The Divine King's mansion was still stately and imposing. The auras from several generations of kings were still here, always instilling awe in visitors.
"Hmm, not bad, you have consolidated your second-level cultivation with 11,000 strands of violet energy. This is enough to contend against young kings." The Divine King's clear eyes could see the amount of violet energy in Feiyun but not his 9,930 beast souls.
Meanwhile, Feiyun didn't talk about what he had done in the last couple of days. He had no way of speculating whether the king knew about his one-night affair with Ji Lingxuan or not at Southern Sky.
Feiyun said with a natural expression: "It is all due to the golden ginseng, I thank you again, master."
"No need to be so formal with me." The king replied: "We'll go to the royal sacred ground tomorrow. All the members of the royal clan will be there, including the Jin Emperor, the four Divine Consorts, and the other imperial concubines. Princes, princesses, the royal ancestors; the court members such as the three directors, nine ministers, and eighteen marquises will be there too. Their prodigies will also come to spectate, so you need to prepare well tonight."
"So many people are coming?" Feiyun was surprised. He was worried the most about Ji Lingxuan. If they were to meet at the sacred ground, what was he going to do? A slight misstep might result in exposing the truth and his death.
The king said: "The emperor is the foundation of the dynasty while the king is the protector. Thus, the successor's bestowment is just as important as naming the next crown prince. Right, which princesses and imperial concubines came to find you recently?"
Feiyun's mind jumped after hearing this but he quickly calmed his thoughts and leisurely said: "Several imperial concubines did come to find me recently but I didn't meet them. I've only met… Consort Ji once, not daring to offend her due to her position."
The king remained natural and stroke his white beard then nodded: "I've heard of that. Some people saw you and the Divine Consort meeting at Southern Sky once in a buddhist chamber. At that time, the abbot, Buddha Maitreya, was also present to chant."
This was naturally not the truth.
But Feiyun already knew that many great powers in the capital worked together to hide all divination and twisted the truth. This became the new reality.
'The Divine King is implicitly telling me about it. Looks like he is aware too and must have been part of the group that helped me that night. This Ji Lingxuan is something else, actually dragging the Divine King into this mess too.'
It's an internal and embarrassing problem for the royal clan. The Divine King naturally didn't want this matter made public so he had to hide it.
Moreover, Feiyun was his disciple and he stood behind Feiyun's Divine King candidacy. If the emperor were to find out, he would be implicated as well after Feiyun's death.
Ji Lingxuan only slept with Feiyun but she had pulled so many big shots down. This would be the card she uses to blackmail them because exposing this secret would make it hard on everyone.
From this, one could see that this woman was not only wily but would also do anything necessary to achieve her goals. Her courage was also the most impressive, daring to have an affair with another man at the capital while being confident that others would help her hide it. The other Divine Consorts didn't have this characteristic.
Of course, Feiyun didn't understand why he was so easily seduced. He had such little self-control before her. Even though he knew that he should never sleep with her, it still happened anyway. There must have been a reason for his weakened self-control.
Feiyun respectfully said: "The Divine Consort is a master in Buddhism, I have learned a lot from her."
The king slightly smirked and said: "Then you have agreed to marry Princess Yue after passing the examination."
"Princess Yue?" Feiyun was surprised.
"Divine Consort Ji's daughter that has been cultivating at the Ji Clan. She only returned recently and was bestowed the title of princess." The king slightly glanced at him.
Feiyun had never heard of this princess before and Ji Lingxuan didn't bring it up so he was caught off guard.
The king noticed this and smiled: "If someone outside the royal clan wants to become the Divine King, they must marry a princess. A decision must be made after the examination. I'm sure the meeting between you and the Divine Consort was about this, am I right?"
"Of course." Feiyun said.
"Then did you agree?"
"I… feel that marrying a princess is a grand matter that can't be taken trivially. I'm still thinking about it." Feiyun's thoughts were chaotic.
'Marrying a princess? Screw that!' He didn't have the slightest interest in this Princess Yue. If it wasn't for Feng Mo's order, he would have continued pretending to be poisoned by Yama's Blood without participating in this examination.
Alas, there was nothing he could do now so gotta close his eyes and walk forward.
