Volume 2 Chapter 9: A Crazy Decision
The long spear shot by Houyi Bow had pierced the Monolithic Dragon through its left eye and burrowed through its head. This was a mortal arrow—it had killed the Monolithic Dragon instantaneously.
The dragon rider had fallen from the sky along with the Monolithic Dragon. With the Monolithic Dragon serving as his cushion, although his life wasn’t in any immediate danger, the fall still severely injured him, and he had fallen unconscious.
After the crowd got over their astonishment, they erupted into cheers that rocked the sky.
As everyone was cheering, in the depths of the imperial palace, the emperor’s great-great-grandfather, that old man over a hundred and seventy years old, sighed towards the sky, “Sure enough, it is as I expected… He is truly incredible…”
After his battle at the imperial palace, Chen Nan’s name thrilled the Empire of Chu. Soon thereafter, the news spread like a wildfire throughout the entire continent. The majority of practitioners knew that the Empire of Chu had gained a youthful expert that could shoot down heavenly dragons. With one battle, Chen Nan had become famous.
The following few days after the battle, an endless stream of people passed through the Residence of Eccentrics. Military officials of the court, experts from the military, they all came to pay respects to Chen Nan, so much that there were even quite a few people who had dropped by to propose marriage.
After Chen Nan defeated the dragon rider, the status of the Residence of Eccentrics once again improved. Every eccentric was revered by the people. This caused the manner of cultivation of the Empire of Chu to greatly flourish.
Within the imperial palace of Chu, Emperor Chu Han and the Eldest Princess Chu Yue were currently having a secret meeting.
Chu Han asked, “Have those three dragon riders already returned to the State of Tianyang?”
Chu Yue said, “Yes, they’re currently on the way back.”
Chu Han sighed. “These three are young talents. They’re all geniuses that are rare to obtain. What a pity it is that they aren’t citizens of my Chu. Because of this, there’s no way I can just let them leave. Otherwise, twenty years from now, the State of Tianyang will gain another three exceptional experts.”
Chu Yue smiled. “Father’s thinking is deep. I’ve already sent a carrier pigeon to deliver the letter. The day they reach the border of Tianyang is the day of their deaths.”
Chu Han nodded and said, “They already have heavily wounded bodies, so it shouldn’t prove much of a problem. This matter is easy to handle. In comparison, the matter involving Chen Nan is much more bothersome!”
Chu Yue creased her fine eyebrows. “Father, the day before the birthday banquet, we had already given our blessings for the marriage between Nalan Ruoshui and Sima Lingkong to proceed. Was this too careless? If Chen Nan were to find out about this, his heart will definitely harbour resentment towards us.”
Chu Han said, “I thought he was only capable of drawing back Houyi Bow. Who could’ve known he’d also be a third ranked martial artist at the level of Sword Qi Beyond the Body?”
Chu Yue said, “Yesterday, I already asked some of the eccentrics with profound cultivation in the Residence of Eccentrics about this. They said Chen Nan has great potential. Not only that, but it’s entirely possible there will come a day when he surpasses Elder Zhuge Chengfeng.”
Chu Han sighed. “In a few more days, it will be the date of Sima Lingkong’s marriage. At that time, if Chen Nan can’t refrain from attacking, it will be a true disaster! Maybe he will revolt against my Great Chu and seek refuge in another nation. If that happened, my Empire of Chu would not only lose a genius, but we’d also become a laughingstock of other nations.”
Chu Yue said, “If that’s the case, we had better hurry and retake Houyi Bow. If he really revolts against our Empire of Chu and abscond with Houyi Bow, that’d be disastrous.”
Chu Han said, “Doing something like that would be tantamount to forcing him to rebel against Chu. We’ll have to wait until this crisis passes before discussing this again. I presume there won’t be many mishaps happening.”
Chu Yue pondered for a moment. “Father has come to a decision. Actually, our actions are not at all inappropriate. Although he has incredible potential, he’s still just a single mere practitioner. He cannot compare with the resilient strength of a great clan.”
Not before too long, the Emperor of Chu dispatched men to the Residence of Eccentrics to confer upon Chen Nan fifty thousand gold coins, a hundred sets of silk clothing, and also bestowed upon him another title: ‘Protector of the Nation’. This could be said to be a massive honour. Eccentrics were already greatly respected. Now with the addition of the title of ‘Protector of the Nation’, his status grew in glory.
