Nameless Immortal chap 39

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by NotNice, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 20 Paying Without Thinking

    Eznho was walking under the snow along the roads of the northern district unaware of the undercurrents happening around him. He was pondering what to buy for his aunt and his big brother now that he has money to spare. While thinking, he was also trying to read the signboards of the shops hoping it would give him ideas.

    “I have no idea what would aunt Minchin like, as for big brother, argh!”

    His head was messy while to think of something when he saw a jewelry store.

    “That’s it, women like jewelry,” He was delighted and went inside.

    The store was full of all kinds of jewelry - earrings, necklace, rings and with different styles. His mind became blank after seeing so many luxury items.

    “Which one should I pick?” He smiled wryly while trying to choose when a lady in her forties came to greet him.

    “Welcome to my shop young fellow, looking for something for a dear lady?”

    She smiled amicably with her thick makeup. The smell of strong perfume surrounded her green dress and fur coat that covered her upper torso. Eznho was surprised by the question and immediately denied with embarrassment.

    “Ah? No, no, you are mistaken madam, I am looking something to give to my aunt,”

    “No need to deny young man, ahhhh, young love,”

    The shop owner teased while trying to make a seductive face.

    What’s wrong with this lady?

    Eznho was a bit creeped out and took a step back as if he was gonna be molested. Looking at the boy’s reaction, the lady was amused.

    “Hoho, no need to be flustered young man. Okay, what do you want to buy for your ‘aunt’? By the way, you can call me madam Mary.”

    “Uhhh, I’m Eznho. I don’t actually know what to buy for her.”

    Eznho was weirded by the lady but still tried to behave nicely, he did not really pay attention to what jewelries her aunt wore. Mary pondered and thought of something,

    “Hmmm, let’s see, how about a pearl necklace?”

    She suggested and invited Eznho to where the pearl necklaces are. Eznho on the other hand, really no idea what to pick so he just randomly picked a simple but elegant looking pearl necklace.

    “Good choice, are you sure about this?”

    Mary did not try to “advise” the boy as he immediately picked the most expensive of his pearl necklace collection.

    Eznho just nodded in response.

    “That would be 300 gold coins,” Mary stated with a beaming smile.

    The heck? That expensive?

    It had to be known her aunt only gets a couple of gold coins a month as her salary. Eznho could not help but sigh inside how rich people live in luxury while others struggle to find something to eat for a day. The more he discovered the world, the more he learned how beautiful and cruel it was at the same time.

    Too embarrassed to reject, he just swallowed it and tried not to think about it. It is just money anyway, it is nothing compared to his aunt. Finishing the deal, he secured the jewelry box and went on his way.

    “Ai, what a shame I should have told a higher number, who knew he had so much juice in him. Anyways, I need to prepare myself, the others might leave without prior notice.”

    Mary saw the disappearing boy outside and shook her head then went on her own business.

    .....

    Back at the top floor of the bank, a communication device lit up and dimmed which made everyone stop what they were doing.

    The aged old voice spoke up with an obvious delight,

    “A new information came in, our informants found traces of golden blood in the forest near the mines. But what puzzled them is that according to their investigation a battle ensued but it was not a large one. They even reported that it was possible that the fight did not involve the magical beast. Basing on the evidence they gathered, there was a high chance that the serpent died in the forest without struggling. The only way to confirm what happened is to find the mercenary captains which would take a little time.”

    After relaying the information, everyone became silent. It was true, the only people they could interrogate were the mercenary captains, the other party involved were military officers. He trusted his informants and made his own predictions basing on their reports.

    “Ai, it seems somebody else was involved in this. Unless the beast died while fleeing?”

    He shook his head while thinking about it, the furrowed his brow.

    “Impossible, a magical beast is a beast after all and would never go down without a fight. The only possibility would be that it did not have the chance to attack. Whatever, we can only know the truth after the mercenary captains are found. Many eyes are starting to pry in this matter, let us just wait and see what happens next.”

    The other three just sat there in silence indicating their approval.

    .....

    Eznho, on the other hand, made a decision on what he would give to his big brother and went inside a weapon shop. The store was filled with random things but they were mostly weapons of different kinds and materials.

    A robust middle-aged man with a scar on his cheek came to greet him with great enthusiasm.

    “Hello there young man, my name is Brad, how may I able to assist you? what are you looking for?”

    “Uhmmm...” Eznho was overwhelmed with the man’s enthusiasm and his series of questions.

    “I’m looking for a weapon, a sword,”

    “Hmmm? aren’t you too young for weapons?”

    Brad was skeptical, yes, cultivators started when they were young but inside Sin city, almost no kids of the younger practiced cultivation. After all, this city was just like a pit stop for merchants and travelers.

    “Uhmmm, it’s for my big brother, a gift,” Eznho answered honestly.

    “Hah! So that’s how it is, you are right in time. I have new stocks and most of them I made myself.”

    Brad said with a proud face and showed Eznho his goods. There were ten swords of different sizes and designs made from different materials.

    Eznho was weighing his options, he wanted the best for his big brother but according to his short experience, treasures can get a person killed. So he wanted to pick a good sword with a decent price that would not attract too much attention.

    Looking at the boy’s reaction, Brad immediately introduced his sword.

    He picked a greatsword, the blade was a meter long it was thick and half a foot wide.

    “This greatsword was forged by me using precious metals, it can break armors easily and crush the enemy’s bone. I name it Bone Crusher!”

    Brad announced with head held high as if showing a newly born prince to his people. Eznho was amused but did not like the sword it would be too bulky and heavy for his big brother.

    Looking at the boy’s unmoved demeanor, he picked a smaller sword. It was also a meter long sword but it was thin and only an inch wide.

    “This baby right here was born after delicately forging it for a week, I had to be careful with her you know. But don’t be fooled by her appearance. She can cut you without knowing you were hurt and would only feel it after and pierce your heart with gracefulness you would smile dying like an idiot, behold the ever beautiful sword, Woman’s Tongue!”

    Brad was like on the stage with glistening stars around him while caressing the like it was his lover filled with emotions.

    The heck?

    Eznho nearly vomited blood looking at this man like he was performing in an opera. Looking at the boy’s reaction, Brad was disgruntled.

    “Hmph! You are a naive boy, you still have never tasted a woman’s love and betrayal.”

    He carefully put down the sword like a man putting down his lover on top of the bed.

    What is this guy talking about? Eznho thought to himself.

    “What a pity you don’t know anything about the beauty of weapons, let me tell you this. A weapon is your companion, it will never betray you and never leave you, unlike people. Hmph!”

    This man is crazy. Eznho once again met a weird shop owner, “are they all like this?” he thought inwardly.

    Brad then took out another sword, it was also a meter long but it was two inches wide. It was made from a standard metal used in the army but it was in a better condition and quality. After all, he forged it with pride.

    “If you pick this, your brother will smile even on his dreams. I call him Gentleman’s Persistence, don’t be fooled by his name. It can penetrate anything and make every cut bleed and never make it heal, it will always bleed at least every month. Mwahahaha.”

    Brad was laughing while introducing his sword with a burning passion in his eyes.

    I have to get out of here. Eznho thought that the man was crazy but when he saw the sword his eyes lit up. Judging by its look, it was like an ordinary sword but with his sharp senses, he could see that its quality was better than the average sword.

    He could not wait any longer to get out of this shop,

    “How much?”

    Brad was overjoyed when Eznho showed interest,

    “Hmmm? Good, I thought you were blind, because I can see that you are a man of culture as well, I’ll give it for eight hundred gold coins instead of a thousand.”

    Eznho was in a daze and his jaw dropped,

    A weapon cost that much? Then he thought about the dagger that his big brother bought for him. In the end, money is just money so he just bought it straight up.

    Brad was in a good mood after receiving the money he never thought the boy would buy it and not even tried to bargain.

    “I should have said a thousand damn, I underestimated him.” He thought to himself.

    “My name is Brad, I am the best blacksmith in the city. You can come back here if you need more weapons and I can give you a discount. Is there anything else you need?”

    He introduced and boasted and did not even care about the boy’s name.

    Eznho was about to say goodbye when he thought about something,

    “Actually I need something, do you happen to have a map of the kingdom?”

    “A map?”

    Brad was disappointed when Eznho asked about a map but to leave a good impression so he went in front of a wooden chest filled with dust and opened it with a creaking sound.

    Cough! cough!

    Dust invaded his airways while he tried to find the map within the pile of random things.

    “Aha! Found it!” Brad shouted as he took out an old scroll with small tears on the edges.

    “Here you go lad, I’ll give it to you as a bonus. It’s not that detailed but it shows a vague map around the kingdom and its neighbors. I used to be an adventurer like you but then I took an arrow to the heart.”

    Brad held his chest as if remembering something then handed it to Eznho as a sign of goodwill but in truth, the map can be bought for just a gold as it was only a general map with no specific details.

    What’s wrong with him? Eznho thought while listening to the man’s nonsensical words.

    “Uhmmm, okay thanks, and goodbye.”

    Eznho hurriedly received the scroll without even looking at it with the box that contained the sword and scurried away.

    “Ai, the energy of youth, thanks for your patronage boy,” He was grinning while remembering his successful transaction.

    .....

    Eznho was nearing the gate leading out of the district, with a rectangular box hanging on his shoulder with a strap. He was quite happy and was excited to present his gifts. He did not think much about the gold he spent when suddenly a random memory came popping in regarding his big brother’s advice about haggling.

    “Wait a minute, have I been duped?”

    He smiled helplessly when he thought about it, many things have been running through his mind and just paid what the shop owners told him, but at the same time even if he did haggle, he did not have any idea how much those items should really be bought for.

    In this matter, Eznho was not at fault. His experience outside the world was just so little, maybe his big brother’s advice was true, being a good talker has a lot of benefits.

    “Lesson learned I guess, I’ll be careful next time,”

    He breathed out a helpless sigh and shook his head, nothing can be done about it. If he wants to learn the way the world works, he has to experience it himself. There are things he has yet to learn. He closed his eyes and calmed down, when he opened them again, his eyes looked more mature brimming with excitement. Tilting his head, he took one last look at the area and went back to the inn.
     
  2. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 21 Hot!

    Arriving at the inn, Eznho put down what he was carrying and took a bath then started to practice cultivation. A lot has changed inside his body after completing the Tiger Chasing the Wind. His skin, flesh and bones contained hints of heavenly energy that nourished them, they were tougher and can cause damage to others even without covering it with energy. As a cultivator advances in his cultivation, his body also upgrades. Although there is a difference when compared to body enhancers, a cultivators body still has its own advantages.

    Checking his dantian, the heavenly energy stored became more significantly abundant and thicker. As long as he practiced cultivation, his stored energy will slowly increase and will have a qualitative and quantitative change as long as he made breakthroughs in the future.

    Retracting his consciousness, he was pondering what to do about his blood and marrow purification. A chant has been imprinted on his memory but it will take a long time to finish if he will only rely on it. If this was before, he would not mind the time but a nagging feeling of uneasiness has been scratching him. Especially when the old man was acting weird and seemed to be running from something or someone.

    He saw the jar in the corner and pondered,

    “The smelly old man’s cultivation seems to be pretty high, what kind of favor would he ask me?”

    He was having a conflict whether to owe the old man a favor or not, although he had money, it was still risky to buy a beast blood by himself especially that he had no experience. After thinking further, he decided to open the jar and would deal with the consequences in the future.

    Standing in front of the jar, he let a droplet fall into the cover.

    Buzz

    A light hum came from the cover then a circular formation lit up made with runes that Eznho could not understand then it dimmed out. He lifted the lid with ease and made a small opening, a thin golden mist came out of the hole bringing a fragrant smell.

    The sweet honey smell piqued his curiosity and fully opened it, the jar was nearly full with a golden liquid.

    “Is this a beast blood?”

    Eznho was curious, what kind of beast would have a golden blood? He guessed it this way because according to his acquired knowledge, only a beast blood can be used to assist the cultivator in blood and marrow purification.

    He already opened the jar so might as well go all the way.

    “Here goes nothing,”

    He took a sip and the taste of blood did not come, instead, it tasted like honey but when he gulped it down it was like hell.

    Arrgg!

    He nearly shouted due to the sudden burning pain, sweat started to come out of his pores in volume. His body was starting to redden like he was being cooked, the pain was unbearable and he clutched his stomach while rolling on the floor trying to find a way to ease the pain.

    He felt like his blood was boiling inside a volcano ready to erupt any minute.

    Blerrgh!

    Black blood came out of his mouth after half an hour of agonizing pain. He continued to lay on the floor, his room was filled with stench while his body was soaked in sweat along with impurities.

    “Haa, Haa, that was nasty, I bet the old man is laughing right now,” he was gasping for breath. It was like he just crawled out from hell after an intense struggle and could not even move a muscle.

    .....

    In a faraway place, the smell of blood permeated the air, a dozen of dried up bodies laid on the ground with gruesome wounds. Their limbs were twisted like a cloth being squeezed to remove water, the agony could still be seen on their face. The blood of the corpses evaporated from the body then turned into a mist and was being absorbed by a flower. An old man was walking towards the flower, the color of the five petals was blood red.

    “Finally I can harvest you Blood Flower, two more to go.”

    Wounds covered him but it did not matter as long as he got what he needed. Luring the enemies here to nourish the flower was not an easy feat. He was preparing to leave before more people came when he felt something.

    “Hmmm? You owe me one sissy, I might need that one day, so don’t die before that. I hope you like the surprise, hahaha.”

    He could not help but laugh while imagining the boy agonizing in pain.

    Old man Dan planted a seed with uncertain value but what he did not know is that this seed will have a big impact on his life in the future.

    .....

    Three days have passed since Eznho’s first encounter with the golden blood, he looked disheveled and exhausted inside his room. He was like a homeless man that just got out of a dumpster, a foul smell filled the room. The owner even came in because the other occupants were starting to complain so he had to pay extra for the additional cleaning.

    Looking at the jar, a slight fear could be seen in his eyes, even though there were great improvements on his blood and marrow, the price he had to pay was to experience an unimaginable pain of being cooked alive. Only a tenth of the total amount was reduced during this past three days. Heavenly energy surrounded him once he started to practice his breathing technique, this was a testament to how good his foundation is.

    “Ahhh, this feels great,”

    Eznho was overjoyed despite the hell-like experience, his strength obviously has increased yet again. After a couple of hours, his energy was replenished and started to pack his things. Tomorrow, he would go back home and reunite with the people he deeply cared about.

    .....

    A day earlier at the border, inside the captain’s tent, two people were talking while looking at a map. It was Wilfred and Batista, the captain was a big burly man with a fierce and stern face. His hair was cleanly shaved just like his face, an aura of a war veteran surrounded him which made others look at him with fear and respect.

    “How much time do you reckon Wilky needs before he reaches and comes back with support?”

    Batista asked with a serious face, the enemies are already pressuring them too much.

    “Ai, I think he will reach the headquarters within two weeks or possibly earlier if he will use teleportation, and the trip back would depend on who will come back with him. If we are lucky and Colonel Anders is not busy, he can come personally and end this farce Floyd has made. The worst would be, they will just give a decree and Wilky will have to travel again by himself. It all depends on his ability to talk. Just sending a message won’t do any good, it would be hard to convince them without evidence. The golden serpent is, after all, a nearly extinct beast and not many people have the knowledge about it. Luckily, Wilky somehow stumbled on this information, even I don’t know what it was at first before he told me. But basing on Floyd’s reaction, he also knows about it, what a bummer.”

    “I’m sorry brother, I can’t just move my unit unless there is an order from the top. You know how it is unless I will become a colonel.”

    Wilfred explained with an apologetic and helpless face.

    “Don’t worry brother, I understand, you don’t have to explain anything. I also know you are doing this for my sake. We will just have to defend and wait, but one of our spies reported that Colonel James just arrived at Blackstone city yesterday. Personally, I don’t know why he would be involved, it is not just worth it. The goods are gone and he can’t do anything about it, did he hit his head or something?” Batista patted Wilfred’s shoulder while reassuring him.

    “I can’t understand either, maybe Floyd tempted him with something. Brother, I suggest you evacuate your family out of the city just to be sure, you know how underhanded Floyd can get.”

    Batista’s eyes suddenly filled with killing intent,

    “You are right, that bastard will do anything just to achieve his goals. I’ll order right away someone to go inform them and I am sure that that useless fat ass city lord will get the wind of it. Might as well directly inform him so they can travel together to increase the number of guards. The roads are filled with bandits these days, damn that Floyd. If not because of his actions, our casualties would not reach a high number and we would not be in this situation.”

    Wilfred stayed silent, these number of casualties are nothing in the army but his brother now commands only a few hundred and was not a member of the military force of the kingdom anymore. Normally, Batista just protects the city due to his injuries and not the border but because of the gold mine, he had to help defend the border because they are close to it. But even so, casualties would only be minimal, but due to Floyd’s persistent attacks, it continued to increase every day.

    “We can’t do anything for now but to continue defending, by the way how’s the young man who saved your son?”

    Batista calmed down a little after hearing his brother’s question. About a week earlier, the opposing kingdom suddenly launched a heavy attack that caught them off-guard. Whether it was coincidence or not, his son was on patrol with another guard. An arrow flew in the air aiming for his son but his companion pushed him taking the hit on his chest. His companion was not a cultivator so he was badly injured. Until now, he was still unconscious.

    “Ow about that, I found out his name was Martin and he is here because that fatso ordered a decree for him to serve at the border for two years. I investigated why and it turns out Martin along with a young boy bumped with the little fatso on the southern city road. My daughter intervened so the little fatso waited for a while to exact his vengeance. Martin was sent here and the young boy in the mines, what a nasty plan. Regarding the boy, Randolf canceled the decree due to his contributions and he went home a week ago. I already made a decree for Martin but he has yet to wake up, although the doctor said he’s showing signs of fully waking up and maybe will regain consciousness tomorrow. I am still thinking on how to repay him, he saved my only son after all.”

    .....

    Blackstone city, it was a city somewhat similar with Sin city due to its location. North was also where influential people resided, inside a grandly decorated courtyard, Floyd was standing in the main hall with a military posture. He was reporting to a man who was sitting in the master’s chair, only a silhouette can be seen but Floyd felt that a beast was staring at him making him nervous.

    “Colonel, as I have said in the message, it is possible that the core was taken by the Wilky and Wilfred while we were still away. I reported only to you as soon as I could, there may be no signs of a struggle but who knows, the beast was heavenly injured and had to sacrifice his vitality just to escape from us. I acted fast and planned on injuring Batista’s son and take him as a hostage but due to unforeseen circumstances, my men failed. We may not get the core but we can pressure them by using Batista. If we can take one of his kids, he will surely beg unto his brothers. With that, we can trade them for the body parts of the golden snake.”

    The man seated in front was silent for a while, only Floyd’s nervous breathing could be heard.

    “Floyd, are you telling me, you made me come to this wretched place because of mere speculations and tell me that I have to use underhanded against weaker opponents? You disappoint me.”

    The voice was not loud but a pressure came with it making the temperature rise by several degrees. Floyd was profusely sweating, he may scheme against others but in front of an overwhelming power, he was helpless.

    “Colonel, that’s not what I meant, I will do the dirty job, all I need is your support. Think about it sir, even if you can’t get the core, the golden serpent’s body parts are still highly valuable due to their rarity. If you give me your support, I can make my move and go to Sin city and pay a visit to Batista’s family.”

    “Hahaha, Floyd, I don’t know what has gotten into you to become this desperate. Fine, whatever, do what you want, if you can obtain a body part, I’ll think about recommending you. Many eyes are prying on this matter, once the mercenary captains involved are located, the others will make a move.”

    A mocking laugh reverberated around the hall.

    “But, if you cannot show any result and made me come here for nothing, you will owe me one favor, regardless of what I ask you will have to do it. Don’t worry I won’t make you kill yourself. Do I make myself clear?”

    Floyd gritted his teeth and accepted, he had no choice. When he contacted the colonel, he already predicted this kind of thing happening but for the sake of his goals, he made a gamble. He could do this on his own but it was too risky without any support from a big shadow. Apart from gaining a supporter if he succeeded, he can also take this chance to inflict pain on his hated enemies.

    “Don’t worry sir, I already instructed my elite force to track them down and silence them as soon as I got back. Just give them a bit more time, sir.”

    “Good, you may go.” The Colonel waved his hand.

    “Thank you, Colonel.”

    Floyd saluted and went out.

    “Interesting, let’s see if one of my old friends will come out. I have had no action in years.”

    The silhouette mused to himself.
     
  3. NotNice

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    Chapter 22 No Place Like Home

    Eznho departed from the inn early in the morning with a horse cart in tow going back to Fragrant Pavilion. Nothing much has changed since he left a year ago. He stopped by a familiar place, the place where they bumped into the fatty kid and the little ‘blue’ girl.

    Taking a deep breath, he continued forward until a familiar view came into his sight, the place where he grew up. The roof was covered in snow, but besides that and drunk people coming out of the door, the place was the same as he remembered.

    A smile hung on his face, he felt better now that he was in a familiar place away from violence and killing. Following a route, he went straight at the back and unloaded his things. Although he was excited, he did not go to his aunt as he knew it was her resting time. Opening his bedroom, he brought in his things and went straight to his bed.

    “Ahh, nothing feels better than sleeping in your own bed.”

    He was smiling and actually fell asleep until noon.

    .....

    Minchin for the past year has been busying herself at work to get her mind off about Eznho’s situation. She tried her best to stay positive that his little Ez will come back. Judging by the days, Eznho would come back within this week which made her more excited and at the same nervous that nobody would show up. She did the same routine as she previously did and went home after work. It was already noon when she woke up and started to prepare lunch when a knock on the door was heard.

    “Who is it?” she could not help but ask, it was rare for people to visit her but nobody answered.

    She walked towards the door and slowly opened it, when she saw who knocked she froze for a couple of seconds with wide eyes before coming back to reality.

    “Little Ez!” She shouted with excitement and hugged Eznho tightly that made it hard for him to breath.

    “I can’t breath,” Eznho struggled to say.

    “Ow, sorry little Ez, I got too excited,” Aunt Minchin was full of smiles while her eyes started to moisten then let go of Eznho while inspecting him.

    “Look at you you’ve grown taller again.”

    Physically, there was not much difference since they last met, he was just a bit tad taller. What was more discerning was the change in his demeanor, compared to his silent and childlike attitude before, he looked more matured now as if he had experienced many things in life. She was surprised but did not linger on it, what was more important was his little Ez came back to her at last.

    “Come in, little Ez. You surprised me, when did you come back?”

    She asked with enthusiasm and even forgot about her lunch.

    “A few days ago but I had to do something first and just got home this morning.”

    Eznho replied with an apologetic smile.

    “Hmph! You’ve got more important things other than me? Is it a girl?”

    Minchin harrumph trying to act angry while teasing him. Eznho felt guilty and immediately thought about something to ease her aunt’s ranting and took out the jewelry box.

    “I got something for you Aunt,”

    Minchin was surprised when she saw the jewelry box with an exquisite design, she was a lady after all and knew that an expensive item was inside. She narrowed her eyes with suspicion.

    “Little Ez, did become a thief?”

    Eznho smile wryly after hearing her aunts inquiry.

    “Of course not aunt, I bought it with my own money you see,”

    Minchin was still a little skeptical but received the box and was further taken aback with what she saw inside.

    “Are these real pearls? They’re beautiful!”

    Eznho felt joy inside and kept on smiling while looking at her aunt’s excited face.

    “Wait a minute little Ez, are you sure you used your own money? These pearls are expensive and can only be bought in the northern district. Even if you have the money you can’t easily go inside and out the district without proof of wealth or backing.”

    She became more suspicious, one had to know even she herself had only entered the district once and could only look at the jewelry sold there with envy. Her most valuable jewelry was only worth a few gold coins.

    “Okay aunt, let me clear my name and tell you what happened while I was away...” Eznho wanted to clear his aunt's suspicions and started narrating his adventures but omitted things like him being poisoned, the ominous gray flame he encountered, his cultivation, the attempted assassination and the like. He did not want to make her aunt worry to death especially now that he planned to take his revenge.

    “That happened? Wow...” Minchin, on the other hand, could not help but be surprised and even laughed when Eznho mentioned the smelly old man. What startled her the most was the time when Eznho found lots of gold and got paid with a bank card that contains thousands of gold.

    “Hmmm, so just because you got rich, you wasted it already?” She teased.

    “No, no, Aunt, I just wanted to buy something nice for you and big brother,” Eznho tried to explain.

    “Just kidding little Ez,” Minchin’s eyes started to moisten again and hugged him tightly. She was truly happy and wanted to savor the moment and thought about the boy’s mother.

    “Mirna, your little boy is growing up already.”

    .....

    It was already evening but both of them continued to chat non-stop, it was also a surprise for Minchin that Eznho can hold a conversation this long which made her glad. She was wearing the pearl necklace which complemented her beauty.

    “Speaking of the devil, why hasn’t that Martin showed up yet?”

    Minchin mentioned while they were sipping tea.

    “I am wondering about that too aunt, but I am sure he will come sooner or later.”

    Eznho answered with a positive outlook.

    .....

    Inside the one of the military’s medical tent, Martin was lying in bed unconscious with a bandage wrapped around his chest. The old doctor and Captain Batista were standing beside the bed.

    “He regained consciousness a few times for a few seconds before falling back into a coma again. I am positive he will regain consciousness soon but I am not sure how long. Based on my examinations, he is not in danger anymore although his heart was wounded. I had to treat him carefully because he does not cultivate and had to dilute the medicines so his body can absorb it slowly.”

    The old doctor looked exhausted but still tried to explain as much as he can.

    “I’ll leave him to you now captain, I have to attend to the others.”

    “Thank you, doctor Liu, as long as he’s out of death’s door that would be enough.”

    Batista expressed his thanks to the doctor and took a seat while waiting for Martin to regain his consciousness.

    An hour has passed and Martin started to move his eyes then slowly opened them. He was in the same room as he was in when he was in and out of consciousness. He tried to hold onto it and started to adjust his vision. Medicinal aroma entered his nose that made him more comfortable and he even tried to get up.

    “Arghh!”

    An unbearable pain came from his chest that made him almost lapse back into losing his consciousness. He started sweating bullets due to the pain when he heard a voice beside him.

    “Don’t force yourself, Martin, just try to relax and do not move recklessly. Your internal wound hasn’t healed yet.”

    Batista tried his best to show an amicable smile despite his stern face. Martin started to clear his head and relaxed then spoke slowly.

    “Captain, how long have I been out?”

    “Almost a week since the incident, I haven’t properly thanked you yet. My son is patrolling so he’ll come later. Thank you for risking your life and saving my only son, I will never forget this debt.”

    Batista sincerely bowed despite the huge difference in status and rank.

    “Just doing my job sir, no need to do that.”

    Martin was embarrassed but could not do anything but to accept the gesture. Batista regained his posture and started to inform Martin.

    “I know your circumstances and I am officially canceling that shameless fatso’s decree but I hope you continue to work for me in the future. The city needs more men like you, I can transfer you from the military to the city guard should you choose to.”

    Martin was delighted and grinned.

    “Thank you, captain, I’ll think about it.”

    “That’s nothing compared to what you’ve done. As much as I would like to transport you back to the city, I am shorthanded right now and cannot spare any personnel to escort you. You probably have to spend more time here before you can travel. I know it's supposed to be your break but my hands are really tied right now. This is supposed to be confidential but out of consideration, I will tell you.”

    Batista spoke with a serious face.

    “The border clashes have been escalating and casualties have risen. The enemy has been relentless and it will take time before reinforcements will come that is why the city is quite in a peril. There may be a chance that the fight will be moved back towards the city that is why I already informed my family back home to evacuate just in case.”

    Batista also knew that his enemy is extremely shameless and might even take people as hostages especially people close to him.

