Although the cultivation bases of Zhang Decheng’s handmaidens were not considered low—they had attained the cultivation of White Lotus Eighth Grade—they were still executed without mercy by Yang Qing.
Serving as the handmaidens of a domain’s leader had impressive and highly regarded aspects that came with the position, yet there was also the extremely dangerous aspects to consider as well.
As the most trusted of all trusted aides, they essentially held the highest position within their domain, aside from that of their master’s. For instance, no matter how high a position the subordinates held, they’d still be required to respectfully address these handmaidens as "Auntie" at every meeting. Their status and accomplishments would all come from their own master.
And it was precisely because of this, that upon losing the war, the victor would never leave them be. Keeping such people at their side was too dangerous. As the loyal subordinates of the predecessors, they had every right to avenge their master at the nearest opportunity.
In conclusion, if these types of handmaidens were determined to follow one particular master, it would last a lifetime. The others could surrender, yet even if the handmaidens surrendered, it would be futile. They would still be executed, leaving them to follow their lifelong master even beyond death.
The respective Mountain Chieftains gathered at Ever Peace Manor. Those that should have been exchanged had already been handed over. They were in relatively good spirits as their gains had been doubled, so how could they not be happy about it? Even after meeting Yang Qing upon gathering at the grand hall, they cheerfully bid their farewells.
However, Qin Weiwei was the only one among the Mountain Chieftains who did not have her benefits doubled. If she were still rewarded after losing a battle, how could Yang Qing convince the masses from then on? This kind of practise mustn’t be encouraged, so naturally she was put to the side.
Yet everyone understood all too well. As the Manor Head’s adopted daughter, her losing out was only temporary.
After the official matters had been discussed, Yang Qing rode his dragon steed, personally leading the respective Mountain Chieftains as they swiftly traversed to Suppressing Second Hall.
Being among them, Miao Yi was a little ecstatic as he rushed forth at Qin Weiwei’s side along with Wu Tong. He finally had a chance to find out where the main gates of Suppressing Second Hall were facing.
Despite his excitement, he felt a little disappointed that Xiong Xiao was also a part of their group. A meeting between enemies causes deep anger on both sides. However, due to the system’s restrictions, he couldn’t do anything about it.
The same logic applied to Xiang Xiao as well, who was also restricted by the system’s rules, so he didn’t dare to openly mess with Miao Yi without fear. Otherwise, he’d be long dead by now, as Miao Yi would have killed him without delay...
Snow enveloped the landscape, blanketing the towering mountains and precipitous ridges, as well as the strangely-shaped pines littered between them. The waterfall was found to be ice-cold. Treading on the snow, the dragon steeds journeyed through the mountains and regions. Occasionally, piles of snow would slide down, preventing the dragon steeds from passing through.
This place held the location of Suppressing Second Hall; the network of complex buildings that made up its headquarters were scattered around the top of the four surrounding mountains.
Situated at the highest peak was a magnificent, large courtyard. Within this courtyard was a richly-ornamented building complex that had the resemblance of a genuine palace hall.
The snowy weather was clearing up, and one couldn’t help but observe the building’s imposing presence, as its grand air shrouded the mountains.
To be set in the mountains with such terrains, one wondered how much work had been put into building it.
While Miao Yi was admiring the uniquely beautiful—and dangerous—scenery, it soon dawned on him that it was true, the higher one’s position was in the cultivation world, the more increasingly spectacular the mountains one occupied. It was unlikely that he’d ever be tired of these familiar mountains and rivers once the snow melted.
As he followed the rest in traversing down to the foot of the mountain, they were soon stopped by two men. The majority of the company had gone ahead to the courtyard to make preparations for South Edict Manor. Of course, both Miao Yi and Xiong Xiao trailed after them.
But nobody expected Yang Qing to turn around to point at the two. "Both of you, come with me."
Caught off-guard, the pair of enemies exchanged odd looks with each other before naturally acknowledging the order.
The pair then trailed after Yang Qing as they traversed through the inclined slope towards the magnificent courtyard situated at the main peak. As for the others, they were barred from entering without express permission.
The three of them dismounted their dragon steeds outside the main gate and kept the steeds to the side. Once the gatekeeper verified their identities, he allowed them entry.
