Uncle Li, who had been standing silently behind Zhan Qisheng, was staring at the phoenix accessory hanging at Liu Sumei’s hips. He whispered by Zhan Qisheng’s ear, causing his expression to change. “Our Zhan family has good ties with the Phoenix Hibiscus Court, let’s not hurt any feelings over such trivial matters!”
The Zhan family’s only daughter, Zhan Qiyun, had entered the Phoenix Hibiscus Court since young, achieving astonishing cultivation results at a young age. That was why the Phoenix Hibiscus Court and the Zhan family became closer, there were even rumours that the daughter of the court’s leader would marry the Champion Marquis’ heir-- the Dragon King, Zhan Qitian. Both houses got along extremely well.
This news shook the entire Daqi!
If it was not for the geographical and resource limitations, based on capabilities alone, the Zhan family was the strongest in the empire while the Phoenix Hibiscus Court was ranked number five amongst all the cultivation sects. Even the Universe Religion would not dare underestimate them. If both houses united in marriage, their combined power would vastly change the power dynamics of Daqi. Some people suspected the Zhan family would break free of their geographical prison in the northwest and start to conquer the world!
To Zhan Qisheng, Liu Sumei was almost an aristocrat- like him. Why would they want to interfere with matters of puny peasants? Liu Sumei’s sudden appearance had surprised him.
Zhan Qisheng wanted to compliment her but Liu Sumei could care less, giving a small smile. “The Hibiscus Court has ties with the Zhan family but I don’t have any with you.”
His face fell. “YOU!”
Liu Sumei did not even look at him. “That’s all I have to say! I hope you know what to do next!” As she spoke, she left gracefully. Little Bell made a face at Zhan Qisheng and then left.
Zhan Qisheng’s expression kept changing as he watched her leave, his eyes filled with desire, rage and frustration. To him, all of this was because he was not powerful enough!
If he was the eldest son, if he was the Dragon King, would Liu Sumei treat him like that?
I must get stronger, I must!
Zhan Qisheng gritted his teeth, his eyes ablaze!
How did she know of his secret? It was a well-kept secret of the Zhan family!
Even his bodyguards Uncle Sun and Uncle Li did not know of this!
Only three people knew about this within the Zhan family!
His father, the Marquis, his mother, and himself!
Because he was an illegitimate child!
He was a son born during the Marquis’ travels! His biological mother had bled severely during birth, barely surviving through spells but still sustained major damage to her Yuan Qi. Every winter, if it snowed heavily outside, she suffered intense pains in her Shuifen, Yinjiao and Guanyuan meridian points.
Zhan Qisheng’s mother was furious at Marquis Zhan for cheating on her out of wedlock, especially hating this illegitimate child he carried home. In the end, although she kept her anger inside, she decided not to let Zhan Qisheng’s biological mother step into their house. She even sent his biological mother to the backyard so she would live in the firewood store, enduring endless humiliation and bullying.
Zhan Qisheng was raised by the Zhan family. Other than the few people involved, no one else knew of this.
But… how could a brothel girl know of such a secret?
Zhan Qisheng felt like he was stripped naked in public, his fear drowning him like a surge of floodwaters. He did not even have the courage to look at Liu Sumei!
Not just fear of her identity, of the powers behind her… but especially the fear of her exposing his true identity!
No one must know that he was an… illegitimate child!
Zhang Junheng looked at Zhan Qisheng’s horror, very confused. He stepped forward and asked in a low voice, “Fourth Young Master?”
He shuddered, then as if he had gone mad, he broke out into screams, “GO AWAY, GO AWAY! JUST GO!”
Zhang Junheng was furious but forced himself to not show it. He glared at Brother Bai, who had now replaced You San’s position in the gang. Brother Bai understood and immediately yelled, “Go home, everyone go home!”
In an instant, the entire crowd dispersed. All that was left was an empty street and a kit flying amongst the clouds.
After they left Cheng’an City, Su Yuehan burst into conversation.
“Young Master, what is your relationship with that Liu Sumei?
“Young Master, when did you meet her?”
“Young Master, will the prefecture chief and Sir Zhan take revenge on her?”
“Young Master, do you like Liu Sumei?”
“Young Master, will you marry Liu Sumei?”
Unable to hold himself back any longer, he raged, “That’s enough of questions!”
She giggled. “I’m just curious!”
“Go home if you’re going to be so annoying! I’ll go cultivate alone!”
She immediately retreated like a scared bird and whispered, “Oh…”
They both sulked as they travelled. When Chengfeng saw how she seemed to be holding herself back from asking her questions, eyes darting at him, he couldn't help but laugh. “Alright, just don’t ask me about Liu Sumei. I don’t really know her!”
