"Is this what Brother Qian wanted to talk about?" Gongsun Yu asked, a frown creasing his brow.
Qian Liufang was not bothered by it and continued to speak, "If anyone else were to try to take advantage of this relationship, I’m afraid that the Manor Head would still be worried. However, it’s a different case for you, Brother Gongsun. You have been the Manor Head’s faithful aide from the start, and you’ve gained his heartfelt trust. Not to mention, you’ve been acquainted with Qin Weiwei for many years. Only the thin veil of the paper window stands in your way. You could say that, compared to other people, you could attain twice the results with half the effort. On account of our relationship, I am naturally in support of your success. But alas, there has been a development in the situation, and I cannot help but worry for you, Brother Gongsun!"
"Development?" Gongsun Yu asked dubiously, "What kind of development?"
Qian Liufang was stunned and replied, "Don’t tell me you are this naive, Brother Gongsun? Do you not know of the words ‘love rival’?"
"Love rival?" Gongsun Yu asked. Anxiety was reflected in his eyes as he asked his friend to elaborate.
"Let me ask you this: are you aware that Qin Weiwei promoted Yan Xiu as East Arrival Cave’s Cave Master?"
Evidently, Gongsun Yu already knew about this matter. When Qin Weiwei had been in danger at East Arrival Cave, he had bumped into Yan Xiu. He still clearly remembered how he’d made the man kneel with a single strike of his spear.
Gongsun Yu felt utter contempt for that old man who choked as he called himself ‘decrepit and incompetent’. Gongsun Yu asked, "The ‘love rival’ that Brother Qian mentioned isn’t referring to Yan Xiu, right? With his capabilities, how can he hope to manage East Arrival Cave? It’s not likely to go smoothly, and does he think Miao Yi is a pushover? You know how Miao Yi is. He has no regard for even your Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao. How can that mere Yan Xiu ever hope to restrain him? If my predictions are correct, I’m afraid Miao Yi is still calling the shots at East Arrival Cave. Yan Xiu can forget about getting involved. Do you think that old coot is worthy of the title ‘love rival’? Brother Qian, you haven’t drunk too much wine, have you?"
"Muddle-headed! You are absolutely muddle-headed!" Qian Liufang exclaimed with a distressed expression on his face. He pointed at Gongsun Yu repeatedly and added, "I am not talking about Yan Xiu. The one I am referring to is precisely Miao Yi. Don’t tell me you cannot see it?"
"Miao Yi?" Gongsun Yu was surprised, but soon after, he shook his head and laughed. "I am more aware of the matters at Mount Calming Sea than you are. It is not possible for Miao Yi."
He was on the edge of mentioning that Miao Yi was an egotistical bastard and had always been at odds with Qin Weiwei. If it weren’t for Yang Qing restraining their actions, they would probably be at each other’s throats already.
"How is it not possible?" Qian Liufang then explained, "Can Brother Gongsun not see it? Since Brother Gongsun is aware that it is not possible for a man of Yan Xiu’s caliber to manage East Arrival Cave, then why did Qin Weiwei break custom and promote him to Cave Master? The reason is obvious—Qin Weiwei is looking out for Miao Yi! Why is she looking out for Miao Yi? I’ve heard some rumors outside saying that Qin Weiwei has been in love with Miao Yi ever since he risked his life to save her, which is why she’s taking care of him this time! If Brother Gongsun has affection for Qin Weiwei, how can you not notice this?"
What rumors? And falling head over heels? It was all just nonsense that he’d fabricated. He was actually under Xiong Xiao’s instructions to incite conflict.
"Qian Liufang, don’t tell me you were sent by Xiong Xiao to try and sow discord?" Gongsun Yu shouted as he suddenly slammed the table and stood up, a menacing cold gaze in his eyes.
The grudge between Xiong Xiao and Miao Yi was already public knowledge. For him to come over at this time and talk about this, it was hard not to be doubtful. Gongsun Yu was no fool, after all.
"You really treat my goodwill with malice!" Qian Liufang also stood up brusquely. He pointed at Gongsun Yu’s nose and shouted, "I did not want to say it, but you were determined to make me speak. Once I did, you then accuse me of sowing discord. Hmph! Gongsun Yu, don’t you think you’re too full of yourself? Sowing discord? Even if there was a grudge between our Mountain Chieftain and Miao Yi, would I need to look for you and sow discord? Why don’t you take a look at yourself first? Sowing discord between you two? Are you able to kill Miao Yi? Are you a match for Miao Yi?"
