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The Dragon

The Dragon By Nov 27, 2023 4 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Even though Bailu City is situated in Nanzhou, its climate and scenery resemble those of the North; the expansive sky and dry winds create an environment where lush greenery is scarce. Instead, the landscape is stark, characterized by cold shades of black and white, vibrant reds, and barren yellows.

In Bailu City, there are no commoners, only slaves and their masters. The slaves are managed by various slave owners and specially trained officers, contributing to the city’s oppressive and lifeless atmosphere.

As the group approached the city gates, Zuo Shaode’s cultivators sent a message to open the defensive formation. Gu Fuyou gazed at the dark walls, noticing Xiao Zhongting on the tower, who subtly acknowledged her with a nod.

Bailu City had already been informed of Qingluan’s impending visit. Zuo Yuezhi’s directive was clear: “Treat her well.” Consequently, a man named Zuo Yi, a favored relative from a side branch of the Zuo family, greets them with a wide smile, saying, “The City Lord has been eagerly awaiting your arrival. Please, enter the city.”

Zuo Yi, a tall and thin man, speaks with a humble bow and whisper. In Bailu, all slave owners are from the Zuo family, whether direct descendants or relatives. Their status is determined by the number and quality of slaves they manage, with the best slaves naturally held by the city lord.

Just as they entered the city, they saw a man near the city gate, shirtless, his back covered in whip marks, skin torn and bleeding , desperately kowtowing to another. With a lowly tone, he repeatedly pleaded, “Please, spare her.”

Opposite him stood a man, arms crossed, clad in soft armor. He had a gold whip at his left waist and a steel rod at his right – both not mere weapons, but refined magical artifacts. This attire was the same as that of the man they had seen in the maple forest, which, according to the cultivator sent by Zuo Shaode, marked him as one of Bailu City’s training officers.

Seeing Gu Fuyou and her group looking that way, Zuo Yi immediately scolded the training officer near the city gate: “Get down from there, what a disgrace, you’re offending the honored guest!”

The trainer’s cold command follows, “Get down!” But the visibly trembling man stays put, desperately bargaining, “Please, spare her. Take my life instead…”

Gu Fuyou speculated that this might be the man who had a secret affair with the woman in the maple forest. She observed him. Despite the blood on his face, his handsome features were apparent – sharp eyebrows, bright eyes, a broad back, and a narrow waist, exuding a sense of powerful beauty, like a tiger ready to pounce.

Yet, this formidable man is reduced to tears, his face a mix of blood, tears, and dust. Gu Fuyou, having never seen a man cry so, is unsure how to feel, thinking only that he appears utterly broken.

However, it was Scholar Zhai’s remark that made things clearer: “He cries like a three-year-old child.” His sorrow was profound, like a child lost on the way home, utterly alone and helpless, overwhelmed as if the sky was crashing down and the earth splitting beneath him.

The man kept repeating, “Please, take my life.”

Gu Fuyou grew weary of watching. This slave, stripped of all dignity, at the mercy of others, accepting whatever comes his way. Begging? Even if he broke his head kowtowing, who would show him mercy?

Humanity has been ground down to the point where they willingly accept enslavement.

Gu Fuyou frowned and moved forward, intending to leave. However, at that moment, the training officer, perhaps growing impatient, said, “Seven, that woman is already dead. If it weren’t for your talent, which spared you from the City Lord’s wrath, you would have been taken to Sancong Forest for a thousand cuts. Don’t be ungrateful.”

Upon hearing of the woman’s death, the man froze momentarily and then suddenly erupted in fury. His immense spiritual power surged like a giant wave reaching for the heavens. Caught off guard and intimidated, the training officer dodged aside, accidentally bumping into Gu Fuyou.

With a light step, Gu Fuyou moved aside, her eyes fixed on the man, noticing something remarkable in him. He was an early-stage Hallow Void cultivator! In Bailu City, slaves were named numerically, starting with one. The number wasn’t fixed but depended on their cultivation and capabilities—the stronger they were, the lower their number. This man, ranked seventh, had previously seemed so meek and submissive; it was surprising to discover his true cultivation level.

The man’s sudden counterattack was unexpected and a pleasant surprise for her.

Unfortunately, before Seven could land his strike, a stern voice commanded, “How dare you, kneel down!”

