Chapter 17: Settlement
In the Ling Family’s great hall.
A thick smell of medicine unique only to spirit pills wafted through the air as Ling Fu reached into the cloth bag and placed spirit pills, spirit stones, and many other items from within it on the top of the wooden box.
At this moment, the blood of all the Ling Family members began boiling in excitement. Many had flushed a crimson red as all gazes revealed immense shock. It wasn’t only shock in their expressions; desire and greed mixed in as well. They yearned for the cultivation materials on top of the wooden box.
“Th, these items definitely do not come from our Ling Family!” exclaimed Elder Ling Kangan with a trembling voice.
Without a shadow of a doubt in their hearts, those present were completely confident that the Ling Family was incapable of producing the cultivation materials that came out of the cloth bag.
Numerous chunks of Common Grade Six spirit stones, more than ten of those Vigor Recovering Pills, one Common Grade Five Hundred Vein Pill, and one common sixth ranked Sea Opening Pill… The items withdrawn from that unassuming cloth bag caused the Ling Family members utterly lose their composure.
The martial practitioners that Qin Lie killed were all close adjutants to Young Manor Lord Yan Ziqian; some of them were even born with a silver spoon in their mouths as their fathers held important positions within the manor. This was especially true for the last two martial practitioners at the seventh and eighth level of the Refinement Realm; their relatives surely belonged to the upper echelon of Shattered Ice Manor.
The cultivation materials that these people kept closely guarded on their bodies were rare treasures from Shattered Ice Manor. The Hundred Vein Pill and Sea Opening Pill that belonged to the last two practitioners were painstakingly obtained by their elders in hopes they could breakthrough to the Natal Opening Realm.
Naturally a large commotion would erupt if spirit pills, that were considered rare for even the Shattered Ice Manor, were to appear in the midst of the Ling Family which was but a minor force.
“The combination of those spirit stones and pills are probably enough to produce a Natal Opening Realm martial practitioner!” Under the searing gazes of the crowd, Ling Kangan took a deep breath and spoke agitatedly, ”Chengye! Little Yushi doesn’t have much natural talent, hence I had believed it would be highly difficult for her to breakthrough to the Natal Opening Realm before she turned twenty. However, now that there are these spirit stones and pills, it is definitely not the same anymore! Barring any accidents, she should be able to breakthrough to the Natal Opening Realm before she turns twenty if she uses these cultivation materials!”
Most of the Ling Family members were gossiping between themselves, and their eyes fluctuated between envy, jealousy, and praise whenever they looked at Yushi.
Ling Chengye’s face was flushed red with excitement. He felt as though he had suddenly found paradise after having suffered in the deepest depths of hell. He kept nodding his head and was unable to find his tongue for a period of time.
Du Jiaolan and her Du family members were all wide-eyed as their gazes were still fixated on the spirit stones and pills, unable to accept the reality before their very eyes.
“Our Ling Family definitely cannot afford a bridal gift capable of producing a Natal Opening Realm martial practitioner; does anyone has anything else to add? Does anyone still believe that Chengye’s actions were inappropriate?” loudly questioned Ling Kangan. He scanned the crowd with bright, shining eyes and saw the Ling Family members lightly nodding their heads as though they no longer opposed the engagement.
“A fool is fine. Mn, an engagement ceremony in exchange for a massive amount of cultivation materials is definitely worth it.”
“I would agree if it were me. Isn’t it just an engagement ceremony with a fool? Little sister Yushi, if you are unwilling, I will gladly take your place! As long as I receive those gifts that can aid my breakthrough to the Natal Opening Realm before I’m twenty, it’s fine even if I immediately marry him, not to mention a mere engagement!” voiced someone loudly.
“Qin Lie is only fifteen, and you’re almost nineteen. Do you not care what others think of you anymore? Big sister Yushi, I’m only sixteen. If you feel resentful about it, why not let me take your place?” delicately chirped someone younger.
