“Esteemed Guard, here is my travel permit issued by the Du Zhou Province.”
A relatively young merchant clasped his hands before the pair of armored guards standing under the stone gates, his lips drawn into an ingratiating smile.
At a flick of his sleeve, a servant-boy rushed forwards to hand over a frayed leather scroll with both hands.
Innumerable scrawls of black ink splattered across the surface of the leather page, and the symbol of Du Zhou Province could be spotted at its center.
The armored guard grasped the leather scroll with his right hand and closed his eyes, a flicker of spiritual essence racing through his brows to compare to the image ingrained in his memories.
Soon enough, the man clad in exquisite steel armor briskly nodded his hand, returning the leather scroll to the servant-boy with a nonchalant expression. When he spoke, the voice itself was monotone as though nothing in the world could pique his interest.
“Do not make trouble in the city.”
“Thanking the Esteemed Guard for his benevolence!”
The merchant lowered his waist into a deep bow, and set forth past the imposing wall of steel and into the innumerable rivers of Tianfeng City.
As the figure of the wooden carriage disappeared into the depths of the massive city, the monotonous voice rang across the endless plains once more.
Thus, the line of travelers, merchants, and adventurers gradually diminished as the day passed, some leaving with dissatisfied expressions whilst others entered the gracious city with a pleased smile on their countenance.
“Well, my dear Lingxue, shall we proceed as well?”
Wang Qinian stroked his beard as he mused in a low voice, directing several glances towards the little raven perched on the young girl’s shoulder. After a brief moment of contemplation, An Fei raised her eyebrow in thought.
“…all of them seemed to possess a travelling permit. Do you have anything of that sort?”
The elderly shopkeeper paused, his gleaming eyes glazing over in reminiscence.
“…worry not, believe in your Master!”
The young girl shook her head in disdain towards the elderly shopkeeper’s shameless statement, and patted the back of the horse tethered to the wooden carriage.
The pitiful animal quivered at the soft yet menacing touch, delivering itself towards the solemn gates of Tianfeng City in silence.
…it had been abducted from a rather comfortable shed that a villager had worked for the better part of a year to create. Alas, to think that its fate was to be like so…
The cold voice of the guard broke past An Fei’s thoughts, and she found herself staring into the disinterested and slightly disdainful expression of the guards before Tianfeng City.
The young girl couldn’t help but glance towards the rear cabin occupied by the shameless old man, her lips drawing into a thin line.
“We don’t have a permit.”
The two men clad in armor blinked in surprise, before sneers clouded their expressions. They rested the palms of their hands onto the silvery pommels of their swords, stepping forwards to intercept the path of the carriage.
“Without a permit, you may not enter the city!”
“However, you just allowed a young man and his carriage to enter the city without asking for his travelling permit,” the young girl blinked with innocence swirling within her eyes.
“Why are you… asking for my permit then?”
“That was the Si clan’s Young Master’s nephew! Why would he be required to show a permit to enter his own city?”
The two guards chuckled in laughter, though their grips on the swords did not relax in the slightest. The man on the left took another brave step forwards, the sneer on his lips becoming ever more pronounced by the second.
“Hmph, you think that you are of equal status as the Si Clan? Don’t try to climb trees beyond your ability, young girl… though we can discuss the matter of this issue… in a more private manner.”
The young girl before them didn’t possess an overworldly beautiful appearance and was only slightly better than average.
Nonetheless, for the twin bachelors who were tasked with standing outside to guard the city gates for several hours a day instead of playing in the flower houses and brothels like their peers, bullying a certain, defenseless An Fei was a divine opportunity.
Thus, they didn’t even bother to conceal their countenances tinged by lust as they dared to gaze deeply towards the subtle curves hidden behind the cloth, prompting many of the onlooking travelers to frown with disgust or snicker with a knowing laughter.
An Fei could only sigh.
“Old man, you’re still not coming out?” the young girl complained with a soft, irritated voice as she tapped onto the wooden carriage with her knuckles.
“Your offer back then really isn’t as sincere as you said it were, ah.”
No sooner than had the words left her lips, a hearty yet pained chuckle escaped from within the cabin of the carriage.
At the same time, a small object flew out of the opened window at a swift speed to slap one of the guards on the top of their heads.