    “They have already moved out together with the city lord, I planned to inform you about it but you were unconscious so I had to wait. If you want to inform your relatives to evacuate, you can tell me and I’ll send a messenger. I must advise you that evacuation is not necessarily safe, bandits may attack them so they have to move with other people. You make your decision if you want your relatives to stay or want them to evacuate.”

    Martin was in a dilemma when he heard the captain, he was deeply worried about Eznho and Miss Minchin.

    Wait, how is Eznho?

    He suddenly got worried and blurted out a question without thinking.

    “Captain, did little Ez made it back alive?”

    “Little Ez?”

    Batista was confused but remembered something.

    “You mean the boy that was sent to the mines? He was already pardoned by my subordinate and I was informed he already went back to the city and even made a big contribution.”

    Martin felt relieved but still could not decide what to do. If Miss Minchin and Eznho stayed and the fight will involve the city, they may be exposed to danger but at the same time, if they evacuate, there were bandits that they have to watch out for. He was frowning and made up his mind.

    “Captain, can I send a letter to them?”

    “Sure, that’s no big deal I’ll get a pen and paper.”

    Martin felt awkward when the captain became his writer on his stead.

    .....

    Blackstone city.

    Floyd was standing in the same hall like the previous time to state his report.

    “Sir, my subordinates found the captains and they confirmed that the core was already missing when they found the golden serpent. Also, Batista’s family at Sin City already evacuated.”

    The man sitting in front suddenly opened his eyes that were like a burning lava, bright and blazing hot.

    “Hmph, so what’s the point of me being here then? Are you ready to accept your punishment?”

    The temperature started to rise and despite his cultivation being the element of ice, Floyd started to sweat.

    “I still have a backup plan sir, just support me when the time comes and I assure you, you will get something out of it. But I still need to wait for Wilky to come back for the plan to work. According to the reports, he is already near their headquarters.”

    Floyd still tried to hold on to hope.

    “Fine, I’ll wait but this is the last straw. Nobody can save you if you fuck this up. Just inform me when the time comes and stop disturbing me if you have nothing important to report. Dismissed.”

    “Sir!”

    Floyd saluted and departed. A subordinate was waiting for him outside.

    “Contact Hanya and tell him I have a job for him.”

    “Yes, sir,”

    His subordinate saluted and immediately went on his way.

    Floyd was left standing with a sinister smile.

    “I have another surprise for you, my dear friend Batista,”
     
  4. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 23 Face so Thick it Pushed me One Kilometer Away

    A few days earlier at the city lord’s residence.

    Hans arrived at the entrance and was permitted entry by the other guards. They were familiar with him as he was one of the city lord’s lap dogs. He entered and made his way to the study room and opened a secret door with stairs leading to a basement.

    Having been here many times, he walked downwards in a calm manner. After a while, he reached a hallway filled with locked doors on each side. Whimpers and silent cries of children could be heard from inside the doors. He got used to this scenario and headed straight to the door at the end of the hallway and knocked.

    Knock! Knock!

    “Come in,”

    A lewd-sounding male voice came from the inside, it sounded like someone who was doing obscene things. Hans slowly opened the door, the room was dimly lit by lamps and candles along with a strong smell of perfume. There was not much inside, only tables filled with fruits, food and wine. The most eye-catching was the large bed at the middle carved with exquisite designs and obviously made from expensive materials. Only shadows could be seen inside the bed due to the silhouette curtains.

    The shadows were shaped like a fat man sitting while two smaller shadows were beside him. The fat shadow even sounded like he was enjoying the pleasures of life.

    “How did it go?” A voice came from the shadow.

    “My lord, the merchant alliance said they will not loan anymore unless you pay at least half of what you owe them,”

    Hans spoke truthfully.

    “Damn them all! Who do they think they are? Damn this wretched place and damn that old fogey who exiled me just because of a little mistake! Fuck! I’ll take what’s rightfully mine one day make them all pay.”

    The man inside the bed was furious and strangled one of the small shadows out of anger. The other shadow started to whimper and slowly distanced itself.

    “Shut up!”

    Pak!

    A loud resounding slap was heard and a naked little girl around the aged of eight fell down from the bed. Hans, on the other hand, watched with indifferent eyes, he was used to this kind of situations.

    “Hans, dispose of them all and make sure not to leave any evidence. We are leaving with that bastard Batista’s family and head to Red Sparrow city. Although I don’t have to leave, I have some business to attend there so might as well go and make this as an excuse to the old man.”

    He commanded and threw out the other little girl on the floor but she was not already breathing.

    “As you command my lord, by the way, the little boy you commanded to the mines came back and he was even pardoned under Captain Batista’s name,”

    “Tsk! Who cares about those flies? You want me to spend my time dealing with those shit? Prioritize our preparation to leave and go inform my son, I trust you know what to do right?”

    He felt more irritated when Batista interfered with his business.

    “Yes my lord, I’ll prepare everything.”

    Hans acknowledged and went out the door.

    “Just you wait you brainless brawn, you have always been a thorn in my side, always interfering with my business. I’ll have my chance one day, just you wait.”

    The fat shadow mumbled while he filled a cup with wine.

    .....

    There were three military headquarters of the Carson Kingdom lead by three generals supported by their colonels and other subordinates. General Jakolito Lapid was one of them and he was the commander of Major Wilky and the others.

    He earned his reputation in the battlefield because of his straightforwardness and fighting style of going head to head with his enemies. It was even rumored that a slash of his great sword can take hundreds of his enemies lives. He does not normally show himself in public unless there is a war or other major events and leave the menial task to his subordinates.

    Colonel Sanders was one of his subordinates and was tasked with supervising the headquarters. He was currently standing on his office balcony and was waiting for Wilky. Excitement could be seen on his face, he was informed by Wilky through the message talisman that they found a golden serpent and was on his way to show his proof.

    It is not that he does not believe his subordinate, but he is too busy right now and cannot travel so Wilky has to come personally. Especially that they are speaking about a legendary beast.

    .....

    Wilky has been traveling non-stop for almost two weeks now, he could have shortened it by a lot but the usage of teleportation portal uses too many resources and he cannot just request it as he wishes unless there was a military order he could present to the city lord of Red Sparrow city.

    The city, the sects, the military and other organizations inside the kingdom have distinct jurisdictions and almost does not overlap each other unless there was a war or other major events. For example, the city guards have a higher authority inside the city than the military especially at major cities like Red Sparrow city. Cities like this have teleportation portals but cannot be used casually.

    “I’m so tired already, argh! Damn the bastard Floyd messing things up. I really want to rip him to pieces. I hope colonel is available so I’ll have a more relaxed journey going back.”

    Wilky grumbled while he was dashing through the forest with a fast speed that only left blurs.

    “Nearly there,”

    He stopped on top of a tree while looking at the green scenery in front of him. After taking a deep breath, he jumped and continued on his way.

    .....

    The sky was painted with red-orange color when he reached the headquarters. The headquarters was located in a grassy plain beside a river. It was like a city on it's on with walls built around the buildings and surrounded by thousands of tents. The only difference was that more than ninety percent of the population was composed of soldiers. The others were merchants, servants and the like.

    “Phew! At last,”

    Wilky wiped the sweat from his forehead and entered the gate,

    “Sir!” The guards saluted.

    “As you were,” Wilky responded and immediately went to the colonel’s office.

    The colonel’s office was located in the middle section of the city and was one of the tallest building. The tallest infrastructure was located in the middle, the general’s residence. Without permission or invitation, one cannot enter it.

    “I’m at my courtyard,”

    A message entered Wilky’s mind. As long as a cultivator can spread his soul sense, he can send messages through it as long as the person is within the range. Wilky did not tarry and went at the back of the building. A courtyard was located there with tons of medicinal plants. The guards opened the door when he came and went straight inside.

    A man with a long black hair wearing a simple garment was tending to the medicinal flowers. Some of the medicinal plants were even rare that it was hard to acquire without spending a large sum of money. Wilky was not surprised by this scenery as he has been here a few times.

    “Colonel, good evening,” He saluted.

    The man stood up and face him, he had an average look but you cannot miss his deep blue eyes and the aura he radiated was not that of a military man. His aura was peaceful and calm like the water.

    “Wilky, what took you so long? Quickly show me.”

    Opposite his calm appearance, he could not wait and did not care about pleasantries.

    “Colonel, could you at least feed me? I haven’t eaten for days.”

    Wilky spoke with a pitiful voice while trying to show a teary eye.

    “Wilky oh Wilky, I’m sorry could you repeat that?”

    Colonel Sanders replied with a smile but that smile sent shivers down on Wilky’s spine. He immediately took off his ring and gave it to the demon in front of him. He was one of the people who knew how demonic this calm and peaceful person could become if he was pissed.

    “Hmmm?” Colonel Sander’s was exhilarated and sent his consciousness inside the ring but was utterly surprised by what he saw.

    It was a legit golden serpent but the core is missing and only a fourth of its blood remains although the marrows were still intact. Aside from that, an eye was missing.

    “Wilky! What is the meaning of this?” Veins popped on his forehead.

    “Well you see colonel, the core was already missing when we found the body...” Wilky immediately summarized what happened.

    “Hmmm, it seems somebody was already watching before you even got there. But what about the blood and the missing eye?” He interrogated.

    “Colonel, some of the blood was already missing together with the core and as for the eye and the rest of the blood, well you know colonel, a hard working man must be paid for his efforts.”

    Wilky replied as like it was just a trivial matter.

    “Whatever, I won’t bicker with you about that, you were the one who found it anyways.”

    The colonel rolled his eyes and was already numb to Wilky’s shamelessness.

    “That’s the colonel I know,” Wilky grinned in reply.

    .....

    Both of them were sipping tea under a pavilion at the center of a pond inside the courtyard.

    “So, Wilky why are you in a rush?”

    Sanders broke the silence.

    “Well we both know the golden serpent is a very hot potato and I don’t wanna hold it and get burned,” Wilky answered casually.

    “You have a point.” The colonel nodded.

    “Aside from submitting the serpent, and of course and gain some merit, ahem. I need your help colonel. My original plan was to swear an oath that I did not really take the core and even if we did I would have given it to my brother you know.” Wilky grinned.

    “Floyd could not take his loss apparently and even besieged the border that nearly injured or even killed brother Batista’s son. The last message I received was that they even suspect that Colonel James has involved himself. My theory is that Floyd offered something regarding the golden serpent and seeks colonel James’ support. I am afraid he will involve brother Batista’s family, I know how shameless that bastard can be. I beg you colonel, please assist me and declare it to them that the golden serpent is already in your hands so that they can stop harassing my brother.”

    Wilky gritted his teeth while pleading.

    “Hmmm, your theory is pretty much close to mine. Let me see,”

    Colonel Sanders pondered and was thinking of a solution. Wilky continued sipping his tea but could not hide his nervousness. If the colonel could come, that would be the best scenario.

    “Wait here, go rest and I’ll inform you tomorrow,”

    The colonel spoke after some thinking and walked towards the main hall.

    “Thank you, colonel,”

    Wilky bowed and left.

    .....

    Wilky woke up early and was waiting outside the colonel’s residence and was granted entry later on and went to the main hall.

    “Good morning colonel, how is it?”

    The colonel was sitting in the master’s seat with a blue robe.

    “I offered the body of the golden serpent to the general and explained everything. He did not mind that you took all of the blood and both of its eyes.”

    The colonel spoke with a straight face without a trace of shame.

    “The heck? This shameless old man,”

    Wilky was taken aback and could not believe that his superior would destroy his reputation to the general.

    “Well, he was in a good mood, apparently, he needed those materials so he gave me a decree and allowed me to come with you and settle things at the border.”

    What? A decree from the general?

    Wilky was stunned, a general’s decree was heavy. It was almost as heavy as the decree of the king and apart from that, the colonel will travel with him. It was even far better than what he had imagined.

    “He also promised to reward all the people involved,”

    The colonel was also elated when the general promised things to him.

    “That’s great!”

    Wilky could not contain his happiness and his face was like a flower in full bloom.

    “Okay, enough of that, let’s go immediately.”

    Sanders was disgusted when he saw Wilky’s face.

    They were at the open space of the courtyard when Sanders waved his hand and five-meter wide carpet with complicated designs floated in front of them. He jumped in and assumed a sitting position.

    “You wanna walk?” He spoke with a proud tone when he saw that Wilky was not moving.

    “Uh?” Wilky jolted back to reality.

    A spirit rank flying vessel!

    It would be his first time riding one, he was elated and immediately jumped in.

    “Hee Haw!” He shouted out of excitement.

    Colonel Sanders ignored him and activated the flying vessel and they headed back to the eastern border.
     
  5. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 24 Treasures are Forever

    Information about the appearance of the golden serpent has been slowly spreading around the kingdom and the surrounding areas but no solid proof has been shown. The people directly involved has been tight-lipped about it and the search for the mercenary captains has been going on since the first outbreak of the information.

    Sin City, on the top floor of the Merchant Bank in the northern district. The same four people were gathered for a meeting.

    “I have received the latest news from our investigators, we were too late. The captains have already died when they found them. My bet is that Floyd was the one who did it, I suppose the rumors are true but we can’t do anything about it now. I came to this conclusion because I have been informed that Colonel Sanders left the military headquarters with Wilky. There is no way the colonel is leaving his post unless an important event has occurred and without his superior’s permission.”

    The old man spoke with a hint of disappointment and envy.

    “All we can do now is just watch from the sidelines, we can’t involve ourselves anymore. This is considered a military matter and might even involve the old monsters of the military.”

    His voice was filled with fear and respect when he thought about the movers and shakers of the military.

    .....

    Eznho, on the other hand, was innocent about the events that were happening around him. Aside from chatting with his aunt, he did not neglect his cultivation and has been persistent about it while waiting for his big brother at the same time. He was wondering why his big brother has not arrived yet and started to feel uneasy but still tried to think positively.

    Morning arrived when a messenger from the military arrived at the Fragrant Pavilion looking for Eznho. This made Eznho become more nervous,

    “What’s going on?” He wondered.

    “Are you Eznho?” The young soldier asked right away.

    “Yes,”

    Ezhno answered and did not have the time to ask a question.

    “I have a letter for you from Martin,”

    The soldier had a tone of respect when he mentioned Martin, everyone at the border knew what he did.

    “Uhmm, okay, where is he?” Eznho inquired.

    “For the time being he cannot come home, I believe he has explained it in his letter. If there is nothing else, I have to go back,”

    The soldier got back on his horse and intended to gallop away.

    “Wait!” Eznho blurted out in a hurry.

    “Could you wait for a moment please, I have something for him. Could you deliver it to him?”

    “Okay, sure kid.” The soldier halted and waited patiently.

    Eznho immediately dashed in a hurry towards his room which surprised the soldier, the boy’s speed was unbelievable for his age. A few minutes later, Eznho came back with a long rectangular wooden case.

    “Here, I hope it’s not a bother you,” He politely handed over the case.

    “Hmmm? No big deal, if there is nothing else, I really have to go.”

    The soldier had a rough idea of what the case contains but did not dwell on it and went on his way back to the border.

    “Thank you,” Eznho bowed sincerely towards the soldier who was leaving.

    He furrowed his brows and the uneasy feeling became heavier and looked at the letter in his hand.

    .....

    Eznho could not wait any longer and went back to his room and opened the letter.

    Little Ez,

    I’m sorry I could not fulfill my promise of having a reunion with you after a year. I heard you did well in the mines, good job! As for me, I am still alive and kicking. The border has been chaotic lately and we are understaffed so I need to stay for a longer period of time than intended. The captain said I can go back after the chaos subsides...

    He continued reading the letter that contained his big brother’s experiences. A smile hung on his face but he knew there was more to it than this letter. Although that was his suspicion he did not mind it much as long as his big brother is alive. When he got to the last part of the letter, he was stuck in a dilemma.

    Due to the intensity of the conflict, the captain said that the city might get involved in the fight. Not everybody is informed, most of the northern district have evacuated according to him. He advised me to tell you that you evacuate to avoid being dragged into the conflict. I do not have the right to decide for you and Miss Minchin. Although there is still a risk of getting attacked by bandits during evacuation so if you decide to do so, you better go along with other people like traveling merchants. I am sorry I cannot help you at the moment, take care little Ez. I hope we all come out safely out of this predicament. See you soon little brother.

    After reading the letter, Eznho was overwhelmed by the information. He had no idea that the conflict at the border was intense and suddenly thought about old man Dan out of the blue.

    Did that smelly old man do something?

    It doesn’t matter anymore, what was more important was to inform his aunt.

    .....

    Miss Minchin was in a deep thought after reading the letter that was sent by Martin.

    “What do you think little Ez?”

    “I also don’t know aunt,” Eznho answered in a conflicted manner, he was truly in a dilemma.

    “No wonder manager Tang said he had a business to take care and would not be back for at least a month.”

    Minchin remembered when manager Tang spoke to her about his temporary leave and his eyes were conflicted, like he wanted to say something but could not.

    “Sigh, this is kinda hard isn’t it little Ez, Martin does not make it any easier. I think we should check out first if there are merchants or travelers that would depart these coming days and we will decide after, any thoughts?”

    Minchi felt helpless but was also thankful for Martin’s information.

    “I think that’s a great idea aunt, I’ll go check it out and inform you later.” Eznho volunteered.

    “Okay, that would be for the best little Ez,”

    .....

    Eznho finished his investigations that same day and informed his aunt.

    “I asked around and there is a caravan headed for Red Sparrow City tomorrow morning. According to the leader, we have to pay three gold coins each.”

    “That much? Is he robbing us blind?” Minchin was a little flustered with the amount they are asking.

    “Well, he said he hired a dozen mercenaries to guard us and that is more than enough to take us to Red Sparrow city safely and he said ‘take it or leave it’.”

    Eznho answered nonchalantly, to be honest, he did not care about the payment as he has a lot of gold to spare.

    “Well, he has a point though,” Minchin was debating with herself if what should she do next.

    “Okay, basing on the information, it’s relatively safe to travel. Hmmm, let’s just consider it as a form of vacation shall we?”

    She spoke as if trying to comfort Eznho.

    “Okay, I’ll go pack my things now, he said to be there before sunrise if we plan to travel with them.” Eznho reminded and left.

    .....

    The morning chill whistled while carrying snowflakes that traveled around Sin city. A simple horse carriage was waiting in front of the Fragrant pavilion which was bought by Eznho the other day.

    Minchin was surprised upon seeing it but did not comment and understood Eznho’s intentions that made her smile. They were both wrapped in thick clothing, after arranging their stuff inside the carriage and waving goodbye to the others they set off to the western gate with Eznho acting as the carriage driver.

    Upon arriving at the gate, a caravan was waiting, one horse carriage and a few carts filled with goods. There was a dozen of mercenaries carrying different weapons on horsebacks and the others looked like servants.

    Eznho tried to have a feel of everyone and when his eyes set on the carriage driver, he felt a pressure that weighed down on him. The driver was muscular and his choice of clothing was that of beast hides. His hair was brown which was a little messy with a length up to his shoulders. Sensing someone was looking at him he tilted his head and saw Eznho.

    What Eznho saw was a pair of fierce eyes that were like a beast staring at him.

    Halo Stage?

    Eznho had no idea what Halo stage cultivators were like but he had a feeling that the man he was looking at was one of them. The man lost interest and retracted his gaze.

    “Hey kid, You have to pay first you know.”

    A voice came from inside the carriage, the door slowly opened and a man came out. His long hair was tied in a bun, he was a little short with a bulging stomach like a typical merchant. His eyes twinkled like gold while looking at Eznho.

    Eznho couldn’t be bothered and got down from the carriage and handed his payment.

    “Good kid, my name is Rio and that carriage driver is my personal guard, Dugsol.” The merchant was delighted and spoke as if they knew each other.

    “My name is Eznho and my aunt Minchin is inside the carriage,” Enzho answered out of politeness and went back to their carriage.

    “Okay then, let’s go, time waits for fo no man.” He ordered and went back inside his carriage.

    .....

    At the border, while Martin was still healing, Batista and Wilfred were talking inside the commander's tent.

    “Damn it!” Batista had ugly look on his face.

    “The scouts informed us that Floyd managed to assemble a group of soldiers and mercenaries numbering from a thousand to two thousand. They are already marching towards us and will be here within a day. We have no choice but to evacuate and use the city as our base.”

    His worst fear has come, the city was his home after all and did want the citizens to suffer.

    “Brother, just endure for the moment, the Colonel messaged me himself and told me that he and Wilky are on their way to help us sort things out. We just have to defend for two weeks at most.”

    Wilfred tried to comfort Batista.

    “Really? That’s great, okay I’ll immediately order an evacuation.”

    The soldiers at the border were bewildered after hearing the news that over a thousand of enemies were coming. When the evacuation was announced, they did not think twice and packed their stuff. They knew that defending using the city walls were better than fighting in the open.

    .....

    The messenger was surprised when he saw that the camp was buzzing with activity and seemed like everybody was packing. He repressed his curiosity and went straight to the medical tent.

    “I have sent the letter and the boy gave me something to pass on to you,” He brought out the wooden case and handed it to Martin.

    “Thank you,” Martin slowly rose to bed and assumed a sitting position. After regaining consciousness, it was easier for the doctor to cure him.

    “Ow, there was an order of evacuation. Enemies are coming in huge numbers and we will be annihilated if we stay here. You better go pack your things too.”

    “Ah? Okay thank you for informing me, I better go now.” The soldier was startled then bowed and left in a hurry.

    Martin waited until the soldier went and caressed the wooden case.

    “Little Ez,” he mumbled and slowly lifted the cover.

    He was amazed at what he saw, it was a sword, a fine looking sword and the scabbard was designed in a simple and unique way. The sword was like the ones issued in the military but there was something about it that made it different. You could see that the blacksmith really put in a lot of effort into it due to it’s higher quality.

    “Thank you little Ez, stay safe,”

    A smile broke on his lonely face and looked at the direction of the city. He lied down again while holding the sword atop his chest like it was his most valuable treasure.
     
  6. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 25 Vantage Point

    The merchant caravan has been traveling for two days now, the journey so far had been safe. They passed by farming villages and small towns on their way. There were occasional attacks from beasts but has been easily dispatched by the mercenaries. Bandit activities have been nil so far and they have five days more to travel. They already entered the Hummingbird forest, which spanned for hundreds of kilometer. This place was where most of the killings occur.

    There were multiple roads available to cross the forest, the shortest and most dangerous was directly crossing the forest on a straight path which was only tens of kilometer from the middle where the strong beasts reside. Only a handful of merchants and travelers traverse this path. Most of them use routes that avoided that area, the farther the road was from the middle, the safer it was. The group chose a road that was nearing the edge of the forest, it was practically a safe route basing on their fighting power.

    The sky was turning dark when the group prepared to camp again as usual in a forest clearing beside the road. Bonfire was started to ease the evening chill that seeped through their bones. Once the fire was started, the aroma of food being cooked lingered around the camp.

    There was little to no contact at all between Eznho and the group which was also up to his satisfaction. After dinner, there were casual chats before everyone went to sleep and the mercenaries took turns on their night watch.

    “Good night aunt Minchin,” Eznho gestured before going into his own tent.

    “Good night little Ez,” Minchin replied and called it a day.

    Eznho did not neglect his cultivation and continued to drink beast blood and practiced the Heaven-Seizing Breathing technique at the same time. He already drank one-fifth of the blood and somewhat got used to the pain which also tempered his will and determination.

    .....

    Howl of beasts could be heard echoing throughout the forest under the bright full moon while snow continued to fall. Embers from the bonfire were crackling while it struggled to maintain its dying heat.

    The mercenaries on night watch were yawning, there have been no signs of attack since evening. Unknown to them, five pairs of eyes were staring at them from a distance, looking at them as if they were lambs ready to be devoured.

    One particular set of eyes were like the eyes of an eagle, he was the scout.

    “How is it brother Agila?” A nearly inaudible sound asked.

    “So far, after tracking and observing them for two days, they only have one Halo cultivator. The others, we can take care of them as long as we use our cards right.” Agila replied in a confident voice.

    Another voice spoke which sounded like their leader basing on his commanding tone.

    “Alright, the magical grade crossbows that boss lent to us will be of good use for this mission. It will be more than enough to threaten him, as long as we do not insist on killing the merchant himself, I am sure they will abandon the caravan. Although the most important goods are held by that cultivator, the rest have still value. The boss has a big raid to do and even invited the Red Skull bandits to join him. This mission has been given to us as a test so we must prove ourselves. Our focus is to make the cultivator flee and the loot will be ours, as for the others, you know what to do. We should finish our mission as fast as possible and wait for the boss’ victorious return.” A vicious glint shone from his eyes.

    He understood how these merchants think, as long as you do not force them on a cliff and give them an escape route, they will take it.

    There was no need to answer as everyone understood the meaning. Five shadows jumped from the darkness going towards the caravan’s campsite.

    .....

    “Man, I’m so sleepy. Why the need for three people to stand guard?” One of the young mercenaries grumbled with sleepy eyes.

    “Shut up Miller and do your job properly, you’ll never know when bandits or beasts attack. This is your first mission so you have no idea how brut....”

    Xiu!

    He suddenly stopped talking with eyes wide open. Miller was annoyed by the lecture but his sleepiness suddenly vanished when an arrowed pierced his comrade’s head.

    “E....!”

    Xiu! Xiu!

    Before he could shout, two more arrows came from the dark without warning piercing him and the other mercenary that was not far from him. Unwillingness filled his eyes, it was his first mission. He had so many plans in life, but alas, not everyone gets to achieve their dreams. All he could do in the last second of his life was imagine himself living in luxury, then the world went dark.

    “Enemies!”

    The first to react was Dugsol and his shout reverberated throughout the camp startling everyone awake. He spread his soul sense but could not detect anyone within a thirty-meter range. The mercenaries immediately reacted and did not panic due to their experiences.

    Xiu! Xiu! Xiu! Xiu! Woosh!

    But upon exiting their tents, four arrows came flying targeting four people while another one went for Dugsol. This was not an arrow but a bolt from a crossbow made from special materials.

    “Ahh!”

    “Arrrgghh!

    Two of the mercenaries died immediately while screaming, one was seriously injured and the remaining one was able to dodge on time.

    After sensing that the bolt was faster and had more power, Dugsol’s pupils shrunk and circulated his energy. A faint white energy surrounded him while making hand movements then stomped his foot which made the land surrounding him tremble.

    Earth Wall!

    A thick and solid earthen wall the size of a regular door rose from the ground in front of him. The bolt came with great momentum directly piercing the wall but its speed was cut in half after exiting on the other side.

    “Hmmm?” Dugsol was startled but immediately circulated his energy on his palm and swatted the bolt away from him.

    “Damn, is that a magical grade crossbow?” His face was ugly and brought out a circular metal shield and a machete from his spatial pouch.

    “Dugsol, how is it?” Rio inquired nervously behind him.

    “Stay behind me, the enemy is hiding in the dark, my estimate is that there is just five of them. They seem to have a magical grade crossbow but I can manage.” He replied with a serious face, magical grade weapons were not easily acquired for the likes of him. He only had one and it was his metal shield.

    Another volley of arrows came but only managed to kill one of the mercenaries who countered an attack by blindly attacking where the arrows came from with their own bows and arrows.

    Two bolts suddenly came for Dugsol instead of one,

    “Bastards!” He had no choice but to directly confront the two bolts using his shield.

    Clang! Bang!

    The air seemed to vibrate while sparks flew and he was forced five steps backward.

    “Piece of shits!” Being forced back by weaker enemies relying on magical weapons made him furious. He poured his energy on the machete and threw it to where one of the bolts came from.

    “Ack!” A gurgling sound came from the nearby trees.

    “Bastard!” A shout came from the dark with fury.

    Dugsol felt good and brought out his last remaining machete. The exchange of attacks continued between the mercenaries and the enemies in the dark. Using their numerical advantage, some of them rushed towards the enemy’s possible locations.

    Woosh! Woosh!

    Two more bolts came whistling towards Dugsol’s position but to his surprise, the other bolt came from the side targeting the merchant.

    Shit!

    He threw his machete towards the bolt aiming for him and stepped sideways barely making the bolt going for Rio graze his shield which made it divert it’s trajectory.

    Before he could react, two more bolts came aiming for both of them at the same time.

    Motherfuckers!

    He could not help but curse, their enemies were nasty.

    Gritting his teeth, he made another earth wall to protect the merchant but this time it was two times thicker than the first one which was able to barely stop the attack. At the same time, he forcefully blocked the other bolt.

    “Run!”

    Dugsol immediately made a decision and picked up the merchant and carried him on his shoulder then dashed into the night, his and the merchant’s safety was the priority. After all, the most valuable goods that could be stored in the spatial pouch was with him. If they stayed any longer, they had a high chance of dying and he already used over half of his energy. He was just at the Halo stage after all and using elemental techniques utilizes a lot of his stored energy and the worst was he was just defending and was not able to properly attack.

    .....

    On the enemies side, their plan was to use only one magical grade crossbow out of the two they had. Although it was powerful, it uses resources that were too luxurious for them to casually use and they have limited numbers of it.

    But when they attacked, they discovered that the enemy was a defensive type cultivator and even knew an earth elemental defensive technique which was out of their expectation, it was rare for Halo cultivators to have one. They had no choice but to use both crossbows but they were in for another surprise, the enemy was actually able to counter-attack and it came too sudden. Even though they had the advantage of ambush, none of them were Halo cultivators so the machete easily found it’s target.

    Out of fury, they started to attack the merchant to pressure Dugsol. Their enemies were already closing in despite killing half of them so they had to force Dugsol back or they would have to retreat.

    After a series of attacks, they finally managed to make the halo cultivator retreat and they started to fight with the mercenaries head-on.

    Chaotic noises of fighting echoed around and the stench of blood started to fill the air. The fight did not last long, due to their accumulated experiences, the bandits won but out of the original five members, two died and one was injured.

    “Damn it!” The leader was furious, the result was far off from their original plan.

    “Argh! Dying is a part of our job, let’s just hope the goods are worth the losses,” He calmed after a while, this sort of things happened from time to time, it was not new to them.

    “Ahhhhhhhh!”

    A shout filled with fury and hatred startled them which raised their guard. They determined where it came from and it was one of the tents, after listening carefully, it was a boy’s shout.

    “It must be that boy who drives the carriage,” Agila spoke with difficulty. He was the one who was injured, an arrow struck his leg and his left hand had a bad cut.

    “Tsk! Bob, go silence him,” the leader was irritated and ordered one of his chubby companion.

    “With pleasure,” Bob answered with a sinister smile and walked towards the tent with his dagger.

    .....

    From Eznho’s point of view.

    He was soundly asleep when he heard something that woke him up, then a shout came after.

    “Enemies!”

    He heard Dugsol’s shout that startled him and immediately went out of his tent then was overwhelmed with what he saw. Arrows were coming from the dark targetting the mercenaries and Dugsol. What particularly piqued his interest was how Dugsol managed to block the enemy’s attack.

    It was his first time witnessing such a scene of chaos, while he was watching with shocked eyes, a bolt came towards him which was deflected by Dugsol using his shield. The bolt was somewhat slower but still had considerable speed, with Eznho’s agility, he easily dodged it and continued to watch. There was a faint excitement that was starting to rise inside him which is why his concentration was towards the men fighting.

    “Ughh!” A light grunt came from behind him.

    Oh no!

    After hearing that sound, cold sweats started to come out of his pores and his face paled. He felt like he was starting to have a nightmare and did not want to think of something.

    Please! No!

    He was pleading inside and slowly turned his head as if he there was a monster behind. When his vision finally landed on Minchin’s tent, his heart raced like a horse running for his life.

    A leg could be seen exposed outside of Minchin’s tent,

    No!

    Eznho screamed on his mind and immediately dashed towards the tent and opened it. What he saw made his world stop, Minchin was lying in a pool of blood. When he saw what caused it, he had the urge to rip out his own heart due to self-hatred and agony.

    The bolt he dodged earlier pierced Minchin’s chest.

    “Aunt!” He shouted and kneeled down and held her in his arms. She was barely conscious and her eyes slowly focused on Eznho. Despite the pain, she did her best to smile and held out his hand to touch his face. She tried to speak but no sound came out.

    “I’m sorry aunt, I’m sorry, I’m sorry...” He could not control himself and started to sob uncontrollably.

    Seeing Eznho like this, Minchin tried to maintain her consciousness and put her finger on Eznho’s lips but despite her determination, she already lost too much blood. Her hand slowly fell and lost consciousness.

    “Nooo!” Eznho was flustered, out of panic and a confused mind, he pulled out the bolt which caused more bleeding that made him more anxious lost his focus. Out of frustration, he brought out the medicines he had on him and poured it on the wound and even attempted to make her drink some of it.

    Her breathing became shallower and looked like she was going to die at a moments notice. Eznho did not know what to do and vented out everything with a shout.

    “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”
     
  7. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 26 Knowledge is Power

    The clouds started to cover the moon which made the night darker that brought an eerie feeling. Beasts were howling non-stop as if agitated by something and started to follow the scent of blood.

    Bob was walking leisurely towards the tent where the shout came from while the other two started to loot.

    “Hey, kid, shut the fuck up or I’ll skin you alive,”

    He threatened while slashing the front of the tent and exposing Eznho who was mumbling while still trying to force the medicines to Minchin.

    “What’s this? How pitiful,” He smirked and wanted to poke Eznho’s head with his dagger.

    “I said shut up kid! Or I’ll...”

    His dagger was about reach when Eznho suddenly turned around showing a frightening face. It was not the face of a boy, what he saw was the twisted face of hatred and self-loathing which was even complimented by the darkness of the night making it look more sinister. The most frightening part was the pair of eyes, the way Eznho looked at him made him feel like he was going to be sucked deep into the abyss and wander for eternity in the dark.

    Despite his experiences that was filled with killings, the face he saw tonight was the most frightening one and he could not deny the fact that it gave him chills.

    Ssshhh!

    Before he could regain his composure, a soft slashing sound was heard accompanied by a small white arc.

    “You...Gluurrgghh!”

    Blood gushed out from his neck and mouth before he could even say the second word. His eyes became wide, he could not believe that the boy in front of him could attack him that quick. Feeling the life flowing out of him, he dropped his dagger and used both of his hands to cover his neck then started to walk backward trying to call the attention of his companions.

    “Hmmm?”

    Agila was the first one to notice something, he could see Bob walking backward awkwardly who looked towards their direction while reaching out his hand. He narrowed his eyes trying to focus then his eyes were filled shock when Bob fell down with a thud.

    The sound of someone falling also caught the attention of their team leader. At the same time, the clouds parted and the moon illuminated the place showing Bob dying the snow red with his own blood.

    “What?” Both of them were stunned, never could have they anticipated of such a scenario happening.

    Was someone else hiding inside?

    This question popped into their heads, but before they could act, the boy they were expecting to be killed came out of slowly from the tent. Both of them raised their guard and prepared for a fight.

    The boy’s head and shoulder were down like he had no energy at all, both of his hands were holding a dagger. One of which was Bob’s. He slowly turned his head looking at their direction, under the moonlights illumination, his face now was much calmer but his eyes had a cold look which was slowly filling up with killing intent. He put on a creepy smile then heavenly energy filled his left hand and both feet.

    Woossshh!

    Without any warning, he threw the dagger aiming for Kelly, the team leader, and immediately dashed after it.

    “Hmph!”

    Kelly smirked and circulated his energy towards his fist which was covered with an elementary grade glove artifact.

    “Ha!”

    He shouted then met the incoming dagger with a punch.

    Crack!

    The dagger actually cracked and broke into several pieces, but before he could make another attack a shadow passed by him going straight for the wounded Agila who was rushing to reload his crossbow.

    They did not expect the boy’s speed to be this fast, Agila finished reloading and aimed for the boy but to his surprise, the boy was already in front of him and actually grabbed the front of the crossbow making the bolt’s protruding tip pierce his palm through and through.

    “Are you mad?” He could not help but exclaim with shock.

    He wanted to pull the trigger but a cold glint was actually coming fast towards him aiming for his neck giving him no choice but to leap backward. Without any pause, Eznho pulled out the crossbow stuck on his hand and turned around to Kelly who was preparing to attack him and aimed the crossbow.

    Whoosh!

    Kelly’s pupil shrank and his spine tingled.

    Shit!

    He knew how deadly and fast these crossbows were, before Eznho could pull the trigger, he immediately leaned to his right making the shot miss his heart and hit his shoulder joint instead, making his left hand immobile which was a good trade instead of his life. Lucky for him the speed of the crossbow was reduced due to the absence of the spirit stone.

    “Bastard!” He was really furious, the situation was going from worse to worst.

    Ezhno ignored him and went after the wounded Agila who was frantically trying to get away as far as possible but was being slowed by his wounds. After all, he was not suited for close combat, his job was to scout and attack from a distance with the crossbow, without it he was like a tiger with no teeth.

    Eznho was emotionless while in pursuit and threw his other dagger aiming for the leg.

    Swoosh!

    “Ahhh!” It came too sudden and Agila could not evade in time, making him roll over the snow a few times.

    Eznho caught up with him immediately and pulled out the dagger while twisting it making Agila scream in agony.

    “Stop!” Kelly shouted who was still seconds far from them, he could not reload his crossbow now that his left hand was useless.

    “Ahhhhhhhh!”

    Eznho did not care and without further ado, he stabbed Agila multiple times making blood and flesh splatter all over him making him scream again and again until his voice became hoarse. Agila’s body was now mangled so bad, it looked like a beast had mauled him. Despair and agony was still painted on his face when he daparted for the yellow springs.

    Kelly stopped on his track after seeing such a scene.

    “Monster!”

    He blurted out with fear, the boy in front of him was like a demon spawn from hell. Aside from the indifferent cold eyes, the boy even looked like a devil with blood and flesh all over him.

    Run!

    His primal instinct to survive started to scream inside his mind.

    “Fuck it!”

    The most important thing, for now, was to survive, punishment for his mission’s failure was light compared to dying. He started to back up and planned to dash away.

    Swoosh!

    Before he could start his escape another dagger came flying towards him.

    Damn it!

    He cursed and stepped sideways then formed a chopping motion using his palm and slashed it diagonally cutting the dagger in two. Without any hesitation, he started to run for his dear life without looking back. Eznho on the other just stood there with no intention to pursue. He stood there like a statue for a while and slowly walked back towards the tent.

    Halfway through, he stepped on the dagger that was given to him by Martin, he picked it up but half of the blade was missing. His eyes did not show any emotion and continued on his way and entered the tent.

    .....

    A few moments after Kelly’s group was dashing towards the campsite to ambush the caravan, a flying vessel with the shape of a wooden boat was flying by above the clouds with a man sitting on it.

    “Hmmm?”

    His senses were sharp and immediately stopped his vessel and looked down below.

    “Interesting, let’s watch a show for a bit.”

    Out of boredom because of traveling for days, he wanted to entertain himself and descended a hundred meters above the ground. But nobody could see him due to his vessel’s concealment formation.

    “Hmmm?”

    He was about to leave when a dense killing intent full of hatred rose from the boy inside the tent. With his cultivation, he could see everything that happened but he did not care, such events were normal for him, it was the law of the jungle.

    “What do we have here?”

    His interest was suddenly stoked when the boy took action, every detail was watched by him until the time Kelly dashed away.

    “Well done kid, although it was done without your awareness.”

    He stored his flying vessel and descended on his own.

    The ability to fly!

    If Kelly or Dugsol saw this scene they would be scared out of their wits. The ability to walk on air will only be possible at the Dao Formation Stage.

    Dao Formation stage, within the kingdom, there were less than a hundred of them, maybe not even fifty. They were revered by many cultivators, Dao Formation Stage cultivators have already started to form their own path. Only a few people can achieve such feats after proving their dao by surviving the first tribulation from the heavens.

    He softly landed on the snow-filled ground and slowly walked towards the tent where Eznho was. Due to the cut Bob made earlier, he could see Eznho still trying to force medicines on Minchin and shook his head.

    “Tsk, what a stubborn and stupid kid,”

    “Hey, kid! Stop it or you’ll kill her with overdose,” he spoke with a masculine voice but it landed on deaf ears.

    He walked and got closer to Eznho and wanted to pat Eznho’s shoulder but was met with an attack just like Bob.

    “Easy boy, why so serious?”

    He easily dodged and leaped backward effortlessly.

    Eznho coldly looked at him and immediately launched a forward attack but when he was about a meter from the man he suddenly stopped mid-air, the space around him froze. He desperately struggled but it was futile, which made him more berserk making his eyes turn red.

    “Wake up!” The man spoke with irritation and slapped the boy hard.

    Pak!

    A resounding slap was heard and Eznho was sent tumbling and rolled on the ground that made snow fly around.

    “Ugh!” Eznho slowly stood up and blood trickled from his mouth while his cheek was burning red.

    He suddenly felt dizzy and swayed for a bit before regaining balance. His eyes started to have clarity unlike before, what he saw when his vision cleared up were dead bodies with different facial expressions and some even were not intact.

    “Ah?” Memories suddenly came flooding back to him but the last thing he remembered was him trying to save his aunt Minchin.

    Aunt!

    He suddenly remembered and even did not even notice the man standing a distance away from him and rushed towards the tent.

    “Aunt!” He exclaimed with worry and tried to hold her.

    “Stop it, kid, do you want her to die?” a voice suddenly came from behind.

    “Ah?” Ezhno was surprised and turned around.

    “Who are you mister? What happened?” He asked curiously but was on guard, he was unfamiliar with this man.

    “Stop wasting my time kid, your aunt is barely clinging on to her life.” The man replied with indifference.

    “What?” Eznho became more anxious and tried again to touch Minchin.

    “Are you really dumb? Ah! Whatever, good luck kid,” He was irritated and started to walk away.

    “Wait!” Eznho called out and rushed in front of the man.

    “Can you please help my aunt?” He pleaded.

    “What’s in it for me?” The man replied with a crafty tone.

    “I’ll do anything,”

    “What can you do? You’re so weak.” The man spoke in a mocking tone.

    Eznho started to get anxious and thought of something then dashed to his tent and came back with the jar of blood in tow.

    “I can trade you for this if it is not enough I can pay you in the future.”

    Eznho was desperate and would even tell about the gray flame he found if he had a way to show it but sadly it suddenly disappeared without a trace.

    “And here,” He showed the golden ring from his father and the pouch from the old even though he had no idea what they are worth, he did not care. What was more important was his aunt. Only her and Martin were the two people dearest to him aside from his mother, no treasure can exceed their value.

    “Hmmm? Interesting,” The man was actually surprised by the things the boy showed him and showed a mysterious smile.

    “Okay kid, I don’t want those but what I need from you is information.”

    “Sure, I’ll tell you anything.” Eznho hurriedly replied, what’s the value of information compared to his aunt.

    “Where did the ring, the spacial pouch and the blood came from?” The man asked.

    Eznho was surprised because the man knew what was inside the jar before he even showed it but he immediately composed himself.

    Spatial Pouch?

    It was his first time hearing such a term but he did not linger on it.

    “The ring was left behind by my father and the pouch and blood came from a smelly old man, I met him...”

    He summarized his encounter with the old man.

    “Hahaha, how amusing,” The man laughed with delight, one of his mission was actually related to the rumored golden serpent. This information was quite valuable and was most likely related to it.

    “Okay, who taught you cultivation?”

    “Uhmmm, old man Dan gave me some pointers but...” he hesitated for a moment and was about to continue when he was interrupted.

    “That’s your own destiny kid, no need to inform me.” The man spoke with dignity and went inside the tent.

    “Tsk, what kind of ignorance is this,” He mocked and circulated his energy onto his palm and placed it on top of the wound.

    The wound was visibly closing and Minchin was stabilizing, after that, he brought out a liquid medicine then gently poured it into her mouth and guided it going inside with his energy.

    “Okay, all done all she needs is to rest for at least two weeks. Next time, don’t force medicine to people who do not cultivate, their bodies are far weaker than us.” He stood up and walked and was ready to depart.

    “I’ll keep that in mind, thank you, mister, may I know your name? So I can repay you in the future.”

    Eznho bowed and asked.

    “My name? You are not yet qualified to know it. If you want to get stronger and know my name, find me at Red Sparrow City. I’ll wait for a month, find me at the Batawa restaurant if you are interested. I am not forcing you kid, this is just an appetizer if you want to continue cultivating. I’ll give you an advice kid, never let your emotion control you, you are lucky your enemies this time were weak. Who knows, maybe next time you would not be. One more thing, I suggest you don’t go back to Sin city, chaos is descending there.”

    The man spoke seriously, but what he said was true, if his enemies were stronger and smarter, they could have easily killed Eznho. Lucky for him, they were exhausted from their previous battle.

    As he was about to leave, beastly growls were heard and countless pairs of eyes were staring at them from the dark.

    “Hmph! A bunch of mice trying to intimidate a lion?” He snorted and let out a suffocating aura that even made Eznho suffocate. Beast cries that sounded like puppies being bullied were heard and all the eyes disappeared. Every living creature within a kilometer fled in terror.

    Such Strength!

    Eznho exclaimed inside then clenched his fist and his eyes started to fill with determination.

    The mysterios man waved his hand and the boat appeared then stepped on it.

    “See you kid,” A bottle of medicine came out of nowhere and was tossed towards Eznho.

    Eznho caught it out of reflex and raised his head as the mysterious man disappeared in the night sky. He calmed down after a while and looked towards the direction of Sin City and could not help but worry.

    “Stay safe big brother,” He muttered and went inside the tent.
     
  8. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 27 Siege

    The mysterious man was atop the boat sailing through the night clouds but the wind and snow could not enter the boat’s premises.

    “What an interesting kid, he even has a connection with that infamous cult. He will have a hard time in the future if people will know about this, let’s just leave it up to fate. He seems to have quite a destiny in him, let’s give him a few more test to see how far he can go in the future.”

    He was pondering on things and at the same time summarizing all the information he obtained.

    “Basing on all the information I gathered, that old man Dan the kid was talking about is most likely the one who took the core. There has also been a wisp of news that quite a number of experts died in a miserable way not too long ago. It was linked to the Blood Gumamela which in turn is an ingredient that can be combined with the golden serpent’s core. He’s gathering ingredients to boost the cores effect, he’s probably an expert to need a lot of ingredients. Looking forward to meeting him, I hope they give me the mission to track him down.”

    He started to become excited and looked forward to the day he would meet this crafty fellow.

    “Well, I’ll just gonna give the information and come what may,”

    Taking a deep breath, he entered a meditative state and continued to travel towards Red Sparrow City.

    .....

    Dawn was already breaking, Eznho was seated beside Minchin and was contemplating everything that happened. He tried recalling how he got injured but could not no matter how hard he tried. The wound on his palm already close up thanks to the miraculous medicine the mysterious man gave him.

    What he was regretting the most was the dagger that was given by Martin which got broken in half. He tried looking for the other half but was met with disappointment. What he found interesting was the crossbow, after looking around, he found three usable bolts and packed it together with a cloth, based on his intuition, this crossbow is not ordinary and would study it later if he had time.

    Aside from that, he found three decent daggers and found no interest on looting other things from the corpses, all of the corpses were either the mercenaries or the bandits, the servants must have fled during the fight.

    Their carriage was still around and after fixing everything, he carried Minchin gently and put her inside the carriage which was filled with soft materials. He turned to have another look and urged the horse to go slowly as to not make Minchin uncomfortable in any way. The campsite he left was dyed red and was in a lot of mess, birds and other beasts could not resist their nature and started to approach again.

    He will never forget this event for the rest of his life. After this experience, he slowly understood how thin the barrier was from living and dying especially for cultivators. He promised to himself to make sure that his loved ones will not become a collateral damage during his path to cultivation. He would rather not continue if the price was hurting the people he cared about.

    He took a deep breath and hoped for the best, whatever the future may hold for him, he will do his best and struggle to survive in this cruel world.

    A new adventure was waiting for him at Red Sparrow City.

    .....

    After pulling some favors and spending a fortune, Floyd managed to amass an army composed of soldiers, vagabonds and mercenaries. He did not waste his time and marched for the border, faced with no resistance he continued on towards Sin City. He was not only confident about this move because of the colonel’s support but also because attacking a city like Sin City can only be considered by both kingdoms as a small skirmish as long as he knows his limit.

    On the other hand, Batista and Wilfred were busy trying to raise the defense of the city and started to make preparations to activate the defensive formation. Cities have their own defense formations laid out by formation masters, though the strength of this formations vary depending on the resources of the city.

    Batista, Wilfred and Randolf were having a meeting inside the city.

    “Brother how many more days until they arrive?” Batista inquired with a heavy tone.

    “Earliest would be five days and latest would be seven,” Wilfred answered with a calm voice.

    “Depending on what kind of siege weapons Floyd has brought, we cannot really determine how long the defensive formations will last. The people who will be most affected will be the citizens who will choose to stay and the weaker soldiers. Brother, there is nothing much we can do except to defend and fight.”

    “You’re right, it has been a while since I’ve hacked people in two. Let’s make Floyd regret his move.”

    Batista spoke with a ruthless tone.

    “Randolph, spread the word that enemies are attacking and advise the citizens to evacuate. Also, ask for people want to fight and defend the city.” He paused for a while with a look of hesitation and finally sighed.

    “Tell them that those who are willing will be paid ten silvers, and if they are forced to fight, their pay would become fifty silvers.”

    Batista did not want this but they were outnumbered, a mob would be easily massacred by their enemies so his plan was to use them unless necessary and would only serve as his back-up.

    “As you command captain,” Randolph acknowledged the command and went out to execute the order.

    A while later, Batista’s message talisman lit up.

    “The scouts have reported that Floyd’s group already passed the border and will reach us in the evening,” Batista informed Wilfred and they started to prepare for battle.

    The atmosphere of the city was heavy, long caravans exited the city. Most of them camped tens of kilometer from the city and would wait for the battle to conclude before they return. This was not the first time it actually happened, once in a while, skirmishes like this occur. During the reshuffling of powers which started a thousand years ago, cities like this were easily destroyed, so this kind of commotion did not cause any big wave.

    The civilian volunteers were mostly composed of homeless people which numbered two hundred to three hundred. They were carrying different kinds of weapon such as pikes, steel rods and assorted makeshift weapons. Batista lent them weapons but it was not enough due to their number.

    The sky was darkening when people on guard at the walls saw a long line of people coming their way which looked like a giant snake made of people. They were marching in unison bringing about an intimidating aura. Everyone gathered at the wall while breathing in cold air, some of them even started to get nervous.

    “Enemies approaching!”

    Somebody shouted and sounded the war drums.

    Dong! Dong! Dong!

    The sound of the war drums reverberated throughout the city startling everyone. Orders have been passed and every personell got to their assigned stations. Torches have been lit in the watchtowers and the higher-ups gathered around to observe.

    “They finally arrived,”

    Batista took a deep breath and released an aura akin to beast preparing to tear its opponent. Everyone became somber and readied themselves.

    The opposite army stopped ten kilometers from the city and started to make camp. Floyd and Jack on the other hand nonchalantly rode towards the city with their horses after passing down orders. With their sharp vision, Batista, Wilfred and Randolph rode out to meet them halfway. There was a wide stretch of plain in front of the eastern gate of the city which was enough to use as a battlefield.

    Five people met in the middle while being watched by countless pair of eyes. Floyd had a beaming smile on his as if he was meeting with old friends while Jack had a placid face.

    “Good evening gentlemen,” He spoke without hesitation.

    “Cut the crap Floyd, for what reason are you throwing your weight around?” Wilfred could not restrain his irritation and showed no respect.

    “Whoah! Chill out Wilfred, and what a dumb question, you know what I want,” Floyd did not take it to heart and even teased.

    “Hmph! In your dreams, you think this intimidation will have an effect? Wilky already gave it to the headquarters and is coming back with back-up, so I suggest you pack your bags and scuttle away.” Wilfred snorted in disdain.

    “You think I care? Suit yourselves, gentlemen, let’s have an entertaining game then, shall we?”

    Floyd answered with a chuckle and rode away with Jack while Batista’s group watched them with serious faces. There was nothing they could do but to defend and survive until back-up arrives.

    .....

    Both sides were in a battle mode before sunrise, some were in high spirits ready to prove themselves while others were praying inside that a miracle would happen and the fight would not continue.

    Boom! Boom! Boom!

    The drums of war sounded out and the attacking party marched until they were five kilometers away from the city and formed into groups resulting in a neat formation. The defenders lined up on the wall while watching their enemies prepare their attack. Their magical cannons could only reach up to three kilometers which were obviously known by the enemy.

    Floyd got down from his horse and stood in front of the army while looking at the city with mocking eyes and waved hand producing five magical cannons.

    Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud!

    They landed simultaneously producing loud sounds, complicated formations were engraved on them flickering once in a while making them look like bringers of death.

    Everyone gasp when they saw the cannons especially Batista and his team, they were not ordinary magical cannons. These cannons were a higher grade than what they have, five kilometers was the maximum they could reach which meant they could attack the city without restraint.

    “We're fucked! How did that bastard get those cannons, it must be from that Colonel James. Damn!”

    Batista had an ugly look on his face, he did not expect Floyd to have these cannons.

    “Fire!”

    Without further ado, Floyd ordered the attack startling everyone.

    “Activate the formation!”

    Batista ordered and formations lit up on the walls and a translucent membrane surrounded the city like a dome, runes were flickering from time to time on the surface.

    Bang!

    The first cannonball made contact causing a thundering sound and producing fireworks while the formation rippled making everyone inside the city nervous.

    Bang!

    The second cannonball came after half an hour, ramming itself against the formation, the attacks were slow due to recharge time and the limit of supply so Floyd had no choice but to attack slowly and alternately.

    The attacks continued and only stopped when the sun had set, the last attack caused a crack on the formation but was repaired by itself. The same things happened for three days, the only difference was there was a lot of crack on the formation and the self-repair was so slow due to its low quality.

    By the end of the fourth day, the cracks were so numerous that it will only take a few rounds to completely destroy it.

    Batista ordered everyone to prepare for war on the fifth day, he knew the formation won’t last any longer and they would have to defend the city with their bodies.

    Boom!

    The fifth day, attacks came and after three hours of continues barrage, gaps already formed and debris from the cannon balls fell down the city causing buildings to fall and crumble.

    Boom! Boom! Boom!

    Three simultaneous attacks came which broke the final straw, the formation broke apart turning into motes of light and disappearing with the wind.

    Boom! Boom!

    Two more cannon balls came with a dazzling light, they were different from the previous ones and aimed towards the sky of the city.

    “Not good! It’s a Meteor Cannonball!”

    Wilfred’s eye shrunk and brought out his bow and charged his arrow with his wind energy attacking one of the balls.

    Piercing Wind!

    One of the balls explode and debris collided with the walls leaving large cracks and rubbles falling after being destroyed by Wilfred.

    “Prepare for impact!”

    Batista shouted and raised his shield and the soldiers did the same while the others tried to find shelter.

    Booooom!

    A loud thunder-like sound exploded above Sin City bringing a blinding light like the sun which produced countless small meteors formed by condensed energy that rained down the city. Looking from below, it was like doomsday was coming.

    Rain of Arrows!

    Wilfred attacked once more with a myriad of arrows composed of heavenly energy destroying almost a third of the meteors.

