"Senior Brother is right," Fairy Hong Chen coolly replied.
Truth be told, she wasn't too concerned with how high of a placement Yue Yao could get, as she knew that her junior sister hadn't been too keen on participating in the Subjugation Crusade. Her little junior sister possessed a high cultivation aptitude due to her Phoenix form, and with her naturally innocent disposition, she was not as easily susceptible to the various human desires that plagued all cultivators. What's more, Yue Yao had always been a gifted child. Thus, their master had always placed high hopes on her junior sister and sent her here so that she could become more experienced when it came to carnage and bloodshed. As a result, her junior sister had no choice but to participate in the Subjugation Crusade.
But then again, their master had always been fond of her little junior sister. If she could get a good placement, their master would surely dote on her even further. Things were different for Fairy Hong Chen, who didn't really have their master's fancy due to her detached and unemotional personality.
After everyone handed over their Geotranscendence Bangles, the six groups of people that the Western Constellations Palace had assigned to supervise immediately gathered together to tally the final sum. Yun Guang and the others quickly rushed over to take a look, afraid that someone would tamper with the results and cause them to suffer.
Both Grandmaster Qi Jie and Fairy Hong Chen were people who were not too interested in matters like these, so they didn't join the others.
As she looked around, Yue Yao made her way over to Fairy Hong Chen's side. She then took out two storage bangles and tapped on Fairy Hong Chen's wrist, telling her via voice transmission, "Senior Sister, take a look at what I got."
Fairy Hong Chen revealed a gentle smile. She took the two storage bangles and examined them with her transcendence energy. As she scanned the contents, a trace of shock could be seen in her eyes. She said to Yue Yao via voice transmission, "How did you get so much?"
Yue Yao's lips curled into a mischievous snicker as she said, "The larger portion is my own earnings. The smaller one was given to me by some guy for my dowry."
"Dowry?" Fairy Hong Chen asked curiously, "Are you marrying someone? Why else would someone give you a dowry?"
"Hmm! It's that guy." Yue Yao pursed her lips towards Miao Yi and added, "Speaking of which, I really have to thank that guy. He really helped me out…"
She then secretly told Hong Chen a brief summary of what happened.
After hearing the story, Fairy Hong Chen finally understood that it wasn't some kind of dowry, but something that Yue Yao had used her position to take. Still, she couldn't help looking at Miao Yi with curiosity. She wasn't interested in why Miao Yi would help Yue Yao to this extent, nor did she want to know why he'd even called it Yue Yao's dowry. What puzzled her was why Yue Yao was so spirited when talking about this 'Yan Beihong'. It was a little different from the way Yue Yao normally behaved. Perhaps Yue Yao herself was unaware of it, but to someone who'd spent as much time with her as Fairy Hong Chen had, the contrast was evident.
As Hong Chen returned the two storage bangles over to Yue Yao, the latter immediately shoved one back into her hands and said, "Senior Sister, you've been stuck in the Red Lotus Sixth Grade for over two hundred years. I'll give you this storage bangle with the larger portion so that you can break through to Red Lotus Seventh Grade sooner."
Hong Chen shook her head and returned the storage bangle to her. "You should keep it for yourself."
"Senior Sister, I'll get angry if you don't accept it." Yue Yao acted like she was displeased when she was actually just trying to think of a way to help her senior sister.
Because she knew that her senior sister was the kind of person who, whenever she wasn't cultivating, could stand completely still in one spot for an entire day. Her distant and somewhat antisocial personality was not well-liked by their master. As such, her senior sister was often quite disadvantaged in the Realm Beyond Heaven.
Her senior sister's personal handmaiden once told her that someone was secretly cutting down her senior sister's share of Orbs of Will from the Celestial Nation Chamber of Commerce. Her senior sister had mentioned this once to their master. However, their master simply replied, 'You've always been distant and aloof. Do you really think someone would have a grudge against you and intentionally try to make things difficult for you? If you're really determined, go to the Chamber of Commerce and check their records. Talk to me when you've found some evidence.'
And after that, her senior sister never mentioned it again. She would never really go to the Chamber of Commerce and check their records, so all she could do was suffer this injustice in secret. And after noticing that her senior sister was somewhat of a pushover, it seemed the cut had become even more drastic since then.
