He Zhang had sent the Dawn Sect disciples out on an urgent mission in the dead of the night. Naturally, he was responsible for the well being of all of the disciples.
In the cultivation world, there was no doubt that the prospects of having one’s cultivation crippled was far worse than the prospects of being killed. The former resulted in a life worse than death, and the latter was a form of relief once and for all. After all, a dead person would no longer need to bother with the gazes of smug people delighting in their misery.
Thus, He Zhang could already imagine the kind of repercussions the crippling of these Dawn Sect disciples was going to cause within the Sect.
If he had a choice, he would much rather sacrifice half of everything he owned in order to turn back time than have such an irretrievable incident occur under his charge. Furthermore, such an incident could not simply be swept under the rug and forgotten over time. After all, these disciples were already in the eleventh and twelfth levels of Qi Mastery, and they were well-loved disciples that could be considered the core disciples within the entire Sect. Unless he could somehow pull their cultivation levels back out of nowhere and stuff them back into the bodies of these disciples, the thoughts of concealing this incident would remain as nothing more than a mere fantasy.
Without any other choice, He Zhang began to turn his thoughts to whether it was possible to use another outrageous incident to capture everyone’s attention in the hope that the shock of the second incident would dilute the impact caused by the first incident.
Then, as expected, once He Zhang alerted the incident to the Sect Elders and Peakmasters later that morning, all eyes were on him, and he immediately became the object of wrath of every single other person in the room, as though they had completely forgotten or overlooked his identity as the Sect Leader. Everyone began to make sharp, incisive remarks bringing his judgment into question, blaming him for the Sect’s irretrievable loss of several core disciples on whom the hope of their Sect was built upon.
At the same time, He Zhang’s was infuriated as well. He sincerely believed that this incident was not entirely attributable to his fault. No matter how he thought about it, the only miscalculation on his part was the fact that the array master would actually be so formidable that he could completely cripple several core disciples using his formation arrays within just a few hours of time.
That said, what would happen if he did nothing to deal with this array master? They would undoubtedly be forced to part ways with an incredulous number of valuables and treasures as remuneration for his services – this was an equally undesirable outcome. This being the case, there was no harm attempting to dispose of this array master in the hope that they could save the Sect some resources.
“Sect Leader He, I don’t care what you say about this matter. I’ve got two dear disciples who have lost everything because of your horrendously erroneous decision this time. Tell me what you’re going to do about this.” The Sixth Elder stated with a cold, unyielding tone of voice. The Sixth Elder was known to prefer to keep his thoughts to himself. Thus, the fact that he had even decided to speak up in public at the meeting spoke volumes about just how infuriated he was.
“This Sect Leader will personally apologize to the two disciples of yours, and I’ll make an appropriate arrangement to settle them down and give them sufficient living expenses so that they don’t have to worry about lacking anything for the remainder of their entire lives.” He Zhang was left with no choice but to make such a promise in an attempt to appease all of the Sect Elders and Peakmasters around.
Unfortunately, this incident was far too severe, and the Sect Elders and Peakmasters could never be appeased with such a simple, thoughtless arrangement.
The Sixth Elder coldly chuckled, “Sect Leader, are you trying to stave off a beggar? They’ll get some living expenses, but what about me? The disciples that I’d wholeheartedly nurtured for years and years had become completely crippled just like that – don’t you think you should make an expression of contriteness to me as well, huh?!”
He Zhang suppressed the frustrations that were roiling in his heart as he responded with some measure of disdain, “Sixth Elder, I’d never expected something like this to occur as well. Furthermore, when I’d earlier suggested to dispose of that array master, didn’t all of you decide to hold your tongue in tacit agreement to such an arrangement as well? What’s the matter? Do you think you have the right to push all the blame to me now that something has happened?”
The Sixth Elder was just about to refute He Zhang’s allegations when Qin Lingyu interjected.
Qin Lingyu bowed politely as he addressed all of the Sect Elders and Peakmasters, “Dear Sect Elders and Peakmasters, pardon the interjection, but I pray you’ll allow disciple to make his thoughts known. Disciple thinks that even though master is partially to blame for the slight oversight on his part, the fact remains that the result was something that master never wanted either. There were just a multitude of factors that had resulted in the unforeseen, undesirable circumstances. However, if we take a step back from this incident and look at the big picture, it would be well apparent that our greatest enemies are still staring at us like a tiger waiting to strike. If this incident resulted in an internal strife, this might just give our enemies the opportunity that they need – the potential losses at that time would be immeasurable. Therefore, rather than pressing this issue and ignoring the more imminent threat to us, would it not be more prudent to take a step back from the present issue and focus on what’s more important right now? Once the imminent, pressing issues have been resolved, we can set out hearts at ease and have a good sit down once more to properly talk about what needs to be done. I wonder what the Sect Elders and the Peakmasters think of disciple’s suggestions?”
Qin Lingyu’s spiel had silenced everyone and put them deep in thought.
He was right. This was a crucial period of time for the Sect. Jun Linxuan of the Heavenly Peak was presently breathing down their necks, ostensibly devising a plan to return to the Dawn Sect to rescue his disciples. If an internal strife erupted within the Sect, this might give Jun Linxuan the prime opportunity that he needs to make his move. At that time, the losses to the Dawn Sect would truly be immeasurable.
The Sixth Elder glanced at Qin Lingyu once more, before snorting at He Zhang, “Sect Elder He, you should count yourself lucky that you’ve got a wise disciple.”
The Sixth Elder had always addressed He Zhang as the “Sect Leader”, and the fact that he was so insistent on distancing himself and addressing He Zhang as “Sect Leader He” spoke volumes about just how mad he was right now.
He Zhang’s heart was finally set at ease. He gave Qin Lingyu a discreet, affirming look, before turning back to the Sect Elders and Peakmasters as he made a fist and palm salute, “I, He Zhang, am a man of my word. I assure you all that I’ll properly account for this incident as soon as we manage to deal with Jun Linxuan and the Heavenly Peak.”
Everyone was evidently still displeased by the fact that there was no satisfactory conclusion to the incident today. However, they knew that the big picture was of the utmost importance right now. Thus, they decided to shelf their thoughts and tacitly agreeing to the present arrangement for now.
“That’s right, I still think that this incident isn’t as simple as meets the eye.” Qin Lingyu suddenly spoke up once more.
“What do you mean?”
“Back when master agreed to his increased fees, there was undoubtedly a look of joy on the face of this array master. Thus, I’ve got reason to believe that he was sincerely after the Sect’s remuneration for his services. Since that’s the case, why would he choose to leave under the cover of night and forgo the remuneration for his services entirely?”
“Hmph! We’ve already sent people after his life. Why wouldn’t he leave the place?” The hot-tempered Fifth Elder immediately rebutted Qin Lingyu’s suggestions.
“I still think that there’s something fishy about this. If he was truly that capable, he could have locked up all of the disciples within the formation array, use them as hostages and threaten to cripple their cultivation if we refused to hand over his remuneration. But he did not do so. Instead, all he did was to painstakingly set up a whole bunch of formation arrays to deal with the intruders before leaving the place in a hurry, forgoing every last bit of his remuneration. Don’t you think that this doesn’t really cohere with his avaricious personality and character?”
“Young man Qin, what are you trying to suggest? I don’t understand what you’re getting at.” The Fifth Elder glared at Qin Lingyu with some measure of impatience.
“What I’m suggesting is that someone within the Sect might have helped him escape under the cover of night, and these formation arrays was not solely set up by him alone.”
“Hah?! Young man Qin, your imagination is too rich and wild. If our Sect had such formidable array masters, would we need to spend so much time and money inviting other array masters to look into our Sect’s protective formation array to begin with?!” The Fifth Elder chuckled contemptuously.
“Indeed, the Dawn Sect doesn’t have any array masters at all. But, has Fifth Elder already forgotten? At this moment, there is in fact one other outsider within the Dawn Sect’s grounds right now…”
Qin Lingyu’s suggestions were all alluding to one single “outsider” of the Sect – none other than the man known as Jun Ziwen.
The Fifth Elder knitted his brows together. His instincts told him that there might be issues with what Qin Lingyu was suggesting at this moment, yet he could not put a finger on just where these gaps in his suggestions lay.
On the other hand, it was the Second Elder who had latched onto the crux of what Qin Lingyu was suggesting as he explained, “Lingyu, your words aren’t illogical, but everything is a mere conjecture on your part. Without any proof or evidence, there’s simply nothing for your allegations to stand on.”
Qin Lingyu smiled as he responded, “But, Second Elder, we don’t have to wait for something to base our allegations on before we make a move, isn’t it?”
“Oh? What do you mean?”
“Disciple has always been incredibly suspicious of Jun Ziwen’s true identity and motives. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find any proof or evidence putting his character and identity in question. Now that something has happened within the Sect, disciple thinks that it would be imprudent not to put our guard up around him. Thus, I believe that the best way to deal with this matter is to test that man, Jun Ziwen.” Qin Lingyu calmly explained his thoughts. As soon as he finished speaking, the Sect Elders and the Peakmasters immediately appeared to be deep in thought.
