Infinite visions flashed before Wu Qi's eyes.
This Spirit Shen Pearl came from an ancient Shen who had lived for countless years. At its peak, its giant body could even cover a dozen outer heavenly realms, and the Shen energy emanated by it could make a top-tiered Gold Immortal lose in it. But after all, Shen was just a low-level life form who depended on instinct to survive. When it encountered the ancestors of the Yu Clan, who were experts at manipulating the soul and life, the mighty Shen was killed.
All of the Shen energy was used to condense into this Spirit Shen Pearl. After fusing his blood with the pearl and relying on the secret scripture of the Yu Clan, Wu Qi was able to fill his body with the Shen energy and use that to counteract most of the spell attacks on him. The miraculous effect of the Shen energy was that it could be used to create a complete world. The spells that targeted at Wu Qi might kill someone conjured by the Shen energy, but they could never hurt him.
As a matter of fact, the Spirit Shen Pearl had a very strong restraint ability against the Oracles of Great Yu. If Wu Qi were not the most powerful helper for Yu He, and Yu Mu needed him to help Yu He through this period of ordeals, he would not have given Wu Qi the pearl.
Wu Qi's consciousness passed through the endless world conjured within the Spirit Shen Pearl, through countless mountains and rivers, countless towns and villages, countless reincarnations, and finally arrived at the heart of the pearl. There, a blood-red stream of light, thousands of miles long and thousands of feet thick, was slowly throbbing while emitting a powerful aura of life that shocked him.
He heaved a deep sigh while watching the huge stream of light in a daze - the bloodline of the ancient Shen produced with all its energy before death. According to the Scroll of Stealing, the ancient Shen was a frightful creature with many strange divine abilities and innate talents. Upon thinking about that, Wu Qi could not help but smile.
He opened his mouth and swallowed the Spirit Shen Pearl together with all the smoke in it, while the huge bloodline also quietly fused into his body and was gradually refined by the chaotic energy. Through the magical ability of the Seven Foundation Elevating Technique, Wu Qi quickly fused the bloodline of the ancient Shen with him. When he was done, he had the ability to transform into an ancient Shen and use its innate divine abilities.
A ten-feet thick layer of faint smoke rose around him. Wu Qi cupped his fist and smiled at Yu Mu, Yu Huai, and Yu He. Then suddenly, there were more than one Wu Qi emerging beside him, all looking exactly the same, and even their auras were identical.
Yu Mu roared with laughter, clapped his hands, and said, "This pearl of ancient Shen is indeed magical! But, it is useless to us, and the Shen energy will disturb our communication with the ghosts and deities. Nevertheless, it is the best tool for protecting oneself!"
Laughing grimly, Yu Huai pointed a finger out to unleash a bone sword, which wheeled nine rounds around Wu Qi before suddenly spraying a stream of flame at him. A terrible howl echoed out as one of the men beside Wu Qi burst into flames and burned to ashes in the blink of an eye. However, Wu Qi himself was not hurt, but only a thread of his hair suddenly kindled, and the flame was quickly extinguished with a backhand.
"Wonderful, wonderful!" Yu Huai nodded and exclaimed, "It's indeed an outstanding defensive instrument! With it, Tan Lang, you will no longer have to fear their revenge, unless that old b*stard Yu Miao is shameless enough to attack you personally."
A wicked smile emerged on Yu Mu's face as he shook his head and said, "He won't have a chance to do that, for I will personally pin him down. If he dares to attack Tan Lang or Yu He in Zhong Ning City, then he shouldn't blame me for taking the opportunity to destroy his altar and ruin his Yuan Spirit, so that he can no longer make contact with the deities which he worships, and completely ruin everything he has!"
With his palms clenched tightly, Yu Mu threw his head back and roared, "For many years, I've been tolerating him, giving concession after concession. But, enough is enough! Finally, a great opportunity is at hand, and I must let Yu Miao know that he is nothing in front of me! Yu Clan of Zhong Province? Hehe, you will either bow your head and obey all the orders of the Principle Clan, or... hmph!"
Yu Mu's eyes flashed with a green gleam, and the boundless killing intent emanated from his body made Wu Qi frown. It surprised him that Yu Mu had nursed such a strong killing intent in his heart against the members of Yu Clan in Zhong Province, which Yu Miao represented. However, why should he be concerned about the internal conflict of Yu Clan? What was in his mind was that how he was going to expand his influence in Hai Province once Yu He had taken the office of Prefecture Overseer. As for the rest? That was none of his business!
One day after they left Yu Mu's secret storehouse, the written instructions of the new Prefecture Overseer of Zhong Province, Bo Zhongfu, were delivered to Yu Clan. He lauded the thirty Prefecture Overseers selected by the Yu Clan, praising them all for being the elites of Great Yu Dynasty who would certainly be able to properly manage a province and benefit the people. His instructions were nothing more than some bureaucratic ones, and thus, no one took them seriously.
But, now that Bo Zhongfu had made a friendly gesture, Yu Mu had no other choice but to do the same. Therefore, with the thirty newly selected Prefecture Overseers from Yu Clan and all the Elders, he went to the Prefecture Overseer Mansion and paid its new master a visit. During their meeting, he expressed his determination that under the leadership of Bo Zhongfu, he would surely make the three hundred provinces under Zhong Province thrive and prosper. Of course, what he said was also a bureaucratic speech which no one would take seriously. But, it was a formality that could not be avoided.
