Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan obviously didn’t return to gather East Arrival Cave’s forces. They were only returning to East Arrival Cave.
There was a change in plans. For the moment, he decided not to head to the capital, and would instead be leaving the Fifth Earthly Branch’s territory on a long journey to the First Earthly Branch. It would be inconvenient for him to thoughtlessly bring East Arrival Cave’s forces across borders with his current status. After all, he was no longer the East Arrival Cave Master in name.
There was another important reason for asking the two of them to return. He didn’t want to make it difficult for Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan to face their Master Hong Changhai.
Even though he promised them that he would stay on Hong Changhai’s side, he was very dissatisfied with Hong Changhai’s reply. ‘What do you mean regardless if you succeeded or not, you would give me an answer before sundown? Since it’s troublesome for you to even manage some manpower within the School of Blue Jade, why should I offend someone else for your sake? Was our relationship that good?’
One point was simply to help Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan avoid awkwardness. After this, Hong Changhai was sure to contact the two of them and ask about what happened. This time, he wanted to see what the two of them would do when faced with such a decision. He didn’t mind what they ended up choosing in the end, but they had better not forget their current identities. If they were people who only knew how to follow Hong Changhai’s instructions, then Miao Yi would really have to think hard about their standing from then on.
He wanted Hong Changhai to understand one thing—‘If you want to use me, better show me what you can help me with. If I ask you to do something, you better be quick about it. Don’t give me some vague answer like whether you succeeded or not.’
‘If you can’t do it, I’ll just find someone else. You’re not my only option. In the future, you better throw your back into my tasks!’
It was the same for Tong Renmei. ‘If you want to use me, show me what you can do. You don’t have the right to negotiate with me!’
Tong Renmei seemed liked he wanted to leave, but he was stuck in his tracks, unable to take another step. When he came earlier, he did see that Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan, who used to guard the gate, were already gone. Furthermore, he already had people watching over this area. Those by the mountain gate already informed him that the two of them were returning to East Arrival Cave.
He dropped his previously haughty air immediately. He was definitely someone who knew when to yield, and when not to. "Why must Milord trouble East Arrival Cave’s forces? This old man still has ways of handling such a trivial matter. May I know how many men Milord requires, and where Milord is heading to?"
"I’m making a journey towards the domain of the First Earthly Branch’s Overlord. The journey will be rather long. As for the number of men, I’ll trust Elder Tong to handle it as you see fit."
"The First Earthly Branch?" muttered Tong Renmei in bewilderment. He realized that this fellow was rather difficult to deal with—he simply did not let his guard down until he got what he wanted! Tong Renmei asked, "When is Milord planning to leave?"
"The sooner the better. I’ll be making my move once the men have assembled."
"Please wait, Milord. I will make the necessary arrangements now." Tong Renmei had humbled his stance, quickly cupping his fists and intended to leave immediately.
"Elder Tong!" Miao Yi suddenly shouted to him, and brought him to a halt.
Tong Renmei turned to look back at him. He had already shown enough sincerity; he wasn’t sure what else Miao Yi was going to ask of him.
He never expected that Miao Yi would then say something so brazen, that it made his heart hammer with excitement.
With an indifferent tone, Miao Yi said, "I trust Elder Tong knows about my relationship with the Mount Shaotai Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao? I don’t mind telling you this. I have been eyeing the Mount Shaotai Chieftain post for a while now. On this long journey, I will be sure to see if Elder Tong’s line of disciples are helpful or not. If they are, when I gather my army and launch an attack on Mount Shaotai in the future, will Elder Tong be willing to lend me the necessary manpower for my campaign?"
Truly someone who didn’t lower his guard until he got what he wanted. Just after Tong Renmei took a step back and compromised, he revealed this sweet reward.
Tong Renmei’s eyes brightened. He immediately realized one thing—‘After beating around the bush for half the day, this may be the true reason this fellow had come to the School of Blue Jade.’
He quickly walked back to Miao Yi, his attitude instantly changed as he continued in a whisper, "I don’t have a problem on my end. However, I’m afraid that Yang Qing might not be so willing to agree to our people joining."
"I will settle this problem," said Miao Yi, narrowing his eyes at him. "Xiong Xiao is at the helm of two Mountains. You should know that for my East Arrival Cave’s forces to take over those two Mountains, our forces are far from enough. Once the deed is done, I wonder if Elder Tong is willing to offer me ten Caves’ worth of forces to help me oversee ten of the twenty Caves involved."
"Milord need not worry about this!" assured Tong Renmei, and immediately after, whispered, "If Milord really requires our assistance when the time comes, I can order the School of Blue Jade disciples within Xiong Xiao’s forces to cooperate with you. Then, we will be able to eliminate Xiong Xiao and the disciples from the three major schools from both within and without!"
Miao Yi wasn’t joking around. Since he had already progressed this far with his cultivation and strength, a tiny little East Arrival Cave was no longer enough to satisfy him. It was already at a point where dealing with Xiong Xiao was just a matter of time.
His decision to come to the School of Blue Jade was made after much consideration. It wasn’t simply done on a spur of the moment decision. Asking about his Little Brother, and Little Sister was just one of the reasons. Previously, he hadn’t expected that he would hear news of his Little Sister so soon. Thus, his plans had changed.
His other reason was as Tong Renmei guessed. It was to come to the School of Blue Jade to secretly negotiate and request for manpower. However, he first wanted to see how the School of Blue Jade would react.
The reason he so decisively cast Hong Changhai aside before, was precisely because after their discussion, he realized that Hong Changhai’s authority within the current School of Blue Jade wasn’t enough to meet his needs. He didn’t have the time, nor the obligation to help Hong Changhai slowly regain his original prestige.
He still had the same thing to say—‘My relationship with you, Hong Changhai, hasn’t reached that point yet. We are merely using one another for our own agendas. If I, Miao Yi, didn’t have some value that you can use, you wouldn’t even bother with me. Naturally, I have to find someone more capable to discuss matters with.’
Some matters were very real. To deal with a real-life problem, you had to be pragmatic.
Within the courtyard, the two of them whispered in secret under the moonlight, going on for quite some time. Once they satisfied each other’s requirements, Tong Renmei excitedly cupped his fist towards Miao Yi, and quickly turned to leave.
When he reached the front yard, he caught sight of the two restless female disciples. Tong Renmei stopped, revealing a pleased expression as he nodded, "The esteemed guest is very satisfied with your service. The two of you did well. Go find Elder Tang later, and have him increase the resources you are receiving from the school by one level from now on."
‘The esteemed guest is very satisfied?’ The two girls were taken aback. Before they could understand what had just happened, Tong Renmei was already gone like the wind….
Soon after discussing the matter with the Sect Master, Tong Renmei departed from the grand hall, and quickly gathered twenty of the School of Blue Jade’s disciples to brief them. Among them were two Blue Lotus First Grade Cultivators, one Blue Lotus Second Grade Cultivator, as well as one disciple at Blue Lotus Fourth Grade. The rest of them were all cultivators at White Lotus Seventh Grade and higher.
As soon as he briefed them, Tong Renmei specifically instructed the Blue Lotus Fourth Grade disciple, "Tian Qingfeng. Milord’s safety is of paramount importance to our School of Blue Jade. You must ensure Milord’s safety at all costs during this journey. If any mishaps were to happen to Milord, I’ll have all of you answer for it!"
"Understood!" The Blue Lotus Fourth Grade disciple called Tian Qingfeng cupped his fists and accepted his order.
Not long after, Tong Renmei brought his party to meet up with Miao Yi. Then, he introduced Miao Yi to the men he brought.
Such an escort party was much stronger than Miao Yi’s East Arrival Cave forces, so he was deeply satisfied.
About twenty men were just mounting their dragon steeds, when Hong Changhai rushed over out of nowhere after hearing the commotion. He went to stand right before Miao Yi’s steed, and anxiously asked, "Milord. Where are you going? Will you be able to come back by tomorrow?"
He was still hinting that he would give Miao Yi an answer by sundown tomorrow.
"Elder Hong. I don’t have time to wait until sundown tomorrow. Get out of my way!"
Miao Yi coldly said these words from atop Charcoal. He shot Hong Changhai with a sharp, merciless retort—chilling his heart, and leaving him dazed where he stood.
The School of Blue Jade disciples accompanying him tensed up when they saw him chastising Hong Changhai without holding back right before them. Additionally, the overbearing pressure from Miao Yi’s tone already had most of them holding back their lofty attitudes.
