Wan Shunchang laughed, "Should this succeed, Yan Qing's three second grade transcendent artifacts will belong to Brother Zhang. I'm willing to include the same benefits that Brother Zhang has been honoring the Advisor with for another three years."
On hearing these words, Zhang Decheng immediately lifted his head and laughed, "You shouldn't have..."
Deep down, Wan Shunchang was slandering his ancestors yet on the surface, he still spoke with politeness, "It does me no good to step in personally, so I will depend completely on Brother Zhang. This is just a small token of my appreciation, so Brother Zhang, please don't decline it. Otherwise, I will not be at ease!"
Zhang Decheng sighed, "Since Advisor He has already told me to, and since Brother Han personally took care of it, I will definitely do my very best!"
Wan Shunchang cupped his fists in thanks. "Brother Zhang, there's no time to lose!"
Zhang Decheng leapt off the stone chair, walked out of his silent quarters and informed his handmaidens, "Pass on my order. Command all the Mountain Chieftains to immediately come and see me!"
With the Manor Head's order, all of the Mountain Chieftains of Ever Peace Manor came from afar. They enclosed themselves within the grand hall, conspiring for a long period of time.
After they were dismissed, the respective Mountain Chieftains rushed back hurriedly to their own territories. Not one stayed behind at Ever Peace Manor.
On the way back, a herd of dragon steeds galloped swiftly with a rumble.
When Duan Jirui, the Mountain Chieftain of Mount Heavenly Grace, first arrived, he'd initially brought along just two attendants. When he left, however, his party had increased to more than twenty attendants. They were men who'd escaped from Yang Qing's blade after the fall of the former Manor Head of South Edict Manor, Lu Yu, and had sought asylum at Ever Peace Manor.
The previous Transient Light Cave Master, Yuan Zhengkun, as well as his subordinates Li Xin and Sun Jiaojiao were also amongst them. Shockingly, even the former East Arrival Cave's Chen Fei, rode with them.
These people had not lived comfortably at Ever Peace Manor all these years. The elders of Ever Peace Manor would never give a lucrative post to new men who came to seek asylum. They didn't care about their cultivation level and were all told to stand at the sidelines, receiving the lowest wage and performing the lowest level of chores.
Those who were not willing could leave at any time—they wouldn't force them to stay.
However, nobody was willing to leave to become loose cultivators, as their individual cultivation bases didn't have any special abilities that could support such a lifestyle. They were afraid that it would be extremely difficult to obtain even one Orb of Will.
It must be borne in mind that it was easy to leave, but to enter the circle again would be a very difficult feat to achieve as they would all be waiting painstakingly for seats to become available again.
For the sake of preventing a large commotion in maneuvering troops from other areas, Manor Head Zhang Decheng allocated all of the men seeking asylum to the Mountain Chieftain of Mount Heavenly Grace, Duan Jirui.
Since the first battle would need to start from Duan Jirui's area, this was considered a way to strengthen his troops in order to avoid any mishaps.
The end of the year was almost here, the weather gradually turning cold. A group of people rode without rest amidst the chilling wind as they hurriedly traveled back to Mount Heavenly Grace, worn out and weary.
Upon returning to their own territory, Duan Jirui instantly ordered all the respective Cave Masters to come forth to discuss matters of importance.
After the respective Cave Masters arrived in quick succession, they also went straight for the grand hall, except for the twenty plus men that Duan Jirui brought along from Ever Peace Manor. They were all left stationed outside.
In the courtyard, more than twenty people huddled together. Li Xin and Sun Jiaojiao were with Yuan Zhengkun as usual.
"Cave Master, they suddenly gathered us here. Do you think there's something going on?" Li Xin asked, secretly transmitting his voice.
Behind everyone's back, the both of them still addressed Yuan Zhengkun as Cave Master.
This was because the both of them knew quite well that Yuan Zhengkun's cultivation base was much higher than theirs. If by chance there were any open seats available to be filled, Yuan Zhengkun would definitely have a higher chance than them. When falling into dire straits, there was nothing to lose by maintaining good relations since in the future, they might have to rely on Yuan Zhengkun.
Yuan Zhengkun shook his head. "I don't know what matter this could be. Sigh! People have to bow their heads under the eaves, so just resign yourself to fate!"
