Two figures appeared in the dead of the night, apparently stepping out of thin air. These two were Maling and Xiaoxia. At the same time and thereafter a few thousand others popped up at various spots nearby.
No one took heed as it is common for the spatial transportation hub. The new arrivals proceeded to the arrival checkpoint to register their credentials and purpose of visit.
As each person approached the symbols on the ground before each checkpoint it gave a momentary flicker and a hologram will appear in front of the checkpoint staff.
It showed in comprehensive details bio-metrics, race, origins, allegiances, past travels, familial roots and connections, profession, Ki Realm and other relevant information.
“Ugh” Maling let out note of slight discomfort, his had a slightly green cast to his face.
“Lord Maling, are you ok?” Xiaoxia asked while looking at the now dead Ki crystals, all that was left was a colorless transparent sphere.
“I am fine, are you ok?” Maling replied and asked in return.
Xiaoxia nodded, the moment he arrived, he was in awe of the city. Lights stretch out as far as one can see, and they looked like earthbound stars. Majestic skyscrapers filled the skies and even in the middle of the night people filled its streets.
The whole city was alight, illuminated some form of contraption. The opulence and extravagance of the illumination was not lost on Xiaoxia, back in his town, there was no such opulence and illumination was used in bare sufficiency.
Maling grinned to himself as he looked at Xiaoxia, however he also had a quizzical look.
“Young friend, do you not felt anything when we arrived?”
“Lord Maling, nope, should I be? Do you want this back?” Xiaoxia asked passing the now used crystal back.
“Oh never mind, it’s nothing” Maling replied, which a wave of his hands.
The hub was immense and surrounded by energy barriers, there were around a hundred such hubs catering to the gigacity they were in. Crescent Lake had almost 3 billion inhabitants and the city stretched out from its center almost a thousand leagues in all directions.
Every hub was designed to have a clear view of the city, the planning team and designer wanted to show off the splendid views to new arrivals here.
On a daily basis tens of millions of merchants and others constantly travelled between various parts of the colony to Crescent City. Besides people, unimaginable amount of cargo and goods were transported at bigger hubs. The number of hubs were barely sufficient, due to the constant maintenance down time of a large number of hubs at any given day.
“Lord Maling, how long will we be here for?” Xiaoxia asked. He first hoped that if more time was spent here he could perhaps explore the city a little as he parents had given him 2 neon green Ki crystals as trip expenses.
After seeing a single trip costs an azure crystal worth 10,000 neon green ones, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to stay for long.
“Once you earn enough to leave this city” Maling tried to antagonize him further, somehow knowing Xiaoxia was a little anxious of costs now.
Much to Xiaoxia’s surprise, he soon found out that Maling was 207 years, much older than his parents. He knew he had taken part in the last major conflict a hundred years before, but never guessed he was that age. Xiaoxia knew a few others in his town who were around 200, and they looked much older.
As they moved from their arrival spot to about three hundred yards to their right, they approached an array of check points with various signs catering to various groups, ‘Merchants’, ‘Residences’, ‘Non Residences’, ‘Military Personnel’ and a host of others.
However Maling was heading towards one without any markings. It looked like any other, except it was situate on the far end, quite a distance from the main checkpoints.
“Lord Maling!!!” a sentry saluted as they approached.
“Ah! Shhhh” Maling hurriedly covered the sentry’s mouth looking embarrassed, all eyes in the hub suddenly turned and were looking at them. Maling avoided announcing his station wherever he went, as he was a commoner by birth. He still did not adjust properly to his higher station even though it has been many years, and he avoided public functions or interaction with crowds.
“Sir, your arrival is timely, Her Royal Grace Arch Duchess Amelia has only just disseminated instructions for your presence!”
“Oh? How did she know I was coming?” Maling arched his one of his eyebrows in question.
“Sorry Lord Maling, we are not privy to such information” the sentry replied.
Without saying anything else, Maling nodded and walked past the checkpoint with Xiaoxia in tow.
As they exited the checkpoint, they entered a lobby that was finely built, from the polished floor to the intrinsically chiseled statues that covered the walls. The ceiling had a mural that actually mimicked the skies above.
Towards the north east side as they entered, there was a rather lavish dais, it had precious metals and gems engraved and set into it.
