They immediately cupped their fists and said, "Your disciples understand. Fret not Master, we shall not disappoint you!"
"Good, very good. It’s good that both of you could understand!"
Hong Changhai patted both their shoulders in relief. There was no need for more words if he already managed to get across to them. He turned back and signaled for them to return.
Not long after, Hong Changhai came forward on his steed, personally leading the two disciples heading the group of twenty men over, from the distant mountain slope. He stopped in front of Miao Yi, then extended his arm to point to the group and said, "Cave Master Miao, I have brought you the men you wanted. Here is the name list, and their details."
Miao Yi received the jade archive presented to him. After looking through it, he noticed the names of the Blue Lotus cultivators Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan. He raised his head and looked at the group to ask, "Which of you are Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan?"
"Yuan Fang, Lai Yuhan, greet the Cave Master!"
Both of them cupped their fists and paid their respects. They remembered the Master’s instructions and didn’t put on any airs, acting fully as expected of subordinates.
They were two old men. Miao Yi was a little depressed, since of all things, the two old men had feminine names. Those who had yet to see them would definitely have assume that they were women.
He checked the others, and realised that they were all old men as well. There was not a single youth.
He couldn’t help but turn to glance at Yan Xiu, who was behind him. Yan Xiu immediately brought his dragon steed forward a step to receive his orders, expecting Miao Yi to have some instruction.
Unexpectedly, Miao Yi shook his head; he didn’t have any orders for him.
They wouldn’t expect that Miao Yi’s heart was now filled with lament. Yan Xiu was also an old man, and in addition, Yao Ruoxian was an old man as well. It seemed that amongst the cultivators in the entire East Arrival Cave, the Cave Master himself was the youngest. A young Cave Master leading a bunch of old men—wouldn’t it be a little too conspicuous when they ventured out?
However, he let it be after giving it another thought. What he wanted was their cultivation, their appearance or age didn’t matter as long as he could use them well.
Upon receiving the records, Miao Yi cupped his fists towards Hong Changhai and said, "Elder Hong, I still have matters to attend to. I shall be taking my leave now!"
Hong Changhai also cupped his fists and courteously said, "Cave Master Miao, I hope you will take good care of our school’s disciples from now on!"
"Regarding this, you may be at ease. So long as they heed my commands, I will not mistreat them. I bid you farewell!"
"Forgive me for not sending you off!"
Miao Yi swept a glance at his powerful-looking subordinates. His confidence doubled, and his spirits soared as he silently declared to himself, ‘Xiong Xiao you filthy bastard, wait for me. I will immediately send troops over and butcher Yuan Zhengkun. Let’s see what you can do about it!’
"Move out!" the Great Cave Master Miao shouted, sweeping his arm and taking the lead at a gallop.
The group of School of Blue Jade disciples cupped their fists towards Hong Changhai and bid their farewells, then immediately brought their steeds to a gallop and followed after.
As they traveled, the snow covering the surface of the road was swept up from the galloping dragon steeds. Halfway along their journey, the sunlight began to fade, and petals of snow began sprinkling down from the sky once more.
The twenty over steeds didn’t stop for a moment, and went straight for the great seaside within East Arrival Cave’s domain. They came to a halt beside the reefs by the shoreline.
Under the bleak grey sky, petals of snow continued to flutter about, as waves of the mighty sea crashed unceasingly against the shore.
Seated atop of Charcoal, Miao Yi swept a glance over his surrounding before shouting, "Qian’Er, Xue’Er, will the both of you not come out and see me!?"
Not long after, from one of the reefs, a small head poked out as it took a peek. Then, that head turned around for a moment as though calling for someone—after which, two heads popped out.
Who else could it be, but Qian’Er and Xue’Er?
In turn, who else could that man—mounted on a dragon steed at the forefront of the crowd—be, but their Cave Master?
The Cave Master looked even more imposing than before he had left. There were so many old men loyally standing guard behind the Cave Master. It was obvious at a glance that they were being led by their Cave Master.