All the eccentrics went over to Chen Nan in order to congratulate him. The Old Poison Devil jokingly said, “Boy, you really know how to put on a show. One spear, one stick, and one arrow, all in exchange for the title of ‘Protector of the Nation’. How outstanding!”
The Old Witch squeezed herself through the crowd and said to Chen Nan, “Youngster, I need to remind you of something. If you ever go to the western continent, you must be careful. The black dragon you shot dead at the practice arena at the imperial palace was the mount of the Western Monolithic Dragon Rider Jason. Jason’s character is reclusive; he doesn’t enjoy associating with others, nor does he have any friends. It seems like that black dragon had been the only treasure in his life. Now that you’ve shot it dead, that old ghost will sooner or later come looking for you.”
Chen Nan nodded. He had already guessed that that black dragon wasn’t the Tianyang dragon rider’s mount.
For the past few days since the battle, Chen Nan had been bathing in unlimited riches and glory. This left the severely injured Sima Lingkong incredibly jealous and resentful. Although he had also received a hefty reward, it was a bit lacking in comparison to Chen Nan’s. Ultimately, in a fit of rage, he moved out of the Residence of Eccentrics and returned home to recuperate.
Five days after the great battle at the imperial palace, stunning news resounded at Chen Nan’s ears.
“The emperor has blessed the marriage between Sima Lingkong and Nalan Ruoshui to proceed. Their wedding date has been decided to be five days from now.”
When Chen Nan heard this news escape from the mouth of the Old Poison Devil, his expression drastically turned. Ruoshui was still being forced into a pit of fire. He originally believed that although the emperor may not have married Nalan Ruoshui off to him, he also wouldn’t so quickly have her marry Sima Lingkong either. He had thought the emperor would have definitely delayed any talks of marriage for a while before coming to a decision.
But in reality, this did not happen.
He had contributed a great merit to the imperial family, yet they were not giving him even half a thought. For them to so quickly come to their decision, no matter how he looked at it, he never expected this outcome. A flicker flashed through Chen Nan’s eyes. A faint, ruthless air appeared on Chen Nan’s face.
The Old Poison Devil jumped back in fright. “Boy, what’s wrong with you…?”
“Ah~!” Chen Nan let out a booming shout. The sound wave rolled like thunder, surging through the Residence of Eccentrics. Everyone in a circumference of ten li could hear his vehement voice. Chen Nan’s fury reached a whole new level. His look was sinister. A golden light vigorously flourished from his body. The torrential golden light on his body looked like raging flames.
The Old Poison Devil was so scared, he ran out of Chen Nan’s house and into the courtyard.
A blade of sword qi burst out from the roof.
Innumerable rays of sword qi came bursting out from the walls from within the house. The sword qi’s brilliance had a dazzle that seized the eyes. The sword qi raged, criss-crossing everywhere like a bolt of lightning snaking its way through the sky. With a rumble, the entire house collapsed.
Chen Nan stood in the debris and didn’t say anything for a long time.
The Old Poison Devil prudently and cautiously walked over to him and asked, “Chen Nan… are you okay?”
Chen Nan suppressed the anger raging in his heart. His expression gradually relaxed.
“Ai, if I were to say I’m alright, I’d be a liar. I didn’t think His Imperial Majesty would actually treat me like this. How heartless can he be?”
The Old Poison Devil said, “Five days ago, His Imperial Majesty bestowed upon you the title of Eccentric Protector of the Nation, yet he never said a word about the matter involving Nalan Ruoshui. His intentions are very clear…”
Just at that moment, the eccentrics living in the Residence of Eccentrics came one after another to Chen Nan’s courtyard. Seeing the rubble before them, they weren’t baffled at all. They already knew why Chen Nan was angry. They’ve known for a while now about the affair between Chen Nan, Nalan Ruoshui, and Sima Lingkong. After finding out the emperor had blessed the marriage between Sima Lingkong and Nalan Ruoshui, they all felt Chen Nan had suffered injustice.
