Chapter 235: Drawing Suspicion

“There’s no way…” Shi Kun shook his head. “Just last night, we received news that Chu Zhongtian had left the city in a hurry. Who else in the Chu Estate could possibly be a match for Elder Shi?

“Elder Shi is an eighth rank cultivator! Even if he isn’t a match for Chu Zhongtian, he is surely strong enough to protect himself. How could he possibly die quietly at the hands of someone in the Chu clan?”

The subordinate named Bian Tai remarked, “It’s just too big of a coincidence! Elder Shi went missing yesterday, just when an intruder was discovered by the Chu clan. On top of all of this, we’ve lost contact with all of the scouts outside the Chu Estate.”

This time, apart from sending Shi Lezhi to protect Shi Kun in Brightmoon City, the Shi clan had also dispatched the meticulous Bian Tai. Only with these two around Shi Kun did the Shi clan’s master feel at ease.

Bian Tai’s cultivation was far inferior to Shi Lezhi’s, but he was an excellent schemer. The previous assassination attempts in the dungeon had been his doing, and should have been guaranteed to work. However, who would have expected them to end up facing a cheat like Zu An?

Shi Kun felt a moment of trepidation. “Those men who were watching the Chu Estate have also gone missing?” 

“That’s correct,” Bian Tai confirmed. He continued, “Based on all the information we currently have, this is the most likely scenario that could have taken place:

“In order to escape pursuit, Qiao Xueying might have subconsciously sought shelter within the Chu Estate, since she is very familiar with it. Elder Shi most probably followed her there. However, perhaps fearing an encounter with Chu Zhongtian, he didn’t dare to enter immediately.

“He could have met up with the men we had stationed around the Chu Estate, who then informed him that Chu Zhongtian had left. This could have allayed his fears, and made him decide to follow her inside. After all, he knows how important Snow is to young master.”

As he spoke, Bian Tai kept a watchful eye on Shi Kun. As a trusted aide, he naturally understood what the two of them had planned.

“However, none of them expected there to be a hidden expert in the Chu Estate. Regardless of whether it was a head-on clash or a sudden ambush, in the end, Elder Shi was killed. Thereafter, the mysterious expert left the estate, silencing all of our scouts in the vicinity.”

If Zu An were here, he would have definitely sighed in admiration. This person had actually laid everything out as if he had witnessed everything himself—his suspicions were nearly identical to the truth.

“Could the Chu clan be harboring a mysterious expert like that?” Shi Kun’s face was full of disbelief. “How could this be possible? Even Chu Zhongtian can’t kill Elder Shi so easily! Are you telling me that this individual is even stronger than Chu Zhongtian?!”

Bian Tai wore a forced smile. “It seems inconceivable to me as well. However, if we eliminate everything that is not true, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Just then, another scout returned with a report. “Reporting! This is news from within the Chu Estate. Last night, Madam Chu suddenly gathered all of the estate’s guards and initiated the highest level of alert. They suspected that the intruder was an eighth ranked expert.”

“What?!” Shi Kun immediately straightened in his seat. Beside him, Bian Tai also turned a curious gaze on the newly-arrived scout.

If the intruder was confirmed to be at the eighth rank, who else could it be but Shi Leizhi?

After all, the number of eighth rank cultivators in Brightmoon City could be counted with one hand!

“What happened then?” Bian Tai asked.

The scout replied, “Madam Chu brought the guards to search for the intruder, and they discovered that he had already been killed by Zu An.”

“Zu An!” Even Bian Tai was shocked, not to mention Shi Kun.

How could this be?!

Shi Lezhi was an eighth rank expert, while Zu An was merely at the third rank. The former could kill the latter with hardly any effort, so how did he end up being killed by Zu An instead?

“Are you certain that it was Elder Shi?” Bian Tai was the first to gather his wits.

“According to the information from within the Chu clan, the intruder was struck in the head by Zu An’s ‘Six Pulse Divine Sword’. Half his head was blown apart, and the face was completely unrecognizable. It was impossible to confirm if the deceased was Elder Shi.” The scout’s voice trembled as he spoke.

“'Six Pulse Divine Sword?” Bian Tai narrowed his eyes. “Young master, “this one is still ignorant and inexperienced. Have you heard of this battle skill before?”

