As the sun began its ascent, warm morning sunlight shined down on the City of Great Zhou, brightening the place.
Great Zhou Royal Palace.
Zhou Yuan had been unable to sleep for the entire night. By the time he rushed to the palace gates, the imperial guards were already respectfully standing there. The thousand strong imperial guards wore heavy armour and wielded spears which flickered with cold light. It was a powerful military force.
Zhou Qing sat on a fine fiery-red horse. He smiled as he watched Zhou Yuan hurry over and asked, “Are you ready?”
Today was Great Zhou’s ancestor offering ceremony.
Zhou Yuan forcefully nodded his head while hope surged in his eyes. He knew that whether or not the eight meridian channels in his body would surface again, allowing him to begin channel opening cultivation, would hinge upon this very day.
A guard led another fiery-red steed over. Flames burned at the tip of the horse’s tail, but its head was that of a ferocious-looking lion.
This creature was known as the Fire Lion-Horse, and was a grade 1 Genesis Beast. It was able to gallop a thousand miles without rest.
The originally irritable Fire Lion-Horse had long since been tamed. Thus, when Zhou Yuan mounted it, it merely swung its flaming tail for a moment before calming down again.
Zhou Yuan pulled the horse reins. The youth’s pitch-black pupils seemed to burn as he opened his mouth and said, “Let’s go father.”
Zhou Qing chuckled and nodded his head, before waving his hand.
A horn sounded and the thousand-men force swiftly turned into a torrent that engulfed Zhou Qing and Zhou Wei, protecting them within it. Next, they surged out of the royal palace with rumbling sounds of movement, travelling along the city streets as they hurried towards the city exit.
The Great Zhou royal clan ancestral land was also where the Great Zhou royal tomb was located. Although the royal tomb was about a hundred miles from Great Zhou city, given their pace, they would reach their destination in four hours.
Under a lofty green mountain, Zhou Qing and Zhou Yuan got off their horses while the imperial guards spread out and positioned themselves at the various entry points. Even a bird would be killed if it neared.
“This is where the tomb of our Great Zhou royal clan is located.”
Zhou Qing pointed at the majestic green mountain before their eyes. After being silent for some time, he slowly said, “Back then, this was where our Zhou clan began and after much hard work, we eventually created the Great Zhou Empire. I just never imagined that our forefathers’ efforts would be beaten back to its original shape at my hands.”
Zhou Yuan looked at Zhou Qing’s somewhat dejected face and softly said, “Father should not blame himself, the Wu clan were scheming and heartless and no one could have predicted that they would plot for a hundred years. The fault does not lie with father.”
Zhou Qing bitterly laughed. He did not speak any further on the topic and merely walked towards the stone steps. “Follow me.”
Zhou Yuan nodded and quickly caught up.
The stone steps led to the peak. There were nine thousand and ninety nine steps which reached straight into the clouds.
The two wore solemn expressions as they slowly ascended. An incense stick of time later, they finally reached the peak where a black shrine stood. The shrine was ancient and seemed to have bathed in the rays of countless moons.
These three mountain ranges snaked along the ground like hidden dragons. They surrounded and protected the green mountain below Zhou Yuan’s feet like three dragons coiling around a pearl. A majestic aura seemed to rise spontaneously when one watched them.
“What a powerful presence.” Zhou Yuan praised. Looks like their Zhou clan ancestral grounds had excellent fengshui*. No wonder they had been able to establish an empire.
Zhou Qing smiled and said, “Luck exists in this world, and this land contains a part of it. The fact that our Zhou clan was able to rise to power is mostly thanks to the fengshui* of our ancestral land.”
Zhou Yuan pursed his lips and replied, “The land’s fengshui* did play a part, but the greater part was still due to our forefathers’ efforts. As the saying goes, the universe never stops so the nobleman must ceaselessly strive. As long as one works hard to improve, there will be a chance to change one’s fortunes no matter how bad the hand one is dealt.”
“Likewise, regardless of how great one’s hand, the one that reaps what others have sown will always be in danger of being defeated.”
Although the youth’s voice sounded somewhat immature, the determination that faintly seeped out was taken note of by Zhou Qing as the smile on his face grew even wider.
“Looks like the bitter experiences over the years were not completely bad.”
Zhou Qing tousled Zhou Yuan’s hair before walking into the shrine. As Zhou Yuan followed, he saw the many memorial tablets within the large shrine amidst the lingering incense smoke, tablets which belonged to the forefathers of the Great Zhou royal clan. Under Zhou Qing’s lead, Zhou Yuan offered joss sticks and bowed at every tablet.
In the end, Zhou Qing’s steps paused before a memorial tablet at the deepest part of the shrine. This was the first emperor of their clan that had founded Great Zhou. After Zhou Qing paid his respects, he reached out and lightly turned the tablet.
