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Chapter 414 - The Zhao Family
Of course, everyone knew that the previous bids were just to test the water. Whomever these fifty Qi Generating Pills belonged to in the end couldn’t be determined in a short while.
Not long after, the price soared to three hundred million yuan and above. It was also at this time that the shouts of bids gradually slowed.
However, Gu Zuo’s attention wasn’t on the auction.
In actuality, their group had been looking at that man who shared an eighty percent resemblance with his father. The main objective for selling medicinal pills had already been achieved.
Taking advantage of the fact that numerous ancient martial artists were focused on the auction, Gu Zuo waved a hand to Tian Hang, and called him over.
Although Tian Hang was paying attention to the atmosphere of the auction, when all was said and done, he was still primarily responsible for winning over Gu Zuo. Thus, the moment Gu Zuo voiced a request, he swiftly got closer: “Mister Gu, do you have any instructions?”
Gu Zuo quietly pointed in a certain direction: “Are you familiar with that person?”
Tian Hang blanked, but quickly looked over. In a moment, he peered at that rather handsome-looking man. He soon searched for the memory in his mind, and nodded his head: “I recognize him. That person is called Zhao Hewei. He’s part of a cadet branch of the ancient martial aristocratic family known as the Zhao Family.”
Gu Zuo’s heart turned cold: “Zhao? Which ‘Zhao’ character?”
Tian Hang felt a little baffled: “It’s the Zhao character in the saying, To besiege Wei and rescue Zhao.”
In fact, Gu Zuo realized that he was thinking about the wrong character the moment he spoke. It was only because he was too sensitive to that person’s appearance… Indeed, which ‘Zhao’ could it have been?
He thought about it, and said: “Is Mister Tian able to tell me the situation of this ancient martial aristocratic family in detail?”
Tian Hang saw that Gu Zuo seemed to be very interested, and explained to him: “Actually, our ancient martial artist circles have been developing amid the rivers and lakes since ancient times, and there are inst.i.tutions and aristocratic families that have persevered with their ancient martial arts. But generally speaking, the inheritances of the sects and schools are relatively easy, so their time surviving in the world is very long. However, even if it’s like this, there have been countless inst.i.tutions that have drowned under the waters of history. To say nothing of those who have relied completely on the aristocratic families.
“Among the ancient martial aristocratic families, not only are the martial disciplines pa.s.sed down to men and not women, one also needs children within that aristocratic family to have the apt.i.tudes to study martial arts. Consequently, the true ancient martial aristocratic families that have survived until now are the Zhao Family, Fang Family, and Ou Family. Just these three aristocratic families.”
Gu Zuo nodded his head: “Among these three families, has only the Zhao Family come?”
Tian Hang replied: “No, the Fang and Ou Families have similarly sent people over. Although the ancient martial aristocratic families are, for the most part, arrogant and haughty, their sense of smell is quite sharp.”
Gu Zuo simply said: “Mister Tian, please tell me the general affairs of these ancient martial aristocratic families — I am especially interested in the Zhao Family.”
Tian Hang’s heart lurched.
He recalled what this esteemed Mister Gu said previously. After the public auction, he was going to select some people who were pleasing to his eyes to sell some more Qi Generating Pills… Could it be that the Zhao Family was one of them?
Tian Hang didn’t like the Zhao Family at all. While he didn’t intend to praise the Zhao Family, because he considered that Gu Zuo wouldn’t be easily fooled, he didn’t deliberately slander them either. After a moment of pondering, he slowly said: “I previously mentioned that it’s incredibly hard to receive the aristocratic families’ inheritances. Thus, the Fang and Ou Families have strived to change in the wake of the developing times. For example, women have been allowed to inherit, certain outsiders have been adopted and given family names, and there have been collaborations between some ancient martial arts inst.i.tutions. Everything has been for the sake of pa.s.sing down the families’ martial disciplines. The only family that has stuck to tradition to the point of severity is the Zhao Family.”
Listening up to this point, Gu Zuo suddenly had a feeling. He couldn’t help but ask: “How severe are their ways?”
Tian Hang said: “The fact that only males can inherit doesn’t need to be mentioned. In the past, basically all of the ancient martial aristocratic families were like this. However, the Zhao Family has another strict rule. The children of the main wife can inherit, but not the children of the concubines. Moreover, the Zhao Family is unusually picky about the life history of the rightful heir’s birth mother. Even until now, they still keep the marriage style of one wife and many concubines.”
Gu Zuo was slightly dumbfounded.
From all of this, he seemed to pick up on something.
— Tian Hang’s following words confirmed his way of thinking.
