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Manhua / Tales of Demons and Gods

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Our hero, everyone.

Tales of Demons and Gods is a web-based Manhua by the Chinese artist/writer Mad Snail. It takes place in a fictional world that has been ravaged by monster attacks, to the point where only one city is believed to remain in the entire world. That city is Glory City, and in three years, it will be destroyed. The only person aware of this, however, is Nie Li, who somehow transferred his memories of what will happen into his thirteen-year-old self, at the moment of his death. His goal is to use his knowledge of the future, and the experience cultivated in his previous lifetime, to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

Was adapted as an All-CGI Cartoon.


Tales of Demons and Gods has examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure: Holy Orchid Academy instructs promising students in the art of fighting, as well as in becoming Demon Spiritualists. And the grounds around the city are filled with countless strange ruins, hidden worlds full of adventure, and other places where students can get themselves into trouble.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The entirety of season 2 for the All-CGI Cartoon does not exist in the source material.
  • After the End: More subtle than most examples, but Glory City is (supposedly) the last bastion of civilization in the entire world. All the other cities and nations have been wiped out (and, in three years, Glory City is destined to follow suit).
  • The Alleged Boss: Yang Xin is the director of the Alchemists' Guild, second in authority only to the President. Moreover, she managed to get her illustrious position at a relatively young age- she's in her mid 20s, while most of her equals are at least twice her age. Nevertheless, after Nie Li manages to be recognized as a master alchemist, she winds up spending much of her on screen time acting like his servant.
    • Justified as she's trying to suck up to him as a way of courting Nie Li's imaginary master, and doesn't want to potentially sour relations and thus cutting them off from new recipes. It still doesn't look good to see a 25-year old woman, especially one who dresses the way she does, trying to impress a 13-year old.
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    • Averted when dealing with anyone but Nie Li. As it turns out, she's savvy (and scary) enough to go toe-to-toe with a family elder and make them back down, when she needs to.
  • Alternate Universe: The covers of each chapter often depict the characters in outfits and settings that are wildly out of place in the world of Tales of Demons and Gods. They make for excellent snapshots into What If? scenarios.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Especially in the original Light Novel. Early on, Nie Li states that Legend rank is just the start of cultivation, and alludes to it early on with the 'frog in the well' metaphor.
  • Apocalypse How: Somewhere between a Class 0 and a Class 2, depending on how much you believe the official story from the noble families. The demon beasts that seem to have destroyed the rest of humanity are going to overrun Glory City in three years. That is, unless Nie Li has something to say about it.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The politics of Glory City necessitates a certain amount of underhandedness from all of the noble families, from the relatively weak and destitute (like Nie Li's) to the wealth and powerful (like the three major families that control most of the city). However, the Sacred Family takes it to an entirely different level, by employing the Dark Guild to serve their interests.
    • There's also some implication that the Sacred Family are not merely cowards. Considering the Dark Guild's methodology and stated goals, it's entirely possible that they helped to orchestrate the fall of Glory City in the previous timeline.
    • During the massive Demon Beast attack, Shen Hong's internal monologue openly admits that Sacred Family was actively in collusion with Dark Guild, planning to conquer or annihilate Glory City with a massive Demon Beast army in two years, but for some unexplained reason, Dark Guild launched the attack early.
  • Arranged Marriage: Common in Glory City, particularly among noble families. At the beginning of the story, Shen Yue and Ye Ziyun are engaged to be married, and Xiao Ning Er is intended to marry Shen Yue's older brother. In Nie Li's past life, both of these marriages were ultimately ruined by the fall of Glory City. In this life, they're ruined by both women becoming powerful enough to defy the wishes of their families.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Nightmare Demon Pot appears to be one of these. While most of its uses aren't known- even to Nie Li- it emits an aura that strengthens demon beasts, and it can be used to fuse demon spirits into more powerful forms. Suffice it to say that people really wanted to get their hands on it when it went up for auction.
    • The Temporal Demon Spirit Book may also qualify. Despite regularly making use of its abilities in his past life, Nie Li barely understood how it worked, and has no idea how it transported him back to his 13 year old self.
