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Northern Liang Palace, at the strategic point Mount Qingliang, was majestic and imposing. It was surrounded by thousands of households and supported by millions.
As one of the few remaining individuals loyal to the Emperor, the King of Northern Liang, Xu Xiao was both hated and praised in the imperial courtyard and in Jianghu for his destructiveness as a famed warlord. It could even be said that, apart from the emperor’s throne, everything that lay within the three northwestern provinces was under his undisputed control. His hands covered the skies and the sun, and with a simple flick he could produce clouds and rain.
It was no surprise that this king’s political views did not conform to others within the imperial courtyard. As a result, they frequently cursed at his rudeness in private. Some even gave him the devastating title of “Second Emperor”, claiming that he had treacherous intentions toward the empire.
Today, the palace was bustling with noise. The powerful King of Northern Liang had personally opened the central door, waiting with a unit of his most glorious honorary guards to welcome an immortal elder. Servants in the palace had heard that an elder from the Daoist Holy Land Mount Longhu had taken a liking to the stupid young master and was coming to take him in as a closed-door disciple. This was an enormous blessing, and the Northern Liang Palace could only explain it as a fool’s luck.
This was just the way it was. The young master did not even cry when he was born. He could not read nor write a single word, and only began speaking at age six. His name on the other hand, sounded mighty and powerful: Xu Longxiang. The rumor was that an elder from Mount Longhu gave him the name the day he was born and promised to take him in as a disciple twelve years later. Sure enough, the elder had come to fulfill his promise.
In the palace courtyard, the elder from Mount Longhu twirled his snowy white beard around his finger with furrowed brows. An uncommonly seen mahogany sword was strapped to his back, complimenting his appearance and giving him a heavenly look. All those who saw him, sincerely felt that he was a being high above them.
But there was clearly a large hindrance stopping him from accepting the young master as a disciple. It was not because of the objections from the palace, but rather because of the stubbornness of his soon-to-be disciple. Squatting beneath a pear tree, a round butt faced this elderly master, who ranked within the top three under the heavens as a teacher. As for his martial prowess…. sigh, hopefully top thirty.
Even the Grand Pillar of the Empire, the King of Northern Liang, had to squat down and plead with his son using tactful words, acting like a caring mother, “Son, go to Mount Longhu and become a strong man. Afterward, if anyone dares to call you stupid, then beat him up. You don’t even need to be afraid of beating up any general or scholar below the third rank to death. Father will help you.”
“Son, you’re very strong. It will be too much of a shame if you do not learn martial arts and become one of the ten strongest experts under the heavens. Finish studying and then come back. Father will let you be a cavalry captain, give you a beautiful horse to ride on, and bestow upon you a magnificent suit of armor.”
The young master did not care at all. He continued to rigidly stare at the ground, looking at it with keen interest.
“Son, don’t you like to eat Tanghulu? Mount Longhu is covered with wild hawthorn trees. You can pick them and eat them as you please. Isn’t that right, Master Zhao?”
The elder forced out a smile and nodded his head. Receiving a disciple like this was humiliating for him. If it became known, he would become the greatest laughingstock under the heavens.
But even the persuasion of the grand King, who ruled the twelve counties and could cause the world to shake with a single word, could not move this youth. Most likely, because he was fed up with listening to his father’s rambling, he raised his butt and farted. He did not forget to turn his head and smirk at his father, making the King of Northern Liang so furious that he raised his hands ready to discipline his child. But after a long while, he slowly put down his hands. Firstly because he wasn’t willing to hit his own child. And secondly because there was no point in hitting him.
This son of his really did live up to his name, Xu Longxiang, which came from the verse “Dragons — the strongest in water. Elephants — the most powerful on land. Powerful like lightning and indestructible like diamond, known as Longxiang (TL: Dragon Elephant).” But don’t look at how simple-minded and stupid his nickname “Yellow Son” was. Even though he could not read a single word, even though his skin had a sickly yellow color, even though he looked thinner and weaker than others of his age,, his strength was first-class.
