The man had on a purple-gold crown, and was dressed in a purple robe decorated with gold motifs. He looked sharp and formal, with a bold and imposing aura.
The lady wore a gown that danced in the wind. Her flawless feet were bare, whilst her figure was voluptuous and seductive.
Under the moonlight, the man and the lady stood next to each other, yet neither looked at the other person. One cast his gaze down the mountain, and the other eyed the large words on the name plaque of the Governor's Office. One had a penetrating gaze, the other, a quiet one.
After a long while, with an expressionless face, Lan Hou said, "You went too far today."
"Did I? Compared to what you did to me, would that be considered too far?" Xiao Xiao replied indifferently.
"This is the capital city under the Overlord’s jurisdiction. You should not have placed the lives of so many followers at risk at Jade Lake. It would not do you any good to provoke the Overlord either."
"The men from your Governor's Office were the ones pushing their luck. How dare puny grunts like them try to flaunt their authority aboard my ship."
"They didn’t know who you were, and they didn’t do anything wrong either. This incident involved the safety of countless followers. The authority of the Governor's Office when seeking justice within the capital city must not be challenged. Any who dare challenge it must be severely punished!"
"Oh! Then, I just killed two of your men from the Governor's Office. What do you intend to do with me?"
Lan Hou’s face twitched. His throat moved slightly but in the end he decided to let it go and ask something else. Skipping around the matter of the murder atop the ship altogether, he asked, "Are the ones who murdered the men on Heart Island your subordinates?"
"Be careful what you say. What proof do you have?"
"First, hand the suspects over. After the trial, if they are found to be innocent, I will naturally release them."
"If you have any proof, then I will hand them over to you. If you don’t, go ahead and try touching my Traversing Moon Palace’s men. Even if we have to go before the Overlord, I won’t be afraid of you."
"You’re being unreasonable."
"Unreasonable? Then I will show you how unreasonable I can be. The ones who were on Heart Island were acting on my orders. The mastermind is standing before you now. You have always been a ruthless person. What do you intend to do with me then? Are you going to kill me? Or will you capture me and bring me before the Overlord?"
"Xiao Xiao. Don’t test me."
"Silence! Do you think you are fit to call me by that name? What right do you have to call me Xiao Xiao?" shouted Xiao Xiao, abruptly turning to cast a cold gaze at the side of his face.
Lan Hou was silent, his face remained expressionless, but he had a complicated gaze as he stared ahead without moving. His hands moved from his back to grip the jade belt hanging around his waist as he changed the subject. "Regardless of whether it is his status or his appearance, that man is not good enough for you. His intents in courting you might not be sincere either. The gap between you two is too wide. All he is interested in may just be the benefits that you can give to him. The two of you are not a good match."
"Oh Great Governor Lan. Don’t you think your Governor's Office’s jurisdiction is a little too wide? You want to butt in on my personal affairs as well?" mocked Xiao Xiao, as she lifted her gaze. "I will choose to be together with whichever man my heart desires. What right do you have to order me around?"
Lan Hou’s lips twitched. "I am just trying to give you friendly advice. I don’t mean anything by it."
"Do I need your advice? Is there another man that has treated me more ruthlessly than you?! When does a cold, unfaithful scoundrel like you have the right to lecture me?" she mocked, as she continued glaring to the side of his face. "Let's cut the bullshit. I was the one who killed your Governor's Office’s men. What are you going to do about it?"
Lan Hou’s hands on his jade belt slowly clenched as he sucked in a deep breath. "Don’t force me to do this! You should know that you are no match for me. If this happens again, I will not spare you lightly. Leave the two transcendent artifacts and begone!"
Seeing this man avoid looking her in the eye from start to finish, and not sparing her so much as a glance, Xiao Xiao bit her lips and levitated up into the sky—her figure as elegant as the fleeting moon.
The hems of the light-yellow gown gently swept past Lan Hou’s nose. He didn’t evade it. His gaze didn’t waver as he stood there motionlessly. Only, he could smell a familiar fragrance from the hems of the gown.
Hovering in mid-air, Xiao Xiao flicked her large sleeves. Two transcendent artifacts shot out and pierced the ground behind Lan Hou. Still, Lan Hou stood unmoving like a statue.
Seeing this, Xiao Xiao bit harder on her lips. Then, with a purple flash, she instantly disappeared into the night sky.
At this moment, the two who were injured earlier came out from the Governor’s Office and asked, "Governor. What should we do now?"
"Inform those down below to cease whatever they are doing. This matter ends here. Don’t let it escalate further!" Lan Hou said indifferently with his back facing the two.
"Ah!"—‘Didn’t you tell us that it was better to mistakenly kill the suspects than let them go?’—one of them exclaimed, "Are we just going to let them go like this? This matter has already come to the attention of the Overlord. What should we do if the Overlord inquires about it? If you do not wish to deal with her, then you can just have the Overlord punish her—"
Lan Hou abruptly turned his head, his gaze becoming sharp as he coldly interjected, "—I told you that this matter ends here. Did you not hear me, or did you just choose not to listen?"
"Yes! Your subordinate understands!" blurted the person as cold sweat dripped from him.
The other person hastily apologized, "We do not mean anything by it. We are just thinking of you, esteemed Governor. For such a large commotion to happen on Jade Lake on the night of the new year, we are afraid that even you, esteemed Governor, would have a difficult time explaining it to the Overlord."
"The two of you need not worry about this. I will explain this to the Overlord myself." With a flick of his sleeves, Lan Hou turned around with his purple-gold crown and robes, and strode over to the Governor’s Office with large strides.
‘Not pushing the responsibility away when you could. Wouldn’t you just be making things difficult for yourself?’ The two exchanged glances and shook their heads, then pulled their respective transcendent artifacts off the ground and stowed them away….
The chaos on Jade Lake gradually died down, but the battle from before was still vivid in Miao Yi’s mind.
If the battle between Yao Ruoxian and Commander Yuan earlier at the Sea of Constellations was to be called a skirmish between experts, then the one he just witnessed today was a clash between powerhouses of a whole new level. He realized for someone like him who could only kill men and steeds on land, this realm was still too far away. Right now, all he could do was gaze in awe.
"Hey! Don’t you think that Xiao Xiao was pretty? Do you think she is sexy enough?" Luo Shuangfei was throwing Miao Yi suggestive gestures beside him as he asked, "That woman is pretty spunky, right?"
Miao Yi turned to look at him. Truth be told, he was a little jealous. He himself didn’t dare make any thoughtless moves, but this bastard was bold enough to grope her lily-white bosom. Miao Yi hated not being able to chop off those lustful claws of his.
However, he couldn’t refute Luo Shuangfei’s questions, and nodded.
Then, Luo Shuangfei asked, "Then do you fancy her?"
Miao Yi nodded. "Humans are not devoid of emotion like plants and trees. Any man would fancy a woman like that if they saw her. I am also a normal man, so naturally, I am no exception."
"Cheh!" Hearing Miao Yi’s heartfelt opinion, Luo Shuangfei immediately became angry and scoffed, "For a puny Steed Deputy like you? A toad lusting after a swan’s flesh. Why don’t you think about whether the other person would take a liking to you or not? That is an existence beyond your reach. You should come back to reality, puny Steed Deputy!"
"Indeed, she would not take a liking to me." Miao Yi nodded knowingly. He lifted his gaze up to the bright moon hanging in the night sky as Lao Bai’s elegant silhouette flitted past his mind. He had always admired Lao Bai’s broad mind and calm temperament. With his face raised to the sky, the words slowly slipped off his tongue without him realizing—"Beauties and fine liquors are just worldly things. Immersing oneself in them will leave one with no desire to improve oneself, and be unable to move forward. Thus, taking a wrong turn in life. If there truly exists an everlasting beauty, then she only waits for the day when the one to ravage her comes along, so why would she be unattainable?"
"....." Luo Shuangfei noticed that the temperament reflected both in his tone and his expression was instantly more calm and composed by several levels. He never expected Miao Yi would actually say something so profound and ambitious. The Miao Yi immersed in such a state was completely different from his normal self. He instantly had a profound air about him that caused Luo Shuangfei to gaze at him in stupor.
However, Luo Shuangfei quickly recovered and scoffed, "What a great ambition. You can even make women like this your goal to push yourself forward. How worthless. A puny Steed Deputy is nothing more than a puny Steed Deputy, looking at the sky from inside the well. I can tell from a single glance that you’ve never seen a more beautiful woman."
