Forget about Yang Qing's subordinates, even Zhang Decheng's men were puzzled. They had no idea what Yang Qing planned to do by leading them around Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor.
As they continued the chase, one of the subordinate Mountain Chieftains Mei Yu reminded him, "Manor Head, for Yang Qing to lead us in circles around Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor, there might be some hidden agenda."
He had voiced everyone's concerns, so the other Mountain Chieftains also supported him as they listened and said, "That's right! Manor Head, Mei Yu has a point."
Clearly, everyone was trying to be more cautious. They all regarded this chase with much vigilance.
Zhang Decheng was completely furious. It wasn't that his plan hadn't been detailed enough, but just as it was about to succeed, a peon had to come and wreck everything. Hearing how everyone else wanted to halt the chase with that tone of voice, he was quite displeased. However, he still put up a front and laughed as he said, "If we were to really stop giving chase, we would have truly fallen to Yang Qing's scheme!"
The Mountain Chieftain Sheng Huaigang inquired, "May I ask the Manor Head why that is so?"
"What do you all think Yang Qing could possibly be plotting?" Zhang Decheng asked as he pointed towards the large platoon that was fleeing ahead of them. He added, "Yang Qing is fleeing before us. If he made any move, could he hide it from our eyes? Should there be anything amiss, we can always turn around and run away. What could Yang Qing do to us?"
Lin Xutian reminded, "A great portion of Yang Qing's army isn't with him now. Could Yang Qing be intentionally stalling for time so his subordinates can set up a trap, and later lure us into an ambush?"
Zhang Decheng laughed and said, "Our troops won't lose to Yang Qing's in terms of both strength and numbers. What effect could such an ambush have on us? It would be naught but a futile effort! If Yang Qing really had such intentions, then he would be the biggest of fools. If he gathered his forces, he might still be able to put up a fight against us; splitting his troops for an ambush is nothing more than a joke. If that were to happen, forget about the ambush and just concern yourselves with chasing after Yang Qing. We will immediately defeat him with greater numbers. Once Yang Qing fell, any ambush would have been for naught!"
As they listened, everyone else nodded, beginning to feel relieved. They started to believe this was the case as well after giving it some thought.
However, Mei Yu was still a little doubtful as he asked, "Yang Qing has been leading us in circles within Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's territory; could he have some sort of pact with Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor? What if Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor were to sortie and form an alliance with Yang Qing?"
Zhang Decheng shook his head and laughed as he said, "We are merely passing by Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor and not intruding on their business. If Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor were to attack us, it would undoubtedly mean that Suppressing Third Hall was attacking Suppressing Second Hall. How could the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor dare to incite a battle between two Halls?"
Mei Yu continued to ponder atop his galloping dragon steed. He was also beginning to agree with the idea after some thought, but he still felt doubtful and so asked, "Then why has Yang Qing been leading us in circles within Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's territory?"
"Seeing how relentlessly we've been chasing them for a battle to certain death, Yang Qing must be out of options and, knowing that he can't win, is intentionally creating confusion. He is trying to make us paranoid and intimidate us into ceasing our pursuit." Zhang Decheng laughed coldly, then, turning his head to the left and right, said, "Hadn't all of you almost fallen into his trap just then?!"
Sheng Huaigang and the rest had looks of shame on their faces. They immediately cupped their fists and said, "Manor Head is wise."
However, Mei Yu continued to be cautious as he said, "Thinking back, hadn't Yang Qing been able to conquer South Edict Manor precisely because he suddenly had help from the School of Blue Jade. They may decide to interfere again this time. I am afraid we have no choice but to be prepared."
"Mountain Chieftain Mei is over thinking things," said Zhang Decheng as he turned to glared at him. He was wondering why this subordinate of his kept trying to argue with him, and couldn't help himself from sounding like he was berating Mei Yu for his cowardice while accusing Mei Yu of simply over thinking the matter. "Since I dared to attack South Edict Manor, how could I not have accounted for the School of Blue Jade? The School of Blue Jade only interfered with Yang Qing and Lu Yu's battle previously, because Yang Qing had Advisor Feng supporting him from behind, but now Yang Qing has no one protecting him! I have no qualms about revealing the truth—as soon as our troops departed from Ever Peace Manor, someone from Advisor He's retinue had already issued a warning to the School of Blue Jade—external forces that would interfere with Suppressing Second Hall's matters without consent, should beware of being crushed under the armies of Suppressing Second Hall! Do you all think the School of Blue Jade dares to challenge our Suppressing Second Hall?"
Since Zhang Decheng already said this much, it would be tactless if he continued to nag. Mei Yu cupped his fists and said, "Manor Head has already accounted for everything. Your subordinate has indeed been over thinking things."
"There is no harm in being cautious!" Zhang Decheng said magnanimously, as he waved aside the apology with his hand, and continued to lead his large army on a relentless pursuit.
His face revealed very little of this thoughts, but the worries in his heart were not something that his subordinates could understand.
They'd created such a big commotion this time. It would be fine if they managed to take over South Edict Manor. Once Yang Qing was killed, you could fabricate any story you liked in order to deal with your superior. So long as it complied with the superior's demands, the superior would naturally keep one eye open and the other closed.
If they couldn't take over the Manor, then the problem was serious. Even if He Yunye had your back, once Yang Qing reported this matter to their superiors—seeing as all involved were the men of Suppressing Second Hall—what reasonable explanation was there for ambushing your own men. If that were to happen, He Yunye definitely wouldn't admit to have instigated his own men to attack one another; he would even sever all relations and push all the blame onto him, Zhang Decheng.
Seeing as things had escalated to this point, how could Zhang Decheng let Yang Qing go? He wouldn't let him go even if he had to chase him to the ends of the earth!
What angered Zhang Decheng the most was still Miao Yi's sudden appearance, throwing all his carefully laid plans down the gutter. All the benefits he could have easily gained were now a troublesome mess. He would definitely get that kid for this after everything was over...
The two armies continued to run around in Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's territory. Meanwhile within Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's territory, another group had gathered together; it was the rest of Yang Qing's subordinates that had yet to join with him.
As soon as the individual Mountain Chieftains received Yang Qing's orders, they immediately stopped rushing to his aid. After they met up for a brief discussion, they changed their course midway and directly invaded Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor from South Edict Manor.
With each Mountain's troops as an individual unit, the Mountain Chieftains all raised the banner of Zhang Decheng's Ever Peace Manor from Suppressing Second Hall, as they led their troops in an assault against Definite Peace Cave, Graceful Waters Cave, Definite Luo Cave, etc…
It was clear that it wouldn't take much time for a Mountain's troops to take over a Cave. The seven Mountain Chieftains under Yang Qing split up, and swept over the ten Caves belonging to Mount Bearing Longevity of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor.
In the end, on this cold, blistering snowy night, the seven squadrons that had massacred everywhere else, gathered at the foot of Mount Bearing Longevity. They completely surrounded Mount Longevity and viciously attacked in unison.
Misfortune seemed to simply rain down on Mount Bearing Longevity. They were attacked without a word of warning. As soon as the Mountain Chieftain of Mount Bearing Longevity released a spirit eagle to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor requesting for support, he intended to lead his men into a bloody bath to escape the encirclement. However, there were seven Mountains worth of men joining forces to attack this lone Mountain of his. Furthermore, they had completely eliminated all the forces of his subordinate Caves. As such, the result of the battle was obvious.
A trio of mountain chieftains with the Mountain Chieftain of Mount Shaotai, Xiong Xiao, taking the lead, clashed with the Mountain Chieftain of Mount Bearing Longevity in combat. Ultimately, the latter was knocked off his horse and killed by Xiong Xiao.
There were no survivors left in the purged Mount Bearing Longevity; it had undergone a cleansing of blood, and at the end of it, fire was thrown into the Mount Bearing Longevity Grand Hall.
Under the light of the raging flames, the various Mountain Chieftains gathered together and gave each other a nod. They then swiftly led their forces to dash out of Mount Bearing Longevity, acting in accordance with their plans....
Under this silent snowy night, Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor was slowly being covered with the whiteness of snow.
As he cultivated in his silent quarters, the Manor Head Liu Jingtian was disturbed by a set of rapid footsteps barging in. He opened his eyes and saw that it was his own handmaiden.
Before he even had the chance to ask what was wrong, the handmaiden had already anxiously said, "Manor Head, there is serious trouble. Suppressing Second Hall's Ever Peace Manor has led its troops to invade our Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor."
