Cao Yi was on her knees beside Mo Ahshi's corpse when Li Yundong landed in front of the temple again. None of the younger fox spirits were around, so Li Yundong assumed that Cao Yi had sent them back into the temple to recuperate.
Cao Yi rose to her feet and hurried towards him when she noticed his arrival. The woman's anxiety was written all over her face. "Li zhǎngmén!" She stopped beside him. "Did you apprehend the thief?"
Li Yundong shook his head. "Couldn't get to him in time." Li Yundong paused in thought. "I did get a good look of the thief though." Li Yundong glanced down at his recently-acquired subordinate (God, he really had to start getting used to the whole idea). "I can describe his appearance to you, if you want. Who knows it might ring a bell."
"Of course, Li zhǎngmén."
"Alright, um… it was an old dude with white hair and white beard." Li Yundong paused for a second. "His robe looked kinda strange. Weird design. Black on one side and white on the other."
Li Yundong looked towards Cao Yi. "You know the guy."
"Yes." Cao Yi's eyes were now as cold as ice. "Zheng Yuan, the Head of the Yin Yang Sect."
Something clicked inside Li Yundong's head; like a switch, triggered by the mention of that sect. Li Yundong closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead.
Yin Yang Sect. Ping'er.
The last time he saw that woman was back in Tibet when she and Wu Hao had tried to take the Fan of Seven Treasures from him. But here's the thing: she had escaped with her Yin Spirit back then; her body was destroyed when he used Acalanatha's 14th and final Mudra, the Hand of Purification.
But just now Zheng Yuan had called Ding Nan Ping'er.
A touch on his arm pulled him out of his thoughts.
Li Yundong met Cao Yi's worried gaze.
"Are you okay?" Cao Yi withdrew her hand from his arm. "Forgive my impudence, Li zhǎngmén, but you seemed a little out of it just now."
Li Yundong shook his head slightly. "Nothing… it's just…" He sighed. "I've figured out a few things, that's all."
Cao Yi frowned. "What things?"
Like the fact that Ding Nan was possessed by Lyu Fengping's Yin Spirit.
Li Yundong waved a hand casually. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it." He glanced down at Mo Ahshi's corpse, then raised his gaze again when he heard Cao Yi's dejected sigh.
"The Hairpin of Traversing Soul." Cao Yi hooked a strand of hair behind her ear. "One of the Fox Zen School's deadliest weapons." Cao Yi shook her head and let out a sad chuckle. "Gone."
"We'll get it back," Li Yundong stated firmly.
Cao Yi smiled. Then, her eyes widened. "Oh, before I forget…" She picked up something from the ground. "This is the Adamantine Chakram of Magnificence. It belonged to my shīmèi Ye Yu. But now she's…" Sadness shone in Cao Yi's eyes as her face crumpled. A moment later, she shook her head and schooled her features. "Please accept this, Li zhǎngmén. I would like you to have it."
Li Yundong took the chakram from Cao Yi and began studying the crescent-shaped weapon.
The thing was fascinating to say the least. The first feature that stuck out to him was its color; well, colors actually, since the color on each side was different: silver on one side, gold on the other. The silver side held the engraving of a beautiful Apsara, or a Flying Bodhisattva. When he flipped to the other side, a fierce-looking arhat stared back at him.
Li Yundong shook his head. "So weird." He glanced up from the chakram. "Why are its teeth on the inner edge?" He raised the chakram and showed Cao Yi the teeth he meant. "Shouldn't the teeth be on the outer edge?"
Cao Yi smiled. "There are actually teeth on both edges, Li zhǎngmén."
Li Yundong frowned and studied the chakram again. "But the outer edge looks so smooth—" Something sharp poked his flesh the moment he ran his finger along the outer edge.
Cao Yi was still smiling when he looked back up at her. "The teeth on the outer edge are invisible, Li zhǎngmén. It's one of the chakram's special properties."
Li Yundong lowered the chakram to his side and then swung it around a few times. After that, he tested the chakram's weight on each hand.
"It can cut through almost anything," Cao Yi added.
Li Yundong nodded and returned the chakram to Cao Yi.
Cao Yi didn't take it. "Um… It's yours, Li zhǎngmén," she said, looking puzzled. "Why are you giving it back to me?"
"It belongs to the school," he said, then paused.
But you own the school now, a small voice in his head added. The look on Cao Yi's face basically conveyed the same sentiment.
"I don't plan on carrying it around with me," he said.
Moments later, Cao Yi took the chakram reluctantly.
"Keep it safe along with any other weapons or magical objects owned by Grandmaster Liu." He remembered seeing some kind of special opium pipe and a huge calligraphy brush lying beside Grandmaster Liu earlier.
Cao Yi nodded. "As you wish, Li zhǎngmén."
"Good. Now I have to go," Li Yundong said, then paused in thought. "Is there somewhere I can keep the Fan of Seven Treasures safe? I won't be bringing it with me to Dongwu City." He gave Cao Yi a pointed look. "Someone might suspect that I'm not actually at the Fox Zen School if they saw me carrying it around."
"Ah. I have just the thing…" Cao Yi trailed off and pulled out a small bag from her pocket. The fabric was glowing in many different colors.
"Uh…" Li Yundong stared at the bag for a moment. "Isn't that a little small? I mean the fan is rather big…"
Cao Yi nearly dropped the bag and the chakram when she burst into giggles.
Cao Yi composed herself seconds later and cleared her throat. "I apologize, Li zhǎngmén. That was rude of me."
