Tian Yu shook her head apologetically and replied, "Advisor, please return. The Hall Master is still cultivating. Now is not a good time to disturb him."
The expression on He Yunye’s face froze. This was already the third time he had requested an audience with the Hall Master. It was definitely the Hall Master using this as an excuse to hold him off, and intentionally refusing his entry—he was expressing his displeasure towards He Yunye’s handling of affairs. Otherwise, why couldn’t he simply stop cultivating?
Yet, what else could he say? Could he possibly force the Hall Master to come out of closed-door seclusion cultivation to meet him? He could only force out a smile and say with cupped fists, "Elder Auntie, thank you for your troubles."
Tian Yu nodded, and dismissed him with a smile.
He Yunye was just about to turn around when three crimson streams of light flashed through the snow clouds in the dusk sky. The red light then coalesced together and three figures descended in front of the grand hall’s entrance.
Sporting a white fur coat, a woman with voluptuous curves led the way dressed in robes. Her thick beautiful hair was strung together tightly, her features picturesque; a faint fragrance wafted from her to assail the nostrils. She was followed by two elderly men with intelligent gleams in their eyes. The sudden appearance of the three surprised both Tian Yu and He Yunye.
The woman in the lead swept her surroundings with a chilling gaze. She had a grand, imperious presence; one glance was all it took to be able to tell, that she was a person who had long held an eminent status.
He Yunye immediately cupped his fists to pay his respects, "Hall Master Wu! Brother Pang! Brother Liao!"
The new arrivals were none other than the Suppressing Third Hall’s Hall Master Wu Menglan, and the two Advisors under her, Pang Rang and Liao Busheng. They were all cultivators of the Red Lotus realm.
Wu Menglan glanced at He Yunye before throwing him a cold sneer in an offensive manner.
Pang Rang and Liao Busheng lightly cupped their fists at He Yunye.
Tian Yu was speechless at the sight of this. Judging from the situation, they hadn’t come here with good intentions. She was about to move forward to pay her respects, but Wu Menglan had already removed her white fur coat, and rudely gestured with her hand to demand, "Tell Huo Lingxiao to get the hell out right now, and see me this instant!"
Tian Yu hurriedly replied, "The Hall Master is currently cultivating. Hall Master Wu, please wait for a moment. I will inform him this instant!"
"He seemed to be just relaxing to me!" said Wu Menglan, raising her brows. When she had been up in the air, she already saw the state Huo Lingxiao was in inside—to hell with his cultivation! She was already being courteous by not dropping inside immediately. Why was there a need to wait for him to be notified? Without saying another word, she immediately began barging in.
How could an important place like Suppressing Second Hall allow outsiders to enter without permission? Tian Yu hurriedly tried to stop and persuade them, but how could she even stop them? Fortunately, Huo Lingxiao’s voice came travelling from the remote distance to save her from the predicament. "Tian Yu, is Hall Master Wu here? Please enter!"
Tian Yu promptly moved to the side, extending her arms to welcome them in and led them from the front.
Outside, He Yunye was speechless. The Hall Master’s voice was obviously coming from the courtyard. He hadn’t been cultivating and yet, the Hall Master had refused to grant him an audience. Still, it wasn’t appropriate for him to barge in without permission, so he could only fling his sleeve up and leave.
Inside the vast courtyard, the pavilions and lofts; the rock garden and snow, were at perfect counterpoint to each other. On a quaint pathway, the snow had been swept away cleanly. Tian Yu guided the three noble guests with quick steps throughout the pathway.
Huo Lingxiao was already standing before the entrance of the main hall waiting to welcome them. He smiled at the fast-paced Wu Menglan closing in, thinking to himself that she had certainly come here quickly.
He cupped his fists with a smile. "I’m honored by your presence, Hall Master Wu. I hope you don’t mind my not coming out to welcome you. Please forgive me!"
Upon reaching the entrance, Wu Menglan waved her hand for the two Advisors to halt outside without entering.
Huo Lingxiao gave a faint nod to Tian Yu, signalling her to attend to the two of them. In the meantime, he turned to invite Wu Menglan into the hall to take her seat.
Liu Xing had already served up fragrant tea to the both of them, before standing quietly beside Huo Lingxiao.
"How did you find time to visit me, Hall Master Wu?" asked Huo Lingxiao, laughing heartily as he accompanied her in sitting.
