"Today, Ling Xian will play the part of a tyrant and take the girl by force."
The words were immediately followed by a strange laughter, one that produced a giant cloud of confusion amongst the guests in the reception hall.
[Take the girl by force?]
Ling Tian Jiao didn't know how to react. [The mightiest, most respected warrior inside the City of Qing wants to be a tyrant?]
Ling Tian Nan and his wife were even more baffled, but quickly concealed their expressions of anger with one of feigned obedience.
In Ling Xian's presence, no one dared to disagree.
"Brother…" Ling Hu was both excited and worried. He was worried for Ling Xian's reputation. So he challenged, "This...this might not be a good strategy."
"What's not good about it?" Ling Xian smiled slyly and continued, "I do not care for reputation. I do what I do, regardless of what people think. A tyrant I will be."
As his voice trailed off, Ling Xian summoned his powers and unleashed them to every corner of the complex.
Finally, inside a room located at the backmost corner of the complex, a female scent was detected.
"Found her. Ling Hu, you wait here, I'll be right back," Ling Xian disappeared into a lightning flash as he spoke and vanished.
When he reappeared moments later in the same spot, a girl was standing next to him.
Ling Hu was delighted at the sight of the girl. He rushed to her side and hugged her tight.
Misty eyed and blushing, Ling Rou didn't care that she was in the company of her parents and strangers. She returned his embrace immediately.
"Xiao Rou, I've missed you." Ling Hu whispered to her, now misty eyed as well.
"Xiao Hu, I've missed you too." Ling Rou closed her eyes and rested her head on his large shoulders, her lips curled into a delightful smile.
The two were locked in a firm embrace. They appeared to be in a world of their own.
"What a lovely pair." Ling Xian nodded in satisfaction. He walked to the side of Ling Tian Nan and his wife and helped them stand. He asked, "You see this? Do you wish to separate them still?"
"Ah, it's all my fault." Ling Tian Nan sighed heavily. He knew clearly that his daughter was smitten with Ling Hu, a young man he believed could not give her the happiness she deserved. However, when Ling Xian personally came to propose this alliance, he quickly changed his mind.
Ling Xian had personally come to propose this marriage, what an honor?
Forming a marriage alliance with the family of the mightiest warrior in the entire City, is there a higher honor?
Who would ever refuse such an offer?
If this marriage took place, Ling Tian Nan would become well respected throughout the entire City of Qing. There would be no one who will dare offend him. Ling Hu simply can't go wrong with such a hero for a brother.
Ling Tian Nan was overcome with regret, but it was too late now. The episode his wife had just foolishly staged was enough to have their entire family beheaded. If Ling Xian would spare their lives, it would already be a miracle. Marriage was completely out of the question now.
His sentiments were shared by his wife. She couldn't have dreamt that Ling Hu, a useless, penniless young man with no prospects was the little brother of Ling Xian.
Who said he comes from nothing?
At least within these city walls, Ling Hu comes from everything!
Ling Xian is everything!
The middle-aged woman let out another long, hopeless sigh. Even though the contours of her face had been blurred by the beating she just received, one could still make out an expression of remorse.
At the meantime, Ling Rou had learned the full story from Ling Hu. She walked towards her parents with heavy steps. As she arrived in front of them, Ling Rou burst into tears and wept, "Mom, Dad, I'm going to leave with Ling Hu, please do not hold me back."
"Xiao Rou, you…"
Ling Tian Nan and his wife began protesting almost simultaneous but stopped short. Of course, this was unacceptable. How can an unmarried girl leave with a man from outside her family? How will people perceive her?
But they swallowed their words as their gaze met Ling Xian's.
"Mom, Dad, you disappoint me," Ling Rou continued. She understood the gravity of being caught in the middle of this unresolvable row. She didn't want to lose anyone.
But now she had to choose.
So she chose Ling Hu. She had made up her mind, even if this meant she would never speak to her parents again.
"Xiao Rou, we…" Ling Tian Nan began again but once more swallowed his words. Then, with a wave of his hand and shake of his head, he said, "Fine, if you want to go, then go."
The middle-aged woman said nothing but regret was written all over her face. She looked at her baby daughter, her mild tempered, obedient daughter, and her heart shattered.
She regretted not allowing them to be together from the start. She never understood how in love they were. At this moment, when she was about to lose her child, she finally understood how wrong she'd been.
Love without wealth may not lead to happiness. But wealth without love will never lead to happiness.
She's been down this road once. Her focus had been misplaced on material wealth rather than the love between the couple.
But regrettably, it was now too late. None of this mattered anymore.
"Xiao Rou, I've wronged you. Can you forgive me? I want for nothing but that you come and visit mom and dad once in a while." The middle-aged woman burst into tears and wrestled the young girl into her arms.
"Mom…" Ling Rou returned her grief.
Mom and daughter crying their hearts out in each other's arms.
"If you knew this would happen, you would have chosen differently." Ling Xian sighed. His plan was to help Ling Hu take home a willing bride. However, that had turned into a goodbye between a mother and her daughter.
Even Ling Xian was now powerless to stop this.
