Chapter 59: Following the Clues
Both sides agreed to send out five disciples to do battle. The side that won three times out of five would be labelled the victor, and would wrest control of the Star Argus Palace for the next ten years.
Jiang Chen was absolutely disinterested in the competition of those that were five meridians true qi.
Jiang Chen surreptitiously started utilizing his God’s Eye when everyone’s gaze was locked onto the crowd of youths, and he started observing the seated guests.
If the Lotus Harvester was going to come, he naturally wouldn’t brazenly appear undisguised. He would certainly disguise himself as a guest and take advantage of the situation to profiteer, like robbing an owner when his house was on fire.
He had to admit, these guests were all quite entranced. Almost everyone in Jiang Chen’s God’s Eye range had concentrated their attention on the competition on the field.
This was a competition between the most distinguished disciples of the Star Argus Palace’s new generations. These guests of exceptional ability all made their living in the Large Rock Province. They would naturally pay attention to the condition of the Star Argus Palace’s next generation.
The first two battles were quickly concluded. The North and South Sect had both won one battle.
Jiang Chen had also completed a round of observations but gained nothing. None of these people looked like the Lotus Harvester in disguise.
Jiang Chen’s mind was not quite at rest, and so he made another thorough round of observations. The results were the same, he couldn’t find the slightest flaw in these guests.
“Is it possible that the Lotus Harvester really didn’t come? Or is it that he’s disguised himself so well that my God’s Eye can’t see through him?”
Jiang Chen questioned his own judgment a bit. Due to his training of the “Boulder’s Heart”, he’d had a faint instinctive feeling that told him something would happen at the Star Argus Palace today, and it was very likely something to do with the Lotus Harvester.
That was the say, it was possible that the Lotus Harvester was already present.
Except, there was a full three hundred guests spectating the competition. Which one was the Lotus Harvester? Jiang Chen first observed through using God’s Eye, then leveraged Ear of the Zephyr to listen to these people’s breathing and heartbeat.
In the end, he still gained nothing.
“Is my feeling incorrect?”
Four battles of the competition had been completed as Jiang Chen was musing, and both sides had won twice.
At this moment, a fifteen to sixteen year old girl walked out from behind Sectmistress Jade of the North Sect. She was wearing a downy yellow light petticoat, and had an exquisite and delicately wrought body. She slowly walked onto the stage.
“I am North Sect disciple Wen Ziqi, please grant me your instruction.”
The girl called Wen Ziqi had a head full of hair that was akin to a waterfall of black yarn. Her eyes like lacquer, shone with a purity like that of a mountain spring.
The softly spoken sentence was enough to send her entire face blushing to the backs of her ears.
“I’ve heard of master’s junior Sectmistress Jade of the North Sect obtaining a fine disciple. It must be you, junior sister. I am your foolish brother Lu Boyu and I’ll demonstrate a few moves with you.”
This Lu Boyu was slender and tall, and his thin face emanated a sense of suaveness. His eyes were like a second mouth that could also speak.
He had a few traces of a elegant bearing within his gestures.
What surprised Jiang Chen quite a bit was that both of them were actually six meridians true qi!
For two six meridians true qi to appear in such a small Star Argus Palace, no wonder it caused those spectating the competition to also gasp and exclaim softly.
Sectmistress Jade’s originally confident, charming face darkened suddenly. She had held this disciple, the pride of her joy, in reserve and concealed her strength in preparation to soar to the heavens with one feat. She hadn’t thought that the South Sect would also play such a hand.
The battle between these two trump cards was indeed much more exciting than those from earlier.
Although Wen Ziqi was gentle and refined, and even blushed when she talked, she wasn’t the least bit ambiguous and perfunctory when she entered battle conditions. Her advances and retreats were measured, and she attacked and defended. She actually had quite the authoritative air.
Except, disciple Lu Boyu was patently a character that the South Sect had cultivated with emphasis. No matter what Wen Ziqi did, he could firmly repress Wen Ziqi.
And, with his combat attitude of accomplishing a task with ease, he obviously was holding his strength back.
Jiang Chen shook his head lightly and privately flicked a glance at the South Sect Sectmaster Shen Rong. A sly old fox was the master at machination and maneuver. It looked like the North Sect would still be unable to win for the next ten years.
Just as the thought flashed through Jiang Chen’s mind, Lu Boyu lightly exhaled forcefully and snatched out softly with his hand, grabbing Wen Ziqi’s trailing sleeve and brought it for a sniff in front of his nose. “Mm, national beauty and a heavenly fragrance – great commendation, great commendation!”
Wen Ziqi was the epitome of awkwardness as she could neither advance nor retreat in that moment. Her eyes red, tears were already rolling in her eyes.
North Sect Madame Jade slammed her hand down on the table and rose, speaking angrily to Shen Rong of the South Sect. “Shen Rong, are your disciples just as wicked and philandering as you?”
Shen Rong laughed heartily and lightly rubbed his sideburns. “Junior sister Jade, what’s the harm in the young making harmless jokes?”
Madame Jade was so infuriated that her alluring body trembled slightly and her pink face was suffused red with anger. She had labored over ten years of preparations but was still one step short in the end. It was easy to imagine the bout of depression she felt.
Lu Boyu cupped his hands at Wen Ziqi, “Junior sister Wen, your foolish brother had no other intention and was purely jesting with you, that was all.”
Tears rolling in her eyes, Wen Ziqi lightly stomped her foot and ran to Madame Jade, starting to cry out of her aggrievement.
“What are you crying for?” Madame Jade was similarly depressed and she lectured, “Your skills were not as good as others, so just go back and train well. How will you bear responsibility for great matters in the future if you only know to shed tears when you run into anything?”
As the victor, Shen Rong didn’t take the advantage to add insult to injury. Rather, he walked in front of Madame Jade and cupped his hands, “Junior sister, the stroke of a brush does not create two Star Argus Palaces. Although you and I are of the North and South Sects, the god of destiny has made fools of people. I have always had a noble ambition during my stewardship of the Star Argus Palace, and that is to merge our North and South Sect and recover the glorious days of yesteryear, strengthening our Star Argus Palace’s reputation, allowing our Palace to become a first rate sect in all of the Eastern Kingdom.”
“Pretentious hypocrite.” Madame Jade wasn’t in a good mood.
“Junior sister, your foolish brother was contemplating in the depths of the mountains a while ago and unintentionally discovered a hidden spot of the sect. It may touch upon the heritage of the founder of our Star Argus Palace. Your foolish brother finds it difficult to do so much single handedly, and would like to invite junior sister to return to the mountain and discuss a strategy together.” Shen Rong’s posture was quite low.
“Secret spot of the sect? Founder of the sect?” Madame Jade’s refined brows lifted slightly.
“Junior sister, you and I are of the same sect and same origin. Why the need to separate yours from mine on such an important matter? If this matter can facilitate the merging of the two sects, in the future, wouldn’t you and I have rendered a great service to the sect?” Shen Rong’s tone was exceedingly sincere.
Madame Jade mused in deep contemplation as she felt a bit of dilemma. If Shen Rong’s attitude had been haughty, Madame Jade would have surely left with a flourish of her sleeves.
But on the contrary, Shen Rong had humbled himself and every word he spoke was from the basis of the righteous cause for the sect. This tempted Madame Jade a bit.
“Junior sister, there are many people here. Why don’t you and I first discuss this in the sect’s secret room? I have a few clues that just so happen to need to be discussed with junior sister.”
Madame Jade hesitated for a bit and finally nodded. “Shen Rong, if you truly have the intention to help the sect merge as one, then I, Madame Jade, am not a heartless person.”
Shen Rong was overjoyed, “Junior sister’s magnanimity is the blessing of our sect. This way please.”
He immediately gave orders to Lu Boyu, “Boyu, you look after the assorted honored guests. I have matters to discuss with my junior sister.”
Shen Rong expressed his apologies to the guests and moved to the internal areas of the Star Argus Sect along with Madame Jade.
Jiang Chen sat in his seat, rather baffled. A competition had ended just like that, but he had gathered no clues at all.
Instinct told him that there was definitely something out of the ordinary at this decennial event. Yet, he couldn’t find any traces of it, no matter how he observed.
“Just where did it go wrong?” The guests were already dispersing in twos and threes. Some intended to leave, while others were preparing to return to their quarters and leave after supping at the Star Argus Palace’s banquet.
Jiang Chen was helpless and without a strategy at that moment, as he sank into an impasse.
“Did I really make this trip for nothing?” Jiang Chen was unwilling to concede defeat. He felt sure that he had missed some fine details.
After training “Boulder’s Heart”, he was confident that his intuition was much stronger than that of ordinary folks.
At this moment, another disciple walked out from within the inner doors and spoke to the six or seven female disciples left behind, of whom included Wen Ziqi. “Junior sisters, in accordance with the master’s junior’s orders, I invite my fellow junior sisters to go and pay our respects to the sect’s founding master.”
Upon hearing that it was their master’s orders and that it had to do with paying respects to the founding master, Wen Ziqi naturally didn’t decline and followed the disciple away.
Gazing at the messenger disciple, Jiang Chen’s emotions bafflingly palpated a bit.
“Haven’t I met this person?” Jiang Chen went over the experiences of the past few days in his mind, but couldn’t find any memories with regards to this person.
But, when this disciple had arrived just now, his mental strength had detected a strand of a familiar feeling.
“Who was that person?” Jiang Chen’s thoughts flickered and he walked towards Lu Boyu. “Brother Lu.”
Lu Boyu took in Jiang Chen’s appearance as a wandering practitioner and smiled faintly, “What instructions does this honored guest have?”
“Brother Lu, the disciple that came by with a message just now, who is he in the Star Argus Palace?”
“Oh, that was one of master’s honorary disciples. I can’t remember his name. What, do you know him?”
Jiang Chen shook his head. “Just curious.”
An honorary disciple, obviously someone with no particular reputation, yet, he’d given Jiang Chen a familiar feeling. Jiang Chen instinctively followed them outside.
But, when he chased out after them, there were no traces of those people outside.
The most peculiar thing was was that the female disciples should’ve had a particular body scent. But at this moment, a strange smell permeated the air, making it impossible to discern the scent of the female disciples.
“No, this isn’t right.” Jiang Chen immediately employed God’s Eye to the extreme and looked around his surroundings, but still came up empty handed.
It was as if that honorary disciple had vanished into thin air with those female disciples.
Jiang Chen found a South Sect disciple and asked him where the temple of the founding master was. When he swiftly hurried there, the locks were hung upon the doors to the temple. There were obviously no rites of worship to the founding master.
“Indeed, something’s wrong with that honorary disciple!” Jiang Chen calmed down and went over the entire matter again. Suddenly, the South Sect Sectmaster Shen Rong’s sideburns floated in Jiang Chen’s mind.
“Hmm? Shen Rong! Right! I’d actually detected Shen Rong’s presence on that messenger disciple just now. Although that person consciously concealed his presence, a few minute movements and subconscious habits were unable to escape from my God’s Eye’s notice!”
“Is something amiss with this Shen Rong?” Jiang Chen hesitated no longer when his thoughts arrived at this point, and he deployed God’s Eye, Ear of the Zephyr, and Boulder’s Heart to their utmost.