Yan Xiu didn’t expect that Gongsun Yu would be waiting over here to greet him. He quickly returned the courtesy. "Cave Master Gongsun."
Gongsun Yu sized Yan Xiu up, making him feel quite uncomfortable. The memory of being struck down to his knees by Gongsun Yu’s spear in the past was still vivid in his mind.
"Is something wrong, Cave Master Gongsun?" asked Yan Xiu, confused.
"Nothing much." Gongsun Yu smiled, "May I know what manner of business did the Mountain Chieftain wish to speak with you privately about?"
‘This question is a little too rude. Why do I need to let you know what I talked over with the Mountain Chieftain?’ Yan Xiu furrowed his brows and gave a perfunctory reply. "Nothing important. If there’s nothing else, Cave Master Gongsun, I shall be taking my leave."
"No rush!" Gongsun Yu immediately stuck his arm out and stopped in front of Yan Xiu. He didn’t hold Yan Xiu with any regard at all. "I believe the Mountain Chieftain was speaking with you about Miao Yi just now?"
Surprised, Yan Xiu gave him an odd look—‘How did he know?’
Judging from Yan Xiu’s reaction, Gongsun Yu knew his guess was correct. He only asked on a whim and never expected that his deduction would turn out to be true. Narrowing his eyes, he asked, "What did Mountain Chieftain say about Miao Yi?"
Yan Xiu’s expression darkened. "Cave Master Gongsun. Don’t push it. Do you think you have the authority to question the Mountain Chieftain’s affairs?"
Realizing that something was off with the situation, Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan hurried over to stand beside Yan Xiu. Yuan Fang icily asked, "Cave Master. What seems to be the problem?"
Gongsun Yu ignored Yuan Fang and glared at Yan Xiu in mockery, "Yan Xiu. You should know best how much weight you carry. You’re far from being the master of East Arrival Cave. Just because I call you Cave Master Yan, do you really think of yourself as the Cave Master?"
"Cave Master Gongsun. You have no right to concern yourself in East Arrival Cave’s affairs!" Yuan Fang growled.
Suddenly, a scornful voice rang out, "Yo! Aren’t you disciples from the School of Blue Jade?" A man and a woman came over to stand behind Gongsun Yu. From their attires, they were obviously disciples from the Sword Deviate Sect and Jade Lady Sect. By now, Gongsun Yu’s Long Viridescent Cave had already replenished its forces as well, with most of them being disciples from the three major sects.
The Sword Deviate Sect disciple pointed at Yuan Fang’s nose and scoffed, "The two Cave Masters are speaking. Since when do you have the right to butt in? If you wish to play, my Sword Deviate Sect will be more than happy to oblige your School of Blue Jade."
Gongsun Yu revealed a faint smile. The School of Blue Jade wouldn’t be bold enough to challenge the Sword Deviate Sect.
Yuan Fang and Lai Yuhan held back their anger. While the School of Blue Jade indeed would not dare challenge the Sword Deviate Sect and the Jade Lady Sect, seeing these two bastards behave so impudently towards two Blue Lotus cultivators like them—they must be tired of living!
They were about to burst into rage. Yan Xiu didn’t wish to cause any trouble in such a place, and sternly said, "Pay them no heed. Let's go."
Gongsun Yu suddenly reached out and stopped him. "This subordinate of yours has no sense of respect. How dare he yell at me, a Cave Master. First have your subordinate bow his head and apologize. Then, you may leave."
"Gongsun Yu. Don’t push your luck!" Yan Xiu was furious. Even the most level-headed men have their limits.
"Cave Master." Lai Yuhan cut in from beside him, and urged Yan Xiu not to be hasty. Then, he cupped his fists towards Gongsun Yu, "It’s nothing much to have us bow our heads and apologize. However, I must ask Cave Master Gongsun one question—are you absolutely sure you wish for East Arrival Cave to lower its head to you on this day!?"
There was a heavy weight behind the last few words he uttered.
Gongsun Yu’s expression changed as he abruptly came to his senses. He didn’t understand why he lost control of his emotions just then. Even though the men before him were pushovers, East Arrival Cave still had a madman that had yet to show his face. It wouldn’t do him any good to offend that bastard. Nothing was impossible for that fellow. If Gongsun Yu really pissed him off and Miao Yi decided to launch an assault on Long Viridescent Cave, Gongsun Yu’s forces wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to his.
