"Zhou Bao, the loyal and devoted general of Qing Province and highly skilled in feats, took credit for killing the enemy to protect grain. Now, I appoint you as the Wuyang County Governor. You will enjoy 3,000 hectolitres of food per year and a fief with a 300 km radius at Blackstone Valley. The official position is hereditary. By the emperor!"
The shrill voice of the eunuch resounded in Junior Leopard's ears. He suddenly shivered and then bowed his head lower.
He did not lift his head until the shrill voice had ended. Then he loudly said, "Thanks to the emperor, Long Live Our Emperor!"
"Please stand up, County Governor Zhou!"
Hearing the appellation and the eunuch's intonation, Junior Leopard got goose bumps.
He had been in the capital city for 13 days. The news that the imperial court was going to enfeoff officials had spread all over the world.
The news excited the whole world.
Maybe some smart people had thought of this before. However, when the imperial court actually implemented it, they still felt that it was incredible.
The imperial court was going to carry out an enfeoffment system. The system of provinces and commanderies, which had lasted more than 10,000 years, had finally revealed its limits. Now, the old system from 10,000 years ago was needed to remedy the limits.
Most people were excited about getting a piece of land that belonged entirely to them, while a few people saw much farther and deeper.
This time a lot of people were enfeoffed. After all, Northern Yuan was so large that the system of provinces and commanderies was totally inappropriate under the circumstances.
The Jin had only established three new states in Seven Troops of the Southern Yard of Northern Yuan. The rest of the place was enfeoffed.
Perhaps even the emperor did not know how much land was enfeoffed. He only knew the territories of major well-known families and schools,
such as the Li Family in Pingzhou, the Meng Family in Ningzhou, the Liu Family in Yuzhou...
and so on.
The 12 largest well-known families in the Jin got the most fiefs. Their fiefs were the most fertile and largest areas on the prairie. The most interesting thing was that their fiefs were so close together that they almost overlapped. Moreover, whether the emperor did this intentionally or not, the boundaries of these fiefs were not clear. Then the emperor's intentions were obvious.
The Wu Family also got a fief with a 300 km radius, the same size as Junior Leopard's. But the two fiefs were far away; one in the east and the other in the west, thousands of miles apart.
In the imperial palace, the huge map of Northern Yuan was separated into countless small pieces. One should not look down on these small pieces as their actual areas were all hundreds of square kilometers.
"2,352 fiefs, Emperor, you do have good means!"
Looking at the northern prairie, which was like a large cake that was cut into so many small pieces, the old man in green was smiling brightly. "Apart from the fact that there are almost no people on the prairie now, even if there were people, it would be impossible to unify the prairie without a long period of time!"
"This isn't my means, it's yours!" The Jin Emperor was complacent as well, smiling and stroking a tuft of whiskers under his chin. Hundreds of years since the founding of the Jin, the dynasties of the Central Plains had experienced tens of thousands of years, and he was the first monarch to conquer the northern prairie. By virtue of this alone, it was enough for him to surpass all those previous wise emperors and sage-emperors.
"I just made a little suggestion. Without Your Majesty's invincible might, all of this is just a joke!"
"Well, let's not flatter each other! Have you seen the resignation of Ma Tianchang?"
"Yes, I have." When it came to this, their smiling faces grew somber.
"What do you think he really wants to do?"
"He wants out!" The man in green answered coolly, "He doesn't want to be involved in the mess any longer!"
"Mess? Is it a mess? It's a world event! It's the big picture of the whole world! It's an immortal achievement! Do you think it's a mess?" The Jin Emperor's voice rose sharply, and his dissatisfaction was palpable.
"No, I don't think so! It's him. He thinks all achievements are a mess. We all know that if it were not for revenge, he would not have helped Your Majesty to take the throne, nor would he have helped you to guard the northern regions for so many years. Now that Northern Yuan was destroyed and his wish has been fulfilled, it's normal to want out!"
"It's normal? Hmm, his wish has come true, but what about mine?" The Jin Emperor shouted angrily, "Over the years, I asked him to guard the northern regions, giving him great power to help me keep eyes on Northern Yuan. Now, Northern Yuan is destroyed, and he's leaving. What does he take me for?"
The man in green did not speak. In fact, he did not want to speak.
