Huangpu Qingtian and Lin Xuanfeng were leading their men to the earth exit when they spotted a light trailing the sky.
A figure landed with a boom and Huangpu Qingtian frowned, “Liu Yizhen, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to stick to Zhuo Fan! Don’t tell me…”
Bitter, Liu Yizhen bowed, “Eldest young master, I was exposed.”
“What? Then how are you still alive?” Huangpu Qingtian’s brow pursed, his suspicion raised, “A vile and insidious man like Zhuo Fan actually let go of not just Cai Xiaoting but you as well? He just discovered and released two spies. What the hell is going on in that mind of his?”
Sighing, Liu Yizhen’s heart went cold. He could tell the two held no hopes for his return. They had thrown him away from the start.
Who told him to climb aboard? He had no choice now but to go with them…
Taking a deep breath, Liu Yizhen bowed, “Eldest young master, Zhuo Fan sent word for you.”
“Speak.” Huangpu Qingtian’s eyes were grave.
Liu Yizhen mulled for a bit before, “Zhuo Fan said your schemes are as clear as day and should not bother yourself with them.”
“That’s it? With his temper, that doesn’t sound like him.” Huangpu Qingtian mocked.
Bowing again, Liu Yizhen continued, “Eldest young master is right. But as his true words are crass and rude, unfitting for the eldest young master’s ears, I altered their wording. The meaning is the same.”
“Ha-ha-ha, are you afraid I’ll take my anger out on you?” Huangpu Qingtian read him like a book, “It’s fine anyway. I don’t feel like listening either. It’s ironic how he thinks himself all-knowing, surrounded as he is by a thick fog he can’t even see.”
The two next to him were clueless, but Huangpu Qingtian’s overconfidence deterred any questions.
Then Liu Yizhen turned nervous, bowing again, “Eldest young master, Zhuo Fan has one more thing to say.”
“I don’t want to hear it. It must be some pointless boasting, trying to throw me off my game. Let him sink into his delusions!” Huangpu Qingtian brushed him off.
Liu Yizhen cupped his hands, “Eldest young master, Zhuo Fan does intend to shame eldest young master, but I have to make this report.”
“Eh?” Huangpu Qingtian turned grave, “Speak.”
“Eldest young master, the fourth Brimming Sacred Pill you are using to entice him has long since been in his hands. He was mocking you saying how ignorant you were of it all…”
“What?” Lin Xuanfeng cut in, “Impossible, eldest young master had the fourth pill placed in my care from the start. How can it be with him?”
“Young master Lin, I didn’t believe it either, but then he showed me four vials. I had never seen them the entire time I was with his group. He also said that you all know what he can do…” Liu Yizhen trailed off…
Huangpu Qingtian squinted, the seed of doubt planted. Lin Xuanfeng was panicking, “Did he steal it with that weird art of his?”
Lin Xuanfeng’s hand flashed with the Brimming Sacred Pill vial.
Lin Xuanfeng only then eased a breath, “Ha-ha-ha, the punk is messing with us. We still have it!”
Huangpu Qingtian was too deep in thought to care. Then his face changed, “Fool, don’t take it out!”
Lin Xuanfeng froze for a second, enough time for the vial to vanish.
“Z-Zhuo Fan!” Lin Xuanfeng stammered.
Not far off, Zhuo Fan’s cackle came from among the trees, “Ha-ha-ha, thanks a bunch, young master Huangpu. I shall accept your generosity!”
Lin Xuanfeng blinked, still frozen on the spot. Liu Yizhen was still out of it from shock, [Zhuo Fan has been behind me all this time?]
Huangpu Qingtian held his head and sighed, “Morons, the lot of you. This was the plan to draw out Zhuo Fan and he had no idea where I hid the Brimming Sacred Pill. Then you guys just handed it over on a silver platter. What were you expecting?”
Lin Xuanfeng’s eyes widened and threw his rage on Liu Yizhen, “Traitor! You now collude with Zhuo Fan? I’ll kill you!”
“Young master Lin, I-I am just the messenger. I don’t know anything!”
Liu Yizhen was scared out of his mind. He was under the false impression that Zhuo Fan sent him on a mere errand to make Huangpu Qingtian look bad with his message. Who even conceived it possible that there was a scheme involved? The worst part was that he made the old man a scapegoat.
