"This type of scorpion venom is way too potent, plus, she had been injected with way too much. We might have wiped it clean for the moment, but there could be hidden loopholes. I'm afraid it'll hinder her future cultivation."
Inside a cabin of Yanbei Tree Farm, Xiaozhai put her little sister on the bed and examined her inch by inch.
"What? Then what are we gonna do?"
These words got Long Qiu to worry. Turning around, she asked, "Hey, do you have an antidote for the venom?"
"The venom is made by collecting the stingers of a hundred venomous scorpions. Ordinary human beings would be killed instantly just by touching it. There is no antidote…"
The bamboo stick sat crumpled up in a corner, his entire right arm gone. Panting, he said, "Immortal Master Jiang has already done a peerless and formidable job by cleaning out the venom alone. There is nothing I can do at this point."
Long Qiu was very angry, so much so that she wanted to lash out at the man. Unfortunately, facial expressions such as a wicked, threatening, or wickedly threatening look were never part of her nature. She turned helplessly towards her elder sister.
Xiaozhai's lips moved, quietly mouthing three words: the spiritual ginseng.
It dawned on Long Qiu immediately. The powerful Wood spiritual essence and vital essence of the spiritual ginseng were very likely to cure Jin Jin. She sat down by the bed and her heart ached at the unconscious little face. Holding Xiaojin's hands, she caressed them gently.
Meanwhile, Xiaozhai went up to the bamboo stick and asked coldly, "Is this place a branch of yours?"
"How far are you with your beastly creatures?"
"Are you going to let me go if I told you?" retorted the bamboo stick.
"No, but you'll die an easier death."
He snorted in a taunting manner. Xiaozhai cared little of his attitude and went on, "Who's your informer in the government?"
The question startled the bamboo stick, who pursed his lips tighter and would not answer.
"Seriously? The member of a lawless cult is trying to play the hero?"
Xiaozhai stuck out a finger and jabbed a few times at his chest. She then fetched a chair and sat down right in front of him. "I might be in a hurry, but I can still make some time to interrogate you."
The bamboo stick had his eyes fixed on her and kept his mouth shut, only that his face was growing paler. A few seconds later, sweat was trickling down his face in streams and he began to convulse.
Finally, he could not take it any more and pitched headlong on the ground. He scratched his skin frantically with his remaining hand, leaving bloodstains all over his body.
The screaming was filled with an unbearable pain. Twisting around, he looked up at his interrogator from a strange angle.
That face revealed no emotion. She reminded him of a goddess looking down at the mortal world.
"I will tell you! I will!"
Drowning in despair and a sensation worse than death, he yelled hastily.
Xiaozhai poked with her finger again and the pain was gone. "Who is it?"
"A man called Guan Pan. He's the blood brother of that dwarf. They two have been in contact the entire time and that's, that's all I know...!"
Songjiang River, the Shui Family's house.
The courtyard had been briefly tidied up inside out and the wounded police officers carried off to the vehicle, by which they were sent to the hospital. The Flaming Cloud Needles had hurt them by just the right amount. They might have seemed to be devoured in flames, but the fire was out within minutes.
They were still miserable, though. That would at least be counted as severe injuries.
The five priests of Qiyun were also wounded, but their physical strength had enabled them to hold on, difficult though it might be. Right now, they were enjoying the hospitality inside the house with Zhang Juan and Mu Kun.
Whom were they kidding!
Lu Yuanqing smiled wryly. A sense of defeat pressed against his chest like a giant fist, squeezing out his breath.
He thought he had overestimated the guy, which turned out to be an underestimation still. He had made the guy part of his only plan and even thought about using him. As it turned out, the guy would not be planned by anyone.
Shi Yunlai took it the hardest, he had kept his head lowered and would not utter a word. The attitude of the three men of Zhengyi was somewhat ambiguous. They had guessed beforehand that Gu Yu might be using the essence-consuming method—he had demonstrated his overwhelming power just then.
In a hidden corner of their minds, a strange voice was saying: Neidan practice of Quanzhen was indeed no match to the essence-consuming method of our own ancestors!
The priests aside, Zhang Juan and Mu Kun were already having a very awkward time. They went for wool and came home shorn. In a word, they had it coming.
"I presume you all know that Xiaozhai has left for Huang Village. I'm gonna be honest with you. Last night, Xiaojin was abducted. Xiaozhai is there to handle it," said Gu Yu.
The two deputies were both shocked. They had deduced that something had gone wrong, but kidnapping… good god! They did not see that coming.
