Strains of music accompanied by drumbeats filled the Greenwood Mountain. Fairies clad only in thin veils stood on the back of some white cranes, dancing gracefully amidst the passing clouds as the birds wheeled about the sky. Only those Immortals with prestigious status could have enjoyed such a splendid show. How could ordinary mortals ever have the chance to even catch a glimpse of it?
Ten female cultivators with excellent bone structures, beautiful features, and otherworldly demeanor clustered around Reverend Li Yang, who sat loftily on a throne in the great hall. His face wore a delightful smile, and both of his hands were on the female cultivators' bodies, searching, squeezing, and pinching at will. It made him look more like a profligate son of some rich clan than a virtuous Gold Immortal.
But 'Lao Ai' and 'Daoist Greed', who both were Wu Qi's incarnations in the form of his celestial fiend puppets, could clearly see Reverend Li Yang's eyes from a corner of the hall. They were as clear as pools of spring water, cold as ice. There was more to this man than met the eyes. He had been keeping a clear mind, and on top of that, they could vaguely sense a few threads of aura that were swirling around him. Clearly, he was prepared to unleash his immortal items should there be an emergency.
This man was as cunning as a fox!
Meanwhile, with a wine glass made of rhinoceros horn held in hand, the excited Daoist Yun Zang was proposing a toast to Reverend Li Yang. His Master was finally here, and so were six Elders of his own sect. He couldn't be happier, as the contribution of bringing An He City under his control was more than enough to make him a core disciple of Green City and receive its genuine legacy.
His Senior Brother, Daoist Yun Han, was standing right next to him. The man had an unsightly expression, as if all his ancestors had just hung themselves to death right before his eyes. However, he still had to force himself to smile, proposing a toast and merrymaking with his Master and Elders of the sect. He was so upset that he even thought of killing his own Junior Brother with a flying sword.
He had been surpassing Daoist Yun Zang all these years, but things had changed now. His Junior Brother had just performed an exceptionally meritorious service, allowing Green City to occupy a massive property on Pangu Continent. It was a contribution that allowed Daoist Yun Zang to surpass all his fellow disciples, becoming the 'core" disciple of their sect.
Daoist Yun Han smiled bitterly as he downed all the wine in one gulp and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
Over one hundred Immortals from Green City were merrymaking in the grand hall. Some drank to their heart's content, and some squinted as they enjoyed the dance in the sky performed by the beautiful fairies. A refreshing incense filled the hall with auspicious clouds swirling about.
Shui Xin and Shui Yi, the two Daoists who Daoist Yun Zang brought here with him, had been staying very close behind him at all times. While Daoist Yun Zang spent most of his time flattering Reverend Li Yang, the closest distance between the two puppets and Reverend Li Yang was only less than three feet. If both puppets had sufficient cultivation base, they could easily assassinate Reverend Li Yang from such a short distance.
Any Immortals who had attained a notable cultivation base wouldn't allow a stranger to get so close to them, especially those Gold Immortals who had experienced all sorts of hardships. But, the magical celestial fiend puppets had allowed Wu Qi to achieve what seemed to be impossible. They managed to stand just three feet away from Reverend Li Yang!
As the feast progressed, Reverend Li Yang, who had drunk a few jars of fine wine, raised his wine glass and said cheerfully, "Yun Zang has performed an exceptionally meritorious service this time. Not only did he bring An He City under his control, he even brought us the entire An Le County! There is a fortunate hour and a lucky day in just three days later. We'll have Green City Manor officially inaugurate on that day and begin taking in disciples. It is a joyful event that none of us shall take lightly. We have to carry it out with utmost caution and allow no mistakes to be made."
He cleared his throat and put up a solemn expression, "We have to pay special attention to that Patriarch Xuan Yi of Dark Palace in Hui Ming Heavenly Realm. What we did here is no different from seizing his property. He might fly into a rage out of humiliation, and perhaps is mustering an army of cultivators from the Fiend and Evil League to attack us soon!"
