Silver Overlord Chapter 46
The Hong Clans manor was situated east of Liuhe Town. The entire manor occupied more than twenty mu. They were a household that was second to none in Liuhe Town.
Today, the Hong Clan was worshipping their ancestors and had been busy for almost the entire day from morning till sunset. When night came, and theyd finished worshipping the ancestors, the entire Hong Residence was brightly lit, filled with the sounds of voices and activity. They had set up a large banquet and were bustling with noise and excitement.
Just by standing on the outskirts of Liuhe Town, one would be able to catch sight of the glorious lights emitting from inside the Hong Clans manor.
Right inside a dining hall in the Hong Residences backyard, the Hong Clans Old Master Hong Chengshou, Hong Tao, Hong Taos father Hong Ding, Hong Taos third uncle Hong Fan, as well as his fourth uncle Hong Rong, sat together at the table, eating their fill while they waited for Hong An to return.
Old Master Hong Chengshou had four sons and two daughters, with both daughters already married out. His four sons were named "An Ding Fan Rong" in successionwhich put together meant prosperity and stability to symbolize the hope Old Master Hong had for the Hong Clans future.
Hong Taos first uncle, Hong An, and third uncle, Hong Fan, managed the Hong Clans properties in Yuntao County which lay adjacent to Qinghe County. The Hong Clans properties in Yuntao County werent considered particularly large, but neither was it seen as small as it spanned more than four hundred mu of land, with two yellow noodle factories as part of their operations. When Old Master Hong had been in charge of the family, hed borrowed the reputation of Hong Taos great-grandfather at the time, using it to fight for the property in Yuntao Country and eventually winning ownership.
As for Hong Taos father, Hong Ding, he was the Town Constable of Liuhe Town. Although he had no grade and rank, he was still a man of his word in Liuhe Town. Hong Taos fourth uncle, Hong Rong, served under the Law Enforcement Office of Qinghe County as a clerk.
With regards to Hong Taos Elder Auntie and Little Auntie, one was married off to the prefectural city of Pingxi while the other one was married to another wealthy family in Qinghe County. In his current lifetime, Old Master Hong had two more brothers, both of which were Hong Taos two great-uncles. When they were determining the division of the family with Old Master Hong, they were unable to best him, so they moved out. Both lived in Pingxi prefectural city. One of them opened an inn while the other opened up a fabric store. The great-uncle who opened up the cloth store loved to gamble, so he had already squandered his small fortune early on. His wife had run away, and he had suffered a great setback as a result. Many years had passed, and there was still no news of him. On the other hand, the great-uncle whod opened an inn was quite well-off and could still get by. However, he hadnt seemed to get along with Old Master Hong back in those days so after he moved out, the dealings he had with the Hong Clan in Liuhe Town had considerably lessened.
While he was worshipping the ancestors today, Old Master Hong reminisced about past events in the Hong Clan and felt a little rueful. He chattered at the dining table about what had happened in the Hong Clan, and he lamented that their present situation had been earned with great difficulty.
After he finished, Old Master Hong looked at the vacant seat at the side of the table before glancing at the weather outside. He couldnt help but frown, and asked, "Why isnt Hong An back yet?"
Everyone inside the room was important to the Hong Clan, so any issues or matters of significance could be spoken straightforwardly. Hong Tao was an outstanding member of the Hong Clans current generation and had been the only one whose public status had risen, unlike his other cousins. The others were either mediocre or had lost themselves to wine and women. They were also incapable of enduring any hardship, so they werent the right people to train in martial arts. This was precisely why Old Master Hong had placed great expectations on Hong Tao. After the martial arts preliminary exam, he could also participate in the Hong Clans classified affairs and be a person of influence. He was currently being cultivated by Old Master Hong as the Hong Clans heir.
"That guy will probably take some time to do his job since Mount Hundred Zhang isnt exactly small. If Blacksmith Yans son has actually run into the mountain forest, it wont be easy to find him in a short amount of time, so it will take a while for him to do the deed!" Hong Ding glanced outside at the weather. "If hes not back in two hours, Ill ask Steward Hong to bring some men along to help him out!"
"Mm." Old Master Hong nodded his head, his expression as deep as water. "Once the deed is done, those in Liuhe Town waiting to ridicule our Hong Clan will lay low for a while. The family estate left to us by our ancestors mustn't be squandered at our hands. By the time Hong Tao advances to a Martial Warrior in the future, our position in Liuhe Town should still be safeguarded for another fifteen years."
"Father is right. That two hundred mu of conferred fields in Liuhe Town will be our Hong Clans starting ground. No matter what, we mustnt allow anyone else to occupy it. An inexperienced brat from the Yan Clan also wants to be a Martial Warrior. HehhehThen well wait for him to be reincarnated again to see how that turns out!" The one who said this with a cold smile on his face was Hong Rong. Hong Rongs appearance was quite similar to Old Master Hong. However, his face was longer, his eyes were more narrow, and his lips were as thin as a piece of paper, giving the impression of a scheming character.
On the dining table, Hong Rong was the only one dressed in official robes. Although this outfit didnt count as much in the Law Enforcement Office, it held a great, formidable power in the eyes of the common folks in Liuhe Town. Hong Rong knew very well what it signified in the hearts of the citizens, so every time Hong Rong returned to Liuhe Town, he would deliberately wear the official black robe representing the county towns Law Enforcement Office.
