Book cover of “Coiling Dragon“ by I Eat Tomatoes

Coiling Dragon

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: I Eat Tomatoes
  • Uploaded by user101670
Empires rise and fall on the Yulan Continent. Saints, immortal beings of unimaginable power, battle using spells and swords, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. Magical beasts rule the mountains, where the brave—or the foolish—go to test their strength. Even the mighty can fall, feasted on by those stronger. The strong live like royalty; ... 

Early Morning at a Town

The town of Wushan, an ordinary little town located within the Kingdom of Fenlai, west of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, the largest mountain range within the Yulan continent.

As the morning sun rose in the town of Wushan, there remained a slight hint of the cold, pure pre-dawn air. However, virtually all the citizens of this small town had already come out to begin working. Even the six- or seven-year-old children had already gotten out of bed and were preparing to begin their traditional morning exercises.

On an empty area in the eastern region of the town of Wushan, the warmth of the rays of the morning sun passed through the surrounding trees, leaving behind scattered spots of light on the empty ground.

A large group of children could be seen there, approximately one or two hundred in number. These children were separated into three groups, each group divided into several lines. All the children stood there silently, their faces solemn. The northernmost group of children were approximately six years old, the group in the middle, approximately nine to twelve years old, while the ones in the south were the thirteen- to sixteen-year-olds.

In front of this large group of children, there were three sturdily built middle-aged men. All three of them wore short-sleeved shirts and roughly cut trousers.

"If you want to be a powerful warrior, then you must work hard from youth," the leader of the middle-aged men, head raised high, hands clasped behind his back, said to them coldly. He swept his cold, fierce gaze across the northernmost group of children. All those six- and seven-year-olds tightened their lips. Gazing at this man with their big, round eyes, none of them dared to make a sound.

The leader's name was Hillman. He was the captain of the guard for the Baruch clan, the noble clan that owned the town of Wushan.

"All of you are commoners. Unlike those noble families, you won't have access to any secret manuals teaching you how to cultivate battle-qi. If you want to become someone of worth, if you wish to be respected, then all of you must use the most ancient, most simple, and most basic ways of improving yourselves—through exercising your bodies, and building up your strength! Am I clear?!"

Hillman swept the group of children with his gaze.

"Understood." The voices of the children replied brightly in unison.

"Good." Satisfied, Hillman nodded coldly. The eyes of the six-year-old children displayed their confusion, while the eyes of the teenagers became very determined. They understood the meaning behind Hillman's words.

Virtually every male in the Yulan continent would exercise very hard from a very young age. In the future, anyone who slacked off would be looked down upon by others! Money and power—these were the things that determined a man's status! A man without power would be looked down upon even by women.

If one wanted their parents to be proud of them, wanted women to worship them, wanted to live a glorious life?Then they had to become powerful warriors!

All of them were commoners. None of them would have access to any of those precious manuals that taught the arts of cultivating battle-qi. Their only road to glory was through exercising from a young age and gathering strength! Through bitter and hard work! They would have to work harder than those nobles and spend more of their energy and blood in strengthening themselves!

"When the sun rises in the morning, all things begin to thrive. This is the best time to absorb the natural energy from your surroundings and improve the conditioning of our bodies. Same rules as always—legs spread apart, as wide as your shoulders! Both knees bent slightly, both hands pressed down at the waist. Assume the 'Qi Building Stance'. When assuming this stance, remember—'Focus your concentration, maintain a calm mind, and breathe naturally.'" Hillman coldly instructed.

The 'Qi Building Stance' was the simplest, yet most effective way of exercising one's body. This was based off the experiences of generations of their forefathers.

Immediately the nearly two hundred children assumed the 'Qi Building Stance' position.

"Remember, focus your concentration, maintain a calm mind, and breathe naturally!" Hillman said coldly as he walked amidst the children.

At a glance, he could tell that the teenagers in the southern group were all maintaining the stance calmly and breathed naturally. At the same time, all of them attained the goals of being stable and steady in their stance. Clearly, they had attained some degree of proficiency in the 'Qi Building Stance.'

