The sun shone bright in the sky, and Yanhaven buzzed with activity.
Local officials went up and down the streets, knocking on doors to deliver colorful lanterns, beautiful decorations, and fireworks to the common people. All households received gifts of medicinal pills.
Many visitors to the city still didn’t know what was going on.
In one particular restaurant was a group of people who were clearly wandering heroes of the martial world, feasting to their hearts’ content. When they noticed all the activity in the city, one of them said, “Hey shopkeep. What's going on here in Yanhaven? It’s not New Year or any other festival. What’s the buzz all about?”
“Ah, you must not have heard.” the shopkeeper replied. “The Yang Clan’s Third Young Master has returned from the Demi-Immortal Institute. He’s a god-like Lifeseizer, an elite student who has received rewards from the Sage Ancestor Dynasty! It’s only natural that the Yang Clan would want the whole city decorated with lanterns and colored banners. In fact, there’s going to be a banquet this evening for all of the big clans— er, no, for all the government officials.”
It was still a big change to have the clans be called government officials, and the shopkeeper had to correct his wording in mid-sentence.
One of the wandering jianghu heroes, a man with a thick beard, looked at the shopkeeper with flashing eyes and said, “With a Third Young Master like that, the Yang Clan is obviously a top-level power!”
This hero’s energy arts were profound; although he carried no weapon, he had thick, gnarled fingers, and a barbaric air that made it obvious he could rip wild beasts to pieces.
“That’s exactly right,” another of the wandering heroes said, a burly, middle-aged man. “Out here in the countryside, Lifeseizers are gods. But things are different back home. That said, elite students from the Demi-Immortal Institute are not to be looked down upon. Our House of Spring and Autumn can't even compare to them.”
This man carried no weapon either, only a scroll tucked into his belt, making him look something like a scholar. The laws of Yanhaven were very strict; anyone who wanted to carry a weapon had to register their name with the authorities to be able to enter the city.
Such rules had many of the heroes of the jianghu a bit frustrated.
Most jianghu wanderers were in the fourth phase of the Energy Arts level, or perhaps the fifth, and did odd jobs for a living. Obviously, people like that couldn’t defy the Yang Clan’s armed forces. After all, the army was populated by top masters.
“Calm down,” said another of the jianghu wanderers, a young man. “We’re not here to fight Yang Qi, just get information. Those disciples who went missing were last seen in Yanhaven, and it seems likely they fell victim to the Yang Clan. Now that Yang Qi has returned, it’s the perfect opportunity for Lord Lie to come and question him personally. It would be courting death for the measly Yang Clan to hurt someone from the House of Spring and Autumn. And as for the Demi-Immortal Institute, well, you know the old saying: distant water won't put out a fire close at hand.”
The people in this group were disciples from the House of Spring and Autumn. They were actually all Masters of Energy who had simply disguised themselves as jianghu wanderers.
Rising to his feet, one of the group said, “Very well. Send a message to notify Lord Lie that the Yang Clan is having a formal banquet tonight, and that Yang Qi will be in attendance.”
Moments later, a sparrowhawk shot up into the air and flew off into the distance, a tiny message attached to its right leg.
Meanwhile, some distance away from the city was a forested region that was as still as death. Countless birds and animals could be seen littering the ground, their bodies pitch black from whatever poison it was that had killed them.
Deep within that forest was an area of swirling mist in which even the plants and vegetation were dead.
Not even the vipers could handle the poison, and had burrowed deep into the ground to escape it. Unfortunately, not even that could save them. The poisonous mist seeped into the earth, killing everything, and transforming the area into a rotten swamp.
Unexpectedly, there were people within that misty area.
They were expert fighters who wore black clothing, and who were clearly unafraid of the deadly energy around them. In fact, they were the source of it.
“Did you hear that?” one of the men said. “Yang Qi is back from the Demi-Immortal Institute. Now is the perfect opportunity to make a move. The only reason we didn’t dare to do anything to the Yang Clan was that he was holed up in the Demi-Immortal Institute. If we wiped out his clan when he was away, he would never let the matter drop until he got revenge.”
“Our House of Shadowblight lost too many men here in Yanhaven,” another of the men said, “killed by the Yang Clan. A puny city magistrate dared to contend with us? What a joke. Let’s wipe them out completely. If we don't, the dignity of our house will be forever stained.”
“But as a student of the Demi-Immortal Institute, if we kill Yang Qi, won’t there be repercussions? What do we do about that?”
