The Kori Federation. Huuring City. The Outskirts Of The City.
Huuring City. A remote mercenary den at the corner of the Kori Federation filled to the brim with roughened men that hadn’t seen modern civilisation in many years. Though the town itself was governed by Kori Federation officials, the real owners of Huuring City hid in the shadows, controlling the mercenary requests and food logistics within the safety of their abodes. Many citizens of the town would have heard of their names, but it was rare for any of them to encounter any of the elusive leaders. Wielding power not inferior to that of the City Manager, the Oligarchs stayed in hiding, enjoying the wealth and luxuries that flowed their way.
Though many would self-proclaim themselves as Oligarchs, the City Manager only recognises three to be the true rulers of the land. Formerly honourable mercenaries that followed the code laid down by the Mercenary Guild, the Oligarchs immediately jumped ship when they found out how lavishly they could live if they turned themselves into tyrants. Due to their advanced cultivation levels and the Kori Federation’s lack of care to the region, these Oligarchs unleashed their domineering wrath by seizing the trade routes and food supplies of the common folk. Equalling the City Manager in power and influence, there was little that the local government could do against the Oligarchs.
As beings that held that much power over the social and economic fabric of the city, the three Oligarchs were continually competing against one another, hoping to kick the other out of business with a sinister move. However, the circumstances worked against them on this particular day as they were forced to conduct an emergency meeting, right at the outskirts of the city where an abandoned mansion laid dry.
Surrounded by thistles, the worn-down building emitted a pungent musty smell, and the mould that had eaten into the wooden pillars of the mansion had turned brown without the moisture of the monsoon. Ugly mites crept dangerously into the ceilings of the abandoned home while rats squirmed about into the broken walls which allowed the radiant moonlight of the spooky night to flow in.
Was this estate a heap of trash? Yes. Was it the best place for the three Oligarchs to meet covertly? Most definitely. No one would have expected that the three wealthiest people in Huuring City would dare to meet in such a decrepit location, which made it the best place for them to discuss recent matters that may affect the future of their business.
“So… We were all there when Shin Iofiel, the Prince of Water acted.” A thin and lean old man placed both his elbows on the ebony table before him. There was no need for small talk among these old friends. Depending on their situations, they could either be enemies or allies, and it has been this way for over twenty years. Fortunately for the safety of the Oligarchs, they were all on the same page today. “What do you think?”
“His powers far surpass that of a Spirit Adept. Heck, I doubt there’s any Spirit Spectre in my camp that could defeat him in a one-on-one… What the fuck did the Himmel Empire feed him?” Another man replied, closing his fists as he thought back on the gruesome scene. In Huuring City, there were only four Rank 60 Spirit Kings, and they were all at the apex of the mercenary town. They had a little more Spirit Lords, but it was really only a sparse amount. If they had to send a Rank 50 Spirit Lord to definitely secure a win against Shin, what did that say about the boy’s talents?
“I don’t fucking know.” The bony old man raised his volume a little. “But that’s not the important part. Isaac, Lindsay. Do you have any clues about what they’re planning to do in Huuring City? Are they here to fight us?” The elderly man, Oligarch Timmy, needed to know if Shin was their enemy. If the group of seven were here to clean up the town, the Oligarchs’ heads would be the first ones on the chopping block.
“How the fuck would I know!” Oligarch Isaac panicked as well. “I didn’t even hear that the Black-Haired Tyrant had left the Himmel Empire! Wasn’t he supposed to stay in school? Why is he even all the way up here?”
“Lindsay?” Seeing that there were no leads on Oligarch Isaac’s side, Timmy turned to the final person in the room. A scrawny woman in her sixties, whose eyes were as bright as the luminous moon outside, pulled out her ivory hairpin that held her half-black, half-white hair together. Dropping her wrinkled face, the woman closed her eyes and pursed her lips as if she were thoroughly reflecting on the decisions she made in her life.
“Winfred… He was working under me.”
“WHAT?!” Isaac slammed his right palm on the table. “Since when? I’ve never heard him mention that he fights under your banner.”
