Chapter 290 - Back Home
The clean and unadorned room did not have a lot of furniture nor decorative items. The old-fashioned table was filled with ancient blotches of peeling paint. The elm wood, which made up the pillars of the room, was rustic and firm. On the white wall, there was a hanging scroll placed upon it. Two words were written on the hanging scroll with forceful strokes: Beihai.
Plip, plop, plip, plop. The sound of raindrops falling on the eaves of the roof could be heard.
Two cups of steaming hot tea were placed on the table, separating the father and daughter sitting opposite each other.
Shi Beihai wore a blue-colored robe. His facial features bore a resemblance to Shi Xueman’s, but his expression was grave and stern, looking as if he was carved out of a coarse boulder. His neatly trimmed beard exuded vigor and hardiness.
Looking at his daughter who bore a resemblance to himself, Shi Beihai could not help but think of his late wife. Her gaze had been much gentler and more heartwarming. He picked up the cup of tea and took a sip. The aromatic bitterness of the tea diffused in his mouth. If his wife was still alive, she would definitely not have wanted him to raise Shi Xueman like this.
Shi Xueman did not drink the tea. Her father liked bitter tea, the most bitter kind. She was not used to drinking bitter tea as she preferred sweet-tasting tea.
"How do you feel about Duanmu Huanghun?" Shi Beihai suddenly asked.
"Little Brother Huanghun?" Shi Xueman though of the rumors that had been circulating around and seemed to understand what was going on. "Don’t tell me the Elders Guild is trying to matchmake me with him?"
"Someone mentioned it." Shi Beihai nodded.
"I’m not interested," Shi Xueman replied bluntly.
"Got it." Shi Beihai took another sip of tea and cast a glance at his daughter. Even though his daughter had concealed her anger rather well, he could still sense it.
He smiled in his heart while his face had a nonchalant look. "I have already dispatched the guy who mentioned it to the front line."
Shi Xueman felt a hint of warmth in her heart, but was also slightly worried at the same time. "Will anyone say that you are disregarding the general interest?"
She disliked office politics, but that did not mean that she did not knew what was going on among the higher-ups of the Avalon of Five Elements.
"I am Shi Beihai."
His indifferent tone contained an overwhelming aura of dominance.
He was more than qualified to say such words. Ever since the Thirteen Divisions had collapsed, the status and importance of division leaders had far surpassed what they had been in the past.
Even though the Avalon of Five Elements preserved the organizational structure of Mountain King, Lordsand, Icy Flames, Ardent Flower, Deathgrass, and Truewood, these six divisions only remained in name and had died out in reality. Meanwhile, assassination attempts had been launched on the division leaders of the remaining North Sea, Rainbow Raiment, Sky Edge, and Infantry not too long after the blood catastrophe broke out. Only the division leaders of the North Sea and Rainbow Raiment Divisions had survived the assassination attempts. The division leader of the Sky Edge Division had been killed while the Infantry Division’s division leader was severely injured and had yet to recover. The strength of the four divisions had reduced significantly.
The vice-division leaders suffered an even more terrible fate. Four of the vice-division leaders were either severely injured or dead.
The only thing that set the Elder Guilds at ease was that three central divisions were still completely intact. Otherwise, the Avalon of Five Elements would not know how to withstand the military offensive of the Blood of God.
Shi Beihai then continued, "We shall leave the issue of political marriage to the Elders Guild. For now, you have to make some preparations. I have decided to let you lead the diplomatic mission this time around."
"Why? I’m not good at negotiating." Shi Xueman was slightly puzzled.
Indeed, Shi Xueman was not good at negotiating. She was better at fighting while risking her life with real swords and spears on the battlefield.
"The one leading Blood of God’s diplomatic mission is She Yu. As such, I thought you might be interested in going."
Upon hearing the name She Yu, Shi Xueman nodded without any hesitation. "I will go!"
She had been through many battles in the past three years, but her most memorable one was still the Battle of Central Pine City. Even when she thought about it now, her body would tense up involuntarily. She did not know how many times she had dreamt of Ai Hui kneeling in front of that grave in the torrential rain.
