“Finally, Du Clan is recruiting guards."
"Du Clan is planning to take twenty new guards; minimum requirements are sixteen years of age and physically strong and healthy."
"A Du Clan guard is paid ten xuanbi every month whereby a Captain Guard's pay is fifty xuanbi, much higher compared to the other families’ ah.”
"This is an excellent opportunity! Once selected as a Du Clan guard, there might be a chance to learn Du Clan’s martial skills if we performed well."
Between the lively streets of Stone City, several burly men exuded an imposing air; dressed smart-looking clothes were putting up a big red notice on the wall, attracting a crowd gathering towards them as whispered amongst themselves.
The leader of the group of men was a muscular man riding on a handsome steed, deep red in color and has a pair of twin horns on its head. Looking at the gathered crowd, the leader announced. "Tomorrow morning, Du Clan is holding an open tryout to recruit new guards. As long as someone can take three moves from the Du Clan main descendant juniors and remain undefeated are eligible to become Du Clan's guard. Whoever that is capable of defeating or coming to a draw, the position Captain Guard is open to them. There are only twenty places on a first come first served."
A trace of pride and arrogance evident in the leader's sharp eyes; Du Clan has quite a standing in Stone City and being a part of Du Clan, thus it is inevitable for them to feel proud.
With the words out, and the notice put up the leader and the men hopped on their horses in neat and tidy action, speeding away in the streets in parallel lines.
"The one riding the Blood-sweat Dragon Horse is Du Clan’s Deputy Commander, Du Qi. I hearsay, he is a Xiantian Warrior."
"If my repair is also at Xiantian level, then within the walls of Stone City I can even walk sideway, let’s see who still dares to find trouble with me."
"You better pray that you’d well tomorrow and get selected. Although Du Clan juniors’ are young but each one is strong, not many people can withstand three moves from them. Xiantian level cultivation? You’re dreaming, not anyone can reach that level."
"Hey hey, tomorrow I’ll surely be selected as Du Clan’s guard."
Within the crowd, stood a tall, unshaven man with tanned skin. Smiling mysteriously in front of his several partners, his voice low as he said, " ”Let me tell you guys a secret, as long as you can become the Captain Guard, there's a chance to cultivate Du Clan’s martial skills. Not only that, there are future opportunities to integrate into Du Clan entirely.”
"Blackie, you’re not lying to us, right? Captain Guard can practice Du Clan’s martial arts skills." The tall guy’s several companions were shocked, followed by envy.
The tall man called Blackie boldly guaranteed, saying, "I have a distant relative that is part of Du Clan, you think I’ll need to lie to you guys."
"You actually have relative inside Du Clan then tomorrow I'm sure tomorrow you'll definitely be selected." Those nearby who heard their conversation turned to look at Blackie, the envy in their eyes increased a notch.
The news that Du Clan was recruiting guards attracted the attention much attention; as the new force that emerged in Stone City in recent years, but was already included in the rankings of Stone City's five most prominent families, naturally had their every move observed by rivals.
Dusk, thick heavy clouds in the sky shrouded the city, in the horizon the sun smoldered like a fireball whereby strips of crimson splendor seeped through the gaps in the clouds falling on the mountains.
Stone City was situated close to the Wild Beast Mountains, near to the empire's border often experienced beast tides. The residents here struggled for survival, one of the reasons why the residents raised in Stone City all practices martial arts and possessed exceptionally sturdy physique. The five big families were considered as old heritage martial families.
Several horses galloped at high speed causing dust to swirled up into a small tornado the streets, leading the group on the Blood-sweat Dragon Horse up front is Deputy Commander of Du Clan, Du Qi.
Behind Du Qi, a big fellow tilted his head to check the time, and then turned around and said to the several mates with him, "The thirteenth day, anyone dares to bet five xuanbi if that fool young master is still there?"
"That fool seem to get even sillier recently, very likely he’s is still there, I bet he is."
"It had been thirteen days that fool should've gone; the previous record was only ten days, so I bet he’s gone."
Five xuanbi was an ordinary guard’s half month wages which greatly tugged at the heartstrings of these several men. Evidently, this wasn't the first time bets were placed. Each person took out five xuanbi, passing it into the hands of the burly man that initiated the bet.
"Pay attention to your attitudes, although that person isn’t favored by the family and his behavior might be rather strange, however, don’t say I did not warn you, he is, after all, a Du Clan young master, your master. If one day you get into trouble because of this, I will not be able to save you.” Du Qi glared severely at the several men.
Du Qi’s sharp gaze caused fear to ripple in the burly man's heart. Recovering, he smiled sheepishly, saying, "Deputy Commander, now in the whole of Du Clan, maybe even in the entire Stone City calls him a fool behind his back. Not to mention he has always been a waste and a fool ah, so even if we refer to him as such amongst us private there’s nothing wrong with it."
"Having said that, Master after all is Master, no matter how much of a waste or fool he is, it is still Du family’s blood running through his veins, understand your own position or bound to suffer in the future." Du Qi scowled at them fiercely.
