“Youre making it worse. Shaman Monarch, my foot. Youre still as naughty as ever.”
I was waiting for Young Shiyi to continue when she coughed hard enough to frown. “Whats wrong” I grabbed Young Shiyis wrist to find she had an internal injury as I suspected.
Young Shiyi lowered her head when she realised I wasnt going to let her run off. “Feizhen… I…”
“Dont speak. Ill heal you now.” I transferred true qi from my palm to hers in order to recalibrate her breathing. I then withdrew a cold qi from her and transferred it into the earth. I waited for her to reset with a few breaths, then asked, “Someone from Shaman Monarch Palace hurt you”
“It was a woman I fought off while defending the formation. Shes very strong.”
“… Rest here. Ill be right back.”
Young Shiyi caught my sleeve as I walked away. “Dont go. Im fine. You havent seen me in days. Where are you off to when Im right here I dont want you to go.”
Young Shiyi only needed to say, “I dont want you to go” for me to cancel my plan. Although I couldnt find any other issues on her, I still felt that some therapy was in order for me. “… Was it someone from Sky Palace”
“One of the Three Stone Pillars. Shes called Shadow Lady or something. I cant measure her full capacity. Although youre stronger than her, none of us wouldve stood a chance if you werent around.”
“Sky Palaces Three Stone Pillars…”
I immediately assumed it was the armour-clad woman I saw because I instantly discerned she was tough without needing to trade blows. I didnt want to fight her and the python at the same time, which was why I walked off. Had I known she hurt Young Shiyi, I wouldve made her fight. It was never too early to settle my scores with Sky Palace.
“What are you two doing here”
I looked up the route leading to the peak. “Boss Why did you come down Did something happen”
“No, your subordinates did perfect; everyone is happy with the arrangements. I started to worry since you two didnt come up, so I came down to check.”
“Whats there to worry about Theres nobody left who can match us.”
“Oh really” Young Shiyi reminded, “And who was about to go throw hands with Sky Palaces elite”
I didnt expect a knife in my back, and Boss narrowed her eyes, so I switched the topic as fast as I could. “Ehehe, you been well, Boss”
“Not exactly well, but not exactly bad. How about you”
“Besides being bored in my role as a depressed character, Im fine.” I think Boss already saw through my act on the day she bid farewell.
“Lets get moving, then. Theyre waiting for us.”
Boss and Young Shiyi didnt make a deal out of the hundreds of eyes watching us leave because they didnt sense any hostility from them.
“Theyre my brothers whove travelled with me everywhere for the last few months. They can be trusted.” Smiling, I stepped forward and spread my arms. “Its been an amazing few months with everyone. Unfortunately, I am not your Shaman Monarch. Please forgive me for deceiving you.”
Instead of being met with glares and daggers, I came eye to eye with confusion. Like Iron Guardian told me, they truly were as innocent as blank sheets of paper.
“We want to follow you.” Once one started, more and more followers who could speak Mandarin cried, “Your Majesty, please allow us to follow you.” In no time at all, those who couldnt speak Mandarin voiced the same sentiment in Xiacang Anxi - I could understand from their visages without an interpreter.
A tearful child cried, “Your Majesty, the first time we saw meaning to our lives was when we helped villages with you. In the past, we did not know how to distinguish between good and bad. You are the one who opened our eyes. Great Spirit Shaman is a fraud. Shaman Monarch Palace is a fraud. The Shaman Monarch we have worshipped is fake, as well. Only you are real. We are cognisant of our ignorance. Even though people dislike us, you never turned your back on us. You did not mind sharing our meals and beds. We are children without homes to return to. If even you abandon us, we truly do not know what to do. Your Majesty, please allow us to follow you.”
I could almost hear thousands of nerves bundling up.
“If you dont understand what I say next, ask someone nearby who does. I wont repeat myself. First, stop addressing me asYour Majesty. Im notYour Majesty - never was. I appreciate you holding me in such high esteem as well as not considering me a shameless liar, though I really am.
“You are not ignorant children. Youre all amazing. You helped villages rebuild, hunt, farm in addition to driving off dangerous animals and bandits. Youre heroes of those villages. Nobody can tell you otherwise.”
As soon as one kid started crying, all the others followed suit.
“I cant be yourYour Majesty. That said, I can be your elder brother. If you dont have anywhere to return to, I have a suggestion, although its somewhat far.”
“We will go wherever you go as long as we can follow you!”
“Sounds good. Boss, I reckon Liu Shan Men has done enough. Dont you think its time to switch plans Quality over quantity. Dont you think the time is ripe to begin expansion”
While Liu Shan Mens membership in the capital was acceptable, it was moons away from comparing to its former glory. There was no way Liu Shan Men could recruit a big number of helpers in a short time frame. Else, Boss wouldnt have had trouble expanding in the capital in the first place.
I pointed to the mountain. “There are one thousand and five hundred people willing to offer their services, all of whom are commendable youths who can accept challenges. I recommend them to you.”
Able to fill in the blanks, Boss gave the innocent children a smile. “They will have to earn their keep. After all, its not cheap to feed so many people.”
“Indeed. We will be credited with the biggest contribution in this campaign.”
“I have to credit another merit to your name now, huh”
“Kids, wheres yourthank you, Big Sis From now on, you can come back to the Central Plain to work as Liu Shan Mens constables with me!”
“Thank you, Big Sis!”
We expected growth, but we never expected those 1500-plus youths to become the foundation of Liu Shan Mens pivotal return that night.-