Book 1: Rise of the Cloud
Book 1 Chapter 1: Bai Yunfei
Year 2008 of the Tianhun calendar, the only empire on the Tianhun continent - the Tianhun Empire, Qingyun Province, in the evening in Luoshi City.
"Whew! Finally call it a day. Today I earned 23 copper coins. I can eat one more steamed bun this evening..." A youngster dressed in ragged clothes with a face full of exhaustion was walking in a somber alleyway while supporting himself on the wall. He massaged his sore shoulders as he muttered to himself.
Bai Yunfei, 18 years old, 1.75 m tall, had a simple short hairstyle, his face somewhat thin, his nose bridge high and his eyes clear. Even though he could not be considered handsome, at least his appearance did not make people dislike him. Because he had been a coolie for years, he unconsciously bent down a bit when he walked, looking somewhat servile. His body actually could be considered strong, but because he had not eaten enough food for a long time, he looked thin and haggard.
After a day of toil, now he only wanted to buy some wheat steamed buns to fill his stomach then return to that broken house, the 'home' where he had been living alone for 9 years, to take a good sleep.
Since he had begun to understand things, Bai Yunfei had never seen his father. His mother and paternal grandfather had never told him anything about his father either. His mother passed away due to illness when he was 5, leaving behind Bai Yunfei and his aged grandfather, who had to depend on each other for survival. It was a pity misfortune still did not let go of Bai Yunfei's family. When setting up a stall to sell straw sandals, his grandfather 'blocked' the way of a young nobleman from a wealthy family and was given a brutal beating by his subordinates and servants. Not long after that he also left Bai Yunfei - That year, Bai Yunfei was only 9 years old.
These kinds of things were not rare sights on the Tianhun continent at all. The lives of commoners, especially those similar to Bai Yunfei's family members - without land, jobless and having only a small house so damaged that it was almost unlivable - were not worth a cent in the eyes of the nobility and the rich.
9 year old little Yunfei was all alone. Engraving his mother's love and his grandfather's kindness in his heart and mind, he clenched his teeth and lived on - After imploring for 2 days and nights, he got a job as a porter at a large rice shop. Do not think that the shop owner was kind-hearted. He never gave someone even an extra half of a copper coin. Recently Bai Yunfei had only received several copper coins a day in wages.
There were many times Bai Yunfei thought that he could not take it anymore. Every night he would huddle in the damaged house through which the wind could blow freely and weep silently. But each time, when he had fallen asleep after crying, he would always see in his dream his grandfather stroke his head kindly, and weave straw sandals while teaching him characters; his mother embrace him to her bosom and point to the white clouds in the sky, saying: "One day, when my little Yunfei grows up, he will be like a white cloud in the sky, floating freely without constraints..."
The next day, he would wipe his eyes, clench his teeth and move those extremely heavy sacks of rice bit by bit - he had been moving them for 9 years... During these 9 years, Bai Yunfei tasted the fickleness of human nature to the utmost. Understanding thoroughly how bleak this world was, he simply worked hard every day, relying on his own hands and foots to survive in the lowliest way.
In fact, there were a great deal of commoners like him at the bottom of society, but most of them chose to become involved in shady activities under the pressure of life. However, Yunfei had never committed any of those acts and even never thought about committing them. For every copper coin and mouthful of food he got, he had to carry heavy sacks of rice on his shoulders in exchange,
because, he had promised his grandfather to live life with a clear conscience before.
Many people had sneered at Bai Yunfei's stubbornness: "A clear conscience? Don't make me laugh. In this cruel real world, a clear conscience is a worthless piece of shit!"
But Bai Yunfei did not care about them. He had been sticking to living alone for 9 years, regardless of how low his status was, how humble his job was and how impoverished he was - with a clear conscience.
"Now my body is much stronger than before as well. Later I'm gonna carry a few more sacks of rice every day so that I can start saving some money and repair mom's and grandpa's graves..." Bai Yunfei walked as he considered this. After patting the copper coins in his bosom, he slightly quickened his pace. The exit of the alley was not far in front of him. Buy several steamed buns and he could just go home.
Right at this moment, he, walking forwards with his head lowered, did not notice that a rift was suddenly cut open in the empty space behind him. Several masses of black mist flew out from it, one of which even seemed to be encompassing a book... Either by accident or by design, those several masses of black mist and that book all flew in the direction of Bai Yunfei together. They dashed into his body in just about the blink of an eye.
Bai Yunfei only felt an emptiness inside his head then lost consciousness and fell down weakly to the ground.
