After quite some time, Zhuo Feiyang decided to challenge Chu Li again. But just as he was about to make his first move, he was already countered with Chu Li's sword. His face made a terrifying expression.
The sword has pierced the flesh on his shoulder and did not react.
He gritted his teeth and braced himself for what comes next. He did not speak and simply turned around. He ignored everyone including Su Ru and Zhao Ying on his way out as he held onto his injured shoulder. Zhuo Feiyang walked away with shame.
Just as Zhao Ying was about to ascend onto the boat, she gave Chu Li a death stare. She did not know that her senior, Chu Li would be so cunning to the extent that even she was fooled. All her prior worries for him were for nothing.
Chu Li smiled back with a hint of apology embedded on his face.
As he watched the boat disappear from his sight, he turned around and saw Su Ru's beautiful eyes.
Su Ru smiled cheekily, "Chu Li, you have a thing for Zhao Ying, don't you?"
Chu Li responded with a faint smile.
Su Ru giggled, "I can see that Zhuo Feiyang likes her too. If I compared the both of you now, he looks to have the upper hand in this matter."
Chu Li fell silent.
Su Ru smiled and looked at him, "Zhao Ying seems to be very popular."
"She is pretty, courteous and kind-hearted. What men would not want her?" Chu Li let out a long sigh. He was nervous for a second, as he realized that Zhao Ying indeed has not fallen for him.
"Do you think you have a chance?"
"I'll say forget it!" Su Ru couldn't contain her giggles and responded, "You think you can beat Zhuo Feiyang?"
"" Chu Li creased his eyebrows.
Zhuo Feiyang was not only extremely talented but was very handsome as well. The ladies are always very fond of him. Chu Li did not want to lie to himself and admits that he could not beat Zhuo Feiyang in this game. Plus, the ladies prefer types like Zhuo Feiyang; masculine and charming. When compared to him, he was nothing but average.
Fortunately, Zhao Ying isn't like those typical girls. She is kind-hearted and sympathizes towards the weak.
Since Zhuo Feiyang is now labeled as weak, will she turn her sympathy towards him? That is the question.
"Feeling hopeless?" Su Ru smiled as she asked. Her bright eyes watching him intently.
Chu Li shook his head, "I will not give up!"
"Now that's the spirit!" Su Ru smiled, "Giving up doesn't sound like you at all! Do you need my help then?"
This made Chu Li raise an eyebrow.
Su Ru laughed, "You don't believe I can help you?"
"I do, thank you Chief!" Chu Li gave his respects and bowed, "Please, do help me Chief!"
Being unhesitant to ask for help and the willingness to let go of one's ego is the key to win back a girl!
Su Ru giggled and then laughed. She gently shook her head and said, "You boys are so typical"
Chu Li was embarrassed and laughed too. He then replied, "I can't stand by losing the girl that I like to someone! Besides that, Zhuo Feiyang is not a good person. I can't watch Junior Zhao Ying to descend into a hellhole!"
"Do you actually think I would not know what's on your mind?" Su Ru gave a look and added, "You men always think that you're the only one in this world who deserves that one pretty girl and that any other guys don't deserve to be with her!"
Chu Li's lips felt dry.
Su Ru impatiently replied, "Alright, I'm not going to joke around with you anymore. I stopped by to discuss a serious matter."
"Yes!" Chu Li facial expressions instantly became serious.
Su Ru looked around to make sure Lee Yue wasn't there. There were only the two of them standing by the lake. There was a gentle breeze and the waters were calm. The atmosphere was peaceful.
"Can you culture the God's Mane in mass production?"
"If you do not fear in destroying lands, then it won't be a problem."
"Then good, this time we need a great supply of God's Mane and you have to hurry up and produce them!"
"At least twenty acres!"
"Twenty acres!?" Chu Li frowned and looked back at her, "These twenty acres of land will be rendered useless. It will be at least fifty years before they can be recovered!"
"It's best we cultivate them outside the federal Public House. The richer the soils, the better."
"Just as I thought!" Su Ru nodded, and said with a low voice, "You must keep this a secret!"
Chu Li slowly nodded in agreement.
By the look on her face, he could already tell that this is a secret that must not be revealed.
"Near the Millennial Mountains, there is a valley. It is extremely secluded and you may head over to start cultivation of the plant. The soil there is rich as well."
"Yes." Su Ru nodded without hesitation.
"It must be kept a secret, don't draw any unnecessary attention." Su Ru shook her head, "But there is no room for mistake, so that is why I decided to grant you the company of a Protector."
"Another person involved would mean additional risks." Chu Li exclaimed, "So let me do it alone!"
"What if a problem surfaces during progress?" Su Ru gave him look and said, "Do you really think you can handle it?"
Chu Li raised an eyebrow, smiled. He turned his eyes towards the direction where the boat had disappeared from afar.
Su Ru grumbled, "Alright, let Zhao Ying be your company!"
"Thank you, Chief!" Chu Li was on cloud nine. He held his fists together and paid her a grateful sign of respect.
