Chapter 76: Zhen Shi, the Profound Schemer!?
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In the end, Zhen Shi who couldn't bear to bury himself in a pit, could only scowl and force his eyes to observe the cheering crowd.

Even so, he rubbed his forehead in embarrassment, simultaneously thinking of ways to get out of here as fast as possible...

Step! Step!

Suddenly, the echoing sound of multiple footsteps began to sound out. The sound of the steps was similar to that of a marching army, but strangely, didn't cause any sense of fear to arise...

Hearing this resounding sound, the cheering crowd quickly grew silent and turned towards the source of the sound with both trepidation and curiosity.

Vert soon, several hundred silhouettes became visible in the distance.

It was a group of nearly a thousand servants!

Adorned in beautiful clothing, with looks that were pleasant on the eyes, all the servants arrived in complete sync with each other. They seemed to be moving in a group formation, not one for battle, but one that would calm the mind and entrance of all who watched.

Even Zhen Shi was affected a bit, before he quickly returned to normal. If even he was affected, one could already guess the effects on the ordinary cultivators of the crowd!

Most of the cultivators had to exert considerable effort to escape the power of this formation, and when they did, fearful expressions flickered across their faces...

Without wasting any more time, every single servant walked towards one of the newly chosen {Honorary Guests}.

They bowed respectfully to the cultivator in front of them and spoke a few words of praise and introduction with polite smiles.

Having done this, the servants began to lead their assigned guests towards the depths of the market hall.

Seeing the power of this thousandfold formation, Zhen Shi immediately noticed some of the possible implications. If he was correct, this could only be considered to be a gutsy move!

While the respectful and polite treatment of the servants showed that they would accept the newly promoted thousand {Honorary Guests}, the surprising power of the mystifying formation also gave out a veiled threat!

By showing off the power of the Market Hall, they could curb some of the more troublesome cultivators who might go out of control with their newly gained power!

As the servants and the cultivators walked away, Zhen Shi put aside the implications of this matter. He could see that the new Honorary Guests were in shaky positions, but in the end, it wasn't his problem...

Coincidentally, around the same time, Will O'Dale appeared on the horizon and rushed towards Zhen Shi.

He too was a bit taken aback by the sight of the thousand cultivators and the thousand servants, but he didn't seem that surprised. Having worked in the Market Hall for a few years, Will naturally had a few connections who had informed him about this matter...

Zhen Shi who noticed Will O'Dale arrive was extremely relieved. Having being tortured to the point of considering burying himself in the ground, it was only natural for him to be ecstatic about finally leaving this embarrassing place.

Will O'Dale immediately noticed his reaction. Unfortunately, he misunderstood this as Zhen Shi being pleased about HIS arrival. Excited about being so amazing as to elicit such a reaction in his own elder brother, William was even happier than Zhen Shi!

Not in a state of mind to pay any attention to his surroundings, Zhen Shi spent a few seconds more to present a friendly goodbye to Elder Hao Lei, before immediately running away across the wooden bridge.

As such, the strangely happy duo of Zhen Shi and Will O'Dale dashed after the remaining tracks left by the Bull manifestation, leading towards Lyon City...


Back in the Market Island,

After being led away by the servants, every Honorary Guest would be given a short tour of the market hall, then respectfully directed to a Golden Pavilion similar to that which Zhen Shi had been given, and finally presented with an official identification talisman.

This was nothing special and was the most basic courtesy that was only to be expected.

However, none of those tours were ordinary. Rather strangely, each and every one of these servants would drop a few unusual sentences here and there.

First, they would mention how rare it was for a thousand {Honorary Guests] to appear at the same time. Considering that the entire Lyonesse kingdom only had less than a hundred, this was an impossibly large number! It would naturally cause a drastic shift in power and not everyone would be happy with it...

Having explained that matter thoroughly, the servants would then move on to the matter of the Golden Bridge being broken for some reason...

Finally, they would point out that some of the new honorary guests could potentially be stripped of their titles on the basis that the bridge was broken. At the very least, all the {Honorary Guests} could be requested to take another test...

These were all very sensitive matters that could cause certain cultivators to grow enraged and lash out. However, not a single cultivator flew into a rage.

This was because the servants always mentioned these matters extremely carefully. It was almost as if they knew about the nature and the character of the cultivators they were accompanying...

Depending on the cultivator, they would withhold certain information and highlight certain other aspects. Sometimes, they would mention everything and sometimes they wouldn't mention the matter at all.

They only brought this topic up at the most perfect and natural moments, always maintaining respectful and polite tones.

Anyone listening would think that the particular servant was simply worried and was looking out for them.

As expected, after hearing these explanations, every single cultivator would fall into serious thought and start to worry. None of them wanted to lose the power that they had just gained...

However, considering that there were nearly a thousand cultivators, there would naturally be a few who were intelligent and cunning who had already realized this situation.

Almost coincidentally, none of the servants explained this matter to those cultivators...

To those cultivators, they would recount something entirely different.

The servants would point out a specific golden pagoda and mention various things about the cultivator within. They never mentioned everything, only a few. But it was always enough to create awe and intrigue within the listeners...

"My lord, welcome! This will be your living area from now. Oh wait, do you see that pavilion over there? That is the living quarter of Lord Zhen Shi! He is also an Honorary Guest, but in his bridge trial, he was the only one who completed the Bridge Trial!

In fact, his attempt at the trial was so impressive that he actually received a personal divine blessing from God Caishen! Unfortunately, no one knows what it is..."

"This Zhen Shi has a very mysterious master named Myrden behind him. Some say Grandmaster Myrden's cultivation exceeds the Sovereign Realm!"

"If you think Zhen Shi is strange, wait till you hear this! He has a senior brother named Myne, a Nascent Soul cultivator, who is a talented blacksmith that can easily make Law Tier weapons!

In fact, according to rumors, Myne once made a mistake causing his weapon to drop down to the Soul Tier. He was so disappointed and disgusted by that valuable weapon, he just threw it out like trash!

See that particular hole in the wall? They say that it's the spot where the weapon pierced the wall!

You don't believe me? Well, I didn't see it, so I'm a bit skeptical myself...

However, that same Myne easily formed a mystical Law Tier formation! It was a majestic silver fortress! This time, I saw it with my own eyes, so you can be completely reassured that it's the truth..."

"If that wasn't enough, this Zhen Shi also has a senior sister, another Nascent Soul cultivator, who is rumored to be an equally talented alchemist on par with Myne!"

"He even has Will O'Dale, a noble of the Lyonesse kingdom, and a rumored tabooed, working under him!"

"Hey, my lord, come a bit closer. This is a rumor that could get both our necks cut off if it's heard by the wrong ears...

Some rumors say that Lord Zhen Shi is the one who broke the Golden Bridge by forcing his divine blessing out of it! Even so, the Market Hall didn't dare to make a single move on him!

Why, you ask?

Well, my lord, that's because Zhen Shi single-handedly defeated the Curator Turnbull, a divine proclaimer, while he was using his hundredfold army!

What's even more amazing is that Lord Turnbull made use of the Grand Island Formation in this battle. Considering Curator Turnbull's cultivation, he could even summon a level of power on par with a Sovereign! But, even that was useless!

Zhen Shi defeated Lord Turnbull as easily as breaking a twig! In the end, even a Curator was unable to do anything to him!"

"What? Is my Lord saying that battle prowess isn't everything for a cultivator? Well, of course, that's true. It's not only his battle prowess that makes Lord Zhen Shi amazing...

He is on very good terms with Lord Lyon, the curator of the Lyon family, who owes him several favors!

There are even some rumors running about mentioning he is from the Legendary Zhen Clan of the Hubei Prefecture! You should know how differently a member of a Clan is treated compared to a citizen from a kingdom..."

"Oh? My lady, has been suffering from pains in your chest? Well, you're in luck! The Zhen Shi I mentioned before, is also a divine musician! His music evokes mysterious phenomena in nature, heals the sick, and gives rise to cultivation base enhancements in all those who listen! Don't believe me? Just go listen tonight! He's playing again..."

"Ah! My lord, is it true that you have a strange treasure that you want appraised? Well, don't be in too much of a hurry. That Zhen Shi is also an extremely talented appraiser! In fact, he will be going up against the greatest appraiser of our Lyonesse kingdom, just next week!"

"Oya? My lord, wants to know more about that Zhen Shi? Well... he is a mysterious character, and very little is known about him.

I do know something that is meant to be top secret, but I'm not sure if I should share it...

Aiya, I guess I'll tell you that secret just because we're friends! According to rumors, Zhen Shi will soon be marrying into the Lyon family!

Apparently, his Daoist partner will be Laura Lyon! I'm sure you've heard of her, the top-class beauty renowned across the Lyonesse kingdom, the talented businesswoman who has made multiple ventures that have raked in large profits for the Lyon and Turnbull Market Hall!

The fact that the Lyon family is willing to marry her off, shows how much they value Zhen Shi!

But please my lord, don't share this information with anyone else. My poor neck is on the line..."

This time as well, the servants spoke in a very natural and appropriate manner, leaving the honorary guests free of suspicions.

In this manner, all the servants dropped statements and hints of a similar nature, causing all the new honorary guests to fall into deep thought.

Having heard all of this, almost all of them would instantly connect the two matters.

They had a problem; the possible loss of their newly gained title, along with a solution; which was none other than Lord Zhen Shi, himself.

If they could gain the support of Zhen Shi, perhaps become his subordinates, no one would dare to remove their titles!

Besides, in a way, considering that Zhen Shi is the one who damaged the golden bridge and allowed them to cross the bridge, they were already indebted to him.

As cultivators, the majority of them believed in karma. By serving under him, not only could they stabilize their position, but they could also pay off their debt to him!

Almost all of the Honorary guests arrived at this conclusion by themselves. They didn't even suspect they were being manipulated.

However, some of them would still be skeptical about his numerous achievements and would make some discrete investigations.

When they received back multiple sources of evidence in confirmation, even when they found out that some of it was only rumors and speculation, they would still be completely shaken and shocked.

'If this Zhen Shi is still in the Soul Formation stage, what could he do when he is stronger?'

With such thoughts in their mind, all of them could see the numerous benefits of gaining the favor of Lord Zhen Shi.

That night, with slight doubts still in their hearts, each and every one of them would pay a visit to listen to his divine music.

By the time the music ended, they would be completely shaken. The small increases to their cultivation would completely wash away all their doubts...

At that point, the numerous honorary guests would see each other and decide to gather together for a small discussion. Having met at Zhen Shi's divine music concert, they would immediately begin to present their varied thoughts on serving under Zhen Shi.

In the end, after only a few hours of active discussion, everyone would agree that joining him was the best option.

So, by the time they left to rest for the night, there would be a definite plan to make a joint request to become Zhen Shi's subordinates.

However, some of the more cunning and wise cultivators would secretly get together once more and discuss the strangeness of this situation. After all, for all of them to have heard about Zhen Shi's achievements and decide to join him at the same time was rather suspicious...

Upon further discussion, the truth would soon come to light. When they realized that each and every one of those servants had presented this information to them, they would shiver with disbelief and fear.

In their minds, the only person who could benefit from a move like this would be Zhen Shi himself!

Instantly, they would realize that this was an extremely clever and elaborate plot. However, not a single one of them would be angered or suspicious!

The power Zhen Shi wielded, to order the servants to follow his command, and the polite nature of the offer, letting them decide whether they wanted to join him or not, would leave them extremely moved.

In the end, the only difference this made was the way they thought about Zhen Shi. To them, he would be a profound schemer!

The fact that Zhen Shi could be so cunning and scheming would only serve to cement their decision to join him.

In this way, each and every one of the thousand Honorary Guests would fall prey to this elaborate plot.

By the time the sun would begin to rise the next day, all thousand of them would make their official joint request to join Zhen Shi, fully confident of being accepted...

Little did they know, none of this had anything to do with Zhen Shi!

In fact, poor Zhen Shi was completely unaware of this matter and would have a shocking surprise waiting for him the next morning.

However, it couldn't be that this happened automatically either. That would be impossible...

As expected, there was a perpetrator behind this plot, and all of it had been single handedly been executed by Elder Hao Lei!

When Elder Hao Lei heard about the matter of the golden bridge, he had become extremely worried.

He knew that the golden bridge was a legacy treasure of the Market Hall.

Even if their small regional branch would think twice about attacking Zhen Shi, it was highly possible that some powerful members of the Primary Market Hall might decide to make a lesson out of him to gain some reputation...

After all, Zhen Shi only had the title of {Honorary Guest} and a Soul Formation cultivation. At such a weak cultivation level, wielding Sovereign level battle prowess might be unheard of, but considering the bigger picture, it was nothing much at all!

Thus, Elder Hao Lei had made this move to give Zhen Shi some extra protection.

Each and every {Honorary Guest} wielded a bit of power to present opinions about the matters related to the administration of the Market Hall. If a thousand of them could agree on the same decision, that would be a level of power almost on par with a Curator!

In addition, the members of the Primary Market Hall will definitely think twice about attacking so many Honorary Guests. They could handle ten or twenty, maybe even a hundred, but definitely not a thousand of them!

Hao Lei's reward for bringing Zhen Shi into the Market Hall had been a full promotion to an Internal Elder.

Using the complete power vested in his new title, he had done everything he could! He had even made use of all the favors he had gained from his years of service!

He had hired talented sales-people and spies to pretend to be servants. He had extensively researched the characters and natures of these thousand cultivators. He had even asked for a personal favor from Lord Lyon, who had been more than happy to get Zhen Shi to officially join them with a marriage...

Naturally, Elder Hao Lei wasn't doing this just to help Zhen Shi, the young cultivator, out of the kindness of his heart.

He was only doing this to help Zhen Shi, his 'future nephew-in-law'!

This was the very reason he had decided to spread rumors of Zhen Shi becoming Daoist partners with Laura! In a way, by spreading such rumors, he was also forcing this marriage.

Back near the golden bridge, Elder Hao Lei stared out at the lake with a mysterious light in his eyes.

He smiled a hopeful smile, and muttered out into the wind, "Young Master, I have done everything I can within my power. The fate of my entire lineage is in your hands, and it is up to you to lead them towards spring!

You better take good care of my niece as well."

Just a short distance away, within Lyon City, Zhen Shi began to feel a profound sense of unease...

Yup. A thousand Honorary Elders under Zhen Shi's command.

I didn't plan to make it exactly like this, but a certain comment from the last chapter (on webnovel) molded this chapter to be what it is today :)

By saying this, I'm definitely not asking for more comments. I'm definitely not pointing out that your opinions can shape and influence this story, just so that I can get more comments...

Or am I...? :D