"Hong Xiu? Hong Fu? Miao Yi was surprised.
Miao Yi could never forget such unique names that easily. Weren't those the names of Yan Beihong's handmaidens? He finally realized who that Big Brother really was.
The friendship between him and Yan Beihong began from the time the both of them were still nobodies. They were each other's savior, and could be considered good friends with one another. If anyone were to call himself Miao Yi's big brother in the world of cultivation, Yan Beihong would be most deserving of that recognition.
What made him curious was that they were quite a distance apart. Why would Yan Beihong send his two handmaidens here? Could it be that Yan Beihong was here as well?
When he thought of Yan Beihong, he couldn't help himself from thinking of the Glorious Cloud Sect. Not only was that the largest sect in the First Earthly Branch, it was also the top sect in the entire Celestial Nation. They were much greater than the forces of the Sword Deviate Sect—how could he have forgotten about the relationship between Yan Beihong and the Glorious Cloud Sect? If he could ask Yan Beihong to take advantage of his connections with his sect, wouldn't that mean he would have strong support within the Sea of Constellations? In high spirits, he loudly ordered, "Quickly let them in!"
Qian'Er received the order and left.
"I have visitors. Please allow me to head down and check on them." Miao Yi turned to Qin Weiwei and apologized.
Qin Weiwei was also curious about this. What kind of visitors were they to make Miao Yi look like he had been jolted by an adrenaline rush? She followed him down the building as well.
After waiting a moment in the courtyard, she could see Qian'Er bringing in two elegant ladies inside. They were wearing bright red dresses that stood out from the others, with alluring figures and an air of gracefulness between their brows. However, exhaustion was visible on their faces after rushing here from a long way off.
Miao Yi's eyes lit up. If he wasn't mistaken, these two were Yan Beihong's handmaidens.
When Hong Xiu and Hong Fu saw Miao Yi standing in the courtyard in a towering manner, their eyes lit up as well. After Qian'Er saw them in, she went to stand behind Miao Yi. The two ladies hurriedly stepped forth and knelt on one knee, then together gave their sincere greetings, "Hong Xiu and Hong Fu respectfully greet Lord Miao!"
"Stand up, stand up." Miao Yi didn't think that these two would give him such a grand greeting. He quickly went up and supported them by their arms. After taking a glance at their expressions, he said, "It must have been grueling to rush here on such a long journey. Is Big Brother Yan here?"
Both of them glanced at each other, then looked at the six women in the courtyard and shook their heads. It appeared they weren't comfortable disclosing the matter openly before the others.
Understanding their predicament, Miao Yi said, "Follow me." Turning around, he brought the girls to his silent quarters.
It seemed the relationship between Miao Yi and these visitors wasn't simple; they actually addressed Miao Yi as 'Lord Miao'. This was what Hong Mian and Lu Liu used to address Miao Yi as well. They all exchanged glances in the courtyard, before Qin Weiwei asked Qian'Er and Xue'Er, "Who is this 'Big Brother Yan' Miao Yi spoke of?"
The ladies shook their head, indicating that they had never heard of it before. Even if they did, they would not tell others openly without Miao Yi's permission to do so.
After taking Hong Xiu and Hong Fu to his own private cultivation room, Miao Yi turned to them and smiled, "There are no outsiders here. If there's anything you want to say, just say it."
After they both exchanged a glance, they cupped their fists again and said, "Hong Xiu and Hong Fu congratulate Lord Miao on his promotion."
Miao Yi was stunned. He had been Mountain Chieftain for a few years already. It was a bit late for them to congratulate him now. However, he quickly realized that when he last sought Yan Beihong, his status then time was still the Cave Master of East Arrival Cave. To be more precise, he had been the Steed Deputy of East Arrival Cave.
However, Miao Yi was quite curious; their territories were quite a distance apart—how did they know that he had become a Mountain Chieftain? A light appeared in his eyes and he tried probing, "Could it be that you girls went to East Arrival Cave first?"
Hong Xiu nodded and smiled, "Lord Miao is wise. We did head to East Arrival Cave first to pay our respects. We heard from the cultivators guarding the gates that Lord Miao had been promoted to Mountain Chieftain of Mount Calming Sea, so we quickly changed course and came here."
In their hearts, the ladies were amazed. Even though Miao Yi's rise wasn't as quick as Yan Beihong, they both knew that an ordinary person couldn't become a Mountain Chieftain just within a short couple of years. Their Master's Little Brother was indeed not simple!
"I apologize for leading you on such a chase."
"Thank you, Lord Miao, for your concern. Compared to the journey from the First Earthly Branch, this extra journey was nothing."
"Indeed." Miao Yi nodded. He decided to stop beating around the bush and directly asked them, "When I asked if Big Brother Yan was here, I saw that both of you hesitated to answer me. Did something happen?"
The ladies instantly turned glum at the question; and Hong Fu replied, "Our Master has encountered a problem. We fear this problem may put his life at risk this time."
Miao Yi was shocked, "How so?"
Hong Xiu swiftly took out a jade archive from her storage ring and presented it with both hands, "This is the letter that Master ordered us to deliver to Lord Miao."
Miao Yi quickly took the jade archive and examined the contents. It was indeed Yan Beihong's personal letter. But when Miao Yi read what he wrote, he couldn't help but let out a bitter laugh.
It turned out that Yan Beihong had also been selected for the candidate list to the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. However, his situation was a bit more extreme than Miao Yi's because the progress of his cultivation was too swift and violent. It was much faster than Miao Yi's current cultivation rate. In just a few years, his cultivation base had already reached Blue Lotus Second Grade. On top of that, Yan Beihong liked going on conquests. Before Hong Xiu and Hong Fu came, Yan Beihong had already conquered two mountain strongholds. He was a Mountain Chieftain of three mountains now.
Miao Yi couldn't help but sigh at those facts. No wonder when he first met Yan Beihong, he was already a Mountain Chieftain.
As they say, the outstanding ones were prone to be attacked by others. Those who were deemed too outstanding would be easily hated and envied by others. An abrupt rise to power would definitely offend a lot of people. Yan Beihong's extraordinary rate of progress in his cultivation had stirred up the Manor Head's fear. Even the Glorious Cloud Sect could detect that something wasn't right as the rate of progression for their cultivation technique had never been that fast. Moreover, Yan Beihong didn't have any extra resources for his cultivation. Because of that, they secretly tried to force Yan Beihong into divulging the source of his progress. Yan Beihong refused to comply and, with his status as an official, the Glorious Cloud Sect simply couldn't do anything about it.
As a result, one could well imagine what had befallen Yan Beihong. Since he had offended the Glorious Cloud Sect and given his Manor Head reason to fear him, when the candidate list was announced, Yan Beihong couldn't escape from it.
The reason why Hong Xiu and Hong Fu had come was simple.
The Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade was a place where the elites of Blue Lotus level in the world of cultivation would gather together. A hundred and fifty thousand cultivators would rush toward the Sea of Constellations. Adding the troops of the Lords in the Yao Nation, it was estimated that the number of troops would exceed one hundred and eighty thousand men. Before such a large-scale war, even Yan Beihong would lose confidence regardless of how sure of himself he had been.
Furthermore, Yan Beihong had offended every other force around his territory. Once he went to the Sea of Constellations, one could well imagine what would happen to Hong Xiu and Hong Fu next. No man was willing to see their own women end up in a miserable state. The reason he let Hong Xiu and Hong Fu come here was because there was no one close to him that he could trust them with. After considering a few options, only his Little Brother Miao Yi was worth his trust because he had seen how Miao Yi behaved with his own eyes, and felt a sense of relief putting them under his care. Otherwise, how would he have allowed Hong Xiu and Hong Fu to make such an arduous journey?
On the archive, Yan Beihong explained the entire story in detail. He solemnly entrusted both his women to Miao Yi and stated that if he were to come back alive, he would come here to personally pick them up. If he couldn't survive the ordeal, since he would be dead anyway, he casually mentioned that he'd let Miao Yi take his two women to bed, considering that they were not bad-looking at all. The only thing he asked of Miao Yi was to not treat them badly, before ending the letter with a word of gratitude for his kindness!