    “Ahhhh!”

    Buildings fell to the ground while other people who preferred to stay and get advantage of the chaos were either crushed or injured. A decent number of soldiers and members of the mob were also killed brutally making Batista seethe with anger. A fourth of the city was razed to the ground. Despair loomed over the city.

    “How did that bastard acquire such supplies, isn’t this kind of cannonballs supposed to be only used during an all-out war?”

    This kind of cannonballs was tailor-made for destruction and could easily ravage cities. The attacks did not continue anymore giving Batista time to regroup his subordinates.

    Floyd, on the other hand, stopped after using the meteor cannonballs, after all using this kind of materials including the cannons ate a lot of his fortune. He could only endure and go on with his plans then ordered his army to attack. Inciting chaos was a crucial point for his plan to succeed.

    They slowly advanced and when they reached a distance of three kilometers and a half from the city, they picked up their speed and rushed. The cavalries were in front, footmen in the middle and archers at the back.

    While the enemies were advancing, Batista ordered his men to open the gates and get into formation to receive the incoming enemies. Archers were stationed on top of the walls while the heavy infantry with large shields and spears were on the ground and acted as the vanguard.

    “Fire!”

    Batista shouted the ordered and fifteen cannons attacked alternately when the enemies reached the three-kilometer range.

    “Ahhhh!”

    Scalp tingling screams could be heard from afar while blood, bits of flesh and bones flew in the air. Over a hundred people died from that one-time attack, due to the same disadvantage, the cannons had to recharge for a period of time before being used.

    “Archers! Fire at will!”

    Batista commanded and arrow rained from the sky, Wilfred did not attack and was recovering his energy as much as he for the incoming clash with Jack and Floyd.

    More enemies fell when arrows struck them but they still continued to advance. The cavalry was the first to arrive, time seemed to slow down for everyone as they were only an inch away from the tips of their enemy’s spears.
     
  9. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 28 Fight!

    Clang! Bang! Whoah! Ahhh!

    All sorts of noises arose from the chaos of the first contact. Blood and all sorts of bodily fluid splattered everywhere, both sides were at each other's throat while trying to get the upper hand. The defenders tried their best to stand their ground especially the heavy infantry who were bombarded by attacks from all sides. Despite their effort, enemies kept coming and signs of their formation breaking were showing up.

    Arrows were flying in the air, both parties were exchanging attacks. Bodies started to fall down from the wall, formations started to scatter, it was a scene of chaos. It was to be expected as not everyone was trained properly.

    Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

    Five more cannons were fired aiming for the enemy infantry closing in to reduce their number. Batista had no choice but to sacrifice five of the cannons. Using them without proper cooldown would render them useless and would have to be fully repaired by formation masters and blacksmiths.

    Mutilated bodies, corpses and body parts were scattered around the battlefield. The defenders were loosing and their numbers were reduced by almost a half while their enemies continued to kill them off.

    “Damn it!” Batista could not hold it any longer and ordered the mob to attack while leaping down the wall with Randolph to help their comrades.

    He brought out his great axe, it was two meters long with the head having two big curved blades on each side with a dark red color. Randolph, on the other hand, produced an exquisite spear made from precious metals, it was thicker and heavier than the normal spear which had a metallic gray color.

    Both of them landed with a loud thud creating two small craters and started to massacre their way into the enemy’s ranks. Bodies were split and hacked apart everywhere they went, nobody could even stop for a second.

    Screee!

    An ear-piercing screech was heard and a ten-meter-long ice worm made of blue ice came baring its round mouth full of sharp thin teeth and wanted to swallow Batista.

    Earth Spike!

    He shouted and filled his great axe with earth energy and smashed it hard on the ground in front of him creating vibrations and cracks. A second later, sharp earth spikes emerged from the ground where the ice worm was crawling skewering it like a barbeque making it screech one more time then its body started to crack and crumble apart turning into a mist.

    “Not bad, you still have the muscles.” Floyd emerged on the scene with Jack on his side with their weapons on hand.

    Batista and Randolph did not speak and prepared for battle.

    Wooosshh!

    An arrow came from above with great momentum filled with wind energy aimed at the both of them making Floyd and Jack dodge and leap on opposite sides.

    “Let’s go!” Batista did not dally and dashed towards Floyd while Randolph followed behind.

    Jack, on the other hand, was attacked continuously by arrows giving him no choice but to continuously dodge while trying to slowly shorten the gap between him and Wilfred. Upon reaching a distance from the wall where Wilfred was attacking, he slashed his spear.

    Wind Cutter!

    A greenish three-meter crescent energy was formed and collided with the wall making it crumble. Wilfred leaped with no effort while continuing his attack. Jack took his chance and chased after him while also attacking with long-range attacks. Their fight was dragged inside the city making dust rise from destroyed infrastructure wherever they went.

    Batista and Randolph teamed up due to the gap in cultivation, if only he was not injured from the past, he could easily go toe to toe with Floyd. The duo gave Floyd quite a headache despite his cultivation advantage primarily because Batista is not some rookie soldier and has years of battle experience. He was only able to injure him in the past due to his sneak attack.

    Floyd continued to summon a foot-long ice spikes and barraged the duo giving them no choice but to passively defend while trying close their gap. Their fight moved from place to place and the people nearby immediately avoided them for fear of becoming a collateral damage.

    Earth Spike!

    Batista became irritated with the chase and accelerated the pace of the fight.

    Feeling the ground vibration, Floyd leaped to the side but was suddenly faced with a barrage of spear tips aiming for his life.

    Hmph!

    He snorted in disdain and slashed his sword several times canceling the spear attacks then landed on the ground with a backflip. Batista took the chance and leaped mid-air holding his great axe with two hands above his head while earth energy surrounded it.

    Batista Smash!

    He swung with full force and aimed for Floyd’s head. Floyd reacted immediately and formed hand seals with his other hand.

    Ice Lance!

    A thick lance made of ice formed and floated beside him then with a grabbing motion, he threw it with great might colliding with Batista’s axe.

    Booom!

    Energy wave blasted out making the surrounding snow disappear within a fifty-meter radius. The lance turned into ice fragments and eventually disappeared but Batista’s momentum was stopped and he was forced to flip backward creating a distance between them. He landed heavily on the ground while he wiped the blood from his mouth, Randolph stopped attacking and rushed beside him.

    “Captain, are you alright,” He asked with a worried tone.

    “Don’t worry, only a minor injury.” Batista maintained his composure but was trying to calm down the berserk energy inside him.

    If he continued to use excessive energy, his injury could worsen and his cultivation might dwindle down again. His original cultivation was at the Seeker Stage but due to the injury in his dantian, he was forced down back to the peak of Halo Stage.

    “Let’s have some more fun, it's my turn now.” Floyd smiled smugly and formed hand seals.

    Infinite Ice Sword!

    Ice energy gathered around him and formed nine swords that surrounded him forming an ark. He waved his hand forward controlling two of the swords that flew towards the duo with great speed.

    “Here it comes!” Batista and Randolph circulated their energy at the same time.

    Earth Wall!

    Spear Point!

    Batista summoned a meter thick wall of earth while Randolph used his spear to defend.

    Bang! Bang!

    Two loud collisions occurred and both of them were forced back, giving them no chance to recover, Floyd attacked again and again forcing the duo into a miserable state. Every time the ice swords disappeared another one formed, as long as Floyd does not run out of energy or cancel the skill, the swords of ice will continue to reform.

    After a series of attack, the duo were in a tattered state, their armor had cracks and showed signs of breaking apart while their body were full of all kinds of cuts making them bleed all over.

    “Is that all you’ve got?” Floyd mocked.

    Batista and Randolph just looked at him with cold eyes. They took a deep breath at the same time and prepared for another round. Without speaking they dashed on opposite sides trying to do a pincer attack, Floyd resumed his attack that produced loud sounds sending rubble and snow everywhere while the duo did their best to dodge and continue with the attack.

    Batista made handseals then leaped and landed ten meters away from Floyd creating a small crater.

    Earth Clap!

    The ground around Floyd vibrated then two enormous hands emerged from both sides and tried to squash him.

    Boom!

    Dust rose from the collision and a human figure leaped from it leaving a trail of dust.

    Batista Wheel!

    Pierce the Sky!

    Giving Floyd no chance to recover, Batista threw out his great axe in a horizontal motion creating a vacuum that sucked all sorts of materials creating a sizable tornado. At the same time, Randolph poured a lot of energy on his spear the aimed it at Floyd making a whistling sound and caused a slight ripple in space.

    “Not bad,” Floyd was still nonchalant after seeing both attacks and also formed hand seals.

    Dance of the Ice Swords!

    The nine swords started to circulate around him creating an ice tornado shield that protected him.

    Screech!

    Both weapons tried to penetrate the ice tornado but could not and in the end, the energy infused in them ran out and they were deflected. The duo did not falter and went after their weapons and continued the attacks.

    “More! Let me see your despair,” Floyd laughed in delight and continued to clash with the two.

    Unbeknownst to all, a pair of dark red eyes was watching from the shadows seemingly looking for an opportunity while the battle intensified. Upon seeing that the battle was reaching climax and everybody was focused on it, he made his move and headed to one of the watchtowers where Dave was taking command while overseeing the battlefield.

    .....

    Meanwhile, while chaos was happening at Sin City, Eznho and Minchin continued to travel and finally reached Red Sparrow City without facing any trouble. Minchin was in and out of consciousness but she was not in any danger and just needs to rest for a few more days. Eznho, on the other hand, did not neglect his cultivation and continued to practice the Heaven-Seizing breathing technique while continuing to ingest the beast blood.

    Looking at from afar, the city seemed to be endless that spanned tens of thousands of kilometers, if one is not careful, he could get lost. It contained its own rivers, lakes, valleys and mountains. The most eye-catching was almost all of the roofs of the buildings were obviously dyed red despite the snowfall, hence the name.

    Eznho could not help but widen his eyes in awe, he could not believe such a place exists. Compared to Sin city, it was like a poop and a diamond. He marveled the view before heading towards one of the gates. Aside from him, a lot of travelers formed a line while waiting to be granted an entry.

    While waiting in line, he raised his head and wondered how people created such city walls that were at least a hundred meters tall with numerous watchtowers and guards patrolling every now and then.

    “Out of the way!” A shout woke up from his daze.

    A group of fully armed men in uniform riding armored horses marched and guarded a luxurious carriage. The guards at the gate did not even try to stop them and stepped aside while the group continued to march inside.

    “Who’s that? How come they don’t need to pay an entrance fee?” One of the young travelers inquired.

    “Hush! Do you want to get in trouble? They are obviously from a great background so of course, they don’t need to line up and pay.” A veteran merchant reprimanded him.

    The young traveler smiled in embarrassment and stopped talking.

    Time went by and it was Eznho’s turn, he was shocked again upon looking at the imposing red gates. It was different from looking from afar and actually being in front of it, the gate seemed to be made for giant people.

    What’s the point of creating such big gates?

    He questioned in his mind and was interrupted by the guard. Their uniform was far better than those who were at Sin City. An emblem that looked like a red sparrow was embedded in his chest armor.

    “Ten gold coins,” the guard said apathetically while he looked at Eznho from his seat.

    Ten gold coins just for the entrance fee! My God!

    Enzho was shocked, ten gold coins was a lot of money, it could sustain a low-class family for years. Despite his shock, he paid and did not bicker as he had still a lot of money to spare and did not want to invite trouble.

    Urban air assaulted his face making his clothes and hair flutter. The scene in front of him stunned him, he truly was a country bumpkin. The street was wide enough for ten carriages to pass, stalls were everywhere selling all kinds of things like food, medicines and random materials. People were shouting trying to entice costumers, others were haggling, it was a scene of ‘chaos’. Carriages and carts were passing by, some children were even running with dirty clothes.

    It took time for him to adjust and slowly urged his horse to walk while he tried to observe the place and find someplace to stay. He tried his best to look composed and not show any sign that he was a ‘country bumpkin’.
     
  10. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 29 Experience is the Best Teacher?

    Snow fell and the wind carried it covering the land in white that looked like cotton fields from above. Despite the biting cold, Red Sparrow City was busy as ever as if the winter was just a passing breeze. Drinking establishments were the busiest as people found warmth in alcohol.

    Eznho slowly rode his carriage while trying to find a decent and peaceful inn for him and Minchin to stay. He ignored everyone who approached them trying to offer their establishments. Hours passed but he could not find a secluded and decent inn, after all, it was his first time here.

    I need someone who knows a lot of this place. He thought to himself.

    As if the heavens heard him, a boy with a dirty face and tattered clothes approached him. He was thin for his age, his hair was blonde with a lot of grease and dirt on it and was cut with uneven lengths making him more look messier. He seemed to be just about the same age as Ezhno but his demeanor was not childish, instead, he looked like one of the ruffian kids who live in the slums.

    “Hey, kid you’re new here aren’t you?” The blonde kid spoke to Eznho with a domineering behavior as if he was older than him.

    “Huh?” Ezhno was surprised by the kid’s tone.

    “I can find whatever you are looking for, I know this city like the back of my hand.” The kid spoke with confidence.

    “Really now?” Eznho raised his eyebrow with a questioning behavior.

    “Hmph! A country bumpkin like you would get lost within a day without any guide.” The kid retorded with a mocking tone.

    Eznho was skeptical but what the kid said was the truth, he contemplated for a moment then decided. He did not want to waste any more time and wanted to find a comfortable place for his aunt as soon as possible.

    “Fine, I’ll pay you if you find me an inn with a peaceful ambiance and away from this crowded place.”

    The kid thought for a second before responding.

    “Okay got it, that’s easy, follow me.” He seemed to become enthusiastic and lead the way.

    Eznho followed the kid, they slowly moved away from the crowd. Little by little, only a handful of people were in the vicinity.

    Hmmm? There are fewer people here now, something is not right. But then again I asked him for a place away from the crowd.

    He was getting suspicious, another hour passed and they were in an alley with no people at all. He stopped and raised his guard and asked with suspicion.

    “Hey kid, where are you taking me? This doesn’t seem to be a place where inns are located.”

    “Don’t worry we are almost there, just past this alley,” the kid answered without looking back.

    Eznho did not think any longer and wanted to go back but before he could move, five people were blocking his path while another group of five were on the opposite side.

    Damn it!

    Eznho gritted his teeth and felt mad at himself, he brought himself and Minchin on a dangerous situation. But this could not be entirely blamed on Eznho, after all, everyone has to learn things for themselves one way or the other. He could make the horse gallop and possibly force his way out but Minchin was inside so this was not an option. All he could do for now was observe.

    “Ke ke ke ke, Good job Budoy.”

    A thin man in his thirties with some tatters on his clothes walked forward and patted the blond kid’s shoulder, he seemed to be the leader. The kid did not say anything and walked to the side and just stood there. The leader did not bother with him anymore and looked at Eznho with his sharp thin eyes.

    “Hey, kid, if you know what is best for you, you better leave your carriage and scram or I’ll make you regret it.” He spoke in a commanding voice and brought out a coarse dagger to intimidate Eznho.

    Eznho just sat in the driver’s seat and observed, from his vision he could see that nobody in the group was over twenty, they were all teenagers except for the leader. From his deduction, this group was just a bunch of ruffians who stole from weak people who were unaware of how dangerous the city really is and he fell for it because of naiveness and carelessness, just like him.

    Looking at the unmoving Eznho, the leader sneered and thought that the kid was frozen stiff because of fear then walked towards the carriage wanting too see what’s inside. He was hoping for an innocent lady who just came here for sightseeing because deep inside he wanted to taste a young virgin and ravage her. After all, he was one of the lowest scums in the city and did not have that luxury.

    He only managed to form a group of kids by intimidating and threatening them. Eznho was contemplating on what to do when the leader started to walk and attempted to open the carriage.

    “What are you doing?” He looked at the leader with a chilly gaze that spooked him.

    “Fuck! Who do you think you are? I’ll scoop out your eyes! Come down here!”

    The leader was furious when he felt threatened by the boy’s gaze attempted to grab him and pull him down to the ground.

    Psskk!

    But before he could touch him a dagger came out of nowhere and pierced his palm through and through.

    “Ahhhhh!”

    The pain made the thin man scream in agony and pulled his hand out of reflex worsening the wound. He gritted his teeth and tolerated the pain, beads of sweat trickled down his face while he tried to put pressure on his bleeding hand. Eznho jumped down from his seat and slowly walked towards the man making him stumble on his butt as he tried to back away.

    He raised his dagger and pointed it at Eznho with shaky hands.

    “Do-don't come any closer or I’ll kill you!” He stuttered while trying to put on a face of courage.

    Eznho kicked the dagger out of the man’s hand bringing about another source of pain that made the man scream.

    “Kill him!” He shouted and ordered his men.

    “If you try to move closer, don’t blame me for injuring you,” He turned his gaze to the others that made them hesitate. He did not want to fight unnecessary battles and only tried to threaten the others.

    “Now, go away and do something good with your lives,”

    The teenagers looked at each other with weird looks on their faces but did not hesitate and scattered. The blonde boy tried to sneak away but Eznho glared at him making him stand there like a statue.

    Useless ungrateful bastards, just you wait!

    The leader was furious but tried his best to calm down and find a way out of this situation.

    “What do you want?” He did his best to speak in a humble manner. Based on his experience this kid in front of him is not someone to be trifled with.

    Eznho just stood there like he was the executioner but deep inside he was conflicted on what to do.

    Should I kill him? No! I don’t want to be someone who just kills people and besides, he can’t even fight back at all. But he is a bad man, I am sure of that, what should I do?

    Despite his past experiences, he was still a child and not a cold-blooded killer. He may have killed someone before but it was self-defense and the other time, he was not aware of it. After a moment of silence, Eznho spoke with a serious tone.

    “Are you willing to change yourself and leave an honest life from now on? If I ever see you again doing dubious things, I’ll cripple you.”

    What?

    Both the blonde kid and the man in front of him had a confused look on their faces.

    Is he toying with me? The man thought.

    “Yes! Yes! I am willing! I swear on my mother’s grave!” He nodded in succession and even raised his bloody hand in oath.

    “Good!” Eznho answered and climbed back on his seat then looked at the blonde kid.

    “Now, take me to the place I told you and no more detours.”

    “Fine follow me,” He answered in a disgruntled manner and started to walk.

    The man was still in a daze after seeing that Eznho really left.

    Fuck to think that I, Judas, was fucked up by a kid. Just you wait!

    He struggled to get up and tended to his wound then walked away in shame.

    .....

    While they were traveling the blonde kid slowed down walked the same pace as the carriage and then talked to Eznho in a disappointed manner.

    “You know, Judas will not let this go and he will surely bring trouble to you in the future.”

    “Maybe yes, maybe no, I know he did bad things but who am I to judge? And besides, I am not someone who just kills people on a whim. My aunt told me that despite the world’s cruelty, goodness will never disappear.”

    Eznho answered with an honest face.

    Is this guy an idiot? How did he survive until now? What kind of shitty and useless advice is that?

    The blonde kid grumbled inside but did not dare voice it out.

    They were now in a residential area, it was secluded and most of the buildings were inns and the noises were minimal.

    “This is one of the living districts of the outer city. You can go choose whichever you like.”

    The blonde kid made a simple introduction. Eznho scanned the surroundings and saw buildings with different sizes and designs. They were designed for living purposes, the place was just like the entirety of Sin City and this was just a small part of the city.

    How vast is this city?

    He wondered and was even more amazed at how large is the city.

    “Take me to the safest inn,” Eznho ordered and they continued walking.

    Eznho rented the whole top floor on one of the expensive inns that cost him five gold coins a day which made the blonde kid drop his jaw but Eznho did not care as long as his aunt was comfortable and safe. The place had guards so it was far safer than the others.

    After arranging everything, Eznho gave a gold coin to the kid and asked him to leave. The blonde kid gritted his teeth and was hesitating as if he wanted to say something.

    “Do you need anything else?” Eznho asked when he saw the kid’s reaction.

    Thud!

    The blonde kid suddenly kneeled on one knee and bowed his head. He was deeply humiliated but he made his gamble. He thought hard about this and made the decision to seek help from this stranger, based on his intuition and observation, despite being an idiot, he was good-natured.

    “My name is Budoy, I know I did something wrong and put you in danger but I had no choice, I had to do it for my sister. I am begging you, please save my sister, I am willing to serve you for the rest of my life if you save her.”

    “Huh?” Eznho was shocked by the sudden change in the situation and had a conflicted mind.

    He knew getting involved in somebody’s business was not a good idea but he could not ignore the kid kneeling in front of him.

    Arggg! The heck! Why didn’t you just leave and do your own business!

    “Stand up, tell me the current situation and I will decide after,”

    Eznho had no choice at the moment, he could ignore him but his conscience would not let him sleep. He would help if he can, but if the situation is too complicated he will have to decline. Budoy was delighted and summarized the situation.

    “My sister was sold by that bastard Judas to one of the restaurants, and she is now working for them. According to the owner, I could buy her back for five hundred gold coins. All I have now is a hundred, I promise you, I will pay everything with interest, just please save her.”

    Budoy pleaded and tried to convince Eznho then brought out a pouch that was clanking with coins.

    “How was he able to sell your sister?” Eznho knows there is more to this story.

    Budoy hesitated for a second then bit his lip. He had limited options right now and who knows, Judas might do something to his sister out of anger.

    “We arrived here at the city one year ago together with a merchant group. We stayed in the middle area of the city then I accidentally overheard the merchant saying that he would sell my sister to one of the rich families who was fond of young girls. So we snuck out of the middle district and tried to survive here in the outer district but life was harder than I thought. We bumped into Judas and due to my lack of strength, I could not stop him from selling her like a commodity. I had no choice but to work under him and try to earn money to buy back my sister. It is the only way to earn fast and acquire that kind of sum.”

    Budoy was clenching his fist until his palms were white and his eyes started to moisten. Eznho was conflicted, he knows there are many strings attached to this situation but his conscience did not want to just ignore it.

    “Are you sure that if we buy her back, no troubles will come?”

    “I am sure with the owner’s temperament, as long as you give him enough, he will not bicker anymore because my sister won’t be of much use to him. After that, let me arrange things for my sister first and then I can become your servant. If I don’t do what I said, may the heavens curse me and make me suffer for eternity.”

    Budoy raised his hand while making the oath showing a serious and a dignified face.
     
  11. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 30 Family

    Morning came and the city was filled with mist that blocked the sun’s rays. Due to the urging of Budoy, Eznho and him departed early and went to the establishment where his sister was working. Eznho paid a maid to take care of his aunt for the day. The establishment was called Hundred Dishes Restaurant and was located near a river a kilometer away from the city walls, the staff were starting to prepare for the day.

    Eznho and Budoy entered and asked for the owner but the one who met with them was an old manager in plain white robes.

    “What do you want kids? Stop wasting our time or else...” the manager spoke with a cold and irritated tone.

    “We have business with the owner old man, go tell him that I am here for my sister. If I were you I’d run or else you’d face the consequences if your boss will lose a ton of money.” Budoy retorded without respect.

    “You! Disrespectful bastard!” The old man was furious and pointed his finger to Budoy.

    “Mister, I assure you we are here for business. Now could you please go inform your boss.” Before things got out of hand, Eznho butted in and went straight to the point.

    “Hmph! As if you kids have a lot of money,” the old man was angry but he did not want to risk it and went upstairs to inform his boss.

    Ten minutes later the old manager was back with a short middle-aged man with a round protruding belly wearing a loose blue robe with golden patterns.

    “Haha, so it is you Budoy, here to pick up your sister?”

    He was enthusiastic and did not mind who was he talking to as long as it brings him good money.

    “May I know the name of this young sir?”

    He did not believe Budoy had the sum he needed so he looked curiously at Eznho who wore simple garments that didn’t seem to be a young master with a rich background. With his dealings from the past, he could gauge a man’s background from his demeanor and bearing, no matter how he looked at it, Eznho seemed to be from a common background.

    “You can call me Eznho senior, I am here to pay for Budoy’s sister.” He did not want to prolong the conversation and wanted to get the business done as soon as possible.

    “Straightforward attitude is it? I like that, go bring her out.” He did not mind and ordered the old manager to go fetch the girl.

    Awhile later the manager came back with a little girl who looked like a seven-year-old. She somewhat resembled her brother, she had a wavy blonde hair that hung down on her shoulders. Her eyes were also blue that resembled a clear blue sky, it made her look adorable and cute but you could see stubbornness on her face.

    “Big brother!” She could not contain her excitement and wanted to go hug her brother but she was held back by the old manager.

    “Let her go!” Budoy was agitated and blurted out and shot a hateful glance at the old man.

    “Payment first,” The owner spoke with a beaming smile.

    “Will this do?”

    Eznho brought out the bank card which surprised the owner, the old manager and Budoy. This made the owner’s face bloom like a flower and brought out a thin rectangular object engraved with formations which is used to deduct money from bank cards.

    “Let her go,”

    “Big brother! I thought you forgot me already,” The little girl started to sob while hugging Budoy who also hugged her back tightly.

    “Silly girl, how could big brother forget you. I will never do that, I promise this will not happen again.” Budoy was obviously full of joy right now but tried his best to hold back his tears.

    “Nice dealing business with you young sir, I hope to have more with you in the future. You can call me Crispin and you are welcome to my humble restaurant anytime. I hope you have no ill feelings towards me, business is business after all and you see I never mistreated the young lady.” The owner tried to smoothen things out as he had an inkling feeling that there was more to this boy in front of him.

    “Thank you for that,”

    Eznho expressed his thanks and did not deny nor accept the owner's invitation but the owner did not mind it as long as he was not on Eznho’s bad side.

    “Let’s go,” He bowed in respect and urged the siblings who were still hugging.

    Looking at the trio’s back, the manager spoke.

    “What about Judas?”

    “That lowly scum? I already paid him for the girl, if he wants her back, it is his own problem.”

    The owner spoke in disdain and went back inside, he was satisfied with this morning’s event.

    .....

    Eznho and the two siblings did not go on detours and went straight back to the inn. After that, he told them to take a bath first as they really looked dirty and messy. After taking a bath, the siblings wore simple garments and went to see Eznho. To his surprise, after being cleaned thoroughly, the sibling’s look was a far cry from before when he first met them.

    They were truly both good looking and will surely grow into a pair of beautiful people that would make others go wild. He was truly shocked by this outcome but what was out of context was Budoy’s hair that was cut unevenly which would have to be cut properly later on.

    Aside from that, there was an aura that the siblings emitted that he could not pinpoint exactly as it was his first time sensing it. If he would describe it, it was an aura of elegance and gracefulness.

    “Okay, my name is Eznho, how may I call you young lady?” Eznho put on an amicable smile and looked at the girl.

    “Benefactor, my name is Aizarel but you can call me Aiza. I would like to thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.” The little girl put on an adorable smile and bowed.

    “You don’t have to call me benefactor, you can call just call me by my name.” Eznho smiled in response, he was starting to get fond of the little girl.

    “Ah? No, that won’t do, what about big brother?” Aizarel got confused and looked at Eznho then refused.

    “What? No! Little Aiza, I alone, am your big brother. Only me!” Budoy panicked a bit and shot a sharp look at Eznho.

    “Are you trying to steal her from me?”

    Eznho had a wry smile on his face and waved his hand in denial.

    “It’s okay Aizarel, just call me by my name, okay?”

    “Hmm, that won’t do,” Aizarel pouted that only made her look cuter.

    “How about I call benefactor eldest brother?”

    “Eh? What? No! Then should I call him big brother?” Budoy protested back.

    “Hmph! Big brother, he is clearly older than you.”

    “Well, yeah but he clearly thinks like an idiot and he is naive on worldly affairs,”

    “Big brother! Don’t say mean things, if you keep belittling eldest brother I will call him big brother instead.”

    “Ahhhhh!” Budoy felt defeated and pulled down his hair with his hands.

    Eznho was holding back his laughter while watching the comical debate between the two. Budoy’s attitude today was more amiable and he could not even win an argument with his little sister. The debate lasted for ten minutes before Budoy helplessly admitted defeat.

    “Okay, okay, little Aiza, please don’t get mad I will call him big brother from now on.”

    “Yay! You’re the best big brother,” She jumped out in happiness hugged Budoy.

    “You heard that eldest brother? Now we have an addition to our family.” She winked at Eznho and showed a thumbs up.

    “I’ll just call him big brother when little Aiza is around,” Budoy mumbled to himself.

    “Did you say something big brother?” Aizarel glared at him.

    “No-nothing,” Budoy immediately waved his hands trying to feign innocence.

    “Okay, call eldest brother big brother,” Aizarel crossed her hands over her chest and commanded Budoy.

    Budoy was grumbling inside but had no choice at the moment.

    “Bi-bi-big brother,” His voice was forced but he did his best and then bowed.

    Eznho was forced into the matter and did not know what to say, it was his first time being in such a situation. The only people he considered family was his big brother and his aunt. But looking at Aizarel’s face, he could not bear to disappoint her, and perhaps it was not a bad thing to befriend such people and he could feel this two were good people and had no ill intentions.

    “Alright then, I’ll call you little sister and little brother,”

    He spoke and looked at Budoy in a teasing manner. But deep inside he felt a strange feeling, after all it was his first time calling someone his younger sibling.

    Veins were popping on Budoy’s temple but he endured it when he looked at his sister jumping around in excitement.

    “Yay! I have a new big brother,”

    .....

    After all that commotion, they ate lunch and Aizarel was dead tired so she went to sleep in one of the rooms. Eznho and Budoy spoke in private to talk about how to arrange things.

    “What do you plan to do now?” Eznho spoke in a somber manner, after meeting Aizarel he did not want the little girl to suffer and experience any more hardships.

    “That’s none of your business,” Budoy answered dismissively.

    “Have you thought about your little sister? Are you certain that the same situation will not happen again? What if something worse will happen next time? Are you sure you can protect her?” Eznho barraged him with questions, he was truly worried about the little girl.

    Budoy became speechless and did not know how to answer, it was true after all. He did not have confidence in making sure that his little sister will be safe. Before he could answer back Eznho continued to speak.

    “To be honest, I don’t want your sister to suffer so I have a suggestion. As you know my aunt is sick and needs someone to take care and accompany her. It’s just a menial task so I believe your sister can do it, besides I cannot be with my aunt all the time. As for you, you can pay your debt by working for me, all I need is information, all you have to do is scout things for me. What do you think?”

    Budoy pondered for a moment, it was a good deal, after all, her sister is safe and obtaining information is just an easy job for him.

    “Fine, what do you need?”

    “Okay, your priority is to find a place called Batawa restaurant, give me information about the city, as accurate as possible and how to acquire residency inside the city. I need that information within fifteen days, can you do it?”

    Eznho did not hold back, he really needed someone to gather information right now as he did not have time to do it. Budoy did not think twice and immediately agreed.

    “And one last thing, there are five rooms here so you can use one of the rooms. You can also let little Aiza choose her own,”

    “Thank you,”

    Budoy was somewhat overwhelmed but expressed his gratitude in a sincere manner, they had a safe place to stay now and need not to worry about the biting cold of the winter. A day after, Minchin fully regained her consciousness but she was still weak and could only lay down and sit on her bed.

    Eznho made the introductions and Minchin was more than happy to have Aizarel accompany her, deep inside, it was a womans happiness to have a child. Seeing that everything is playing smoothly, Eznho could now concentrate on his cultivation.

    .....

    Smoke was rising from different places from inside and outside Sin city, the battle was still ongoing. Corpses were scattered everywhere but shouts and weapons colliding could still be heard. The defenders were starting to lose morale as their number dwindled down to only a third from the original. Their enemies started to gain momentum and continued to push until they were slowly cornered. Some even started making preparations to abandon the fight and run.

    Boom! Boom! Boom!

    Despite the passage of time, Batista and Randolph continued to fight Floyd despite the increasing disadvantage.

    “Haaaa, haaaa,”

    The duo were both in a ragged state making them breathe heavily while vapor came out of their mouth, their wounds worsened and their armors already broke exposing their inner leather armor. Both of their faces were pale, fresh and dried blood mixed together making their appearance pitiful.

    Floyd on the other was far better, there were only minor wounds and small cuts on his armor. His face was a bit pale from energy consumption but overall, he was in good condition.

    “Come on Batista, let’s have some more fun! Haha!” He was about to attack when his message talisman lit up.

    “Good, time to call back Jack,” He showed a sinister smile and muttered to himself then sent a message to Jack.

    Ice Mist!

    After that, he inhaled a mouthful of air and exhaled large amounts of mist that spread out on the surrounding one hundred meters. Batista and Randolph were engulfed within it but they were not afraid and raised their guard to the maximum.

    A minute later, a shadow landed five meters away from them.

    “It’s me brother,”

    Wilfred spoke and slowly walked towards them. He was in a far better condition than the duo, it was obvious that he and Jack did not fight an all out life and death battle.

    “Are you both okay?” He asked in a worried tone when he saw there sorry state.

    “We’re fine, we can still fight,” Batista answered and swallowed a pellet with Randolph.

    “Hmmmmm! Hmmmmm!”

    Wilfred was about to speak when a moaning sounded out. It seemed like a person who had his mouth covered with something and was trying to speak.

    “Haa!”

    Wilfred shouted and released an energy wave that dispersed the mist. When the mist evaporated, Batista’s eyes instantly exploded with fury when he looked at Floyd’s direction.

    “You fucking bastard!”

    He shouted at the top of his lungs that echoed throughout the battlefield startling everyone.
     
  12. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 31
    Chapter 31 All is Fair in Love and War

    Everyone stopped for a second and looked at Batista’s direction, he was fuming with anger and a savage aura was slowly building up around him making him look like a beast who was about to devour everyone around him. Opposite him were three people, aside from Jack and Floyd there was an additional person but he was bound with ropes fortified with formations and his mouth was also covered.

    “Motherfucker! Release him Floyd!”

    Batista wanted to jump out but Floyd pointed his sword at Dave’s neck making a small amount of blood flow.

    “Ah, ah, you better not make any unnecessary movements or my hand might get agitated.”

    Floyd spoke with a sinister smile while looking at Batista with a provocative face.

    “Damn! Floyd, this is too outrageous even for you,” Batista growled and tried his best to maintain his calm.

    “Hahahahaha!” Floyd suddenly burst into laughter then looked at Batista with a sinister look.

    “Outrageous? Really? Then what do you call what you’ve done all those years ago? Huh?”

    “Are you kidding me, Floyd? You still can’t get over it? Damn! How many times do I have to explain it to you? Huh? She never liked...”

    “Shut the fuck up! You know damn well how I felt about her but you still laid your hands on her! And worse, you even let her die!”

    Before Batista could finish his sentence, Floyd interrupted with fury in his eyes. The people around them felt kinda awkward listening to them because they knew how the enmity started.

    .....

    A little over forty years ago...

    In a remote hunting village located in the southern part of the Carson kingdom, black smoke was rising from burning houses. Cries of women being ravaged could be heard while children were weeping beside their father’s or brother’s corpses. All the men in the village have been murdered by the bandits.

    Coincidence or not, Batista was hunting in the mountains alone when the bandits attacked his village. He was fifteen years old but his body was bulked with muscles and he was bigger than the average man, this was due to his cultivation method. Their village did not produce any cultivators, he only got lucky when he entered one of the caves where a cultivator passed away in meditation and left his legacy.

    Looking at black smoke rising from where his home was located, he did his best to rush back but it was too late, the village was razed and the bandits were gone. His eyes were red and his body was trembling while slowly walked towards his house where his family was supposed to be waiting for him, his parents, his older sister and their newborn baby brother.

    Slowly opening the door, the smell of blood assaulted his nose and tears started to run down his face. He did his best to retain his sanity then went to the bedroom where he saw a nightmare he could never forget.

    His mother and sister were bare naked on the bed with blood all over their bodies.

    “Nooo!”

    Batista issued a low cry and could not contain his grief then kneeled down on the floor while trying his best not to become crazy. From the corner of his eye, he saw another horrifying scence, his baby brother was in the corner of the room lying in a pool of blood with his head mangled. It was obvious he thrown hard on the wall that smashed his head.

    “Uwaaaaaaaah! Awoooooo!”

    Batista could not take in any longer and howled like a mad beast, his tears slowly turned into blood. It took some time for him to slowly regain clarity, before anything else, with trembling hands, he covered the body of his loved ones and buried them together with his beheaded father where he found him at the center of the village together with the other men. His pain and grief were indescribable, it was a feeling no man could hope to endure but he did.

    Despite his agony and torment, he tried to find anyone who was still alive but to no avail. With all his strength, he buried everyone in the village and bid farewell. He endured all the suffering he felt and marched towards the bandit’s hideout, the Blackflag. The hideout was located near a thousand-meter cliff where a river flowed down below. Disregarding his life, he attacked the place killing everyone he saw and used any means he could use – hacking, punching, kicking, stabbing and even biting.

    It was a bloody and gory scene, if a normal person would see it, his intestines would turn upside down. Most of the corpses were not intact, Batista was bathed in blood, his and his enemy’s. Looking at his subordinates dying, the boss did not sit any longer and attacked personally.

    The fight did not last long, despite all the pent-up rage, will and determination, it could not close the gap in cultivation. Blood was flowing nonstop from Batista’s wounds, he was kneeling at the edge of the cliff with one knee while holding his axe in front of him trying to maintain his balance. He was like a wounded cornered rabid dog. Mustering all his remaining strength, he stood up and looked at the bandit’s boss and imprinted his face to the depths of his soul.

    The boss was a thin middle-aged man with thin eye-brows and a sharp pair of eyes. He was wearing a black tight-fitting clothing while holding a bloody saber in his hand.

    “You think you can rampage here? Hmph! Go meet your fellow villagers in the yellow springs,”

    He spoke with disdain and stabbed Batista’s stomach making him cough out large mouthfuls of blood. Blood loss started to kick in and he started to lose consciousness but maintained his hateful gaze towards the bandit boss.

    “This is Blackflag!”

    The leader shouted and kicked Batista making him fall down the cliff. Batista could not maintain his consciousness any longer and smiled while looking the the the sky while he was falling, then closed his eyes.

    “I’m coming everyone, wait for me.”

    .....

    An unknown time has passed, Batista slowly opened his eyes, it was blurry at first but then it started to adjust. He was inside a cave, the crackling firewood was the only thing he could hear. Pain wracked his body that made him unable to get up, observing further, his body was full of bandages.

    “I’m still alive?” He was confused as he believed he would die from that fall, turns out he did not.

    Footsteps echoed out and he tried to turn his head to look who was coming. A pair of cold-looking eyes met his gaze, it was a teenager and he knew him.

    “You?”

    Batista was surprised, the boy he saw was at the same age as him but he was the loner of the village. His name was Floyd Weather and he did not play with anyone, instead, he wanted to be by himself all day long making the other kids isolate him. The village would not even notice him if he went missing, the only one who interacted with him were his parents who sadly passed away a few years ago. The death of his parents made him isolate his self even more and only went back to the village every few days.

    The men in the village wanted to hunt in the woods to prove their manhood but Floyd was different. He loved to go fishing in the nearby river and swim all day long gaining the ability to stay underwater for long period of time. Due to that, he found an underwater cave where he found his own lucky chance.

    “Good your up, I don’t want a corpse in my cave,”

    Floyd spoke in a cold tone, then put a bowl of soup beside Batista.

    “How are you alive?” Batista curiosly asked.

    “I was not in the village when it was attacked, when I went back everyone was already buried, was it you?”

    Floyd answered without a hint of emotion as if he did not care whether the village survived or not. Batista just nodded in response and despite the pain, he tried to get up making the deep wounds bleed but he did not care then slurped the soup making him cough in pain. Floyd just looked at him without saying anything.

    Days passed and Batista’s external wounds healed, he could do basic functions but could not do extreme activities. He went out of the cave that was hidden by the veil of water from the waterfall. Floyd was meditating, releasing a cold aura when Batista went out, he was not surprised by this, he already discovered a few days ago that Floyd could cultivate but did not ask about it. Everyone has their own secret.

    “What do you plan to do now? Charge back to the Blackflag?” Floyd asked casually.

    “Why? Would you help me?” Batista answered back with a question.

    “Nope, I would not sacrifice myself for dead people, besides, their leader is strong, I bet we would not even beat him if we work together.”

    “Hmph!”

    Batista just snorted back, he was pissed by Floyd’s attitude but he could only accept it, besides he was the one who saved him.

    Days and weeks passed, Batista regained his strength and all his wounds healed but his body was riddled with scars. He even made breakthroughs in his cultivation making him one step closer to the Halo stage. After deciding, he planned to go adventuring and gain strength to exact his revenge. All he could do now was bury all his resentment inside and make it explode when the right time comes.

    “I’ll go adventuring, wanna come?”

    Batista invited Floyd, traveling alone would be lonely. Floyd contemplated for a moment and accepted the invitation. He was not a sociable person but staying in the same place for a long time had also taken a toll on him.

    The two of them did not know where to go and randomly traveled to places where they encountered many things, killing beasts and even vile people. They even attacked bandit hideouts, because of this, an unspoken friendship formed between the two of them. They could not admit it openly due to awkwardness but they treated each other as friends.

    A little over a year has passed when they arrived at Sin City, they decided to make this their base. They would go adventuring in the wild but come back to the city after. Another year has passed, they were planning to attack one of the nearby bandits but when they got there, a small group of soldiers were already attacking it, it was led by Wilfred Chan and Wilky Lindor.

    This event sparked Batista’s interest and wanted to join the army but Floyd did not like the idea. He was still socially awkward after all, introducing himself, Batista expressed his interest to join the army. Wilfred and Wilky welcomed him with open arms and they instantly became friends. Batista convinced Floyd to at least work with him and after a long time of convincing, he agreed. Floyd acted as a scout, locating enemies and gathering intel, this work suited a man like him.

    Years passed and they advanced in their cultivation, Batista started to climb ranks while Floyd was working in the shadows. With enough preparation, they planned to finally attack and annihilate the Blackflag, the long-awaited revenge has finally come.

    This was a personal grudge so only the four of them attacked the hideout, Batista, Floyd, Wilky and Wilfred. They commenced the attack during the night and caught their enemies unprepared.

    Boom! Boom! Ahhhh!

    The sound of attacks and screams of despair echoed throughout the place. Fire lit up the dark night while the smell of burning wood, corpses and blood permeated the air. Only four people attacked but each individual held the qualification to become an officer in the army. Nobody could escape the onslaught, the bandit boss was kneeling while bathed in blood, he was coughing blood nonstop.

    “So it was you after all, the irony.”

    He looked at Batista with a bitter smile, the same thing happened years ago but this time, he was the one kneeling. Batista did not responed and raised his axe hacking the boss in two. The mountain pressing on his shoulders slowly disappeared, tears slowly began to trickle down his face. He walked at the edge of the cliff and raised his head looking at the starry sky.

    “Ahhhhhhhh!”

    He shouted at the top of his lungs, it was a form of release, a freedom from a great burden from the past. He cried nonstop for some time while the three just stood there and watched his back.

    “Everyone, I have already avenged you, you can now all rest in peace.” He mumbled to himself while smiling with satisfaction.

    “Let’s go,”

    He was in good spirits and did not want stay in this place any longer, they did not even think about looting the place.

    “Wait, there is a slave, what do we do?”

    Floyd interrupted and went inside the prison area and came back with a young lady. She was in her early twenties, she had blue long hair paired with sky-blue eyes that was reflected by the fire making it more attractive. A dirty blue clothing wrapped around her, she may not be the most beautiful girl in the kingdom but she had a unique aura around her, the aura of gentleness and gracefulness.

    Her name was Bluegrass, just like Batista and Floyd, she was from one of the many villages that lived in the area. Her village was attacked that day and she was held captive and was supposed to be offered to the boss. To their surprise, she actually cultivated but she was only at the beginning stages.

    They had no choice but to take her with them, she had no home to go back to and was arranged to stay in Sin city with Batista and Floyd. Unknown to the three, Floyd felt something unfamiliar when he first saw the girl but could not pinpoint what it was. All he knew was he liked looking at the girl and wanted to befriend her.

    Because of that, he tried his best to improve his social skills to get closer to her. Alas, she showed no signs of interest and only treated him as a friend, the biggest hindrance was she did not like how Floyd do things. She did not like how he did things in the shadows, she wanted a man who did things openly, just like Batista.

    With Batista’s intuition and observation, he could see that Floyd liked Bluegrass but he could not also deny the fact that he was interested with her.

    All is fair in love and war.

    Alas, time slowly erroded Batista’s reservations and declared his love for Bluegrass. It was a tough decision for him, besides even if he did not proclaim his love, it was unlikely that Bluegrass would fall for Floyd.

    Floyd did not say anything but slowly distanced himslef away from everyone. Batista could only sigh about this and when he married Bluegrass, Floyd expressed his congratulations and disappeared from the kingdom. They only heard vague news on his whereabouts and what he was doing.

    Seconds turned into years, Batista and Bluegrass had their firstborn son, Dave. Just like his father, he joined the military at a young age and had his own accomplishments. His birth was not easy and Bluegrass nearly died in childbirth, the doctors warned them not to have a second child but Bluegrass was persistent and wanted a baby girl.

    After years of pleading, Batista gave in to his wife’s wish and she became pregnant. He hired the best doctor he could afford that monitored Bluegrass’ pregnancy.

    Everything was smoothsailing, but when the labor pains came, she became unstable and had to choose between her or the baby. She was stubborn and insisted on delivering the baby, using all her energy, she transferred it to her unborn child to secure a safe passage.

    Heavens heard her prayers and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl that was like a mirror image of her. Batista named her Blue, she grew into a beautiful child that brought happiness to Batista, she was everything to him.

    A year after the death of Bluegrass, Floyd contacted him out of nowhere and wanted to meet him at the border. Batista was a bit skeptical so he brought a handful of his elite subordinates. Floyd did not specify the reason but Batista was also curious and set out to meet him.

    They met in the middle of a vast prairie blanketed with green grass and flowers of different colors but the weather was a bit gloomy and storm clouds started to gather covering the sun and the blue sky.

    Floyd was already waiting for them, Batista and his men marched and met him in the middle.

    “Batista, my old friend, why the back-up?” Floyd greeted him with great enthusiasm and slowly walked towards Batista with open arms.

    Batista was surprised and actually lowered his guard when he saw Floyd’s attitude, he did not even detect anyone other than them. He grinned and opened his arms wide and they hugged like two brothers who missed each other.

    “How...”

    Psssskk!

    He was about to ask something when a cold blade pierced his stomach reaching his dantian making it crack. Batista’s eyes were wide open due to extreme shock.

    “Wh-why?” He asked with a trembliing voice then he erupted with fury but Floyd let go and flipped backward creating a distance between them.

    “Hmph! WHY? You brainless brawn, it was my biggest mistake to leave her in your care,” Floyd retorted back in anger and his face was full of fury.

    To intensify the drama, rain started to pour down soaking everyone. Batista’s subordinates dashed and surrounded him to protect him. A formation lit up nearby and dozens of cultivators appeared, turns out, they were using a concealing formation.

    “Begin,”

    Floyd spoke in a cold tone and watched as his subordinates attack. Batista was half-kneeling trying to stop the leakage of his energy, he could feel his cultivation slowly decreasing in level. The battle started but they were outnumbered, his subordinates started to fall. Disregarding everything, he used his body as a shield and ordered his men to retreat worsening his wounds.

    Floyd watched as the wounded Batista retreated and did not pursue, deep inside he could not deliver the final blow. After all, he was once his friend and they have been through tough times together.

    “This is the last time, consider this as a respect for Bluegrass.”

    He mumbled to himself and looked up while the rain continued to drench him. From then on, he joined the Kalbo kingdom and even had clashes with Wilfred and Wilky.
     
  13. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 32
    Chapter 32 The Love of a Father

    Batista was fuming with rage but could do nothing but watch in anger. He did not expect Floyd to stoop this low and even hold his son as a hostage.

    “Now, gentlemen, you better give what I need or else,” Floyd warned and put more pressure on his sword making more blood flow.

    “Fucking bastard! Let him go and take me instead, you can do whatever you want, it is me that you have a beef with!” Batista was starting to get desperate.

    “Well, that’s true but what use are you to me? Just get me what I want and everybody will be happy,” Floyd answered without caring about Batista’s anger.

    “I told you, we don’t have it,” Wilfred answered coldly, he was also furious but was still cool-headed.

    “That’s not my problem is it?”

    Floyd was in a dilemma himself but he had back up plans, the last gamble he had was hanging on Wilky. Judging by Wilky’s personality, there is a ninety percent chance that he will get some of the body parts.

    The first plan he made was to kidnap Blue but despite the hate he harbors inside, he could not bring himself to harm the child especially that she resembles Bluegrass a lot. Dave, on the other hand, resembled Batista so he was okay with it, although it took him more effort to abduct him.

    Shudder!

    Suddenly, a pressure pressed on everyone out of nowhere, they felt like they were at the bottom of the ocean gasping for breath. This was especially for Floyd and Jack, they started to suffocate and their faces started to turn blue. If you view it from above, a semi-translucent globe of water covered an area of one kilometer.

    “Well, what do we have here, a bunch of kids quarreling about a woman’s feeling?”

    A teasing tone was heard from above while two men were descending. One was clad in armor while the other one was wearing a blue robe. Wilky and Colonel Sanders finally arrived, they landed in front of Batista’s group.

    Wilfred, Batista, and Randolph saluted with respect.

    “Well, we shouldn’t interfere in kid’s affairs right?”

    A resounding voice echoed out and another pressure descended, this time it brought an unbearable heat pushing out Colonel Sanders’ domain and letting Floyd and Jack catch their breath. Both domains were clashing at the middle producing small energy ripples.

    A thick-bearded lean middle-aged man descended, he was in full armor with a ‘Kalbo’ character imprinted on it and a thick sword was strapped to his back. He had a spiky red hair and his eyes were glowing red like magma, his name was Colonel James Reed.

    “Hmph! You’re the only old man here,” Colonel Sanders was not moved and even spoke in a ridiculing tone.

    Vein’s popped out on Colonel James’ forehead, it was true he was older than Sanders’ but it was only one year.

    “Hmph! Just move your ass and stop meddling in other’s affairs,” Colonel James retorded back.

    “Other’s affairs? You are talking as if you are not involved in this, whatever, I came to represent the general, lo and behold.”

    Colonel Sanders spoke in a dignified manner and brought out a scroll, the decree that general Jakolito Lapid has given him.

    Huumm!

    Strong energy fluctuations rippled when the scroll was opened that easily dispersed both the colonel’s domain and was replaced by a greater pressure that even brought fear to the both of them. With the current situation, everyone around stopped their fight and regrouped to opposite sides and waited for orders. They knew that with the appearance of this big shots, continuing the fight was meaningless.

    A towering gigantic translucent great sword appeared and pointed towards the heavens, it was roughly three hundred meters tall. If this sword will strike, they estimated that an area of ten kilometers would be annihilated, leaving no one alive.

    Colonel James’ pupil shrunk and cold sweats started to come out of his back.

    “I, General Jakolito Lapid hereby declare that the core you are looking for was not obtained by me or any of my subordinates. Pursuing the person who holds the core is none of our business but know this, giving troubles to my subordinates about this matter shall receive my wrath!”

    A dignified and majestic voice reverberated throughout the battlefield and beyond. Everyone could not resist it and was forced to listen and even their souls trembled from the direct threat that was issued by the general. Everyone did not doubt what the general has said, especially that he was known as a person who did things directly and disdained dishonest people.

    The entire place became silent and only the howls of the wind could be heard. Everyone stood there in silence until the towering great sword slowly faded away together with the scroll, despite that, the decree has been issued and nobody wanted to receive the general’s wrath.

    Little by little, the people on the offense retreated until they were at a certain distance then stopped and looked Floyd’s direction. Floyd was stunned, he did not expect the general to issue a decree, it was out of his expectation. After all, a general-level character does not usually interfere with matters like this, especially the likes of general Jakolito.

    Shit! Damn it all!

    He was cursing inside but he already rode the tiger and did not want all his efforts to go to waste. Gritting his teeth, he made a bold move and broke the silence.

    “Now that everyone is here, I assume you have the means to meet my demands right?”

    “Are you crazy? A decree has been issued and you are still insisting on your demands? Hmph! Are you sure you can bear the brunt of the general’s wrath?”

    Wilky answered spoke in disdain while everyone else was stunned by Floyd’s bold move.

    Interesting,

    Colonel James did not utter a single word and just watched from the side, he was not the one opposing the general after all.

    “Fine, I’ll count on three,”

    Floyd bit the bullet and gambled everything, this was his one and only chance, waiting for more time would not be good for him so he had to put more pressure.

    “Three, two...” He immediately started the countdown and put more pressure on his sword.

    “Wait!” Wilky shouted with a grimaced face.

    “Let’s just see how long you can survive after this, now release him.”

    He waved his hand and a sealed jar floated then made it’s way to Floyd. Colonel James’ eyes flashed for a second but contained his excitement. Floyd received the item without saying anything and put in on his spatial ring after inspecting.

    “Let me worry about that,”

    Floyd withdrew his sword and unsealed Dave’s binding. Dave immediately dashed towards his father’s side without anyone stopping him.

    “Are you okay?” Batista asked in a worried tone then brought out a medicinal paste and applied it to his son’s wound.

    “I’m okay father, thank you,” Dave answered in a respectful manner.

    “Don’t thank me, thank your uncle Wilky,”

    Dave did not dally and bowed to Wilky and expressed his thanks with sincerity.

    “No worries, it’s just a beast blood, your father is my brother so you can be considered as my son.”

    Wilky waved his hand and grinned, though the blood was valuable, he could never sacrifice his brother’s son for it. Besides, he gained a lot from his journey, aside from the general’s good grace, a promotion was waiting for him together with Wilfred.

    “Now that matters had been settled, I believe we are done here, no?”

    Colonel James spoke and looked at Floyd with a smile.

    “Yes, colonel, men! retreat!” Floyd shouted and started the retreat, his goal was met and he would think of the consequences later on.

    “Wait! You think you can just walk away like that?”

    Batista would not let things just slip by and wanted to settle things and even prepared for battle. Colonel James furrowed his brow and looked back,

    “Enough, you can settle your grudges one day, but that day is not today,”

    Colonel Sanders raised his hand and stopped Batista, he could understand what his subordinate was feeling but they had to think about the consequences. And besides, Dave was rescued and the enemy is retreating, spilling more blood would be useless. Aside from that, if both colonels will really fight seriously, it might have consequences on both kingdoms especially that this is not an official war.

    Batista knew this but he could not just let Floyd go after what he has done, his body was trembling non-stop while he was trying to suppress his rage.

    “Another time brother, let’s just focus on the city’s recovery first. You will have your turn one day,”

    Wilfred placed his hand on Batista’s shoulder and calmed him down. Batista heaved a long sigh and just looked at the retreating enemies with cold eyes.

    Just you wait, Floyd.

    .....

    Floyd and the group retreated and packed up their camp then marched towards the border. Both him and Colonel James were riding in front, he already gave the jar a while ago.

    “Good job Floyd, you have my utmost respect for actually having the guts to do that. Don’t worry I’ll have your back and I doubt that the general will pursue this matter to the end. After all, nobody got seriously injured or killed after his declaration. If ever he decides to do something, our commander will not sit idly either. As for your promotion, you have my support.”

    Colonel James was in a good mood and reassured Floyd.

    “Thank you, Colonel.” Floyd gestured and expressed his thanks, all of this was only the first step of his plans, he would do everything to climb at the top.

    You were mistaken, Bluegrass. Hmph! Choosing that muscle-head over me because of how I do things? See what keeps happening to him because he doesn’t use his brain.

    After all these years, he still could not get over what happened and wanted to show that there was nothing wrong with how he does things, the strong are right and the weak could only bow in submission, it doesn’t matter how you do it as long you achieve it.

    News of the general’s decree immediately spread throughout the kingdom and the nearby places. A general’s decree was rarely issued, after the information was spread, everyone was delighted, they were sure that the valuable core was not with the general and was being held by an unknown person. Investigations were immediately launched for tracking the one who holds the core.

    .....

    The damage to the city was not light and it would take months repair it, aside from that, Batista’s group had to bury the dead people and settle their compensations along with the survivors. There was also the repair of the formation and the cannons.

    Without resting, they made temporary arrangements and would officially start the repairs tomorrow. Batista invited the colonel and the other’s to his house and prepared a simple banquet.

    “I offer this toast to the colonel for helping us and even personally coming to get us out of this predicament,” Batista raised his cup and everyone followed.

    “Cheers!” Despite what happened, with the influence of alcohol, everyone started to feel a little better.

    “Bang!”

    While everyone was enjoying the party, the door to of the main hall suddenly opened with a bang.

    “Who dares?” Batista was infuriated and stood up.

    “An urgent report to the captain!”

    The one who barged in was a young man in his mid-twenties and was one of his subordinates who accompanied his daughter on her travel to Red Sparrow city. Batista’s pupils shrunk and had a bad feeling, without delay, he rushed to his subordinate’s side.

    “What happened?”

    “I-I- we-we,” The young man stuttered after seeing the captain’s expression.

    “Stop stuttering and just say it,” Batista was irritated and scolded him.

    “Please punish this subordinate, I was incompetent!”

    The young man suddenly fell to his knees and kowtowed while banging his head on the floor. Batista’s anxiety raised to another level after seeing how his subordinate acted. He picked up the young man and helped him back up.

    “Just tell me what happened,”

    The young man started to calm down after looking at the Batista’s serious face.

    “Captain, we were ambushed at the hummingbird forest by bandits,”

    “What!? Where is Blue?” Batista panicked and wanted to know how was his daughter.

    “I-i don’t know captain,” The young man was flustered while answering.

    “What do you mean you don’t know!?”

    “Captain, we were ambushed midway through the hummingbird forest. I believe they were from Brown Bear and Red Skull bandits. We managed to escape but when we arrived at Red Sparrow City and inquire about Blue from the city lord, he said he had no idea. But I was sure she was with them.”

    “Why would that fatty city lord have my daughter? What about Rogelio?” Batista’s fury was once again being ignited.

    “He-he-he died during the attack that is why we had no choice but to temporarily put young lady’s safety to the city lord’s group.”

    “What? How did he die?” Batista was shocked, his subordinate was at the middle-stage of Halo realm and would not die easily even if faced with two enemies with the same level of cultivation.

    “I-i don’t know captain, it was chaotic and we could not clearly see how they fought.”

    The young man was becoming fearful, afraid that he would die out of the captain’s anger.

    “Damn!”

    Batista was furious and threw the young man, slamming into the wall. He immediately thought of a plan to find his daughter and time was of the essence, she was everything to him. It could be said that he would still bear the pain of losing his son but not his beloved daughter.

    “Sir! I beg you, could you stay for a longer time and look after the city and my son for the time being while I and my brothers look for my daughter?”

    Batista was in another desperate situation and half-kneeled towards the colonel.

    “Hmm, okay, the most time I could stay here is a month, after that, I should go back or the general will get mad.”

    Colonel Sanders was still calm and agreed without reservation. He had gained a lot from this situation and treated this as a form of repayment.

    “Thank you, Colonel, I will never forget this,” Batista bowed and expressed his thanks with utmost sincerity. At least he was at ease for the safety of his son.

    “A small matter, Wilfred and Wilky will accompany you,” He urged Batista to stand up and looked at Wilky and Wilfred.

    “Naturally,” Both answered at the same time.

    “Thank you brothers, if you don’t mind, can we set off now? I’m deeply afraid for my daughter’s safety.”

    “No worries, let’s go and see who dares to touch little Blue,”

    The trio immediately left and headed to Hummingbird Forest after asking the young man earlier where the ambush happened.

    .....

    Martin was watching the whole time while the city was being bombarded by attacks, he saw how the formation slowly crumbled while dust and smoke rose from the rubbles. He was even shocked to the core when he saw the ‘meteor rain’ that descended upon the city. All he could do was hope that the city he considered as home would not fall.

    After the battle was settled, together with the others, they went back to the city and was shocked to see that the city’s state. Debris was everywhere, some corpses were even buried beneath it. He planned to go back to the Fragrant Pavilion but was invited by the city guard who accompanied him to go to the Northern district because Captain Batista had arranged a residence for him there.

    He wanted to refuse but they insisted. Martin even joined the banquet that was interrupted and when he heard that the Captain’s daughter was missing due to bandit attack, he became anxious and thought about Eznho.

    After the incident, he immediately investigated on his own and found out that Eznho and Minchin joined a merchant group but he had no way to confirm their status. He wanted to go personally to Red Sparrow City but was advised not too by Randolph, especially because of the recent bandit attacks.

    He was helpless and powerless and he hated it, all he could do now was pray to the heavens. Although, Randolph promised him that he would send a word to the Captain and inquire about Eznho which made him more relaxed.
     
  14. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 33
    Chapter 33 Dreams

    The trio immediately rushed into the night and picked the best mounts and headed towards Hummingbird Forest. They arrived on the scene at sunrise but they only managed to see rotting corpses and debris covered in snow. There were even wild beasts still eating cold human flesh.

    “What now, brother?” Wilfred asked.

    Batista brought out a map and pointed at a location that was in the inner area of the forest.

    “This is where the hideout of the Brown Bear is located, as for the Red Skulls, we can just ask them about it. Both leaders are at the middle stage of the Halo Realm, we should pay them a visit before going to Red Sparrow city and ask the fatty.”

    Batista’s eyes gleamed, his hatred for bandits could not easily be washed away. Although they know bandits were hiding in the Hummingbird Forest, they could not thoroughly eradicate them. Even if they annihilated one group, another will emerge and the process will repeat, they had no choice but to leave them be and would only hunt them if a major incident happened.

    “Let’s go,”

    The trio left their mounts and dashed into the forest towards the bandit’s hideout.

    .....

    “Come brothers from the Red Skull, let’s drink to our heart's content, cheers!”

    “I’ll toast to that brother, hahaha”

    Laughter and drunken jokes were heard everywhere around the hideout. Almost everyone was drowning in alcohol, it was livelier than usual as the Red Skull bandits were still in the vicinity celebrating their big loot from a joint operation.

    The hideout was located on a rocky mountain, it was a great fortress, caves were carved out while houses were built at the top. From the top, you can see the greenery of the Hummingbird Forest and was a great lookout.

    At the summit, a man was hanging by a cross, he looked dehydrated and his breath was shallow. His face was bruised and dried blood covered his clothing, he was Kelly, the one who attacked Eznho’s caravan. Due to his failure, he was punished severely, losing Agila was a blow to the group, scouts like him who possessed a special ability were rare, out of the leader’s fury, he was punished severely even though he held a high position.

    Woosh! Woosh! Woosh!

    Block dots suddenly covered the sky.

    “What’s that?”

    A scout narrowed his eyes then after a second it became wide as a saucer.

    “Ene...”

    Before he could shout and sound the alarm, an arrow pierced his head.

    “Ahhh!”

    Screams sounded out when the rain of arrows arrived, nobody expected an attack while everyone was celebrating their victory.

    “Enemies!”

    Someone shouted but most of them were influenced by alcohol, making their reaction time slower than usual.

    Earth Spike!

    Rain of Swords!

    Sword energies fell down together with the arrows while the earth trembled and spikes came out from underground skewering the bandits.

    “Ahhhh!”

    More screams echoed after the series of attacks, it came too sudden and nobody could react in time.

    “Who dares!”

    A muscular tall man wearing a headdress made out of brown bear holding an axe shouted followed by a man with long grey hair, his mouth was covered by a handkerchief imprinted with a red colored skull, he was holding two daggers on both hands.

    They were the leaders of the Brown Bear and Red Skull bandits.

    “Hmph! I do!”

    A stern voice answered and Batista and Wilky dashed to the top in front of the two making their pupils shrink.

    “What?” Both leaders were surprised and started to sweat.

    Why is he here?

    Of course, they knew who Batista was and even though they don’t recognize Wilky, judging by his armor, he was an officer of the military.

    “Dare I ask why would the City Guard Captain personally visit our humble abode?”

    The Brown Bear leader asked after gathering his all his courage.

    “Hmph! You still pretend to be innocent? Where is my daughter? If even a hair is missing, I will hack you to pieces!”

    Batista’s eyes were filled with murderous intent while looking at the duo.

    What?

    Both leaders got confused and tried to fit in the puzzle pieces.

    “I don’t understand what you mean, even if I had a hundred guts, I would never lay my hands on your daughter.”

    The Brown Bear leader answered with great anxiety.

    “Really? Then why would you dare to attack the caravan that has my daughter? And you even dared to kill my trusted subordinate?”

    Batista narrowed his eyes and started to gather energy.

    “What? We would not dare! The caravan we attacked was merely composed of the city lords group, I swear...”

    Shit! We have been played!

    With his years of experience, he realized that their information was wrong.

    “We really did not know, I swear on my mother’s grave,”

    He was starting to panic together with the Red Skull leader.

    “Enough!”

    Batista shouted in anger and leaped to attack.

    “Fuck it all!”

    Both leaders knew there was no way out of this no matter what they say, all they could do was fight for their life but it was useless. The Brown Bear leader was hacked in two while the Red Skull leader’s body was riddled with holes.

    “Hmph! Regardless if you knew or not, killing you is an act of kindness for the people you killed.”

    Batista spoke in disdain while wiping his weapon.

    “It seems this was planned from the beginning and these bandits were just chess pieces.”

    Wilky spoke in a somber manner while Wilfred rejoined the group.

    “Hmph! That fatty dares to move against me, let’s just see where he can hide.”

    Batista was seething with anger and wanted to immediately head to Red Sparrow City and confront the city lord.

    “Brother, you know we cannot act rashly inside the city, we have rules, even for the colonel, he cannot just do whatever he wants inside. Especially that the fatty’s family has still some influence.”

    Wilfred who was the cool-headed one reminded Batista.

    “I know, but I cannot let anything happen to her even if I have to break every rule.”

    Batista scowled in answer, he knew how the division of power worked but he did not care when it comes to his daughter.

    “Let’s just head their first and inquire, after that, we plan for our next move.”

    Wilfred advised, that was the most rational thing to do for now. Batista was suppressing his fury inside and finally agreed. The trio did not bother to stay any longer and immediately left for Red Sparrow City.

    From that moment on, the Brown Bear and Red Skull Bandits were no more, only a few members survived. Of course, after some time they would naturally be replaced by another group.

    .....

    After preparing everything, Eznho had a chat with his aunt and finally revealed about his plan to pursue the road of cultivation. Of course, Minchin was reluctant and did not want Eznho to be put in danger, despite her being a mortal, she had an idea how harsh the life of cultivator was.

    After a time of thinking, she finally agreed but of course reminded Eznho of many things, she knows everybody has their own path to take.

    Without hiding anything anymore, Eznho was at ease and concentrated on his cultivation, he planned to finish purifying his blood and marrow within a month. With that in mind, he prepared himself and hastened the speed of absorbing the beast blood.

    .....

    Batista and the group reached the ever busy Red Sparrow City after two days. They immediately used their connections and found out where the city lord was currently residing. He was in the middle district, and this made things complicated.

    Rules were much more strict in the middle district. They cannot just barge in at the fatty city lord’s residence and cause a disturbance. According to the agreement, regardless of position and backing, if they broke the rules of the city, it is the Red Sparrow city lord’s decision that would be upheld. But of course there will always be an exception to the rule, sadly, Batista and the group would not have that privilege so they have to tread carefully.

    Left with no choice, the group opted to visit the fatty city lord’s residence. The courtyard was wide, at least five hundred meters squared. It was divided into an outer and inner courtyard.

    The city lord was not welcoming and just met them in the outer courtyard and did not even offer anything to his guests. His name was Butchog River, the youngest son of a declining noble family.

    “What do you want?” He asked coldly while looking at the trio.

    “Where is my daughter?” Batista did not bother either with pleasantries.

    “Why would I have her? Shouldn’t you be watching your own child? Why don’t you ask your subordinates?” Butchog retorted in a mocking manner.

    Faced with Butchog’s mockery, Batista started to emit a strong killing intent. Butchog of course could feel it and started to sweat but maintained his stance.

    “Hmph! You musclehead, we are not in Sin city anymore. You think you can throw your weight around here? Why don’t you try?”

    “Brother, we will not gain anything here, let’s go.”

    Wilfred held Batista’s shoulder and calmed him down but deep inside he was seething with anger as well, he was just good at hiding it.

    “Good thinking, you can see yourselves out,” Butchog spoke with disdain in his eyes.

    Just you wait, I would like to see how you react when you see your daughter.

    Butchog was snickering inside while looking at the departing trio.

    .....

    “How was it, brother? Did you find anything?” Batista was agitated and started to lose his focus.

    “I’m sorry brother, I spread my soul sense around the courtyard but I found nothing except there was an underground area in the inner courtyard where I can’t penetrate. It must have been made by a formation expert, I reckon only the colonel’s level of power can penetrate it.”

    Wilfred answered honestly while Batista was getting more anxious.

    “See that brother? We can request an investigation and I am sure my daughter is there!”

    Sigh.

    “Brother, focus, you know we can’t do that. Everyone has there own secret and if we start an investigation due to that, we will be faced with a lot of opposition.”

    Wilky was saddened when he looked how his brother acted.

    “But you know how filthy that fatty is!” Batista could hold it anymore and wanted to rush back. Butchog has a nasty reputation for being a pedophile.

    “I know but Wilky is right, and one more thing, I think Butchog will not be going back to Sin City anymore. Our informant said that his big brother, Killboy, made a breakthrough and became a Seeker Stage expert. Due to that, he pleaded for his younger brother to be allowed to live here in Red Sparrow City until his banishment time was fully consumed. Basing on the situation, there is a high chance that they will approve it. But for the time being, I believe he will not do anything rash until the decision is made.”

    “Damn!” Batista was further enraged and smashed the table to pieces.

    “With our status, we cannot do anything, there is only one choice left for us,” Wilky spoke in a serious manner.

    “You mean...?” Batista was surprised and knew what his brother meant.

    “Yes brother, the Thieves Guild, there is even a rumor circling around that one of the members of the Black Crows is in the city.”

    Wilky answered with a slight fear in his eyes. The Black Crows, one of the high ranking assassin group, their name was even spread out throughout the whole continent.

    “But, even if the said member is here, do you think he will take the mission?” Batista was little skeptical about the chances.

    “Haha, don’t worry brother, I have my own ways, I had another life before I joined the army you know,” Wilky grinned and puffed his chest out.

    “I trust you brother, thank you!” Batista was moved and bowed deeply but was met with a smack on his head.

    “Are you stupid? Are we not brothers? Hmph!” Wilky crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Batista.

    “Sorry brother, then for tonight, the drinks are on me,”

    Batista’s mood was a bit uplifted and just hoped for the mission’s success before it’s too late. He also knew even if he killed his way to Butchog’s residence, his chance of succeeding was very low.

    .....

    Eznho spent most of his time in closed-door training and only came out to eat meals together with Minchin and little Aiza. Budoy only joined the meals during dinner but did not yet give any intel, his plan was to collect a lot and submit it one-time big time.

    Just like that, fifteen days have passed, the group just finished dinner when Budoy asked Eznho to speak in private. It was time for him to submit his report.

    “Here are the things I have managed to collect for the past fifteen days, it is not much but I hope it could help you. Is there anything else you want me to do?”

    Budoy handed out some sort of a scrapbook that he made himself.

    “No, that’s all for now, you can do whatever you want for the time being. Thank you,” Enzho smiled and expressed his gratitude.

    “No need to thank me, just doing my job,” Budoy answered nonchalantly and went to his room.

    “Let’s see what we got here,” Eznho did not care and immediately scanned through the scrapbook.

    Red Sparrow City was established thousands of years ago and even survived the reshuffling of powers that happened a thousand years ago after a big incident that changed the world.

    Big incident?

    Eznho was curious but did not dwell on it.

    The city was divided into three districts, the outer, the middle and the inner. The outer part was where most of the common folk lived, crime was prevalent and the law was not that strict. As for the middle district, it is where most merchants, rich people and some of the lower nobilities resided.

    It was not easy to get inside, the outer and middle district was divided by a river and the only way inside was to cross a bridge that was heavily guarded. As for the inner district, the only thing Budoy knows is that it is where the truly influential people resided. Floating palaces can even be found there according to rumors.

    Wow! Floating palaces! How cool would it be to witness such a scenery?

    Eznho was dumbstruck when he read that part.

    Most of the information was regarding the outer district, as for the middle and inner there was only vague information. Budoy was also able to acquire information on the division of power throughout the outer district.

    Most of the power was divided among different gangs but fights between them were common due to conflicting interests. The city lord does not seem to bother about it and just leave them be as long as they know where to draw the line.

    As for acquiring residence, Budoy managed to get the information. Acquiring residence was easy as long as you have money. You can enter the middle district as long as you show proof of wealth like a bank card, of course, they have to check if it really is yours and if your card has money in it.

    After that, go to the Land Distribution Office and look for a residence that is for sale. The residence would be yours after finishing the necessary procedures.

    As for the Batawa Restaurant, it was located in the western part of the outer district. The other information was miscellaneous but with this, Eznho had a rough idea about the city. Eznho’s eyes shined while looking through the window and gazed at the starry sky.

    So that’s how it is, the world is really big and this place is just a part of it. What would it be like to fly and travel the world?
     
  15. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 34
    Chapter 34 One of Those Guys

    After reading all the information given by Budoy, Eznho massaged his temples and tried to process all the information while formulating a plan.

    There is still time, so I’ll finish absorbing the blood first and head out to the restaurant.

    He hastened his speed these past days and nearly finished his blood and marrow cleansing while practicing the Heaven-Seizing Breathing Technique. Due to this, his energy reserves inside his dantian have increased and his control over it has also improved. The only thing that he needed now was actual combat to hone his skills.

    .....

    Batista received Randolph’s message but due to the stress brought about by his missing daughter, he could not fully concentrate on it so he was not able to find any information regarding Eznho. Besides, thousands of people come in and out of the city everyday so it was really hard to track down a person unless he was someone who would stand out from the rest.

    Wilky, on the other hand, did his best and was able to communicate with the member of the rumored Black Crows member and was able to make a deal.

    “How was it, brother?” Batista could not help but ask Wilky as soon as he arrived.

    “All good brother, he agreed and said he would finish the job within a month,” Wilky answered with a proud face.

    “A month? Isn’t that too long?” Batista frowned upon hearing the answer.

    “Well, he did not exactly say when he will finish the job, who knows, maybe he’ll get it done tomorrow. Let’s just wait, brother, the Black Crows have their own pride and their success rate is rather high. Besides, this job would only be a walk in the park for him.”

    Wilky answered while trying to console his brother.

    “He’s right brother, let’s just patiently wait for now and formulate backup plans.”

    Wilfred butted in and tried to alleviate Batista’s worries.

    .....

    Days passed like the falling of snow, Eznho was seated in a meditative posture and his body was soaked in sweat. No more impurities were coming out of his skin, this means he already passed the stage with a solid foundation and could move on to the next anytime.

    At last, after a lot of suffering, I finally managed to succeed.

    Eznho was elated and stretched his body showing fine lines of glistening chiseled muscles.

    Whoosh!

    He casually punched forward that made the air chaotic making the curtains in his rooms flutter. Witnessing this scene, Eznho was shocked and joy appeared on his exhausted face. One could only imagine the result if he punched someone with full force.

    Time to head to the restaurant tomorrow.

    .....

    Eznho departed before sunrise and did not bother to wake up the others. He was covered in a fur coat while he headed to the western part of the outer district. Being holed up for weeks inside his room, he also wanted to explore the city. As usual, the outer district became lively as soon as the sun peeped from the east.

    Eznho’s eyes were filled with shock most of the time. He saw many things that blew his mind, aside from humans, he saw many kinds of intimidating beasts. Some were in cages, while some were used as mounts. Buildings were everywhere, he could even see some of the mountains were filled with houses. Those who live at the top were the movers and shakers of the outside district.

    He also saw students wearing their sect or schools uniform. With how wide the city is, it was natural that sects have established their footings here.

    But what shocked him the most was, once in a while a shadow would pass over the place and when you look at the sky, large flying beasts such as birds and flying vessels with different designs were flying and there were even people riding them.

    Wow! What kind of power do you have to wield to tame beasts?

    He wondered inside and tried to calm down his excitement. As he came nearer to his destination, his knowledge and view of the world instantly broadened. The more he saw many kinds of new things, the more he wanted to achieve his dream of traveling the world. Due to this things, he lost track of time and arrived at his destination in the afternoon.

    The restaurant has three floors and was designed plain and simple with no extravagant decorations. The only thing that was eye-catching was the signboard ‘Batawa Restaurant’ that was written in bright red. He slowly walked towards the place and wondered how he would find the man he is looking for.

    He stood by the entrance and his nose was assaulted by the mixed smell of alcohol and food. The first floor was almost full but he could not find the man he was looking for. He narrowed his eyes and went to the second floor but the man was nowhere to be seen.

    Is it the wrong restaurant? Maybe they have just the same name and the restaurant is located in the middle district or even the inner district?

    He furrowed his brows when he thought about it, the mysterious man was powerful so maybe he had access to the inner districts. He sighed inside and planned to test his luck on the third floor but a guard was standing on the stairway.

    “Halt! Only VIP guests can go upstairs,” The muscular guard spoke in an intimidating manner.

    “Great sir, may I know how to become a VIP?” Eznho was not willing to give up.

    “Hmph! You better go home kid and stop wasting my time or else I’ll throw you out!” The guard barked and glared at Eznho making him furrow his brow.

    I was just asking, no need to be hostile.

    Eznho was grumbling inside but did not show it.

    “Will this do?” Left with no choice, he brought out his bank card and showed it to the guard.

    “This...” The guard was startled and his attitude turned one-eighty degrees.

    “Forgive me, young sir, I was just joking. You can go upstairs anytime you want.” With an inviting smile, he moved aside and gestured his hand indicating Eznho to go up.

    “Thank you,” Eznho spoke with a beaming smile and went upstairs.

    The third floor was just like the lower floors but the only difference was the tables were spread apart making it spacious. A man who was sitting beside the window looking down the busy streets caught his attention. A jug of alcohol and a dish was on his table.

    It’s him!

    Eznho was surprised and walked towards the man.

    “Uhmmm, good afternoon senior,” He did not know what to say and just spat the words with politeness.

    “Sit,” The man spoke and turned his head then faced Eznho with a scrutinizing gaze.

    “Thank you,” Eznho bowed and sat in front of the man.

    The mysterious man had a thick jet black messy hair that was a bit long and a small portion of it was tied on his back, strands of hair fell on the side of his face making him look like a scoundrel. His black eyes were like pearls that shined and showed clarity, a thin tall nose complimented it making him look handsome with a short beard on his chin. He looked like a middle-aged man but his face showed great vigor and vitality.

    “What’s up kid? Wanna drink?” The man grinned and offered his drink.

    “Uhmmm, I...” Eznho was taken aback and did not know what to do.

    “Haha, just kidding, you are still too young to drink kid.” The man teased and gulped a drink then sized up Eznho then nodded in satisfaction.

    “Hmmm, not bad kid. All you need is experience,”

    “What do you mean senior?” Eznho spoke in confusion.

    “Although your cultivation has progressed, a veteran who has a lower cultivation can kill you if you are not careful. If you really want to pursue cultivation, you need to experience a lot of combat and near-death experiences.” The man casually explained and gulped down another one.

    Eznho just sat there in silence and could not rebuke what the man said.

    “Look, kid, I can see you have potential but you are still too naive about how the world works. For example, why did you not kill the man who tried to kill you in the alley? Do you think because you spared him, he will let it go? Another thing, picking up strangers with unknown background will most likely bring you calamity, tsk. The world is full of suffering, you think you can save everyone?”

    The man asked a barrage of questions and stared at Eznho.

    How did he know?

    Eznho was shocked but immediately recovered then answered with determination.

    “I don’t know, but I just couldn’t bring myself to kill a defenseless man. I also know that the world is cruel but can’t I save those who are within my reach?”

    “Hahaha, such wise words, you should become a preacher instead.” The man burst out laughing while slamming the table.

    Eznho’s lips twitched while looking at the man who was tearing up due to laughter.

    “Senior, may I know why you suggested me to come here? And how do I repay the kindness you showed?”

    “Hahaha, kindness? You’re really just a newborn chick. It was not kindness, it was just fate.” The man continued to laugh and found Eznho amusing.

    “As for that ‘kindness’, it was already paid when you gave me the information I asked you. No need to fret over it. As for why I asked you to come here, I found it pitiful if your talents go to waste so I’m giving you a chance to further improve your cultivation. As for that chance, it would be up to you to grab it. So what do you say?”

    Eznho pondered for a moment before answering.

    “Will my family be affected?” This is Eznho’s biggest concern.

    “Of course, but as long as you are careful, it would be alright I guess. Look, kid, the path of cultivation is dangerous and many people close to you will be entangled with it. But, if you obtain enough power, who would dare to touch the people close to you? Might is right kid, sooner or later time will catch up to them and you would have to walk the road alone anyway. If you don’t have the conviction, you better stop now and live a normal life while you still can.”

    “I...”

    Eznho was at a loss and did not know how to reply. He knew there were risks, but after today, his urge to travel the world became more apparent and one requirement to do it was having strength.

    “I have said what I want, if you want to continue cultivating, come back here in three days and I’ll give you a mission to see if you have the guts to reach the apex.”

    The man spoke in a serious manner while looking at Eznho right in the eyes. The conversation continued for a while before the man urged Eznho to leave.

    “May I at least know seniors name?” Eznho asked while standing up.

    “You can call me Talong,” The man answered casually.

    “Thank you, senior Talong. My name is Eznho, I’ll take my leave then.” Eznho bowed and went to the exit.

    “One more thing kid, if you want to know anything about your father, you need a lot of strength to find out about him,”

    Talong spoke while gulping another one and continued to stare at the busy street outside.

    Eznho stopped for a second then continued on his way. Talong watched the departing Eznho on the street with a mysterious look in his eyes then looked toward’s Eznho’s destination. His gaze seemed to penetrate space and landed on a place a few blocks from where Eznho was staying.

    Show me what you got kid, don’t disappoint me.

    .....

    The sun has already set and the moon was hanging in the sky but Eznho was only halfway to the inn they were staying at. He brought out a map and found a shortcut through the alleys. He needed to contemplate on many things so he wanted to go back as soon as possible.

    As expected, walking through the alleys made the journey shorter. He was only a couple of blocks away when a group of five was waiting on the opposite side of the alley covered by the shadow of the night.

    “We’ve been waiting for you kid, ke ke ke.” A sinister voice echoed in the alley and a thin man came out with a malicious look.

    “You?” Eznho was surprised, it was the same man he let go when he first came into the city.

    “Good you remember kid, you think you are so righteous, hmph!”

