Lu Zhiyao hurriedly waved his hands. “That’s not the main reason, actually. Even though we did suffer heavy casualties, it wasn’t so serious… Because the sect was on the decline, the Cabinet Master felt that their futures would be affected if he forced them to stay. Thus, he issued a dismissal order. Those who no longer wanted to stay in the sect could receive a sum of money from him to leave. Although some of them did leave at that time, most of the others only left during the past year or so.”
While it was too dogmatic to say that those disciples had no feelings for Chong Xu Cabinet, it was true that the sect was no longer how it used to be.
Even so, things weren’t so bad that Chong Xu Cabinet had to dismiss their disciples. Chu Liuyue fell silent for a moment. “That’s not the only reason, right?”
Lu Zhiyao felt conflicted and hesitant as to whether to explain things to her. She’s a smart girl. It doesn’t seem appropriate to hide things from her, but if I tell her everything… What are we going to do if she wants to leave too?
Ye Ranran—who could no longer keep silent—whispered, “You have no idea, Liuyue. The Cabinet Master did this for their own good… For the past year or so, our disciples have been getting ostracized and targeted by people… They couldn’t properly cultivate at all…”
Chu Liuyue understood what she meant at once. “Someone is out to get Chong Xu Cabinet?”
Ye Ranran and Lu Zhiyao exchanged looks with one another before nodding their heads.
Who has such a great influence in Xi Ling? wondered Chu Liuyue with knitted brows. No matter how I think about it, it still comes down to those same few people… “Is it the Third—”
“Liuyue, Wanzhou, you’re here.” Before she could finish her question, Weichi Song and Elder Xia Yi had come out of the hall.
Upon seeing the two of them, the latter’s eyes lit up as he immediately strode over while carefully sizing them up. “Tsk, tsk! You’ve really brought back two good and rare seedlings this time, Cabinet Master!” I didn’t quite believe him previously, but now that I’ve seen them myself, I can finally put my mind at ease. For the past year or so, not even the average cultivators are willing to join our sect, much less the talented ones. It’s truly a miracle that we have two young talents with Dijing Yuan meridians joining the sect at the same time!
Wrinkles formed on Weichi Song’s aged face as he laughed. “I told you that you’d definitely like them after seeing them. These two had the best performance at this year’s Wan Zheng Competition!”
Both Chu Liuyue and Qiang Wanzhou paid their respects to them. “Greetings, Cabinet Master, Elder Xia Yi.”
Elder Xia Yi chuckled and couldn’t resist asking, “Is it true that both of you chose Chong Xu Cabinet of your own accord?”
Chu Liuyue resisted the urge to laugh as she replied, “Of course, it is.”
Even after hearing that answer, Elder Xia Yi still found it somewhat incredulous as he stroked his beard.
“You can have a tour of the place first. After you gain a certain understanding of our sect, you can then decide who you want as your master,” said Weichi Song as he walked over to them. After a pause, he told them with feigned nonchalance, “There were several elders to choose from in the past, but now… There’s only Xia Yi and me left!”
Chu Liuyue nodded her head with slight regret. “Thank you, Cabinet Master, Elder Xia Yi.”
Thereafter, Lu Zhiyao and Ye Ranran showed her and Qiang Wanzhou around the place.
Chu Liuyue had been here many times in the past, but now that she was here again, things had become very different. Battle traces could be seen everywhere, and a lot of things had been destroyed. Although a year had passed, she could still tell how tragic that battle was.
She felt uncomfortable as if she had something weighing on her heart as she toured around the place.
Almost all of the tens of thousands of books in Chong Xu Cabinet’s library were taken away, all of which were extremely precious prescriptions and martial art skills. Even their treasured herbs had been looted, and none was left behind.
All they had now was a medicinal garden that they had just started growing recently. Even though they had planted a number of herbs, many of them took a hundred years to grow. The herbs in their garden had only been planted for a year, so it would be a long wait before they could get their hands on those herbs.
Looking at the medicinal garden, Chu Liuyue hesitantly asked, “Senior Lu, when you previously said that I could ask for any herbs that I need… Were you referring to these herbs?”
Lu Zhiyao scratched his head in embarrassment. “U-uh… Even though these herbs can’t be used for the time being since they’ve only been planted recently, you can still state your requests. We’ll do our best to fulfill your needs!”
“D-do you mean to say that you’ll buy them from the market?” Chu Liuyue fell into deep thought. She had this suspicion that these people might not even be able to afford the herbs for their own refinement. “Most of the people in Chong Xu Cabinet are heavenly doctors, so there should be a place here dedicated for herb-growing. How come this medicinal garden is new?” I’ve taken plenty of herbs from Chong Xu Cabinet in the past, but why aren’t they mentioning that garden?
Lu Zhiyao sighed. “You’re right, Liuyue. We used to have a large medicinal garden in Chong Xu Cabinet, but after what happened… The medicinal garden was destroyed. Not only were the herbs damaged, but even the land itself became damaged and barren. The current medicinal garden is one of the few clean places we have on Qing Yuan Mountain now.”
“How did that happen?” Chu Liuyue frowned. Just who was so ruthless toward Chong Xu Cabinet? It’s no wonder Weichi Song was driven to that state! It’s no wonder so many disciples left! Who would continue staying here when things have become like this?
The mention of this matter dampened Lu Zhiyao and Ye Ranran’s spirits considerably, and everyone fell silent.
After a brief silence, Chu Liuyue asked, “I’d like to take a look at the old medicinal garden, Senior Lu.”
Lu Zhiyao was taken aback by her request. “Why would you want to go there? There’s nothing to see when it’s just a piece of barren land now. Besides, the Cabinet Master has ordered us not to go there without permission.”
A hint of disappointment surfaced on Chu Liuyue’s face.
Blinking, Ye Ranran whispered, “Senior Lu, let’s just take her there since she wants to see the garden! It’s no big deal since she’ll just be taking a look.” Given how much the Cabinet Master adores Chu Liuyue and Qiang Wanzhou, I’m sure he won’t punish them if he finds out about this.
After much hesitation, Lu Zhiyao finally nodded in agreement. “Alright! But you mustn’t act on your own when we’re there. We’ll come back right after taking a look.”
Chu Liuyue nodded at once. “We’ll do as you say.”
The four of them thus went on another path and headed for the old medicinal garden.
Since there were very few people left in Chong Xu Cabinet, they didn’t meet anyone on their way there, which was to Lu Zhiyao and Ye Ranran’s relief. In fact, the further they went, the more desolated the place was.
Ten minutes later, they finally arrived at the old medicinal garden.
“There it is,” said Lu Zhiyao as he pointed to the barren land in front of them.