Chapter 708: Tricked by Jiang Chen
“Holy King Gong, would you like to start?” The head of the Tai-ah City suggested with a laugh. He couldn’t take sides since he was here to play the mediator, and neither could he afford to offend either side when all was said and done.
Gong Wuji snorted coldly, “The Ninesun Sky Sect came with the intention of picking a fight, greatly affecting our Eternal Celestial Capital’s search for Jiang Chen. It became even more ludicrous later on—they claimed I killed their true disciple—what bullshit! I’ve killed countless people in my life and I’ll admit to whoever I’ve actually killed. But this old man has never even seen this so-called true disciple of theirs! How could I have killed him?”
Gong Wuji was absolutely furious at this point in the conversation. The head of Tai-ah City smiled and turned to Elder Hao of the Ninesun Sky Sect. “Elder Hao, you insist that Holy King Gong killed a true disciple from your Ninesuns Sky Sect. Do you have any evidence to back that claim?”
“Evidence?” Elder Hao was almost apoplectic with anger as he pointed at the sword on Gong Wuji’s back. “That sword is proof. Its name is ‘Ocean Cover’ and is our true disciple Cao Jin’s personal weapon. That man and sword acted as one in this life. Their separation signifies the death of the wielder or the destruction of his blade. Cao Jin’s soul lamp has long since shattered and today we find ‘Ocean Cover’ in Gong Wuji’s possession. He’s also admitted that he killed the owner to obtain the sword. Who else could be the murderer if not him!?” Elder Hao’s temper had only grown with his accusations. He was ready to make a move at the slightest disagreement.
The head of Tai-ah City was placed in a difficult position after hearing Elder Hao’s explanation. After all, the latter’s reasoning was fairly justified. Gong Wuji, on the other hand, flew into a rage, “This sword is absolutely not mine!”
Elder Hao sneered, “You claimed it was yours just a moment ago. How come you’re afraid to admit it now? Wasn’t the sword delivered by a disciple from your sect, saying that you forgot it at the Great Scarlet Mid Region? Can you deny that?”
Gong Wuji’s anger had reached its peak. He had a faint suspicion that he’d been made a fool of. Not only himself, but he had the feeling that everyone here had been toyed with as well. It was just that he refused to offer any explanation in order to maintain his dignity. It would give others the feeling that he was afraid of the Ninesuns Sky Sect if he persistently attempted to clarify the matter. His eyes turning cold, Gong Wuji turned around and issued an order, “Summon Zhao Neng.”
Zhao Neng was soon brought before him. The disciple was still thinking he would be praised and promoted as he bowed. “Sire Holy King, disciple Zhao Neng…”
Gong Wuji gestured angrily, “Who asked you to deliver this sword to me?”
Zhao Neng took a moment to think before he recounted, “It was a certain sect disciple from the Great Scarlet Mid Region. I don’t quite remember which sect he was from. He claimed to have been entrusted by the Great Scarlet emperor to return this sword. He said the blade must be delivered directly to Sire Holy King and asked me to convey the Great Scarlet emperor’s greetings.”
“What did this courier look like?” someone beside Gong Wuji inquired.
Zhao Neng scratched his head nervously. He was no idiot and had already caught on that something about the sword was amiss. But how was he supposed to accurately describe a person? He suddenly became tongue-tied and was unable to describe the person’s appearance. He stammered, “I only remember that this person said the sword was of the utmost importance…”
“Then why didn’t he deliver it himself?”
Zhao Neng replied with a miserable expression, “He claimed that the security at the site was too strict for an inferior sect disciple such as himself to enter. Hence, he entrusted me with its delivery.”
Increasingly irritated with the explanation, Gong Wuji yelled at the disciple. “Get lost!”
He understood immediately that Zhao Neng had been tricked. Moreover, the perpetrator had done so deliberately, at the most opportune moment, in order to draw the two sects into a conflict. The enemy tactics were clearly as effective as they was sinister. Pale and trembling in fright, Zhao Neng duly took his leave.
The head of Tai-ah City forced a smile, “Gentlemen, I suspect that someone deliberately sprung a trap for you. Their aim was to instigate a battle between the two of you.”
Elder Hao was also no fool. He had determined from Gong Wuji’s expression that there was more to this incident than was immediately apparent. After careful thought, if it really was Gong Wuji who had killed Cao Jin, he would’ve kept this matter firmly under wraps. There was no way he would display the sword publicly, let alone leave it in the Great Scarlet Mid Region. More suspicious points about the whole matter started to appear as he contemplated everything he’d seen and heard. But even so, it wasn’t enough to completely dispel Elder Hao’s doubts. Although things were rather ambiguous, it was insufficient to rule out Gong Wuji as a suspect.
A sect head from the Great Scarlet Mid Region suddenly asked, “Elder Hao, may I ask when it was that the soul lamp of your sect’s esteemed Cao Jin shattered?
Elder Hao could not be bothered to reply. However, someone from the Ninesuns Sky Sect stepped in to answer. All those from the Great Scarlet Mid Region laughed ruefully after the date was announced. “Elder Hao, this means that the demise of your esteemed sect’s Sir Cao indeed has nothing to do with Master Gong. Both Master Gong’s arrival at the Great Scarlet Region and his subsequent departure for the Myriad Domain were obviously after Sir Cao’s death. The dates just don’t match up.”
Elder Hao also felt that the dates didn’t conform as he took in this information. Moreover, the Ninesuns Sky Sect had several agents throughout the Myriad Domain. If a big shot like Gong Wuji had in fact appeared, it would have been impossible to not hear of it.
