AST 2338 – Water Nation, Water Emperor, Duke Palace, Heishui City
It was then when a clatter of hasty beast hooves sounded. Dust lifted and filled the air a distance away, as a big group of demonic beast riders headed towards them.
Qing Shui didn’t manage to adapt to the situation momentarily. He didn’t know what was going on, but all was answered with a look at the villager’s expression. Could it be that these were bandits?
“What are these ruthless devils doing here? Young lad, you better leave. Go to the back. These people are merciless in their murders.” The old village chief told Qing Shui in haste.
“Elder, who are these people? What are they doing here?” Qing Shui didn’t leave and had instead asked calmly.
“They are the Black Armored Army. We’ve only heard about them before. They are the army of the Water Nation on the surface but are just bandits at the core. They burn, murder and plunder, there’s nothing evil they wouldn’t do. Countless of secluded villages have been annihilated by them. They robbed them of their women and riches and killed the old and weak. Whereas the young and strong were sold to the labor market,” The old man sighed and said.
As the stomping sound gradually slowed down, these people stopped moving forward, and the dust around them began to settle.
“Sirs, I wonder what business you have at my village?” the village chief asked as he approached slowly.
“Old thing, hand over all the beast skins, bones, money, and your young women. Otherwise, don’t blame us for not being courteous,” The leader, a black-faced man, who had donned a full-body black armor, said coldly.
The old village chief was startled as though he wanted to say something but couldn’t let it out.
The man landed his whip on the elder’s face. “Old thing, don’t spout nonsense. If you make me lose my patience, I’ll kill you all.”
“How dare you hit my Father! You have a death wish!” With that, a man holding an iron rod lunged towards the black-armored man.
These people were all riding on Wind Pursuing Beasts, a type of black beast which looked like horses, except a few times bigger. They were strong and fast, able to cover thousands of miles when traversing in day time. The man’s iron rod created an arc towards the black-armored man.
A howling of wind sounded as it cut through the air. The attack was child’s play to the black-armored man though. Without a blink of an eye, disdain slipped through his demeanor when he looked at the aggressor as though the latter was an ant.
Thereafter, the whip in his hand filled the sky with its traces, wailing as it slashed toward the man.
“Since you are so ignorant about life and death, then let me fulfill your wish!”
“Hu Zi, step back. Don’t make any moves.” The village chief knew that these people were ruthless killers.
Once they angered these people, they would not show mercy to any of them. In the worst case scenario, this would be the absolute end to their village.
The blood-curdling scream he imagined didn’t happen though. On the contrary, the iron rod landed its hit on the black-armored man’s nose, splattering it like raindrops.
It was then when everyone saw Qing Shui holding the other’s whip. However, nobody knew how Hu Zi’s iron rod had managed to land a hit.
“Ah, you have a death wish. Who are you?” The black-armored man glared furiously at Hu Zi before roaring at Qing Shui.
“You’re the Water Nation’s army?” Qing Shui smiled.
“Who are you? It’s best not to seek trouble for yourself.” The black-armored man’s sinister gaze was fixated on Qing Shui.
Qing Shui didn’t move much. Without hesitance, he slapped the black-armored man as the latter tumbled along with the Wind Pursuing Beast underneath him. If Qing Shui wanted, he could have popped his skull with it.
The intruders were ready to attack at first but had now inhaled a cold breath at the sight. Their leader was the strongest among them but couldn’t even retaliate. They had definitely kicked an iron board now.
“Yes, yes. We’re the Water Nation’s army.” The expression of the black-armored man changed immediately. Though there was still a trail of blood at the corner of his lips, he couldn’t help but act politely right now.
“The Water Nation allowed you all to burn, murder, and plunder,” Qing Shui spoke up again.
“If not, that means you did this on your own.” Qing Shui’s voice grew cold.
“It’s not our fault either. We were just following orders…” The black-armored man was close to tearing up now.
“You all seemed well-practiced earlier. The feeling was right too. It seems you’ve done this for quite a lot of time.” Qing Shui’s intention to kill was growing thicker by the second. He wasn’t a savior, but he would still rage when witnessing such incidents.
“We were just following the Duke’s orders. Please spare us.”
Qing Shui wouldn’t be merciful to people like that; he annihilated them in a matter of seconds. An apology wouldn’t be enough to atone for all the crimes they had committed for the past few years.
“Thank you, Sir, for saving our village.” The village chief led the villagers to bow to Qing Shui.
“I can’t accept this bow! I’ve stayed and eaten here for the past few days. It’s only right that I do things that are within my powers in reciprocation. Elder, let them train the techniques I’ve taught them. I think those might be able to help you guys around. There are also a few of them with great aptitudes; they would be able to protect your village.”
“They will, they will. Don’t worry about it,” replied the Village Elder in haste.
“I will go check out the Duke Palace. I swear there will be peace here from now on.” Qing Shui knew that these people didn’t feel at peace and reassured them.
They tried to persuade Qing Shui to stay, but he left anyway, rushing toward the area’s strongest power.
The Duke’s Palace!
This was the Water Nation. There was a Water Emperor here and lords beneath it. As lords, they had reached the highest official position and had the ability to pursue the position of King. The position of King wasn’t by succession but through the proof of power.
The governing ministers were under lords in hierarchy, followed by dukes and such. Everything was based on power and abilities.
The place Qing Shui was heading to was a Duke Palace, a palace at the edge of the Water Nation. They were the local tyrants in the area, the dictators. It was unlikely that the Water Emperor would know about the existence of such a duke. After all, their region was way too vast to keep tabs. The Water Emperor just needed to manage the lords, while dukes were managed by them.
The village was a mountain village on the secluded end of the region. Qing Shui encountered many villages and towns on his way and found out about the cruelty of the Black Armored Army. They were the personal army of the Duke Hei’s palace. According to what he had seen, it was easy to instigate frustration in this city. After all, there were many who were eyeing at the people from Duke palace, and many clans weren’t inferior to the Hei Clan. Incurring the wrath of their residents would cause them to strike when the opportunity allowed.
Hence, some of the crimes which shouldn’t see the light were done at places further away from here.
The duke’s spiritual land was decent, but such area at the edge was usually the poorest and most secluded in an empire. While it wasn’t small, its population was scarce and the same applied here. The area of the city was only one-hundredth of the entire land and gathered at the most northern part of the empire. The rest of the land was filled with villages and towns, which located in an even more deserted location. In order to protect the city, there were many who did things that they wouldn’t do in broad daylight.
This was the biggest and busiest city in this area. Great clans and powers, as well as wealthy merchants, all gathered here. There was safety and a higher quality of life here, which directly related to better handiwork. Everything was of optimal quality, resulting in a bustling city. However, in the shadow of this glory hid infinite unspoken misery.
Qing Shui used only a day’s time to arrive at Heishui City.