News soon spread that following prince consort Xabur's blunder, several powerful clans found themselves exterminated overnight, with the males beheaded and the females enslaved…all, at the exception of Xabur himself.
In a flash, the so-called number one prince consort accrued tremendous scorn and hatred, going from one of the most distinguished personalities of Tel'Hatra to the "son of a bitch" on everyone's tongues.
Helbin's proceeding coming of age ceremony and impending consummation night did very little to change that fact.
Meanwhile, after some clever bribes, Zamira stood at the royal palace's gates, awaiting the right of entry. Behind her, a "slave convoy" carrying an abundance of gifts trailed. The twelve Hidden Moon Pavilion members and her tribeswomen stood within the convoy alongside a massive more than one-hundred slaves she purchased for the occasion.
To avoid being exposed too soon, using her divine-level speed, Zamira made the trip to foreign khanates to purchase those slaves and had one Hidden Moon pavilion expert play some mind tricks on them before packing them within a space treasure and returning to the Northern Khanate.
The convoy counted dozens of mesmerizing spirit slaves, all properly dressed for the occasion.
A royal servant soon returned, bearing with her Zamira's token and right of entry. If there was one topic on which the Barbarian Continent was softer than the Holy Continent, it would be the royal palace's structure. The Barbarian Khans didn't use eunuchs. The reason was simple, barbarian culture wholly loathed the individuals.
Eunuchs were considered worse than slaves, and castration, a punishment worse than death. It was by no means a way to select servants. Instead, they relied solely on women of low status and female slaves to tend to their harems.
Of course, in the case of a khanum (female khan), the situation was reversed.
"Esteemed guest, my superiors reported your arrival to his majesty who appeared quite eager to make your acquaintance. He urges us to bring you in."
The royal servant declared with a polite bow. The startling gift list had immediately grabbed the attention of the Northern Khan who resolve to form strong ties with that foreign slaver. Although, as the Northern Khan, he possessed great wealth, every year, a substantial portion of his state revenues fell into the hands of house Serkar. Those tributes and offerings submitted in the name of "the faith." Always left a sizable hole within his coffers and prevented him from building a strong enough force to fulfill his longstanding dream:
Becoming the Khagan, sole ruler of the barbarian secular world.
Having done her homework, Zamira was naturally aware of this.
She replied with the same bow before stepping in alongside her convoy.
The road from the palace's entrance to the throne room was of more than ten miles. Therefore, just like within the Jade Dynasty's imperial palace, teleportation circles were the common way to go from a location to another. Through them, Zamira's convoy landed before the throne room in less than three minutes.
Guards were deployed to carry the coffers while the slaves followed Zamira into the hall to greet the khan.
Within the spacious hall, a lone man sat on top of an iron throne. And if that was not indication enough, an iron crown also rested on top of his head, clearly marking him as the Northern Khan. Because of their staunch belief that "might makes right," Barbarian Rulers' thrones and crowns were all made of iron.
Iron to remind them of the arms they used to take their crowns, and the same iron to remind them of the brutality they should rely on to keep their rule stable.
With calm and steady steps, Zamira stopped beneath the stairs and knelt before Agir Celek, the Northern Khan.
"Greetings, your majesty, may your reign be long and bloody."
She hailed using barbarian customs. Within their culture, if a khan's reign wasn't bloody, it wasn't memorable.
With a nod, Agir stood up, revealing his 1.92 meters tall body clad in luxurious brown fur that failed to cover his powerful musculature.
With a glance, Zamira could see Agir was less than four-thousand years old with cultivation standing at the peak of the Crossed Tribulation Saint Rank. With one step, he could achieve Star Connection.
Of course, without proper resources, that step would require a substantial amount of time.
But as a hardworking purple-blooded human, Agir was destined to reach the Star Taming Stage. Alas, without profound fortuitous encounters, he would never reach the Divine Rank.
Without a word, Agir waved his hand, releasing the pressure of his holy force which directly slammed into Zamira. Inwardly, she sneered. But to maintain appearances, she teetered and dropped onto the ground, "unable" to stand up.
The cultivation she revealed was merely of the Semi-Holy Rank. Therefore, such a result was natural. However, Agir didn't lose all his vigilance.
Still, he waved for the servants and guards to step out.
"Greetings. I must say it's not every day I meet a trader of such beauty. As a matter of fact, you are a first. Apologies for my rudeness, we live in disturbing times. Some probes are necessary. You may rise."
Agir replied while dispelling his pressure.
"Your majesty's prudence is the Northern Khanate's good fortune."
Zamira replied while standing up. Following her arrival, she'd already spotted more than one Serkar spy, individuals with outwardly low, but inwardly profound cultivations who hid within Agir's staff.
Their existence confirmed the hypothesis she'd formulated beforehand, and she now believed herself at least ninety percent correct. Those hidden spies currently pried on the meeting, unaware that the Hidden Moon Pavilion experts silently assailed them with spiritual attacks.
In a heartbeat, the spies only saw the mirages they were allowed to.
With that handled, Zamira straightened her back, locking a no-longer deferential gaze onto Agir whose eyes contorted into a frown.
"Who are you?"
He directly asked, but no longer doubted he'd invited a wolf into his den.
"You don't need to be on your guard. I'm here to tell you a story. It's the story of a mighty lord who from infancy to adulthood, cultivated like a madman, striving to always be the best, until that pursuit became a reality.
In his teenage days, he made a promise with his childhood sweetheart, pledging to remain celibate until he became the country's number one expert and took the crown. In return, she vowed to await him.
And on the day he vanquished his father, and seized the crown, he fulfilled his promise and made her his wife. Together, they had three children. Two sons, and one daughter. The daughter would turn out to be the barbarian secular world's number one talent."
Hearing this, Agir's frown grew deeper. But the deeper his frown was, the brighter Zamira's smile became.
"This is a rather common story within the Northern Khanate. I wonder why you look so annoyed."
She asked in "confusion." Fury now shone in Agir's eyes, and his frown turned into a glower.
"Allow me to venture a guess, the remainder of the story no one knows of. While he strained himself for his country and strove to remain the best for his wife, the khan failed to realize that in the nights he reviewed state matters and sat crossed-legged in cultivation, another man filled his wife's bed, going balls-deep and creaming her at every turn.
And thus, three children were made one after the other. Though outstanding, the first two were nothing inconceivable. Therefore, they didn't raise the khan's suspicion. Only when…"
Zamira pursued, but before she could finish her words, Agir's eyes went bloodshot, and with a snarl, he shot toward her.
But without even raising her hand, she suppressed him where he stood, forcing him onto his knees with no means to struggle.
"…only when the third was born did the khan realize he'd been duped. Betrayed from the start. That child couldn't be his, her existence putting the paternity of the previous two into question. And soon, he realized…none were his blood. The khan is you, and princess Helbin, the child that allowed you to recognize your wife's unfaithfulness.
She's not just valued by house Serkar. She is…a true Serkar, one of the direct line, and you…a cucked khan."