But, glancing at the northernmost group of children, with their waists and knees crooked at odd degrees their legs relaxed and loose, it was clear to Hillman that they were standing unstably and without any power.

Hillman said to the other two middle-aged men, "The two of you, take charge of the south group and the middle group. I will go take care of the youngest children."

"Yes, Captain." The two middle-aged men immediately obeyed, paying close attention to those two groups. Every so often, they would kick the legs of those teenagers, checking to see who was standing firmly and who was not.

Hillman walked towards the northern group of children. They immediately became nervous.

"Crap, the Head Monster is coming!" A golden-haired child with large, bright eyes named Hadley said in a low voice.

Hillman strode into the midst of the children. He stared at them, his face cold, but in his heart he was sighing. "These kids are just too young. They are just too lacking in both wisdom and strength. I can't demand too much from them. However, it's still good to get them exercising from a young age. If they work hard from a young age, in the future, when they are on the battlefield, they will have a higher chance of survival."

And to teach young children, getting them interested was the most effective way! If he forced them too hard it would have the opposite effect!

"All of you, stand firm!" Hillman coldly harrumphed.

Immediately, all the children straightened, sticking out their chests and staring straight ahead.

A hint of a smile played at Hillman's lips. He then moved to the front and took off his shirt. The lines running across the powerful muscles on his body made the children's eyes pop out. Even the children in the middle group and southern group couldn't help but stare at him, admiring his physique.

Aside from his perfect musculature, on Hillman's bare upper body there were countless knife scars, sword scars, and dozens of other old wounds. The children stared at those wounds, their eyes shining.

Knife scars. Sword scars. These were a man's medals!

Their hearts were filled with veneration for Hillman. Hillman, a mighty warrior of the sixth rank, a warrior birthed from life and death struggles! Even in large cities he would be an amazing individual. In the tiny town of Wushan, he was a man who every single person venerated.

Seeing the ardent gazes of the children, Hillman couldn't help but let a slight smile escape. He wanted to stir up a feeling of worshipfulness in the children, a desire to be like him so they would work harder and be more motivated!

"Let's add some more fuel to the fire!" Hillman secretly grinned. He then walked in front of a giant boulder which weighed three or four hundred pounds.

With one hand Hillman grabbed the boulder. In a very relaxed manner he began brandishing it about. That three-hundred-pound boulder, in Hillman's hands, seemed to be as light as wood. The children's jaws dropped and their eyes widened.

"Too light! Lorry, if you have some free time after training go and get some larger boulders for me." With a casual toss, Hillman sent the boulder flying several dozen meters. Crash! It smote the ground next to a large tree and the entire ground trembled. Hillman casually walked in front of some random stones.

"Hah!"

Hillman breathed deeply. All the veins on his muscular body popped out prominently as he directly struck at a nearby bluish boulder. His fist shattered the air, creating a howling sound that made all the watching children widen their eyes even further. Hillman's mighty fist smashed the boulder.

Crash! The sound of the fist smashing into the boulder made the children's hearts tremble.

That was an extremely hard bluestone boulder!

The bluestone boulder trembled. Suddenly, six or seven giant cracks appeared on it, as with a 'peng' sound, it split into four or five pieces. However, Hillman's fist wasn't injured in the slightest.

"The captain is as formidable as ever." Lorry, one of the two other middle-aged men, laughed as Hillman walked back towards them.

The other man, Roger, also walked over. Usually, when the children practiced the 'Qi Building Stance', it was time for the three of them to relax and chat freely, while paying attention to any child who decided to slack off.

Hillman laughed as he shook his head. "No way. When I was in the army, every day I trained like crazy, and on the battlefield I engaged in bloody close combat. Nowadays all I'm doing is relaxing and stretching my muscles a bit in the morning. I'm not filled with as much energy as I was in the past."

The children stared worshipfully at Hillman.

That huge bluestone boulder was shattered by a single blow from his fist and that three- or four-hundred-pound boulder was so easily tossed with a flick of the arm. What sort of power was this?

Hillman turned his head. Staring at the children, he was very satisfied with the children's reactions.

