7 – Assassin in the Merak Palace (III)
After Xue Qilin spoke, she turned around and walked to her chambers.
Why?! Why didn’t you ask Ye Zhen and instead placed the burden on me? Looking at Xue Qilin’s petite figure, Qi Qiqi complained to herself. However, she didn’t dare to voice the complaint as the battle just now made her realize that the Young Ancestor was not undeserving of her title.
Just as Qi Qiqi was feeling angry and indignant, she heard heavy breathing reminiscent of a person who had held their breath for too long.
“Teacher?” Suddenly, Situ Mutou’s voice sounded full of worry.
Qi Qiqi looked suspiciously at Ye Zhen, who was pressing his hand against his chest and gasping for air.
Did he receive an internal injury? Qi Qiqi and Luo Qing looked at each other.
“Are you all right?” As she slowly approached Ye Zhen, Luo Qing reached out to support him and asked with concern.
Ye Zhen raised his hand to signal that he was fine.
This being the case, Qi Qiqi no longer paid attention to him, and turned to Situ Mutou.
Qi Qiqi shot Ye Zhen a deep, meaningful glance, and then said to his disciple with gratitude: “Thank you for your trouble, Senior Disciple Brother Situ.”
Looking a little confused, the other party replied without thinking: “What do you mean, Palace Master?”
This blockhead! He’s not even aware that he was used! Qi Qiqi felt helpless.
Although Situ Mutou was a martial maniac, but he didn’t go around challenging experts left and right like Ye Zhen had said, nor was he a reckless person who walked the path between life and death.
Presumably, it was due to Ye Zhen’s incitement that he wore a mask and attacked the Young Ancestor.
But he who is willing to fight is willing to endure, and Ye Zhen usually didn’t mistreat Situ Mutou. Besides, Qi Qiqi was an outsider, so it wasn’t her place to speak out. She wasn’t a virtuous sage.
“What do you think after having a go at the Young Ancestor?” Qi Qiqi decided to get to the topic she really cared about.
Situ Mutou’s dull eyes suddenly flared up with raging flames and filled with instinctive wildness: “She’s very strong.”
Ye Zhen was Qi Qiqi’s uncle teacher, while Situ Mutou was Ye Zhen’s disciple. However, as the daughter of the former sect leader, Qi Qiqi was valued by the Merak Palace since little. As such, her seniority was a bit higher than Situ Mutou’s, being his senior disciple sister. Naturally, this was the case if the position of palace master wasn’t taken into equation.
Although it has only been brief five years since Situ Mutou had become Ye Zhen’s disciple, but he already surpassed Qi Qiqi in terms of cultivation, and was only second to Luo Qing among the Merak Palace’s Earth Realm experts. Even Li Wanting and Liu Chengzong were inferior to him.
It should be mentioned that Situ Mutou often annoyed Ye Zhen to have a spar. Feeling vexed, Ye Zheng would still exchange with him a few moves at times. Situ Mutou’s assessment regarding Ye Zhen was: “Teacher, you’re far stronger than I am.”
As a Heaven Realm expert, Ye Zhen was naturally much stronger than Situ Mutou, who was in the Earth Realm. And since Situ Mutou said that the Young Ancestor was “very strong”, it naturally was something to think about.
“How does she compare with your teacher?”
“Teacher might win in close combat, but he stands no chance in ranged combat.”
“Are you certain?” Qi Qiqi couldn’t believe her ears. She originally estimated that they were neck and neck, but according to Situ Mutou, the Young Ancestor was sure to grasp victory in ranged combat, which was unexpected but conceivable considering the might of the flame dragon. But he also said that Ye Zhen might not necessarily prevail over the Young Ancestor in close combat, which Qi Qiqi could not understand. In her view, the Young Ancestor’s martial art skills were all over the map. What the hell was that loli kick? What leg art is so full of loopholes?
“Palace Master, my unworthy disciple is right. I’m not sure if I can best her.” Although Ye Zhen seemed to have calmed his breathing, but Qi Qiqi could see his hands still shaking. Apparently, the Young Ancestor’s flame dragon packed quite the strength.
Don’t show off if you can’t take it! Qi Qiqi naturally wasn’t willing to say this out loud. After all, if Ye Zhen hadn’t blocked the flame dragon, according to the Young Ancestor, Situ Mutou would have been turned into barbecue.
What the hell is barbecue?
Although there was a lot of stuff she wanted to say, but Qi Qiqi was already very proficient in minding her tongue. She asked indifferently: “Vice-palace Master, can you elaborate?”
Ye Zheng held up his hands and nodded before uttering gravely: “The Young Ancestor’s martial art skills aren’t that great, but her cultivation method is really strange. Palace Master, you should have also seen what happened in the fight just now. When my unworthy disciple fought the Young Ancestor, explosions suddenly appeared in places hard to guard against. As such, it was very easy to disturb his tempo, and catch him off guard.
“Indeed, those attacks came out of nowhere, virtually without warning.” Luo Qing, who had been silent all this time, nodded and said in agreement.
