"Be my powerful henchman?" Yan Yuntian laughed but rose to his feet suddenly as if something had crossed his mind. He was so excited that he almost threw the woman to the ground.
She was worried as she thought that Yan Yuntian had gotten angry again. Before she could speak, she saw him frowning and pacing back and forth in the Princes' Study as if he was thinking over something extremely important.
"Your Majesty, you... "
But Yan Yuntian waved his hand, a sign for her to stop talking lest he would be interrupted.
After pacing for a while in the Princes' Study, he suddenly stopped in his tracks and asked, "Xian'er, what if I send this guy to Taiyuan Heaven?"
"Taiyuan Heaven?" The woman named Xian'er changed her expression. She looked shocked and said to Yang Yuntian, "So you are going to give him the Taiyuan Token? But up until now, he hasn't submitted himself to your rule yet. If he were to get the opportunity to go to Taiyuan Heaven and obtain even greater strength, he would be more arrogant and beyond your reach, wouldn't he?"
"Hehe, now he is already beyond my reach. Besides, he has a special status. He has a combat capability close to the Mysterious Realm, second to none among those who are below the Mysterious Realm. But he hasn't reached the Mysterious Realm due to his cultivation level, so he cannot be included in the list of Immortals, which means that he doesn't have to comply with the Law of Heaven. That's the trouble. If there is an opportunity to help him enhance his strength and reach the Mysterious Realm, which doesn't belong to the Three Realms, he has to abide by the Law of Heaven. If so, as long as we don't provoke him, he can't make trouble for me. If worst comes to worst, I can give him my entire northwest region. He is going to marry Fei-er anyway, so we won't lose much. It's much better than letting him continue to make trouble everywhere like a shit-stirrer, right?"
"I see. Now that we can't stop him, we might as well do him a favor to help him reach the Mysterious Realm quicker. Then there will be one less troublemaker for us, too."
"That's right!" Yan Yuntian nodded. "It's somewhat helpless and even shameful, but we have to admit that he has gone beyond our control. In that case, it's better to let him have his way and give him some support. Anyway, he is also one of the people of the Great Jin. Even if he sets up a country in the northwest later, he will still belong to our own people. That's for sure, isn't it?"
"Your Majesty, that's a brilliant idea. Please accept my respect and admiration. It is indeed a feasible way. In addition, with such powerful strength, he will obtain great benefits in Taiyuan Heaven. He can be used to deter others. One way or another, he will become a henchman of Your Majesty!"
"Haha!" Hearing this, Yan Yuntian burst out peals of laughter and felt unprecedentedly carefree, as if all his depression and gloom that lasted for the past dozen days had flowed away along with that laughter.
"Good, that's good. In this case, I'll turn him into my henchman. Besides, if he really does obtain great benefits from Taiyuan Heaven, he will be grateful to me. That's killing two birds with one stone."
"Your Majesty, you are playing an even more sophisticated game. In the future, you can rename yourself the Golden Abacus!" Xian'er giggled, feeling utterly happy when she saw Yan Yuntian become relieved upon finding a solution.
"Your Majesty, by the way, it's not a big deal to let Fei'er marry Zhou Bao, but for the Third Prince of the Li dynasty... "
"Humph. That's not my problem. If he didn't think of getting more chips in Taiyuan Heaven to suppress me but proposed to Fei'er earlier, then why will Fei'er marry Zhou Bao? If he feels dissatisfied now, he can go and reason with Zhou Bao. I wonder whether he has that ability or not!"
"That's right. The engagement between Fei'er and him was only a verbal promise and was not settled. Now that this swift-footed Zhou Bao got Fei'er first, all he can do is to blame himself for thinking too much!" Xian'er nodded. "I think that Zhou Bao is more reliable than the Third Prince. The Third Prince's mother is from a powerful family, but they are, after all, outsiders. How can he compare to Zhou Bao!"
"You are right. Even if there was no Zhou Bao, I would still have declined this marriage engagement. Now that Zhou Bao has a hand in it, I don't have to worry about it. Although he is a son of a bitch, he does solve one of the big problems!" Yun Yuntian laughed, stroking his beard. "You know, even what you eat and drink has some reasons. Gains and losses are also heaven's will. Since things have gone so far, we might as well push the boat along with the current. Perhaps, we will have a windfall."
The second year of Yongping of the Great Jin quietly came to an end. After a heavy snowfall, Yunzhou of the Great Jin was covered with white and it was enchanting.
Qingyang Market in Yunzhou.
The town centralization that previously could not be found on a map had become a busy and lively county. It had been extended two times in one year. The house of the newly renowned Zhou family had also been extended three times so that it occupied a quarter of the entire county seat. But no one dared to say anything against this.
That was because now the Zhou family were relatives of the royal family!
