Naturally, the Suppressing Second Hall was not situated in a place that the South Edict Manor could compare to.
The Hall was centered within a wide expanse, filled with awe-inspiring sceneries of nature, where the peaks of the surrounding mountains hid themselves amongst the sea of clouds. It was a magnificent abode befitting an immortal.
Among the lofty mountains, the Suppressing Second Hall sat on the highest peak, with the three tallest mountains beside it falling under the dominion of the three Advisors.
Upon returning to the grand hall of his personal mansion, He Yunye turned and seated himself on his chair. He raised his hand towards his subordinate, the Deacon Wan Shunchang, and gestured for him to sit down and talk.
The three Advisors were each in command of two of the six great Deacons within Suppressing Second Hall, who in turn were in charge of handling day-to-day affairs. Evidently, Wan Shunchang was one of He Yunye's men.
Wan Shunchang cupped his fists in thanks. He sat down and asked, "May I know what the Advisor asks of me?"
The stout He Yunye stroked his dark beard and chuckled. "Shunchang, what did you think of today's situation in the grand hall?"
Wan Shunchang pondered for awhile. Naturally, he wouldn't be opposed to what He Yunye had said today in the grand hall. Seeing as it was pointless to just mumble to himself, he smiled and said, "Advisor spoke naught but the truth. Yang Qing is indeed inept at managing South Edict Manor."
He Yunye laughed and added, "If I were to have you take over South Edict Manor, what say you?"
"Uh…." Wan Shunchang muttered, shocked by what he'd just heard. As he hurriedly stood up, he cupped his fists and said, "If it is the Advisor's orders, then Wan Shunchang will not dare to disobey. However, without the Hall Master's decree, I'm afraid…"
He Yunye shook his head and said, "A few days ago I was playing chess with the Hall Master, and he casually asked me whether it was true that among the ten manors under Suppressing Second Hall, five of the Manor Heads were Feng Zhihuan's men."
"I'm afraid the Hall Master deliberately posed the question, despite knowing the answer. The Hall Master would have definitely known about it long before this, so why would he…." Wan Shunchang's words stopped there, feeling stunned once again. Excitement flashed past his eyes as he asked, "Was today's incident in the Grand Hall planned out by the Hall Master?"
Even though his Deacon position was equal to that of a Manor Head's, he was not as well-off as a Manor Head who commanded an entire piece of land. A Deacon could only earn five hundred low-grade Orbs of Will a year, but a Manor Head would have a thousand Orbs of Will at his disposal through his own city. What's more, it didn't include the revenue from his subordinate Mountain Chieftains, so obviously he would be more than happy to become a Manor Head.
"Huh?" He Yunye cautioned. A vicious glint flashed past his eyes as he coldly eyed Wan Shunchang, snorting heavily in warning with his nostrils.
Wan Shunchang was stunned. Some things were best known deep down, and deep down alone. How could he expose it?
He anxiously cupped his fists in apology.
"Shunchang, I've said my piece. I've also sent out word to Ever Peace Manor. With regards to the specifics, you can go discuss it with Zhang Decheng. This is all that I can help you with," He Yunye stated indifferently.
The aforementioned Zhang Decheng was the Manor Head of Ever Peace Manor and one of He Yunhe's men.
The reason why South Edict Manor's geographical location was regarded as being on the edge of a triangle was due to being pincered by Ever Peace Manor to the north and Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor to the south. These two manors acted as a restraining force against South Edict Manor, which lay in the center.
"Your subordinate understands," Wan Shunchang said, concealing the excitement in his heart as he cupped his fists in departure.
Meanwhile, inside the mansion atop a different mountain, Feng Zhihuan and Yang Qing were currently engaged in a game of chess under an old pine tree.
Feng Zhihuan's handmaidens waited on them to the side, with the billowing clouds and picturesque mountains visible in the distance. The clouds rolled in tandem with the uplifting winds. It was indeed a pleasant and serene place.
As he moved a piece on the board, Yang Qing could no longer refrain from asking, "Advisor, why did Advisor He suddenly make things difficult for me today?"
"I don't know as well," Feng Zhihuan said, gently placing his piece down. He shook his head slowly, then coldly scoffed, "I'm afraid a certain someone cannot rest well, knowing that I have five Manor Heads supporting me."
