About ten or so Spirit Eagles went soaring through the air for the sake of assembling the troops of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor together.
Twenty or more steeds hastily galloped away into the forest, across the terrain, beyond the streams, and leaping through ravines. They moved with the relentless speed of a mighty wind, none of them having the courage to stop for a break.
Although they had already slaughtered Xiong Xiao, none of them could relax. The group’s overall mood was grim; they knew that killing Xiong Xiao was just the beginning, and they would definitely be pursued as a consequence. As long as they were still within the vicinity of the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor, anything could happen at any moment.
A large group of troops were chasing them down from behind. But because of their own delay in taking action, they had lost sight of Miao Yi and his men. However, the dragon steeds in Miao Yi’s group had left noticeable tracks, so the troops were able to speedily give chase by following the trail.
On top of that, when Miao Yi and the others arrived at Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor, the weather was dreadful and raining heavily. The sky was filled with pitch-black clouds, and the roaring sounds of thunder. Rain droplets, each the size of a large bean, poured down violently.
As the rain drizzled down his face, Miao Yi gradually eased his tense expression. He tilted his head up and gazed at the sky, watching the rain coming down in torrents.
He turned back and saw that Luo Shuangfei’s steed was the first to follow closely behind him. He took a headcount of his men again; they had started out with twenty-two, and it was the same number going back. None had been left behind, and only a few had suffered minor injuries.
Miao Yi couldn’t contain himself and let out a bellowing laugh at the sky. Just like that, he had slaughtered Xiong Xiao. He had finally relieved himself of all the pent-up frustration and anxiety he’d endured for so many years. At that moment, he allowed himself to burst into laughter. He even took out Xiong Xiao’s head and showed it to everyone behind him.
Tian Qingfeng and the others gazed at each other for a moment before they joined Miao Yi and roared with laughter. Together, they shared their raucous merriment under the heavy rain.
For a sect that felt demoralized by the officials, they were extremely delighted with their performance for this job. Twenty or so people had carried out a direct assault on a manor’s headquarters and killed their Manor Head. Looking back on their actions, they had been quite bold and heroic. The School of Blue Jade would never have dared to make such an audacious move, simply because they’d be too afraid.
However, they realized that if the Mountain Chieftains of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor hadn’t stood to the side, they might not even have survived the encounter, much less kill Xiong Xiao. For now, escaping with everyone still alive was the best outcome—they were truly lucky to be alive.
Miao Yi didn’t discard Xiong Xiao’s head and put it back into his storage ring instead. He needed to bring it back to Yang Qing to show that he had accomplished his task.
Even though Yang Qing hadn’t commanded him outright, the hints he had thrown at Miao Yi were quite obvious. ‘I have restored your status to Cave Master from Steed Deputy, and then immediately promoted you to Mountain Chieftain. I’ve even told you that those who have nothing, would fear no one; and that Xiong Xiao wouldn’t dare to do the things that you are willing to do.’ In other words, Yang Qing was trying to tell Miao Yi, ‘You must not take your role as Mountain Chieftain for granted. You should know how to repay me by now. The power of authority doesn’t come free of charge.’
Another interpretation of this would be: ‘If you, Miao Yi, want to hold onto your position as a Mountain Chieftain, you must accomplish something that can convince me of your worth.’ As for what that matter could be, Yang Qing had already made it plain what he’d meant.
Even though Yang Qing had said in effect, "Since you’ll be going to the Sea of Constellations anyway, if you do slip up, the most I could do was to simply punish you by sending you to the Sea of Constellations. As long as it isn’t too big of a ruckus, I will cover for you."
Miao Yi could only sneer in his heart, ‘It’s no small thing to go to the Suppressing Third Hall to exterminate a Hall Master. If this isn’t too big a deal, then what exactly is a big deal? If it’s so inconsequential, wouldn’t the odds of success be higher if you handled it yourself? And you say you’ll cover for me? Once the Suppressing Third Hall conducts an investigation, how can you, a Manor Head, cover for me?’
But Miao Yi still risked his life to come here. And he didn’t journey all this way to only fulfill Yang Qing’s orders; he did it to eliminate Xiong Xiao as soon as possible. Otherwise, his future would be riddled with dangers, with Xiong Xiao targeting Miao Yi at the earliest opportunity. So long as Xiong Xiao was alive, Miao Yi would always find himself at risk of being killed. He’d never be able to sleep or eat in peace because of it.
However, he didn't believe in Yang Qing’s bullshit words, and he didn't have high hopes that Yang Qing would do his best to cover for him in the eventual uproar. If what Yang Qing promised was true, then his name shouldn't even appear on the candidate list for the ‘Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade’. Yang Qing could have fought with the Hall Master regarding the list, but in the end, Yang Qing would rather not disobey his superior.
If that was the case, then why should Miao Yi entrust his safety to Yang Qing in the first place?
He could only depend on himself. He would always avoid trouble whenever he could. Because of that reason, he decided to use the ‘list of remunerations’ as his cover and risked his life to deliver himself to Xiong Xiao’s front door. He did this just so he could lure Xiong Xiao into making the first move.
This plan was extremely risky. If the reinforcements hadn’t arrived on time, he would have died at the hands of Xiong Xiao.
‘This matter concerns the two manors, yet they risked my life just because they want to be in the right. I only came to demand my compensation and had no intentions of starting a fight. Xiong Xiao, you didn’t want to pay up, so I took my men and left. I was obedient up to that point. Surprisingly, you still wanted to kill me and cause harm. It’s only natural that I, Miao Yi, would exclaim that "you looked down on the Suppressing Second Hall" and acted in defense of my life.’
Now that he had killed Xiong Xiao, even if everyone could see that it had been a trap, who would dare say that Miao Yi hadn’t acted reasonably for doing so? ‘I didn’t even provoke you, Xiong Xiao, yet you attacked first!’ With this solid justification, if the Hall Master of Suppressing Second Hall still refused to protect him, then this Hall Master would be nothing but trash.
If not for this ‘reason’, it would’ve been faster to eliminate Xiong Xiao by launching a sneak attack with a group of people. There was no need to risk his lowly life in order to do so.
No matter how they did it, they had still succeeded.
However, just as Miao Yi said to Luo Shuangfei, this would be the last time he’d agree to do Yang Qing’s dirty work!
Miao Yi did not resent nor harbor hatred towards Yang Qing for exploiting him. The rules of the game that the Six Sages had created were indeed cruel in nature. In fact, Yang Qing had treated Miao Yi well, and there was no reason for Miao Yi to bear a grudge against him. However, he had already risked his life multiple times to save Qin Weiwei back then, and during the recent slaughter of Xiong Xiao. In that sense, he had already repaid the kindness he owed to Yang Qing. From now on, any achievement he received would be from his own hard work. He did not owe Yang Qing anymore!
Breaking off this train of thought, Miao Yi fished out the storage rings he had stolen from Xiong Xiao. A sly smile could be seen emerging from his lips.
Xiong Xiao was a Mountain Chieftain who had been tasked with the responsibility of two mountains for dozens of years. In just one year, he had collected two hundred or more Orbs of Will from just the tributes received from the two mountains. Miao Yi believed that Xiong Xiao had been using these orbs to maintain and support his own troops. Furthermore, Xiong Xiao was able to yield an additional two hundred Orbs of Will from the other two vassal cities within that same year as well. Based on Xiong Xiao’s cultivation base, he couldn’t have refined all those orbs in just the span of one year.
After Miao Yi checked the rings, he discovered that Xiong Xiao actually had one thousand two hundred low-grade Orbs of Will, which he assumed Xiong Xiao had saved up when he’d been tasked with the matters of the two mountains. A Cave Master couldn’t possibly save up that many Orbs of Will—he needed all of that and more for refinement.
Xiong Xiao had accumulated about a total sum of more than a million Gold Crystals. There were three First Grade Yao Cores amongst them too, and Miao Yi had no idea how Xiong Xiao could have obtained them. Aside from having a tidy sum of savings, it would seem that Xiong Xiao had been preoccupied with the refinement of transcendent artifacts as well.
Disregarding the useless items inside the storage rings, all the fortune that Xiong Xiao had accumulated for the past year now belonged to Miao Yi.
Once the rain had stopped, the sky began to clear, turning the road into a muddy path. That was the beginning of their troubles—the troops pursuing them had begun to appear in quick succession.
Miao Yi retreated to the middle of the formation to seek the protection of his troops. It seemed like he didn’t even need to make a move. With Tian Qingfeng in the lead, the others followed and rushed forward to break off from the siege.
If the troops of the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor had been one big force, Miao Yi would have been more concerned about their situation. However, they were facing a small group of people, and it was clear that they were no match for their team of twenty or so Blue Lotus Cultivators. He was more worried that they had already alerted the experts in the Suppressing Third Hall. There was no way that the Suppressing Third Hall would remain idle when a situation like this had broken out.
Because of that, they had been running away relentlessly without a thought of stopping to rest. Time was of the essence, and he must make sure that they were able to escape from the territory of the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor before the experts from the Suppressing Third Hall could show up…
And just as he’d expected...
Suppressing Third Hall’s Wu Menglan was in the middle of her cultivation when she was disturbed by her handmaiden, Fei Yun, who held an emergency report from the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor in her hands.
Wu Menglan’s face twisted with rage after reading the urgent report. She then barked, "I took Xiong Xiao as a competent man and gave him ample support in hopes that he could take on Yang Qing face to face, thus restoring my reputation. Who knew he’d prove to be just an idiot who could be duped with such a mundane trick? Silenced by a mere Cave Master—how can I accept this? I can’t let Huo Lingxiao have the last laugh!"
She then flew down the couch, fixating her gaze on Fei Yun, and screamed, "What are the people in Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor doing? How can so many people let their opponents slip away, free of harm, right within their own territory? Have I raised a bunch of useless morons?"
Startled, Fei Yun had taken a step back from Wu Menglan’s outburst. She didn’t know how she should respond. She had no way of knowing the exact details, so how could she possibly know the reason why a large number of people hadn’t been able to block Miao Yi and his men from escaping?
"Miao Yi, you shit! You have treated Sister Meng with nothing but rudeness!" Wu Menglan stared at the jade archive in her hand, laughing after her anger had reached its breaking point.
Fei Yun raised her head in confusion, unsure what the Hall Master was talking about, ‘What Sister Meng?’
"Miao Yi, you scum! You are shrewd, very shrewd indeed. Your ‘list of remunerations’ is truly astounding. You were actually able to use it to this extent, and remarkably well at that. Never in my dreams did I expect you to use such a method. I have really seen it all! Little Brother, you carried out your plan without a flaw. You have slaughtered my men, and you didn’t even give me a reason for doing it. It seems like I have greatly underestimated you. I have decided to acknowledge you, Little Brother!" Wu Menglan smiled despite her anger, and continued, "Do you think I won’t retaliate just because you had a reason for your actions? How dare you barge into my territory and humiliate me? Did you think you could insult me so easily?!"
She looked at her handmaiden, Fei Yun, and snapped abruptly, "Inform Advisor Pang Rang immediately. Tell him to pursue and kill them!"
When Yang Qing had caused a huge commotion at the Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor last time, she did not let anger get the best of her. She had even ordered her subordinates to investigate the matter thoroughly before making a final judgment. However, there was no need to conduct an investigation this time. She was well aware of the enmity between Xiong Xiao and Miao Yi, and she personally knew Miao Yi as well. Moreover, she had learned about the ‘list of remunerations’ long before this. Without conducting an investigation, she already knew that the events at Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor were true.
"Yes!" Fei Yun left, swiftly complying with the order.
After a while, a streak of red light launched itself from a manor situated on a mountain peak in the Suppressing Third Hall, swiftly piercing through the night sky. This light quickly made its way towards Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor.
But when Pang Rang managed to catch up to the scene, he was a bit too late…
After achieving their goal, Miao Yi and the other cultivators had immediately fled the scene. They didn’t plan on lingering, so they quickly escaped at the fastest possible speed.
The news of the ensuing uproar was then transmitted through a Spirit Eagle to the Suppressing Third Hall. And by the time Advisor Pang Rang managed to rush his way back to the Thriving Ten-Thousand Hall, the entire place was in shambles. A group of handmaidens was cleaning up the mess, and none of the men could be seen. After questioning one of the handmaidens, he found out that all the troops of Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor had gone off to pursue Miao Yi.
Pang Rang was a cultivator and not—as most ordinary folks seemed to think—some celestial being. With no directions to guide him, he couldn’t possibly know where in the hell Miao Yi and his troops could have fled to.
It had been raining heavily yesterday, so the tracks of those chasing after Miao Yi had been washed away. Pang Rang was left with no clue to follow. However, he knew that Miao Yi and his men would definitely flee to South Edict Manor. In the end, he could only resort to the dullest method to seek out his targets.
Assuming that he was on the right path, he managed to track down a few scattered troops from his viewpoint above the sky. After landing down and questioning these troops, he was able to confirm where his targets had fled to. He soared through the air in an instant, moving at full speed in hot pursuit...