The First Order – Chapter 627


Chapter 627 Li Shentan gets pursued

In an old Daoist temple more than 600 kilometers away from Luoyang City, Li Shentan, who Ren Xiaosu had been looking for, was looking at the campfire in front of him with a melancholic expression. He also added some firewood to the fire as he watched it burn.

A cataclysmic event had caused human society to collapse, yet this temple was still standing here fine. At least, it did not collapse.

Si Liren looked at Li Shentan eagerly while pointing at the pheasant roasting over the fire. “Can I eat yet?”

Li Shentan looked back at Si Liren and saw her dirty face. He sighed and said, “What the hell did I do to deserve that girl’s relentless pursuit? I wasn’t the one who caused them to miss out on reuniting. Speaking of which, I even made an effort to bring them back together.”

“But she doesn’t know that.” Si Liren muttered, “She doesn’t know what we did, nor does she know that Ren Xiaosu was at Luoyang City. I keep getting the feeling that she’s only hunting you because she doesn’t like you.”

“Do you have to be so honest?!” Li Shentan glared at Si Liren. He tore off one of the roast pheasant’s legs and gave it to Liren. “Be careful, it’s hot.”

But Si Liren did not care. She was famished. After running around aimlessly with Li Shentan for more than half a month, her little face had slimmed down even more!

“Why aren’t we getting back at her?” Si Liren asked after taking a bite of the drumstick.

“If we had really tried to fight her, we would be in big trouble.” Li Shentan sighed and said, “There’s some people we can go against, and some we shouldn’t, understand? That girl is really strong. She’s so elusive that it’s almost impossible to guard against her. But I haven’t seen any signs of her for a week already, so I guess she doesn’t have time to waste with me anymore. After all, looking for Ren Xiaosu should be the priority for her.”

“Since she’s not pursuing us anymore, how about we return to Luoyang City?” Si Liren was still thinking about the roasted sweet potatoes in Luoyang City. It was particularly difficult for these two people who did not have many wilderness survival skills to make it out here.

Li Shentan shook his head. “Luoyang City has become a troublesome place, so we can’t go back there now. Grandpa Hu Shuo sent us some information and said that a lot of supernatural beings have gathered at Luoyang City in the past month. He was the one who told us to quickly leave that place.”

“What’s Grandpa Hu Shuo doing now?” Si Liren asked.

“He couldn’t idle around any longer and went back to his old profession. He’s set up an intelligence network, and I even heard he’s adopted some refugee orphans to raise them,” Li Shentan answered.

“Why did those supernatural beings go to Luoyang City?” Si Liren grumbled, “I can’t even enjoy my sweet potatoes now!”

“A person’s talent will arouse the envy of others.” Li Shentan sighed and said, “Think about it. For a single stronghold to control more than half the satellites that are still in service, it’s only normal that there’s people hankering after them. Grandpa Hu Shuo said that some very determined people are after those satellites this time. The satellites seem to be very important to them, although he doesn’t understand why.”

“Then where can we go if we can’t return to Luoyang City?” After Si Liren finished eating the drumstick in her hand, she greedily eyed the one in Li Shentan’s hand.

“Why don’t we head south to see the sea first?” As Li Shentan handed his roasted drumstick to Si Liren, he thought for a moment and said, “Didn’t you say you wanted to know what the sea looked like? I’ve never seen the sea before either. Apparently, it used to be very lively there before The Cataclysm, but now, the consortiums avoid it. I think it’s because typhoons are a common occurrence there now. Those typhoons are so strong they can blow us away.”

“Alright, let’s go and see the typhoons then!” Si Liren said firmly.

“Silly Liren, typhoons only occur in the summer.”

“Then we’ll stay there until summer!”

“This is the first time I’ve heard someone get so excited about seeing typhoons….”

Inside Luoyang City, Ren Xiaosu spent almost half the night searching for Dong Funan. In the end, he didn’t know where that female vampire had ventured off to, as he did not manage to find her again.

“Forget it, let’s stop searching for now. We can’t check into a hotel, so we’ll have to stay in a residential area.” Ren Xiaosu said, “It’s too eye-catching to stay in a hotel at this time. We’ll definitely attract attention that way.”

Ren Xiaosu was also aware there had to be a lot of people with ulterior motives gathered at this special stronghold in the Central Plains. Outsiders were forbidden to enter Luoyang City. Currently, the people looking to stay in a hotel would either be young couples looking for a room or non-residents.

Ren Xiaosu definitely did not want to catch the attention of others. He was even more unwilling to room with Zhou Yingxue.

Moreover, there were still Wang Yuchi and the others. With so many people in their group, they would easily attract attention.

Ren Xiaosu had wanted to find a bridge and make do with sleeping underneath it. If he were alone, he could definitely settle down for the night just like that. But the problem was that Wang Yuchi and the others were also traveling with him.

Of course, Wang Yuchi and the others were no longer pampered children like before, so it would not be a big deal for them to sleep outside. But these students were about to face a specially arranged admissions exam. It was a critical period for studying, so Ren Xiaosu did not want them to copy him and sleep under a bridge.

“Let’s go and look for the Qinghe Group.” Zhou Yingxue muttered, “We’re here to help them, so they should at least take care of our meals and accommodation, right?”

“If we get too close to the Qinghe Group at this time, wouldn’t that be as good as revealing ourselves to everyone?” Ren Xiaosu said, “I’m not even planning to turn up for the dinner appointment with the Qinghe Group’s president tomorrow night. We absolutely cannot put ourselves out in the open and get targeted.”

Zhou Yingxue thought to herself that her master was really cautious. However, she would not have to think too hard anymore in this case. All she had to do was tag along and rely on her master.

“Then where are we going, Master?” Zhou Yingxue asked. “It’s too late to buy a house now.”

“I’ll give Qin Sheng a call later to see if he has any good suggestions,” Ren Xiaosu said.

This time, in order to contact Ren Xiaosu more easily, Qin Sheng had even purposely given him a satellite phone. Furthermore, the phone was an encrypted one the Qinghe Group members used. This way, there would be no worries that the content of any conversation would leak.

In the end, Qin Sheng gave Ren Xiaosu a satisfactory answer. They could head to Junmin Alley where there was a secluded courtyard house that was recently vacated. As it was still occupied yesterday, it would not arouse any suspicions if they were to move in.

After Ren Xiaosu hung up, he sighed and said, “The Riders are still quite dependable. They’re simply flawless in their planning. I feel that the people causing trouble this time might not be able to take advantage of the situation at all.”

Ren Xiaosu told Wang Yuchi and the others, “Study hard when you get to the house. There’s no need for y’all to think of anything else. In our group, only the few of you have the potential to be intellectuals, so y’all have to treasure this opportunity.”

Wang Yuchi nodded his oath.

When they arrived at the courtyard house, Ren Xiaosu had just flipped on the lights in the living room when he heard the telephone beside the couch ring. He answered the call in confusion and said something along the lines of “OK, no problem” before hanging up.

Zhou Yingxue asked, “Master, was that from Qin Sheng?”

“Oh, no.” Ren Xiaosu said, “Someone said he wanted to take tomorrow off because he can’t go to work.”

Zhou Yingxue said in a daze, “Then, Master, did you approve of his leave just now?”

“Yeah, who cares who he is. I’ll just approve it. I consider that as doing a good deed,” Ren Xiaosu said nonchalantly. That person was not his employee anyway.

Furthermore, he even received four gratitude tokens for it when the person on the other end of the line thanked him profusely.

Zhou Yingxue was speechless.



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The First Order – Chapter 625


When she heard her master ask about her power, Zhou Yingxue thought for a moment and replied, “I just feel like I’m stronger than before….”“Can you be more specific?” Ren Xiaosu raised an eyebrow. “What kind of metric did you use to figure that? Why don’t we head out to the wilderness and test out how strong your physical fitness is?”

Under normal circumstances, other than the particular case of Yan Liuyuan, the physical fitness of a supernatural being would increase accordingly with their power.

When they arrived in the wilderness, Ren Xiaosu had Zhou Yingxue run at full speed and punch a big tree.

To Ren Xiaosu’s surprise, the speed and strength Zhou Yingxue displayed were comparable to that of his shadow clone! And the shadow clone’s strength and speed were twice that of Ren Xiaosu’s!

In the past, Ren Xiaosu had deliberately observed that Zhou Yingxue’s prior speed and strength were already at half the level of his. In other words, in terms of physical fitness alone, Zhou Yingxue was already four times stronger than before. She was now twice as strong as Ren Xiaosu.

Ren Xiaosu felt a little jealous. What kind of dogshit luck did this woman have?

Other supernatural beings, including Wang Congyang and Zhou Qi, who were the earliest to awaken their powers, only had a physical fitness level that was about the same as Ren Xiaosu’s. In fact, they were not even as strong as Ren Xiaosu.

Yet Zhou Yingxue, who was brought into the stronghold by Ren Xiaosu and led by hand for a stroll, had achieved what most others could only dream of.

“Then what about your power? Are there any new developments?” Ren Xiaosu asked, “There should be a lot of changes in that area, right?”

Zhou Yingxue replied, “I only feel that I can make the plants more powerful after taking control of them. I also obtained a new seed ability that I can use to plant a creeper vine.”

