Chapter 2: Profiting from a Disaster
Yang Qi couldn’t have been more demoralized.
With a single palm strike, Luo Hun crippled his sea of energy, destroying his energy arts and ensuring that his cultivation base had no hope of ever progressing.
And who could ever have guessed that he would then have the misfortune of being struck by lightning?
As the mighty lightning bolt slammed into the tree, and then him, his eyes felt like they were going to explode, forcing him to close them.
‘Am I going to die?’ he thought. ‘Well, I guess that would be good. Then I wouldn’t have to endure being a laughingstock the rest of my life.’
As the lightning entered his body, he felt unprecedented pain and heat, as though millions upon millions of blades were slicing into his flesh and bones.
However, he didn’t die. The power of the lightning ripped through his muscles, his skeleton, and his meridians, eventually causing a vortex to spring up in his dantian region.
As a result, his destroyed sea of energy suddenly underwent strange and bizarre transformations. The spiraling electricity began to assume a shape, until it looked like a violent, berserk mammoth, almost dragon-like in its ferocity.
If anyone had been able to witness what was happening inside of him, they would have seen what looked like an enormous mammoth made of lightning, trumpeting like mad.
The lightning did not dissipate; it coursed down through the tree into Yang Qi, causing the tree to burst into flame.
Eventually, Yang Qi saw a tiny golden person in the lightning, who flew directly into his forehead. After that, his mind felt like it was bulging on the verge of exploding, whereupon he passed out.
The guards, who were out of the forest by this time, were all visibly taken aback. They were close enough to have clearly seen the lightning striking the tree and catching it on fire. And they could even see Yang Qi slumped down into the mud, seemingly dead.
« What do we do now? » said one of the guards.
« Him getting struck by lightning doesn’t have anything to do with us, » said another.
« You go back to the city to report the matter to the exalted Luo Hun. The kid committed an unforgivable crime, but he does come from a rich and powerful clan, after all. If he dies like this and the matter isn’t handled properly, it could cause big problems in Yanhaven. »
One of the other guards immediately turned to run back to the city.
However, before he could take more than a few steps, he saw a hulking figure up ahead, clad in metal armor.
Breaking out in a cold sweat, the guard flopped down into the mud. « Luo Hun, sir! »
« Struck dead by lightning…? » Luo Hun muttered, his eyes flashing like an animal’s as he walked up to Yang Qi. Reaching out with his hand, he sent a stream of energy into Yang Qi, only to find nothing unusual. His meridians and sea of energy were still destroyed, and his body was charred and blackened. « He was injured by the lightning strike, and his meridians and sea of energy are completely destroyed. But he’s alive. »
« Really? »
Even as Luo Hun inspected Yang Qi, a handful of men strode up, clad in luxuriously-tailored garments. They were important people from Yanhaven, one of which had long white hair, and seemed to be a steward from one of the clans in the city. After examining Yang Qi, he said, « Well, now we don’t have to bring this punk back for questioning. And we certainly don’t have to execute him. Send him back to the Yang Clan, and while you’re at it, send them this message from the city magistrate: because a Yang Clan delinquent stole a Latent Dragon Pill, the Yang Clan will provide full compensation, even if they have to sell every last belonging. »
« Yes sir! » The guards grabbed Yang Qi and began to drag him back to Yanhaven.
The night passed quickly, and soon, it was a bright, sunny day.
The violent storm the night before had destroyed a lot of crops and livestock, and the mighty Yan River outside of the city had flooded. But now, the rain was passed, and the temperature was already rising.
The Yang Clan, one of the most rich and powerful clans in Yanhaven, was completely abuzz. Servants scurried back and forth, the special guards were on high alert, and the servant girls, handmaidens, and older female servants were whispering amongst themselves in every corner of the clan.
A sharp-tongued old woman was currently in the middle of giving a vivid account of what had occurred, and although she tried to keep her voice down, it was impossible for her to hide her gloating smirk.
« Something major is going down for our Yang Clan, did you hear? Last night, Clan Lord Yang Zhan’s son Yang Qi stole a treasure from the city magistrate. He got beat up half to death, had his energy arts crippled, and was bound to a tree. Then he got struck by lightning! After they brought him back, he lay in bed all night, struggling to breathe. He could die at any moment…. » 
Next to speak was one of the more faithful servants to the clan. « That’s right. And the city magistrate issued an ultimatum. The Yang Clan has three days to pay back the price of the stolen treasure, which means that the clan is going to go almost completely bankrupt…. »
Many of the young servant girls were completely bowled over by that news. « The clan’s going to go bankrupt? How will we ever recover? »
« What about the other rich and powerful clans? Chen, Wang, Hong, and Li? They’ve never liked our Yang Clan, and will definitely jump at the chance to hit us while we’re down. »
« Yeah, the Yang Clan is in big trouble this time. That silkpants Yang Qi didn’t think at all about what he was doing, and ended up causing a huge disaster. Heh heh. His father Yang Zhan is the clan lord, but I bet his position isn’t going to be very stable after this. »
« Someone who works for the city magistrate told me that Yang Qi did it for a girl. That’s why he stole the treasure. »
« Bah! Silkpants like him are the most wicked scoundrels of all. They always cause problems! » One of the servants even went so far as to say, « It’s good thing his energy arts were crippled. Without any martial arts, he’ll be completely useless. »
Some of the servants were gloating in Yang Qi’s misfortune, others worried about the future of the clan, and some even cursed Yang Qi.
