Feng Zhihuan stood with hands clasped behind him as he stood under the green pine tree. His gaze trailing after Yang Qing, as he departed unhurriedly towards the base of the mountain.
A handmaiden from behind gently walked forward a step and softly asked, "Master, Yang Qing swearing allegiance to He Yunye will tarnish your reputation as well."
She meant to warn her master that he was one of yours. If he couldn't even save one of his own, others would definitely be bitterly disappointed once word got out.
The two of them had stayed with each other for so many years, so how could Feng Zhihuan not understand what she was implying? He simply shook his head in reply, "I don't want him to swear allegiance to others either. Do you think I am willing to let others have a taste of the fatty meat in my hand? I can't save him! It's precisely because I can't save him that I took it into my own hands to let him go to He Yunye. I need him to quickly swear allegiance to He Yunye before trouble brews! Should Yang Qing do as he is told, words will get out that he was the first to turn against me. After this, should I not save him, then others would not say a word against me!"
Realization suddenly dawned on the handmaiden. No wonder her master had taken the initiative to urge Yang Qing to quickly swear allegiance to He Yunye. It was only before trouble brewed, that letting Yang Qing join He Yunye's side would allow her master to feign ignorance. Once trouble did actually arise - Who would actually safeguard a traitor?
If Yang Qing did not swear his allegiance to He Yunye, then the moment something happened and her master didn't manage to save Yang Qing, then that would truly be a matter for embarrassment; it would definitely leave others bitterly disappointed in him.
Urging Yang Qing to swear allegiance to He Yunye of his own accord, was exactly to let Yang Qing shoulder the reputation of a traitor. Only with that could her master circumvent blame for being unjustly disloyal. Nobody would speak another word about it.
Whilst the handmaiden was impressed, she couldn't help but worryingly comment, "Yang Qing is very shrewd. If he sees through master's plan and decides not to swear allegiance, what will happen then?"
Feng Zhihuan smiled coldly, "I do not plan to help him, so does he have any choice now? He killed one of Han Liuping's. Han Liuping will never accept him!"
"Master is wise!" praised the handmaiden.
On the other hand, the moment Yang Qing left the mountain, his expression immediately turned sour.
He had only feigned civility earlier. In reality, what he truly felt could only be described with the word 'hate'. Yet, he had no choice but to act with perfunctory courtesy.
Since he began administrating over South Edict Manor until now, he had given the majority of his benefits to Feng Zhihuan to secure his control. He had hoped for Feng Zhihuan to help him endure the pressure from above, yet when push came to shove, Feng Zhihuan received his share of the benefits without even the slightest intention of breaking a sweat to protect him. Feng Zhihuan had only given him a cursory line, asking him to swear allegiance to He Yunye, and was unwilling to bother with the least bit of trouble.
Yang Qing could only hate himself for being blind back then. If he had known things would turn out this way, why would he ever have chosen to rely on Feng Zhihuan? Directly swearing allegiance to He Yunye would have made his life easier.
He was originally a subordinate of Lu Yu. In order to protect himself, and with the assurance of Feng Zhihuan from the shadows, he was able to revolt against Lu Yu and serve under Feng Zhihuan instead. Now that Feng Zhihuan was forcing him to change sides and swear allegiance to He Yunye, wouldn't he become a treacherous, double-crossing servant?
Did he still want to keep his dignity henceforth? After this incident, how could he bear to face everyone? How could he convince the masses, let alone his subordinates?
He, Yang Qing, was not a fool. He knew exactly why Feng Zhihuan had gone out of his way and convinced him to swear allegiance to He Yunye. But since he was directly involved now, he had no other choice...
Far-off in the Boundless Nation, Miao Yi was unaware that his great benefactor had run into trouble.
People on the lower echelons could only see the vast benefits the upper echelons were reaping. They could only picture Yang Qing sitting on the manor's territory, and wielding the awe-inspiring authority of the Manor Head in his grasp - How could they be aware of the hardships the upper echelons faced?
