The figure donned in the golden mask pondered for a moment before nodding as a voice sounded, “Your words make sense. The cult has sent numerous spies to infiltrate the Immortal Alliance to investigate this matter through these years, but they have failed to obtain any worthy news. Do you have any idea in mind?”
Chen He shook his head and replied, “There are no other ways to it. Only by investigating the matter carefully will evidences and traces of the event back then be unveiled. The Fleeting Cloud Division of the Immortal Alliance had been in charge of protecting those whose identities and backgrounds need to be concealed, the Shadows. Countless secrets are hidden amidst them, and throughout the years, they had been an important target in our investigation, just that the results were not apparent.”
At this point, Chen He paused for a moment and a glint flashed in 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 were not 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’s voice raised upwards abruptly. Clearly, these words had piqued his interest.
Noticing this, a hint of delight flashed across Chen He’s eyes. Even so, his expression did not reflect the changes in his mood, and he continued further on the topic, “All along, the Immortal Alliance has 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 interrupted Chen He’s words. Hearing the remark, joy surged through Chen He as he quickly bowed respectfully, “Yes, I will accomplish this task!”
The golden masked figure slowly stood up. Staring at the horrifying bone remains amidst the glow of the flames, he howled deeply unexpectedly. His howl was reminiscent of the bellowing of a demon, causing one’s heart to pound furiously. The sound of gritted teeth could be heard from beneath the mask, and the figure coldly spouted, “The foundation that the divine cult has built, and the lives of the three elders. Our cult had been at the pinnacle for the last 500 years, yet it was ruined in the hands of the traitor. If he does not die, how can the divine cult uphold its prestige!”
The moment his words stopped, he suddenly raised a hand. Boom, the flame erupts upwards and the intense light radiating from it seemed as though it would swallow the heavens and the Earth. Within the crackling flame, a voice seemed to be burning as well. It sounded 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 descended just like any other day, and the bizarre and hair-raising cries of the spirits filled the tea mountain once more. In the shadow of the night, Lu Chen stood at the entrance of the straw cottage. He looked toward the top of the tea mountain, only to see a sight of perfect stillness. The darkness of the night was so dense that it resembled a canvas painted over with ink.
Expressionless, he stood for a moment longer before walking back into the straw cottage. He headed toward the bed and shut his eyes. Without any sound, he fell into deep sleep.
It was already the morning two days later when he caught sight of Ding Dang once more. Ding Dang was walking along the village’s clear stream. Her beautiful features were comparable to the most beautiful peach blossom, stealing gazes of others with its radiance. She stood out even in this season of peach blossoms, attracting innumerable eyes in the village.
However, she paid no heed at all to the gazes from the surroundings. Her bright eyes seemed to reflect one who stood on top of the clouds, untainted by the dirt of the world. At the same time, it also seemed to be reflecting one who was fated for a different life. Moreover, she even brushed off most greetings she received.
She smiled, but her smile wasn’t directed toward anyone. That was the joy from the depths of her heart, yet it belonged to her and her alone, Ding Dang unwilling to share even a sliver of it to the crass people beside her. Only upon seeing Lu Chen, who was standing at the entrance of a small tavern in the distance, did she stop. For the first time, Ding Dang halted her footsteps and hesitation flickered across her face. Then, she directed a gentle smile toward Lu Chen from afar.
Alluring, like the peach blossoms amidst the gentle caress of the spring wind. At the same time, it carried a disposition of reserved nobility, leaving others hesitant to approach her.
Lu Chen reciprocated with a smile of his own and nodded his head before walking into a small tavern.
Old Ma sat by the table. As business in the tavern was still dismal, his face did not look good. Lu Chen walked over, sat by his side and smiled, “What’s wrong?”
Old Ma glared at him and replied snappily, “You are asking the obvious.”
Lu Chen smiled, “It’s not like you really depend on this tavern for a living, why do you view it so importantly?”
Old Ma harrumphed as he headed towards the counter to fetch a bottle of wine and threw it toward Lu Chen. Then, with a suppressed voice, he said, “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 poured himself a cup of wine. Contemplating for a moment, he replied, “Indeed, they went a little too far this time. However, there was something weird about this incident as well. It had been at least a decade since the Three Realm Divine Cult had done anything that overboard.”
Old Ma shrugged, “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 stared at Lu Chen and continued, “Say, how can the organisation known as the demonic cult appear to be destroyed and annihilated time and time again, yet manage to survive every single crisis, just like an undying worm?”
Lu Chen went silent. After a long moment, he replied with a tone several scales lower than usual, “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 paled. Looking at Lu Chen’s expression, he coughed and diverted the topic. “Right, a few days ago, Old Liu 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 originally hailed from.”
Lu Chen nodded his head, “That’s great. Old Liu is a good person.”
The two of them continued the idle chatter within the tavern, just like the innumerable times they had done in the past. In this ordinary village, they were merely two ordinary, insignificant figures in the most ordinary corner of the human society, peacefully living their ordinary and idle life.
When the afternoon was on the verge of leaving, and Lu Chen was about to walk out of the tavern, Old Ma commented abruptly, “You seem to be looking good these few days.”
Lu Chen paused for a moment. Then, with a silent smile, he departed.
He walked back to his straw cottage at the foot of the tea mountain and closed the door. Then, sitting crossed leg on his bed, it didn’t take long for the entirely new but completely ordinary Five Element Divine Compass to float out from his spirit sea. Lu Chen’s face was entirely calm, as he silently drove his Qi to regulate his breathing. Slowly, a sliver of spirit energy rose in his meridians and flowed through his body.