When Ren Xiaosu heard Zhou Yingxue say she could plant a creeper vine, he nearly choked. Was it a creeper vine as huge as the one that grew in Stronghold 61?

“Don’t use that power carelessly.” Ren Xiaosu said, “If others see that the creeper vine that you plant looks exactly like the one from Stronghold 61, they might think that you were responsible for that creeper vine from before.”

However, Ren Xiaosu suddenly realized another important point. After the creeper vine had mutated and was absorbed by Zhou Yingxue, she gained the ability to plant a new type of seed.

So would that mean that if Zhou Yingxue were to encounter other mutated flora in the future, she could also fold them into her power? If that were the case, the variations of Zhou Yingxue’s power would only grow more abundant.

So it turned out that the variations of her power still had the potential to grow.

Ren Xiaosu immediately planted a Potato Shooter in the ground. He looked at Zhou Yingxue. “This time, do you want to try absorbing the energy of this plant like you did for the creeper vine?”

Zhou Yingxue did as Ren Xiaosu said, but the Potato Shooter instantly withered!

Ren Xiaosu looked at Zhou Yingxue. “What happened?”

A green ball of energy within Zhou Yingxue’s hand materialized into a seed. She said happily, “Master, I can now plant potatoes too!”

“It seems that if we hear about any more mutated plants, I’ll have to take you there to collect them.” Ren Xiaosu frowned and said, “I think I came across an article regarding some exotic plants that were reported about in Hope Media’s newspaper recently. I’ll look for it later when we get back. In the future, we’ll have to start paying more attention to such articles.”

In the current day, not many plants had mutated yet. But even for those that did, they were generally not that aggressive. Otherwise, those people would not have been so slow to react to the creeper vines.

It was definitely a good thing that Zhou Yingxue had become stronger. The creeper vine seeds might just end up being very useful during critical times.

After returning to town, Ren Xiaosu saw the door of Qin Sheng’s residence wide open. There were two people packing things inside the house.

He asked them, “Where’s the owner of this house?”

When Qin Sheng heard that, he came out of the house and said to Ren Xiaosu, “I’ve just received news that I am to return to Luoyang City immediately. I enjoyed my time with Brother Xiaosu, but I have to leave now.”

Ren Xiaosu wondered, “Don’t you Riders have a rule that says that you have to stay in a town for a full year? Why are you leaving just like that?”

Ren Xiaosu had realized the rules the Riders lived by were extremely strict. Otherwise, Qin Sheng would surely have stepped into Stronghold 61 to save others during that incident. So what could be so important that Qin Sheng had to hurry back to Luoyang City no matter what? Could something have happened to the Qinghe Group in Luoyang City?

He remembered Old Li had mentioned that all was not well within the Qinghe Group.

Qin Sheng looked at Ren Xiaosu and said, “It’s definitely urgent if they want me back immediately. I’m really sorry that I can’t tell you the truth.”

“Where’s the threat coming from?” Ren Xiaosu wondered, “The twelve of you Riders are all supernatural beings, so what could possibly threaten y’all?”

Qin Sheng said with a wry smile, “I’m afraid that a large number of superhumans have gathered in Luoyang City. There were already people from the Wang, Zhou, and Kong Consortiums, as well as the Anjing House and the Saboteurs, who infiltrated the city. This is because Luoyang City has an open door policy, and a lot of people enter and leave the stronghold every day. So it’s very difficult to track everyone. Besides… forget it, there are some things I can’t talk about. I shouldn’t be airing our dirty laundry in front of you.”

When Ren Xiaosu heard the Saboteurs get mentioned, he was stunned. Saboteurs!

If he could find the Saboteurs, wouldn’t he find Yang Xiaojin? He suddenly said to Qin Sheng, “By the way, I mentioned this to you a few days ago, but if Wang Yuchi and the others are thinking of attending Qinghe University, will this matter affect them?”

Qin Sheng gave it some thought and said, “I don’t think so. No matter how scheming those people are, there’s no need to target Qinghe University. There’s no secrets there. How about this? I’ll immediately convey this matter to the others once I get back. When you guys get to Luoyang City, no one will stop you from entering. Wang Yuchi and the other students can just focus on testing into uni.”

“Alrighty then, thanks in advance.” Ren Xiaosu nodded. Then he asked, “But I don’t understand one thing. Why would those forces want to attack Luoyang City?”

“They aren’t targeting Luoyang City.” Qin Sheng shook his head and replied, “They’re just after the Qinghe Group because they have too many satellites under their control. Those things are simply too important for an organization.”

Ren Xiaosu did not ask further. He did not know why the various forces would all choose to make a move at this time. As there was not enough information, he could not judge what was happening.

Rather than asking Qin Sheng, he might as well consult the storyteller and the Great Hoodwinker.

However, he would still have to make a trip to Luoyang City. While the satellites had nothing to do with him, he really wanted to go there to look for the Saboteurs.

Hold on! Ren Xiaosu suddenly remembered Li Shentan’s strange words from back then: “Make a trip to Qinghe University. There could be a reward waiting for you there.”

If Qin Sheng had not mentioned the Saboteurs, he would not have recalled those words. But putting together Qin Sheng and Li Shentan’s words into context, he realized he might really have missed out on something.

Li Shentan did not tell him to go to Qinghe University just to watch a boring debate.

When Qin Sheng was about to bid farewell, Ren Xiaosu said righteously, “We’re friends now, so whatever’s troubling the Riders is my business as well. I’ll go to Luoyang City with you!”

Qin Sheng was stunned. “We shouldn’t trouble you like that. Actually, this matter has nothing to do with you….”

“Alright, shall we set off then?” Ren Xiaosu asked.

Qin Sheng was utterly confused. ‘Bro, did you hear what I just said?’

Seeing how Ren Xiaosu started calling for Wang Yuchi and the others to set off immediately, Qin Sheng could only say powerlessly, “Shouldn’t you guys at least pack some stuff with you?”

“There’s no need to pack! We’re leaving right away!” Ren Xiaosu then dragged Qin Sheng off towards the wilderness.



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The First Order – Chapter 626


For this trip to Luoyang City, Ren Xiaosu brought along Wang Yuchi and the other students. Meanwhile, Wang Fugui and the others stayed behind at Stronghold 61 to continue waiting for Yan Liuyuan and Xiaoyu to arrive.After all, if Yan Liuyuan and Xiaoyu were to find their way to Stronghold 61 after seeing the ad in the newspaper, they could miss the chance to reunite if there was no one waiting for them there.

Therefore, to be safe, Ren Xiaosu asked Wang Fugui to halt his mercantile business for a while.

Based on Ren Xiaosu’s plan, he would only be looking for Yang Xiaojin or the Saboteurs’ members when he went to the Qinghe stronghold. After that, he would settle Wang Yuchi and the others at the college before returning to Stronghold 61. The entire process would not take too long.

But in the time that Zhou Yingxue was unconscious, Ren Xiaosu was also thinking about something. Were Yan Liuyuan and Xiaoyu still alive?

After an entire month, the longer Ren Xiaosu waited, the heavier his mood became.

Over and over again, he would get his hopes up only to see them be dashed, just like how this world was.

But fortunately, he had already found Wang Fugui. This gave him some confidence again.

Unlike other big shots who often traveled in their off-road vehicles when going on a trip, Ren Xiaosu and the others took Wang Fugui’s truck to Luoyang City. This was considered a rather unique form of transport out in the wilderness.

Qin Sheng drove the truck and asked Ren Xiaosu, who was in the front passenger seat, “Brother Xiaosu, I would like to express my gratitude to you on behalf of the Riders for your help at a time like this. To be honest, there aren’t many people nowadays who are willing to help others.”

Ren Xiaosu said politely, “Don’t worry about it. After all, I’ve won so much money from you, so it would only be right to help out a little.”

Qin Sheng’s face darkened. “Ahem, please don’t mention the fact that we played cards together when you see my teacher.”

Nothing unusual happened along the way, but what surprised Ren Xiaosu was that when they were about to reach Luoyang City, Qin Sheng drove to the black market outside the stronghold and said he wanted to handle something there first.

Ren Xiaosu told him to be quick, but when Qin Sheng got back, there was an extremely strong scent of blood on him. It was as though he had just killed someone and returned.

And he had even killed more than one person.

“Did you kill someone?” Ren Xiaosu asked.

While starting up the truck, Qin Sheng answered, “Yes, I had to take care of some ignorant people who tried to take advantage of the situation. In the past, we didn’t care to deal with those people in the black market. But now it’s no longer alright to keep them around. Ever since the new administrator took over in the black market, those people have not been cooperative at all. They’ve even started stabbing us in the back.”

Only at this moment did Qin Sheng appear like a Rider, instead of a simple young man who played cards with them all day long.

Ren Xiaosu thought to himself that these must be the desperate times calling for desperate measures. Now that the Riders were starting to purge the internal threats in Qinghe, it must mean that they had sensed that great danger was impending.

At this moment, Qin Sheng took out a copy of Hope Media’s newspaper he had just bought from the black market. Ren Xiaosu took a glance and saw it was today’s newspaper.

Why did he suddenly buy a newspaper to read at this time? It was not like he could not do this, but it was a little unusual of him.

Realization dawned upon Ren Xiaosu. Were the more secretive communications between the Riders actually transmitted through the Hope Media newspaper?

“Come on, we’re going back to Luoyang City.” Qin Sheng stepped on the accelerator and said, “I’ve also informed Teacher that you’re coming along this time. He said he would like to treat you guys to a meal. The current acting president of the Qinghe Group, Xu Ke, would also like to meet you. What do you say, Brother Xiaosu?”

Ren Xiaosu thought for a moment and said, “There’s no rush for that. I want to go to Qinghe University first after we get to Luoyang City.”

“I’m afraid you can’t get into Qinghe University right now.” Qin Sheng said, “In order to protect the students, the entire school has been cordoned off. Unless you have a student pass, you can’t get in. If you’d like to go and have a look, I can arrange a student pass for you after I’ve settled my affairs. You can stay in the stronghold for as long as you want.”

“It’s fine. I can climb over the walls and get into the school,” Ren Xiaosu said nonchalantly.

Qin Sheng was in a dilemma. ‘Could you not say something like that in front of me?’

He said to Ren Xiaosu, “Then why don’t you go to Qinghe University first? And say we set the meal for tomorrow night?”

“Sure,” Ren Xiaosu agreed.

After Qin Sheng got Ren Xiaosu’s agreement, he breathed a sigh of relief. After all, the entire Riders’ organization was paying special attention to Ren Xiaosu now. On one hand, they were suspicious of his identity. On the other hand, everyone already knew he was going to be the future commander of Fortress 178, so they definitely would not want to be negligent about it.

Even if Ren Xiaosu were not the person they were looking for, maintaining a good relationship with Fortress 178 was still something everyone would be happy to see. Moreover, the Riders always had a good faith relationship with Fortress 178 and an admiration for their likable soldiers on the frontier.

And this time, with Qinghe facing a crisis, it was definitely better to have a strong ally joining them.

They finally arrived at Luoyang City during the night. Luoyang City was no longer the same as when Ren Xiaosu was here last time. It was already very quiet outside the gates.

The Qinghe Group temporarily canceled the access rights of those holding business visas and work visas. Most of the refugees who needed to work in the stronghold were stopped outside the gates.

The refugees did not know what had happened, but they understood it was very unusual. Since they were not allowed to enter, so be it. In any case, the Qinghe Group would compensate them for their losses.

For the past two days, the Qinghe Group had sent some meat into the town for the refugees to eat and informed those with work visas that they would be compensated for their lost working hours.

This was probably the reason why Luoyang City was not affected as much after the Wang Consortium’s Stronghold 61 announced they were opened to the public. This was because the Qinghe Group had always treated the refugees well, and no one was willing to leave the environment they grew up in.

After Ren Xiaosu got into the stronghold, he first proceeded to the public square where he had met Li Shentan previously. He wanted to find Li Shentan to ask him what he meant by those words.

When he arrived at the square, the entire place was still bustling with people, but he could no longer find Li Shentan.

He also asked Qin Sheng if he had discovered any traces of the various forces in the stronghold, but Qin Sheng did not answer him.

Ren Xiaosu could only rely on himself now.

On the way to Qinghe University, Ren Xiaosu caught sight of a familiar figure.

Ren Xiaosu could not remember who it was for a moment. When he chased after that person, he realized the other party had already disappeared into the crowd.

There was no curfew in Luoyang City yet, so the residents were not really affected. They were still going out to stores at night, enjoying snacks, and watching shows.

It was as though all signs of danger were hidden in this sea of people and drowned out by the crowd.

“Master, who are you looking for?” Zhou Yingxue asked while holding a roasted sweet potato.

“I keep getting the feeling that it’s someone I’ve met before. It’s a woman, but I can’t remember who she is. I only caught a glimpse of her back just now.” Ren Xiaosu frowned as he cycled through his memories.

Zhou Yingxue did not disturb Ren Xiaosu anymore and continued eating the roasted sweet potato happily. She even had another one wrapped in a plastic bag in the pocket of her coat that she was planning to give to her master after he was done thinking.

Ren Xiaosu jolted! He remembered who it was that he had seen earlier. Dong Funan!

She was a supernatural being they encountered at a stronghold back in the Southwest. Her awakened power was similar to that of a vampire. However, his disciple had caused Dong Funan to lose two of her bloodsucking fangs!

That girl had been taken away by Yang Xiaojin’s people at that time, and it was very likely she had joined the Saboteurs.

Therefore, the Saboteurs were really here in Luoyang City. This was the first time he had discovered clues to the Saboteurs since arriving at the Central Plains!



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The First Order – Chapter 623


Yan Liuyuan underestimated Hassan and the others’ enthusiasm for harvesting salt. For the next three days, Hassan led the members of the tribe to the grazing area and dug up the ground the cows liked to lick.The more one lacked something, the more they would desire it. Although there was also salt content in the beef and mutton, anyone who had ever had boiled beef and mutton would know they were completely different types of food from meat that was seasoned with salt.

Moreover, Yan Liuyuan had told him the illness the women and elders in the tribe were suffering from was caused by a lack of salt. Therefore, Hassan was exceptionally motivated to harvest as much salt as he could.

Only with salt would one have strength.

In just three days, Hassan had forcefully harvested a bowl of salt from the frozen ground with the help of his tribe.

Under Yan Liuyuan’s instructions, he slaughtered another goat and added in some salt while cooking it. Just drinking the broth alone felt blissful.

Although his heart ached when he was killing the goat, when he saw the excited looks on the faces of his people, Hassan’s wrinkled face was also full of smiles.

However, on the afternoon he slaughtered the goat, another envoy arrived from a distant grassland.

Yan Liuyuan was already standing at the entrance of the tribe. He quietly watched as the other party arrived.

The wolves had discovered the enemy three hours ago, but they did not attack.

The envoy was riding a muscular horse and had a long saber tied at his waist. Next to Yan Liuyuan, Hassan said, “Master, this saber is only worn by the battle-hardened warriors of that large tribe. Be careful. don’t let him get too close to you.”

Yan Liuyuan smiled and nodded. “Don’t worry. Let’s see what he has to say first.”

The envoy came up to Yan Liuyuan and jumped off his horse about 20 meters away. He slowly walked over. “I’m the khan’s envoy, Bogdei. The khan has ordered me to invite you to the royal tent for a meeting. He’s willing to appoint you as Commander-in-Chief of the Right and let you take charge of a section of the steppe!”

This envoy did not sound as arrogant as the one who came previously. Instead, he was much politer.

Yan Liuyuan was surprised. He looked at Hassan. “I killed his subject, but he wants me to replace the other party?”

The previous Commander-in-Chief of the Right had just died by his hands. The khan did not even mention revenge and was actually trying to offer him amnesty and enlistment instead?

Hassan explained, “Such things happen sometimes. On the steppe, everyone only respects strength.”

A large tribe in the steppe was actually not particularly united. It could be made up of about 50 to 60 smaller tribes, so it did not seem like it would be a big deal to replace some appointments with another holder.

But Yan Liuyuan felt that something was not right. That khan was about to set off for the South for a raid soon, so it should be the time for him to establish his authority. If he did not kill Yan Liuyuan, how could he convince the masses?

So many of the smaller tribes were watching and waiting to see what would happen. If it were other times, the other party might really be serious about enlisting him into their ranks, but it was definitely not so right now.

Even a young man like Yan Liuyuan understood this principle, so how could the other party who was the commander of dozens of tribes not know this would be the wrong move?

Then the envoy said, “If you don’t believe me, I have the khan’s edict that you can look at.” The other party walked forward and took out a goatskin scroll.

But before he could get close, Hassan shouted, “Master, be careful!”

Then Hassan attempted to push Yan Liuyuan aside. However, Hassan did not manage to make Yan Liuyuan budge. Instead, it was Yan Liuyuan who pushed him away.

Hassan turned around in panic and saw a silvery glow coursing through Yan Liuyuan’s blood vessels. It was just like how Yan Liuyuan looked when he first arrived at their tribe in the blizzard. He was exuding an extremely mysterious aura.

When the envoy got right up to Yan Liuyuan, he unsheathed his saber. A blinding glow surged towards Yan Liuyuan like a wave crashing upon him. The envoy had come here with the mission to kill this young man in front of him. Once he accomplished that, he would become the new Commander-in-Chief of the Right!

Based on the description of that previously blinded envoy, Yan Liuyuan was likely a supernatural being. But the young man’s power could probably only control wild beasts, such as eagles and wolves.

However, there were no supernatural beings that did not have any weaknesses. Since his power was to control wild beasts, then it should mean his physical body was very weak.

As long as the battle-hardened warriors of the tribe could get close to him and prevent him from controlling beasts, they could get rid of this great threat.

The khan had indeed recognized Yan Liuyuan as a great threat. Someone who could control over a 1,000 wolves would probably and easily strike a huge blow to his troops if they were to clash.

Furthermore, the herdsmen in their tribes, being ignorant people, would surely get confused upon seeing such a strange sight. They might even break down before the clash began.

Therefore, he had to kill Yan Liuyuan. On one hand, he needed to establish his authority to stabilize his own rule. On the other hand, he had to nip the threat in the bud.

For this, he did not even hesitate to give away the appointment of Commander-in-Chief of the Right!

