Chapter 229: The Dust Settles
In the Thousand Hands Hall.
This was Long Sang Country’s main political hall.
It was named Thousand Hands Hall partly because the Dragon Centipede Beast had what seemed like a thousand legs and partly because anyone who worked in this hall needed to deal with so many matters that they needed to have a thousand hands to effectively resolve everything. This also indicated that being the ruler of a country was not necessarily an enjoyment but more of an inconvenience.
Lin Mengze was quite a diligent ruler. Apparently, he would wake up extremely early and would take care of business until the late hours of the evening.
How much of this was an exaggeration was unknown, but at the very least he was diligent in handling the affairs of his country.
Today was the date of Su Chen’s audience with the emperor.
Su Chen had been dragged to the imperial palace before the sun even rose to wait for the emperor to summon him.
This wait lasted a few hours.
It wasn’t until around noontime when the guard at the door stepped forwards and summoned Su Chen into the hall.
Upon entering the hall, Su Chen walked forwards until he came to a stop in the hall’s center. Finally, he had come face to face with Lin Mengze, the ruler of Long Sang Country.
Even though Lin Mengze was old, his appearance was that of a middle-aged man. A Desolate Beast Bloodline was truly powerful. Su Chen could sense the prestige and might emanating from him with just a single glance from afar. This pressure was no weaker than the pressure the Scarlet Heart exuded; actually, it was even greater. Instantly, Su Chen recognized that Lin Mengze was actually above the Scarlet Heart in terms of strength.
“Su Chen greets Your Majesty!”
At that moment, Su Chen respectfully greeted Lin Mingze.
“Please, no need to stand on ceremony,” Lin Mengze said with a slight smile. “You’re quite the intelligent youngster, aren’t you? Who would have thought that a youth was the one responsible for accomplishing such an impressive feat?”
Lin Mengze spoke in a relatively carefree manner. He did not go to great pains to speak in a majestic, solemn manner.
He continued, “However, I am more impressed with your development of the bloodline-less cultivation techniques and the fact that you did not try to keep it for yourself. It is obvious that you harbor an ambition that is sufficient to span the entire continent.”
Strictly speaking, the imperial family was also a Bloodline Nobility Clan. Su Chen’s path of cultivation would similarly threaten their status, but Lin Mengze seemed to be completely supportive of Su Chen’s path. Su Chen didn’t know if he was doing this on purpose or if he shared a similar ambition, or if he felt that a Desolate Beast Bloodline was unshakable. Since he had said as much, however, Su Chen could only respond appropriately. “Your praise is enough to make your subject blush. Actually, your subject does have some selfish motives - I want to try and save up some money. To your subject, being able to happily perform my research is good enough for me. As for what I will accomplish in the future, that is not particularly important to me.”
“Is this why you want the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain for yourself?” Lin Mengze asked.
“Yes! As long as I have a piece of territory belonging to myself, which I can use to perform my research in peace and pass it along to a few disciples, so that future generations might know who I am,” Su Chen replied.
This kind of a dream seemed simple, but the implications were quite deep and long-lasting. Even so, this was not something that crossed the Emperor’s bottom line.
Lin Mengze nodded repeatedly when he heard this. “Very well. Since that is the case, I can agree to give the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain to you. However, the portion within Empty Mountain and Liaoye Country is not something I have the final say over. Either both those countries agree to hand over the territory, or we would be going to war. And a matter like this that involves multiple kingdoms might take a long time to decide on. It will at least take a few years, if not decades, and we won’t even know if negotiations will succeed or not until the very end.”
“So that’s how it is,” Su Chen said, a crestfallen expression on his face.
When Lin Mengze saw him like this, he said, “Do you really need the entire Ten Thousand Swords Mountain?”
Su Chen replied, “I am planning on making changes to the mountain in order to suit my research needs. If I don’t have the entire mountain, there might be disputes in the future at the borders, creating more trouble.”
