Chapter 47 – Chu Huai Dian (Lightning)
The clear breeze shook the leaves on the tree branches as Feng Ji Xing sped along on his horse. Behind his white-robed figure was a troop of the Forbidden Army’s cavalry. The claymore in his hand shone with the faint luster of battle aura. Although the war horse was moving at a high speed, the sound of its hooves was not very loud. In terms of horsemanship, Feng Ji Xing was already able to become one with his horse, to the point where his skill could be called the best in the Empire.
In the dense woods, a thousand year oak stood stalwartly amidst the canopy. Below the tree’s shade stood the Imperial Princess Qin Yin. Holding onto the reins of her horse, she kicked around the pebbles on the ground impatiently. The faces of the guards did not look very happy either. Ever since they had lost track of that fan dragon, the princess had been fuming. No one dared to bother her when she was like that.
Feng Ji Xing leapt off his horse and knelt down on one knee, “Your Highness, I have returned.”
Qin Xin asked with a smile, “General Feng, did you catch the fan dragon?”
“I caught it.”
Feng Ji Xing nodded, but continued, “Unfortunately, it was too badly wounded. By the time I came across it, it had already lost consciousness. Its beast spirit had already faded, so I had no choice but to retrieve just its spirit stone. I hope this spirit stone may be of use to you, Your Highness.”
Qin Yin looked at the spirit stone in Feng Ji Xing’s hand. Her sharp eyes swept across Feng Ji Xing’s clothes, and she smiled, “Okay then. Thank you for the hard work, General Feng. I’ll keep that spirit stone then.”
Feng Ji Xing smiled bitterly, “It is my greatest honor to please Your Highness. The day is late, so we should return soon. His Majesty must already be worried sick. We’ll need to get back to Lanyan City before dusk.”
“Aye, sounds good!”
This continent had long since been known to its people as “Shattered Cauldron Realm”, a name that signified the efforts of the first Saint King Qin Yi. After many hundred years of conquest and governance, the Saint King was finally able to built up this unprecedented great nation that is the Qin Empire much in the way of piecing up shattered fragments of a cauldron.
Shattered Realm’s map is separated into two halves horizontally. Colloquially known as the “Qin Ridge”, the long stretch of a mountain chain separates the continent into a north and a south half. To the south is a land rich, fertile, and abundant in natural resources. In comparison, the north is slighter cooler. Continuous mountain ranges are common. Countless wealthy cities are positioned between those frozen ridges.
Dragon Seeker Forest is the most expansive plot of land in all of Ridge North. Within those thousand miles of Dragon Seeker Forest, a magnificent fortress represents the imperial power: Lanyan City!
The wealthy and flourishing Lanyan City ranks at the top of the seven famous cities in the Empire. Reaching heights of 50 meters, its light-green walls stand stalwartly against attackers. With the city’s bustling commerce in conjunction with the rich resources within its grounds, Lanyan City represents the economic and political center of the Empire. It houses the Temple revered by martial artists throughout the continent, as well as the headquarter of the Imperial Panacea Division. It is easy to see the importance this city plays in regards to the whole Empire.
Before the sun set, Lin Mu Yu and Chu Yao finally arrived at Lanyan City. Lin Mu Yu’s chin had already become covered in a mess of stubble, while Chu Yao’s hair was still cut short. Neither of them resembled the wanted posters plastered all over the city gates. Not to mention that they were now accompanied by a Forbidden Army commander, Luolet, a trusted aide of Feng Ji Xing.
Luolet was dressed in a full suit of Imperial armor, with a single golden Purple Yin flower adorning his breast. Aside from the flower, he also wore a single star, identifying him as a thousand-men commander of the Empire.
The security officer in charge of the gate greeted Luolet with a military salute, then turned to look at Lin Mu Yu and Chu Yao. “Those two do not look like soldiers of the Forbidden Army. Who are they, Commander?”