"Humph, you got what you wanted. But if this business is wrecked, I will demote you by two ranks and Zhao Ying will be demoted to the lowest!"
"When you encounter any trouble, you would know what to do. Correct?"
"Don't worry, Chief, I will never expose our identities!"
"Good!" Su Ru nodded in satisfaction. For Su Ru, giving this task to Chu Li could be considered as a test for him, to see if he was as useful as he precedes to be.
Dawn approached the south gate of the Federal Public House.
Under the warm sunlight, the two brass lions in green almost seem alive under the golden glow. It gave the illusion as if the giant statues could rise and pounce on people.
Zhao Ying was donned in an azure green dress while her crimson red horse stayed alongside her. She stood quietly beside one of the giant lions as her bright eyes were transfixed at the gates.
The day was still young as no one was passed through the gates. Zhao Ying's thin, elegant eyebrows furrowed from time to time. She seemed curious about her upcoming mission.
The moment she received her mission, the only detail disclosed to her was that she would be escorting a person. She would go undercover and the nature of the mission could not be told to anyone else. Moreover, no one told her who she was tasked to escort. She is only instructed to wait for their arrival at the south gate of the Public House during the break of dawn.
She was curious, but at the same time excited. It has been such long time since she was sent out on a mission.
Questions kept flooding her mind. She did not know how many people would be involved in this mission. Neither does she know who she will be protecting. Maybe it could be someone from the higher ranks. Only a big shot would need someone like her to cover their tracks. It's always the same story, they're either afraid of people snooping about their business or the fear of intervention. This is where Zhao Ying comes in.
The Federal Government House is considered a giant figure in the eyes of the world. Their fame and honor have spread far across the globe and to faraway provinces. But all these achievements were built from a molehill of skulls. The government had a lot of enemies and were well-known to eliminate them. Those people with inner strength and skills of the spiritual arts are mostly cold-blooded and vengeful in nature. They would risk losing their lives just for the sake of vengeance. That is why those in the higher ranks need protection or to cover their tracks. Once their motives are revealed, it would attract savages who would stop them at all cause.
Zhao Ying herself was merely a Rank nine Protector. This was her first experience in embarking on a secret mission such as this. She felt thrilled and her eyes beamed with joy. She had waited for quite a long time for their arrival but that did not diminish her patience.
Suddenly, she saw Chu Li from afar. She nervously waved her petite hands at him, signaling him to not come over. She thought to herself, "Go away, there is no need to come over to say hi."
But then, a question flashed across her mind. Why has Chu Li brought a horse with him? He looked like he had planned out to go to town as well. Despite that, she didn't mind him as she was anticipating for someone else to appear. She clearly didn't want to miss her clients and leave a bad first impression.
Chu Li guided his crimson red horse over and slowly arrived in front of Zhao Ying.
Zhao Ying's bright eyes looked around for a moment and then she lowered her voice. She hissed, "Senior Chu Li, what are you doing!?"
Chu Li smiled, "Sun Junior Zhao Ying, who are you waiting for?"
"Nobody!" said Zhao Ying as she tried to cover up her anxiety.
She reminded herself that this mission is extremely confidential. She could not disclose the slightest information to anyone.
Chu Li shook his head and his smile disappeared, "You are waiting for me, aren't you?"
"Nonsense! I am not waiting for anybody!" Zhao Ying exclaimed in a silly manner. She waved her hands again and shooed him away. "Senior Chu Li, whatever it is that you want to talk about, let's do it some other day, shall we? Now go on, you can carry on with your business as I will leave this place soon!"
Chu Li licked his dry lips.
Zhao Ying looked confused and gave him a puzzled stare.
Chu Li again smiled and replied, "Sun Junior Zhao Ying, the person that you have been waiting for, is me."
"Senior Chu Li ------!" Zhao Ying stomped lightly in embarrassment, her face blushed red.
Chu Li followed up, "Your mission this time, is to escort me!"
"What ------?" Zhao Ying's eyes widened.
Chu Li nodded repeatedly, "Yes, that's right. It's me. You have to protect me on this secret mission."
"It's really you?" Zhao Ying blinked her eyes in disbelief and stared back at him with her mouth agape.
Chu Li laughed, "Didn't you notice your mission statement? Wasn't there a word "Li" at the end of the page?
Zhao Ying was startled, her eyes looked blank.
Chu Li said, "You have the official seal of the government with you, correct?"
Zhao Ying nodded.
"You cannot take it with you, leave it back at your place. For this mission, we are not allowed to bring along anything that may give away our identities."
"So it really is you?" Zhao Ying seemed disappointed enough to ask again.
Chu Li stopped smiling, and said, "Hurry up, we should depart while it's still early."
"Will there be any other more Protectors?"
"No, it is just you. You hold a huge responsibility!"
"But, why me?"
"I will explain to you on the way, now hurry up!" Chu Li waved at her.
Zhao Ying gave her a look. She turned towards the gates and walked inside. In the blink of an eye, she was nowhere to be found.
After a while, she returned. "Alright, let's go!"
