“Impossible. Don’t take your bracelet off again while I’m gone.”
“I won’t do that again”, the young man guiltily whispered and sank lower in his seat. “Promise.”
“Good. Don’t go seeking trouble for those few days.” The white-haired man nervously looked back down at the map. He still did not like the thought of leaving Xie Yi alone.
His determined tone managed to calm Shi Yue a bit. If Xie Yi said he wouldn’t seek trouble, then he wouldn’t. That was one worry off his shoulder. Nothing had ever happened during the times he had gone out because of the raids.
Yet, no matter how obedient Xie Yi wanted to be - if he didn’t come looking for trouble, then it would, without a doubt, come looking for him.
Shi Yue felt the shudder of uncertainty run down his spine as he left his house, but a glance at the serene Ying Hua calmed him down again. She was right in her words, and besides, it was only a few days.
And it was also the first time that the Demonic Sect had ever used something as effortful as a raid solely for distraction.
Xie Xi was bored out of his mind with the current situation.
Xu Yan was out for gathering materials, accompanied by Sheng Mu. Li Mei only had a bit of time for him every day. Shi Yue was out for a mission, Mingtian was going to find Nie, and Xue Hua and child were sleeping.
A few hours of the day were great, the rest was a pain. He still wasn’t allowed for hunting at random and the current situation was worse than the previous four months.
“Alright, where’s that guy”, Xie Yi sighed, deciding he might as well check up on Xiang Zhe. At least once a day could he do that.
However, Xiang Zhe wasn’t anywhere on the high grounds. Neither was he in the canteen, or the dorms.
“Hey”, Xie Yi stopped a random disciple, who flinched and put a hurried, nervous smile on. “Have you seen Xiang Zhe?”
“Ah, the, the disciple with the blue robes? I think I just saw him right out of the grounds. Near the stream to the east.” The disciple wrung his hands, uncertain at Xie Yi’s dark face and exhaling in relief when he was let go.
“What’s he doing there”, Xie Yi mumbled to himself. The stream was well on the sect’s territory, only five minutes away from the wall, but Xiang Zhe didn’t like leaving beyond the wall even for such a small distance.
It sounded suspicious enough that Xie Yi did not hesitate to jump over the wall under the resigned looks of some patrolling guards.
There was a lot of “stream” where he could actually be, so Xie Yi tried looking downstream. Maybe Xiang Zhe was looking for some of the herbs that grew around the puddles that formed a bit farther down?
“Xiang Zhe!” He shouted, running down with a deep frown on his face. “Xiang Zhe, goddamnit!”
No one answered him.
With the feeling that something bad had happened growing larger, Xie Yi determinedly shut up and softened his steps while lowering his body.
If he was unlucky and going in the wrong direction, he wouldn’t find Xiang Zhe, but according to the disciple he shouldn’t be overly far yet.
Xie Yi lamented Mingtian being out. A common spiritual beast wouldn’t be able to trace a cultivator easily, but his brother was a different type! His nose would be more than useful right now.
The youth bemoaned his fate as he continued sprinting.
His eyes near the ground, Xie Yi scanned for signs. Anything hinting at the fact that Xiang Zhe might have passed through here.
After a few short minutes, he started to tense up. If he couldn’t find Xiang Zhe very soon, he’d go right back to the sect and ring the alarm. This was too abnormal.
When a few drops of blood caught his attention near the puddles with herbs, he sucked in a breath.
The blood was still dripping down the stalk of grass, meaning it couldn’t have been too long.
Xie Yi cursed.
Go back and alert everyone? Precious time would be lost.
Follow the trail before he lost it? Dangerous.
Xie Yi clenched his hand around the robe near his chest. Inofficially, he was a Master. He also had Juxian with him, who was a strong weapon.
Not to mention that his opponent would underestimate him. The simple effect of just that was abnormal.
Even as an adult, if you underestimate a child, you might have a knife inside your heart before you know it. Correctly evaluating your opponent’s strength was one of the first things a cultivator had to learn.
But it was impossible to evaluate Xie Yi correctly.
The cultivator breathed in deeply, then ran to follow the few signs of a trail he could find. He wasn’t planning on revealing himself unless absolutely necessary.
Much, much farther away, Xiang Zhe was crying inside.
He was absolutely careful. He didn’t leave the sect, as he had been told. But no one could have prepared him for that.
The cultivator that had approached him was someone he had seen in the morning, in the canteen. It was a man that talked to the other disciples, joked around with them.
He was very obviously a disciple there. He wore the robes of a primary disciple, he had the aura of one.
Xiang Zhe felt cheated.
The disciple had come to him with a message. He would have been suspicious if he was asked to go far away, but it was only about walking a couple of minutes to help Senior Yi carry herbs.
And Senior Yi liked randomly calling him to carry stuff. An act of petty revenge that he actually found funny, because most of it was completely without reason - like carrying training weapons.
He didn’t really question it anymore, despite being suspicious at the start.
A primary disciple of the sect, well known to the other disciples. His senior calling him to do something that he did, often enough. A place mere minutes away from the walls of the sect and within sect grounds.
But… Someone tell him why that guy suddenly snapped and tried to knock him out!
He defended himself and the other drew a sword, giving him a slash on the arm that instantly made him dizzy and immobile. He fell down.
Still awake, he was carried away, until a teleportation array that was hidden in an obscure corner on a branch on a huge tree. It was one that activated by touch, a tiny one the size of a palm with no aura.
Highly convenient, but nothing a normal cultivator would use - the convenience came at a hefty price, sucking away a good portion of the person’s life directly. Let alone the materials needed for creating it.
He didn’t know who had placed the array there - these sorts of arrays were, in fact, at the weirdest places all over the country. Remnants of wars from thousands of years ago.
Anyway, the other disciple was acting very weird.
He did not make sure that Xiang Zhe didn’t leave hints and did not even notice the bloody drops that he left behind.
He did not hesitate to use the array that sucked away his life.
He was moving forward with an unbending determination, carrying a person on his shoulder, making no move to even tie the other up. And that despite the poison that had been used being one that acted as quickly as it lost effect.
Xiang Zhe moved his fingers and hesitated.
Did that guy not intend to check up on him? Or was it that they were too close to their goal that he did not care?
The disciple moved and suddenly set him down to the ground. Xiang Zhe hissed when he fell on his back, right onto stony ground.
They were in the middle of nowhere.
He knew it was, because he had never seen nor heard about the sight in front of him. On the barren land, the crack that parted the ground was incredibly wide, not to mention its depth.
From this angle, he couldn’t see the ground.
By now, the disciple began acting weird. His moves were jerky, as if he didn’t want to approach the chasm. He half dragged, half pushed Xiang Zhe forward on the ground.
Xiang Zhe tried to force his limbs to move. The feeling in them was returning, but he was still too sluggish to escape in his crawl.