The figure donned in the golden mask ponders for a moment before nodding as a voice sounds, “Your words make sense. The cult has sent numerous spies to infiltrate the Immortal Alliance to investigate this matter through these years, but they failed to obtain any worthy news. Do you have an idea in mind?”
Chen He shakes his head and replies, “There are no other ways to it. Only by investigating the matter carefully will evidence and traces of the event back then be unveiled. The Fleeting Cloud Division of the Immortal Alliance has been in-charge of protecting those whose identities and backgrounds need to be concealed, the Shadows. Countless secrets are hidden amidst them, and throughout these years, they had been an important target in our investigation, just that the results weren’t apparent.”
At this point, Chen He pauses for a moment and a glean flashes across his eyes, “However, I have a proposal that might contribute to the investigation.”
“In the past, we had been trying our best to track down those mysterious Shadows whose backgrounds are an enigma, but our efforts weren’t bringing proportionate results. However, I’ve been thinking these days that perhaps, we should change our target and work on those who are in contact with the Shadows instead.”
“Hm?” The golden mask raises upwards abruptly. Clearly, these words had piqued his interest.
Noticing this, a hint of delight flashes across Chen He’s eyes. Even so, his expression doesn’t reflect the changes in his mood, and continues further on the topic, “All along, the Immortal Alliance had valued the safety of the Shadows, and protected them carefully. However, as for those who are in contact with the shadows, such as the sentinels and watchers, even though their jobs are kept a secret, they are all still figures on the surface, such as the qinchuan disciple of a reputable sect and such. Thus, if we were to start from these people, they might offer us some clues to…”
“Good! Do it your way then!” A roar interrupts Chen He’s words. Hearing those words, joy surges through Chen He as he quickly bows respectfully, “Yes, I will accomplish this task!”
The golden masked figure slowly stands up. Staring at the horrifying bone remains amidst the glow of the flames, he howls deeply abruptly. His howl is reminiscent of the bellowing of a demon, causing one’s heart to pound furiously. The sound of gritted teeth can be heard from beneath the mask, and the figure coldly spouts, “The foundation that the divine cult has built, and the lives of the three elders. The might of our cult should have been at its pinnacle since the last 500 years, yet it was ruined in the hands of the traitor. If he doesn’t die, how can the divine cult uphold its prestige!”
The moment his words stop, he suddenly raises a hand. Boom, the flame erupts upwards and the intense light radiating from it seems as though it would swallow the heavens and earth. Within the crackling flame, a voice seems to be burning as well. It sounds like the friction between metal and rock, roaring hoarsely and furiously, screaming within the dark room, cursing!
“Grind his bones!”
“Extract his soul!”
“Make him die!”
The night sky descends just like any other day, and the bizarre and hair-raising cries of the spirits fill the tea mountain once more. In the shadow of the night, Lu Chen stands at the entrance of the straw cottage. He looks toward the top of the tea mountain, only to see a sight of perfect stillness. The darkness of the night is so dense that it resembles a canvas painted over with ink.
Expressionless, he stands for a moment longer before walking back into the straw cottage. He heads towards the bed and shuts his eyes. Without any sound, he falls into deep sleep.
It is already the morning two days later when he catches sight of Ding Dang once more. Ding Dang is walking along the village’s clear stream. Her beautiful features are as though the most beautiful peach blossom, stealing the gazes of others with its radiance. She stands out even in this season of peach blossoms, attracting innumerable eyes in the village.
However, she pays no heed at all to the gazes from the surroundings. Her bright eyes seem to reflect one who stands on top of the clouds, untainted by the dirt of the world. At the same time, it also seems to be reflecting one who is fated for a different life. She even brushes off most of the greetings of others.
She smiles, but her smile isn’t directed towards anyone. This is the joy from the depths of her heart, yet it belongs to her and her alone, unwilling to share even a sliver of it to the crass people beside her. Only upon seeing Lu Chen, who is standing at the entrance of a small tavern in the distance, does she stop. For the first time, Ding Dang stops her footsteps and hesitation flickers across her face. Then, she directs a gentle smile towards Lu Chen from afar.
Alluring, as though the peach blossoms amidst the gentle caress of the spring wind. At the same time, it carries with a disposition of reserved nobility, leaving others hesitant to approach her.
Lu Chen reciprocates with a smile of his own and nods his head before walking into a small tavern.
Old Ma sits by the table. As the business in the tavern is still dismal, his face doesn’t look good. Lu Chen walks over, sits by his side and smiles, “What’s wrong?”
Old Ma glares at him and replies snappishly, “You are asking the obvious.”
Lu Chen smiles, “It’s not like you really depend on this tavern for a living, why do you view it so importantly?”
Old Ma harrumphs as he heads towards the counter to fetch a bottle of wine and throws it towards Lu Chen. Then, with a suppressed voice, he says, “The incident with Xu Yunhe from the Thousand Autumn Doors has already reached the Immortal Alliance. It is said that the heads were furious and they are pursuing the incident now.”
Lu Chen pours himself a cup of wine. Contemplating for a moment, he replies, “Indeed, they went a little too far this time. However, there is something weird about this incident as well. It has been at least a decade since the Three Realm Divine Cult had done anything that overboard.”
Old Ma shrugs, “They were probably suppressed too violently these few years. Or perhaps, there might be a new figure rising among the demonic cult. He might be trying to reestablish the prestige of the cult through such extreme means.” After which, he stares at Lu Chen and continues, “Say, how can the organisation known as the demonic cult be destroyed and annihilated time and time again, yet surviving every single crisis, just like an undying worm?”
Lu Chen goes silent. After a long moment, he replies with a tone pushed down several scales, “Perhaps, the people inside are simple-minded. They believe in some things to the point of not doubting it at all, to a level that is incomprehensible to us.”
Old Ma’s complexion pales. Looking at Lu Chen’s expression, he coughs and diverts the topic. “Right, a few days ago, Old Liu has sent some news over. He had finished delegating his tasks at the Immortal City and within a few days, he would be able to retire and enjoy the rest of his life at the sect he originates from.”
Lu Chen nods his head, “That’s great. Old Liu is a good person.”
The two of them continue the idle chatter within the tavern, just like innumerable times they had did in the past. In this ordinary village, they are just two ordinary insignificant figures in the most ordinary corner of the human society, peacefully living their ordinary and idle life.
When afternoon is on the verge of leaving, and Lu Chen is about to walk out of the tavern, Old Ma comments abruptly, “You seem to be looking good these few days.”
Lu Chen pauses for a moment. Then, with a silent smile, he walks away.
He walks back to his straw cottage at the foot of the tea mountain and closes the door. Then, sitting crossed leg on his bed, it doesn’t take long for the entirely new but completely ordinary Five Element Divine Compass to float out from his qihai. Lu Chen’s face is entirely calm, as he silently drives his Qi to regulate his breathing. Slowly, a sliver of spirit energy appears in his meridians and flows through his body.
Qihai -> Spirit sea