The Great Zhou Institute class ranking exam was over. This year’s class ranking exam however had caused some pretty big ripples in Great Zhou City. The most enthusiastically discussed amongst them was the extraordinary performance of their prince. The prince rumoured to be incapable of beginning channel opening cultivation had used his six channel strength to obtain an overwhelming victory over Qi Yue, whom had relied on the Channel Breaker Art to reach eight channels…
The spread of this news caused numerous gasps of surprise. For the very first time, Zhou Yuan had begun to gain some reputation for himself in the Great Zhou Empire without relying on his status as prince.
A long break followed the class ranking exam. For Zhou Yuan however, there was no relaxation after victory and his daily training routine continued.
It was just as he had said to Qi Yue. In Zhou Yuan’s eyes, the latter was not much of a threat at all. Qi Yue had merely been a small pebble on Zhou Yuan’s path to growing stronger.
After kicking this pebble aside, Zhou Yuan’s gaze turned back once again to a more distant goal.
A month later.
The inner chambers of the royal palace.
Zhou Yuan walked into the chambers and looked behind the desk at Zhou Qing, “Father, you were looking for me?”
Zhou Qing lifted his head with a smile and replied, “How has your training been recently?”
Zhou Yuan responded, “Pretty good. I should unblock my seventh meridian channel soon.”
He had diligently training around the clock for the past month and the seventh channel was now in sight.
Zhou Qing nodded in gratification. Looks like the class ranking exam victory had not made Zhou Yuan lose himself to joy and slack off on his training.
Zhou Qing could not help but sigh and say, “It was really all thanks to you. If not for you, the Great Zhou Institute would not have escaped Qi Manor’s claws.” Recalling the class ranking exam still caused him to be a little on edge.
“As a subject of Great Zhou, it is only natural for me to do what I can.” Zhou Yuan smiled.
The smile on Zhou Qing’s face grew even wider. Soon after, he slowly said, “We may have been able to stop Qi Manor this time, but they will not give up.”
Cold light was revealed in Zhou Yuan’s eyes as he said, “Father, Qi Manor is a tumor to Great Zhou. To strengthen Great Zhou, this tumor must be destroyed.”
Zhou Qing nodded. “I naturally desire to eliminate Qi Manor at all times, but they are currently no weaker than the royal clan. If we were to go to war with them, both of us will surely suffer huge losses. Unless…”
“Unless what?” Zhou Yuan was a little startled.
Zhou Qing continued in a soft voice, “Unless the great general will firmly stand on our side and help us deal with Qi Manor.”
“Great general? Wei Canglan?” Zhou Yuan’s heart shook. It was obvious that he had heard of this individual before.
Zhou Qing lightly nodded. “The three strongest factions in the current Great Zhou are us, the royal clan, Qi Manor and the great general’s faction.”
“Great general Wei is also an Alpha-Origin expert and the Canglan army under him is one of the three strongest armies of Great Zhou.”
As for the other two armies, one was the royal clan’s imperial guards and the other was Qi Manor’s King Qi Guards.
“Father, could great general Wei have thoughts of rebelling?” Zhou Yuan frowned.
Zhou Qing shook his head. “Back then, great general Wei stood at my side even against Great Wu. He is not the kind of person who would entertain thoughts of rebellion. Truthfully speaking, it is I who let him down.”
At this point, Zhou Qing’s expression dimmed somewhat.
Zhou Yuan curiously asked, “What happened?”
Zhou Qing stood up and pointed at a map of Great Zhou hanging on the wall behind him. On the north-west part of the map was an area called Canglan County. Next to the county was a sprawling large black mass akin to an abyss.
Zhou Qing pointed at the black area on the map and asked with a serious expression, “Do you know of this land?”
“This is… Blackwater?” Zhou Yuan’s expression changed a little. Blackwater was well known in Great Zhou as a vile land populated by countless savage Genesis Beasts. No empire was able to occupy this region, allowing many independent practitioners to gather there, forming numerous factions of varying sizes.
These factions would poke at Great Zhou’s borders from time to time, plundering and slaughtering. No crime was beyond them.
Zhou Qing elaborated in a heavy voice, “Blackwater’s most powerful faction is known as Black Venom City and its lord goes by the title Black Venom King. He is a very infamous Alpha-Origin expert.”
“Back then, the Black Venom King invaded Great Zhou but was stopped by great general Wei. In retaliation, the Black Venom King besieged Canglan County and although he was pushed back in the end, great general Wei was struck by the Black Venom King’s secret technique, Devil Miasma Poison.”
“Although great general Wei was tortured by the poison, he was after all an Alpha-Origin expert and was ultimately able to suppress it. But no one could have expected what happened next. Great general Wei’s only son, Wei Bin, was afflicted by the poison at birth. He has been paralyzed and bedridden till this day and is constantly tormented by the poison.”
“With his only son poisoned, great general Wei was overwhelmed by rage and his hatred for Black Venom King reached all the way to the heavens. From then on, great general Wei has never taken even half a step from Canglan County. He views the Black Venom King as a thorn and is constantly plagued by thoughts of vengeance.”
