"Is this the man you trained to stop me? Pathetic!"
In the middle of what was previously a rich forest, only barren land could be seen around. The place was filled with deep trenches and holes that penetrated the ground so deep to even show orange colour down there.
Thick tongues of smoke rose up from many spots, adding more gloomy touches to this place. Seeing this from high above would make anyone suspect it was hell appearing in the middle of heaven.
It was obvious that a brutal battle just went on in this part of the world, especially with the broken bodies and scattered limbs scattered all over the place.
In the middle of such carnage, three figures stood in the centre. One clocked person flying midair with a mask covering his face. He looked cold and uncaring about how bloody and merciless the ground around him was.
In front of him, another man stood in midair hundreds of metres apart. This dude looked weird as he had the vibe of a ferocious beast and nine tails dancing behind him. He was a monster, one who would scare anyone watching him.
In between the two, a broken figure of a young man lay helplessly and powerlessly on the ground. His body was hacked in many places, drenching his shattered armour with red blood.
Just with a simple wave of one of the monster's tails, the body of the heavily wounded young man was picked up, and took a circle in the air before getting thrown on the ground. The tail penetrated his chest like an unstoppable spear.
The giant figure of a human-like monster stood midair like a merciless god, looking like a mountain blocking the sun. He wasn't that big to begin with, but at this moment he felt like an insurmountable being in the eyes of that young man.
'How did things come to such an end?' Despite such a clear disparity in power between the two, the young man felt bitter, all bitter deep down his soul and heart. He did his best, and yet he failed.
"All of them are trash," the monster shifted his eyes around, to the ground littered with the blood and organs of the devastated twenty disciples of the masked and cloaked master standing in midair away from him. "I held high expectations for our encounter, and yet this is the result… How disappointing!"
"Don't think high of yourself, you are only a mere fox and not a god!" the young man said in a weak voice, yet it was void of any surrender. Instead, it was filled with determination and defiance.
One tail moved and brought that young man to stop metres away from the face of that monster. At this moment, the young man could clearly see the real face of his enemy for the first time.
Pale yellow skin cracked and deformed before getting reformed again. It felt like the monster's body was getting collapsed yet at the brink of destruction it was brought back together by some sort of unknown force.
Golden yellow pair of elliptical eyes, showing no signs of humanity or kindness. Unlike his face, which gave anyone the impression of being a handsome man, nine big tails erected behind his back and danced in the air as if they contained a consciousness of their own.
These tails alone made it clear that he wasn't human. One of these tails penetrated the chest of that young man and protruded from his back at a different spot from the earlier hit. This was clear evidence that this monster wasn't even kind or merciful.
"I never thought you bred foolish people as your disciples," the monster ignored the enraged paled face of that young man and instead looked past the dying man's shoulders, looking in mockery at the cloaked person floating in midair.
"Do it!" a deep voice came but it was decisive. It came from the floating cloaked person, the master who witnessed his own disciples getting devastated under the brutal attacks of such an unbelievable enemy.
"What exactly? Ain't you going to cry? Plea for mercy? Kakaka!" the monster seemed to be amused as if he just heard the funniest joke ever. Yet he was mistaken as the master in front of him wasn't speaking to him just now.
"You are an abomination, Mark! A monster shouldn't have the power of gods! You will die here, one way or another!" the young man shouted, struggling to say every single word.
The heavily wounded young man was called William. He was a spirit master, a formidable one in terms of the entire world.
William trained for long years alongside many others whom he used to call brothers and sisters. They were following the superb teachings of the legendary master of his, all for taking down that hideous monster.
The nine-tailed fox was a scary monster, the scariest enemy spirit masters ever faced. And despite the heavy training and dense preparations, they failed to bring such evilness down.
"And who is going to stop me? A human like you who is half a step past the door of death? Or a worthless master like the one standing behind you and can't move a finger against me?"
William wanted to scream and shout, and wanted to shout many things. However, he knew his soul was on the verge of shattering. He had limited energy to spare, so he didn't delay and used his deadliest attack.
Per his master's words, he grabbed something from his sleeves. He held it just in front of his chest, close to the protruding tail that was covered in his blood. With just this simple move, he covered this item with his own blood without the need to exert much power.
"The beads of destiny? No way!" the face of that monster changed for the first time. When the monster recognised the beads attached with thin thread in the hands of William, covered with a thin layer of William's red blood, a tinge of worry appeared on its face.
"Kakaka, even if you were in your prime condition, you wouldn't even have the ability to touch me with this." However, that tinge of worry disappeared and was replaced instantly with an expression of ridicule.
Just as the monster laughed in mockery, the thread seemed to break apart on its own. Seven glorious beads flew all of a sudden and began to glow. Then they started to circle around William. Each bead was like a universe of its own, shimmering in a myriad of lights while flying in a random rhythm up and down, rotating around the body of the wounded man.
In ancient records, these beads were known as the myriad beads or the miraculous beads. They looked like ornaments, but when activated they would turn into a lethal weapon.
"We'll see about that," it was the cloaked master who icily spoke, "Do it, honour my teaching and kill him."
It was simple words yet it made William's heart tremble.
William's master wasn't just a simple spirit master. His life was saved by this master. The confidence in his master's words made his dying heart thrilled with excitement, the excitement of accomplishing the task even if it ended up with his death.
Unlike what the nine-tailed fox expected, the beads didn't emit their deadly rays as an attack. Instead, they shone brighter while stopped moving, as if being controlled by an invisible force.
If William tried to activate the beads with his exhausted power, then nothing would happen. However, the young man attempted to accomplish something more frightening than that.
