Chapter 1197: He came to demand payment

Jin Zi wasn’t staring intently at Mu Linger like the past, but treated her as air after a cursory glance. Han Yunxi noted all this privately and felt even more surprised. “What does Ning Cheng owe you?” she asked coldly.

“When Ning Cheng left Northern Li, he promised to return my private bank to me if I joined him in Yunning Palace. Now I’m here, but he’s fled. Tell me princess, who else can I find to pay me back, if not you?” Jin Zi said calmly.

Mu Linger assumed that Jin Zi was only here for money, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi turned. Jin Zi’s words and actions were full of deeper meanings! From what Han Yunxi understood, Ning Cheng had constantly tried to coax Jin Zi into staying behind and playing the pair of Black Clan heir to the end. But Jin Zi never agreed. 

When Ning Cheng left Northern Li for Yunning, he was obeying orders and coming to get his rewards. After the Ning Clan troops took down Northern Li, Long Feiye was certain to reward them after he claimed the throne! If Jin Zi had agreed to come along, that meant the man had accepted Ning Cheng’s persuasions to accept the rewards with him. In other words, the fact that Jin Zi had returned to Yunning meant he was certain to stay with the Northern Li army!

Now that Ning Cheng had left, Jin Zi didn’t follow and even found them to talk face-to-face. His attitude was obvious. At last, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi understood the meaning of Ning Cheng’s garrison posts in the north! 

If Jin Zi had intentions to stay, then they didn’t need to worry for now. Moreover, with the Black Clan and tiger army overseeing Northern Li, the Ning Clan troops could retreat to the rear lines and silence the various military factions. They would have no chance to censure Han Yunxi, either. 

Ning Cheng’s departure was to advance by retreating! He had truly given Long Feiye and Han Yunxi a huge gift!

Jin Zi took out his tiger tally and offered it up with both hands. “Princess, this is a token of my sincerity. Don’t be a cent short with the private bank’s money!”

Han Yunxi smiled helplessly, but Long Feiye grew unhappy. “You really didn’t see Ning Cheng?”

Jin Zi told the truth. “This tally was originally in his hands. A few days ago, a youth delivered it to me at an inn. Since Ning Cheng’s gone, why bother hunting him down?”

In the past, Jin Zi had a general understanding of the Di Clan and West Qin, but after fighting wars with Ning Cheng in Northern Li for the past six months, he got a better idea of them all. Long Feiye said nothing. Although Ning Cheng had cleaned up Northern Li splendidly and left him no issues, those were only public matters. He had yet to settle his private debts with the man!

Long Feiye might have been preoccupied over the past few months, but he also sent men to find all sorts of potent alcohol. Was this Ning Cheng admitting defeat? Long Feiye wouldn’t accept opponents who gave up!

He said coldly, “If you see Ning Cheng in the future, do me a favor and tell him this crown prince invites him to drink wine!”

“Alright! I’ll remember!” Jin Zi always ended up dead drunk when drinking with Ning Cheng. He was very curious to know who would get drunk first in a contest between Ning Cheng and Long Feiye.

The clueless Han Yunxi was left surprised. Long Feiye would actually ask Ning Cheng out drinking? What kind of plot is hidden in that? Does he want to lure him out? But I don’t think Ning Cheng would show himself.

“Regarding the private bank, you can go to Three-Way Black Market’s East Origin Hall. Someone will make arrangements,” Long Feiye said.

Since Jin Zi had found himself all the way to Han Yunxi to settle his debts, he would naturally help her pay him back.

“Jin Zi, I’ll keep an eye on investigating your origins. I heard Ning Cheng say you miss Wintercrow Country very much…” Han Yunxi trailed off before chuckling. “If you’re interested, His Highness and I will fully support your efforts in the future. Someone needs to look after the slave trade there sooner or later.” 

Naturally, Jin Zi understood the implied hint in her words. She wanted Jin Zi to give up on the slave trade while hinting to him her intentions to take down Wintercrow Country. That way, even if Jin Zi changed his mind one day, he’d have no place to retreat!

“Alright, this one will remember,” Jin Zi said coldly. As he prepared to leave, Han Yunxi stopped him.

“That’s right, I wanted to clarify something so you don’t come asking me for payment later,” she added.

“What is it?” Jin Zi asked.

“You’re not marrying my little sister, are you?” Han Yunxi asked seriously.

Mu Linger never thought Han Yunxi would be so direct. She wanted to bury her head in the table, while Jin Zi was surprised. He assumed their agreement could drag out for a bit longer. If he didn’t give Mu Linger a chance to explain herself, the knot between them would never be untangled. But now…

He finally looked at Mu Linger before asking coldly, “Is she still willing to wed?”

Han Yunxi waited for Mu Linger’s response. The girl lowered her head and didn’t answer.

“Are you still marrying him?” Han Yunxi couldn’t help asking.

“I...I’m not marrying,” Mu Linger muttered. She who always stuck to her promises had finally said no. 

In that moment, Jin Zi’s gaze shifted away from her. This was the result of their one-year agreement: she’d gone gone back her word.

He shrugged and said, “Then I won’t marry her! Farewell!”

