With three beauties behind him Zhang walked toward the entrance of the Royal Academy. It was time for him to meet back up with his men waiting outside. Once they reached the entrance of the academy the group was greeted by the hundred soldiers that were left to be Zhang’s guards.
“My lord and madams.” A soldier saluted by kneeling on one knee along with the rest of the soldiers.
“At ease men.” Zhang said as he patted one soldier on the soldier.
“My lord the prince had left earlier and by the looks of it he looked somewhat unhappy. However, one of his men had left us with directions to the villa. Also we were told that the king will hold an audience with us tomorrow.” The soldier that was talking to Zhang before said.
“Alright then before we head to the villa then we have one stop we must make. Also from today onward she will be one of the madams too.” Zhang said as he held Ling’s hand.
When Zhang held her hand in front of so many people she began to blush However she did not pull her hand back from his grasp but instead held on to it even more tightly. She had lost him one time already so she was not willing to lose him again.
Since they only had so many horses Zhang decided to ride with Ling. So after he jumped onto his horse he extended his hand down toward her. Soon she was sitting in front of him and his arms were wrapped around her waist as they rode down the street.
As they rode through the streets they received many strange looks. Zhang looked like a prince on top of his horse with three out of the world beauties by hide side. Along with his one hundred guards on top of their horses.
Many gazes of envy were laid upon the group as they rode down the street. Zhang, Yuying and Ai were used to this by now but Ling was still somewhat shy. She had spent most of her time training and had never caught this much attention before.
Pretty soon they arrived in front of a large mansion with a sign with the word Wu written on it. This was the home of the minister of war. But the strange thing was there were many carriages in front of the mansion.
Zhang changed his mind about not interacting with his family or Ling’s after he saw that Huang Zu had a liking for Ling. He felt that if he did not act then maybe her family would be pressured into marrying her away to the prince against her will.
People often say serving a king was like serving a tiger. If you kept them happy you will live if they are displeased, then you might get eaten alive. So Zhang had to ensure that Ling would stay his hence the reason he paid his visit to her family home today.
He was going to use his status as the next lord of Aurora to ask for her hand in marriage. Of course as just a formality because they were already engaged.
Once everyone dismounted a servant from the mansion ran out to greet them.
“Young lady your back! The lord will be very happy to know you came home. You also brought back friends.” The servant said.
“Yes I’m home to visit father and I have good news to tell him. Also who do these carriages belong to?” Ling asked although she what had an idea of who they belonged it.
“Ah yes princes Huang Zu had come earlier looking for your father.” The servant replied.
“Is that so, lead the way I would also like to meet father also.” Ling said.
“Right away young lady.” The servant said as he led the way.
Leaving their horses outside Zhang, Yuying, Ai and the one hundred guards followed behind Ling. After a while Ling led the group to a large hall in the mansion. Outside of the hall a few dozen soldiers could be seen standing. These were most likely the guards of prince Huang Zu.
In the hall they could see Ling’s father sitting in a large chair at the very end of the hall while Huang Zu could be seen sitting in a chair to his side talking. In the middle of the hall were many boxes with extravagant gifts inside of them.
“Father I’m home.” Ling said as she entered the hall.
“Ling you came home at just the right time! I’ve come to ask your father for your hand in marriage.” Huang Zu said once he saw Ling walking into the room. However, when he saw Zhang walk in after her a slight frown could be seen on his face.
“Daddy’s little girl finally came home?” Ling’s dad said with a large grin on his face as he walked up and hugged her. As he hugged her he noticed the trio standing behind her along with the group of black armored soldiers outside.
“Are they perhaps your friends?” He asked Ling.
“Yes father.” Ling said politely.
The two of them seemed to totally ignore what Huang Zu had said.
“Hello Minister Wu, I’ve come from Aurora city and happened to meet your daughter and fell for her at first sight. So I came here today to ask for her hand in marriage.” Zhang said and with a wave of his hand many treasures appeared from out of thin air.
Once Ling’s father heard Zhang’s voice a stunned look appeared on his face. But he did not say anything about it.
“That puts me in a bad position. As you may have heard Prince Huang Zu has also wanted my daughter’s hand in marriage. But I only have one daughter. So how can I marry a daughter to both of you.” Ling’s father said.
“Simple I propose that we both compete, with each person having one chance to show amaze her and then she will pick. Once she picks of course the loser must live with the outcome. What do you say brother Huang Zu?” Zhang said.
“Amaze her?” Huang Zu asked.
“Yea you can do anything as long as it does not cause harm to someone else and at the end she will decided who amazed her the most. Of course unless you are afraid that you are up for the challenge then maybe we can pick something else to do.” Zhang replied purposely provoking Huang Zu.
Of course he knew no matter the outcome Ling would pick him. But he did not want to make an enemy out of Huang Zu. He could tell that Huang Zu was not a bad person like Jin Chang so if he didn’t have to Zhang did not wish to make more enemies. So he devised a plan to make Huang Zu give up on Ling.
“Afraid? Hmph fine I agree to the challenge.” Huang Zu replied.
“Then Minister Wu please bear witness to the outcome.” Zhang said.
“Of course.” Ling’s father said. Although he had some doubt in his mind he felt that he knew the man under the helmet that was standing in front of him. Besides the voice there was that odd sense of confidence and mannerism that reminded him of the young man who had died three years ago. And the fact that this young man came with his daughter who did not interact with anyone from the opposite sex at all after the death of that certain young man.
Although he didn’t wasn’t sure who this young man standing in front of him was he felt that if his daughter picked him then he could trust her sense of judgement.
To amaze Ling, Huang Zu who was a level 7 mage decided to use magic. With his amplitude the highest in the element of lightning Huang Zu was one of the geniuses of the kingdom.
