Chapter 29 – Luo Qing’s Smile
Her body was drenched, and rain water flowed down her eyes, blurring her vision. Even so, she still had no intention to look for a shelter.
There was a warm feeling coming her back, and she heard a faint breathing next to her ears – all of which urged her to forge ahead without a care for the hardships.
On a field, Qi Qiqi with Xue Qilin on her back was moving forward in the rain. They were already far away from the Heavenly Sword Gate, at least 40 kilometers away.
Qi Qiqi looked back. Even though behind her was a field, but due to the heavy rain, her vision was greatly impaired. With her Earth Realm cultivation base, although she couldn’t see far, but she could clearly see things within half a kilometer.
There was no one chasing after them, neither people from the Heavenly Sword Gate, nor the cyan figure she was hoping to see.
Why hasn’t Senior Disciple Sister Luo caught up yet? Hasn’t she broken away from the Heavenly Sword Gate yet? Qi Qiqi worried.
At this time, a tremendous aura suddenly entered her sensing range, approaching her at high speed.
She frowned at first, but soon heaved a sigh of relief and calmed down. It was a familiar aura.
In a short time, a shadow protected from the rain by a shield of true qi rushed over from her front right.
“Palace Master!” Ye Zhen cast a glance at Xue Qilin lying on Qi Qiqi’s back, “Is the Young Ancestor alright?”
His tone was a little unsteady. Admittedly, he has consumed a lot of strength during his interaction with Hua Tianji.
“She should be. Senior Disciple Sister Luo said that it wasn’t serious.”
“That’s good then.”
Luo Qing’s medical skills were famous in the Merak Palace, so Ye Zhen didn’t hesitate to believe in Luo Qing’s judgment.
“Uncle Teacher Ye…” Qi Qi hesitated for a moment, “have you fought with Hua Tianji?”
“There was no fight, we just played a game of tag.”
So you pestered him, but avoided a full on fight? Qi Qiqi uttered with a queer expression: “You are quite… um, despicable.”
“…” Ye Zhen stared at Qi Qiqi without making a sound.
However, she could make out a trace of embarrassment from his rigid expression. As if she had found something funny, she couldn’t help chuckling.
“… what’s so funny, Palace Master?”
“It’s no, nothing. But… I suddenly feel like you aren’t as awful as I have painted you to be.”
How come I laughed? Qi Qiqi’s cheeks flushed.
But… why? I couldn’t see through that stiff face before, but this time…
“Are you afraid of me?”
“Of course I am. Is there a reason for me not to be?” Qi Qiqi sighed lightly, and the answered frankly, “… I am the Palace Master and you are my assistant, but you always look over my shoulder. Besides, your cultivation base is higher than mine, and you’re better at trickery than I am… So you tell me, why wouldn’t I be afraid?”
The fact that Ye Zhen was more outstanding than her put a heavy pressure on Qi Qiqi, and made her suspect that the other side, who was clearly more capable yet had to yield to her, was dissatisfied. As time went by, she gradually became afraid and uneasy, and even wondered whether the other side’s words and deeds had any special meaning behind them.
This mistrust was sufficient to destroy the relationship between the two, and in fact, it already had.
Be that as it may, Qi Qiqi felt that she couldn’t be blamed for it. After all, in front of excellent subordinates, it was in human nature to feel inferior, which led to mistrust. It was such a simple truth.
“I have never thought about it this way.” Although Qi Qiqi didn’t say it clearly, but Ye Zhen evidently understood the cause, which was why he said so.
“If you don’t spell thing out, how will I know…” Qi Qiqi mocked herself, “No, I wouldn’t believe you even if you did spell it out.”
Ye Zhen was silent, he probably didn’t know how to respond.
Some things could only be eased by yourself, and outsiders could do nothing about them.
It goes without saying, but this crisis forced her to cooperate with Ye Zhen, which apparently brought them a bit closer together.
If something similar happens in the future, will I turn to Ye Zhen for help? Qi Qiqi didn’t dare to make such an assertion, but she felt that it would probably be the case. As the saying goes, precedent embalms a principle. Since there was already a “precedent”, Qi Qiqi felt that in the face of another crisis, she could likely put down her prejudices and discuss things with Ye Zhen.
“… where’s Martial Niece Luo?”
This sudden question interrupted Qi Qiqi’s train of thought. She almost forgot about Luo Qing.
“Senior Disciple Sister Luo stayed behind to hold the pursuers back.” Qi Qiqi hesitated, “Teacher Uncle Ye, do you think Senior Disciple Sister Luo has failed to break away from the Heavenly Sword Gate?”
“Hmm…” Ye Zhen pondered for a moment, “It’s unlikely. With her strength, even when faced against me, it would take me some time to beat Martial Niece Luo. Since Hua Tianji isn’t present, no one in the Heavenly Sword Gate can make Martial Niece Luo stay.”
At this moment, Qi Qiqi thought of something and uttered at once: “But the Young Ancestor said that there was another Heaven Realm expert who took part in attacking her, and she was injured by him.”
“What?!” Ye Zhen exclaimed, showing a rare expression of incredulity.
“Don’t be so loud! I’m going deaf!” That deafening exclamation laced with true qi left Qi Qiqi discontented.
“… I’m sorry.”
Qi Qiqi rolled her eyes, not pursuing the matter. After all, her reaction wasn’t much better when she learned of this. And the more surprising thing was still to come.
“The Young Ancestor said that the second Heaven Realm expert was called Luo Hong… there’s only one Heaven Realm expert called Luo Hong…”
Ye Zhen interrupted Qi Qiqi urgently and asked solemnly: “You mean to say that the second Heaven Realm expert was the State Guard’s Commander Luo Hong?”
“According to the Young Ancestor, yes.”
“Impossible…” Ye Zhen lowered his gaze and murmured.
His reaction wasn’t strange.
The State Guard was a martial practitioner force directly subordinated to the Hua Dynasty’s Emperor. In terms of scope, it surpassed the Five Great Sects put together, but its actual combat power was probably only at the middle rank of the Five Great Sects.
Of course, it was stronger than the current Merak Palace.
However, what really surprised Qi Qiqi was that the State Guard was established by the Hua Dynasty’s founder to stand in opposition to the Demimonde’s sects. The two sides were completely incompatible. In this case, how could the Heavenly Sword Gate ask the State Guard for help?
“… did the Heavenly Sword Gate join the Imperial Court?”
“… the State Guard is a member of the Imperial Court. It’s not surprising that it would join hands with the Heavenly Sword Gate to deal with the Merak Palace. After all, there’s the incident from five years ago.”
After the attempt on the Emperor’s life five years ago, the Imperial Court bore a deep hatred against the Five Great Sects.
“That’s true. Then what did you meant by impossible?”
“What I meant was that it’s impossible for Luo Hong to act against the Merak Palace.”
“How so?” Qi Qiqi felt uneasy for some reason.
After a long moment of silence, Ye Zhen responded in a complex tone: “… Luo Qing has once saved Luo Hong’s life!”
What a shocking fact. Qi Qiqi’s eyes suddenly widened abruptly, and doubts took root in her heart. Did Senior Disciple Sister Luo…
A cyan arc flashed in the darkness.
A torrent of blood sprayed about
Liang Bozhong’s face twisted, and he immediately pulled away from Luo Qing, yet his arm still holding his greatsword fell right in front of Luo Qing.
After landing, Liang Bozhong knelt on one knee and hurriedly clasped his right shoulder. Even so, the blood still poured out from between his fingers and instantly dyed his clothes red.
“General Manager Liang!” Some Elder of the Heavenly Sword Gate grasped his sword in a warning to Luo Qing standing in the rain. At the same time, he supported Liang Bozhong who had lost an arm.
Taking everything in, Luo Qing still hasn’t taken action.
