Book 2: Chapter 1 – Bloodshed Tavern and Dragon Mountain Mansion
Under a pavilion, along the corridor within the castle.
Both Xue Ying and Lord Si An settled down facing each other. Servants constantly served snacks and hot tea. Zong Ling, Tong San, You Tu and others waited just outside the corridor.
Savouring the hot tea in his hands, Lord Si An gazed at the snowy blizzard that raged outside.
“My Lord, you live in such a wonderful place. Unlike the city, which is plagued with noisy crowds who can be heard even in the wee hours of the night, your place is both tranquil and without restrictions.” Lord Si An chuckled, “After I retire, I will look for such a peaceful place to relax in.”
Xue Ying smiled, “There are many who desire your high status that would normally be out their reach.”
“High status? I am just a person in charge of a Dragon Mountain Mansion in a small town, yet you are speaking of high status.” Lord Si An replied before presenting a small stack of gold, “Here is eight hundred gold! Although the bounty for Ge Bin is not much, I still want you to have it.”
Xue Ying took it from him.
Prisoners of the Empire… Generally gold bounties would be reserved for star ranked criminals or for those who had committed heinous crimes. Average bandits were not eligible for such handsome rewards.
“This is the Black Iron Order.” Si An presented yet another item, a black token, with the two words ‘Dragon Mountain’ carved on it , “Every citizen who has the strength of a Meteor Knight will receive this token.”
“Strength of a Meteor Knight? Black Iron Order?” Xue Ying appeared to be preoccupied by his thoughts.
“There are two types of tokens.”
Si An continued, “There is the Black Iron Order, and the Bronze Order! Those who have the strength of a Meteor Knight can obtain the Iron Order, while only those who possess the remarkable strength can obtain the Bronze Order… Those of higher strength would be a Transcendent Knight! Transcendents make up the entirety of our Xia Clan’s and the Empire’s strength. But of course, Transcendents live in an entirely different world, it’s useless to talk of them now.”
“Take this Black Iron Order, it belongs solely to you, and it can be used for many purposes.” Si An placed the token before Xue Ying.
Xue Ying took a closer look. Other than the words ‘Dragon Mountain’, there were complex lined designs that seemed to naturally cross and combine with expert coordination. It was a beautiful sight.
Si An waved his hand, and a small stack of papers were brought forth: “This is the Dragon Mountain Mansion’s Imperial Report’, it records the general events in the Empire, and provides detailed information about happenings in the Azure River County. For example, you killed a Silver Moon Wolf King and single handedly annihilated the entire Bent Blade Union. Your deeds will be recorded in the next report, and all those strong individuals who are in possession of this report will be able to see what you have done.
“Oh?” Xue Ying flipped through the report he received.
The report had over ten pages, the first page detailed the important incidents that occurred outside the Azure River County. The rest recorded all the events that passed within.
“Dragon Mountain Calendar, Year 9623, November 19th, Azure River County. The fifth division entered the Mountain Range of Desolation. On the third day, they encountered a rank 6 magical beast, ‘Darkness Demon Bear’ which awakened from its deep slumber. Two thousand soldiers perished from this destructive foe……”
“Dragon Mountain Calendar, Year 9623, November 10th, Azure River County. A Transcendent Level Knight appeared in Serene Sky City. He appeared to as a bare footed old man with white hair who was deranged and in tattered clothing……”
“November 5th, the marriage between Si family and Zhang family……”
The ‘Imperial Report’ recorded all the important events and messages of all the districts in Azure River County. It even contained urgent official information, and included the dates of each event.
As for the anecdotes from the districts, the documentation was less restrictive.
Xue Ying was awed by the report, realizing that there were many things happening within the thousand miles of the Azure River County.
“Lord Si An, there is actually a Transcendent in Serene Sky City?” Xue Ying asked curiously.
