The tea kettle’s lid dropped from Du Jiaolan’s hand and shattered into little pieces. Her expression became as dark and profound as water as a sinister cold light emanated from her eyes.
“My elaborately drawn out plan has actually been destroyed by a fool. I will make him disappear.”
Du Qishan, Du Heng, Du Fei, and several other Du Family members had similarly cold and dark expressions as they dispersed within the hall.
“Madam, how could that fool possess so many spirit stones and pills?” asked Du Qishan with a puzzled expression.
He was the same as Du Jiaolan, with a cultivation at the early stage of the Natal Opening Realm. He had been arranged to come by Du Haitian, his main task being to assist Du Jiaolan as she attempted to take control of the Ling Family. “The strange formations within Herb Mountain are extremely mysterious. Not even I can see through its profound secrets. If they were truly put up by Qin Shan, then Qin Shan… was really not so simple.”
“Is that still a question? Those spirit stones and pills were most definitely left behind by Qin Shan. After all, he was still an Artificer. It isn’t strange for one to have those materials.” Du Jiaolan coldly snorted and continued, “No matter whether Qin Shan was simple or not, he died two years ago. It is impossible for a dead man to bring us trouble.”
“I await Madam’s next order,” said Du Qishan respectfully.
“Contact Haitian as quickly as possible and tell him about the situation within Herb Mountain. Have him pull some strings within Nebula Pavilion and prevent Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan from meeting the elders there. As long as they aren’t able to meet the elders, we will still be able to control whether or not the matter regarding the tribute of medicinal plants comes up for the Ling Family. It will continue being something that we can use to blackmail Ling Chengye. We can just say that Nebula Pavilion requires some Jade Hand Flowers from Herb Mountain and accuse him of some unfavorable charges.“
Du Jiaolan only gave him this one command. She then looked towards Du Heng and instructed, “Continue closely observing Herb Mountain and the surrounding area as you have recently been doing. Once Ling Chengye opens up Herb Mountain to the public, there will definitely be a lot of Ling Family members who will go in and explore it. Perhaps they will discover something. There are definitely eccentric things within the mountain. Otherwise the spirit plants wouldn’t just wither away, and Qin Shan and grandson wouldn’t hold onto it for dear life.”
“No need to worry mother, I will carefully observe that side,” said Du Heng, nodding in assent.
Looking towards Du Fei, the youngest, Du Jiaolan frowned and instructed, “Pay attention to the fool. If he is ever by himself, notify me.”
Du Fei also nodded in response.
Nebula Pavilion was situated within the southern part of the city where towering buildings stood one after another. Amongst these buildings were many stone towers. Stationed atop every stone tower were cultivators wearing Nebula Pavilion’s uniform, each one looking down at the surrounding areas from far above.
“Please convey to Elder Han that Ling Chengzhi of the Ling Family requests an audience,” said Ling Chengzhi with a smile to the gate guards at the southern entrance of Nebula Pavilion.
Ling Xuanxuan wore an eye catching, short orange skirt and her snow white wrists were adorned with several silver bands. A cute smile also appeared on her lovely, innocent, and beautiful face.
Within the Ling Family, Ling Xuanxuan held an extremely high status as Second Miss and thus sometimes acted capriciously. However, she couldn’t act like that here.
On the way over, Ling Chengzhi had constantly reminded her to restrain her temper upon entering Icestone City, lest it brought upon them unnecessary troubles.
“We have already said that Elder Han isn’t here, please come again.” These gate guards had long since been instructed by Du Haitian’s people. At this moment, they emotionlessly said without a hint of emotion on their faces, “Furthermore, neither of you are the Ling Family’s Patriarch. Even if Elder Han was here, it isn’t definite that he would meet you.”
“How can you guys be like this? With great effort we made the trip over from the Ling Family. You guys didn’t even leave to ask, how do you know whether or not Elder Han is here?” cried Ling Xuanxuan, gnashing her teeth.
Even two of Nebula Pavilion’s guards dared to be so arrogant towards them. This meant that in their eyes the Ling Family was simply nothing worth noticing.
Ling Xuanxuan felt a great sense of humiliation as she too realized that vassal forces truly didn’t enjoy any kind of good treatment.
“We know he isn’t here, this is enough reason.” One of the guards blankly looked at her. Laughingly, he said, “Little sister, it is not that this big brother here doesn’t want to help you, it is that there is just truly no way for me to. Hm, what about staying within Icestone City for a while and waiting for Elder Han to return? I will notify you when he does. Hehe, however, my shift’s rotation is during the day, and I only have the nights free. I wonder if little sister has any free time during the night?”
