From atop a tree, the man blithered, “They must be exhausted. If they were wise, they’d try to digest what they witnessed in the fight between the two Divine Realm adepts to help their progress in the future. Also, I’m starving. I still haven’t had anything to eat. I wonder if the black bear king tastes good…”
His blithering was too loud to be talking to himself, but the string of incoherent information gave that impression.
He jumped down from the tree, landing silently. He was Night Fortress’ master. He was attired in the same clothing as when he fought Abels, but he had a visibly different vibe. He appeared considerably taller than during the fight – as tall as Ming Feizhen. His hair was all black instead of black and white. Even his black and white eyes resembled Ming Feizhen’s.
“I don’t think anyone saw through us. I have you to thank for helping me get through this,” Master Ming expressed while smiling.
Ming Feizhen stood stiff in place.
Master Ming swiped his hand across his face, peeling off his mask. He was Ming Feizhen’s spitting image. If there was a difference, he looked livelier than the Ming Feizhen before. He rubbed his face, lamenting, “Damn, I’m tired. I don’t know how you can wear these masks for so long. It takes me three days to recover each time I manipulate my appearance. No sane man would want to work in this field.”
Master Ming, more precisely, Ming Feizhen, wiped his sweat as he inhaled the fresh air in the woods. Correct, Master Ming, who utilised Night Net Celestial Silk, Yijin Scripture, Tai Chi and Spring Wind Rainy Night Art was Ming Feizhen, himself.
Rewinding back to when Ming Feizhen and Su Xiao were chasing the wild boar for supper.
Su Xiao had to comfort Ming Feizhen when the latter was worried about how to face the upcoming dilemma.
Ming Feizhen was privy Emperor Yuansheng, Long Zaitian, Tie Hanyi and Dugu were suspicious of him. He wasn’t aware at first. Howbeit, they discussed their suspicions for hours on end. Given his enhanced hearing, it was a matter of time before he overheard them even if he didn’t mean to. Even without it, the events during the course of the day would’ve told him everything he needed to know.
The attitude plus gifts from the various heavyweights from Jiangnan and his ridiculous Young Master Zhong Ming facade were too conspicuous. Every suspicion Emperor Yuansheng pointed out was valid points, such as him uncharacteristically declining their gifts.
If Emperor Yuansheng overtly interrogated him, Ming Feizhen would’ve had his means to erase suspicion; he couldn’t just stroll up to Emperor Yuansheng and deny he was Night Fortress’ master if the latter didn’t ask. That being said, Emperor Yuansheng not explicating his suspicions and plotting behind Ming Feizhen’s back was the worst scenario.
Emperor Yuansheng didn’t need to personally pry. Simply having his entourage stake out day and night or sending someone to tail Ming Feizhen would be nightmare. His life of lazing around would turn into staying alert around the clock just to avoid his secrets being exposed. The more secrets one had, the more frontiers one had to defend. Ming Feizhen wasn’t exactly meticulous or smart, either. If people scrutinised him hard enough, they’d find countless flaws. If Emperor Yuansheng lined up scouts, one would eventually identify a loophole or pick up something; it was purely a question of when.
Ming Feizhen would’ve come up with some idea to fight off the suspicions if supplied enough time. By chance, he sensed a Divine Realm adept watching him from the woods when the escort entered the manor. Compiling information he attained from League of Assassins, Long Cheng and River Monster’s Nanjiang style, he concluded Abels was the one monitoring him.
Abels wouldn’t have stalked the escort to make friends with them, obviously. Under other circumstances, Ming Feizhen would’ve had his hands tied… Abels’ ambush, nevertheless, provided Ming Feizhen with the perfect scenario to script, direct and act out a story. Thus, Ming Feizhen’s brain cogs started to turn the moment they entered the manor and recalled Su Xiao comforting him.
According to what Ming Feizhen said, the small boar they lost track of would return to its sounder to recruit help. Su Xiao wasn’t scared of boars. To the contrary, he was thrilled to hear there were more boars. Dragging Ming Feizhen along, he ventured deeper into the mountains.