The immoral and promiscuous words on the archive had Miao Yi drenched in nervous sweat. 'Am I that type of person who will take your women and sleep with them?'
However, he could also somewhat understand Yan Beihong's concerns and helplessness. Who would be willing to take care of another person's women for the rest of their lives? If it was only for a short period of time, it would be fine. But in the long term, anyone would feel a little bit worried about that. The only solution was for them to stay together. Hong Xiu and Hong Fu's cultivation base weren't that high and they didn't have much they could offer Miao Yi; what else could they bring to the table to seal the deal? They had nothing but their bodies. For the sake of securing an escape route for Qian'Er and Xue'Er, even Miao Yi himself had to allow them to recognize Yao Ruoxian as their adoptive father.
After he finished reading the jade archive, Miao Yi sighed and inquired, "Do you two know what Big Brother Yan wrote in this jade archive?"
Their eyes were slightly red as they remained silent, their heads drooped. After a while, they glanced at each other before lifting up their heads and looked at Miao Yi with determined eyes, "If Master doesn't come back from the Sea of Constellation Subjugation Crusade, Hong Xiu and Hong Fu are willing to serve Lord Miao." Implying that they would wait until the result was confirmed before deciding whether or not they would devote their bodies to him.
As expected, they knew about it already. It seemed that Yan Beihong already explained to them before they came. Miao Yi could see a shred of discomfort from their determined eyes. From the looks of it, the ladies appeared ready to endure humiliation should Yan Beihong fail to return for them; and would wait for the day to come when they could exact their revenge for their master!
"You girls think too much. Big Brother Yan and I are good friends, so I won't touch his women. I, Miao Yi, am not such a shameless scoundrel." Miao Yi waved the jade archive in his hand and continued, "From your journey, the announcement for the participants in the candidate list must have been released earlier than here. I guess that Big Brother Yan is already on his way to board the ship. I wonder where he will head to board. If we aren't too far apart, then there is still time to meet him one more time."
As he would be going to the Sea of Constellations as well, in case he couldn't make it back, they would have to follow Qian'Er and the others and move away. It would not be safe for them to stay in Mount Calming Sea any longer. Thus, if Yan Beihong alone were to come back alive, it was very likely that he wouldn't be able to find the two of them. They would need a way to agree to a rendezvous should they want to meet each other then.
Hong Fu replied, "Three months ago when the candidate list for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade was announced, Master only knew that the First Earthly Branch's forces would assemble together before they depart, but he doesn't know where they will set sail from. He wanted us to escape beforehand, so we didn't have the time to hear more information about it."
Since they didn't know where the troops would set sail from, then there was no helping it. In any case, it was highly unlikely that they would board a ship from East Arrival Cave. Miao Yi already received news from his superiors for him to start making his own preparations. All the designated troops of the Fifth Earthly Branch would gather at East Arrival Cave to board the ships. One large ship could accomodate two hundred people, so ten large ships were just enough to hold the Fifth Earthly Branch's two thousand people inside.
"Hong Xiu. Hong Fu. I have some unfortunate news to tell you." Miao Yi forced a smile and continued, "It seems like Big Brother Yan and I are both in the same boat. That year, both of us braved countless life and death situations together in the Boundless Secular World. I didn't think that we would once again participate together in this Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade."
"AH!" Both of them were surprised. Together, they cried out, "Lord Miao is going to participate as well!"
Miao Yi nodded, "You don't have to worry about anything. You can stay here in peace. While you're here, just treat this place as your home and don't be shy. I have already made arrangements for the escape of my own handmaidens. Try to get closer to Qian'Er and Xue'Er later. I will make the proper arrangements for you two as well. If anything comes up, they will bring both of you away and leave for safety together. I will not betray Big Brother Yan's trust."
Both of them exchanged glances. It seemed like there was no need to worry about devoting their bodies in shame anymore. They bowed together in gratitude and said, "We will follow Lord Miao's arrangements."
Miao Yi nodded. He couldn't help but feel a sense of helplessness in his heart. Initially, he planned on asking Yan Beihong to get in touch with the Glorious Cloud Sect. In the end, Yan Beihong himself could hardly protect himself. Miao Yi ultimately had to throw that idea aside once and for all.