Shi Kun said furiously, “How would he know of a bullshit skill like the ‘Six Pulse Divine Sword’? I chased him down like a dog in that dungeon. Why didn’t I see him use it then?”

You have successfully trolled Shi Kun for 999 Rage points!

(Zu An sneezed. Just who is thinking about me now?)

When Shi Kun first heard about this fellow half a month ago, he didn’t regard him as anyone important. There was no way such a scoundrel was worth treating as a rival.

However, the most perfect and beautiful wife in his eyes had already been seized by Zu An, and he’d been left covered in grime time and time again while chasing that brat through the dungeon. And now, even Elder Shi had met his end at the hands of this fellow?

This was impossible!

No matter what skill this scoundrel had, there was no way that he could have killed Elder Shi!

Bian Tai spoke up. “In the mountains behind the academy, Zu An was able to cleave through young master’s sword in one move. The strength he displayed at that time was surely beyond a third rank cultivator. Could he have had some type of encounter in the dungeon that taught him this ‘Six Pulse Divine Sword’?”

“Not a chance.” Shi Kun’s face was a dreadful mask. This aide of his was normally brilliant, so why did he keep bringing up such possibilities now? 

“Elder Shi already analyzed him previously. That fellow’s strength is indeed a bit strange, and he can’t be classified as a true third rank cultivator. However, at his peak, he wouldn’t exceed the fifth rank in terms of strength. He cannot control any elemental force either, so he isn’t even a match for a true fifth rank cultivator. There is no way Elder Shi’s analysis was wrong.”

Bian Tai opened his mouth to say something, but stopped himself.

Shi Kun snorted coldly. “Don’t bring up that piece-of-trash Yuan Wendong. At the critical moment, he actually had the nerve to be distracted and talk to his opponent. Let’s not forget that Zu An even prepared a secret weapon to specially restrain his flying swords. Without it, Zu An wouldn’t have stood any chance, no matter how distracted Yuan Wendong had let himself become.”

Bian Tai pondered for a moment, then said in a low voice, “I concur that, with Zu An’s strength, being able to kill Elder Shi is somewhat unrealistic. If that is the case, the most probable explanation is that he has a mysterious master behind him.”

“Mysterious master?” Shi Kun was stunned.

“Indeed.” Bian Su’s thoughts moved like electricity, his words tumbling out of his mouth. “Just like the intelligence Miss Qiao gave us before…”

He noticed that Shi Kun’s face became as dark as charcoal, and he hurriedly added, “Even though Qiao Xueying has now betrayed young master, she was previously a loyal and devoted servant. Her reports from before should still be accurate.

“How else could Zu An, Brightmoon City’s notorious good-for-nothing, undergo such a transformation during this period of time, even to the extent of being able to face young master?

“There is definitely a hidden expert with profound cultivation instructing him. Only such a powerful cultivator could completely transform that piece of trash.”

Bian Tai sighed deeply. “Going back further, perhaps him becoming the Chu clan’s young master wasn’t anything unexpected. It wasn’t that the Chu clan had lost all reason. Perhaps, through this mysterious person behind him, all these irrational things can be explained.”

“A mysterious master…” Shi Kun still struggled with the possibility. He wasn’t stupid—on the contrary, he was considered extremely smart. He wouldn’t have been able to reach his level of cultivation at such a young age otherwise. After listening to Bian Tai’s analysis, he turned things over in his mind, and was shocked to discover that it was indeed the only possibility.

“Why would someone like him be deserving of all of this?!” His understanding of the situation merely inflamed his hatred further. “Why would such an incredible and mysterious person favor trash like Zu An? Wouldn’t it be easier to choose someone with better aptitude to teach?”

If they could easily kill Elder Shi, then their cultivation must at least be at the pinnacle of eight rank, with a possibility that they were even at the Master stage.

How could he—who had enjoyed the finest garments and the most sumptuous of meals from birth—have never had the privilege of being guided by such an individual, while this little bastard did? The thought of it sent him berserk with a jealous rage.

You have successfully trolled Shi Kun for 1024 Rage points!

Bian Tai shared his confusion. “Perhaps that expert had been treated kindly by Zu An’s ancestors, or he is somehow conspiring against the Chu clan… I will have my people look into these things immediately.”