After all, there were many among them who possessed cultivations higher than Miao Yi. It was inevitable that they would be a little conceited.
Yet, now they discovered that the other party didn’t even hold their School of Blue Jade Elder with any regard, and scolded him like he would his grandson. They would naturally pale in comparison to that.
However, this was precisely the effect that Miao Yi wanted to create.
One couldn’t blame Miao Yi for doing this to Hong Changhai. This journey would be long and arduous. If he were to bring a bunch of men that didn’t heed his orders, even if there wasn’t any danger, it would still be quite the headache.
Since Hong Changhai had come at this moment, Miao Yi might as well use him to establish his might!
Sometimes, success was not only built atop the corpses of others; it was also created by stepping on the shoulder's of another. There was no mercy!
"Senior Brother. What are you doing? Why are you standing in Milord’s way?" From beside him, Tong Renmei stepped up and pulled the dazed Hong Changhai away from the spot.
Bathed under a watery moonlight, Miao Yi cast a cold, resolute gaze straight ahead of him. Then from beneath him, Charcoal suddenly burst forth and the twenty mounts behind him hurriedly gave chase.
As he watched them leave, Tong Renmei turned his gaze to the fallen Hong Changhai as he left dejectedly; and back again at the departing herd of steeds as they galloped into the distance. He couldn’t help but sigh towards Zhan Lisong and Tang Yue standing beside him, and say, "This fellow is very competent. He is someone that can do great things!"
Under the moonlight, twenty-one steeds crossed though mountains and forests.
Two men led the way at the front of the pack, as they were accustomed to travelling long distances and had some familiarity with the path. Miao Yi followed behind them, while the other eighteen steeds galloped behind him.
They galloped from night till sunrise, then onwards through the morning without rest.
In five days, the party already left Suppressing Second Hall’s territory. Then, finding a river in a mountain valley, they decided to take a break.
For them sitting on the dragon steeds, it wasn’t a problem to gallop for days without rest. The issue was that the dragon steeds couldn’t endure the pace; they were made of flesh and blood after all. Five days of galloping without rest, no matter how well-endowed they were, they still needed to take a break to recover themselves.
While the other dragon steeds spent their time resting, grazing and drinking water by the river, Charcoal shook his tail along the stream, and caught fish to eat. He didn’t seem tired at all.
Miao Yi sat cross-legged on a giant rock by the river and cultivated. The School of Blue Jade disciples split in two and spread across the perimeter, taking turns to keep guard. They had been constantly reminded when they left, that Miao Yi’s safety was of the utmost priority on this journey.
They rested for a whole day. If the duration was too short, the dragon steeds wouldn’t be able to recover their strength.
By morning the next day, the party was already back on the road. In another few days, they finally left the domain of the Fifth Earthly Branch.
Less than two days after they had entered the Ninth Earthly Branch, their path was obstructed by a mighty river that spanned across before them. They could barely see the end of it. Miao Yi gazed into the distance; it was the first time that Miao Yi had seen such a wide river on the continent.
After discussing it among themselves, they decided to have their dragon steeds swim across while they leapt over the river. They were about to get down from their mounts, when the unexpected rumbling of dragon steeds sounded out from the edge of the river.
There were approximately ten men, each of them holding weapons. After sweeping a watchful gaze across Miao Yi and his party, the leader of the group pointed his finger at them and shouted, "Who are you people? Why are you lingering around here?"
Miao Yi looked at the other party’s formation and surmised that they were the forces of a Cave. He rode out atop of Charcoal and answered, "Fifth Earthly Branch’s East Arrival Cave. Here on orders from above. May I know which Cave you are from, friend?"
"Do you have any proof?" The other party asked.
Miao Yi took out the jade archive bearing the decree of duty and tossed it over. This was the decree of duty that he received when he reported in as the East Arrival Cave Master. For some reason, Qin Weiwei never asked him to return it, and Yan Xiu obviously wouldn’t ask for it. Now, it seemed like it could be put to use.
Once the other party received it and had a quick read, he was able to confirm Miao Yi’s identity. Signalling with his hand, he motioned for his subordinates to stand down, then stepped forward to have a conversation with Miao Yi.