Chapter 380 - Leaving
Ai Hui observed Silver Soldier - his position beside the Karakorum Savant, the way he talked leisurely with the Elders - and saw a man born destined for great things.
His mild sorrow began to fade and was soon replaced by a slight tinge of happiness.
Regardless of how the lines of fate intertwined, regardless of what Brother Li Wei had experienced during these tumultuous three years, being alive was a good reason to be happy.
Ah, I should find a time to visit Senior Mingxiu.
Ai Hui thought to himself.
After talking to the Elders, the two of them went back to see Madam Ye.
The Karakorum Savant respectfully addressed her, "Aunt Ye."
Silver Soldier bowed, "Madam."
Ai Hui noticed that they addressed Madam Ye differently. The way things looked, Heng Bingfeng appeared to be closely related to the Ye Residence. Ai Hui guessed that Heng Bingfeng must have been a core member of the Assembly of Patriarchs, just like the old prisoner. No wonder Madam Ye seemed to be closely related to the Assembly of Patriarchs as well.
Madam Ye beamed at the two of them and began to introduce Ai Hui, "This is Mister Chu Zhaoyang. He has exceptional swordsmanship and previously saved Xiaobao and I. We’re all one big family and I’d like for the three of you to know each other better."
Karakorum Savant said to Silver Soldier, "Zhaoyang has excellent swordsmanship, and I hope that he can assist me in compiling a swordsmanship encyclopedia."
Ai Hui humbly replied, "My swordsmanship cannot be compared to that of Chief. My thanks to the two of you for saving my life in the nick of time."
"Brother Chu, you are too humble. We’d have been in deep trouble if you hadn’t dealt such a heavy blow to the grass-lotus puppet," replied Silver Soldier.
Madam Ye laughed, "Alright, alright, all this modesty is making me tired. Give me a moment, we’ll speak again later."
She turned towards Xiao Shuren and said, "Madam Xiao, you must have been frightened. We still need you to cooperate with the Elders Guild in their investigation of the matter. I sincerely apologize."
After hearing what Madam Ye said, Ai Hui couldn’t help but glance at Xiao Shuren. She had completely preempted Madam Ye’s actions.
Xiao Shuren did not look at Ai Hui, her eyes were fixed on Madam Ye instead. The corner of her mouth curved up in contempt as she spoke, "Madam, are you burning bridges now? Didn’t you promise to ensure my safety when I disclosed the location of the treasures? Are you trying to go back on your words?"
All eyes were on Madam Ye. Suspicion filled the air.
Ai Hui mused that she was really cunning!
Xiao Shuren’s move was truly brilliant.
Madam Ye immediately stopped smiling and said in a serious manner, "Madam Xiao, are you trying to mislead the public? Wrong move. Don’t forget that there’s still the Judgement Division, and you won’t be able to fool them. I urge that you think before you speak."
Her rebuttal greatly reduced the number of suspicious looks from the crowd.
Surveillance, Judgement, and Dread were the ever mysterious three central divisions. The Surveillance Division was specialised in gathering intelligence, the Judgement Division gave unparalleled judgment, while the Dread Division was also known as the "King of Warfare".
Once the Judgement Division became involved in an investigation, attempting to falsify information would only end badly. The Surveillance Division had a myriad of methods at its disposal. It was practically impossible for any criminal to evade their inquisition.
Xiao Shuren became even more sarcastic. "That’s true, why should a high and mighty person like you keep your promise to a small fry like me? You used me as bait, and even used me as Chu Zhaoyang’s shield. But a word of warning, Mr Chu Zhaoyang, even though you’ve saved their lives before, she has never truly considered you as one of them. Why else would she leave you alone in Ye Residence?"
Madam Ye furrowed her brows, "What a load of nonsense!"
She felt an ominous premonition as she looked into the lucid eyes of this seemingly insane woman.
‘Spouting rubbish like that, isn’t she worried that I’ll just finish her off right now?’
Madam Ye’s heart was beating wildly.
Ai Hui silently observed Xiao Shuren since he already knew what she was going to do. Xiao Shuren had not looked at Ai Hui the whole time, but Ai Hui knew that whatever she was doing was meant to remove all suspicions from him. After this, nobody would think that Ai Hui had the ancient treasure.
Even though he already knew that Xiao Shuren didn’t have long to live and was doing all these things for her son, Ai Hui invariably still felt sad about what was about to happen next.
"An ancient treasure that even Grandmaster Dai covets. It was first rumoured to be related to the swordsmanship, and shortly after it landed in the hands of Karakorum. Next thing you know, I was sent to the Ye Residence. Madam Ye, isn’t this too much of a coincidence? Since you’ve spent so much effort obtaining it, I hope you manage to utilize it well."
Her words immediately made everyone else suspect Madam Ye again.
An eerie smile appeared on Xiao Shuren’s face.
Madam Ye suddenly shouted, "Stop her, she’s going to commit suicide!"
Just as she finished her sentence, Xiao Shuren’s body began to crumble into a pool of sand. The upper half of her body lay in the sand, her beautiful face was like that of a lifeless doll.
The crowd was stunned by this sudden turn of events.
Madam Ye stared blankly at the sand, recovering after a moment. She had a perplexed look on her face.
Her plan had gone perfectly, and the Ling Residence was finished. To think that this Xiao Shuren would give her a direct hit just as she was about to enjoy her sweet victory.
Madam Ye knew she was in big trouble.
It was going to be hard for her to maintain her innocence and prove that she didn’t know anything about the ancient treasure. What’s more, now that it was exposed, her relationship with Chu Zhaoyang was going to be equally difficult to explain.
Xiao Shuren’s last offensive was merciless.
Since she was already dead, Madam Ye found it hard to get angry. She instead felt some admiration for the lady.
The entire place was dead quiet.
Xiao Shuren’s last move had left everyone deeply shaken.
Soon after, one of the many bodyguards beside the Great Elder walked towards the pool of sand. He crouched down and grabbed a handful of it. After examining it for awhile, his face lit up in realization.
"The sand within her body hasn’t been changed for quite some time. She was doomed anyway."
Everyone now understood why Xiao Shuren had committed suicide - she had known that her time was almost up.
Even though Madam Ye had already guessed the reason, she still felt extremely annoyed. Why didn’t she examine Xiao Shuren earlier? She would definitely have been able to discover that she was a transfigured elementalist if she had done so.
While her final frenzy managed to convince some people, it wasn’t able to win over all of them.
Despite that, the seeds of suspicion were now firmly planted and would be difficult to eliminate.
Regardless, dead men tell no tales, and Xiao Shuren was no longer around for questioning.
Madam Ye remained composed. To her, this was just another inconvenience.
She wasn’t some powerless civilian. Without solid evidence, who would dare to openly question her?
Rumors and suspicions were only devastating against the weak. They were completely useless against those in power, just like sparrows chirping away in the darkness. A little noise could be heard every now and then, but they presented no harm whatsoever.
Except for the Great Elder and her, the rest of them were sparrows.
Today’s drama had pried opened everyone’s eyes. They had just witnessed the collapse of a one-thousand-year-old influential family, the appearance of descendents from the Heng family who had disappeared for many years, the chief of Dragonrise Training Hall sacrificing everything to save Madam Ling, as well as the final, sorrowful, yet resolute, counterattack of Xiao Shuren.
All of them were dazed, and the Elders had a grim look on their faces. They knew that a storm was brewing.
The Avalon of Five Elements’ power hierarchy would change dramatically.
But all these things had nothing to do with Ai Hui, and he took the opportunity to leave the Ye Residence.
The recent spate of infighting was considerably disturbing to Ai Hui, who had not seen anything like that before. He had previously thought that Silver City would be an easy place to make money, but had since realized the true costs involved. The slightest mistakes could easily cost him his life.
The Ye Residence was severely damaged. Madam Ye had brought Xiaobao to stay at the Great Elder’s other villa to avoid the chaotic situation.
Madam Ye invited Ai Hui along, but he politely rejected. He claimed that he needed to further explore his recent breakthrough in base level.
Madam Ye thought that Ai Hui was still brooding over Xiao Shuren’s last words. She smiled faintly and didn’t probe further. After all these days of contact, she understood that Mister Zhaoyang was a pragmatic person.
Who is able to offer a higher price than me? Who dares to offer a higher price than me?
She would soon find out.
Madam Ye gently told Chu Zhaoyang to train well since she might require his assistance in the future.
Karakorum Savant invited Ai Hui to stay in Karakorum Sword League for a short while so that they could learn from each other and compile a swordsmanship encyclopedia.
This suggestion tugged on Ai Hui’s heartstrings, but he rejected the invitation. He did not like Silver City one bit and wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. He had been contemplating whether to catch up with Brother Li Wei, but after some deliberation, he decided that it wasn’t a good time to do so.
Chu Zhaoyang’s identity was a complex matter.
However, taking into consideration the relationship between Karakorum Sword League and the Assembly of Patriarchs, Ai Hui didn’t say much else. He only mentioned his recent realizations and how he’d like to reflect deeper on them. Once the dust had settled he’d come back to swap pointers.
He wasn’t going to get barred from entering the Hall of Ancient Records before he found those notes.
Although Karakorum Savant felt slightly disappointed, she was still extremely understanding. However, she kept emphasising repeatedly that Mister Chu must eventually return to aid in the compilation of her swordsmanship encyclopedia.
Ai Hui bade farewell to the crowd and ventured out of the city alone.
Karakorum Savant noticed her senior looking at Chu Zhaoyang quizzically. Slightly worried, she asked, "What’s wrong?"
Silver Soldier was roused from his contemplation. He shook his head, "Nothing, just thinking of an old friend."
Ai Hui was a good distance away from Silver City. He felt like someone who had just successfully escaped from prison, feeling unspeakably free and relieved.
The treasures of Silver City weren’t meant for him, and he no longer cared for them.
Silver City may be a paradise for others, but it was a hell for him.
The Starry Gem Swordwings flapped powerfully against the strong winds, creating a trail of lightning as he flew through the clouds while the sun shone beautifully in the sky.
Ai Hui felt agitated. The suppressed emotions he had felt over the past few days were now gushing out like an exploding volcano.
Amidst the strong gales, Ai Hui screamed and howled at the top of his lungs. Awful singing? Who cares as long as I’m enjoying myself! No rhythm? Who cares as long as I’m happy!
Singing loudly with sword in hand, Ai Hui felt like he could go anywhere.
He’d enjoy his time with the others, taking revenge, fighting and exploring with them.
Before old age and death arrived. YOLO.