Liu Caiyun fell hard from the racing horse, landing on the black muddy ground. She came to a stop only after tumbling more than ten rounds, then groaned in pain, completely exhausted of all strength.
"Hurry, run!!" Liu Caiyun took a last gaze at her sister and Li Shunxi who were dashing madly ahead. She bit hard on her lip as her vision blurred.
A streak of dark gray shadow shot past her, followed closely by a second and third streak.
"What do we do with the one on the ground?"
"Hers has already been transferred. Shes no longer of any value. Kill her," another replied.
Liu Caiyuns eyes widened. Before she could make a sound, pain stabbed into the back of her neck, and her world went dark.
Still on horseback, Liu Qin realized that her sister had fallen off her horse. She released a heartbreaking howl, her eyes brimming with tears.
Tears welled up in Li Shunxis eyes too. Still, he gripped tightly onto Liu Qins hand.
"Lets go! Only alive can we avenge Caiyun!" he shouted.
"CAIYUN!!!" Liu Qin screamed in anguish. But still, she did not wrestle free of Li Shunxis grip.
A circle of blurry colorful light radiated out from her, enveloping Li Shunxi within it. In the blink of an eye, both of them had vanished completely out of sight in the woods.
"Theyre gone! Its the Jade of Secrets!" Streaks of gray shadows landed on where they had disappeared.
"Liu Familys Jade of Secrets is on them indeed! And its been activated!" one of them said grimly.
"With our forces and manpower, its very difficult to surround and capture them," another replied.
"Why didnt we take the girl earlier hostage and use her to threaten them?"
"Its futile. Liu Family members will never give in to threats. Weve tried such things no less than ten times."
"The Officiator of this place has met with mishap. For the time being, its unwise to invade this place en masse."
"What do we do then?"
"Well work with Scarlet District. The District Mistress of Scarlet District has yet to return. But, the ghosts under their Deputy District Mistress are known for their speed. We just need them to locate their whereabouts."
"Drip drip drip"
Icy cold droplets of water fell on Liu Qins lips. The moisture gradually woke her from her coma.
"Cough cough cough cough"
Right after waking up, Liu Qin turned her head aside immediately and was seized by a fit of violent coughs.
"How are you? Are you alright?" Lin Shunxi looked at her worriedly, a chipped porcelain bowl in his hand.
They seemed to be in some kind of a cave. The crackling sound of fire rang in her ears, and warmth pervaded the cave.
"Caiyun" Liu Qins thoughts right after waking up immediately flew to her own sister. Both of them were all that was left of the Liu Family. Yet, tragically, they were still caught up with by those demons of Ashoka Manor. In the end, her sister died in the remote wilds, denied even the right to have her ashes buried in the familys mountain tomb.
Each time she thought of the days she and her sister spent relying on each other, Liu Qin was overwhelmed with grief. Her tears flowed down from the corners of her eyes unstoppably.
"ASHOKA MANOR! I, LIU QIN, SWEAR TO DESTROY YOU DOWN TO YOUR ROOTS!!" gnashing her teeth, Liu Qin shouted with all her might.
Aside, Li Shunxis face was a picture of grim.
"Ashoka Manor destroyed my family. If there was truly an opportunity for revenge, I certainly wouldnt let it past. But just with our strength, how can we ever match up to such a massive force?"
"You want to give up!?" Liu Qin glared at Li Shunxi.
"No, Im not giving up. But, Im just an ordinary man. I cant do anything. Ive got no power to do anything" Li Shunxi bowed his head in pain, his fists clenched tightly together.
"No you have the thing Caiyun gave you on your bodyher most precious gift youve long since ceased to be an ordinary man," Liu Qin said coldly.
"What thing?" Li Shunxi lifted his head, stunned.
"Its the top grade Divine Weapon that belongs to my Liu Familythe Jade of Secrets." Liu Qin calmed her emotions. "The Jade of Secrets was shared between my sister and me; each of us carried half of it. As long as we worked together, we could activate its ability and see what the average person cannot see.
How else do you think Caiyun and I fled here all their way from Yun Province? Why else do you think Ashoka Manor has been hunting us relentlessly? Now that half of the Jade is on you, youll end up like us in the futurehunted down for the rest of your life."
"Ashoka Manor has long been my sworn foe anyway. It makes no difference. But Jade of Secrets? Seeing what the average person cannot?" Li Shunxis expression turned serious as he asked in puzzlement.
"How did you think my sister and I got these blisters? When you see too many things, youve got to eventually pay the price for it." Liu Qins eyes were cold. "Now that you bear a Divine Weapon, even though youre neither a Divine Weapon Master nor a descendant of a Divine Weapon Master, you can still borrow some of its power appropriately."
"Whats the use?" Li Shunxi could not understand. If the Jade of Secrets was truly so powerful, this pair of sisters would not have been hunted like dogs such that they were completely powerless against Ashoka Manor.
"Just use it once and youll quickly understand" Liu Qins eyes fell into a shade of loneliness.
"How do I use it?" Seeing the solemn look on her face, Li Shunxi turned solemn as well.
Under the glow of the bonfire, both their shadows were cast against the wall of the cave, flickering and dancing like two demons.
"Come give me your hand" Liu Qin stretched out her hand towards Li Shunxi.
Li Shunxi extended his right hand and placed it gently on Liu Qins blister-covered palm.