But when this warrior named Bogdei got to Yan Liuyuan’s side and saw the mysterious silvery strands on his face, he suddenly got an ominous feeling.

With the saber coming straight down at Yan Liuyuan, the nervous Bogdei was suddenly overjoyed. He did not expect the young man to not even dodge!

Even a god like the khan could probably not withstand a saber strike like this one, right?

Clang!

When the steel saber came slashing down, the sound of metal colliding rang out. At some point, Yan Liuyuan, who was standing in front of Bogdei, got wrapped in armor of steel. When the steel saber struck the head of the armor, it could only leave behind a white mark!

Yan Liuyuan did have some shortcomings due to his power. He did not have a strong physique like the other supernatural beings, so if an enemy were to get close, he could easily die.

But Ren Xiaosu had already helped him mitigate that!

Ren Xiaosu had accumulated nanomachines from dozens of nanosoldiers and gave them all to Yan Liuyuan before they got separated. Ren Xiaosu had done so precisely because he was worried something would happen to Yan Liuyuan.

This amount of nanomachines was enough for Yan Liuyuan to complete his armor!

In the grasslands where heavy weapons were not available, not mentioning Yan Liuyuan’s own power, just having this armor alone was enough for him to walk around brazenly!

This was a gift from Ren Xiaosu. Yan Liuyuan used his hand gloved with the armor to grab Bogdei’s long saber before breaking it in two.

Bogdei was at a loss as he looked at the steel beast in front of him. How was he supposed to deal with a ferocious beast that could not even be damaged by a saber? Without his saber, was he going to use his teeth to bite it?

But before Bogdei could think about his next course of action, he saw the herdsmen behind the young Yan Liuyuan kneel down to him. These herdsmen from the tribe were genuflecting to Yan Liuyuan as though they were worshipping a god.

In their eyes, this was undoubtedly yet another miracle the gods had performed.

Yan Liuyuan smiled at Bogdei and said, “I understand the khan’s intention now. I’ll be happy to use your skulls to construct my throne.”

If he wanted to rule over the entire steppe, he would first have to let the plains know of his arrival.

In the future, he would have to kill a lot more people. He would keep killing until this steppe belonged to him.

However this era had treated him, he would do the same back to it.

Xiaoyu watched quietly from the sidelines. She suddenly felt a little fortunate she was still by Yan Liuyuan’s side.



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The First Order – Chapter 624


Stronghold 61 had already regained its vitality. The refugees quickly took to their jobs in the stronghold, and the entire place was back to running with law and order.Due to the supervision of the Wang Consortium’s artificial intelligence, some of the refugees who had sinister motives were also forced to settle down in the end. Those who still dared to cause trouble in the stronghold were mostly locked in jail, and many of them were sentenced to death.

However, the atmosphere in the stronghold was a little oppressive. Many of the refugees became afraid they would get imprisoned if they did anything wrong.

Regarding the entire running of Stronghold 61, the Wang Consortium’s people specially recorded and organized detailed information into a report.

The officials of the Wang Consortium were especially serious about this matter. This was because it was what their boss, Wang Shengzhi, wanted. It was said the information would be used to train and improve the artificial intelligence.

Outside the stronghold, the houses Ren Xiaosu bought at a great discount were all sold for higher prices thanks to the Wang Consortium…

Of course, they were not sold too expensively either. After all, Ren Xiaosu had to consider the purchasing power of the refugees. There were not many refugees who could save that much money.

However, the prices Ren Xiaosu bought the houses for were incredibly low.

This left Old Wang feeling a little conflicted. He felt that Ren Xiaosu always seemed to be able to make a lot of money very easily. Meanwhile, he worked really hard and traveled extensively, yet the money he earned was way less than what Ren Xiaosu had.

At this moment, the town was filled with people again. After a month, the hustle and bustle in town was even more lively than ever.

As a matter of fact, before the incident at Stronghold 61, there were only around 40,000 people living in town. But after the trouble was taken care of, over 80,000 people had gathered there.

While Ren Xiaosu was playing cards in the tavern, he looked out of the window at the passing people and said with a sigh, “The Wang Consortium’s move was really beyond everyone’s expectations, and these are only the people we see in town. I think there’s even more who got transported by military trucks to the factories. The Zhou and Kong Consortiums should have a problem on their hands right now. The fact that their factories have stopped running is the least of their worries, but if their food supply gets reduced next year, a lot of people are gonna go hungry.”

When the Zhou and Kong Consortiums first found out about the incident at Stronghold 61, they had shown some sympathy on the surface and were willing to support the reconstruction process. But behind the scenes, they were probably gloating hard at what happened.

And now, they were completely dumbfounded. After the dust settled, the Wang Consortium actually ended up turning the tables on them.

Ren Xiaosu thought even more highly of Wang Shengzhi for this.

Beside him, Wang Yuchi asked, “But, Brother Xiaosu, why would the Wang Consortium need so many refugees?”

“Only with people will there be productivity.” Wang Fugui explained from next to them, “The Wang Consortium is mainly located in the plains, and there’s still many good fields in the wilderness that haven’t been reclaimed yet. In the past, they did not have the manpower to do so, and it was difficult to break ranks and force the stronghold residents to go outside to farm. But now they suddenly have an overabundance of people to work for them.”

Qin Sheng looked at them and said, “Less talk. Hurry up and play your cards.”

“Oh yeah, a pair of fours.” Ren Xiaosu threw out two cards.

“A pair of fives.” Wang Fugui also took his turn. “By the way, Xiaosu, has that Zhou lady in your house regained consciousness yet?”

“No.” Ren Xiaosu frowned and said, “I don’t know what’s happening, but that woman has not regained consciousness even though an entire month has passed. I was thinking that since she is a floral supernatural being, she might’ve absorbed too much energy from the plant this time and ended up a vegetable….”

When he returned home at night, Ren Xiaosu looked quietly at Zhou Yingxue. The woman had been asleep for an entire month already, but there was still a healthy glow to her face even though she had not eaten or drunk anything. He muttered, “Looks like you won’t have to eat anymore in the future. That’ll be great. I could save some money on your meals that way….”

As he spoke, Ren Xiaosu kept staring at Zhou Yingxue’s fingers. It was written in the books that when a comatose person was about to wake up, they would start moving their fingers first.

But as Ren Xiaosu was staring at Zhou Yingxue’s fingers, a cold voice rang out, “Who are you?”

Ren Xiaosu jerked his head up to see that Zhou Yingxue’s eyes had opened. Her gaze was deep and cold, as though she had never met Ren Xiaosu before.

It fell silent in the room. Ren Xiaosu had gotten used to Zhou Yingxue lying here quietly in a coma. He was hoping she would wake up, but he was still shocked when she really did regain consciousness.

The candle in the room seemed unmoving, as though stilled by the heavy atmosphere in the air.

Meanwhile, Zhou Yingxue lay on the bed and looked at Ren Xiaosu coldly. Both of them were suddenly caught in a deadlock.

A second later, Ren Xiaosu muttered, “Did you really damage your brain? But I guess you did not have a brain to begin with anyway.”

Zhou Yingxue immediately got angry. “Master, is that how you see me? You’re the one who has no brain. How boring! Couldn’t you have just played along for a bit?”

“Get up already if you’re awake.” Ren Xiaosu said unhappily, “You’ve already occupied my bed for a month. Do you know how I got through this past month? I had to sleep on the ground! Is letting your master sleep on the ground what a maid should do? Is that even something a human should do?”

Zhou Yingxue looked at the mattress spread out by the window and softened. She carefully got up and asked, “Master, you’ve been guarding me for a month?”

“What do you think!” Ren Xiaosu snapped, “You slept well for the past month, but I went through hell. It’s winter now! Do you know how cold the ground is!”

Zhou Yingxue smiled apologetically and said, “Master, please sit down. I’ll massage your legs—”

“Forget about the leg massage!” Ren Xiaosu inspected Zhou Yingxue and asked, “Do you know what happened to you?”

“My memory stopped at the final moment I infused my energy into the creeper vine’s roots. Initially, I thought I could gain control of it, but my energy seemed to have only ‘cut’ a hole in its body, and its chaotic energy started flowing into me instead and then I passed out. I floated in the darkness for a long time in my subconsciousness and saw many strange bubbles glowing. In the bubbles, I could see the entire lives of some people.” Zhou Yingxue said, “I suspect they’re the memories left behind by those who died in the disaster after getting devoured by the creeper vine.”

Ren Xiaosu pondered that for a moment. “So, did you get a look at their bank accounts and passwords?”

Zhou Yingxue was taken aback before nearly bursting into tears. She cried out, “Oh no, Master! I forgot to check!”

“Is it too late to check now?” Ren Xiaosu asked.

“It’s too late.” Zhou Yingxue was filled with regret. “When I woke up, all those memories disappeared.”

Ren Xiaosu sighed and said, “You’re usually quite the money-grubber, so why did you drop the ball at such a crucial moment?”

“Hey, wait a minute, Master!” Zhou Yingxue came back to her senses. “I’ve finally regained consciousness after an entire month, so why are you paying attention to money the moment I come to? Shouldn’t you at least be a bit more concerned for me?”

“Ahem.” Ren Xiaosu changed the topic. “By the way, do you feel any changes to your superpower?”

