Chapter 178: Negotiations
After mutually deciding on a plan with Eternal Night, Su Chen prepared to leave Sky City. Of course, before doing so, he decided to first make a stop at the country’s imperial treasure stores.
Since Eternal Night had allowed him to reap some personal benefits, it would have been impolite of him to refuse.
Su Chen didn’t place much importance on common resources, but the temptation of secret techniques, exclusive records passed down only to other Harpies, and some rare ingredients did pique Su Chen’s interests.
Unfortunately, the old coot was quite slippery, and none of the really good treasures were kept in the imperial storehouses. The Thousand Poisons Toad had left behind all kinds of precious treasures in the wake of its death, but none of them could be found in the storehouses. In the end, Su Chen only took an Imperial Feather Stone and a chunk of Darkness Prison Metal out with him.
The former had been left behind by the country’s founder, Withered Edge. Even though he was not the best ruler due to his lack of political finesse and his selfish personality, he was still strong enough to be considered a genius amongst the Harpies. He was the first Harpy legendary Arcana Master, and apparently, he had achieved a deep comprehension of Method Power.
This Imperial Feather Stone had been left behind by Withered Edge during one of his sessions of enlightenment. His comprehension of Method Power was all imbued in the stone, and those with enough affinity with it could experience a similar enlightenment for themselves.
But up until now, no one had been qualified to catch even a glimpse of Withered Edge’s comprehensions of Method Power.
On the other hand, the Darkness Prison Metal was naturally an important ingredient for the construction of Titan-class puppets. Even though it was possible to construct them without this metal, their strength would probably be inferior to those with it.
Su Chen took these two items with him and then handed Golden Blaze over to Eternal Night before preparing to return to human territory.
Most of the commotion that he had stirred up had been quelled by now. Now, it was time for him to think of a way to stop this battle.
As the earth turned, the tides of good fortune would shift unpredictably. Even Su Chen hadn’t anticipated that the situation would swing so dramatically.
Twelve days later, Su Chen arrived at the capital.
Zhu Chenhuan was already waiting for him there.
“I already know what happened,” Zhu Chenhuan said preemptively. “Are you sure that you want to do this?”
Zhu Chenhuan’s expression was relatively ugly. After all, he was the one who had come up with this idea in the first place, but now, he needed to extinguish it. Even though he was doing all this to save Zhu Xianyao, these actions still left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Su Chen wasn’t too perturbed by it. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Eternal Night’s tactics exceeded my expectations. He won this round. No matter what, Zhu Xianyao is my woman, and I’m not just going to watch her die.”
“This excuse is not going to move the leaders of the three countries. This is an incredibly important moment in history, a moment that will not take the affection between two juniors into account.”
Su Chen chuckled. “I wasn’t planning on convincing them with words anyways...... These kinds of people will never be moved by words alone.”
Within Wind Screen Palace.
Li Wuyi glanced at Su Chen, who was appropriately standing on the steps below.
“So the human race’s Worldly Sage is actually such a young man. You are truly a heaven-defying genius!”
As he spoke, his pupils contracted slightly. “Spirit Burning...... You’re actually at the Spirit Burning Realm already? Have you already reached this step of your journey?”
“Yes!” Su Chen made no attempts to hide his progress and nodded. “Would Your Majesty like the technique?”
“You’re willing to give it to me?”
“I didn’t research it to keep it a secret from the very beginning.”
“What’s the price?”
“You already know, Your Majesty.”
Li Wuyi chuckled. “How interesting. Su Chen, what do you take the country’s political affairs as? What do you think a war is? Do you really think that you can start and end one whenever you want?”
Su Chen shook his head. “I’ve never treated war as a joke, and I never once thought that I could direct a country by my whims. That’s why I am willing to pay such a price to accomplish this.”
“That’s not a high enough price, unless you are also willing to agree to not distribute this cultivation method to anyone other than us!” Li Wuyi said directly.
Even though a bloodline-less Spirit Burning Realm cultivation technique was undoubtedly precious, Su Chen’s distributing it freely would cause its value to sharply decline.
If Su Chen agreed to only give Li Wuyi the cultivation technique, then it was worth it for Li Wuyi to stop the war. However, that depended entirely on Su Chen’s stance.
Even though he had bowed his head to Eternal Night because of Zhu Xianyao, that didn’t mean that he had completely forgotten his mission or his goal. The bloodline-less cultivation techniques were still his primary focus, and he would not allow one clan to monopolize them under any circumstance. This meant that, as a principle, nobody would be able to profit off of it.
However, adapting to the situation was still acceptable.
Su Chen said, “I am willing to let Liaoye Country exclusively own it for ten years.”
“Absolutely not!” Li Wuyi immediately rejected the suggestion. “The impact of these techniques will last for generations to come, but you want to placate us with just ten years? What a joke.”
Su Chen sighed. “Your Majesty, then you should also clearly understand that this request is a selfish one if you acknowledge that this cultivation technique will have lasting effects for generations to come.”
Li Wuyi countered with, “But aren’t you asking me to stop the battle for a selfish reason as well?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. That is correct. But don’t forget that I was the one who created an opportunity for Liaoye Country to mobilize their troops in the first place.”
“So you should treasure this opportunity more.”
Su Chen cracked a smile. “I can be a little extravagant from time to time.”
Li Wuyi fell silent.
Now that the negotiations had reached this point, it was quite obvious what both parties were interested in.
Su Chen had managed to discern Li Wuyi’s attitude. He was open to the possibility of calling off the invasion, but Su Chen needed to provide the necessary incentives for him to do so.
And Li Wuyi also understood how determined Su Chen was regarding this situation.
Both parties realized this about each other and couldn’t help but break out in a smile.