Su Chen’s suggestion was not without merit. In the past, the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain was unclaimed territory, so even after the borders had been decided, no one paid too much attention if someone were to trespass these boundaries from time to time.
Now that the territory was going to belong to Su Chen, it was impossible for him to allow people to come and go as they pleased into his territory. As such, if they didn’t figure out who had the rights to do what early on, it would definitely result in problems.
Lin Mingze said, “I can send people……”
However, Lin Mingze stopped himself before he had even finished that thought.
Since Su Chen had made it clear that he wanted the territory for his own purposes, stationing troops there would make it seem like Long Sang Country was being duplicitous.
Indeed, Su Chen said, “Your subject would prefer to defend it himself.”
As he spoke, he glanced at Lin Chenyuan.
Indeed, Lin Chenyuan stepped out and said, “Father, your son has an idea.”
Lin Mengze said, “Speak.”
Lin Chen said, “Su Chen performed an incredible feat by saving the Heavenly Might Battalion. Unfortunately, the Heavenly Might Battalion was dissolved as soon as they returned by my eldest brother.”
A trace of light flickered across Lin Mengze’s eyes. “Something like that happened?”
He was actually totally unaware of that situation.
Lin Chenyuan said, “Yes, the old Heavenly Might Battalion was dissolved and split up into different battalions. The new Heavenly Might Battalion was given to Hao Jiantang to command.”
Lin Mengze smacked his armrest. “Ridiculous!”
Lin Chenyuan was actually relying on this matter with Su Chen to publicly lodge a complaint. The timing was exceptional and the complaint was logical, and Su Chen was present as a firsthand witness. There was nothing anyone could say in rebuttal.
Lin Mengze cursed, “Hong Qianzhu just sat and watched him replace the former commander with his own personal assistant?”
It was obvious from his phrasing that he was incensed.
Lin Chenyuan said, “The old Heavenly Might Battalion was able to survive in Ravager territory for more than a year. All of those soldiers are experienced elites at this point, and wasting them like that would be a shame. Since my eldest brother doesn’t want them, I think that you should give them to Sir Su instead.”
Lin Mengze glanced at his son. “You’re asking me to give the old Heavenly Might Battalion to Su Chen?”
His gaze was gloomy, indicating that he didn’t like that suggestion at all.
An eight-thousand-man army was not a small force. Those were enough numbers to threaten a Demonic Emperor. It was fine to give Su Chen the territory, but if he gave Su Chen the manpower along with it, he would basically be allowing Su Chen to establish his own kingdom.
Lin Chenyuan calmly continued, “Like that, you can put him in charge of handling those locusts.”
Lin Mengze’s gaze immediately grew less harsh. “Those locusts? Oh, that is not a bad idea.”
The locusts were the Harpies invading from Liaoye Country.
Even though all the big countries had their main enemies, they still had to deal with some secondary enemies as well. The complicated borders made it impossible for them to avoid having to deal with a wide range of enemies.
Long Sang’s greatest enemies were first the Ravagers, then the Beasts. However, they also had a small problem of dealing with the Harpies that had infiltrated human territory via Liaoye Country’s borders to the southwest.
The Harpies weren’t very strong, but because they had wings, even the lowest-tier Harpies could fly. They had great mobility and were hard to kill, which was why the humans living in Long Sang Country called them locusts.
Even though they were weak locusts, a certain amount of manpower and resources were still necessary to deal with them, which was extremely vexing and annoying.
Having someone help stop up that gap was not a bad idea.
Lin Mengze glanced at Su Chen. “Su Chen, the Heavenly Might Battalion has a bond with you that was forged through a life or death situation. I will hand them over to you……”
Su Chen immediately said loudly, “Many thanks for Your Majesty’s favor. Your subject is willing to accept this condition!”
“But you must guard the airspace to the southwest tightly. I do not want to hear about any more locusts infiltrating our country and stirring up trouble.”
