A thousand miles sealed in ice, ten thousand miles of brisk northern gales.
Just outside the Northern Kingdom was an encirclement of seemingly endless icy mountains. The heart of the kingdom was, however, the exact opposite: birdsong and the fragrance of flowers filled the air. It was a pleasant spring day.
The old-fashioned stone-tiled streets made it seem like a city of the God Realm.
Peddlers lined the streets, hawking their wares. There were also companies of traveling merchants rushing back after successful treasure hunts.
Ye Zichen wore a straw hat he’d just purchased from a street vendor. The coins of the God Realm were usable here. Just a single aureus was enough to buy a handmade straw hat. The vendor was an older gentleman married to a yao woman. To give him extra business, Ye Zichen had bought quite a few hats. This was in part out of pity; based on the man’s aura, he was at least a sky supreme. Although at his age, this cultivation wasn’t anything to write home about, he shouldn’t have been reduced to selling handmade goods by the side of the street.
But part of it was that his hats were extremely well made. Ye Zichen bought a few to give away as gifts.
“The Northern Kingdom is rather unique.” As Ye Zichen took in the endless flow of passersby, he couldn’t help but chuckle.
The people here included a mix of gods and yao. In a time when relations between the upper three realms were tense and ambiguous, for this place to preserve its harmony and happiness was impressive. Just looking at the citizens’ gazes, it was clear that, on the whole, the people here were happy.
“The king of the Northern Kingdom is, according to legend, married to a human woman, and he’s always had a good impression of humans. He’s also always tried to work towards peaceful coexistence between the two races, and his citizens have followed suit. The people here are perfectly happy to date and marry human experts. You ought to be able to see that just by looking around.”
Everything the Great Sage was true; god-race experts were all over the place, and the locals clearly didn’t discriminate against outsiders. They were even friendly to visitors.
Furthermore, they saw yao partners next to quite a few of the gods, and from the looks in their eyes, both parties were happy. This was in stark contrast with the other yao kingdoms, especially nowadays.
“This is actually quite a nice place. If I get the chance, I’d like to get to know the king of the Northern Kingdom.”
Ye Zichen nodded and chuckled, then arched his brow at the Great Sage. “You’ve returned. How do you feel?”
The Great Sage visibly started, but soon recovered. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Still pretending? Yang Jian told me everything. When the three of us took a trip to the Yao Realm, your destination was the Northern Kingdom. Zixia is here, isn’t she?” Ye Zichen laughed. “Although I don’t believe the part about her cuckolding you.”
“His words are nothing but farts.” The Great Sage scowled.
“As expected,” Ye Zichen said with a playful laugh. “If she’s still holding out for you, why did you just leave without saying a word? We’re back, so how about your bro lends a hand and helps you carry her off, back to the God Realm? That’s our territory, so even if she’s from a major family, they’ll be helpless against us.”
The Great Sage kept silent. Ye Zichen kept gleefully needling him. “Do you need a hand or not? If so, just say it!”
“If I wanted to just carry her off, I would have done it a long time ago,” said the Great Sage. “Zixia’s clan isn’t that big in the scheme of things.”
When he brought her up, his expression was melancholy. “Don’t get involved in our affairs. I know what I’m doing.”
“Alright then.” Ye Zichen nodded. “If you need me, just say the word.”
The Great Sage nodded gently, then changed the subject. “Right, didn’t you say you had business to attend to in the Northern Kingdom? I’m surprised you’re in the mood to explore.”
“It’s important to balance work and play. We’re already here, so let’s take a look around.” Ye Zichen looked up, then examined the restaurant to the side. He’d planned on touring the place, so when he saw it, his brow shot up. “Let’s go in and have a drink. The yao servants in the pagoda say that the yao make excellent wine, and that the Northern Kingdom’s rose wine is particularly fine. Let’s go in and try some.”
“But our business…”
“Just come with me!”
The Great Sage found he couldn’t argue, so he reluctantly followed Ye Zichen into the restaurant. As soon as he did, a tall, stalwart man with a washcloth slung over his shoulder came forth to greet them.
“Welcome. This way, please,” said the waiter, pointing to seats by the window. Ye Zichen nodded, then started to walk over. The Great Sage had his head lowered, but before he could even take a seat, the waiter got a good look at him. “Oh? You’ve been here before, haven’t you, sir? You brought a friend to sample our rose wine. Forgive me if I say I’m saying too much, but this time, we can’t let you purchase our entire stock.”
The Great Sage had only just sat down, but he suddenly went green in the face. Ye Zichen laughed, then glanced at him. Finally, he hid his smile and said to the waiter, “Two jugs of rose wine will be plenty. Please bring some of your signature dishes as well.”
“Coming right up!” The waiter headed back toward the kitchen. Meanwhile, the atmosphere at Ye Zichen and the Great Sage’s table was rather strange.
“What kind of restaurant is this? They didn’t even wipe the tables off. Let’s go, Ye-zi,” said the Great Sage.
Didn’t even wipe the tables off? In fact, the tables were so clean, you could use them as mirrors. Ye Zichen immediately understood the Great Sage was deliberately picking fault.
“They’ve got rose wine here.”
“Let’s drink somewhere else. Any restaurant or tavern in the country has it, so let’s go to one of the others,” said the Great Sage.
“Sir, I’m afraid that’s simply not the case,” said the waiter, walking back with two jugs of wine. “It’s true that any restaurant or tavern in the country has rose wine, but we’re the top seller by far. Do you know why? It’s because our rose wine is far more delicious.”
“That’s right! If you want rose wine, the Rose Tavern is the place to do it.” The other diners chimed in their support.
Just as Ye Zichen’s smile broadened, the Great Sage’s eyes flashed with gold, startling everyone present. He swiped the bottles the waiter was carrying, then glared, urging Ye Zichen to leave faster, the quicker the better.
Just now, the Great Sage had revealed his full imperial-level ruler aura. The waiter was a minor yao, nothing but an earth supreme. How could he possibly bear it? He gulped, then ran off in panic.
“Is it really okay to threaten people like that?” asked Ye Zichen. He reached out, plucked a bottle, leaned his head back, and drank. “Good stuff.”
“Ye-zi, don’t we have business to attend to? You were in such a rush on our way over, but now that we’re here, you want to just wander around and sightsee. That’s no good, is it?” A play to reason. Ye Zichen had known the Great Sage for quite some time now, but he’d never seen him act like this.
His expression was frantic, and his nerves were taut.
Also, the waiter had just said that last time he was here, the Great Sage had cleaned out their entire supply of rose wine. It seemed that, when he and Yang Jian went in search of the fairy Zixia, quite a bit had happened, much of which Ye Zichen knew nothing about.
Ye Zichen married his eyes and covered up a smile. “We’re here, so there’s no need to rush. You…. can just take it easy and enjoy some rose wine. Based on what the waiter said, it seems you’re rather fond of the stuff, or you wouldn’t have cleaned out their entire storeroom, yeah?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter