A clap of thunder roared past his ears when the name flashed through Jiang Chen's mind, freezing him in place. Dan Fei? Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, Miss Dan'er?
The thought that they could be related had never crossed his mind. He'd learned of Dan Fei's departure from the Taifu residence after his return from the Skylaurel trial. She'd even left a letter for him to the residence's servants.
The letter contained a single line—Even thousands and thousands of words are insufficient, I will never regret pining for my love.
To this day, the letter resided in his storage ring. The memories of that period sometimes came back to him over the years, reminding him of this girl who was a little competitive, a little arrogant, but also a little petulant.
Many things had happened to Jiang Chen as the years went by. But now and then, in the dead of the night, he sometimes thought of her and his time in Skylaurel. Moreover, Ye Chonglou had also enjoined him to look for Dan Fei when he could.
Jiang Chen had always kept this request to heart. When sending Vastsea and the Geng brothers to the sixteen kingdoms alliance, he'd especially mentioned Dan Fei's name. But he never thought he would hear of her in such a roundabout way, and in such a flabbergasting manner.
This was truly a strange twist of fate that she'd turned out to be Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter.
"Are both of you certain this woman is Dan Fei? That she's Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, Miss Dan'er?" Jiang Chen asked after a deep breath, his voice grave.
"Young lord, Emperor Vastsea is familiar with Miss Dan'er, so he can't be mistaken. As for the young miss, she only knew of Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord Zhen, but wasn't aware of your real identity. Her reaction was quite pronounced when she learned the truth. We're convinced she's an old friend of yours. Her emotions didn't seem fake."
Jiang Chen was elated. "Great, wonderful! Fortune truly toys with men. I never imagined… We were both on Sacred Peafowl Mountain, why did we never meet? Fate is so cruel. I would've recognized her if we met face to face, even if she didn't recognize me."
He sighed with emotion. If Dan Fei really was Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, she wouldn't have worn a disguise. He thought back to the first time he'd gone to Sacred Peafowl Mountain.
Ji San had taken him to pay their respects to Miss Dan'er. The Coiling Dragon scion had wanted to win her favor, but they'd failed to win an audience after Dan'er's maid announced their visit.
After that, Emperor Peafowl had enlisted Jiang Chen when every great faction of Veluriyam proposed marriage, but Miss Dan'er had been a step ahead of him. She announced she would enter sealed door cultivation until she broke through, thus denying him another opportunity to see her.
Since then, Jiang Chen hadn't known anything else other than the existence of this adopted daughter cultivating behind closed doors. Now, hearing this stunning news, he lamented not only the coincidence, but also the hand of fate that played with the lives of mortals.
"Why else would she go to the Precious Tree Sect if she isn't Dan Fei? There's no mistake, it must be her." Jiang Chen hadn't seen her with his own eyes yet, but he was confident in his judgment. "Why didn't you bring her back?" he rued.
"Emperor Vastsea meant for us to take her back, but it seems Miss Dan'er was feeling shy. I think she said she's headed to Skylaurel together with Emperor Vastsea. It seems she's looking for someone," the Geng brothers replied.
"She must be searching for Ye Chonglou." Jiang Chen heaved a soft sigh, a slight worry gnawing at him. Back in the day, he'd had a premonition that great changes would descend upon Myriad Domain. He'd given the old master some resources and told him to go into hiding with the core members of the Precious Tree Sect.
It seemed that Ye Chonglou had taken the suggestion.
Only, there hadn't been a peep from them after that. It would be a lie to say that Jiang Chen wasn't worried. After all, the Precious Tree members didn't have that great of a cultivation. Even in hiding, they'd face terrible danger if they ever encountered a half-decent cultivator.
"I'll pay a visit to the sixteen kingdoms alliance once things are settled here," Jiang Chen decided. He could feel the excitement building in him at finally learning of Dan Fei's whereabouts after such a long time, and in such a spectacular fashion to boot.
Cloudsoar Monarch frowned subtly. He glanced at Jiang Chen, about to say something, but decided to hold his tongue.
"Cloudsoar, feel free to speak. There's no harm in it." Jiang Chen smiled.
The monarch shot to his feet and bowed. "Young lord, His Majesty cherished Miss Dan'er as the apple of his eye. Many eminent talents declared their affections for her before, but she always sent them away with nary a word. It seems she already has someone dear. She always called herself a married woman… and she also has a daughter! The child is still with Plumscore Monarch, correct?"
Plumscore Monarch nodded. "His Majesty entrusted Nian'er to this old woman and let me raise her. The child has great natural talent and is also very clever. She has a bright future ahead of her."
