Jiang Chen didn’t care much about how the battle was proceeding. He tenderly clutched Dan Fei closer to him, allowing her to cry into his chest. He knew that her accumulated frustration and grief sorely needed alleviation. There was no need for talk.
A good cry was a much more effective solution. Perhaps Dan Fei will feel a lot better after?
Weeping for a long while calmed the lady’s emotions down. She finally came to the realization that she wasn’t dreaming after all. The dream she’d repeated for all these past years had come true. Everything seemed as incredible as a fairy tale.
“Am I really not dreaming?” She raised her head gently, looking directly at Jiang Chen’s well-defined, dignified face. His appearance emanated an almost intoxicating manliness.
She’d yearned for this through the days and nights, a scene she had wished for whenever she awoke from a midnight delusion.
She was tangibly together with him once more.
“It’s not a dream. Not at all.” Jiang Chen sighed softly. “Look at this. Do you remember?”
A letter appeared in his hand without warning. It was the one that Dan Fei had left for him.
Dan Fei quavered when she saw the letter, joyful light pouring out of her eyes. “You… you got the letter? And kept it?”
“Yes, but I didn’t think that Xiao Fei from the trials was you, Dan Fei!” Jiang Chen exclaimed.
She suddenly clutched Jiang Chen’s arm tightly, radiating wavering uncertainty. “Do you regret it?” She asked softly.
“Yes.” Jiang Chen nodded. “I regret that I didn’t think more. I regret that I didn’t get to see you even once at Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Otherwise, I would’ve found you far earlier.”
Dan Fei’s body shook when she first heard the ‘yes’, but her heart returned to its normal place when the ensuing words came. A warm current flowed through her heart.
“Jiang Chen, Jiang Chen… I did everything all those years ago out of my own free will. I’ve never regretted anything. Even in my grief-stricken time wandering the world, I didn’t… I only have one thing to ask.”
“What is it?’
“Please don’t treat me callously because of my initiative.” Despite her natural pride and confidence, Dan Fei found it hard to remain calm in love.
Jiang Chen felt another jolt of pain surge through his heart. Dan Fei’s unsure look added to his guilt.
“You’ve done so much and suffered so much for me. How could I not know your feelings? For what reason would I possibly mistreat you?” Sighing softly, he caressed Dan Fei’s face. “From now on, I’ll protect you from the evils of the world. I’ll make sure that our daughter has both parents with her as she grows up.”
Another shot of distress coursed through him.
Dan Fei gasped softly. “You… you know everything?”
Jiang Chen nodded. “I might not have seen you at Sacred Peafowl Mountain, but I’ve met Nian’er,” he responded seriously. “I once visited Plumscore Retreat and saw her there. There was a feeling of intimacy… as if we were connected somehow. She touched the softest places in my heart and I couldn’t help but want to be close to her and protect her. I thought it was just a hallucination, but now I see that she’s my daughter. I too, was foolish. She was so close to me all this time, but I left her alone for so long…”
By now, Dan Fei had descended into inconsolable sobbing.
“It’s all my fault… all my fault…” She shook her head with self-blame. “I asked His Majesty to take her to Plumscore Retreat because I wanted her to have a better upbringing. I didn’t want her to be as useless as her mother, to be…”
“Dan’er, don’t say that.” Jiang Chen interrupted her. “If our daughter can grow up to be like you, I would be very proud of her.”
Dan Fei was delighted at his words, her attractive face blushing.
“That’s right, Dan’er. You sealed your doors when at Sacred Peafowl Mountain, didn’t you? Why did you come here to the Precious Tree Sect?” Jiang Chen couldn’t help but ask.
Dan Fei didn’t speak. Her clear eyes looked lovingly into Jiang Chen’s for a long while before sighing softly. “If I couldn’t find you again, my remaining life would be spent in sadness. I wanted to find you so that Nian’er would have a father again. I also wanted to find the old master... if life could go back to what things used to be here in Skylaurel, how nice that would be…”
“You came to look for me?” Jiang Chen was shocked. His consciousness suddenly shifted, sweeping toward the right.
There was a young man in luxurious dragon-embroidered robes rushing this way, protected by a group of Dragonteeth Guards. The young man’s face appeared rather youthful still, but his sideburns were a bit white.
“Ye Rong?” Jiang Chen was astounded when he saw who it was. The refined, handsome fourth prince had become so grizzled in just a few years’ time. Why were the hairs on his face become sprinkled with white?
Dan Fei was a bit taken aback as well. Her eyes widened at the running Ye Rong, finding his change rather incomprehensible.
