A little girl sat on the ground. There was no one around watching her, although she was just a toddler. The story of how she came to be there was a long and pitiful one. Her father was a low-level cultivator of the Xaoi clan. He had taken a fancy to her mother some years ago during one of his visits to a mortal city. He was instantly enamored by her beauty as he noticed her walking down the street. With greed in his eyes, he followed the woman to the small home she shared with her husband.
It was unfortunate that the little girl’s mother was already married, but that never stopped an immortal from taking things that didn’t belong to them. In this world, the strong simply took what they wanted from the weak. So, the cultivator visited their home uninvited. A mortal family couldn’t refuse a guest at the level of a cultivator, especially one from the venerable Xaoi clan. At the start, the cultivator seemed friendly enough, but soon he demanded a tribute for his willingness to visit a meer mortal. The husband gifted everything they had saved up to the greedy immortal, but when he had turned over every last cent and left the immortal wanting, the immortal’s eyes turned to his wife.
That man raped the little girl’s mother right in front of her helpless husband while telling them they should feel blessed that an immortal like him would fill her body with Xaoi seed. Nine months later, her mother was pregnant and in labor. This was how this girl came to be. Her father, the great cultivator, had no interest in his daughter or the pregnant mother after satisfying his lust, and neither did the husband and wife. Perhaps, had it been a boy, there was a place for bastard sons, but alas, she was only a woman. In fact, if she wasn’t a cultivator’s child, the mother would have drowned her the day she was born.
During the time her mother had the girl in her womb, both husband and wife sank into depression. She drank heavily while her husband grew inattentive and lost his comfortable job. With their finances wiped out by the cultivator, the two lost everything else to debt collectors, and as a last resort, moved into the home of the mother’s uncle. The city they lived in, Demishire, had their own Xaoi chapter, and while the city was mostly mortals, it benefited from the presence of the great and venerable cultivators who watched over them. The uncle was one of those men who benefitted the most. He was a merchant who had some dealings with the Xaoi clan, so as far as mortals go, he could have been considered quite stable and wealthy.
He offered the two and their bastard daughter some room in his modest mansion until the husband got back on his feet. However, this uncle was no better than the cultivator and had actually lusted after his niece from the day she started developing into a woman, perhaps even earlier. He had nefarious intentions, and once he found a way to send the husband away, he planned to blackmail his niece into becoming his concubine. As for the daughter, the merchant didn’t fear the Xaoi clan as her family did since he was associated with many cultivators, and figured he’d throw the emaciated ugly girl down a well when the time was right.
With the husband being sent out of town on a bogus job offer the uncle concocted, the uncle’s plans would finally reach fruition that night. He sent the daughter out to play somewhat close to an open well. Hopefully, she was dumb enough to fall in herself. If not, he could give her a little push. Then, he’d threaten to accuse the mother of killing her daughter. It was known she hated the child, and even if her cultivator father didn’t care, if the uncle reported it to his friends in the Xaoi family, they’d put her to death on principle. Thus, she’d have no choice but to put out to keep him quiet. After having his fun with her, he’d let the husband walk in on them during a particularly embaressing session, and then kill him too in self-defense. At that point, she’d be nothing more than his sex slave. He grinned as he shut the door to his mansion while the little girl sat unsupervised in the yard. Soon, after months of planning, he could do whatever he wanted to that niece of his.
As for the little girl named Liao An, even without these dark plans, she was all but ignored by a family who never wanted her. Of course, Liao didn’t know any of this. The heavy drinking of her mother had affected the child’s development. She was partially deaf and could barely speak. Her mental faculties were subpar, and the likelihood of her learning even the most basic trade skills was virtually none. Her future prospects were nilch. At best, she might become a cheap prostitute in a brothel. She’d be used up and discarded by her owners before dying young on the street.
It should come as no shock that while she sat there, eating grass, she wore a dumb, happy expression on her face that was completely clueless about how pitiful her life was, or how her future was unlikely to be any better. It should also come as no shock that standing right over her, watching her eat grass, was Tigra, the disciple to the most powerful cultivator in existence, and also the 2nd most powerful ascendant, since her treacherous boyfriend had died.She had used her senses to divine a bit of this dark history, and it soured her mood greatly.
