Once he left the Mount Calming Sea Grand Hall, Miao Yi motioned with his hand and said, "Let’s go!"
Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan had been waiting outside. They quickly mounted their steeds, and the three quickly galloped off.
Miao Yi was a little reluctant about this long journey now. ‘Should I return to East Arrival Cave? I don’t understand what that woman is up to. She better not try to trip me up behind my back….’
Qin Weiwei stood by the window of the loft. Her snow-white dress billowing out from the faint entering breeze, to reveal the elegant outline of her body.
From there, her line of sight was being blocked by the roof of the grand hall, so she couldn’t see the plaza outsize the hall, but she could see the area about the mountain gates.
Qin Weiwei watched on as Miao Yi brought his men charging out through the mountain gates. Her gaze chased after his figure for a long while, her expression slowly softening as she revealed her anticipation towards the blooming of young love...
Beside her, Hong Mian and Lu Liu occasionally exchanged glances. After today, the two of them could finally reaffirm who Qin Weiwei was in love with. If this wasn’t the case, Qin Weiwei definitely wouldn’t behave like this.
However, they never expected that Qin Weiwei would actually come up with the idea of becoming friends, and use it to bravely take her first step. She hadn’t even discussed it with the two of them beforehand.
They exchange a glance and snickered, realizing that it was really convenient to woo a man when you had authority in your hands. The two of them believed that Qin Weiwei should have done this from the start. If you have authority—don’t waste it!
However, the two of them knew Qin Weiwei all too well. Given her personality, it was already a first for her to go this far. She was only able to take this first step after gathering a substantial amount of courage.
It was only possible for her to take this first step, by using the pretext of becoming friends as her cover. Otherwise, she truly couldn’t hope for more with that arrogant tongue of hers.
Even so, the two of them had to keep pretending they were oblivious to it all. Before Miao Yi expressed his intent, they couldn’t let anything slip. Otherwise, she would surely crawl back into her shell. Qin Weiwei’s pride was no joke!
The thing that Hong Miao and Lu Liu was more concerned about, was whether Miao Yi would have an intention of courting Qin Weiwei. ‘An onlooker certainly sees best’—the two of them could tell that Miao Yi was still keeping Qin Weiwei at a distance, or perhaps it was more appropriate to say that he was on his guard against her. Could that man truly become the Master that they would have to serve in future?
The trio continued to gallop at full speed as they left South Edict Manor’s territory. With their dragon steed’s superior leg strength, they sped along for two whole days, before finally entering the center of a bleak and barren mountain range.
They continued to cross mountains and traverse forests; across rivers and through tunnels from atop their steeds. They eventually reached the looming mountain peaks, and within the mountain range before them, a cluster of buildings with varying heights were arranged in an orderly fashion.
The trio brought their steeds to a halt, with their mounts panting heavily. Then, Yuan Fang raised his hand to point ahead, "Please look, Milord. There lies our School of Blue Jade."
"Oh!" Miao Yi stared at it for a moment, then turned back with a smile. "To drop by unannounced wouldn’t be too rude, I hope?"
Lai Yuhan replied, "Don’t worry, Milord. We already informed our Master beforehand!"
Miao Yi nodded, "It has been a while since I last met Elder Hong. I look forward to it."
"Milord, the two of us Senior and Junior Brothers have something we would like to ask of you!" Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan abruptly jumped down from their steeds simultaneously and began pleading with Miao Yi with their fists cupped.
Miao Yi was startled by how suddenly they had become serious, and asked, "What is it?"
The two of them shared a glance then. Yuan Fang cupped his fists and said, "Milord. On that year, our School of Blue Jade wasn’t able to offer our assistance during the battle between Manor Head and Zhang Decheng. The main reason was because our Master had taken matters into his own hands, and thus jeopardized the School of Blue Jade’s affairs. Because of this, he incited the Sect Master’s wrath. Most of our fellow disciples blamed our Master as well. Now, Master Hong is in a difficult position within the School of Blue Jade. Since the two of us Senior and Junior brothers have returned, we must share our Master’s burden!"
"So that was the case. I was wondering what the School of Blue Jade was thinking at the time," said Miao Yi as he came to a sudden realization. Then, curiously asked, "What can I do to help?"
