Book 1 Chapter 1 - Northward
A great gale swept through Deereast City.
There was less rain this year than in the past, which was why even after the great winds swept past, the skies over this remote city was still a bit overcast.
An ordinary carriage that had just replaced its wheels left Deereast City West’s tavern. After some long time passed, it finally made its way through Deereast City, leaving through the eastern gates. Then, it continued eastward, gradually fading from the view of the spear holding soldiers atop the city watchtowers.
Apart from the carriage driver being a delicate fifteen or sixteen year old young lady leaving the soldiers a bit surprised, this carriage didn’t draw any further attention.
The government office in Deereast City was like an inner city of its own. Kiln cooked cob brick walls surrounded the city, reaching five zhang into the sky. The government office in charge of managing the city’s affairs only occupied a third of the northern buildings, the remaining areas were all used for barracks and training ground purposes.
This city didn’t really have any distinguishing characteristics. Ever since Yunqin Empire founded the country, the styles of all of the city government offices were in this type of layout, only the size set by the provincial government.
The city supervisor’s office was located in the middle of Deereast City government’s northern sector. Right now, there were several giant red candles lit within.
These giant red candles drove away the last trace of darkness from this serene, green tile covered hall. However, when the flickering candle flames shone on Li Xiping’s face, it accurately reflected his endlessly fluctuating mental state.
As the highest commanding officer of Deereast City’s population of four million, the short and small-statured, slender-faced Li Xiping’s appearance wasn’t all that astonishing.
His casual gray gown even had traces of grease on it. However, at this moment, an iron blood aura that was as heavy as a mountain, to the extent where it was hard for others to even breathe, was spreading from this rather unremarkable, wizened elder’s body.
“Sir…” A middle-aged man with thick brows, perfectly straight posture, dressed in black light leather armor found the long silence and pressure a bit hard to endure, but he still only greeted Deereast City’s highest commander respectfully, only calling out ‘sir’. Before he said anything further, the brows of the worn out Li Xiping jumped. He took a deep breath, and then after exhaling, he gave this thick-browed middle-aged man a look. “Go bring Zhang Zhendong to Scarface Liu, take him to Blackwater Pool.”
“Blackwater Pool?” The thick-browed middle-aged man straightened his body out of habit, but the shocked expression was still clearly visible on his face. With some hesitation, he asked, “Sir, isn’t this a bit too harsh?”
“Harsh?” Li Xiping’s face fell. The instant his face sunk, it was almost as if a thick wave of bloodiness flooded this hall. “If not for the two of us fighting together on the border for more than two years, if this type of thing happened, even without orders from higher up, I would have directly thrown him into jail and given him a life sentence!” Li Xiping looked at this thick-browed middle-aged man and criticized with a stern voice, “A serious illness needs strong medicine, have you not taken the time to think just what kind of times Yunqin Empire is in right now?! If he isn’t sent to that type of place, not only would that person’s anger not be quelled, when the time comes, his death will be even more unpleasant. Moreover, even our lives will be forfeit because of him!”
The thick-browed middle-aged man immediately felt a chill run through his body. He understood clearly just what kind of decisiveness Li Xiping, who had experienced endless struggles in a place like Dragon Snake Valley’s border army, had. In the eight years this middle-aged soldier was stationed in Deereast City, he had never seen Li Xiping with such an overcast expression on his face, speak with such a severe tone.
“Who exactly was that person, for even a personal servant girl to have that type of attitude?” He nodded, and then couldn’t help but ask.
“Servant girl?” Li Xiping immediately laughed coldly, his narrowed eyes becoming even colder. “You’ve stayed in the border army before, so you should know that the less you know, the less opinions you develop, thus the easier it is for you to survive.”
“I understand, sir.” This thick-browed middle-aged man shivered again. He bowed, preparing to withdraw, but right at this time, Li Xiping muttered to himself for a bit, and then said, “Help me make some arrangements. Have Uncle Liu drive a carriage, I am going to personally make a trip to Deerwood Town.”
The thick-browed middle-aged man stared blankly for a moment, the expression of shock in his eyes becoming even greater. However, this time, he didn’t say too much. After another respectful bow, he withdrew.
