"Sister He, what is it with him?" Lily turned her head around and looked at Holly, "We aren't monsters or beasts, so why was he so scared of us?!"
Holly shook her head and said, "Master Chu did it for our own good."
"What do you mean?"
"Sigh..., it's true that we should keep a distance from anyone from the public house." Holly shook her head and said, "Sister Sun, once we're back to the valley, don't mention about this encounter to our master."
"But why?" Lily shook Holly's shoulder with her left hand, seemingly impatient. "Sister He, just tell me already. Don't leaving me hanging like this."
"Sigh..." Holly sighed, "Our master's father was murdered by someone from the public house."
Lily scoffed, "But the public house won't kill somebody for no reason, right?"
"He killed a corrupt official." Holly replied.
"Then the corrupt official deserved to die!" Lily scoffed, "What's the fault in that?"
Lily's face turned gloomy. She replied faintly, "Did you forget our Tai Hua Valley's rules?"
"You can't hurt an official from the imperial court." Lily pursed her lips and scoffed, "What kind of rule is this?"
She was disgusted by this rule, as she felt that it was an act of oppressing the weak. Just because someone is an official, it did not mean that he could do anything that he wants and exploit the people!
But a rule was a rule. If anyone dared to go against it, they would be banished from Tai Hua Valley. Thus, she had no choice but to adhere to it.
Holly said to her, "It doesn't matter whether an official is righteous or corrupt. If you kill them, the public house would do everything they could to apprehend the murderer. That's the price to pay for killing someone. Let's not talk about us, even the people from the Temple of Tempest did not dare to kill an imperial court official."
"Well that's because monks can't kill people." Lily replied.
Holly said, "If you kill an imperial court official and have the public house coming after you, our faction would be held responsible for your wrongdoings as well."
Lily scoffed, agreeing with her unwillingly. She could not argue with that.
Holly said, "Just think of how our master feels. She could not do anything to avenge her father's death, yet she must avoid herself from those corrupt officials, hence she would get angry whenever she hears someone mention the public house. So, please don't upset her!"
"This is so frustrating!" Lily admitted.
After a long silence, the usually quiet Fei finally spoke, "It seems that this Master Chu knew about our master's past."
"Sigh..." Holly shook her head and gently exhaled.
"It's not that everyone in the public house is evil, right? Just look at Master Chu, he's such a kind man." Lily said.
"Such a shame that he's with the public house." Fei proclaimed.
Lily pursed her lips gently, letting out another scoff.
Holly looked towards the direction in which Lei had left. After a while, she sighed, "Let's go, we should be on our way too."
"Sister He, the Yi public house is in Chong Ming Town, right?"
"Why don't we head to Chong Ming town too, so we can catch up with Master Chu and follow him."
"Do you want to infuriate our master?" Fei said.
Lily rolled her eyes at her, "She doesn't need to know."
Holly said, "From what I see, Master Chu didn't want to have anything to do with us either. Let's not disturb him."
Lily looked disappointed. She pursed her lips to show her dissatisfaction.
The three then left the kiosk and got onto their horses.
The weather in mid-September was volatile. One minute it was scorching, the next minute it was cloudy. Rainclouds started looming above, covering the Sun in the sky.
They quickened their pace, but they were unable to avoid the rain anyway. Before long, it was raining cats and dogs.
However, they did not dare to stop halfway, because there was a risk that the rain would not stop anytime soon. Stopping would only make it more difficult to continue their journey. They had no choice but to brace the heavy downpour and kept on going. The ordeal made them feel very exhausted, even with their martial arts helping them.
After half a day's journey, they finally reached within vicinity of a small town ------ Desolate Town. They hurried their way into the town and scrambled for shelter. They found an inn and checked into a room. Inside their room, they changed their clothes, cleaned themselves and dried their hair.
When they were outside again, the sky was already getting dark.
The rain however did not stop.
Thus, they went to the main lounge of the inn to look for something to eat. Although the food there were not as good as the ones in the restaurants, they had to make do with it, so long as it could fill their stomachs.
As soon as the three ladies stepped into the lounge, everyone's turned their attention towards them.
They were already used to this kind of situation. They swept a glance to the left side of the room and then to the right. Finally, they found what they were looking for. Sat there at one corner of the room, was Lei Chu.
