When Xu Xiaoshou opened his eyes again, he found that everything had changed.
The only things he could see were a ceiling covered in spider webs, a small wooden table cloaked in dust, a candle stub that had been fully burnt, as well as a black sword that had a powerful spiritual aura.
This room's décor was drastically different from that of his hospital ward.
Xu Xiaoshou tilted his head and searched his memory. He remembered that he had finally kicked the bucket after optimistically battling with his illness for three years.
The pain had ended. He had waved his hands and bade farewell to the heavens. However, he'd still felt indignant.
Why did other people have such vibrant lives, and yet he had to be confined to the hospital ward after nine years of compulsory education?
School and hospital. Those were painful words for people, yet those two things had taken up his entire life.
As for now…
He looked around at his foreign yet familiar surroundings, then pinched himself all over. However, he didn't really feel any pain.
"Did God take pity on me? Did I cross over to another world without pain?"
Xu Xiaoshou shifted his gaze to the bronze mirror on the table and saw a new, yet just as handsome face.
He looked like an 18-year-old teenager with a pale complexion. He looked as though he hadn't been in the sun for a long time. He had a tall nose that separated the few freckles on both sides of his face, and his lips were dry and cracked.
"Not bad. I'll look better after I get a little tanner and eat a little more. Especially these few freckles…"
Xu Xiaoshou puckered his lips and rubbed the dead skin on his lips away. He searched back through his memories, trying to find out why he was so withered and scrawny.
This person had been an outer yard disciple of the Tiansang Spirit Palace. Unfortunately, he only had average talent. He had entered the spirit palace for three years, yet had only reached Level Three of the ten levels of spiritual cultivation. He had engaged in death seclusion for one month, determined to achieve a breakthrough to deal with the Windcloud Competition.
He'd rather die than not succeed!
In the end, he had died…
Xu Xiaoshou shook his head with pity. This person had known that he wouldn't be able to break through to Level Four. He had been subjected to mockery and sarcasm these last three years and had gotten the heart to die.
He had only used the death seclusion this time as a reason and an excuse to follow through with his plan.
It was a different world and a different set of troubles. Xu Xiaoshou had been tortured physically, while this person had been ravaged mentally.
Both of their lives were pitiful.
"However, since I've been given this chance, I will never be defeated by the rumors and slander," Xu Xiaoshou thought to himself. He continued to drudge up fragments of memory, and his expression turned dark.
As it turned out, the Windcloud Competition was equivalent to a year-end exam. This person had placed last for two years. He would have to pack up and leave the Tiansang Spirit Palace if he lost again this year.
It was no wonder that he had engaged in death seclusion. It looked like he'd had no other choice…
Xu Xiaoshou was put in a predicament. Why had he been put in such a stressful situation the moment he'd crossed over to this world? A year-end exam? And elimination, no less, if he ranked last?
As a person who had experienced exams before, he was most terrified of them. This was especially so since he lacked both soft and hard power at the moment.
More terrifyingly, there was no dark technology in this world, so he couldn't cheat…
His thoughts were running wild. He nearly finished retrieving all his memories. Then, his soul shook and he seemed to have fully fused with this body.
The next second, a black wheel appeared in his mind.
"..." Xu Xiaoshou thought.
"So there is dark technology in this world?"
He quickly looked into his mind and closely examined the black wheel.
The black wheel was rather simple in design. It looked like a product from a roadside stall and didn't look particularly valuable. Xu Xiaoshou severely doubted that this piece of dark technology had been placed here just to appease him.
The base of the wheel was split into two sections, one gold and the other red.
Interestingly, the gold section occupied ninety percent of the wheel's area, while the red section only occupied a small sector.
"That's too unfair…" Xu Xiaoshou silently cursed. According to what he'd learned in the past, the diminished red sector usually had the best stuff.
However, the gold section was marked with the words "Active System," while the words "Passive System" were on the red section.
"Active and Passive?" Xu Xiaoshou's expression turned puzzled. From a gaming perspective, active techniques were naturally better than passive techniques. After all, how was he going to kill enemies with just passive skills alone?
He might not even be able to kill wild monsters!
Could it be that the black wheel thought that my previous life was too pitiful and thus expanded the area of the "Active System" as a reward?
Xu Xiaoshou became excited. That must be the case!
"It's a wheel with a conscience. We don't see this too often!"
He was elated. He wanted to search for something that looked like a start button, but couldn't find anything.
In his mind, there was nothing else other than this simple wheel.
Was the wheel supposed to be activated manually?
He looked at the shabby black wheel, afraid that he would damage it if he wasn't careful. However, it seemed like he had no other choice but to activate it by force.
Xu Xiaoshou looked at the needle on the wheel. It was long and slender. It looked like it couldn't withstand a gust of wind.
He gave it a try. He used his will to gently push the needle. The wheel shook and looked like it was about to move.
… Then nothing.
The wheel had only looked like it'd been about to move. In the end, the needle didn't budge an inch. Xu Xiaoshou felt that the person who had made this wheel hadn't put too much thought into it.
It was all right that the wheel looked shabby, but it wasn't even greased. How was he going to use it?
He exerted a little more force with his will. The needle seemed to tilt to the side. However, it still felt like it was resisting him. He needed to use more force!