“My dear Lingxue, you seemed to have this matter under control. Why have your Master come out and finish it?”
The man who had been knocked onto the ground stiffened with rage and indignation towards the insult hurled towards his head, but couldn’t help but suddenly freeze in shock.
As his eyes began to gradually recognize the object mere centimeters away from the bridge of his nose, the shock was replaced by fright, then a bone-chilling terror.
A pair of steel wings, and a bronze altar underneath the base of the wings. The tips of the wings were plated with gold, with small inscriptions displayed underneath.
And at the top of the emblem was the etching of a sun in flowing silvery ink. Etched on its surface was the imperial symbol of Great Yong.
As a guard of Tianfeng City, he was naturally aware of the massive awe and respect garnered towards the Hundred Clan Coalition that ruled the underbelly of Great Yong.
As a matter of fact, the reason he had enlisted as a guard at the beginning was to become closely attuned with these heavenly presences that oversaw the empire’s territories.
Since everyone had to pass by the guards to either leave or enter the city on foot, he could naturally encounter those of the Hundred Clan Coalition – be it young master, patriarch, or even a manservant. As such, not only was the job a physical bore, it possessed an extraorbitantly challenging mental hurdle.
…but he seemed to have pissed off a member of the Hundred Clan Coalition, and a Earth Guardian at that?
To top it off, he even directed lewd eyes towards a disciple who could casually backtalk to her Master without receiving punishment, and instead additional doting?
“Esteemed… Esteemed Guardian, please forgive this lowly one for his mistake,” the guard bowed his head low in apology, his voice trembling to the depths of his soul.
“This… this lowly one w-won’t dare commit such travesty again. Please… please just give this little one a chance!”
The forehead was plastered against the soft earth with fervent earnest, as though his previous disdain for it were nothing but mere delusions of the wind.
The hot rays of the sun pounded upon his back, accompanied by the heavy and poorly ventilated attire of a city guard, yet the man felt nothing but chilly sweat trickling from every crevice.
That was the young brat – no, lady – speaking… but he really didn’t want to die!
“If you want to live so much, why aren’t you letting us in?”
An Fei’s prolonged drawl of sarcasm was cut off by the elderly shopkeeper’s wave of his aged palm; the city guard suddenly found himself soaring through the air, as though his body had relinquished control to the fragile wind.
With futile screams of helplessness and relief, the usually hard-headed man found himself ever-so-compassionate with the world, his roughened hands moving quickly to open the iron gates barring entry into Tianfeng City.
“Esteemed Guardian! Esteemed… Young Lady, please!”
The young girl huffed in disappointment as the wooden carriage breezed past the gate underneath the surrounding crowd’s gazes of admiration and awe.
An Fei shook her fist towards the persistently shivering city guard, her bitter heart feeling slightly more appeased that the man resembled more of a broken mannequin than a headstrong male.
Alas, they had not managed to step any more than thirteen meters when Wang Qinian opened his mouth, a peculiar expression on his countenance.
“…Lingxue, you wanted to enter Tianfeng City for the transference array, was it not?”
“That is indeed correct.”
The reply was businessmanlike, devoid of any overflowing emotions of relief or happiness that the elderly shopkeeper had expected. Shaking his head, Wang Qinian readied for a second attempt.
“Lingxue, Lingxue, ah… utilizing the transference array is expensive, didn’t you know?”
“I have money!”
Again, curt and detached, but now a trace of impatience shone forth.
“…but mere silvers won’t be able to afford the transference array, ah? If Master remembers it correctly, a normal transport has a minimum fee of three gold coins, not to mention a privileged transference…”
“I have money!”
“Ah, but you can’t forget… each slot of the quota for the month is auctioned to the public!”
“I have money!”
An Fei certainly didn’t lack any money – at the least, she didn’t think she did.
She certainly possessed a mountain of gold, silver, and bronze that could thoroughly drown Wang Qinian’s Peak Core Formation Realm’s cultivation without any chance of resistance.
Perhaps, not even the clans of the Hundred Clan Coalition could match the little grey satchel’s wealth.
Therefore… she had money!
“…there’s no need to shake your fist with so much excitement, ah…”
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.