Seeing the decree from Mount Calming Sea, Miao Yi thought about it for a moment, and decided to stop by on his journey.
The thing was, he had no choice but to go. This was a decree from Mount Calming Sea, and it specifically asked for him to head to there.
Normally, this would be quite an underhanded ploy. Alas, with Miao Yi as a mere Steed Deputy, and the other, a superior bestowing a decree specifically to a mere Cave’s Steed Deputy—would you dare to disobey?
Miao Yi went to look for Yao Ruoxian. He didn’t know how long this journey was going to take, so he wanted to ask for half of the tiny mantids to be by his side in case of an emergency.
However, it seemed that ever since Yao Ruoxian realized the little fellows could refine the essence powder within Crystal Coins, he treated them like prized treasures. He wouldn’t let Miao Yi have a single one. He still held the incident back in the Sea of Constellations against Miao Yi, when fifteen of the mantids were killed Yuan Kaishan; and berated him for being so irresponsible.
He was afraid that Miao Yi would lead more of them to their deaths, and wouldn’t hand over any over to him. Caring for the tiny mantids so as though they were his ancestors—who knew what his actual intentions were?
Miao Yi did not tell Yao Ruoxian that he was about to go on an extended journey.
In the whole East Arrival Cave, only Qian’Er and Xue’Er knew where Miao Yi was headed. The two of them had never been to such a faraway place before either. They also wanted to see the splendor of that faraway city, and were hopeful that Miao Yi would bring them along.
The two girls even brought their dragons steeds to linger about in front of Miao Yi. It was clear that they were trying to imply—‘We won’t be a bother to you. We can even take care of you along the way.’
Under the eaves, Charcoal raised his head and snorted, staring at the two dragon steeds entering his territory. When he saw that they were brought in by Qian’Er and Xue’Er, he laid his head down and went back to sleep.
It was a clear and sunny day, with flowers blooming in the courtyard.
Standing at the entryway of the antehall, Miao Yi held his hands behind his back, and smiled at the sight of the two girls. He already told them that he couldn’t bring them along with him, but it seemed like they weren’t going to give up, and were silently putting up a final struggle.
When they learned that he was going on a lengthy journey the night before, the two girls stood before his silent quarters and knocked on his door, requesting to see him.
They faced Miao Yi as he sat on the stone couch cultivating , the two girls asked, "When will you return, Master?"
Miao Yi replied, "The road ahead is uncertain, and will have plenty of dangers. It’s hard to predict what will happen. I’m not sure if I can even come back alive."
The two girls asked, "If Master knows that the road ahead will be full of dangers, why do you still choose to walk this difficult road? Master could just stay here in East Arrival Cave. If danger comes, all Master has to do is give the command, and all of us will fight with our lives to protect you. Your safety is practically assured. Isn’t it better to stay in East Arrival Cave?"
"After my conversation with Xiao Yizhu before, I came to realize something. East Arrival Cave is too small. Mount Calming Sea is too small. Even South Edict Manor is not large enough," said Miao Yi. "My mind has been confined to this tiny space. My knowledge probably can’t even compare to the travelling merchants of East Arrival City. This thought has been plaguing my heart for many years, and I regret that I have restricted myself all this time. It is past time for me to resolve this."
The two girls continued to plead, "We are willing to accompany and serve the Master on his journey."
"I can barely ensure my own safety as it is," replied Miao Yi. "With your cultivations, how do you expect to be able to follow me?"
Seeing that he still wasn’t convinced, the two girls stepped closer and leaned in on either side of him, demurely offering themselves. Then, brazenly asking if they could undress him, and wait on him through the night. If any mishaps were to befall him, at the least, he would be able to remember this day—one in which they were able to live up to being Master and handmaiden for once.
Miao Yi gave a great hearty laugh, and haughtily announced, "Very well! Who else can take your virginity and purity but me? Hold onto them for now. I will claim them once I return!"
His one statement was more effective than consoling them ten times over.
The two girls could feel their heart pattering endlessly. Since he already made them such a promise, they no longer pleaded and shyly withdrew. They looked forward to the day when the promise would be fulfilled.
Standing by the entrance of the antehall, Miao Yi collected his thoughts and gestured towards the two of them.
The two girls stepped forward, following which Miao Yi advised, "When I’m not around, have Senior Yao be more cautious. If anything happens, I don’t hope for him to protect East Arrival Cave, I just want him to keep the both of you safe."
After he said this, he took out two Orbs of Will and gave it to them.
