Miao Yi and the two girls instantly felt uncomfortable chills run up their spines. It was because Yao Ruoxian's behavior was simply too repulsive to watch.
"Hey old man, when are you going to refine my transcendent artifact?" Miao Yi asked.
Yao Ruoxian was in a great mood for once. He cheerfully waved his hand and said, "Don't worry! I'm a man of my word. Since I already agreed to do it, I will definitely get it done. Besides, it's not like I can finish something like that overnight. What's the rush?"
As Yao Ruoxian said this, Charcoal suddenly let out a yawn, and his eyes looked a little glazed over. Against his best efforts to keep them open, his eyelids felt heavier and heavier, and his body started staggering around as if he was drunk. Fortunately, everyone had seen this happen before, so they weren't too surprised by the situation. They all understood that this was Charcoal's usual reaction after eating Yao Cores.
Everyone watched as Charcoal slowly wobbled to a nearby pavilion. Finally, his legs gave in, and he curled himself up on the ground. Soon, a heavy nasal breath started echoing throughout the area.
There was still a large pile of Yao Cores left over on the ground. With a flick of his sleeves, Yao Ruoxian tucked all of them away, then walked inside the pavilion with hands behind his back. He began circling around the sleeping Charcoal, looking on as though he would never get sick of the sight.
Suddenly, atop the bridge leading to this island, Yan Xiu was hastily rushing over. Within the entire Raincloud Manor, he was pretty much the only one besides Miao Yi and the two Aunties who could step foot on this island. Yan Xiu had met Yao Ruoxian before as well, and he cupped his fists from afar when he noticed the latter. He then quickly walked over to Miao Yi and presented a jade archive to him, "Master, there's a message from Suppressing Tenth Hall."
Miao Yi took the jade archive and read it through. As expected, he was being summoned to leave for Suppressing Tenth Hall immediately.
Miao Yi didn't even need to guess why he was being summoned! He scoffed, "It's finally here. That was rather quick! I'm sure Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei have received one as well. Yan Xiu, inform Mu Tailai and Hu Defu to escort me on this journey." He then glanced at the sleeping Charcoal inside the pavilion. After eating several hundred First Grade Yao Cores in a single sitting, god knows how long the fatso would be sleeping for this time. Miao Yi added, "Oh, and prepare a mount for me as well!"
"Understood!" Yan Xiu acknowledged the order and departed.
"Master! Let us come with you." Qian'Er and Xue'Er requested.
"No need!" Miao Yi waved his hand and said. He knew what the two of them were worried about, so he smiled and added, "It'll be fine. Since I dared to do such a thing, I already know what's coming. The three of us were sent here by Granny Tao on the Overlord's orders just recently. It's understandable for us to be a little ignorant of the rules. We're the three Manor Heads whose positions were personally promised by Mu Fanjun herself. If the top brass is so quick to punish us without even giving us a chance to prove ourselves, then it will inevitably raise the question on whether these people are suitable to be in charge. Don't worry. We can easily gloss over this incident with some kind of excuse. At most, we'll just need to fork out a little treasure. I don't think we'll be this lucky next time though, but that doesn't matter since we're going to hide in our shells after this anyway!"
As he said this, Miao Yi waved his hand, causing the tiny mantids perched on the tree in the distance to immediately fly over. They proceeded to fly around him in circles, but soon after, they shot straight towards the pavilion and started beating their wings around Yao Ruoxian instead.
Yao Ruoxian was a little dazed at first, but he soon burst with joy as he hurriedly took out a pile of Yao Cores. He was then able to soothe the tiny mantids.
Miao Yi was already leaving in strides. When he reached the bridge over the lake, he turned back and gazed at the fire by the lakeside. A sense of determination flashed in his eyes before he resolutely turned his head and continued to walk away.
Once he was outside the Manor, his two Advisors—Mu Tailai and Hu Defu—were already waiting for him on their dragon steeds. Yan Xiu was also awaiting his arrival with a mount already prepared. Miao Yi proceeded to leap onto the dragon steed that Yan Xiu had readied for him.
This dragon steed was evidently not used to its new master. Miao Yi had to pull on its feelers quite a bit before he got it to move the way he wanted it to. When he finally broke into a gallop, Mu Tailai and Hu Defu also got on their steeds and hurriedly chased after him.
The three of them rode in a triangle formation, with Miao Yi taking the lead, as they galloped full speed towards their destination. Somewhere along the journey, Miao Yi called for the other two to ride next to him and started asking about their situation.
Miao Yi and his two Advisors rode continuously across Raincloud Manor's domain, eventually crossing its borders and reaching Mulberry Cloud Manor's territory. However, they still showed no signs of stopping. Shortly after exiting Mulberry Cloud Manor's territory, along the crossroads that one needed to pass through to reach Suppressing Tenth Hall, the three of them bumped into Sikong Wuwei, who was also accompanied by two of his subordinates.