Wu Menglan rolled her eyes at him, and bluntly told him off, "Huo Lingxiao, stop asking me as if you do not know! Your forces have already fought inside my territory and killed a mountain’s worth of my forces! You’re still here feigning ignorance?"
Huo Lingxiao gestured for her to drink her tea, and said in all seriousness, "Wasn’t the matter already resolved? Your men killed the forces of one of my manors. Truly speaking, I’m the one who has suffered greater losses. By right, I should be the one to call on you and condemn your crimes and yet, I have said nothing."
"Give me a break!" Wu Menglan glared as she said, "The main perpetrator hasn’t been executed! Don’t think you can get away with it!"
Caught off guard, Huo Lingxiao cried out, "What main perpetrator? Wasn’t my subordinate, Zhang Decheng, the Manor Head of Ever Peace Manor killed by your men? Could it be that you’re pointing fingers at me? Hall Master Wu, you too, know that it’s a normal occurrence for the ones beneath our rank to battle it out. I honestly didn’t have a clue beforehand that they would be causing a ruckus in your territory."
"I wouldn’t dare to declare that you’re the main perpetrator," said Wu Menglan, laughing coldly. "Don’t you dare tell me that you don’t know who was the one that secretly sent men to kill the forces of one of my mountains!"
"Wasn’t it the Manor Head of Ever Peace Manor, Zhang Decheng? You have already killed him. Taking into account our relationship with each other, I won’t look into this matter anymore, since he was the one who was at fault from the start," said Huo Lingxiao, gesturing magnanimously with his hands.
Wu Menglan put on a false smile as she stared at him, trying to see what kind of trick he was pulling now.
Huo Lingxiao let out a dry cough. "Why are you staring at me like that? You usually have a high standard, so it’s quite unlike you to begin taking a fancy to my figure."
"Huo Lingxiao, keep acting! Continue to act as much as you want! How could Zhang Decheng actually be the main perpetrator?"
"Isn’t that the fact? I have your subordinate’s personal testimony in writing—right here!" With a flipped of his hand, Huo Lingxiao retrieved the jade archive with the accusation, and pushed it towards her. "There is no mistake in this matter. Zhang Decheng was the main perpetrator. He’s already dead, so there’s no need to ruin our relationship for the sake of him."
"Testimony?" Wu Menglan was caught by surprise. She took the jade archives into her hands and examine it by imbuing her transcendence energy. It would have been better if she hadn’t read it, but after she did, she felt her insides twist with rage.
‘POP!’ The jade archive in her fair, delicate hand exploded into dust. "THAT IMBECILE!" she cried out with her teeth clenched.
Huo Lingxiao appeared shocked on the surface, but he was actually laughing madly in his heart. It wasn’t an easy feat to see this woman so furious. If it were him who had found out that his own subordinate had been fooled and was still counting the spoils for the other, he would be beside himself with rage as well. His man had toyed with her subordinate in the palm of his hands. Wouldn’t it prove that he was the one who knew how to manage his men, and the other party had been using a fool all along? In some ways, it proved that Suppressing Third Hall couldn’t compare to his own Suppressing Second Hall.
"Hall Master Wu, what are you trying to do?" Huo Lingxiao standing up in shock.
Wu Menglan puffed up her cheeks, and expelled a breath of air from between her cherry lips to blow the dust away. She also stood up—she could no longer be bothered with beating about the bush, and letting the other man continue mocking her. She didn’t mince her words as she said, "The fool under me didn’t even know he was being played. It’s needless for you to fob me off with this rubbish, and play me for a fool. It’s pointless for me to pretend further too. I wouldn’t have come here to teach you a lesson if I didn’t understand the situation. Let’s cut to the chase—Zhang Decheng was nothing more than a scapegoat! The one who truly sent men to kill the forces in one of my mountains was your subordinate, the Manor Head of South Edict Manor, Yang Qing! Huo Lingxiao, if you still wish to continue our alliance, then give the main perpetrator Yang Qing to me, and I’ll let this go. Otherwise, don’t blame me for breaking our alliance!"
She had even singled out Yang Qing’s name. Huo Lingxiao knew she really had investigated the matter thoroughly, and was somewhat stunned by the speed at which this woman had reacted. He had only just found out recently.
He wouldn’t have guessed that Wu Menglan had already sent out her subordinates to investigate, the moment she received the report from Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor on the day of the the incident. Hence, she was naturally faster than him.
