Yan Dan placed both of his hands behind his back, turned his head and stared blankly through the window at the sky filled with the evening glow. There was a dazzling red glow, with passing clouds stacking densely like fish scales and stretching to the far end of the sky. Flocks of bird were seen weaving through the clouds as they made their way home. A few Sky Patrolling Eagle Guards of the Scouting Office had their bodies glinting with a faint blue glow and wheeling aloft. Bright beams were shooting out from their eyes as they ran them down in the city.
"Little guy, I, Yan Dan, own the land of Great Yan that stretches tens of thousands of miles. I rule over one hundred vassal kingdoms, more than thousands of cities, big and small, that have yet to establish their kingdom, and tens of billions of people. Under my command is a mighty army, consisting of ten million soldiers, over one hundred thousand cultivators, and more than ten thousand Human Immortals who have formed their Gold Core. I, Yan Dan, have been cultivating arduously for more than two thousand years, and my cultivation base has reached the pinnacle of Gold Core realm. With just one more step forward, I'll be able to form my Nascent Soul, and hope of immortality is right in front of my eyes."
He took a deep breath, then fixed his gaze at Wu Qi and sneered, "With such a powerful strength of my empire, with my cultivation base being so strong, what is Yan Dan afraid of?"
Wu Qi stared at Yan Dan's solemn face, looked into the eyes that were flickering and flashing. He saw a tiny thread of hesitation that lingered within them. He took a deep breath and said with a deep voice, "If your Majesty is not afraid, why are you so panicked about the death of Duke Yan Le? Great Yan Dynasty had been in peace for over two thousand years, yet the peace would not last forever. Men eat both refined and coarse grains, and that gives them emotions of happiness or anger, sadness or joy, tangled in all kinds of gratitudes or resentments. Could no one really dare to kill Duke Yan Le?"
Wu Qi continued, "In fact, it is perfectly normal for Duke Yan Le to be assassinated by someone. It might have been done by any one of the Eight Princes, or maybe, any monarch of a random vassal kingdom, or perhaps a member of the Imperial Clan, even any prestigious noble. It is also possible that Yan Buji was having an affair with the wife of an expert, which caused the expert to take revenge. Your Majesty seems very panic with regards to the death of a Duke of Imperial Clan… If that is not fear, then what it is?"
He let out a brief smile, paused for a moment and took up a wine jug placed near his feet, finishing it in one draught. A burp came out from his mouth before he continued saying, "Your Majesty has been cultivating for over two thousand years. Presumably, you must have reached the limit of Gold Core realm? A Human Immortal of Gold Core realm can only live eight hundred years. Thus, I suppose, your Majesty must have consumed countless Spirit Pills that could prolong your life, and that is why you are still alive right now. However, when Wu Qi saw your Majesty flying with a sword a few days ago, the energy ripples emanated were almost equal to the joint force of over one hundred Human Immortals of Gold Core realm."
Wu Qi took another deep breath, staring right into Yan Dan's eyes and cried out softly, "If your Majesty is not afraid of something, why is there a hesitation in your heart? The energy and cultivation base of your Majesty is comparable to the joint force of over one hundred Human Immortals. If it were for some other person, they would have long formed their Nascent Soul. If your Majesty is not afraid, and if not because your Majesty cannot slay the devil in your heart, why are you still lingering in the realm of Gold Core for so many years?"
Yan Dan, Jing Ke, Gao Jianli, and all other men drew in a sharp breath at the same time. The bones in their body were moving and grinding, their muscles were tense, together producing buzzing noises that sounded like the vibration of a zither string. A strong dark green beam shot out from Yan Dan's eyes, as he fixed his vision right into Wu Qi's face and said with a cold voice, "There is a devil in Yan Dan's heart? Why doesn't Yan Dan know this myself? I've cultivated meticulously for over two thousand years, and the reason I can't make a breakthrough in my Gold Core realm is because, because..."
His mouth remained open, but no words seemed to come out of it. Yan Dan raised his head up and looked blankly into the ceiling. He had nothing to say. A Human Immortal only possessed the life of eight hundred years. For ordinary cultivators, during these eight hundred years, they would either have their Nascent Soul formed and obtained true immortality, which was a life of three thousand years, or they would die at the end of their life, and their soul would enter the circle of reincarnation. However, no matter it was Yan Dan, Jing Ke, or Gao Jianli, the energy accumulated in their body had long reached to a level at least one hundred times stronger than ordinary Human Immortals of Gold Core realm. Their cultivation base had approached to a crazy level, yet they just could not break their Gold Core and gave birth to their Nascent Soul.