Xu Xiao joined the army at age ten. He had slaughtered Huns in the northeast Jinzhou. He had wiped out six kingdoms, while annihilating over seventy cities in the south. He had crushed the sixteen tribes of the southwest. He had seen all kinds of astonishingly strong generals. But, he had never seen someone like his child, who was born with copper muscles and iron bones with the power to uproot mountains.
Xu Xiao gently sighed. If his son was just a bit smarter and more open, he would have definitely become a matchless general across the battlefields in the future.
He slowly stood up. He turned his head towards the elder from Mount Longhu and gave the Daoist an awkward smile. The elder’s expression hinted that he did not mind. But in his heart, he couldn’t help but sigh with sorrow. To take in a disciple like this was just too ridiculous. As soon as the word got out, he would not only become the biggest joke under the heavens, but it would also be the last time he would be able to show his face in front of the numerous apprentices and disciples.
Helpless, the King of Northern Liang suddenly got an idea. He chuckled: “Son, your elder brother just returned from his trip. He should be arriving at the city soon. Are you not going to go look?”
The young master suddenly lifted his head. His expression was still as stiff and unchanging as ever, but his usual lifeless eyes suddenly burst with a rare, piercing brilliance. He pulled at his father’s hands and rushed outwards.
Unfortunately, this Northern Liang Palace was notorious for its twisting labyrinth with a thousand turns, if not then the Listening to the Tide Pavilion that suffered from the criticisms of the imperial scholars could not have endured for so long. Xu Xiao, whose hand hurt from his son’s strong squeeze, had to repeatedly remind his son of the path out. Xu Xiao couldn’t help but regret that he had made a mistake. After walking for a painfully long time, they finally arrived outside the palace. Father and son, along with the elder behind them, followed after a group of servants who were carrying chests of all sizes. These were all items that would be brought to Mount Longhu. The King of Northern Liang’s wealth was boundless. He loved his children dearly and pampered them, not letting them experience any hardships or grievances.
When they arrived outside the palace, the young master discovered that the streets were completely empty. There were no signs of his brother. At first, he was disappointed. Then, he grew angry. He shouted hoarsely and irascibly, which in the beginning, was directed towards Xu Xiao. But no matter how stupid he was, he at least knew who his father was. If not, then Xu Xiao would have come to an early end, just like the black bear that unfortunately met with Xu Longxiang in the recent autumn hunting and was split into two by the twelve year old boy. The young master gave a sharp glare at his guilty father, before turning around to leave.
Just one step short from success, Xu Xiao had no choice but to shoot a glance towards the elder. The Daoist from Mount Longhu let out a slight chuckle and extended his arm. Although old and withered, he stopped the young master with just two fingers. He whispered gently: “Xu Longxiang, do not waste your extraordinary talent that comes around only once every hundred years. Follow me to Mount Longhu and in ten years at most, you will leave the mountain filled with wisdom and honor.”
The youth did not care. He hummed and then tried to move forward. But he discovered, that for some strange reason, he was not able to struggle free from the bind of the old Daoist even though he looked as frail as the clouds and as light as the wind. His foot in mid-air, how come it never reached the ground?
The Emperor of Northern Liang felt as if a heavy burden had finally been released. It looked like this senior really did have some ability. A father knew his son. How could Xu Xiao not be aware of his son’s incredible strength? It was so overwhelming that he did not dare arrange too many servants for his son, afraid that his son would accidentally break their legs or bones. Over the years countless chairs and tables had been broken. Fortunately, the King of Northern Liang had boundless wealth, any ordinary household would have gone bankrupt long ago.
The young master stared blankly and immediately flared up. With a soft grunt, he forced the old elder to take one step, two steps, three steps back. Crowned with gold and dressed in a feathered robe, the Daoist showed a slightly surprised expression. Instead of getting angry, he actually became happy. He carefully added more pressure, stopping the youth from advancing any further.
