A nimble figure traveled through the imperial garden and instantly vanished around the corner of the winding corridor.
“Shaolun, there's progress!” A figure suddenly appeared; he was Chen Luoqing, the fully recovered General Chen!
“How so?! Spit it out!” Yang Shaolun placed down the scroll in his hands, his handsome countenance suppressing, albeit unsuccessfully, the innate anger in him.
“Minister Chen sent the group of assassins. However, their whereabouts are unknown right now. I heard that after their failed assassination attempt that night, they kidnapped Physician Lin, and escaped into the forest. She has claimed that a martial arts expert appeared back then. I went to inspect the scene, and it's the truth.” An astute glint flickered in Chen Luoqing's eyes.
“Why do you say that?” Yang Shaolun paid extremely close attention to this matter.
“There were no signs of combat at the scene, but I noticed a strong scent of stone dust on the ground. There were dust particles scattered all over the ground; the particles originated from a huge, sturdy, and firm rock. They should have been blown away with the wind, but the rain was pouring heavily that night, wetting the rock dust. The wind couldn't carry the particles with it, so they remained where they were. However, it would be hard to notice these particles without close observation.” Chen Luoqing's tone was intertwined with a hint of admiration and shock.
“You're saying that a martial arts expert crushed the huge rock into dust?” Yang Shaolun was startled.
“There are no traces of blood at the scene. Even if the heavy rain has washed the blood away, the scent of blood should have still lingered in the air. But aside from the scent of dust, there's nothing else!”
“You're saying that those men in black aren't dead? But they're missing? Then who's the highly skilled martial artist?” Yang Shaolun paced back and forth, his hands behind his back.
“I'm not sure. However, that person is definitely not one of Minister Chen's, because his side is also searching for their whereabouts!”
“Chen Zhiyi, that old traitor, is extremely daring and brazen. How dare he collude with the enemy whilst being on the imperial payroll! This Emperor has been overly trusting of him!” Yang Shaolun held a profound gaze; the thoughts behind his eyes remained unknown.
“He's not enough of a threat; his methods aren't sinister and cruel enough, nor are his thoughts meticulous and careful enough either. He's just a lackey. He has a mastermind behind him,” Chen Luoqing said faintly.
“You mean him?” Yang Shaolun lightly knitted his brows. He couldn't hold back anymore?
“It must be him! According to the secret report I received, the person I met on my way back was the empress dowager of Rong!” Chen Luoqing shockingly exclaimed.
Yang Shaolun was startled. What had happened to the Rong's imperial family that resulted in the empress dowager escaping on her own?
“Rong's Prince Yeling led his troops and rebelled. The emperor is already being held captive, and Prince Yeling already gained complete control of the imperial palace. The empress dowager was escorted out by a group of imperial guards who had pledged their lives to protect her safety. She was accompanied by her maidservant, Juanzi. But Juanzi had long been bribed by Prince Yeling's people, so she left traces for the pursuing troops. Thankfully, the empress dowager knew martial arts and escaped a few pursuit attempts.
“Eventually, she encountered me, and I noticed Juanzi had been finding excuses to leave things behind or to mark secret symbols while we were on the run. She succumbed and revealed the truth after my interrogation: That she had been leaving marks in secrecy for Prince Yeling's men so that the pursuing troops could catch up.”
“Why didn't Juanzi kill the empress dowager directly?” Yang Shaolun asked, perplexed.
“Juanzi didn't have the heart to. She was only carrying out Prince Yeling's orders, as he was holding her family hostage,” Chen Luoqing replied.
“So she was actually forced and had no other choice?”
“If Juanzi wasn't the one who attacked you, who could it be?” Yang Shaolun posed rhetorically and fell deep in thought.
“It really wasn't Juanzi. We were resting in the forest that day. The empress dowager had fallen ill, as she was both mentally and physically exhausted by the consecutive days of pursuit and hiding. A gust of black smoke blew over the moment we sat down. I knew that something was amiss. The empress dowager and Juanzi were knocked out first. I held in my breath and tried to resist breathing in the air by circulating the vital energy in my body. While doing that, I vaguely saw a man walking towards me. I couldn't see his appearance clearly, but I found him somewhat familiar. The man took out a knife, a blunt vegetable knife to be exact. He swung it at me and I lost consciousness the moment I tried to use my vital energy.” Chen Luoqing tried his hardest to recall what had happened that day before he fell unconscious.
“It seems like your attacker does know martial arts, but was just pretending that he didn't. He wants to pin the crime of assaulting you on Rong's imperial family!”
“That's right. But they didn't expect that I would be able to come back from the gates of Hell and survive, despite being poisoned and heavily injured.” A cruel glint flashed across Chen Luoqing's sneering face.
“Right. That old traitor Chen Zhiyi thought you'd be dead for sure. That's why he told Imperial Younger Brother that his steward saw you with members of the Rong imperial family. Coupled with the fact that you seemed to have sustained injuries from someone who knew no martial arts, this Emperor would definitely be suspicious of the imperial family of Rong, and hence send in troops to crusade against them. Under such a scenario, this Emperor would be helping Prince Yeling to get rid of the troops of the previous monarch. What a great plan to kill two birds with one stone.” The corners of Yang Shaolun's lips moved upward, but his terrifying gaze was icy
“The empress dowager and Juanzi are missing. They're probably in Prince Yeling's hands.” Chen Luoqing controlled his gaze and retracted his imposing aura. “I'll leave now to find out.”
“Go, but be careful,” Yang Shaolun replied.
