“Fei’er, how did you get so many?”
The startled cry that escaped Wei Xuan’s mouth forcibly snapped Wei Chang Luo into reality, though he was still unable to find it within himself to say a single word. Walking over and picking up the book on the top of the stack, the youth casually flipped it open, only for his expression to dim and become gloom.
“<Calming Jade Sword>… this…”
“Little Luo, something wrong?”
The youth sighed, the bitter smile on his countenance prompting Wei Xuan to step forward in concern.
Under the young girl and the two maidservants’ amusement, the minister and the Second Young Master quickly tore apart the stack of books, depression seeping out from their body.
“Fei’er…” Wei Xuan finally called out, his voice hoarse and seemingly weary.
“Just what did you do to get this many manuals from the Three Lotus Sect?”
With burning eyes, the minister imprisoned the young girl’s arms to her sides, his gaze carefully inspecting her from head to toe.
Upon noticing that the jade ornament was intact and untouched and the girl before him only seemed mildly uncomfortable, Wei Xuan finally released An Fei’s arms, but still stared at her with an expectant expression on his face.
An Fei was unsure how to reply, her expression similarly confused hidden behind the veil. As Wei Xuan’s glare increasingly became piercing and solemn with each moment she stayed silent, the girl slowly twiddled her thumbs, the words refusing to escape her throat.
Was she supposed to tell him, ‘Father, a couple of elders were kindhearted and gave me a bunch of presents as a gift for being bullied’?
Who would believe that?
…not even she fully comprehended the reasoning behind the scholars’ actions at the Pagoda of Sun and Moon even after so long, so how was she to explain to another?
Noticing the girl’s flickering and furtive looks Wei Xuan repeated as he enunciated each syllable slowly and calmly. Before disappointment could enter his gaze, a maidservant quickly rushed before the Fourth Young Miss, dipping into a low bow.
“…have something to say?”
Wei Xuan uttered in a slow and lazy tone, causing the bowing Xiao Ying to instinctively shiver as painful thoughts tickled her mind. Nonetheless, the maidservant remained in her position, speaking in a deferential but steady tone.
“Master, please do not blame to Fourth Young Miss,” Xiao Ying stared at the ground as she recited word for word.
“This incident was perpetrated by the Sword Marquis estate. The members of the Sword Marquis no longer respect the Wei Manor’s personage, hence the Fourth Young Miss suffered quite a bit at the hands of their elder at the Pagoda of Sun and Moon. The books… were compensation from the elders of the Three Lotus Sect after witnessing the arrogance of the Sword Marquis’s family.”
Hearing the maidservant’s quick and cutting explanation, An Fei couldn’t help but feel the urge to applaud in admiration.
However, the girl managed to calm herself after noticing that Wei Xuan’s expression had returned to normal.
“…so why are you the one telling me this?” the minister suddenly spoke after standing in a daze for several moments.
His right hand raised to hover in the air in An Fei’s direction, Wei Xuan hesitated for a moment before lowering his hand to his side with an audible sigh.
“Forget it, it’s nothing, nothing at all. All of you, come! Let’s take a look at what Fei’er has brought in for us.”
“<Purple Jade Palm>.”
“<Golden Dragon Ascending the Heavens>, this is a joke, ah? What kind of technique is so self-absorbed in it’s name?”
If the crowd cluttering within the plaza earlier had stumbled onto the scene within the study of the Flowing Wind Residence, perhaps just the anger itself would be sufficient to throttle Wei Xuan and his descendants into an eternity’s worth of suffering.
The drawing table and other articles of furniture had been pushed to the side, allowing for a considerable clearing in the recesses of the study. To allow for additional secrecy, all of the curtains had been lowered even though the sun was still hanging in the air, the only source of light within the study constituting several oil lamps and candles.
Five figures sat in a circle in the makeshift clearing, without distinction of status or rank.
A stack of books stood at the center, its contents being passed from person to person without much order.
Two wooden containers of food lay nearby, though not a single person had bothered to touch the boxes. Hence, it was a near certainty that the food had long gone cold due to the inattention.
“<Purple Jade Palm>, this should go to Fei’er. A balanced martial arts technique, one can’t have too many of them.”
