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“I am absolutely at a loss for words,” a bewildered voice chimed from the back.
Yun Yang remained silent at her admonishment.
“Perhaps you have taken leave of your senses?” Ji Ling sighed deeply as she stood behind Yun Yang. “Still, no matter how much of a loon a person is, he still wouldn’t have done what you just did today.”
Yun Yang continued to smile but did not bother to defend himself.
“These cultivation resources that you’ve just sold could have advanced an ordinary man to the third peak. All that, for something so useless as gold!” Ji Ling stared at him as if she was looking at a slow child. “Do you not know what you have done?” Unbeknownst to her, her voice was tinged with puzzlement, doubt, anger, and overriding it all, a sense of loss and disappointment.
“Of course I do.” Yun Yang did not turn around as he continued, “You and I, we are from two very different worlds.” His tone was distant as he spoke.
Ji Ling could no longer reign in her anger and said in vexation, “I don’t understand how you could be so short-sighted! What use would you have for so much gold? Even if you could have all the gold in the world, what would you do with it? A single piece of mystical stone would be far more precious to a mystical Qi martial artist than all the gold in the world! It would be able to lend him strength and longevity, and gold certainly can’t do any of that!”
Ji Ling was breathing heavily by the time she ended her tirade, and she inhaled deeply to quell her anger, trying reigning her emotions in. “I shouldn’t be upset. This does not concern me, anyway.” Yet, Ji Ling was not able to fully calm herself down and failed utterly at maintaining a calm demeanor.
Yun Yang turned his head calmly and looked into Ji Ling’s fuming eyes. After an uncomfortable interlude, he finally spoke, in tones as chill as the grave, “What is the use of discussing this, as we are are from two totally different worlds?”
Ji Ling wisely held her tongue and waited for him to continue.
“Perhaps gold is useless to you, and you can only see value in mystical stones and crystals.” Yun Yang’s calm gaze was distant even as he looked directly at her. “But to me… the value of gold far outweighs that of mystical stones. Gold can buy rice, food, and other things that could quell hunger. I am even able to receive some change after doing so. You can’t do the same with mystical stones. Such is the difference in the way we think.”
Yun Yang attempted to conclude the dispute, “Let us not argue about this at this hour. It is late, go get some rest.” He then turned to leave.
Ji Ling threw a parting shot at him, “Then why didn’t you sell all the mystical stones and crystals? Why did you sell just half of them? Wouldn’t you have gotten more gold if you had sold them all?”
In his heart, Yun Yang laughed humorlessly.
I’d love to sell more too… if only the rest of them hadn’t been siphoned away by Emmie! Mystical stones would definitely be of use and make me stronger, but gold could feed the families of my fallen brothers! This takes precedence as I lack resources, even as I regain my powers…
Ji Ling flounced back to her room to sleep in a huff; one particular line resonated in her head as she lay on the bed.
“People from two different worlds!”
“Indeed, we are from two very different worlds.” Ji Ling was disheartened.“Our viewpoints and values are all different… Maybe he’s right, what’s there to argue about if we already know that we have such differing opinions? Sigh...”
It was late in the middle of the night when a group of a dozen men garbed all in black came silently to meet Yun Yang.
“Change all these gold to silver.” Yun Yang ordered in a low voice. His mood was foul, his gaze chilling and depthless; n.o.body could have read what was going on in his mind or how he felt. “The eight hundred families… a thousand taels of silver for each of them. Distribute it all tonight,” he continued.
“Yes, young master.”
“Subsequently, all families of warriors and veterans in Tiantang City… a hundred silver taels for every household,” Yun Yang resumed his instructions on the logistics of distribution.
“Yes, young master.”
“I presume that I won’t be forced to repeat my orders?” Yun Yang looked over at them with cold eyes that brooked no disobedience.
“We shall follow the young master’s instructions carefully. No accidents, no disputes, and no pilfering!” The masked leader of the men in black spoke in a rich, resonant voice.
“Go then.” Yun Yang then said, “One last thing. Pay heed to all that I’ve ordered; should there be anyone who violates them or chooses to ignore my warning, report him to me immediately.”
The men looked like moving shadows as they ventured back and forth to collect the heavy pieces of gold. It took a few pa.s.ses before they managed to cart a ninth of the gold away. By their estimations, a ninth portion of gold would be sufficient to carry out Yun Yang’s instructions accurately.
Yun Yang left the remainder of his treasure lying in the yard and returned to his room.
Under the cold, sterile moonlight, the backyard of the Residence of Yun was warmly illuminated by the bright reflections of gold.
The night pa.s.sed without incident. The next morning, Ji Ling had regained her temper as she stayed in her room and trained the young Silvermoon Celestial Wolf, not inclined to venture out and risking an encounter with Yun Yang. Yun Yang, pleased with his newfound peace, went to check on his critically injured patient before he proceeded to cultivate and practice with the saber. He had planted the seeds of turmoil and trouble would come anytime now.
Yun Yang intended to be prepared for it when it arrived.
Old Marshal Qiu Jianhan had just finished attending the imperial court meeting and had returned to his residence with a heavy heart.
The imperial court meeting was abuzz with news on the enemy states, the Empire of Dongxuan and Empire of Dayuan were both ready to make their move; their target was naturally the Empire of Yutang, the largest prize in the collective eyes of all the empires.
The prospect of war had been smoldering for years and had not lost any measure of heat. If the coals were to burst into flames, it would not be a pleasant prospect for the Empire of Yutang…
Old Marshal Qiu Jianhan sighed and turned towards the sky.
“Marshal, something strange has happened again last night.”
An advisor in the residence, as well as the Old Marshal’s close comrade, Sir w.a.n.g came walking in with a smile, his face calm and gentle. “What do you think it could be?”
Old Marshal Qiu sighed, “I am an inch away from boiling and you’re asking me to play guessing games?”
“What is it?”
Sir w.a.n.g could tell that the old marshal was not in the best state of mind today; he summoned up a serious mien and explained, “The whole of Tiantang City experienced a night of falling gold once again..”
Old Marshal Qiu’s eyes shone with curiosity, “Hmm?”
“The families of the eight hundred warriors who followed the Nine Supremes to war last year; more than half of them had a large amount of silver appearing at their home. They were there when they woke up, and no one knows where it came from.” Sir w.a.n.g described slowly.
“It has happened once again…” The old marshal’s eyes were alight at the bizarreness of the incident.
“It doesn’t stop there. A number of families of the warriors and veterans also had silver materializing at their houses as if a generous benefactor was giving them out…” Sir w.a.n.g was clearly captivated with delight.
Old Marshal Qiu Jianhan’s eyes shone even brighter, “Brother w.a.n.g, from what you have seen… could it be that… someone from the Nine Supremes is still alive?”
Sir w.a.n.g briefly pondered upon it and replied, “This does not prove with and certainty that anyone from the Nine Supremes is still alive. Nonetheless, the possibility is there and remarkably large at that.”
The first half of his conclusion dimmed the old marshal’s gaze, but the flames in his eyes roared again when he heard the latter half.
“It’s obvious, however, that this generous philanthropist does not wish to be identified,” Sir w.a.n.g said thoughtfully.
Old Marshal Qiu Jianhan sighed and replied, “The death of the Nine Supremes is a colossal conspiracy. Our investigation didn’t yield anything substantial, even with the entire nation involved. If this person were really one of the Nine Supremes, or even related to them, would they dare expose themselves?”
He waved his hand tiredly, “Let us do what we’ve always done; close one eye and don’t ask any questions. When the situation permits, remove all traces of this incident!”
Sir w.a.n.g nodded, “Agreed!”
“Let all traces of hints stop right here,” the old marshal sighed, his tone despairing but resolute.
Sir w.a.n.g replied, “I have already issued the order.”
Old Marshal Qiu closed his eyes in a rush of sadness and spoke softly, “Are any of the nine of you still living? Even if you are hiding, I would hope that you would come speak to me…”
“This old man misses you…”
Old Marshal Qiu had his eyes shut tightly, but traces of tears could be still seen in his countenance.
