"Looks like you have a lot of work to catch up on, Big Brother Ye Chen, or you'll always be biting Big Sister Ye Xuan's dust!" Ye Rou teased sweetly, her smile gave off a countenance of serendipity. Now that Ye Chen's meridian channels had been healed completely, she had faith that the young man would once again reclaim his old, confident self with the help of his natural talent.
"Come on, if it wasn't for all those nights when you had to exhaust much of your own Celestial Chi to appease my damaged meridian channels, I'm fairly sure you would have long surpa.s.sed Xuan already," Ye Chen replied, an expression of nostalgia dawning over his face. In the past three years when his meridian channels were broken, he would be in excruciating pain on the night of every full moon. The only reason why he was spared from that ordeal was that Ye Rou would be there to forcefully channel her Celestial Chi into his body to soothe his meridian channels. If it was not for this labor, Rou would have likely broken into the Seventh Stage or beyond already.
The hubbub continued amongst the crowd. In a world filled with instability, a person's life was no more secure than a blade of wild gra.s.s. Under such circ.u.mstances, a person's family became their place of refuge. So naturally, everyone wanted their family to be the greatest and the strongest. If Ye Xuan joined Emerald Cloud Sect and trained there, it would just be a matter of years for the rise of a new guardian G.o.ddess in the family. Just this thought alone had sparked the ma.s.ses' joy.
Ye Zhantian continued on his subject of discussion, now focusing on the Ye family's mining business, their shops and more.
"In seven days, we would be celebrating our Grand Ancestral Worshipping Ceremony that is held once every half-decade. Every Ye clansman who happened to be dealing with mercantile affairs, as well as going out onto the field, should be summoned back to their home within seven days. In addition to that, we need to inform our Former Chief to return from his cultivation in the deep mountains. That is all for our clan meeting today— meeting adjourned!"
"Wait!" Just as everyone was about to leave, a cry came from the Great Elder Ye Moyang.
"Is there anything amiss, Lord Elder?" Ye Zhantian shot a glance at the man sharply, his eyes glinting.
"Since all of our clansmen are around for this clan meeting, I would like to take the opportunity to raise an important issue!"
"What is on your mind, Lord Elder?" Ye Zhantian asked.
At this moment, even Ye Zhanlong, Ye Zhanxiong and the rest of the Elders were staring at Ye Moyang. A nagging sense of dread gradually crept into their minds.
"I had a discussion with five other Elders the other day regarding the Grand Ancestral Worshipping Ceremony that is to be held in seven days. As we all know, that is also the time for the Successor Chief to be named. Any thoughts on that, Chief?" Ye Moyang narrowed his eyes as he stared at Ye Zhantian.
According to the Ye clan's traditions, there should also be a Successor Chief selected from the younger generations while the acting Chief was still in power, with the latter possessing the large Ye clan ancestral stamp seal while the former held a smaller ancestral stamp. This was to ensure that there would always be a person to quickly a.s.sume the mantle of being the Patriarch of the family should the acting Chief suffer a stroke of ill fate.
The future Patriarch was meant to be Ye Chen but ever since the ambush, Ye Chen's own ancestral stamp seal had been kept safe by Ye Zhantian. In other words, the position of Successor Chief had long been empty for three years— this was why Ye Moyang brought the issue up again.
The crowd broke into whispers.
"He's not wrong. We should be naming our Successor Chief by now."
"That position had been empty for three years! I don't think it's appropriate to not pay heed to ancestral laws…"
Hearing affirmative public coverage, Ye Moyang was very pleased with himself. Choosing a Successor Chief was one of the matters every clan member held dear to their heart. Under this public scrutiny, there was no way Ye Zhantian would be able to delay this matter any longer.
Among the younger cohort, only children with the direct bloodline of the Ye Family's main branch had a shot at the position. This effectively culled the numbers of contenders into just a dozen, with Ye Xuan being the most eligible as she now came first in terms of martial prowess. However, since she had decided to enroll in the Emerald Could Sect, she had lost her bid for this position. Ye Rou was still considered an outsider as she was merely placed in the care of the Ye family. Hence, regardless of her martial prowess, she was automatically disqualified as a contender.
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With every option crossed out, the only person who would most likely be the Successor Chief was none other than Ye Kongyan.
Hearing Ye Moyang's words, Ye Kongyan beamed in exhilaration. The mantle of Successor Chief was an utmost honor to him. In addition to that, as a Successor Chief, he would be able to marry Ye Xuan once she returns from the Sect in two years' time and sometime in future, he would become the Patriarch of the clan. By then, he would be the kingpin of the family with the most authority!
Ye Zhantian's eyebrows furrowed a little. He knew Ye Chen's meridian channels had healed but Ye Zhantian reasoned that the boy was still too weak to immediately have a faceoff with Ye Kongyan for the position of Successor Chief.
"The match for the position of Successor Chief should only be held three months from now," Ye Zhantian said, after a long silence.
"But why three months? This shows direct disobedience to ancestral traditions!" Ye Moyang protested.
"If our Big Brother said it should be held in three months, then it shall be held in three months. How anxious can you be, Lord Elder, to not be able to wait through three months?" Ye Zhanlong interjected steely.