The young, beautiful Ling Xuanxuan had clearly brought the two guards happiness. The two of them were speaking one after the other, smiling as they flirted with her, but they were resolute with their stance upon the matter of meeting with Elder Han.
Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan stood in front of the gate and argued with the guards for a long period of time until their throats became hoarse, but they weren’t able to achieve anything.
Along the road many practitioners of Nebula Pavilion were entering and exiting the gate.
These people, upon hearing that the people at the gate were from some vassal force, acted indifferently, only glancing at Ling Xuanxuan’s beauty. However, some joined the guards in ridiculing the two of them before walking away, laughing.
——Not a single person held the Ling Family in their eyes.
“Even if you two stay here until dark, you two still wouldn’t be able to meet Elder Han. You might as well quickly return to the Ling Family and tell your patriarch to make his own trip here.” After a while, the two guards also became bored and their tones gradually became rude, “Stop blocking the gates! Otherwise, don’t blame me for being uncourteous!”
“Eh?! Young Master Zhi, are you going out to drink? You seem really energetic today! Haha, you will definitely be killer tonight!”
One of the guards, upon seeing a little fatty come out from within, immediately beamed with a flattering smile.
As he moved his body to the side, he waved at Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan as if he were swatting flies, trying to get them to make way for the little fatty to pass through.
“Mn, hurry and make way. Young Master Zhi has an appointment to meet with people at Drunken Fragrance Garden. Don’t waste his time.”
Kang Zhi wore brocaded yellow clothes and posed with a fan in his hand, which he waved every once in awhile. Squinting his small eyes, he slowly walked over.
Upon seeing him come over the nearby practitioners of Nebula Pavilion who were entering and leaving immediately took the initiative to avoid him and let him pass.
“You two from the Ling Family, scram farther away, don’t you dare block Young Master Zhi’s way!” shouted a guard.
Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan’s expressions became increasingly ugly. Upon hearing the guards yell, they didn’t dare reply and could only move their bodies.
They had stayed around for so long, but the two of them had yet to see the guards treat anyone with such an attitude. Thus, the two of them immediately knew that the young fatty wearing yellow clothes was definitely someone with an extraordinary background.
“Ling Family?” Kang Zhi, who had already pretentiously walked through the south gate, suddenly became stunned. Afterwards, he turned around and hesitantly looked over at Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan asking, “Are you of the Ling Family within the southern parts of the Arctic Mountain Range? The ones that have an Herb Mountain… is that you all?”
Ling Chengzhi slightly lowered his head, feeling extremely strange within his heart. Smiling apologetically, he replied, “We are indeed from that Ling Family.”
Kang Zhi suddenly walked over and casually slapped the face of the guard who had told Ling Chengzhi to scram, causing blood to fly out from the corner of his mouth and splatter across the ground.
Afterwards, he viciously kicked the other guard, causing the guard to clutch his stomach and crouch on the ground in pain with cold sweat appearing on the guard’s face.
The several practitioners who had been waiting to enter and leave suddenly froze, all of them stopping to observe.
Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan also stayed. They didn’t know why the little fatty suddenly became furious, but upon seeing those emotionless guards being hit so mercilessly, the uncle and niece both felt extremely delighted.
“Let’s see if your mouths’ll be dirty again!” After hitting the two, a smile appeared on Kang Zhi’s chubby face. As if he had become another person, he said, “What did you come to Nebula Pavilion for?”
“We were looking for Elder Han to explain the issue with supplying spirit plants. The two of them said Elder Han wasn’t within Nebula Pavilion, and told us…” explained Ling Chengzhi.
After listening, Kang Zhi’s chubby face hardened as he turned back around towards the two guards and hit them again. As he hit them, the corners of his mouth drew back and he scolded them, “Are you two tired of living? Uncle Han is clearly within the pavilion, are both your doggy eyes blind?”
The two guards didn’t dare to dodge, shirking beside the door as they suffered Kang Zhi’s trampling. Within their hearts, they cursed all eighteen generations of ancestors of Du Haitian’s messenger.
“Han Yu!” Kang Zhi pointed towards someone within the pavilion and instructed them, “Bring them to meet your uncle.”
“Sure, Young Master Zhi.” A smiling youth walked up.
“I still have some matters to attend to, so I cannot accompany you,” said Kang Zhi with a brilliant smile. Suddenly, he asked, “Is Ling Lie, that guy, still doing well?”
“Ling Lie?” Ling Chengzhi suddenly became dazed as he robotically nodded and replied, “Doing well, doing well.”
“Haha, when you see him in the future, tell him to hurry over to Nebula Pavilion and that the brothers are all thinking about him.” The little fatty smiled as he said this sentence, then waved and finally made his leave.
