Supper ended after Su Chan had calmed down from her emotional breakdown. Yundong had finished his meal anyway, and Su Chan had lost her appetite. Bye-bye cheap monk.
They moved to the living room after Yundong cleared the table with Qi Kinesis. Su Chan had watched the whole display with subdued wonder. She had seen Master perform it countless times. But still. This was Yundong, someone who, just a few months back, knew close to nothing about Cultivation.
Now he was performing Qi Kinesis like a master.
Su Chan would be performing cartwheels in the air right now if she wasn't feeling so down.
Yundong looked up from the phone box and smiled. "Hmm?"
"Who are you calling?"
Yundong had been staring at the phone box for the past five minutes. He wasn't calling anyone on it though. He just pressed a few buttons and then went back to staring at the screen.
"I was just texting Zi Yuan." He smiled. "She told me to let her know as soon as I found you."
"Texting?" Su Chan watched Yundong put the phone box away. "Oh. Is that the thing when you press a few buttons and then Chinese characters appear on the screen?"
It was like writing a note or a letter by clicking a few buttons.
Yundong reached over and pinched Su Chan's cheek. Normally, Su Chan would avoid his hands and then make a face at him. But tonight, she let him.
"Yes, princess." He sounded very amused. "That's what texting means."
Su Chan didn't share his amusement though. "Um… Yundong… Is… Is Zi Yuan zhenren... I mean, is she coming over…?"
Yundong shook his head. "No. She's in Tiannan City at the moment. Recovering." Yundong glanced down at the phone box again. "She asked us to meet her once we get back." Yundong looked towards Su Chan. "She has a few questions for you."
Her alarm must have shown on her face because Yundong quickly began to explain himself.
"Don't worry, she's on our side." Their eyes locked for a moment. "She's going to help you get your master back." Yundong stared at her earnestly. "We're all gonna help. Even Ruan Hongling."
Warmth bloomed inside Su Chan's chest. "Mm."
There had indeed been occasions where Su Chan had wondered about the exact nature of the relationship between Zi Yuan and Master. Of course, she wasn't surprised that they knew each other. After all, the great prodigy Ao Wushuang and Zi Yuan zhenren of the Linggong Sect were both Cultivators of considerable fame. But no, this had nothing to do with fame. Su Chan had the impression that they didn't just know each other by name, that they were more to each other than just passing acquaintances. It was like Master and Zi Yuan zhenren respected each other, like they shared some kind of bond.
Whatever that bond was, Su Chan was certain that it had to do with Wang Yuanshan zhenren, the former leader of the Linggong Sect. For as long as she could remember, Su Chan had never seen Master flustered. And yet Master lost all her composure the moment Mo Ahshi mentioned Wang Yuanshan's name. That was how Mo Ahshi had managed to get the drop on Master.
Su Chan looked up from her lap. "Hmm?"
"Are you alright?" Yundong patted her head. "You zoned out a little."
"I'm alright, beloved," she said, leaning into his touch.
Yundong hummed. "I'm glad."
Su Chan cleared her throat. "Recovering. You said Zi Yuan zhenren was recovering. Did she get hurt?"
Yundong suddenly turned away, but not before Su Chan caught a glimpse of the guilty look on his face.
Su Chan frowned. What was that about?
Yundong cleared his throat. "Yeah… She got hurt during the—" Yundong paused as though he had just remembered something.
Su Chan waited patiently for him to continue.
Moments later, Yundong sighed. "It's a long story."
Su Chan reached over and tugged his sleeve repeatedly. "Tell me. Tell me."
Yundong smiled and pinched her butt again. Yup. Definitely a new hobby.
At least she didn't squeak this time, but that probably had more to do with exhaustion than her non-existent self-restraint.
Yundong's smile fell away, and he suddenly turned his body so that he was facing her fully. "I'll tell you everything. But I need you to know something first."
Something in his tone drew Su Chan's eyes to his face. Yundong's expression was gentle but determined.
"Your master is alive."
Su Chan nearly leaped off her stool. "W- What?" She grabbed Yundong's hands. "A- Are you sure, Yundong?"
A tiny smile played on Yundong's lips. "Yes."
Su Chan could feel a load being lifted from her entire existence. "S- She's… alive?"
Yundong nodded. "This intel came from Zi Yuan."
Su Chan stared at her beloved, stunned.
Yundong smiled. "Like I said, she's on our side."
This time, Su Chan did leap out of her stool. She ran around the table until she was standing beside Yundong, and then tugged his hand insistently. "But the school… I mean, the assault! The—"
Yundong cut her off by pulling her onto his lap.
"Slow down, Chan'er." Yundong's chest vibrated against her back when he chuckled. "I'll tell you everything from the beginning."
"I survived my divine punishment yesterday." Yundong's chest rumbled against her back when he spoke. She had decided to remain on Yundong's lap instead of returning to her seat.
Right. Yundong's lap versus a chair. As if it was even a choice to begin with.
"Well. Technically, it was the day before yesterday," Yundong continued, "since it's past midnight now."
What had she been doing when Yundong was out there facing the Heavenly Thunder? Hmm. Most likely she was on her way back to the corn-door after another day of wandering Dongwu City. Or worst, she was busy dishing out verbal abuse to that annoying stalker.
Something did strike her as weird though. When she was out wandering the city, she had watched the sky every opportunity she got. So how come she never noticed the arrival of Yundong's divine punishment? Was she asleep when it arrived? Probably. She usually just collapsed into bad after returning to the corn-door.