For martial arts practitioners, Zhou Bao was one of the strongest experts in the world. But to the common people, being identified as a relative of the royal family had much greater value than being identified as an expert.
At present, what the people in Qingyang Market talked about most was the spectacular wedding ceremony that was held before the New Year, when Zhou Bao, this "Fourth Doggie" from the Zhou family, married Princess Qingyang, the beloved daughter of the emperor.
The people in this small village never saw that kind of splendid scene, and the whole process happened just like a dream. Even one month had passed, they still could not stop talking about this wedding and their envy of the Zhou family.
"The Zhou family is really prosperous now. I never thought that Old Zhou could have such a capable son!"
"The ancestral grave of the Zhou's is located next to my family's. How could it alone produce the lucky blue smoke?"
The people familiar with the Zhou family sighed with emotion and did not understand why the Zhou family had become so prosperous all at once. They had no doubt that their families were not much different from the Zhou family.
It did not matter how envious people were of them or that they were talking about them.
At present in the Zhou's house, all of the family members of the Zhou's were finally gathered together.
Of course, the man sitting in the seat of honor was Old Zhou. He looked older and portlier than he was before, smiling as if there was endless good news coming to the door.
Sitting beside Old Zhou were Zhou Bao and Yan Yunfei, followed by his eldest son and eldest daughter-in-law, second son and second daughter-in-law, and Zhou Hua'er, Zhou Bao's sister, and her husband, Wang Tianlei.
"Little Fourth, are you going out again after just getting married?"
Mrs. Zhou sitting beside Old Zhou looked unhappy because Zhou Bao, who just had gotten married and had stayed at home for only a month, had to leave again.
"Mother, I'm going to the northwest to see what's going on there. Now that the trade route is open, more and more people are coming and there are more things to deal with. I need to handle the things that Jiang Xiao can't and make the decisions myself." Zhou Bao smiled. "What's more, I'm going to find a good location to build a new house so that you and father can move there!"
"Move? Why? Isn't it good in Qingyang Market? People here are familiar folks and can take care of each other. I heard that your place is very desolate and has only a small population. Besides, it's cold. Your father and I are old and can't stand the cold!"
Zhou Bao forced a smile. "Mom, do you really think that I haven't thought about that and would leave you and dad in the cold after you arrive there? Don't worry. Even if you don't live there for a long time, you should at least go and visit from time to time. After all, it's my fief, and also the land of the Zhou family. When you go there, you will be the most revered elder."
"Little Fourth is right. It's the fief of our Zhou family. Now I'm still healthy enough to go. Even if I'm too weak to get out of bed and need to be lifted, I'll still go and see it!" Old Zhou tapped his long and straight pipe of tobacco pouch against the table hard and gave Mrs. Zhou a dirty look. "Stupid woman, shut up if you don't know anything!"
Mrs. Zhou did not buy it and stared back at him. Seeing Yan Yufei sitting next to Zhou Bao, she did not swear back.
To be honest, she thought that the life of the past few years had been a dream. Throughout most of her life, she never expected her son to marry a princess. She felt uncomfortable about the identity of Yan Yunfei as a princess. It was not because she felt dissatisfied with her, on the contrary, she was extremely satisfied with Yan Yunfei, who was beautiful, gentle, and considerate. But her identity as a princess made Mrs. Zhou feel ashamed for her own identity as an ordinary person. In front of Yan Yunfei, she was unable to put on airs as a mother-in-law. It was awkward when they were together because she felt inferior to Yan Yunfei, which was totally different from normal relationships between other mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law.
Both she and old Zhou had this feeling. This kind of embarrassing situation made Zhou Bao feel uncomfortable. In fact, he himself did not have close relationships with members of the Zhou family except for Zhou Hua'er and her husband. That was also why he would like to take Yan Fei-er away.
However, Mrs. Zhou was reluctant to part with her most promising son. Over the years, Zhou Bao had spent most of his time outside and little time with his family members. Finally, he had gotten married and came back, but he was going to leave again, which made her feel empty in her heart.
"Mother, Little Fourth is an official of the Imperial Court. He has many things to deal with. You can't make him always stay at home!" At this time, Wang Tianlei began to speak. "And he has a fief and has become a vassal. There is a court decree saying that people with this kind of identity cannot leave their fief casually. This time, it is already owing to the emperor's grace that he can come back and stay at home for so long. If he does not go back, he might be punished by the emperor!"
"Ah, is this true? Little Fourth is the son-in-law of the emperor, isn't he? Will the emperor also punish him?" Mrs. Zhou felt puzzled.
"Mother, no matter he is the son-in-law or even the son of the emperor, if he goes against orders, he will be punished!" Zhou Bao gave Wang Tianlei a grateful look and continued to explain.
As soon as the voice had just fallen, he felt that the sensitive and soft part of his waist was pinched by Yan Yunfei, and then was revolved around. He turned around and saw Yan Yunfei staring at him with anger.