  • Attack Backfire: Chu Yuan, the scion of a wealthy noble family, winds up angry at Nie Li for attracting the attention of Hu Yan Lan Ruo. When physical attacks fail, Yuan tries instead to overload Li's soul with spiritual energy, which could permanently cripple Nie Li's spiritual abilities. Thanks to his specialized cultivation techniques, Nie Li not only manages to survive the attack, but subsequently absorbs a chunk of Yuan's own spiritual power, weakening Yuan and pushing Nie Li up to the next tier.
  • Badass Bookworm: Although he's hardly a slouch as a fighter and a demon spiritualist, Nie Li's real strength is in the massive amount of knowledge he retained from his previous life, which he obtained through rigorous study. Among other things, that knowledge helped him to discover superior cultivation techniques for himself and his friends, and helped him get in the good graces of the Alchemists' Guild.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Thanks to money made from exploring the Orchid City ruins, plus the proceeds from the Alchemists' Guild, Nie Li managed to acquire quite a bit of cash. However, even he isn't willing to spend the millions of spirit coins necessary to buy the Alchemist Guild's latest elixirs... because he already had a large supply of his own, since he was the one who provided the formulas for those elixirs in the first place. Suffice it to say, he nearly gave his elders a heart attack.
  • Beneath the Mask: Nie Li has to spend most of his early days in the academy pretending he doesn't know or remember all the things he does, and he often makes himself seem more stupid than he is. Eventually though, he drops the act, and lets other people know exactly who they're dealing with.
  • The Bet: Despite his absurdly low soul power, Nie Li makes a bet with his teacher, Shen Xiu, that he'll be able to pass the test to become a Bronze-ranked Demon Spiritualist and Fighter in two months. If he fails, he agrees to leave the school; if he succeeds, she agrees to resign. When Nie Li inevitably wins that bet, Shen Xiu surprises him by keeping her end of the bargain.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Nie Li has this towards his younger sister, Xiao Yu. Ironically, in his past life, she wound up being the one protecting him, as she has far more spiritual potential than he does. And with his guidance and tools at his dispoxal in this life, she may become even stronger still.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When it looks like Nie Li is getting beat up by Shen Yue's goons, Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er step in to intervene.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: When Nie Li uses the Shadow Devil Spirit's abilities, his irises turn pitch black.
  • Boobs of Steel: Shen Xiu is a Gold-ranked Demon Spiritualist and instructor who has a fairly powerful fox demon merged with her soul. Yang Xin is also a Gold-ranked demon spirituralist, as well as the director for the Alchemists' Guild. Both are incredibly well endowed.
  • Born Winner: Well, more like a Reborn Winner- carrying over the knowledge and skills he obtained in his previous life gives Li a massive advantage over everyone else.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: When Shen Yue attempts to use his soul energy in a brute force on Nie Li's soul, it establishes a connection that Li uses to attacking Yue with his Killing Intent. As Yue had never experienced the feeling of someone genuinely wanting to murder him before, he winds up invoking this trope.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The whole reason demon beasts are attacking humanity is because one happened to reach the level above Legend and a bunch of Legend rank humans decided they didn't like that and tried to kill it. It wiped them all out and then ordered every demon beast on the continent to wipe out humanity.
  • Buxom Is Better: Almost all the named female characters are... gifted... in that department, but Shen Xiu and Yang Xin are by far the most "qualified" for this trope.
    • Later on, we add Hu Yan Lan Ruo, who may be even more "gifted" than Shen Xiu and Yang Xin. At the very least, she's the only one with an actual Cleavage Window, seeming to deliberately emphasize her curvy proportions.
  • Can't Catch Up: This trope applies on two levels. First, Nie Li outpaces all of his friends and allies, thanks to his knowledge and specialized techniques. Those friends and allies, in turn, start to outpace everyone else, since they have access to Li's secret techniques and other people don't.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The use of Demon Strengthening Pills provides a significant boost to combat power, and a substantial gain in short-term refining. However, in the long run, it utterly cripples those spirits. Most who actually use those pills decide to use those short-term gains to swap out their demon spirits for stronger ones which haven't been so abused.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Fighters are those who train their bodies for combat against monsters. Subverted in that, even though Fighters are strong, Demon Spiritualists are generally far stronger.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Subverted. Shen Yue intends to do this to Nie Li early on, by recruiting a bunch of Bronze-rank fighters to help beat up Li. Li realizes that he can probably win in a fair fight... but instead chooses to make it look like exactly what it was intended to be, while screaming that the Sacred Family was trying to murder him.