As expected, Sikong Wuwei had also received a decree of summons. Guessing that both Miao Yi and Zhao Fei had received one as well, he decided to wait here for their arrival.
Zhao Fei had yet to arrive, but Miao Yi and Sikong Wuwei were in no rush and continued to wait for their comrade. Around half a day later, the two of them finally saw Zhao Fei approaching with two of his subordinates. The three Manor Heads then continued on their journey to Suppressing Tenth Hall.
The sun soon fell, and the moon took its place. However, that eventually gave way to the radiance of dawn as well. Finally, around noon the next day, the three Manor Heads had reached Suppressing Tenth Hall. However, they were in no rush to meet the Hall Master. Instead, they went to pay their respects to Advisor Xu Jinsong.
At the moment, Xu Jinsong was sitting on his chair with a terrible expression on his face. Both his handmaidens were standing to the side, but it didn't seem like they were going to prepare any tea, nor did they show any intention of asking the three Manor Heads present to take a seat.
Miao Yi, Zhao Fei, and Sikong Wuwei stood shoulder to shoulder in the center of the hall, as Xu Jinsong slowly swept a cold gaze across each of their faces.
Bang! Xu Jinsong suddenly slapped on his teapoy and stood up, bellowing, "The three of you are very bold indeed! Do you hold me in any regard at all?!"
The three Manor Heads cupped their fists and said, "Please calm down, Advisor!"
"Calm down?" Xu Jinsong said coldly, "Let me ask you three. Did you or did you not join forces and kill every single person in Tranquil Sun Manor?"
Zhao Fei cupped his fists and replied, "If I may, Advisor, we had no choice but to do so. Chang Zijiu took advantage of our recent initiation to sow discord amongst our troops and incite a rebellion. As such, we were forced to rally our troops and fight back. Pure Dream Manor Head Xu Huihuang can vouch for us as well!"
"Nothing but lies and fabrications! Do you take me for a fool?!" Xu Jinsong shouted angrily, "I finally understand why the three of you chose places that so conveniently sealed off Tranquil Sun Manor back then. You were planning this all along! Ever since Chang Zijiu entered the cultivation realm, he has never left Traversing Water Palace's domain. The people here are not the type to go around stirring up trouble either. If my guess is correct, Chang Zijiu probably never even met you three before. Let me ask you then, what sort of grudge do you bear against him that would make you take his life like this?!"
Miao Yi cupped his fists and replied, "We bear no grudge against him! I suppose now that things have gone this far, there's no need to keep it a secret any longer. If I may be blunt, Advisor, the only thing that caught our eye was his territory. The three of us were already prepared to divide his domain amongst ourselves. Regardless of who it was in-charge of Tranquil Sun Manor, Chang Zijiu or otherwise, we would've still done the same thing."
"..." Xu Jinsong's expression instantly froze as he stared wide-eyed at the three of them.
Then, Sikong Wuwei cupped his fists and said, "Rest assured, Advisor! The gifts you receive from Tranquil Sun Manor will not be affected in any way. However, we would like it if you could help put in a few good words for us in front of the Hall Master!"
"Screw your gifts!" Xu Jinsong bellowed furiously, "Chang Zijiu is one of my men. You killed one of my men!" The implications in his words were obvious— 'Even if the three of you didn't attack Tranquil Sun Manor, the gifts I receive won't be affected in any way. However, you actually laid waste to one of the people under my protection. How can I accept such a humiliation?!'
'If we didn't already know that he was one of your men, we wouldn't have come looking for you first!' Miao Yi and the others thought to themselves.
Zhao Fei said in surprise, "This… we really didn't know. We're still quite new here."
Miao Yi continued, "Rest assured, Advisor! Attacking Tranquil Sun Manor is just the first step of our plan. The truth is, we've actually noticed how severely lacking the defenses of the surrounding Manors are. After this, the three of us plan to take over all the other Manors as well. Once we've accomplished that, you can expect gifts from all of the Manors under Suppressing Tenth Hall!" He was trying to say that the loss of Tranquil Sun Manor was just the tip of the iceberg.
Heavens! Xu Jinsong was absolutely horrified as he thought, 'Are these three bastards mad?! It seems that decimating Tranquil Sun Manor is nothing more than a warm-up to them. Taking over the remaining six Manors is the main show!'
Both his handmaidens were also in shock. To them, things like war and bloodshed were something completely out of their reach. They were already quite disturbed for one incident to pop up after so many years of peace and quiet. To think there was still more to come!
Sikong Wuwei said solemnly, "My lord, if you're willing, then once our cultivations are stronger, the three of us are willing to assist you in stealing the Hall Master's seat!"
Sikong Wuwei's voice was both hoarse and loud. However, how could such a thing be mentioned so casually, and in such a loud volume, no less? Things would be disastrous if rumors started to spread! Xu Jinsong was scared witless by the thought of this, and hurriedly yelled, "Shut up! Shut up!" He then waved his hand to his handmaidens and said, "You two, go outside and stand watch!"
When both handmaidens passed by Miao Yi and the others, they cast a sideways glance at the three of them as though they were looking at freaks.
Naturally, Xu Jinsong was looking at Miao Yi and the others in the same manner as well. He was then reminded that these three imbeciles had come from beyond the borders of Traversing Water Palace. He also recalled that the world outside was different, and was always in a state of carnage.
'Holy shit! They've only just arrived and they already plan on decimating Suppressing Tenth Hall and all its subordinate Manors. Aren't the cultivators from the other Palaces a little too terrifying?!'
Xu Jinsong gnashed his teeth and said, "I will pretend that I didn't hear the insolent statement you just said. And the three of you better take it to your graves as well! Don't mention something like that ever again! I'm warning you, forceful takeovers don't work here in Suppressing Tenth Hall. No matter how many places you seize control of, you will have to spit them all back out eventually!"
Zhao Fei asked in surprise, "Why is that so? Doesn't the rule of 'might makes right' apply to the entire Celestial Nation when it comes to the management of a domain? The three of us specifically chose this place because we heard that the Traversing Water Palace cultivators are not skilled in battle!"
Xu Jinsong's expression twisted as he thought, 'I was wondering why these three didn't choose to go to someplace better and wanted to come here instead. So it's because they think the people here are easy to push around, so they specifically picked this place as a shortcut for their career paths. What insolence! They will eventually realize the strength…' As Xu Jinsong thought about this, he realized that no one else throughout the ten Manors of Suppressing Tenth Hall could possibly fight against these three anymore. The incident with Tranquil Sun Manor likely had all of them quaking in fear already. It would be fortunate enough for these three to not go around picking fights; who would dare challenge them? Where would he find an opponent that could show these three the strength of Suppressing Tenth Hall?
"That's enough chatter! I don't need to explain this to you. You will eventually come to understand the situation on your own. If the three of you still have the guts to spout such nonsense after that, then I'll really be impressed!" Xu Jinsong cut the topic short and suddenly scoffed, "I heard that the three of you went to pay a visit to Advisor Ji Ze and Advisor Huang Jizhang after leaving my place last time—it seemed the conversation went quite well?"
Miao Yi and the others couldn't help musing to themselves, 'So forceful methods are a no-go, but when it comes to playing politics, he's as sharp as a whistle. Problem is, who would be intimidated by you if your fists aren't hard enough?'
"As far as the other two Advisors are concerned, we're just showing our respects for formality's sake. Otherwise, why would we visit you first every time, my lord? It's clear to see who is the one we truly prioritize first and foremost. I'm sure the others are aware of this deep down as well!" Miao Yi said sincerely.
'Hmph, well he does have a point. The three of them always visit me first. Isn't it already obvious who they truly belong to?' Xu Jinsong's expression slightly improved as he said, "It's impossible for the three of you to divide Tranquil Sun Manor amongst yourselves. Even if I agree with it, the others will surely be against it. I don't blame you for being new and thus, unfamiliar with how things are done in these parts. However, with the mess you caused, there's no telling whose hands Tranquil Sun Manor will end up falling into after this. Who's going to make this up to me?"
Miao Yi had survived this long despite his weak cultivation, while Zhao Fei and Sikong Wuwei were able to climb up to the Manor Head's seat even before they joined the Subjugation Crusade. This naturally meant the three of them weren't fools. They could already tell that Xu Jinsong was trying to get something from them again. It was because he knew that these three Subjugation Crusade survivors were loaded as hell, and intended to use every opportunity he had to gain something from them!
However, the three of them still feigned ignorance. Sikong Wuwei yelled in his hoarse voice, "The three of us are your men, my lord. The places that we take over are naturally yours as well."
Xu Jinsong laughed coldly and said, "That's easy for you to say. Do you think that the Hall Master and the other two Advisors are just there for show? There are plenty of people vying for a bite of the pie!"
Miao Yi cupped his fists and said, "So what if that's true? It doesn't matter who gets sent to take over Tranquil Sun Manor after this. With the three of us paving the way for you, my lord, then even if the new Manor Head isn't one of ours initially, he will eventually have to obey you. If he dares to fight back, we will immediately bring our forces right up to his borders. Let's see if he dares to go against us then!"