Hearing the cheers of those young girls, Ling Yushi’s beautiful eyes sparkled attractively. She turned her head over, seriously looking at Qin Lie who was by her side. Her previously gloomy expression had melted away and was replaced by a bright glow radiating from her face.
She understood that the spirit pills and stones with unclear origins from the cloth bag had not only harshly slapped the Du Family in their faces, it had also resolved two big problems for her father.
The generous bridal gifts were enough to dispel all doubts that the clan members had about her father, dissolving their distrust towards him. That was the first issue.
Secondly, those spirit stones could be used as a substitute for the spirit plants and herbs required to be tributed to Nebula Pavilion. Without the continued pressure from Nebula Pavilion, Du Jiaolan had no basis to question her father’s ability as Patriarch.
The sound of a drop of fresh blood hitting the ground attracted Ling Yushi’s attention. Looking down, she noticed that the drop of fresh blood came from Qin Lie’s hand that she had tightly gripped.
She too possessed a cultivation of the seventh level of the Refinement Realm. Additionally, she had been recently training in a spirit art that focused on sharp fingernails. Moreover, the palm was one of the most vulnerable piece of flesh on the human body…
Ling Yushi froze for an instant, quickly realizing that it was due to her overwhelming despair from before that she gripped Qin Lie’s hands with too much force, to the point where even she was unaware that her fingernails had pierced his palm.
Another drop of fresh blood fell. She raised her head to look at Qin Lie and found that his expression was still blank. Not once during the whole episode did he reveal any hint of pain, nor had he spoken a single word about it. He did not so much as even jerk his hand!
At this moment, she felt that Qin Lie’s eyes, those same eyes that seemed to be perpetually dull, were now actually filled with a boundless might!
She felt a deep cut in her maiden heart at this and a figure stealthily burrowed into her heart, branding her…
“I believe… that these bridal gifts were already prepared when Senior Qin Shan and I agreed on the engagement that year. Senior Qin Shan had told me before that the reason he readily lowered himself to stay at our Ling Family’s Herb Mountain was to treat Qin Lie.” Ling Chengye quickly regained his calm after his loss of control. He was the patriarch after all.
Pointing at his own head, Ling Chengye implied that Qin Shan was treating Qin Lie’s mind during their time in Herb Mountain’s caves.
“Before Senior Qin Shan passed away, he had informed me that Qin Lie’s mental problems would gradually improve and a complete recovery was definitely possible!” Ling Chengye’s creativity kicked into overdrive as his lies gradually grew more fluent, ”I didn’t expect Senior Qin Shan to be so robust. It was only a while ago that I had entered the inner portion of Herb Mountain and was shocked by senior’s masterpiece! I believe that senior’s cultivation level was definitely unfathomable. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any other explanation for the numerous tunnels and strange formations!
“I won’t hide it from anyone now, that was the first time I ventured into the inner portion of the mining caves, and I was shocked at the number of tunnels. I tried to delve deeper into the belly of the mountain, but I was befuddled by the strange formations. In the end, I could only return home in defeat.”
Ling Chengye looked at the crowd as he weaved some truths into his lies, ”As for whether spirit stones exist within the mountain, I personally believe that the answer to that is no. Should anyone think otherwise, they are free to take a look for themselves. The formations there do not injure, they only restrict people from proceeding further in. If something valuable is actually found within the mountain, then that would be a blessing for our entire Ling Family.”
After the family members’ suspicions were directed to Herb Mountain by shifting all responsibility onto the missing Qin Shan, resulting in everyone’s suspicions shifting to the Herb Mountain, he spoke in a serious tone, “I have already arranged for Third Brother and Xuanxuan to inform Nebula Pavilion about this matter. That is the reason why they are not in attendance for this ceremony. Mn, there is no need for everyone to worry. I will properly handle everything and not bring any trouble to the Ling Family.”
