Book 3: Clear River in Turmoil
Chapter 1: Robbery (1)
Early dawn. The sound of hooves clopping on the ground grew louder as a carriage slowly advanced along a path.
Within the carriage was a brawny Cliff Race youth, his massive figure making him look like a small mountain. The carriage creaked and groaned under his weight.
Next to the brawny Cliff Race youth was a small old man who pointed down the path in front of them and said, “The fork is just ahead of us. Both paths will take you to your destination. The left path is around thirty kilometers shorter than the right, but I recommend you take the right path.”
“Why is that?” the brawny Cliff Race youth asked in a low, muffled voice.
“There’s more bandits along the left path, of course. The left path will take you through a mountain, and the bandits are holed up everywhere there. Going that way is pretty dangerous,” the old man replied.
“Bandits?” Iron Cliff squinted his eyes slightly.
He turned around and said, “Master, he said there are more bandits along the left side.”
“Is that so? Then let’s go to the left,” an indifferent voice floated out of the carriage.
“Yah!” The horse carriage turned, entering the left-most path.
“Hey! This…… what are you doing?” The old man instantly grew agitated upon seeing this, and his entire body stiffened.
The carriage’s curtains were drawn back, revealing the face of a young maiden. Her skin was on the darker side, but she had some attractive features. She laughed as she looked at the old man, “Grandpa, what are you so worried about? Prince Su is an extremely talented person. With him here, we don’t have anything to worry about. Besides, Uncle Iron Cliff alone would be enough to defeat ten of them.”
Iron Cliff’s face twitched when he heard the little girl call him Uncle. He was roughly the same age as Su Chen, but because he appeared older, the little girl called his master a Prince but himself an Uncle.
The old man yelled, “What do you know, girl! I can tell that Prince Su and Brother Iron Cliff have some skill, but is there a lack of people in this world with ability? Even amongst bandits, there are likely some experts! It’s better to avoid provoking them if possible. Safety first, after all!”
“You should tell Prince Su that, not me.” The young maiden rolled her eyes and then pulled the curtains again.
The old man grew agitated again. “Hey, weren’t you just going to send him some water? Why are you still lazing around inside and not coming out? Quick, come out; do you have the status to be sitting in that carriage?”
The little maiden yelled from inside the carriage, “I won’t! How am I supposed to serve Prince Su from outside the carriage? Furthermore, there’s only so much space outside, and you and Uncle Iron are already taking up most of the space. Wouldn’t leaving so much free space inside be a waste? In any case, Prince Su has already allowed me to stay here.
“You…… you…… you…… Damn it all, I shouldn’t have taken you along with me!” Old He said in distress, yet there was nothing he could do.
Old He was an experienced courier. Within the surrounding regions, there wasn’t a single road that he didn’t know about.
His granddaughter was called He Xiaochan. That name had been proposed by a visiting scholar a few years ago, and she normally accompanied Old He on his trips. Old He served as the guide, while He Xiaochan was responsible for serving the guest. That way, they could earn a little bit more money.
Normally, his granddaughter would first dirty her face before serving others as a means of protection.
This time, however, not only did she not dirty her face, but she also wore her favorite flowery garments. Now, she was lazing around inside their guest’s carriage and wouldn’t come out.
Old He knew that his granddaughter had likely taken a fancy to the handsome prince inside.
But was he someone you could afford to fancy?
Old He sighed in his heart, but there was nothing he could say.
He was an old man with plenty of experience, and his perception was still pretty keen. Even though he couldn’t exactly determine how strong Prince Su was, he could at least tell that Prince Su wasn’t a beast on the inside. This was why he allowed his granddaughter to remain inside the carriage; he knew that this was just a fantasy anyway.
It’s not a bad thing for her to run into a wall, Old He thought in his heart.
Within the carriage, He Xiaochan cupped her hands on her chin as she stared at the person across from her.
Su Chen leaned against the carriage walls, reading his book intently.
“Prince Su,” He Xiaochan suddenly said.
“Mmm?” Su Chen replied without even raising his head.
“Do you like to read?”
“What are you reading about?”
