Chapter 64: Ley Lines Spiritual Roots
Lu Mingshu was shocked. On the precipice today, she had used the dagger left behind by Yan Wugui to stab the cliff in order to stop her fall. However, because she had stabbed it too deep at a high altitude, she was unable to retrieve it. Hence, she abandoned it on top of the nest.
She knew this item might get her into trouble, so she did not even give it a second glance after Zuo Yiming took it down from the precipice. In order to draw attention away from it, she acted as if it was an ordinary dagger. Unexpectedly however, the other party was more attentive than she had thought — they actually noticed this small detail.
Her mind was spinning, but she responded, "This disciple does not understand Hall Head Zhou's words."
Zhou Yinru's face darkened. "Don't think you can fool us by acting dumb. Don't tell me you want to say that this dagger is yours?"
Lu Mingshu had a confused expression. "This disciple does not understand how this dagger relates to conspiring with outsiders?"
Looking at her face full of confusion, Zhou Yinru sniggered and said, "Fine! Since you want to act dumb, we'll go through the events from the beginning. Lu Mingshu, you were obviously dispatched to the outer encirclement so why did you disappear at the canyon?"
Lu Mingshu stared blankly. "Did Teacher Zuo not report this matter? This disciple fell down a canyon after being chased by a Specter."
Zhou Yinru furrowed her brows. "What I am asking is why you disappeared at the canyon, not why you fell down the canyon!"
"But they are the same thing!" Lu Mingshu looked at the two elders. "This disciple had fallen unconscious after tumbling down the canyon and had no idea what happened afterwards. After waking up, this disciple was already at the depths of the beast cave!"
"Oh? So you're saying you were unconscious for a few days and have absolutely no idea how you appeared in the midst of the encirclement?"
Lu Mingshu nodded. "Yes."
it! Zhou Yinru kicked the dagger beneath her feet. "Then how will you explain this dagger? A high-grade mystic weapon that even has the imprint of the Zhongzhou mold, this can't possibly belong to you, right?"
"Indeed, this is not mine. I picked it up after I woke up," Lu Mingshu said.
Zhou Yinru smiled dubiously. "So it's possible to casually pick up a high-grade mystic weapon on a stroll." She looked at the rest. "Sect Leader, Elders, what do you say?"
Fu Shangqing emotionlessly sat there with a teacup in his hands. From beginning to the end, he did not seem to have any intention to speak.
The two elders looked at each other and one said, "It sounds unreasonable."
The other one asked, "Lu Mingshu, this is an important matter and we will not tolerate any lies. It's best if you tell us what happened in full detail. After the encirclement hunt, we found traces of an outsider in the beast cave. Coincidentally, you had also disappeared at the canyon before mysteriously appearing in the depths of the beast cave, which was close to where we found traces of the outsider. If you do not have a reasonable explanation, it will be hard for us to believe that you were not involved in this matter."
Lu Mingshu glanced towards the elder.
From the moment she entered, Zhou Yinru questioned her incessantly, wholeheartedly wanting to find a loophole in her words. She had no intention of telling her what exactly happened. Although this elder was also holding her accountable, he had clearly told her about the problem from beginning to end, giving her a chance to defend herself.
"So that's what happened." She revealed an expression of recognition. "The moment this disciple entered, Hall Head Zhou said I colluded with outsiders without rhyme or reason so this disciple was very confused …"
Zhou Yinru interrupted, "Stop rambling on incoherently. Admit it if you can't explain!"
"But I already said what happened!" Lu Mingshu looked towards the elder. "When this disciple had been dispatched to the outer encirclement, this disciple unluckily met a Harmonization Realm Specter, which Teacher Zuo can attest to. In order to lure this Specter away, this disciple misfortunately tumbled down the canyon and fell unconscious. This disciple was already in the depths of the beast cave after waking up. As for what happened in between, this disciple is not too sure either."
That elder questioned in detail, "You'd disappeared for a good few days, but you have no idea what happened in between at all?"
Lu Mingshu thought for awhile. "I vaguely remember someone that carried this disciple and travelled for a long time. There were a few times this disciple was about to wake up, but always fell back asleep."
The two elders somewhat believed her when she put it that way.
What could a small disciple of the Inner Breath Realm do? She had no access to the sect's plans, nor did she have access to the topographic map. She would only be a burden in the Jade West Mountain Forest which was filled with ferocious beasts. In other words, even if she wanted to sell out the sect, she did not have the ability to.
The outsider only left a small trace, thus he was at least of the Harmonization Realm and might even be in the Spirit Realm. Just by common sense, it would be impossible for the intruder to collude with an Inner Breath Realm disciple because it was useless to do so. From her words, it was possible that the other party saw her when she tumbled down the canyon and took her away in order to prevent them from being discovered. One reason why they may have sent her back was because the other party wasn't utterly evil or maybe it was because they did not want to offend Nine Jade Palace.
Both the elders found it meaningless to investigate the issue. If the other party had the ability to infiltrate into the beast cave silently and even find the spiritual land before them, an Inner Breath Realm disciple would be incapable of affecting the overall situation.