Actually, this was what Ren Xiaosu wanted to know the most. After all, Zhou Yingxue had absorbed the energy of several hundred thousand people from the stronghold. Even though that energy was absorbed via the creeper vine, it was still a shocking amount.



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The First Order – Chapter 622


The cows and goats were to the nomads what farming was for the Central Plains. It certainly wasn’t as though they could eat their crops or livestock as they pleased.However, after Yan Liuyuan’s arrival, Hassan had been slaughtering the tribe’s goats for Yan Liuyuan to eat to show his respect. As for the rest of the tribespeople, only the younger, stronger manual laborers would get to eat meat, and even that meat would have to come from the animals that died in the blizzard.

For the young girls like Tsetseg, even though she was Hassan’s daughter, she did not receive any preferential treatment.

It was also probably because of Hassan’s impartiality that he became the tribe’s chief.

The moment Yan Liuyuan arrived at their tribe, he was treated with the highest respect. Therefore, he had never had to experience the hardships of the nomads. When Xiaoyu and he saw that these people reared their own livestock, they thought that the tribe was quite well-to-do. However, they did not know the livestock were not supposed to be killed at whim. With so many people in the tribe, if they only ate beef and goat meat for their meals, they would probably have to slaughter several of them in one day alone.

Their tribe could not survive such extravagance.

When Yan Liuyuan heard this, he started asking Tsetseg about the situation in the tribe in detail. Only then did he realize that not only did the tribespeople not get to eat meat often, they also rarely got to have salt.

Salt was extremely scarce in the grasslands. The nomads had always supplemented their salt intake through eating mutton, beef, and drinking goat milk. The meat they usually ate did not have much taste, and only the meat served to Yan Liuyuan would be seasoned with some salt.

But now, as the tribespeople were not allowed to eat any meat, they could not replenish their salt intake. Many of the women and elderly would get dizzy, experience muscle spasms, or show signs of nausea.

When such symptoms appeared among the tribespeople, due to a lack of knowledge, they just felt they might be ill or something. So everyone would gather around the firepit and pray for blessings from the gods, hoping they would get cured in the process.

There was no salt or medicine in this place, and the tribespeople would only resort to killing goats if they got too hungry.

“That’s right, we’re the poor people of this era, so why did I think that y’all were leading a good life?” Yan Liuyuan said with a bitter smile, “It’s my fault.”

Yan Liuyuan had Tsetseg call Hassan over. Hassan glared at his daughter on the way to Yan Liuyuan’s tent. Then he respectfully said to Yan Liuyuan, “Master, don’t listen to Tsetseg’s nonsense. Actually, things aren’t that difficult for our tribe yet.”

“Enough, just listen to me.” Yan Liuyuan said calmly, “The women and elderly are showing signs of nausea because they don’t have meat to eat anymore, so they can’t replenish their salt intake. We need salt.”

Hassan said awkwardly, “Salt is very scarce here. Only the large tribes have it. We need to pay tribute to the big tribes with our livestock every year to obtain the precious salt that they have.”

Yan Liuyuan realized this sounded like one of the methods the consortiums used to control the refugees. Hassan’s tribe was just like the refugees outside the strongholds, always getting controlled by others.

But at the thought of this, Yan Liuyuan became even more interested. He wanted to lead these people to a good life.

Yan Liuyuan asked, “Don’t y’all have the ability to get salt by yourselves? This steppe is so vast, so you should be able to find some, right? It might not be much, but there can’t be completely nothing.”

“The salt pools are all controlled by the large tribes, and there aren’t that many salt pools in the steppe to begin with,” Hassan replied. “I heard that the large tribes don’t even have enough salt for themselves.”

Yan Liuyuan carefully recalled what Ren Xiaosu had told him about wilderness survival. He did not like learning, but he would always take note of everything Ren Xiaosu mentioned to him.

Yan Liuyuan suddenly said to Hassan, “Gather the herdsmen. Ask them if they remember where and what the cows licked when they brought them out to graze.”

He remembered that Ren Xiaosu had told him before that all mammals needed to take in salt. Humans had long lost their instinct to survive in the wilderness, but they were a species that relied on their intelligence. If they could not find salt by themselves, they could always get the animals to help them locate it.

How did the animals in the plains replenish their salt intake? Some of the cattle farms in the Central Plains would place some coarse salt in the cowsheds for them to lick. Meanwhile, in the grasslands, there would be salt licks that cows would find to replenish their salt intake.

As expected, Hassan managed to get an answer after asking a few tribesmen.

After all, there were only a few places the cows liked licking when they were grazing in the pastures, so how could they not know?

Yan Liuyuan immediately set off and led Hassan and the others to that pasture.

What happened after was simple. Yan Liuyuan led a group of people to pry open the frozen ground and bring a lot of the soil under the grass back to the tribe.

Yan Liuyuan did not know how the salt should be extracted, but he knew for sure there was salt in this soil.

He could only use a makeshift method of mixing water with the soil before filtering it through a cotton fabric over and over again until the water cleared up. Then the water was placed over the firepit for distillation.

Very quickly, Hassan, who was standing off to the side, saw a faint layer of yellowish-white crystals forming at the bottom of the pot. It was a very minute quantity. As the extraction process was not up to par, the crystals that formed did not look clean.

Hassan could not wait any longer and placed a little bit of it into his mouth. Then he looked at Yan Liuyuan in surprise. “Master, this is really salt!”

Regardless of its appearance, it was still salt!

Yan Liuyuan heaved a sigh of relief. In the past, Ren Xiaosu would go out into the wilderness to look for the roots of a walnut tree to boil in water. The water that was cooked would then carry salt content. At that time, it was always Ren Xiaosu who was responsible for looking for food, and now, it was Yan Liuyuan’s turn.

He said to Hassan, “Scrape these off. I want y’all to go to the salt lick and do the same as I did earlier, understand?”

“Yes, I understand,” Hassan said excitedly. This was indeed a god. He could even extract salt from barren soil. How powerful!

Actually, the nomads were capable of similar expertise like this long before The Cataclysm. But after civilization had developed to a certain extent back then, the steppe inhabitants did not lack any salt intake in their daily lives anymore. Even while living in the north, the people still had access to salt that came from thousands of kilometers away.

The steppe inhabitants from before The Cataclysm were going through a formal education system during their schooling years, and no teachers had ever taught them how to search for salt in the grasslands.

Therefore, by the time The Cataclysm occurred, there were even some steppe inhabitants who knew the poem, “Preface to Prince Teng’s Pavilion.”[1] But when it came to surviving in the grasslands, they had lost the crucial skills necessary for that.

Gradually, the pressure to survive started hanging over everyone’s heads. Eventually, even the “Preface to Prince Teng’s Pavilion” was forgotten.

All that was left was an instinct to survive. After that, ambitious people began rising up and consolidating their authority over the grasslands. Then they started getting ideas about treating the Central Plains as their granary to feed themselves.

However, there had been some flaws in their understanding of the world. When they arrived at the Central Plains, they realized they were actually the ones in the most miserable state after The Cataclysm. Strongholds had already been established in the territory of the Central Plains, and they were even equipped with firearms.

The nomads living in the grasslands did not even quite understand what the South had become. Only Yan Liuyuan and Xiaoyu knew.

Yan Liuyuan sat in the tent while Xiaoyu, who was next to him, kept smiling at him. He asked, “Big Sister Xiaoyu, why are you smiling?”

“I’m smiling because I find that you look just like your brother now.” Xiaoyu said gently, “He’ll definitely be proud of you, don’t you think?”

Xiaoyu realized Yan Liuyuan had fallen silent and was looking rather down.

Yan Liuyuan said softly, “Big Sis, I miss my brother.”

[1] A piece of literature by Wang Bo of the Tang dynasty. It is considered a founding piece of Tang Literature.



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The First Order – Chapter 621


In this vast steppe, it was extremely common for the nomadic tribes to be engaged in strife with one another. Even though civilization had once been ended by The Cataclysm, it was still very difficult to change the nature of the people living on this land.

The large tribes set up their royal courts, appointed their kings of the left and right wings,[1] and designated some lower-ranked tribal leaders to complete their control over the steppe.

However, as the steppe was too vast, a truly ambitious person would sometimes rise and overturn the original hierarchy of power.

Hassan felt he was currently witnessing such a change. When he heard the howling of the wolves, he was no longer afraid. Instead, he even felt a little excited.

The power displayed by his master had surpassed the level of all the other lords in the grasslands. That was the power of the gods.

After Yan Liuyuan sent the wolves away, Hassan and the others led the remaining horses and cows on the battlefield back to the tribe. The mutated horses were now the main mode of transportation for the nomads in the grasslands, while oxen were mainly used for transporting supplies.

When the wolves attacked this group of people, they were even specifically instructed by Yan Liuyuan not to harm the horses and the cows. This, in Hassan’s eyes, was truly a miracle.

After all, wolves were carnivores, so to be able to make them give up their prey, who else but a god could do something like?

On their way back, Yan Liuyuan kept silent the entire time. When they were about to arrive at the tribe, Xiaoyu suddenly said, “I shouldn’t have countered your orders in front of the others.”

Xiaoyu looked a little gloomy. She had followed Yan Liuyuan to the grasslands and knew exactly what he wanted to achieve. Unifying the grasslands was only the first step.

