"Song Zeming and the others, what are their cultivation levels, and how strong are they?"
Now that he had already made the promise, he had to live up to his word. And since they were going to make their move, Miao Yi wanted to know exactly what he would be up against.
Yan Beihong told him that all nine of them were at Blue Lotus Ninth Grade. They wouldn't have been able to survive Yun Feiyang's persecution for this long if they weren't. Three of them possessed powerful artifacts given by the Glorious Cloud Sect. The strongest one was naturally Song Zeming's Flowing Cloud Killer. After that would be Duan Hongfei's Mother-Child Flying Sword, followed by Kong Yulian's Mist Pearl.
After listening to Yan Beihong's explanation, Miao Yi gently nodded his head. He now had a pretty good idea of what he was dealing with. At the same time, he couldn't help being impressed by Yan Beihong. He was the only Blue Lotus Fifth Grade cultivator in the group, yet he had managed to survive this long. Clearly, he was much stronger than his cultivation suggested.
Yan Beihong asked, "Little Brother, you know best how you should utilize your own transcendent artifact. How do you think we should make our move?"
Miao Yi replied, "The best way is to ambush them!"
After they discussed the plan, Yan Beihong nodded. "There is no time like the present. This is your first day with us so it wouldn't be strange for you to greet everyone. Why don't we strike now?"
Miao Yi nodded. He never imagined that the first thing he would do after coming out of his long years of hiding would be to pillage and plunder someone else. Who would have thought the opportunity would present itself to him so quickly?
The place they were currently residing in was a temporarily vacated fort in the mountains. The first target on Miao Yi and Yan Beihong's list was Song Zeming. After making their way back to the fort, the duo made a beeline straight for Song Zeming's quarters, which also happened to be the original Fort Master's living quarters. As the number one disciple sent over by the Glorious Cloud Sect, this was Song Zeming's rightful place to stay.
Evidently, the Glorious Cloud Sect disciples were also wary of Yan Beihong and had an old man secretly stationed outside to guard the fort. When he noticed Miao Yi and Yan Beihong approaching, the old man jumped out and asked brusquely, "Yan Beihong, you should be on patrol right now. Why are you back already? What if that devil spawn Yun Feiyang were to find us suddenly? We would have no time to run should that happen."
"I will be returning shortly!" Yan Beihong said as he cupped his fists. He then pointed to Miao Yi. "This is my Little Brother Miao's first day here. He is unfamiliar with the place, so I am bringing him around to greet everyone and arrange his quarters for him. After that, I will immediately return to my watch. I will not let it affect my duties. Come, Little Brother! This is my Senior Uncle Wang Bo. He is a powerful cultivator with a Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivation!"
"Greetings, Senior Wang!" Standing beside Yan Beihong, Miao Yi smiled and cupped his fists towards the old man.
The old man nodded arrogantly, and the formalities ended at that. He then told Yan Beihong curtly, "Hurry it up. Don't dawdle around. There's no telling when that devil spawn will catch up to us."
Yan Beihong cupped his fists in acknowledgment, then quickly led Miao Yi into the fort.
Miao Yi now understood why Yan Beihong had no hesitation whatsoever in choosing to make a move against these people. He could tell just by looking at their attitudes that they didn't regard Yan Beihong as one of their own at all. Otherwise, they wouldn't treat him so coldly, given his position as a Manor Head as well as a fellow disciple.
The duo soon made their way to Song Zeming's quarters. Yan Beihong shouted from the outside, "Senior Uncle Song, it's Miao Yi's first day here, so I brought him over to greet you!"
"Come in!" a voice from inside said politely. After all, Miao Yi had proven that he could hold his own in a fight earlier on. Not to mention, Song Zeming was still unsure whether or not Miao Yi had any other aces up his sleeve. As the leader, he had to think for the sake of the group, so he was still rather clear-headed.
As soon as the two walked in, they could see a black cloth draped over the stone bed, with Song Zeming's obscure figure sitting cross-legged behind it.