The two young ladies’ hearts were instantly relieved. Before then, they were still worried about whether they could ever meet the Cave Master again.
Both of them were visibly surprised and overjoyed—holding onto their skirts as they ran out. They stopped just in front of Charcoal to fix their skirts a little, before shouting out together, "We greet the Cave Master!"
Miao Yi raised his hand gently, indicating that there was no need for formalities, and said, "I have put the both of you through a difficult time!"
When they heard this, the two young ladies recalled the tragedy that had befallen them, and tears began to flow. However, they wiped off their tears and stifled their wails to respond, "Cave Master, you have returned. Our home has been overrun by invaders, and our sisters…."
"The enemy has already been chased out. It’s alright now!" Miao Yi comforted.
The two young ladies continued wiping away their tears as they gazed at him and nodded; they didn’t doubt his words at all. In their eyes, the Cave Master had always been extremely formidable. Those evil men who had provoked the Cave Master’s return, would definitely meet with misfortune. There was no doubting that they would be chased away by the Cave Master.
Besides being quite surprised, Yan Xiu also had tears in his eyes. He thought that the two young ladies had met with a terrible fate. He would never have guessed that they were still alive and actually hiding here, but truly speaking—where else could they have hidden? They would naturally hide in a sheltered place that they were familiar with. How could he not have thought to look for them here? Moreover, how did the Cave Master know that they were hiding here? Looking at both the young ladies’ reactions, it was evident that they hadn’t told the Cave Master beforehand. However, without searching anywhere else, the Cave Master had made a beeline for this place as soon as he returned, and found them.
Yan Xiu couldn’t help but admit his inferiority. It was no wonder the other party could become a Cave Master at such a young age. He could even return alive from the Sea of Constellations, so he definitely had a better mind than his own.
Miao Yi leaned forward of his own accord and extended an arm to the both of them, then pulled the both of them up and seated them behind him. Tugging on the reins, he pulled his horse around and turned his head back to shout, "Return to East Arrival Cave!"
Behind him, over twenty steeds immediately launched into a gallop and followed…
When they last left East Arrival Cave, it was still in once piece. However, as they returned to see East Arrival Cave in ruins and the unsightly corpses of their sisters hanging in the fluttering snow, the two young ladies teared up again. They ran up, intending to let down the corpses dangling from the broken beam, but were stopped by Yan Xiu. He pointed towards Miao Yi, who was now walking towards Yao Ruoxian, indicating that it was the Cave Master’s orders.
Yuan Fang and the rest looked at the ruined East Arrival Cave, then at the hung corpses that had been defiled. Every single one of them couldn’t help but exchange glances with one another.
Yao Ruoxian had been sitting on a stone pillar that had collapsed onto the ground. He had one foot hooked over the other, and was quite cheerful as he looked at the approaching Miao Yi. His unkempt beard slightly littered with snowflakes.
"Has Senior been guarding this place the whole time?" Miao Yi asked respectfully with cupped fists, but he was cursing the other party in his mind.
Unexpectedly, Yao Ruoxian smiled and responded by asking a completely unrelated question, "Is that woman your lover?"
"...." Miao Yi was stunned. He turned to look back at Qian’Er and Xue’Er, then said, "They are my handmaidens." Yao Ruoxian shook his head, then stood up to pat him on the shoulder and said, "Not them. I was talking about that woman that you single-handedly rescued from the encirclement."
"Uhhh…." Miao Yi muttered in puzzlement, "You mean our Mountain Chieftain Qin Weiwei? How could I ever have a thing with her?"
Yao Ruoxian chuckled and replied, "Then you must be in love with her. Otherwise, why would you risk your life to rescue her?"
"I'm in love with her?" Miao Yi scoffed. "That vile woman? Me—in love with her? Even if she were to kneel in front of me and beg for my affection, I would still immediately turn away and leave. I would sooner fall in love with a hog than ever fall in love with that vile woman. Senior Yao, what kind of taste do you have? I am indebted to her old man, so I was merely repaying the favor….. Eh, something’s not right! How did you even know that I rescued her?"
