People came out of their trance only to discover that Zither Master's boat had quietly retreated. It had left behind a big vacant space.
"This… Miss Jun! Miss Jun!" They gazed at her foolishly as they shouted. It seemed as if they were going to pursue her, and bring her back.
Jun Lu Lu spoke in a somewhat tranquil yet indifferent tone from the boat's prow, "Pardon me. Zither Master is withdrawing from this time's 'Match of the Three Masters'."
People were left dumbstruck as the huge boat leisurely departed.
[Withdrawing… is she quitting?]
"What's the point of continuing anyway?" Diwu Qing Rou snorted and said, "Who won and who lost… is quite obvious! Who needs the testimony of these aristocratic families?! It is unbearably vulgar of these hundred thousand commoners to gather here to see the three masters. How is this any different from the competition between top courtesans in a brothel?"
The people of the aristocratic clans were left speechless after witnessing this; even Great Zhao's top ranked influential people didn't dare to reply.
"She is just pretending to be noble; aloof from politics and materialistic desires — that's all," Transverse Flute Master coldly snorted.
"Oh? Could it be that you consider yourself superior to her?" Diwu Qing Rou said in a somewhat resentful manner. He could faintly understand the mentality of the Zither Master, [She finds it beneath herself to participate in this class of a battle!]
[That's the reason she left.]
[The opposition has left already, and you are still chirping like a trivial insect. It seems like you don't have enough self-awareness. Are you still not convinced that you are not at her level?]
"I wouldn't dare to think like that. She is truly better than me," the Transverse Flute Master said in a matter-of-fact tone. "It's just that this type of high and mighty attitude is not good."
"You will also become like that if you ever reach this height," Diwu Qing Rou sighed softly. "This is an entirely different domain… it's quite lonely at the top."
"The 'Match of the Three Masters' will die without a sickness since the Zither Master has left already!" The Transverse Flute Master said while biting her lips.
"She is not a worldly person — unlike you!" Diwu Qing Rou lightly said, "You should be happy."
Transverse Flute Master sighed and said, "Prime Minister, you have arrived here at this time. Is there any command for me?" She had obviously understood the meaning behind Diwu Qing Rou's words. [It is better to finish it like this rather than doing it in front of ten thousand audiences. One can at least show a bright face on the outside… as if you have not been defeated. However, no one will be able to swallow the pain of defeat on the inside.]
"I want to know about this man," Diwu Qing Rou pointed to the portrait lying on the table. "Tell me all that you know about him… Speak about the whole matter — with all the details regardless of their relevance."
His voice revealed a command that could not be defied.
"This person… I know very little about him. I found out about him for the first time when he ruined the Flute Master's performance. I began to find more about him from then on. I discovered that he had been staying in this Lotus Lake for quite some time," the Transverse Flute Master said as she slowly recalled.
"Had been staying in the Lotus Lake for quite some time… " Diwu Qing Rou said rubbing his temples. The expression in his eyes was as deep as the sea.
The Transverse Flute Master continued to speak slowly.
Meanwhile, Diwu Qing Rou constantly calculated and speculated in his heart… then rejected his speculation… only to do it all over again…
About ten possible individuals who matched the profile would crop up in his mind. He would then eliminate them one by one.
Diwu Qing Rou had already managed to come up with two frames of thought in his mind by the time the Transverse Flute Master finished speaking.
First frame: [If this person is the Master of the Nine Tribulations Sword, then… what is his objective to come here? Why did he stay in Lotus Lake for so long?]
[This person showed up at Lotus Lake. He later fought with Young Master Yu, only to return here again… There must be a reason… ]
[Could it be that there is something in this Lotus Lake… which has attracted him to this place?]
Second frame: [Who is likely to do so if not the Nine Tribulations Sword Master? Who could it be? Could it be… the King of Hell Chu or his people?]
[But no matter which possibility it is; this Lotus Lake is definitely the key point…]
Diwu Qing Rou's heart was reflecting intensely. However, there was tranquility on his face.
Transverse Flute Master had been looking anxiously at Diwu Qing Rou ever since she had finished talking. She didn't dare to utter a word out of the fear of disturbing Diwu Qing Rou's chain of thoughts.
Diwu Qing Rou appeared like a majestic mountain that she was unable to climb at present. He could crush her to death with just one move.
"That's all?" Diwu Qing Rou opened his eyes and asked, "Is there anything else?"
"That is all," the Transverse Flute Master said lowering her head. She had said everything. She had even spoken about her own attempt to steal the zither. She had not expected to speak about this humiliating matter initially. However, she found herself incapable of hiding anything under Diwu Qing Rou's firm gaze.
She had no choice but to tell everything.
"En… I wish to give you a few words of advice since you have been honest." Diwu Qing Rou said slowly, "If you want to save your life… conceal your identity, and leave the Continent Centre as soon as possible. The farther you go… the better it would be… the more remote… the better."
"Why?" The Transverse Flute Master's face was deathly pale, and her mind was a complete blank. She was simply a girl from an influential family of musicians who had been fortunate enough to participate in the 'Match of the Three Masters'. She had decided to use any means possible in order to become famous in a stroke.
She wanted to become famous so that she could stay in the Continent Centre. Moreover, she could have the opportunity to form associations with influential elites after becoming famous. This would gain her fame and achievements throughout her life.
She just wanted a lot of public attention.
The price she had paid as a woman, in addition to her own efforts, to achieve this was too high.
Hiding her identity and leaving the Continent Centre… wouldn't it be wasting a lifetime worth of efforts?