“Ai, Chen Nan just recently contributed a great service to the Empire of Chu, I didn’t think…”
“With regards to the affairs of one’s life, of ten affairs, eight or nine of them will not coincide with your feelings…”
“Lad, don’t brood too much over it.”
Everyone said their condolences to Chen Nan.
Chu Yue already received the report. Creasing her brows, she said, “I only wish he doesn’t cause any problems.”
In the blink of an eye, another three days passed. There were two more days until the marriage between Sima Lingkong and Nalan Ruoshui. Sima Lingkong had already fully recovered from his injuries. In the past few days, although his reward hadn’t been as extravagant as Chen Nan’s, he still brought back a few beauties home. He believed Chen Nan liked Nalan Ruoshui and guessed that his counterpart was currently wallowing in grief and ire. When he thought of this, a grin formed at the corner of his mouth. He decided to go pay a visit to the Residence of Eccentrics.
Sima Lingkong was proud of his success. He greeted everyone he walk passed. With a left turn here and a right turn there, he arrived outside Chen Nan’s courtyard. Coincidentally, Chen Nan was just leaving. They faced each other.
“Why, isn’t this the Eccentric Protector of the Nation? Wherever must you go? Little brother was just about to pay respects to Eccentric Protector of the Nation-daren.” Whenever Sima Lingkong said the words ‘Protector of the Nation’, he would scowl harshly with a ridiculing expression.
Chen Nan grew furious. A cold light flickered at his eyes. Although he currently did not love Nalan Ruoshui, he still rather liked her. Moreover, she had his figure in her heart. He couldn’t possibly tolerate the eccentric girl suffering any misfortune; not after the kindness she had shown him.
“Sima Lingkong, don’t be so proud of yourself. Although the emperor has blessed your marriage, he doesn’t care about you at all. He only cares about your father, your family. You are merely the second generation, nothing more!”
Sima Lingkong coldly laughed. “Regardless of what you say, one thing hasn’t changed: two days from now, Ruoshui and I will get married. The groom isn’t you, heihei.”
“Sima Lingkong, f*ck off for me. I don’t want to look at you.”
“Fine. Since Eccentric Protector of the Nation-daren has spoken, I will take my leave. But in two days, you definitely have to come to my wedding ceremony. En, at that time, you can come play pranks on us newlyweds, heihei.”
Chen Nan’s face turned ashen. Watching Sima Lingkong gradually disappear off into the distance, he smashed the gate behind him into pieces with a single blow.
When Chen Nan appeared before the Old Poison Devil, the scared old man jumped back.
“Hey, boy, why is your expression so ugly? Are you ill?”
“Perverted old man, let me ask you, where does Ruoshui live?”
“You… What the hell are you trying to do? Boy, don’t cause any trouble. If you want to kidnap the bride, I urge you to give up. These past two days, the Eldest Princess has dispatched many warriors with profound cultivation to the left minister’s house to guard Nalan Ruoshui. You don’t have any chance.”
Chen Nan’s face soured. He inwardly sighed at how dreadful the Eldest Princess truly was. She actually anticipated his actions.
The night light was like water. The ten thousand bamboo flutes were silent. This was destined to be a sleepless night.
Chen Nan restlessly tossed and turned. He was carefully considering his options. “What should I do? Am I supposed to watch helplessly as Ruoshui marries that bastard?” A lively look shot out from his eyes as he said to himself, “Ruoshui has shown me great kindness, and her heart holds my figure. I can’t promise her anything, but there is absolutely no way I can sit idly by and watch her jump into a pit of fire. I must put a stop to this wedding. I can’t leave behind any regrets!”
Although he had come to a decision, there was still some worry left in his heart.
“In the short span of three months, so many unimaginable things have happened. After I resolve this problem, I have to leave this place as soon as possible.” Finally, he entered the realm of dreams.
In the early morning, Chen Nan ran over to the Old Poison Devil’s house.
Seeing his smiling expression, the Old Poison Devil grew suspicious. “Boy, your face has been ugly for the past few days; why has your prediction suddenly changed from overcast to clear?”
Chen Nan said, “Let’s chat inside.”
After they entered the house, he hastily hit ten or so major acupoints on the Old Poison Devil’s body. Although the Old Poison Devil’s martial arts was not bad, it was barely enough to be considered as not bad. He simply couldn’t be compared with ranked experts.
“Boy, what the f*ck are you doing? You—“
“Shush! Don’t shout loudly. I just want to have a proper chat with you.”
“You want to chat with me? Then why must you seal my acupoints?”
“Because the thing I need to talk to you about is too frightening. I feared you wouldn’t want to discuss it with me, so I came up with this ploy.”
“Speak, what the hell is the problem?”
“I know your poison techniques are the absolute best in the Empire of Chu. May you prescribe some medicine for me?”
“Something that won’t kill anyone. After taking the medicine, I just want it to temporarily cripple someone’s cultivation.”
The instant the Old Poison Devil heard this, he immediately cried, “Boy, what the hell are you trying to do? Do you really need to cause chaos?”
“That’s right, so do you have that kind of medicine?”
Upon hearing this request, the Old Poison Devil broke out into a cold sweat. “Chen Nan, don’t go make trouble. The imperial capital has plenty of experts; there’s no way you’ll end up successful.”
Chen Nan looked into the Old Poison Devil’s eyes. “Although there are many experts, I have Houyi Bow. No one can stop me.”
With a shaky voice, the Old Poison Devil said, “If you create chaos in the imperial capital, even if you are able to flee, the Empire of Chu can go after you across borders.”
“The world is so big, and I have not inferior martial arts. If I want to escape from pursuers from the Empire of Chu, I can easily do it. Perverted old man, do you have that kind of medicine?”
“Liar. With one look at your face, I can tell you’re lying to me. On the basis of our friendship, you wouldn’t refuse to help me, right?”
“It isn’t that I don’t want to help you, it’s that I truly don’t have the heart to watch you jump into a pit of fire.”
“I already told you that you don’t have to worry; I am in absolutely no danger. You just have to give me that medicine and it’ll be fine.”
The Old Poison Devil’s face turned bitter. “You’re in no danger, but I certainly am. When the time comes and you run away, what am I supposed to do? They’ll definitely discover my involvement.”
Chen Nan thought for a moment. “It doesn’t matter. After you give me the medicine, I’ll knock you unconscious. When the time comes, just say I overpowered you.”
“No.” The Old Poison Devil scowled at him and said, “This method is too shoddy. If we do it like this, after they investigate me, there’s no way I’d be able to run.”
Chen Nan said, “Then what should we do? Tomorrow is Ruoshui’s wedding. If I don’t rescue her from her wedding ceremony tomorrow, her whole life will be ruined.”
“Do you insist on doing something so dangerous? Can’t you…” The Old Poison Devil wanted to say the word ‘abandon’, but no matter what, he couldn’t say it. Seeing the look of resolve on Chen Nan’s face, he finally let out a sigh and said, “Fine, I’ll throw caution to the wind. Before, you gave me the Poison Scriptures. In my eyes, that was an enormous favour. Even if you requested my life, I’d give it to you. Today, I’ll repay you with my life.
With a smile that wasn’t a smile, Chen Nan looked at the Old Poison Devil. “Do you truly want to repay me with your life? That’s fine. Soon, after you give me the medicine, I’ll kill you, so you won’t have to endure any excessive torture in the future.”
The Old Poison Devil cried out, “Stinky boy, you’re too savage. You don’t have an ounce of sympathy. Ai, it seems like I can’t stay in the imperial capital any longer. After I give you the medicine, I’ll immediately flee far from the imperial capital and rush to another nation.”
After the Old Poison Devil’s acupoints were released, he asked, “What do you have planned?
Chen Nan said, “I plan to take action during the wedding ceremony tomorrow.”
“Y-you’re insane. Great General Sima Changfeng and left minister Nalan Wencheng are both major figures of the Chu government. The two of them will be bound by the marriage of their kin. They definitely must have invited His Imperial Majesty as a guest to the ceremony. At that time, the Sima Residence will certainly be as sturdy as if it were built by copper and iron walls; there’s no way for you to penetrate it. For you to choose that time to take action, it’s simply… simply going off to your own death. You might as well just go to the left minister’s house and kidnap her.”
