Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
Beta read by OEE
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Luo Xiao curiously observed their surroundings as they leisurely walked along the dusty road. The road was packed with people. The closer they came to the city, the denser the crowd became as more and more smaller trails, paths, and roads merged with the main road into the city.
Some rode on tamed magical beasts of low intelligence, others walked, and some rolled along in caravans.
Luo Xiao had never before experienced such a situation. He came from a small village in a backwater kingdom, he’d never seen a crowd like this and was rather frightened.
Clutching onto Jiang Yao’s hand, Luo Xiao feared he would get lost, and his face was pale. Still, he couldn’t help but look at the many people around him with wide eyes.
Everyone looked different. Some wore patched, shabby clothes and dragged chests filled with their wares, while others wore exquisite robes. But even the ones with beautiful clothes couldn’t match the clothes that Jiang Yao wore. Clearly, his material was much more outstanding than what could be bought here in these backwater regions.
Luo Xiao almost tripped as he was pushed by the people behind him but managed to steady himself. Out of reflex, he grabbed Jiang Yao’s arm. Both his arms were coiled around Jiang Yao’s, and he trembled slightly.
Although he was excited about the many people around them, he was also scared. His biggest fear was to be all alone in the world again. Thus he feared being separated from Jiang Yao. Because of this, he held on to him for dear life.
Jiang Yao said nothing. He just chuckled slightly and enjoyed the feeling of having his arm enveloped by the warmth of Luo Xiao’s body.
The sight of a man holding onto another man’s arm, alongside their appearances made the others look at them with quizzical eyes. What was their relationship?
Luo Xiao pouted slightly, and his face turned red all the way to his ears when he felt the many gazes on him, but he didn’t let go.
They followed the crowd as they made their way to the gates of Heavenward City. Heavenward City was massive. Although the cities Luo Xiao had been to had felt overwhelmingly big to him, they were not even close to Heavenward City’s size, which was a transport hub for all of the backwater kingdoms.
This was the only place where Jiang Yao could buy things that he needed in these regions, and with a calculating look at Luo Xiao, a smile formed on his lips.
Jiang Yao was happy with how Luo Xiao clung to his arm. Although Luo Xiao was normally very silent and didn’t say what he thought, the fact that he held onto him and feared that he would be lost showed that Luo Xiao was not willing to be left alone. This meant that being together with Jiang Yao meant the world to him.
With a slight smirk on his face, Jiang Yao looked at Luo Xiao’s face, where the other’s emotions were written as clear as day.
“Are you scared?” he suddenly asked, looking into the white-clothed youth’s eyes.
The sudden question startled Luo Xiao a little. His body jumped in surprise before he focused on Jiang Yao. “Ah! I’m not scared! I’ve just… never been to such a big city before,” he said.
Jiang Yao understood that such a big city was intimidating for someone with his background, but he also understood that Luo Xiao had to adapt soon. This city, although grand, was nothing compared to the capital of Tiansong Empire where he lived. That would be Luo Xiao’s new home.
As they came to the gates, they saw many queues and the incoming crowd of people neatly lined up to enter the city. Seeing these lines of people, Luo Xiao was filled with curiosity. Why couldn’t they just walk in?
“There is an entrance fee,” Jiang Yao answered the unspoken question Luo Xiao had.
“To enter the city you have to pay one gold coin per person. Each queue heads to a guard whom you pay,” hearing this, Luo Xiao’s eyes widened in shock. “A whole gold coin just to enter the city?” he gasped in surprise, while Jiang Yao merely laughed.
“Xiaoxiao, I know you come from a village, but a gold coin is barely anything. Now come with me, we are taking the entrance for esteemed guests.”
Looking around, Luo Xiao saw that there was a guard that was just standing at an open entrance with no people. Just as he and Jiang Yao moved towards this guard, a carriage came rushing past. Its speed was so fast that dust spewed everywhere and Luo Xiao ended up coughing because he breathed just as the carriage rushed by.
Seeing the teary-eyed Luo Xiao, Jiang Yao’s eyes turned slightly cold as he glanced at the carriage, but he said nothing. Instead, he gently soothed Luo Xiao by rubbing his back.
The coughing came to an end and Luo Xiao was led to the gate together with Jiang Yao. The carriage was still present and the guard was clearly conversing with the driver. Suddenly a woman within opened the carriage window and looked out.
At that moment her cold, arrogant eyes glanced outside as if attracted by a magnet. They landed on Jiang Yao and widened with delight.
“You!” she called out while pointing at Jiang Yao, “You are to my liking, come in front of me this moment!”
