Book 8, The Ten Thousand Kilometer Journey – Chapter 44, Neighbors
The provincial capital of Basil was the base of operations for the ancient Jacques clan, here in the Northwest Administrative Province. Here in the Northwest Administrative Province, the Jacques clan could be considered the local kings. During their annual clan gathering, all of the various branches of the clan would hurry over to the provincial capital.
In the northeast part of the provincial capital, there was an extremely large and ancient castle. This was the headquarters of the Jacques clan.
Yulan calendar, year 10008. November 14th. This was a day when the Jacques clan’s castle would always be decorated and brightly lit. The number of guards at the gate were tripled as well, compared to the past. In addition, many branch members of the clan were passing through the gates this day, arriving from all over the world.
“Sis, the clan’s castle is much larger than ours, at least ten times larger.” Keane peered through his carriage’s cloth door while sighing in amazement.
This carriage contained three people. Keane, Irene, and Jenne.
Jenne also stared through the door. Nodding, she said, “The clan clearly has far more experts than us as well. Only, I wonder if Great-Grandfather will be there as well.”
The Great-Grandfather which Jenne spoke of was McKenzie.
Each year, at the annual gathering, McKenzie sometimes attended but sometimes did not. However, two years ago, McKenzie did show himself once. That sighting had satisfied Jenne and Keane’s desire to see the hero whom everyone in the clan worshipped.
“It is very possible. Irene has never seen Great-Grandfather.” Keane held his wife’s hands.
The caravan quickly arrived at the castle gates. It came to a halt. Jenne, Keane, and Irene all knew the rules. They got off the carriage.
“Jenne!” A happy, teasing voice rang out.
Immediately upon hearing this voice, Jenne frowned, but then she squeezed out a smile. She turned her head and looked towards a young man with gleaming hair. “Cousin Albert [Ai’bo’te].”
“Cousin Albert.” Keane and Irene also said courteously.
Albert looked like someone who was full of himself. Being educated since he was young had given him the airs of an ancient, noble clan, but just by looking at his eyes and his face, anyone could tell that this man was an empty-headed lecher.
But Albert was the eldest son of the current clan leader of the Jacques clan, and was the successor to the position as well.
The future clan leader of the Jacques clan. Who would dare look down at Albert, given his status?
“Jenne, you are growing more beautiful by the year. Keane, Irene, don’t just stand there like idiots, come in.” Albert warmly escorted Jenne and the others into the castle.
Because the family gathering was on November 15th, quite a few people arrived on the 14th. The night of the 14th, the castle of the Jacques clan was extremely lively.
“Big sis, feeling frustrated over Albert again?”
Keane walked into Jenne’s room. Seeing Jenne standing at the window and sighing, he immediately could guess at what Jenne was thinking about.
Jenne turned her head to glance at her younger brother. Frowning, she said, “That Albert doesn’t have any good intentions. Each time at our clan gathering, he’ll come bother me. These days never pass by easily.”
“Sis.” Keane took his sister by the hand. Apologetically, he said, “I know that the only reason you didn’t go with big brother Ley was because you wanted to spend a few more days with me.”
“Keane.” Jenne affectionately patted Keane on the head. “Keane, you are even taller than me now.”
Keane lowered his head silently.
Jenne had taken care of Keane since they were young. Ever since they had arrived in the Holy Union, their mother had been severely ill, and so Jenne had taken care of Keane like a mother would have.
The affection between these two siblings was very deep.
“Jenne, Cousin Jenne.” Albert’s voice rang out again.
Jenne and Keane both frowned, no trace of enjoyment on their faces now. This Albert really was as annoying and stifling as a boa constrictor.
In the blink of an eye, Albert had arrived at the doorway.
“Jenne. Oh, Keane, you are here also.” Albert beamed. “Jenne, we’re organizing a small banquet in the main hall. Jenne, let’s go together. I’ve arranged for some people to prepare several beautiful evening gowns for you.”
Jenne shook her head. “No need. I’m feeling a bit dizzy and am a bit unwell.”
“Why would you be feeling unwell? Let me take a look.” Albert actually stepped forward, intending to touch Jenne by her forehead. Jenne immediately took two steps back.
Keane snickered from the side, “Cousin Albert, my sister isn’t feeling well. Let her have a good rest.”
