Book 1 Chapter 10: Target, Blackwood Stronghold!
As Bai Yunfei quivered, he forced out these two words through his teeth. He slowly turned around to take a look and saw that at a place about a dozen meters away from him, a youngster dressed in luxurious clothes with a paper fan in his hand was smilingly saying something to a young girl beside him — it was none other than Zhang Yang!
Only by clenching his fists tightly and gnashing his teeth almost to the point of bleeding could Bai Yunfei refrain himself from recklessly rushing up to fight him to the death, because he knew that he probably could not even beat the bodyguards around Zhang Yang at the moment.
“Not a bad idea. I’ll pick a nice item or two to give auntie when we return. And I’m going home in a couple of days, so I’m bringing back some presents for my mother as well.”
A crystalline voice came into Bai Yunfei’s ears. He shifted his eyes to have a look and saw a blue-clad young girl with long silky hair and a slim figure who was looking at the business shops on the sides of the street in an unconcerned manner with her back facing him.
Bai Yunfei watched the two silhouettes gradually walk away in stupefaction. It seemed an indescribable kind of feeling had swept across his mind. He patted his head with force to calm down a bit then turned around and walked in the other direction.
Using an amount of money, he repaired his mother’s and grandfather’s graves nicely then made two tombstones and placed them on the front of the graves. Afterwards, he went through the whole city buying many things, including food, clothing, utensils, weapons, jewelry and so on. Because he had an interspatial ring, it was very convenient to do this.
Teaching those three bullies a lesson in that alleyway this morning had put a new thought in his mind. Now he knew that training hard behind closed doors all the time was not the best regime. He still lacked a very important thing, which was actual combat experience.
Therefore, starting from this day, except for training at home, Bai Yunfei would go out for an hour or two before he went to bed every night to specifically find those bullies and scoundrels in the city and fight them.
But he noticed a problem very quickly — these opponents were too easy and simply not on his level. After all, they were just some lowly gangsters who normally bullied the weak common people. Bai Yunfei felt that fighting them was not helpful to him at all. The only benefit of this was that he could give these people some well-deserved punishments, allowing those commoners who were normally bullied by them to clap their hands in satisfaction.
But the larger criminal groups in the city were basically all under the control of the Zhang family. Bai Yunfei was afraid of revealing himself so he had never targeted them — before he had enough power, he had to be careful in everything he did.
After nine such days, Bai Yunfei decided to choose a new target to combat — the bandits on Mt. Blackwood.
Mt. Blackwood was about a ten-day journey away from Luoshi City. It abounded with blackwood trees, hence its name. Because three of its sides were precipices and cliffs and the only path leading up the mountain on the other side was wide at the top and narrow at the base, it was naturally easy to defend but hard to attack. At an indefinite time in the past, a gang of ruffians began to gather on the mountain. They occupied the mountain, became bandits and established the Blackwood Stronghold. They focused on robbing trade caravans and the businesses of the villages around the mountain. The mayor of Luoshi City had sent troops to suppress the bandits several times, but they had all returned in defeat and low spirits.
Previously, Bai Yunfei had often heard about the atrocious acts of the bandits on Mt. Blackwood. He had even heard that some villages had been destroyed completely by them. At that time, he had only been able to sigh silently, curse and wish ill fate on these bandits. But now, perhaps because he had changed mentally after gaining power, he felt that he should do something to fulfill the ‘wish’ that he had occasionally thought about before.
Of course, he did not think that he could exterminate all the bandits in the Blackwood Stronghold singlehandedly at all. He just wanted to go and deal with those small groups of bandits that came down from the mountain to develop himself in real combat. Given Bai Yunfei’s current power, dealing with ordinary bandits would not be difficult. Moreover, those bandits usually did all kinds of evil, so capturing them and handing them over to the local authorities could be regarded as ridding the people of a scourge. And even if he killed them, this would not prick his conscience.
After preparing all the necessities, Bai Yunfei went out of Luoshi City, heading for Mt. Blackwood.
This was the first time he had gone on a long journey out of town so everything in the outside world was relatively strange to him. Therefore, he did not deliberately hurry on with his journey either. Instead, he trained and tried to get used to the skills needed to survive alone in the wild.
Because he was unfamiliar with the roads, he had to ask for directions along the way. Afterwards, he discovered a problem — his sense of direction seemed to be slightly poor.
Even though the general direction was correct, he had taken many detours. Someone had obviously told him that it would take him half a day to reach a certain place, but he had walked confusedly and needed almost a day to reach that place.
This was especially the case when he once took a super short route across a forest. He walked about in the forest for a whole day and night, and even encountered quite a few wild beasts. But he regarded them all as targets to improve his skills. Although he still had not started fighting humans, he had already gained quite a lot of experience thanks to the wild beasts.
On the sixth day after leaving Luoshi City, Bai Yunfei climbed over a hill in the evening. Seeing a hamlet not far from the foot of the hill, he decided to go there to stay a night and conveniently ask for directions…
… … … …
Bai Yunfei was currently on the south side of the hamlet. But at this moment, on a trail in the west side of the hamlet, an urgent clatter of horse hooves broke the tranquility around. A group of over thirty people on galloping horses came running.
These people all looked ferocious. One could tell at first sight that they were not good people. Moreover, they all carried weapons on their bodies. In the forefront was a middle-aged man with a yellow face and a bulbous nose. He was not as burly and fierce-looking as those men behind him, but when his eyes occasionally swept around, they were full of astuteness. He observed the color of the sky then said to the people behind him: “The horses have been running quickly for a day. It’s time they rested. Everybody, let’s make a camp in that grove up ahead. We’ll rest for a night then continue the journey!”
