The waterway entering the wharf was a winding path. The mountains on both sides of the waterway were covered with karst caves of different sizes which were formed due to weathering, water erosion or special geological composition. Half of the karst caves were immersed in seawater. As a response to the crashing of the waves, weird and chilling noises drifted from the inside of the karst caves like the growls of monsters.
Not until the passenger liner moved forward in the narrow and twisting waterway for about 500-600m did Zhang Tie see a large space and caught sight of the 100m long small wharf and some buildings on Hidden Dragon Island.
After anchoring the liner, everyone started to go ashore. Zhang was left alone on the deck. When almost everybody left the deck, two 16-17 years old youths in black uniforms came onto the deck with the other three men in multicolored outfits.
"That's him..." The moment they arrived onto the deck, one of the three people in the multicolored outfits pointed at the corpse on the deck and loudly shouted, "That's the one who killed my elder brother and my eldest uncle as well as robbed two centipede's cores from them...", saying this, that person couldn't wait to burst into tears. Finally, he couldn't stand still before proceeding to take out his long saber and fiercely hacked into the corpse, "Elder brother, eldest uncle, you died so miserably, I will use this evil person's head as a sacrifice for your death!"
"I've given you the centipedes' cores, here's his corpse. You are free to deal with it even by grinding his bones into ashes and throwing them away or directly peeling his skin."
"On behalf of the 659 people in Ma Village of Qingshan Prefecture, I thank the Zhang clan for your righteous deed!" Another old man among them forcefully withstood his lament and bowed towards the two youths by a holding fist salute.
"As they are already dead, please restrain your grief."
Being grieved, the other men in multicolored clothing extended their thanks to the two youths before directly carrying the corpse away from the liner.
While standing on the deck, Zhang Tie saw this scene and had been able to guess the status of the two youths. They were at least members of Zhang clan on the island, if not, from Hidden Dragon Palace.
"Wait a moment, please!" When the two youths walked onto the wharf, Zhang Tie stopped them.
"What's up?" The two youths turned back and stared at Zhang Tie who suddenly came out.
"Do you know how to get to Hidden Dragon Palace?"
"Hidden Dragon Palace?" One of the two youths started to seriously glance over Zhang Tie when he heard that Zhang Tie was going to the Hidden Dragon Palace.
"Yes, I want to go to the Hidden Dragon Palace." Zhang Tie said with a smile.
"What are you going to do in Hidden Dragon Palace?"
"To apply to join!"
"Show me your clan plate!"
Zhang Tie then took out his clan plate and gave it to the two youths. After a serious look, the two youths exchanged glances with each other and nodded together.
"You're Zhang Tie?" One of the youths returned the clan plate to Zhang Tie.
"I'm Xu Lang; he's Zhang Houyu. We are all from Hidden Dragon Palace!" Saying this, Xu Lang instantly became enthusiastic. After saying this, Xu Lang looked at Zhang Houyu and asked, "Who will send him to Hidden Dragon Palace, you or me?"
"Hoho, after all, we're both surnamed Zhang, I will send him over there! You continue to patrol around the island, I will first send him to Hidden Dragon Palace. Then we will meet in Blackdragon Town." The youth called Zhang Houyu replied.
"Follow me!" Zhang Houyu greeted Zhang Tie and turned back to leave. Of course, Zhang Tie followed him away from the wharf.
There was a narrow street on the side of the wharf, on both sides of which were some buildings. Zhang Tie took a look and found a warehouse, a hotel, a fish market and two stores that posses items he wasn't aware of. There was one restaurant too. Most of the passengers got off from the liner poured into the restaurant. After taking a trip on the liner for 4-5 hours, they had eaten nothing at all. Therefore, the moment the saw the restaurant, they all went in at once.
Zhang Tie's stomach was still growling. Nevertheless, as someone was guiding him, he felt it improper to let him wait for him to finish a meal before continuing to walk.
"Do you want to eat something?" Although Zhang Tie didn't speak, Zhang Houyu was sentimental as he asked, "If you're hungry, you'd better eat a bit, as this place is more than 20 km away from Hidden Dragon Palace. If you're too hungry, I'm afraid that you won't be able to keep up with me."
