"The Fox Zen School?" Li Yundong didn't even bother to hide the surprise in his voice. "The Fox Zen School is trying to assassinate me?"
"Now hold your horses." Zi Yuan's stern voice was accompanied by sharp raise of her palm. "That weapon could've been stolen from the Fox Zen School for all we know." She paused and him a pointed look. "We shouldn't jump to conclusions."
"But Elder Sister Zi Yuan, none of this makes any sense," Ruan Hongling protested. "You were attacked as well."
"Yes I was," Zi Yuan said without taking her eyes off Li Yundong. "Though I am beyond certain that the real target is him."
Li Yundong sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I agree. The first shot was clearly meant for me." He looked towards Zi Yuan. "You were only attacked after you got in its way."
"Look, I know that, okay?" Ruan Hongling said impatiently. "But it still doesn't make sense." Ruan Hongling glanced at Zi Yuan worriedly. "Nobody in the Cultivation world is stupid enough to mess with a subsidiary sect of the Zhengyi School. Even if the Fox Zen School intended to attack someone from our sect, it would've been done covertly so that nobody would trace the attack back to them!"
"She's got a point," Li Yundong said, fixing his gaze on Zi Yuan. "You were able to recognize that weapon almost instantly. Why use such a distinctive weapon for a covert attack? It doesn't fit."
Zi Yuan nodded. "That's why I said we shouldn't jump to conclusions for now."
"But this isn't the first time an attempt was made on my life," Li Yundong remarked. "Something similar happened before." He paused to look at Zi Yuan. "In Tibet."
"What?" Ruan Hongling said in a confused tone. "What happened in Tibet?"
"The robbery," Zi Yuan remarked, glancing briefly at Ruan Hongling. "He was robbed."
Li Yundong gave Ruan Hongling a nod. "Someone tried to take the Fan of Seven Treasures from me."
Ruan Hongling's face scrunched up in confusion. "But a robbery is different from an assassination."
Li Yundong chuckled darkly. "Believe me, those crooks would've killed me even if I handed over the fan." He looked towards Zi Yuan. "You saw what those orbs did to me, right?"
Zi Yuan nodded.
Silence permeated the gazebo.
"I knew it." Li Yundong sighed heavily. "I knew something was wrong with the Fox Zen School." He looked towards Zi Yuan again. "I told you back in Tingri—"
"I've already looked into that," Zi Yuan said. "And I'm fairly certain that the robbery was an isolated incident."
Li Yundong blinked several times. Okay… what?
"But those two knew I had the fan."
Zi Yuan shook her head. "Robbery isn't the Fox Zen School's MO. Theft is more their style." Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling shared a look with one another. A moment later, Zi Yuan's eyes were back on him. "Besides, stealth is the Fox Zen School's forte. If they really wanted to steal the fan from you, it would be much easier to do it when you were trying to pass the Zhuji phase." Zi Yuan paused to let her words sink in. "You were sitting inside that rock alone, and you were in deep meditative state." Zi Yuan raised her brow. "Why bother taking the fan from you by force when they could literally just walk up to you and then take the fan from you without you even knowing it."
"Also, I don't think the Fox Zen School would hire someone to do the job," Ruan Hongling added. "The Fan of Seven Treasures is such a treasured weapon. I certainly wouldn't trust anyone but myself to handle it. I mean, what if the hired help decided that they wanted the fan for themselves?"
For a long while, Li Yundong didn't speak.
"What's on your mind?" Ruan Hongling asked, interrupting his thoughts.
He looked up and saw both Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling staring at him worriedly.
"And… Um…" Ruan Hongling pointed at something above his head. "You might wanna…"
He glanced upwards and was surprised to see his backpack floating above his head. He had been performing Qi Kinesis all this time, and he wasn't even aware of it.
The backpack floated down towards the stone table.
Li Yundong cleared his throat and shook his head slightly. "Sorry about that."
Zi Yuan waved off his apology.
"You seemed pretty out of it for a moment there," Ruan Hongling commented.
Li Yundong sighed. "Yeah, I know. I was just… I was thinking back to the fight with those two robbers from the Yin Yang Sect." He looked towards Zi Yuan. "And I think you're right."
Zi Yuan's eyes narrowed slightly. "Is there something else that you haven't told me?"
