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    Chapter 118: All His Assets

    Due to the sudden earthquake, Ning Tian's company issued a notice to all employees, declaring a one-day holiday without any deduction in pay.

    The employees of Ning Tian were flabbergasted. For a moment, they forgot their initial panic and took to the internet to brag, causing many online workers to shed tears of envy—

    "Oh my god, what a divine company."

    "My god, the boss actually gave us a day off!"

    "Ning Tian is too conscientious! No wonder it's one of the top companies in the country. Why didn't I try harder to get in back then?!"

    "Envious here. Let me tell you a sad story. When the earthquake happened, I was on a bus that got into an accident. I called my team leader to ask for a day off, but he told me that the seismology bureau said it was just a small earthquake that wouldn't affect building safety, so we should all go to work as usual and not make a big fuss. He only gave me a half-hour grace period for being late. Damn, I'm currently racing towards the company on a shared bike right now!"

    "…Condolences to the person above. Look here, I'm a high school sophomore who just survived an earthquake, only to be taken back to class by my teacher, still shaken. As I look at the new exam papers on my desk, teardrops glisten on my young face."

    "You people in the capital finally understand our coastal pain... As a citizen of Sea Entry City, we had inexplicable heavy rains and out-of-season typhoons recently. The weather was terrifying... even trees that two people couldn't hug together were uprooted. At the time, everyone whispered about dragons appearing, scared to step outside. But in the end, hahaha, with one call from the boss, we still had to brave the rain and rubble to go to work."

    "Did you see the foreign wizard's prediction of the apocalypse? I used that as an excuse to ask my boss for a day off, and he kindly told me not to be afraid, that he would settle my wages before the end came, and if it did happen, I wouldn't lose my bonus. But he said there was no chance of taking leave beforehand to slack off [smile]."

    "So what if the world really is ending? What do we do?"

    "Don't worry, people upstairs. We office drones don't have the luxury of fear. There's no chance of a holiday. Just go to work and then rush out to buy salt after."

    "Piercing my heart, buddy! The salt I hoarded twelve years ago hasn't even run out yet!"

    In every corner of the capital city, countless ordinary people, urged on by their bosses or teachers, reluctantly returned to their daily routines with sorrow. In contrast, Ning Tian's employees enjoyed their vacation even more, blissfully unaware that a horde of special individuals had quietly infiltrated their now-deserted office building.

    At the top floor of Ning Tian's headquarters, in a special conference room, a large screen displayed a remote video meeting in progress:

    "This earthquake was utterly unexpected. There were no signs before it struck. Although the capital is located in an earthquake zone, it hasn't experienced any significant tremors for centuries. This situation is quite peculiar."

    "Besides the capital, other provinces have also experienced various extreme disasters, albeit on a smaller scale and less severe than here. They're not as noticeable as earthquakes and haven't sparked mass panic locally."

    "At the same time as this morning's earthquake, several countries, including X and Y, felt minor seismic activity in their capitals. To avoid any connections being drawn, we've decided to temporarily withhold this information from the public."

    The faces on the video screen all wore grim expressions. In the office, Ning Tian's mystical beasts were similarly silent. Xia Shouren, upon hearing this, said in a daze, "Capital cities? Every dynasty's royal capital has been the center of its country's vitality. Why would it shake there specifically?"

    One department head ventured a question: "Could it be similar to what happened with the Azure Dragon, something appearing in the world that triggered it?"

    In front of them, Shuo Zong sat expressionlessly in his chair, absently playing with a purple-gold pendant. "There aren't many things that can cause earthquakes. Has there been any news online about it?"

    The leader sighed. "None."

    It was quite comical. While they were working hard to maintain social stability and prevent the public from knowing about these things, most of the time, they relied on ordinary citizens' keen eyes to discover where incidents needed attention.

    After all, accidents happened around the world every moment, and no one could instantly discern whether they were caused by natural forces or influenced by abnormal phenomena. In this regard, information circulating among the people became a very direct piece of evidence. With advanced technology and a large population, even remote forests could receive internet signals. Ordinary people, upon seeing phenomena beyond their comprehension, no longer simply screamed and fled as they used to. They took photos, shared them on social media platforms, and as a result, many creatures that would have caused disastrous natural disasters in the past were caught by Ning Tian before they could even cause trouble.

