“Wake up! Ya damn brat, the Sun’s up and yer still sleepin!” The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was that wrinkly, yet enormous hand reaching down and grabbing my hair. He directly pulled me out of bed and threw me onto the floor, before kicking me in the side. I flew across the room and crashed into the surprisingly durable wood paneling.
“Ow~, what the fucking fuck is wrong with you?! Shit, stop, okay?! My body is not strong enough to take this kinda punishment goddamn it!” After he hit me a few more times, it felt like at least three of my ribs were broken and there were bruises all over my back.
That crazy bastard yelled “Stop cursing and I’ll stop smacking ya around! Now get up and put some clothes on! It’s time fer breakfast and then we’re gonna do some exercises! Hurry yer ass up!”
I may be a masochist, but there’s nothing sexy about getting assaulted by a bald, bearded and extremely buff old Chinese guy. Okay, there are probably plenty of people out there who are into that kind of stuff. If only Long Di was just a woman with tons of testosterone… Anyway, there’s no point in fantasizing about that now.
As I coughed violently and struggled to stand, that asshole was already gone. I grumbled “Why do I feel like that cuntbag has no idea what the word ‘pacifist’ means?”
After I put my clothes on and went into the bathroom down the hall, I looked into the mirror above the sink and snickered uncontrollably. My relatively small nose wasn’t broken, but I had two black-eyes and my lips were covered in cuts. I muttered “This is definitely the reason why his daughter never visits… Damn~, well, whatever. Ugh, he might actually stop hitting me if I don’t curse as much… But~, he’ll probably just find other excuses to abuse me.”
It took a while for me to piss, but I didn’t bother taking a shower, because I had a feeling that it would have been pointless. Breakfast was a spinach salad, with baby kale, spring onions, hard-boiled eggs, shredded carrots, chunks of something that tasted like feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
“Honestly, if you didn’t cook, I would probably be able to hate you… I wonder if this is kind of like Stockholm Syndrome? If I tried to run away, would you let me leave or chain me up in the basement?”
Hearing that, Long Di glared at me and continued eating his salad. He took a sip of red wine and then bluntly stated “You ain’t a prisoner, yer my disciple… If ya really wanna go that badly then screw off already! I don’t take no pleasure in hurtin ya, but if ya wanna be strong, ya gotta be able ta endure pain… I’m tryin ta do ya a favor. There’s lots uh evil monsters out there that would murder ya or worse for being so disrespectful… I don’t want ya ta get yourself killed when ya eventually go out and see the world. Yer still a brat now, but when yer older and I’m dead, you’ll look back and feel grateful for the hospitality and kindness I showed ya now. Ah, and even if ya wanted ta leave, you’d probably get lost in ‘my’ woods or get eaten by any random Unranked Beast ya came across. Yer way too young and weak ta survive on yer own.”
I smirked, “Okay~, calm your massive muscular tits… You don’t need to ‘teach’ me about pain though. I’ve told you this already, but maybe you just didn’t believe me the first time; I’m not a child. In my last life I was already an adult and I’ve experienced plenty of agony in my relatively short life… Anyway, as long as you don’t try to rape or molest me-”
“Why the hell are ya still goin on about that?! Do ya really think I’m a pedophile?! Shit, I’m three-hundred and seventy-nine years old! My evil fire died out centuries ago! Even back then I ain’t never touched a brat! And I ain’t gay!” As he seemed on the verge of a heart attack, I was enjoying my salad. Seriously, even though I love meat and fish, I still went months at a time on something like a vegetarian diet in my old world. Since sex was basically a far-off dream for me, the most exciting thing in my pathetic life was definitely food. Eating sushi, sashimi, shellfish, basically any kind of seafood could make me content with my status as a permavirgin.
When breakfast was over, I followed the topless old body-builder outside. It was the middle of the day and the sun was glaring down onto us. There were all sorts of animals wandering around and most of them totally ignored us. However, there were twenty cats and ten dogs that immediately ran over and started begging Long Di. That ring on his left middle-finger glowed bright-orange and a bunch of raw meat flew out.
