“An Elder has returned to the pavilion!”
“It’s Elder Chu’s men!”
During the afternoon, just when Qin Lie and Liu Yan had both exited the cultivation area, they immediately heard yells coming from the direction of Nebula Pavilion’s southern door.
For the past year, as the war between the martial practitioners and spirit beasts escalated, more and more martial practitioners inside Nebula Pavilion had been sent out to battle.
Every time a team returned, the guards at the front door would shout loudly and welcome the triumphant returnees to give them a warm reception.
“Let’s go and take a look.” Liu Yan gave a light smile. “I’ve recently heard news that we are slowly gaining the advantage at the Arctic Mountain Range. Elder Chu Yan should’ve acquired quite the number of spirit beast spoils during this trip.”
Qin Lie had rested for two days in preparation for the inscription of the compound spirit diagram for the “Terminator Profound Bomb” the day after tomorrow. Currently he was relaxing, so after hearing Liu Yan’s words, he nodded and headed towards the door with him.
The warm welcomes and yells suddenly stopped.
When Qin Lie and Liu Yan’s people were about halfway through, they could no longer hear any voices coming from the front door, and it was as if every man had suddenly turned into a mute.
“Something’s wrong.” Liu Yan frowned as his expression darkened.
“What’s going on?” asked Qin Lie in surprise.
“Normally, only returnees who have suffered terrible losses would incur such a… heavy atmosphere.” A bad feeling was already blooming in Liu Yan’s heart. “It is likely that Elder Chu’s situation isn’t too good.”
Qin Lie said nothing in response.
A few minutes later, both Qin Lie, Liu Yan, and a lot of other people who had heard the news arrived together at Nebula Pavilion’s southern entrance.
It took only a single glance from faraway for Qin Lie to feel his expression change as he said in a low voice, “Brother Liu, you indeed guessed correctly.”
At the front door, all of Chu Yan’s subordinates wore dark complexions on their faces, and there was no light in their eyes as well. A lot of them were either missing an arm or a leg, and nearly every one of them had incurred severe injuries.
Chu Yan and Tu Ze, Zhuo Qian and the others were at the back of the line. They all wore gloomy expressions as if they had suffered some kind of terrible blow.
Especially Chu Peng. It seemed that he had cried his entire way back home, and even his eyes were swollen red.
His expression was terribly numb. He walked, puppet-like, with Tu Ze and Zhuo Qian, bowing his head while appearing to be completely lifeless.
At this moment, all of the gathered Nebula Pavilion martial practitioners and the guards at the front door had gone silent.
Everyone could see that the losses sustained during this expedition were absolutely terrible. It stopped their cheers, and they were unable to say even a single welcoming word.
The atmosphere at the door was absolutely oppressive.
“The number of people who came back did not even reach a tenth of their original number. Elder Chu’s losses are absolutely terrifying.” After watching for a while, a person sighed softly.
“Why haven’t we seen Elder Chu Yan?” Some people said doubtfully.
The moment the words fell out, everyone could not help but consider a possibility: He can’t have passed away, can he?
Soon, the crowd grew even more quiet. Their expressions were ugly, and a cold chill spawned from the bottom of their hearts.
“Pavilion Master! Pavilion Master!”
Suddenly, the crowd cried out one after another.
The Pavilion Master of Nebula Pavilion, Tu Mo, and Han Qingrui emerged from the crowd. They all wore heavy expressions as they walked over and looked at Chu Yan’s remaining forces. Tu Mo asked, “Where is Elder Chu Yan?”
“He was killed in action.” Chu Yan’s subordinate, Hall Master Wu Chong suddenly lifted his head with eyes filled with the color of blood. “Please uphold justice for Elder Chu, Pavilion Master!”
“Please uphold justice for Elder Chu, Pavilion Master!” Chu Peng suddenly knelt on the floor and kowtowed towards Tu Mo. He was completely red, and he bit down on his teeth so hard that there were crunching sounds. “It is Liu Yuntao and Du Haitian who have murdered my father! Please avenge my father, Pavilion Master!”
“What kind of bullshit are you spouting! What does your father’s death have to do with my father?” Liu Ting, Wei Li, Du Heng, and a few others were also observing from the crowd, and it was this moment when she screamed out, pointed at Chu Peng, and scolded, “Our father and Elder Du have also contributed their efforts for the pavilion and fought desperately against the spirit beasts. On what basis are you slandering my father?”
“If it wasn’t for your bastard father and Du Haitian coming up with such an evil scheme, my father would definitely not have died!” Chu Peng rose from the ground, and with a face filled with madness, rushed towards Liu Ting.
“Chu Peng, stop!” Tu Ze and Zhuo Qian quickly rushed forward and stopped him by grabbing his shoulder on each side.
“Enough!” Tu Mo yelled angrily before asking, “Wu Chong! What exactly happened?”
“To deal with the spirit beast horde, without telling anyone beforehand, Liu Yuntao and Du Haitian had arranged for us to become bait and attract the spirit beast horde into a valley. We were surrounded by three hundred Rank One spirit beasts, sixty Rank Two spirit beasts, and five Rank Three spirit beasts within the valley…”
Wu Chong kept his head lowered; the expression on his face was fierce and terrible. “As a result Elder Chu Yan was killed straight away, and almost all of us were eliminated as well. As for them, they had joined the people from Dark Asura Hall to prepare an ambush on the valley’s cliffs and used rolling rocks, fire, and ice to blast the spirit beasts inside the valley. The spirit beast horde that we had baited was almost completely exterminated, but we and those people who were in the valley with us were had pretty much died off completely as well.”
Abruptly, he lifted his head and looked towards Liu Ting, and after sucking in a deep breath, he harshly said, “Why didn’t your father and Elder Du Haitian become the bait in the valley? If they had at least explained matters earlier, we would at least be mentally prepared beforehand and may not necessarily have suffered so many losses!”
Liu Ting was shaken by his aura as she took a step backwards and stammered, “There will always be sacrifices in battle. At least, at least my father and them had succeeded and eliminated so many spirit beasts. This is their victory; a huge victory!”
“Correct, it is a huge victory! Both your father and Du Haitian had said so, and even the people from Dark Asura Hall said the same.” Wu Chong smiled tragically. “To use your own family as fodder and send all of us to our deaths in exchange for his huge victory. It truly is an impressive ploy! Not only did he impress the First Hall Master of Dark Asura Hall, even the people from Seven Fiends Valley and Dark Shadow Tower praised him for acquiring a great victory for such a small cost; they praised that his methods were amazing! But what about us? All of our people are dead, and Elder Chu was tore to pieces by the Blue-eyed Toad right before our very eyes!”
Wu Chong’s expression was fierce and mournful. “They all died. One after another, they died before my eyes. Many of their corpses are incomplete because they were all torn apart and eaten by the spirit beasts! Even Elder Chu did not leave behind a full corpse!”
“Let go of me! LET GO OF ME!” Chu Peng howled madly as his eyes were glued onto Liu Ting, looking like he was reading to stake his life at any moment.
Tu Ze and Zhuo Qian had to use all of their strength to keep him down.
All the Nebula Pavilion martial practitioners gathered in front of the entrance wore a heavy expression and kept quiet without lending an opinion when they listened up to this point.
Liu Ting, Wei Li, Du Heng, and the others realized that the crowd around them was looking at them with unfriendly eyes, so they did not choose to stay behind and instead quietly slipped away.
“Tu Ze, please closely watch over Chu Peng for me. The rest of the injured will get themselves treated immediately.” With a frown, Tu Mo quietly yelled out, “Wu Chong, come with me. I need to know more about this in detail.”
Tu Mo nodded once towards Han Qingrui, and the duo headed together into the great hall he used to discuss matters. Wu Chong followed behind them.
When they saw Han Qingrui and him leaving first, the rest of the crowd also gradually went away. However, everyone’s expressions were dark, and the matter had left a mark in their hearts.
“Chu Peng, you have my deepest condolences,” consoled Qin Lie after he walked forward and let out a sigh.
Chu Peng had his head lowered. Like a trapped beast, his expression was ugly and terrible, and his emotions were also still in an incredibly unstable state.
Tu Ze and Zho Qian looked at Qin Lie. Their gazes were a little off, and they look like they wanted to say something but were hesitant about it.
“Is there anything you can’t tell me?” Qin Lie frowned.
After giving the thought a moment, Tu Ze gritted his teeth and said, “Brother, you shouldn’t have any good feelings about Ling Family, do you?”
“What do you mean?” Qin Lie asked uncertainly.
“You’re going to find out really soon anyway, so I won’t hide this from you. Those Ling Family clansmen… also had entered the valley with Elder Chu Yan as bait.” With a dark expression Tu Ze added, “Almost all of them are dead.”
Qin Lie paled.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t help. We were with Elder Kang Hui and Ye Yangqiu, so we knew nothing about this matter,” Tu Ze apologized.
“Liu Yuntao, Du Haitian, and Wei Xing had hid their cards too well. No one would have guessed that they could be this ruthless. By the time we heard of the news, it had already happened.” Zhuo Qian sighed quietly and slapped Qin Lie’s shoulders. “You too… should watch out.”
“Has the Ling Family received the news?” Qin Lie’s expression was livid, and his eyes were filled with murderous intent. “Those people from the Ling Family who went, are they really all dead?”
“The Ling Family should already know” Zhuo Qian answered.
Qin Lie nodded his head. Imbued with horrific killing intent, he went straight out of Nebula Pavilion.
“Ling Ying, Ling Xin, Ling Xiao…”
One by one their young faces flashed through his mind. Scene after scene where they had fought shoulder to shoulder were drawn out of the depths of his memories.
He could still remember the day before he left Ling Town. During his saddest moments, they had carried with them a jug of liquor and drank with him for the entire night, had accompanied him to scream and yell, and cried and laughed with him like a madman.
“Did you all leave just like that…”
He whispered to himself along the way; his expression chillingly dark to the extreme, and just like Chu Peng, he was on the verge of losing control.
When he arrived at the courtyard the Ling Family was occupying, before he even went in, he could already hear the entire house filled with mourning cries.
The families of Ling Xin, Ling Xiao, and the others were all weeping tearfully in the courtyard. Even Ling Chengzhi sat blankly under a wooden pole, looking like he had lost his soul as he muttered again and again, “Big brother. Oh, big brother. Big brother…”
Ling Feng, the only one who hadn’t left the city, consoled repeatedly beside Ling Xin, Ling Xiao, and the others’ parents with red eyes, “Auntie, Uncle, from today onwards I, Ling Feng shall become your son! I, Ling Feng, swear that as long as I have a breath left in this body, I will definitely avenge them in the future!”
An atmosphere of pain and sadness pervaded the courtyard. The Ling Family clansmen were either silent or crying and cursing aloud.
Qin Lie stood at the front entrance, watching the crying Ling Family clansmen, watching Ling Feng swearing and gritting his teeth, watching the soulless Ling Chengzhi…
He suddenly thought of the two sisters, Ling Yushi and Ling Xuanxuan.
If the two sisters learned that their father had died horribly, learned that their childhood friends that had grown up with them were all dead, could they accept it?
“Qin Lie!” Ling Chengzhi suddenly found him. With an ugly expression, he rushed over and grabbed his shoulders with both arms; then, with a slightly hysterical voice, he yelled out, “Can you send a message to Dark Fiend Valley through Nebula Pavilion and tell the truth behind my brother’s death to them?!”
Qin Lie could feel Ling Chengzhi’s strength on his shoulders, could taste the terrible grief inside his heart, but he could only shake his head indifferently.
“I have no way of sending a message to Dark Fiend Valley. You should understand that communication will only be convenient when the high level forces are sending a message to their vassals. The opposite will be filled with obstacles. Not to mention that Nebula Pavilion isn’t even a vassal to Dark Fiend Valley, so even I do not have a way to contact them.”
After a pause, he said again, “And what can they do even if they knew? Liu Yuntao and Du Haitian had plotted and killed many spirit beasts. Although they have sacrificed a lot of people, they were instead praised unanimously by Seven Fiends Valley, Dark Asura Hall, and Dark Shadow Tower. Setting them aside, not even Granny Jiu can say anything about this situation. Even if we did tell them, what can they change?”
The moment the words landed, Ling Chengzhi, Ling Feng, and the Ling Family clansmen all paled. It was as if their hopes for revenge had been extinguished by him in an instant.