Book 12: Chapter 69
The candlelight in the room was dim enough to make the colours so muted that they were almost grey. Nine-Lives Cat Fiend sat with her feet on her chair, hands curled around her legs and unmoving. She stared at the flickering yellow as though she was basking in its glow, yet she afraid of the embers striking her.
This was Fiends’ Genesis’ biggest base neighbouring the capital. Once upon a time, the Seven Stars resided here for ages, trying to avoid the public eye. They believed the days of living in darkness would eventually come to pass. Still, returning to their former resident brought back bitter memories purely by association, not to mention Nine-Lives Cat Fiend had personal emotions weighing down on her.
"This old one knows what happened between you and Bai Sanlang." Though Hai Yecha’s tone was stoic, the contents proved he was trying to comfort Nine-Lives Cat Fiend. Following a long pause, Hai Yecha continued, "The runt used to have women fawning over him no matter where he went thanks to his suave appearance, hearty personality and skills. Thing is, Bai Clan… They’re all weirdos. If you develop feelings for him, he’ll develop feelings for someone else. Seventh Sister, I hope you know that giving your feelings away to the wrong person won’t ruin just your life.
"You begged our master to spare him and erased your own skills to prove your loyalty. What did you get out of it? His elder brother took advantage of the circumstances to take down our master with Wordless Sword Deity… While it wasn’t your fault, you can’t keep repeating the same mistake. Is it still not clear how he feels about you? Had you not sacrificed seven of your lives, would you have to fear that Hong kid?"
"I’m repeating the same mistake?! When?! I can’t wait to sink my claws into his jugular!"
"He’s at Valley of Yearning."
Nine-Lives Cat Fiend’s retorts evaporated.
"We don’t get to see the light here. Although we don’t lack sustenance, compared to our carefree days in the past, can you argue we weren’t just walking sacks of flesh? Who still had the drive and heartiness of days gone by? Who wasn’t scared for dear life? Remember the bloody tablet we carved with our bare hands? Remember what we carved onto that tablet? … Valley of Yearning is the second most deserving of death." He stole a gander at Nine-Lives Cat Fiend and added, "Second most deserving of death."
Tears had welled up in her eyes, but Nine-Lives Cat Fiend didn’t burst out crying.
"People in the orthodox sects are ungrateful, traitorous snakes; they always have been. You’ve refused to let him go after all these years. That boy from today is only his disciple. Why are you tormenting yourself?"
"What’s the point of saying all this?" Drought Demon rhetorically asked from another corner.
Nine-Lives Cat Fiend looked up. "Drought Demon…"
The usually emotionless man sauntered over and crouched down to give Nine-Lives Cat Fiend a hug. "Don’t worry. Why worry?" His smile would have one wondering if he had seen enough in life to not mind or if he was free from impure thoughts. "Everything will be solved once we kill them no? We’ll find our master, kill them and everything will be fixed." He clasped her face with one hand and gently adjusted her hair with his other. "I’ll kill everyone who upset you and bullied you, all of them okay?"
Drought Demon beamed. "Don’t cry. You look prettier without tears."
"Uhm." Nine-Lives Cat Fiend wrapped her arms around Drought Demon as though he was her family. A while later, she inhaled and returned to her usual self. "Ahem, right now, we need to capture the lass as soon as possible. Alternatively, we need to lure her far away from the capital."
Nine-Lives Cat Fiend had to be wise to raise her army without having suffered any harm; there was no reason to assume she’d see pursuing Hong Jiu’s group as the only option.
"As long as she is absent from the capital when we take action, we have nothing to be apprehensive about," opined Hai Yecha, smiling. "Why else do you think this old one made that agreement?"
There were only seven days until the agreed ten days. The ten days wasn’t an arbitrary number Hai Yecha decided on.
Nine-Lives Cat Fiend frowned. "Are you seriously going to duel him in seven days? Between now and then, a lot could change. It’s not wise to wait it out."
"It’s a foregone conclusion that this old one isn’t going to play along." Hai Yecha lowered his volume. "Hehe, we just need to wait here. This old one has prepared the signal. As soon as he gives the signal, our people will convene here. Let’s spend today preparing. We’ll act once our people arrive tomorrow. He needs to learn that there are no honoured promises in the pugilistic world. We’re going to finish him tomorrow, hahaha."
"Sh." Hong Jiu held a finger over his lips, then pointed to the wall. "They’re inside."
Guan Ning, Master Qi and Fang Xiaoyu stared intently at the wall.
Master Qi: "You really are shameless."
"Shush! Shush! Pipe down. This isn’t the time and place for compliments."
Only moments after he made his agreement with Hai Yecha three days ago, Hong Jiu twisted around to face Master Qi and said, "What we’re going to do is pretend to leave, then turn around and tail them." As shocked as they were, they followed Hong Jiu’s instructions to shadow Fiends’ Genesis’ group for the next three days.
This hideout of Fiends’ Genesis had remained off the grid for twenty years despite efforts to locate it until today. Master Qi really didn’t know how to feel about it.
"This is going to be tough; keep your wits about you. One moment of carelessness is all it’ll take to lose your life," warned Hong Jiu.
"Brother Hong." Fang Xiaoyu conveyed, "Didn’t we agree to face them seven days from now? Isn’t this… inappropriate?"
"Listen, kiddo: you think they’ll honour the promise? I bet they’re plotting our demise as we speak. Promises are meant to be broken."
Fang Xiaoyu mumbled under his breath, "But they don’t need to broken right after you make them, do they…?"
"Actually, they should be broken even sooner. If it was my leader who made the promise, he’d probably be waiting for them in their house already."
Master Qi: "Okay, so what are we going to do now?"
Hong Jiu swiped his nose. "Mount Daluo principle number unknown: if you’re going to commit murder and arson, do so immediately. We’re going in to end them tonight."