Jiang Yao and Luo Xiao looked at the woman with confused expressions. Why would she call for him? It didn’t take long for Jiang Yao to see the infatuation in her eyes, but Luo Xiao had no experience in these such matters so he was completely clueless.
“Do you know her?” He asked curiously, trying to understand more about Jiang Yao, but the older man just chuckled. “Do you think I know someone of such low class?” he asked with a voice that was not low, but fortunately the woman hadn’t heard him.
Seeing that she was completely ignored, the woman’s face twisted in anger. She had never been disregarded in such a manner before.
“I am warning you; I’m the young miss of the Gao family! If you wish to leave Heavenward City alive, you better do as I say!” she spat out, and Jiang Yao, who was rather annoyed at this point, just looked at her and shook his head.
“Xiaoxiao, don’t get too close to her. I don’t want you to get infected with her stupidity,” Jiang Yao said, this time so loud that everyone heard him.
The entrance for the city’s esteemed guests wasn’t that far from the other queues so many had heard what was said. Many observed the two sides with excitement, wondering about the backing of the two handsome men seemingly unfazed by threats from the Gao family. Some even hoped a fight would break out, after all, many of the observers were cultivators and their blood was hot like fire – they were always eager for battles.
Luo Xiao was tense. He had a faint idea of who Jiang Yao was, but he didn’t fully understand the strength of his family nor did he want to cause trouble, so he was very indecisive. But while thinking these things, he suddenly felt a strange emotion within his heart.
If Jiang Yao actually did go to that woman… Just thinking about such a thing broke his heart. He was unaware what he was feeling was jealousy as Jiang Yao and the woman talked.
Luo Xiao said nothing, but he didn’t let go of Jiang Yao’s hand. In fact, he even squeezed it tighter, as if he feared that Jiang Yao would leave him.
Jiang Yao was surprised. He looked down at Luo Xiao and saw that he had a very uncomfortable expression on his face. It was obvious that he wasn’t feeling good at the moment.
Unsure as to why Luo Xiao was feeling unwell, Jiang Yao felt even more annoyed at the woman. She was in the way, but he also understood that Luo Xiao would be unhappy if he killed her.
Her crimes were enough to be sentenced to death. Being disrespectful towards the Seventh Demon Prince was indeed enough for one to forfeit their life, but Luo Xiao seemed to have a trauma about seeing people die in front of him. For this reason, he didn’t want the already uncomfortable Luo Xiao to feel even worse.
“Listen, lady, I don’t have time to deal with you,” Jiang Yao said with an impatient voice, “Now move that carriage and enter the city or I will move it for you.”
The woman almost choked on her words as she was simply livid with anger. This man was too brazen! His words were too ruthless!
“I swear you will regret this!” the woman swore, “You and your little friend will never leave Heavenward City alive!” having said this, the carriage drove into the city, but Jiang Yao was so mad that killing intent leaked out of his body; however, he quickly returned to normal as he felt the warm hand that held his arm.
“Let’s just enter,” Luo Xiao sighed. Everywhere they went it seemed as if drama was unavoidable, but he had complete faith in Jiang Yao and his ability to deal with any situation. He had, after all, been referred to as his Highness in past encounters with strong cultivators so he could not be anyone ordinary.
When they reached the gate, the city guard, who had just taken the fee from Miss Gao, looked at them with hostility.
“So what do you have that makes you think that you can enter through this gate?” he asked. Jiang Yao pondered for a moment before he took out a sigil from his embroidered purse and handed it to the guard.
Luo Xiao looked curiously at the sigil. It was a small round wooden circle with a beautiful, twisted rune inscribed on it. Luo Xiao didn’t know what it meant, but when the guard saw it, his face turned pale. He handed it back with trembling hands.
“So sorry for this lowly one’s impertinence. This lowly one will instantly go report this matter to the City Head,” said the guard as he stepped aside and allowed Luo Xiao and Jiang Yao to enter, without even paying the fee.
Luo Xiao looked curiously at the sigil in Jiang Yao’s other hand. Sensing his gaze, a smile appeared on Jiang Yao’s lips but he still placed the sigil in his bag again.
“Curious?” he asked as he looked down at Luo Xiao. Luo Xiao pondered for some time what he should say before he hesitantly nodded his head.
“Well you’ll get one as well eventually,” he said casually before he continued forward, not answering the questions that were in Luo Xiao’s mind.
“Where are we going now?” Luo Xiao asked, knowing that he had no other option than burying the questions about the sigil in his heart.
“We’re going to an inn. I have something I want to give you,” Jiang Yao said with a smile at the puzzled Luo Xiao. “Something to give me?” he asked, confused.
“You might have forgotten, but I haven’t,” Jiang Yao said with a chuckle as he dragged the confused Luo Xiao to the best inn in the city.