Nameless Immortal Chapter 48 (Book 2)

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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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Chapter 30
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

     

     

  • Chapter 31
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Chapter 32
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

     

     

  • Chapter 33
    Spoiler:

    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?

     

     

  • Chapter 34
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

  • Chapter 35
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Chapter 36
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

     

  • Chapter 37
    Spoiler:

    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.

  • Chapter 38
    Spoiler:

    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.

     

  • Chapter 39
    Spoiler:

    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.

  • Chapter 40
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 40 They are on a Highway to Hell

    The set-up was the same as the one located in Sin City, but this one was a bit wider. Cells with wooden doors lined up on both sides of the underground hallway. Hans opened them one by one and put a girl in each cell.

    The girls were whimpering and curled themselves up when they entered their respective ‘rooms’. Hans did not care and led Eznho at the end of the hallway, unlike before, this one had two doors. It was obviously for the father and son.

    Hans knocked the door on the right and waited for a response.

    “Come in,” Butchog’s voice came from inside filled with excitement.

    He opened the door showing a dimly lit room, an incense was producing smoke bringing a strong aroma that was too strong making him wrinkle his nose. A bed was located at the center covered with thin curtains. Butchog’s silhouette was inside holding a cup of wine.

    Eznho was not moved but from the corner of his eyes, he saw an unmoving naked young girl laying down on the cold floor. It was undetermined if she was dead or alive, this added to Eznho’s anger.

    This perverted bastard!

    “Bring her here and tie her up, I want to see how long can she last,” Butchog instructed.

    Hans brought a rope from the side and tied Eznho’s feet and hands. He then carried ‘her’ and put him down on the bed, it was soft but it smelled weird, a combination of all sorts of smell. If one has a weak stomach, he would vomit.

    “Good, now bring out that girl and dispose of her, she’s too boring,”

    He gulped down his wine then threw the cup on the floor. Hans was used to this scene so he was not disturbed at all, carrying the girl, he closed the door and left the two in inside the room.

    “Let’s start the party shall we,”

    Butchog spoke with great enthusiasm and showed a disgusting face. He rolled over with his fat body and sat on top of Eznho’s stomach. Sweat and oily secretions were coming out of his body fold giving him a sickening look.

    “Yehahaha, who’s your daddy now?”

    Pak!

    He maniacally laughed then slapped Eznho’s face and put his hand all over Eznho’s body making him tremble in humiliation.

    “Come on, show me more! Show me that feisty attitude of yours, hahaha.” He continued to do the same things and kept on slapping Eznho.

    Eznho, on the other hand, was trying his best to suppress his rage. He was waiting for time to pass by and estimated when Hans would exit the basement. His eyes were already becoming red.

    “Yehahaha, that’s more I like it, what I want most is taming wild little girls like you,”

    Butchog seemed to be in a trance and his face looked like he was in ecstasy, he even started to drool.

    Damn it all!

    Eznho could not contain it any longer and circulated his energy in full force breaking the formation immediately, revealing his true appearance.

    “Eh?”

    Butchog who was having the time of his life was jolted back to reality. The girl he was intoxicated with suddenly became a boy.

    “What the hell? Who are-“

    Before he could finish his question, Eznho snapped the ropes and moved his body making Butchog roll on the other side of the bed. He jumped and sat on top of the fat man while making him tremble in fear.

    “You sick bastard! You are a disease that needs to be irradicated!”

    “Wai-“ Butchog clung to life but it was no use.

    Eznho let out his fury then using his left hand he reached out for the jade hairpin holding his hair. Butchog knew what Eznho wanted to do and started to struggle but it was no use.

    “Burn in hell!”

    Eznho spoke hoarsely and stabbed the space between Butchog’s clavicle. Blood spurted out when he retracted the hairpin. Butchog’s eyes widened and tried to stop the bleeding with his hands.

    “Glurrggg!”

    He wanted to speak but instead of a voice, blood came out of his mouth. Eznho was not yet satisfied, he was still seething with anger so he stabbed the fat man’s body multiple times making blood splash on him.

    “Haaa, Haaa,”

    After stabbing the man for more than twenty times, he stopped and looked around. Blood stained the curtains while the bed was soaked with it. Butchog’s wounds were still oozing with blood when he finally calmed down after a while.

    “Damn, I forgot to ask about the girl,” His mind became clear again and finally remembered his mission.

    Wait, there is another door on the left.

    He was feeling frustrated when he remembered that there were two doors. He looked at Butchog’s body again and even spat on it, he was really disgusted.

    “Serves you right,” He spoke with disdain.

    A basin of water was on the table so he washed his bloody face, after that, he slowly walked towards the door and tried to listen. He could faintly hear the whimper of the girls but aside from that, there was nothing.

    He silently opened the door and only saw the dim hallway. Confirming that there was no guard, he walked out the door then closed it again. He then turned and went in front of the other door and slowly opened it.

    .....

    “Hey, Blue? Yohoo! Your knight has come back, are you ready for another round?”

    Taba was happily walking towards a naked young girl who was tied up on the bedside. Her back and several parts of her body were riddled with scars due to knife wounds, one could only imagine the pain and suffering she felt.

    “Come on now, don’t be rude and greet your knight in shining armor,”

    Taba spoke as if he was a husband coming home to his wife, he walked towards the girl and held her chin up.

    “Look at you, you are more beautiful than ever,” He spoke with sarcasm as he laughed in delight.

    The face of the young girl was also filled with scars with different sizes. Her face now was far from the young cheerful girl Eznho met a couple of years ago. Her eyes now were lifeless, it was like her soul left her fleshly body.

    She has been suffering from Taba’s hands ever since they came to Red Sparrow City. Never in her imagination that they would do something like this. At first, she was stubborn and showed resistance, she was hopeful that her father would rescue her.

    But as time went by, the suffering became unbearable, she could not take it anymore so she just shut her senses and let Taba do whatever he wanted. Every time she was cut, Taba would apply medicine to her wound and the cycle repeated for days.

    “You’re giving up already? Where is that stubborn attitude of yours? You think you can just reject me? Hmph!” Taba looked at her and shook his head.

    “Nobody will love you now except me, sigh, too bad, you can’t see how awesome I am. Blue, oh, Blue, if you only accepted my feelings from the start, this would not have happened,”

    He started walking towards one of the tables and took the knife on top of it.

    “Are you ready Blue? It’s time for you to feel my love again,”

    He was walking towards the girl when the door slowly opened.

    Creak!

    “Who is it? I told you not to disturb me during my-“

    He was dissatisfied with the disturbance but stopped speaking when he saw who opened the door.

    “Who are-“

    Shock and fear overwhelmed him, a boy was standing by the door but he was wearing a pink dress, it was rather comical if not for the blood and the scary look on his face. His eyes were so cold, Taba could feel his body shivering.

    He could not even recognize Eznho due to panic and pointed his knife towards him. Shouting would do nothing either, the basement was isolated by a formation for privacy reasons. Never could he imagine that this place would be infiltrated. After all, a mid-stage Halo cultivator was guarding outside.

    “Do-don’t come near me or I-I will kill you!”

    Despite his cowardice, he tried to show courage when Eznho started walking towards him while he slowly backed-up.

    “Damn you!”

    His body was shivering non-stop but he forced himself and actually rushed forward and slashed his knife. Of course, it was no use, Eznho easily dodged sideways and lifted his foot then hit Taba’s stomach with his knee.

    “Blerggghh!”

    Taba vomited fluids due to the impact, he let go of his knife while he fell down the floor. His body curled like a shrimp and both his hands were holding his stomach. Eznho just looked at him apathetically then kicked him hard making Taba crash on the table. Bones were broken and his head was bleeding, he was barely hanging onto his consciousness.

    Eznho shifted his attention to the naked young girl and felt pity, she walked towards her while feeling sorrowful for her.

    Sigh!

    “I am here to rescue you, don’t worry you are safe now,”

    Eznho tried to speak with her and untied the rope, he could see the scar-filled body and face. He could still remember the energetic girl he met years ago, compared to that, the girl in front of him was a puppet. He looked around and saw a fur coat and used it to cover her.

    “Let’s go, can you walk?”

    He still tried to initiate communication, to his surprise, the girl slightly nodded.

    “Okay, let us go,”

    The girl weakly walked while Eznho assisted her, but a while later she stopped in front of the knife that had fallen earlier and slowly picked it up. Eznho was surprised but did not stop her, he had an idea what she wanted to do. In fact, deep inside he wanted her to do it, it would be a form of release for her. Few people would move on with their lives without obtaining revenge.

    “Wha-what do you think you’re doing?”

    Taba weakly spoke while dragging himself away from the girl, she even stumbled in front of him. While down on the floor, she raised her hand and stabbed the knife of Taba’s foot.

    “Eeyaahh!” Taba squealed like a dying pig.

    “Huff, huff, you think you can get away with this? You and your families are both dead!”

    His consciousness was fully awakened due to the pain and even had the time to threaten. To his disappointment, the two people in front of him did not even show a reaction. Blue slowly stood up and moved closer to Taba.

    “Stay away from me, you bitch!”

    Taba was scared stiff and he started to sob while snot came out of his nose mixing with his tears and blood. Blue ignored him and sat on top of him, he could not shake her off due to his previous injuries so he was easily subdued by her.

    A creepy smile formed on Blue’s face and stabbed his shoulder joint and twisted it making him scream in agony.

    “Pleasssh, stop, I’m sorry, pleassshh stop,”

    Taba was begging with a pitiful appearance and was still trying to cling to life despite his hopeless situation. Blue ignored his pleadings and pulled out the knife then pointed it at his chest and slowly pushed it making blood flow. She then started to slice Taba’s chest.

    “Eaahhhh!”

    Taba could not handle the pain and wailed with great intensity. He continued to cry as more and more wounds were being cut into his skin and face. His cries became hoarse after minutes of screaming.

    “You miserable pig, no, pigs are even better than you. You are simply a demon in a human form,”

    Blue started to sob and with all her strength she started to stab Taba’s chest and even his face. It was a gory scene, Eznho who was watching from the side sighed and held the girl’s hand to stop her.

    “He’s already dead, no need to waste any more effort on him,”

    He could not deny the fact that the fat kid deserved what he got but stabbing a dead body would only be a waste of energy. She already vented enough and this would at least alleviate the burden she feels.

    “Please kill me,”

    Blue continued to sob and looked at Eznho with eyes full of shame and sorrow. One could only imagine what she feels right now, she was tortured and humiliated for days. Eznho’s heart twitched but did not let his emotion get the better out of him.

    “No, you decide what to do with yourself after we get out of here. I understand how you feel but you still have a family right? I am sure they are waiting for you to come home. No matter what happened to you, they will welcome with open arms, that I am sure,”

    He tried to console her and got the knife out of her hand while the girl continued to cry.

    “Let’s go, we don’t have much time,”

    Blue slowly got up then wobbled and fell down uncontrollably but Eznho caught her in time. She had lost consciousness due to exhaustion, mind and body. He just shook his head and carried her while she was covered with a fur coat.

     

     

  • Chapter 41
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 41 Mission Accomplished

    Enzho walked through the hallway with blood dripping from him and Blue while whimpers echoed making the place eerie. He found a stool and laid down Blue carefully, making sure not to hurt her in any way. Looking at the closed doors, he began breaking the locks one by one. The girls were scared by his appearance but he reassured them and told them that he was here to help.

    He released nine girls in total, the same girls he was with before. They somewhat recognized the dress but was confused because the body inside was a boy instead of a girl. Eznho felt their strange gaze but did not bother to explain.

    “Alright, wait here first, okay? I’ll check things outside first.”

    The girls nodded in response and gathered around Blue who was still unconscious. They felt pity and fear at the same time when they looked at her horrible appearance.

    Will that be our future?

    Everyone thought the same thing and looked at Eznho who was carefully ascending the stairs, their eyes full of hope. Nobody wanted to end up like the unconscious girl.

    .....

    Eznho reached the black door and tried to listen, he narrowed his eyes and concentrated but he couldn’t hear a thing. Taking a gamble, he opened the door very slowly but was surprised by what he saw.

    Two guards were lying on the floor, he was unable to determine whether they were dead or alive. He had a suspecting look but carefully approached them. Using the tip of the knife, he tried to poke one of them but met with no response. He checked again and found out that they were still alive.

    Was it senior Talong?

    He could not think of any other reason because Talong promised that he would assist him in his escape. Looking carefully, he recognized Hans, he wanted to kill the man but a thought occurred to him. If he would kill Hans, people might suspect why he was the only guard who died which might possibly lead to him so he let go of the idea. He was not a naive young boy anymore, he had more or less had his own fair share of experiences.

    Next time,

    Ignoring the guards, he checked his surroundings but nobody seemed to be patrolling the area so he went back to the basement and picked up the girls. Carrying Blue, they slowly followed the path they took before, more unconscious guards showed up. Eznho was thankful, it would have been impossible for them to escape if those guards were awake.

    They reached the door that leads to the outside after nearly half an hour of tip-toed walking. He opened the door carefully again just for precaution and was frightened when he saw a cloaked person waiting outside. His face was covered, he could only tell that it was a man.

