When Wen Ziqi saw that Jiang Chen had recognized her, she felt both shy in her heart and a kind of sweet joy.
Screwing up a courage that she had gotten from somewhere, this young girl who liked to blush gathered up her pluck and spoke lowly in the voice of a mosquito, “I heard that you were recruiting for your personal guard, so I hurried over to see if I could help you.”
Princess Gouyu had leveraged the power of the royal family to announce this news far and wide throughout all the territories. Jiang Chen hadn’t thought that Wen Ziqi would set out on this long trek from far, far away.
Judging from her body covered in dust from the road, she must have started on her way as soon as she heard the news.
Jiang Chen blanked momentarily and asked, “Has your honored master agreed for you to come?”
When her honored master was mentioned, Wen Ziqi’s body trembled slightly. Her right hand lightly twisted the bottom of her shirt, her fingers twisting around each other and appearing as if she was quite conflicted.
Jiang Chen smiled involuntarily. It looked like Wen Ziqi had snuck out behind her honored master’s back.
Wen Ziqi hastily spoke upon seeing Jiang Chen’s smile, “Honored master wouldn’t stop me even if she knew. She dotes on me the most.”
Jiang Chen nodded. “Ah well, I happen to be short one person here. If Miss Ziqi doesn’t feel that it’s beneath you, then you can fill in this spot.”
“Really?” Wen Ziqi was overjoyed upon hearing this words. She had been worried all along that she would be too late, worried that all the spots would be taken and there would be no place for her.
Who would’ve thought that she would make it just in time for the last spot.
Jiang Tong smiled upon seeing the gentle and refined Wen Ziqi, “Chen’er, do you know this young lady?”
“Mm. We were acquainted with each other that day when I was executing my mission in the Tianhu territory. We’ve met several times now. Her identity and personality are pretty dependable.”
“Alright, since this is the case, we have successfully decided on all eight spots.” Jiang Tong also heaved a sigh of relief. He hadn’t been satisfied with any of the applications for the last spot.
It was naturally for the best that someone Jiang Chen approved of could fill the spot.
“Chen’er, they say that an acquaintance may not sow discord amongst intimate friends. You would rather recruit an outsider than have the son of your uncle. Where is the logic in this? Have I, your aunt, offended you somehow?”
Just as Jiang Chen was speaking, a luxuriously dressed, heavily made up woman swiftly dashed to the front of Jiang Chen and started complaining to him.
Jiang Chen recognized this woman from his past self’s memories. She should be his aunt, and the birth mother of that Lan Yizhou.
“Aunt, Uncle is a vaunted chief, younger cousin Yizhou will be able to make a name for himself in ways other than being in my personal guard. Why not give the the opportunity to those who need it more?”
Jiang Chen had to nicely persuade her as he had no desire to be entangled with a shrew.
“So what if he’s a big chief? That can only be passed onto one son, then the second son’s fortune and prosperity will be out in the cold. If he hangs around you, it will be the work of only a word from you to bestow a tribe onto your cousin Yizhou to rule over when you’re a duke in the future. Chen’er, let me tell you something. Your uncle spent quite a bit of effort into looking after your mother before she married. Now that your mother isn’t here, seeing your aunt is the same as seeing your mother. Although Yizhou is your cousin in name, what’s the difference between that and your younger brother by blood? You can’t disregard his matters. Can you bear to…”
“Aunt, younger cousin Yizhou is only of five meridians true qi. I’m powerless to take action even though I have a mind to help him accomplish his aims. I won’t be able to satisfactorily complete my mission. If you love this nephew, Aunt, then surely you won’t let me suffer defeat in the Hidden Dragon Trials? If I’m defeated, then how will Uncle hang onto his position as a big chief?”
“Eh?” The woman was momentarily dumbfounded upon hearing that her man may not even keep his position as a big chieftain.
Jiang Chen smiled and took this opportunity to leave.
Jiang Tong pronounced the shortlist of candidates at the scene.
“Guo Jin from the capital, the direct grandson of royal tutor, Guo Shun.
