Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever. He ceased any pursuit of Guru Heavencloud, and looked extremely innocent and charming as he clasped hands and bowed to Patriarch Fang Shoudao.
“Junior offers greetings, Patriarch,” he said, clearing his throat, as if he wasn’t the instigator of the current predicament, and was very curious to see how Fang Shoudao would resolve the situation.
What he actually wanted to know, though was… exactly how important he was to the Fang Clan, and to Fang Shoudao.
He wanted to know if the title of Crown Prince… was actually worth something! Perhaps it was just a title, and wasn’t worth anything. Meng Hao’s attitude would be dependent on how the question was answered.
If the Fang Clan handled the situation with no regard for him, then he would simply attack. He would show the Fang Clan the true meaning of what an Allheaven Clan Patriarch was!
Fang Shoudao sent a vicious glare in Meng Hao’s direction, but then, a moment later, his eyes widened almost imperceptibly. Behind him were five or six clan Elders, including the Grand Elder Fang Tongtian, all of whom heard Guru Heavencloud’s enraged words as they walked out of the teleportation portal.
Once again, Guru Heavencloud said, “Senior Shoudao, please take the lead in presiding over justice!”
At the same time, the magenta-robed cultivators in the bazaar all clasped hands toward Fang Shoudao and joined their voices together to say, “Senior Shoudao, please take the lead in presiding over justice!”
Their conjoined voices boomed out like crashing waves, causing an unsightly expression to appear on Fang Shoudao’s face. Inwardly, he was slightly suspicious about exactly what was happening. He once again looked over at Meng Hao, expression grim.
After a long moment passed, he gave a cold harrumph and said, “Fang Tongtian, you and the other Elders resolve this situation.”
Fang Tongtian looked back at him in shock. Even as he stood there hesitating, one of the other Fang Clan Elders stepped forward, clasped hands, and bowed toward Guru Heavencloud.
“Fellow Daoist Heavencloud, please calm yourself. This truly was an instance of carelessness on the part of the Fang Clan. We can explain.” Meng Hao had seen this old man before. He was an Elder from one of the neutral bloodlines. As the words left the man’s mouth, Meng Hao’s expression remained completely calm. However, his eyes turned icy cold.
“Meng Hao, immediately apologize to Guru Heavencloud, and give back the thing you stole!” the Elder said harshly. “As the Crown Prince, you must set a proper example for others! What you’ve done here is simply outrageous!” There were two reasons this Elder rushed to be the first to speak. The first was that he sensed that Patriarch Shoudao wasn’t very pleased with the situation. The second was that he had many connections with the Heavencloud Bazaar, and wished for the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible.
From his perspective, his decision not to side with Meng Hao was quite proper. After all, the Fang Clan wasn’t in a position to be antagonizing too many people, not even for the sake of the Crown Prince. Although Meng Hao had performed some incredible services for the clan, personal interests should never be placed above the interests of the group. Sometimes, it was simply necessary to back down.
He wasn’t the only one who had similar thoughts. The other Elders, even the two who were members of Meng Hao’s bloodline, all felt that the best way to resolve the situation was to chide Meng Hao.
One by one, the Elders began to chime in.
“Hao’er, you shouldn’t have killed anyone here. Apologize immediately! Fellow Daoist Heavencloud, this was just a matter of the Fang Clan’s Crown Prince acting a bit impulsively. Let’s drop the matter, alright?”
“That’s right. Hao’er, what are you doing just standing there? Apologize right now!”
As the Elders spoke one after another, Guru Heavencloud began to laugh coldly in his heart, and also sighed with relief that the Fang Clan members were reasonable people.
In his mind, after Meng Hao apologized, there would be no way for him to pursue the matter further. He himself would be able to sell the jade pendant to the Fang Clan, although for a higher price than before. After all, he couldn’t quite resolve himself to the idea of letting Meng Hao away completely scot-free after what he had done.