"It doesn't matter, it's okay to eat at Hidden Dragon Palace!"
"Fine, follow me then. We can run over there. It will be faster." Saying this, Zhang Houyu started to run as Zhang Tie hurriedly followed behind him.
Thinking of Xu Lang that he had met just now, Zhang Tie suddenly thought of a question as he asked Zhang Houyu, "Hidden Dragon Palace also takes in apprentices with different surnames?"
"Besides Zhang clan's direct line of descendants, if anyone among the relatives of Zhang clan across Huaiyuan Prefecture have awakened the ancestral bloodline, they can also enter Hidden Dragon Palace. As you're new to Hidden Dragon Palace, you should bear in mind the primary rule that you should not casually ask for others' ancestral bloodlines or how many times they have awakened. You should not casually reveal to others about what ancestral bloodline have you awakened. Although you feel this information are not important, they are very important clan secrets. When you awaken your ancestral bloodline for the first time, someone might know about that. Once you have awakened your ancestral bloodline for the second time, no matter what great ability do you have, you'd better reveal it to others as little as possible. This is a card in your hand, it might save your life a critical moment!" Zhang Houyu explained as he found Zhang Tie could keep up with him. Therefore, he increased his pace.
"Ancestral bloodlines can be awakened a second time?" As it was Zhang Tie's first time hearing this, he was a bit amazed as he thought he could only awaken his throwing skill once.
"Of course! There's no limit to the amount times one can awaken their ancestral bloodline. Different ancestral bloodlines could grant you different talents and gifts. As for how many times can you awaken, it will depend on your ability and luck. Many people who have awakened their ancestral bloodlines for the first time could awaken them twice, then thrice, even more. It takes time to improve and intensify the same ancestral bloodline that they've awakened!"
Zhang Tie slightly sighed inside, "Hidden Dragon Palace is really great. Although I've just arrived, I have received two surprises, one on the passenger liner, the other here. I wonder how it would feel if I awaken my throwing skill for the second time. Only after thinking about this question did Zhang Tie's heart begin to race and long for the future.
After leaving the wharf, the two people started up the mountainous path. At the beginning, Zhang Houyu wanted to take care of Zhang Tie by slowing down his speed on purpose. Gradually, he realized that Zhang Tie could still easily chat with him when running, Zhang Houyu started to speed up. However, no matter how he accelerated his speed, Zhang Tie could still closely follow him up in an easy manner. Zhang Houyu became really amazed about that as he grew increasingly aggressive and started to use his full strength.
Zhang Tie didn't feel tired at all while the guide's forehead had been oozing sweat. For Zhang Tie who had eaten nine Wild Wolf Seven-Strength Fruits, Zhang Tie only felt very relaxed by trotting as this speed which was even a bit slower than his "cruising speed". If he liked, he could even keep running at this speed for the whole day long.
After running 5 km over one mountain, Zhang Tie found another large-scale town on Hidden Dragon Island. The town was in a small basin on the Island, which was surrounded by forest. Its prosperity was not worse than those on the mainland. They then ran across the town from the hillside in the east of the town.
"Argh, I didn't imagine that there could be such great towns on Hidden Dragon Island!" Zhang Tie sighed.
Hearing Zhang Tie's sigh, Zhang Houyu who kept running by lowering his head almost gasped as he could not even speak fluently at this moment. He had never imagined that Zhang Tie could still speak without even panting.
"This is...White Dragon Town...there are... a total of five towns...on...Hidden Dragon Island...Besides White Dragon Town...there are Cyan Dragon Town...Yellow Dragon Town...Black Dragon Town...and Blue Dragon Town." Gritting his teeth, Zhang Houyu kept muttering intermittently. The oncoming wind filled into his mouth, almost causing him to cough.
At this moment, Zhang Houyu had inwardly confirmed that the ancestral bloodline that Zhang Tie had awakened must be related to running. If not, he could never have such amazing stamina and running ability as a youth who looked 1-2 years younger than him.
