"Haha!" Miao Yi chuckled, "I have never seen the Hall Master, thus I have no right to judge him."
Huo Lingxiao faintly smiled.
Wu Menglan glared at him viciously, before pressing Miao Yi to speak, "Since you serve under Suppressing Second Hall’s banner, even if you have never seen him before, you should at least have some impression of Huo Lingxiao’s despotic leadership. Tell me a little something about it."
She obviously wanted Miao Yi to insult Huo Lingxiao to his face and embarrass him.
Huo Lingxiao quietly shot a glance at Miao Yi from the corner of his eyes.
Miao Yi continued to chuckle, "Sister Meng. I truly have never seen the Hall Master before. It wouldn’t be good to make careless comments."
Wu Menglan raised her eyebrow, "Brother Miao. Don’t be such a killjoy. Do you think we are outsiders?"
Miao Yi was no idiot. He could insult those who were at Qin Weiwei’s rank, but he had to be wiser with words against those at Yang Qing’s level, much less those at Hall Master’s rank. Why would he risk provoking someone who could easily end his life with a single word, by insulting him behind his back when there were no grievances between them?
He thought to himself, ‘Who are you if not an outsider? Does this woman have a screw loose in her head? She keeps forcing a mere Horse Deputy like myself to gossip about the Hall Master. This is just my second time meeting Xiao Yizhu, and not to mention, it’s my first time meeting you. I don’t have any idea about your exact identities. Is it necessary for me to let these kind of people hold something over my head?’
"The Hall Master is wise and valiant!" Miao Yi cupped his fists in the direction of Suppressing Second Hall. He simply flattered and did not criticise, as he would much rather offend Wu Menglan over the other person.
Huo Lingxiao relaxed his brows, again revealing a faint smile.
Wu Menglan coldly laughed, "Brother Miao. You have never seen Huo Lingxiao before. How would you know that he is wise and valiant?"
Miao Yi smiled, "Someone who could become a Hall Master is naturally wise and valiant. If the day comes that I become a Hall Master, others would have the same to say of me as well."
"Dear Little Brother is so intelligent. Your future is sure to be bright!" said Huo Lingxiao, as he raised his thumb at him.
Rage started to creep up Wu Menglan’s face. She was about to erupt in fury when, fortunately, Yan Xiu brought some people over with the delicacies. So she could only hold it in for the time being.
A group of handmaidens walked into the pavilion in an orderly fashion, neatly placing a spread of mouth-watering food on the table before retreating.
As the Cave Master, Yan Xiu offered a couple words of greeting, but Huo Lingxiao and Wu Menglan only nodded their heads slightly in response—they didn’t hold Yan Xiu with any regard at all. In the end, he left awkwardly.
Miao Yi took out several wine pots from his storage ring and passed them to Qian’Er and Xue’Er. The two girls opened them up, and poured wine for the three of them. As the host, Miao Yi invited his two guests to have a drink.
After taking in the alluring fragrance of the wine, Wu Menglan’s gaze quivered slightly. She shelved her dissatisfaction aside for the moment and took a light sip. Her eyes closed as she savored the flavour.
Enjoying a mouthful of wine himself, Huo Lingxiao smiled and prompted, "Meng Lan. What did I tell you? The wine here has a pretty good taste, no?"
"What a great wine! The person who could brew such a concoction is sure to be an expert with many years of experience in the field. My guess is, there are several suitably-aged spiritual herbs within this brew. To invest so much to create spiritual wine…," Wu Menglan glanced at Miao Yi, and said, "Brother Miao. Forgive my bluntness, but does your East Arrival Cave have the resources to create a wine like this?"
Truth be told, she was doubtful that Miao Yi had the capability to produce a wine at this level.
"Sister Meng is intelligent. This is indeed not brewed by my hand."
"May I know who it is that made such a fine brew? Would it be possible to introduce me to the person?" Wu Menglan’s eyes immediately flashed with interest.
Even Huo Lingxiao’s eyes began to flash, much less hers. He wouldn’t have any scruples with trying to pull in such an expert brewmaster to his own Suppressing Second Hall. That way, he could avoid his honorably self sneaking here to ask for some wine.
Miao Yi rubbed his nose, thinking, ‘How am I going to introduce you when I’ve already killed them all?’
He smiled bitterly and replied, "I am also unsure as to who produced such fine brews. I stumbled across it inside a cave, and thus managed to bring it back with me along the way."
"I see!" Wu Menglan nodded; she concurred. No matter how much of an idiot the person was, someone who could concoct a wine such as this wouldn’t likely associate themselves with someone of Miao Yi’s standing.
