Chapter 294: On the Road
The eastern city gates at the capital of the Taiyang Kingdom was a place always crowded with people. Merchants appeared in caravans with their items ready for sale or returning from selling all their items in distant cities. Mercenaries poured into the city after finishing missions outside or returning from hunting magical beasts. Adventurers arrived at the city making a small stop on their travels through the kingdoms as they trained and improved their inner energies and martial arts.
Usually, the city gate would be bustling as everyone was rushing through the gate, but today things were different. The summer sun beat down on the ground, but none of the usual energy was seen; instead, all the citizens who would have already been through the city gates were now held back. The horde of people had been split into two groups, one on each side with the middle devoid of people, except two. These two were the focus of everyone and both stuck out like a sore thumb.
All the mercenaries, merchants, adventurers, and even normal citizens were all tanned from being out in the sun; their hair was black, their eyes almond shaped. Although they did not look the same, these were features shared by everyone. Everyone but these two men. In the middle of this desolate cracked ground stood these two young men,
One was a white-haired young man with skin as white as the newly fallen snow. His eyes ice-blue and filled with tranquility with a small smirk on his lips. His body was tall and toned. Looking at him, one could easily sense an aura of strength and that this young man was not used to having people disagree with him. He had the aura of a leader, an aura which greatly exceeded his age.
By his side was a golden young man. His hair was like the purest gold, and his eyes shone with the radiance of two small suns. He also had a strong aura around him, but where the white-haired man’s aura was more sharp and commanding, this golden young man seemed more haughty. He seemed as if he was completely confident in his abilities and himself. His entire body exuded confidence, and while he did travel by the white-haired man’s side, it did not seem as though he would allow anyone to be in control of his destiny.
“People are staring at you,” Hui Yue pointed out as he walked toward the gate without having to wait in line. “They are not staring at me,” Cai Jie retorted, “It’s definitely your white hair and skin. You are so pale you could be mistaken for a corpse. Don’t you get sunburned in weather like this?” Hui Yue snorted, but he did not answer more than he already had. Neither Hui Yue nor Cai Jie seemed to be troubled by the actions of everyone around them. If anything, they seemed to behave as though this were natural.
Hui Yue and Cai Jie had been on the road for five months already, traveling through the defeated Siban Empire. They had recently crossed the border into the Taiyang Kingdom alongside multiple refugees, and finally, traveled through the Taiyang Kingdom to enter the Taiyang capital, Muchuan City.
“It’s not like the staring is anything new,” Hui Yue finally sighed as he and Cai Jie headed towards the gates, getting ready to enter it only to see the guards were standing in the front blocking their way. Cai Jie and Hui Yue who were continuously bickering at one another became completely quiet as their eyes swept out towards the guards. Both of them frowning as they came to a stop, impatiently awaiting the guards’ reason for stopping them.
No one said a word, and the world was completely silent; so silent that the smallest noise could be heard. Looking at these two strange men, all guards shifted their weight from one leg to the other, cleared their throats, and slowly pushed the others forward. After having been stared at for what seemed to be a few minutes, one of the guards finally stepped towards the two experts in front of them. Looking at them, he was certain that they were in no way ordinary cultivators. He had been warned about what to do if he came across a white-haired young man.
“Excuse me, good sirs. I would like to invite you to the City Lord’s mansion to partake in a feast. This feast is held once a week, and happens to be tonight. His lordship enjoys to hear information from adventurers such as yourselves, and I am certain that you are new to this city. Such highly esteemed experts like yourself, I am sure, can share a great deal with his lordship.” Speaking the guard was tongue tied, his hands were shaking, and his voice was trembling. Hearing his words both Cai Jie and Hui Yue were taken aback. Both assumed that they had been stopped because of the ruckus they were causing at the city gates. This was something which had already happened numerous times, but to be stopped for an invitation, this was a first.
They exchanged glances waiting for the other to make a decision on the matter, but since Hui Yue saw that Cai Jie did not care, he shrugged his shoulders. “We would like to accept the invitation. We have friends in city that we will be meeting up with first. We can go to the City Lord’s mansion around dinner time to meet his lordship.”
This was the best compromise Hui Yue could promise. He was very curious about City Lord because he did not know what he truly wanted from them. He doubted they had been invited purely because the City Lord was curious about news from random travelers. He just smiled and wondered if this had something to do with the mess he had caused back in Riluo City.
