At the core of his heart, Zheng Song was overwhelmed by surging tides of emotion. He said in a wistful voice, “I really didn’t expect a matter like THIS could actually happen…”
“So that’s how it is! These weren’t special effects from the production team at all?” Liu Yurao heart was heating up in fervor, and she immediately followed up.
Pop. Just as her voice fell, all the video recorders and cameras began to emit smoke.
“What’s going on?”
Startled cries rose and fell, however, everyone saw Peony stand up, her face a vision of frosty coldness. Her hand in the air made a snapping motion and everyone quietly shut their mouths.
“Get out.” Peony directed a word towards the cameraman and the programming team. Without delay, they skedaddled without so much as a word. Although they didn’t know why… it seemed to be pretty awesome…
Inside the room, Peony’s high heels clacked as they rapped against the floor. The sound was similar to a graceful piano, but not one person thought her to be graceful at this moment. Liu Yurao, Zheng Song, and Manager Zhao were all tight-lipped, looking at Peony as if they had seen a demon.
So… this woman was the true mastermind behind the curtain? It was no wonder that this man didn’t know how to act. So it turned out that he didn’t even know a thing, eh?
It was unknown if what just happened moments ago was a coincidence or not. Everyone else was none the wiser, but Liu Yurao was already scared into a cold sweat. In her two-year career of Solving Secrets, she had visited many mystical places in order to produce a good program and had truly witnessed one or two strange events!
“I said it so many times.” Peony’s face was devoid of a smile. “I said it yesterday, and I said it today. Are you guys taking this seriously?”
“I don’t care about what you think. I’ll remind you all again.” Peony’s hand was gently placed on the table, and she rapped it neither swiftly nor slowly. “There are things that should be said and things that shouldn’t. Clear it up for me.”
“Otherwise, none of you will want to know about the consequences.”
Bang! The instant she forcefully lifted the table up, a large corner loudly thunked as it smashed into the ground!
In concert, the trio’s mouths formed an O-shape, and they looked at Peony in astonishment. They didn’t dare to believe whatsoever; this terrible woman was just unlucky, right? Wasn’t it just a tap? Were they mistaken? The table was new, right?
It didn’t just fucking snap off, right?!
The gash looked as if a blade had chopped through it. Was this even human?!
Liu Yurao’s hand tightly clutched at her chair. She was already half-standing. Among everyone’s hearts, hers was the most complex! This was the real supernatural! In this wink of time, she knew that she had chanced upon the true supernatural!
The government was covering it up… That’s how it absolutely was! The news of the Four Great Joint Pools was real! This cast and crew were fake!
The nexus of her brain was terribly chaotic. Suddenly, many past events, which started as extremely clamoring and later on slowly died out, emerged in her recollections, little by little. In this world… what was the government ultimately hiding?
An ice-cold gaze brushed over the dumbfounded trio, and each person shivered. Peony pushed back on her glasses in satisfaction. In the next second, she immediately bowed, and her cold frostiness dissipated away in an instant. She laughed, her gentle voice like the spring wind, “Commander, are you pleased with this?”
In the end, the orchestrator behind the scenes was this young man?! Everyone was dumbfounded.
Xu Yangyi laughed as he nodded, “You’ve done well.”
He praised me! The teenage dream praised me! The crook of Peony’s mouth curved upwards, and she gently pursed her lips, elegantly getting up. “Commander, you can continue. I’ll get you a hot coffee.”
Everyone continued in confusion, their eyes staring and tongues tied. This transformation of female superhuman to female servant had been too swift, so swift that they were unable to react.
“Ahem…” Xu Yangyi lightly coughed, and everyone’s vacant gazes gathered onto him. He laughed, “As things stand, I don't want to conceal it from everybody, either. That night, the military had a few minor operations there. It might’ve formed a bit of a disturbance to the people. I hope all of you can be proactive in your cooperation.”
One didn’t need to be too skilled to play the roles of the straight man and the hero. 
