"Miao Yi, you insolent whelp!"
Qing Ju suddenly snapped. Yang Qing raised his hand as if to tell her to stop talking.
"Miao Yi, you are indeed cocky to actually speak to me like this," Yang Qing said impassively. "You are not stupid. Don't you think that you're speaking inappropriately to me right now?"
Miao Yi replied, "In three months, your subordinate is going to depart for the Sea of Constellations. I don't know if I will ever come back here alive. If I don't say what needs to be said, I fear that I might not have the chance to do so again."
"Since you know that, then why the impudence? Perhaps you think that I will not touch you because you'll soon be in the Sea of Constellations? Or perhaps you think you are independent now, so you have the right to challenge me?" Yang Qing calmly continued, "Did you think that the troops of Mount Calming Sea will act as rashly as you? I only need to mention that your name is in the candidate list for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. Are you willing to believe that they'll immediately turn their spears back at you once I give the order?"
Miao Yi responded, "I have always admired Manor Head's tactics and wisdom. I am not thinking that far ahead. However, some words are still pent-up inside, and I can't spit them out fast enough!"
Yang Qing replied with an 'oh' and said, "I shall listen to your explanation then!"
"The reason why I can be audacious in front of Manor Head is because I have always been one to repay what I have owed and avenge against those who have hurt me. I have kept close to my heart the good deeds the Manor Head has shown me that year. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't have lied, and I wouldn't have offended Manor Head before going to the Sea of Constellations. I would have kept up my pretense of polite obedience. And because of this, I want Manor Head to understand that I want to see things through to the end properly. I don't want us to fall out and become enemies, and I don't want things to end abruptly. If I die in the Sea of Constellations, then everything will finish. If I can come back alive, then I hope Manor Head can promise me one thing."
"If I choose to find another place to live and serve a different master, I hope Manor Head will not stop me."
He knew quite clearly that even if he could come back alive from the Sea of Constellations, that Hall Master that was hopped up on the wrong medicine would try to bring him to his doom again. If he continued to stay in the Suppressing Second Hall, he would have a hard time sooner or later. However, it would be much worse if he were to bear the title of a defector like Xiong Xiao.
Yang Qing's eyes lit up, and he seemed to have more or less understood Miao Yi's meaning. "This time I am going to the Sea of Constellations. I admit it, and I will not give you any trouble. I only hope that if I manage to survive, and if I wish to leave South Edict Manor, you will allow me some liberties. For example, if I were to break out the news that you are the one who wants me to leave, and not that I wanted to defect."
Who could tell whether this guy would come back alive or not? Yet he was already planning what he'd do if he did come back! Yang Qing shook his head in his heart. After remaining silent for a while, he lifted up his head and said, "I promise you."
"Thank you, Manor Head, for fulfilling my request." Miao Yi cupped his fists together to give his thanks.
Yang Qing raised his hand slightly and said, "Don't thank me just yet. How do you plan on ending this matter? Shen Fenghua will definitely make slanderous remarks in front of the Hall Master once he goes back. If he says that there are problems with the quality of the ships constructed, Hall Master will be furious!"
Miao Yi laughed, "How can a mere Shen Fenghua be Manor Head's opponent? I remember when Manor Head attacked and conquered Ever Peace Manor. Back then you handled Deacon Wan Shunchang as if he were nothing. How can you be afraid of one Shen Fenghua?"
"No need to flatter me. I won't be able to smooth things over for this incident with Shen Fenghua. I will leave him be, but I will not take responsibility on your behalf in front of the Hall Master. You are going to the Sea of Constellations anyway, and so you will take the blame for this instead." Yang Qing calmly continued, "Write down your justification for the entire event and give it to me. I will send the archives together to Suppressing Second Hall later. You are a smart man; you don't need me to teach you how to write it."
He said that he wouldn't teach him, but he already had by saying that he 'would be going to the Sea of Constellations anyway'. As for the other matters, Yang Qing would naturally help him mediate the situation.
Since it had come down to this point, there was nothing that Miao Yi couldn't do. He quickly took out a piece of jade archive and wrote down his justifications on this matter.