“Is that fourth prince? Why has he aged so much?” Women were more sensitive to matters of appearance than men.
“Is that my Brother Jiang Chen over there?” Ye Rong shouted from afar.
“Come, let’s go meet him.” Jiang Chen didn’t want the prince to approach the battlefield. In a fight between great emperors, an ordinary man like Ye Rong would die ten times over from a single aftershock.
“Shall we speak inside, fourth prince?” Ignoring the Dragonteeth Guards altogether, Jiang Chen took Ye Rong inside the capital in a streak of light. He came to a comparatively safer corner before putting his friend down.
Ye Rong looked at Jiang Chen, not yet having recovered his wits. After a moment, he turned to Dan Fei. The reunion of this trio ten years later made him feel oddly inferior. In name, he was the emperor of a kingdom, a man above all his subjects. However, he would probably have to look up to the two people before him for the rest of his life.
The youths who had grown up together in Skylaurel Kingdom were no longer at the same level.
“Brother Jiang Chen, Miss Dan Fei,” Ye Rong sighed softly. “You’ve both become more glorious over the years. But I’m almost an old man now, eh?”
Truthfully speaking, he was only a bit more than thirty. Alas, he’d had far too many worries over the years, and his role as a puppet meant the kingdom was virtually nonexistent.
The intervention of countless cultivators in the affairs of a mundane kingdom meant that it could no longer function like it did before. As its ruler, he was barely more important than an object.
Dan Fei didn’t know what to say. She wanted to console him, but wasn’t sure how.
“Fourth Prince, royal tutor Ye Chonglou saw great value in your calm and composure all those years ago. You’ve had a hard time lasting under so much duress,” Jiang Chen smiled. “Don’t worry. From today onwards, you’ll be a proud emperor once more, a true ruler of your people. Skylaurel Kingdom will no longer suffer any invaders to enter its borders, nor will outsiders plague her people.”
Jiang Chen was pained to see Skylaurel Kingdom in such a sorry state. He had spent a long time here. It was a place of numerous memories. He wouldn’t have settled his uncle and cousin here otherwise.
Ye Rong looked at Jiang Chen, his mouth bitter. “Brother Jiang Chen, I’ve been hearing many cultivators say that you are the young lord… of Veluriyam Capital? Is this true?”
As a king of a mundane kingdom, Ye Rong received little news from the greater world. Only because of such calamitous events of late had he received such news.
Jiang Chen knew it was impossible to conceal the truth. “I am indeed at Veluriyam Capital now,” he confirmed, “and rule over it as its leader.”
Dan Fei’s bright eyes glittered with pride. She was very proud of the fact that Jiang Chen ran a faction as large as Veluriyam Capital at such a young age.
“Ah right. I passed by Skylaurel Kingdom a while ago, getting rid of a few people from the Purple Light Division in the process. I saw Tian Shao and Tang Long then and told them to hide to avoid the coming storm. Have you heard from them recently?”
Ye Rong shook his head. “No, not since they left.”
He felt sad that Jiang Chen had arranged ways out for Tian Shao and Tang Long, but hadn’t even gone to see him.
“You are the ruler of your kingdom, fourth prince. If I had given you any help or told you to hide, your domain would’ve collapsed completely. No matter how weak and powerless you might have felt, you had to remain upon your throne. That was why I didn’t come see you.”
“Thankfully, you came out relatively alright,” sighed Jiang Chen.
Ye Rong’s eyes lit up. “Jiang Chen, were you testing me?”
“I suppose so,” smiled the young lord. “Don’t worry, after all this is said and done, you will have true authority in your hands. The land you rule over will be even greater than before. You should get ready. You’ll have plenty of room to show off your talents.”
Ye Rong’s sadness was instantly washed away by this promise.
He glanced toward Dan Fei before settling his eyes back on his brother. “Miss Dan Fei,” he laughed. “You ended up together with Jiang Chen after all. I forgot to congratulate you.”
Dan Fei’s cute face reddened, but happiness flashed across her eyes.
During their discussion, the battle above them became even fiercer.
Jiang Chen called forth the Goldbiter Rat King. “Old Gold, take your brethren and keep Dan’er and the fourth prince safe. I’ll go take a look.”
Dan Fei tugged on her lover’s shoulder. “A battle between great emperors…”
He smiled serenely. “It’s fine. Even a great emperor as strong and vicious as Emperor Shura could do nothing against me. These two men aren’t nearly as strong as he was, so why should I be scared of them?”
He patted her shoulder in reassurance. Summoning Long Xiaoxuan and activating his Kunpeng Meteoric Escape, he blasted towards the battlefield.