In the blazing sun’s heat, an eight year old boy stood panting with bloody fists at his sides.
In front of him was a tree with blood-smeared bark. No matter how many times he punched or kicked, the anger and the grief he felt would not leave him. The boy suddenly turned his head towards his family’s modest farm behind the tree and forlornly gazed at the three graves.
The villagers helped him with digging the two new graves, but they did not continue to help him further as they knew exactly who would come for the boy later. They did not wish to gamble with their lives for a mere orphan.
With pity in their eyes, the villagers left to the safety of their own homes and families.
The boy was truly alone now.
The child looked up towards the bright blue sky while squinting his eyes as the sun’s flare bore through his eyelids. How could such a beautiful and yet a cruel world exist?
As he pondered these thoughts, the boy looked away from the sky.
With only a few weeks remaining till he reached his eighth birthday, the child knew that his element’s awakening was drawing near. However, the moment where one’s family and friends would normally rejoice and celebrate, it would only serve to bring further pain and anguish to him.
Especially if he awakened to the same element as his father, the element of lightning.
Lightning was said to be the weakest of all the elements, as a lightning elementalist could only paralyze an opponent.
It was too weak to actually land fatal blows, and against a stronger opponent, the paralyzing attack would hardly deter them for longer than a moment, and without the power to kill an opponent, who would ever be afraid of a lightning elementalist?
Although using an element was not the only method for killing one’s opponent, against higher ranked cultivators who had bodies stronger than steel, normal weapons were completely useless. For this reason, in the continent, lightning cultivators were always looked down upon.
Throughout the records of history, there had never been a lightning cultivator who had ever managed to make a breakthrough after the Spiritual stage.
Breakthroughs required an immense amount of elemental essence, so cultivators would have to go to an environment where their element’s essence was rich in quantity. A lightning elementalist, therefore, could only cultivate near thunderstorms, as a large cloud of thunder was the only time lightning would appear.
There are five elements that exist in the world: Fire, Wind, Earth, Water, and Lightning.
Other elementalists could cultivate without fear, as their elements were not violent in nature, like lightning. A fire element could be cultivated near hot places like a desert or in later stages, near a volcano. There was not a lot of risk involved, as a desert was a relatively safe environment, albeit there was a danger of thirst and scarcity of water, but if fully prepared, it was completely safe.
Even for the volcano, a dormant one could be chosen at the earlier stages of cultivation, rather than a fully active one. The fire elementals would still be able to absorb the purer fire essence without having to put his life at such a risk.
This held true for the other elements as well, but lightning was never dormant as its unpredictable nature denied any chance of safely cultivating. A lightning elementalist could never know where the next bolt would strike or how powerful the bolt will be. Even the weakest of lightning, when it comes into contact with a mortal body, would completely disintegrate the cultivator within seconds.
Many hopeful youths and a few elders with the lightning element had tried to breakthrough during thunderstorms in order to escape their fate and life of servitude, but only ended up staring at the face of death under the vicious torrents of lightning.
The tyranny of the lightning that exists in nature is not as meek and powerless as the essence of lightning cultivators. With both speed and power under its dominance, even nature trembles when hearing the roaring sound of thunder!
With this, the lightning elementalists were forever doomed to a life of servitude. In a world where the strong ruled, the weak were only looked down upon and continued to live as they kneeled before the strong.
Strength was glory.
Strength was authority.
Strength was everything.
With power, one could have any riches or wealth he wanted, as powerful sects would try to rope him in with further prestige and influence. The higher your cultivation was, the better life you would live.
Expectedly, lightning elementalists were at the bottom of this social ladder.
Calron’s mother was a second rank at the Spiritual stage and his father was at fourth rank of the same stage. This was considered to be especially weak for an adult.
There were four elemental stages, beginning at the Spiritual stage, followed by the Vajra stage where the body would fuse with the elemental core, which would make the physical strength of the cultivator reach immense heights.
After that, came the Saint stage, where the soul of the cultivator would be awakened and able to infuse their soul strength into their attacks. The next following stage was the Heavenly stage, but not much was known about this realm as it is very rare and few cultivators have yet managed to achieve this might.
Calron’s family worked in the local Lord’s mansion as servants. Even though the Lord was only around the fifth rank of the Vajra stage, the difference in power between each stage was comparable to the difference between heaven and earth!
Furthermore, breaking through each stage would get increasingly more difficult. The citizens in the city of Vernia were mostly at the fifth rank of Spiritual stage, and the common soldiers were at the seventh rank.
As servants, Calron’s family had little ‘free will’ of their own, but under the oppressive power of a Vajra stage cultivator, who would dare to argue against injustice?
His father, as a lightning cultivator, was forced to fight for the Lord against the magical beasts that plagued the border between Vernia and the mountains. The local citizens soon started to call the mountain ranges as ‘The Desolate Mountains’.
