Liz: The beginning of volume 4!
Since the beginning of the Great Desolation, people had been coming up with many different ways of chronicling the years. However, all these methods and names were very strange, so none of them had been passed down.
Calendars were like customs. If one were to be passed down, it had to be unified.
A hundred years later, a great hero was born. Following the road his grandfather and father had paved for him, he was finally given this honor. He then called the year in which his grandfather extinguished the ground fire and built a city in the East Sea the first year of Tian Xuan1天选 – Heaven’s Choice.
Deep under the ground, where the throbbing had calmed down, the mysterious hand driving the movement of the stars remained hidden. The weak people were washed out in the calamities, and like great waves sweeping away the sand, those left behind divided the North and South of the continent into a new layout.
Five springs and autumns had passed since the year Hua Yi massacred Black Wind Puya, intercepted the caravans, and controlled the trade routes along the East Sea.
Five years was enough for a toddler beastman to grow into a little boy, and for an ignorant teenager to become a man of his own. These years were also enough for Hua Yi to take the entire 600 li2里 – ancient unit of measurement, approximately 500 meters. coastline of the East Sea into his pocket. Gone were the days when hundreds of men fought with torches in hand. The calamity had left people confused and nowhere to turn to, but this was all in Hua Yi’s favor.
Now, a glance down from atop the city walls and one could see a magnificent army with thousands of men and horses.
Hua Yi used to always envy those people in the South back when their great walls were built and merchants streamed into their land, but now, he owned nearly half of the land in the Southern continent.
Inner wall to inner wall, and outer wall to outer wall, every gate was guarded. Rules more detailed and strict than those in the South were inscribed on the stone walls of every gate tower, and all the cultivated fields had an owner.
Merchants who passed through the gates had to pay a fee in order to obtain the protection of the city guards and the garrison. Those who dared to evade paying would have all their goods seized and their heads hung in public once they were discovered.
However, this did not discourage the merchants. On the contrary, business even prospered.
Once again, Suo Laimu’s wisdom in insisting on bringing the tribe to the edge of the sea became evident. Not only had they now taken advantage of the sea’s resources and climate to make light of the catastrophe, they had even found it to be a place of truly mouthwatering abundance.
The plain was rich in natural resources, and the pearls, corals, and precious shells of the sea were highly sought after.
Eight years ago, they fled here and managed to build a lonely city that faced the mountains and had its back to the sea. People’s tents were simple, and the Chief and seven Elders themselves changed shifts every day to guard the city at night and patrol in the morning.
Now, the Chief was no longer called Chief. Hua Yi had eleven strategic coastal passes and eighteen cities in his hands. The title of “Chief” was really not enough, so he named himself the King of the East Sea. However, he wasn’t so arrogant. The royal city he lived in was sandwiched between two passes—Sea Pearl city.
In the evening, a group of horse dealers walked through the quiet streets as they urged on their goods. The two city guards who let them into the city wore a full set of bright armor as they opened up the path with longswords and spears in their hands. Meanwhile, the other two city guards were in their behemoth forms. With one guard on either side of the caravan, they escorted them to the guest tent that was especially for merchants to live in.
On the way, at a fork in the road, they ran into some city guards who were coming back from a shift change.
When the leader of the group saw them, he raised his hand, stopped the people behind him, and told the merchants to pass first.
The city guards who patrolled the city were all unsmiling as they stopped in unison. They were so silent that they were like a group of mannequins.
In the past five years, fighting had naturally been necessary in order to expand the territory. However, now was no longer those days when every man who could fight would be dragged out to defend the city. These men had been carefully selected. On weekdays, they didn’t work3不事生产 – Working to make a living, like hunting and farming. Instead, they focused on just one thing, which was to train themselves and to resist foreign enemies. Compared to those beastmen who were once called “warriors” and did everything from hunting to farming, their fighting strength had long been incomparable.
These merchants who came from far away could smell the blood in the bones of these men from a distance. Emanating from their armor and from the clean and polished weapons in their hands was an unparalleled chilling deterrence that people couldn’t help but look down, not daring to look straight at them.
A teenager among the group of merchants couldn’t help but look up and glance at the leader. This teenager was only fourteen years old, and as a child, he had been picked up by the old merchants to become a little errand boy. He always couldn’t help but envy those courageous4杀伐决断 – Decisive in killing heroes on top of lofty horses.
However, to his surprise, the leader did not wear armor, nor was he tall and majestic. He wasn’t short though, but he looked a little frail. As late spring transitioned to early summer, the fiery young men had long impatiently changed out of their cumbersome clothes, and some were even topless under their armor. He, however, was like a patient recovering from a chronic illness. He was still wearing two layers of long-sleeved buyi5布衣 – A cheap kind of cotton cloth worn by commoners, and his animal hide shirt collar was also tightly pressed down.
As his eyes swept over the goods, he inadvertently met the gaze of the young merchant, who hurriedly turned his eyes away. The man didn’t care though, and he quickly moved aside, patiently waiting for them to pass.
After walking a long way, the merchant boy finally couldn’t help looking back. When he saw that the city guards had gone in another direction, he was faintly disappointed. He couldn’t help thinking, That man was really good-looking.
The teenager couldn’t think of any other words to describe it, but after pondering over it for a long time, it gave birth to the desire to take another look at the man.
The teenager approached the old merchant next to him and asked in a lowered voice, “Shifu, who was that just now?”
“Shut up.” The old merchant glared at him. This little servant boy of his was a sub-beast, and he’d always forget about the fact that a beastman’s eyes and ears were keener than his.
Hearing that the price of coral produced in the East Sea was extremely high, the old merchant had brought his caravan along for the first time to join in the fun. But not knowing about how things worked here, he was frightened by the checkpoints and the armored guards that he dared not talk any nonsense.
The city guard leading the way, however, looked back without any displeasure on his face and very calmly explained, “We have a King, seven Great Elders in the royal city, as well as eighteen City Lords. That person is the head of the eighteen City Lords, the Lord of Sea Pearl, the royal city.”
The teenager was taken aback, and he asked, “The City Lord personally patrols the city?”
The city guard smiled somewhat helplessly. “He likes being with his brothers.”
Hearing their conversation, the other city guard turned around. This man was extremely young, as if he had just come of age. The style of armor on his body was different from that of the one next to him, and the pattern on his shoulders was clearly much more elaborate. He was obviously someone of higher status. Sure enough, when he looked over, the slightly older guard who spoke sealed his mouth of his own accord.
The young city guard was silent for a moment. The old merchant wasn’t sure about what he meant, so he gave a look to the teenager next to him, and told him to shut up and not ask anymore questions. He himself was also very cautious.
After a while, the old merchant heard the young city guard with a jiandao say: “That was my Shifu. He has a very good temper. As long as you don’t break the rules of the city, he won’t make things difficult for you.”
The old merchant heard the warning in his insipid words, and he nodded his head quickly, not daring to say any more.
Just then, there was the sound of rushed footsteps. A behemoth galloped past the merchant caravan and ran all the way to the two city guards in the lead. He transformed into his human form on the spot, and with sweat on his forehead, he hurriedly asked, “Commander6Author wrote 督骑 (du qi), which I believe is the same as 骑督 (qi du), which refers to the Commander of the Cavalry (soldiers who fight on horseback). Luda, has the City Lord passed by?”
The city guard with a jiandao was none other than Luda, and he asked, “Why?”
The beastman stepped forward and whispered a few words in his ear. Luda frowned with undisguised disgust on his face and muttered, “How come it’s that waste again?”
He pointed to a place and said, “He just passed over there. He should already be back by now. You can go to the King’s place to find him.”
Hua Yi waved his hand and told the people in the tent to go back. The slaves on the side then immediately cleared off the things on the table, and a moment later, a small stove was placed on it. On top of it was a small pot of congee full of wheat sprouts, shellfish, and finely cut fruits and vegetables, and it soon wafted out an enticing aroma.
Whenever the seasons changed, Chang An had to drink medicine for a while. A’Ye said that it was best he had a light diet that wasn’t too greasy. Hua Yi was afraid he’d be unwilling, so he accompanied him eating congee the whole day.
He said in a good mood, “Go ask someone when Chang An is coming back.”
Just as his words just fell, Chang An walked in. However, as soon as he saw the table full of tasteless vegetables and without any meat, he immediately felt his originally hungry stomach pretending to be dead, his appetite to swallow a cow mysteriously disappearing.
Chang An thought angrily, This sly A’Ye is always letting me eat grass and vegetables that I’m about to turn into a rabbit.
As a result, his footsteps turned a bit heavy.
Hua Yi knew what he was thinking as soon as he saw his face, and he said with a smile, “Who drinks medicine all day long and even drags me to eat rabbit food? I haven’t even said anything yet. Roll over here quickly. If you want to take off your clothes, then take them off in bed at night. Taking them off now is not allowed.”
Chang An complained, “I’m sweaty all over.”
“Spring is the time to wear more clothes. Who asked you to patrol around the city when you’ve got nothing else to do?” said Hua Yi while serving him a bowl of congee. “Come now, there is meat today. Don’t pull down your face.”
Chang An immediately sat up straight when he heard this.
Hua Yi: “The congee has shellfish in it. I’ll give you some more later.”
Chang An sighed, and his back lazily slouched again.
Hua Yi was amused by him and wanted to say something, but just then, one of the slaves hurried in. With his head bowed, he said in a low voice, “The night patrol has an urgent matter, and they sent someone to look for the City Lord.”
Hua Yi didn’t lift his eyes. “What matter is it that you can’t even let people have a good meal?”
The slave replied, “City Lord Bu Dong’s youngest son, who’s been staying in the royal city, drank too much and had a conflict with Elder Ka Zuo. Someone died, so now Elder Ka Zuo has arrested him and is saying that he wants to kill City Lord Bu Dong’s son.”
Chang An frowned and said, “Call the man in.”
Hua Yi was stunned when he heard the words. His thumb rubbed the edge of the bowl, and his eyes seemed to be squinting from the steam rising from it as he fell silent for a moment.