Qi Qiqi muttered to herself: “To put it plainly, the so-called strange cultivation method is a freakish cultivation method that doesn’t follow common sense. However, it relies heavily on its mysterious characteristic to be sustained. If used many times, it naturally can be figured out and broken. Once something strange loses it’s veil of mystery, its true appearance will be exposed for all to see.”
“Your words are reasonable, Palace Master. If I have a certain understanding of the Young Ancestor’s cultivation method, my odds will be greatly improved.” In a rare fashion, Ye Zhen nodded in agreement with Qi Qiqi’s words.
“Especially when it comes to close combat. The Young Ancestor’s movements are no different from that of a layman.” Situ Mutou added in a low muffled voice, and Luo Qi nodded in agreement.
Qi Qiqi propped her chin up with her hand and pondered for a moment: “So, the Young Ancestor can be considered to be a mid-stage Heaven Realm expert?”
“No. Solely in terms of cultivation base, the Young Ancestor is far stronger than me.”
What is the meaning of this?
“What do you mean?” Qi Qiqi frowned, and Ye Zhen sighed and opened his right hand in front of everyone.
Hiss… the sound of air being inhaled reverberated in the air.
Qi Qiqi didn’t know whether she the one who made that sound or not because her attention had been completely attracted by Ye Zhen’s palm.
Before her was a badly mangled palm dripping blood, looking like it was cut by countless knives.
“The Young Ancestor’s cultivation base is already very close.” Silence prevailed for a long time before Luo Qing spoke faintly. Her tone of voice was nearly devoid of emotion as she made this statement.
Unable to react for a while, Qi Qiqi asked dully: “Close? Close to what?”
“That realm.” Ye Zhen uttered in a powerful and resonating voice.
That realm? Qi Qiqi was stunned for a moment. In the moment of understanding, she exclaimed: “Could it be…”
Qi Qiqi didn’t utter more than the three words, yet Luo Qing and Ye Zhen nodded at the same time as if they had agreed beforehand, clearly aware of what she wanted to say.
“It’s impossible, right?”
“The destructive power of the fire dragon is practically directly proportional to the maximum output of true qi. I did my best to receive the blow, yet the Young Ancestor still seemed to be at ease. You should be clear about what this gap means, Palace Master.”
Except for very few individual cases, the amount of true qi martial artists in a given realm possessed as well as the maximum output were nearly identical. If they compared purely in terms of true qi, martial artists in the same realm would be on equal footing. In fact, the gap between martial artists within the same realm mostly hinged on the mastery of martial arts and real combat experience, rather than cultivation base.
Although Qi Qiqi knew that Xue Qilin had walked very far in the Heaven Realm, but she didn’t expect that it would be that far. She was already at the brink of walking out of the Heaven Realm.
Having a sudden realization, Qi Qiqi was momentarily at a loss for words. Ye Zhen seemed to have sunk into a certain state of mind, and said nothing. As for Luo Qing, she wasn’t the type who liked to express her opinions to begin with, which was evident from her stance in the palace. She also stayed silent
“Are you done gossiping yet?” What broke the silence was a shout coming from the distance. It was Xue Qilin.
Coming back to her senses, Qi Qiqi looked at Luo Qing and Ye Zhen, both of whom showed expressions of surprise at the same time.
“Did the Young Ancestor hear us?” Qi Qiqi lowered her voice.
“I don’t know.” Ye Zhen answered quickly, while Luo Qing shook her head.
“Hey, did you hear me?” Xue Qilin’s voice sounded again and a lot closer, coming from behind them.
Qi Qiqi turned around and noticed that Xue Qilin was heading their way at a strange pace, an unsightly expression on her face.
“Palace Master, it seems that the Young Ancestor is still unhappy. The Vice-palace Master and his unworthy disciple better take their leave first so as to avoid…”
Ye Zhen approaches Qi Qiqi and whispered in her ear: I’ll leave this to you!
Qi Qiqi almost unconsciously blurted out some obscenities, but then chose to hold them back. Finally, she nodded without turning back.
“Young Ancestor, this martial grandnephew and his unworthy disciple will not disturb you. We will take our leave.” Ye Zheng cupped his heads and said goodbye to Xue Qilin, then turned around and left with Situ Mutou in tow.
Yet after only a few steps, he stopped. Because…
“Wait!” The Young Ancestor stopped him.
Ye Zhen turned back: “Something the matter, Young Ancestor?”
Qi Qiqi almost laughed. Although Ye Zhen looked expressionless, but Qi Qiqi saw his shoulders tremble for a split second when he was called.
“Yes, come here.” One hand behind her back, the Young Ancestor waved at Ye Zhen with the other hand, “Er… well, Mutou… I’ll call you that. Go back, wash up, and go to sleep first! I have something to say to your teacher.”
With an “oh”, Situ Mutou turned around and left.
Puzzled, Ye Zhen went up to Xue Qilin, but the latter didn’t speak. She just smiled and watched Situ Mutou leave. When he disappeared from view…
“Ye Zhen, hey, with my seniority, I’ll be calling you Little Zhen, okay?”
