Chapter 6: Tit for Tat

When Yang Qi saw that projected shield of energy arts, and sensed the unfathomable level of his father’s cultivation base, he couldn’t help but marvel. 

“Father’s energy arts and cultivation base are far beyond my own.”

His father truly did live up to his reputation of being a top master of the eighth phase, the Energy Incarnation level.

Although Yang Qi had already cultivated his Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth to the point of entering the fifth phase, Energy Eruption, compared to someone in the eighth phase, he was like the earth being compared to the heavens.

Each one of the nine phases of energy arts was worlds apart from the phases beneath or above it. And that was especially true of the final five phases: each one of which could increase one’s battle prowess by ten times!

“Although, as long as I keep absorbing the lightning mammoth, then eventually I won't be any different from father. Then I can face all problems head on. I can restore glory to the clan and handle my own crises!”

Keeping his aura reined in, he stood next to his father and looked out at the clan.

He had his father’s protection, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t sense the scorn and hatred in the eyes of the other clan members.

All of the important leaders had come to this forum.

The Zhaoluforth branch, the Baishiville branch…. Hundreds of years ago, the Yang Clan had existed only in Yanhaven. Later, the clan began to spread, opening up operations in numerous cities, which would ensure that a major disaster in one area wouldn’t lead to the fall of the entire clan.

As time passed, the clan had grown larger and larger, but the entire time, rulership remained within Yanhaven. The clan lord was always based in Yanhaven, and he had the authority to appoint or dismiss personnel in the branches. Furthermore, the subsidiary branches were required to offer a thirty percent tithe to the main branch on a yearly basis.

The clan lord was like the emperor, and the branches were like his feudal vassals.

Of course, the clan lord answered to the chief elders, who were the oldest members of the clan. However, they were mostly concerned with their personal cultivation, and were usually out tending to their own affairs. They would only return on important occasions, and left power and authority in the hands of the clan lord.

All the branches wanted to win the favor of the council of chief elders, and thus attain the position of clan lord.

Right now, Yang Qi’s actions had caused a huge disaster that was forcing the clan to sustain severe losses. Therefore, all of the subsidiary branches had come. In fact, some of them had already petitioned the council of chief elders to strip Yang Zhan of the position of clan lord and give it to someone else.

As for Yang Qi, his experience of being betrayed had forced him to grow up a bit, and he knew full well what was at stake.

If his own family fell from grace, who knew what fate would be in store for himself?

When Yang Shi saw Yang Zhan protecting Yang Qi, he laughed uproariously. “You're still protecting that dirty little swine of yours, eh Yang Zhan?” 

As Yang Shi sat there in his chair, the coldness around him caused snowflakes to appear and flutter in the air around him.

In fact, it made the entire hall cold.

The weaker individuals present were already shivering, and some of the younger ones were forced to actively draw upon their energy arts to drive away the cold.

At the same time, excitement lit their faces, as they knew that a great show was about to play out in front of them. Yang Shi from Baishiville was the first to start putting pressure on Yang Zhan.

And of course, the first thing he did was use Yang Qi’s unfilial actions as the basis for his accusation.

“If my son is no better than an animal,” Yang Zhan said coolly, “does that mean you’re calling me a beast too? Do you really need to make such oblique accusations?”

Yang Shi let out a cold harrumph. He rose to his feet, frigid energy swirling around him as he said, “The Yang Clan has been saddled with a debt of stupefying proportions. And your son is responsible for the losses! Even if he were chopped into tiny bits he couldn’t atone for such heinous crimes. Therefore, you had better provide a good explanation. And that’s not to mention that your parenting techniques are clearly useless, meaning that you also bear responsibility for the debt. You should tender your resignation immediately to the council of chief elders, and allow us to select a new clan lord!”

Yang Zhan remained in place, as unmoving as a boulder. “Oh? You want to select a new clan lord? So that's what this is all about. The position of clan lord isn’t one that can be filled by just any old person. Don’t tell me you want to be the new lord, Yang Shi? Could you even handle the responsibility?”

“Yang Zhan!” Yang Shi barked. Then, he waved his hands out in front of him, causing all of the frigid energy in the area to form together into a crystalline spear, covered with complex patterns. Instantly, the power of the spear caused the blistering summer day to turn as cold as winter.

Without any hesitation, Yang Shi threw the spear, sending it spiralling through the air toward Yang Zhan.

Pupils constricting, Yang Zhan said, “True Heat Wave.”

At the same time, he waved his hand out in front of him, causing a blast of hot air to shoot toward the crystalline spear, which melted in the course of only a few short moments.

Next a cracking sound could be heard as the tiles beneath Yang Shi’s feet began to break into pieces.

This was what happened when masters in the eighth phase of energy arts contended with each other.

All it took was one move for it to be clear who was in the winning position, and who was in the losing position. Clearly, Yang Zhan had the upper hand; Yang Shi was just not ready to take him on.

“So, Yang Shi, your energy arts have already reached the eighth phase, the Energy Incarnation level. You can finally perform a Mind Incarnation. Unfortunately, that alone is not enough to take the position of clan lord away from me. You’re still too weak.”

Yang Qi stood there behind his father, fascinated by what he was seeing. His father was definitely a true master. His energy arts were so profound he could casually turn what was cold into what was hot. He was essentially impervious to all sorts of weapons.

Flicking his golden cloak, Yang Shi said, “I have more moves than that, Yang Zhan! Let’s keep going and see who comes out on top!”

With that, he took a step forward, his desire to do battle surging.

“Enough, enough,” Yang Xu said in a loud voice. “This is supposed to be a clan forum, not a duel. Even if you beat him, Yang Shi, that wouldn’t make you clan lord. The council of chief elders would have to hold a clan election meeting. That’s the only way for anyone to officially become the new clan lord.” With that, Yang Xu waved his fan twice, sending out a majestic breeze that cleared the tension from the air and restored peace.

This was his Positive Yang Energy Art, something that was pure and harmonious in all ways.

“So what are you suggesting be done, Yang Xu?” Yang Zhan asked, remaining seated on his clan lord’s throne. “If you think you're going to lay a hand on my son, you might as well just not say anything. His martial arts have been crippled, and his sea of energy destroyed. Not only that, he was struck by lightning. God himself has doled out enough punishment. The fact that he wasn’t killed by the lightning shows that his crimes have been absolved, and that God has forgiven him.”

Although Yang Xu looked like a scholar, when he spoke, it was with words as venomous as a snake. “Your son might be crippled, but that doesn’t take the death penalty off the table. Before coming here today, I already discussed this matter with my clan brothers, and have prepared a few demands. First: we will not pay a single coin of the money to compensate for the Latent Dragon Pill. Your son committed the crime, and therefore, the clan itself will not bear responsibility. You're on your own when it comes to providing that compensation. Second: You will step down as clan lord because of this incident. Third: You must hand over your son to us immediately to be punished.”

Yang Xu’s broad smile did nothing to conceal his sinister intentions.

Yang Qi was starting to get very nervous. If the clan wouldn’t pay for the Latent Dragon Pill, and forced the debt onto his father’s shoulders, it was terrifying to consider what it would do to them.

In terms of clan seniority and ranking, Yang Xu was his fourth uncle, but at the moment, he clearly wanted him dead.

“Those are your three demands?” Yang Zhan said, smiling coldly. “Well, let me respond. First: although my son acted alone, he’s still a member of our clan. The clan is responsible for protecting him, even if it means a fight, and that includes all of you. Second: I will not step down as clan lord. Third: I won’t hand my son over to you.

“I refuse to comply with any of your demands. I'm the clan lord, and if any of you defy my orders, it will be considered a major crime!”

Yang Shi, Yang Zhen, Yang Xu, and many of the other top experts in the clan were visibly taken aback. One by one they began to speak. 

“Yang Zhan, you….”

“Your son screwed up, and you want us to pay for it? Do you really think that because you run the clan, you can do whatever you want, defy all laws and principles, even of the heavens? What do you want, to fracture the clan?”

“You’re being too protective of your son, Yang Zhan.” 

Eventually, one older man who had held his tongue up to this point said, “Since your son’s martial arts were crippled, we can let the matter of his punishment drop. But you definitely have to provide the compensation on your own. And regarding the matter of the position of clan lord, that is indeed out of our power. However, we’ve already submitted a petition to the council of chief elders, and it won’t be long before we hear back from them. So why don’t we just wait patiently until they reply?”

This particular old man actually outranked Yang Zhan, being his third uncle. He also ran an entire nearby city. However, he wasn’t one of the chief elders. The chief elders were all ancient, most of them being more than a hundred years of age and in the ninth phase of energy arts. Being in the Master of Energy level, but running short on longevity, they were all holed up in secluded meditation, hoping to break out of the ninth phase and into the tenth phase, the Lifeseizing level.

Moments ago, Yang Zhan had seemed to be unwilling to back down. But as the clan lord, he had no desire to see the clan fractured. And he also knew that asking the clan to pay for the Latent Dragon Pill wasn’t really appropriate.

“For your sake, Third Uncle, I’ll back down,” he said to the old man. “I’ll pay for the Latent Dragon Pill, and I’ll also wait for a response from the chief elders before commenting on the position of clan lord. If they don't want me to serve in that position, then fine. But I'm definitely going to do everything I can to help my son recover.” 

“Why don’t we make an agreement right here and now?” Yang Xu said, waving his fan. “Yang Zhan, your son Yang Qi really let down the clan, but you have two other sons who supposedly have excellent cultivation bases. Although they are working on their cultivation outside of the clan, they will surely come back for this meeting. Why don’t we have a little competition between the younger ones, to see who is really the best among them all? The council of chief elders will surely give the winner a reward. After all, it will only be a handful of years before the clan lord of the next generation needs to be selected.”

“Fine,” Yang Zhan said, nodding. “A competition among the younger ones would be appropriate. Hui’er and Xiong’er are both on their way back, and neither one of them are crippled.”

It was in that exact moment that the sound of footsteps could be heard as the clan steward hurried over. From the blood which spattered his robe, it was obvious that something big had just occurred.

All of a sudden, Yang Qi had a very bad feeling.

Something momentous had occurred!

‘What’s wrong?’ he thought.

“Lord….” the steward said, looking around at the crowd. 

At this point, someone chuckled darkly and said, “What? What happened? Not a good time to speak up? Scared? Come on, we’re all members of the Yang Clan.” 

Clearly, all of them assumed that something more had gone wrong for Yang Zhan.

“Speak, steward,” Yang Zhan said, his voice serious.

Sounding very grim, the steward said, “Lord, the first young master and second young master were ambushed on their way here. They’re both seriously injured….”

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