Chapter 63: Seizing the Opportunity to Create Trouble
The battle of the Spirit Realm experts was gradually coming to an end.
Nine Jade Palace had seized an overwhelming victory by capturing countless ferocious and precious beasts. The only regret they had was being unable to capture the two Snow Winged Cloud-treading Horses that had escaped the encirclement in the end.
This left the disciples in deep regret. If they had caught these two, they would have been able to leave their names down in the record of achievements and be respected by the Nine Jade Palace's descendants.
Lu Mingshu, who was heavily injured, passed the cub over to Gao Xiang. Gao Xiang looked at it and continuously sighed. "Instead of getting the Snow Winged Cloud-treading Horses, we got a silly Roe Deer. It's cute now because it's still young, but if it still looks like this when it's older, it will be extremely ugly."
The cub growled weakly, as if it was protesting.
Lu Mingshu laughed. "Why don't I give you my Silver-Shelled Rat too so you can have a pair."
"Fine, since you have this silly Roe Deer."
As the battle quieted down, teacher Zuo brought them to a place where they could temporarily rest. They were greeted with starstrucked gazes, particularly Lu Mingshu. Many even pointed at her.
Lu Mingshu turned a blind eye to the attention she was garnering and followed Gao Xiang to look for his master.
An Tongchen looked at them in surprise. "It's good that you've returned. Let's talk once we're back."
They mounted the Snow Lion to get back to the camp before An Tongchen called his attendants over to help the two wash up and treat their injuries.
A while later, Gao Xiang returned.
An Tongchen had changed into white clothing and had his hair scattered while he sat behind the table.
Gao Xiang looked at his master who had dispelled most of his coldness, and felt a little closer to him. He slowly walked over. "Master …"
An Tongchen pointed at the the seat opposite his while maintaining an expressionless face. "Don't think you can escape from your punishment. Sit down."
Gao Xiang rubbed his nose and sat down obediently with his head lowered.
"What exactly happened?"
Gao Xiang did not dare to speak hurriedly; he told his master everything he had experienced that day one event after the other, including how he had intentionally provoked Fu Mingtang to join in on the bet.
What was surprising was the fact that An Tongchen was not at all interested in how Gao Xiang made a bet with Fu Mingtang. Instead, he repeatedly asked about how Lu Mingshu appeared.
Confused, Gao Xiang repeated himself a few times. "Master, what's wrong?"
An Tongchen did not reply, he just silently tapped the table.
The bet wasn't really that important. Although it was a relatively large matter, it was still just a few juniors fighting out of boredom.
However, Lu Mingshu disappearing from outside the canyon and then reappearing in the depths of the beast cave was more perplexing. From her words, it seemed like she had met a very adept person in Jade West Mountain Forest … And there's many instances where one can make a story inside!
But he did not suspect Lu Mingshu to lie. She was just a disciple and this was also her first time attending the spring hunt. She also had a limited amount of strength and was not familiar with Jade West Mountain Forest. Furthermore, she was only a third-rate disciple. Even if she colluded with an outsider, there was nothing the outsider could gain from her.
He was not surprised there were outsiders going in and out of Jade West Mountain Forest. Jade West Mountain Forest may be called the Nine Jade Palace's backyard, but it wasn't as if Nine Jade Palace actually surrounded it like walls. They could cross the high mountains from other locations to access Jade West Mountain Forest. It just wouldn't be as convenient and or as fast as entering on the side of Nine Jade Palace.
However, this person had sneaked in during the encirclement hunting, unnoticed by any of them. The troublesome part was that they did not know what this person had done under their noses. If a backyard was accessed by others as they wished, would it still be called a backyard?
As An Tongchen pondered over the matter, his facial expression changed and he abruptly stood up. "Not good!"
Shocked by him, Gao Xiang also stood up. "Master, what's wrong?"
An Tongchen did not answer and walked out after he draped his robe over his shoulders. Gao Xiang hurriedly followed after him.
He made a beeline towards the attendant area in the base of the camp, but when he lifted up the curtain, he only saw the servant girl he had brought along alone.
