Chapter 28: Hunted
Gao Yu held the letter in his hands, slightly shaking. He felt the blood rush to his head, and his cold, dark eyes were filled thick with murderous intent.
"Young Master Gao, what do think about this?" Liu Yan also felt like his limbs were as cold as ice as he asked with a frigid face.
"The entire Ling Family have evacuated, and that surely must be proof that Shattered Ice Manor's men are closing in. The reason they didn't talk to us personally and took such a roundabout manner was probably because they didn't have conclusive evidence to accuse the Feng Family. They're afraid that we wouldn't believe them and would only slow them down instead," Gao Yu said with a cool expression, and continuing on, "By evacuating en masse, they were already sending us the clearest signal about how serious the situation is!"
"Right." Liu Yan nodded his head and said with a heavy face, "We probably don't have much time left."
"I'll inform our clansmen to depart for the Arctic Mountain Range immediately. It would be best if we don't alert the Feng Family, but that is probably impossible."
Gao Yu knew very well in his heart that the Ling Family's unusual departure must have caused Feng Yi and the other to feel suspicious, and if they were to leave right after, then surely they wouldn't be able to hide it from the Feng Family any longer.
If the Feng Family and Shattered Ice Manor were truly in cahoots, then they were bound to lose their cool and act against them by blocking their way.
"The Ling Family sure acts fast. They are gone just like that, and we're slower, already one step behind them. This is probably not going to be easy." Liu Yan let out a sigh and continued, "The Ling Family member has been with us this entire time, and there wasn't anyone who left the camp. Where did they get the news?"
"It was that guy called Qin Lie! He was the only one who was moving freely this entire time!" Gao Yu let out a hmph.
"That simpleton?" Liu Yan shockingly questioned.
"Simpleton?" Gao Yu's eyes were chilly as he sucked in a deep breath and exclaimed coldly, "He's the real ruthless character in the entire Ling Family! The Ling Family had acted promptly and retreated, causing us to be left behind, so now we are forced to endure both Shattered Ice Manor and the Feng Family's attacks,buying them time to escape! What a diabolical bastard!"
Liu Yan gave it some thought and realized that, other than Qin Lie, there really was no other person from the Ling Family who left their sight. Hence, he too became as sure as Gao Yu that the mastermind behind the Ling Family was none other than Qin Lie!
"They're totally planning to sacrifice us to buy time. Truly, they are both ruthless and diabolical alright!" Liu Yan too let out a sigh.
"That damned Qin Lie!"
Gao Yu let out an angry curse before immediately leaving Liu Yan's tent in a hurry. He began to quietly inform the Gao Family and have them evacuate deep into the canyon as quietly as possible.
"Big Brother Liu, Brother Gao, just what are you guys doing? It's the middle of the night, can it be that someone among you have gotten lost as well?"
Feng Yi had already noticed something was amiss for a while now, and upon seeing the Gao Family quietly attempting to leave, he immediately realized that something must have gone wrong with the plan after giving it some thought.
He wasn't sure how such a meticulous plan could have gone wrong, but he knew for sure that it must have been exposed.
Gao Yu paid him no heed at all, and that dark and cold pair of eyes of his brutally stabbed at him once before he led the Gao Family to rush into the deeper parts of the canyon.
He knew very well that the men from Shattered Ice Manor would be arriving very soon. If he tried to confront Feng Yi now, it would be no different from committing suicide, so he could only endure it and urge the Gao Family members to escape as soon as possible.
"Young Master!" Watching the Ling Family and now the Gao Family leaving one by one as well, Feng Lun's eyes became filled with murderous intent as he asked, "How did they find out?"
Feng Yi frowned deeply as he watched the Gao Family members rush deep into the canyon, but he could not think of a reason.
After a moment's hesitation, he took out a strange-looking horn and blew out in a low, quiet tune.
The same kind of sound suddenly came from behind them, and after a start Feng Yi soon came to a complete understanding.
"Shattered Ice Manor's men are here. I do not know how they found out, but there's been a change in our plans!" Feng Yi calmed down and blew the horn again, and this time, its sound turned rapid and high-pitched.