    “It’s me,” The cloaked person spoke in a relaxed manner.

    “Senior T-“

    He was about to say his name when the man raised his index finger indicating him to stop talking. Eznho got the message and smiled apologetically. The girls followed outside and were also surprised upon seeing the cloaked person but Eznho told them not to worry.

    Realizing that the mission is nearly done, Eznho had a complicated look on his face. He was conflicted on what to do with the girls, he could not take them in even if he wanted to. It would certainly lead to disaster.

    “Thank you, benefactor, for saving us, you don’t have to worry about us. I know we were just rescued due to that poor girl. May I know benefactor’s name?”

    One of the girls gathered all her courage and spoke. Her sparkling brown eyes showed intelligence, despite what happened she was able to compose herself.

    “I’m sorry, I can’t,” Eznho answered her with a helpless smile.

    “I understand, my name is Vilma, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

    The girl understood Eznho’s predicament so he committed his face to the depth of her soul. She would never forget the face of the boy who saved him.

    Talong waved his hand and small rays of light entered the girls’ forehead making their eyes blank.

    “Let’s go,” Talong was not moved in any way and held Eznho’s shoulder. They disappeared in a flash.

    The girls were still standing but after a while, they regained their consciousness. They showed confused expressions but Vilma took the lead and urged the girls to get out of the place.

    .....

    A few seconds later, the trio appeared in a courtyard. Eznho felt dizzy then immediately tossed Blue to Talong and actually vomited, it took awhile before he composed himself and observed his surroundings. Talong waved his hand at the same time and sealed the place for the time being.

    “Eh? I am home?”

    The place looked familiar, after confirming that he was really at home, he looked at Talong. He did not know what he did to the girls but he was sure Talong did not hurt them.

    “What now, senior Talong?”

    “Good job on your mission, you now sort of understand the limits of what you can do. It is okay to give a helping hand to others when you can but do not go to the extent that it will threaten your life. I am not saying that you become a cold person, a human without emotion is no longer a human. This is just how the world works.”

    Talong showed his approval on Eznho’s performance, he was actually observing the whole time.

    “What happens to them now?” Eznho was still worried about them.

    “Who knows? At least they would not suffer like this little girl. Let’s just leave it up to fate,”

    Talong answered shaking his head while looking at the poor unconscious girl.

    “Alright, it is time for us to part little boy. This is your reward, every mission has its reward you know.”

    He grinned and tossed three items, one brown card and two nine-inched curved daggers. The daggers were simply designed but it was obvious that it was made from better materials than the previous weapons Eznho had used.

    “You know how to use the bank card, don’t you? As for the daggers, they are low-grade magical weapons. You can only utilize them properly once you reach the Halo Stage. I won’t give you a precious material as it will only attract trouble. It's better for you to seek one on your own.”

    Eznho caught the items and bowed.

    “Thank you, senior,”

    “No need for that, as I have said, every mission has its reward,” Talong responded nonchalantly.

    “Alright, take this,” He gave another item to Eznho.

    It was a round badge with an engraving of a horseshoe in the middle. One the top arch, ‘red’ was written while at the bottom was ‘horse’. Eznho had a guess on what this is, it must be a symbol of a group where Talong belongs.

    “When you reach Mercenary City in the future, you can find me using that badge. Do not even attempt to go find me without reaching the Seeker Stage. Alright, this is farewell, little boy, let’s drink when we meet next time. Also, educate yourself, you still do not know many things about the outside world. One last thing, don’t even bother to come if you are past twenty years old and still had not become a Seeker Stage Cultivator.”

    Feeling that Talong is about to leave Eznho still had a lot of questions.

    “Wait-“

    “Little boy, there are questions you have to find the answer for yourself. As for the siblings, I can only tell you that they have a great background, as for whether it would be a blessing or a disaster, that would depend on your luck. I almost forgot, hide your ring and never show it to anybody else, it would only bring you disaster.”

    Talong spoke without letting Eznho interrupt and just disappeared in a flash. Eznho just stood there in silence unable to process all the information he just received. The parting was too soon, he could only sigh in regret.

    “Is that you big brother?”

    Budoy’s voice came from a corner. He was waiting the whole time for Eznho and let the girls sleep. It was dark and he could only see a silhouette so he was cautious and even had a dagger concealed on his back.

    “It’s me Budoy, why are you still up?”

    Eznho put the issue at the back of his mind and walked out into the light startling Budoy.

    “What happened? Are you alright?”

    Budoy almost jumped in fright when he saw Eznho’s bloody appearance who was still wearing the pink dress.

    “Ah? This? I’m alright, it’s not my blood,” Eznho grinned and reassured Budoy.

    “Who’s is it?” He blurted out.

    “Evil people who deserve to die,” Eznho answered vaguely.

    “Okay, you should take a bath before aunt Minchin or little Aiza will see you,” Budoy did not ask further about the details. All he cared about was Eznho’s safety at the moment.

    “Great idea, you should go sleep now, no need to worry about me,” Eznho grinned and patted Budoy’s shoulder then went to take a bath.

    .....

    After washing himself up he put in new clothes while the pink dress dissipated on its own, it was a separate formation so it only vanished when the energy maintaining it ran out. He did not go to sleep and cultivated instead to clear his mind and make a plan for the future. As for all his questions, all would be answered in due time.

    According to Talong, there is only a small chance that the death of the father and son would be traced back to him. Even so, he had to make preparations just in case.

    .....

    The inner district, a small mountain was wholly occupied by the River Clan.

    A young man was meditating inside a hall, in front of him were hundreds of life tablets. On the very top was a single life tablet, it was the life tablet of their ancestor, below it was the life tablets of the direct descendants followed by another series of life tablets. The lower the placement of the life tablet was, the lower the status in the family. Of course, the family had thousands of members but not everyone had the right to place his or her life tablet in the hall.

    Crack!

    A sound he had not heard in a long time passed through his ears. He was one of the caretakers here and life tablets rarely broke, and when it does most of it were on the bottom so he subconsciously looked at the bottom part.

    “Huh?”

    He was surprised when he did not see any broken tablet and started to look upwards and to his horror, the broken tablet belonged to the direct descendants just below the ancestor.

    Shit! What kind of bad luck is this?

    He started to sweat bullets and was speechless for a long time, he heard rumors that the ancestor was attempting a breakthrough and if he were to report now it might have an effect, directly or indirectly.

    “I should just report it to the elder,”

    He gritted his teeth and sent a message through the message talisman. A couple of minutes later, an old man came through the door with a gloomy face.

    “Which tablet was it?”

    “Bong greets elder, it was lord Butchog’s life tablet,” The young man greeted with respect and answered nervously.

    A trace of relief showed in the elder’s face but the young man did not see it.

    It’s not as bad as it seems, although he is a direct and a pampered descendant. His death would not impact the clan’s future.

    The elder did not have a good relationship with Butchog, in his point of view, he was just a wastrel and was a disgrace to the family including his son who nearly brought a calamity to the clan years ago. Of course, despite his disapproval, he did not show it in public because both Butchog and his son were pampered by his father and brother.

    “I’ll report it...”

    Crack!

    Before he could finish his sentence another tablet broke apart, it was the life tablet of Taba.

    Crap! What in the world happened?

    This time, he also had a bad feeling and even got nervous. The father and son maybe wastrels but they were still direct descendants.

    “Stay here and update me if anything happens,”

    He scowled and ordered Bong making him nod in succession. Wasting no time, he dashed and went to a secret location where the ancestor would attempt his breakthrough.

    .....

    Inside a hidden location in the property of the River Clan, the grand elder, elders, Killboy and the current clan leader were seated in a lotus position. They were guarding a door, this wooden door was carved with a flowing river, it was the entrance to the pocket realm of the family. It is where their valued treasures were stored and a place to be used when someone important in the family where about to make a breakthrough.

    Bang!

    The door suddenly opened making everyone open their eyes.

    “What is it elder John? You should be in charge of the affairs outside. You know this is an important event.”

    The clan leader spoke with a displeased tone.

    “Sorry for the intrusion everyone, I have an urgent matter to report,” Elder John spoke hastily.

    “Speak,” The clan leader spoke with a commanding tone that brought a pressure making elder John nervous.

    “Earlier the one in charge of the life tablet hall reported that a direct descendant’s tablet had broken and...”

    Before he could finish his speech, Killboy’s pupil shrunk and interrupted the elder.

    “Who’s life tablet was it?” He immediately asked because the first thing that came to his mind was his son who was studying at the Royal Academy.

    “It was lord Butchog and young lord Taba,” Elder John spoke with fear, he may be an elder but he was at the lowest rank due to his cultivation.

    “What!!?? Say that again!” This time, it was the clan leader who spoke with disbelief and stood up.

     

     

  • Chapter 42
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 42 Report

    The clan leader was a healthy middle-aged man with a short beard and a mustache. His long hair was simply tied on his back, he may look middle-aged but he was already over two-hundred years old and was only half-a-step from forming his dao.

    Forming the dao invites a heavenly tribulation that may result in death that is why he has been delaying it in order to increase his chance of succeeding. Besides, he still got time because cultivators at the Seeker stage can live up to five hundred years depending on the circumstances. His name was Zander River.

    Despite his calm demeanor, the sudden news of the death of his son and grandson brought him a great shock. His body flickered and arrived in front of Elder John making him stumble on his butt.

    “Tell me exactly what happened?”

    Elder John stood up and reported every detail, the others were also surprised by the news but did not overreact. They had the same ill feelings towards the father and son. But of course, they could not just let this matter go, they were still a direct descendant after all.

    “Father, let me go investigate,” Killboy stood up and spoke with a serious expression.

    His brother and nephew may not have been good people but they were still his family and he loved them.

    “No, this is not the time, we have to stay here and guard father,” Zander took a deep breath and did not let emotions cloud his judgement.

    “Elder John, go investigate, I want the full details as soon as possible,”

    “I will go immediately,” Elder John bowed and immediately headed to the middle district without delay.

    “Killboy, I know how you feel but father’s breakthrough is more important. We will fully investigate what happened after all this is done,” Zander patted Killboy’s shoulder and went back to his spot to adjust his mindset.

    “Yes, father,” Killboy acknowledged and did the same.

    The others did not comment and just watched from the sidelines. The final decision would be made after the ancestor’s breakthrough.

    .....

    Batista, Wilky and Wilfred were staying at an inn inside the middle district. They were feeling jumpy since it was almost a month after Wilky contacted the Black Crows member, especially for Batista who was walking to and fro. He could not even sleep properly for the past days.

    “Brother Wilky, are you sure that the man you spoke with will succeed?”

    “Brother, I don’t know how they work but according to reports, they rarely fail on their mission. I even think that they have the ability wipe the River family from the surface of the earth if they wanted to. We still have time to wait, if the worst scenario happens and he fails, hmph! Who cares about the rules.”

    Wilky had a determined look, which made Batista feel warm inside. Wilky would go side by side with Batista when he would force his way in. But for now, he was still hoping that that event would not come to fruition as it will surely create a big mess which could lead to their banishment from the military or worse, execution.

    “Thank you, brother, I owe you big time,”

    Batista spoke in a gratified manner.

    “Stop talking like that – who’s there?”

    The trio became alert and got ready for battle, they were staring at the corner of the room where the light could not reach creating a shadow. A second ago, they felt their spine tingle, it was a subconscious reaction born from hundreds of battles they fought. Cold sweat was starting to form on their back, they felt that a beast was hiding in the shadows ready to devour them at any moment.

    A figure came out concealed by a cloak, he was carrying a little girl with him covered with a fur coat.

    “Blue!?”

    Batista blurted out when he saw the little girl, he started to get agitated and wanted to rush to get to her but his senses told him that the man who was carrying his daughter was dangerous.

    To his surprise, Blue started to float towards him. He calmed himself down and started to walk slowly to meet his daughter. Upon looking at his daughter’s face, his pupils shrunk and he started to tremble all over.

    “Blue, What happened to you?” His voice was cracking and he hugged his daughter tightly.

    “I am so sorry, your father is useless, forgive me my little Blue.” He started to cry uncontrollably when he saw his daughter’s condition. His heart was wracked with pain as if it was being stabbed multiple times.

    Her face was riddled with scars, but unlike before, they were wiggling like worms and started to heal and disappear slowly.

    “I already put medicine on her. Let her rest and she will be okay. If she is able to pass this ordeal...”

    The man in cloak spoke in a hoarse voice but did not continue and started to walk back in the shadows.

    “Thank you, senior,” Batista looked at the departing figure and spoke with sincerity.

    “Just repaying an old debt, I still owe one more. You can contact any member of the Black Crows near you in the same manner as before.”

    The hoarse voice faded and disappeared. Wilky and Wilfred were on guard the whole time, ready to take action if anything suspicious happened. They only let out a breath of relief when the man disappeared.

    “What does he mean ‘debt’?”

    Wilfred had a confused look and asked Wilky.

    “It is a long story, first we should take care of little Blue first,”

    Wilky grinned and went to look at Blue and had the same reaction as Batista. The trio scanned her and found out that her body was full of old wounds that were healing which made them tremble in fury. They wanted to attack immediately but their priority now was to make sure the girl was okay.