The two hundred mu of conferred fields in Liuhe Town were top-notch irrigated farmlands that lay on the border of Willow River. This piece of farmland had actually been bestowed onto Hong Taos great-grandfather when hed become a Martial Warrior back then. According to the Great Han Empires laws, the conferred fields were not considered as fully belonging to the Hong Clan. The Hong Clan only possessed the authority to use the fields and reap the subsequent profits. After Hong Taos great-grandfather passed away, three generations had passed without a Martial Warrior emerging from the Hong Clan. The favor bestowed from being a Martial Warrior had been severed. If another person in Liuhe Town were to advance as a Martial Warrior at this time, then those two hundred mu of conferred fields would be granted to the new Martial Warriors name.
The conferred fields originally served as a form of good governance by the Great Han Empire to motivate the common folks. But as the saying goes, it was easy to accept something but difficult to return it. If they were to request the Hong Clan to give up those two hundred mu of top-notch irrigated farmlands at this time, it would be no different than slicing pieces of flesh from their own bodies. On top of that, the conferred fields were tax-free. For years, the Hong Clan had occupied and bought a number of properties in the town. After using various methods, they were eventually designated under the conferred fields name. If the Hong Clan were to lose the conferred fields, opening up verification of those Liuhe Town properties, it would mean that the Hong Clan couldnt escape paying taxes for those fields anymore. They would have to fork out a large sum of money to pay the annual taxes. This was completely unbearable to the Hong Clan, who were accustomed to their tyrannical lifestyle in Liuhe Town.
Apart from the conferred fields and in accordance with the Great Han Empires laws, if a Martial Warrior were to emerge from another household in Liuhe Town, Hong Taos fathers position as a Town Constable couldnt be safeguarded as well.
This was precisely why the Hong Clan treated the Yan Clan as a thorn in their side and their flesh. They would never allow Liuhe Town to have another household that could produce a Martial Warrior apart from theirs. Once Yan Liqiang had exhibited signs of advancing as a Martial Warrior, they needed to destroy him even if it meant spending a huge sum of money to hire an outlaw.
"That Yan Liqiang is actually quite odd. A few days ago, I went to Huanglong County to ask about his circumstances with the Lu Clan. Everyone in Huanglong County was saying that a deity had appeared in his dream to impart a method that could save the lives of those who drowned. He performed moxibustion on the navel, and with this method alone, he saved the grandson of Old Master Lu and became good friends with them. His current reputation in Huanglong County is growing by the minute. Even people outside of the county know about his method! But even if the Lu Clan can protect him for now, they wont be able to protect him forever!" said Hong Fan, shaking his head as he drank a mouthful of wine.
"What did he mean by a deity imparting teachings in his dream?! That Yan Liqiang was just lucky. I dont know from which master he stole the method from, but hes managed to create such a huge name for himself out there" Hong Tao stated maliciously. Ever since he was young, he had hated Yan Liqiang. Now that Yan Liqiang had made a name for himself at Huanglong County, a name which was quickly spreading further, he felt even more mad with jealousy.
The key men in the Hong Clan were currently conversing in the room when all of a sudden a loud clamor could be heard from outside, coming from alarmed servants. "FIRE! FIRE! EVERYONE, QUICKLY PUT OUT THE FIRE!"
In the wake of the servants screams, the frenzied sounds of panic started to ring out from outside. At the same time, a plume of blazing red light was illuminated into the room from the door and windows.
On hearing that their house had caught fire, the men inside the room couldnt sit still any longer. What was a wealthy family most afraid of? Fire. They were most afraid of fire. All those large buildings containing their vast wealth could sometimes be entirely wiped out by a fire alone.
Old Master Hong was the first to leave the room. He pushed through the door and moved to the middle of the courtyard outside. The others also quickly followed suit and left the room.
Fire covered the Hong Residences storeroom, the flames blazing upwards to the sky. Thick smoke permeated the entire place and continued to spread throughout.
"Old Master! Its terrible! The storeroom has caught fire" the Hong Clans steward ran over, shouting in panic.
"Im not blind yet. Theres no need for you to say it!" Old Master Hong shouted angrily, "Why did the storeroom catch fire? Who did this? Dont they know they need to be careful with fire on the day we worship our ancestors?!"
"I...I also dont know who caused it!" the steward mumbled.
"What are you standing there for?! Hurry up and put out the fire" Old Master Hong violently slapped the steward in the face.
"Yes...yes" The steward lowered his head and was about to turn to leave. Right as he was turning, all of a sudden he felt a trickle of liquid splashing onto his face. The steward raised his hand to wipe it only to discover that the liquid was red in color, similar to blood. He lifted his head with curiosity and was greeted by the sight of Old Master Hong standing before him with an arrow pierced through his mouth. The arrow was lodged deep inside Old Master Hongs mouth, leaving only the feathered end of the arrow outside.
Old Master Hongs eyes were widened in shock as his upright body collapsed backward.
Another arrow was shot out. Unable to react in time, Hong Ding, the Town Constable of Liuhe Town, was instantly pierced in the heart by a keen arrow. He let out a terrifying scream, before collapsing to the ground in an instant...
The remaining men of the Hong Clan finally came to their senses. Hong Fan screamed with terror and turned around to run back into the room.
But just as he took a step forward, another sharp arrow flew towards him, piercing him directly through the center of his back, killing him on the spot.
In the blink of an eye, three of the Hong Clans men were murdered.
Hong Rong fell to the ground, trying frantically to escape. He hid behind the flowerbeds of the courtyard, screaming at the top of his lungs, "MEN, HURRY! THERES BEEN A MURDER! A MURDER..."