Chapter 1024 - Luring out the Snake
The interior of the Ice Maiden Palace was decorated in a beautiful and imposing fashion; it was evident that the best of efforts had been put into making it appear extravagant. Even Feng Huita’s imperial chamber might not seem so exaggeratedly decorated.
"Ruling such a vast nation still pales in comparison to having a good master."
Yun Che sighed with emotion.
There were twenty women behind him with their heads lowered, nervously waiting upon him. Seeing him coming before a low bed, they thought that he was intending to sleep a bit earlier than expected. The woman leading the others secretly bit on her lip before taking a step forward and saying in a low voice, "Sir Yun, do you want to rest now?"
"Mm." Yun Che made a sound in response. Then, he casually turned around to look at the woman who had spoken the words.
The woman had caught his attention from the very beginning due to her attire being different from other nineteen women. She was clad in a snow-white dress with the hem dragging on the ground. It was simple yet elegant, exuding a sense of luxuriousness that would make people turn their eyes to her.
"What's your name?" Yun Che asked abruptly as he looked at her.
"This prin... ah!" Immediately, she jumped in fright at the way she referred to her. She lowered her head in a flurry and said nervously, "This... this servant goes by the name of Hanjin. Sir Yun can order about this Jin'er as he wishes."
This prin? Hanjin?
"You're... a princess of the Ice Wind Empire?" Yun Che sized her up. No wonder the temperament of this woman was so extraordinary. Feng Huita actually sent his own daughter to him...? Hmm, very good, it's so thoughtful of him.
"Yes." Feng Hanjin further lowered her head.
She was the Ice Wind Empire’s youngest princess, and she had just turned fifteen this year. She came here following Feng Huita’s order, to personally wait upon the honored guest. He had also told her that if the other party took a fancy to her, it would be her good fortune of a lifetime, even if he took her in as a concubine or just a servant to warm his bed.
"So it's true," Yun Che nodded slowly. "Your royal father made even a princess like you wait upon me, huh. I really don't know how I should express myself to his show of hospitality. Does he not care about causing grievance to you?"
Feng Hanjin said in a low voice, "In Royal Father's words, it is Hanjin's good fortune to be able to serve Sir Yun."
"Hahaha." Yun Che laughed aloud. "Your royal father is really too courteous. Looks like I'll have to properly say my thanks to him tomorrow. Speaking of which, on my way here, I heard that your Ice Wind Empire has a history of close to a hundred thousand years. That’s truly admirable.”
"It has been eighty seven thousand six hundred twenty-two years since the establishment of the Ice Wind Empire."
Feng Hanjin's voice was very low, which sounded nervous and weak, but the figures she mentioned were incomparably precise.
"...In the history of the Snow Song Realm, it should be considered very long regime, right?" Yun Che asked.
"Reporting to Sir Yun," Feng Hanjin answered obediently, "Although the Ice Wind Empire isn't the strongest nation in the Snow Song Realm, it has existed for the longest period of time. The history of the Snow Song Realm has seen the rise and fall of countless dynasties, and it's only my Ice Wind Empire that has stood towering for at least fifty thousand years. Moreover, we're already not far from accomplishing the feat of maintaining our regime for ‘two’ fifty thousand years."
"Oh?" Yun Che looked surprised. Then he said in admiration, "In the world I come from, it was extremely rare for dynasties to be able to maintain their regimes for several thousand years. So it's really too astonishing to know that a dynasty could exist for over eighty thousand years. It seems like the Ice Wind Empire is indeed a nation with an enormously great fortune."
"There must be some reason behind it having such a strong and prosperous destiny. As a princess of Ice Wind Empire, you should know what exactly it is, right? For instance... connections with other nations or some halidom safeguarding the empire. I'd like to hear about it." Yun Che appeared extremely curious.
"About that..." Feng Hanjin said nervously, "This servant usually stays in her chambers, and has never been involved in national affairs. As such, it's impossible to give an answer to Sir Yun's question. This servant asks for Sir Yun's forgiveness."
"Oh... no problem. It was just a casual question." Yun Che waved his hand. Then, he sat on the low bed and stretched out his hand to feel its ice silk cover. "What a comfortable bed. It seems I'll be able to have a good night's sleep."
"If Sir Yun is going to take a rest..." Feng Hanjin's fingers were tightly entangled with each other, and her face was flushed deep red. She lowered her head, not daring to look at Yun Che. "Allow this servant to... help you... b-bathe."
"Oh, that's unnecessary." Yun Che lay down. "I don't have such a habit."
"Then... allow this servant to help you take off your robe."
"That's also unnecessary. I never take off my clothes before going to bed." Yun Che was lying with his face upward and eyes closed. He casually waved off his hand. "There's nothing left here for you to do. All of you leave now."
Feng Hanjin had a complicated expression. It was hard to tell whether she was disappointed or feeling relaxed at his attitude. She bent to bow. "Okay... this servant will be outside, waiting for Sir Yun's instructions at all times."
"Oh, wait a moment!" Suddenly, Yun Che got up from the bed. He took a glance outside through the window and muttered, "This trip to the Ice Wind Empire is a rare opportunity, so it doesn't feel right to go to bed so early. Princess Hanjin, could you call over your Royal Brother Hanyi? Have him take me on a tour around the imperial palace."
"Understood, this servant will pass on your words right away."
Feng Hanjin came out of the Ice Maiden Palace. Just as she was about to transmit her voice to Mu Hanyi, she found him unexpectedly coming right in her direction.
She promptly went over to him. "Thirteenth Brother."
"Hanjin?" Mu Hanyi was a bit surprised. "Shouldn't you be serving Senior Brother Yun Che, as per the order of Royal Father? What're you doing outside? Is Senior Brother Yun not present in the Ice Maiden Palace?"
"Sir Yun is in the Ice Maiden Palace at the moment, but he wanted me to call Thirteenth Brother over here. He was hoping to have Thirteenth Brother take him on a tour around the imperial palace," Feng Hanjin replied.
"Oh, so that's how it is." Mu Hanyi nodded lightly. "Then let's quickly go over to him."
"Hanjin, what do you think about Yun Che?" he asked unconcernedly.
Feng Hanjin thought for a bit before she said in a light voice, "Actually... we didn't talk that much, but I feel that he is a very gentle person. Despite having such an honorable identity, he isn't overbearing in the least."
"Haha, that's natural. If there was some problem with his behavior, there's no way Sect Master would've chosen him as her direct disciple." Mu Hanyi smiled and continued in a very natural manner, "Since you've already exchanged words with him, did he ask you about anything?"
Then, he spoke again to supplement his words, "If he asks for anything, make sure to satisfy him no matter what."
"He didn't ask for anything either... AH! He casually talked a little about the history of our Ice Wind Empire, and asked a question regarding the destiny of a nation," Feng Hanjin replied truthfully. Even though she had the noble status of a princess, she had been brought up strictly in the imperial family, and was used to be behave obediently.
"Destiny of nation?" Mu Hanyi's eyebrows shot up.
Feng Hanjin turned her gaze to him upon listening to the abrupt change in his tone. "Thirteenth Brother, is something wrong?"
"Oh." Mu Hanyi smiled. "I truly didn't think that even Senior Brother Yun Che would believe in such an imaginary thing, so I was really taken aback, haha."
He came with Feng Hanjin to the Ice Maiden Palace. He apologized immediately as soon as he caught sight of Yun Che, "Senior Brother Yun Che, it is Hanyi's return to this place after a period of several years, so there were a lot of trivial matters that I had to deal with. Hanyi is so utterly ashamed to be absent from your side for such a long time."
"I've said it many times before that Junior Brother Hanyi doesn't need to be so polite." Yun Che smiled unconcernedly. "Earlier when I nonchalantly took a walk outside for a short while, I was seriously awed by the unimaginable beauty of Ice Wind Imperial Palace. It can't be mentioned in the same breath as the imperial palaces in our lower realms. So when I thought of it a while ago, I was unable to contain my desire to continue the sightseeing. Could I trouble Junior Brother Hanyi to take me on a stroll around the palace?"
"It's no trouble at all, but an extreme honor to me."
Walking abreast, Yun Che and Mu Hanyi left the Ice Maiden Palace. They both enjoyed the sights of Ice Wind Imperial Palace in the dark of the night as they strolled around.
There was a plane of difference between the God Realm and a lower realm. The grandeur of an imperial palace in the God Realm was far greater than the Blue Wind Imperial Palace or Divine Phoenix Imperial Palace Yun Che was familiar with.
On the way, Yun Che listened to Mu Hanyi's detailed introduction to the many places of the imperial palace and would also occasionally talk about some matters of Blue Pole Star. Their laughing sounds could be heard continuously, having extreme fun discussing various topics. Unknowingly, they had already gone through most of the imperial palace.
"It's nothing short of astonishing and admirable for the Ice Wind Empire to exist for as long as over eighty thousand years, being the empire with the longest regime in the history of the Snow Song Realm."
Yun Che sincerely sighed in admiration. "It seems the huge Ice Wind Empire is certainly favored by the heavens to have been blessed with a formidable destiny."
"Oh?" Mu Hanyi smiled slightly. "Senior Brother Yun Che also believes in something like destiny?"
"The issue with destiny is, whether it's the destiny of a person or a nation's, perhaps no one truly believe in it with all their heart, nor anyone finds it completely unbelievable. Similar to how there isn't a single person who has the ability to really clarify whether our fates are decided by the heavens, or our own actions." Yun Che said in an unhurried manner.
"Hahaha." Mu Hanyi laughed for a while. He nodded in full consent. "Senior Brother Yun Che said it right. In Hanyi's opinion, a thing like destiny couldn't be completely trusted, and we can't totally ignore its effect in our life, either. The main reasons behind my Ice Wind Empire being able to remain standing firmly in this realm are: First of all, our ancestral emperors were accomplished in governing the empire in a rightful and lawful way. The first instruction for someone ascending on the throne of this empire is, to be close to the masses and be popular amongst them. If the ruler isn't liked by the masses, then even a powerful and prosperous nation would crumble to extinction. 'The one to obtain people's love, grasps the whole world' isn't just an empty phrase. Our ancestral emperors have tried their best to obey the instruction, and as such, the virtuous cycle of the ruler caring for the masses, and masses caring for the ruler in return came into existence. Therefore, it's no surprise that Ice Wind maintained its stability all the while."
Yun Che gave a deep glance at Mu Hanyi before saying, "Could it be there's still something else?"
"That other thing." A pretty mysterious, faint smile surfaced on Mu Hanyi's face. "Is possibly the one with a considerably great protecting effect on what Senior Brother Yun Che calls as the destiny of a nation."
"Oh?" Surprise was written all over Yun Che's face. "Don't tell me there's a spirit vein underneath the imperial city?"
"That's not it." Mu Hanyi shook his head. "It's actually a heaven-bestowed halidom safeguarding the empire that my Ice Wind Empire obtained in the early days of its establishment. This halidom has been with us for over eighty thousand years. The Ice Wind Empire is still present, and the halidom that has experienced a great number of things over a period of more than eighty thousand years, hasn't shown even the slightest change in its appearance. If such a thing as destiny exists in this world, then this halidom is the one protecting the destiny of my Ice Wind Empire up to now."
"Halidom safeguarding the empire... your imperial family is in possession of such an extraordinary thing?" Yun Che said in amazement. "What exactly is this halidom? It has to be quite a miraculous thing to be able to remain unchanged even after existing for eighty thousand years."
"..." Mu Hanyi opened his mouth to speak but didn't say a word for a brief moment. It was evident that he was hesitant to answer him. Shortly after, he regained his calm and said, "The existence of this halidom isn't a secret either, but common people only know that Ice Wind Imperial Family has a halidom, and practically everyone is unaware of its real identity. This is considered one of the greatest secret of my Ice Wind Imperial Family after all. However, it's completely fine to tell Senior Brother Yun Che about it. It’s just that Hanyi asks for it be kept secret."
"Of course." Yun Che nodded in agreement.
"The halidom is in fact a Qilin horn." Mu Hanyi said with a solemn expression. "Our great ancestor found it coincidentally underneath the myriad firn. Back then, Qilins have already gone extinct for many years. So it was truly an inconceivable good luck and miracle for him to be able to find a Qilin horn... and an extremely intact one at that."
"A Qilin... horn?" Yun Che stopped in his tracks. A deep surprise could be seen in his face once again. "Isn't Qilin a legendary beast that is used as an auspicious sign? Are you telling me that it isn't just a made-up beast, but something that truly exists?"
"Of course." Mu Hanyi nodded. "It has been quite long since Qilins have gone extinct in the Eastern Divine Region, and in the lower realms it would've naturally happened at an even earlier time. Consequently, only several legends of them are left now that are hard to distinguish as true or false. It's no wonder that Senior Brother Yun Che would think of Qilin as a fabricated beast. But Qilins truly exist, and rumor has it that there's a family of Qilins in the distant Western Divine Region that has managed to survive to this day because they obtained an ancient divine blood. Therefore, if fate allows it, Senior Brother Yun Che might be able to personally see a true Qilin someday."
Yun Che remained in a daze for a good long while before he slowly nodded with a pretty surprised face. "There is no shortage of extraordinary things under the vast heavens. I never expected the auspicious legendary beast to be a true entity. It seems I'm still quite ignorant and narrow-minded, having lived in the lower realm for over twenty years."
"By the way, where is this Qilin horn right now? I'd like to have a look at it myself."
Yun Che's tone and expression revealed a deep curiosity and excitement.