“Your name is Yang Qi?” the priestess asked, her eyes glittering as she looked at him, as if she were attempting to send her gaze deep inside to examine his cultivation base and substructure.
Despite the fact that he was fully drawing on the Life-Death Void-Destruction Lightning, he could still feel her gaze piercing into him. Thankfully, his recent months of bitter cultivation, as well as the improvement in destiny of both the Land of Dreamvoid and the Sage Monarch Empire, had provided many benefits. He was now just on the verge of reaching the peak Paramount God level, making him even more impressive than before.
As a result, the priestess had no way to see his actual cultivation base. All she could perceive was an illusion.
“Yes, I'm your humble servant Yang Qi.”
“You joined the Invincible Dynasty only a few months ago, in service of Dugu Hong, is that correct? How were you able to accomplish such impressive work in the Land of Dreamvoid? Who exactly are you?”
It wasn't anything unusual for new members of the Invincible Dynasty to be questioned about their past. And that was especially true of people appointed as viceroys, who would often have to undergo thorough investigations.
“Oh exalted one, I used to be nothing but a rogue cultivator. I founded my own empire, but it was eventually attacked and destroyed by the Dragonfolk. Afterward, I went to the Bastille of the One God to try to find some sort of magical treasure that I could use to get my revenge. Unfortunately, I got sucked into a deadly spell formation, and was just about to die when Dugu Hong saved me. In my gratitude, I offered him my loyalty!”
Yang Qi was offering perfect answers that should pass any detailed inspection.
The priestess sighed. “All of that makes sense. However, I'm curious about the good fortune you came across in the Bastille of the One God. I heard you have some powerful thrall troops at your command now? It’s a bit of a surprise that you use thralls to administer your Land of Dreamvoid. They're without corruption and don’t try to embezzle funds, which makes the destiny you provide much better than anything from before. That's quite a feat. Normally speaking, puppets don't do a good job of governing countries. In contrast, bright individuals can generally bring impressive influxes of destiny. Granted, they’ll often embezzle funds and bring corruption into the destiny, but it’s par for the course. And if you want your subordinates’ cultivation bases to improve, you have to learn to deal with corruption.”
‘Is she fucking kidding me?’ Yang Qi thought. ‘She claims to be worried about the state of the nation and its people, but she’s implying that everyone has to steal destiny and resources from the country just to improve their cultivation bases. The leaders of the House of the Invincible must be worried about this kind of thing.’ Although Yang Qi wanted to say that out loud, he didn’t.
After a moment of silence, the priestess said, “Well? Are you going to show me those thralls or not?”
“Of course,” he replied. Waving his hand, he summoned a sage monarch magistrate.
The priestess’ eyes lit up as she examined the magistrate. Sending her will into his sea of consciousness, she saw the complicated functions of the heavenly workings calculations systems, which were so complex they seemed impossible to replicate.
“Incredible. This thrall is no weaker than an ancient archangel. Yet unlike the archangels, this thrall can think for itself and is clearly skilled at governing. Its mental structure is completely profound. How many of these thralls do you have?”
“I have a total of ten thousand, oh exalted one. That’s just enough to govern the Land of Dreamvoid. Unfortunately, without enough power to keep them running, they’ll collapse.”
Even as the words left his mouth, the thrall's skin started withering up, until it collapsed into a cloud of greenish dust which dissipated into nothing.
“Oh?” the priestess said, her eyes suddenly flickering with killing intent.
She knew full well that the thrall hadn’t just collapsed randomly. No, Yang Qi was toying with her. He didn’t want to give her a thrall, so he had done something to kill it.
“You killed it, didn’t you!” she said. “That thing is a national treasure! What, did you think I was going to take it away from you and study it?”
“You're very shrewd, oh exalted one,” he replied, pretending to tremble in trepidation. “But I wasn't kidding. If you don’t provide enough power to the thralls, they die.”
“Alright, stop it with the act. I know that you’re backed by Dugu Hong, who in turn has the support of an even more powerful figure. You see, you and I are actually in different factions. Dugu Hong’s faction is run by the grand exarchs. So it’s only natural that you would be suspicious of my faction, the Palace of Destiny. That said, you’re only a viceroy, so you’re nothing more than a foot soldier in the intrigue between factions. Are you aware that, given how quickly tides can shift in the Invincible Dynasty, you could be killed at any moment?”
