Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
Ye Futian fell silent, finally understanding why during his visit to his teacher at the Holy Zhi Palace, both Sage Jingang and his teacher had not wanted him to interfere in this matter.
Sage Jingang and his teacher both knew that this entire affair was the will of the Palace. Nothing would change just because of one individual’s objection. Ye Futian laughed self-deprecatingly at the thought before asking, “So, Uncle, how do you feel about this?”
Zhuge Qingfeng replied, “This is the first time my teacher has written a letter to me to request anything. These could even be his last words. This arranged marriage came about through the will of the Palace, the White Cloud City, and the Zhuge Family. My peers, my seniors even, they all approve very much of this marriage. Not just them, but many powerful people in Xuanwu City, are awaiting this eagerly as well.”
He then continued, “Just like everyone said back there at the banquet, there has not been an arranged marriage that has elicited a response as huge as this. Nor has any marriage been under the scrutiny of so many powerful people before this.”
Zhuge Qingfeng looked at Ye Futian. “So, tell me, how do you think I can feel about this?” Zhuge Qingfeng may have been an incredibly powerful man who was sixth in the Barren Sky Ranking, but he too had his considerations. He could not just do as he wished. Other than the fact that his daughter Zhuge Mingyue would not be happy, all the other aspects of this arranged marriage could be said to be perfect. If Zhuge Mingyue did not already have someone she liked, then Bai Luli would have been the best partner for her. There would be no one else in all of the Barren State who was as eligible as he was.
“Then why are you speaking to me about this, Uncle?” Ye Futian asked.
Zhuge Qingfeng replied, “It’s rare that someone like Bai Luli would appear in the Barren State. And now, there is you and Yu Sheng. You two may be young and of a low plane, but you have great potential and your future is bright. You are a student of the Holy Zhi Palace, Mingyue’s Little Brother, and Jieyu’s beloved. I don’t wish for you to become involved in this matter. I can somewhat hazard a guess at what Mingyue is thinking. If he really were to come here, Mingyue would probably give everything up for him. But under such circumstances, would that really be able to change anything?” By ‘him,’ Zhuge Qingfeng was referring to Gu Dongliu.
“So, am I to sacrifice my Older Sister for the greater good?” Ye Futian chuckled. “My teacher gave me the same advice previously, but he still let me come here. And I am but a selfish person. I don’t care for the greater good. I still think that you all are wrong. Even if this is the will of the entire Barren State, it is still wrong.”
The Holy Zhi Palace may have acted out of the intention to have a saint grace the land again, and not out of selfish motivations. But the same could not be said for the White Cloud City. Bai Luli was the son of the City Lord of White Cloud City. It was no surprise that the family would be overjoyed at this turn of events. And what about those people from the Zhuge Family? There was currently no saint within the Barren State, and Bai Luli seemed the best positioned to reach the level of a saint with his potential. The Zhuge Family would naturally look forward to having a saint for a son-in-law. This was an equally sweet bargain for the Zhuge Family as well.
So, behind all this talk about the greater good, selfish motivations were still at play. No one cared about how Ye Futian’s Second Older Sister felt. And since no one cared about her feelings, who were they to make her sacrifice herself?
Zhuge Qingfeng looked at Ye Futian and smiled. He did not get angry. Instead, he said, “I’m glad Mingyue has a Little Brother like you. However, the mere concept of right and wrong has never been able to stop the affairs of the world.
“You should go back,” Zhuge Qingfeng told Ye Futian, before falling silent.
Ye Futian bowed slightly, before leaving the Qingfeng quarters. Zhuge Mingyue did not leave with him. Instead, she watched his disappearing figure with a radiant smile.
“You’ve seen him for yourself now, how do you feel?” she asked her father.
Zhuge Qingfeng looked at his daughter and mused, “I do understand why you were so full of praise for him now. He really is an outstanding young man, not just in terms of ability, but also in terms of personality. I like him very much.”
“Little Brother already confessed he was a selfish person with no conception of the greater good, why do you still like him?” Zhuge Mingyue questioned her father further.
“I too am a selfish man. The people of the Zhuge Family, my Older Brother over at White Cloud City, all of them are selfish too.” Zhuge Qingfeng smiled and said, “There has never been an absolute saint in this world we live in. Even a Sage would still have feelings, with their own likes and their own emotions. As such, there will always be a selfish side to everyone. He dared to fight against the will of the Palace for you without bothering to hide his selfishness. At least he’s honest about it, unlike many people who mask their greed with proclamations of acting for the greater good.”
“Looks like you understand, after all, Father,” Zhuge Mingyue responded.
“Even if I do, I still can’t do anything about it. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered to think about these things anymore.” Zhuge Qingfeng looked at his daughter and advised, “Bai Luli is not a bad character either. If you really are to marry him, then you’ll only be husband and wife in name, he won’t force you to do anything. Don’t do anything rash, you still have a long time to live.” As he spoke, Zhuge Qingfeng turned to leave.
Zhuge Mingyue watched as her father left the room. She didn’t know he still had her interests at heart. However, the concept of being husband and wife only in name felt impossible to her. Zhuge Mingyue chuckled self-deprecatingly before staring at the sky in a daze. Her days at the Cottage were so much more lighthearted. There was nothing to worry or trouble her.
When Ye Futian returned, his heart felt heavier, as if an external force was pressing down upon him. Too much was riding on this arranged marriage, which made him feel helpless. Just like what Luo Fan said, the challenge he was facing here was even greater than what he had faced back at the Alchemy City. Ye Futian didn’t even know where to begin untangling this mess.
From Zhuge Qingfeng’s attitude, Ye Futian could tell that this man, who was sixth in the Barren Sky Ranking, was not unreasonable or ignorant. It was just that there were many things and responsibilities that were honestly beyond his personal control. As such, despite his position as the head of the Zhuge Family, he has had to concede and compromise.
Taking out the Soul Guqin, Ye Futian sat quietly at the courtyard, playing a tune. When other people heard the music, they could sense Ye Futian’s emotions within. Hua Jieyu sat nearby, not disturbing Ye Futian. Yu Sheng, on the other hand, had gone off to for a solo training session. When one was unable to do anything, it seemed like training to improve one’s capabilities was the only way out.
The days passed, and news had spread all over the vast Barren State. Xuanwu City gradually became busier as many important figures from all over the state came down to visit. This marriage marked an alliance between White Cloud City and the Zhuge Family, making it especially significant. As such, the engagement banquet between Bai Luli and Zhuge Mingyue was a bigger deal than Xue Ye and You Xi’s wedding ceremony. All the top powers of the Barren State were obliged to attend, and even if they weren’t happy with the arrangement, they showed up at the banquet still. This marriage was set to shift the dynamics of power within the Barren State.
This was the first time the Holy Zhi Palace had interfered in such a matter, in a departure from their usual practices. Many influential individuals knew what this was for. This was all for Bai Luli, the incomparably powerful figure of the Barren State.
Crouching Dragon Mountain was equally crowded as well. Many people had come to visit in advance, awaiting the start of the engagement banquet. In a part of the mountain, an important visitor was pacing about in the house. His pacing came to a gentle halt, and his eyes flashed as he cocked his head to listen to the strains of guqin music coming into the room. The artistic conception of the music was extraordinary and attracted one’s attention instantly.
Spiritual Energy emanated from the visitor, and he sent it in the direction of the guqin music. Immediately, the music became more clearly audible. As the music played, his expression turned solemn, as if it had roused feelings of awe within him. The people around the visitor did not disturb him. Instead, they waited patiently.
In truth, everyone in the Zhuge Family knew that there would often be sounds of guqin playing coming from Mingyue’s quarters. It was music of extraordinary artistic conception, and even the influential visitors would pay attention when the guqin playing started, basking in the extraordinary nature of the music.
After a long while, the visitor asked, “Who’s playing the guqin?”
“It’s Ye Futian,” the member of the Zhuge Family who was hosting him replied.
“Is it the Ye Futian who’s at the top of the Law Rank in the Holy Zhi Palace?” the visitor asked. People from the outside world generally knew little about the happenings within the Holy Zhi Palace. However, they would still pay some attention to news about who had become first in the Law Rank. Furthermore, Ye Futian had also raised quite the furor back at Alchemy City. Many influential guests had been there then, which was why most people in the Barren State had at least heard of Ye Futian.
“Yes.” The other person nodded.
“A formidable young man he is.” The visitor nodded his head in admiration before asking further, “What piece is this?”
“It’s the Ukiyo Song,” came the answer.
“No wonder, no wonder” The visitor mumbled before he walked away, chuckling heartily. The Ukiyo Song was one of the ten most famous songs written by Donghuang the Great. It contained the lofty aspirations of an emperor. Furthermore, it was rumored that this song had been written while the two emperors were still young. Back then, Donghuang the Great had already been harboring ambitions of conquering the world.
What were Ye Futian’s intentions in playing this song within the Zhuge household now?
At that moment, Ye Futian was playing the guqin quietly in Mingyue’s quarters. Actually, he was not playing according to the true artistic conception of the Ukiyo Song. In order to play the complete Ukiyo Song, a person of his current state would need a boost with the will of the emperor in order to fully attain the true artistic conception of the song. But even as Ye Futian played the song for fun, his playing was still magnificent nonetheless.
As the guqin music rang out across the room, Ye Futian’s Spiritual Energy emanated into the space as well. The image of an emperor writing ‘The World’ while raring to realize his lofty ambitions came to his mind. At the same time, Ye Futian could sense the natural order of the world present within this artistic conception. This was a form of training for him as well.
Now that Ye Futian was an upper-level noble and was able to catch hints of Sage Intent, he needed a clearer understanding of the power within the natural laws in order to transcend to the Sage Plane. As he understood the power, his Spiritual Energy was gradually increasing as well. Ye Futian could feel that the amount of Spiritual Energy he possessed was fast approaching that of a grade two noble’s.
Xuanwu City, which was at the base of Crouching Dragon Mountain, was bustling with activity. Huge numbers of people had arrived, and inns everywhere were fully booked. This was especially true for inns closer to Crouching Dragon Mountain.
In a restaurant not far from Crouching Dragon Mountain, a man in white sat quietly at a table on the third-floor veranda. He ordered a few side dishes and a pot of wine. He wore a bamboo hat that covered his face. Most people in the restaurant were discussing the same topicthe engagement between Bai Luli and Zhuge Mingyue. The discussions were lively, and many people were excited about this turn of events. However, the man in white and a bamboo hat did not seem to hear the discussions going on around him. He sat there quietly, and after a long while, he set down a spirit stone on the table. After lifting his head to glance in the direction of Crouching Dragon Mountain, he left by himself.