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67 Transformation Strategy

 North-South Pass was the courtyard behind the shopfront. Meng Qi was sitting in the shadow of its cornice, looking at Wu Cheng's bedroom.

After leaving the letter in You Tongguang's study, Meng Qi rushed through the night to North-South Pass shopfront at North Water Gate of the city to monitor Wu Cheng's every move.

With the Snow God Palace destroyed for decades, the remaining disciples passed on their secrets discreetly from one generation to another. They were experienced secret keepers, so Meng Qi believed he was likely to create a commotion if he entered and interrogated Wu Cheng the same way he did to Jin Ancheng. There were probably other people from the clan nearby spying on Wu Cheng. Once they felt something was off, they would inform others and cut off all communication. Perhaps Wu Cheng kept poison in his mouth and commit suicide at a critical moment to keep his secrets...

Given the circumstances, Meng Qi decided to first try other methods first before resorting to force.

So in the afternoon, Meng Qi used Dark Clouds Cover the Top and Certain Misfortune to scare Wu Cheng on purpose. Since the Snow God Palace claimed to be descendants of the gods and wanted to break the boundaries between man and gods, they were bound to believe in immortals, gods, destiny, and other things. They would be more superstitious than the average people. If they encountered curses from a strange monk', they would be anxious and uneasy whether or not they believed in it.

Under such circumstances, Wu Cheng would likely seek some psychological comfort to soothe his anxiety, such as worshiping the snow god or looking for a clan superior to relieve his bad luck.

Of course, he based his assumption based on the beliefs advocated by the Snow God Palace and the inheritance that developed into heresy, as well as the clues Duan Xuangfei provided. He did not have complete confidence in his plan, but he would try something else if there was no reaction from Wu Cheng.

The black clouds covered the moon, leaving only faint light spilling on the ground amidst darkness. Relying on his eyesight linked with his condensed six acupunctures, he was able to forcibly see Wu Cheng's bedroom.

After a long time, a slight squeak caught Meng Qi's attention. Wu Cheng was opening the window, cautiously looking around, and gently nodding at someone diagonally across him.

Diagonally across? Meng Qi's heart leapt and followed Wu Cheng's sight to see the door of the wing room slowly open.

So there really were people from the Snow God Palace spying on Wu Cheng, and just on the opposite side. He had no idea how many were hidden there... He became glad that he did not recklessly capture Wu Cheng.

Wu Cheng jumped out of his window and landed light on his feet. His martial arts skills were pretty good. He flashed into the wing room, quietly closing the door behind him.

There was neither candle light in the wing room nor any sounds coming from within. It was as if it was just an empty room.

Meng Qi was about to examine the room when he remembered Fei Zhengqing had dug a tunnel. He had a sudden understanding of the situation. Thus, he did not jump into the courtyard, but looked around to observe the nearby ones.

Fei Zhengqing must be afraid that the tunnel would be discovered. The selected route must be short with a focus on not alerting anyone of its existence. This wing room was near two west-side courtyards. Obviously the tunnel would not run through its own courtyard towards the east and north ones. Otherwise, he might as well have chosen the east-side courtyards or the north-side ones as the tunnel entrance.

Meng Qi was sure that the tunnel entrance must be in one of the two west courtyards. Even if the Snow God Palace was cautious, the entrance could not be any further than in the west-side courtyards. Luckily, he had the time to inspect them one by one.

He had not thought about directly entering the tunnel to tail Wu Cheng because he suspected there were others from the clan spying on this wing room. If he went in without careful consideration, he might alert the enemy.

Standing up, Meng Qi quietly entered one of the west courtyards under the cover of the night.

Moments later, Meng Qi decided that the courtyard belonged to an ordinary family based on its conditions. He sneaked into the other courtyard, listening for movements inside with his ear against the roof tiles.

From time to time, he heard the sound of breathing that was deliberately lowered and gradually felt relieved.