“I will absolutely clear up the southwestern skies for Your Majesty!” Su Chen replied with conviction.
Finally, the dust had settled. Both Su Chen and Lin Chenyuan felt their hearts ease up.
Yes, this was Su Chen’s real goal.
He chose to retreat by advancing. Using the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain, which wasn’t really even in Long Sang proper, to bargain for the Heavenly Might Battalion was an incredibly favorable exchange. As for Lin Chenyuan, he was not only able to gain favor with many of the Bloodline Nobility Clans but had also found an opportunity to tattle on Lin Wenjun and stop his momentum. He had as much reason as Su Chen to celebrate.
The battle for the throne was incredibly vicious. Anyone who lost could only resign themselves to their tragic fate.
Lin Chenyuan was acutely aware of this. He knew that he had lost the ability to back down a long time ago. All he could do was try to turn every situation possible in his favor.
This time, his victory had tipped the scales in his favor.
And quite significantly at that.
This was because he heard Lin Mengze say, “It seems as if the Crown Prince is still a bit young and impulsive, and he lacks the ability to do things smoothly. Well, I should probably transfer him from his position as the deputy commander of the Ravager Extermination Army and make him a general of the Flatwave Army to the northwest.”
Going from the deputy commander of the main military force to a general of a common militia was quite a fall. Lin Mengze was clearly demonstrating his dissatisfaction with Lin Wenjun’s actions.
This dissatisfaction stemmed not just from this one incident. After hundreds of years of constant conflict and squabbling, the Crown Prince had become an eyesore to Lin Mengze.
This was the inevitable outcome of a battle for the throne. Even Lin Mengze knew that his sons were fighting with each other.
But what of it?
This was the normal condition of every imperial household, after all!
In order for the emperor to maintain control of his throne and fairly administrate the country, he needed experience in political disputes, administrative abilities, and the foresight to be on guard against enemies. If you couldn’t do that, what right did you have to contend for the throne?
If you were wrong, you were wrong, and if you were defeated, you were defeated. There was no room for excuses.
In this instance, Lin Chenyuan was taking advantage of the opportunity to slander his older brother. Lin Mingze was very aware of this fact.
But so what?
The fact of the matter was that Lin Wenjun had made a mistake, and Lin Chenyuan had managed to effectively deal with the situation, rope in Su Chen, stabilize the country, and appease the armies. Would Lin Mengze punish Lin Chenyuan over Lin Wenjun?
Lin Mengze was very sober, but he wouldn’t change his decision because of this.
If Lin Wenjun wanted to blame someone, he could only blame himself for being defeated by his opponent.
Not taking the Crown Prince title from him was already giving him a significant opportunity.
After he received the reward, Su Chen retreated.
Lin Mengze had too many matters to take care of throughout the day. He didn’t have the free time to idly chat with Su Chen.
Su Chen walked down the steps of the main hall and followed the guards standing at the entrance to receive the sealed ribbon, stationary, and imperial seal. From this moment on, he was the owner of the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain. In addition, he had been given the responsibility to defend the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain, which was in some sense equivalent to an official title. However, he had no real authority. In addition, because the Ten Thousand Swords Mountain was in the wilderness, very few humans lived there, and there weren’t even any other officials responsible for overseeing the territory.
That would be hard to say in the future.
After taking care of this matter, Su Chen waited in Long Coiling City for more news to come his way.
Waiting for news about Lin Wenjun and the Heavenly Might Battalion.
Three days later, Su Chen received word that Lin Wenjun was stripped of his position and left the Flowing Gold Fort. Xiang Rui was released that very same day, and Shi Kaihuang was released from house arrest.
Seven days later, a group of eight thousand soldiers appeared in a small city seventy kilometers out from Long Coiling City.
Su Chen said as he looked at them with a slight smile, “Welcome back, Heavenly Might Battalion!”