Yang Qing received the jade archive from him and examined it. The content was nothing more than a thorough defamation of Shen Fenghua, followed by a statement on how poor he was. He also mentioned the number of troops he had to look after, and it was hard enough for him to balance his annual income and expenditure. Moreover, he said that he'd been left with no options when Shen Fenghua asked for one hundred Orbs of Will, which he was unable to fork out. Since he would be going to the Sea of Constellations soon, all his options led to death. He asked the Hall Master to handle this matter however he wanted. In the end, he mentioned that he'd been forced into this mess. He almost wrote that the Suppressing Second Hall had gravely insulted him with this incident.
Yang Qing accepted the jade archive and turned to Qing Ju, "Gather our troops. We are going back."
Standing at his side, Miao Yi asked, "Why don't you rest for the night and leave when the sun rises?"
"You have already said your piece. Don't you find this kind of pretense insufferable?" With these words, Yang Qing left him and strode out from the residence.
Qing Ju shot a disdainful look at Miao Yi, causing him to laugh without humor. It was as if Yang Qing had been driven away by his own subordinate.
By the time Yang Qing's troops had left Mount Calming Sea in a rumbling haste, Shen Fenghua and his men were already gone. He had left feeling quite furious since no one had bothered to see him off.
Under the moonlight, Miao Yi sent Yang Qing to the memorial archway of the mountain gates. After seeing Yang Qing and his troops leaving in the distance, he turned around and saw his subordinates looking at him anxiously.
Yan Xiu stepped forward and asked, "My Lord, will we be fine after doing this?"
Miao Yi faced everyone and burst into laughter. "What problem can there be? If I hadn't received someone's suggestion to do this, I wouldn't have dared to offend the Deacon of the Suppressing Second Hall."
He was still trying to blame Yang Qing! As expected, he was making a clean break from his relationship with Yang Qing...
Even though he did not name the person who'd made the suggestion, everyone immediately linked it to Yang Qing. In an instant, they all looked like they'd had a sudden revelation. No wonder Mountain Chieftain had dared to flip the table in front of Manor Head. So he was the one who gave Miao Yi the order to do so. Then there shouldn't be any problem. They finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Under the moonlight, Qing Ju was galloping away on her dragon steed as she looked back at the waning lights at Mount Calming Sea. She then asked Yang Qing, "Manor Head, Miao Yi was so cocky just now. Why did you let him go that easily?"
Her question made it sound like she was still angry over what just happened. In actuality, she was worried that Yang Qing would later go back and settle the score with Miao Yi. She feared that doing so would hurt Qin Weiwei's feelings.
Yang Qing replied, "Even though he was impudent, he was telling the truth. Besides… did you really think that he was acting so blunt out of recklessness? Even though he can be reckless and bold, he is still a brave and cautious person. You can see a part of that from how he assaulted Thriving Ten-Thousand Manor in order to pluck Xiong Xiao's head."
Qing Ju was shocked as she listened to his words, "You are saying that he made preparations for this?"
"Whether there are preparations or not, I don't know. However, he must have had something to back him up. Courage is built on confidence unless he is a mere fool who acts on impulse. I admit that this guy has a temperamental side, but does he seem like a guy who can only derive courage from being reckless?? His earlier anger wasn't spurred by impulse because he had already prepared his troops to be on standby outside. This was clearly a deliberate act. If he had no confidence, then being obedient would be the only thing he could do. How could he dare try to bargain with me!?"
"Manor Head, where does his confidence come from?"
"You have to ask him that yourself! It's not important where his confidence stems from. In less than three months, he will be going to the Sea of Constellations. I'm not at the point where I can't even put up with him for another two or three months. I have already lost Xiong Xiao, and it will be bad for my reputation if I lose another Mountain Chieftain! He's right. It's best if we see things through all the way to the end!"
Inside Suppressing Second Hall, Shen Fenghua had come back from the inspection and was now standing in front of Huo Lingxiao. He not only raised doubts about the quality of the ships constructed, but he also denounced Miao Yi for his arrogance in actually defying the envoy sent by the Suppressing Second Hall. Because of that, he pointed out that the mastermind behind this defiance was none other than Yang Qing himself.
Huo Lingxiao sat high above, listening with a blank expression. Tian Yu and Liu Xing stood on each side next to him. Both had a strange look on their faces as they watched Shen Fenghua continue his angry accusations. He had actually tried to extort the Hall Master's sworn brother.