Due to the proximity of the wing room to Wu Cheng's courtyard, Meng Qi did not need to spare much effort to hear Wu Cheng's voice.

"Thank you for your explanation, Han Shi. The tension has clouded my mind, enough to make me worry about a small monk's casual nonsense."

Meng Qi heard a slightly older voice. "Fearing God and worshiping the heaven are the foundation of our Snow God Palace. You've done nothing wrong. But you need to distinguish those who are dishonest. Alas, it's also due to our heavy loss this time. We're so jittery and the Venerable is missing as well. We can't help feeling panicked."

The Venerable had gone missing?

Meng Qi had no idea what the secret inheritance of the Snow God Palace was, but he could tell the Venerable was higher-ranked than Han Shi.

"Frost Herald, there's still no news about the Venerable..."

And then Frost Herald said coldly, "Come down, the friend on the roof."

Had Han Shi noticed him? Meng Qi received a shock. To avoid making a mistake, he did not immediately act.

Frost Herald spoke again, "The friend on the roof, you've heard that we're from the Snow God Palace. Then you must not be unaware of Transformation Strategy. I'm not talented and my cultivation isn't deep, but I have extraordinarily sharp senses."

Meng Qi knew he had exposed himself when he heard this. But he gained courage from his skills and he laughed heartily. He jumped off the roof, openly knocked at the door, and entered.

There were four people in the room. They were Wu Cheng, a hunchbacked old man, and two who seemed to be retinues flanking the elder.

"So it's you, Mr. Ennea Monkey." The elder's eyes widened in shock when he saw Meng Qi's smiling monkey mask. It seemed like he did not expect this.

He was wearing short suits, as if he was a poor, busy man on a dock.

"Transformation Strategy is truly remarkable." As if he were visiting old friends, Meng Qi closed the door at will and hit at the sleeping acupoints of the two retinues.

Frost Herald did not resist in any way. He laughed and said, "It's really wonderful, but it's not as mysterious as the rumors say. Why are you here, Mr. Ennea Monkey?"

After easily killing Jin Ancheng last night, Meng Qi estimated that his strength was limited. He decided to frankly tell them some unimportant secrets and find a chance to escape.

"I have two purposes. First, I'm here to learn about the mysteries of Transformation Strategy." This was something he made up.

Han Shi said doubtfully, "Are you planning on interrogating me about Transformation Strategy? Then you got the wrong person. I'm yet to reach the level of the Venerable, so I'm not granted the full extent of Transformation Strategy. I only know a little about it."

"You should be more knowledgeable about the effects of Transformation Strategy, no?" Meng Qi asked calmly with a smile.

Han Shi nodded. "Transformation Strategy is no stranger for anyone who is deeply familiar with the Snow God Palace. It specializes in the Primal Acupore at Mid-brows. It's a miraculous technique to open its cultivator's spirit Secret Chamber in the body. Even if the cultivator didn't succeed in the end, their spirit will be much stronger than the average person. This is why they can sense almost everything within a certain distance without seeing or hearing."

This was not a secret, but it was not information available to just anyone. It was normal for Ennea Monkey not to know about it.

The Primal Acupore at Mid-brow? The Secret Chamber of spirit? Meng Qi's interest was piqued about Transformation Strategy. He smiled and said, "So that's how you discovered me earlier."

After a pause, he cautiously asked, "If one achieves the ultimate point of Transformation Strategy, can they use their powerful spirit to produce illusions, like ghosts and gods, and leave others unable to defend themselves?"

"How do you know this?" Frost Herald replied with a question, surprised. Meng Qi showed no knowledge of Transformation Strategy earlier, but how could he know the horrors of Transformation Strategy once it was completed?

"I fought with such a figure last night. I could only hit the illusion with each strike. It took a lot of effort to force him to back off. I suspect he's the Venerable." Meng Qi deliberately revealed some information to Frost Herald to see what judgment he would make.