All of the Zhao Family’s daughters were married off to foreigners. Their purpose was to form political connections through marriage or to intermingle the bloodlines. Meanwhile, among the Zhao Family’s sons, only those the true wife gave birth to had the qualifications to learn the martial skills pa.s.sed down within the family. As for the sons of concubines, maidservants, or outsiders, none of them had this authority — After they were born, they could only be relegated to the cadet branches.
Gu Zuo furrowed his brows: “In that case, if the true wife doesn’t have any sons…”
There was a trace of disdain in Tian Hang’s eyes: “If the true wife doesn’t produce any sons within three years, she will be cast aside, and the Zhao Family patriarch will simply remarry. Normally, some households have relaxed this aspect to a certain extent. They might not remarry, and will simply raise the status of a concubine who has a son to that of a wife. As such, the concubine will become the true wife, and her son will naturally become the rightful heir.
“However, the Zhao Family’s patriarch will continue to remarry under the condition that the true wife bears no sons. Moreover, the remarried wife must have an impeccable family background that’s as clear as ice and clean as jade, and her smaller household must have some strength. But even if she’s a pretty daughter from a humble family, they won’t necessarily look upon her favorably.”
In short, with this move, the Zhao Family’s lineage stretched unbroken for many years, but it wasn’t known how many good women were ruined because of this. In modern times, it got better. The so-called “casting aside” became divorce. Once divorced, the woman could still look for a second spring. Yet during olden times, if the true wife was cast aside and her biological parents loved her dearly, she might do well. But if her family was cold and detached, she would usually end up with a miserable fate.
Of course, the kind of household that would marry off their daughters to the Zhao Family were, for the most part, no good. After that, the number of miserable women only increased.
As Gu Zuo listened, he felt a little disgusted.
Since only the male children born from the wife were able to inherit, wouldn’t it make sense to not marry any concubines? Having concubines aside, it was terrible enough the way they treated the wife. Moreover, since the family rules were so harsh, even more young girls were harmed. They should’ve thought of a way for the children to change ident.i.ties for a satisfactory ending for everyone. As it happened, they still wanted to find unlucky girls… Which girl was willing to be treated like a child-birthing machine?! If they couldn’t give birth to a son, they were thrown out like garbage. It was really too much.
Gu Zuo forcibly restrained his rising nausea, and continued to discreetly ask for information: “Since that Zhao Hewei is part of the cadet branches, what’s his ident.i.ty?”
It was clear that Tian Hang had an understanding of these things: “Zhao Hewei is a concubine’s son of this generation. Right now, he’s thirty-five or thirty-six years old. In terms of ancient martial arts, he has some skill. His father, Zhao Hongying, is the current head of the household, but that guy doesn’t have any capability at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Zhao Family didn’t have any rightful heirs except for him, the position of family head probably wouldn’t have been pa.s.sed on to him.”
Gu Zuo nodded his head.
It looked like this Zhao Hongying didn’t have the least bit of skill. Otherwise, it would’ve been impossible for even Tian Hang, a person of a lower family hierarchy, to look down upon him like this.
Tian Hang continued to talk: “In his early years, Zhao Hongying married quite a few wives in a row. Unfortunately, not a single one gave birth to a son. On the contrary, he was promiscuous and loose outside, and left behind a slew of b.a.s.t.a.r.d sons. Zhao Hewei is one of them. However, his last wife was thrown out by him about a dozen years ago. After that, he had an endless parade of beauties by his side, but he never remarried again. Some say that no women were willing to marry him, but others say that his thoughts were constantly preoccupied by his final wifek2026;”
As Gu Zuo heard this, his complexion gradually turned grave.
Later on, when Tian Hang mentioned some pieces of information about the Fang and Ou Families, Gu Zuo only listened halfheartedly without paying too much attention. It was because he keenly sensed something. It was the time when the last wife was cast aside — A little more than ten years.
It was just that something else happened a little more than ten years ago. His father was taken away.
Zhao Hewei and Gu Zuo’s father shared such a resemblance. Who could say that they weren’t biological siblings?
For example, half brothers who both looked like their father…
After this conjecture appeared in his heart, Gu Zuo wanted this public auction to finish a bit quicker.
Right at this time, Tian Hang finished talking about the information related to the ancient martial aristocratic families. He suddenly asked: “Mister Gu… Is the Zhao Family pleasing to your eyes?”
Gu Zuo stared blankly. Then, he recalled the words he spoke previously.
He lightly shook his head, and divulged: “Definitely not. Perhaps, on the contrary, there’s a grievance.”
