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At the Li Family’s central headquarters in Beifeng City, Li Mingfang’s leather shoes rhythmically tapped the ground, the sound of clacks ringing out. Li Wanxue was at his side. At this moment, she didn’t possess that feeling of a threatening edge. Instead, she had the cultured and refined attitude of a girl.
They stood in front of a villa. Black-suited bodyguards were everywhere, however, hey didn’t enter the building.
“Oh? Well, if it isn’t Fourth Brother?” A middle-aged man with his hands at his back slowly walked out with a man wearing a black mask. A smile that could be considered scholarly appeared on his square face as he saw them standing in front of the door. “I haven’t seen you in so long, are you well? I heard a while back that your daughter’s Spirit Addiction flared up. It won’t do to make uncle worried. Come… Little Snow, this is an antique that I picked up outside the country, I was just talking about when to give it to you. Come, take it, don’t be so polite with uncle.”
Li Wanxue wore a snow-white evening dress. She was just like a snowflake in winter. Her hair was gracefully coiled, and a red rose was set at the back of her head like a hairpin, like blood in snow. She had bright eyes, white teeth, and her eyebrows seemed to be painted with umber-black dye. One couldn’t see a trace of a girl in her. Even if her facial features were young, she emitted the aura of a mature woman.
Currently, it was already January. The weather was frigid, yet she didn’t seem to fear the cold one bit. Her sweet shoulders, round as a ball, were revealed by her shoulderless evening dress, smooth like a pearl. Her prominent chest and deep cleavage left several men at her uncle’s side helpless but to take quite a few glances.
“Thank you, Second Uncle.” She was like a swan, gracefully bowing at a slight angle. Her voice was like a melody of the night, and she smiled faintly. “But I already have a pair, the earrings that mother gave me.”
The middle-aged man didn’t take out the so-called gift once he heard her. He laughed good-naturedly, “It seems that my well intentions are no good. Wait until the Spring Festival family feast, and then I’ll prepare a new gift for you.”
“Then I’ll have to thank Second Uncle.”
The middle-aged man and his group walked past Li Mingfang, but he seemed to suddenly remember something and clapped his hands. “Right, Old Li, father is currently doing the final count of the Li Family’s assets before the Spring Festival. A couple of our profits are pretty good, but I heard that things have been a little tight on your end recently? I’m afraid father isn’t feeling well over there.”
“Thank you for the trouble, Second Brother,” Li Mingfang said flatly. “I’ll clear things up with father.”
The middle-aged man smiled with hidden meaning and left with his group. Once they walked not too far away, the masked man walking beside him faintly turned his head back and said gruffly, “I heard he found a new spirit-master.”
“A wild dog from who knows where, at that.” The middle-aged man’s face no longer carried a trace of scholarliness, and he snorted coldly. He then laughed straight afterwards, “In the past, we didn’t consider that land when Master Xiao was there, in consideration of State-Magus Zu’s honor. Now, though, that brother of mine actually chased out Master Xiao. Next year is State-Magus Zu’s decennial Master-Thanking Feast. State-Magus Zu is such a person to defend someone even knowing that they’re wrong. He’s definitely going to be furious and cause trouble for our Li Family. Several months of profit are going to drop, and he still has the nerve to come back to the main family?”
The masked man nodded faintly and kept quiet. They walked out together.
“Dad.” Once they left, Li Wanxue raised her head. Likewise, her gaze had chilled. “This is the last time.”
“I really don’t have the mood to keep playing around with these damn retards. I’m not coming back to the main family for the new year in the future.”
Li Mingfang sighed and said nothing. He eventually nodded. “It’s been hard on you.”
“I don’t blame you.” Li Wanxue gently shook her head. “As a daughter of the Li Family, I’ve been aware for a long time. I just really don’t like these kinds of fake settings. They can’t even be a bit open-minded as men. I despise people like that.”
“Fourth Master.” At this time, a slim man radiating a robust air walked out. “The Master invites you to come in.”
Li Mingfang immediately entered, along with Li Wanxue. Inside was an ancient-style room, warm like spring. On a master chair sat a bald, old man in a gown. He was wearing glasses and reading the information in his hand a little at a time.
Without question and answer, father and daughter calmly sat down. Only the sound of rustling echoed in the room. After a long spell of time, the old man took off his glasses and raised the report in his hand. “Just because you’ve invited a new spirit-master, your profits have fallen by 20%?”
Li Mingfang had predicted earlier that news would spread so quickly. He promptly stood up and said, “Dad, I think he’s worth it.”
The old man waved his hand. “Right now, I am the Li Family’s chairman. In this place, there’s no dad.”
“Yes, Director Li.”
“I’ve heard he’s very young?” As Lord Li sat on the chair, a middle-aged woman came over at once and massaged his shoulders. Lord Li narrowed his eyes in comfort. “Well?”
“Yes… Director Li, he is indeed young. However, according to the information Master Tian came back with, he defeated Master Xiao in one move. I suspect his power is at least at the level of a high spirit-master’s. Master Tian said that this Master Xu is even special-ranked…”
“You’ve made trouble.”
“Yes… huh?” Just as Li Mingfang was getting read to speak, he stricken dumb by these words.
“I said you’ve made trouble!” Lord Li’s eyes snapped open, and his voice exploded like a mountain flood. “Master Xiao is a quasi-high spirit-master! One move to beat Master Xiao, that’s a high spirit-master! All information on the twelve high spirit-masters is a secret! No one knows any of the background information on the Twelve Zodiac Beasts! Our Li Family spent an astronomical price to invite His Excellency Seventh Horse to keep watch! This was gained with the vigorous growth of over a dozen years! And you! You say high spirit-master? A Spiritmaster Xu! And you believe it?”
