Yao Ruoxian looked through the prices listed on the jade archive again and again. He couldn’t believe what Miao Yi had told him, that the price of a single pot of wine was worth 1,500,000 crystals. If that were true, the prices of these wines were quite startling indeed.
With all the wine he’d been drinking all these years, Yao Ruoxian almost broke out in a cold sweat from the thought of the total price. Realizing that he had been too wasteful, he felt an unbearably sharp pang in his heart.
He was partly distraught by the fact that he'd drunk so much money away. But what was most distressful wasn’t just that. He drank all that fine wine without a care in the world as if they were plain water. It would have been fine if he’d swallowed them all up into his stomach. Yet, he’d carelessly chugged them away, and let them drip down the sides of his mouth as he did so.
‘What a waste! How much money did I throw away just like that? I could have bought so many materials for refining transcendent artifacts with that money!’
His heart ached the more he thought about it. Yao Ruoxian placed a fist on his chest out of reflex, his face wincing in pain as he asked, "You’re just messing around with me, aren’t you, kid?"
Miao Yi’s eyes widened in disbelief as he replied, "Senior. You have the bill between me and the Chamber of Commerce in your hands. Do you think I could fake something like this? Take another look for yourself."
"Say no more." Yao Ruoxian placed the jade archive back onto Miao Yi’s palm. "I don’t want to see it anymore."
He turned to face the stone wall and took in deep breaths repeatedly. If he were to continue to look or hear another word about this matter, his heart would definitely ache terribly. His experiences were a little embarrassing to look back on. He’d gone through a miserable time in his life when he was extremely poor and lonely. After hundreds of years of living as a miser, he’d finally managed to pull through. He had never been so wasteful in his entire life. It was a new experience for him to be such a spendthrift. And his heart was bleeding terribly because of his failure. He wanted to hang himself now.
His heart was aching? As the owner of those pots of wine, Miao Yi was the one whose heart was truly in pain. If he didn’t make the other party aware of the severity of his mistake, then Miao Yi would be in even more pain. Because to do otherwise would be equivalent to dumping all that wine into the sea. And that would be even worse! Miao Yi continued to rub salt on Yao Ruoxian’s wounds as he said, "Senior, let me calculate how much the wines you drank were worth. I—"
"—You shut up!" Yao Ruoxian abruptly turned around and pointed at Miao Yi’s nose. He stomped his feet in anger and scolded, "Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why didn’t you tell me those wines were so expensive?"
"I assumed you could tell that on your own."
"As if! I’m not some drunkard."
"Fine, then! Let me put it differently. If I were to tell you from the start, do you think I'd still have been able to keep those pots of wine?"
"Uh…" Yao Ruoxian was slightly taken aback. He probably would have tried all sorts of ways to take as many of them as he could. However, he quickly came up with a response. This brat was questioning his integrity. Yao Ruoxian furiously bellowed, "Bullshit! Those wines weren’t yours to begin with. You only obtained them through slaughtering the original owners and taking it from them. Anyone who knows this should be eligible for a share of the wines. So what if I drank them for free? What can you do to me?"
"Senior. If you wish to put it that way, then I have nothing to say."
"Spare me your excuses. You’re not some altruistic person, you brat. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re plotting. You’re only telling me all this because you want to use those wines to cover the cost of me refining the transcendent artifacts for you. Keep dreaming, kid."
With his hands behind his back, Miao Yi secretly made a beckoning gesture with his finger.
Outside the cave, Qian’Er immediately came in to stand beside Miao Yi. She stared at Yao Ruoxian with keen expectation in her eyes and shouted, "Teacher!"
Yao Ruoxian’s expression twitched. He swept his arm and said, "The two of you are in cahoots with this act. I won’t fall for it."
Qian’Er pleaded, "Teacher, if anything were to happen to Master in the Sea of Constellations, Xue’Er and I wouldn’t be able to continue living either. Master’s enemies wouldn’t let us go so easily."
Yao Ruoxian instantly froze when he heard those words. He had been by himself for the majority of his life. He enjoyed Qian’Er and Xue’Er’s care and compassion very much, to the point where he felt the sensation of a family in them. He liked these two young ladies very much. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have offered to pass his cultivation art down to them in the first place. Not to mention, he wouldn’t try to pry good stuff from Miao Yi at every opportunity he could for their benefit either. After so many years, he’d formed a deep bond with the two young ladies. He practically saw them as his own daughters.
Evidently, this was one of the aspects about him that Miao Yi was trying to exploit.
Even though Yao Ruoxian didn’t belong in the system, he knew how harsh it could be. If anything were to happen to Miao Yi, then as his personal handmaidens, Qian’Er and Xue’Er would definitely be the next ones to bear the brunt of his downfall.
When he thought about all the pain and humiliation that the two young ladies might have to go through, Yao Ruoxian couldn’t help trembling. He grit his teeth and said, "Don’t worry. I’ll bring you both away. It may not necessarily be a bad thing for the two of you if this brat were to die. You don’t have to be a servant for the rest of your life just for his sake."
"Teacher. Master is my man as well. The same goes for Xue’Er. If anything were to happen to him, how could we just go into hiding without avenging him?"
"Little girl, are you trying to make me mad?" asked Yao Ruoxian as he pointed at Qian’Er’s nose. His voice was quivering with rage. He then turned to point at Miao Yi and chided him, "Brat, are you still a man or not? How dare you use women for your own ends. Despicable!"
Miao Yi smiled. He turned and pulled Qian’Er into his embrace. Then he gently kissed her jade-like forehead.
Qian’Er was evidently unaccustomed to having such intimate acts of affection be witnessed by other people. She was embarrassed, yet happy at the same time. Yao Ruoxian instantly rolled his eyes at the sight. ‘Daughters would never take your side once they grow up’—or so he was feeling at this moment.
Like a grasshopper skipping on water, Miao Yi gave Qian’Er a gentle peck. He then tapped her on the back and released her. "Go back for now."
Qian’Er still seemed like she had something to say as she looked at Yao Ruoxian. It seemed she was a little worried.
"I’ll talk things out with Senior Yao on my own!" Miao Yi nodded, gesturing for Qian’Er to obey his instructions.
Qian’Er nodded, then turned around and left.
Once Qian’Er was far enough, Miao Yi turned back and said, "I know that Senior has always treated them both with kindness."
"Don’t change the subject. Whether I treat them kindly or not is my business. It doesn’t have anything to do with you paying for my work or not. If you’re a man, don’t use them as your shield."
"They are my women now."
"So what? Rest assured, if you die, I will be sure to help them both find a dual-cultivation partner that’s much better than you. So you can rest in peace."
Miao Yi was unfazed as he waved his hand and said, "That’s not what I’m talking about. I am more concerned than you are with regards to their safety. The two of them are orphans. They were sent to the ‘Manor of Merciful Hope’ at a young age. Then they were chosen to be trained and finally sent to my side… What I’m saying is, they don’t have anyone they can rely on, so I want you to adopt them both as daughters."
"Uh…" Yao Ruoxian was immediately excited. However, he quickly flew into a furious rage and said mockingly, "You’re willing to do anything just to get me to refine some transcendent artifacts for you. You’re more worthless than scum. In the end, you’re still trying to take advantage of them. And to think how faithful they are to you."
"Even if Senior were to help me refine a transcendent artifact, I still can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to make it back alive." Miao Yi gazed resolutely at Yao Ruoxian and firmly said, "The reason why I want Senior to adopt them as your daughters is because I wish to let you know that if I’m unable to make it back alive, I hope that Senior will bring them away and keep them safe as an adoptive father. I have killed many people over the years, and I don’t even know how many enemies I’ve ended up making. They will have no chance of survival if they continue to stay here."
"...." Yao Ruoxian was surprised to see that Miao Yi was really trying to entrust him with the two girls. He understood now why the brat had asked Qian’Er to go back ahead without him… The rage on his face slowly dissipated and he coldly said, "You don’t need to tell me that. Naturally, I will take care of them."
"There’s also one more person," Miao Yi added, "Yan Xiu! If I am unable to return, should he desire to continue staying within the administration, then let him. If he wishes to follow Qian’Er and Xue’Er, then I will arrange for someone to help him erase his Immortal Record. I would like to trouble Senior to bring him along as well. It would be good to have him by your side; he could at least handle your menial tasks."
