Book 4, Chapter 9 – The Marquis of Stillwater
Ji Yichuan looked at his wife. “Snow, Ji Ning’s strength can be considered at the absolute top for all below the Zifu Disciple level. The Swallow Mountain region is unable to contain him any further.”
Snow nodded as well. She understood what her man was saying.
“Huh?” Ji Ning looked at his parents, somewhat puzzled.
Yichuan said, “Ji Ning, you should know about the six great powers here at Swallow Mountain.”
“I know.” Ning nodded. “Swallow Mountain has six local hegemons. They are our Ji clan, the Riverbank clan, the Kou clan, the Blackfire Cult, the Ironwood clan, and Snowdragon Mountain. Of the six hegemons, our Ji clan, the Riverbank clan, the Kou clan, and the Blackfire Cult are allies, while the Ironwood clan and the Snowdragon Mountain are allied!”
The six major hegemons of Swallow Mountain were arrayed into two alliances, and the battles between them were very fierce, with Xiantian lifeforms often dying.
Yichuan continued, “But are you aware of the reason as to why the alliance between the Ironwood clan and Snowdragon Mountain is capable of forcing us other four hegemons to ally together?”
“I am not.” Ning shook his head.
These secrets were not recorded in any books.
“The six great powers are all guarded by Zifu Disciples.” Yichuan looked at his son. “Your power is most likely already invincible against anyone below the Zifu Disciple level. In a few more years, you will most likely become a Zifu Disciple, so I must tell you these things now!”
“That Ironwood clan is not worth mentioning!” Yichuan said seriously, his eyes filled with a murderous light. “But the Snowdragon Mountain is a truly formidable enemy. They are truly frightening. In our Swallow Mountain region, Snowdragon Mountain is merely a single branch of the true Snowdragon Mountain Sect.”
“A branch?” Ning was stunned.
Of the six hegemons, Snowdragon Mountain was the most powerful force. But this Snowdragon Mountain was merely a branch?
Yichuan looked at his son and said solemnly, “The power of the Snowdragon Mountain Sect is thousands of times greater than that of Swallow Mountain’s Snowdragon Mountain Branch, and thousands of times greater than our Ji clan! This is a colossal, top-tier clan which is not inferior than your mother’s Yuchi clan!”
Yuchi Snow looked at her son as well. “The [Windwing Evasion] includes the history of my Yuchi clan. My Yuchi clan is an extremely ancient, top-tier large clan. Clans like the Ji clan…are completely incomparable to the likes of my Yuchi clan. But of course, that was all in the past.
Ning, hearing his parents speak of these things, instantly had a desire to learn more about this boundless world. The Yuchi clan, Snowdragon Mountain, and those legendary, distant top-tier clans. They were all so far away from Swallow Mountain.
“Ning, do you know how large the Grand Xia Dynasty is, exactly?” Snow looked at her son.
“I do not.” Ning shook his head.
The Grand Xia Dynasty had been founded in the Fiendgod Era, and had destroyed other ancient dynasties to unify this vast world. It had existed for trillions of years! The books which described the territory of the Grand Xia Dynasty all used the same word: Boundless!
How enormous would such a dynasty be? How deep would its roots be?
“When the Grand Xia Dynasty unified the world, it divided the world into 3600 commanderies, and also assigned 800 Marquises!” Snow said slowly. “Because the world is simply too vast, even Immortals and Fiends found it difficult to govern it. Thus, they divided it into 3600 commanderies. Amongst these 3600 commanderies, there are large ones and small ones, but even the smallest are extremely vast.”
“Swallow Mountain is under the governance of the Stillwater Commandery, which is the territory ruled over by the Marquis of Stillwater.” Snow said. “The commandery city of Stillwater is nearly a million kilometers away from us.”
“The commandery city of Stillwater? A million kilometers away from us?” Ning could completely imagine how in that distant, distant region, there was an incomparably ancient, vast, and bustling city. In that place, Immortals and Fiends congregated, their decisions impacting this entire enormous region.
Snow continued, “The commandery city of Stillwater is the seat of power for the entire Stillwater Commandery, a place where Immortals and Fiends reside. However, Stillwater Commandery is simply too vast, and there are tens of thousands of regions within it like our Swallow Mountain…thus, some of the most top tier clans, schools, and sects are all scattered throughout the area!”
“As large as that?” Ning held his breath.
“As the saying goes, the heavens are high and the ruler is far away. With the world divided into 3600 commanderies, the power of those Marquises in the territory they rule is absolutely monstrous.” Snow sighed. “The imperial city of the Grand Xia Dynasty is simply too far away. In history, there have even been some Marquises who rebelled. Those wars truly are wars where Immortals and Fiends slaughter each other and countless experts fall. Truly terrifying.”
The flaw of having an enormous territory was the difficulty one would have in governing it. Even the high and mighty Marquis of Stillwater was unable to completely govern his vast territory, and so he allowed the various tribes to slaughter and battle each other.
“After some of the Marquises revolted, the Grand Xia Dynasty, so as to better govern the various regions, began to frantically build one commandery city after another in the various commanderies, and even Swallow Mountain has over ten of these commandery cities.” Snow looked at her son. “Every single city has a matching ‘official writ’!”
