Mulin's hands were crossed behind his back as he stood at the entrance of the main lounge.
He was looking at the sky above.
A huge gust of wind whirled above Wind Tower.
The storm casted a giant shadow over the Island of Symphony. The trees shook, and petals were blown off the flowers.
Dark ominous rainclouds loomed above Wind Tower. It painted the stretch of sky within a mile's range from the tower dark. But the sky outside the one-mile radius remained clear and bright. It was as if a drop of ink had fell onto a piece of white paper.
Mulin looked very worried.
Lin Quan neared him and asked, "Elder Guo, what's going on?"
"Don't tell me, that Young Chu had really succeeded?" Mulin creased his eyebrows and mumbled to himself.
Zhao Qingshan opened his eyes and walked outside. "What do you mean succeeded? Don't tell me, he performed the Eclipse Purloin technique?"
"The sky looked strange. That could be the only explanation." Mulin replied.
"I thought you said, that only an enlightened master could pull it off?" Zhao Qingshan asked.
He knew very well the vast difference between the boundaries of innate mastery and enlightened mastery. There was a huge gap in between the two.
"I'm not quite sure." Mulin shook his head. He could hear the storm brewing from afar, each thunderclap sounding closer than ever. "This young man is full of surprises. It could very well be, that he had really succeeded. But if that's the case, he's doomed!"
"Boom..." The thunder was now directly above their heads.
They were conversing, until they saw the three Xiao siblings walking down the stairs.
"Second Lady!" The three men were shocked.
Siao Shi was supported by Siao Qi on her way down the stairs, her face looking as pink as a healthy person, her eyes gleaming brightly. She was truly gorgeous!
Siao Shi smiled at the three men, then asked Mulin, "Elder Guo, what had Chu Li done?"
"He had performed the Eclipse Purloin technique. All of us should leave this place right now!" Mulin's facial expressions looked grim, as he pointed outside the tower, "There will be a huge storm coming at us!"
"Will he be safe?" Siao Shi asked.
Mulin let out a light cough, then turned his head around, "Master Siao, Third Lady, we can't risk losing any more time. Has everyone evacuated the tower?"
"Elder Guo, what about Chu Li?" Siao Shi stared directly into Mulin's eyes.
Mulin shook his head, "He had chosen this path himself!"
"Then let's make a move!" Siao Qi said calmly, "Don't let him sacrifice for nothing."
Siao Tieying lifted his head and glanced at the third floor, then sighed, "Let's get going, at least he still has the Spirit Blessing Pill..."
He shook his head after he finished speaking. He knew very well, that the Spirit Blessing Pill was not a stroke of Divine. For one, it did not save his second sister's life.
"Boom..." The thunder erupted loudly above them. Wind Tower was shaking violently, so was the ground below.
Siao Qi pulled on Siao Shi's sleeves and prompted her to get out of the tower. Everyone else followed and retreated out of a hundred-meter's range.
Every stretch of landscape within a mile's radius of the Wind Tower was enveloped in darkness. But outside the circle of darkness, at the unaffected regions, there was still light. Hence, they were still able to see clearly. The scene looked just like when the night was brightly illuminated by lanterns.
"Ke Cha!" a single, silver, Z-shaped stroke of lightning shot out from the clouds, striking the Wind Tower.
The glass panes on the rooftop of Wind Tower was disintegrated into ashes, which then spread out with the wind.
"Boom..." The thunder was deafening, rocking every inch of soil nearby.
Siao Shi instinctively covered her ears. She felt like she was about to get ripped apart by the loud thunder.
Siao Qi took a few steps forward. She wanted to hop up into the sky and levitate towards the third floor, just to check out on Chu Li. She prayed that the lightning would not hit her.
"Ke Cha!" Before she could make her way into Wind Tower, another bolt of lightning struck down.
By that time, she was already mid-air. The lightning had illuminated the third floor. Through the windows, she could vaguely make out Chu Li's figure in the room. He was still alive!
She let out a sigh of relief, then landed back onto the ground as the thunder rumbled again.
"How was it?" Siao Tieying asked worriedly.
Siao Qi nodded gently, "He was still dodging the lightning."
Siao Shi said, "He's very skilled at levitation, he'll make it!"
Mulin shook his head and sighed.
Zhao Qingshan looked at him.
Mulin said, "It's useless. If lightning was so easy to dodge, then why couldn't the previous enlightened masters make it?... This is only the beginning; the ferocity would gradually increase. He won't be able to survive the subsequent hits."
"No one has ever survived?" Siao Qi asked curiously.
Mulin nodded grimly, "As far as I know, no one!"
Siao Qi looked extremely worried, while Siao Shi gritted hardly on her teeth. They watched the Wind Tower intently.
By the time they had finished their conversation, there were already several bolts of lightning hitting the tower. The loud thunder crackled above them.
The time gap between each lightning strike reduced gradually. Before a Z-shaped bolt could disappear, another one would emerge. Almost simultaneously, a third one shot down too. There were altogether three Z-shapes appearing on ominous cloud at the same time.
As time passed, the number of Z's emitted from the clouds increased. Towards the end, there were a total of ten Z's at one strike. The lightning bolts struck the tower hard. From afar, the scene looked like ten swords were piercing the tower.
The roof of Wind Tower was blown away, but the walls were still intact. The windows were casted out too, and it provided them a view of Chu Li dodging the lightning strikes. He was dancing with death.
The crowd gripped their palms hard, and cold shivers trickled down their spine. Their hearts were pounding loudly.
The lightning strikes became more and more focused. They now merged together as a single giant bolt of electricity, which looked impossible to avoid. Chu Li was nowhere to be seen.
They held their breath and watched as the onslaught continued. At that moment, it did not matter at all how blinding the flashes of lightning were. They still stared at the tower without blinking.
The focused bolt of lightning looked extremely deadly.
Suddenly, everything in front of them became dark. The bolt of lightning disappeared from the sky. The bright flashes of the lightning were gone, and the sky turned into pitch-black darkness. Their hearts sank too.
Minutes later, there was still no lightning. Then, it happened The dark clouds started to dissipate.
"It's over?" Siao Shi mumbled softly.
Siao Qi levitated towards the third floor of the tower.
The warm rays of sunlight crept down without any obstruction from clouds. The third floor looked to be empty, as everything inside was disintegrated into ashes. Only the flooring and the walls were still there, but they were charred. The roof and the windows were gone. Chu Li too, had vanished.
Her body went limp. She had to hold onto the wall beside her to remain upright.
Reality dawned on her. There was nothing else to look for anymore. She could clearly see that everything was gone, including Chu Li.
Siao Tieying and the rest of the people climbed up to the third floor. When he saw the dilapidated interior of the room, Siao Tieying sighed. He looked at Mulin.
Mulin's face looked glum. He scoffed, "Ashes all over. This, is the price to pay, for performing the Eclipse Purloin!"
Siao Shi bit on her red lips. She did not know what to feel anymore.
She could not get the scene of the lightning strikes earlier off her mind. She could still see Chu Li struggling to get out of the lightning's way. It etched onto the deepest part of her mind, seemingly unforgettable.
Siao Qi bent down. She picked something up from the corner of the wall. That item was charred and blackish, so she wiped it with her hand. Then, she saw what it was. A piece of white jade, the badge of a Rank 3 Imperial Scribe.
Her hands felt warm, it felt like Chu Li was still there with her.
She gripped on it hardly, so much till her palms started becoming pale.
"Sigh..." Siao Tieying exhaled. He patted on Siao Shi's shoulders sympathetically, "Sister, I'm sorry for your loss."
Siao Shi managed to force a smile. She shook her head and remained silent.
Siao Tieying then walked towards Siao Qi and patted on her shoulder too, "Sister..."
He knew that Siao Qi had adored and looked up to Chu Li. Losing Chu Li was already devastating enough for him, not to mention Siao Qi.
Zhao Qingshan looked at the wanton destruction brought to the room, and he too had sighed.
He was already of age, and had seen countless things, so many that his feelings were already numbed. He had long lost the heroic character and eagerness to make sacrifices like Chu Li. Chu Li's act of giving up his own life for the Second Lady's was unconditional. It had touched his heart deeply. It was a shame that God showed no mercy on him. In the end, he was unable to cheat death either.
"Big brother, you all may leave now. I want to stay here for a little while longer." Siao Qi declared slowly, as she still held Chu Li's white jade badge in her grips.
Siao Tieying nodded, and sighed, "Sister, a dead man would not come back to life. My deepest condolences."
Mulin shook his head, "When the Second Lady had died, Chu Li was able to trade his life to save hers. But the way Chu Li had died now, nobody would be able to save him!"
Gone with the lightning were ashes. He was already wiped off the surface of the Earth, permanently. Not even the Eclipse Purloin would be of any use now.
"Eh, what's going on over there?" Zhao Qingshan suddenly pointed at the sky as he exclaimed.
The group of people lifted their heads to look.
It was already a sunny bright sky at their area, but at some distance away, ominous clouds loomed across that stretch of sky. With that, that area below was also plunged into darkness, just like what had happened with Wind Tower earlier on.
"Isn't that way the Hall of Martial Arts?" Zhao Qingshan asked.