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Published at 13th of June 2018 09:24:55 PM

Chapter 36

As the snow fell, the funeral bell rang continuously . Within the Sheng Jin palace, a black figure turned inside the towering ancestral temple . Along the long and narrow corridor, he walked deep into the heart of the Xia Empire . The flickering flames from his candle illuminated him as a long shadow was cast behind him .

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It was April 17th, 770 of the Cang Bai calendar . It was a year that was unforgettable . On that day, the entire family of the King of Yan Bei, except for his son, Yan Xun, who had lived in the capital for most of the year, was slaughtered . Their spirits could not rest in peace after they were killed . They were all executed on the Jiu You Platform, right in front of the Sheng Jin palace gates . Their bodies were dismembered and burned, turning them into dust .

At this very place the ferocious flag, which terrorized the northern territories, started to fly in silence . The flag was imprinted with a ferocious lion of Yan Bei . When the noble families of the empire tried to divide the land of the Yan Bei territories, there was a grand celebration on the northwestern prairie . The 11 tribes of Quan Rong gathered together . The Da Han King, Nayan Minglie personally hosted the celebration as they celebrated the downfall of the Yan Bei ruler and the death of Yan Shicheng, as well as the miles of northwestern fertile soil which the Xia Empire selflessly cultivated for them . The great Quan Rong God had blessed his tough people . With that, they believed firmly that no one could resist the blades of the prairie warriors .

At this moment, the cold wind howled through the dilapidated door that led to a remote and narrow room . Snow leaked in from the roof and there were neither braziers nor warm stoves . There was only a broken bed, which was blackened with dirt, reeking of a strong stench .

Outside the door, the soldiers were playing drinking games in delight as they drank the night the way . The strong scent of meat wafted into the house . The young man's face was pale with his forehead scalding . His chapped and whitish lips made him look sickly . His sharp brow was tightly furrowed as drops of cold sweat dripped from his temples . His jet-black hair was already drenched in sweat .

Sounds of banging echoed within the room . An eight year old child struggled as she lifted a chair, smashing it onto the floor soon after . By smashing it repeatedly onto the floor, the chair finally gave way into pieces of firewood . She took a deep breath as she wiped the sweat from her head . She lit a fire . A flame crackled to life, warming the house in an instant . She boiled a bowl of water carefully . After which, she climbed onto the bold bed-stove and cradled the teenager's head as she whispered, "Yan Xun, wake up and drink some water . "

The teenager had already lost his sense of hearing . He had no response at all .

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The child frowned as she reached for a pair of rough chopsticks on the table . She wrenched open the teenager's mouth and forced the hot water down his throat . He coughed instantly as his chest shook violently . Yan Xun coughed loudly as he threw up all the water that he had been given .

Chu Qiao looked at the water that had just been thrown up . She could see a trace of blood in it . Her heart sank as she bit her lip and sniffled . She crawled out of the bed and continued boiling water .

"Yan Xun?" As night fell, the house got unbearably cold . Chu Qiao wrapped the teenager in fur coats and quilts, while she merely wore a thin jacket . She shrank into a small figure beside Yan Xun as she held a porcelain bowl . She whispered, "I have added some rice to the water, it's porridge . Get up and have some . "

The teenager remained silent as if he was fast asleep . However, the moonlight shone onto his tightly closed eyelids, showing signs of his pupil moving . Chu Qiao knew that he was not asleep and had been awake all this while . He was just reluctant to open his eyes .

Chu Qiao let out a slow sigh as she lowered the bowl . She hugged her knees and sat against the wall .

Outside, a blizzard raged . Through the broken doors and windows, they could still see the pale tree under the moonlight . Her voice was low as she slowly said, "Yan Xun, I am a person who has nothing . I came to this foreign land without power or authority, without family or friends . My family had been killed . Some were beheaded, some were banished, some were beaten to death, and some were dismembered and thrown into a lake to feed the crocodiles . Some of them were raped and killed when they were still so young . Their bodies were piled onto a cart as though they were trash . This world was supposed to be a fair world . Even if you were a slave with a pathetic bloodline, you should still have the basic right to live . I did not understand the existence of different classes within society . Why did wolves have the right to devour rabbits without the rabbits having the right to fight for their life? But I understand now; it was because the rabbit was too weak and it did not have the teeth and claws to defend itself . If one does not want to be looked down upon, he must stand up for himself . Yan Xun, I am young, but I have patience and the luxury of time . Those that have owed me a debt, not one of them could escape from me . I must live on, to see that they have paid for their sins . Otherwise, even if I died, I cannot rest in peace . "

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The teenager's eyelashes trembled . His lips were tightly shut . The snowstorm raged on as the cold wind howled through the windows .