Once he finished speaking, Gu Zuo couldn’t help smiling at Tian Hang’s pensive look.
He thought: The Tian Family will certainly do some careful pondering.
While Gu Zuo was making discreet inquiries, the public auction’s three rounds had already ended.
The first round sold for the high price of 350 million yuan, the second round was 380 million yuan, and the third round directly reached 420 million yuan! The price of one set was higher than the next. It was because the numerous ancient martial artists knew that, as time went on, the possibility of obtaining anything would become increasingly uncertain.
These sums of money were sent to Gu Zuo in the forms of bank checks. As for those three gourds, they were delivered to the corresponding ancient martial artist organizations by members of the Tian Family.
The Ancient Martial Artists a.s.sociation won two gourds. The other one was won jointly by several forces working together. Afterwards, the distribution would be based on the funds paid by each organization.
However, although the proposal between the Tian Family and Gu Zuo had been as fair and reasonable as possible, not all of the thirty-five organizations that ultimately came here were satisfied.
After all, they came with different mentalities and preparations, so the outcomes they obtained were no more than this.
Merely, there was nothing to be done.
The three types of sales were concluded. But regardless of whether the ancient martial artists were satisfied or not, none of them gave up on catching Gu Zuo’s attention.
At this moment, the Tian Family prepared a huge banquet of top-notch dishes, which were delivered to each of the eight-seated square tables. As for those prestigious figures sitting on the decoratively-carved thrones, arrangements were made at an even bigger table.
Although everyone knew that this time’s small gathering was for the sake of experiencing the Qi Generating Pills, they couldn’t just leave after buying the pills. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be too impolite?
Most of all, the Tian Family had subtly divulged that there were still some pills kept in Mister Gu’s possession, which were reserved for the ancient martial artists he found pleasing to his eyes — They would have to fight hard for it.
Thus, the Tian Family held a banquet to receive these guests, and the ancient martial artists followed the program.
This program was naturally the sparring between each of the schools and sects.
After the meal, the venue was tidied up. All of the inst.i.tutions sent out their disciples to show off their talents and abilities. With back and forth exchanges, the fights were incredibly lively!
Gu Zuo understood these people’s goals, and acted like he was taking things very seriously as he watched the martial arts compet.i.tion on the side. Every now and then, he spoke a few words to Gongyi Tianheng. While he sometimes seemed to be in the middle of commenting, it also appeared that he was merely chatting and smiling.
There were a couple ancient martial artists who wanted to know what they were talking about. Unfortunately, no matter how much they p.r.i.c.ked their ears or strained their eyes, they couldn’t decipher a single syllable.
Of course, Tianheng really was observing the spars between these ancient martial artists. He wanted to appreciate the differences in cultivation styles of another world’s martial artists. Perhaps, it would deepen his understanding of his own path of martial arts. However, Gu Zuo had just told Tianheng about his conjecture.
Tianheng said: “Ah Zuo, maybe we can start with the origins of Zhao Hongying’s first few wives.”
Gu Zuo narrowed his eyes in deep consideration: “After that, if the Tian Family is interested, we can let them take action.”
The capabilities of the Tian Family were still comparatively large. They also had the help of the Schools of Fist Intent and the Great Saber. Now that they found clues, there wasn’t any need to contact more people. This was to avoid beating the gra.s.s and startling the snake — Only if the Tian Family and those two schools couldn’t handle the job would it be necessary to find replacements. And currently, they only needed to make preparations and wait patiently.
Just as expected, it didn’t take long for Tian Mu to quietly come to the pair’s side.
The Tian Family Head handled matters decisively with the style of a solider. At this time, he didn’t talk nonsense with them. Rather, after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he went straight to the point: “If Mister Gu doesn’t mind, the Tian Family is willing to resolve any worries on this sir’s behalf.”
Gu Zuo smiled: “Even if that means offending the Zhao Family?”
Tian Mu bluntly said: “The School of Fist Intent and the School of the Great Saber will only follow Mister Gu.”
Gu Zuo was delighted. Hence, his words also carried some happiness: “I want the information of the women the Zhao Family previously married. The more comprehensive their experiences, the better. In addition, I also want to know the details on why the Zhao Family suddenly stopped taking wives a little more than ten years ago.”
This matter was simple to talk about, but once anyone started investigating, it would become very complicated. After all, it had been too long, and many clues had vanished in the long river of time. It would be quite difficult to expose anything again. However, the Tian Family and the two inst.i.tutions had long grown deep roots in B City. If they truly wanted to take action, it wasn’t impossible.