A rumbling noise was immediately heard when the tablet was turned. Zhou Yuan watched in astonishment as as a thick and heavy set of secret stone doors slowly cracked open on the wall behind the memorial tablet.
The interior of the stone doors were filled with a deep darkness, and appeared rather mysterious.
Zhou Qing’s expression was somewhat complicated as he gazed at the stone doors and said, “Whether or not you will be able to open your meridian channels and start cultivating will depend on this place.”
Upon hearing this, Zhou Yuan’s expression grew nervous as his fists tightly clenched. No matter how mature he was, he was after all still a child and was hence unable to maintain his calm before important matters related to opening his meridian channels.
Zhou Qing glanced at Zhou Yuan before walking past the stone doors. Behind them was a long stone corridor. Lamps burned on the floor of the corridor, giving the place a dusky lighting.
The two did not speak. Only the faint sound of footsteps filled the corridor.
After walking for about a dozen minutes, Zhou Qing’s and Zhou Yuan’s footsteps finally stopped. They had reached the end of the corridor, and a vast ancient cavern had appeared before their eyes.
At the end of the cavern stood a stone platform.
Zhou Qing headed straight for the stone platform. Only at this moment did Zhou Yuan discover that the numerous ancient Genesis Runes were carved onto the surface of the stone platform. These Genesis Runes formed a certain picture.
With Zhou Yuan’s current understanding of Genesis Runes, he was completely unable to recognize what grade these Genesis Runes were. Just vaguely trying to picture them in his mind made his spirit greatly exhausted, leaving him feeling a little light-headed. Hence, he immediately withdrew his gaze.
“Father…” Zhou Yuan looked towards Zhou Qing. Could the solution to the gordian knot of his missing eight meridian channels be found here?
Zhou Qing’s expression grew more solemn as he gazed at the ancient Genesis Runes on the stone platform and said, “A certain secret saying has been passed down in our Zhou clan. It says that a great destiny is hidden in this secret room that can help our Zhou clan truly flourish for ten thousand years.”
“The key to this great destiny is the blood of our Zhou clan’s successor. However, although every successive emperor has come here in an attempt to unlock the great destiny with his blood, every single one of them ultimately failed.”
At this point, he looked towards Zhou Yuan before continuing. “That is why I have brought you here to see if you are able to unlock this great destiny. If you are successful, solving the problem of your eight meridian channels should not be hard.”
Zhou Yuan gazed at the ancient stone platform in amazement. He had evidently never expected that such a secret saying had been passed down in their Zhou clan.
“Go on.” Zhou Qing said as he patted Zhou Yuan’s shoulders.
Zhou Yuan took in a deep breath. His heart was thumping like a drum, but he still mustered his courage and walked onto the stone platform before seating himself amongst the many ancient and mysterious Genesis Runes.
He took out a small sharp knife and gritted his teeth as he moved it across his wrist. Fresh blood immediately flowed out and spread along the groves of the Genesis Runes.
In the short span of several breaths, the Genesis Runes on the stone platform had taken on the color of fresh red blood.
Outside the stone platform, Zhou Qing watched this scene with eyes filled with anxiety as his fists subconsciously clenched tightly.
As Zhou Yuan felt the flowing fresh blood, his young and somewhat scholarly face instantly turned even paler. His unwavering gaze was fixed on the complicated Genesis Runes while his heart thunderously beated.
“Is this my last chance…”
Zhou Yuan tightly gritted his teeth and endured the waves of dizziness that battered at this mind. At this very moment, the scene of his mother, Qin Yu, vomiting blood once again surfaced before his eyes, causing waves of piercing pain to spread in his heart.
“For my sake, mother’s health was greatly affected and her lifespan was cut!”
“For me, father lost an arm to king Wu!”
“My destiny was stolen, my sacred dragon root damaged and poison gnaws at my life!”
“Great Zhou is a mess inside while danger lurks outside. We risk being overthrown at any time!”
“Therefore, I want to change all of this. I want to help mother recover her lost lifespan and father regain his aspirations. I want to ensure that my people no longer have to worry or be afraid. I want to take back everything that I have lost!”
“... this great destiny is mine!”
Howls abruptly rang out in Zhou Yuan’s heart. In that split second, Zhou Yuan’s body seemed to shake violently, as if a furious and unresigned dragon roar was echoing from the deepest recesses of his body.
It was at this very moment that blinding light exploded from the bloodied ancient Genesis Runes. The light converged like silver water and rapidly swallowed Zhou Yuan.
This sudden turn of events caused Zhou Qing to be stunned. He hastily looked towards Zhou Yuan and watched in shock as Zhou Yuan vanished into thin air...