"Your Majesty, are you really deciding to do this? In that case, the world will be in chaos!"
In the West Capital of Qianzhou in the Great Jin, Ming Yuesheng, wearing a white robe, was pulling a long face as the three strands of his beard were fluttering in the wind. He looked right at the most honorable person in the world standing in front of him, Yan Yuntian, the Emperor of the Great Jin, and said, "Those aristocratic families will really do anything to protect their profits!"
"I know. Of course I know that. Doing this will put the world at risk, but it's also an opportunity for us!" Yan Yuntian laughed, saying, "What, are you scared, Yuesheng?"
"I'm not scared, I'm just worried that things will be out of control when the time comes." Ming Yuesheng said, "Your Majesty, think about it. Those well-known families and barons will not be easily conquered. Now that you have destroyed Northern Yuan, which is already an unprecedented achievement, you've surpassed all the ancient emperors. I suggest that you leave something for your offspring to do so that they can set their own goals. But if you have accomplished everything, your offspring will not have anything to strive for. I really don't think that's good for them, is it?"
"Hahahaha—!" Ming Yuesheng's words made Jin Emperor burst out laughing. He scolded Ming Yuesheng, pointed at his nose, and said, "Are you trying to provoke me or scold me? Just speak frankly, and don't beat around the bush. It's just you and me."
"Your Majesty, I'm not beating around the bush. I'm just simply talking about the truth. What you want to do is too dangerous, and I'm afraid that I can't agree with you!"
"With big risk, comes big reward!" Jin Emperor said.
"What if we lose? Then the Great Jin will be destroyed!" Ming Yuesheng said without any mercy.
"So what? We've come this far. What a pity it would be if we gave up now. I have so many sons, so even if the Great Jin is destroyed, the bloodline of the Yan family will not go extinct unless they are all useless. And if my sons are useless, my bloodline would ultimately disappear anyway, even if I managed to maintain the Great Jin for thousands of years. I fought for this crown, so if they want it, they must fight for it rather than do nothing but wait for me to give them the most honorable position in the world."
"I'm afraid that I can't agree with you on this idea, either. However, since you've made up your mind, I can only follow you!" Ming Yuesheng was staring down at himself. He knew that once the Jin Emperor had made up his mind, there was no turning back.
"Alright, don't be upset. You're looking as if the Great Jin will collapse tomorrow. Come here and play chess with me and see whether this stupid chess fan has made any progress playing chess or not."
"Oh, if one hasn't become a national champion in chess before the age of 18, he will never become one. Your Majesty, you learned to play chess at the age of 20. How can you make any progress in it?" When it came to chess, Ming Yuesheng laughed out loud without hiding any mockery on his face.
"Come on, try me!" Yan Yuntian laughed and said, dragging Ming Yuesheng along and rushing to the Imperial Study.
"Your Excellency, I've searched the surrounding 200-mile area and I've brought all the people that I found."
In the Blackstone Valley of Northern Yuan,
dozens of tents were properly dispersed on a vast meadow.
10 days prior, Junior Leopard and his team arrived in his territory, the Blackstone Valley. After gathering dozens of old, weak, sick, and disabled people, Junior Leopard assigned a mission to Zhu Ba. He had asked him to lead his army to patrol the territory with Little Du and bring anyone that he saw. He had brought more than 100 people back. These people used to be the herdsmen of neighboring tribes. But after the war, the tribes had been destroyed, their muscular teen had died, and those who were vulnerable were dead or had fled away. At one time, there had been thousands of survivors. However, after a year of hunger, thirst, and frequent attacks by the wolves, which had grown stronger through devouring the corpses and wanted to get a taste of the living, there were only 100 or so remaining.
These survivors were tattered and withered, most of whom looked like as if they were near their last breath.
"Is there enough food?"
"Almost. In any case, now that the wolves in the prairie have been fattened up, if we are running out of food, we can hunt those wolves. As long as we make it through this period, our problems will be solved once our cattle and sheep grow up," Zhu Ba said with obvious excitement.