He smiled, gave her a comforting look, and added, "In fact, the fief isn't that far from here. In two months, in the early spring, I will take you there to have a look. Even though it's desolate, the scenery is still good!"
"Don't mind her, she doesn't know our Fourth Doggie's ambitions. How could he always stay at home?" Old Zhou suddenly groaned as if his authority had been damaged, and that settled the matter.
After shooting a dissatisfied glance at Old Zhou, Mrs. Zhou said nothing but looked at Zhou Bao with a reluctant expression in her eyes.
"You really are... Your mother wants you to stay longer. It's not a big deal. My father won't blame you for it!" Back at their own courtyard, Yan Yunfei could not help complaining. "You always put the blame on my father, aren't you afraid of him getting angry and blaming you?"
"He had blamed me for everything that I should bear the responsibility for before, so he won't blame me anymore!" Zhou Bao laughed. No one was around, so he held Yan Yunfei in his arms and kissed her face feverishly.
"It's still daytime. In broad daylight, how could you... Shame on you!"
But Zhou Bao did not feel the same and wanted to continue. At this time, his expression changed and his hands stopped moving abruptly.
"Who is that? Friend, why don't you come out? Are you blaming me for not entertaining you well enough?"
"Ah!" After hearing Zhou Bao's words, Yan Yunfei blushed. She pushed Zhou Bao away and lowered her head to sort out her dress.
"Zhou Bao from Yunzhou, you deserve your reputation!"
With the advent of this voice, weird things happened. A puff of smoke rose up and slowly gathered into a figure. It was a middle-aged intellectual with a gloomy expression dressed in a gray robe. "I'm Mo Yinyang from the East Sea Li Empire. My pleasure to meet you, Mr. Zhou."
"The East Sea Li Empire?" Zhou Bao's mind went slightly blank for a second as he was very surprised.
He knew that the Li Empire was located on another far-away continent separated by the sea, whose national strength was not inferior to that of the Great Jin dynasty, and it was the overlord of that continent. However, it was distant from the Great Jin, separated by an ocean that was hundreds of thousands of miles wide. It had to be very hard and dangerous to go across such a distance. Ordinary people could not pass over the boundless sea. Even for Level Nine experts, it was still very difficult to pass over it.
The sea was incomparable, much larger than the mainland. It had all kinds of evil beasts and animals. Some hidden demons were hiding on some islands. It was said that the Demon tribe that was wiped out by human beings several hundred thousand years ago was also stranded in the sea areas. They lived and reproduced on the islands. And after several hundred thousand years of development, it had become a promising tribe once again.
As for the Li Empire, it had no intersection with the Great Jin dynasty either.
In fact, 99% of the people in the Great Jin dynasty did not know about the existence of this Li Empire. That was because it was too far away. Since ancient times, there were no official exchanges between the two states. Zhou Bao only learned about this empire from a book that he had captured from the Cool Breeze Gang. But at that time, he just took it as a wild history and put it aside after reading. He never thought that someone from the Li Empire would actually appear in front of him and would know about him. The most important thing was that this man had an extremely strong cultivation, having reached the phase of Level Eight. He exuded a very secretive spirit that made Zhou Bao feel that it was pretty dangerous.
"There really is an East Sea Li Empire!" Zhou Bao gently nodded and winked at Yan Yunfei, suggesting for her to go back.
Yan Yunfei nodded obediently, turned back to her room, and gently closed the door.
"The East Sea Li Empire has existed a long time, but the two countries are too far apart to communicate. Therefore, only a few people know about it!" Mo Yinyang smiled.
"It seems that the technique that this guy practices is the Dark Dust Technique, the orthodox heritage of the Jade Toad Clan of the Ancient Dark Sect. He has a strong cultivation, so be careful. The Ancient Dark Sect has secretive methods. Don't be tricked!" Green Spirit suddenly sent out the idea to remind Zhou Bao to be careful.
Zhou Bao secretly kept it in his mind and smiled. "Indeed, there are few people that know about the East Sea Li Empire. After all, it's hundreds of thousands of miles from the Great Jin dynasty. Could you please tell me why you have come here?"
"I came here for you, Mr. Zhou!" Moyin Yang smiled. "At this time, the Third Prince of the Li Empire has sent many experts to assassinate you, Your Excellency. I came here to warn you!"
"the Third Prince of the Li Empire?" Zhou Bao blinked, thinking that it was inexplicable. "He wants to assassinate me. But why?"
It was not surprising that he was surprised. "The Li Empire is hundreds of thousands of miles away, separated by the sea. There are no relations between the two countries. Even if I am arrogant in the Great Jin dynasty, it is not the business of the Li Empire. Why did a prince send experts to assassinate me?"
