Putting his logical conjectures aside, with the intention of saving his niece, Elder Hao Lei hurriedly dashed forwards coming to a stop right in front of Laura.
He quickly bowed and began to plead, "Young master Zhen Shi, please forgive my inexperienced niece! She is still a young girl prone to making mistakes. I'm sure that she did not mean to lose her temper! Even so, if you must punish someone, I beg of you to take your anger out on myself."
Regardless of his niece's reasons for acting as she had, whether it be love or true anger, her life was more important. As such, Elder Hao Lei's first action had been to apologize.
Zhen Shi was taken aback by Hao Lei's abrupt apology. Laura was even more stupefied by her uncle's sudden appearance and preceding actions.
Just when she was about to explain the actual situation to him, Zhen Shi waved his hand amicably and spoke out, "It's fine, it's fine. Sister Laura has always had a short temper since the first day I met her. It would be strange if I got angered over such a minor matter."
Hearing his words, Laura almost exploded in indignation, but with her uncle nearby she couldn't bring herself to scream out once more and make him worry.
Hearing Zhen Shi's reply, Elder Hao Lei raised an eyebrow in surprise, 'He's fine with it? Then could it be... that young master Zhen Shi has feelings for her as well?! Praise be to the gods! Could this be the long-awaited opportunity for my lineage and family!? If she were to marry a potential sovereign...'
Holding back his imagination from building castles in the sky, Elder Hao Lei beamed brightly, "I am glad it is so, young master Zhen Shi. It brings me great hope to witness your generous and kind actions. I hope you'll continue to take care of my niece just as well."
By saying so, he was covertly giving his blessings for the two of them! Elder Hao Lei was testing the waters to make sure he wasn't imagining things...
Zhen Shi, however, noticed nothing unusual in his words and simply took them at face value. As such, he nodded with a simple smile.
Seeing this simple nod, Elder Hao Lei beamed even brighter. He could already see the bright future that awaited his lineage under the wings of a sovereign.
This misunderstanding was slowly growing out of proportion and rather unfortunately not a single person noticed anything amiss.
However, Vivienne who was as perceptive as always had noticed the unusual nature of Elder Hao Lei's words and actions. But as she couldn't be too sure of the thoughts of others, she had chosen to remain silent.
On the other hand, Myne had only noticed one thing... The fact that Zhen Shi was completely fine and could even bring himself to smile after being insulted so blatantly by a young girl!
Horrified that his brother's masochistic side was about to activate, Myne quickly posed a question intending to change the subject, "Elder Hao Lei, I couldn't help but notice you were about to make some form of announcement when you first arrived. What was that about?"
Elder Hao Lei was speechless. He had come over to pass on an important message but had forgotten all about that when he had begun to imagine the rewards of a potential relationship between Zhen Shi and Laura.
Coughing awkwardly, he began to speak, "Ah! I almost forgot. I came over to inform you that Lord Lyon has returned early from his trip to our headquarters! Unfortunately, as soon as he arrived, he left in a hurry to handle some matters in the Berthelien forest. But he should be back in a few days to make a formal apology to you fellow disciples regarding Lord Turnbull's actions.
With Lord Lyon here, you can be sure that he will not get off scot-free! You can rest assured that he will be given some form of punishment!"
Forgetting all about her initial rage, Laura's eyes shone as she spoke out with a smile, "Lord Lyon is back? In that case, Lord Turnbull will no longer dare to launch any more attacks. That's a relief..."
Myne ignored her relieved words, as he turned to Elder Hao Lei and asked sharply, "Some form of punishment?! Do you mean to say that he wasn't even going to be punished if Lord Lyon wasn't here? And even still, why do I get the feeling he will get off with just a bit of light punishment? You realize he could've KILLED us right?"
Elder Hao Lei scratched his head awkwardly, "This... I'm sorry to say that it might be just as you say. As one of the two Curators of a side branch of the Lyon and Turnbull Market Hall, there are not many people who wield greater power. Even those who are stronger, like the Sovereign King Mark, will seldom act against him with the pre-existing threat of souring relations with the entire Market Hall...
If you wish to make a formal complaint to our headquarters and have them take appropriate action, I'm afraid you'll either have to be a genuine sovereign with a national level power behind you or at the very least, possess indomitable and concrete evidence."
Hao Lei heaved a heavy sigh, "Even if your teacher, Grandmaster Myrden is a sovereign, if he is an unaffiliated cultivator and doesn't have a national power behind him, the Market Hall will not acknowledge him.
As for evidence, witnesses will not matter unless they are considered powerful cultivators themselves. As I'm sure you know, despite the effectiveness of our Legal system, it is inherently favorable to those in power..."
Noticing the mention of their fictional grandmaster, Vivienne quickly answered, "That is true... Our master seldom appears in public as he prefers to keep to himself. I don't think he'll appear unless we're truly in trouble..." with a sigh of her own.
Laura suddenly raised her hand as she asked curiously, "Wait, but don't you guys follow the dao of scrying crystals? Wouldn't that count as indomitable evidence?"
Zhen Shi's eyes glowed as he was reminded of this fact which he had forgotten about. But, even if he had forgotten about it, why hadn't Myne considered it?
Rather confused, he discretely sent a mental message to Myne, "She's right! Bro, you've got your scrying crystals, right? Why don't we use that method to force that bastard cow into submission!"
Myne's face immediately soured as he sent back a reply, "Don't underestimate the Cow of the Turnbulls. He must've heard about the manner in which we proved his son was the true criminal back in the market street...
Didn't you notice the strange purple crystal on his neck? He was actually wearing a Law tier scrambling crystal! The best scrying crystal in my current inventory is barely at the Soul Tier... It is impossible to record a video in the presence of a scrambling crystal unless you have a higher tier scrying crystal!"
Zhen Shi was flabbergasted by this new knowledge, 'Scrambling Crystals!? There is actually such a thing?'
Despite his initial disbelief, as he continued to think upon it, it did make some sense, 'Scrambling crystals, to fight against the threat of Scrying crystals! If everything could be recorded without any possible defenses against it, that would be rather troublesome. Privacy would be non-existent, confidential information would be flying everywhere, and the world would be in chaos...'
Thinking along those lines, Zhen Shi made a mental note to get his hands on a few scrambling crystals if possible as well.
However, this didn't help them in the current situation. Lord Turnbull had thought a few moves ahead and had successfully placed them at a momentary disadvantage.
Zhen Shi's mind worked quickly as he tried to figure out a way to gain some advantage of their own.
'While it might be impossible to incriminate Turnbull right now, we can always take care of him by ourselves later on... So, instead of trying to take him down, there MUST be something that we can do to annoy him a bit?'
Slowly, a smile began to creep on to his face.
Myne who had been unable to swallow the defeat of his 'legendary' scrying crystals, was just about to open his mouth and release a bit more of his anger by shouting...
When suddenly, Zhen Shi signaled him to hold back. He turned to Elder Hao Lei and posed a question, "We might be helpless to take lawful action against Lord Turnbull, but considering Lord Lyon's arrival I assume we are entitled to a few favors as an apology?"
Elder Hao Lei immediately nodded, "That is indeed correct! Lord Lyon explicitly stated that he'd take care of a few of your requests once he returned back from the forest as an apology from our part."
Zhen Shi grinned as he pointed at Will O'Dale, who had been silently listening in this entire time, and spoke, "I assume you're familiar with Brother William?"
Elder Hao Lei spared a glance at Will and nodded once more, "Of course, while we might have been from rivaling factions we've met each other quite a few times..."
However, considering his 'future ties' with Zhen Shi, he sent a mental message, "I'm only saying this out of goodwill, but does young master Zhen Shi know that he is one of the tabooed? It is only a matter of time before the divine organizations take action, anyone who is related to him--"
Zhen Shi raised a hand and spoke with a smile, "Thank you for your worry, but I'm aware of this and will deal with that when the time comes."
Elder Hao Lei was slightly taken aback by his decisiveness but nodded silently.
Zhen Shi began to continue his initial explanation, "So, as I was saying, could it be possible for Lord Lyon to provide protection for the O'Dale family? I've heard that Lord Turnbull had been supporting them in return for Will's services... so I'm wondering if you could do the same?"
Hearing this, Elder Hao Lei frowned with a conflicted expression on his face. He wasn't confident of protecting Will O'Dale from the ire of the lofty Divine Organizations.
Understanding his worry, Zhen Shi immediately explained, "I don't mean Will O'Dale, I simply mean the O'Dale family. What I'm asking is, Could Lord Lyon ensure the safety of the O'Dale family and protect them? Turnbull threatened that he would take action against the O'Dales to teach William a lesson, so could Lord Lyon stop him and protect the O'Dales?"
Elder Hao Lei's frown lessened, as he slowly nodded, "If Lord Lyon were to publicly state that the O'Dale family are under his protection, very few will dare to go against him, including Lord Turnbull himself. While I don't dare confirm in my Lord's place, I'm quite confident that he would agree with your request."
Zhen Shi grinned at his success. With this scheme underway, he'd be able to aggravate Lord Turnbull by quite a bit.
However, while Zhen Shi was celebrating his success at having dealt a blow to Turnbull, Will O'Dale was acting rather differently.
Having heard Zhen Shi's conversation with Elder Hao Lei, William was desperately rubbing his eyes and trying to hold the flood works from opening up.
Even though he had joined up with Zhen Shi with belief in their future potential, that was not too different from an investment. All this while, he had been worried about the safety of his family...
While he could manage something while they were still around, what if they were to leave the Lyonesse kingdom? Who would protect his family then?
With Zhen Shi's generous actions just now, all of those worries were washed away!
Not to mention the discrete mental transmission between Zhen Shi and elder Hao Lei. Even if others didn't know, as a person who had faced the worries of being one of the tabooed first hand, he could very easily guess what was going on... But to his surprise, Zhen Shi had actually spoken up for him!
His sworn brother's genuine and generous actions continued to move him again and again.
Will O'Dale raised his head towards the sky with glistening eyes, 'O Gods above, what have I done to deserve a brother as great as him? Could this be... the divine retribution for having cursed me with tabooed powers? If all of my suffering was to meet a brother like him, I feel like it was actually worth it!'
However, when Zhen Shi noticed his strange actions he was utterly flabbergasted, 'What the heck is wrong with this fellow? Even if he is feeling grateful for my small favor, does he need to act so weird? Staring right up at the sun until his eyes burn with tears... could he have repressed masochistic tendencies as well? In that case, I'll have to keep this fellow away from brother Myne...'
Indeed, with his eyes glistening under the sunlight, Will O'Dale wasn't too different from an idiot staring right at the sun until his eyes got burnt. But Zhen Shi couldn't have been further from the truth...
Fortunately for Will O'Dale, since he wasn't an active participant in the conversation, no one else noticed his strange actions.
At this point, considering the fact that Zhen Shi and her uncle had been able to arrive at a satisfactory agreement, Laura asked with a smile, "Big brother Zhen Shi, I too have come with some good news. Your request to visit the Market Hall library has been officially accepted! If you're not too busy, shall I accompany you to the library?"
Zhen Shi was beyond excited by this good news. His inner bookworm was getting excited... but he quickly calmed himself down.
Even though he had received the Book of Thoth he hadn't been able to examine it properly yet. He had to do that and examine the 'repercussions' of binding with the Book of Thoth as well.
Besides, he had a rather important promise that he had to keep. Considering that he had put that matter off for long enough, Zhen Shi wasn't willing to spend a few days reading an entire Library's worth of books...
As such, he shook his head with a smile, turned around, and spoke out, "I'm sorry, Laura. I'm going to be quite busy this evening..."
Seeing him walking away with such a cool demeanor, despite her polite invitation, Laura had to hold herself back from screaming once more.
Hearing this, Elder Hao Lei frowned in disappointment, 'Could my conclusions have been wrong? Is the springtime of my lineage still further off?'
Considering the fact that all matters had been handled and it was as good a time as any to return to the pavilion, Myne and Vivienne followed after Zhen Shi.
However, Will O'Dale didn't follow them and had stopped awkwardly, unable to decide what to do.
Zhen Shi was aware that the O'Dale family was on the other side of the kingdom. Considering that William had left the Turnbull family, he should no longer have a place to stay.
Zhen Shi turned to him with a raised eyebrow, "Bro, why are you stopping so awkwardly? Do you have something against sleeping in the same pavilion as us? Or is it that you have some beautiful girl offering her bed for you?"
A grin crept onto William's face as he hurriedly shook his head and wordlessly dashed into the pavilion. He didn't need to be told twice to accept a chance to sleep in the same place as his elder brother!
As Myne and Vivienne tried to hold back laughter for Zhen Shi's choice of words, a small group of the previously cheering crowd separated and walked forward.
Zhen Shi couldn't help but notice that their faces were rather familiar.
One of them walked forwards and began to speak with a polite bow, "Divine Musician, pardon my interruption, but... will you still continue with your performance tonight?"
Myne, Vivienne and Will were all aware of Zhen Shi's 'talents in music'. However, Laura and Elder Hao Lei were completely clueless.
Finding about this new side of his 'soon-to-be nephew-in-law' he couldn't help but be even more impressed. Even Laura was surprised by this new information.
Zhen Shi smiled amicably at this group, after all this was his chance to earn a bit more OP, and answered, "Of course, I promised, didn't I? However, it might be a bit later than planned... is that fine with the lot of you?"
The entire group bowed and spoke out in unison, "Of course! We'll stay as long as necessary until we get to hear your music!"
Zhen Shi was slightly taken aback by their united reply but quickly nodded with a calm smile.
Now that everything was truly taken care of, Zhen Shi began to enter the pavilion. But just as he began to close the door behind him, he turned to Laura with an apologetic look, "Sister Laura, I'm truly thankful for the opportunity to visit your library, but I really am busy tonight. How about tomorrow? Early in the morning?"
Hearing his genuine apologetic words, Laura was satisfied and decided to forgive this annoying friend of hers. As such, she nodded with a happy smile.
Zhen Shi smiled back with a nod of his own and proceeded to close the door to the pavilion.
However, hearing his words, Elder Hao Lei was even more satisfied than her own niece. He couldn't stop himself from grinning, 'Hah! So I was correct! The springtime of my lineage, the pinnacle of my family's success, here I come!"