“Okay, understood. Also, be wary of Physician Lin. She is more than meets the eye,” Chen Luoqing warned solemnly.
“How so?” Yang Shaolun felt his heart sink.
“She knows martial arts, but she has been hiding that fact from us. There must be an inside story.” Chen Luoqing had been keeping an eye on Lin Haihai. Although she never displayed her skills openly, he had seen her staying awake for several days and nights. How could an ordinary woman endure that? Unless she knew martial arts with a solid and deep cultivation base, that wouldn't be possible.
Yang Shaolun walked out in silence. Watching Yang Shaolun's lonely back, Chen Luoqing couldn't help but shake his head.
Lin Haihai had been thinking about the performance, so she casually made do with lunch before heading down the mountains. Her thoughts were so completely fixated on the performance that she didn't even realize that Zheng Feng was tailing her. In truth, he had been tailing her for a few days, and she had been aware of it then. But at this moment in time, she had completely forgotten about it.
She lightly tiptoed and jumped into the skies, gracefully flitting across the forest like a petrel. Behind her, Zheng Feng was shocked, and stood rooted to the ground for a long while. How could anyone other than a demoness achieve such levels of qinggong? Great Master Fa Hai's words were right. This Physician Lin is really a demon. I must report this to His Majesty right away. Zheng Feng retracted his gaze and was preparing to head down the mountain immediately when…
He turned around to meet a huge smiling face swaying in front of his eyes. The cool breeze had gotten to Lin Haihai's mind and cleared it. She had suddenly recalled Zheng Feng had been following her. Oh no. She could only head back and deal with him first before anything else.
Zheng Feng unsheathed his sword. Lin Haihai waved her sleeves and the sword flew out of Zheng Feng's hands, straight into the trunk of a huge tree thirty-three meters away. Zheng Feng stared dumbfounded as Lin Haihai closed in on him with a faint smile. He backed up in panic.
“Lord Zheng, what did you see?” Lin Haihai flashed a harmless smile, but in her heart, she was devising a way to make him keep his lips tightly sealed.
“Who exactly are you?” Zheng Feng suddenly stood up straight. In the worst case scenario, death awaited him.
“Demoness, don't you harm anyone!” A roar rang out through the air and Lin Haihai felt a gust of strong wind from behind her. She seized the opportunity and flew upwards to avoid the powerful palm attack.
“Great Master Fa Hai, she is really a demoness, as you said!” Zheng Feng was relieved upon the sight of Fa Hai.
“Lord Zheng, please step to the side and let this old monk capture this demoness, to prevent her from stirring troubles on earth!” Fa Hai proclaimed in a just and righteous tone.
Fa Hai? Could it be that Fa Hai that went up against Bai Suzhen? Lin Haihai found it funny. She looked at the monk and asked, “Great Master Fa Hai, when have I stirred trouble on earth?”
“The majority of demons rely on gathering human vitality to cultivate their skills. You dare say that you don't have any motives for hiding amongst humans?” Fa Hai interrogated sternly and justly.
“Since you claim that I'm a demoness, then what type of demon am I? Do I have any demonic aura on me?” Lin Haihai advanced towards him step by step.
“Hmph. When this old monk beats you back to your true form, let's see what else you have to say!” Fa Hai ran out of words. It was true that she didn't have any demonic aura on her, but this was also what confused him.
“You need to at least give me a reason. I can't possibly be a demoness just because you claim that I am, right?” Lin Haihai retorted.
“Hmph. This old monk checked on the soul of Lin Family's young miss, and at the time, she had passed away. You possessed her body while her corpse was still warm and took control of it. If you didn't have any wicked intentions, why did you possess her body? Why are you hiding amongst us humans?” Fa Hai lashed out in an overbearing tone.
“You can communicate with spirits?” Lin Haihai asked curiously.
“Demoness, die!” Fa Hai raised his alms bowl and it slowly rose to the sky, shining. The light gradually gathered on Lin Haihai. Her long hair billowed in the wind and her dress fluttered. Her face shone under the light produced by the alms bowl. Fa Hai was innately surprised. Normally, when the alms bowl's light was shone on demons, their faces would become distorted and they would gradually return to their true form. But right now, Lin Haihai didn't seem to be in the least bit of pain. Instead, she reflected divine light. It seems like she has quite a strong cultivation base. What a pity that she didn't stay in the mountains to cultivate, but ran into the human world to cause trouble.
Under the light rays, Lin Haihai felt as though she were enjoying a comfortable and relaxing sunbath from the rays of early spring. She gently closed her eyes as her body gradually absorbed the light. Suddenly, she opened her eyes. Both Fa Hai and Zheng Feng took a step back at the same time.
Lin Haihai smiled and said, “Monk, this isn't working.” As soon as she completed her sentence, she gestured and the alms bowl fell on the ground. The emitting light gradually faded as the alms bowl returned to its normal state. Fa Hai stared at her in shock, anxiety filling his eyes for the first time. He pointed at Lin Haihai and asked, “Just what type of demon are you?!”
Zheng Feng had originally thought that Fa Hai could capture Lin Haihai, so he had been standing at his original spot and watching from the sidelines. But right now, seeing how powerful Lin Haihai was, he was incredibly anxious. If they didn't get rid of her, how could there be peace in the human world? He flew over and extracted his sword within the tree trunk. He tapped against the ground, borrowing the force to push himself up into the air, aiming his sword at Lin Haihai. Lin Haihai remained where she was but slightly tilted her body and dodged Zheng Feng's attack.Previous Chapter Next Chapter