"No, that's not it." Li Yundong shook his head. "It's just… Well, I thought that Lyu Fengping and Wu Hao's attack seemed a bit reckless." Li Yundong glanced at Ruan Hongling. "They even tried to murder a monk from the Esoteric Sect. A guardian sentinel or something."
Ruan Hongling gasped. "What?!"
"It's a long story." Li Yundong gave the girl a wry smile. "But the point is, the attack doesn't seem like a premeditated attempt to take me out. It was too reckless."
Zi Yuan nodded. "If the goal was to assassinate you, they would've killed you while you were attempting to pass the Zhuji phase." Zi Yuan held his gaze. "Most likely those two noticed you while you were in Tibet. Perhaps they recognized the fan from afar. I know you were careful, but they might have a sharp eye."
Li Yundong sighed. "Bad luck, then?"
"More like an eventuality," Zi Yuan said, pausing to study his face for a few seconds. "Cultivators frequent that area, you see." She arched a brow at him. "That's why I warned you to minimize human contact the moment you passed Tibetan borders."
"Okay. Let's say the robbery is an isolated incident. But what about tonight's attack?" Li Yundong said, then paused when another thought occurred to him. "Wait. But Ao Wushuang… Ugh. None of this makes sense!" He gripped his hair and started pacing around the gazebo. "If the Fox Zen School wanted to assassinate me, then why didn't Ao Wushuang just kill me that night? She had so many chances to end my life, but she didn't. Hell, she even helped me! And then there's also the question about the Fox Zen School's motive. Like, what was the assassination even about? What possible reason could the Fox Zen School have for wanting me dead? Was it because they thought I stole the Fan of Seven Treasures? But Su Chan was the one who gave me the fan!" Li Yundong stopped pacing and swiveled around to face Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling. "Unless..." His eyes narrowed. "Ao Wushuang and Su Chan had acted independent of the Fox Zen School?"
Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling suddenly looked at each other.
Li Yundong narrowed his eyes further and moved away from the edge of the gazebo towards the two women.
"What is it?" Li Yundong said warily.
Zi Yuan looked at him strangely. "Su Chan never told you?"
"Told me what?" Li Yundong half-growled.
So they were back to this shit again: him being a clueless idiot who didn't know the whole story.
"Ao Wushuang was kicked out of the Fox Zen School ten years ago," Ruan Hongling said in a grave tone.
Li Yundong's eyes bugged out. "What?"
Ruan Hongling nodded. "She was expelled. And she probably took Su Chan with her when she left."
"So the Fan of Seven Treasures was never in the Fox Zen School to begin with," Li Yundong said as the pieces began to fall into place. "Ao Wushuang took it with her when she left the school. That's why Su Chan had it."
"Most likely," Zi Yuan said with a nod.
Ao Wushuang? Expelled? What the hell?
Li Yundong cleared his throat. "I see."
Zi Yuan let out a soft sigh. "I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I have a feeling that there's some kind of connection between that incident and our shibo's sudden visit to the Fox Zen School nine years ago."
Ruan Hongling nodded. "Before she went missing, shibo went to the Fox Zen School specifically to see Ao Wushuang."
To settle a score, apparently.
"Wait, but that was nine years ago," Li Yundong said, narrowing his eyes. "Ao Wushuang was expelled ten years ago. She wasn't even there when your shibo arrived."
"Yeah, but my shibo didn't know," Zi Yuan said.
Li Yundong strode towards the stone table, then sat down on the stone bench in front of the table.
Chan'er... Are you alright? Are you safe?
Seconds later, Zi Yuan came over and sat down beside him.
Li Yundong looked beyond the gazebo, gazing at the darkness surrounding them. A wry chuckle escaped his lips. How fitting: here he was, completely in the dark, both literally and figuratively.
A light touch on his shoulder made him glanced sideways. Zi Yuan was looking back at him with concerned eyes.
"Don't worry about this for now—"
"How can I not worry?" Li Yundong stood up abruptly. "Su Chan is there at the Fox Zen School as we speak. If someone inside the school has evil agendas—"
"What?" Zi Yuan said in surprise. "Su Chan is at the Fox Zen School?"
"Yeah...?" Li Yundong narrowed his eyes. What's with that reaction?
"So that's where qianbei was going..." Zi Yuan whispered.
What? So Ao Wushuang never told Zi Yuan where she went?
