Ever Peace Manor.
Naturally, Yang Qing didn’t know that the Hall Master of the Suppressing Third Hall had been startled by the list of remunerations sent from the demoted Horse Deputy Miao Yi. In actuality, Miao Yi hadn’t expected it to turn out this way either.
At the moment, Yang Qing was sitting inside the waterside pavilion, shaking his head as he read Qin Weiwei’s report.
The matter of reassigning personnel for both manors would eventually go through Yang Qing in the end. Meanwhile, one of the points in Qin Weiwei’s report had mentioned that Yan Xiu had been ordered to become the new Cave Master of East Arrival Cave.
"This Yan Xiu might not be able to control Miao Yi by himself." Qing Ju chuckled, standing at one side.
When she thought about how Miao Yi had been demoted to a Horse Deputy—that same person who’d looked so awkward as he covered his private parts during his bath—she couldn’t help herself from finding the situation funny.
Yang Qing shook his head and sighed. "Even though I’d like to repay Miao Yi’s kindness, there will be a time for that. That being said, she can’t do things like this. This girl Weiwei is still too inexperienced. She didn’t take Xiong Xiao’s feelings into consideration. In fact, does she think him a fool? By doing so, she’s exposing my true objectives to Xiong Xiao. He won’t endure such treatment! I really can’t do anything about this girl. She’s nothing like me, she’s more like her mother."
When Qin Weiwei’s biological mother was mentioned, Qing Mei and Qing Ju, who knew of the matter, were instantly solemn.
Yang Qing stood up and looked around before saying, "I enjoy the views seen from the mountaintop, so I have a preference for the South Edict Manor’s domain. Dispatch my orders: Set up the headquarters for both manors back at South Edict Manor!"
Setting up their headquarters at South Edict Manor just because he enjoyed the views from the mountaintop?
Qing Mei and Qing Ju speculated that his decision had something to do with Qin Weiwei’s recent appointment. Qing Mei tried her luck and asked, "Are you sending someone to explain to Xiong Xiao that the decision was made by the young miss, and had nothing to do with you?"
"Explain? Weiwei is my daughter, and so any appointment of hers is a reflection on me. Do you think Xiong Xiao will believe our explanation? And do I really need to justify myself to him? Is his approval necessary for my daughter’s appointment of a subordinate?" Yang Qing sneered.
His words affirmed what they’d always assumed: the Manor Head was in fact awfully fond of the young miss despite his scrupulous impartiality when it came to work and personal affairs. Even if the young miss had done something wrong, this great father would never raise his voice at her. He would deal with the aftermath of her problems in secret while being careful not to hurt his daughter’s heart, and he would find another way to compensate for his mistreatment of her.
Although he was helping to absolve Qin Weiwei from blame, yet moving to South Edict Manor now would make Xiong Xiao think that matters regarding East Arrival Cave were Yang Qing’s own idea.
The Manor Head would take on all responsibility. He wanted to intimidate Xiong Xiao by moving back to South Edict Manor and prevent him from causing harm!
"If the Manor Head confronts the matter directly, Xiong Xiao might harbor hatred towards you in his heart!" warned Qing Mei.
"Then now would be a good time to plan ahead and consider someone else to take over Xiong Xiao’s position…" Yang Qing muttered casually.
Qing Mei and Qing Ju looked at each other for a while. If the Manor Head followed his urges, it would lead to the dismissal of Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao. The only thing left was to observe Xiong Xiao’s reaction to Yang Qing’s decision.
However, a frown appeared on Yang Qing’s forehead as he said, "This time, Weiwei’s actions are a bit illogical. Do you two think there’s something fishy going on?"
Qing Ju asked, "Isn’t the young miss just trying to repay her debt to Miao Yi for saving her life?"
"There are many ways to repay his kindness. This is not Weiwei’s style of doing things." Yang Qing suddenly turned around and said, "Send someone to watch over Weiwei for a while, to keep her safe from possible mishaps!"
"Mishaps?" The two ladies were stunned. "What sort of mishaps?"
Yang Qing mumbled, "I’m worried that Miao Yi has used an underhanded method to coerce Weiwei. If he really has done such a thing, I will never forgive him!"
The two ladies were caught by surprise, but managed to nod their heads before they went away to quickly make the arrangements…
His worries were not entirely without reason.
