Chapter 16: Deep Brotherly Ties

Chapter 16: Deep Brotherly Ties

Zu An chuckled to himself. “It would be wonderful to have Brother Twelve taking care of me along the way.” He had already verified that this fellow had vile intentions in his mind. This was a good opportunity for him to figure out just who the one aiming to take his life was.

So, the two of them left the city together.

It was only today that Zu An finally realized just how fortunate he was on his first day. The suburbs he woke up at were, strictly speaking, not really the suburbs. It was still considered to be within human territory as there were soldiers and cultivators patrolling the area to prevent wild beasts from harming anyone. Anywhere beyond there would be really the wilderness. Just the Hidden Dragon Mountain in the vicinity of Brightmoon City had innumerable wild beasts running amok there.

From time to time, wild beasts would appear at the foot of the mountain and harm those passing by the area. The main point of the sentry posts between the wilderness and the suburbs was to guard against the wild beasts, as well as to advise ordinary mortals who didn’t know better to turn back.

It was fortunate that Zu An had Plum Blossom Twelve with him. The latter brought out an item that appeared to be travel documents and revealed his cultivation too, and it was only then that the guards of the sentry posts finally allowed them to pass.

After leaving the sentry post, Zu An turned to look at Plum Blossom Twelve with a look of admiration. “Brother, what’s your current cultivation level? Those soldiers seem to look up to you.” He was making use of the opportunity while the other party didn’t know about his own circumstances to scout some news, so that he could make countermeasures in advance.

Plum Blossom Twelve was obviously flattered by Zu An’s words. “It’s still so-so. I’m only at the third step of the second rank.”

Looks like he isn’t that powerful either. That’s equivalent to me cultivating for a day, Zu An thought.

Plum Blossom Twelve was waiting for Zu An to lavish him with praises so that he could continue his humblebragging, but unexpectedly, the latter looked completely dazed, not saying a word at all.

However, Plum Blossom Twelve quickly rationalized it as the trash Zu An not knowing the basic cultivation levels at all. Naturally, the latter wouldn’t know just how difficult it was to reach the third step of the second rank.

Zu An continued asking, “Wow. You must be the strongest one amongst your brothers, right?” He remembered those novels he had read in his previous life, where after the protagonist got rid of an enemy, the enemy’s friends, family, backing, and all sorts of nonsense would pop out. This showed the importance of gathering information before doing anything.

“Nay, that’s not so. There are quite a few who are as strong as me, and the strongest one is actually my thirteenth brother. He’s already reached the third rank,” Plum Blossom Twelve replied with a proud tone. His thirteen brothers had been enjoying quite a bit of fame over the last few years.

“If all of you are this formidable, wouldn’t your sect master be a really incredible figure?” Zu An went along with the flow and asked.

“Of course! Our sect master is already…” It was then that Plum Blossom Twelve suddenly realized that he was talking too much, so he quickly changed his words. “Forget it. You don’t know anything about cultivation anyway. What’s the point of saying all of this to you?”

Zu An felt a bit regretful that Plum Blossom Twelve noticed his intention, but he did manage to gather quite a bit of useful intelligence.

Shortly after leaving the sentry post, they found a person walking in their direction. That person’s face visibly darkened upon seeing Plum Blossom Twelve. He immediately pulled down his bamboo hat, turned around, and began walking away hurriedly.

Plum Blossom Twelve seemed to recognize that person. He quickly took a few large strides over to catch up with that person, calling out, “Brother Tan, what are you in such a rush for?”

Seeing that he had been recognized, the person also stopped his attempt to escape. He tightened his grip around the saber in his hand as he asked, “Plum Blossom Twelve, are you here to capture me?”

Plum Blossom Twelve raised his hands up to indicate that he had no ill will in mind. “Brother Tan, it’s one thing for you to suspect others, but why are you suspecting me too? Do you still remember those days we spent fighting against the Azure Dragon Sect? If not for you risking your life to carry me out, I would have already been dead by now!”

“You still remember that?” Brother Tan’s expression visibly alleviated after hearing those words.

“How could I ever forget your grace? In the first place, it’s just a misunderstanding between you and our sect master. It should be fine as long as you explain things to the sect master properly, so why do you have to run?” Plum Blossom Twelve asked. “We used to hang out with one another, eating meat and drinking wine heartily together. But ever since you left, I haven’t been able to find anyone else to accompany me.”