As Maling and Xiaoxia stood on the dais, there was a light emitting from Maling’s insignia on his collar that was in sync with the same color the dais gave off. Within a blink they have arrived somewhere else.
“Hmmph that rascal Maling, always moving around and never replying to my summons” vented Amelia to her chamber maids. The maids however knew better than to reply.
This is the Arch Duchess Amelia, princess of the Imperial family by birth and granted the title Arch Duchess by her 1st century.
She is 184 years old now, but still had an ageless beauty common females her race. The Hu Yuan Empire is rule since antiquity by the Sha Mo Ren. Only about a dozen of so empires had a history like theirs.
“Blingaling!!” a short crystalline sound came from the door. The door maid look through a visor and slowly opened it.
“Your Royal Grace, Lord Ma has arrived as per your request!” an Imperial Guard announced. Imperial Guards only serve members of the direct royal family. The Emperor had other siblings, but they were not considered his direct line, and did not have claim to the throne.
“Show him to the private meeting hall” Amelia replied.
If the view of the city at night had amazed Xiaoxia, being at the palace of the colony capital was jaw dropping, in fact his jaws managed to reach the floor.
The palace was the highest structure in the whole capital and the view of the city stretched out into the darkness, a view more splendid than what he had saw earlier.
Upon arriving at the palace transport hub, they had to traverse another 3 more checkpoints within the humongous structure before reaching the Arch Duchess’s private meeting hall.
Xiaoxia found out later it was designed to hinder trespassers.
The hall was situated on one of the upper spires that made up the flotilla of others that raised up like needles in the sky.
“All kneel for Her Royal Grace the Arch Duchess of the Hu Yuan Empire, 12th in line of succession by decree of his Imperial Majesty Emperor Qing!” a grand voice announced.
Upon hearing this, all present knelt and Maling as well as Xiaoxia followed suit.
“Maling you bastard!” Amelia shouted the moment she appeared onto the throne.
“Your Royal Grace, I do not understand” Maling replied.
“Leave us!” Amelia told the Imperial guards as well as her other attendants.
“Yes your Royal Grace” they replied in unison and shuffled out the main door.
When all of them left, Amelia turned to Maling and Xiaoxia “You two, raise!”
“Thank you your Royal Grace!” Maling acknowledge and gave a mischievous grin in the direction of Amelia as he stood up.
“Ah! You are incorrigible” Amelia laughed.
“Your Royal Grace, you look as beautiful as they day we first met” Maling slightly bowed and flattered Amelia.
“You scoundrel, no need to flatter me, I have been trying to contact you for over ten years now and you never even reply to my summons”
“But your Royal Gr…”
“Cut with the pleasantries, there is no one here, just call me by name”
“Okay, but Amelia, I really was busy with regional duties”
“Excuses! Are you trying to go back on you promise!!!”
“No I am all for keeping it, but it is not within my power” Maling lamented.
“Oh is it? Anyway I have good news for you” Amelia replied.
“Good news, erm, your definition of good news is sometimes skewed” Maling jested.
“Grrrr, is that so?”
“Yes it is, every time you gave me ‘good’ news, I end up doing something tiring and troublesome”
The last 3 times Amelia gave him good news was 50, 60 and 90 years ago. All were rank promotions from Knight > Knight Lieutenant > Knight Captain > Knight Major.
It all involved forming his own Knight crops and training them, as well as regularly serving as a deterrence against rampaging beast at remote areas, where precious resources were being mined and gathered.
“Well its different now, as per entering into the Ki Grandmaster Realm Expert Rank a decade back, you are now qualified and have been bestowed the title of Viscount of the Empire” Amelia smugly said, noticing Xiaoxia had widened his eyes a little on hearing that.
“What! This means more travel! Ugh! Oh No! This means spending more azure Ki Crystals!” Maling responded unhappily.
“Azure crystals? Pfft, those are peanuts, you will get sufficient monetary compensation as well as a bigger coffer for your new status. Besides no one asked you to travel the way you do” Amelia replied.
Maling could only nod at this.
“Oh by the way, you are now in charge of our colony’s Scarlet Condor Province.”
“Nooooooooooooooooooo” Maling could only cry inwardly.