    The man snorted and his gazed turned into hatred. He could not wash away the shame he felt that day.

    “Judas, is this the kid? Looking at him, he doesn’t look like much,”

    A stern voice came from behind Judas and a well-built bald middle-aged man with a thick beard came out of the shadows with a saber on his waist. His clothes were stained with old blood that did not wash off. The other three men also came out with sabers on their waist and looked at Eznho like a fish on a chopping board.

    “You see boss Winston, I was just attacked sneakily that’s why.” Judas’ voice turned respectful and stood behind the man.

    “Whatever you say,” Winston could not be bothered and looked at Judas with disdain.

    “Hey kid, I heard you have a lot of money with you, why don’t you hand it all over and we’ll call it even.” He looked at Eznho and smiled like they knew each other.

    “I don’t know you, senior, why should give what belongs to me?”

    Eznho furrowed his brows but he was sighing inside with sadness and disappointment.

    Does this mean I really have to kill every enemy I face to avoid future troubles?

    Now he realized how naive he was to let go of the man and now the result was more trouble. Despite that, he wanted to avoid killing as much as possible so he started to step backward to retreat.

    “Hmph! You have no right to refuse kid, don't even think of running, we know where you live. You cannot hide there like a turtle forever you know and I bet your aunt and the little girl would be bored and want to go out sometime in the future. Slavery is a good trade these days.”

    Winston sneered and looked at Eznho like he was just a toy to be played with. Eznho’s pupils shrunk when he heard the hidden threat and stopped his retreat.

    “Is that so?”

    Eznho spoke meekly and bowed his head in submission then brought out the bank card and held it in front of him.

    “Good boy, I’m starting to like you now kid,”

    Winston was feeling haughty after seeing Eznho’s defeat and commanded Judas to get the card. Judas was sneering inside and used his left hand to hold the hilt of the dagger he was hiding.

    You’re fucking dead kid, that’s what you get for crossing me.

    He stood in front of Eznho and used his right hand to get the card while he slowly brought out his dagger.

    “You’re...”

    Ssskkk!

    What?

    Before he could do anything else, a cold dagger pierced his heart without warning.

    “You...” He wanted to speak but was cut off when he saw Eznho slowly raising his head.

    His eyes were cold and full of murderous intent, they were dark like the crow’s feather. Their eyes met but Eznho remained emotionless as the light on Judas’ eyes faded like a dying firefly.
     
  16. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 35
    Chapter 35 Rumble in the Alley

    “Hmmm? Hey! Judas! What’s taking you so long?”

    Winston felt something was amiss when a chill crawled down his spine out of nowhere.

    Thud!

    Judas suddenly kneeled in front of Eznho without answering him.

    Whoosh! Whoosh!

    Two daggers flew from Eznho bringing cold glints that were aimed at Winston’s companions. One was Judas’ dagger and the other was the one Eznho used to stab Judas.

    “Watch out!”

    Winston was the first to react but it was too late, the dagger was too fast and the distance between them was only about ten meters. Two gurgling sounds were heard and two of his companions were holding their throat while a dagger was embedded in it.

    “Bastard!”

    Winston was furious at the turn of events and unsheathed his weapon. Together with the remaining one, they dashed forward and attacked Eznho. Eznho remained emotionless and brought out his two remaining daggers, he circulated his energy then prepared for combat.

    Winston leaped and slashed his saber downwards while Eznho easily dodged by leaping sideways but was met by a horizontal slash from the other guy. Seeing the blade coming for him, he docked but a kick followed suit aiming for his head. He raised both of his hands and was sent tumbling backward and crashed into the wall.

    “Hmph! Just because you cultivate doesn’t mean you can fight.”

    Winston spoke in disdain while he prepared for another round. He saw that Eznho was a cultivator and probably was a bit stronger than him, but in terms of fighting experience, the boy he was fighting was lacking.

    Eznho stood up and shook his painful arms, this was his first frontal combat and his lack of experience was showing up. He tried to calm down and analyzed the situation.

    Giving no chance for Eznho to rest, Winston and his companion continued with the attack. Using his experience, he barraged the boy with attacks giving him no chance to counter-attack. Eznho was panting, his body was bruised while small cuts were all over his body. Despite that, he stood strong and his eyes were as cold as ever while looking at his enemies.

    “Give it up kid, surrender and I’ll leave you with an intact corpse. I also promise not to bother with your companions anymore,”

    Winston offered while trying to find a way to finish the battle. He did not expect the boy to be tenacious and nimble, all he could do was give him light wounds. Seeing that the boy did not intend to surrender, he dashed and continued with the attack.

    Clang! Clang! Clang!

    Sparks flew and the sound of weapons colliding echoed in the alley while snow continued to fall throughout the city.

    Enzho was sent tumbling again on the ground and nearly crashed against the wall after being kicked in the stomach. He wiped the blood from his lips and tried to regulate his breathing. Both parties were starting to feel the exhaustion,

    Damn! What a pain in the ass!

    Winston cursed in his mind while looking at the unwavering boy.

    “Let’s finish this!”

    He was already getting impatient and circulated his remaining energy at full force while his companion did the same thing. They dashed on opposite sides and tried to do a pincer attack. Eznho just stood there, his breath was stabilizing and his senses were heightened to its peak.

    The duo reached him in no time slashing their blades horizontally at the same time. Winston aimed for his neck while the other one at the back of Eznho’s legs. The attack came fast and two blades were coming for Eznho’s life from opposite sides.

    Despite that, Eznho remained standing there and observed every detail with his sharp cold eyes.

    An opening!

    He sensed that Winston’s blade was faster than the other one so he arched his body backward with great flexibility making the blade miss and was only centimeters away from the tip of his nose and cutting Eznho’s floating hair.

    While Eznho was arching his back, both his hands landed on the ground and his legs started to go up to dodge the other blade making him do a handstand and narrowly dodging both attacks.

    What?

    Winston was shocked when he saw the boy’s flexibility and even have the guts to pull such a stunt. He was expecting the boy to leap that would leave himself open mid-air. Because of the attack’s momentum, they could not immediately retrieve their balance.

    Seizing the opportunity, Eznho who was doing a handstand, twisted his body and kicked the duo hard making them stumble backward. He did not stop there and pushed his hands making him land on his feet then circulated his energy on his hands and feet.

    He threw the dagger towards the other man then followed-up immediately by dashing towards him and aiming to stab him.

    Clang!

    Looking at the incoming dagger, the man did not yet regain his balance and could not dodge. All he could do was block it with his weapon. What he did not expect was the force behind the attack was so great that his hand went numb and nearly lost grip on his blade making his front unguarded for a moment.

    Eznho did not give the man any chance to recover and immediately aimed to stab his heart.

    Sssskkk!

    With his front wide open, the dagger went straight to the man’s heart. His eyes were wide open and filled with disbelief, never in his wildest dream that he would die this way and even by a boy’s hand. The man’s life was snuffed out of him as he lifelessly fell down. Eznho pulled out his dagger and looked at Winston who was standing stiff opposite him.

    Haaaa, Haaaa,

    Eznho was running out of breath and energy, he could even barely support himself to stand straight. Winston, on the other hand, could not believe what happened, the events occurred too fast. He just barely regained his balance but his comrade was already dead.

    Damn! What kind of little monster is he? But he is already out of energy, one more push and he is dead.

    Fear was starting to build inside of him but he could also see that Eznho was hanging by a thread. He took a deep breath and dashed towards Eznho then slashed. Eznho barely dodged and leaped backward but he ended up banging against the wall.

    Winston did not give him any chance and followed-up the attack with a stab.

    Shhhkk!

    Blood spurted out, Winston was elated by the success of his attack but before he could celebrate a dagger came from below stabbing him from the chin with the pointed edge exiting on top of his head.

    “How....”

    The light in his eyes was fading but confusion could still be seen on his face. He let go of his blade and collapsed on the ground.

    “Haaa, haaa, that was close,”

    Eznho was panting while he let go of the enemy’s blade with his bloody hands. Turns out, before the blade could reach him, he moved his stomach sideways at a strange angle and grabbed the blade with his bare hand.

    “Damn, haaa, haaa, aunt Minchin will surely get mad at me.”

    He was smiling bitterly while he dragged himself and started to walk towards the inn while leaving dragging marks on his path. The battle took a toll on his body and he was barely hanging onto his consciousness.

    .....

    Eznho opened his eyes, the rays of the sunset was shining down his room. He covered his eyes and tried to observe his surrounding which looked familiar.

    “I’m in my room?”

    He narrowed his eyes and he saw two blurry figures. His vision slowly adjusted and he saw little Aiza with a worried face and teary eyes. The other one was his aunt who was pouting and glaring at him.

    “Uhmmm, how did I get home?”

    He smiled wryly and tried to smoothen things out.

    “Are you feeling better?” Little Aiza asked with a worried tone.

    “Hmph! Look at you, going out without saying anything and suddenly coming home with your body full of injuries. You’re gonna be the cause of my death.”

    Before he could answer, Minchin spoke with an angry tone.

    “I’m sorry aunt, I ran into some bad guys last night.”

    Eznho answered with an apologetic look on his face.

    “You’re lucky the guards recognized you when you collapsed in front of the inn.”

    Minchin ignored him and maintained her stance.

    “Aunt, you can get mad later on at big brother.” Little Aiza pleaded.

    “You should get some more rest, the doctor said your injuries are not that serious and you only collapsed because of exhaustion.”

    Minchin stood up and left leaving Eznho feeling guilty.

    “Don’t worry big brother, aunt Minchin is just tired, she did not mean anything she said. In fact, she did not even sleep for a second and was by your side the whole time.”

    He could not help but feel guilty towards his aunt but Little Aiza tried to comfort him with her words and fed Eznho with a bowl of porridge. Eznho wanted to feed himself but the little girl insisted which left him helpless.

    “Thank you little Aiza you should also get some rest and we will talk tomorrow.”

    Eznho forced a smile and patted the little girl’s head after he finished eating.

    “Okay big brother, see you tomorrow. Rest properly and get well soon.”

    Little Aiza stood up and left the room leaving Eznho alone who was sighing because of guilt.

    He tried remembering but it only brought a headache, the last thing he could recall was his enemies falling and him trying to drag himself and get home. He was trying to get back to sleep when he heard a knock.

    Knock! Knock!

    “Come in,” He composed himself and looked towards the door.

    “It’s me,” Budoy’s voice was coming from the outside and he came in with a guilty face.

    “What is it?” Eznho was curious as to why Budoy was making such a face.

    “Ho-how are you?” Budoy asked awkwardly.

    “I’m fine, nothing too serious,” Eznho answered with a genuine smile.

    “I am sorry, because of us this thing happened to you,”

    Budoy bowed his head and felt ashamed while clenching his fists.

    “Huh? What are you talking about?” Eznho asked with one of his brows raised.

    “I know what happened, no need to hide it from me,”

    Budoy spoke as he brought out a bank card and three clean daggers wrapped in a cloth which made Eznho almost jump out of his bed. He totally forgot about his bank card which would pose a big problem because it holds all of his savings.

    “Where’d you get that?”

    “After you were brought here, I knew you met trouble along the way so I tried to retrace your steps and found Judas’ body and the others. I saw his hand holding a bank card and I firmly believe that it was yours. As for the daggers, I bought them as a form of compensation so please take them.”

    Budoy bowed with sincerity and respect while handing out the daggers and the bank card. Eznho accepted it without holding back and ruffled Budoy’s hair which made him blush in embarrassment.

    “No worries, little brother, no big deal, I already consider you both as my siblings so it’s my job to protect you.”

    Eznho smiled pleasantly and truly felt warm inside, despite them knowing each other for a short period of time, he became fond of the sibling and already considered them as his own family.

    “Tha-thank you, big brother, I will go now and stop disturbing you.”

    This time he called him big brother with sincerity but it still felt awkward for him so he left hurriedly to hide his embarrassment. It was his first time to feel that someone genuinely cared for them so his heart was truly touched. Eznho just watched him with a smile still hanging on his face.

    I should head to the middle district tomorrow and try to acquire residency.

    He thought to himself while thinking about the past events. If he could acquire a house in the middle district, it would be more secure and the people he cared about would be safer.

    .....

    The next day, Eznho woke up with full vigor, due to the medicines, no scar marks were left on his body. He also found out that the medicine and the doctor were paid by Budoy using his own money.

    Eznho talked to his aunt and comforted her to lighten up her mood, of course, he had easily done that due to Minchin’s doting love for him. She did not even ask the details about what happened, she was satisfied as long as Eznho was safe. After that, she warned him not to easily get in trouble and avoid it if he can.

    The four of them happily ate breakfast together and Eznho told them about his plan to go to the middle district. Minchin was still feeling uneasy so he urged him to go together with Budoy which he happily complied with.
     
  17. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 36
    Chapter 36 Home is Where The Heart is

    Eznho and Budoy wore fur coats while they traveled towards the middle district entrance. Budoy was like a tour guide and was enthusiastic to introduce every place they passed by which added to Eznho’s knowledge. The further they went inside, the place started to become more organized and the buildings were designed decently. People were somewhat neat and tidy and it was rare to see a person who wore dirty and ragged clothing.

    Finally, they reached the bridge entrance that connected the outer from the middle. A tower was erected where some guards in full armor were keeping watch. A line of people and carriages were waiting while the guards inspected each and everyone. The duo joined the queue and waited for their turn. A man was even arrested when he tried to use a fake residency badge.

    “Tsk, stupid plebians who think they can trick their way inside,”

    A young man in a fancy white fur coat who was riding a three-meter-long white direwolf snorted in disdain when he saw the scene. It was obvious he came from a rich background, upon arrival he did not line up and directly went to the gate and the guards did not even bother to inspect him after showing a badge. A look of envy could be seen from everyone including Eznho and Budoy.

    “Truly the rich and powerful can do anything they want,”

    Eznho felt dejected while looking at the young man.

    “Don’t worry big brother, I know you can achieve that one day,”

    Budoy commented when he saw Eznho’s reaction. Eznho just smiled back and did not comment, they waited for a little over thirty minutes before their turn.

    “Purpose of going in the middle district?” the guard asked casually.

    “To buy a house,” Eznho answered back.

    “Hmmm? Any proof of the ability to buy one?”

    The guard was a little surprised when he saw how young Eznho and Budoy were.

    “Will this do?” Eznho was straightforward and brought out his bank card.

    “Yup, Just open it up and let me scan if you really have the money. The minimum amount needed is five thousand gold coins. An entrance fee of a hundred gold coins each is needed, of course, if you acquire your residency you can come and go as you like.”

    The guard briefly explained and brought out a thin rectangular metal that had formation runes on it. Eznho placed and his card above it while scanning his thumbprint. His remaining balance was a little under nine thousand gold coins and the two hundred gold coins for the entrance fee was deducted.

    That much? How rich is this city?

    Eznho was taken aback by the number of gold coins needed just to enter the district. He could only imagine how money the city generates every day.

    “Okay, all good, you can go. Make sure not to cause any trouble inside and not fall into the river.” The guard did not delay them any longer and gave them some sort of a ticket.

    Eznho entered the large opened gates together with Budoy but he did not expect the bridge to be just a simple brick bridge. The architecture was so simple, it looked like a normal twenty-meter wide bridge. Eznho was a little bit skeptical but he continued to walk and went to the side where he could clearly see the frozen river below.

    He was shocked when he saw a rather large shadow passing by under the bridge, he estimated the length to be at least fifteen meters long but he could not clearly see the shape.

    “What was that?” He blurted out.

    “Aquatic beast,” Budoy responded with a serious tone.

    “No wonder people are only allowed to use the bridge,” Eznho inhaled heavily while looking at the frozen river.

    “Of course, if people tried to cross the river, they would end up as food for the beasts,”

    Budoy spoke with fear in his eyes, he pictured the river being dyed red by blood. They walked for a short period of time, the bridge was only a hundred metes long. They saw a similar tower and they easily passed when they presented their ticket.

    Upon entering the gates, they were awed by the scenery. The streets were clean and there were no vendors scattered around. The buildings were designed beautifully, everything was neat, you could feel the presence of law and order.

    People passing by were wearing luxurious clothes, carriages were being pulled by beasts. Some palanquin were even being carried by a group of people. The duo stood there in shock, all they could think about was how people here lived in luxury while the outer district was like a slum. It took some time for them to adjust their mentality, it was already lunchtime so they needed a place to eat and they also needed information.

    They immediately found a restaurant named Good Taste Restaurant. It was a three-story building, the first floor was full so they had to go to the second floor but with an extra payment. They were shocked by the prices, the lowest dish cost five gold coins. They could only close their eyes as they ordered.

    I would not even survive here for a year if I don’t find a source of income.

    Eznho was smiling bitterly while trying to think of a way to earn money.

    “No wonder only the rich and nobles live here,” Budoy spoke in a soft voice while observing his surroundings.

    “You’re right, we should probably start looking for jobs. By the way, have you tried cultivating?”

    Eznho was a bit curious, basing on his observation, Budoy was a stronger than the other kids with the same age.

    “I tried, but they said I don’t have the talent and my body cannot absorb heavenly energy,” Budoy answered with a downcast face.

    “Don’t worry, cultivation is not everything.” Eznho tried to console Budoy.

    The food came moments later bringing a mouthwatering aroma. Both of their stomachs started to grumble.

    “Let’s hope it’s worth it,” Budoy commented and took his first bite.

    Yum! This kind of food exists?

    He uncontrollably smiled while chewing and tasting the food. It was the most delicious food he had ever tasted.

    “This is worth it,”

    He could not help but exclaim, Eznho nearly laughed when he saw Budoy’s reaction but restrained himself. Tasting the food also brought him joy but he behaved himself and did not act like Budoy.

    “Phew, I am stuffed. I could eat in here every day,” Budoy spoke with delight as he tapped his bulging stomach.

    “Do you have the money to spend?” Eznho asked teasingly.

    “Well, that would be up to you right, ‘big brother’” Budoy retorted with a mischevious look.

    “Hmph, what do you think of me? Your personal bank?” Enzho answered back.

    .....

    After digesting their food, they walked out of the restaurant and headed for the Land Distribution Office after confirming its location. It was located about ten kilometers from the restaurant, places could easily be found due to the proper arrangement of and construction of establishments and roads.

    The office building was large, there were four imposing red columns in front of it. A signboard was hanging by the entrance indicating the name of the establishment. Two intimidating guards were stationed beside the door. Ezhno and Budoy composed themselves and entered.

    The hall was wider than it looks from the outside, it could easily accommodate hundreds or even thousands of people. A good-looking female attendant in a red dress immediately met them with a charming smile.

    “How may I help you, young sirs?” She inquired.

    “Uhmmmm, we-we are here to buy a house,” Eznho got a little stiff.

    “Okay, follow me,”

    The attendant invited them with an amicable smile and ordered someone to take off their fur coats. People who are able to buy houses in the district usually have deep pockets. They were taken into a small room where a middle-aged man was sitting.

    “They are here to buy a house,”

    The female attendant announced and immediately departed after giving the duo a seductive smile which made them blush.

    “Good afternoon, young sirs, please take a seat. My name is Jones, I am one of the land distributors. How may I address the both of you.”

    The middle-aged man stood and greeted with respect.

    “Thank you, my name is Eznho and he is my little brother Budoy,” Eznho answered courteously.

    “Good names, are you new here?” Jones inquired.

    “Yes senior, we just arrived from far away,” Enzho answered vaguely.

    “Okay, so what kind of house are you looking for?”

    Jones sensed that Eznho wasn’t willing to talk about his background so immediately got to the point.

    “Just a little one, there is only a few of us so, I don’t need a big house,”

    Eznho answered honestly which made Jones a little disappointed but did not show it. This transaction would not give him a lot but it was still money so he maintained his good attitude, besides, he did not know their background.

    “You’re in luck, someone a while ago just posted his residency for sale. Small houses are rarely being sold these days, if you don’t buy it now somebody will. What do you say?”

    Eznho was delighted when he heard the good news, he was kinda pessimistic about it. After all, the cheapest house would be the most sought after by people.

    “Ahem, may I know the details?” Eznho tried to hide his excitement.

    “The price is five thousand gold coins plus five hundred as a registration fee with a total of five thousand five hundred gold coins. The house could hold ten people with ease and comfort, this type of house should be worth more than this but the owner is in a rush to sell it. You are really lucky, What say you?” Jones smiled while explaining.

    Over five thousand! And that is the cheapest?

    The duo was once again shocked by how pricey the houses were, they did not expect this kind of price. But at least this price comes with security and safety, that’s what mattered the most for Eznho.

    “Can we at least see the house first?”

    “Sure, no problem.” Jones brought out a scroll and opened it.

    A formation lit up and showed a small hologram of a courtyard. The size was approximately two hundred meters squared. The space was wide enough for the four of them to stay in. It had a fountain and a garden that could be used by his aunt and little Aiza as a recreational activity.

    Wow! This is worth it!

    Eznho was amazed and immediately had the urge to buy it straight away but he restrained himself and showed a calm demeanor.

    “What do you think?” He casually asked Budoy.

    “Hmm, it’s barely passable but it will do for now.”

    Budoy answered nonchalantly but deep inside he was also excited to live in such a house. Eznho thought for a while before answering.

    “Okay, we’ll take it,”

    “Haha, good, good, you have made the right decision.”

    Jones was quite happy to easily dispose of this house when not even a day has passed since it was up for sale. They immediately proceeded with the process and the house title was transferred under Eznho’s name.

    “Now that all is done, I must remind you about a few things, you can only acquire ten residency badge. With this badge, the holder can come and go inside the middle district without much restriction. If a badge is missing, please report it immediately as to avoid people sneaking in. The badges are blank right now, all you have to do is press your thumb for identification. Make sure not to lose the blank ones, please. Also, the scroll that I have given to you is your proof of ownership, you can keep it to yourself or you can go to the bank and put it in there, up to you. Every year you have to pay five hundred gold coins as a form of registration. This year is paid for you so you don’t have to worry about it, for now, you can pay it by bulk if you want, for example, you pay a thousand and you don’t have to bother paying for two years.”

    Five hundred a year? Why didn’t you say earlier? Arg!

    Eznho felt helpless as he tried thinking of a way to earn money while Jones patiently explained.

    “As for the other details, such as laws and regulations you can read it at home. If you have any questions, you can come here anytime. You can start moving in tomorrow, any more questions?”

    “Uhmmmm, none, for now, thank you,”

    Despite the large sum being spent, Eznho was excited to go back and announce the good news. The duo bowed and left Jones who continued to do his job. They bought food on their way home which they shared with Minchin and little Aiza.

    The most excited one was little Aiza who was jumping around and started to pack her things right away. She could not wait to go and transfer to their new home. Eznho was quite satisfied with the result and so after dinner, everyone packed their things and got ready for tomorrow.

    The same night, Eznho could not sleep and was unable to decide what he should do next. He was still hesitant whether to continue his cultivation or just live a simple life. But on the other hand, it would be hard for them to earn money to sustain a good living condition inside the middle district. What he needed now was guidance.

    Knock! Knock!

    He was jolted back to reality when a somebody knocked on the door.

    “Come in,” He wondered who could it be.

    “Little Ez,” Minchi slowly opened the door and showed a doting smile.

    “Aunt, do you need anything?” Eznho was confused by the visit.

    “Little Ez, we need to talk,” Minchin answered with a serious tone.

    “What is it about aunt?” Eznho got up and sat on his bed.

    Minchin did not answer and went to the bedside and sat down, then looked at Eznho with worry.

    “What are you planning to do from now on? I know living in the middle district would need a lot of money. How do you plan to sustain it? I can work but I am sure it will not be enough,”

    Eznho let out a big sigh when he heard the question.

    “Honestly, aunt I don’t know what to do right now,”

    “Little Ez, you don’t have to burden yourself that much, we can always go back to Sin City,”

    Minchin tried to console him, he could feel Eznho’s hardship.

    “I know aunt Minchin, but I don’t want to live under someone's foot anymore. I don’t want us to live like stray dogs who the rich and powerful could do anything they want against us. The only thing I want is for you and the others to live happily and peacefully and I think we can achieve it by living in the middle district. It would not be easy for anyone to bully us anymore,”

    Eznho answered with determination.

    “I know it would hard to keep this up without sufficient money but I have a way, it’s just that I don’t know if it is the right thing to do. Tell me, aunt, am I a bad person?”

    He became emotional and looked at her aunt in the eyes.

    “What are you talking about? Of course not!” Minchin was taken aback and hugged Eznho tightly.

    “You can tell me anything little Ez,” She could see the confusion in Eznho’s eyes and she wanted to help him.
     
  18. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 37
    Chapter 37 What to do la?

    Eznho took a deep breath and looked at the window with emotional eyes. He started to narrate everything that happened to him, unlike before, he did not conceal anything and told every detail including the killings. From his first kill at the road while going back to Sin city up to the five guys he killed a couple of days ago.

    Despite his inability to recall things, he narrated what he could remember during the attack of their caravan. He told her about every strange encounter he had including the gray flame, the subtle hint of Talong about the ring and about his invitation.

    Minchin listened carefully and did not miss any detail, she was shocked many times but refrained from commenting and just let Eznho do the talking. It took a while before Eznho finished talking, after that, Eznho felt a little lighter as if a boulder he was carrying was taken away from him, he actually felt good. Now he realized, it was actually nice to have someone close to you whom you can tell everything about.

    “Little Ez, I won’t be a hypocrite and say that what you did was not good. Those people tried to kill you and you were only defending yourself,”

    Minchin spoke in a gentle manner and tried to comfort the boy.

    “I know aunt, that’s what I also think but they said that if I am to continue cultivating I would have to face the truth and have to kill more people. Tell me, aunt, how do I decide if I am to take the life of someone? I mean, do I even have the right to take their life?”

    This was Eznho’s question, he was still a child after all and did not yet accumulate enough experience.

    “Little Ez, after hearing all about your encounters I can tell for sure that you have a great destiny ahead of you. If you are to ask me I would say that, if someone wants to take your life, you have the right to defend it. And if ever you have to decide who to kill, from my perspective it would be the people who deserve it, evil people who do evil things and never ever take the life of an innocent person little Ez.”

    Minchin answered honestly, she was more mature and also had her own fair share of experiences.

    “As what that man said about your father, you have the right to know the truth so I won’t stop you from whatever decision you make. I will always be at your back cheering you on, just promise me not to wantonly kill people without reason and I repeat, never take the life of an innocent person.”

    Eznho stayed silent and contemplated inside.

    “Whatever you decide to do next, we are here for you, little Aiza, Budoy and that big brother of yours. One more thing, no matter where your adventures take you, always remember that there is someone home waiting for you.”

    Minchin also turned emotional, her intuition told her that they would separate in the near future. She did not want to hold him back so she stayed strong, after all, Eznho could not possibly stay by her side forever, he has to live his own life. She only prayed that he would live a happy life. Taking a deep breath, she kissed Eznho’s forehead and stood up while showing a doting smile then walked to the door.

    “Good night little Ez, don’t stay up too late. We still have a big day tomorrow,”

    “Good night aunt Minchin, thank you.”

    Enzho spoke with wholehearted gratitude, he felt like his path was now clearer than before. He closed his eyes and weighed everything on his mind, after a while, he opened his eyes. It was now filled with determination and all the traces of confusion were gone.

    .....

    The group departed early in the morning after settling everything at the inn. The owner was somewhat dejected after seeing a big source of income leave in a carriage. Minchin was constantly awed and shocked after looking at the surroundings they passed.

    She did not go out even once and the only place she visited was the inn’s back garden. Her eyes constantly moved as she saw many new things, she was like Eznho when he first strolled around, it was rather amusing to watch.

    They easily passed the gate and reached the middle district, basing on the map, the house was about twenty kilometers to the east. Time was not of the essence so they took their time and marveled at the sceneries they passed. They could even vaguely see the wall that separated the inner district, from the middle.