Liao leaned over and grabbed another handful of grass and stuck it in her mouth. She was starving, so the grass was the only thing she could understand as edible. She wouldn’t have been able to ask for food from anyone, and even if she went back to the manor, they wouldn’t feed her. Worst of all, that uncle was there, and even the three-year-old Liao felt there was something off about him and the way he looked at her. Thus, the child with nothing ate grass.
It should be noted that she could not see Tigra. Even a heavenly cultivator wouldn’t be able to see Tigra given the level of her concealment skills. A high level master may be able to track her down, eventually, if they were specifically looking for her, but for all intents and purposes, Tigra emitted no presence. Unlike her master, she had much more control of her aura, and wouldn’t harm someone unintentionally.
“So, I need an avatar, huh?” She muttered.
After stuffing the baby full of pills, she’d been looking for a mortal to inhabit for babysitting duty. She’d need to watch after the baby for the next ten years and make sure nothing bad happened to him. However, there was a small risk if she stayed on the planet herself. Just her presence here could affect the ecosystem of this world. Thus, it was better to use a mortal as her eyes and ears. She could give them suggestions, but ultimately, they’d mostly be a walking spy camera.
Unfortunately, this world was a shithole, and no mortals within the area around Demishire were compatible. As she looked on, she practiced a few simple divinations, which lead her to this unfortunate child. Tigra saw a bit of herself in the little girl, an unwanted child bound for a life of toil. She instantly felt a strange attraction to this disabled kid. Furthermore, she could award the child’s obedience by fixing some of her situation. Perhaps this was also karma, meeting this girl here.
Her cultivation veins weren’t bad for a mortal. She could be a cultivator if she had the mind for it, not that she did. Tigra only needed her for the next ten years, so cultivating her was pointless. After her master returned, she’d find some low level cultivator and use them as a spy instead. It was more practical that way. Even if she fixed Liao’s hearing and home situation, nothing could fix her disabled mind. This girl was bound for a life of mediocracy. Helping Tigra could be seen as her single moment of usefulness in an otherwise insignificant life.
“Alright… now… I’ll very carefully put in a sliver of power and connect it with her senses.” Tigra spoke to herself. “I can use that profound energy to repair her ears, at the least.”
Tigra carefully channeled a bit of power into the small girl. Tigra often overestimated her own abilities. Her abilities might have worked on a normal child from a normal realm, but this realm was truly trash, and Tigra’s own strength in cultivation could not be understated. The sliver she put into the child was the equivalent of a torrential waterfall. It’d be like giving someone a drink of water by forcing them to swallow an entire gallon in one gulp. The young Liao went completely rigid, and then a moment later collapsed to the ground with a thud.
“Ah!” Tigra let out a cry as she kneeled down and picked up the child.
Foam was coming from her mouth, and her eyes stared up blankly. If the child could be considered disabled before, now she was simply braindead. Tigra had accidently killed her. While her body still remained thanks to the connection Tigra formed with her, the second she severed that connection, the young child would stop breathing.
“Damn it!” Tigra cursed. “Fuck!”
Tigra really hated making mistakes, and this one had cost the life of a small child. Unlike Midnight, who believed in forming her own destiny, Tigra was extremely conscious of karma and karmic debt. The Midnight Queen might have sighed, burned the body, and found another. However, even though their passing had been brief, Tigra felt she owed the small child a great debt for her mistake. The fact that she had felt a kinship with the girl and decided to select her because of this only furthered Tigra’s desperation.
It should be pointed out how odd this scene was. To any cultivator of this world, let alone a heavenly cultivator, and especially an ascended, a small mortal child is nothing more than an insect. It was testament to Tigra’s big heart that she would care in the slightest over the accidental death of a “mere” mortal. Most immortals had millions if not billions of deaths on their hands. It took a very unique kind of ascendant to desperately try revive a mortal.
Cursing and muttering to herself, she desperately looked through her infinity bag, trying to find something that could bring this child back to life. Nearly an hour of looking later, the child was growing weaker and paler with each breath, and Tigra had came up empty handed. Her cultivation never focused on healing, but even if it did, there was little one could do about a mind that had been destroyed. The small three-year-old child was braindead. Her life had been brief, full of pitiable and insignificant memories. It could almost be called a blessing that her mind was destroyed, and all of that was forever forgotten. However, that didn’t settle well with Tigra.