Heihei…” Chen Nan coldly laughed. “If I need to create chaos, I’ll create so much chaos that no one understands what’s happening anymore. Not only must I to rescue Ruoshui, I must also do it right in front of the emperor and all of his military and civil officials. I want to cause a big event. I want to sully the Empire of Chu’s face. What the three dragon riders from the State of Tianyang failed to do, I’ll finish on their behalf. I need to give the Empire of Chu a great slap in the face!”
The Old Poison Devil was rendered wide-eyed and slack-jawed. He muttered, “Lunatic! Lunatic! If this matter becomes known to other countries, it will definitely make the Empire of Chu lose face. This time, you’ll be conducting a lunatic’s revenge. You’re just a lunatic!”
Chen Nan sneered. “That day I battled those two dragon riders in succession at the imperial palace, it seemed to be effortless, but it was actually incredibly dangerous. I risked my life to seize a life and to preserve the Empire of Chu’s honour, but what was the result?”
The Old Poison Devil said, “The emperor really acted improperly over this matter. Right after you had just contributed an outstanding service, he had married Nalan Ruoshui off to another. He certainly has an icy heart.”
Chen Nan let out a cold humph. “Of the experts in the imperial capital, the ones I am most worried about are the ranked practitioners of the Residence of Eccentrics. If I can render these people temporarily unable to take action, my pressure will lessen immensely.”
The Old Poison Devil said, “Right when you had entered the Residence of Eccentrics, I saw that you were an honest man. I didn’t think that over the course of a few days, you’d seemingly switch with another person. Not only did you suddenly gain terrifying cultivation, you’ve become this insane. I’m seriously out of luck. What kind of shitty luck made me meet you?” He let out a sigh and continued, “For the sake of our friendship, I’ll add some extra ‘seasoning’ in the kitchen today. It will take effect an hour before noon and last for two hours.”
“Perverted old man, I sincerely thank you.”
“Ai, after living a few good years in the imperial capital, I really don’t want to leave. Boy, what are your plans? After you go crazy at the Sima Residence, where do you plan on taking Nalan Ruoshui?”
“I’m still unsure. It will be fine as long as we can leave the Empire of Chu.”
“Boy, you are seriously too muddled. Even if you flee to one of the Empire of Chu’s vassal states, you’ll still find it equally as difficult to escape death. I’ll point you into the direction you should go. Have you ever heard of the City of Freedom?”
Chen Nan felt that it was very familiar. He carefully thought for a moment and remembered that just a few months ago, he had been scouring through countless books at the imperial library room of ancient texts. Although his knowledge on the geography of the continent wasn’t too precise, he still had a general idea.
When Xianhuan Continent and Mohuan Continent merged together, a continuous, lofty mountain range emerged at its common border. This resulted in a circumference of a hundred thousand li becoming obscure, without the presence of humans. Within this boundless mountain range, although traces of people were scarcely seen, vicious beasts roamed everywhere. Not only did this place have western dragons, it also had giants (remnants from times long past), as well as many other unheard of powerful demons and monsters. Perhaps they may even be some legendary creatures there, too.
Afterwards, the relations between the east and the west became more and more inseparably close. People passed through the incredibly dangerous path until they finally opened up an adjoining path that cut through the middle of the mountain range in order to connect the two continents. Unfortunately, not too long after this, a large-scale war happened to break out between the east and the west. This road became a road of warfare. Here, blood flowed like rivers, bones piled up infinitely, and a countless number of brave souls were put to rest.
After the battle between the east and the west concluded, this path was abandoned for a long time until restoration efforts began. Because the road was long and dangerous, a few inns and taverns gradually started to emerge at the roadside, providing people with a place to rest and lodging for the night, as well as helping them replenish their supplies. Afterwards, along with the frequent dealings between the east and the west, some places gradually took the form of villages. With thousands of years of development, a flourishing metropolis emerged at the roadside. It was precisely that City of Freedom.
The City of Freedom wasn’t considered to belong to any country. It was an independent city. Because its geographical location was especially unique—it was the most important city along the road connecting the east and the west—its degree of prosperity wasn’t any less than that of the imperial capital of Chu, Pingyang City.
