Chapter 25: Yi Family Recruitment
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“Huh? Young Master, why did you return so early today? Did you not go to the Martial Arts Hall?”
Xiaonu was washing laundry in the yard when she heard footsteps and turned her head. Beaming immediately upon seeing him, her large eyes formed lovely crescents as she smiled and got up to greet Jiang Yi.
Jiang Yi stroked Xiaonu’s head and nodded. “Xiaonu, come in for a moment. I have something important to tell you.”
As if sensing the heaviness residing in Jiang Yi’s heart, Xiaonu’s smile froze on her face. She hurriedly followed Jiang Yi into the house, stopping to pour a glass of water for him before asking with her eyes wide. “Young Master, what happened?”
Jiang Yi pursed his lips and forced out a smile. “It’s nothing serious. Just that… I was assigned to a secret mission by the Martial Arts Hall so I may have to be away for three months. I’m a little worried to leave you here all by yourself.”
Xiao patted her chest, mouth curving into an innocent smile. “And here I thought it was something severe. Go ahead, Young Master! Xiaonu will be fine. I can take care of myself! Young Master will do great things in the future and will have to venture out after all.”
“… Great things…!”
Shaking his head, Jiang Yi smiled bitterly. He had never had any grand ambition or aspiration; nor did he wish to achieve great things. All he ever wanted was to live a peaceful life with Xiaonu, and yet why must fate mess with him so? Troubles were plaguing him from both within and without; there were enemies trying to kill him from in and out of the family clan. The only way for him to secure a stable and happy life was endeavoring to cultivate and striving hard to succeed.
“Oh, that’s right!”
It dawned on Jiang Yi to retrieve the command token from his chest pocket and showed it to her. “Xiaonu, look what I’ve got.”
“Ah? It’s the command token!” Xiaonu cried out in a pleasant surprise, “Young Master, you’ve managed to redeem it? But how did you procure ten taels of purple gold?”
“The Martial Arts Hall gave them to me!”
Jiang Yi gave a piece of purple gold leaf to Xiaonu and left her with some instructions. “Here, keep this gold leaf and take good care of yourself in the three months that I’m gone. Bear one thing in mind—under no circumstance are you to leave the Jiang Clan courtyard. Fengyue Brothel will not purposely come looking for trouble, but that can’t be guaranteed if you wander out. As long as you are in this courtyard, no harm will come to you. If anyone asks for my whereabouts, just tell them I’m going away for three months, but do not tell them that I’m working for the Martial Arts Hall, do you understand?”
“Mm-mm!” Taking the gold leaf, Xiaonu nodded emphatically and cracked a toothy grin, revealing two adorable little canines. “Don’t worry, Young Master. I will not go beyond this courtyard.”
Jiang Yi was somewhat relieved at Xiaonu’s promise. The Jiang Clan took its laws very seriously, especially the one about not implicating one’s family members in conflict. Hence, Jiang Ruhu’s grudge should lie with him alone and would probably not make things difficult for Xiaonu lest the family clan got wind of it. Then, there would be consequences.
With another stroke of Xiaonu’s head, Jiang Yi got up and said, “All right, I’ll go inform Chief Rong. Xiaonu, wait for my return.”
Jiang Xiaonu nodded smilingly. She expressed only concern at Jiang Yi’s departure and not a trace of reluctance, “Please be careful, Young Master. I will be sure to make you dumplings when you get back.”
Jiang Yi turned around and shut his eyes in anguish. He marched out the doors without a backward glance at Xiaonu, for… he was afraid that looking at her any longer would render him incapable of leaving.
“Young Master, all the best!”
Jiang Xiaonu followed Jiang Yi to the gates and stood there watching him leave, steadily waving goodbye with a sweet smile on her small face.
It was only until Jiang Yi’s figure disappeared in the distance that Jiang Xiaonu’s waving stumbled to a stop, and her smile froze instantly. With twin tracks of tears streaming silently down her face, she gazed in the direction Jiang Yi had gone and murmured, “Young Master, Xiaonu doesn’t know what has happened, but something must have gone seriously wrong, or you would not have left Xiaonu like this! Young Master, don’t you worry about me. Be free to do whatever you wish—I will be waiting for you at home. If… you were to die, Xiaonu would not live this life either. Xiaonu would still be your maidservant in the Netherworld Realm.”