Hong Chen had mostly been the one who single-handedly brought up Yue Yao. Thus, Yue Yao felt very frustrated on Hong Chen's behalf. However, she knew that there were certain people whom she couldn't afford to offend. It didn't matter that she was prized by their master. If she offended certain parties, they would likely retaliate in secret. Their master couldn't possibly stay by her side all the time and protect her.
Realizing that Yue Yao wasn't going to give in, Hong Chen took that piece of 'dowry', and said, "You keep the bigger portion for yourself. I'll hold on to this for you for the time being."
Yue Yao corrected her, "You're not holding on to it for me. I'm giving it to you."
Hong Chen lightly smiled in response, neither denying nor acknowledging her statement. Without much of a response, she tucked the storage bangle into her high-grade storage ring.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the tally was finally completed. Her last shred of hope dashed, Ji Meimei looked with disappointment at her son. However, as they were still out in public, she didn't make any explicit displays of emotion.
In contrast, Tang Jun was looking at Yue Yao with glee. The meaning behind his smile couldn't be more obvious.
However, Yun Guang and the rest were looking at the other cultivators in the room, all with seemingly awkward expressions on their faces.
It was simply because the rankings of the Subjugation Crusade this time were a little tricky to evaluate, with there being too many participants who had placed last. Yun Guang and the others had never seen a Subjugation Crusade with such a peculiar outcome before.
Putting aside the other participants, Yue Yao had over 68,000 Geotranscendence Bangles to her name, and thus was seated firmly in first place, miles ahead of the second place spot.
Yun Feiyang was no pushover either. Even though he'd lost 10,000 bangles to Yue Yao, the bastard still managed to place second with approximately 31,000 bangles. It seemed those nine years he spent running around without rest weren't in vain after all. If he hadn't lost those 10,000 bangles, and Miao Yi hadn't meddled in halfway, the bastard might have actually gotten first place.
Kong Zhi placed third with a sum of over 24,000 bangles.
Hei Wuya took fourth place with a little over 20,000 bangles.
Feng Ruxiu fell a little behind. Although he also had over 20,000 bangles, he was approximately one hundred bangles short from fourth place, thus placing fifth overall.
On the other hand, Bai Ziliang was in a rather terrible state, placing sixth with just about 12,000 bangles.
This was not a bad position to have among the top one hundred. However, between the six representatives, it was actually last place. None of the representatives would compete with the normal participants. After all, it wouldn't be much of an achievement even if they won. Thus, their competition was naturally between each other.
Then again, if Miao Yi hadn't destroyed his Demon Refining Gourd and caused him to lose his sole method of achieving a quick victory, he wouldn't have been so restrained in the six years that followed, ultimately falling to his current state. Truth be told, he'd also run around rather fervently during the past decade, though he couldn't really compare to the running skill of that maniac Yun Feiyang, who'd even gone as far as circling the vast Western Star Sea multiple times.
In seventh place was none other than Gu Sanzheng.
Eight and ninth place were Ye Xin and Tan Lao respectively.
Tenth place was 'Miao Yi', with twenty-six bangles.
This 'Miao Yi' was actually Yan Beihong. The reason he had so little bangles was due to his time with Song Zeming and the others—he had taken part in the fighting, but not in the sharing of loot. However, Yan Beihong wasn't really concerned about these things. He only wished to survive. After Song Zeming and the others were taken care of, Miao Yi wanted to give him a portion of their Geotranscendence Bangles as well, but even then he couldn't be bothered to take it.
Eleventh place went to Tao Yongchun, with seventeen bangles.
Twelfth place was surprisingly Pi Junzi, with three bangles. How confounding it must be to still be able to get twelfth place with just three bangles.
At the moment, none of them knew what their positions were. Otherwise, Pi Junzi would surely be shocked, thinking, 'Not only did I survive, but I even managed to get into the top twelve?'
'Yan Beihong' and the remaining eighty-seven participants had each handed over just one Geotranscendence Bangle, so they all placed thirteen, which also meant that they were all in last place.