Su Xiao wasn’t afraid of death, but he was afraid of being hurt. He wasn’t afraid of blood, but he was afraid of pungent stenches. He wasn’t afraid of danger, but he was afraid of the dark. He had his blade drawn and clung to Ming Feizhen’s sleeve as he constantly scanned his surroundings. As soon as he heard an animal’s voice, he plastered himself to Ming Feizhen.
Ming Feizhen gently patted Su Xiao’s head: “What are you doing? Aren’t you trying to hunt?”
Su Xiao covered his ears: “Not listening. Not listening!”
Ming Feizhen simpered: “You not going to hunt the wild boar anymore? Remind me who declared he wanted to beat the others?”
“… Okay, okay.” Su Xiao drew his blade again. After merely two steps, he spun back around and implored, “Big Brother Ming, come with me.”
Ming Feizhen shrugged: “You don’t need to go further in. Look over there.”
Su Xiao looked over his shoulder to see the boar racing toward him. He cheered, “You’re finally going to let me swing at you, huh?”
The boar’s footsteps were unusually heavy. Upon peering up and beyond it, Su Xiao saw a big black animal zooming toward him. Unlike the boar, its aggression was gushing out of its body. It was none other than the black bear king River Monster imported. Unlike other bears, it had the freedom to move around at will. It was there for food, and it found its food in the form of the boar Su Xiao targeted and Su Xiao, himself.
“Th-th-that’s not a mountain boar! That’s a massive black bear!”
Su Xiao bolted. Amusingly, the boar overtook him, positioning him as the most convenient prey for the bear because bears perceived fleeing animals to be prey.
Bears may appear clumsy and slow based on their appearance, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. An ordinary human racing against a bear in forests was folly. The black bear king was the best proof that suddenly picking up speed was the quickest way to be dinner for wild beasts.
It didn’t take long for the bear to close in on Su Xiao. Su Xiao was so hasty that he forgot about Ming Feizhen. He went back to haul Ming Feizhen, but he could barely move the latter. In the end, Su Xiao stumbled. Ming Feizhen covertly poked a spot on Su Xiao’s back, poking Su Xiao’s conscious asleep in the process, and caught the latter before he planted his face in the ground.
The black bear had its jaws hanging and ready behind Ming Feizhen. Surprisingly, it stopped abruptly. The wind on the nape of its neck was extra cold. It was almost ready to grovel on the ground before the human.
Ming Feizhen, still holding onto Su Xiao, locked eyes with the bear. The black bear king chose to prostrate itself and play dead, albeit trembling.
“You’re pretty smart unlike animals with no awareness. You’re also pretty cute. What are you, a puppy?”
Who cares if you understand or not? Nod first! Only someone looking for a shortcut to hell wouldn’t.
“But, you know, I’m busy right now, so I can’t leave you here. Could you do me a favour and find somewhere to relax for a bit?” Ming Feizhen shifted his eyes over to a mountain rock and grinned. In a friendly tone, he rhetorically asked, “That rock looks decent. What do you reckon?”
River Monster missed out on the unbelievable sight of an enormous black bear bashing its head against a rock until the world started spinning. River Monster taught her bear to comprehend some simple human speech during the decade they were together. Yet, it was improbable she could comprehend what her bear was doing had she seen him; she probably should’ve sought tips from Ming Feizhen. After all, his command was implied from beginning to end, yet her bear was capable of understanding it.
Ming Feizhen left the bear to its own device and continued along the mountain. Out of nowhere, he hollered, “You can come out now.”
An individual emerged from the shadows.
Ming Feizhen laughed as he approached the individual: “You really are my spitting image. Blood Fiend Silkworm Transformation Art wows me every time.”
Nobody would’ve been able to tell apart the two Ming Feizhens standing face to face. From appearance to demeanour, they were identical.
“Cut the rubbish. What do you want?”
The “Ming Feizhen” who emerged from the shadows had the voice of a maiden…