Chapter 697 - At the Gates of Phoenix City
With a flash of profound light, Yun Che was teleported to the first level of the Black Moon Merchant Guild.
As the lowest level within the Black Moon Merchant Guild, the aura of this place was naturally not as thick or pervasive as it was on the seventh level. Yun Che took in his surroundings; this was a simple yet elegant single-room apartment, and it likely served as an ordinary guestroom. But he did not manage to get a good look at the room because his gaze was fixed to a certain spot.
A middle-aged man with a refined appearance slowly stood up from a dark-red wooden study and smiled at him gently, “Che’er, you’ve come.”
Yun Che’s mouth opened as he felt his nose crinkle up. He quickly strode forward before falling heavily on his knees, “Uncle Xia….” He immediately paused before changing his mode of address, “Father-in-law, I have finally been able to be reunited with you once more.”
“Haha, stand up please.” Xia Hongyi extended a hand and hoisted Yun Che up as he measured him with a warm gaze before cheerfully acknowledging him, “In a mere blink of an eye, more than six years have passed, and you have grown up as well. Even though your appearance remains unchanged, when you married Qingyue, you were only up to my forehead, but now you are already half a head taller than me.”
Indeed, since the day he had been kicked out of the Xiao Clan, he had not seen Xia Hongyi. Furthermore, when he had returned to Floating Cloud City and wanted to pay a visit to Xia Hongyi, he discovered that he had long ago left home and that his current whereabouts were unknown. Not only that, but when Yun Che had arrived at Phoenix City three years ago, he found out by chance that Xia Hongyi was actually residing with the Black Moon Merchant Guild, but at that time, he could not bring himself to face Xia Hongyi, so he did not meet him… and now, six years had passed since this meeting.
Yun Che did not detect any negative feelings such as gloominess or solitude from Xia Hongyi; instead, he seemed to be possessed of a certain simple and elegant calm. This cheered Yun Che up greatly, and he let out a laugh as he said, “If we are speaking of growing up, Yuanba is the one who has truly ‘grown up.' If Father-in-law saw Yuanba right now, you might not be able to recognize him.”
“Oh? So that is to say that you’ve seen Yuanba recently?” Xia Hongyi asked as his smile became even warmer and his eyes shone with deep concern.
“Yes,” Yun Che nodded his head heavily. The Black Moon Merchant Guild had the most comprehensive information network in the Profound Sky Continent, so he was confident that Xia Hongyi had been kept abreast of the current state of affairs. “Yuanba has truly become a magnificent man. Right now he is keeping watch over our Blue Wind Nation’s final line of defence, and on his shoulders rests the heaviest and noblest burden of our Blue Wind Nation… As long as he is around, even if the Divine Phoenix Empire throws entire armies at him, they won’t even be able to take half a step into our Imperial City!”
“Good… that is truly good.” Xia Hongyi lightly nodded his head, and a deep sense of pride and contentment shone through his calm smile.
“Once our Blue Wind Nation has escaped this calamity and recovered its glory, the two of you can reunite once more… That day definitely isn’t far away.”
“Yuanba….” Xia Hongyi murmured softly and let out a hushed sigh that carried far too many complex emotions within. No one would have thought that… including Xia Hongyi, his very own father, that the Xia Yuanba whose gifts could only be called ordinary in Floating Cloud City and who had been the laughingstock of the Blue Wind Profound Palace had, within the span of a few short years, risen up like a phoenix, now stood at the very peak of the Profound Sky Continent, and had even caused the Four Sacred Grounds to go pale in shock and amazement.
Whereas others were shocked and left in disbelief at Xia Yuanba’s transformation, Xia Hongyi’s emotions seemed far more complex than that.
Both of them sat facing each other, and the two men were in high spirits; Yun Che had always held Xia Hongyi with the highest regard because, in the years he had lived in Floating Cloud City, he had only ever held two people of the older generation in regard… the first was his grandfather, Xiao Lie, and the other was Xia Hongyi.The main reason was, besides his closest relatives, Xia Hongyi was the only person that showed ‘genuine care and concern’ to this ‘cripple,’ and this perpetually gentle person had never, ever said a single word to oppose the marriage between his genius daughter and this ‘cripple.' In fact, he had arranged the majority of the wedding by himself.
And having been through two lives worth of grievances, Yun Che was clearer than anyone on just how precious this kind of genuine warmth was in the face of universal ridicule and contempt.
When Xia Qingyue had entered Frozen Cloud Immortal Palace and Xia Yuanba had gone missing… the blow dealt to Xia Hongyi at that time had been far too heavy. In order to track down Xia Yuanba, he had abandoned his family business, left Floating Cloud City, and had used the opportunity left behind by his ancestor to join the Black Moon Merchant Guild. Later, he had even seized a chance to enter the headquarters of the Black Moon Merchant Guild itself.
During the past few years in the Black Moon Merchant Guild, he would repeat the same routine every day. He would meet different people, and every other day he would try to find some news regarding his children and Yun Che, and this caused his heart to become more and more at peace.
“Father-in-law, I have a question that I am trying to find the answer to. But as a junior, I am really not sure if I should be asking this in the first place….” Facing Xia Hongyi, Yun Che really wanted to voice out the doubt that had been plaguing his heart for the longest time, but even though he had already decided that he was going to do it, he still hesitated when it came to actually asking the question… because, after all, it was extremely likely that it was the thing that Xia Hongyi was most sensitive about.
“You want to ask about… Yuanba and Qingyue’s mother, correct?” Xia Hongyi said gently as he looked at Yun Che
“....” A shocked expression appeared on Yun Che’s face.
“Haha, no matter who it is, they would definitely find it strange.” Xia Hongyi said as he gave a polite laugh, but after that, disappointment and frustration surfaced on his face as he continued, “Yuanba and Qingyue had clearly been born into a merchant family, and my Xia Family had been merchants for generations. My forefathers, my own departed father, and even myself, we had only dabbled in the profound way and held no interest towards it. However, Qingyue had possessed an extremely high aptitude towards the profound way from young, and Yuanba… in the past few years has displayed a talent that far outstrips that of mere mortals.”
Yun Che lapsed into a short silence before giving a light nod of his head. “Because I knew a bit more about the personal affairs of your family, I have always had more questions than other people.
“I already know that Yuanba possesses a special power that is known as the ‘Tyrannical Emperor’s Divine Veins.’ I am not sure what meaning the ‘Tyrannical Emperor’s Divine Veins’ hold, but what I do know is that the number one profound practitioner within the Profound Sky Continent—Absolute Monarch Sanctuary’s Saint Emperor thinks extremely highly of Yuanba. And three years ago, when his existence was finally exposed, it caused shockwaves that swept through the other three Sacred Grounds. During these three years, many people have tried to either openly or discreetly dig up my background as well, investigating my history and my level of profound strength. But all of them returned empty-handed, haha….”
Xia Hongyi gave a faint shake of his head, and as he let out a dry chuckle, the expression on his face was not one of helplessness; it was instead a self-deprecatory expression that others would not understand.
Xia Hongyi’s various responses clearly showed that he was not shocked nor was he unable to accept the heaven-defying aptitude that had been shown by both his son Xia Yuanba and his daughter Xia Qingyue. Instead, the general feeling Yun Che got from him was that of a deep-seated melancholy. He finally opened his mouth and replied, “I actually only have a passing curiosity in regards to these things, so if Father-in-law does not want to talk about it, it's really fine…”
“It happened during a cold winter twenty five years ago.” Before Yun Che’s voice could completely fall, Xia Hongyi’s rose up immediately. He raised his head to look at the green ceiling of the room, and his eyes swiftly grew hazy. “I had just secured a big deal outside the city, and it was already growing dark by the time I set off on my journey home. But it was then that I suddenly found myself in the middle of a blizzard. The bitter cold was hard to endure, and in order to make it back to Floating Cloud CIty before it got dark, I chose to take a shortcut and cut across some hills which were known to be inhabited by dangerous profound beasts. But we suddenly stopped in the middle of the journey, and my family servants reported to me that… they had discovered someone who had fainted in the snow in front of us.
“It was a young girl who looked to be about the same age as me. She was dressed all in white, but half of it had been stained red with blood. At that time, I was only just over twenty years of age, but being born into a merchant family, the principle that a merchant should never involve himself in the affairs of a profound practitioner had been deeply instilled into me since my childhood. Saving someone who was clearly being pursued by her enemies and whose background was completely unknown was an extremely big taboo for a merchant. But not only was that girl extremely beautiful, she also possessed a unique disposition that was impossible to describe. As she lay unconscious amidst the snow, her breathing was as light as gossamer and she looked so frail that it gave me an uncontrollable urge to protect her. In the end, I decided to rescue her and bring her back with me to Floating Cloud City… even though at that time I was already very clear that my actions were very likely to cause great tragedy to fall upon me.”
“....” Yun Che listened silently, and he knew then that the girl that Xia Hongyi had rescued was actually Xia Yuanba and Xia Qingyue’s mother.
To think that they had met in such dramatic fashion.
But just who was she and what status did she have?
“After I had brought her home, she did not awaken for a very long time and her lifeforce continued to weaken. So I searched all over for famous doctors, and I even made many trips to New Moon City to find doctors. But every single doctor that came said that ‘her lifeforce had been completely exhausted and they were unable to turn the desperate situation around.' And after a whole seven days, when even I had begun to lose all hope, she suddenly managed to wake up… and after she had regained consciousness, not only was she extremely weak, but she had also lost all her memories.”
“Lost all her memories?” Yun Che said as his brows knit together fiercely.
“That is right, she did not know why she was wounded nor did she know where she was from or even her own identity. It could be because she had suffered a memory loss induced by a head wound. But after that, she remained with the Xia Family, and because her physical condition was extremely weak, she rarely left the house at all. It was I who personally took care of her,and in order to nurse her back to health, I spared no expense in getting my hands on any valuable medicine that I could find… but what was odd was that no matter what tonic she took, in the end, she was still extremely weak. Even a light walk would leave her completely breathless. But what was fortunate was that she did not exhibit signs of any other illness.”
Various tonics… and even major tonics, but she still remained weak? And at the same time, she did not show any signs of other illness?
The space between Yun Che’s brows tightened, and a puzzled grimace flashed across his face.
“And because I had met her amidst the snow of a cold winter night, I gave her the name Dongyue. It was just nice that the summer of my family name (Xia) corresponded with the winter in hers (Dong). I was with her all through the day, and we became the light of each other’s lives. Even though I never found out who she really was or where she really came from, I could not control my own feelings, and two years later, she and I became husband and wife. In addition, not long after that, she became pregnant, and because her body was too weak, those doctors advised her to abandon the child and that if she did not do so, the childbirth would be extremely dangerous. I also gave her the same advice, but she insisted on giving birth to the child… and in only seven months time, she suddenly went into early labor and gave birth to Qingyue.
“Perhaps it was because it was a premature birth and her mother’s weak constitution, but when Qingyue was born, she neither moved nor cried, and her entire body was icy and cold. But just as the midwives and the doctors were about to declare her stillborn, we were extremely fortunate that your father, Xiao Ying, had rushed down and discovered that Qingyue still clung on to a thread of life, so he poured all of his profound energy into Qingyue’s body, protecting her heart and her last chance at life. It was because Xiao Ying poured all his effort into saving her that Qinyue made a miraculous recovery two hours later and began to let out a wail….”
“....” Yun Che’s heart was deeply stirred; this story was very well-known amongst the residents of Floating Cloud City, and he had already heard of it from Xiao Lie when he was young. It was precisely because Xiao Ying saved Xia Qingyue’s life when she was young that Xia Hongyi, in the midst of boundless gratitude, had suggested that Xia Qingyue be married to Xiao Ying’s son in order to repay the debt of gratitude they owed to him.
Xia Hongyi briefly closed his eyes before continuing, “At first, we thought that Qingyue, who had been struck by calamity just as she was born, was going to be a very sickly child. But what was amazing was that Qingyue was healthy and hale ever since and she grew up without trouble. Moreover, she was incomparably intelligent, and she possessed a wisdom that far exceeded her peers in terms of maturity. Her mother also made a swift recovery after giving birth to her, and within a month’s time, she was as healthy as any other person, and she no longer suffered from a weak constitution. One year after that, she gave birth to Yuanba as well….”
When he had reached this point, Xia Hongyi suddenly came to an abrupt halt. His gaze was still fixed on the ceiling, and his eyes had completely misted over; his hands had began to steadily shake as well. Being able to walk hand in hand with the one he loved, having a son and a daughter, seeing his wife completely recover from her previous ailment, and seeing their children grow up safe and sound while residing in relative luxury… in anyone’s eyes, especially Xia Hongyi’s own, he already had the most perfect life a man could ever ask for.
Xia Hongyi lapsed into silence for a long while, as if he had completely lost himself in the happiness and contentment that had filled that period of bliss in his life. It was only after a long time that Yun Che finally broke the silence by saying, “And… what happened after that? Grandfather had told me that Yuanba and Qingyue’s mother had passed away due to illness… was that true?”
Before, he had never had any suspicions regarding the matter, because he had no reason to be suspicious.
But now that he had come to this conclusion, he no longer had any reason to not be suspicious anymore.
“When Qingyue was four years old and Yuanba was three, she… left,” Xia Hongyi said in a dazed voice.
“She… left?” Those two words contained many meanings.
“She flew away… she flew away like a celestial maiden.”
Yun Che, “?!”
“On the day that she left, she suddenly regained the memories that had been sleeping within her for many years, and at the same time, she recovered the powers that lay dormant within her as well…. She did not stay for a day, in fact, she did not even stay for an hour… she left just like that… and even though she was weeping, she was also determined and resolute… she said that the moment she regained her powers, her aura had already been discovered… and if she did not leave, she would bring a huge catastrophe down on me and our children as well… and before she left, she told me that… we would never ever see each other again in this lifetime… and she told me to never go looking for her as well… and to treat her as if she had already….”
Xia Hongyi’s voice was laced with immeasurable pain, and even though nearly twenty years had passed since then, his reaction proved that he had never been able to forget or find release from this agony. He had his enormous family holdings, and he was the head merchant of Floating Cloud City, but he had never married again nor did he take a concubine. So it could be imagined just how irreplaceable and important the girl that he had named “Dongxue” was to him and the special place that she had in his heart.
“Then, did she… mention … even briefly or fuzzily… the place that she was leaving to?” Yun Che asked in a small voice as he pondered deeply on how he would be able to console the present Xia Hongyi.
Xia Hongyi did not shake his head. He only let out a small sigh, and in a voice that was as fleeting as summer mist, he replied with five words that he had etched deeply into his heart.Five words that had not amounted to any new information or lead to anything else….
“The Realm of the Gods.”
“!!” When he heard those words, Yun Che received a huge shock and did not recover for a long period of time.
When Yun Che finally strode out of the Black Moon Merchant Guild, it had already begun to approach midday.
He looked at the bright, dazzling sky and gave a heavy sigh that was filled with emotion. “Who would have thought that the situation with Qingyue and Yuanba’s mother… was actually so complicated and bizarre. No wonder they had such frightening innate gifts. One possessed the Tyrannical Emperor’s Divine Veins while the other had the Heart of Snow Glazed Glass and the Nine Profound Exquisite Body…. To think that their mother hailed from such a place.
“The first time I heard the name ‘Realm of the Gods’ was from the Dragon God. And this time, I actually heard it from Uncle Xia’s own mouth,” Yun Che said as he let out a long sigh, his heart troubled by aftershock of the revelation.
“To be able to give birth to children who possess the Tyrannical Emperor’s Divine Veins and the Heart of Snow Glazed Glass, even if that woman is from the Realm of the Gods, she definitely has a very high status there,” Jasmine said blandly.
“There is no woman who would truly be willing to be part with her husband and her children forever… she definitely had her own difficulties that were hard to bring up.” Yun Che muttered to himself, “If there is a day that I am able to go to that place that is known as the ‘Realm of the Gods,’ then perhaps I can try to locate her whereabouts… even if it is just for Yuanba and Qingyue’s sake.”
Having felt Yun Che’s spirit ripple when he was muttering to himself, Jasmine, who was inside the Sky Poison Pearl, raised a delicate eyebrow before suddenly asking, “Do you really have plans to travel to the Realm of the Gods?”
“Of course.” Yun Che nodded his head forthrightly. “After all, I personally made a promise to the Dragon God all those years ago that I would do my best to find and reach the place known as the Realm of the Gods. The only reason why I can possess such a strong body bloodline, and soul is because he destroyed himself in order to bestow his blessings upon me. So I will definitely give my all in trying to accomplish what I promised him. However, if I use all my power… but I am unable to reach that level, then I will naturally be helpless to do anything.”
“I suggest that you rid yourself of such foolish notions right away,” Jasmine said in an icy and cold tone.
“Eh? Why is that so? Do you not want me to go there?” Yun Che asked in a rather stunned voice.
“Hmph, now is not the time for you to think of such things.” Jasmine forcefully changed the subject, “What you should be puzzling out is just what kind of relationship this Black Moon Merchant Guild has with Supreme Ocean Palace.”
“Ah, there is no real need to think about this.” Yun Che replied as he turned around and eyed the pitch-black crescent moon which soared into the clouds, “The power that is standing behind the Black Moon Merchant Guild is Supreme Ocean Palace… or perhaps you could say that the Black Moon Merchant Guild was originally the other half of Supreme Ocean Palace.
“The other three Sacred Grounds have their own enormous supply chains and their own resource domains while Supreme Ocean Palace is located in an ocean domain that is surrounded by water. Yet their position amongst the Four Sacred Grounds has never waned, and they have even surpassed Sun Moon Divine Hall and Mighty Heavenly Sword Region and are only second to Absolute Monarch Sanctuary in terms of power. If they did not have a huge resource pool located on the main continent, how would they have been able to reach such a position. This enormous supply chain is naturally the Black Moon Merchant Guild.
“Zi Ji should have been able to guess that I would be able to deduce the relationship between the Black Moon Merchant Guild and Supreme Ocean Palace from his words. However, I do not think this is a secret when it comes to the Sacred Grounds. And in the end, Zi Ji forcefully bought ten Overlord Pellets from me and viciously scammed the other three Sacred Grounds.” Yun Che stroked his chin and continued, “At present, his Supreme Ocean Palace are the sole possessors of ten Overlord Pellets while the other three Sacred Grounds will have to vye for the remaining twenty pellets…. No! Supreme Ocean Palace will definitely come in for the twenty pellets that still remain, or else, it will arouse the suspicions of the other three Sacred Grounds. In this situation, every Sacred Ground should be able to secure five pellets, leaving Supreme Ocean Palace with fifteen of them….”
“Yes, and then my Frozen Cloud Immortal Palace will have three thousand pellets!”
“And so, the Sacred Grounds only amount to this in the end, hahahaha!” As Yun Che continued his ruminations, his spirits rose immediately and he began to swagger towards the west… in the direction of the Divine Phoenix Sect.
“Hmph, you used a Heavenly Profound Treasure, the Sky Poison Pearl, to refine such things, yet you use it to look down on a bunch of inferior powers. You are practically profaning a sacred object! How dare you still be so conceited because of that!” Jasmine gave cold snort of extreme contempt.
“Now, just how should I go about settling my debt….” Yun Che looked in the direction of the Divine Phoenix Sect and his voice suddenly grew sinister.
Phoenix City was located at the north-western part of Divine Phoenix City, and it belonged to Divine Phoenix City and stood alone at the same time; it was a unique city within a city. Phoenix City was the same as the Divine Phoenix Imperial Palace, they were both core pillars of the Divine Phoenix Sect. The difference was that one represented the seat of their power while the other represented the seat of their authority. It could be said that both places had incomparable prestige and military power within the Divine Phoenix Empire, and even if one included the rest of the Profound Sky Seven Nations, these two places would still have no equal.
As Yun Che approached Phoenix City, a pressure which caused one’s heart to race and scorching air welcomed him.
This would be the second time Yun Che visited this place. But compared to three years ago, both his mission and his mood was drastically different this time around. As he looked at the phoenix sculpture which raised its head and spread its wings as it radiated a scorching hot brilliance, he no longer experienced the respect and awe that he had three years ago. Instead, what flashed in his mind was the desolated lands of Blue Wind Nation, the cities which had been reduced to rubble, the citizens of his nation who had lost everything, and the battlefield filled with blood and littered with bones… Cang Wanhe’s memorial tablet… Cang Yue’s tears… the cheers of the Blue Wind soldiers… Sikong Du’s wail of fury and despair….”
The fires of rage and hatred were lit in his chest, and they fiercely welled up… he could not forget the reason he had come to this place and the mission he had to accomplish, and he could definitely not forget the fifty million blood-drenched people… and the hatred of a nation that had nearly been consigned to the oblivion of history.
“Who is it?! This is Phoenix City, not a place that commoners like you should approach, hurry up and leave!”
In front of the gates of Phoenix City, a Divine Phoenix disciple who was guarding the gate strode forth as he yelled at Yun Che with an arrogant tone.
“Eh? Why does this person seem kind of familiar?” Another disciple who was on the right of the first disciple said as his mouth slanted.
Yun Che faintly narrowed his eyes faintly, and he gently said in the most even tone, “Go and report to your Sect Master, Feng Hengkong, that Yun Che has arrived to pay him a visit.”
Even though his tone was gentle and slow, every single word spoken contained a killing intent that was beginning to froth over.