AWG - Chapter 0001: A Youth and A Dog
Smoke Signal Mountain Prison, the Xia Dynasty’s largest prison, lay in the desolate southern zone neighboring the barbarians’ territory. A range of hundreds of mountain ridges formed the area’s boundaries. Trees and wild foliage covered these ridges, which were dotted with precipitous cliffs and home to ferocious, wandering beasts. This was clearly no ordinary prison.
All of the prisoners locked up in Smoke Signal Mountain Prison had committed serious offenses or were captives of other races. None had any hope of release or escape.
The Smoke Signal Mountain Prison also produced a valuable stone called Scarlet Steel Rock. Prisoners of the lowest rank were tasked with mining the Scarlet Steel Rock and surrendering the results to management. The stone would then be sent to the dynasty’s forges.
Meanwhile, a topless youth kept his head down, silent as he mined in a corner of the prison.
His body still bore fresh, bleeding wounds.
He appeared disheveled with rumpled, dirty hair and shackles dragging at his hands and feet. However, he was taller and stronger than others his age, and he had a pleasant, sharp face. While he wasn’t particularly handsome, he was certainly extraordinary. His unyielding gaze was especially striking, boundless energy brightening his eyes. Even under inhumane persecution, he stood with his back straight as if nothing could keep him down.
Unfortunately, even a resilient body would fail after such prolonged punishment. He tripped on a stone and nearly fell.
Almost instantly, a ruthless whip snaked out to strike the young man.
Another might have screamed from the lashing, but this youth only gritted his teeth, soundless. Even so, the sweat dripping down his face and the seeping blood betrayed his pain.
“Playing dead, brat? If you don’t take your work seriously, I may have to cripple you. You’ll never see the next sunrise!” the prison guard snarled. He then proceeded to kick the youth several times without mercy.
“Milord, look at his frail body. He only arrived a few days ago and hasn’t adjusted to the prison yet. Lash me instead. I’ll take the punishment for his mistake!” a strange boy volunteered.
This boy looked more mature, though his hair had clumped in a comical way like some bird’s nest. His eyes were bright, even though he looked frail. He was nearly the injured youth’s opposite.
“Skinny Monkey, don’t get cocky just because you can handle a beating. Some things you should keep your nose out of, or you’ll lose even the chance to spell the word ‘death’ before you meet your end!” the guard hissed disdainfully. He then turned back to the newcomer. “Get back to work! Don’t blame me for your suffering if you fail to meet your quota.”
Finished with the boys, the guard turned and walked away.
The youth called Skinny Monkey set down a stone he held, approaching the other boy. Concerned, he asked, “Brother, are you alright?”
The newcomer lifted his head, revealing a resolute expression. With a flash of pearly-white teeth, he grinned. “I won’t die, but thanks for your concern.”
“Did you offend someone important? To think they’re giving you such a hard time…. They must be torturing you more than anyone else here! They even treated me, Old Sun, better than this when I first arrived!” Skinny Monkey’s original name was Sun Dou, so there wasn’t anything unusual about referring to himself as ‘Old Sun’.
“Perhaps they are envious of how handsome this viscount is. We’ll see how difficult their lives become once I turn things around!” The comment came off somewhat narcissistic, but the injured boy looked determined.
Skinny Monkey rolled his eyes, thinking, You’re not hideous, but you’re a prisoner now. Thinking you can turn things around…. What a joke!
Who knew that this young man, who had only been thrown into this prison three days ago, had once been a hereditary viscount of the Xia Dynasty.
In the Xia Dynasty, only children of earls gained hereditary titles of nobility. An earl’s clan would be both rich and powerful, so how did this young viscount end up here?
In truth, the boy had rejected a proposed marriage to the royal clan. As a result, he had been thrown in prison, his parents had been censured and demoted, and his brother had lost his title as a top scholar. Inadvertently, he had set in motion a tragic chain of events.
