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Seated on his high throne, Huo Lingxiao stared at Yang Qing indifferently and said, "Zhang Decheng attacked a fellow comrade without permission. As such, he deserved to die. This Hall Master shall allow you to manage Ever Peace Manor—you are to safeguard both Manors well. If there are any mistakes with the tributes from either Manors, I will hold you accountable for what you did this time as well. You would be punished for both offences, and will most definitely not be pardoned lightly!"

When everyone heard this, they were all shocked. Let Yang Qing manage both Manors? If Yang Qing had resources from both Manors to aid him, then would it not be…. that the Hall Master was trying to help speed up Yang Qing’s development?

Forget about the reaction from the others, even Yang Qing was stunned. The reason he had tried so hard to turn the tables, was simply to show the Hall Master his ability—to show that he had no trouble overseeing a Manor, and wasn’t inferior to any of the others. It had been purely out of self-preservation. He would have immediately heeded the order to withdraw if the Hall Master willed it. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect that he would be allowed to oversee both Manors—these situations were very rare, and he never imagined that it would happen to him. After all, there was his current cultivation, and strength to consider as well.

Yang Qing really couldn’t believe that this situation had happened to him. He couldn’t wrap his head around the idea for a moment, and even believed that he had misheard.

"Oh?" Huo Lingxiao mused aloud with heavy mockery, instantly silencing everyone. "Are you perhaps unwilling?"

Yang Qing was suddenly brought to his senses. He struggled to hold down the exultation in his heart, as he cupped his fists and confidently replied, "Your subordinate acknowledges the order. I, Yang Qing, shall spare no efforts, so as to not betray the Hall Master’s high expectations!"

His tone still gave off a sense of barely suppressed exhilaration. Having worked himself to the bone from a measly peon to a Cave Master, a Mountain Chieftain, and then finally to a Manor Head—what had it all been for? Wasn’t it for the sake of earning more cultivation resources, within the boundaries of the game setup by the Six Sages? Was it not for the sake of walking further, and living longer on this road of cultivation?

Without any ability, those unforgettable figures on their lofty perches would never favour him. Without enough strength, he would barely even have the chance to approach the other party, and speak more than a couple of lines.

Now that the Hall Master was allowing him to manage two Manors, he was practically given twice the cultivation resources—giving him a shortcut to walk even further on this road. As such, he was incredibly grateful towards Huo Lingxiao’s reward.

The other Manor Heads casted envious gazes at Yang Qing. During the Suppressing Second Hall’s assembly, everyone believed that he was a dead man. Yet, in the blink of an eye, he had received such favor from the Hall Master.

The expression on the three Advisors darkened in response. The Hall Master was using this opportunity to take away their cultivation resources. While they had ten Manors providing them a share of the profits before, now they were only left with eight Manors. As such, their hopes of obtaining the prized throne of Hall Master were even bleaker than before.

From now on, the three of them could only fight for the remaining eight Manors. They wouldn’t even think of touching South Edict Manor and Ever Peace Manor. The Hall Master had clearly stated his intent to protect Yang Qing. In future, the three of them wouldn’t be able to even consider openly targeting Yang Qing.

Han Luping and Feng Zhihuan silently cursed He Yunye, ‘Useless trash, you had the chance, but you couldn’t even do something so trivial.’

He Yunye felt incredibly vexed. ‘What do you mean by—Zhang Decheng attacked a fellow comrade without permission? If it hadn’t been secretly authorized by you, the Hall Master, how could I have allowed Zhang Decheng to go about it so boldly?’

He Yunye felt like Huo Lingxiao had completely used him, then turned around, and slapped him in the face.

However, some matters couldn’t be spoken aloud. Even if everyone clearly understood it, they couldn’t speak of it.

The matter was simple. It wasn’t that the Hall Master hadn’t given him a chance—he, himself had failed to accomplish the task. After being given the opportunity and failing to succeed, what more was there to say? As such, the Hall Master had given the opportunity to someone more capable. If he were to give it to him still, would the two Advisors not be dissatisfied as well?,

Those were the rules of the game—everyone had the same opportunities, it was just a matter of seeing who had the ability to take it!

He Yunye felt like taking the burning ire in his heart out on someone, and glanced back at Wan Shunchang behind him. It was bad enough that this useless fool had messed things up—he didn’t even know how to say a few helping words in the grand hall.

