The sun shone brightly in the sky above. The sound of animals was ever present in the forest. Mortal birds were chirping, and a mortal deer fearfully advanced through the dense thicket in fear of arousing the attention of a Fierce Beast or a human.
Suddenly, this lively forest turned deadly silent. The birds dared not chirp, and the deer dared not move.
It was as if a predator had started to move within the ecosystem; the entire area was silent, yet the animals still dared not move.
Finally, the sound of rustling appeared, after which a young man stepped out from behind a dense cluster of branches and bushes.
This young man was wearing tattered red clothes that had seen better days. Although his clothes were made from Fierce Beast silk, they were clearly worn down from extensive travel through desolate and difficult areas.
He had worn his clothes when the beast horde attacked back in the Kingdom of Heping's capital. They had been worn when the Ice Harpy had dragged him away, which left behind gaping holes by his shoulders.
These clothes had been worn when he was in prison and later on when he was escaping. He had worn them when he went to save Tie Haolong and when he later fled the battle. He had even worn those same clothes while cremating Tie Haolong.
Xue Wei had long since wanted to change them, but he knew that it was too risky for him to enter a village or city. He was simply too easy to recognize, and he knew that there would be someone chasing him.
Because of this, he had traveled in deserted areas. In places filled with beasts and no humans.
Along the way, he found out that the beasts went silent and tried to hide their presence whenever he came by; even the Fierce Beasts tried to dig themselves into a hole, so although Xue Wei was traveling through extremely dangerous areas, he did not encounter any difficulties in the form of having to fight beasts.
As he came out of the forest, he found that a small village was present in front of him. Contemplating for some time, Xue Wei wondered what his plans were.
"I wish to visit Lingyun Town," Xue Wei pondered. "I know that it will be incredibly dangerous and also a little stupid to go since I am likely to be chased and captured. Still, something is calling for me. If I do not go, this unrest will never leave my body."
"As to what I can do after visiting Lingyun town, I guess I will decide by then."
"I guess one option is to enter the center of the continent and visit Lan... but at the same time, this seems rather risky too. I have no intention to follow Lan, which means his incentive to assist me will drop drastically. At the same time, everyone in the Kingdom of Heping knows about my relationship with Lan; if they can't find me any other way, then they will move towards the center of the continent. I highly doubt that they will let me be."
"In that case, finding him might be as dangerous as going towards Lingyun town. Also, I cannot forget that I am currently marked as a criminal, someone who is colluding with Primordial Beasts."
"Although Lan is strong, and although he has a group of supporters, the truth is that every strong man will have strong opposition. If rumors come out about Lan supporting someone who might be a Primordial Beast, he will be put in a tough spot. He will be forced to deliver me to the government."
Xue Wei pondered deeply, and then he sighed. "I want to kill Chu Huiyin. She has caused much trouble for me; she has framed me and taken everything I wanted away from me. It is only fair that I return the favor, but to do so I need to be incredibly strong."
"But Chu Huiyin is not the only thing I care about," Xue Wei said, his eyes turning serious and his lips tightening to a straight line. "I need to avenge Tie Haolong. I cannot accept that he sacrificed himself for me so that I could escape, only to be left unavenged."
"Until I get revenge for Tie Haolong – and revenge for myself – I will not allow anyone to stop or capture me."
Xue Wei was chatting to himself, his eyes which had been slightly lost were now focused. His determination was strong. They wanted to destroy his life? They will see how he takes his revenge on them, see how he kills them all!
They wanted to condemn him? See how he condemns the world. See how he condemns the heavens!
A slow fire started burning inside Xue Wei. He felt energized – he felt strong enough to be able to stand against the entire world if need be.
Xue Wei once more glanced at the village in front of him before he merged back into the forest. He waited for the night to fall.
These citizens were all farmers. Although they had previously been cultivators, none of them had been talented. They were very well aware of the fact that if they went to do work as mercenaries or soldiers, they would die.
Instead, they had settled as farmers. Some grew medicinal herbs, while others grew more mundane crops necessary for their livelihood.
Xue Wei watched as the men and women returned from their fields once it was dusk and entered their small homes.
Clothes were washed and hung outside to dry in the gentle summer breeze, and Xue Wei waited until all lights were turned off and all of the villagers had gone to sleep.
It was at this time that he snuck into the village and swiped some clothes that he could fit in.
Although these clothes were made of ordinary beast fabrics rather than the Fierce Beast silk his own were made of, they were clean and soft on the skin.
They also made it possible for Xue Wei to almost blend in as a commoner.
All men his age were in the army, even the ones a year younger than him had just entered the recruitment camp, so seeing a young man travel the roads usually meant he was a deserter or on a mission.