In the forest, the Shattered Ice Manor’s elder listened to the horn sound as his face darkened. He uttered darkly, "Garbage! We made all these preparations and they still found out beforehand? How completely useless! Listen to me, bastards! They already know we're here, so let's cut the sneaky shit and kill them all already! Not a single Ling or Gao clansmen will be left alive!"
Shattered Ice Manor’s martial practitioners instantly howled their replies and charged towards the canyon at full speed.
Around the same time, Feng Yi roared his order as well, "Attack!"
The expressions of Feng Lun and the rest of the Feng Family’s martial practitioners changed, filling with murderous intent. Noticing that the Gao Family weren’t completely out of sight,, they immediately brought out their bows, spears, lances, and other long ranged ice blades and ran after them with increasing speed, all the while firing the sharp blades in their hands.
Amidst shrill howls, a rain of frigid lights soared above the valley and headed straight towards the Gao Family martial practitioners!
"Feng Yi! The Feng Family will definitely be wiped out due to your actions here today!"
Liu Yan exploded into a roar as a surge of spirit energy suddenly ballooned from inside his slightly overweight body. Immediately afterwards, circle after circle of swirling spirit energy promptly exited his sleeves and flew up into the sky, forming clusters of spirit barriers that disrupted all the projectiles coming their way so they could not accurately stab into a person's body.
A sliver of anxiety appeared on Feng Yi's handsome face due to Liu Yan's angry roar.
Just then, a series of eerie howls came from behind him, and Feng Yi immediately calmed down as he spoke to Liu Yan, "Big Brother Liu, if we kill both you and the entire Liu Family members here and come up with some random excuse later, then who will know what role the Feng Family played in this incident? Besides, with Shattered Ice Manor here, even if you did find out the truth, the Feng Family may not necessarily have to fear you at all! Keep shooting and slow them down!"
Upon hearing his words, the Feng Family’s martial practitioners grinned sinisterly and continued their offense with a newfound vigor.
Wave after wave of eerie howls sounded from behind the Feng Family, and the bottom of Liu Yan’s heart turned ice cold. Without slowing, he yelled out, "Gao Yu! They're almost here! Retreat at full force out of the canyons; the Arctic Mountain Range is right behind it, and there will be much larger grounds and spirit beasts about! There will be a lot more variables there!"
He didn't need to say more as Gao Yu and the rest of the Gao Family members cycled their spirit energy throughout their entire bodies and ran as if they were flying, hastening like leopards towards the direction of the deeper parts of the Arctic Mountain Range.
The canyons of Celestial Wolf Mountain were both tight and narrow, with no available hiding spots at all. Once the others caught up to them, there would be little to no chance that the Gao Family members would survive.
Only by escaping out of the canyon and entering the vast Arctic Mountain Range would they be able to find cover. Also, the appearance of spirit beasts would likely cover their tracks and cause Shattered Ice Manor and the Feng Family's men to hesitate, thus greatly increasing their hopes of survival.
In order to confirm Shattered Ice Manor's arrival, the Feng Family did not act when the Gao Family evacuated and thus missed out on a golden opportunity. At this moment, the Gao Family had already ditched them, and were way back in the rear. Furthermore, there was Liu Yan, who was an early stage Natal Opening Realm practitioner. Their blades missed over and over, so they soon gave up their relentless chase.
Thus, a strange situation had formed inside the canyon where the Gao Family ran and the Feng Family gave chase, and further back, the martial practitioners from Shattered Ice Manor were also chasing after the Feng Family.
If one looked at it from a larger point of view, then one could also find the Ling Family’s martial practitioners at the foremost of the lot, also desperately trying to escape.
Because they were the ones who had ran first and Ling Yushi also took a while before she finally fired that arrow, the Ling Family were the ones who managed to escape the furthest. At the moment, they had long since evacuated from the canyon and entered into the vast forests of the Arctic Mountain Range.
Under the clear moonlight, Qin Lie stood beneath a tree and waited for the Ling Family’s martial practitioners to arrive.
