Chapter 530: Fish and Net I
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The millennia old Su City was now in a period of instability. Rumours of the King's passing were hotly discussed amongst the common people. No one knew who started the rumours, but it was now circulating around the city. Sun Sieha's return to the capital yesterday seemed to bring some truth to the rumours. Everything that was happening seemed to be related to this unconfirmed news.
Prince Sun had rushed to the Royal Palace soon after he reached the capital yesterday, and had not left since. The people of Eastern Cloud loved their King, Ze Sieha, father to Prince Sun. Ze's reign was transparent and efficient. Under his rule, the country had prospered and grown stronger, threatening to topple Southern Land's position as the strongest country in the world.
By midday, the Royal Palace finally made an official announcement of the King's passing. The people mourned. Citizens of Su City put whitebell flowers on their person as a sign of grieving. Everywhere on the streets, the people looked mournful, wearing a tiny whitebell flower on their chest.
It was a busy and chaotic day. The new King would ascend the throne on the same day as the former King's passing, as was Eastern Cloud's tradition. There was no dispute on who should inherit the throne, as Sun Sieha was the only Prince and heir. He would lead his people and continue forward.
The people were sad, but they were also hopeful for the future of their country. No one doubted the capabilities of Prince Sun, or rather, His Majesty the King. He was widely respected by those in the army and the government, and also the common people.
Nonetheless, not everyone shared this optimism, especially the older government councillors. The old King was kind and merciful, but the new king was entirely different. He had served in the military when he was young, and even today, still had control over a majority of the country's armies. He was stern and decisive, with very little hesitation for violence and killing. Besides, his ruthlessness was a cause of wariness for the councillors.
After Sun Sieha was crowned King, the instability in Su City gradually dissipated. Su City reverted back to its daily hustle and bustle, unhindered by the sudden change in power, just as the old King had wished for.
On this seemingly ordinary day, a new era of ruling had begun.
Ye Chong wondered the streets of Su City, with Ba Luomeng as his guide. Trailing behind him was his only student, Kristen, and the Level 8 shooter who had been assigned to him, Sha Ya.
Ever since witnessing the fierce battle that day, Kristen behaved like a completely different person in front of Ye Chong. She was obedient and never acted arrogantly in front of Ye Chong again. Ye Chong was unused to her mannerism at first, but since Kristen would be less likely to cause trouble this way, he chose to let her be.
Kristen's quietness, Sha Ya's seriousness and Ye Chong's characteristic indifference made them look like the coldest trio ever existed.
How long had it been since Ba Luomeng acted as a tour guide? He could not recall exactly, but it might be 20 years ago, or was it 30? To ensure that his honoured guests were satisfied, he had even brought along a younger servant, Man, with him. He had not felt like leading the tour himself at first, since he was already quite old, but in the end he could not get over worrying about the guests, and went along with them.
Perhaps because the strict, old butler was with them, Man started off being a little awkward. However, he slowly opened up and spoke with more enthusiasm and humour. Kristen giggled at his antics, narrowing her eyes into a smile. Even the ever serious looking Sha Ya could not help but smiled. Man was just over 20 years old. He had a strong body and a witty character. Growing up in the streets of Su City, he was familiar with its every twist and turn, making him the best tour guide one could hope for.
Ye Chong found something strange about the place. There were rarely any aircrafts in Su City. Upon inquiring, he found out that the area above Su City was restricted airspace. All aircrafts must land or take off at the landing field outside the city. If they entered the city's airspace by mistake, they could well be shot down by the city's aerial defence system.
The first thing to do was to find a place to settle down, only then can Ye Chong plan his future in earnest. He had a rough idea of what to do, but there were many details that he needed to think on. Without Mu/Shang by his side, there was no one else to help him. He must take care of everything himself.
Sun Sieha's former Royal accommodation was not uncomfortable, but Ye Chong thought it safer to find a place of his own.
Ba Luomeng may not be an outstanding tour guide, but his status in the community of nobles and aristocrats was unquestionable. Soon, he was able to gather a list of people who were interested in selling their house or land.