"Why not?" Diwu Qing Rou said calmly, "You must bear the burden of the disaster you have brought upon yourself! Your safety won't be guaranteed if you don't leave. In fact, it is difficult to say whether you'll be able to save your life even if you go right now!"
He stood up to leave after he finished speaking.
"Please! I beg you, Prime Minister! Show me the right path!" Transverse Flute Master said falling on her knees.
"There are some people you just can't offend!" Diwu Qing Rou said, "Even if the thought has not been implemented… it is a crime in the eyes of some people. They would certainly kill you!"
"It appears that Prime Minister is talking about… the matter of stealing the zither?" the Transverse Flute Master asked looking deathly pale.
"Correct… " Diwu Qing Rou said slowly, "There are some people you just can't offend! The most important thing while walking the Jiang Hu is — do not provoke a person that shouldn't be provoked… or it would not end well."
Then, Diwu Qing Rou disembarked the boat and left.
Transverse Flute Master was dazed. She staggered back two steps and fell on a chair. Her body felt powerless. She felt as if she could not stand anymore. She had never thought that the Zither Master actually held an influence which was simply beyond her imagination; despite being one of the three Masters like herself.
Could there be such a big disparity between two people?
Diwu Qing Rou had just gotten off the boat when he saw Young Master Yu coming in his direction. He sighed in his heart. Then, he moved forward and said in a welcoming tone, "Brother Yu, what a surprise! You haven't left yet!"
"I still have some matter to attend to." Young Master Yu said lightly, "It has nothing to do with you."
"Something has happened, hasn't it?" Diwu Qing Rou said indifferently.
"She must be punished for her intentions!" Young Master Yu stopped in his footsteps, and turned silent. Then, he asked, "Do you wish to protect her?"
"No." Diwu Qing Rou said, "I was just asking her for something. It can be considered that this task will be done in order to assist me. However, I won't stop you if you wish to make a move."
Lives of people like the Transverse Flute Master were of no consequence in the eyes of these two individuals. It wouldn't matter to them even if a thousand such lives were lost.
Young Master Yu snorted and said, "Diwu Qing Rou, I won't kill her since she is the only person who plays the transverse flute. I guess we might as well just give you credit for this one. However, we Bamboo people will be staying here for some time."
"You mean you want me to look after you?" Diwu Qing Rou smiled, "The Bamboo people want me to look after them?"
Young Master Yu laughed and said, "This Great Zhao is yours… it is Diwu Qing Rou's domain. These were the words said by you."
Diwu Qing Rou also gave a cold laugh.
A person arrived before them as they laughed.
"His name is Jun Qing Yang." Young Master Yu said in a relaxed manner, "Brother Diwu, it's ok; be relieved. Haha…"
Diwu Qing Rou also laughed. He saw that Jun Qing Yang was about forty years old. His hair was somewhat frosty with hardships. The look in his eyes, as well as his skin color, showed that this person had been a part of some stories.
And… some of them must have been painful.
The turbidity in his eyes could raise a person's appreciation towards life.
[This person's status in the Dark Bamboo Clan mustn't be low.] Diwu Qing Rou's heart raised this notion and he nodded politely. However, he also had a strange feeling in his heart, [This person seems awfully familiar… ]
"Brother Jun… have we met before?" Diwu Qing Rou asked cautiously.
"Prime Minister Diwu, I can recall that this is the first time that I've come to the Lower Three Heavens," Jun Qing Yang's voice was awfully strange. It sounded as if metals were rubbing against each other.
"No wonder… so it's King Level Master Jun," Diwu Qing Rou was relieved.
Jun Qing Yang was an important member of the Bamboo Clan; he was a King level expert. This man had been severely injured when he was young. His throat had been slit, but luckily he didn't die. However, his vocal chords were entirely destroyed. His voice began to sound strange after his injury got better. People who heard his were absolutely terrified.
He was known as the 'Demon-Voiced King Level Master' in the Middle Three Heavens' underworld.
Diwu Qing Rou knew about this person, but had never come across him. He recognized him after hearing his voice, [It is impossible to find a similar voice anywhere under the heavens!]
"Prime Minister can call me Demonic-Voiced." Jun Qing Yang smiled and said, "Anyways, people have been abusing me by calling me by 'this' name for several decades… "
"Haha… " Diwu Qing Rou laughed. The doubts in his heart disappeared as he said, "King Level Master Jun has arrived in person. It seems that he needs something to be taken care of!"
"He was recently injured. His cultivation is somewhat damaged because of that… " Young Master Yu said frowning. "Therefore… Brother Diwu…"
"Brother Yu, don't worry." Diwu Qing Rou said in a refreshing tone, "Others cannot dare to boast about it. But… it would be laughable… if Diwu Qing Rou's guest is hurt in this Great Zhao…"
Young Master Yu gave a meaningful laughter and said, "I believe these words."
Jun Qing Yan also laughed with a meaningful look in his eyes and said, "Then I would be troubling Prime Minister a little. I've stopped at Lotus Lake to try my luck… I've tried to find Nine Joints Lotus Root before, but I've failed. I will immediately leave Continent Center if I cannot find it here, and will go elsewhere to find it… "
Diwu Qing Rou understood completely. All the people in the world knew about the characteristics of the Nine Joint Lotus root — it was used to treat vocal injuries. The Demonic-sounding King Level Master wouldn't say it from his mouth, but he was very much concerned about his voice.
"No problem! I will send a group of people to provide assistance!" Diwu Qing Rou smiled.
These three people smiled at each other. However, only their hearts knew what was hidden behind each of their smiles…