“Young miss, come with me.”
Zhuo Fan beckoned Luo Yunchang. She was unclear as to the reason, but she followed nonetheless. She was filled with glee as she saw so many things brought from the Imperial family over the past few days.
Especially with two elders standing watch, Luo clan was becoming stronger day by day. She was so moved that she was lost for words. It got so far that she even let Zhuo Fan’s disappearance for these past three months slide.
“Steward Zhuo, is there something?”
Luo Yunchang smiled as they entered a small room. Zhuo Fan closed the windows and doors without replying. Her thoughts started going in a particular direction and her face flushed.
“Zhuo Fan, w-what are you trying to do?” Luo Yunchang was bashful.
Taking a deep breath, Zhuo Fan began, “I’m leaving!”
Luo Yunchang stood there in shock. She had a face of complete disbelief, wondering if she had heard him wrongly. Only when Zhuo Fan repeated was she certain.
“Why, Luo clan is growing and is already the number one clan in Windgaze City. Why do you want to leave?”
“For Luo clan’s safety!”
Zhuo Fan’s tone was grave, “Luo clan is safe, for now. And there’s no other clan around to mess with it. But remember what we had to do in exchange for all this.”
“We accepted the Imperial family’s vague Secret Pearl Order and offended the Seven Noble Houses’ Hell Valley. As for Veiled Dragon Pavilion, if we do not rise to the level of the seven houses, they will change their stance with us!”
“Then we need you even more. What will we do without you?” Luo Yunchang teared up, her heart was unwilling to let him go. In a blink, a glittering tear fell.
Wiping her tears away with a gentle touch, Zhuo Fan said, “Fatty was right about one thing, a clan’s foundation is strength. I am leaving now to bring back experts for the Luo clan, to protect our future.”
“This is the control method of the four arrays around Blackwind Mountain. Only you must use it. If I’m not back in time, you can activate the arrays to deal with any trouble that arises. These are four 5th-grade arrays, plus the Wraith Array in the Misty Forest, it should defend you for a good while.”
Zhuo Fan gave a jade slip to Luo Yunchang, who accepted it in tears. She asked softly, “How long will you be gone?”
Sighing, Zhuo Fan shook his head, “I don’t know. But I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
He wasn’t leaving just to recruit experts, but also to search for the Heavenly Emperor’s remnant Long Jiu talked about, Lightning Canyon. At any given time, raising one’s power was the most basic way to guarantee one’s safety.
“Alright, go now. Send Captain Pang and Yunhai in.”
Nodding, Luo Yunchang left but stopped to kiss Zhuo Fan. He froze for a moment and watched her leave with a deep look.
Luo Yunchang blushed but didn’t turn around as she mumbled, “Come back soon.”
When the words came, she was already gone.
Not a moment later, Captain Pang brought Luo Yunhai over. Even they were shocked that Zhuo Fan was leaving.
“Silly kid, you’re the only man of the Luo clan. Your sister will have to rely on you in the future. You must act like a true Clan Head who bears the Luo clan’s responsibilities.” Zhuo Fan patted Yunhai’s shoulder.
Luo Yunhai nodded while sobbing.
Turning to Captain Pang, Zhuo Fan’s hand flashed and revealed a jade slip. But when Captain Pang was about to take it, Zhuo Fan clenched his fist.
Captain Pang looked at him in doubt.
Zhuo Fan stared hard at him, “Pang Yu, do you remember what Long Kui said? She is right, with your talent, you’ll only be a Qi Condensation cultivator at best.”
Captain Pang’s face darkened, his hand shivered and withdrew a bit.
“But,” Zhuo Fan’s tone turned grave, “Nothing is set in stone. I have on me a way to change your body anew, to gain incredible power. But the terror you will experience would be worse than death and the pain unimaginable. Are you willing?”
Captain Pang was stunned, then he was overjoyed.
Nodding, Zhuo Fan raised the jade slip, “This is a mid profound ranked demonic method, Wraith Art! It is unlike other cultivation methods. It is a cultivation method for the body, ignoring one’s talent for cultivation or his constitution. Just that cultivating it will make your life a living hell. It’s no different from being boiled alive. And once you start, you can never stop or your soul will perish!”
Captain Pang licked his dry lips, yet he wasn’t afraid, his eyes only held excitement.
“No worries. As long as I can become strong, no torment shall best Old Pang.” Captain Pang snatched the jade slip as he shouted.
Zhuo Fan reminded him, “The horrors you will experience from cultivating it aren’t something you can fathom. Maybe you will be under such a pain that your mind will collapse and die in the end. This is a mid profound ranked cultivation method, matching a high profound ranked cultivation method, but with the process being so excruciating, many great demonic cultivators never even dared to touch it. Choose wisely!”
Waving his hand, Captain Pang’s eyes flickered.
“Brother Zhuo, Old Pang’s only torment in this life was to see Clan Head die before me and unable to stop it. Now, my greatest wish is to protect Young miss and Young master.”
Captain Pang looked gratefully, “Brother Zhuo, thank you for giving me this chance to have no more regrets.”
Zhuo Fan’s heart shivered as he nodded. His eyes held respect.
“The next time we see each other, I hope to see a powerful Old Pang and not a corpse!”
