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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 98

    Wei Xi noticed the car moving and turned back to call out, "Brotherhood!"

    His eldest disciple hadn't gotten in yet.

    Shuo Zong silently rolled up the window beside him, blocking his view. He calmly said, "The car is full. They'll take a taxi and catch up."

    Upon hearing this, the driver in front couldn't resist casting a glance through the rearview mirror, very much wanting to say that there was still space in the passenger seat.

    But Shuo Zong ignored this, looking at his phone after speaking. There were countless messages from Xia Shouren, and he could easily guess they were all filled with insults. Unlocking it, he scrolled through them without seeing any indication of a transfer. He silenced the phone and tossed it aside.

    Hearing that his eldest disciple would take a taxi, Wei Xi no longer worried. Glancing over, he saw Shuo Zong propping his forehead on one arm and quietly watching him with his head tilted.

    Their eyes met, and Wei Xi was slightly startled. He felt that the other's silent demeanor was eerily familiar, similar to how his second disciple would appear when he didn't speak. "Why are you...?"

    As soon as he started to speak, the driver's voice came from the front. "So, Mr. Shuo Zong, where are we heading now?"

    Fixing his gaze on Wei Xi, Shuo Zong asked, "What were you going to say just now?"

    Wei Xi let out an "ah," furrowing his brows in thought. "I can't recall."

    Shuo Zong nearly choked with anger. His face darkened as he instructed the driver, "To the company. And don't speak anymore."

    The driver had been somewhat curious about the stranger who had entered the car alongside them. But noticing the boss's foul mood, he promptly fell silent, wondering inwardly why the boss had been fine just moments ago but was now suddenly angry.

    A deathly silence filled the car. Wei Xi found it a bit dull and pulled out his phone to send his second disciple a WeChat message: "I've returned to Jing City."

    The phone that Shuo Zong had thrown near him lit up immediately after. Wei Xi glanced at it instinctively, noticing the WeChat notification. He noticed that Shuo Zong had seen it too, but didn't react.

    Wei Xi, still waiting for his disciple's reply, was fiddling with the phone's lock screen when he prompted, "Someone sent you a message."

    Shuo Zong looked at him, seemingly hesitating for a moment, but finally asked, "Who sent it?"

    In response to his hesitation, Wei Xi frowned and swiped the phone toward him. "How would I know? Can't you check it yourself?"

    He had never been a curious person, showing no interest in the privacy of those unrelated to him.

    Shuo Zong: "......"

    Wei Xi noticed that Shuo Zong's breathing had become heavier, as if he had suffered a tremendous blow. Unfortunately, Wei Xi couldn't care less.

    *****

    Wei Xi initially assumed that the company Shuo Zong was referring to was their own sect. However, after the car stopped, he realized that the "company" had nothing to do with him. In the bustling central business district during rush hour, amidst towering office buildings, Wei Xi glanced at the unfamiliar and grand company name outside the window and said reluctantly, "Que'er hasn't replied to my messages. He might have arrived in the capital too. I need to go back."

    Shuo Zong, who was about to step out of the car, shot him an annoyed glance. "Don't worry, your disciple isn't at home. He might not have replied because you've angered him to death."

    Wei Xi: "?"

    After getting out of the car, Shuo Zong took a deep breath and reached in to pull Wei Xi out. "Come on, help me register the information for the Azure Dragon."

    He seemed a bit angry, but his grip wasn't forceful. When Wei Xi stumbled after getting out, he received support from behind, feeling the robust yang energy from Shuo Zong's body overwhelm him through their close proximity. Following that came a scorching heat pressing against his back.

    Shuo Zong's jawline was taut, his Adam's apple forming a sharp angle as he gazed down at Wei Xi with unwavering eyes. The slight flutter of his lashes cast a shadow beneath them.

    Wei Xi felt a momentary daze, sensing a familiar scene from his fragmented memories, though he couldn't recall the context.

    The car door slammed shut, followed by Xia Shouren's frustrated curses, "Bastard, return all the money I've given you in the past!"

    The gaze that had been locked with his shifted away calmly. Wei Xi heard the person in front of him address the approaching Xia Shouren nonchalantly, "I think you're looking for death."

    Recalling his friend's sensitivities, Xia Shouren cowered. After sulking on the spot for a while, his gaze flickered between Wei Xi and his companion. After a long moment, he could only grumble, "Chōmei, you pay for the cab!"

    Chōmei: "...Why? Aren't you the boss?"

    Tears welled up in Xia Shouren's eyes, "I've depleted all my savings to fund this trip to the Seaside City."

    He felt that he was probably the worst boss in the entire company, and also the worst divine beast in the world, without exception.

    Chōmei let out a long sigh and handed over the money. He hesitated to speak, but finally couldn't resist asking, "Actually, I've always been curious. Why is there such a vast difference in strength between Mr. Xia and Mr. Shuo Zong, both being ancient auspicious beasts born in the Primordial Age?"

    Xia Shouren's hair almost stood on end at the question, "What difference? There's no difference in our strength, alright? If not for the materialistic and pragmatic nature of modern society, would we be in this situation today? People nowadays are obsessed with money. Every boss has a statue of him in their home. Some even pour the first cup of tea in his honor. Tell me, who worships me? Don't talk about me, look at yourself. You're a divine bird, yet who among those ancient, ostentatious creatures in our company gets more offerings than he does?"

    Hearing this, Chōmei's suspicions vanished. He was even moved to tears, "What you said makes so much sense! In this new era of socialism, no one can compete with Mr. Shuo Zong!"

    *****

    In the vast office building, employees leaving work crowded the corridors, all greeting Shuo Zong and Wei Xi warmly as they entered. Unity Righteousness felt a pang of envy. "Sifu, when will our Taicang Sect reach such heights? To have a massive skyscraper in the heart of the city would truly mean we've made it."

    Wei Xi shared this sentiment. Since leaving the mountain, he had always been fascinated by these towering structures, but alas, the property prices in Beijing were too high for his means, leaving his longing unfulfilled.

    He often heard Wei Dedao boast about Taicang Sect's past fame in the cultivation world, its prosperity, and countless disciples. Wei Dedao frequently mentioned the two immortal mountains under his jurisdiction. According to his boasts, these mountains had twelve peaks, each one treacherous and unprecedented in scale, evoking admiration and awe from other sects.

    Regardless of the truth behind these historical claims, Wei Xi had once been genuinely impressed, imagining it as an immense fortune.

    Now, having seen more of the world, he realized that Wei Dedao was simply a country bumpkin with limited knowledge. For a so-called renowned major sect, to think that owning two mountains was a grand achievement, and that the entire cultivation world would be envious and respectful – how could immortal mountains compare to a skyscraper in Beijing? He later researched the land prices in nearby mountainous areas. Due to their remote locations, the prices of residential properties there were merely a fraction, around one-tenth, of those in Beijing. The cost of leasing forested land was even lower; farmers might pay at most fifty to sixty thousand yuan per year to lease a mountain for fruit orchards. Two immortal mountains with twelve peaks would likely come with long-term leases, and local governments might offer discounts. At most, it wouldn't exceed one million yuan per year.

    Yet to rent such a massive office building in the heart of Jing City for a million was nothing but a pipe dream.

    Therefore, the more Wei Xi understood the market economy, the more sympathy he had for Wei Dedao. He felt that Wei Dedao was pitiful, with such a narrow perspective that he couldn't even exaggerate properly.

    If it were him bragging, he would surely claim that Taicang Sect possessed more than two floors of office space within the second ring road of Jing City. Wouldn't that be far more convincing than any bullshit Immortal Mountains?

    Wei Xi shook his head, feeling an increasingly heavy burden on his shoulders. His eldest disciple was right; when could they finally let the disciples of Taicang Sect practice in office buildings?

    Xia Shouren instinctively felt a chill and rubbed his arms as he said to Chōmei, "I sense some ominous forebodings."

    His prophetic gift was innate, and Chōmei was well aware of it. The bird's expression turned grave instantly. "Is there a specific omen? Are there signs of another calamity looming?"

    Xia Shouren pondered for a long while but could only divine that a tremendous transformation was about to unfold in the realm of cultivation.

    But hadn't the cultivation world already vanished?

    Perplexed, he could only shake his head with a grimace after much contemplation. "Forget it. Ever since the collapse of Heavenly Dao, my powers have waned significantly. I must have miscalculated this time."

    ******

    Most of the company had emptied out, yet unexpectedly, the top floor still bustled with people. Despite it being quitting time, they appeared to be engrossed in their tasks, moving purposefully through the office area with grave expressions on their faces.

    Wei Xi faintly heard their voices in the distance.

    "From where did this new email come? What's this about? The Water Resources Bureau? The water level in Wu Shan Reservoir is surging? Endangering the downstream villages? It hasn't been raining there lately, what's going on?"

    "Local residents have reported sightings of peculiar monkeys near the reservoir, and here, as you can see, is a photograph of one."

    "Damn, Long You, that shot was quite clear. This damn creature isn't extinct yet, where did another one pop out from? It sure knows how to cause trouble."

    "Ai, who's free to take a trip to Wu Shan Lake Reservoir in Li Yun City? Business travel expenses will cover a five-star hotel."

    Wei Xi replied, "Qiang You?"

    Shuo Zong stepped out of the elevator behind him, his tone indifferent. "A water monster in the shape of a monkey. Its appearance foretells floods."

    The employees on this top floor were different from those who had just left; they didn't show any nervousness or fear when they saw Shuo Zong following Wei Xi out of the elevator. They simply greeted them casually, "Mr. Shuo Zong, Old Xia, Chōmei, you're back from Ruhai City? How did that Azure Dragon situation turn out? Can it come to work? With all the incidents happening near year-end – earthquakes and floods – we're swamped."

    Xia Shouren shook his head. "It's just become a dragon, hasn't taken a form yet."

    The red-haired man who spoke sighed in disappointment. "Dragons sure are useless."

    His hair was even more vibrant than Chōmei's, with hints of gold mixed in the fiery red. From afar, he looked like a blazing flame.

    Xia Shouren agreed and asked, "Bi Fang, what's the rush?"

    Bi Fang made an "oh" sound, pressed the button for the elevator to go down, then stepped inside and placed his palm over a black area below the buttons, which seemed to be a communication device. "Earth's drying up, and Old Qing caught a bunch of Fei Yi on a business trip. They're locked up downstairs. I'm going to have a look."

    That area flickered slightly with a soft light, followed by a beep. At the bottom of the floor buttons, a metal panel slowly slid down.

    Originally, beneath the lowest sub-level four, there were unexpectedly over a dozen additional options.

    After Bi Fang left, Xia Shouren wore an expression of surprise. "It was actually because of Fei Yi? I haven't seen that creature in centuries."

    Wei Xi asked, "Fei Yi?"

    Xia Shouren looked at him, feeling victorious. "You don't know about it? How unworldly can you be? It's a snake with two heads that can cause severe droughts."

    Wei Xi seemed to be deep in thought. "Is it a protected animal?"

    Xia Shouren replied, "…No."

    But it was far rarer than any protected animal.

    Wei Xi then asked, "Can it be eaten?"

    Xia Shouren was speechless.

    Would anyone even consider eating such a thing...?

    Shuo Zong placed the information on the desk and glanced back at him, but said coolly, "Of course."

    Xia Shouren: "???"

    Shuo Zong: "And it should taste rather good."

    Xia Shouren: "..."

    Shuo Zong: "Do you want some?"

    Wei Xi approached him without any caution, "Yes, please."

    "Xia Shouren," Shuo Zong called out, "go down to the minus twenty floor and ask Bi Fang to select a Fei Yi to send to my residence."

    Xia Shouren: "???"

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