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The Dragon

The Dragon By Dec 15, 2023 5 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 113

Chapter 114

After the downfall of the Zuo family, the major families affiliated with them sought an audience with Gu Fuyou. Accustomed to paying regular visits to the Zuo family’s main city to offer tribute and spiritual stones, these families were now looking to establish a new connection.

However, apart from Xiao Zhongting, Gu Fuyou hadn’t met with them. Even during the campaign against the Zuo family, it was mainly Xiao Zhongting who communicated with them, and very few had personally seen Gu Fuyou.

With Gu Fuyou now in control of the Thirty-Three Skies and effectively ruling over Nanzhou, a new era had begun.

As the balance of power shifted, many were eager to align themselves with Gu Fuyou. Lacking a family to call her own, Gu Fuyou was in need of competent individuals to support her. Winning her favor became a coveted goal, as it promised swift advancement for their own families. Yet, this new dynamic wasn’t without its dissenters. Those who had previously been allies of the Zuo family or had refrained from supporting Gu Fuyou during the turmoil harbored a sense of unease. Their main concern was the possibility of retribution, haunted by the fear of being labeled as lingering influences of the Zuo family.

Finally, the day came, bringing joy for some and sorrow for others.

As the representatives from the major families converged upon the Thirty-Three Skies, it was remarkable to note the complete attendance; not a single individual was absent. A quick look around revealed the presence of approximately sixty to seventy people.

On this particular day, their journey took them upwards to the Lihen Tian, all moving towards the Zhuling Platform. Their procession bore a striking resemblance to ministers making their way to a royal court.

Meanwhile, the palace gates, which were under the care of idle slaves, had undergone repairs. The efforts had paid off, successfully mending what was once a shattered entrance, restoring its former grandeur.

Gu Fuyou stood at the watchtower, casually leaning on the railing with her cheek resting on her hand. Her gaze was fixed on the procession below. Among the crowd, she spotted several familiar faces, acquaintances from her own Gu family. While some faces from the older generation eluded her memory, having met them only once or twice, she could easily recognize members of the younger generation. Now leading their respective families, a few of these individuals had made such a lasting impression on her that, despite the passage of time, she could still recall their faces vividly.

Xiao Zhongting approached with a bundle of scrolls. “My Lady, here are the details of those associated with the Zuo family you asked for.”

Gu Fuyou untied the bundle, glanced over the scrolls, then stood up, rolling them back. “Let’s go.”

As they descended from the watchtower, Gu Fuyou glanced at Xiao Zhongting. “You have something to say?”

Xiao Zhongting hesitated, appearing conflicted.

“About the Zuo family?”

“No, my lady, it’s about you.”

“What is it?”

“…”

“Speak freely,” Gu Fuyou said, “You know I’m not one for formalities. There’s no need for caution.”

“Among the prominent families…” Xiao Zhongting hesitated for a moment, “Some family heads… want to propose a marriage alliance with you.”

Gu Fuyou was shocked. After a brief pause, every wrinkle-able part of her face crinkled in displeasure, “With the rumors about me being so fierce, do they really think I’m Gu Fuyou? Don’t they know my family is gone… Are they eyeing Yi’er?!”

“No, not that.” If it was truly about Azure Phoenix, no one would dare harbor such thoughts. After all, the Azure Phoenix Clan looked down upon the human race. Offspring resulting from a union between them and humans are of mixed blood, occupying a very low status, and are despised by the Azure Phoenix Clan.

It was precisely because of rumors about her being Gu Fuyou that some, who had previous interactions with the Gu family or even shared a class with Gu Fuyou, felt somewhat closer to her and harbored hopes.

Seeing the intent gaze Xiao Zhongting fixed on her, she had an epiphany couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity, “Oh, my heavens! They’re interested in me.”

“What do you think?” Gu Fuyou asked Xiao Zhongting.

After some contemplation, Xiao Zhongting answered honestly, “If you wish to win over people’s hearts and unify the prominent families, choosing a prestigious clan for an alliance might not be a bad idea.”

