Book 1: Chapter 24: Ideal of Youth
Tang Ke wasn’t that hard to get along with. After dropping off all of his stuff inside his room, he walked back out, sitting on the ground and starting to chat.
“Do you really know absolutely nothing about our Yunqin Empire military’s organization structure?”
Lin Xi was curious as to just what kind of place the border was, while Tang Ke was stunned at just how little Lin Xi knew.
“Everyone else thinks that just because I was a heaven’s choice candidate that I ought to know a lot, but honestly speaking, I don’t even know how I was recommended here. My father is nothing more than a normal merchant with a few stores.” Lin Xi rubbed his own legs that were still a bit sore and said, “That’s why forget about the military’s organization structure, I don’t even know what ranks are higher and what ranks are lower. My knowledge only goes as far as knowing that the highest commanding officer of a town is called town supervisor, and then higher than that are the city supervisor and a provincial supervisor, that’s it.”
“Apart from the military’s organization structure, all I know is that it is divided into eight sectors.” Tang Ke also began to rub his calves like Lin Xi, trying to relax himself as well. Not having the long blade on his back left him feeling a bit uncomfortable, making him inadvertently overcautious. “Our Yunqin Empire’s military is divided into three great branches, central continent defense, local army, and border army.” This tall and skinny youngster whose posture was a bit stooped organized his thoughts while correcting a mistake Lin Xi made. “Strictly speaking, the border army refers to the stationing of troops around the empire’s borders for defense, and not any specific place.”
Lin Xi nodded, indicating that he understood what he was being told.
Tang Ke began to mutter to himself, saying, “Our Yunqin Empire is founded on military might, the importance attached to the army the greatest. The central continent defense troops are under the direct jurisdiction of the emperor, while the local armies and border armies are essentially the same, just their locations being different.”
“Is it because of the places the border armies are stationed that makes it so dangerous, different from the local armies?”
“Correct.” Tang Ke looked at Lin Xi, and then asked a question in response. “Do you know why we ‘border barbarians’ usually do not keep our hair long, and most of us have rather stooped bodies?”
Lin Xi looked calmly into Tang Ke’s eyes, shaking his head and saying, “I am actually quite curious, but I am unable to think of the reason.”
Tang Ke quietly said, “it is because having long hair makes it more inconvenient to move, it might get caught in things or make noises. As for why most of our postures are rather stooped, a portion of it is because we had to shoulder tasks that don’t match our age, this is a natural part of life in the border armies, but the other part of the reason is because it has become a habit of the border army. It is because the more one curls up one’s body, the less likely it is to be shot by a sudden vicious arrow. The casualty count in the border armies has always been extremely great, which is why apart from the regular army soldiers that are dispatched each year, there are also large amounts of refugees and prisoners who become border soldiers. If a refugee wants to attain merit… Yunqin Empire’s laws and decrees dictate that military contributions can be used as amends.”
Lin Xi frowned. “Then that is to say, our Yunqin Empire’s state of affairs isn’t as calm as how I see it?”
“Our Yunqin Empire has three great border armies: Jadefall Border Army, Thousand Sunset Border Army, and Dragon Snake Border Army.” Tang Ke looked at Lin Xi, quietly explaining, “Fifty years ago, Principal Zhang took the heads of thirty Xiyi generals in a single night, forcing back Xiyi’s Fifteen Divisions all the way west of Jadefall City. However, during these fifty years, Xiyi’s tribes have completely become bandits. Each year, around fall and winter time, there would always be large numbers of bandits crossing over into Jadefall City. In addition, because the territory west of the areas these bandits occupy belongs to Tangcang Country, some soldiers and experts from Tangcang Country are starting to appear around Jadefall City, fighting Jadefall City’s border army, resulting in casualties on both sides. However, both sides are apprehensive of the other side’s country’s strength, so neither side is willing to completely become hostile, everyone simply exhausting each other’s forces. Dragon Snake Border Army’s side manages everything east of Dragon Snake Mountain Range, along with the inside of Desolate Pond Region with many uncivilized cave barbarians. As for the Thousand Sunset Border Army, it is the result of Principal Zhang and Vice Principal Xia, their group’s efforts in Meteor Lake. After Nanmo Country’s forces were slaughtered until they were forced back, they now occupy the Thousand Sunset Mountain that previously belonged to Nanmo Country. After that battle, Nanmo Country underwent a huge transformation, now becoming Great Mang Dynasty. In the past decade, Dragon Snake Border Army has been stationed around Blackwater Pool, but they had already fought many times with the Great Mang Dynasty.”
“Then that means that the west, south, and east all have some dangers, then what about the north here?” When he heard Tang Ke talk about Dragon Snake Border Army, Lin Xi’s brows furrowed a bit tighter, because his own Deerwood Town was not that far from Dragon Snake Mountain Range.
“The northern side is practically a world of ice and snow. Moreover, with Heaven Ascension Mountain Range which not even soldiers could scale in the way, as well as Green Luan Academy guarding it, there isn’t much to worry about. However, the situations from the remaining three sides have still exhausted most of Yunqin Empire’s manpower, while the dangerous environments of Dragon Snake Mountain and the other places prevents our Yunqin Empire’s border armies from dealing with the issues more efficiently. Thus, we are unable to completely clean up those bandits outside Xiyi and the cave barbarians outside Dragon Snake Mountain Range, they are like the grass of the plains, when one batch is cut, another will grow. During these past few years, our Yunqin Empire looked extremely rich and powerful on the outside, full of peace and prosperity, but the reality is that we are being nibbled away at from three directions. Just looking at it from the supplies the border armies receive now compared to a decade ago, it is easy to see how embarrassing our Yunqin Empire’s current state is.”