"I was in pretty bad shape after I survived. I think I went straight to bed." Yundong paused as though he was trying to recall something. "When I woke up the next morning, I received a paper crane from Zi Yuan. She's the one who informed me about the Great Six's assault on the Fox Zen School." There was a pause. "She told me that you and your master were missing, and then asked me to head to Mount Tianlong immediately to rescue you."
Su Chan turned her head around to stare at her beloved over her shoulder.
Yundong smiled as though he had already anticipated her disbelief. "She was on our side from the start."
"W- Was she there?" Su Chan blurted out. "Was she…?" Su Chan winced. "Was she part of the assault?"
"She was asked to be part of the assault. But she wasn't part of the assault. Not really." Yundong held her gaze for a moment. "She was there at Mount Tianlong though."
Su Chan's mind spun. "She was… She was spying on the Great Six, wasn't she? She was secretly feeding you information."
Yundong nodded. "That's right. She even ordered Ruan Hongling to look all over the mountain for you."
"I wasn't even in the mountain," Su Chan mumbled.
Yundong chuckled. "None of us knew that at the time."
"But…" Su Chan shot him a quizzical look. "How did you know where to find me?"
"I—" Yundong's brows were pinched together, and something flickered inside his eyes. Something that looked like sadness and fear. The look was gone before Su Chan could make anything out of it. Yundong cleared his throat, and the next thing she knew, he was smiling again. "Let me finish the story first."
"The assault had already begun when I got there." Yundong sighed. "It was terrible, Chan'er. There were hundreds of them."
Su Chan sat in Yundong's lap quietly, letting the gravity of his words sink in. She didn't feel much fondness for the Fox Zen School, but it was still quite sobering to learn about the destruction of her place of origin.
"It was Yan Fang." Yundong had uttered those words softly, but the effect they had on Su Chan was profound. "She's the mastermind of this whole scheme."
"Y- Yan Fang?"
Yundong nodded. "Have you met her before?"
Su Chan shook her head. "I know her by name only. She's the Zhengyi School's Eventide Reaper."
Yundong's lips pulled into a tight line. "So I've been told."
"But I thought… Mo Ahshi…" So she'd been right all along. The Mo Ahshi she saw the other day was an impostor.
"Mo Ahshi is dead." Yundong paused as though he was trying to gauge her reaction. "According to Zi Yuan, Yan Fang visited the Fox Zen School nine years ago to look for your master."
Su Chan nodded. She already knew about this. She overheard the brief exchange between Master and Zi Yuan zhenren the night Yundong killed Hé Shao. So this treachery had been going on for so long.
"She must've infiltrated the school during her visit," Yundong said.
And then hid in plain sight by posing as Mo Ahshi for over nine years? Eluding even Grandmaster Liu Ye? What an impressive feat.
"I don't know how though." Yundong shook his head. "Not even Zi Yuan knows the details."
"I think she killed the real Mo Ahshi and then took over Mo Ahshi's body with her Yin Spirit." That was the only explanation Su Chan could think of.
"And you would be correct." Yundong paused. "Well, except for one thing. She did it with her Yang Spirit, not Yin Spirit."
Or Yang Spirit. Whatever.
"So Yan Fang currently has Master," Su Chan snarled. "She's the one holding Master hostage."
"Yes." Yundong's voice was firm. "But we have the upper hand now. We're no longer in the dark. We already know that Yan Fang is the one behind the whole scheme. She, on the other hand, probably has no idea that we know." Yundong smirked. "We also have two allies who knew the enemy very well."
Su Chan nodded.
Zi Yuan jiějie and Ruan Hongling would know how to track down Yan Fang. After that, they would all go and rescue Master.
Please hang on, Master…
Su Chan exhaled lengthily, letting her anger fade. "I guess the school is gone then?" There was no way the Fox Zen School could survive an assault of that scale without Master there to defend it.
"Nope. The Fox Zen School is fine."
Su Chan turned around in Yundong's lap until they were facing each other. She was hyperaware of the fact that she was currently straddling Yundong's lap, of how intimate the position was, but she didn't care.
"But they had an army," Su Chan said, finally voicing out her disbelief.
Yundong smirked. "I fought hard." He shrugged.
"Y- You fought off an entire army of powerful Cultivators?"
Just how strong was Yundong now?
"I had help." Yundong smiled. "Zi Yuan. Ruan Hongling. And the Fan of Seven Treasures." Yundong paused in thought. "Technically, I didn't take on the whole army." Yundong smiled again. "I only fought a few of them. Oh, and also their commander, Zhang Tianhé."
"Y- You defeated the Jade Zhenren?!" Su Chan openly gaped at her beloved. "The wielder of the Sword of Seven Stars?"
Yundong shrugged. "Zi Yuan had some pretty helpful tips."
Something flickered inside Yundong's eyes. She knew then that there was something else that he wasn't telling her.
Su Chan cleared her throat. "Were there… Were there many casualties? On our side, I mean."
"There are casualties." Yundong had a worried look in his eyes. "But not many. As far as I can tell anyway."
"Who?" Su Chan held her breath. "Who died?"
The worried look in Yundong's eyes was replaced by a look of sadness. His hands rose until they rested on top of her shoulders.
"Grandmaster Liu Ye. And your shībó Ye Yu. "
Su Chan's heart sank. Grandmaster Liu Ye, the kind old man who gave her the paper crane, was gone.
"There's something else, Chan'er."
Something in Yundong's tone made Su Chan look up. Yundong's eyes were burning with intensity.
"W- What is it, beloved?" Su Chan stammered. "Y- You're scaring me."
"I'm the new Head of the Fox Zen School."