Sir w.a.n.g sighed inwardly and took his leave soundlessly. Just as he got to the door, he suddenly remembered something and turned about, “Marshal, about the mystical beasts tournament that is to be held in Tiantang City by the influential families…”
With eyes still closed, Qiu Jianhan waved his hand in dismissal and said with a tired voice, “Let them be.”
Sir w.a.n.g knew well enough that Old Marshal Qiu was reluctant to say anything more but he could not help but add, “Rumor has it that just yesterday, Marquis Yun’s young master, Yun Yang, got into a conflict with members of the Ximen family in the mystical beasts market. It was said that he almost won almost everything from the young master of the Ximen family on a wager...”
Old Marshal Qiu Jianhan groaned once more, “This too… just let them be. Since when did Marquis Yun’s young master bother to show himself in Tiantang City in these past few years? Let Marquis Yun handle this himself.”
Sir w.a.n.g had thought about it and wanted to comment that this incident was a pa.s.sing strange, but looking at the old marshal’s exhausted state, he kept his opinions to himself and left.
After today, he would not be taking note of these small matters anymore – a wealthy popinjay of Tiantang City and a wealthy popinjay of the Ximen family… how much trouble could they possibly get into?
Heavy breathing could be heard from the room on the east side of the residence. It was the injured man controlling his breathing and flow of his mystical Qi in an attempt to heal himself.
Yun Yang was not at all surprised by this and remained unmoved.
Another door opened and Lao Mei walked out with a spring in his step.
“Have you managed to break through?”
“Not just yet. But that half a step has already been taken.” Lao Mei was thrilled, “I shall be able to move forward within half a month! I would like to acc.u.mulate more practice so when I advance I could push myself forward a bit further.”
Yun Yang nodded.
Pushing through the bottleneck was only half the battle; once the feeling was there, the breakthrough would not be difficult. The crucial part was to prepare for the accelerated improvement in cultivation base once the breakthrough had been achieved.
This particular accelerated improvement would have to depend on acc.u.mulated practice as Yun Yang no longer had any spiritual medicine that could strengthen one’s foundation and increase one’s energy; allowing him to improve by leaps and bounds.
“Young master, the injured man… does not look like he will be a simple problem,” Lao Mei spoke in a deliberately lowered voice.
“He isn’t.” Yun Yang nodded in agreement.
“Young master, are you looking to form… an alliance?” Lao Mei probed, “Or do you wish to… subdue him?”
Yun Yang smiled coldly. “This alliance that you hint at will never be forged.”
Lao Mei was puzzled by this. “I beg your pardon?”
Yun Yang shook his head. This man had put his life on the line and risked everything to acquire four ninth level mystical beast babies, but they were now in Yun Yang’s possession. How could he possibly be willing to form an alliance in good faith? When the man recovered his ability, he would most probably exact his revenge and forcibly attempt to make away with his treasures.
“I only wish to rein him in for my disposal.” Yun Yang was brutally honest in his speech, “I am lacking in manpower right now.”
Lao Mei then asked, “What would happen if he refuses to submit to you?”
Yun Yang looked at Lao Mei, his eyes crinkling with mirth as he spoke slowly, “What do you think?”
Lao Mei could only feel the faint tingle of fear all over his body as if a snowy breeze blew straight through him, the chill settling straight into his bones.
“If young master wishes to subdue him...” Lao Mei suggested, “Now would be the best time, as he is grievously injured, and incapacitated.”
Yun Yang shook his head, speaking confidently, “This tactic is inappropriate against such an expert. I will need a more intricate method.”
Yun Yang chuckled inwardly, “An expert who could venture in and out of the mystical beast forest alone, an expert who could fight and perhaps overcome a ninth level mystical beast… how would it possible to have him submit with this petty favor?”
“A more intricate plot?” Lao Mei was confused.
Yun Yang grinned, “The idea of servitude as a reward for saving a life… Lao Mei, such stories would only exist in myths. Let us take you as an example. You were near death from sustaining heavy injuries and someone has saved you. Would you agree to be a slave at his house as a form of reward?”
“Therefore, a myth is but a myth and a story is but a story. We shouldn’t be so naïve as to believe in such things.”
Yun Yang’s expression conveyed a myriad of meanings as he smiled.