Yun clan, the most secretive clan since the founding of Tianyu.
It was not like the Seven Noble Houses, guarding the borders, but a clan every emperor had relied heavily on. This clan had mastered an amazing and strange skill. In every generation, there would be one person who knew how to read the heavens, a sacred bloodline that could infer the fate of the nation.
This bloodline didn’t offer them power, but allowed them to look into a person’s fate, and the empire’s path, with ultimate precision.
Their eyes saw the world, so to speak. They gleaned fate through signs unperceived by others and presented the emperor with the most accurate conclusion.
This person was called High Priest in every generation, a title the emperor bestowed.
Rumor had it that in the Tianyu Empire’s most dire need, the High Priest was the one to recommend Dugu Zhantian for marshal and Zhuge Changfeng for minister to the emperor. This led to the powerful Four Pillars of today, bringing prosperity to the nation.
The current High Priest was the 7th clan head of the Yun clan, the one they called Demigod Yun Xuanji.
Zhuo Fan mulled it over, “They say Yun Xuanji doesn’t care about mundane affairs, so how come he knows about me?”
“Steward Zhuo, he is an incredible man. Since he has invited you, he must want to convey something of dire importance. You have to go.” Grandmother spoke after seeing the invitation.
Raising an eyebrow, Zhuo Fan eyed her, then the rest, “You guys are quite respectful of Yun Xuanji. Is he that trustworthy?”
“Absolutely. Yun Xuanji is an anomaly in Tianyu. Be it the emperor, Zhuge Changfeng, Dugu Zhantian, or the seven houses, everyone would knock on his door whenever they faced something beyond their understanding. And he answers each time. I once visited sir myself and his words brought light to my eyes.” Long Yifey smiled, recalling the fond memory.
It only worked to get Zhuo Fan more curious, “How is it that the emperor leaves this threat, a mystic whose words shape the nation and even lead the houses, alive?”
Zhuo Fan was clear on one thing. Chaos bred heroes while peace killed mystics.
The world was perfect, peaceful and safe. [But your sudden scrying and spouting of the world falling into chaos, with anyone vying for the throne, will shake the empire to its core, no?]
This led to those mystics raving about some monarch founding a nation to be the first put down after the nation was up and running, to prevent calamity.
No one wanted for others to use their words and steal their throne.
One other reason why Zhuo Fan had such disdain for anything related to heaven, providence and the like. Huangpu Qingtian wouldn’t shut up about it. He laughed in his face of course, labeling him as another duped moron in his mind.
But now, the Yun clan had not only developed this art to perfection, it even had authority. Men, friends and enemies alike, paid social visits for answers to their problems. It was a clear violation to the imperial family, yet the emperor never once snuffed it out but kept it close for a thousand years. This was more than baffling, insane even.
The house lords burst out laughing at his conundrum.
“Ha-ha-ha, Steward Zhuo, what you don’t know is that the Yun clan has never shied away from the straight and narrow. It treats everyone as guests, yet never holds favorites. It never involves itself in court affairs, taking neutral ground and never crossing the line, the only reason the imperial family’s fears were abated. Unlike any other mystic, Yun clan has an ancestral teaching. The walks of life are numerous, heaven ever changing and humanity’s wisdom boundless!” Xie Xiaofeng grinned.
Zhuo Fan pondered, but shook his head in the end, “Isn’t that the same as saying, at the end of it all you have only yourself to rely on?”
“That’s just it! His words guide you on your path. As for succeeding, it all comes down to you. This is what makes the Yun clan incredible.” Long Yifey laughed.
Zhuo Fan’s eye twitched, “Well I think he is a hustler. To juggle so many big shots sure takes skill. I’m looking forward to meeting him. Who knows, I may learn a thing or two on how to use you guys better! “
“He-he-he, even better. If you can learn anything, we’ll be coming to you for guidance, ha-ha-ha…” Everyone burst out laughing.
Zhuo Fan’s hand holding the card shook, but his eyes were focused.
He called Yun clan a mystic, but he was more than clear that for the emperor and Zhuge Changfeng to show utmost respect towards it, it had to be more than that.
[I have to visit them!]
He cupped his hands and took his leave, heading for Parish. It took fifteen minutes to arrive before a huge gate.
‘Parish’ was written above it.
But unlike its glorious name as a third pillar, it looked downright poor.
