Dawn had yet to break, but Qin Lie had already quietly left for Herb Mountain. The two leather bags that he had brought back with him from the Arctic Mountain Range had long since been retrieved and placed within the cave where he cultivated.
One of the bags contained the Umbra Lightning Condor’s beast cores and ten stalks of Ice Stalk Grass.
The other bag contained some spirit stones, spirit pills, and other bits and pieces of spirit materials, all of which had originally belonged to the practitioners from Shattered Ice Manor.
As of late, Qin Lie had been supplementing his cultivation with the Umbra Lightning Condor beast cores and Ice Stalk Grass. These two materials were extremely beneficial towards helping him gather spirit energy and let him clearly feel the building up of strength within his spirit sea.
As for the spirit stones, spirit pills, and the other various spirit materials, he didn’t place them upon his heart. Firstly, it was due to the fact that he didn’t know their true value. Secondly, the Ice Stalk Grass and Umbra Lightning Condor beast cores showed more effectiveness during his current cultivation.
Qin Lie picked out some of the prettier looking spirit pills and spirit stones and used an even smaller cloth bag to collect them. Then, he put the bag within the upper portion of his clothes.
When he had heard Ling Yushi bring up the engagement, his first thought had been to refuse it as he didn’t want his relationship with the Ling Family to become entangled. Moreover, he didn’t wish to harm Ling Yushi.
Later on, after pondering over it for a long time, he decided that this matter was something which had been arranged by his grandfather long ago, and thus his opposition towards the matter greatly declined.
Furthermore, the Ling Family Patriarch had clearly stated himself that this engagement wasn’t real and was purely just a walk-through of the ceremony. After two years, it would be cut off.
A fake ceremony, from his point of view, was just a mere formality, and thus it was not something he cared about.
Also, during this most recent time period, Qin Lie had slowly grown accustomed to Ling Yushi often coming over and taking care of him.
After all, he was still only a fifteen year old boy. Having been by himself for so long, he greatly enjoyed the care of the beautiful, sister-like girl who helped him fetch water and clean his clothes.
If he was engaged to Ling Yushi, she would care for him for two years. Otherwise, he might no longer be able to continue enjoying this kind of treatment.
After a while of consideration, Qin Lie no longer opposed the matter and prepared himself to go through the motions.
Although he normally played a fool, Qin Lie, who had already awoken, still felt some guilt towards his engagement, and thus, he had come to Herb Mountain and fetch some things to store on his person in case where they were needed.
Generally, before an engagement ceremony, not only did the fiance’s side have to prepare a betrothal gift and bring all of their family’s elders, they also had to worship their ancestors.
As Qin Lie didn’t have any relatives nor did he know about his ancestors, these steps were omitted.
After collecting some stones, he hurriedly returned to his stone house before the sky brightened. After putting in a slight bit of effort into grooming his hair, he sat quietly within the stone house, waiting for the Ling Family members to come and receive him.
Ling Family Great Hall.
“Ah, First Miss is truly so pitiful. She’s actually going to be engaged to that fool. Before, didn’t they say it was going to be Second Miss?”
“Second Miss’ talent is too good. She is destined to enter Nebula Pavilion in the future, and cannot be tainted. It’s of no use. In the past, Grandpa Qin Shan helped our Ling Family, and the Patriarch had already agreed to his request. How could we break our word?”
“Why can’t we? After all, Qin Shan has died, and just what does that fool know?”
“First miss is so pretty, but she’s going to be cheapened for a fool. Ah, the heavens are so unfair!”
Many of the Ling Family members were scattered across the great hall, quietly whispering to each other. They all felt that Qin Lie wasn’t worthy of Ling Yushi and lamented her sacrifice.
After Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan had begun their journey to Icestone City, the Ling Family Patriarch suddenly announced Qin Lie and Ling Yushi’s engagement. Afterwards, without even waiting for people to react, he hastily prepared for the ceremony to be settled by the end of today.
Ling Chengye didn’t notify nor invite any of the surrounding forces that he was on good terms with and only announced it once within the town. It was clear that this event wasn’t going to be a grandiose one.
At this moment, many of the Ling Family members who had been invited had all gathered within the great hall. One of the Ling Family’s Elder, Ling Kangan was also among them.
He was the only clan elder to have been invited to come over.
