Ascending The Heavens Chapter 1: The End

Proofers/Editors: nick0 

Thank you Nicko for proofing 😀 Hope you all enjoy the read 🙂

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A blood red moon hung high in the sky, with its illuminating rays drifting down below. Underneath the moon's gaze was a young man clad in bloodstained armor who looked no older than fifteen years of age.

What was this young man doing outside at this hour? Why was he clad in armor soaked in blood?

Simply by looking at his surrounding, anyone would be able to find the answer. All around this young man were thousands of lifeless bodies and a sea of blood, along with dozens of flickering flames. Many would call this a living hell while others would call it a battlefield.

The young man continued walking through the battle without a shred of willpower in his eyes, while a blood stained sword was dragged along in his hand.

It was not until he happened upon a mangled corpse that a sliver of emotion appeared on his face.

Looking down at the lifeless corpse draped in the remnants of a flag with the word Shu on it, the man broke into tears. Soon the sliver of emotion on his face turned into a flood. Fear, anger, loss, mixed and were all on full display.

"Dammit? Dammit all! You lied to me! You swore that even though we weren't born on the same day of the same month of the same year, we would die on the same day of the same month of the same year! You lied to me Brother Xu Huang! You lied!” The young man cried in grief as his legs gave out and he fell to his knees before his lifeless friend.

After releasing a bit of the sorrow that filled his body, exhausted the young man fell over. Lying amidst the countless corpses of friends and enemies, he fell into a deep slumber.

In a death like sleep, visions of the past shrouded the young man’s mind. Scenes of his mother, father, and sister would play over and over in his mind, reminding him of what he had and what he had lost.

The large home that turned into cinders, the family that died, the life of the scholar that was tossed away. All of these things that he failed to protect.

Soon the scenes mended together and created a lifelike dream.

“Bring him out here!” A muscular soldier yelled as he held a scroll in his hand.

“But milord our son is only fifteen this year.” A woman in her thirties plead.

“Bring Zhou Zhang out here! By orders of his majesty every male from the ages of fifteen to thirty five, who is of able body is to report to the front lines to repel the Zhao scum.” The muscular soldier said.

With that Zhou Zhang was plucked from his everyday life filled of learning and joy and thrown into one full of death and despair.

The state of Shu in the Wulin continent, located to the south of the Great Demon’s Forest, was currently being invaded by the state of Zhao.

Not long after his departure, Zhang's hometown was attacked by an enemy force that snuck through the front lines and slaughtered everyone.

Soon with their armies broken, the king of Shu in a last ditch effort ordered for all able men to be gathered and sent to the frontlines. In a futile attempt that resulted in the annihilation of the State of Shu. Every man, woman and child was put to the sword by the Zhao soldiers and the last battalion that Zhang was apart of was scattered to the wind in their last stand.

Without proper training, men who have never even killed a chicken in their entire lifetime, stood no chance against the veteran Zhao soldiers.

Zhang laid in the field of corpses until the sun rose high in the sky. Until he woke up screaming, due to the scene of him taking another person's life appearing in his dream.

“Am I really the last one? The last of the Shu army?” Zhang asked himself as his gaze roamed the lifeless battlefield.

“That fool… We should have surrendered when we were given the chance…” Zhang muttered as he remembered how his commanding officer went on about how they would certainly prevail if they fought on.

“Brother Shu Shang let me take you home. Those Zhao bastards are long gone, we have nothing to worry about.” Zhang said as he got to his feet and began dragging his friend’s lifeless body along with him.

He was heading toward the broken city gates that laid in ruin not too far from the battlefield.

“To think I would end up where I started.” He said in a mocking laugh.

Zhang dragged Shu Shang`s corpse through the familiar streets which he once called home. The school where he once studied, in the hopes of one day becoming a government official, the broken remains of his ancestral home, everything left in ruin.

