An Fei tilted her head towards the right, her countenance suffused with confusion.
Ignoring the youth besides her who constantly fell into moody contemplation with an aura of depression and gloom surrounding his body, the young girl blinked as she glanced back towards the strict-expressioned Yang Jian.
“That old man was the one who wanted to go to Dong Lin City?” the young girl carelessly tossed out, turning around to view the ascending moon bathed in twilight.
“I only agreed to travel with the Shen Family. I don’t really… have a destination in mind?”
Travel with the Shen Family?
Yang Jian raised an eyebrow at the vague answer that departed from An Fei’s lips; though, sensing that she had no intention of deceiving him, the handsome man merely nodded and turned towards the Third Young Master of the Bone Spirit Town’s Tang Clan.
“I… I can’t say in public,” the youth muttered after an additional breath of hesitation.
“However, I doubt that Honorable Yang would be hindered much by my intentions of coming to this place.”
Again, Yang Jian was forced to nod in understanding, a thread of frustration weaving through his heart at the inability to discern any further information.
Returning to dispel a fight that was about to erupt between Shen Haoren, Tang Yunhe, and Wen Jiu, he waved his hands towards the city guard standing nearby.
“Who are… Honorable Yang!?” the soldier squinted his eyes, before cold sweat flooded his brow.
Instantly, the city guard motioned for his partner to watch the gate in his stead, whilst he rushed off to greet the Yang Clan’s Young Master.
With his spine threatening to collapse from the unexpected stress colliding against his back, the experienced city guard bowed towards Yang Jian’s cold and expressionless countenance, his heart shuddering at the appearance of the people besides him.
Second Young Master Tang, Fourth Young Master Shen, Third Young Master Wen…
But… Fourth Young Master Shen aside, when did the three calamities depart?
“Honorable Yang… you’ve finally returned!”
The city guard lied through his teeth, his spear rattling in its holster as it sought to flee the awkward scene.
As a deafening silence encompassed the surroundings, even the solider deeply agreed with his weapon’s sentiments, even if it meant that he was to derelict from his duty.
After a few seconds of time which seemed to stretch for eternity, a hint of a smirk devoid of any good intention manifested on Yang Jian’s countenance.
The Young Master of the Yang Clan that was a part of the upper echelons of the Hundred Clan Coalition raised an eyebrow towards the shivering city guard.
“I say, when did Du Zhaoze learn that I had left the city?”
The voice was suppressed and calm, as if he was responding to a random passerby on the street.
However, the city guard’s heart sunk to the abyss after hearing the spiritless and dull voice, as if he had been condemned into the lowest layers of the Underworld.
“Honorable Yang… I don’t have any information to that, ah…”
The soldier scratched the back of his head as a forced bashful expression scratched itself on his countenance, wishing that he was prepared to die the next moment.
Unfortunately, he was destined to receive a peculiar but definitely nerve-wracking pat on the shoulder.
“I see. Good work defending the city.”
Yang Jian nodded as he lead the others into Dong Lin City, leaving behind one frail and withered city guard.
An ashen complexion replacing that of his vibrant and rosy aura, the soldier collapsed onto his knees, a pool of foul liquid gathering between his legs.
“I got to say, that city guard was a sight, ah?”
Tang Yunhe joked as they passed through the dull yet imposing arch of the city gates and into an inviting scene. As the others burst into piteous or boisterous laughter, An Fei’s eyes carefully took in the new environment with a passive expression.
Compared to Bone Spirit Town’s five roads system… Dong Lin City was a whole realm above in development.
The city had been divided into five sectors by cardinal directions, with the central region occupied by its individual sector.
With a single glance around, however, the young girl realized that the common scene she witnessed was better than Bone Spirit Town’s Purity Road and its specialties.
In the town, the rich clans barely possessed enough silk to pass around to their Young Misses and Young Masters.
On the other hand, silk, golden accessories, jade jewelry, and cultivation resources were placed on display in the open – even in wooden stalls.
Those purchasing them were not limited to the aristocratic layer of society; An Fei even saw a maidservant of a family lead her child around a nearby alley to purchase a thick manual bound by cured leather, the title stamped with bold characters.
Given from its high-demanding and esoteric name, the manual had to be either a cultivation or martial arts technique.
“Speaking of martial arts techniques…”
An Fei murmured to herself, pinching at the ends of her hanfu and rushing forwards to catch up with the group.
Ensuring that she didn’t stray away from Shen Haoren’s position by a distance exceeding three steps, the young girl fell into her own thoughts.
How many were in this Dong Lin City?
One million? Two million?
Each family possessed a beautifully constructed house, and the streets were lit with a strange pearl emitting a constant glow of golden light…
Furthermore, every person she saw on the streets was wearing silken clothing or of luxurious fabric; her hanfu, despite having been weaved from supple and delicate threads obtained from an obscure source, now appeared to be faded and unkempt.
At the number of eyes constantly piercing into her body and clothing with a tinge of curiosity and disdain, the young girl deliberated whether she should remove her presence to avoid any incoming trouble.
“I heard from a few sources that the Du Clan was becoming more rampant and aggressive than before.”
Tang Yunhe’s voice drifted into her ear, prompting An Fei to glance at the four men from the corner of her eye.
Besides her, Shen Haoren and the others had cast aside their frivolous expressions and lighthearted auras, their solemn voices taking advantage of the chaotic din to converse without much need for concealment.
“Aggressive?” Shen Haoren echoed, his brows creasing in an inquisitive invitation.
“Have they found an ancestor’s tomb, or did one of their younger generation break into the Core Formation Realm before a hundred years old?”
“Neither,” Tang Yunhe shook his head, a puzzled expression on his countenance.
“From what I could glean before they killed all of my informants, they had discovered a clue – I believe that’s what their Patriarch joked about on that day. Nine Yellow Reincarnations and the appearance of a seven-tailed fox… that’s all I managed to obtain.”
Six different gasps for breath roared throughout the boisterous and rampant alleyways of Dong Lin City’s western sector, their rapid intake of breath representative of six differing seas of thoughts.
At the same moment, An Fei’s heart flung into a hitch of caution.
“Nine Yellow Reincarnation…” Shen Haoren murmured, before turning towards Yang Jian.
“Whilst I was gone, did you find anythi –“
An Fei saw the world before her blur into a distortion of color and hues scattered in all directions. Under the guide of the <Steps of Underlying Shadow>, the young girl expertly moved backwards, her body releasing a faint aura of danger.
Before her stood an elegantly dressed youth clad in a robe enriched with silver dragons, qilins, and foxes with nine tails.
In the crowd dressed in silk and embroidered brocade, the young man was as though a divine lance spearing through a sea of foes; the people naturally parted back, clearly unwilling to entangle with him or his guards.
Six menacing men stood behind the elegantly clad youth, dressed in black steel armor that covered their entire body save for their lips.
Sheathed at their waist was a longsword with a serrated edge, and a spiked mace rested against their back.
And for some reason, An Fei’s lips couldn’t cease their twitching.
As she watched the youth stride in her direction, the young girl was unable to determine whether it was exasperation or bemusement flooding her heart.
Shaking her head and deciding to depart first and observe later, An Fei stepped to her right to mingle into the crowd –
“You there, stop!”