The moment he dropped to the ground, a transparent mass of air urgently came out from that rift, which had not closed yet. It also flew towards Yunfei but instead of going into his body, it surrounded him completely.
Everything in a plane of existence contained in itself the laws of the plane. When it attempted to break into another plane, it would be repelled and eliminated by the laws of that plane.
However, once it managed to enter that plane, it would be assimilated, by the laws of this plane!
The several soul fragments and that one book had already begun to merge with Bai Yunfei as soon as they had gone into his body. Subsequently, the pursuing force of the planar laws only enfolded Yunfei's body for a short while. After eliminating a small part of the soul fragments that had been unable to merge with him in time, it immediately vanished into thin air as if it had never appeared.
Bai Yunfei appeared totally unchanged as well. He was still lying on the ground like he was sleeping soundly.
About 10 minutes later, he slightly moved then sat up, but his face was full of confusion, his eyes unfocused as well. Obviously, he still had not regained composure.
After sitting in stupefaction for a long time, he supported himself on the wall and stood up. He gently patted his head with a hand. It looked like he was murmuring to himself but also looked like he was talking to someone.
"I am Tang Long... No, I am Bai Yunfei..."
"I came from the Earth... No... I'm from the Tianhun continent..."
"I'm an interdimensional traveler... I'm a commoner in Luoshi City..."
"Water is formed from H and O..."
"Save some money to repair mom's and grandpa's graves..."
Even though the soul fragments did not have consciousness, they were all formed from countless fragments of memories, which had merged with Bai Yunfei, causing a temporary state of confusion in his own memories.
He staggered towards the main street. In fact, this was totally a subconscious action. His mind was still in confusion so he did not know what he was doing at all... On the main street, the common people who were busily coming and going all retreated to the sides of the street in a somewhat fearful manner at this moment as a group of roughly dozens of people came running from the east city gate.
There were two people running in the forefront. The one on the left was a very good-looking youngster. He was beautifully dressed and had well-defined facial features. His long hair was tied up behind his head. Holding a folding fan in his hand and swinging it slightly in a very graceful manner, he was pointing at the shops and vendor booths on the sides of the street. Apparently, he was introducing something to the person beside him. The corners of his mouth curled up into a self-satisfied smile every now and then, looking carefree and elegant but also somewhat cynical.
The person beside him is a long-haired girl dressed fully in luxurious light blue clothes. Her body was slim, her face white, her lips cherry and her nose jade-like. Her big eyes were following the gestures of the youngster, looking around with gusto.
Not far behind them, a burly middle-aged man was slowly strolling along with his hands behind his back. His eyes were looking at the youngster and young girl in front of him with a hint of a smile. The two bodyguards beside him were dressed like ordinary people, long sabers hanging from their waists. It looked like they were following him about at random, but their eyes occasionally swept across the crowd. All of those who made eye contact with them immediately turned around to avoid them with an even more fearful expression on their faces.
Further behind was a group of guards dressed up like servants and carrying some large chests. Despite those heavy-looking chests, these people were walking in a rather relaxed fashion. Obviously their skills were not weak either.
The number one aristocratic family of Luoshi City, the Zhang family, controlled almost half of the city's various business shops. Moreover, it was a well-known family of soul cultivators. Even though this so-called 'well-known family' was not worth mentioning at all in the context of the entire continent, in this Luoshi City, it was an entity to which even the mayor had to yield to a certain extent.
Of course no commoners dared to block the way of the Zhang family's master and young master.
"Little sister Meng'er, I never thought you would come to Luoshi City together with my father. You should have sent someone to tell me about this a bit earlier so that I could prepare some interesting things for you, making you enjoy yourself..."That youngster talked to the girl beside him with a broad smile on his face. This person was none other than the young master of the Zhang family, Zhang Yang.
Despite Zhang Yang's flattery, the young girl showed no expression. She only said in an indifferent manner: "I just happened to meet uncle when I was strolling about Yinsha City. So out of convenience, I came here together with him to pay a visit to auntie. There's no need to prepare anything for me. I'm going to leave in a few days." At the end she slightly wrinkled her beautiful eyebrows then continued: "Also, don't call me Meng'er. I'm not your little sister or something either. Call me by my name, Liu Meng."
"Haha, what are you talking about, little sister Meng'er? Actually, you should already know the intention of the elders in our 2 families. We..."Zhang Yang, however, was not discouraged by her coldness.
