The lawkeepers were observant and knew how to resolve a conflict. In only a split second, Captain Qiu had made a decision, and the best decision given the known facts.
Even Jiang Chen was surprised by the captain’s decisiveness. He’d thought that the captain would cause more troubles and further complicate the issue, but unexpectedly, the captain decisively cut through all the nonsense.
That gave Jiang Chen newfound respect for the Oriole Valley’s operations, and the overall management of the Bluesmoke Isles.
He smiled. Given the resolution, he wouldn’t needlessly drag on the argument since he was the one who’d benefitted. He cupped his hands at the captain. “I naturally respect Captain Qiu’s final say. Your judgement is fair. Oriole Valley has left a good impression on me!”
With a faint smile, Captain Qiu calmly declared, “Oriole Valley is a place where logic and reasons reign supreme. In the Bluesmoke Isles, we also believe in prioritizing rationality.”
Those were pretty, empty words. Jiang Chen took them with a grain of salt. Still, he was satisfied with the way the conflict had been resolved.
Shopkeeper Kang felt mildly insulted by the resolution, but he could accept the result. It was far from the worst thing that could’ve happened.
The worst case scenario would be if he’d been blamed for the two parties starting a fight in his shop. Now, only the five cultivators were unhappy, but they would blame the officers and the young man, not the shop.
The hook-nosed cultivator might be an unruly one, but even he didn’t dare to stir up trouble before the lawkeepers. Glowering, he exclaimed, “Of course I trust Captain Qiu’s judgement as well, but I’m curious… who is our friend here? We five admit defeat, but at least let us know who we’ve lost to.” It seemed that the Northcrown Five were not yet satisfied.
Captain Qiu frowned, but didn’t say anything. Instead, he looked at Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen pulled his lips into a disdainful smile. “You five don’t deserve to know who I am. Keep your eyes open next time. When it comes to mere wandering cultivators like you, there are many in the world you can’t afford to offend.”
With that, he pushed past the crowd and walked out of the shop.
He wouldn’t dwell long on such a small conflict. He wouldn’t be afraid even if the Northcrown Five decided to come after him. After all, none of them were empyrean experts.
Even if there had been a couple among the group, Jiang Chen still wouldn’t fear them. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d gone up against empyrean masters. There were quite a lot who’d died at his hands.
Hua Ming couldn’t be more satisfied. He’d never been as proud as he was today. He followed Jiang Chen, noting that people were looking at him with baffled dread instead of the usual indifference and contempt.
He’d never experienced this kind of thrill before.
It took a while of following after Jiang Chen for him to muster the courage to catch up. “Now I’m impressed, brother. Your presence is strong enough to intimidate even the captain of the lawkeepers! Hahaha! I’m impressed, I’m more than impressed!”
Jiang Chen slowed down his pace and looked at Hua Ming with a lopsided smile. “You sure look happy. You’re enjoying the feeling, aren’t you?”
“Yes, yes I am,” Hua Ming admitted without hesitation or pretense. “All my life, people have looked at me like I’m dirt, or pretended I didn’t exist. I’ve never been this proud of myself!”
“Have you considered that you may not be able to survive in Oriole Valley from now on?” Jiang Chen couldn’t help reminding the boy, whose head was now in the clouds.
“I’m not afraid! A man should set his eyes on the vast world. I, Hua Ming, don’t want to stay in Oriole Valley for my entire life, and I won’t!” The boy puffed his chest out. It was as if he had finally found his purpose after a lifetime of depression.
Jiang Chen looked at the proud young man. He didn’t want to rain on Hua Ming’s parade. Everyone started out reckless when they were young. Everyone had a dream in the beginning. One could not laugh at a boy for his ambition.
Hua Ming’s eyes suddenly darted to the side. He asked Jiang Chen in an earnest tone, “Can you please wait for me for a moment, brother?”
Hua Ming pointed at the tailor shop next to them. “As your sidekick, I’m going to embarrass you if I wear dirty clothes like these, right? I’ll go for a change of clothes and make myself presentable.”
He seemed to have been struck by an epiphany and wanted to change the way he looked.
Jiang Chen chuckled. “Since when did you become my sidekick?”
The boy suddenly thumped to his knees. “I don’t have family or friends, brother. Even though I’ve always been considered inferior by others, I’ve never once knelt down to anyone. Today however, I’ve come to see you as the guiding light in my life. There’s a voice telling me that you are my opportunity. If I’m to become somebody one day, I must stick close to you. I have nothing but a loyal heart. Please...”
Jiang Chen considered the boy’s serious expression. A quiet sigh escaped his mouth. “Stand up. Go change your outfit and clean yourself up.”
He casually handed fished three thousand empyrean spirit stones. “Take these. We can talk if they’re not enough.”
Jiang Chen could tell that the boy had a quick mind. He did indeed need some loyal helpers during his time in Myriad Abyss Island. The boy had potential, so he was worth keeping around.