Gu Fuyou lightly flicked her garment near her shoulder, tilted her face, and looked at Xiao Zhongting with a mischievous smile. “Tell them I’m already marked by someone else. Not just in this life, but the next one too, they don’t stand a chance.”

As they neared the Zhuling Platform, the sound of their approaching footsteps caught the attention of those gathered around the steps. As everyone turned to look, Gu Fuyou walked gracefully down the central aisle. Her smile was warm and welcoming as she greeted each person. Reaching the steps, she paused, standing confidently on the first one, her presence commanding the space.

The assembled people waited for her to ascend and sit on the throne. Seeing her remain motionless, they exchanged glances. Collectively, they bowed and addressed her, “Sect Leader.”

Gu Fuyou responded with ambiguity, “Sect Leader? What Sect Leader?”

The crowd was momentarily shocked. Many remained silent, gauging the situation. Someone quickly said, “Of course, you are the Sect Leader of Xu Ling Sect.”

Another person, with a sharper wit, countered, “The Xu Ling Sect was established by the Zuo family, a rebellious and heretical clan. They’ve long been outcasts. We should establish a new sect.”

Gu Fuyou smiled, “Everyone, the reason I’ve invited you here is precisely for this matter.”

“Sect Leader, please speak.” They continued addressing her in the same manner.

Gu Fuyou said, “As you’ve mentioned, the Zuo family is heretical and shunned by all. There are still many members of the Zuo family left, some are on the run, while others are imprisoned in the dungeons of Lihen Tian. Tell me, how should these people be dealt with?”

A silence ensued until a family head said, “As cultivators, we should be benevolent. As the leader of Nanzhou, you should show mercy to demonstrate the difference from the Zuo family, to win people’s hearts.”

Before Gu Fuyou could respond, another voice countered, “Without rules, there’s no order. Those like Zuo Tianlang, who disregarded lives, should not be let off lightly. They must face consequences for their actions. It’s not mercy but hypocrisy to ignore their crimes and let them go unpunished. In my opinion, they should be punished according to their crimes. Recently, you inquired about the details of the Zuo family members. Perhaps this was your intention.”

Gu Fuyou remained silent, lazily lifting her eyes to glance at the speaker.

A family head exclaimed indignantly, “How can we be so merciful? Have we forgotten how the Zuo family treated us? Let them go? Ask the souls under their feet if they agree. How many in the Zuo family are innocent? In this mud, no pure lotus can grow; they’re all wicked devils and should be executed without exception!”

“Merciless killing isn’t the way of cultivators!”

“Good deeds are rewarded, and evil ones are punished. Punish the guilty and spare the innocent. That’s justice!”

“If we don’t remove the roots, the Zuo family might rise again. Remember your kindness when they strike back!”

Gu Fuyou lifted her head to find chaos below. The initial caution had faded, and opinions were loudly shared.

Three factions emerged: total forgiveness, punishment based on crimes, or spare none.

“Since you all have such strong opinions,” Gu Fuyou’s voice wasn’t loud but overpowered all others, silencing them. “Why not take the remaining Zuo family members and deal with them as you see fit?”

“Counting those who have escaped, there are about a hundred people. You all can divide them up, each taking two or three.”

“…”

The crowd was puzzled by her intentions. “Sect Leader…”

Some regained their senses. If the rumors were true and Gu Fuyou’s soul inhabited this body, she should hate the Zuo family the most, and it would be justified for her to wish for complete annihilation. Yet, she was handing these people over to them.

Gu Fuyou scanned the crowd, “Whether you are kind-hearted and want to spare them, or punish them according to their crimes, or even end their lives with a single sword strike, it’s all up to you.”

“This…”

“Unwilling?”

One person eagerly stepped forward, eyes sparkling, and thanked her profusely. Gu Fuyou knew this person held deep grudges against the Zuo family. With someone leading, the rest followed suit, thanking her.

With one leading the way, the rest followed, “Thank you for this reward.”

Gu Fuyou handed the scroll to Xiao Zhongting, “You all may go with Lord Xiao to claim your people.”

