Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Yu Xiao glared at Zhao Li with disappointment. “How much longer do you need before you finally learn to look at the bigger picture?”
Zhao Li sniffed. “I am sorry, sect master.”
At least he didn’t try to defend his mistakes.
“I will message Brother Yi Ye and cancel the invitation immediately,” Zhao Li said.
“Are you listening to yourself? What would people think of us if we cancel an invitation we ourselves extended several days after the fact?”
Zhao Li replied, “Brother Yi Ye is an understanding man. I believe he won’t mind if I tell him why it would be a bad time for him to show up right now. He can visit us after this danger has passed.”
“Perhaps, but you’re far too late. He’s already at the Outpost.” Yu Xiao waved. A disciple had just messaged him saying the Lu Yi Ye of the Crimson Blood Sect had been received by the Outpost and assigned to the guest area.
“It’s fine. I can speak with him right now.” Zhao Li immediately turned around and tried to take his leave.
“Get back here!” Yu Xiao raised his voice. At the same time, Bai Qian stretched out his leg and blocked Zhao Li’s path, nearly tripping the surprised Legate in the process. The young man hurriedly turned around and stood still once more.
“As a disciple of the Heavenly Derivative Sect, your promises are like spilled water. To take back your word is the same as breaking the trust others have in you. In any case, it really is too late. Thousand Demon Ridge should already know that Lu Yi Ye is with us, and they’re probably taking the appropriate measures. We must be prepared to lose the Outpost.”
The harshness in Yu Xiao’s gaze lessened slightly. “I know you’re just worried for the sect. Our Outpost is surrounded by Thousand Demon Ridge on three sides, and we have been doing rather poorly for the past couple years. I don’t mind that you are ambitious, I’m just saying that you should always think thrice before you act.”
“Yes, sect master.”
“One more thing. You do not know this, but our sect actually shares some ties with the Crimson Blood Sect. Back in the day, many of our champions used to serve under that man, and we would not have become a Tier-five sect without his support.”
Zhao Li did not know who his sect master was referring to, but he understood that his sect master was trying to lessen the guilt in his heart. He was saying that the Heavenly Derivative Sect was always going to accept Lu Ye because of the old favor.
“A tribulation may soon fall upon us. You may return to the Outpost and make the necessary preparations now,” Yu Xiao said with a wave.
Zhao Li bowed and left immediately.
Yu Xiao waited until the Legate was out of hearing range before letting out a sigh. He was determined to protect Lu Ye, but that didn’t mean his heart wasn’t aching from the loss. Assuming that the events went exactly as he predicted, they were going to lose their Outpost for sure.
“Is it that bad?” Bai Qian asked.
“I heard some things, yes.” Yu Xiao nodded before asking suddenly, “How do you consider Lu Yi Ye’s talent in the Way of Wards, Elder Bai?”
Bai Qian thought for a moment before answering, “Judging from Zhao Li’s explanation alone, the little fellow is both extraordinarily talented and very creative. That said, there is one thing about his story that I still cannot figure out even now.”
“What is it?”
“He’s only an Eighth-Order Spirit Creek cultivator, so how on earth did he manage to identify the nodes of a Grand Ward? All the methods he employed could only be effective if he targeted the nodes, or it would be impossible even if he had the talent of the Heavens themselves. It is so strange.”
“Perhaps you can ask him directly, Elder Bai?”
“That’s exactly what I’m thinking. Do remember to bring him to me when he visits the headquarters.”
Back at the Heavenly Derivative Sect’s Outpost, Lu Ye was resting at a pavilion when Zhao Li finally paid him a visit. The Legate apologized deeply for his tardiness before instructing the disciples to prepare a small feast immediately, wanting to receive Lu Ye the proper way.
Lu Ye wanted to visit the Hundred Wards Tower as soon as possible, but he could not see a way to turn Zhao Li down without seeming rude. So, he had no choice but to accept the offer.
It wasn’t long before the feast was ready. Lu Ye and Ju Jia took their seats while Zhao Li served them dutifully.
As an apology for his tardiness, Zhao Li punished himself with three glasses of wine before toasting Lu Ye. He would’ve toasted Ju Jia too, but the big guy was busy stuffing his face with food right now…
“Did you have a peaceful journey, Brother Yi Ye?” Zhao Li asked while drinking his wine.
“It’s not bad, but—”
Lu Ye suddenly cut himself off and scrunched his eyebrows. It was because he suddenly felt an odd sensation inside his body.
He hurriedly focused his mind and looked inward. He immediately noticed the leaves of the Tree of Glyphs rooted in his Source Spiritual Point were burning, and gray energy was being ejected non-stop.
Normally, this would be of no concern to Lu Ye. The Tree of Glyphs always reacted like this after he consumed a Spirit Pill, burning away the pill poison in the Spirit Pills and leaving behind only pure Spiritual Power.
However, he hadn’t eaten a Spirit Pill. Moreover, the gray fog rising from the Tree of Glyphs looked incredibly thick. In fact, he had never seen the Tree of Glyphs reacting so fiercely. Whatever was causing it, it was definitely not a Spirit Pill.
“Brother Yi Ye?” Zhao Li looked at him in confusion. Not only had the young man fallen silent, his expression was growing more and more severe by the second.
Lu Ye abruptly grabbed Ju Jia’s chopsticks. A quick analysis and a moment of hesitation later, he declared darkly, “The wine is poisoned!”
It was a most deadly poison too, although it was probably a slow-acting one. Zhao Li had drank from the same wine, but on the surface he looked perfectly fine.