The Ling Family had three clan elders; they were Ling Kangan, Ling Xiang, and Ling Bo. They were all Ling Family practitioners of the previous generation, the same one as Ling Chengye’s father.
As the Ling Family was situated very close to the Arctic Mountain Range, a practitioner’s development was faced with many challenges. Sometimes, they would need to enter the depths of the mountain range to hunt spirit beasts and look for spirit plants. Other times they would be confronted with a dispatch from Nebula Pavilion or be at war with another force. Thus, dying a natural death wasn’t easy.
The previous generation’s Patriarch, Ling Chengye’s father, was killed during a battle against hostile forces.
Ling Kangan, Ling Xiang, and Ling Bo; these three clan elders had all either suffered severe wounds across their body, lost their cultivation, or were slowly backtracking along the realms. In general, they would be at home resting. Seldom would they be involved within the matters of the family.
Logically, Ling Yushi’s engagement would be a great matter. Not only should Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan have been there, but the three clan elders should have come out as well.
But, from the beginning, Ling Chengye didn’t put this matter to heart and was already preparing for the future divorce. Thus, he didn’t bother calling for the other two clan elders to come over and only called for Ling Kangan to come and simply show himself.
“Those surnamed Du haven’t come, I guess Patriarch didn’t invite them. Mn, this way it will be much more concise.”
“Hmph! They aren’t even people of our Ling Town, why would we bother inviting them?”
“Whenever I see that mother and her two children, a fire ignites within me!”
Many of the Ling Family’s youth were situated at the corners. Bringing up Du Jiaolan and her children, their faces all immediately became indignant with a dense, cold glint in their eyes.
One of the older women of the Ling Family brought Qin Lie towards the great hall. Along the way, she had no clue what to say, nor did she know if Qin Lie would understand what she said. She could only say, “In a while, all you need to do is stay with me. Let me arrange everything for you. The Patriarch, with his detailed mind, has already prepared everything for you. Yes, he has even prepared your bridal gift.”
The old lady waved around the wooden box she was holding in front of Qin Lie.
Qin Lie was startled in his mind, but after pondering for a moment, he foolishly laughed and then took out the cloth bag, putting it on top of the wooden box in the old lady’s hand. He indicated that it was his own bridal gift.
The old lady was clearly surprised for a moment. After looking strangely at Qin Lie for a while, she expertly felt around the cloth bag, secretly weighing it. Upon realizing that the contents of the cloth bag should be things like stones, her face became filled with self-depreciation.
She shook her head, not bothering to open the bag to check its contents. She thought to herself: And I had thought that he had become smart. It seems like fools are just fools, even stones that they pick up can become treasures…
Very quickly, amidst the sound of fireworks, the old lady brought Qin Lie to the front entrance of the great hall.
She offered up the wooden box in her hand, as well as Qin Lie’s cloth bag. Afterwards, she nodded her head towards the wooden box, indicating to the person receiving the bridal gift that it was the one that had been prepared earlier. Afterwards, she nodded towards the cloth bag with a smile and shook her head, pulling Qin Lie inside.
With Qin Lie’s arrival, the bustling within the great hall suddenly calmed down.
When the masses saw Qin Lie’s wooden expression, all of their eyebrows unconsciously began to wrinkle up, tempted to shake their heads and sigh. Within their hearts, they all believed that he was not worthy of Ling Yushi.
With a glance, Qin Lie saw Ling Yushi.
She had clearly undergone a meticulous makeover.
She wore a bright red dress which stuck closely to her body, accentuating the appearance of her slender, graceful body, and her cheeks had been lightly colored bright red, causing her to look extraordinarily beautiful. Her fine crystal jewelry caused her to seem even more lovely.
Her skin was as white as jade, her appearance was extremely graceful. Her clear, bright eyes coupled with her aura of elegance made her seem as if she were a fairy from the lunar palace. She was so beautiful it caused everyone’s psyche to sway and to be unable to restrain themselves.
However, the more movingly beautiful she looked, the more the masses felt pity for her.
As the masses observed the dignified, elegant Ling Yushi and then turned their eyes to wooden Qin Lie, they all felt increasingly uncomfortable. They all began to sigh, one by one, trying to lessen their discomfort.
