Qiang Wanzhou froze. “I’ve always placed it like this.”
Always? Chu Liuyue understood what he meant right away. “That person does this too? S-she likes doing this too?”
“What a coincidence.” She raised her brows upon hearing his affirmative reply. While there are many people who like playing chess and drinking tea, very few people like to put a cup of ginger tea beside the chessboard. At the very least, I’ve never met anyone who has the same habit as me. Not only do we have ‘Yue’ in our names, but that person also likes having a cup of ginger tea next to their chessboard. There really is some affinity between Qiang Wanzhou and me.
The ginger tea was still relatively hot, with wisps of white smoke coming out from the cup. Its faintly bitter and spicy fragrance felt especially refreshing. As she slowly rubbed the teacup with her fingers, she suddenly found herself being somewhat curious about that person Qiang Wanzhou missed so much. If she’s still alive… It’d be interesting to meet up with her.
Qiang Wanzhou was a little distracted as he fell into deep thought. It took a while before he snapped back to his senses when Chu Liuyue called him. “Pardon?”
Chu Liuyue repeated herself. “I said that we should go and rest up for the day before we head to Chong Xu Cabinet tomorrow.”
Weichi Song had left a long time ago, leaving Ye Ranran behind to help them with anything they needed. This was why Ye Ranran also stayed there for the night.
Even though the Chu Residence wasn’t as large as the Mu Residence, it was still spacious enough to accommodate a few people.
While Ye Ranran left Chu Liuyue’s room not long after, Qiang Wanzhou stayed behind as he seemed to have something to say to her.
Chu Liuyue walked over to him with a smile. “Feel free to ask me any questions you have.”
With his back facing the door, the sunlight from outside spilled into the room and onto his soft and luscious blond hair. His ears appeared transparent, and his face’s contours were outlined in the dazzling sunlight. Although his features appeared unclear in the shadows, his eyes sparkled with a mysterious light. He was silent for a long time before he quietly asked, “Have you ever been to Nan Jiang?”
Chu Liuyue shook her head. “No.”
Like a candle flame that was extinguished, the light in his eyes went out immediately. For some reason, the sight of this made Chu Liuyue’s mood sink as if there was something weighing down on her heart.
“I got it.” With that, Qiang Wanzhou turned to leave. Just as he took a step forward, he paused and whispered so softly that his voice was almost gone with the wind. “Say, could she have forgotten about me?”
There was none of his usual aloofness or stubbornness in his tone. At that moment, Qiang Wanzhou was akin to a helpless child who had lost his direction and didn’t know where to go. Deep loneliness enveloped him as his thin body—which was hidden in the rough and oversized clothes—swayed.
“How is that possible?” said Chu Liuyue gently as she looked at his figure. “There’s no way she’ll forget such an obedient and outstanding boy like you. If she knows that you’re looking for her, she’ll definitely come to find you too.”
Qiang Wanzhou fell silent for a long while before saying, “You’re right; she won’t forget me. Without me, who’s going to help her brew tea and smoothen the chess pieces?”
His voice became much firmer as if he was trying to convince someone.
“She won’t forget me.” With that, he left without so much as a head turn. His hasty departure made it seem like he was worried about getting chased.
Chu Liuyue’s lips moved, but she ended up swallowing the words at the tip of her tongue. This is his own business after all. Once we settle down, I can perhaps help him look for her.
She stood there in place for a while before she entered her room and began refining pills.
Now that she had broken through to become a stage-four warrior, she was now officially a fourth-grade heavenly doctor. This made refining pills a lot easier for her than before.
After refining three pills, she began meditating. She only stopped to lie down and rest after circulating her force for three Heavenly Cycles.
She had a peaceful sleep that night.
Early the next morning, Chu Liuyue, Qiang Wanzhou, and Ye Ranran set off for Chong Xu Cabinet, which was located at Qing Yuan Mountain.
Xi Ling City was huge, with mountainous ranges located inside and outside the city. Since the major sects were all based at different and distant locations, things were usually peaceful.
Located in Xi Ling City’s northeast corner, Qing Yuan Mountain was rather special due to it being an isolated mountain peak. It was a good place for cultivation as the mountain was filled with dense force.
When the trio arrived at the mountain’s foot, Chu Liuyue noticed that something was amiss. There used to be a powerful barrier enveloping Qing Yuan Mountain, but though the barrier still existed, it had noticeably become a lot weaker than before. Thus, she couldn’t resist saying, “Something seems… strange about the barrier.”
“Huh? Oh, you’re talking about the barrier! It wasn’t like this in the past; it got destroyed a year ago when someone forcibly broke into Chong Xu Cabinet. It wasn’t easy for the Cabinet Master and the elders to repair it, but maintenance requires a lot of manpower and resources. Chong Xu Cabinet is in a difficult situation now, so… That was all we could do.” Upon seeing the complicated look on Chu Liuyue’s face, Ye Ranran hurriedly added, “Don’t worry though. It might not be as powerful as before, but there won’t be any danger with the Cabinet Master and the elders guarding Qing Yuan Mountain.”
Only Ye Ranran would be so frank about this. Chu Liuyue smiled wryly at that. Thinking about it, if it weren’t due to dire circumstances, there’s no way that a sect wouldn’t properly maintain its most basic defense barrier. It looks like Chong Xu Cabinet’s situation is worse than I thought.
“It’s fine; I’m just a little curious since this is my first visit. Let’s keep going! The Cabinet Master and the others must be waiting for us.”
Ye Ranran didn’t question her. She simply continued leading the way.
There was only a stone path up the mountain, which extended from the mountain foot all the way to the top. Chu Liuyue and Qiang Wanzhou followed her on this path.
After walking for a short distance, Chu Liuyue suddenly stopped in her tracks. The step below her feet had a smidge of dried, dark-red blood and looked like it had been there for some time. Her pupils shrank slightly as she shifted her gaze to the side of it.
In its surroundings were huge patches of bloodstains, which had become darker over time. With things like dust and stones covering them, one wouldn’t be able to spot them if they weren’t looking closely enough. Nevertheless, these bloodstains showed how fierce the battle was when it took place here.
We’re only at the mountain foot though… Her heart thumped slightly. I wonder what sort of scene will be awaiting me at the peak. Whoever managed to deal such a huge blow to Chong Xu Cabinet—which once stood at the peak—must be really terrifying!
With a deep inhale, she retracted her gaze and continued making her way up.