    • He probably did this for two reasons: one, to continue his Humiliation Conga against the Sacred Family, and two, to conceal his rapidly growing power.
    • Played straight in the fight between Nie Li and Shen Fei. Nie Li bets he'll beat Shen Fei in less than twenty moves. Shen Fei goes down in two.
  • Cynical Mentor: Nie Li's first teacher, Shen Xiu, wastes no time in explaining how no one will ever exceed the innate potential of their soul realm. Nie Li, unsurprisingly, has a different opinion on that matter.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Miracle Meridian Hands allows someone to close off their soul realm, causing them to rapidly build up spiritual energy and, thus, increase their abilities much more quickly than they normally could. The downsides are that it's incredibly exhausting and can potentially cause long-term damage to a person's spirit meridians. Also, as Nie Li found out when he used the technique, it's incredibly painful to experience, at least until you break through to the next level.
  • Determinator: Nie Li is willing to put up with a lot of abuse, if it means it gets him closer to his eventual goal.
    • Xiao Ying Er also counts- she continued to take part in intensive spiritual training, despite being in enormous pain from the "arctic disease" she suffered from, which is described as feeling like you're on fire in the middle of a hailstorm. Not only that, she managed to conceal that disease from everyone else until she literally couldn't stand anymore. The only reason Nie Li knew about it- and was able to treat it in this timeline- is because he cheated.
  • Dirty Coward: While only Nie Li knows it, when the day of the invasion comes, the entire Sacred Family will flee, abandoning their posts at one of the city gates and leaving Glory City to its fate. It's no surprise that Nie Li has no love for the Sacred Family, and takes every opportunity to undermine them.
    • In general, you can tell who Nie Li will befriend and who he'll make an enemy of, based on whether they demonstrate this quality.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Although quite powerful already, the Temporal Demon Spirit Tome was damaged in Nie Li's previous life, having had its last eight pages torn out at some point in the past. He collects the first such page in the tomb of a long dead king, found in the ruins of Orchid City.
    • The Snow Wind family finds a blueprint they don't understand. When Nie Li looks it over, a small sub-section of the construction is able to subdue the patriarch of the Snow Wind family, a legend rank demon spiritualist without even trying.
  • Dungeon Crawl: Shen Linjian, an older student at Holy Orchid Academy, organizes a party of his fellow students to explore the ancient ruins of Orchid City. Nie Li decides to join up to get a part of the massive hoard that he knows will be there- or, more specifically, to get his hands on an ancient artifact that contains a powerful spirit he intends to merge with.
    • Matters become complicated when they're ambushed by the Dark Guild, making things significantly more dangerous than they already were.
  • Easter Egg: Sharp-eyed readers will find hidden references to several anime and video-game works hidden among background characters. Dragonball, One-Punch Man, One Piece, and even Avatar, the Last Airbender have been noted, among others.
  • Expy: The similarities between Nie Li and Naruto Uzumaki, or between Shen Yue and Sasuke Uchiha, are probably not coincidental. In fact, there are a LOT of allusions to existing properties and memes in the manga, to the point where entire panels from various series like Bleach, Naruto, or Dragon Ball are directly traced over.
  • Feet of Clay: Shen Xiu tries to impress three visiting VIPs with one of her family's ancient inscriptions (which are used to enchant magical items and create spell scrolls). Rather than impressing them, however, she winds up getting her entire family accused of plagiarism, courtesy of Nie Li.
  • Femme Fatale: Hu Yan Lan Ruo seems to fit into this trope, having zero compunctions about trying to seduce Li in front of Ye Ziyun. That said, her intentions seem more benevolent than self-serving, making her more of a Heroic Seductress.
  • Fiery Redhead: Xiao Ning Er is generally more composed than this trope would imply, but when she gets angry, she can make this particular trope quite literal.