Tigra touched her head and then touched the girl again. “This…”
Her lip shook for a moment as she thought of something. It was an innocent act but had anyone seen it, they might have instantly fallen in love with her. Tigra was an immaculate and wild beauty, after all, a goddess to this world of mortals. To see her quiver over the death of this child would leave many cultivators both flummoxed yet smitten by her womanly heart. Few women made it so high in the cultivation world without becoming cold, dispassionate, or hard. Only by having a Master as powerful as Midnight could a woman like Tigra be raised.
The truth was, Tigra wasn’t quivering because she lost the child and had no hope. Quite the opposite. She had come up with the answer, and it was one Tigra wanted to deny. The sacrifice she’d make was far too great. Wasn’t it the best option though? Wouldn’t she be able to follow her master’s orders perfectly this way?
Tigra ordered her breath, pulled out a few pills, and began performing an incantation. After forcing a pill into the child’s mouth and another into her own, she sat cross-legged and began to meditate, focusing on the various energies of this world. It’d be difficult to state how long she had sat there in the field with the dying child, but it was dark when she finished. The end of her spell was finalized by a purple flash. A moment later, Tigra’s body collapsed. Her eyes were closed, and she wasn’t breathing. For all intents and purposes, Tigra looked completely dead.
Then, the child Liao’s eyes brightened and she slowly stood up, seemingly struggling to move her body correctly. Her face didn’t resemble the clueless, bewildered one from before, but for some reason held a bit of profound grace. She looked down at the body in front of her. Tigra’s body was still concealed to the world, but the child had no problem seeing her. The child sighed.
“To think, I’d go this far. Master will surely make fun of me. However, in ten years, perhaps she’ll find a way to restore your mind.” Liao spoke to herself.
Tigra could not fix Liao’s mind, but she could supplant it. She abandoned her own body and put her mind inside this weak child. This was a bit different that inserting her power. She contained her mind, her knowledge of techniques, and her will… but her body was that of a weak three-year-old and her profound power was non-existent. Her body was powerful, and would survive without her mind for eons. This girl, on the other hand, needed a mind to keep this weak body alive. This was quite the sacrifice. For the next ten years, Tigra would not be able to contact anyone away from this world. Her power was greatly diminished.
Without access to the profound way, she wouldn’t even be able to return her mind to her original body. She had committed herself to wait for her master to return. As a second backup, she could cultivate this body. She could restore her body herself if she broke into the qi core stage. She’d need to start cultivating using this new body just like any mortal. Karmatically, it was the right thing to do. If she couldn’t restore this child’s life, she could at least live it for her.
This child likely wouldn’t have lived much longer than 13 anyway, so after ten years, that should be sufficient to square away her debt. If she could save the child, she would, but she wouldn’t sweat on it too much if she needed to leave the body then and allow the girl to die. At least her death would then be peaceful. She was a pragmatic cultivator, after all, and there was a limit to Tigra’s grace. In the meantime, Tigra could use this body to watch the baby very closely without causing any suspicion. So, there were some advantages and some disadvantages.
She got into a cross legged position like before and began to meditate, acclimating herself to her new body. Also, even though this was a mere three-year-old mortal body, Tigra was still an ascendant. From the moment her mind entered, she began to passively absorb heaven’s energy. Already, the girl was growing stronger. Her hearing was fixed. Her body was stronger, and even though she was starving, she began to burn heavenly energy and gained a healthy glow. Either way, being hungry didn’t bother Tigra; she was well acclimated with strict dieting.
When Tigra finished, it was already night. As she grabbed her original body, still invisible to everyone else, she set out to hide it in a proper safe place. She wasn’t going to leave her body just sitting around in the middle of a field, even if no one could see it! A normal three-year-old couldn’t have possibly picked up an adult body, even that of a heavenly goddess, and moved it around. However, Liao’s body had ceased to be normal from the second Tigra entered it. She had techniques for consuming energy without eating. She had techniques for enhancing strength. She had more fighting techniques than what she knew what to do with. Despite still being a toddler mortal, when pulling upon Tigra’s techniques and knowledge, Liao was already stronger than most adult men.
Tigra grew more confident in her decision. She could watch the boy closely and learn more about the man who would pop her Master’s cherry. Even though her combat prowess was diminished, in this shitty world that had only produced a single Supreme in the last thousand years, how would a baby possibly experience any threats? Tigra predicted that the next ten years were going to be nothing but smooth sailing. What could possibly go wrong that she’d need the powers of an ascendant to resolve them?