Chapter 17: A Dream of a Thousand Years
Never could Luo Hun have imagined that the city magistrate he served would have such high ambitions. His dream actually stretched a thousand years into the future, and involved unifying the Rich-Lush Continent under his own rulership.
It was especially surprising considering that Yanhaven only counted as a small city in the sprawling continent. Although it held sway over a population of millions, there were other cities whose citizens numbered in the tens of millions. And there were even some with populations over a hundred million. Therefore, Yanhaven was nothing special, and if it declared itself a nation, could easily be wiped out by other, more powerful forces. Considering that, it almost didn’t seem worth mentioning the possibility of seizing rulership of the entire continent.
The thousands of cities in the Rich-Lush Continent were essentially independent vassals, and unifying them would be a very, very difficult task. Not even experts in the Lifeseizing level would think about trying to do so. After all, the Sage Ancestor Dynasty had as many powerful experts working for them as the sky had clouds, and not even they had ever tried to create a centralized state power. Although they did have an emperor who ruled at the highest tier of the feudal government, the truth was that he was really just another city magistrate. All that the imperial dynasty could do was preside over a loose collection of vassal states.
That having been said, if Yan Gufeng could actually reach the Lifeseizing level, gain the support of the True Dragon Institute, then slowly but surely conquer and absorb the other powers surrounding Yanhaven, such as Baishiville, Yundale-by-the-Sea, Zhaoluforth, and so on, then he could theoretically become a second-tier power. Although that wouldn’t be the same as fulfilling his thousand-year dream, it would definitely be incredibly glorious.
Much of his plan had to do with the True Dragon Institute, which was an exceedingly powerful organization.
In the Rich-Lush Continent, the first-tier powers were referred to as institutes. Beneath them were various sects, factions, religions, and so forth, which were second-tier powers. Such second-tier organizations often had impressive names, but were far below the first-tier powers in terms of overall strength.
Without deep reserve powers, and a host of powerful experts to establish and propagate civilization and culture, an organization couldn’t be referred to as an institute.
The word institute itself contained profound meaning, and was in fact holy in nature. All other organizations, whether they were called sects, parties, factions, religions, associations, or even dynasties, were often powerful, but in some ways could be considered unorthodox. None of them were holy and orthodox like the institutes were. 
The Demi-Immortal Institute, the True Dragon Institute, and a handful of other institutes were like shining beacons of light in the Rich-Lush Continent, organizations that everyone looked up to as being holy lands of sorts.
Compared to them, Yanhaven was like an ant.
Luo Hun’s blood was surging at the thoughts which had just been awakened within him. “I definitely must live up to my own skill and abilities. If I do, perhaps I could be a part of a new royal dynasty, and establish a reputation that will be remembered for countless years to come.” “Are the kings and nobles really innately superior to people like me? I’ve heard rumors that there are already other cities that are calling themselves nations. If that’s true, then why can’t Yanhaven be called the State of Yan?”
At the Yang Clan mansion, Yang Qi was very pleased with how his cultivation had progressed over the past several days. During the day, he would spend his time in seclusion, and at night, he would head into the mountains outside the city, where he would practice his martial arts. His internal energy was growing more powerful every day, and he was gaining a deeper understanding of the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth. From what he could tell, he was getting closer and closer to waking up the fourth particle inside him.
When that happened, he would have the power of four megamammoths, and would definitely be superior to someone in the seventh phase.
In fact, his energy arts were already reaching the point of breaking into the seventh phase.
It only took about three days for news to spread through the Yang Clan mansion that Yang Yunchong and Yang Hualong had recovered. The two elder brothers had already begun to put the clan’s business back in order, and even better, they managed to sell the copper bell on the gray market for five hundred thousand energy convergence pills. The Yang Clan’s direct bloodline was beginning to make its comeback already.
The clan was no longer listless and weakening, instead it was thrumming with activity because of the endless possibilities for the future that had been opened up.
Yang Qi’s second brother, Yang Hualong, had broken through to the fifth phase, the Energy Eruption level. All of the guards and servants were shocked, and were finally filled with a bit of hope for the future.
Yang Qi was sitting just outside the corridor of his private quarters, looking out at his pond as he performed breathing exercises. Every time he exhaled, the waters of the pond would part.
And when he inhaled, the surface of the pond would swirl up into the air like a tornado, and then splash down again like rain.
Clearly, Yang Qi’s energy art cultivation had reached an incredibly high level. Because of the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth, they resembled the way a mammoth could suck water up into its trunk. According to the legends, when godmammoths raised their trunks up to the sky and inhaled, they could pull the stars down from the sky. After all, mammoths were the perfect representation of limitless power.
As he breathed, the power of the lightning mammoth in his dantian region continued to flow through his meridians before returning to his sea of energy. During the journey, bits of the lightning mammoth’s quintessence would be absorbed into him, making him tougher and physically stronger.
With his eyes closed, he could sense that there was something like a membrane beneath his skin, transparent and crystalline, and ten times more powerful and durable than his actual skin. It was like the skin of a megamammoth, so tough that blades couldn’t pierce it. Even energy art attacks that hit him would have difficulty piercing through that membrane.
Streaming across the surface of the membrane were magical symbols that were clearly not the product of human hands. They were like the writing of devils or gods, wriggling and squirming in a way that made it impossible to deduce their meaning.
With that membrane in place, Yang Qi’s physical body was more flexible, agile, and tough than before, to a level that was hard to even calculate. Without even using energy arts, he could run as quickly as a leopard, strike with force that surpassed a bear, leap as nimbly as a monkey, and flit about as effortlessly as a bird. At this point, he was so terrifyingly powerful that not even his father or Yang Shi, experts in the eighth phase, would be able to contend with him in terms of physical strength.