"It is all because of Princess Qingyang!" Mo Yinyang laughed. "Maybe you don't know that yet. In fact, the Third Prince has long been interested in Princess Qingyang of the Great Jin dynasty, that is, your wife. He planned to propose marriage at the beginning of the new year. However, you got a head start on him. Given his character, he would have personally rushed to the Great Jin to make trouble for you. But he didn't, which could be seen as a generous gesture to show you some respect."
"Humph. And what does he count as? Do I need him to save face?" Zhou Bao sneered. With his current strength, he had dared to break into a millennial school like the Mingyi School. He really did not care whether the man was a prince or not, let alone that the man coveted his wife. Every time that Zhou Bao thought about that, the idea to crush his face surged up into his mind.
He and Yan Yunfei had gotten married over a month ago and had a happy, married life. Although Yan Yunfei was a princess, she was not arrogant, but obedient to Zhou Bao. She was also not like Yan Yunyan, who looked glamorous but always gave Zhou Bao a sense of distrust. It seemed that Yan Yunyan was always calculating inexplicable things from day to night.
To put it plainly, Yan Yunfei was a little girl who was still living in an illusion. It was very easy to deal with her. Although it was an arranged marriage, the relationship between Yan Yunfei and Zhou Bao seemed to have gotten closer little by little over the past month. Zhou Bao was very satisfied with this. When he heard that this so-called Third Prince coveted his wife, how could he not be annoyed?
"The Li Empire is different from the Great Jin. Founded 8,000 years ago, the Li Empire is the most powerful dynasty in the East Sea. With powerful strength, it is much more powerful than the royal family of the Great Jin dynasty and even stronger than those prestigious sects and schools in the Great Jin. Every prince of the Great Jin is an expert. In your Jin, if one becomes an expert when he is under 20 years old, he can be called a rare and talented man. However, in Li Empire, all of the 18 grown princes have reached the Expert Realm before 20."
"So what?" Zhou Bao sneered. "Is it really remarkable to reach the Expert Realm before 20? In fact, the Li dynasty is only a super school that controls the world. Do you really think that such an influence can threaten me?"
"You misunderstand, Your Excellency. I am not threatening you. I just want to warn you!" A trace of a reluctant smile flitted across Mo Yinyang's gloomy face. "At this time, not only are those assassins sent by the Third Prince coming, but so is Ye Qingtian, the top master of martial arts in the Li dynasty, who has risen up from the younger generation. He is only 20 this year but has already reached the peak of Level Nine. With the help of a Pure Yang Celestial Device, his combat capability is far beyond Level Nine. I am afraid that this time he comes to have combat with you!"
Zhou Bao's expression became weirder. He knew that he was famous now, but that was only in the Great Jin dynasty, or at most, to the edge of the continent. How could his fame have spread all the way to the Li dynasty separated by a sea of hundreds of thousands of miles?
The most important thing was that he realized something from the last sentence of Mo Yinyang.
His combat capability was far beyond Level Nine!
His own combat capability was also far beyond Level Nine. And so was Ye Qingtian's!
However, the fact that his own combat capability was far beyond Level Nine had only been known to the world a month ago when he alone had challenged the Mingyi School. Before that, people all thought that his capability was only close to Level Nine.
But what Mo Yinyang said meant that Ye Qingtian had heard that Zhou Bao's power was far beyond Level Nine, so he wanted to come to have combat with Zhou Bao!
It only happened one month and a few days ago. How could it already be known by the Li dynasty?
Even if a man used the Dragon Flying Technique to fly at the speed of Zhou Bao with the help of Gang Qi, it would be impossible to reach the Li dynasty in just one month. "There aren't things like telephones and telegraphs in this world. How could the news be transmitted so fast? Is this guy deceiving me?"
Seeing Zhou Bao's puzzled expression, Mo Yinyin finally smiled. Of course, this smile was hidden in his heart and was not shown on his face. But Zhou Bao could tell that from the faint smile that flashed in his eyes.
"It must be a conspiracy!"
That was the idea flashing across Zhou Bao's mind.
"Actually, it's very simple. There are no exchanges between the Great Jin dynasty and the Li dynasty, but the senior officials of the two countries are connected." Mo Yinyang smiled. "When a man has a cultivation of Level Seven and can be called an expert, he will have access to some hidden secrets of the continent and some things about the Mysterious Realm. You are too young and your cultivation grows too fast. In addition, you don't belong to any powerful sect. That's why you don't know about all this now!"
"Another old fellow is making things mysterious on purpose!" Zhou Bao said in low voice coldly. "I know what I should and shouldn't do. It's my business. It seems that it's not your business to teach me!"
"Of course. I didn't come to teach or threaten you at this time. I came here to make a deal with you!"
"A deal?" Zhou Bao slightly squinted and said, "What kind of deal?"