When he arrived at the mountain cave that Yao Ruoxian had secluded himself in, he could sense a wave of heat pouring out from within.
Once again, Yao Ruoxian had carved deeper into the cave. The pathway inside stretched down several hundred meters deep until it reached an underground river. Beside the river was an artifact-refining cauldron burning intensely over flames. Yao Ruoxian was flipping over a pile of demonic beast skins for examination. Occasionally, he would throw a piece of skin directly into the cauldron, which would turn into ashes inside.
"You came? I was just looking for you." Yao Ruoxian cocked his head to look at Miao Yi. When he saw the abnormal expression on Miao Yi's face, he quickly became amused, "Your face has turned so sour. Did you eat dog shit?"
Miao Yi drifted to his side and sternly asked, "Where did Qian'Er's and Xue'Er's Second Grade transcendent artifacts come from?"
"Is your brain alright? Of course, I'm the one who refined those artifacts for them. Should I count on you to do it instead?"
"I'm asking you about the materials used to refine those transcendent artifacts. Where did they come from?"
"None of your fucking business," Yao Ruoxian responded with a sneer. All of a sudden, he froze, as if he had finally understood something. He stopped what he was doing and placed his hands behind his back, scrutinizing Miao Yi closely. He then asked, "What are you trying to say?"
"Did you use the materials I gave you to refine their Second Grade transcendent artifacts?"
"Is it a crime to use your materials to refine transcendent artifacts for your women?"
"It's not. Since they've chosen to follow me, they are my women. I will not treat them poorly. However, you should always handle matters in their order of importance. Shouldn't you have informed me of this decision first?" Miao Yi was trying to smother the anger inside him. He had already squandered his fortune away just to make protective transcendent artifacts.
"What's there to inform? Do I need you to tell me what to do when it comes to refining transcendent artifacts?"
Miao Yi reminded him with a furious roar, "Those are my materials! I will decide how they should be used!"
"Sure, sure, sure. Alright, you make the decisions." Yao Ruoxian pointed at his nose, and with a wave of his hand, he tossed out a bunch of items from the storage bracelet onto the ground. He scoffed, "Take back your stuff. Take them back and make your own decisions. Don't come back with those things and bother me ever again."
"..." Miao Yi was suddenly speechless. He examined the things on the ground for a moment, and realized that all one hundred and fifty Crystalline Obsidians were still there, including thirty-three pieces of Second Grade Yao Cores, and one hundred and fifty pieces of First Grade Yao Cores inside the case—nothing was missing.
"This…" The great Mountain Chieftain Miao was left dumbfounded.
Yao Ruoxian, who had been innocent all along, broke out in curses right away, "Do I still need your materials to make some gifts for my daughters? Bah! How could I even make two sets of transcendent artifacts with just one hundred and fifty Crystalline Obsidians?"
Miao Yi was sweating profusely. He had considered that problem before. Initially, he'd thought that Yao Ruoxian had some Crystalline Obsidians on him, and most of the materials used to refine the artifacts had belonged to Miao Yi. Miao Yi then replied meekly, "Didn't you say that the little mantids had exhausted your supply of Yao Cores?"
Yao Ruoxian looked stern and said, "I left the mountains for a while, and personally went to the Chamber of Commerce to sell off a Third Grade transcendent artifact. In exchange I got the materials I needed to refine artifacts for my daughters. And that's none of your fucking business. What makes you think you can run up here and scream at me?"
With a flick of his finger, he continued, "Take your stuff and scram!"
Miao Yi quickly smiled and walked to Yao Ruoxian's side. He held onto Yao Ruoxian's arm and chuckled, "Don't be angry, don't be angry. Cool your temper. We're a family, and families shouldn't be reserved with one another."
"Scram!" Yao Ruoxian smacked Miao Yi's hands away and said, "Who would be in a family with you? Leave now!"
"Two of my women have became your daughters. If we aren't a family, then what are we?" Miao Yi shamelessly gave him an apologetic smile.
