The imperial court wanted to enfeoff lands.
They wanted to divide the northern prairies into numerous pieces and bestow them to people with merits.
This was the final act to close the curtains of the Great Jin's extermination of Northern Yuan.
However, this news was still secret and had not yet been released. Even the Wu Family and Tian Long Taoism didn't know about it. Just as they didn't know what kind of celestial device the Meng Family in Ningzhou gave to Meng Qingrong.
The intelligence was sent by the Immortal Palace.
"Who would've thought that the Immortal Palace would actually plant spies within the Great Jin? They can even obtain such information!"
The matter of the enfeoff was only known by the Emperor and a few trusted subordinates who discussed it privately. Not just the details, even the broader issues were not known. For example, to whom should it be distributed, what were the benchmarks for distribution, or how much each person could obtain? These required long periods of discussion and research. Maybe this was just a concept between the Emperor and a few trusted subordinates. There must have been a slip of the tongue somewhere because, even though Tian Long Taoism hadn't sourced it out, the Immortal Palace already knew.
"Forget it. No matter how the Immortal Palace knows is none of my business. I only need to go with the flow. I have racked up some great achievements in this extermination war. Even if my merits aren't the greatest, I'll definitely have the qualifications for the fief. Could it be that I have to go to Northern Yuan to be a landowner?"
Junior Leopard was disturbed to think about the repercussions of the enfeoff this time. This might not be the best method, but it was the most efficient one.
The Great Jin's land system was structured around states and counties. This was similar to Junior Leopard's past life. A high degree of control around the central power was required.
Under such a system, the lands were privatized. If you had money, you could buy fields or even a whole mountain. It could be passed down for a thousand or even ten thousand years. You could build a house on your own land, plant fields, and raise pigs and chickens. You could even let the lands be used for nothing, to play golf or kick soccer. No one would care. However, you had to pay taxes. You couldn't own an army. You would be restricted by the local administration. If there was a murder, you needed to report it to the local administration. No matter how much land you owned, they still belonged to the soil of the Great Jin. It was managed by the Great Jin. Even if a whole county belonged to you, you would still only be a landowner. When you saw the Magistrate, you still had to bow down.
There is neither any inch of land doesn't belong to the Emperor, nor any people living in the land beyond the Emperor's control. That was the meaning.
The fief system was different. After the enfeoff, you would be the absolute owner of the land. You had the power to receive taxes and grow an army. Besides from the fact that the land was outside of the Great Jin, your scope of powers was similar to the Great Jin's Emperor. No matter if you were only bestowed with a county, you would be the emperor in that county. You could freely kill the citizens within that county. You could freely rob and rape. Nobody would care not even the Great Jin Emperor.
It was believed that no matter who it was that obtained this piece of information, the entire Great Jin would stir up a huge wave of passion to enter into the Northern Yuan prairies to kill the bandits.
Who wouldn't want to obtain a piece of land where he could be an overlord? This was just like cultivating martial arts. When one's prowess was trained to the extreme, with an enormous strength, even a nation's power was unable to threaten you anymore. Not only could you enjoy longevity, you could also have freedom. If one could obtain a piece of land in the Northern Yuan, there was no need to train one's martial arts to the pinnacle. One could still be free.
"Enfeoff is a solution that is not a solution. If it is properly done, the Great Jin will not need to worry about the instability of the Northern Yuan for at least a thousand years."
Junior Leopard carefully thought about the Northern Yuan powers and the consequences of the enfeoff. He felt in his heart that the Emperor and his subordinates must have really thought this through.
The area of Northern Yuan was immense and it was several folds bigger than the Great Jin. Destroy and conquer was not such a big deal while implementing an effective management was pretty tough, especially when the Great Jin had already begun large-scale immigration. The immigration wasn't to move the Jin people up north, but to impose prairie people as slaves, captives and then sold them to the south.
Over tens of thousands of years, the Northern Yuan nomads liked to rob and steal from the people in Central Plains. The Jin imperial court was vicious. They wanted to cut off their roots. Northern Yuan had always been sparse in population within such a vast land. After experiencing a heavy snowstorm and an extermination war, the population had dwindled beyond comparison, especially the fit males: 90% of them were gone. There were few remaining old and sick people. After experiencing the Great Jin's plundering, there wasn't anyone left other than a few groups of bandits. It had become an empty wasteland.
In name, the prairies belonged to the Great Jin but without the manpower to manage it. This desolate place was tens of thousands of miles away from the Central Plains. Transport was inaccessible. If a state/county system was really implemented, it would take at least half a year to reach the north from the central area.