She could not stop Yan Liuyuan from wanting to do this, nor did she have any intention of stopping him, much less have any reason to stop him. So she just quietly watched everything from behind Yan Liuyuan.

Xiaoyu knew very well that the young man next to her was likely no longer the little brother she used to have. He was now the leader of a tribe. In the future, he would even become the leader of many more tribes, eventually setting up his own royal court to take control of the entire plains.

Therefore, she might not be able to talk to Yan Liuyuan like she used to.

But… she did not want to see this young man who used to be innocent and naïve fall into the abyss.

But after she said that to him, Yan Liuyuan suddenly smiled and said, “Thankfully you’re here, BIg Sister Xiaoyu.”

A strong gust of wind started blowing again, causing Yan Liuyuan and Xiaoyu’s clothes to flutter. Yan Liuyuan continued saying in the wind, “Sometimes, I really wish that my brother were still here with me. If it were him, it would probably be easier for him to unify the plains. But I know that he doesn’t have such thoughts. He was never an ambitious person and just wants to protect the people around him.”

Xiaoyu listened quietly.

“Regardless of whether my brother admits it or not, he’s still a good person in my heart. Actually, Big Sister Xiaoyu, you were right to stop me today. I was just thinking that if my brother were still alive, he would definitely hate this tyrannical me.” Yan Liuyuan sighed.

“He won’t.” Xiaoyu shook her head and said softly, “You’re the most important person to Xiaosu. Even if you fall into the abyss, he’ll still pull you out from it.”

“Mhm.”

Xiaoyu was very important to Yan Liuyuan. Only with her by his side could he continue being clear-headed.

On this day, Yan Liuyuan stood atop a grassy hill and looked south. He remained there from dusk until night, then from night until dawn.

Hassan came out of his tent several times and looked at the back of his master from afar. He felt his master looked a little lonely.

In the morning, when Yan Liuyuan returned to his tent, he was surprised to see a young girl kneeling inside.

Yan Liuyuan asked, “You’re Hassan’s daughter?”

The girl was a little timid. “Father asked me to come and serve you.”

Yan Liuyuan smiled helplessly. “You may leave. I have my own hands and feet, so I don’t need anyone to serve me. By the way, what’s your name?”

“Tsetseg.” The young girl answered timidly, “It means ‘flower.’”

“How old are you?” Yan Liuyuan asked again.

“13. I’ll be 14 in another three months,” Tsetseg answered.

Yan Liuyuan nodded. “Alright, I’ll remember it. Go on back to your mother now.”

But just as Yan Liuyuan was about to lie down and rest, Tsetseg ran out and brought in a basin of hot water and a cotton cloth.

She soaked the cotton cloth in the hot water and went to wipe Yan Liuyuan’s face. Yan Liuyuan asked, “Aren’t you afraid of me?”

“Dad said that you’re a god who’s the protector of our tribe, so I don’t have to be afraid.” Tsetseg said.

Yan Liuyuan was stunned. It was not because Hassan had called him a god, but because he said that he was their “protector.”

He softened his tone. “I’m not a god. I’m just a normal person like you.”

“But you can command the wolves and command the eagles in the sky.” Tsetseg said, “And the girls in the tribe… they all say that you’re very good-looking….”

By her second line, Tsetseg’s voice softened.

Yan Liuyuan was indeed different from the males in the tribe. He did not have rough skin that was damaged by long exposure to ultraviolet rays, and his appearance was also more “defined.”

So many girls in the tribe were saying that only a god could look so good.

Xiaoyu had also mentioned this to Yan Liuyuan. Yan Liuyuan wondered how long it had been since these nomads saw people from the Central Plains.

When Tsetseg saw Yan Liuyuan not respond to her after a long time, she got a little anxious. “I can help comb your hair, wash your clothes, and cook for you. Dad wants me to stay in your tent. He says that… I’m yours from now on. If you chase me out, I’ll be very embarrassed.”

Yan Liuyuan was stunned. What kind of tradition was this?!

He laughed and said, “Then come help me comb my hair, but you don’t have to remain in my tent every day. After you bring hot water over in the morning, you can go back to your mother’s side.”

“Don’t I have to come over at night?” Tsetseg asked softly. To be honest, she wasn’t ready for this yet.

“No,” Yan Liuyuan said with a smile.

Then Tsetseg sat down behind Yan Liuyuan and wiped his hair with a wet towel, being careful and meticulous about it.

After a moment of silence, she could not help but say, “You’re not as dangerous as I thought. They’re all saying you made the wolves kill a lot of people yesterday, much more than the people we have in our tribe. But Big Sister Xiaoyu said that you’re a very nice person, so she told us not to be afraid of you.”

Before this, Tsetseg had lied. When Hassan told her to come to Yan Liuyuan’s tent, she was indeed a little scared.

But now she really was not scared anymore.

Yan Liuyuan did not respond to Tsetseg. Meanwhile, Tsetseg continued chattering, “If I only need to come over every morning to comb your hair, I can still go gathering with others during the day.”

Yan Liuyuan wondered, “Gathering?”

“Going out to gather some of the edible fungi,” Tsetseg explained. “Otherwise, we can only drink milk or go hungry. Dad said that many of the cows and goats died in the blizzard, so we can’t eat them anymore. We have to wait until they give birth next year.”

[1] “Worthy Prince of the Left (East)” and “Worthy Prince of the Right (West)” | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuqi_King



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The First Order – Chapter 620


In the grasslands in the North, Yan Liuyuan was sitting at the campfire in his tent with a calm expression. The flickering glow of the flames illuminated his face red.

Next to him, the tribal chief, Hassan, placed some lamb meat into the metal pot hanging over the firepit. The lamb meat was already cooked, so he was just reheating it in the pot.

He said respectfully to Yan Liuyuan, “Master, the people from that large tribe who want to go to the Central Plains to plunder for food are doing so to establish their dominance. The khan will definitely not let it rest after you summoned that eagle from the sky to blind his envoy.”

Yan Liuyuan laughed. “Hassan, you don’t have to worry about that. I’m just worried that he won’t dare to come.”

“I understand.” Hassan did not say anything more. After a while, he fished out the mutton from the pot and took out his small knife to cut it into slices.

As his master did not like eating big chunks of meat, he had to carefully cut it into smaller pieces.

If he submitted to Yan Liuyuan due to fear at the beginning, he was now truly worshipping Yan Liuyuan as a god.

The people in the Northern Plains believed in gods. This had always been the case since ancient times. The feats displayed by Yan Liuyuan so far were making him look like a true god to these people.

Even if he weren’t a god, he was definitely close to being one.

Hassan believed the gods would protect the tribe. Some livestock had gotten lost due to the blizzard, but his master told him the livestock would return by themselves. In the end, it started gusting strongly that afternoon and all the livestock started coming back.

All of these events left Hassan deeply in awe and admiration.

Yan Liuyuan picked up a piece of mutton and placed it into his mouth. After swallowing it with great difficulty, he said to Hassan, “Don’t y’all have vegetables here in the plains?”

Back when they were at Stronghold 88, Yan Liuyuan often enjoyed listening to Ren Xiaosu share some stories he read in books.

Ren Xiaosu told him that before The Cataclysm, not everyone living in the North was nomadic. Many of those who lived there also lived in cities, and their diet was not much different from that of Southerners, with it consisting of vegetables and fruits as well.

It was just that most of it was either harvested through agriculture or imported in.

Now that the Northern Plains no longer imported food from the Central Plains, it would have to depend on luck if they could even get any fruits to eat. Only wild fruits could be found in the grasslands.

Hassan replied, “Master, it’s mainly because it’s winter now. It isn’t easy to find those things. When spring comes, I can take our tribespeople out to look for other kinds of food.”

“It looks like it really will be necessary to make a trip to the Central Plains.” Yan Liuyuan sighed.

“Master, are you from the Central Plains?” Hassan asked.

“No.” Yan Liuyuan shook his head. “But the place I used to live is similar to the Central Plains. We ate rice and wore coats too. There aren’t many herdsmen there since most people practice farming.”

“Does Master also want to build those magnificent city walls here in the plains?” Hassan gestured animatedly as he said, “I’ve seen them from a distance before and they’re towering. The people living inside must not be afraid of wild animals. They can even drive those beasts here to the Northern Plains.”

Yan Liuyuan walked out of the tent and rubbed his cheeks with a handful of snow from the outside. “Hassan, we can’t build strongholds in the North. Also, I don’t like that kinda thing either.”

Hassan wondered, “Master doesn’t like strongholds?”

“Of course not,” Yan Liuyuan said. “Those Central Plains people who are hiding in the strongholds have already lost their sense of the outside world. The world is ever-changing, but they’re the only ones not making any progress. And they even divide their own people into different classes.”

Hassan understood that his master disliked strongholds.

Yan Liuyuan continued, “Furthermore, if the nomadic tribes are set on being against the Central Plains people, they mustn’t live in a fixed location. When the Central Plains people start getting wary of us and decide to conquer the grasslands, their artillery can easily destroy any stronghold. The nomads’ advantage is the terrain of the grasslands. When the Central Plains people come attacking, they’ll have to build forward operating bases as they advance along the rivers. But we can move freely. Once they advance deep enough, we’ll have a chance to fight back against them.”

