14 – Wind Blows
The leaves rustled with the breeze.
The surroundings were nearly pitch-dark, with only faint moonlight seeping through the branches and leaves of trees.
However, this didn’t constitute an obstacle for Li Hong…
Despite no carrying a lantern, he was still able to walk in the rugged forest terrain as quickly as he did on a plain.
This forest was located behind a hill at the entrance to the place where disciples resided, between the Middle Peak and the East Peak.
Be that as it may, it was a remote and desolate place, with few people entering it. After all, who would enter a forest without a good reason? It was the case during the day, let alone late at night.
Naturally, it wasn’t that Li Hong was fond of touring the forest at night, he just came for an appointment.
Today, after finishing his work at the Sword-casting Chamber, he returned to his dormitory and found a letter lying on his bed. Although he had his misgivings, but he still opened it.
The content of the letter left him stunned, but also curious.
As a result…
After a while, Li Hong finally walked out of the forest and came to a clearing outside a mine. In the center of the clearing stood a lone big tree of some unknown species.
With the deem moonlight, a faint figure could be seen under the shadow of the big tree.
With his Human Realm eyesight, Li Hong should have been able to see the other person’s face distinctly at this distance, yet surprisingly, he could not see clearly the figure standing under the tree.
The other party seemed to be intentionally hiding their identity. Since this was the case, Li Hong stopped a distance away.
“Did you write this letter?” Li Hong took out a letter from a fold of his clothing, on which was written: “Tonight, come alone to the big tree in the forest behind the hill if you want to avenge your younger brother.”
Li Hong decided to go to the appointment because of the latter part of the sentence.
Ever since his younger brother was killed by the scum Qin Chen, Li Hong has been living with hatred in his heart. If it wasn’t for the persuasion of his teacher, Li Wanting, he might have attempted to take revenge on Qin Chen by now… even if he couldn’t defeat the other.
“It was me.” The tone of voice was neutral.
Li Hong didn’t recognize this voice, nor could he have. The other party should be using some method to alter their voice.
In other words, Li Hong probably knew them.
“Is what the letter says true? Can you really avenge my younger brother?” Li Hong got right to the point.
He was a frank and outspoken character. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have called Qin Chen scum to his face. Naturally, he didn’t exchange pleasantries with the stranger.
“Of course I can, but I’m not so idle that I’d dilly-dally with a nobody junior like you.” The other party answered in a neutral tone.
“How can you help me take revenge?”
“A murderer must to repay with their life, of course.”
“Can you kill Qin Chen?” Li Hong sneered: “Kill Qin Chen who never leaves the Merak Palace?”
Ever since the incident five years ago, Qin Chen has made many enemies, and seldom left the Merak Palace.
… People cherish their lives, especially Qin Chen, who once hovered on the edge of life and death.
In the Merak Palace, it wasn’t easy to kill someone. After all, the area the Merak Palace occupied wasn’t large, and the Heaven Realm expert could perceive the smallest sign of disturbance.
To silently kill Qin Chen, who had an Earth Realm cultivation base, unless it was a Heaven Rank expert, who could kill Qin Chen with a single strike, it was nearly impossible to kill him without him resisting.
No matter who it was, the opportunities were too few, so Li Hong naturally didn’t believe the other party’s words. But…
“You seem to have doubts regarding my capability. However, do you really think that a sword is needed to kill someone?”
“Your Excellency, what…”
The other party raised their hand to prevent Li Hong from continuing.
“What do you think of the Merak Palace’s current circumstances?”
Li Hong was confused. Why did the subject made a 180 degrees turn?
“Your Excellency, I cannot follow you.” Li Hong could tell that his eyebrows have creased.
“The night is deepening.”
Li Hong naturally understood the hidden meaning behind the other party’s words. After a moment of silence, he uttered: “Gilded on the outside yet shabby and ruined on the inside.”
“It seems that you know…” The other party sighed with regret, and then their tone of voice finally betrayed some emotion, “Outside, there are innumerable tigers and wolves eyeing the Merak Palace’s position in the Five Great Sects, while inside, there are factions opposing one another. Thus, the Merak Palace’s fate is…”
Although the other party didn’t finish their words, but Li Hong understood what they wanted to convey.
A sect in decline had a heavy burden to bear, coupled with disunion, the aftermath would be… Extinction.
“For the sake of the Merak Palace, it’s time to change Palace Masters.”
“You want to seize the position of Palace Master?” Li Hong exclaimed.
“What’s so strange about it? Since ancient times, positions were reserved for the capable. Qi Qiqi has occupied her position long enough.”
“It seems that there’s nothing to talk about, farewell.” Leaving this sentence behind, Li Hong turned around to leave.
Although he wasn’t familiar with Palace Master Qi Qiqi, but his teacher stood on her side. Solely due to this relationship, Li Hong wouldn’t help this unknown person to seize the position of Palace Master.
That was what he thought, but…
“Do you have the heart not to seek justice for your brother’s death?
Li Hong stopped in his steps reflexively. He didn’t know why he stopped, but since he did, he instinctively approved of the other party’s words.
“Don’t you feel guilty? As the older brother, you failed to fulfill your duty of protecting your younger brother. Previously, you still had the excuse of being helpless. But now? There’s clearly an opportunity in front of you, yet you don’t cherish it?”
Li Hong was shaken by these words.
Ever since his brother died to Qin Chen’s sword, he lived with hatred in his heart. He had no choice but to live with hatred in his heart…
Hatred and unwillingness intertwined on his pale face. To this day, that aggrieved face still echoed in Li Hong’s mind, brewing resentment in his heart.