As if the dam had burst, she asked more questions. “Young Master, where did you get the golden invitation from?”
“Is the Li family rich? I heard you need a lot of money for it, is that true?”
“Young Master, I heard the Spiritual Mountain has four courts, which will you join?”
“Young Master, can I cultivate with you?”
“Ah, but I heard that female cultivators must cultivate at the Cangxiu Court with the other female disciples, I won’t be able to take care of you anymore. What will we do then? Young Master…”
Chengfeng was extremely annoyed. “That’s enough! You’re not allowed to speak anymore!”
She looked timidly at him. “Oh…”
“You can’t even say ‘oh’!”
She looked at him resentfully. They slowly rode their horses along. In about five kilometres, she seemed like she had something to say but did not dare to.
He said, exasperated, “What do you want?”
She wanted to speak but held herself back.
“Just say it!”
She shook her head vigorously and his temper returned. “You must say it!”
Her face turned red as she lowered her head. “I need to… use the bathroom.”
He was stunned for a moment, then started laughing. She raged, “What’s so funny?!”
He laughed even harder.
They suddenly heard a galloping horse and a man’s shouts, “Young Master, Young Master! Where are you?!”
It was a very unique voice. Li Chengfeng immediately recognised him as Asparta.
Li Chengfeng pulled his reins and turned to see Asparta rushing over with a horse carriage. When Asparta saw him, his face lit up and straightened himself, waving, “Young Master!”
After the Grim Stork’s attack, Asparta and Agatha had grown closer to the family after experiencing the tragedy together. Madam Xie and Li Chengfeng were much friendlier to them after their actions during the attack, seeing them as family.
“Asparta? Why are you here?” Li Chengfeng smiled, looking at the carriage.
Asparta stopped the carriage and opened the curtains to help a person out. Li Chengfeng was shocked.
This person was clad in a thick cotton cloak, his face pale as a sheet as he stumbled down the carriage. It was the heavily injured Li Chun.
“Father?!” Li Chengfeng leapt off his horse to help Li Chun.
Li Chun breathed heavily. “You’re leaving to cultivate with the Spiritual Mountain Sect, yet I did not get to send you off. It’s my fault.”
Li Chengfeng felt a lump in his throat. “Father! You’re not well, resting is more important! If I have time, I’ll definitely come visit!”
Li Chun shook his head. “Don’t come down the mountain before you succeed! The Li family cannot turn back now that you’re going. You must succeed, you cannot fail!”
Chengfeng nodded solemnly. “Don’t worry, Father!”
Li Chun reached into his clothes for a red pouch. It looked very heavy, for the pouch fell heavily on the ground with a loud thud.
Chengfeng bent over to pick it up and felt that it was at least five kilograms. It seemed to be filled with rectangular stone pieces about the size of two thumbs.
“What is this?” he asked.
Li Chun panted. “It’s an heirloom passed down from the Cleansing Moon Li family’s founder!”
“We still have heirlooms?” Chengfeng’s face then darkened. “It’s not another bun, is it?”
Li Chun waved. “No, the founder brought these with him wherever he went, it has also been to battle with him. After he died, his spells died with him and no one has been able to use these magical items since. It’s a waste they’re sitting at our house too. I’d rather you bring it along. Perhaps it can help you if you’re able to use it.”
Chengfeng grew more curious. “It really is an heirloom? What is it?”
Li Chun looked solemn as he spoke slowly. “It’s an invaluable treasure. It’ll make a regular person very rich, as rich as a kingdom!”
Asparta and Su Yuehan leaned closer curiously, trying to see.
Li Chengfeng lifted the pouch above his head and bowed in the direction of his house. Then, he opened the drawstrings carefully and poured it into his palm.
Two rectangular pieces fell into his palm. They were made of jade stones, green on one side but white on the other. Something was carved on the white side.
Asparta and Su Yuehan immediately turned their heads, doing their best to maintain their expressions as their stomachs twitched and shoulders trembled.
Li Chengfeng was so shocked at the ‘treasures’ he held in his hand that he almost dropped them.
Father, are you joking again?!
Well, it’ll indeed make me rich!
One of the pieces had the ‘Fa 發’ character while the other had a bright red ‘Zhong 中’ on their white faces!
Fa and Zhong?!
“Father?! Are you sure these are our family magical treasures?” Li Chengfeng’s voice was hoarse. “Was our clan founder a cultivator or a mahjong player?!”
Su Yuehan could not hold it in any longer, bursting into fits of giggles.
He glared at her. “What’s so funny?!”
As if in revenge, she laughed even harder.
[Note: Fa and Red Zhong are mahjong stone tiles that also symbolise prosperity & riches]