Miao Yi offered his greetings when he saw Song Zeming. After that, he was prepared to attack with his Mystic Yin Mirror. He was a decisive man after all. Since he decided to make his move, he wouldn't pull his punches. However, Yan Beihong's voice transmission suddenly warned him, "Stop! He is not defenseless!"
Miao Yi didn't know what sort of defenses Song Zeming had at hand, but since Yan Beihong insisted, he decided just to let it go.
"May I know what sort of status Brother Miao holds in the Fifth Earthly Branch, as well as your cultivation?" Behind the curtain, Song Zeming smiled and asked.
Miao Yi wiped off the Soul Concealing Paste on his forehead, revealing his Blue Lotus First Grade symbol, and replied, "I am the Mountain Chieftain of Fifth Earthly Branch's Mount Calming Sea."
Song Zeming was somewhat astonished to see that Miao Yi was only at Blue Lotus First Grade. He smiled. "I am highly impressed that Brother Miao could travel the Western Star Sea on his own with just a Blue Lotus First Grade cultivation. I believe you must have some powerful artifact at your disposal!"
Miao Yi smiled bitterly. "Truth be told, I was once working with a group of my own. However, we were decimated by a powerful enemy. After that, I simply hid myself this whole time. It's not because I have a powerful artifact or anything like that. The reason I came here was also because I noticed that this was a rather inconspicuous island on the map. I never thought that I would bump into Big Brother Yan here. I am eternally grateful that Senior Song decided to accept me into your group!"
"Haha, I see!" Song Zeming forced a laugh. Even though Miao Yi's words were within reason, he didn't buy it completely. For a mere Blue Lotus First Grade cultivator to survive this long, there was no way things could be as simple as Miao Yi put it.
After a short talk, Yan Beihong and Miao Yi excused themselves from Song Zeming's quarters.
Once they were outside, Miao Yi transmitted his voice over to Yan Beihong and asked, "That was a good chance just now. Why did you stop me?"
Yan Beihong replied, "Didn't you see he was hiding behind that black curtain the whole time? He clearly isn't willing to trust you just yet. That black curtain is precisely Flowing Cloud Killer!"
"That's Flowing Cloud Killer?" Miao Yi asked curiously, "How powerful can something like that be?"
"Little Brother, you mustn't underestimate it. That artifact is unbelievably versatile. When it's soft, it can be as nimble as a cloud, capable of easily infiltrating a person's orifices and destroying them from the inside. And when it clumps together, it becomes hard as steel and is impermeable by both water and fire. This also allows it to carry people inside and quickly traverse through the ocean depths, and it's the reason why that devil spawn Yun Feiyang has failed to catch us for so long. I also heard that this artifact was supposedly created by the famous artisan Sir Zi Yang. It is extremely powerful. You mustn't underestimate it!" Yan Beihong warned.
'Sir Zi Yang?' Miao Yi was lost for words. 'Is this for real? I actually have to face the transcendent artifact that the old coot refined?'
Miao Yi wanted to laugh out of exasperation as he compared the transcendent artifact that the old coot refined for someone else against his own. This was too unfair. And he had even let him adopt Qian'Er and Xue'Er as daughters.
That said, he could roughly imagine why. After all, not just anyone could wield a transcendent artifact this powerful. Only those major sects would have the resources to create such a thing. Just the cost for the materials alone was not something he could afford. Even Yao Ruoxian himself was not that rich to be able to refine something like this on his own.
"Little Brother, you don't believe it?" Yan Beihong couldn't help asking after seeing the peculiar expression on Miao Yi's face.
"It's not that." Miao Yi shook his head, "I'm just wondering how we should make our move after this. Since he is this guarded, it won't be wise for us to try and ambush the others anymore. Otherwise, once we're exposed, it'll be just like you said, we will surely have a hard enough time dealing with Song Zeming's Flowing Cloud Killer alone, much less with everyone else in the mix. We need to think of a more fool-proof plan… If only there were a way to gather them all together and take care of them in one go. That would save us the trouble of dealing with the consequences!"
