Khafir heartily laughed, “So you remember even that child Tie Ta. Unfortunately, Tie Ta left Kargath Academy to return to his hometown two years ago. I originally planned on going to visit him, but I had no time to go on such a trifling visit because of the four kingdoms allying together to attack us. I never found myself having the time to see him.”
“Ai, having said that, I am not qualified to be considered his master. Tie Ta is in a very crucial moment of his youth to be taught and educated, but I have taught him very little.”
“Headmaster Khafir shouldn’t worry himself with that. Despite the straightforwardness of Tie Ta, he is a very capable genius in how he trains himself. There’s no need for a teacher to guide him, he should be able to accomplish plenty with what he can teach himself. All that’s left for him is to gain experience, but that is something that can be gained later. As long as he experiences true combat, he’ll begin to improve rapidly.” Jian Chen laughed.
Khafir gave a nod of agreement, “I remember that Tie Ta once said to me that his hometown was in a small mountain village. I believe he said it was located a thousand or so kilometers to the north on a mountain that has a small city halfway up. I’m not too clear where it is precisely.”
A bright idea suddenly occurred to Jian Chen. He hastily brought out a map of the entire Gesun Kingdom and placed on the table as he began to inspect it.
Soon enough, Jian Chen found the corresponding topography that Khafir had spoken about. Pointing at the area, he declared, “This should be the place. There is a Third Class City here halfway up the mountains. I believe that Tie Ta’s residence will be somewhere nearby.”
Khafir looked at the place Jian Chen pointed at and nodded, “Yes, it should be in that general proximity.”
They left a short time later. Jian Chen stowed away the map back into his Space Ring and bade farewell to Khafir. He brought Ming Dong and him through the air as they rush in the direction of the mountain city.
With Jian Chen’s speed, it took roughly two hours before the two arrived at the small city. This Third Class city was known as “Loess City” and was established on a mountain with a area that was smaller than Wake City by a small amount. It was rather simple and crude with even the most rudimentary city walls left incomplete. Even the marbled roads that paved the streets were riddled with stones that peeked through the streets and made it hard for carts to travel over.
For the sake of not causing a disturbance, Jian Chen and Ming Dong had descended from the sky onto a path that would lead them to the city.
After entering it, Jian Chen walked into a store that sold all kinds of meat and placed down a gold coin. “Shopkeeper, I’d like to ask you about a person. As long as you tell me what I need to know, this gold coin will be yours.”
Even the devil himself would turn rocks for money, especially if it was just for such a tiny inquiry. A gold coin to the butcher was enough profit to cover several days worth of work. There was no way the shopkeeper would decline this offer. However, he did not grab at the gold coin in Jian Chen’s hand and instead said, “Little brother, speak. Whatever the case is, if this uncle knows, I will definitely inform you.”
“Shopkeeper, do you recognize a man named Tie Ta? He should be around my age.” Jian Chen asked.
Hearing this, the shopkeeper let out a delighted light in his eyes. Hurriedly, he said, “I know him, I know him! Is he not a dark-skinned kid with long hair? His skin is really dark and is quite the straightforward little guy, right?”
“Yes, that’s him. Shopkeeper, do you happen to know where he lives?” Jian Chen smiled and asked his next question.
The shopkeeper suddenly grew cautious and stared warily at Jian Chen and Ming Dong. Grimly, he asked, “Who are you two, and why are you looking for him?”
Knowing that the shopkeeper was afraid that he and Ming Dong were looking for Tie Ta for trouble, Jian Chen replied quickly, “Shopkeeper, we are students from Kargath Academy and old classmates of Tie Ta. We only wish to come pay him a visit.”
Upon hearing that Jian Chen and Ming Dong were students of Kargath Academy, the shopkeeper immediately felt at ease. With an admiring smile, he said, “Ah, Kargath Academy is truly the greatest institute in our Gesun Kingdom. Every single student that is accepted to that place is truly a talent among talents. I’ve heard that the newest Imperial Protector of our Gesun Kingdom was once a student of Kargath Academy as well.”
Jian Chen and Ming Dong smiled without saying a word at this.
Thinking for a moment, the shopkeeper answered, “Since you’re the classmates of that kid, I’ll tell you where he lives.” With that, the shopkeeper pointed a finger in the direction behind him. “Head twenty kilometers down the mountain to where a brook is. There’s a forest next to the brook. Enter the forest and there’ll be a village. In the village is a row of houses, and in those houses will be where that kid lives.”
“Couldn’t you just say that there’s a village twenty kilometers down the mountain? I feel ready to faint just hearing all those directions!” Ming Dong didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Jian Chen laughed before handing over the coin to the man. He left the city with Ming Dong. Leaping across the area at a rapid pace, they began to move to the back of the mountain. Twenty kilometers was truly too short of a distance for Jian Chen to feel like flying.