“And he disappeared without a trace after that.” Lord Si An mused, “Those Transcendents are of extremely high status. The things they wish for and desire are different from the rest of us. For them, travelling throughout the world is a normal thing. It is recorded in the report to notify all the clans, so that they do not accidentally offend a Transcendent! Disaster will surely follow if one is offended! An entire tribe might cease to exist!”
Xue Ying nodded.
Street beggars were always randomly bullied, but according to this notice, any beggar could turn out to be a Transcendent Knight! Who would not be cautious?
“The existence of a Transcendent is extremely rare; within the entire Empire’s nineteen provinces, there are just a few of them. Take a look at our Azure River County, while our county is quite big, it has yet to produce a single Transcendent!” Lord Si An shook his head in woe, “The ‘Imperial Report’ is published every month and you should read it when you have to time in order to gain an understanding of the current events within the Empire, be they big or small. In this edition, the report also serves as a warning to be mindful of individuals that should not be offended.”
“The newspaper is just for pleasure.”
“The following items I am going to give you are gradually getting more important.”
“The second most important items are these two books!” Lord Si An’s expression turned stern as he swiftly presented two sealed books, one canvassed in black with the two words ‘Dragon Mountain’ on the cover. The other had a red cover and a drawing of a dagger dripping with crimson blood imprinted on it.
“These books are?” Xue Ying inquired curiously as he stared at them.
“This one is the Dragon Mountain Book, and is recorded by our very own Dragon Mountain Mansion. While the other is the Bloodshed Book, written by the Bloodshed Tavern.” Lord Si An replied.
Xue Ying retrieved the two thick books.
Xue Ying flipped open the black Dragon Mountain Book, within it was a long list of names in descending order based on rankings, with a brief introduction of each person next to their name.
“The Bloodshed Book is a book of murderers!” Lord Si An’s words made Xue Ying gasp in surprise.
“Book of murderers?” Xue Ying glanced at the scarlet book at his side.
“Yes, the history of the Bloodshed Tavern is shrouded with mystery, so much so that the Dragon Mountain Mansion dares not to provoke them! Every city throughout the Empire, contains at least one Bloodshed Tavern.” Lord Si An continued, “According to their number of kills, the Bloodshed Tavern was able to fill this book with the nicknames of many killers! After all, killers usually like to maintain their anonymity.”
“The other Dragon Mountain Book is more authoritative and is viewed as a matter of great importance to all the powers within the Empire.” A proud expression was plastered on Lord Si An’s face, “The Dragon Mountain Book is our very own recording of the top three thousand Bronze Order powers throughout the entirety of the Empire’s nineteen provinces.” Lord Si An continued, “From first to the three thousandth, every power has been ranked through severe and careful consideration in accordance to their fighting strength and further detailed evaluation aspects.”
“The entire Empire’s three thousand strongest powers?” Xue Ying’s eyes gleamed with interest.
Only those with recognised fighting strength were eligible to obtain the Bronze Order! Here was a document containing the top three thousand powers.
“Due to the scarce number of Transcendents in the Empire, there is no record of their rankings.” Lord Si An explained, “Those a step away from the Transcendent rank are proclaimed to be supreme, and many are impressive enough to be compared to actual Transcendents. In the entire Empire, there are countless individuals who possess such strength.”
“The entire Azure River County has a total of twelve Bronze Order powers. And only five are recorded within the Dragon Mountain Book.” Lord Si An elaborated.
Xue Ying nodded slightly in response, the Dragon Mountain Book had a limitation of three thousand positions, and not every Bronze Order holder can be included.”
“These five powers.”
“Ranked fifth, is Chang Qing Ze with an overall rank of 2895.”
“Ranked fourth, is Zhang Yong with an overall rank of 2822.”
“Ranked third, is Dan Chen with an overall rank of 1259.”
“Ranked second, is Si Liang Hong with an overall rank of 569.”
“Ranked first, is Xiang Pan Yun with an overall rank of 525.”
Lord Si An recited the detailed rankings of the five personnel with ease.