Chapter 46: The Capital
The entire group of youngsters looked around with big, wide open eyes. They knew that Tiankong City was a major city in the Heping Kingdom, but comparing it to the capital was the same as seeing an ant next to an elephant.
As they moved through the gates, everyone was stunned silly by the sheer size of the city wall alone.
It was more than five times as tall as the city wall surrounding Tiankong City, and the gates were equally impressive.
A steady stream of people entered and exited these gates. Some were in caravans, while others were on their own. Some rode on horses, while others walked on foot.
Some were dressed in fine clothes, while others were in rags. Some were beggars, and yet some were noble-born.
It was impossible for the group to hesitate at the gates, as the ones from behind pushed them further into the city, and the group was filled with dread as they followed behind the captain, fearful of losing him from their sight.
They walked down major roads and came further and further into the city. At the outskirts, the town had mainly consisted of houses and residential areas with the odd inn and restaurant here and there, but the further into the town they came, the more marketplaces they found.
It was on one of these marketplaces that the captain finally came to a standstill in a corner, and everyone grouped around him.
"We will meet outside of the gate where we entered at noon a week from now," the captain announced. "Those who do not show up are on their own to get to the recruitment camp. If you do not make it, it will be treated as if you deserted."
Having said this, the captain gestured for the guards to follow him, leaving behind the youngsters.
"Well, we ought to first find ourselves an inn," Shen Mu said as the first and the others nodded their heads. The commoners who did not have any coins with them decided to split up into groups consisting of their friends before they ventured into the city in search of somewhere to sell their beast cores.
"They will not all make it back alive," Xue Wei mumbled to himself. If they were prudent and only sold one or two beast cores at a time, they should be fine. But if they sold more, they were likely to be targeted by thugs within the city.
Too much wealth could easily cause people to go blind with greed and not care about the consequences. Especially since these commoner experts were all using some clothes of varying quality. Some of them were of excellent quality, as their families had saved up for a good set of clothes, while others were wearing clothes made from more ordinary fabrics.
Those with clothes from ordinary fabric were especially likely to lose their little lives. They were not nobles and their background wasn’t terrifying. It was highly unlikely that anyone would find the thugs and cause problems for them later on.
Being realistic about all of this, Xue Wei just shook his head and smiled slightly. He did not have a favorable impressions of these youngsters. Although they were now looking at him with reverence, they had all looked down on him before. Although he would never go as far as to kill them himself for revenge, he would not go out of his way to save them either.
"Well, should we look for an inn?" Shen Mu turned to look at Xue Wei. Although the leader of the group was Shen Mu, he felt that it was only natural that he asked for Xue Wei's opinion since he was undoubtedly the strongest amongst them.
"Sounds good," Xue Wei said, not saying much more than that. He was not in a rush to get rid of his beast cores, and as long as no one knew what was in his bag, he would be fine.
He also acknowledged that going together as a group was a lot safer than going alone. Although his strength was slightly overwhelming amongst the group of youngsters, he was also very well aware that these thugs in the city were all ruthless and used to fighting. The majority of them were Earth Warriors.
Although Xue Wei could kill a one layered Earth Warrior, hold his own against a second layered Earth Warrior, and escape from a third layered Earth Warrior, he was also aware that he was not as formidable as the youngsters made him seem.
This was the capital; it was filled with hidden dragons and crouching tigers. Geniuses were as vast as the clouds in the sky here. Although he had reached the ninth layered Ordinary Warrior rank within half a year’s time, he also understood that he had not had enough time to cultivate. He was simply not capable of reaching the strength of an Earth Warrior just yet, making it impossible for him to compare to the most talented geniuses of the capital.
"I have never been in the capital before," Shen Mu said after hesitating for a moment. "I know nothing about this place," he continued with a sigh, and only then did Xue Wei speak.
"The capital is split into the outer city and the inner city. To enter the outer city is free and everyone can come and go as they please. The inner city, on the other hand, is different. There, you have to pay a silver coin for entry, but it is also many times safer than the outer city."
"The outer city has a guard corps often referred to as the Mastiffs, while the corps within the inner city are known as Bloodhounds."
"The Mastiffs are bribed by many of the underground organizations and the thugs. They will only move on direct orders from the Bloodhounds, and the majority of their pay comes from money they are given by the shady organizations to overlook their way of working."