Ba Luomeng did not cross the line of his duties. He only asked Ye Chong for details the property such as house and land size, but not the purpose of his venture.
"I have what you asked for," Ba Luomeng bowed respectfully and reported, "You had asked for a wide piece of land, and a quiet and peaceful environment. There are many manors like these around Su City. There are currently 13 who were interested in selling. Here are the top three. If you think they're not suitable, please wait for a few days as we will have more information by then.
"The first manor is located south of Su City, right beside a river with an excellent view. It belongs to the Count of Sware. Price estimate puts it at around 50 million. It's about a hundred kilometres from Su City. The second manor is located at the border of Su City. The house was built by a sculptor, then sold at a high price to Sir Bikki. It has a rather unique architecture, with a valuation price of about 80 million."
Ba Luomeng took a quick glance at Ye Chong, saw him listening intently, then cleared his throat and continued, "The third one is located to the north of Su City. It is the furthest away, at about 300 kilometers from the capital. The land area for this manor is also the largest. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and is the most affordable of the three. You can purchase it for about 15 ao. Besides, you will also gain ownership of the land around the manor, which is about 25 square kilometres in area."
Good views, pleasant architecture and the like did not interest Ye Chong. In the end, he chose the third one. Being the furthest from Su City, it would also allow him to stay as far away from the complicated place as possible.
From the books he read, he understood that the capital would always be complicated. He was not weak and helpless now, but he still needed time to figure out ways to fight against his enemies.
From the games that he had played with Mu/Shang, Ye Chong learned that if he stood out before making sure he had the strength to back his play, failure would be a very likely outcome. Instead of doing that, he should focus on lying low and finding more effective ways to best his enemies.
Once, Ye Chong had fought in a very straightforward and simple manner. With his superior combat skills and Mu/Shang as his backup, he had managed to survive more than a few close calls.
As Ye Chong grew more experienced, he became more appreciative of strategizing. The one event that truly convinced him of this was when he had to lead his fleet to survival. Whether it was in real life situations or in the game that Ye Chong played with Mu/Shang, he had to force himself to change his methods. One would always grow fastest when through actual experience.
There must always be room for change. Ye Chong did not have a rigid mindset. He had realized that there could be easier ways to tackle the same problem. This realization helped him a lot. Whenever he was facing a problem, he would always ask himself if there was a better solution to it.
Nevertheless, despite his continuous personal growth, Ye Chong's innate personality made him inclined towards more aggressive methods.
When Sun Sieha finished with Ba Luomeng's report, he broke into a smile. He immediately gave the order for Ba Luomeng to assist with Ye Chong's purchase.
"Now this is definitely not on me, it's all your doing," Sun Sieha thought to himself. He had been vexed by the problem of controlling Ye Chong, but now he just felt like laughing out loud. Behind him, a map laid open, showing the location of Ye Chong's manor of choice. Close beside it was a marking that represented a military camp.
Ba Luomeng received his orders from Sun Sieha and worked even more cautiously. He had only been giving a routine report to the King. He could understand how busy His Majesty must be right now, newly ascended to the throne, with many important matters to see to. Hence, when Ba Luomeng received a direct order from Sun Sieha , he was very much surprised.
"See to it immediately." The order was simple, but as a long time servant of Sun Sieha, Ba Luomang could tell that His Majesty placed great importance in this matter.
Once again, he was struck by curiosity of the honoured guest. Who was he, to warrant so much attention from the King?
Ba Luomeng worked efficiently. He completed all the necessary paperwork for Ye Chong's purchase on that day itself.
As the actual buyer of the manor, Ye Chong could appreciate deeply how very much more expensive the manor was compared to houses in Yedda City. Fortunately, the deal included the 25 square kilometres of land around the manor.
The owner's gratefulness having completed the transaction seemed a little odd to Ye Chong.
