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Upon hearing of Jian Chen’s plan to go to the Qiangan Kingdom by himself, the three Heaven Saint Masters of the Gesun Kingdom were amazed. They didn’t understand the situation at all, with Jian Chen being an Imperial Protector of the Qinhuang Kingdom, just what made him so angry at the Qiangan Kingdom? Although the Qiangan Kingdom had indeed interfered with the war, this was not something that could warrant Jian Chen’s current plan.
Despite feeling confusion, they didn’t dare ask due to Jian Chen’s status and could only suppress their questions.
“Honored Imperial Protector, please allow me to go with you.” Xiao Tian spoke. Since Jian Chen was not yet at the Saint Ruler realm, he was afraid that trouble might come for Jian Chen.
Jian Chen shook his head, “No need, I alone will be enough. Xiao Tian, be sure to protect this city well just in case the Blue Wind Kingdom strikes again.”
Xiao Tian revealed a helpless look on his face at such a response, “Then the Imperial Protector must take care of himself. Although the Qiangan Kingdom has lost several men, they still have plenty more.”
With that, Jian Chen left Benevolence city by himself. Flying a thousand meters into the air, he began to fly toward the Qiangan Kingdom. Wrapped around his chest was the cat sized white tiger cub.
Originally, Jian Chen hadn’t planned on bringing the tiger cub, but the cub had been unmoveable when he left earlier, therefore he had no other choice but to bring the cub along. He had faith in his strength to go against the Heaven Saint Masters and was also confident in protecting the cub at the same time.
In a flash, the day transformed into night. Within a Second Cla.s.s City in Qiangan Kingdom, the previously bustling streets finally began to lessen in density and people.
By the city gates, a high ranking officer looked up at the setting sun and spoke to the people beneath him. “It’s time, close the gates.”
Immediately, a dozen men began to push the gates shut.
“One moment!” A loud cry could be heard right outside the city gates as a white figure could be seen shooting past. In the next moment, a young youth with a white tiger cub could be seen entering the city before the gates closed.
The guards had not bothered to even stop the youth. They spend entire days looking after men and magical beasts of all shapes and sizes. Thus, they had gained a discerning eye, and from what they could see, this youth was extremely strong; he was at the very least a Heaven Saint Master.
This youth was Jian Chen. It was already night time, and Jian Chen had no desire to enter the Qiangan Kingdom late at night. Thus, he planned to rest up for the night and continue early in the morning.
Carrying the quiet tiger cub, Jian Chen walked along the now cold streets while looking for any open inns. Most of them had been filled to the brim with reservations without any opening.
At that moment, Jian Chen entered a smaller looking inn, “Shopkeeper, is there a room for the night?”
“Yes yes yes, how many rooms does sire want?” Immediately, a twenty year old youth came walking out from the back with a smile on his face.
Seeing the appearance of the youth, Jian Chen looked slightly stunned for a moment as a familiar face floated up into his mind. However he quickly cleared his mind of any wandering thoughts and said, “Your best room would suffice. Bring along a plate of roasted beef as well.” Jian Chen waved his hand and handed a single gold coin to the youth.
Taking the gold coin, the youth smiled widely at him, “Dear customer, please sit down and I’ll have a meal served up straight away.” With that, he quickly walked into the back of the inn.
Looking at the youth walk into the back of the inn, Jian Chen began to think for a moment before sitting down at a nearby table. His mind couldn’t help but think back on the appearance of Kendall from his past.
“Honored customer, your meal has arrived.” Not too long later, a single voice snapped Jian Chen out of his thoughts as the very same youth brought a large platter of roasted beef onto Jian Chen’s table.
“Mrrr…” The cub let out a happy cry as it leaped onto the table and began to devour the meal.
Seeing the white tiger cub’s actions, Jian Chen couldn’t help but force out a smile, “I’ll have another platter of roasted beef then.”
“No problem, honored customer!” The youth smiled enthusiastically before walking back to the kitchen.
Jian Chen began to look around the inn, taking notice of how small it was. There were only twenty or so tables adorned around the inn, but they were clean and sparkled with bright light. At another table, a middle-aged woman that seemed to be the shopkeeper looked intently at her abacus as she tallied up the day’s finances. The sounds of the abacus could be heard clacking continuously while the male youth stood off somewhere else. Aside from the three of them, there seemed to be no one else around.