For him to be sent over to sow discord, he clearly had a couple tricks up his sleeve.
Even a patient man had his limits. Gongsun Yu’s face darkened at being so belittled, and he said, "I shall not send you off!"
"Goodbye!" Qian Liufang slammed the table as well. He turned around and kicked the chair over, fuming with anger as he left.
As he saw the figure disappearing outside the hall, Gongsun Yu’s expression eased slightly, yet remained dark at the same time.
As his anger dissipated, he thought about what the other person said and figured his words were not wholly unfounded. He was indeed not a match for Miao Yi, so did Xiong Xiao really need to look for him as someone to sow discord with?
‘Miao Yi?’ Gongsun Yu was deep in thought as he remembered the scene back at Mount Calming Sea. At that time, Qin Weiwei seemed to have lost her composure because of Miao Yi. Why did she lose her composure? Could it really be…..
Some things should not be contemplated because the more they’re thought about, the easier it is to become paranoid, to find them more suspicious,, and one ends up fixating on them more and more. After being egged on by Qian Liufang, Gongsun Yu’s mind was full of even more doubt.
When he came to his senses, Gongsun Yu was surprised to find that he had no idea when he’d made his way to the courtyard…..
A messenger azure eagle flew off from the mountain forest near to East Arrival Cave. It was headed towards the School of Blue Jade.
The biggest difference between this kind of messenger azure eagle and a spirit eagle was that the former could only send a message between two predetermined locations, whereas the spirit eagle was more flexible.
In the forest, after quietly releasing the azure eagle, Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan looked at each other and smiled bitterly. Their master Hong Changhai had been very anxious about them. Yet little did he know that the former Cave Master was a restless person, who constantly dragged everyone into vicious battles and stirred up trouble. It was not easy for things to finally settle down for the time being, and some matters could not be explained so quickly.
The reconstruction of East Arrival Cave continued on under the blazing sun.
Three thousand commonfolk labored to cut wood and chisel stone. One after the other, large logs were transported down the mountain and giant stones were gathered. The entire East Arrival Cave became one large construction site.
Miao Yi went to the nearby mountains and found Yao Ruoxian to complain to.
"Senior Yao, I have decided to leave with you."
"You have made up your mind?"
"That’s right! I have made up my mind. To be demoted from a Cave Master to a Horse Deputy, I am completely disheartened! There is no longer any meaning in staying here. Please take me away."
"You should have done this in the first place. What good is there in being some crummy Cave Master? Go and remove your Immortal Records first. Afterwards, I’ll take you to see the broader world outside. It’s definitely better than being cooped up here."
"There is no way to remove it. Since I’ve been demoted from a Cave Master to a Horse Deputy, you should know that I’ve lost the affection of my Manor Head. Previously, I did ask to have my Immortal Records removed, but the Manor Head was not willing."
Yao Ruoxian’s face darkened as he thought, ‘What kind of joke is this? If I brought you away, someone who has an Immortal Record, wouldn’t that just be asking for trouble? When that happens, I will have to suffer the same punishment.’
"Brat, you are doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Don’t think you can intimidate me with this. Let me tell you, if the tiny mantids still don’t heed my commands once the ten-year period is up, I will butcher you!"
"I know. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was really just bored from staying here. Since there’s no way forward, I decided to make other plans. Why don’t you bring me with you and we can run away secretly?"
Miao Yi’s scream suddenly echoed. He then walked miserably out of the mountain forest, cursing and swearing, wearing a large footprint stamped on his rear end.
The weather grew warmer, and spring fell upon the land as the mountains turned green and the flowers bloomed crimson.
After two months of hard labor from the East Arrival City’s crew of three thousand skilled craftsmen, the rebuilding of East Arrival Cave was finally complete—its size was now much larger than it was before.
After all, the forces of East Arrival Cave had expanded as well.
Cave Master Yan Xiu did not have the luxury of staying in the most extravagant courtyard in the entire East Arrival Cave, seeing as Horse Deputy Miao Yi had claimed it already.
The funds for rebuilding East Arrival Cave all came from Horse Deputy Miao Yi, so naturally, he’d confidently decided to stay there.
As soon as he stepped into his new residence, still smelling of paint, Miao Yi called Qian’Er and Xue’Er over and said, "From this day forth, I will be in closed-door cultivation. Both of you have to work hard as well and quickly raise your own cultivations to the grade scale. That way you can help me more effectively."
"Understood!" the two girls said.
Miao Yi turned around and left. He entered into his silent quarters, sat cross-legged on the stone couch and tossed a mid-grade Orb of Will that was the size of a pearl into his mouth.
And from that day onwards, Miao Yi entered into a tranquil, closed-door meditation state, which was difficult to attain.
He let Yan Xiu handle most matters, and unless it was something very important, he did not allow anyone to disturb him. At the moment there was nothing going on that was very important either…
To a person in cultivation, once they became focused, a year’s time could pass by like the flick of a finger.
He shut his ears to the affairs of the outside world. In the blink of an eye, snow started to fall again.
Within the silent quarters, Miao Yi was still sitting cross-legged on the stone couch, his eyes closed like a stone statue.
Then, he noticed Qian’Er coming inside to report, "Master, the Cave Master requests your presence!"
His eyes still closed, Miao Yi murmured, "What is the matter?"
Qian’Er replied, "East Arrival City’s harvest for this year has already been gathered. The Cave Master is asking about the matter of heading to Mount Calming Sea for the handover."
"I am now East Arrival Cave’s Horse Deputy, so there is no need for me to go. Let him bring someone else… Have Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan escort him."
"Go make something delicious and then find a way to invite Senior Yao to stay over for a couple days."
Now, it was worth mentioning that Qian’Er and Xue’Er had already familiarized themselves with Yao Ruoxian. This was because the two of them were always sending food over to Yao Ruoxian.
Miao Yi would sometimes toss over a flagon of fine wine and have the two of them go off to improve their acquaintance, causing Yao Ruoxian to praise the wine and always eagerly await the two girls’ visits.
After some time, it seemed that the two girls had caught his interest, and they would actually receive some pointers on their cultivation from Yao Ruoxian. It was not known whether Miao Yi’s fine wine had any effect in this.
There was one time when the two girls came back and reported that Yao Ruoxian had actually asked them to give up on the cultivation method handed down to them by Yan Xiu, then offered to hand down a much better method for the both of them to cultivate in.
When Miao Yi heard this, he was a little suspicious as to whether that old zombie was eyeing his handmaidens. After some further questioning, he realized that he was being overly sensitive, and instantly gave his approval.
In terms of cultivation, Yao Ruoxian was definitely much better than Yan Xiu, so Miao Yi was happy to see what they would become. He was just a bit disgruntled wondering why that old demon was not this nice to him.
Now that he’d let Yan Xiu bring away the Cave’s experts, there was no one to protect it, and it was no longer safe. Therefore, he could only have the two girls lure Yao Ruoxian over. In case something happened, he was not counting on Yao Ruoxian’s help, but on account of the two girls, as well as the fact that they could be said to have somewhat of a master-student relationship, there was the possibility that he’d at least warn them beforehand, right?
As soon as Qian’Er left his silent quarters, Miao Yi did an internal examination of the progress of his cultivation.
When his cultivation had risen to White Lotus Third Grade, he realized that he would still need twenty low-grade Orbs of Will to raise his cultivation to White Lotus Fourth Grade.
Since his journey to the Sea of Constellations, he had refined about five orbs. And he’d almost refined half of the Orb of Will currently in his mouth from the closed-door cultivation this time. He should be almost there after refining another ten Orbs of Will.
With his current speed of refining one low-grade Orb of Will every two months, it should take less than two years worth of time…
As they trod through a path of wind and snow, Yan Xiu was leading a group of six steeds straight towards Mount Calming Sea. He was just about to reach Mount Calming Sea when he was stopped by someone right at the entrance of the mountain.
To be exact, he was not stopped. It was more like that person had been waiting for the people of East Arrival Cave to arrive. And that person was none other than Long Viridescent Cave’s Cave Master Gongsun Yu.
"Cave Master Gongsun!" Yan Xiu replied, feeling somewhat cautious as he cupped his fists.
He had come with the tribute. If anything happened, he couldn’t shoulder the responsibility. One must know that he was now the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave. If something were to happen, he would be the first person to be blamed.
But after seeing the two bodyguards at his side—Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan—his heart was slightly calmer.
Gongsun Yu really did not hold Yan Xiu in any regard. After casually cupping his fists and replying to Yan Xiu’s greeting, he cast a probing gaze at the troops behind Yan Xiu. When he did not see the person he wanted to see, he could not help but ask curiously, "Cave Master Yan, why do I not see Brother Miao with you?"