With the two before him pissed, since they couldn’t grab Zhuo Fan, who else were they going to take their anger out on? Not even washing in the Underworld River would absolve him!
He began as a spy for Huangpu Qingtian’s faction, only to end up dying at his hands. He was dubbed a double agent no one would take pity on. Quite fitting for a spy, and ironic.
He had now witnessed Zhuo Fan’s capacity for savagery and cruelty. There was no getting out scot-free from him. With the double agent blame smacked on his shoulders, the insidiousness of the ploy finally dawned on him.
Huangpu Qingtian signaled Lin Xuanfeng, “Stop, it’s not his fault. He was also used.”
“Eldest young master is brilliant!” Liu Yizhen bowed and wiped his brow.
Huangpu Qingtian gave him no attention and turned to the forest, “Since you came, why don’t you come over for a talk?”
“Ha-ha-ha, what’s there to talk about? But since you insist, I’ll meet you. I want to see with my own eyes the scowling and miserable face of a loser!” Zhuo Fan walked from among the trees with a smile.
The rest of the men there paled and tensed. Soaring Demonic Dragon was just as notorious as Huangpu Qingtian.
“Your men… sure look terrified of me.” Zhuo Fan mocked.
Huangpu Qingtian smiled coldly, not angered at all, “Zhuo Fan, there’s a saying which fits you perfectly right now. Stop showing off or you’ll be struck down by lightning.”
“Ha-ha-ha, I’ve been doing it since I was born but no lightning has touched me so far. Though it makes me wonder, what would it feel like? It must be quite the thrill!” Zhuo Fan laughed.
Shaking his head, Huangpu Qingtian grinned, “You will soon find out.”
Squinting, Zhuo Fan stared into Huangpu Qingtian’s eyes with unease.
“By the way, Zhuo Fan, the vial you used to fool the old man must be the one you found at some point but never took it out. So when old Liu saw four vials, he jumped to conclusions. He would never dare lie to me otherwise.” Huangpu Qingtian’s lips twisted into a smile.
Zhuo Fan rose an eyebrow, “Look at you, Young master Huangpu. You’re not as dumb as other muscle brain fools around you.”
“Ha-ha-ha, I am destined to be king. How can I be a fool? But to be entirely honest, it’s not easy to see through it in an instant. I realized the truth because of something that is happening right now.”
Huangpu Qingtian snickered, “Zhuo Fan, don’t you have the two keys for the water exit yet keep them to yourself? “
Zhuo Fan cried out, “H-how did you… don’t tell me…”
“Correct. I sent my men to place them on your way when you were with Luo Yunhai’s group. I didn’t doubt for a second you’ll miss them. So when Liu Yizhen reported you not mentioning them when you met up with Chu Qingcheng, it made me realize you were planning on using them when it mattered most. You once said we’re both the same, that we won’t show our hands so easily. Ha-ha-ha, a shame I already know of two of your cards! “
Shuddering, Zhuo Fan showed fear for the first time. His mind put two and two together and his brow was soaked.
Huangpu Qingtian’s heart burst with joy at his expense, “Sir Leng said the pinnacle of the art of war is to make the most of a situation. Not just get the enemy to fall for your traps, but to control their every move, to guide them where you wanted. Zhuo Fan, from the moment you met with Luo Yunhai, your actions, your objectives, have all gone according to my plan!
“Including those fights we had. Although your fancy art gives me headaches, letting you win every time was all part of my plan. All so you would become the de-facto leader of the alliance. It was the best way to insure you will follow the road to hell I painstakingly paved for you. What, don’t tell me you haven’t wondered how smooth your journey has been so far.
“You really think highly of yourself, able to face thousands of men and save everyone from the jaws of death? Humph, you lost, all because of your arrogance. Case in point, the Killing Blood Marsh skirmish. Did you ever think about why I didn’t unleash all my power? You thought I was too cocky, thinking I had you all like fish in a barrel so I was going to take pleasure in toying with you? Ha-ha-ha, I threw the match….”
Zhuo Fan shivered, recoiling three steps then shooting into the air after the three teams.
[I have completely lost…]
Zhuo Fan shouted in his mind, never had he been so out of control as he was now. Huangpu Qingtian’s side was having a blast however, cackling arrogantly.
Zhuo Fan was finally beaten back…