Living in the Northwest Administrative Province, it could be said that Linley had gotten everything he had desired. In the blink of an eye, he, Bebe, and the second brother, Ankh, had all reached the Saint-level of power. Their group now had four Saint-level experts. Even the three major trading unions or the four major assassin’s guilds couldn’t boast such a number!
This was an extremely powerful, hidden force.
Unfortunately, in the imperial capital, the opposite was true for Wharton.
In the spacious training area in the back part of the manor, Wharton was wildly training with his ancestral heirloom, the warblade ‘Slaughterer’. Sweat was pouring down from every part of his body, but it seemed as though Wharton didn’t feel tired at all, as he continued to train.
Watching quietly, Housekeeper Hiri shook his head to himself.
“Wharton is just like his father. He cares too much about love.” Hiri had watched Hogg grow up, and knew how deep a love Hogg had felt for Linley’s mother, Lina. When Lina had been abducted, Hogg had been in misery for over ten years. The only reason he had endured was because he had to raise Linley and Wharton.
As soon as Hogg felt that Linley and Wharton could grow up on their own, he threw away everything to investigate his wife’s whereabouts. In the end, he paid for it with his life.
“Wharton is the same. His Imperial Majesty didn’t totally cut off all his hopes. He only asked Wharton not to be in such a rush, and that there was no need for the Seventh Princess to marry so soon. But Wharton has become like this…” Hiri kept on sighing.
Housekeeper Hiri didn’t know that it wasn’t just Hogg and Wharton who were like this. Linley was the same as well.
After this bestial growl, Wharton slowly stopped brandishing the warblade in his hands. After having painstakingly trained for so many years, Wharton had already reached a very high level of proficiency with the warblade. The bestial roar that came out just now was one of the hallmarks of the warblade style he had developed.
“Grandpa Hiri.” Wharton looked at Housekeeper Hiri, squeezing a smile onto his face.
After having unleashed all of his frustrations just now, Wharton felt a bit better inside.
“Wharton, don’t be too sad. You and the Seventh Princess still have a chance.” Hiri laughed. “I think the reason His Imperial Majesty has been delaying is because it is very hard for him to choose between you and Caylan.”
Wharton actually understood a great deal about the current Emperor.
He was an Emperor that highly valued human talent, and he was a fairly decisive man as well. But he had one flaw. That flaw was – bias! Extreme bias!
Everyone in the imperial capital knew this.
For example, twenty years ago, the Southeast Administrative Province’s managing clan had made some mistakes. Since they didn’t have the backing of a Saint-level expert, in the end, their clan was ransacked by the Emperor. At the time, many clans had desired to take over the Southeast Administrative Province. But in the end, the Emperor had actually given his one and only younger brother, Duke Julin [Yu’lin], authority over the Southeast Administrative Province.
Anyone the Emperor was close to, he tended to be biased towards.
Caylan’s father, the Imperial Left Premier, Judd Darryl [Jia’de Da’li’er], had grown up alongside the Emperor. They were on very good terms with each other. After the Emperor took the throne, he naturally appointed Judd Darryl to a high rank, eventually appointing him the Imperial Left Premier. He possessed enormous power, and could be described to be second to only the Emperor himself.
The Emperor, being on such close terms with the Imperial Left Premier, naturally was very partial and protective towards Caylan as well.
In addition, Caylan was a very talented, worthy person. It would have been very natural for the Emperor to agree to Caylan’s attempt to woo Nina. However, Wharton was also wooing Nina, and Nina herself liked Wharton. This made the Emperor hesitate.
Caylan and Wharton were both very talented.
He doted on Caylan, but he also doted on Nina.
Caylan’s father was his dear friend and was one of the pillars of the Empire. But Wharton was a Dragonblood Warrior.
This was a very hard choice to make!
“I understand what His Imperial Majesty is thinking. For him to refuse my direct request to be allowed to wed Nina means that it will not be so easy for the two of us to be together.” Wharton sighed.
“Wharton, you need to have some self-confidence.” Housekeeper Hiri encouraged.
Wharton forced out a smile. “Grandpa Hiri, I know what the situation is. In the Empire, His Imperial Majesty’s decree is absolute law. The only person he is afraid of is the War God himself. That’s is why I originally took part in the competition to become an honorary disciple. I wanted to build a relationship with the War God. So long as the War God was willing to assist me, everything would have been set.”