Daoist Yun Zang rose to his feet hastily, laughing out loud as he took the opportunity to flatter Reverend Li Yang. "With Master and six Elders protecting Greenwood Mountain, who dares to come courting their death here?" Clearly, that was very well-received by Reverend Li Yang, as he raised his wine glass smilingly and gulped down the fine wine.
At that moment, 'Lao Ai' took a few steps forward, cupping his fist and bowing respectfully to Reverend Li Yang as he said, "Senior Immortal, over the years this disciple has carefully picked several thousand boys and girls whose spirit roots are excellent and perfect for cultivation, and have been raising them in Greenwood Mountain. During the inauguration ceremony, we'll have them officially acknowledge Green City as their only Master and become part of us. May I ask if Senior Immortal wishes to see them now?"
'Lao Ai' smiled and said, "There are a few among them who even possess innate Dao bodies with spirit roots of a single element and perfect latent potential!"
Reverend Li Yang and the six Elders of Green City had their interests aroused immediately. "Oh? That's excellent! Bring them here and let us have a look!"
'Lao Ai' quickly clapped his hands. Before long, several dozens of cultivators from Euphoria Heavenly Palace came walking slowly into the grand hall with their heads held high, and behind them followed three parades of several hundred boys and girls.
Meanwhile, in a remote valley about one thousand miles away from Greenwood Mountain, fifty huge flying ships were seen hovering quietly in midair. The largest one of them had an appearance of a dragon, measuring ten miles from nose to tail and about one thousand feet in width. Shockingly, on top of it was actually a small city. Countless human soldiers clad in golden armors stood valiantly and spiritedly on the deck, inhaling and exhaling white mists while sending forth a towering killing intent, which accumulated above the flying ship and formed a huge white cloud.
Right in the center of the flying ship stood a nine-storied tower, a tall flagpole erected atop with a large flag fluttering violently in the breeze. The flag had a background filled with tiny characters of 'Yu' and a large row of golden characters neatly embroidered on it – Prefecture Overseer of Zhong Province of Great Yu • Feng Lingling!
The flying ship was escorted by a dozen similarly huge flying ships, whose sizes were just slightly smaller than it. They too had huge flags fluttering atop with different titles – Grand Oracle of Zhong Province of Great Yu • Yu Mu, Chief Judge of Zhong Province of Great Yu • Feng Mulin, Military Minister of Zhong Province of Great Yu • Feng Lexi, and many others. Also, one of the flags read: Left Minister of Zhong Province of Great Yu • Yu Miao.
From the titles and names found on these flags, one could easily tell that all the chiefs and deputies of various governmental departments in Zhong Province, those who worked under Feng Lingling, the Prefecture Overseer of Zhong Province, had arrived here, such as the Directorate of Celestial, Punishment Court, Military Court and many others. Furthermore, they brought with them at least two hundred thousand human soldiers.
Inside the nine-storied tower on Feng Lingling's flying ship, Yan Bugui was found kneeling respectfully on the floor.
In front of him was a huge chair carved out of a large black boulder. The skinny Feng Lingling sat in the chair with his hands slowly stroking a strange-looking serpent, which coiled up on his lap and had four sharp horns poking out of its forehead. The serpent fixed its cold and merciless gaze at Yan Bugui, its thin and long tongue darting out from time to time.
Eight large chairs carved out from stones were placed on both sides of Feng Lingling. They were all occupied, and a few men sitting on them were shrouded in faint mists that veiled their appearances.
On the chair to the left of Feng Lingling sat Feng Mulin, the Chief Judge of Zhong Province's Punishment Court. "He is Hu Bugui," the man said in a deep voice, "He is the one who has hidden in An He City over the past two years and found out all the details about the Immortals and their powers in the regions around the city."
Feng Lingling gave Yan Bugui a look as he nodded and said, "His service shall be rewarded. But, the person who is in charge of this operation is Feng Jiupan. So, the meritorious service of killing seven Gold Immortals of outer heavenly realms and reclaiming An Le County shall be recorded under Feng Jiupan's name."
Yan Bugui bowed his head and said, "It is all Marquis Mang's credit that this subordinate could find out the exact details of An He City. I'm proud to be able to work with the great army of Zhong Province in reclaiming An Le County, so how should I claim reward with such an insignificant service?"
Feng Lingling smiled approvingly. As he gently stroked the serpent, he said in a flat tone, "Your name is Hu Bugui? Not bad! Mulin, you should put a talented man like this into good use. Once we have reclaimed An Le County, you can assign him as the Criminal Officer of the city."
Feng Mulin nodded with a smile and gave Yan Bugui an approving glance.
After that, Feng Lingling spoke again, in the same flat tone, "As for that Zhu Linggong, though his clan is guilty of their previous misdeeds, we have to give him credit for taking the initiative to work with the secret agents of Punishment Court, helping them to find out the various information around An He City. We can make him the next City Lord of An He City. It is just a small city."
He sighed before continuing, "Feng Jiupan just needs the credit of reclaiming An He City. When it is done, he should be conferred with a higher title of nobility." Then he frowned and said, "Nowadays, it's getting tougher to perform a deed of merit! How can we let those fellows keep surpassing us?"
Yu Mu, the Grand Oracle of Zhong Province, shook his head and said with a sigh, "Well, it's better than nothing. Hu Bugui and the others have done well in finding out the bottom of Green City. It will definitely be a meritorious service if we could kill seven Gold Immortals. Besides, as Green City isn't backed up by any almighty experts, they can't do anything to us after we kill seven of their Gold Immortals and reclaim An Le County. It's time to teach those Immortals who pride themselves on being out of the ordinary a great lesson."
Yan Bugui remained kneeling on the ground and dared not to show any emotions.
But, his heart was filled with great respect for Su Qin's scheme. In less than two years of time, the old man managed to plan and push things into reality. The reason that Feng Lingling, the Prefecture Overseer of Zhong Province, had secretly brought an elite army here was to give his beloved son, Feng Jiupan, a meritorious service that would have his title of mobility promoted.
It was a scheme of murdering someone with a borrowed knife, a rather simple strategy. But, how did Su Qin managed to trap them all into the scheme?
Suddenly, he heard Feng Lingling asking him a question, "Have the people in Greenwood Mountain prepared?"
Yan Bugui quickly answered, "Yes, they are ready to strike at any time. The Master of Euphoria Heavenly Palace has taken Zhu Linggong's son as his disciple. Thus, Zhu Linggong is now undertaking the position of Supervisor in Euphoria Heavenly Palace. He has already mustered our men in Greenwood Mountain, and perhaps it's almost time for them to strike!"
Feng Lingling nodded satisfyingly. With his head tilted slightly up, he closed his eyes and said, "If that's the case, let's begin the preparations. Once they strike, we will join them and launch an ambush, killing every single Immortal from Green City. Hehe, in the past, I was too lazy to be bothered by those tiny ants who had occupied An He City, and was unwilling to get my hands dirty with those backed by almighty experts. Hehe, but Green City? A puny sect whose founding Ancestral Master is just a Gold Immortal, how daring are they to establish a branch on Pangu Continent? Aren't they just courting death?"
He laughed, and the rest of them laughed together.
Everybody agreed with him. They were too lazy to be bothered by those who were weak, and dared not to confront those who were strong. This group of Gold Immortals from Green City were just the perfect target, neither too weak nor too strong. Although it was true that Feng Jiupan would claim the biggest credit of killing seven Gold Immortals and over one hundred Heaven Immortals, the descendants of these powerful men in Zhong Province could still get a fair share of the loot.
As time passed, the atmosphere in the tower was slowly smeared with a fearsome killing intent.