Of course, not all of the people acted so kindly. Some of the Ling Family girls, such as the ones who didn’t have good relationships with Ling Yushi or those who were jealous of her beauty, quietly whispered words which were unpleasant to the ear, their eyes revealing their how they desired to ridicule and laugh at Ling Yushi.
Observing his quiet, beautiful daughter beside him while listening to the public outcries within the great hall, Ling Chengye felt endless guilt within his heart.
Wishing for the ceremony to end faster, Ling Chengye hurriedly glared at the old lady, signaling for her to quickly finish the ceremonial walk so that they could wrap up the farce that he had drawn up.
The old lady took the hint, yelling loudly as she began to lead the tedious ceremony between Qin Lie and Ling Yushi.
Listening to the incessant mutterings of the masses and enduring the endless streams of stares, which contained pity, sympathy, and sarcasm, Ling Yushi could only pretend to be indifferent and occasionally smile towards the crowd.
… Only she knew the bitterness and sourness hidden within the depths of her heart.
“This is life, I cannot blame others. Father and the rest of them have all sacrificed so much for the family, this is the way it should be… The time has come for me to make my sacrifice for the family. Qin Lie, although he is… like that, a fool also has his good sides. He won’t harm me, nor will he care about what I do. And when he closed his eyes, he was honestly good looking. If, if he wasn’t a fool, if he was normal as could be, even if he were an ordinary person, it would still be easier to accept though…”
Ling Yushi secretly comforted herself, but upon thinking of what was to come, she couldn’t help but resent and pity herself.
Every girl fantasized about their other half being someone who was handsome, who was able to protect and care for them. Ling Yushi, at only seventeen, was naturally no exception, and thus she had also had this fantasy.
But reality was just so cruel…
At this time, a hand suddenly grabbed her tight, causing Ling Yushi to suddenly tense up.
Then she heard the old lady’s shouts, and she immediately understood that the ceremony had proceeded to this point, the point where she and Qin Lie were supposed to hold hands and walk down together. She also understood that Qin Lie’s hand had probably only grabbed hers with the help of the old lady.
She, who had never had any physical contact with a male before, felt nervous in the depths of her heart, but she quickly realized Qin Lie’s hand was extremely slender and soft. It seemed as if it was even more comfortable than grasping her sister’s hand by a significant margin. This caused her to become shocked and to unconsciously look at Qin Lie beside her.
Suddenly, after becoming so close together, she vaguely discerned from within the darkness of depths of Qin Lie’s wooden eyes what seemed to be a hidden, scattered radiance.
That radiance even inexplicably calmed her, allowing her disordered heart to gradually quiet down.
She secretly whispered to herself, unconsciously holding onto Qin Lie’s hand, and gripped it even tighter. It actually caused her to feel even more comfortable.
“Big brother, what is the meaning of this?” At this time, Du Jiaolan’s unique, harsh tone suddenly emanated in from outside.
Afterwards, the Du Jiaolan and her two sons walked in, along with the practitioners that Du Haitian and arranged for them and the other two Ling Family clan elders. The large group of them all entered the great hall.
Once all of the gazes were directed at her, Du Jiaolan coldly said with a sinister face, “My niece’s engagement is such a great matter, yet elder brother didn’t even inform me of it? Are you looking down on me, or do you not consider me one of the Ling Family’s members?
Without waiting for Ling Chengye’s explanation, she suddenly pointed towards the two Ling Family elders that were sitting in wheelchairs behind her, acrimoniously saying, “And then there are your two clan elders. In the past, they risked their lives for the Ling Family and became disabled as a result, yet you didn’t bother inviting them either. Ling Chengye! Just what is the meaning behind this?!”
“Chengye, what exactly is going on ?” asked the eldest clan elder, Ling Xiang, with a straight face. Pushed forward by one of the Du Family practitioners, he continued, “We two old fellows have worked hard for the Ling Family for our entire lives, but in the end, we don’t even have the status to participate in the engagement ceremony of the younger generation?”
“Your actions are completely looking down on us!” exclaimed the other clan elder, Ling Bo, forcefully slapping down on his wheelchair, his face filled with anger. He continued to scold, “Don’t forget, we three clan elders have the right to replace the Patriarch!”
As soon as his remark came out, not only did Ling Chengye’s expression change, so did the expressions of all of Ling Family members within the great hall. They all looked terrified.