The grudge of the needle?
Bai Yuqiao glanced at the phoenix wing face mask on Ning Cheng once more, half-believing, half-doubting. However, she easily handed over the needle. In any case, she couldn’t figure out what it was made of, nor if it held any arcane secrets. She then quickly brought him to the army barracks on the outskirts of Skyriver City. Because Brother Qi had already told them ahead of time, they saw Jun Yixie standing to greet them right at the gates.
Bai Yuqiao’s heart raced as she spotted his familiar figure from a distance. She even stopped walking to stare at him a little longer. She had never dared to look her senior brother in the face at close range, only from a distance like this. It was the sole time she revealed her feelings of love. Ning Cheng was in no mood to pay attention to her odd behavior. He simply kept walking forward with his eye on Jun Yixie. There was a cold smile hidden within his heart.
Right now, he could be counted as a prisoner. For Jun Yixie to meet him personally at the gates meant that the man had ideas to collude with him as well. As long as Jun Yixie was interested, then everything would be easy. Once they drew near, they saw Jun Yixie dressed in scarlet red robes, looking handsome and valiant. His life in the barracks had made him leaner and tanner than before, highlighting his facial features as if they were sculpted by the Heavens themselves. The blood red earring on his brow resembled a red mole, or perhaps a tongue of flame filled with mystery. As the wind picked up, it whipped his cape about and made him look both arrogant and wild. Despite standing to meet them in person, Jun Yixie’s attitude was as presumptuous as ever once Ning Cheng approached. If this was anyone else, they would have cowered beneath his powerful aura long ago, but not Ning Cheng.
Dressed in simple black robes, Ning Cheng looked significantly more downtrodden, but his gaze was haughty and cold as he raised his head to look scornfully at Jun Yixie. The wind of the grasslands blew harder and louder, framing the two tall men as they stood facing each other. Their silent battle had long begun. Jun Yixie was waiting for Ning Cheng to speak first, and vice versa. Both of them remained mute, but their eyes were probing each other out while holding their ground. Fortunately, Bai Yuqiao quickly caught up and soon acted as mediator.
“Senior brother, this is the Di Clan Head and the Ning Clan’s Great General Ning Cheng.”
But Jun Yixie didn’t answer.
Bai Yuqiao quickly added, “Great General Ning, this is my senior brother, Jun Yixie.”
Ning Cheng didn’t reply, either.
Now anxious, Bai Yuqiao was fretting over what to do when Jun Yixie suddenly kicked towards Ning Cheng! At the same time, Ning Cheng kicked as well, blocking Jun Yixie’s foot until the two were caught in a deadlock. Jun Yixie’s gaze chilled as he added more force. Ning Cheng’s martial arts couldn’t compare to the other man’s, so instead of resisting, he simply expertly avoided the blow. Still, Jun Yixie refused to let up. He suddenly soared into the air and made a flying kick attack. Although Ning Cheng backed away, he was still knocked to the ground by his foot. Despite this, his eye remained icy as it scrutinized Jun Yixie.
That made Jun Yixie immensely uncomfortable. He’d already kicked the man to the ground, but refused to let the matter drop. Another kick aimed for the mask on his face. Ning Cheng grabbed Jun Yixie’s foot with his right hand and held on tight. Jun Yixie couldn’t break free, so he gave up and aimed his other foot at Ning Cheng’s face too. It was perfectly possible for Ning Cheng to grab the foot with his left hand, thus trapping the man in place and winning this battle! While Jun Yixie was outwardly aggressive, Ning Cheng was inwardly haughty. He might not win in a martial arts battle, but his resourcefulness outclassed the other man.
But Ning Cheng didn’t seize the chance. His left hand remained resting by his side, the palm resting on the ground. It hadn’t moved during the course of this entire match. Yet he concealed it so well that Jun Yixie simple assumed that Ning Cheng was too slow to react, rather than holding back on purpose. His foot kicked squarely against Ning Cheng’s mask. Although it didn’t break, it did fall to the side, exposing its owner’s blind eye. His pupil was fine, as well as the shape of his eyeball, but its gaze was blank and unfocused.
The look in one’s eyes was difficult to feign. Even the best experts could only fake expressions in both eyes or full blindness. It was impossible for someone to fake blindness in one eye while retaining the other. Jun Yixie studied Ning Cheng’s blinded eye before believing he’d really lost his vision.
“Heheh, Han Yunxi really is ruthless!” he laughed coldly while extending a hand to help Ning Cheng up.
Ning Cheng ignored the proffered hand to pick up the face mask and clean it meticulously with his sleeve. Then he put it back on his face and stood up himself, patting the dirt off his clothes. He and Jun Yixie were about the same height, but the set of his shoulders was a little more haughty, a bit more imposing.
Jun Yixie acted as if nothing had happened and laughed. “A phoenix wing? Heheh, is that what Han Yunxi’s birthmark looks like?”
“The Nether Clan had drawings of its appearance. They relied on the phoenix wing to find their target,” Ning Cheng said as he finally met Jun Yixie’s eyes. “What, did Bai Yanqing not even tell you about this? You don’t know this is what the phoenix wing looks like?”