After following Zhang Houyu running for less than less than half an hour, they finally arrived at Hidden Dragon Palace. It was a combination of three castles built on a steep location with beautiful scenery, which extended to the top of the mountain. The castles were connected with each other by various types of villas and pavilions that hid in the woods. It looked pretty magnificent. With only a glance at these buildings, Zhang Tie could tell that Huaiyuan Palace was truly rich.
A 20m high memorial archway marked with "Hidden Dragon Palace" was erected in front of Zhang Tie. Under the memorial archway were two huge and magnificent stone lions.
"This...this is Hidden Dragon Palace. When you enter there...you will see someone greeting you inside!"
After saying this, Zhang Houyu had already left before Zhang Tie said thanks.
Zhang Tie scratched his head as he felt Zhang Houyu's attitude was a bit weird. He didn't know that this "elder" who brought him to the Hidden Dragon Palace had been so embarrassed on the way due to Zhang Tie's great endurance. Therefore, the moment he arrived at the destination, he hurriedly escaped.
After taking a deep breath, Zhang Tie touched his clan plate as he entered the memorial archway. He walked towards the first castle at the foot of the mountain. The guardians outside the castle were all young. At the sight of Zhang Tie, a young man less than 20 years old moved forward on his own. After seeing Zhang Tie's clan plate and understanding Zhang Tie's intention, the young man took Zhang Tie inside the castle.
Several minutes later...
"Zhang Tie, 15, level 5 warrior. Having awakened a bloodline for the first time. It's your first time entering Hidden Dragon Palace. Here's the key to your room, No. 73 of Xingzhi Department. Here's the map of Hidden Dragon Island. You can go to register in Xingzhi Department today. Before you leave, you can reconfirm whether you've already handed in all your money. We've recorded your money, 8 gold coins and 13 silver coins in total. Before you leave Hidden Dragon Palace, we will return it back to you. If you are found to have hidden money privately, even one copper coin, the result would be very severe!" A 60-year old man with an obscene look and a goatee stood behind a high counter like an owner of a pawnshop. He pushed a key, a map and something else in front of Zhang Tie as he raised his head to warn Zhang Tie.
Zhang Tie had not imagined that the first step was to hand in all of his money when he entered the Hidden Dragon Palace. Besides this money, he had 5000 gold coins and 5000 gold coin notes in the Castle of Black Iron, which was his reserve funds. There were the remains of the returns by auctioning the ring of energy after Zhang Tie went to the Blackhot City and gave a part of them to his elder brother.
"Excuse me. Don't I have to pay for buying items on Hidden Dragon Island and in Hidden Dragon Palace? Why should I have to hand in my private money?"
"Of course, it requires money on Hidden Dragon Island and in Hidden Dragon Palace. It even requires a lot of money. Money is required everywhere. But for we apprentices of Hidden Dragon Palace, we have to make each copper coin on the Island, instead of from home!" This voice came from Zhang Tie's back. Zhang Tie looked back and found four youths at this age walked towards him, each carrying a wire sack.
The four youths only wore a simple coarse-cloth velvet. They were oozing sweat. It seemed that the items on their back were very heavy. The taller youth in the front was better while the skin of the faces and arms of other three youths behind him were as dry as bark and were cracking in places. Zhang Tie could imagine their former tender look.
Because their forehead corners sweated too heavily, fine white salt granules could be seen over there. Their cracking skins were dipping in their sweat, causing their eye corners twitch out of control.
The moment they drew close to him, Zhang Tie could smell the sea odor on them. Zhang Tie took a look at the fine wounds on their arms and hands. If they were not here, they would definitely be taken as being mistreated in other places.
"Newbie?" That youth in the front asked Zhang Tie.
Zhang Tie nodded.
"Follow us then, we're also from the Zhixing Department!" The front youth replied.
"Hahahaha, welcome to Hidden Dragon Palace!" Another youth whose face was like the crust of cooked rice seemed as though he wanted to laugh as he saw Zhang Tie's dumbfounded look. However, the moment he forced a smile, he controlled it...
This Hidden Dragon Palace seems to be different than what it was in my imagination.