He slowly lowered his hand. "Forget it. Out of respect for Brother Miao, I will not hold it against you."
He acted as though he were the benevolent one forgiving them for their misconduct.
Lai Yuhan forcefully cupped his fists and replied, "I shall remember Cave Master Gongsun’s treatment today. Once I return, I will be sure to give a detailed account to Steed Deputy Miao. I believe Steed Deputy Miao will surely repay your kindness with great enthusiasm. Farewell!"
The meaning behind his words were clear—‘We might not be bold enough to touch you, but there is someone in East Arrival Cave who is!’
Gongsun Yu’s lips twitched strongly. The other party was obviously implying that he was only capable of bullying easy prey, but cowered before someone he couldn’t push around. He watched on as the three men left, not daring to keep them any longer than he already did. He was even worrying a little about what he should do if a certain maniac came knocking on his door. It was true that Gongsun Yu was Yang Qing’s trusted aide, but so was Xiong Xiao, and he almost lost his life to a certain someone regardless.
Gongsun Yu was a little regretful. It seemed ever since Miao Yi was demoted to Steed Deputy, he only met with Qin Weiwei once over an entire decade. Gongsun Yu couldn’t even get a proper grasp of the situation yet. How could a person who was usually composed like himself, suddenly lose his cool like that...
Fifth Earthly Branch Capital City, Jade Capital Peak — Standing in the midst of the courtyard, Miao Yi and the rest lifted their gaze up to the sky as dozens of light rays approached from the horizon, swiftly descending upon the tallest point of Jade Capital Peak.
Today was the day the various Palace Lords would flock to the capital city for the handover of the annual tributes. They would be escorted by the respective Hall Masters serving under them. The sight of them soaring through the skies was a breathtaking one to say the least, with the lowest cultivation among them being Red Lotus realm experts.
Today was also the day of the new year celebration, so the entire capital city was illuminated with bright lights and festive decorations. Soon, another dozen rays of light shot over from a different direction across the sky, causing both citizens and cultivators alike to look up in awe.
Even though they were on the mountain side, Miao Yi and the rest could hear the commotion going on from down below. Alas, Miao Yi and his group’s cultivations were not high enough. Furthermore, the speed at which they were going was astonishing; they couldn’t make out how any of the Palace Lords and Hall Masters looked like at all.
Miao Yi and his group could only sigh in admiration as they gazed up at the skies. They didn’t know when their own cultivations would ever be high enough to reach the level where they could freely traverse the realm.
It seemed like Luo Shuangfei wasn’t interested in flying around. Instead, every once in a while, he would pluck blooms from the nearby flower beds, and place them into his hair. He even had a mirror on hand that he would use to peer at his reflection from time to time. Feeling delighted with himself, he would raise those thick, bushy eyebrows of his in a flirtatious manner while flashing that large set of yellowed teeth. With the large, black, hairy mole on his face alongside the bloom on his head, he looked completely disgusting. Yet he seemed unabashed in his elation. It sent chills down their spines whenever passersby occasionally caught sight of him, and made them wish for nothing more than to go over and plant a couple of kicks in his face.
When night fell, the entire capital city was covered in a festive light. All around, fireworks could be heard as beautiful bursts of flames rose up to the skies. The juxtaposition with the surrounding landscape made the scenery incomparably beautiful.
After coming down from Jade Capital Peak, Miao Yi and his group could smell the heavy scent of smoke in the air. As they walked down the streets, they allowed themselves to bask in the joyous and rowdy atmosphere, taking in the excitement from the festivities.
They were on their way towards the most bustling place of the night—Jade Lake. They wanted to admire the scenery, but the streets were too crowded with celebrants. Thus, they decided to rent a cruise boat instead, one adorned with lanterns of various colors. They dined on pastries and tea as they sailed across the water. However, even the water was quite crowded; full of boats going back and forth on this day.
Both shores on the river were in full festive swing, with bright, flashy lights further adding on to the excitement. Luo Shuangfei was taking it all in with his eyes until he finally couldn’t sit still any longer. With wine in his hand and food in his jaws, he ran back and forth across the deck. When he caught sight of a cruise boat carrying a crowd of women pleasantly chattering together , he immediately swallowed the food in his mouth and blew a wolf whistle at the ladies, waving at them with an elated expression on his face.
