The two of them fled hard and fast, panting laboriously and using their recuperated Qi to eliminate the smell of explosives and blood from their bodies. They both knew that they were a little slow, but it was still a step ahead; if they could keep themselves in the lead in an intelligent manner, they would still have a guaranteed chance to escape from their pursuers.
The real problem now that could cost them their lives were the traces of life that clung to them.
If these traces were not gotten rid of, death would be the only outcome of the day, and nothing more.
Whether it was coincidence or not, whether was it accidental or inevitable, the two of them had already reached the end of the cliff; they both jumped without hesitation, carrying their comrades along.
Was this an accident or was it not?
As they leaped forward, the two of them instinctively felt an inane sense of absurdity in their hearts.
What the hell-- who do you think I am?
Am I the world's expert, adored and feared by many, or am I an inexperienced amateur, fresh out in the martial world? In a short span of only four days, I've been chased and pursued to the point of leaping off cliffs... twice!
Didn't the strange tales and legends in the novels state how a cliff is a turning point in one's life? Can this be applied in our situation?
The key difference between this situation compared to the last was that, this around, the forces of the Four Seasons Tower did not withdraw. On the contrary, they conducted an abnormally strict search, as if they were looking forward to eliminating the four of them as swiftly as possible upon sight.
After painstakingly lengthy and difficult search, Ling Xiaozui and Dugu Chou finally found a hidden corner down below, having expended their best efforts. Dragging his broken leg around, Ling Xiaozui started to lay out misleading formations. After putting them up at three different zones, only then did they drag Feng Xiange and Gu Chaliang with them to find an even more secluded corner. They dug a hole, removing the topsoil in a single piece. The four of them then squeezed into it, concealing themselves as they shifted the soil surface atop them, back to its original position.
Not too long after the four had just settled down in hiding, sounds of rustling broke the silence in consecutive waves. It seemed like the enemy had caught up with them.
"There's something wrong with this place!"
"There's a formation up front."
"There's no one here!"
"... It's just to confuse us. It was placed there on purpose to misdirect us. Carry on with the search!"
"There's another one there."
"There's no one in this formation… it's simply misdirection!"
"Is this the third one?"
"The Unrivaled Expert is truly the Unrivaled Expert. The three misleading spells have taken up almost an hour of our time. It is highly unlikely that we could keep up with their speed now."
"Gather up, all of you. Listen to the boss's command."
"We can't let these two escape again this time. See if I wouldn't dice them up when we finally catch up with them."
Ling Xiaozui and Gu Chaliang laid below, completely silent. They even held their breath, only taking in another after a long interval.
Ling Xiaozui's palm had been pressing against the center of Gu Chaliang's back, channeling a continuous flow of Qi into his body to increase Gu Chaliang's chance of survival; Dugu Chou did the same.
Although there were no longer any sounds from the outside, the two did not move a muscle. They remained in that position for a day and a night. It was only then they crawled out from their hiding place, carefully, carrying the wounded with them.
"We can't continue being in this state. We have to find a suitable place to resuscitate them - they can't last any longer."
After a day, Gu Chaliang came back to his senses with some aid. Upon opening his eyes, two faces came into view, watching him as he opened his eyes with bashful smiles etched on their faces.
Gu Chaliang rolled his eyes and started grumbling after initiating a self-healing process. "What did I say? Something went wrong, didn't it? I did say that there would be bloodshed, didn't I? You fellows just wouldn't listen to me; just look at what just happened!"
Ling Xiaozui and Dugu Chou let out a series of coughs, using that to cover up their embarrassment, but it was barely effective.
"What about Feng Xiange?" Gu Chaliang directed his attention elsewhere.
The ambush, the serious damage and the severe depletion in strength; these events that were encountered by the four of them were already facts that transpired. Pinpointing the unstable factor as quickly as possible was presently the most crucial task at hand!
Was Feng Xiange the rat amongst them?
If he was, he would've made his move by now, wouldn't he?
There was another pressing question; in their current condition, how could the other three escape the plan the schemer had in store for them?
"Feng Xiange's condition is extremely grievous; he's nowhere close to how you are now…" Dugu Chou's face darkened. "At least you have regained consciousness; that means you could heal yourself by activating your base. What's left of him is just a chest barely moving by the breaths he takes. There's still a bit of warmth left in him, but the rest of him… is already cold…"
"How could this happen?" Gu Chaliang cried out, appalled by the news. He angled his head upwards in a swift moment, attempting to sit up, forgetting that his movements would trigger the wounds on his body. With that sudden movement, his brain felt like it had been beaten into a frenzy by eight hundred strong men. "Argh! This… this truly restores some of my… vigor." He moaned in agony.
"Just rest. We can't leave, even if we wanted to." Ling Xiaozui sighed. "The injuries we sustained would need at least half a month's time to heal with self-cultivation… and in this half a month, we cannot act recklessly. One step out of here can only mean death!"
Gu Chaliang rolled his eyes. "I already mentioned that there would be bloodshed before us and that we would be cornered, but you didn't believe me, did you? Do you believe me now?"
The old man who had gained the upper hand of this situation from the accuracy of his predictions started complaining and grumbling to himself, emitting a variety of sighs from time to time.
Ling Xiaozui and Dugu Chou knew that they were in the wrong, so they just let him be.
After a while, Ling Xiaozui forcefully fed Gu Chaliang some medication, then slapped the back of his neck, making the latter fall back into a deep slumber and effectively stopping his incessant grumbling. He simply believed that Gu Chaliang's body had been restored back to a state where its self-defense mechanisms had kicked in, just enough to conduct self-healing.
"There's something weird about this; a lot of it didn't seem to make any sense."
Ling Xiaozui made his thoughts known to Dugu Chou as his gaze fell upon the two unconscious fellows on the ground.
Dugu Chou also felt slightly confused by the events. "I agree - something's amiss."
Both of them frowned.
This time around, although they had been ambushed and wounded heavily in the process, the suspicion placed upon Gu Chaliang and Feng Xiange was completely eliminated.
Gu Chaliang, the most suspicious of all, had been terribly adamant despite the fall-out in opinions and had suggested safety measures prior to this. It could be said that he was the only reason the party had actually survived.
As for Feng Xiange… his wounds were just too severe. They were severe to the point where his fate hung between life and death; if he truly was a spy amongst them, was this really all an act? An act that seemed just a tad too realistic?
However, how could the Four Seasons Tower have anticipated all of this by burying that amount of explosives beforehand? Could they have prepared this earlier, only waiting for the enemy to strike all along? The ensuing damage was entirely too drastic!
The two of them exchanged a look. They both had questions in their hearts, yet it felt too perplexing - it was hard to organize their train of thought.
"Dugu. Did you get the feeling that it was still too easy and lucky for us to have escaped? At the very least, we had to fight a bit during the last encounter; we didn't even have a face-off this time around," said Ling Xiaozui.
Dugu Chou slowly nodded his head. "I was also considering this fact. Judging by the showdown just now, if the Four Seasons Tower had really predicted our move and had plotted accordingly, it's possible that they had intended to bury us for good with this explosion. However, their men were situated just a little too far away, giving us too much time to respond…"
"This point is really extraordinary."
Ling Xiaozui nodded. "Judging by Mr. Nian's intelligence, predicting our second attack and all… there shouldn't even have been such a mistake, and something like this wouldn't even have happened for the second time… which is why I think that there must be a reason - an objective - behind all of this."
Dugu Chou's face darkened. "However, here we are, accepting and allowing things to happen - we don't even know what is their true objective!"