Li Yundong glanced towards the door at the sound of three sharp knocks. He was just about to wrap up his packing.
Crap. Was it 8 AM already?
"Just a sec!" he yelled, returning his attention to his backpack.
The knob turned, and the door creaked open. Li Yundong looked up sharply and saw Zi Yuan poking her head in. He didn't even want to know how she managed to open the door, which he was pretty sure was locked from the inside.
Zi Yuan strode in casually, shutting the door behind her. "The car's ready to leave. What's taking you so long?"
Li Yundong sighed and pointed at three objects on the bed. "These."
Zi Yuan stopped at the edge of the bed and studied the three objects he'd laid on top of the folded blanket.
Li Yundong watched Zi Yuan's expression carefully. He didn't know how she would react to him being in possession of these magical objects.
Zi Yuan's eyes roamed over the objects. Her expression was inscrutable, though she did frown a little when her eyes traveled over the two orb-like beads.
She bent down and picked up the red, leather whip.
"The Ophidian Whip," Zi Yuan said, pulling the whip taut. "A Yin-based weapon capable of magic from the Fire element." Zi Yuan studied the whip using the sunlight streaming in from the window. Suddenly, she turned away from the whip and met his gaze. "Where's the other one? It's supposed to come in pairs."
Li Yundong gave her a sheepish look. "I destroyed it." He shrugged. "Sliced it in half."
Zi Yuan looked a little surprised at that. "Sliced it in half? You mean with…"
"Yeah…" Li Yundong nodded. "With one of the mudras."
Zi Yuan turned back to the whip in her hands and studied it for a moment. "It matters not." She started coiling up the whip. "In terms of strength, I'd place the Ophidian Whip somewhere in the middle on the power-scale. But in the right hands, it can become a formidable weapon." She lay the whip back onto the bed. "Keep it. It might come in handy."
Li Yundong sighed in relief. Minutes after Li Yundong had begun walking away from the base camps, Dorjee Tenzin ran up to him with those weapons, insisting that he take them with him. Dorjee Tenzin thought it would be a bad idea to leave those weapons lying around for someone else to find. He said that those magical weapons would endanger the lives of those who found them, especially if the people who found them were non-Cultivators. Li Yundong had agreed to take them because he thought Zi Yuan would know what to do with them. He didn't expect that she would ask him to keep them.
Zi Yuan was already walking away from the bed. She didn't even spare the beads a second glance.
"Wait, what about those beads?"
Zi Yuan stopped in front of the door and turned around. "The Beads of Gore are evil in nature. I wouldn't use it lightly." Zi Yuan glanced down at her watch. "Come on. We have to go."
The door closed, leaving Li Yundong alone in the room.
He looked towards his backpack again.
Time to go home.
Ao Wushuang stepped into the condo's elevator, carrying bags of Dongwu City's finest delicacies in one hand. With her free hand, she pressed the button for the nineteenth floor.
The doors slid shut and the elevator started rising.
Ao Wushuang might not have any culinary skills to speak of, as that ungrateful disciple of hers so often reminded her, but she could still put good food on the table. Not that Chan'er had ever overtly expressed gratitude to Ao Wushuang for catering to her dietary needs. The closest thing to appreciation Ao Wushuang had ever gotten out of Chan'er was an offhanded: "Ooh! That's as good as Yundong's beer duck stew!"
Ao Wushuang didn't even know what beer duck stew was.
A soft ding announced the end of her elevator ride. Ao Wushuang strode out after the doors opened, then made a beeline towards the apartment she had leased two months ago. One thing nice about Dongwu City was that it was easy to look for Cultivation-friendly accommodations. Then again, the entire Dongwu City was Cultivation-friendly to begin with.
A few men leered at her along the way, but she ignored them. She wondered if those puny men would still look at her the same way if they knew that she could turn them into a pile of ashes with a mere flick of her finger.
Ao Wushuang made a sharp right turn and arrived at a long hallway, the end of which lay her and Chan'er's shared lodgings.
That idiot girl better still be busy training when she returned, or else…
Ao Wushuang had some qualms at first about leaving Chan'er alone while she went out to buy food. If it weren't for the fact that Chan'er had a lot of training to catch up on, Ao Wushuang would've brought Chan'er out with her just so she could keep an eye on her.