"Milord. Since us Senior and Junior Brothers began working under Milord’s command, this became the sole matter that our Master was allowed to manage within the School of Blue Jade. He was mostly stripped of his other authorities. Even then, Master had done his best to defend Milord. Otherwise, our Master wouldn’t have been able to allow twenty elite disciples into the ranks of a Cave in the first place." After saying this, Yuan Fang hesitated for a moment.
Miao Yi nodded, "The two of you have followed me into the jaws of death and back. Just be frank with me if you have something to say. Why must you hesitate!?"
"Understood!" Yuan Fang cupped his fists and said, "Milord. On this visit of yours to the School of Blue Jade, I’m afraid that someone will attempt to steal our Master’s final shred of authority. Once Master completely loses his authority within the School of Blue Jade, us Senior and Junior Brothers will surely to be implicated as well. In future, if we still wish to obtain the continuation of our cultivation arts, we will also surely be obstructed by others. If that were to happen, all we can do is betray our Master, and rely on someone else. Such a treacherous reputation is not one we can bear!"
Miao Yi was stunned. Then, hesitantly asked, "So you want me to ignore everyone else and only communicate with your Master?"
"An astute observation, Milord. Yes, that is precisely what we mean!" Yuan Fang nodded.
This wasn’t actually his idea, but after he found out that Miao Yi wished to visit the School of Blue Jade, he immediately sent a message over to Hong Changhai. After that, he received Hong Changhai’s instructions.
Hong Changhai was really anxious—‘Miao Yi. Why do you have to come to the School of Blue Jade of all places? I told everyone that you were only willing to communicate with me and me alone. Wouldn’t the cat be out of the bag if you come here? When that happens, I’ll be kicked to the sidelines, and won’t be able to involve myself in these affairs anymore. Naturally, I’ll lose out on the School’s cultivation resources as well. Afterwhich, I will only be able to retire and wait for my death.’
When one was at Hong Changhai’s age, if they didn’t have cultivation resources to maintain a certain level of progress in their cultivation, then their lifespan would soon reach its end as well.
In such a situation, how could he not be anxious? Naturally, he had his disciples do everything in their power to make sure that Miao Yi was on his side.
"This…," Miao Yi was a little troubled. After giving it some consideration, he couldn’t help frankly telling them, "I understand your desire. Yet, since your Master has already lost his authority within the School of Blue Jade, and has no way of utilizing its resources—how would he be able to be of service to me from now on?"
This was a genuine problem. He didn’t treat either of them as outsiders, so he had to make it clear to them.
‘My relationship with your Master Hong Changhai isn’t so good that I would surrender my own benefits for him. Did you think I came all this way to the School of Blue Jade for a leisure trip? I’m here to have your School of Blue Jade help me with some tasks. Why else did I come all this way for then?’
Yuan Fang replied, "Your subordinate understands! However, Milord is overthinking it. If it were anyone else who had caused the School of Blue Jade such loss, and kindled everyone’s animosity—that person would have been sentenced to death. Since Master was still able to retain some authority, he naturally had some leverage. The one and only Grand Elder in our School of Blue Jade is none other than our Grand Master! So long as Milord offers his cooperation, Master still has ways to help that will not disappoint Milord. If he failed to do that, then it wouldn’t be too late for Milord to change his mind still!"
The School of Blue Jade was not a very large school. At best, it was below average. Miao Yi had heard about this School of Blue Jade Grand Elder before. He was the only remaining Elder who was also a guardian of the mountain. Apparently, his cultivation was at Red Lotus Third Grade—two grades higher than even the School of Blue Jade’s Sect Master himself. Miao Yi never expected that he was Hong Changhai’s Master.
"Is that so?" Miao Yi gave a slight nod, and figured that he might as well give it a try.
Seeing that he was still reluctant, and not knowing what was going on in his mind, both Senior and Junior Brother exchanged a glance. While facing Miao Yi who was seated high above, they suddenly swept their long robes and got down on one knee, cupping their fists as they pleaded, "Milord. Please grant our request! If we are able to help our Master overcome this obstacle, us Senior and Junior Brothers are both willing to give our lives for you!"
"No need! Witnessing your show of loyalty to your Master, how can I deny you?" Miao Yi raised his hand and gestured, "Stand up!"
