Chapter 239 – Before the Ceremony (One)
“It’s all your fault! If it weren’t for you, would I have ended up like this?” Song Ming grabbed Mu Zhicong’s collar firmly with bloodshot eyes.
He was completely done for. Although the Golden Pheasant Elder did not punish him in the end, his seniors and juniors all avoided him like the plague. Even the outer disciples that usually hung out with him ignored him now. He was completely alone on the Pheasant’s Grace mountain.
Mu Zhicong shook off his hand impatiently. “Senior brother Song, didn’t you want revenge? Or did I force you into revenge?”
“Y- you- I might suffer, but don’t you think you’ll have it easy either!” Song Ming completely lacked his former grace as spittle sprayed out from his mouth like he had gone mad. He launched a palm strike at Mu Zhicong.
“You’re crazy!” Mu Zhicong shivered inside and retreated in a hurry. Although he managed to avoid the palm strike, his chest still ached from the true qi.
Song Ming even tried to pursue him. Green vines erupted from the ground, wrapping around him firmly. He fished out a golden pheasant’s feather with a flip of his hand.
Mu Zhicong bellowed, “Don’t forget, this is the Green Vine mountain!”
Greenery lingered and flowers bloomed outside the window, like it was late spring, but there was mist and snowy mountains just a little further away. They were currently on the Green Vine mountain. More specifically, they were in the residence for inner disciples, in Mu Zhicong’s room.
Song Ming’s mind shuddered. He gradually calmed down and stowed away the Golden Pheasant’s plume.
Mu Zhicong released the vines and patted Song Ming’s shoulder. He advised, “The three mountains have already sent out an order for his capture, so you’ll be avenged at the very least. There are no permanent obstructions in the world. As long as you do well in the Herb Gathering ceremony, senior brother, you’ll definitely fall back into favour with your master. Who knows, you might find and ingest some spiritual herb and advance rapidly in cultivation, becoming the new first senior brother.”
Mu Zhicong was just afraid that Song Ming would try to throw his life at him if he completely offended Song Ming, so he pleaded with tactful words.
Song Ming left the residence with a broken expression. Below a great camphor tree, Ma Chaoqun bowed to him, “Senior brother!”
Smack! There was a clear slap, and Ma Chaoqun slammed against the tree heavily, causing leaves to rain down.
Song Ming said viciously, “Have you come to make fun of me?”
Ma Chaoqun said, “Never. All of this happened because of me. It’s me who’s let you down, senior brother! You can hit and berate me all you want.”
Song Ming was rather surprised. He sneered. “With your tiny bit of cultivation, you think you can let me down? Seeing how you’re still bold enough to talk to me, you have some balls. You really do live up to your background of the jianghu. You have some personal loyalty.”
With that, he walked off. After taking a few steps, he suddenly turned around. “You can stick with me in the future. If anyone is bold enough to harass you outside, let me know.”
“Senior brother?’ Ma Chaoqun was dazed.
“You could hold onto your grudge for two entire decades just for the sake of revenge, so am I supposed to pale in comparison to you? I’ll show them that I’m not a piece of trash that anyone can mess with!”
Mu Zhicong watched the two of them vanish down the shaded path. He muttered to himself, “Never thought Song Ming would have some backbone!” Then he murmured, “Niu Juxia!”
He never thought that man could actually escape while being rounded up by the Pheasant’s Grace mountain, even killing the first senior brother in the process. He basically wondered whether he had fallen for some scheme or not. He found this to be unbelievable. Was that guy really this powerful? If he came looking for him for revenge, what was he supposed to do!?
In a daze, the tall figure seemed to appear before him, and the shadow he cast enveloped him.
However, Mu Zhicong immediately shook his head. Even if this Niu person thought to his wit’s end, he would not be able to tell if he played a role in this at all. And, his life was in danger under the three mountains’ order for capture, so he was in no position to think about revenge.
Thinking up to this point, Mu Zhicong stood up and made his way out towards where the outer disciples stayed.