The City of Freedom was also called the City of Crime. It was an independent state; it was not under the control of any other nation. Because of this, many major criminals of the continent fled to this place of refuge. This was a place where fish and dragon intermingled; while there are honest people living honest lives there, criminals were assimilated and intermixed with them like it was nothing. However, every person who fled to this place didn’t dare run amok, because here, the amount of strong pugilists was incredible. They intimidated those people who weren’t content in their place. Because of this, although the City of Freedom was also called the City of Crime, very few crimes actually occurred. The inhabitants of this place had to abide by the city’s rules.
Although the City of Crime had only recently become a city, many powerful practitioners lived there in seclusion. This made the manner of cultivation of the City of Freedom popular. Additionally, this place also contained a famous college of the continent: Shenfeng Institute. It had been established just as long as the City of Freedom had been; it had a history that could trace back a thousand years. The number of institutions on the continent that could rival it could be counted on one’s fingers. Shenfeng Institute produced generation after generation of exceptional experts.
Because of all the aforementioned reasons, the City of Freedom was famous on the continent. It became a sparkling gem among the continent’s cities.
Chen Nan recalled all of this and knew what kind of place the City of Freedom was.
“I know of this famous city. It’s indeed a good place.”
The Old Poison Devil said, “How is it only that? It’s basically heaven. You don’t know how prosperous that place is. Casinos, romantic places… It really makes one cherish the memory. For ten years now, I haven’t stepped foot in that place.”
Chen Nan said, “You’re old, but not at all proper. Your beard is already white, so how can your mind still be filled with those kinds of thoughts?”
“Because I have the heart of a youngster, heihei…” laughed the Old Poison Devil, pleased. “Do you know? A place with freedom everywhere is a golden opportunity. All you need in outstanding ability, then, you can make money extraordinarily fast. You can go to the surrounding mountain range to kill some powerful magical beasts. You can exchange the magicite cores found inside magical beasts for vast amounts of wealth. Or, you can be a bounty hunter and go capture major criminals. You can exchange them for amazing rewards… But if you wanted to flee to that place, then it would probably be better for you to remain low-key. After all, you’re a fugitive yourself.”
Chen Nan knew magical beasts were originally creatures from Mohuan Continent. From birth, they possessed the full capability to use magic. Weaker magical beasts could only use some simple magic, such as the Snow Rabbit, which could only spit some ice arrows. Fire Foxes can only breathe a flame. Only the more advanced magical beasts could use powerful magic, such as the Thunder Beast, which could release thunder and lightning. Within the body of every magical beast was a magicite core. The higher rank a magical beast was, the more precious the magicite core in its body was. Magicite cores were necessary for magi to study magic; they were their precious materials. Because of this, their prices were outrageously expensive.
The Old Poison Devil had the face of a pig bro. “In the City of Freedom, beauties are as common as the clouds. In particular are the schoolgirls from Shenfeng Institute. They’re simply the best of the best.”
Chen Nan scolded him in a low voice, “You perverted old man, you truly are old, yet not an ounce proper.”
The Old Poison Devil, like an unstoppable torrent, said, “Students capable of meeting the requirements to enter Shenfeng Institute are very few in number because the requirements are pitilessly high. Only young, powerful practitioners that are ranked are capable of entering. The number of students who don’t meet the requirements is also incredibly high. Because Shenfeng Institute is famous on the continent, many countries’ aristocrats and nobles rely on their connections to send their children to study at Shenfeng Institute. There, coming across a prince or a princess is rather commonplace. Now that I think about it, it really makes me excited! So many princesses, royal women, and noblewomen are there! If I could go in, I’d be so happy I’d die.”
Chen Nan gave the Old Poison Devil a ruthless smack upside his head and said, “Old lover boy, go back to what you were talking about before.”
The Old Poison Devil resembled a ball leaking air, immediately withering. With a frown and a concerned expression, he said, “Fine. Soon I’ll go to the kitchen to add some extra ‘seasoning’. Afterwards, I’ll sneak away from the imperial capital at night. When I leave, I won’t say goodbye to you. I hope I can find you in the City of Freedom.”
“Perverted old man, thank you!” Chen Nan turned around and walked away.
When the curtain of night fell, the Old Poison Devil fled from the imperial capital.
The bright full moon was suspended at the horizon. The moonlight shone like water, bathing Chen Nan’s heart and soul in a sense of serenity. He had already finished his preparations for the upcoming great battle.