  • Fille Fatale: Xiao Ning Er may not have as many admirers as Ye Ziyun, but she is far more forward, romantically speaking. Nie Li even thinks to himself that she'll be "troublesome" later in life, given her reaction to Nie Li's massage.
  • For Want of a Nail: At a certain point, it starts to become clear that Nie Li's constant meddling with the timeline is making this history diverge from the one he experienced in his past life. In particular:
    • His carefully orchestrated Humiliation Conga against the Sacred Family seems to have made them increasingly desperate, potentially pushing up the timeline for the fall of Glory City.
    • His flirtation with Ye Ziyun, along with his obnoxious grandstanding, seems to have earned him a fearsome enemy in the form of Ye Han, the city lord's adopted son and Ye Ziyun's chief suitor.
  • Fusion Dance: Demon Spiritualists gain much of their power from integrating demon beasts into their "soul realms," allowing them to draw on the power of that beast for themselves.
  • Gold Fever: Nie Li actually manages to deliberately cause one of these using a relatively common plant (Purple Mist Grass) with few known practical uses (it's mainly used for incense and insect repellent). Of course, he stocked up on that plant just before introducing several potent recipes to the Alchemists' Guild, all of which had that plant as a core ingredient. When demand for that plant suddenly spiked, he was able to resell it at a massive profit.
    • This almost winds up backfiring on Xiao Ning Er, who originally bought the Purple Mist Grass for Nie Li. Xiao Ning Er's family found out about her purchase, and tried to force her to turn over the grass so they could sell it, which, after Nie Li's manipulations, became worth thousands of times more than it did before. She (barely) avoided punishment, ironically also because of Nie Li- she accidentally manifested her soul powers, which had been enhanced dramatically by Li's cultivation technique, impressing her elders enough that they let her offense slide.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Nie Li is unquestionably a good person, always doing his best to protect Glory City, as well as his friends and family. And to those ends, Nie Li will do anything and everything necessary, including killing anyone who presents themselves as a threat.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Simultaneously played straight and subverted. The common understanding in Glory City is that you're either born with the potential to become a great Demon Spiritualist, or you aren't, and while training is important, no amount of training can compensate for a weak soul. For the most part, they're not wrong. Of course, that's before Nie Li comes in with a few tricks he picked up in his previous life...
  • Hidden Depths: Obviously, there's a lot to Nie Li that most people don't see, but a better example of this is Hu Yan Lan Ruo. Generally, she comes across as a Brainless Beauty who's a little too flirty for her own good. In reality, she's far brighter and more talented than she lets on, and is destined to become the substitute House Master for her family around the time Glory City falls.
    • On top of that, she managed to merge with a fairly powerful demon beast, whose abilities she uses to enhance her capacity for persuasion and seduction.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Shen Fei, Shen Yue's older brother, decides to invite Li's family to the martial arts tournament held by the Sacred Family every year, challenging Li in a fight to the Death. Li accepts, and Fei thinks he's caught Li in a trap. To say this backfires is putting it mildly.
    • The acting patriarch of the Sacred Family, Shen Ming, also wound up getting hoisted, since he bet a massive amount of money on Shen Fei's victory. And then, when that backfired, he doubled down on his losses after Nie Li beat an even stronger Demon Spiritualist.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Nie Li's family was once quite wealthy and influential, but it has long since fallen into decline, almost becoming nobility in name only. Nie Li manages to largely reverse these fortunes, thanks in large part to his connections to the Alchemists' Guild.
    • The Alchemists' Guild has also seen better days- as the frequency of demon beast attacks increased over time, people became more interested in learning how to fight, and less interested in learning how to create potions and elixirs. As a result, there were more people in need of their services, but fewer people to provide those services, stretching them thin. Their fortunes reverse dramatically after Nie Li decides to lend them his aid.
    • This process seems to be kicking into gear with the Sacred Family, after Nie Li repeatedly humiliates them.
  • Humiliation Conga: Much of Nie Li's grand scheme involves discrediting and humiliating the Sacred Family. While this might play into his more practical concerns, it's pretty obvious that he enjoys watching them suffer.