"Alright, that'll work. I've picked a place and plan to set up a small town centralization there. Then all the people in the territory can move into the town for better management."
"Yes, sir. I'm on my way."
"You don't have to do that, Jiang Xiao will take care of it. Zhu Ba, you should go to the Central Plains with some helpful subordinates and tell Senior Wang to find a solution for expanding the business of the Anyuan Store and find a direct trade route connecting the Central Plains to us here."
Senior Wang was Wang Datong, who used to be the officer in charge of military logistics and food service in the Navy of Jiang City and was now the vice Hall Chief of the Anyuan Store and was the right-hand man of Junior Leopard. Apparently, he was more a professional businessman than a military soldier. Thanks to his efforts, the economic strength of the Anyuan Store could be increased dramatically. Though it had not yet become a large business store, it had succeeded in making a name for itself.
"Great, I was thinking about going back to the Central Plains!" When hearing Junior Leopard's words, Zhu Ba shouted with joy.
"I know that you want to go back. This bleak place is no comparison to the colorful world of the Central Plains."
"Well, that's not what I meant, Your Excellency. I just haven't seen my wife for months and I kinda miss her."
"Just cut the crap and go. Remember to bring Senior Wang with you and leave 10 people here when you go," Junior Leopard said.
"Yes, sir!" Zhu Ba ran back with excitement.
"Your Excellency, although there are more than 100 people here, we can only afford to have 20 or 30 people who are really laborers that can work. It's a bit too much to build a town centralization!"
"First, we have to build a place to live. Now we are in the north and summer is almost gone. After summer, the weather will get very cold. If we haven't built a place before the snow falls, no one will survive this winter!" Junior Leopard said to Jiang Xiao. He looked around, seeing nothing but a vast and empty field. It made him feel like he was blazing a trail and going back to the primitive times where he could rebuild the civilization of humans.
"Yes, I'll ask them to hurry up." " And I'll go to the mountain and cut some stones and bring them down. There aren't so many people, so we can build several big houses first and set up the frames to resist the wind and snow,"
Junior Leopard said with worry mounting in his mind. A lord like this was rarely seen in the world, who would excavate stones for his citizen on the mountain and transport them down the mountain for his citizen to build houses. He had overthrown the subordination and because of that, the refugees on the prairie who had been forced to gather here by Zhu Ba could be relieved to settle down here. These people were mostly herdsmen that had been living on the nearby prairies for generations. They lost the foundation of their lives because they had lost all of their muscular teens in a brutal war. But now, Junior Leopard gave them hope. And most of all, Junior Leopard did not want anything from them now, and even though he was harsh, he was nothing like the Royals who used to override and bully them. Therefore, they felt that Junior Leopard was better than their leaders back in the day.
"Your Excellency, Your Excellency..." A series of voices mixed with the panting from running came from behind.
"Well, if it isn't our Old Master Wendu. What can I do for you?"
"Your Excellency, you are making fun of me again!" Wendu smiled awkwardly when hearing Junior Leopard's words.
"I'm not joking. You see, you're somebody now!" Junior Leopard said with laughter, looking at the new leather coat that Wendu was wearing.
"Thanks to your blessing, Your Excellency. If it were not for you putting me in an important position, I would never have become who I am today!" Wendu said with an awkward smile.
Since arriving here, Wendu had been appointed by Junior Leopard to take charge of the herdsmen that Zhu Ba brought here. This former royal of a small tribe did have talent in management, seeing as he had managed more than 100 people in perfect order. However, he was not a mean person. Junior Leopard had given him the power and he did not use it for showing off. He tried his best to make everything right in the way that it should be. Wendu managed to facilitate communications between Junior Leopard's team and the herdsmen. He often granted whatever was requested by the herdsmen. Thus, he had become popular among them, and they called him Old Master Wendu with sincerity.
"Just speak. What's going on?"