Of course, there was a chance Zhao Li was fine because he was the poisoner, but it was a very low chance. This was the Heavenly Derivative Sect’s Outpost, and Zhao Li was its Legate. It would be an understatement to say that there would be severe consequences if he poisoned Lu Ye, which was why Lu Ye had decided to speak frankly.
And if Zhao Li was the poisoner, the sudden reveal might be enough to make his mask slip.
It didn’t look like that was the case though. A few seconds of stunned silence later, Zhao Li asked weakly and disbelievingly, “You’re joking, right?”
Lu Ye didn’t say a word.
“B-but I’m not feeling anything!” Zhao Li started to panic a little.
Lu Ye glanced at Ju Jia, and the body tempering cultivator slowly shook his head. He too didn’t feel anything amiss, although it could be because he hadn’t drunk the wine and so wasn’t poisoned. He also didn’t know if the dishes were poisoned.
Lu Ye continued to inspect the Tree of Glyphs. The thick fog had become much thinner, indicating that the poison had almost been fully purged.
He had no idea that the Tree of Glyphs had such a miraculous ability, although in hindsight he should’ve made the connection sooner. If the Tree of Glyphs could burn up something as obscure as pill poison, then of course it could purge other poisons as well.
A dozen or so breaths later, no more fog emerged from the Tree of Glyphs. Uncertainty began growing in Lu Ye’s mind. Maybe he was wrong, and he was poisoned some other way?
Lu Ye thought for a moment before pouring himself another glass of wine. Then, he drained it all in one gulp.
Zhao Li continued to stare at the young man with a flabbergasted look on his face. “Brother Yi Ye?”
He was completely confused at this point. A moment ago, Lu Ye told him that the wine was poisoned. Now, he was drinking from that same wine. Was it a joke after all?
“It’s definitely poisoned,” Lu Ye confirmed after seeing thick gray fog rising from the Tree of Glyphs once more.
Zhao Li’s mind turned white, and his thoughts fell into chaos. For a moment he could not think of anything at all. He wondered if it was just his imagination, but he was starting to feel a little unwell as well…
He then saw Lu Ye taking a bite from the dishes, waited a couple of seconds, then said, “The dishes are poisoned as well.”
“Brother Yi Ye!” Zhao Li felt like crying at this point.
“Spit it out now!” Lu Ye turned to Ju Jia and ordered. The body-tempering cultivator immediately rose to his feet and went to a corner.
Lu Ye then tapped once on his Battlefield Imprint and sent out a message before looking back at Zhao Li. “Brother Zhao, I need you to announce a lockdown over the Outpost immediately. Also, you should check if anyone has left the place in the past two hours. Finally, please rally everyone you can trust to our side as soon as possible!”
That was what Zhao Li needed to hear to finally realize the severity of the situation, especially since it didn’t look like Lu Ye was joking. There really was poison in the wine and the dishes.
So, he sent out the messages as Lu Ye asked as quickly as he could.
At the headquarters of the Crimson Blood Sect, Shui Yuan suddenly barged into the sect master’s living quarters and startled the man out of his meditation.
“Lu Ye’s been poisoned!”
A steely glint flashed across the Sect Master’s eyes as he asked, “Where is he?”
“The Heavenly Derivative Sect’s Outpost!”
The sect master immediately went over to Shui Yuan. A few breaths later, they took to the skies at high speed.
At the Heavenly Derivative Sect’s headquarters, Yu Xiao also looked like he could swallow a man alive. He shattered the armrest of his chair and uttered through gritted teeth, “Bastard!”
He had predicted many ways the Thousand Demon Ridge might attack his sect and Lu Yi Ye, but even he hadn’t anticipated the young man to be poisoned barely an hour after he arrived at their Outpost. Clearly, someone at the top level was making some very swift decisions.
Grand Sky Coalition and Thousand Demon Ridge had fought one another for many years, and espionage was a game as old as time itself. That was why no one dared to claim that their disciples were one hundred percent clean.
Some spies might never reveal themselves for as long as they lived, but when they did act, they could always deal massive damage to their target.
In fact, the ambush that nearly killed Lu Ye when the sect master was bringing him to the headquarters was exactly the doing of a Thousand Demon Ridge spy. Moreover, the spy was a Real Lake Realm cultivator. Although Pang Zhen managed to locate the spy and take him out promptly, Lu Ye had been lucky to survive the encounter.
It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to plant spies in the other faction. Even if they succeeded, there was every chance they might be routed before they could ever be of use. That was why everyone who managed to plant themselves behind enemy lines were incredibly valuable assets. They were almost never used unless it was for a critical job.
This time though, it was clear that Thousand Demon Ridge was desperate. They were willing to trade a spy just to kill an Eighth-Order Spirit Creek Realm cultivator.
Very soon, the great elder Bai Qian returned to the main hall with a stern expression. “What’s the current situation?”
“They’re definitely poisoned. We’re still searching for the poisoner, but we’ve narrowed it down to several possible culprits.”
“We must capture the poisoner no matter what. We cannot cure them without knowing the exact poison he was afflicted with,” the great elder said.
“My thoughts exactly. The good news is that Zhao Li had taken the appropriate measures immediately on Lu Yi Ye’s advice.”
“That is a surprisingly calm and rational decision from someone so young,” Bai Qian exclaimed in surprise, “How are they doing right now?”
“Zhao Li says that the symptoms are incredibly mild. He describes it as a nigh undetectable poison that is extremely toxic.”
“What? Mild symptoms, but extremely toxic?” Bai Qian frowned. That made no sense. If a poison was very toxic, then the symptoms should be very obvious. The two characteristics should be mutually exclusive.