All of this was too unfamiliar to him. He could barely understand how a transaction worked. Besides, Ba Luomeng's demonstrated expertise convinced Ye Chong that he should just let the butler deal with the matter.
Now that he owned a house of his own, Ye Chong did not want to stay in Sun Sieha's place any longer. He, Kristen, Sha Ya and the manor's former owner bid farewell to Ba Luomeng and flew off to the property of interest.
Since he could not use Celest, Ye Chong had to fly with Sha Ya in her fighter once again. Kristen had her own fighter, but it was far inferior compared to Sha Ya's fighter.
This was also Ye Chong's first time seeing the landing field. The field was almost as large as an entire city. It was split into many different sections, which were used for landing or take-off. All round the landing field were rows of storehouses used to store the aircrafts. When shooters landed on the field, they would hand over their aircrafts to the landing field staff to store them, and retrieve the aircrafts themselves later.
Some rich families would even build their own miniature landing field in their own backyards.
Soon, Ye Chong found the manor he had purchased. Once he was here, he realized how large it actually was. The manor itself was about 15 square kilometres wide, built along the slope of a mountain, giving it an air of magnificence. Together with the land around it, the total land area was close to 40 square kilometres. As long as he was not building a large warship, the space was enough for him to do as he pleased.
There was a small landing field in the manor, which could accommodate up to 100 aircrafts. When they arrived at the place, the servants had already gathered by the landing field to welcome them.
Both buyer and seller finalized the transaction swiftly.
"Do you need them?" The former owner of the manor was a businessman. He pointed at the servants and asked Ye Chong respectfully. He would not dare to be rude towards this young man, since the official witness of their transaction was the former butler of His Majesty the King.
"No," Ye Chong shook his head.
The businessman nodded, "I understand." He had expected this. A man of his stature would not deign to hire his servants. The higher a person was up the social ladder, the higher the requirement for their servants.
The matter of servants had never crossed Ye Chong's mind. He did not plan to hire any housekeepers here. Soon, all the servants were sent away by the former manor owner. As the businessman took his leave, the manor now lay huge and empty, like a lifeless palace.
Kristen and Sha Ya exchanged looks of bafflement. They did not understand what Ye Chong was thinking.
Du Feng was inspecting his soldiers in training. He walked past each of them with precise, measured steps. His eyes were sharp. None of the soldiers dared to look into them. His parapsychic sense covered the entire training ground, so that he would know if anyone was lazing around.
He was the highest ranking officer in this military camp, but he did not like to watch his soldiers from high above, in his office. Instead, he preferred to walk under the sun and monitor his soldiers up close.
Du Feng had a stern face that commanded respect. All the soldiers here respected and feared him, except for one - his second in command, Li Gui.
Li Gui was an easygoing man. He could chat up almost anyone, and was close to the soldiers in the camp. Li Gui had a close relationship with Du Feng. They had met each other during their freshman bootcamp. Later, they had fought side by side through numerous battles. Their friendship had strengthened because of their shared history.
"Old Du, Old Du, come here!" Li Gui waved at Du Feng from a shaded corner of the camp.
Du Feng took a sweeping glance at his new soldiers, and gave some orders to the training officer before heading towards Li Gui. Since he suffered a particularly heavy injury some time ago, Li Gui's health never fully recovered. Hence, he had moved to a more secretarial position, working for Du Feng.
Du Feng never acted like he was Li Gui's superior.
He walked to the shaded corner and felt refreshed. He sat down heavily beside Li Gui and said, "I say, Gui, it's a very hot day today, why'd you come out all the here? Careful that you don't go down on of a heatstroke, or your siblings will come bother me again."
"Come on, don't you tease me just because my body ain't what it used to be two years ago. Don't forget who could wipe the floor with your *ss once upon a time," Li Gui looked at Du Feng with mock disdain.
Du Feng laughed dryly, "Look at you, so sensitive, I was only joking." Indeed, Li Gui was once much stronger than Du Feng, but his physical condition had declined sharply ever since his injury.
Li Gui nodded towards the training ground and asked, "How's the new batch?"
