Next to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts was the Holy Union and the Dark Alliance. And the capital kingdom of the Holy Union was the kingdom of Fenlai!
Fenlai City, in turn, was the capital of the kingdom of Fenlai.
In addition, it also served as the ‘Holy Capital’ of the Holy Union, because the Radiant Church itself was headquartered in the western part of Fenlai City.
The entire city of Fenlai was divided into two parts; East Fenlai City, and West Fenlai City. East Fenlai City was governed by the King of Fenlai, while West Fenlai City was managed by the Radiant Church. Because Fenlai City was both the kingdom’s capital as well as the Holy Capital, the opulence of Fenlai City could be matched by extremely few cities in the entire Yulan continent.
Fenlai City took up a huge amount of space, and had more than a million denizens living within its area. In the entire Yulan continent, it could be considered one of the top five megacities.
As nightfall came, Linley and Hillman entered the Fenlai City.
As they walked on Fragrant Pavilion Road, the primary road of East Fenlai City, Linley felt as though his eyes were dazzled. The litle Shadowmouse Bebe had been instructed by Linley to hide within his clothes, but he also took a sneak peek at the surroundings, and then began to squeak in shared excitement.
Fortunately, the entire road was filled with all sorts of noises and gaudy things, so nobody noticed the sound.
“Quiet!” Linley gently tapped the little Shadowmouse, which obediently went silent. But through its shared mental connection with Linley, it continued to express its excitement.
The entire Fragrant Pavilion Road was constructed from symmetrical limestone tiles, wide enough to allow multiple horse carriages to cross simultaneously. On each side of the tiles were hotels, clothing stores, weapon stores, nightclubs, and all sorts of other places. In addition, both sides of the Fragrant Pavilion Road were lined with pine and cypress trees.
Rich madames and young ladies, all wearing fashionable new clothes, were chatting and smiling as they walked along the road.
Seeing Linley’s reaction, some of the nearby noble ladies began to titter quietly amongst themselves while pointing at Linley. Clearly, Linley’s reaction was that of a ‘country bumpkin entering the city’. The nobility of the capital had a clear sense of innate superiority towards those country bumpkins.
“Hmph. How uncultured.” Linley frowned, feeling very unsatisfied by the pointing and laughing of those noble ladies.
Having been nurtured and educated by the clan since his earliest days, Linley quickly managed to subdue his sense of excitement, making the expression on his face much more tranquil, at least superficially.
“Linley, how do you feel about Fenlai City? This is the largest city in our entire Holy Union.” Hillman walked alongside Linley, occasionally seeing some warriors and even one or two magi pass by. He couldn’t help but sigh, “Linley, in Fenlai City, mighty warriors and mighty magi are a very common sight.”
Linley laughed while nodding. “In the books, it is said that Fenlai City is the political, economic, and cultural capital of the entire Holy Union.”
“This is heaven for rich people or people with status.” Hillman nodded and sighed.
The Fragrant Pavilion Road, bustling with activity, often had many opulent carriages pass through it. After wandering the Fragrant Pavilion Road for a time, Hillman and Linley headed directly for an ordinary guesthouse to settle down.
There was a small restaurant near the guesthouse, so Linley and Hillman decided to have dinner there.
That night, within the guesthouse.
Linley and Hillman were staying in the same room. There were two beds in this room. Immediately upon entering, the little Shadowmouse, Bebe, leapt out from within Linley’s clothes and immediately began circling around Linley while squeaking loudly.
“I know, I know, you’re hungry. Eat up.” Linley threw the roast duck he had brought back from the restaurant onto the floor, and Bebe immediately excitedly ran to it and began chewing.
“Linley, get an early night’s rest. Tomorrow morning, you will participate in the magus assessment and recruitment event.” Hillman instructed.
“Understood, Uncle Hillman.” Even as he spoke, Linley walked to a nearby window and pulled it open.
The guesthouse was three stories tall, and Linley was staying on the third floor. There were no three story high buildings in Wushan township at all, but in the capital city of Fenlai, they were a common sight. The capital even had seven or eight story tall buildings.
Peering out through the window, Linley saw that the streets were still filled with people.
“Whew. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in a large city.” A hazy white light shone out from the Coiling Dragon Ring, transforming into a white-bearded old man. Doehring Cowart and Linley stood side by side as they stared at the street below.
“Grandpa Doehring.” Linley immediately greeted him.
“Linley, how does it feel to be in a big city?” Doehring Cowart laughed as he spoke.
“No big deal.” Linley quirked his mouth.
Doehring Cowart sighed emotionally, “You haven’t been here very long. You don’t know much about how large cities like this work. This place will have countless lavish places to spend money, like large auctions, where some magnates would spend even hundreds of thousands of gold coins, or perhaps even millions of gold coins to purchase just a single item.”
“A million gold coins?” Linley felt his throat go dry.
How enormous a sum was that? His own family’s possessions, all added together, probably wouldn’t even total a million gold coins.
“There’s many rich families here. Money, power, beauties…the fight for these things is fierce. Every day, someone dies here. The poor ditch-diggers of Fenlai City will often find buried bodies, which perhaps used to belong to a noble family.”
Doehring Cowart chuckled calmly. “But in order to stand up in that sort of world, you must have some sort of personal power.”
