“What are Chaos stones doing in this realm?” Hihi’s childish voice suddenly rang out in Zilan’s mind.
“These are Chaos stones? How is that possible? Why did they crack then?” asked Zilan.
A smug ‘Hmph!’ could be heard from the small dragon before he said,
“These are probably the lowest grade Chaos stones however, Hihi believes the reason for them cracking is mostly because of you and whoever was using it before.”
Zilan remained silent as he brought up a few pages on Chaos stones he had written on in the past. After reading through it, he looked at the gems embedded on the ring and felt that the two although similar did not appear to be the same.
There was a saying by a Master long ago regarding Chaos stones that Zilan had taken to heart,
“By itself a Chaos stone is limited and in most cases useless however, once combined with something else, the stone will absolutely not disappoint.”
The other name for Chaos stones was ‘Ultimate catalyst stone’, and this was because they possessed the amazing ability of being able to bond with anything and create a treasure.
The origin of the chaos stones is unknown and finding one, let alone four was extremely difficult and was entirely dependent on luck. However, there was one place where these stones could be found in abundance but unfortunately an equivalent price would need to be paid if one wished to take them.
This price was pain and hardship! The realm where these Chaos stones could be found in spades, is a type of environment that even an existence like Zilan’s Grandmother, Sera the Spring Dragon would not dare enter lightly.
An example of the Chaos stones power can be seen in an instance where a practitioner throws a fire ball at it. The next thing that would happen would be the stone turning into a fire tool whose power would be multiple times stronger than the fireball.
Its uses were many and was not to be confined by such a primitive example. The stone could be used in any Alchemy and Spirit experiment making whatever that was being crafted infinitely more valuable and useful.
The uses of the stones didn’t stop there though because if it did then why would powerful non-Alchemist practitioners seek them out. In truth, the stones real value laid in the fact that it could also allow intellectual and spatial entities to influence it.
A prime demonstration would be the scorched fate ring which contained knowledge of fate and was clearly programmed with a set of commands that made it work properly.
The real priceless function of the Chaos stones though, was in fact its ability to create an entire world with certain sets of instructions and scenery as well as a practitioner’s entire knowledge if they wished, all from nothing but energy combined with mental guidance. It could even change shape and turn into anything a Master wanted.
Zilan already possessed something that had been crafted with the help of Chaos stones and that was the Cloud Inheritance Palace which had already existed but in order to pass it onto the weak Zilan, a vessel was required.
“These aren’t Chaos stones!” Zilan deduced.
If they were then something would have appeared when he stared at them with his scorched eyes. He believed them to be something his Ancestor had created using the Chaos stones as a basis.
Of course, Hihi did not know any of this so he continued on with his arrogant lecture. He didn’t care if Zilan was listening or not, he only did it to confirm to himself that he really was an unparalleled genius in both strength and brains.
“These stones must have cracked because you exceeded the programming and also because they’ve been used for far too long. Their energy is finally depleted.” said Hihi.
“Exceeded the programming?” Despite the arrogant proclamation, Zilan felt that the analysis made sense and he wanted to know more.
“Mm. Hihi believes that the person who created this ring was weaker than you and he most likely programmed it to draw out all his potential so that he could see to his maximum power. Naturally since you activated it, the ring tried to draw out all of your power but because of your higher strength and the fact that it’s extremely old, it was unable to complete its objective.”
Zilan couldn’t find a point to disagree with after listening to the whole statement. In fact, he had a new found appreciation for Hihi as he was definitely a being that had seen many things in his lifetime.
“Hehe, isn’t Hihi great? Hmph! This genius has blessed you with some enlightening knowledge and you don’t even thank Hihi? See if I help you again!” He said these words expecting Zilan to immediately apologise and give thanks however, he was met with a completely different response.
“How can a person thank his meal for tasting good?” After saying that with a happy smile, Zilan’s door suddenly knocked.
Just in time too, since it was clear that Hihi was about to explode in anger.
“You can come in.” responded Zilan.
In came Kifo with a complicated expression on his face.
“What is it?” asked Zilan.
“Fath…Clan leader has asked me to inform you that the people who are going to take you to the Alchemy Association have arrived. He also requested that you read his note and ensure the safety of the item.”
As soon as Zilan heard the awkward pause and confusion in Kifo’s voice, he had already understood the situation.
“So she told you?”
“Yes.” Said Kifo.
“Everything?” Kifo silently nodded.
“Even about me? About who I really am?”
Kifo avoided Zilan’s gaze with slight fear clearly visible in his eyes.
“I see….so now what?”