The bawling sounds of several beasts could be heard as they crossed the forest. Having not been even Class 1 Magical Beasts, neither Jian Chen nor Ming Dong paid attention to them as they traversed across the mountains at lightning quick speeds. Soon, there was a five meter long river that the two of them crossed over. With another quick hike through the forest, they indeed discovered a small village on the other end.
The village was rather small in size with roughly thirty or so families in it. The houses were arranged in a singular line and were rather clean and tidy. All around the village were a series of fields where all sorts of vegetation and paddies could be seen. Several of the peasants could be seen working in them as well.
Jian Chen and Ming Dong both walked past the paddies until they arrived at the village entrance itself. Even after trudging past the fields, their shoes were still impeccably clean without a single spot of dust or dirt on it. The rich-looking robes the two of them wore caused them to look completely out of place in comparison to the peasant farmers who were all wearing coarse-looking clothing. So when the two arrived at this place, they caught the attention of all the villagers who began to grow nervous at their approach. Several of the villagers had already begun to clench their hoes and sickles tightly in preparation.
“What business might my two lords have here?” An aged, old man began to tremble as he approached the two and questioned them carefully.
Amiably, Jian Chen smiled to the elder and spoke with a kind tone. “Venerable elder, we are students from Kargath Academy along with Tie Ta, so we came today hoping to find him.”
“Oh, so you’re friends of Tie Ta.” The elder let loose a sigh in relief. Then with a wave of his hand and a hoarse shout, he spoke, “There’s no need to worry everyone. These two are students of Kargath Academy and came looking for Tie Ta, their old classmate!”
The previously nervous-looking villagers immediately grew relaxed after hearing his words.
There was a rather suspicious look on Jian Chen after seeing this display. This was clearly a rather unordinary reaction from the villagers.
“Venerable elder, was there something that happened here recently?” Jian Chen asked.
“Nothing, nothing at all!” The elder waved his hands before replying, “Tie Ta went to hunt in the mountains earlier this morning. I reckon he’ll be back soon. Please, come sit in our village for a while!”
After a moment’s consideration, Jian Chen agreed, “Very well, then we’ll be troubling the villagers.”
Just at that moment, a deep and resounding voice could be heard from far away, “Father, mother, grandfather, first uncle, second uncle, and aunties, I’m back!”
Jian Chen and Ming Dong both turned their heads instinctively only to see a rather well built man with dark skin come walking from far away with a wild boar hung over his shoulders.
“Tie Ta has returned, he’s back! Oh, and he even brought back a giant mountain boar!” The elderly man cried out in excitement.
Ming Dong looked at the boar holding man with a rather disbelieving face, “Jian Chen, could this really be the Tie Ta you were looking for?”
Jian Chen smiled and nodded. “That’s right, that’s Tie Ta. When I was in Kargath Academy, he was the only friend I had. I see he’s changed a lot after several years. Even I can barely recognize him, but his voice is still the same as back then.”
At that moment, Tie Ta saw the two newcomers to the village. With a slight tremble of his body, he tossed the boar he was carrying to the ground and charged toward Jian Chen, “Who are you two? Strange, why is it that I feel as if you’re familiar to me, have we met somewhere before?” There was an icy tone to Tie Ta’s words. However, when he gave a closer look to Jian Chen, there was a suspicious glint in his eyes that soon turned to bewilderment.
Seeing Tie Ta, Jian Chen felt shocked as well. After many years without seeing each other, Tie Ta had already grown even bulkier than before. Small words aside, his body was practically a miniature mountain in size. Even at the height of 1.8 meters, Jian Chen could only reach Tie Ta’s chest who seemed as if he was already reaching a height of 2.5 meters.
Jian Chen tilted his head up at the mountain-sized Tie Ta with a glittering smile on his face. “Tie Ta, after so many years, could it be that you’ve forgotten me?”
Hearing such a familiar-sounding voice, Tie Ta’s eyebrows creased together in thought. “This voice…” he muttered before growing silent. Then, his eyes began to brighten as if he remembered something. He looked joyously at Jian Chen with excitement. “You’re… you’re Changyang Xiangtian! Changyang Xiangtian, I… I remember what you sound like.”
Jian Chen smiled happily, “Tie Ta, I thought for a moment that you had already forgotten about me.”
“No, how could I? Changyang Xiangtian, I, Tie Ta, would never forget you even for the rest of my life. Hahaha, you are the best brother I’ve ever had. Do you remember back when we were hunting magical beasts in Kargath Academy? Those were the happiest days I ever experienced in my life! For the remainder of this life of mine, I won’t forget that either.” Tie Ta boomed with laughter before hugging Jian Chen in a tight embrace with vigor. Tears began to form in his eyes as he declared, “Changyang Xiangtian, I didn’t think that you’d still be alive. This is great! I heard all about what happened between you and the Hua Yun Sect from teacher. I know that you had to flee your home into the ruthless continent that is our Tian Yuan Continent by yourself! But I never received any news from you after that, and I thought that I’d never be able to see you again!”