137 Chapter 137
The day before the last test a group of cultivators was sitting together. There were various faces, young and old but they came here for one reason, to make a deal. One man, in particular, stepped out to the center stage. He looked like any ordinary old cultivator uncle with a beard and dressed in your standard cultivator robe.
"I am glad that you have chosen to participate, brothers and sisters."
The man spoke in a relaxed tone while looking at the people in the room, one of them quickly replying to his statement.
"Not like we have much choice in this, those three other clans will be a problem..."
"En, you speak the truth, not sure where that Zhang Clan came from, but even the Feng and Huo clan are supporting them..."
"Yes, they clearly want to steal all the top spots for themselves!"
The other people in the room chimed in, this was a hastily organized meeting with a couple of the more influential clans that were still in the competition.
"Together we have about two hundred juniors, this should be enough of a fighting force to take care of them!"
There were about twenty clans here, together they had a bit over two hundred junior members that were still participating in the preliminary round.
"If we join hands we can defeat the others, easily."
"Yes, the only problem is that there might not be enough tokens for everyone, how do we go about this problem?"
Everyone nodded, there were close to five hundred people taking the whole test. The person participating had to have three tokens to pass the stage, but there were only five hundred of those tokens to pass around. They needed close to six hundred for all of their people, so someone would need to stay behind.
"Well, my friends how about we do it like this. Everyone picks out one or two juniors from their group, that you think aren't up to par... and they will just give up the tokens, to their more superior brothers and sisters. How does that sound?"
The people started murmuring, which sounded like a good strategy that wouldn't cause much internal strife.
"The other option would be to get rid of the other clans and then have the juniors compete against each other normally..."
The group started rubbing their chins and whispering among each other. The second option sounded worse but would be seen as a lesser evil against their junior members. Their young members would probably hold grudges against their elders, if they were told to just drop out of the competition. But if they went with the second option, the number of contestants would drop even further. Also, injuries could happen rendering more of their juniors out of commission.
The people inside the room debated the pros and cons of both options. In the end, it was decided that the first one allowed for the maximal number of members. The clans would rather try their luck in the main tournament, with more juniors participating than gamble in this last test. Already being able to take center stage with all the other sects and clans watching, was a grand achievement of its own.
While those clans were having their meeting, three other families were doing the same thing. They didn't hide though and were right in the pagoda hotel. Zhang Jin was on one side with a couple of senior members from his clan, sitting down with a teacup in his hand. Opposite of him sat a Huo Clan elder with mutton chops for a beard, his name was Huo Qiao. The third member was a granny that looked like she spent her whole life farming in the sun, her name was Feng Maling.
They had gathered here for the same reason as the other clans that were plotting against them. The three seniors were crafty old foxes and had foreseen the other families going against them.
"I guess we have no other choice, I wished that we could have had a regular competition for out juniors without us old seniors getting involved."
Zhang Jin spoke out while setting the empty cup of tea on the table.
"Well, you have to see them from their perspective brother Jin."
Huo Qiao replied while leaning back in his chair.
"Yes, your Zhang Clan has gathered quite the number of promising youths... maybe you can talk your Patriarch into giving our juniors some pointers. Think you owe me a bit of face since the last time we met..."
The granny spoke out while squinting her eyes at Zhang Jin, the two had some history the old man having claimed this old lady as one of his targets back in the day.
"Oh...ho...ho... senior brings up old tales from my younger days, I was just young and curious..."
The man coughed into his hand while looking to the side, he didn't think that his old love interest would be in this city. The woman didn't age well compared to him, he was a bit younger as well. Back in the day, she was quite the beautiful older sister, he met her on one of his travels. Zhang Jin had quite the silver tongue and managed to court favor with the woman. He also left without saying a word after having his fun. Thanks to his high standing and the two clans not really wanting any trouble with each other the whole thing was forgotten, but the old woman still held a grudge.
"Yes... but I heard you didn't learn much after that, how many poor women have you devoured. Well, I guess Patriarch wouldn't be here if you weren't like this..."
She already knew that Zhang Dong was someone from a side family, that came to be due to Zhang Jin's fooling around. The old lady wasn't letting up, Huo Qiao was to the side just scratching his neck not sure what to do with these two. He was slowly getting worried that the old woman would jump at the Zhang Clan senior and claw his eyes out or something. He coughed into his palm and tried to get their attention as he spoke up.
"Ahh... let's focus on the junior members and on the competition, its not the time for these personal squabbles, you two..."
The two looked to the man, he had the highest cultivation base here, and even though Zhang Jin had improved with the help of Zhang Dong. He was still nowhere near this senior in terms of power and strength.
