Yang Qi rested for a few days after returning from the Blackcorpse Mountains. Before long, it was time to attend the banquet at the city magistrate’s mansion.
City Magistrate Yan Gufeng had invited all of the unmarried, elite young ones from the rich and powerful clans to assess their potential as a future son-in-law.
The Yan Clan was massive, and ruled everything within five hundred kilometers of the city, making them the leader of at least a million citizens. Anyone who married into a clan like that would become wealthy beyond imagination. Even more relevant was the fact that Yan Feixia was studying at the True Dragon Institute, another powerful connection which could ensure that her husband’s path of cultivation in life went smoothly and without hitch.
The news had begun to spread half a month before, and had caused a windstorm of excitement among the elite young ones in Yanhaven. All of them had been preparing as best they could to win the favor of the beautiful Yan Feixia, and hopefully win her hand in marriage.
Yang Qi wasn't particularly interested in that. After being betrayed by Yun Hailan, who happened to be the beloved daughter of the city magistrate of Yundale-by-the-Sea, he had grown wary of women. Right now, his main focus in life was to pursue his cultivation, get stronger, restore his clan to glory, and get revenge on Yun Hailan and Song Haishan….
However, the Yan Clan had sent him an official invitation card, so there was no way he could refuse to go. If the Yang Clan wanted to survive in Yanhaven, then they absolutely could not afford to offend the Yan Clan in any way.
Yang Qi truly rested the days before going to the banquet. He didn't go into secluded meditation to work on cultivation. Instead, he spent time analyzing his experiences fighting demonlings in the Blackcorpse Mountains, especially his climactic battle with the white ape. Such deep analysis furthered his understanding of energy arts significantly.
The Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth had many marvelous aspects, such as the three great abilities of the Infernal Deity Spear, the Infernal Deity Aegis and the Fiend-Devil Wings. He was now very familiar with all three, and when he used them, it was truly like seeing an ancient godmammoth in action, trumpeting with its powerful trunk, pulling moons and stars down out of the sky. But when he hid them, they vanished as if into the depths of hell, where they rested in utter darkness. Not even a Master of Energy would be able to detect them.
In addition to all that, he continued to cultivate and practice the six forms of the Invincible King’s Fist. It was in this fashion that he went about preparing for the banquet.
All of the elite young ones would have a chance to compete amongst each other in energy arts at the banquet.
After all, in the Rich-Lush Continent, people respected strength. It didn’t matter if it was in the clan, the government or anywhere else, formal gatherings almost always involved martial arts competitions. In fact, it was even a custom for children during New Year's. Whoever performed the best would receive rewards from the clan, and enormous glory.
In many clans, the positions of the parents in the clan would often depend not just on their own energy arts, but also whether their children were talented in cultivation as well.
Obviously, Yang Qi couldn’t use his Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth during this gathering, only his clan’s energy arts. However, considering how incredibly powerful he already was, he was like a wild beast in human form, making even casual moves on his part very deadly.
In fact, he had recently worked a bit on the Golden Bell Rampart, and could easily form an enormous golden bell if he wanted, to a degree that far surpassed the black-robed man from the House of Shadowblight.
Due to his breakthrough, he had gained a much deeper understanding of cultivation. His advancement had been so rapid that, at the moment, not even someone in the Energy Incarnation level would be able to defeat him. Only someone in the ninth phase, the Master of Energy level, would have a chance at crushing him. Of course, considering he had his Fiend-Devil Wings now, if someone like that did come after him, he would still have the option to try to flee.
In only a few weeks, his martial arts had gone from being crippled to the point where he could at least begin to rival someone in the Master of Energy level. It was almost like a dream.
However, in his heart, he had not forgotten that it was all because of the golden imp that resided in his forehead.
That golden imp never moved, but seemed to be in the process of recovering, and could very well wake up one day. Thankfully, Yang Qi was patient. Whenever he worked with his energy arts, he would always take the time to try to communicate with the imp.
Unfortunately, after imparting the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth to him, it had never responded.
Yang Qi woke up, bathed and groomed himself, put on a fresh set of clothes, and then headed in the direction of the city magistrate’s mansion, invitation card in hand.
Virtually every part of the enormous Yanhaven buzzed with excited activity. Elite young ones from all of the aristocratic clans were dressed in their finest, heading to the city magistrate’s mansion with servants in tow.
Yang Qi didn’t bother bringing anyone. Nor did he take a horse cart or carriage. Instead, he strolled casually through the city toward the mansion.
The mansion was enormous, taking up well over ten thousand hectares within the city. A tributary of the Yan River formed a moat around it, and within its gurgling blue waters, it was just possible to see the shadows of machinery of war.
Simply put, only an insane person would think of trying to storm the city magistrate's mansion.
In addition to the moat, there were towering walls dozens of meters high, majestic and awe-inspiring, with a forest of battlements covering them. Soldiers and officers with profound energy arts patrolled the walls, and their watchful eyes would spot even birds who flew nearby.
