A curvaceous woman in her forties, free from the scars of time, walked with dignity and lofty air.
At every step, the dragon head golden staff smashed the pavement. Oddly enough, it was at that instant the other people’s hearts jumped as well.
She was the legend that had kept Drifting Flowers Edifice afloat a century ago with her own two hands, the one they called Grandmother, Chu Bijun!
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng had heard of her recovery from Long Jiu and Jian Suifeng, but seeing her in person was a whole other matter entirely.
Each of them watched dumbstruck as if they saw a ghost. One could hardly blame them.
Behind Grandmother were Iris Overseer and Peony Overseer. They stood proud and head held high, finally able to blow off their long pented steam.
“I-impossible! You should be dead!” Hall Lord Yan stammered.
Snorting, Chu Bijun flicked him a look and spat, “Yan Bogong, you’d wish it so. But to your disappointment, I am still alive and well. I may soon even enter the Radiant Stage. Humph, your deep consideration for Drifting Flowers Edifice over the years have been noted. I will make sure to repay each and every transgression!”
Shivering inside, Yan Bogong sank into a depression.
Chu Bijun’s title of Lady of Steel was for her staunch determination in following through on her promise. The future of Pill King Hall looked quite bleak.
“Congratulations on your recovery, Edifice Lord Chu, and resuming your lead!”
Leng Wuchang gradually cooled and cupped his hands to Chu Bijun. She returned the gestures with a light bow, “Please, Sir Leng, you’re too kind. The Edifice Lord has always been Qingcheng. But she had to enter seclusion while this gathering is taking place. So I took it upon myself to assist her by coming here in her stead.”
“Edifice Lord Chu is modest. Everyone knows you are the First Overseer. However, you are no different than an Edifice Lord, thus your title. With you leading, Drifting Flowers Edifice will bound to rise.” Smiling, Leng Wuchang continued, “You have my utmost admiration for advising three generations of Edifice Lords and for your open-minded nature.”
Chu Bijun nodded in her show of respect.
Leng Wuchang smiled, “Would it be too much to ask that in this Seven Houses Gathering, Edifice Lord Chu put aside our differences?”
“Ha-ha-ha, of course, Sir Leng. Only, I’m not so sure everyone else would be as quick to agree as me.” Chu Bijun sneaked a glance at Yan Bogong.
Yan Bogong gnashed his teeth, “Since Sir Leng asked, I shall accommodate your request while in Regent Estate.”
Laughing, Leng Wuchang’s eyes roamed over the crowd and gestured with a flourish, “Guests, please follow me. Estate Lord is waiting.”
He took the lead.
The rest followed after him, while Yan Bogong snorted at Chu Bijun. Chu Bijun only smiled coldly, leaving with her overseers.
When passing by Veiled Dragon Pavilion and Sword Marquise Abode, they exchanged glances and the three broke out in smiles.
This was done in such a casual manner that no one noticed. These three houses were in fact allies.
The six houses’ delegates entered in a lofty and grand hall. The arrangements were full of taste and refinement, yet there were only seven seats.
It was obviously reserved for the house lords, while their detail made to stand. This earned no little dissent among the elder. They were revered in their own houses and even their house lord showed them proper respect.
While here, they seemed to be treated like air.
Turning a blind eye, Leng Wuchang gestured, “Please take your seats while I ask Estate Lord to join you. “
And he left.
Yan Bogong, You Wanshan and Lin Rufeng looked at each other before taking their seats. Chu Bijun squinted and took a seat as well.
The elders were however, made to stand at their side.
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng exchanged a glance then looked at their elders, undecided to the best course of action. A house leader should fight for the respect of his elders.
The best way was to ask Regent Estate for more seats. The elders were the pillars of the house, not mere servants to watch their house lord eat while standing aside.
But the seating was so strange that left the two at a loss.
While they were debating inside, a stout man in golden ceremonial robes dazzled in with Leng Wuchang behind him.
He was the Estate Lord, Huangpu Tianyuan!
The people stood and offered their respects.
Huangpu Tianyuan returned their gesture and sat in the seat of honor. Only then did the other sit as well. Leng Wuchang chose to stand behind Huangpu Tianyuan, without a hint of complaint.
Huangpu Tianyuan took everyone’s presence into account and, even though Leng Wuchang warned him, he was shocked to see Chu Bijun here just the same, “Edifice Lord Chu, I am relieved to see you in good health.”
Chu Bijun nodded, “I am most grateful for Estate Lord’s kind thoughts!”
“Drifting Flowers Edifice and Regent Estate have always been close. Chu Bijun recovery is a happy event for us, Regent Estate.” Huangpu Tianyuan smiled and patted her snow-white hand.
Chu Bijun withdrew in flustered and with reddened cheeks.
Iris Overseer and Peony Overseer cursed him secretly. If not for Grandmother’s early warning, they’d be blowing a gasket right about now.
Huangpu Tianyuan turned to Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng, asking in faux interest, “Pavilion Lord Long, Abode Lord Xie, why are you standing? Do you find your seats lacking? I will change them for you.”
“Uh, no no no!”
Long Yifey denied, his eyes darting around while replying oddly, “Sir Leng is one of the three sages in Tianyu. How could I let him stand? I freely offer my own seat to him.”
Xie Xiaofeng understood his hidden meaning.
At an important and rare occasion as the Seven Houses Gathering, how could Regent Estate make such a casual blunder to forget some seats? It was obviously done on purpose.
Mentioning it would instantly trigger the trap. As for what that was, no one knew.
Yet, Leng Wuchang took a roundabout approach, hanging the issue over Leng Wuchang’s head. Although unable to talk back for Regent Estate’s accommodations, the least he could do was counter it ingeniously.
[He-he-he, Pavilion Lord Long still knows how to use the old noodle!]
Xie Xiaofeng joined in as well, “Ai, how could I let Pavilion Lord Long give his seat? It’s best I give my own.”
“Oh, no no no, take mine!”
“Please, I insist!”
The two kept going back and forth hoping to make a mountain out of a molehill. Yet Huangpu Tianyuan was sitting there without the slightest disturbance.
Leng Wuchang snorted secretly. He cupped his hands at the two, “Thank you house lords for your generous offers, but we have rules here. I cannot agree. These seven seats are for house lords only. A subject like me is unworthy of seating next to lords.”
[So that’s why!]
[Is this regent’s skill in dividing his subjects from the lords?]
The two saw the same guess in each other’s eye.
Leng Wuchang was quite vague, but it hinted at Regent Estate’s ambition. He tossed out the ‘subjects and lord’ excuse to test who was worthy of making ties with Huangpu Tianyuan and who was not.
As for who was the lord and the subjects among the seven houses, it was painfully clear.
For the sake of dealing with Zhuo Fan, they convened the Seven Houses Gathering, but it was in fact a cover to threaten the six houses into submission!
There was no way Regent Estate would breach this subject out of their own initiative. So how could they deal with this?
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng gnashed their teeth, taking seats with anxious hearts. The elders stood behind them with heavy expressions.
Regent Estate was planning on using Zhuo Fan as a scapegoat to unite the houses!
Huangpu Tianyuan smiled once everyone was seated, “The reason why I’ve asked you all here today is abundantly clear.
“As of late, devil Zhuo Fan had repeatedly breached the Seven Noble Houses’ honor. Beginning with Hell Valley’s 7th elder, it slowly snowballed into the chaos that engulfed Drifting Flowers Edifice and robbing us of four elders with his devious ploys. The whole of Tianyu sees us as nothing but buffoons. If we let him continue on this path, the day may very well come when he will purge one house from its roots.”
“He-he-he, wasn’t Drifting Flowers City the root of Drifting Flowers Edifice? He-he-he…” Hall Lord couldn’t help but point out his mockery.
Chu Bijun smiled coldly, “Indeed, Drifting Flowers City has been reduced to shambles. However, that was at the price of taking out the best alchemist in Tianyu. Shouldn this old bones destroy a few more?”
“Chu Bijun, mind your goddamn tone!” Yan Bogong slapped the table.
Chu Bijun was quite calm as she stood, “Humph, anyone here is more than clear who should mind his?”
Huangpu Tianyuan shouted, “Fighting among us before our enemy is vanquished will only benefit him.”
Huangpu Tianyuan ended their quarrel and resumed, “For that purpose, I propose, in the name of the seven houses, the Demon Purging Decree and put an end to his vile tendencies!”
The others gasped, even Chu Bijun and Yan Bogong.
They all had their guesses, but hearing it was still a shock!
The last time the Demon Purging Decree was issued was three centuries ago…