* 'Wakey wakey little boy. Time to get up.' *
Bai Qi rolled over and sat up. It was still quite dark out, though he could see the horizon faintly growing brighter.
He didn't really have anything to pack other than the clothes on his back. Now that he thought about it, even the clothes weren't his. They were blood-stained and torn, they must have been someones else's.
With those thoughts, he stretched his body, and did a few quick stretches to get his blood flowing.
Opening the door, he noticed a plate of bread, honey and cheese placed outside. On the plate was a note that simply said "breakfast, eat quickly."
As he ate, he thought about what he knew so far. He had no memories except for a random one the demon had let him see. He was in an unfamiliar location at the generosity of strangers. There was this thing in his head feeding him information, all the while trying to warp his morals.
* 'Gee, thanks,' the thing said sarcastically. 'You weren't this condescending when you made the deal.' *
* 'Oh sorry, you haven't unlocked that information yet. Maybe if you beg, I'll tell you' *
Bai Qi ignored him, continuing to eat. After he was finished, he put the plate on the desk before leaving the room. This was the first time he had stepped outside of the room, though he knew the basic layout of the house.
Going down the staircase at the end of the hall, he entered a small, cozy store. It was a general goods store, it even had a small corner with tables and a bar. Chairs were stacked on top of the table. Though the day was brightening, it was still quite dark outside. As he looked around he heard a rooster's crow, breaking the silent night and declaring the start of a new day.
He exited the store into a large paved road, though very muddy. He could tell that this was the main street of the town. The market where he had woken up was to his left, where he could see the road open up to a circular area. The store was located near the outer edge of the town, he could see the end of the road just past a few streets over to his right.
"First time seeing it?" asked Da Lao, who had crept up behind Bai Qi, startling him.
"Yeah," replied Bai Qi.
"You know, I asked Zhong Xin about you, just to confirm what you said." Da Lao continued, looking into the horizon as the run rose. "He confirmed that you did lose your memory, but the details around it was strange."
"What do you mean?"
"Most of the people that I've heard about that I've heard about that fell out with their masters had their memories completely wiped. They couldn't remember any solid details, including their name. They usually woke up in a shock, freaking out about not remembering who they were, or where they were. But you were different. You remembered segments, you told me you remembered having a master and learning magic. Upon waking up, Zhong Xin was just as surprised with your reaction. He said that you were more calm when you woke up than even rational minded people that he interacted with on a daily basis. Why is that?"
"I honestly don't know. Maybe it's because I remembered my name, and maybe I kept a sense of identity." Bai Qi sighed. He couldn't tell him that it was because of a voice in his head. "I'd like to know who I am as well, but you wouldn't understand. It's as if something's missing that I need to find." Bai Qi spoke honestly, from the bottom of his heart.
"You also woke up with injuries, and even killed a man upon waking up," Da Lao mused. "There might be something you're hiding." He pondered for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Either way, it doesn't matter. Everyone is entitled to their own secrets, however big or small."
* 'Oh, someone with a brain. Watch out, he may have realized you were crazy and had a voice in your head. Especially since you find yourself listing to the voice as it makes you question your morals,' the thing said, making fun of Bai Qi *
Da Lao seemed reminiscent of something. "Well, that doesn't matter. The carriage should be arriving any moment now. Ah, here it comes now." With those words, he pointed ahead where a black carriage was making its way over.
Bai Qi could see the gleam of the polished metal that shone with a regal light. The dark chestnut colored horses drawing the carriage were well-groomed, emanating a noble aura. The driver himself looked like a gentleman, wearing a grey suit that matched the colors of the carriage. Lanterns hung from the driver's armrests, their flames flickering in the early morning breeze. The carriage, set against the glowing sunrise behind it, was an imposing figure. On the sides of the carriage were two soldiers on horses, and another could be seen following shortly behind.
The rider to the left of the carriage sped up a bit, leaving the side of the carriage. He came up to Da Lao before dismounting. Taking a quick glance at Bai Qi before turning away, he dropped on his knee, bowing down to Da Lao.
"General," he said. "The carriage as you requested. We came as the usual guard of 2 for the escort, accompanied by a trainee. The trainee will be shadowing the carriage, as usual training rounds go. We also have a sub-squadron of six rangers assembled around this town that will follow at a distance. The other rangers that were assigned to shadow you have been called to head back to the city, or to various tasks as the mission hall has instructed." Bai Qi marvelled at how still this man was. It was as if he had become a statue.