The two Great Hall Masters completely believed Miao Yi’s statement.
The three of them occasionally raised their glasses to one another. With such fine wine livening up the mood, they drank on with a very lively atmosphere. Qian’Er and Xue’Er carried the wine pots, and ghosted about the three of them to constantly refill their cups.
All of a sudden, Huo Lingxiao placed his wine cup down in the midst of drinking, and asked, "My dear Little Brother. When I met you for the first time in Suppressing Second Hall, I saw that your spear artifact was quite special. Could you let this foolish Big Brother of yours have a look at it?"
Something that could catch Huo Lingxiao’s eyes was sure to be extraordinary. Wu Menglan also placed her cup down, and looked on with interest.
"This….," Miao Yi was somewhat troubled. ‘Wasn’t it a little odd to show his own transcendent artifact for someone else to examine?’
He was a little annoyed that Xiao Yuzhu had raised such a request. One must know that a cultivator’s transcendent artifact was comparable to half his life. If the strengths and weaknesses of his transcendent artifact were discerned by someone with malicious intent, then that would be a hidden threat to the cultivator himself.
However, when he considered that his transcendent artifact wasn’t such an outstanding one to begin with, he ended up agreeing to it. He drew the Inversed-Scales Spear out from his storage ring, and handed it over.
Huo Lingxiao took the spear and gave it a twirl. Dragonic roars immediately erupted from the spear, and echoed across the pavilion.
"A fine spear!" praised Huo Lingxiao as he spun it about in his hands. Before he could say anything more, Wu Menglan had already come over and stuck her hand out. Smiling bitterly, he handed the spear over to her.
Miao Yi was somewhat speechless. ‘What do these two think they’re doing? This is my transcendent artifact. Shouldn’t you ask for my permission first before handing it over to someone else to examine?’
"Even though this spear artifact is not an overwhelming transcendent artifact per se, the artisan’s unique insights are clearly engraved into the spear, ingeniously manipulating the principles of design to create an overwhelming force. Its maker is someone with a deep comprehension of the principles of design and has excellent craftsmanship. It is definitely not something the average artifact artisan can come up with," praised Wu Menglan as she twirled the Inversed-Scales Spear around. However, once she cast her glance at the lower-half of the dragon’s head at the tail end of the spear—she gasped in surprise. Her head shot up to ask, "Brother Miao. where did you obtain this spear artifact from?"
"Uhh….," Miao Yi was even more speechless now. Not only did this person not ask for his permission before taking a look at his belongings, she even wanted to ask about the origins of said object.
His relationship with these two wasn’t so good that he could share all his information with them. He pointed at the wine cup, and said, "When I found the wine inside the cave, this spear was there as well. I lacked a dependable weapon at the time, so I naturally wouldn’t miss it."
Huo Lingxiao turned to Wu Menglan and asked, "Is there a problem?"
Wu Menglan brought the dragon head at the tail end of the spear to his face, and replied, "Look at the artisan’s hidden signature on it."
Huo Lingxiao cast his eyes on the spot she was pointing at, and closely examined it. There were indeed two small hidden characters on it. Trust a woman to be so meticulous—he did not even realize there was such a thing earlier.
"Zi…. Yang….," read Huo Lingxiao. He wouldn’t have known had he not examined it closely, but once he did, he couldn’t help but suck in a breath of cold air. He raised his head and exclaimed, "This transcendent artifact is Sir Zi Yang’s handiwork? No wonder a mere first grade transcendent artifact could be refined with such a delicate intricacy."
Miao Yi had noticed the two characters ‘Zi Yang’ a long time ago. It was soon after Yao Ruoxian finished refining this artifact, that he discovered those two hidden characters. At the time, Yao Ruoxian told him it was accidentally engraved during the refining process. He didn’t have any experience in the field, so Yao Ruoxian pulled the wool over his eyes just like that.
Now that he saw the expression on both their faces, he realized that things were not be as they appeared. He couldn’t help but ask, "Weren’t these two characters just accidentally engraved onto the spear during the refining process? What is the artisan’s hidden signature?"
Huo Lingxiao and Wu Menglan shared a glance, realizing that this guy was truly lacking in experience.
"The so-called ‘artisan’s hidden signature’, refers to the artisan secretly engraving his own name into the transcendent artifact as he is refining it. Normal artifact artisans are still not qualified to conceal their signatures so, because no one would know who they were even if they signed their names on the artifact. As a result, many artisans who weren’t famous would use underhanded means—such as forging signatures of famous artisans; just so they could sell the transcendent artifacts they refined for a good price," Huo Lingxiao casually explained.
