Chapter 19: The Great Sin
After leaving the Black Market Auction House, the amount of people trailing him had increased by a noticeable amount. Although these people were following Hui Yue, it was obvious they tried to be secretive yet they so blatantly followed his trail.
These stealthily pursuing spies fully knew and were aware that despite seeking to stalk their target, it would be impossible for them to go unnoticed, and even more considering the expert’s tremendously high rank, it did not seem as if he had any intent to act upon their affront.
Just as before, Hui Yue returned to his recent lodgings, the inn, where he hastily redressed himself into his commoner’s garments and casually made his escape through the backdoor like any other errand boy.
A satisfied smile appeared on the small boy’s face as he glanced at the motley crew of people lying in wait outside the inn. Disregarding the congregation, Hui Yue turned around and started trotting towards the City Lord’s mansion.
The sun was creeping right above the edge of the city walls by the time Hui Yue had made it to the City Lord’s mansion. Earlier, Hui Yue had been invited to eat dinner together with the Rong twins, and he had accepted the invitation; however, on the way to the mansion, a sudden epiphany abruptly struck Hui Yue’s currently mildly bewildered mind.
Hui Yue, more so in the garbs of a commoner, was merely a nameless child. Entering the City Lord’s mansion was no easy task to accomplish, and how was he supposed to enter just like that? Fortunately, Rong Xing had thought of this beforehand and given the guard orders to allow entry to a Hui Yue, as long as the boy seemed to be around the age of ten, had big blue eyes and white hair.
The dinner later on had gone without complications as neither Lord Rong Liang nor Bu Huang had been present, and the three children spoke about the gossip they had come across throughout the day.
“I heard dad talk about something really awesome!” Rong Ming said with glistening eyes as he finished swallowing his mouthful of stew.
“An expert has appeared in town!” Rong Ming paused dramatically while looking at Hui Yue and Rong Xing, expecting a shocked reaction. “This guy is even stronger than our esteemed father, and he is apparently selling something at the Black Market Auction House next week! Dad was so excited when he spoke with Bu Huang about it that they forgot to close the door.”
Rong Xing chuckled while looking at her excited brother, meanwhile Hui Yue put on an act, gasping in wide-eyed shock. The rest of the evening was spent with Hui Yue asking a few questions about this expert and how Lord Rong Liang could have gotten the information this quickly.
Turned out that one of the first messengers to notice Hui Yue back at the market place where he bought the memory stones had belonged to the Rong family.
Evening turned into night, and the final rays of sunlight painted the sky purple. The three children were all gathering together as they moved back to the Royal Academy, none of them noticing the dark shadow which lurked behind the carriage the entire way.
As soon as they had arrived at the foot of the mountain, the carriage had to turn around as only students, or those who possessed a Royal Academy Emblem of some kind could enter the mountain range. Meanwhile, the elusive shadow blending in with the dead of night shadowed their trail and deftly bypassed the protective mechanism.
As the three reached the residential area, Hui Yue and the Rong twins went each their ways, as they lived on separate mountain tops, leaving the younger boy to walk the final distance on his own. A feeling of satisfaction and confidence was growing within the soul shared by both boy and bird.
Today had gone beyond all expectation. They had managed to purchase two memory stones and would be able to sell their skills at a high price. Furthermore, they had strolled around town in order to attract attention, causing the interest to soar with enticement, in the end managing to safely return without blowing their cover. Today was definitely a day where both Hui Yue and Lan Feng were satisfied with their achievements.
The two of them quickly entered their home, eager to hit the hay. While they were bustling about within the house, however, a shadow could be seen sitting on the roof at the neighbouring courtyard.
The sky had grown dark, but although a black curtain had covered the heavens, the bright moon illuminated the warm night. In this moonlight, a figure shrouded in shadows was observing the child moving about within the house next door.
