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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

307 Jiang Hengchuans Invitation

 As the tune came to an end, Meng Qi stood up and walked to the other side of the abandoned yard. There were beggars and abandoned dogs staying there for shelter. He stood in the dark taking everything in until the music stopped. He kicked a stone at the abandoned dogs, causing a round of loud barking sounds.

The noise was loud, traveling far in the dead of night. Meng Qi and the dogs stared at each other as though they didn't want such beautiful music to end.

This was the other part of their code. When she finished playing, he would cause loud barking sounds to signal that everything was fine on his side too.

When the dogs stopped barking and everything was quiet again, Meng Qi left the yard to return to his own place.

...

The next day, Meng Qi and Jiang Hengchuan roamed the North Street to try and discover anything strange or unusual.

Compared to the past, there were barely any kids playing on the street. There were even fewer street merchants.

"Snake King is the kingpin assassin, so the powerful families usually turn a blind eye. But this time he has colluded with the heartless Heterodox Doctrines. That's unforgivable." Jiang Hengchuan said, describing what he had heard from Green-ribbon Arrester Dai Fei.

So should they uproot all of the Snake King's power? Meng Qi thought of all the young children they kidnapped to train into assassins and all their suffering. "What about the assassins and their disciples?"

Jiang Hengchuan pondered for a while before saying, "Those who could remember where they came from would be sent back. The Six Fan School could train the rest as arresters. Some of those who had bloodied their hands would still end up in the school while the rest would be split between Han Sanniang and Head Keeper Luo."

Meng Qi thought silently that those kids would, of course, be doing illegal deeds. After all, Snake King's training was pretty decent...

They ended up not finding anything unusual. When they were on their way back home at nightfall, Meng Qi suddenly stopped in his tracks. He saw some graffiti-like marks left behind on an unsuspecting spot. Its shape was unusual, like the petals of an orchid.

He continued to walk home. When he finished his usual chores, he went to a nearby restaurant for a meal and drinks. He didn't leave until deep into the night and wandered the streets as if he was basking in the bustle and flourish of Maoling.

He suddenly switched directions in the middle of the crowd as if he was trying to shake off someone tailing him. He entered the alley lined with Chinese Pagoda Trees.

The sculpting elder had long shut his gates. Meng Qi didn't bother him but headed straight for the yard that he had avoided the last time.

As he climbed over the fence, a ray of sword light flashed like a comet flying across the sky and lit up the darkness. It was so fast that only residual shadows remained, similar to Xiao Zhenhai's Aurora Electric Sword!

He drew his Heaven Inflicted Pain too. The blade energy flashed and the Thunderbolt Python came alive. The heavy blade was so fast that it seemed like it was weightless.

As the blade and sword clashed, the long sword disappeared as though it was drawn. The whole phenomenon didn't make sense.

"Not bad. You're very vigilant," a crisp voice said. Jiang Zhiwei stood in the middle of the yard, looking lovely with her yellow robe fluttering with the breeze.

Meng Qi sheathed his blade and smiled. "I just knew you'd greet me in this manner."

The mark left on the alley was also their signal. Jiang Zhiwei was to leave a mark as soon as she entered the city and they would meet in this yard.

"Really? Did you spent so much time with Ledgerkeeper of Lives that his nagging has rubbed off on you?" She joked, sheathing her sword as well.

Meng Qi laughed. "We've known each other for quite a few years. What kind of friend would I be if I can't even figure this out?"

"Quite a few years..." Jiang Zhiwei looked at him and couldn't help feeling a little melancholic. She waved her hands and said, "Yes. Back then, you were quite a bit shorter than me. But you're already taller than me now."

"Never mind these details..." Meng Qi was a little embarrassed.

After a brief chat, Meng Qi steered their conversation to more pressing matters. "Zhiwei, you should head out to the Da Jue Temple tomorrow and find an opportunity to 'befriend' Yushu."

As someone who had supposedly never met Ruan Yushu, he couldn't just ask her and her family for favors after their first encounter. That would be too suspicious. It would make more sense if Jiang Zhiwei acted as the middle person.

Jiang Zhiwei too was an outstanding woman of her generation. She wasn't only the heir of a large sect, her master was also powerful and respected with a clean background. She was the type of person any disciple of an aristocratic family would love to befriend. So it was natural for Ruan Yushu to be close to her even if they had just met. That would only please the Ruan family. By then, if she asked the Ruan family for help, they would only be too happy to do so.

"Okay," Jiang Zhiwei answered with a smile. "I never thought I'd have to befriend her again. When is Senior Brother Qi arriving?"

"He's a bit too far, so he might not make it in time." Meng Qi added seriously, "Oh, there's another thing. You have to help me tail someone over the next few days."

"Who?" Jiang Zhiwei suddenly seemed excited.

"Xiao Zhenhai, the Aurora Electric Sword," Meng Qi replied, and then told her about Snake King, Old Zhong, and his other encounters.

Jiang Zhiwei gently nodded. "It does seem suspicious."

"I'll draw the attention of the men behind this and you can follow Xiao Zhenhai in the dark. There's no way they'll be able to see this coming!" Meng Qi clenched his fist. "I'm going to give those schemers a surprise!"

Seeing his competitive nature, Jiang Zhiwei couldn't help laughing.

...

Over the next few days, Meng Qi continued to roam the North Street with Jiang Zhiwei. When he said he would draw their attention, it didn't mean that he would show himself in the Su Garden. That would just arouse the suspicion of Master Wang and the perpetrators! As the saying went, a ghost was always behind every weird phenomenon.

Another fruitless day passed. Meng Qi had just returned to his rented home when he heard someone knocking on his door.

"Brother Jiang, have you made a new discovery?" The visitor was Jiang Hengchuan. It was odd as they had just met half an hour ago.

Jiang Zhiwei looked around vigilantly before speaking through Secret Voice-sending, "A friend from the North Street told me that he had just seen Qiu Fei."

"Qiu Fei?" Meng Qi didn't expect to find him here.

"Yes. Though he tried to disguise himself, those on the North Street have sharp eyes. Since I had asked them to keep an eye out, they instantly recognized him." Jiang Zhiwei remained calm but he could tell she was somewhat excited.

Meng Qi had revealed a big secret of the Life-changing Sect, so he wanted to eliminate any possible future trouble. He asked, "Where did he go?"

"My friend found out that he went to the Jin River bank, but didn't dare to get too close to him. How about we go over and check it out?" Jiang Zhiwei proposed.

Meng Qi didn't object and the two headed for the Jin River bank.

"I was told he went that way," Jiang Zhiwei said, pointing at the woods, "before disappearing."

"Did he notice he was being followed?" Meng Qi frowned.

Jiang Zhiwei couldn't give a definite answer.

There were plenty of marks left by kids playing in the woods. The two of them took extra care in searching for any trace.

Jiang Zhiwei suddenly stopped and pointed at the shadow of a tree shadow. "Look over there."

Meng Qi looked over and saw a clump of weeds, one of which had turned yellow as if it had prematurely withered. Yet it was different as the clump of weed still showed a hint of green.

"It has been infected with Yin Qi... This is the work of the Life-changing Sect..." Meng Qi inhaled. "They've indeed passed this place."

The two of them continued their search but found nothing else. Apart from the strand of grass, all other traces had been wiped clean.

On the other side of the woods was the Jin River. There was a large gray rock on the river bank.

Jiang Zhiwei's expression changed as if she was in deep thought.

Since it was getting dark, they had to stop their search.

When he returned to the entrance of the alley, Meng Qi once again saw the graffiti-like marks left on an unsuspecting spot. So he decided to go to the yard where he met Jiang Zhiwei last night.

She didn't draw her sword this time. Instead, she was caressing the body of her sword while sitting cross-legged.

"When I was following Xiao Zhenhai, I found out that he went to see someone..." she said, not mentioning the difficulty of following Xiao Zhenhai or his cunningness.

Meng Qi's eyes lit up. "It was him? Interesting... Zhiwei, I'll have to depend on you on this matter. Please be discreet."

"I'll handle it. I'm now quite 'familiar' with Yushu so I should be able to ask the Ruan elders for help. But I'll bide my time and see what he wants first," Jiang Zhiwei replied.

Meng Qi nodded. "You've given this more thought than I have."

...

The Tidal Bore of Jin River would be here in two days.

In the dead of night, Jiang Hengchuan once again knocked on Meng Qi's door.

"Brother Jiang, to what do I owe the honor at this time of the night?" Meng Qi asked, arching an eyebrow.

Jiang Hengchuan rarely showed signs of hesitation, but after pondering for a bit, he finally said, "Brother Su, I wanna invite you to check out the Dongyang Villa with me."

He once again changed the way he addressed Meng Qi.

"Dongyang Villa?" Meng Qi asked with the appropriate amount of surprise.

Jiang Hengchuan nodded. "Yes, that's the chance I was talking about. Two hours before the Tidal Bore of Jin River arrives is the opportunity to enter the villa. Qiu Fei and the Devil would definitely not let this chance go. They would use powerful allies to open the villa first before going in for the kill themselves. I'm just a Rogue Cultivator. Though I have many friends, few possess any real strength. Those that do all have powerful backgrounds and any mishap would draw uninvited forces."

"Brother Su, you possess the strength of a top 10 ranked master. If we team up, then we could rival the Devil, Qiu Fei, and the Life-changing Sect. More importantly, I trust that you wouldn't invite Exterior-level powerhouses."

"You lost your cultivation after leaving the Shaolin Temple, so you shouldn't let this kind of opportunity slip."

He was brutally honest. Since Meng Qi didn't have any background, there wasn't any chance of a dog-eat-dog battle between Exterior-level masters. Clearly, he didn't give Meng Qi the opportunity to find other help.

"The Devil is vicious and powerful enough to go, but Qiu Fei has been struck quite a few times already. What if he doesn't get involved?"

Jiang Hengchuan laughed. "Do you know where Qiu Fei is hiding right now?"

"You know?" Meng Qi asked in surprise.

He nodded. "I knew the moment I saw him appearing in the woods with the men of the Life-changing Sect. He's hiding in the villa. Though no one can enter the inner villa, the outer villa can still be accessed."

"The large green rock?" Realization suddenly hit Meng Qi.

"That's right," Jiang Hengchuan answered definitely. "So, there's a chance to open the inner villa tonight. Are you with me?"

After a moment of hesitation, Meng Qi answered, "I'm in."

Having vowed not to hurt each other after getting into the inner villa, they went to the green rock on the riverbank.

Jiang Hengchuan's eyes searched the surroundings like he was making sure there wasn't anyone following them.

He suddenly exhaled and took out something green. It resembled the texture of gold, wood, and jade yet it wasn't quite like any of those elements. It looked more like a part of something whole.

When this object touched the large rock, rays of light spread out and lit up the surroundings.

"Grab my robes. You won't be able to get in without the fragmented piece of the Dong Yang Stamp," Jiang Hengchuan instructed.

"This way, even if Master Wang and his men came, they could only watch..." Meng Qi wearily grabbed Jiang Hengchuan's shoulder and they "collided" with the giant rock together.

Blue light flashed and the world around them spun.