Xu Xiaoshou used even more force. The long slender needle tilted to the side even more this time. He thought that this probably wasn't good and lessened the amount of strength he used. In the end, the needle couldn't bear the heavy load and broke…
Xu Xiaoshou's expression turned dark. As it turned out, the wheel didn't just look shabby. It was truly shabby!
The needle had been pointing toward the edge of the gold section. However, now that it'd broken, it immediately fell toward the red section that was outside the edge of the gold section.
Red… Passive System?
Xu Xiaoshou's face turned from black to purple. It wasn't right to play with people like that. Who had made this wheel? It was an evil device.
He suddenly had a thought. Could it be that the wheel wasn't activated by pushing the needle but by spinning the wheel?
"Groan… It can't be, right?"
Xu Xiaoshou's face turned red. He experimentally prodded the wheel under the needle. Indeed, the wheel started to turn smoothly and didn't look like it needed to be greased.
"This…" Xu Xiaoshou's eyes lazily rolled into the back of his head and he staggered backward and fell onto the bed.
The next second, he leapt off the bed, desperately wanting to pick up the broken needle with his will. He wanted to seize the opportunity to place the needle onto the gold section before the black wheel could react.
He didn't expect the black wheel to come to its senses after his foul play. The wheel immediately disappeared.
A line of words appeared:
"[Passive System] activated, downloading…"
Xu Xiaoshou wanted to cry. However, he could only go with the flow and accept it.
The words disappeared, and a small red interface took its place. Xu Xiaoshou looked over, harboring a sliver of hope.
There was only one section in the interface. In the section was a line of large words.
Fundamental Passive Skill.
The section looked familiarly shabby and simple.
Breathing Technique (Acquired Lv. 1).
Xu Xiaoshou immediately fell back onto the bed. His pale complexion suddenly turned red. His blood was coursing through his veins. He was angry and furious.
Darn it. Breathing Technique? Do I really need you to teach me that?
Even a baby knew how to breathe!
Xu Xiaoshou had harbored some hope for this Passive System. Maybe there would be a godly twist that would shock him.
At that moment, he completely slipped into despair. It really was passive. Breathing…
Breathing, darn it!
He was so angry that he involuntarily took a few more breaths. However, he suddenly sensed the spiritual energy in his body start to stir violently.
"What's going on?" Xu Xiaoshou was immensely shocked. His cultivation level was only Spiritual Cultivation Level Three. There shouldn't be such a violent stir in his spiritual energy unless he was about to achieve a breakthrough. Could it be that he was about to achieve a breakthrough?
He quickly sat down cross-legged. He was just about to do something when he saw his spiritual energy become a cocoon and envelop his entire body. A wonderful stream of energy rose and broke through its restraints like a fish slipping back into the ocean.
The formless waves released ripples in the air around him and even cleared off the dust on the table.
"I, I achieved a breakthrough?"
Xu Xiaoshon looked lost. This person had been unable to advance, even after he'd engaged in death seclusion for a month, yet he had now achieved a breakthrough because he was furious and had taken a few more breaths of air?
Something was wrong…
There was a sparkle in Xu Xiaoshou's eyes. "Breathing Technique?"
Could it be that the Breathing Technique was similar to a martial arts technique, where his every breath allowed him to take in the spiritual energy in the surroundings for his use?
"My… I've found a treasure!"
Xu Xiaoshou had thought that he'd messed up and was stuck with a lousy system. He didn't expect it to be a great system. He seriously pondered the word "Passive" and had an epiphany.
He observed his body as he breathed. Indeed, he realized that a shred of spiritual energy from the surroundings would be taken into his sea of energy with his every breath.
It wasn't much, but it was enough!
He'd reached a standstill in his cultivation, which meant that his few breaths of spiritual energy had made the difference and given him the success he needed!
Xu Xiaoshou felt a wave of passion. The diminished section of the wheel really always had the good stuff.
He would've had to go through the process of training if he'd gotten a powerful technique that he had to actively cultivate.
However, this Breathing Technique allowed him to even skip the process of training. What did that mean?
Xu Xiaoshou flicked his sleeves and pushed back the long hair on his forehead. There was a suave expression on his face.
"I, Xu Xiaoshou, will become invincible, even if I don't move a muscle!"
Unfortunately, no one was there to witness how suave he was. Xu Xiaoshou felt that it was a bit of a pity.
He once again looked toward the red interface and felt a different emotion.
"Breathing Technique (Acquired Lv. 1)."
His gaze moved toward the words in the brackets. Xu Xiaoshou instinctively muttered, "Acquired… Lv. 1…"
That must mean that it could be leveled up. So what did he need to level up this skill?
He quickly noticed the lower portion of the interface. There was a small line of words there that he'd missed just now, as he'd been too agitated.
"Passive Points: 0."
Xu Xiaoshou stroked his chin. Passive Points?
That was probably what he needed to level up his skills. However, how could he gain Passive Points?
The summer night was always accompanied by the songs of cicadas and the buzzing of mosquitoes. Xu Xiaoshou slipped into deep thought. The room became completely quiet.
He suddenly felt an itch on his forearm and instinctively slapped toward the area. He saw a bloody mark on his palm when he lifted his hand.
Xu Xiaoshou felt that this room needed a deep cleaning. After all, he hadn't cleaned the place in over a month. But he suddenly froze the next second, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.
All he saw was a notification bar that had appeared at the bottom of the red interface.
"Got attacked. Passive Points +1."