A married woman! Nian'er!
Jiang Chen suddenly realized something. Boom!
Lightning bolts crashed inside his skull. A married woman? A daughter? A sudden, inexplicable feeling ignited inside of him.
Countless clues seemed to swim in his head, trying to tell him something. Yet, they couldn't assemble all the pieces of the jigsaw together. Suddenly, Jiang Chen remembered the great trial held by the four great sects of the sixteen kingdoms alliance and a companion at his side who called himself "Xiao Fei."
"Xiao Fei!" Emotion surged in Jiang Chen's heart. Somehow, he was a little afraid of continuing with this train of thought.
The circumstances surrounding that trial resurfaced in his mind, especially that absurd night, that memory both vague yet deeply engraved in his mind.
He'd fallen into a trap and succumbed to an aphrodisiac poison. His body burned with a fiery fever that seemed inexorable. His cultivation was low back then, and he didn't have many solutions available.
Just as he was about to collapse, a mysterious woman suddenly appeared by his side and gifted him with a night of crazed passion. The memory of that night… A flower in the haze, so faint and distant, yet as real as anything could ever be.
That night left many nagging doubts behind. Who was the woman who'd sacrificed herself for him?
He and Xiao Fei had been very close to each other, but he'd disappeared after that night.
Here and now, these puzzle pieces fused into an inconceivable picture, sending Jiang Chen spiraling into confusion and chaos.
"Was it her? Are Xiao Fei and Dan Fei one and the same? Was she in that trial in a disguise? Is she the one who saved me that night? Could I be the one she always thinks of? Also Nian'er, is she…" Jiang Chen's chest wanted to spontaneously combust.
He wanted to melt when he remembered the little girl as pretty as a flower. An unexplainable feeling of love welled inside him.
He'd sensed a connection with the young girl at first glance, a feeling of natural affinity and intimacy between them. He remembered being puzzled. Why was he drawn to a total stranger? Simply because she was cute and pretty? Surely that wasn't reason enough?
However, if his guesses were right, he could finally explain that feeling of closeness that'd struck him out of the blue.
"Dan Fei, Nian'er…" Inside his chest, his heart was about to burst. A man could be brave and unyielding, but he also had a soft side.
"Gentlemen, let's discuss these matters another time. I have to go to Skylaurel first." He shot to his feet like his pants were on fire and immediately flew away under the crowd's stunned stare.
"I'll go with the young lord." Emperor Peerless cracked a leisurely smile. "Palace Head Dan Chi, as the sect head, you're naturally in charge of the important decisions here."
"Jiao brothers, my good friends, I'll have to trouble the both of you to keep the peace here for Palace Head Dan Chi. What say you?"
The Jiao brothers weren't keen on the idea, but they didn't dare go against Emperor Peerless. They could only mumble their assent.
Emperor Coiling Dragon laughed out loud. "Haha, the more the merrier. I'm also going. I've always been curious what kind of land nurtured a peerless genius like young lord Jiang Chen.
"As for the rest of you, stay at the Regal Pill Palace and give Palace Head Dan Chi a hand. Don't worry, the young lord should be back by the time the invitations are sent and the guests arrive. It's not such a long trip to the sixteen kingdoms alliance after all. We're both in Myriad Domain." He followed closely behind Emperor Peerless after issuing these orders.
Burning with impatience, Jiang Chen didn't have a second to waste. He extracted every ounce of power from his Kunpeng Meteoric Escape and flew toward Skylaurel. He was a ball of anxiousness, guilt, and gratification. Although he kept Dan Fei's letter in his storage ring, it'd gradually faded from his memories since knowing Huang'er.
He'd once thought Dan Fei's admiration for him was merely born from the mediocrity of the other young men in Skylaurel. No one else could make her sit up and take notice. Perhaps, Dan Fei had already found her soulmate somewhere, the sentiments of yesteryear faded with time.
How could he imagine how far Dan Fei would go for the sake of those juvenile sentiments? She'd sacrificed so much for him, yet he'd never taken notice of it. He really was too much of a heartless bastard.
He made haste without respite. However, he wasn't prepared for the cries of slaughter that greeted him in Skylaurel. He could sense formidable battle aura dozens of miles away. This feeling was so oppressive it seemed the entire capital was up in arms.
Jiang Chen frowned despite himself. "What's Emperor Vastsea doing? Does a great emperor like him need to make so many waves in a mundane kingdom? How can an ordinary city withstand this kind of devastation?"
Without another moment to spare, he turned into a beam of light and shot into the city, intent on getting to the bottom of the matter.