Following his explanation, the Ling Family members’ doubts started to be dispelled. They turned their heads in unison to berate Du Jiaolan and mock the two elders Ling Xiang and Ling Bo, who had ignored Chengye’s merits for material benefits. Some members of the family even went as far as saying that they were totally ridiculous and muddled with age.
The faces of Du Jiaolan and her sons paled as they heard the harsh comments from the crowd. She then knew that her meticulous plan to depose Chengye had failed miserably.
“Since Big Brother does not welcome us, we shall not stay any further to invite scorn!” Du Jiaolan steeled her face and took one cold glance at Qin Lie as she angrily led her Du Family members away.
“The plan to usurp the patriarch was actually spoiled by a fool, that damned person!” She was seething as she cursed in her heart after taking a final square look at Qin Lie.
Ling Xiang and Ling Bo were aware of their guilt and could not bear to stay any longer. They were pushed away in their wheelchairs by the Du Family.
“The ceremony continues!”
Ling Chengye looked deeply towards Qin Lie with eyes full of thought as he suddenly shouted.
Under the arrangement of an old woman and the complicated gazes of the crowd, the halted ceremony eventually continued. As the firecrackers rang out again, Qin Lie and Ling Yushi’s engagement ceremony was finally concluded.
The crowd gradually thinned out.
When only the Ling Family’s father and daughter pair, with a few other core members, were left, Qin Lie loosened his hand from Ling Yushi’s grasp and made his way outside as per his usual routine without treating the wounds on his palm, all while ignoring the shouts of the Ling Family and the delicate calls of Yushi.
“Qin Lie! Regardless of what happened to you, or whether you can hear me, I must really thank you this time!” Ling Family’s Patriarch raised his voice as he stepped out of the halls, chasing after Qin Lie’s back figure as he solemnly expressed his gratitude.
Qin Lie’s figure made towards Herb Mountain as usual without a single pause, rapidly disappearing from everyone’s sight.
“Chengye, do you believe that this Qin Lie has been pretending to be a fool?” Elder Ling Kangan’s heart shook as he blurted in surprise while shaking his head, “For over five whole years? Why? I don’t quite believe it.”
“Daddy, you’re saying, saying that Qin Lie…” Ling Yushi was thoroughly agitated upon hearing that exchange. Continuing in her small voice, “He… He isn’t really a fool?”
“I do not know either.” Ling Chengye laughed bitterly. “He is becoming more and more unfathomable. Also, I just don’t understand, where did he get those spirit pills and stones? It’s weird, this is seriously weird…”
“Didn’t Qin Shan leave those for him?” Ling Kangan was shocked.
Ling Chengye shook his head and said, “The previous speech was specifically for quelling our clan members. I practically had no interaction with Qin Shan at all, and I know nothing about him. However, it should be true that Qin Shan’s is not a normal person. As for how high his cultivation level is, I am simply unable to even make an estimate…”
“If it weren’t for the spirit pills and stones, we would really be unable to handle Du Jiaolan’s coup. I really did not expect Ling Xiang and Ling Bo to be bought over by her. It was truly a close call this time.” Ling Kangan was unceasingly worried even after the incident had finished. “Regardless, Qin Lie has helped us tremendously this time. He solved two of our biggest issues at once. Looks like Ling Yushi has to put up with him for two years or we would never be able to pay back this debt.”
“It’s nothing much…”
As she stared at the bloodstains on her right hand, recalling Qin Lie’s complete lack of resistance as she dug her nails into his palm, waves of ripples spread through Ling Yushi’s heart. She felt a dull ache in her heart for him as she no longer held any resentment.
“Shi’er, regardless of whether or not he really is a fool or just pretending to be one, please take good care of him for these two years as our Ling Family owes him at least that,” Ling Chengye sighed.
“Mn.” Ling Yushi nodded her head obediently as her beautiful eyes revealed a hint of joy, as though she was pleased to accept such an arrangement.