Miao Yi immediately asked, "Then may I know if this spear artifact of mine is a forgery?"
This question was very important to him. He might be able to discover Yao Ruoxian’s identity and origins.
Wu Menglan shook her head, "It should be real. There are obvious traces, so it should be a genuine work of Sir Zi Yang’s hand. Otherwise, someone who had such refining skills would definitely engrave his own name. Even though it is just a first grade transcendent artifact, it would not sully the name of the maker. There was no need to let someone else have this glory."
Miao Yi was reassured by this. Then, continued to ask, "Sister Meng, is this ‘Sir Zi Yang’ someone famous?"
Qian’Er and Xue’Er shared a glance, and perked up their ears as well. The Inversed-Scales Spear in their hands were made by the same person who produced the one their Master owned.
Wu Menglan returned the Inversed-Scales Spear in her hands back to Miao Yi. She wouldn’t stoop so low as to harbor desire for a mere first grade transcendent artifact. She asked, "He was someone who almost became the successor to the Sect Master of the Exquisite Refinement Sect, so what do you think?"
"Exquisite Refinement Sect? What is that?" Miao Yi was lost.
Huo Lingxiao couldn’t help but laugh, "Dear Little Brother. How could you not know about the world’s greatest artifact refining school—the Exquisite Refinement Sect? I see that the treasured artifact that you have picked up is just being swung around like any cheap old weapon. HAHA!"
"World’s greatest artifact refining school?" remarked Miao Yi in surprise. "Where is it?"
Qian’Er and Xue’Er exchanged glances.
Huo Lingxiao answered, "It isn’t in the Celestial Nation, but in Dao Sage Feng Beichen’s Boundless Nation. Immortal Sage Mu Fanjun tried to reel them in once, hoping to bring the Exquisite Refinement Sect over to the Celestial Nation, but alas, it ended in failure."
Wu Menglan nodded, "The Immortal Sage wasn’t the only one who tried to reel them in, all Six Sages did. The reason Feng Beichen could attract the Exquisite Refinement Sect over, was because their Sect Master married Feng Beichen’s disciple. With this kind of relationship present, how could outsiders hope to shake their resolve?"
Miao Yi was astonished. He thought that these two people might not even have cultivations greater than his own, but their insight and knowledge was not something he could compare to. He immediately raised his cup towards the two of them.
Placing his wine cup down, he asked, "Sister Meng. What did you mean when you said this Sir Zi Yang almost became the successor to the Sect Master of the Exquisite Refinement Sect?"
Wu Menglan narrowed her eyes, "You are just East Arrival Cave’s Horse Deputy. Why are you so concerned about this matter?"
"Just out of curiosity!" Miao Yi cupped his fists and added, "I picked up the transcendent artifact he refined and have been using it ever since, but I know nothing of his origins. How could I not feel remorse? Please tell me, Sister Meng."
"I merely heard about it in passing. I don’t know if it’s true or not."
"No matter. This Little Brother will listen to every word." Miao Yi immediately swung his hand, and gestured for Xue’Er to quickly refill her wine.
Xue’Er immediately brought the wine pot over, and helped fill the cup to the brim.
As the saying went, ‘Those that receive goodwill from others, are more likely to do their bidding’. After being treated with fine wine, Wu Menglan answered seriously, "An outsider cannot hope to be clear on the details of the incident. I only heard that the Exquisite Refinement Sect’s Sect Master had a daughter whose beauty rivalled that of a divine fairy. It was precisely this girl who was the child born of the Sect Master and the disciple of Dao Sage Feng Beichen. You should know that when it comes to the art of refining artifacts, only one’s level of craftsmanship mattered—cultivation wasn’t as important. One day, the Sect Master of Exquisite Refinement Sect announced that the Exquisite Refinement Sect’s Artifact Refining Competition would be convened. Then, he said that he would betroth his daughter to the victor."
With glowing eyes, Huo Lingxiao interrupted, "What kind of status do you think the Sect Master’s daughter had? Her mother was the disciple of Feng Beichen of the ‘Boundless Realm’, thereby making her half a disciple of the ‘Boundless Realm’. Think about it—not only was she the daughter of Exquisite Refinement Sect’s Sect Master, she also had the backing of the Dao Sage. What did it mean to marry her? Everyone understood perfectly—the person that married her would undoubtedly have a bright future!"