13th year of Shenwu.
Spring rain fell on both banks of Luo River and the capital saw peonies blossoming overnight.
The evening was about to arrive. The sunset in the twilight combined with the sunset glow outlined Luoyang City in a myriad of colors. Boats cruised along the streams and rivers as singing filled the whole place.
Lights began to illuminate both sides of the river amid the backdrop of a darkening sky. During this season, the capital wouldn't close their gates before 11:45 p.m. The people thronging the bustling night market wouldn't disperse until late at night. It was currently the hour just after dinner. Most people poured out of their homes and headed for the night market, brothels, restaurants, and lavishly-decorated ships on the riverside.
The roadside was lined with lanterns and the riverside was lit by unextinguished fire lights. Vendors shouted as the street performers put on lion dances and beat their gongs. Wispy sounds of obscene noises drifted from the prostitutes' rooms in the brothels.
Inside a shabby sedan chair made for two, Ye Que looking at the scene around him while touching his young, tender arm. In his dazed eyes were traces of shock and in his puzzlement was a hint of disbelief.
"Since when did I become a teenager?"
"Is this the Human World?"
"Is it Luoyang I'm stepping on?"
The night descended, bringing the excitement in Luoyang City to its peak. Some young master set off fireworks out of boredom, perhaps to elicit a smile out of a beautiful woman. The large canopy of brilliant, flickering flames covered the sky. Ye Que raised his head to look at the sky, where the bright moon had quietly appeared amidst the clouds.
"Everything is peaceful."
"I can't detect even the slightest hint of Demonic Qi."
"Has the demon already left the Human World?"
The capital Luoyang was crisscrossed with lanes extending in all directions, where magnificent carriages and precious horses flowed endlessly. Princes, ministers, nobles, and rich merchants had their respective luxurious mansions. There were galloping jade chariots with continuous use of golden whips, as well as imperial canopies with tassels in the mouths of embroidered phoenixes.
"Childe, we've arrived at the General's Manor," a dull male voice drifted from the front of the sedan chair.
"The General's Manor!" There was finally a dramatic shift in Ye Que's expression. Moreover, he was able to confirm something, something unimaginable.
Perhaps he had truly returned to his teenage years, back to one hundred years ago.
It was like a dream.
Moments ago, he was still fighting a hundred thousands of demons in the Celestial World but he had now returned to Luoyang of one hundred years ago.
Standing in front of the gates of Luoyang, and now in front of the main entrance of the General's Manor, Ye Que was deeply touched.
Ye Que, nicknamed Demon-slaughtering Asura, was an exceptional genius of the Qingqiu Sword Sect who ascended the Celestial World in the 43rd year of Shenwu. He was invincible for decades in the three realms, triumphing in every battle. Back when the army of hundred thousand demons ambushed the three realms, Ye Que and his sword alone killed 3,006 demons. The incident made him the idol of the younger generation in the Celestial World.
No one could have imagined such a hero would suffer such a great humiliation in the General's Manor in Luoyang. The reason was that he was an illegitimate child and some people suspected he was here to scramble for power and profit.
The truth was Ye Que had lived in the countryside with his mother since he was a child. Before his mother died, she expressed her hope that he would return to the General's Manor to return to his ancestral roots. Ye Que had come to Luoyang alone to fulfill his mother's wishes.
Standing in front of this aristocratic General's Manor, Ye Que hesitated as to whether he should enter. When he first came here, he had found everything around him to be spectacular: the pavilions, lush trees, safflowers, maids and servants, as well as the armored guards everywhere. Back then, he felt inferior and a little afraid. However, his main emotion was joy because he thought this place would be his home from now on. He believed he would also have a father and would have the opportunity to become a general with outstanding military achievements in the future.
The penniless Ye Que hired a sedan chair after arriving in Luoyang, thinking he should appear as presentable as possible. He even boasted to the sedan bearers that he was a childe of the General's Manor.
Imagination was beautiful but the reality was terrible. This place didn't welcome him at all.
"You dare to claim your ancestral roots when you're an illegitimate child?"
Looking back now, it was indeed laughable. Both he and everyone else had simply viewed the sky from the bottom of a well.
"Tread, tread, tread!"
There was a rapid sound of horse hooves as a herd of armored horses galloped around the corner. The leader was a young master with beautiful eyes and sharp eyebrows riding a big horse. Behind him were seven to eight heavily-armed cavalries.
The man lifted the rein, stopped the horse, and dismounted.
In addition to the young master leading the group, the rest of the cavalries moved in impressive uniformity. Ye Que could tell they were definitely not ordinary soldiers that guarded the city walls. These were calvaries who had stormed battlefields and tasted blood.
"Whose sedan chair is this? Why is it blocking the entrance of our General's Manor?" The young master waved his golden whip and encircled the sedan chair Ye Que hired. In his opinion, it was impossible for a shabby sedan chair like this to belong to a guest who had the right to enter the General's Manor.
Still immersed in his memories, Ye Que didn't speak. He had just returned to his youth and he was still integrating his memories with his surroundings. He was in a complete daze.
He might not be speaking but the sedan chair bearers who were waiting to collect their fee dared not to linger around. This was the General's Manor. They were terrified just looking at the swords hanging at the waist of the soldiers. If they made even the slightest mistake, they might end up dying without even collecting his fee.
"Sir Officer, it was the young master in front who hired this sedan chair. He said he came to the General's Manor to return to his ancestral roots. I'm a poor sedan chair bearer who exchange my labor for a meal. I wouldn't dare to block the entrance of the General's Manor for no reason," the sedan chair bearers said with a bitter face.
"Return to his ancestral roots? Who is he? On what grounds is he returning to his ancestral roots?" The young master riding the tall horse raised his voice by one decibel after listening to this explanation.
