Chapter 261: The North
With dozens of reports and urgent calls for aid being sent from the empire’s northern region, Zhang had decided to personally investigate and uncover what was happening.
At first, he had wanted to dispatch a team of full saints to fulfill the task, however after a moment’s thought, he decided against it.
The thought of sending his subordinates to face an unknown entity before the imminent arrival of powerful enemies was somewhat foolish in Zhang’s mind.
If these subordinates were to end up in an unfortunate predicament and lose their lives, the Aurora Empire’s overall strength would decrease and that was not something that Zhang wanted to occur.
There was also the fact that as a half-deity, Zhang would be able to figure out what was occurring at the northern frontier much quicker than any of his subordinate can, the chances of something going amiss would also greatly decrease.
“Shall we depart?” Zhang said in a courteous manner while looking toward his wives with a gentle smile.
“We shall.” Yuying said with a slight giggle as she caressed Zhang’s arm.
“Let’s go!” Ai yelled in an energetic tone, as she hooked onto Zhang’s other arm. Having been cooped up in the imperial city for some time after completing the massive array that encompassed the Aurora Empire, Ai was brimming with energy.
“Sis, it looks like that may have forgotten the reason for this trip.” Lingqi whispered to Ling.
“It seems so.” Ling replied as she and Lingqi followed closely behind Zhang and the other beauties.
While it is without a doubt that Zhang and the beauties were not pleased with what was currently occurring at the empire’s northern frontier, they were of course not going to let such things boggle down their thoughts and cause their emotions to sour. After witnessing death and despair so often, the group had long since learned that it is best to not dwell on such things and always view life with a brighter and more refreshing air.
Before long the group had entered one of the Aurora Empire’s many teleportation arrays and with a bright flash of light disappeared without leaving a single trace.
Elsewhere, a few minutes prior to when Zhang and his wives entered the teleportation array, in the far reaches of the Aurora Empire, within a midsized city, a large group of well-built men clad in armor could be seen standing in front of a large magnificent looking building that greatly contrasted with the rest of the buildings around it.
From a single glance, one could tell that this large building, currently surrounded by soldiers had only recently been constructed and from its solid iron gates to the numerous guard towers encircling it, the importance this compound held within the city.
Within this magnificent building with high ceilings and marble floors, were a series of large pillars engraved with countless runes.
Standing around these large pillars were various men and women all dressed in finely sewn robes and dresses, stitched with golden thread and laced with materials gathered from various demonic beasts that dwelled within the nearby area.
Besides their exquisite clothing, this group of people all gave off a noble aura that only those whoever had a high-class upbringing possessed. But of all the people amongst this group, there were a few select individuals who obviously stood above everyone else.
“Brother Ren, why do you look so nervous today.” An elderly man with a long scar running down across his left eyelid, garbed silver robes said while looking at another elderly aged who had a long scar running across the side of his left cheek, making it appear as if half of his face was stuck in a perpetual smile.
From a single look, anyone would be able to tell that these two elderly men were veterans who have been a part of hundreds of battles. Men who have lived most of their lives embroiled within war and slaughter, men who have spent years treading across battlefields.
“Uncle Ni, not all of us are as daring as you. Right, Uncle Ren?” A young man dressed in simple white silk robes said with a chuckle.
“Hah, the boy is right, not all of us have nerves of steel like you, Old Ni.” The elderly man with the scar on his cheek who was referred to as Uncle Ren added with a chuckle.
“How have things been? Have any of those old bags of bones been giving you trouble after you succeeded your father’s domain?” The elderly man who was called Uncle Ni said while looking at the young man dressed in white silk robes.
“If anyone is giving you problems after your succession, Little Hang Yu, just tell your uncles and we will give them a proper beating for you.” Uncle Ren said with a laugh as the hint of nervousness on his face faded away.
“There isn't a need to worry about me, Uncle Ren and Uncle Ni, most of the elders within the clan have been very cooperative and helpful after I've taken over my father’s mantle. If it were not for what is currently happening, I wouldn’t have a thing to worry about.” Hang Yu said with a sigh.
“Hopefully the people that the imperial capital is sending over will be able to bring peace and tranquility back to our lands.” Uncle Ren said with a long sigh, as everyone else within the large room stared at the massive array of pillars in front of them.
“Lord Ren, Lord Ni and Lord Hang, as the rulers of the three largest provinces within the empire’s northern domain, do any of the three of you happen to know who is being sent here? Will soldiers from the Imperial army come to help increase security in our lands? Also has there been any word on my request to have myself and my family to be temporarily transferred to the capital been approved?” A chubby middle-aged man in velvet robes said with a slightly curious and eager look on his face.
“Lord Pao, I am not sure exactly who nor how many people the emperor has arranged to come investigate what is happening and while it is not my place to question you nor your actions, but do you really think your request to be relocated to the capital will really approved?” Uncle Ni said with a look of disapproval.