If not because they were the few most important core members of Great Yan Dynasty, which allowed them to enjoy an endless supply of Spirit Pills that could prolong their life, Yan Dan and his companions would have already turned into a pile of ashes nearly one thousand years ago. So what if they possessed the formidable energy equal to a peak Nascent Soul realm cultivator when they were still in Gold Core realm? As long as they hadn't formed their Nascent Soul, they could only live for eight hundred years, and their magical overall strength could only make them a psycho among all the Human Immortals.
Wu Qi shook his head and gave Yan Dan another look, then he turned to Jing Ke and Gao Jianli.
"The wind blows, the river freezes. The hero fords, never to return! It is so majestic, so overbearing, a mighty hero who is so brave to strike at the dragon. You can compose a song like this, can achieve a great deed like this… Both Chief General and Central-Prime-Counselor are persons of exceptional ability, wise, courageous, and determined. But still, why can't you see through the devil in your heart, why can't you take another step further? It is merely breaking your Gold Core and giving birth to your very own Nascent Soul… Why and what are you afraid of?"
Similar to Yan Dan, Gao Jianli too opened up his mouth, yet no words came out from it for a long time.
But a dazzling golden light was seen shooting out from Jing Ke's eyes. Suddenly, he let out a loud laugh into the sky and said, "You're right, little boy! In those days I was brave enough to assassinate that man with just a dagger in my hand, so what am I afraid of now? Your Majesty, is the Great Yan you owned right now the same Great Yan in those years? Today, there is a mighty army of ten million soldiers under your command. You rule over tens of billions of people, are you still afraid of that man? In those years, we could risk our life to fight for our future, let alone today. What are we afraid of? What are we afraid of?"
Gao Jianli too let out a long loud cry, as the ringing of weapon clashing could be subtly heard mingled in his cry, soaring high up into the sky. With a stern voice, he snapped, "I agreed with Jing Ke! In those years, we could risk our life for the desperate strike, let alone today, as it is not likely we are any weaker than him now. Your Majesty, don't forget this, after that man died, his followers rose in revolt and his closest friends forsake him. None of his loyal subordinates remain today. Yet for us, all our brothers are still here, and we are still bound by our code of brotherhood. As long as we stay together, why should we still be afraid of him?"
The shirt clad on Jing Ke and Gao Jianli's body broke and shattered at the same time, and large pieces of their skin were also cracking and peeling off. Vaguely underneath the old skin was a layer of new skin, fair and shimmering like jade, emitting with a strong golden glow. Indistinctly noises of cracking were also heard coming from their dantian, as waves of energy so powerful that they made one nearly suffocate were rushing out from their body, rocking and rolling wantonly within the Tower of Heroes.
Suddenly a great curtain of rays burst out from within Tower of Heroes. Countless runes, maps of arrays shot out from all directions, tightly constraining the waves of energy emanating from them inside of the tower. Although the entire inner area of the tower was now in a mess caused by the waves of energy unleashed by Jing Ke and Gao Jianli, no one outside of the tower could sense anything.
Then suddenly, Qin Wuyang and Tian Guang let out a long cry into the sky too. Both men said joyfully, "Little boy, your words have aroused us. For us, the present day is not the same as days in the past. The man in present time is not the same man in the history. We had endured a great hardship and established this magnificent foundation, and the strength of our empire is mighty. Why should we still afraid of him?"
Tian Guang drew out a blue longsword and spat out a thread of sword energy into the sky. His skin was also peeling off from his body. An enormous sword energy rushed whistling out from his dantian. The hairs on Qin Wuyang's head were standing up, as two strong beams that looked like sharp blades shot out from his eyes. A layer of halo was flickering around him. Like the other few men, he too had entered the process of breaking the Gold Core and forming his Nascent Soul.
Blankly Yan Dan stared at Wu Qi. At length, he suddenly burst into a loud laughter. "Wu Qi, oh, Wu Qi, I never thought you would be the key for us to see through the devil in our heart, the man who has helped us to break into the realm of Earth Immortals. You're right, what is Yan Dan afraid of? Am I afraid of death? In the past, I was beheaded by my own father, who placed my head on a gold-plated tray and brought in front of that man. My soul was roaring furiously in my head, but what could I do? Death came to me once, yet for these two thousand years I failed to see this. I've wasted two thousand years in cultivating meticulously."
An incredible wave of energy, much greater than Jing Ke and all the other men, was gradually emanating from within Yan Dan's body. His skin was also breaking and peeling off, exposing the new fair skin shimmering like jade. Yan Dan took a deep breath, and using a voice that sounded like indulging in a great enjoyment, he murmured, "Come, come. If you've also come to this place like Yan Dan, then let us continue the battle of destiny between us. But this time, Yan Dan will definitely behead you, place it on a tray and admire it day and night. This time, Yan Dan will not lose to you again."