"If you die in the outer city, you are fortunate if they even bother to cremate your body and not just dump you in the river that runs through the city."
"The inner city, on the other hand, is almost free of crime. Certain syndicates have been allowed access as long as they follow certain rules, but in general, you are much safer inside the inner city."
Xue Wei finished his recount of the capital, and all of Shen Mu and his friends stared at him with shock in their eyes.
"How do you know all of this?" Shen Mu could not help but ask, but Xue Wei just smiled slightly. He knew a lot more about the capital than that, but he figured that the most critical information was about the safety levels of the outer and inner cities.
This was the benefit of having read every single book in the library back at the Xiao Lei Mansion. He had indeed gained a world of knowledge, and some of the books had naturally been about the capital of the country he resided within.
"I suggest we go to the inner city in that case," Shen Mu made a quick decision, and the others nodded their heads. They all were acutely aware that they were weak. Since that was the case, the most suitable course of action for them would be to lower the risk of danger happening around them.
Xue Wei looked at the sky above and frowned. "We have to hurry up," he said with a sigh. "The gates to the inner city close at sundown, so we have at most two hours to get to the inner city gates. At least I saw a map of the capital once, so I should be able to lead us there, but we might make a few detours as I do not want us to enter small alleyways or underground markets."
"Our best option is to find the main road; it will lead straight to the gates," Xue Wei deducted, and no one questioned him, all of them observing him as if he was their new leader.
It was not only them, but other nobles who had previously followed Li Jian had also stayed back to hear what Shen Mu was planning. After overhearing what Xue Wei had said, all of them nodded their heads in unison and decided that they would follow this other group into the inner city.
And thus it ended with around fifty young nobles from Tiankong City following behind Xue Wei as he made his way through the capital.
Although they were in a bit of a hurry, Xue Wei still ensured that his speed was slow enough that he could observe everything that happened around him.
They quickly found the main road and followed it. It ran next to the river, which came into sight shortly after. It was a beautiful sight that they had never before seen in Tiankong City.
It bustled with life around the river. Some were cleaning clothes; others were gathering water. Children would play on the riverside, and elderly men were sitting playing chess with one another down next to the river bends.
Small vessels were sailing on the river, bringing items from one place to another or cruising customers back and forth.
The city thrived. The road they were walking on was filled with carriages, caravans, horses, and even Fierce Beasts could be seen from time to time.
It was clear that having a Fierce Beast in the capital was a rare occurrence, but far from as rare as it was in Tiankong City. Mortal beasts could be seen everywhere, dragging carriages or being used as mounts.
Although they were good mounts, the truth was that any cultivator of the fifth layer of the Ordinary Warrior rank was faster than any mortal horse could ever be. However, it was unbecoming to run within the city and much more elegant to ride on mortal beasts while looking down on the masses.
"Look!" one of the noble-born suddenly exclaimed as he pointed in front of them. There, a second wall stood tall, separating the inner and outer cities from one another. Although this wall was not as tall as the first one, it was even more terrifying.
On the top of the wall were guards marching and glaring down at everyone who came too close. Anyone who tried to sneak over the wall would be killed on the spot.
"Don't point," Shen Mu said breathlessly. He could feel the pressure emitted by these guards, and he felt rather nervous that they would find this group of country bumpkins unsuited to enter the inner city.
"Get in line," Xue Wei said. Everyone had been speaking throughout their trip towards the inner city gates, everyone apart from Xue Wei. He had been completely quiet as he observed the surrounding areas, and the differences between Tiankong City and the capital.
"Although the Heping Kingdom is considered a poor kingdom with a lack of cultivators, the capital is still this stunning. I can't imagine what the rest of the continent's cities looks like," Xue Wei mumbled to himself and for once felt small. Clenching his hands and finding his determination, Xue Wei smiled to himself.
"One day, I will see the rest of the continent. I will see the most marvelous sights, and I will do it together with Xiaoyun and Uncle!"
Xue Wei did not have any doubt in himself. "Even if I am far behind the others in terms of cultivation, I just need to work harder than them; then the world will be open to me! If I work hard and prove my worth, then one day I too will become a legend!"