  • Idle Rich: Much of the Sacred Family qualifies, which is a big part of why Nie Li can't stand them.
  • Immortality Immorality: The Spiritual Constellation Technique allows you to preserve your life by sacrificing the lives of numerous children in order to transfer your soul to one of them. Although it's possible to achieve immortality "legitimately" on your own by cultivating yourself far enough, it's almost impossible to do so in one lifetime; people use the Spiritual Constellation Technique to get around this. It's the technique used by the Demon Lord of the Dark Guild to survive for so long and become so powerful.
  • Improbable Age: Many people doubt Li because he's thirteen. They don't think someone of his age is capable of the things he knows of and can do. (Technically, they would be correct, if it weren't for the little detail of being sent back in time.)
    • All of the other characters in Nie Li's class are also thirteen and they act way too mature for someone of that age.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Among the many, many skills Nie Li picked up in his previous life is a mastery of archery. The few times he has used those skills, he came very close to blowing his cover.
  • Intimate Healing: In order to treat Xiao Ning'er "arctic sickness," she needs the affected parts of her body massaged with special medicine. Since Nie Li is the only one who knows how to make and apply the medicine, he winds up seeing- and feeling- far more of Xiao Ning'er than either one of them probably expected.
    • It's made all the more embarrassing when Xiao Ning'er starts to moan and blush from Nie Li's touch. Supposedly it's a reaction to the pain, but it doesn't quite look that way...
  • Invented Individual: In order to cover up how he obtained a number of advanced- and previously unknown- alchemical recipes without seeming suspicious, Li invents a story about having studied under a master alchemist who does not wish to deal with the public.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ye Ziyun can see how hard Xiao Ning'er has fallen for Nie Li, and she actively tries to push Nie Li to accept Xiao Ning'er's affections. That said, she's also aware of how much Nie Li wants her, and she continues to playfully tease him about the prospect of a relationship.
  • Justified Extra Lives: Nie Li gets a second shot at life thanks to the Temporal Demon Spirit Book. He isn't the only one with a way around death, however; Ye Ziyun's Ice Phoenix Soul can resurrect her, provided her body isn't entirely destroyed.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Nie Li goes out of his way to help people that he knows he can trust to have his back. They, in turn, usually wind up repaying the favor, many times over. To whit:
    • All of his friends- be they commoners like Lu Piao and Du Ze, or nobles like Ye Ziyun or Xiao Ning'er- have received the benefit of Nie Li's extensive knowledge of cultivation techniques, often becoming far stronger than they otherwise would have been. They, in turn, use that strength to help him in his crusade to protect Glory City.
    • The Alchemists' Guild benefited massively, both in terms of wealth and influence, thanks to Nie Li's scheme with purple mist grass. As a result, they happily open their coffers to him- after all, he was the one who helped fill them!
    • Nie Li's family also starts to see massive benefits from his efforts. So much so that they let him take magical items from the family vault, which has sadly become nearly empty, as his family had to sell off most of their assets to stay afloat economically.
      • This turns out to be a major plot point: all of the items which Nie Li chose were seemingly useless. As they say, a weapon you know how to use is much more viable than a much more expensive weapon you don't.
  • Kidanova: He's barely pubescent, but Nie Li sure has a lot of cute girls following him around.
  • Killer Rabbit: Nie Li's "God Tier" fanged panda, created through the fusion of hundreds of demon spirits, is freaking adorable, and when he's using its abilities, Nie Li takes on an appearance similar to Po the Panda. However, that doesn't make it any less dangerous, granting Nie Li incredible strength and endurance, as well as the ability to control gravity, and to shoot yin and yang Ki Manipulation from its mouth.
  • Lethal Joke Character: After countless hours and a massive amount of money spent fusing the souls of demon beasts, Nie Li winds up fusing with the end product his efforts: a fanged panda, which is considered one of the weakest demon beasts in existence. As it turns out, however, there's a very good reason that this particular beast managed to survive the fusion process over other, supposedly stronger beasts.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: What do you do when you're attacked by assassins from the Dark Guild? Put them in the path of the giant demonic apes that were chasing you, of course!
