Chapter 723: A Narrow Escape Through The Northern Gates
The wandering cultivators around them shifted in surprise. House Wei was truly one of the greater factions in Veluriyam Capital. Although not a personal faction of one of the emperors, nor one of the most preeminent powers, it was nevertheless still a first rate power. It was one that stood out even amongst other first rate powers. Everyone knew that seven Titled Great Emperors stood at the peak of Veluriyam Capital. These were powers that stood far above all others. Beneath them were twenty eight great clans. These twenty eight great clans were the twenty eight most preeminent powers. Below these twenty eight great clans were the noble houses, among which was House Wei.
While it seemed on the surface that these noble houses came third in the power structure, factions like these were undoubtedly first-rate influences in Veluriyam Capital. These factions had the right to speak even in front of the seven emperors.
The wandering cultivators started whispering amongst themselves.
“That's House Wei! House Wei, that's not a small, ordinary faction.”
“Things are getting interesting now. It’s not hard to understand that a power like House Wei wouldn’t be happy about submitting to questioning.”
“Right. They'd have to lower their heads and submit if this was Eternal Celestial Capital territory. However, we're at Veluriyam Capital’s doorstep at the moment. To make them willingly submit to questioning, this is truly...”
“Exactly. The preeminent factions of the Veluriyam Capital are all very touchy about their dignity. To make them submit to questioning would be a slap in the face. It's hard to fault their dissatisfaction.”
“Let's keep watching, it seems a good show’s about to unfold!” The wandering cultivators chatted amongst themselves. They didn't take any great pains to avoid being overheard. They hadn’t said anything particularly biased, so they weren't afraid of offending any of the parties involved.
With someone playing the part of the villain, there would naturally be someone to play the part of the hero. The young master of House Wei walked forward, his strides calm and leisurely. He cupped his fists in a salute to Holy King Mu, “Holy King Mu, I am Wei Jie.”
Holy King Mu clasped his hands in response, careful to be respectful. “So it turns out to be the young master of House Wei from Veluriyam Capital.”
As an aristocratic family of the Capital, their name travelled far, enough to reach Holy King Mu's ears. It might not be a faction he had to avoid offending, but if he did have a falling out with them, their words could potentially sway the decision of one of the emperors. If they went so far as to complain to the emperor, they might actually put the Eternal Celestial Capital on the defensive.
“Holy King Mu, in the grand scheme of things, one could make the argument that you’re my senior. If I were an insignificant child with no fame to his name, then of course it would be of no matter if I had to submit to questioning. However, here, this young one represents his entire house and the dignity of Veluriyam Capital. I would be the first to find such questioning unacceptable, much less everyone else in this world. If anyone was to say that my House Wei fears your Eternal Celestial Capital, or further, that my Veluriyam Capital fears your Eternal Celestial Capital, it would be impossible to prevent these words from spreading.” Wei Jie's words seemed very peaceful on the surface, but there was no mistaking the underlying tone. An interrogation was out of the question. To be questioned was to be slapped on the face. That was something impossible to accept, whether for House Wei or for Veluriyam Capital. An ordinary faction wouldn't even have the gall to say they represented Veluriyam Capital, yet a family like House Wei was entirely entitled to do so. No one would think they weren’t qualified to say such words.
Holy King Mu found himself in a quandary. House Wei was being very assertive, and they were a faction he couldn't afford to fall out with.
He would never have wasted so many words for an ordinary faction. You can't accept this? Don't even think about passing through then. If you want to pass through, then you need to submit to an interrogation. He wouldn’t even shy away from using force if push came to shove. But he truly couldn't afford to take a hard line against a faction like House Wei.
“Wise nephew Wei, since you recognize me as a senior, then please extend me some face. I will personally conduct a questioning, simply symbolic in nature, and we can all go on our way. I will certainly offer my heartfelt thanks after that.” Holy King Mu still wanted to try and convince him.
Wei Jie smiled faintly. “Holy King Mu, you still haven't understood me. Gratitude isn't something my House Wei is short of. What I want right now is to pass through the city gates in broad daylight with every part of my dignity intact. Naturally, I would cooperate if we were in your domain. However, we're on Veluriyam Capital's doorstep. Even if you were to offer a hundred thanks, I would still categorically refuse to lose my honor at the entrance to my home.”
House Wei's words were reasonable and well-founded, and he’d said them loud and clear. Holy King Mu was at a loss. He threw a charged glance at their group, “Worthy nephew Wei, it's possible for you yourself to pass through without questioning, but the others...”
“The same goes for the others. Since they travel together with me, then they're all old friends and brothers of House Wei. There's no difference between them being interrogated and House Wei being interrogated.” Wei Jie had no thought of yielding a single step.
Holy King Mu frowned. “Worthy nephew Wei, you're putting me in a difficult spot.”
Lord Seven smiled faintly off on the side, “Do what you need to do. If you're going to use force, we will respond in kind.”
They wouldn’t win if it came to a fight, but Lord Seven didn’t seem to believe that at all. Holy King Mu nearly lost his temper at Lord Seven’s words. His jaw tightened in anger, but he still kept his emotions in check. He kept admonishing himself, don't lash out, don't lash out. Things would erupt into a major event if he were to give vent to his anger.
“Ah well. I will give some face to House Wei. However, I have a single request. Since these people are old friends of worthy nephew Wei, there's no harm in introducing them to me so that I may be acquainted with them as well, is there?” Using their treasure to interrogate the group was out of the question, but asking their identities should still be permissible, yes?
Wei Jie beckoned with his hand with a laugh. “Come then, each of you introduce yourselves to Holy King Mu.”