When this thick-browed middle-aged man withdrew from the city supervisor office’s entrance, Li Xiping raised the teacup on the table in front of him, but his hand stopped for a moment in mid-air. At this moment, he couldn’t control the anger within anymore, with a pa sound, the teacup was smashed to pieces.
There was nothing more helplessly infuriating than having to see a comrade who he had gone to hell and back with become corrupt, and then have to personally send him down a path of death. Even Li Xiping, who, during his time in the border army, had already been tempered to the point where he wouldn’t bat an eyelid even if someone spat in his face, couldn’t control his emotions right now, his chest rising and falling intensely.
However, after just a dozen or so breaths, his indescribable inner rage calmed down. He didn’t even bother changing out of his gray robes that had a bit of tea splashed on them, instead directly walking out of this city supervisor office that was now already bathed in sunlight.
When he stepped out of the doors, two soldiers dressed in yellow clothes immediately entered the city supervisor office, quickly cleaning it. Meanwhile, he himself walked into the carriage already prepared outside.
This carriage was driven by an elder with grizzled hair. They left Deereast City, passed through Crow Prison Town and thirty li of grasslands, over Blackwater Crossing, and then finally entered Deerwood Town.
Soon afterwards, Li Xiping, who was dressed in dull gray robes, got off at Deerwood Town, walking on foot to the hill the pretty young lady’s carriage passed by several days ago. This city supervisor who looked even older than his real age gave the sky a look. He broke off a branch along the way, using it for support as he slowly walked towards another small town. The further he went, the straighter his back became, the branch in his hands also becoming more and more like a blade that was dragged along the earth, a sharp sword.
The city supervisor carriage the grizzled haired elder drove stopped in Deerwood town for a day. Early the next morning, it slowly left Deerwood Town.
A short and stout middle-aged man and a good-looking married woman holding a pretty little girl saw the carriage all the way to the town exit, eyes all red. An old yellow dog slowly followed behind the three of them.
Lin Xi sat inside the carriage on the soft silk padding, continuously waving his hands towards the three individuals and the old yellow dog, his eyes also completely red. “Mom, dad, sis, you all should go back already! Dad, the bottles of alcohol you are missing are all hidden under my bed, already marinated into medicinal wine! If you miss me, then drink a few gulps every day! Mom, you have to take care of your health, be careful not to catch a cold again! Little sis, you have to be obedient, brother will bring back some interesting things for you when I come back! Also, yellow boi, you better not go after those two birds!”
“Wa…” Originally, Lin Qian was still fine, but when she heard Lin Xi’s loud shouts of goodbyes, saw the carriage speed up, her mouth immediately flattened, crying out loudly.
Tears immediately tumbled down the good-looking woman’s face as well.
“You little rascal!” The merchant-like short and stout middle-aged man seemed like he was about to loudly scold Lin Xi, but after just a single line, he instead secretly wiped the corners of his eyes. As he watched the carriage gradually leave, this short and chubby middle-aged man surprisingly also shouted out, saying, “Little rascal, don’t speak any more nonsense from now on! The outside world isn’t like Deerwood Town!”
“Dad, wasn’t the furthest you went your entire life just the next city over?” Normally, how could Lin Xi dare say such a thing? Yet today, Lin Xi instead nodded, and then with a voice all three at the town entrance could hear, said, “I understand, father.”
“You little rascal.” The middle-aged merchant muttered again, but his eyes were completely blurred now.
The carriage headed northward. Eventually, the two adults, one child, and the old yellow dog’s figures could no longer be seen. Only when he couldn’t even see Deerwood Town’s outlines anymore did Lin Xi lower the carriage window curtain. He released a sigh, and then leaned against the carriage’s soft padding.
Even though he had never even left Deerwood Town before, he wasn’t in a hurry to see the scenery along the sides of the road. He understood that with this type of carriage speed, in this similarly vast world, he will definitely see enough different places in the next few weeks to make him want to puke.
Even though in the past two or so years, he had already completely assimilated into this world, also accepted his new identity, the recent series of events made him couldn’t help but recall his past.
The last time he left on a long journey was to attend school. At that time, he got on a train, something this world’s people had no way of understanding, he was alone. His old man, who was always running around with his tea business, only gave him a one time sum for his four years’ living expenses, while his mother, who only knew how to recklessly gamble away money, already parted ways with his dad five or six years ago. He had no idea where she was, and she probably didn’t even know that he had been accepted into university.
Only things that were unattainable seemed more precious. That was why when he discovered that he had arrived in this new world, became a different person, even obtaining some unique abilities, he wasn’t like a countryside kid who was leaving a small town, about to see the world outside for the first time, as if he was experiencing a world-shocking undertaking. Even towards Yunqin Empire, his understanding was only limited to this being a powerful empire with a rather rigorous set of laws, its territory occupying almost the entire central continent, administrative units divided into towns, cities, regions, and provinces.
A family that didn’t have to worry about food, a father who was shrewd and crafty when doing business, but was willing to kneel for two days and two nights in the temple while praying for his seriously ill son, even promising to donate a small half of his family property, a smart, cute, and obedient little sister, an outwardly strict, but actually gentle and kind mother, all of them living in a peaceful and secluded little town; he was actually extremely content with this type of life.
However, these two carriages, one after the next, shattered his peaceful and content lifestyle.
Even though he didn’t know the status of that young lady who was even younger than himself, she was definitely connected to the appearance of this carriage.
“Green Luan Academy, what kind of place is this?”
As soon as he recalled how scary that young lady whose face was always serious was, a somewhat strange expression immediately appeared on Lin Xi’s face.
Then, he produced a long and narrow cloth sack from the bag beside him, undoing the top.
Inside was a dagger that had been sharpened well, glittering like frost and snow.
He held this shining dagger, hiding it in his sleeves, gently tearing through the carriage curtain in front.
The old man’s hair was quite gray, from the looks of it not really combed either, unkempt like a ball of cotton. As the carriage went up and down, this elder who sat at the front of the carriage, his back towards Lin Xi, was actually snoozing away.
Lin Xi watched silently for a bit, and then made an incomprehensible movement.
His face remained calm, to the extent where he even carried a curious and expectant expression, silently moving the dagger towards the elder’s lower back.
The air around the carriage suddenly went cold. The elder didn’t turn around, but Lin Xi’s heart suddenly began to pound, a wave of biting chilliness immediately spreading through his entire body. It was difficult to see what even happened. His entire body flew out from the carriage, smashing heavily into the roadside shrubbery, the fall making it hard for him to even breathe. His entire body felt like it was broken, left in an extremely miserable state.
“What are you trying to do?” The carriage came to a stop. The grizzled haired elder looked at Lin Xi who was in a rather sorry state from his fall, his expression completely cold. The dagger that was previously in Lin Xi’s hands was pinched between two fingers, currently bent at a strange angle right now.
Lin Xi finally managed to gasp for air with great difficulty. He spat out a withered leaf and dirt from his mouth, but when he faced the elder with the completely cold expression, it was as if he obtained an answer, muttering to himself, “Turns out this world really has formidable experts!”
“Can you fly? Do you have flying swords? Magic spells?” Under the grizzled haired elder’s stunned eyes, this young man whose face was covered in traces of blood finally managed to climb to his feet with great difficulty, asking him this in a deadly earnest manner.
“Get on the carriage. If you try that again, I’ll break your hands.” After the gray-haired elder examined Lin Xi with narrowed eyes, he turned around, saying this in an ice-cold and direct manner.
Lin Xi who didn’t receive a reply shook his head helplessly, and then he instead softly spoke a word.
Then, Lin Xi really did return inside the carriage, back to when he first brought out the dagger from the pouch. He leaned against the soft padding in the carriage, his clothes clean, not a single injury on his face.
That dagger that had already been bent out of shape was resting perfectly fine inside of his bag, while that grizzled haired elder who released the suffocating killing intent, iron-blooded aura like that of a mountain of corpses, a sea of blood, was still like an ordinary old man, dozing off from time to time at the front of the carriage, seemingly completely harmless.
In the bright and beautiful radiance of springtime, this carriage that hadn’t experienced anything unusual headed north.