Xue Wei and Hei Gou both looked curiously at the village. Although it was many times smaller than Tiankong City, it was the first ‘proper’ human settlement either had visited in a long time.
When on the run, they did everything they could to avoid human settlements. Although they had lived amongst others in the Chaos Vulture Tribe, that was a nomadic society with tents for houses.
This was something that reminded Xue Wei of his home, which made a slight tinge of sadness wash over his heart. A sense of loss followed this sadness, but Xue Wei quickly picked his saddened heart up from the floor and clenched his hands.
The Kingdom of Heping was no longer his home. They had hunted him and killed Tie Haolong, who was like a brother to him. It was only fair that he took vengeance when he became stronger. At the same time, however, he had mixed emotions because it had also been the place he had grown up. Most of his earliest, happiest memories came from this place as well.
Xue Wei could not help but sigh as he looked up into the dazzling sun and squinted his eyes.
"The sun is the same; the air is still fresh. People behave the same no matter where you go, so it does not matter where I am. It is a shame that I have nowhere to call home, but I have a friend by my side, and I am not alone. I should not be greedy. Being with a brother is already better than having that empty home in the Heping Kingdom where I was bullied every single day," Xue Wei muttered to himself.
Hei Gou did not notice Xue Wei's sudden onset of melancholy; his eyes were wide as saucers as he looked at everything around him.
Although they had been in villages before, it was a rare thing, and he was now excited to see more of the way humans lived their lives.
This village was the same size as Lingyun Town, but it was filled with life. The streets were bustling as carriages came driving down the roads, mercenaries returned from their work in the Vermilion Forest, and women and children rushed about on their way to deal with the chores they had.
Xue Wei awakened from his strange trance and looked around. "Let us find an inn. We can stay in a proper bed for the night, and then head out to the Vermilion Forest tomorrow. No one here knows us, so we will continue to call ourselves He Jie and He Lin," he said with a compressed voice.
Hei Gou returned to his senses as he heard Xue Wei's voice. Xue Wei did not mind Hei Gou looking so surprised and bedazzled as they walked through the village. They were supposed to have come from the Flowing Blood Prairie where everyone lived a nomadic lifestyle, so it was natural for them to be stunned upon seeing such a village like theirs.
In fact, Hei Gou's reaction made the people who noticed it chuckle and be thoroughly convinced that these two experts came from the Flowing Blood Prairie on a journey to temper themselves.
Seeing that Hei Gou was not answering, Xue Wei smiled and shook his head as he dragged Hei Gou with him towards the inn that was located right in the middle of the village.
Many small children ran right behind Xue Wei and Hei Gou. Every one of these children curiously looked at the two strangers. It was clear that they wished to ask lots of questions, but their upbringing had taught them that strangers could be dangerous and thus no one dared to be the first to engage the two strangers.
Xue Wei chuckled when he saw this. After regaining some of his memories from Lingyun Town, he remembered being exactly like them, running right behind the mercenaries as they returned from the Northern Taiga to hear their tales of the Fierce Beasts they had fought or the treasures they had found.
If merchants came to town, the children would gather at the square in the middle of the village to get a glance at what they were selling or buying, and if some wandering strangers appeared, they would also curiously follow them to hear about the happenings of the outside world.
These children were all learning martial arts, but the truth was that they were weak. Their entire world was the village in which they lived, and that would be all they saw until the day they were drafted into the army.
They were too weak to enter the hunting grounds, and their task was to cultivate for the sake of facing the beast hordes. No one allowed a child beneath the age of twenty-five to become a worker of any kind. These children were supposed to cultivate and gain strength for the sake of the kingdom's future.
Since this was the case, the older children would be the most curious about the outside world. The older they got, the more curious they would become the more time they spent confined to the boundaries of their respective villages, but they were often too proud to go and observe the strangers.
Hei Gou did not understand this. At the same time as the children were following Xue Wei and Hei Gou, some of the mortal beasts in the village started acting strangely. A few dogs ran to Hei Gou with wagging tails and licked his hand before he shooed them away.
This scene made many puzzled, as these dogs were ferocious guard dogs. Although they were not Fierce Beasts, they could still cause some damage to humans with their sharp canines and their large sizes.
They were in no way docile animals, but they had shown complete and utter endearment towards this young man from the Flowing Blood Prairie.
This caused Xue Wei to break out in cold sweat suddenly. Were they now going to be exposed because of this?