“Just some information about the Crow Region and local happenings.”
“What’s there?” He Xiaochan continued to search for things to talk about.
Su Chen sighed, closed the book, and said, “In the Crow Region, there are a total of sixteen prefectures separated by three major rivers and four major mountain ranges. The rivers are extremely serpentine, and the mountain ranges are very craggly, making it the most complicated region in all of Long Sang Country in terms of terrain. Because of how treacherous the roads are here, its relative desolateness, and its distance from the emperor’s palace, almost every piece of land has already been fragmented by tyrant overlords. The worst cases include Clear River, Suyuan, Blackwater, and Panshan. Governmental influence in those locations is weak, and the territories are large, resulting in constant conflict in those areas. Bandits have also settled down, infesting the area for a number of years.”
This flurry of information was spat out at an extremely fast rate. He Xiaochan was completely thrown for a loop. “I…… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“If you don’t know, then don’t ask so much,” Su Chen said sincerely.
He picked his book back up and began to read.
At that moment, wild yells began to sound out from outside the carriage.
A gruff voice demanded, “If you know what’s good for you, hand over the money……”
Upon hearing this, Su Chen raised his head.
The curtain covering the carriage opened. Old He’s head poked in, fear written on his face. “Prince Su, the bandits are here.”
Simultaneously, Iron Cliff squeezed his big head in. “Master, there’s twelve of them.”
Having been with Su Chen for so many years, Iron Cliff was already extremely accustomed to Su Chen’s habits. He was always concise and to the point when he spoke.
“Only twelve?” Su Chen felt some surprise.
“They should be small fry; there isn’t even a single Qi Drawing Realm cultivator amongst them.”
“Oh.” Su Chen was a bit disappointed. He thought for a moment, then said, “Give them the money and see if they leave us alone.”
“Ok.” Iron Cliff understood Su Chen’s intentions and went to carry out his orders.
A moment later, the coarse yelling resumed.
Through a crack in the curtains, Su Chen watched as a bandit waved his blade and yelled, “Damn, you want to pay me off with such a paltry amount? Give me everything you have!”
Iron Cliff replied stiffly, “What if I don’t give it to you?”
“Then die!” the bandit yelled.
Iron Cliff shook his head. “I won’t give you money even if you kill me.”
The bandit sized up Iron Cliff’s massive stature.
In the beginning, when he saw Iron Cliff, his heart began to pound; after all, Iron Cliff was truly enormous. However, when he considered that they had the numbers advantage and some of them were even in the Body Tempering stage, he had mustered up his courage and ordered his group to advance.
After seeing Iron Cliff hand over some money, his courage had been greatly bolstered. It seemed to him that his opponent was all brawn and no courage.
To survive on the streets, courage was the most important thing; merely having strength wasn’t enough.
The more he thought about it, the less he feared Iron Cliff.
Upon hearing Iron Cliff refuse to give him money, his ugly side manifested itself. He thought to himself that if the other party was so willing to hand over some money initially, they definitely had more treasures to give. However, this big lunk was still a big lunk, and he would probably go all out if his back was pushed to the wall. Thus, it was better for him to quickly make a move and finish him off, then deal with the old man and the people inside the carriage. That would make things much easier.
This was why, after a moment’s thought, he made a decision and said darkly, “Then you can go die!”
The blade pierced towards Iron Cliff’s chest.
As the blade stabbed forwards, He Xiaochan shrieked in fear, yet there was also the metallic “clang” of two pieces of metal colliding.
Sparks were sent flying. The poor-quality blade had snapped in two, half of it falling to the ground as it glinted in the sunlight.
Everyone was stunned.
How had the blade broken?
The ten or so bandits were stunned, as was Old He.
Iron Cliff didn’t even spare them a glance. He turned around and said, “Master, this blade strike was aimed at my heart with the intention to kill.”
“Then you know what to do,” Su Chen’s calm, unruffled voice floated out from the carriage.
“Yes, Master.” Iron Cliff turned around and chuckled darkly at the bandits, then cracked his neck and said, “Alright, now it’s my turn.”