“Naturally. It was a secret partnership, after all.” Lindsay sighed. She had thought that keeping one of Huuring City’s top guides under her payroll would reap her endless benefits, and for the better part of a decade, the amount of business that Winfred had brought in was definitely worth her investment. However, if she could turn back time, the female Oligarch would unquestionably murder the man before he had a chance to offend the Black-Haired Tyrant.
“Winfred told me that he was going on an expedition and I might have to bail him out of jail later on. I’d thought that it was a simple heist or something. Who could have guessed he…” Though Lindsay was his backer, that didn’t mean that she was privy to all of Winfred’s plans. Only on rare occasions would the Oligarch bring the scoundrel up for questioning. Otherwise, Winfred was given the ticket to commit to his deed first and report later.
“Did Winfred tell you anything about the Black-Haired Tyrant and the Witch in the South’s motives for coming here?”
“No… He did mention that he would be gone from town for a while though. Perhaps the group is really staying here for a short period and their destination is elsewhere.”
“That’s enough for me.” Isaac stood up from the conference table and breathed out in relief. If Shin wasn’t here to destroy their monopolies, that was enough. Immediately making plans to slow down his businesses so that the group wouldn’t target him, the Oligarch cracked his knuckles and went for the door.
“Where are you going, Isaac?” Oligarch Timmy asked.
“Winfred is Linsay’s problem. If the Black-Haired Tyrant wants vengeance, he will go for her first. So long as we lay low during his stay Timmy, you and I would weather this rocky storm and emerge out the other side unscathed. I can’t say the same for you though, Lindsay.”
“What a delightful eulogy.” Oligarch Linsay scoffed at her compatriot’s derisive tone. “Let me warn you, Isaac. If they come for me, they’ll definitely want to come to you. From what I can tell, these youngsters have a sense of justice that would give Judge Bao a run for his money. The disgusting deeds that you and your troop have done far surpass anything I had ever achieved. If they get me, I wonder how they’ll feel if I tell them about the incident at Radlett Valley.”
“Y-You fucker!” It took all that Isaac had to stop himself from strangling the woman right there and then. How many sins had he committed that would give him the death sentence ten times over? It was only because of his Oligarch status that the local law enforcement would look the other way. However, if the Black-Haired Tyrant called one of his Spirit Emperor or Spirit Venerate friends, Isaac’s life would be as good as over.
“We’re weathering this storm together, Isaac.” Lindsay lazily glanced over her shoulder. “If he takes down one Oligarch, he’ll take down the rest. We must stick together.”
“Her logic is sound, Isaac.” Oligarch Timmy wore a face of disapproval, but ultimately he ruled in favour of the sixty-year-old woman. “We don’t have to overreact that quickly though. It’s not confirmed that the seven young heroes would want to deal with us! If we lay low, maybe nothing else would happen!”
“Yup! That’s what you should do!”
The three Oligarchs all summoned out their Spirits in a hurry once they heard that fourth jovial voice. They had soundproofed and guarded the basement level of this abandoned mansion with a few Rank 50 Spirit Lords. In theory, the conference chambers should have been secured. Alas, they were dealing with forces that were a little too powerful to control.
“Don’t worry about me, I’m just here to see if you guys are about to do the right thing.” A gorgeous maiden emerged from the shadows, alongside an elder and a common-looking man, whom one might describe as a steward. They didn’t bear any arms, and neither did they summon out their Spirits. If not for their surroundings, one might imagine that they were here on a relaxing picnic.
“Who are you?”
“Before I answer your question… Elder Baobiao.” The decently-dressed senior took one step forward and unleashed an ungodly spiritual pressure, one that forced the three Oligarchs straight onto their knees. It was as if the laws of gravity were switched and now the soil beneath them and turned into their skies.
‘W-What… immense spiritual pressure!’ Isaac cried mentally. He had seen many experts in his days as a mercenary, and none of them had ever unleashed such terror into his soul before. ‘Spirit Venerate! He must be a Spirit Venerate!’
“Keep your Spirits, and then we can talk.” Elder Baobiao’s voice echoed within their consciousness, compelling them to surrender themselves completely. They were just Rank 60 Spirit Kings. Compared to a Spirit Venerate that had transcended his mortality twice, the Oligarchs were equivalent to mere houseflies. Retracting their Spirits, the three Oligarchs convulsed violently on the ground until the pressure was taken off of them.
