The exalted envoy of the Marquisate of Stillwater?
Ji Ning, Ji Ninefire, Ji Yichuan, and the others all felt puzzlement in their hearts. Upon seeing the two massive flags aboard the giant warship, they all understood that this warship belonged to to the Northpeak clan of the Marquis of Stillwater, the clan with the most exalted power and authority in the entirety of Stillwater Commandery.
However, they had clearly made the report to the Grand Xia Dynasty, and had hoped to transfer the rights to the elemental ore mine to the Grand Xia Dynasty. It was the Celestial Envoy of the Grand Xia Dynasty which they had been awaiting this entire time. Why, then, had the envoy of the Marquis of Stillwater Commandery come?
“Come, let’s go up.” Ninefire said softly. “Right.” All of them acknowledged. Although the arrival of the envoy of the Marquisate of Stillwater was quite strange, even General Dong, the general in chage of the forces of the Grand Xia Dynasty stationed in Swallow Mountain, was standing next to the envoy like a fawning sycophant. How could the Ji clan possibly dare offend them?
“Let’s go.” A flying boat appeared out of nowhere. Ning and the others boarded the boat, then flew upwards into the sky. There, high in the sky, the heroic warriors aboard the warship stood proudly, clearly all at the Zifu Disciple level. This made the hearts of Ning and the others clench. This really was the Northmont clan of the Marquis of Stillwater, one of the eight hundred marquisdoms that had been enfeoffed after the Grand Xia Dynasty had unified the world. An ancient marquisate which had existed for countless years…any squad of warriors it casually sent out would all be at least at the Zifu Disciple level.
“Ji Ninefire, your Ji clan has had a stroke of great fortune.” General Dong snorted coldly. “The young master is right up ahead, awaiting you all. Hurry and enter.”
“Thank you, General Dong.” Ninefire said with a smile while leading Ning and the others within. The Ji clan’s forces moved across the deck of the warship, under the guidance of the armored warriors.
“How impressive.” Ning swept the area around himself slightly with his gaze, and discovered that this warship was covered with complicated runes. A powerful aura lay hidden within this warship. “This shouldn’t be a magic treasure; it should be some sort of mechanical golem-ship!”
The warship was divided into three floors. Ascending the stairs, Ning and the others moved into the main hall of the second floor. This main hall was extremely broad, and within there was a youngster in a luxurious black uniform. This black-uniformed youngster was staring through the window, hands clasped, towards the boundless mist outside. By his side, there were two maids, and an old man who was nervously standing in a corner.
“Dong Fanyu!” Ning instantly recognized this person. This was one of the Zifu Disciples of the Swallow Mountain branch of Snowdragon Mountain. Although he had never seen this man in person before, he had seen his image in intelligence reports.
“Where is Adept Xu?” Dong Fanyu, upon seeing the Ji clan enter, couldn’t help but say in astonishment, “Where are senior apprentice-brother Zidao and the others?” But no members of the Ji clan paid him any heed.
“We pay our respects to the exalted envoy,” Ninefire said, immediately bowing low, almost to the ground. Behind him, Ning and the others all bowed in respect as well.
Only now did the black-uniformed youth who had been looking through the window with clasped hands turn to them. His face was smooth and pale. A faint smile was on his face, and he looked quite amiable. Sweeping them with a glance, he said, “Arise.” Only now did the members of the Ji clan rise from their bow.
“Eh?” The black-uniformed youth frowned, then laughed, “Just your group? General Dong, didn’t you say that Snowdragon Mountain and the Ji clan were engaging in a battle here at Oxhorn Mountain?”
General Dong hurriedly said to him, “Reporting to the young master: Snowdragon Mountain did indeed have quite a few Immortal practitioners who were battling the Ji clan at Oxhorn Mountain. Didn’t Dong Fanyu also stated that even the Wanxiang Adept, Xu Li, had gone to participate? Ji Ninefire! I ask you this: Where are the forces of Snowdragon Mountain? The exalted envoy of the Marquis of Stillwater has come; how dare they not come to pay their respects?”
Ji Ninefire hurriedly said, “Reporting to the exalted envoy: The forces of Snowdragon Mountain wished to destroy my Ji clan. My Ji clan strove to battle against them, and in the end, annihilated all of the invading forces of Snowdragon Mountain.”