    “Butchog, just you wait, I’ll make sure you repay this a thousand times,”

    Batista was gritting his teeth while watching her daughter who was resting on a bed.

    .....

    Elder John rushed to the middle district after receiving the order. He directly entered the residence of Butchog and found out that everyone was unconscious. Without delay, he went to the basement and found the father and son’s corpse. His face was uncomfortable despite his experiences, their body were mutilated badly. It was obvious that the person who killed them were filled with hate.

    “What a mess...”

    He shook his head, covered the corpses with cloth and stored them in his spatial ring. After collecting their corpses, he went to a room where Joey was located. Joey was at the late stage of the Halo Realm and was assigned to watch over Taba and Butchog. Elder John used his means but still could not awaken the unconscious Joey.

    Leaving him no choice, he carried him on his back and went back to the inner district without delay to report what he saw.

    .....

    Talong went back to Batawa Restaurant and continued to drink alone. He finished everything he needed to do here and was ready to depart for Mercenary City.

    A pity, they did not give me the mission to further pursue the holder of the golden core. This trip took a lot of turns and even gave me entertainment.

    The mission was given by the city lord of Red Sparrow City, sadly it did not go as Talong wanted.

    Times are changing, peaceful times are over and chaos is starting again. I hope that that kid survives, also, that little girl, if she will get over this trial, it will give her a lot of benefits. Ahh, the spring of youth, how envious.

    He gulped another cup and continued to watch the street like before.

    .....

    The next day, Eznho and the group ate breakfast with a happy atmosphere. After that, he went to the bank with Minchin and made her the owner of the brown card which contained five thousand gold coins. Minchin refused at first but Eznho insisted, his reason is that he may go in and out of the city in the coming days so she had to manage everything. Naturally, she could not decline any more.

    Eznho and Budoy were sipping tea in the open courtyard under the shade of a tree. It was time for them to plan their next course of action on how to maintain their footing inside the district.

    “Any luck?” Eznho directly inquired.

    “So far, I have gotten a lot of information, of course, sensitive topics are not that easy to obtain,” Budoy answered with a proud face and started to summarize the information.

    “As you requested, I have inquired around about how people obtained money and apparently the most common for cultivators to do is become a mercenary and complete missions to obtain rewards. Being a mercenary, you can generally do any mission that is available like escorting a caravan and the like. Of course, missions available for you would depend on your rank, the lowest is rank E, as for the highest, I have no idea, maybe A?”

    Budoy scratched his head while grinning.

    “You can also become a specialist, for example, a bounty hunter, a medicine collector, a treasure hunter, a dungeon guide, and many others. Specialists are especially sought after by clients when they want something specific to be done. They can also be considered mercenaries, just with specific skills, and of course, a badge is needed as a proof of it which can be obtained in any mercenary branch. Accordingly, their headquarters is the Mercenary City which is located far up north in the middle of the continent. As for the distance, I have no idea.”

    Hmm?

    Eznho was surprised when he heard Mercenary City.

    Was he a mercenary? A specialist?

    He thought about Talong and could not help but wonder.

    “You can become a mercenary by applying in any branch and passing a series of tests. Also, you can either go solo, form a group or join a group. Some of the missions need to be done by a group that is why mercenary groups were created and besides it is easier to finish a mission with the help of others. Well, groups also need rank, as for how they rank it, I don’t know the specifics.”

    Budoy was speaking but at the same time, his mind was wandering.

    What would it be like to travel and accomplish missions, braving dangers and saving damsels in distress?

    Eznho saw the daydreaming face of Budoy and flicked his finger to his forehead.

    “Ouch! What did you do that for, big brother?” Budoy woke up from his daze.

    “Stop dreaming and continue,” Eznho answered him with teasing smile.

    “Ah? Sorry about that,” Budoy felt embarrassed and continued the report. He flipped through the papers and stopped on a specific page.

    “Here it is, according to my investigation, the highest paying job is becoming an assassin. This job is, of course, dangerous and secretive so there is not much information about it. But every city has a branch of the Thieve’s Guild which is the mediator between a client and an assassin or an assassin group or organization. The one here in Red Sparrow City is located in the outer district, as for how to become a member, I am also in the dark.”

    Budoy obviously held fear and trepidation regarding the Thieve’s Guild. This was normal, after all, they work in the dark and were highly skilled at killing people.

    Thieve’s guild huh?

    Eznho could not help but remember Talong again, he remembered the brief moment when Talong seemed to become a sharp weapon that could kill him with just a look.

    Ah, whatever, he seemed to be a good guy, besides, it is not my business.

    After thinking for a moment, he tossed the thought at the back of his mind.

    “As for non-cultivators, they could only become servants or workers. It is rare for mortals to have wealth unless they become a merchant that could hire cultivators or have a noble lineage. For the other information, they are all here.”

    Budoy finished his report and handed out his notebook to Eznho.

    “Thank you, Budoy, you have done a great job,”

    Eznho genuinely praised Budoy, he really did work hard.

    “No big deal,” Budoy casually spoke but could not hide his proud face.

    The two continued to chat for a while about other things, they enjoyed the moment. They both knew that from this moment, it would be hard for them to have a chat like this.

    Eznho took a deep breath after reading all the reports that Budoy had written in his notebook. Half of them were miscellaneous but it did contain a great amount of important information.

    It is time for me to also forge my path.

    He could not help but feel excited and look forward to the adventures that he would have in the future.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Chapter 43
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 43 Knowledge is Power Again?

    Elder John had been rushing from the middle district to the inner district and immediately reported what he saw to the clan leader. Looking at the horrid appearance of his son and grandson, he could not help but feel pain and anguish for his loss. The others just watched from the sidelines and did not feel sympathy for the duo. Killboy, on the other hand, was gritting his teeth, he wanted to investigate immediately but was stopped again by his father.

    Zander tried to wake Joey up but failed which made him furrow his brows.

    “The one who made them unconscious made some sort of a seal on their consciousness and would eventually wake up in due time. Forcefully waking them up would end up destroying their consciousness. It is for the best if we wait for the meantime. Experts that could do this should be at least at the Dao Formation Realm.”

    Everyone sucked in cold air when they heard Zander’s assessment.

    “Clan Leader, was it them?” The Grand Elder asked.

    “I doubt that but there is a high chance that this was an attack by a highly skilled assassin, what confuses me is that why are the wounds like this?”

    Zander was wracking his brain as to why would the perpetrator would do this kind of killing. Was he some sort of a masochist? Or did the father and son offended another behemoth?

    “Let’s just wait and see after Joey wakes up. Father’s breakthrough is our priority for us to maintain our standing inside the city. Seal the news as much as possible, our next move would be decided by father,”

    Everyone agreed and nodded in response, Elder John was dismissed and went back to his assigned duty.

    .....

    Eznho woke up with great enthusiasm and was ready to go to the public library to obtain more information. He did not have anyone to teach him so he had to rely on himself to learn the things he needed to know. He did not want to burden Budoy so he decided to do the task himself.

    The library was a massive building that had three floors which was located in the inner part of the middle district. Eznho reached the place after walking for two hours and people were going in and out of the building, some were scholars while others looked like they came from a noble background.

    He entered without delay and his eyes widened with what he saw inside. Five-meter tall bookshelves were aligned inside a wide hall filled with countless books. Tables and chairs were arranged at the side for the reader to use. He took a deep breath and his nose was assaulted by the smell of wood and books. People were inside doing different things, some were reading while others were discussing things about the book they were reading.

    He went to the reception to inquire, the receptionist was an old lady with gray hair. Her face was wrinkled and had a grumpy look.

    “What do you want?” She asked in a hoarse voice.

    “Uhmm, I would like to read books,” Eznho nervously asked.

    “Are you a member?” The old lady asked while looking Eznho up and down.

    “No ma’am, this is my first time here,” He replied honestly.

    “You can pay an entrance fee and you could use the library until closing or you could be a member and can come here everytime you want without paying an entrance fee.” She spoke blandly as if she had been saying this a thousand times.

    “How much do I have to pay?” Eznho curiously asked.

    “Entrance is a hundred gold coins per day, that is just only on the first floor. The second floor is five hundred whilst the third is a thousand.” She answered.

    That much?

    Eznho was once again shocked by this absurd amount. If he came here every day, then his money would only last him for a couple of months at most.

    “What about membership?”

    “For the first floor, five thousand quarterly, thirty thousand for the second and fifty thousand for the third. Lastly, you can pay a million gold coins for a lifetime fee.” The old lady answered with a proud tone.

    The heck? What kind of library is this? A million? That might as well be the reason for my death.

    Eznho nearly fainted due to shock, he did not expect this kind of amount was needed for him to obtain information. He calmed himself down and asked another question.

    “What kind of information does the first, second and third floor contain?”

    “The first floor contains the basics about almost everything, the second one is more advanced while the third holds some important information. Now kid, hurry and decide,”

    The old lady started to get annoyed and answered vaguely.

    “Okay, I’ll pay for the first floor just for this day,”

    His heart was filled with pain as he paid the fee. He finally entered and the room which felt much wider than before. There were too many books and he had to choose what he really needed due to the time limit. The bookshelves were divided accordingly, some were for alchemy, geography, cultivation, politics, history and many others. He thought for a moment and decided to pick the topics about geography, history and cultivation. At the moment, this were the things he thought he needed the most.

    Time to start!

    He calmed his mind and decided to open the book about history and geography which is related to each other. The more he read, the more he was amazed. There were so many things he learned, he even forgot about time and finally finished after five hours of non-stop reading.

    So that’s how it is,

    Too many information entered his mind and it took him time to digest and organize it. According to what he read, a great change happened roughly a thousand years ago. Apparently, the continent they live in is named Crescent Moon Continent due to its shape. The size is so massive that only strong cultivators could travel a large part of it. The continent was divided into various parts which were controlled by different powers.

    Approximately a thousand years ago, the continent was only divided between two empires, the Thunder Clap Empire ruled the north while the Ripple Empire controlled the southern part of the continent. But a great change happened when the heavens turned dark for seven days. As for the cause, it was not written in the book which piqued Eznho’s interest. The book called it the Dark Days, the sun disappeared and the only thing that illuminated the world was the moon and the stars.

    On the eighth day, the sun rose again but chaos spread throughout the continent like a wildfire. Everyone fought for something, treasures, land, inheritance and the like. It lasted for hundreds of years. The war only stopped roughly a hundred years ago when the division of territories stabilized and the population dropped by a large degree.

    As of date, the Crescent Moon Continent was now divided differently. The northernmost part, the tundra region, became the territory of the beast race. Below it was the Thunder Clap Empire but its territory was reduced greatly and the power it holds was far weaker than before.

    The middle part of the continent was divided among myriads of sects and independent groups. After that, the territory is divided between the weakened Ripple Empire and the Alliance of Sixty Kingdoms. Below them was the Barbaric Land and the most southern part was the Southern Forest controlled again by the beast race.

    This was just the general division and as for the specifics, it was not mentioned. Eznho sucked in a deep breath when he learned about this. He could only imagine the carnage that happened when people fought and died for power. Millions or even billions of people must have died for the territories to be split like that which originally belonged to the two great empires.

    Eznho meditated for half an hour to calm himself down and started to read about cultivation. To his disappointment, most of the information he read were things he already knew. Only a small amount was added to his knowledge. He could not help but shiver when he remembered the pain he felt when he acquired such information.

    I wonder if what the second floor holds, maybe it has information about the Halo Realm.

    He looked at the stairs and decided to come back tomorrow and go to the second floor for more information. After reading other miscellaneous things, the day came to an end and he was forced to leave.

    .....

    The next day, he came back with great vigor and was ready to learn more about a lot of things. Despite the pain he felt when he paid the fee, he comforted himself by thinking about the important information he would obtain. Wasting no time, he went directly towards the second floor. To him, every second wasted was equivalent to wasting money.

    The second floor had the same size as the first floor but looked more spacious due to the lesser amount of bookshelves it contained. There were no people here aside from Eznho, he immediately looked for the same topic as before and immersed himself with it. His eyes were sparkling the whole time, he thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning about the continent and the world.

    Whoah!

    After reading for a couple of hours, he finally finished and his eyes contained more wisdom and knowledge than before. Just like before, he calmed himself down and organized the new information he obtained.

    The tundra region was ruled by the Ice Queen and her underlings which were mostly composed of beasts with the ice attribute or other elements related to it. As for the Thunder Clap Empire, it was ruled by the current emperor, Kidlat. Although weakened, the empire still has some power but was constantly on battle with the tundra region for resources.

    As for the middle part of the continent, it was divided into five parts. Northwest is being led by the Alchemy Hall, Southwest is dominated by the Blood Tavern, Northeast’s leading sect is the White Tiger Sect, Southeast is the location of Mercenary City. Lastly, the central most part was considered a neutral ground and the headquarters of the Hand of Midas.

    Hand of Midas?

    It was the first time Eznho heard this name, according to the information on the book the Hand of Midas was a bank. It is being backed by an unknown force and is the number one bank on the continent. Most of the other banks are affiliated with it.