He felt certain that the Fang Clan wouldn’t be willing to antagonize people like himself lightly. After all, his cultivation base was at the point where all he had to do was make a breakthrough, and he could be a powerful enemy to any sect or clan.
Once that happened, unless they went all out to exterminate him, he would be able to cause them unending problems in the future.
Similarly, he didn’t dare to deeply offend any of the powerful clans. That was why he always tried to maintain a certain level of imperiousness in his actions. He would never exceed that level too much, but he would likewise never become more submissive.
As soon as he heard what the Elders were saying, his face relaxed, and he clasped hands and bowed to the Fang Clan Elders.
“Since this was a misunderstanding, then I’ll let it go,” he said with a light, casual sigh. “We can simply blame my Junior Brother for being too boorish, which led him to an unfortunate and terrible death…. As for the stolen item, since the Crown Prince of the Fang Clan took a liking to it, then please, take it. In fact, I don’t even want to have it returned. I just hope that the Fang Clan… won’t slaughter me and my people!” Although he was smiling bitterly, his heart was filled with venomous malice. In this situation, he was using a tactical retreat to advance his interests, using weakness to defeat strength. He couldn’t go so far as to demand that they strip Meng Hao of his title, but he could certainly get them to punish him. He wouldn’t just deal him a flesh wound, he would stab him to the bone!
After all, he viewed himself to be the reasonable one. The people who had died were from the Heavencloud Bazaar. Not only had Meng Hao killed them, he had also stolen their goods. Guru Heavencloud was counting on all of that to lend weight to his demands.
In the end, it seemed to work out exactly as he had expected. In response to Guru Heavencloud’s words, the group of Fang Clan Elders frowned and began to rebuke Meng Hao even more harshly.
“Hao’er, this is disgraceful!”
“Apologize right this instant, Hao’er! Do you really want to humiliate the entire clan because of your personal affair!?”
“Meng Hao, get down on your knees!” The last sentence was uttered by the first Elder who had begun speaking moments ago, the one from one of the neutral bloodlines.
Meng Hao’s face had remained placid from start to finish. He offered no explanations, instead choosing to stand there looking coldly at the other members of the Fang Clan. To all the other cultivators looking on, Meng Hao seemed to be holding himself in a way that implied that even the Senior members of his clan weren’t qualified to talk down to him.
But then Meng Hao heard that one particular Elder say the words ‘get on your knees,’ and his eyes flickered coldly.
“You’re Fang who?” he said. “I forget your given name. In any case, I dare you to repeat what you just said about me kneeling. Go ahead and try it!”
The Elder’s eyes flickered with rage, and he was just about to speak when….
“Enough!” said Grand Elder Fang Tongtian, his face darkening, his voice echoing out in all directions. Although his cultivation base was not as high as Guru Heavencloud’s, it was still high enough that Guru Heavencloud wouldn’t look down on him.
“Elder Fang Shuidan, what you said just now was completely inappropriate,” he said, his voice crackling like thunder. “Have you forgotten that you are also surnamed Fang?!
“As for you, Fellow Daoist Heavencloud, don’t try to take a mile when we give you an inch. Meng Hao is the Crown Prince of the Fang Clan. You say he killed some people? Well, even if he killed the entire Heavencloud Bazaar, what would it matter?!
“You say he stole something from you? How absurd! The Fang Clan lacks nothing! We have no need to go around robbing people! Besides, Meng Hao is our Crown Prince, the future Clan Chief! If he did rob you… then you should think of it as an honor!” All the surrounding cultivators’ eyes went wide when they heard Fang Tongtian’s words. Guru Heavencloud’s eyes gleamed brightly as he glared back at Fang Tongtian.
“Don’t be such an aggravating smart-aleck,” Fang Tongtian continued, his eyes flickering with killing intent. “And don’t put on such a show of histrionics. The Crown Prince of the Fang Clan apologizing to you would be giving you plenty of face as it is. Let’s drop the matter here. And if you disagree… go ahead and say so, then see what happens!” Although Fang Tongtian was no match for Guru Heavencloud, his status in the Fang Clan was such that he could easily cow Guru Heavencloud with his words.