Bai Yuqiao grew doubtful. She figured she must have been overthinking things before. How could Ning Cheng have ever personally witnessed Han Yunxi’s birthmark? Meanwhile, the arrogant, overbearing Jun Yixie suddenly grew gloomy. He glanced at Bai Yuqiao. When Brother Qi had bought Su Xiaoyu here, he’d told him everything that their master had done. But Jun Yixie refused to believe him! Unless master told him in person and admitted he was using him all along, he’d never accept it. Now that Ning Cheng was questioning him like this, it was obvious that he knew about their relationship too. Bai Yuqiao must have told him!
Bai Yuqiao long expected this reaction from her senior brother, which was why she needed Ning Cheng’s help. She lowered her head, afraid to meet his scrutiny. She only hoped that Ning Cheng could help her out of this mess.
Ning Cheng laughed coldly. “Bai Yanqing making you run around in circles, but you can only blame your own stupidity for that. Are you going to resent a little girl too?”
“You have no right to meddle in matters between our master and us!” Jun Yixie was still glaring at Bai Yuqiao.
Ning Cheng leisurely patted off the stray bits of grass clinging to his clothes and laughed again. “Bai Yuqiao, since your brother is determined to be the Wind Clan’s mutt, why bother worrying about him?”
Bai Yuqiao panicked, “Senior brother, master hid so many things from you. Why do you still refuse to see sense?”
“Could master tell me every single thing while I was with the Wintecrow Clan?” Jun Yixie shot back. “He has his own limits when doing things. Is he supposed to tell us about everything he’s up to?”
Bai Yuqiao broke into a bitter smile. “Senior brother, master planned it long beforehand! Do you remember the blood you brought back from Fishery Island? That was Baili Mingxiang’s blood, the blood of the Mermaid Clan. Master was researching it behind your back the entire time. It was this blood that helped him guess Long Feiye’s identity!”
Jun Yixie’s gaze darkened again.
“Senior brother, do you know why master knew Han Yunxi’s identity? Because she’s the descendant of the main bloodline of the Poison Sect, just like him! I saw master use the poison storage space with my own eyes, so it can’t be false! And also, Helian Zuixiang from Tianning’s Han Estate is actually one of master’s long hidden spies! Twenty years ago, master already knew who Han Yunxi was and the whereabouts of the West Qin princess! Why did master never tell you?” Bai Yuqiao asked.
Jun Yixie’s heart gave a lurch. Twenty years ago…
Master had clearly accepted his father’s request twenty years ago and brought him to Northern Li! Master had even agreed to his father’s wishes to foster him well so he could fulfill the wishes of his Black Clan forefathers and unify Cloud Realm! If master knew Han Yunxi’s identity that far back, why didn’t he tell father? Why didn’t he tell him?
Master...how could he do this?!
Bai Yuqiao was afraid that Jun Yixie doubted her words, so she shot a few looks at Ning Cheng, who snorted. “Han Yunxi also learned of Bai Yanqing’s identity because of the poison storage space. Bai Yanqing used it back at the maze labyrinth by Lost Void Lake.”
Jun Yixie glanced at him, seemingly wanting to speak. But in the end, he held back.
“Senior brother, my master and I pretended to be loyalists to West Qin back then. Master told Han Yunxi and Ning Cheng that you were the true head of the Wind Clan while he was your servant. Think about it it, senior brother. Why would master hide things from you while pushing you into the position of Wind Clan Head? What are his motives?”
“Senior brother, if Han Yunxi and Ning Cheng hadn’t exposed master’s identity, you would be a target of public criticism by now! Whether it’s Han Yunxi or Long Feiye, neither of them would forgive you! You’d be the biggest scapegoat ever if you shouldered all of the Wind Clan’s crimes in his place!”
“If you don’t believe me, senior brother, then Ning Cheng can testify! He was there too!”
Bai Yuqiao’s repeated exclamations finally made Jun Yixie’s heart ache. It hurt, it really did! He’d always treated his master like his real father, but the man had hid so much from him! If it was only the past couple of years, he could let it go and still trust him, but... how was he supposed to forgive secrets kept for over twenty years?! Master had been lying to him from the very day he took him in as a disciple! And where did master place the Black Clan after pushing him to the position of Wind Clan Head?
Bai Yuqiao and Ning Cheng didn’t know he was the heir to the Black Clan, but he did. While Jun Yixie was lost in silence, Ning Cheng’s face grew doubtful, because Bai Yuqiao’s words had reminded him of something.
“Ning Cheng, say something!” Bai Yuqiao was so anxious she stomped her feet.
Ning Cheng slowly shifted his gaze to Jun Yixie. “Jun Yixie, Bai Yanqing still hasn’t contacted you yet, right? Neither did he tell you that Gu Beiyue was in his hands?”
Jun Yixie didn’t make a sound.
Ning Cheng then asked, “Jun Yixie, if Bai Yanqing really places such importance on your battle horses, why did he never show up even after the Northern Li emperor confined you to Skyriver City? What’s he hiding for?”
Jun Yixie was too lost in his despair to respond, but Bai Yuqiao chimed in. “Back then, master and senior brother already discussed this. Senior brother was only charge of bringing back the horses and killing the crown prince and second imperial prince. Master would help him deal with the Northern Li emperor! But master went back on his words!”
Jun Yixie shot another cold look towards Bai Yuqiao, but he didn’t rebuke her this time.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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