“I bought this shit in town a few years ago! Don’t look at me that way! I don’t kill Beasts or people!” Before I had the chance to say anything, he was already making excuses.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t care, even if it was Human flesh. Anyway, you said we were going to do some exercises… So, what exactly did you have in mind? I’m not a fan of running and I don’t have any shoes…” Then I noticed that there was a huge stainless steel jungle-gym over in the distance. There were ladders going up for dozens of meters, long and thin bars that were dangerously high above the ground, plus all sorts of other random designs. It definitely wasn’t something that ‘normal’ people would let their kids play on.
Maybe if I really was a child, I would have been a bit more enthusiastic, but all I felt was an intense urge to stay away from that death-trap. There was sand on the ground, though it wouldn’t be much help if I fell several stories or cracked my head open on one of the other bars.
Long Di casually instructed “You’re way too weak ta do weight trainin, so for now, ya gotta start out with somethin pretty safe. Now climb up ta the top uh that tower and do some chin-ups off the big bar! Don’t worry, if ya fall, I’ll catch ya! Ah, and watch out for them damn crows! It kinda looks like they made a nest up there…”
At the very top of that horrifying contraption, which looked more like a modern art sculpture, there was a huge tree-house. It seemed to be made out of wood, but there was a metallic luster and I could occasionally see arcs of electricity jumping across its surface. I furrowed my brows and glared at senile Grandpa Di, asking “Are you absolutely sure that I’m not going to get electrocuted to death the moment that I touch those bars? I really don’t wanna die in such a stupid way… I mean, the castration thing was bad luck, but this… I’ve got a lot to live for, okay?”
He shrugged his bulky shoulders, “Maybe, but who knows? I’m kinda surprised this thing hasn’t fallen apart yet, but it’s been tempered by centuries of lightning strikes. It wouldn’t be too weird if it gained some kinda special properties… I ain’t gonna risk yer life ta test it out though. Gimme a second…”
As he touched the shiny reflective metal, there was a static discharge and he yelled “Ow~, shit!” However, it only took him a few seconds to recover from the shock, turn towards me and say “Just a bit uh charge built up over the years, but don’t worry, it should be gone now… Ah, just don’t go inside uh that house at the top or ya might get zapped.”
I sighed dramatically, grumbling “And why exactly do I need to do this anyway? I thought you told me I could just do some breathing exercises every day and reach Apprentice super-easily?”
“Dumbass! Cultivation is hell! Ya think the Heavens would just let ya get away with being a lazy prick?! No, they don’t! They make ya do all sorts uh horrible shit! They laugh as ya suffer, tryin ta overcome them, only ta fail because ya weren’t fast enough or ya didn’t try hard enough! Ya think it’s that simple ta become an Apprentice?! Maybe if ya started earlier, but no, ya only got a single year! Ya need ta get as strong as a full-grown man within a single year! If ya try ta break through without solid foundations, you’ll either explode, become a cripple, or lose all yer condensed Qi and have ta start over again!”
Did I mention that Long Di was a fucking lunatic? Yeah, I’m sure that he saw all sorts of horrors and tragedies in his earlier centuries… Still, his idea of training was kinda scary. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was trying to kill me or make me stronger.
Well, even though I knew it was a bad idea, I still started climbing up that massive ladder. When I made it halfway up, I felt a sharp pain in my back and yelled “Argh~! I think I might have a broken rib! Hey Crazy Di! Maybe I should go back down and-”
“No! Don’t be such a pussy! It’s just a bruise! I wouldn’t hit ya hard enough ta break anything!” He was never very good at motivational speaking, but even so, I continued ascending towards that ominous and creepy octagonal tree-house.
The bar that he wanted me to climb on was only a few feet below the dark hole that was spewing out arcs of crimson lightning every few seconds. I was getting a really bad vibe and wanted to give up, but by then it was already too late.
“Gah~! Shit! It’s a ghost!” A translucent bright-red human skull suddenly popped out of that hole and flew straight down towards me. I jumped backwards and grabbed onto one of the lower bars, nearly losing my grip as bolts of electricity shot off and started burning the skin on my left hand. “Ow~! Goddamn it you bastard! Stop dicking around and kill this thing!”
However, despite my pleading, Long Di was still standing below me with his massive arms crossed in front of his chest. He yelled “Quit freakin out! Hurry up and catch it! That’s a Rank-G Thunder Spirit! If ya absorb it, you’ll thank me later! I can’t help ya though, cause I don’t feel like goin up there! But don’t worry, I’m sure ya can handle it!”