A smile laced with murderous vibes appeared on the face of the unknown person as two hazel-brown eyes shone with an internal strength. The lights within the house next door slowly got turned off, but the shrouded person stayed for the majority of the night, hesitating as she looked at the room in which the child was sleeping.
“Soon, little lord,” she finally said as the first rays of sunshine broke through the sky, and she wrapped herself in the retreating shadows, subtly melding into the twilight veil of the approaching dusk as she disappeared.
As the woman disappeared within the dead of night, Hui Yue woke up with the first rays of sunshine and felt much more rested than he had felt for a long time.
The first couple of hours were spent in the courtyard with cultivation as the priority, and soon one day became another among many.
Hui Yue and Wang Ju Long both attended the classes for Cultivational History within the Taiyang Kingdom, but the classes were obviously turning into an open war between the new generation of geniuses.
Both children took great efforts in seating themselves as far away from the other as possible, and it was taboo to be caught glaring at the other, in fact, sending a glare which was not noticed turned into a great joy for both.
‘Don’t you ever mention my behaviour again,’ Lan Feng said with a smug expression and laughter hidden beneath every word, ‘you are definitely not acting your age, fighting such a petty fight with a poor child, just because you were insufficient in beating him earlier.’
The words said by the damn bird hit Hui Yue right where home was. He was very well aware that his age now easily exceeded thirty were he to combine his two lifetimes, however, he was unable to defeat his childish urge to partake in the constant hostilities against Wang Ju Long. The young master had an ability to tick off Hui Yue with just having been born.
At least these hostilities did not affect the lessons, but it was not because the two students were interested, it was because they used the time to deal with their own interests. Wang Ju Long spent every lesson cultivating, and had done so from the very first lesson, whereas Hui Yue at first had asked a few questions about the Dark Age.
Unfortunately, teacher Li Yuan had refused to answer anything about the Dark Age, and his answer had been that he himself was not strong enough to be rewarded with said knowledge. If Hui Yue was interested, then he had to grow much stronger.
Hearing this had caused the young white-haired boy to pout and feel slightly annoyed, before he had moved towards the library and conducted his own search of information.
What he had found, was that every book, scroll or memory stone that had existed in the Dark Age had been destroyed. This destruction had caused an immense amount of Martial and Spiritual Arts to get lost, not to mention the cultivation methods.
After the first lesson, Hui Yue spent the rest of the classes hoarding books from the library and lastly flitting through them at a rapid pace, trying to find just one clue; ultimately, by a stroke of luck, after three days, he had succeeded.
Hui Yue had found a book, which was created just as the Dark Age had ended; the book had been hidden within one of the darkest corners of the library.
The book was old and dusty. It had been burned slightly, but some of the pages were still readable, and Hui Yue had almost instantly felt as if this book contained a secret.
‘Behind the Dark Age was the Great Sin
A Sin so great, that Darkness could always win
The sin was embedded within the core of our souls
The darkness itself achieved its goals.
A hero was born within this life of slavery
A hero who started a rebellion to be free
But as the rebellion rose, blood fell as rain
The darkness was washed away, so freedom we could gain
As a newborn world, the countries were laid to waste
But even now, freedom is what we chase’
This verse was written within the worn-out book, and Hui Yue felt a shiver rush through his body as he read it, Lan Feng too, felt shocked upon reading it.
The world described within this verse was nothing like the world which Lan Feng had told Hui Yue about previously, and Hui Yue felt that this Great Sin and Dark Age was much more complicated than what he had first assumed.
Shock was evident within Lan Feng’s soul, as he was completely unaware why anyone would have considered his world to be a form of slavery. This shock, caused Hui Yue to be even more certain that Lan Feng himself, was not hiding anything from him.
Lan Feng was a very overbearing beast. He would kill anyone who blocked his path, and he would do so ruthlessly. He would take what he wanted, even if it required violence, and he would never show mercy unless he could benefit from it.
However, even though Lan Feng was an overbearing figure, he was very loyal to those whom he guarded. He would not behave in a way to bring trouble to his people, and from what Hui Yue had understood, the other descendants were exactly like this as well.