But still, Chan'er had been super obedient and acquiescent after learning about the Heir's success in passing the Zhuji phase. She'd even made a bit of progress in her training.
Ao Wushuang pushed the door open and strode into the apartment. She turned and headed straight for the old-fashioned square table beside the living room.
"Chan'er! Dinner time!" Ao Wushuang yelled, setting the bags onto the table.
Yeah. That's right. They should hurry up and get dinner out of the way. After all, Ao Wushuang had tons of research to get back to. She'd made some progress in coming up with a solution to the Heir's conundrum. Finally! After two months of endless research and brain racking.
Her idea was ingenious, and she couldn't wait to work out all the details. First, she had to do some calculations, and then run a simulation using a projection spell…
Ao Wushuang shook herself before she became so engrossed in her thoughts that she forgot about everything else, like Chan'er's current whereabouts, for instance.
"Chan'er! Hurry up! Dinner's ready!"
Ao Wushuang frowned. Usually, Chan'er would come running out and cheering at the mere mention of food—even though the food wasn't prepared by her beloved Yundong.
Ao Wushuang crossed the large expanse of the living room and headed towards Chan'er's bedroom. The door was still closed.
Surely that silly girl wouldn't run away again after Ao Wushuang had threatened to renounce her discipleship if she pulled another escape stunt. Ao Wushuang stood in front of the bedroom door for a moment. Then, she looked towards the front door. Chan'er's shoes were still neatly placed on the shoe rack.
Ao Wushuang turned around to face Chan'er's bedroom door again.
Maybe she was just in a deep meditative state. Ao Wushuang turned the door knob slowly and pushed the door gently lest her entrance disrupt Chan'er's meditation.
It turned out that her worries were unfounded because the room was empty.
Ao Wushuang stormed into the room. "Chan'er!"
A small note sat on top of the meditation cushion beside the foot of the bed: Master, I'm just going back to take a quick look at him. Just a quick look. I'll be back soon!
Ao Wushuang growled. Red flames rose from her palm, burning the note to ashes.
"You idiot disciple! You really think you can escape from me?"
Ao Wushuang did a hand sign.
Shadow Mist! Wisps of mists floated up from the ground. Ao Wushuang quickly switched to another hand sign. Shadow Dance! Under the cover of the mist, Ao Wushuang moved to a corner of the room and waited. Seconds later, the mist thinned out, leaving a clone of her right where she'd been standing before she moved.
"I'll get you for this, Chan'er!" her clone yelled.
A second later, the door opened and her clone stormed out.
Smirking, Ao Wushuang stood at the corner of the room and waited.
About a minute later, Chan'er crawled out from under the bed.
Ao Wushuang shook her head. How Chan'er had managed to fit herself under that bed was beyond Ao Wushuang.
Oh, you think you're so clever, Chan'er.
Insolent girl. Clearly, she had forgotten who her master was.
Chan'er cheered and jumped around a few times. "Hehehe! Master… Now you can't end my discipleship even if I go out," she whispered to herself. "Because this won't count as me sneaking out! I'm just going out to look for my beloved Master because I'm such a loyal disciple!"
Ao Wushuang had to bite the inside of her cheek to stifle her laugh. Heavens bless this girl and her infinite cuteness.
"Hmm. Should I bring something for Yundong…? Nah. I'll just go and take a quick look as promised…"
Ao Wushuang rolled her eyes. Enough was enough.
Ao Wushuang did a hand sign. The mist thickened and drifted towards Chan'er's back before falling away to reveal Ao Wushuang's full form.
"Nice try, Chan'er…" Ao Wushuang reached out to pinch Chan'er's Shentang. "But that's not enough to fool—"
Ao Wushuang's eyes widened when her finger went through Chan'er's shoulder blade instead of touching it. Then, Chan'er's figure faded into nothingness.
A talisman fluttered in the air and landed on the floor.
Ao Wushuang bent down and picked up the talisman. It was a standard cloning spell, an inferior version of the Shadow Dance that required a talisman to work.
Ao Wushuang flipped the talisman over and look at its back, where a large smiley with its tongue stuck out was drawn.
A simple line was written under the smiley face: Gotcha, Master! Hehehe!
A ball of fire erupted from Ao Wushuang's palm and engulfed the talisman.
"You insolent disciple!!!"