“How can I let myself die in this damned place with my parents, my brother, and my unfulfilled promise on the line? I will free myself from this identity and this prison! I have to claim justice for the Yang Clan!” the young man, Yang Wu, howled between gritted teeth, overwhelmed with frustration.
He refused to give up hope. Even if heaven demanded his death and future, he would break through the darkness and see the light again.
Yang Wu sent a stone flying with a kick.
“I knew that brat was faking it!” The guard sneered, watching from nearby.
Another guard beside the first grumbled, “The superiors are really a pain. If they wanted him dead, they’d just need to find an excuse to execute him. Why put it off? Isn’t it annoying?”
“They want him to suffer a life worse than death. We just have to follow orders. In any case, he can’t do anything,” the first guard replied.
Yang Wu went back to mining, dragging his heavy feet as he did so. He kept himself standing through sheer determination, earning Skinny Monkey’s respect, who watched his newfound companion.
If this guy survives, he might be a worthy friend! Skinny Monkey thought.
Just then, Yang Wu felt his crowbar connect with something more solid than the surrounding rock. Startled, he noticed a hazy wisp escaping the crack he had just created, which vanished a moment before he heard a soft bark.
Puzzled, Yang Wu nudged aside the shattered stone by his feet, revealing a small black dog in the mud. The dog stared up at him with alert eyes, exposing sharp canines. It was covered in sleek, glossy fur, with drooping ears and stubby legs. Its white paws appeared soft as clouds, and when it stood, it wobbled like a newborn puppy. It was quite cute.
Yang Wu had not eaten for three days, and the small dog looked as enticing as barbequed meat. Wiping the drool from his mouth, he snatched up the dog, muttering to himself, “I’ll finally have a full stomach.”
Woof! Woof…. The little black dog seemed to understand the young man, giving him a pitiful look and whine. It was almost as if it pleaded with Yang Wu.
Sighing, he began to hesitate. “I haven’t eaten for three days, little fellow. I’ll die here if I don’t eat. Please, sacrifice yourself for my future. Let me have a nice meal.”
Terrified, the black dog wiggled and held up its front paws. After a few yelps, the pup revealed a small item almost from out of nowhere, presenting it to the boy.
He didn’t think much of it at first, yet when he took a closer look, he discovered that the item was a strange peach pit.
The pit was smooth as jade, covered in odd interlocking stripes. It bore a thousand holes, from which escaped a mysterious mist.
Curious, Yang Wu held the pit in his palm. It felt warm, like a piece of peak-quality jade. He was reluctant to let it go.
Bark! Bark! Whine…whine…! The pup protested, glaring possessively at the boy. It acted insistent about offering the pit as the sacrifice, rather than itself.
Yang Wu found this little black dog cute and intelligent, and after a moment, he realized he couldn’t bear to eat the animal. “Alright. Since you’re so smart and cute, I won’t eat you. However, I will keep this peach pit as a sign of respect for your elder.”
Setting the small dog down, Yang Wu tucked the pit away, keeping it close.
The young man then returned to his task, hoping he’d be luckier today. He’d need to mine enough Scarlet Steel Rock to exchange for food.
Despite his exhaustion, having overdrawn his energy reserves, Yang Wu felt something warm near his abdomen. A restoring stream of energy flowed into him.
Yang Wu didn’t think much of it at first, but after working for a while longer, he connected the feeling to the peach pit he carried at his waist.
Before he could consider the idea further, he struck an average-sized chunk of Scarlet Steel Rock near where he had unearthed the little black dog.
“I finally found enough for a meal!” Yang Wu exclaimed, as excited as if he had unburied treasure.
As he reached for the stone, however, another's hand appeared and snatched it away.
“How lucky! I just got here and managed to find a piece of Scarlet Steel Rock! Not bad, not bad!” the thief cockily congratulated himself.
A vicious light instantly flashed in Yang Wu’s eyes.
Translated by: DragonInWhite
Edited by: FluffyGoblyn
Checked by: DragonInWhite
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