Someone was going to wonder if there were enough experts and strong people. They could fly thousands of miles a day. Even treasure horses could do that. They could deliver messages!
The problem was that they are too few in numbers!
It was not possible to ask a Level Seven expert to be a postman, was it?
Occasionally, when there were urgent matters, these experts could be used to issue imperial decrees. However, if they really instituted a state province system, the imperial court had only so many government orders every year. If they sent it out piece by piece, how could there be enough experts to deliver the message? How could there be so many treasured horses?
To institute a system of provinces in the prairies would only result in the Great Jin having looser and weaker control over the northern prairies. In the end, it might even lead to a loss of complete control. The Central Plains would then once again descend into a passive stance.
It was different with an enfeoff. To bestow the land to numerous people was the same as dividing a unified Northern Yuan into numerous smaller powers just like the warring eras from Junior Leopard's past life. Looking from the angle that the Northern Yuan was so huge and that there were numerous people who racked up achievements in this war, as long as the benchmark for the enfeoff was lowered a bit, the Northern Yuan could be divided into numerous independent kingdoms by the fief. It would no longer form a unified front.
The fact that the land was large and sparse in people was similar to ancient China's warring era. After going through so many changes, an unusual situation may occur where they asked people to seize a city.
In that way, the Central Plains would be worry-free.
Think about it: a few hundred or even a thousand fiefs. Even if there was some unparalleled hero who wanted to unify the prairies, it was impossible to do it in a thousand years. How could this kind of messy situation cause any threat to the Great Jin Dynasty?
Furthermore, these lands were fief by the Central Plains imperial court. Those fellows who were qualified to obtain the fief in Northern Yuan wouldn't bear to leave the colorful world in the Central Plains!
At most, they would send a few people to manage it, especially those barons and big sects. In this battle, where the Northern Yuan was exterminated, they racked huge achievements. They would definitely carve out a huge piece of land in Northern Yuan, and those sects and barons with a deep foundation in the Central Plains would never leave.
At least not in the next few hundred years. Junior Leopard thought that after this matter had evolved, the northern prairies would slowly develop into something like the European medieval period. In name, it belonged to the central office and the Great Jin, but the central office wouldn't have the direct authority to intervene. Those masters who oversaw these lands were officials with different positions in the imperial court. The fiefs to them were just another source of income.
Of course, it could evolve into something like the Tang Dynasty's outlying towns. There would be thousands of outlying towns fighting with each other. Within a few hundred years, there wouldn't be any way for them to unify. It would become an issue whether the Great Jin would still exist.
In other words, this Great Jin fief strategy would delay a huge problem for a few hundred years, or even a thousand years. What was exchanged was the entire Central Plains' glory and prosperity. At least, that is what it looked like at the moment.
To the Central Plains dynasty, a thousand years later, that was something of a headache. To the current Great Jin, it was undoubtedly the quickest way to settle the issue of the Northern Yuan.
Junior Leopard wasn't that interested in the politics of the Great Jin, but he was extremely interested in the enfeoff system.
"To be a local emperor was a dream of mine back then. A pity, even though I'm still an adult now, I wasn't that interested in such a meaningful matter. What a headache!"
Junior Leopard stood up and set aside these thoughts. "Right now, it is too late to think about this. I should settle the matter of the duel first. Taixuan Thunder Saber. Hehe, Taixuan Thunder Saber is merely a wizard weapon. I've already cultivated the Flying Sword, and you are using a wizard weapon to deal with me. You're looking for death!"
Wizard weapons and Flying Swords were all celestial devices which is why sword practicers in the medieval era were able to rule the earth and become the mainstream cultivation. Why were those who possessed wizard weapons unable to prosper?
Perhaps because Flying Sword, compared with other wizard weapons, had an absolute advantage. After tens of thousands of years of development, the sword practicer's cultivation method was perfected surpassing all other wizard weapons.
A wizard weapon like the Taixuan Thunder Saber could at most be compatible with a cultivation method only. It might scare away other people, but it wouldn't frighten Junior Leopard.
This brat's cultivation was put there for all to see. She didn't have the ability yet to use a wizard weapon like the Taixuan Thunder Saber. She could barely refine it.
Such a result definitely would have a lot of loopholes. Even if Junior Leopard wasn't able to use the methods of a sword practicer, he possessed the keen eyesight and experience of one. Why should he be afraid?
"This pitiful doll. She seems to have been led on. She actually is using a wizard weapon against me!" Junior Leopard's heart calmed down. "This time around, I can peacefully cultivate my punching skills, keke!"
Junior Leopard had never stopped in his cultivation of punching skills. The cultivation of Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Technique had never stopped before as well.
