He already used the punishment for Miao Yi as a stern warning to Xiong Xiao. Xiong Xiao himself had been keeping a low profile all these years, afraid to cause trouble. Suddenly making such a move didn’t seem to be in Xiong Xiao’s best interest. His current strength wasn’t enough to rebel against Yang Qing, and he wouldn’t be able to survive the consequences of doing so either. The only possibility was that something made Xiong Xiao desperate, and as of now, the candidate list for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade was the only possible reason.
Indeed, Yang Qing had thoughts of taking action against Xiong Xiao, but now wasn’t the right time. Besides, Xiong Xiao had been following him for many years. Without some sort of pretext, Yang Qing would never be able to make a move on Xiong Xiao.
The main reason he had submitted Xiong Xiao’s name to the candidate list was to test Huo Lingxiao, and see how much support he was giving to Xiong Xiao. With that, he would then choose the appropriate method to deal with Xiong Xiao. He wouldn’t be that foolish to forcibly act against Huo Lingxiao. Besides, he didn’t have the ability to do so either.
After receiving the reply for the names he submitted, Yang Qing understood that Huo Lingxiao would not go so far as to try something against him for Xiong Xiao’s sake at this time.
Even so, Yang Qing still refused to announce the candidate list for the time being. He would wait until he had everything planned before revealing the contents of the list to Xiong Xiao. He would then figure an appropriate way to force Xiong Xiao to rebel against him.
If Xiong Xiao decided to head to the Sea of Constellations obediently when the time came, it would be fine. But if he did decided to retaliate, then Yang Qing would have a reason to seize him. By then, he would have already made the proper arrangements and Xiong Xiao wouldn't be able to run away even if he wanted to.
However much to everyone’s surprise, Xiong Xiao was no fool either. He reacted quickly and did not confront Yang Qing. He didn’t try to save or delay the inevitable either. In the heat of the moment, he decided he would rather surrender the benefits laid before him.
The reason Xiong Xiao reacted this way was clearly because he had already received the news beforehand. However, who was it that leaked the information to him?
Other than Yang Qing and a few others who knew of the candidate list submitted to the Suppressing Second Hall, only Hall Master Huo Lingxiao would know about it. Yang Qing hadn’t even told his personal handmaidens about the list. Moreover, after the candidate list was sent out, he received a swift reply afterwards. There weren’t a lot of people handling the list. Other than those in Suppressing Second Hall exposing the list, he couldn’t think of any other who could have seen it….
Qin Weiwei couldn’t wait any longer and proceeded to inspect the contents of the jade archive. It only carried news of Xiong Xiao assaulting East Arrival Cave, but held no details of the cave’s current situation. East Arrival Cave had immediately sent out a Spirit Eagle to relay the news before the assault occured, so there wasn’t any detail of Miao Yi’s condition that Qin Weiwei wished to know.
Hong Mian also attached another report with the jade archive—it was the news of Miao Yi slaughtering eight of Gongsun Yu’s men at Long Viridescent Cave. However, in contrast to Xiong Xiao assaulting East Arrival Cave, this piece of news was obviously set aside by both father and daughter immediately.
"Xiong Xiao has gone too far. He's treating my Mount Calming Sea as if it were nothing. I beg of Manor Head, please hand him a severe punishment!" Qin Weiwei clasped her fists together and pleaded.
"Severe punishment?" Yang Qing mockingly said at the thought. Standing up, he left the dining table and paced about slowly before saying, "I am afraid I won’t be able to punish him even if I want to. If I am not mistaken, Xiong Xiao has already defected. Judging by the timeframe, I’m afraid the only place he could have contacted in such a short period would be Suppressing Third Hall. I’m guessing that the one who leaked the information didn’t expect Xiong Xiao to make this move. That person might become angry from this embarrassment."
Qin Weiwei and Qing Ju became confused after listening to his words because both of them didn’t know that Yang Qing had already signed Xiong Xiao up to participate in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade as a candidate.
However, Qin Weiwei wasn’t concerned about that. She wanted to know the current situation of East Arrival Cave. Most importantly, she wanted to know Miao Yi’s current status. Seeing that Yang Qing had no intention to punish Xiong Xiao, she was in no mood to ask about the entire sequence of events, so she dismissed herself and left hastily.
