Ever since Chu Qingcheng got Huangpu Qingtian’s challenge, her team didn’t move from their spot, standing right next to the wood exit stone in the lush forest. Only the men under them were running to and fro in search of Zhuo Fan.
But even after nine days, none that returned was bearer of any good news. This only worked to sink their moods even lower, not knowing when they could turn this humiliation around.
It couldn’t go on for much longer or their morale would collapse. There was no point by then to drag this Esoteric Debate out and going back home would be most advisable.
Everyone sighed. Who knew the Esoteric Debate would be so cruel to them, to put their entire hopes on just one man?
The audience beyond the National Elemental Stone were looking quite eager. Be it Drifting Flowers Edifices, or Regent Estate, each hoped to see Huangpu Qingtian and Zhuo Fan duke it out, to see who was the real victor in this final battle.
“The wood stone exit is up ahead?”
“Yeah, Edifice Lord Chu is waiting there with the others.”
A familiar voice entered their ears. Their eyes lit up and were thrilled to see the Dong siblings leading Zhuo Fan over. Even Luo Yunhai, Xue Ningxiang and many others were there as well.
They were ecstatic as they surrounded them in an instant. Xie Tianyang was thrilled as well in his laughter, “Ha-ha-ha, you’re finally here. It’s good that you are all alright!”
[Ha-ha-ha, that’s how brothers that went through hell acts, happy to see each other. I am so happy I didn’t cross thousands of mile in vain. Have no fear. Now that I’m here, I’ll make it all better. See how your brother will show you his power and swag!]
Zhuo Fan smiled and opened his arms as he walked to Xie Tianyang.
Only to have his hand flicked away as the guy made a beeline for Xue Ningxiang and her brothers, “Ning’er, ever since we separated from the teleportation, I searched heaven and earth to find you. I was worried sick! I’m so relieved you’re okay…”
Xie Tianyang eased a breath that didn’t know he was holding. Zhuo Fan’s face twitched and snapped his cold eyes on the guy, “Xie Tianyang, you didn’t even care what might have happened to your dear brother?”
“You, a monster? I only care about myself, not you!” Snorted Xie Tianyang.
The others laughed at their antics. Zhuo Fan was royally pissed though, wishing nothing more than to kick him where the sun didn’t shine. [The least you can do is fake it, prick. Is this how a brother acts nowadays?]
[You damn bastard clearly don’t know the meaning of bros before women!]
Dong Tianba saw Zhuo Fan sulking and was reminded of Song Yu, “Ha-ha-ha, brother Zhuo, do you remember our chat in Drifting Flowers City? This is the kind of animal a man is. You’re just the same so try to understand.”
Glaring at him, Zhuo Fan didn’t speak his irritation, [I’m not some pit pony like you guys. I’m not one to just throw my heart to any woman I see.]
Dong Tianba laughed, knowing exactly what he was thinking.
[Sometimes not even you know your true self…]
Dong Tianba turned to Chu Qingcheng and bowed, “Edifice Lord Chu, I have found Zhuo Fan.”
Nodding, Chu Qingcheng’s eyes never left Zhuo Fan. She walked over with a cold stare.
Zhuo Fan felt killing intent smacking into him and saw her approaching with an icy stare. Shivering for some odd reason, Zhuo Fan even felt fear, but he kept his poker face up.
“Do you know why we looked for you?” Chu Qingcheng’s tone was flat.
Zhuo Fan nodded stiffly, “Uh, yeah.”
“Then what are you staring at? Go already! It’s high time you did your part as an ally and get to work!” Chu Qingcheng’s pitiless stare bore into him. It was so cold it chilled even him.
Zhuo Fan didn’t reply and simply took flight. He sighed inside.
[After what happened in Dragon Cloud City, Chu Qingcheng must be hating my guts. It’s better this way. We are only allies, nothing more.]
A Demonic Emperor like him was better off casting such burdens off his shoulders as soon as possible.
Zhuo Fan’s eyes snapped into focus, vanishing from their sights as he increased his speed.
Chu Qingcheng watched him leave with clear anger on her face.
[He won’t even greet me?]
Xiao Dandan skipped over and said shyly, “Uh, sister Qingcheng, aren’t you perhaps too hard on darling?”
“What too hard? Nothing good comes out of working with a stone-cold man like him! And you, stop calling him darling left and right. He doesn’t deserve to be called that by any woman!” Chu Qingcheng turned her rage on her and glared.
Xiao Dandan jerked in fright. It was the first time she saw the proud Chu Qingcheng flaring like that.
Then, a chuckle came.