I thought those two were in close contact with each other.
"Su Chan and I communicated with each other a few days ago with the paper crane," Li Yundong clarified, hoping that Zi Yuan would reveal more information to him.
"The paper crane..." Zi Yuan's eyes slid shut, and there was a look of realization on her face. "I was wondering how your attacker managed to find you here in Tiannan City. Now we have the answer." Zi Yuan opened her eyes to look at him. "The paper crane. Someone must have intercepted the paper crane after Su Chan sent it out."
"Well that fits," said Ruan Hongling all of a sudden.
Li Yundong shot her a questioning look.
"Uh... Hello?" Ruan Hongling said. "The attack?"
Ruan Hongling made it sound like her point was obvious.
Well, it wasn't.
Li Yundong frowned and shook his head.
"Oh, come on." Ruan Hongling rolled her eyes. "You were exchanging love letters with Su Chan. What if the person who intercepted the crane is from the Fox Zen School?"
"So, what, they decided to assassinate me just because I'm in a relationship with Su Chan?"
"Rumor has it that there's a power struggle within the Fox Zen School," Zi Yuan said. "The senior members of the school don't really get along with each other. I heard it's been going on for years."
"Because they all wanted to take over the school at some point," Li Yundong observed.
Zi Yuan nodded. "The official story behind Wushuang-qianbei's expulsion is that she did something to taint the Fox Zen School's good name."
"Like they had any good name to begin with," Ruan Hongling mumbled.
"What exactly did she do?" Li Yundong asked, ignoring Ruan Hongling's comment.
"I don't know," Zi Yuan said, shaking her head slightly. "I was still pretty young back then, so I didn't know much about the stuff that was going on in the Cultivation world until much later." Zi Yuan sighed. "But even in the official story, they kept it very vague. Not much detailed was revealed."
Li Yundong walked towards the bench and sat down beside Zi Yuan. "But you think there's more to the story." He stared at Zi Yuan for a few seconds. "You think they're lying."
Zi Yuan's eyes darted to his. "No one knows for sure. But there are a few rumors making such claims."
Li Yundong turned slightly in the bench so that he was facing Zi Yuan fully. Even Ruan Hongling seemed to be listening to Zi Yuan with rapt attention.
"These are just rumors," Zi Yuan said emphatically. "It's best if you two take them with a grain of salt."
Zi Yuan shot Ruan Hongling a pointed look immediately after she said that.
Li Yundong smiled when he saw Ruan Hongling's blush.
"Some claimed that there's a hidden agenda behind Wushuang-qianbei's expulsion," Zi Yuan said.
Realization washed over Li Yundong. "Because she was the best of them." He closed his eyes and sighed. "So they wanted her out. They wanted to eliminate the strongest competitor."
Zi Yuan nodded grimly. "Maybe Wushuang-qianbei did do something, who knows? But kicking a Cultivator out of her own school? That's an extreme measure."
Li Yundong rubbed his forehead. "And if Ao Wushuang did something so scandalous that it warranted her expulsion, everyone in the Cultivation world would likely know about it." He looked towards Zi Yuan. "And yet nobody knew. Nobody knew what Ao Wushuang did. Not even you."
Zi Yuan nodded. "Exactly." She sighed. "Well, in any case, those are just rumors. Only Wushuang-qianbei herself knows the truth. I don't think Su Chan knows either."
Ruan Hongling snorted. "I doubt she would be sending you paper cranes if she knew."
Li Yundong stared at Ruan Hongling for a moment, wondering what she meant.
Understanding came seconds later.
"They think I'm Ao Wushuang's ally," Li Yundong said. "So the attack tonight is their way of eliminating the help."
"You yourself said that Su Chan is back at the Fox Zen School now," Ruan Hongling commented. "Think about it from their perspective. Ao Wushuang and her disciple suddenly return to the school ten years after being kicked out? And then her disciple was communicating with someone outside the school?" Ruan Hongling shrugged. "It all fits."
"Still just a theory," Zi Yuan said, rising to her feet. "I suggest we don't cloud our minds with these assumptions until we know more."
"Why not just visit the Fox Zen School and be done with it?" Ruan Hongling said in an offhand tone. "The answers are all there, aren't they?"