Hua Ming was delighted by Jiang Chen’s generous offer, but took only five hundred spirit stones. He felt a little uneasy about even that. “I’ll be quick, benefactor,” he hurriedly said. “Just a moment.”
Three thousand empyrean spirit stones were too great a fortune for him. He had acquired some money through his little tricks before, but had never been in possession of such a large amount. He was far too nervous to take the entire sum.
Even when he was nervous though, his mind worked fast. He’d changed the way he called Jiang Chen. Brother had become benefactor.
Jiang Chen stood idly by the street, his gaze wandering about. He spotted many people along the way who obviously knew what’d happened in the shop. They looked at him with mixed emotions. Some boldly kept their eyes on him while others snuck fearful glances at him.
Jiang Chen sighed inwardly.
The boy was more efficient than one would expect. After fifteen minutes, he came out in a different attire, surprising Jiang Chen with the sight.
Hua Ming had cleaned up nicely. With his face cleaned and his clothes changed, he turned out to be a handsome young boy. The clothes made the man like a horse depended on a saddle.
“Benefactor...” Hua Ming had never put on such fine clothes before, putting him ill at ease.
Chuckling, Jiang Chen patted Hua Ming on the shoulder. “Good, good. You’re just a little too thin. How old are you?”
“Twelve,” Hua Ming answered honestly.
From Hua Ming’s shorter height, Jiang Chen had assumed that the boy was young. This was confirmed with knowledge of his age.
“You’re twelve, but you have no basic training or understanding in martial dao?” This took Jiang Chen by surprise.
“I’ve been on the streets in Oriole Valley as long as I can remember. I have no parents and no family. There was no one to teach me about cultivation.”
Hua Ming’s tone was glum. What he wanted the most always was to learn martial dao. He knew that martial dao was the key if he wanted to set himself apart from others.
Jiang Chen nodded. “Come on then. It’s a little late to start cultivating at the age of twelve, but you haven’t missed much.”
This was the honest truth. When he’d reincarnated in the Eastern Kingdom, he’d been fourteen or fifteen, and had had no basis in martial dao either.
At twelve, Hua Ming was younger than Jiang Chen had been when the young lord first started. Besides, this was Myriad Abyss Island. There was a solid foundation of martial dao here.
Hua Ming followed after Jing Chen, his heart filled with a mix of excitement, awe, and dread. He was worried that the benefactor would turn him out if he didn’t perform well.
Just as he was on tenterhooks, he heard Jiang Chen ask, “Why do you insist on following me, Hua Ming? Is it because you think I’m from the Ten Divine Nations?”
“No!” Hua Ming blurted. “I’ve always thought that you’re extraordinary. I’ll have a bright future by your side. A brighter future than being nothing in Oriole Valley, at least.”
“What if I’m not from the Ten Divine Nations?”
“No matter where you’re from, Hua Ming will consider you my master until the end of my life without regret. If I ever betray my promise to you, let there be no room for me to survive in this world!” Hua Ming was young, but he was no fool. Quite the contrary, he was a clever one. No matter what fate awaited him, it would be better than wasting his time in Oriole Valley!
Jiang Chen smiled. “I’m not from the Ten Divine Nations. That I can tell you. Those from the Ten Divine Nations however, are no threat to me. This may be too vague an answer, but you’ll come to understand what I mean in the future. Now, follow me. If you have the potential, I’ll teach you according to your talent.”
Hua Ming didn’t care if Jiang Chen was from the Ten Divine Nations. He was a naive boy with a simplistic view of the world. If someone treated him with kindness, he would willingly give the person his heart in return. What Jiang Chen gave him was the thing a boy most desired - respect.
Hua Ming had received little such in his life. Yet Jiang Chen had never treated him like a little beggar. He’d paid money in return for information, and Jiang Chen didn’t look at him with contempt. To a young boy, that was more valuable than any favor.
The two of them left the trading area and found accomodation in the biggest inn in Oriole Valley.
Hua Ming trailed after Jiang Chen. He couldn’t help his excitement at seeing Jiang Chen splash out like money was nothing. He was curious just who exactly his benefactor was.
Can someone with such a strong presence be a nobody? Hua Ming told himself to be loyal to his benefactor and stop overthinking things.
After booking two premium rooms, Jiang Chen said to Hua Ming, “I’m going to Hell King Island in a few days. Do you want to stay in Oriole Valley for the time being, or come with me?”
“I’ll follow you, benefactor!” Hua Ming responded resolutely.
“You told me that there’s going to be a Bluesmoke Jade event and that people from the Ten Divine Nations are attending, right?”
“That’s what the word on the street is. If you want to gather more information, might go to a more important city in these isles. Oriole Valley is a small border city.”
Jiang Chen gave it some thought. He waved a hand in lieu of a response. If representatives from the Ten Divine Nations are coming, is there going to be someone from Eternal Divine Nation?