Exalted Toxin Lord - Chapter 1
Where the hills came to an end, where the forest’s turned to sand and where the rivers converged to mist, was a land of plague, famine, war and death.
In this sprawling continent filled with not much other than waste, stood whole kingdoms of man.
How these beings managed to live here was a mystery to those outside.
As for those inside, they were long since tempered to living their harsh lives in this damnable place. They didn’t give it an extra thought. They were more focused on how to put bread on the table and live their everyday lives than to think of things beyond them.
As such, it was only natural that the people didn’t have time to waste on others. They were barely getting by themselves. So, when one suffered through hardship, there would be no one around to lend a helping hand.
In fact, the hardships of one man might even be another’s chance at an extra meal. Such was life in Lang Du.
There was no such thing as kinship here. It only existed in name. For big clans to seem bigger, they would act like brothers and sisters. But deep inside, all they cared about was self-interest. If someone were to ever be in trouble, most would first see what benefit helping would bring to themselves before making a move.
The same could be said about the prestigious Hua Clan of Gin City. In the whole 1,000 kilometre radius, it could be considered the number one existence, unrivalled in both strength and prestige. No one would dare to go against it, unless they were tired of living.
However, though this was the case, one would be naive to think that all members born within the clan were equally blessed.
This couldn’t be any further from the truth. It was completely wrong!
Since the clan had been around for more than a couple centuries, it had an incredibly complicated family tree. There were numerous side branches, a few main branches, and a central branch that controlled all.
So, with this being said, it made complete sense that not everyone within the clan received equal treatment.
This was especially true in the case of the young man presently standing in front of a food stall. He was currently wearing the clothes of the Hua Clan’s side branch. By the features on his face, he was actually quite average in appearance. There was nothing unusual about him, except for the uncanny deadness in his eyes.
Those eyes alone made him look like a walking corpse.
But this was not the point.
The point was that he had just reached into his coin purse and found that it was emptier than he’d like for it to be.
Nevertheless, a man needed to eat, so he begrudgingly took out a few pieces of copper from his bag and placed them into the shopkeeper’s hands.
Grabbing a piece of bread, the young man quickly left the bustling scene.
By the time he reached his destination, the bread which was once in his hands had already disappeared, much faster than his hard-earned money had.
Sighing, he stared at the tree in front of him.
The day was aging and he had a quota to fill. He needed to distance his mind from irrelevant thoughts and get back to work.
His job as a lowly vassal was to extract essence from the trees. The quickest way, other than spending a lot of time to properly puncture the tree with elaborate equipment, was to chip away at the tree’s bark.
Timing was very important.
Furthermore, all of these trees were considered his clan’s property, so destroying even a single one, or leaving irremovable marks, would lead to harsh penalties.
He needed to always keep in mind how much force he exerted, how much essence he extracted, how much he focused on a single area of the tree, the presence of animals nearby and much more.
It was by no means an easy job. Doing it 16 hours a day would always leave him drenched in sweat.
But it made him money. And money, regardless if you were a king or a peasant, was needed for survival.
The young man had no qualms against labouring like this if it meant he could live another day.
And so, the day came to a close in this manner.
One man and one tree.
One man and another tree.
One man and a whole forest of trees.
Lonely. Alone. No other company but the stillness of the wind and the raggedness of his breathing.
This was the average day in Hua Yan’s life.
When the last bits of light finally faded, and all was lit in darkness, Hua Yan finally put his hands away to rest.
He collected his three jars of Truewood Essence and packed them up into his bag. He then pulled out a bottle of crushed herbs that he had already prepared in advance
Applying some of it onto his bruised and aching hands, he made his way out of the forest. He didn’t even bother to light a lamp in the darkness, because the cost of oil was too much for him to sustain. Besides, after spending over 5 years in and out of the forest, he was quite familiar with this place.
As he neared the city gates, he felt his stomach grumble. He had already eaten, and this was what he told himself numerous times, but it made no sense for a young man of his age to be alright with only a tiny piece of bread.
Still, he grit his teeth and mastered his anger.
It was at this precise moment that he heard a whizzing sound cut past his ears.
It was turbulence in the air brought about by a sword strike!
Hua Yan managed to dodge it, not without getting a cut across his left cheek though.
Rolling to lessen the impact of his fall, Hua Yan faced his agresser.
It was a man with a thickly bearded face. He was wearing a mask, but it couldn’t hide his devious expression.
This man was undoubtedly a bandit. Perhaps someone that could not live in the city because of his crimes, and instead had to make a living by preying on people that walked the forest road.
Hua Yan was not surprised. This was not the first time he had faced such a character after all.
The world was not one that was easy to exist in. Everyone had their own share of difficulties. And those that couldn’t cope as well as the average person had to resort to thievery and other such vile acts in order to survive.
Such was life.
Hence, it wasn’t surprising that Hua Yan met no small amount of people that tried to take what was his for their own benefit.
Did Hua Yan blame them? Maybe he didn’t.
But this wouldn’t make him bend over and be stepped on by them. Not in the slightest!
After all, it was either hunt or be hunted. To try and choose a peaceful route was foolish and impractical.
In the heat of the moment, when the blades were already drawn, it would be too risky to demand a ceasefire.
So Hua Yan readied himself.
The bandit had chosen this part of the forest since it was far enough from the city gates that no guards would venture by, but close enough so that people heading into the city would travel it.
Hua Yan could try to run or scream, but even that would be foolish, because there was no saying how many other bandits were lying in wait.
His best option now was to fight.
He’d rather face one visible danger than a hundred hidden ones.
He was going to take the initiative before it was stolen from him.