This smile was a pragmatic one.
Li Wuyi abruptly said, “It’s getting late now. Sir Su is a guest, so why not stay and have a meal with us? We can talk about it over dinner.”
“Fine!” Su Chen accepted without too much formality.
The alcohol quickly began to take effect. Apart from Li Wuyi and Su Chen, Zhu Chenhuan, Wang Rang, and a few other important imperial subjects were also present.
However, Li Wuyi was obviously only interested in Su Chen.
Su Chen sat right next to him.
“Here, here, here, Sir Su. This Reflection Flying Bass was caught in April. Its flesh is the juiciest and most tender at this point in time. Please, try it and let me know what you think,” Li Wuyi said hospitably as he picked out a few pieces of fish for Su Chen.
Su Chen elegantly ate the offered fish, in his mouth and, after savoring the taste, he nodded and sighed with praise. “It virtually melts in your mouth while maintaining a wonderful flavor. Does Your Majesty have any interest in anything other than the bloodline-less techniques?”
Li Wuyi continued to introduce dishes to Su Chen. “These are the wings of the High-tier Demonic Beast Golden-Eyed Eagles. They were harvested from young eagles two years old. This single platter requires five of these eagles to make...... Well, that depends on what Sir Su is willing to sell.”
Su Chen gnawed on the eagle wings as he said, “Royal food is truly a delicacy. These wings are incomparably tender...... Has Your Majesty ever considered that, since I can create bloodline-less cultivation techniques, that I can also create techniques that can improve a bloodline’s power?”
Li Wuyi narrowed his eyes. “This is Poisonous Heavenly Centipede which has been placed in a clay pot and baked for three days. This creature has a strange poison, but it’s precisely this poison that makes it taste so good. You cannot extract the poison during the cooking process, as it won’t taste good otherwise. You should only try this one in small quantities...... Have you ever succeeded in that endeavor before?”
As Su Chen munched on the centipedes, he said, “Xianyao’s charm abilities were improved by me.”
Li Wuyi stopped introducing the various dishes displayed on the table and fell into a rare moment of silent thought.
Su Chen’s words were correct. The bloodline-less techniques might not be that useful to Li Wuyi, but a technique that could improve the power of his bloodline was much more meaningful.
Even though many nobles were unhappy with Su Chen’s efforts to create a cultivation system that was independent of bloodlines, there was no reason for them to believe that Su Chen’s system would eradicate the value of a bloodline altogether.
In the past, bloodlines had been the very foundation of human cultivation at the higher realms. Not only would they increase a cultivator’s strength, but they were also mandatory for cultivation itself. Now, even though a bloodline was no longer required to reach certain cultivation realms, that didn’t necessarily mean that bloodline-less cultivators were stronger than those with bloodlines.
So even if Su Chen’s bloodline-less cultivation techniques spread far and wide to the point where bloodlines were no longer essential, the increase in power conferred by a bloodline was still nontrivial.
However, it was precisely this decrease in relative strength between the two groups that the nobles were unable to accept.
Li Wuyi, on the other hand, wasn’t thinking about that at all.
There were many reasons for this. One was that the bloodline-less techniques couldn’t possibly entirely replace bloodline-based techniques, and Desolate Beast bloodlines were not that easy to get rid of anyway. Even if Su Chen upgraded the bloodline-less cultivation techniques to the limit, it would be difficult for his techniques to overcome the might of a Desolate Beast bloodline.
As such, his need to monopolize the bloodline-less cultivation techniques was not actually that high.
If Su Chen wanted to boost the power of the Li Clan’s Desolate Beast bloodline, however, that was much more valuable to him.
“Are you confident in your ability to do so?”
“Two years. If I can’t do it in two years, then you can send out your armies. The Harpies still won’t have recovered from the blows they’ve suffered in that period of time,” Su Chen replied.
“To what kind of level?”
“That’s hard to say. I’ve researched the Li Clan’s Bloodline before, though, so I say that I will at least raise it to the point where it’s no weaker than the bloodlines of the other seven imperial families.”
Of the seven Desolate Beast Bloodlines, the Li Clan’s bloodline was definitely the weakest in terms of combat strength.
If Su Chen was able to bring it up to par with the other bloodlines, then that was already an incredible increase.
Li Wuyi thought for a moment, and then replied, “A year.”
Su Chen frowned. “That’s not an easy matter. A year is a bit too short.”
Li Wuyi meaningfully replied, “Did you think that it would be easy for me to stop the troops from moving? Sir Su, you must know that frequently changing your national policy causes unrest.”
That was a good point. The worst kind of ruler was one who made one command today and then a conflicting one tomorrow.
Even though powerful individuals had the authority to act more peculiarly, being wishy-washy would still seriously undermine the public’s faith in them as a leader.
Li Wuyi wouldn’t have been willing to do this unless Su Chen offered him enough of an incentive.
Su Chen smiled in response. “That’s easy. You can just say that your officials have been clamoring for peace and that you have decided to follow their good advice. Won’t that be sufficient?
The emperor couldn’t just change his mind on a whim, but they could absolutely follow the advice of their advisors.
Politics was somewhat similar to a prostitute — you could dress it up and put makeup on it to turn it into anything that you wanted.
Li Wuyi smiled coldly. “Prince Su is a real talent indeed. I didn’t realize that Liaoye Country’s hundreds of officials are now under your command.”
Su Chen chuckled. “I will of course still need Your Majesty to do me the aforementioned favor.”
Li Wuyi fell silent.
After a long moment’s thought, he said, “So you’ve researched the Li Clan’s bloodline before?”
Su Chen felt his heart lurch violently at the implications.
Li Wuyi slowly enunciated, “You were the one...... who killed Li Daohong, weren’t you?”