Yang Qing did not detain her either. Instead, he sent a few experts from South Edict Manor to accompany her along the way.
Even if he suspected Xiong Xiao of defecting, he felt that there wasn’t a need to make a big fuss over it. He would deal with it accordingly, depending on the upper echelons’ reaction. However, nothing was certain in this world. It was completely possible that Xiong Xiao would take desperate measures and strike a vicious blow at Qin Weiwei again, so he thought it would be safer to send out a few experts to protect her from harm.
At the same time, Yang Qing had another order for Qin Weiwei. Xiong Xiao was acting maliciously this time around. Yang Qing feared that East Arrival Cave would only be met with ill winds from now on. If Miao Yi did manage to survive, then he would re-appoint him as the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave, but Yang Qing would not send out any troops for Miao Yi. Miao Yi would have to think of another way to solve his problem.
Currently, they didn’t have any news about whether Miao Yi was dead or alive. Qin Weiwei couldn’t believe that Yang Qing still had the time to be concerned about Miao Yi’s position right now. She clenched her pearly whites and acknowledged the orders before turning to leave…
Just then, Miao Yi had already taken Luo Shuangfei with him and fled to Mount Calming Sea. Along the way he bumped into Hong Mian, who breathed a sigh of relief after seeing Miao Yi unharmed. After being briefed on the situation at East Arrival Cave, she then relayed the information back to South Edict Manor.
Miao Yi managed to find the disciples of the School of Blue Jade at Mount Calming Sea and made them immediately think of a way to contact Tong Renmei of the School of Blue Jade, as he was in dire need of men!
Meanwhile, Tu Sanliang and the others who had been pursuing Miao Yi stopped their chase when they reached the borders of Mount Calming Sea. Would they dare assault Mount Calming Sea just because of Miao Yi? They didn’t have the guts to do so.
What made them even more bewildered was that they had completely lost contact with their Mountain Chieftain Xiong Xiao. ‘How could this be? What should they do next?’ In that instant, they were completely confused...
Suppressing Third Hall — Xiong Xiao brought his two handmaidens with him to the gates of the hall after a hurried, arduous non-stop journey. He was feeling quite anxious.
After a while, the handmaiden Fei Yun serving under the Hall Master gradually approached them with a smile and said, "The Hall Master requested for you. Please come with me."
"I am sorry to have troubled you," replied Xiong Xiao with an unusual respectful tone. He turned back to instruct Xia He and Qiu Yu, "Wait for me here."
"Yes!" The ladies were as nervous as he was when they gave their reply. They remained outside without the daring to move around and watched as Xiong Xiao obediently followed Fei Yun.
On reaching the main hall at the rear of the chamber, Xiong Xiao could see Wu Menglan seated demurely without paying attention to him. She was looking at a jade archive in her hand.
Xiong Xiao’s chest tightened. He quickly went up and paid his respects, "Xiong Xiao is honored to see the Hall Master!"
Wu Menglan continued to stared at the jade archive in her hand and casually asked, "Are you that Xiong Xiao who went to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor and tricked Liu Jingtian into dispatching his troops?"
Xiong Xiao shot a glance at her. He didn’t think that this woman would mention this, so he nervously replied, "Yes!"
Wu Menglan glanced at him and sneered, "Such audacity. You have offended my Suppressing Third Hall, and now you have the guts to surrender to me. Do you think Suppressing Third Hall is such easy game?"
Xiong Xiao was already extremely nervous, yet he managed to summon enough courage to reply, "Hall Master. We were serving different masters back then. I received strict orders from above and did not dare defy them. Now that I have surrendered myself to you, I will certainly serve you with my life."
"That is indeed music to my ears." Wu Menglan put down the jade archive in her hand and continued asking, "Yang Qing has treated you well, and yet you can still betray him. Today you surrendered yourself to me, but can you guarantee that you will never betray me in the future? Just because he signed your name up for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, you betrayed him. There’s no such situation in the world of cultivation where leaders will never send out their underlings to fight to their death. If everyone were like you—a man who dishonors his lord—how could I dare to take you in?"
"Hall Master. If it was just asking me to head the Sea of Constellations, I would not bear any hatred in my heart. Back then, I risked my life for Yang Qing and fearlessly leapt into danger at the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor. How does that make me a cowardly person who clings to life, fearing death?" said Xiong Xiao with a sorrowful face, before letting out a long sigh.