This coalition of a large number of mountains were surrounded by an unending forest full of magical beasts, where in the deepest part of the forest, was said to be the home of beasts in the Vajra stage.
There was even a legend that the Desolate Mountains was ruled by a beast in the Heavenly stage!
Very few cultivators willingly went inside the mountains, but the cores of magical beasts were the main source of Vernia’s economy and its immense wealth, so warriors and cultivators were actively recruited to participate in beast hunts. As a lightning cultivator, Calron’s father had no choice but to follow the commands of the city Lord.
Even the core of a beast in the first rank of the Spiritual stage was worth at least 1 gold square, and a single gold square could last a poor family for an entire year.
With his father’s strength of a fourth rank, the paralyzing effect on lower magical beasts was a tool that the Lord of Vernia would never cease to exploit, as it would save both the lives of his soldiers, and with Calron’s father being a servant to his family, the Lord would not even have to pay much for his services and would rake in majority of the profits.
Although lightning elementalists were looked down upon in society, they were extremely rare as only a few children ever awakened to a lightning element. The reason for the rarity of the lightning element was unknown, however, the world did not seem to mind this fact.
Another reason was that sometimes, the parents would abandon the child once they discovered the lightning element inside them. Sooner or later, that child would meet his or her death, as without the shelter or support of an adult, it was immensely difficult for an eight year old to survive on their own.
The greed of the lightning elementalist’s paralysing ability led the city Lord to hunt higher ranked beasts deeper into the forest.
However, one day when a sixth rank beast suddenly appeared, it decimated the entire regiment of soldiers along with Calron’s father, who was forced to be at the very forefront of the formation.
Calron’s father was the first one to be killed, as his paralyzing attack did not deter the beast at all, but only seemed to make it angrier, as it charged towards him.
A few soldiers survived the aftermath of the attack, as the beast did not give chase to the ones that escaped, but more than twenty soldiers of the seventh rank were killed that day.
Although the magical beast was only a rank lower than them, magical beasts were generally stronger due to the toughness of their bodies and the fact that they were already born with awakened cores, allowing them to fight against human elementalists two ranks above them.
With a last punch to the tree, Calron kneeled down in utter exhaustion. No matter how much rage his little heart contained, his body was still that of an eight year old.
Calron slowly treaded back to his home and he suddenly felt a few wet drops on his cheek. He stopped to touch his cheek in confusion and looked up towards the sky.
He had not realized in his previous daze, but the sky was darkening as the number of grey clouds increased by the second.
Deciding to make a run for it, Calron knew without a doubt that there would soon be a downpour of heavy rain.
The sky was now completely filled with grey clouds as streaks of light flashed within the clouds. Calron ran as fast as his tired legs could handle and after a few minutes, he could spot his humble hut within a few steps away.
Just then, the rain poured down in a vicious frenzy and the clouds rumbled as bursts of light flashed above.
Calron hurried to enter his hut, and panted with lack of breath until he found some water to gulp down. The loud rumbling continued outside as the sounds of the rain hitting the ground echoed within Calron’s hut.
Calron collapsed on the straw mat as he reached the end of what little energy he had. Closing his tired eyes, Calron laid down uncomfortably on the mat while his thoughts kept coming back to his mother and father, and even the small baby sister that he would never get to spoil or play with.
His anger at the city Lord increased every second, as he knew it was his father’s death that eventually led to the weakening of his mother’s health and combined with the pregnancy, she became too weak to give birth to his sister. Calron then looked down at his chest, as he noticed the piece of metal hanging there and clenched the rusty bird-shaped locket within his fist.
This was the last memento of his family.
Intriguingly, the locket felt a bit warm to the touch, but Calron figured it was due to the running and his body’s heat warming it up so he paid little attention to it. With the increased rumbling outside, Calron was worried for a brief moment, as he had never felt rain this powerful before and it sounded like the beginning of a really bad storm.
He decided to stop worrying and let his exhausted body collapse back on the mat as he fell into a deep sleep.
Outside, the rain continued to pour and just at that moment, the very first lightning struck the ground!
The villagers were all terrified, and the sounds of small children crying could be heard in the vicinity while the parents tried to soothe the kids. Waiting in the protection and comfort of their homes, the villagers waited until the sounds of thunder finally stopped.
After the first lightning, every few seconds another one would strike constantly as the sound of it crackling echoed in the surroundings.
In his small hut, Calron kept uncomfortably turning around in his mat, as his clothes stuck to him under the sweat. Calron did not know what was happening to his body.
He thought it was his awakening, but an awakening was not supposed to hurt and he still had a few more months of time until his eighth birthday.
It felt like his blood was boiling and his muscles twitched every now and then. What Calron did not feel through all the pain, was that the once warm locket on his chest was now scorching hot and stuck to his skin, further increasing the torment he felt.
Calron silently screamed as he felt the angry heat surging through his body, but the agony had no intention of going away.
The sounds of thunder stopped for a brief moment, but if anyone had dared to look towards the sky, then they would have seen the most terrifying scene of their lives.
In the middle of the clouds, a pale azure light slowly started to glow, as small bursts of blue lightning crackled around it.
The world seemed to turn deaf.
Even though the rain kept falling, there was no sound from it.
It was as if time itself had frozen in space.
A single bolt of deep azure lightning came crashing towards the ground, as it carried the power and might of the heavens.
And if anyone had dared to look outside, then they would have seen that the place where the blue lighting struck was exactly above Calron’s small hut!
The pain never seemed to end.
Calron felt like his blood would burst out from his veins, and with tears pouring from his small face, he kept silently begging for the torment to end.
Just then, he felt something strike his body with the force of a small building.
The pain abruptly stopped.
Although Calron felt the force of something strike him, mysteriously, there was absolutely no trace of pain anywhere. Feeling around for where that mysterious force might have struck him, Calron swept his hands over his body and felt the bird-shaped locket on his chest.
Rather than a locket, the metal was now firmly lodged into the middle of his chest, as the chain around it had long ago melted under the intense heat.
Calron tried to remove the bird-shaped locket from his chest but it would not even slightly budge. Intriguingly, there was no pain from it. Calron looked closely at the locket in wonder and saw that it was no longer rusty and it seemed to emit a pale azure light.
The bird appeared to be almost alive, but Calron figured it was just his mind playing tricks on him. He further noticed that the locket was in the same exact place as where his core would have been after he awakened to an element. Did he already awaken?
He hesitantly touched the locket. It was just a whisper of a touch but just at that moment, a bright azure blue flashed inside the hut and Calron felt an intense amount of essence emitting from the locket. His blood boiled again, but this time the azure blue essence from the locket seeped into his blood and Calron felt a shock of lightning running through his body!
If someone had seen Calron at this moment, then they would have seen a boy with bright blue lightning surging and crackling around him.
He felt power.
Raw, unfiltered power coursed through his veins.
However, suddenly, he heard a voice. It was a soothing sound as if a whisper travelling through a cool breeze.
“So, you’re the scion of his house, huh”
Calron abruptly looked around, but could see no one.
Even the rain outside had slowed to faint drizzle as the grey clouds slowly retreated.
Seeing no one near him, Calron put it away from his thoughts and sat down to stare at his body. The locket had disappeared but Calron could still instinctively feel that it was still inside his chest.
It had not merged completely with his body, as it still retained its shape, but from the outside, there was not a single trace of a metal on Calron’s chest.
Calron gaped at his chest as he saw the elemental glow.
He had awakened.
As he saw the elemental glow on his chest, it looked no different than others, besides the fact that rather than the usual gold color of the lightning essence, the glow was a bright azure blue!
Calron initially thought that it might have been the water element, but water’s essence was a light pale blue color and it had a gentle and soothing aura. In contrast, this azure lightning was tyrannical as Calron felt the violent bursts of lightning crackling around his core.
Wanting to test out his new element, Calron raised his right hand, and concentrated as much as he could to will the lightning to appear.
“Pfft, what is with that pose? Are you trying to strangle someone?”
Calron heard a snicker inside his mind, and he knew that it was the same voice that he just heard before.
Stunned, Calron looked around his hut as he asked with a trembling voice.
“Wh-who are you? And why can’t I see you?”
Calron tried to release his lightning again, but just as he was raising his hand, Calron felt slightly embarrassed as he remembered the previous snicker of the voice, and he quickly withdrew his hand mid-air.
“Kid, first release the elemental essence and then release the lightning.”
There was no ridicule in the voice as it sounded sincere, so Calron tried to release his essence. Suddenly, an azure wisp of essence coalesced around him. Calron tried to release the lightning next, but it still would not come out.
He clenched his fists and tried again, but not a hint of lightning appeared.
“Relax your body, kid… feel the essence coursing through you… imagine the lightning and will it to come outside.”
The Voice abruptly spoke again, but there was a slight hint of amusement in its tone.
Calron unclenched his fists and sat down on the floor in a meditative pose. Breathing deeply and closing his eyes, he pictured the Azure Lightning in his mind: a bolt of blue lightning crackling with unrestrained power and violence.
Calron opened his eyes and saw the blue lightning sizzling around his body. He smiled at his success but suddenly, Calron felt an abrupt shock of pain as he coughed up blood on the floor.
His tiny body trembled as both the lightning and the essence vanished into thin air.
“Guess it’s still too early for you…”
The Voice sighed.
“What happened, why does it hurt so much?”
Calron rasped as the pain racked through his body, and he momentarily forgot that he was just talking to air.
“It’s the Azure Lightning, kid.”
And then, Calron lost his consciousness.