~ The Li Residence ~
Li You Ran was alone inside his room. A small portrait hung in front.
The person in the picture had bright eyes and white teeth. As it so happened, it was a portrait of a smiling Princess Ling Meng. Li You Ran was worthy of being called a genius amongst members of his generation in the Tian Xiang Empire. He had drawn that lifelike image of Princess Ling Meng on his own. He had based it on that profound image of hers which he had stored in his mind.
However, Li You Ran's eyes were shrouded with pain… [The operation must have begun… presumably…]
[Ling Meng… ]
Li You Ran looked up, and then resolutely closed his eyes. Suddenly, a yell arrived on his lips… it had come from the bottom of his heart. The sound was similar to the howl of an injured beast that neared its death; it sounded coa.r.s.e and sad. He then ferociously started to punch the wall with his fist in anguish.
These powerful fists collided with the wall. His fists were soon covered with blood, which started to drip to the ground.
It seemed like Li You Ran hadn't slept much; in fact, he looked distracted. His face was expressionless as he closed his eyes, and a drop of tear noiselessly fell down from each of his eyes…
[I'm sorry! My beloved! ]
[ …to increase my influence and gain the favor of my master's men… I had to sacrifice you…! I had no other choice… ]
Jun Mo Xie and Jun Wu Yi were slowly moving away from the Aristocratic Hall. They had repeatedly reminded Tang Yuan to purchase the discussed herbs and to store such purchases properly in an appropriate place. They seemed satisfied and hence finished-up with their busy day, and started to travel towards their home.
Taking into account that day's matter — it went satisfactorily overall... except for a few unexpected incidents. The prices during the auction of the extraordinary wine had reached a point that even Jun Mo Xie hadn't dreamt of. One could say that they were returning home from a rewarding endeavor.
The Third Prince had used his powerful position to force a misdeed at the end of the event. However, it couldn't be considered to be a bad turn of events since the Young Master Jun had taken advantage of this incident, and had successfully planted a seed in the immature and spirited mind of Little Yang Mo. He could use this in the future to perhaps incite, or eliminate many targets.
And coming back to the original topic again… the final batch of those hundred wine bottles was under the Prince Equivalent's name. Therefore, they were a part of the Prince Equivalent's stock. So it would seem that the Jun Family and the Aristocratic Hall had no direct relations.h.i.+p to it. Even though such a thought process would seem a bit shameless — but this fact would hold true regardless...
The Princes didn't treat the Prince Equivalent's side as one of their own. However, it was unlikely that Jun Mo Xie would take a step to help them out. Because it… wouldn't be worth it!
Jun Mo Xie wasn't a man of vile character who always sought after profits. However, he never pursued matters which didn't gain him anything. This was a hit-man's code of conduct. And this was how Jun Mo Xie conducted himself — in his previous life, and in this one.
[Heroes… I'll leave that role for others. I'll just do what I do… what my heart desires… what I love. I decide what I love; I decide what I do — no one in this F**king world shall control me!]
Absolute freedom! This was Jun Mo Xie's biggest goal; the main pursuit of his life.
Jun Mo Xie had once said before the Aristocratic Hall's opening, "I'll take the Aristocratic Hall to a stage where one day of its sales will be enough to sustain a Family for three years' time!" However, hadn't the day's achievements crossed the goal? Perhaps a Family could sit and eat in leisure for an entire lifetime with so much money…
Hai Chen Feng — the man now known as 'Gang Leader Hai' — wasn't able to obtain a single bottle of that extraordinary wine. However, Jun Mo Xie sent him a gratuitous present of fifty wine bottles from the batch under his own name; such treatment was a-must for the people on his side.
"I bid one million taels"… the Sky Xuan 'customer' had raised this trademark bid several times. Hence, he merrily received the fifty bottles and returned to his lair. He would certainly announce that he had obtained them during the auction since he was an 'Aristocrat'…
Jun Mo Xie was riding a horse, while Jun Wu Yi was on his palanquin. The Uncle and the Nephew had their hands tucked in their sleeves. Their mood was cheerful yet serious. Each was thinking about their future plans, and the arrangements of manpower that were necessary for their schemes. Both of them were individually making their calculations on the road back home. Surprisingly, neither spoke to the other about it.
The uncle-nephew-duo was aware that the upcoming operation would be a very tough one. However, they couldn't lose; it was a-must that they win. They needed to win — but they needed to win beautifully. They needed their victory to be flawless.
However, the enemy trumped them in terms of strength.
[How shall this next round be fought?]
The stories of the weak defeating the strong have been told since ancient times. However, they not only had to use the weak to defeat the strong, but they had to win their battle without incurring any damage. And this feat would be extremely difficult since this was reality… not a fantasy story.
This small party from the Jun Family hadn't travelled far, when suddenly; Jun Mo Xie saw a shadow in the distance. This shadow shot towards him like electricity. He hadn't even recognized it properly, but the tiny white shadow had already embraced his chest. It called out in urgency as it groaned and squeaked. Its claws tugged at Jun Mo Xie incessantly; its dripping-wet eyes were full of anxiety.
"What happened?" Jun Mo Xie quickly noticed the strip of light-green cloth tied to one of Little White's hind legs. He distinctly remembered Dugu Xiao Yi's appearance before she had left; she was wearing light-green clothes. And now a strip of the same light-green cloth was tied to Little White's leg. Moreover — it was stained in blood.
[Dugu Xiao Yi is in trouble!]
Jun Mo Xie suddenly became tense. He felt as if his heart had suddenly been seized by something. His usually steady aura was now in chaos. Dugu Xiao Yi's lovable, pretty… mischievous, yet flowery smile appeared in front of his eyes…
[When did I start to care so much about this girl?]
Jun Mo Xie didn't have any time to think about this. There was only one thing on his mind; [I must save her!]
"Third Uncle, Dugu Xiao Yi is in trouble; I need to check-up on her!" Jun Mo Xie pressed his legs onto the sides of his strong horse, and it 'neighed' loudly in response. Its front hooves rose up in the air as it stood up on its hind legs. They hadn't even touched down as its back hooves took a step ahead. Then, he leapt-up and shot-away like an arrow. The crazy hoof beats rolled and echoed like thunder as Jun Mo Xie followed Little White's swift shadow, and went-off at a great speed.
A wind whistled as the horse turned the corner of the street — it was almost as if a black cloud had descended upon Jun Mo Xie's horseback. However, it seemed like this new arrival was weightless. In fact, the strong horse subconsciously went a little faster in its state of mad rush.
That man was Jun Wu Yi!
This bloodied war general's face was filled with an air of cold murderous aura.
Jun Mo Xie regarded Dugu Xiao Yi with affection. How could an experienced man like Jun Wu Yi not see it? To him — Dugu Xiao Yi was as good as his nephew's wife; how could he allow anyone to trouble her?
He wouldn't permit anyone to harm a single hair on her body.
Such was the Jun Family's mindset. It was such in Guan Qing Han's case. And it was the same for this little girl.
Jun Wu Yi wouldn't allow the tragedy that had plagued his life to occur again. If he thought it necessary — he would destroy everything in order to protect his nephew's wife.
So, would Jun Wu Yi be willing to sit through this matter after hearing about it?
The strong horse neighed wildly as it galloped like a mad beast. It seemed as if the doubly astride horse had lost its mind. It turned one corner after another and disappeared into the distance.
It only left behind some windblown dust, which quickly dissipated in the autumn wind.
Dugu Xiao Yi and Sun Xiao Mei had carried the same idea: Send Little White to the Dugu Family in order to arrange a rescue squad. Only the experts from the Dugu Family could be expected to have a chance against such a threat. Any other reinforcements might turn out to be useless since they may not have the capability to face five such high levelled Sky Xuan experts.
Though in consensus… their idea was naïve… Moreover, Little White was immature, and couldn't understand their words clearly. However, he understood that his master was in serious danger. And he understood that his master had sent him away to seek reinforcements.
But, who was he likely to seek out?
Naturally, he'd seek out the most powerful rescue squad he could think of…
Little White was quite intelligent. However, there were only two people in this world he was close to. One was naturally its master — Dugu Xiao Yi. And the other was that 'good man' who was also the strongest person in Little White's mind — Jun Mo Xie!
This person had helped it upgrade its level in childhood itself; so wasn't he already the strongest? So, who else would he seek out for to help when his master was in danger and needed reinforcements?
Therefore, Little White set to the task of finding Jun Mo Xie. Anyway, he didn't wish to go to the Dugu Family to look for help. [How could those uncouth long beards be useful? How could they compare to that 'Great Man'?] Little White had looked down upon them.
But then again… if he had gone to the Dugu Family for help… any experts they might have sent may have been too late to arrive. Therefore, Little White had made the correct decision in its state of inadvertent ignorance.
Little White couldn't speak. Therefore, his attempt would've gone in vain in case he had actually decided to go to the Dugu Family's residence. They would've surely sent their soldiers if they had judged Dugu Xiao Yi to be in danger. However, it wasn't necessary that the line-up they'd arrange would be able to help against those five Sky Xuan Masters. Wouldn't those men have fallen short of the task then?
The sword had fallen. The Xuan Qi which had been condensed in his palm had also been ferociously shot.
Ye Gu Han was continuously getting besieged by his enemies from all sides. He would've quickly retreated if it weren't for Ling Meng's safety; it wouldn't have been very difficult either. He would've been able to retreat if he were to use his remaining strength. He could've then used his skills to fly far away very quickly. He would most probably suffer injuries… but a shot an escape would've been possible.
However, Princess Ling Meng hadn't escaped far enough. Therefore, these five powerful Sky Xuan experts would undoubtedly capture her if he decided to retreat at this time. He didn't know why they wished to capture her. All he knew was that he would rather die than let them get their hands on his precious Ling Meng.
He wasn't acting out of character; he was acting out of necessity.
[I know I will probably die. But I will still fight with everything I have.]
[It is either life or death; what do I have to fear?!]
Ye Gu Han stood straight like a mountain; a sword suddenly appeared beside his body. It curved towards him as he dodged it. But then it retreated as another sword approached him. Then, another sword appeared with a gleaming blue light, and took the shape of the s.h.i.+ny sabre which was ready to pierce its enemy.
A sword pierced Ye Gu Han's lower-left abdomen. Another two swords skimmed his entire body; they tore his clothes and his skin to shreds. It was followed by a fountain of blood gus.h.i.+ng out. Two meaty palms carrying attacks as powerful as thunderbolts bombarded Ye Gu Han's chest.
"Snap! Snap!" a teeth grinding sound echoed as the brittle ribs in Ye Gu Han's chest gave away. All seven orifices in his body suddenly overflew with blood.
However, Ye Gu Han suddenly seemed to have a somewhat elated expression on his face. He had a tender smile… or perhaps a nasty one… but it looked extremely bitter on his bloodied face.