Wei Xuan passed over a thin book inlaid with a cover of purple satin to An Fei, before aimlessly picking up another from the pile and scanning its contents.
Watching the young girl take the book and play with the fabric on the cover, the Second Young Master of Wei couldn’t help but gulp, his eyes fixated on the book in An Fei’s hands.
“Father,” Wei Chang Luo hastily spoke, his hands roaming around the haphazard stack of books without much expectation.
“Why can’t you share some of the treasures with your son, ah? Everything Fourth Little Sister got is priceless, while I’m having to fiddle with these leftovers – <Golden Lotus of Establishment>, I definitely can’t use that, I’m not going to bother castrating myself for some increase in strength.”
“Pei!” Wei Xuan snorted in disdain, not bothering to give the quibbling youth another glance.
“These techniques given by the elders of the Three Lotus Sect, they were tailored towards a female cultivator. There would be nothing notable for you to use, so just go back and practice your <Twin Shrimps> martial arts technique and – hold on, what did you say? <Golden Lotus of Establishment>?”
“Yes, it says <Golden Lotus of Establishment> on the cover,” Wei Chang Luo retained the book he was about to throw back onto the pile.
“Thirteen levels of practice, and the description states… mastery of the Nascent Soul Realm of cultivation.”
“Give it here.”
With an awkward frown, the minister shamelessly extended his hand towards the youth while his eyes continued to observe An Fei struggle to read the <Purple Jade Palm> manual. Just as his hand automatically moved to give the gold-leaf book to Wei Xuan, Wei Chang Luo suddenly came back to his senses, withholding his arm to his chest in a flash.
“No way!” the youth stubbornly shook his head, clutching to book to his chest.
“Father, you keep on stealing the best things, you need to give your son a share!”
“What are you even saying?” the minister snorted, shaking his already extended palm in the Second Young Master’s face.
“Be good, give it to your father, ah! Unless you’re truly willing to castrate yourself to practice in that technique? If you did, then that would truly become a waste, but your father won’t complain.”
“Shut up! Who said I was going to practice in that technique!” the youth howled in anger, before a cunning gleam entered his eyes.
“But Father, I can give it to you on one occasion.”
“What?” Wei Xuan raised a sardonic eyebrow, his lips carving into a smile that could not be considered a smile.
“A treasure that exceeds the Core Formation Realm!”
“F*ck, trying to scam your father at this time and age!” the minister angrily remarked, smacking a heavy palm on the youth’s head.
“Forget bargaining with you little brat, this minister shall take what he wants by force!”
“Alright, alright, alright,” Wei Chang Luo hastily extended the gold-leaf book with both hands, a pleading expression visible on his handsome countenance.
“Then a treasure belonging to the Spirit Building Realm. I won’t be too greedy.”
…the transaction completed without a hitch, and Wei Xuan now held a thick tome bound with threads of gold-leaf in his hands.
Inspecting the contents of the book with great concentration, the minister’s brows were knotted into a deep frown until he finally released a sigh.
“It truly is a great enjoyment to possess the original manuals regarding cultivation and martial arts techniques,” Wei Xuan gently deposited the book onto An Fei’s lap.
When the girl looked up in confusion, he reached out to pat her head, explaining in a simple tone.
“The <Golden Lotus of Establishment> is a cultivation technique that prioritizes efficiency over one’s spiritual essence when utilizing martial arts – only, the sequence of meridians that comprise this technique are attuned towards females, though male cultivators can practice this technique if they pay a rather grievous price.”
Startled by Wei Xuan’s sudden explanation, An Fei zoned out for a brief moment before shaking her head rapidly. She had been reading the manual for the <Purple Jade Palm> for the past few minutes, hence had only caught the words ‘castration’ and ‘<Golden Lotus of Establishment>’.
So… what was going on?
After a round of hastily explaining to the girl with cold sweat trickling down their backs, the maidservants finally pacified An Fei’s curiosity, the girl returning to her aimless task of reading the <Purple Jade Palm> technique.
The distribution of manuals finished without a further problem, though it was considerably obvious who had gotten the lion’s share.
…but what did castration have to do anything with her…?