The earliest records of Divine Moon Cult in the Western Regions could be traced back to over two millennia ago. The credit for sustaining their existence despite the changes to their teachings and names went to the efforts of their followers. Among the legends their religion gave birth to, Lord San Shen was one of them.
While Divine Moon Cult’s leader was viewed as the cult’s god’s representative on Earth, Lord San Shen was considered the manifestation of the god of punishment. Based on their records, Lord San Shen held the same authority as their cult leader.
Lord San Shen’s duty was to enforce their teachings and ensure fairness. Legends said that he could find transgressors no matter how they hid or how far they fled.
The difference between Lord San Shen and the cult leader was the same as the difference between light and darkness. Lord San Shen only descended upon the mortal realm once every few generations without anyone knowing the secretive procedure. All they knew was that nobody could inherit or covet his post. This presented a problem.
Lord San Shen’s faction was as real as real got and wielded considerable authority. However, Lord San Shen was a legend, one that whether one would see or not entirely dependened on luck. To overcome this hurdle, they needed someone to act as a provisional Lord San Shen in the time he was absent from the mortal realm to fulfil his role. The chosen individual would be referred to as “Zero”.
Zero, simply put, could be considered Lord San Shen’s adjutant. From a prolonged-period standpoint, he should be classified as the real leader of the faction.
“I’m really keen to know who ordered the doors to be lowered,” the man in the silver mask expressed, his inquisitive nature showing through his eye slits.
Zero instantly unleashed a heavy palm strike. His energy coiled around Ming Feizhen’s neck as if it was a snake’s venom, yet Ming Feizhen just weakly reclined onto the stone wall and shut his eyes. “You have guts, but your skill is abysmal… With your internal energy in the state that it is, you might as well be someone who’s never trained a day in his life.”
Until then, everybody watching thought that Zero just flashed his hand.
“Now, I want to know what sort of prank this is supposed to be?” Before they knew it, Zero was already beside Elder Lianhua. “Can someone tell me what happened?”
Ouyang Xiucai did the talking since he held the highest rank among those present. He kept the reason for Elder Lianhua’s scuffle with Ming Feizhen even briefer than the rest of his recount as he honestly didn’t know the underlying reasons. Although the others were aware that Ouyang Xiucai glossed over some reasons, they had already subconsciously taken Ming Feizhen’s side due to Elder Lianhua’s attitude during the confrontation, so nobody spoke up.
Yuan Kou, who assumed the two had a grudge prior to the fight, because he was sure she mistook Wu Ping for an imposter, said, “She’s usually fine. I don’t know how Brother Wu got on her bad side, but she was so furious that she insisted on fighting.”
“Oh? Wu Ping defeated Elder Lianhua?” Zero shifted his gaze to Ming Feizhen, keeping his energy coiling around Ming Feizhen’s neck. “Look at you. You ordered my men to lower the doors and then compromised one of my generals. The ignorant would think you were the rat amongst us.”
“It was purely a misunderstanding. Had I not gotten hurt, I may have been able to hold out until you arrived. I beg your forgiveness.”
“No, no, I’m just surprised you could defeat her when you’re as good as any random on the street, heh.” Zero’s gaze on Ming Feizhen showed no changes.
“This one is not the only one severely injured. The Yan brothers are in trouble, as well. Brother Yan Jiangnan made it, but Brother Yan Jibei has…”
Taken aback, Zero turned to Yan Jiangnan. “How is your brother?”
Yan Jiangnan felt all his muscles bundle up. “H-he was… unable to make it,” he tearfully replied.
Yuan Kou and Ouyang Xiucai: “Ah?!”
Even though Yuan Kou and Ouyang Xiucai had seen death times than they could remember, and didn’t witness and Yan Jibei’s death, they felt sorry for Yan Jiangnan watching him shed tears. In reality, Yan Jiangnan cried as he thought about how many brushes with death he had already had and still was in peril; maybe his right eye shed tears of fear of death, and his left eye shed tears of fear of suffering.
“Mm… Come here,” commanded Zero, using his energy to pull Yan Jiangnan into his hand without contact. As with Ming Feizhen, he found Yan Jiangnan had his skills erased.
Initially, Zero suspected Wu Ping of pulling stunts, but Yan Jibei died. Yan Jiangnan had no reason to cover his brother’s demise. Moreover, one person having their skills erased could be a suspicious, but two people losing their skills could no longer be dismissed.
“About your brother’s unfortunate case, my condolences. Although you’ve lost your skills, it may not be a bad thing. Jiang Chen can provide you with an opportunity to recoup what you’ve lost. As for Brother Wu… What explanation do you offer for my suspicions?”
“This one has nothing to say.” Ming Feizhen grimaced to match his condition. “The situation was as tough as you heard. This one and the Yan brothers staked their lives to drive the trespasser away. Had we not lowered the doors, the damage would be drastically more than what it is now.”
“And the reality is, I didn’t see anyone on the way in. You don’t mean to tell me that the individual vanished into thin air here, do you?”
“This one cannot stop you from telling jokes.” Ming Feizhen threw Melancholic Sword over to Zero. “It is not the first time you have suspected this one. Frankly speaking, Elder Lianhua said the same thing and used it as justification to fight this one to the death. Right now, this one is incapable of fighting back. Do as you see fit. This one cannot stop you from defaming him, either.”
Zero: I don’t remember Wu Ping being so good with words… or so assertive.
“Hmm… Open the dungeon. I’m going to inspect it.”
Ming Feizhen felt beads of sweat forming on his back. Zero didn’t follow the schedule Ming Feizhen wanted him to follow. If Zero checked the dungeon, he would piece everything together…