“Impossible!” Dong Fanyu, who had been listening nearby, bellowed out, “Adept Xu Li was a Wanxiang Adept. How could the Zifu Disciples of your Ji clan have killed Adept Xu Li? As I see it, by relying on your grand formation, you’ve separated everything within from the outside world. You knew that the young master has arrived, but Adept Xu Li and the others remain trapped within the formation and do not know of his arrival.”
The black-uniformed youngster stood there, not speaking, just watching.
Ninefire said, “Adept Xu Li truly has perished. Ji Ning.” Ninefire turned and spoke to Ning. “Take out Adept Xu Li’s magic treasure, that giant seal; let this Dong Fanyu take a look.” Ning waved his hand, and that grand seal appeared within it. It was the ‘Earth Garrison Seal’. The appearance of it alone indicated that it possessed extraordinary power.
Dong Fanyu said, astonished, “I, I’ve never seen Adept Xu Li use his grand seal, but I’ve flown atop the Adept’s flying magic treasures.”
“This should be an Earth-ranked magic treasure.” The black-uniformed youngster suddenly said. Ning waved his hand again, and a small ship appeared within his palm. Although it was within his palm, it was enough to instantly turn Dong Fanyu’s face ashen. “How can this be!”
The nearby General Dong’s pupils contracted, and then he laughed, “It seems as though this Ji clan has rather extraordinary abilities. Previously, according to Dong Fanyu’s report, Dong Ziqi, Jadechild, and nearly twenty other Zifu Disciples perished here at Oxhorn Mountain. I didn’t expect that even Adept Xu Li and the others who hastened here would all perish here as well.”
Clap! Clap! Clap! The black-uniformed youngster suddenly began to clap his hands. “I am Northmont Baiwei.” The black-uniforned youngster laughed. “I imagine all of you from the Ji clan know why I have come on this trip. I’m here for that elemental ore mine within the borders of your Ji clan’s domain. My goal is simple – I wish for your Ji clan to transfer the rights to the elemental ore mine to the Marquisate of Stillwater, and our estate will also give your clan 30%!”
Ninefire stuttered, “But, but we’ve already report this to the Grand Xia Dynasty…” “No need to worry.” The black-uniformed youngster shook his head. “The Marquisate of Stillwater arrived first. After we sign a transfer agreement, even if the Celestial Envoy of the Grand Xia Dynasty arrives, it will be to no avail. The Marquisate of Stillwater will naturally shield you in this matter.”
The members of the Ji clan all let out sighs of relief. To the Ji clan, transferring the mine to the Marquisate of Stillwater or to the Grand Xia Dynasty made no difference. Within the Stillwater Commandery…the Marquisate of Stillwater had a status that was equivalent to the Grand Xia Dynasty’s, because this land had been enfeoffed to the Marquis of Stillwater. If the Marquis of Stillwater chose to take control over certain matters, not even the Grand Xia Dynasty would find it easy to casually intervene.
“Are you willing?” Northmont Baiwei smiled. “Willing, willing!” Ninefire said hurriedly. Ning and the others didn’t speak out in opposition. “Excellent.” Baiwei smiled, then nodded. “I will order my people to go and investigate the quality of this elemental ore mine. Also; the rest of you can retire, but Ji Ning is to stay behind.”
Ji Ning was to stay behind? The Ji clan was startled. The nearby Dong Fanyu and General Dong all bowed and immediately said, “Yes,” then obediently departed. Although the Ji clan was puzzled, they still acknowledged the order and left.
“Ji Ninefire. Congratulations.” General Dong, walking atop the wide planks of the ship, said with clasped hands. “Luck, all luck.” Ninefire hurriedly laughed, but a look of surprise was on his face. “Our Ji clan didn’t make a report to the Marquisate of Stillwater. How did they manage to send someone over so quickly?”
“How should I know?” General Dong shook his head. “If I sent someone to make a report, they probably wouldn’t even have arrived at the city of Stillwater yet.” Ninefire nodded lightly.
Everyone in the Ji clan was rather worried about Ning, who had remained in the hall. Dong Fanyu, off to the side, was gnashing his teeth. Even Adept Xu Li had died. He felt completely unable to accept this.
