Respect was something earned through ability. If it were in the past, Gongsun Yu might have actually picked a bone with Miao Yi. However, the current East Arrival Cave Master was not the same man as before. Who would dare say that Miao Yi wasn’t competent enough for the post of East Arrival Cave Master now? He was bold enough to ask for a one-on-one battle against Mountain Chieftain Xiong!
That was why Gongsun Yu could only grumble when he found Miao Yi, "Cave Master Miao, you really did a quite number on me—how was the Mountain Chieftain even waiting for me at all?"
Miao Yi replied in surprise, "Everyone in South Edict Manor is aware of your relationship with the Mountain Chieftain. Since you were waiting downstairs, who else could the Mountain Chieftain be waiting for, but you? Don’t tell me you thought that Mountain Chieftain was the one who asked me to call you over to meet her?"
"...." Gongsun Yu was suddenly at a loss for words. He was very pleased with what he heard, but he still couldn’t help asking, "Is something the matter with the Mountain Chieftain? She was throwing such a large tantrum!"
In all his years of knowing Qin Weiwei, it was really the first time he had ever seen Qin Weiwei throw such a large tantrum at him. She normally spoke to him in an amicable manner. It was also the first time he heard Qin Weiwei using the word ‘scram’ on him. He was a little bewildered by her behaviour.
"Throwing a tantrum at you? I don’t think it could be that bad. Well I suppose it could, she has always had that sort of temperament. I have already gotten used to it." Miao Yi said, shrugging his shoulders.
"You mustn’t speak of her that way. The Mountain Chieftain does not have a bad temper…." Gongsun Yu anxiously tried to defend Qin Weiwei.
The two of them continued chatting as they stood in the pavilion.
As for Qin Weiwei, she had already been upset by what Miao Yi had said earlier. Then, when Gongsun Yu suddenly rush up, and said that Miao Yi told him that she was waiting for him. It made it seem like the both of them really had some sort of illicit affair between them. To make matters worse, Gongsun Yu was looking at her with such a gentle gaze that Qin Weiwei immediately felt like she was being humiliated. With that, she couldn’t hold back the rage burning in her gut—and let all of it out.
At the moment, she was still pacing back and forth in the loft with her emotions in disarray.
Hong Mian and Lu Liu observed her silently. The two of them had lived with her for a long time and understood her personality all too well. When Cave Master Miao tricked Cave Master Gongsun into coming up here to meet with the Mountain Chieftain, the Mountain Chieftain looked as though she was a little hurt—but why would the Mountain Chieftain be hurt by this? The Mountain Chieftain had never cared for that kind of gossip by outsiders….
It took until the next afternoon for all the Cave Masters to arrive, and hand over all the harvests from their respective Caves.
Then, Qin Weiwei lead the ten Cave Masters on their dragon steeds into a lightning fast pace as they rushed to Ever Peace Manor.
Compared to the journey to South Edict Manor in the years past, the distance was almost doubled. It would be Miao Yi’s first time visiting Ever Peace Manor.
They were hit by another blizzard on the way. With a stony expression on her face, Qin Weiwei continued to press on as she led the way, not uttering a single word.
Somewhere along the way, Gongsun Yu felt a little concerned and asked whether or not the Mountain Chieftain wished to take a break.
This caring sentiment made Qin Weiwei purse her lips. She didn’t bother responding, and only focused on the road ahead.
Without stopping, as soon as they reached Ever Peace Manor, Qin Weiwei left the rest behind and silently entered Ever Peace Manor’s Grand Hall.
The others were given temporary resting quarters, while Qin Weiwei was escorted to the back by Qing Ju to meet Yang Qing.
Surprisingly, the first thing Yang Qing said when he saw her was, "Did you bring Miao Yi with you?"
He knew that Qin Weiwei and Miao Yi had a poor relationship, so he was afraid that Qin Weiwei wouldn’t bring Miao Yi just because she disliked him.
There were no outsiders at the moment, so Qin Weiwei stated with an unpleasant tone, "He is here."
Yang Qing knew her all too well. He could tell with a glance that she was displeased, so he couldn’t help but ask, "What is the matter?"
