It was a colored painting hung on the innermost end of the secret chamber.
Bai Qiuling strode over and stood in front of the painted scroll to examine it.
The painting featured a large stage, on which were many performers. Some of them were singing, some of them were sparring.
Many spectators crowded around the stage.
The painted scroll took the vantage point of a member of the audience, as if the viewer of the painting was one of the spectators. The extraordinarily lively stage was right in front of the viewer.
The entire painting was extremely detailed and life-like. Down to the details, everything was as vivid as reality
the grayish white stage the mild gentle sunlight and the rustling leaves in the tree
Bai Qiuling had never seen such a careful and realistic painting style. Compared to such a style, the ink paintings she had seen earlier were too focused on portraying metaphysical intents, and lacked the intense vividness of this painting that shook her to the core.
She felt as if she were truly standing among the crowd at this moment, watching the performances on the stage.
Mesmerized, Bai Qiuling caressed the painted scroll, her fingers inching along its surface. From the perspective of the painted scroll, all of the heads in front were turned towards the stage. There were elderly folk, children, and even the silhouettes of passing horse carriages.
As Bai Qiuling slowly examined the patterns of a bench in the corner of the painting, she suddenly sensed something amiss.
She lifted her head and looked around her.
The secret chamber was deathly still. Not a single sound could be heardnot even the footsteps of any guards outside the chamber.
Shrugging it off, Bai Qiuling returned her gaze onto the painted scroll.
But now, she immediately spotted something bizarre.
In the painted scroll, a long-haired woman, who had been watching the stage performance like the rest of the audience, now had her head turned around and was staring at Bai Qiuling.
Her eyes were like those of a person in real life. Vivid and deep, carrying a hint of a smile, their gaze pierced deep into Bai Qiuling.
Bai Qiuling screamed and stepped backwards, falling to the ground. Cold sweat broke out all over her.
"What whats going on!?" Although she had heard of the paranormal, it was her first personal encounter.
The woman in the painting was still staring at her. Bai Qiulings face turned as white as paper.
"II" tremoring, she tried to stand up. But somehow, despite struggling with all her might, she was unable to.
Her legs had turned into jelly
Suddenly, her elbow knocked into something.
Shivers went down Bai Qiulings spine as she froze in fright.
Slowly and stiffly, she turned her neck. A pair of legs had appeared beside her god-knows-when.
A pair of bright vermillion intricately embroidered shoes was on the feet. Above them was a long red dress.
Bai Qiuling began trembling.
"He help" she tried to cry for help, but no sound escaped her throat.
Without warning, a stern shout rang out beside her ears. Bai Qiulings vision blurred. When she opened her eyes again, she found herself lying supine on the floor of the secret chamber, unmoving. All that had happened were just a dream.
But someone else was now in the secret chamber, holding onto her hands.
"Youre Bai Qiuling??" it was a middle-aged man with a solemn expression on his face.
Bai Qiuling stared at her dumbly. Quickly, she recognized that this was the beggar who kept insisting on having a private talk with her in the day.
"You youre the beggar? How did you get in!?" a trace of fright was mixed with the dazed shock on her face.
"There isnt a single soul outside! I realized something was wrong and so dashed in! Listen, Bai Qiuling. Im here to save you. We mustnt stay here any second longer. Weve got to get out of her as soon as we can!" Li Shunxi quickly explained as he stared at the giant painted scroll, which was covered in a load of talismans which he had put on it.
He pulled Bai Qiulings hand and quickly headed for the door. Throughout the process of retreating, he kept his gaze on that gigantic painted scroll, not daring to let his eyes leave it for a split second.
"Youve come to save me?" Bai Qiuling recovered her breath. She suddenly regained clarity in her mind. What did this man in front of me say earlier?
There isnt a single soul outside at all? Impossible! This is White River Sects headquarters. At every fixed interval, a patrol team will pass by. And the timekeeper will announce the time. Servants will move about and chat with each other.
How could there not be a single soul in the entire headquarters, staffed by several hundred people?
Seeing that she was still dazed, her mind a blur, Li Shunxi bent down to carry her in a princess carry, then headed for the ajar wooden door.
The moment she was lifted off the ground, Bai Qiuling resisted by reflex. All of a sudden, however, she caught sight of a silhouette in a red long dress flashing by in the secret chamber they had just ran out of.
The scream was stuck in her throat. Horrified, she could no longer make a sound as she allowed Li Shunxi to carry her out of the study.
The courtyard outside was completely empty. Only fallen leaves tumbled along the ground in the wind.
Whether they were the patrol team, guards on sentry, servant ladies etc., everyone seemed to have made an agreement to vanish together.
"What what on earth happened!?" Bai Qiuling then recalled that ever since she had entered the study, she had not heard a single sound from outside. She did not even hear the timekeeper announcing the time, not to mention the servant ladies and guards.
"Somethings wrong with one of the items among your fathers collection. Its complicated. Lets talk after we get out!" Li Shunxi carried Bai Qiuling and dashed in a frenzy as he answered her question calmly.
After a period of training, his body was by now much stronger and had much more stamina than before. Additionally, he had already possessed skills to begin with. So, it wasnt taxing for him to run while carrying a person.