"Your Excellency, Old Kelsang wants to see you!"
"Old Kelsang?!" Junior Leopard frowned. He had heard of this Old Kelsang, who was the eldest of the herdsmen. Old Kelsang was a man with vast knowledge and experience and he had some aristocratic bloodline running through his veins. But most importantly, he had lived a long life of more than 70 years after all of those struggles. Junior Leopard secretly could not help admiring his strong vitality.
"Your sinner Kelsang bows before the Master!"
Wendu had brought Kelsang to Junior Leopard. Kelsang kneeled at the feet of Junior Leopard as soon as he met him.
"Please don't, you're such an elder. My lifespan will be shortened if I accept your salutation!" Junior Leopard hurried over to him and said. The reason why Kelsang called himself a sinner was because the Great Jin and Yan Yuntian declared that all of the Northern Yuan people were guilty and slaves since the Great Jin had destroyed Northern Yuan.
"Get up and just speak frankly with me. I don't care about these manners so much!" Junior Leopard said.
"Here is the thing, Your Excellency. We are a people who have lost their country. If not for you, we couldn't make it through this winter. Even if we were not frozen to death, we would be eaten by the wolves on the prairie—"
"Get to the point!" Junior Leopard interrupted him and said. Although Kelsang did not speak the Mandarin of the Great Jin so well and with a strange accent, Junior Leopard still could clearly understand him.
"Your Excellency, we are herdsmen who have been living here for many generations and we are familiar with this land. I've heard that you, Your Excellency, wanted to build a town centralization here so that the herdsmen will no longer be homeless. They can thus lead a life like the Central Plains people. I know a place which is suitable to build a town, so I ventured to come here and see you, Your Excellency!"
"Well, is that so?" Junior Leopard raised his eyebrows. He had traveled hundreds of miles in the vicinity through his Dragon Flying Technique during these days, planning to find a good place to build a town centralization. However, after a cursory look at this land, it was hard for him to make up his mind and pick the right place out of several alternatives.
Now, the words of Kelsang intrigued him.
"Well, tell me about it. Where is it?"
"It's at the foot of Jilei Mountain!" Kelsang said, "The land at the foot of Jilei Mountain is vast and plain. There are two branches flowing down. It's right in the middle of the branches. You can not only build a town centralization there, but also a fortification. Because of these two crossing branches, we only need to alter them a bit and we can have a natural moat!"
"I've seen that place!" Junior Leopard nodded and said, "But I just didn't know that it is called Jilei Mountain. Well, it is a high mountain!"
"Yes, it is, Your Excellency. It's the highest mountain in the vicinity!"
"You've got something there. It seems like you have also thought about building a fortification, not just me, right?"
"Building a fortification has been the dream of our tribe for hundreds of years. However, this land is remote and bleak with strong enemies surrounding it. If we build a fortification, we will be easily targeted by others. But that problem no longer exists here now!" As he spoke, he pulled out a piece of parchment from his chest. "Your Excellency, building a fortification has been our dream for generations. All the ideas and designs about the fortification from our tribe over the generations have been put down on this parchment. I hope you, Your Excellency, can accept it!"
"It's good!" Junior Leopard accepted the parchment and unfolded it. It was big and exotic, and the pictures on it were sophisticated and that really cheered him up. After some quick glances, Junior Leopard folded it and put it in his chest pocket.
"Well, Old Kelsang, thanks for your help. The designs on this parchment are way too big for us now. I mean, one step at a time. We should first build a small town centralization to let everyone settle down." Junior Leopard walked over to Kelsang and helped him up. "You don't have to be worried, I won't hurt you. In the Great Jin, you are the sinners. But now, you are in my territory, and you are the first residents here. As long as you don't walk out of my territory, you are no different from any others. Understand?"
"Your sinner understands!"
"Good. Now get going!" Junior Leopard waved his hand and beckoned him to leave.