"Thank you for agreeing, Milord!" The two of them immediately breathed a sigh of relief and stood up. They were finally able to fulfill their responsibility to their Master.
The three of them continued on their dragon steeds. Very soon, the barren and desolate mountain gave way to an ethereal forest filled with bright flowers. An ancient stone path, worn over countless years appeared before them, and on either side of it, were two ancient boles.
Under the archway of the ancient mountain gate before them, a party was already there here to welcome them. The archway was actually sculpted from a large chunk of blue jade and had three giant characters—’School of Blue Jade’—engraved upon them.
Once they got closer, it wouldn’t be good to rush in. Otherwise, it would be disrespectful to the School of Blue Jade. Miao Yi raised his hand a little, and the three of them slowed their steeds to a walk. The steps of their dragon steed’s hooves rang out in crisp clomping sounds.
Pagoda trees soon began to appear beside them, their flower petals cascading like snow.
Truth be told, after taking a rough look and comparing their scenic landscapes, Miao Yi realized that the entire land that the School of Blue Jade occupied might not even be much better than his own East Arrival Cave. It was only after aeons of being managed by men, that the surroundings had been beautified to such a great extent.
However, this was understandable. The various famed mountains and great rivers across the realms that were spiritually endowed by nature were mostly monopolized by the various Earthly Branches, Palaces, Halls, Manors, Caves, and the like. A small school like the School of Blue Jade didn’t have much to choose from.
Miao Yi swept his gaze past the people that were standing under the archway of the mountain gate into the distance, and indeed found Elder Hong Changhai, standing in the midst of them. However, he was standing at the far end of the crowd, leading two disciples. For the man who originally possessed a status second only to the Sect Master, to be reduced to such a state was a clear sign that he had lost much prestige.
On the other end, three aged men were standing before the crowd. The one in the lead had a head of white hair; and while his complexion was rosy like a child’s, his aura towered over the rest.
Taking advantage of their slowed pace, Miao Yi secretly sent a transmission to ask, "Who is the person leading them?"
"The one to the left is called Zhan Lisong. The one to the right is called Tang Yue, and the one leading them is called Tong Renmei. They are all Elders of the School. Right now, it is that Elder Tong who has taken over Master’s authority within the School!" Yuan Fang quickly transmitted his voice in reply.
‘Tong Renmei?’ Miao Yi unconsciously turned to look at Lai Yuhan. He realized that all the old men of this School of Blue Jade seemed to like having feminine names.
When they were still five or six zhang away from the archway of the mountain gate, as a show of respect to the School of Blue Jade, Miao Yi raised his hand for them to stop. The three of them then jumped down from their dragon steeds.
He knew that the reason so many Elders had come out to personally greet him was not so much for his cultivation, than it was for his status.
To make an analogy: in the cultivation realms, the School of Blue Jade was similar to the rustic villagers of the mortal world. While Miao Yi was like a government official of the mortal world. No matter how low his position was, he still had status. When a government official comes, the villagers would naturally have to gather to welcome him.
However, it wouldn’t do for Miao Yi to go overboard with it. Firstly, he had already been demoted to a Steed Deputy, at least in name. Secondly, he had something to request of the other party this time around.
Likewise, even though the School of Blue Jade sent so many Elders out to welcome him, it wouldn’t be good for them to act too humbly. Seeing that Miao Yi could read the atmosphere, they came out from under the archway and walked towards him with smiles.
At this moment, Hong Changhai already shot a glance at his two beloved disciples from the rear of the party. Both Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan caught his eye and stealthily nodded their heads, signalling that the matter had been settled.
After worrying all this time, Hong Changhai instantly heaved a sigh of relief. He gazed in approval at his two disciples, as though complimenting them for not having disappointed their Master.
"You’re the East Arrival Cave Master Miao?" Elder Tong Renmei, cupped his fists and inquired.
Miao Yi cupped his fists, and said self-deprecatingly, "The East Arrival Cave Master couldn’t come, but the Steed Deputy is here in his stead. I apologize for disappointing everyone."
Tong Renmei immediately burst out in laughter. The others laughed as well when they heard it, feeling that this fellow was truly amusing. Everyone obviously knew that Miao Yi was the real person in charge of East Arrival Cave. He was just making a joke just now. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.