Chapter 35: Goodbye Tiankong City
Having said their goodbyes, the entire city was gathered outside the city gates to watch how their young ones were ready to leave for the army. Not even a third of them would return home after the decade had passed.
There were a couple of thousand young women and men, as all the commoners were there too. Most of them were between the fifth layer of the Ordinary Warrior rank, and then there were Luo Zhirou, Shen Mu, Li Jian, and Xue Wei at the ninth layer of the Ordinary Warrior rank.
Some looked scared about the world they were about to embark upon, while others seemed excited. In theory, those who were ranked low would be the first to die, and these young people were aware of it.
A couple of the low-ranked even shed a few tears over their unfortunate situation. It could be that their cultivation talent was lacking, or perhaps they had just not focused enough on cultivating. Either way, they knew that their chances of survival were slim and they could only lament over their fate.
Even these low-ranked experts knew that their sacrifice was needed for the kingdom and humanity, and none of them was willing to run away. They knew that if they did, not only would they be impeded, their entire families would be punished.
Xue Wei observed everything with a calm and distant gaze. These commoners had never treated him well, nor had they treated him poorly because he was Xiao Lei’s nephew, but he knew that they had looked down upon him before.
He knew that they had found pleasure in talking about and mocking him, and thus he felt no remorse for their fate. In this world, only the strong could survive. He had felt it on his own body repeatedly during the five years where he could not cultivate, and now he was much more rational and cold towards those he did not feel any kinship with.
Although he had decided not to seek vengeance against anyone other than Li Jian, he still felt nothing for the group of followers he had; neither did he feel anything for Shen Mu's friends apart from Luo Zhirou.
Luo Zhirou had admitted to her error in front of him. She had apologized sincerely, and she had even brought a gift of apology. Although the present had been mere snacks, he could not help but feel that she had put some consideration into it. Also, he had seen how nervous and scared she had been of him not accepting the apology. As a result, his impression of her had risen to become favorable.
The rest of Shen Mu’s friends were different. Although they would talk to Xue Wei as if they were friends or acquaintances, they would never admit to having been wrong, and neither would they apologize for treating him the way they had the last five years.
As a result, Xue Wei saw them more as a bunch of followers of Shen Mu, and for Shen Mu's sake he would be cordial when dealing with them. However, he would not go out of his way to become friends with them.
Xue Wei stood on the edge of the large group of youngsters, looking at Tiankong City. He had no memories from a world outside of Tiankong City, yet sometimes, during the last five and a half years, he had had visions of a tranquil and idyllic small village sat on the outskirts of a big snowy forest.
After talking with Wang Xiaoyun, he discovered that this village was known as Lingyun Town, a small town that had been subject to the rage and destruction of a Primordial Beast.
No matter how much Xue Wei tried to remember this episode, he had no memories of it, and his head would start throbbing painfully.
"I will find out when I go there," he mumbled to himself. "If it was a Primordial Beast attack and everyone died, why did I survive?" he could not help but wonder. But after sighing, he knew that it made no sense to consider it anymore. Instead, his eyes narrowed as he looked around the dense cluster of youngsters waiting to depart.
Suddenly, a chill went down his spine, and Xue Wei turned around in a rush. There, behind him, was a woman. She was wearing the same outfit as she had dressed in the auction house, and she was riding on the Black Horned Mammoth.
This woman's face was hidden beneath a bamboo hat with a veil around it, and her robe covered her entire body. It was impossible to see where she was looking, but Xue Wei had a feeling that she was staring right at him.
He shivered, and he sensed a deep feeling of danger and threat. It was as if he was standing right in front of a murderous Fierce Beast that was at least a couple of ranks above him.
He swallowed hard as he looked back at the woman, but all of a sudden, the feeling of danger vanished, and the Black Horned Mammoth started moving with the woman seated on top of it.
Everyone had been observing it with reverence. It was no secret that an unknown figure had bought the Black Horned Mammoth, and now that they had seen her, they were filled with curiosity. Everyone was discussing animatedly amongst themselves.
Xue Wei frowned. "Why would she have such killing intent towards me?" he asked himself. "There was nothing in the Auction House. Could it be because of me seeing her hand? But that is rather far-fetched."
Xue Wei was in deep thought, unsure of what exactly could cause this woman to show such hate towards him.