    Going south, the Alliance of Sixty Kingdoms was formed after countless battles and the Ripple Empire was its neighbor. The Ripple Empire survived but it was much weaker than the Thunder Clap Empire so its territory was of course smaller.

    The Great Wall was constructed to separate them from the barbaric lands which was south of them. The Barbaric Land was formed by wandering cultivators or people who lost everything during the chaos. It is a chaotic place and people who dominated it changed from time to time. Most people go there to temper themselves and also was a place one has to cross if one wants to go hunt in the Southern Forest or the Green Pine Mountain range which was the border between the Barbaric Lands and the Southern Forest.

    The Southern Forest is located at the very south of the continent and is being dominated by the Jungle King. As for what type beast it is, the book did not mention anything about it.

    Phew!

    Eznho let out a breath after organizing everything.

    Never would have I thought that the place I live in is so vast and has a complicated history. Would I be able to visit all these places in my lifetime?

    Enzho mused for a moment and imagined himself traveling to distant places, braving dangers and making friends.

    Sigh, let’s not think about it for now, I can only visit places once I have enough strength.

    He let go of those thoughts and picked a book that contained information about cultivation, specifically, the Halo Realm.

    .....

    Inside a room at the territory of the River Clan, Joey started to slowly open his eyes. It was blurry at first but it gradually cleared. He was inside a simply decorated room with no one around.

    Where am I?

    Looking at the unfamiliar environment, he got confused and tried to focus himself and slowly got up. He scanned himself and let out a breath of relief when he saw that nothing was wrong. The last thing he remembered was his consciousness suddenly fading away without any warning. This made him furrow his brows.

    He was jolted back to reality when the door opened and an old man in a gray robe entered.

    “Elder John?”

    He was familiar with this old man due to him being the personal guard of Butchog so he knew almost every person in the upper ranks.

    “Good you are now awake Joey, just rest here for the meantime and wait for the summon of the clan leader,” Elder John forced a smile and answered.

    Joey could not help but get nervous, his instincts told him that something was amiss.

    “Elder John, may I know what this is all about?”

    “You don’t have to know for now. Just rest and wait for the summon,”

    Elder John went out of the room leaving that sentence lingering on Joey’s mind.

    What the hell happened?

    Joey tried to figure things out when suddenly a horrific thought came to his mind.

    Don’t tell me?

    His body shivered and just prayed to the heavens that nothing happened to the father and son he was supposed to look after.

    At the same time, inside the secret grounds of the River Clan, the clan leader and the others were still waiting for the clan ancestor’s breakthrough. Everyone waited with great anticipation coupled with nervousness.

    Suddenly, the door slowly opened and a vast amount of heavenly energy poured out making everyone feel comfortable. There were even traces of the dao of water with it. After a while, the energy dissipated and an old man came out with a satisfactory smile plastered on his wrinkled face.

     

    Note: Here's a map I drew for you,

     

     

     https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cF0nr9fYW9cV1cOqgPQxRmqn3znypOhf

  • Chapter 44
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 44 Investigate

    The old man is the oldest member of the River Clan and the son of the founding ancestor, his name is Wilad River. His eyes had a deep blue color that contained wisdom and intelligence, if you look closer, one could see an illusion that a river was circulating around them. Coupled with his long and smooth silvery white hair, he looked like a gentle old man. He was wearing a blue colored robe with a flowing river design and ripples formed with every step he took as if he was walking on water.

    “Congratulations Ancestor,”

    “Congratulations father,”

    “Congratulations grandfather,”

    Zander, Killboy and the others immediately sensed that Wilad’s cultivation had increased again and was only a step away from breaking into the next realm. This made everyone excited and knew that this would make their standing in the city more stable. After losing their founding ancestor during the war, their foundation was shaken and the only thing that held it from collapsing was the protection from the royal family due to their ancestor’s contributions and the fact that they still had Wilad, a peak Dao Formation expert.

    Wilad smiled with satisfaction when he saw the members of his clan.

    “Thank you, everyone, we can have a meeting and a celebratory banquet at a later date in the grand hall.”

    Everyone understood his meaning and departed after offering more pleasantries leaving only Zander and Killboy.

    “What happened?”

    Wilad’s eyes turned sharp and knew something was off. This made the father and son duo shiver inside, they both knew that Wilad joined his father during the war and experienced a lot of bitter battles. Despite his gentle appearance, hidden deep inside was a war veteran that could unleash a massacre when needed be.

    “Father, Taba and Butchog are both dead,” Zander went straight to the point and waved his hand to show their mutilated corpses.

    Wilad was shocked and furrowed his brows after looking at his descendant’s pitiful appearance then sighed. He then waved his hand and water covered both corpses and their wounds started to close up making them look better. From what he saw, he could tell that the killer had a lot of hatred against Taba and Butchog. He also knew how the father and son acted but despite that, he did not care much due to Killboy and his son’s presence who both showed great potential. This resulted in Taba and Butchog being pampered too much to the point that they formed unsavory tastes of pleasure.

    “Tell me what happened,”

    “Father, it’s like this...” Zander started to narrate all the details he knew and did not skip anything. Although he loved his son and grandson, he did not exaggerate and told the events as truthful as possible, aside from his fear or being caught lying, he had his own principles. He lived far too long and knew that exaggerating things might lead to disaster, especially that their foundation was still a little shaky inside the city.

    After listening, Wilad sighed again and could not hide his disappointment toward himself and his deceased descendants.

    “Perhaps we were too lenient, it could be said that this is partly our fault for pampering both of them,”

    “Father,” Zander could not refute what his father said, this was also the reason why Butchog’s wife took her life because she couldn’t bear the shame of being married to a disgusting husband.

    “Let’s go talk to Joey and ask him what happened,” Wilad suggested and the trio headed towards the main hall.

    The trio was waiting at the main hall while Wilad sat on the main throne. A while later, the door opened, Elder John and Joey walked inside then greeted in a respectful manner while half kneeling.

    “Greetings, Ancestor, Clan Leader,”

    “Rise,” Wilad commanded nonchalantly but his voice brought pressure when Elder John and Joey heard it.

    “Elder John, you may take your leave,”

    Elder John acknowledged and excused himself then closed the door. Joey was left their alone feeling all the pressure making him sweat due to nervousness.

    “Joey, tell us everything you know,” Zander spoke this time and urged Joey to spill all the beans.

    “Reporting to Ancestor and Clan Leader, after I broke through by one minor realm, master Butchog told me to keep it a secret and wait for his command. Due to the upcoming chaos at Sin City, we were asked to evacuate with the sole daughter of the city guard captain, Blue. The little girl was fancied by young master Taba but she did not like him and constantly rejected him. With this opportunity, we secretly informed the local bandits at the Hummingbird Forest about our journey. By the time we were attacked, the little girl’s guardian was busy fighting the bandit leaders and I took the opportunity to deal him a killing blow in secret. After that, the little girl was forced to take shelter with us, without his guardian, it was easy for us to take her inside master Butchog’s residence and feigned ignorance when people started to inquire about her. Young master Taba took her in the basement and after that, I did not know what he did with her. Days later, Blue’s father and his companions came knocking on the door demanding to see his daughter but were rejected by master Butchog. The trio then stayed inside the city according to our informants. The night I lost consciousness, a merchant named Alibaba came in with a new batch of young girls and was offered to master Butchog. I was meditating when they took the girls at the basement, it was around that time when suddenly I could not hold on to my consciousness despite my struggles, that was the last thing I remember.”

    Joey was nervous the whole time but was still able to tell his side of the story. Gritting his teeth, he mustered all his courage and asked the question that had been bugging him the whole time.

    “If I may ask, did something happen to master Butchog and young master Taba?”

    “They are both dead,” Zander answered in a serious manner making Joey’s pupils shrink.

    Thud!

    “I am sorry for failing my task! I tried to hold on but I just couldn’t. Please punish me for being incompetent!”

    Joey kneeled on both knees and started to kowtow while banging his head on the floor.

    “Stop, this could not be blamed on you,” Wilad waved his hand and an invisible power landed on Joey making him stand up.

    Joey was startled but did not resist, he did not even wipe his bleeding forehead.

    “Killboy, take Joey with you and go investigate this matter. Do not confront anyone, just investigate. I do not want us having anymore conflict due to them. We will decide what to do after your investigation, I am hoping for results within two days,”

    Wilad commanded and dismissed all of them leaving him alone in the main hall.

    “I have to fix everything before my lifespan runs out, sigh, this was my mistake. Father, I have failed you, I was never as talented as you to begin with.”

    Wilad mumbled while staring into the distant past, he saw the back of his father. A figure leading a legion against an opposing kingdom, clad in a golden battle armor full of dents due to countless battles. He held a spear in his right hand, standing firm like a mountain that could not be moved. Raising his spear, he shouted and lead the charge fearlessly.

    .....

    Eznho was in a trance while reading books regarding the Halo Realm. He only snapped back to reality when one of the librarians woke him up from his concentration. Being cut short made him grumpy but there was nothing he could do except leave with dissatisfaction. Despite that, he read all of the important parts and the only ones left were miscellaneous things.

    He went straight back home and had dinner with his family, after having conversations with them, he went to his room and contemplated all the things he learned.

    According to what he read, the Halo Realm was the real first step in the cultivation path, the Cleansing Stage was a far cry from it and was only considered the preparatory stage. There were many things one could do when they reach the Halo Realm such as having the ability to cast spells and skills using heavenly energy. Aside from that, one's consciousness can now come out of the body to sense the surroundings and what comes with it is heavenly energy.

    Meaning, you can now attack using heavenly energy that you have accumulated inside your dantian, albeit, with a limited distance. One of the main reasons for this was because once you enter the Halo Realm your body and soul will have a great transformation.

    As for the process, the book has described it but not in great detail – forming a halo of heavenly energy inside the dantian but of course, knowing the process is easy but doing it is another story. Aside from that, another requirement is to have a cultivation method that allows you to form the halo.

    I can only truly experience these things once I will break through to the Halo Realm. And another problem is that I don’t have any cultivation method.

    Eznho frowned but was more determined than ever, he wanted to do a lot of things but was limited by his strength. His excitement gradually subsided and he started to practice cultivation using the breathing technique he knew.

    Everything has its own time, first and foremost I have to reach the peak of the cleansing stage first before anything else.

    .....

    Killboy and Joey did not waste any time and immediately began their investigation. They started with the guards but it yielded nothing and had the same answer as Joey, they just lost consciousness out of nowhere. Making no progress with them, they went to find Alibaba but was told that he left a few of hours ago with a caravan to make another business deal at the neighboring city and did not tell when he will be back.

    With the new information they gathered, they immediately rode the fastest mount available and went to catch up with Alibaba’s caravan. Two hours later, they caught up with Alibaba,

    “Lord Killboy, how can I be of assistance? To think that an esteemed individual as yourself would tire himself out just for me,”

    Alibaba greeted them with respect but nervousness was slowly building up inside him. Ever since he found out that his servant who was investigating the siblings died mysteriously, he knew something was wrong and planned to get out of the city for the time being to avoid troubles, alas, he moved out too late and was now faced with the current situation.

    “Let’s cut the crap, Alibaba, where did you get the girls you offered to lord Butchog the other night?”

    Joey did not have the patience for pleasantries and wanted to get to the bottom of this matter and show to the clan that he was still useful.

    Alibaba was dissatisfied with the hostile attitude but did not show it.

    Che, a servant such as yourself dares to throw his weight in front of me? Hmph! Better to live a mortal and enjoy riches rather than become a cultivator but is someone else’s dog.

    “All of them have been acquired from low-class families, most of them have been sold to me and I made sure that they did not have any backings,”

    “Are you sure?” Killboy asked with narrowed eyes.

    Wait a minute, shit!

    Cold sweats ran down his spine when he remembered about that arrogant person who disappeared after selling the eye-catching girl.

    “Well,” Alibaba wanted to lie but he was afraid he would be caught.

    “I’ll ask again, are you sure?” Killboy was serious this time and emanated a pressure with a small hint of killing intent.

    Alibaba did not dare to lie after feeling the pressure that nearly made him faint.

    “There was this arrogant guy who came to my shop when I was preparing to go to lord Butchog’s residence. He came in unexpectedly and brought with him an exquisite and good looking girl, he told me her family gave her to him as a form of payment. I was skeptical but she was really a rare merchandise and I was in a rush at that time, so I bought her and offered it to lord Butchog. I told my men to investigate him, but it yielded nothing, he vanished like a smoke.”

    Alibaba told them everything he knew, except for the fact about his subordinate's death which he thought was not related to the incident at all. If only he knew...

    Killboy furrowed his brows after Alibaba narrated the events he knew, without saying anything, he rode his mount and headed back to the city. There was no point asking about anything anymore, what he needed to do next was find the missing girls and try to figure something out.

    After seeing the duo left, Alibaba let out a huge sigh of relief.

    “What a mess, I should probably stay away from that city for a while,”

    A second later, a burly middle-aged man walked towards him emanating the aura of a Halo cultivator.

    “What do we do now?” the burly man asked with a hint of amusement.

