On the Greenleaf Road of Fenlai City, the capital of the Kingdom of Fenlai, a member of the Holy Union, there were many noble manors clustered together. In front of one particular manor, over ten people were clustered together.
“The Debs [De’bu’si] clan would like to thank you, Linley, for your assistance. If it wasn’t for you, this child of ours, Kalan, probably would’ve suffered greatly.” A distinguished looking old man with flowing silver hair smiled towards Linley. By this old man’s side was Kalan, Alice, Tony, and Niya. Behind them were the servants of the Debs clan.”
Turning around, the old man nodded at one of the servants, who took out a small golden sack from within his clothes.
Taking the gold sack, the old man turned to Linley with a smile. “This is a hundred gold coins. Although it isn’t much, it represents the gratitude of our Debs clan. I hope, Linley, you will accept it.”
“No need. It didn’t take any effort on my part.” Linley said quite courteously. “I should be heading off now.”
The old man didn’t persist. Smiling, he watched Linley depart.
“Tony, you three should go home as well. Your parents are no doubt extremely worried.” Smiling, the old man spoke. After bidding farewell, Alice, Niya, and Tony all headed back to their own homes.
When Kalan and the silver-haired old man returned to their own living room, the old man’s face suddenly turned cold. In a voice filled with frozen rage, he barked out, “On your knees!”
With a thud, Kalan immediately fell to his knees. “Second Grandpa, it was wrong of me. This time, I brazenly took three of my friends to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts without clearly investigating all of its associated dangers. Second Grandpa, please punish me.”
The old man’s cold glare stared daggers at Kalan. “Kalan, you are already an adult. In addition, you are the heir and successor to our Debs clan. How can you make such a foolish, such an utterly moronic mistake? How could you possibly imagine how dangerous the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts is? You dared to traverse it without so much as even informing the clan? Hmph! I’ll let your own father decide what punishment would be suitable. Just let me remind you of one thing – in the future, if you continue to act so foolishly, even if the clan is handed over to you, you will wreck it!”
Hanging his head, Kalan didn’t dare to speak.
The Debs clan could be considered one of the three top clans in the Kingdom of Fenlai. The reason the Debs clan was so powerful was not because it had a high rank of nobility; it was because the Debs clan was the direct trading partner in Fenlai of the Dawson Conglomerate, one of the three greatest trading unions in the Yulan continent.
The wealth of the Dawson Conglomerate could match an entire kingdom’s wealth. It’s business stretched across the entire continent.
Any of the three trading unions on the Yulan continent possessed a terrifying amount of both wealth and power. Here in the Kingdom of Fenlai, many clans wanted to do business with them, because being able to do business with the Dawson Conglomerate meant being able to ride atop a titanic war-machine.
For the Debs clan to be able to do business with the Dawson Conglomerate was an extremely impressive thing.
After all, even the two major alliances and the Four Great Empires had to do their best to watch their step around the trading unions and to do their best to make them happy.
After departing Fenlai City, Linley took the road towards the Ernst Institute. Bebe was perched on Linley’s shoulders, keeping watch, while Doehring Cowart was also walking side by side with Linley.
“Grandpa Doehring, have you ever felt that this world is a terrifying place?” Linley said mentally.
Doehring Cowart nodded, but he didn’t speak. He just quietly listened.
“In the past, when I visited Fenlai City, I didn’t notice anything. But upon returning from the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, I’ve learned so much. The ruthlessness and mercilessness of the mountains is naked and open. It’s bloody, without any concealment.”
“If we look at the high ranking magi and warriors, as well as the nobles, of Fenlai City, on the surface, they all seem to be polite and courteous. They make the entire Fenlai City seem so splendid. But the class system in Fenlai City is so severe, so callous.”
“Even the law itself gives nobles far more privileges than the commoners. Although Fenlai City is very prosperous and gaudy, filled with laughter, its unspoken rules are far more binding than those of the mountains. In the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, there are no such things as nobles or commoners, only the strong and the weak.”
