Most importantly, the other party didn't hold the same advantages that he did, and he couldn't run around every single ship as he did. Zhao Fei couldn't possibly run to Traversing Moon Palace's ship and probe into his background.
It was of no importance whether he was telling the truth or not. His little white lie was all for the greater good. Right now, the most important thing would be to gather up those who held no advantage. As long as everyone could stick together and fight against the tides of fate, so what if his lie was exposed? Miao Yi believed everyone would only feel thankful for him then; no one would hold a grudge against him. Once the group took form, it wouldn't be so easy to split up the people who decided to join forces. Everyone knew it was much more dangerous to be on their own.
Zhao Fei was taken aback yet again. He never thought that the other person possessed a similar cultivation and position as himself, despite looking much younger. If he were to join forces with this guy... He couldn't help but ask, "Just now, Steward Miao mentioned that there were two Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators among the two hundred people who have already joined forces. May I know if you included yourself as well?"
It was very easy to discern the truth behind something like cultivation. He didn't believe in the slightest that Miao Yi could lie to him regarding his cultivation.
Miao Yi shook his head, "I didn't include myself. If you join us, we would have four Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators, including myself. There are also plenty of Eighth Grade and Seventh Grade cultivators among us. Can Manor Head Zhao not see the direness of the situation? Is there a need to even hesitate?"
Zhao Fei slowly sucked in a breath of cold air. There would be four Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators once he joined...
Miao Yi was smiling as he exited the room. Zhao Fei had personally sent him out. Both men cupped their fists and bid one another farewell.
As Zhao Fei stood by the door to see Miao Yi off, he watched him knocking on another person's door and enter inside. Afterward, his gaze shone with excitement and resolve. If they could form the coalition that Miao Yi spoke of, then it would be a highly substantial force.
"Mountain Chieftain Qiu. There is no need to doubt the strength of our coalition. Are you familiar with Manor Head Zhao Fei of White Cloud Manor? He is staying just a few rooms ahead of you."
"I know him!"
"Manor Head Zhao's Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivation is much higher than yours, and he is also a member of our coalition. If you don't believe me, you can go ask him later on..."
Not long afterward, Miao Yi wore a smile on his face yet again as he exited the room, then proceeded to the next room...
Discussing with and trying to recruit each person individually like this was a very tiresome matter, and truth be told, it was very straining on his nerves.
No one could say that lying was something difficult to do. However, it truly wasn't easy to generate something out of nothing. Alas, Miao Yi had to do it, and he had to do it all by himself, for no other reason than the fact that he would inevitably die if he were to fight on his own with no one to support him. Even if it was a dead end in front of him, he had to carve out a path of his own. He wanted to live for much longer than this. He firmly believed that his destiny was in his own hands, so he couldn't just sit around waiting for a miracle to fall on his lap. Only by daring to do the impossible would he be able to find a way out. As a man, how could he be afraid of a little pain!?
Fortunately, Miao Yi's coming was like the sweet advent of rain after a long drought to those restless participants who commanded no influence. No one wished to pass by such an opportunity, so it had been easy for Miao Yi to convince them. If he had to be completely honest, this was all within his expectations. Even an ant would try its best to survive. Who wouldn't want to live on?
Nevertheless, he still had to discuss the matter with each person individually. At most he would be able to convince twenty to thirty people in a single day.
After doing this consecutively for a few days, Miao Yi eventually came up to the room belonging to that 'Qi Xiuhong'. He had arrived at the door of that White Lotus Fifth Grade female cultivator.
As he stood in front of the door, he hesitated for a while. Was there a need for him to recruit a woman who was a mere White Lotus Fifth Grade cultivator? However, he still knocked on the door in the end.
As soon as the door opened, Miao Yi's eyes fell upon a dainty and pretty little girl. She wore a plain yellow dress, her gaze slightly guarded as she looked curiously at him.
When Qi Xiuhong heard the reason why Miao Yi had come, she was very surprised, and also a little happy with excitement. She felt like she had finally gotten a chance to survive this trial before her. She didn't know how she should thank him.
"Qi Xiuhong. To be honest with you, there are already four Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators within our coalition, myself included. Even the one with the lowest cultivation was at least at Blue Lotus First Grade. With your cultivation... truth be told, I was very hesitant when I stood outside your door just now." Miao Yi felt no shame in saying these words. After lying so much, it seemed like even he believed that he had a Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivation. His tone wasn't doubtful in the least.
Qi Xiuhong bit her lip, then nodded, "I understand! However, since Steward Miao came here, it must mean that you are willing to give me a chance. I won't be able to guarantee anything else, but as long as you are willing to offer me this chance, I shall swear on my life that I will follow behind you, no matter what, my lord!"
"This is not what I wanted to hear. I'm just curious why a White Lotus Fifth Grade female cultivator like yourself ended up going to the Sea of Constellations. I can see that you are not bad-looking either."
In the end, Qi Xiuhong gave a very inconceivable answer—she was sent here precisely because she looked pretty.
It was because her Manor Head coveted her for her beauty and wanted to become dual-cultivation partners with her. However, she rejected him. After trying to coax her time and again, her Manor Head grew furious with shame. However, considering they were both officials, it wouldn't be wise to rape her. He then tried to threaten her by saying he would draft her into the candidate list for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. However, she remained unrelenting. Ultimately, in a fit of rage, her Manor Head really did enlist her into the list of participants for the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade. The answer was as simple as that.
After she boarded the ship, she didn't want to accept her fate so easily, so she looked for the other sects on the ship and hoped she could join them. But alas, her cultivation was too low. No one was willing to take on someone as burdensome as her. There were a few who gave her a verbal agreement, but the conditions were terrible—they wanted her to go to their rooms at night. It was evident what they were trying to imply. In the end, she decided to reject her final ray of hope.
"So that was the case!" Miao Yi stood up and left. As he was walking off, he said, "Just follow me once we reach the Sea of Constellations!"
"Thank you, my lord!" Qi Xiuhong was very excited as she sent Miao Yi off...
After spending around twenty days recruiting others, Miao Yi had finally returned to the balcony of his room. He sighed in relief as he watched the group of twenty people still standing firmly on the ship's bow, not daring to leave at all.
Turbulent winds howled above the high seas as lightning streaked the sky, accompanied by the sound of thunder rolling across the dark clouds. One thunderbolt after another roared angrily atop the mighty ocean; a heavy storm was brewing!
Miao Yi shut his windows, then sat back down on the couch, crossed his legs and resumed his cultivation. Not long afterward, booming thunder could be heard outside as a terrible storm came ruthlessly crashing down...
One month later. Nightfall. A streak of purple light stretched across the night sky and descended outside the cabin on the deck of the commanding ship. The light revealed itself to be an old man. He asked, "Is Hall Master Wu present?"
The candles inside the cabin instantly lit up. The wooden doors opened, and Wu Menglan finally stepped outside. Upon seeing her guest, she cupped her fists, then stood aside as she invited him in, "So our visitor turned out to be Advisor Lu. Please come inside and have a seat."
The old man called Advisor Lu nodded gently and followed her in. After the two took their seats within the cabin, they remained deep in discussion for about an hour before Advisor Lu took out a storage ring and placed it on the tea table. He said, "They have released the plans of the Six Nations. When the time comes, just act according to the instructions stated inside this ring. Kindly accept it, Hall Master Wu."
Wu Menglan held the storage ring up and invoked her arts to examine its contents. She then nodded her head. With a flip of her hand, she took out a jade archive and wrote a document of approval. She imprinted her transcendence seal on the document and then handed it to the other party.
Upon receiving the jade archive and after checking to make sure there were no mistakes, Advisor Lu stood up and said, "I have delivered the items, so I shall be taking my leave now."
Standing up to see him off, Wu Menglan courteously invited him to stay longer. "It must have been an arduous journey for you, Advisor Lu. Why not stay and rest for tonight? I can have someone prepare a decent room for you."
"The Palace Lord has orders for me. I still need to rush to deliver the items to the other fleets. This is far enough, Hall Master Wu!" As soon as he stepped outside the cabin, Advisor Lu simply left a few words of parting before morphing into a purple light and shooting towards the darkness of the night sky.
After she saw the purple light off, Wu Menglan went back into her cabin and shut the doors. She donned the storage ring on her finger, then took out a jade archive and examined its contents, gently nodding her head as she sank into deep thought.
Daybreak, the next day. As usual, Miao Yi visited Wu Menglan and reported that everything was normal. After he concluded his report, he was about to take his leave. This was because Wu Menglan didn't want to be alone with a man like him for too long. At least that was how Miao Yi comforted himself after being chased away almost every single time. He couldn't always be thinking that she hated dealing with him and that was the reason she chased him out every time. That would dampen his mood.
Unexpectedly, Wu Menglan placed her legs down from the couch and said, "No need to leave in such a hurry."
"Uhh..." Miao Yi felt taken aback; he was just about to turn around and leave. The door opened slightly, and a fragrant scent assaulted his nose. Wu Menglan had stepped out of her bedroom and passed him by, taking her seat in the main hall. Following behind her, Miao Yi asked, "What does Sister Meng need of me?"
Wu Menglan pointed downwards and said, "Sit down and talk."
It was rare to see her act so courteously towards him. Miao Yi was a little lost, but he didn't refrain from holding himself back. He did as she said and took a seat.
"I'm about to let you in on some good news. Do you want to hear it?" Wu Menglan asked.
'What good news could there be for a participant of the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade?' Miao Yi probed, "They canceled the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade?"
Wu Menglan rolled her eyes and sneered, "In your dreams. How could something that has gone on for tens of thousands of years be canceled just like that?"
Miao Yi sighed, "Then what good news could there be?"
Wu Menglan answered, "The participants of this year's Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade are a little more fortunate than the previous ones. Aside from the reward of a hundred thousand Orbs of Will, the Six Nations added on another prize to the pot. The first hundred survivors will not only obtain a share of the six hundred thousand Orb of Wills given out as a reward, but they can also become the Manor Head of any single manor belonging to their respective Earthly Branch. Furthermore, the individual rankings will determine each person's privilege to choose!"
As esteemed as the Six Sages were, each of them only had to fork out a hundred thousand low-grade Orbs of Will, which they would divide amongst one hundred people. They were not ashamed in the least to think of taking out such a measly sum!
Or so Miao Yi thought to himself. Of course, he understood that this was just a mere formality. The real prize was from killing the opposition and taking away their belongings.
He said begrudgingly, "What sort of prize is this? If people were allowed to give up on the opportunity to take part in the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade, I reckon they wouldn't even think of trying to win this prize. Not to mention, many were already Manor Heads in the first place."
"You can forget about giving up your participation rights, unless you have someone from the Realm Beyond Heaven pulling strings on the outside for you. Otherwise, not even a Palace Lord can make any changes to the list of participants, which has already been reported and confirmed. It is unchangeable. Of course, it should be possible if an Overlord steps out to help you. However… I suggest you cease your wishful thinking. One more prize is better than no prize at all. The right to choose where to serve as Manor Head means that regardless of how strong or weak your cultivation is, you can be promoted to Manor Head as long as you make it back alive. Furthermore, you are allowed to choose where you wish to take up the post. There are many manors with crystal coin mines within their territories. It is a tremendous fortune for a person to have. Don't tell me you're not even the slightest bit tempted?"
Miao Yi didn't feel tempted. He shook his head, "I would still need to be alive to be able to enjoy such fortune. Without my life, all the prizes in the world are just dust in the wind."
Wu Menglan narrowed her eyes, "I feel like I've been spouting nonsense to you this whole time."
"Uhh... no, not at all." Miao Yi let out a dry laugh, "I am aware of Sister Meng's good intentions. May I ask why they decided to increase the prize for this particular session?"
"I don't know the full details myself. All I know is that the Six Sages have sent out their new disciples to participate as well. To make the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade more exciting, they decided to increase the bounty in order to motivate the participants."
"..." Miao Yi's expression twitched. 'There are members from the Six Sages' side participating as well? How would low-level grunts like us survive against that? Who could win against them?'
He gnashed his teeth in hatred and said, "Sister Meng, what kind of prize is this? This is clearly the final nail in the coffin!"