Lord Seven was the first to step forward. “Wei Qixia, servant of House Wei for forty years. Holy King Mu, I wonder if I may pass through?”
The other warriors also stepped forward one by one and gave their names. Holy King Mu watched them go past one by one with a sour face, no expression showing on his face. Jiang Chen was the last. Secretly taking a deep breath, he said when his turn came, “Second level pill king, Zhen Shi, a guest of House Wei.”
His words were neither fast nor hurried, and his bearing was calm and indifferent. He introduced himself and was about to leave when Holy King Mu gestured with his hand, “Hold.”
Holy King Mu stared at Jiang Chen, speaking to Wei Jie, “Worthy nephew Wei, this isn’t this friend's true appearance, am I correct? I wonder whether he can reveal his genuine self?”
Wei Jie responded indifferently, “Holy King Mu, even my father has to give some respect to this venerable pill king. If you were to interrogate him, then the consequences would be far more dire than interrogating me.”
Holy King Mu’s cold eyes at Jiang Chen. “This person is suspicious.”
“Suspicious in what way?” Wei Jie said, his face the picture of indifference, “Is he suspicious merely because he’s changed his appearance? Before seeking refuge with my father, this venerable pill king unfortunately offended many friends of his dao. Even my father has never commanded the pill king to reveal his true appearance. Does Holy King Mu desire to leave the pill king with no way out?”
Holy King Mu was half-skeptical. “How many years has it been since this person sought refuge with your father?”
Wei Jie laughed out loud. “Does even my House Wei's guest pill king need to account for themselves to your Eternal Celestial Capital?”
Holy King Mu was also inwardly hesitant. He could clearly tell that the person in front of him had changed his appearance. Yet, Wei Jie had already said that he’d served House Wei for many years, so it clearly couldn't be Jiang Chen.
Holy King Mu muttered to himself for a while, in a quandary. It was a subordinate of his who actually suddenly proposed, “Since this venerable pill king is a guest of House Wei, then he should have an pill king medallion, shouldn't he? This pill king medallion is a widely known token in the world of pill dao; it can't be faked.”
Holy King Mu was delighted when he heard this, “Indeed. If this friend could take out his identity medallion, I will have done my duty by examining it.”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. He shook his sleeves and produced a medallion. “Take a good look.”
This pill king medallion was as authentic as they came. On its face were clearly written two words, “Zhen Shi.” Holy King Mu looked at it closely again and again. This medallion wasn't a fake, and it didn't show any signs of being a forgery either. “Pill king Zhen Shi?” Holy King Mu frowned. He thought for a moment, but still couldn't find any flaws. He cupped his hands in a salute and said with a sour face, “Worthy nephew Wei, apologies for the offense.”
Wei Jie let out a faint smile, “Then goodbye.” He gestured, and the entire group walked out of the northern gate, all strut and swagger without a look back. There was no pretense of any courtesy towards Holy King Mu and his men. There was no need for citizens of Veluriyam Capital to humble themselves in front of people from the Eternal Celestial Capital. Holy King Mu stared at House Wei's procession. He watched them for a long while, until they disappeared over the horizon. Only then did he turn back his cold eyes.
He had a nagging feeling that there was something wrong with House Wei's group, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what. There wasn't a problem with either Wei Jie or Wei Qixia. There wasn't any issue even with thee warriors. It was simply this pill king who'd disguised his appearance who made the holy king feel as though he'd swallowed a fly, giving him a lingering nauseous feeling. However, thinking back carefully, Holy King Mu still felt that the pill king shouldn't be related to Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen was a genius from the Myriad Domain. It was fundamentally impossible for the Myriad Domain to produce a pill king. And even if that Jiang Chen had previously completed the pill king evaluation, it was simply impossible for him to foresee this situation where he would have to change the name on his identity medallion to “Zhen Shi.” One would use their own name or their title in an pill king evaluation. Who would use someone else's name for no rhyme or reason? Holy King Mu’s mind was thrown into chaos for a time.
His instincts as an expert told him there was a problem with this pill king. But the more he reasoned it out, the more he felt that this man shouldn't be Jiang Chen. He turned it over and over in his mind, yet he still couldn't identify an obvious clue. He immediately waved his hand. “Observe the rest carefully, don't overlook a single one.”
The House Wei affair was but a passing episode. Countless wandering cultivators whispered among themselves, but none of them dared object to the questioning. House Wei could afford to be arrogant. They weren't entitled to such arrogance. It wasn't that the Eternal Celestial Capital didn't dare offend House Wei. Rather, they didn't dare offend the Veluriyam Capital standing behind House Wei. The wandering cultivators, on the other hand, were nothing to the Eternal Celestial Capital. The sect could kill them without batting an eye.
A great stir took place at the northern gates after about two hours. A stunning young lady had appeared alone on her mount. Her clothes were whiter than snow as she led her white horse gracefully through the northern gate. This young woman's beauty and grace was like an immortal descending from the heavens. Everyone at the scene stared dumbstruck, their eyes open wide and their jaws hanging loose.
Some people compared beautiful women to flowers, some compared them to rivers. Yet, any such metaphor of this world seemed to pale in comparison when held up to this young woman. Such stunning beauty didn't belong to the mundane world. Dazed, dazzled, to a one, they wondered whether she was a fairy banished from the heavens, fallen among mortals.
Even the Eternal Celestial Capital disciples in charge of the inspection were sweating. As though they were one and all virgins longing for their first women, they walked on eggshells around her, afraid of offending the beautiful woman. Fortunately, this beauty was very cooperative, and didn't make any trouble for them. After answering their questions, she vanished without a trace, leaving only behind yearning and regret at her absence amongst the disciples.
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