The women on the boat waved their handkerchiefs and said invitingly, "Come up here, Young Master!"
"I will. Don’t worry. I will be there in a short while!" Luo Shuangfei winked and made signs at them. He was completely overjoyed.
Looking at that behaviour of his, Miao Yi and the rest within the cabin shook their heads. ‘How could there be a cultivator as peculiar as him in this world?’
Leaning on the railings, Miao Yi swept his gaze about and couldn’t help giving praise to such a magnificent sight. "What a wondrous spectacle."
As the boat followed the river’s course into the Jade Lake, the river suddenly stretched out before them. Near and far, countless cruise boats of varying sizes were strewn across the surface of the lake. Their reflections rippled across the water like innumerable stars across the night sky, flickering rhythmically alongside the radiant moonlight on this starry night. It was a soothing and pleasant sight to behold.
The sound of string and wind instruments could be heard, alongside the melodies of song and dance when the cruise boats occasionally passed each other by. The great, lavish boats used by the brothels were much larger in size, compared to Miao Yi’s boat which was used merely for ferrying guests.
According to Lin Pingping, the courtesans’ competition for the right to lead the festival was being held in the center of Jade Lake, where a giant ship was stationed. They were still a ways off from that place.
A medium-sized ship many times larger than the one Miao Yi and the rest were on, passed by ahead of them. The white curtains surrounding it fluttered against the night breeze, revealing a long couch within. Sitting cross-legged on it was a man dressed in thin, gray robes, with his hair tied neatly by a jade hairpin.
A lady with a voluptuous and alluring figure was sleeping on his thighs with a tear-stained, yellow, striped flute resting against her lips. The melody of the flute carried an ethereal beauty, mimicking the fickleness of life as it rose and fell in tune with her perfect fingers. Anyone listening to it would be lost in its depths. It was a stark contrast to the songs played on those boats full of chattering women.
The lady played the flute with her eyes closed in melancholy. Her skin was white as snow; her two fair bountiful bosoms laid half-bare to the open air; and her thick raven hair was lusciously alluring. She was garbed in a thin, light yellow muslin-like dress, the hem of which hung all the way down and was now spread over the couch. The dress had a slit that began from just below her groin, revealing a pair of slender and flawless, jade-like legs that would drive any man mad. Beginning from the base of her thighs, her legs lay exposed with her bare feet strewn atop the couch.
The man reached out to a golden pail beside him and picked up a clump of ice. He traced the frostiness gently across the woman’s snow-white bosoms, leaving a trail of water. The lady revealed a faint smile in response whilst continuing to play the flute.
Having their attention caught by the profound, yet alluring melody of the flute, Miao Yi and the rest couldn’t help but take a closer look. As the curtains fluttered against the night winds, Miao Yi caught a glance at the man’s face and couldn’t help jumping in shock. ‘Xiao Yizhu?’
The man embracing the alluring lady turned out to be the brother he had swore an oath with—Xiao Yizhu. ‘But why is he here?’ Miao Yi thought he was mistaken, so he immediately rushed to the bow of the ship and shouted, "BIG BROTHER XIAO!"
On the boat, Luo Shuangfei and the rest were confused. ‘He even has close acquaintances here?’
The two boats already passed each other. On hearing a familiar voice, Xiao Yizhu reflexively turned his head to look. When he saw it was Miao Yi standing on the bow of the boat, his lips couldn’t help twitching as he hurriedly turned his head back, acting as though he hadn’t noticed him.
This Xiao Yizhu was obviously Suppressing Second Hall Master Huo Lingxiao. He was a little dismayed. ‘How could I bump into this kid here? What’s an East Arrival Cave Steed Deputy doing all the way out here?’
However, turning his head back enabled Miao Yi to fully identify, and confirm that it was really him.
The sombre melody of the flute came to a stop. The lady resting on Huo Lingxiao’s thighs gently opened her eyes; keeping her face expressionless, she said, "Since it’s an acquaintance, why won’t you return the greeting?"
Her leisurely tone carried a trace of absolute authority. After she said her piece, the melody of the flute could be heard once again, accompanying the movements of her flawless fingers.
Huo Lingxiao was a little startled. He didn’t expect that she would notice something was off just from his slight movement. He smiled and said, "Perhaps he just mistook me for someone else."
The lady continued playing the flute with her eyes, drowning herself in her own music as though she wasn’t concerned with anything else.