The seasons passed, and summer came with a vengeance. On a scorching midsummer day, a group of youths were practicing martial skills in the Su Clan Main Courtyard's martial practice yard. They would occasionally give vent to roars as they practiced in high spirits.
With a strong puff of an exhaled breath, a palm struck the stone pillar, breaking it in a single strike.
"Good!" Cheers erupted from the martial practice yard.
"The Second Young Master is great!"
"It seems in a few days, he will enter the fifth layer of Body Tempering."
"When that moment comes, he will be number one among our Su Clan's third generation."
The target of praise was a thirteen year old youth. Although he was still young, he had a sturdy and powerful build.
One of the Su Clan's third generation children, his name was Su Qing. Specifically, he was the child of the Su Clan's second elder, Su Keji. [1. Keji literally means discipline or self-restraint.]
Su Qing was obviously enjoying the praises that were being lauded on him by the servants. Even if they weren't completely true, it didn't stop Su Qing from feeling good about himself.
But then again, there was always that one inconsiderate idiot.
The voice of a young servant piped up, "Fourth Young Master has already reached the fifth layer of Body Tempering a few days ago."
Silence fell. Su Qing's face sunk.
Everyone present had suddenly quieted at the words.
After a moment, a somewhat quick-witted servant scolded the foolish servant, "What kind of nonsense is that? How could a blind child like him compare with the Second Young Master?"
The young servant didn't dare retaliate but he still persisted, "But he's still at the fifth layer of Body Tempering."
His mood souring, Su Qing wasn't willing to continue listening and stalked off, his chin jutting out stubbornly.
The group of servants behind them mutually glanced at each other and turned toward the young servant in unison beating him up thoroughly. Only after he was bloody and battered did they relent, leaving behind curses as they went after their master.
To his credit, the young servant was a stubborn thing. He didn't utter a word when he was being beaten, just cradled his head to protect himself. After the group of servants left, he clambered to his feed and dusted himself off, spitting in the direction of the group. He wasn't a follower of the Second Young Master, just a part time worker at the martial practice yard. He just minded his own business then, taking care of the martial practice yard.
Just as he took a few shaky steps out of the yard, he noticed someone standing nearby under a large tree.
"Fourth Young Master?" The young servant was flabbergasted.
Su Chen was quietly standing underneath the tree, wearing a long white jacket that fluttered with the wind. Although he was a youth only little older than twelve, there was an indescribable air of elegance around him. Though his eyes appeared no different from anybody else's, they were dull and spiritless, lacking even the slightest of movement.
Hearing the young servant's words, Su Chen faintly smiled, "Mingshu, you were being stubborn again."
The young servant smiled, "So Young Master had heard me. This one was unconvinced on your behalf and spoke a few words out of turn."
(TL Note:Mingshu is addressing the young master with a respectful pronoun 您 nín as opposed to the informal 你 nǐ)
"What meaning is there to argue for me? You were beaten to the floor in vain."
Mingshu scratched his head, "I couldn't bear hearing their drivel. It is obvious that Fourth Young Master is number one among the Su Clan's third generation but they insisted that it was Second Young Master."
"If he wants to be first, let him. It is nothing worth fighting over." Su Chen indifferently answered. "I am but a blind child. Even if I have reached the fifth layer of Body Tempering, I am still blind."
Su Chen's words hung in the air as he turned and walked into the martial practice yard.
Mingshu blankly looked at Su Chen from behind.
Previously, the Fourth Young Master was high spirited, glowing with vigor, and filled with self-confidence.
However, after that happened ten months ago, he had completely changed.
An old beggar that came from nowhere blinded the Fourth Young Master. From then on, the Fourth Young Master could only see endless darkness. At that time, the Fourth Young Master had sunk into an inescapable whirlpool of suffering. But soon after, he quickly rose above his suffering and continued on his own path of the Martial Dao. Even with blinded eyes, he didn't give up. Instead, he progressed even faster and within several months, he entered the fifth layer of Body Tempering.
Thus, from seeing the Fourth Young Master's perseverance and diligence, Mingshu developed a sincere admiration towards him.
This was probably the reason why he spoke those words when Su Qing's lackeys were shamelessly licking their master's boots. Despite being beaten for those words, Mingshu still felt it was worth it.
Su Chen, already standing in the martial practice yard, said, "Mingshu, are you busy? Could you come and lend me a hand for a moment?"