Some moments later, the Fifth Elder chuckled loudly as he patted Qin Lingyu’s shoulder, “Not bad, little lad. You’ve got some brains there. You’re right. Rather than to continue being suspicious of Jun Ziwen’s identity, we could simply put him through a test. If there’s something wrong with his identity, it’s only a matter of time before he reveals that much.”
“That’s right. Furthermore, there wouldn’t really be any issues if we accidentally caused his death, is there? This is the Dawn Sect after all. It’s our territory. Do we really have to be so hesitant moving against such a small, insignificant rogue cultivator?” The Third Elder chimed in, registering his approval as well. Then, everyone began to respond with a similar measure of approval.
Just like that, the entire group of leaders of the Dawn Sect began to come up with a scheme to deal with the outsider, Jun Ziwen.
Once they formulated a plan and concluded their discussions, they adjourned the meeting, and everyone left the meeting hall. On the other hand, He Zhang walked over to Qin Lingyu’s side and patted him on the shoulder as he praised him, “It’s a good thing that you were around. This meeting would not have gone so smoothly otherwise. It’s a huge sense of consolation to your master that you’re so outstanding. Your future prospects are great.”
Qin Lingyu smiled faintly as he responded, “It’s disciple’s duty to share master’s burdens after all.”
Qin Lingyu appeared to be completely genuine and honest in his response. Yet when he lowered his head, a bright glimmer flickered across the depths of his eyes.
Truth be told, he could hardly be bothered even if something happened to He Zhang earlier. His main goal for doing what he did was simply to kill with a borrowed knife.
Ever since their first encounter, he had already detested how Qin Shanshan would stick closely by Jun Ziwen’s side. After all, he knew that as long as Jun Ziwen remained around her, the implementation of his own plans would only be an increasingly uphill task.
That said, he had managed to get the Dawn Sect’s Sect Elders and the Peakmasters on his side right now. Jun Ziwen’s fate had to be sealed in stone. After all, when all was said and done, Jun Ziwen was only at the Nascent Soul stage of cultivation, and he could hardly hold a candle when compared with some of the Sect Elders or He Zhang.
Discreetly, Qin Lingyu curled his lips into a wicked smile, and a vicious expression surfaced in the depths of his cold eyes.
They would be making a move against Jun Ziwen in three days’ time.
The Dawn Sect’s leaders firmly believed that their plan was flawless. Yet how would they have known that a massive “flaw” would surface in their schemes the moment their devious plan was hatched and set in stone?
In order to better understand the plans of these Dawn Sect leaders over the next few days, Jun Xiaomo had secretly imbued the Humanoid Puppet last night with a crafty spell.
Apart from distracting and confusing the Dawn Sect disciples, the Humanoid Puppet that had taken on Chen Taiguang’s appearance served yet another purpose – and that was to eavesdrop. In the moment that He Zhang stepped into the room, a humanoid-shaped talisman that had largely been burnt to a crisp silently and discreetly adhered itself to He Zhang’s clothes.
Two-thirds of the humanoid-shaped talisman had already been burnt up, leaving one-third of its whole remaining. It was incredibly small, and it could be easily glossed over if one did not particularly take notice of it. In fact, it was for this very reason that He Zhang had failed to notice the existence of this little humanoid-shaped talisman on his body this entire time.
Just like that, He Zhang carried the remnants of the little humanoid-shaped talisman along with him as he summoned all of the Sect Elders and Peakmasters, informed them of the incident resulting in the crippling of several disciples’ cultivations, as well as discussed and finalized how they were going to “test” Jun Ziwen’s identity.
Even though the pretext was to “test” Jun Ziwen, He Zhang and the other Dawn Sect leaders had most certainly already determined that Jun Ziwen’s fate was sealed. In their eyes, it was better to kill an innocent outsider than to risk having an enemy living within their midst.
That said, none of them could ever have expected the main perpetrator, Jun Xiaomo, to have picked up on every single detail of their plans through the remnant humanoid-shaped talisman on He Zhang’s body at all.
“Jun Ziwen, since they intend to dispose of you, shall we similarly make our move in three days’ time as well?” Jun Xiaomo smiled radiantly as she suggested to Ye Xiuwen.
Ye Xiuwen raised his eyebrows, asking, “Move? What move?”
“Of course it’s the most important part of why we’re here – breaching the Sect’s forbidden grounds.” Jun Xiaomo responded with a glint in her eye and undertones of eagerness in her voice.Previous Chapter Next Chapter