Although he knew that He Yunye was backing Zhang Decheng, he still tried to guess who would be chosen to pick this ‘South Edict Manor’ peach. But after seeing Wan Shunchang’s appearance, Yang Qing couldn’t stop himself from sneering. It had been this guy all along. Prior to this, he’d still wondered how that fool Zhang Decheng had been able to think of such a wise move. Evidently, someone had personally come to lend a hand.
"Looks like it’s Deacon Wan!" Yang Qing was neither deferential, nor was he contemptuous. He cupped his fists slightly and then loudly declared, "Zhang Decheng led his troops in revolt and attacked my South Edict Manor. He was then defeated by me, and afterwards I rushed over with my units to destroy the dregs of Ever Peace Manor. I never thought I’d see Deacon Wan here as well. What a coincidence!" His tone was dripping with sarcasm.
Inwardly, Wan Shunchang was astonished, uncertain whether this declaration was genuine or fake. In a flash, he mentally devised a plan. Regardless of whether Zhang Decheng was dead or alive—and even if he were dead—it wouldn’t change the outcome of taking over Ever Peace Manor instead of South Edict Manor. The harvesting of Orbs of Will would soon be imminent. He would not allow this peach to be picked by Yang Qing.
He put on an imposing front as he arrogantly shouted, "Nonsense! Hurry up and step down! Lead your forces out of Ever Peace Manor immediately, and if not, don’t blame me for reporting you to the Hall Master for conspiring against him!" As he spoke, he cupped his hands in a respectful gesture towards the direction of Suppressing Second Hall.
But Yang Qing was not one to be so easily deceived. He had dared to lead his men to seize Ever Peace Manor, so naturally he must have made his decision earlier on. He gestured with his hand and pointed at Wan Shunchang, abruptly giving his commands, "Surround them! Kill all rebels without mercy!"
His subordinates were terror-stricken. Their Manor Head had ordered them to surround the Deacon of Suppressing Second Hall! This wouldn’t become an issue, right?
But right from the start, everyone here had killed upon command; there was no mistaking that every order must be executed without fail. What’s more, everyone’s future was already tied to Yang Qing’s. Nobody dared to disobey his orders.
Instantly, five Mountain Chieftains led their armies—hundreds of cavalry units charging towards both sides with a rumble, surrounding Ever Peace Manor Grand Hall.
Behind Yang Qing, a group of subordinates stayed behind to protect him, and so he held a calm expression on his face as he sat towering on his dragon steed.
The handmaiden next to Wan Shunchang turned pale, but Wan Shunchang was furious. He pointed downwards at Yang Qing and yelled angrily, "Yang Qing, what are you trying to do? Have you decided to revolt?!"
"Hall Master would be an excellent judge on who’s leading a revolt here. There’s no need for you to worry. A Deacon such as yourself has no authority to punish Manor Heads!" Yang Qing sneered as he said, "Deacon Wan, why are you here? Could it be that you’re planning something?"
"What scheme would I have? It’s nothing unusual for a Deacon of Suppressing Second Hall to check up on all the Manors. Must I seek your agreement, Yang Qing?"
"Oh! Then how strange. Since you’ve been frequenting Ever Peace Manor, then are you blind? If you’ve been staying at Ever Peace Manor, don’t you dare claim that you were unaware of Zhang Decheng attacking South Edict Manor with his own troops! If you knew this already, then why didn’t you report this immediately and attempt to stop it!? You’re still here saying it’s black when it’s white! Just what sort of intentions are you harboring?!"
Speechless with humiliation from Yang Qing’s words, Wan Shunchang flew into a rage. He couldn’t say this had all been planned out by the upper echelons, so he lashed out, "INSOLENCE!"
"There are some matters that are known by all. You know very well the kind of filthy scheme you’re planning." Yang Qing suddenly raised his hand and pointed, shouting violently without restraint, "Wan Shunchang! Get the hell out of Ever Peace Manor immediately! Otherwise, don’t blame me for not giving face!"
Wan Shunchang immediately flew into a fit of rage, "Such shameless bravado! I’m standing right here and now, and I’d love to see how you dare to retaliate!"
"Then I’ll let you see it clearly!" Flipping his hand with ease, Zhang Decheng’s head flashed out of Yang Qing’s storage ring. He held it on his hand in display as he angrily exclaimed, "I have Zhang Decheng’s head right here. Beheading him was the same as slaughtering an animal—as easy as pie. I seized it just like that! You wish for my South Edict Manor, do you not? Come at me, this head will serve as a warning to you! Wan Shunchang! I am giving you one last chance, get the f*ck out of Ever Peace Manor immediately! If not, I will cut your bastard head off and gift the rest of these colluding, villainous, treasonous heads to the Hall Master!"
Wan Shunchang bellowed with fury, "YOU DARE?!"
"Having lopped off Zhang Decheng’s head, I have no qualms adding one more to the pile. Let’s see whether I dare to or not!" Yang Qing waved his hands and pointed, as he loudly ordered, "In position!"
At his command, all his troops immediately brandished their weapons. They avidly eyed the grand hall—the moment Yang Qing uttered the word ‘kill’, they would instantly launch their attack.
Wan Shunchang’s expression became twisted at this grand display of insolence. The handmaiden beside him had turned a deathly shade of pale.
"Yang Qing! I’ll let you be pleased with yourself for now. Let’s see you try to explain yourself once you reach Suppressing Second Hall!"
"Your concern is unnecessary!"
Yang Qing currently held the advantage, therefore Wan Shunchang conceded in the end. He turned around to call out to the handmaiden, "Let’s go!"
His cultivation level was two grades higher than Yang Qing’s, therefore he wasn’t afraid of duking it out one-to-one.
But he was unable to charge forwards, as he currently lacked the leg strength of a dragon steed. Under these circumstances, if Yang Qing were to encircle their forces, leading his hundreds of troops to besiege them en masse, Wan Shunchang wouldn’t be able to withstand the attack.
Even if Yang Qing himself did not strike out, Wan Shunchang still wouldn’t be able to stop the powerful impact of so many dragon steeds— he could never outrun their speed.
What’s more, Yang Qing had easily killed Zhang Decheng, which further intensified his inner turmoil.
So Yang Qing was not in the least bit afraid of him. If He Yunye were here instead, then Yang Qing would definitely be out of options, and could only obediently withdraw from Ever Peace Manor.
Both men were seen going down the grand hall together, only to be stopped by a large crowd of troops glaring with hostility.
His path blocked, Wan Shunchang turned to cast a gloomy glance at Yang Qing’s direction. Yang Qing scoffed coldly, "I won’t see you out!"
The surrounding crowd immediately opened up a pathway. Wan Shunchang quickly left with his handmaiden, retrieving a dragon steed from the back of the mountain before gloomily rushing off.
Yang Qing appeared unconcerned with Wan Shunchang. Soon after, he ordered his subordinates to inspect the entirety of Ever Peace Manor.
Naturally, such matters didn’t require a Manor Head to throw his cap into the ring. Nine Mountain Chieftains had gathered by his side.
Xiong Xiao couldn’t help but worry. "Manor Head, once he returns to Suppressing Second Hall, do you think Deacon Wan will start spreading rumours and cause trouble in front of the Hall Master?"
Yang Qing sneered. "Will you believe me when I say that he won’t even dare to speak of today’s incident before the Hall Master?"
Somebody voiced out puzzlingly, "Manor Head, why is that so?"
"There are some top-level matters beyond your knowledge, and it would be inconvenient for me to elaborate them to you. To put it briefly, I shouldered the infamy of swearing allegiance to He Yunye, and yet he still double-cross me. In the midst of all this, Wan Shunchang must have decided to join forces with them; he’s too anxious to pluck the peach and thus unwilling to relinquish the merits. This was all because they consider me, Yang Qing, a pushover and a person easily exploited. And thus, they found someone who was willing to help out. There are those who can help Wan Shunchang accomplish his goals, whereas I cannot. I can never help him succeed. They have already provoked me to take action and if I were to let this pass, what would that make me? As matters stand, if I were to withdraw now, then Wan Shunchang would become the master of Ever Peace Manor. But now I’ve forced him to retreat with his tail between his legs. In the end, who ended up being humiliated? Would a man so incompetent dare to stand before the Hall Master and stir up rumors and trouble, unafraid of others knowing that he’s a good-for-nothing? However, today’s incident can never be hidden from the Hall Master. So long as the master of Suppressing Second Hall remains unchanged, he will never use that good-for-nothing Wan Shunchang again! He will forever languish in obscurity! He should stop wishing to hold command over a domain and should just obediently stay as a Deacon. I, Yang Qing, have no reason to be afraid of him!"