"Now I don't want to think about anything else. This time I went out for a stroll only because all along I couldn't break through to the middle Soul Warrior stage. So I wanted to go out to relieve my boredom a bit then return home to continue my training without worries." The young girl named Liu Meng cut Zhang Yang short.
"What? You are already about to reach the middle Soul Warrior stage? I remember we broke through to the Soul Personage stage at about the same time. It's been just a year. I'm still at the middle Soul Personage stage but you've already improved so much!" This time Zhang Yang did not continue to court her shamelessly. He gave a light shout instead, his face full of shock.
Hearing that, Liu Meng cast a somewhat disdainful look at him then shifted her eyes to a place on a side of the street, saying: "I'm different from some people who idle about all day."
"Eh..." Pressed by these words, Zhang Yang was somewhat embarrassed. He stopped this topic then, with a smiling expression, pointed to a small tanghulu stand on a side of the street, saying: "Little sister Meng... Eh... Liu Meng, it's tanghulu, which girls love to eat. You often focus on training at home so you rarely eat these little things, right? I'll get a skewer for you to taste."
After saying so, he immediately went over, took a skewer of tanghulu then turned around and returned to Liu Meng's side. The owner of that stand did not even dare to show a hint of discontent. Instead he forced a faint, ingratiating smile on his hoary face... Liu Meng received the skewer somewhat curiously, looked at it for a while then stuck out her little tongue and licked the sugar coat a bit. A hint of a smile appeared on her face, like a plum tree that blossomed in winter. On one side, when Zhang Yang saw that, his eyes were almost fixed on her.
The party kept going towards the center of the city. On the way, Zhang Yang constantly took some strange little playthings from various small vendor stands and gave them to Liu Meng, hoping to win a smile from the beauty.
Just as they reached the opening of an alley, an absentminded-looking youngster dressed in somewhat ragged clothes suddenly rushed out from that rather somber alley on one side. He was walking with a stagger while mumbling something nonstop. Seemingly not seeing the party on the street, he just kept going forwards this way. Suddenly he stumbled and bumped squarely into Liu Meng's bosom!
The appearance of the youngster was somewhat unexpected and Liu Meng, following Zhang Yang's introduction, was looking at a satin shop on the other side; moreover, she simply did not think that someone would bump into her like this; additionally, Yunfei's mind was in confusion at the moment - he did not intentionally approach her at all; therefore, despite being a soul cultivator, she was not able to avoid this collision and was knocked down to the ground by him... Bai Yunfei felt his head hurting badly. All sorts of information were piercing his head incessantly. He did not even know where he was right now.
Suddenly, Bai Yunfei felt that he seemed to have hit something. His body plunged forwards uncontrollably. Then he felt that he seemed to have thrown himself onto a soft area, a delightful, delicate fragrance entering his nose... Nobody knows if it was because of that hit, or that plunge, or that soft area, or that delicate fragrance... In short, Bai Yunfei recovered from his preoccupation at this moment. Even though he was not completely clear-headed yet, finally he could control his own body again.
He shook his head and stood up. Only now could he see clearly the situation in front of him - a blue-clad girl was sitting on the ground before him, her delicate face slightly looking up, gazing at him in stupefaction. It seems she had not pulled herself together after that collision just then yet.
"Eh... Miss, I'm sorry... I didn't intend to bump into you. Are you hurt?" Bai Yunfei had roughly grasped the situation - he himself had just knocked her down - so he apologized then stooped down, reached out his hand and pulled Liu Meng by her white wrist, helping her get up from the ground, as if this was very natural to him.
Bai Yunfei looked at the skewer of tanghulu that had dropped to one side and scratched his head in a somewhat embarrassed manner. Looking around, he happened to see a tanghulu seller on one side - in order to please Liu Meng, Zhang Yang had specially called the tanghulu seller to follow them. He trotted over, somewhat begrudgingly fished out a copper coin and gave it to the stand owner then took away a tanghulu skewer.
"Miss, I compensate you with a tanghulu skewer. Hope you'll forgive me. I really didn't..."
"Bang!" When Bai Yunfei was still talking, he felt a great force hitting him in the left side of his waist then a surge of severe pain. His whole body was immediately sent flying to one side!
Zhang Yang slowly pulled back his right leg. He was trembling all over, his face full of savagery. There was nothing left of the elegant young nobleman image before. He was staring at Bai Yunfei,who was lying on the ground, not trying to conceal the strong killing intent that filled his eyes at all.
"You lowly pleb! Don't you dare disrespect or flirt with my Meng'er! You... I will kill you!"