Chapter 185: Brothers
During the journey to Rock Desert City, Xue Lan had make some subtle inquiries in order to confirm Xiao Yan's identity but each time, she would be vaguely handled by Xiao Yan. Regarding this, she could only helplessly glare at him.
Although Xiao Yan did not admit it himself, after Xue Lan's careful and detailed observation of his appearance, a certainty appeared in her heart. The young male Dou Shi in front of her was definitely the strange younger brother Xiao Ding and Xiao Li ahd talked about, Xiao Yan!
After becoming certain of Xiao Yan's identity, the gaze Xue Lan gave Xiao Yan had a little less caution and more smiles and gentleness.
While they chatted along the way, the outline of the huge city that sat outside the eastern region of the Tager Desert also faintly appeared within the the group's sight.
Seeing the Rock Desert City closeby, Xue Lan and the others heaved a long sigh. Even the smile on Xiao Yan's face widened. Having spent over ten days walking and enduring tough training in the desert, his spirit was also a little tired. Now that he had a place to rest, it was natural that he was a little excited.
Under the happy cheers of everyone, Xiao Yan and the rest of the group slowly arrived at the city's entrance and swarmed into it.
Compared to the cities in the inner regions of the empire, the cities in the desert were simpler and dignified. Perhaps it was because it was near the Tager Desert that the defenses here were much tighter than the cities in the inner regions of the empire. Within the city one could see fully armed soldiers patrolling all around.
After entering the city, Xiao Yan followed Xue Lan and her group as they headed toward the south. They passed through a few streets until a compound that was similar in size to the huge compound the Xiao Clan occupied in Wu Tan City appeared in their sight.
On the top of the compound, there was a flag that was swaying with the wind where the words 'Desert Metal Mercenary Company' were written in a big font. The drawing on the flag also faintly emitted the firm atmosphere of blood and guts.
At the entrance, a few fierce large men were carrying weapons in their hands and stood as still and straight as a pen. Their sharp gazes swept back and forth on the people walking past the compound. From the faint scent of blood that they emitted, it appeared that they were men of iron will that had really survived at the edge of a blade. Those novices who simply carried a weapon by their waist and thought they were mercenaries could not be compared to them.
"In this Rock Desert City, our Desert Metal Mercenary Company's strength could be ranked among the top three. Only the Sand Mercenary Company can surpass us. Their Company Leader is a Da Dou Shi, thus the position of the Sand Mercenary Company cannot be shaken. Other than the Sand Mercenary Company, only the Storm Mercenary Company can barely compare with us in the entire Rock Desert City." Walking toward the huge compound, Xue Lan smiled and explained to Xiao Yan by her side. Her smile contained a little pride.
Xiao Yan smiled and nodded his head; he was a little surprised in his heart. In just a few short years, his eldest brother and second brother had built quite a strong power in this foreign place. This was something he could not help but admire. At the very least, he knew in his heart that if it was up to him, he would not be able to achieve this kind of success. "Big brother has always been smarter than others. Even Father had always praised him. Second Brother is careful and vicious. He is always sly when doing things while his methods are ruthless. With them working together and adding their outstanding training talent, they are really a perfect pair. No wonder they would achieve such success..." Xiao Yan's mind recalled the praise his father had showered on his two older brothers and could not help but laugh in his heart.
"Xue Lan. Are you alright? The one who came back earlier said that you were ambushed by Snake-People?" When they arrived at the compound, one of the large men at the entrance came forward and asked Xue Lan with a smile.
"We're fine." Carelessly waving her hand, Xue Lan smiled and inquired, "Are the two Company Leaders in?"
"Yes, they are both in." The large man smiled and nodded. His gaze swept across Xiao Yan by the side and finally paused on his face. He could not help but laugh, "Ever since they knew about this little brother's name, the two Company Leaders became so excited that they could not sit still... Haha, it is very rare to see the usually cool and steady Company Leaders be so happy that they forget themselves."