"Trying to detonate them? I won't let you have your way, damn human!" The nine-tailed fox wasn't ignorant. He recognized the lethal self-destruct attack that dying youth chose.
If the bleeding William chose to attack him using the energy inside the beads, the monster wouldn't even bat an eye to block the attack. That in case the attack succeeded. After all, the attack stemmed from the energy of the beads, but its fierceness depended on the amount of energy inside the body of the user.
The human in front of him chose to sacrifice the beads by detonating them. And that would turn things quite ugly for that fox.
That mere thought made the scalp of that fox numb. These beads would be considered a priceless treasure, one that an equal of wouldn't be found in the entire world. So the fox monster never expected William to sacrifice the beads and that was why he lowered his guard against that human.
Without waiting for his enemy's attack to come to fruition, the fox monster moved all his tails and penetrated the body of that human in every possible killing spot.
"I'm the nine-tailed fox, the legendary existence born under the curses of heaven itself! I'm the one destined to crush the barrier and become a god. I won't let an ant ruin the ten million years worthy of my cultivation! Not a mere pathetic human like you can touch me, no one can stop me!"
The world in front of William faded slowly and only the face and the roaring voice of that monster remained in his world.
William knew he was dying. He could feel his life force seeping away from his body. He felt his body growing cold and numb, gradually losing all control over it.
William felt the world go in slow motion at this moment. He didn't feel panic or regret. He simply showed a smile… A smile of ridicule appeared on his face at this last moment of his life.
"You will fail, human!" Just when William was about to embrace his death, the vicious voice of that fox rang in his mind.
The monster tried to toss William away, freeing his tails from the body of that insane spirit master. But no matter how hard he struggled, he couldn't budge a single tail an inch away.
The power in the beads worked as a magnet, entrapping the two sworn enemies together in an inescapable net.
"I won't let you have it your way. No matter what, even if it takes me a hundred times, a thousand times, I'll kill you! Die, you bastard!"
William's voice wasn't loud or majestic, yet it carried a special aura of itself. Even the monster at this moment, the legendary monster who wreaked havoc and spread terror in the hearts and souls of all creatures born and living on this world, felt tremors of fear shaking up his stone-cold heart.
Like a nuclear bomb, the beads smashed into each other and all together slammed onto the body of William and that fox. A massive explosion erupted, engulfing both a human and a monster inside its bright light.
However, even with such an attack, the monster didn't die. It was just seriously injured. Amidst this explosion, and without anyone noticing, a big golden drop of blood fell from the severed tails of the monster and seeped deeply inside the body of William.
Seven flashes of light moved in a blink of an eye and merged with William's body.
"Kakaka, I'm not dead yet, idiot! I'm not dead! Kakakaka!" and the last thing the young man heard was the voice of the monster.
"I'm going to kill you! I swear even if it took me a thousand lives I'll kill you with my hands!"
*Huff!* *Huff!* *Huff!*
In a small wooden cabin, in a narrow space where it could allow a single person to live, a small body was jolted awake from his deep sleep.
Just moments ago he was screaming in a strange tone, speaking in a hoarse voice like it came from the depth of hell itself.
The small body was drenched in sweat, soaking his simple clothes around his small figure. His chest kept racing up and down like he just ended a marathon.
"This…" he was a small kid, not exceeding eleven years at most. His body was so small and his figure was so fragile with no evidence of a single muscle anywhere.
But he carried the same defying look, the look which the young man daggered the nine-tailed fox with.
It took roughly five minutes for this kid to calm down and start to look around. The more he saw, the more doubtful and shocked he became.
"Where... Is this place?" he slowly pushed away the simple blanket that covered his body. At this moment he noticed his body and couldn't help but frown.
He raised both hands in front of his small eyes and examined them. He had petit hands, thin fingers, with dirty white bandages covering up both fists. He looked at his body which was covered with simple white clothes that were made out of the cheapest kind of fabric.
"This…" a thought flashed past his mind, a thought he didn't dare to believe. The next moment he sprung from his simple wooden bed and stood in front of a small wooden desk.
The desk was so simple with one drawer and a wooden chair. If anything was special about it then one could notice the dust that covered it.
Up that desk, a rounded mirror appeared there. It was small, only with the size to show his face. But it was enough for him at this moment.
He raised it and got it closer to his face. As he inspected his face, he raised his messy dark blue hair aside to see his face clearly.
Black wide eyes, looking like they were put inside two deep grooves in his face. His cheeks were thin and long, with a chin that had an indentation at its tip.
As he saw this face, he couldn't help but smile, showing his small teeth. He even had a space in his upper teeth, with one that fell and yet to regrow again.
"No f*cking way! Hell! No way!!" he screamed in shock while jumping like getting bitten by a snake. "This is… No f*cking way! I've returned, I came back!"
He looked around and this time he didn't stand idle. He started to examine the narrow room. There wasn't much to inspect actually. Aside from this desk, there was a simple drawer where his belongings were.
Three identical costumes like the one he was wearing were inside. A big bag that could be hung on his back was there. It was made out of brown leather, made for people like him.
And in the middle of the room at one of the walls, he could see something old and familiar at the same time. He stood in front of that emblem, rounded with a concave surface, showing a symbol of a tiger head getting smashed by a hammer.
"The Aspire Academy… I'm back... Back for twenty years in time! Unbelievable!"
As he said these words, he slowly dragged the wooden chair and didn't care about the dust that covered it. As he sat down, all he could think about was the incidents that happened before, and his current circumstances.