He was well aware of the fact that whether the Hall Master would be satisfied with his answer, would determine his fate. He shook his head helplessly and continued, "I didn’t want to betray Yang Qing. My betrayal has nothing to do with how he treated me, and it has nothing to do with sending me to the Sea of Constellations. Even if he mistreated me a little, I would not gone to the point of betraying him. In reality, Yang Qing is small-minded and he couldn’t tolerate me anymore, so he deliberately planned and put me in a place of danger and death. No matter what I do, even if I leap over a boiling cauldron, or a blazing fire for him, he still desires to harm me. Why should I risk my life for such a person? I betrayed him because I was driven to desperation!"
Wu Menglan replied, "Oh? Driven to desperation? According to you, you won’t have any qualms with me allowing you to continue participating in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade this time then, am I correct?"
Xiong Xiao’s resolve shook slightly, but he quickly got it under control. If the Hall Master intended to accept him just to kill him off, she wouldn’t need to meet him personally like this. He clasped his fists together decisively and said, " Whatever orders the Hall Master gives, I am willing to risk my life to fulfill them."
Wu Menglan gave a satisfied nod. Regardless of whether Xiong Xiao was being sincere or pretentious, at the very least he had passed her test. That was enough to satisfy her.
"Go to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor." Wu Menglan’s sudden order took Xiong Xiao by surprise.
He initially wanted to seek refuge with Manor Head Zhao Mu at Surging Waves Manor, but now he was being told to head to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor instead. There was enmity between him and Liu Jingtian, the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor! Wouldn’t this put him on the block?
He saw Wu Menglan writing a jade archive of appointment and tossing it to him. Xiong Xiao took a closer look at the archive after receiving it. His jaw almost dropped in shock after reading the contents. The order on the archive declared that he was appointed as the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor…
He thought he had wrongly read the content and re-read the message multiple times just to be certain. Indeed, it wasn’t a mistake.
"What’s wrong? Are you not satisfied with being the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor? Perhaps you also want me to offer my position as Hall Master to you?" Wu Menglan coldly asked.
Xiong Xiao came back to his senses immediately and hastily waved his hands in ferverently, "I dare not think of it. I pledge to serve Hall Master with my life!"
Wu Menglan cocked her head at handmaiden Fei Yun standing by her side and said, "Go and personally escort Xiong Xiao to Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor to assume his position. Liu Jingtian has repeatedly suffered many losses at the hands of Yang Qing. That position is no longer suitable for him. Tell him to come to Suppressing Third Hall."
"Yes!" Fei Yun complied.
Xiong Xiao’s eyes constantly flickered. She had revealed too many hidden meanings within her words. Could it be that she was intentionally giving him a platform that would allow him to face off against Yang Qing?
Wu Menglan wasn’t interested in listening to Xiong Xiao’s nonsense any longer. She made him write an issue of surrender as proof and then signalled for him to stand down with her hand.
She then turned to write another jade archive before handing both the archive and the issue of surrender over to her handmaiden Fei Wu. "Give this to Advisor Liao. Let him go to the Suppressing Second Hall and take these to Huo Lingxiao, so that he knows that Xiong Xiao has already surrendered to me."
"Yes!" Fei Wu took the items and left.
Just then, a teasing smile curled on the corner of Wu Menglan's lips. She wondered what kind of expression Huo Lingxiao would make after seeing those items.
Xiong Xiao was overcome with joy as he crossed the palace gates to see both of his trembling personal handmaidens waiting for him. He almost let out a burst of laughter in front of them.
This outcome had completely taken him by surprise. He initially thought that surrendering would be a loss as he would never be charged with two mountains under Zhao Mu. Unbeknownst to him, good things came when he least expected it. With this turn of events, he actually became the Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor—suddenly becoming an individual of the same status as Yang Qing. Becoming a Manor Head had always been his dream. The surprise that came from surrendering himself was way out of his expectations. It was simply an extraordinarily fortuitous encounter. He never would have dreamed of such a thing. This was truly a situation where a change would make one’s life better!
Despite already knowing of her intent in appointing him as Manor Head of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor from Wu Menglan herself, he didn’t mind it at all. With the resources of the manor under his grasp and Suppressing Third Hall as his pillar of support, there was no longer a need to fear Yang Qing anymore!