The two girls knew there was no arguing with him. Clearly, he had chosen to leave them behind. They could do naught but remind him, "Please return quickly, Master."
Miao Yi chuckled, then kicked out at the snoozing Charcoal, "Damn Fatso. It’s a great big world out there. Why are you still lazily drowsing away here? Will you follow me on this grand journey!?"
Charcoal snorted in response, and raised his head to look at Miao Yi. He couldn’t understand what he was saying.
Even though he was intelligent, he still had difficulty understanding complex sentences. Thus, Miao Yi’s exuberance was met with disappointment.
Miao Yi rolled his eyes, and clearly said, "Damn Fatso. Time to go out and play."
Charcoal’s eyes flashed with interest. He got up excitedly and made a leap to the center of the courtyard. Then, he charged around and chased the two dragon steeds off to the side, joyfully shaking his head and wagging his tail around all the while. After he warned the ‘outsiders’ that this was his territory, he stomped around and waited for Miao Yi to go out and play together.
Miao Yi leapt up and landed on his back. Two feelers extended from Charcoal’s mane and wrapped around Miao Yi’s legs.
The two girls sent him off, but Miao Yi didn’t even look back. Under him, Charcoal leapt to the skies and instantly landed outside. Spreading his hooves out, he immediately galloped away.
Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan had long been waiting outside. Seeing this, they quickly turned their dragon steeds around and hurriedly followed behind him….
The three of them didn’t make any stops as they galloped across the windy plains. Along the way, they would sometimes quickly pass by a few mortals, hiding away as they looked upon the three in reverence. Some would even kneel on the ground and bow to them, but they simply passed them by.
Once they arrived in Mount Calming Sea, they were stopped by the gatekeeper, and soon allowed passage after word was sent.
Since they didn’t receive any summons, Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan naturally didn’t have any right to enter the inner recesses of Mount Calming Sea. Miao Yi was walking up the steps alone, when he caught sight of Hong Mian standing by the gates of the grand hall in a cherry mood.
"Miao Yi. It’s been over ten years since we last met, isn’t it? Have you been well?" asked Hong Mian with a smile.
Miao Yi cupped his fists and respectfully said, "I pay my respects to Elder Auntie. Everything has been fine, thank you for asking."
Hong Mian nodded, then turned around to lead him. "Follow me!"
They passed through the front and back halls, then entered the courtyard within. Although he hadn’t seen it in over ten years, the loft that Qin Weiwei used to handle her official affairs still looked the same as it did before.
As they ascended the loft, Hong Mian announced, "Mountain Chieftain. Miao Yi has arrived."
After saying this, she went up and stood next to Lu Liu, who was standing by Qin Weiwei’s side.
Seated behind the long table, Qin Weiwei looked as beautiful as ever, with a white dress that was simple yet elegant. She stared at Miao Yi as he approached, appearing a little distracted, as flashes of a beautifully tragic scene quickly flittered through her mind.
Miao Yi stepped forward and cupped his fists respectfully, "East Arrival Cave Steed Deputy Miao Yi, respectfully greets the Mountain Chieftain!"
Miao Yi seemed to have placed a heavier emphasis on the words ‘Steed Deputy’, as though he were reminding Qin Weiwei—‘I am a mere Steed Deputy. I don’t deserve having an Honorable Mountain Chieftain like yourself summoning me to your presence. Under normal circumstances, no one would be able to keep up with your ways. If you have any problems, just find our Cave Master. At the very least, you could have just directly summoned me. Passing down an official decree to a Steed Deputy like myself is a little overboard.’
He never considered that, if it were a normal summons, would he even turn up? He was sure to make Yan Xiu come up with an excuse, and say that he wasn’t available, or something of the sort.
Qin Weiwei was secretly grinding her teeth, but pretended to be indifferent on the surface and said, "It has been over ten years since we last met, correct?"
"Indeed!" said Miao Yi respectfully.
"No need to restrain yourself so. Sit down and talk. I have something I would like to ask you.", said Qin Weiwei, extending an arm to the chair beside her.
Miao Yi snickered—‘When have I ever restrained myself?’ However, he still walked over to the side and sat down. Then, he asked, "May I know the reason as to why the Mountain Chieftain has summoned me?"
Qin Weiwei stared at him for a moment, before asking, "Six people from Mount Calming Sea have mysteriously disappeared after heading to East Arrival Cave. What is your view on this?"
Miao Yi thought to himself—‘I knew that it wouldn’t be anything good for this woman to call me over. So she has suspected my involvement already. Could she be trying to make a move on me?’
Miao Yi carefully examined his surroundings. The three people before him were not his opponents by themselves, but he was a little worried that there might be an ambush hiding nearby.
Hong Mian and Lu Liu exchanged glances; they were utterly speechless. One look at Miao Yi was enough to tell that he was strongly biased against the Mountain Chieftain. The Mountain Chieftain herself could see it as well, The two of them could see Qin Weiwei’s fists slowly tightening under the table.
Very soon, Miao Yi unexpectedly said, "Your subordinate doesn’t understand. Have Mount Calming Sea’s men gone to East Arrival Cave? I don’t know about this matter. I am just East Arrival Cave’s Steed Deputy. All I do is manage the steeds, and do my best to fulfill the responsibilities bestowed upon me. I don’t have the right to be concerned about other matters. Mountain Chieftain can try and summon the Cave Master over to question him. He should know better."
She knew that he wasn’t going to confess to it from the start. This was within her expectations.
Qin Weiwei didn’t carry too much hope in him admitting it either. Since she couldn’t get an answer, she changed the subject, "Miao Yi, do you have some sort of prejudice against me?"
"I wouldn’t dare!" Miao Yi hurriedly cupped his fists and added, "Your subordinate does not have any sort of prejudice against the Mountain Chieftain. Only awe and respect!"
"Miao Yi. I believe we should have an open and honest conversation for once."
"Your subordinate is all ears."
Qin Weiwei took a deep breath and said, "After so many years, if there was any misunderstanding in the past, it is high time we let them go. You saved my life once, and I have always kept that in mind…."
Miao Yi hurriedly replied, "Your subordinate was just doing his duty."
Your subordinate this, your subordinate that. Qin Weiwei felt uncomfortable just listening to it. She clenched her teeth and backed down, saying, "I am sincerely willing to settle the misunderstandings between us. Today, you don’t need to treat me as the Mountain Chieftain, and I also will not treat you as a subordinate. Just take it as a casual conversation between friends, and of course, if you are willing, we can continue to be friends from now on. That’s right, we can be friends who can talk about anything with each other!"
Hong Mian and Lu Liu were shocked. It seemed that not seeing him for over a decade, pushed the Mountain Chieftain to resort to laying all her cards on the table. ‘Starting from friends, was it? This wasn’t such a bad idea….’
Only those who knew the details would think in such a way. However, she said she wanted to be friends, right after raising the matter of the mysterious disappearances of Mount Calming Sea’s members in East Arrival Cave. Coupled with the fact that the two had never gotten along from the beginning—if it were anyone else, they would also suspect that it was some kind of trick.
Clearly, Qin Weiwei lacked experience on certain matters. Moreover, her judgement wasn’t on the same level as her father, Yang Qing, either.
As expected, Miao Yi immediately suspected if this woman was trying to use ‘becoming friends’ as a pretense to get him to talk, or something else. This change was a little too sudden. ‘How could the both of us of all people, suddenly become friends who can talk about anything with each other? What kind of joke is this? Are you just naive, Or do you think I’m a fool?’
He respectfully replied, "Your subordinate naturally could not wish for anything more than to be friends with the Mountain Chieftain. However, I am afraid that I am unworthy."
Qin Weiwei’s eyes instantly flashed. She said, "Since we are friends, there is no such thing as being worthy or not. You and I are equals. From this day forth, we are friends."
"Haha!" Miao Yi could do naught but chuckle uneasily. It wouldn’t do him well to accept it so easily, as he still wasn’t sure what sort of ploy this woman was working.
"Since we are friends, you can rest assured. I will take care of your problems. Once I have discussed it over with Yan Xiu, I will help reinstate you to your East Arrival Cave Master position. You don’t have to worry about the Manor Head. I will take care of it for you," said the Great Mountain Chieftain Qin, immediately trying to display how dependable she was as a friend.
"Uhhh….," Miao Yi was taken aback. He didn’t have any intentions of hiding behind a woman’s skirt and relying on her to provide for him. He was utterly confounded by the extreme contradictions between her words, and could barely keep up with the conversation. He began to have some suspicions, ‘Could it be that after not seeing her in a decade, this woman has mastered her old man Yang Qing’s knack for trickery?’ He immediately rejected the offer with a wave of his hand, "Mountain Chieftain. Yan Xiu is doing quite well as the Cave Master. Your subordinate willingly serves under him."