“Let’s start over…” In her heart, Liu Yurao 100% disapproved of Xu Yangyi and Peony’s statement, but as of now she wasn’t able to reject it. The interview progressed without so much as a hitch. After Xu Yangyi familiarized with things once, the rest was simple.
“This was nothing but a movie shooting,” he laughed towards the camera lens and said.
“Mr. Xu and Mr. Zheng happened to be filming China’s presently invested movie with the best 3D special effects, ‘Legend of the Demonslayer’.” Manager Zhang took his cue and promptly followed, “This is a major historical picture from Huayi Broadcasting Corp’s investment of 230 million Chinese dollars. Because the scene was too big, we had no choice but to use these special methods. As for the end, please watch the behind-the-scenes.”
“In this film, me and Mr. Xu are both leads. I’ll have to ask fans to continue looking forward,” Zheng Song laughed and answered. No video cameras took photos. Even now Zheng Song and Manager Zhang were clenching their sweaty palms. A few seemingly important questions had been dodged by the duo via ‘trade secrets’, ‘behind-the-scenes’, and other methods. After editing, the video clip would be spread all over the internet in a massive, systemic cover-up.
And as for the over a hundred people who held the ‘true’ video in their hands? It was of no consequence. There were over a billion people in China. How could the impact of over a hundred people be compared to the government’s operational power?
The thirty-minute interview was swiftly conducted. After the interview segment was completed, Zheng Song and Manager Zhang departed the premises as fast as they physically could. However, Liu Yurao hadn’t left.
“Mr. Xu…” she hesitated for a long time and finally gritted her teeth. “Sir, could I ask you to share lunch with me?”
What? Peony scrunched her nose in anger. I haven’t eaten, so how could it possibly be your turn, you old hag!
“I’m sorry, our itinerary is rather tight. Next time,” Peony cut in.
Liu Yurao’s mouth opened a few times. In the end, nothing came out. It was real, right? She really did wish to ask. However, she understood that some words were best left behind. She headed towards her office, the more she walked, the faster she became. Ultimately, she even began to run.
Without further delay… she had to watch all-related videos on the internet. She realized that perhaps in a few days, these videos might possibly no longer listed!
Liu Yurao, a woman and forty-two years old. After she had already been far removed from Solving Secrets, at long last did she touch upon a few truths of the world brought about by the cosmic misalignment of Yin and Yang. Even though this truth hadn’t been admitted, she was nevertheless content in knowing.
“Commander, we’ve gained a somewhat minor profit this time.” Just as they entered a car, Peony smiled and said, “Settling this business required two middle-grade spirit stones, a calculated figure of over 4 million Chinese dollars. This time, we earned a middle-grade spirit stone. However, the Xingtian Legion’s missions will be increasingly difficult in the future. In order to avoid similar situations happening, you should be a little careful.”
Just as Xu Yangyi opened his eyes from amidst relaxation, he said with a little confusion, “Why do we have to pay two middle-grade spirit stones?”
A hundred low-grade spirit stones were equal to a middle-grade one. A low-grade spirit stone was equal to 20,000 Chinese dollars, but 2 million Chinese dollars couldn’t buy a middle-grade spirit stone! He couldn’t find an end to this mystery of paying 200 low-grade spirit stones. This was no small figure.
“Commander,” Peony said helplessly, “Any similar matter that occurs requires the cultivator world to take responsibility… otherwise, the country will find things hard to manage. Once, President Skybearer engaged in arcane combat with Daomaster Mountainruler. He personally went to the South Sea back then and caused a level-ten tsunami. Afterwards, President Skybearer had to pay a compensation of a couple ten billion Chinese dollars… Renting out a provincial station and media cooperation, requesting the navy to pour water into the Four Great Joint Pools, video erasure, our video upload, and so on demanded a great financial sum… The court determined it to be so. Besides…”
She gently coughed, “One’s own misfortunes has to be settled by oneself, right…”
Xu Yangyi laughed, “Yes.”
