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The First Step by Valerios Book

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The First Step by Valerios Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: "Screw the System. I just want to Cultivate."

Long Fang is stranded in a foreign world where proper cultivation has been replaced by annoying blue screens. He is confused and alone... but not for long.

Completely ignoring the System, he forms a wholesome sect of followers to spread cultivation across the wild world. Blue screens do not take kindly to rejection, however, and Long Fang’s stubbornness soon finds him pitted against increasingly dangerous foes.

To overcome the System tribulations, he must quickly grow stronger and wiser... But first, he needs to get past that one annoying town guard. 


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The First Step by Valerios Book Read Online Chapter One


"Let’s try this one more time."


The city guard sitting behind the desk tapped a finger on the hard wood, betraying his irritation. "Name?" he asked.


"I really don’t see the point of this," replied the young man sitting across from the mustached soldier, slightly tilting his head to escape the sunlight reflecting off the guard’s iron helmet. "Long Fang."


"Long, then." The man scribbled a word on the parchment in front of him. "There is a point, kid, and we’re staying here all day until you begin to make sense. Occupation?"


"Young master."


"Okay, look"—the guard slammed his pen on the desk, using a thumb to massage his temple—"I will let this slide, okay? I will write down your stupid reply on my stupid registration form and not bother again. All I need you to do"—he leaned forward, pressing his hands together in agitation—"is reply to the next question, okay?"


"I really am the young master of the Blue Wind sect, but sure, suit yourself." Long shrugged. He’d been saying the same thing for five minutes now, and this stubborn guard refused to listen.


"Alright." The guard, whose name was Ben, sighed. "Level?"


"Don’t have one."


"You piece of shit!" Ben once again slammed the desk, making the wood creak. Long looked on, unimpressed.


"It was only funny the first time, you, you- You teenager!" the guard lamented, taking a moment to collect himself. "Look, kid, I’m just trying to do my job, okay? I just want to register you with our records so you can enter the town, and then I want to go home to my family and relax until the next stupid trouble-maker comes tomorrow morning. Is it so hard to simply give me your Level?"


"But I really don’t have one!" Long threw his arms up in the air, his long sleeves flying higher than his hands. "I don’t even know what this ‘level’ thing is!"


The guard sighed. He then brought his face closer to Long’s, lowering his voice so he wouldn’t be overheard. "Look, kid, I understand you want to hide your Level. Many people do. The thing is, we don’t really have a device to check, so you give us a number, and we will trust that it really is your Level. Get it?"


"Hmm…" Long frowned. Sounds like forgery to me, but anything to get through this stupid gate.


"So, I just need to give you any random number and we’re fine?"


"No," Ben intoned his words, desperately trying to get his message across, "you need to give me a number that is your Level, and then we will trust you that it is the right one. Please tell me you get it."


"Sure. So any number." Long shrugged, eliciting a pained grunt from the guard. "How about 2000?"


"That’s- I’m trying my best to help you, kid, but if you keep this up, you’re going straight to jail. Tell me your actual Level."


"Hey, I’m trying!" complained Long. How am I supposed to know what number you want…


But Long was not one to crumble at the first difficulty, so he gave this crazy guard his best smile, the one he usually saved especially for the Head of the sect’s Alchemy Hall. Good pills don’t grow on trees, after all. "Help me out a bit. Should it be higher or lower than 2000?"


Ben threw him an empty stare, but Long’s smile didn’t budge. "Lower," he finally replied, resigned to his fate. "Much lower."


"So like…" Long looked at his fingers. "5?"


"And I take it that’s your official reply?" The guard adopted a stony face, scribbling on his parchment as quickly as he could. Looking at the guard’s registration form, Long would have sworn there were many more questions coming, but now this man full of strange questions was filling out all the boxes by himself.


Oh! 5 was that good of a number, huh? Then again, I am the young master. Perhaps this guard finally recognized Mount Tai in front of his eyes.


"All set." Ben didn’t even give Long a chance to reply before he pushed a filled-out form at the young man’s hands. As he did, Long saw there was a second copy of the form hiding below the original. Apparently, the first form was made of thin paper so that the guard’s pen was filling them both out at the same time. Smart.


"That’s your registration form. It may be requested by city guards or officials upon inspection, so don’t lose it. Now leave me alone and go become somebody else’s problem, kid."


"Sure thing, brother." Long gave the guard a toothy smile. Even if Ben was a bit ridiculous, and had possibly met the floor head-first shortly after birth, Long recognized that this guard had much better conduct than most other guards he’d met. Hell, even the sect guards would have long called the Enforcement Hall on his ass.


"Have a pleasant day!"


 

* * *


Outlandish.


As Long walked around the town of Anest, he couldn’t help but be impressed at the scenery.


By the gods, the mystic realm must have catapulted me several planets away… Look at all these things! This! What is this? Why would someone masquerade as a spiritual rhino?


He spent a few seconds fascinated by a man in plate armor before said man gave him a look that clearly expressed how uncomfortable he felt at being ogled—and how uncomfortable Long would be made to feel if he kept at it. The young man immediately looked away.


I’m not scared or anything, just polite.


Everything was different from what Long knew.


Gone were the elegant pagodas he was used to; here, the buildings were shaped like bricks with windows. The gravel-paved streets were another surprise as they were profoundly dirty and narrow, to the point where he felt his long robes might be sullied. Where Long came from, people liked to walk freely instead of being sandwiched between fake rhinos and horse-pulled, straw-filled wagons. Long’s sensitive nose was also suffering a bit, suffused as the streets were with the smell of sweat and dirt.


But the biggest source of shock was undoubtedly the people around him. Long had seen some of them outside the gate, but inside the town, the sight was simply unbelievable.


The locals weren’t dressed in colorful robes with long sleeves, as normal people were; instead, they wore ugly pants and shirts, with many of them donning armors without the slightest hint of spirituality. Their garments seemed to be mostly made of leather, with only the poor clad in cloth. Additionally, there were dark-skinned people too; with his own pale skin, Long stood out like a sore, lightly-colored thumb.


Imagine that! Dark skin!


When it came to their behavior, Long spotted even more differences from what he was used to. The locals seemed to be more outgoing than his people, and they abided by far laxer rules of social conduct. Not a single person had bowed to another in respect, while people regularly shouted at one another without meaning to get violent. It was as if shouting was a hobby here, especially for the wagon drivers, who also each carried a small red horn to more loudly express their annoyance at people; of course, this came at the expense of Long’s sensitive hearing.


He had already been the target of two such horns and had jumped into the air like a scared cat both times. Loud sounds were everywhere.


Besides that, people regularly pushed and laughed with each other while couples freely and shamelessly made out in the middle of the street. At the same time, there didn’t seem to be a clear division between social classes.


In general, the feeling Long got from the town was one of absolute chaos. It felt nonsensical, foreign, and utterly baffling, but... Long did not particularly dislike this. He was an open-minded person, so, to him, this weird society was a refreshing breath of new air. And in any case, the locals deserved the benefit of the doubt, didn't they?


Speaking of baffling, Long had noticed one strange pattern in the people’s behavior. Occasionally, someone would stop at the side of the road and stare into the air or even swipe their hand at nothing.


Thoughts of the insane guard he’d met before went through Long’s mind. By any chance, was everyone here a bit wrong in the head? Was it a custom to throw babies off balconies until they were either dead or retarded?


Well, their way of life would certainly make sense then.


Oh! Come to think of it… Long’s eyes suddenly narrowed as he, too, stopped at the side of the street. Show yourself!


Welcome! Would you like to initiate the System? Y/N


A vein pulsed on his forehead. This annoying blue rectangle had appeared in front of him when he first entered this planet, and try as he did, he’d failed to make it disappear.


He had tried striking or swiping at the rectangle, but it was immaterial. He had tried coursing his cultivation base through it, even using his insights into Wind, but the rectangle ignored his valiant efforts like a very stubborn… well, rectangle. He had also attempted to reply “No” multiple times, but the lying rectangle simply ignored him.


Of course, the thought of accepting whatever this System was had never crossed Long’s head. What kind of lunatic strikes deals with mysterious blue rectangles—especially rectangles with the audacity to insist when refused? This was a scam if he’d ever seen any.


No! he shouted in his mind. Get away from me!


Long stared hard at the box, trying to intimidate it. He failed. Sighing, he looked to the side, allowing the rectangle to fade away. It was still there, he knew it was there, and this annoyed him to no end, but at least it had the common decency to stop blocking his vision.


Fortunately, he had learned that other people couldn’t see the rectangle. He had experimented with the animals in the forest and also, accidentally, with the guard at the gate. That saved him some embarrassment. If he, Long Fang, the young master of the Blue Wind sect, was rendered helpless by a simple blue rectangle, he really wouldn’t have the face to step outside his cultivation cave ever again.


At least it seems I’m not the only one annoyed by the rectangle, unless the people swiping at thin air are simply insane.


Temporarily putting the issue at the back of his mind, he kept walking. Of course, as he stared at people, they likewise stared back. Long was a blue-eyed man of average height in his early twenties, with delicate features and long dark hair tied in a ponytail. The gazes were drawn in by his long blue robes, the hem of which floated behind him just low enough to seem like it touched the ground but just high enough to not actually touch it.


His gait was relaxed and airy, like most wind cultivators', while a playful spark always flickered inside his eyes as if the entire world was a joke only he could understand.


Lost in his thoughts and his mutual fascination with the locals, Long had walked quite far inside the town, and the sun was slowly descending. By now, the crowd had thinned considerably, much to Long’s delight, and he soon found himself standing in front of an open door.


“The Fried Crab bar,” read the sign above it, and Long perked up.


Ah, finally. A tavern! I could sure use some spirit wine by now, as well as a room to sleep.


Through the open door, he could make out a space filled with big, loud men shouting at each other across tables. In any other place, Long would have considered this a sign of bad company, but apparently, all locals were rowdy. Perhaps they were all bad company, but, for now, he refrained from making conclusions. Even barbarians deserved the benefit of the doubt.


He could also smell alcohol, though it had a different quality than the spirit wine he was used to; perhaps this was due to the distinct smell of sweat that seemed to be everywhere around here.


Ah, these barbarians… Long smiled to himself, shaking his head condescendingly. Well, this place is as good as any, I guess. Spirit wine is the same everywhere, right?


And with that happy thought, he stepped into the bar.




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