“There’s no need to threaten me, exalted Priestess,” Yang Qi replied, being careful to be neither servile nor overbearing. “Your humble servant is indeed a viceroy of a single land. Although that doesn’t count for much, you have to admit that I'm providing a lot of destiny to the sect. Could we cut to the chase here, Priestess? Did you call me here just to threaten me? If this is supposed to be an actual trial, shouldn’t you explain all the charges against me?”
“Oh?” The priestess looked at him with a touch of surprise in her eyes. “You’ve got guts, boy. I’m honestly surprised you’d talk to me like that.”
“I wouldn’t dare be disrespectful. I'm just calling it as I see it.” Obviously, Yang Qi wasn't going to back down.
Stifling her killing intent, the priestess waved her hand and said, “In that case, you're dismissed.”
“Very well. Your humble servant takes his leave!” Turning, he left the Palace of Destiny, all the while thinking, ‘She might be a powerful person, but did she think she could get her hands on me that easily? With no offer of compensation? Never. Does she take me for a fool?’
Upon seeing Yang Qi leaving, the destinors rushed over, eyes glittering with killing intent.
“Exalted Priestess,” one said, “it was obvious you called him here to try to recruit him. How could he possibly be so stubborn as to refuse you? He should have spilled all his secrets immediately! What a malicious fellow!”
“That’s right!” another destinor said. “If we don’t go beat a bit of sense into him, he’ll never understand how mighty the Palace of Destiny is. How about I pull a few strings to make sure that he doesn’t meet his destiny quotas?”
“No, we can’t do that. If we violate sect rules so flagrantly, and he applies for an appeal, we could be investigated, and then we’d be in huge trouble. Destiny is the foundation of the country, and if we tamper with it, we could be accused of high crimes. Besides, he does have a powerful faction backing him.”
“Enough,” the priestess said, an icy smile visible on her face. “Although I was interested in recruiting the boy, I could see the glimmer of greed in his eyes. Long story short, he wanted far more than I was willing to pay. Besides, I don’t make offers to people. If he had been interested in cooperating, and had explained the secrets of his thralls, I would have paid him. But he’s obviously on guard against me. Maybe he thinks he can just defy me to earn some points from his side, staying safe all the while. If so, he’s dreaming. That said, I can't give anyone any ammunition to use against me. We have to wait until he's outside the sect before killing him. After all, viceroys die all the time. You over there, send a message to the Spritefolk to make it happen!”
“Yes ma’am,” one of the destinors said. “The Spritefolk will be part of the House of the Invincible soon. And they’re powerful enough that it shouldn't be hard at all for them to kill a viceroy. How dare that brat refuse you, Priestess. Although, he did give us quite a few perfect caliber godstones. He’s obviously very rich.”
With that, he pulled out the dimensional sack Yang Qi had given him.
However, as he did, the sack exploded and the godstones crumbled into dust!
The rest of the destinors staggered backward in shock as all of the dimensional sacks collapsed into nothing. All the while, the priestess looked on with an ashen expression.
Meanwhile, Yang Qi was back in the Land of Dreamvoid. He knew it wouldn't be long before the faction he was part of would send people to ask what had just occurred.
Sure enough, before he had been sitting around for long, Dugu Hong hurried over. Kneeling, he said, “Milord, you just went to the Palace of Destiny, right? Summoned by Priestess Dugu Wanqing? The leaders of the faction know about it, and they want to see you. What do you want to do? Should I notify the Second Devil General?”
“No, it's fine. This is a good thing.”
Yang Qi was actually pleased to hear that the grand exarch’s faction knew about his trip to the Palace of Destiny.
It seemed likely that they had informants there, otherwise how would they have known?
Yang Qi was finally starting to get an idea of how the factions worked in the court of the House of the Invincible. The number one faction was the Palace of Destiny. They were like the daoists. The second faction was that of the grand exarchs, who were like the confucians, and held a lot of power in their hands. The third faction was the army.
Those three main factions were always struggling against each other, although there was a general balance maintained. And the imperial princes and grandchildren would recruit members of the three factions to work for them for various reasons.
Yang Qi was part of the grand exarchs’ faction, so there was no way that the priestess expected him to actually accept her offer. If he had, he would have been considered a traitor to the grand exarchs’ faction. Even Dugu Hong would have been dragged into it. And considering he had refused her offer, he had gained some favor with the leaders of his own faction, who were now summoning him for a debriefing.
“Let’s go see what the leaders of this faction are like, and how they’ll reward me.” With that, Yang Qi left with Dugu Hong.Previous Chapter Next Chapter