Luolet responded mildly, with a manner that imposed power but not anger, “These two are General Feng’s friends. They just arrived from Seven Sea City as guests to the Capital. Do they need to be examined further?”
“Ah, no. Of course not. Since they are General Feng’s esteemed guests, then that won’t be necessary.”
The officer at the security station was a mere hundred-men officer, so he naturally didn’t dare to challenge a thousand-men officer like Luolet.
Lin Mu Yu was a little surprised at how the whole process went without a hitch. The two of them unexpectedly snuck into Lanyan City with the group. All along the wide avenues before them were a multitude of shops. The savory smell of meat buns wafted through the air. Lin Mu Yu’s stomach grumbled softly, causing Chu Yao to chuckle, “Hungry?”
“Yeah.” He nodded in embarrassment, “Those buns smell really good!”
Chu Yao laughed, “Don’t worry. Let’s wait until we get to White Cloud Inn.”
Luolet laughed as well, “If you’re talking about buns, then the best buns in Lanyan City will have to be those Yin flower beef-buns from White Cloud Inn. You two will probably get to taste some later. The General will probably come around to see you guys later tonight, so I’ll just help you settle down first.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you, Commander Luolet.”
“No problem. You guys are the General’s friends, so you are my friends too.”
A short while later, the entourage arrived at White Cloud Inn. This was a three-floor guest house. Although it did not look very luxurious, it was probably good enough. At the very least, the savory smell of meat was enough to attract Lin Mu Yu’s attention.
Luolet arranged two adjacent rooms for them. He then fished out a gold coin and invited the two to eat heartily.
Not long after, two bamboo baskets of buns arrived, along with various complementary seasonings.
When Lin Mu Yu opened the bamboo cage, the savory smell of the buns nearly sent him to heaven. Picking up one of the pure white buns, he was able to see the faint purple petals that emitted their special aroma. The smell of the delicious looking beef did not clash with the flower’s aroma. Instead, the two smells complemented one another spectacularly.
Luolet smiled as he explained, “The purple petals are the Purple Yin flower, the Imperial flower. This kind of flower can be used in herbology, but can also be used in cooking to serve a relaxation effect. All of the beef here are first-rate loathe beef, so it is fresh and tender. Give it a try!”
Lin Mu Yu bit down without any hints of hesitation. Almost instantly, he felt as if he had reached paradise. He fell in love with those buns after a single bite, so much so that he immediately gobbled down a single basket by himself. In contrast, Chu Yao was far more reserved in her eating manner. She wasn’t going to pig out like Lin Mu Yu, but it was true that Lin Mu Yu definitely exhausted more of his stamina in the last few days.
After stuffing themselves to the brim, they waited with Luolet for Feng Ji Xing’s arrival.
The problem was that they waited until the sun had set, but he still didn’t show. The sky was already completely dark before a single man arrived energetically. He was an extremely handsome youth dressed in a suit of black clothes. He easily leapt onto the second floor with a single jump. Looking around anxiously, he called out, “Ah Yao… Ah Yao…”
Chu Yao shook when she hear this voice. Immediately turning around to look the intruder in the face, tears streamed out of her eyes, “Older brother…”
The intruder was Chu Yao’s older brother, Chu Huai Dian!
With tears raining down her face, Chu Yao threw herself into Chu Huai Dian’s embrace as she unceasingly struck his shoulder with her fists. Her cultivation was not very low at this point, so the strength of her punches was extra powerful because of her anger. However, Chu Huai Dian did not channel his energy to defend himself, instead choosing to let his sister beat down on him.
“Why didn’t you go back to Silver Fir City?”
When Chu Yao finally tired herself out, she looked at her brother with tear-filled eyes and asked. “Did you know grandpa had died from bad people’s schemes? To think you hid here instead of going back home… What kind of brother are you?”