"And send the Heir to his death?" Zi Yuan raised her brow. "That is unwise, Hongling. Remember that we still have no idea what's really going on." Zi Yuan jerked her chin towards Li Yundong. "He was attacked by one of Fox Zen School's most lethal magical weapons tonight. And you're suggesting that we bring him right to their doorsteps. You might as well kill him right now."
"Nobody said he has to come," Ruan Hongling challenged.
"What, and leave him here on his own like a sitting duck?" Zi Yuan shook her head grimly. "No, Hongling. I need to be here to guard him. You might not know this, but the Threaded Hairpin of Traversing Soul is a highly dangerous weapon. When wielded properly, it can turn completely invisible. It's one of the best assassination tools out there." Zi Yuan pointed a finger at Li Yundong. "He would've died tonight if I wasn't here. He doesn't stand a chance."
Li Yundong cleared his throat harshly. "Um... Will you two please stop talking as if I'm not sitting right here?"
Zi Yuan's features softened. "I apologize." Then, she looked away and sighed. "It's just... Tonight was a close call. Imagine what would happen if you were sitting alone inside your apartment tonight instead of being at the performance. What if Hongling had decided not to give her calligraphy performance? Then I wouldn't even be here at all..."
Li Yundong sighed, not knowing what else to say.
"I didn't even see the attack coming," Zi Yuan said after a few moments.
"Still," Li Yundong said. "You saved my ass. Thank you."
Zi Yuan nodded. "Don't mention it."
"Do you think Su Chan will be okay?" he asked tentatively.
"If it's any consolation to you," Zi Yuan said, "Wushuang-qianbei is there."
Li Yundong nodded. "Have you heard from her recently?"
"No," Zi Yuan said. "She specifically warned me not to make contact with her shortly after your return from Tibet." Zi Yuan paused. "Now I know why."
Li Yundong nodded and decided to let the subject drop. There was another question that he needed answers to.
He turned around and picked up Liuhe from the stone table.
There was a niggling suspicion at the back of his mind regarding the sword's behavior tonight. The sword tried to kill him as soon as the hairpin showed up, just like how the Fan of Seven Treasures had tried to attack Feng Ji back at the canteen. But the latter made sense because the fan must have sensed Feng Ji's malicious intention towards him back then and was just trying to protect him.
But what about Liuhe?
Back on the stage, Liuhe had acted as though it was trying to protect its owner from him. But Liuhe's owner was Zi Yuan's shibo, someone who had been missing for nine years. Was Zi Yuan's shibo here tonight? But wouldn't Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling have noticed it if their own shibo were close by?
Besides, how could he harbor malicious intention towards a woman he'd never even met?
"Zi Yuan...?" Li Yundong's eyes went from the blade to Zi Yuan.
The whispered conversation between Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling came to a halt.
"You said that your shibo visited the Fox Zen School nine years ago..." Li Yundong paused in thought. "And then she went missing after that?"
Li Yundong sat down on the bench and laid the sword over his lap.
What if this Mo Ahshi person killed Zi Yuan's shibo and then somehow claimed the sword? That would explain why the sword began attacking him immediately after the hairpin made its appearance, wouldn't it? Maybe Mo Ahshi was the owner of the sword before he erased her spiritual signature just now, and the sword tried to stab him because he was harboring malicious intent towards the hairpin, which was essentially Mo Ahshi.
Zi Yuan's soft voice pulled him out of his thoughts.
He cleared his throat and looked towards Ruan Hongling. "Nobody has touched the sword since your shibo left it at the Yan family home?"
Ruan Hongling shook her head.
"You're sure about that?" Li Yundong asked.
"Our shibo asked us to keep an eye on it," Ruan Hongling said defensively. "So, yes. I'm sure."
Li Yundong raised his brows. "And yet you seemed surprised when Yan Hua brought it here tonight."
Ruan Hongling blushed.
Li Yundong raised his brows higher. Even Zi Yuan was staring at Ruan Hongling now.
"Okay. Fine. I was..." Ruan Hongling cleared her throat. "I... I may have been avoiding the Yan family home." She shot a tentative glance at Zi Yuan.
"Ah. I see." Li Yundong chuckled. "I guess that's understandable."
It wouldn't take a genius to figure out what (or rather, who) Ruan Hongling was trying to avoid. Although Li Yundong had only known Yan Hua for a few days, he was repulsed by the guy already.
