It was unlikely anyone would think Baimus lands used to be poverty stricken when every inch of Baimus large royal palace glimmered with their wealth. Their first ruler built his splendid palace in the southeast so that itd be directly opposing Nieyaos Shiri Palace - a symbol of his ambition and determination to unite Nanjiang under his rule.
Beussent was no more, but their lavish style had been passed down in every generation. As a result, every generations ruler added and renovated the palace until it almost rivalled Nanjings imperial palace.
Unlike the Central Plains complicated officials system, Nanjiangs was simply separated into twelve ranks, which they indicated with daggers. The lowest rank officials carried earth deer daggers. The golden zither daggers were reserved for the only three highest-ranking officials that each state was permitted to have.
The three in the conference hall, with golden zither daggers hanging from their belts, held the highest authority in Baimu after the royal family, yet not one of them dared to breathe hard today. Even though their King sitting in the centre of the room was a flower boy and his wife was flirtatiously feeding him grapes, the three had been in their presence enough times to feel comfortable.
A snarky man and his merrily-drinking comrade sitting in the corner didnt utter a word, but their muscles did the intimidation job perfectly.
“This old one,” the old official wiped his sweat, “has nothing else to report. The squad sent to subjugate Heisina Tribe has not returned. From what he has heard, they were wiped out in an ambush. This old one suggests we send scouts out to find out more about the enemy forces before making any further decisions. We can then send out more troops and reduce our losses.”
Another official reported, “The personnel sent to find Heisina Duohua in the Central Plain has not returned, either, when they should have arrived here days ago. That dissident values family over everything. If we can get our hands on his sister, we may be able to quell this crisis without a fight.”
“End it without a fight” The smirking man with his arms folded didnt shout, yet his voice managed to wind the elder.
“May this one ask… what you think, Guya Baimu”
The unwelcome stench of blood on the armour of the man named after the state bombed their noses when he strode into the hall. It wasnt hard to convince people that his hobby was killing people, eating raw meat and drinking blood when he carried a bone broadsword larger than an average human on his back and had beasts fangs extending from his shoulder armour. Though he had the appearance of one in his thirties, everyone who recognised his name was privy to the fact that he had been famous on the battlefield for over thirty years, at the very least.
“Since when did we become cowards like the Central Plain barbarians Value family Win without fighting Stop crapping out of your mouth. All traitors must have their hearts gouged out and left in front of the palace for people to spit on - no buts.” Baimu turned around. “Your Majesty, please withdraw your troops. I am more than enough to demolish a group of stray dogs.”
The three senior officials didnt dare to open their mouths despite Baimus request sounding no different to a demand.
Notwithstanding people having different standards of what constituted the best warriors of the Central Plains imperial court, they always came back to Supreme Ten Saints and The Ultimate Three as being their best thirteen. In Nanjiang, on the other hand, they had a different take.
The Central Plain introduced the concept of “martial artists” to Nanjiang thirty years ago, when the Central Plains martial artists migrated post-conquest of Nanjiangs fiefs. Still, “martial artists” was a term Nanjiang denoted chiefly to the Central Plains people for the reason that Xiacang people didnt have a concept of “martial arts”.
Xiacang people had to display guts and grit if they were to survive in the same environment as beasts. For them, fighting wasnt about technique; it was about survival. Gender didnt grant them any special privileges, so they were always fighting. Those who could triumph over everyone else were called guya - meaning “guardian”.
Guyas didnt have a citizenship, profession, income or official position. They didnt need to pay for commodities. Instead, theyd be treated to the best stuff any tribe had. They could travel anywhere they pleased without a license. They could live a worry-free life off their name alone. In exchange, they had to overcome extremely challenging tests and were obligated to defend a state with their lives.
Guyas were graded based on the size of the land they had to defend. Those who defended lands as expansive as a countrys were called monsters. The twelve great guyas, collectively known as Twelve Sacred Beasts, who defended their states were conferred the same name as the state they protected.
The leader of the senior officials expressed, “Th-this old one is not questioning your abilities, b-but he is a shrewd man. You may fall for his ploy if you march in alone.”
“Why dont you just be more direct” Baimu glanced over to the man adjacent to him. “Just say… youre afraid Ill lose to the disciple of my over-the-hill elder brother. Isnt it better for Baimu to be less a guya”
The charming concubine suddenly chimed in. “Im also curious what someone who has been missing for so many years has to say.”
The drinking elder feigned deaf. Like he was the true King presiding over the hall, he stated, “Heisina is insignificant.”
The elder, who resembled every second elder on the streets, didnt sound as old as his appearance suggested. He spoke with a dash of his hometown accent instead of standard Xiacang Anxi pronunciation. There was barely anyone left who recognised Beussents vocabulary and accent.
“Whats important is Nieyao.” His body may have been old, but age didnt put a dent in his reputation, wealth and everything else. All the materialistic stuff in the world couldnt sway the elder who had seen more than any of them had.
The King knew the legendary elders story better than any other. The elder was the only man to be one of Nanjiangs Twelve Sacred Beasts and one of Supreme Ten Saints at the same time. At one point, he was the guya of all eleven states simultaneously. He was once Xiacang Anxis pride. Actually, “once” is an erroneous adjective for his paintings and statues were still being sold; Nanjiangs warriors still travelled to his old training spot all the time. Alas, his departure from his leadership post left the eleven states warriors in disarray, resulting in people harbouring different opinions of him.
The young King merely gave the elder in linen clothing a smile, yet that smile showed more respect than an essay could. The King looked to the elders right arm, rather, where his right arm shouldve been. “I am not asking about Heisina. I merely want to know… what… you are here for, Martial Paragon, Feng Xue.”
“I thought you died deep in the woods, coward.” Baimu didnt have a speck of respect to give his elder brother.
The elder lifted up the corners of his lips: “This old one is happy to know you still remember him.”
“You have not answered my question,” the King responded.
“There is a wicked beast nestled in Nieyao.” The elder disregarded everyone but the King. “Your Majesty, Heisina is innocent. You should clear their name.”
The rumour of a wicked beast occupying Nieyao had been circulating for a long time. Howbeit, they brushed it off as a baseless claim since Heisina Tribe was already convicted with plotting the citys downfall. Why do something unnecessary When Morcher perished overnight, nonetheless, the rumour surfaced once again with more credibility.
The King had heard the rumour; however, hearing it straight from Martial Paragon couldnt be compared to hearing it from commoners.
“… I thought you returned to the land you left for your disciples sake, but youve come back to tell me how insane you are Baimu, kill him!”-