The city lord of Tai-ah City promptly spoke, “Elder Hao, there are obvious indications of a third party involving themselves in this matter. Zhao Neng admitted a moment ago that a sect disciple had given him the sword. Things will be made clear if we call out all the sect disciples from the Great Scarlet Mid Region and have Zhao Neng identify them. If there is such a person, he’ll be easily recognized. If there isn’t, we can confirm this as a case of impersonation.”
This method also received the approval of the neutral parties standing around. “Yes, this method is good.”
Those from the Great Scarlet Mid Region were happy to cooperate. They were not being compliant for the Ninesuns Sky Sect’s sake, but for the Eternal Celestial Capital. They were unwilling to see Gong Wuji doubted. From their standpoint, they definitely did not want to fall out with the Ninesuns Sky Sect. Hence it would be for the best if Master Gong Wuji was cleared of suspicion.
The sects of the Great Scarlet Mid Region had brought no small amount of people. They each stood there to be identified by Zhao Neng, who went through them for several times before shaking his head. “He’s not among them.”
The head of the Tai-ah City enquired, “Are all of your sect disciples in attendance?”
“They are. No one is absent,” the various sects replied.
The head of the Tai-ah City glanced at Elder Hao. “Elder Hao, this matter is basically confirmed. You have all been tricked.”
Elder Hao was also already ninety percent certain at this point. But, it was impossible for him to admit his mistake in public. He walked over to Gong Wuji huffily and extended his hand, “Hand over the sword.”
Gong Wuji was incensed. “What gives you the right to attack people on a whim? Do you think everything you do is justified? You have the audacity to demand now that I hand over the sword?”
“The sword belongs to the Ninesuns Sky Sect! It is only right and proper that I take it back.” Elder Hao went tit-for-tat, convinced that his demand was rational.
“Nonsense! You come to pick a fight without cause or reason and inflicted severe casualties on my Eternal Celestial Capital. Now, you want to take back this sword without a single explanation?! What kind of pushover do you think I am, ah!?” Gong Wuji was obviously not going to let this slide.
Elder Hao laughed coldly, “How do you suggest we settle this with strength, then?”
Gong Wuji replied indignantly, “You think I’m afraid of you?!”
The head of Tai-ah City hastily interjected. “The two of you, please calm down! We all know this incident was instigated by a third party. What good would it do to fight each other anymore? You will only injure yourselves and make the enemy happy. Please, give this old man some face and talk this over peacefully. Elder Hao, you attacked the other party without clarifying things and should offer Holy King Gong an apology. As for Holy King Gong, you should return the sword since it belongs to the Ninesun Sky Sect.”
The head of Tai-ah City was actually not willing to play the mediator. However, since the two heavyweights were threatening to start a battle in his territory, the role had been thrust on him and no one else. Hence he had to brace himself and attempt to broker some kind of peace.
Gong Wuji laughed coldly, “Apologize first.”
“Return the sword first,” Elder Hao was also stubborn.
The two were diametrically opposed—the dispute had turned into a matter of pride. Reports started to come in from the surroundings as they glared at each other. “Master Gong, the wandering cultivators have broken our blockade and are escaping by the thousands. At least two thirds of the hundred thousand have run.”
“Master Gong, at least half of the people we were monitoring have escaped…”
Bad news trickled in as each report only made Gong Wuji’s expression grow increasingly uglier. He hadn’t just been tricked this time, but made an absolute fool out of! A face suddenly appeared within Gong Wuji’s mind. Jiang Chen!
Although he didn’t know who had actually delivered the sword, Gong Wuji immediately thought of Jiang Chen. The kid could’ve easily disguised himself as a sect disciple from the Great Scarlet Mid Region and completely fooled that moron Zhao Neng. The unsuspecting disciple had then delivered the ominous blade into his hands, inciting this whole bloody incident. Gong Wuji felt a sudden surge of sweetness well up in his throat. He was on the verge of spitting out a glob of blood. Jiang Chen had made an utter fool of him once again, without a doubt! He no longer paid attention to Elder Hao and instead led his sect elites towards the outskirts. “More importantly, exactly how many among the monitored wandering cultivators have escaped?” Gong Wuji asked with a dark expression.
“Sire, the pairs we detained from among the wandering cultivators numbered over four hundred. Among them, two hundred teams have escaped, but we were able to recapture over a hundred pairs. That leaves over a hundred teams still loose. Although they have gone pretty far, we have people chasing after most of them.”
Gong Wuji asked with a long face, “How many of those pairs are headed in the direction of Veluriyam Capital?”
“There are seven in total.”
Gong Wuji nodded. “Prioritize tracking those seven pairs. Don’t forget to bring any pair you capture to me. Report immediately if anyone resists or goes missing.”
“Everyone, chase down those traveling in the direction of the Veluriyam Capital!” Gong Wuji, for all his faults, possessed a flexible and mature mindset. His greatest target at the moment was still Jiang Chen. The grievances with the Ninesuns Sky Sect would have to be settled at a later date. He had a strong premonition that Jiang Chen had already come to Tai-ah City and had personally delivered the sword. Gong Wuji couldn’t help but burn with rage at that thought. Not once, not twice, but Jiang Chen had made fun of him several times now! This deeply offended Gong Wuji’s dignity. He was certainly amongst the seven pairs that were headed toward the Veluriyam Capital!
Gong Wuji was almost completely certain of this. “Jiang Chen, I want to see how you can escape my grasp! You think you’re so smart but what you don’t know is that once someone is marked by the eternal imprint of our sect, he can only dream of getting away!” Gong Wuji gnashed his teeth while his cold eyes looked in the direction of Veluriyam Capital. His frosty countenance was brimming with killing intent. Gong Wuji was enraged beyond words after successive failures and repeatedly falling victim to Jiang Chen’s schemes.