Book 2 Chapter 24: Hong Si of the White Horse Gang
The first page of «Earthly Ranking»:
“In the Nine Prefectures, there are numerous heroes.”
“In the bitter cold Youzhou and Yanzhou, the northeastern King ‘Hong Tian’ once conquered the greater part of the Nine Prefectures with his eighty-thousand You Yan cavalry soldiers. The Qin Mountain Range that was three thousand miles away from Yongzhou gave rise to the Heavenly Emperor of Qin Mountains, who was peerless amongst his generation. Being able to halt the Yan Jiang River with only one punch, he became the second person in history to unify the entire land! Emperor Yu from Yuzhou was the first person who divided the mountains and Nine Prefectures, unified the land, forged the nine cauldrons, and established a capital at the Yu Prefecture. After he became the first emperor in history, his prefecture, the Yu Prefecture, became the royal capital, and it drew many heroes…”
“However, these heroes became dust in history. They were forgotten by their descendants after hundreds of years. The patriarch of the Wan Xiang Sect sighed every time he thought about this, so he came up with the idea to write the «Heavenly Ranking» and «Earthly Ranking». So he traveled all over the world, recording heroic legends from across the land. The descendants of the Wan Xiang Sect completed the rest of the modification work. At last, the four ranks of the Nine Prefectures were made – «Heavenly Ranking», «Earthly Ranking», «Hidden Dragon Ranking», and «Young Phoenix Ranking».”
“The four rankings of the Nine Prefectures are updated every six months! More heroes in the Nine Prefectures are recorded with every revision.”
“We of the Wan Xiang Sect are determined to record all the heroes in the Nine Prefectures inside the four rankings. This way, the descendants will remember the heroes even after thousands of years.”
After seeing this page, Teng Qingshan couldn’t help but feel his blood boil.
Many of these heroes didn’t care about money or treasure. However, being immortalized for thousands of years was every hero’s dream.
Teng Qingshan turned to the second page.
“Among the four rankings of the Nine Prefectures, the «Hidden Dragon Ranking» lists the one-hundred and eight most outstanding young heroes at the age of thirty or less. The «Young Phoenix Ranking» lists the one-hundred and eight young heroines who are thirty years old or less.”
Teng Qingshan’s eyes were shining.
Only one-hundred and eight men and women were recorded among the entire Nine Prefectures. They must be favored by the heavens.
“The «Heavenly Ranking» and the «Earthly Ranking» are the core of the four ranks, and they are divided into Innate Realm and Postliminary Realm! However, to reach the peak of the Innate Realm, only one among thousands of people might succeed. Therefore, most of the heroes were Postliminary Realm warriors. The «Earthly Ranking» lists seventy-two warriors who reached the peak of the Postliminary Realm.”
Teng Qingshan’s eyes lit up while thinking to himself, “The «Earthly Ranking» has no age restriction, and only by being the top seventy-two warriors amongst the hundreds of millions of people throughout the Nine Prefectures could one be considered truly powerful. The «Earthly Ranking» is more valuable than both the «Young Phoenix Ranking» and the «Hidden Dragon Ranking». No one on the «Earthly Ranking» should be underestimated.”
Teng Qingshan continued reading.
“The «Heavenly Ranking» lists thirty-six people who have reached the peak of the Innate Realm. The «Heavenly Ranking» has changed very little in the last one or two decades because Innate Realm warriors are rare. On the contrary, the «Earthly Ranking» holds quite a lot of competition. Thousands of people reach the Postliminary Realm, but only seventy-two of them are recorded in the «Earthly Ranking»! Half a year ago, the ranking list took down eleven heroes and replaced them with another eleven warriors.”
Teng Qingshan skimmed the introduction about the four rankings.
People valued the young heroes on the «Hidden Dragon Ranking» and the «Young Phoenix Ranking», but they paid even greater attention to the Heavenly and Earthly Rankings. The «Heavenly Ranking» rarely changed since there were very few people who reached the Innate Realm, while the «Earthly Ranking» was very competitive.
Many heroes didn’t want to risk their lives and only leave their name on the «Earthly Ranking».
“Some are tempted by money, some are obsessed with beauty. However, most of the heroes value their fame.” Teng Qingshan sighed in his heart. He continued reading the book to see who the seventy-two heroes that were listed on the «Earthly Ranking» were.
“Qingshan.” A voice suddenly sounded behind him.
“Huh? Father!” Teng Qingshan finally woke up from his trance.
“What are you reading that caused you to become so enchanted?” Teng Yongfan smiled.
Teng Qinghu laughed and said, “Qingshan spent ten taels of silver to buy this book on «Earthly Ranking».”
“You’re really not stingy on spending money.” Teng Yongfan didn’t blame Qingshan for his curiosity. “The materials are ready. Let’s go to the alley and wait for the others.” They then left Wan Xiang Tower and waited in the nearby alley.
There were less people in the alley. The rest of the clansmen hadn’t shown up yet. Qingshan leaned against the wall and continued reading the «Earthly Ranking».
The Earthly Ranking described the seventy-two heroes and their famous deeds.
