The selection of the Successor Patriarch had always been a family matter of utmost priority. Once selected, the individual would be expected to partic.i.p.ate actively in all manners of clan business. Only when the successor had shown themselves to be more than ready to a.s.sume the predecessor's mantle as the Patriarch of the family would the current Chief finally be relieved of their duty so that they could focus on the cultivation of their martial art. An example of this would be the experienced Former Chief Ye Changxuan.
Hence, despite its t.i.tle suggesting the Successor Patriarch to be second-rank, it had always been incredibly important.
Other than that, the Successor Patriarch would have to be the most skilled martial artist among his cohort too. In order to prove themselves to be so, they would have to accept every single challenge to the t.i.tle. Should they ever lose to any of their peers, they would be expected to step down from their mantle and the new victor would replace them instead.
By now, a ring for the match had already been set up by the ever-excited crowd. The atmosphere grew as they eagerly made their predictions as to which candidate would eventually be crowned the House of Ye's Successor Patriarch.
"Who is the most skilled in martial arts after Xuan'er?" Ye Changxuan addressed the crowd.
"That would be Rou'er."
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"Hmm. I'm afraid Rou'er's not a suitable candidate for the position of Successor Patriarch."
"Then it could only be Ye Moyang's son, Ye Kongyan!" many
clansmen of the Zhan cohort
"Then let him be the one to accept others' challenge," Ye Changxuan concluded flatly.
Ye Moyang's face beamed in an instance and he quickly turned to Ye Kongyan, who had been standing behind him. "Go on and get up there, Son. Remember, this is a friendly match — do not harm your opponent!"
"Yes, Father!" Ye Kongyan walked towards the plaza with his chest puffed up and his spirit high.
Watching the young lad's silhouette, Ye Zhantian's eyebrows furrowed a little. Something was off about Ye Kongyan's aura. He wondered if Ye Moyang had used some sort of tricks to spike Ye Kongyan's cultivation speed that had allowed the kid to advance to another stage. The Chief started to worry and did not know if Ye Chen's Celestial Chi recovery could even match Ye Kongyan's now.
Ye Zhantian turned to look at his son with a serious expression. Seeing that Ye Chen looked poised and serene as he watched his opponent walk into the ring, Ye Zhantian instantly let out a small chuckle. He had left his worry grew unchecked and it was starting to turn him unnecessarily panicky. He should have been as calm as his son and waited for the result.
"Big Brother, here! Pa.s.s this Chi Deposition Pill to Chen'er for me," Ye Zhanlong whispered as he pressed the silk-covered box Ye Changxuan had just given him into Ye Zhantian's hand.
"This is the Former Chief's gift to you. You should keep it for your two sons."
"But Chen'er needs it more!"
"...No, he doesn't need it anymore." Ye Zhantian's lips curled into a small smile as he remembered once more that his son's meridian channels had been healed. When Ye Chen broke the news to him, it had been the best news he had ever received in years. Compared to this miracle, how important was it for his son to win the match and claim the t.i.tle of Successor Patriarch? As he asked himself, Ye Zhantian once again broke into a serene smile.
Seeing a smile carved out of true joy and equanimity on Ye Zhantian's face had stunned Ye Zhanlong. It had been three years since he had last seen his brother smile this way. "Are you sure that Chen wouldn't need a Chi Deposition Pill? Or are you saying that his meridian channels…"
"Why don't you see for yourself?" Ye Zhantian replied curtly, flashing him a knowing smile.
Those words flummoxed Ye Zhanlong even more. Yet deep within his heart, a spark of hope was strangely ignited.
Just as they were talking to each other, Ye Kongyan had already leaped into the ring before the excited eyes of his peers.
"Good luck, Brother Kongyan!"
"Since Miss Xuan will be joining the Emerald Cloud Sect, it forfeits her chance to fight for the position. On the other hand, Miss Rou is not eligible for it, so who else do we have among those who would be able to a.s.sume the mantle of Successor Patriarch? It's no doubt Brother Kongyan!"
The crowd, made out of the younger generations started to make their own judgments.
'If I could prevail over every challenger in the ring today, then it would be official — I'll be the Successor Patriarch of the Ye clan.' At the thought of that, Ye Kongyan felt gratified and his self-esteem ballooned instantly.
"My esteemed clan-brothers, would anyone rise to challenge for the position?" Standing on the ring that was erected several feet higher than the audience, Ye Kongyan's eyes scanned through the crowd with a downward gaze; his expression was one of arrogance. In Ye Kongyan's mind, he was already the Successor Patriarch.
Meanwhile, the rest of the older clansmen were studying the young man more carefully as they tried to discern the qualities of the candidate who was most likely to become their Successor Patriarch.
"Ye Moyang's son has the look and the countenance of a gallant warrior, no doubt about that. He's a chip off the old block!" one of the Elders remarked.
"Oh, you're too generous with your words," Ye Moyang replied as his eyes narrowed in glee.
"What do you think, Granduncle?" Another senior from the Zhan cohort turned to Ye Changxuan and asked.
"Well, I certainly remember this child. Five years ago, I conducted an inspection on many of our family's young ones on their natural ac.u.men for a life of cultivation. While this child made a slightly better impression than the others by being alright, he was a bit too mediocre in terms of raw talent to me. He might be enough to be the next Patriarch but I suspect that it would more than likely be an unremarkable tenure," Ye Changxuan replied, sighing quietly in his heart. If this was the level of capabilities they had to settle for the future, he would no longer ensure the survival of the Ye clan.
Ye Moyang's eyelashes flickered at the Former Chief's prognosis. 'This old geezer is obviously dissatisfied with Ye Kongyan, isn't he?' he fumed. 'But then again,' Ye Moyang added to himself, 'who cares if you're unhappy with this? Who else, out of their generation, could be better than my son, in terms of both stature and acuity in the leading position as the Successor Patriarch? Ye Xuan could have been the better one out of their group but she had already found somewhere that was simply more suitable for her talents. Hence, no one else among the younger generations would be more suitable to take the position other than his son!'
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A silhouette leaped onto the ring.
Regaining his old, the self-a.s.sured persona combined with his newly-forged solemnness and radiant manner, other girls within the clan could not help but stare in Ye Chen's direction. Their instincts seemed to tell them that something about Ye Chen was very different from before.
The result of the match had finally been revealed as the crowd's attention was once again drawn back to the ring.
With a loud peal, Ye Meng and Ye Kongyan's palm met forcefully. Ye Meng took a few steps back from the impact, his steps shaky and wobbly as his face paled. Meanwhile, Ye Kongyan looked as calm and unperturbed as before.
"Excuse me if I hurt you, Little Brother." Ye Kongyan, with an air of serenity, stopped his attacks and placed his left palm on his right fist very gently, showing his opponent the Baoquan (TN: It's a common greeting in Chinese martial arts. It literally means "fist-wrapping gesture") gesture.
"Brother Kongyan has defeated me fair and square. You're truly more superior than I," Ye Meng replied before leaping off from the ring.
At this point, the youngsters who had been watching the duel were chattering excitedly.
"Brother Kongyan is truly exemplary! In fact, I bet the distance between him and the Sixth Stage is only a fine line!"
Personally, Ye Kongyan was very pleased with his current power. Despite his recent battle with Ye Meng, he had not felt any shortness of breath or loss of Celestial Chi at all. After taking the Chi Deposition Pill that day, Ye Kongyan had successfully attained the Sixth Stage three days later.
The schism between the Fifth Stage and the Sixth Stage had always been wide. The Sixth Stage was the cutoff point into the territory of master pugilists, which made it a drastically different league than its immediate preceding Stage. The reason why no one had seen through his true Stage yet was because Ye Kongyan had deliberately pulled back his punches.
More of his clan-brothers, such as Ye Ming, had jumped into the ring to duel with Ye Kongyan but none of them had managed to defeat him nor made him sweat.
"Anyone else?" Ye Kongyan scanned the surrounding after yet another victory as he probed the crowd.
The juniors looked among themselves but they had grown completely silent.
Watching Ye Kongyan plowed through challenger after challenger had greatly enraptured Ye Moyang. Hence, when he saw that the stream of challengers had ceased, Ye Moyang quickly turned to Ye Changxuan and asked, "Former Chief, it seemed that the match is drawing to an end. So, has Kongyan proved himself worthy of the mantle of Successor Chief?"
Ye Changxuan was just about to answer him when a voice awkwardly cut through the air.
"Hold your judgments, my esteemed seniors. I would like to challenge Brother Kongyan."
Every pair of eyes in the audience was instantly fixated on Ye Chen. The clansmen were instantly stumped in disbelief that the person who spoke and the last person who had issued a challenge was n.o.body else but Ye Chen? Did they hear it right?
The generation within the Ye family that either spot the word "Zhan" in their name (Ye Zhantian, Ye Zhanlong, etc.) or such that the clansmen who were borne around the same time were named with the word "Zhan" in their name.
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