“Brother this is my home.” Zhang said as he and Shu Shang’s corpse arrived at large plot of charred earth, with only the remnants of a gate still erected.

He continued to drag his friend’s corpse as he walked into what used to be a large courtyard with tens of servants running around doing this and that. Now all what is left were a few black charred trees and a stone table.

Zhang’s family had been the wealthiest family in this city for generations, his entire family's fortune was said to worth more than the city itself. But what could money do when faced with arrows and swords?

When the Zhao invaded they swept through the state of Shu in an instant and no amount of money could save anyone.

“Brother let me show you where I buried my family.” Zhang said as he walked up to the stone table. With a bit of strength he began turning the table. Two full rotations clockwise and then a half rotation counterclockwise.

Soon a rumble sound began to sound and the stone floor beneath the table slid open, revealing a flight of stone stairs.

At once Zhang began descending the stairs with Shu Shang in tow. Moments after he walked inside, the entrance to the staircase slowly closed and not a trace of it remained.

“Brother, sadly your home was burned to ashes too or else I'd bury you there. But if you're not against it I'll place you in my ancestral crypt. Well it's not like you can refuse me.” Zhang said with a dry laugh.

One could say that he was bordering on the edge of insanity because he was currently talking to a corpse. But it could be said that everyone had a few screws loose. Had he been perfectly fine with his family and friends being killed, then that would be truly insane.

“We are finally here.” Zhang said as he arrived at the front of a large pair of stone gates.

From beneath his armor, Zhang produced a jade pendant which he placed in an opening in one of the stone gates. Acting as a key the jade pendant unlocked the stone gates.

As Zhang pushed one of the gates open a dazzling light reflected onto his face. In front of him were mountains of gold and jade, that the Zhou Clan had collected for generations.

But ignoring it all, Zhang dragged Shu Shang’s body through the crypt. It was not long before he arrived in front of another set of gates. However unlike the other ones, these gates did not require a key because with a bit of strength, Zhang pushed them open.

On the other side of them were hundreds of holes cut into the the rock beneath the mansion. In each hole laid a set of skeletons, deceased members of Zhang’s clan.

“I'll find a empty spot for you to rest brother.” Zhang said as he began looking for a vacant hole to place Shu Shang’s body inside.

But once he found a spot to place his dear friend in, an excruciating pain overcame his body as he hoisted Shu Shang`s body up. Blood began gushing out from his side, creating a small puddle beneath his feet and soon fell over in pain.

“Gahh…” Zhang yelled, a wound that he had received on the battlefield had just opened up and he was bleeding tremendous amounts of blood.

“Guess I'll be joining you guys soon…” Zhang muttered with a smile, as his hand that he used to press against the wound was stained red.

In front of him the sight of his friends and family waiting for him to join them popped up in Zhang’s head.

However that was when he heard footsteps other than his echo in the distance. Looking at the entrance into the burial chamber, Zhang spotted an elderly man with long floating white hair. This elderly man had a mysterious air emanating around him. that made him seem like a person not of this world.

Without anywhere to hide and with no reason to, Zhang pulled himself up and drew his sword from it’s scabbard.

“WHO ARE YOU!!!” He roared madly with his sword drawn, his voice somewhat strained due to how much pain he was in.

The elderly man was currently invading Zhang’s last sanctuary, his family’s legacy. All of it was here and anyone who dares to trespass, be it man, demon or god, would be met with resistance.

The current Zhang had nothing else to lose, so there was not even a hint of fear or hesitation in his eyes. Everything he held dear was snatched away from him, leaving Zhang without any shackles. His life was slowly but surely fading away, so even if he did nothing it would be the end of him. So as his final act he wished to protect the last place he could call home.

Strangely when the elderly man turned his gaze toward Zhang, a brilliant smile was brushed on his face.