There was also a veritable army of enormous projectile weapons with multiple barrels on the walls, which were armor-piercing flame ballistas which could shoot thousands of flaming crossbow bolts. In the face of fire from such ballistas, not even experts in the Master of Energy level could escape with their lives.
This entire mansion was a place of crouching tigers and hidden dragons, of concealed threats that would make it virtually impossible for any force to attack it.
When Yang Qi arrived and saw all of the defenses in place, he slowly shook his head. After all, he knew about a secret tunnel that led from the outside all the way to the depths of the mansion.
That information had been given to him by Yun Hailan, back when he had been sure that the two of them were meant for each other, and would run away together. Nowadays, his fantasies of only a few weeks before seemed pathetically childish.
By now, the city magistrate’s mansion surely knew about that secret tunnel, which meant that he couldn’t simply go in and out of the mansion as he pleased.
By the time he arrived, there were already young ones from various clans gathering at the main entrance of the mansion. There were sedan chairs pulling up, servants yelling, armored guards surveying the scene, and a host of other things going on.
And almost immediately, Yang Qi could sense numerous gazes locking onto him.
At the moment, his mind was clear, like a pool of deep water reflecting the starlight. He could feel every single one of those gazes, and without even turning in their direction, could ‘see’ who was looking at him.
It was a unique ability that came to those with very high energy arts.
Top experts were essentially impossible to ambush. As soon as anyone even looked at them, they would sense it.
Back in the Blackcorpse Mountains, that white ape had done that very thing, and had then used Thousand Kilometer Soul Locking on him.
Of course, Yang Qi was not at the level in which he could use the soul locking technique; until he reached the eighth phase, it wouldn’t do any good to even try to cultivate it.
“See that, guys? That’s the lousy Yang Qi from the Yang Clan. I can't believe he has the guts to show up at the city magistrate’s mansion!”
“Weren’t his martial arts crippled?”
“I heard he recovered. It’s probably because of some sort of miraculous spirit medicine his aunt sent him to heal his meridians. She practices cultivation at the Demi-Immortal Institute. Although, I heard another rumor that he got struck by lightning, and experienced some strange transformations afterward. Supposedly his martial abilities all returned. I don’t know if that’s true or not, though.”
“Bah! You really think he would recover from being struck by lightning? It was definitely some spirit medicine sent from his aunt. In any case, after what happened, he’s got to be on the outs with the city magistrate. I can’t believe he dared to come today. Don’t tell me he’s like the ugly toad who lusted after the beautiful swan!”
“That guy? He doesn’t look like he’s recovered to me. If he thinks he can win the heart of Miss Yan Feixia, then he’s a complete moron.”
Yang Qi heard every single word that people were saying, but all it provoked was a slight smile. Back when he had been little more than a weakling, if he had heard people saying things like that he would have been incensed. But right now, he didn’t really take it to heart. After all, he was on a higher level than these people now.
All of a sudden, a young man with a folding fan called out in a loud voice. “Well, what have we here? If it isn't Yang Qi! I heard your martial arts were crippled, and then recovered. Come come. Let me take a look at you! You’re here alone? No servants? Seems the Yang Clan really is completely bankrupt. Well, don't worry. You can come over to the Chen Clan and sell yourself into slavery. That way you’ll at least have enough to eat.”
This was one of the young elites from the Chen Clan, Chen Qing.  His cultivation base was more or less the same level as Yang Qi’s had been not too long ago, and he was about the same age. From the look of it, he had recently made an energy arts breakthrough.
He waved his fan gently, and a whirlwind sprang up, causing all of the dirt and pebbles within a hundred paces to turn into a tornado that bore down on Yang Qi.
This was Strength of the Tornado, and Chen Qing was clearly using it in the hopes of cutting Yang Qi down a few notches right off the bat.
Tornado energy arts were a consummate skill of the Chen Clan, and were capable of sweeping objects as large as millstones into their winds. They were definitely nothing to look down on. For a while, Chen Qing had been in the Energy Refinement level, but now he had broken through into Energy Eruption. The fact that he was at this banquet indicated that his clan was grooming him for future glory.
Considering that the Yang Clan and the Chen Clan had never really gotten along, a fact that was public knowledge, it was no surprise to anyone to see events playing out this way.
The human-sized tornado was upon Yang Qi in the blink of an eye, and the rubble inside of it made a loud buzzing noise. Anyone who got hit by that tornado would surely end up pock-faced and disfigured afterward.
Everyone looked on, chuckling at Yang Qi.
In response, Yang Qi reached out casually, sending some true energy exploding out which immediately crushed the tornado into complete silence.
Then he waved his hand again.
A palm of true energy sailed out, roughly the size of a water jug, that moved as fast as a meteor toward Chen Qing.
Before Chen Qing could react, it slammed into him, shredding to pieces his fan, clothing, jade pendants, and even the armor he had under his clothing. Buck naked, he tumbled backward through the air.
Along with him flew his sedan chair, as well as the eight guards he had with him. None of them could escape, and were soon coughing up masses of blood.
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