Xiao Zhongting would disable the spiritual roots of the Zuo family members and distribute those with grievances to the family heads accordingly.

The members of the Zuo family who were taken away would face a prolonged humiliation and torment. Excellent, it’s time for them to experience the sufferings of life.

With a smile, she entertained the thought of visiting them during her free moments. She knew that without her direct intervention, they were destined to face retribution, enduring a fate far worse than death. In this way, she wouldn’t have to bear the burden of their downfall. Moreover, Zhong Michu would be content knowing she hadn’t laid a finger on them.

Perfect.

Feeling like she had resolved a significant issue, she felt incredibly light.

A family head asked, “Sect Leader, shall we claim them now?” His tone seemed to hurry her.

“Is there something else, family head?”

The person next to him interjected, “Indeed… there’s one more matter we’d like to clarify with the Sect Leader. Historically, prominent families with spirit veins would offer between fifteen million and eight million spirit stones annually, depending on the length of the spirit vein and the size of their city. Those without spirit veins offered between one million and five million spirit stones. We’re wondering if this practice will continue?”

One million spirit stones could sustain a small sect for a year. Gu Fuyou marveled at how the Zuo family exploited the people, causing rapid depletion of Nanzhou’s spirit veins.

“No offerings required. Just manage yourselves well,” she said, as if pitying them for their meager spirit stones.

The crowd was shocked, as if they couldn’t believe what they heard. The practice of offering spirit stones was a norm in all five continents for ten thousands of years, almost like a natural law. They never expected to be exempted. Some had even planned to plead poverty to reduce their offerings, but now they were told none were needed.

Gu Fuyou added a reminder, “The spirit veins in Nanzhou have started to deplete due to the Zuo family’s excessive mining. They need time to recover, so try to reduce your mining in the coming years.”

Seeing the silent crowd, Gu Fuyou inquired, “Is there anything else?”

Finally, a family head regained his composure and hurriedly said, “Finally, a family head regained his composure and said hurriedly, ‘The three sects are demanding an explanation from the Sect Leader regarding the annihilation of a Beizhou immortal sect. If we do not provide one, I fear they may launch a large-scale war against us.”

“I think those people are just fabricating a crime to take advantage of our situation. They probably want to annex us now that Nanzhou has been weakened by the war.” The man seemed to be on Gu Fuyou’s side, perhaps because they felt unified in shared honor and hardship, or maybe because her no-tribute policy was so convincing.

“Sect Leader, what should we do? If it comes to a fight, we’re not afraid.” He said defiantly. Even if they couldn’t win, they still had a Dragon King on their side.

“Hmm…” Gu Fuyou looked towards Scholar Zhai. She subtly shook her head.

Gu Fuyou pondered, considering what her ancestors would have done…

Indeed, confronting the three sects when Nanzhou was still recuperating wouldn’t be wise, especially as it played into Du Pan’s hands.

Gu Fuyou asked, “Is there a family head with good oratory skills who would be willing to represent me in Beizhou?”

One young-looking individual stepped forward, pushed his hands forward in a gesture of respect, and said, “I am willing to go. Does the Sect Leader wish for peace or war?”

Gu Fuyou responded, “Delay them as long as possible.”

“But you should know that if you go as an envoy, they might detain you as a hostage.”  The risks were evident without saying.

“I’m not afraid,” the young man’s eyes sparkled with determination. “I’m willing to sacrifice myself for a noble leader.”

Gu Fuyou felt a strong surge of emotion, not due to the slave contract, but because someone was willing to sacrifice their honor and safety for her.

She felt an overwhelming sensation of being respected and admired, and it made her emotional, almost bringing tears to her eyes. A sense of pride swelled in her chest. It had been such a long time since the common people revered her father. Her father had the aura of a leader that inspired others to risk their lives for him.

She had always been proud and envious of him for that.

So, this was what it felt like to be admired.

Gu Fuyou cleared her throat, feigning seriousness, “You all may leave now.”