Han Yu brought the puzzled and confused Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan into the depths of the pavilion. As for the two guards who had been scoffing at them earlier, they had been beaten black and blue and were now crouched in the corner of the gate, their heads timidly looking down.
“Excuse me, that Young Master Zhi… what kind of status does he have?” suddenly asked Ling Chengzhi.
“He is our Vice Pavilion Master’s son,” replied Han Yu with a bitter smile, as if he had once lost something to Kang Zhi. “For you two to have received the favor of Young Master Zhi is truly not easy, that guy’s temper is incredibly strange. Uh, in a moment, when you guys meet my uncle, it would be best if you guys said this beforehand. As long as it isn’t some incredibly difficult matter, my uncle will definitely help you solve it.”
Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan’s expressions suddenly became shocked, and they could each see the shock within the other’s eyes as well.
Nebula Pavilion consisted of a Pavilion Master, two Vice Pavilion Master, Elders, Hall Masters, and other positions. There was only one Pavilion Master and a total of two Vice Pavilion Masters. Thus, one could imagine just how much power a Vice Pavilion Master of Nebula Pavilion held. Kang Zhi, as the son of Vice Pavilion Master Kang Hui, naturally had the qualifications to act arrogant and domineering.
The Ling Family had been suppressed to the point of not being able to raise their heads by Du Haitian, was but an elder of Nebula Pavilion. Amongst the five elders, he was towards the back, and his status and ranking were extremely incomparable with that of Vice Pavilion Master Kang Hui. Although Kang Zhi didn’t know that the guards had been directed by Du Haitian, even if he did know, he wouldn’t have cared.
Before long, Han Yu led the two into a hall lined with bookshelves that had been filled to the brim.
Elder Han Qingrui, the elder specifically responsible for managing the tributes of vassal forces, was just about to leave when he saw them walk over. At first his face was full of annoyance, but upon hearing that it was the Ling Family, his attitude shockingly changed.
“What is the matter?” asked Han Qingrui with a smile as he personally brewed two cups of tea and signaled for Han Yu to leave.
Ling Chengzhi, with a face full of surprise, fearfully and apprehensively explained the matter, saying, “As of recent, Herb Mountain’s spirit plants are no longer withering. As long as you can tolerate it for a few more days, we will definitely be able to fulfill our Ling Family’s payment.”
“And I had thought that it was some big matter.” Han Qingrui waved his hand, indicating for the two to sit down and drink their tea. Afterwards, he laughed and said, “I will notify you right now, starting from this moment onwards, the Ling Family doesn’t have to pay any spirit plants for the next two years!”
As soon as he said those words, the two were shocked to the point where they almost jumped out of their seats, the tea all spilling out of the cups they were holding. Ling Chengzhi hurriedly said, “Elder Han, please don’t be like this. My Ling Family will definitely pay enough spirit plant, please rest assured!”
Han Qingrui was surprised for a moment, then immediately realized that they had misunderstood. Smiling, he explained, “Your Ling Family’s Ling Lie has achieved great merits. His contributions have not only gained a great amount of contribution points for himself, but also for the Ling Family. Thus, you all don’t have to pay spirit plants for the next two years. This was a rule that was set down in the early years of Nebula Pavilion. If any practitioner from a vassal force achieves great merit, then as a reward, the family they belong to will not have to pay tributes for two years.”
“Elder Han! Elder Han!” shouted someone from outside.
Han Qingrui stood up and said with a smile, “I have other matters to attend to, and thus I will not say more. I have already added Ling Lie’s name into the booklet for core members along with a total of one thousand two hundred contribution points. When the two of you return, tell him he can enter Nebula Pavilion at any time.”
As Ling Chengzhi and Ling Xuanxuan were still dazed like wooden roosters, Han Qingrui continued, “Also, please thank him in my place. As of recent, my child has constantly spoke of him, saying that if it weren’t for him, he might already have died at the hands of the people from Shattered Ice Manor.”
Stopping, Han Qingrui smiled as he patted Ling Chengzhi on the shoulder. Leaving them to finish their tea break, he left first to see to his own matter.
“…Ling Lie. Within our Ling Family, there is only one person called Ling Lie, and isn’t he an old man with one foot in the grave?” asked Ling Chengzhi dazedly as if he were dreaming. It was a kind of unbelievable feeling.
“Core member! One thousand two hundred contribution points! Did they get the wrong person?” Ling Xuanxuan’s heart had been thrown into a mess as if she had become drunk. Her mind felt dizzy, unable to discern North, South, East, and West.
“I’m afraid… I’m afraid they did indeed get the wrong person,” Ling Chengzhi said helplessly.