"For today's Great Yan Dynasty is no longer the same Great Yan in the past. The emperor of today's Great Yan Dynasty is me, Ji Dan, but not my father. Yan Dan is accompanied by my brothers. We are bound by the code of brotherhood… I have countless members of Imperial Clans, billions of civilians, a boundless land, and millions of mighty soldiers and formidable generals. Why should Yan Dan afraid of you?"
He let out a wild laugh, then took out a Token of Eight Swallows from within his sleeve and tossed it over to Wu Qi. With a deep voice, he said, "Ma Yi, record my decree… Here, I grant Wu Qi the title of Marquis of Heavenly Fate of Tian Yun, and 130 cities in Huai Yang as his fief."
Out of nowhere, the red-faced Ma Yi, who stood over ten feet tall, came, with a solemn expression and answered Yan Dan. He then looked at Wu Qi with his eyes filled with admiration and envy. With merely a round of nonsense talk, Wu Qi had driven the few most important men of Great Yan Dynasty into breaking their Gold Core and forming their Nascent Soul, officially stepping into the realm of Earth Immortal, and even bringing himself the title of Marquis, with 130 cities as his fief. The luck of Wu Qi was so good that it simply made people feel angry.
Huai Yang was a region known for its abundance of fish and rice, one of the hubs of commerce. It was not only rich in resources, every year, the total income from the tax was also an astronomical figure. Although Wu Qi was only given 130 cities, his income from the tax could probably be equal to 1/3rd the total income from a whole province. In Great Yan Dynasty, unless a person was born in a clan with a title of nobility or from Imperial Clan, it was extremely difficult to even get the lowest title of nobility. No one could have such a heaven-defying luck as Wu Qi, who had gained himself a title of Marquis with just a few simple words.
Ma Yi fiercely glared at Wu Qi, who had his face now melting in a smile, then he narrowed his eyes.
The energy ripples emanating from Yan Dan's body became stronger and stronger, and the frequency was getting quicker as well. Forcefully, he pressed down the energy wave within the body, then beckoned at the demon bear sitting on the dirt platform and said, "Xiong Qing, from today onwards, you and your brothers will be working for Marquis Tian Yun. Be hardworking and careful in your task. You must not crave for wine, and must not hurt people without proper reason. Lastly, you must not transform into your demon form in the middle of the night and fool around in the Bear Garden of Imperial Palace. Understand?"
The tall and burly man, Xiong Qing, was struck dumb. He frowned and came beside Wu Qi with an unwilling expression, then casually cupped his fist and bowed towards Yan Dan. Yan Dan gave Wu Qi a smile, pointed his finger at Xiong Qing and said, "This fellow and his brothers are twelve demon beasts who can transform into human shape. They have tough muscles and thick skin, and should be useful for you. In future, just let him and his brothers work for you."
After transferring the ownership of Xiong Qing over to Wu Qi, Yan Dan's expression suddenly changed. Hastily, he asked Wu Qi and other men to leave this place immediately. After that, a few bright beams flashed in front of Wu Qi, as Yan Dan, Jing Ke, and all other great men turned themselves into bright beams and vanished from the scene. When a cultivator had his Gold Core broken and was forming his Nascent Soul, he would be greeted with Thunder Tribulation. Not knowing where Yan Dan and his brothers went, but supposedly, they had gone to a place with defensive arrays which had long been prepared. They were running out of time, and didn't have time to waste talking with Wu Qi again.
Wu Qi weighed the Token of Eight Swallows in his hand, and couldn't help but bring up a big smile on his face. With this token in his hand, supposedly, he could go anywhere he wanted within Ji City, right?
He then gazed at Xiong Qing, who wore an unwilling expression on his face. This fellow had another eleven brothers? And all of them were demon beasts who could transform into human form? That meant they were twelve demon bears who had formed their Gold Core! Demons, they were all real demons, and this was the first time in his life that Wu Qi saw a demon who only existed in the legends.
However, he had unintentionally offended this big bear with his earlier words. Wu Qi pondered for a brief moment, then he forcefully patted on Xiong Qing's shoulder.
"Big brother Xiong Qing, if you stick with Wu Qi, liquor will be served with big bowls, meats will come in big chunks, and we will use huge blades to kill our enemies. Wu Qi promises that you will definitely be satisfied."
He paused for a brief while, then a strange smile came over his face as he said, "And with this Token of Eight Swallows, if big brother Xiong Qing wishes to have some pleasant moments at the Bear Garden at midnight, that would be no problem at all. Wu Qi will personally clear the way for you."
Hearing what Wu Qi said, Xiong Qing who was filled with pent-up anger, immediately bloomed into a smile. He spread his arms and gave Wu Qi a big hug, continuously praising Wu Qi as his good brother.