Chapter 6: Renege
“I’ve waited for you to show up for a long time.”
Jiang Xishui welcomed them with open arms.
Su Chen chuckled, “Are you sure you’ve been waiting, not fearing?”
Jiang Xishui punched him on the arm. “Are you mocking me?”
Then, he sighed, “But you are right. I’ve been afraid. The more I think about your plan, the more afraid I get.”
Su Chen patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, it will get better.”
“You really have that much self-confidence?” Jiang Xishui asked.
“No, I’m just saying that you’ll get used to it,” Su Chen quipped.
As they spoke, the fleet descended. According to Water Sheen’s rules, they would need to pay a visit to the palace first.
The imperial palace was located in the southern region of Mengxiang City, and was connected to the neighboring city with a wide water passage, which allowed for the passage of massive boats.
Su Chen stood at the front of the boat. He was surrounded by tall walls, in which were embedded plenty of cannons and crossbows.
Sets of profound, metallic doors creaked open ominously, like a giant beast baring its maw.
Because these doors were designed to deal with the Sea Beasts, they were exceptionally large and thick, so that even an Ultimate Emperor Realm expert would have a hard time breaking through.
After passing through thirteen such checkpoints, they finally arrived at the imperial palace, where the country’s ruler, Jaing Jusheng, was already waiting for him.
Jiang Jusheng wore a purple robe. His cultured appearance made him look more like a scholar than the ruler of a country.
When he saw Su Chen, he greeted, “I have heard of your name for a long time. It’s my pleasure to finally meet you.”
As he spoke, he bowed slightly to Su Chen in greeting.
People of ancient times were respectful to the wise, especially if they were particularly famous.
Su Chen had been given the nickname of Worldly Sage, and his reputation had spread far and wide at this point. It was only natural that Jiang Jusheng would act in this way.
Of course, Su Chen still needed to give him face as well. “I am not worthy of Your Majesty’s warm greeting.”
“Thank you for being polite.” Jiang Jusheng put his hand on Su Chen’s elbow. “I truly have been waiting for you to come for a long time. It’s my fortune to finally meet you today. Oh, this is my son, Shaohong. Shaohong, greet the visitor.”
A young man wearing a fancy dragon robe bowed and said, “Greetings, Sir.”
His words appeared polite, but his tone was laced with dissatisfaction.
Su Chen knew that this was the Crown Prince, Jiang Shaohong. He smiled slightly and said, “Su Chen greets Crown Prince.”
Jiang Shaohong replied neither warmly nor coldly, “Worldly Sage Su Chen, I have heard many tales of your exploits. You have developed the bloodline-less cultivation techniques, revived the human race, traipsed all across Ravager territory, saved the Heavenly Might Battalion, and even sent the Harpies for a loop. You have quite a bit of ability.”
Su Chen replied, “Crown Prince, you flatter me.”
Jiang Shaohong said, “I am not. Not only has Sir dealt with the foreign races, but you can even influence the Seven Kingdoms now. You even have a say in who commands our country’s navy.
Jiang Jusheng’s expression sank. “Shaohong!”
Jiang Shaohong lowered his head and fell silent, but an unwilling expression was still written all over his face.
Jiang Jusheng said, “My apologies. You know how impetuous the youths can be.”
Actually, Jiang Shaohong was older than Su Chen, but given Su Chen’s status, no one would possibly dare treat him as a junior
Even though Jiang Shaohong’s actions were a bit rude, it was difficult for the Crown Prince not to display any arrogance. In other words, this was the proper way for a Crown Prince to carry himself; being too heroic or magnanimous was equally strange.
Not every ruler of a country needed to be heroic and noble. Some were mediocre, while others were geniuses. It really was quite hard to say.
Jiang Shaohong was definitely not mediocre, but he definitely had no shortage of arrogance and ego.
This was why he had so openly demonstrated his distaste for Su Chen.
He was unhappy because Su Chen had broken the traditional rules of Water Sheen by nominating Jiang Xishui for Commander-In-Chief of the Subdued Sea branch of the navy.
Even though Su Chen had paid a tremendous price to accomplish this, Jiang Shaohong didn’t care what price Su Chen had paid. After all, he was the one being damaged by this exchange; none of the benefits would go to him.
He had more than enough reason to be unhappy with Su Chen.
Perhaps this was also why Jiang Jusheng hadn’t said much else other than warning Jiang Shaohong.
Upon entering the hall, Jiang Jusheng revealed a large spread that he had already prepared for Su Chen.
The two parties sat down before Jiang Jusheng said, “Are you still here to discuss the same thing as last time?”
“Yes,” Su Chen said with a nod. “I’d like to borrow the Subdued Sea branch of the navy.”
“Embarking on an expedition to the sea in order to fight some Sea Beasts.”
“If you’re just fighting some Sea Beasts, we’ve been doing that the whole time.”
“I need to do it my way.”
“Tell me how. It’s not something we won’t consider.”
“There’s nothing to tell. It's a temporary secret.”
Jiang Jusheng fell silent.
After a long while, he said, “The Subdued Sea branch is a crucial part of our military strength. It cannot be lost.”
Su Chen calmly replied. “That’s why I paid enough to purchase the entire branch in the first place.”
Five years ago, in order to convince Jiang Jusheng to place Jiang Xishui in command of the Subdued Sea branch so that he would be able to borrow them, Su Chen had given them a sizable amount of benefits.
These included an improved version of the Jiang Clan’s bloodline, a few secret techniques that had been upgraded, some rare cultivation resources, and a large amount of money.
Just because Su Chen didn’t use money didn’t mean that it wasn’t important. Many of the continent’s cultivation resources were still purchased using money.
Any such commodity that could be traded was useful.
Water Sheen wasn’t exactly strapped for cash, but any emperor was always in need of more resources.
The more money they had, the more areas they needed to spend on.
Su Chen’s deposit was not enough to completely rebuild the Subdued Sea branch from scratch, but it was at least enough to rebuild half of it.
Of course, Jiang Jusheng would not have agreed to sell the branch even if Su Chen had offered enough money. An army was an army, and their value was not measurable by money alone.
But he could consider allowing Su Chen to use them for a certain period of time.
Especially if the other party was going to pay up front and use the army later.
Jiang Jusheng was happy to agree to Su Chen’s conditions.
Five years passed just like that.
Su Chen had come to Water Sheen to claim what was rightfully his - what Jiang Jusheng had promised to give him.
But it appeared that Jiang Jusheng wasn’t planning on just giving it to him painlessly.
After some time, Jiang Jusheng said, “I can lend you the Subdued Sea branch, but only under a few conditions.”
Su Chen didn’t take the bait. He said, “I thought that we had agreed on all the conditions five years ago.”
Jiang Shaohong immediately said, “That was then, but this is now. How can you even mention them in the same sentence?”
Su Chen glanced at him, then at Jiang Jusheng. Jiang Jusheng made no attempt to stop the Crown Prince from speaking.
Su Chen understood what was happening.
He said, “What are your conditions, Your Highness?”
“You may use them for a year, but you must make sure to bring back at least eighty percent of them back alive. The deposit will be five billion Origin Stones, and if less return with you, we will deduct accordingly,” Jiang Shaohong said quickly.
It seemed that they had prepared these conditions some time ago.
Su Chen chuckled. “Your Highness, are you joking?”
“Do I look like I’m joking?” Jiang Shaohong jutted out his chin.
Su Chen ignored him, turning instead to face Jiang Jusheng. “Your Majesty, we had agreed earlier on a loan period of three years for two billion Origin Stones. In return, I promised that I would bring back at least seventy percent of the army with me, with penalties if I failed to do so. How come the conditions have suddenly changed? And now there is a huge discrepancy. Are you planning on opening your greedy mouth now?”
Jiang Jusheng sighed. “Prince Su, please understand my position. I am the emperor of Water Sheen, and my responsibility is to guard the entrance into human territory. That is not a light responsibility!”
Su Chen coldly said, “The human race is constantly under attack from all fronts by the Ravagers, the Harpies, the Beasts, and the Astrals. Which of the seven countries have it easy? If Your Majesty felt that the agreement was untenable, you didn’t have to agree. It doesn’t look good to go back on your word now.”
“How is this going back on our word?” Jiang Shaohong arched his eyebrow. “We’re just changing the conditions slightly. This is not at all excessive.”
Su chen said bluntly, “I think it’s extremely excessive. It seems that Water Sheen has no intentions of cooperating with me any longer. If that’s the case, then I won’t need to borrow the Subdued Sea branch any longer. Please return to me the money that I had given to you previously.”
Jiang Shaohong immediately said, “You don’t have to borrow the navy, but we have already used up the money you have given to us and won’t be able to return it all.”
At this rate, they would soon be publicly reneging on their debt.
Su Chen glanced at Jiang Shaohong. “Won’t be able to return it?”
He turned to face Jiang Jusheng. “Your Majesty, are you planning on reneging on your debt?”
“How am I reneging?” Jiang Jusheng replied calmly. “If you won’t borrow our services, we can repay you, but it will take some time.”
Su Chen asked, “How much time?”
Jiang Shaohong chuckled, “I imagine it would probably take about a hundred years or so.”
Everyone was stunned when they heard this.
Jiang Xishui also grew agitated. “Father!”
Jiang Jusheng shot him a fierce glare.
“A hundred years?” Su Chen was greatly amused. “You’ve really planned this out, haven’t you? I didn’t even ask you to pay me interest for my five year loan, but it’s going to take you a hundred years to pay me back my initial investment?”
Jiang Shaohong calmly replied, “Watch what you say. We at least fulfilled part of our bargain, and that should be enough to offset the cost.”
“What part of the bargain?”
Jiang Shaohong jutted out his chin. “Of course, we made my younger brother commander of the Subdued Sea branch. Wasn’t that part of the agreement? He has already been the commander for five years, so our delaying is not too excessive.”
Not excessive! Su Chen was so angry that he began to laugh.
He glanced at Jiang Xishui.
Jiang Xishui immediately stood. “Eldest brother, what are you doing?”
“You still don’t understand?” Jiang Shaohong glared at Jiang Xishui. “You colluded with an outsider to take control of the navy, and thus the entire country.
Jiang Shaohong slammed his palm on the table and stood up.
Jiang Xishui stared at his own brother, hurt. “Eldest brother, you know I’m not like that. I have never had any ambition for the throne.”
Jiang Shaohong harrumphed, “You may not have ambition, but who knows about the people by your side? Sometimes, the decision isn’t up to you!”
As he spoke, his gaze drifted towards Ji Hanyan.
So he was apprehensive about Ji Hanyan?
Well, that made sense.
Ji Hanyan was a woman who did as she pleased.
Was there anything wrong with placing particular care on this kind of woman?
Suddenly, at that moment, a clear clanging sound interrupted Jiang Shaohong’s words.
A cup of fragrant wine slammed into Jiang Shaohong’s head. Wine poured down his head, covering his entire body.
Even with Jiang Shaohong’s skill, he was still unable to dodge in time.
“You?” He stared
Ji Hanyan calmly retracted the cup in her hand as she coldly spat, “Trash!”