Su Ru gave Chu Li a look. Taking thecue from it, he nodded and both of them left Siao Qi and walked into the woods.
Chu Li spotted The Black Eye tree.
At first glance, there seemed to be not much of a difference with a pine tree. In fact, its half green made it looked as if it is aging and wilting.
Arriving in front of The Black Eye, Su Ru pointed at it and asked, "how is it?"
"Amazing!" Chu Li happily commented.
To be able to locate The Black Eye in such a secluded location, the Public House's resource is truly unpredictable and formidable.
Su Ru smiled. "I showed your drawing to The Protectors, some of them have exceptional memory skills. Because Lady Siao likes exotic plants, they tend to pay more attention to the plants and trees when we are out," she explained.
As there were not many of such plants in The Public House compound, Protectors who bring back an exotic plant were given a small reward. The reward may not be significant, but if it pleases Siao Qi then it is much more valuable than monetary reward.
"Would a grafting be possible?" Su Ru wondered, but Chu Li had already started digging.
Activating the Sentient Menace, his skin particularly his palms emitted a light, golden glow as if they were dipped into some gold powder. Pushing his hands down, the soil softened as it was tofu enabling him to dig fast.
Su Ru tried to help dig with a sword, but Chu Li stopped her from doing so. The Black Eye roots were very fragile. A simple mistake and it would be damaged, affecting its growth in the long run.
Su Ru could only watch from the side in amazement. He was like a gold golem; as he dug faster, the glow intensified portraying his growing inner strength. She was impressed.
An hour later, Chu Li successfully dug out The Black Eye's root and slowly pushed it out. On the side was a sturdy, old pine tree that looked like The Black Eye. Chu Li dug that out too to pass off the sham as the genuine.
"Is there a need to transplant the soil too?" Su Ru asked.
When grafting both trees, Chu Li also dug out the soil surrounding it and wrap them together, ensuring its roots were not exposed to the air.
"This is good enough, let's go!"
"I shall arrange for it immediately!" Su Ru dashed away and quickly brought back two middle-aged Protectors. Without saying a word, they each heaved up a tree easily. Both trees were as thick as one's thighs, measuring about two meters tall each.
"Be careful, don't damage it," warned Su Ru. "They are much more delicate and fragile than a human being!"
"Don't worry, Chief Su, we will treat them like beautiful ladies!" said one of the middle-aged Protector with a large smile on his face.
Su Ru rolled her eyes at him. "Uncle Jang, you will die one day on a woman's belly!"
Uncle Jang chuckled replying, "nice! That's my favorite way to die!" Su Ru glared at him petulantly and walked away.
Sitting on a rock reading, Siao Qi put down her book upon seeing Su Ru and Chu Li's return. "All done?" she asked.
"Let's go then," said Siao Qi as she stored her book away.
The crowd stood up, got on their horses and rode out of the woods.
Chu Li looked back. The two Protectors were holding the trees tight, following him closely behind. Being innate masters with their inner energies, they were able to ride their horses faster and longer.
As dusk sets in, they found a forest to set up camp and rest for the night.
Chu Li walked over to The Black Eye to check on it. Touching it, he could feel that the tree's vigor was weakening. The tree was so fragile, that the second it left its surrounding soil, it began to die.
He channeled the surrounding trees and plants' spiritual energies in to The Black Tree to invigorate it. Receiving the nourishment, The Black Tree started to heal back to its vigorous form.
Siao Qi and Su Ru followed him around, and got the Protectors to surround him. They are not taking the threat from the Temple of Tempest lightly, lest they give them a chance to make a move and attack.
In the middle of the night, Chu Li suddenly awoke and activated the Omniscient Mirror. With it, he could see everything within a three-mile radius, and not even the dark could stop him.
He pursed his lips and blew a long whistle, waking the whole forest. "Intruders!" he shouted.
Hearing the whistle, the two Protectors on watch looked at Chu Li.
Chu Li pointed, "there are people coming from that direction, and they are coming fast!"
Everybody had woken up by then. The Protectors drew their swords and did a formation, surrounding Chu Li, Siao Qi and Su Ru in the middle. Everybody stayed calm and steady.
Chu Li pointed in the opposite direction, "another group is coming from that side!"
"Listen to him!" Siao Qi commanded her men. The Protectors adjusted their formation, with more men moving around to guard both sides.
Su Ru stared at Chu Li curiously. He furrowed his brows, and said, "Instinct, I have very accurate instincts!"
Su Ru twitched her lips and rolled her eyes at him. It did not matter how accurate his instincts were, he did not see any intruders. However, if he was not sure of it, he would not have said a thing.
Moonlight spilled over the forest like water.
The light seeping through the leaves and branches were enough for the group to see clearly. Two groups of intruders each appeared from the East and West side. Clad in dark attire, they were masked and some even had head wraps on, only showing their sharp eyes.
In one glance, Chu Li could tell that those who covered their heads were monks -- monks from the Temple of Tempest!
The assailants stormed towards them without saying a word. The Protectors also kept mum. They started battling as if they were all mute.
The four Grandmaster Protectors stood beside Siao Qi, not joining the fight. The 16 Innate Master Protectors broke up into two separate groups to engage with the two assailant groups.
Chu Li was unable to identify the masked assailants, but there were eight of them from the Temple of Tempest. Another 20 of them were from another group and were strong but merciless in their martial art skills.
It was a pressuring battle; the Protectors looked as if their defense will be broken up soon. Even so, they still put up a strong fight and will not be defeated easily. Instead, they maintained enough momentum for counter-attacks. The team was strong in their tacit understanding, and covered for each other as part of their defense strategy.
Chu Li took a look at the four Grandmaster Protectors. They did not make a move. With the
Omniscient Mirror, he discerned that these men would not make a move unless Lady Siao herself was in imminent danger. Even if there were to be the deaths of Protectors, they would not lift a finger to help at all.
"Hmph!" The grunt came from Uncle Jang, the Protector who was joking with Su Ru. He fell on to the ground, with a sword struck through his chest.
Chu Li's face fell. It may not have been the follower of the Temple of Tempest, but they were still assassins nevertheless. Without the members of the Temple in the attack, the Protectors would not have had to be this defensive, which meant that he was responsible for the Protector's death!
He swung his right arm suddenly, a cold flash struck through and one of the masked assassins gripped his throat and fell backwards onto the ground with a thud.
Chu Li continued to fling his right arm. Flashes of strikes blinded the forest; with each strike, an assassin fell. Suddenly, the situation was reversed. In only four to five breaths, 10 people had fallen. Everyone's attention was now on Chu Li.
Chu Li grasped a flying blade with his right hand, and looked coldly at the remaining assassins. His eyes were shining sharp, and under the moonlight, he looked like the terrifying God of Death.
"Retreat!" Somebody called out. The assassins moved backwards and left, disappearing from the forest in the blink of an eye.
The Protectors continued to stay alert. Protector Jang was fed a pill, enabling him to quickly sit up while coughing.
Chu Li looked at Su Ru, his eyes widened in surprise. He was pretty sure he saw Protector Jang being speared right through the chest. Chu Li immediately understood.