    Like the Azure Dragon currently being kept at the Jingcheng Forest Zoo. Before its dragon form was captured on camera, local governments had treated the flooding as a normal severe weather event. And then there was the Fei Yi that was caught recently. It hadn't appeared for over a thousand years. If not for someone on the internet claiming to have encountered an abnormally deformed giant python while climbing Mount Wu, even Ning Tian's guardians would have found it difficult to recall its long-forgotten name from the depths of their memories. These ancient creatures, disconnected from modern times, probably never imagined that a few casual clicks on the internet during human leisure time would lead to their imprisonment.

    But this earthquake didn't show any signs beforehand. In the crowded capital city, the chance of an exotic beast appearing without being photographed was probably slimmer than an ordinary person winning the lottery hundreds of times in a row.

    Shuo Zong's fingers tapped on a tablet on the table, pulling up a set of data. It was a statistical chart showing the number of exotic beasts caught by Ning Tian's sacred beasts over the past five years. The image was projected onto the conference room screen, displaying a steady, small-scale increase in the number of captures from five years ago to last year. However, from last year to this year, the statistic line suddenly skyrocketed at a near-vertical angle to an unprecedented high.

    Shuo Zong looked at the curve and said slowly, "What do you think is causing this?"

    The human leader wore a bewildered expression.

    Bifang, also present, saw such direct data for the first time and murmured in astonishment, "No wonder... the company has suddenly become so much busier this year. It feels like there's more spiritual energy than in previous years, too. That's strange."

    He shifted his gaze to the side, to the end of the conference table where a massive glass aquarium stood. The yet-to-transform Azure Dragon had also been brought over. Its head was above the water, and its front claws were resting on the tank wall as it looked at the screen in confusion.

    The illiterate dragon stared for a while but didn't understand anything. When it met Bi Fang's gaze, it became annoyed. "What are you looking at me for! Haven't you seen an illiterate protected animal before?!"

    Bi Fang stammered a question to it. "You also transformed this year, right?"

    Azure Dragon: "Huh?"

    Bi Fang: "You've cultivated for thousands of years. Why didn't you transform early or late, but chose this year specifically?"

    Azure Dragon seemed to have never thought about this question. Its eyes widened in confusion as it pondered deeply. "I... I don't know either. I've always been in the water. Later, I felt that the spiritual energy was decreasing, so my cultivation progress was slow. I just took a nap, and then recently, I suddenly sensed a huge surge of spiritual energy. After absorbing it, I realized that I was ready to transform into a dragon."

    Human leader: "Spiritual energy?"

    Bi Fang explained, "Spiritual energy is essential for all creatures' cultivation. Unfortunately, it dissipated entirely over a hundred years ago. Otherwise, the world wouldn't have entered the era of declining magic, and we wouldn't have struggled to find any genuine cultivators for so long."

    The human leader became excited upon hearing this. "If that's the case, does the reappearance of spiritual energy after a hundred years mean that the era of declining magic has ended, and humans can evolve once more?"

    What did cultivation represent? A stronger body, a longer lifespan, and breakthroughs in unknown realms. For humans who could only stay in the world for a mere hundred years, its allure was self-evident.

    After the leader's excitement subsided, he surprisingly noticed that none of Ning Tian's spirit beasts in the conference room were showing any signs of joy.

    He was taken aback. "Isn't it what I just said?"

    Shuo Zong, sitting in the chief seat, lifted the corner of his mouth faintly. "It could be, but you might not be aware of another possibility."

    The leader, still in a daze, asked, "What other possibility?"

    Shuo Zong's gaze shifted to the pendant in his hand, his fingertip slowly tracing the purple-gold gemstone—

    "The inability to control even this last bit of spiritual energy means that Heavenly Dao... can no longer sustain itself."

    *************

    Shuo Zong stood by the window, watching a viral video on his phone. The video captured the aftermath of a stampede during an earthquake evacuation, with chaos and devastation all around. The background was filled with wails and sobs. Someone shouted, "Help! They're bleeding so much! Where's the ambulance? Why isn't it here yet!"