Brother Tan’s eyes reddened. Veins popped out from his hands as he said, “You need not speak on his behalf. How can I possibly swallow the humiliation of having my wife taken away from me? My only regret is my failure to kill him with my saber back then!”

“It’s not my place to say anything about the grudge between you and the sect master. From a personal point of view, I really pity you.” Plum Blossom Twelve patted Brother Tan’s shoulder in consolation. “However, a true man like you won’t have any lack of women. Given your capabilities, you can easily find a place for yourself. There’s no need to lose heart.”

Brother Tan’s eyes glimmered in gratitude. “Our brothers have been hunting me down over the last few days. You’re the only one who still cares about me.”

“Of course! We’re brothers who have braved through danger with one another! How can we be the same as the others?” Plum Blossom Twelve replied with a chuckle.

Brother Tan was deeply moved. “Brother, can I entrust you with something?”

Plum Blossom Twelve patted his chest and said, “Feel free to speak your mind! As long as you don’t ask me to betray my sect, I’ll do anything for you!”

“Of course, I won’t ask anything of you that puts you in a spot!” Brother Tan explained. “It’s like this. As I escaped in a hurry, I wasn’t able to bring out the 100 silver taels that I saved up over the years. Can you return to the sect and fetch it for me? I’ll split half of it with you!”

“Brother Tan, you’re being too courteous with me! That’s nothing much at all! How could I take the money from my benefactor? Don’t worry, you can count on me to retrieve your money!” Plum Blossom Twelve said with a wave of his hand.

“You’re truly a good brother!” Brother Tan was delighted. “Don’t worry, I’ll surely split half of it with you once the deed is done! My money is hidden in the wall of my residence’s backyard, behind the ninth brick on the sixth row…”

“Alright, I got it down.” Plum Blossom Twelve nodded. “However, I’m a bit busy at the moment. I’m accompanying this brother here to the Wolf Valley, so you’ll have to wait a while for me.”

Brother Tan shot a glance at the ditzy-looking Zu An, and he immediately understood what was going on. He knew just what kind of place the Wolf Valley was—it was perfect for disposing of corpses, and they had often used that location to eliminate high-profile targets whom they couldn’t deal with openly. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you take care of him.”

Plum Blossom Twelve clasped his fist. “My deepest gratitude to you then, Brother Tan.”

Watching as Brother Tan made his way toward him with a saber in hand, Zu An felt a little stifled. “Why am I the one suffering over your brotherhood?”

While Zu An was wondering if he should reveal his cultivation, his body suddenly stiffened in shock. Right before his eyes, Plum Blossom Twelve suddenly darted forward, pulled Brother Tan back by his face, and slit a dagger right across his neck.

Brother Tan grabbed his neck in horror as he staggered forward. He pointed a finger at Plum Blossom Twelve incredulously as he muttered hoarsely, “Y-you…”

Plum Blossom Twelve took out a handkerchief to wipe off the blood on his dagger. “Since I get to obtain the reward from our sect master and monopolize your money by killing you, why should I bother helping you?”

“You won’t… won’t die a… good death…” Grabbing his throat desperately, Brother Tan fell to the ground before finally breathing his last. Even after death, his eyes were still widened from indignance, unable to rest in peace.

“Only the weak bark insults in a fit of anger.” Plum Blossom Twelve placed his dagger back into its sheath. He walked over to Zu An and assured him. “Brother Zu, you need not be afraid. He’s a traitor of our sect, a person who deserves to die!”

“Oh…” Zu An gulped down a mouthful of saliva. Plum Blossom Twelve ‘Brother Zu’ sounded particularly jarring all of a sudden. After all, the last person whom the latter addressed as a ‘brother’ was currently lying on the ground, deader than a pig.

For the latter part of the journey, the atmosphere between the two of them felt a little heavy. It was only due to the refreshing and sweet clean air around that Zu An felt a little more composed on the inside. Perhaps it was due to the raw ki lingering in the air. It was no wonder why so many people in this world were able to cultivate.

They didn’t encounter any danger for the next part of the journey as they were still in the vicinity of the border patrols. It was uncommon for wild beasts to venture out of the Hidden Dragon Mountain, and those that did were usually not too strong either.