“You all watch I’ll amaze her for sure!” He said as he walked out into the middle of the courtyard.
Once in the middle of the courtyard Huang Zu assumed a stance with both of his feet spread out and his back straight. He then made a hand sign with his hand and concentrated his essence.
Ling was also a mage of the 7th rank and he knew he had to do something over the top that she probably has never seen before to amaze her. Thus he decided to use of the secret arts he had learned from the royal family’s private collection.
It was a technique called the wild dance of the lightning dragon. Once he had enough essence in concentrated Huang Zu unleashed it all from this finger tips that he pointed toward the sky. From his fingertips multiple giant white lightning builds shot out. After shooting into the air the ten odd lightning bolts transformed into the shape of dragons.
The dragons spiraled into the air and danced about. It was a sight to behold causing many people in the city to stop what they were doing and watch. After a while the lightning dragons turned into light and scattered. The white light fell down like snow.
Yuying could be seen yawning as she watched Huang Zu’s technique. Although she was only currently at the 6th rank of cultivation she was not impressed with this technique. To her it was somewhat boorish due to the vast number of techniques she already knew. When in the Underworld she had countless supreme techniques to pick and learn from. This was sort of like child’s play to her.
Whereas Ai simply did not even pay attention. She could not be bothered with such things because personally she did not care much about cultivation. That being said her cultivation was currently at the 7th level despite her lack of interest in raising it.
As for Ling she was fairly impressed she could tell that it was a fairly high level technique that needed a lot of concentration to pull off. There aren’t many techniques like that in the Royal Academy’s technique hall for her to pick from sadly. What seemed odd to her was the lack of reaction from Yuying and Ai.
“Impress? Now seeing my awesome technique will you give up on trying to ask for Ling’s hand in marriage?” Huang Zu said with a proud grin on his face.
“After my turn we will see who is the one that is to give up.” Zhang replied with a smile. Zhang did not have any flashy moves because up until now he had relied on strengthening his body physically thus making him more of a warrior than a mage.
However, he had something that no one else had and that something was the Underworlds Heart. Which allowed him to manipulate essence in the air at will. And he had said to impress Ling which meant that anything could do the trick and not necessarily techniques.
With a wave of Zhang’s hand, a continuous stream of purple energy from the Underworld Heart shot out of his finger tips and into the sky. Once the purple energy reached into the skies black clouds began to form out of thin air. Then after a few moments it began snowing. But the snow fell down in the shape of small flowers.
Once these small flowers touched the ground they would almost instantly melt and turn into water. It was a sight to behold a vast portion of the city was affected by this.
After a while Zhang stopped the stream of purple energy and the clouds dispersed and went away. He had to constantly control the purple energy or else it would have no rain the snow flowers at all. Then in his hand Zhang formed a beautiful large crystal flower with five petals using the Underworlds Heart.
“For you.” He said as he gave the crystal flower to Ling.
If it were anyone else, it would be a simple beautiful flower however for Ling it had very significant meaning. This was not just any flower it was the flower that was called the king bloom which bloomed on apple trees.
For Zhang and Ling apple trees had a special meaning that only they knew. When they were growing up they would spend almost all of their time chatting on a branch of an apple tree in Zhang’s garden. For her this five petal king bloom meant that he did not forget about her or about their past.
Ling held the delicate looking crystal flower and stood silently without saying a word.
“So did I win? Although the snow flowers were fairly impressive but you have to admit my dance of lightning dragons was very spectacular.” Huang Zu said.
“I think we should give her some time to decide. How about you come back in a few days and then we will decide the winner.” Ling’s father said.
“I guess.” Huang Zu said and after a while departed.
After Huang Zu departed Ling’s father invited everyone to come in to the main hall and chat.
“You can take off the helmet now Zhang.” Ling’s father said.
“Uncle how did you know?” Zhang asked as he took off his helmet and stored it away.
“How wouldn’t I be able to recognize the young man that my daughter was going to marry. Boy I watched you grow up how could I not tell it was you under that helmet.” Ling’s father said with a chuckle.
“Now tell me where have you been all this time, we’ve thought you were dead for the last three years. Your parents have been very pain stricken you know.” He added.
Thus Zhang began recalling what had happened to him just like he had done with Ling. Ling’s father listened to Zhang with intrigue as the tale went on and eventually reach its conclusion.
“I’m glad that you were able to come back to us.” Ling’s father said as he got up and gave Zhang a hug. He had thought of Zhang as his son for many years and was truly happy to see that he was alive.
“As for your father I will make arrangements for you to meet. You were right to not openly meet him. In the royal court there are many people against your father and I that would use any opportunity they can to strip us of our power.” Ling’s father said.
“Uncle there was something else I wanted to talk to you about.” Zhang said.
He went on to tell Ling’s father that he wished for their family to return with him to Red Mist city. He felt that it would be many times safer than staying here. For one Red Mist city did not border the Siwang empire.
“Let’s talk to your father first and we can all decide after that. Let’s have some dinner now and then you have to return to your villa that was arranged for you as to avoid suspicion.
After dinner the trio and their guards returned to their villa while Ling stayed at her home.
“Brother that uncle seemed very friendly.” Yuying said.
“Of course he’s like a second father to me. Well he will be my father in law one day. But the point is that while growing up he had always looked after me when he was present.” Zhang said.
“Must be nice to have such loving family.” Ai said somewhat dejected. Ai still had no memories of her past and was somewhat pained seeing how kindly Ling’s father had treated them.
Seeing this Zhang put his arm around her shoulder and said “don’t worry you have us, we will be your family.”
“Now it’s time to get some sleep because we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.” He added.
Tomorrow they would have to go meet the king of the Heilong Kingdom and then secretly meet Zhang’s father so the trio had many things to do tomorrow.