The people started whispering amongst each other, the fountain hologram had finally been turned off, the new ruling clan and their members had left the square. No one dared to utter a word or question them about anything, they were still afraid. The Zhang Clan used to rule this city before, but even then they weren't like this. They weren't as bad as the evil Cheng Clan, but they still upheld the status quo.
The woman in the picture explained a couple of things. That there would be something like the 'police' patrolling the city, this was easy to understand as they were just guardsmen in strange uniforms. The other things were a bit odd, the woman said that some of the taxes would go to something called 'health care' and you could sign up to a clinic and get yourself checked out by a physician without having to pay. The taxes would cover the expense instead.
"Are they testing us or something, this sounds too good to be true..."
Some of the people whispered after the threat of the powerful family was gone. They having left after doing their strange announcement.
This wasn't all, besides the police and free clinics for the masses there would also be a school. This wasn't just a martial arts school in which you could earn some low graded techniques, no. This would be something that youths from a young age could attend, learn how to read and write and even have some free standardized techniques and cultivation manuals to choose from. They even said that the promising students would have an option of being invited into the midst of the powerful Zhang Clan.
"Yes, why would they want us to join their family, wouldn't that just lower their prestige?"
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"But what if it's true... It wouldn't be bad to have my little Wang'er to learn something from such a powerful clan..."
"Yes, if even one of my brats could join that clan I would be set for life!"
The people's reaction to the things that the Zhang Clan was offering was mixed. They wanted to believe in the families' goodwill, but they were also afraid that those places might have some shady dealings. It wouldn't be much of a stretch if they had their kids enroll in that 'free' school and then some Zhang Clan uncle would come demanding payment, their kids could even be captured and turned to slaves.
Most of these people were from the first up to the third level of Qi condensation, this was the realm the vast majority of regular people reached. The bottleneck past the third level was just too hard without having the backing of a clan and their knowledge. It was a risky move to attempt it on your own a lot of people crippled themselves while struggling to force their way through.
"Wonder what the other families think about this..."
"Not like they can go against the Zhang Clan, anything is better than those blasted Chens."
"Hope that Patriarch of theirs has a slow death... his bastard kids were always bullying everyone, how many young girls lives did the end?"
The people started rumbling about how the old clan was trash, their bravery kicking in at the moment the city was taken over by the new power.
The Cheng Clan wasn't the only family clan in the city though, it was only the strongest. This city was far too large to have only one big faction to run it, there were many smaller family clans around that were just controlled by the big overlord that was the Cheng Clan. This wasn't anything new, the same thing was also true back in Spirit Spring City. You could say that the Cheng Clan was the Dark Palm sect to these lower clans, but now it was replaced by the Zhangs.
In this city, there were three other powers. There was the Xing Clan they were mostly involved in the more shady businesses having stakes in the pleasure district and the gambling spots around it. Then there was the Kuan Clan they were responsible for the food supply and the farming areas around the city, they would go to the village areas and transport the rice and wheat while taxing the farmers. The last were the people from the Situ Clan, they had a monopoly on the medicine in the area most of the clinics and apothecaries belonged to them.
The three factions kept themselves at bay, but if they ever worked together then they could have been able to compete with the Cheng Clan. That clan in question was focused on strength, so they didn't really need to spread themselves thin with many establishments. They collected taxes from the lower three clans and protected them in response, acting like the military of the city. So they were more like a mafia family that was collecting protection money while running some shady businesses on the side.
But now there was a new tiger in town, the old families used to work with the old Zhang Clan but that family didn't really exist anymore. The new Patriarch was making things clear after one of the businesses owned by the Xing Clan was raided. It was the place old fatty Mu was the owner of, they didn't even come to the Xing Clan to work things out before going into action.
In a certain secluded place, there were three men sitting around a round table. They were looking at the map of Moonlight City, some red marks drawn on it, one in the spot of the slave trader Old Fatty Mu.
"What are they thinking, are they trying to squeeze my Xing Clan for spirit stones?"
Xing Deng the Xing Clan Patriarch spoke up, his fist slamming onto the table while his brows quivered in anger. The people sitting at the table were the Kuan and Situ Clan Patriarchs, the three had called an emergency meeting after the leading family was taken down. They didn't like each other, but when their livelihood was being taken away they would work together.
"My people reported that they want to give free medicine to those useless commoners, preposterous!"
This was the Situ Clan Patriarch named Situ Rong who earned his living by overpricing all medicine that his businesses made, if some renegade pill maker popped up in the city he would be either recruited under this family or removed from the city.
"Damn Zhangs, they want to lower the taxes on the blasted farmers as well and they want to reexamine the quality of the food we produce!"
This was the Patriarch of the third family Kuan Yin, he was also angered. The taxes would be lowered and his family might even have to pay fines if the food didn't meet the Zhang Clan's standards.
"This is just blatant bullying!"
"We must make a decision brothers... do we lose face or do we strike back..."
Xing Deng asked while leaning back, in his mouth was a large cigar and he looked more like a mafia boss than a cultivator. He was the most ruthless from the bunch, he had no qualm in using people as slaves or selling them off for body parts.
"Brother Deng speaks wise words, but I don't think we can fight this clan openly... their Patriarch is just too powerful, he easily defeated Tsai Fang."
Situ Rong spoke up, the man looking like a middle-aged man with the top of his head balding but with some hair on the side.
"But we got word that he was injured after they returned from that secret ground, the state of his cultivation is unknown and he rarely leaves Spirit Spring City."
Kuan Yin chimed in, he was holding a fan covering part of his face he looked the oldest with an unhealthy skin complexion and sunspots. All of them were cultivators in the great circle of foundation establishment. None of them had a core formation expert in their family, but even those kinds of experts could be bought out.
"I say we wait it out, for now, no reason to stick our heads out just yet. Maybe the Zhang Clan will come around, it might be some scheme we don't know about."
Said Situ Rong while looking at the town map, hoping that he was right.
"If they still don't change their minds, then we could hire someone to take care of their Patriarch... I bet if we combine our resources we could hire a powerful expert, I think Brother Deng should have someone in mind?"
Kuan Yin asked while looking in Xin Deng's direction.
"Hm, you speak wise words. It's too soon to act and yes there was a strong expert making a name for himself, he even slew some beasts that were at the very top of the food chain. If I remember correctly... this expert goes by the name of... Lei Yinglo!"
"Oh, that esteemed Senior! I've heard of his tales, he has made a name for himself by slaughtering demonic cultivators and beasts alike... but he won't be cheap."
"Yes, we might have to empty our coffers out, but if there isn't any other possibility..."
"That Patriarch is just a little brat if he doesn't give us any face, then we don't have to give him any either!"
The three Clan Patriarch's chuckled while looking at each other, Xin Deng sticking a dagger in the place that the old Cheng Clan villa was situated and now belonged to the Zhangs. They chatted for a bit more, talking about business-related things while they sealed the deal on their pact. They would wait it out, for now, while gathering information on the new enemy. They weren't against a peaceful solution, but that depended on their bottom line and if the Zhang Clan crossed it or not.
While the three Patriarchs were being their villainous selves an old man was walking down the street. He looked to be in his sixties or seventies with a long white beard, his physique was a bit wide making him look like he worked out at the gym a lot but his baggy robe hid that fact quite well.
The man stopped at a new Apothecary shop that was also used as a clinic. He looked at the blue-robed men and women bringing in various items into the new shop, not even noticing the elderly man that was standing there. He coughed into his hand a bit to get their attention, one of the younger girls finally noticing him as she approached.
"Greetings, how can I help you, Sir?"
The girl asked while looking at the old fart, the man's face was all wrinkled up but he looked quite friendly.
"Ah yes, my name is Wei Hung. I think you should have been informed about me, little missus?"
The man smiled while moving his hands behind his back, hunching forward slightly. The female Zhang member thought for a second and then a lightbulb appeared above her head.
"Ah yes Senior, come come, we have been waiting for you!"
She quickly run into the shop and clapped her hands together so that everyone would turn their heads towards the elder and her, then she spoke out.
"Everyone, this is elder Wei Hung, he will be working as the physician in this shop from now!"
This man had been hired to be the main physician and pill maker of this new free clinic. He would take care of the hard cases that the normal pills or elixirs couldn't cure. From what the younger Zhang members knew, this man was an experienced doctor that was recruited for this job by the Zhang Elders, but in reality, he was their Patriarch in disguise!
Matt knew that being too well known wasn't such a good thing, if he tried walking through the streets of cities or land that he owned he would receive the dogeza treatment. People would line up and clear a path, their faces squished into the ground fearing his wrath. This was also the reason that he used the holograms wanting to appear friendly and approachable.
Still, he knew that he couldn't just go out and do his thing anymore, he had a certain status to uphold. This is where his disguise technique would come into play. He had improved upon it quite a bit, it now being able to mask his aura as well. He wouldn't be recognized by anyone below the nascent soul level, even those would have problems in seeing through it in certain situations.
Why would he disguise himself you might ask. Well, he wanted to improve the happiness of the people in the cities that he owned, but he couldn't just do that as himself. It would seem strange if the Zhang Clan Patriarch just appeared out of nowhere and started teaching people basic skills or healing them with his pills and healing arts.
The situation of this city was tragic, he was even losing points from the way this city was run now. He just bought a diseased animal and was supposed to heal it while parasites still festered in it. They might have gotten rid of the main culprit which was the Cheng Clan, but there were still more people fashioned from the same cloth.
He wanted to pretend to be a lower level cultivator, seaming to be at the foundation establishment middle level. No one would suspect that an old doctor was the Zhang Patriarch in disguise. He could slowly scope out the area and gain some knowledge while also helping the sick and poor out in the process.
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