“Now that I think about it, why are you heading to the Wolf Valley?” Plum Blossom Twelve suddenly asked out of curiosity.

“Divine Physician Ji has issued a task to gather goubaos. I’m heading there in hopes that I might somehow luck out.” Zu An spoke with an expression as naive as it could get.

“Luck out?” Plum Blossom Twelve burst into hearty laughter. Even he would only dare to walk around the outskirts of the Wolf Valley, but this fellow actually dreamed of entering the valley to search for goubaos?

Zu An laughed awkwardly and said, “I’m just trying out my luck. Who knows? Maybe I might just find some wolf carcasses lying around.”

Plum Blossom Twelve looked at Zu An in disdain, thinking that this brat sure was dumber than a rock. Nevertheless, he still held back his urge from saying anything. If the latter were to back down right now, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his plan. “You’re the son-in-law of the Chu clan. Can’t you get them to pay the consultation fee instead?”

He had heard of the rules about Divine Physician Ji’s clinic too.

Zu An sighed deeply and said, “Brother, what kind of place could a son-in-law like me possibly have in the Chu clan? Everyone looks down on me, so who would bother sparing me any money? In the end, it’s brothers like you that treat me the best. We haven’t met for such a long time, but you’re still willing to do me this huge favor.”

“Of course! If I don’t stand up for my brothers, who else should I stand up for?” Plum Blossom Twelve was impressed than this dumb lad actually had some self-awareness. “Is the First Miss of the Chu clan really pretty?” 

Someone like him couldn’t possibly have the opportunity to meet the lofty First Miss of the Chu clan. All he knew of her were from the rumors floating around.

“She’s like a fairy descending from heaven,” Zu An replied honestly. That wife of his was indeed a looker.

“How did it go with her? Did it feel like you were floating into the sky?” Plum Blossom Twelve shot Zu An a licentious look as he asked.

Zu An sneered coldly on the inside, but his response was the opposite. “She was fair, tender, and smooth. It was the best I’ve ever had.”

Plum Blossom Twelve gulped down a mouthful of saliva as he remarked in envy, “You sure are a lucky son of a bitch.”

You have successfully trolled Plum Blossom Twelve for +99 Rage!

Zu An was delighted. It seemed like this Plum Blossom Twelve was another toad lusting for the flesh of a swan.

The smell of blood suddenly drifted over from afar. Right ahead of them, there were some bone fragments scattered over the ground. It was hard to tell what animal it had come from. Plum Blossom Twelve chuckled to himself and said, “Those wild beasts that venture out of the Hidden Dragon Mountain would at least still leave some remains behind. However, if you were to fall into the hands of those Assrip Wolves, there won’t be anything left by the time they’re done with you.”

They were already incredibly close to the Wolf Valley now. There was no longer anyone around, so Plum Blossom Twelve was no longer afraid of Zu An backing out anymore.

“So that’s the Wolf Valley?” Zu An could vaguely see a valley right in front of him. Feigning a look of fright, he grabbed Plum Blossom Twelve’s arm and exclaimed, “Big brother, you need to protect me! You’re a formidable cultivator, right?”

“Yeap, it’s right in front of us. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to ‘protect’ you properly,” Plum Blossom Twelve said with a sinister smile. “Zu An, do you know that I’ve always been quite in awe of you? Say, how can a person be so naive? You haven’t grown any smarter after surviving the lightning strike. Look, you walked right into my trap right after.”

Zu An ‘panicked’. “Big brother, what are you talking about?”

He was initially intending to catch Plum Blossom Twelve off guard and assault him, but the latter’s words convinced him to stay put for the time being. He realized that it was a good opportunity for him to gather some intelligence regarding this matter.

In any case, the other party was still slightly weaker than him at the moment, and he had trump cards like the Poisonous Prick and the Poison Bottle in his hands. He thought that he stood a good chance against Plum Blossom Twelve.

Plum Blossom Twelve pushed Zu An away, and the latter fell to the ground right away like a weakling. This deepened the disdain in Plum Blossom Twelve’s eyes. He brushed the part of his robe that Zu An had grabbed earlier. “Since I’m in a good mood today, I shall enlighten you before sending you on your way. Yes, I was the one who brought you to the suburb and tied you onto a tree on that stormy night. I just didn’t think that you would be so lucky as to survive even after getting struck.”

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