He and Ma Tianchang followed the Jin Emperor before the Jin Emperor's succession to the throne. 80 percent of the credit for helping the Jin Emperor to become the emperor went to them. After the Jin Emperor ascended the throne, they were entrusted with heavy responsibility and trust. One of them was a feudal official in the northern regions and one was working in the Cabinet. The grade of working in the Cabinet was not very high, but his authority was so powerful that it was almost identical to that of Chen Yifu, who lived on Longhu Street. And if one considered the weight of his words in the presence of the Jin Emperor, in many cases the man in green had more authority than Old Master Chen.
Thus, they knew each other well. He knew exactly why the Jin Emperor was angry, and he also knew that he had better not cut in when the Jin Emperor was roaring like a dissatisfied housewife.
"Do you think I should approve the resignation?"
Hearing the question, he raised his head, with a wry smile, saying, "Your Majesty, with all due respect, whether you approve it or not, the result is the same. Even if you don't approve it, the bastard will surely go. So you might as well approve it!"
"Approve it? It lets him off lightly!" The Jin Emperor roared.
"Not really! This time he has made a great contribution to suppress Northern Yuan. It's no exaggeration to say that he achieved the first-class merit. There are still a few large territories which haven't been divided. Your Majesty can give him a large piece of land and let him go to the north. Even if he wants out, he needs a place to live anyway. The fief you give him is a great place to live. He has no reason to refuse!"
"Your Majesty, you don't have to worry about this bastard. After all these years, can't you see that he is a man without any ambition? And he has no son, only a daughter who has married. Give him a large, environmentally friendly fief. That he goes there is the equivalent of helping you keep watch on that group of local moneybags. Even if he didn't mean it, those local moneybags would see it that way!"
"Will he go?"
"He'll go as long as you give him a good place with beautiful scenery!" The man in green laughed.
"Then do as you said!" The Jin Emperor nodded. Although he had just had a great outburst and called Ma Tianchang a bastard, he certainly knew Ma Tianchang's character after all these years. If he did not really approve the resignation, the bastard would definitely resign and leave. By that time, he would lose face. It was better to give him a good fief and let him go. If this guy accepted his favor, he might actually help him keep watch on that group of local moneybags!
Local moneybags were what they called the land owners who had just received fiefs. Once these people were enfeoffed, they must become local emperors. However, it was not appropriate to call them local emperors in front of the Jin Emperor. Therefore, the man in green called them local moneybags. Over time, they got used to it.
"About that Clear Glass Jade Bottle, is it really hopeless?" Suddenly, the Jin Emperor changed the topic.
"Yes, there's no way. The Immortal Palace has returned the payment, plus 10 times for compensation. They also said they won't take over the matter again!"
"Then is there any other..."
"Other organizations certainly can't do something which the Immortal Palace can't do!" The man in green replied with a forced smile, "Your Majesty, forget it! The Clear Glass Jade Bottle should not have appeared in the world. This time Ma Tianchang exposed it, and I reckon he'll be in big trouble!"
"The others don't know Ma Tianchang's background. But we know it clearly. He has the Five Manor View to support him. Thus, even if he's in trouble, it won't be too big!"
"That's it. Your Majesty, the Clear Glass Jade Bottle is much safer in his hands than in your hands!"
"Hmph! He, as the Governor of Yunzhou, has such a magic weapon which can control fate, while the Jin only has a Pure Yang Weapon. Don't you think it's inappropriate?"
"The Clear Glass Jade Bottle can indeed control fate. However, it's not the antiquity times anymore. We no longer need that kind of magic weapon to control fate. Your Majesty, excess is just as bad as deficiency!"
"How can I not understand what you said? But when I think of that bastard, I can't help getting angry!"
"This shows that Your Majesty is a man of real character!" The man in green laughed.
The Jin Emperor raised his head and glanced at him. "Really?"
"Yes, Your Majesty!"
They both laughed.
"Well, let's see which place is better for Governor Ma!"
"Congratulations, Elder Zhou!"
Taking the benefit Junior Leopard put in his hand, the eunuch who announced the imperial edict left with a beaming countenance. Wu Yansheng and Lyu Yiyue, who had been in the house, came out together and began to congratulate him with one voice.
A fief with a 300 km radius!
This area was quite the same as that of the Wu Family. The Wuyang County Governor is a Rank Five nobility, which was equal to that of the Wu's Family Head, Wu Yansheng. Among personal rewards, Junior Leopard was handsomely rewarded.
"Thank you!" Junior Leopard hurriedly said, "I don't even know where Blackstone Valley is!"
"Who knows!" Wu Yansheng also laughed bitterly. "This time the imperial court made a sudden decision. Northern Yuan is too large. Our Wu Family was also enfeoffed a fief with a radius of 300 km. Last night, Elder Lyu and I searched on the map for a long time. God, it borders the East Sea, nearly 5,000 kilometers from Yunzhou. I reckon there's not a person there now!"