As expected, Xiong Xiao was furious when he received the news of Miao Yi’s demotion and Yan Xiu’s subsequent promotion as the new Cave Master of East Arrival Cave.
He was no fool. By doing so, Qin Weiwei clearly wanted Miao Yi to continue managing East Arrival Cave.
"That b*tch Qin Weiwei can only rely on Yang Qing’s support. Isn’t she thinking too little of me? Is she trying to make things difficult for me?"
Xiong Xiao cursed angrily under his breath like an enraged lion. He paced around the grand hall, wondering suspiciously if this had been Yang Qing’s idea.
By contrast, the two new young and beautiful handmaidens were trembling with fear, to the point that they were afraid to take a single breath of air.
Just then, the sound of gusting wind was heard from outside. A spirit eagle had landed in its nest on the horizontal bars under the roof outside of the grand hall.
‘What news is there now?’, Xiong Xiao thought as he turned around to look, waiting for his personal handmaidens to fetch the message.
In the end, the new handmaidens remained motionless where they stood. Xiong Xiao then realized that these two were new, so they did not understand what they needed to do in that situation. He felt dazed, and couldn’t help but think of his departed handmaidens, Chun Xue and Dong Xue.
"Xia He, Qiu Yu, go fetch the jade archive inside the message tube on the spirit eagle’s leg for me," Xiong Xiao said with a sigh.
The girls, both around ten years of age, immediately affirmed his command and went outside to fetch the jade archive. However, when they saw the spirit eagle perching ferociously on the horizontal bar, they felt quite anxious as they didn’t know how to retrieve the jade archive from it.
Both of them couldn’t afford to hesitate any longer. A pair of fair-skinned hands shivered as they extended their arms towards the spirit eagle.
Just then, the spirit eagle turned its head and let out a ‘screech’, which frightened the handmaidens into pulling their hands back immediately.
This type of vicious bird enjoyed bullying the weak, yet it was slightly angered when the handmaidens had recoiled in reaction, as if they were trying to provoke it. Suddenly, the eagle pecked at them, its sharp curved beak snipping skin, causing blood to flow.
"Ah!" Xia He cried in pain as she held her wrist and retreated backward a few steps. The back of her delicately fair hand was bleeding profusely, a portion of her flesh torn away.
Qiu Yu was frightened and retreated as well.
Xiong Xiao appeared and was left speechless when he saw what had occurred. These handmaidens couldn’t even manage such a miniscule job. This made him yearn for Chun Xue and Dong Xue even more than ever.
He took out a small elixir bottle, grabbed Xia He’s hand, and poured the white powder onto the bleeding wound. He beckoned Qiu Yu to lead Xia He away to recover.
He then personally took the jade archive from the message tube on the spirit eagle’s leg and started inspecting the archive as he walked into his residence.
It would have been better if he hadn’t read it, and for a while, he stood buried in deep thought. His expression twitched, and he slammed his palms down quickly.
Crack! The table was smashed into pieces. Xiong Xiao gritted his teeth in anger and said, "Yang Qing and his daughter, they’ve pushed me too far!"
The message on the jade archive was about something else, specifically the news of Yang Qing moving the headquarters of the two manors back to South Edict Manor.
"Yang Qing! You’re the one being heartless now. Don’t blame me for the damages that I’ll inflict upon you. I, Xiong Xiao, am not one to resign myself to death. Chun Xue, pick someone suitable and let them go with Gongsun Yu…"
He immediately froze, his sentence unfinished. He turned to look at the empty grand hall and saw no sight of Chun Xue. Chun Xue and Dong Xue were already dead by Miao Yi’s hands. He was still not used to the absence of his two former handmaidens…
Qian Liufang, the Cave Master of Ancient Cave at Mount Shaotai and one of Xiong Xiao’s generals, was an old acquaintance of Cave Master Gongsun Yu of Long Viridescent Cave at Mount Calming Sea. They often met each other from time to time.
This time around, Qian Liufang had come to Long Viridescent Cave with some ‘matters’ to attend to. It was a common practice for him to impose whenever he passed by the territory of his old friend.
Both of them were quite familiar with each other. Moreover, they were both of equal standing and were both Cave Masters. It was natural that Gongsun Yu would abandon his cultivation and attend to his old friend personally. Preparing a table for a feast and wine was a must.