The War God. The true foundation and pillar of the O’Brien Empire.
A single word from the War God could make the Emperor abdicate without daring to say a word of complaint. After all the War God was the founding Emperor of the O’Brien Empire, and he was also a Deity-level expert who stood at the top of the entire Yulan continent.
“Slowly, slowly. Don’t be in a rush.” Housekeeper Hiri consoled.
“Lord Count, the Seventh Princess has arrived.” An attendant walked into the training grounds and said respectfully.
“Nina came?” Wharton was very surprised.
Although the two were on very close terms, Nina rarely came to visit him at his manor. Wharton immediately took a quick rinse, changed into a fresh set of clothes, then went to the main hall to see Nina.
Within the main hall.
A look of happiness was on Nina’s face. The female attendant behind her laughed quietly. “Princess, what sort of expression do you think the Lord Count will have on his face when he hears this news?”
“What sort of expression the big lunk will have?” Nina pondered the question, her laughter becoming all the merrier.
As she thought and chatted, Nina suddenly heard footsteps. Turning, she saw a large, powerful figure walk in, as tall and strong as a wargod. Staring at this familiar figure, Nina felt a sweet feeling in her heart. In her heart, Wharton had already become her mental pillar of support.
“Nina, why have you come to my place? Aren’t you afraid your Imperial father will scold you?” Wharton laughed as he walked in.
Nina pouted. “He can scold me if he wants. I wanted to come.”
Seeing the adorable look on Nina’s face, Wharton felt a gentle, warm feeling in his heart. He sat next to Nina and held her hands. “Nina, judging from the look on your face, I think you are hiding something from me.”
Nina wrinkled her nose, saying delightedly, “I can’t hide anything from you. I want to tell you some good news.”
“Good news? What good news? Has your Imperial father changed his mind and decided to allow me to marry you?” Wharton said casually.
The Emperor’s words were as good as gold. How could he so casually take back what he had said?
“Of course not.” Nina’s smile was very bright.
“Then what is it?”
Nina’s expression grew solemn. “Two days ago, you spoke with my Imperial father, but he didn’t agree. I felt very unhappy, so I thought of something. I went directly to big brother Caylan.”
“You went to find Caylan?” Wharton’s eyebrows shot up. Caylan was his enemy in love. “What did you go find him for?”
Nina giggled. “Okay, stop guessing. I just went to have a good chat with big brother Caylan. I told him that the only thing I felt for him was the affection due an older brother. We grew up together, and he really was like an older brother to me. I asked big brother Caylan to help the two of us. I told big brother Caylan that if I were to leave you, Wharton, I wouldn’t be able to live.”
Wharton suddenly felt deeply moved.
“Big brother Caylan was quiet for a long time, but in the end, he agreed that he would speak to His Imperial Majesty, and that he would abandon his pursuit of me and allow us to be together.” Nina’s smile was incandescent.
“Caylan is giving up?” Wharton was shocked.
Wharton had been in the imperial capital for a long time now, and had interacted with Caylan several times. Wharton could clearly sense the love which Caylan felt towards Nina. He was totally, truly in love with her. And yet, Caylan had decided to give up. Wharton felt very moved, while at the same time, he began to somewhat admire Caylan.
“Big brother Caylan has given up, while the others aren’t much of a threat. As for that Lamonte, in my Imperial father’s heart, he can’t compare to you.” A very happy look was on Nina’s face. “Big lunk, there’s no one who can stop us from being together now.”
There was no way he could stop this sense of excitement and joy from swelling in his heart. The most troublesome, headache-inducing competitor facing him had voluntarily given up. This sort of sudden, unexpected joy made Wharton feel a little giddy and dizzy.
Staring at Nina’s incandescent smile, Wharton felt more moved than he ever had been.
“Right. No one will prevent us from being together.” Wharton held Nina tightly in his arms.
Linley, Bebe, Haeru, Rebecca, Leena, Jenne, Zassler, and Barker and his brothers left Cloudpeaks Village, making their way towards the provincial capital of Basil.
The provincial capital of Basil. The Jacques clan’s castle.
Linley’s group had arrived at the gates.
“Who comes before us?” The castle guards barked at them from far away. The Jacques clan were the local hegemons of the Northwest Administrative Province. Their headquarters wasn’t a place where just anyone could enter.