Chu Huai Dian’s eyes were bloodshot, but he didn’t cry. He clenched his fist and supported Chu Yao with his hand, “Ah Yao, I’m sorry… I had lost myself in cultivation and self-training here at the Capital. I couldn’t have imagined that so much would happen in Silver Fir, and I never would have thought that grandpa would die like this… I have no right to face you guys… Ah Yao, don’t cry. Don’t cry because I will always be by your side from now on…”
Instead of stopping, Chu Yao’s sobbing became more intense.
It wasn’t until later that Chu Yao finally calmed down and brushed away the tears on her face. Grabbing Lin Mu Yu’s hand, she turned to Chu Huai Dian, “Older brother, let me introduce you to someone. This is Ah Yu, a disciple that grandpa had taken in recently, but he is really talented. Were it not for Ah Yu, I probably wouldn’t be alive here and talking to you.”
Chu Huai Dian looked at Lin Mu Yu with hints of gratitude in his eyes. With slight suspicion in his tone, he asked, “Ah Yu, it must have been hard on you for the whole journey from Silver Fir to Lanyan City… But, it is really true that Ye Liang, Guan Yang, and the other Seven Martial Saints died at your hands? You don’t look like…”
Lin Mu Yu knew what he wanted to say, “I don’t look very strong, am I right?”
“Yeah…” An embarrassed expression appeared on Chu Huai Dian’s face, as if he knew that he was being rude with a question like that.
Though Lin Mu Yu didn’t seem to mind, “I had been using stealth weapons and poisons on the whole way. I used whatever I can to survive up to this point, so you can understand now, right?”
Chu Huai Dian nodded and patted Lin Mu Yu’s shoulder, “That’s enough, I understand. Thank you for giving your all.”
“It’s nothing.” Thinking back to the time when his lung was pierced by an arrow and the subsequent near-death experiences, Lin Mu Yu couldn’t help but secretly feel scared. Living is truly great.
At that moment, footsteps were heard ascending the stairs. The especially sturdy steps were accompanied by a flurry of white. Dressed in his white robe, Feng Ji Xing had finally arrived!
Chu Huai Dian grabbed his fist and saluted. Smiling, he said, “Brother Feng, thank you. Your favor is not one I can return with mere words!”
“Oh, you finally realized it?”
Feng Ji Xing had a teasing look on his face, “Brother Chu, you’re truly a heartless bastard. How could you leave such a fresh and pretty sister alone in a faraway place like Silver Fir? If I was in your shoes, I would have brought her to the Capital a long time ago. Since I did you such a huge favor this time, you can at least treat me to a good time over at Rain Listener’s bar.”
Chu Huai Dian’s face showed slight discomfort, “I heard that just drinking there will cost at least 20 gold Yin… That’s too luxurious. Let’s just eat here at White Cloud Inn…”
“Hey, I only have a monthly salary of 10 gold Yin, so how can I compare to you, the Chief Commander of the Forbidden Army and a true second level General of the National Guard?”
“Haha, what are you saying all that for! Let’s go downstair and have a good drink!”
With Chu Huai Dian as the host, the group arranged a table down at the eatery. Feng Ji Xing, Lin Mu Yu, and everyone else crowded around a single table. Chu Yao’s mood finally turned for the better and she finally started eating. After the last few days in Dragon Seeker Forest and Seven Star Forest, Lin Mu Yu didn’t have a chance to eat well, so he naturally ate heartily.
When the alcohol had been passed around for the third round, Chu Huai Dian turned to look at Lin Mu Yu. Lin Mu Yu instantly knew something was up, but there was no way around it.
“Ah Yu, I heard that your cultivation isn’t too shabby. How about we spar for a bit after we’re done drinking?”
Lin Mu Yu’s chest tightened. Those who could become the Emperor’s bodyguards definitely would not be weak. Since Chu Huai Dian could stand among the 200 Imperial Guards, this could be a good chance to learn directly from a bit of sparring.
Chu Huai Dian was a martial art fanatic, so he naturally couldn’t let a good opponent like Lin Mu Yu go. This was the reason why he could become such good friends with Feng Ji Xing in the first place.