With the three major issues discussed, there were still many minor matters that the attendees hadn’t had a chance to bring up. However, with Gu Fuyou’s directive, they had no choice but to depart.

As everyone was leaving, out of the corner of her eye, Gu Fuyou noticed someone. She swiftly approached the man.

The man was turning away when Gu Fuyou called out, “Yuan Sheng, wait a moment.”

Yuan Changsui’s face turned pale. He froze, not daring to turn around. He had once been Gu Fuyou’s classmate and later became her fellow disciple, often taking opportunities to tease and torment her.

Yuan Changsui was inherently talented. He was accepted into the Xuan Miao Sect due to his unique qualities. Having reached the Nascent Soul stage and lived for over seven hundred years, he had aged slightly, but mostly remained unchanged. He had chosen a corner to stand in earlier because he was afraid Gu Fuyou would recognize him. Given the rumors, he didn’t dare face her, fearing she might seek revenge for their past interactions.

Although those incidents occurred during their youth, Yuan Changsui couldn’t help but recall them one by one due to the rumors, leading to restless days and nights.

Gu Fuyou stood in front of Yuan Changsui, “Don’t recognize me?” After a pause, she touched her face and laughed, “Indeed, it would be strange if you did recognize me.”

Yuan Changsui knelt on the ground, swallowing hard, and uttered, “Sect… Leader…”

Gu Fuyou chuckled softly, “I call you Yuan Sheng, yet you dare not call me Gu San anymore.”

“I don’t dare,” cold sweat dripped from Yuan Changsui’s forehead. “I was young, arrogant, and ignorant back then, doing many foolish things.”

Gu Fuyou crouched in front of him, “Do you feel it’s unfair? That the girl who once lagged so far behind you has now soared to great heights.”

Yuan Changsui’s face turned even paler, unable to speak. Gu Fuyou, seemingly enjoying herself, continued, “I also think it’s unfair.”

Gu Fuyou, hugging her legs and seeing him scared like this, laughed malevolently, teasingly, “You may go now.”

Yuan Changsui, feeling as if he had received a royal pardon, quickly got up and took his leave.

“Nowadays, it’s rare to encounter a fellow sect member. If you have time, come to Thirty-Three Skies and talk with me.”

The man shivered at the mention and replied, “Yes,” before hurriedly exiting.

Scholar Zhai watched him leave and asked, “Who is that? He seems terrified of you, as if you might eat him.”

Gu Fuyou stood up and replied, “You could say he was my childhood friend.”

“Really?!” Scholar Zhai exclaimed in surprise.

Gu Fuyou laughed, “He teased me all the time when we were young. After joining the Xuan Miao Sect, we became fellow disciples. Once during a class, he commanded a spirit beast to chase me, and I almost died. If it weren’t for my senior sister’s help back then…”

The more Gu Fuyou spoke, the more animated she became, “Ah, I must tell Zhong Michu that I ran into Yuan Changsui today. I wonder if she remembers him.”

She was about to head off, seemingly eager to meet Zhong Michu, but then remembered that Zhong Michu was in the Eastern Sea.

With a melodramatic sigh, Gu Fuyou reflected on the emotions she experienced upon learning that someone was willing to brave dangers for her, and she thought about her playful teasing of Yuan Changsui. These were feelings and events known only to her, and understood only by Zhong Michu.

“I really miss Zhong Michu.”

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Shakthivel
Shakthivel
7 months ago

Thanks for the chapter…

iviachupichu
iviachupichu
7 months ago

Her master plan is to let everyone else handle it lol
Thank you for the translations!

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Hmm such leniency will be hard to take back in the future. Is it not beneficial to have some sort of tribute or tax to have the capacity to help the provinces that need it more? Although reducing it would definitely be wise, maintaining some kind of tax would make less anger for raises than needing to implem taxes where there were none before. Then again maybe this is all just a part of the strat omo

snoopy
snoopy
4 months ago

Just marry your dragon wifey already 😔

Hatimo
Hatimo
25 days ago

Fuyou wanna be michu’s wifeee pls just get married 😭