Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
“Well, we’ve found him. So what now? Make contact?” asked another member of the squad, a Sixth-Order Cultivator.
“Not a good idea,” said another. “It’s better if we just shadow him and watch him. A good many of Thousand Demon Ridge sects and orders have sent forth kill squads to hunt him down. We’re only here because we’re close. That is an advantage we could use. Breaking concealment leaves us in a much-compromised position. We could be overrun very easily. It’s obvious that this lad is still none the wiser over the ruckus that’s now brewing on his account. Making contact with him might turn out poorly, especially if he becomes suspicious of us.”
“But shadowing him might not be good enough to keep him safe.”
“I have another idea! Why don’t we just give him a bloody bludgeon to the head so that he faints? We can easily carry him away,” added another member, a hulking giant of a man.
That earned him the stares and glares of all his fellow squad members. “What, bad idea?” he muttered sheepishly.
“Well, since you’re the one to come up with this bright idea,” nodded one of the Sixth-Orders, “Why don’t you do the honors?”
“Me? He’d just reduce me into pork chops before I ever get close!” bawled the beefy man. As a Sixth-Order Cultivator, even he could not ensure that he would defeat Lu Ye squarely in a fight. Witnessing Lu Ye’s ferocity in action earlier had left him badly daunted.
It was up to the female leader of the squad to make the final decision. “I’ll make contact with him,” said the Seventh-Order Cultivator, “I’ll stay around him while you guys shadow us.”
That was a decision that no one objected to.
Although in mere seconds, everyone was wondering if they had erred in agreeing to the plan. As soon as the female leader broke away to approach Lu Ye, she began tearing her own tunic and tried to make her chest look more bosomy by trying to lift her chest with her hands and squashing her ample mounds together…
One of the Sixth-Orders slapped his forehead with exasperation as he averted his gaze. [Heavens, Sister Lan. The lengths you’re going to complete your mission…]
In the meantime, Lu Ye was pressing forward on Amber’s back when he heard a weak voice calling for help. Lu Ye paused and listened. It was true. Someone was calling for help and it was a woman.
He did not go nearer to her at once. Being attacked again and again with such a bizarrely persistent frequency had left him extremely wary about strangers.
Yi Yi was sent ahead to quickly reconnoiter the area before she came back with her findings. There really was a woman who looked like she had just survived a Spirit Beast attack, although there were no signs of animal traps anywhere around them.
Lu Ye nodded and had Amber shift to another bearing.
The female Cultivator called Lan was still moaning for help in her tattered tunic when her Battlefield Imprint alerted her to new incoming messages. She glanced through them quickly and said, totally flabbergasted, “What the hell—?!”
[Why the hell did he run away?!]
[Anyone would have come to have a look when they ran into a lady crying for help in the wilderness! What the hell is wrong with him!?]
[Is it because I’m not crying loud enough or am I not screaming hard enough?!]
The female Cultivator got up to her feet, so indignant that the veins on her temples were bulging.
[Gods, how I’d love to give that brat a punch!]
She rejoined her squad later after changing into a fresh set of clothing, although the look on her face wasn’t fresh in any way at all. She was utterly dour and glum.
“What now?” asked one of them.
The female Cultivator’s eyes wavered with uncertainty. “The same plan. I’ll try to get close to him myself this time. The rest of you just keep close!”
“All that’s well, but this fellow’s got a mount that’s very fast. We can do our best to keep up but it’s only just a matter of time before he gives us the slip,” quipped one of the Sixth-Orders.
“That won’t matter. Our job’s just to watch him for one part of the journey. There’ll be other squads from other Grand Sky Coalition orders waiting to take over ahead,” said Lan.
That was good news to the squad. With more help from other allies, that would mean that their job had just become considerably easier.
It was night and Lu Ye made camp. He used a bonfire to roast some meat for himself and Amber. Halfway through his meal, he detected the signature of someone with Spiritual Power approaching. He got up at once and stared intently into the darkness—in the direction from whence the stranger was coming.
Just moments later, a figure dashed out of the thickets, stepping into the light of the fire. Lu Ye’s hand snapped to the hilt of his weapon immediately, ready to draw it at a moment’s notice while he eyed the newcomer with an unfriendly glare.
It was a woman and one whose appearance was disheveled and bedraggled with her half-naked womanly charms spilling out of her loose clothing. She looked like she was running for her life. Frantically, she tore towards Lu Ye the moment she clapped eyes on him. “Help, sir! Someone is trying to kill me!”
Unfazed by the theatrics, Lu Ye drew his weapon with deliberate, menacing slowness. That was enough for Lan to stop in her tracks, and quickly realize that one more step and this young lad would attack with extreme prejudice and without mercy. The cold hard stare he was giving her was telling her as much!
[This ungrateful and brutish whelp!]
She screeched to a stop and cried with tears welling in her eyes, “Help me, please!” As she spoke, she did not neglect to raise her arm to show him a glimpse of her Battlefield Imprint.
From within the darkness behind her, a few more strangers leaped out into the open. One of them peered at Lu Ye and squealed, “A Fifth-Order! Quick, run!”
With just that, the pursuers immediately turned on their heels and scrambled away.
Lu Ye’s forehead creased deeper. He gave the woman another curt look. Confirming that she was only just a Fourth-Order, he gradually slid his weapon back into its sheathe.
Lan heaved a heavy breath of relief. Still wearing that damsel-in-distress look, she said to Lu Ye, “To what sect or order do you belong to, kind sir?”
Lu Ye did not bother to reply. He ignored her and went back to munching on his roasted meat. Amber pawed him affectionately and he leaned back, lying down on the tiger’s huge belly.
But he did not take his eyes off the woman at all.
[Funny…] he thought. He was just thinking that he could have sworn that he had heard that voice somewhere before, then he realized that she was the same woman who was moaning for help earlier.
He did not get to see her, but Yi Yi recognized her the moment she showed herself. Amber’s pawing at him just now was at Yi Yi’s behest to send him a signal to warn him.
[So, this woman was trying to get me to save her just now but she failed… Then now she comes to me on her own accord? What is her scheme in trying to get close to me?]
[And she’s made it clear that she’s a member of the Grand Sky Coalition…]
Lu Ye was still contemplating in silence when Lan forced a smile, “Would you let me stay here for the night, sir? Just for the night until I’m sure I’m safe?”
“As you wish!”
[What the hell is wrong with you, you ungrateful and snobbish brat?!] Lan almost screamed aloud. Her anger was getting harder and harder to keep in check. Still, she forced another smile, “Why, thank you so much!”
But that was her chance to get closer to her target. Her clothes were still loose and disheveled, not to mention the speckles of blood that mottled all over her tunic. But all that did little to dissuade her from trying to reveal her womanly charms to Lu Ye.
She sat down beside the fire and held up her hands to keep them warm. “Thank you so much,” she tried to make conversation, “I would have been killed if not for you! I really couldn’t thank you enough…”
Without responding to her melodramatics, Lu Ye tossed her a piece of roasted meat all of a sudden, catching her by surprise that she nearly dropped it. She stared at him in silent bewilderment.
[So, he’s the tough-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside type?] That seemed to have quelled what displeasure and resentment about him a great deal. Plus, the juicy yet tender roasted steak and its alluring aroma were making her stomach groan in protest. Unable to resist her pangs of hunger, she began wolfing down on the food ravenously.
“What’s your name, sir?” Lan mumbled as she ate, “I’m Lan Yudie.”
“Quit talking when you eat.”
“Is it good?”
“Yeah, it is. Thank you.”
“Hasn’t anyone told you before about not accepting food from strangers?” Lu Ye said suddenly. Without her realizing it, he was already on his feet with his weapon drawn as he strode towards her menacingly.
Lan Yudie’s face fell with dread and dismay. She immediately dropped the slab of meat and tried to channel her Spiritual Power but to no avail. What answered her call was only the twinging sensation where her Microcosmic Orbits felt like collapsing, let alone functioning at all.
Before she could even get to her feet, the long blade of Lu Ye’s weapon rested on her shoulder with its sharp edge grazing the skin of her neck. Lan Yudie looked up and their eyes met. Her eyes flared with rage, “You drugged me?! How dare you!?”