From the battle with Dragon Granny, until the battle with Buyan Gerel, and ultimately meeting the Dark Lord Mie Chen, these three experts gave him different pressures. The rewards were all different as well. The greatest reward, of course, came during the battle with Buyan Gerel. He had also gained much from toughing it out with Dragon Granny and experiencing a life and death battle with Dark Lord Mie Chen.
"My fist intent is formed as is my hammer spirit. I feel there is some area that I can't fluidly display. Hammer is fist, and fist is hammer. If I could merge the two cultivation methods together, my strength would definitely soar to a whole new level!"
A weapon like the hammer originally evolved from the fist. It was an extension of the fist. Hence, the two were one.
To do well with the hammer, one must be well versed in the fist.
This was a strange logic in the pugilist world. Junior Leopard already had a very deep understanding of fist intent. All along he had practiced fist and hammer separately. From there, he cultivated a fist intent and a hammer spirit. Even though both were carved from the imitation universe fist intent of Junior Leopard, if he wasn't able to merge them together, fist would still be fist, and hammer would still be hammer. Junior Leopard's consciousness of martial arts would also be continuous as a result.
Walking out from the room, the sky was already dark. The cold wind from the night sky cooled down the brewing hot thoughts of Junior Leopard.
The courtyard was immense. The Zhou Mansion was the largest in Qingyang Market, at least twice that of the Black Dragon Triad.
No one dared to say anything. The Black Dragon Triad's power couldn't compare with the Zhou Family's in Qingyang Market. The Zhou Family wasn't some tyrant. On the contrary, under the purposeful push of Wang Tianlei, the Zhou Family had already bought close to two-thirds of Qingyang Market. They even shelled out money to build a path that went straight to the province. They became the biggest business in Qingyang Market. Junior Leopard's brothers had also become bosses of a few stalls.
Even though little time had passed, those with good eyes could see that the rise of the Zhou Family was something inevitable.
Junior Leopard wasn't concerned. As long as his own strength kept rising and his position within the pugilist world and imperial court remained stable, the Zhou Family's position in Qingyang Market would be stable as well. It was still just a small market.
Ever since his return, he didn't bother about the family matters. As for Old Zhou, having given birth to such a splendid son, he was naturally satisfied. In this satisfaction, there was a tinge of foreignness, which was what Junior Leopard wanted to see.
His mom hadn't changed any. She told him to get a wife and occasionally brought girls to matchmake, giving him a headache.
The night wind felt like water. Junior Leopard walked along a small path in the courtyard. He wasn't thinking about anything, nor doing anything, nor looking at anything. He was simply enjoying the quietness and peacefulness of the night.
Suddenly, Junior Leopard stopped and turned his head.
"Big brother. It's so late, why did you come?"
It was Junior Leopard's eldest brother. Originally a hunter in the mountains, at 30 years of age, he had leaped to become the wealthiest and most important person in the entire village and Qingyang Market. Not used to facing such a dreamy situation nor the person creating it, he was naturally respectful and in awe of Junior Leopard. Even though he raised Junior Leopard from childhood, he was no longer able to link the past Junior Leopard and the present one together.
At one time, he was called Spikey, but he now had a new name, Zhou Dahu.
Hearing Junior Leopard's question, his face revealed an awkward expression.
"Big brother, if you have something to say, just say it. We are brothers, there's no need to be so courteous!"
"Yes, yes...!" Big brother said, but his facial expression remained awkward. "Actually, I came here to seek your help!"
"Help? What can I help you with?" Junior Leopard smiled. "Just say it. As long as I can do it, I'll definitely help, brother!"
"Alright!" Zhou Dahu was very excited. He went to one side of Junior Leopard and said, "I, I wish to take in a concubine!"
Zhou Dahu seemed to have used all of his energy to say these words. His expression gave Junior Leopard a headache.
"You want to get a concubine, why is there a need to be so shy about it?"
Instantly, he crushed this impulse.
"Big brother, what did you say? You want to get a concubine?"
"Yes, I wish to!"
"You should speak about it with Dad and Mom. Why tell me?" Junior Leopard asked.
"No, there's no problem with Dad and Mom. The main problem is with your sister-in-law."
"Sister-in-law!" Junior Leopard heaved. He scratched his head instantly recognizing the problem.
His sister-in-law was a powerful character, extremely clever and capable. She kept the house spick and span and very comfortable, but she had a terrible temper and frequently scolded Zhou Dahu.
As for Zhou Dahu, he always let her win. Afterall, she was his wife. Marriage wasn't easy. If he could let things be, he did so.