Xiao Yan smiled slightly while a warmth flowed in his heart. He gave the large man a friendly nod before following Xue Lan who was covering her mouth and laughing to herself as she entered the courtyard.
Following behind Xue Lan, Xiao Yan passed through a few small paths. During the walk, they met quite a number of Desert Metal Mercenary Company members. When they met Xiao Yan, a shocked expression would surface on their faces and they would begin whispering among themselves.
"haha. The two Company Leaders frequently talk about you. It looks like the person who came back earlier has already publicized you." Seeing the surrounding mercenaries' expressions, Xue Lan tilted her head and sweetly said.
Xiao Yan smiled bitterly and nodded. It appeared that she had guessed his relationship with his two brothers.
After following Xue Lan and passing through another small path, a spacious hall appeared in front of them. Standing outside the hall, Xiao Yan could hear two familiar men's voices being emitted from within. His face suddenly felt a little sour. They were different from Xiao Ning and the others in the clan. In this world, Xiao Ding and Xiao Li were his true brothers who were related to him by blood. Regardless of how calm Xiao Yan's character was, blood was thicker than water. He could not help but become agitated and forget himself...
Taking in a deep breath, Xiao Yan smiled apologetically to Xue Lan by his side. After which, he slowly walked to the door. He was about to push it open and enter when the door was pulled open with a crunching sound.
When the door was pulled open, a face of a young man who appeared similar to Xiao Yan's suddenly appeared.
The young man was wearing a mercenary uniform; his tall figure was straight and strong. Those dark black eyes of his contained laziness and cold sternness. On his face, his smile was overflowing. However, under it hid a faint fierceness and viciousness. Clearly, this young man might appear good natured but he was the type of person who did not offend others when others did not offend him. If someone offended him, he was the fierce type who would strike back even if he was dying.
The young man who opened the door stared at the youth outside. He was surprised for a moment as his body hardened. The smile on his face that hid a viciousness suddenly disappeared. A brilliant and warm smile, that was rarely seen surfaced on the young man's face, appeared there now.
Watching the warm smile of the young man, the tip of Xiao Yan's nose turned a little red. His eyes could not help but become a little moist. Back when they were at the clan, even when he had turned into a 'cripple', the young man in front of Xiao Yan had continued to carefully protect Xiao Yan's remaining pride. He was like a vicious wolf who bit any clan members who dared mock Xiao Yan until they were badly injured. After doing so, he did not forget to smile and comfort Xiao Yan's desolated self while wearing the scars from being punished by the clan.
"Second Brother..." Wiping the tears from his eyes, Xiao Yan stared at the young man in front of him and shouted in a trembling voice.
"Hahahahaha... Xiao-Yan-Zi, you have really come. Ha ha." Seeing the youthful manner, the young man opened his mouth and laughed foolishly. After which, he took a step forwards and gave Xiao Yan a fierce hug. He heavily patted Xiao Yan's shoulders while his voice was filled with joy and agitation.
TL: Please note that Xiao-Yan-Zi is a nickname for Xiao Yan but the Xiao here means small while Xiao Yan's Xiao is like a name.
Xiao-Yan-Zi, the intimate form of address from when he was young, caused Xiao Yan to smile slightly. Without anyone noticing, he wiped the tears from his eyes and bitterly laughed, "Second Brother, do you want to pat me to death?"
"Little guy, not bad... has the strange problem in your body been solved?" Xiao Li smiled and released Xiao Yan. He patted the latter's shoulders and swept his gaze around Xiao Yan as he happily asked.
"Yes." Xiao Yan nodded his head.
"Go, let's go and take a look at Big Brother first. He has been waiting for quite a while." As he spoke, he grabbed Xiao Yan, turned around and rushed into the hall without having the time to greet Xue Lan by who was by Xiao Yan's side.
Entering the hall, Xiao Yan's gaze shifted to the young man seated on the leader's seat. He was wearing a white robe and was smiling as he watched Xiao Yan enter the room. His eyes which were brighter than ordinary people's carried a wisdom and slyness that was difficult to detect.
"Xiao-Yan-Zi, I haven't seen you in a few years. You have really grown up." The white dressed young man gradually stood up and stared at the youth whose height was comparable to Xiao Li. There was a doting and gentle feeling in his eyes as he smiled.
"Big Brother." Xiao Yan took in a deep breath. He suppressed the waves in his heart. The expression on his face was gradually becoming as calm as the white dressed young man. He smiled and said, "Big Brother is also becoming more and more handsome."
Seeing that Xiao Yan could easily suppress the emotion in his heart, a look of surprise flashed across the face of the white dressed young man. He nodded and praised, "Little boy, looks like you have experienced a lot after we left. This kind of mental strength is something that even your Second Brother may not be able to compare with."
"That kind of atmosphere may be very uncomfortable but without that environment, I may really have had difficulty reaching this stage today." Xiao Yan waved his hand and smiled.
"Ke ke, it is naturally good that you are able to arrive at where you are today. Your Second Brother had been blaming me for not taking you with us back then. But after travelling through the Jia Ma Empire for that period of time, both of us nearly lost our lives. Had we brought you along, wouldn't we have ended up harming you? By staying in the clan, at the very least, Father would be able to take care of you..." Xiao Ding smiled and said.
"Alright, alright. It's so difficult for us to see each other so let's stop talking about the disheartening things of the past. Luckily nothing happened to Xiao-Yan-Zi, otherwise when I return in the future, I would definitely teach those little bastards a good lesson!" Xiao Li waved his hand and said.
"Haha, alright, let's not talk about those disheartening things." Xiao Ding smiled, shifted his gaze to Xiao Yan and laughed, "Little boy, based on the report I heard from the mercenary who returned, your strength seems to have reached the Dou Shi level?"
Hearing this, Xiao Li beside Xiao Yan stared at Xiao Yan with a surprised face. He recalled that when he left back then, Xiao Yan had been alternating between the third and fourth stage Dou Zhi Li. Within this short three to four years, he was actually about to catch up to the both of them?"
"Yes, while training not long ago, I was promoted to a Dou Shi."
"Tsk tsk, how outstanding. This kind of training speed is something that even your peak when you were young couldn't compare to." Seeing Xiao Yan nod his head, Xiao Ding and Xiao Li could not help but exclaim.
"Hehe, I have no choice but to train hard. After all, the Three Year deadline is drawing near..." Xiao Yan shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
"Three Year deadline?" Xiao Ding and Xiao Li stilled momentarily. A short while later, Xiao Li gradually withdrew the smile on his face. His voice was sinister and vicious as he said, "I heard that Nalan Yanran from the Nalan clan had gone to the Xiao Clan to force Father to end the engagement?"
"They have really gone too far..." Xiao Ding smiled blandly. In his smile, there was a little coldness. With the current strength of the Desert Metal Mercenary Company, it was really not possible to fight with the Misty Cloud Sect. But he was a person who had always knew how to endure. After coming out and polishing himself for so many years, his endurance had already reached perfection. In the Rock Desert City, the names of the cunning fox Xiao Ding and the vicious wolf Xiao Li would leave their opponents extremely worried.
"Haha, I will take care of these things. Big Brother, Second Brother, you can be at ease and concentrate on developing your strength. In the future, I might end up offending someone important and would need to rely on the both of you to protect my life..." Xiao Yan shook his head and teased with a smile playing across his lips.
Xiao Ding and Xiao Li exchanged glances with one another. Smiles surfaced on their faces as they said softly, "Regardless of what happens in the future, you only need to remember that we are brothers. Back then, when your Second Brother and I created this Desert Metal Mercenary Company, both of us were thinking of building a safe place for you to stay in the future... but looking at the situation now, it appears that you no longer need our protection."
Xiao Yan smiled involuntarily, his smile was filled with feelings of warmth.