Chapter 45: The Multi-Decked Ship
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
Two months later... in the Zhao Zhou Prefecture located in the southern part of the Da Qi Kingdom... on the bank of the river flowing outside the Kai Yang City...
The sky had just started to light-up. Thin and scattered mist was still shrouding the area. Not a soul was in scene near the ferry-crossing. However, people started to gather in groups of twos and threes soon enough. The crowd soon included people who were on foot; their gorgeous clothing had fluttered in air as they walked. There were others who wore coarse clothes, while some had arrived from afar on horses.
Each of these groups consisted of at least one young boy or girl. The elders in most groups looked very dignified. However, the youngsters would look exceptionally excited.
More than 40 people had gathered at the ferry-crossing in about a-quarter-of-an-hour. There were a total of about 15-16 youngster amongst this group.
Surprisingly, only the occasional noise of whispers could be heard despite the increasing number of people. Most of the people were standing quietly.
Moreover, the density of the fog had gotten thicker in the surrounding areas; in fact, there was near-zero visibility.
It soon seemed as if the number of people had started to decrease. Almost no one was visible as time progressed.
Almost everyone had an anxious expression on their face by the time it was noon.
Then, a 'rumbling' sound was heard. It came from the river; however, its source didn't seem very distant. The thick fog started to surge upwards. It seemed as if a number of monsters had rushed out from inside the river.
The spirits of the people at the crossing suddenly rose. They gazed at the scene with their eyes wide-open.
The fog slowly dispersed and a huge ship emerged. The ship consisted of several decks. It was about 20 meters in height and 200 meters in length. The ship slowly made its way towards the ferry-crossing point.
The crowd suddenly became restless. There was sense of excitement on everyone's faces.
The ship came to a halt in the deep-waters about 25 meters away from the departure point of the ferry-crossing. Then, someone emerged from the ship. He seemed to be floating in air; the tip of his toes seemed to be touching the water surface. The person then jumped towards the ferry-crossing point with a 'whooshing' sound.
Everyone started to shout. In fact, every last person was asking their question with a sense of utter excitement, "May I dare to ask if you are the emissary of the Black Turtle Sect?"
"May I know the surname of the emissary? My grandfather was also a disciple of the Black Turtle Sect."
"Can we see the emissary's token?"
"Shut up everyone. Since you're all here... why don't you just show me your recommendations? It's your good fortune that the doors of this Sect have been opened for you. You either board the ship quickly; or you stay here," The person who had jumped ashore was a thirty-year-old man. He was clothed in blue robes. The man was irritated to see the chaotic scene. Hence, he had started to shout at the crowd.
The gathered people were angered when they heard these words. However, they all quieted-down soon.
"Now... that's good! You all have arrived here since the Sect's messengers have inspected your qualifications. You are all eligible to become a lower house's disciple in the least. But, you will need to go through a series of additional tests to know whether you're capable of entering the upper houses of the Sect... Now, the candidates shall come to me with their tokens. Don't be slow and come fast. I have other places to go," the blue-robed man shouted in a rude manner.
The people in the crowd started to look at each other when they heard these words.
A thin and weak-looking teenager was the first one to walk towards him. The rest of the youngsters and elders discussed for some time. They then followed him.
The blue-robed man held a simple copper mirror in his hand. He used it to inspect the candidates. A faint white-light would flicker in the mirror whenever a person was inspected. The intensity of this illumination would vary from candidate to candidate. However, the blue-robed man was least interested in the results of his inspection.
The inspection of those 15-16 youngsters was completed very quickly; they all stood behind the blue-robed man now.
"It seems that there are just these many people..."
The blue-robed man's eyes swept across the crowd; he was about to say something... Suddenly, a faint sound of footsteps emanated from the mist. Then, the silhouette of a person was seen progressing towards the ferry-crossing.
Everyone gazed at the figure as it walked-past everyone.
The youngster was looked about 15 years in age. He was dressed in black robes. This person had dark skin and was exceptionally tall; he almost had the look of an adult. He carried a huge bow on his back, and a blade that was tied to his waist.
The tall teenager had been shocked to see so many people on the ferry-crossing.
The blue-robed man didn't say anything. He just flashed the bronze mirror he held in his hand at the teenager. Suddenly, there was a loud 'pop' sound. Then, a bright light flashed in the sky.
"Why have you come so late?" the blue-robed man grunted as he waved to the black-robed boy.
The black-robed teenager was somewhat confused. He looked at the youngsters who stood behind the blue-robed man. He then asked hesitantly, "Sir, are you a senior member of the Black Turtle Sect?"
"Nonsense! I am not a senior of the Blue Turtle Sect. You come here now," the blue-robed man became impatient. Suddenly, he raised his arms and grabbed the teenager.
The black-robed teenager was alarmed at this. His hand reflexively moved to grab the hilt of the blade that was tied to his waist. However, he something suddenly crossed his mind, and he refrained from pulling-out the blade.
There was a loud 'bang'.
The blue-robed man grasped the teenager's shoulders again. He shook the teenager up and down, and then placed him at his original spot. He then grabbed a seemingly twelve year old girl as well.
He then swung his arms and threw them in the ship's direction despite its distance from the shore.
The girl screamed as they were thrown towards the ship. 'Bang' 'Bang' their feet landed stably on the deck of the ship moments later.
The young girl's face became pale and her legs started to tremble.
However, the black-robed boy just swallowed a cold lump of air.
The blue-robed man seemed ordinary. However, the force with which he had tossed them towards the ship was indeed amazing. The black-robed boy felt that his decision to enter the Black Turtle Sect wasn't wrong.
The black-robed boy was obviously Shi Mu. He had rushed from Quan Zhou Prefecture, and was travel-worn.
Ye Hong Yao had given him a letter and charm that very same day. She had been quick about everything, and had then left with Zhong Xiu. However, she had broken the Fifth Master Jin's ice statue before she left.
Shi Mu hadn't dared to stay in that place, and had left the Yun Xia mountain range. He had later found a place to take refuge and had tended to his injuries for a fortnight. He had then rushed day and night to reach the ferry-crossing at this time.
However, he hadn't burnt the talisman after he saw so many people. Though the blue-robed man was claiming to be from the Black Turtle Sect... But, Shi Mu had felt that something was wrong.
Moreover, he had been thrown to the ship by that huge man before he could even realize what was happening. He was surprised; so much so that he seemed to be suffering from a spell of speechlessness.
The blue-robed man stood on the shore, and kept tossing boys and girls on the floor of the deck; he was practically treating them like sandbags. Then, he sprang from the shore and landed on the floor of the ship.
This command wasn't given by the blue-robed man; it was given by someone who wasn't within their line of sight.
The multi-decked ship swayed as it started to move. It left the vicinity of the ferry-crossing and sailed towards the distant and misty waters.
"Well... now... report your names and the places of your origin. I want to count the number of people and enter the details into the register," the blue-robed man instructed with an expressionless face. He then took out a thick register from the sleeves of his robes.
Zhou means prefecture. But it makes more sense to pair it with prefecture since that's the popular term of reference.