Chapter 5: The Apprentice meets the Soldier – Unexplainable (Part 2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Saleen took the gold coins and put on the robe that Jason had prepared for him. This robe had not been tailor-made. Although Saleen had been eating well, he was still just a twelve-year-old child and was not that tall. Even if the hem were to be cut off, it would still not fit Saleen well.
The six gold coins that he had with him were a large sum of money. In the past, he would not have spent this much even in an entire year.
There had been no change to Ceylon City. The lazy soldiers guarding the city gate did not even bat an eyelid at Saleen. Even though he had not visited in the last six months, the soldiers were still able to recognize him. Collecting an entry tax from a beggar? They would be a laughing stock if the other cities got wind of this.
Saleen walked along the road and stopped at a restaurant. Since it was still early in the day, he was not in a hurry to go to the grain store. Even when he had been penniless, he had always wanted to dine here. With the six gold coins on him, his dream could finally come true.
It was not a small restaurant. To its right, there was a courtyard for horse carriages to be docked. Although Ceylon City was no longer in its prime, there were still a few nobles and businessmen left. Sikeqinya was an empire of trade; its four main trades could be found throughout the Myers Mainland. Ceylon City, being a port city, had not diminished completely. Even though it was declining, it still had some life left in it.
The restaurant enjoyed high patronage, as the wealthy in Ceylon City often chose it as a venue for entertainment.
Saleen was no longer illiterate. He looked up at the inscribed board above him. Written on the board above the main door was a line in the Myers language – The Whale of Ceylon.
When Ceylon City had been flourishing, the signature dish in this restaurant had been whale meat. Now that few fishermen were willing to fish for whales, the restaurant had hired a chef from Qin Empire to hold the fort. However, this board had not been replaced for hundreds of years. If one were willing to fork out a sufficient number of gold coins, there would be fishermen willing to risk their lives at sea.
Saleen could not afford whale meat, but it would not cost him more than two silver coins for two dishes on the first floor.
He walked into The Whale of Ceylon, found himself an empty seat, and sat down. To his surprise, the server saw him, hurried to his table, and hollered at him loudly, “Beggar, get out of here quickly. There is nothing for you to eat.”
Saleen fumed, his whole face turning red. He had previously been a beggar, but now he was an apprentice learning magic. Even an apprentice had dignity. He fished out a gold coin from his pocket and slammed it hard on the table. He looked at the server from the side of his eye and asked, “Who were you calling a beggar?”
The server was astounded, and quickly put a smile on his face. He bowed as he nodded his head and said, “Oh, young master, I must have mistaken you for someone else. There was a young boy that did not pay for his food yesterday. That certainly was not you. Please pardon me, I shall bring you the menu now.”
He turned and walked off, fearful of hearing Saleen’s reply. Saleen did not feel appeased, but since the server had apologized, it would be uncivilized of him to continue to rant.
Saleen did not notice that a few patrons had come down from the second floor. Leading the way was that one plump businessman, and next to him was the servant who had previously nearly killed him with his kick.
The businessman was surprised at the sight of Saleen, especially the gleaming gold coin on his table. At one glance, he could tell that it was a genuine Sikeqinya Empire oak gold coin.
The businessman maintained his composure and left The Whale of Ceylon. After he had stepped out of the door, he said to the servant next to him, “That lad looked like he was that jinx from the Metatrin clan. How is he still alive?”
“Master, I am puzzled as well. If no one helped him, he should have starved to death by now. I thought I saw a gold coin with him just now,” replied the servant, his brows furrowed.
“Strange. He is a beggar; where did he get the gold coin?”
“Master, I heard that there has been a gang of bandits in the city recently, and they have adopted some children. Do you think that…”
“So what if he was? Worm, go to the city guard department and call for a few soldiers. Inform them that we have lost money, and get this lad arrested and killed off. Take this gold coin with you, and do as I told you…” the businessman told him carefully. Then, with a few other servants, he returned to The Whale of Ceylon.
Saleen had no idea of the catastrophe that was ahead of him. He ordered two inexpensive dishes costing less than two silver coins altogether. As he was still underage, he did not dare consume alcohol. Hence, he ordered a pot of tea, and enjoyed it immensely. Then, he realized that his attire was not all that suitable for The Whale of Ceylon, as he saw that the other diners were well-dressed. Some were even dressed in clothes tailored-made with silk from the Qin Empire.
His robe looked like it had been picked up somewhere. It was no wonder that the server had wanted to chase him out. He decided that he would buy himself proper attire once he had the money to do so, so that he would not be so looked down upon.
The first dish that Saleen had ordered was served. Before he even managed to pick up his cutlery, four soldiers dashed in through the door and held him down at once. Without a word, they chained him up.
“What are you all doing?!” Unable to fight back, Saleen was both terrified and livid.
“What? Lad, you have committed a crime and still have the nerve to dine here. Bring him back!” The soldiers who seized him were behaving savagely like wild tigers and wolves. They were from the city guard department, and were responsible for maintaining the security of Ceylon City. As there was rarely additional revenue to be made and someone had lodged a report today, they had kept the gold coin, regardless of the truth. They had not had such an unusual transaction for the last two years.
“Bullsh*t!” Saleen’s face was pinned to the hard table top, and he began to lose his composure. He had done nothing, and struggled to resist. A city guard soldier lifted his leg and gave Saleen a kick in his ribs.
Saleen made a sound that did not sound human. This kick had been so harsh that his bones had cracked. That kick brought back memories of his days as a beggar. Back then, he had felt nothing when he was hurt by such random kicking. But now, Saleen felt humiliated. He turned his face to the side, and spat hard at the other soldier’s face.