“Our luck was good this time… Next time, after the legion is established, over a dozen initial Qi Condensation operatives might raze a small town to the ground if you’re not careful…”
Peony gazed at Xu Yangyi, wishing to continue on, but he laughed. “For my Xingtian Legion’s treasury, I’ll take care.”
“But if the Xingtian Legion’s fame isn’t great, instead of earning money, it’ll be like this time.” Peony followed with laughter, “The cultivation world only has a single television station. It’s the CSIB’s ‘Cultivation Comprehensive’ from 1 to 4. It uses a cultivator-dedicated satellite. There’s a pretty famous interview segment called ‘You Failed Today?’. It’s focused on interviewing cultivators making reparations for their ‘failed’ scenes after slaying demons. They were the ones that bought our content this time.”
“Why didn’t you say which video site it was?” Xu Yangyi raised a brow.
“The video has to be aired on television, as well… Commander, these working details can be considered menial labors. Your worry is unnecessary. Please have faith in me. As long as the Xingtian Legion’s fame goes up, even if we fail, we’ll make money all the same.”
Xu Yangyi laughed indifferently and shut his eyes to rest. The cultivation world’s development to the present had long since outstripped the past ancient cultivators, and while the realms achievable were lesser, the ancient cultivators of a thousand years ago and millenniums past were undoubtedly incapable of imagining today’s wonders.
However, Peony wouldn’t let go of this opportunity whatsoever to spend some alone time. She coughed softly and continued to speak, “There’s another matter of business…”
Xu Yangyi opened an eye and nodded.
“Commander, although it’s said mortals, demons, and cultivators are at peace on the surface, the cultivation world has never done away with wanted warrants and bounties. Demons also have wanted warrants out against humans. Both sides have tacitly agreed to this. Life is born from suffering, and death in peace…” Peony pursed her lips and laughed, opening an ultrabook. “I think… Commander will be quite interested in this.” Her fingers fluttered like a butterfly atop the keyboard. Less than two seconds later, a website appeared on the computer.
The Myriad Demons Palace.
Xu Yangyi’s expression grew a shade more solemn. This was demonkind’s ‘Chinacultivation.com’. Its reputation was impressive and likewise related to the bounties of human cultivators. It was also always active.
Peony clicked open a ranking link in a practiced motion.
‘Newly Promoted Human Cultivators Bounty Notice’.
She pointed to a name. “Commander, you’ve been listed…”
Xu Yangyi looked carefully and laughed. This list had approximately a hundred people on it. He looked at his own ranking: 99. The bounty… was ten high-grade spirit stones!
“Sir, apart from you, everyone above are Foundation Establishment Greater Demons.” Peony explained. “However, the bounty is based on a standard, not cultivation. Commander, you’re the second Qi Condensation cultivator in almost a century to be listed on this ranking!”
Xu Yangyi didn’t answer, but rather gently took the ultrabook.
“Xu Yangyi, male, twenty-four years old. Middle Qi Condensation, in the possession of a Core Formation arcane effort and a hidden killing move. Has cultivated Heavens Law’s Hundred Solutions to after Solution Eighty. Powerful and tyrannical, he will not lose to common demons. He has a demon familiar. Presently the Commander of the Featherwood Guard’s Xingtian Legion in Mingshui Province.”
“Crime: slaying my Ming Clan’s 18th God Ming successor. Plundering my Ming Clan’s assets. Should be inflicted with a death of a thousand cuts.”
“Bounty: ten high-grade spirit stones. The Ming Clan will not take a share of that which the bounty has on his person.”
“Exchange method: bring his head for viewing.”
“Special remarks: if captured alive, the reward is doubled.”
A high-grade spirit stone… was equal to 10,000 low-grade spirit stones! This was at least 2 billion Chinese dollars!
1. Straight man and hero. What is actually being said is along the lines of “sing red face, sing black face”. This is a reference to Peking opera. A character with a black mask is noted by his seriousness (the straight man). A character with a red mask is noted by his heroism.