Chapter 215: Friendship?
“Brother is something wrong?” Yuying asked as she arrived beside Zhang who was caught in deep thought while a scowl had appeared on his face.
“We’ve been played…” Zhang mumbled in a low tone to the people gathered around him.
“Played?” Everyone asked with confused looks on their faces.
“Although it is just speculation but I suspect that everything that had occurred and will occur was planned out by the Dragon God Palace.” Zhang said in a low tone.
“How could that possibly be? The Dragon God Palace has always taken a neutral stance and ensured the peace of the Eastern Chaotic Sea…” Uncle Lu who was standing beside Shan Li said in a tone of disbelief.
“Without the Dragon God Palace’s intervention dozens of sects and forces they now rule the sea would have perished long ago. How could they possibly be stirring conflict?” Shan Li said, prompting everyone but Zhang and the beauties to nod in agreement.
“Think about it. Xiao Gong, how long has it been since the forces of the Starry Sea Sect and Golden Pearl sect had attacked the Blood Coral Cove?” Zhang asked.
“Roughly a month and a half.” Xiao Gong replied.
“Almost two months and not a single member of the Dragon God Palace shows up. If they were truly the peacekeepers of the sea, then they would have shown up already. We’ve yet to hear a word from them either.” Zhang said.
“Our lord does have a point, normally when a conflict arises the Dragon God Palace will send out one of its emissaries who usually arrives in a timely manner.” Hai Xing said, supporting Zhang’s claim.
“Let’s say they did, in fact, plan the events that had occurred. What would they benefit from doing so? They are currently the strongest force in the Eastern Sea, unchallenged and have more than enough power to rule over everyone with an iron fist.” Shan Li stated.
“They would gain the Ascending Beauty Painting. Long Feng had told me that the Dragon God Palace had ordered all of its disciples to use every means at their disposal to gather all of the pieces of the Ascending Beauty Painting.” Zhang said.
“What a better way to do so then by spreading news of someone having a piece of the painting in their possession. It obvious those who have a piece of the painting and wish to obtain the other pieces would surely gather here. Once all the pieces of gathered and a bitter battle had been fought, as the strongest force in the sea, they would only need sweep away the survivors and claim the painting for themselves.” Ling said after piecing together what Zhang had said.
“If that’s their plot, then what can we do about it?” Nai Fan who had been standing silently asked.
“Simple, first deliver this jade slip to the people of the Golden Pearl Sect within the city. “Zhang said as he withdrew a jade slip from his interspatial ring, covered a message onto it with his essence and handed it over to Nai Fan, after coming up with a plan in his head.
“Second, we need to set up defensive measures.” Zhang said as he looked at Yuying who needed in response.
“Third we need we need to wait for the enemy to arrive. Brother Shan Li, if you could inform your Ancestral Sect Master of my suspicions then that would great.” Zhang said with a smile.
“I will do that right away. However, are you sure this plan of yours will work? Would the people of the Golden Pearl Sect listen to what we have to say?” Shan Li replied with a nod.
“Once they see what I’ve written on the jade slip they will listen.” Zhang replied with a smile.
With a plan in mind and directions given, Zhang and the other influential members of the coalition force quickly split up and began carrying out their assigned tasks. The injured needed to be healed, and a frenzy of other tasks needed to be completed in order for them to survive the incoming catastrophe.
“Should we use it?” Yuying whispered into Zhang’s ear as once everyone had dispersed.
“The Samsara Gate?” Zhang asked.
“We could either seek refuge in the underworld or ask father for aid. If it’s just a few full saints, then I’m sure the Underworld Army has more than enough to spare.” Yuying said in a low tone.
“We should save that for when there are no other means at our disposal. How could your father think if I couldn't even overcome a measly obstacle as this?” Zhang replied with a laugh as he patted Yuying’s shoulder.
Although asking for aid from the Underworld would surely alleviate their current situation, Zhang wouldn’t have the face to meet his father in law in the future. As a man it was his duty to protect his wives and asking for help from others in doing so would only damage Zhang’s pride. Of course with that being said, if he absolutely needed to, Zhang would surely ask for help because a bit of pride in exchange for his life and the lives of his four wives was more than worth it.
However, he did not believe their current situation was worth asking for help from his father in law, the Yama.
“Like any father, I’m sure he would want his daughter to be with someone who is capable and asking for help when some difficulty arises would only lower his image of me.” Zhang said to Yuying.
“If we aren’t going to ask father for help, then what's the plan? I’m sure there's more to it than sending a jade slip to the Golden Pearl Sect. In fact, what did you write on the jade slip?” Yuying said.
“I had explained the current situation to them. Although I’m kind of sure that old man should have already known about the Dragon God’s Palace plot, regardless of whether we informed him or it or not. If my guess is right, he only acted the way he did because he thought he couldn’t convince that all of us were played by them. But now that we’ve informed him that we know what they are up to, we can seek to cooperate with him in the future in order to shatter their plot.” Zhang replied to Yuying before having the beauties all huddle up around him and telling them about the rest of his plan.
Roughly a day had passed since the failed attack on Golden Shell City and since Zhang had pieced together the Dragon God Palace’s plot.
The skies were clear, there was a constant gentle breeze blowing about, the seas were calm and everything was enveloped in a moment of peace.