Even though he didn't specify who that certain someone was, a light flashed past Yang Qing's eyes and he couldn't help but suck in a breath of cold air. He had already guessed who Feng Zhihuan was referring to. It was definitely not He Yunye; it could only be that person who stood even further above. If the person on top was not supporting him, any opinions He Yunye had would be pointless. It wasn't as if he could steal his position by force, no?
Yang Qing bit his lips and asked, "Trying to maintain the balance of power, is it?"
Feng Zhihuan lifted his gaze and looked at Yang Qing with admiration. It was truly convenient to speak with someone intelligent—they were able to understand what one was implying without having to reveal anything outright.
Feng Zhihuan sighed and answered, "It seems your position is being targeted."
A vicious glint flashed past Yang Qing's eyes as he said, "Out of the ten Manor Heads, why target me specifically? Picking on the weakest link, is it? It looked as if they were just acting out a play today in the Grand Hall. That person was just trying to make it look like he was protecting me to show everyone that he had no bad intentions. This makes it easier to prove his innocence should anything ever happen to me in the future. If I've displeased him in some way, then he can punish me however he wants. Why would he intentionally use such a roundabout method? Does he take everyone else to be fools?"
His words carried a deep resentment in its tone. After all, he had painstakingly climbed his way to his current position. To have it taken away by someone else, it would be odd not to hold some grievances.
Feng Zhihuan could not deny that even though Yang Qing had only been promoted to Manor Head for a brief period of time, and that his cultivation was the weakest out of the five Manor Heads under his command, he was definitely the wisest of the bunch; he could understand everything with just a few clues.
Alas, such a shame. Feng Zhihuan sighed, "With your intellect, I believe you will be able to understand his reasons for adopting such a method. Even though he eats the meat, he still needs to let those under him drink some of the broth. If he acted as he pleased every time a problem arose, it could cause his subordinates to lose their chance for even a sip of the broth. Who would willingly work for him then? Since he can't accomplish his goals straightforwardly, he will have to resort to unconventional methods. You can also say he's being considerate of everyone's face. Otherwise, even if he were to do things forcefully, no one would be able to stop him. In the end, he's only looking for a legitimate reason to oust you."
Yang Qing knew that if that person ever felt like it, he wouldn't be able keep his position much longer. But he still couldn't help but feel opposed to it, terribly opposed.
Immediately, he put down the chess piece in his hands and stood up. Facing Feng Zhihuan, he cupped his fists and made a deep bow as he pleaded, "Advisor, please teach me how to save myself!"
"This…." Feng Zhihuan mumbled as he put down his own chess piece. He added, "He is dissatisfied with the fact that I have control over too many positions. Since you've already been marked, it is no longer something that I can salvage. I'm afraid you'll still have to rely on yourself."
"Which means to say, among the five Manor Heads, one is doomed to fall. They picked me because I was the weakest, and thus easier to push around?" Yang Qing asked in return.
Seeing his blunt manner, Feng Zhihuan decided not to patronize him. He nodded his head and replied, "If you were strong enough to the point where they couldn't push you around, they'd naturally look for someone else to take your place. However, since they are already eyeing your position, do you think you'll be able to handle it?"
Yang Qing asked again, "Don't tell me there isn't a way to turn this situation around?"
Feng Zhihuan pondered for awhile before standing up as well. As though he'd just made a very important decision, he offered a gentle proposal. "It's not as though we're completely out of ideas. Yang Qing, I think very well of you. Even though I am not able to shield you, I don't wish to see you in harm's way as well. How about this? As long as the green mountains still stands, fear not, for the day will come when the mountain springs shall meet once again. Leave me and swear allegiance to He Yunye! I will not make things difficult for you once the deed is done, but I'm afraid your reputation will take a hit afterwards. And on the surface, I won't be treating you kindly!"
Since the other party was willing to go this far, what excuse did he have? Yang Qing excitedly bowed again as a sign of his gratitude, and said, "I thank the Advisor for your approval. Yang Qing shall repay the Advisor's benefaction today in the future!"
Feng Zhihuan waved his hands and said, "Go, then. This matter cannot wait. The longer we delay, the higher the chance of a mishap. Prepare for it posthaste. Take care of yourself!"
Yang Qing cupped his fists in response. Without another word, he turned around and left in great strides.