After being given a short period to recover, the Oligarchs got onto their feet and immediately bowed down to their intruders. “Thank you senior for your leniency!!!”
“Mmmmnnn.” Elder Baobiao nodded his head and took his place at the corner of the room. He was just a bodyguard and couldn’t really bother to deal with some hooligans of the common land.
“Good evening, Oligarchs. My name is Meijing Bingying, Shin Iofiel’s close sister.” The gorgeous young woman introduced herself with a beaming smile. Once they had heard that name, a flash of understanding was shared among the Oligarchs.
“So you’re the Pearl in the East?”
“Oh, you’ve heard of me?”
“It would be a miracle if we hadn’t.” Oligarch Lindsay sneered. While they were part of the Kori Federation, Huuring City had much more interactions with citizens from the Lantis Republic, due to their close proximity to the ocean. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the residents of Huuring City knew more about the Eight Clans of Water than their own Master Sects. “So what brings you here? Holy Maiden of the Meijing Clan?”
“You see, my little brother, Shin, is currently on an expedition north to gain some experience. As you all know by now, Shin doesn’t really need much help when it came to defending himself in open battle, but he’s still quite green when it comes to defending against underhanded attacks.” Meijing Bingying took a seat on the table, revealing all of her gorgeous curves to the two men before her. “We originally would just observe him in the shadows and would only move to save him if his life was in danger. But that filthy man that tried to attack them earlier today gave me an unpleasant feeling.”
The Pearl in the East casually dropped the bombshell that they had been protecting Shin for all this time without his knowledge.
“So I investigated about his background, and I somehow managed to get the information that one of the Oligarchs had backed that ugly scoundrel. Fortunately, the three of you planned to convene here tonight, which saved me the time to interrogate you one by one.”
‘She got all that information in one day?!’ The Oligarchs uniformly screamed out in their minds. Even their top informants wouldn’t work that efficiently.
“Well, now that I know you three are not a threat to my little brother, I can rest easy.” Meijing Bingying smiled. She had overheard their entire conversation; thus there was no need for the Oligarchs to hide anything. “Just remain hiding until we leave, and I promise that nothing will happen to your businesses. We’re not here to jeopardise anyone’s living. Ah, also if it isn’t too inconvenient, could you take care of any potential flies that might disturb Shin’s peace? We don’t want to complicate our stay.”
“We… Okay, we accept.” Timmy begrudingly muttered out.
Did the Oligarchs even have a choice? Meijing Bingying had a bloody Spirit Venerate with her and god knows how many forces she could call upon from the Lantis Republic. If they really wanted to resist her orders, the Oligarchs would cease to exist with a snap of Bingying’s fingers.
“That’s good! Alright, we shall leave the three of you to finish your meeting. I hope that we wouldn’t have to shed blood the next time we meet.”
Her business concluded, Bingying knocked opened the door and left the chambers alongside Elder Baobiao and Xunyu Huanyuan, who was just there to look menacing, though he failed miserably at it.
“The Pearl in the East as well… Huuring City has become a hotspot of draconic talents, huh?” Oligarch Isaac slammed his fists against the wall. They had been used to calling the shots, and now some foreigner was here to tell them what to do?
“You’ve heard her Isaac. We just have to lay low.”
“I know, I know… Tsk, if it wasn’t for that idiot that thinks with his crotch, would we have his conversation?”
“Curse all you want, Winfred’s dead now.” Lindsay dropped her shoulders, relieved that her life had at least been spared. “To atone, I’ll dispatch the men to keep the peace.”
“You think that you hadn’t caused enough trouble?! I’ll protect the seven brats in the city! You just return back to endorsing rapists that would kill all of our companies!”
“Now, now. we shouldn’t be arguing.” Oligarch Timmy acted as the mediator and brought the two back together. “Since we’re all here now, let’s pool our resources together. If we work hand-in-hand, Huuring City would undoubtedly become the safest place on the planet for the Black-Haired Tyrant.”
Just like that, through the efforts of the three Oligarchs and the City Manager, Shin and his group were protected even more than they were in the Capital. They just didn’t know it yet…