"The Grand Ceremony is just seven days away. Why not have the match then instead of waiting for an arbitrarily-determined period of three months? If the Chief could give us a single piece of a convincing reason, we will of course accept the delay!" Ye Moyang reb.u.t.ted, not showing any indication of backing down. 'Ye Zhantian is obviously bidding his time on this,' Ye Moyang grumbled in his mind. 'The longer this issue drags on, the lower my odds are. I cannot let the appointment be postponed!'
"Why would I need a reason? I'm the Chief. Are you suggesting that I have no say in this?" Ye Zhantian sneered coldly. His eyes scanned the eager faces of his clansmen before stopping at Ye Chen's, finally sighing quietly in his heart. When Ye Chen was finally ready, he would most definitely help his son in claiming the position of Successor Chief. The idea of actually handing over the ancestral stamp seal – the symbol of clan authority – to the likes of Ye Kongyan and Ye Moyang horrified him.
"Well, well, well. Our Chief is once again back to his usual acts of tyranny, huh?" A smirk curled on Ye Moyang's lips. "Three years ago, our Chief was the one who made an impactful decision entirely on his own, and what happened next? The House of Ye fell from grace, of course! The fall was much too great that we now reached the lowest point. Remind me again what is our standing among the Eighteen Houses of Lianyun? And again, should we ever break the laws laid down by our ancestors? If the Chief remains perverse in his decision, then I, along with all the other Elders, would indict the Chief!"
The impactful decision that Ye Moyang was referring to was none other than Ye Zhantian's command that every member of the House was to contribute to heal Ye Chen. Back then, the amount of rare herb and medicine used to heal Ye Chen had raked up to five years' worth of family savings. Ye Chen's continuous consumption of Chi-ama.s.sing Pills thereafter also made financial matters worse.
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Ye Chen's hands balled into fists as he listened to Ye Moyang's words. That sly fox had finally spoken of his intentions, after all. His true intention was to expunge Ye Chen!
When the clan meeting finally adjourned, the crowd dispersed into their own discussion cl.u.s.ters. As they left, most of their topics revolving around the Grand Ancestral Worshipping Ceremony to be held seven days later.
It was then a messenger hawk spread its wings and soared through the air, flying North in a mission to pa.s.s the news to the House of Ye's Former Chief.
At Ye Zhantian's residency in Ye Castle.
"My dear Chen, are you certain that you'll be able to win the match?"
"I… will do my best." Ye Chen was not sure if he could win that day as well.
"It's okay if you don't manage to, alright? How's your recovery going?" Ye Zhantian changed the subject, not having the heart to place so much pressure on Ye Chen. Ye Moyang's scheme had proved itself to be deadly effective. Ye Zhantian knew that should Ye Kongyan ever win, Ye Moyang's next step would likely be vying for Ye Zhantian's head— after all, the Chief knew that the sellout had long colluded with the House of Yun. 'So what? As if I'll be afraid of the Yun just because of this?'
"I've recovered all the way to the Fourth Stage," Ye Chen replied. Although his Celestial Chi Stage was only in the fourth grade, the young man did realize that something was odd about them, his Celestial Chi was simply far purer than normal. Taking this into account, even Ye Chen was not exactly sure how much power he possessed at the moment.
Still, Ye Chen had reasons to believe that he would be able to go toe-to-toe with Ye Kongyan's power. What more, he still had seven days to prepare for the fight. He was confident that he would improve even more over that span of time.
"The Fourth Stage already? Your recovery speed is astounding, son. If you manage to improve more, I'm sure you can actually beat Ye Kongyan," Ye Zhantian replied joyously. As Ye Chen's meridian channels had only recently been healed, he would have expected his son to be in either the First or Second Stage, yet to Ye Zhantian's bewilderment, Ye Chen revealed that he was already at the Fourth Stage. Now, when combined with Ye Chen's old foundation in martial arts techniques, Ye Zhantian was pleased that his son's victory was not as unlikely as he had expected.
"Your Father had prepared some Chi-ama.s.sing Pills for you. Go ahead and use them," Ye Zhantian said, opening a hidden drawer to uncover a box covered by embroidered silk. In it, thirty-seven Chi-ama.s.sing Pills emanated a palatable aroma.
"Father, there's no need for them. Neither is there a need to gather such pills for me anymore… I don't need to use them." Ye Chen's eyes were reddened. After all, pills like these could not bring out the same effect as the Flying Dagger's Celestial Chi that Ye Chen's body regularly basked in. Besides, Ye Chen had expended thousands of Chi-ama.s.sing Pills throughout the three years, which only became a heavy burden on the family's finances. Due to the shortage of funds, the family was no longer able to gather that many Chi-ama.s.sing Pills anymore.
"Son, I gifted you these pills because I want you to win the match. Do you understand? I do not want Ye Moyang or Ye Kongyan to grasp the mantle of Successor Patriarch at all! These Chi-ama.s.sing Pills do not cost that much anyway."
"Father, it's alright. Lately, as I trained in the Thunder Emperor Technique, I've gained some sort of insight. I am absolutely sure I do not need Chi-ama.s.sing pills anymore," Ye Chen replied firmly.
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