Li Yundong waved off the apology. Clearly the bag had some kind of magical properly that he was unaware of. Maybe its size could be altered by a spell? He'd seen Su Chan pull out the Fan of Seven Treasures from a colorful pouch the other night before they parted. But then that bag was big, so it didn't seem weird that it could fit the Fan of Seven Treasures.
Perhaps Su Chan's colorful pouch was just a scaled-up version of this tiny thing that Cao Yi was carrying?
"Please watch." Cao Yi pulled the bag's drawstring and opened the bag. Then, she brought the chakram to the mouth of the bag.
Something amazing happened.
The chakram shrank and vanished into the bag in a bright flash.
"What the heck?" Li Yundong leaned down and peered into the bag. A moment later, his head shot up. "But there's nothing inside!"
He took the bag from Cao Yi, turned it upside down, and then shook it a few times.
Nothing fell out.
Li Yundong gaped at Cao Yi, who was struggling to hold back her laughter.
Yeah. Maybe, Grandmaster Liu Ye was wrong. The Fox Zen School might be heading for its doom since it now had such a clueless leader.
Li Yundong shook his head a few times. "How does this thing work?"
Cao Yi cleared her throat. "It has its own Spirit Space." She paused. "You can put as many things into it as you like, and it would never fill up."
Li Yundong stared at the tiny pouch in his palm. "Amazing."
He handed the bag back to Cao Yi, then reached for the Fan of Seven Treasures on the ground.
"I'll leave the fan here," he said, giving Cao Yi a serious look. "Take it out if there's an emergency. It will guard you. I give you my word."
Indeed, he had already communicated with the fan earlier, and they had come to an agreement. The fan would defend the Fox Zen School in his stead while he was out looking for Su Chan. Besides, his spiritual signature was so strong that nobody would be able to steal the fan while he was away.
Cao Yi nodded and opened the glowing pouch once again.
A bright flash appeared when Li Yundong slipped the fan into the bag.
"Alright then." Li Yundong glanced at the temple briefly before giving Cao Yi a pointed look. "Don't forget to cast the spell." He tilted his head towards the temple.
Cao Yi dipped her head slightly. "Yes, Li zhǎngmén."
"Good. Guess I'm off, then." Li Yundong turned around. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Wait! Li zhǎngmén!"
Cao Yi ran over and pushed the colorful pouch into his hand. "Please take this with you."
Li Yundong frowned. "But…" He stared at Cao Yi. "The fan can protect the school."
Cao Yi shook her head. "It doesn't feel right to separate you from your weapon, Li zhǎngmén." She glanced at the temple briefly, then smiled at him. "Besides, I think your idea of using an illusion spell will work perfectly fine."
"Are you sure?"
Cao Yi gave him a firm nod. "Yes."
Li Yundong nodded and pocketed the pouch.
"Where did Grandmaster Liu say Su Chan is?"
"He told me she's in Dongwu City." Li Yundong narrowed his eyes. "And he mentioned something about a pond near the foot of Mount Qili."
"Mount Qili…" Cao Yi whispered.
"You know the place?"
Cao Yi shook her head. "I've never been there, but I think Grandmaster Liu mentioned before that Wushuang has a property nearby."
Which means he should begin his search in the apartments and condos in that area.
Cao Yi suddenly shot him an apologetic look. "I've never heard of any pond though."
"Oh, no, don't worry about it. What you told me is actually quite helpful." Li Yundong smiled. "Thank you, Cao Yi."
Zi Yuan suppressed a hiss when Hongling lowered her onto the couch. They had just arrived at Hongling's apartment in New Hongsheng District after a short flight from Mount Tianlong to Tiannan City. The journey had taken less time than Zi Yuan had anticipated. Fifteen minutes instead of twenty.
Clearly, Hongling's flight speed had improved. Perhaps it was a good idea to encourage Hongling to hang out with the Heir more. Being around him could motivate the girl to improve herself.
Zi Yuan caught Hongling's hand when the latter began fussing over her injuries again. "I'll be fine, Hongling," she said, eyeing her protégé sternly. "You need to go now before Yan Fang get her hands on Liuhe."
The pained look on Hongling's face was impossible to miss. Not that Zi Yuan could blame the girl. It felt incredibly awkward to refer to Yan Fang without some form of honorific attached to her name. Well, that was going to have to change soon.
They had already lost Yan shībó nine years ago.
"Call Yan Hua first," Zi Yuan said, letting her eyelids droop. The lights were too bright. Or maybe she was just tired. "Make up some excuse, ask him to take the sword out of the Yan family home if possible."
"If he refuses?" Hongling countered weakly.
Zi Yuan opened her eyes to look at her protégé. "He'll listen to you, Hongling." Zi Yuan smirked. "The boy is sweet on you if I recall."
Hongling blushed adorably.
"Fine," Hongling mumbled.
"Don't overdo it though," Zi Yuan reminded. "If he can't bring the sword out, just ask him to stall Yan Fang, or convince her that the sword isn't at the house. Make sure the boy doesn't do anything rash."
Heavens forbid Yan Fang might murder the poor boy if he stood in her way.
"I'm on it, Zi Yuan jiějie," Hongling said, then paused for a few seconds. "Will you really be okay?"
Zi Yuan's heart warmed, and she smiled at her protégé. "I'll be fine."
Hongling padded to the balcony and took off into the sky.
Zi Yuan sighed and lowered herself to the ground. She got into a meditative posture and closed her eyes. The last thought she had before she went into deep meditative state was whether Master had foreseen Yan Fang's betrayal all those years ago.