Instantly, Seven’s spiritual power dissipated, and he fell to his knees. Gu Fuyou looked toward the source of the voice and saw a person in dark brocade approaching. She didn’t need to guess as Zuo Yi greeted him with a bow, “City Lord.”

Zuo Yuanrong. Gu Fuyou was struck by his appearance; cultivators rarely had his portly figure. The Zuo family was notorious for its misdeeds, but they were known for their strong bloodline; all were talented and attractive, with clear and handsome features.

They often carried themselves with an air of arrogance due to their unchecked behavior. Zuo Yuanrong was an unusual sight in this context, which explained why Zuo Shaode had called him cowardly. His name seemed quite fitting for him.

Zuo Yuanrong looked over Gu Fuyou with a smile, his eyes shining with interest. He had arrived, informed in advance about her visit. Anticipation had been building since he’d heard about Qingluan’s famed beauty, his subordinate having described her as nothing short of celestial. Eager to see her for himself, he was pleased to find she lived up to the praise.

He approached Gu Fuyou, stopping a mere arm’s length away, and greeted her with a bow, “The Sect Leader instructed me to treat you well when you come to Bailu City to select slaves. I’ve been looking forward to your visit, and you’ve made me wait.”

His tone was as if he was very close to Qingluan. Gu Fuyou smiled and said, “I was delayed on the road, thank you for your patience, City Lord.”

“Not at all, not at all,” he replied.

Zuo Yuanrong glanced at Seven and ordered, “Get down.”

Gu Fuyou noticed Seven shaking even more violently, realizing that his contract was with Zuo Yuanrong. Like a dog with its tail between its legs before its master, Seven was a pathetic sight—his eyes red, his gaze hollow, yet with a faint hint of a wolf’s ferocity. Ultimately, he couldn’t resist the power of the contract and staggered to his feet, following the training officer away.

Gu Fuyou discreetly watched Seven leave, her interest in him growing.

Zuo Yuanrong then personally led the way, enthusiastically pointing out various aspects of Bailu City to Gu Fuyou. There were more fighting arenas than houses, with slaves battling in almost every one.

Although Gu Fuyou’s face bore a smile, it was devoid of warmth. The place reeked of corruption and foulness.

Feigning curiosity, Gu Fuyou asked Zuo Yuanrong, “City Lord, there’s something I don’t understand.”

Zuo Yuanrong was eager to explain, “Please ask, elder.”

“Slaves are loyal to their masters and can’t harm or disobey them, but these training officers aren’t bound by contracts with them. Some slaves, highly talented and possibly stronger in cultivation than the training officers, might hold grudges and lash out. Yet, I observe these slaves are very obedient and submissive; even under whipping, they show no resistance or attempt to dodge. Why is that?”

Zuo Yuanrong appeared quite pleased with himself as he shook his head and asked, “Has the elder ever heard how ancient hunters tamed beasts?”

“I’m eager to hear more.”

Zuo Yuanrong, with his left hand behind his back and pointing with his right, explained, “Ancient hunters would capture young long-haired elephants and chain them to stone pillars with thin chains. The young elephants, still weak, couldn’t break free no matter how hard they struggled. Gradually, they got used to not struggling. When they grew into adults, even though they could easily break the chains, they no longer tried. That’s the principle behind it.”

“Some slaves have been here since they were young, and they’re the easiest to control. Others, who become slaves as adults, are set in their ways and resist initially. But over time, their nature is slowly erased, turning them into perfect slaves.”

Gu Fuyou’s smile froze. She thought to herself, if she had stayed longer in Lihen Tian, would she have also developed a slave mentality, stopped resisting, and accepted her fate?

She felt a cold sweat on her back and a surge of indescribable anger inside her. She didn’t notice Zuo Yuanrong receiving a brocade box from a subordinate until he opened it and offered it to her, saying with a fawning smile, “Elder, these are some trinkets I’ve collected. I hope you will find them amusing and not be offended by my humble gift.”

Gu Fuyou took out the item, wrapped in brocade – a transparent, spherical crystal shining under the sunlight. It sparkled like a starry sky. This crystal, too large for one hand to hold, must be worth a fortune, she thought – at least a million spirit stones. She was impressed by his generosity.

