A deep, muffled noise rang out, as the front gate of Meng Fortress opened up. Wu Qi brought a troop of ten thousand soldiers, each clad in a dark-green armor and a blood-red cape draped over their shoulders, a helmet decorated with blood-red goose feathers mounted on their heads. They walked slowly out from behind the gate. Their armors were clean and glossy like a mirror, and they lined up in a formation of welcoming the guest.
Then, the beating of drums echoed out, and the music was played. Behind the formation, Yan Dan came out slowly from the fortress, sitting on a chariot.
On a mountain outside the fortress, countless grasses and trees suddenly swayed without any wind blowing by, producing a loud rustling that made the ground vibrate. Amidst the bushes of dense tall grass, countless tiny wild flowers suddenly made their appearance, then quickly bloomed into numerous colorful flowers. The splendid ocean of flowers stretched from the mountain and straight to the front gate of Meng Fortress. Strong natural energies were emanating from these insignificant wild flowers, and their density could even be comparable to the energies emanated from those spirit herbs that had grown for over a few hundred years.
Vaguely, in the midst of those grasses and trees that swayed without any wind, one could see numerous incorporeal figures of mountain ghosts and stray deities. These ghosts and deities did not have a clear visage. Their clothing was ancient, and judging from the energy ripples radiating from them, the weakest among them was equal to a Gold Core cultivator. There were a few ghosts and deities who were clad in very ancient long robes, with a tall crown mounted before their brows, and their visages were clear like living humans. The energy ripples radiating from them had reached the level of the five demon kings.
However, as these mountain ghosts and stray deities were beings of pure Yin, they were suppressed and restricted by the upright force of the Heaven and Earth at all times. Although the energy ripples radiated from them reached the realm of Nascent Divinity, the true overall strength they could bring into play was much weaker than the five demon kings. Nevertheless, they came in a great number, and just with one look one could estimate a number of at least several hundreds of thousands, while there were about one hundred Nascent Divinity realm ghosts and deities hiding among them.
Although because of the restriction imposed by the Heaven and Earth, the overall strength of these ghosts and deities were greatly repressed, when a group of nearly one hundred ghosts and deities emanating pressures of Nascent Divinity realm made their appearance, they still made Yan Dan's expression turn stiff.
There was a bright green gleam that shone from Wu Qi's eyes as he looked greedily at these mountain ghosts and stray deities. These ghosts and deities had the bodies of Yin Deity, with highly concentrated Yin energy. If he could capture them alive, then refine them with the Divine Flame of Order, they could become a great nourishment to his Nascent Divinity, the best tonic for any cultivator. And the best of all, although these ghosts and deities were emanating very frightful energy ripples, their actual overall strength was one realm lower than their current realm. If he really wished to do it, he could easily catch himself some Nascent Soul ghosts and deities.
The soul and Nascent Divinity, both were the foundation of a cultivator's life. It would be a great fortune if one could strengthen them just by a little bit. When there were so many mountain ghosts and stay deities that suddenly appeared right before Wu Qi's eyes, it was no different from putting a plate full of all-nourishing pills right within his reach. Wu Qi had already been brewing something in his mind, pondering on how he could capture a few of them secretly.
A chilly wind blew by, rolling across the surface of the ground and caressing everyone's feet. Then suddenly, all ghosts and deities cupped their fists and bowed at Yan Dan, while crying out together, "We, the stray ghosts of the barren mountains, offer greetings, Your Majesty, the Emperor of Great Yan Dynasty. We pray that Great Yan Dynasty can last an endless age!"
A loud boom rang out. A tall mountain in a far distance suddenly crumbled and collapsed. Then, an enormous serpent, having an incredible thick body that was about one mile wide, slithered slowly out from the collapsing mountain. It was an absurdly huge serpent, fully covered in pale-golden scales, with two horns mounted on its head and a mouthful of sharp teeth. When it erected its upper body up in the air, it stood nearly eighty miles into the sky. With just a wiggle of its body, the massive serpent head had arrived before the front gate of Meng Fortress.
Slowly, the giant serpent lowered its body, laying straight on the ground. Just with the body that was exposed from under the crumbling mountain, it had stretched for a shocking eighty miles, and only goodness knew how long was the lower part of its body, which was still hiding underground. Nevertheless, no one was concerned about the exact length of this giant serpent, as just this part of body exposed before everyone had already struck great terror to most of the captains and soldiers in Meng Fortress.