Fortunately, no one paid it too much attention other than being stunned for a moment. As they made their way into the inn, the previously loud and bustling place turned quiet, with the patrons curiously looking at Xue Wei and Hei Gou.
"I would like two rooms," Xue Wei said as he reached the counter and placed enough silver on the table to pay for the rooms.
The matron behind the counter nodded her head and picked up two keys that she threw to the two young men. Each key had a number on them. One was number seven, the other number eight.
"The rooms are upstairs. Make yourselves at home," she said, grinning. She was a rather stout woman with a big smile on her face. She looked very friendly and straightforward.
Xue Wei and Hei Gou nodded to her and headed to their rooms where they found two servants busy filling two big tubs with warm water.
They quickly scrubbed the dirt off their bodies, causing them to feel rejuvenated, before they jumped into the water. Both sighed with relief, and their bodies were almost screaming in joy when they felt the warm water soften their skin.
Hei Gou was the last to finish his bath. After switching into a new set of fur clothes from the Chaos Vulture Tribe, the two walked downstairs to listen in on the conversations of the Vermilion Forest Kingdom’s latest affairs, and what they could expect from their new environment.
As they entered the restaurant section of the inn once more, the patrons shifted their attention to them. They both felt like two sore thumbs sticking out as they moved to an empty table.
Xue Wei placed some silver on the table and ordered some simple dishes and wine.
Although they were not wealthy, they could afford a few meals and a place to stay for a few days, but their plans were different. They wished to enter the Vermilion Forest as soon as possible the following day, but charging into a forest without knowing the least bit about it was unwise.
Noticing that all eyes were on them, Xue Wei could not help but cough and stand up and cup his fists. "Excuse me, everyone. We are just two brothers coming from the Flowing Blood Prairie. There is no news from the prairie, as the Prairie Monarchs have not made any moves in a long time. Although skirmishes appear between the various tribes, nothing major has happened that we can tell you about, and thus I hope you will all return to your discussions and pay us no heed."
The men and women within the restaurant were all slightly disappointed when they heard this, but they were also relieved at the same time. The Flowing Blood Prairie was not a threat because the Prairie Monarchs were on different sides, but if they choose to band together, then a kingdom like the Heping Kingdom and the Vermilion Forest Kingdom would have no chance of withstanding them and would end up being swallowed up whole by the Flowing Blood Prairie's tribes.
Xue Wei’s politeness also managed to make the experts present feel favorable towards them, and soon the establishment returned to its previously bustling and noisy state
Xue Wei and Hei Gou received their food and drinks and slowly started eating while listening in on anything that was being said across the restaurant.
"I heard that his Highness the Crown Prince has sent an ambassador to the Kingdom of Heping because a new Primordial Beast has emerged in their territory. I don't know much about it, but it should be a serious contender on the list of the most deadly beasts in our region of the continent!"
Hearing this, Xue Wei's eyebrow rose slightly, and he almost chuckled. Rumors had the ability to grow the further they went.
"I heard that a Primordial Beast that resides within the Vermilion Forest is on a rampage and causing great trouble at the western and southern border of the forest. At least us here in the northern border are safe."
"The yearly recruitment camp began a few months ago... I wonder how my son is doing in the army."
"I heard that Du Fang met with disaster in the Vermilion Forest last week. His widowed wife is now forced to enter the forest to find herbs for a way to put food on the table and save her children from starvation."
"The butcher is buying Fierce Beast cores from Ordinary Warrior ranked Fierce Beasts to give them to his son so that he can cultivate faster than the other children, but no matter how much he tries he is but a frog in a well. Even if he consumes these cores, doesn't he use the same cultivation technique as the others? He is going to be cannon fodder like everyone else from our village."
They were all talking about random things within the restaurant. Although Xue Wei and Hei Gou listened intently, they did not get much information other than that some Primordial Beast had run amok in other areas of the Vermilion Forest.
Looking at one another, Xue Wei and Hei Gou nodded their heads, ate the last of their food, and went upstairs to their rooms.
As Xue Wei entered the room, he laid down on the bed for a short while, pondering on everything that had happened to him in the last couple of months. He was still considered a youngster, but he felt that he had already gone through more than most would in an entire lifetime. However, things were far from over.
Sighing, he shook his head and rested his eyes for a short while before stretching and enjoying the soft feeling of the bed.
Time ticked by slowly and he had soon rested for a full hour. After the hour was up, he sat up on the bed and began cultivating. An hour of rest was already as much as he could afford, and just enough to calm his mind.Previous Chapter Next Chapter