Therefore, Tian Mu straightforwardly responded: “My Tian Family will certainly handle this matter well. Even if we’re discovered by the Zhao Family, my Tian Family will be able to mediate any conflicts in advance.”
Gu Zuo also knew that, once the Tian Family started investigating, there was a possibility of alerting the Zhao Family. But as far as he was concerned, letting the Tian Family investigate was merely for the sake of guarding against any off-chance threats. He wanted to use peaceful methods to resolve any problems as much as possible — After all, at the present time, they weren’t able to leave this world.
However, if it truly reached the point that violence couldn’t be avoided, with his and his big brother’s martial strength, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Tian Mu nodded at Gu Zuo, and turned around to depart.
Meanwhile, Gu Zuo silently placed a jade bottle in Tian Mu’s hand.
Tian Mu looked back.
Gu Zuo smiled and said: “This is a down payment.”
Tian Mu’s gaze faintly shined. The radiance in his eyes became even more resolute.
Inside the jade bottle were as many as five Qi Generating Pills. If they did well, the subsequent rewards would be…
After matters were handed over to the Tian Family, Gu Zuo set aside those thoughts for the time being. He called over Tian Hang, and spoke a few more words to him. Tian Hang summoned some members of the Tian Family, and Gu Zuo placed a token in each person’s hands.
Shortly thereafter, these younger generations of the Tian Family went to find the corresponding ancient martial artist inst.i.tutions recorded on those tokens. As for those schools and sects, every single one showed happy expressions — With these tokens, they could purchase up to ten Qi Generating Pills, and send the checks to Tian Hang.
After a short moment pa.s.sed, Gu Zuo had some of the Tian Family’s children deliver tiny paper bags to several ancient martial artists who had already finished sparring. Inside each of those paper bags was one Qi Generating Pill.
A while later, a few inst.i.tutions and even individuals got their own tokens. It was just that this time’s token could only be used to buy up to five Qi Generating Pills…
Gradually, many previously disappointed sects and schools purchased some medicinal pills, and everyone was satisfied.
Likewise, there were also some organizations that didn’t receive anything. There were about a dozen of these forces. Included among them was the Zhao Family.
Those with discerning eyes could tell that many of these organizations were inst.i.tutions whose disciples acted deceitfully or ruthlessly. Some people felt that, although this Mister Gu was somewhat avaricious, he was someone with magnanimity and good character.
During this period, some came to chat with Gu Zuo, but he only went through the motions. The ancient martial artists noticed that he didn’t have any intentions of building deep friendships, so they turned to talk with the people who accompanied him. The ones they sought after the most were naturally Tianheng and Gu Qi. However, while Tianheng similarly wore a smile, the expression in his eyes was distant and estranged. As for Gu Qi, he had been pulled over to Gu Zuo’s side, and it seemed that they were in the middle of discussing something.
Thus, these ancient martial artists could only go look for the Zhang Family’s grandfather and grandson.
The main reason why the Zhang Family’s leaders came here was to make friends with ancient martial artists. As for the ancient martial artists, they wanted to scout for information from the Zhang Family and deepen their relationships with Gu Zuo… It could be said that both sides marched to the beats of the same drum, and their talks went smoothly.
On the other side of things, the spars between those younger generations were still ongoing.
Once the martial arts compet.i.tion was over, almost everyone had enjoyed themselves to the fullest. Numerous ancient martial artists bade farewells one after another, wanting to leave the ancient castle.
It was also at this time that something unexpected happened.
At this point, it ought to be mentioned — Because it was a small gathering of ancient martial artists, and their strengths were far from ordinary, the Tian Family naturally didn’t station any defending troops with heavy firepower to avoid causing a misunderstanding. Otherwise, what were they supposed to do if the ancient martial artists believed that it was a provocation or a trap?
Moreover, everyone felt that, when there were so many ancient martial artists at the venue, their safety and security was all but guaranteed! What did they need firepower for? Ancient martial artists were very prideful, too!
As a result, just when everyone congregated together and reached the entrance, a strong wind blew past.
Killing intent was carried within this strong wind. The numerous ancient martial artists were startled. Naturally, they hurriedly scattered in all directions to evade it. However, no one expected that within this small gathering, where everyone was a leading figure or honored personage, someone would actually throw out a bomb!
This bomb was quite ordinary. It didn’t go so far as to blow up this many ancient martial artists in the same blast. The sole person it targeted was precisely Gu Zuo, who was talking with Tianheng!
As for the person who threw this bomb, he had an unfamiliar face — He seemed to be following one of the inst.i.tutions here, but none of the sects or schools at the venue recognized him as their own disciple.
