Book 12: Chapter 71
"Reporting, we did not find anyone," the middle-aged man’s subordinate reported.
The middle-aged man smiled. "See? You can rest assured, Mr. Hai."
Hai Yecha: "… Have you checked on top of the walls?"
The subordinate: "We did, but due to the darkness…"
"Hmph, if the trespasser is skilled, they can scale the wall. What would you do then? Absolutely useless."
"Sorry! Y-your subject shall check again," the subordinate replied.
"No need. This old one shall check himself."Hai Yecha made his way to the corner of the wall. With his potent internal strength, he could hear any voices or movements in said corner from far away, but he was a cautious man, and he felt he needed to be even more cautious owing to what they were planning. If the capital caught wind of their plot, it would spell trouble.
Hai Yecha: I don’t see or smell anything off, but most of my subordinates are crude men; how can they be odourless?
"It seems this old one was too cynical. Steward Jin is right, hahaha. Old people really are useless."
Steward Jin beamed. "You need not say that, Mr. Hai. You are still as impressive as ever. When Fiends’ Genesis and this one’s master rules the pugilistic world, this one hopes you will continue to take care of him."
"Of course. Of course." Although he was all smiles whilst engaging in the conversation, Hai Yecha stealthily moulded qi into his hand on the wall.
The internal discipline Hai Yecha used was called "Submerged Probe". Combat wasn’t his speciality; even some of his subordinates were more dangerous than him. He was one of the Seven Stars and also an elder because he was the best at fighting in water among the seven. While others learnt to adopt the water, he was born and raised in water. Save for their leader, even Jiang Chen would have trouble against him in water.
In water, one’s senses were severely inhibited, relegating one to a passive position. Not only was it difficult to utilise one’s full power, but it was also easier for the enemy to escape. "Submerged Probe" taught one how to use their true qi as a means of tracking down their opponent in water, and it worked as long as the opponent was within dozens of metres. Although using a wall as a medium was considerably more challenging and unreliable, since it was a solid object, it was because it was solid that true qi could travel through faster by several folds. Therefore, it would be difficult for anyone scaling the wall to escape Hai Yecha’s detection even if they attempted to hide their presence.
Alas, Hai Yecha still didn’t find anyone.
Hai Yecha: Could I really be wrong?
Hai Yecha didn’t let anyone know what he just did as he ordered his subordinates to tighten the security. They had already begun a search, so why not go the extra step to search the entire abode a few more times? Afterwards, he departed with Steward Jin whilst engaging in jovial chatter.
Immediately following Hai Yecha’s departure, his subordinates, not his fiend soldiers who specialised in underwater combat, spread out. For now, his fiend soldiers weren’t around; however, they would definitely be present when it was time to eliminate Hong Jiu tomorrow. This particular group at the abode were primarily the Seven Stars’ new recruits in the last twenty years. Despite not qualifying as "advanced martial artists", they were reliable enough to trust the abode with.
The guards methodically patrolled. Some summoned more security while the others followed the pre-determined route. Having patrolled the abode daily for years, they knew the place well enough to do so blindfolded. Tonight, two guards unexpectedly espied two people walking toward them in the middle of their patrol. If the two coming over knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t have come across each other, so the two guards were alarmed.
"Where are you from? Freez-"
Before the guard could finish, he and his partner felt a big hand on their hand. Next thing they knew, their heads had collided with the ground, and that was all they were conscious for long enough to know.
Hong Jiu, disguised in the clothing of a servant, had yet to curse when two more people approached. Beside him, Fang Xiaoyu shouted, "There’s someone by the wall over there!"
The two guards made haste for said corner, only to find nobody there. When they returned to their patrol route, the person who yelled was also gone, much to their bewilderment.
"Jeepers creepers that was bloody flipping close."
Fang Xiaoyu patted his chest, too. "I was scared for dear life back there."
Hong Jiu threw the two guards he put out commission into some bushes, then chucked on some dirt. Because it wasn’t a full-moon night, the guards wouldn’t notice unless they purposely combed through the shrubs.
"You’re pretty quick on your feet, huh?"
"You flatter me." Fang Xiaoyu held his hands in salute with a smile. "You reacted much faster. Else, we would still be on the wall. Even if you could scale walls, we would have been detected." He then went on to explain Hai Yecha’s Submerged Probe discipline.
Hong Jiu stroked his chin. "I knew that old bugger was dangerous, but I didn’t realise he was that dangerous. Fishy, you’re pretty knowledgeable, huh?"
"I read about them in books. Unfortunately, I don’t know any martial arts to confirm if he really did use it or not."
"You don’t need to be modest. If you’re good, you’re good. Now that his feathers have been ruffled, he’s definitely going to implement a large-scale search. Let’s find somewhere to hide and figure out a map of this place for starters, then spread tinders for a blaze. By the time they discover them, hehe, it’ll be too late for them."
"This abode is awfully bizarre…" Master Qi stayed alert at all times.
When a group passed by as she was musing, Master pulled her brows even tighter together. The group was comprised of girls, as well as trained maids, carrying clothes. All the visual cues available proved the girls couldn’t fight. After they were out of sight, Guan Ning remarked, "They’re not trained."
Master Qi continued mumbling under her breath for a while before looking back up. "Everything about this place is odd."
"H-how? They… I mean, the jewellery they had is worth a bit of money, but it’s not exactly intimidating. Are you thinking there’s poison in the jewellery or something?"
"No, the jewellery is fine. You’re right in that the girls don’t know how to fight, either. There are a lot of questions to ask here, but the most important one is, who owns this abode?"
"Who owns this abode?"
"Do you recognise those girls’ walking style?"
"Well, uh… their posture was really straight and prim… maybe a bit too prim?"
"It’s the imperial family’s walking style. I’ve seen it at Northern Wondrous Warrior Estate… Only imperial family members who inherited the "Li" surname could train maids who can carry themselves like that. Just who does this abode belong to?"