Qiao Shan, Qiao Chuan, nephews of the third hallmaster of the Hall of Healing.
Wen Ziqi from the Star Argus Palace of the Tianhu territory, old acquaintances with the young duke Jiang Chen.
Xue Tong, Yinglan Tribe of the Jiang Han territory, maternal cousin of the young duke.
Ke Mu, Summer Tribe of the Jiang Han territory, six meridians true qi.
Shen Yifan, Jade Dragon Tribe of the Jiang Han territory, six meridians true qi.
Bi Yun, Iron Mountain Tribe of the Jiang Han territory, six meridians true qi.”
The recruiting meeting was over when Jiang Tong concluded his announcement. Many of the families whose sons hadn’t been selected were all secretly dejected.
They had had a prime opportunity, but missed it.
“Will the chiefs of the ten big tribes please adjourn to the duke’s manor for a banquet. The families of the other smaller tribes are discharged. Travel back to your areas with no loitering.” Jiang Tong pronounced afterwards.
The convergence of all these powers on River Wave City was also a latent danger for the city. Since the mission was concluded, they naturally had to disperse.
Apart from Jing Man, the chiefs of the ten large tribes were all present. They naturally wouldn’t give up the chance to repair relations when they heard that the duke’s manor was even feting them with a banquet.
Except, the nine chiefs were all curious as to why the chief of the Redbud Tribe, Jing Man, was nowhere to be seen when even the name of the duke had been brought out?
This Jing Man was normally imperiously domineering, but had he dared openly defy the duke’s name this time? This was really out of line!
One had to know that if a tribe defied the orders of the duke, then they would be punished!
The tribal chiefs brought these doubts with them to the banquet. Apart from the young duke Jiang Chen, all the Jiang family elders, including Jiang Tong, were present.
“Everyone, this time’s banquet is first to reward you for always rushing about on Jiang Han territory business, and secondly to announce a matter of great importance to everyone.”
Jiang Chen personally raised his glass as he one by one met the eyes of all the chiefs with a cool gaze, showing a relaxed confidence of superiority flowing through his eyes.
All of the chiefs felt a cold shiver travel down their backs when they were swept by Jiang Chen’s gaze. They felt a vague hint of something big about to happen.
“Jing Man has had no respect for his superiors and has come to the duke’s manor on multiple occasions to behave wildly. He has even gone so far as to publicly challenge the duke’s authority this time. He has been captured on my orders and is being held secretly!”
“Jing Man, held secretly?”
This news also caused the faces of the chiefs, rulers of their own locality, to change drastically.
This was Jing Man! In the entire Jiang Han territory, Jing Man was the cream of the crop when it came to being domineering. Apart from Jiang Feng being able to suppress this person, even the other chiefs had to display a certain weakness in front of him.
Even Jiang Feng, the Duke of Jiang Han, had to think twice before taking action against Jing Man. But the young duke had taken Jing Man without the slightest change in his voice or composure.
“Well done! This Jing Man has always been domineering without boundaries, and his reputation is exceedingly poor amongst all the great tribes!” The first to speak up was naturally the chief of the Yinglan Tribe, Jiang Chen’s uncle Lan Tianji.
“Right, it isn’t the first time that Jing Man has gone to the duke’s manor to behave atrociously and make a scene. He is receiving his just desserts in being punished. Something was bound to happen sooner or later if he wasn’t taken care of.”
“The young duke is brilliant and wise! However, the influence of the Jing family of the Redbud Tribe is widespread and far reaching. Since Jing Man has been captured, the Jing family and local powers are likely to cause trouble.”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “This is why I’ve summoned you here. The Jing family has been able to be a tyrant for so long partly because they are truly a powerful local power, and partly because they do quite a bit of business. In addition, the land with the spirit vein in our Jiang Han territory runs through their tribal lands.”
The big chiefs all nodded and looked at Jiang Chen with fresh eyes. How was this the young duke that they knew? How was this the original useless good-for-nothing?
This was absolutely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a noble son who played the games of politics extremely well!
They finally believed in this moment that Jiang Chen had absolutely been playacting in order to confuse others before. This child most likely had had his sights set on duke of the first rank since he was young!
They had misjudged him. Everyone admitted that in their hearts now. They had truly misjudged the young duke Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen watched the performances of these people out of the corner of his eye, but said in an unhurried and not too slow fashion, “I have no interest in words expressing your loyalty. I say only this, this time, each tribe must send out fifty thousand men and horses. The duke’s manor will send out an army of a hundred thousand strong. We will ambush the Redbud Tribe as swiftly as a peal of thunder, leaving one with no time to cover their ears. We must make a clean sweep of all of Jing Man’s remaining confederates.”
Plucking up evil from the roots was common sense. The chiefs weren’t unduly surprised.
“After the remaining confederates of the Jing family are exterminated, I will send Elder Xi to personally oversee the Redbud Tribe region. I will also take out twenty percent of the profits from the land with the spirit vein and split it equally amongst the nine tribes.”
If his earlier words could be labelled as coercion, then the twenty percent profits would be temptation.
Coercion and promise of gain, both the carrot and stick were present.
How could the great chiefs hold out against this? Chief Lan Tianji of the Yinglan Tribe was the first to stand up, “I, Yinglan Tribe, will protect and support the Jiang family unto the death! We are willing to fight those traitors to the death!”
“We are willing to join our forces with the duke’s manor and exterminate the traitors!”
The ten large tribes in the Jiang Han territory had competed amongst themselves, with the Redbud Tribe lorded over everyone. This had been the situation for many years, and Jing Man was extremely domineering to boot.
Under these circumstances, these people would likely add insult to injury by dropping stones down a well even without coercion and temptation, not to mention when there was gain to be had.
Jiang Tong looked at Jiang Chen with a meaningful glance, secretly astonished. This young duke didn’t do things by half measures alright. His boldness of vision was astounding. He had given out twenty percent profit just like that.
Tying the dukedom together with the tribes via profit, how would the tribal chiefs not work together with care and energy? This was far more useful than any form of threats.
“Everyone, our Jiang Han dukedom has worked together with the Pill King Garden before. Our cooperation partner is now the Hall of Healing. This is also to say that our profits with the Hall of Healing will be double those of when we worked with the Pill King Garden. What looks like twenty percent to you is actually forty percent in terms of original profits.”
Under the circumstances, Jiang Chen didn’t mind revealing a bit of core intelligence to them.
The Hall of Healing!
This wasn’t the first time that these people had heard the name of the Hall of Healing today. The Hall of Healing was the benchmark of the spirit medicine world in the Eastern Kingdom. How could they not be aware of the biggest heavyweight in the spirit medicine world?
“Heh heh, you probably don’t know? The Hall of Healing relies on our young duke for many things. Also, another thing that you may not know is that the royal princess Eastern Zhiruo’s illness was yet to be resolved after seeing many famous doctors, but the symptoms lessened when the medicine took effect after our young duke made a move!”
One had to say, Jiang Zheng was a very useful steward. Whenever his master needed it, he would voice the thoughts that his master was not at liberty to say. He would employ such a method at just the right time and say it.
What did these words mean? This meant that the young duke’s backer was the royal family themselves, and the Hall of Healing!
All the chiefs present were dumbfounded and astounded when they heard these words. They looked at each other, at a loss of what to do.
Jiang Chen, however, smiled. “Come, drink! Jiang Zheng always likes to task his lips and tongue over some small matters. Everyone can listen to these matters of the royal princess, but let it stay in your heart. Don’t spread this around.”
“Yes yes, who dares to brashly spread information regarding the royal family’s secrets?”
Each one of them mumbled “yes, yes” as they raised their glasses, but had no appetite for food. How could they still be in the mood to taste the niceties of the exquisite wine? Their minds were filled with the young duke Jiang Chen’s marvelous changes, and all sorts of news that broke through the limits of their expectations. They didn’t know what sort of approach they should be taking towards this young duke.
But one thing was for certain, and that was that the young duke Jiang Chen would outdo his father Jiang Feng!