This time, Xu Longxiang truly grew furious. His face turning ferocious like a wild beast. He extended his free hand and, with both hands, grabbed the old Daoist’s arm. His two legs sunk and with a crack, two deep imprints were stamped onto the white jade tiles underneath. He flung, getting ready to toss the old Daoist over himself.
King Xu Xiao squinted, not the least bit afraid that a fatal wound might appear. If that Daoist did not even have the ability to deal with this, then he might as well just die from the throw. He, Xu Xiao, had flattened the Western Chu Dynasty to the ground with just Liang Province’s cavalry. How could he have the slightest bit of reverence towards a Jianghu sect? So what if Mount Longhu was at the head of the Dao? Even though the great sects within his territory couldn’t compare to Mount Longhu, those sects were still considered top ranked. For instance, the Daoist Wudang Mountains had fought against Mount Longhu for hundreds of years and was already exceedingly powerful enough in Jianghu. Did they not send messengers over to deliver several cauldrons full of precious pills to him every year?
The old Daoist gently drifted onto a two-man tall white jade guardian lion sculpture standing watch outside of the palace, making him look extremely heavenly. With this move, if this was in the market, he’d obtain the whole crowd’s applause.
If this was according to the King of Northern Liang Xu Xiao’s eldest prince, with his famous way of speaking, then: “This deserves a reward. That is not an easy move, that is a skilled move” and thousands or millions of silver notes would have been bestowed upon him. Thinking back, those were the years when the troublemaker prince had yet to leave Northern Liang for his trip. How many female entertainers and Jianghu fakes had he bestowed money upon?
The one who set the record, was a traveling martial artist from the outside. Due to a slight disagreement he fought with the local swordsmen all the way from a street-side vegetable vendor, to the lakeside and finally to the top of the largest multi-storied brothel in the lakeside of Liang Province. In the process, they woke up the prince, who was taking a nap after finishing his daytime sexual activities. Ignoring the young beauty in his bed, with her snowy white skin and beautiful jade-like face, the prince immediately applauded from his windows. After that event, not only did the authorities not investigate the event on the prince’s orders, they even nearly rewarded that traveling martial artist with a plaque of honor which read “Hero of the Liang Province”. The prince even forced his servants to whip their horses in a hurry to deliver a trove filled with a hundred thousand silver notes to the traveling martial artist.
Without the extravagant prince, life in the beautiful Ling Province really became boring. The proper young ladies finally dared to venture out into the streets again and buy rouge. The other young toffs were finally no longer being tormented by that bully lord. The small and large brothels stopped getting ridiculously grand tips from the number one prodigal prince.
The King of Northern Liang had two daughters and two sons, all of them freaks.
The eldest princess married three husbands in succession, becoming the most beautiful widow with the greatest dowries in the dynasty. In the Five Counties of Jiang Nan, she was known far and wide as the Unrestrained Wind.
Although the appearance of the second princess was average, she was a multi-talented erudite and skillful at planning and management. Under the tutelage of the great scholar Han Guzi in the Shangyin Academy, she became the youngest schoolfellow of the nationally-reputed authorities: Tactician Xu Huang, Diplomat Sima Can, etc.
Xu Longxiang was the youngest child of the King of Northern Liang. Compared to his siblings, his name wasn’t as famous. As for the eldest son, his renowned name resounded even in the capital. When the great King Xu Xiao was mentioned, the name Xu Fengnian was always inevitably brought up as well. “Praised” with the saying: with a lion as a father, the son cannot be a dog. Unfortunately, Xu Xiao was a hero on the battlefield. His son, however, worked hard as a prodigal spender for his romantic passions.