“Chenglu, are you really telling the truth? Are the three mountains really looking to hunt down Niu Juxia? Why hasn’t anyone else told me?” Yu Zijian paced around anxiously in her room.
Hua Chenglu laid back leisurely on a rattan chair. “You’re currently under house arrest, so of course no one would tell you. I heard he killed the first senior brother of the Pheasant’s Grace mountain, and he was being hunted down by the Golden Pheasant Elder… Stop pacing around. You’re making me dizzy.”
“T- then how is he right now?” Yu Zijian suddenly stopped and widened her eyes in horror. Her eyes had already grown misty. She was ready to shed tears at any moment now.
If it weren’t for me, Niu Juxia wouldn’t have fallen with the Pheasant’s Grace Mountain, and he wouldn’t have come to Green Vine mountain. He wouldn’t have…
“You idiot, he obviously escaped, or they wouldn’t have ordered his arrest! You better worry about yourself a bit more instead of others!”
Only then did Yu Zijian ease up. She silently prayed, Niu Juxia, please be fine.
“Miss Hua is right.” A voice rang out from outside. Mu Zhicong stepped into the courtyard with his hands behind his back. He seemed extraordinarily graceful under the mottled shade of the tree.
Yu Zijian said, “Senior brother Mu!”
Mu Zhicong said, “Zijian, it’s almost time for the Herb Gathering ceremony. I will be taking care of you when that happens, but you need to make some preparations yourself too.”
“Zijian is not a disciple of the Green Vine mountain. She won’t be participating in your shitty Herb Gathering ceremony. Hurry up and get out of here. I feel vexed whenever I see the people of the Green Vine mountain now!” Hua Chenglu suddenly sat up on the seat and cursed.
When Hua Chenglu arrived on the Green Vine mountain wanting to take away Yu Zijian, the Green Vine elder had met with her reluctantly and directly turned down her request. However, while she liked to behave in a very mature manner, she was still a young girl at the end of the day.
If the patriarch of the Hua family, or Hua Chengzan, had come in person, there would be no issue in resolving this matter. However, if the Green Vine mountain released a person obediently from a single word that a little girl had said after scampering over, they would seem like they were afraid of the Hua family. The Green Vine Elder could not afford to stoop so low just yet.
Hua Chenglu obviously would not give up, so she insisted on staying on the mountain with Yu Zijian. After all this time, she had grown restless. She no longer cared about acting mature anymore. She released all of her unruly and capricious nature as the young miss of a large clan now.
“Miss Hua, do you really think you can talk nonsense just because you’re from the Hua family? Don’t assume that I’m afraid to teach you a lesson.” Mu Zhicong’s face reddened and he raised his hand.
Hua Chenlu offered her face to him. “Come! If you think you’re so capable, then teach me a lesson. You’re a coward if you’re afraid to!”
Mu Zhicong was utterly enraged, but his hand just hovered in the air. He was actually afraid to lay his hands on her. If he touched her, it would lead to a dispute between the Green Vine mountain and the Hua family. That was not a burden he could bear.
Yu Zijian made her way between them in a hurry and tried to persuade them. “Stop arguing!”
Mu Zhicong made use of this to get out of the predicament that he faced. He lowered his hand furiously. “If it weren’t for Zijian shielding you, I’d definitely teach a lesson to an ignorant little girl like you!”
“Who do you want to teach a lesson to?” A voice rang out at the entrance.
“Brother!” Hua Chenglu sprang up from the chair.
Mu Zhicong turned around in a hurry. He saw an extremely handsome man sitting on a verdant, slender branch that swayed in the wind. His ebony hair hung loose as his lips that were like peach blossoms formed a smile. If it were not for the prominent adam’s apple on his throat, he might have been mistaken for a great beauty.
Hearing how Hua Chenglu referred to him, a name leapt out in Mu Zhicong’s heart—Hua Chengzan.
Across the fifteen hundred kilometers of the Clear River prefecture, there were countless geniuses. However, this person was the best of the best among these geniuses, a true prodigy. Not only did he come from a renowned clan and possess a handsome appearance, but he was also the only non-Foundation Establishment Scarlet Wolf commander throughout all of the Ruyi commandery.
This was not due to his background from the Hua family, or the special enlistment of the White Hawk commander. Instead, it was because he had reached the tenth layer of Qi Practitioner before the age of twenty. Everyone believed he would soon become the youngest Foundation Establishment cultivator of the Clear River prefecture.
Although he had been stuck at the tenth layer for many years, which caused the halo of a genius over his head to dim slightly, he was still a dazzlingly bright presence in the eyes of regular Qi Practitioners. He was known in the Clear River prefecture as the greatest below Foundation Establishment.
Mu Zhicong bowed in a hurry. “I was not aware of commander Hua’s arrival. I’ve failed to welcome you from afar.” Even with the Hua family set aside, just Hua Chengzan’s identity as a Scarlet Wolf commander was enough to make any Qi Practitioner revere him.
In the eyes of these cultivators from sects, the Hawkwolf Guard was not some fair emissary of justice that upheld the laws. Instead, they were the hawks and hounds of the government that framed people with their draconian laws.
Hua Chenglu arrived underneath the tree and leapt up and down. “Why have you only just come? Zijian and I have been harassed to death by the people here.”
Mu Zhicong laughed dryly. “I was only joking around with your dear sister.”
“Then let me joke around too!” Hua Chengzan’s face sank as he raised his hand. He possessed authority over the laws of the Clear River prefecture, and who knew how many Qi Practitioners he had killed and interrogated in the past. Although he rarely ever displayed his power, once he grew hostile, the bleakness seemed to summon late autumn in this prosperous springtime garden all of a sudden.
Mu Zhicong staggered a few steps back and tripped over the chair, falling on his bottom. He raised his hand to shield his face like a woman as he cried out, “Don’t!”
But nothing happened. Mu Zhicong lowered his hand, and all he saw was Hua Chengzan seated there, still smiling, as if his bearing earlier was all just an illusion.
Hua Chenglu mocked, “What a coward. My brother had already said that he’s joking around!”
Mu Zhicong turned bright red. He felt both ashamed and fearful. He had completely collapsed before Hua Chengzan’s aura earlier. Not only was he unable to fight back, but he even lost the courage to run away. He could only kneel on the ground and beg for his life, leaving everything completely up to Hua Chengzan’s whim. If Hua Chengzan had lashed out at that moment, killing him would be no different from killing an ordinary person. Before he had even struck, Mu Zhicong had already suffered an absolute defeat.
“Senior brother Mu!” Yu Zijian wanted to help him up, but Mu Zhicong had already leapt to his feet. “I’ll report this to my master.” before scampering off.
Hua Chenglu called out, “Why don’t you get down here!?”
Hua Chengzan seemed powerless to that request. He gently drifted down from the branch and smiled at Yu Zijian. “Miss Yu, long time no see!”
Yu Zijian lowered her head in a hurry. “Brother Hua, what brings you here?”
Hua Chenglu said complacently, “I got him to come, obviously.”
Hua Chengzan said instead, “I have some formal business to attend to here.”
The two of them looked at each other. Hua Chenglu stroked her brother’s nose furiously. “So you didn’t come for me!”
Hua Chengzan sighed. “I obviously came for you. I told you a long time ago that there was no need for you to hurry here, and that you just needed to wait for me to handle it. Now, it’s much more troublesome instead.” The minds of people were extremely tricky to handle. Now that he had come here, he had to worry that the Green Vine Elder felt like the Hua family was trying to pressure him.
“If it weren’t for me, Zijian would have been forced to join the Green Vine mountain already!”
“Since commander Hua has arrived, why don’t you come up the mountain for a chat with me so that I can fulfill my role as the host?”
Suddenly, a great voice boomed out from the top of the mountain.