The Three Realm Divine Cults had been in decline for many years now. Even though its name continued to be mentioned around, and sometimes, wait it committing certain foul deeds here and there, compared to ten years ago, the cult was far from how it was.
Thus, the tense and dismal atmosphere was only limited to the internal of the Immortal Alliance, concentrated mostly in the Fleeting Cloud Division. Of course, orders to investigate the Three Realm Divine Cult had already been issued from the top brass, and all kinds of powers from all types of locations had already started moving both in the open and in the shadows. However, on the surface, nothing seemed to have changed in the Immortal City. At the very most, it was just a topic for discussion after a meal.
On this day, the former Fleeting Cloud Division sentinel, Old Liu, had finished delegating all of his responsibilities and had officially retired. His emotions were a complex, feeling both depression and happiness at the same time.
Happiness, because that he was able to work in the Immortal Alliance. Working in the Immortal Alliance was something most cultivators, especially those from middle to small scale sects, looked forward to, and was the ideal career for them. It provided 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 achieve otherwise.
Depression, as these things came with a price. Often, they would need to shed sweat and blood for it, sometimes even requiring them to stake their lives. However, after he retired, it all came to an end.
Old Liu didn’t know many people from the Fleeting Cloud Division but even so, he had some close acquaintances. Thus, on this day, everyone gathered together to offer him a toast. However, it was a pity that the young man whom he thought well of, Bian Zhe, had left Immortal City a few days earlier, due to his responsibilities, and thus, was unable to send him off into his retirement.
Old Liu felt some regret. However, drinking and chatting with his other brothers of the Fleeting Cloud Division was a jolly and exhilarating event. At the end of the journey, he had seen through many things and had learned to let go. Thus, he was no longer as restrained in his words. Under the effects of alcohol, he even half-jokingly spoke of words that he would have never dared to say otherwise to a superior who came to see him.
That superior was a lady, and she was usually prim and proper. However, tonight, she simply brushed it all off with a smile, unbothered by it. On the other hand, the rest by the table paled. They look at Old Liu as though they were looking at a monster, and no one was trying to strike up a conversation at all.
Old Liu noticed that something was amiss, but under the influence of alcohol, his mind was unable to think clearly, so he chose to dump it all at the back of his mind. By the time his mind cleared up, it was already the morning of the next day, about time for him to leave the Immortal City.
That morning, sitting on the bed, Old Liu broke out in cold sweat. Then, he hurriedly packed everything and fled quickly, not daring to stay in the Immortal City for a moment longer, not even bothering about the buddies that he had made an appointment with to send him off.
It was fortunate that there wasn’t any accident during his journey out of the city. Amazingly, it seemed that the female who was nicknamed ‘Black Widow’, did not get angry. While praying to be spared from within his heart, he chastised 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 went in his mind, he walked out of the grand doors of the Immortal City and gradually tread further away from the city.
In the bustling and packed roads outside the city, there were many walking to and fro. Amidst the peaceful hustle and bustle, a cry of agony suddenly echoed in the distance, leaving many startled.
However, during the investigation carried out after the incident, those who heard the sound clearly recounted it as this. In the morning which seemed just like any other usual mornings, Old Liu, who had hurriedly left the city, let out a final cry before his disappearance, and it sounded like this, “Blood Warbler…”
A fact that ordinary mortals were oblivious to was that the trusted subordinate of Tianlan Zhenjun, the powerful individual who ruled over the Fleeting Cloud Division as a Hall Master, who was famous even within the massive Immortal Alliance, was a female. Her name was Xue Ying, and her nickname was Blood Warbler.
It is a homophone. The both pronunciations are identical in Chinese.
By the time the sky lit up, Ding Dang and Lu Chen were already awake.
Without much to say, Ding Dang left swiftly, and Lu Chen sent her only to the road, not accompanying her down the mountain. Silently, he gazed 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?
Was she afraid of Lu Chen, afraid of death, or was she afraid of something else?
In the end, as she did not continue speaking, Lu Chen did not pursue further.
It didn’t take long for the days to calm down to their usual pace, or perhaps, on the surface, this lifestyle had never changed at all. For perpetuity, the days repeated again and again. After which, Ding Dang didn’t look for Lu Chen anymore. On that night, the words that she spoke of through a slightly trembling voice seemed to only be a somniloquy of the darkness, scattering alongside the wind without a trace remaining.
Lu Chen continued his lonesome life. Occasionally, he headed 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 tried to cultivate everyday, but because his reformed Five Elemental Divine Compass was a little too lacking in quality, his road to cultivating once more was exceptionally difficult. The amount of spirit energy within his body was negligible and he progressed very little everyday. Even so, Lu Chen wasn’t disheartened. Instead, he persevered on, trudging along the road that he had once walked on.
As for the dark side of the divine compass, ever since that night, he had avoided contact with it.
When he recalled the situation in the darkness that night, Lu Chen clearly remembered that at the moment when the darkness was the most turbulent, he felt a vague sensation of losing control over his rationality and body.
As for the black spirit energy, after the two incidents prior, he was able to confirm that it had something to do with slaughter and death. Lu Chen did not view fresh blood as a taboo, and neither did 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 was 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 was the pot of bizarre soured rabbit meat.
“Old Liu is dead.”
The scorching sun hung beyond the room, and even though the interiors of the tavern was slightly cooler, it wasn’t any much better. Perspiration beads fell profusely from Old Ma’s forehead. He used his towel to wipe it off, and with his face half covered, he spoke to Lu Chen with a flat voice.
“How did he die?”
“On that day 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 had already a become corpse, thrown in the Heisong Forest outside the west gate. Even his body had been chewed into two by wild beasts.”
Lu Chen contemplated for a moment before asking, “Is it the doing of the demonic cult?”
Old Ma sighed and placed his towel down. Then, he said, “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.