The day after, Ye Qingyu waited all day long at the inn but Nie Tiankong did not appear. Instead, Linghu Buxiu came to visit and apologetically said that Nie Tiankong was swamped with work and had to personally attend to some matters. He wasn't able to find the time to come and had sent Linghu Buxiu in his stead.
"Lord Zhang Longcheng, this isn't meant to be a slight against you, but Commander Nie Tiankong just can't find the time," Linghu Buxiu said with a smile.
Nie Tiankong was such an important man, but had still personally requested for him to visit Zhang Longcheng despite how busy he was. This showed how much he valued the City Lord of Luoshen Ridge and thus, Linghu Buxiu's attitude towards Ye Qingyu was extremely polite. He said, "Commander Nie Tiankong has now just joined the inner circle of the military headquarters and with his newfound authority, he will need to settle some matters immediately. Lord Zhang Longcheng, please continue to be patient, since Commander Nie Tiankong has already told me to let you know that your appointment is almost finalized and I'm sure you'd be satisfied with it. He truly holds you in high regard."
Ye Qingyu said, "Don't worry. I know that he has to attend to hundreds of important matters every day. Haha, I should seize this opportunity to explore the Royal City. Once I'm officially appointed, I would probably be kept busy working under him, and would probably not have the time to relax anymore."
"Haha, I can tell why Commander Nie Tiankong holds you in such high regard," Linghu Buxiu said with a chuckle.
Linghu Buxiu then took Ye Qingyu and strolled around the Royal City that day, to show him the sights. Ye Qingyu had to admit that as an ancient city that had existed for countless years, everything in this city was full of historical value and looked like it had weathered through all kinds of storms, just like an elderly man who had experienced all the vicissitudes of life. He could see history leaving its mark everywhere he looked, and several significant landmarks that were made of ancient rocks were even full of saber and sword marks; these buildings had clearly weathered through huge battles.
He heard from Linghu Buxiu that the Royal City had once experienced battles and that there were several instances of rebellion. There was even a time when the Invaders attacked the city but ultimately, all the strongest men joined forces to turn the tide around, crushing all invaders and rebuilding the Royal City. Thus, this city represented the greatest glory and honor of the Dark Realm.
This was especially so for the Royal City's Central City and for strategic reasons, almost ninety-nine percent of the buildings here were carved from tough, hard rock and reinforced with countless formations, so they were extremely sturdy. The first and foremost factor deciding these buildings' appearance and the structure was whether they could meet military needs, while the aesthetics took a backseat. This was why the Royal City seemed simple and practically built with an aura that was full of history.
As they spoke, there was the sound of a bamboo flute.
Ye Qingyu followed the sound and a strange look crossed his face as he said, "This area's architectural style seems very different as compared to the rest of the Royal City, doesn't it?"
There were many buildings ahead, but these were not carved from rocks, but were instead formed from luxurious wood and rocks. They were incredibly beautiful with carved eaves and painted walls, colorful and bright. They looked like magnificent jade palaces and were covered with gold and silver foil that glinted brightly under the sun. These buildings were much taller than the surrounding constructions and were completely against the main principle of structures being built for military practicality; they were so exquisite and opulent, that this area seemed to be a picture of superfluous abundance, giving off an exaggerated vibe.
Linghu Buxiu flushed and shook his head. Then, he said with a tinge of resignation, "These are the noblemen's residences and they weren't that opulent in the past, but in the most recent centuries, there were some changes to the habits of those at the very top and these noblemen become more bold and fearless. They started to pursue the pleasures of life and openly flouted the city laws to construct these buildings, also chasing after luxuries... Forget it, I won't talk further of these things. Brother Zhang Longcheng, you must remember that the residents of these buildings are the true people of power at the Royal City and they belong to the upper echelons of the Dark Realm. This doesn't just apply to the people who reside in this area, any dog or pet beast that lives in this area could run amok around the Royal City without any repercussions. You mustn't step on the toes of any creature from this area. Take this as a piece of friendly advice from me."
Ye Qingyu nodded contemplatively.
This level of corruption and decadence could be seen in any major city and he had seen this in the nineteen cities along the Road of Chaos in the Vast Thousand Domains, and at the Snow capital of the Heaven Wasteland Domain. But for a fortress city like the Royal City, this scene just happened to be more striking than the other cities he had been to.
He was slightly disappointed.
Based on his understanding of this world, the titled noblemen were probably given this honor in recognition of their contributions to defeat the Invaders. Yet, this honor was now enjoyed by those who ignored the laws of the camp and indulged in a decadent lifestyle. It was enough for him to see how corrupt the Guardians' camp had become.
Soon, another day flew by.
Linghu Buxiu escorted Ye Qingyu back to his inn and bid him farewell with a salute. "I don't think Commander Nie Tiankong will be able to squeeze some time out over the next few days, so I'll have to trouble you to wait a while longer... Oh, tomorrow is the first day of the semi-annual Wanyi Bazaar and Alien Dark Ones who live outside Central City will be permitted to enter. There will be many strange and exotic items available for sale in the bazaar, and although the chances of you finding a precious treasure on sale are rather slim, it is still a very interesting event. Brother Zhang Longcheng, if you're interested, I could show you around," he said with a smile.
