Li Ruoshuang had elders standing on each side of her. One of them was a senior from the Celestial Sword Li Clan, who had been the Unblemished Saint out to cut Ye Futian down back then.
The other elder was wearing a tight-fitting long robe and looked to be over 50 years old. His eyes were narrowed and rather eerie and gave the impression that he was unfriendly. He stood with his hands behind his back, and those narrowed eyes of his looked rather cold.
He seldom appeared in the region, so there were few who knew of him.
A group of mighty ones from the Yun Clan were there. The one who took the lead was named Yun Chong, who was Yun Teng's brother. His bearing was calm and steady as he looked at Li Ruoshuang.
Yun Chong actually spent more time eyeing the long-robed elder beside Li Ruoshuang. He was suspicious of that person's identity.
From his perspective, the Celestial Sword Li Clan was the enemy, and they had a lot of scores to settle with each other. Despite Li Ruoshuang's forceful temperament, they should not have dared to demand that the Yun Clan hand anyone over.
That elder was probably not someone from the Celestial Sword Li Clan.
"You do not look familiar. May I ask where you train?" Yun Chong asked in a probing manner.
The elder with narrowed eyes seemed to have turned his eyes into slits when he looked at Yun Chong. His eyes seemed plain and uncaring, not bothering with Unblemished Saints from the Yun Clan of Luo City.
He did not even bother responding.
That made Yun Chong feel rather heavy deep down. If that person dared to ignore him like that, he must really be someone formidable.
Li Ruoshuang shot a sarcastic look at Yun Chong. Ye Futian had killed two saints from the Celestial Sword Li Clan, and the Yun Clan was actually still covering for him.
Other than for revenge, she was there at the Yun Clan to have the those on the other side offend the people at her side. So long as the Yun Clan refused to yield, it would naturally offend that elder.
She wanted to see how the Yun Clan would react to it.
"Yun Chong, do you know that that Renhuang mural back then was something that Ms. Ruoshuang intended to take and present to the Zuoqiu Clan of the imperial city? It was fine that you didn't want to do anything about the mural being destroyed, but you people of the Yun Clan actually covered for him. How do you suppose we settle this then?" Li Ku, who stood beside Li Ruoshuang, asked.
Yun Chong felt rather troubled hearing what he said. He took a serious look at the one at Li Ruoshuang's side.
The Zuoqiu Clan of the imperial city.
The Zuoqiu Clan had come to fame and gained status due to the current clan leader having served as a bodyguard for Emperor Qi once and training with the emperor, going through thick and thin with him.
The Zuoqiu held incredible sway over a vast region and were of very high renown and status. Many legendary people had gradually emerged from the clan, and the clan had continued to grow strong. They were of extremely high status in Emperor Qi's territory, and they were one of the most powerful clans around.
They held so much sway that they were even able to affect how the emperor made decisions.
For instance, Emperor Qi chose geniuses from his territory to pass on methods of cultivation, but there was no way he could attend to everything. As such, he delegated a substantial amount of responsibilities to others, and the Zuoqiu Clan was one of those at such levels, commanding incredible influence.
It was clear by then that Li Ruoshuang did not intend to fight for that mural left behind by a Renhuang in order to present it to the royal court. She intended to gift it to the Zuoqiu Clan, which was serving the royal palace, instead.
She intended to use that as a stepping stone in order to get closer to Emperor Qi and allow their clan to rise by leaps and bounds.
Li Ruoshuang had always been of considerable talent herself. If she were to be instructed by Emperor Qi and acquire stronger cultivation resources, she would definitely rise to prominence in the future.
The key was that the woman herself was very good at such machinations.
"If that were the case, we of the Zuoqiu Clan would have been willing to give it away if we were to be the ones taking it. However, we never knew any of this when we last fought," Yun Chong said. It was apparent that while they were the ones at a disadvantage in the squabble with the Celestial Sword Li Clan, handling it was still within their capacity.
But if they were to make enemies of the Zuoqiu Clan, things would become difficult for them.
