Chapter 407: Secret Troops

“Damn it!” Feng Yicheng punched a wall of the now-empty mines. A swordsman by his side had eyes so red he was almost tearing up. “There were at least a hundred carriages’ worth of raw spirit crystals remaining in the mine, enough for tens of thousands of refined crystals! Even hundreds of thousands, if we include the mid- and low-grade crystals as well!”

This swordsman, a man named Zhang, had been responsible for guarding the spirit crystal veins. When the Pi family seized the mine, he had broken out of the encirclement and sent word to the Feng family.

“We sent troops as quickly as we could, so how did they still manage to get all those spirit crystals out? It would have taken at least a whole day to do so!” Feng Yicheng exclaimed, not understanding what tricks the Pi family had pulled.

“A hundred carriages’ worth of spirit crystals…” Zhang murmured mournfully.

“We know how,” Yun Ruoyan began.

“You do?” Feng Yicheng and Zhang both turned to her.

Li Mo nodded. “While heading toward Peak Darkness, we saw a procession of carriages along the way, bringing spirit crystals from the mine.”

“There were ten such shipments in all, each full of spirit crystals,” Yun Ruoyan continued. “From the guards responsible for the shipment, we found out that the crystals were being sent to the Pi family through secret tunnels that the Feng family isn’t aware of.”

The gathered men were so furious that many were sputtering—the Pis were thieves and hooligans, and they had even gotten away with their ploys!

“At the very least, we managed to secure one shipment. It’s right below the mountain, so let’s have it sent back to the Feng family immediately.”

Although the Fengs had won this fight, it had cost them more than they had gained. Luckily, with Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan’s help, they were at least able to recover some of their losses. 

When they returned to the Feng city, Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan reported what had happened during their visit to the Lie city to Feng Yanyang, who seemed pleased by the fact that the Lies were now a neutral party. Near the end of their discussion, Li Mo asked, “When I fought with the Pi family, I found that they seemed to have a lot more sword saints. What’s going on?”

Feng Yanyang and Feng Bo glanced at each other. “Feng Yicheng’s already reported this to me,” Feng Bo began. “You know about the Feng family’s secret troops, and the other six families all have such swordsmen of their own, specially cultivated to serve each family in times of dire need.”

In general, such troops were a last resort, and Feng Bo and Feng Yanyang had been shocked to realize that the Pi family was already bringing them out in full force.

“I’ve told you before that the Feng family has its own secret troops, but not where exactly they were—well, they’re the guards responsible for maintaining order within the Feng city.”

“The Feng city guards?” Yun Ruoyan doubted her ears. Although she had never entered the barracks, Qin Feng and Zhuo Yifeng had told her that the guards were at most ninth-rank blademasters, and there were no sword saints in their rank.

Yun Ruoyan suspected that either she had misheard or that Feng Bo was joking with her. The Pi family might have been hegemons on the Mingyuan continent, but were the Fengs really so weak?

Feng Bo smiled. “I’ve simply had them hide their strength.”

All cultivators were able to suppress their cultivation, but ones who could do so so completely, to such an extent that Qin Feng and Zhuo Yifeng, who had lived with them for quite some time, were still unaware…

“There’s no need to be so shocked.” Feng Yanyang also began to smile. “Feng Bo’s particularly adept at hiding his true cultivation, so it’s only natural that he’s taught his subordinates to do the same.”

Feng Yanyang wasn’t wrong. Feng Bo looked like a richly dressed merchant, but as soon as he put on his black robe, he was able to fight on equal terms with even Pi Yan himself. Furthermore, despite exchanging many a blow, Pi Yan hadn’t realized his true identity until Feng Bo’s hood had been cut apart by a miscalculation.

When Qin Feng and Zhuo Yifeng found out about the news, they were initially a little shocked, but soon began to nod in realization. Despite how well the swordsmen had hidden, Qin Feng and Zhuo Yifeng still noticed something amiss. However, they were only temporary members of the team, and none of the guards bore them any ill will. As guests, it would have been inappropriate to pry into their business.

“No wonder I felt as though Old Lin was holding back whenever he sparred with me!” Qin Feng exclaimed.

Zhuo Yifeng thought back to his own duels with the guards. They had only ever sparred with their blows, not with spiritual energy. He doubted he would be able to beat any of them if it were so.

Now that the Pis had pulled off a heist against the Fengs, the fighting between the two families finally abated. However, given what had happened, the Fengs were already preparing for the Pis’ next sneak attack.

During this relatively calm period of time, the courtesan troupe had also been recalled to the Feng city. Feng Yanyang himself greeted and praised their efforts: even before the battle had started, the troupe had already managed to gather hundreds of smaller families to the Feng family. Even now, they were still actively operating within Pi, Wu, and Chen territory to try to undermine their hold on power from within.

Although the minor families didn’t seem to have much use, they would become more and more critical as the Fengs and Pis weathered each other down. However, to be active so deep in enemy territory was a dangerous affair, and Feng Yanyang offered them the choice of staying with the Feng family and being protected for life.

Madam Hong, A Fei, and Xiao Qing all rejected Feng Yanyang’s offer. Yun Ruoyan tried to persuade them to stay, cognizant of the danger, but Madam Hong firmly refused, stating that she couldn’t rest until the Pis were exterminated.

And if the Feng family were to fall, then how would they be able to provide any shelter against the Pis? As a result, the troupe set off once again into the heart of enemy territory.

Feng Yicheng accompanied Madam Hong and the others as they departed. When he returned, his face seemed to be glowing with happiness.

Yun Ruoyan asked what had happened to him, but Feng Yicheng only smiled and refused to answer. It was later that she found out from Li Mo that Feng Yicheng had proposed to Madam Hong, who had accepted. As long as he didn’t mind her birth, then she would happily be his bride the day the Pi family was exterminated.

Yun Ruoyan had found this out from Li Mo while they were drinking in the garden. She smiled, then tipped her cup of wine toward Li Mo. “For Madam Hong’s happiness, we have to eradicate the Pis.” She drained her cup, then stumbled. 

Li Mo couldn’t help hiding a laugh. He stood up and embraced her tightly, clutching her until she looked up at him. “It’s dark now, my little consort. We should rest.”

A night tussling in the sheets, followed by sweet dreams for them both…

The cool night air was agony for Zhuo Yifeng. As the demonic spirit in his soul grew stronger, he found himself less and less able to control it, particularly while fighting. Initially, he hadn’t wanted to kill the enemy swordsmen, but the demonic spirit had suddenly wrested control of his body and done so for him.

It wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if the spirit only struck while he was fighting against a true enemy, but once, while Zhuo Yifeng was engaged in a duel with one of the city guards, as the battle grew more intense, Zhuo Yifeng found himself unable to control his body.

Luckily, the guard had displayed his true strength and blocked the deadly blow. It was that close shave that had caused Zhuo Yifeng to be particularly cognizant of the danger that the malicious spirit represented. He thought up many ways of trying to remove the spirit from his body, but none seemed practical.

“When will you leave my body?” Zhuo Yifeng asked. He’d tried to expel him with his own spiritual energy, almost giving himself an internal injury but without budging the spirit one bit.

“We’re destined to remain together ever since that day you accepted me into your body,” the demonic spirit replied, cackling.

“And if I die?” Zhuo Yifeng asked coldly. “Will I be rid of you if I die?”

When the demonic spirit heard Zhuo Yifeng’s threat, he immediately quailed. “Hey, hey! I was just joking with your friend! Weren’t you always curious about their true level of cultivation? I was just testing them for you!”

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