’s eyes to the truth. The Heavens had blessed him with not only mastery over Fire, but Earth too. Such was the secret to his metallic hands, for where Earth and Fire met, Metal forms. An Auxiliary Blessing, Mentor called it, like Wood born of Earth and Water or Lightning from Fire and Wind, but Mentor disliked calling them by their ‘blended’ names. Calling Gen’s Blessing ‘Metal’ was like calling a person ‘human’, technically correct but too broad to be of any use. Earth’s Fire differed from Fiery Earth, but how, Gen couldn’t say.
The why or how didn’t matter though. All Gen cared about was how to use his power, and Mentor taught him well. While not inherently more powerful than a Primal Blessing in one of the four basic Elements and not as rare as an Esoteric Blessing like Sound or Space, an Auxiliary Blessing offered its wielder more options at the cost of increased complexity. Where others only needed to learn the intricacies of a single Blessing, Gen was forced to spread his focus between three, Earth, Fire, and Metal. Too much of one without the others would cause an imbalance in his Energies, limiting his potential and hindering his Martial Dao.
A hundred years. This was the time-frame Mentor gave him, a hundred years before he might be deemed competent enough to wield his Blessing to its full extent and match the hidden Divinity who foiled Mentor’s plans in the North, the mysterious Warrior blessed by Sky’s Water, or Cloud as the Imperials called it. Of course, in a hundred years time, Mentor will have already killed the meddling Divinity and conquered the Empire, but Gen was still determined to exceed Mentor’s expectations. A hundred years to match a Divinity, but how many years before he was strong enough to kill Falling Rain?
Not even one. If that scrawny, piss-eyed runt were to show himself today, Gen would tear the tender flesh off his bones and cook it before his eyes, devouring the Devourer piece by delectable piece. Number One Talent in the Empire? Pei. Only because Gen was not there to contest him.
Distraction Is The Enemy Of Development. You Must Learn To Focus Your Mind Little Worm.
Reeling from the unexpected rebuke, Gen keeled over as the powerful Sending lanced through him and overwhelmed his senses. It’s not that Mentor couldn’t control his volume when Sending through the Demons, he just didn’t bother to because he believed pain and suffering were effective teaching tools. Mentor didn’t care if Gen bled from his eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth, or that each word Reverberated through his bones and inner organs, leaving him in crippling agony for hours without reprieve. Mentor saw this as an incentive for Gen to grow strong enough to resist, while also presenting him with the opportunity to practice his Reverberation countermeasures and Healing.
Careful not to let his anger get the better of him, Gen steadied his breathing and hid his rage from the Demon beside him, for Mentor’s consciousness inhabited it. Both guardian and warden, the armour-clad Demon was one of Mentor’s newer creations, one almost indistinguishable from human at first glance. Almost being the key word, for the Demon bore an air of inhuman menace about it. Perhaps it was how utterly still it sat, never breathing or shifting its weight about as people tend to do. It could also be the intense, unblinking stare peering out from behind its encased helm, those bloodshot eyes seething with unquenchable fury. Oddly enough, what Gen found the most discordant was the complete lack of decoration or ornamentation. This not only diminished the Demon’s overall magnificence, it also brought attention to the lack of seams, hinges, clasps, or cinches on its sleek, black ‘armour’.
In some ways, Mentor seemed brilliant and all-knowing, but he favoured function over form no matter the cost. This Demon and its many identical peers would command so much more respect if Mentor cared to stylize them, but as things were, they appeared more like faceless grunts instead of heroic champions.
When Gen first shared his thoughts on the matter, he learned Mentor was not a man who accepted criticism lightly.
Keeping his emotions in check, Gen readied his defences and kowtowed to the Demon as he Sent, “This worm is grateful for Mentor’s guidance.”
Gratitude Is Meaningless. This Sovereign Craves Results Little Worm, Yet You Are Found Wanting. So Slow, So Stupid, Barely Worth This Sovereign’s Precious Time.
Despite his ample preparations, Mentor’s Sending still left Gen writhing in agony, each word echoing through his mind to set fire to his nerves. Each breath of air came laced with wretched anguish and every movement a bitter torment, but Gen pushed through the pain and settled his nerves, for if he took too long to recover, then more chastisement would follow. His face still pressed to the floor, he Sent, “This worm is unworthy.”
What Thoughts Trouble Little Worm?
Mentor’s question was not borne of concern or interest, merely a tool used to identify the issue plaguing his favoured toy. That’s all Gen was, a curio here to satisfy Mentor’s fleeting interest in his Talent, his gift of Oration, and perhaps accomplish something useful in the meantime. Loathe as he was to submit, Gen had no choice but to answer honestly, for somehow Mentor always knew when he lied. “This worm finds the Confessor’s attentions distracting.”
A Minor Disturbance, Not Nearly Enough To Agitate Little Worm So.
Trembling from the strain of keeping himself together, Gen Sent, “This worm was also imagining what he would do to the Devourer.”
Mentor’s disdain cut Gen like a searing hot knife in the kidneys, but he held his tongue and endured, knowing he would only receive worse if he showed weakness.
Aim Higher, Little Worm. Predator and Devourer Make For A Dangerous Pair, But Devourer Is Nothing Without This Sovereign’s Guidance. Little Worm Advances By Leaps and Bounds While Devourer Flounders and Falters. Set Loftier Goals and More Ambitious Aspirations, For He Is No Match For Your Talents.
Gen struggled to draw breath as blood pooled beneath his face, but luckily, he didn’t need air to Send. “This worm understands.”
Good, Good. The Time Is Fast Approaching. You Remember Your Instructions?
“Yes Mentor.” Gen’s answer didn’t matter, for Mentor still insisted on repeating his instructions, perhaps because he enjoyed watching Gen writhe about in agony or because Mentor thought so little of Gen he believed the reiteration necessary. Either way, by the time Mentor was finished and had withdrawn from the Demon, Gen lay at death’s door from the torturous instruction. Though overflowing with rage and indignation, he let none of this show as he pushed himself to his feet, unsure if Mentor was truly gone or merely pretending. Staggering through the puddle of his own blood, he made his way out of the study and back to his room, leaving the mess for the servants to deal with. As he passed by, he marked every person who saw him so he would know who to kill later. Whether it be later tonight while the Confessor’s attention was elsewhere or a hundred years later, Gen would kill everyone who saw him in his weakened state.
Which included the decrepit Confessor and Gen’s Mentor himself, the hateful and conceited Zhen Shi.
It took an entire hour for Gen to Heal himself enough to move unhindered and another hour before he was confident enough to speak before a crowd. Impressive as his growth had been, he still wasn’t strong enough to kill thousands with a wave of his hand, not like Zhu Chanzui. The battle against the mysterious monk had been eye opening indeed, for it had been the first time Gen had witnessed the awe-inspiring might of a Divinity. Two peak existences, one Ancestral Beast and one Dharma Protector, clashed before his eyes, and if not for The Immortal’s protection and the Armoured Demon’s intervention, then Gen would have died in the first exchange.
Not because the monk was aiming to kill him, no. His death would’ve been mere happenstance, torn apart by the aftershocks of a collision between titans, one powerful enough to level an entire city much less the small town of Sinuji. This power was his goal, not in a hundred years or even fifty. A mere decade was all he would need before the mysteries of Heaven laid bare before him, for he had a secret the Spectres hid from Mentor’s prying eyes.
While they obeyed Mentor because he forced his will upon them, the Spectres willingly served Gen, for he was the Chosen Son of Heaven, and soon-to-be Emperor of All Creation.
With the serving girl in his lap, Goujian Watched Gen’s conversation with his unseen Mentor, a most mysterious Expert simply titled the Uniter. A man of considerable power, considering he commanded not only all of the Defiled, but The Immortal as well. How strong one must be to force an Ancestral Beast to obey, Goujian could not say, but even with his newfound grasp of the Truth, he was still a long ways off from matching the Bristleboar Divinity, much less the power that backed him. Though Goujian believed they were all Chosen of Heaven working towards the same goal, he’d lived too long and seen too much to let his guard down easily. In his time spent serving Imperial propaganda, he’d seen family and friends turn on each other at the mere mention of his name, without a care in the world if the accused were innocent or guilty. Even four of his five remaining Disciples had betrayed his trust, so why would Goujian trust a traitor like Mao Jianghong or the cowardly Uniter who hid in the shadows?
Unfortunately, thus far his efforts had failed to bear fruit. Jianghong always knew when Goujian was Scrying and Gen did little besides eat, train, and sleep. A diligent and hardworking young warrior, Gen was living proof of Imperial lies and a shining example to be followed. If only Yuanyin were so devoted to the Martial Path, but Goujian’s last living Disciple was too enamoured in the pleasures of the flesh. Stroking the serving girl’s thighs, Goujian admitted he too was somewhat distracted, but at least he spent his nights in restful meditation instead of the drunken stupor Yuanyin found himself in time and time again.
Tomorrow, Goujian decided, nibbling the servant’s tender shoulder while Gen tended to his injuries. Tomorrow, he would have a word with Yuanyin and set an example for the boy’s errant ways, for they were both newcomers to the cause and had much to prove to their newfound allies.
A few hours later, Goujian put an end to the festivities, for Gen had changed into his armour and was now readying his horse, which meant there was work to be done. Tossing the cold, mangled corpse aside, Goujian idly wondered when the serving girl had died, for he’d been too lost in pleasure to notice. A shame, for in their deaths, he often glimpsed scattered fragments of the Truth, putting to use the skills he’d once used to serve the Emperor, only now, he served the Empire.
Balance in all things, for where there is life, there must be death. Such were the Truths revealed to him by Heaven Above, his mind clear and eyes open.
Though an ordained law of Heaven, Truths such as this were too much for the ignorant and unenlightened, too much even for fragile Yuanyin, so Goujian was careful to clean away all traces of blood on his person. After rinsing his beard and washing his face, Goujian put on a robe and strode out to the balcony. Basking in the warm sunlight, he made a show of languidly stretching before ‘noticing’ Gen’s presence in the courtyard. “Afternoon, young warrior,” Goujian Sent, wearing his most cordial smile as he waved at Gen below. “How rare to see you out and about. Fancying an afternoon ride, are we?”
“No,” Gen replied, his Sending clear and crisp as a Warrior twice his age. “There are new arrivals to greet in city square. Would you care to join me to greet them?”
Perfect. “Gladly, for it is always a treat to see you at work,” Goujian Sent, stepping off his balcony to glide down to the courtyard. Not two months ago, his skill with Lightening would have only been enough to let him land with delicate ease, but now he could almost drift away on a breeze. Or rather, that’s what it felt like, even though no amount of Lightening would be enough to accomplish such a feat, but still, it was more progress than he’d made in decades before. Clapping Gen on the shoulder, Goujian reassured the boy with a nod. “Lead the way, Young Warrior, and this one will follow.”
An honour for the boy no doubt, showing him the respect he undoubtedly believed he deserved, but Goujian’s skin was thick and his confidence complete. While Gen rode through the city streets, Goujian ran alongside, hand folded behind him as each of his low, bounding steps covered tens of meters before touching the ground again. Though he didn’t need to flaunt his strength, he found the reactions to his movements immensely satisfying, like a god among mortals. He wasn’t quite at that level yet, but to these lucky, liberated souls inhabiting the Western City of ShiBei, he was close enough.
Within a quarter hour of setting out, they arrived at the city square where they were greeted by an army of captured Imperial soldiers guarded by Chosen Elites. Stripped of their armour and surrounded by their supposed Enemy, the Imperial soldiers were dusty and defeated, but otherwise untouched. Many had even received medical care for their injuries taken in battle, a far cry from the maiming and torture they’d expected. More Imperial lies and deceptions proven false, but clean bandages and warm meals would not be enough to overcome a lifetime of indoctrination.
Soon though. Soon, these poor, ignorant souls would see the Truth…
As before, Goujian waited for Gen’s permission before heading onto the stage. The boy knew how to turn a phrase, but Goujian’s lifelong reputation was still a formidable weapon for their purposes here today. As he looked over the crowd and waited for silence, he noted plenty of native residents from ShiBei also in attendance, though as far as he knew, they had not been forced to come. A good sign all things considered, for revealing the Truth was only the first step to dismantling the shield of lies generations of Emperors had hidden behind.
The next step would be bloody revolution, and for that, they would need an army, which was where he came in.
“My name is Goujian,” he began, his voice echoing over the crowd and throughout the City. “You all know me. Perhaps not by sight, and perhaps not by name, but you all know my title.” Pausing for dramatic effect, he flicked his sleeves, crossed his hands behind his back, and struck a regal pose with his head held high. “I am the Confessor, Founder of the Aspirants and Former Director of the Purge.” The crowd emitted a chorus of gasps as the defeated soldiers gazed upon him with a mix of rage, loathing, and curiosity. “You all know the stories of my zeal. You all know my mantra, that it’s better to kill a thousand innocents than let one Defiled go free. You’ve heard my less flattering titles, perhaps even used them yourself. Emperor’s Bloodhound, Tormentor of Defiled, The Mad Inquisitor, all this and more speaks for itself, so you must all be wondering, ‘why is The Confessor here, standing alongside the Enemy?’.” He paused again, and he knew he had their attention. “I stand here, because I have always been an Adherent of the Mother, a warrior of faith, and a Defender of the People. I stand here, because the Empire is rotten to its core and has lied to you for centuries, if not millennia.”
His words were met with outrage and disbelief as loyal soldiers defended their sovereign as they were taught to. Goujian stood still and accepted their denials and insults without batting an eye, waiting until their ire died down to speak again. “The Emperor is good, the Emperor is great, may Heaven bless the Emperor with ten thousand years of boundless longevity. This is what we are told to say, but have you ever asked yourselves, why? Why is the Emperor good? What has he done for you? You soldiers fought for him, your comrades died for him, yet where is he now? Here you stand in beautiful ShiBei, on the border of West and Central, and the proof of the Emperor’s scorn is all around you. What do you see? What do you hear? Nothing! There are no Imperial soldiers riding to support you, no Imperial efforts being made to free the West. When the Western Wall fell, not a day passed by before the Emperor closed the borders, and even as we stand here today, the Empire is hard at work erecting a new wall just east of here. The Emperor is not good. The Emperor is not great. The Emperor has abandoned the West and everyone in it, and when we break through their new, ramshackle Wall, the Emperor will abandon the rest of the outer provinces just like they abandoned you. It is for this reason and many more, that I, Goujian, stand here before you, forever a defender of the people. I stand on the side of justice and virtue, and seek to overthrow the Dog Emperor and his cowardly lackies. Where do you stand?”
The crowd remained silent in the wake of his declaration, shocked that the Confessor would ever side with the Defiled. There was more to it than he could explain in a few sentences, for while many might turn stark raving mad when confronted with the Truth, this only showed they had not been Chosen by Heaven. His part was done now, having broken wide their misconceptions, and now it was time for young Gen to take the stage. Looking the part of noble young hero, Gen greeted the crowd with a martial salute, and it buoyed Goujian’s spirits to see a good fifth of the crowd saluting back. More out of confusion and habit than true respect, but it was a start. “My name is Gen,” the young Chosen said, his skills far surpassing any young talent his age. “The Emissary of Earth’s Fire. I have come to share my tale and bring you truth and freedom. Not one year ago, I was just like you. Less even, for I lived a humble life outside the city of Sanshu, on the shores of…”
The crowd hung on the boy’s every word, and truth be told, so did Goujian. There was something about the way Gen spoke which drew you in and made you feel… alive. Goujian couldn’t explain it, but there was much he had yet to understand in regards to the Truth.
No matter, he had plenty of time yet to unravel those mysteries. Let the Emperor build his wall while those poor deranged souls kept them occupied. Even mad as they were, they knew who the true Enemy was, and perhaps they might even emerge victorious, though Goujian had his doubts. The Empire had vast reserves of strength which had yet to take the field, and no matter how many Divinities the Uniter had gathered, Goujian wagered the Empire had more. Thus, with Gen and Goujian working together, they would build an army of Chosen, Heaven’s invincible host who would sweep through the Empire and raze it to the ground so that a new Empire might arise from the ashes. Thus far, Goujian found no one better to lead it than young Gen here, a true dragon among men. Goujian even had a name for the boy, should he so choose to accept it.
Shen Tian Zi, the Divine Son of Heaven, first Sovereign of the Holy Azure Empire.
– End of Volume 22 –
Okay, first off, here are the Auxiliary Elements, so I don’t have to answer the question a bajillion times 😀
Earth+Fire = Metal
Earth+Water = Wood
Earth+Wind = Sand
Fire+Water = Ice
Fire+Wind = Lightning
Wind+Water = Cloud
Yea some of them are silly, but like it says in this chapter, they’re not entirely accurate either. Alrighty then. Moving on.
Volume 22, titled Perspective, has come to an end, and now begins Ruffwriter’s long-ass break (6-8 weeks). Not to be confused with a long ass-break, which I can only assume is what happens after one partakes in deviant sexual behaviour. Butt I digress, it is time for me to hit the old dusty road and be genuinely lazy instead of procrastinating all the time. I must say, that after 400+ chapters, I’m surprised Savage Divinity is still going strong, but I’m more surprised I haven’t quit yet. That said, thank you all for reading this far and putting up with my shitty puns and tired memes, and I look forward to another year of Savage Divinity with you all. I don’t know if it’ll be the LAST year of SD, but the end is… somewhere out there.
Afterwards? Who knows. More writing tho, that’s for sure. I love writing, and knowing I have so many readers who enjoy my work makes it like a bajillion times better.
Anyways, 2018 was a year, and I’m hoping 2019 is even better. I’ll be back late jan/early feb, depending on when I wake from hibernation. I’ll still be on discord, but for those of who don’t like hang out with deviants and degenerates, then Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to you all.
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