That night, You XiaoMo doesn't wait for Ling Xiao to return and just goes to sleep. After rushing about the whole day, when his head touches the pillow, he soon faints *hu hu* into a dead sleep. He doesn't even know when Ling Xiao returns.
The next day, before daylight, You XiaoMo is awakened by a loud banging at the door along with a familiar voice calling out. So noisy that his two ears start to buzz *weng weng*. With his eyes closed, he uses one of his hands to cover his ears and continues to sleep.
Ling Xiao opens his eyes and lowers his head catching sight of a downy black head again using his chest as a pillow.
The owner of that head is again like the previous night, like a eight legged octopus wrapped around his body. Outside, the banging sound is like a gong and yet he is sleeping like a dead pig. Ling Xiao glances outside the window and sees that it is still dark. On top of that, he slept relatively late last night, no wonder he is so dead asleep.
Ling Xiao carefully moves You XiaoMo aside. After getting off the bed, he wraps the quilt around his body. Having lost the warm cozy heat source, You XiaoMo's body shivers involuntarily and buries half his face into the quilt. The other exposed half is bright red and extremely eye-catching. Ling Xiao can't stop himself from giving him a pinch. The soft and silky feel almost makes him not want to leave.
After tucking him in, Ling Xiao slips on a set of clothes and goes to open the door.
The person knocking on the door is Luo Xia. Probably because something big happened, he is so anxious that his whole head is covered in sweat. When Ling Xiao opens the door, he almost couldn't stop himself from knocking on his chest. Seeing him come out, he immediately shouts out almost spraying his saliva.
"Elder brother, it's really bad. Elder Jiang is in trouble!"
"Hold on a second."
Ling Xiao's expression changes a little. He utters those words and immediately turns around and heads into the inner room to change his clothes.
Upon entering the inner room, he immediately sees that You XiaoMo who should have been sleeping snugly in the quilt now has one arm hanging out. The delicate fair arm looks like a woman's, slender and even like a lotus root. One look and it's obvious that he has not undergone physical training before.
Ling Xiao is suddenly displeased that he is so thin and weak. If he is this weak, what would happen if he can't run away from enemies?
A certain someone at this moment in time completely doesn't realize that he has started to worry endlessly about You XiaoMo's future.
Right then, You XiaoMo that was fast asleep suddenly crawls and sits up. Both his eyes are at a loss as he looks at Ling Xiao who is standing in front of the wardrobe. Ling Xiao obviously did not expect him to suddenly wake up. He has just taken off his clothes and has yet to put on another. His strong sturdy chest is simply exposed in mid-air.
Ling Xiao sees that he doesn't make any move after getting up so he is just about to say something when he hears his questioning voice.
"Yi, was there someone knocking on the door just now?"
" ....... "
Ling Xiao thinks that this reaction is a little too slow.
You XiaoMo doesn't wait for him to reply and looks out the window at the sky outside. Seeing that it is gray and overcast with no sign of the sun, he pulls up the quilt and lies back down. The whole process happens fluidly, the bulging quilt only revealing a tuft of black hair.
Ling Xiao, " ....... "
After a while, Luo Xia that was shut outside the door knocks lightly, "Elder brother, are you ready?"
Ling Xiao quickly finishes dressing up and walks out of the room, closing the door gently behind him before leaving with Luo Xia. Luo Xia is here under the orders of the Grand Master to bring Ling Xiao over to talk about the situation with Elder Jiang. On the way, Luo Xia tells Ling Xiao everything he knows.
In brief, Elder Jiang probably ran into some trouble. Yesterday, after the competition ended, Elder Jiang and Grand Master left together. The both of them talked about matters relating to the competition for an hour before Elder Jiang left. The Grand Master had thought that Elder Jiang should have returned to his room. Actually, everyone thought the same.
Unexpectedly this morning, before daybreak, a disciple went to his room to call him and found that he was not in his room.
Elder Jiang is in charge of the competition so there are a lot of things for him to do. Hence, he usually gets up rather early. That disciple discovered that Elder Jiang still had not woken up when it was already three quarters through the Mao period, so he went to wake him.
Discovering that Elder Jiang is not there and also not with the other Elders, that disciple realizes that something is not right and goes to inform the Grand Master. The Grand Master immediately sends people to go find him. In the end, they find Elder Jiang's jade tablet on an overhanging cliff. The Grand Master and the other Elders suspect that Elder Jiang was most probably killed so the call everyone together. Ling Xiao as the Grand disciple or course must attend.
"You all must already know why I called all of you here today. I want to hear what you all think with respect to the disappearance of Elder Jiang."
Tang Fan speaks calmly. His expression completely doesn't reflect that TianXin sect has just lost an important Elder. After saying this, his eyes fall onto the first position on his lower right, Ling Xiao, "Young Xiao, you go first."
Ling Xiao stands up and cups his hands while speaking, "Grand Master, I feel that we must first make sure whether Elder Jiang is missing or whether he has already been killed. Your disciple knows too little so has no way to judge for now."
Tang Fan doesn't nod nor shake his head. He looks at the others, "Do you all also think this way?"
