The Three Realm Divine Cults has already been in decline for many years now. Even though its reputation still floats around, and sometimes, it commits certain foul deeds here and there, compared to ten years ago, the cult is already far from how it was.
Thus, the tense and dismal atmosphere is only limited to the internal of the Immortal Alliance, concentrated mostly in the Fleeting Cloud Division. Of course, the orders to investigate the Three Realm Divine Cult has already been issued from the top brass, and all kinds of powers from all kinds of locations have already started moving both in the open and in the shadows. However, on the surface, nothing seems to have changed in the Immortal City. At the very most, it is just a topic for discussion after a meal.
On this day, the former Fleeting Cloud Division sentinel, Old Liu, finishes delegating all of his responsibilities to the others and officially retires. His current emotions are a little complex, feeling both depression and happiness at the same time.
Happiness, is because that he was able to work in the Immortal Alliance. Working in the Immortal Alliance is something most cultivators, especially those from middle to small scale sects, look forward to, as well as the ideal career for them. It provides them the opportunity to attain even better resources, not to mention that they would be granted respect from others, something that they would find hard to earn otherwise.
Depression, as these things come with a price. Often, they would need to shed sweat and blood for it, sometimes even requiring to stake their lives in. However, after he retires, it all comes to an end.
Old Liu doesn’t know many people from the Fleeting Cloud Division but even so, he has some close acquaintances. Thus, on this day, everyone gathered together to offer him a toast. However, it is a pity that the young man whom he thought well of, Bian Zhe, due to his responsibilities, had left Immortal City a few days earlier, and thus, was unable to send him off into his retirement.
Old Liu feels a little regretful. However, drinking and chatting with his other brothers of the Fleeting Cloud Division is a jolly and exhilarating event. At the end of the journey, he had seen through many things and has learned to let go. Thus, he is no longer as restrained in his words. Under the effects of alcohol, he even half-jokingly spoke of some words that he would have never dared to say otherwise to a superior who came to see him.
That superior is a lady, and she is usually prim and proper. However, tonight, she simply brushes it all off with a smile, unbothered by it. On the other hand, the rest by the table pales. They look at Old Liu as though they are looking at a monster, and no one is trying to strike up a conversation at all.
Old Liu noticed that something is amiss, but under the influence of alcohol, his mind is unable to process clearly, so he chooses to dump it all at the back of his mind. By the time his mind clears up, it is already the morning of the next day, about time for him to leave the Immortal City.
That morning, sitting on the bed, Old Liu breaks out in cold sweat. Then, he hurriedly packs everything and flees quickly, not daring to stay in the Immortal City for a moment longer, not even bothering about the other few brothers that he made an appointment with to send him off.
However, it is fortunate that there isn’t any accident during his journey out of the city. Amazingly, it seems like the female who was nicknamed ‘Black Widow’, did not get angry. While praying to be spared within his heart, he chastises himself for acting foolishly. After treading so carefully his entire life, to think that he would commit such foolishness at the end of his journey.
As such thoughts mingle within his mind, he walks out of the grand doors of the Immortal City and gradually treads further away from the city. In the bustling and packed roads outside the city, there are many walking to and fro. Amidst the peaceful hustle and bustle, a cry of agony suddenly echoes in the distance, leaving many unable to react for a moment.
However, during the investigation carried out after the incident, those who heard the sound clearly recounted it as this. In the morning just like any other, Old Liu, who hurriedly left the city, left a final cry before his disappearance, and it sounded like this, “Blood Warbler…”
A fact that ordinary mortals are oblivious to is that the trusted subordinate of Tianlan Zhenjun, the powerful individual who rules over the Fleeting Cloud Division as a Hall Master, famous even within the massive Immortal Alliance, is a female. Her name is Xue Ying, and her nickname is Blood Warbler.
It is a homophone. The both pronunciations are identical in Chinese.
By the time the sky lights up, Ding Dang and Lu Chen are already awake.
Without much to say, Ding Dang swiftly leaves, and Lu Chen only sends her to the road, not accompanying her down the mountain. Silently, he gazes at the back of the lady departing hurriedly.
Did something happen when she was on the mountains?
Why did she look so vulnerable and helpless yesterday night?
Is she afraid of Lu Chen, afraid of death, or is she afraid of something else?
In the end, as she didn’t continue speaking, Lu Chen didn’t ask her about it.
It doesn’t take long for the days to calm down to their usual pace, or perhaps, on the surface, this lifestyle has never changed at all. For perpetuity, the days repeat again and again. After which, Ding Dang didn’t look for Lu Chen anymore. On that night, the words that she spoke through a slightly trembling voice seems to only be a somniloquy of the darkness, scattering alongside the wind without a trace remaining.
Lu Chen continues his lonesome life. Occasionally, he heads to the small tavern at the bottom of the mountain to drink while most of the time, he would be in his straw cottage. He tries to cultivate everyday, but as his reformed Five Elemental Divine Compass is a little too lacking in quality, his road to cultivating once more is exceptionally difficult. The amount of spirit energy within his body is negligible and he progresses little everyday. Even so, Lu Chen isn’t disheartened. Instead, he perseveres on, trudging along the road that he has once walked on.
As for the dark side of the divine compass, ever since that night, he has avoided contact with it.
When he recalls the situation in the darkness that night, Lu Chen clearly remembers that at the moment when the darkness is the most turbulent, he vaguely feels a sensation of losing control over his rationality or body.
As for the black spirit energy, after the two incidents prior, he is able to confirm that it has something to do with slaughter and death. Lu Chen doesn’t view fresh blood as a taboo, and neither does he fear the darkness. Throughout his long years of reticence, these two have been accompanying him through his days. However, if he could only obtain spirit energy through slaughter and death, then the object is way past the boundaries Lu Chen demarcated in his heart. Furthermore, an unexceptional event made Lu Chen subconsciously maintain his distance from the black divine compass.
That is the pot of bizarre soured rabbit meat.
“Old Liu is dead.”
The scorching sun hangs beyond the room, and even though the interiors of the tavern is slightly cooler, it isn’t any much better. Perspiration beads fall profusely from Old Ma’s forehead. He uses his towel to wipe it off, and with his face half covered, he speaks to Lu Chen with a flat voice.
“How did he die?”
“On that day when he left the Immortal City, he disappeared after leaving the east gate. Someone heard his scream, but no one was able to find him. When they finally found him, Old Liu was already a corpse, thrown in the Heisong Forest outside the west gate. Even his body had been chewed into half by wild beasts.”
Lu Chen comtemplates for a moment before asking, “Is it the doing of the demonic cult?”
Old Ma sighs and places his towel down. Then, he says, “During this period of time, the Fleeting Cloud Division had lost two sentinels. It is a confirmed fact that Zhang Jiu Ping had been killed by the demonic cult, but it is hard to say for Old Liu. For the time being, there isn’t any traces of the demonic cult on his body. Furthermore…”
Name: 薛颖 (Xue Ying) Nickname: 血莺/ Blood Warbler (Xue Ying)
It is like a play on her name, although the two words have different pronunciations.