Meanwhile, in a courtyard in the middle of the clan, which was nested in a maze of corridors and verandas, a tall, well-built man in brocaded clothing stood listening to a report about the situation.
A doctor was currently speaking. « Lord, Young Master Yang Qi has been stabilized. But he suffered burns across almost his entire body. His meridians were destroyed and his sea of energy shattered. His martial arts were completely crippled! He’s going to be handicapped for the rest of his life! »
« Crippled his martial arts? » Yang Zhan said. « Destroyed his sea of energy…? »
A massive palm strike smashed a nearby table into bits.
Splinters whistled through the air like wailing ghosts, many of them embedding into the ground nearby.
« The Yang Clan can compensate for a lost Latent Dragon Pill, » Yang Zhan continued, fuming. « But why did they have to cripple my son’s energy arts? Even cutting his arm off would have been better. With a limb lost, but his energy arts intact, he could still become a top expert. With crippled energy arts, he’ll never be able to converge energy. »
Also present was the clan steward. « Lord, what’s done is done. There’s nothing we can do about it now. The critical matter at hand is that the city magistrate has demanded compensation for the Latent Dragon Pill. I’m afraid the chief elders won’t just stand by while the clan goes bankrupt. Someone is definitely going to take advantage of this situation to try to seize power…. »
Yang Zhan snorted coldly. « Remember why I was able to seize the position of clan lord to begin with? It wasn’t by plotting, scheming and building alliances. It was because my energy arts and cultivation base were unmatchable. And that’s how things will remain. Let’s see if any of them are strong enough to take me out. Notify the chief elders that we’re going to have a clan forum in three days. We’ll talk things out with the subsidiary branches and figure out what to do. The city magistrate has given us enough time to raise the necessary money. »
« Yes, sir, » the steward said, nodding. He turned to leave, then stopped and asked, « What about Young Master Yang Qi? Considering the trouble he’s caused, the chief elders definitely won’t let him off the hook. »
« His martial arts were crippled and he was struck by lightning! » Yang Zhan said angrily. « Not even the city magistrate is interested in him. What are the chief elders going to do? Have him executed? If anybody dares to suggest laying a hand on my son, I won’t take the matter lying down. Another thing: I’m going to write a letter that I want delivered to Yang Qi’s aunt in the Demi-Immortal Institute. »
The steward’s eyes brightened. « Right! How could I have forgotten that we have the Young Lady on our side? »
The Young Lady he referred to was Yang Zhan’s adoptive sister, and thus Yang Qi’s aunt. She was a member of the number one most domineering organization on the Rich-Lush Continent, the Demi-Immortal Institute, which gave her a very different identity than in the past. She had been away from the Yang Clan for ten years, and was spectacularly talented. After all, she had been tutored in cultivation by one of the elders of the Demi-Immortal Institute since she was very young.
« Divine Doctor Cao, how badly is Qi’er hurt? » Yang Zhan asked. « Is there any medicine that can wake him up? Your medical expertise is spoken of everywhere in Yanhaven. You must know of a way to treat his injuries. »
« I’ve applied a topical ointment, » the doctor replied, « and used my energy arts to perform a medical massage. He should be back on his feet in a few days. His organs weren’t damaged, just his meridians and sea of energy. Of course, he won’t be able to practice cultivation after this. »
« Give ten energy convergence pills to Divine Doctor Cao as a reward, » Yang Zhan said, waving his hand. « When Qi’er wakes up, I’ll call for you again, doctor. »
Energy convergence pills were treated as currency in all of the shops and markets in the Rich-Lush Continent. They could also be used during the cultivation of energy arts to gather true energy, nourish the meridians, and expand the sea of energy.
« Yes sir…. » the old steward said, leading the doctor away.
Yang Zhan remained behind. Clenching his hands into fists, he murmured, « Qi’er, your mother left so early. And now we’re facing some major bad luck. I’ll do everything I can think of to restore your sea of energy, and make sure you can practice cultivation again. In the world we live in, it’s not an option to be so weak…. »
In another location deep within the Yang Clan, Yang Qi was awake and laying there quietly in bed.
The room was adorned with red velvet furnishings and expensive, ancient paintings. There was even a copper incense burner decorated with turtles and cranes, burning a very expensive type of incense. The level of wealth on display was staggering.
It was hot outside, but a cool breeze drifted by the room, its source being the large, mist-covered pond there. Trees next to the pond provided shade, and there were also numerous blocks of ice which had been placed in the area to provide further cooling. Next to the door was a young servant girl about eleven or twelve years old, whose head continued to bob up and down as she fought the urge to sleep.
Yang Qi was no longer in pain. As he laid there, he attempted to ascertain what the lightning strike had done to him. When he closed his eyes, he could see what appeared to be a fist-sized mammoth made of lightning, resting in his sea of energy. Virtually any outside stimuli would cause the mammoth to suddenly shrink down until it was a tiny dot, which was a good thing, because any powerful experts who examined him would notice nothing unusual.
Yang Qi could sense that the lightning mammoth contained massive destructive power, power so great that, if he could somehow release it in an attack, it would probably destroy the entire mansion he was in.
He had been struck by lightning, but hadn’t died; instead, the electricity entered him and took the shape of a mammoth and an imp. No matter how Yang Qi considered the situation, he couldn’t come up with any explanation of what was going on.
At one point, Yang Qi circulated his energy, and the golden imp appeared in his forehead.
The imp then spoke into his mind, in a stentorian voice that no one else could hear.
« Fail to succeed, break to found. Unparalleled under heaven…. »