From the very moment Bai Yunfei first laid his eyes on Cheng Huayu, Bai Yunfei felt that this man didn't look all too friendly. He was more unfriendly than not, but Bai Yunfei could 'understand' that much. If he was all smiles to the one who nearly crippled his son, Cheng Huayu would be a terrible father.
In response to being introduced by Wu Hong, Cheng Huayu looked up to gave a small quirk of his lips to 'smile', albeit a slightly more cold one than friendly.
Knowing what could possibly happen if he answered wrong, Bai Yunfei nodded his head calmly. "If this junior may report, Your Majesty, there was indeed something between Cheng Xin and I. He provoked me twice, so I taught him a slight lesson."
Everyone froze at his words, Cheng Huayu most of all. Startled along with Cheng Yao, both of the two gave Bai Yunfei a stare that had a cold light in them.
Wu Hong included, everyone thought that Bai Yunfei would try to be as polite as possible to say this was a 'misunderstanding' or 'apologize' when this topic was brought up. None of them thought that Bai Yunfei would be adamant in his response.
'I did hit him, but he deserved it.'
"Hmph!! A slight lesson?! The bones in both my son's arm have been fractured into pieces. It'll take many months before he'll regain full usage of them. Do you think that to be a slight lesson?!" Cheng Huayu sneered at the 'arrogance' of Bai Yunfei's words. "Bai Yunfei! Don't think you can afford to get away with being excessive with your status! The house of Cheng might not be as impressive as your Crafting School, but we will not stand to be bullied by anyone!"
"Excessive?" The smile on Bai Yunfei's face widened by a bit. "Does Minister Cheng think my actions were excessive? Do you know what your son was trying to do? He went after my life upon our first meeting. I was kind enough to punish him slightly for that knowing that he was your son. He did heal in a few short days after that, did he not? Then the second time….he and a few others were in the Training Forest to wantonly kill several soulbeasts. They were even planning to kill one of my soulbeast friends, who wanted to eat your son if not for my intervention. In light of his status, I only injured him. If anything, you should be thanking me."
"You! You—what utter rubbish!!" Cheng Huayu stuttered in anger, "I already inquired about what happened in the villa. My son was indeed slightly in the wrong, but you were clearly pretending to be a Soul Ancestor to trick my son. You deliberately led him on and injured him! If you didn't hide your strength, would my son really try to make life difficult for you?!"
"Oh?? Do you mean, then, Minister Cheng—that if I was a weak and ordinary Soul Ancestor, I should've allowed myself to be killed by your son?" Bai Yunfei sneered back. "Me deliberately pretending to be a Soul Ancestor? I am free to hide my strength if I choose to. Not seeing how strong I am is a fault in the eyes of your son and his guards. Furthermore, I was never one that'd use the name of my master or elsewise to threaten others."
"You—!" Cheng Huayu was at a loss for words. This was the first anyone had ever talked back to him in such a fashion. As the minister of the empire, how could he be treated elsewise other than with respect? But now, a mere Soul Exalt from the younger generation was mockingly refuting every single point he was trying to make in this debate. It was making him furious.
The others were watching this exchange with different emotions. Wu Hong and Wu Hao were both looking on with a calm, but strange look at Bai Yunfei. Wu Ren was sighing to himself, thinking that Bai Yunfei wasn't a very flexible person with how he was acting in this situation. Wu Yang on the other hand, was looking on with interest.
On the other hand, Cheng Yao was staring at Bai Yunfei with a strange glint in his eyes, though the emotions on his face were practically nonexistent.
"Brother Bai's words are quite rational. It was my third brother that failed to see the truth of the matter, and his punishment by your hands, brother Bai, was a good lesson. He should take this lesson to heart and know that there are people in this world that he shouldn't anger."
Two seconds while Cheng Huayu was steaming to himself, Cheng Yao spoke up with a faint smile to Bai Yunfei. "My third brother has never been disciplined in his life and has always stirred up trouble. We should be in fact thanking you, brother Bai, for disciplining my insensible third brother."
This time, it was Bai Yunfei's turn to be stunned for once. The politeness of Cheng Yao's words seemed practically enigmatic to Bai Yunfei, but he somehow managed to respond. "How kind of you. As long as he keeps this lesson in mind, I believe he'll suffer less in the future. How he hasn't lost his life yet I am unsure."
"As you say, brother Bai, I hope that my third brother will have sufficiently learned his lesson and grow up." Cheng Yao's lips twitched upwards. "I only just came back to the Capital two days ago, but even then, I've heard of how strong you are, brother Bai. Is it true that you defeated an early-stage Soul King?"
"An early-stage Soul King was indeed killed by me a while ago, but that was in part due to having a class seven soulbeast help out."
Cheng Yao was talking about what happened the night of when Bai Yunfei came out from Casino Jin. What happened in Baishan City was known to only a select few, and Bai Yunfei had no desire to show off that feat either.
Relying on a class seven soulbeast to kill an early-stage Soul King wasn't anything special. That was what Cheng Yao had heard, and like many others, that was what he felt about the situation.
"I've heard that brother Bai is a late-stage Soul Exalt that can defeat even a peak late-sage Soul Exalt with ease. With your arsenal of powerful soulbound armaments, even those the same level as you are unable to win. How admirable."
Bai Yunfei narrowed his eyes, there was something strange to his words. "The rumors are exaggerated. I am nowhere as amazing as they say I am. I am only fortunate enough to own a few decent soul armaments."
Cheng Yao smiled as if to agree with what Bai Yunfei was saying. "I have always been fascinated with the soulbound armaments of the Crafting School and wanted to see one for myself. Unfortunately, the students of your school rarely venture out from the mountain and so I've been unfortunate in not seeing one. Fortunately, you are here in the Capital, brother Bai. If I could, will you do me the honor of comparing notes with me?"
So that was his plan….
Bai Yunfei narrowed his eyes. This was what the Cheng was planning after all. They didn't outright ask for Bai Yunfei to pay the price. They were using this as an excuse to take revenge for Cheng Xin!
To ask to compare notes right in front of the empire's ruler was basically the same as forcing for a duel and then taught a lesson in front of everyone?
Was Cheng Yao that confident in his own strength?
Wu Hong hadn't even spoke since the very moment Cheng Huayu started this conversation with Bai Yunfei. Did he agree with the Cheng, then?