When it came to military matters, Du Feng turned serious. He replied with a look of concern, "They're barely passable. I've found a huge problem with them."
"What is it?" Li Gui asked.
"All the new soldiers in this batch have reached Level 4 in parapsychic control, but their physical condition is deplorable. Some of them would even faint because of standing under the sun for too long," Du Feng said with a stern face.
"Well, that is a problem," Li Gui nodded in agreement. This was a common issue with shooters in general. Shooters often focused on training their parapsychic sense, but not on their physique. This was especially obvious when screening for new soldiers. There were no requirements on the physical fitness of new recruits, as long as their parapsychic control was at least level 4. The problem of physical fitness was a long enduring one. Li Gui was one of its casualties. He was never particularly strong physically, so his injury had caused his abilities to decline sharply.
"What do you plan to do?" Li Gui asked.
Du Feng looked helpless. "What can I do? These freshies will have to be toughened up. I have to say, thought, these freshies like to complain about physical training, hehe."
"Poor fellows," Li Gui watched sympathetically at the new recruits carrying out their training.
"It has to be done. Better to suffer a bit now than to lose their lives later," Du Feng commented, all pragmatism.
"Yeah," Li Gui agreed with him. As soldiers who had been through actual war, they both knew it for a fact. Suddenly, Li Gui remembered something and muttered, annoyed, "All this chatting, and I've nearly forgotten about something important."
"What is it?" Du Feng asked, curious.
Li Gui said, "You probably haven't heard of it, but the nearby manor's changed hands."
"Changed hands? Who's the new owner now?" Du Feng asked with interest, "Heh, that guy's probably had enough of us and finally sold off his manor. I wonder which unlucky b*stard bought the place. Not that I'm ridiculing them, but that place, it's quite suitable to build a military camp there, don't you think? Why build a manor? However, it's been quite a convenience for us too. Thanks to your idea of using that place for drilling exercises, we've saved quite a lot of expenses. Now that there's a new owner in the house, I wonder who they are, where they come from, have you figure them out?"
Li Gui shook his head and replied, "No, but I heard that there are only three of them."
"Three? That can't be right," Du Feng said in disbelief, "That place is worth at least 10 million ao, who would spend that much money just to come here and suffer? I know rich people, they all like to enjoy themselves. What's there to do here for those three? Spending 10 million for a place in the middle of nowhere is just ridiculous."
"I haven't got the details yet, it sure feels like a strange deal. I think we should stay off their backs first, who knows if they're related to someone high up? That businessman last time didn't have any backing, that's why he never so much as squeaked. These three, though, we should look into them first," Li Gui suggested.
"No way!" Du Feng panicked, "The drilling sessions are all planned out. We're not expanding the camp just yet, where else can we go for practise drills?" Li Gui and Du Feng had always arranged for drilling exercises to be held at the manor since there were more buildings there, and because the surroundings were more realistic. They had conducted a few nighttime infiltration exercises and counter infiltration exercises at that place with good results. Hence, Du Feng was adamant to make it their official training ground.
The former owner of the manor was only a normal businessman, who could not do anything against the arrogant and intimidating soldiers. Besides, the only problem the businessman would have was a lack of good sleep. There were never missing items, and no one was ever hurt in the manor. Hence, the former owner had refrained from complaining.
"Why don't we get Lil' San to have a look? Guy knows people like no one's business, especially the nobles and aristocrats. If they're really from upper society, he would recognize them," Li Gui suggested after some thought. This Lil' San that Li Gui mentioned was born a noble. He was sent to the military by his family because of his frequent wild adventures outdoors.
"Alright! Let's do that!" Du Feng agreed immediately. He marched quickly towards the training ground and yelled out loud, "Ren San, fall out!"
A small and cunning looking man left his formation and followed Du Feng to meet Li Gui. Li Gui whispered by his ear as Ren San nodded occasionally, his eyes looking around eagerly.
After a moment, he left the military camp under the jealous looks of his fellow military comrades.