“This is why great general Wei has shut himself in Canglan County for the past few years and pays no attention to the affairs of the Great Zhou Empire.”
At this point, Zhou Qing’s voice lowered, “I know that great general Wei still blames me. It was I who asked him delay the Black Venom King back then while I led troops to encircle the latter. Who could have imagined that king Qi would chose such a time to intervene and impede us. By the time I arrived with the troops, great general Wei had already been struck by the Devil Miasma Poison.”
“That is why I too am somewhat responsible for the plight that had befallen great general Wei’s son.”
It was only after listening to Zhou Qing’s story that Zhou Yuan finally understood. To think that there was such a tale behind this matter. It was likely that great general Wei held a little grudge against father. In addition to the waning power of the royal clan, there was now enough reason for great general Wei to shut himself away in Canglan County.
After all, Wei Canglan would not dare to do such a thing if the royal clan was as powerful as it had been back in the day.
As for Wei Bin’s misfortune, it was a similar situation to his own. The only difference was that the Dragon’s Resentment Poison was many many times worse than the Devil Miasma Poison.
Therefore, great general Wei could be said to be a neutral faction. He neither acknowledged Qi Manor nor receive commands from the royal clan. No wonder father said that the side Wei Canglan chose to stand on would obtain absolute superiority.
Zhou Qing slowly said, “According to my sources, Qi Yuan’s eldest son, Qi Hao, headed to Canglan County after graduating from the Great Zhou Institute and enlisted himself under great general Wei. It is said that he now has somewhat of a reputation in Canglan County. Qi Yuan clearly plans on getting closer to the great general through his son, making it easier for him to tilt great general Wei to their side.”
Zhou Yuan’s eyes narrowed. If Wei Canglan chose to help Qi Manor, the royal clan would be at risk of being overthrown.
“But you need not worry too much. great general Wei is someone I understand rather well. There is no chance that he would side with Qi Manor to deal with Great Zhou.”
Zhou Yuan slowly replied, “But he will not help the royal clan deal with Qi Manor either.”
Zhou Qing stiffened momentarily before nodding with a bitter smile.
Zhou Yuan let out a soft sigh. Great Zhou was in a really unstable position, crisis looming at every corner. His victory in the Great Zhou Institute had merely been akin to pouring a little water onto the blazing fire that was Qi Manor. If this tumor was not removed, there will never be peace for Great Zhou.
“I called you over because I have something to tell you.” Zhou Qing’s expression turned rather serious.
Zhou Yuan could not help but ask when he saw Zhou Qing’s expression, “What is it?”
Zhou Qing’s gaze turned to the Blackwater region on the map as he slowly said, “I received information some time ago of some ruins that had been discovered in Blackwater.”
“Ruins?” Zhou Yuan was taken aback. Blackwater was an incomparably vast land. The discovery of a few ruins should be rather ordinary.
It was as if a fire had been lit in Zhou Qing’s eyes at this moment as he elaborated in a soft voice, “Someone found an unusual plant in the ruins. Red like fire, its absorbs sunlight to grow and its seeds look like fire crystals.”
“What is it?” Zhou Yuan was baffled.
“If I am not wrong, it is likely the Fire Spirit Grain, a grade 4 Genesis Food!”
“Grade 4 Genesis Food?!” Upon hearing these words, Zhou Yuan’s expression finally changed. One must know that even the Mysterious Crystal Rice owned exclusively by their royal clan was only a grade 2 Genesis Food. Even so, it had been extremely beneficial to his channel opening and had even won over many talents to their side.
It was really difficult to imagine just how much more amazing a grade 4 Genesis Food would be. Only when Great Zhou was at her peak did they possess a similar grade 4 Genesis Food, the Blood Rain-Dragon Barley.
If the royal clan could gain possession of the Fire Spirit Grain, Great Zhou’s strength might even rise to the point where she could once again threaten Great Wu.
A Genesis Food like this was a true strategic resource of utmost important to any empire.
Thus, Zhou Yuan finally understood why Zhou Qing had become so emotional earlier.
Zhou Yuan declared, “This Fire Spirit Grain must land in the hands of the royal clan.”
It was easy to picture how this item would enable Qi Manor’s power to swiftly grow in a few years, surpassing the royal clan.
Zhou Qing nodded and shot a glance at Zhou Yuan as he continued, “Besides the Fire Spirit Grain, it seems that there is also a gem-like tree which bears jade fruits akin to a new born child.”
Zhou Qing stared at Zhou Yuan as he slowly said, “This fruit is called the Jade-Infant Fruit and can be used to supplement one’s lifespan.”
Zhou Yuan felt as if his head had exploded. His breathing grew heavier while his eyes turned scarlet red. His mother had lost a substantial amount of her lifespan in order to save him and now had less than ten years to live. This had always been a thorn in his heart, and he had many a times mulled over how to extend his mother’s lifespan.
But mystical items that could prolong one’s life span were just too rare, and even using all of the royal clan’s resources had not beared any fruit. Zhou Yuan would never have imagined such information would reach his ears today.
Zhou Yuan licked his lips, determination filling his eyes as he looked towards Zhou Qing, speaking with a pause between each word, “We must obtain the Jade-Infant Fruit!”