Lyu Yiyue nodded in agreement beside them, but Junior Leopard could see the envy and bitterness in his eyes.
He was the Wu's First Elder. Although the Wu Family played a great role in the war of the destruction of Northern Yuan, as the strongest combat capability of the Family, he mainly protected the Wu Family. Therefore, he did not take credit on the battlefield and did not get a reward. As for some of his nephews, though they went off to the war, their cultivation was too low to take credit for fiefs. Thus it was awkward for him to see Junior Leopard and Wu Yansheng talking about the fiefs.
Both Wu Yansheng and Junior Leopard were shrewd men, so how could they not know what he was thinking? But there was nothing they could do about it. Neither Junior Leopard nor Wu Yansheng would cede a piece of land of the fief to him, though it was permissible in Jin's law that was newly enacted.
Hence, they had a very tacit understanding to end their discussion on this topic.
Over the next few days, Junior Leopard wandered through the capital city of the Jin. Although the war had just passed, in the hinterland of Qianzhou, the center of the Central Plains, the capital city of the Jin, there was no trace of war. On the contrary, after the fall of Northern Yuan, the capital city was immersed in extreme fanaticism.
Yes, it was fanaticism. The destruction of Northern Yuan not only made the capital city of the Jin, but also various places of the Jin completely immersed in fanaticism.
Everyone wanted to get a piece of land and to be a vassal.
This was difficult in the past. Only if you had great credit and a strong influence could you be a governor of a state of the Jin and be called a vassal, like Ma Tianchang.
However, everyone knew it was just a compliment. Because you were not really a vassal, but a controlled imperial court official.
The word "vassal" came from the medieval period. It referred to the lords and nobles who had been enfeoffed land. In other words, only the lords and nobles who had been enfeoffed land could be called vassals.
Now, after more than 10,000 years of its disappearance, the system of enfeoffment finally appeared again. Likewise, after they disappeared for more than 10,000 years, vassals once again appeared in the world.
The families and individuals who were enfeoffed were the real vassals, whether the fiefs were large or small, fertile or barren.
And what was the first impression of vassals?
They were local emperors!
What about the second impression?
Striving for hegemony!
Vassals strived for hegemony, and heroes came forth in large numbers.
This was an idiom in the Jin, which had existed around for tens of thousands of years.
More than 2,000 vassals occupied the desolate northern prairie. How chaotic it would be!
This may be exactly what the Jin Emperor wanted to see.
"Hehe, Commander, where shall we go today?"
Walking leisurely on the street, Little Du happily followed behind Junior Leopard. And behind Little Du was Zhu Ba.
Zhu Ba's strength had improved rapidly in the past three years. Now his cultivation was Level Four, the Bone-Forging Realm. He was an expert as well. Even in a medium-sized well-known family like the Wu Family, he could be an Elder.
Ever since Junior Leopard came to River Heart Island again, he followed Junior Leopard, and even wanted to quit his current position. As a matter of fact, not only he, but also several other people had the same idea, including the leaders of the Navy of Jiang City, like Wang Cheng and Jiang Xiao.
For three years, though a new Navy Commander had come, he did not have much real power. Because the navy had held together, Jiang Xiao was wise and Zhu Ba was skilled at martial arts. In addition, they had the financial support that Anyuan Store had given them. All this made it impossible for the new Navy Commander to interfere in the power of the navy.
Fortunately, they were smart people, and would not embarrass the Navy Commander too much. They got along well with this new Navy Commander on the surface. If he asked the navy to do something, the navy would obey as long as it did not violate their interests. So they lived in peace for three years.
In the past three years, with the medicinal herbs Junior Leopard gave him and subsequent accumulation, Zhu Ba's cultivation finally broke through to Level Four and became the most powerful expert in the Navy of Jiang City. But he was no longer interested in the affairs of the Navy of Jiang City.
This should be something that the people in the martial arts world could understand. When you possessed great power, you did not have much interest in worldly things.
At the same time, he also found that his progress slowed after his cultivation had reached Level Four. Without the guidance of a true expert, he would not make any further progress with his foundation. In this world, only Junior Leopard could really help him. Hence, after Junior Leopard went back to River Heart Island, he was dead set on following him, and did not want to go back.
As for the other people, like Wang Cheng, they saw Junior Leopard's bright future.
In the small Jiang City, even if they had a lot of money, it would be of no use.
Now the imperial court had destroyed Northern Yuan and was frenziedly enfeoffing now. A new era was coming. At this point, to follow Junior Leopard and to step on a bigger, broader stage was what they should do.
Although they were not young, they were in the prime of their lives, still far from retiring. They had great ambition and aspirations, but they never had a chance before. Now, the chance was out there. They certainly would not let it go.
For Junior Leopard, he really needed some subordinates like them.
He was not a man of management. When he was the Commander, he gave everything to Wang Cheng. Later, he left the position and returned to Li Yuan to be the Deputy Camp Supervisor of the personal guard camp. To be honest, there was no need for him to manage, he just needed to contribute labor.
Now it was different. He had a rank of nobility and a fief. Whether the fief was large or small, fertile or barren, worth using or not, he could not take it lightly. Even if he did not use it, it was good to leave it to his family. The land needed to be managed. And it was clear that the Zhou family, which came from a mountain village, had no such talents. Of course he wanted a ready-made management team like Wang Cheng and Jiang Xiao to follow him.
Similarly, he did not want to give up River Heart Island and Anyuan Store. Then, for the first time, he felt a tremendous lack of manpower.
Fortunately, Jiang Xiao helped him to solve the problem in River Heart Island and Anyuan Store.
"Your Excellency, rest assured. The Navy of River Heart Island is full of our men. The strength of the Captains is good and they're capable. When we leave, they'll naturally take our place. The whole Navy of Jiang City is full of our men. Even if we leave, no one can deal with them. Don't forget that we have a relationship with the water bandits on the Luo River. The relationship is now solid, and both sides can benefit a lot. Once things go wrong in the Navy of Jiang City, the water bandits will be the first to oppose. In my view, both the present Guard of Jiang City and the current Commander don't have the courage to challenge our Navy of Jiang City."
This was what Jiang Xiao told him. Although it was not clear, there was no doubt that even if they had left, River Heart Island was still his. He was very comfortable with Jiang Xiao and also had great confidence in him.
Therefore, when they offered to follow him to the capital city, Junior Leopard agreed without much consideration.
"Where shall we go today? Where do you want to go? I'm telling you not to take me to red-light districts. Do you think I don't know where you often go these days?" Junior Leopard sneered.
"How dare I!"
Although Zhu Ba was thick-skinned, his face flushed due to Junior Leopard's words. "Your Excellency, I know a restaurant. The food is excellent. Why don't we go there?"
"You go. I have something else to do!" Junior Leopard replied.
"Ah, Your Excellency, won't you have a meal?"
"I'm going to bookstores. I know you're not interested in those kinds of places!" Junior Leopard said and gave a wave, "You go, go!"
"Your Excellency, you're going to bookstores again!" Zhu Ba's expression became odd. He had been walking around the capital city for days with Junior Leopard, but Junior Leopard went to bookstores every day. They almost visited all of the bookstores within the capital city and bought a pile of books every time. For the first few days, Zhu Ba followed Junior Leopard. Later, Junior Leopard found Zhu Ba's expression grew more and more bitter, so he let Zhu Ba go and he quietly strolled into the bookstore.
"Yes, I'm gonna go to bookstores again. And I'm going to buy a lot more books again!" Junior Leopard said, "Get out of here!"
"Yes!" Zhu Ba replied. He had no interest in visiting bookstores, so hearing Junior Leopard's words, he ran faster than a rabbit that was just amnestied.
Visiting bookstores was a habit of Junior Leopard in his previous life. In this life, he gained great benefit from books, so he had a special fondness for bookstores.
As the capital of the Great Jin, the capital city was the best city in the country, as well as one of the largest cities and the center of economy and culture in the world. There were many more books in the bookstores in the capital city than that in remote prefectures like Yunzhou and small places like Jiang City. And it was from these books that Junior Leopard found a lot of what he wanted.
These days, he visited almost all of the bookstores in the capital city. Young as he was, he was very generous. Whatever book he liked, he would buy it, so he became one of the favorite customers for these bookstores.
Book Street was an old street in the capital city. It was the place where bookstores and Book Fairs were concentrated, and the place where Junior Leopard visited the most these days.
Bosses of these bookstores did not know who he was and thought that he was a rich master who came to the capital city for a visit and regarded him as a "big fish".
Therefore, as soon as Junior Leopard came to Book Street, he was greeted by a group of bosses around him.
He also smiled and greeted these bosses. When he was about to walk into a store, he suddenly stopped and his gaze also paused.
What a pretty girl!