“While the empire hasn't been established for long and my interactions with the emperor have been shallow to none, it is obvious from the policies that have been implemented that our emperor is one who places high value within the common folk. Do you truly believe you'll be granted approval to basically abandon the people within your domain?” Uncle Ni added, causing Lord Pao’s face to become flustered and his palms to become sweaty.
“What brother Ni said is right, Lord Pao, I highly doubt your request will be approved. On top of things, I believe we should all prepare for the worst. We may end up being reprimanded by the emperor for allowing things to get to such an extent before making the proper reports.” Uncle Ren said with a sigh.
“Reprimanded? Bu-but we sent in reports as soon as we were alerted of what was occurring.” Lord Pao said in a hurried tone.
“Still, the residents of a total of ten villages and four mid-sized towns have all been turned into dried up corpses within our lands, do you think we will be able to escape responsibility?” Hang Yu said while looking at Lord Pao.
“Although I'm quite confident that none of us will be stripped of our titles nor face the possibility of being executed, I do not think that we will come out of this unscathed.” Uncle Ni said as his gaze shifted across the room, while everyone else slowly nodded in agreement.
“Is there anything we should do? I heard the crown prince was a womanizer, should we prepare a few little beauties for him?” One of the lords of the northern region asked.
“It seems you've yet catch sight of his highness’s madams. If you had then you wouldn't have made such a suggestion.” Another lord chuckled at the thought of finding women comparable to the beauties within the northern region.
“How about we each pitch in and offer up a few treasures to his highness. I heard he wasn't one to shy from material wealth.” Another lord suggested.
“If the crown prince was capable enough to slay that bastard Lui Bang with little to no effort, do you think there is anything we can offer him that he can't obtain on his own? Rather than trying to get the crown prince on our side, we should try to make more ties to the lords of the southern domain, mainly the Duke of the South.” Someone else said just before the array of stone pillars in front of ten began to light up.
An instant later light filled the room as the teleportation array was activated.
Moments later, a group consisting of four beautiful women and a familiar looking young man could be seen standing within the center of the large teleportation array.
“Speak of the devil…” Uncle Ren thought before being the first to walk toward the center of the teleportation array.
“Old Ren of the Black Iron Province greets his highness.” Uncle Ren said with a slight bow while clasping his hands together in a soft voice that could barely be heard by the other lords and madams in the room.
Jian Wei had excused most of the people present from being forced to bow to those of the same rank or higher. By doing this, Jian Wei had preserved a bit of the prestige that these former regents had once held and by doing so he would ensure that none of them felt that they were being looked down upon. Although the Warring States Region was now united under a single banner, there was still the possibility of civil war if the lords of the various regions were treated too harshly.
“Lord Ren, no need to be so polite.” Zhang said in a kind tone with a smile spread across his face.
As a single moment past, a small number of high-ranking lords and madams within the room began to crowd around Zhang and the four beauties, hoping to be acquainted with the empire’s crowned prince.
Since the Aurora Empire was still in its early stages of development, for officials and lords who did not reside within the empire’s central region where most of the government resided, making connections was an essential task. For instance, if a lord was closely affiliated with Zhang, the chances of another lord seeking to cause them trouble would greatly decrease.
Although it was not something that Zhang nor Jian Wei desired, in the end the entire empire would certainly be broken up into various fractions, since the weak tend to seek shelter under the wings of the strong and the strong tend to seek more power by assimilating the strength of the weak. It is a common occurrence in most kingdoms and empires for officials who are unaffiliated with any faction or group to be preyed upon. This is how politics usually worked within the various kingdoms, empires and forces and was unavoidable as it is due to human nature to flock together.
While many of the high-ranking lords and their affiliates sought favor from Zhang, there were also many lower ranked officials who have never gotten the opportunity to even catch a glimpse of their crowned prince or any of the empire’s princesses and thus for a second all they could do was stare blankly and wonder about the identity of this young man standing before them. Of course, it did not take long for them to realize Zhang’s identity after getting a few good looks at the beauties and putting one thing together with another.
“Your highness, for you to personally come to our aid, puts this old man’s heart at ease.” Uncle Ni said with a smile. As the empire’s strongest man, Uncle Ni felt that if Zhang could not deal with the problem that the northern region was facing, no one can and thus he felt very relieved.
“It is my duty to ensure peace across the empire.” Zhang said with a smile.
After an exchange of introductions and some small talk, Zhang and his wives were lead outside where hundreds of soldiers would escort them to the provincial lord’s mansion.
“If your Lordships could enlighten me with regards to what is happening. Although I've been briefed on the matter, I think it would be best if you could give me a full account of what has occurred so far.” Zhang said as he sat within a large and beautifully decorated carriage while his wives sat quietly beside him.
Upon hearing what Zhang said, all of the lords within the carriage instantly froze in place. Fearing that Zhang was going to reprimand or punish them, none of the lords uttered a single word as they glanced at one another while cold sweat began to condense on their brows.