    An anxious reply came from nearby, "They said there was a series of car accidents outside, blocking the overpass. The medical staff had to get out and carry stretchers towards us. It'll take them a while!"

    The delay in rescue due to traffic issues left everyone helpless. The people in the video couldn't help but show expressions of despair upon hearing the answer. However, at that moment, a sudden scream erupted on the scene. The video shook, then revealed the cause: two individuals had suddenly appeared, checked the injured, and then carried them away.

    Shuo Zong paused the video and tapped on Wei Xi's handsome and solemn face on the screen. He was running swiftly, carrying an injured person who was much larger than him, his coat soaked with blood. Yet, he didn't have any intention of abandoning the victim. He carried the person all the way to the medical team that came to assist before finally letting go and turning back to help others.

    The blogger who posted the video was clearly smitten, as the entire caption was filled with exclamation marks:

    "Overworked Office Worker: AAAAAAAH this guy is so incredibly cool!!! Later, when there weren't enough ambulances, he actually carried the person all the way to the hospital!!! The hospital! Can you believe it?! Such a long distance!!! He ran without even panting, only a few beads of sweat on his forehead, rescuing more than ten people in such calmness!!! This boyfriend material is making me swoon!!!"

    Those who retweeted the post expressed their amazement:

    "Heavens, what god-like stamina!"

    "My knees are weak, my knees are weak. Not only is he handsome, but he's also physically strong! He appeared like he stepped out of a rainbow! Mom, I think I'm in love!"

    "Look at his coat! It's a bit oversized, but obviously from brand XX, super expensive! This guy is loaded!"

    "Ahh, did anyone else notice that he saved more than ten people from start to finish? He's too kind!"

    "I unilaterally declare my marriage to this guy. Give me all his information within ten seconds!"

    Shuo Zong's brows raised slightly as he replied to the comment with "Daydreaming."

    That netizen with the string of question marks.

    Shuo Zong harrumphed coldly. Turning his head, he saw Xia Shouren walking over and giving him a bitter smile. "Old beast, why do you still have the mood to play with your phone here?"

    Shuo Zong didn't respond, and Xia Shouren didn't take it to heart. He walked over to stand beside Shuo Zong and look out the window together. The sun was shining brightly in the capital city, and the brief earthquake hadn't disrupted the lives of its residents. Ning Tian's commercial district downstairs was just as bustling and busy as every other day.

    Xia Shouren watched the figures laughing and chatting on the streets and gave a bitter laugh. "Sometimes, it's truly blissful not to know anything. Don't you think so?"

    Shuo Zong replied calmly, "Perhaps."

    Xia Shouren fell silent for a moment before suddenly reaching into his pocket to retrieve a pack of cigarettes. His fingers trembled slightly as he lit one and put it between his lips. "After the Heavenly Dao collapsed a hundred years ago, only this much is left. With no new Heavenly Dao appearing for so long, what should we do if this one really can't hold up anymore?"

    Shuo Zong: "What else can we do but fix it?"

    Xia Shouren: "You say that easily. What were the consequences of the last collapse? Stars fell, the Upper Heavenly Realm was destroyed, and the dragon clan was wiped out. If we go to fix it this time, what if we don't come back, regardless of whether or not we can repair it?"

    Shuo Zong's expression remained unchanged as his gaze drifted off to a spot outside the window, likely in the direction of the Wei family.

    Xia Shouren took a deep drag of his cigarette before suddenly cursing, "Damn it!"

    "I have only a handful of believers, working myself to the bone, and now even the Heavenly Dao is making my life miserable..."

    He rambled on incoherently, probably not even aware of what he was saying. Shuo Zong paid no attention and allowed him to vent. Xia Shouren eventually slumped to the ground, his curses silenced.

    Shuo Zong: "Put out that cigarette."

    Xia Shouren chuckled bitterly, extinguishing the cigarette under his foot. He rubbed his face and sighed. "No pay raise is fine, but not even allowing me to smoke? You truly are something else."

    Shuo Zong seemed to ponder for a moment. "Go ahead and smoke."

    Xia Shouren: "...."

    Shuo Zong: "A pay raise is out of the question."

    Xia Shouren: "...."

    Xia Shouren rolled his eyes, his melancholy mood vanished. He retorted maliciously, "The Heavenly Dao is almost gone, what's the point of hoarding all that money?! Are you planning to take it to your grave?!"

    After a moment's thought, he consoled himself, "Well, I suppose you're slightly more generous than before. At least you know to give out red envelopes. For the sake of those red envelopes, I'll forgive you."

    Ning Tian's lucky beasts, who had also snatched the red envelope, seemed as dreamlike and surreal as he did. Xia Shouren even screenshotted the red packet interface to set it as his phone wallpaper, hoping for some financial luck. The group planned to gather at Haidilao that very evening to celebrate. Thinking of this, Xia Shouren felt a surge of joy: "Ah, how many people can actually snatch money from you? Even the Heavenly Emperor can't do that. Suddenly, I feel like this trip was worth it even if I don't come back. You must have put at least a hundred in that big red envelope, right? So our friendship means a lot to you!"

    Shuo Zong: "..."

    Shuo Zong: "Xia Shouren, go help me with something."

    Xia Shouren: "Anything you need, just say it."

    Shuo Zong: "Prepare a document for me."

    Xia Shouren: "What kind of content?"

    Shuo Zong: "Share transfer."

    Xia Shouren: "?????"

    Shuo Zong: "A deed of unconditional transfer of Ning Tian's shares, along with gifts of my other assets."

    Xia Shouren's knees weakened: "....Old beast, have you been scared out of your wits by the Heavenly Dao?!"

    Shuo Zong casually asked, "Aren't you curious about what I'm doing with all that money?"

    Xia Shouren replied, "…What are you going to do with it?!"

    Shuo Zong answered, "Marry a wife."

    Xia Shouren exclaimed, "?!?!?!?! ?!?!?!?!"

    Shuo Zong continued, "I have a dao companion already."

    Xia Shouren responded, "What are you talking about?!?!?! ?!?!?!?"

    Shuo Zong reminded, "Remember to give me the red packet."

    **********

    There were too many injured people during the chaotic escape, so Wei Xi didn't dare to run away under Jie Tuan Yi's watchful gaze. Despite his great physical strength, he was exhausted to the point of collapse, and Jie Tuan Yi still praised him admiringly, "Master, you're truly a model for all blessed beasts in the world!"

    Wei Xi's face was dark with embarrassment, feeling that he couldn't endure this situation any longer.

    United Righteousness was clueless and still happily scrolling through Weibo. Wei Xi's identity had already been exposed online. A flood of netizens rushed to Tai Cang Sect's Weibo page. There were long-time fans cheering for their master's glory, friends and family of the injured expressing gratitude to Wei Xi, and, of course, countless admirers swooning over the powerful young man in the video. United Righteousness felt proud and said to Wei Xi, "Master, look! So many people are saying they want to marry you!"

    Wei Xi turned his gaze toward him, his brows slightly furrowed. "What?"

    United Righteousness repeated himself, only to see Wei Xi snatch the phone from his hand and slowly type on the touchscreen.

    United Righteousness was taken aback and leaned closer. He watched as Wei Xi replied to a comment that read, "Little brother, I want to marry you!" with these words: "I'm afraid I can't oblige. I already have a dao companion."

    United Righteousness: "....Master, you don't have to take it so seriously."

    Two seconds later, he was stunned. "Master?! You have a Dao companion?! Who?!! Is it Junior Brother?!"

    Wei Xi nodded.

    Tuan Jieyi stumbled backward in shock. When he looked up, he saw his master staring at him with an indecisive expression.

    Wei Xi pondered for a long while before reaching into his pocket and pulling out an object, which he then handed over. Tuan Jieyi took it and discovered that it was a silver ingot that had oxidized into black.

    Tuan Jieyi: "…What are you doing, Master?"

    Wei Xi said, "I only have you as my disciple now. This is my personal asset; take it for your pocket money."

    Tuan Jie Yi's nostrils flared. Holy moly! What does it mean to be the only disciple?! Does this mean I've finally secured my position as the first disciple of the Taicang Sect's 64th generation?!