With a firm grip, Gu Fuyou sliced the crystal silently with a wind blade, then casually scattered six fragments from her hand, reshaping the crystal into a cube. She smiled at Zuo Yuanrong, “Thank you for your kindness, City Lord, but I prefer things with edges and corners.”

Zuo Yuanrong was momentarily stunned, then burst into laughter, “The elder transcends the mundane; I am but a commoner in comparison.”

Gu Fuyou’s smile was forced as she continued to engage in superficial pleasantries with him. Looking at the square crystal in her hand, her thoughts returned to the man they called Seven at the city gate.

A wolf, even with its teeth pulled and claws filed, remains a wolf and can never become a domesticated dog.

Zuo Yuanrong led Gu Fuyou and her companions back to the City Lord’s mansion, a grand and solemn place with tall and spacious buildings. Unlike the guest hall in Wantong City, Bailu City’s guest hall had a long corridor outside, its walls embedded with night pearls and the floor covered with red velvet carpet.

Two people stood outside the entrance of the guest hall. Upon seeing one of them, Zuo Yuanrong’s face changed. He strode over and slapped the person to the ground, shouting, “Are you courting death? Who allowed you to stand guard here?”

Gu Fuyou was puzzled by his sudden outburst. Zuo Yuanrong instructed another guard at the door, “Drag her away and give her a hundred lashes!”

The person lifted her head, stuttering, “I was just replacing…”

As her eyes met Gu Fuyou’s, her face turned ashen with visible fear.

Zuo Yuanrong apologized, “Elder, if this displeased you, feel free to dispose of the item as you wish.”

Gu Fuyou’s gaze fell on a young girl, about thirteen or fourteen years old, with a beautiful, attractive appearance, clearly a beauty in the making. The girl had been slapped by Zuo Yuanrong, causing her nose to bleed. Instead of wiping her face first, she used her sleeve to clean the red velvet carpet stained with her blood.

The girl, too scared to look at Gu Fuyou, cowered and knelt on the ground, her head deeply bowed.

Gu Fuyou couldn’t understand why Zuo Yuanrong had been so angry, but the sight of the girl stirred something unusual in her heart. At that moment, Zhong Michu silently approached, bowing respectfully and whispering in her ear, “She’s a mixed-blood from the Azure Phoenix Clan.”

The girl’s status as a mixed-blood from the Azure Phoenix Clan made everything clear. The stark difference in how the Azure Phoenix Clan and the Dragon Clan treated their mixed-bloods was striking. The Azure Phoenix Clan treated theirs with contempt, seeing them as lesser beings, even inferior to humans, and discarded them like trash. They didn’t care for them, even if they ended up as slaves. On the other hand, the Dragon Clan embraced their mixed-bloods, treating them with the same respect as their pure-blooded members, valuing their strength and fiercely guarding their bloodline, regardless of their mixed heritage.

Hence the stark difference in attitudes.

Gu Fuyou indifferently said, “Just let her go.”

Zuo Yuanrong gestured, and another guard hurried to help the girl, softly calling her “Twenty-Three…”

Gu Fuyou’s eyebrows twitched slightly, her gaze subtly noting the girl’s reaction. The girl, still trembling, seemed to be avoiding Gu Fuyou, leaning towards the other guard.

Twenty-Three. This girl, being the twenty-third ranked slave in Bailu City, was noteworthy. Given the vast number of slaves in the city, her young age, and her high rank, her abilities must be exceptional. It made sense that she was assigned to guard the guest hall, a role not given to just anyone. Gu Fuyou mentally marked her as someone significant.

As the girl passed by Zhong Michu, she shuddered, her face slightly blank, her mouth half-open as if she wanted to say something. Even as she was led away, she couldn’t help but look back at Zhong Michu several times, her gaze trembling.

She was mixed-blood.

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Shakthivel
Shakthivel
7 months ago

Thanks for the chapter..

dadin
dadin
7 months ago

lol .. fuyou’s already recruiting members.. remembering their numbers .. the pregnant woman included, I think since michu obviously saved her ..

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Imagine being called 7937 or some ridiculous number ;; what a mouthful

Hatimo
Hatimo
26 days ago

Oh she can sense michu, Fuyou better recruit her soon