However, if Second Zhou Miss wanted to make a fuss over a minor issue, they could not object either.
"Hall Head Zhou, why don't we just let the matter pass?" The elder said, "It's more important to track down the identity of that person."
"Courtyard Leader Zhang." Zhou Yinru did not want to let the issue pass even a tiny bit. "I am pursuing this incident because I want to track down that person's identity. You must know that she could very well be the only one that had seen that person."
"This …" Courtyard Leader Zhang thought for a while before keeping quiet.
"Since Elders have no objections, we'll detain her for further investigation!"
Right after Zhou Yinru spoke, there was a voice that came from outside, "Elder An, the sect leader is currently discussing official business. You …"
The tent door was lifted up and the disciple's words were cut off.
An Tongchen stepped in and took a glance around the tent before staring at Zhou Yinru and revealing a smile. "Second Junior Sister Zhou, I didn't hear that you received a position in the Quintessence Courtyard!" His tone was full of sarcasm.
Under his stare, Zhou Yinru shivered. She disliked An Tongchen ever since she was young. If Zhou Jiangui was a pile of ice and snow, lofty and unsullied such that one cannot get too close to, then An Tongchen was the chilly wind. He was chilling to the bone that made one uncomfortable all over. His usual cold demeanour was still alright, although it kept people a thousand miles away. However, his smile which made people feel like they were being eyed by a snake was truly scary.
Without waiting for her to speak, An Tongchen carelessly bowed to the others. "Sect Leader, Elders, may I know what mistake this small disciple made to need to arrange such a big parade just to investigate?"
Now that An Tongchen had arrived, Fu Shangqing could not continue to act mute any longer. He returned a bow and smiled. "Senior Brother An may not know that when we found the spiritual land of this beast cave, we discovered that someone had been there before us. Thus, we are now investigating."
"Oh?" An Tongchen arched his eyebrows. "Since you're tracking down an outsider, what business do you have with this disciple? You don't believe that she brought them to the spiritual land, right?"
"Because it's highly likely she has seen that person, we need to question her in detail."
"Is it just questioning? Then why did I hear Second Junior Sister Zhou say that she is to be detained for further investigation? I had no idea that a disciple had to be detained when they are questioned." An Tongchen looked towards Fu Shangqing as he smiled elusively. "Those who are not in the know would even think this disciple is a traitor."
The entire tent was filled with silence.
Zhou Yinru cursed internally, The Willow Woods line is known to stay out of sect matters, but aren't they meddling in too many things recently?
That may be what she thought in her heart, but she could not ignore An Tongchen's words. Zhou Yinru said, "Her actions are suspicious. She mysteriously disappeared then coincidentally reappeared at the scene of the incident. Maybe she colluded with the outsider! If we do not severely punish her for this matter, then how do we keep the sect's prestige?"
"Where is your evidence? From what I know, this disciple disappeared because she encountered a Harmonization Realm Specter. An Inner Breath Realm disciple volunteered to lure the Harmonization Realm Specter away in order to save her fellow disciples, causing her to fall down the canyon. Yet you claim she'd colluded with the outsider just because it's suspicious. This cannot be justified, no?"
"This dagger is the evidence!" Zhou Yinru stated coldly, "It is a high-grade mystic weapon with the Zhongzhou mold. This must belong to that intruder. How is she unrelated to the case when she possesses the intruder's weapon?"
"Ha!" An Tongchen glimpsed at the dagger on the floor. "On the mere basis of a single dagger, you dare to say it is the evidence? Couldn't she have picked it up casually?"
"You …" Zhou Yinru gritted her teeth. "Then, according to what Senior Brother An said, we're not going to pursue this matter?"
An Tongchen was about to speak when a voice sounded from the outside. "Sect Leader, there's a change in the spiritual land."
After encircling and annihilating the beast cave, the next most important thing would be to search for the spiritual land. Fu Shangqing hastily said, "Come in."
A disciple from the Harmonization Realm came in. He was one of the trusted aides of Fu Shangqing. He hesitated for a moment and kept silent when he saw the situation in the tent.
"What is wrong with spiritual land?"
He paused before answering. "Replying to Sect Leader. According to the detailed investigation by the two elders, it's possible that the ley lines spiritual roots of the beast cave have been dug away!"
"What?!" Zhou Yinru cried out, "The ley lines spiritual roots have been dug?!"
The disciple nodded. "Yes, based on the terrain, the two elders determined that there's an eighty per cent chance that the spiritual land might sprout a ley lines spiritual root. But despite searching through the entire spiritual land, we were unable to find it. Moreover, there are traces of the spiritual land having been dug up."
Ley lines spiritual root was also the essence of the spiritual land. It takes at least a hundred years for a ley lines spiritual root to take shape, and at most, a thousand years. Spiritual land can only be formed rapidly by the ley lines spiritual root, which would nurture heaven-and-earth treasures.
In other words, one could nurture a spiritual land with a ley lines spiritual root! If a ley lines spiritual root existed, at minimum, it would take up half of the beast cave's value.
Zhou Yinru sneered at An Tongchen. "Senior Brother An, we're qualified enough to detain her now, right?"