There was no helping it. Yao Ruoxian was stronger than him, and Miao Yi was the one who had asked him for help. He was resilient because he had always been hard on himself. As a butcher of many years on the streets, he would have died long ago if he didn't know how to be flexible in the first place, much less raising two little ones with him.
Yao Ruoxian wanted to puke blood at Miao Yi's words. He had two daughters of exquisite beauty! Yet, both of them had slept on the same bed as this kid, which was simply intolerable. Why did this have to happen before they acknowledged him as their adoptive father? And now, he couldn't change anything about it even if he wanted to. But what's done is done, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Yao Ruoxian was so furious that he flew into a fit of rage, "They are they, and you are you. Don't give me that crap. Scram! If you don't, I'll kill you."
"I will leave, sure! Senior, you must also know this, only one out of nine people going to the Sea of Constellations will make it out alive. I will still need some transcendent artifacts to protect myself. If you don't want to refine them for me, then shouldn't you be returning those eighty-five little mantids to me?" Miao Yi sighed.
Yao Ruoxian gritted his teeth and said, "Son of a bitch, you wish! I have spent so many Yao Cores on them and watched them grow from day to night. When have you ever concerned yourself with them? Now you want to pick the fruits of my labor? No way!"
"Fine! You're heartless!" Miao Yi sighed and turned around to leave. As he walked away, he shook his head and said, "When I go back, I will tell Qian'Er and Xue'Er that their adoptive father is eager for me to die, and he is eager to make them widows. It is better to suffer from short-term pain than long-term torture. I don't want them to face any difficulties, so I will explain it clearly and let them choose another partner. But they'll probably cry from grief, so please help to console them the next time Senior sees them. Sigh!"
Yao Ruoxian tried to imagine his beautiful daughters, who were always cheerful when they met up with him, suddenly stricken with grief… his expression twitched. He went crazy once he realized that Miao Yi had really hit his soft spot. He had an urge to vomit blood as he furiously roared, "Stop right there!"
Miao Yi stopped in his tracks and turned around. With a 'resigned' expression on his face, he asked, "What other orders does Senior have for me?"
Yao Ruoxian almost covered his face with tears as he gazed up and hissed, "The two girls are a let down! A let down!!"
There was nothing more to say. On top of that, his eyes were filled with tears. He was the one hurting in the end. Yao Ruoxian forced himself to turn around and walk toward a pile of demonic beast skins.
"Remember! To refine talismans, you can't just use any skins. You need the pores on the skins to be able to absorb and release energy. Skins that are smooth and moist cannot be used." He picked up a large piece of octopus skin and tossed it into the cauldron, turning it into ashes.
"Skins that have long scales cannot be used either." He pulled out a piece of snake skin and proceeded to toss it into the cauldron.
"As long as the skins lack pores, we cannot use them." Yao Ruoxian continued to pull out pieces of demonic beast skins and tossed them into the cauldron.
After a series of tossing skins around, the pile was left to less than half of its original amount. Yao Ruoxian turned around and said, "If you want to refine a lot of talismans, this little amount won't be enough. Go back to the Chamber of Commerce and buy more."
Miao Yi inquired, "Can I use something else to substitute the skins?"
"You can use Crystalline Silver, Crystalline Obsidian, Crystalline Gold, and so forth as substitutions. But to be able to use those things to refine into talismans, you will need to go through an extremely complicated process to give them the same absorption and release properties of a natural piece of skin. Even if I spend three months to do it, I'll only be able to produce a single talisman from that. Three months worth of consuming Blaze Resins can sufficiently allow you to buy a bunch of skins. No one is dumb enough to do it this way just for the sake of producing some low grade talismans."
"Er…" Miao Yi nodded. "Then I will still think of a way to get more skins."
At present, he didn't have any Blaze Resins on him. The ones being used belonged to Yao Ruoxian. He didn't mind it, but the point was that he could only produce a single talisman within three months. How many years would it take for him to make a few pieces of talismans then?
Luckily, demonic beast skins weren't that expensive right now. First Grade demonic beast skins would cost nothing more than 100 Gold Crystals. Second Grade skins were estimated to be around 10,000 Gold Crystals. Moreover, he still had about 7 or 8 million Gold Crystals left, so buying these items wouldn't cost him too much.