Three years ago, it was rumored that the eldest prince Xu Fengnian was driven out of the palace with a sword pointed at his throat. He had been forced to imitate other young nobles, taking the routine trip before his puberty rites. Three years then passed by in a flash without any news of him. Even now the Ling Province still remembered the touching scene, where several dandies and courtesans tearfully waved goodbye as the prince departed from the city. However, unbeknownst to the public, when the prince had gone far away, a brothel called The Redbird Mansion drank all throughout the whole night. So much wine was dumped into the lake that the entire city could smell the sweet scent of wine.
Back at the palace, the dim-witted young prince hurried over to the jade guardian lion. It looked as if throwing the elder was not enough for him. This time he was going to throw the elder, along with the twenty ton jade lion.
However, just as he was about to pick up the lion, the elder from Mount Longhu drifted down. He grabbed one of the youth’s hands and employed true martial arts ——the cryptic “Shifting Mountain’s” Daoist technique. With this clever move, he would pull the currently half-squatting youth away. He chuckled gently: “Yellow Son, do not make trouble. Come with master.” The youth clutched onto the base of the lion with his other hand. His five fingers dug into the jade like hooks, unwilling to let go. His two arms now stretched across like a monkey. He shouted coarsely: “I’m waiting for brother to come back. Brother said he would bring me the most gorgeous beauty under the heavens to be my wife. I’m going to wait for him!”
The Grand Pillar Xu Xiao, who had reached the highest peak in the world, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Helplessly, he looked towards the yellow-crowned elder and heavily sighed: “Forget about it, let’s wait a little bit longer. In any case, he will be back soon.”
The elder heard this and a weird expression formed on his face. But in the end, he let go of the young master’s arm, silently clicking his tongue. This child was indeed born with godly strength. It was almost as if he was the reincarnation of Jupiter himself.
But was that son of a b*tch Xu Fengnian actually coming back? That was bad news. When he thought back to the first time he came to the palace, he had truly undergone a bitter trial. Not only was he treated like a swindling Jiang Hu fake, but that seven or eight year old rabbit even released a pack of disgusting dogs to bite him. And even after going through a great deal of trouble to explain what happened, as soon as he entered the palace that little son of a b*tch gave him another evil eye. He sent two young and delicate beauties to knock on his door late at night. They told him that the night was cold and that he needed “blankets” to warm him. Relying on his superhuman willpower, he was able to resist. But now, he would sometimes think of that night and regret not discussing <<The True Text of the Great Discernment>> and <<Yellow Court Classic>> with them. If not those, then having a chat on <<The Classics of the Virgin>> would have been fine too.
Amidst the illumination of the twilight, the shadows of an old man and a young boy grew long on the main road. The old man carried a bundle wrapped in rags. His clothing was in tatters and his hair was completely white,he even had some straw in his hair. If he held a begging bowl, he would look like a genuine beggar. A frail, lame horse followed behind him. The younger one wasn’t actually that young, his face covered in stubbles and his garments covered in holes. He looked like a fleeing refugee.
“Old Huang, endure for just a while longer. Once we enter the city and return home, there’ll be large chunks of meat and grand bowls of wine for us. F*ck. Before, I never felt like meat or wine was anything special. But thinking of them now is making my mouth drool like crazy. I dream of them every day.” The youth, whose age was indiscernible, said weakly and without strength.
The servant-like old man laughed heartily, exposing a mouth full of yellow teeth. He looked very simple and ridiculous.
“What are you laughing at you old man. I can’t even cry out any tears right now.” The youth rolled his eyes. He did not have the energy to speak any more.
Along their 1000km return home, the only experience they were missing was begging. They had touched fish in the water, played hide and seek with rabbits in the mountain, and climbed trees to search for birds nests. As long as there was even a sliver of meat, once it was cooked, it didn’t matter if there was any salt or seasoning on it, it was the most delicious meal under the heavens. On their journey back, they even tried to steal a few chickens and ducks from villages and farms they passed. There were several incidents, where they had been chased by heroes carrying wooden sticks for several kilometers. They almost died from exhaustion.