Miao Yi was quite envious of Yang Qing. He sat atop the seat of the Manor Head and without raising a finger, every year he would still receive a large number of Orbs of Will; unlike himself, having to risk his life to dashing madly about, all because of Orbs of Will.
But Miao Yi was now ecstatic.
Yao Ruoxian had spent another month's time, and the produced barding was already being worn by Charcoal.
Charcoal felt uncomfortable, so he kept twisting his body around. He had never been restricted to this extent before, and the fatty hated the idea of being restricted.
"Damn fatty, don't move! Let me check you out properly," Miao Yi circled around him, clicking his tongue as he gazed admiringly.
Charcoal now appeared all the more striking and formidable; his stature tall, sturdy and dominating. His previous chubbiness couldn't be seen anymore, because it was now already concealed by a set of silvery armor.
The helm was tough with a long, sharp horn rising from the temple just like a unicorn. From the mouth of the helm to the flaps on either sides of its mouth, were two individual rows of razor-sharp spikes, each roughly the size of a thumb. There were more than ten of them; if anyone were to be brushed by his head, even if they didn't die from it, their flesh would surely be ripped apart.
His neckpiece was made up of silvery fish-scales each roughly the size of a fist, cascading down in layers. Only where his mane rested on his nape remained uncovered, lending the exposed mane an even great elegance. Moving onto the chest area, it was also ultimately covered in solid armour sporting another razor-sharp spike jutting out from his chest.
Charcoal's well-built physique was covered by numerous fist-sized scales, and on either sides of its abdomen, were three long, razor-sharp spikes. Whilst riding him, they could be used as defence and also as a place to rest his feet.
His hindquarters were also enclosed within sturdy armor, leaving his tail exposed to swish about outside.
Just over the base of his tail was another long, razor-sharp spike, slanted towards the back. On either sides of his rear, were a set of three finger-length pointed spikes, forming a triangle.
Solid armored pieces with moveable joints covered his four limbs entirely, and firmly. A sharp spike could be found jutting out from the side of his thigh pieces; around the joints of his four limbs were four finger-length spikes, while the top of his four hooves resembled earthenware pots with four sharp spikes lining the edges.
Charcoal's entire body was not only sealed tight in armor, the places where it was easy to be struck were refined with spikes of different sizes to act as protection. Once he went into combat, he would definitely gain the upper-hand.
Currently, Charcoal no longer resembled a mount, and was instead more akin to a sinister monster donning barbed armor. Just standing, the sight of him alone was already extremely intimidating. He truly had a glorious, and frightful appearance, as though he were a dinosaur from ancient times.
After circling around him, Miao Yi suddenly spread open his arms and a cloud of silvery mist exploded from inside the storage ring to descend onto his body. With a set of remarkably resplendent beast-armor on his body, and the Inversed-Scales Spear in his hand, he swiftly descended onto Charcoal's back.
A pair of savage wolven greaves stepped onto the sharp spikes on either sides of Charcoal's abdomen. Brandishing the Inversed-Scales Spear in his hand, several dragon roars immediately resounded.
He pointed the Inversed-Scales Spear at the reef that snaked up and down the coast. Charcoal let out a long neigh as his four limbs shot out rapidly like gusts of wind.
The were patterns of winds and surging clouds on the armour covering Charcoal's entire body. When he increased his speed to a galloped, it immediately looked as though he was chasing the clouds and breaking through the wind, projecting an air of fearsome magnificence!
They were just about to crash head first with a reef by the coast when suddenly, Miao Yi leaned forward on Charcoal's back; the armour on Charcoal's body instantly released a crystalline burst of white light.
As a result of the head on collision with Charcoal, a towering reef five to six metres tall was instantly vaporized. Leaning against Charcoal's back, Miao Yi hurtled out with his mount through the swirl of crushed stones in the air. Without stopping, they crashed all the way into the field of towering reefs by the seaside.
Miao Yi hadn't invoked his arts to perform any supplementary attacks, he only invoked his art to command the armor on Charcoal's body. He hid himself on Charcoal's back and held his spear behind him with one hand, allowing Charcoal to charge a path violently throughout.