"Ei!" Mingshu had just recalled that Su Chen couldn't see and hastily ran over, bringing over a pair of heavy stone dumbbells for him. "Here, Fourth Young Master. Please be careful... Fourth Young Master, how are you by yourself? Do you need a servant?"
"I'm already familiar with this place. I'll be fine by myself. I've come here to temper my body, not to be waited upon. If servants were to come, it would actually be worse."
As Su Chen spoke, he was already lifting the stone dumbbells and had started his practice for the day.
Sweat trickled down from his forehead underneath the dazzling, brilliant sunlight.
Finishing his exercise for the day, Su Chen returned to his own courtyard.
His maid took off his clothes and another servant heated water for him.
He sat down in the heated bath and felt the warm water wash away his exhaustion. He let out a long breath, and let his mind wander. Su Chen recalled the scene when that old beggar struck his eyes with those two cold stars.
That bitter experience ten months ago had left Su Chen completely blind.
When he woke up from that attack, he could only feel unspeakable pain from his eyes.
But what was worse than that incredible pain, was the great fear that the eternal darkness brought.
When he had realized he was blind, Su Chen had nearly gone mad.
Despite the Su Clan sending for ten "Famous Doctors" and "Divine Doctors", not a single one could restore Su Chen's sight.
Su Cheng'an, Su Chen's father, was furious. He scoured the city to find this old beggar. However, his search was completely fruitless. That old beggar couldn't be found and Su Chen's eyes were declared to be completely blinded. He was incapable of seeing anything; he wasn't even capable of perceiving light.
Su Chen had then completely given into despair.
That was the most painful moment of Su Chen's life. No matter how his family comforted and consoled him, he was unable to break away from the fear and anger brought forth by the darkness.
Su Chen spent every day of that time wailing from the unbearable pain, or running amok as he smashed everything he could get his hands on.
This continued for three months before his state began gradually improving.
Perhaps because he had grown accustomed to the darkness, or perhaps because he had realized no matter how crazed he acted, his misfortunate was an unchangeable, established fact, Su Chen eventually grew clear-headed.
He no longer displayed madness and sunk into a long period of silence.
This scene caused Su Chen's mother, Tang Hongrui to become even more worried, as she feared that her son would commit suicide.
But in the end, Su Chen did no such thing.
Then one morning, he said, "I want to cultivate."
Yes, from that day on, he tread once more on the path of martial cultivation as a son of the Su Clan.
This astonished very many people in the clan. They could not understand what in the end could have caused Su Chen to pull himself together so quickly. But in any case, it was a happy occasion.
At the time, nobody had expected Su Chen to have any success on the path of martial cultivation. Even if a blind person rushed through Body Tempering, how could he possibly enter the Qi Absorption stage?
At the time, the Su Clan members felt sincere happiness from Su Chen's clarity of mind.
At the same time, they were truly deeply concerned for Su Chen and wanted to protect him.
That feeling lasted precisely three months.
After three months, Su Chen entered the fifth layer of Body Tempering.
Although he was blind, he still appeared to be the most outstanding child of the Su Clan's third generation.
A feeling of unease began to sprout among some members of the Su Clan.
One of the ones most affected was Su Qing.
The Second Young Master has fallen into low spirits. Could he not even beat a blind person?
Su Chen, properly act like the blind person you are! It is fine if you act weak. We will take care of you! Cherish you! Isn't this enough? Why did your mind grow clear? Why must you diligently cultivate? Why do you still stubbornly progress at shocking speed? Even if you are number one amongst the third generation, what would become of it? Do you truly believe you are able to win over someone who can see?
You're just a blind kid!
Without a doubt, those were the thoughts hidden deep in Su Qing's heart.
It was likely the a few other children of the third generation also held these thoughts.
Su Chen was able to perceive their thoughts, but it was impossible for him to give up.
The words of the old beggar echoed through his mind, "It is your fortune to have met me because I will give you a future with unlimited possibilities... Let me exchange your eyes. It will let you to see much more, see the true appearance of this world!"
"Let me exchange your eyes... Let me exchange your eyes..."
As Su Chen quietly muttered this, a spect of radiant light appeared in his dull, spiritless eyes.
Within that unending, limitless darkness, those words were like a candle flame in the dark night, igniting the light of hope in Su Chen's heart and becoming the source of his will to never give up