Chapter 236: Head Out
Ye Chen did not quite understand who was it that established this rule where the conflict between two nations must be resolved in the Exclusion Zone. However, since the Exclusion Zone had existed for the past ten thousand years, there must be a reason for it.
Nie Qingyun and the Eclipsing Bird that had transformed into an elderly man had been in the imperial family's side courtyard. After being summoned by Ye Chen, they hurried over.
After everything was ready, the group started out.
At the bank of the Black River, there was a dock owned by the imperial family. A gigantic tower ship was moored to the riverbank. All those who were heading to the Exclusion Zone had gathered here and they started boarding the ship.
Among those who were heading to the Exclusion Zone, other than Ye Chen, Great Emperor Mingwu, Little Wingsy, and so on, the twelve Earthly Venerable fighters under Great Emperor Mingwu were also present. There were almost no experts left in the Xiwu Empire. Under the command of Ye Chen's thoughts, the Golden Sun Condor circled in the air, following Ye Chen and the rest.
Great Emperor Mingwu had expressly put on a disguise so that he would not be recognized. Otherwise, if those courtiers found out that Great Emperor Mingwu was already heading to the Exclusion Zone along with all his Earthly Venerable experts, the entire Xiwu Empire would instantly descend into internal chaos.
Before departing, Great Emperor Mingwu had entrusted all matters to Master Apothecary Xuanyi. Considering Master Apothecary Xuanyi's position, he should be able to pacify the people.
If they could return in triumph from this battle, the Xiwu Empire would be preserved. If they lost this battle, this empire that had lasted for thousands of years would be swiftly annihilated.
The tower ship slowly left the dock, going along the current toward the North Sea.
In a small city within a county of the Nanman Kingdom.
There was a ma.s.sive river here. If one followed the river, pa.s.sing through the territories of two small nations, one would reach the North Sea. Those two small nations had already pledged allegiance to the Nanman Kingdom.
The Grandruler of Nanman, Tuoba Hongye, suddenly showed up within the city, accompanied by a large group of war generals and courtiers of the Nanman Kingdom. There were hundreds of them.
Tuoba Hongye, dressed in fine clothes, was escorted by everyone else. He was conspicuous indeed. However, even more conspicuous was a lanky elder beside Tuoba Hongye. This old man wore a tattered gray robe. He was truly skinny. His cheeks were caved in and his eyes bulged out exceptionally. Moreover, he was bald, with only a few stray hairs on his head. There was no better description for this man than comparing him to a bamboo pole. If one looked at his hands, they were as thin as a match and appeared similar to iron hooks. His arms were extremely long in the first place. In addition to his somewhat stooped posture, his dangling arms nearly reached down to his knees.
This appearance was amusing indeed. Nonetheless, none of the generals and courtiers dared to laugh. Conversely, they each looked extremely respectful.
Even Tuoba Hongye was very reverential toward this old man.
“Uncle, this time, I had no choice but to ask you to come along. I've received the latest news – a few experts had suddenly appeared in the Xiwu Empire and Dongmen Yingyang and Sikou Fengyan were both killed. I had already been unable to dispatch enough people. Furthermore, even if I send forth peak Heavenly Venerable experts, I fear that I would be unable to handle it,” Tuoba Hongye said deferentially to the old man in front of him.
This old man was Tuoba Hongye's uncle?
Whether it was those from the Xiwu Empire or the Nanman Kingdom, very few people know of this old man's existence.
“Serving our Nanman Kingdom is also a duty of mine, Tuoba Yan. These past decades, I've been in the Central Empire. To think that the Nanman Kingdom would develop to such a point under my nephew's leadership! In a few years, bringing the Tuoba Clan into the Central Empire might not be too difficult. Consider this my contribution to the Tuoba Clan. That little punk Mingwu from the Xiwu Empire wishes to contest against our Tuoba Clan. He truly doesn't know his place.” There was a sharp edge in Tuoba Yan's raspy voice, which was uncomfortable to listen to.
The group of courtiers and war generals bowed respectfully. Each of them was secretly estimating the true extent of this old man's abilities.
“Uncle, when you return to the Central Empire, I'll prepare a generous gift for you as a sign of my grat.i.tude,” Tuoba Hongye said politely.
Tuoba Yan raised an eyebrow but said nothing else. Although he had reached Mystique Venerable Rank, that did not count for much in the Central Empire. He had acted as an external elder for a sect, but his monthly salary was not much. Although the Nanman Kingdom was merely small, Tuoba Hongye was the grandruler after all. A gift from him should be pretty decent.
“Nephew, you're too kind. I'll simply do my very best.” Tuoba Yan chuckled, revealing two rows of yellow teeth.
“When Uncle returns victorious, I'll surely hold a banquet in your honor!” Tuoba Hongye laughed brightly.
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Under the escort of the courtiers, Tuoba Yan stepped onto a warship by the river. Nineteen experts were accompanying him, among whom were two Heavenly Venerable Ones and seventeen Earthly Venerable Ones.
“Father has always taught me – Lean on a hill, the hill would crumble. Lean on a man, the man would fall. In all matters, lean on yourself!” Tuoba Yue saluted with his fist as he proclaimed solemnly.
“That's right, that's the philosophy.” Tuoba Hongye narrowed his eyes. 'If they think they can simply manipulate me, Tuoba Hongye, just like a chess piece, they're underestimating me.' He continued saying, “Those major sects are able to stand proudly without collapsing because they had been managed by a few generations or even dozens of generations. Sooner or later, the Tuoba Clan will be led by you. At that time, you must lead the Tuoba Clan to great heights.”
“I shall never refuse what you entrust me with. Father, if we conquer the Xiwu Empire, make sufficient preparations, and enter the Central Empire, how should we find our footing in the Central Empire with all those sects around?” Tuoba Yue asked. Among the eastern countries, the Tuoba Clan was mighty, but in the Central Empire, it was merely an ant that any of those sects could trample.
“Well, if I explain this to you, you won't understand. The Central Empire has its own rules. In human society, there's a mysterious organization called the Tribunal Council. After entering the Central Empire, you'll surely encounter them. Still, it's too early to think of this now.” Tuoba Hongye wanted to continue but hesitated, then fell silent.
“The Tribunal Council? What kind of organization is that? And what sort of rules does the Central Empire have?” Tuoba Yue looked up at Tuoba Hongye in puzzlement, but Tuoba Hongye kept silent.
Before them, the waves of the river surged forward and died down.
The tower ship of the Xiwu Empire followed the river's flow. After a day, they finally entered a vast, boundless sea. As they looked into the distance, the sky and the sea lay together, stretching as far as the eye could see.
The seawater was pure cerulean. The sea breeze brushed by, making them feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
After entering the sea region, Little Squido appeared extra excited, dancing around with joy.
“Little Squido, do you want to play in the sea?” Little Wingsy noticed Little Squido's excitement and asked.
Little Squido beamed with its eyes and nodded incessantly. Its eight tentacles wriggled around without stopping in wave-like motions.
“Little Squido, would you go and never return?” Little Wingsy asked worriedly, his eyes br.i.m.m.i.n.g with reluctance.
Little Squido thought about it then shook its head. When it was with Ye Chen, it had Soul-ama.s.sing Pills and Soul-consolidating Pills to eat every day. If it was in the sea, it had to hunt for itself.
“Big Brother Ye Chen, ask them to slow the ship down and let Little Squido play around in the sea.” Little Wingsy saw that Little Squido had shaken its head and instantly grinned from ear to ear. He looked toward Ye Chen as he spoke.
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