"Remember, even if you aren't able to cultivate battle-qi, in principle, if you reach your body's fullest potential you can still become a warrior of the sixth rank! A sixth-ranked warrior, upon entering the army, can easily become a mid-level officer and easily obtain the military manuals which teach one how to cultivate battle-qi! Even if you cannot become a warrior of the sixth rank, and can only become a common warrior of the first rank, you will still be qualified to enter the military. Remember! If a man isn't able to become even a warrior of the first rank, that man can't be considered a man at all!

"If you are a man, then you must raise your chest high, welcome any and all challenges, and fear nothing!"

Upon hearing these words, smiles appeared on the faces of all the six- and seven-year-olds. They forced themselves to remain expressionless. These words were Hillman's oft-repeated mantra, and he repeated these words endlessly to the children.

"All of you, stand straight. Look at your elders to the south, then look at how you are standing!" Hillman censured them.

All the six-year-olds immediately tried to adjust their stance to be more stable.

All the kids felt their legs cramping fiercely, but they gritted their teeth.Still, after a while the six- and seven-year-olds began to wobble.After holding out for a short time the children began to collapse and sit on the ground one after the other.

Hillman's face was cold and callous but he nodded inwardly. He was still very satisfied with the performance of these six- and seven-year-olds.

After a short time some of the ten-year-olds in the middle group also could no longer hold out, and one by one they began to fall as well.

"Hold out as long as you can. I won't force you. But if in the future you are weaker than your peers you'll have no one to blame but yourselves," Hillman said coldly.

"Hmm?" Lorry suddenly stared, astonished, at the northern group.

At this point in time many of the kids in the middle group had fallen down, but in the northern group, a six-year-old child had held strong.

"This must be Linley's first day at training. Who would've thought he'd be so formidable?" Lorry said, amazed. Next to him, Roger and Hillman also noticed. Looking in that direction they saw that to the north a single brown-haired boy was still holding firm. His lips tightened, the boy stared determinedly in front, both fists tightly clenched so hard that his knuckles were white.

A look of pleasant surprise appeared in Hillman's eyes.

"Good kid!" Hillman secretly praised. Despite being just six years old, he could maintain the 'Qi Building Stance' for as long as the ten-year-old kids.

Linley, full name Linley Baruch, was the eldest son and heir to the Baruch clan, which ruled over the town of Wushan. The Baruch clan was an ancient clan. Once, it was extremely prosperous, but after thousands of years it had only three members remaining: the clan leader, Hogg Baruch, and his two sons. The eldest son was Linley Baruch, six years old. The younger son, Wharton Baruch, was just two years old. As for his wife, she died giving birth to Wharton. Linley's grandfather was also dead, having lost his life in battle.

Linley's legs were trembling. Although his willpower was strong, his leg muscles were strained to their utmost and were beginning to tremble uncontrollably. He finally collapsed and sat down.

"Linley, how do you feel?" Smiling, Hillman walked towards him.

Linley cracked a smile, revealing his small canines. "I'm fine, Uncle Hillman." As captain of the Baruch clan's guardsmen, Hillman had watched Linley grow up. Naturally, the two of them were very close.

"Well done. You acted like a man." Hillman patted Linley's head. Immediately, his hair became tousled like windblown grass.

"Haha." Linley grinned widely. He was very happy to receive Hillman's praise.

After resting for a while they continued their exercises. The training regime for the six- and seven-year-olds was a lot more relaxed, but for the teenagers it was terrifyingly strict.

The large group of children, including the six- and seven-year-olds, were lying down with their heads and their feet each on top of a flat rock, relying solely on the strength in their waists to keep them straight.

"The waist and the thighs form a triangular region." Hillman gestured with his hands to show the area he was describing. "This area is a person's nucleus. Speed and power all come from this triangular nucleus, making this region extremely important."

As Hillman spoke, he continued to walk about, carefully inspecting the youths to see if their movements were correct.

"Tighten that up! Your waists need to be straight!" Hillman thundered.

Immediately, the waists of many youths straightened. This was Linley's first day of training. His tiny head and his feet were both flat on the rocks, but by this point in time Linley could already feel his waist growing tight and hot.

