With Wei Xuan not present within the study of the Flowing Wind Residence, the young girl heaved a long sigh, before arising from the bed.
Roaming throughout the study, An Fei soon discovered a tidy book placed on the drawing table, with a note atop of a stack of neatly trimmed stationary.
“Fei’er, Father may not return for several days at the least,” the girl read, her fingers splayed on the drawing table.
“Chang Feng… will take care of you whilst I’m gone… make sure not to sleep so much…”
Looking at the thin book and the sheets of paper, An Fei turned around in a full circle, perplexed at the silence within the study.
The two maidservants Xiao Wen and Xiao Ying were generally present, their chatter creating a joyous atmosphere, but the study was completely silent.
Other than her breathing and the rustle of paper on wood, there wasn’t another sound.
“Where did they go?”
The girl questioned, before sitting at the half-moon chair before the drawing table. Shaking her head with a quick exhale of breath, An Fei opened the book to the first page, before reaching to grind the ink…
The book underneath the note, was that supposed to be calligraphy practice?
Jiang’an had been awoken from its slumbering, peaceful days.
The streets bustled with the same number of people, yet the conversations engaged were drastically different, and trading had mostly ceased to provide more venues of discussion.
Each person on the street, be them poor or privileged, scholar or merchant, soldier or cultivator, official or commoner, all were fervently debating the scraps of information obtained from an eunuch regarding the Imperial Court of Great Yong.
After nearly five months of inactivity, the Emperor of Great Yong had finally issued for the Imperial Court to open.
The three hundred officials streamed into the grand building with sighs of relief, only to be hit by a major bombshell the instant the last stepped into his proper position.
Taiyi Sect had dispatched a messenger to each of the three empires, and all with the same command.
“All females diagnosed with cold deficiency or a major Yin physique are to be permitted a special opportunity to cultivate at the Taiyi Sect.”
The tiny portion of information that had escaped the iron clutches of the Imperial Court had rocked the streets of Jiang’an with unquestionable ferocity.
Regardless whether one stepped onto the Peace Street, Green Lifetime Street, or Golden Harvest Street, all were engaged in the same discussion.
Such was the case in the Street of Peace, located at an inconspicuous restaurant at the backends of the street.
“Say, old man,” a businessman in his thirties questioned an old man dressed in scholarly robes.
“Why is the Taiyi Sect issuing such a command? All females diagnosed with cold deficiency or possessing a major Yin physique is permitted a special opportunity to cultivate? Did they unearth an ancient Yin cultivation technique, and they require volunteers?”
“What do you see in this command of the Taiyi Sect?” the elder replied with a question of his own, his white eyebrows raised.
“This… are the Three Great Sects establishing a new scheme of competitions?” a young man interrupted from the side, placing down his bowl of intestine noodles.
“Junior don’t know if the two elders have heard of the news, but the Violet Jade Pavilion and Heavenly Sword Sect similarly issued a command, but only Taiyi Sect mentioned anything regarding cold deficiency…”
“The Three Great Sects of the continent actually passed down such a decree?” the businessman exclaimed in shock, before his eyes gleamed with greed.
“Then they must have obtained a specific reward that could only be wielded by a certain group of people! Otherwise, the three sects wouldn’t… wait a moment…”
“Now do you see the interesting point of this mysterious command?” the old man smiled, wagging his index finger towards the businessman who had cold sweat dropping from his brow.
“The Taiyi Sect released a command offering all females with a major Yin constitution to enroll for a special opportunity, that would entail that they have a special reward or technique to pass on. But why cold deficiency? The symptoms of cold deficiency hinder the majority of cultivation techniques that lean towards either Yin or Yang, and the Taiyi sect calling for both groups of people is simply odd and incomprehensible.”
“Those with cold deficiency are afflicted with the same symptoms regardless of male or female,” the youth furrowed his brow, before waving for the boss of the restaurant for another serving of noodles.
After depositing a tael of silver into the man’s hand, the youth bowed towards the businessman and elderly scholar.
“This junior requests the knowledge of the two elders. Though this junior possesses some knowledge regarding cold deficiency, he lacks knowledge regarding major Yin constitutions. Is it possible for someone to possess both at the same time? Is that what the Taiyi Sect is searching for?”
“Clever,” the elderly scholar smiled, gesturing for the youth to eat with a relaxed manner.
“Though we can’t know for sure, the command of the Taiyi Sect is rather difficult to decipher, even more than usual. The only thing we can be ensured of is that the Three Great Sects are searching for youngsters with great potential for cultivation.”
“However, since they additionally mentioned those afflicted with cold deficiency, it is best to proceed with caution,” the elder affixed a stern glare towards the businessman and youth.
“Do not become blinded by promises of immediate or grandiose benefits, for they come at a great cost.”
“We thank elder for his wisdom!”
The businessman and youth chorused, extending a bow of gratitude towards the elderly man. The old scholar waved his hands with a warm smile, gesturing for the three of them to begin eating.
As the discussion of the businessman, elderly retired scholar, and budding youth paused at the inconspicuous restaurant within the Street of Peace, the debates in Jiang’an were just starting.
“Your Imperial Majesty, why are we debating about this?” an official stepped forward, dipping his head into a respectful bow before the throne of gold.
“The Taiyi Sect’s request is clearly unusual and unwarranted, shouldn’t we request of more information before enacting their demands?”
“Fellow Lu is correct,” a senior official joined the active debate to support the former official, his voice powerful and securing the attention of all within the Imperial Court.
“Great Yong has stood steadily without any disruptions to its foundations due to the Imperial Court reviewing each and every foreign demand carefully, fleshing out the necessary details for any possible – though this official hopes unlikely – damaging consequences that could cripple the empire in any fashion imaginable. To implement the demands of the Taiyi Sect without question, though it is one of the Three Great Sects of the continent, is ill advised.”
“Oh?” the emperor raised an eyebrow in interest. Leaning his elbow on his thigh, Lu Jing Yi gazed calmly at the senior official, his eyes flashing with an unfathomable gleam.
“Then Official Zhu must have a solution in mind by issuing a powerful argument as that.”
“This official does dare proclaim such honor, Your Imperial Majesty,” the old man wryly smiled.
Bowing once to the emperor and turning around to face the two-hundred and ninety-eight officials and one foreign guest, the senior official spoke with a powerful voice unwilling to concede.
“This official proposes that the empire establish a voluntary selection for the public. All of the information regarding the ‘special opportunity’ provided by the Taiyi Sect is to be revealed to public criticism, that any participants in this selection are fully cognizant of the involved risks. In this format, the government can evade certain debilitating responsibilities, and the Taiyi Sect’s demands could be fulfilled peacefully.”
“Fellow Zhu, you’re looking at this matter too lightly, ah,” an elderly official called from the side.
Stepping forward to pay respects to the emperor, the elderly man faced Senior Official Zhu with a stern gaze, sweeping his arms to his sides with vigor.
“This matter appears simple at first glance, but possesses a hidden, underlying motive. What if the Taiyi Sect’s ‘special opportunity’ results in the death of many citizens of our Great Yong? How is the empire supposed to respond then if any harm is carried out to the public? Such responsibilities will never be avoided regardless of the candid approaches we adopt in circumstances as this.”
“Hold. Is the official from Great Yong doubting my Taiyi Sect’s intentions?” a young man coldly remarked from the corner of the Imperial Court, a glacial aura expanding from his body.
“N-no, this official does not dare,” the elderly man quickly refuted, drawing in Senior Official Zhu to stand besides him.
“This official is merely concerned about the people of Great Yong, and is only attempting to allay any probable harm. The messenger of the Taiyi Sect is assuming far too much from this old sack of bones, and is attempting to reverse black and white!”
Lu Jing Yi called from the throne, causing the Imperial Court to quieten within mere moments. Gazing at the silent sea of officials clutching their memorials for dear life, the emperor furrowed his brow.
“What is Taiyi Sect trying to pull now?” he murmured under his breath, before raising his voice to call out, the indecisiveness in his voice no longer present.
“This emperor allows the messenger from the Taiyi Sect to explain his cause.”