“Ha-ha-ha, no worries. I am stubborn, not one to die from just this!” Captain Pang laughed and squeezed Zhuo Fan in a bear hug with moist eyes.
“Brother, come back soon. Luo clan won’t be the same without you!”
Patting Zhuo Fan’s shoulder, Captain Pang left with Luo Yunhai. Per Zhuo Fan’s instructions, Lei Yuting came soon after.
“Miss Lei, how is the task I gave you?” Zhuo Fan smiled.
Lei Yuting blushed with a nod, “Brother Zhuo, the six hundred ten-year-old children you asked me to gather are almost here. They all are high talents and await your teachings.”
Zhuo Fan eyed her then nodded, “How did you know that I wanted to teach them?”
Lei Yuting spoke with confidence, “I know you too well to believe that you helped those orphans out of the goodness of your heart. So I guessed you wanted to train them as Luo clan’s guards and make me their leader.”
At her words, Zhuo Fan recalled something and sighed.
[Goodness? I once raised an orphan out of kindness and look where it got me. Didn’t he betray me in the end?]
Zhuo Fan’s eyes flashed coldly at that point, scaring Lei Yuting.
“Miss Lei.” Zhuo Fan held a jade slip, “This is a mid spirit ranked cultivation method, Elusive Shadow Art. Cultivate it and then give it to those you trust to form the shadow corps, protecting the clan in the dark. Begin with the six hundred children the same way I taught you.”
“Use the worst of them as guards, the average for the shadow corps, and hand the best among them over to Captain Pang to train them in secret. Pass him my word, he’ll understand.”
Lei Yuting took the jade slip with a blank look, then stared at Zhuo Fan, her heart uneasy, “Why not do it yourself?”
“What?” Lei Yuting asked, “Why?”
Zhuo Fan was forced to retell his reasons. Lei Yuting nodded, but before she went out the door, she pecked Zhuo Fan’s cheek.
He was floored, watching her dash away in a blink.
[What is going on? Do all women like to peck?]
Next was Lei Yuntian’s turn. Zhuo Fan explained to him his affairs and Lei Yuntian took his instructions to heart in an honest manner.
Although he was the Grand Elder, he was clear Zhuo Fan controlled everything.
Zhuo Fan took out another jade slip, “This is the profound ranked martial art I recorded after merging the three clans’ martial arts, Thunderwind Sweeping Dragon Art! Since this is part of the Imperial family’s Secret Pearls Order, this will be the Luo clan’s best martial art on the surface. As the Grand Elder, you need to be diligent in practicing it.”
Lei Yuntian raised an eyebrow but nodded.
Zhuo Fan put an emphasis on the words ‘on the surface’, making it clear he had other high ranked martial arts that the Imperial family was unaware of, his secret weapons.
A day may come when the Imperial family might discover that the 8th house they raised was out of their control. But at that time, it would already be too late.
Zhuo Fan was young, but his wisdom and shrewdness drew the old man’s admiration.
“Rest assured, Steward Zhuo, I will be the best Grand Elder there is.” Lei Yuntian laughed, reaching an understanding with Zhuo Fan.
Even without Zhuo Fan’s reminder, he was clear what it meant to stand close to a ruler, and that the Imperial family wasn’t to be trusted. But Zhuo Fan gave this old man the nerve to tangle with this behemoth.
“Right, Steward Zhuo, what of Cai clan’s father and son?”
Lei Yuntian frowned, “Its already been three months since the merger of the three clans, but I still feel that the Cai clan is of a different thought, always acting suspiciously. The Blackwind Mountain’s guards have people from the Cai Manor. I fear…”
Zhuo Fan waved with a smile, “The Cai clan is part of the Secret Pearl Order. If we deal with them, we’ll earn the Imperial family’s ire. But if they betray us first, he-he-he…”
Lei Yuntian’s eyes flashed with a nod, “You’re amazing, Steward Zhuo, to plan so far ahead.”
Zhuo Fan squinted as killing intent filled his eyes.
On the morning of the second day, Zhuo Fan left Blackwind Mountain all by himself. On the mountain peak, Luo Yunchang, Lei Yuting and Lei Yuntian along with other Luo clan members watched him leave. All except Cai clan’s duo.
But in the forest halfway up the mountain, Cai Rong and his son watched Zhuo Fan’s retreating figure with cold eyes.
“Humph, without this wretched punk, Luo clan will fall from grace.” Cai Xiaoting snorted, “That stinky girl, Luo Yunchang, made eyes with Zhuo Fan every single day, not sparing me even a glance. With Zhuo Fan gone, Blackwind Mountain is ours. Let’s see her act haughty now!”
“Sigh, one must give credit to Zhuo Fan for his rare talent. He has Veiled Dragon Pavilion on his left and 3rd Prince on his right, while he himself has the power to shake the three clans. All of Blackwind Mountain knows the true Clan Head of this merged clan is him.”
Cai Rong shook his head, “The most unfortunate thing is that he chose to be against us. Since he is leaving, we might as well take everything back.”
“Dad, what do we do?” Cai Xiaoting asked.
Shaking his head, Cai Rong said, “Don’t be hasty. With Zhuo Fan gone, the Luo clan is nothing. The Lei clan is our true enemy. We need to ally ourselves and become stronger than the Lei clan…”