    What kind of sceneries would be inside?

    Eznho asked himself while trying to imagine what the inner city looked like. It took them an hour before they reached the house. The gate was closed and a number ‘69’ was carved on it. In the middle, there was some sort of a hole that matches the residency badge which also had a ‘69’ on it. Eznho took it out and put it in front, a second later, an unlocking sound was heard and Eznho pushed the gate open.

    Little Aiza could not contain her excitement so she ran inside first.

    “Wow! Look at this everyone, it’s beautiful.” She exclaimed from the inside.

    The other followed suit and what they saw astounded them, the open courtyard was actually filled with green grass, flat rocks were embedded to form a pathway while a small fountain with a fish design was spewing water from its mouth. Flowers with different colors and small trees were growing at the side.

    Little Aiza was jumping up and down and was rolling her body on the grass. The three who were watching could help but laugh at the little girl. After unpacking everything, everyone picked their own rooms, Eznho was forced to sleep in the room where the head of the family stays. Minchin and little Aiza prepared dinner, they were one happy family, the only one missing was Martin. After eating, Eznho distributed the residency badge to everyone and kept the others for future use.

    Eznho planned on going back to Sin city after settling everything and get his big brother. He was worried but could only endure for now, and besides, there were dangers in traveling.

    .....

    The next day, the group planned to go out and explore a little bit around the middle district. They finished breakfast and started to prepare when someone buzzed some sort of a doorbell but made with a simple formation. Everyone was puzzled as who would visit them, they were new in town and did not know anyone.

    Budoy volunteered to open the door but a short while after opening it, he slammed the gate and came back with a gloomy face.

    “What happened, big brother?” Little Aiza inquired with inquisitive eyes.

    “The person got the wrong address, why don’t you go and prepare yourself so we can go have fun outside,” Budoy vaguely answered with a smile.

    Little Aiza pouted but she knew it was something she could not pry on so she went to her room while grumbling.

    “Who was that?” Eznho questioned after the little girl left.

    Sigh, I never thought we would encounter him as soon as we came here. Big brother, do you remember the merchant I told you about? The one who wanted to offer little Aiza to one of the nobles?” Budoy started to remember the past.

    “Yeah, I remember, was he the visitor?” Eznho guessed, while Minchin just listened to the conversation.

    “You got it right big brother, ugh, he was the previous owner of this house and just wanted to see who the new owner was,” Budoy answered with dejection.

    “I see, what a small world, did he say anything else?” Eznho asked.

    “I slammed the door right after knowing his intentions, I’m sorry big brother, I just couldn’t control myself,” Budoy answered apologetically.

    “No worries, little brother, he is not welcome in this house anyway,” Eznho patted Budoy’s shoulder to comfort him.

    “Budoy, how are you and little Aiza related to that man?” Minchin asked curiously.

    “We just met him by accident, actually both Aiza and I don’t have any memories before meeting the merchant. The only thing I could remember was me and my little sister were running from someone or something. I don’t know why but my mind told me to run as far as we can. After running for days, we started to weaken due to exhaustion and lack of food. That was the time we saw the merchant’s caravan, he welcomed us with all smiles and gave us food and clothes. Little did we know that he had ulterior motives, I have only accidentally overheard him so we had a chance to escape. After that, we have been living in the shadows of the outer district.”

    Budoy told the whole truth, he trusted Minchin and Eznho that is why he was able to tell everything about him and his little sister. Eznho and Minchin were both shocked by the sibling’s story, they did not expect it to be that tragic. They did not ask before because they could see the reluctance in their eyes, but now they felt pity for them.

    Maybe that’s why senior Talong said not to pick up strangers with unknown backgrounds. Maybe he knows something, I have to ask him later on.

    Eznho felt a headache coming. The sibling had a mysterious past and he had no idea about it.

    We will deal with it if it comes.

    “I never thought you had such a tragic past, do you have any clue at all as to where you came from?” Eznho asked.

    “No, big brother, no matter how hard we tried, we could not remember a single thing,” Budoy answered with a downcast face.

    “I am ready! Let’s go!” The gloomy atmosphere was broken by little Aiza when she came running with a yellow dress while draped in a fur coat and a yellow ribbon on her hair. She looked more adorable and cute that way.

    “Big brother?” Budoy was not sure if they would push through with the outing.

    “Don’t worry, he can’t do anything in the open and besides, the middle district has rules,” Eznho answered with confidence. Budoy nodded in response and his heavy feeling became lighter.

    “Wow, little Aiza you look good on your dress,” Minchin commented.

    “Thank you aunt Minchin, how do you like it, big brother?” Little Aiza looked at the two boys.

    “It looks good on you,”

    “You look adorable in that,”

    Budoy and Eznho spoke at the same time, which made the atmosphere awkward.

    “Hahaha, thank you,”

    Little Aiza found it funny and bowed in a ladylike manner then hugged Eznho and Budoy. The atmosphere became jubilant after little Aiza’s performance, she was the star of the family.

    “Alright, it’s getting late, we should head out and enjoy the day,” Eznho spoke with enthusiasm and the group left the house to explore the middle district.

    .....

    “What a lucky day, never would have I thought that I would find the siblings in my old house,” A middle-aged man sitting on a chair while sipping wine was feeling delightful. He was the merchant who was met by Budoy and Aiza. His name was Alibaba.

    “I had to sell the house to procure more money and buy little girls and offer it to the fatso. If I could acquire that little girl, it would fetch me a great price. I have to investigate things first, I have to know who is standing at the back of those two,”

    Alibaba furrowed his brows while thinking of a solution, the middle district has rules and protects its residents. He could not do anything rashly.

    “Onyok,” He shouted.

    “What is it, milord?” A silhouette appeared and spoke.

    “Investigate everything about the people who bought one of my houses,” Alibaba instructed.

    “Your wish is my command milord,” The silhouette acknowledged and disappeared.

    “I have to visit the fatso later on and offer the girls,” Alibaba mumbled to himself and gulped down the wine.

    .....

    Eznho and the group walked around the middle district and explored the place. They entered shops and even bought some things even though Minchin was trying to tell to be thrifty. Little Aiza was all smiles the whole time which affected everyone around her. People who even saw her found her adorable and cute.

    They went for lunch at the Good Taste Restaurant and ate a sumptuous meal. After that, little Aiza was still energetic so they continued the tour, this made everyone broaden their horizon and familiarized themselves with the place.

    The group was on their way home when they met their neighbors, they introduced themselves to each other. They even had a daughter with the same age as Aiza. Everyone was tired when they got home, except for Eznho, he still had to go somewhere else later on.

    Unknown to the group, a shadow was tailing them and noted every place they visited and every move they made.
     
  19. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 38
    Chapter 38 Switch

    The sun has already set when Eznho told the group that he would go out to do something. They did not ask about the details and told him to come back safely. Eznho talked with Budoy privately before setting out.

    “Budoy, we need to start earning money so I entrust you to find information on how people like us who don’t have connections make money. Also, try to obtain more information about the city, now that we have access to the middle district, I believe you can gain more information. One last thing, avoid making contact with the merchant as much as possible, I know you have grudges but we don’t have the means to fight him right now, Understand?”

    He warned Budoy to avoid unnecessary troubles.

    “Yes big brother, I’ll do my best. Don’t worry, I’m not that stupid you know, where are you going by the way?”

    Budoy grinned and could not help but satisfy his curiosity.

    “I have to meet someone who could somehow help me in my cultivation path,”

    Eznho answered vaguely.

    “That is so cool, big brother, I wish I could cultivate too,”

    Budoy let out a helpless sigh.

    “I told you before, cultivation is not everything, but we also don’t what the future holds so who knows,”

    Eznho ruffled Budoy’s hair and bid him farewell.

    “I have to go now, see you later,”

    “Take care, big brother,”

    Budoy prayed that his big brother will come back safely while clenching his fist, his eyes were filled with determination. He wanted to be of help so, he promised to himself that he would do his best to assist Eznho.

    .....

    The chilly wind blew while the snow danced in the air, Eznho was wrapped in a fur coat while heading out to the outer district to meet Talong in Batawa Restaurant. He arrived there a couple of hours later. The same as last time, he found him at the third floor drinking alcohol beside the window. It was as if he did not move there since the last time they met.

    “What took you so long? I thought you were gonna back out,” Talong looked at him with a lazy face.

    “I’m sorry senior Talong, I hope I am not too late,” Eznho bowed in apology.

    “Whatever, come sit, you are just in time,” Talong did not mind it and just waved his hand.

    Eznho was about to sit when Talong looked out the window and snorted then his eyes became sharp for a moment making Eznho quiver inside.

    “What is it senior?” He nervously asked.

    “Ahhh, just some rats,” Talong grinned and gulped down his alcohol.

    .....

    A shadow has been waiting outside Eznho’s residence when they got back. It was lying there in wait the whole time and did not move an inch. After seeing that Eznho came out of the house, the shadow followed him all the way to the outer district.

    It stopped in a dark alley and observed from afar, he was about to see who the boy was meeting when suddenly, a powerful intent came from nowhere shattering it to nothingness.

    “Ahhhh!”

    A pain-filled scream echoed throughout the basement of a house from the middle district. If not because of the formation, his scream would have startled his neighbors. An old man was soaked in sweat while panting and wiping the blood from his mouth, his shadow was obliterated without warning. It was deeply connected to him so he was heavily injured after it was destroyed.

    “Damn! Who was that man?”

    Fear was apparent in his eyes, a person like that was a true expert and he could not afford to provoke one. He tried to calm himself down and circulated his energy to stabilize himself then swallowed a pill when the crystal ball, the size of a basketball in front of him started to crack.

    “Shit!” He was scared witless and tried to run but the crystal broke in pieces. The sharp shards did not scatter but floated instead and flew towards him.

    “Noooo!”

    He was unresigned and tried put up an energy barrier in front of him but it was no use. The shards penetrated it easily and his body became riddled with holes. His lifeless body fell down on the floor while blood flowed from his wounds, disbelief could be seen from his eyes.

    .....

    Eznho was, of course, unaware of the brief event so he did not pry further and sat down in front of Talong.

    “Senior, may I know what sort of mission am I going to take?” He asked politely.

    “Your performance is not bad after our meeting, you should maintain that attitude. Let me ask you one last time, are you sure about your decision?” Talong looked at him seriously.

    “Yes senior,” Eznho answered without hesitation.

    “Good!” Talong was delighted and gulped down another one.

    “I happen to receive a mission but it is beneath me so I want you to do it,”

    “Will it involve killing?” Eznho asked to prepare his mentality.

    “Well, that would depend on you, I can see that you have your own principles so it would be up to you to decide. Besides, it is a rescue mission, killing would be optional.” Talong grinned and tried to be mysterious.

    “Fine, I’ll take it, may I know the details,” Eznho already decided so it would be inappropriate if he declined.

    “Good kid, as this is your first mission, I would assist you in the infiltration and escape. The background of the enemy is not something you can handle so I’ll help you clean up your mess afterward. Don’t misunderstand me, kid, I am only doing this because you are still wet behind the ears. In fact, if it were anybody else your age, they could do this mission without any help.”

    Talong spoke with a hint of ridicule but Eznho did not mind, it was the truth after all.

    “First thing first, the objective is to rescue a girl, her name is Blue. She was kidnapped and being held up in the middle district, the perpetrator is the city lord of Sin city, Butchog River. I assume you have heard of him?”

    Is it her?

    Eznho was taken by surprise, he did not expect the mission to be somewhat related to him. He could vividly remember the incident that brought them difficulties.

    “Hmmm, I see, so you know him in some way,”

    Talong guessed when he saw the boy’s reaction. He was not surprised because he knew the boy came from Sin city, although, he did not know how the two were related, he did not care as long as the mission will succeed.

    “You could say that,” Eznho spoke in a vague manner.

    This is my chance!

    Deep inside, he was excited, he had been wanting to make the people who mistreated them pay and this would give him the opportunity to do so.

    “You will infiltrate by acting as one of the young girls that would be offered to him,” Talong could not hide the disdain on his face.

    “I have a formation that can change your physique and become a young girl, as for what happens after you enter the premises, that would be up to you. After rescuing the girl, I’ll be waiting outside to aid you in your escape. Any questions?”

    “Won’t I be discovered?” Eznho was still a bit skeptical.

    “Hmph! Are you looking down on me? Not even a Dao Formation Stage cultivator can detect my disguise,” Talong spoke with a proud tone while Eznho showed an apologetic smile.

    “Anything else?” Talong questioned.

    “When will we start?” Eznho asked in return.

    “Thirty minutes from now, I’ll make you join the group of children and from that point on, you are on your own.” Talong casually answered.

    “I’ll make the disguise now and you should get used to it, don’t move”

    Talong instructed and formed hand seals, heavenly energy gathered towards him and a face mask made of formation lines formed in front of him. He willed it and the mask moved towards Eznho, overlapping with his face. His face lit up and after a second his body and face started to change.

    The change brought a weird feeling to Eznho, his hand was smoother and whiter than before, he caressed his face and it felt soft. Talong in front of him was trying to hold his laughter inside. He formed another hand seal and a mirror formed in the middle of the room.

    “Go check yourself in the mirror,”

    Eznho stood up and went in front of the mirror. His physique was thinner and two small lumps formed on his chest. He was curious and touched it, then his face instantly became red.

    “Bwahahahaha! Why don’t you also check ‘under’?”

    Talong could not hold it anymore and burst out laughing. Eznho’s lips twitched but he did not comment, despite that, he subconsciously touched ‘under’ and his hand felt nothing.

    “Hahaha, don’t worry it will ‘grow’ back,”

    Talong was tearing up due to laughing while Eznho’s veins were popping on his temples. The only thing that resembled his old self, was his eyes, other than that, the person in front of the mirror was a girl version of himself. It took a while for him to adjust and act like a girl, the only thing amiss was his clothes.

    Talong once again made a formation, this time it was a dress, Eznho was forced to wear an ordinary looking dress but it made Talong laugh once again. Eznho felt helpless about this, he even thought that Talong was just making fun of him.

    “Alright, alright, its time to get serious,” Talong did his best to make a serious face but he was still chuckling.

    “The formation has a time limit due to your inability to control and supply it with energy, so make the most out of it. One more thing, it also conceals your energy but once you circulate it, the formation will break. This would also serve as a test of your control over your emotions.” This was one of his weakness so Talong wanted to improve it as much as possible.

    “How long?” Eznho asked.

    “Maximum would be five hours,” Talong spoke casually.

    “That short?” Eznho furrowed his brows.

    “That is why make sure to finish the mission as fast as possible, okay, enough talk, time to go.”

    Talong made another mask and used it to himself, his body started to morph and he became a stout middle-aged man with a protruding round belly. He looked like a typical merchant.

    .....

    The courtyard of Butchog was located in the inner parts of the middle district. His life here was full of leisure, maids were dressed in see-through clothing but he did not show much interest in them. He was enjoying their company in bed when a servant came knocking that displeased him.

    “What is it? I told you not to disturb me during this time!” He shouted.

    “I am sorry milord, but lord Killboy is here,” The servant answered in a fearful voice.

    “Ah? Big brother is here?” Butchog’s mood turned one-eighty degrees and jumped out of his bed to change clothes.

    “Tell him I’ll be there in a second,” He ordered.

    “Yes milord,” The servant acknowledged.

    .....

    “Big brother! You should have told me in advance that you would come, I would have personally received you,” Butchog hurriedly walked into the main hall while his fatty body was bouncing.

    “Haha, no need to fret about it, little brother, I came hear bearing good news,” A lean man in his late thirties wearing blue robes was standing in the hall. His name was Killboy, the successor of the River family.

    Butchog’s eyes lit up upon hearing it and hugged his brother.

    “Really? What good news?” He eagerly asked.

    “Father has decided to let you stay here permanently until your banishment time is fulfilled,”

    Killboy answered with a smile, he pampered his little brother despite knowing his fetish for young girls. He once persuaded him but it was all for naught.

    “Is that real, Uncle?”

    Before Butchog could speak, a slightly high pitched male voice echoed throughout the main hall. Taba heard that his uncle visited so he immediately rushed to meet him and overheard the conversation.

    “Of course, little Taba, why would I lie about something like that?”

    Killboy was full of smiles when he saw the boy. Taba ran to his uncle and gave him a hug upon confirming the good news, he treated his uncle like he was his father.

    “That’s good then, we don’t have to go back to that filthy place anymore,”

    He was truly happy, due to a mistake years ago, they were forced to live in Sin City for a period of time.

    “Thank you, uncle.” He bowed while grinning.

    “Haha, no biggie, how could I let the both of you live at a place like that,” Killboy spoke while ruffling Taba’s hair.

    “Won’t ‘they’ cause trouble for us?” Butchog asked with worry.

    “Don’t worry little brother, they live rather very far away from us and they don’t have much influence inside the city. Besides, grandfather is attempting to break through and this time, he has a very high chance of success,”

    Killboy spoke with confidence but deep inside he truly feared the force behind his little brother’s banishment.

    “Truly? That is great then,” Butchog felt at ease and was in a festive mood.

    “Why don’t we drink in celebration?”

    “Next time, little brother, I have to go back home and help in the preparation for grandfather’s breakthrough,” Killboy politely declined.

    “That’s too bad then,” Butchog sighed helplessly.

    “I have to go now, don’t go making trouble now, okay?” Killboy teased.

    “Of course, big brother take care, please express my congratulations to grandfather,” Butchog answered with a grin.

    .....

    “So, how is your new toy?” Butchog asked Taba with a doting tone.

    “She is rather sturdy father, I did not think she would last this long, I would have to enjoy myself tonight in celebration,” Taba answered with an innocent look.

    “Good, of course, she has a muscle-head of a father after all, hahaha.”

    The father and son duo laughed sinisterly at the same time.
     
  20. NotNice

    NotNice Member

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    Chapter 39
    Chapter 39 No Chance

    Talong and Eznho rode in a carriage heading towards one of the back alleys of the outer district. Slave trading was known to everyone but it is not done in the open. The duo got out of the carriage and went to one of the steel doors.

    Knock Knock Knock

    Talong knocked in a unique pattern then a small rectangular opening opened showing to a pair of intimidating eyes.

    “The night is dark” A husky voice came from the inside.

    “And full of terrors,” Talong answered back casually.

    It was a form of password for selected people only. The door was unlocked and opened, Talong entered while Eznho followed timidly. A hairy tall guy was standing guard and looked at them trying to size them up. Talong just ignored him and continued walking while Eznho was bowing his head and trying to observe the place at the same time.

    The inside was far wider than he expected it was like a large open marketplace, stalls were erected selling different kinds of goods. Most of them were from suspicious origins, if one is not careful he might buy a fake item or even mistakenly take stolen items from great backgrounds bringing disaster to oneself. This place is just one of the black markets inside the city.

    The place was crowded, only a handful showed their faces, most of them were concealed with masks, cloth, conical bamboo hat and the like. Some even emitted bloody and terrifying auras. This was a haven for people with bad reputations.

    They walked further and the items slowly turned into living creatures such as young beasts, insects, some even were halflings, a mixed breed between a human and another species, such as beasts or elves but the most common in the continent were beast halflings.

    You can’t deny the fact that discrimination was apparent unless one has power or backed by a great background. The most affected ones were the ones who could not fully transform into a human and maintained their beastly appearances.

    Eznho had complicated feelings when he made yet another discovery. He could only sigh and wish them well, just like Talong said, one person cannot save everyone. Talong suddenly stopped making Eznho bump his back. He looked around and saw young girls with varying age standing in line with downcast faces.

    “I’m here to sell,” Talong nonchalantly spoke with one of the guards.

    “Who are you?” The guard spoke in a displeased manner.

    “A lowly dog like you doesn’t have to know,” Talong retorted back.

    “You!” The guard was furious and wanted to draw his saber.

    “What do you think you’re doing?” A middle-aged man with a mustache walked out the door wearing striped robes reprimanded the guard.

    “Milord, I was...” The guard was scared and tried to explain himself.

    “Shut up!” The middle-aged man glared making the guard bow his head.

    “Brother, I am sorry for that, did I hear you correctly? You are selling that exquisite beauty?”

    The man amicably smiled at Talong while glancing at Eznho.

    “I am indeed, but it seems I am not welcomed here,” Talong answered in a lazy manner and even started to turn back.

    “Wait, brother, that was just a misunderstanding, why don’t you come inside and let’s talk business. By the way, my name is Alibaba, may I know brother’s name?” Alibaba tried to smoothen things out.

    “Since you insist, I will not make it hard for you, you can call me Brusko,” Talong answered.

    “So, it’s brother Brusko, may I invite you for a drink?” Alibaba did not care whether it was his real name or not. It was common here to use nicknames anyway.

    “I have to decline, my time is limited so I want to make the deal as soon as possible,” Talong refused straight away.

    “That’s too bad, come inside and we’ll talk business then,” Alibaba maintained a smile and led the way.

    The room was not that wide but it was designed in luxury with paintings, vases and sculptures.

    “I’ll be direct then brother Brusko, how much do you want for her?”

    Alibaba was also in a rush, his invitation a while ago was just to show his good intentions.

    “Three thousand gold coins,” Talong answered firmly.

    Alibaba was shocked by the price but still composed himself.

    “Brother, you must be joking that is too much for a slave, how about one thousand five hundred?”

    “No can do, this young gal is from another merchant family so she was well-taken care off while growing. His family owed me and gave her to me as a form of payment. In fact, she is still a virgin, you can check it if you want,” Talong spoke but was trying hard to conceal his amusement.

    Alibaba furrowed his brows and checked Eznho from head to toe. He could not deny the fact that the ‘young girl’ in front of him has her own unique charm and beauty. The other girls were ordinary compared to this one, he needed a merchandise to please the fatty and this girl was suited for the role, she was the cherry on top of the cake.

    “Two thousand five hundred and that’s it, take it or leave it,” He gritted his teeth and offered his last price.

    “Forget it, I’ll find other people,” Talong was not moved and stood up.

    Who the hell does he think he is?

    Alibaba was furious inside but he did not want to provoke a person with an unknown background and just coldly looked at the departing Talong.

    “Wait,” He suppressed his anger and spoke as calmly as he could.

    You think you can haggle with the great Talong? Dream on!

    “Changed your mind?” Talong turned around showing a bashful smile.

    “Three thousand it is, how do you want the payment?” Alibaba asked with a forced smile.

    “Bank card,” Talong answered.

    “Wait a moment,” Alibaba called for a servant and ordered something to him. A while later he came back with a brown bank card.

    “Here, that’s a blank card, it contains the price you asked, you can check if you want,” He handed a bank card to Talong.

    “No need, I trust you and thank you, nice doing business with you,” Talong received the card and put it on his chest pocket without bothering to inspect it making Alibaba surprised.

    “Okay, you can have her now,” Talong pushed Eznho towards Alibaba.

    “How do I know she does not carry trouble with her?” Alibaba inquired.

    “You just gotta have to trust my words I guess,” Talong grinned and walked out the door.

    Alibaba had a darkened face when Talong left.

    Damn! You think you can toy with me?

    He was furious and ordered two servants to follow Talong but of course, it would yield him nothing in return.

    “Go give her a bath and a new dress, we will depart in thirty minutes,” He was busy right now and could not bother on other things, his focus was making sure to deliver the girls in time.

    .....

    Eznho was cleaned up by a maid and was dressed in pink, he felt awkward the whole time. He was given a light makeup and a red lipstick while his hair was tidied up and was coiled above his head using a jade hairpin.

    A total of ten girls squeezed inside a carriage including Eznho, fear and terror could be seen on the young girls, some of them were on the verge of crying but endured, afraid that the adults would hurt them. Eznho was clenching his fists the whole time, he could not tolerate such thing but he could do nothing except complete the mission and hope that these girls will find safety after.

    Approximately an hour after, the carriage stopped making the other girls more nervous. A guard opened the door intimidating the girls even more.

    “Don’t make a noise and fall in line,” He commanded.

    Eznho and the group obeyed and got out then formed a line, Eznho was at the very back.

    “Go inside and don’t make me lose face, you hear?” Alibaba instructed with a strict face and opened a door then went first inside followed by the girls.

    They walked in a corridor dimly lit by torches then after ten minutes of walking they entered another door. They were met by a wide hall, it was wider than Eznho’s house, a fat man was sitting at the main chair while a little version of him was standing on his right side who was trying to measure the girls.

    “Here are the girls as promised,” Alibaba spoke in a respectful but not a subservient manner.

    “Good, good, you have impeccable taste as always,” Butchog was in a good mood and praised Alibaba.

    “This humble one just happens to know what suits your taste,” Alibaba answered with a proud face.

    “Alright, alright, enough of that, I am in a good mood right now and need to celebrate. I would like to have a toast with you but can we have it next time?” Butchog spoke while licking his lips.

    “Naturally, this humble one would be waiting for the invite,” Alibaba did not mind and maintained a pleasing smile.

    “That is perfect then, I hope this is to your satisfaction,” Butchog ordered a maid and brought a card to Alibaba.

    Alibaba’s pupil shrunk when he saw the blue card.

    Jackpot!

    He tried to calm down and received the card without hesitation.

    “Thank you,” He bowed sincerely, this trade has been profitable for him. Aside from receiving Butchog’s support, the money he spent purchasing those girls had multiplied.

    “There is fifty thousand in there, is that enough?” Butchog spoke in a casual manner as if giving away fifty thousand was nothing to him.

    “Of course, of course, it is more than enough,” Alibaba nodded several times.

    “Then I hope you don’t mind if I don’t see you out,” Butchog could not hold his excitement and wanted the guests to leave already.

    Naturally, Alibaba could see this so he bowed once more and left while smiling from ear to ear.

    .....

    “Little Taba, anyone to your liking?” Butchog spoke when Alibaba left.

    “None, for now, I am still quite happy with my toy,” Taba shook his head.

    “Alright then, more for me,” Butchog grinned and stood up from his chair.

    The girls were lined up and he wanted to scrutinize them one by one. He started from the opposite side of Eznho. Holding their chin, Butchog was nodding constantly while making his hand wander all over the girls’ trembling body.

    “Not bad, not bad,” He was licking his lips while checking the merchandise.

    His eyes lit up when he saw Eznho.

    “What have we got here, a feisty one,” His blood was boiling when he saw Eznho’s uniqueness and fierce eyes.

    “I like it,” He laughed and suddenly raised his hand.

    Pak!

    A resounding slap reverberated throughout the hall. Eznho was taken by surprise and got stunned by the event, he was focused on trying to control his emotions and did not see the slap coming. His cheek became red after that. He turned his head and glared at Butchog fiercely.

    “Hahaha,” Butchog just laughed it off and slapped Eznho once more.

    “Do you like it? Show me more!”

    Eznho was trembling due to humiliation and anger, he wanted to attack but his guts told him not to. He had a faint feeling that an expect far stronger than him was watching, besides, he still had no idea where his target is being held.

    Pak!

    The slapped continued every time Eznho showed resistance, blood was already flowing from his mouth and his cheeks were glowing red. The other girls were scared stiff and did not dare to move an inch.

    Ten more slaps came and Eznho did his best to control his emotions, after the last slap, he bowed his head and showed a defeated look. Butchog held his chin and moved it up,

    “Already done? That’s too bad,” Butchog showed a disappointed look and shook his head.

    “Hans, get them to the basement, I want that feisty girl first,” He let go of Eznho and instructed Hans who was standing guard.

    “Let’s go!”

    Hans barked and together with another guard they led the group to another part of the house. Another five-minute walk and they arrived at a black door. Hans opened it showing a flight of stairs going down the basement.

    The girls became scared and showed hesitation.

    “Hmph! Follow me down or you will not have a good end,” Hans smirked and started to descend the stairs.
     

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