    Master truly values me in his heart! He's even giving me his personal assets! This silver ingot is worth a lot! What kind of affection is this?! Tuan Jie Yi was so moved that tears streamed down his face. "Master!!! I knew you're the best to me!!!"

    Wei Xi slowly nodded in response.

    Hearing some noise, Tuan Jie Yi turned his head and found that his junior apprentice brother had returned. Holding the silver ingot, he couldn't help but puff out his chest proudly, fearing revenge from his junior. He hastily tore open a rift and fled.

    Shuo Zong stood at the door, his gaze falling on the room. Wei Xi felt that there was something peculiar about his second disciple's current state. He asked, "Que'er?"

    The disciple held a document folder in his hand and responded with a soft "Mm."

    Recalling that his disciple had mentioned an urgent matter before leaving, Wei Xi asked, "Did you take care of your urgent matter?"

    There was a moment of silence before the disciple replied, "Yes."

    Wei Xi: "Did you encounter any trouble?"

    The disciple stepped closer, meeting his gaze with an unreadable expression. After a moment's silence, he replied softly, "No."

    Wei Xi: "That's good then."

    Suddenly, the disciple reached out to touch his head, gently sweeping the hair from his forehead back behind his ear, gazing at him intently.

    Wei Xi felt that something was off about his disciple, as if he couldn't get enough of looking at him. "Que'er?"

    The disciple quickly composed himself, smiling as he tugged Wei Xi towards the living room. "Help me with something. There are some documents you need to sign."

    Seated by his disciple, Wei Xi watched as a pile of papers spilled out of a file folder, followed by a pen being handed to him. He picked them up but couldn't make much sense of them. "What are these? Something related to Ning Tian... or his company?"

    The disciple remained calm. "Just a standard cooperation agreement. Your signature is all that's needed."

    Trusting his disciple completely, Wei Xi didn't question further. He signed without reading, following the spots pointed out by the other.

    Throughout the signing process, the disciple sat quietly by his side, watching him attentively.

    Every few signatures, Wei Xi would glance up at the disciple, who would then gently adjust his hair. The stack of documents was thick, and it took him quite a while to finish signing them all.

    Shuo Zong watched as the names materialized one by one under the pen tip. "Signed?"

    Wei Xi acknowledged with a nod, then promptly pushed aside the stack of documents. "Forget about these for now, I have something for you."

    Seeing Wei Xi's disregard for the paperwork, Shuo Zong chuckled. "What is it?"

    Wei Xi glanced around to ensure they were alone. He stood up and walked over to the alcove dedicated to the Heavenly Venerated Daoist in the living room. There, he moved the alcove aside, lifted a floorboard, and pulled out a small cloth bag from beneath.

    Shuo Zong: "..."

    With a smug expression, Wei Xi introduced, "I dug this secret hideout myself, all my treasures are stored here!"

    Shuo Zong laughed, speechless. "Treasures?"

    Wei Xi brought over the small cloth bag, which jingled noisily along the way. Returning to the sofa, he emptied the contents onto the coffee table, revealing a pile of blackened items. He began rummaging through them.

    After a moment, he pulled out a passbook. "This is my savings book from doing freelance work."

    Then, he produced a bank card. "This is my card for shopping."

    After a while, he pulled out another card. "This is the one they usually use to transfer me money."

    He still wasn't done. "This is the account that Qiu Guokai's agency uses to pay my share."

    Wei Xi handed his apprentice a pile of bank cards and passbooks before starting to count the remaining items on the table. Satisfied that nothing was missing, he poured all the oxidized silver coins and silver ingots into his second disciple's arms. "This is the money your great-grandmaster gave me when he left the mountain. You should keep it too."

    Shuo Zong was at a loss whether to laugh or cry. "What are you doing?"

    Wei Xi sighed. "Ah! I was planning to give this to you when I promoted you to junior sect leader. But now that you're my Dao companion, I'm not sure if I can rightfully pass the sect to you in the future. I can't predict what will happen, so your senior brother might inherit the sect instead. But these are my personal assets, unrelated to the sect's accounts. So I can give them to you now."

    Wei Xi looked at the passbooks and bank cards in Shuo Zong's hands, then suddenly took out his wallet and added the five hundred-odd yuan in cash to the pile. "I forgot about these."