The corpses of those belonging to the coalition had been buried while the corpses of those belonging to the Golden Pearl Sect were piled in front of the city gates, forming a small mountain. Instead of a sign of disrespect, Zhang had ordered his men to do so as a show of good faith.
He was returning the bodies of the dead to their families for proper burial, a thing that not many conquerors practiced. More often than naught, the bodies of enemies would be left to bask under the smoldering sun, left to the elements and to the birds of prey that often gathered after a bloody battle.
Besides a mountain of corpses and blood red sand to serve as a reminder of what had occurred the previous day, one would expect to see massive sprawling camp that surrounded Golden Shell City on all sides, thousands of plumes of smoke snaking into the sky and countless banners to flutter in the air, however that was not the case.
The coalition force had disappeared without a trace. Since it was highly illogical to camp in front of Golden Shell City if they knew enemy reinforcements were on route, the coalition had decided to relocate themselves elsewhere.
Had stayed then they would only end up being sandwiched by enemies from two sides as enemies from within the city would storm out while enemy reinforcements would entrap them on the island.
So to ensure this did not occur, Zhang had suggested the coalition make their encampment on a small island not too far away from where Golden Shell City was located. The island itself was but roughly a tenth of the size of Golden Shell Island and was completely uninhabited, not even wild beasts dwelled on it.
“Brother Zhang, are you sure your madam’s array will be enough to repulse the enemy’s initial wave?” Shan Li asked as he observed Yuying and thousands of soldiers drawing runes onto the ground.
“Rest assured, Brother Shan Li, if my wife says this array can withstand attacks of a high saint for three hours then it will be able to do so.” Zhang said in a confident tone with a smile on his face.
It was in Yuying’s character to never boast, she was the kind of person who perfectly knew their limits and would say so if something was out of their ability to accomplish.
“If that is what you believe then I shall leave the defensive preparations to the young madam. Let’s just hope we will not have to make use of this array,” Shan Li said with a smile.
“While you're here, how about picking the topic of our next discussion.” Zhang said with a laugh.
Over time he had become quite friendly with Zhang and the beauties, often dining and conversing with them on a wide range of topics. Things from cultivation, the meaning to life, and many other things that often interested cultivators.
“I had concocted a few pills last night using that formula we had talked about last time.” Lingqi who had stood beside Zhang said as she held up a purplish colored pill in her hand. As things turned out, Shan Li was extremely well versed in regards to pill concoction and often shared his notes with Lingqi who was eager to learn from the holy son of a major sect. There was also the fact of befriending Shan Li and his sect in order to ensure their survival.
In the end, as long as they did not ask for help from the Underworld, Zhang and the beauties would still end up at the mercy of the High Saint who was the Ancestral Sect Master of the Starry Sea Sect, that is to say, they survive the ordeal that is to come.
“Already? The ingredients for that pill need to be left under the sun for seven days and then require to be left the pill cauldron for a total of five days. I had only told you about the formula about six days ago, how were you able to concoct the pill so quickly?” Shan Li said with an astonished expression and tone.
“Well after examining the formula I had found that a few of the ingredients could be swapped out and thus the time required to prepare and concoct the pill was halved. You can replace the hundred-year Frost Lotus Roots with Jade Poppy Stems and Jade Puffer Spines with a poison made of Sun Poppy Petals.” Lingqi said with a grin as she still held the pill in hand.
“That is simply amazing! I’ve never one heard anyone back at the sect being knowledgeable enough to swap out ingredients in a formula of this level and succeed. Just wait until the Ancestral Sect Master of my sect arrives, I’ll introduce you to a few of the elders in charge of the pill pavilion, I’m sure they’ll be able to appreciate what you had done.” Shan Li said as he looked at Lingqi was eyes belonging to someone brimming with worship.
“That would be wonderful.” Lingqi said with an excited tone.
“Indeed, perhaps we can find you a well-versed teacher or something.” Zhang said as he patted his wife on the back.
“What about me? There better be a lot of water magic for me to learn too.” Ling laughed as.” Ling laughed as she arrived beside Zhang with Ai.
“If it's water magic you're looking for then I'm sure there will be something in our scroll pavilion that will interest you, madam. I'll be sure to ask the elder in charge of the pavilion to guide you to where we keep the best scrolls” Shan Li replied with a grin.
Of all the four beauties, Shan Li had become highly acquainted with Ling and Lingqi thanks to their intrigue for knowledge. Whereas Ai often kept to herself or rather, not many people could keep her interest. While Yuying was regularly busy attending to various matters, so she had yet to get Shan Li to open up to her.
“Then I shall be in your care.” Ling replied with a nod.
“Now now, we shouldn’t pester Brother Shan Li for such things. Remember, no one likes someone who solely takes and does not give back,” Zhang said to Lingqi and Ling.
“No need to be so reserved Brother Zhang, after all, this time it’s safe to say that we are friends and there is no need to be modest when in the presence of a friend.” Shan Li laughed.
“If you say so.” Zhang said with a chuckle as he heard the words that he had been waiting to hear from Shan Li.
“How about you meet up again tonight for dinner after defensive measures have been set up,” Shan Li said to Zhang before bidding farewell and leaving to attend other matters.
“You think that he’s also playing us?” Lingqi asked as she spoke to Zhang through her divine sense, so no one else could listen in on their conversation.
“Only time will tell. However, for now, we should continue to strengthen our ties with him.” Zhang replied while making his way over to where Yuying was busily working to lend a helping hand.