"Our guess is that this was the doing of Shamanism. But, there's one thing I don't understand…"
Gu Yu stared at the two man and spoke one word at at time, "How come they know every detail of our whereabouts, including the transportation arrangement?"
Mu Kun's heart lurched. It was obviously the work of a mole!
"Mr. Gu, we, we really don't know anything about that. We know the details of your travel plan, but our corresponding arrangement was nothing against you…"
He tried his best to explain, but the matter at hand was messy enough to begin with and he was only making it messier. He even broke into sweat in the end.
Luckily, Mu Kun was saved by a phone call.
Gu Yu took it out, looked at the screen, and picked it up right away. "Hello, how's Xiaojin… Oh, good… You got it? Yeah, don't worry about things over here. You guys just come back here first."
He hung up the phone and blurted out, "Who's Guan Pan?"
Mu Kun winced, then figured out the reason behind the question right away. He faltered out a few words. Gu Yu would not waste time on this and turned to ask Zhang Juan, "Who's Guan Pan?"
Zhang Juan shuddered when their eyes met and he held nothing back. "He, he's the deputy director of Xidu sub-bureau, 34 years old, used to work in the police system, and knows his way around in criminal investigation."
"He has an elder brother?"
"I, I never heard of a brother! Oh, right, it came back to me. He had one, but the brother went missing when they were kids. The case was filed."
That was it. He was the man.
Gu Yu nodded and rose to his feet. "I'll have to trouble you a bit longer. Let's take a trip to Xidu."
An SUV whirled away through the village road. Only after the tail lights disappeared into the distance did the folks of Changqing Village stuck their heads out of their doors like hamsters coming out of hibernation. They thronged into the courtyard of the Shui Family.
"What's going on? Is war coming?"
"I heard police cars and gunshots. Were they catching wanted men?"
"Exactly. Stop the war bullshit. That third generation fatso 1 would not dare to."
No one could turn a deaf ear to such an uproar; it was only that no one knew what had really happened, which naturally led to another round of piffling.
Inside the SUV, Zhang Juan sat in the passenger seat, while Gu Yu and Mu Kun sat at the back. The driver was a young police officer who had been allocated to the mountain foot and was later called in as reinforcements.
"Mr. Gu, do you have to go in?" Mu Kun asked in a low voice.
"But we have no solid evidence. All we can do is to restrain his movement for the time being. Isn't it a little presumptuous to name an official a Shamanic member by Miss Jiang's one-sided statement?"
"Presumptuous?" Gu Yu gave him a look and said, "Back in Huo Zhou, I handed a scroll to that senior colonel, which contained the organizational structure and the strength analysis of Shamanism. What I don't understand is, why haven't you done anything in such a long time? Maybe you were afraid of arresting the wrong man, or maybe you were concerned about stability. But I'm sure you understood my intention then."
"Yes, yes. Very well."
Mu Kun nodded repeated, smiling bitterly inside.
Ever since Phoenix Mountain began to work with the government, they had given the latter more than enough help and offered more important information than they could count. They had even directly saved so many people… on a macro scale, had they ever done anything against the government's interest?
Honestly, they hadn't.
What had the government done in return again?
This thing with Shamanism, for instance, with which the authorities were forever being concerned over this matter or that, or trying to avoid offending, well, anybody. All in all, they just could not make the tough decision to cut the rotten limb. Gu Yu had hinted it back then: I couldn't care less about how you proceed with it, but I wouldn't give a damn about what you think if they mess with us one day!
The vehicle drove on, and was soon out of Songjiang River and on the highway.
Zhang Juan sat in the front, occupied with his own thoughts. He suddenly said, "The office building of the sub-bureau is in the government compound."
"So?" Gu Yu retorted.
The fellow went quiet right away and so was Mu Kun.
The awkward silence remained all the way to Xidu.
The 300-km drive would take them four hours at least, which was more than enough to send a message back to Xidu.
Guan Pan remained in his office the entire time, keeping an eye on the news of Changqing Village. With two deputies, five priests, and loads of elite police officers and modern weapons, even the most skilless melee would be enough to kill the guy.
Even if the war did not break out, Phoenix Mountain would surely be suppressed and its resources confiscated by the government. When Phoenix Mountain waned, his divine sect would be on the rise.
"You lazy bastards! You're out here smoking when I told you to keep you posts? Get the hell back in!"
"Yes, sir! Right away!"
"Clack, clack, clack!"
Angry bellow and the sound of shuffling footsteps came from the corridor outside.
"That imbecile! All he can do is lashing out at his men!"