The soldiers retaliated with a series of punches and kicks. The vicious soldiers resorted to using an iron chain to bridle Saleen’s mouth. The four soldiers then dragged Saleen out. The businessman sneakily followed behind them. The server pursued them, shouting, “Master, that person has not paid.”
The soldier laughed, “His money is stolen. Do you want stolen money?”
“I would not dare,” the server replied submissively, feeling unlucky. He should not have attended to this lad, looking at his improper attire. The cost of his meal would be deducted from his salary. Damn! He had done half a month of work for nothing! He hurriedly turned around and brought the dish on the table back to the kitchen. He was hoping that the second order had not been prepared yet, which would save him from needing to pay for it.
Saleen was brought to the city guard department. Without interrogation, he was thrown straight into the dungeon.
Saleen had recovered some of his energy. Using all his might to knock on the metal bars, he shouted, “Why did you arrest me?!”
The four soldiers turned around and grinned. “If you hadn’t mentioned it, I had nearly forgotten that we have not searched for the stolen money on your body!”
“The money is mine!” Saleen’s six gold coins were removed from his body; it was futile to resist.
“Now it is ours.” The soldier locked up the metal gate, ignoring Saleen’s cries. They did not even hear the critical information that Saleen shouted in a hoarse voice, “My teacher is a mage!” In fact, even if they had heard it, the few soldiers would not have believed it. What kind of mage would take this beggar as an apprentice? Not even the lord had the opportunity to invite a mage home.
Saleen was beginning to feel frightened and even a little despondent. He had absolutely no idea what was happening. Jason usually did not venture out of his room, perhaps only once every two weeks or so, and did not even eat the weekly meals Saleen prepared for him.
It was pitch black in the dungeon, and in Saleen’s fears escalated in his heart. He opened his mouth but did not know what to shout anymore. There was pain in his face, especially in his jaw. The bone there might have been broken. His lips were swollen. Although Saleen could feel tears welling in his eyes, he resisted them.
I am an apprentice of magic now. No more crying, not now, not ever!
As night fell, Ceylon City quieted down, and the city gate was locked. Under the moonlight, a shadow quickly approached the city gate, with speed as fast as lightning. This man came to the outside of the gate with his eyebrows furrowed. With a lift of his arms, a pair of wing-like attachments opened up on his back. He flew into the air, over the city wall, and headed into the city.
The guard on patrol discovered the shadow and yelled, “Who is there!?”
The man did not pay him any attention. His silhouette had appeared against in the moonlight and then disappeared at the end of the street. Soon after, the man arrived at the City Guard Department. Under the moonlight, his gray magic robe gave him an air of mystery, as smoke enveloped him. This person was Jason Statham, who had made a magic mark on Saleen’s body. As Saleen did not return, Jason knew that something must have happened. He followed the directions from the magic mark and came to Ceylon City.
The magic mark could direct the mage. Even though Saleen had been locked underground, it was not a problem for Jason.
“Who…” the soldier on duty had barely shouted out his question before Jason had grabbed his throat and raised him up in the air. A Grade 5 mage’s body was powerful and could not be defeated by any ordinary soldier.
“Where is that boy you captured today? Bring me to him,” Jason said coldly, with none of the gentle demeanor he usually used on Saleen.
Jason drew the soldier’s face closer and stared straight into his eyes, “Bring me to where you lock up the convicts, and call everyone out here.”
The soldier was so terrified that he felt as though his spirit had left his body. He had seen a demon in the eyes of this middle-aged man who was grabbing him, and it was drawing its tongue out from its eyes to wrap it around his neck to constrict his breathing. His legs softened, and whitish foam appeared at his mouth as he dropped onto the ground. Jason scowled – he had probably overused his shock tactic. The soldier was, at most, a junior swordsman and could not withstand this.
Jason decided to follow the directions by the magic mark to locate the dungeon. With the use of illumination magic, the dungeon was aglow. Upon seeing that Jason had appeared, he grabbed the metal bars with both his hand – speechless. He had lost his voice entirely.
Given the commotion caused by Jason, all the soldiers on duty had already blocked the exit to the dungeon. One of the soldiers hollered, “Bold outlaw! How dare you break into jail, put down your weapon this instance!”
As he was about to continue speaking, another sharp-eyed soldier pointed at the brightly-lit dungeon and stammered, “It looks like.. looks like…
“Magic? You must be joking!”
Jason ignored them and tugged at the lock with one hand. All it took was a gentle yank, and the lock opened. Saleen pushed the metal gate opened and dashed out, almost crashing into Jason’s embrace. His lips moved slightly, but even he could not also tell what the sound that was coming out from his own throat was.
“Who was the one who had captured my apprentice?” Jason asked expressionlessly.
The soldiers looked at each other – no one had dared to answer. One of them cursed in his heart: which death-seeking a*shole got us into trouble? To think he captured a mage’s apprentice.
“If no one knows…”Jason did not say much. He stretched his hand out, and a fireball appeared, suspended in his palm.
Fireball skill was only a Grade 1 magic, but to have evoked and suspend it from release would be something just a Grade 4 mage can do. However, these ordinary soldiers could barely afford to offend any mage, no matter the grade.
“Mas…ter… sir, please do not be angered. I will help you with the search,” a savvy soldier said, as he turned and ran towards the exit.
Looking solemn as he pulled Saleen along, he walked out from the dungeon to the main hall of the City Guard Department and took a seat in there.