"Big brother, this matter isn't governed by me. I think you should go and discuss properly with sister-in-law!"
"Ah?!" Zhou Dahu was dumbstruck. It was precisely because he couldn't discuss it properly with her that he came looking for Junior Leopard.
"Junior Leopard, you see...!"
"Big brother, these are your family matters. You are also the boss of the Zhou Family. How could a little brother like me intervene? You are confusing the procedure and hierarchy here. If I wanted to take in a concubine in the future and couldn't convince my wife, it would be appropriate to look for you, but you seeking my help puts things in the wrong order!"
Junior Leopard patted Zhou Dahu's shoulders, smiled, and pointed him out of the courtyard. "Why not try this? Go back and discuss the matter with Dad and Mom again. When you are done, then try convincing sister-in-law. What about it?"
He wanted to say something more, but Junior Leopard ignored his rambling. He nudged him out of the courtyard and then returned to his room and refused to come out. Zhou Dahu departed helplessly.
Once men had money, they turned naughty!
Thinking about the past, Zhou Dahu was an honest villager.
What about now?
Now, he wanted to take in a concubine!
Junior Leopard shook his head and smiled bitterly.
As the saying went, "A clean official had difficulties taking care of his own family matters." What's more, it was his eldest brother's matters. He didn't want to get involved.
"Forget it, I'll go to Zhonghe City tomorrow and train my punching skills in the underground fire vein. I should grind my spirit and strive to let my body breakthrough to Level Seven. As for those family matters, I should let them take care of it. The less I get involved the better it is!"
Originally, he wanted to stay at home for a few more days and enjoy the peaceful life. After Zhou Dahu came wrecking, he no longer had the mood for it!
After three days, Zhonghe City, geocentric fire vein!
Li Yuan had already left Zhonghe City. Now, the owner of Zhonghe City and the geocentric fire vein had changed. The Wu's, after losing Junior Leopard's influence, had already shrunk their power over the fire vein. They were on par with the Pei's, Luo's, and Jian's. They might even be worse.
Afterall, this Zhonghe City wasn't within the jurisdiction of the Wu Family.
If Junior Leopard wanted to go into the fire vein to train, it wouldn't be so easy like last time when he could walk in with big strides.
Junior Leopard didn't plan to do so. This fire vein's defenses looked very tight. To an expert like Junior Leopard, it was as if it didn't exist. After knocking a few guards unconscious, he entered in big strides. He was very familiar with the fire vein in Zhonghe City.
After dealing with the guards, Junior Leopard entered the passageway of the fire vein. The familiar hot airflow rushed against his face. Junior Leopard's Nine Dragons Heavenly Fire Internal Qi became excited and began to devour these copious amounts of fire spiritual Qi.
"Who are you! How dare you trespass the geocentric fire vein!"
He had only walked two steps, and there was a shout from within the cave, and then a wind assaulted him.
"Aye?!" Junior Leopard was slightly stunned. It was clear that the passageway was filled with experts from the four smelting families. He didn't think that it was coincidental that he would meet a Wu Family expert on duty. Wasn't the person rushing forward the Wu's Big Iron Hammer?!
Since he met a Wu's expert, Junior Leopard wouldn't be vicious. His body slightly shook and evaded the attack. He extended his hand and caught the hammer hilt. At the same time, his body slanted and evaded the body that came rushing forward. His knees bent and pushed onto the opponent's knees.
This series of movements were smooth as flowing water. The person exclaimed and knelt on the floor.
"Don't fret. I'm Zhou Bao. I came here to train," Junior Leopard said in a low voice. His voice exploded in the person's ears. Although he originally wanted to call for help, he immediately shut his mouth. Climbing up from the floor and raising his head, he could clearly see Junior Leopard's figure and hurriedly paid his respects.
"Disciple Wu Lei pays his respects to Elder Zhou!"
"There's no need for formalities. Why the past few days now belong to our Wu Family to use the fire vein?!"
"Yes, we still can use it for three months. Elder Mu is now forging weapons in the smelting room. Elder Zhou are you---?"
"No need. I came here for a retreat. I don't wish to alarm others. It's sufficient that only you know about this." Seeing others coming, he passed the hammer to Wu Lei. "You shouldn't have any trouble."
"No." Wu Lei shook his head and smiled. "This fire vein's crossroads are aplenty. All along, it has attracted a lot of experts. The soldiers outside are just there for show. Those of us guarding the passageway are only preventing them from entering the smelting rooms. As for which passageway they take to cultivate is not something we can manage."
"It's best if they don't give you trouble." Junior Leopard nodded. "I'm going. You should act as if nothing happened."