Ringing of weapon clashing echoed out from among the parade of welcoming, as some soldiers had their weapons dropped to the ground. Maintaining his composure, Wu Qi looked over his shoulder at the captains and soldiers, who were now shivering with fear. Quickly, these soldiers picked up their weapons, trying their best in gathering up their courage and make their legs stop trembling.
"The descendant of Bashe!" Wu Qi rested his eyes on this giant serpent, then nodded his head silently. Bashe, according to the legend, was the largest serpent under the heaven. This Bashe here was better to be addressed as a flood dragon, as it had already given birth to two horns, and that made it a part of flood dragon clan. Judging from its enormous stature, it must have possessed an incredible body strength. When faced with this giant serpent, even Fan Yuqi and Jin Jia, who always crushed their opponents with pure muscle strength, were no different than an ant before an elephant.
On top of the head of this giant serpent stood a middle-aged man. He wore a tall crown and was clad a long robe. He had a handsome and delicate visage. No energy ripples could be sensed leaking from this man, and he looked no different from a simple man living in the neighborhood. Firmly and steadily, he stood on the head of the giant serpent, uttering no words as he rested his eyes on Yan Dan, who sat solemnly on the chariot.
Yan Dan too returned a glance at the middle-aged man. After a full fifteen minutes, he nodded and said, "The Emperor of Great Chu, Qu Ping?"
Qu Ping smiled and said, "Qu Ping of Great Chu offers greetings, Your Majesty Yan Dan." He sprung and landed lightly on the ground. He gently patted on the head of the giant serpent, and then walked before Yan Dan's chariot, nodded and said, "Qu Ping comes with a genuine intention to seek an alliance between us, the Great Chu, and Great Yan. Let us help each other and gain mutual benefits, as only then we can continue our survival in this world."
Yan Dan gave Qu Ping a deep look. After a moment of silence, he let out a light laugh and said, "Why Great Yan but not other dynasties?"
Qu Ping smiled and replied, "Do we need more reasons? The great Chu is located at the southernmost of the world, while Great Yan thrives in the northernmost land. There is a saying that we should befriend the distant enemy while attacking the enemy near home. If you and I can form an alliance, it is a good deed that can only bring mutual benefits, as there is no conflict of interest between our dynasties."
Yan Dan came off the chariot and offered Qu Ping a salute.
Qu Ping too returned a salute. After that, both men held each other's hands and boarded the chariot. Then, the beating of drums and music were played, as Wu Qi led the troop of soldiers and escorted the chariot into Meng Fortress. Riding on a horse, Wu Qi followed behind the chariot as he rested his eyes on Qu Ping stealthily, who wore a benevolent expression and a smile on his face, and looked just like an ordinary middle-aged adult. Wu Qi's eyes were filled with looks of curiosity, excitement, and a slight complex emotion that he himself could not explain.
Yan Dan, Ying Zheng, Xiang Yu, and many of their comrades were heroes, the peerless and mighty overlords. But for Wu Qi, they were just names that he learned in the history book. Although they left a profound impression in his memory, he actually did not have too much of emotion attached to them. But Qu Ping, the Left Minister of Chu State, had left behind an influence that affected even the people of modern age. Among all the heroes during the Warring State period, he was the only one who all the people still remembered, even after several thousands of years. And because of him, there was a traditional event which all the people would celebrate each year.
Regardless it was Ying Zheng or Xiang Yu, their political and military achievements were excellent. But to have one's influence continue for several thousands of years, Qu Ping, the Left Minister of Chu State, was the only person who had ever achieved that. Therefore, when faced with a legendary man such as him, how could Wu Qi not be curious, not to give him a few more glances? And out of his occupational custom, he even exercised the Mystic Eyes of Universe, stealthily running his eyes over at Qu Ping's rather ordinary looking clothes. The result? Although Qu Ping's long robe, tall crown, rings and many other ornaments looked primitive, crude, and did not shine brilliantly, they were, in fact, some extraordinary treasures. Each of them contained numerous restrictive spells and defensive formations.