“Hmph! It's not like the Demi-Immortal Institute holds sway over the entire continent, right? Our House of Shadowblight originally comes from the Western Continent. The Demi-Immortal Institute only holds sway in the Rich-Lush Continent. Besides, we’re like shadows. We strike in the dark, and then vanish without a trace. Even if they wanted to retaliate, they wouldn't know where to find us.”
“In that case, let’s just wipe out the entire Yang Clan.”
“That's not a bad idea. Although, our orders were to kill Yang Qi in front of all the other clans of Yanhaven. If we strike fear into their hearts, and show them that we don’t even care about students from the Demi-Immortal Institute, then they’ll definitely acknowledge allegiance to us. We want to control Yanhaven, not leave it an empty shell.”
“Our leader has really thought things through. Well, doing everything in one shot will be sure to stamp out the source of trouble. Alright, I’ll send a message to the leader informing him of the situation. Tonight, the Yang Clan gets exterminated. It’s a night of rejoicing for them, but as the saying goes, great joy begets sorrow! Soon, the game will begin.”
Plots were afoot now that Yang Qi had returned home.
In the numerous clans that had been forced to serve as vassals, a variety of attitudes could be found. However, not a single clan could refuse to attend the banquet.
Hours ticked by as evening approached. Soon, lanterns were being lit city-wide, and fireworks were going off.
All the commoners in the city felt prosperous and content.
Meanwhile, a stream of carts and carriages were making their way to the royal palace, the various powerful and noble clans coming to attend the banquet, and see this ‘god’ of the Yang Clan, Yang Qi.
Many of the energy artists present had never even seen a Lifeseizer before.
The main square of the palace was jammed with tables, all of them laden with food and wine. Music filled the air, and dances were being performed. Yang Zhan looked out at all of his government officials, and sighed in satisfaction.
It was still fresh in the minds of everyone present how the Yang Clan had recently been in a very difficult predicament.
But now, they were a force to be reckoned with. Although they still didn't count for much when compared to the Rich-Lush Continent as a whole, they did rule over hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of land. And likely, that arrangement would continue for generations to come.
Yang Qi sat next to Yang Zhan as the various clans came to offer greetings. A deep and sophisticated expression could be seen on his face; he was nothing like the ‘clan-wrecker’ he had been in the past.
In barely a year, the clan-wrecker had become a god.
‘So this is Yang Qi. His aura is incredible! So profound. It’s like his every move and action corresponds to the heavenly dao.’ Even the chief elders of the various clans were shocked.
When everyone was present and seated, Yang Zhan stood and addressed the crowd in a booming voice. “Ladies and gentleman, my son is back from the Demi-Immortal Institute, and in the hopes that all of you can share in my joy and satisfaction, I'm throwing this banquet. Please, eat and drink to your heart’s content.”
“Congratulations, Your Majesty!” the ministers all responded in unison.
By now, the chief elders of the Yang Clan truly felt respect and reverence for Yang Qi. As for all the younger clan members, they were even more passionate in their support for him.
However, it was right in this moment of jubilant exultation that an ear-piercing string of laughter swept through the royal palace.
Shocked, everyone looked around to see what was happening.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh…!
Suddenly, several shadowy figures descended from above, almost like meteorites. When they slammed into the ground in the middle of the banquet, an energy field shot out, destroying numerous banquet tables, and forcing countless guests to leap backward to safety.
The entire banquet was immediately thrown into chaos.
“An ambush!” one of the Yang Clan guards shouted, rushing forward.
“You bunch of chickens and dogs. How dare a country bumpkin declare himself king here! You throwing an imitation royal banquet is like a bunch of monkeys dressing up as people. Completely unacceptable.”
There were seven people present, led by a man in golden clothing that looked almost like raging flames. From the disdainful look in his eyes, he was like a mighty imperial minister come to the countryside, where he encountered a bunch of peasants.
“Stay your hand,” Yang Qi barked. Immediately, the Yang Clan guards stopped moving. With that, he rose to his feet and stepped forward.
Smiling coldly, he said, “Who are you people? This is a day of celebration for the Yang Clan. What gives you the right to come uninvited and ruin the festivities?”
“You’re Yang Qi?” the young man said imperiously. “Newly promoted elite student from the Demi-Immortal Institute? Even if you are, I don't care. I'm Lord Lie from the House of Spring and Autumn. I've come to Yanhaven to investigate the disappearance of some fellow disciples. They were last seen here, and after some investigation, I've come to the conclusion that the Yang Clan was involved. It’s on the authority of the elders of the House of Spring and Autumn that I have come today to condemn the Yang Clan for their misdeeds, and arrest the perpetrators. Thankfully, you’re here today, so please, come with me.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter