A furor of epic proportions exploded in the hall.
"That does it, the House of Yun has crossed the line!"
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"I say we march into their castle and fight to the death already, Chief! They have gone too far this time!"
However, the Zhang cohort's response to their enraged outcry was looks of pensive silence. It was true that the bad blood between the House of Ye and the House of Yun had run deep for a long time but if the Ye ever had an edge over the Yun, they would not have let their vileness run amok for so long!
Ye Changxuan and Ye Zhantian may be a solid match for Yun Yiyang and Yun Yixuan if they gave it all they got, yet a chain is no stronger than its weakest links. The rest of the clan was only about as powerful as one-third of the Yun's combative force and if the situation was not morbid enough, one should remember that the House of Yun also had no short supply of gushy lapdogs who would not mind offering their men as fodder.
Yet, the largest nail in the coffin was probably the fact that the House of Yun had an incredibly close tie with the Second-rank Prince of Donglin himself.
Ye Xuan hung her head and gritted her teeth; her heart sank in helpless sorrow. Watching her expression, Ye Chen could feel a tug in his chest.
"No. We're not doing any of that. In fact, all of you should focus on training even harder after leaving this hall. Wisdom is the better part of valor, we should be wiser than betting on our survivability in a deathmatch between ourselves and our enemy before we are strong enough." Ye Zhantian heaved a long, unhappy sigh. "I know the House of Yun's atrocities knew no bounds, but the future of the House of Ye depends on all of you."
The commotion was instantly snuffed by his somber words. Still, the resentment in the crowd's hearts had only grown bigger until it transformed into a collective yearning for more power.
Ye Chen himself could feel his own dread. He was very much aware that the division of power between his family and the Yun family was still too large to be scaled and his own Celestial Chi prowess was only at the Sixth Stage. In a death battle between two clans, the role he, a lone fighter among the group, could play would probably be too minimal to sway victory over to his side. He wished he was stronger; a lot stronger than he was right now.
News of the complication spread to every single clan member, including the ones who had been absent in the hall. The Yun's defamatory actions had incited a strong sense of hatred in every Ye clansman, which was most p.r.o.nounced among the younger generation. Suddenly, there was a reason to train harder because the only way they could get their revenge would be with their fists!
As the crowd was leaving, Ye Zhantian stopped Ye Chen in his tracks.
He shot his son a contemplative stare before sighing. "Chen, listen. Should our family face the worst, know that your grand-uncle, uncles, Elders and I went down trying to fight them. When that happens, I want you to flee Ye Castle. Don't look back, don't worry; I'll cover you. Flee from Donglin county, in fact, flee as far as you can because you're the Ye clan's only hope. If you ever become a Tenth Stage master pugilist in your lifetime then avenge us, so that our spirits may be pacified from beyond! However, if you never manage to attain that level of martial prowess, then don't burden yourself with vengeance. Find somewhere safe to call home, marry someone who loves you, settle down with a loving family and live, happily."
Ye Chen had not expected his father to store such a fatalistic plan for his son. His eyes reddened while his chest was wrought in sorrow.
Yet, the young man mustered as much determination from his heart as he could before replying, "No, Father. I swear to you, everything I do will only be for our family. The Ye clan will prosper for centuries to come and continue as so after eons."
"I appreciate a grand dream, my son, I truly do but—"
"If the Ye clan was going extinct." Ye Chen cut his father's words off. "Your son would not have lived either because he would have perished together, for his family!"
Ye Zhantian's hands were shaking. His heart swelled in melancholy but all he said to his son's proclamation was, "You…"
Ye Chen returned to his quarters, his father's words still echoing in his head.
He balled his hands into fists. 'Ye Chen, if you can't even protect your own people, then you're no better than sc.u.m!'
"So, the Grand Tournament, huh?" Ye Chen's eyes narrowed a little as he remembered Yun Yifei's arrogant, provocative face. "You think you've got it all just because you're at the peak of the Seventh Stage, huh? Let's see who's the one in for a rude awakening!"
He found a quiet spot in his yard, sat down cross-legged and began practicing his Wind Grace Technique with full attention as he steadily gained mastery over its First Grade teaching. Despite his Celestial Chi remaining in the Sixth Stage, Ye Chen could feel that his powers were being fortified from practicing.
Nine Astra Skies was so mysterious that Ye Chen began to feel skeptical. Using Celestial Chi Stages to measure the benefits it brings to its pract.i.tioner was doing it justice. He was not even sure exactly how powerful had he become or if he could already defeat Yun Yifei by now.
The Grand Martial Tournament of the Eighteen Houses of Lianyun would take place in a month's time. By the end of this long period, Ye Chen would attain a whole new level.
He continued directing his focus on practicing the Wind Grace Technique until he sensed his Celestial Chi swirling around him like the wind, gently coaxing him into a deeper state of complete absorption. Soon, Ye Chen was completely lost in the rapture brought by the mysteries of the Nine Astra Skies.
The sky and the earth seemed to have achieved perfect union. It was then Ye Chen felt himself slowly exiting from his material body, drifting higher and higher.
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'Astral projection? Of all of the chi-cultivation systems I've known about, there was never anything about gaining the ability to astral project in any level of Celestial Chi cultivation.'
He triggered the Flying Dagger in his mind for more Celestial Chi so that he may resume training. Alas by evening, he had fully mastered First Grade Wind Grace Technique and advanced his Celestial Chi to somewhere around the mid-Sixth Stage. From then onwards, Ye Chen began to train with the new, upcoming cultivation system, the Ice Mystic Technique.
Ye Chen stood and walked into his room for a refreshing cup of water before heading to the canteen for dinner. It was then when he sensed a foreign presence in his room; something was different.
"Who's there?" Ye Chen huffed warily, his Celestial Chi revolved as he prepared for a fight.
There was no response.
Ye Chen heightened his senses and pinpointed the foreign presence's location. It was coming from his bed.
He crept towards it, his whole body remained at high alert. 'What kind of formidable master would be able to hide their presence to such a subtle degree?'
A soft murmur escaped from the bed.
Ye Chen lunged, his hand swung and froze in midair. There was no one there.
However, there was an unmistakable smell of blood. That was when he noticed bloodstain on his sheet.
He turned his eyes to the corner of his bedsheet and saw that a white furball was backing into the corner frantically yet carefully.
He gave into a fit of chuckles. It was just a tanuki! It had three tails and fur so completely white that there was not a single spot. It was so adorable, his affection towards it rose. Ye Chen was not sure just what kind of mystical beast this particular tanuki was but he was pretty sure it was not aggressive in any way.
One of the little critter's legs was covered in thick crimson blood. It must have fled to Ye Castle after being wounded like this.
'I should save this little thing's life,' Ye Chen said to himself as he nipped the tanuki's neck with his right hand, lifting it up.
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