Constantly being called a puny Steed Deputy, Miao Yi was a little annoyed. "At least a puny Steed Deputy like me can solve the problem of a Loose Cultivator’s standing for you. If you don’t want it, you can always leave. I won’t send you off!"
He turned and departed, leaping across the waves.
"Hey! I was just joking with you! Don’t be mad. Don’t be so sensitive!" Luo Shuangfei chased behind him then chuckled, "Aren’t you going to search for the others? Not going to look for them anymore?"
"If they could not find us, they would have definitely returned to the courtyard."
Their ship had travelled far through the bottom of the lake using Xiao Xiao’s transcendence energy. When they re-emerged from the depths of the lake, the two of them were already separated from Tian Qingfeng and the rest.
Tian Qingfeng and the rest indeed came back not long after the two had returned to Jade Capital Peak’s courtyard themselves. Still thinking about what had occured tonight, they were all in a state of shock—especially Lin Pingping, who was simply following behind them.
As soon as Tian Qingfeng saw them, he said, "Milord. It is best we leave quickly."
After such an incident, it was indeed unwise to stay in the capital city any longer.
However, Miao Yi didn’t agree to leaving immediately because Huo Lingxiao told him that everything was fine. He wanted to wait a little longer and see whether that was true or not.
If something were to happen, leaving now would arouse even more suspicion. By staying here, even if they were caught, they could still deny they had any relation to the incident. It was an entirely different matter if they were caught while on the run.
The party stayed another couple days on Jade Capital Peak, and nothing happened in that time. Evidently, the crisis really passed just like that. Otherwise, with the reach of the Governor’s Office, they should be able to discover that Miao Yi and his party were staying here.
Everyone felt relieved. Then, Miao Yi called Lin Pingping alone to his side.
Obviously, a certain someone ran over as well to join in on the excitement. He couldn’t be chased away even if Miao Yi wanted to. It appeared he was not afraid of anyone simply because of his past as a thief.
"Lin Pingping. Are you willing to serve under me?"
When Miao Yi said this in the hall, Lin Pingping was instantly overjoyed. She almost trembled from the intensity of it.
She knew what these words meant. She knew how countless Loose Cultivators in the capital city painfully waited for such an opportunity to come by. She finally came across it! Immediately, she nodded repeatedly and knelt down to show her sincerity, saying, "I, Lin Pingping, am willing to serve Milord with my whole life. Lin Pingping sincerely asks Milord to give her this opportunity!"
"Arise!" said Miao Yi, reaching out and urging her to stand up. Then he stepped closer and said, "If I need manpower, I could always look for those schools and sects. There is no need for me to use a White Lotus Second Grade Loose Cultivator like yourself. I want you to stay in the capital city for now. After three years, if your performance is satisfactory, I will give you an official status."
Lin Pingping cupped her fists excitedly, "Please tell me what to do, Milord. Lin Pingping will not disappoint you."
Since she would be working for him, Miao Yi naturally wouldn’t allow her to continue staying in one of those decrepit caves. He obviously wouldn’t allow her to stay in the courtyard they now resided on the Jade Capital Peak either, as that would be too expensive. He instructed her to head to the foot of the mountain later on and reserve a small courtyard at the lowest class. Even though the conditions weren’t as good as the ones situated higher up, it was enough for her to get by with. What’s more, as a resident of Jade Capital Peak within the domain of the Celestial Nation Chamber of Commerce, her safety could be guaranteed to an extent.
Miao Yi would give her one low-grade Orb of Will every year, along with Crystal Coins and the like. Miao Yi would arrange for it beforehand with the Chamber of Commerce, and allow Lin Pingping to enter the Chamber of Commerce herself to make a withdrawal every month. This provided Lin Pingping with enough resources to continue living well in the capital city.
Naturally, he wouldn’t be providing those resources for nothing. Miao Yi ordered Lin Pingping to remain in the capital city to gather information and report to him once a month. If her performance was good, he would fulfill his promise to her and officially relieve her of her Loose Cultivator’s status three years from now.
To Miao Yi, this wasn’t offering much. However to Lin Pingping, this was already a major change to her life, so she gratefully accepted it.