“There’s no need.” Shi Kun raised a hand to stop him. “Let’s return to the capital city as early as possible.”

“Return to the capital?” Bian Tai was shocked. “We are going back just like this?”

Shi Kun exploded with fury. “Do you think I want to?! However, my life-saving artifact was used up in the dungeon, and now, even Elder Shi has been killed! On top of all of this, you’re telling me that a terrifying and mysterious expert is lurking about, who might very well be Zu An’s master. That scoundrel Zu An is my mortal enemy. If he asks his master to act against me, how could I possibly face him?”

Bian Tai’s brow furrowed. “An expert on this level shouldn’t act against juniors. Moreover, young master possesses extraordinary standing. How could the Chu clan dare to act publicly against young master?”

“Just how precious do you think my life is? I cannot take the slightest bit of risk. There is no need to discuss this matter further. You can withdraw to make preparations. I am going to pay the Sang estate a visit.” After saying this, he sought out the guards with the highest cultivation levels and left with a grave expression.

Bian Tai sighed inwardly as he watched Shi Kun’s departing figure. He understood the temperament of this young master of the Shi clan better than anyone else. His aptitude was extremely high, and while in public, he treated everyone perfectly. However, in reality, his personality was completely rotten.

Shi Kun had everything handed to him on a silver platter since birth, and everything went too smoothly for him. It was too easy for him to obtain whatever he wanted, and so he never treasured anything. Whenever he suffered a setback, he would immediately erupt in anger.

He sensed a difference in the young master ever since he had returned from the dungeon. Shi Lezhi’s tragic fate seemed to be the final straw that broke this camel’s back.

Shi Kun hurried to the Sang estate. Of course, this Sang estate wasn’t the Governor’s Estate where Sang Hong resided. Rather, it was where River Patrol Commander Sang Qian lived.

Sang Qian was surprised by Shi Kun’s arrival, but still went out to greet him with a smile.

“I didn’t come here for nonsense. I came to meet your father.” Shi Lezhi’s death had cast a terrible shadow on Shi Kun’s mood.

His rude tone of voice caused Sang Qian to curse inwardly, and his brow furrowed. However, the Shi clan’s standing was too great, and he could not afford to offend the young master. He tamped down on his anger and said, “Young master Shi must be joking. My father lives in the Governor’s Estate. Why would he be in Brightmoon City?”

The Governor’s Estate was located in the capital city of Linchuan Commandery, not in Brightmoon City. Sang Hong usually remained in the Governor’s Estate and seldom appeared in Brightmoon City, to forestall any rumors that he was somehow neglecting his duty.

“There’s no need for this meaningless charade, considering our close ties. I have urgent business to discuss with your father, so hurry and bring me to him.” Shi Kun said impatiently.

With Shi Kun being so direct, there was nothing else for Sang Qian to do. After ensuring that they were alone, he escorted Shi Kun all the way to a private room in the rear hall.

Sang Hong had come to Linchuan Commandery for the sake of dealing with the Chu clan. Naturally, then, he had to be in Brightmoon City to oversee this effectively.

Of course, there was no way to publicly reveal this, and so he usually lay low in his son’s estate.

“Just what is it that has made young master Shi so anxious?” Sang Hong inquired casually, calmly pouring a cup of tea.

He was still feeling disgruntled. This fellow had barged in so directly, he was sure to have attracted attention from all directions.

“Elder Shi died last night.” Shi Kun said with a sullen expression.

“What?” Sang Qian cried out in alarm.

Sang Hong gave his son a dissatisfied look. This fellow was nothing like him, and had absolutely no composure. He took his time to return his teacup to the table before asking, “Shi Lezhi died? Who in all of Brightmoon City could possibly kill him, or would even dare to kill him?”

He understood Shi Lezhi’s cultivation well. In all of Brightmoon City, he was at least one of the ten strongest individuals, perhaps even in the top five.

Among those ten, only three or four possessed the ability to kill him. However, they were all individuals with high standing who were deeply entwined with the various other powers in the country. If any of them made a move, they would affect the balance of powers tremendously. How could such an individual possibly afford to publicly offend the Shi clan?

Shi Kun’s handsome face twitched, and he spat out a name through clenched teeth that Sang Hong hadn’t expected at all.

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