It wasn’t that Wan Shunchang didn’t want to help—he didn’t dare to. If it came out that he had run away pathetically from Ever Peace Manor, after being chased off by Yang Qing; how would the Hall Master look at him from now on? Would the Hall Master not treat him as a worthless coward? If that were to happen, then he would definitely be excluded from anything significant thereafter.

He would never have suspected that Hall Master Huo Lingxiao had already known about it a long time ago.

"If there is nothing else, then our assembly is adjourned. Each Manor is to hand over their respective tributes to Tian Yu and Liu Xing, then return to your own domains!"

Huo Lingxiao said a single line, before stepping down from his throne, and began leaving on his own.

After everyone sent him off, the three Advisors and six Deacons also left the grand hall. The nine Manor Heads then handed over their tributes to both Aunties.

Yang Qing, who had received the other Manor Heads’ courteous congratulations, took the initiative to stand furthest in line. It was best to remain humble when he should.

Once the other Manor Heads were done handing over their tributes and left, Yang Qing stepped forward and delivered both Manors’ tributes; then he cupped his fists and said, "Elder Auntie, your subordinate wishes to meet the Hall Master. I hope that you can convey this for me."

Tian Yu and Liu Xing looked at each other, and smiled. Tian Yu said, "We must congratulate Manor Head Yang again for being bestowed the great responsibility of managing both Manors."

"Yang Qing was fortunate to have received the Hall Master’s grace," Yang Qing replied, as he cupped his fists towards the back of the hall to display his respects to the Hall Master.

Tian Yu replied, "There is no need to meet the Hall Master. The Hall Master already knows what Manor Head wishes to say."

Liu Xing then followed with, "The Hall Master has mentioned that you should just focus on doing your own things. If any matter comes up, you need not discuss matters with the three Advisors, or the six Deacons. You can simply look for Tian Yu, and Liu Xing to request a direct audience with the Hall Master."

Tian Yu again chimed in. "The Hall Master has also said he is aware that you lack manpower to handle both Manors, and there is no way to gather enough men in such a short time. As such, he will allocate three hundred of Suppressing Second Hall’s direct subordinates to you. For the remainder, you will have to deal with them yourself. The Hall Master will not do everything for you."

Yang Qing was shocked; this was quite a pleasant surprise. This was the Hall Master’s way of giving him special privileges—allowing him to disregard the three Advisors, and report to the Hall Master himself. Thus, he wasn’t required to present any tributes to a single one of the Advisors, and he would be able to save up more cultivation resources for himself.

The Hall Master was treating him as a trusted aide, but with this….

Yang Qing had never been a simple man. He immediately began reviewing his current situation. He no longer had any choice now, but to continue offending the other three Advisors—he could never again ally with the other forces within Suppressing Second Hall. However, he also would no longer be one of their pawns. From now on, he didn’t need to consider much beyond obediently being the Hall Master’s lone vassal. Otherwise, should the Hall Master ever decide to withdraw his protection, none of the three Advisors would let him off easily.

‘Was there a need to be this attentive towards a Blue Lotus Fifth Grade cultivator such as himself?’ Yang Qing laughed wryly to himself. As the saying goes, ‘One cannot make an omelette without breaking an egg’. At least for now, what he gained had more than made up for what he had lost...

Within a courtyard on the highest peak of Suppressing Second Hall, there was an eerie silence hanging about. In addition, no one had ventured out to remind him which of the places were restricted.

As it was his first time walking around this area, how the heck would Miao Yi know where he shouldn’t enter? He could only remind himself not to stray too far. After making a few turns, he suddenly caught wind of the faint fragrance of plum blossoms.

When he looked in the direction of the scent, he caught sight of a moon gate. He walked towards it, and popped his head inside, stealthily scanning about—there was no one inside. Only a beautiful plum forest with snow-tipped branches, alongside a pavilion and a rock garden.

The scenery was quite impressive. Miao Yi looked to his left and right again, before tentatively asking, "Is anyone around?"

After a few more calls, there was still no response, only the forest of plum blossoms laid there. Thinking that it would be okay to peek around a little inside, this Miao Yi actually strode in with his hands behind his back.

He brought his nose before a plum blossom branch, and took a whiff. He nodded with a satisfied expression on his face in response. Then, reached out and plucked off a sprig from the plum blossom branch.