“What? You are quitting? And leaving for three months?”
In his quarters, Chief Rong flew into a rage upon hearing Jiang Yi’s words. Slamming down on the table, he shot up from the chair, ready to give Jiang Yi a dressing-down. However, before any word of rejection could pass his lips, Chief Rong became distracted with the two pieces of gold leaves that made their way under his nose.
Jiang Yi watched Chief Rong slyly putting away the gold leaves, a sliver of disgust wormed into his heart. He pitched his voice low, “Chief, this is my tributary offer to you! I’m leaving this time to go harvest herbs in the mountain with a few landlopers. If I happened to find anything good, there would be more tributes for you when I’m back. Please help me… deal with the family in the meantime.”
Chief Rong’s expression gentled right away. He patted Jiang Yi’s shoulder kindly, “Good, Jiang Yi. You, little brat, have quite the capability. I understand. A young man like you… it’ll be good for you to venture out for some experience and toughening, but you have to be careful. Return to the family clan in three months lest things turn complicated if they investigate the matter and deem you a renegade of the family clan…”
Jiang Yi nodded; he would not have willingly given Chief Rong the two pieces of gold leaves if he wouldn’t intend to prevent exactly that from happening. The Jiang Clan had strict family laws: any member who left the family clan without permission would be pronounced as a renegade. Should such a fate befall on Jiang Yi, it would be better if he was already dead than being found by any of the Jiang Clan descendants who would have unopposed authority to kill him on sight.
Jiang Yi bid Chief Rong farewell after the repeated promises to return in three months’ time. He swiftly exited the Jiang Clan from the north gates and wrapped himself up with a cloak the moment he was out the door, striding briskly towards the Martial Arts Hall.
He reached the Martial Arts Hall safely in under an hour with the help of the wisp of black essence force he transferred to his ears halfway. In addition, he had deliberately picked the small alleyways on his way here to ensure there was no one tailing him.
Manager Yang was not displeased at Jiang Yi’s intention to go into seclusion at the Martial Arts Hall for three months. Rather, he generously waived Jiang Yi’s boarding expenses. Jiang Yi was able to concentrate all his energy into cultivation to elevate his powers to the fourth stage of the Cast Tripod Realm. In doing so, the Martial Arts Hall would then acquire a gold token-grade sparring partner who charged by each match.
Jiang Yi’s quarter was a tiny room within the grand hall of the Technique Practicing Room. Besides the one sparring match he had every day with Yi Lingxue, he spent the rest of the time holed up in his room cultivating in seclusion. Manager Yang even kept him out of the grand hall for fear that young masters and mistresses alike would call for him as their sparring partner, thereby interfering with his cultivation time.
Yi Lingxue was indeed a strange girl—she would come to the Technique Practicing Room every afternoon and ask for Jiang Yi for a sparring match. Despite losing every single match, she never seemed to get tired of it. This made the other sparring partners at the Martial Arts Hall as well as Manager Yang dubious: could it be that she had taken a fancy to Jiang Yi?
“Hah… I call quits. Lone Wolf, you are getting more and more obscenely powerful. Are you almost at the third stage of the Cast Tripod Realm? How is your cultivation speed so fast? And why are you still just at the second stage of the Cast Tripod Realm if you can cultivate at such a speed?”
On the 13th day of seclusion at the Martial Arts Hall, Jiang Yi finished his customary sparring match with Yi Lingxue. Afterward, however, instead of hurriedly leaving to change like she usually did, Yi Lingxue stayed behind and questioned Jiang Yi curiously.
“Hehe, I had no interest in cultivation in the past, but here at the Martial Arts Hall, the cultivation speed is not only faster; there is even a supply of Spirit Pills…”
Jiang Yi rattled off a random explanation. In the past ten days, he had been cultivating round the clock and reduced close to a hundred characters of the runic patterns on his seal, which caused his cultivation speed to increase further. Coupled with the incessant supply of Spirit Pills from Manager Yang, how could his cultivation speed not be fast? By his calculations, he would be able to make a breakthrough in achieving the third stage of the Cast Tripod Realm within the next three to five days.
Yi Lingxue straightened her fiery-red martial artist robes and sighed, “It’s such a shame… if only you had put in more effort before in cultivating, you might have been one of the top ten geniuses of Skyplume City.”