He really missed the days when he was the Cave Master of Transient Light Cave.
Nowadays, he could only get one low-grade Orb of Will per year and didn't even have a handmaiden assigned to him. This lifestyle now was too hard to bear. Luckily, he still had two former subordinates following him.
Actually, none of the twenty plus people present knew what was going on, but they knew that something was definitely going to happen.
After waiting for half a day, the courtyard gate suddenly flung open, prompting everyone to simultaneously turn their heads to look.
A tall, grim man stood at the entrance with two attendants following behind him. No one knew who he was.
The man swept a chilling gaze across the crowd and uttered expressionlessly, "I am the Cave Master of Emerald Forest Cave, and the Mountain Chieftain has assigned all of you to me. Follow me!"
Without caring for whether they agreed or not, he had already quickly turned around and left.
Everybody exchanged speechless looks with each other. To their surprise, a Cave Master had accepted all twenty plus of them, which amounted to having enough troops for two caves. What did one cave need so many people for?
Everybody did not dare to object, and just like that, followed after him without rhyme or reason.
East Arrival City was bustling as usual. A river flowed through the two banks, and the people, both young and old, only cared about their livelihood and were oblivious to the uphill struggle that cultivators faced.
The Cave Master of East Arrival Cave was someone too aloof and remote from these ordinary folks. Regardless of whether he was in East Arrival Cave or not, his presence didn't seem to have any affect on them. Even if he were to stand before them, they wouldn't know who he was.
A man wearing a bamboo hat crossed the streets and alleys before coming to a halt at the backyard of a residence. He lifted his head to look around the vicinity and quickly snuck into the residence when no one was around.
A chilly wind rustled in the air as the hundred blossoms withered in the courtyard. A small boy was currently prodding an ant's nest under the large tree.
The widowed Ji Xiufang came to the courtyard, peering about. Upon finding her son, she moved with quick steps and dragged him away. She was about to lecture him, when suddenly a man wearing a bamboo hat dropped from the tree top onto the ground.
Jumping with fright, Ji Xiufang was on the verge of screaming, but the bamboo hat man had already rushed to say in a low voice, "Xiufang, it's me."
The bamboo hat man raised his head, instantly stunning the terrified and gape-mouthed Ji Xiufang. She immediately cried out in joy, "Uncle, why are you here?"
The man was not just anyone. He was none other than Jiu Xiufang's uncle, Chen Fei. Back then, he had lost the battle and then fled from this place.
As to why he'd come here again, due to his former position at East Arrival Cave, he was familiar with its state of affairs. After being summoned for a private discussion with the Emerald Forest Cave Master, Meng Yide, he was thus sent to come here and fish for information in order to prepare for the ensuing attack.
Chen Fei now knew, ahead of Yuan Zhengkun and the others, as to why everyone had been temporarily dispatched to serve under the Emerald Forest Cave Master.
Ever Peace Manor had already sharpened their sword, and East Arrival Cave would be the first place to be cut through by their blade.
Chen Fei had waited for this day for a very long time. Should they win this battle, the whole of South Edict Manor would definitely have a large amount of empty seats. His difficult life was finally coming to an end.
However, nothing ever goes as planned and it was normal to expect casualties. Should they lose in this battle, Chen Fei was worried that Ji Xiufang would once again suffer. Previously, he had abandoned Ji Xiufang and made his escape because it was too late and he didn't have any other choice.
Last time, he'd been fortunate to have Miao Yi protecting her. This time around, he was making a comeback by attacking East Arrival Cave. Under such circumstances, he was afraid that Miao Yi would no longer have the ability to safeguard Ji Xiufang.
Ji Xiufang was the only close relative he had left in the secular world. Since he was given the chance to come early, he was going to to take advantage of it and make advance arrangements.
Chen Fei made a gesture, signaling his niece to lower her voice and casually caressed the confused child who lifted his head to look. He then made his niece put him aside to play.
He sized up the pampered Ji Xiufang from head to toe with a glance. There were no traces of hardships and trouble on her. Chen Fei felt slightly at ease to see that his niece had been living a good life.
Ji Xiufang watched him gaze at her until she felt embarrassed. She then reached out and extended an invitation, "Uncle, please come into the house and sit."