The reason why the final outcome had turned out so peculiar was because the six representatives had confiscated the Geotranscendence Bangles from all the normal participants. Those that weren't seized were swindled away by Miao Yi. After confiscating their members' Geotranscendence Bangles, Yun Feiyang and the others never returned them, only giving back all the other stuff they took. They also divided the things whose owners had died in battle among the remaining members, using it as a bargaining chip to obtain everyone's Geotranscendence Bangles.
The normal participants were happy to oblige as well. After all, it was better to have more treasure than getting a high placement which the six representatives had been so desperately trying to achieve. Had this not been the case, the six representatives wouldn't have been able to obtain so many Geotranscendence Bangles.
The reason why Gu Sanzheng and the others had so many bangles on them was because they were together with Miao Yi; Yue Yao didn't take away theirs. This was also the reason why even Pi Junzi managed to get such a high placement.
When Yun Guang and the others saw the rankings, they thought to themselves, 'Our six representatives surely had something to do with this strange placement. The Six Sages probably won't attempt such a thing again in the future. Otherwise, there won't be any point in having the Sea of Constellations Subjugation Crusade.'
As they questioned their respective representatives via voice transmission, they found out the reason why so many had placed last—those six indeed had something to do with it. The normal participants had all been 'bought' over. If they'd been able to take off the ones on their wrists, all the normal participants would most likely have ended up with zero bangles.
As 'Yan Beihong', Miao Yi had also drawn the attention of Yun Guang and the others. However, given their status, they weren't about to give him all the credit for everything that happened so far. He couldn't possibly shoulder such responsibility on his own, and there was no way the Six Sages would accept such an explanation. In the end, if the Six Sages hadn't sent over their representatives and messed things up, this Subjugation Crusade wouldn't have ended in such a manner.
Still, at least in Tang Jun's eyes, 'Yan Beihong' had done a good job. As a Celestial Nation cultivator, it was his civic duty to give his all for the sake of the Realm Beyond Heaven. And even if something were to happen, Tang Jun would have to do his utmost to protect 'Yan Beihong'. Otherwise, who would heed their authority ever again?
"We're still lacking one bangle!"
After repeatedly tallying all the Geotranscendence Bangles, one of the supervisory committees from the Western Constellations Palace suddenly voiced out this problem.
The person-in-charge walked over as soon as he heard. After making sure of the news, his brows creased heavily. He then walked over to the astrolabe located in the center of the hall. All he could see was that the Geotranscendence Bangles shown on it had all turned into a bright red color.
He swept his gaze across the astrolabe, making sure that all the Geotranscendence Bangles were gathered in a single spot. He then repeatedly invoked his arts and zoomed in. At the largest possible size, he was able to confirm that all the Geotranscendence Bangles were inside this side manor. However, he couldn't find out who was in possession of the missing one.
He swept a cold gaze across the crowd and said, "Whoever has the final Geotranscendence Bangle, I suggest you hand it over immediately. If we find out that you're hiding it intentionally, no one will be able to protect you in this Western Constellations Palace! Not even the Six Sages themselves!" What an audacious claim.
Everyone looked at one another. Miao Yi was also glancing around when he suddenly thought of something. Biting hard on his lip, he slowly stepped out from the crowd.
Then, Qi Xiuhong's body suddenly appeared in his embrace. That missing Geotranscendence Bangle was currently on her wrist. He had no way of removing it. After all, he couldn't just chop off Qi Xiuhong's arm!
The entire hall instantly fell into silence. The sight of Miao Yi holding onto Qi Xiuhong's corpse was very much a pitiable one. An icy gaze in his eyes, Miao Yi slowly turned to look at Bai Ziliang.
Bai Ziliang didn't like him either, so he looked back with a gaze just as menacing.
Yue Yao and Hong Chen looked on in astonishment. 'He's kept this woman's corpse with him all this time. Was she his lover?'
Women were the more sentimental sex after all. The two of them couldn't help having mixed feelings as they looked at Miao Yi.
"Hiss!" Suddenly, one of the giant pythons coiling around the pillars shot over, its bloody jaws opened wide as it tried to bite down on Miao Yi. Its speed was incredibly fast. The momentum was not something Miao Yi could stop.
Then, a figure hastily rushed out with even greater speed, retaliating with a palm strike of his own in an instant. The entire hall shook from the blast of wind behind his palm.
Bang! That person actually sent a python that massive flying with a single palm strike!