Cultivating was a tedious matter. Ever since Miao Yi had entered closed door cultivation henceforth, he practically never came out.
His cultivation had not reached the state of abstaining from the need to eat and drink. Every ten days or so, he would come out of the stone room to eat something. Then, he would again return back to his quarters to cultivate.
Whenever the little ones perched on the stone door cried out in hunger, he would only transmit his message to Qian'Er and Xue'Er outside to make preparations before ordering the little ones to go out and eat. He would then summon them back once they were done feasting.
Four months later, the Orb of Will in his mouth was only refined by almost twenty percent. He still desired to continue cultivating but in the end, he had no other choice but to exit his closed-door cultivation.
Because the end of the year had arrived and it was time to gather the Orbs of Will from East Arrival City. After the Orbs of Will were harvested, he had to personally transport and handover the Orbs of Will to Mount Calming Sea. There mustn't be any losses on the journey there. Otherwise, once he lost the Orbs of Will that were due to be handed over, he would not be able to escape the punishment.
So he had no option but to leave closed-door cultivation.
After Yan Xiu entered to report some state of affairs and left, Qian'Er and Xue'Er then entered, carrying clothes with them.
In the pool of the hot spring, Qian'Er's and Xue'Er's young naked bodies were as alluring as before. They helped Miao Yi bath and get changed.
A refreshed Miao Yi then walked over to the stone door. With a wave of his hand, he tucked the little ones away into his storage ring into a state of Deep Sleep.
On a day when the snow swirled briskly in the air, Miao Yi left closed-door cultivation.
Over a hundred flowers lay wilted in the courtyard and Charcoal, having appeared to have forgotten past grudges, cheerfully jumped up and neighed on seeing that Miao Yi had come out.
Miao Yi lifted his hand and stroked the head that was being nudged into his embrace, while Qian'Er and Xue'Er draped a black cloak fixed with white velvet on the inner lining over his shoulders. It added a bit of the grandeur of an important person, to his entire presence.
This cloak was personally tailored by the two girls for Miao Yi when they saw that winter was coming.
Miao Yi patted Charcoal's head and pushed it away. He walked into the courtyard, treading along the snow in an unhurried manner.
He ascended to the highest level of the loft and from his elevated position, with hands clasped behind his back, he surveyed the mountain ranges, wrapped in white as they were by the surrounding heavy snowfall.
'Another year has passed again. I wonder how Little Brother and Little Sister are doing?' Miao Yi sighed gently.
Qian'Er and Xue'Er looked at each other, not knowing what Cave Master was sighing about.
To the both of them, what was there for the Cave Master, an aloof and remote person with such a position to sigh about?
After being entranced and lost in thought for quite a long while, he heard movement from the far off distance. Miao Yi recovered and titled his head, squinting his eyes to look. He then turned around and lead the two girls down the loft.
From a distance, a large squadron of forces were producing a clamorous noise as they moved along the mountain path. They chased oxens and sheep, whilst at the same time, a horse-pulled carriage was coming with a cart of the annual gifts.
The City Lord, who was freezing till he had shrunken in on himself, was bent over on horseback and leading a group of soldiers in tow.
Yan Xiu, Zheng Jinlong, Wang Zifa, three of the White Lotus Third Grade cultivators were urging their dragon steeds with weapons in their hand, personally holding the lines at the front and rear.
On the other side were Hou Sheng, Shang Youlai, Nansisi and Wang Xiuqin; the four of them were constantly galloping their dragon steeds to examine their surroundings.
In order to escort these items, unexpectedly, seven out of eleven cultivators from the entire East Arrival Cave had been dispatched.
As to why they had a great number of people involved, it was not only for the horse-pulled carriage carrying the cart of goods, most importantly, it was for the transporting of the large amount of Orbs of Will hidden amidst them.
The Orbs of Will were hidden within the belly of one of the sheeps. Before they had departed, they had stuffed the orbs into the sheep's belly. Even Yan Xiu and the other escorts for this batch did not know in which sheep, ox or horse were they actually hidden in.
The purpose for doing so was very simple; even if someone were to raid during the journey, there wasn't a high possibility that they would be able to rob everything.
The City Lord Xu Xinliang also had no choice but to be this cautious. He could only personally sent the Orbs of Will coalesced this year to Miao Yi, to be counted as completing the handover. Even if trouble happened afterwards, then it would no longer have anything to do with him.
Outside the mountain gate, Zhu Tianbao, Qiu Shaoqun and Dan Biaoyi saddled on top of their dragon steeds, clutching onto their weapons as they surveyed the surroundings.
After the horse-pulled carriage with the goods went through the mountain gate, and come to a halt in the plaza, everyone else retreated outside except for the City Lord Xu Xinliang.
Miao Yi, wearing a black cloak lined with velvet, stood on the steps of the Grand Hall's main entrance with Qian'Er and Xue'Er accompanying him at his sides. He reached out to catch and hold on to the heavy snowfall floating down from the sky..
From afar, Xu Xinliang bowed with his hands held in front at Miao Yi standing on the steps. Miao Yi gave a slight nod of his head as a gesture and said, "Take them out!"
Xu Xinliang went amongst the herd of sheep and ox. After looking around for a while, he seized a sheep.
With a flick of Dan Biaoyi's spear, the sheep collapsed into a pool of blood. Very quickly, he then took out a small leather pouch from the sheep's belly. Ripping the leather pouch apart, there was another closed pouch inside.
Opening the pouch, the insides were filled with a pile of Orbs of Will emanating a soft glow.
Yan Xiu and the rest huddled up closely together. Once they were done counting everything, they discovered there were a hundred and twenty orbs, not even one less.
After confirming, Yan Xiu dashed to the front of the Grand Hall, presenting the orbs to Miao Yi respectfully with both of his hands.
Once Miao Yi counted it himself and ensured that there was no mistake, he immediately tucked them away into his storage ring. Flinging his cloak lightly, he turned around in the storm, leading Qian'Er and Xue'Er into the Grand Hall.
It was only at this time that Xu Xinliang could let out a heavy sigh of relief. He then passed a large case to Yan Xiu.
Inside the case were ten thousand gold crystals, which was equivalent to a million black crystals or a hundred million white crystals.
It was different from the five thousand coins he had gifted before. It was also impossible for him to keep gifting so much.
This batch of gold crystals were the same as the Orbs of Will. They were required to be delivered and East Arrival Cave could only kept twenty percent of it.
Xu Xinliang entered the Grand Hall with Yan Xiu's group, once again he detailed a report of the goods presented to Miao Yi for the year.
Xue'Er went down to receive it into her hands, before transferring it to Miao Yi's hands. After Miao Yi flipped it open to take a look, he threw it to Yan Xiu, requesting him to quickly make a copy of it in a jade archive in his name, because he had to present it to Mount Calming Sea.
Yan Xiu dealt with it on the spot.
After Miao Yi and Xu Xinliang finished their discussion, Miao Yi dismissed him.
Upon receiving the jade archive that Yan Xiu passed to him, Miao Yi examined it, and sealed the jade archive with his insignia before putting it away into his storage ring.
Turning back, he made Yan Xiu open the case and issued the gold crystals to everyone who should received them.
Under the passionate and anticipating gazes of many, Miao Yi did not disappoint everybody. Except for the Orbs of Will that needed to be delivered, among the remaining twenty four orbs, each of the White Lotus Third Grade cultivators were given three orbs while the Second Grades were given two each.
The entire group was so ecstatic that they couldn't even shut their mouths. What cave could get so many Orbs of Will in a year? They figured except for East Arrival Cave, they wouldn't find another one.
From his high seat, Miao Yi looked around at the group and said, "I hope everyone will continue to work hard and do your very best for next year. I, Miao Yi, will definitely not treat you all unfairly!"
Immediately, the group of people cupped their hands, bowing in salutation with all sincerity as they exclaimed, "We sincerely obey Cave Master's orders!"
This spectacle made Qian'Er and Xue'Er sneak a glance at Miao Yi, who was raising his hand to excuse them, giving off a feeling of being slightly ennobled.
This probably had to do with the fact that Yan Xiu hadn't yet told the two that Miao Yi's cultivation was the lowest in East Arrival Cave. If they had known, they probably would not be this pleased in their hearts.
Miao Yi looked around beneath him again and said, "Zheng Jinlong, Wang Zifa, Zhu Tianbiao, Hou Sheng, Shang Youlai."
Upon hearing him, the five of them stepped forward with cupped fists, shouting, "Here!"
Miao Yi uttered, "To prevent anything unfortunate from happening, the five of you will accompany me to immediately deliver and consign the items to Mount Calming Sea!"
The five of them shouted loudly, "Yes!"
After gaining their profits, everyone's Essence, Qi and Spirit were obviously different. They obeyed and performed all tasks ordered by the Cave Master, and it could be seen that there wasn't even the slightest shirking of their responsibilities, causing Qian'Er and Xue'Er to once again cast sidelong glances at the Cave Master ordering his subordinates with an awe-inspiring presence.