Upon listening to Yang Qing’s words, realization suddenly dawned on the respective Mountain Chieftains. They nodded their heads in full admiration, and had more or less learned something from him: sometimes being adamant can also be an asset. At the same time, they were now more confident of Yang Qing’s decision to seize control of Ever Peace Manor. Since the Manor Head was calm and clear-headed and knew what to do, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Qing Mei and Qing Ju exchanged glances with each other. The two handmaidens’ hearts eventually calmed down. After seeing their Manor Head turn the tide of battle, as well as his efforts to salvage a desperate crisis to reverse the course of events, the admiration they held towards their master had deepened even more.
Yang Qing turned to face the audience and said once more, "I emptied out my fortune and shouldered infamy to swear allegiance to He Yunye. In this war, everyone has followed me through water and treaded on fire, yet I am unable to fork out anything to reward you. Fortunately, the harvesting of the Orbs of Will is imminent! I am now forced to borrow the harvest of Ever Peace Manor to reward you all. Xiong Xiao!"
"Here!" Xiong Xiao cupped his fists.
Yang Qing smiled. "You were able to lure Liu Jingtian to support us in this war, your contributions cannot go unnoticed! You have of course obtained a first class merit in this battle. This year, except for Mount Shaotai’s harvest, I permit you to occupy two mountains of Ever Peace Manor!"
Everyone instantly revealed looks of envy. This meant that, as a whole, he had obtained the harvest of three mountains.
Feeling happy beyond measure, Xiong Xiao thanked him before turning around to jovially cup his hands at the other Mountain Chieftains.
The other Mountain Chieftains were not left behind, either. Apart from the harvest of their mountains in South Edict Manor, Yang Qing permitted them to occupy one mountain each from Ever Peace Manor. This meant that every year, they could claim the harvest of two mountains.
There was no difference in reward between the nine Mountain Chieftains, and they divided up the ten mountains of Ever Peace Manor. After earning first class merits and obtaining an extra mountain as a result, Xiong Xiao immediately sensed that something was amiss. They seemed to be missing one person. If he now occupied two mountains, then what about Qin Weiwei?
If it were any other person, then perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal. But Qin Weiwei was the adopted daughter of Manor Head Yang Qing. It wasn’t easy for him to stomach this.
Xiong Xiao immediately smiled bitterly. "Mountain Chieftain Qin has suffered the most losses in this war. I am willing to let go of one mountain to Mountain Chieftain Qin."
Yang Qing raised his hand to stop him. "That can only be blamed on herself. The trap was so obvious and she still jumped in, almost implicating my entire South Edict Manor. I, Yang Qing, may not be strictly impartial and incorruptible, but I can clearly make the distinction between reward and punishment. You don’t need to overthink this matter. Just set your mind at rest and accept what’s yours. There’s no need to say anything further!"
"Understood!" Xiong Xiao cupped his hands in response, feeling extremely gleeful deep down. The Manor Head had always treated him well, so he had nothing more to say. It was not in vain that he had followed and devoted his life to him for so many years.
The subsequent matters were simple to deal with. After wiping out Ever Peace Manor, Yang Qing once again ordered all mountain troops to regulate the mountains of Ever Peace Manor that had been given to them.
The Mountain Chieftains under his leadership were all trembling with excitement. Without hesitation, they complied with the order and were completely void of the anxiety and fear they’d felt when attacking Ever Peace Manor.
What bliss! After settling themselves in, the benefits would be theirs to reap. Who wouldn’t be willing to do something that would benefit themselves? They would throw their lives away in order to do a good job of it. So naturally they complied with Yang Qing’s orders. Each of them rushed off quickly with their troops in tow. They had to hurry up and settle everything before Suppressing Second Hall ordered them to retreat back to South Edict Manor. They were afraid of having to relinquish their rewards should they arrive too late. Thus, their efficiency in executing this order was extremely high.
From this, it could be seen that Yang Qing was adept at manipulating his subordinates into sacrificing themselves for him, so ordering his troops to conquer all the areas around him was entirely in his element!