  • Living Aphrodisiac: The true secret of Hu Yan Lan Ruo's amazing seductive abilities- she hunted down and integrated an incredibly rare Snow Sakura Demon Spirit into her soul, giving her its ability to supernaturally charm men. Nie Li is only able to resist because he has willpower that far exceeds his actual rank.
  • Lovely Angels: Xiao Ning'er and Ye Ziyun became known as the Twin Gemini in the previous timeline, thanks to their great skills and ability to work together seamlessly. In this timeline, they are already referred two as "the Two Goddesses."
  • Love Triangle: Between Nie Li, Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er, with both Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er looking to pair up with Nie Li, and Nie Li seeming to entertain both of their relationships at once. Strangely enough, there doesn't seem to be any animosity between Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er, with both having a friendly competition for Nie Li's affections.
    • Later on, Hu Yan Lan Ruo seems to add herself as a fourth angle to the Love Triangle (Love Parallelogram?), and seems intent on using her feminine wiles and the power of her demon beast to seduce Nie Li.
  • Magic Pants: Lampshaded by Nie Li when an enemy uses a technique that causes him to start Hulking Out, destroying all his clothes except his pants in the process; Nie Li's comment is that he's surprised... that their family's pants are of such high quality.
  • Magikarp Power: Weirdly enough, Nie Li picks a cultivation technique that operates on this principle. It develops his abilities relatively slowly, but gives him the advantage of eventually allowing him to integrate as many as seven demon beasts into his soul realm.
  • Minor Major Character: After two hundred chapters, Legend rank demon spiritualist Ye Mo has yet to even set foot in the city let alone have a speaking role.
  • Money Grinding: A weird non-video game example: Li and his friends are in severe need of money, so they start killing Horned Sheep to sell off the valuable parts from them. It manages to make them the money they need, although their activities wind up nearly destroying the entire local population of Horned Sheep.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of the named female characters play this role at one point or another, usually in the omakes that introduce each chapter.
    • Shen Xiu dresses in a cheongsam-like dress, which is cut to expose her midriff and her legs, as well as the bottom and sides of her ample breasts. Adding to that factor is her fox-demon powers, which gives her Cute Little Fangs on top of everything else.
    • While we never see anything too inappropriate, Xiao Ning'er does undress in front of Nie Li several times, so that he can apply the medicine necessary to keep her cultivation technique from killing her. Nevertheless, the art lingers on her exposed shoulders, legs and feet far longer than is necessary.
    • Yang Xin, the 25-year-old director of the Alchemists' Guild, is generally seen wearing an outfit with an unusually low neckline, even when on official business. And that's assuming we're not getting a scene with her in the bath.
    • It's debatable whether Hu Yan Lan Ruo has a more revealing outfit than Shen Xiu, but unlike that teacher, the provocative nature of her dress appears to be deliberate.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: So... is there anything that Nie Li didn't manage to learn in his past life? Or that he doesn't just happen to have in his Bag of Holding?
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, the city is way better prepared to handle the invasion of demon beasts this time around, compared to Nie Li's original timeline. On the other hand, Nie Li's meddling (in particular his provocation of the Sacred Family) causes the invasion to occur much earlier than anticipated. Overall, it's a net positive as the city ultimately survives the assault, but only at great cost.
  • Older Than They Look: Although Yang Xin is not really that old to begin with, being only 25 at the time the comic begins, she's made to look younger still thanks to bathing with purple mist grass.
    • Although he's physically thirteen at the beginning of the story, he has a century of experience from his past life, thanks to the Temporal Demon Spirit Book.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Nie Li effectively has one, thanks to his memories from his past life. It eliminates the need for a Secret Test of Character to determine their trustworthiness; whether they know it or not, everyone has undergone this test, based on what they did when Glory City was attacked, and only Nie Li knows who passed.
  • Orcus on His Throne: The Sage Emperor, ultimate Big Bad of the story, spends most of it asleep and unaware of Nie Li's existence, with the actual villainy being carried out indirectly by his servants.
  • Our Souls Are Different: "Soul realms" are people's inner spiritual worlds. Their power can be improved through meditation, training, and special alchemical elixirs. They can also be used to hold the spirits of demon beasts, if one has the proper skill as a Demon Spiritualist, and thereby draw upon the demon beast's power.
