As soon as the words left Wang Yuetian's mouth, Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei both nodded in agreement and looked towards Miao Yi. They all hoped he would change his mind.
Miao Yi could hear a series of mumbling behind him as well. As he turned around, he saw everyone nodding their heads. Clearly, they also shared Wang Yuetian's opinion.
These people still had an aversion towards the large sects in their minds. After battling the three major sects, everyone saw how much force they wielded. They didn't need to rely on the other sects to advance. The Red Scarves Alliance had already become their sole means of support within the Sea of Constellations. At the very least, they wouldn't betray one another, because everyone had no other alternative for survival. However, if they allowed the people from those sects and schools to join in… It was a cause for worry.
Miao Yi was pleased that everyone had this mentality of protecting the interests of the Red Scarves Alliance, but he felt that their disinclinations still restrained them. How long could they survive in the Sea of Constellations with just their numbers? Obviously, the greater the force, the better. He was not afraid of having too many members—he was afraid they wouldn't have enough. He was confident in himself, so he wasn't afraid he wouldn't be able to handle it.
"Are you scared of them?" Miao Yi asked in a somber tone.
Wang Yuetian bounced his question back, "Alliance Master. Didn't you choose from the start not to ally with those belonging to the sects precisely because you had the same concerns as we do?"
"That was then, and this is now. If we hadn't displayed our strength, do you think they would even care who we are? Now, things are different. They are the ones who wish to submit to us!" Miao Yi raised his hand and pointed downwards. He asked, "Who can tell me how many sects these people belong to?"
Zhao Fei answered, "At least a few dozen."
"Indeed. A few dozen sects. If they could form an alliance of their own, why would they need to rely on us? It shows that there is no trust between them. We are a force of four hundred. Let me ask you: what other sect would be able to match our strength on their own?" Miao Yi pointed downwards and asked, "Why is everyone so lacking in confidence? With just our numbers, how difficult would it be to survive in the Sea of Constellations for the next nine years? I'm not afraid that we have too many people, I'm afraid we won't have enough. We will let them join us, and whoever dares to betray our interests shall simply face execution. We don't need to fear them!"
The crowd remained silent. 'Is it that easy to kill?'
Miao Yi asserted, "I know what I'm doing. I won't let the situation that everyone's worried about arise. Sikong Wuwei, bring their respective representatives over to talk to me. Tell them this—all who are sincere about joining can come up!"
He also had to make preparations of his own. After all, there were numerous experts out of the one thousand people down there. He gave orders to have them leave their steeds behind. Then once they were up here, even if they had any ulterior motives, they wouldn't be able to cause too much trouble. At least they wouldn't be able to chase after him and his troops.
Sikong Wuwei cast a glance at everyone else, and seeing as no one was against it, he cupped his fists and acknowledged his order. He turned around and left on his dragon steed while carrying his long axe. After a short while, he brought around forty people over to their side.
The group walked up, and as soon as they saw Miao Yi, they cupped their fists and paid their respects. Among them, Yan Baichuan of the Sect of the Three Founders saw Zhao Fei and even cupped his fists with a smile. "Little Brother Zhao."
Zhao Fei forced a smile and returned the greeting, evidently feeling a little awkward.
Dressed in armor with a spear in hand, Miao Yi swept his gaze over the group as he sat on his dragon steed, and noticed there were only around forty representatives present. This didn't align with the names list in his hands. He speculated that a number of them didn't share the same opinion and went on a different path, which explained their absence. This made sense seeing as there were barely a thousand of them down there. Otherwise, there should be at least two hundred more people.
Miao Yi cut straight to the chase and asked, "Why do you wish to join our Red Scarves Alliance? If you can't give me a satisfactory answer, don't expect to return alive!"
With a simple wave of his spear, the four hundred people behind him instantly moved and surrounded the representatives as though they might charge at them at the drop of a hat. It was a blatant threat.
All these people without their steeds were instantly flustered. The people looking up from the foot of the mountain were equally startled as well.
Yan Baichuan forced a smile and said, "We came solely because of one line from the Alliance Master."
Miao Yi laughed. "Oh? May I know which line of mine had such influence for all of you to wish to submit yourselves to us?"
Yan Baichuan replied, "'Red Scarves Alliance! Ten years in the Sea of Constellations, we shall only share life and death for nine! In the final year, it's back to being enemies for us!'— Those of us from the Sect of the Three Founders have come willingly to submit to you precisely because of these words of yours, Alliance Master." He turned around and added, "I believe everyone else is here for the same reason as well."
All the representatives nodded their heads as if they had rehearsed the entire thing. "That's right. We are willing to work alongside the Red Scarves Alliance in order to survive the Sea of Constellations."
"Work alongside the Red Scarves Alliance?" Miao Yi's gaze turned cold as he said, "I believe there is something wrong with what you've all said. You are not working alongside my Red Scarves Alliance; you will be joining it and become a member. There are some things I must let you all know firsthand. Once you join my Red Scarves Alliance, you will be a full-fledged member. As long as the Red Scarves Alliance exists in the Sea of Constellations, I suggest that every one of you forget about your identities as a sect member for the time being. Forget about working for the benefit of your individual sects, and focus on the overall benefit of the Red Scarves Alliance. I will not allow any sect member to form their own circles. Once you join, I will consider your groups immediately disbanded."
The representatives were taken aback once more. They all looked at one another, and once they seemed to have reached an agreement, they cupped their fists and replied, "We are willing to comply with the Alliance Master's orders."
"Don't be so hasty to agree!" Miao Yi waved his hand and smiled, "Let me make one other thing clear. I know that there are still many of your fellow disciples who are not part of the administration participating in this crusade and that they're waiting to meet up with all of you. However, once you join the Red Scarves Alliance, you will not be allowed to act on your own. We will not change our course for the interest of your sects. That is why I suggest for everyone to put the matter of meeting up with your fellow disciples aside for now. If you are able to agree to these terms, the Red Scarves Alliance will welcome you with open arms. If not, you are free to leave!"
Everyone's faces darkened. 'Is he trying to strip away the autonomy of the various sects completely? They're just a bunch of bastards with no background to speak of, yet they're audacious enough to think of holding full authority over the sects and have them work under their thumb!'
However, these people had lost their steeds. Against the four hundred people surrounding them from all sides with watchful gazes, they didn't dare to speak against this affront.
A Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivator called Lu Siping cupped his fists and said, "May I ask the Alliance Master what we should do if we bump into our fellow disciples? Are we not allowed to meet them as well? If this is the case, then I'm afraid I must decline. Even if I manage to survive the Sea of Constellations in the end, I fear I will not be able to answer to my school."
Miao Yi smiled, "I am not such a stubborn man. If we bump into the other members of your sect, and if we can recruit them into our Red Scarves Alliance and gain an extra helping hand, we will naturally welcome them. If not, we won't hold you down either. We will, of course, let you leave together with your fellow disciples."
This was more acceptable. Many nodded in agreement as their expressions relaxed slightly.
"Everyone. These are my terms. If you are willing to adhere to them, you are free to stay. If not, please leave!" Miao Yi told them all as he swept his gaze across. Then, he raised his hand and had his troops open a path down the mountain for them.
One of them cupped his fists decisively, "Farewell!". They then immediately turned around and left.
To some of the more prideful representatives, they had already given face to the Red Scarves Alliance by offering to join them. And yet it came with so many restrictions. Who did they think they were?
Around ten people left because of this. Yan Baichuan was evidently not very pleased with the verdict either and was also among those that departed. Now, around thirty representatives remained.
Miao Yi looked at the people descending the mountain and scoffed. Then, he turned to face the remaining thirty and began asking about them.
After his questioning, he discovered that within the names list of all the cultivators aboard the ship, six out of the sixteen Blue Lotus Ninth Grade experts now stood before him, not including Zhao Fei and the other two. They were Lu Siping, Yu Baixing, Fei De-an, Jia Zifeng, Dong Quan and Hu Zhiyuan.
That left seven other Blue Lotus Ninth Grade experts. It seemed as though four of them had already taken their troops and headed elsewhere from the beach. Lu Siping and the rest could vouch for this as well—they had confirmed this when they met the others during the hike up the mountain. It did seem as though there were three Blue Lotus Ninth Grade experts among the people that descended the mountain earlier.
This was in accordance with the names list in Miao Yi's hands.
The remaining thirty people each gave a list of their respective forces. There were around six hundred, almost seven hundred of them in total.
Miao Yi smiled as he asked, "I believe that my conditions must seem quite harsh to everyone. Why do you still wish to join the Red Scarves Alliance?"
The others exchanged glances. Lu Siping smiled. "We are in unknown territory, and our future is an equally difficult subject of question. We will only be able to survive longer by working together. And only by surviving longer will we have a hope of leaving the Sea of Constellations alive. Otherwise, everything is but a pipe dream." He was implying that they sought the unity attained by the Red Scarves Alliance.
Jia Zifeng smiled and added, "Strict as they were, the Alliance Master's conditions were all for the sake of the Red Scarves Alliance…"
Beside him, Hu Zhiyuan continued, "Since the Alliance Master cares so much for the Red Scarves Alliance, once we join in, the Alliance Master's concerns for the Red Scarves Alliance will apply to us as well. So why shouldn't we combine our forces?"
The thirty representatives looked at one another and smiled. It seemed they all shared the same thoughts.
Miao Yi immediately burst into laughter. He pointed at the crowd as he shook his head and said, "My conditions were harsh because I didn't want a rotten apple spoiling the whole barrel. I needed to force those with ulterior motives to back away of their own volition. As the saying goes, it is better to be without than to have something of inferior quality. Indeed, we are in unknown territory. And it is no lie that our days and nights are a subject of question. If we don't work together, then as a disorderly group, how can we hope to survive? Now, it seems like I was overthinking things. I can see that all of you understand this point very well."
"Alliance Master thinks too highly of us." Lu Siping and the rest smiled and cupped their fists. Regardless if they were being truthful or not, at the very least they acted as if they sincerely wished to serve right now.
Zhao Fei and the other two exchanged glances; they realized they had been overthinking things. Even though the Alliance Master seemed young, he was an intelligent man who clearly knew where his boundaries were. They looked at Miao Yi with admiration. With the uncertainty of the road ahead, everyone did need to rely on such a strong leader.
Miao Yi wiped the smile off his face and asked, "Does everyone know what I'm planning to do after this?"
Lu Siping cupped his fists. "This matter concerns our futures as well. Naturally, we wish to know."
Miao Yi scanned his surroundings before his gaze fell upon them once again. He said in a somber tone, "This is the place where we disembarked from, as shown on the map of the Western Star Sea we received. We can also see the areas where the other Earthly Branches have touched ground on. If we wish to, we can head straight for them. At the same time, they could attempt to come to us as well. Even if one does not wish to harm a tiger, it will still bare its fangs. We need to prepare ourselves. That's why we shouldn't stay here for too long."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Miao Yi continued, "I wish to bring everyone away from this place. We shall take advantage of the fact that the forces from the other Earthly Branches have also just disembarked, as well as the distance between us, and then find a secluded spot to hide for a few years. It's best if we can hide for the next ten years until the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade is over. I think everyone doesn't wish to risk their lives for the hollow title of the top one hundred survivors either. It's perfectly fine to return empty-handed. But if we can't hide for that long, that's fine as well. Once the various forces have had their strengths reduced from all the fighting, our Red Scarves Alliance will once again display the might that we have stored away for so long. I simply doubt that anyone would be able to withstand the charge of a thousand-strong army. What do you all think?"
"Alliance Master is wise. This is a brilliant plan!" Lu Siping and the rest complimented. Even Zhao Fei and the rest nodded in agreement as their eyes brightened.
"However…" Miao Yi said with some reluctance, "If we wish to hide away from the public eye for a few years, we need to make ample preparations. Naturally, the more resources we have, the better." He said as he pointed downwards. Then, everyone followed his gaze.
"These three hundred people are not of the same mind as us. We would be enemies if we were to meet them again. How could we not eliminate such a potential threat!? I wish to take the resources they have in preparation for us to use when we are hiding. However, many of the brothers behind me suffered heavy wounds before when we battled the three major sects. Even though we wish to take their resources, we lack the strength to do so. Would everyone be so kind as to eliminate this potential threat and retrieve the resources they possess for the sake of our Red Scarves Alliance?" Miao Yi asked politely.
Lu Siping and the rest exchanged glances. In the end, all he wanted was for them to submit a mark of fealty!