Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was peaceful and quiet in Qingshan Town. However, once outside Qingshan Town, danger was always present.
Danger could come in the form of wild and savage beasts that came out from the forests, or bandits that roamed everywhere. Bandits would often lie in ambush along the road from Qingshan Town to Ningping Town, waiting for the opportunity block off the road so they could plunder and rape.
Girls were not the only victims of rape, but young boys who looked tender and delicate could also be raped.
Between Qingshan Town and Ningping Town was a road that all travelers were forced to take that passed through wild and untamed forested mountains.
Here was where bandits struck most frequently. And now, there was a small group of bandits lying in wait in the forest beside the road, waiting for the chance to strike.
“Second-In-Command, I’ve heard that your practise is nearing the next stage… it won’t be long before you attain level-two of Qi-gathering, will it?” a knife-scarred middle-aged man mounted on a large, strong horse asked with a smile, turning to the young man who led them.
Just like the five men behind him, the young man who was their leader was dressed in light black clothes, wore a woven bamboo hat, and had a cape woven from bamboo grass. This all made him seem to blend into the landscape around him.
His mount was a fine steed that was a head taller than the already large horses his five companions were mounted on, and it was completely crimson in color as though it had been dyed in blood. It was a genuine ferghana horse.
Ferghana horses were the cream of the crop among horses and were capable of journeys of a thousand kilometers in a single day. They were also known by their title of “kings among the horses.” On the market, a ferghana horse foal could fetch a thousand liang of silver.
Ferghana horses had to be raised as foals; otherwise, there was no way to control them. As for mature ferghana horses, they were extremely proud, and seldom could they be tamed by people. Most mature ferghana horses would rather bash themselves to death than be tamed.
“Within three months, I will surely attain level-two of Qi-gathering!”
The young man’s stern face conveyed a sense of immense confidence, and his eyes sparkled with light.
“Second-In-Command, in three months you will be only twenty-six years old.”
Another well-built middle-aged bandit could not help sighing. “Attaining level-two of Qi-gathering before thirty… Second-In-Command will be the first level-two adept of Qi-gathering under thirty years old in the area around Qingshan Town for the past few decades.
“The first level-two adept of Qi-gathering under thirty years old in the area around Qingshan Town for the past few decades?”
The young man shook his head at his subordinate’s flattery, the image of a youth surfacing in his mind.
Although he was a bandit, most of the people who had ever seen him were already dead. Therefore, he frequently changed his attire and went into Qingshan Town like a common man walking around and shopping, and at the same time, he would stop by Yunxuan Restaurant for a meal.
The delicious food and fine dishes of Yunxuan Restaurant were not something that could be found in the wilds outside Qingshan Town. Therefore, even if he did not need to buy anything, he would still go to Qingshan Town about once a month to visit Yunxuan Restaurant for a meal.
Several days ago, he had visited Qingshan Town as usual, and he would never forget that day.
Standing in the crowd outside the main entrance of the Magnolia Guild to watch the commotion, he saw with his own eyes how a youth of sixteen years old had killed the bloody-handed butcher, Wang Yukun, who had been legendary around Qingshan Town for many years.
Moreover, he had killed Wang Yukun with a single blow!
This name had been seared into his memory on that day. Even if he did not have any interactions with Zhou Donghuang in this life, he would never forget this name.
My talent is a joke compared to his.
The young man sighed inwardly.
“Second-In-Command, there’s a carriage coming towards us!”
Just as the young man was thinking about the impossible scene from several days ago, a sound coming from behind him startled him out of his reverie.
He looked up and saw a carriage in the distance coming from the direction of Qingshan Town, and it was traveling very fast.
“Second-In-Command, do we make our move?”
Just as another bandit questioned the young man, a group of ten bandits spurred their horses out from the opposite side of the road, blocking the carriage and surrounding it tightly.
“It’s those fellows from Black Tiger Bastion… their leader is the Second-In-Command of Black Tiger Bastion, Qian Tongtian!
The knife-scarred middle-aged man frowned. “Seems that we will have to give half of today’s plunder to them again.”
The Black Tiger Bastion was another stronghold of bandits, and they were the direct competitors of the Green Wolf Bastion in the area.
The unwritten code of the bandits stipulated that if two or more groups of bandits found the same prey, and if they were evenly matched, they would split the plunder evenly.
By this means, needless conflict could be avoided.
And now, the middle-aged driver of the stationary carriage was shouting loudly to the bandits surrounding the carriage, “Gentlemen, my passenger is the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant in Qingshan Town, please make way.”
“The owner of Yunxuan Restaurant in Qingshan Town?”
In the forest, the expressions of the five bandits behind the young man on the ferghana horse changed at once.
“Is that Elder Zhao San?”
Even in the eyes of the bandits around Qingshan Town, the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant Zhao San was not someone to trifle with.
The young man reacted differently from the five bandits behind him, and his eyes narrowed slightly as the image of that youth resurfaced in his mind.
Several days ago when he made a trip to Qingshan Town, he had learned that Zhao San, the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, had already left Qingshan Town and had given Yunxuan Restaurant to a youth named Zhou Donghuang before he left.
