"Come now, Chen, out with it. What was it that you were making?"
"I'm still researching it but when I finally get it right, I promise I'll report to Father and all seniors!" Ye Chen replied.
Ye Chen used to read a few wuxia novels in his past life. It was those books that introduced him — and he was quickly taken in — by a certain type of tiny-but-mighty explosives called the Explosion Seeds. The difference between the ones in the wuxia novels and his own was that the former was made out of run-of-the-mill gunpowder, while his mix involved an additional material. It was this ingredient that was responsible for the extra puissance.
Seeing that his first experimental Explosion Seeds had already achieved a result akin to a Ninth Stage fighter's full-force impact, the young man was very excited about the prospects of it.
Ye Changxuan and the others had nothing much to say since Ye Chen was deliberately playing coy. However, seeing that two-zhang-wide crater still left an unforgettable impression on them.
"Chen, you should focus on your training, alright? Don't spend your time being idle!" Ye Zhantian chided with a stern expression.
"Understood!" Ye Chen quickly answered.
With that, the seniors left his quarters.
Outside of the Patriarch Residency, a murmuring crowd had already gathered, their primary interest was the sudden force of impact.
"Uncle, what happened?" The juniors chorused. A few Elders were staring at Ye Zhantian as they waited for an answer as well.
"It was nothing. The Former Chief and I had a spar." Ye Zhantian waved dismissively.
Convinced by its plausibility, the crowd dispersed gradually.
"So it was a fight between the Former Chief and our Chief, huh? That would have explained why it created such powerful tremors!"
"I wonder who's more powerful—the Former Chief or the Chief?"
"That's easy. It must be the Former Chief! He's been a Ninth Stage master for so long!"
"Oh, I don't think so. The Chief still packs a lot of punches, while the Former Chief's already quite, you know, elderly…"
In a distance, almost nondescript among the crowd, stood Ye Moyang. He shot a scowl at the Patriarch Residency, his expression dour. Ever since Ye Zhantian had attained the Ninth Stage, he had instantly garnered so much influence and veneration that everything he said had become indisputable. Even his old friends among the Elders had been ignoring Ye Moyang ever since the latter was disgraced, just so they could remain in Ye Zhantian's good books.
To describe it simply, Ye Moyang had become an interloper within the House of Ye.
'Ye Zhantian… You've forced my hand,' Ye Moyang thought darkly. Lately, there have been a few extra pairs of eyes watching the former Elder's every move, and he knew the reasons for it. What infuriated him even more, was that Ye Zhantian apparently acted as if all it took to make sure Ye Moyang was not up to anything was this meager sum of people!
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A week or so had pa.s.sed and the House of Ye was living in relative peace.
Inside the Patriarch Residency, Ye Zhantian was explaining his own insights of the Thunder Emperor Technique to his son when there was a commotion outside of his door.
"Report for the Patriarch! Urgent report!"
Ye Zhantian's eyebrows furrowed. There had not been any major incidents as of late, so he was not sure what urgent matter could have been left unnoticed. "Let him in."
A clansman burst into the hall and promptly presented two letters to the Chief.
Ye Zhantian picked the one where two huge letters in red were printed on its surface and opened it. As he read, his eyebrows furrowed completely into the middle.
"Father, what is it?" Watching his father's expression, Ye Chen felt a sense of dread rising in his chest.
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"That Second-rank Prince of Donglin has gone too far!" Ye Zhantian slammed his hand on a table close by, fuming.
Yet, as the Chief of the Ye clan, Ye Zhantian could only bear this crushing humiliation for the sake of the family's welfare.
"Father, what about the other letter?"
Ye Zhantian opened up the next letter. Upon recognizing the handwriting, a chilling flash of light glinted in his eyes.
"Well, well, well. We have a letter from the House of Yun... Yun Yiyang, apparently, wants to host the Grand Martial Tournament of the Eighteen Houses of Lianyun, set after a month from now. Anyone who is under the age of eighteen is eligible to partic.i.p.ate but they must be accompanied by a senior from their own clan." Ye Zhantian sneered coldly. "Something good is gonna come out of this, I'm sure." Ye Zhantian continued sarcastically.
"Should we attend, Father?"
"If we don't, the House of Yun would seize the chance to debase us. If we do, we might be heading into a trap!"
"The House of Yun desires our demise, yet they refuse to do so at the expense of their reputation. In other words, I don't think they would harm us while we are at the event. Instead, they'll likely plan an 'accident' while we are on the way to the venue!" Ye Chen thought for a while, then added, "The distance between the House of Ye and the House of Yun is only three or four miles apart. If we hurry, we should be able to avoid their traps."
"Mm. I'll bring this up to the Former Chief and your uncles before making any decision soon. You should return and train more," Ye Zhantian replied, waving his hand dismissively.
Ye Chen felt an indescribable lump forming in his chest as he exited the Patriarch Residency. Trouble was brewing, and the House of Ye was the eye of the storm. 'What if the family was gone one day?' A thought arose in his mind. There would not be any single place in the world that could be his shelter then.
'No, the House of Ye must prevail!'
Ye Chen returned to his quarters and immediately began training himself earnestly. After a few days, Ye Chen was making stark progress with his training in the Wind Grace Technique. Although he had no Wind-styled martial techniques to complement this particular cultivation system, he could feel the effects of the Wind-styled cultivation system within him — he had become a lot quicker and nimbler on his feet, while his Celestial Chi had become even purer and denser.
Dusk fell, and the entire Castle had befallen into a quiet stillness. Yet, the silence was occasionally marred by the chilling bays of unknown beasts as it echoed from the distant reaches of the mountains.
At a corner of the Ye Castle complex where the shadows of trees flickered and danced to the wind, a black silhouette darted toward the direction of the Ye Castle's exit. Moonlight caught up to him, illuminating the face of the disgraced former Elder, Ye Moyang.
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