“Third Brother! Third Brother…!”
When Yang Qi heard one of his brothers calling out to him, he slowly reined in all of his energy arts and rose to his feet. Even as the surface of the pond went calm, his second brother Yang Hualong hurried in. “Big news, Third Brother! In twelve days, the city magistrate’s mansion is holding a banquet, and all of the unmarried young elites thirty years of age or under from the top clans are invited. That includes you, Third Brother. From what I heard, Yan Feixia is back from the True Dragon Institute to visit her parents, and the city magistrate is throwing this banquet to try to find a young genius to be her husband. Luckily for you, you saved Miss Yan Feixia back by the river, so she must have a good impression of you. Considering all the progress you’ve made, if you can butter her up a bit more before the banquet, maybe you’ll end up as the future son-in-law of the city magistrate!”
“Really? A banquet?” Yang Qi took the invitation card from Yang Hualong and looked down at it with a bit of a frown. “I just stole a Latent Dragon Pill, and very nearly lost all of my energy arts, and now the city magistrate is inviting me to a banquet? Maybe I did save his daughter, but he’s a wily old fox through and through. There must be more to the story. The safest thing would be to skip it, but of course, that would be pretty insulting to him.”
“You’re right, Third Brother. As you know, the Yang Clan used to be the richest and most powerful clan in all of Yanhaven. Eventually, we were surpassed by the Yan Clan, which has pushed Yanhaven to the point of being able to call it the State of Yan. The Yan Clan is the lord, and the rest of the clans are the government officials. However, if the officials all join forces, they can kill the lord. Once our Yang Clan gets strong enough again, the Yan Clan will definitely fear us.”
Yang Hualong was no simpleton either; he had a lot of experience in life, and always analyzed matters in a thorough and logical way.
“That’s true,” Yang Qi said, putting the invitation card away. “I guess I’ll just have to play things by ear.”
Yang Qi’s eldest brother, Yang Yunchong, was already married, and even had children. Therefore, he didn’t get an invitation. And Yang Hualong was engaged, so he naturally wouldn’t attend either. The only one to be going would be Yang Qi.
“There’s another bit of news I need to tell you, Third Brother,” Yang Hualong said. “Three days ago, word came in from Yundale-by-the-Sea. The city magistrate there made an official proclamation announcing the founding of the State of Yun. It won’t be long before they start swallowing up the other powers around them…. Oh, I heard another rumor as well. Supposedly Yun Hailan and Song Haishan were both accepted into the Demi-Immortal Institute. That will also bolster the power of the State of Yun.” Each piece of news that Yang Hualong revealed was like a bolt of lightning.
“What?” Yang Qi said, shocked. “They founded a new nation? They’ve definitely got some guts. Don’t tell me they’re going to renounce allegiance to the Sage Ancestor Dynasty?”
“You probably haven’t heard about this, Third Brother, but the truth is that there are many powers throughout the Rich-Lush Continent who are declaring themselves to be sovereign nations. Although they still pay lip service to being vassals of the Sage Ancestor Dynasty, and continue to offer tribute, the dynasty is only growing weaker and weaker. And the Sage Ancestor Dynasty can’t really do anything about it. Who knows? Maybe one day Yanhaven will become the State of Yan. The glimmer of sabers and swords can be seen everywhere, and the dragons and snakes are beginning to struggle with each other. Kings are rising up! Which of them wouldn’t want to unite the continent and establish a thousand-year legacy? Among the emperors and his vassals, not a single benevolent individual can be found.”
Yang Qi had grown up quite a bit, and to be discussing matters of politics and war with his brother made him feel like one of the heroes of old. “All the powers under heaven are experiencing drastic transformations. It’s going to be difficult for the Yang Clan to pick the correct course. Considering the continent as a whole, we’re like country bumpkins. Rich country bumpkins, but still country bumpkins. If any of the big powers really wanted to wipe us out, they could do so as easily as stomping on a chicken egg.”
Yang Hualong sighed deeply. “Power is the foundation of everything. Speaking of which, I really need to improve my own cultivation.”
“Twelve days….” Yang Qi said. “I have twelve days to get a lot stronger. I think I need to come out of seclusion and go do some real-world training. Take care, Second Brother. Make sure to keep the clan in order while I’m gone.”
With that, Yang Qi blurred into motion.
“So fast!” Yang Hualong said, startled. “How did you get so strong so quickly? And where are you going?”
“To the Blackcorpse Mountains,” Yang Qi said, “to hunt some demonlings and devillings.” With that, he vanished without a trace. 
“What? The Blackcorpse Mountains? That place is very dangerous. We don’t even venture very far into those mountains during our autumn hunt. And you’re going in alone…?” Yang Hualong shook his head.
The Blackcorpse Mountains was where the Yan River started, and was a very inhospitable environment. They were filled with bizarre demonlings and devillings that had existed there since primeval times. Many such creatures had innate energy arts, and could do things like shoot fire, breathe smoke, or freeze things around them. And many of them operated in packs.
However, their pelts were extremely valuable, and thus, experts would often hunt them.
In fact, the Yang Clan’s autumn hunt was a big way the clan made money. However, people usually entered the mountains in teams, not alone. The dangers simply outweighed the potential profits to a huge degree.
1. The word I’m translating as “institute” implies a place of learning such as a college or university
2. The demonlings and devillings are basically beasts of a demonic or devilish nature. Although there are two terms used for them, they are essentially the same thing. Sometimes the author will switch back and forth between the terms to describe one type of beast
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