"Understand, Deputy Commander." Immediately, the several guards awkwardly nodded, they understood the reasoning behind Deputy Commander’s words.
Seeing this Du Qi’s face somewhat eased, then looked at the burly man, "Five xuanbi right, I also bet on five xuanbi that he is still there."
"Haha, Deputy Commander also placed a bet."
Feeling the tense atmosphere before loosened, their speed accelerated, curious to know if the mentioned Du young master is still there.
As one of Stone City’s big five families, in the Du Clan compound stood grand architectures with an olden heritage, accentuated the barren hill at the side of the main door.
On that barren hill, were oddly devoid of any grass or plants, birds do not land on it, even snakes and rats does not pass through, no different from an ominous land of death. Everyone in Du Clan thought that barren hill is inauspicious, and shuns it.
According to rumors, Du Clan compound's main door used to face that barren hill. However, about a dozen years ago the Du Clan shifted the main entrance’s direction because of the belief that it was bad luck, and from then onwards Du Clan which was a third-level family began to rise in Stone City, strengthening the belief that barren hill is an ominous land that no one wants to get close to.
On the death barren hill, lifeless and dry; there were just sands and pebbles on the ground. There was a protruded stone tablet, probably half of its length was above ground and the remaining buried underneath.
The top half was a full thirty feet high; its whole surface mottled with years, no one knew how long it has existed, at the very least no one in Du Clan knows. Hearsay, the stone tablet has been there since ancestors’ time, probably due to the long years, small cracks and intricate fine lines cover the surface.
No one in Du Clan was interested in the stone tablet, especially when the stone tablet located on the barren hill; previous generations of Du Clan Elders had researched the stone tablet and unquestionably concluded it as an ordinary stone.
The only thing extraordinary about the stone tablet was its sturdiness; during a violent storm more than a decade ago, the infamous Du Clan young master Du Shaofu stood before that stone tablet in a daze. A streak of lightning struck the stone tablet, resulted in Du Shaofu who was standing close to it fell into a coma for three days and three nights whereas the stone were fine without a scratch whatsoever.
"Damn, that idiot ...... it's already the thirteenth day ah, why is he still there."
"Lost two weeks wages, the remaining days of the month will be difficult to endure when that time comes loan me some living expenses."
Sunset, in front of Du Clan main door, several burly men can be seen checking the distant barren hill, where a slender figure of a youth stood before a protruded stone in a daze.
Who could have known this time this 'fool' would have broken the previous record, standing in front of the stone tablet without moving or resting for thirteen days straight.
"Let’s go, it's getting dark, tomorrow’s there will be a lot of young miss and young master sparring in the guards’ tryout, there shouldn’t have any mishaps happening."
Du Qi retracted his gaze from the barren stone tablet and sighed in his heart. The guards’ tryout tomorrow was in fact, an opportunity for the Du Clan juniors to gauge the level of their cultivation, killing two birds with one stone; however, these matters are irrelevant to the youth on the barren hill. Although raised as a Du Clan young master, tomorrow's tryout does not concern him, probably such things never will, and this is the difference.
"It has been thirteen days now, but the fool’s still standing over there, his condition must be getting worse.”
"It is said the family had searched for many famous healers to cure the fool, alas none have any effect, maybe there really is no cure for him."
Maidservants glanced towards the barren hill from time to time, accompanied by a feeling of pity for this young master. It never crossed anyone's mind that Young Master Du would turn into a fool.
Dusk gradually gave way to night, leaving a faint blush where the sun set, the last source of light disappeared, and the world dimmed.
Before the stone tablet, a purple-robed youth sat cross-legged, looked about fifteen or sixteen years of age, face slightly more mature compared his peers with a trace of resolute and fortitude, thick eyebrows above his closed eyes.
This youth’s name is Du Shaofu; a pleasant face, unless one came from Stone City, it was hard to imagine why anyone would call him a fool.
Stars gradually emerged, twinkling and a white crescent moon hung in the depths of the sky like a blade blooms a bright white radiance.
Deep into the night, while the entire Du Clan in deep slumber, no one paid attention to the young man on the barren hill. Ancient stone tablet stood in the moonlight’s shadow giving an eerie feeling.
Abruptly, on that ancient stone tablet, faint glow radiated within the complex cracked lines and grooves. The lines continued to crack as the whole barren hill shakes slightly, if there’s anyone around to witness this, they would be shocked agape.
Finally, as the ancient stone tablet glowed increasingly brighter, more and more cracks appeared from within and a bright curtain of light wraps around Du Shaofu’s body, the stone tablet suddenly crumbled into a pile of gravel heaped upon the barren hill.
When the glow of light disappeared, Du Shaofu opened his eyes and twin rays shot out like lightning in the darkness, an ancient atmosphere swept out from that lean body, causing the surrounding space to ripple slightly.
Spitting out foul qi through the mouth, Du Shaofu broke into a faint smile, sighing gently and said: "! Ten years’ time, finally comprehended the first style.
1. Xuanbi - currency terms
2. Main descendant - main inheriting line
3. Blood Sweat Dragon Horse- a name for a horse that is said to perspire blood.