"He said his father is General Ye." The bearer looked like he was close to tears. He knew his words were ridiculous but he didn't dare to lie. He could only tell the truth. His heart was nearly bursting with his resentment for Ye Que.
"His father is General Ye? If his father is General Ye, what does that make me? Everyone in Luoyang knows that there's only one young master in the General's Manor."
"That person is me, Ye Yunhai."
Ye Yunhai tugged on the reins and arrived in front of Ye Que in a few steps. With the horse's head squarely opposite Ye Que's face, he looked down at Ye Que with a ferocious look. "Kid, it's the first time in Luoyang that someone's trying to scam the General's Manor. Speak. Who gave you such great courage to pretend to be me?"
The two sounds of severe scolding caused Ye Que to recover his senses. He slowly raised his head to look at Ye Yunhai. His gaze then shifted to the soldiers nearby who had unveiled their weapons. Finally, he turned his head and glanced at the shaking legs of the bearers. With a calm expression and tranquil eyes, Ye Que said, "I'm Ye Que. I'm from River Village in Weicheng. It's true that I came to the General's Manor in Luoyang to return to my ancestral roots. It was my mother's dying wish and I dare not disobey her. What I said to the bearers isn't a lie."
Ye Que reached into his bosom and took out a jade pendant. "This is a token that my mother gave me. I believe it can prove my identity."
In Ye Que's previous life, he hadn't hesitated after arriving at the General's Manor. Thus, the one he met hadn't been Ye Yunhai but the second lady of the manor. He had been promptly thrown out of the manor. To his current self, the small General's Manor was too insignificant to even enter his mind. However, this was his mother's dying wish after all and he would say whatever necessary. It didn't matter whether he was speaking to the madam of the manor or the young master.
To the current Ye Que, it wasn't at all important whether he could return to his ancestral roots. The cultivation journey was extensive, profound, boundless, and unpredictable. How could the vulgarities of the Human World compare?
"Weicheng, River Village, Tang Wanru?" Ye Yunhai seemed to have recalled something and his expression became a little solemn. However, the corners of his mouth were lifted to form a mocking smile as if he was both ridiculing and despising Ye Que. "You're the bastard who was driven out of the General's Manor back then?"
Ye Yunhai snorted as he raised his head haughtily.
"To think that the evil seed of a slave still has the face to return to his ancestral roots."
"Who sent you here?"
"What's your purpose to come back at this time?"
Ye Yunhai couldn't be blamed for his line of thinking. General Ye Zhengru had fallen gravely ill after this year's Spring Festival and had been bedridden for three months. Ye Que's return at this time definitely courted suspicions. Even an illegitimate son was a son. Who could guarantee that General Ye wouldn't think of his affection back then when he was at the end of his life? People tend to act out of character whenever they were about to die. Ye Yunhai would inherit the entirety of the massive family business if not for Ye Que. Naturally, anyone in his position would be nervous over the possibility of half of the fortune going to a son who had popped out of thin air.
"I have no purpose but to fulfill an elder's wish."
After a pause, Ye Que continued, "Since you're the young master of the General's Manor, you should be careful with your manner of speaking. To insult me is to insult yourself."
"I'm older than you. From the strict point of view of Father's generation, I should be calling you Younger Brother. Since you're still young, I won't lower myself to your level and ignore your words earlier."
When Ye Que spoke, his posture and facial expression were all of a young master's. He didn't look inferior even though he was dressed simply and was shorter by half than Ye Yunhai, who was riding a horse.
Ye Yunhai stared at Ye Que, nearly bursting into laughter. He was bemused that a poor boy from the countryside would unexpectedly want to be his older brother. This boy's intention was as clear as day. However, he was simply an evil seed born out of an intoxicated night who had no foundation whatsoever in the family. It was ridiculous to think that this boy would try to gain half the family fortune with a shabby jade pendant.
"Kid, what qualifications do you have not to lower yourself to my level? Do you have any sense? Have you ever been to the Golden Palace of Violet Nets? Do you know what the names of the sixteen prefectures and nine towns of the capital are? Do you know how many tribes there are in Great Yan or how many sects there are in Qingqiu? Do you know how tall Mount Shu is or how many floors there are in the Demon Imprisonment Tower?" Ye Yunhai's mocking expression gradually turned vicious and domineering. It was as if he was heaven looking down upon an ant.
"Look carefully. This is Luoyang, the capital Luoyang. In front of you is General Ye's Manor and I'm the only young master and heir here. Put away the jade pendant in your hands and forget the delusion of returning to your ancestral roots. Return to the countryside and be your poor young master. I can pretend as if nothing has happened today."
Ye Yunhai leaned close to Ye Que as he spoke. Finally, he whispered, "Otherwise, don't blame me for being ruthless. It's not easy to make someone disappear for no reason in Luoyang but it's not difficult either."
"Since you're clever, I believe you'll make a wise choice."
"Stop using the name Ye Que in the future."
"You don't deserve to use the surname Ye."
This was blatant humiliation. Ye Que didn't think he would once again suffer humiliation in the General's Manor after meeting the second lady in his previous life, but here he was again. This time, it was even worse. This time, he didn't even step beyond the entrance of the General's Manor. It was as if everything was predestined.
It was quiet all around.
It was as if there was a storm brewing.
Ye Yunhai was prepared. The moment Ye Que made the slightest movement, the soldiers behind him would be able to subdue him in an instant. What awaited him would be an endless prison career.
However, what happened next was out of everyone's expectations.
Ye Que wasn't angered. Neither did he try to argue or curse Ye Yunhai. He calmly bent down to arrange his luggage before paying the bearers who were standing in a corner. He then left the place without even looking back, leaving behind only one sentence.
"It's my parents who gave me my name. It's not something you can take away as you wish. You don't have the right."