Chu Qiao's tone became even deeper as she said, "Yan Xun, do you still remember your mother's last words? She asked you to live on well . Even if life is tough and miserable, you must still live on . You still have many things left undone . Do you know what they are? You must suffer through the humiliation and hardships to wait for the golden opportunity to avenge your relatives who were brutally and ruthlessly killed! There is too much of your family's hopes and blood on your shoulders . There are too many gazes watching you from the heavens . Can you bear to disappoint them? Can you allow them not to rest in peace? Can you bear to see the foundations that were built by your father be torn down in an instant? Are you willing to die on this shabby bed? Can you accept the fact that the people who killed your parents are sleeping each night peacefully, enjoying every day of their lives at this very moment?"

Chu Qiao's voice suddenly became hoarse, as though it was a knife slicing through ice, sending tiny shard of ice flying . She said the following words slowly and clearly, "Yan Xun, you must live on, even if it means that you have to lead a pathetic life, a life that as low and pitiful as animals, you still have to live on, for only living on, there is hope . You will only be able to fulfill your wishes if you live on and you can only take back what is rightfully yours if you live on . In this world, you can no longer rely anyone else but yourself . "

Instantly, heavy breathing sounded . Chu Qiao scrambled as she picked up a bowl and brought it before the teenager . His eyes glowed bright with energy, as though a raging fire was burning wildly within him .

"Yan Xun, live on and kill them all!"

A concentrated gaze suddenly shot out from the eyes of the teenager . It was filled with bloodthirsty rage and worldly unjust . He nodded his head furiously and said with a deep and evil tone, "Live on, kill them all!"

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The cold wind continued to whistle outside, as two children stood within the freezing dilapidated hut, their fists tightly clasped .

Many years later, when Yan Xun became an adult and thought about that fateful night, he still had a lingering fear in his heart . He did not know what would have happened if he hadn't been weak and let the unkempt and disheveled girl with a determined gaze live . If he had not helped the girl out of curiosity or bade her farewell out of impulse the day they parted, would all of the misfortunes of that day disappeared like a mirage? Would the teenager from the noble family have been knocked down by some crisis in his life? Would he have been in so much despair that he would have died a lonely and pathetic man?

However, there are too many 'ifs' in this world . That's why, both children, who had nothing, made a silent vow in that snow and icy night: Live on . Even if they had to lead a pathetic life, they must live on!

The long night was coming to an end . Before dawn broke, Sheng Jin palace sent a messenger to them . There were various reasons why they had sent the messenger to split the spoils of war—to leave him to his demise . Maybe they did not have any agenda at all . The other kings of the empire had pressured the emperor to order Yan Xun, the son of King Yan Bei, to succeed the throne . However, he would only assume the throne when he reached 20 years old . Until then, control over Yan Bei's territories would be rotated between the kings of the empire and the emperor himself . Yan Shizi was to return to the capital, Zhen Huang city, to be taken care of by the royal family until he became of age .

Before that, there were still eight years . He had to endure eight more years .

On April 21st, Yan Xun moved out of the Yan residence and moved into the Sheng Jin palace; the place that was most guarded within the entire Xia Empire .

That morning, strong winds howled as snow flurried around him . Yan Xun wore a Yan Bei black mink coat as he stood in Zi Jin square with its full glory . Before him, was Jiu You platform and the Zi Jin gates . Behind it laid the empire's northwestern territories . There was once his home, the place where he grew up, a place where he could find his loved ones . But now, they had left him . He strongly believed that they were standing tall in the heavens, watching over him in silence, waiting for his iron hooves to step into Yan Bei and Shang Shen, over the mountain ranges of He Tong!

That day would have been the fourth month of empire's western conquest . Although the northwestern army was still in shambles, they had caught the culprit behind the mess . The King of Yan Bei slaughtered his family mercilessly . The Xia Empire's ruthless army had once again used its thundering efficiency to safeguard the empire's dignity . However, many years later, when historians opened the historical scrolls, they could not help but gasp . It was at that very moment that the Xia Empire had paved her way to her demise . The raging flames of death rekindled within the swamps of the dead—all of the atrocities and betrayals that had been committed, the ruthlessness and cruelty that had the power to disintegrate everything . The blade that had destroyed the life of this surviving teenager had also sliced through his heart, causing blood to surge from that wound . All of this would bury the empire in its grave .

The teenager turned and took the hand of the eight year old child as they walked straight through the heavy palace gates . The gates closed slowly with a rumble, devouring all forms of light as it closed . Insane winds howled as blew, but were blocked by the massive city walls . Only the sharp eyes of the eagle could see the two figures clearly from the sky .

As the sun set with a bloody glow, both figures seemed minuscule as they stood on the magnificent palace balcony, but they still stood tall and mighty . One day, they would leave a trail of blood in their wake, as they fought their way out, side by side, heading out of these reddish gold gates! God firmly believed that there would be such a day!