But that was none of his business.
His business had to do with the sword and its ownership at the time of the attack.
He stole a glance at Zi Yuan. Her shibo didn't bring the sword with her when she visited the Fox Zen School. But was it possible for Mo Ahshi to sneak into the Yan family home without anyone noticing and then somehow claim the sword as hers?
Stealth was the Fox Zen School's forte, right?
Something still didn't add up.
Why didn't the sword attack Zi Yuan? Zi Yuan was fighting the hairpin as well!
Then, another thought hit him.
What if it was the other way around? What if Zi Yuan's shibo had stolen Mo Ahshi's hairpin during her visit to the Fox Zen School and then made it hers? Which would mean that Zi Yuan's shibo was the one controlling the hairpin tonight. And, of course, it meant that Zi Yuan's shibo was still the owner of the sword during the attack earlier. That would explain why the sword never tried to attack Zi Yuan—why would Zi Yuan's shibo attack her own people?
So far, the second theory fit most of the facts.
But still, it begged yet another question: what was the motive behind the attack?
Why on earth would Zi Yuan's shibo want to assassinate him? They didn't even know each other for f*ck's sake! Was this about the Renyuan Jindan again? Or was there something bigger at play here?
Li Yundong stole a glance at Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling, who appeared to be having their own private discussion. Li Yundong sighed and studied the sword in his lap.
Li Yundong had the impression that Ruan Hongling and Zi Yuan respected their shibo a great deal. They would definitely not take it well if he so much as insinuated that she was a thief and possibly a killer.
There was, of course, a third possibility: that Mo Ahshi and Zi Yuan's shibo were in cahoots with each other, working towards some unknown scheme.
Maybe "settling a score with Ao Wushuang" was just a smokescreen, an excuse for Zi Yuan's shibo to visit the Fox Zen School (to meet with Mo Ahshi) without rousing suspicion. After all, who in their right minds would leave one of their most powerful weapons at home when they were off to fight a Cultivator as powerful as Ao Wushuang?
The third possibility would also explain the apparent discrepancy in tonight's events. Maybe there were two attackers tonight. Maybe Zi Yuan's shibo decided to step in and finish the job when Mo Ahshi failed to kill him with the hairpin the first time. Maybe that was why the sword never attacked Zi Yuan, because Zi Yuan's shibo was controlling it.
Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling seemed to be wrapping up their private discussion at another corner of the gazebo. Ruan Hongling nodded at something Zi Yuan said, then they both walked over to where he was sitting.
Li Yundong cleared his throat.
"Do you mind telling me more about your shibo?" he said in a casual tone. Then, he chuckled. "I mean, I don't even know her name."
Zi Yuan sat down beside him. "Yan Fang. That's my shibo's name. Code name, the Eventide Reaper."
Li Yundong shifted on the bench. "The Eventide Reaper?"
"That's what everyone in the world of Cultivation calls her," Ruan Hongling supplied.
Zi Yuan smiled. "The one who harvests the clouds of the evening sky. That’s the meaning behind the code name."
Li Yundong took a deep breath and decided to go for it.
"Do you think Yan-zhenren was close by tonight?"
A palpable tension spread between them. Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling looked at each other awkwardly.
Moments later, Zi Yuan sighed.
"That's what Hongling and I were discussing just now. We—"
"Shibo would definite show herself if she came back!" Ruan Hongling snapped. There was a look of defiance in her eyes, which was glassy with unshed tears.
Zi Yuan sighed tiredly. "Hongling..."
"Doesn't she know how much the Linggong Sect is being oppressed right now?" Ruan Hongling continued her rant. "Our sect is on the verge of collapse! We are about to be overthrown! We've been bullied ever since Master—"
Ruan Hongling stopped herself and turned away.
Li Yundong glanced at Zi Yuan, whose expression seemed as calm as ever. The only sign of her distress was the clenched fists in her lap.
Ruan Hongling cleared her throat. "Shibo isn't here. She hasn't... She hasn't returned. She would never abandon the sect."
"She might be right, you know?" Li Yundong offered.
Both women's gaze snapped to his.
Right. It wasn't every day that they got to see Li Yundong agreeing with Ruan Hongling.
He shrugged and said, "This sword is hers, right? And I took it from her. Wouldn't she come running the moment I claimed it?"
