Chapter 1: The King, Jiang Shutian, is Born, Part One—translated by Kiki (proofread by Arcedemius, Lala Su, & Trespasserby; C/E edited by lucathia)
Dàge didn't seem to really care as he asked, "Can I tell other people?"
"Yeah, you can." I also thought it was the right thing to do. Telling everybody at once was better than saying it here and repeatedly saying it later. "I'll go and gather everyone."
Having a small amount of people had its advantages. I didn't have to search for long to gather them all. It was just a pity that the third floor's conference room wasn't completed yet. We could only gather in the dining room on the first floor, making it feel like it was meal time. At times, people even reached their hands out to take peanuts and melon seeds from the table to chew on. Where's the serious atmosphere? Getting the conference room built is definitely top priority!
"Why hold a meeting today?" Everybody asked curiously, as they simultaneously cracked the melon seeds between their teeth. Seeing this, I truly wanted to just take all the melon seeds along with the tray and just stuff their mouths with it.
Dàgē waved his hand toward me and everyone looked at me as if it were only natural. A group of highly experienced mercenaries automatically staring at an eighteen-year-old youth, just waiting for him to open his mouth… it was a very incongruous scene.
Their expressions pleased me. Although losing my memory led me to making a lot of wrong choices, it was fortunate that I was still able to make things right. They looked like they still had faith in me.
"I remembered who the three elites of mankind were." Although it was Jin Xiaoyue who reminded me, just thinking about how to explain how Jin Xiaoyue would know gave me a huge headache, so I'd better just skip over that.
Their eyes were all shining, clearly showing their interest. As expected of people living the mercenary life—powerful elites were a very attractive topic for them. Nobody was like the past life me who just scraped by and couldn't even remember the names of the most powerful elites.
"First is the Flame King Debert." I looked at everyone and asked, "Have you guys heard of this Debert? He's a foreigner, and he seems to be in the military."
Cain immediately widened his eyes, shouting loudly, "Does that still need to be said?! It's definitely Eagland's Soldier King, Debert!"
What a joke of a parallel world! What's the meaning of only having the names changed?! I held my head with my hand, feeling my head hurting, but when I gave it some more thought, I realized it didn't matter. Anyways, no matter what country was involved, now there was only one nation known as "Mankind."
I asked in detail, "Debert is his family name?"
Lily nodded and said, "Foreigners always address others by their family name and only address others by first name if they're close with each other."
I pondered over it. Although it was his surname and not his actual name, foreigners have very unusual last names, while they shared a bunch of the same first names. Besides, it sounded very logical for the Soldier King Debert to become the Flame King Debert, so it should be that person.
"As expected of the Soldier King."
Everybody exclaimed in admiration as if they all already knew Debert, even believing that the Soldier King becoming the Flame King wasn't anything too surprising. It seemed like this Mr. Debert really was crazy powerful, so becoming a ruler and building his own domain wasn't a strange thing for him to do.
"Since the Flame King Debert is in the faraway Eagland, we don't need to care about him for now. In any case, we can't even get in touch with him."
Although everyone nodded, they couldn't help but whisper to each other all kinds of exaggerated tales about the Soldier King's exploits. They sounded no different from myths. The only thing missing was a punch to blow away the Earth.
I couldn't help but give them a big eye roll. If this Mister Soldier Flame King was really that strong, would mankind have actually been almost driven to extinction?
"All right, let's stop worshiping the Flame King and return to the even more important matter—the strongest elites in Meisia. Are you guys listening or not?"
Everyone immediately and simultaneously stared at me, eyes shining and ears pricked. I didn't leave them in suspense. In any case, there was something far more shocking later on, so there was no need to astonish them now.
"Thunder God Jin Zhan."
Everybody was startled, too shocked to respond.
Finally, Yunqian spoke strangely, "The Jin Zhan you're talking about shouldn't be the one that I'm thinking of, right?"
I nodded. "It's him."
Cain was dumbstruck as he said, "Truly 'a wolf in sheep's clothing,' huh!"
I shot back angrily, "That's not how you use that idiom! Right now, the correct idiom you should be saying is 'you can't judge a book by its cover.'"
"But the idiom 'you can't judge a book by its cover' isn't very fitting either." Lily laughed. "Jin Zhan's looks are really impressive. After all, he isn't very old and is actually the same age as Boss. If he didn't have any imposing bearing, he wouldn't be able to preside over others."
Oh, so it's like that? That's not surprising. Jin Feng looked really mighty, so her dàgē shouldn't be any worse.
"Jin Zhan, huh?" Dàgē muttered. "We've had some dealings, but they're all the way in Zhongguan City, which is a bit far. Besides, I don't think that you have any interest in piggybacking off of him?"
"Of course not! Now, I'm going to announce the final elite, the Ice Emperor…"
I looked at everyone. None of them seemed to care very much and were even still talking about the Soldier King and Jin Zhan. My heart suddenly swelled with evil delight as I purposely stretched out the words.
Everybody was startled before each and every one of them widened their eyes, turning their heads to look at their commanding officer. Their eyes were several times bigger than normal, filled with disbelief.
"But I don't have an ice ability," Dàgē spoke calmly.
I admitted awkwardly, "In my dream, I saw that you probably stayed in Glacia, but since I called you back to Meisia, your power was influenced by that."
Dàgē nodded. Probably because he saw the guilt on my face, he said, "Fortunately, you have the ice ability now, so we're not losing out."
Although I knew Dàgē was comforting me, his words were like a sharp sword stabbing directly into my heart. It felt as if I had stolen Dàgē's ability. It'd be better if he didn't console me.
