1 – Perhaps the matter is of a rather sensitive nature?
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As a cultivator, and as the Peak Lord in charge of trade and logistics at the Windward Sect situated on the Green Jade Peaks, Jiao Ziyu had a whole lot of responsibilities.

However, it could’ve certainly been argued that Jiao Ziyu should never really have been left in charge of anything, and especially not trade and logistics. However, after the disappearance of his predecessor, Jiao Zilei, there had been no other viable candidates and as such, the job had fallen to Jiao Ziyu.

That being said, Jiao Ziyu was not incompetent, because much like his predecessor, he could do a great job when properly motivated – but keeping up an adequate level of motivation was not always easy. Fortunately, there were ways of handling that however – and much like his predecessor had once done to him, Jiao Ziyu had turned over most of the administrative duties to his two top disciples, wishing them good luck before descending into the mortal realm for a long overdue vacation.

 The other Peak Lords largely let him be however, because leaving a significant portion of their administrative duties to some trusted disciples was something that many of them also did. Besides, while some of them might have considered Peak Lord Jiao to be a bit troublesome to deal with, he was not the sort to actively cause trouble for the sect – not while away from it, at least.

Because what Jiao Ziyu did while away from the sect was not to cause trouble – no, no, it was quite the opposite, really. Slacking off was by no means the only thing he did either – he did plenty of work actually, and a decent portion of it was the sort that could not be done while at the Green Jade Peaks. Besides, as far as the Green Jade Peaks went, the Windward Sect’s headquarters was sadly lacking in decent cuisine and entertainment beyond the usual finer arts, and Jiao Ziyu occasionally required a sort of stimulation that was a bit more intense. And fortunately for him, he knew just the places to find it.

Unfortunately for him though, someone else had decided to find him, rudely cutting into Jiao Ziyu’s serious enjoyment of the night’s dance performance. He had seen them coming though, because in that sea of red and more muted colour, the jade-green robes of the Windward Sect stood out like a sore thumb. And then there were the jade crowns, the long flowing black hair, the cold yet subtly disgusted expressions and the cold steel strapped to their backs; no subtlety whatsoever, honestly.

However, the fact that they had not just sought him out but actually stepped foot inside a brothel to speak to him indicated that whatever business they had with him, it was probably urgent.

Of course, Jiao Ziyu wished the lot would have had the decency to wait outside and instead send a messenger talisman in through the window or something. Because as the one responsible for running the Windward Sect’s secret spy network, Jiao Ziyu did not need to attract this sort of attention. But what did these sword-swinging simpletons know about a secret spymaster’s woes? Nothing, that’s what.

“Esteemed cultivators, have you come here to enjoy the show?” he asked, relishing in the looks of disgust this earned him.

“Could we have this conversation at some alternate venue?” asked Peak Lord Cheng.

It was not really a question. Jiao Ziyu had no real obligation to obey though, because he too was a Peak Lord. Granted, while they might have been equal in theory, in practice, they were as far apart in standing as the grass and the treetops. Of course, that was disregarding Jiao Ziyu’s position as a spymaster – which was not something that he was allowed to flaunt at all, despite occasionally very much wanting to do so.

Instead, Jiao Ziyu got up and smiled, bowing despite not really needing to. “Then lead the way, esteemed cultivators.”

With any luck, no one important would have witnessed the exchange, and any that had would either dismiss it as unimportant or keep it to themselves. Because if not, then a whole lot of hard work might just have gone to waste.

Mulling this over, Jiao Ziyu followed his fellow Peak Lord and said Peak Lord’s small entourage to a slightly more secluded location. Additional privacy wards – courtesy of Jiao Ziyu – ensured that the ensuing conversation would not be overheard.

“So,” Jiao Ziyu said, turning his attention back to Peak Lord Cheng. “How might this humble one be of assistance?”

“Martial Brother Jiao,” said the other. “Sect Leader Yeguang has requested your immediate return.”

Immediate return?

“If so, then why not send a messenger talisman to me directly?” Jiao Ziyu asked, because while he did occasionally ignore such things when they were from the other Peak Lords, he almost always opened the ones sent by the esteemed Sect Leader – ignoring them had proven to have noticeable consequences in the past after all.

Then, for a brief moment, Peak Lord Cheng simply looked at him, expression unreadable. Then he finally said: “Perhaps the matter is of a rather sensitive nature?”