“Ning’er, you’ve been surrounded by an army of a thousand people, are you hurt anywhere?” Xie Tianyang showed his worry after having heard what happened to her.
Xue Ningxiang brushed his worry off, “I’m fine. Big brother Zhuo dropped by and saved us. He even ruined Lin Xuanfeng’s hand! With big brother Zhuo around, nothing can touch us!”
The rest of the newcomers nodded.
They wouldn’t soon forget how safe they were with Zhuo Fan around.
Xie Tianyang’s mood soured, “That prick is awesome and all, but rotten to the core. How can you stand it?”
“Big brother Zhuo is the picture of modesty! Although there are those he has to give a tongue lashing to, but he gets over his anger quite fast. We’ve all been having a wonderful time around him so far!” Xue Ningxiang blinked her delusion-filled eyes.
What was worse, the others nodded as well. They had been having such a nice stroll through Beast King Mountain over the days that even if they met a 6th level spiritual beast, they’d even point it out to their sons to observe. They were so carefree they turned oblivious to the dangers.
This would most likely be the only time they ever felt like this. Since the next time they’d come here and meet a spiritual beast, they’d end up as its dinner.
To sum it up, it was all by Zhuo Fan’s grace that they were so carefree.
Xie Tianyang saw the worship in their eyes, the glitter in Xue Ningxiang’s, and cursed inside, [Isn’t this all on you? With that punk’s lousy temper, he’d never waste time with this bunch.]
Luo Yunhai smiled, gratified Ning’er was there with them.
It only stoked Chu Qingcheng’s range though. [How can he smile to others but be so damn cold to me?]
Dong Tianba noticed and laughed dryly, “Edifice Lord Chu, I have something to say, but it may be inappropriate.”
“Get on with it!” Chu Qingcheng snapped.
Dong Tianba said awkwardly, “Edifice Lord Chu, you also know of my past dealings. Of wandering from flower to flower, leaving not even the leaves…” He trailed off.
Chu Qingcheng’s glare scared him back on track as he explained, “Edifice Lord Chu, don’t misunderstand, that is all in the past. Now I turned a new leaf, becoming a bastion of nobility and dignity.”
“Then why mention it?” Chu Qingcheng’s icy glare bore into Dong Tianba’s confidence.
Dong Tianba sweated in fear, “Edifice Lord Chu, I just want to say that I may not have achievements and I’m still ignorant in many aspects, but when it comes to romance, I am unrivaled! The way I see it, brother Zhuo may be swarmed by lilies, yet only three ever caught his eye. And he isn’t even aware of it!”
“Oh~?” Chu Qingcheng perked an eyebrow, “Go on.”
Wiping his brow, Dong Tianba said, “With my uncanny eyes, I noticed them being Luo Yunchang, Xue Ningxiang, and you, Edifice Lord Chu! Other women he never cared about, my sister, begrudgingly, included.”
“Why am I the last?” Chu Qingcheng’s mood shifted on the spot, blaming him.
Drifting Flowers Edifices sweated harder, [Ah, hell has no fury as a woman scorned…] A woman wasn’t even amenable to take this list of names if she wasn’t first. And Edifice Lord Chu was no ordinary woman either, but the leader of Drifting Flowers Edifices!
But he still smiled, “Edifice Lord Chu, t-this is unrelated to your place in his heart. He only has feelings for you three. Please don’t take it the wrong way.”
Raising an eyebrow, Chu Qingcheng nodded.
Swallowing dryly, Dong Tianba turned serious, “Brother Zhuo feels responsible for Luo clan’s miss, showing the consideration of a kin. As for having developed into something more, I’m unsure.”
Chu Qingcheng nodded. Zhuo Fan always carried himself with a cold and indifferent air, but he was always good to the Luo clan. He was indeed taking it upon himself when it came to the clan’s future.
Dong Tianba then glanced at the cheerful Xue Ningxiang, “As for young miss Xue, she is innocent and naive, a rarity in this world. Brother Zhuo sees her as his little sister, although hard to say if there’s anything more between them.”
Chu Qingcheng looked with a lost gaze as a smile crept her lips. She was such an innocent child that even women like her would pity the lass, not to mention some rotten men!
Dong Tianba then came to the crux of it all and said fearfully, “While Edifice Lord Chu is a woman of character, lofty and refined, deserving of the title Ascending Ice Phoenix. But brother Zhuo thinks of you as…”
“What?” Chu Qingcheng asked impatiently.
Dong Tianba gnashed his teeth, “Henpecking him!”
Chu Qingcheng blushed and a sweet and gooey/sappy happiness infected her heart.
[Isn’t that being whipped, under the wife’s thumb?]
[That makes me the closest among the three in his heart…]