The fifth of the brothers, Gates, immediately shouted loudly, “Go inform McKenzie that our Lord Linley has arrived.”
“Who is making so much noise outside?!”
A familiar voice shouted. Linley carefully stared in the direction of that voice. Indeed, that gaudily dressed young man, Albert, came rushing out amidst a number of servants.
Seeing Linley’s group, the look on Albert’s face changed.
“You are called Ley, right? How dare you come to my house?” A vicious, sinister look was on Albert’s face. “I didn’t expect that those six people belonging to the Radiant Church wouldn’t be able to kill you. But my Jacques clan isn’t so easily bullied by the likes of you.”
At the same time, Albert also noticed that behind Linley, there was Jenne, as well as Rebecca and her sister.
Jenne’s complexion was as beautiful as a flower petal in a pool of water, while Rebecca and Leena possessed a certain mysterious grace that was extremely mesmerizing.
“How the hell did this guy get so many beautiful women to follow him?” Albert felt extremely aggrieved.
“How dare you come to cause trouble at the gates of the Jacques clan? Men! Seize them!” Albert immediately ordered loudly.
The surrounding guards all charged forward, but before Linley made a single move, Barker and his brothers charged forward.
“Spare their lives.” Linley said calmly.
“Got it.” Gates said excitedly.
“As long as they don’t die, right?” Barker’s eyes held a hint of glee as well. These five brothers had been famous in the Eighteen Northern Duchies as bloodthirsty warlords. When leading their armies, they had killed countless people.
These five enormous siblings were like war machines. They seized one guard after another, as easily as snatching up a chicken, and then casually tossed them like sandbags towards the castle gates. The force of these tosses by the Barker brothers was quite high. These warriors of the fifth and sixth ranks had their bones snapped as soon as they hit the ground.
“You…” Albert was so angry that his entire body was quivering. “You are too arrogant and wild. You dare act like this in front of the Jacques clan?”
“What is going on out here?”
An angry roar could be heard, as another group of people appeared from within the castle. The leader was a middle-aged man with a square face. Albert immediately bowed. “Father, these people are causing trouble at our gates, and they even injured our guards.”
“Oh?” This middle-aged man was the leader of the Jacques clan, Odin [Ao’deng] Jacques.
Odin Jacques stared coldly at Linley’s group.
“Haha, brother Linley, you’ve arrived!” A loud laugh could be heard as a blur suddenly descended from the heavens, appearing in front of the castle gates.
That stiff, ramrod straight back. That white-flecked hair.
Odin and Albert, upon seeing this man, immediately dropped all pretenses of arrogance and immediately bowed respectfully.
“Odin, what are you doing here?” McKenzie looked coldly at Odin.
Odin trembled, not daring to speak. He had heard how McKenzie had just said the words, ‘brother Linley’. He didn’t dare say a word.
“This has nothing to do with this Odin fellow. Only, there’s a small grudge between his son Albert and myself. Thus, he wanted to use the clan’s forces to resolve our private issues.” Linley said with a calm laugh.
“Grudge?” McKenzie nodded.
Casting a single cold glance at Albert, McKenzie turned to look at Odin. “Odin, have Albert go to the prefectural city of Deco to assist his uncle. The provincial capital of Basil is no longer an appropriate place for him to stay.”
Albert’s face instantly turned white.
The provincial capital of Basil was no longer a suitable place for him to stay? This was as good as saying that his position as heir to the clan leadership had just been stripped from him. Moreover, he was being exiled to a prefectural city, and he wasn’t even going to be the city governor; he was just going to assist his uncle. In the future, he wouldn’t even be on Keane’s level.
“Yes, grandfather.” Odin didn’t dare to hesitate in the slightest.
In the Northwest Administrative Province, McKenzie’s stature was the same as the War God O’Brien’s stature in the O’Brien Empire. Even if he wanted Odin to give up his position as clan leader, Odin wouldn’t dare to voice a single word of complaint.
“Brother Linley, I am so very sorry. I was out for a stroll just now, and so I arrived here a bit late.” McKenzie warmly welcomed Linley into his castle.
Smiling, Linley entered the castle alongside McKenzie, with Odin courteously following them from behind. As for the pale-faced Albert, no one paid him any more attention.