Hearing his answer, the two guards bowed deeply to the young men and rushed out of their way, allowing for them to enter the city. Neither Hui Yue nor Cai Jie thought any more about the guards as they entered the city. Their eyes shone with excitement, an excitement sparked by different things.
Hui Yue could not think about anything other than the friends he had left in the Dungeons of the Divine not to mention the friends he had not seen since he left Riluo City. Although he sent them a letter stating that he was alive and well, he had not had a conversation with them nor did they know when they would see him again. A smile played on his lips as he imagined how happy his friends would be when they saw each other.
‘How will you introduce your flamboyant friend?’ Lan Feng asked curiously as both he and Hui Yue looked towards Cai Jie with a frown on their faces. Back in the capital of the Siban Empire he had not stated that he would follow Hui Yue, but when it came time to leave he did, in fact, follow the white-haired young man. Hui Yue welcomed the extra guest on his long journey, and although they passed the time bickering, they had secretly enjoyed the trip.
Hui Yue knew from the start that Cai Jie was anything but simple. Although his features were that of a young man, his eyes were deep and filled with profound knowledge gained through years of hardship. He shared some of this knowledge with Hui Yue, but only knowledge about the Crusaders, or information he had gathered about An He.
Cai Jie had never once mentioned why he had a grudge against An He, just as Hui Yue said nothing on the topic. They had looked at each other and smiled while a mutual agreement was accepted. Neither needed to know about the other, but sticking together gave them more of a chance of success.
‘I guess I will just make a brief introduction,’ Hui Yue shrugged as he walked through the city that was filled to the brim with people. Although the masses had moved out of their way outside the city, this was not the case inside. The streets were simply too narrow and were filled with carriages, stall merchants and citizens making it impossible for them to be given extra room. Not only this but the two men, although strange looking, had become one with the crowd. The citizens only noticed their extraordinary features when they were right next to them, and by then, it was too late to get out of the way.
“You do know where your friends live, right?” Cai Jie asked casually as he observed the massive city. They had walked through the entire lower end, the slums and the marketplaces. They were now in the upscale district where rich merchants and noble families lived. Looking around, Hui Yue nodded his head. “They are at the Royal Academy,” He answered. He had never been to the capital before, but he assumed that the Royal Academy was located near the castle together with the rest of the court. Hui Yue did not know whether or not his assumption was true, but he kept moving towards the castle. Cai Jie had not mentioned if he had been in the capital before, he just followed Hui Yue’s lead, and the two of them were eager to see the other friends once more.
Hui Yue could not help but feel a tingling inside as he thought about how he had not seen his friends for many years. He missed Deng Wu’s foolish behavior, Sha Yun’s cockiness, Rong Xing’s level-headedness, Gao Yan’s focused persona, and Rong Ming’s thoughtless behavior, but most of all, he missed Wang Ju Longs tender smile which made him feel as though he could fly. Cai Jie could see the happiness on Hui Yue’s face, and this caused a small smile spread on his own. What the mysterious golden young man was thinking was impossible to know.
Finally, after walking for hours on end, they reach the Imperial Palace. This palace had many entrances, some for nobles who regularly visited court, others were for the soldiers and guards who returned after finished work, and there was one gate for the Royal Academy. Heading towards this gate, Hui Yue found that young men were guarding it, young men who did not seem like normal guards but most likely students.
Looking at Hui Yue and Cai Jie, the two guards could not help but break out in a cold sweat as they knew they had a job to do. “E-excuse m-m-me,” One of them stuttered, “I-I’m sorry,” “But non-students are not allowed on campus.” The guard looked down at the ground as he stuttered his sentences. His heart was in his mouth as he feared that these two would get angry and take out their anger on him.
“I see,” Hui Yue said slowly as he rubbed his chin while looking at the surroundings. “I need to speak with Rong Xing and Rong Ming.” He continued almost laughing when he saw how the guard heaved a heavy sigh of relief.
“Yes, sir! I will instantly go and fetch the Rong twins!” He said as he rushed away not even taking the time to hear who it was who needed to speak with them. Thinking that his friends would get a great surprise, Hui Yue could not help but laugh quietly. His behavior caused the remaining guard to shift nervously from one foot to the other, uncertain if he should strike up a conversation with these two handsome men. Eventually, he figured that he was better off standing guard and staying quiet.
Hui Yue could not wait for the reunion and finally after what seemed like an eternity the guard return with two very familiar people following behind, both looking confused and uncertain about what was happening.