Dan Fei's mind turned blank. Her brain WAS mush at Vastsea's words. She murmured, "Precious Tree Sect, the sixteen kingdoms alliance? Young Lord Zhen? Emperor Vastsea, are you playing a joke on me?"
"Of course not." Vastsea grinned. "The whole world knows. Ask the Geng brothers if you don't believe me. Both of them are young lord Jiang Chen's trusted followers."
These two words were a bolt from the blue. Her tender figure shook. She almost thought she was hallucinating. The name she'd longed for for so many years had resounded in her ears without the slightest warning.
Born in the sixteen kingdoms alliance, once a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect, and now the young lord of Veluriyam? Jiang Chen?
"Miss Dan'er, are you alright?" Vastsea was baffled. "Do you really know the young lord?"
Vastsea found this incredulous. Miss Dan'er had been on Sacred Peafowl Mountain all this time while Jiang Chen was the mountain's young lord. They should've met already. How was it possible for them not to know each other?
Dan Fei struggled to compose herself, yet her voice was still raw with emotion. "Young lord Jiang Chen… young lord Jiang Chen. Is this really not a dream?"
Vastsea and the Geng brothers looked at each other. The brothers actually didn't know her. Their attitude had become much friendlier once they learned she was Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter.
"Miss Dan'er, our young lord did indeed come from the sixteen kingdoms alliance, but he didn't stay for long in the Precious Tree Sect. He left for the Regal Pill Palace afterward. After Myriad Domain's invasion, he made a narrow escape to Veluriyam and gained Emperor Peafowl's favor. In a short decade, he displayed his extraordinary talents for the whole world to see, and became a peak existence of the young generation. You're Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, did you never hear him mention this?"
Dan Fei turned her back to the brothers with tears streaming down her face. She felt dazed, in a dream. Never in a million years would she have imagined that the man she yearned for day and night had been within reach all this while.
Fortune truly toyed with them all!
Seeing them absorbed in their discussion, Elder Qiu threw Zhao Mang a meaningful look. Although sweating with pain, Zhao Mang clenched his left fist, ready to pick up his severed limb and escape.
"Qiu, you better stay honest." Each and every move of theirs was within Vastsea's perception. Once a great emperor extended his consciousness, any blade of grass swaying in the gentlest of breezes within several dozen miles was within his awareness. "How dare you leave? Did this emperor say you could?"
Elder Qiu stiffened, his face pale. He thought he could sneak away while his opponents were distracted. He never imagined this Emperor Vastsea would be so sharp, that he would watch master and disciple so tightly.
While an attempt at forceful escape wasn't entirely doomed, he knew the probability of success was almost negligible. There was a huge disparity in strength between great emperors and those below. Perhaps some geniuses could try to fight despite that gap, but Elder Qiu wasn't one of them.
Most importantly, Emperor Vastsea wasn't one of these initial stage great emperors, but a bona fide veteran with at least two thousand years of fame to his name. He was an advanced great emperor, even if he hadn't reached the peak stage yet.
Vastsea had always been fond of flattering others. People like him were usually very attentive and proficient at reading body language. He saw Dan Fei turn her back to him and somewhat sensed the surge of her emotions. He could even see the slight shake of her shoulders.
A thought occurred to him. Perhaps Miss Dan Fei is truly an old friend of the young lord? That boggles the mind. Both of them were in Veluriyam for the past few years, did they never run into each other?
Then an explanation dawned on him. Wait, the young lord always wore a disguise while in Veluriyam and he never made his identity public. If they never met face to face, it's quite possible for both of them to be ignorant of the other. Otherwise, why would Miss Dan'er be so affected? Why would she show such an exaggerated reaction?
Perhaps… Vastsea's thoughts whirled at top speed. "iss Dan'er lost all her self-possession and became so agitated after hearing the news, so a relationship must be involved… Right, I have to handle this carefully. Wouldn't it be a great accomplishment to bring back the young lord's woman?
Coming to this conclusion, he waited patiently for Dan Fei to regain control of her emotions.
After a long while, Dan Fei finally steadied herself and faced the great emperor once again. She asked quietly, "Emperor Vastsea, where is your young lord now?"
"He's at the Regal Pill Palace. The sect is in the middle of rebuilding and requires his presence. Miss Dan'er, is the young lord perhaps the one you came to find in the Precious Tree Sect?"
Dan Fei wanted to protest, but in the end, she didn't deny. Instead, she quietly responded, "I never thought he'd become Veluriyam's young lord after we parted. I brushed past him countless times, yet thought he was at the other end of the world. Emperor Vastsea, how… how is he doing nowadays?"
Vastsea hurriedly to reply, "Very well, he's doing very well. Miss Dan'er, why don't I take you to him right now? I'm sure the young lord will be delighted to meet an old friend. Before sending me here, he especially told me to make inquiries and see whether I can find old acquaintances from the Precious Tree Sect. For example, a certain Ye Chonglou, or a Tang Hong. Oh I remember, he even told me to go to a mundane kingdom when I'm free…"
"Oh? Did he tell you to look for someone in that kingdom?" Dan Fei's tone took a strange turn as she suddenly thought of something.
"Yes, the young lord told me to visit Skylaurel's king. I think he's called Ye Rong or something. Oh right, there's also a girl. He said she's Ye Chonglou's disciple, called Dan Fei."
Vastsea stopped all of a sudden. His eyes fell on Dan Fei as if he finally understood something. No wonder Dan Fei asked him who he'd been told to look for.
It seems Miss Dan'er happens to be the Dan Fei the young lord asked me to find? Judging by her reaction, it seems her relationship with the young lord is quite deep indeed.
Tears threatened to spill from Dan Fei's eyes, almost getting the better of her. Countless feelings welled up in her.
So he didn't forget me after all! He didn't forget me. A faint wisp of happiness rose amidst her sadness. All of a sudden, she felt that she hadn't suffered in vain during these years, that the torment of her longing had been worth it.
"Geng brothers, why don't you take Miss Dan'er to the Regal Pill Palace first to meet with the young lord. I'll follow you once I capture Qiu." Vastsea didn't act high-handed. Instead, he spoke as if consulting with them.
The Geng brothers shared a look, well aware this Dan'er might well be someone dear to Jiang Chen. They dared not slight her importance. They knew they were strong enough to suppress Elder Qiu if they stayed behind, but it was another story when it came to capturing him.
In an exchange of blows between experts, one wouldn't be able to stop an enemy from fleeing if one was only slightly stronger.
"Miss Dan'er, the Geng brothers are the young lord's trusted followers. With them by your side, nothing will happen to you along the way." Vastsea's tone couldn't be more courteous.
Dan Fei hadn't freed herself entirely yet from the stupor of the happy tidings. She sighed softly, her voice conflicted. "Right now, I'd like to go back to Skylaurel first."
She'd really planned on visiting Skylaurel. Logically speaking, she should be wishing that she could grow wings this instant and fly to Jiang Chen. However, for some inexplicable reason, she was a little afraid of having this decade-old dream suddenly come true.
She wasn't afraid that the dream would shatter, but she was at a loss how to face Jiang Chen. Should she tell him that she'd been his partner during that night of absurd debauchery?
If so, Dan Fei was worried whether Jiang Chen would think her a wanton woman. Would he look down on her? Even if he didn't, even if he felt guilty, Dan Fei knew that Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord Zhen had a dao partner.
Dan Fei felt a faint ache in her heart at that thought, as well as a twinge of jealousy. How should she face him? And more importantly, how should she face his dao partner?
Uncertainty and conflicted feelings weighed on her. Although she was still as excited and happy as ever at finding Jiang Chen, a newfound conflict now reigned in her.
Vastsea blinked. Dan'er had cried tears of joy when she learned of Jiang Chen's whereabouts, so why had she become so aloof again all of a sudden? However, he was a clever man. Putting two and two together, he realized Miss Dan'er must be worried about something, or perhaps she couldn't put down her pride as a woman.
With a small smile, he said, "It happens I'm also headed to Skylaurel. Since Miss Dan'er wants to go there, why don't I go with you?"
Dan Fei had been a little prejudiced against Vastsea up until now, because she still held lingering memories of him as Emperor Shura's man. But that prejudice was slowly fading away, because of news of Jiang Chen and how considerate he was. She nodded after some thought. "It will be my honor to have your company."
"Hehe… Miss Dan'er, please wait a moment." Vastsea's figure moved while he spoke. With a wave of his arms, the formidable energy of a great emperor lifted walls of water cresting toward Elder Qiu.
The elder's expression turned to dread. The momentum of a great emperor's full-strength attack was frightening enough. Moreover, the difference in cultivation between Elder Qiu and Vastsea was as great as the distance between the sky and the earth.
The thought of resistance had barely crossed the elder's mind when the daunting water curtains crashed over him, shaping a vortex of water that sucked him inside.
Free and easy, Vastsea's figure blurred as he charged inside the vortex.
He came back out of the water holding two men.