At first, he had known only that Zhou Donghuang was the son of Guild Master Lin Lan of the Magnolia Guild. And just as he was preparing to leave Qingshan Town, he had personally witnessed Zhou Donghuang kill Wang Yukun at the main entrance of the Magnolia Guild.
“Elder Zhao San?!”
When the bandits surrounding the horse carriage heard this, their expressions changed completely as well.
The big, burly man who led them was the first to dismount, bowing in the direction of the horse carriage. “Second-In-Command of Black Tiger Bastion Qian Tongtian, acknowledges Elder San.”
“We acknowledge Elder San.”
The other bandits surrounding the horse carriage dismounted one by one and bowed in the direction of the carriage.
This display frightened the middle-aged driver of the horse carriage, and his expression changed slightly before he sucked in several deep breaths, finally calming his emotions.
Realizing that it had been a long time and there was yet no response to his greeting, Qian Tongtian frowned, and spoke again, “Elder San, according to the rules of the road… please come out so that we can see you.”
Bandits who lived by their swords were not so easily fooled.
Just like now.
If Zhao San was really inside, they would leave tactfully once they saw him with their own eyes. Otherwise, if it was just someone impersonating Zhao San, why should they return empty-handed?
“Commander,” said the driver of the horse carriage to Qian Tongtian, “Haven’t you heard? Yunxuan Restaurant had a change of ownership several days ago… the owner now is not Elder Zhao San, but the young master of our family, Zhou Donghuang.”
“Yunxuan Restaurant has changed owners?”
Qian Tongtian was stunned but recovered with a cold smile. “You say Yunxuan Restaurant has a new owner, but so what? Everyone knows that since the day Yunxuan Restaurant was established, Elder Zhao San has always been the owner.”
“I would like to find out… the young master of your family, what kind of connections does he have that Elder Zhao San would give him Yunxuan Restaurant, the most profitable business in Qingshan Town.”
At that moment, the look of fear in Qian Tongtian’s eyes disappeared and was replaced by an icy look.
Hearing the exchange between Qian Tongtian and the driver, the other bandits in the forest except for the young man were all shaking their heads.
“It’s not Elder Zhao San after all… nevertheless, this driver is really naive, he thinks that he can fool Qian Tongtian with his words?” the knife-scarred man said disdainfully.
“Second-In-Command, let’s go out too. It’s late, the meat is about to be devoured by those fellows from Black Tiger Bastion,” another bandit said to the young man leading them.
It really is him.
Hearing the middle-aged driver’s words, the young man was certain that the person in the carriage was that youth whom he still could not forget.
The other bandits were beginning to pester the young man.
“If you don’t want to die, stay right here,” the young man instructed.
“Second-In-Command, you mean…”
The knife-scarred man and the other bandits had confusion written all over their faces. They could not understand why their Second-In-Command of Green Wolf Bastion, who had always acted swiftly and decisively, had suddenly become so timid.
“Just enjoy the show… Qian Tongtian is in a heap of trouble.”
The young man narrowed his eyes, and the corners of his mouth curled up in a cold smile.
Meanwhile, seeing that the bandits surrounding the carriage had remounted their horses and were staring at him with a predatory look, the middle-aged driver hastily fumbled for a small bell in his pocket and threw it into the carriage.
Ding, Ding… Ding… Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding…
The bell made a clear ringing sound as it fell to the floor.
“What? Throwing a bell to help your young master recover from his shock?”
Qian Tongtian grinned, the saber in his hand already raised, ready to give the signal for his bandits to attack.
The bandits surrounding the carriage could not help but laugh at Qian Tongtian’s words.
Having heard the bell, Zhou Donghuang had already woken from his practice.
“Only a little more, and I would have broken through to attain level-one of Qi-gathering… too bad I was interrupted. If I had not been interrupted, I would have made the breakthrough within half an hour at most.”
In the cabin of the carriage, Zhou Donghuang’s expression became so heavy that it seemed water would drip from it. “Now that I’ve been interrupted, I will need at least half a day before I can make the breakthrough.”
Pulling aside the curtains of the cabin, Zhou Donghuang walked out.
The middle-aged guard who was driving the carriage bowed and greeted Zhou Donghuang respectfully, and continued, “These bandits don’t believe that you, Young Master, are the new owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, and I have no idea what to do with them, so…”
“Hmm, I know.” Zhou Donghuang nodded, and just as his gaze fell on the person before him, he gave a slight start. “A ferghana horse?”
The fine steed that Qian Tongtian, the Second-In-Command of Black Tiger Bastion who led these bandits was mounted on was also a ferghana horse.
“You are the new owner of Yunxuan Restaurant?”
Seeing Zhou Donghuang come out, Qian Tongtian’s smile became wider, and his eyes were full of disdain and spite.
From what he saw, he could crush this fifteen or sixteen-year-old youth to death with any one of his fingers!
“I see that you are the leader of these bandits.”
Zhou Donghuang got off and walked to the front of the carriage, his icy gaze finding Qian Tongtian. “Do you know… that you have disturbed my practice?”