Chapter 454 - Conspiracy
Clearwater City guards interrogated passing caravans vigilantly. Recently, each respective enterprise faced a whole series of issues. If their goods were not delayed, the funds or channels were problematic.
The goods that were meant for exchange with snow lava were only half processed.
There was an invisible hand disrupting them from behind.
Qiao Meiqi had seen all kinds of dangerous situations and was very knowledgeable in that aspect. Although his investigations brought no results, he could smell the odor of a conspiracy. He immediately ordered guards to question people entering and leaving the city. They had to check for city medals on registered elementalists of Clearwater City. The city medal was a management method used extensively following the city expansion order and the construction of new cities.
In order to obtain a Clearwater City medal, elementalists had to register to get their names into the database. They had to get their elemental energy tested as well and a detailed analysis would be kept. They also had to reside in Clearwater City for a least a year.
Unfamiliar looking faces would be strictly interrogated. There were specialized elementalists outside the city gates, in charge of testing newcomers’ elemental energy, base level and so on. With such tests, even Masters were unable to conceal their abilities.
Caught off guard, many newcomers protested against the rigorous tests. A few even tried to cause trouble and were killed on the spot. Witnesses then kept quiet out of fear.
Qiao Meiqi had a premonition that someone was preparing something, and that now was the calm before the storm.
He’d personally relayed an order with such a serious tone that practically the whole city was awaiting the arrival of the enemies.
Even Yang Xiaodong was supervising the scene to prevent any accidents. The other consecrated Master of Clearwater City was still uncontactable somehow, causing Qiao Meiqi to feel more uneasy.
As the only Master left in Clearwater City, Yang Xiaodong had limited power to intimidate enemies.
Qiao Meiqi had spent a huge fortune building the city’s defenses. Even a Master would be unable to attack efficiently. Plus, there was Master Yang Xiaodong standing guard.
The guards flagged down a caravan that wasn’t big and only had just over ten load basin beasts. However, some carried completely screened off tents on their backs. It was a garish sight.
A few guards questioned, "Where are you guys from?"
A manager from the caravan rushed forward and said in a flattering smile and tone, "Cold Rock City. What is going on, Sirs? I’ve never seen such a disposition of troops before."
The guards looked suspicious. "Why haven’t I seen you if you’ve been here before? Do those belong to the enterprise?"
The manager replied hurriedly, "Look at what you’re saying. You’re a noble person and are busy with official business. I’m just a lowly worker from Li Clan Enterprise. The goods inside were ordered by Master Yang."
The guards made eye contact upon hearing the words "Li Clan Enterprise" and "Master Yang". They knew that Li Clan Enterprise and Master Yang shared a deep relationship and the materials Master Yang needed had always been purchased from the enterprise.
Just then, a man whom the guards recognized as Master Yang’s servant, strode over without getting obstructed. He looked furious, hair all over his face. "Such a shilly-shally enterprise, spreading your bad luck to me at that. Master Yang has asked if the goods are here yet. Why are they only arriving now? How long has it been already!"
The manager apologized hastily. "It’s not that I did not try my best, but we met a few dire beasts on the way and fell into critical danger…"
The servant interrupted coldly, "I’m not here to listen to your grievances. Go find Master Yang if you have the energy to whine. Send those goods in and the accounts will be settled with you by Master Yang."
The manager wept and pleaded non-stop but the servant looked on, ashen-faced and absolutely careless.
Having witnessed this, the guards made eye contact and no one went forward. Weren’t they seeking death if they were to provoke Master Yang at this time? Master Yang was supervising the city from above and Clearwater City would lose its footing if they offended him.
Li Clan Enterprise’s load basin beasts then entered the city gates amid pleads and cries but no one went forward.
The load basin beasts quickly reached Li Clan Enterprise’s entrance and went straight in without stopping. The enterprise gate only closed after the last load basin beast entered.
No one noticed a few shadows coming out of the tents and disappearing.
Deep within the enterprise was an inconspicuous looking house.
Autumn Water, with her tall figure and huge watery eyes, looked as though she could steal people’s souls. She said tenderly, "You really have your ways. Who would’ve thought that Master Yang is one of your people. We have more confidence now."
Mister Dou responded coldly, "Cut the crap."
He looked scary with his empty looking eyes and withered face. He emitted a sinister odor and spoke with a hoarse voice, sending chills down people’s spines.
Autumn Water did not get angry. She laughed softly, saying, "This is the Seventh Patriarch, Jiu Gui."
[Jiu Gui - literally meaning ‘Liquor Cabinet’ (The skill he practiced was related to liquor)]
Beside her stood a lazy looking scholar, who looked like a teacher. His eyes were narrow and hazy, as if intoxicated. Jiu Gui cupped his hands together and laughed gently. "I’ve heard of your glorious name, ‘Northern Underworld King’ for the longest time. It’s an honor to meet you."
"I’ve heard of you." Mister Dou said expressionlessly. "Clearwater City is a water elemental city and the path you followed is, after all, a subdivision of water, so this city is a good place for you to unleash your potential."
"You flatter me." Jiu Gui took out a long table and placed the wine pot and cups on top. Without raising his head he said, "Would you like to try some, Mister Dou?"
Mister Dou answered coldly, "No need."
Jiu Gui wasn’t angry. He laughed cheekily, "Then I’ll help myself."
At that he poured himself a cup and took a mouthful of it, his face appearing intoxicated. "This is life!"
Old Dou remained aloof, his expression the same. He did not get angry because of Jiu Gui’s unruly behavior. Elementalists turned Masters were all outstanding characters and had all kinds of temperaments. When one became a Master, being able to follow one’s heart was the most important principle.
He asked in a deep voice, "I wonder what plans Assembly of Patriarchs has in mind?"
The Assembly of Patriarchs had dispatched two Patriarchs, but the others’ elemental energy waves were also exceptionally stable and calm. They were all extremely capable elites. The Assembly of Patriarchs’s power was indeed noteworthy.
Jiu Gui pointed at Autumn water without lifting his head. "Ask her."
Autumn Water laughed before adding, "I’ve got to ask Old Dou about the rules. Master Yang is crucial to us. I wonder what relationship you two share?"
As if he hadn’t heard the later part of her sentence, Mister Dou said faintly, "My rules are simple. We already have four Masters, so no fancy moves are needed. We can meet them head on. Venerable Volcano moves solitarily and hence is not a cause for concern. Plus, we can sabotage the cloud defense layer now. Those people below are all chickens and dogs."
As if he hadn’t caught Mister Dou’s words, Jiu Gui helped himself to the drink, his face filled with enjoyment. Only a trace of bright light that flashed across his hazy eyes made his extraordinariness apparent.
Autumn Water smiled delicately. "That’s a good way. That Ai fellow is in seclusion so that’s not an issue, but you have forgotten about Miss Shi. She’s a tricky one. I’m worried since you’ve been unable to take action. It’s not easy to avoid offending the Shi family and the Gong Residence.
Mister Dou kept quiet. Autumn Water had nailed his Achilles heel.
Indeed, he had no wish to offend the Gong residence or the Shi family. The Gong residence was a better choice, since Gong Peiyao did not have much combat strength and killing a consecrated Master wasn’t going to be a problem. On the other hand, trouble ensued if anything happened to the Shi family’s lady, Shi Xueman.
Shi Beihai was a division leader and in a position of power. Plus, Shi Xueman’s master was Grandmaster An Muda.
News of An Muda’s decline had long been spreading all over every city, but as long as he was still alive no one dared do anything to Shi Xueman.
A Grandmaster at his last breath was still a Grandmaster.
They were all Masters, but they had no confidence in defending themselves from a blow dealt by a dying Grandmaster.
Old Dou threw the ball into Autumn Water’s court. "What should we do?"
Autumn Water smiled charmingly. "From what I can see, Gong Peiyao is the way to go. Shi Xueman is simply too capable and she isn’t weaker than a Master. It will be tricky. Things might blow up if we actually go for her instead, and we don’t want any injuries or even deaths. Ai Hui is her old lover so she will protect him with her life. I heard she’s standing guard outside the meditation room Ai Hui is recuperating in. Tsk tsk, how affectionate."
She added, "By comparison, Gong Peiyao is a much easier target. As long as someone lures Venerable Volcano away, won’t Gong Peiyao just be at arm’s length? She grew up with Shi Xueman and their families share a deep relationship, so Shi Xueman will definitely compromise and hand over the formula of snow lava. We’ll return Gong Peiyao to them afterwards. Isn’t it perfect?"
Mister Dou muttered to himself for a bit before setting his mind onto this plan. He asked in a cold voice, "When do we move?"
Autumn Water’s big, watery and bright eyes flickered. "They’re tired from their journey and are going to rest and continue tomorrow night. What do you think?"
Mister Dou nodded. "Okay! Tomorrow night it shall be!"
As soon as he finished his sentence his face changed. He turned his neck swiftly and looked toward the walls outside the courtyard. In a stern voice he shouted, "Who is it!"
There were a few potted plants on the walls.
Mister Dou waved his cane in the direction of the walls and the potted plants shattered instantly.
Amid the shattering, a pea-sized yellow body landed and jumped over the walls.
The faces of those present changed completely. They’d actually failed to detect a spy and leaked such a crucial discussion!
Everyone was cursing inwardly and the walls turned into fine powder.
Yet, that pea-sized yellow figure was nowhere to be seen anymore.
Being knowledgeable and experienced, Mister Dou called out sharply, "It’s a sand puppet! It mustn’t be far. Take one direction each! I’m going east."
In such a critical moment, Autumn Water did not hesitate at all. "Jiu Gui, west. I’m going south. You guys go north. Kill every sand puppet and earth elementalist you come across."
The drunk look on Jiu Gui’s face vanished and everyone started dispersing.
Autumn water flew up and toward the south.
In an alley about half a mile north from Li Clan Enterprise, the red glow in Lou Lan’s eyes flickered as if he’d sensed something. Then came a pea-sized mini Lou Lan pouncing onto him.
The pea-sized Lou Lan shouted, "Bad guys are here, run quick!"
Lou Lan extended his palm and grabbed onto pea sized Lou Lan, effectively merging it into his body. With a flash of his eyes he immediately retrieved the information from before.
A few figures appeared overhead.
The red glow in Lou Lan’s eyes flickered and Lou Lan’s body melted like snow and seeped into the ground in the blink of an eye.
A few light rays exploded in the spot where Lou Lan had just disappeared but there was nothing in the big pit that formed from the explosion.
Whoosh. Autumn Water appeared by their side and asked gloomily, "Where did he escape to?"
"Into the ground."
"Thinks he can escape just like that?" Autumn Water gave a bitter grin, her face ice-cold.
There was a bronze lantern in her hand.