'There are more candidates than just me, maybe I'll just lose and tell Feng Mo that I have tried my best but the other three princes are just too strong.' Feiyun had this idea.
The Divine King continued: "Indeed, further rumination is necessary. After all, even a princess can compete for the throne. Once she marries you, she'll be the King Consort, gaining the support of the entire faction. This is enough to make her a competitor."
"A King Consort can also become the Jin Emperor?" Feiyun was quite surprised and got a sense of why Ji Lingxuan slept with him. This could be to blackmail him to marry Princess Yue. If the princess could gain the support of the future Divine King on top of the other big shots that got dragged down to the mud, she would have enough forces to go against Princess Luofu and the current crown prince.
All sacrifices were worth it in order to become the next emperor.
The king continued: "There have been outsiders becoming the Divine King in the history of the Jin Dynasty before. After marrying a princess, their spouse had a smooth sailing path to the throne as well. This was a unity of strength, allowing the dynasty to have solidarity resulting in a stronger foundation. Even the ancestors of the royal clan support this."
As long as the karmic fate of the dynasty continued on strong, these ancestors didn't care who the Divine King was.
Feiyun was the current greatest genius in the world with an immeasurable potential. The clan naturally wouldn't mind trying to win him over.
"The ancestors initially wanted you and Princess Luofu together. One would be the lord of the Divine King faction while the other can control the court. After all, you are the best genius right now while she has the fate blessing of the sacred tablet. This should be enough to quell the astronomical sign of the dragons biting the heart. However, you got struck by the poison so this matter ended then. Now, you are cured, there is a chance that the talk will resume."
The Divine King continued on: "That's why you need to take your time with this but when the moment comes, maybe it will be out of your control."
"But didn't the Jin Emperor announce to the world that he'll pick a hero among the candidates to be his son-in-law?" Feiyun asked.
"Do you know who advised him to do so?"
"The Grand Chancellor?" Feiyun guessed.
The king shook his head: "It was Consort Ji. I have to admit, she is a very intelligent woman, seemingly capable of seeing the future. Because of this, Princess Luofu might be eliminated from your princess selection. Of course, nothing is written in stone just yet. Anything can change for the betterment of the dynasty."
Both Princess Luofu and Princess Yue who he has yet to meet weren't his types. After all, marrying a princess meant giving up all other women. Plus, Nangong Hongyan would also come to take care of him after finding out.
'Gotta stay with the original plan and definitely can't win to become the next Divine King.' Feiyun liked his idea even more.
Alas, certain things weren't up to him.
The king's expression became serious: "There's' something you aren't aware of. There are three princes besides you in this examination. It is quite strict and requires entering several forbidden grounds. Non-royal people definitely can't enter so if you can't defeat the other three, the best outcome for you will be lifelong imprisonment. The worst case can be death."
"What…" Feiyun was cursing in his mind about this damned trap.
"In the beginning, I only picked you to be the examinee. With your talents and the fact that the other ancestors held you in high regards, it shouldn't have been hard. But now, the situation is quite complicated since it involves the competition for the crown prince position. That's why the battle tomorrow will be very dangerous. You can only afford to win." The king carefully laid out the delicate situation.
Before one knows it, there was an invisible palm pushing him forward despite his wishes.
Feiyun stayed at the king's mansion tonight for the examination tomorrow. He needed to prepare well for the harsh battle ahead.
'The entire Jin Dynasty is a chess match right now and the capital is a smaller subsection while the court is at the very center. Many people must have their own moves for this examination.' Feiyun thought he had a good grasp of the situation but there were more mists rolling in and blocking his sight. Many mysteries were waiting until he reached a certain level of power. Otherwise, he would continue to be someone else's unknowing pawn.
Tonight was a restless night. A large snowstorm descended on the capital since autumn was over and came winter. The red and green tiles were all covered by the white of snow.
"The winter here is very cold indeed. Ye Xiaoxiang got that right." Feiyun exhaled a white puff of air. He wore a pair of armored boots and made it through the snow while the winds chilled to the bones. He entered the carriage to head for the imperial palace.
The carriage moved, leaving two deep lines on the snow. The rays of dawn were approaching at this time.