It was a quiet night. Ji Hao had been cultivating himself in his cave all night by absorbing the star power. After the last night, his power had improved slightly further.
A clear stream of light shone and the heavy stone door opened. Twenty-four boys with uniform dress, neatly wearing black shirts and armors on their upper bodies with black sword sheaths hanging around their waists, got down on one knee in front of the door of Ji Hao's cave, simultaneously. They then loudly made a formally greet to Ji Hao:
All twenty-four boys were only at the age of twelve to thirteen, but they were more than a foot taller than the other boys at their age, and their bodies were much stronger, just like cheetahs living in the forest. Those sturdy bodies made them look especially healthy and energetic.
The natural power in the Midland was much more concentrated, and thus the people living here were much stronger than in the four wastelands. These boys were all carefully selected from over ten million of clansmen, and they were all the most talented ones.
During these two years under Ji Hao's lead, all their living supplies were of the top quality, and they never lacked supportive medicines for cultivation. By now, all these twenty-four boys had nearly stepped into the level of Senior Magus.
Back in Southern Wasteland, children who possessed senior-level power at such a young age would definitely be seen as marvelous geniuses even among top-grade large scales; even in Pu Ban city, these boys could still be counted as potential talents.
Sensing the sharp sense of powers releasing from these boys' bodies and seeing their sharp and determined gazes, Ji Hao delightfully nodded. 'All good boys,' thought Ji Hao, 'but…''
Ji Hao looked at them a bit confusedly, and asked, "What are you…"
The boy kneeling in the front cupped his hands and responded loudly and clearly, "Under Shifu Shaosi's order, from now on, we are Earl Yao's close guards, and we will do all kinds of works for you. Shifu Shaosi ordered that wherever you, Earl Yao, go, we will be following you closely."
Ji Hao slightly opened his mind, not managing to think straight for quite a while.
Nothing happened last night except that sweet-scented girl showing up in his room and bumping into his arms, right? But why did Shaosi take such a big step? Eh? Eh? She had actually selected twenty-four smart boys to stick with Ji Hao so early in the morning, why?
However, Ji Hao also felt that he could indeed use some close guards working for him.
Ji Hao didn't expect them to be especially powerful, but at least they could do many things for him. Rubbing his chin, Ji Hao slowly nodded and said, "Alright, this is not bad anyways. Since you're my close guards, hereafter, you should have my family name. I give you the family name of 'Ji.' You and your descendants can all use this family name of mine."
The faces of the group of boys turned red with excitement. They heavily kowtowed to Ji Hao and pressed their heads against the ground, not raising their heads back up for quite a while.
In this era, as slaves, a family name given by their master meant supreme glory. Ji Hao gave them his family name, which meant that since today they had truly broken away from the position of a slave, and this would also bring their parents great benefits.
A family name solidified these boys' loyalty to an extreme extent, making them willingly devote their entire hearts to Ji Hao and become Ji Hao's trusted guards.
"And your name, well, I'm too lazy to memorize your current names anyway. Since now you have a new family name, I'll just give you new names as well." Ji Hao pointed at the twenty-four boys, pondered for a while then clapped his hands, laughed and said, "Ah, here…"
Tian, Di, Xuan, Huang, Yu, Zhou, Hong, Huang, Ri, Yue, Ying, Ze, Xing, Xiu, Lie, Zhang, Han, Lai, Shu, Wang, Qiu, Shou, Dong, Cang!［1］
Ji Hao didn't want to spend too much effort on this. Therefore, he simply used the first twenty-four characters of the Thousand Character Classic to name these boys.
For example, the oldest one among these boys was named as Ji Tian by Ji Hao, and the second oldest one was named Ji Di by Ji Hao, and so on.
Attaining the family name of their master and then being named by Ji Hao himself, by now, these twenty-four boys were so excited that their faces had even turned purple and they were unable to say a word. They gasped quickly and heavily, all feeling that as if they had been treading upon the clouds. If Ji Hao gave out his order right now, these boys would even dare to wield their swords towards the heaven.
Ji Hao turned around, glanced at his own cave, then pointed at the mountainside beside his cave and said, "Later, go find Kua E and his brothers for help. Tell them to expand the area beside my cave and make each of you a room to live."
Ji Tian and the other boys growled loudly in response. Immediately, Ji Cang, the youngest one among the twenty-four, let out a shrill whistle and following that, an iron feather eagle dove down from the air. Ji Cang hopped onto the eagle's back, flying towards the building base of Yao Mountain city.
Ji Hao nodded in satisfaction. In the future, He wouldn't be running around for small things like this, and these boys would work for him under his orders. This felt not bad at all.
Not long after Ji Cang flew out, an overwhelmingly great, hot wind roared over from the southeast. Ji Hao hurriedly turned around and saw that from the direction of Pu Ban city, a mile in radius fiery cloud that was tailed by a tens of miles long, tremendous huge fiery light stream, swiftly screamed towards himself like a shooting star.
When the enormous fiery cloud was still tens of miles away from Yao Mountain, the great heat released by it already turned all snow drifting above Yao Mountain into rain. Wherever the fiery cloud flew across, all the snow melted. With his sharp eyesight, Ji Hao saw twelve fire flood dragons had been showing their sharp teeth while spurting out raging flames all the way and letting out deep roars from time to time.
Standing on top of each flood dragon's back was a divine looking man, wearing a scorching-red armor and with his entire body wrapped in dazzling fire.
The sense of power released from these divine looking men's bodies was immense and strong. Ji Hao scanned across their bodies with his spiritual power and in shock found that they were all peak-level Magus Kings.
Behind these twelve divine looking men were three-thousand and six-hundred elite warriors, all wearing red armors and mounting on fiery elephants. These warriors were all at the peak-senior-level, and those fire elephants had been glowing brightly with a fiery light that made them look especially powerful.
The sense of power released by the twelve divine looking men and those warriors was rather strange, largely different from the sense of power released from ordinary people's bodies; they were all descendants of gods. Judging by the style of armors worn by them and the burning-hot power vibration released from their bodies, these were all Fire God, Zhu Rong's people.
The fiery cloud swooshed over, abruptly stopping in front of Ji Hao. The twelve god-like men mounted on fire flood dragons leaped down from the fiery cloud, quickly got down on one knee and saluted to Ji Hao and said, "Lord Earl Yao! From now on, we are all Princess Man Man's close guards, and all under Earl Yao's command!"
Ji Hao was dumbfounded. What the hell? Why did Zhu Rong send such a powerful army to him for no reason?
Twelve peak-level Magus Kings with three thousand and six hundred peak-level Senior Magi, and all these men were Man Man's close guards? With Man Man's explosive temper, Ji Hao could just imagine that his Yao Mountain territory would never be lacking boisterousness in the future.
"You…" Ji Hao didn't know what to say.
Zip! Man Man dashed over with that sweet-scented girl carried in her hand. Seeing Ji Hao, she conveniently threw that girl to those warriors of Fire God, then yelled at them while grinningly facing Ji Hao, "Ahyaya, did Abba send you over here? Hm, send this girl back. Doesn't she like to hang out with men at midnight? Send her back to Southern Wasteland. Give her to my seventh brother, that bastard!"
The girl's face immediately turned paper-pale. Man Man then said to her with a huge grin, "Ahyaya, Ji Hao is nobody but a tiny Earl Yao. What can you get by staying with him? My seventh brother is a blood son of my Abba and a prince of Zhu Rong family. He's a hundred times better than Ji Hao! You go stick to him!"
A few mid-aged men who were wearing long robes and tall hats grabbed the girl up with a weird smile on their faces, then trod upon fiery clouds and rose up into the air, flying away in the blink of an eye.
Ji Hao spread his hands, helplessly looking at Man Man. What exactly had just happened?
［1］ Thousand Character Classic (Chinese: 千字文; pinyin: Qiānzìwén), also known as the Thousand Character Text, is a Chinese poem used as a primer for teaching Chinese characters to children from the sixth century onwards. It contains exactly one thousand characters, each used only once, arranged into 250 lines of four characters apiece and grouped into four line rhyming stanzas to make it easy to memorize. Translation of the first line of this poem is below:
The sky was black, and the earth was yellow.
The universe was vast and a dark whole.
The sun rises and sets, and the moon is regularly round,
Stars spread high above without a toll.
Cold and heat come and go,
Fall harvest and storing for winter people know.
Intercalary days and months are fixed to make a year,
When clouds rise and meet cold, there will soon be rain,
When dew drops congeal, they become frost in the main.