After waiting for Shen Fenghua to finish, Huo Lingxiao picked up two pieces of jade archive from the tea table and tossed them to him, "Take a look for yourself."
These two jade archives were reports detailing Yang Qing's and Miao Yi's justification on this matter. Yang Qing had sent both of them together, which had reached the Hall Master first before Shen Fenghua arrived.
If Miao Yi weren't involved in this matter, he would have actually believed Shen Fenghua. It was impossible for those with high statuses to engage in all sorts of matters themselves. Therefore, they could only depend on the people beside them to report certain matters before they handed out their judgment.
Huo Lingxiao had no clue whether Miao Yi was capable of forking out that many Orbs of Will. However, he knew that Miao Yi would be going to the Sea of Constellations, and that was true. He had risen to power from a low status, and it was normal for those above him to assume authority and extort things from him. Huo Lingxiao could only turn a blind eye to this sort of thing. However, the main point was that Shen Fenghua had extorted from the wrong person this time. Miao Yi would be leaving soon, and Shen Fenghua still had the nerve to demand to be flattered, picking the pockets of a man who was going to die in the near future. In any case, it was inexcusable.
Once this person was forced into desperation, he could do anything. If he were to set the ships on fire, how would Huo Lingxiao be able to construct that many ships within these few months? He wouldn't be able to explain to Traversing Moon Palace should that actually happen.
Shen Fenghua examined the jade archive, and he suddenly broke into a cold sweat. 'That guy is actually going to the Sea of Constellations to die? No wonder he showed no fear of me. Still, you should have told me that earlier!'
Huo Lingxiao asked calmly, "Be honest. Is there actually a problem with the quality of the ships, or are you bearing a grudge because you failed to extort a bribe?"
Shen Fenghua stammered, sweat rolling down his back. There was no explanation needed for this kind of response. Most importantly, this time Huo Lingxiao didn't seem like he would turn a blind eye on this matter based on his tone. If Huo Lingxiao were to make an effort to investigate this matter, Shen Fenghua would not be able to conceal the truth anymore.
"The responsibility of the ship's construction is managed from top to bottom. It is an order decreed by the Realm Beyond Heaven. How dare you belittle such an important task because of one hundred low-grade Orbs of Will? You want Orbs of Will?" Huo Lingxiao sneered. He turned to Tian Yu and continued, "Deduct ten years worth of his Orbs of Will!"
This punishment was considered light. After all, Huo Lingxiao had to protect the pride of Suppressing Second Hall too. Severe punishments such as a demotion or removal of position were not considered.
Ultimately, Shen Fenghua stepped out of the palace hall in disgrace. He gnashed his teeth in hatred, full of resentment against Yang Qing...
There was one month left until the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. The candidate list that had caused many to palpitate with fear and anxiety was finally released. Yang Qing, who controlled two manors, had dispatched four people to participate. These four were Su Jinggong from the Sword Deviate Sect, Wan Yanhua from the Jade Lady Sect, Li Yaoqi from the School of Imperial Beasts, and Mountain Chieftain Miao Yi from Mount Calming Sea.
Yang Qing did not touch the other Mountain Chieftains of the two manors, only Miao Yi. The other respective Mountain Chieftains in the two manors were filled with immense jubilation and sadness. They felt the Manor Head had taken good care of his old subordinates, so it had been worth following him for so many years. However, some of them were curious as to why Miao Yi was on the list. Judging by the situation, it was clear to them that Miao Yi had already been chosen when he was still a Cave Master. Each of the Mountain Chieftains struggled to find the reason why he'd been selected. Yang Qing had no reason to set Miao Yi up like this!
Of course, they didn't know that the person Yang Qing wanted to set up was Xiong Xiao. Despite that, Huo Lingxiao managed to change that person to Miao Yi. Indeed, those at the top could determine the fate of a person with just a flick of their finger.
"Miss, Manor Head is still in closed-door cultivation!"
Inside the Manor Head's residence in South Edict Manor, Qing Mei and Qing Ju blocked the door, unwilling to grant passage to Qin Weiwei.
"Step aside!" Qin Weiwei had an indifferent expression when she quickly pushed them aside and forced herself into the residence.