Chen Fei waved his hand and peered about his surroundings before softly replying, "No need to trouble you. I will leave after I'm done speaking. Xiufang, listen to me carefully. After I leave, you must immediately pack your things and depart from the west city gates. I've arranged a person to meet you outside the city."
"Leave?" Ji Xiufang was shocked as she asked, "Uncle, why do we have to leave?"
"Xiufang, don't ask why. Just do exactly as I say. I will never bring you harm."
Ji Xiufang was too stumped for words. After living through the ordeals from last time, and upon seeing her uncle behaving suspiciously now, she felt inevitably nervous deep down and could already vaguely guess that something horrible was about to happen. Thus, she nodded, asking cautiously, "Uncle, Sir Miao looked after us with great care. Since we're leaving, shouldn't I go bid farewell to him?"
Chen Fei was more or less taken aback. "You're talking about Brother Miao, Miao Yi? He's at East Arrival City now?"
Ji Xiufang nodded her head in reply. "He's currently the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave. Didn't Uncle know?"
Actually, at first she hadn't known as Miao Yi hadn't revealed his identity to her. But during each festival, Xu Xinliang, the City Lord of East Arrival City, would personally pay her a visit. And it was exactly from Xu Xinliang's mouth that she knew Sir Miao was actually the master of the entire realm of East Arrival City.
"Brother Miao is the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave?" It could be said that Chen Fei was in utter shock! He hadn't expected Miao Yi to progress at such a great speed.
He was somewhat dubious when he thought of Miao Yi's cultivation base. Could it be that his cultivation base's growth rate was far greater than what he'd imagined?
Next, it was shocking to have this knowledge about Miao Yi, and how troublesome this was going to be.
Seeing her uncle furrowing his brows, Ji Xiufang asked, "Uncle, is there something wrong?"
Chen Fei recovered his wits, "Xiufang, you don't need to care about the rest. Just follow exactly what I tell you to do. I will inform Brother Miao myself."
Ji Xiufang acquiesced with a nod, not daring to be disobedient. Towards this uncle who was an Immortal, she still held a feeling of reverence deep down...
After leaving the city, Chen Fei hid outside the city and witnessed a couple of horse carriages carrying his niece's family away. After that, he immediately turned to summon a dragon steed which had been hiding in the mountain. Mounting the steed, he threw his bamboo hat away before speeding off.
After learning about Miao Yi being the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave, he made no attempt at concealment, and instead went to openly pay a visit to East Arrival Cave.
"Who goes there?! Halt and answer!"
Yan Xiu dashed out from the dark to block the mountain gates, carrying his twin broad axes.
Bringing his mount to a halt, Chen Fei casted a glance at the newly renovated mountain gates and could only feel its extraordinary loftiness. It was more bounteous than the former mountain gates. He mused that Brother Miao seemed to enjoy exhibiting a show of extravagance.
"I'm an old friend of Cave Master Miao Yi from East Arrival Cave. I hope that you can help notify him of my presence," Chen Fei replied with cupped fists.
"Cave Master's old friend?" Yan Xiu was rather hesitant. According to what he knew, because the Cave Master was basking too much in the limelight, his relations with the people in South Edict Manor was poor. Even the Mountain Chieftain did not see eye to eye with the Cave Master, so he didn't have many friends. It was more likely that he had enemies instead. He didn't know where this friend had come from, so he couldn't help but enquire, "Dare I ask what is honored Sir's name?"
Chen Fei didn't reveal his identity. He smiled. "Just inform him that an old friend who exchanged a wooden spear for a silver one has come to pay a visit. Brother Miao will naturally know who I am."
Yan Xiu couldn't figure out this riddle, but he was sure that this person may most likely be the Cave Master's friend, so he cupped his fists in reply on the spot. "Friend, you have come at a bad time. The Cave Master has gone out to attend some matters and has yet to return. Once the Cave Master is back, I will definitely inform the Cave Master of this immediately."
He did not invite Chen Fei to enter, since Chen Fei did not want to reveal his true identity. And without the Cave Master's acknowledgement, there was no way he would invite a shady person into his home.
The most important thing was that he was the only cultivator who had stayed behind at East Arrival Cave. The entire East Arrival Cave was left defenseless, so it wasn't wise to let a stranger know of its current state.