They rode on their horses and started their journey, side by side.
The Federal House's south gate was, in fact, the north gate of Chong Lee Yuning city. The two strolled along the city square as they were surrounded by a busy crowd; the city looked to be hectic. The whole of Chong Lee Yuning city resembled a day market, but today with more people than usual.
"So, why only me?"
"To avoid unnecessary attention. The two of us could easily pass off as a couple. No one would suspect us."
" Nobody agreed to be your partner!"
"I am just a Rank nine Protector. My skills aren't amazing." Zhao Ying shyly admitted.
This was her first ever secret mission, and one requiring such secrecy too. Undercover missions normally offer rewards worth 3 times more than usual missions. Not everyone gets a chance to have a go at it. She couldn't stop thinking to herself, that logically, she shouldn't be qualified for this kind of mission.
"It is best to avoid using your inner strength and skills as much as possible." Chu Li said as he sat on his horse, steering it sluggishly.
"What about when we face trouble in the future?"
"One word ------ run!"
"Then why am I even here!"
"To disguise yourself as my love interest!"
"Senior Chu Li ------!" Zhao Ying was clearly dissatisfied with his answer. She glared at him.
"Sun Junior Zhao Ying, do you not want to accept this mission?" Chu Li smiled and said, "If you really refuse to take it, I can swap you for someone else."
Zhao Ying gave him a look and sneered, "I didn't say I did not want to do it, okay?"
Chu Li continued, "You won't hate me for this, right?
"Hate you for what?"
"I defeated Zhuo Feiyang, don't you feel sorry for him?"
"What nonsense, who said that!" Zhao Ying added, "It's just a friendly battle. Senior Zhuo Feiyang is an inner strength genius, it won't be long before he defeats you back. It is not nice of you to take pride in that, senior Chu Li!"
"Who said Zhuo Feiyang can take me down?"
Zhao Ying stopped herself. She did not want to open up old scars. He was deemed weak due to lack of basic training and therefore unworthy of practicing the inner strength arts. It was such a pity. Zhao Ying did not dare mention it.
Chu Li laughed, "Sun Junior Zhao Ying, do you like Zhuo Feiyang?"
Zhao Ying gave him an evil eye and did not reply.
Chu Li shook his head and sighed, "God has given Zhuo Feiyang with such a lovely face. Everyone is so fond of him. Sigh I just didn't expect that even you, Junior Zhao Ying, to judge someone by their looks too."
"Senior Chu Li, stop uttering gibberish will you?! Who told you I'm like that?" Zhao Ying corrected him, "And I am not fond of senior Zhuo Feiyang!"
"Anyone could tell that you like him!"
"Nonsense!" Zhao Ying was annoyed, "I am just learning from him for the sake of improving my inner strength skills!"
"Learning from me is better than learning from him!" Chu Li laughed disapprovingly. "People like him only know how to lock himself away and train alone. If you have never read the books religiously like him, your knowledge of the inner strength will fall short by a great margin!"
"Senior Chu Li, they call it training. It's because you need to train with your own two hands and not solely depend on books!" Zhao Ying bombarded.
Chu Li again shook his head and said, "Junior Zhao Ying, if you have this mindset then you're wrong."
The two of them debated and debated until their horses to escape to a crowd nearby. However, it was the two individuals that drew out people's attention from their presence. Chu Li obviously was not the most handsome men in the world, but he did exhibit a commanding aura. Zhao Ying, on the other hand, was a fine beauty, and they both looked really look the part for a couple.
Chu Li kept his cool and went to retrieve his horse. He saddled up and continued the long stroll, savoring the hustle and bustle of life around him. It had been long since he last felt this calm and relaxed. Ever since he had possessed the Ku-Rung scriptures, and constructed himself the foundation for practicing inner strength, his mind has felt less muddled.His heart was less heavy and he could finally let go of his worries.
Zhao Ying exclaimed, "Senior Chu Li, how am I wrong?"
Chu Li explained, "You lot think that the inner strength skills that you're practicing are one of its kind. That, in context, is just repeating the mistakes of those before us. Inside the Sacred Temple lies a lot of meditation notes which records the spiritual findings of those who have trained. All of you ignored reading those, and resorted to experimenting the inner strength by yourselves instead"
He shook his head midway, and disappointingly said, "That, is just a waste of time!"
"Exploring the inner strength yourselves makes the experience more vivid!" Zhao Ying defended herself.
Chu Li denied it, "If we did according to what you claim, we don't even need a Guru. Why don't we just sit down at home and practice it ourselves!"
"Humph, I will not argue with you that!" Zhao Ying had run out of valid points to say.
Chu Li diverted the topic and asked, "Sun Junior Zhao Ying, the skill that you had been practicing is it the "Flight of the Sparrows" swordsman technique?"
"Show it to me when you're free."
"Senior Chu Li, you know of the technique too?"
"A little bit. I have read about it on several meditation archives."
"Great." Zhao Ying replied, unimpressed. She wanted to see for herself. Maybe he was only pulling her leg!