Book 4: Near Blood
Chapter 1: Mountain Overlook City
Mountain Overlook City.
This place was located at the intersection of Crow Region and Wolf Smoke Region. North of here was the no-man’s land, the Lonely Swan Ramparts..
The Lonely Swan Ramparts was a vast territory, but virtually no one lived there.
The place was extremely desertified. Vegetation had a hard time growing here, resources were scarce, and traveling through the region was very difficult. As such, it was not an environment in which humans could thrive.
The Sand Race were one of few Intelligent Races that could survive in this kind of place.
The Sand Race required very few resources. They could survive off of just a bit of water. Even in the most barren environments, they could survive, and their tenacity for survival was astounding.
In the 1200th year of Long Sang Country, Long Sang Country invaded the Sand Race and forced a peace treaty with the leader of the Sand Race. The Sand Race would acquiesce to the human race, and in exchange they would leave the Sand Race a refuge for survival.
That place was the Lonely Swan Ramparts.
About eight hundred years ago, a massive earthquake suddenly occurred in the Lonely Swan Ramparts.
After the earthquake, the Lonely Swan Ramparts’s geographical makeup changed massively. A large mountain range appeared from the ground, and a few underground rivers burst forth, creating an oasis within the Lonely Swan Ramparts just like that.
This was the Ascending to the Clouds Mountain, the Rising Spring River, and the Abyss Oasis.
Mountain Overlook City was originally started as a small rest station for humans, used to provide people traveling through the Lonely Swan Ramparts region with food and water. After the Abyss Oasis appeared, because of the unique geography of this location, a few special medicinal ingredients had appeared. Every year, the number of people willing to brave the dangers grew, and Mountain Overlook Station turned into Mountain Overlook Township before becoming Mountain Overlook City.
Because the city was so young, it had a unique kind of lively atmosphere surrounding it.
The streets were lined with peddlers hawking their wares, including a few tall, brawny Sand Race individuals.
The Sand Race appeared similar to humans, but their skin was extremely coarse and relatively dark in tone. The biggest difference between them and the human race was that they had two small whiskers in the back of their heads. These small whiskers were their sixth sense, allowing them to sense earth-type Origin Energy and utilize it. As such, the Sand Race were inherently talented in controlling the earth. They didn’t need any wind to conjure up frighteningly powerful sandstorms, and they could create sand soldiers, sand shields, etc.
The Sand Race were naturally violent and belligerent. Having grown up in harsh circumstances, where resources were very hard to come by, they were taught to not be afraid of killing and forcefully seizing those precious resources.
The Sand Race had been one of the biggest sources of headache for the human race.
Even now, their interactions with the Sand Race were conducted very gingerly.
“How much are you selling this for?”
Shi Mingfeng and Su Chen walked side by side down the streets of Mountain Overlook City. Night Demon, Iron Cliff, and a few experts from the Immortal Temple followed closely behind.
Because they were near Lonely Swan Ramparts, many of the shops were selling items that Su Chen had never seen before. This piqued Su Chen’s interest.
Su Chen walked over to one of the street vendors and pointed at a purple stained glass bead, asking about the price.
This kind of stained glass bead had no effect. It was just rare because it was a unique product of the Lonely Swan Ramparts and was quite pretty. It had caught Su Chen’s eye, and he was planning on buying a strand of them for Gu Qingluo.
“A low-grade Origin Stone for a single bead,” the Sand Race individual replied.
A single Origin Stone for a useless bead? Su Chen was badly startled.
He shook his head and refused, but unexpectedly the Sand Race individual became infuriated and began to curse at him.
Su Chen frowned and was about to say something when Shi Mingfeng said beside him, “If you don’t want to buy what they are selling, don’t ask what price they are selling it for. Otherwise, you’ll be cursed at, threatened, or even physically assaulted.”
“That overbearing?” Su Chen was shocked.
“That’s exactly how overbearing they are. If you don’t want to stir up trouble, you should at least by one,” Shi Mingfeng said.
“What would I do with a single bead?” Su Chen asked.
Shi Mingfeng shrugged. “Lose a bit of money to ward off a disaster. You don’t want to start a fight given that we’ve just gotten here, right? You don’t really care about a single Origin Stone anyways.”
“But I don’t like the feeling of being extorted.” Su Chen tossed over a single Origin Stone, retrieved a single purple glass bead, then left.
After buying the item, everyone continued forward as they analyzed the situation within the city.