Yan Beihong immediately asked, "Are you confident you can take them all down in one fell swoop if we gather them together?"
Miao Yi nodded. "As long as Song Zeming isn't as guarded with me as he was just now, I am highly confident that a close-quarters ambush will succeed!"
Yan Beihong's eyes shone as he replied, "Leave this to me. I have a plan. You just worry about making your own preparations."
"What sort of plan?" Miao Yi asked.
"Now's not the best time to talk about it. Let's hurry and greet everyone for now. They might get suspicious if we take too long!" Yan Beihong reminded him.
Miao Yi nodded. The duo then made their way around everybody's quarters, and Miao Yi offered his greetings.
After that, Miao Yi chose his own living quarters, which was located right beside Yan Beihong's. There were plenty of rooms inside the fort after all.
As he led Miao Yi into his quarters, Yan Beihong quickly transmitted his voice and said, "Around two hours. In around two hours, I will create a commotion and gather them up. Little Brother, you just wait for the opportunity to make your move! But remember, this method will only work once. If you were to fail somehow, we would have no choice but to make a run for it!"
'Run?' Miao Yi was surprised. He asked, "You haven't even told me what your plan is. How do you expect me to be sure of anything?"
"I'm just afraid that you won't be able to act naturally if I tell you!" Yan Beihong then continued slowly, "Yun Feiyang is attacking!"
Miao Yi immediately understood. They really did only have one shot at this. If Song Zeming and the others were to find out the alarm was fake, they would definitely suspect that he and Yan Beihong were plotting something. After that, they surely wouldn't allow potential threats like them to stay by their side. If that happened, Yan Beihong and Miao Yi would end up having to run for their lives.
Seeing as Miao Yi understood his words, Yan Beihong quickly turned around and left. He was still on watch duty. It wouldn't be wise for him to leave his post for too long.
Miao Yi then sat cross-legged on the stone bed and quietly waited for time to pass, paying close attention to any commotion outside.
Just as the two-hour mark passed, the sound of hurried hoofbeats could be heard, and Miao Yi's eyes shot open. How punctual indeed.
As expected, Yan Beihong's agitated voice could be heard shouting from the outside, "An enemy attack! It's an enemy attack!"
The entire fort immediately became rowdy. Miao Yi quickly ran outside as well and saw everyone else rushing to their mounts. Song Zeming was also present and was no longer hiding behind that black curtain.
Miao Yi quickly made his way to Charcoal and hopped on. His movements were a little slower than the rest. Song Zeming and the others had already donned their armors and readied their weapons as they assembled.
"What's going on?" Song Zeming shouted to Yan Beihong.
Yan Beihong appeared restless as he pointed into the distance. "He's here! That devil spawn Yun Feiyang has caught up with us again! He's already coming ashore from the northwest!"
Everyone was shocked. Yun Feiyang had really done quite a number on them. They didn't even bother thinking about anything else. Song Zeming waved and said, "We cannot stay here any longer. Head to the shore!"
Miao Yi was situated right behind everyone. And just as they were about to charge, he revealed the Mystic Yin Mirror and unleashed a powerful surge of cold Yin energy from the back. Everyone was instantly enveloped inside the gray mist, Yan Beihong included.
As he had been secretly watching Miao Yi's reaction the whole time, Yan Beihong was utterly shocked and angered by his actions. But before he could react, the surge of cold Yin energy had already surrounded him.
Within the deathly chill, Song Zeming and the others were completely stunned by the sudden turn of events. However, as their backs were facing towards Miao Yi, they didn't have the time to turn around and defend themselves. Soon, their consciousness faded away, and they began crashing forward along with their mounts from the sudden spike in inertia. Even Yan Beihong was no exception.
The cold Yin energy then rushed back into the Mystic Yin Mirror. With one hand on the Inversed-Scales Spear and another on the Mystic Yin Mirror, Miao Yi swept a cold gaze across the people lying on the snow-crusted ground. Song Zeming and the others were all lying completely frozen stiff on the ground, covered in a layer of snow-white frost.