Kifo looked at Zilan completely confused,
“What do you mean? Wasn’t I…”
“I understand my obligation and task however, I have my own goals that I must achieve. My life is my own to dictate! Do you really have no plan? No ambition? No goal? If that is the case then…._”
Before he could finish, Kifo suddenly interrupted him saying,
“I want to know what I am. Grandmama told me that by following you my path will be made clear, is that true?”
“It is! However, my path is one that will be filled with blood and countless obstacles. If you wish to follow then you need to show me you can endure what is coming.” stated Zilan.
“How do I do that?”
Zilan then took out a pill from his voidless sack and threw it towards Kifo,
“Swallow it and endure. If you succeed then you can come along but in the case that you fail, you will wait for me here and only when I have completed my task at the Alchemy Association will I come and fetch you.
I need to warn you though, if you are weak minded then this test could seriously impact your future cultivation. Whether or not you take it is up to you.”
After finishing his sentence Zilan simply ignored Kifo and put his hand into the voidless sack given to him by the Clan leader. He slowly pulled out what appeared to be a fang of some sort, extremely cold to the touch, to the point that he even needed to employ some blood force to restrain the cold energy from entering inside him.
Wrapped around the tip of the fang was small black cloth. Zilan undid its bindings and read out the words written on it,
“Delivery of this fang equals a life debt that I, as the Patriarch of the Lingering Darkness clan will definitely repay!”
Once he was done reading, Zilan destroyed the note and placed all of the items including the scorched fate ring into his own voidless sack. He then turned towards Kifo who blankly stared at the violet coloured pill in his hands.
“That pill is…”
Before he could explain what the pill was, Zilan was stunned to see Kifo suddenly swallow it. His eyes revealed a powerful resolution, like he had decided to take a step forward and never again would he look back.
It had to be known that not even an hour had passed since Kifo had been informed that he was actually not the son of this clans leader. However, for some odd reason he was not entirely broken up about that. In truth, he had already suspected that something about him was different on numerous occasions but he just did not wish to admit it.
He lived a life that he genuinely enjoyed. Even though there were many things he could not have, he still felt blessed to be loved and to be a part of something bigger than himself. His greatest wish was to grow up one day and shoulder the responsibility of leading his family against their overlords, becoming an independent clan but now, he knew not who he was and the only one who could give him answers was the kid before him, who was also a mystery.
The only thing he could do now was do what all men should do when faced with adversity, move forward! If a mountain appears, climb it! If an ocean blocks your path, then swim throught it! Kifo had always been resolute whenever he made a decision and today was no different. He would either seek out the answers himself and probably fail or he would follow this youth on a journey his Grandmama called ‘fated’.
As Zilan watched this, an unexpected smile bloomed on his face. If one thought about it carefully, his circumstances as well as Kifo’s were oddly similar. The only difference being, one act was born from love while the acts that forced him to live a lie, were born from pure greed.
Two people manipulated by outside parties and both had chosen to resolutely move forward. The only question that remained was whether or not Kifo could endure the pill Zilan had given him.
“For ten minutes you will suffer in your deepest nightmare however, within your mind it will feel like a week. If you are able to speak soundly once the time passes, I will have no objections towards your joining me.”
Of course, having already been immersed in the nightmarish world Kifo could absolutely not hear Zilan’s words, especially the next few ones.
“If you can successfully endure, your cultivation should also benefit. Especially your soul.”
The pill Zilan had prepared could be described as a double edged sword. He had initially prepared it for his own use, in order to train his mental energy and properly stabilize it however, the fact that he needed to test Kifo was something he couldn’t take lightly and absolutely needed to be carried out.
After all, what was fate to Zilan other than something that tried to bar his way at every opportunity. Just because someone told him that he and Kifo were fated to be comrades didn’t mean he needed to listen and then instantly welcome him like a long lost brother.
Better than anyone, Zilan was aware of how dangerous the people who were after him really were therefore he would absolutely not allow his life to be threatened because of a mysterious person’s ‘story’. In fact, if Kifo had been reluctant to take the test or had threatened Zilan even indirectly, then his life would have ended in that instant.
Luckily, Kifo acted in a way that reminded Zilan of himself. Besides, if the two really were fated to meet then it was probably a forgone conclusion that Kifo also possessed powerful enemies otherwise why seclude him.
“Two minutes remain….” whispered Zilan.
If Kifo passed, then Zilan was seriously going to take him under his wing. They both shared a bond that involved Zilan’s Ancestor and that Grandmama’s ‘Master’. Thus for the sake of the past generations of his bloodline, Zilan would do his utmost and play his role.