The branch trembled as a pile of snow slid off the end.

"Who goes there?" an impassive voice loudly questioned from the other end of the garden.

Miao Yi jumped in fright, and quickly turned around to look. From another moon gate on the other side of the plum garden, a middle-aged man stalked in. He wore a simple, thin grey-colored robe, with a blue hairpin holding up his hair; he looked relatively unremarkable otherwise. At the moment, he was looking at Miao Yi with a cold expression, as he slowly approached with his hands behind his back.

Trying to keep the awkwardness from his face, Miao Yi waved the plum sprig around in his hand and laughed wryly as he said, "Try not to misunderstand. When I noticed the snowy plum forest, and that wafting fragrance, I could not help but be tempted to come inside and admire it. I did ask if there was anyone around before I came in, but nobody answered, so I entered of my own accord. Oh! And I forgot to introduce myself!"

After saying that, Miao Yi casually tossed aside the plum sprig that he had just plucked; then he cupped his fists and said, "I came from South Edict Manor’s Mount Calming Sea territory. I am the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave, Miao Yi. May I be so bold as to ask for the esteemed one’s name?"

The other person glanced at the plum sprig that was thrown away like dirt, then cast a probing gaze towards Miao Yi as he said, "East Arrival Cave Master Miao Yi? What are you doing here?"

Miao Yi chuckled and said, "Waiting in the room was boring, so I came out for a walk before stumbling into the plum garden by mistake." He again weakly asked, "May I ask what is the esteemed one’s name?"

The other person seemed like he was trying hard to hold back a laugh as he heard this. After considering it for a while, he replied, "Xiao Yizhu, Suppressing Second Hall Horse Deputy."

"Suppressing Second Hall Horse Deputy?" Miao Yi was shocked. He had been worried that he had entered a place that he shouldn’t have, and stumbled into someone important and incited his wrath. It turned out, he was just a Horse Deputy—a post normally without any status. This, he had experienced personally. His mind was instantly relieved as he chuckled, and said, "It seems it must have been fate for me to stumble into Senior Xiao. I was also been a Horse Deputy once."

Xiao Yizhu replied with an ‘Oh?’ Then said, "Is that so? What a coincidence."

Miao Yi nodded and said, "May I be so bold as to ask how high Senior Xiao’s cultivation is?"

Xiao Yizhu eventually replied, "White Lotus Third Grade!"

Miao Yi was even more reassured when he heard this. He rubbed his hands and said, "What a coincidence. I also have a cultivation at the White Lotus Third Grade."

The other person suddenly began rebuking him, "This is the Hall Master’s plum blossom garden. Are you not afraid that you will get into trouble by entering of your own accord?"

Miao Yi waved his hand dismissively, and said, "I only came here to look around. I don’t suppose someone who could become a Hall Master would be so petty, no?"

"However, you plucked off a sprig from the Hall Master’s cherished plum tree. Usually, the Hall Master would not let anyone freely touch it. I shall report this to Auntie. She definitely will not let you off easily." Xiao Yizhu began showing a threatening expression as he noted Miao Yi’s attitude.

Miao Yi’s expression froze. He looked around and, on seeing that there wasn’t anyone else, took two low-grade Orbs of Will from his storage ring and grabbed Xiao Yizhu’s hand—stuffing the two Orbs of Will into his hand. He came close and whispered, "Both of us have been Horse Deputies and know how difficult it is. It must also be fate for us to meet, so here is a small token of my appreciation. One should always be forgiving when it is possible—Senior Xiao can just act like you saw nothing. I will be taking my leave now, so let’s keep this a secret between the two of us."

‘Bribery?’ Xiao Yizhu was taken aback. His gaze slowly fell on the six storage rings on the other party’s hand, and lingered there for a while. His lips seemingly curved as he said, "No can do. If the Hall Master finds out, I would become your accomplice and be punished together with you."

"Surnamed Xiao, do not test my patience." said Miao Yi. He revealed a vicious expression as the Inversed-Scales Spear instantly appeared in his hand, with the sharp tip of the spear readied at the other party’s stomach. "Refusing a toast only to drink a forfeit. A mere White Lotus Third Grade cultivation, and you dare to be so impudent before me? I have lost count of the number of White Lotus Third Grade cultivators that have died by my hand. Do you not believe that I will end you?"

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