“One may reach to the peak of Postliminary Realm as long as they continue training inner strength for several decades. But having the same amount of inner strength as someone else doesn’t mean their levels of actual strength will be the same.” Reading this book, Teng Qingshan sighed. According to this «Earthly Ranking», many people could reach the Innate Realm.
However, depending on the method and individual perception, one’s strength would vary.
For example, Teng Qingshan.
Teng Qingshan had reached a totally different level after learning «Crossing Worlds». At that time, it was the inner strength techniques that made this big difference.
One’s perception was also a key factor.
Teng Qingshan had figured out two spear techniques, “Pursuing Shadow” and “Transmutation Unity Qi”. Teng Qinghu, with his thousands of Jin strength, needed Teng Yonglei and Teng Qingshan assisting him when facing a wolf pack’s attack. But if it was Teng Qingshan, having the same strength, he could easily kill hundreds of wolves with his spear.
The volume of the inner strength was only a foundation.
The way of using inner strength and one’s perception were both very important. That was why people killed each other for various techniques.
“Huh?” Teng Qingshan’s eyes suddenly lit up when he was reading the deed of the hero ranked fifty-eight.
“When Yang Fan was forty-eight years old, he hunted down the infamous four brothers of the Hong clan. For three days and nights, he chased them over a thousand Li. Hong Si was the only one who survived amongst the four brothers. He escaped back to his hometown of Yi City and founded the White Horse Gang. However, Hong Si has not dared to find Yang Fan to seek revenge in the past two decades. At Yang Fan’s 52…”
(TLN: Si = four, which means kind of like the Forth Hong)
The story of Yang Fan and Hong Si was mentioned briefly in the book.
However, Teng Qingshan was quite surprise.
“Master Hong Si of the White Horse Gang has such a shocking history!” The White Horse Gang was the tyrant in Yi City, and Master Hong Si was its leader. His every word was absolute. Who would have imagined that such a great man had such an embarrassing history?
“Father, look.” Teng Qingshan smiled and handed the book over to his father, “Read this paragraph.”
Teng Yongfan read it with curiosity and was surprised, “Master Hong Si had three brothers, no wonder he’s called Hong Si! But who is this person Yang Fan? He is so strong.” As he said this, Teng Yongfan started reading the book from the beginning.
Teng Qingshan gave off a wry smile.
He’d never thought his father would also be fascinated by this book, but fortunately, he had finished most of it already.
“Master Hong Si’s strength must be quite powerful.” Teng Qingshan made a judgement based on that story. “The ones listed on the «Earthly Ranking» must be at the peak of the Postliminary Realm and a significant figure among the Nine Prefectures. Even if Yang Fan had chased the four Hong brothers for three days, Hong Si still managed to escape. Hong Si shouldn’t be underestimated. Besides… the Hong brothers must have certainly had some martial prowess in order to earn their infamy. It would be impossible to receive such an evaluation if they weren’t powerful.”
Merely being mentioned by a couple of words in the «Earthly Ranking» already meant that an individual was strong.
If the Hong brothers were not powerful, their story wouldn’t have been recorded in the book.
As Teng Qingshan and his group were waiting for the rest of their people, some figures stood in the alley a hundred feet away from them.
“Do you see them? There, those three hunters.” A man in black pointed towards Teng Qingshan’s direction and whispered.
“I saw them. Brother Lang, you said that they have a bill worth ten-thousand taels of silver?” A lean man with triangular eyes asked in surprise.
The man in black sneered, “Why should I lie to you? If we weren’t from the same village, I would never have told you this. This time, our master paid them a bill worth ten-thousand taels of silver for a big order of weapons.”
“Ten-thousand taels…” The man’s triangular eyes lit up as he chuckled, “Brother Lang, rest assured. Our men will kill them and rob them of this bill. I definitely won’t forget you. But I don’t understand, why did your master give the money away and let us rob them after he paid them?”
The man in black snuffed, “You don’t understand. Our master takes revenge even for the smallest grievance! He did not want to pay the money to these mountain folks, but these guys were so noisy that the Lord came out. Our master had no way but to hand over the bill. However, although our master didn’t dare to act against the Lord nor against his senior fellow apprentice, he would definitely take revenge on these villagers.”
The triangular-eyed man chuckled, “Your master is so ruthless. But I like him, haha.”
“Humpf, we get a lot of benefits working for this kind of master. If the Lord hadn’t come out, I would have at least gotten 100 taels out of the 10,000 taels of silver.”
“Be at ease. Brother Lang, if we get this bill worth 10,000 taels of silver, I will definitely honor you and give you much more than 100 taels.” The triangular-eyed man said.
The man in black smiled.
“Hey, look. The other hunters came out, and it seems they are about to leave. You should hurry up and prepare to stage an ambush,” The man in black said in a hurry.
“Rest assured, we are familiar with the layout of Yi City. They won’t be able to escape us.” The triangular-eyed man clasped his hands, “Brother Lang, I have my own business to tend to. I’ll meet you again when night falls.”
“Go.” The man in black said.
Exactly at this moment, the people from the Teng Jia Village had gathered.
“Everyone is here. Let’s go back.” Teng Yongfan smiled and handed the book back to Qingshan. “This book is very good. Lend it to me after we return.” As they chatted with each other, the hunters set out on their journey back to Teng Jia Village.