The moment they passed through the palace gates, they were struck by the grand building’s air of magnificence. The three of them did not directly proceed to the main hall. Waiting at the side, a small handmaiden dressed in palace attire extended her arm. "Please follow me!"
She then turned around, guiding the trio to drink tea at a waiting room located in the side courtyard.
The waiting room was decorated with an assembly of small tea tables and chairs, with a group of people already seated and waiting inside.
When Yang Qing entered, he immediately cupped his hands to greet the crowd, to which the group graciously returned. They appeared to be quite courteous to Yang Qing. However, the situation was different compared to when Zhang Decheng was alive.
After seating himself, both Miao Yi and Xiong Xiao discreetly stood behind Yang Qing, as they weren’t qualified to be seated.
Upon hearing everyone’s exchanged greetings, they knew that this group was made up of all the Manor Heads of Suppressing Second Hall. For Miao Yi and Xiong Xiao, how were they, in any way, qualified to be seated on equal footing with such people?
But Miao Yi and Xiong Xiao were puzzled to find that Yang Qing was apparently the only person to have brought two people here. The rest had arrived alone and unaccompanied.
Occasionally, the other Manor Heads would stare at the two men behind Yang Qing, but they never inquired about it.
Neither did anyone ask about the fight between Yang Qing and Zhang Decheng. Everyone seemed to have forgotten about Zhang Decheng.
Although Xiong Xiao had no relations with these Manor Heads, it wasn’t his first time accompanying Yang Qing to Suppressing Second Hall, so he had seen most of them already.
On the other hand, Miao Yi was listening attentively to their conversations, silently memorizing which manor each Manor Head belonged to. Since he was here now, then it shouldn’t be in vain. He had to gain a bit of insight.
The group exchanged polite conversation with each other, and after a while, another little handmaiden dressed in palace attire came in. After she bowed down to the rest, she said loudly and crisply, "Is everyone present?"
They smiled, "Everyone is present."
Only then did the small handmaiden nod her head and say, "The Hall Master has left, and is calling together all Manor Heads to discuss official matters."
The group of Manor Heads immediately stood up, before walking out in a line. Unexpectedly, the handmaiden extended her arm out to stop the two men behind Yang Qing. She asked, "May I ask Manor Head Yang, are these two men Xiong Xiao and Miao Yi?"
Both Xiong Xiao and Miao Yi were taken aback. How could this little handmaiden know their names?
As for the other Manor Heads who had departed from the room, they also couldn’t resist the urge to take a second glance, traces of astonishment flashing past their eyes.
Yang Qing lightly nodded his head, replying, "That’s correct!"
The handmaiden then said in a crisp voice. "While the assembly is going on in the grand hall, uninvolved personnel shouldn’t enter. It’s better for the two to remain here."
Slightly surprised, Yang Qing turned and said to the two, "Both of you stay here."
"Understood!" The two of them cupped their hands and stayed behind.
By the time all the Manor Heads had left, the little handmaiden once again extended her arm to say, "Both of you, please wait here. Please help yourselves to tea while seated."
They were left to obediently find a place to sit down. Prior to this, they hadn’t had the chance to rest their feet.
But currently, the waiting room was empty with no one else in sight. Only the two old foes, Miao Yi and Xiong Xiao, remained, glaring at each other from time to time. Not a courteous word was exchanged. Neither did they break into a fight, which was a good thing. It was only because they didn’t dare to stir up havoc in this place.
The little handmaiden was quietly standing at their side waiting. On seeing that they had finished their tea, she promptly refilled their cups.
"Little Sister, how do you know who we are?"
Drinking another cup of tea, Xiong Xiao asked her cautiously. He wanted to indirectly find out what was going on, since he felt it wasn’t a simple matter for Yang Qing to bring them along.
The little handmaiden smiled. After refilling their cups of tea, she invited them to drink but said nothing more than necessary.
Xiong Xiao’s expression froze. It wasn’t appropriate for him to force answers out of her if she refused to reply; this wasn’t a place where he could behave atrociously.
Besides him, Miao Yi couldn’t help but chuckle with glee upon seeing that Xiong Xiao had suffered a setback, giving the impression he took joy in the other man’s misfortune.
Xiong Xiao cast him a sidewards glance and scoffed.