“Official writ?” Ning listened carefully.
“Right. Official writ!” Snow continued. “By binding an official writ, that means you are in control of one of those commandery cities, and are in name one of the officials of the Grand Xia Dynasty. However, these official writs are ranked magic treasures, and thus only Zifu Disciples and above can bind them.”
“Swallow Mountain has ten of these commanderies within it.” Yichuan spoke out as well.
“Of the ten commandery cities, one is Swallow Mountain City, where the armies of the Grand Xia Dynasty are stationed! Of the other nine cities, our Five Prefectures of the Ji clan is in control of one, the ‘Thousand Swords City’ of our Central Prefecture.” Yichuan explained. “The Riverbank clan, Kou clan, and Ironwood clan all have one as well.”
“The Blackfire Cult has two commandery cities. Snowdragon Mountain has three commandery cities.”
“Actually, long ago, the Ji clan, the Riverbank clan, the Kou clan, the Blackfire Cult, and the Ironwood clan all were considered part of the local tribes of Swallow Mountain.” Yichuan sighed. “Afterwards, when Snowdragon Mountain acquired one of the official writs for one of the cities and got involved in this region, the Ironwood clan, the weakest of the clans, quickly threw themselves in with Snowdragon Mountain. However, we other four powers continue to resist.”
“We are all officials of the Grand Xia Dynasty, and within our own commandery cities, it is forbidden for Immortal practitioners to battle each other. To disobey this rule is to challenge the Grand Xia Dynasty, punishable by death!”
Ning, hearing his father’s explanation, couldn’t help but frown. “Father, Mother, based on what you are saying, if Immortal practitioners are forbidden from battling within the commandery cities on pain of death, would it be very hard for one tribe to try and destroy another one?”
Snow laughed coldly. “Easy! For example, Zifu Disciples have a limited lifespan. Upon death, the official writ becomes an ownerless object, at which point, the tribe will quickly collapse.”
“Also, Zifu Disciples can’t always stay within their commanderies. As long as they come out and are killed, then their official writs can be seized and their tribe will be finished.”
“And then of course, there are some utterly lawless, large, powerful clans!” Snow said. “They will send people over to your commanderyity to assassinate the Zifu Disciples of your clan and take away your official writ. What can you do about it?”
Ning was stunned. “This…”
“Without any proof, what will you do?” Snow laughed. “But of course, the mightier a power, the more cautious they will be. Challenging the laws of the Grand Xia Dynasty is a capital offense. They wouldn’t casually do such a thing, and even if they decide to, they would use some very secretive methods. All I am trying to tell you is that there are many possible ways to destroy a tribe. You might not make trouble for others, but they might for you. In the end, the most important thing is strengthening one’s self!”
“The Marquis of Stillwater controls this vast region, but aside from the armies of the Grand Xia Dynasty stationed here, there is another squad of Immortal practitioners, known as the ‘Raindragon Guards’. According to legend, only Wanxiang Adepts are allowed to join the Raindragon Guards! By relying on the Raindragon Guards, the Grand Xia Dynasty is able to better control its vast territory. Remember. The Raindragon Guards cannot be trifled with.”
“Ning, given your talent and comprehension, you would find it very easy to request tutelage under a major power. After you go out adventuring, it would be best for you to find a major school or power to take shelter under.”
Yichuan and Snow told their son many things. They knew that Ning would definitely advance onto a far greater stage, and perhaps even become a major figure in the entire Stillwater Commandery…naturally, they carefully instructed and warned him, telling him everything which they knew.
Only now did Ning truly understand how vast the world was. Only now did he know about the Raindragon Guards of the Grand Xia Dynasty, all formed from Immortal practitioners. Of the great army controlled by the Marquis of Stillwater. Of some of the top tier clans, schools, sects…and of course, many other clans that were powerful in their own localities, that had been able to control official writs for a long period of time. Below them, of course, were countless, innumerable minor tribes.
“Whew.” Ning’s heart was beginning to fill with ardor.
“Ji Ning, I will take away the corpse of Serpentwing. To outsiders, we shall simply say that I was the one to kill him.” Yichuan said. “After all, you are very young. If we were to publicize that you were the one who killed him, it will only cause endless difficulties.”
“I’ll let Father handle all of these things.” Ning said hurriedly. “Right, Father, I want to build a residence here at Serpentwing Lake. In the future, I will often live here.”
Yichuan and Snow looked around them. This area was very peaceful.
“Right. This is a good place.” Yichuan nodded. “I will arrange for some people to help you build a residence here. Your mother and I will go back now. While adventuring, come back and visit us often.”
“I will. I will go back to West Prefecture City in a few days.” Ning nodded. He was going to take a trip to the Blacktooth Tribe to bring Spring Grass’ younger brother to West Prefecture City. This was the promise he had made to Spring Grass.
“Hurry back.” Snow gently stroked her son’s head.
“Right.” Ning nodded. He understood that this trip he had made into the Aquatic Manor had caused his parents great worry.
That day, Ning led Autumn Leaf and Mowu back to the Blacktooth Tribe, mounted on their black beasts.
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