In truth, the Yun Clan had always attempted to establish connections with the officials who were close to the emperor, but they had never had any good way to do so. Those officials simply scoffed at them.
Li Ruoshuang was apparently connected to the Zuoqiu Clan. If the Celestial Sword Li Clan were to be able to use such a connection to their advantage, it would definitely be a very bad thing for the Yun Clan.
Things would look dire for them.
"No point talking about any of that now. Hand the man over," Li Ku said plainly. That mighty one from the Zuoqiu Clan remained silent.
He was only there as Li Ruoshuang's escort. He had examined her talents and found her to truly be a rare talented cultivator. She was still young and she was already a Saint of True Self. She had an unyielding spirit in seeking the great path, and furthermore, she was willing to pay.
He intended to first send her to learn at the emperor's side, and she would one day be married into the Zuoqiu Clan as well.
As such, he did not mind that Li Ruoshuang borrowed such a connection to her advantage. They would be family sooner or later anyway.
Yun Chong instructed his men to bring Ye Futian. He turned around and saw a group of people coming closer. Yun Teng, Yun Ni, Ye Futian, and a group of people came over.
That was not all. Many mighty ones from the Yun Clan came as well. They felt heavy deep down after knowing that the elder had come from the Zuoqiu Clan.
Yun Teng heard people talking when he was on his way. He was feeling troubled, as he knew that there was a huge mess to be dealt with up ahead.
Li Ruoshuang was actually connected to the Zuoqiu Clan already.
"What is actually happening, Yun Teng?" Yun Chong asked Yun Teng, who was about to reach them.
Yun Teng looked at him and then at the elder of the Zuoqiu Clan at Li Ruoshuang's side. He said, "The case of the three forces fighting over the wall has nothing to do with the Zuoqiu Clan in the first place. Li Ruoshuang, this is between us of the Yun Clan and the Celestial Sword Li Clan. What is the meaning of dragging someone from the Zuoqiu Clan into this?"
Li Ruoshuang shot a glance at Yun Teng. She was not there to reason with Yun Teng.
To her, the only thing that mattered was the result.
"Is the Yun Clan going to hand over the man or not?" Li Ruoshuang was just as cold as her name implied. She had only asked if they were going to hand over the man and nothing else.
There was no need to explain anything.
The place was silent.
Yun Ni and Yun Qianyue, who were standing behind Yun Teng, looked coldly at those from the Celestial Sword Li Clan. Yun Qianyue was strongly fixated on surpassing Li Ruoshuang in the future so as to avenge her father.
"Yun Teng, we're not in a position to offend the Zuoqiu Clan at the moment," Yun Chong said to Yun Teng telepathically.
The way he saw it, Ye Futian was but an outsider, and he was not worth the trouble.
"Can't you see that handing the man over would still be pointless? Li Ruoshuang is doing all this to establish a connection with someone higher up. If they are already in league with the Zuoqiu Clan, it will only be a matter of time before they find other excuses to get rid of us. What is the difference between handing our guest over or not handing him over?" Yun Teng retorted telepathically.
"At the very least, it would prevent the Zuoqiu Clan from having an excuse to take us on for the time being. We need time," Yun Chong said. They were also fighting to establish a connection with a force comparable to the Zuoqiu Clan's as soon as possible. Yun Chong's son was also extremely talented in cultivation, and so there was a chance for the Yun Clan as well.
It was extremely unwise to get on the Zuoqiu Clan's bad side at the moment.
Though Yun Teng understood what his brother's thoughts were, he insisted nonetheless and said, "No way."
He had already made that compromise once.
That compromise had left lasting psychological trauma on his daughter, Yun Ni.
"You can't understand the gravity of the situation, can you?" Yun Chong replied telepathically in a rather severe tone. He did not bother with Yun Teng further and turned to Ye Futian instead, saying, "Sir, this was between you and the Celestial Sword Li Clan to begin with, and Yun Teng has already done all he was able to. It is in our best interest not to get involved further. You are not one of the Yun Clan, and I hope you understand that."
Ye Futian appeared calm and without any hint of resentment. It was entirely sensible for Yun Chong to make such a choice. There was no need for him to take such risks for a stranger.
"He's not a member of the Yun Clan? Says who?" Yun Qianyue asked. "I've already taken Sir Ye as my teacher. The Celestial Sword Li Clan is an enemy of us of the Yun Clan. Are we really just going to hand someone over just because they tell us to? Furthermore, you're the eldest descendant of the clan, as well as a teacher and example for members of future generations of the clan. I'm afraid what you're doing now will only cause others to feel disgust."
Yun Chong frowned and looked at Yun Qianyue, finding her standing in a composed manner, her eyes determined.
There were many mighty ones in the Yun Clan, and he did not think there was a need for Yun Qianyue to take Ye Futian as her teacher. Furthermore, Ye Futian had not been around for long, and he saw that only as one of Yun Qianyue's excuses.
Ye Futian understood that he had not agreed to take Yun Qianyue as his student, but what Yun Qianyue had said made him feel warm inside nonetheless.
"Qianyue, don't go letting your emotions get the better of you now." Yun Chong told Yun Qianyue off in a low voice.
"I'm simply telling the truth," Yun Qianyue said.
"It's almost time to head to the imperial city." That mighty one from the Zuoqiu Clan, who had been silent all that while, finally spoke. He swept his narrowed eyes over the Yun Clan and continued, "Make up your mind already."
Li Ruoshuang looked over the ones from the Yun Clan as well. Yun Chong's expression suggested that he was feeling very pressured. That man from the Zuoqiu Clan had finally said something.
"Hold on," Yun Chong said. He looked at Yun Teng with a severe expression and said, "The clan's interests precede all. Hand the man over."
Yun Teng stared at him unflinchingly and said, "I've made a compromise for the sake of the clan once. I'm not about to do the same again. I was the one who brought him here. If he wants to take my guest away, then we fight."
Yun Chong looked very unwell hearing what Yun Teng had said. That mighty one from the Zuoqiu Clan, who was standing across them, said plainly, "Will do, then."
He then began walking away and left altogether, seemingly tired of the charade.
Li Ruoshuang did not say anything else, and she followed suit. She, however, shot a sarcastic look at those of the Yun Clan.
"You people want to send someone to train under Emperor Qi, huh?" the look seemed to say.
"Well, you can stop dreaming now."
The group left en masse and disappeared from sight soon after. Yun Chong looked glum. His plans might have been broken because of what had just happened.
People from all over the place were about to gather at the imperial city, and there was no one who did not want to train under Emperor Qi.
Everyone worked hard just to achieve that, and so did he. At that moment, everything might have just been ruined by Yun Teng.
"Good work there, Yun Teng," Yun Chong said coldly before stepping away and leaving.
Many mighty ones from the Yun Clan were there as well. They did not think that Yun Teng had been sensible with what he had done back there. The Zuoqiu Clan was an undeniable force in Emperor Qi's Territory, after all.
"Why would you need to put your clan through this for me?" Ye Futian asked Yun Teng.
"So long as we are not in direct conflict with the Zuoqiu Clan, they, as people who serve Emperor Qi, will have to take their influence into consideration as well. They couldn't simply fight people like other forces do, and Emperor Qi wouldn't bother himself with all of that," Yun Teng said. "But the Zuoqiu Clan is still a clan serving Emperor Qi, and if we do not have any other connections, it will be rather difficult for us at the Yun Clan to train under the emperor after getting on the Zuoqiu Clan's bad side."
"Could the Zuoqiu Clan have any influence over how Emperor Qi selects the candidates whom he will later teach?" Ye Futian asked.
"Emperor Qi selects such candidates every year. Anyone he has taken notice of will stand a great chance, but he leaves most other matters to his subordinates and doesn't bother interfering with any of those matters at all. All manner of fighting and conflict is treated as part of cultivation. Survival of the fittest, after all," Yun Teng said to Ye Futian.
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