    “We continue our journey, remember not to tell anyone about Onyok’s death. Who knows what kind of monster we poked this time,”

    Alibaba answered with fear and got on his carriage leaving Limber in a daze. He was the one who found out about Onyok’s death, he could still vividly remember his face. A face full of fear and regret, the formations were never triggered and the thing that killed Onyok was his own shattered crystal ball. One could only imagine how the killing happened, with his life experiences, he knew better and did not want to have anything to do with the person behind Onyok’s death.

     

     

     

  • Chapter 45
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 45 Believe It! (Thumbs Up)

    The next day, Eznho gathered all his thoughts and formulated his plans. The first thing he needed to do was earn money while tempering and strengthening himself at the same time. The only way that would cater to his needs was to become a mercenary, most cultivators with no backing would resort to this kind of strategy, it was the only way for them to gain a footing in the cultivation world.

    Most of them end up being a mediocre cultivator or worse – dead, but of course, there were those who rose to the challenge and made a name for themselves and gained the backing of Mercenary City. The City had a considerable influence throughout the continent, of course with the large number of mercenaries, very few would gain the City’s recognition.

    Mercenary City eh?

    Eznho brought out the token Talong had given and mused.

    With senior’s strength, I wonder if what kind of influence he holds inside the so-called Mercenary City. Sigh, I can only meet him if I meet his requirements.

    Eznho put away the token and made his way towards the branch office of the Mercenary Guild – this was the overall name of all the mercenary groups throughout the continent and its headquarters was located at Mercenary City.

    There were three offices located inside the Red Sparrow City, the outer district branch office, the middle and lastly, the inner. The outer district branch handles recruitment and affairs regarding mercenaries with rank E and D while the middle district branch handles rank C and B. As for higher ranks, they were handled at the inner district branch. All of this knowledge had been gathered by the combined effort of him and Budoy.

    Eznho has a curious mind so he liked to walk and take his time while observing his surroundings. The city was busy as ever especially that spring had come early, everyone was lively. The more he observed, the more he learned about the world, it was already past noon when he arrived at the entrance of the Mercenary Guild branch office.

    The building was a little shabby and worn out, it was obvious it was not being maintained properly. People went in and out nonstop, some were in a hurry while others carried random things for their missions. A guard lazily sat beside the door, his spear even leaned against the wall, it was as if he didn’t care about his job at all.

    He was a middle-aged man with a medium build, he had sleepy eyes that could shut off any moment and would even occasionally yawn as if he was bored to death. Eznho slowly approached him and could smell the stench of alcohol from the man.

    “Excuse me, senior, I would like to become a mercenary,” Eznho spoke politely.

    “Huh?” The man looked at him for a second with his lazy eyes.

    “Go back home kid and wipe off that milk from your mouth, stop bothering me,” he waved his palms gently back and forth as if he was shooing a fly.

    Eznho’s cheek twitched but did not dare to show disrespect, he made it a habit to stay low key and endure as long as people do not cross his bottom line. He breathed out his irritation and ignored the man then entered the building.

    The middle-aged man did not care and just followed Eznho with his lazy eyes.

    “What a stubborn kid, let’s see how long you can last,”

    He let the matter evaporate from his mind and continued with his lazy posture, his head was even starting to fall.

    Eznho walked inside and saw a large hall with numerous busy people emanating different kind of auras, some were checking out the mission lists while others were queuing up in line to submit their mission reports. The hall was at least fifty meters high and with how wide it was, it could easily accommodate thousands of people at once.

    His curiosity was once again piqued and his eyes started to wander, there were quite a number of counters that accommodated different kinds of needs. Some people looked at him with cold eyes while others showed contempt but nobody bothered with him, the law was strict inside the hall and people who cause troubles were severely punished.

    It took him quite awhile to calm down and found what he was looking for, the recruitment area. There was a little more than forty people who stood in line, he composed himself and walked towards the back of the line.

    “Hey kid, we were here first, back off and get behind our back,”

    A group of three youngsters aged not more than fifteen were walking towards Eznho. They were being led by a boy dressed in a green robe with spiky hair and an arrogant face, the type of people who liked to bully others. Some people noticed and shook their heads but did not bother to interfere, this type of thing often happened.

    Eznho furrowed his brows but he backed off and let the youngsters go first before him. Feeling proud, the arrogant youngster sneered and showed him a face full of disdain and took Eznho’s previous spot followed by the other guys who ignored him as if he did not exist.

    “Good boy,” the leader commented then ignored him.

    Time flowed on and after half an hour passed without any glitch, it was Eznho’s turn. The female in the counter looked at least like a thirty-year-old woman but she still exuded the passion of a teenager. Her beauty may not be at the top but she had the charm of a fox and a look that liked to tease men. Her clothes were fitted tightly showing her perfect curves and squeezing the two watermelons resting on her chest. This made the new recruits always leave with an intoxicated look on their faces, Eznho was affected but he had a better control over his body than the others, regardless, it still took him a while before he could compose himself in front of the lady.

    “Ahem, senior, I am here to apply to become a mercenary,”

    Eznho broke the awkward position he was in and tried to look calm as much as possible. The lady smiled teasingly at Eznho with a squinted eye that made his heart beat faster and made it hard to control himself.

    “You can call me big sister Lei, what’s yours?”

    “Uhmmm, my name is Eznho,” He replied with a slight blush on his cheeks.

    “What a lonely name, want big sister to accompany you?” Lei teased again showing a sincere face.

    Eznho smiled wryly and didn’t know how to respond.

    “Think about it for some time and come back to me when who made a decision,” the woman seemed to be satisfied after looking at the speechless kid and gave him a wooden token with a number fifty engraved on it and the name Eznho at the back.

    “Take this and go at the training grounds to have yourself tested, good luck kid, big sister will cheer for you,”

    Enzho immediately took the token and bowed then left in a hurry.

    Whew, what a scary woman, I should make sure to strengthen my will to avoid being affected by others.

    Cold sweats actually ran down his back, if he stayed their any more than he should, he was not sure if he could maintain his self-control and become like the others. After a while, he adjusted his breathing and looked for the way towards the training grounds which did not take long due to the signage.

    The training ground was located at the back of the building, it was a wide patch of open land used for sparring, competitions and where tests were held for the new recruits. There were over a hundred people using it right now, some were training with dummies while others fought with each other making the others cheer in unison.

    He turned his head a couple of times and spotted familiar faces, the same people who were with him inside a while ago. He made his way towards them and stood again at the back of the line.

    Infront of the line was a wooden dummy with the shape of a man but only contained the head and the torso. Beside it was a muscular man with no upper garment showing his body that was full of hardened muscles. He looked fierce and intimidating making the new recruits shiver in fear.

    “You’re out! better luck next time and grow some muscles! Next!”

    The new recruit who failed showed a downcast expression and silently walked away without looking back with his head bowed down.

    “Start!” The muscular man shouted.

    The next recruit was a young boy about the age of fourteen, he took a deep breath and shouted making his body muscles bulge, ripping his shirt. This move made the muscular man show a nod of approval.

    The boy positioned himself in front of the dummy and gathered energy towards his right hand and punched.

    Bang!

    A loud sound like a firecracker exploding was produced and wood splinters scattered. The dummy’s chest was mangled and caved in making the other recruits gasp in admiration.

    “Passed! Next!” The muscular man shouted and produced another similar dummy. The boy who passed showed a proud look and bowed then joined the others who passed, he was the fifth one.

    The next one gritted his teeth and punched producing a ‘thud’ sound but nothing happened to the dummy making him show a look of despair.

    “Failed! Go home and plant sweet potatoes instead! Next!” The man was harsh and did not care about the boy’s feeling.

    The process continued for another half an hour and it was the boy with a spiky hair’s turn. He stood in front of the dummy and assumed a punching position. With a sharp look on his eyes, he punched with great speed,

    Bang!

    A loud sound was produced and wooden head flew in the air. Gasping sounds were heard after the head landed on the ground. The muscular man nodded in approval and made him join the others who passed making the boy walk with his nose up high. His two followers soon followed and both passed but not as spectacular as their leader.

    People were bewildered and gasped after three consecutive people passed. The dummy was set to endure attacks up to the peak level of the Cleansing Stage, therefore, making it obvious that the boy who attacked was just a step away from forming his ‘halo’.

    “Who are those three?” asked one of the spectators.

    “If I am not mistaken his name is Paul, the son of the leader of the Axe Gang.” Another one answered beside him.

    “Axe Gang?” Everyone who heard it shivered inside.

    Axe Gang was the number two gang in the outer district of the city. According to rumors, the gang was overly protective of its members, that is why few people dared to provoke or fight with axe gang members.

    A few more people tried before Eznho but nobody passed making the muscular man irritated. At last, it was Eznho’s turn, he tried his best to stay calm but deep inside, he was nervous. According to the rules, once you failed you can only try again after six months. Six months was too long for him that is why he had to pass this test no matter what, he had to give it his all.

    Taking a deep breath, he moved in front of the dummy and assumed a punching position. He circulated his energy inside to the maximum and gathered it on his right hand making the air around it distort. Seeing this scene, the muscular man raised his left brow.

    Not bad, what a solid foundation and pure heavenly energy.

    “Ha!” Eznho shouted and punched producing a ‘thud’ sound. Smoke rose from the dummy’s chest and a centimeter deep fist imprint could be seen. Looking at the seemingly failed attack, Eznho sighed dejectedly.

    I guess I have to find other ways to gather money.

    Contrary to his expectations, the muscular man shouted the word ‘passed’ with a delight on his face. He immediately collected the damaged dummy and replaced it with a new one. Eznho was surprised but was replaced with wild joy afterward, he bowed deeply to the muscular man and joined the others.

    “Pure luck,” Paul commented when Eznho joined the group but the latter ignored him and just stood there in silence while savoring his ‘victory’, he could not wait to go home and share the story with the others back at home.

     

     

     

  • Chapter 46 
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 46 Is Hate Born Of Love?

    Another hour passed and the sun had already set, the last recruit to try and hit the dummy actually passed making him the fifteenth person to join the group who passed the first test. With the conclusion of the test, the muscular man stood in front of them with a satisfied face.

    “Not bad, for fifteen people to pass today, this is quite a good harvest, good job everyone. I hope you pass your second and final test tomorrow. Who knows maybe in the future we can work together. As for the details of the next test, I will announce it tomorrow morning. That’s it for today, dismissed!”

    He did not wait for the new recruits to react and immediately made his way towards the branch head’s office. The new recruits did not dilly dally and separated without talking to each other. Enzho was curious about the others but after observing that everyone ignored each other, he let go of the idea of making acquaintance and went home.

    .....

    The branch head’s office was located at the top of the building, it was just a simple room filled with books, scrolls and random stuff. Aside from that, the strong smell of alcohol filled the air. A small balcony was built overlooking the training grounds that was lit up by torches. A few people were still training producing elongated shadows.

    Two people were at the balcony sharing a flagon of alcohol, the muscular man who tested the new recruits and the other one was the lazy looking guy who stood in front of the building that was met by Eznho earlier that day.

    “How're the new recruits? Anything interesting? This stupid punishment is really annoying,” the lazy looking guy asked with irritation while sipping alcohol.

    “Well, you pissed the old man, let’s just treat this as a vacation, haha. He even personally sent us here,” The muscular man teased.

    “Hmph! Well it’s not my fault now, is it? The daughter of the target was really hot you know.”

    Jackie answered while grumbling.

    “Hahaha, well because of what you did, we nearly failed the mission,” Mike slapped his thigh while laughing heartily.

    “Hmph! We accomplished our mission in the end, didn’t we?” Mike retorted.

    “Hahahaha, can’t argue with that, enough about that, a total of fifteen passed, all average except for three people, can you believe that Jackie?” the muscular man answered enthusiastically.

    “Really now? That’s quite a lot Mike,” Jackie raised his eyebrow showing a look of suspicion.

    “It was really unexpected, the first one is actually someone similar to me who is a body enhancer, albeit not as good looking as me, haha. The second one is actually the youngest son of the axe gang leader.” Mike grinned and drank a mouthful.

    “How amusing, that ambitious old man actually wants to have a connection with the guild. Well, if I were him, I’ll probably do the same especially now that his oldest son is a member of the Blood Tavern. A branch member to be exact, the more connections he has, the more power he holds. Not bad actually,” Jackie praised while savoring the smell of his alcohol.

    “That’s true, but he will never be able to surpass the Eastwood Gang,” Mike debated.

    “I agree with you on that brother, anyway, who’s the third?” Jackie asked curiously.

    “Ow, the last one is a dark horse alright, take a look at this,”

    Mike waved his hand and the wooden dummy that Eznho punched floated in front of Jackie. He scanned the puppet with his soul sense and was surprised. The other recruits could not see it but the insides of the dummy were mangled and its back had cracks. This result could only be achieved by having an almost perfect control of your power.

    “Now that’s interesting, for a kid to be able to do this, he has quite the potential and the foundation, who is he?”

    “Haha, that’s what I thought too. His name is Eznho but his name doesn’t ring a bell. Want me to investigate?” Mike answered teasingly.

    “Bah, let him grow first. Let us talk after he forms his halo, you wanna bet how many halos he can form?” Jackie waved his hand in reject and while showing a competitive look.

    “Okay you're on, my bet is that he will form two,” Mike answered without hesitation.