So speaking, he turned and walked out without stopping. Mu Linger never thought things would end so easily! After all, back in Northern Li she had lived every day fearing that Jin Zi would hunt her down. She had already prepared herself multiple times to renegade on her promise. 

She knew Jin Zi would be angry at the refusal and might even attack. She had thought of all kinds of ways to persuade her and even threaten him with her big sis and brother-in-law. Who knew that after three whole months, everything ended just like that?

It’s okay just after he said he wouldn’t marry?

Mu Linger lifted her head incredulously. She couldn’t see Jin Zi’s cold face anymore, only his thin, solitary back retreating into the distance. Gradually, his figure vanished from sight.

It’s over just like that?

This man...who’d yearned for his homeland, who wanted to gallop freely across the plains, had chosen to stay in the Northern Li army and take care of the country in the aftermath of its disasters. 

This man...who had forcibly loved and bullied her, who was stubborn and impossible to coax or persuade, gave up with a single sentence.

Jin Zi never asked her about their promise. Mu Linger should have felt a weight off her shoulders, but she had an indescribable feeling instead. She felt that something was wrong with him, but couldn’t say what.

Jin Zi, why didn’t you leave and go home?

When Jin Zi hadn’t chosen to find Mu Linger or go home after burning his indenture agreement, he had probably doomed himself to staying behind forever. Because of that, the irresolute Ning Cheng had finally made up his mind and deployed the Black Clan and tiger army to various locations as a chessboard for Jin Zi and Han Yunxi’s sakes.

--

After Jin Zi’s departure, Long Feiye told Chu Xifeng in a low voice, “Spread the news. Just say I’ve conferred Jin Zi as the Great General of the Northern Garrison Posts and given him full military power over Northern Li.”

Long Feiye knew the general gist of the situation, but leaking news out early like this was to shut up certain restless mouths. After all, with Northern Li’s plague cured, many people had started making Han Yunxi their next target!

Han Yunxi only grinned silently from the sidelines. It was only expected for a married woman to be favored by her husband and supported by her maternal family’s forces. However, the families of the world ranged from the emperor’s court to an ordinary civilian family. Some people simply disliked seeing such logic in practice and would gossip and plot instead. For example, some claimed that married women were made to be bullied, sacrificed, or give up all they had.

There was a good saying for this situation: it was better to rely on one’s maternal family than one’s husband, and oneself rather than one’s family! Only when you yourself were strong could you make everyone fully acknowledge you.

Han Yunxi was strong in all aspects but lacked her own military force. Since the Ning Clan troops were likely to withdraw from the front lines, she would train the Northern Li armies under Jin Zi as a powerhouse belonging solely to herself!

She wasn’t sure how dependable Jin Zi could be, but she could at least rely on him for the next few years. Through borrowing him, she would be able to foster a faction truly loyal to herself. Northern Li was near the Mysterious Continent. Han Yunxi estimated that by the time she finished with her preparations, she might pay a visit to the snow mountains and check on the status of the Ice Sea.

Long Feiye had Han Chen promise to guard the northern frontiers for the next 20 years. She would rather open up Northern Li to the Mysterious Continent, if possible. The other continent’s agriculture and medicine weren’t as developed as the rest of Cloud Realm Continent. Perhaps Northern Li could even turn into a center of commerce! Of course, these were words for later.[1]

Han Yunxi played with the tiger tally that Jin Zi handed over before she grinned. “Long Feiye, this is mine now!”

Long Feiye arched a brow at her, too lazy to reply. As if he could refuse her anything she wanted. He tossed her another command token, which she caught and studied before realizing she’d never seen it before.

It was made of bronze and rather quaint looking. It should be a military token of some sort and had the character for “Command” (令) ling on one side and a map of Cloud Realm Continent on the back.

“This is…” Han Yunxi was lost.

“I ordered it made a while ago, but it was just delivered today,” Long Feiye said as he went to pick up a brocade box. Inside was a few other command tokens, all of them identical to the one in Han Yunxi’s hands except for the map on the rear.

Han Yunxi’s map showed all of Cloud Realm Continent, while the other command tokens only had maps of the east, west, north, south, and central regions. Without a doubt, these were brand new military command tokens. The one in her hands had authority over all armies in the continent.

Cloud Realm Continent was so huge that it needed to be divided up into large, separate military regions. The one who commanded all these regions was also leader of all the armies. However, one had to be extremely prudent in choosing the candidate to wield such absolute military power!

“You have a candidate in mind?” Han Yunxi asked. “Who?”

Long Feiye quirked his lips up in a smile and took the token from Han Yunxi’s hands, playing with it silently between his fingers.

“Tell me!” Han Yunxi grew impatient. If he’s taken out the command token, he definitely has someone in mind. I can’t begin to guess who it is. As far as I know, nobody’s suitable for this spot. Rather than give it to an unworthy candidate, it’s better for Long Feiye to keep it himself.

“Come on, just tell me in secret! I won’t tell anyone! Only Gu Beiyue at most,” Han Yunxi went on.


1. Ok, here’s a question I’d like to know: if the Mysterious Continent is located north of Northern Li, how is it not a frozen arctic? Or are you saying it’s like going from Russia to the North Pole before descending south into North and South America on the opposite side?

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