Hearing this, the junior brothers that usually have a good relationship with Ling Xiao all nod their head and express their agreement. As for Lei Ju who is next to Ling Xiao, his face shows a rather obvious look of disdain.
"Lei Ju, you don't seem to have the same opinion as Young Xiao. Are you saying that you have a different viewpoint?"
Tang Fan is the first to notice Lei Ju's expression but he doesn't show any displeasure.
"Replying to Grand Master. Lei Ju thinks that it doesn't matter if Elder Jiang is missing or killed. It is enough to show that there are some people that harbor evil intentions here. Everyone here are must still remember the pandemonium that occurred not too long ago. It was said that many sects rooted out demon spies from among their ranks. Although no demons were discovered in TianXin sect, it doesn't mean there aren't any. So in my opinion, Elder Jiang's disappearance is probably connected to the demons.
Lei Ju cups his hands towards Tang Fan, his eyes full of rebellious rays. He then looks at Ling Xiao in a threatening way.
"What Lei Ju says is reasonable, but one mustn't be too impulsive to avoid making everyone anxious."
Tang Fan is calm, not revealing the tiniest bit of his thoughts. On the surface, he agrees with his viewpoint but underneath he attacks. This move is with one calls the peak of perfection.
"Thank you for the guidance Grand Master."
Lei Ju cups his hands once again, not the least bit of discomfort showing on his face. Instead he glances smugly at Ling Xiao. Compared to the brief words from Ling Xiao that don't seem to say anything, he feels that his is a better answer.
After Lei Ju sits down, Elder Xiao on the opposite side, who is also his Master, opens his mouth.
"Elder brother Grand Master, I suspect that there are spies in the Central lineage. Elder Jiang's disappearance must be taken seriously."
Tang Fan's gaze sweeps across everyone that is present, saying "We found signs of fighting where Elder Jiang disappeared. One of those involved is Elder Jiang. I'm afraid it looks more grim than hopeful. But for this person to actually be able to match Elder Jiang's strength, I suspect that the murderer is one of us here."
Hearing these words, everyone in attendance show varied expressions.
The shrewd and experienced elders don't show any change in their expressions. As for the few younger disciples, all their thoughts are written on their faces.
Elder Du who is next to Elder Xiang laughs like the Laughing Buddha, as if unaffected by the atmosphere. Stroking his tuft of gray beard, he easily breaks the tense atmosphere, "Among us, the ones that can match Junior brother Jiang's strength, other than us, are only Young Lin Xiao and Young Lei Ju."
"Du YunCai, what are you implying? Are you saying that my disciple is the killer?"
Elder Xiao immediately speaks up angrily.
"Elder Xiao, there is no need to get angry. You know very well that I am just talking about the possibilities."
Du YunCai laughs until his eyes narrow into slits as he speaks.
Elder Jiang still wants to object but is cut off calmly by Tang Fan, "What Elder Du said is reasonable. Lin Xiao and Lei Ju have outstanding talent, indeed able to go one round with Elder Jiang. In order to prove that they have nothing to do with the disappearance of Elder Jiang, we only have to ask them where they were when Elder Jiang disappeared. That would be good enough."
"I'll go first."
Lei Ju is the first to stand up.
"Elder Jiang must have disappeared about three quarters through the Xu period. So from Xu period to Hai period, where were you, and is there anyone that can confirm it?"
Tang Fan's eyes are like cold blades, gleaming coldly at Lei Ju. The calmness from before changes instantly to subtly threatening.
Lei Ju's expression changes sharply, saying seriously, "During this time I was with a few of my junior brothers. We were talking about the the next day's competition right up to a quarter past the Xu period. After that I returned to the room. At that time, the one rooming with me Junior brother Jiang Liu was already in the room. He can confirm that after I returned to the room I was in deep meditation, not taking a single step out of the room."
"Elder Du, I'll have to trouble you."
Tang Fan nods towards Du YunCai.
The Laughing Buddha Elder Du feels rather regretful than he can no longer enjoy this drama. But he knows the seriousness of the matter so he gets up and cups his hands towards Tang Fan, and leaves the main hall to look for Jiang Liu.
"Next is Young Lin's turn."
Elder Xiao's threatening gaze turns towards Ling Xiao that is sitting at the top seat.
From the time Ling Xiao entered until now, his performance is worthy or praise. Not too noticeable yet not insignificant. No sign of panic or unease. Leaving no thread of the spider of trails of the horse for the few people that are constantly observing him.
Hearing Elder Xiao's words, Ling Xiao stands up and says easily, "Answering Grand Master. From Xu period to Hai period, I was together with Junior brother You. At that time he was refining magic pills next to me. He can serve as my witness."
"Elder Xiao, I'll have to trouble you to bring You XiaoMo here." says Tang Fan.
"Yes, Grand Master!"
Elder Xiao stands up and cups his hands. Before leaving the main hall, he looks inscrutably at Ling Xiao.
Mao period - 5:00-7:00
pure blue cauldron flame - peak of perfection
Xu period - 19:00-21:00
Hai period - 21:00-23:00
thread of the spider, trails of the horse - clues