Ling Tian Nan and his wife were both overcome with grief and guilt. His wife was especially disgusted with herself. Had she not foolishly uttered those unforgivable words, her daughter would be married into the household of the City's mightiest warrior. Her daughter would also be remaining at her side.
But now, she would be left with nothing.
Ling Rou turned towards Ling Xian and bowed. "Young Master Ling, please, I beg you, spare my parents."
"Do not fright, I will not pursue this any further." Ling Xian shook his head and said, mockingly, "But what did you call me? Other people can address me as Young Master Ling, but you cannot."
Ling Rou blushed and, after pondering her options, said, "Brother…"
"Good, this sounds better." Ling Xian nodded, satisfied. He continued in a gentler tone, "I can't let you call me brother for nothing. We brought these gifts as dowry for you. But since your mother rejects us, I'd have to resort to being a tyrant and taking you by force."
Awkwardness filled the room and the faces of Ling Tian Nan and his wife instantaneously. They opened their mouths, but no words came out.
Ling Xian glared at them then swung his sleeve. A crystal vase flew out of his travel pouch. The vase exuded a mischievous glow.
This glow was accompanied by a sweet scent. Three purple colored Dans jumped out of the vase and suspended themselves in midair. The room was suddenly filled with a rainbow colored aura.
All eyes in the room were simultaneously drawn to the Dans. After counting the number of lines on each Dan, everyone let out a collective gasp.
The eighth-ranked Air Solidifying Dan!
Any Dan that has reached the seventh rank was worth at least a thousand pounds of gold. The value of one Dan of the eighth rank was unimaginable, let alone three!
The air seemed to tighten in the reception hall as everyone's breath quickened upon realizing what they were looking at.
Especially Ling Tian Nan, who had already been stuck in the eighth realm of cultivation for a long time. If he could consume those Dans, he would be guaranteed to break through to the ninth realm.
If his wife hadn't rejected Ling Xian's offer, those Dans would be his now. The thought of this made his intestines tangle with guilt.
Ling Xian had been carefully observing their reactions. Seeing that the time had come to pour more salt over the open wound, he continued, "That is only the first gift, now the second."
Before he finished, a fan covered in flaming red feathers appeared in the air. The magical aura that now filled the room was beyond mesmerizing.
It was a magical weapon!
Ling Tian Nan was knocked backward a few steps both by the sight of the weapon and his own guilt. He could feel his heart beginning to bleed. If he had slapped his wife's mouth shut sooner, all these would be his now.
But of course, it was too late. He could only stand and watch as what should have been rightfully his fly away from his grasp.
Ling Tian Jiao was more shocked than anyone. The Ling Clan had in total two weapons. But Ling Xian was somehow able to simply give two away as dowry. These two treasures were worth at least 100,000 spiritual stones!
He had never seen such incredible dowry.
Ling Tian Jiao then shifted his gaze onto Ling Tian Nan, who was now overcome with regret. Ling Tian Jiao was greatly amused by this. He thought to himself, [Ling Tian Nan, the brother of Young Master Ling begged to become your son-in-law, you refused and humiliated him. The Young Master himself comes to propose a marriage alliance, and your wife calls him a dog. You have no one to blame for this but yourself.]
"This is the Fan of Invisible Flame, a weapon of the ninth realm. What do you think of them, as brother's greeting gifts to you? Do you like them?" Ling Xian smiled. This was his first trophy of the battlefield. He found this inside the pouch of the man he defeated while rescuing Ling Tian Xiang. He had since forgotten about it.
He remembered them earlier today as he was thinking about what to bring as dowry and decided on these items, which he no longer needed.
"Brother, the Air Solidifying Dan, the Fan of Invisible Flame, either one is too much for me. I cannot accept such valuable gifts." Ling Rou looked at Ling Xian with a stunned face. She was beginning to understand why her parents feared him so.
She also understood why Ling Hu could never stop talking about this brother who was the best, brightest, handsomest and bravest of all cultivators in the City of Qing.
Presenting such items as greeting gifts was not possible for everyone. That person must have unsurpassed skills, wealth, wisdom, and heart.
"These were meant for your dowry, but your parents refused. So I had to seek you out and encourage you to elope with Ling Hu. You could call these my greeting gifts to you. However, you could also and more appropriately call them my wedding gifts to both of you." Ling Xian was pleased with Ling Hu's choice for a bride. The girl had manners and will to decline gifts of such value. Clearly, she was an honest girl with a humble heart."
"Brother… marriage… too soon," Ling Rou blushed again as she whispered.
"Sooner or later, just a formality, you must accept. Take care of Ling Hu and be a good wife to him." Ling Xian petted her hair lovingly. Then he turned his gaze towards the girl's parents and said in a much darker tone, "Your daughter comes with me. You can say whatever you wish to the world. You can say I took her by force or forced you to give her up. What I don't want to see, and will not tolerate, is for you to bring any trouble to my brother, or…"
Or what, he did not say, but everyone understood.
"Yes, yes, Young Master Ling can rest assured. I, Ling Tian Nan, will never cause Ling Hu any trouble," Ling Tian Nan answered hastily.
"I hope you can keep your word."
Ling Xian responded heavily. Then he turned to Ling Hu and the rest of his companions and said, "This is settled, let's go."