Fang Tongtian’s diatribe caused the other Fang Clan Elders to stare in shock. The other surrounding cultivators were even more astonished.
Even Meng Hao had a strange look in his eyes as he looked over at Fang Tongtian. If he remembered correctly, Fang Tongtian had been punished, locked away in secluded meditation because of the chaos that had broken out on Planet East Victory on his watch. For him to appear here now indicated that he must have been pardoned.
Guru Heavencloud glared at Fang Tongtian, then began to laugh in fury. He had never imagined that the Fang Clan’s Grand Elder would dare to speak to him in such a way. He was so disrespectful that it almost seemed as if he didn’t care at all about Guru Heavencloud.
He had practiced cultivation for ages, and in the many years after taking control of the Heavencloud Bazaar, he had had dealings with all the major sects and clans. They were always amiable, and neither he nor they ever tried to offend or antagonize each other.
They always spoke very politely to him, so this was the first time he had ever heard any person from any sect or clan talk to him in such a way.
As his angry laughter rang out, Guru Heavencloud seemed to struggle to control himself. He took a deep breath and then clasped hands and bowed deeply to Fang Shoudao.
Gritting his teeth, he angrily said, “Senior Shoudao, is this the Fang Clan’s stance in this matter? You kill my disciples and steal my belongings. Do you want to force me into a corner?!?!
“Senior Shoudao, I once again ask for you to take the lead–” Before, Guru Heavencloud could even finish speaking, Fang Shoudao suddenly flicked his sleeve.
“Shut the hell up!” he said, his voice booming like thunder. The entire asteroid field shook, and the Heavencloud Bazaar trembled on the verge of collapse.
Numerous surrounding cultivators coughed up blood, and Guru Heavencloud was shoved backward, blood spraying out of his mouth, his eyes shining with shock and disbelief.
It wasn’t that he had never encountered Dao Realm experts before. On the contrary, he had actually met most of them. Considering his status and cultivation base, Dao Realm cultivators usually treated him very respectfully and even kindly.
This was the first time that anyone in the Dao Realm had ever disregarded him in this way.
When Fang Tongtian saw Fang Shoudao’s burst of anger, his eyes flickered, but he didn’t say anything. However, the other Elders’ faces fell, and their hearts suddenly seized with fear. That was especially true of the Elder who had rebuked Meng Hao and told him to get on his knees. That man’s heart began to pound with confusion. From his perspective, Meng Hao had performed services for the clan, but even the Crown Prince, a direct bloodline descendant of the Fang Clan, would be forced to back down in the face of the interests of the clan as a whole. And yet… Fang Shoudao’s attitude seemed to be the opposite of that.
Fang Shoudao suddenly turned to look at the clan members responsible for maintaining the teleportation portal. “Let me ask you, when Hao’er sent word to us, what exactly did he tell you to say?”
The clan members immediately began to tremble, and one of them responded, “The Crown Prince… he said… to ask the Patriarch, you sir, whether or not you wanted to change the name of the Heavencloud Bazaar to the Fang Clan Bazaar….”
Fang Shoudao paused to think for a brief moment, then looked up and spoke, his booming words echoing out through the entire asteroid field, and even echoing out into the void beyond. “The Heavencloud Bazaar is in collusion with enemy clans! They plotted to harm the Crown Prince of the Fang Clan in order to foment civil war in Ninth Mountain and Sea. They even falsely accused our Crown Prince of robbing them, all with the intention of provoking us. This crime cannot be forgiven! Transmit orders to the entire Fang Clan. Exterminate the Heavencloud Bazaar. Leave no one alive! Henceforth, this place will be called… the Fang Clan Bazaar!”
Guru Heavencloud’s mind spun, and his face was filled with an expression of shock and disbelief.
“Senior Shoudao!!” he cried.