Chapter - 16: Provocation
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With a humble, yet serious, expression, Wu Qi placed his hands behind his back, examining the men behind Yi Yan. With the exception of Lu Chengfeng, who was to be the new General, standing beside Yi Yan were the three most important officers in Little Meng City: the Director of Records, The Director of Internal Affairs, and The Director of Security. According to the law of the Great Yan Dynasty, who was the overlord of the Lu Kingdom, the task of the Mayor is to oversee everything in the city. The General is to handle everything related to the army. The Director of Records is in charge of supervising and recording the behaviors of all government officers. The Director of Internal Affairs is in charge of the economy and production. And the Director of Security is in charge of the handling crimes and the safety of the city. These four officers would report to the Mayor, but the Mayor can’t interfere with their responsibilities. The rigidness and completeness of this system even allows them to supervise each other. Little Meng City was located in a remote area which was surrounded by a vast virgin forest and mountain, however, because it can produce a lot of raw materials and minerals, these officers had been milking their fortune here. Wu Qi had seen how many precious items that Yi Yan was wearing, but, the Director of Records, the Director of Internal Affairs, and the Director of Security were also wearing a lot of gemstones and jewels on them. Like he was looking at a very attractive woman, Wu Qi kept eyeing the men surrounding Yi Yan, then he found more good stuff that he can ‘acquire’. He kept rubbing his palms behind his back, while his fingers were trembling with excitement. It is broad daylight, so it is not the best time for him to steal from them. He would need to wait.  As the Mayor of the city, Yi Yan introduced those officers followed behind him to Lu Chengfeng. After listened to Yi Yan’s introduction, Wu Qi’s lips curved up, The Director of Records, the Director of Inter Affairs, and the Director of Security were all from the Yi family. They must be following Yi Yan here to make their fortune. As Yi Yan introduced each officer, they stepped forward to greet Lu Chengfeng. Although the General is an important position, it doesn’t deserve such respectful treatment. What’s made Yi Yan come all the way to the city gate to welcome Lu Chengfeng is that he is the eldest son of the Lu Family from Liyang. As for the rest of the government officers, they came here for the same reason. After some introductions and a speech that made Wu Qi want to fall asleep, Yi Yan held Lu Chengfeng’s hand intimately and brought him to the Mayor’s Mansion located in the middle of the city. All of the other officers surrounded both men, laughing and joking all the way, as if the entirety of Little Meng City was welcoming the new General, Lu Chengfeng. Wu Qi followed beside Lu Chengfeng, examining Little Meng City while they walked to the Mayor’s Mansion. The road to the city was properly built with the limestone from the mountain. There was a three foot wide ditch alongside the road, where clear water flowed. It seems the sanitation in the city is pretty well-taken care. Beside the road were brick and mortar restaurants, shops, hotels, and residences with a uniform green roof. None of them exceeded three stories height. On this wide road, push carts, fully packed with beast skins, herbs, and minerals, come and go. Behind these push carts are some strong and tall men, wearing flexible armor and carrying sharp blades. From their fierce bearings, one can easily tell they were good fighters that had gone through life and death. The restaurants, shops, and hotels were mostly patronized by rude men, who would draw their blades just because some stranger looked at them the wrong way. Sometimes, women, who wore in sexy and seductive clothes, would appear at these places, flirting and joking with these rude men. Out of Wu Qi’s expectations, Little Meng City was actually quite prosperous. However, this prosperity was accompanied by a rude and brutal aura. This really makes one feel odd, however, after taking a few more breaths, Wu Qi decided he really liked the feel of this city. When carriages and pedestrians on the road saw Wu Qi’s group coming, they all moved to the side of the road and made way for them. In a wild place like Little Meng City, Yi Yan represented the law, he represented the most prominent power within this area, and no one dared to step on the dignity of the Mayor. From time to time, city guards, who were wearing in black cloth and armor, would pass by, when they saw the group, they immediately move to the roadside and bow to them. Wu Qi took a glimpse at them and found out they were weaker than the soldier from the third battalion of Heavenly Group, who were now stationed in Meng village. No matter their cultivation level or their spirit, they like phonies in comparison. After following the main road into the city for around three miles, a magnificent and grand mansion came in sight. The mansion was at least a mile in circumference and had a thick wall built at its perimeter. The wall was much better than the city walls of Little Meng Village, it was built from hard rock, five feet tall, three feet thick, and at least ten times stronger than the Little Meng City. Vigorous and energetic guards with good quality armor were patrolling on top of the wall, making sure no intruders pass. Comparing to the soldiers who were guarding at the City Gate of Little Meng City, the soldiers here were the elite, and those at City Gate were just rubbish. With a proud smile on his face, Yi Yan pointed at the mansion and said, “General Lu, this is the Mayor Mansion, it is the place where we live and work.” Lu Chengfeng stared at this small-sized castle, feeling amazing, and asked, “Oh? The office for Mayor, General, Director of Records, Director of Internal Affairs, and Director of Security are all here?” Yi Yan patted his stomach with his hand, said with full emotion, “The Little Meng City is located in a desolated area, we are surrounded by dangers, the real dangers. Those barbarians kept attacking us and the lousy city wall can never hold them back, so they could come into the city and wreak havoc. For the safety of all government officers, I had spent two years to build this Mayor Mansion!” All three directors, who were from Yi family, hurriedly praised Yi Yan for his efforts, thanking him for spending so much money to build this mansion and protect their lives. They even said Yi Yan had built something that will be