"Where is Lu Mingshu?"
The servant girl hurriedly bowed down. "This servant was just about to report to elder but someone came over earlier and took Young Lady Lu away."
"Who was it?"
"They said they were from the Quintessence Courtyard …"
Without listening to the rest, An Tongchen flung the curtain apart and walked off.
"Master!" Gao Xiang chased after him with a frightened expression. "Why would the Quintessence Courtyard take Mingshu away?"
Quintessence Courtyard, the Nine Jade Palace monastic discipline courtyard, captured and punished disciples.
An Tongchen coldly laughed. "What else could this be? Naturally, it's because of the competition today."
Gao Xiang felt at a loss for a second, before he hurriedly said, "It was me that made Fu Mingtang join. I'll go clear up the matter!"
An Tongchen shot a glance at him. "I'm afraid it's too late. Fu Mingtang had a part in the bet, but even if there's a punishment, it wouldn't be severe. But if they dig out the matter of her disappearing and then reappearing, it won't be as simple."
Gao Xiang was not stupid. With a hint from An Tongchen, he was able to piece together the puzzle pieces and he immediately understood. He called out, "They want to make a story from Mingshu's disappearance?! Are they planning to frame her? That person … they want to accuse her of colluding with an outsider?"
In his heart, An Tongchen thought,
He just had this thought when Gao Xiang immediately went up and grabbed his hand anxiously saying, "Master, help her clear up this matter. Why would she collude with an outsider? She stays in Green Jade Valley every day and hasn't left the mountain for a few years. How could she be acquainted with any outsider?"
An Tongchen had not even taken a single breath after that thought. He truly felt like strangling this disciple whom he thought that has hopes earlier. He should just change his disciple and be done with it!
He admonished him in a low tone, "Have you gone crazy? Is it important whether she colluded with an outsider or not?!" The important part was that someone wanted to seize this opportunity to teach her a lesson.
"Master please help her! Martial Grandfather said he had received a favour from Mingshu's Martial Grandmother, so we have to look after her. Master …"
"Enough!" An Tongchen rubbed his midbrows. "You, go back."
An Tongchen replied helplessly, "I'll give it a try."
Gao Xiang was overjoyed. "Thank you Master."
An Tongchen snapped, "Go back obediently and you must not create any more trouble!"
"I know. This disciple promises he will not create any more trouble."
Watching Gao Xiang head back, An Tongchen sighed as took steps towards the huge tent at the heart of the camp.
At this moment, Lu Mingshu was currently being pushed into the large tent.
The wound on her shoulders had just been bandaged, but this one push made it feel excruciating. She bore the pain and before it faded away, she heard a familiar voice ring from the tent, "Lu Mingshu?"
Ever since four years ago, this female's voice had always echoed through her dreams. It sounded gentle and soft, but there was actually slight arrogance and belittlement in her voice as it seemed like she viewed others as ants while she was high and mighty.
Lu Mingshu shut her eyes not just to repress the pain, but more so to quell the hatred in her heart. When she lifted up her head once again, her stormy gaze had already returned how it was normally — calm.
There were in total of four people in the huge tent: Fu Shangqing, Zhou Yinru, and two elders that had taken part in the encirclement hunting this time.
"Yes, this disciple is Lu Mingshu."
Zhou Yinru slightly tilted her chin up and spoke in a cold voice. "Speak. Why did you collude with an outsider?"
While she had already mentally prepared herself, her eyes still flashed with astonishment. Yan Wugui said his traces could not be erased entirely so someone would definitely ask her. However, the current situation was worse than she had anticipated. She originally thought that since there was no evidence and she was still weak, they would at most make things difficult for her. But looking at Zhou Yinru's current attitude, they were not only going to make things only difficult for her.
"This disciple does not understand Hall Head Zhou's words."
Zhou Yinru's mouth slightly lifted up in a cynical smile. Keng. She threw a dagger before Lu Mingshu. "The evidence is right here. Do you still dare to deny it?!"