Junior Leopard was glad to accept the hospitality from the indigenous people and he also understood their concerns. However, he did not want to do harm to these indigenous people. These people were the residents of his territory, and now he needed to expand his population. He even thought about utilizing these people to attract other refugees from the prairie.
He was presently unable to enlarge the population in the Central Plains or any other places within a short period of time, so he could only depend on these refugees from the prairie. Old Kelsang had lived here for so many years and he was so familiar with this land that he could even be called a local bully. If he was willing to help, this thing would be much easier to accomplish.
While he was thinking, a soldier rushed over to him, saying, "Bad news, Your Excellency, bad news! They are fighting. They are fighting!"
"What's all the fuss?" Junior Leopard looked at the soldier, a confidant of Zhu Ba. "What do you mean 'They are fighting'? Who is fighting? Make it clear!"
"Your Excellency, Sire Zhu is fighting with the others!" the soldier said while panting, "Someone is here in our territory to make trouble!"
"What? Someone is making trouble?" Junior Leopard burst into laughter. There could be someone who was bold enough to make trouble in his territory?
"Let's go and see who is it!" Junior Leopard lifted his hand and beckoned the soldier to show him the way.
Not too far away came the noise of yelling and weapons colliding.
"How dare you fight against me! Do you know who I am?"
Junior Leopard clearly heard an outburst of furious yelling.
"How could I know who you are if you don't tell me?" Junior Leopard walked over there, smiling, only to see that Zhu Ba had already fought with someone and a batch of people were watching, standing around him. Aside from Zhu Ba's subordinates, there were a group of people that he did not know at all. These people all wore the same green robes with the same design, like the family servant of some wealthy families. They were all holding sabers and spears, wearing furious expressions on their faces and staring at Zhu Ba and his subordinate. It looked like they would raise their sabers and cut someone as soon as the fight began.
In the center, there was a young man who looked to be in his 30s fighting with Zhu Ba. He had a clean face of delicate beauty with no beard. He wore a luxurious red robe with a glittering silver long spear in his hand. Just like Zhu Ba, he was also at Level Four, so they were still locked in the fight.
When he noticed Junior Leopard, Zhu Ba attacked a movement ahead of his opponent, forcing him to defend himself using the horizontal spear. Zhu Ba then jumped out of the circle and stood beside Junior Leopard.
The man stretched his long spear and wanted to go after Zhu Ba when Zhu Ba was standing down. But he was stopped by an elder dressed in a grey robe.
"A master of martial arts at Level Six? That is rare!" Junior Leopard stared at that the elder in the grey robe, watching him walking over to the young man and grabbing his long spear.
"Who are you people? Why are you making trouble in my territory?"
"Your territory?!" A glint of sharp light flashed in the eyes of this young man when hearing Junior Leopard, and he looked at him, saying, "Are you Zhou Bao from the Wu Family?"
"Yes, I am. I'm Zhou Bao from the Wu Family. Who are you?" Junior Leopard stepped forward with his foot gently landing on the ground.
"I'm Wang Hua from the Wang Family in Cenzhou!" the man looked up and said.
"Wang Hua?!" Junior Leopard nodded gently. He had heard of this name, as well as the Wang Family in Cenzhou, a well-known family and barons in the world.
Technically, Wang Hua was not a direct descendant of the Wang Family in Cenzhou. He was just a member of one of its branches. In the war of conquering Northern Yuan, he had made lots of achievements with the help of the Wang clan, therefore, he had been awarded a fief of 200 miles that was adjacent to Junior Leopard's. In other words, Wang Hua was a neighbor of Junior Leopard.
"It's Young Master Wang!" Junior Leopard smiled and said, "Why are you here, Young Master? And you've been busy fighting with my subordinate since you arrived here. I don't think that's the proper way to be a guest!"
"I'm not trying to make things difficult for you. However, your subordinate dared to stop me when I was running after an escaped slave. He's really got some balls!"