"Her strength is the real thing," he continued. "She was able to release such a heavy atmosphere, yet the only one who noticed it was me, the target. Not even old man Bingwen or Li Fang noticed anything."
Xue Wei's eyes grew round as he reached this conclusion, "Don't tell me that she’s the unknown person who infiltrated Li Fang's mansion."
"It would make sense then," he paused for a bit and rubbed his chin. "She had no enmity with me during the auction house because there was nothing between us, but after talking with Li Jian, I have become her target."
"If that is the case, then I am indeed very unlucky," Xue Wei sighed. "She should be in a realm above the Heavenly Warrior rank, and she should be able to kill me with but a glance, but she did not do it. What does this mean?"
Xue Wei was confused. "Okay, let us see it from the start," he decided.
"We met at the auction house; there was no hostility between us. We met again now, and she released a heavy atmosphere that could threaten me. However, considering her strength, this atmosphere must be a tiny bit of her real power."
"Why would she only release a bit and not it all? Did she not agree with Li Jian to kill me, or does she have some other plans?"
Sighing, Xue Wei shook his head, "I can do nothing but wait and see what happens. Even if I ask old man Bingwen about her, I fear that he would not tell me anything."
"But considering how he was eager to get his hands on the lower ranked beast, he should know about her, at least a little."
Shaking his head, Xue Wei sighed again, "I will have to be alert on this trip, but if that woman truly wishes to kill me, then I won't be able to survive. Still, I will do my very best to stay alive as long as I can."
Having reached this point, Xue Wei was filled with energy. He could feel it flooding through his body, and he knew that he was ready to depart. Whatever happened would happen, and he was just too weak to go against it. Since this was the case, then he would just have to hope for the best.
While he was thinking like this, Li Jian glanced at Xue Wei. His mind was filled with venomous thoughts. Suddenly, a sinister smile curled on his lips.
"Just you wait," he grinned to himself, "in a few days, you will no longer be able to live. I will ensure that you will die on the way to the army. The mysterious lady promised me that you would die!"
"I will make it so that your body will be left in the wilderness with beasts gnawing at your bones. No one will be able to find you again, and it will be done in such a way that I can never be charged for it! I cannot wait to see what she has in mind."
Everyone said their goodbyes, and slowly, the entourage of young experts began moving.
"Everyone, get moving!" the captain of the guards yelled out. "I will be leading you, and we have to rush through the landscape to make it to the army."
"We will be going through dangerous lands, so be ready to defend yourself at all times!"
"We might encounter bandits, and we might encounter Fierce Beasts!"
"We will only rest at night, and everyone is in charge of dealing with their rations. I am not running a charity here; if you cannot provide your food and water, you will be left behind when your energy runs out!"
The captain kept yelling things while they were moving and the faces of everyone present turned paler and paler. Xue Wei had been aware of this beforehand and had a large bag filled with rations, a canteen with water, and other necessities, but even he felt the pressure from this captain.
"We will be traveling for close to two months!" the man called out again. "We are currently in the southern areas of Heping Kingdom, but the army camp for all recruits is in the central regions. To get there will take us two months, and these months will be dangerous."
"We will encounter danger on the way, and some of you will die. If you cannot trust your comrades with your back, then you are likely to be the first to die; no one can fight alone in these situations."
"I am a Sky Warrior, and all the guards are Earth Warriors. We should be able to get rid of any possible threat. But if you are in danger, then know that you cannot desert your comrades. Instead, fight to the death! Any deserter will have their families marked as the family of a deserter. I will keep count on who dies throughout the entire trip!"
"Now, no more talking. Spend all your energy on moving. Some of you are too weak, and the trip will be long. Try not to die from exhaustion on the way!"
Having said this, the captain said no more, and he just began moving. The couple of thousand youngsters that were following behind him all felt uncomfortable and worried. They knew that life in the army would be harsh and that many of them would die, but to think that they would die already before they made it there. That was simply inconceivable.
Xue Wei was not too worried about himself. He knew that there were bandits within Heping Kingdom, but most of them were Ordinary Warriors, and although they were many, it would require quite some guts to attack a group of more than a couple of thousand experts.
The only thing Xue Wei truly feared was a beast horde. Primordial Beasts controlled beast hordes, and if one of those attacked them, they were likely to have a whole lot of sacrifices amongst their people. It would be impossible to get unscathed out of a beast horde, as they fought with an unending ferocity, and they had bodies stronger than any human of the same cultivation stage.