Washed away by the heavy rain, there was no trace of blood left on the light cyan greatsword.
The rain flowed down Luo Qing’s face, converged into beads on her chin, and dripped down. Although her expression was still cold, but her breathing was obviously out of rhythm, proving that she wasn’t having an easy time. But…
There were corpses strewn chaotically on the ground. On her way to Liang Bozhong, she beheaded one Elder and cut another Elder on the chest, but the wound wasn’t deep.
… compared with the Heavenly Sword Gate, Luo Qing paid a much smaller price.
Allowing himself to be supported, Liang Bozhong took a breath and asked in a trembling voice: “Luo Qing, what do you want?! If you’re just fighting to buy time for Qi Qiqi, then there’s no need for you to go this length! You could have broken away a long time ago, so why are you still here?! Do you want to kill us all?”
Luo Qing looked down and answered lightly: “… I’m waiting for someone.”
“… for whom?”
“For the one who will let me atone.” Luo Qing showed a faintly discernible wry smile.
“You don’t make any sense!” Liang Bozhong scolded angrily, but he didn’t do anything else. Perhaps he was aware that he couldn’t beat Luo Qing, who had all her limbs intact, and didn’t do anything besides running his mouth.
Unable to make head or tail, Liang Bozhong suddenly showed an expression of sudden realization, and said in surprise and doubt: “You’re waiting for the Gate Master Hua!”
Luo Qing was silent, which Liang Bozhong apparently took as a tacit approval, “… what’s your goal?”
“… his death.” Her tone was flat, yet contained profound meaning.
“How laughable! You want to kill me by yourself?” This sentence resounded throughout the sky. At the same time, it felt like it was sounding right beside your ears.
No, it’s coming from right behind me. Luo Qing wanted to turn around instinctively, but…
An ice-cold feeling run through her body, and blood sprayed out.
Luo Qing stared blankly at the sword tip that came out of her chest.
In the next moment, furious true qi rushed in through the wound and rampaged inside Luo Qing’s body. The intense pain made her dizzy.
The strong force pushed her forward. In response, Luo Qing abruptly stabbed with her greatsword backwards. However, the cool weapon was pulled out from her body first, making her stab strike empty air.
Loosing her center of gravity, Luo Qing suddenly plopped on the ground, and then coughed.
She coughed a few times, which then was interrupted by the vomit of blood. There were fragments of viscera faintly discernible within the scarlet red.
The strong sensation that came with the sharp weapon being pulled out made Luo Qing clearly feel her life ebb away. She pressed her hand against the wound on her chest, coughed a few more times, and then raised her gaze. God knows for how long she could maintain her gaze lifted.
Hua Tianji landed not far away in front of her, standing next to Liang Bozhong, “Luo Qing, you’ve got guts! You injured and killed so many of my people, and you even talked some nonsense about killing me.”
Even though he tried to suppress it, but Hua Tianji’s voice still shook slightly due to ire.
“Presumably,…” Luo Qing took a deep breath and suppressed her huried breathing. “You should have met our Vice-palace Master, Gate Master Hua.”
“… so what?”
“So… you should know that he isn’t… the person you though him to be.” After she finished speaking, Luo Qing coughed a few more times.
“… how come you know? Are you that person’s accomplice? Who is that person?”
“…” Luo Qing didn’t answer. Of course, she couldn’t answer, because once she did, the later part of the plan would probably go up in flames.
“… what is that person’s goal? Why did they want us to capture Xue Qilin, and then have you come perform such a grand play?”
“What do you think?” Luo Qing smiled lightly, and the corners of her mouth curled into an arc of scorn.
“You used me?!” Hua Tianji bellowed, and a ferocious impact formed by true qi blasted into Luo Qing and made her clothing rustle.
“Spill it out! Otherwise, you can stay here forever.” Hua Tianji pointed at Luo Qing with his sword, furious.