* 'Oh, you lucked out. A general with a bit of power. Guess the city really didn't want to take the chance that you might be some rich brat that held some power.' *
"Very well," Da Lao replied. He waited for the carriage and the other riders to arrive. Suddenly, he barked "DROP DOWN, 50 FOR INCOMPETENCE. YOU ARE OVER 3 MINUTES LATE." He yelled these words so suddenly that Bai Qi was shocked. It was as if he had seen a demon take over Da Lao.
The man on his knee immediately dropped down and started doing push-ups. The other rider who was on the right of the carriage also dropped, falling off his horse into a push up position, mirroring the first rider. The trainee, on the other hand, was stupefied for a second before following the actions of the two riders in front of him.
"Dagger," Da Lao said, icily stretching his hand. The first man took a dagger from the side of his waist using his right arm before throwing the dagger to Da Lao, handle side up. The throw was perfect, falling perfectly into Da Lao's hand. Bai Qi stared in shock, for the man not only had followed Da Lao's order without hesitating one bit, he also threw the dagger while doing pushups, not breaking the first order that Da Lao had given. Using his left arm only, he continued the pushups in a continuous manner, without even a single break in stride.
Da Lao took the dagger, looked at it, and said, "Add 10 more for not cleaning your dagger properly. The first rule a soldier must follow is to come into battle with his equipment ready." Then he took the dagger, and flicked his hand, throwing the dagger at the trainee.
Bai Qi followed the dagger with his eyes, becoming a blur as it sped in the air before landing directly in between the hands of the trainee. The trainee yelped before collecting himself, not making another sound.
"25 more for hesitating. My orders are absolute. 20 for making that atrocious sound, we don't show fear. And 10 because you managed to piss me off. Add another 20 for the horrible job done while shadowing the carriage. You missed some signs that I had told my rangers to leave."
* 'Oh I like him. Now this is how you command those under you.' The thing seemed starstruck, as if it was salivating at the thought of power. *
Da Lao turned around to face Bai Qi, who was shocked. Da Lao laughed. "Don't worry, as their general I need to train them to be prepared at any cost," he said "Anyway, the carriage is here. Let's start getting ready to leave."
He ushered Bai Qi into the carriage before getting in himself. The inside was furnished with leather and quite roomy. As he was about to close the door, a voice rang out.
"WAIT," Zhong Xin yelled. He was carrying a small bag with a few belongings inside. In his hands were some papers and a pouch of money tied to his waist. "I'm coming with you guys."
"So you decided to come after all," Da Lao said. "The more, the merrier."
Bai Qi was surprised. He hadn't thought that Zhong Xin would want to go to the city.
Seeing his questioning face, Zhong Xin quickly replied. "The trails for the alchemist sect are taking place next week alongside the other sect trials. I've already spoken to General Da Lao about it, and he said that he would put in a good word for me if I decided to come."
"Well," Bai Qi smiled. "I'm glad you decided to come along with us. It would have been lonely in the city by myself."
Da Lao knocked on the panel in front of him to let the driver know that he was ready to leave. The carriage briskly departed as the riders, who had finished their push-ups, mounted their saddles and taken their positions to the sides and rear of the carriage.
Webnovel doesn't let me add any actual notes, putting a limit at 500 characters, so I decided to hijack this portion of the chapter. :)
Shout out to Silverbro, who has been voting crazily, thanks a lot, helped me. Because of him I released this chapter faster than usual. Shout out to SoManyWays, Nasimul, and DyslexicsUntie (love the name, found out it's the name of a support group for people with dyslexia).
Shout out to jiggly_tofu, and my other editor who still hasn't made an account (smh I need his votes).
ATTENTION : rate the novel :) leave a comment, the comment sections look empty af. Start a discussion, make fun of me, whatever you want, just fill the comment section :) If every visitor leaves a comment, all 5.3k of you as of now, then we'd have a real party.
I'm not planning on going premium, nor dropping this novel, though I may lag behind in chapters because I have a life and this is a hobby :).
And yeah, I guess, stick around if you like it so far. :)
Chapter 2 hints at a major twist, have fun looking. I will neither confirm anything nor deny, just look at it a bit closer. :) Adios.
Chapters are a bit longer than usual, this hit close to 1.7k words. I will probably shorten them to 1.4k as the usual standard, though most chapters will go above.