Chapter 23: Everyone’s Turning Point

Cang Xu walked through the darkness.

The only light was suspended ahead, attracting Cang Xu forward.

It was a hanging lamp, and its dusky yellow light shone like a cone onto a small patch of space.

Cang Xu entered the light, exposing his young face.

Within the light, there was a large desk. A person sat behind the desk.

This person’s face was obscured by the darkness and their tall obese was squeezed into the seat that stretched to the edge of the yellow light. On the desk, his fat hand had large rings of gold and gemstones around all five fingers, giving an aura of wealth. 

Cang Xu was uncomfortable as nervousness mixed with excitement, “Esteemed Lord Knight Tang De, greetings.”

The sitting man opened his mouth, “Cang Xu, although 20 gold coins is not much to me, to you it is a huge investment. What is your intention in spending so much to meet me late at night?”

Cang Xu took in a breath, “My Lord, you are a little incorrect. 20 gold coins is still useful to you. After all, you still need to cover your debt, no?”

“Eh?” The sitting Tang De was instantly enraged, his scarlet gaze could be seen in the darkness, it was filled with brutality and killing intent. “Do you want to court death?”

“My Lord!” Cang Xu immediately bowed his head, “I am only a mortal. Like the imperial east says, my hand cannot even hold a chicken. If you wanted to, you could kill me at any time. Furthermore, in this hidden place, no one will know. Therefore, you could easily hide my corpse and any traces remaining.”

“My Lord, I have obviously not come with ill intent. Who alive wants to die? I want to live, I want a better life!”

“Oh?” The scarlet gaze in the darkness dwindled somewhat.  “I understand. The third steward position is vacant, do you want to take it?”

Before the young Cang Xu could reply, Tang De sneered, “Hehe, based on what?”

“The lowest cultivation a steward can have is the bronze level. You are an ordinary man, you have no qualifications.”

Cang Xu raised his head, his eyes showing his perseverance and thirst for glory, “It is precisely because I am unqualified that I sought you. You are in a predicament, not because of uncovered corruption, but instead because the Third Lady, the Second Lady, as well as Baron Jin Dou have joined together politically. I can give you something that can break this quagmire.”

Tang De sneered again, “Eh? You are a minor bookkeeper, yet you dare speak of politics?”

Cang Xu replied, “I have also lived here for five years. My Lord, I have braved the risk of death to find you, what harm is there in listening to me?”

Tang De was silent for a moment, then said, “Speak then.”

Cang Xu let his mouth go, he had thought of what to say countless times.

However, unlike what he had envisioned, Knight Tang De was noncommittal, and was muttering to himself.

As time passed, Cang Xu’s complexion gradually waned, and his mood grew more restless and tense.

But he felt no remorse.

Those five years had given him an inside understanding of how the Sha Ta clan’s political situation was.

He saw an opportunity.

And he was willing to brave the dangers to seize this opportunity.

“Interesting.”  Tang De said after muttering to himself for a good while.

Instead of accepting or denying Cang Xu’s proposal, he instead changed the subject.

“Over by Setting Sun Cliff there is a village in rebellion, they have killed the tax collector.”

“I am responsible for that region.”

“As you said, I am short on money!”

“I I don’t want to make a big deal of this affair, thus you shall levy the taxes.”

“If you succeed and bring back the taxes, I will nominate you to the position of third steward.”

Cang Xu was ecstatic, “I shall…”

As he replied, he suddenly felt a trying headache.

The muddled yellow light was quickly washed away, and blurred darkness was agitated like a sheet of ink.

Cang Xu felt he was being sucked into a whirlpool, always trapped in a dizzying spell.

Head heavy, he opened his eyes and noticed he was lying in his bed.

He looked around, and saw the lines of the treatment magic formations.

He slowly thought back, “That’s right, this is the Deep Sea Monster Fish. I used up my spirit power to construct the Deceptive Disguise formation.”

“How is the situation currently?”

“How long was I out?”

Cang Xu struggled to rise, but a moment later, he had an intense bout of dizziness.

He promptly inspected himself, finding his body was in good condition, however his spirit power was dry, only scants of it remained.

“I still need to rest.”

“It’s a pity I don’t have spirit healing medicine…”

After understanding this, Cang Xu did not insist on getting up and instead closed his eyes gain.

In the heaviness of sleep, the sense of pain followed like a shadow.

A dusky jail cell.

A young Cang Xu was bound to a cross, his body filled with the signs of torture, blood was dripping, and wounds covered his body.

“Will…this be where I die?” Fear occupied Cang Xu’s heart.

Several blue-faced villagers were facing him, conversing with malicious intent.

“What did you interrogate from him?”

“He is an ordinary man, a noble’s dog!”

“We should just kill him, we’re wasting time.”

“No! I am a necromancer, I won’t die!” Cang Xu thought as he gritted his teeth.

The villagers reached a consensus, as one approached Cang Xu with a dagger.

The dagger was pointed at Cang Xu’s chest.

Fear and panic engulfed Cang Xu’s heart like the tide.

“My body was changed by necromancy, it is between life and death. It can pretend to be fully alive, but this too comes with its own problems.”

“If my heart is destroyed, I will still die!”

“I cannot die here.”

I braved dangers to have an audience with Knight Tang De so I could become the third steward.

“I had a friend in the village near Setting Sun Cliff.

“But I haven’t seen them at all. Just as I entered the village, I was bound, beaten and interrogated.”