    “Hahaha, that was fast, okay I’ll give this one a blind shot. I think he can make it to three,”

    Jackie laughed with delight and drank another cup.

    “Three? Even the guild does not have that many people who were able to pull that off. Besides, I don’t think he has the resources to make three halos,” Mike answered with skepticism.

    “Well, you gave me no choice, who knows maybe he really is a dark horse, haha,” Jackie answered mysteriously while gazing at the starry sky.

    “Alright, let’s make things a little more interesting then,” Mike spoke with a mischievous look.

    .....

    It was already dark when Eznho made it back, everyone congratulated him when he told them the good news. Because of that, Miss Minchin and little Aiza cooked enthusiastically which produced an aromatic smell that made Eznho and Budoy drool.

    “Congratulations!” The trio shouted and all four of them gobbled up all the food served on the table.

    After dinner, Eznho and Budoy talked when the two women went to their own respective rooms.

    “How is it going Budoy?” Eznho asked with a smile while sipping his tea.

    “All is good big brother, actually I have decided to join in the information business,” Budoy answered with determination in his eyes.

    “Isn’t that dangerous?” Eznho was a bit uneasy about this. Selling information can fetch quite a sum if you have the right one but it can also lead to endless troubles if one is careless.

    “Don’t worry big brother, I will be careful, besides it can also benefit you, you know,” Budoy grinned while trying to justify himself.

    “I have no doubt about that, have you told aunt and little Aiza?” Eznho looked at him seriously.

    “Well, yeah, aunt agreed and reminded me repeatedly to be careful. As for little Aiza, well, it took me quite a while to convince her but I got her to agree,” Budoy answered with a wry smile.

    “That’s good then, I have no qualms about you joining that line of work,” Eznho spoke while gazing at the moon.

    “Budoy, both of the path we are pursuing has a lot of dangers, I only ask two things from you. That is to always be careful, there will always be hope as long we are alive so don’t go risking your life for no reason at all. As for the second thing, it is related with aunt and little Aiza, both of us may have our own ways to survive but they don’t have that kind of luxury. They are too vulnerable and to be honest, there are only a handful of people I care about in this world. Do you understand?”

    Eznho spoke with great emotions, this reminder came from the bottom of his heart and it was not only for Budoy but also for himself. That is the main reason why he tries to avoid offending other people and get into conflict with them. After all, you will never know what your enemies will do just to get back to you. This was especially implanted on him when he encountered what happened to Blue. Innocent and powerless people are often the victims.

    “I understand big brother, don't worry I will die first before bringing a calamity to aunt and little Aiza,”

    Budoy was moved by Eznho’s speech and spoke from the bottom of his heart. He looked at Eznho with reverence and respect, he truly felt how Eznho cared for him and his little sister.

    “Good,” Eznho grinned and the duo spoke a little more before calling it a day.

    .....

    It was the middle of the night when the feast finished at the River Clan’s territory. By now, most of the heavyweights in the middle district and some from the inner district have observed Wilad’s cultivation advancement making the clan’s status more stable. They would have to think twice before clashing with them. After everything has settled down, three people were having a meeting at the main hall of the River Clan. It was Wilad, Zander and Killboy,

    “What are the results of your investigation?” Wilad spoke with an unhurried tone.

    “Reporting to grandfather, after investigating non-stop, it is our belief that the killing is related to Batista and his comrades,” Killboy answered with a serious tone.

    “As expected,” Wilad commented with certainty.

    “We have another suspect as well, it was a person who disguised as a merchant and sold a girl to Alibaba before he went to Butchog’s residence to offer his goods. We tried to find traces of him and the girl but it led us to nothing. As for the other girls, we found some but unfortunately, they remember nothing at all. It was as if they never entered little brother’s residence,”

    Killboy felt a little apprehension when he found out about it, erasing the memory of a mortal is not an easy task.

    “Their memory has been erased eh? Well, that doesn’t sound good. He would have to be at least a Dao Formation expert but even then, it won’t be that easy. Even I would have to be extra careful when doing such a thing.”

    Wilad furrowed his brows while thinking of something.

    “There is something else, there were rumors circulating in the underground market that a member of the Dark Crows has been here in the city for the past month,”

    Killboy shivered a little when he blurted the name, of course, this was normal. Any person with a sane mind would feel fear towards people who are experts in the killing business.

    “How reliable is the information?” Wilad’s pupil shrunk when he heard the name.

    “It is eighty percent sure grandfather,” Killboy answered honestly.

    After that, Killboy reported everything he discovered and did not leave out anything. Silence gathered around the hall for awhile.

    Sigh, with this information you collected, it could be concluded that Batista and his comrades had somehow hired someone highly skilled to assassinate Butchog and Taba. And this particular assassin had sent a trainee of some sort to execute the mission, hence the wounds. The killer is still a novice who cannot control his or her emotions.”

    With his vast experience, Wilad could already fit most if not all of the puzzle pieces. It was even possible that they disguised their gender so it was not that easy to identify them with accuracy.

    “Should we pursue them? They are still inside the city,” Killboy exuded an intent to battle and was ready to fight anytime.

    “No, let us just let these matters go, let’s say it was Batista who did it, could you blame him? If you were him, would you do the same?”

    “This...” Killboy and Zander were speechless, deep inside they know what the old man said was true.

    “Even if we do pursue, they would have the moral high ground. Do you want another scandal to spread that would destroy our reputation? That’s not even the worst part, the worst result that could happen is that we would be on the military’s bad side. You can only imagine the consequences, I still have connections but times have changed and we have to adapt,”

    Wilad spoke seriously with a stern voice.

    “I am pretty sure Batista will not spread the matter about his daughter, what’s done is done. I just hope he does not point his hate towards us, after all, we both obtained losses regarding this matter. As for the Taba and Butchog, we will announce their death in a few days and perform a proper burial for them. Try to suppress the reason for their death as much as possible, make the arrangements.”

    “I only have at least a hundred years to live more and will not be able to make another breakthrough. You should focus your thoughts on breaking through the Dao Formation as soon as possible Zander. Both of you are the future pillars that would hold our foundation, don’t let this matter be the reason for your downfall.”

    Wilad stood up and walked towards his residence, his back looked lonely as the moon shone on him.

    “Yes, Father,”

    “Yes, Grandfather,”

    Zander and Killboy acknowledged with complicated looks on their faces. They had to stabilize everything before Wilad’s time runs out. As much as they loved Butchog and Taba, the future of the clan comes first. They could only put the matter in the back of their mind and wish that their souls find peace.

    .....

    Batista and the group had been staying at the middle district the whole time. There were two reasons for their action, first, Blue is currently stable but she is still unconscious which made Batista worry, the second was they were waiting for any news about Butchog and his son, Taba. According to their informants, the father and son had not been seen ever since Blue was retrieved from their grasp. They had their own speculations but they were still waiting for confirmation.

    “What do you think brother?” Wilky asked Batista while they were sharing a flagon of wine. Wilfred had returned to Sin City to watch over it temporarily, leaving the duo to further investigate.

    “I am not too sure either, information about those bastards had been kept tight. But not being seen for days is really suspicious, let’s just keep waiting while waiting for little Blue to wake up.”

    Batista answered with hatred in his eyes. He will never let go of this feeling for the rest of his life. Just thinking about his daughter’s hardships made him want to charge and do a massacre. The only thing that keeps him at bay is the fact that his daughter is still alive.

    .....

    The next day, Eznho and the other new recruits assembled early in the morning at the training ground. Everyone was serious and at the same time excited, this would be the last test and if they are able to pass, they would have the chance to make a name for themselves. Every wandering cultivator had to scour resources on their own and one of their main sources of living was accomplishing missions for the Mercenary Guild or other organizations and obtaining resources by completing them.

    “Alright, the last test you would be performing is actually very simple. You just need to complete at least one Rank E mission.”

    Mike announced with high spirits while looking at the reaction of the recruits. Everyone was shocked, the second test usually consists of sparring with each other.

    “Complete a mission? Isn’t that too early for us?” one of the new recruits asked nervously.

    “You’ll do missions one way or the other, so why not now? If you have any problems, you can just come back next year after I’m gone.”

    Mike answered nonchalantly making the recruit shut himself up.

    “Any more questions?” Mike asked with a glare that resulted in silence.

    “Good, within three months, you have to at least complete one Rank E mission. Failing this mission means you cannot retake the recruitment test for one year. But of course, because this test is a bit different, there will be rewards which will personally come from me in the form of spirit stones. You only have three chances, failing three times would result in disqualification. With hardships comes rewards so the more missions you accomplish the more rewards you gain with a maximum of three successful missions. One last thing, accomplish this mission with your own effort or else,” 

    He gave everyone a sharp gaze that contained a deadly warning making everyone shudder in fear. Seeing the recruit’s frightened faces, Mike was pleased with himself and turned around to leave.

    “See you in three months,”

    “I wonder how many spirit stones will he be giving out?” One of the new recruits blurted out with excitement.

    “Tsk, poor peasants, talk about rewards after you accomplish your mission, hmph!”

    Paul harrumph with disdain while showing a provocative stance.

    “What did you say?” A well-built boy questioned with hostility.

    “You heard what I said, got a problem with that?”

    Paul sneered as he looked at the boy then left with his buddies not bothering to wait for his answer.

    “You-!” the boy was about to retaliate but stopped himself from doing so due to the strict rules set in place and thought of something.

    “Tsk, all bark no bite, why don’t we enter the arena and see what you got?”

    “Hahaha, what an idiot!” Paul laughed with mockery as if he was hearing the joke of the day but did not stop or turn around and just left with his companions. This made the boy even more humiliated but there was nothing he could but endure.

    Just you wait, pray that we don’t meet outside or else, hmph!

    Eznho and the others just watched from the side and did not intend to interfere, some were even disappointed when the fight did not occur. After everyone lost interest, they dispersed and went their separate ways.

    .....

    Eznho went inside the building and headed straight to the mission listings. There were multiple small cubicles that could only fit one person, this was the place where you could choose your mission. After a brief period of waiting in line, Eznho had his turn. There was a small screen inside made of formation which contained a lot of information. He was amazed by it and wondered how these things were made.

    He touched his finger on the “Rank E list” and a countless number of missions popped up on the screen. He took his time to pick and chose a plant collection mission which was relatively safe. It was his first mission so he had to be careful and use it to test the waters first. He memorized the mission number and went to another queue where they issued the mission details.

    “Mission number 05679E,” Eznho spoke clearly towards the middle-aged female inside the counter.

    “Give me your badge,” the woman ordered blandly.

    Eznho gave him the wooden badge that was given to him the other day which gave the woman a surprise and looked at Eznho with pity.

    “Here you go, this is your mission details,”

    She handed back the badge after registering together with a scroll. Eznho opened the scroll to make a quick check and after confirming it was the mission he picked, he gave his thanks and went out of the building.

    .....

    Eznho went home and studied the mission details, he needed to collect five stalks of Star Orchid which mostly grows on stone cracks, particularly on cliffs – that was the danger he had to face. This kind of danger was relatively negligible as long as he was careful. He practiced cultivation again and called it a day. This mission had an unlimited time, so he was not worried about any time limit.

    The next day, he went out to buy the things he needed and went to scout for information such as maps and common location of Star Orchids. He also went to the library to gain more knowledge. This preparation lasted for a week before he was confident that he was ready to start the mission.

    That night, the family had a sumptuous dinner, Eznho estimated that the mission would take at least two weeks to a month so they cherished the time they had with each other before Eznho will leave for the mission. Minchin decided to work at a restaurant and little Aiza would go to school to learn about things which Eznho gladly agreed to.

    .....

    That week, the news of the death of Butchog and Taba River had been announced by the River Clan which spread like wildfire. As for the details of their death, nobody was entirely sure and different rumors have spread, some even speculated that the heavens have been enraged and sent down its punishment.

    People showed sympathy but it was only a pretense to show good faith with the clan. Most if not all were cheering inside, the father and son did not have a good reputation around the city after all.

    As for Batista and Wilky, they triple checked the information and was sure that the father and son duo were really dead. Although it was not in his hands, Batista’s ill feelings were a little bit uplifted. As for revenge? He was well aware that it would just lead to his destruction, besides, it would be pointless because the culprits are now dead.

    He had no choice but to focus his attention on his daughter instead. There was no point staying in the city now, so without waiting for his daughter to wake up, they slowly made their journey back to Sin City. This city had terrible memories for his daughter, so he wanted her to wake up in a place where she feels secure.

    As for Eznho, he heard about the news through Budoy but was nonchalant about it as if he had nothing to do with their death. Bringing all his needed equipment, he left early and did not plan to wake up everyone, their goodbyes have already been said and no need to do it all over again. However, Budoy was waiting for him at the door,

    “Let me escort you to the gates, big brother,” He offered.

    “Okay, sure, let’s go, time waits for no one,” Eznho grinned in response.

    It took them a while to reach the Eastern Gate, Eznho, together with Budoy had a healthy horse in tow with them. Eznho bought it the other day, for him to have a smoother journey. They both stopped at the gate and gazed at the horizon where the sun was starting to rise carrying with it bright rays that illuminated the world.