Linley was slowly beginning to understand the world.
In this world, the nobles had all the advantages, while the commoners were trampled upon. No matter how gentlemanly and refined the nobles acted, or how benevolent they behaved, there was no way they could alter the severe inequality that existed in the world as a whole. If you wanted to have status as a commoner, your only choice was to become a powerful warrior or a powerful magus.
If you didn’t strive hard, you would be discarded.
“Human society is far more complicated than the world of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. They just hide the same brutality which exists in the mountains under a beautiful set of clothes. But sometimes, this set of beautiful clothes can be very useful.” From the bottom of his heart, Linley felt contempt for those nobles who pretended to be kind but really were not.
After seeing the cruelty of the mountains, as well as the splendor of Fenlai City, Linley’s mentality had begun to change upon seeing the great contrast.
“Are you afraid of struggling?” Doehring Cowart suddenly asked.
Linley smirked. “Afraid? No. I enjoy it. If there were no struggles in the world, and everything was calm and peaceful, how boring would that be? I like struggle, especially struggle that is exciting. Dancing on the edge of a knife…that’s the sort of life which is the most exhilarating.”
“Squeak squeak!” Bebe let out two cries as well.
They stepped into the Ernst Institute.
After having travelled into the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts and after having witnessed the cruelty of mankind, Linley cherished the genuine friendships he had formed at the Institute even more than before. Upon entering his dorm, he heard these words….
“Boss Yale, Linley still isn’t back yet. Could he have run into a dangerous situation in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts?”
“Shut your stinking mouth, fourth bro. Third bro will definitely come back to us safely. Come on, let’s go eat…” As he raised his head, Yale saw that familiar shadow standing in the doorway. He paused, stunned. George and Reynolds were stunned as well. But then, immediately afterwards, the three of them charged forward towards Linley.
“Haha, third bro, you finally came back!” Yale was the first to reach Linley, wrapping his arms around Linley in a bear hug.
Reynolds also shouted out happily, “Wow, Linley, do you know that Boss Yale and George have been muttering about you every day? They were all worried about you. I was the only one who was totally sure you’d make it back safe.”
“Fourth bro.” George stared at him. “Just now, you were talking about being worried that Linley had encountered something dangerous.”
“Me?” A look of ‘confusion’ was on Reynolds’ face. “Did I say such a thing?”
Seeing his three bros together, Linley’s heart instantly felt warm. Yale immediately waved his arm ostentatiously and said, “Alright, enough chitchat. Third bro’s safe return from the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts is a major event! Let’s go have a good celebration!”
“Second bro, fourth bro.” Linley laughed as well. “Let’s go. We have to all go and have some drinks. My treat!”
“Whoah.” Reynolds stared at him. “Your treat?”
Yale laughed loudly. “Right, third bro has to treat us. Don’t forget that a while back, those representatives from the Proulx Gallery contacted us and send us that letter of invitation. Those three sculptures of third bro managed to sell for over 4000 gold coins. We have to have a good celebration.”
“A letter of invitation from the Proulx Gallery?” Linley was startled.
Yale hurriedly explained, “Third bro, your sculptures sold for high prices. The Proulx Gallery has already totally recognized your abilities as an expert sculptor, which is why they are now inviting you to start up a private booth at their ‘Hall of the Experts’. Right, let me give the letter to you.” Yale immediately ran towards the interior of the dormitory.
Reynolds said in a very secretive way towards Linley, “Linley, you wanna know something? Ever since that guy from the Proulx Gallery came to our school, the news that you’ve been invited to have a private booth at the gallery has spread across the entire institute. You fame has tremendously increased.”
“It’s been spread across the entire institute?” Linley was somewhat numb with surprise. He himself had just found out, after all.
“Right. In the entire institute, you might be the last one to know about this, actually.” George chortled as well.
“Linley, this is the letter of invitation the Proulx Gallery sent us.” Yale came running out of the dormitory with a white enveloped that had a golden seal affixed to it.