Shi Xueman could not forgive She Yu for taking advantage of Ai Hui’s misfortune at the most critical juncture.
When Shi Xueman returned to her room, she sat in front of the window and stared blankly at the sky.
After a while, she walked to the message tree in the courtyard and fixed her eyes on the piece of age-old leaf. Numerous thoughts formed in her head, but she did not know what to say to him.
Suddenly, she broke into laughter and wrote: "When are you returning my eighty million yuan?"
She felt an indescribable joy when she thought of the image of Ai Hui being in agony after receiving the message. Every month, she would send him a message to urge him to repay the debt. This was such a great amusement for her, especially during hectic and tiring days.
Haha, money-losing deal!
To this day, Ai Hui still did not know that the ‘money-losing deal’ he had been talking about was her. She felt that she was very quick-witted. Ai Hui thought he could hide from everyone, but he did not know that the message tree he had brought with him had had one of its leaves plucked off.
Oh right, she was the one who had plucked the leaf.
However, that was not important as long as she could urge him to repay his debt!
After writing down her debt-chasing message, Shi Xueman felt her mind clear up. Right now, the Avalon of Five Elements was unstable, having both internal and external problems. As the daughter of Shi Beihai, she was also caught in the maelstrom; however, everyone knew that Shi Beihai loved his daughter. Given his domineering character, no one dared to mess with her. Even so, she still frequently felt mentally and physically exhausted.
Her father was as staunch and strong as a boulder.
Sometimes, she wondered if anyone around her was as strong as her father. Perhaps Ai Hui was the only one? She did not know when Ai Hui would be able to walk out of his nightmare.
Shi Xueman became lost in her thoughts.
Ai Hui made it back to Peace City looking travel-worn. He was soon shocked by the bustling sight before his eyes.
Did he come to the wrong place?
The outside of the city was filled with densely-packed people resembling colonies of ants. Trees were being cut down, ground was leveled, ditches were dug, and canals were built. Countless fully loaded bamboo carts were flying back and forth through the air. Heaps of items were piled everywhere.
Fortunately, Ai Hui saw some familiar faces and knew that he hadn’t come to the wrong place.
Avoiding the crowds, Ai Hui entered the city and returned to his training hall.
"Lou Lan!" Ai Hui yelled at the top of his voice.
A crowd of mini Lou Lans ran out of the house holding sand letters that were many times bigger than their body size.
The sand letters read, "Welcome back, Ai Hui."
Ai Hui burst into a hearty laughter. Seeing Lou Lan always made him happy.
The sand letters dissolved and transformed back into Lou Lan.
"What’s going on outside?" A puzzled look appeared on Ai Hui’s face. "Just now, I saw a large-scale construction happening outside. Are they trying to build something?"
"I heard they are trying to build a lesser Avalon of Five Elements, Ai Hui," Lou Lan explained. "They want to provide a place for fire elementalists, earth elementalists, and wood elementalists to train, so they are building a lesser Avalon of Five Elements. To build it, they are going to connect five cities together. Peace City and Cloud Ridge City have already been confirmed as two of the five cities."
"No wonder there are so many people." Ai Hui realized what was going on. "Peace City is too small, so they need to expand it, huh? We do need a lesser Avalon of Five Elements, otherwise everyone will leave this place. Although, Peace City will be much livelier from now on."
Three years ago, the reason he’d chosen to come to Peace City was that this place had fewer inhabitants and was quieter than other cities.
He had not expected the main trade route to pass through Peace City, making it a strategic trading hub. With Peace City now being confirmed as one of the five cities in the lesser Avalon of Five Elements, this place would definitely become more prosperous and busy in the future.
"Yes, Ai Hui. Recently, there are many foreigners pouring into Peace City," Lou Lan replied.
"Haha, we are foreigners too." Ai Hui chuckled. "Did anything happen while I was away?"
"There are three things, Ai Hui," Lou Lan replied. "The first is that a person named Fu Yongwu has requested to be your disciple. He has already been here twice."