"Remember to avenge my sister and me against Ashoka Manor" suddenly, Liu Qin flashed a beautiful smile at Li Shunxi.
Her entire body exploded without warning, turning into a ball of blood mist which flew towards and entered Li Shunxi.
"LIU QIN!!" Li Shunxi was frozen in dumb shock. By the time he registered what had happened, it was too late.
Tears gushed out from his eyes like water from a broken dam. During their time together, he had grown fond of Liu Qin. Because Liu Caiyun liked him too, however, they did not really grow close to each other despite their feelings.
He could tell that Liu Qin did not originally look like this and swore to find a way to treat her face.
But... things had changed too quickly.
First was the Martial Leagues screening for traitors. Pandemonium broke out and everyone was suspicious of each other.
Followed closely by that was the discovery of a series of evidence at his living quarters that pointed to him being a murderer. There was even correspondence found between him and some mysterious external faction.
Immediately, he wished to see the League Master... only to be told that the League Master had entered solitary confinement and would not meet anyone. That very night, a gang of gray-robed men barged into their living quarters and heavily injured the Liu Sisters.
Astonishingly, not a single guard in the Martial League had been alerted. Without time for further thought, they were forced to leave the Martial League and flee for their lives.
They dashed off on horseback. And then, that earlier scene happened.
"Liu Qin" Li Shunxi bent over in agony, trying in vain to hug the empty space before him. Liu Qins body, just right in front of him a second earlier, was now completely gone. Only scraps of her clothes were left.
"I will avenge both of you!" He watched as the blood mist formed by Liu Qin entered his hands rapidly.
Suddenly, his field of vision transformed.
Li Shunxis eyes widened as he saw images and scenes which he had never before imagined
Time trickled past. Soon, beads of perspiration emerged on his forehead.
"Thats White River Sect" gazing at the massive banner flapping in the wind in his vision, he mumbled the name on it.
"Found them! Theyre right around this area!!" Shouts rang out from outside the cave.
After returning from the temple, Lu Sheng sent Chen Yunxi home and quickly rushed back to the headquarters of Crimson Whale Sect.
That same night, he found his Senior Apprentice Brother Hong Mingzi.
"Martial League? So, Junior Apprentice Brother, are you going?" Senior Apprentice Brother looked unsurprised; he clearly already knew of Martial League.
"What do you think, Senior Apprentice Brother?" Lu Sheng replied with a question.
"Im afraid its a trap. In the Crimson Whale and Mountain-Edge City, youre safely nestled in Shangyang Familys realm of influence. But once you leave this place for Martial League
Such secret organizations must be hidden in very concealed locations. Even if some mishap were to happen to you there, Shangyang Jiuli wouldnt be able to find any leads," Hong Mingzi fondled his beard. "I suggest you lay low and observe the situation. Its bound to unfold further. That letter asking for help probably wasnt written by her in person either. If your friends truly need your help, theyll come to Mountain-Edge City."
Lu Sheng nodded in agreement while being seated in the study.
"Senior Apprentice Brother is right. I find this letter suspicious as well. Whether its Li Shunxi or the Liu Family sisters, Ive had contact with them. Whats most suspicious is that the Liu Family sisters know me personally. Surely they wouldnt use a tone reserved for strangers to ask for my help on behalf of Li Shunxi."
"As long as Junior Apprentice Brother sees it soberly. But, what you can do is to deploy more informants from the sect to keep a lookout for Li Shunxis whereabouts. Once hes been discovered, Junior Apprentice Brother can then decide what to do. Martial League and Ashoka Manor have a death feud between them. But, as Shangyang Familys vassal, our position is one of neutrality. As long as you dont act out of line too openly, given your strength, nothing bad will happen no matter what you do," Hong Mingzi advised.
"Thank you for your guidance, Senior Apprentice Brother," Lu Sheng nodded and the matter passed.
The two of them continued chatting, this time discussing how to expand Crimson Sun Sect.
"The intrusion into the contest and the wounding of the upper management in the sect with one move previously has affected the disciples and sect members significantly," Hong Mingzi remarked helplessly.
"Theres nothing we can do about that. Apart from the very peak experts, no mortal can make up for the difference between mortals and the supernatural," Lu Sheng replied calmly. "With Senior Apprentice Brothers rich experience, surely youve met similar situations in the past? How did you handle them?"
Hong Mingzi pinched his beard.
"Disciples in the sect need to re-evaluate their position and strength. Its rare for them to encounter demons and ghosts, since they spend most of their lives within the domain of mortal life. So, all we need to do is to pull them back into the environment of normal life and let them see themselves relative to their surroundings."
"Oh? Senior Apprentice Brother means?" Lu Sheng stared at Hong Mongzi in surprise. He was quite the crafty old man to learn such sophisticated management techniques all by himself.
"Exchange." Hong Mingzi grinned. "In the past, what we did was to organize martial arts exchanges with other sect. They just need to spar with a few others to understand that we, Crimson Whale Sect, are no weaklings. In fact, not only are we no weaklings, were very strong. Confidence has always come from success and victory, hasnt it?" He winked at Lu Sheng.
Hi guys! Today (Tuesday) was supposed to be the break for the week but I've postponed it to tomorrow! The next chapter will resume on Thursday! It'll come quickly! :)