    Shuo Zong stared blankly at the money as he held it. He had been managing Wei Xi's income, so he knew exactly how much money the man had. The amount in these bank accounts and passbooks was pitiful compared to the value of the transfer documents he had just made Wei Xi sign. Yet, it was indeed all that Wei Xi owned.

    Not a single cent less.

    Wei Xi had given him everything without reservation.

    Shuo Zong, who had never felt any emotional waves even when he learned that Heavenly Dao was collapsing, suddenly found himself struggling to control his emotions. He pulled Wei Xi into a tight embrace. "Wei Xi... What can I say to you..."

    Wei Xi patted him consolingly and sighed, "Que'er, now I really have nothing left. In the future, when we need to buy food, drinks, or anything else, you'll have to provide for me."

    Shuo Zong caressed his head and couldn't resist planting kisses on his earlobe. "Alright."

    After Wei Xi allowed himself to be embraced for a while, he struggled to break free from Shuo Zong's arms, grabbed the small cloth bag, and started stuffing the scattered silver ingots back inside. "Quickly put these away. Your senior brother doesn't know about this, so don't let him see them."

    Just as he finished speaking, the living room trembled, and a rift opened in the air. Tuan Jieyi's head emerged, "Master, I forgot to tell you earlier—"

    His words were cut short as his gaze fell upon the pile of blackened silver ingots in his junior brother's embrace.

    Tuan Jieyi: "…"

    Wei Xi: "…"

    Tuan Jieyi looked at his master with accusation, "Woo—"

    Then, he released the barrier and ran away.

    Wei Xi jumped up, hurriedly rushing towards the still-open rift in the barrier. "Que'er, keep the money safe. I'll go appease your senior brother!"

    Shuo Zong sat still for a moment, took out his phone to send Unity Yi a red envelope of 100 yuan, then slowly began to appreciate the legacy Wei Xi had left him. He carefully placed each item into that small black cloth bag, tidied them up, and collected the documents on the table before leaving.

    Xia Shouren waited in the car, still in a daze from the shattering of his worldview. Seeing Shuo Zong return, he stared at him as if he were an alien. "You... you really gave the documents to Wei Xi for him to sign?"

    Shuo Zong calmly handed back the file folder. "He signed it. You can go ahead and process the paperwork."

    Xia Shouren took the folder, opened his mouth, but was speechless for a long while. He slapped the steering wheel in disbelief. "Old bastard! Are you sure you're still sane?! Those documents represent your entire fortune!!! You... you gave it all to Wei Xi?!"

    But Shuo Zong didn't show any regret. Instead, he turned back thoughtfully, glancing in the direction of the Wei family. Under Xia Shouren's astonished gaze, he picked up a black bag. "Did you see this?"

    Xia Shouren: "..."

    A bad premonition began to stir in Xia Shouren's heart.

    Sure enough, Shuo Zong quickly pulled out a dark object from the bag. "Do you know what this is?"

    Staring at the ordinary-looking coin, Xia Shouren replied, "...."

    Was this thing rare?

    Shuo Zong placed the large bill back and drew out a bank card. "And this card too."

    Xia Shouren stared at the card. "…."

    Not only was it not a black card, it wasn't even a gold card...

    Shuo Zong returned the card to his pocket and jangled it in front of Xia Shouren, letting him hear the sound. "Wei Xi gave it to me."

    Xia Shouren: "…."

    Did I ask you?

    And could all these things in your pocket combined be worth even one of the apartments you transferred to Wei Xi? What exactly are you being smug about?

    Shuo Zong shot him a look that said 'you know nothing', completely ignoring him. He started rummaging through the pocket by the car as if he couldn't get enough of its contents. After a long while, he spoke again. "When you go to handle the paperwork, stop by the bank and open a safe deposit box for me. The top tier kind."

    Damn it.

    Xia Shouren felt deeply humiliated. In the end, he angrily started the car, and in an instant, any confusion or sadness vanished.

    May the Heavenly Dao collapse swiftly!! If there is to be a new one, let it not come at all!!

    What use is there in allowing such a beast to live?!

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