Realizing he couldn’t conceal it anymore, Huo Lingxiao broke into a smile. "I have lost a Manor Head. What do you plan to do to this one?"
He meant that she shouldn’t go overboard with this. Could it be that she wanted to kill another Manor Head of his?
Wu Menglan began drawing circles with her finger on the table. "For this incident, it was your party who offended my side first. So no matter what is said, you are the one being unreasonable. Besides, if the main perpetrator goes unpunished, how do you expect me to bear it? Give him to me, and I’ll leave this matter be."
Huo Lingxiao sighed, "How about this—you want to see him punished, isn’t it? I’ll punish him myself, and I’ll definitely provide you with an appropriate response."
Wu Menglan shook her head and said, "There’s no need to do that. Just surrender Yang Qing to me, and I’ll take him away. I will handle it myself."
‘Why is she insisting on taking him away? Isn’t it the same if he handled it for her?’ Huo Lingxiao’s eyes flickered with a realization. It may be that she had taken a fancy to his subordinate’s talents! Using the guise of punishing him as an excuse, what she really wanted was to poach him from right under his nose!
He obviously wouldn’t let her do this! Huo Lingxiao silently sneered. He was also lacking in such talents—using him as a hired thug was a waste. He would need a good brain in the system and talented subordinates couldn’t be underestimated in a fight for the Palace Lord seat. He would never allow others to steal Yang Qing away, only to have him used by others to conspire against him.
"Why do I have to give you my Manor Head, for you to deal with him? How would my own subordinate see me?" Huo Lingxiao directly refused. "Yang Qing! I’ll never give him to you. If you want to break off the alliance, then I’ll agree to it!"
On hearing that, Wu Menglan realized at once that he had seen through her plan, and the two of them instantly broke into a heated argument, going head to head with each other.
For the sake of Yang Qing, both Hall Masters nearly went at each other’s throats.
However, it was impossible for the two of them to really brawl for Yang Qing. Working up a storm like that bore no advantages to the both of them, so ultimately, they took a step back.
He would never allow Wu Menglan to take Yang Qing away. Huo Lingxiao took out ten high-grade Orbs of Will—worth a thousand low-grade Orbs of Will—as compensation. Only then did Wu Menglan leave.
Before she left, Wu Menglan still had a frosty expression on her face.
After cutting through the skies with her two Advisors, Wu Menglan didn’t go straight to Suppressing Third Hall. Instead, she descended onto Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor.
"You’re a complete and utter moron! You were tricked and still counted the spoils for him! I was thoroughly embarrassed because of you…." Wu Menglan jabbed her finger at Liu Jingtian’s nose as she chewed him out.
When women reprimanded others, they would always be fearsome. Liu Jingtian broke into cold sweats from her tirade. He was worried that the Hall Master would execute him in a fit of rage.
Trembling with fear and trepidation, he sent off the Hall Master after she had fiercely vented out her anger. After wiping away the sweat on his forehead, Liu Jingtian ground his teeth in hatred. He pointed and bellowed in rage at the heavens above, "Yang Qing, just you wait! This isn’t the end for you!"
It was a matter of course that Yang Qing’s extraordinary talent would be fought over by the two Hall Masters—the fact that he even dared act as he did, showed that he obviously had confidence in its success. However, he would never have expected it to cause such a ruckus. He had done it completely out of self-preservation. As the saying goes—it’s better to help oneself than wait for God, and this was exactly such a case.
With power over two territories, Yang Qing was now busy with the harvesting of the Orbs of Will. If he didn’t sort this out properly, then he would never get through this no matter what cards he managed to play—so he had no idea what was happening with the upper echelons.
And as for the East Arrival Cave under his reign, they had already completed the annual Orbs of Will harvest.
Every single one of the School of Blue Jade disciples from East Arrival Cave were in a good mood. Although the place for their temporary housing was a little wretched by way of being just a humble, simplistic wooden residence; after changing into black robes, the Cave Master had honored his promise and given them the correct amount of Orbs of Will and Crystal Coins. Not even a single one was missed.
They hadn’t arrived at East Arrival Cave for long, and already received so many benefits. It was really quite a worthwhile deal.
"I thought we had an agreement? Why are you refusing it now?"
Halfway up the snowy mountain, and under the snow-covered tree—Miao Yi held a jade archive in his hand, shouting noisily as he trailed after Yao Ruoxian.