Shi Mingfeng said, “Even though Mountain Overlook City is a a human city, a number of Sand Race individuals have infiltrated in recent years. There are now some shops, betting grounds, inns, and camel stations run by Sand Race individuals. It’s especially difficult to stick your hands into the camel station business. Anyone who tries to sell camel-like beasts here will be attacked by the Sand Race.”
These camel stations were places where camel-like beasts were put on sale.
Not many camel beasts could pass through the Abyss Island. The most exceptional ones were the Camel Wolf, Sand Rhinoceros, and the Large-Crowned Flying Serpent. Camel Wolfs were good at taking people. They were very comfortable to ride, and the Sand Race calvary sometimes used them as mounts. Sand Rhinoceri were extremely patient, but also extremely slow, making them good for carrying cargo. The Large-Crowned Flying Serpent could bring people through the Abyss Island very easily because of its flying abilities, but it was much more expensive, and its strength was relatively low.
“The Sand Race individuals in the Island Abyss are also bandits?” Su Chen laughed.
“Of course,” one of Shi Mingfeng’s subordinates said. “The Sand Race is one of the most vicious and conscience-less races, and even the Ferocious Race acquiesces to them. Once you’re in Lonely Swan Ramparts, if you aren’t under their protection, you could be robbed at any time.”
“But this is a place that belongs to us humans. Why do we allow the Sand Race to act so recklessly?” Su Chen asked.
The underling laughed coldly, “It’s because of that damn agreement. When the Ferocious Race was pressuring our borders, the emperor helplessly signed that agreement with the Sand Race in order to mobilize more troops against the Ferocious Race. He agreed to a pact of nonaggression, and the Island Abyss would be controlled by the Sand Race. Now we have the issue of the rise of a kingdom within another kingdom. These Sand Race guys rely on this excuse of autonomy to do as they please in an overbearing manner on territory belonging to us humans. They’re just a weak race, but they rely on that generous policy to run amok and pretend like they’re strong. They’re a bunch of outlaws, hooligans, scoundrels!”
Su Chen found it amusing that a terrorist would curse someone else out for being an outlaw and a hooligan.
“That’s right, that’s right! Especially the leader Pall! He is a perpetrator of all kinds of crimes, enough to fill the heavens and would fill every book on earth if you wrote them down,” Night Demon added on.
Su Chen said, “You’ve been sitting on that sentence for a while, haven’t you?”
Night Demon said in surprise, “How did you know?”
Su Chen replied, “You put three idioms into a single sentence. That’s not your style at all.”
Night Demon kicked him hard. “Weren’t you the one who insisted on us proving that that leader was evil before you were willing to come?”
One of Su Chen’s requests of the Immortal Temple before he agreed to their plans was that their target needed to be worthy of being dealt with.
This era’s system of values was very simple and crude.
Humans decided right and wrong not according to legal standards but according to their own subjective morality.
As long as you were strong enough, anything you did was an act of the law.
To most people, the criterion for whether they should deal with a person wasn’t whether or not they had the right to do so but whether or not they felt like that person deserved to die.
That judgment of being deserving of death was naturally defined by themselves and based on publicly accepted ceremonial etiquette.
Even Su Chen couldn’t overlook that custom, and he didn’t want to overlook that custom – doing things without restriction meant that you were a person without a bottom line, but having too many restrictions meant that you wouldn’t be able to live a happy human life.
As such, he laughed, “I know, but you don’t need to need to emphasize that to me. The easiest way to tell if someone is good or bad is to experience it for yourself.”
“How will you experience it?”
Su Chen glanced around. He spotted a maiden not far away leading around a large wildebeest. However, everyone around her took one look and hurriedly left in the opposite direction. No one wanted to buy it. The maiden’s expression was extremely ugly because she was having trouble selling the wildebeest.
Wildebeest were mounts with quite a bit of endurance and patience. They were quick but could also carry a decent amount of cargo. Their practical usage was higher than a Camel Wolf.
The only reason that they weren’t in fashion in Mountain Overlook City had only one reason: Island Abyss didn’t produce any wildebeest.
As such, the Sand Race didn’t welcome these animals becoming the main mode of transportation in Island Abyss.
Su Chen walked over and saw that the maiden was selling it for ten Origin Stones.
It was actually a bit cheaper than a Camel Wolf.
He said, “I’ll buy that wildebeest.”
“What are you doing?” Shi Mingfeng reached out to stop him.
“Didn’t you say that if you didn’t ride their camel beasts, you would be attacked?” Su Chen replied. “I want to try it out for myself.”