They arrived in the grove then began to put up tents and made a fire to prepare their meal. That middle-aged leader was sitting on a rock, drinking in small amounts from a jug of wine in his hand.
“This time Headmaster was pretty satisfied with the tributes brought back into the school so he has bestowed upon us a soul item. Chief’s already got the Goldsilk Soul Armor. With this Glacial Pricker, he’ll definitely become much more powerful. This time I’ve accomplished the mission pretty well. When I come back, Chief will surely reward me big-time!” At this point, he could not help stroking a bar-shaped wooden case in his bosom, “Soul items… When can I have one?”
Right at this moment, a big man with a full beard and eyes like those of a dead fish walked up to the middle-aged man and said in a somewhat ingratiate manner: “Hallmaster Zhong, there’s a hamlet not far up ahead. I want to go there with several brothers to snatch some tasty things then return. For the last few days, those brothers have had to eat the dried foods they carry with them so they are all dying for some meat already…”
The middle-aged man with the surname Zhong cast a look at him and scolded laughingly: “I see it’s not that you want to snatch food for our brothers, but that you want women again, right?” As soon as he said these words, the people around all laughed out loud.
That big man with dead fish eyes gave a dry cough, somewhat speechless. At this moment, that Hallmaster Zhong continued: “Then take ten brothers and go there. Snatch anything valuable you can see. Anyway, this is a remote and backward place so government troops won’t come here either.”
A happy expression appeared on that big man’s face. He shouted: “Thank you, Hallmaster!”
… … … …
In the quiet hamlet, smoke was curling upwards from kitchen chimneys. Several children were running happily. A big golden dog was lying lazily on its stomach at the opening of the hamlet, bathed in the light of the setting sun.
Suddenly, the big golden dog’s ears trembled. Its eyes showed alertness. It stood up with a roll then slightly bent its body. Staring ahead, it gave low growls from its mouth.
The ground seemed to be shaking a bit. Then urgent sounds of horse hooves were heard. A group of mounted men had appeared on the road outside the village and was galloping towards the village.
A youngster about twenty years old was carrying two buckets of water on his shoulder with a pole walking towards a house. Hearing the sounds of movements behind him, he looked back doubtfully.
As soon as he took a look, his rather handsome face turned deathly pale then showed a deep fear, his legs starting to quiver. It seemed that only after being stunned for a good few seconds did he finally react. He threw away the pole on his shoulder and rushed to the center of the village, yelling hysterically: “Bandits! Bandits are coming! Bandits are coming!”
As soon as he shouted, the whole village was put on alert. About a hundred people from more than ten families successively went out of their houses. With doubtful expressions on their faces, they looked at that youngster who was crouching in the center of the village with his head buried in his hands.
A young pretty girl with an oval face, big eyes and shoulder-length hair walked up to the trembling youngster and pulled his arm in a deeply concerned manner, saying: “Brother Xiao Feng, what’s happened to you? What are coming here?”
“They, they’re coming again… Destroyed… The village was gone… Everyone died, everyone died… Father, mother… Sister… They’re coming again…”
The youngster mumbled to himself, seemingly frightened out of his wits. But when he heard the young girl’s earnest words, he suddenly woke up with a start. He raised his head abruptly, his face filled with terror and anxiety. Holding the young girl’s hand, he said hurriedly: “They are coming! Quickly go into hiding! Ling’er, quickly go into hiding! All the young women go and hide in the houses! You must not come out! Everybody, take out all the valuables in your family and give them to them! Give them to them… Or you will die… Will die…”
At first, he talked to the young girl, but later he shouted loudly to the villagers around.
Everybody was somewhat at a loss, but they were all affected by his manner and words. With an anxious expression, they looked at an old man about fifty years old on one side simultaneously — that was the village chief.
The expression on the old man’s face right now was somewhat solemn. He looked at the youngster called Xiao Feng then turned his head to look at a group of mounted man who was already close to the village.
“Xiao Feng came from the Li village beside Mt. Blackwood. Because the people in his village resisted the bandits in that Blackwood Stronghold, they were almost exterminated. That’s why now he’s like this…” The village chief seemed to be talking to himself but also seemed to be talking to the people around. Then he lifted his head and told them: “Listen to Xiao Feng, everybody! All the women go into hiding! In a while, don’t resist if they want your possessions!
When the ten something steeds entered the village, the dozens of villagers who were still staying in the center of the village all trembled violently several times. These ferocious people were all carrying chilling large sabers in their hands, looking frightening.
“Oh? The people in your village are a bit special. Looks like you’re even welcoming us? Fine! If you are obedient, your uncle here won’t hurt you today! Quickly bring out all the wine and meat. And bring out all your possessions to show your respect for us too! As long as I’m satisfied, I’ll leave after taking your stuff!” The big man with dead fish eyes said with a laugh, as if he was doing the villagers a great favor.
The village chief looked at the weapons in these men’s hands, not daring to talk back. He bowed to the big man, saying: “Thank you very much for being merciful, Sir. We will go and bring out the things you want. Please wait for a moment…”
After that, he gave the people behind him a signal with his eyes. Even though they did not want to do this, they did not dare to resist. More than ten people turned around and went to their own houses. How could the people who live in mountain hamlets like them dare to resist these ferocious bandits? They were already very glad that today the bandits would only take their possessions and not hurt them.
“Wait!” But the big man with dead fish eyes suddenly shouted, causing everybody to jump out of their skin, “Tell the young and pretty women in the village to come out and go with your uncle here! I’ve still got a few dozens brothers waiting in a grove on the mountain. Since you’re all obedient, if they serve them properly, we’ll let them return unharmed!”