Tom and Arnet drew closer to Hill City until; finally, they were underneath the looming city walls. The two of them looked up and could see the sentries posted in the well-lit areas on the wall above the closed gate. Likewise, the sentries looking down could see the two men and one horse approach.
"Oi! Open up" Arnet shouted up to the guards.
The guards hearing this were a bit disgruntled. They were already stuck with night duty, a job everyone detested, but, now they had a couple of clowns coming during the middle of the night telling them to open the gate. This annoyed them because the city gates would remain closed at night. The only exceptions were when important people came, but, from their point of view Tom and Arnet looked like ordinary travellers.
"It's night! The gate's closed!" The guards shouted back.
"I think you're going to want to open up" Arnet shouted up again.
Hearing this some of the guards started to grumble amongst themselves. As far as they were concerned, ordinary people ought to know that the gates stay closed at night-time. Nevertheless, since there was nothing else going on, the commotion drew more of the guards over. Amongst this new group of people there were some people with better cultivation levels that could see Tom and Arnet more clearly. Unlike the first group of guards, who were all low levelled cultivators, they could see the blood soaked clothes of Tom, and, some of the guards with particularly apt vision could even make out the onyx black symbol of a fist that represented the Iron Fist sect on Arnet's top.
The new group of guards realised that a sect member was trying to bring an injured man to see a doctor, but, although some of them sympathised with his situation, they didn't make a move to open the gate. In fact, it wouldn't have been much of a problem to open the gate. There were actually two gates. One large one that was the main thoroughfare for traffic passing though the city walls, and, a smaller gate to the side that was still big enough to lead a horse through. Nevertheless, it was policy to keep the gates closed at night.
"The gates stay closed at night. If you need a doctor you'll have to wait or go to village" one of the new guards shouted down.
"Yeah, well what if I tell you that this man here is TOM FUCKING CARDINAL!" shouted Arnet.
Hearing this, the expressions on guard's faces instantly changed. They didn't know who Tom Cardinal was, nor did they know what he looked like, but, the name Cardinal was all they needed to know.
The weaker guards who couldn't see Tom and Arnet very well began discussing amongst themselves. They had never heard of a Tom Cardinal before and judging by the way the two of them had approached, they assumed they were just a couple of travellers. They thought that they were just some jokers that were trying to use the Cardinal name to get them to open the city gates. In fact, they could be forgiven for this. After all, Tom Cardinal wasn't exactly a high profile figure, even if he was part of the Cardinal family.
But, the reaction of the stronger guards, who could see the two more clearly, and the more experienced guards, who had better judgement, began to have a sinking feeling in their chests. Although they too didn't know the name Tom Cardinal, they weren't willing to risk the consequences if there was one. After all, from their point of view there were many members of the Cardinal family. It wasn't like they knew all of them. Plus, the person below them was covered in blood. If he really was a member of the Cardinal family and they turned him away, the consequences could be disastrous.
"Just a moment" one of the stronger guards shouted down as several others ran to get their superior.
A few moments later, the smaller side gate was opened and several guards appeared from it. Amongst them was the senior guard who was responsible for the east gate of the city during the night shift. He came over to the two, quickly looked them over, then turned to Tom and asked "You're a member of the Cardinal clan?"
The senior guard was a little bit suspicious of Tom because he could see that Tom wasn't a cultivator. He wasn't aware of there being a member of the Cardinal clan that was like that, but, on the other hand, he reasoned that the clan wouldn't publicise something like that either. If he was telling the truth it would still make sense that they wouldn't know who he was. What's more, the man beside him that had done the shouting was a member of the Iron Fist sect. The Iron Fist sect had a long history in the area and they were generally considered to be respectable, so, the senior guard didn't think he would make up such a lie, causing a commotion at Hill City's gate during the night. If he was lying, although there may not be any punishment, it would damage his own reputation as well as the reputation of his sect.
"Yes. My name is Tom Cardinal. I'm the son of the 10th elder and grandson of the 4th elder of the Cardinal clan." Tom replied to the guard.
The senior Guard had now cast most of the doubts of Tom's identity out of his heart. It wasn't because Tom had revealed information that made him immediately recognisable, on the contrary, the guard would still have to check up on this information to make sure it was correct, but, the guard couldn't imagine that an ordinary person would dare to bullshit about being a member of the Cardinal clan at the gates of Hill City.
"Follow me" The senior guard said and then turned and passed through the gateway.
Tom and Arnet followed and went through the passage after him. Going through the wall, Tom was able to tell its proportions. The wall was quite high, 20m, and about 6m thick. They exited through to the other side of the wall and started to walk into the heart of city. They were taking one of the main roads and were heading for the Cardinal clan estate.
Unlike before, when Tom and Arnet were walking in darkness outside of the city, there were lights burning along the road and in some of the buildings. The road too, wasn't deserted. There were people who enjoyed late night debauchery still here and there, although considering that it would soon be approaching first light, the number of people still active were very few.
Tom's eyes followed the road up and could see a large building situated on a gently sloping hill in the distance. This building was the Governor's office of Hill City. It took up a fair amount of land just by itself and also controlled a fair amount of the surrounding land. In fact, there were several similar buildings situated in the city. These included the large estates belonging to the prominent and wealthy families residing in Hill City, as well as other official buildings, such as the city barracks.
Tom was actually quite curious about the city, being that it was somewhat of a new experience for him. Of course, he'd visited the city of the gods in the Heavenly Realm before, but, the experience was rather different. As he walked he continued to take the sights in around him, but, there were few buildings that were as well illuminated or eye catching as the Governor's office, so, in the dark of the night he wasn't able to make much out.
As they continued plodding along a man in a guard uniform ran up to them.
"Captain" shouted the man as he approached and made his way over to the senior guard that had been leading Tom and Arnet.
He was followed shortly afterwards by several other men. These men were dressed differently from the guards Tom had seen so far. This was because they were men from the Cardinal estate.
There was one well-dressed old man leading a small group of guards. The uniforms these guards were wearing were slightly different and were characterised by an emblem of a red sword over their hearts, symbolising that they were the personal guards of the Cardinal clan.
The leading man took one look at Tom and then immediately questioned with urgency "Tom, where's Paul".