“This means that my Deerwood Town’s peace is built on the blood-soaked guarding of those border soldiers, refugees, and prisoners.” Lin Xi said while looking at Tang Ke with admiration. “I didn’t expect you to know so much, have such insights.”
Tang Ke’s face became a bit dejected, shaking his head. “With my age, how could I possibly have learned so much myself? Without personally experiencing it, how can I dare claim to comment on any differences between the supplies given to the border army now and what was given more than ten years ago?”
Lin Xi turned around and gave Tang Ke’s door a look. For some reason, he suddenly thought of that black sheathed long blade and the longbow.
“These were all things my big brother told me, his name Liu Wuyue, from a small academy that wasn’t that well-known. He taught me many things, without him, I might not have survived, let alone reach this place.” Tang Ke stared at his worn boots, slowly saying.
Lin Xi nodded, asking, “Which border army did you come from?”
“Jadefall Border Army, stationed in the eartern outskirts’ Heaven’s Lens Lake.”
“At your age, how did you end up in a place like that?” Lin Xi looked at Tang Ke, speaking gently, “Of course, if you don’t want to answer this question of mine, it’s not a problem at all.”
Tang Ke shook his head slightly. “There isn’t much to hide. In every border city, there will be some personnel who follow the soldiers. My father was a ‘food supplier’ specialized in preparing rations, while my mother was a tailor who specialized in armor repair. They both died in a night time bandit assault, and thus, I naturally became a member of the Jadefall Border Army.”
Lin Xi looked at Tang Ke quietly for a moment, and then suddenly said, “Obtaining the recommendation to join Green Luan Academy’s entrance examination in the border army definitely wasn’t easy for you.”
This question came extremely abruptly, but these two youngsters who were sitting on the ground, hugging their knees, both seemed to be able to sense the other side’s thoughts and emotions. Tang Ke also nodded his head seriously, the expression in his eyes a bit vacant as he looked at the door of his own room. “There were two times where I was the sole survivor out of my squad… the first time I only fainted when I got hit by the arrow, the second was because of my big brother. Originally, the one who should have survived was him, but in the end, it was me who lived instead. There is a saying in my Jadefall Border Army, being the only one to survive once isn’t much, but being the only one to survive twice means that one’s life is too tenacious, a demon personifying pestilence. When others are together with me, they will easily lose their lives, so they used the eastern outskirts’ recommendation qualification to send me over.”
“No wonder you had to keep his blade and bow.” Lin Xi couldn’t hold himself back, patting Tang Ke’s shoulder, momentarily also becoming quiet.
Tang Ke stretched out his legs, his back leaning into the corridor railings. He discovered that as he sat on the winding corridor’s ground with Lin Xi, his mood became unprecedentedly calm, as if Lin Xi’s body had a strange formless type of comforting power, able to make one temporarily unload the pressure they were shouldering. He turned around and looked into Lin Xi’s eyes, seeing only a great clearness that lacked all selfish motives.
“I originally thought that you wanted to chat with me because you wanted to ask me things related to cultivation.” Tang Ke felt an indescribable feeling inside of him. After some slight hesitation, he said this.
Lin Xi shook his head and chuckled, “I am actually not in that much of a rush on this matter. Since we already entered this academy, the academy will naturally teach me. The stuff the academy knows about cultivation should be much more formidable and accurate than what you know.”
“You really are a bit peculiar, no wonder you could enter heaven’s choice.” Tang Ke couldn’t help but laugh. “We’ve been talking about me all this time, what about you? You really didn’t even know how you were recommended, brought here just like that?”
“Whether you believe me or not, I believe it.” Lin Xi naturally spoke a line of nonsense, and then said in a somewhat distressed manner, “I was originally perfectly happy in Deerwood Town, but one day, a girl who was even a year or two younger than me suddenly appeared out of nowhere, asked me a ton of questions. Soon afterwards, a carriage came with the city supervisor’s orders that I had to participate in the great entrance examination.”
Tang Ke’s brows furrowed. “Then it should be some great figure who took interest in you, or else if it was just a city supervisor, even if he had recommendation authority, he would still leave it for his own children.”
Lin Xi laughed and said, “The Uncle Liu who drove me here told me that for nobodies like us, we should just stop wasting time thinking about things we won’t be able to understand.”
Tang Ke also laughed. Just like that, the two youngsters smiled while sitting on the corridor floor.
Only after remaining quiet for a bit, did Lin Xi nudge Tang Ke’s arm. “Since you’re already an academy student now, what kind of plans do you have going forward? You still plan on going back to the border army, try to collect achievements?”
Tang Ke shook his head firmly. “I won’t, I promised my brother to properly continue living. I originally wanted to enter Statecraft Department… because when my brother was still alive, he always felt like the blades and arrows of internal governing would always carry more significance than those of the border army. Since I entered self defense, if I can graduate from the academy, I will most likely choose to start from a town supervisor position.”
“What about you, Lin Xi?” Tang Ke turned around to look at Lin Xi, asking, “What plans do you have?”
“I didn’t really think all that far, if you really force me to make a choice right now…” Lin Xi frowned, and then said, “I want to take a look at what lies on the other side of Heaven Ascension Mountain Range.”