After settling matters with Yao Ruoxian, he went back to his Mountain Chieftain manor. He summoned Qian'Er and Xue'Er and ordered them to go to the Chamber of Commerce in South Edict City to find Wen Fang and then buy the required demonic beast skins.
He did say that he would ask for Wen Fang's help in matters of business. This would be a kind gesture relating to their promise. Besides, this small transaction wasn't worth summoning Luo Ping to come here from the capital city.
The past few years had also turned Qian'Er and Xue'Er into millionaires. Other than the money Miao Yi rewarded to them each year, they also received gifts from other people as well. For example, when Miao Yi was promoted to Mountain Chieftain, the respective Cave Masters serving under him had paid a lot of respects to them.
Both of them had nothing to spend their money on, and they didn't need to worry about meals either. Moreover, they had the best of everything from the tributes they received from the governed lands. Even if they wanted to spend their money, they wouldn't know where they should spend it. For them, crystal coins and stones weren't any different. Their storage rings now contained more than a million pieces of Crystal Coins.
When they were told to go somewhere far to buy something on their own, and that they didn't have to spend a lot, they were a little ecstatic. Finally, they had found a place where they could spend their money. They waved away Miao Yi, refusing to accept his money. They said they had their own money to spend on things.
First of all, they were both trying to do their best for Miao Yi. Second, they felt a sense of accomplishment in spending their own cash. If they didn't use it, the money they earned every year would be meaningless if they just kept depositing it without ever withdrawing any… If their thoughts were made known to Miao Yi, who was currently feeling poor, they wouldn't know what he would do next. Only those who took charge would know the gravity of responsibility!
After Miao Yi had thought about it, he decided to take out all the First Grade transcendent artifacts that he had in his possession. In addition to a few scraps, including the spiritual herb that Tong Renmei had given to him, he gave them to the ladies and asked them to find Wen Fang to sell them off.
In fact, he wasn't in a rush to sell these items right now. However, since he intended to let the ladies see the world, he decided to let them sell some items for him so that they could understand the sales procedures in the Chamber of Commerce. It would benefit the ladies' assessment of the situation if they learned more about these things.
For their safety, Miao Yi returned to Mount Calming Sea and arranged for Tian Qingfeng to personally take charge of this matter by accompanying the ladies, together with three Deacons.
Both ladies led the four people behind them, and they mounted their dragon steeds as they rushed out of the mountain gates excitedly. Their scope of activity on a normal day was indeed too small.
On that night, nearing the end of the year where the weather was changing, snow fell from the sky. Qian'Er and Xue'Er who had been inside the manor were suddenly not by his side, something Miao Yi was not accustomed to. He didn't have the mood to cultivate, so he called Yan Xiu to accompany him for the night.
After having a few drinks, both of them walked to the courtyard together. With Miao Yi leading in front, they stepped onto the snowy platform of the star observatory, gazing at the indistinct falling snow in the night. They could hear the sounds of drifting snow slowly accumulating on the ground.
"It's snowing… It's easy to go astray amidst the snow. Will Qian'Er and Xue'Er be alright?" Miao Yi suddenly asked.
Yan Xiu chuckled beside him, "Master thinks too much. You have sent so many experts to protect them, and Tian Qingfeng is also with them. Unless there's a large amount of troops attacking South Edict Manor, they will certainly be fine. Besides, it's not like they haven't experienced a snowy night before. As cultivators, they aren't so frail that they can't defend themselves against a gust of wind."
Miao Yi nodded his head. He realized he was indeed thinking too much into it. He gazed into the distance, which was getting hazy. He still remembered how back in his younger days, he would hole up with his little sister and little brother inside a blanket as they shivered coldly under the snowy night. His eyes were slightly wet as he thought about it.
Little Sister was now Fairy Yue Yao in the Realm Beyond Heaven, and his little brother should be a person with an enigmatic cultivation. Both of them were blessed people, and they should be much stronger than him. He wouldn't need to find them anymore since he wouldn't be able to help them anyway. As the useless big brother, he might just be a burden to them instead…