He swept a suspicious glance at the wretched old man from top to bottom, before saying, "You were following me?"
If Qin Weiwei had heard what he just said, she would probably want to kill him.
Yao Ruoxian snickered, unsure whether he was telling the truth or not. However, he did see Miao Yi in a slightly new light—to be able to curse her as a vile woman, it really seemed impossible for him to love her. Risking his life to repay a favor, and being willing to throw everything away to save a dragon steed—this kid was indeed a faithful person. It was truly a little interesting…
Miao Yi felt a drop of cold sweat form after realising that this old man had really been following him all this time. If he had run away in the midst of it all, his head might have been smashed to bits by this old man’s mace.
It was not that he had never thought about running away, but even if he could escape this moment, he couldn’t run away his whole life. He was already a part of the system, so it wasn’t up to him to decide when to leave, and when to return. If he had really run away, then it wouldn’t only be Yao Ruoxian who would want to settle a score with him, even the current rules of the system would not let him go.
Furthermore, Yao Ruoxian already clearly told him that if he dared to escape, he would immediately divulge the secret of his tiny mantids to the public. If that were to happen, there would definitely be countless people who would want to catch Miao Yi. With the entire cultivation realm helping him look, he wanted to see where Miao Yi would be able to hide. If he couldn’t have the tiny mantids, then the brat wouldn’t be enjoying himself either.
Yao Ruoxian didn’t stay on the subject for long. He pursed his lips at the ruined East Arrival Cave and said, "This place is cold and frigid. Are you really planning on staying outdoors?"
"I will settle it." Miao Yi replied. He walked over to Yuan Fang and the rest, ordering them to chop down trees and build a temporary shelter against the wind and snow.
Regarding the reconstruction of East Arrival Cave, he had already made a vow beforehand. As the ten corpses hung in the freezing wind, they continued giving everyone an unearthly chill, and served to remind him of his vow.
Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan also didn’t make any fuss. They gave off the impression that they would obey every order without question. They were quite cooperative, and immediately organized their fellow disciples to begin working.
At Ever Peace Manor, within the courtyard for visiting guests—Wan Shunchang was leisurely walking in the snow, admiring both the snow and the plums.
The sound of a stampede thundered from afar, lifting his spirits after waiting so long for news. He dusted his clothes with both his hands and pulled them into shape. Pointing in the direction of the grand hall to the handmaiden by his side, he cheerfully said, "Good news is here. It must be Brother Zhang’s return after his victory. Come, let us go see!"
The handmaiden’s lips curved into a smile as she was also pleased. If her master could really leave that Suppressing Second Hall where there was always someone restricting their movements, and become the master of a domain, not only would there be more benefits, she would also have much more freedom. A handmaiden’s status always followed the ebb and flow of the tides.
Both master and handmaiden quickly made their way towards the grand hall. Suddenly, as they were reaching the hall, they heard the booming sounds battle and death.
The sounds of battle went on for just a short moment, before everything returned to silence after a few terse screams.
Wan Shunchang was anxious to see what had happened. He quickly rushed to the grand hall, and was greeted by the sight of Yang Qing leading a large army to invade this land. The cultivators that had stayed to keep guard hadn’t had high cultivations—how could they have withstood the assault of such a large force? For the most part, they were decimated in an instant by the larger force, and didn’t put up much of a resistance.
When he saw Yang Qing leading the troops, Wan Shunchang was taken aback. He thought, ‘How could Yang Qing be here? Don’t tell me Zhang Decheng lost? This isn’t possible!’
"Insolent Yang Qing, why are you invading Ever Peace Manor with your men?" standing atop the grand hall, Wan Shunchang shouted as he pointed downwards.
As one of the six Deacons of Suppressing Second Hall, even though his position was of equal rank to the ten Manor Heads, he was still someone who handled affairs at a higher level and as such, had the right to take such a tone.
Yang Qing lifted his head to observe him, then raised his arm to stop the men behind him. They all halted in response.
As he narrowed his eyes to peer at Wan Shunchang for a moment, Yang Qing already had an idea of what was going on.