"Hold! Gotta hold. I'm the best!" Linley kept encouraging himself. Linley's body had always been very strong, even as a baby. He had virtually never gotten sick. Given that he also worked very hard, for him to excel was nothing special.

"Thud!" The first child fell down.

However, the stones they were using as a pillow and footrest were only twenty centimeters high, so although the child fell down, it didn't hurt much. (In the Yulan continent, the goldsmiths used standardized lengths of 1 meter = 10 decimeters = 100 centimeters = 1000 millimeters.)

"Thud! Thud!" As time went on, more and more children could no longer hold out.

Linley gritted his teeth. He could clearly feel the tightness in his waist already reaching the limits of his endurance, to the point where it was almost going numb. "My body feels so heavy. I'm almost unable to control it. Hold… Gotta hold for just a bit more." By this point in time, of the six- to eight-year-olds, only Linley remained.

Staring at Linley, Hillman couldn't help but be filled with surprise and joy.

"Lorry!" Hillman suddenly shouted.

"Captain." Lorry immediately straightened, awaiting his orders.

Hillman commanded, "Tomorrow, prepare some special dyes. When they are practicing their waist strength, put a branch under all their waists, and dye the branches. If any of them slack off and let their waists touch the branch, their body will be dyed as well. Their training regime will double in difficulty."

"Yes, Captain." Lorry couldn't help but let his lips tug up in a smile. He secretly laughed, "The captain is always filled with so many devilish ideas. Those punks are really gonna get it now."

Wasn't that just so?

Looks of pain appeared on the faces of the ten-year-olds. Normally, they could still make slight adjustments and slack off. But, with Hillman's idea, they would have no chance to do so.

Hillman continued coldly, "Let me tell you all, when a warrior practices his battle-qi, the battle-qi is stored in a fist-sized location directly beneath the navel. You should understand that this is part of the triangle I was talking about. I expect you all should now understand the importance of strengthening the triangle region! This is your core. If it fails, then your body fails, no matter how strong the other parts of it might be."

A good instructor was of paramount importance to the children, and Hillman really was a formidable warrior. He knew the important parts of training and he knew how to increase the difficulty one step at a time. He knew what sort of tools to use with what ages. If it was too hard, it could make a child's body collapse.

"Battle-qi?"

Upon hearing these words, all the youths, including the youngest children resting off to the side, stared at Hillman with wide eyes.

All the commoners were extremely eager to learn battle-qi. Even Linley, the scion of a noble house, was extremely eager.

"Thud!"

Linley could finally hold out no longer, but he still used his arms to prop himself on the ground as he slowly rolled off.

"That feels good!" Linley could feel that his waist felt a numbness which pierced through to the bone, so comfortable that his eyes crinkled slightly.

"How long was I able to hold out?" Linley opened his eyes wide, looking around.

All the six-year-olds had collapsed. Even half the ten-year-olds had collapsed as well. All the fourteen-year-olds, however, held on. Hillman's face remained as cold as ever.

"All of you must remember: your body is like a vessel, like a wineglass. Battle-qi is like the wine! The amount of wine a vessel can hold is dependent on the size of the vessel. Same goes for the body; a person's ability to practice battle-qi is based on the extent of his training. If his body is too weak, even if he gains access to powerful battle-qi manuals his body won't be able to hold much battle-qi, and he still won't become a powerful warrior." Hillman imparted many important bits of advice to the children.

Many warriors, due to not having received proper guidance in their youth, only understood the connection between battle-qi and body strength much later in life. But by that age they wouldn't make much progress when they trained.

Many forefathers had gone down many wrong paths and gained much experience. Hillman continued to impart these experiences, like the spring wind imparting life-giving rain, deeply etching these important experiences in the minds of these children. Hillman didn't want these children to go down wrong paths as well.

After practicing the 'Qi Building Stance', the waist, back, thighs, shoulders, and other parts of the body would be harmonized. Now, almost all the children were sitting, relaxed on the ground. Hillman's training program was nearly perfect in the difficulty levels he assessed on each age group.

"Today's training ends now," Hillman announced.