That was the last straw. It was not so much as indignation as the humiliation that a Seventh-Order like her would fall prey to such a simple parlor trick by a Fifth-Order. If word of this got out, she could never tolerate the shame!
She could barely confess to seeing this coming at all!
No one had ever done something like this to her!
“Relax. It’s only something that inhibits the use of your Spiritual Power temporarily. It’s nothing harmful.”
The substance was first found inside the Storage Bag that belonged to the son of the Nine Star Clan’s Master before he had Hua Ci analyze it. He had been waiting for the chance to put it to good use after he knew what it was and labeled it.
“Now, let’s hear the truth of your trying to get close to me.”
“What the hell are you talking about?!” exclaimed Lan Yudie, feigning ignorance.
“That was you moaning for help earlier today, wasn’t it? So what are the odds that you’ll be stumbling into me at night again? Don’t tell me that it’s a coincidence because you and I both know that it ruddy well is not.”
“Y-You…” Lan Yudie could not believe it. Lu Ye couldn’t have seen her!
But how did he manage to recognize her just by hearing her voice alone?!
Lan Yudie gazed up at Lu Ye who was looking at her crossly. She cracked into a simper. “Impressive!” [It would appear that this might be an interesting mission after all!]
“So you’re admitting that you’ve been deliberately trying to get close to me?”
“Yep!” Lan Yudie conceded, allowing her long hair down to conceal the expression on her face.
Lu Ye began to notice something amiss. The surface of Lan Yudie’s skin was beginning to glow at an unprecedented pace—portending the real level of Spiritual Power that she had been hiding from him! Knowing better than to wait, he whipped the edge of his saber across her artery without any hesitation.
But he missed. Broken strands of hair fell to the ground and Lan Yudie had vaulted herself up with one hand on the ground to not only evade Lu Ye’s attack but also to deliver a kick straight into his face!
Lu Ye leaned backward to avoid the heavy blow that swished just inches past his face before he kicked hard and withdrew to a safe distance, putting more than fifteen meters between them both.
Lan Yudie reached up and caressed her fair and slender neck, only to feel something slick and wet. The corners of her eyes twitched with utter shock and disbelief as she registered what it was. “What the hell?! Were you actually trying to kill me for real?!”
The nick on her neck would have been a sideways sweep that would have seen her head lopped off if she had not been dodging quickly enough! [Dammit, just what the hell is wrong with him!? Does he need to be so brutal?!]
Opposite, Lu Ye wasn’t looking pleased at all, for he realized that this woman wasn’t just some lowly Fourth-Order but rather, a Seventh-Order!
Whatever she used, it had managed to conceal her powers and hoodwinked him!
But that would explain why the drug did not work as intended. The level of her Spiritual Power was three ranks above what he initially thought, which was why the effects of the drug on her were so light.
Amber melted into the darkness, biding for his time to launch a surprise attack.
“You’ve left me in a terrible mood, brat! I’ll just vent it on you for what you’ve done!” Lan Yudie’s figure was gone with just her afterimages trailing in her wake as she lunged at Lu Ye.
[Such incredible speed!] Lu Ye nearly gasped aloud.
Without any prior experience in dealing with a Seventh-Order, Lu Ye did not know what to expect in a real fight against a Seventh-Order Cultivator! All he knew was that Lan Yudie’s incredibly fast!
But since his physical enrichment inside the Dragon Spring, he could at least pick up her movements with his sight, or he would be in real danger indeed!
Lan Yudie came so close to pouncing on him and he quickly countered with a vicious backhand sweep aimed at the side of her head.
The keen edge of the blade came dangerously close to scraping her nose as she took a couple of light-footed steps to retreat backward. But she was nonetheless astounded by what just happened. [Did he just read my moves?! Or was that just a fluke?!]
But there was no time to think. Her figure vanished into thin air again amid a trail of afterimages chasing after her like wraiths.
Lu Ye quickly readjusted the grip of his saber and swung it forward once more.
That left Lan Yudie even more flabbergasted and discombobulated. Lu Ye really was able to read her moves! Every one of his moves was aimed at countering that of hers!