Tang Long was also completely bewildered. Even until now, he still hadn’t figured out how his luck had been so good that he could have made the acquaintance of such a strong person.
“Brother, say something. I think I heard that the person who cured me was a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect? Brother, you’re so amazing, you can even ask favors of a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect?”
Tang Long smiled ruefully when he saw his younger brother’s eyebrows dancing with pleasure. “Tang Zhong, you think too highly of your ole brother. A disciple of the Precious Tree Sect? I’m not even fit to carry their shoes.”
“Don’t but this or that. If I knew a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect, would I have been fired by the border guard? It’s difficult for the three of us to even eat now. It’s a good thing that we sold the Black Spirit Wood for a bit of money. If we spend thriftily, we should be able to last two or three years on that money.” Tang Long returned to reality from his dreams.
He also knew that he’d met someone who could change his life. Last time, at the border, Jiang Chen had been generous to begin with , directly gifting him an upper rank Vast Ocean Pill.
This time in the capital, if it hadn’t been for this person, not only would the Black Spirit Wood have been stolen, but his woman likely would also have been beaten to death.
Because of his matters, he’d caused the guy to become embroiled in a case. Even so, Jiang Chen hadn’t blamed Tang Long, but had gone on to save his younger brother instead.
Tang Long sighed. He hated owing favors to other people, but he also knew that the amount he owed Jiang Chen would also be unlikely to ever be returned in this life.
“Jiang Chen… just what kind of person is he?” Tang Long was truly curious. “He’s not afraid of the Northern Palace; the Dragonteeth Guard can’t keep him locked up, and even the disciples of the Precious Tree Sect obey his commands. This… Is Jiang Chen a senior elder of the Precious Tree Sect?”
“Forget it, forget it. He pitied me and happened to offer me some help. I, Tang Long, am born of the earth like an ants. I’m destined to be of a different world from him.”
With effort, Tang Long flung away those random emotions and said to the young girl, “Xiaoqing, why don’t you go make dinner? We’ve been busy all day and we’re hungry now. The Black Spirit Wood has fetched a nice price, so go buy something that’s not only delicious but will also nourish Tang Long so that he’ll be on his feet sooner rather than later.”
Tang Zhong was greatly touched to hear his older brother’s words. “Brother, when I can stand up and walk, I’ll go find a job as well. I won’t always be the one who’ll let you down.”
“Silly boy. Our mom and dad are gone. My wife was a child bride who was slated to be mine since young and she also has no mother and father. The three of us are a family and we depend on each other for survival. Who would take care of you if we didn’t?”
Tang Long patted his younger brother’s shoulder, “Don’t think random thoughts. Just concentrate on recovering from your illness for now. You’re still young and the road ahead is long.”
Although he spoke thus, Tang Long still felt quite tragic at heart when he saw his house that only had its four bare walls. Right now, he was unemployed as well so he needed to quickly find work to carry the family on his shoulders.
His fiance Xiaoqing silently took some paper money and walked outside the door, ready to buy some fish and protein, anything to nourish her brother-in-law’s body.
She’d just stepped out the door when she suddenly screamed, her face ghastly white with fright as she fled back like a frightened deer.
“What is it?” Tang Long hastily ran to the door.
“Tang Long, we’ve finally found you!”
“Damned fellow, you decided to go home on your own and drag us all down with you.”
“Tell us, how are you going to pay up for all this? Did you think that all would be fine after you just walked away?”
Four people had come. They were all youths around twenty years old with weapons at their waist as malice written over their faces. They all looked like they wanted to find fault with someone.
“Yu Dui, what are you guys doing here?” Tang Long felt a bit awkward as he wiped his hands off on himself.
“What are we doing here?” A bald, burly man with no eyebrows pushed Tang Long’s chest. “What do you think we’re here for? You left your post on your own accord and made us suffer for it. I was dragged in because of you and got caned thirty times. Am I going to just suffer that for free?”
“And us, we were all caned twenty times. Tang Long, how are you doing to pay us for this?!”
The other three team members also called out, completely appearing as though they’d rush up to beat up Tang Long even as they exchanged harsh words.
These people were all Tang Long’s companion-at-arms. Although they weren’t that close, they had still all worked together in the same team.
“Yu Dui, I was at fault in this matter. I had urgent matters at home and only resorted to leaving when no one approved my vacation request. How about I treat you all one day and we’ll eat up at one of the taverns? How about that?” Tang Long met rudeness with a smile as they stood at the door. He didn’t step aside and didn’t invite these men in to sit either
He knew that although these people were his colleagues, they’d always maintained a mediocre relationship with him. These guys were characters with questionable morals and were renowned thorns in the side of the border guard. They were scoundrels that were half military men and half robbers.
Tang Long disliked what he saw in them and hence interacted very minimally with them. It was apparent that they had come looking for trouble. They wanted to make an issue of this and create trouble for Tang Long.
“Treat us to a meal?” The bald, eyebrow-less Yu Dui smiled sinisterly. “Tang Long, do you think that we’re so poor as to be unable to afford even a meal such that we need you to treat us to one?”
“No, that’s not it. I’m treating you in order to express my apologies and to thank everyone for previously taking care of me.” Tang Long kept his smiling face on.
“Yu Dui, stop wasting words with this kid. Haul him out for a beating. We’ll have suffered all those canings for nothing if we don’t beat him half to death!”
“Right, this kid usually walks a different path from us. I feel that he purposefully left his post without authorization this time to drag us down with him. There must be some dirty tricks up his sleeve. If we don’t beat him up, he’ll never know that we brothers aren’t someone to cross!”