When Ling Yushi was writing her letter, waking the Ling Family one by one and making careful arrangements, he had long since exited the canyon. Right now, he had already waited under the tree for nearly fifteen minutes.
"Haah, haah, haah!"
The sound of martial practitioners running at top speed gradually came from a distance. Qin Lie narrowed his eyes and quietly hid behind the tree, just in case the ones who appeared weren't the Ling Family; he didn't want any accidents.
It wasn’t until he saw Ling Feng's figure that he finally stepped out of the tree and stood in front of the crowd.
Ling Ying, Ling Feng, Ling Xin and the rest of the Ling Family members stopped in their tracks the moment they saw him from afar. Everyone had stared dubiously at this fool who was no longer acting like one...
"Kid, if you made a mistake, then you will doom the Ling Family!" Ling Xin let out a hmph.
Ling Feng furrowed his eyebrows and asked for confirmation in a low tone, "You saw Shattered Ice Manor's men with your own eyes?"
Qin Lie nodded and asked right away, "Where is she?" He didn't say her name, but everyone knew who he was talking about.
"The First Miss stayed behind at the very back. She wrote a letter to inform Liu Yan and the Gao Family; she should be on her way to regroup with us right now." Ling Ying peered at him as if she had suddenly grown infinitely interested in him and asked, "How did you find out that Gao Yuan was killed? How did you guess that there would be people coming after us? Could it be that you were keeping watch nearby for the past few days?"
Qin Lie threw her a glance, but kept quiet and didn't answer any of her questions.
While he was in the state of Thoughtless Tranquility, Ling Ying's attitude had never been the friendliest, and some of the stuff she said was never quite pleasant to the ears...
"W-what’s up with you?" Ling Ying exclaimed, peeved. "When did I ever offend you? Oh, I know, it's when you were acting like a fool, right? You were the one who wanted to act like a fool; don't tell me you can't stand us commenting a little about it?"
Qin Lie still didn't pay her any attention.
"You have quite the large temper, don't you brat?" Ling Xin shot him a glare and yelled, "You had better not be mistaken, otherwise, the Ling Family will be in big trouble! And you will not get out of this scot free either!"
"Be quiet!" Ling Feng scolded. "Since he saw it with his own eyes, it will definitely not be a mistake. If he hadn't informed us, then we could very well be dying at the hands of those men from Shattered Ice Manor right now. Everyone would all be slaughtered one by one, and the First Miss and Little Ying's fate... will be far worse!"
The crowd felt chilled to the bone as they listened to Ling Feng's depiction and pondered upon it themselves. Even Ling Ying, who was slightly dissatisfied with Qin Lie no longer said anything. There was lingering fear leaking out her bright eyes.
The crowd turned silent.
After a short while, Ling Yushi flew right over by herself with sweat atop her pale forehead. It was clear that she had also been running at top speed Seeing that the crowd members had waited for her, she yelled, "Why are you guys standing here doing nothing? Why aren't you running?"
"First Miss, after you fired the arrow, did you notice anything amiss?" Ling Xin asked.
"I didn't dare to take a look." Ling Yushi's smile was bitter as she took the chance to take a breather before saying, "While I was chasing you guys, I vaguely heard the sounds of fighting. It's probably... the Feng Family attacking."
Everyone's face turned pale in an instant; at this point, they had all concluded that Qin Lie was telling the truth.
"What are you still standing here for?" Ling Yushi yelled angrily with clear dread in her voice. "If we don't pull away far enough during the night, then Shattered Ice Manor’s men will be able to follow us quickly through our tracks during the day!"
After that, the crowd quickly set out and escaped towards the depths of the Arctic Mountain Range at full speed. At this point, everyone's expressions were heavy, and they felt a heavy pressure pressing against their backs.
"Follow me." Qin Lie, who had been silent for a while suddenly appeared at the forefront of the group like an arrow and yelled in a low tone, "There are a lot of spirit beast nests at the front, we must avoid them. Otherwise we will be torn to shreds before the Feng Family or Shattered Ice Manor even arrive!"
All were dumbstruck.