Albert stood there for a moment, then laughed and nodded. “Fine.” He then stared at Keane. “Keane, come with me for a moment. Cousin Jenne, have a good rest. If there is anything you need, just let the servants know.” He gave Keane a meaningful look.
Keane nodded, then followed Albert out.
Within the flower garden.
Albert and Keane were walking together. Albert was silent, and Keane said nothing either.
After a long time…
“Keane, how does it feel to be the governor of a prefectural city?” Albert suddenly asked.
Keane was startled. Slowly, he said, “Pretty good.”
Albert laughed and nodded. “Of course it’s good. You govern millions of people, Keane. You must understand that the entire Northwest Administrative Province has only ten prefectural cities. Positions like the city governorship are highly sought after, and many people keep their eyes on those positions. After all, our Jacques clan is a large clan.”
As though he understood something, Keane nodded.
The Jacques clan was continuously starting new branches. Naturally, each generation was more numerous than the last. In the past, the reason why Keane’s father, Count Wade, had been lucky enough to receive the governorship was because he was on very close terms with the previous clan leader.
In truth, the various city governorships were totally all controlled and decided upon by the clan leader of the Jacques clan.
After all, the Jacques clan had sole authority over the management of the Northwest Administrative Province.
“Keane, you should know that many of my younger siblings have grown up now, such as my own third brother. Right now, he’s only a major in the army. Many of these people would very much like to become the governor of a prefectural city.” Albert looked at Keane with an expression that both was and wasn’t a smile.
Keane knew what Albert was hinting at.
“And not just my siblings. My uncles as well. In the past, they weren’t able to overcome your father, but they’ve never given up.”
Albert looked at Keane. “Keane, I have a very good impression of you. But you must understand that to get something, you have to give something.”
Keane was silent.
“Keane, you have taken the city governorship, yes, but I, the future clan leader, can make you lose it as well.” Albert saw that Keane was silent, and began to speak more coldly.
“Cousin Albert, go ahead and state your desires.” Keane forced a smile to his face.
Albert laughed. “Haha, you are my cousin. Of course I won’t force you to do anything. I just hope that we can further deepen our relationship. For example, you can have your big sister marry me. What do you think?”
Keane was filled with rage.
He knew Albert’s intentions long ago. Such a gentle, beautiful, virtuous woman such as Jenne, especially after beginning to train in water-style magic, was a very mesmerizing, refined lady.
Albert had been lusting after her this entire time.
But Albert was already thirty years old and had three wives. If Keane’s sister were to marry him, she would be nothing more than a concubine.
What’s more, his sister was going to follow Linley.
“Cousin Albert, I’ve told you in the past that my sister already has someone she likes.” Keane said helplessly.
“What a joke.” Albert sneered. “Keane, if your sister has someone she likes, why hasn’t she gotten married yet? And even if she likes someone, we can just go ahead and kill him.”
Albert had desired Jenne for quite some time now. Not only was she beautiful, she was a magus. After a person trained in magic, their longevity would be extended. Most likely, even when she was sixty or seventy, Jenne would look like a thirty year old lady. Albert naturally desired a wife like this.
“You can’t kill him. The person my sister likes is an expert of the ninth rank.” Keane made up his mind.
“A combatant of the ninth rank?” Albert frowned.
This was troublesome. If he were the current clan leader, he could use the powerful soldiers of the clan to go kill that expert of the ninth rank. But he was only a successor. The people at his disposal were quite limited, and they weren’t very powerful either.
“Keane, you’d best not be lying to me.” Albert stared coldly at Keane.
Keane bowed slightly. “Cousin Albert, I’m definitely not lying. My sister likes him. There’s nothing I can do about that. Cousin Albert, I won’t disturb you any further. I bid you farewell.”
Albert let out a cold snort, staring at Keane as he left.
“Five years.” Albert stared in the direction of Jenne’s room. “This time, I definitely cannot let Jenne slip away again. So what if he is an expert of the ninth rank? Does he dare come and make trouble for the Jacques clan?” A fierce, wolf-like look was in Albert’s eyes.
On the 15th, Linley had headed to the headquarters of the Dawson Conglomerate early in the morning. Using his medallion showing that he was an elder, he sent some people to Cloudpeaks Village to inform Zassler and the others that he was going to be delayed.