Lily pulled Holly and Fei with her, as she walked towards Lei's table with excitement. She smiled at him sweetly, "Master Chu, may we have a seat?"
Lei glanced around the room and realized that every other table was fully occupied. Only his table had seats left.
He was wearing an embroidered silk robe, a treasure sword strapped to his waist. The jade on his waist shined brilliantly like a watery gleam. He gave out an aura of masculinity as he sat there. The patrons of the inn were usually shady people who spent all their lives avoiding attention from people like Lei. Thus, most of the people there avoided sitting close to him, staying as far away from him as they could.
"Master Chu------!" Lily called out to Lei, unhappy that he was unresponsive towards her presence.
Lei smiled at her and nodded, "Please, have a seat."
Holly flashed a smile at Lei too, "Apologies for disturbing, Master Chu."
Lei returned her a smile, "I didn't expect to see you girls again so soon."
"Please, allow us to foot the bill for your meal." Holly requested him. "As a token of our appreciation."
Lei swiftly nodded, he did not hesitate this time.
Before long, the table was served with eight scrumptious-looking dishes. It turned out that he had already pre-ordered those dishes prior to their arrival. All eight dishes were the most expensive ones from the menu.
Lei was born into a rich family, hence it made sense that he ordered the best dishes. He would not pass on the opportunity of giving himself a good treat.
Holly and the girls then ordered a few more dishes. The Tai Hua Valley faction were quite well-to-do too.
"Master Chu, we're going to Chong Ming town too." Lily said as she poured a cup of wine for Lei. She smiled and continued, "We share the same destination."
"Sister Sun!" Holly creased her eyebrows.
Lily did not seem bothered at all and continued, "Since we're heading to the same direction, why don't we journey together?"
"Master Chu, our master is currently in Chong Ming town, so we're on our way to meet with her. If you don't mind, you can join us and travel together."
Lei replied hesitantly, "Well..., If your master finds out, she will punish you."
Holly explained, "But if she knows that you've saved our lives, I reckon she wouldn't blame us."
"To have the chance of travelling with you three beautiful ladies, must be the good karma that I've gained from my past life." Lei smiled, "But too bad my luck ends here. I still have a couple of things to settle here in town. I'm not sure how much longer that would take me."
"We'll wait for you!" Lily exclaimed.
"Sister Sun!" Holly gave her a mean stare, then turned her head back to Lei and smiled, "We can't make our master wait for too long. So, we must get there quick. Apologies, Master Chu."
From the way Lei answered them, Holly could see that he was trying to decline their invitation in a polite manner. He made it clear that he did not want anything to do with the three of them.
Lei smiled and nodded.
Lily seemed dissatisfied and gave Lei a mean stare. She pursed her lips and then lowered her head, resuming her meal.
Lei remained silent and smiled.
He knew that he could not get too close with the people from Tai Hua Valley. It was a precaution in case a disciple of Tai Hua Valley commits a crime in the future. If he was sent to kill the wrong-doer, what would he do?
There were no benefits of befriending them, so he chose not to.
The rain started rapidly, but it stopped quickly too. It was reduced to a slight drizzle around midnight. After that, a huge gust of wind blew and dried the soggy ground. They were able to continue their journey again the next morning.
After they had breakfast, Holly and the girls mounted their horses and resumed their journey at a fast pace.
After travelling for about twenty plus miles, they heard sounds of hush galloping from behind them. In the blink of an eye, the mysterious riders surpassed them, then stopped right in front of them, blocking their way.
Holly and the ladies were caught by surprise.
There was a total of four horses in front of them, and all of them were disciples of Green Hill faction. Besides Xiao Xu and his two men, there was another guy who looked to be in his late-twenties. His figure was slender, and his cheeks hollow. The blade strapped to his waist looked long and narrow. It was unlike anything they had seen before.
"Xiao Xu, what are you guys doing here again?" Lily scoffed, "Step aside!"
Xiao replied faintly, "This is my third senior, brother Ting He. He's here to show Sister He that we meant business!"
"What a disgrace! You've lost to us, so you called your senior up here as backup!" Lily pursed her lips.
Holly's pretty face turned stone-cold. He stared at Ting.
Ting swept a lazy glance across the three ladies, then said casually, "The three of you can hit me all at once, so don't accuse me of bullying the weak... If you lose, we won't kill you. We'll only remove your martial arts abilities!"
His voice sounded hoarse, as if his throat was burned by charcoal.
After he finished talking, he did not wait for the ladies to respond. He took a giant leap from the back of his horse and pulled out his blade in the process. The long blade swung out like a flash of lightning, as it lashed towards the direction of Holly.
The trio instinctively unsheathed their sword and swung them in the air. In an instant, the light of the swords increased in intensity, blocking Ting's strike.
Ting frowned. He thought that he had them for good. But he did not expect that with the powers of those three combined, it would be so powerful. The Tai Hua Valley techniques were a real deal!
"Ding ding ding ding..." The four swords struck each other repeatedly.
Ting went with the momentum of their strikes and took a step backwards, twisting around agilely and leaped back to his own horse. "Fine. No wonder brother Xu had lost, that was indeed very skillful of you three. Let's leave!"
He pulled the horse lead and turned his horse to the other direction, fleeing the scene. Xiao and the other two men immediately went after him.
"Hmph! Fleeing after losing the fight. And they call themselves the Green Hill faction?!" Lily pursed her lips and laughed. "Sister He, it seems that the Green Hill faction are merely weaklings!"
Holly shook her head. She frowned as she stared at the escaping lot.
They continued their journey for another ten miles before being stopped again by five men.
This time, besides the previous four, there was another skinny youth. He looked to be around the same age as Ting. He had fine facial features and sunken eyes, which gave him a fierce and murderous look.
Lily jeered at them angrily, "Xiao Xu, do you Green Hill fellows know what is shame? A fight after another, will you call out your faction leader at the very end of this?"
"This is our eldest senior, brother Hua Peng!" Xiao pointed at the skinny man beside him, and said in a low voice, "If you girls could beat senior Hua, I'll forget all the previous resentments once and for all!"
"Alright, you promised us!" Lily scoffed at him, "Quick, let's get things done with then. We still need to continue our journey!"
As soon as she finished speaking, the trio pulled out their swords and leapt, aiming their weapons towards Hua.
Hua sat firmly on top of his horse, waiting for the tip of their swords to reach him. On the spur of the moment, the long sword strapped to his waist was turned into a blaze of silver lightning, making its way towards the girls' throats.
The three ladies retreated backwards in reflex, landing back onto their horses.
Hua levitated into the air, a stretch of light from his sword hanging in mid-air, before making its way towards Holly.
The three ladies braced their swords again to block the hit.
"Ding..." All three of their long swords were casted out of their hands.
Hua's cultivation was far more superior than the three combined. They would not be his match even if they worked together.
With their grasps not empty, they could only watch as Hua's long sword edged closer to their necks.
Hua clearly intended to take their lives. They did not keep their prior promise of just removing their martial arts abilities. With that strike of the sword, it was almost imminent that three heads would be dislodged from their graceful bodies.
"Ding..." Lily had only just closed her eyes to embrace death, but there came a clear clang.
She immediately opened her eyes to have a look. She saw Hua sitting dejectedly on his horse, his hands empty. She turned her glance at the direction where the other men were looking at. And there she saw Hua's long sword, its tip buried deep into the bark of a tree about ten meters away, the grip of the sword vibrating incessantly.
"Who are you? Please show yourself!" Hua yelled coldly.
But there was no response. All they could hear were the howls of the wind.
Hua said coldly, "We're from the Green Hill faction. If we've offended you, please forgive us!"
The only reply he got was the sound of the wind.
Hua turned his glance to the three ladies, and he smirked coldly. He levitated like a goshawk to about ten meters out, and he retrieved his long sword from the tree. After that, he levitated again and landed back onto his horse. He pulled the lead rope and turned his horse around, leaving the scene.
His other accomplices hurried off to catch up with him. In less than a minute, all five of them were nowhere to be seen.
Holly made a fist salute and proclaimed, "Is it Master Chu there?"
Holly sighed and called out loudly again, "Many thanks, Master Chu. We hope to repay your kindness in the future!"
The three ladies went back to their horses and resumed their journey.
Lei emerged from the woods nearby, watching the girls as their silhouette slowly disappeared out of sight. He shook his head and chuckled. He had saved their lives once again. It seemed that they were indeed fated to meet.