Fortunately, Dàgē's ability didn't seem to just be healing. Or maybe the truth behind the "healing" ability had never been anything simple. I didn't understand it myself, but I just felt like we should use a broader mindset to view something like "powers" in the future.
Or maybe it's like what I heard in my past life, that all abilities were just different routes leading to the same destination, and they were all simply different ways of using energy. Could this theory possibly actually hold some truth to it?
I returned to myself as I looked at Dàgē. The fact that my thoughts had wandered off again didn't need to be mentioned. In any case, everybody was already used to it by now.
"So the reason you wanted to establish a territory isn't about you wanting me to become king, but because you know that I will be a king?" Dàgē said seriously, "But Shuyu, you have to consider. I don't have the ice ability anymore, so there's no way I can become the Ice Emperor, and I might not even become one of the twelve elites."
Then how about you don't disintegrate a tree trunk and reconstruct it again for me to see! Claiming to be weak while possessing such murderous power, even Shujun won't be deceived by you!
"What does everyone else think?" I looked at the others calmly and asked, "Do you guys think that just because your boss got a different ability, he would become just another face in the crowd?"
Everybody shook their heads simultaneously with great force. I glanced at Dàgē who simply raised an eyebrow, no longer able to retort.
"All right, so how about you just properly prepare for becoming a king by first establishing this base before slowly advancing on Lan City?"
I looked at everyone. The small number of people was truly distressing, not even enough to fill the seats at a long table. We really needed to bring in more people, or else how would we advance on Lan City? We practically had no people! We couldn't even form a small platoon, not to mention an army. Even if we all had the power of the Ice Emperor and conquered Lan City, were we supposed to each watch over fifty streets and a thousand skyscrapers?
"However, I don't want to waste any time. I want to take turns taking people with me to Lan City for training."
Everyone was startled before reflexively looking at Dàgē. The latter nodded, and they all looked at me excitedly, seeming very eager.
"I only have one request, and that's to not bring any firearms. You may only bring knives at most." I said calmly, "Furthermore, there's one more condition that I'll explain clearly before we go. When we enter the city, you're responsible for your own life and death. I won't take any responsibility."
Everyone's brows rose. No one seemed to have the least bit of fear. It seemed as if none of them ever had any plans of giving up. This kind of attitude had both pros and cons.
The good thing was that everyone in the Jiang domain was worthy to be called mercenaries and weren't like common folk, who would be scared out of their wits. It was only natural that they were more useful and resilient than normal civilians. The bad thing was that ever since the apocalypse, our party had too easy of a time. What happened to putting our lives on the line to escape, having food and water shortages, or sleeping in the open without shelter? Our group had gone through none of that. Truthfully speaking, I might be the only one in our group who understood the true terror of the apocalypse.
However, this wasn't all that serious. After I took them to Lan City to face danger, it was guaranteed that they would understand everything. It'd be a lot more useful than verbally intimidating them.
I saw that nobody had any thoughts of giving up, and I also didn't try to scare them anymore. In any case, the first order of business was bringing them in with me.
"For this first trip, I can only bring one person. Therefore, we'll be drawing lots to decide the order."
I took out the bamboo sticks I had prepared ahead of time and placed them inside a pen holder before looking at everyone. Everybody including Uncle and Auntie were here. The only ones missing were Ding Jun and Su Ying.
Junjun suddenly asked, "Can I also draw for it?"
I nodded my head. "Yeah."
Junjun's eyes shone. I was completely satisfied about my little sister's fighting spirit, but Dàgē's expression darkened, making Junjun a little frightened and worried. She hesitated for a little while, but still stubbornly refused to say that she wouldn't go.
"Let's start." I changed the topic. Dàgē had already given his permission after all. He just couldn't help worrying, which was why his expression was so ugly.
Each of them took a stick. Cain even compared his number with Xiao Sha. Whichever of them left later would have to go to the kitchen to wash dishes tonight. However, apart from them, no one else showed great excitement or disappointment when they saw their number. In any case, it was just an order. They'd all eventually have the chance to go.
At this moment, Shujun suddenly gasped, attracting everyone's attention. She raised her head, shyly glancing at Dàgē.
"Junjun?" I asked, not understanding, "What happened?" Could she have pulled a terrible fortune? Wait, but that's not right. There's obviously only one, two, three on the sticks.
Junjun showed us her stick. Astonishingly, the number on the stick was one. This was even scarier than drawing a super duper bad fortune. Dàgē's expression immediately changed, turning so ugly that it made everybody fall absolutely silent, nobody daring to let out a single breath.
I was somewhat at a loss on what to do. If dìdi and mèimei paired up to go to Lan City as the leadoff hitters, it would be a wonder if Dàgē could remain calm, but if he didn't let Shujun go…
A hand snatched Junjun's stick and shoved over another one. Junjun blinked, unable to react right away. When she looked down, she saw that the "one" stick that was in her hand had been replaced with the last stick.
"There's no rule that you can't change lots, right?" Xiao Sha casually tossed that number one stick up and down.
Seeing this, Dàgē's face finally eased a little, but his brows were still creased. Even if we delayed the order, it would inevitably one day be Junjun's turn. However, it would still be better than dìdi and mèimei going into the city together right off the bat.
"Wait a minute!" Cain got up and hooted, "This doesn't count—"
Dàgē glanced sharply at Cain who immediately withered as he muttered, saying, "I, I'm saying I didn't lose to Xiao Sha. I don't want to wash dishes…"
"You will wash the dishes!" Dàgē ordered, not allowing him to disagree.
Cain looked at the number two on his stick, looking like he wanted to cry but couldn't.