He really wanted to agree with the other party. The only thing that stopped him was…
“I cannot betray my teacher.” Despite saying so, Li Hong’s tone lacked confidence.
“You think you’d be betraying your teacher? How amusing, you’d be saving her.”
“Saving her?” Li Hong looked up in astonishment. What does that mean?
“If things continue as they are, the Merak Palace will eventually be wiped out. By then, would your teacher be spared?”
“But what about Palace Master?
“She’s weak and incompetent. A disciple was killed, yet she was forced to let the murderer off. She wronged you, so why are you still loyal to her?”
“I…” Li Hong wanted to refute this statement, but could not find any grounds for that. The other party was making sense. Yes, that makes sense.
There was a look of struggle in Li Hong’s eyes. Is Palace Master deserving of my loyalty? My brother clearly died to Qin Chen’s sword, yet she didn’t punish the murderer. She just gave me an apology. Is she really worthy of my loyalty?
The aggrieved face of his younger brother swept through his mind again, and Li Hong clenched his teeth fiercely. No! She isn’t worthy!
“What do you want me to do?”
“Very good! You’re a discernible person indeed!” The other side went on to say in a deep voice, “All hinges on Xue Qilin.”
“Yes. Although her standpoint is still unknown, but with her present, when I take the position of Palace Master, she’ll be a bolder, a bolder blocking my way.”
“Xue Qilin has to be eliminated.”
Li Hong stared blankly for a moment. This person want’s to eliminate Xue Qilin, whom even Vice-palace Master Ye could no defeat.
Gradually – he said that his only obstacle is Xue Qilin…
The moment Li Hong was about to blurt out the name, he stopped himself.
Some things should not be pointed out. Otherwise, death would be right along the corner.
“You’re smart.” The other party’s voice laced with admiration entered his ears. Li Hong knew he had escaped with his life.
“Xue Qilin is about to set out for the Heavenly Sword Gate. The Heavenly Sword Gate has been eyeing covetously the Merak Palace’s position in the Five Great Sects. Naturally, her appearance isn’t something they welcome. Hua Tianji is an ambitious character. As long as we give him a helping hand, then Xue Qilin won’t be going to give a show of strength, but be a sheep being sent into the tiger’s den.”
“You want to secretly communicate with Hua Tianji?”
The other side nodded and said with confidence: “Hua Tianji can be used. And once Xue Qilin is dead, it won’t be difficult to remove Qi Qiqi. In front of me, her cultivation base isn’t worth mentioning. Previously, as Young Ancestor never left the sect, my hands were tied. But now the time has come.”
It’s really him! At this moment, Li Hong was finally sure. He had the highest cultivation base in the Merak Palace and was ambitious. If he hadn’t been restrained by Young Ancestor, he might have acted by now.
Now that there was an opportunity to eliminate Young Ancestor presented before him, he naturally wouldn’t let it slip past his fingers.
“But won’t that weaken the Merak Palace’s strength even more?”
“There’s not only my strength, but also the reputation of the Five Great Sects. With these two factors, it’s fine to sleep on brushwood and taste gall .”
Isn’t this the same as Palace Master’s policy of keeping a low profile?
“In that case, why do you oppose Palace Master?” Li Hong asked curiously.
“If not, I would have to bow at her feet… What sort of ancestry would that be then?”
In other words, the reason why he stood on the opposite side of Qi Qiqi was that he wanted to prevent the other side from fully controlling the Merak Palace, and then take an opportunity to seize the position of Palace Master.
What a game of chess! Li Hong was shocked.
“So? Do you agree?” The tone of the other party was a little dissatisfied. It seems that Li Hong was asking too many question.
“No one in the Merak Palace can be trusted. Only you are trustworthy, because the Merak Palace has turned its back on you.”
“It’s not only that. If I don’t agree, even if you kill me, you can pin the blame on that son of a bitch Qin Chen.”
“Ha-ha-ha! It seems that I wasn’t wrong about you. So, what do you think?”
Li Hong was silent for a while, then raised two fingers and said: “I have two conditions.”
“Go ahead.” The other party answered almost right away.
“Qin Chen must die.”
“My teacher must not be put in danger.”
“Naturally. Elder Li’s sword-forging skills are peerless. I can’t bear to harm her.”
“Then, what do you want me to do?”
The person took out a letter from a fold of his clothing and tossed it towards Li Hong.
The other side had tossed the letter very skillfully, which slowly landed in front of Li Hong. That alone was enough to prove his strength.
“It’s not convenient for me to leave the sect. Take this letter to Hua Tianji for me. If he asks what I want, tell him that I only want the position of Palace Master.”
With Li Hong’s character, once he made up his mind, he would not hesitate. He carefully put away the letter, and then asked: “Can Hua Tianji alone deal with Young Ancestor?”
“Naturally he can’t do it alone. But coupled with the State Guard, even though she’s an old freak who recovered her youth, she won’t be able to escape.”
The State Guard? The special agency of the imperial court? Li Hong was shocked.
Leaving Hua Tianji aside for the moment, the State Guard and the Demimonde  sects were incongruous like fire and water! How did he got the State Guard to help him? Although Li Hong was full of doubts, but he didn’t ask any further questions.
People who know too much often don’t have good endings.
“Remember what you promised me.”
“Of course. When I sit in that position, everything will be but trifle.”
After obtaining confirmation from the other party, Li Hong turned around and left.
… This was three days ago.
Currently, Li Hong was standing in front of the main gate of a large manor. There was a signboard hanging above the gate, engraved on which were three big characters… Heavenly Sword Gate.
 – Sleep on brushwood and taste gall
 – Martial World was changed to Demimonde (section of society operating independently of mainstream society, out of reach of the law)