As Zhang opened his mouth to speak, but before he could utter a single word, a glowing pellet shot out from the elderly man’s hand and into Zhang’s mouth. In an instant, Zhang felt every fiber of his body tingling, soon a raging burning sensation overcame him, causing him to drop to the ground and roll about in pain. After a few moments, unable to bear the pain, Zhang fainted ands was released from the excruciating pain.

“Benefactor, I’m sorry I failed you. I, Lao Zhizhe, have failed you.” The elderly man said as he walked up to a altaer in the center of the crypt. On top of the altar was a large lifelike statue of a young aged man and in his hands was a wooden plaque with words that were scratched out.  Around this man’s neck a necklace with a dragon carved on it could be seen. Of course this necklace was a part of the statue itself. This man happened to be the man Zhang was named after.

“Sadly I still don't know your name, but that matters not. I'll make sure to protect this last descendant of yours.” Lao Zhizhe said as he eyed Zhang, who was laying unconscious.

Then after kow towing three times, the man stood up and with a wave of his hand, Zhang’s body was sucked into a pouch hanging by his waist. Afterwards he began striding out of the crypt and soon enough sunlight shone onto his snow white hair.

Once outside the man leaped into the air and from his pouch  that Zhang was sucked into a gleaming sword shot out. Then as lightly as a feather the elderly man landed atop of the sword, which was floating in mid air. Anyone who saw this scene would most likely fall to their knees and kowtow to him, thinking he was some sort of deity.

“Since you’ll probably never be coming back here, I should pack your things for you.” Lao Zhizhe said as four talismans shot out from his sleeve and stuck themselves in a square atop the ground where the crypt was.

Once the talismans were in place, Lao Zhizhe began chanting and the talismans began glowing. Soon a dazzling light enveloped the area that was in the center of the talismans and a rumbling sound became audible. In an instant a ray ofut light shot up into Lao Zhizhe’s hand, and once it disappeared a ring could be seen in his palm, whereas a large crater could be seen down below where the talismans had been.

“Damn… Not at a time like this...” Lao Zhizhe said as his ruddy face turned pale white, and moments later he coughed up a mouth full of blood.

“It seems I don’t have much time left… Must get him back to the sect before.. I run out of time…” Lao Zhizhe muttered as the sword he was standing on top of began piercing through the air. Like a shooting star the sword carried him over rivers and mountains.

Soon he flew over a large waterfall with a giant statue etched into the face of the cliff behind it. Had Zhang been awake he would be able to tell that the statue a monument for the greatest king of the Shu Kingdom was,that was the statue a monument for the greatest king of the Shu Kingdom, the kingdom that had once been a force to be reckoned with. A kingdom that was ruled by a king that his dear friend was named after, King Shu Shang. Legends say that King Shu Shang ascended to the heavens and after he was gone his descendants sent the kingdom into ruin and over time a the mighty kingdom became a small city state.

After flying pasts King Shu Shang’s monument, Lao Zhizhe flew over countless mountains and dozens of lakes, without rest. What could take days to transverse, took him minutes. What would take a few months to travel, took him hours. In the blink of an eye, Lao Zhizhe left the borders of the state of Shu and entered the State of Zhao. But it did not take long for him to fly past it’s borders too.

He flew until the sunset before landing in the vast wilderness of some unknown forest.

“It’ll take roughly another week's worth of flying before we reach the sect, thankfully the pill's effects will last for another ten days or else a mortal like him would never be able to survive a trip such as this.” Lao Zhizhe said, referring to Zhang who was fast asleep inside the pouch  hanging by his waist.

“Although I don’t have much time left, I’ll make sure that at least you’ll be able to live in safety. It’s the least I can do for, benefactor’s last bloodline. But who knows what’s there to stop one from reaching for the stars and ascending to the heavens? Perhaps you’ll use that pain and agony that’s eating away at your very being and make something of it.” He said as he looked at the pouch ed in which Zhang was in.

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And yes i like the name Zhang for some reason lmao, hope no one minds O_O

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