“Don’t hope to be able to rely on the benevolence of others. Everything will rely on yourself, and yourself alone.” Doehring Cowart looked at Linley.
In truth, the Dragonblood flowing through Linley’s veins also made him thirst for battle and blood.
“If anyone threatens me or my family, I will kill them.” Linley said resolutely. After having read many history books about the rise and fall of noble families, Linley knew very clearly that showing mercy to enemies was the same as being merciless to oneself.
If you let an enemy off the hook, they might one day murder your family.
“However, right now my power is very weak.” Linley couldn’t help but recollect how, when he had first entered Fenlai City, those noble ladies had looked down upon him. In the eyes of those upper class people, he was nothing more than an impoverished little country bumpkin.
With a calm smile, Linley sat down on the bed and entered the meditative trance, beginning to gather energy.
The meditative trance was a good way to train one’s spiritual energy. The way it worked was, it used all sorts of methods to exhaust one’s spiritual energy to a bare minimum, and then allow rest to recover it!
Within the dantian in the chest…
A misty earth-colored haze billowed about within the dantian. This misty haze was the mageforce which had been derived from natural earth elemental essence. Based on Doehring Cowart’s teachings, from the first to sixth ranks, mageforce appeared as a haze. As a magus continued to progress, the quality of the mageforce would rise, and so too would its density.
Upon reaching the seventh rank, the mageforce of a magus would condense into a liquid.
Thus, between the sixth rank and the seventh rank, there was a major leap to be made!
“This kid, Linley, is so hard working. Even at night, he is training his mental energy.” Seeing Linley seated cross-legged with his eyes closed, Hillman couldn’t help but silently praise him. Mental energy was extremely important to both magi and warriors!
Early next morning, on East Fenlai City’s Greenleaf Road. One of Fenlai City’s principal roads, the buildings constructed on each side of Greenleaf Road were lavishly made and decorated. Some of those buildings were actually owned by the kingdom. And the tallest building of them all? It was the Cathedral of the Radiant Church.
The Radiant Church controlled the entire Holy Union, which comprised of the six kingdoms and the fifteen dukedoms.
The Holy Emperor of the Radiant Church had an extremely high status. He had the authority to depose any of the kings of the various kingdoms! This is why in Fenlai City, the tallest building was the Cathedral of the Radiant Church.
This morning, many people were gathered around the entrance to the Cathedral of the Radiant Church. The vast majority of the people there were richly dressed noblemen. Countless carriages filled up the space in front of the Radiant Cathedral, and the various nobles chatted to each other.
Linley and Hillman had arrived here as well.
“Uncle Hillman, there’s so many people here today. Many nobles brought their children here.” Linley laughed towards Hillman. At this time, the little Shadowmouse, Bebe, was hiding within Linley’s clothes, occasionally peeking out to see his surroundings.
Hillman laughed calmly, “Nobles? Every single student of the Ernst Institute can easily become an earl in any kingdom.”
“An earl in any kingdom?” Linley immediately understood.
It wasn’t hard to be conferred a noble title in any kingdom, but to become an imperial noble would be extremely difficult. After all, any of the four great empires were a match for the entire Holy Union. The kingdom of Fenlai couldn’t come close to comparing to them.
“Oh, Lord Doyle [Dao’er], you came as well?”
“Eber [Xi’bo], I’m here because of my child, of course. Hess [He’si], come pay your respects to Uncle Eber.”
Not too far away, a group of nobles were chatting amongst themselves. The testing fee alone at this magus testing and recruiting event was ten gold coins. And if a student was accepted to a magus academy, then the school fees would be even higher. Most magus academies charged hundreds of gold coins each year! Ordinary families simply couldn’t afford the fees. But if their children were selected, naturally they would be able to find a noble patron to pay for them.
However, not all magus academies had expensive tuition fees.
For example, the number one magus academy, the Ernst Institute. Because it admited so few students, any students who hailed from the Holy Union did not have to pay any fees at all! After all, everyone who could be admitted to the Ernst Institute had to be genius-level. In the future, their possibilities were limitless.
“Hmph. Those commoners and country bumpkins have also come. Aren’t they just dreaming?” A far-away noble laughed.
There were some commoners amongst the hundreds of people crowding the square, and some countryside nobles such as Linley. Usually, those nobles from small countryside noble families were also looked down upon. The nobles of the capital were an arrogant lot who generally looked down on people.
“Linley, don’t pay any attention to the likes of them.” Hillman said in a low voice.
Glancing at the group of nobles, Linley chuckled quietly. “Uncle Hillman, I won’t pay any mind to their likes.” Under the tutelage of his father Hogg, Linley wouldn’t pay too much heed to that group of self-centered, arrogant nobles.
The entire square was clearly delineated into two camps. A circle of nobles who conversed casually, and another with commoners or countryside nobles.
At the moment, two armor-clad warriors were standing in front of the Radiant Cathedral, barring all entry.
After a while, a black-robed official stepped forth from the cathedral doors. Stopping in front of the doors, he smiled and said in a bright voice, “The magical assessment ceremony is about to commence. All of the recruiters for the various major magus academies are ready as well. Everyone who is here for the test, please follow me into the main hall.”