Hour after hour was spent on poring over the books in the library, however, no matter how much Hui Yue searched, he found no other reference to the Dark Age or the Great Sin. Hui Yue pushed the envelope far enough to even ask teacher Li Yuan if he had ever heard about the Great Sin before, but the teacher said no, and by looking at his expression, it was obvious that he was not lying.
A sigh escaped Hui Yue as he once again sat in the library, tirelessly pursuing a mountain of heavy books. He knew that the likelihood of finding more clues was scant, but he would take any chance he had. Unfortunately, now was not the time to deal with the mysteries about the Dark Age, thus he packed up the the books which he had borrowed, and bowed slightly as a farewell to the librarian before he returned to his courtyard.
The last couple of days had been spent at the library, reserving the night for his cultivation of pure Qi-threads, however, tonight was different. Tonight he did not have the luxury to cultivate all night, tonight he needed to sleep.
The week had gone by much quicker than expected, and Hui Yue knew that although the mysteries of the Dark Age and the Great Sin were on his mind, he had to shirk them in favor of other urgent matters; he had to commit his every last drop of focus towards the upcoming event the following day. The day of the Auction was upon him.
Hui Yue allowed himself to slump onto the bed, where his eyes shut themselves instantly, and he fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The following morning, Hui Yue woke up much more refreshed than he had felt for a long time, and he quickly gathered the items needed for his trip. First was his conical hat, secondly his blue clothes, and finally the few coins he had left from when he sold his medicinal pill.
Unlike last time, Hui Yue did not travel together with the Rong twins, nor did anyone know that he was leaving the academy today, so just as the sun rose, he rushed out of the academy entrance and broke into a lively trot towards Riluo City.
Although the distance was more easily traversed while being in a carriage pulled by magical horses, even a student ranked practitioner had quite a good speed, but Hui Yue was in no hurry to reach his destination. The auction would not start until late afternoon, so Hui Yue spent the following four hours to reach the City gates.
Upon reaching the city, Hui Yue found a stall which sold street food, and he bought a bun filled with jam for breakfast. The bun was warm, and sweet, causing both Hui Yue and Lan Feng to feel great satisfaction after running for so many hours in the chilled morning wind.
After walking randomly through the town for a few hours, Hui Yue had observed the random inns that he could check into.
He obviously had the choice of checking into the same one as last time, however, doing so would make it more likely for his real identity to be brought to light by others.
As Hui Yue moved through town, he walked through one of the poorer areas and noticed how no one was moving around on the usually bustling streets.
Suddenly a heavy scent arrived at Hui Yue, assaulting his nostrils with a smell that he was very familiar with. Once in his life he had experienced how his entire world had turned into a mess of red which had this particular nauseating iron-like smell.
Hui Yue threw a glance towards the empty street in front of him and as he did, he noticed a black cloaked person observing him. The cloak covered the face completely, but Hui Yue felt no killing intent emitted from within. Hui Yue clasped his hands together and made a deep bow to the man before turning around and walking away.
During the entire time he was on the road, Hui Yue could feel that the black cloaked man was observing him, however, he was not following him.
As Hui Yue entered a main road, he felt the sunshine on his skin, and it seemed as if the entire world had changed. Previously, he had felt as if he was submerged within a tank filled with ice-cold water. He had not felt the sunshine, and the light had been dimmed. He had seen no people around, but now the city was buzzing with life.
It was obvious that the black cloaked man had used some kind of magic, but Hui Yue had no idea why it had not worked on him, and currently Lan Feng was hiding far within the Qi cave, waiting for them to get far away from the black cloaked man.
It was obvious that he had killed someone, but he did not seem as a cold-blooded murderer as he had ignored Hui Yue, causing the white-haired boy to shrug slightly and ignore the black cloaked man again.
Although he had killed someone, murder was something which would happen quite often within this new world, and since he had not killed Hui Yue earlier, it was quite likely that he would not hunt him down later either. As to who and why he had committed murder was something Hui Yue did not consider prudent to pry into.
After walking through different roads and alleyways for a couple of hours, Hui Yue finally reached an inn where he checked in. This was an even more shabby inn than the previous one, however, it would work for what Hui Yue needed it for.
The room itself was incredibly small. A single bed and a sink was the only thing that was placed within the room, but those things were everything that Hui Yue needed.
Hui Yue quickly washed himself in the sink before he switched his clothes and withdrew the conical hat. Although he had left the academy so early in the morning, he still had to move to the Black Market Auction House soon. Firstly, he had spent four hours to get to the city after which he had walked around. After seeing the black cloaked man, Hui Yue had spent another couple of hours walking around and now it was only two hours left before the auction would start.
Arriving to the Auction House was much more different this time. The Manager had stationed guards at the avenue to greet Hui Yue with respectful bows, and a message was instantly sent through a memory stone to the Manager as soon as he arrived, causing the elderly man to rush down the stairs and greet their honoured guest.
“Milady Li Fen,” he said while bowing deeply, and Hui Yue nodded his head in reply, causing a smile to appear on the manager’s face.
“Please follow this servant into the hall which we have prepared for the Auction. We have established the most beautiful balcony for you to overview the Auction, and we hope that it will be to your satisfaction.”
Hui Yue rose an eyebrow in surprise. The manager was unable to see the reaction, but from within the conical hat, a melodious and childish voice said:
“Thank you Manager, I appreciate the help you are providing me with.”
The manager and all the guards felt a shockwave go through their entire bodies as the voice left the expert in their midst. Although the voice was gentle and friendly, it carried a profound strength within, which left no room for doubt about this expert’s cultivation.
The guards did not follow into the Black Market Auction House building itself, instead they returned to patrolling as soon as they had bid farewell to Hui Yue with a respectful bow.
The manager personally led Hui Yue towards a balcony on the main Auction Hall on the second floor. This balcony was large enough to fit ten people, however, the entire balcony had been reserved for ‘her’, and a servant was placed just outside to ensure that the expert ‘Li Fen’ gained everything that ‘she’ might desire.
Although a large number of nobles had arrived early, none of them had been allowed entrance before the disguised Hui Yue, and now that ‘she’ was seated within ‘her’ balcony the gates finally went ajar and Hui Yue had a full view of Riluo City’s upper class which was streaming into the Auction Hall akin to a horde on Black Friday.
The ground floor was filled with chairs where the lesser nobles and the merchants; the mercenaries and the richer, middle-class commoners were placed. The other balconies were reserved for the nobles with the most power within the city.
The first balcony to be opened up was the one belonging to Lord Rong Liang, however, Hui Yue furrowed his brows deeply upon witnessing who entered the balcony.
Hui Yue had expected that Rong Liang would bring Bu Huang and some guards. Maybe even his two children, however, the ones who entered the balcony were seven black cloaked men, completely identical to the one Hui Yue had encountered earlier.
Upon seeing these unknown men, Hui Yue felt how he broke into sweat and a clump of worry grew within his heart. Logically speaking, Hui Yue was perfectly aware that these experts would not be able to recognize him as the boy from earlier.
Earlier, Hui Yue was relying solely on his own cultivation base at a student rank, and his aura was his own, however, now everything that they could sense when they looked at Hui Yue was Lan Feng’s aura.
Hui Yue calmed himself and looked at the experts. Although Lan Feng was allowing his aura to seep out, he still did not utter a word; he instead invested his entire focus to the last dregs on his soul with Hui Yue’s in order to achieve their combined aura.
The black cloaked men allowed their gazes to sweep across Hui Yue, but all they did was nod slightly in greeting, to which Hui Yue replied courteously. These men were treated by Lord Rong Liang as if they were of a higher rank than he, causing Hui Yue to assume that they were from the Royal family.