The two of them chatted and raised their cups with great enthusiasm. Suddenly, Qian Liufang signaled Gongsun Yu discreetly, asking him to dismiss the handmaidens beside them.
Gongsun Yu was unhappy with this gesture. His personal handmaidens were his trusted subordinates, and they would never sell him out regardless of the situation. There was no need for him to do anything that would arouse their suspicion.
However, the guest had requested for their dismissal. Gongsun Yu didn’t want to upset him, and at the same time, he wanted to know why Qian Liufang was behaving suspiciously. He finally dismissed his handmaidens before asking, "Brother Qian, what’s the problem?"
Qian Liufang chuckled. He raised his cup and clinked it against his old friend’s before gulping down its entire contents. As he personally refilled Gongsun Yu’s cup, he said with a smile, "The Manor Head’s daughter Qin Weiwei is excellent in both appearance and charm. Too bad no one can live up to the power and influence of the two manors. Otherwise, she could be a great partner for dual-cultivation."
In the midst of talking, he could see a frown creasing on Gongsun Yu’s forehead. Qian Liufang quickly switched topics by saying, "I heard that Brother Gongsun has pursued Qin Weiwei for many years. I have been meaning to ask but had no opportunity until now. While we’re still in high spirits from the wine, I’d like to ask Brother Gongsun whether this is true or false. If it’s true, how will you progress with your approach? I don’t think Brother Gongsun will hide this from me!"
His tone hinted of one teasing an old friend, so Gongsun Yu finally relaxed his frowning expression. He was a bit embarrassed as he let out a cough, "It’s all just rumors. The Mountain Chieftain is a person of integrity, how can I be disrespectful to her like that."
"So they’re just rumors!" Qian Liufang nodded, and he seemed occupied with his own thoughts. He continued, "Since we are friends, I want to warn Brother Gongsun on this matter. Qin Weiwei… but, then again, it’s all just rumors. I might be thinking too much. It’s better if I don’t say it."
"..." Gongsun Yu froze. Suddenly, he couldn’t gulp down his wine. He put down his cup and asked, "What do you want to warn me about?"
Qian Liufang only cared for his wine. He shook his head without replying.
Gongsun Yu asked again, "Is this something to do with Mountain Chieftain Qin?"
Qian Liufang only nodded his head, still without uttering a single word.
After knowing it had something to do with Qin Weiwei, Gongsun Yu felt an itch in his heart. He grabbed Qian Liufang’s wrist and said with widened eyes, "Why is Brother Qian being ambiguous, perhaps I have not treated you well enough?"
"Since there is nothing between Brother Gongsun and Qin Weiwei, there is no need for me to cause problems by telling tales."
"Perhaps Brother Qian doesn’t trust me. Are you afraid that I will tell everyone?"
"Brother Gongsun is thinking too much."
"Brother Qian, only you and I and the Heavens above will know of this conversation. I will not spread this around to anyone outside these walls."
Qian Liufang still shook his head and refused to say anything.
Gongsun Yu’s expression twitched, and he finally forced himself to confess, "To be honest with Brother Qian, I did, in fact, admire the Mountain Chieftain for a long time. I’m only saying this because it has something to do with the Mountain Chieftain. Please forgive me, Brother Qian!"
"Why didn’t you say this earlier?" Qian Liufang stared at him in anger. He immediately put down his cup, looking as if he was making a great sacrifice as he spoke without reserve. He looked around suspiciously before he leaned his head against Gongsun Yu’s and said, "The Manor Head has received the Hall Master’s favor and taken responsibility for the two manors, and now he controls their cultivation resources. After thousands of years pass, the Hall Master may be fortunate enough to receive a promotion. During this time, if the respective Manor Heads of Suppressing Second Hall cannot outdo each other and there is no improvement to their cultivation base, then the Hall Master will certainly give his recognition to Yang Qing instead. This means that Yang Qing will be appointed as the next Hall Master of Suppressing Second Hall. If you become dual-cultivation partners with Qin Weiwei, how can the Manor Head not take care of you? Naturally, Brother Gongsun will be given the power to wield one manor."
Gongsun Yu released his grip on Qian Liufang’s hand. He thought he had something more serious to say. How could anyone not see that even if Yang Qing did not become the Hall Master, he would definitely take good care of whoever became Qin Weiwei’s dual-cultivation partner? Was there a need to even explain such a thing?