"There's no need to trouble you tomorrow; I can find my way around," Ye Qingyu replied.
Linghu Buxiu nodded and said, "Very well. I already consider you my brother, so there's no need to stand on ceremony. Frankly, I do have many matters to attend to myself, so if you're fine with exploring the bazaar alone, please go ahead. I'll send somebody to show you the way."
Now that Nie Tiankong had risen to power, as his trusted subordinate who had been with him for a while, Linghu Buxiu naturally wanted to angle for some benefits as well. These few days were extremely crucial, so he obviously wanted to be by Nie Tiankong's side and not Ye Qingyu's. Now that one day had been freed up for him, it was a precious opportunity for him.
Ye Qingyu spent the next day at the inn, cultivating and recovering.
On the third day.
It was barely dawn when he could already hear the bustling noises from his window.
The streets that were usually empty are now full of people and it was extremely crowded. There were all kinds of creatures crowding into the city and other than the Human Race, there were also various people from the Demon Race, the Water Race and other races with exotic skin that he had never seen. Some of them carried their burdens on a stick, some carried huge sacks on their backs, some joined forces to carry a huge rack, while others steered carriages driven by dark beasts. It was an extremely colorful and lively scene.
This was just the street in front of the inn, so he could imagine that the other major roads were probably just as crowded.
It was the opening day of the Wanyi Bazaar that was held at the Royal City.
He had asked around yesterday and found out more information about the Wanyi Bazaar.
This was a bazaar that had a history of several centuries and it was only held once every six months. This was the day that the noblemen who resided in the other parts of the Dark Realm, martial artists, and even the lowly Alien Dark Ones were permitted to enter the Central City. They could either trade or purchase the items on sale at the bazaar.
The noblemen who resided at the Central City would also be present.
This was a grand event that the Alien Dark Ones looked forward to and they would swarm into the Central City, carrying their most valuable items for sale, in hopes that they could be traded for items that they needed. After all, almost all the precious items of the entire Dark Realm could be found at the grand bazaar, so they might even come across items that they had always dreamed of, such as materials, herbs, food, jewels, medicinal pills, and even cultivation techniques.
Many living creatures who struggled at the lower rungs of society would treat the Wanyi Bazaar as an opportunity to change their lives.
When the first bell rang, the Wanyi Bazaar opened, along with the cheers from the crowd.
Ye Qingyu was very interested in this event as well.
This was the best opportunity to observe the various other creatures who lived in the Dark Realm. He couldn't miss this chance if he truly wanted to understand the Dark Realm and the Guardians' camp.
Therefore, he appeared at the bazaar soon after it began.
He came alone.
The ten guards stationed at the inn had offered to come along, but he had rejected them. It wouldn't be convenient traveling with these people and with his current abilities, there weren't many people who would be able to make things difficult for him at the Royal City.
The bazaar was very disorganized and there weren't any distinct areas.
Many creatures just sat on the ground and spread out a piece of cloth or drew a circle on the ground, then displayed their goods for sale or trade. They would then loudly peddle their wares, lending this bazaar a primitive vibe.
Ye Qingyu patiently but closely examined his surroundings.
Most of the Alien Dark Ones present were from the Royal City and they were selling very ordinary goods that basically consisted of some fruits, vegetables, or local specialties. The foreign provinces were too far and the journey too fraught with danger, so most Dark Ones would not be able to come to this bazaar. Thus, no one was interested in the items that these Dark Ones were hawking, but they still looked hopefully at each passerby who walked past their stalls, even though it would ultimately still end in disappointment.
The martial artists and noblemen who hailed from the foreign provinces were the ones who sold interesting wares. Besides many regional specialties, they also sold several treasures and rare materials. There were several martial artists who sold their own cultivation techniques, and the blood, flesh, and bones of the dark beasts that they had killed.
Ye Qingyu strolled along the bazaar and would stop to inquire about an item if something caught his eye, and would purchase it after examining it. Thus, by the time it was noontime, he had already purchased quite a few items.
He had also taken a glimpse at a different side of the city.
When it was almost noon, Ye Qingyu was still enjoying himself and was about to look for some place where he could eat when there was a sudden commotion up ahead; all those who were hawking their wares hastily scurried to both sides of the road.
There was the rumbling sound of a carriage passing through.
A fleet of carriages driven by a group of Earth Dragon dark beasts charged into the bazaar and did not even slow down, completely ignoring the overcrowded state of the bazaar, knocking over countless stalls and injuring many Dark Ones in the process as though they didn't exist. The people driving it behaved in an incredibly arrogant and overbearing manner.
"Hey, you lowly creature up ahead, how dare you stand in my way? Get lost! Are you trying to court death?" The man in servant livery yelled from the ornate carriage at the front. He waved his steel whip and hit the Earth Dragon beasts as he yelled at Ye Qingyu who continued to block his path. Then, he flung his whip that moved incredibly quickly, as though he intended to kill Ye Qingyu.
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