beneficial for a thousand years, and that their descendants would be able to stay safe because of Yi Yan! Wu Qi snuffled loudly, with a deep voice he asked, “Since you had the money to build a Mayor’s Mansion, why didn’t you spend the money to fix the city wall? Isn’t that a much easier way to block those barbarians from entering the city?” Three directors were shocked by what Wu Qi said. On the other side, Yi Yan trembled, his thick fat white body shaking, and shouted with a high pitch voice, “No money, we are really poor, Little Meng City is in a desolate place. How much tax can we collect each year? The Mayor’s office had no money on the book. We had spent the tax collection for next ten years to build this wall, we had no more money to fix the city wall now!” No money? Wu Qi twisted his lip. He just gazed at those gemstones and jewels Yi Yan wore which worth more than few hundred thousand. Lu Chengfeng let out a dried laugh but never say anything else. He looked at the soldiers who were patrolling on the wall, then he turned around and look over his shoulder at the city guards who were escorting him here, he rolled his eyes after noticing the difference. The guards of the Mayor’s Mansion were so much better than the city guards. After some complicated ceremonies that Wu Qi didn’t understand, he followed Lu Chengfeng and entered into Mayor’s Mansion. All seven coaches and servants who followed Lu Chengfeng here were arranged to stay in the General’s residency within the Mayor’s Mansion. The General residency is a luxurious courtyard with few buildings in it, and there were dozens of servants had been prearranged in it. This is the first time Wu Qi saw who were in those coaches of Lu Chengfeng. Besides from Laohei and Xiaohei, there’s eight maids and eight serving lady, and two wet nurses who are on lactation. Also, this is the first time Wu Qi learned from Lu Chengfeng, these two wet nurses were responsible for producing human medicine. Human medicine! Wu Qi learned a new thing for this world. Roughly arranged some tasks for maids and serving ladies, Yi Yan had sent someone to invite Lu Chengfeng to attend a welcoming dinner. The welcome dinner was held in the inner hall with the Mayor Mansion, including Wu Qi, nearly two hundred of Little Meng City officers attended the dinner. As Lu Chengfeng’s right-hand man, of course Wu Qi was qualified to attend the dinner. Welcome by Yi Yan himself, Wu Qi sat at a low table right behind Lu Chengfeng. Right in the center is a low, long table that Yi Yan sat uncomfortably behind. Beside him were all three Directors and the General. Besides Lu Chengfeng who only had Wu Qi sitting alone behind him, the rest of the Directors had at least three to five men behind them. Some even had dozens of men following behind them. The inner hall was divided into left and right sides, with each side having three long tables. Besides from the five highest position officers, the rest of the officers were sitting at these six long tables. Wu Qi was examining the table in front of him. It was a 3 x 1.5 foot low table, made from some heavy timber and coated with dozen layers of shining paint. Gold and silver threads were embroidered on the surface of the table in some geometrical pattern. It looked luxurious and dignified. The inner hall had sandalwood tile flooring, and everyone was sitting on a thick, warm, and cozy cashmere carpet. There were two rows of huge pillars in the hall, which were made from Golden Nanmu Wood [1]. Dragons and phoenixes were carved on top of the pillar, giving the hall a luxurious and magnificent atmosphere. The ceiling of the inner hall was made from sandalwood too. Dozens of lanterns hung from it, pouring bright light onto every inch of the hall. There’s even tree-shaped chandeliers with candles burning on them at four corners of the hall. The candles were mixed with some spices which produced a fragrance scent in the air. Wu Qi had taken a shower back at the General’s residency. He had covered his bald head[A] with a scarf, changed into a comfortable silk robe, and put on some soft cloth boots. When he smelled the fragrance in the air, he felt like falling asleep. Yi Yan was definitely living a luxurious life, but Wu Qi appreciates this kind of luxuriousness. At least, he can live comfortably, in comparison to Meng Village. Wu Qi is not a monk. If he has the choice of living comfortably, why should he choose to suffer? Stretching his back, Wu Qi kept throwing examining look at all the other officers within the hall. All the other officers had their attention on Lu Chengfeng, trying their best to show the brightest smiles they could. As for Wu Qi, besides from few young maids who gazed at him secretly, no one else really notices him. Suddenly, Yi Yan clapped his hand and with a loud voice, he said, “So had all the men here? Serve the wine, let’s welcome our General Lu. The journey from Liyang to Little Meng City surely is tough, I bet General Lu must have a hard time coming here!” Few hundred maids came out from the back of the hall, like butterflies, placing bronze wine bottles in front of all those sitting at the tables. Everyone raised their glasses and toasted Lu Chengfeng, “It must have been a tough journey. General Lu, let’s drink!” Lu Chengfeng raised his glass, stood up and smiled back to everyone and, after a few rounds of boring speeches, everyone started to drink the wine in their glasses Yi Yan clapped his hand again, then the maids started to serve all kind of delicacies. Each and every single plate and bowl was filled with a variety of food. The portions were not big, but there were many different things to try. The fragrance of these delicacies made anyone who smelled them feel hungry. It had been a few days since Wu Qi had eaten a proper meal, so when he saw the delicacies in front of him, he couldn’t wait and grabbed a yellowish, springy deer tendon with a chopstick and put it into his mouth. The deer tendon was so fragrant and juicy that Wu Qi couldn’t help but praise it in his mind. When he was in the middle of enjoying the food, suddenly, a muffled sound resounded within the hall, and a bronze wine bottle was smashed onto the floor. A husky fellow behind the Director of Record stood up, pointed at Wu Qi with his finger, and shouted, “Where did this savage come from? Don’t you know what manners are? The master hasn’t said anything, but you have already started to eat?” Everyone in the room stared at Wu Qi, then, under the shines from the lantern, they saw some oil dripping from his lips. After a moment of complete silence, laughter burst out with the hall.

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