Ruan Hongling's eyes widened slightly.
There it was again, that look.
The same look on Ruan Hongling's face before Zi Yuan arrived: the look of awe and reverence.
"That is what I did, right?" His eyes travelled from Ruan Hongling to Zi Yuan before settling on Ruan Hongling's face again. "That's what you told me back on the stage. You said I claimed it." He raised the sword and studied it for a bit, then looked towards Zi Yuan. "But what about the awakening? Isn't there supposed to be a ritual? It didn't happen just now."
Zi Yuan held out her palm. "Give me the sword for a sec."
Li Yundong complied.
Zi Yuan took the sword and close her eyes for a few seconds.
"Hmm..." Zi Yuan opened her eyes. "It hasn't fully recognized you as the owner yet."
"It hasn't?" Ruan Hongling said in surprise.
Zi Yuan glanced at the younger girl. "No."
"Oh," said Ruan Hongling.
"Shibo's spiritual signature was gone, though," Zi Yuan said, looking at Li Yundong in awe. "Completely wiped clean."
"In just a few minutes no less..." Ruan Hongling whispered. "Amazing..."
"Forces beyond our control, Hongling," Zi Yuan said, her brows quirking as she gave Li Yundong a pointed look. "Forces beyond our control." Zi Yuan held out the sword to Li Yundong. "Do you want to keep it? It's yours if you keep channeling your Zhenqi into it."
Li Yundong considered the offer.
"Is that wise?" he said after a moment. "That sword is Yan-zhenren's signature weapon. Wouldn't other Cultivators recognize it if I walk around with it? Besides..." Li Yundong jerked his chin towards his backpack, from which the Fan of Seven Treasures was jutting out. "My hands are kinda full."
There was a small smile on Zi Yuan's lips when she retracted her hand and placed the sword on her lap.
"The Jindan's Heir indeed," Zi Yuan said, shaking her head in disbelief. "It's becoming more and more obvious now why you were chosen."
Li Yundong frowned. "I beg your pardon?"
"Most Cultivators would die to own this," Zi Yuan said, tapping the scabbard with her fingers. "If you were one of them, then you would've taken the sword out of sheer greed when I offered it to you earlier." Zi Yuan sighed and schooled her features. "Look, I meant what I said earlier. I think this sword came to you for a reason."
"Yeah. To murder me," Li Yundong mumbled.
"Or to seek out a worthy wielder," Zi Yuan said, her tone stern despite the smile on her face. "The sword will be in my care for now. It is a waste to leave it idle at the Yan family home." Zi Yuan looked towards Ruan Hongling. "We have to face the reality that shibo might not return to us, Hongling." Zi Yuan turned towards Li Yundong. "The sword is yours whenever you're ready to wield it."
Li Yundong sighed. "If it's okay with both of you, then sure."
For several minutes, the gazebo remained silent except for the sound of crickets.
"What about the Fox Zen School?" Li Yundong asked, breaking the silence. "Shouldn't we look into the matter?"
"Not we." Zi Yuan gave him a withering look. "I will look into it. And you, need to focus on your training." Zi Yuan sighed and gazed into the darkness surrounding the gazebo. "I still need a bit of time to complete the design of your training drill, but it's almost ready."
Zi Yuan gave him a slight nod. "To prepare you for the divine punishment." Zi Yuan stared at him for a moment. "The sooner you survive the divine punishment, the sooner you can advance into the higher phases of Cultivation. Even if the Fox Zen School is really in trouble, there's nothing you can do to help unless you've passed the Shentong phase. You'll be dead if you charge in now. Or worse, you'll be giving your weapons away to the enemy for free."
Right. The Fan of Seven Treasures. And the Jindan as well.
Li Yundong nodded. "Let me know when the drill is ready. In the meantime I'll just keep doing what I've been doing—go through the Orb Fortification cycle every day to strengthen my Vital Orb."
"Good." Zi Yuan turned towards Ruan Hongling. "Hongling."
"Yes, elder sister."
"Return to Mount Longhu immediately." Zi Yuan gave Ruan Hongling a meaningful look. "You know what to do."
Ruan Hongling nodded. "Yes. And I will do my best, elder sister."
"Good. Be sure to take my golden seal with you."
Zi Yuan nodded regally, then stared out into the darkness.
"Let's see what the Fox Zen School is really up to."