[The Yun clan is truly honest despite the thousand year long fame.]
Nodding, Zhuo Fan knocked. The heavy gate creaked open and a nine year old kid walked out. Giving Zhuo Fan a once over, he bowed in respect, “May I know who sir is and your purpose?”
“A merchant. I heard of the High Priest’s scrying and wish to consult him.” Zhuo Fan found discretion was the better part of valor so he chose to probe the unknown kid.
The kid frowned and counted on his fingers before bowing in apology, “Forgive me, but Clan Head is tending to an important guest these three days and cant receive you. You may come afterward. Let me make you a reservation.”
Zhuo Fan regarded the kid deeply and nodded inside.
[Yun clan sure is fair. So lofty yet hearing the people’s needs. Even their kid is polite. At the very least, it knows how to raise their clansmen.] If it were the Luo clan’s guards meeting some nobody wishing to see the great Steward Zhuo, he’d have been slapped silly rather than waste words.
Yun clan advocated virtue, a stark contrast from your common mystic.
“Ha-ha-ha, child, I won’t tease you any more. I have received an invitation. Here.” Pinching the cutie’s cheeks, Zhuo Fan laughed.
The kid lit up and bowed, “Oh, Best Steward Beneath Heavens, forgive me for not recognizing you, Sir Zhuo. Clan Head has long been expecting you.”
The kid led the way, with Zhuo Fan smiling behind.
They passed many water pavilions and stopped before a large structure. Looking up, Zhuo Fan found it to be a hundred meters tall, at the least.
“Here is the Parish’s observatory. Clan Head is currently tending to a guest. Please wait here while I inform him!” The child bowed again.
Zhuo Fan nodded and the child left.
Fifteen minutes later, Zhuo Fan’s eyes roamed all over the place, bored out of his mind, when he heard angry and rough shouts.
[Why are they so familiar?]
Going around the observatory and onward, he arrived at a house. The child from before was now kneeling in front with a lowered head.
[Did he wait here not wanting to disturb the Clan Head?]
“Sir Zhuo…” The child noticed him and cried out. Zhuo Fan only gestured for him to be silent. Then, to the child’s shock, he tiptoed over and peeked through the seams of the door.
He was dying to know who Yun Xuanji was seeing.
He got the shock of his life!
There were three people inside. One was a sitting grizzled old man with closed eyes and impeccable conduct. He was assumed to be High Priest Yun Xuanji.
As for the other two, Zhuo Fan was more than familiar with them, Huangpu Tianyuan and Leng Wuchang.
Huangpu Tianyuan was the one raving, “High Priest, your scrying has never failed so why is it this time that it is completely different?”
“Indeed. I can infer human minds, but not heaven’s will. Something I admire the High Priest for!” Leng Wuchang cupped his hands, “But this time, I am unable to readily accept the High Priest’s error. Twenty years ago you told us that the eldest young master is fit to rule, that it was a wonderful omen. But now…”
Yun Xuanji nodded and sighed, “Indeed, your eldest young master had the rare earth dragon disposition. He needed to pass three tribulations and his future would’ve been limitless!”
“What tribulations?” Huangpu Tianyuan spat.
Yun Xuanji not once opened his eyes, “These three were a part of heaven’s plan I dare not divulge. But since he had come to pass, it no longer applies. They are heaven’s will, father and son, and sin!”
“Which of them was Zhuo Fan?” Leng Wuchang asked.
Yun Xuanji shook his head, “Neither.”
“Then why say there were three? Aren’t they clearly four? It was even one that took his life!” Huangpu Tianyuan boomed.
Yun Xuanji was a bastion of tranquility in the face of a storm, “Heaven is ever changing, though some movements can be tracked. With a human having three thousands paths to choose from, his life can take a myriad of turns. But your dear son’s tragic loss is a true accident…” “
Zhuo Fan was holding his mouth for his dear life. He was more and more sure this Yun Xuanji guy was a hustler through and through. [Who the hell would say an expert like Huangpu Qingtian’s death was an oopsie?]
Huangpu Tianyuan and Leng Wuchang twitched.
It was a first time hearing such a word from Yun Xuanji. He used to drone on about fate working in mysterious ways, some kind of elegant and convoluted explanation that had them all bow in admiration of the infallible truth it held.
But this time, he offered no such thing, writing it all off as an accident.
[Is he trying to give Parish a bad name…]