"Well, I think you've got some balls, too!" Junior Leopard said leisurely with a chilling light flashing in his eyes. He did not know if there was something wrong with Wang Hua, otherwise, how could he be so full of himself?
"Zhou Bao, I don't want to be your enemy and I have no intention to encroach upon your territory. All I want is to hunt the slave down. I will leave here as soon as I catch the escaped slave!"
"What do you think this place is? Is it your garden that you can come and go from anytime you want?!" Junior Leopard said coldly, "For the sake of the Wang Family in Cenzhou, I will not make it difficult for you today, so you had better get the hell out of here!"
"Zhou Bao, are you saying that you want to be the enemy of the Wang clan?" Wang Hua said with anger, "How dare you scold me like that?! It's very brave of you!"
"Alas!" Watching the furious face of Wang Hua, Junior Leopard suddenly sighed. He turned his face to the old servant in the grey robe with his finger pointing at Wang Hua and said, "Is there something wrong with him? You'd better take him away, otherwise, I'll kick him out of here!"
"How... how dare you!" Wang Hua's face was flushed with anger. He put up his silver spear and tried to step forward, but the elder in grey grabbed his silver spear so tightly as if the spear was soldered to his hand so Wang Hua could not move a bit.
"Wang Fu, are you going to rebel?!"
"Master, you are no match for him. Let me do it!" the elder said gently.
"Are you sure you want to have a battle with me?"
"Your Excellency, I'm sorry to make you laugh at me. You are a well-known expert, and I'm just a useless servant. How can I have a battle with you?!" the elder said with a forced smile, "But this slave has stolen an important item from our Wang Family. It is a treasure that His Excellency, the Family Head, gave our master for protecting the destiny of the fief. We can not lose it under any circumstances. So we hope you, Your Excellency, can make an exception for us this time!"
"You've lost something, which is none of my business. But this here is my territory, and I won't allow anyone to make any trouble in my territory. If you were willing to have a conversation first, we could have worked this out through negotiations. But now? I'm sorry. If you want to find someone here, please let your Family Head talk to me. Zhu Ba, see them out!"
Junior Leopard smiled sarcastically with a condescending momentum emanating from him. He looked at Wang Hua with a sneer on his face and was about to leave.
"Your Excellency, do you really refuse to make an exception for the Wang clan?" said the elder with a sunken voice.
Junior Leopard stopped, "Respect is what we strive for. It's not what we are granted. Today, you didn't respect us. I've already shown my utmost respect to you by letting you walk out of here alive!"
"In that case, Your Excellency, I need to have a fight with you!"
"Well, do you mean that you're going to fight with me?" Junior Leopard turned around and threw a glance at Wang Fu.
"I'll always be a member of the Wang clan, dead or alive!" Wang Fu groaned, tightened his hand, and took the silver spear from Wang Hua by force. Then he attacked the forehead of Junior Leopard fiercely with the spear.
The red tassel on the spear looked like a dancing flame and the spear point was as fast as a flash.
Unparalleled power converged into a spot on the spear at that moment. When it arrived at the forehead of Junior Leopard, it bloomed all of sudden just like the blooming snow lotus on the very top of Snow Mountain.
This spear unexpectedly contained huge sharp Qi, which was strong enough to break the protective Gang Qi of a Level Seven expert.
The sound of a collision and a tremor arose.
When the point of the spear was about to stab his forehead, Junior Leopard put his fingers on the point of the spear.
The silver spear then bounced off. Wang Fu stepped back five paces so he could reluctantly stop himself. However, the spear in his hand was still trembling and humming.
"Pia—!" Then, a loud slapping sound emerged. It turned out that when Wang Fu had started to fight, Wang Hua also rushed at Junior Leopard with a dagger out of nowhere. But because he was too slow, he was slapped by Junior Leopard before he could stab him. The hit was so hard that Wang Hua was slapped away with all his teeth flying into the air. When he finally landed on the ground, there were no teeth left in his mouth.
"If you dare to get fresh with me, I'll knock all of your teeth out!"