Hassan smiled and said, “Master is so knowledgeable.”

“I’m just throwing it out there.” Yan Liuyuan said with a smile, “I just don’t like stronghold residents.”

At this moment, Xiaoyu, who was wearing a pelt cloak like the herdsmen, walked out of the tent. She was holding a bowl of milk in her hand. “Liuyuan, come and have some goat milk. You can’t keep eating so little.”

But as soon as she finished speaking, the howling of wolves sounded in the distance on the grasslands. Yan Liuyuan laughed. “They’re finally here. Let’s go, Hassan, I’ll take you to see something interesting.”

After that, Hassan had the tribesmen bring over the horses. He knelt on one knee and used his thigh as a pedestal for Yan Liuyuan to mount the horse.

The group of several dozen rode off in the direction of the wolves’ howls. Even now, the tribesmen still had a lingering fear of the wolves. However, Yan Liuyuan had reassured them many times the wolves would not hurt their own people or eat their livestock indiscriminately.

After riding for a while, Hassan stared blankly at the grassland in front of him. It looked like blood had been spilled here.

He recognized one of the men the wolves had surrounded as the Commander-in-Chief of the Right,[1] a warrior of that large tribe who was skilled in warfare.

It looked like these were the troops sent by the large tribe to encircle Hassan’s tribe. However, the several thousand-strong army was ambushed by the wolves in the grassland before they could even lay eyes on Yan Liuyuan.

These people thought firearms could scare away the wolves, but the wolves were much more ferocious than they had ever seen.

In just half an hour, the several thousand-strong army was wiped out, leaving the Commander-in-Chief of the Right, whose name was Golmud, and his associates still battling the wolf pack.

However, the reason he could survive until now was not that he could fight well, but because Yan Liuyuan had told the Wolf King to keep the person in charge alive.

When the Wolf King saw Yan Liuyuan coming, it stopped attacking them. Then it led the wolves and surrounded the enemy, leaving them to shout angrily inside the circle all they wanted.

Golmud was panting heavily within the wolf pack. He looked at Yan Liuyuan through the wolf pack and said fiercely, “You’re this tribe’s new chief?”

Yan Liuyuan, who was sitting on the back of a large, powerful horse, looked at him with great interest. “Did your khan receive the message that I asked your envoy to send him?”

“How dare you make such big claims when you’re just a brat who’s wet behind the ears?” Golmud said with a sneer, “You want control of the entire plains? You’re not capable yet.”

“It seems like this is the attitude of your khan.” Yan Liuyuan said nonchalantly, “In that case, I can only resort to more radical methods.”

With that, the wolves ended their encirclement and pounced forward to bite all of the remaining enemies to death. After that, they were even going to start gnawing on the corpses of these people.

This was an exceptionally bloody and brutal sight to behold. It was just like a tyrant punishing his enemies.

But Xiaoyu suddenly looked at Yan Liuyuan from next to him and said, “Liuyuan, you can have the wolves kill them, but you can’t let the wolves eat them. If your brother were here, he wouldn’t allow you to do this.”

Yan Liuyuan sat on his horse and remained silent for a long while. Then he gave a wave of his hand to disperse the wolves. “Go onto the plains to look for your own food. You aren’t allowed to eat these people.”

The Wolf King obeyed his order and promptly left.

[1] Commander-in-Chief of the Right, a rank at the level of the 24 imperial leaders called the Ten Thousand Horsemen. Nomadic leaders formed a dualistic system of political organization with the left and right wings divided on a regional basis, with left being east and right being west.



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The First Order – Chapter 395


Chapter 395: Blessed be the good man

The soldiers of the Qing Consortium were all headstrong. Even though a gun was pointed at the spy’s head, he decisively destroyed the communications device without any fear of death. Ren Xiaosu said, “Don’t worry! Are you Luo Lan’s guy?”

“Who is Luo Lan?” The spy froze. “Sir, what’re you talking about? Why can’t I understand anything you’re saying?”

Ren Xiaosu did not reveal his name. “Pull up your pants first.”

“Oh, right.” The spy hurriedly pulled up his pants. He had not even managed to wipe his butt before getting dragged out of the outhouse.

“How many others from the Qing Consortium are here on Mt. Dingyuan?” Ren Xiaosu asked.

The spy said with a wry smile, “Sir, I really don’t understand what you’re getting at. If you’re planning on attacking Mt. Dingyuan, I can show you the way.”

Ren Xiaosu lifted the spy over the edge of the cliff. “If you don’t tell me the truth, I’ll drop you.”

When the spy realized Ren Xiaosu could lift him up with one hand, he closed his eyes while hanging over the edge and muttered, “Brothers, I’ll be leaving first then.”

Ren Xiaosu was so angry he almost laughed. He put the spy back on the ground. “That’ll do. I’m actually a friend of Fatty Luo’s. I’ll let you go now. This place isn’t safe anymore. But don’t take the main path, or you’re gonna die.”

At this moment, the spy was still unwilling to come clean. Seeing that Ren Xiaosu had loosened his grip, the spy turned and ran away. But after running for 50 meters without being fired at, he turned back around to Ren Xiaosu and said, “Blessed be the good man!”

After saying that, he continued running into the shadows. But even then, he still did not reveal his identity.

But when Ren Xiaosu heard the words “blessed be the good man,” he somehow felt that it was not just a simple thank you.

Ren Xiaosu shook his head for a bit before walking over to the bandit lair. Since he had already guessed the spy was from the Qing Consortium, he would definitely not kill him. After all, he might still have to depend on Luo Lan and Qing Zhen to help him find his family after taking his revenge.

Moreover, he thought of Luo Lan as his friend.

At this moment, the entire bandit lair was in chaos. Although Ren Xiaosu did not venture into the battlefield, he felt like the bullets were hitting him.

Suddenly, Ren Xiaosu felt an enormous pain when a bullet hit the shadow clone in its forehead. Getting hit by a bullet there hurt much more than getting hit at other parts of his shadow clone’s body. For some reason, Ren Xiaosu got a feeling that he couldn’t allow the shadow clone to be hit between the brows. That could spell big trouble for him!

Most supernatural beings were still in the midst of figuring out their powers, and Ren Xiaosu was no exception.

As they learned more, everyone would gradually discover their powers had some weaknesses rather than being omnipotent.

Ren Xiaosu took off a pack of TNT from his back and lit the fuse. Then he used the Shadow Door and threw the TNT outside a row of barracks. At this moment, someone was shooting at his shadow clone through a window in the barracks.

With a loud explosion, the entire row of brick barracks collapsed and buried the bandits alive.

However, there were a total of seven rows of these barracks. But Ren Xiaosu was not expecting the battle would end by just throwing one block of TNT at the enemy. This was just the signal he was sending to the Razor Sharp Company at the foot of the mountain!

As soon as the TNT went off, the Razor Sharp Company began to bombard the pre-identified heavy machine gun positions with their mortars from the foot of the mountain!

Zhang Xiaoman was leaning against a trench wall and eating hardtack from his field rations. As his mouth was a little dry, he was about to drink some water when the TNT exploded on the mountain.

Zhang Xiaoman yelled at Jiao Xiaochen, “Fire the mortars! Quickly, fire the mortars!”

Hardtack crumbs sprayed out of his mouth onto Jiao Xiaochen’s face, but Jiao Xiaochen couldn’t care less and just wiped his face as he shouted the command, “Ready the mortar barrage. Three, two, one! Fire!”

Thump, thump, thump. The mortar rounds flew towards the mountain trailing smoke behind them. After that, their temporary positions were entirely filled with the smell of gunpowder.

Zhang Xiaoman inspected his weapon again and said, “2nd, 3rd, and 4th Platoons will charge forward with me. Radiomen, contact Battalion HQ. 1st Platoon will stay here and continue providing artillery support! Fire all the mortar rounds we collected!”

Now was not the time for them to worry about how much each mortar shell cost. The fiercer the artillery support, the fewer casualties they would suffer. Moreover, they would resupply ammunition once they took Mt. Dingyuan.

Other soldiers often carefully rationed the ammunition they could use in battle, but the Razor Sharp Company was different. They were the types who would spend money as they wished and use whatever ammunition they had. If they ran out, they would simply ask for more from Zhou Yinglong without shame. If he refused to give them any, they would throw tantrums back at the battalion headquarters. These people were capable of doing whatever it took to get more supplies.

The Razor Sharp Company’s objective was to overcome difficulties, not be frugal while fighting a war.

So once the battle began, Zhang Xiaoman assigned a platoon to fire the shells they had collected from Mt. Guan like it didn’t cost a thing.

But when they proceeded up the mountain, Zhang Xiaoman realized the opposing forces he was initially expecting seemed to have disappeared entirely.

After the mountain path was sealed, this route should have been heavily guarded by the bandits. However, there was no trace of anyone as they made their way up the mountain.

When they passed by the first heavy machine gun position, Zhang Xiaoman was relieved to see that it was exactly where it was marked on the map. This meant their plan was proceeding smoothly.

At this moment, intense gunfire suddenly came from the mountain again. Zhang Xiaoman had his men go prone and crawl all the way into a ditch on the side.

But when they got into the ditch, everyone realized the gunshots were not aimed at them.