And then, Linley quietly stayed in the Nile Hotel.
There were over ten manors behind the Nile Hotel, all of which were tall and well made. Linley was residing in one of them.
Within his courtyard, Linley finished carving a sculpture, and then began to wave his adamantine heavy sword about as he pleased.
Bebe and Haeru both lazily rested on the ground.
After training with the sword for some time, Linley came to a halt, a sudden thought having come to mind. “It has been a year since I reached the peak of the eighth rank. In this past month, I’ve always had this feeling that I’m about to break through, but for some reason, there’s just some tiny piece missing.”
To an ordinary person, breaking through from the peak of the eighth rank to the ninth rank wasn’t a big deal.
But for Supreme Warriors, the difference between the two was extremely great. Upon entering the ninth rank, Linley in Dragonform would be at the Saint-level.
“I can’t be too hasty. My speed of training is already very fast.” Linley was still fairly calm. Staring towards the south, Linley once again began to think about his younger brother, Wharton. “When I reach the ninth rank, I’ll head towards the imperial capital and meet with my younger brother. It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen Wharton.”
Ever since Wharton had left home when he was six and headed to the O’Brien Empire along with Housekeeper Hiri, the two brothers had never met again.
And now, Wharton was twenty two years old. In another month, he would be twenty three.
“Hrm?” Linley suddenly turned and stared at the courtyard walls.
The various manors operated by the hotel were all quite close to each other, with each plot of land divided into two manors. At this time, in the manor adjoining Linley’s, the person who was renting that manor had climbed over the wall and was peeking in this direction.
This guest was an extremely adorable, agile young lady. Her guileless eyes were staring in Linley’s direction, but they were locked on the Blackcloud Panther on the ground.
“Wow, what a huge panther.” The young lady very agilely hopped over the wall, and then jogged towards Haeru.
“Don’t touch him.” Linley immediately shouted.
The young lady came to a halt, smiling and laughing at Linley. “Big brother, I’ve never seen such an adorable, large black panther. Can I please touch him?”
This young lady had a head full of silver hair, and her eyes were very intelligent. She had a playful smile on her face, but she was dressed in the garb of a female warrior.
Linley took a sizing look at this silver-haired girl.
A warrior’s power was hard to gauge just by looking at them, but Linley could tell from this girl’s aura that she was at least a warrior of the seventh rank, or perhaps even higher.
“Haeru doesn’t like being touched by others.” Linley said calmly.
The silver-haired girl couldn’t help but pout, scrunching her nose up as she frowned. “Hmph, I don’t believe you. My teacher’s magical beasts often let me touch them.” The silver-haired girl ran directly towards Haeru.
“Grooooowl.” Haeru suddenly rose to his feet, baring his sharp fangs as he stared coldly at the silver-haired girl.
The silver-haired girl was immediately frightened, and she stumbled back two steps.
“I told you. Haeru doesn’t like being touched. Enough, you can go back to your own place now.” Linley directly asked her to leave.
The silver-haired girl smiled bewitchingly at Linley. “My master told me that panther-type magical beasts are very formidable. Then big brother, you must be very powerful as well. Can I spar with you?”
“Spar?” Linley disliked his life being interrupted by others.
“Let me introduce myself first. My name is Danlan [Dan’lan].” The silver-haired girl said with an adorable smile.
“You can call me Ley. But I don’t have any time for you. You can go back now.” Linley still spoke coldly and calmly. For a young girl to be at least a warrior of the seventh rank…she wasn’t as simple as she appeared.
The silver-haired girl pouted helplessly. “Oh. Got it.” And then she turned and left, although her heart was filled with frustration. “This Linley really is a cold fellow. Getting close to him will be difficult. But I won’t give up so easily either. If I can kill him easily, I will.”
This silver-haired girl was Lyndin.
But in terms of temperament, Lyndin had changed dramatically. In the past, she was an ice-cold Angel. But now, she had become adorable and lively. One had to admit that her acting skills were formidable.
“Oh, big brother Ley, you are a sculptor?” Lyndin looked at the sculpture Linley had just completed and immediately ran over in excitement. Staring at it, she said happily, “My teacher also likes sculptures, but he doesn’t know how to carve himself.” As she spoke, Lyndin carefully inspected the sculpture with great curiosity.
This silver-haired girl was really annoying!