Chapter 16 – The White Tiger’s Assault
“Pa, what should we do next?” Ye Hai frowned and asked.
“The foundations of our family’s establishments took a few hundred years to build. If we are to collapse now, we’ll have to move out of the manor and spread out all across the city… Our enemies will take this chance attack us!” Ye Zheng Qing let out a long deep sigh and looked up into the sky and thought: ‘This is an enormous world. Is there somewhere our Ye family can just live in peace?’
“The land in North Hill Bay belongs to the Ye Family. Our ancestors were buried there. I will never give up our ancestral land. No matter what happens, I will defend it with my life!”
Ye Wei was still standing behind the wall while they were talking, eavesdropping, and the conversation got heavier and heavier. He felt insecure because the thought of his family losing its integrity was frightening, but the thought of losing the only place he could ever call home was unsettling.
“There are not a lot of options left… We shall agree to the duel posed by the Du family!” Ye Zheng Qing took a gold plated letter of challenge from his pocket: “A messenger from the Du family delivered this letter of challenge. The event shall be in three days, where the younger generation of our families shall fight against each other! If we win the duel, the Du family has promised that they will stop interfering with our family’s businesses, but if we lose, we will have to sell our ancestral land to them!”
“That is out of the question!” Ye Hai said anxiously. “The strongest youngster we have is a four star Warrior, but the Du family’s youngsters have already become five Star Warriors. The strongest of them, Du Yue Han, is even a six star Warrior!”
“We cannot have Ye Zhong take this impossible task!” Ye Han frowned. He knew that the Ye family had little chance at winning and there was no way that they could risk the loss of their most talented youngster.
“I will train privately with Ye Zhong until the duel. Either way, one of our youngsters has to take on this challenge. Even if we lose, we can say at the least that we’ve tried our best. There is no other way out of this dilemma!” The head of the family made this tough decision, as the family was completely cornered by this crisis.
Ye Hai and Ye Han felt helpless and dejected. Their Ye family might fall very and they could do nothing to stop it.
“Let’s put that aside for now. We also have to plan for the worst outcome: If we lose the duel, our old foes will be at the doorstep the moment they hear the news of our loss. We must send the young ones to Ning City, where they should be safe with the Yang family.” Ye Zheng Qing felt crushed. Having to split the family up was his worst nightmare.
“Father…” Ye Han clenched his fist as he saw his father’s face.
Ye Hai was speechless. After some consideration, he broke his silence: “This will be the right move if we lose the duel. I’m not worried about most of the kids, but my young nephew Ye Wei… He’s not a talented child. The other children will survive and find their own way even if they’re under a different roof. They’re strong enough to work simple jobs, like being a guard, and eventually have their own small families. With Ye Wei, it won’t be that easy. He has a red Sentient, and I’m quite sure he will be excluded regardless of our good relationship with the Yangs. He is protected by the Ye family, and we provide for him so he can live a carefree life and not worry about food and clothes… It won’t be this simple if he has to live under another roof!”
Having heard his big uncle’s confession, Ye Wei was breathless. Two lines of tears fell from his red eyes.
Ye Wei always thought that his big uncle was the worst-tempered and the meanest of his uncles — the uncle who disliked him the most. He never thought Uncle Ye Hai cared about him and his future that much!
Ye Wei’s heart was suddenly filled with guilt. He had always misunderstood his uncle who had always been strict with him for the noblest intention!
‘I was a child who didn’t care about anything outside my little bubble, but in difficult times like this… As grandpa said, it’s about time the young ones take on some responsibility. I will defend the Ye family to my final breath! I have to do my part in keeping our loved ones close together. I won’t sit back and watch us get separated! I swear I won’t let this happen!” With the back of his hand, he wiped the tears away and firmly walked away. Slowly, Ye Wei’s figure disappeared into the dark of the night.
Soon after that talk, Ye Zheng Qing announced the duel with the Du family in front of the family at the banquet.
Upon hearing the news, the majority of the family members’ faces became pale with fear for the family’s future. Although Ye Zhong, the strongest of the younger generation in the Ye family, was fairly famous in Green Moon City, his opponent would be a six Star Warrior. Fame would not even out the two star level difference in power!
“Our Ye family has no other choice…” Grandpa looked at the disapproving faces of the family members and sighed. He looked as if he were ten years older for a brief moment.
“This is outrageous!” Aunt Jing Jing violently smashed the table and stood up. She shouted: “I will take on the Du family myself!” For a moment, she looked like a rampaging demon who would kill without hesitation… Her pretty face was bright red, but it was unclear whether it was from rage or alcohol.
“Father, is there no other way? Can’t we discuss this matter with master Yi? I don’t see Ye Zhong winning this duel, and the land at North Hill Bay is at stake. Our ancestors’ remains were buried there for crying out loud!” Ye Wei’s dad, Ye Wi, stood up and seeked to stop this madness.
The most respected Runemaster in Green Moon City, Master Yi, actually had connections with the Ye family. If he were to be the peacemaker, even the Du family would have to stand down!
“Master Yi…” Grandpa shook his head with a bitter smile on his face: “Master Yi’s prestigious status comes with tight schedules and security concerns. It’s not so easy to arrange a meeting with him, even as the head of one of the Big Three. This matter is too urgent. Do you really think I could convince Master Yi to help us in a couple days?”
“Gramps. When is the Du Family coming over?” Ye Zhong had held his tongue until now. He now spoke each word loud and clear in a declaratory manner.
“For the ancestral land, I would give my life before giving up! I am the strongest in the younger generation and we need a strong leader in this moment of crisis!” Ye Zhong cracked his knuckles as he said these words.
“In three days!” Grandpa replied. He could see the recklessness in Ye Zhong’s posture, so he added:” Little Zhong, just do your best. There will always be a winner and a loser, and nobody in this hall will blame you. What you must not do is let your emotions control you. You are the one with the most potential in our family. I can picture you taking over for me one day and becoming the master of this family!” Ye Zheng Qing was clearly worried about Ye Zhong’s hot-headedness
“Of course! Gramps, dad, uncles and aunts, I will head back now!” Ye Zhong nodded and turned around, heading out of the hall.
Ye Wei watched his cousin walking away, visibly stressed with clenched hands. The family’s future was in his cousin’s hands; he couldn’t imagine how much pressure Ye Zhong was under right now, how much weight there was on his poor cousin’s shoulders.
Ye Zhong had always been a supportive figure to Ye Wei since he was a young boy. Namingly, after the entry exam to South Star Academy, upon hearing the bad news about his red Sentient, his big cousin was there to comfort and motivate him patiently and caringly.
‘Big Cousin is likely to risk his life for the family, but what about me? Can’t I do anything but sit in the corner quietly and watch this unfold? No, I have to do something! I will not allow anyone to plot against my family, nor will I let anybody hurt my cousin!’ Ye Wei remembered how he perfected Triple Tidal Palm and helped Zi Yan acquire cosmic energy, thus allowing her to break through to become a Warrior. He planned to help Ye Zhong with his training and perfect his stances, improving his cultivation and the chance of victory!
‘I’ll have to give this a go!’ Ye Wei raised his head slowly and clenched his fists.
After the feast, Ye Wei and his parents left the banquet hall and walked back to their house together.
“Little Wei, you should be tired from the trip home right? Get some rest, son.” Ye Yi patted his son’s head, sounding a bit down, which was probably because of the announcement at the dinner party.
“Of course! Ma, pa, you two should get some rest soon too!” Ye Wei nodded agreeingly and made his way back to his room while his parents returned to theirs.
The night was getting darker and darker. Dim, flickering tea lights in the lanterns made the quiet walkways and corridors in the manor look slightly frightening. A midnight breeze gently blew past the tealights and leaves on the trees, the sizzling leaves seemed a bit tired in the darkness.
Silence fell as the wind slowly died down as the starlight was fading, leaving the moon on her own. Ye Wei was appreciating the peaceful and gorgeous night sky while walking in the dark path towards Ye Zhong’s residence with the moonlight’s guidance.
Ye Zhong was relatively independent. He was no longer living with his parents, but in a separate quarter by himself. As expected, he was training very hard in the courtyard.
‘How long has he been doing this?’ Ye Wei peeped through the gate into the courtyard, and he saw that his cousin was surrounded by heavy, white mist.
It was a cloud of evaporated sweat!
Ye Zhong was performing the high spirit-level stance White Tiger’s Assault repeatedly, and the drain of will-force and Qi made him have a pale complexion and caused him to gasp heavily.
A high spirit level stance was a Warrior’s limit. The White Tiger’s Assault was the most powerful among the sixteen high spirit level stances that the Ye family had and it was also what Ye Zhong was best at.
There were significant strength differences between the stances. Simple, advanced, peak and forbidden, from weakest to strongest, were the four sublevels.
Forbidden stances existed and were extremely powerful, but generally avoided, as performing them could be harmful to a Warrior’s mind and body akin a double edged blade.
The White Tiger’s Assault belonged to the peak level. It was easily one of the strongest stances a Warrior could master at Ye Zhong’s level.
The dim moonlight was the only reason anything was visible and in the dark, Ye Zhong drew an interwinding web of runes around his steaming body.
The web of runes quickly shrunk, with him as the centre, and formed a large cat, a tiger as white as the first snow!
Although Ye Wei was standing quite a distance from outside the courtyard, his skin could feel the force emitting from the cat from more than twenty feet away. A wave of pressure tightened Ye Wei’s chest. It was getting harder and harder to breathe and a chill went down his spine. He was suddenly enveloped by inexplicable fear.
Ye Wei remained calm as he could while staring at the white tiger levitating over his cousin’s head.
The mountain emerged in Ye Wei’s consciousness and a golden light shone through the surface of his red Sentient that was slightly visible deep in his dark iris.
‘Two nodes out of the hundred and thirty-six runes can be improved. If my big cousin’s Qi could flow through them quicker and in sync with the other nodes, the White Tiger’s Assault can become significantly stronger.’ Ye Wei’s eyes brightened up like shining stars in a bright, night sky.
‘Two flaws! I will figure out how to polish the stance and cousin Zhong’s best stance will become much better once it’s been perfected!