"I’m not listening to this nonsense." Yao Ruoxian looked very annoyed as he waved his hand and said, "This won’t work against me either. I will not refine a transcendent artifact for you for free."
With a flick of the wrist, he called one of the tiny mantids over. Right now, they had grown to become as large as crabs from their original finger-sized bodies. The glint on their claws was already starting to reveal a vicious sharpness. Perhaps it was because they’d ingested plenty of Gold Crystals that they had tints of gold around their carapace. A bright, golden hoop had formed around their rear ends as well.
"In order to feed these tiny fellows, I have already used up all the Yao Cores in my possession. Yet they’ve only grown to be this big. The material they excrete from ingesting crystal coins is perfect for refining transcendent artifacts. I will have much use for them. However, they are still too small, and the pace at which they ingest crystal coins and excrete the materials is still too slow. At this rate, I don’t know how many years I’ll have to wait. I am in need of an abundant supply of Yao Cores to bolster their growth rate. I want you to get as many Yao Cores as you can on your trip to the Sea of Constellations. That will be your payment to me for helping you refine your transcendent artifacts…"
When he heard these words, Miao Yi smiled. It meant that Yao Ruoxian was agreeing to help him refine the transcendent artifacts...
As soon as he descended the mountain and returned to his abode, Xue’Er delivered the jade archive sent from South Edict Manor over to him.
After reading through it, Miao Yi had Xue’Er bring Yan Xiu over to show him the jade archive.
Yan Xiu nodded after reading it and said, "The preparations for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade have begun."
For the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, each Manor had to send out two participants, meaning that each Hall would send out twenty, each Palace would send out two hundred, and each Earthly Branch would send out two thousand participants. The numbers from all the twelve Earthly Branches could come up to as many as twenty thousand participants. The various sects and schools were also required to send in participants. Add those together and the entire Celestial Nation would be sending out about thirty thousand participants.
The other five nations were going through a similar situation. When the time came, the designated battlefield within the Sea of Constellations would be a chaotic war between one hundred and fifty thousand Yao, Devil, Ghost, and Human cultivators, each displaying their individual prowess for survival. It was easy to imagine what sort of massacre that would be.
But enough about this for now. Just the fact that the Celestial Nation would have to send thirty thousand cultivators over to the Sea of Constellations meant that they required a large number of ships that were capable of sailing long distances. After all, the participants were all beneath the Red Lotus realm, and were unable to fly. So a great number of long-distance ships would have to be constructed.
Such a major construction was not something that could be easily completed within a single place in a few short years. In order to ensure that the work was completed on time, construction would definitely be divided among the various coastal territories.
Because there was a natural port situated within the domain of Mount Calming Sea, it was designated as one of the locations tasked with the construction of the ships. The port was given the task of constructing ten large, long-distance ships. The orders from above stated that Mount Calming Sea must finish construction six months prior to the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, as the journey across the ocean would take a few months as well.
If they failed to complete the task, they would surely be punished severely. When the time came, someone from the higher-ups would be sent over to check on their progress.
The blueprints for the large ships, as well as the funding required, would be quickly sent over. The orders from South Edict Manor stated that Mount Calming Sea was to immediately organize the necessary manpower and begin preparations. Failure would not be tolerated.
"Each ship would have to accommodate the forces of a single Palace, which is to say, lodgings for two hundred people as well as their dragon steeds would need to be prepared. The size of the ship will undoubtedly be massive. Additionally, it needs to be very resistant to the wind and waves. I don’t think we’ll be able to find enough skilled artisans to finish constructing ten large ships in time for the deadline. At least, not from East Arrival Cave alone." Miao Yi raised his head and looked at Yan Xiu, "What I’m saying is that we should gather one hundred skilled artisans from the various cities to assist East Arrival Cave. What do you think?"
Yan Xiu nodded, "It’s doable. It should be enough with one thousand skilled artisans at work. If the number of laborers is lacking, then it shouldn’t be a problem for East Arrival Cave to fill in the gaps."