“Director Li… Master Tian said…”
“Alright, we won’t speak of this for now.” Lord Li’s beard was shaking in turmoil. “Any spirit-masters that the Li Family hires all undergo strict testing! What kind of return can he bring the Li Family? How is his return contrasted to his reward? What about you?”
He stood up and angrily moved to and fro. He waved the report in his hand. “This is your return? Huh? District A-31’s been given up for ten-odd years or decades! Back then, I struggled for this land. Do you know how great the price I paid was? This favor isn’t even done now! Each year, it still pays out up to ten million Shangchen dollars! But now you’ve gone and given it to some unknown youngster?! Just because ‘Master Xiao was defeated in one move’, something you haven’t even seen? I ask you, do you believe it?”
“Grandpa… he’s not…”
“Shut up!” Lord Li turned his head and yelled angrily at Li Wanxue. The girl obediently closed her mouth.
He picked up the cane at the side of his master chair and thumped it twice on the ground. Although he was old, his mind was hearty and hale as before. “No? No what? No he didn’t come from nowhere? What about his authenticated qualifications? Did you see it? Who is his master? Can self-study surpass the high-rank? What about practiced experience? The examination degree of qi?”
He looked Li Mingfang and his daughter in disappointment. “You didn’t see a thing! Yet you dared to give him A-31!”
“I know you’ve always been kept down by your brothers and sisters, and you want to find success. But this isn’t finding success! This is finding any doctor you can when you’re seriously ill!”
“Also!” He took a step forward and suddenly pounded his cane. “I heard… he’s not even taking any assignments for five years? Master Xiao was worthless enough, and you invite an even bigger waste? Five years? 20% down for five years and then even more? Should I let my other children dilute your shares?”
“No… Director Li, listen to me…”
“I don’t want to listen.” Lord Li exhaled and sat in his seat. “You’ve disappointed me too much in this business.”
“Director Li…” Li Mingfang gritted his teeth and finally said his first completed sentence to his raging father, “I believe him.”
The inside of the room grew quiet in a flash.
Lord Li didn’t speak, only looking at him like an old eagle. After ages, he snorted coldly and flung the reports into the air. They filled the entire room. “Alright… you’ve spread your wings and you want to fly. My words fall on deaf ears.”
“No…” Li Mingfang clenched his teeth and said, “It’s because I’ve seen him that I believe him.”
No one knew of that fire-dragon’s shock. Li Mingfang understood very well that this matter couldn’t be divulged no matter what! He wasn’t clear on what Xu Yangyi’s cultivation was, but he realized that the man was terrifying, very terrifying!
He was at least no less than a high spirit-master! Even if he didn’t believe this answer himself! Where had such a young high spirit-master come from?!
Silence again. After a long time, Lord Li finally spoke.
“I think you should know that our Li Family is currently trying to expand our influence in Baizhai City. We’re fighting to break into real first-rate nobility.” He slowly picked up a teacup and pursed it to his lips. “Next year in October, there’s going to be a spirit-master war. It’s going to decide where our first research institute is going to be inside Baizhai City’s three rings. Get this Master Xu to help us take the land.”
Finished speaking, he raised his head and looked at Li Mingfang without a hint of emotion. “If he doesn’t go, or if he can’t do it, then His Excellency Seventh Horse will set out himself and personally take it for the Li Family.”
“His Excellency Seventh Horse!” Li Mingfang gasped sharply, his scalp turning somewhat numb.
Seventh Horse of the Twelve Zodiac Beasts… one of the twelve high spirit-masters! The Li Family’s idol of worship! And also the Li Family’s hidden trump! The Li Family’s pillar!
“Director Li, this isn’t necessary…”
“You don’t get to decide what is and what isn’t necessary. I do. Perhaps only fact might make the current you understand. Now, go.”
Winter went and spring came. Flowers wilted and flowers bloomed. In the blink of an eye, a year had quickly passed.
The Li family was still the Li Family, and Xu Yangyi had completely disappeared from people’s line of sight, as if he’d never come to this realm.
Everyone in an area of 20,000 meters around District A-31 had been cleared out. It was impossible to live inside the crystallized mountain, as well. In this place, no one whatsoever detected that the qi here was gathering at a slow speed, growing richer and richer… already, it even at the stage of some of Earth’s county-level cities!
This place… had long since become completely suited for cultivation!
In the villa, Tian Guotao respectfully poured a cup of tea. Today was the time that Master Xu gave him a lecture each month. He regarded this day as the day of his rebirth. He peacefully studied the reflection of his face in the teacup. In his white hair, even a trace of black had grown out.
1. “Melody of the night”. So… this is actually put in parenthesis, since it’s actually an album by a Chinese piano composer. Original text states that her voice is like the album, but that’s a little awkward, so I’m just making this note here. If you’d like to listen to this, look up “夜的钢琴曲”.
2. Twelve Zodiac Beasts. Seventh Horse. These things are directly referencing the twelve-year cycle of Chinese zodiac animals. Have you ever wondered why the animals are in a certain order? Story goes that the Jade Emperor held a race to see what animal would represent which year. This was done via a race to see who would reach him in what order. Seventh Horse for example. The horse was the seventh animal to reach the Jade Emperor. In terms of direct translation, it’s more like “Horse of the Seventh Year”.
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