"Everything is precious!" Wu Qi silently sighed with emotion. It was understandable that Qu Ping wore so many magical treasures, as he deserved that with his prestigious status. However, through his Mystic Eyes of Universe, Wu Qi discovered something that startled him. There was a vague figure, who stood about one thousand feet tall, hovering right behind Qu Ping's back, and kept absorbing the faith power that was lingering in the air!
"This... this is the Primordial Dao of Divinity! The Dao used by those formidable living things to transcend into Gods during the primordial time!" Wu Qi's heart thumped when he saw the lofty figure behind Qu Ping's back. It was no wonder that every time Qu Ping struck, the power he brought out was not something that was supposed to be possessed by a Nascent Divinity cultivator. Most likely, he was cultivating primarily with the Primordial Dao of Divinity, and was able to borrow the faith power from the ordinary civilians, bringing together the faith power from countless common people and turn it into his own divine power. Judging from the size of this Prime Divine Soul behind Qu Ping's back, he could amplify his own Dharmic powers to at least ten times stronger!
Qu Ping was a formidable cultivator who had formed his Nascent Divinity, and with the ability to amplify his power ten times stronger, it gave him a frightening overall strength that only a true Heaven Immortal could have.
"What an absurdly strong monster! But, as he has enjoyed several thousands of years of praying and offering back on the earth, all that faith power gathered together is more than enough to push him to his current overall strength. Furthermore, he is currently enjoying the faith power that comes from all the people of Great Chu!"
With his mind filled and tumbling with all kinds of thoughts, Wu Qi followed Yan Dan and Qu Ping back into Meng Fortress, to the Mayor Mansion located right in the heart of the fortress.
Hand in hand, Yan Dan and Qu Ping walked into the main hall of the Mayor Mansion, while all Great Yan Dynasty's ministers and generals waited quietly outside the hall. Everyone could hear the intense discussion between Yan Dan and Qu Ping coming out from the hall, yet none of them could understand what they were talking about. Yan Dan and Qu Ping had exercised a divine ability which had disturbed their voice and words. Only both of them could understand each other's words, and what interests they had offered to exchange.
For one whole day and night, Yan Dan and Qu Ping sat right in the main hall, engaging each other in a fierce and intense discussion. In the meanwhile, Wu Qi and all the other people were standing outside the hall, looking at both men making lively gestures while talking for a full twenty-four hours.
Eventually, both men threw their heads back and gave out a loud laugh together. Yan Dan summoned Han Fei and Su Qin into the hall, then he and Qu Ping personally drafted two exact copies of official documents to form an alliance, branding with their palms and imperial seals. After that, both men swore an oath to the Heaven and Earth with their Prime Nascent Divinity.
From today onwards, the alliance of brotherhood between Great Yan and Great Chu was established. Yan Dan and Qu Ping did not announce the exact terms of exchange for the alliance, but just told everyone that from now on, no one from both dynasties was permitted to battle each other. Those who dared to stir up a conflict between the two dynasties would be slaughtered.
Yan Dan would send ten daughters, one hundred granddaughters, and one thousand great-granddaughters to Great Chu Dynasty. These unmarried princesses of the imperial clan would be married to the princes from Great Chu's imperial clan. Meanwhile, Qu Ping would also send ten daughters, one hundred granddaughters, and one thousand great-granddaughters to Great Yan, marrying them to the princes of Great Yan Dynasty. Both men also came to a deal that among their daughters, one of them would be married to each other's crown prince, and become the crown princess of the dynasty.
The paper used to draft the alliance document stretched thirty-six feet long, filled with over two hundred thousand tiny characters, and only then could include all the terms and conditions concerning the alliance of the two dynasties. When the alliance document was presented to the ministers and generals of Great Yan Dynasty, some were masked with restrictive spells, and no one could see what kind of secrets were hiding behind them. Obviously, these terms and conditions were related to the core secrets of both dynasties, not something a random minister could know about.
After the alliance was established, Qu Ping did not stay for any longer. He rose to his feet and left straightaway. He did not mention Xiang Yu, nor the affair between Wu Qi and Yuji.
Wu Qi breathed out a sigh of relief. Since both dynasties had formed an alliance, then supposedly, Xiang Yu would not come giving him trouble again, right?
 Bashe - A python-like Chinese mythological giant snake that ate elephants. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashe) Bashe - A python-like Chinese mythological giant snake that ate elephants. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashe)