Chapter 38: Drums of War
That night, Xi Mun spent the entire time cultivating his inner energy. At first, his body had been rigid. He was filled with hate and pain as he once more remembered the scenes from his childhood where he was sitting on the ground and his beloved sister was dead in his arms. As the night progressed, his body got to relax and Xu Min thought about all the warmth he had received.
First was meeting Cao Cao. Although he had been scared witless by the father, Xu Min was grateful for the snake. It was the only reason that he had managed to survive the ordeal within the forest.
Having fought together like this, the two of them were comrades. Cao Cao had turned out to be very much like a little child and Xu Min enjoyed spoiling him. He fed him all the foods he could dream about and pet his small head whenever he could.
Cao Cao was not the only one who treated him with friendliness. The Alluring Treasure Pavilion and Yong Meilin had opened their home to him and allowed him to be safe for a while. At the same time, they ensured that he had everything he needed. Yong Meilin alone was spending all her time together with him. She was definitely the closest thing to a friend he ever had.
Thinking about these things, Xu Min slowly managed to let go of his anger. Once more, he buried himself completely in his training as golden specks appeared all over the room.
“Father, are you sure we want to do this?” Tang Jing asked curiously as he walked to his father’s side in a humid dungeon. No one apart from themselves knew of their location. The dungeons below their Tang Manor was only known to the main branch of the Tang family.
On a day like today, five men had been led into a room within these dungeons. Tang Ye, the father, and Tang Jing, his young son, were on their way towards this underground room. Their faces were both serious and their steps were hurried.
“Don’t worry about it, son,” Tang Ye said with a frown on his face as his legs led him closer and closer to the underground room. “Had this young man not appeared, then we would not act. But now it seems as though we have lost our only way into the Alluring Treasure Pavilion.”
Hearing the words spoken by his father, Tang Jing’s gaze became hard and he nodded his head. At first, when it was only gossip, no one had paid it any mind. Upon seeing Yong Meilin together with the young man entering the Hall of Champions holding hands. It seemed that all the rumors were ground in some sort of reality.
“We cannot wait any longer; the Alluring Treasure Pavilion have been too full of themselves recently. They have a monopoly on all treasures that appear within our Ri Chu City. They should learn to share some of that glory.” Tang Ye said as the two of them entered a round room far underground. Both of their faces were filled with sleek smiles and their arms opened up to welcome the five men who were seated within.
“Welcome to our Tang family’s underground chamber,” Tang Ye said with a friendly manner. “Today, let us discuss how we should convince the Alluring Treasure Pavilion to share some of the fortune they have taken from all us nobles of Ri Chu City.”
“Newcomers like them think that they can do whatever they want to within our family,” a man said, his voice deep and his body large. His face was hidden behind a mask. Even though it was hidden, everyone within the chamber knew that he was Lord Shiu Kang.
“This is hypocrisy.” one man said. His words caused anger to flare amongst everyone present. None of them dared say a word as they waited for him to continue.
“Because that Yong girl has decided to find a lover, you want to start a war against the Alluring Treasure Pavilion? Everyone in here has been wooing her. What would you have done had my son won her affection? Would you then go against my family as well?”
Hearing the words, the other four men were slightly unsettled. They too had been wooing her, but no one had been successful. Had they been successful, would the Tang family then have gone against them? The thought was frightening.
“Lord Guo, I can assure you that I would not have gone against anyone within this room,” Tang Ye said with a smile on his face and a easy voice. He was in no way insulted by the question; however, his eyes were lit with anger as he spoke. It was a detail no one failed to notice.
“We are all from Ri Chu City. To lose to one of us is acceptable, but now this youngster appears from out of nowhere. He is talented, that is certain, but he has no backing, apart from the Alluring Treasure Pavilion. To hand over the prospects of such wealth to an unnamed talent is not acceptable! We will share the Pavilion six ways and give an even amount to each who participate.”
Snorting, the masked man who was called Lord Guo stood up. “I don’t want to be part of this, but don’t worry, I won’t tell the Alluring Treasure Pavilion about your plans. They are rubbing me the wrong way too. But to directly act, I see nothing that can justify it.”
Looking around, the masked man’s eyes landed upon the young Tang Jing. “You there,” he said, while pointing at the young master, “Lead me out of these damned underground tunnels and make sure that I don’t get lost. I’ll leave the scheming to you guys.”
Having said that, the man started walking and didn’t give Tang Jing any time to consider what to do. He rushed out to the masked man and tried to show him respect as he humbly led the lord out.
Looking at the closing door, Tang Ye sighed deeply. The smile never vanished from his face as he turned around and looked at the four remaining masked men within the room. “Sorry about that, let us start discussing how we will deal with the Alluring Treasure Pavilion.”
That night as Yong Meilin finally understood her own feelings, she was unable to sleep. Half of the night was spent filled with happiness and eagerness to see the young man the following day. At the same time, she was filled with worry. What if he did not share her feelings? What if she was acting weird? She knew that she was pretty, but was she to his liking? Having spoken with him as often as she had, she knew that Xu Min valued inner values far more than the outer looks. Was she good enough for him?
The rest of the night was spent pacing her floor as she switched between eagerness and happiness or sadness and nervousness. She could not understand her own emotions because she had never felt this way before. Should she tell her grandfather about this? Should she keep it a secret? Should she tell Xu Min or perhaps sneak it in the conversation somehow? Maybe asking him quietly about what he thought about her, but did she have the courage to do so? Thinking about all these things, her cheeks flushed red. She felt as though she was too hot within the room. As she opened the windows and looked out at the beautiful and starry sky, her mood was the best it had ever been. She knew that, under these stars, Xu Min was sitting still and cultivating. Although he was not thinking about her, she knew he was close by. It was a closeness that finally helped her calm down.
Xu Min was standing in his courtyard. Within his hand was his sword given by Wang Li. He had brought it with him for a long time, but he had never actually used it. Although he knew that this weapon was a fierce weapon because it was a large and could be used both defensively and offensively, he was unskilled with swords. Even holding it in his hand felt foreign. But after standing still for some time, his muscles tensed. One sword stroke was drawn through the air.
As the sword swung through the air, a sound could be heard. The heavy sword required Xu Min to use his full strength to carry it, let alone swing it. On his face, a brilliant smile was visible. Not only would training with the sword familiarize himself with it, but also it would also help him with his physical training. He swung the sword again and again. The sounds resounded within the courtyard as sweat started to appear on his body. Wielding a sword this big was hard work, but it was also a rewarding experience for Xu Min. He was filled with excitement as he stood still and made the same swing again and again. He slowly opened the world of a swordsman.
Xu Min was so focused on training that he did not hear the knocking on his courtyard. Yong Meiling was not one who enjoyed waiting, so she entered through the gate even though no one gave her permission to go in. Her heart was beating rapidly and as she entered the room, red spots appeared on her pale cheeks. Her throat turned dry and she was incapable of saying anything. Her entire body was controlled by her emotions.
While Xu Min was training, Cao Cao was usually sleeping. However, the snake had noticed the strange behavior of Yong Meilin and slithered down to the ground. He drew close to Yong Meilin and slithered onto her arm where it observed her curiously.
Although Cao Cao could converse with Xu Min, the two of them conversed spiritually. For him to talk out loud was still impossible; thus, it was not possible for him to speak with Yong Meiling. However, the young woman had guessed as to why the snake had appeared, and with a trembling finger did she shush the small snake.
“Don’t say anything,” she whispered to the snake as she petted its head. “I’ll give you the most delicious food as long as you promise me not to tell Xu Min anything.”
Hearing the words “delicious food”, Cao Cao was instantly sold as his eyes glistened. Drool could be seen on his small mouth as he snuck closer to Yong Meilin. Although Cao Cao was against most humans, he had gotten some kind of trust when it came to Yong Meilin. He was further tempted by the prospect of delicious food, so it was an impossible task to not accept the offer to him.
Looking with one long glance towards Xu Min, Yong Meiling quickly understood that the young man was simply too deeply immersed within his training to notice anything at all. A wry smile appeared on her face. She alone had gotten all worked up about visiting him today; however, he did not even notice her.
With mixed emotions and a final glance towards Xu Min, Yong Meilin stood up. With Cao Cao on her arm, she left the courtyard and moved towards the main mansion of the Yong family.
“I know someone who would be very honored to meet you,” Yong Meiling said to the snake on her arm. Together, the two of them entered the main mansion and headed towards the office where Yong Meilin’s grandfather worked on the matters that concerned the Alluring Treasure Pavilion.