"Daddy daddy no, let me down, I need to find daddy!" Bai Qiuling suddenly recalled and resisted vigorously.
By then, the two of them had passed through the arched entrance to the courtyard of the study into a wide corridor with round pillars. The corridor was empty; not a single person was in sight.
Bai Qiulings legs flailed madly about as she scratched Li Shunxis back and screamed.
"LET ME DOWN!!" frightened, she bit hard on Li Shunxis elbow.
Under shock of pain, Li Shunxi involuntarily released his grip. Instantly, he flared up. He had painstakingly infiltrated the manor to save her. And yet, this was the treatment he received.
"Do you want to die!? The entire Twin Eagle City is in grave danger now. Whats the point of finding your daddy!?"
"Thank you for saving me." Bai Qiuling steadied herself and sucked in a deep breath. She took two steps back and stared at Li Shunxi. "But if something has happened in my house, I need to inform my dad as fast as I can."
She was, after all, the daughter of the Sect Master, not an ordinary lady. Instead of breaking down, she calmed herself down and began finding Li Shunxi rather suspicious.
"Youve saved me and White River Sect is indebted to you. Come and find daddy with me. Hes sure to reward you. Whatever you want, as long as its within his means, hell satisfy you."
Li Shunxi looked helpless.
Trouble had befallen White River Sect. Naturally, Bai Zhenming was not spared.
"I dont know you. And I dont know why you would come and save me." Bai Qiuling regained her composure gradually. Although she was still frightened, her thoughts were now clear.
The beggar before her was certainly not a murderer. There were so many men and experts in the headquarters. Just by him alone, there was no way he could make all of them disappear just like that.
If he truly had that kind of power, all he needed to do was to barge in and abduct her. There was no need of him to beat around the bush to lie to her.
Bai Qiulings thoughts quickly turned.
"But now weve met with trouble. If it is truly as you say, that the entire Twin Eagle City is in trouble, then if theres anybody we can count on, it would be my dad."
"Your dad" Li Shunxi did not know whether to say it or not.
Bai Zhenming was powerful indeed. He was an inner and outer force double cultivator. A Spirit Focus pinnacle expert, just a sliver away from Divine Prime.
But such martial power was completely meaningless against demons and devils.
In the destiny he had foreseen, Bai Zhenming died in his own bedroom courtyard, surrounded by ghosts. He had been barely able to resist a few blows before his heart was gouged out by the swarm of ghosts.
"Theres no use even if you go" Lu Shunxi wanted to dissuade her.
But Bai Qiuling had spun around, running away into the distance. She had to inform her dad of what had happened in the study.
And that painting she saw in the secret chamber was too bizarre. Just the thought of it caused her to break out in cold sweat.
She was put to sleep by the painting. This was something that she had never even heard of. Not to mention the woman in the painting and the pair of legs that materialized beside her.
Had it not been for this beggar who had woken her up, perhaps she would not have been able to see her family again.
Ive got to get to daddy as soon as I can! What on earth has happened in the sect!? Bai Qiuling surveyed her surroundings as she ran. But not a single soul was in sight. Terror built in her heart.
"Must you find your dad before youll leave?" Li Shunxi chased after her.
"I dont believe your words." Shocked, Bai Qiuling paused and stepped backwards. She stared at Li Shunxi cautiously. "White River Sects strength is beyond your imagination. Even if some trouble broke out, theres no way that everyone will disappear together!"
Looking at the resolute glint in her eyes, Li Shunxi understood that there was no possibility of her not looking for Bai Zhenming. The thought of knocking her out and taking her away had come to him, but some things couldnt be forced.
"Lets go, Ill come with you." He quickly took out a stack of talismans from his chest.
"What?" Bai Qiuling was stumped.
Lu Sheng and Xu Chui sat in the courtyard leisurely with an urn of wine each. Lu Sheng chatted relaxedly with Xu Chui and advised him on martial arts.
Given Lu Shengs cultivation, it was a piece of cake for him to advise the pinnacle Strength Proficiency Xu Chui.
But what was on his mind was neither his recent recovery nor the questions that Xu Chui kept tossing out, but rather the evil aura that permeated White River Sect.
"Speaking of which, this White River Sect is rather eccentric. Earlier, your subordinate was strolling around in the city to check out if therere any bizarre events nearby for my Lord. I just feel that every single person in Twin Eagle City is a little strange," Xu Chui casually mentioned after he obtained answers to his questions.
"Oh? Strange in what sense?" Lu Sheng had not expected that even Xu Chui would notice it.
"The people here are all lacking in spirit, as if they were severely deprived of sleep. Many of them have deep eye bags I wonder why" Xu Chui frowned.
Lu Shengs eyes narrowed. Suddenly, he recalled the stained glass mirror case that he had investigated in Tea Sect. The people in Tea Sect back then were like that too. Each of them had black circles around their eyes, as if they were short on sleep.
"Oh, come to think of it, what time is it now?"
Xu Chui was stumped, then his face fell.
"In the past few days, the timekeeper would announce the time at fixed intervals every time. But we havent heard it for a while now."
"Perhaps somethings happened." Lu Sheng slowly stood up and stretched his muscles. "Lets go take a look."