All the officials in Zhong Province knew in their hearts that the Yu Clan, led by Yu Mu, had stabbed the former Prefecture Overseer, Feng Lingling, in the back, and won the administrative power of thirty provinces. It was hard to say whether they would do the same to Bo Zhongfu in the future. If truth be told, the administrative power of the thirty provinces was only used by Bo Zhongfu to rope in Yu Clan, and to put it bluntly, the control of the thirty provinces was no longer in the hands of Bo Zhongfu. They could be considered the private properties of Yu Clan now.
Therefore, although Bo Zhongfu had assumed a warm attitude when talking to the thirty newly selected Prefecture Overseers, he was not enthusiastic about them. It was merely a show to give everyone face. As he had just taken over the office, Bo Zhongfu was busy going through and cleaning up officials and clans from all over Zhong Province, so that he could replace them with the members of his own clan. Therefore, after throwing a hasty banquet for the members of Yu Clan, he sent them away from his mansion.
The next night, Yu Clan closed their doors and threw a grand feast, a celebration for the lucrative benefits they had gained this time, as well as a sending-off ceremony for the thirty new Prefecture Overseers, including Yu He. Wu Qi and Yu He bathed and put on gorgeous robes and expensive jade ornaments. Under the attendance of many maids and serving ladies, they came to the great hall which Yu Clan used only for hosting feasts.
Unlike the oppressive and somber dueling arena, the great hall used only for hosting feasts was extraordinarily luxurious. Its floor, walls, and ceiling were paved with boards cut out from the cores of ten-thousand-years old Dragon Scales Pines, on the surfaces of which were carved countless exotic flowers and ornate patterns. The hall was decorated with numerous bronze ornaments, and regardless it was the bells, the cauldrons, the incense burners, the boxes, or even the tables and all utensils meant for the feast, they were all precious instruments made of bronze.
The great hall was brightly lit, with the aroma of incense filling the air. There was a large group of female dancers dancing in the middle of it when the doors were flung open and the crowd was let in. Such extravagance was extremely rare among the conservative clans of Great Yu. If it were not for the important event worth a grand celebration, Yu Clan would never use this great hall, which was fashioned entirely differently from the traditional style of Great Yu, nor would they use female dancers to create this extravagant scene of wealth and dignity.
Not many people were eligible to attend the feast. On the dais at the far end of the hall sat Yu Mu and Yu Miao, and below them were six rows of long tables, each of which had ten seats. The total number of seats was just enough to accommodate the thirty new Prefecture Overseers and their strongest helpers. Led by the serving ladies, the crowd seated according to their age and seniority in the clan. Afterward, a bell rang and the dancers quickly withdrew. A silence fell over the great hall immediately.
Wu Qi sat next to Yu He while looking coldly at Yu Miao on the dais. The old man was nearly beaten to death by Wu Qi, and dozens of his bones were broken. But, in just over a day, he had recovered from his injury and looked perfectly normal. Now, he was sitting expressionlessly beside Yu Mu and glancing at Wu Qi and Yu He with a green gleam flashing in his eyes.
When he saw Wu Qi looking at him, he actually smiled and nodded to Wu Qi in an amicable manner.
Wu Qi laughed in his heart. 'What does Yu Miao mean by that smile? One of his sons and two of his proud disciples died indirectly in my hands, and I bet he must be eager to hack me into pieces. And yet, he actually put up such an amicable appearance? What a hypocrite!'
But, Wu Qi did not take Yu Miao seriously either. Yu Mu had promised to keep Yu Miao in check, so he would not have to worry about that old man anymore. As for the sons and disciples of Yu Miao, who was he afraid of when his cultivation base had taken a great leap, and he was protected by the Spirit Shen Pearl? Raising up his wine vessel, Wu Qi offered a toast to Yu Miao on the dais, and then drank the wine with a smile on his face.
Yu Miao's face turned extremely unsightly, as though it were stacked with a flagstone, and his head bowed with great resentment.
Although he did notice the little gestures exchanged between Wu Qi and Yu Miao, Yu Mu pretended that he did not see anything, but made some very grand remarks and a few requests to the many sons of Yu Clan below the dais.
Wu Qi did not bother to memorize those grand remarks, but he found that the few demands made by Yu Mu were rather solid.
First, he asked the thirty Prefecture Overseers of Yu Clan to work hard in multiplying the populations in their territories, striving to double the number within ten years. The population represented the military power, the number of fertile fields and mines, fishing grounds, tree farms, and the likes. It represented the number of supplies that could be provided to Yu Clan.
Second, he asked them to strengthen their armies and be strictly on guard against any itinerant Immortals who were trying to take root in their territories. Yu Mu gave all the new Prefecture Overseers, including Yu Huai and Yu He, a stern warning that once any itinerant Immortal was found in their provinces, they must be eliminated immediately. He told them that it was a very important task they could never neglect, as it would affect the assessment result of Prefecture Overseers which the Great Yu Dynasty carried out every ten years.
Third, all the Prefecture Overseers must help each other and turn the thirty provinces into an impregnable land that solely belongs to Yu Clan, and must not allow any outsiders to take advantage of the territories. The third demand was rather ambiguous, but the meaning behind was simple - simply put, from now on, this land was Yu Clan's private property, and no outsiders were allowed to meddle with their business. If the officials and clans in their territories dared to collude with outsiders, they should be executed immediately.
There were some other demands, but they were not as important as the first three. It was nothing more than the amount of personnel, resources, and money that Yu Clan of Zhong Province would provide to each of the new Prefecture Overseers. Wu Qi was not interested in these things, so he just busied himself with the wine.
The feast went well afterward, and Yu Miao did not give Wu Qi any trouble.
It happened that there was an auspicious day just three days after the feast. So, the days went by peacefully, and it was soon time for everyone to set out!