Some things could not be shared even with the closest of kin, so Qin Weiwei quickly found another excuse to hide behind. With a flip of her hand, she flashed out a jade archive and brought it over as she said, "You will understand once you see this."
Yang Qing received the jade archive suspiciously, and imbued his transcendence energy to examine the contents. What he found inside was none other than the name list that Miao Yi had submitted after replenishing his forces.
When he read the contents, Yang Qing furrowed his brows. There was no problem with Miao Yi replenishing his forces, but the issue was that they were all men from the School of Blue Jade. He had even recruited Blue Lotus experts into East Arrival Cave. Yang Qing turned to look at Qin Weiwei and asked, "What is the meaning of this?"
"The result of losing a bet to Miao Yi….," Qin Weiwei replied.
Qin Weiwei immediately recounted how after Yang Qing left, Miao Yi set his sights on the School of Blue Jade troops; how she didn’t believe that the School of Blue Jade would dare join South Edict Manor again; and so, in a fit of rage, she told Miao Yi that she would approve as many as he could recruit. Unexpectedly, Miao Yi had actually pulled about twenty men from the School of Blue Jade into East Arrival Cave in a single stroke. The situation had become difficult for her to back out of, so she could only agree.
After Yang Qing was done listening, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He shook his head, and said, "Weiwei, why did you make such a bet with him? Both of you have known each other for some time now. After going through so much, can you still not see it? If you don’t want Miao Yi to do something, then keep a firm tone. Otherwise that straightforward idiot will definitely not ‘disappoint’ you. Tell me—when has he ever not turned the impossible, possible. He was bold enough to even run off to the Sea of Constellations, and still came back alive. I have pretty much conceded to that brat’s foolhardiness. In his eyes, there are only things he would do, and things he wouldn’t do. He never considers if he can, or can’t do them—at the very least, he doesn’t think too deeply about them. That brat isn’t someone who treads cautiously at every step. As long as he feels it will be worth it, then he will definitely do it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have run off to the Sea of Constellations in the first place. As an esteemed Mountain Chieftain, did you really have to make that bet with him?"
Indeed, he had a knack for understanding men as well as using them. His interpretation of Miao Yi seemed to be pretty spot on. Miao Yi was surely not the calculative type.
"I already spoke out in front of my subordinates. Do you expect me go back on my words?" replied Qin Weiwei, as she ground her teeth together. "Ultimately, the authority rests with you. It doesn’t matter if I agreed to it, you can still reject it."
For new recruits below the rank of Manor Head, the authority to approve them or not, typically rested with the Manor Head. This was because those at the level of Hall Master would have at least reached a cultivation at the Red Lotus Realm. This was an entirely different world compared to the White Lotus, and the Blue Lotus realms. Red Lotus cultivators couldn’t be bothered with those cultivators at the lower levels.
Even though Hall Masters, Palace Lords, Overlords, and even the Six Sages have the authority to reject recruits approved by the Manor Head; for such matters, one normally wouldn’t make things difficult for their own subordinate Manor Heads—they didn’t need to. Even if the subordinate Manor Head were to recruit several lowly cultivators, it still wouldn’t pose a threat to them. As long as you could afford it, and it didn’t affect the revenues of the upper echelons, you could recruit as many as you liked. As such, the likelihood of recruits being rejected was rare.
However, it was different for Manor Heads. If anything happened, they still needed to rely on strength in numbers; so they obviously would not allow their subordinate Cave Masters and Mountain Chieftains to have the authority to approve personnel. Otherwise, they would definitely lose control of their subordinates.
This was also why Qin Weiwei had said that the final authority rested with Yang Qing.
Yang Qing mulled it over for a while. In the end, he shook his head and said, "Forget about it. Those few people won’t be able to cause much of a disturbance. Don’t forget that he saved you, and when he and Xiong Xiao were about to have a go at each other earlier—I sided with Xiong Xiao again. Lets just consider this as a form of compensation. What’s more, that brat is a little rash. If his mind keeps getting plagued by me taking his men away from him, I can’t expect what he’ll do this time. Just let him have them, since he can afford them. Even if he has more men, they will be working for me regardless, and the School of Blue Jade is no longer a problem."
As he said this, he quickly invoked his arts to sign on the jade archive, approving it on the spot. He then handed it to Qing Mei beside him, asked her to make a copy of the name list, and have it sent to Suppressing Second Hall.