Guan Pan recognized the voice of Director Wang Xuqiao right away. He couldn't help but silently give vent to his scorn. Meanwhile, he began to daydream: with what he achieved this time, if the sect could pull some strings and raise him to the position of the director...
Haha, that would surely bring glory to his ancestors. How amazing would that be?
With that in mind, he picked up his phone and was about to ask for an update when the door slammed open. A member of staff, who was also a sect member, ran in and whispered, "I've got news!"
"How was it?" he asked eagerly.
"Twenty special force men severely injured and all sent to the hospital. The monastery was a total failure. Word has it that none of them made past two rounds! Zhang Juan and Mu Kun are heading back."
"And Gu Yu?" He bolted up.
"I heard, I heard he is coming back with them."
Guan Pan felt his spine was going to explode and a chill had crept up his neck. 'Is he coming for me?'
No, he couldn't have. He didn't know who planned this, did he?
No! That Jiang woman went to Huang Village. She had probably found the branch!
The expression on Guan Pan's face changed several times in a matter of seconds. "I have to go, right now. You're not exposed yet. Be more careful from now on!"
With that, he packed his briefcase and went downstairs.
The two staff on duty stopped him at the building entrance. "Sorry, you are not allowed to leave at the moment."
"Move! It's urgent!"
"I'm sorry, but the order came from Director Mu. Please stay in your office upstairs before he comes back."
"Let me tell you this. Should anything go wrong over there, you two together won't be enough to pay for it! Let me pass!"
No matter what he said, the guards would not let him pass. Combat was never Guan Pan's forte and his only option was to go back upstairs.
He did not return to his office, but walked back and forth in the corridor while straining his head to find a way to escape.
A while later, he heard the hubbub of arguing voices. He immediately stopped at a window and looked out.
Guan Pan's office was not in the main building, but in building No. 3, which stood a little to the east. His view was slightly blocked, but there was enough room for him to make out the situation outside.
An SUV parked outside the yard and three men stood in front of the vehicle. Two of them were Zhang Juan and Mu Kun, while the third he recognized from the files—Gu Yu of Phoenix Mountain!
"Mr. Gu, please calm down! This is no ordinary street!"
Mu Kun tried his best to persuade Gu Yu. Even Zhang Juan had abandoned his arrogance. "Please look around you. So many eyes are watching. What are we going to do if you just tear this building apart?"
Gu Yu listened in silence. Behind them was a two-way boulevard with eight lanes. People were hurrying to and fro and on the other side of the streets stood rows upon rows of shops. It was such a busy scene—exactly as one would expect of a prosperous provincial capital.
The securities on duty had lined up on either side, ready to evacuate the crowd at any time. The SUV had stopped right at the entrance, blocking part of the view from outside. However, many had stuck out their heads to see from the buildings inside while whispering among themselves.
After a while, Guan Pan realized what was going on: they would not let Gu Yu come in.
He couldn't help but guffaw. That was promising. As long as they followed the lawful procedure, he had a chance to come out of this unharmed.
Momentarily, instigated by the overwhelming terror a minute ago, an uncontrollable excitement and satisfaction took over him. He looked towards that man, who just happened to look at him at that moment.
"Haha! Come in, I dare you! Can you come in? There's nothing you can do to me!"
He did not care if Gu Yu could hear him or not, but yelled as if he had gone mad.
"We have restricted his personal freedom and he is to be turned over to the judicial authorities, where he will be tried for his crime only after enough evidence is gathered. Mr. Gu, you have to trust us. We won't wrong a good person, nor will we let go of a bad one." Mu Kun was still persuading him.
"I'm sorry, but I really can't trust you."
Gu Yu smiled. Stretching out a slender, pretty hand towards that direction, he curled up his fingers a little as if he was grabbing onto something.
Then, he activated the Small Moving Technique and gave it a slight twist.
A staff passing by halted abruptly as some sticky, foul-smelling liquid splashed onto her. Before she could think, she touched it and saw her palm covered in red.
"Blood, it's blood… aaaaah!" she cried out. Looking up, she was petrified.
A figure stood ramrod straight by the window. The body was tall and strong and the muscles well-toned. However, there was nothing from the neck above!
The head was torn right off. The sticky flesh, bone marrow, and nerves dripped down, forming a little pool of colorful mush.
Zhang Juan, Mu Kun, and the security personnel at the entrance were all scared stiff.
In Gu Yu's hand, a head had just materialized, the last expression still fresh on the face—a vivid taunting and satisfactory look.
It had belonged to Guan Pan once!TL/N: if anyone is curious, that's the epithet for the current boss of North Korea