"Fu family?" Ai Hui was slightly shocked. Touching his chin, he muttered, "What are they trying to do?"
"Lou Lan doesn’t know." Lou Lan shook his head innocently.
"He still came twice." Ai Hui pondered. "Is that considered sincere? Lou Lan, how much is our enrollment fee?"
"One thousand elemental energy points, Ai Hui."
"We are that cheap?" Ai Hui furrowed his eyebrows. With the essence elemental beans in his pouch, he no longer cared for this small amount of money. "Since he is already so old, the enrollment fee will be different for him. Ten thousand elemental energy points and two essence elemental beans."
"Alright, Ai Hui." Lou Lan did not raise any objections and continued, "Second thing, someone wants to buy our training hall. His offering price is five hundred thousand metal elemental energy points."
"Not selling!" Ai Hui rolled his eyes. "He wants to buy such a huge place for just five hundred thousand elemental energy points? Is this guy stupid? How dare he come here and try to take advantage of us!"
Ai Hui completely forgot that he’d only paid one thousand five hundred elemental energy points for this place three years ago.
This place used to be Su Qingye’s family’s warehouse, but since it was located in a secluded area, it was not used very often. At that time, Ai Hui had needed a huge place near the Silver Mist River, so he’d chosen this area.
Then, because Su Qingye’s father knew that Ai Hui had wanted to open a training hall, he’d decided to send Su Qingye to Ai Hui’s training hall. Thus, Su Qingye became Ai Hui’s first student.
After becoming a part of the lesser Avalon of Five Elements, Peace City’s status would rise sharply. One could see that Peace City would definitely become a large-sized city, as well as one of the most important cities of the Avalon of Five Elements in the future. So why did the higher-ups want Peace City to be expanded? That was because the current Peace City could no longer hold and sustain the many elementalists. The land prices in Peace City had skyrocketed an unknown number of times. Using his toes, Ai Hui could also see that land in Peace City would be extremely expensive in the future.
As such, if he sold his training hall now, wouldn’t he suffer a huge loss?
Ai hui definitely would not agree to a bad deal.
"Alright, Ai Hui." Lou Lan completely agreed with Ai Hui and continued, "Third, the message tree has a new message for Ai Hui."
"Who sent the message? What does it say?" Ai Hui asked casually.
"Miss Debt," Lou Lan replied cheerfully. "She asked about when you are going to return the eighty million yuan."
Ai Hui’s face turned ashen in an instant. "This money-losing deal is killing me. She has to do this to me every month. This is really killing me. I shouldn’t have let her pluck that piece of leaf from the message tree."
"Ai Hui, are you trying to renege on the debt?" Lou Lan widened his eyes.
"Am I that kind of person?" Ai Hui put on a righteous front and yelled, "Tell the Fu family that the enrollment fee is four essence elemental beans! No discount!"
"Alright, Ai Hui," Lou Lan replied happily. "There’s nothing else from me. How did Ai Hui do this time around?"
It was at this moment that Ai Hui raised his eyebrows and yelled with excitement, "Ha! I made a huge gain this time around!"
"Ai Hui, really?" Lou Lan’s face was filled with surprise.
"Look, what are these?" Ai Hui smirked as he took out the things to show Lou Lan.
"Meteoric sand! Soft sand!" Lou Lan’s voice was brimming with surprise. With these two materials, his body could be upgraded substantially. Right now, his body could not keep up with the operating speed of his sand core, Midnight. He had no choice but to limit Midnight’s operating speed to a very low range.
He could be of more assistance to Ai Hui after upgrading his body!
"Are you breathless already? They are merely meteoric sand and soft sand." Ai Hui smirked and took out another object to show Lou Lan. "Look at this!"
"Sand compass!" Lou Lan’s eyes opened even wider.
Feeling pleased with himself, Ai Hui threw the sand compass at Lou Lan and said, "That’s right! However, it hasn’t been unlocked yet. I will have to depend on you to unlock it."
"No problem Ai Hui!" Lou Lan loudly acknowledged Ai Hui with the demeanor of a soldier. "Leave it to Lou Lan!"