  • Playing the Victim Card: A non-villainous example- Nie Li takes advantage of the fact that he's (physically) thirteen years old so that he can escape punishment for various transgressions and social faux pas, making older characters feel bad for accusing him of malevolent scheming. It helps that he has very good Puppy-Dog Eyes.
  • Polyamory: Discussed. Few people have a problem with Nie Li trying to have good, seemingly romantic, relations with both Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er, especially once he saves Glory City from a massive demon beast attack as it is the norm for powerful nobles to have multiple wives. The fact that he's able to secure impressive dowries for both women doesn't hurt their families' feelings either.
  • Power Levels: There are five ranks for both Fighters and Demon Spiritualists: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Black Gold, and Legendary. Those ranks are also divided into five "stars," with more stars indicating a more powerful person.
    • There are also rankings for souls based on their colors. From weakest to strongest, they're red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, azure and indigo. Ye Ziyun has a cyan soul, while Shen Yue and Xiao Ning'er have green souls- almost everyone else, including Li, has red souls.
      • This is discussed when Nie Li points out that the colour of a soul only really defines which types of cultivation it's able to properly use, and which Demon Beasts it's likely to safely bond with. Because he's come back with knowledge of more cultivation techniques than are even recorded in the libraries of Glory City, he's able to provide each of his teammates with the appropriate ones to fit their personal talents. (Whether or not the nobility deliberately lost those 'lower-class' cultivation techniques in order to maintain their power is briefly touched upon.)
  • Rags to Riches: Ye Mo started life as a commoner, but thanks to being a once-in-a-century genius, was able to rise to the rank of a Legendary Demon Spiritualist. Although he's long gone, Nie Li considers him a role model.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Xiao Ning'er plays the role of the Red Oni, while Ye Ziyun takes on the role of the Blue Oni.
  • Reincarnation Romance: An odd variant: thanks to effectively reincarnating as his past self, Nie Li is able to pursue his (tragically short-lived) romance with Ye Ziyun several years before it otherwise would've happened.
  • The Rival: Shen Yue of the Sacred Family plays this role to Nie Li, at least in the first part of the story.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: If you want to increase your soul power, you can either train rigorously, cultivating your soul over the course of many years... or you can consume an (incredibly expensive) elixir to achieve much the same effect. Of course, it works best if you train as well, as more than one of Nie Li's opponents has found out the hard way.
    • Eventually, this ethos is also adopted by Nie Li- with the massive amount of money that his connections to the Alchemists' Guild gives him, he can skirt a lot of rules that most people would never get away with.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy : In the original timeline, the Sage Emperor used calculations on natural law to predict the future and determine that Nie Li would be his archnemesis, and set out to hurt him and his loved ones as much as possible as a result... which was, of course, the reason Nie Li became his archnemesis in the first place. This gets even worse for him because while, in the original timeline, he ultimately succeeded at killing Nie Li, the Temporal Demon Spirit Book sent Nie Li back in time and means that now he's created an even stronger archenemy that he's not yet aware of.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Everything Nie Li does is meant to prevent the destruction of Glory City. Whether or not he succeeds has yet to be seen.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Ye Ziyun is the daughter of a powerful noble family, and conducts herself with propriety and grace. She is also gifted with one of the most powerful soul realms of her generation, and has the potential to become a Legendary Demon Spiritualist, given time and training. And that's before she adopts Nie Li's specialized cultivation technique...
  • Stronger Sibling: In the original timeline, Nie Li's younger sister, Xiao Yu, was even stronger than he was. Even in the current timeframe (where she's still a small child), she's a bit of a Little Miss Badass capable of lifting several times her own weight.
  • The Syndicate: The Dark Guild is a criminal organization that, among other things, acts to undermine the leadership of Glory City, through a combination of terrorism, assassination, and blackmail. And they're powerful enough to legitimately scare the noble families. Except for the Sacred Family, who they work for.
  • The Team Benefactor: Nie Li chooses to give his allies the secrets behind some powerful cultivation techniques he learned about in his past life, allowing them to train their abilities far faster than would otherwise be possible.
    • Nie Li also winds up playing this role to the entire Alchemists' Guild, helping to bring them back to prominence with a few carefully provided recipes he picked up in his past life. They, in return, give him giant sacks of cash.
  • Teens Are Short: Nie Li and the female cast look physically quite mature unless they happen to be standing next to an adult, at which point they frequently get dwarfed.
  • Threesome Subtext: While Nie Li is absolutely set on Ye Ziyun, multiple characters note that it's not unusual for nobility to have multiple wives. Even her own father has two, possibly three counting Ye Ziyun's deceased mother. So if he was interested he could probably marry both Ye Ziyun and Xiao Ning'er... but unfortunately for the latter he's not particularly interested. He changes his mind later and comes to love both of them.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Thanks to the Temporal Demon Spirit Book, Nie Li was able to travel back in time to when he was thirteen, retaining all of his memories from his original life.
  • Troll: While not usually pronounced, Nie Li has some trollish tendencies, particularly where the Sacred Family is concerned. It's probably the biggest stain on his Omniscient Morality License, as antagonizing one of the three most powerful families in Glory City and the employers of the Dark Guild may have unpredictable consequences.
  • True Companions: Nie Li decides to become this with Lu Piao and Du Ze because, despite being relatively weak, they chose to stay behind and fight when Glory City gets overrun, sacrificing themselves to allow others to escape. This time around, Nie Li intends to give them a boost in the form of superior cultivation techniques, in the hopes that it'll keep them alive.
    • Later on, he adds Zhu Yu Jun, Zhang Ming, and Wei Nan- all commoners with red-hued soul realms- to his cadre.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It's amazing how little suspicion Nie Li manages to attract to himself, considering how rapidly he has increased his power, and how much obscure knowledge he has demonstrated. Justified in that almost all of the people who might call him out on it have a vested interest in his success:
    • His friends are just happy to have whatever help Nie Li can provide them, and have little reason not to trust him, given how much he has bestowed on them.
    • His teachers look much better when they produce talented students, and Nie Li is about as talented as it gets.
    • Both his family and the Alchemists' Guild don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, considering his alchemical recipes brought them incredible wealth and influence.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: While every cultivator suddenly wants purple mist grass after it's discovered to make spirit-enhancing elixirs much more powerful, women in particular want it because using it in an herbal bath makes them look younger and prettier.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Nie Li technically has the worst possible soul for becoming a Demon Spiritualist. However, thanks to the wealth of knowledge he obtained in his past life, he has the techniques necessary to obtain great power, regardless of his supposed potential.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: Nie Li's entire family is elated when he announces he passed the test to become a Bronze-rank Demon Spiritualist. His father, in particular, is happy about the tax break the family will get.
  • World of Badass: In order to obtain even the lowest Rank for a Fighter, a one-star Bronze, you have to be able to lift a hundred pound rock over your head and punch through a tree the thickness of your arm. Higher-ranked Fighters are even stronger, and even they don't compare to the power wielded by Demon Spiritualists.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Nie Li has a multi-layered scheme involving purple mist grass, a relatively common herb that is primarily used for insect repellent and incense. He happens to know purple mist grass has many more uses than most people realize, particularly as a reagent for certain elixirs. So he stocked up on purple mist grass, sent the formulae that used purple mist grass to the Alchemists' Guild, and then resold it once the price skyrocketed.
    • But that was only the first part of the plan. Part two involved exploiting the goodwill that came from donating those formulae. After he completely demolished the exam to become a primary master at the Alchemists' Guild, he unloaded the bombshell that he- or rather, his "master"- had a number of incredibly valuable lost recipes at his disposal, and would hand them over in exchange for a massive chunk of the profits. Naturally, they go along with it.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The Temporal Demon Spirit Book allowed Nie Li to get nearly a century of experience in his past life, despite apparently dying in his late teens or early twenties. This is the explanation for how he can do so many things so well.
  • Younger Than They Look: The main female cast is only thirteen or fourteen, but are far better developed than you'd expect for their stated age. The only indications that they're not even close to being adults is a slight rounding to the features and that they're weirdly tiny when standing next to any adult.

Alternative Title(s): Tales Of Demons And Gods


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