“Beat him up!”
Tang Long’s face changed as he took a deep breath. “Yu Dui, let’s chat about this outside, shall we? My family’s here, let’s not disturb them.”
The bald, eyebrow-less Yu Dui chuckled. “Family? Just now, I saw a young lass who looked quite nice. Who’s she to you?”
“She’s my woman.” Tang Long’s heart lurched uneasily. He’d heard of this baldheaded eyebrow-less Yu Dui’s reputation. This fellow lusted after wine, wealth, and women. Particularly women.
“Your woman? I’ve heard that she’s only your fiance?” Yu Dui smiled, but he wasn’t really smiling.
“Although we haven’t held the wedding yet, Xiaoqing’s grown up in my household and we’ve agreed to be husband and wife since young. Yu Dui, these piddling, worthless trivialities of chicken feathers and garlic skin aren’t worth dirtying your ears over. Let’s take this outside.”
Yu Dui swatted away the hand that Tang Long extended and yelled, “Take your hand away! If you reach out again, I’ll chop off your dog claws!”
“Tang Long, you can certainly treat us if you want. Have your woman serve Yu Dui wine. If she makes him happy, we can pretend that nothing happened!”
“Yes, yes. Your woman will do. Yu Dui, what do you think?”
Yu Dui chuckled as his fierce gaze traveled over Xiaoqing’s body. “Tang Long, have your woman accompany us brothers in a night of drinking and I can promise that I won’t pursue this matter any further.”
Tang Long’s face changed. “Impossible.”
“No room for discussion?” Yu Dui’s smile suddenly vanished. “Tang Long, does this mean that you don’t plan on begging us for forgiveness?”
Tang Zhong was trembling from fury as he listened from inside. He couldn’t help but break out in a string of expletives. “You there, is this how you bully men and tyrannize women, oppressing colleagues whilst you wear the uniforms of the army and draw the kingdom’s stipend? Is this still the attitude of the Skylaurel Kingdom? Do you still respect the laws of the land?”
Tang Zhong arrived at the door in great agitation as he pushed his wheelchair forward.
Yu Dui blinked. “Is this your crippled younger brother?”
“Haha, is something wrong with your brother’s brain? Bullying men and tyrannizing women? Laws of the kingdom? A cripple like you dares to talk to us about the laws of the kingdom?”
“Do you know what are the laws? We’re strong, and so we’re the law.”
“Damned cripple, get the hell away or we’ll beat you up as well in a bit!”
Baldy Yu Dui’s face darkened. “Tang Long, I’ll give you one last chance. Have your woman come out. We’ll even pay for the wine. We just want her to keep us company for one night and we’ll let her go tomorrow morning for sure .”
Tang Long’s hands trembled. The humiliation!
If he hadn’t been at home, he would’ve taken them on in his anger. But reason told him that it he threw his life away now, then his brother and Xiaoqing would follow him in death.
But if he didn’t give it his all in taking them all, these guys would surely turn to violence. They were all desperadoes who not only had greater statuses and but also better connections than he did. Going against them meant that death was the only way.
“Well?” Beneath his robes, Tang Long’s hand curled into a fist.
“I’ll count down. Ten, nine, eight…” Baldy Yu Dui started counting.
These people were experienced in committing foolish acts and all sorts of evil. They had naturally scouted things out before coming and knew that Tang Long had no background whatsoever. No matter how they bullied him, he’d have no way of coming back for revenge.
They’d actually also heard that Tang Long had a good-looking fiance. They’d had a bit to drink before this and the alcohol had gotten to their heads. They came crashing over in a heap towards Tang Long, but was actually scheming on his woman.
All that bullshit had been mere excuses.
“Five, four, three…”
Tang Long felt despair encroach upon him. He knew that he had no avenue of retreat. Making up his mind, he decided to give it his all in a single attempt.
Even if he died, he would never let Xiaoqing be violated by these animals. Even if he died, he’d bring down Yu Dui with him!
“Tang Zhong, get inside.” Tang Long grabbed the wheelchair and pushed Tang Zhong inside.
“Two, one!” Yu Dui’s voice was incredibly cold.
“Beat him to death. Apart from that woman, beat them all to death!” Baldy Yu Dui gave the order.
At this moment, a voice traveled in from outside the small alley, “Tang Long, does Tang Long live here?”
This voice rather stood out.
Even Yu Dui and the others who were about to pounce suddenly paused, not to mention Tang Long.
Yu Dui was ticked off and said to one of his men, “Go take a look and see who’s making a fuss. If they don’t know what’s good for them, then kill them as well.”
“Who do you want to kill?” Yu Dui’s order had just been given when the voice from outside traveled to the door.
The newcomer was about thirty years old and dressed in casual clothing. He looked like he was a martial dao practitioner as his eyes were as sharp as a falcon’s, raking Yu Dui and the four others with a single glance.
“And what are you looking at?” One of Yu Dui’s men glared from behind him.
“I’ll dig your eyeballs out if you keep looking.” Another man threatened.
The man in casual clothing looked up and down the four and burst out laughing. “You’re the border guard? Since when did the border guard start acting with such impunity in the capital?”
He was too lazy to pay further attention to these people afterwards and simply looked at Tang Long, “You’re Tang Long?”
Tang Long looked at this person. He didn’t know him either, but the arrival of someone new at this time was an opportunity. He hastened to nod, “I’m Tang Long. May I know your name?”