Within the hall. Only Northmont Baiwei and Ji Ning were present, along with two maids.
“Young master, might I ask why you have asked me, Ji Ning, to stay behind?” Ning said with great courtesy. “No need to stand on ceremony.” Baiwei sat down, the pointed at a nearby black chair and said, “You can sit as well. Also, my name is Northmont Baiwei. You can just address me as Baiwei; I don’t actually have an official position.”
“Thank you, young master Baiwei.” Ning sat down. Baiwei looked towards Ning. “At eleven years of age, you slaughtered the criminal Bei Zishan, who the Raindragon Guard was pursuing. You should now be sixteen years of age. If my guess is correct, the reason why the Ji clan was able to exceed everyone’s expectations this time and cause Snowdragon Mountain to suffer major losses was because of you, Ji Ning.”
Ning was startled. This young master, Northmont Baiwei, seemed to know quite a few things. He even knew that Ning was the one who had killed Bei Zishan.
“No need to worry. I didn’t investigate you on purpose.” Baiwei smiled. “To be honest, this is the first time I’ve come out on a mission on Father’s orders. Naturally, I must be cautious when carrying out my first assignment. Although this mission is a simple one, I still did a careful investigation into your Ji clan.”
Ning was secretly startled. The Northmont clan of Stillwater was an ancient clan that had existed for as nearly as long as the Grand Xia Dynasty itself had. The descendants of a clan like this were simply extraordinary; even when serving as an envoy to a minor clan like the Ji clan, they would first investigate everything clearly. From this, one could tell how cautious they were.
“You killed Bei Zishan at age eleven, then Jadechild and Xu Li at age sixteen.” Baiwei sighed, impressed. “Even though you relied on the supporting power of a formation, I must admit that I am in admiration for your record in battle.”
“I risked my life, and luck was on my side.” Ning shook his head and sighed. “My Ji clan very nearly perished, there at Oxhorn Mountain.” When he thought back to the twists and turns of the battle on Oxhorn Mountain, Ning still felt some lingering fear.
“You had luck, but you also had strength.” Baiwei said. “A genius like will truly be stifled in a small place like Swallow Mountain. Given your talent…if you don’t have a formidable master instructing you, I fear that in the future, it will be hard for you to achieve great things. For example, if you don’t have access to some supreme training techniques, it will be hard for you to even become a Wanxiang Adept.”
Ning nodded. “I do indeed have the intention of going on a journey and also paying respects to a teacher and master, but I must wait a period of time first.” Baiwei nodded. With a wave of his hand, he produced an insignia. “If you go to the city of Stillwater, you can come seek me out.”
Ning was startled. An insignia? If he accepted it, that meant that he was accepting a favor from this person. This Northmont Baiwei had an exalted status, but he acted in a cautious manner, and treated Ning, a Zifu Disciple from an ordinary clan, with such courtesy. A person like this was worth befriending.
“Thank you, young master Baiwei.” Ning hesitated slightly, then accepted the insignia. The front side of the insignia had the characters ‘North’ and ‘Mont’, while the other side had the characters ‘Black’ and ‘Tiger’. Ning couldn’t help but mumble in a low voice, “North Mont Black Tiger?”
“That refers to my father, Northmont Blacktiger.” Baiwei smiled. Ning immediately said, “When I go to Stillwater City, I will definitely pay you a visit, young master Baiwei.”
“My subordinates will spend quite some time investigating the quality of this elemental ore mine. Let us listen to some music and wait for them.” Baiwei waved his hand lightly, and instantly, the maids appeared from behind the curtains at the sides of the hall. They were carrying musical instruments and were all extremely beautiful. Soon, music began to ring out.
At the same time, other maids delivered delicacies for them to eat. After a long period of casual conversation, Ning began to feel an increased sense of goodwill towards this Northmont Baiwei. But suddenly…
“The Raindragon Guards have a mission to capture the members of the Ji clan for interrogation. I would like to ask the master of this warship to assist me in this.” A cold, sharp voice rang out from straight ahead, echoing within the warship. Even Ning and Baiwei, who were within the main hall, could clearly hear this voice. Ning turned his head to stare out through the glass. He saw, from afar, a red-clothed youth who stood there above a red cloud. The youth was staring coldly in their direction.