“Whether I tell you or now, I’ll still die. I not only killed many people of the Heavenly Sword Gate, but also hurt your right-hand man, Gate Master Hua. If you let me go, then it’ll be hard for you to make an account to the entire Heavenly Sword Gate.” Luo Qing’s tone was still stoic, as if she was stating something of no concern to her. She spoke more and more clearly, as if she hadn’t been mortally wounded.
Rally before death? Luo Qing couldn’t help thinking.
“… have you come here to die?”
“Isn’t your question a little too late?”
“You…” Hua Tianji was so angry that he couldn’t say anything for a while, and his sword trembled.
Luo Qing shook her head, which to Hua Tianji looked like she was mocking him.
“I will tear you limb from limb, strip you naked, and hang you outside of Jinling City!”
“You not only want to tear me limb from limb, but also hang my naked body atop Jinling City’s city wall… you seem really mad, Gate Master Hua.”
“You’re talking too much nonsense!” Hua Tianji poured true qi into his greatsword, and the sword began to shine. He raised his sword, but didn’t wave it down. Because…
“What’s the meaning of this, Luo Hong?”
Luo Hong appeared in front of Luo Qing without any sound or sign.
“… I just want to talk to her.”
“Get out of the way! If I don’t kill her, I won’t be able to give vent to my hatred!”
“… you want to be my enemy?”
“You…” The Heavenly Sword Gate’s Gate Master smiled from anger, “Nice, Luo Hong! I was wondering why you wanted to join hands with me. Now it seems that it was a charade all along, and thanks to my complacency, I stepped right into it. Why did you people set this charade up?”
“… I said that I wanted to talk to her. Why are you being so insensible, Gate Master Hua?” Not caring about Hua Tianji’s venomous look, Luo Hong picked up Luo Qing, “Instead of wasting time on unraveling mysteries, you’d better think about how to cope with the Merak Palace’s anger, Gate Master Hua… It’s not easy to deal with the Merak Palace’s Young Ancestor.”
When he heard Luo Hong’s words, Hua Tianji’s face became unsightly to the extreme, as if he had eaten excrement.
“Good, good, good!!” Hua Tianji said good three times, and then indignantly sheathed his sword, “Luo Hong, I’ll bear this in mind.”
“That’s up to you.” After leaving this sentence behind, Luo Hong holding Luo Qing left the scene without turning back.
“You shouldn’t have come.” Feeling the warmth coming from Luo Hong, Luo Qing spoke in a complicated tone.
“But I wanted to.”
Luo Qing lowered her head, speechless.
“… Do you really not regret it?” Luo Qing shook her head, and Luo Hog continued bitterly: “They won’t understand you.”
“The Young Ancestor will…”
“Why are you so sure?”
“…because I want to believe it.”
“You shouldn’t believe it, nor should you have done that to begin with.”
“Sometimes, it’s not a question of whether you should or not, but a question of whether you want to or not.” Luo Qing closed her eyes and said nostalgically, “I could only think of this approach…”
Luo Hong was silent for a moment before asking again: “… Even if you die?”
“Even if I die.” Luo Qing answered lightly, yet her tone contained a firm resolve.
“… what do you wish?”
“After I die, take my body to Sangu Village and bury it… um, bury me next to my dad.”
“You should return to the Merak Palace.”
“I can’t get over myself.”
“It’s for their own good!” Luo Hong shouted emotionally, which startled Luo Qing.
But then she smiled with relief – he’s feeling unworthy for me.
“You…” After just saying a word, Luo Qing coughed again. This time, she coughed for a long time, giving off the impression that if it continued, she could cough her very life away.
After her coughing pacified, Luo Qing uttered in a pleading tone: “… relay a message to the Young Ancestor.”
She spoke rather impatiently, afraid that she wouldn’t be able to finish.
“Just say…” Luo Qing looked far into the distance, it the direction of the Merak Palace, “… sorry, I won’t be able to accompany you anymore.”
Luo Qing smiled and closed her eyes, saying no more.