As such, how did he come in? Did he stay hidden all this time, and only came out to launch an ambush now?
It was too late to say anything.
Although the body techniques of the crowd of ancient martial artists were fast, no one antic.i.p.ated that the other party would want to attack Gu Zuo. Since their first reaction was to dodge, it was too late to rush over for a rescue.
Meanwhile, Gu Zuo, Tianheng, and their group of people were still standing in the same place. Didn’t they have any intention of dodging?
Subconsciously, many ancient martial artists felt regret in their hearts. They still wanted to make friends with Gu Zuo, and obtain even more Qi Generating Pills! There were also some ancient martial artists who were secretly happy. It was because they thought that Gu Zuo’s position in the world of martial arts would inevitably rise after this event. They had already obtained so many pills, and they didn’t want this kind of “extraordinary” person to press down on their heads.
But the very next moment, they couldn’t help widening their eyes. They revealed expressions of disbelief!
Originally, everyone thought that the bomb was going to blow these people to smithereens. As it turned out, Tianheng, who hadn’t moved from his spot, slightly swayed.
With this swaying motion, Tianheng’s body instantaneously appeared in front of that bomb flying through the air — He didn’t actually intend to use his physical body to block the attack and sacrifice himself for others. Instead, he reached out, and caught the bomb in his hand!
But so long as this bomb was activated, even if it was caught midair, it would still explode. Although it had been thrown with the form of a concealed weapon like darts or needles, it wasn’t a genuine concealed weapon!
Thus, it swiftly exploded into a gigantic display of “fireworks”. Unfortunately, the instant the fireworks blast appeared, it was like it had been captured by a huge, invisible hand before being squeezed into a gale-like aftershock that spilled all over the place.
However, apart from an incredibly large force, this aftershock only blew people’s hair and billowed their clothes. It couldn’t cause any harm to anyone.
Grabbing a bomb with one’s bare hands… This was just too incomprehensible!
The gazes that all the ancient martial artists used to look at Tianheng changed.
The highest they could reach was Transformed Energy, but not even Transformed Energy ancient martial artists could directly face an exploding bomb. If they came across this situation, they would certainly be blown up without leaving behind a skeleton.
As such, what realm was Gongyi Tianheng?
Could it be that he was someone who hadn’t appeared in the world for many years — The Broken Void Realm? According to legends, there really were Broken Void powerhouses, but the last step wasn’t crossed so easily. The last one to appear was almost a hundred years ago.
Yet, Tianheng looked so young… Perhaps, he wasn’t actually young, but an old ghost who had recovered his youthful vigor after attaining Broken Void?
Countless notions came and went during this time.
However, there was no need for doubt. No one dared to rashly inquire.
At almost the exact same time, Tianheng reached out his hand again, and made a grasping motion in another direction.
The location he grabbed was where the bomb came from. Originally, the person of interest wanted to fish in troubled waters. He tossed out the bomb, and ran away. He had already been running for quite a distance when he suddenly felt a layer of extremely terrifying power wrap around his body. Moreover, under the effects of this great power, his entire body moved involuntarily, and flew back to the castle!
That person’s sluggish features finally exposed a frightened expression.
Inwardly, he bitterly cursed in his heart. He was only afraid that he would be forced to confess, and would suffer a miserable and inhumane experience.
But facts proved that this person was overthinking it.
Tianheng didn’t have any intentions of extorting a confession. He also didn’t particularly care about the instigators behind this fellow.
Once this person was caught and dragged back by that wisp of power, the energy was withdrawn when he was only halfway there. He fell heavily to the ground.
Soon after, everyone watched as —
Tianheng smashed down with a palm from high in the sky.
In the blink of an eye, that person’s head was crushed to a pulp like a watermelon!
Red and white brain matter splattered and flowed along the ground.
There was a pall of deathly stillness.
All the ancient martial artists couldn’t help but remain silent.
A good while later, some people reacted. This Gongyi Tianheng didn’t have any qualms whatsoever, and brazenly killed in front of everyone!
Was he confident, or…
But no matter what, with the strength Tianheng currently displayed, he really didn’t need to worry too much about anything.
The Tian Family members were the first to respond. Right away, they sent people out to drag the corpse away and clean up the mess.
The other ancient martial artists’ complexions were complicated, but no one dared to reveal any malicious intentions.
T/N: Username Lin Xue Lian created an amazing piece of art — It’s Gongyi Tianheng and Gu Zuo! For more artwork like this, you can follow them on twitter and pixiv.
Thanks for the corrections, Charysa.
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