“Top ten geniuses? Which ten?” Jiang Yi asked out of curiosity.
“Don’t you know anything?” Yi Lingxue rolled her eyes at him, her features creating a picture of unconscious seduction and allure. With her sensual body hugged tightly by sweat-dampened robes, it made Jiang Yi feel hot and bothered.
Yi Lingxue paused for a moment before explaining, “Ji Family Second Young Master Ji Changge and Third Young Mistress Ji Tingyu; Ma Family Great Young Master Ma Heiqi; Jiang Clan Great Young Master Jiang Henshui, and Jiang Rulong from the side branch of the Jiang Clan; Leng Family Great Young Master Leng Qianjun and Fourth Young Mistress Leng Qianqian; Liu Family Third Young Master Liu He, and Liu Zhan from the side branch of the Liu family; and last but not the least Yang Family Great Young Master Yang Zhongtian. The ten of them are all under the age of 18, yet their power levels are minimally at the seventh stage of the Cast Tripod Realm. Hence, they are hailed as Skyplume City’s top ten geniuses of our generation.”
Jiang Yi, who was not favored by the Jiang Clan or not frequently engaged in conversations with outsiders, was unaware of such stories around town, though he was silently nodding now at Yi Lingxue’s words. There were two members from the Jiang Clan, as well as Ji Tingyu, on that list. They were indeed obscenely powerful—both Jiang Henshui and Ji Tingyu were formidable martial artists whose powers were at the eighth stage of the Cast Tripod Realm. They only needed to attain one more breakthrough to reach the Purple Mansion Realm.
Nevertheless, Jiang Yi did not care about any of that. Those young masters and young mistresses were living a life far different from his, and he did not wish to cross paths with them. He cast a look at Yi Lingxue, “Young Mistress Yi is not doing too badly either. I can feel your powers rising fast during this period, haven’t all of your martial art techniques attained phenomenal success yet? You must be elevating to the fifth stage of the Cast Tripod Realm, too?”
Yi Lingxue grew excited at Jiang Yi’s words and balled her hands into fists, smiling. “To be honest with you, Lone Wolf, all these achievements were because of you. I’m perfectly aware of the extent of my own abilities. Actually, the reason I’m staying behind today is precisely this!”
“Because of me?”
Jiang Yi’s eyes were filled with surprise. He could help someone’s martial art technique to achieve phenomenal success through sparring? Could there be such a bizarre thing in this world? Although… Young Mistress Yi’s progress did seem unnaturally fast recently, was it really because of him?
While Jiang Yi was still in a daze, Yi Lingxue solemnly retrieved a command token from her chest pocket and said, “On behalf of the Yi Family, I, Yi Lingxue, formally invite you to join our family under the position of Second Elder of the family’s martial arts training court. The remuneration will be…”
“Hold on! Second Elder of the martial arts training court?”
Jiang Yi was completely stupefied. Him, a barely 16-year-old youth, the Second Elder of the Yi Family’s martial arts training court? Was Yi Lingxue messing with him, or had the Yi Family Clan Head gone crazy? Jiang Yi was briefly stunned speechless, before asking incredulously. “Young Mistress Yi, you are just joking, right?”
Yi Lingxue sent him a stern look and waved the command token in her hand. “This is my father’s command token, and I was not joking. Lone Wolf… maybe you didn’t realize it yet, but you have a very unique capability that can help martial artists attain phenomenal success for their techniques. The Yi Family saw this in you; therefore, we decided to recruit you. Once you joined our family, you need not to do anything else except spar with the family descendants, helping them achieve phenomenal success as quickly as possible…”
Could such a bizarre thing really happen? Is it due to the black essence force?
Jiang Yi was in awe, mulling with his head lowered. Joining the Yi Family was obviously out of the question; aside from the agreement he had with the Martial Arts Hall, death would be an inevitable end if the Jiang Clan found out. It was an act of treachery against the family clan after all.
Yi Lingxue became slightly anxious at Jiang Yi’s silence. She took a few steps towards him until she was a meter away and lightly bit her lips, “Lone Wolf, feel free to make whatever demands you see fit. I’ll convey them to my father. If you are a descendant of another family, it won’t be a problem either. You can marry into the Yi Family; I have a cousin who is even more beautiful than I am…”