    “See you soon, brother,” Eznho spoke with a bright smile.

    “Take care, big brother, we’ll be waiting,” Budoy looked at him with moist eyes but was holding himself back.

    The two hugged each other tightly and Eznho started to walk towards the exit without another word. Budoy watched as his big brother’s silhouette disappeared in the distance.

    Come back safely, big brother.

    As for Eznho, he rode his horse which galloped at full speed towards the west leaving dust on its trail.

    Adventure, here I come!

    .....

    Note: This is the last chapter of Book 1, I would like to say thank you to everyone who gave my novel a chance. All I can say is, THANK YOU AGAIN! I plan to continue on writing but the releases would be sporadic as I only do it during my free time. I hope you would still find time to continue reading and enjoying my novel. Cheers!

     

     

     

  • Chapter 47 - Start of Book 2! Yay!
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 47 Mother Nature Is Calling

    Snow melted and the cool spring visited the Carson Kingdom. Birds were chirping while animals started to wake up from their hibernation. Streams started to flow with fresh water from the mountains while fishes swam and jumped as they welcome the new season. Flowers started to grow from the ground and trees were starting to grow fresh green leaves.

    Eznho was riding his horse while he deeply inhaled fresh air as he headed for the Stallone Mountains where he would search for the Star Orchid. His mood was affected by his environment, it has been a while since he savored the flavor of mother nature. He followed the road and reached a small village by noon, villages like this were common throughout the kingdom. Most of them were occupied by mortals who lived by hunting or farming.

    This particular village was a common stop for travelers so a small restaurant and a couple of living quarters were made by the locals. He stopped by and ate lunch then continued on his way. The journey was uneventful but he occasionally came across caravans and travelers like himself. The sun had already set when he reached the next village which was his destination, the village was located in the outer part of the Stallone Mountains. He spent the night there and the next day he woke up early and paid one of the villagers to take care of his horse.

    He needed to travel by foot now because the horse would just be a hindrance and it would not be of much help due to the terrain. Judging by the map he had, the nearest location where Star Orchids commonly grew was ten kilometers from the village. Taking a deep breath, he made sure to be on top of his game and started his journey.

    Here we go!

    The terrain was filled with towering trees, rocks, bushes and boulders. He occasionally saw some wild animals but none of them had turned into beasts. (Note: Think of wild animals as the counterpart of mortals, they are animals who are not able to absorb heavenly energy.)

    It only took him an hour to reach his destination, he was now faced with a gray rocky cliff with a height of about ninety meters. He looked up and could see some plants protruding from the cracks but none of them were what he was looking for. Due to his cultivation, his eyesight was far better than an average person and could clearly see everything within a hundred meters. He furrowed his brows and started to walked around to look for the plant. He spent half an hour but was met with disappointment,

    “Obviously, this would be the first place people would look into, sigh,

    He muttered to himself but was still optimistic, after all, this was just the first stop. Reading his map, he headed to the next spot which he reached after a quarter of an hour. This cliff was lower than the other one which is approximately fifty meters high. He looked around and his eyes lit up fifteen minutes later but dimmed after five seconds. Turns out, it was just a stem and it did not even have a bud yet.

    “This is a good sign at least,” Eznho spoke with a positive mind. What he needed was a nearly blooming Star Orchid or better yet a fully bloomed one.

    Continuing to search for the places marked on the map, he was constantly met with disappointment. Evening came and he already checked seven locations with no result. He set up camp at the top of one of the cliffs and roasted a rabbit for dinner. After a round of cultivation, he lied on his back and looked at the night sky that was filled with countless stars. He was filled with awe,

    “How beautiful, is it possible be to travel across the stars?” he reached out his hand and made a grasping motion.

    One day,

    He thought to himself and closed his eyes.

    .....

    The sun had not yet peeped but Eznho got up early to practice cultivation. Now that he finished cleansing his marrow, the last step was to cleanse and strengthen his internal organs. Upon reviewing the information on his brain, he had a vague understanding of what to do.

    Dragon-Tiger Roar

    This was the final technique he needs to master in order to reach the peak of the Cleansing Stage. He only needed to chant a mantra to do this, but of course, it is easier said than done. After a round of breathing technique, he stood on the ground with his left foot forward. His left knee was slightly bent forward while his right leg was stretched towards the back, his right hand raised in front of him forming a seal.

    He chanted the mantra in his mind and took a deep breath but nothing happened, he was not disappointed and continued this a few times. Luckily, he was alone and no one could see this awkward moment. It was already his tenth try and he felt something move, it was only a little movement but this made him happy.

    Gaining his momentum he continued until the movement become stronger, his intestines felt like they were snakes moving inside his body which was a little creepy. Nonetheless, this did not bother him much and continued until his twenty-fifth try. His innards started to tremble uncontrollably which became stronger and stronger until,

    “Blerrgghh!”

    Eznho became pale and vomited a sticky yellow-greenish fluid from his mouth which tasted bitter. But this was not the worst part,

    “Gluurrgghh!”

    His stomach started to growl which made Eznho panic,

    “What the heck is this cultivation technique!?”

    He grumbled and gathered all his strength to go beside a nearby bush. Ten minutes later, Eznho came out with a relieved pale face and flies started to buzz around the bush where he came from.

    “Am I suppose to suffer like this every day?”

    He did not feel well, luckily, once he practiced the breathing technique, he felt much better. Although, every hour or so, he had to find a bush to hide into to relieve himself. He even had to refill his water container often because he was thirsty all the time.

    “What kind of torture is this!?” he cursed inwardly when night came because even during sleep, he had to answer the call of mother nature.

    The next few days were hell for Eznho, the area around his eyes was dark and he started lost weight due to this events. He badly wanted to stop but he was positive this would lead to something good. Of course, Eznho knew he could use pills, herbs and medicines to pass this stage but they cost too much and from his point of view, it was a waste of money.

    .....

    A group of hunters was passing through the area where Eznho stayed and were aghast when their noses were assaulted by a nauseous smell.

    “What the hell? Who made this place their shithole?”

    The muscular leader shouted with anger and humiliation, this was their hunting ground and somebody made it their personal toilet.

    “Leader, look,” one of his subordinates pointed where a campfire was made.

    Everyone pinched their nose while closing in on the burnt woods.

    “This was place was used at least two days ago,” the leader spoke while examining the charcoal but veins were already popping on his forehead.

    He scanned the area and saw another bush not far away from the camp that was surrounded by flies.

    “This way,” he ordered his men and followed the trail of smelly bushes.

    Just you wait,

    The leader was furious, he was the strongest man in his village and was worshipped by everyone and yet he was tracking a person by following his self-made breadcrumbs. This was a matter of pride, this place was their territory so they had to catch the perpetrator to recover their dignity.

    “Boss, what if it is one of those cultivators?” one of the younger ones asked.

    “Hmph! You think they would have no pride and do a thing like this? Besides, even if he is a cultivator, I doubt he is that strong, a strong cultivator would not waste his time in the outer area. Most of them are hunting in the middle and inner area of the mountains. Just you wait, if I find him, I will sew his butthole and make sure he will never be able to do his business again,”

    The leader answered with pride, he was confident in his own strength. A long time ago, their late village chief came across a body cultivation technique when he was adventuring in the inner area of the Stallone Mountains and he was the only one in their village who made a progress with it.

    ....

    “Achoo!”

    Eznho who was refilling his water container when he suddenly sneezed,

    Aunt Minchin and the others might be talking about me,

    He thought to himself and took a bath because he felt filthy after his hellish experience. Although his agony continued, the frequency slowed down and would only happen every six hours and he felt his innards had somewhat evolved. He only consoled himself by thinking about the result that he would gain after mastering the technique.

    According to the information, after completely mastering it, his innards would become sturdy and would not be easily hurt when absorbing damage. Besides that, he can unleash a powerful roar and could be used to attack opponents.

    Another two days passed and his body had already adjusted, he no longer suffered like before. He was now brimming with vigor and was ready to focus his attention on his mission. He posed again like before and concentrated to the extreme, after a while, his insides started to vibrate which was slowly increasing in intensity,

    “Haa- blerggh!”

    He shouted and attempted to unleash a roar but he actually vomited black blood which was a sign of purification.

    “Come on! This technique is so gross,” he grumbled to himself but had no choice but to endure. He was about to continue with another round when his ears twitched, he could vaguely hear something out in the woods.

    “Who’s there? Can I help you with something?”

    He furrowed his brows and became cautious then started to grip his daggers which hang on both sides of his waist.

    Rustle

    The only thing that answered him was the howl of the wind and the rustling of leaves.

    “I know you are there, come out on the count of three or don't blame me for attacking,”

    He started to get nervous and tightened his grip on his weapons. A while later, the sound of footsteps could be heard heading his way. Five men who only wore beast skin to cover their groin and held spears came out of the woods with a ferocious look on their faces.

    “Hey kid, how long have you been here?”

    The leader asked without any politeness, after all, Eznho was only a kid who was not even fifteen years old yet.

    “Uhmmm, a week maybe,”

    Eznho answered but his body was alert and was ready to take action anytime, he could feel that the one who spoke was not an ordinary person.

    “I’ll cut to the chase and save us both the time, were you the one who made our hunting ground a shithole?”

    The leader was also cautious because he did not want to jump to any conclusions yet, there were many kinds of cultivators and he might accidentally provoke someone who would bring calamity to their village.

    “Uhmmm,”

    Eznho’s cheek was a little flushed and did not know how to answer. He was pretty embarrassed.

    “It’s you isn’t it?” the leader spoke and his eyes became sharp producing an intimidating aura.

    “Look, mister, it was an accident, I ate a fruit and it made my stomach upset, I am really sorry,”

    Eznho tried to find an excuse like a child who was caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar. He was really embarrassed but there was nothing he could do, what’s done is done.

    “Hmph! You think you can just come in our territory and do whatever you like?”

    The leader sneered and the group formed a semi-circle. Of course, he did not want to kill, he just wanted to intimidate this kid who looked like an easy prey for them. After all, nobody was hurt, it was just a matter of pride. He could not even see any trace of arrogance from this kid which was common for young cultivators who had a significant background.

    “Mister, I don’t want any trouble, I just came here to do a mission, I really am sorry for what I did. What do you want?”

    Eznho’s face grimaced, he really did not want to fight, he could tell that these people were locals and did not want to hurt them. Besides, he did not feel any killing intent and had a vague idea of what they were trying to do.

    “Kid, if you want to go out of this place unharmed, you better compensate us with something,”

    “With what?” Eznho asked.

    “Ten gold coins,” The leader answered with a stern voice.

    “Fine, here you go,” Eznho immediately produced ten gold coins from his chest pocket and laid it on the ground which made the other group flabbergasted.

    He really paid?

    “I’m really sorry mister,” He bowed and started to back up. Ten gold coins were nothing compared to risking his life. Add to the fact that he was really embarrassed by what he did.

    “Wait!” the leader shouted which made Eznho furrow his brows.

    “Kid, are you looking for Star Orchids?” The leader asked which greatly surprised Eznho.

    “How did you know?” He asked with caution.

    “We followed you for a few days and you always passed by some of the cliffs. The only thing that interests outsiders that involves cliffs is the Star Orchid,”

    The leader spoke with pride and confidence, he was the lead hunter and was knowledgeable about the area.

    “Let me see your map, most of the cliffs here had been emptied out. I can show you places where the plant might not still have been harvested.”

    He stretched his hand which made Eznho skeptical. Eznho was unsure but he was tempted, after all, he did not want to go running around like a headless chicken. He slowly walked towards the group and brought out his map then handed it to the leader. The leader did not speak and brought out a penlike object and marked the map.

    “Here you go, although these places are dangerous, there is a high chance they still have what you are looking for,”

    Eznho looked at the map and saw six locations that were marked,

    “Thank you, mister,”

    Eznho bowed with sincerity, he was still cautious but could not sense any ill intent from the man.

    “Treat it like a compensation for the gold, by the way, you can call me Nando,” the leader introduced himself.

    “Okay, my name is Eznho, again, thank you Senior Nando,” Eznho also introduced himself and left the area.

    “Boss, I think that kid is loaded, why don’t-“ the youngest one spoke but was interrupted by Nando.

    “Tsk, you know nothing Jon, that kid did not even felt intimidated and was ready to fight us. Besides, he did not reek of blood unlike the others, he might be a beginner but I could feel that he is strong for someone his age, even stronger than you,”

    “Then why don’t we collect this plants and sell it to them?” Jon asked again.

    “Kid, you really know nothing, don’t you? Collecting these plants will only bring us calamity, the human heart is full of greed. Despite our good intentions, it is hard to predict someone else’s,”

    Nando spoke with a grave tone, this was due to his accumulated experiences. He had witnessed many times how cultivators fought because of small things that even ended up in a bloodbath.

    “Let’s go,” He picked up the gold and went on their way to trade it for weapons and other necessary items for their village.

     


  • Chapter 48
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 48 Cliffhanger

    Eznho camped on top of a hill that night after escaping from that embarrassing moment. Firewood was crackling while oil was sizzling from the wild bird being roasted. Eznho tore a leg and bit it with gusto while reading the map.

    Four of the six locations were located in the outer area while two were in the middle are. Each location was a bit far from each other and he could at most cover two areas in one day. After finishing dinner, he made his plans, practiced a round of cultivation and called it a day.

    The morning mist covered the Stallone Mountains while morning dews were falling from the leaves. Eznho was dashing through the forest and got to the location he was aiming for. The cliff was beside a stream and it was a hundred and fifty meters tall. He looked up and started walking to scan the area, a couple of minutes later he was overjoyed to see a Star Orchid hiding in one of the small cracks in the middle area. It was really well hidden, Eznho was just lucky because the sun was shining directly at the crack and exposed what was inside.

    Suppressing his excitement, he prepared himself for the climb, he scanned the area again and made an imaginary path on his mind. He took a deep breath and started his free climb, although it was his first time doing this, he was confident due to his accumulated strength. A fall from a seventy-five-meter height may injure him but it would not kill him unless he was really out of luck.

    Taking advantage of the cracks and protruding parts of the cliff, Eznho was progressing smoothly and was halfway from his target. Another half an hour passed and finally, he reached the crack. The crack was actually bigger up close, it was at least a foot in length and five inches wide at the middle. After stabilizing himself, he reached out with his left hand and was ready to uproot the plant when suddenly,

    Sssss!

    A pair of yellow eyes snapped open that glowed inside the crack, it opened its mouth revealing a pair of fangs that were dropping venom. Without hesitation, it struck like lightning wanting to bite Eznho’s hand. Sensing danger, Eznho’s hair stood up and immediately withdrew his hand.

    Snap!

    The force of the snake’s mouth closing actually produced a sound due to its force. Without wasting any time, as soon as he withdrew his hand, Eznho’s left hand reached out for his dagger and slashed, cutting the snake’s head off like a hot knife through butter. Blood spilled and the head went down the cliff followed by its body.

    “Whew, that was close,” Eznho’s heart was still palpitating as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.

    “This dagger is really sharp, not bad.”

    He examined the dagger and actually nodded in approval. It was one of the of daggers that were gifted to him by Talong and was his first time using it. After putting it away, he reached out his left hand again and uprooted the Star Orchid and put it in a special box. Wasting no time, he started his descent and reached the bottom an hour later.

    After washing himself at the stream, he collected his things that he hid under a rock and found a place to rest. He brought out the wooden box that could preserve plants for at least a month and opened it.

    The Star Orchid had a green steam and four thick leaves, it had many thin roots and the flower was halfway through blooming. He closely examined it and could faintly see a pattern that resembled the night sky. He sniffed and could smell a fresh scent that smelled like the breath of nature, pure and clean.

    He closed the box and put it away and scanned the other parts of the cliff when he stumbled on the body of the snake that he killed earlier. It had brown skin and some weird pattern started to form on its back. It was a meter long and was thick as Eznho’s arm. Eznho closely examined it and could faintly feel heavenly energy pulsing from the dead snake.

    “Hmm? Its actually evolved recently, its strength is somewhere around the lower bracket of a Rank 1 beast.”

    Beasts were ranked according to their strength and Rank 1 was the lowest. Every rank is divided into four from low, mid, late and peak. Rank 1 is equivalent to a Cleansing Stage Cultivator, Rank 2 is to Halo Stage and Rank 3, the Seeker Stage. But of course, beasts have a slight advantage due to there tenacious vitality and body.

    Eznho could not identify this beast as it had not completely evolved yet and could not show its dominant bloodline and characteristics.

    “Lunch is served I guess,” Eznho grinned and peeled the snakeskin then put it away to be sold later on. A while later, smoke rose from beside the stream.

    .....

    After leaving only the bones, Eznho scanned the remaining area of the cliff but found nothing. He immediately went on to the next cliff but to his disappointment, it yielded him nothing. The sun has set in the western sky and it was time to call it a day.

    The next day, Eznho traveled towards the next cliff but found nothing again. Holding on to hope, he went for the next one and was excited to actually see two stalks of the Star Orchid. The cliff was the highest he had been which was at least two hundred meters high. He was looking down the bottom and gulped, if he would fall, he could actually die.

    He found a sturdy tree and tied the rope so he could rappel down the cliff. Slowly and steadily, he reached the first stalk which was thirty meters from the top. It was fairly easy to obtain it so he climbed back up again to relocate his anchor to get the next stalk. After finding the perfect place, he once again descended fifty meters below to get the next one.

    “That was pretty easy,”

    Eznho was smiling as he looked at the three stalks inside the wooden box. After resting for a bit and enjoying the view, he went on to the fourth location but sadly it had no Star Orchid on it. The next two locations were pretty dangerous as it was located in the middle area. This area was the territory of Rank 1 beasts. He had to be extra careful, beasts were territorial after all.

    .....

    Eznho slowed down his pace when he reached the middle area of the Stallone Mountains. His senses were on high alert all the time, he already rerouted a couple of times to avoid the beasts. Although he can actually fight them, he preferred not to, to avoid unnecessary complications.

    He finally reached his destination a couple of hours later. The cliff was really high with a towering height of two hundred and fifty meters. He sucked in a cold breath after looking down, it even made his feet itchy and his palms sweaty. Walking with caution, he scanned the area and found a stalk fifteen minutes later. It was about a hundred meters down but there was a problem, it was near a bird’s nest. The worst part is, it actually had two eggs on it, so an adult bird must be somewhere nearby.

    Darn it, should I risk it?

    Eznho was conflicted, he would be in great danger if the adult bird would come while he was rappelling, he would become a sitting duck if that happens.

    No, it's not worth it, too risky, better be safe than sorry,

    He abandoned the idea and scanned the other parts of the cliff but sadly, it only had that one stalk. After pondering, he decided to check the other place first and come back here if he really had no choice.

    .....

    While Eznho was having his own adventures, the other new recruits were also doing their own missions. Paul, together with his two comrades, Gani and Kato were sneering as they were staring down on a new recruit who was laying on the ground with blood all over his clothes.

    “What now? I thought you were tough? Didn’t you want to fight me?”

    Paul ridiculed while kicking the wounded boy, it was the same boy who challenged him on the training grounds.

    “Ughh! You coward! Attacking in the shadows and claiming to be someone strong? Pweh!”

    The boy glared back with hatred and spat. He was on his way to the First Misty Cliff when he was ambushed by Paul out of nowhere.

    “Hahaha! You really are an idiot! Muscleheads like you are the most annoying kind of people. It's your fault for not paying attention.”

    Paul was not angry but found it funny instead. He lost interest and unsheathed the saber strapped on his back.

    “Just die like the dog you are,”

    Slash!

    Blood spurted and the boy’s head was separated from his body. Paul rummaged through the corpse and found a box, a pair of claw weapon, a brown bank card and other miscellaneous things.

    “Not bad,” Paul remarked and nodded in satisfaction.

    He opened the box and found two stalks of Star Orchid, he then closed it and tossed it to Gani while keeping the other valuable things.

    “Your lucky Gani, now we only need three more to complete your mission,”

    Gani had a dark, brown skin and was actually good looking, he had a tall nose and deep-set eyes. His long black hair was neatly tied around his back with a spear on his hand which was his choice of weapon.

    “Thank you brother,” Gani grinned and put the box away.

    “What now, where do we go next?” Kato asked nonchalantly.

    He was tan skinned with very short hair, his eyes were sharp and he held a glaive in his right hand. The glaive was taller than him by at least half a meter with a curved metal blade.

    “According to the map, the First Misty Cliff is nearby and it may have Star Orchids on it,” Paul answered with reverence in his eyes.

    “Father told me that that cliff is actually made by a sword beam that came from the heavens a thousand years ago that stabbed the earth. According to him, there are three of those cliffs with the biggest one in the middle of the Stallone Mountains. The two smaller cliffs were already fully investigated and the people who were able to go to the bottom found treasures which brought bloodbath throughout the land. But the biggest in the middle still remains a mystery. Many experts tried to go to the bottom but nobody succeeded. According to the reports, they kept on descending but could never reach the bottom. One day, I’ll be the one to reach the bottom and sweep through the continent,”

    Paul spoke with pride and ambition.

    “The Third Misty Cliff had long been reserved for you brother,” Gani and Kato spoke with a fawning tone. They call Paul their brother but they both knew, they are only considered subordinates. Of course, if Paul really rose to prominence, their status would also soar with him.

    “Naturally,” Paul answered with certainty.

    “Let’s go,” He ordered and the trio dashed leaving the boy’s corpse to be feasted upon by beasts.

    .....

    Eznho reached his destination but it was already evening so he had to camp first and scout the area in the morning. The next day, he woke up early and practiced the Dragon-Tiger Roar but only had a small progress.

    Patience Eznho, patience.

    He consoled himself, despite his slow progress, he could feel that his inner organs were getting stronger and tougher. Gathering all his thoughts, he went to the edge of the First Misty Cliff and looked below. Mist gathered thirty meters below and it became thicker downwards. Eznho could barely see fifty meters from his position.

    “According to the information, there are three of such cliff with the biggest one at the centermost part of the Stallone Mountains,”

    He muttered to himself as he recalled all the information he gathered. Looking at the other side, he could see another cliff a hundred meters away from where he was standing. If you look from above, the place actually looked like it was stabbed with a sword.

    Focusing his vision to the max, he slowly walked at the edge and carefully checked for Star Orchids. Time passed and it was already two hours later when he spotted one approximately forty meters below him.

    “Gotcha!”

    Eznho was elated and prepared then checked his surroundings. After confirming he was alone, he tied the rope and started his descent. The more he descended, the more the temperature started to drop. He already reached the thirty-meter mark and his vision started to become limited.

    With the mist on his way, he slowed down and finally reached his target. Without delay, he uprooted it and started to ascend, he was creeped out by the place as if something was lurking below. Eznho wanted to go up as soon as possible, he was twenty meters from reaching the top when he heard something.

    Damn, someone is here,

    He gritted his teeth and hastened when three heads popped up from above.

    “Well, lookie here, we got a cliffhanger,” One of them spoke mockingly.

    Eznho could not clearly see their faces due to the sunlight but he had an idea who they were.

    Don’t tell me it's them?

    He cursed inwardly, he remembered Paul and his two companions who were obviously not good people.

    “Its actually you, kid. Haha, what a coincidence, mind if you share your loot?”

    Paul laughed with delight, he enjoyed the misery of others.

    “What do you want?” Eznho spoke with coldness.

    “Well, why don’t you throw the Star Orchid and we will be on our way?” Paul grinned.

    Are you kidding me? This is straight up robbery!

    Eznho gritted his teeth but he was in a bad position.

    “Why would I trust your words?” He tried to delay and think of a solution.

    “You have no other choice kid. Hurry up, I don’t have time to waste on you,”

    Paul unsheathed his saber and put it on top of the rope.

    “I’ll count to three, one, two!” He shouted.

    “Wait!” Eznho started to panic but had no choice at the moment.

    The most important thing, for now, is for him to survive. He brought out the box containing the four orchids and throw it upwards with reluctance. Gani caught it and opened it, he was elated when he saw four Star Orchids.

    “Good boy,” Paul grinned then was replaced by a malicious smile. He pressed his saber which cut the rope halfway.

    “See you around kid, hahaha,” He then put away his saber and the trio walked away.

    Eznho’s pupil shrank when he felt the rope was cut.

    Damn you!

    He breathed deeply and ascended with the fastest speed he could muster. He was five meters away from the top when the rope finally gave in. Making use of a protruding rock, he circulated his heavenly energy on his right foot to boost his jump.

    With the boost from his heavenly energy, he reached and passed the edge and was about to land when his face fell. The trio was still there with ridicule plastered on their faces.

    “I told you, he could make it,”

    Paul spoke with a nonchalant face and threw the dagger he was holding in his right hand towards Eznho who was still mid-air. The dagger whistled through the air bringing death towards Eznho.

    Shit!

    Eznho’s face paled but acted without delay and used his right hand to get the dagger from his left waist.

    Clang!

    With great speed, he used it to deflect the incoming dagger but he was forced backward by the attack. The edge was now out of his reach and gravity started to pull him down the cliff. Knowing that he could not do anything to reverse the situation, his eyes became sharp and circulated heavenly energy towards his right hand.

    “Curse you and your family tree!” He shouted and threw the dagger with all his might.

    The trio’s pupil shrank, the attack was unexpected and was coming very fast towards Paul. Despite the danger he was in, Paul did not panic and with a decisive gaze, he circulated his energy towards his head to protect it. At the same time, he leaned his body to the right while tilting his head to avoid the incoming dagger.

    Sssskk! Bang!

    Blood dripped on the ground, Paul was breathing heavily. It was a close call and he barely dodged the dagger. A three inches horizontal wound appeared on his left cheek oozing with blood. The dagger continued on its path and blasted apart a boulder from behind the trio.

    Eznho smiled with bitterness when his attack failed, he looked towards the sky as his fall accelerated. The faces of the people he cared about flashed on his mind, his Aunt Minchin, Budoy, Little Aiza and his Big Brother Martin. Aside from that, he actually felt at peace while facing death.

    Is the end of my journey? How pitiful, I’m sorry everyone. I wish all of you find happiness.


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