"Impossible! How could you push back a man who has reached the ultimate point of Transformation Strategy?" Han Shi obviously did not believe in Meng Qi's strength. But he soon recovered from his shock and thoughtfully said, "I have been handling the Venerable's province in Destiny for a long time. I still can't get touch with him and I fear he's already dead. Who you meet is likely not him. Even if it's him, his Transformation Strategy isn't to that terrifying level."

"Could it be the master of your Palace?" Meng Qi also believed that a mere Venerable's Transformation Strategy could not be that powerful. Otherwise, the disciples of the Snow God Palace would not be secretly inheriting this since a long ago.

Han Shi shook his head, visibly amused. He pondered for a moment before saying, "It might not be Transformation Strategy."

"Ah?" Meng Qi expressed his doubt with his nasally voice.

With a grim look on his face, Han Shi said, "Transformation Strategy is a powerful martial art to open the spirit Secret Chamber, but it isn't the only one. If other sects cultivated the Primal Acupore at Mid-brows and opened the Secret Chamber, they could interfere with the senses and leave their opponents making wrong estimations and false figures by himself, whether or not he has Transformation Strategy."

"Having opened the Secret Chamber..." Meng Qi thoughtfully whispered and then changed the topic. "I came here for another reason. I want to know the treasure deposits in the Snow God Palace, but now I have one more question. Why did your Venerable disappear and when did it happen?"

He did not directly ask Duan Mingcheng, but did it in a roundabout way.

Han Shi smiled bitterly again. "Those two things are actually the same. I'm not afraid Mr. Ennea Monkey will laugh at us. When our Snow God Palace broke up, the four guardians each took a Treasure Map. The treasure could be found if the four maps are put together. But as you know, it is difficult to read man's mind. In the end, there was only one guardian who would continue the inheritance of the Snow God Palace remaining. So we only have one Treasure Map."

"As for the other three maps, one is missing, one in the hand of the Living God of Wealth, and another taken by Duan Mingcheng, Mr. Leisure's son. Duan Mingcheng also coveted the treasure deposits and often contacted with us. Just as we planned to work together, the Venerable who was going to negotiate with him disappeared with him."

The map with unknown whereabouts was in Meng Qi's hands... His heart stirred as he thought this. It seemed Duan Mingcheng did go and see the mysterious man. And he disappeared with the man, not dragged away...

Of course, the descriptions from the Snow God Palace might not be true.

For the Venerable's disappearance, Han Shi sent a lot of people to look for him. But before hearing any news, Fei Zhengqing was chasing after him and he was forced to go to ground. It made it difficult for him to spy on the Venerable and he also had no clues.

Meng Qi woke up Frost Herald's retinues and inquired them again. What they said were in accordance with Han Shi's words.

Seeing there was no more information, Meng Qi slightly smiled. "Please forgive me for nagging at night. Right, I'll be leaving soon. I wonder if you can write down what you know about Transformation Strategy from memory."

He did not intend to minor in Transformation Strategy. After all, Han Shi was likely to tamper with the wording. He just wanted to know the thoughts of the cultivation of the Primal Acupore, pondering the truth in it.

Frost Herald made a long sigh and found a pen and paper to write the front part of Transformation Strategy. What he wrote was not the core chapter of it anyway.

After getting the first part of the strategy, Meng Qi quickly exited the wing room and watched the outside for two hours. He found that no one came looking for Frost Herald, but the old man did not leave either.

He repeatedly changed the directions to Jinshui Bridge.

He was about to leave the North City when a flurry of doubts appeared in his mind. Even if Frost Herald feared death, he did not have to cooperate as he did. Meng Qi need not ask too many questions and Frost Herald was already speaking without hesitation. For example, he had doubted the use of Transformation Strategy by the intruder earlier.

His heart sinking, Meng Qi travelled on the same way and once again made it back to the courtyard.

It was completely quiet in the wing room. When Meng Qi faintly felt that something was wrong, he thrust at the window paper to snoop.

The room was full of the fallen people. Frost Herald's back was against the beam, his frozen expression showing he had died.