Little Zhen? An involuntary laughter escaped Qi Qiqi’s lips. But in the next moment, she was stared at by Xue Qilin.
Receiving the meaningful look, Qi Qiqi suddenly looked at Luo Qing, yet she discovered that Luo Qing had a very strange expression on her face. Senior Disciple Sister Luo’s endurance really is out of the ordinary! Qi Qiqi raised a thumb behind her back toward Luo Qing, who looked back at her unconsciously.
“Little Zhen, why do you want to leave so soon?”
“Your strength is unrivaled, Young Ancestor. After taking a hit from you, this martial grandnephew received some internal injuries, and is planning to go back to recuperate.”
Bullshit! At best, you lost some hair. That’s still far from being an internal injury. Qi Qiqi secretly mocked. Secretly mocking people has become one of her few pleasures.
“That so…” The Young Ancestor held up her hands, then leaned forward and looked up at Ye Zhen with a smile on her face.
“What if I say no?”
Suddenly, there was a silence, and the air seemed to coagulate.
Does this lass want to…? Qi Qiqi broke out in a cold sweat. If Xue Qilin really felt like it, she could cripple Ye Zhen’s cultivation base, but would he resign himself to this fate? Obviously not. The result could be imagined, that is, both sides would suffer, and the Merak Palace would lose two great experts all at once. That would be the final nail in the coffin.
What do I do, what do I do? Qi Qiqi looked helplessly at Luo Qing, only to see that the latter had a grave expression on her face, taking action.
Luo Qing stepped forward, and was about to say something, when Xue Qilin suddenly said: “Turn around.”
“This…” Ye Zhen hesitated.
“I told you to turn around!” Xue Qilin still said with a smile, yet there was no warmth in her eyes.
Ye Zhen was forced to follow the instructions, but his body clearly tensed up, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice.
Xue Qilin nodded in satisfaction, then raised her right foot, lifting it very high, and then the slender lily-white foot kicked Ye Zhen in the ass.
Qi Qiqi didn’t know how much power was hidden within that petite body. Xue Qilin’s kick sent Ye Zhen flying five meters away.
But it wasn’t over yet. Xue Qilin leaped forward and stamped Ye Zhen on the ass: “Pulling the rug under my feet! Showing off in front of me! Show off! Why don’t you show off!”
Xue Qilin stamped on Ye Zhen’s ass, the smile nowhere to be seen. Instead, she gnashed her teeth and cursed.
Unable to bear the humiliation, Ye Zhen clenched his fist and tried to break free, but…
“Oh, you want to fight back? Just try it, see if I spread around that you’re someone who bullies his teacher and betrays his ancestors!”
When Xue Qilin used such an exaggerated epithet, Ye Zhen lost his strength to resist at once.
Doesn’t this lass know that you must not air your family’s dirty laundry? Qi Qiqi didn’t know whether to be angry or to laugh. However, Ye Zhen’s actions could indeed be interpreted as bullying his teacher, but it was a bit of a stretch to say that he betrayed his ancestors. Anyway, Xue Qilin didn’t go too overboard. In order for Ye Zhen not to lose face in front of his disciple, she sent Situ Mutou away in advance, which could be considered as giving face.
“Palace Master, we should stop the Young Ancestor.” Qi Qiqi reacted at once when Luo Qing spoke.
The two hurried to pull Xue Qilin away. But Xue Qilin, who still hadn’t enough, swore and scolded: “Let go of me! Let me stamp on him a couple more times, or else I won’t be able to appease this anger! You unfilial girls! I’ll call for people if you don’t let go of me!”
Whom can you call? A sore throat? Qi Qiqi thought.
“Vice-palace Master Ye, leave, quick!” Luo Qing hurriedly shouted toward Ye Zhen.
“Thank you, Palace Master and Elder Luo!” Ye Zhen left this sentence behind. Not minding his appearance, he rose to his feet and left.
Perhaps after seeing Ye Zhen leave, she found it meaningless to continue, and stopped struggling. Xue Qilin uttered mercilessly: “Be quick about it!”
“Don’t be angry, Young Ancestor.” Luo Qing persuaded with a bitter smile.
“Don’t be angry? How can I not be angry? He made a fool of me!” In the end, Xue Qilin glared at Qi Qiqi, apparently feeling that she was an accomplice.
“I’m sorry.” Qi Qiqi felt a little embarrassed.
Xue Qilin snorted, no longer bothering, “I’m hungry! Little Qing, where’s my food?”
Luo Qing made an “ah” sound, and then said apologetically: “Sorry, Young Ancestor, I forgot.”
“What? You forgot?” Xue Qilin widened her eyes.
“Yes.” Luo Qing nodded.
Xue Qilin suddenly turned her head to look at Qi Qiqi, pointed at her, and said fiercely: “You’re to blame!”
Er… it has nothing to do with me… Why am I always being blamed? Qi Qiqi was dumbfounded.