At this moment, several burly looking men came walking into the inn. With a loud voice, one of them spoke, “Proprietress, it’s time. Hurry up and hand over what you owe.”
At the man’s voice, the woman calculating her finances with the abacus looked up at the men with an embarra.s.sed expression. For a while, she spoke several words of hesitation before taking out a stack of silver coins. “Dear gentlemen, this month’s business has been quite rough. We can barely manage our living expenses and can’t even afford any hired help. This is all we can give for this month.”
“What is this, 135 silver coins? Do you think we’re looking for a meal? We don’t care about your business, you owe us three gold coins a month!” The man cried out in anger as he prepared to cause trouble.
Without any other choice, the woman took out another stack of silver coins helplessly. In total there were 300 silver coins.
Counting up the coins to make sure there wasn’t any shortage in the stack, the men left without any further trouble.
As they left, the youth came walking out with a platter of roasted beef, “Mother, did they come to collect their fees again?”
“That’s right.” The middle-aged woman sighed with a helpless and worried expression.
“Mother, we can’t go on like this. We only earn so much per month, with these costs, we can’t afford to even live.” The youth spoke indignantly.
The woman sighed once more, “There’s no other options. We have no one to help us, no matter where we go, it’ll be the same.”
At this, the youth’s head dropped down in resignation.
“Shopkeeper, why might they be collecting a fee? Could it be all the stores here have to pay a tax?” Jian Chen suddenly asked from his table.
The youth began to wipe one of the tables with a towel before lifting his head to speak up, “There’s obviously a protection fee. Each month they force us to pay three gold coins. Even our small store can only earn several gold coins a month, but combined with the five gold coin tax to the city lord, there’s not much left. We can only make do as is.”
“Do all the stores have to pay this tax?” Jian Chen continued to ask.
Shaking his head, the youth said, “The tax from the city lord is a mandatory thing for all stores, but these men are from a mercenary group. They’ve formed their own group within the city and have a specialized group to go after those stores without any powerful backers to have them cough up protection tax.”
Jian Chen was silent for a moment. He knew that something like this was a common event, especially in a world where the strong ate the weak. Those without power would always be bullied by those with power. This was just another natural law of the world.
“Shopkeeper, are there any more rooms for the night?” Suddenly, another voice called out from outside as a white robed youth came walking in.
Seeing the new customer, the youth quickly came up to greet him with a smile, “Yes yes yes, there’s definitely room. How many rooms might the honored customer need?”
The other youths behind him began to look around the place before narrowing his eyes in dissatisfaction. “This inn is quite lacking, is this place even suitable for the young lord?”
“We came here too late, all the other inns are completely filled up. This place should do for now.” Another person spoke.
“How about this, shopkeeper, we’ll reserve the entire inn. Throw out all those unrelated men.” A youth spoke arrogantly.
Hearing this, the waiter and the shopkeeper had embarra.s.sed looks on their faces. Clearing her throat, the woman spoke, “Honored customers, our inn has plenty of room and should be enough for your needs.”
“Spare me your words. I told you to do what I ask, or are you afraid our Yangji Sect will not pay?” The white robed youth spoke out haughtily.
Upon hearing the name of the Yangji Sect, the shopkeeper’s face instantly fell. Without any other look, she walked up to the second floor and began to explain the situation to the guests. In the next moment, the second floor burst into a cacophony of anger and curses.
“F*ck, is this how your inn does business? I’ve already paid money, just how can you cheat me like this! Do you want your store to close down? I’m from the Bloodsting Mercenary group!” From the second floor, a roar could be heard. But in the next moment, the voice instantly changed, “What? The Yangji Sect? Nevermind, I didn’t say a word.”
With that, a burly looking man quickly walked out of the inn.
Afterward, a steady stream of men quickly walked out of the inn. Although many of them were indignant, when they heard the name of the Yangji Sect, they could only tighten their throats and walk out of the inn obediently with some fear.
Quickly, the inn was completely cleaned out, leaving behind only the man and magical beast noisily eating the roasted beef in front of them without a care in the world.
“Honored customer, I am truly sorry but you will have to find a new inn for the night. The roasted beef will be free of charge; we sincerely hope that the honored customer will forgive us.” The youth returned the gold coin back to Jian Chen with an apologetic look.