Although Qin Yining was happy to see familiar faces, her heart still rang with a few notes of caution.
Liao Zhibing, Zhao Promise, and Zhao Unbreakable bowed to Qin Yining once again.
“We’ve finally found you after so long!” Zhao Promise’s voice rang out in delighted tones. “We even heard that the alliance head killed Anari Khan. Everyone’s saying that the alliance head’s a real hero among women for dealing such a blow to the Tatars. All of the brothers in the alliance are honored to be in your service!”
“That’s right, Alliance Head!” Zhao Unbreakable was also very happy.
The way they addressed her drew a confused look from Lu Heng.
Qin Yining heaved a silent sigh. But at this stage, Lu Heng was no longer a stranger, so she didn’t hide anything. “They’re from Azure Justice.”
Lu Heng wasn’t surprised, having long since guessed the truth of the matter. He only smiled in reply before pulling Feiying and Feilian, the two bodyguards that had followed him for many years, to the side to talk. “Where are you two coming from?”
“Reporting to the second master, we come from home.”
Lu Heng’s face lit up. “And how is the situation at home? How is my grandfather doing?”
Feiying and Feilian shared a look, rueful smiles appearing on their faces.
“Second Master, the family fell into chaos after you were captured. The old lord’s always supported you, but with your capture, those with an eye on the patriarch position started no end of trouble. After the old lord fell ill, the eldest senior master returned to help out with things at home. But since the senior master is rarely at the capital and has a sparse network there, his power is limited. He can only watch helplessly as the second and third branches seize power and strut around."
“These days, the family is under the second elder master’s control. Perhaps due to worrying about imperial blame, he’s pushed everything about the treasure map and the Tatar khan’s assassination onto you. It’s not just them saying it either, but practically everyone in the family. Whenever anyone asks, they all say it’s your fault.”
“The old lord was furious when he found out, but had to keep choking down his anger. That, combined with how the emperor kept summoning him into the palace to be scolded and how much he worried over you… Well, by the time we left, the old lord was already gravely ill.”
Lu Heng’s eyes were shut tight as he listened, painfully tilting his head after a while to try and stop tears that threatened to spill.
If it wasn’t for him being so willful, things wouldn’t have developed like this. If he’d been a better grandson, his grandfather wouldn’t have to suffer like this in his old age.
This was all his fault!
But to wallow in regret now was useless. If his grandfather really met with an unexpected accident because of this, Lu Heng would never be able to forgive himself!
“Second Master, please don’t be too saddened.”
“That’s right, Second Master.” Feiying and Feilian hurried to comfort Lu Heng when they noticed how despondent he seemed.
Neither two was good with words. They were so clumsy, in fact, that they could talk for ages but still fail to get the point across.
However, Lu Heng could already sense their sincerity and smiled, clapping the two’s shoulders. “Just being able to see you guys here already makes me very happy. Don’t worry, I won’t let some news ruin me. Even if it’s lost, I can just take it back forcibly.”
Feiying and Feilian were touched by Lu Heng’s words and vowed heroically, “As long as the second master gives the word, us brothers will dare to do anything.”
Gripped by emotion, Lu Heng responded with a faint smile. “Alright, then I’ll be relying on you two.”
On the other side, Qin Yining brought the Azure Justice trio to a more private area to talk. She smiled at them.
“How did you find us here?”
Lin Zhibing raised his hands in a cupped fist salute. “Although we didn’t find any traces of your whereabouts, we surmised that Utkin Khan would be pursuing you after killing Anari Khan and decided to try our luck in Tatar territory.”
“Your luck sure is good, we really did find each other.” Qin Yining dimpled.
“Yes.” Lin Zhibing smiled. “If it wasn’t for this happy development, we’d still be outside looking.”
Zhao Promise and Zhao Unbreakable nodded in agreement.
“Alliance Head, there’s something else I’d like to ask you.”
A bleak smile appeared on Qin Yining’s face. “You wish to ask about Madame Liao, don’t you?”
Liao Zhibing nodded. “That’s right. I haven’t heard from her for several months. I was hoping that she’d be with you, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
“I’ll be honest. After Madame Liao hid the treasure, she lured me into a fake tunnel and we ended up facing off against each other. In the chaos, the earth dragon turned over again. We all fled in disarray, but ended up captured at the hands of Siqin and taken to Tatar.
“Great Zhou’s emperor greatly values the treasure and tried to track us down for the entire journey, so Siqin decided to lead our group into the desert. Dangerous as it was and lacking adequate food and water, Siqin abandoned Madame Liao and two other brothers in the desert upon coming up empty-handed after interrogations.”
“What!” Liao Zhibing’s eyes grew round in shock, “That bastard left people to fend for themselves in the desert?”
“Yes.” Qin Yining sighed, “I was completely tied up at that time and utterly powerless. As we continued forward, Siqin was almost about to leave me behind as well. We were lucky that Anari Khan led a group in the desert to look for Siqin and found us, bringing enough food and water for everyone. Otherwise, I would’ve been the next one abandoned.”
Liao Zhibing’s eyes reddened as he took a few steps back, struggling to come to terms with this blow.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Oh boy, reinforcements just arrived, big time. This gon' be good.