“I spoke my friend’s name, tried to befriend them, but these villagers are stubborn. This is ridiculous!”

“They killed the tax collector, because the taxes were too high. Are they not worried that the army will annihilate them if they kill me too? Does the entire village not want to live?” 

Suddenly in that moment, a flash of inspiration hit Cang Xu.

A possible guess now floated in his mind.

He thought of the long time when Knight Tang De was muttering to himself, something quite suspicious.

“That knight had a queer mood.”

“I, I understand. He was worried that I was a spy from one of his political opponents. This test, this test was aimed at me!”

“These villagers are all ordinary people, but there might be others hiding here.”

“If I kill them, and expose that I am a necromancer, I cannot escape.”

“But If I don’t kill them, they’ll kill me!”

“Damm it.”

“This is all just my speculations.”

“What is the truth actually?”

“Perhaps I am overthinking things?”

The dagger drawing near his heart caused Cang Xu’s face to twist as cold sweat dripped from it.

“You’re going to die, do you have any last words?” The villager holder the dagger sneered.

“Hehehe!” Cang Xu suddenly laughed.

The laughter caused the villagers to stare, they were perplexed.

Cang Xu said, “If I die, you all will too.  If you kill two tax collectors, your entire village will be done for.”

“Hmph!” The villager roared, “We aren’t rebelling, and these dammed taxes are hounding us to death! At worst, we will die together!”

“You don’t need to die, Knight Tang Ge has sent me. Although taxes are levied, it has already been reduced by a lot. After you pay the tax, you will still have enough food to keep on living!” Said Cang Xu.

The villagers stared blankly.

“Why didn’t you say that earlier?”

“I don’t believe him, he’s obviously lying. Tang De is a fat greedy swine, why would he lower taxes?”

“He’s afraid of dying, therefore he wants to deceive us!”

Cang Xu coldly snorted and attacked back with visible hatred, “Then raise your hand, come, kill me, stab my heart.”

“We will go into the underworld together!”

The villagers hesitated again.

Who wanted to die?

The villagers were naturally also scared of being annihilated by the army.

Cang Xu’s words gave the villagers hope.

Thus, the turning point arrived.

The villagers of Stone Egg Island were like this too.

They were slaughtered by the pirate, Da Zhao, captured, imprisoned, and were treated as slaves to be sold.

But now, they were being roused from their slumber on a ship deck.

“I am called Long Fu, a bounty hunter. I and my comrade have eliminated Da Zhao’s pirate group and saved you.” The dragonman youngster stood on the highest point of the ship deck, overlooking the villagers below him.

“We have killed most of the pirates. Of course, we also took some of them captive.”

The villagers were stupefied.

“Bring them up.” The dragonman youngster ordered.

Tripleblade and Lan Zao approached with a group of rope bound pirates.

The villagers’ expressions changed, fury flooded their faces as the sight completely woke them up. They began to accost them roundly, with some even wanting to beat them. 

But a moment later, Zong Ge cut a captive pirate in two with his blade.

Blood splattered out as the cleaved corpse collapsed to the ground, their viscera and intestines flowing outwards.

The captive pirates began to weep for forgiveness, while the indignant villagers watched in awe.

Zong Ge coldly snorted, “You will call me Lord Shi Qi. What were you lot thinking of doing? We are bounty hunters, these captives are our property. Do you think you can tell us what to do with our property?”

Despite being disguised, Zong Ge was still tall and sturdy, with tiger eyes that made the villagers go white when they swept over them.

Zong Ge continued to yell, “Not only them, you all were also saved by us. How should the grace of your saviors be repaid?”

The villagers grew terrified upon thoroughly understanding their new situation.

At this time, the dragonman youngster opened his mouth, using a soothing tone instead, “Don’t be nervous everyone, we are not pirates.”

“We are stronger than them and have no enmity with you.”

“We only want some remuneration, I think everyone understands.”

Some women began to sob spasmodically, “Kind Lords, we are already destitute and homeless, they stole everything. What money is there to redeem ourselves?”

“Don’t worry.” The dragonman youngster laughed, “I will allow you to work to redeem your freedom.”

“You all cam see that we have just snatched six pirate ships.”

“We are few, and cannot sail so many.”

“From now on, you shall join us and become these ships’ sailors. When your contribute to our satisfaction, I promise you that you will be free to leave or stay!”

The villagers looked at each other in dismay as they began to discuss with each other.

The chatter between them grew more and more.

Soon after, a youngling had the courage to ask, “Lord Long Fu, are we going to be pirates?”

“Of course not.” The dragonman youngster stated without the slightest hesitation, “With these ships, we can trade, serve as imperial transports, and even attack other pirates.”

“Oh right.”

The dragonman youngster paused, then beckoned with a wave.

Shan Que came out from the boathouse, a baby in her arms.

The infant was the one the dragonman youngster rescued from Stone Egg Island.

“We went to Stone Egg Island, and found this child in a hole in a well wall. Does anyone know…”

Before the youngster could finish speaking, a mournful exclamation interrupted him.

“My child, my child!” A woman rushed out from the crowd.

After verifying her, mother and child were reunited. The woman happily sobbed and embraced her child, then kowtowed to the dragonman youngster in thanks.

The young man gently helped her stand.

This event caused the villagers to regard the youngster differently.

The first traces of trust were formed.

“My Lord.” A villager came up to ask, “How much do we need to contribute in order to leave?”

Soon after, other such questions arose.

The dragonman youngster smiled and answered them one after the other.