The town of Wushan's training regimes were regulated. Every day, it happened twice, once at dawn, and once at dusk.

"Uncle Hillman, tell us some stories!" As training ended, the children immediately began to call out. Every day, after the dawn lessons, Hillman would tell them stories of his army days, or some events which had happened on the continent.

The children, all of whom had lived in the town their entire lives, thirsted for stories about the military.

Hillman smiled. He enjoyed telling stories to the children. This was a way to make the kids eager to train. Hillman had always felt that only by making the children want to train would the children have great results.

"Today, I will tell you about the legendary Four Supreme Warrior bloodlines which everyone in the continent knows about." A look of awe appeared on Hillman's face.

The children's ears immediately perked up, and their eyes brightened. Linley, sitting on the ground, felt his heart thump furiously. "The legendary Four Supreme Warriors?" Linley's ears couldn't help but perk up as well, as he stared unblinkingly at Hillman.

In Hillman's eyes appeared a hint of excitement. His voice, however, remained calm. "On our continent, thousands of years ago, there appeared four powerful Supreme Warriors. All four of these Supreme Warriors possessed power comparable to an enormous dragon. They could wander amidst an army of millions at leisure, and easily take the head of any general! These Supreme Warriors were known as the Dragonblood Warrior, the Violetflame Warrior, the Tigerstriped Warrior, and the Undying Warrior!"

"Warriors are divided into nine ranks. I, a mere warrior of the sixth rank, can easily shatter boulders and kick down a large tree! But a ninth rank warrior, even within our country of Fenlai, would be considered a top-level expert. Finally, above the ninth rank warriors are the Four Supreme Warriors. They have surpassed the ninth rank warriors and can be considered the pinnacle of warriors. They belong to the level of legendary Saint-level warriors!" Hillman's eyes were filled with excitement. "The legendary Saint-level warriors can melt giant icebergs, make the boundless sea roar with angry waves, make tall mountains crumble, make cities with millions of people collapse, and make meteors fall from the sky! They are absolutely undefeatable, the highest possible power."

Silence. All the children were stunned.

Hillman pointed at a mountain to the northeast.

"Look at Wushan. Isn't it huge?" Hillman smiled.

After hearing Hillman's words, many of the kids had been scared silly. They immediately nodded. Wushan was over a thousand meters high, and thousands of meters in circumference. In the eyes of men, it would definitely be considered a huge mountain.

"But Saint-level combatants can destroy Wushan in the blink of an eye," Hillman said firmly.

A sixth-ranked warrior can only smash a boulder, but a Saint-level warrior can smash an entire mountain! All the children's mouths dropped and their eyes widened. All of them were shocked and their hearts were suddenly filled with an unspeakable dread towards these Saint-level combatants. But, their hearts were also filled with longing.

"Destroy a mountain?" Hillman's words had a huge impact on Linley.

After a short time, the stunned children returned to their homes. Hillman, Roger, and Lorry were the last to leave. Watching the children depart in clusters of three or five, a smile appeared on Hillman's face.

"These children are the hope and future of the town of Wushan," Hillman said with a smile.

Roger and Lorry also gazed at the group of children. On the continent, virtually all the children of commoners had to train hard from an early age. Seeing the kids, Roger and Lorry reminisced about their own youth.

"Captain Hillman, you are definitely much more formidable than ole Potter of bygone years. Under your guidance, I believe that the town of Wushan will become the strongest town in our region, surpassing the other ten or so towns," Lorry said with a smile.

The strength of a teacher determined a place's future.

"Oh, Captain, how do you know about the power of Saint-level warriors, or the Four Supreme Warriors?" Lorry suddenly remembered to ask.

Slightly embarrassed, Hillman grinned, "Well, um, actually, I'm not too clear about exactly how powerful the Four Supreme Warriors are. After all, they are the stuff of legends. It's been years since any were seen."

Lorry and Roger were astonished. "You don't have any idea, and yet you lied to the kids?"

Hillman smiled slightly. "Although I'm not clear about the exact strength of the Four Supreme Warriors, I know this—a Saint-level mage maestro, which is to say, a mage which has attained the Saint level, can execute forbidden magical techniques and eradicate an entire army of tens of thousands, or an entire city. Since Saint-level mages are so powerful, I expect that Saint-level warriors can't be that much weaker."

"More importantly, the reason I told the children these stories was to make them work harder. Couldn't you tell how amazed those children were after hearing the stories?" Hillman smiled delightedly.

Lorry and Roger were both speechless.

...

"See ya later, 'Ley!"

"See ya, Hadley!"

Bidding farewell to his good friend Hadley, Linley went back by himself to his home. After walking for a while, he saw the Baruch estate.

The amount of land the Baruch manor was built upon was actually quite large. Moss was growing on the walls and all sorts of ivy creepers twined up the walls as well. The scars of time were very apparent on the walls. The Baruch manor located in the town of Wushan was the ancestral home of the Baruch clan. An ancestral home which had existed for over five thousand years and endured countless renovations continued to stand here.

But, with the decline in the clan's fortunes, the Baruch clan's finances had taken a turn for the worse as well. Towards the end it could only consume its previous gains. Over a hundred years ago the then-leader of the Baruch clan determined that all the members of the clan would live in the front courtyard, which took up a third of the space of the manor. The rest of the manor would no longer be maintained. That way, a great deal of money could be saved.

But despite these measures, by the time Linley's father, Hogg Baruch, took over, they still needed to sell off family possessions in order to keep the family afloat.

The towering doors to the manor were open.

"Saint-level warriors?" While walking, Linley was still thinking about that. "In the future, will I be able to become a Saint-level warrior?"

"Linley." Hillman's voice sounded from behind him. Hillman, Roger, and Lorry had finally caught up to him.

Linley turned around and immediately said happily, "Uncle Hillman!"

Following this, Linley sucked in a deep breath. Raising his head to look at Hillman, his voice filled with eagerness, he said, "Uncle Hillman, are Saint-level warriors really that powerful? Then what about me? Is it possible that I could become a Saint-level warrior?" In Linley's heart there was a desire which all children possess.

Hillman was stunned. Beside him, Roger and Lorry were also speechless.

A Saint-level warrior?

"This kid really has the daring to dream big. The country of Fenlai has millions of citizens, but even so, after countless centuries it hasn't produced a single Saint-level warrior. To want to become a Saint-level warrior…" Hillman fully understood how difficult it was to become a Saint-level warrior.

It required someone to work extremely hard from a young age, the support of a noble clan, and at the same time a high amount of natural talent. It also required luck. How could it be easy to become a Saint-level warrior?

Hillman knew quite well how much he himself had to suffer in order to become a sixth-ranked warrior, and how many life-and-death battles he had to experience. It was very difficult to become a warrior of even the sixth rank. A seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-ranked warrior was of course only harder. As for a Saint-level warrior? Even in his dreams, Hillman didn't dare imagine himself as one.

But he was facing Linley's earnest gaze.

"Linley, Uncle Hillman has faith in you. I'm sure you'll become a Saint-level warrior." Staring at Linley, Hillman spoke firmly. These words of encouragement caused Linley's eyes to shine. In Linley's heart, as well, a desire arose.

A desire which had never been so ardent!

"Uncle Hillman, from tomorrow on, can I participate in the training sessions with the ten-year-olds?" Linley suddenly asked.

Hillman, Roger, and Lorry all stared at Linley in surprise.

"My lord father always told me: if you want to become a man without peer then you must work harder than other men." Linley unconsciously mimicked his father's manner of speech.

Hillman suddenly smiled. He had seen the results of Linley's training today. Although Linley was only six, his body conditioning could compare with nine-year-olds. He immediately nodded, smiling. "Fine. However, you'd best not slack off. You'd best realize that this isn't a one-day or two-day commitment. This will be a long-term regime."

Linley raised his small head proudly. Self-confidently, he smiled. "Uncle Hillman, you just wait and see."

This was a very normal morning for the town of Wushan. Afterwards, every morning was the same as this one. The group of Wushan youths would follow Hillman, warrior of the sixth rank, and train hard under his guidance. The only difference was that the six-year-old Linley was placed in the central squad of ten-year-olds.

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