"Ah yes... the competition, think we can all agree on a truce and to have our juniors work together."
Zhang Jin was quick to jump back to the conversation about the Dao Festival, not really wanting to talk about his love life.
"Well, that's obvious we can't let those idiots take the spots from our juniors, not sure what they are thinking. Guess they don't know how strong our clans have gotten since that time..."
The granny grumbled and also chimed in, during these two years the three clans had leveled up. This was all thanks to the share of cultivation resources.
"Mhm, who could have known that your Patriarch has such a useful skill! That would explain his behavior back in the library."
Huo Qiao thought back to that time two years ago and how Zhang Dong was rushing all over the place poking and touching books. He thought that he was just looking for something, but he was actually remembering them with some kind of bizarre technique. They found out later after he had sent some of the techniques from the library for their personal use.
There were various manuals handed over to them, for which the whole Huo clan was grateful. Their Patriarch was flabbergast and immediately formed an alliance with the Zhang Clan. The techniques that they received were by far the best ones that they had ever seen. They also went along with the Dao of the flames that they practiced. The same thing happened to the Feng Clan, though their Matriarch didn't really need them to form a similar alliance with the Zhang Clan. She already held Zhang Dong in high regard and would have done it if he just asked.
"Though your Patriarch has a peculiar naming sense."
Huo Qiao laughed.
"Oh, think the 'Triforce alliance' has a nice ring to it..."
Zhang Jin replied while also chuckling slightly. The scroll that they all signed that day also had a three triangle pattern. This was, of course, a symbol from a popular game that Matt had played back in the day.
"Well, I see that we all agree. I'll have some of my clan members pass the plan to the junior members, you should do the same."
Zhang Jin said while leaning forward slightly, but as he was about to stand up from his seat to excuse himself a person walked in from the side room. This person was quite the beautiful lady with light pink hair, the hair was styled in a ponytail. Some of that hair was still bouncing up from the front and slightly covering the woman's eyes.
"Grandpa Jin, grandpa Jin... why didn't Zhang Dong come... I wanted to show him how much I have progressed..."
This was Feng Liena, the woman hadn't aged a day and was still of a nice caramel complexion.
"Yeah, I wanted to spar with Brother too..."
A large muscular red-haired man walked out as well. This was Huo Qiang, Zhang Dong's self-proclaimed brother. He treated Zhang Dong as a senior brother, but he was actually older by about ten years.
The two looked dejected while looking at Zhang Jin, the old man not sure what to say as it was due to him that his grandson wasn't here. He was still adamant about letting him know about the whole Dao Festival, not wanting to bring him into the area where he could offend some Dark Palm sect members.
"Ah, Dong'er was in secluded cultivation so I didn't want to bother him with the small stuff... it's better if this old man takes care of the junior members from time to time, ho ho ho."
He laughed out loud while standing up and giving the two that walked in a bow with cupped fists.
"I'll be sure to mention you two when I see my grandson, he had been quite busy since we started reclaiming our old territory."
"If you say so..."
Feng Liena replied while trying not to pout. The woman was quite interested in this Zhang clan Patriarch that had offered her own family various cultivation manuals. But this wasn't all, she was quite fond of his rather unorthodox ways. He was quite the peculiar man that didn't really act as others acted. He was in a rather high position, but he seemed quite innocent on the inside.
'Haven't really seen him much since those two years, he is always away or cultivating...hope he isn't evading me on purpose...'
The woman's head dropped down. Matt didn't really visit any of his new friends all that much, still having his introvert ways of not trying to intrude on people without having to. If left alone without any responsibilities he would probably lock himself in his crafting abode. He didn't really have the urge to meet people, the responsibilities of being a Patriarch mostly being the ones that made him go out.
"Ahh... didn't he send you a new battle fan recently though?"
Feng Maling interrupted as she saw where her young Matriarch's thoughts were wondering. The new pinnacle earth weapon arrived just a couple of months ago.
Liena pulled out a fan, it was quite beautiful and looked like the tail of a peacock. It shined brightly and looked like it was made from green jade. This was a lot stronger than any weapon that she possessed, Matt managed to produce it with an advanced grade of A+. Making it something that was at the top of perfect graded earth weapons.
Feng Liena waved it around proudly while her grandma and Zhang Jin smiled, seeing that the lady was cheering up once more. But the happy mood didn't last long as Huo Qiang spoke up.
"Oh, he made one for you too? Look at these babies!"
The man pulled out a set of red gauntlets that looked as if they were made from red rubies. He struck a battle pose showing them off while Huo Qiao tried not to facepalm from the side.
'How can a man with so many wives have so little tact...'
The three elders in the room squinted at the red-haired man while Feng Liena's expression sunk once again.