Liu Jingtian was taken aback. Surprised, he immediately asked "South Edict Manor lies in between our two Manors. How did Ever Peace Manor even manage to launch an assault? Is this information accurate?"
"The Caves under Mount Bearing Longevity have already been completely eradicated by troops personally led by Zhang Decheng, the Manor Head of Ever Peace Manor. When Mount Bearing Longevity sent in a request for aid, they were already being surrounded!" said the handmaiden as she quickly handed over the jade archive in her hands.
Liu Jingtian took the jade archive and read it. Beyond all his rage, was complete shock. What did it mean for Ever Peace Manor to attack Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor? Suppressing Second Hall had launched an assault on Suppressing Third Hall!
This incident was no small matter; it was of grave importance, and Liu Jingtian did not dare to dally as he hastily jumped down from the stone bed, and left in great strides.
Not long after, alarms sounded throughout the mountains of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor as messenger spirit eagles flew out of the Manor. Besides the ones reporting to Suppressing Third Hall, there were others swiftly flying to assemble the troops of the various mountains belonging to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor.
Manor Head Liu Jingtian donned his battle armor and led his men to gallop across the snowy night...
After gathering a Mountain's worth of men on the way to Mount Bearing Longevity, he received word that it had already been reduced to rubble. Furious, he bellowed out, "Zhang Decheng!"
"Report! Mount Returning Loyalty sends word. A large army was seen moving about suspiciously within our Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor territory!"
"The opponent came prepared. I order every Mountain to refrain from making any rash movements and quickly assemble under me!"
As he relayed his command, Liu Jingtian led his subordinates and quickly departed once again.
Halfway on their journey, a rider suddenly came up and said, "Mount Shaotai's Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao of Suppressing Second Hall, South Edict Manor is requesting to see Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's Manor Head!"
The other side was sending men to assault them; now this side was sending men to request an audience. Liu Jingtian was extremely confused as he wondered, 'Could he be here to deliver a formal declaration of war? Yet there's no need to send a Mountain Chieftain all this way just to deliver a formal declaration of war!'
He quickly gave the orders to let the person through for an interrogation.
Liu Jingtian brought his steed to a stop and paused to examine the other party. He could tell that the other party didn't look like an average cultivator.
The person who had gone to meet Xiong Xiao was beside him, transmitting messages to Liu Jingtian as he verified Xiong Xiao's identity.
The person that had come was indeed Xiong Xiao. He brought his dragon steed forward and cupped his fists in greeting as he said, "Mount Shaotai's Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao of Suppressing Second Hall, South Edict Manor, hereby requests an audience with the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor. There is something I must report; I hope you will grant me an audience!"
He asked, despite already knowing that the person before him was the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor. He pretended that he was unaware of the fact, and continued to request for an audience.
Liu Jingtian already had a dark expression on his face as he said, "I am he! You Suppressing Second Hall people still have the face to meet me. You really do not fear death!"
Xiong Xiao immediately wore a look of shock as he hurriedly jumped down from his dragon steed. He took out a jade archive and offered it up with both hands as he said, "Manor Head Yang Qing has personally signed this jade archive and ordered me to meet you, Manor Head!"
Immediately, someone took the jade archive and handed it over to Liu Jingtian. As he looked through it, Liu Jingtian couldn't help but furrow his brows.
The gist of Yang Qing's message in the jade archive was that their two Manors had always refrained from intruding in each other's businesses, but Zhang Decheng of Ever Peace Manor had led his troops over and wrecked havoc. He had escaped into Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor's territory, which is why Yang Qing was now trying to ask for Liu Jingtian's assistance in executing him. Even if they couldn't cooperate, Yang Qing hoped that Liu Jingtian would not shelter Zhang Decheng and instead, drive him back into Suppressing Second Hall's territory to avoid bringing trouble to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor. Once the deed was done, a large amount of compensation was promised.
The jade archive had Yang Qing's transcendence seal; there was no forging it.
"Drive them back? After killing my men, how would it end with just being driven back?" Liu Jingtian had a bone to pick with Zhang Decheng. It was all the more convenient to have someone to work in order to execute him, but he wouldn't just blindly cooperate with Yang Qing. He had to appraise the matter with his own eyes at the very least. Otherwise, who could tell what was true from what was false? He did not want to fall for any tricks.