“What the fuck’s happening on the mountaintop?” Zhang Xiaoman was bewildered. “Everyone, charge forward with me! Ren Xiaosu’s in grave danger!”

But as they charged towards the final machine gun position, Zhang Xiaoman felt from afar that something was wrong. The bandits had switched the location of this heavy machine gun position. It was not positioned on the right side of the path like it was labeled on the map, but on the left!

“This MG wasn’t destroyed in our mortar attack,” Zhang Xiaoman said, finding it a little pitiful. “2nd Platoon Commander Wang Boren, charge your platoon forward and take out that MG!”

How could things always be smooth sailing in war? It would, of course, be wonderful if they could always take out all of their enemy’s emplacements. But if the mortars could not take them all out, they would have to get it done by sacrificing some lives!

At this moment, people were bound to die. But still, they would die for a worthy cause!

The 2nd Platoon’s commander, Wang Boren, looked up at the machine gun position and estimated it to be about 300 meters away from them. He said firmly to the soldiers of 2nd Platoon, “Ma Dewei, we’ll provide cover fire for you to gain another 220 meters. Can you throw a grenade at that MG position?”

The grenadier, Ma Dewei, hesitated for a moment. “That’s gonna be difficult. It’s definitely in range, but I’m afraid that I won’t be accurate.”

“You have to make it happen no matter what. You only have three grenades to pull it off. If you don’t throw it accurately, all of us will have to die with you.” Wang Boren roared, “Charge!”

Then everyone in 2nd Platoon got out of the ditch and charged up the mountain. Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaoman and the others had already set up their heavy machine guns and got ready to provide covering fire for 2nd Platoon.

But at this moment, an explosion boomed at the final heavy machine gun position. All of the sandbags and the people inside were blown into the air!

Zhang Xiaoman’s eyes lit up. “That’s TNT! It’s Ren Xiaosu! He blew up the HMG position for us. Brothers, charge!”



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The First Order – Chapter 619


Wang Fugui nearly vomited blood. How could his hard-earned money not even match up to what Ren Xiaosu had?Ren Xiaosu felt they should continue plying the northwestern trade route business. Once Old Wang and the others had rested enough, they could set off for the Northwest again.

After much thinking, Ren Xiaosu still felt that the Wang Consortium, Zhou Consortium, and Kong Consortium were not suitable for Wang Yuchi and the other students to further their studies at. The most suitable place for them would be Qinghe University in Luoyang City.

With this action from the Wang Consortium, the Zhou Consortium, Kong Consortium, and even the Pyro Company and other smaller consortiums were going to be affected. Only the refugees living outside Luoyang City were the least affected.

The refugees in Luoyang City were not even interested in becoming a so-called stronghold resident.

Ren Xiaosu would have to approach Qin Sheng to arrange for Wang Yuchi and the others to enroll in Qinghe University. He asked Qin Sheng, “Is it true that anyone can get into Qinghe University?”

“Of course,” Qin Sheng nodded and said, “Why? Wang Yuchi and the others wish to attend uni? But I can’t make the decision, though I can ask my teacher to apply for the necessary passes for them. But if they want to attend Qinghe University, they’ll have to take the entrance exam. Spring enrollment will start soon. It might be difficult for them to pass the exam since they didn’t attend the supplementary classes held outside town.”

Ren Xiaosu looked at Wang Yuchi and the others. “Time is very tight. Do y’all think you can pass the exam?”

Wang Yuchi smiled confidently and said, “We’ve never fallen behind in our studies, so there’s no need to attend any supplementary classes. But, Brother Xiaosu, we don’t want to attend university anymore. We just want to stay here and help. Even if we don’t attend uni, we can still study by ourselves. Also, Uncle Fugui needs help. He can’t handle the bandits alone.”

Ren Xiaosu advised him with a smile, “Since y’all’re capable of passing the exam, you should continue your studies. Don’t worry about the bandits. We can have Zhang Xiaoman send some people to escort him. Institutional education is still better than having to learn everything slowly by yourselves.”

Ren Xiaosu had always been serious when it came to learning. Although he did not have the chance to go to university and further his studies, Wang Yuchi and the others were all fine young prospects who should not waste their talents.

Next to them, the Great Hoodwinker hurriedly said with a smile, “That’s right, Zhang Xiaoman can send people to escort Bro Fugui. If those bandits were not based in the Wang Consortium’s territory, we could even send in troops to eliminate them.”

If Wang Fugui’s convoy were escorted by Fortress 178’s troops, wouldn’t they become recognized as the official merchant for Fortress 178? In that case, who would be so foolish as to offend Wang Fugui in the future?

With Wang Fugui’s ability, it would even be possible for him to monopolize the entire northwestern trade route.

By this time, more and more refugees had moved into Stronghold 61. Some small media outlets began to follow up closely on the matter to report about it. For example, they interviewed the new stronghold residents and asked them how they felt and whether the Wang Consortium had made things difficult for them.

These refugees unanimously expressed that the Wang Consortium was really wonderful. They didn’t expect they would get the opportunity to become stronghold residents one day. Moreover, the jobs the Wang Consortium had arranged for them were much easier than working in the mines like they did before. They had already decided to settle down here for the rest of their lives.

The Wang Consortium not only gave them jobs but also paid them well.

It was like buying a carcass with a thousand taels of silver.[1] These 20,000 refugees who were the first to move into the stronghold were the “carcasses” bought by the Wang Consortium with a large sum of money!

The Zhou and Kong Consortiums were also trying their best to keep the refugees in their territories. But how could they possibly do better than offering the refugees a chance to be stronghold residents?

Surely they could not have their troops guard the refugees daily like they were prisoners, right? Besides, they could not enforce something like that either!

The Wang Consortium’s move instantly reversed their losses, turning a disaster into a good outcome!

Half a month later, Stronghold 61’s town started getting lively again. Ren Xiaosu thought the current population in the vicinity of Stronghold 61 must have exceeded the original number of people that used to live here!

Of course, the Wang Consortium’s factories had also been affected by the disaster. However, they were prepared for this. In fact, the first people to arrive at Stronghold 61 were the refugees in their own territory. At that time, the Wang Consortium’s factories had come to a standstill, but they did not reject those refugees from moving into the stronghold.

Following that, a large number of troops and military vehicles started assembling at Stronghold 61 due to the ongoing rescue efforts. When the refugees in the stronghold reached a certain number, Stronghold 61 stopped accepting the refugees who had just arrived. Then they transported the newly arrived refugees to the various factories in their military vehicles.

The refugees who came late were sad to learn they would not get to be stronghold residents.

However, the Wang Consortium immediately promised they would still be treated very well. Although it was not much better, it was still slightly better than how the Zhou and Kong Consortiums treated them.

As such, the refugees thought that since they were already here and it would take them at least another 10 days to a fortnight to return to their former homes, wouldn’t it be the same working for any consortium? Besides, the salary given by the Wang Consortium was also higher.

As a result, the Wang Consortium’s factories were the first to restore their operations, while the Zhou and Kong Consortiums’ factories remained at a standstill. Although these two consortiums also thought of improving the refugees’ benefits, the refugees had already left their territories. Even if they improved the benefits at this moment, the refugees would not want to make the long journey back.

The consortiums could not go to the Wang Consortium’s territory to steal back their former refugees, right? That was as good as declaring war!

At this moment, they would probably have to increase their previous wages by 40% to 50% if they wanted to get the refugees to go back.

Ren Xiaosu did not pay attention to the consortiums’ subsequent actions as he was not really interested in it.

However, the Wang Consortium seemed to have planned all of this way beforehand. The more Ren Xiaosu thought about it, the more afraid he felt.

When Luo Lan said they would have to form alliances with the other forces to deal with the Wang Consortium, he felt that Luo Lan and Qing Zhen were being too cautious. But now it seemed like the Wang Consortium’s intention was clear. Qing Zhen had thought ahead of everyone else again.

Ren Xiaosu initially thought that the Wang Consortium would start a war very soon. But after this, they fell silent again and focused all of their energy on opening the trade route and getting their productivity restarted. They completely ignored the talk in the rest of the world.

During this period, the Hope Media reporter, Zhou Tao, remained at Stronghold 61 as he reported on the latest updates to the situation after the refugees were let into the stronghold.

At first, he thought the entire stronghold would descend into chaos. After all, the people in Stronghold 61 were now made up of refugees. Those people did not have any manners, nor would they obey any laws, so there should be a lot of theft and robbery.

But the Wang Consortium’s artificial intelligence started displaying its usefulness at this moment. Some of the people who had just committed robberies were caught by the Wang Consortium’s newly appointed Public Order Division staff right after turning the corner on a street.

Others were handcuffed immediately after they stole something.

The artificial intelligence was like an omniscient god that regulated everyone’s actions.

Before this, Zhou Tao could not really grasp the concept of the Wang Consortium’s artificial intelligence. It was not until he experienced the transition from chaos to order in Stronghold 61 that he gained a deeper understanding of the role the artificial intelligence played in maintaining the peace of the stronghold.

He suddenly felt that Stronghold 61 was more like a pilot project for the Wang Consortium and a demonstration piece. They were using a practical example to tell the world how powerful the artificial intelligence was in governing a stronghold and the stability it brought to people’s lives.

[1] To show that one is sincere about doing something



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