"There's no use complaining." Wu Menglan sighed, "Seeing as you've been calling me Sister all this time, I will add another bonus for you. If you can come back alive, you're free to come to my Suppressing Third Hall. I will allow you to be in charge of two manors. You won't be any worse than Yang Qing."
"...." Still gritting his teeth, Miao Yi was startled by her words. He asked suspiciously, "Are you serious?"
Wu Menglan nodded, "Rest assured. Your sister here has a better character than Huo Lingxiao. I don't go back on my promises. As long as you come back alive to me, I won't disappoint you."
Initially, she hadn't planned on letting Miao Yi manage two manors, but after receiving the new rules and the subsequent increase in reward, she had to make some changes of her own. The survivors could take on the post of Manor Head in any location within their own Earthly Branch. For example, Miao Yi would be able to pick any manor within the Fifth Earthly Branch. Naturally, he would pick a place with great prospects. Wu Menglan was afraid that the ten normal manors under her command would not be able to attract Miao Yi, so she quickly decided to entice him by offering two instead.
Even though the chances of Miao Yi returning alive were small, but if he could give an outstanding performance in the Sea of Constellations, then giving him a manor or two was not out of the question.
Miao Yi was curious as to why this woman was suddenly being so nice to him. He couldn't help asking, "Does Sister Meng think I can return alive from the Sea of Constellations?"
Wu Menglan replied indifferently, "Don't overthink about something so far ahead. It's decided where you'll be competing within the Sea of Constellations. This time it will be held within the domain of the Western Constellations Master—the Western Star Sea. I suggest you start your preparations soon. We have less than a month before we reach our destination. The better you prepare, the higher your chances of survival."
'The Western Star Sea…domain of the Western Constellations Master?' Miao Yi was stunned. The four Constellations Masters controlled the Sea of Constellations. Didn't he visit the Western Star Sea all those years ago?
He almost broke out in a cold sweat from the thought. 'Why there of all places? I stirred up a major commotion back there, and it's the place where I made my fortune. If any of the demonic spirits manage to recognize me, I'll have a big problem on my hands. It'll be hard to avoid a joint attack from all those demons then.'
"Sister Meng. Are the demonic spirits of the Western Star Sea participating as well?" Miao Yi asked.
"More or less. But before that, the Yao cultivators within the Western Star Sea will probably be evacuated from the area. They will only return once the Subjugation Crusade is over. Even if there are participants, they'll only be Second Grade Yao cultivators."
Wu Menglan obviously had no interest in chatting with him for too long. After all, they weren't on the same level and had no similar interests to talk about. After she gave him a few simple instructions, she abruptly raised her voice with her transcendence arts, "Pang Rang. Come over!"
Her loud voice echoed across the ocean, startling the people on each ship.
Shortly after, a silhouette shot over from across the sky. Pang Rang walked into the cabin, then cupped his fists and paid his respects to Wu Menglan.
With a flip of her hand, Wu Menglan took out a golden bangle and a jade archive, then handed them over to Miao Yi. Receiving both items, Miao Yi asked in confusion, "What are these things for?"
"Put this on your hand," said Wu Menglan, pointing to the golden bangle.
Miao Yi did as she told and put it on his wrist. Wu Menglan then instructed, "Fasten it."
Miao Yi fastened the latch on the golden bangle with a click. Then, Wu Menglan said, "Imbue the golden bangle with your transcendence seal."
Miao Yi was a little puzzled, but he still followed her order. Once he imbued the golden bangle with his transcendence seal, it glowed with a golden radiance. He couldn't help but ask curiously, "What is this?"
"This is to prevent you all from escaping once you reach the Sea of Constellations." Wu Menglan said indifferently, "The Six Sages have already placed a large barrier around the Western Star Sea. The barrier will detect any cultivator that enters the Western Star Sea without permission, and they will be killed. This is to ensure the fairness of the Subjugation Crusade and prevent the participants from cheating by inviting experts to help them. Similarly, with this on, should the participants wish to escape from the Western Star Sea, they will immediately be discovered once they cross the border. Someone will then chase them down to put an end to them."
Miao Yi was startled by her words, and he instinctively tried to take off the golden bangle. However, he discovered that he couldn't take it off at all.
"Don't waste your energy," Wu Menglan remarked, "Not even my cultivation can open it, much less yours. Not unless you chop off your own hand. The purpose of the Subjugation Crusade is to see who can obtain the most golden bangles from their opponents. This will be used to gauge their ranking."
At seeing Miao Yi so frustrated, Pang Rang finally revealed a mocking smile on his face.
Miao Yi was fuming with rage. He felt like livestock being led to the slaughterhouse. His face tensed as he asked, "We still haven't reached the Sea of Constellations. Why have me put this on now?"
"All of you will have to put it on. This is just to show you and Pang Rang how to use it. I want you to go to every ship right now and distribute them. Have everyone put them on immediately. Everything you need is inside here." Wu Menglan tossed the storage ring she received last night over to Miao Yi. She then turned to Pang Rang. "Advisor Pang, you will be in charge of supervising him. Make sure everyone puts it on. I will not tolerate failure."
"Understood!" Pang Rang cupped his fists and acknowledged the order. He then left, bringing Miao Yi with him.
Obviously, they had to start with this ship. Miao Yi called for someone to inform everyone on the ship to gather on the deck of the ship's bow.
Twenty people were standing on the bow at the front of the crowd. Given all his pent-up anger, Miao Yi naturally wanted to take care of Su Jinggong and his group first.
When he saw this group of people standing firmly in place, Pang Rang frowned. "What are these people doing?"
Miao Yi bluntly explained right in front of Su Jinggong and the rest, "They upset the Hall Master, and their punishment is to stand here."
Seeing how Miao Yi put it so bluntly, and with Wu Menglan on the ship no less, Pang Rang didn't doubt him at all. He just scoffed at Su Jinggong and his group. Since they had upset the Hall Master, he naturally had to show some support for her. In the end, he did manage to scare Su Jinggong and the rest. They didn't dare utter so much as a peep.
With Pang Rang behind him, it made things much easier. Su Jinggong and the rest all put on the golden bangle handed to them and fastened it onto their wrists obediently. Pang Rang stared at each golden bangle and only shifted his gaze after seeing them shine with a golden light.
When the rest of Traversing Moon Palace arrived, they received the same treatment as well. Each of them received a jade archive and a golden bangle for them to put on. Standing to the side, Pang Rang kept a vigilant eye the entire time to ensure nothing went wrong.
Once they were done with Traversing Moon Palace's ship, Miao Yi and Pang Rang went to the next ship and proceeded with their task....
After he distributed the golden bangles to all participating cultivators throughout the entire fleet, Miao Yi returned to his own room and examined the jade archive that Wu Menglan had given him. He discovered that it detailed the rules of this year's Subjugation Crusade. The major rules were exactly as Wu Menglan described, but she didn't mention a few of the minor ones, so he needed to read them in depth.
The jade archive described the scale and boundary of the Western Star Sea in order to prevent the participants from venturing out unknowingly and getting themselves killed.
On the map, there were over ten thousand islands, both big and small, within the waters of the Western Star Sea. They truly looked like the stars in the sky, which was probably where the name 'Sea of Constellations' had come from.
The map also showed where the cultivators of the six nations would disembark. They were assigned to various points across the Western Star Sea. There would be no interaction between the six nations during disembarkment, which also meant that there would be no danger when they reached the shore. Their fleet would be disembarking far away from the place that Miao Yi had visited the last time he'd been in the Sea of Constellations. He sighed in relief when he found out.
The map highlighted one point, in particular. It was the palace belonging to the Western Constellations Master. This was also the place where the cultivators would gather in the end. Once the 180,000 participating cultivators has been reduced to a mere one hundred, the golden bangle on everyone's wrists would constantly shine with a golden light, reminding everyone that the battle was over. The remaining one hundred participants could then stop fighting and head over to the Western Constellations Master's palace to receive their prize. After that, they would escort the participants back to where they came from. And thus, this year's Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade would then officially come to a close.
Given its long-standing infamy over the years, the cultivators on board became more and more restless as the fleet approached the Sea of Constellations. Many of them repeatedly read the rules of the Subjugation Crusade as though they could find one that would help them survive. It was hard for someone else to imagine the kind of immense pressure slowly building up inside them.
Miao Yi was equally nervous. Out of 180,000 warriors of all kinds, only a hundred would be able to survive. He didn't know how many Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators there would be. Even if one's cultivation were at Blue Lotus Ninth Grade, they wouldn't be fully confident that they could survive either.
Miao Yi was frequently going to and fro all ten ships and talking to the members of his alliance, telling them that they were the strongest force in the entire fleet. This was to help ease everyone's tension.
But alas, some things could not be avoided. What must come will eventually come to pass. The day that everyone was so nervous about had finally arrived. Many cultivators walked out of their rooms and gazed towards the blurry land on the distant horizon.
Even Wu Menglan, with her purple dress fluttering in the wind, was standing on the roof of her cabin and gazing far off into the distance. She looked down towards the nervous bunch and slowly shook her head. She didn't know how many of these people would be able to come back alive. Maybe not even a single one of them could. Because the Six Sages had sent their own members to participate as well, the chances of a complete obliteration of the cultivators on this ship were rather high.
As nervous as everyone else was, Miao Yi called out for ten people. They were all members of his coalition. They proceeded to the stables in the lowest level of the ship and hastily changed the steeds of Su Jinggong and his group, which had been suffering over the past three months. Miao Yi wanted to avoid Su Jinggong and the rest noticing anything amiss later on.
After they came out of the stables, Miao Yi dismissed the group and went up to the ship's bow. He said to Su Jinggong and his group, "Everyone. Your punishment has ended." He turned and pointed to the deck with his lips.
Su Jinggong and his group turned to see Wu Menglan standing on the rooftop.
They all breathed a sigh of relief. With their cultivation, it hadn't been difficult to stand there for a few months, but it was still a torturous experience. It was precisely because the ocean weather was too temperamental. At times the sun would be blazing hot, and other times there would be a heavy storm. There were even times when there would be drastic changes in the weather in a single day. It was not a comfortable feeling at all.
After exposing their faces, even the female disciples of the Jade Lady Sect were darkly tanned. It had been a difficult journey indeed.
Not a single one of them thanked Miao Yi. When they turned around to leave, they threw him a murderous gaze before quietly going their way.
The long stretch of land before them was getting closer and closer. The fleet's formation changed from a serpent to that of a straight line.
Wu Menglan's voice echoed above everyone's heads, "To all members of each ship, bring your steeds along and prepare to disembark! I don't wish to see a mess before we reach the shore. To all Stewards, maintain the order on your respective ships!"
Everyone proceeded to the stables and brought out their steeds. For those that could not fit on the ship's bow, they stood on the stern instead. All of them looked tense, and not a single person said anything.
Charcoal swaggered onto the balcony and stood there arrogantly. It looked like he was quite happy to be standing higher than the other dragon steeds.
Beside him, Miao Yi looked towards Su Jinggong and his group. They were all seated on their dragon steeds and making preparations. It seemed like they still hadn't realized anything yet.