Once Suppressing Second Hall tallied the loss and gain of manpower from each respective domain, it would report to Traversing Moon Palace. In turn, Traversing Moon Palace would report to those ranked above them, and so on, until the report finally reached the Realm Beyond Heaven. This was the state of the entire Celestial Nation’s cultivator system under Mu Fanjun’s grasp.
After Qin Weiwei confirmed the harvests of Mount Calming Sea in this past year directly with Qing Mei, she was just about to leave when Yang Qing shouted out, "Weiwei, don’t let Miao Yi go back yet. We will bring him to Suppressing Second Hall later."
"Bring him to Suppressing Second Hall?" asked Qin Weiwei in puzzlement. "Why are we bringing him to Suppressing Second Hall?"
Yang Qing shook his head, and replied, "It wasn’t my choice. Elder Auntie asked for him specifically, and said that she wants to meet him. Xiong Xiao as well."
Of course, Qin Weiwei knew that the Elder Auntie Yang Qing referred to definitely wasn’t Qing Mei, but that Elder Auntie Tian Yu of Suppressing Second Hall. She asked, "Elder Auntie Tian Yu wants to meet Miao Yi? What for?"
"I haven’t figured out the reason yet. I suspect it has something to do with this battle. Xiong Xiao and Miao Yi both accomplished great deeds in this battle. Maybe they were a little too conspicuous."
"There won’t be any danger, will there?"
"I don’t think it’s that serious. If she really wanted to eliminate the both of them, Elder Auntie wouldn’t need to do it personally. As for what she has planned specifically…, I am still mulling over it right now."
Since someone from Suppressing Second Hall wanted to meet Miao Yi, even Yang Qing could not refuse. Naturally, Qin Weiwei could only follow orders as well.
When she returned to the courtyard assigned for the members of Mount Calming Sea to rest in, Qin Weiwei ordered, "Wu Tong, Miao Yi, the both of you will accompany me to escort the Manor Head to Suppressing Second Hall. The rest of you will return to your respective domains."
This was an old rule; it was the same every year. Each Mountain Chieftain would bring two capable subordinates to help escort the Manor Head to Suppressing Second Hall.
However, when they heard the order, many felt that it was a little strange.
Miao Yi was a little shocked, wondering why she had picked him to go to Suppressing Second Hall with her. Didn’t she always pick Gongsun Yu every year?
However, he immediately believed he understood why. Firstly, he had proven his strength. He was obviously one of the most valiant general of Mount Calming sea, so he had the qualifications to assist her in escorting Manor Head. Secondly, he had the most subordinates; thus, it was easiest for him to leave. That being said, he was still surprised that she didn’t chose to bring Gongsun Yu.
Gongsun Yu was also a little taken aback; he hadn’t expected it. Stepping forward, he cupped his fists and requested, "Mountain Chieftain, your subordinate is willing to follow the Mountain Chieftain on this journey!"
The other Cave Master Wu Tong had no intention of sabotaging his proposal. Everyone in South Edict Manor was well aware of the relationship between the Mountain Chieftain and Gongsun Yu; he was willing to play cupid. He was just about to cup his fist and relent-
Unexpectedly, Qin Weiwei cut him off coldly and said, "This matter is decided. You need not speak any more of this!"
When she said this, she threw Miao Yi a furtive glance to catch a glimpse of his reaction.
Gongsun Yu’s expression froze. All he could do was respectfully acknowledge the order.
On the other hand, Miao Yi was sneering. He believed that it was probably because he had let the cat out of the bag. He thought, ‘Our Lady Mountain Chieftain is intentionally avoiding suspicion. The harder she tries, the more it means that the two of them have something going on; and that she has a guilty conscience. Stop pretending, you despicable couple!’
The thing with humans, once they have established a certain preconception, it was difficult to change it. This was why first impressions were very important.
Qin Weiwei seemed to understand the Great Cave Miao’s twisted thoughts from his warped smile, because it truly carried a heavy hint of mockery. She felt as though whatever she did was useless. Silently tightening her fists, she ground her teeth and quickly turned to walk away, fearing that she wouldn’t be able to restrain her anger...