What rich child didn’t look grand and powerful with their luxurious clothing and strong horses?
But looking at himself now, with his ragged clothing and shabby straw sandals. He did have a horse, but he was not willing to eat it for meat, nor was he willing to ride it. The horse did eat a lot though.
There were no tough servant like other rich sons had. Instead he only had poor Old Huang, a short 60 year old servant. One look at him and one would fear that he would suddenly drop dead. If poor Huang died, then he would not even have a companion to talk to, and he would have to make the effort of digging a hole for his grave in some desolate area in the wild.
Not far from the city was a booth that served apricot blossom wine. He was truly too exhausted. Smelling the sweet fragrance of wine he closed his eyes and sniffed, his face turning infatuated. It smelled so damn good. He walked over, full of determination, and sat on the only open stool available. He clenched his teeth and shouted with his final ounce of energy: “Bartender, drinks!”
All of the customers, who were there to rest on their way either to or from the city, avoided this ragged master and servant duo and moved their seats further away from him.
The busy bartender, hearing the call, answered with an “Okay.” But, after seeing the state these two were in, he immediately put on a long face. As someone involved in a business, how could he not have a discerning eye? These two customers did not look like people who had money for wine. This booth’s bartender could be considered relatively kind. He didn’t hastily shoo these two away. Putting a fake smile he reminded them: “A bottle of apricot blossom wine costs 20 coins. It’s not expensive, but it isn’t cheap either.”
If this was before, and he was looked down upon like this, the young man would have turned furious and unleashed the hounds. But these three years had changed his attitude and cooled his flame. He was used to the days where he had no status and needed to hold back his temper a number of times. He gasped: “No problem. There will naturally be someone who will pay the bills for us. And, of course, there will be a tip for you too.”
“Tip?” The bartender croaked, his face full of disdain.
The youth forced a smile. He lifted up his thumb and forefinger and put them in his mouth. He then used the last ounce of his strength to blow out a loud whistling noise and then, put his head onto the table. The sound of snoring rang out into the air. He had actually fallen asleep. The bartender was completely puzzled. Those with sharp eyes noticed a silhouette flash by.
An eagle-like fowl flew over the city walls like a darting arrow.
In the time it took for a customer to drink a bowl of apricot blossom wine, a huge rumble shook the earth. The wine tables rocked back and forth. The customers stared with wide-eyes as the wine swayed along with the wooden tables. They all carefully cupped their wine in order to prevent if from spilling, and looked around.
They suddenly saw a mass of iron-clad cavalry rush out from the city gates, forming two long and seemingly endless black lines. Amidst the flying clouds of dust, large horses galloped forth. These were the famous Heroic Heavy Horses of Northern Liang. In the hands of the leader was an imperial banner, brightly colored like blood. A single word was written on it: “Xu”!
Incredible! The King of Northern Liang’s most trusted and loyal troops.
Under the heavens, who could fight against the Northern Liang Iron Cavalry, which had galloped through and trodden over Thirteen Provinces of the Empire?
In the past, the arrogant Western Chu believed that their 120,000 Heavy Halberdiers could match the Northern Liang’s Iron Cavalry. But their confrontation at the Battle of Jing River ended in their disastrous defeat. Countless soldiers were buried alive under the cavalry’s hoofs and their anguished cries could be heard throughout the battlefield like thunder.
Two hundred elite Iron Cavalry rushed out, powerful and mighty.
A falcon full of spirit led the way.
The two hundred Iron Cavalry suddenly came to a halt. Their movements were valiant and skilled. They had already far surpassed those heroes who had fought in a hundred battles.
The fourth rank Captain nearly fell off his horse in a rush. Seeing the old servant, he immediately hurried over to the wine booth. He knelt down and saluted in respect: “This lowly captain is honored to be in the presence of the prince!”
The poor and shabby-looking young man who claimed he would leave a tip, simply muttered in his sleep, “Bartender, drinks.”
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