After waiting for a while, Miao Yi who was glancing around, was beginning to feel the atmosphere in here was too uncomfortable for him to bear, especially when Xiong Xiao was sitting next to him, looking like he wanted to splash Miao Yi’s face with a cup of tea.
As time passed, Miao Yi was starting to feel restless so he couldn’t resist the urge to ask, "Little Sister, I’m a little bored staying here. This is my first visit to Suppressing Second Hall. Can I stroll around outside?"
The little handmaiden responded with a smile. "Don’t go too far. Don’t go to places you shouldn’t go to."
"Hehe, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you for the advice, Little Sister!" Immediately, Miao Yi gleefully stood up with cupped fists, casually retrieving a red packet from his storage ring which he then stuffed into her hands. "This is just a small token to show my respect for you. I hope Little Sister won’t be too courteous about it."
The little handmaiden nodded and accepted it with pursed lips.
Just like that, Miao Yi strutted out of the room. As he left, he clasped his hands behind his back before leisurely wandering away.
Xiong Xiao was slightly dumbstruck. He seriously had not prepared any red packets for a small character like her. Since Miao Yi had given his share, it wouldn’t look good for him not to do the same. Turning around to conceal himself from sight, he quickly tidied up his storage ring and made a red packet as an offering to the little sister, since he was implicated by association...
Within the Suppressing Second Hall Grand Hall, Huo Lingxiao was seated expressionlessly on his high seat, dressed in a thin, long gray robe, with his hair bound by a jade hairpin. Without saying a word, he slowly lowered his eyes, occasionally sweeping his keen gaze across the group beneath him.
"...even if Zhang Decheng was at fault, you could have reported that you killed him, and the Hall Master would have personally handpicked the next Manor Head for Ever Peace Manor. Why did you seize control of Ever Peace Manor? What gave you the right to hand over Ever Peace Manor’s harvest for this year?! Hall Master, Yang Qing’s motive is despicable..."
Within the grand hall, the Advisor He Yunye continued to shout as he argued with authoritative force, solely condemning Yang Qing. Naturally, it was still because of what had happened between Yang Qing and Zhang Decheng.
In the beginning, Yang Qing had given logical and concise justification for his actions, and pushed all the blame onto Zhang Decheng.
As for He Yunye’s condemnation, he refused to say a word in response and didn’t attempt to defend himself. It was as if he was a bystander, coldly observing how long He Yunye would last.
It was clear in his mind all the things he’d brought to pass, including what he should and shouldn’t have done. Thus, debating the matter was pointless. He had killed the trusted aide of the Advisor Han Liuping, betrayed the Advisor Feng Zhihuan and then killed the trusted aide of Advisor He Yunye. Nobody would be speaking up for him anymore, and he had became a lone vassal at Suppressing Second Hall. Saying anything more was fruitless. Further explanations could possibly backfire on him. It would cause everyone to think that he, Yang Qing, was arrogant and disrespectful. Ultimately, the decision still fell on the Hall Master.
Actually, he wasn’t the least bit worried. After he had seized Ever Peace Manor, there was no immediate reaction from the Hall Master. Since then, he had the vague feeling that he’d safely passed this round. The brain-racking effort he’d put into the war in order to turn the tide should have entered the discerning eye of the Hall Master.
There was no fault in how he’d responded. After saying what he needed to say, he kept silent and He Yunye became the only person in the grand hall to release his anger and frustration.
As time passed, even He Yunye himself was starting to realize that something was amiss and that he was the only one pointing fingers and profuse admonishment. His voice was the only one ringing inside the grand hall. When compared to the unperturbed Yang Qing, he resembled someone putting on a claptrap to please the crowds, resulting in a great loss in an Advisor’s elegant demeanor. The imposing air he held was gone, thus the topic of argument couldn’t help but weaken.
Sitting high up, Huo Lingxiao scrutinized the crowd, realizing that Yang Qing had seriously offended everyone. None of the three Advisors were helping him out and none of the Manor Heads or Deacons chimed in to support him.
Had he became a lone vassal? Good. What he wanted was a lone servant who had no one to rely on and offended everyone! Without support, he could only listen to him and him alone! Opening his eyes, the silently waiting Huo Lingxiao suddenly voiced out, interrupting He Yunye, "Yang Qing!"
He Yunye was speechless as Yang Qing stepped forth with cupped fists. "Your subordinate is here!"