In such a situation, Xue Wei would still stick out like a sore thumb when he was traveling in the crowded areas, and he understood that it was better to avoid them as much as possible.
Unfortunately, as he traveled further and further north, it was impossible to completely avoid areas inhabited by humans, and Xue Wei, who thought that he could never be too cautious, created a bamboo hat he wore on his head.
His sleeves were long and reached past to cover his hands. The bamboo hat cast an obscuring shade over his face, and he was tall enough to seem like an average adult despite having yet to finish his growth spurt.
He was lean of build, and although he had some muscles, one could see that it belonged to a youth. Fortunately for Xue Wei, his baggy robes were more than enough to hide that.
Xue Wei could feel his heart hammering away in his chest as he reached the end of the animal trail he had been traversing.
This trail ended as it connected to a road that crossed through the forest. Although the road seemed somewhat empty at the moment, Xue Wei could sense and see on the many trails that were evident on the road itself that it was well used.
Taking this path would make it possible for Xue Wei to reach the Northern Territory sooner than if he continued to travel through the wildlands, but he also understood that with this speedy travel came more dangers in the form of random encounters, possibly with hostile forces.
If it were just normal soldiers that were after Xue Wei, he did not fear them too much. However, if they were Primordial Beast Hunters, then he was in for a lot of trouble.
Xue Wei understood that he had played it safe for around two weeks now, traveling in areas vacant of human presence. And although he had avoided danger by doing so, he had also lost a lot of information about what had been going on in the rest of the kingdom.
Xue Wei was torn, but then he shook his head, and his eyes turned ruthless. "I won't gain anything if I do not risk something as well," he mumbled to himself with conviction evident in every single word.
"I will avoid the bigger cities, but the smaller ones I can enter," he decided.
"I have no money... they took all my items when I was captured, but I can still listen to conversations from the shadows."
Xue Wei had made a decision, and he saw no reason to waste any time. He was close to the Northern Territory by now, and he could feel the excitement grow with each step he took.
The road towards a small village meant that Xue Wei once more had to enter the world of humans once more.
As he did, his worry about being penniless was quickly addressed. He had to walk through a small canyon. This canyon looked peaceful and average from the outside, yet when Xue Wei entered he soon found that it was anything but that.
Here, he encountered more than one life-and-death situation. He was forced to flee at times, and forced to rely on his bloodlust at other times.
Finally, when he came out on the other side, he had gained the possessions of three bandits. Although it had not made him rich, he had earned enough money to be able to enter an inn and ask for a simple meal once in a while. This would make information gathering much simpler.
He had also managed to get a few different sets of clothes that he changed into. And although his bamboo hat had been damaged, he quickly made a new one.
The canyon had taught Xue Wei to always be on guard. While the canyon itself gave off a simple and beautiful image, danger had lurked around every corner, and it was only now that he understood just how threatening the outside world was. And he’d only begun exploring the depths of the Kingdom of Heping, a backend kingdom that others looked down upon for simply being too weak.
Xue Wei walked down a dusty road. His black clothes had long since been covered with a whole layer of dust, and his hair swayed like tight ropes every time the wind passed by due to the dust that had settled in the long black strands of hair that could be seen beneath the bamboo hat.
Xue Wei wore simple black shoes with nearly worn-down heels, and he could feel that he had walked for a long time before a small village finally came into sight in the distance.
Xue Wei had always lived in major cities such as Tiankong City and the capital, so when he saw the small town he was heading into, he looked around curiously before he got a grip on himself and slowly headed straight for the middle of town where the inn was located.
The town was big enough to have an inn, and it also had various shops, but it was not big enough to be considered a city.
Xue Wei walked straight into the inn where he found a table in the back. The lighting there was dim as it sat in the shadows and not many would notice it.
It was early morning, and Xue Wei ordered some breakfast, paid for it together with a room, and leaned back, ready to listen in on the conversations of both patrons that frequented this inn and other travelers. He knew that it would take quite a long time before such visitors appeared, but he was hungry and wished to sit down for a bit.
Despite being an inn in a small town, the staff were all experienced. Although the seat he had picked was inconspicuous and many would expect that it was an error, the truth was that it was there especially for those seeking information. Only those who wished not to be noticed and still gather information would sit in such a place.
Because of this, they did not even blink an eye when Xue Wei stayed seated even after finishing his meal.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
First chapter in book 3 - Stars are Falling! Enjoy it and please look forward to what is to come :D Thank you so much for your support everyone, it truly means a lot to me!
Betareader: Soultorrent & Norwegian Viking