A while ago.
“They about to come out?”
“According to our scouts, soon. Just be patient for a while longer.”
A large group of people attired in black clothing were hiding outside the Qilin Guards’ office. Being there when Yi Ya had returned was the same as being neighbours with a grim reaper, not to mention Emperor’s Entourage were searching high and low for them. Many, many times, they had strong urges to leap into the office and scout out the place. Every single time the urge arose, though, they’d remember Her Highness’ orders and quell the urge.
“They’re coming out!”
Despite having hid themselves well, they still unintentionally held their breaths as soon as their target appeared, fearing their operation would be sabotaged due to complacency.
They had been hiding there for half a year and waited for eighteen long days for the Qilin Guards to go collect Li Muye from the Ministry of Justice. In order to rescue Li Muye, they needed an important piece of information, and the only person in possession of that information was detained in the Ministry of Justice’s prison. The Qilin Guards recently found out about this, which was why the individual in question needed to be finished sooner or later.
Both the Ministry of Justice and Qilin Guards’ office were execution grounds. However, there was one place where there was hope – the path between the two locations. Having identified the one and only opportunity, Li Muye’s mother devised a strategy to have two teams, one outside and one inside, coordinating an operation to rescue the prisoner during transportation before the Qilin Guards could get their hands on him.
The group waited with bated breaths to see who the escort was.
“Who is it?”
“Is it Yi Ya?”
The person with a telescope from the Western Regions, which they called “Thousand Miles Eyes”, quietly answered, “It’s Lei Bao.”
Everyone knew Lei Bao was tough, but they knew that only the top seven on Seventeen Hidden Dragons were beyond them. If Yi Ya was the escort, their plan was over before it was even put into motion.
“Perfect. Stay close, and let’s move.”
They stealthily tailed Lei Bao to the Ministry of Justice’s prison. Needless to say, they couldn’t enter. That being said, they didn’t need to enter for the operation was meant to take place outside of the prison.
The door was opened a second time a lot sooner than they expected, but they made no fuss and set their hands on their weapons. For some reason, however, Lei Bao didn’t come out with Xiang Baxian. Instead, he was grumbling to himself while heading in a direction they never foresaw.
Hiding in an inconspicuous spot out of light’s reach, the group began discussing what to do.
“… So, what’s going on now?”
“I think he’s saying Xiang Baxian isn’t here.”
“Where is he then?”
“… According to my lip reading… he’s at Liu, Shan, Men.”
“Liu Shan Men?”
“I think there’s some conflict between them. Liu Shan Men took Xiang Baxian away before the Qilin Guards were scheduled to.”
Having resided at Northern Wondrous Warrior Manor for an extensive period, the group of adepts knew all about the perpetual contest between the three offices, so it wasn’t a surprising outcome. There was a chance that things would become more complicated if Xiang Baxian was now held at Liu Shan Men’s office. That said, were their eighteen days of waiting supposed to just go to waste? Were they to just leave His Highness in prison?”
“… After him.” The group leader instructed, “While Liu Shan Men and the Qilin Guards are fighting each other, we’ll sneak into Liu Shan Men and proceed. If the situation calls for it, you can spill blood.”
“Ok, take a deep breath in, pull the string back… and release.”
The arrow whizzed over eighty metres and hit the bullseye on the board.
Wang Zi, cheeks flush, effused, “I did it again! I’ve landed eight consecutive bullseyes! Look!”
Shi Weiliang sat in the bottom of a squat after a few shots because she didn’t have the physical endurance to shoot for long. However, the others weren’t exhausted, so they should’ve applauded, yet they didn’t even look in Wang Zi’s direction.
“Hey! Did you guys see me or not?!” Wang Zi went over to them with her cheeks aerated.
Zhou Teng: “Y-yeah, you’re pretty good.”
He Shi: “But, you see…”
Wu Dayong stood facing the sun, exuding the aura of a transcendent being. The board in front of him was covered in arrows, a sight Wang Zi couldn’t believe.
Zhou Teng went up to Wang Zi’s side. “He Shi and I told him we’d call him ‘Master’ if he could land ten consecutive shots, and…”
He Shi: “We’re now calling him Grandmaster…”
Wang Zi: “I-is he really that good?”
He Shi shook his head. “You haven’t seen it all yet.”
Wu Dayong shut his eyes, pulled the bowstring back and released it. As if the arrow had eyes and a mind of its own, it landed dead in the centre of the board.
Wang Zi: “He’s a prodigy at archery?”
“Practice. The secret is practice.” Wu Dayong flicked his hair. “As you can see, Miss Ye, I am the person you are searching for. Please show me the ways of archery.”
Arms crossed, Ye Luo deployed a nod. “Don’t forget to take your magnet at the back of your board when you leave.”
“No wonder why you were suddenly a sharpshooter!”
“Walk your bum over here!”
Ye Luo pulled Wang Zi aside, leaving Wu Dayong at Zhou Teng and He Shi’s mercy. “Miss, you have strong arms and learn fast. I can teach you for a few days.”
Ye Luo started them off with a demonstration of her archery, impressing them, so Wang Zi was incomparably happy to hear Ye Luo was willing to teach her.
Ye Luo showed a stop sign with her hand. “It’s nothing worth thanking me for. I do, however, have a condition.”
Ye Luo stepped closer to whisper in Wang Zi’s hands. “No going for Su Xiao.”
Wang Zi’s hairs stood erect instantly. “Loud and clear!”
Ye Luo finally smiled as she gently patted Wang Zi’s shoulder. “Keep practicing. You have a bright future in archery, she praised prior to strolling off.
Su Xiao smiled and expressed, “Thank you so much, Sister Ye Luo. We still need someone for the martial arts and chariotry events. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t know what to do.”
Ye Luo reciprocated the smile. “Speaking of chariotry, my father is an expert. He learnt his equestrian and archery skills from Beijiang. I’ve never had a knack for horse riding. I do know someone inherited my father’s skills, though.”
“Your vice-captain, who else? Her Battle Cloud was a birthday gift from my father. Well, technically, it was a graduation gift.”
“I dare not ask for equestrian tutelage, so I guess we’ll have to pin our hopes on martial arts.”
“What about Tang Ye? He’s always been great at martial arts, and it looks like he’s levelled up since Nanjiang.”
“I plan to participate in it myself.”
“You? But… there are plenty of people with tough fists in the academy. If you compete…”
“It’ll be fine. They have their fists.” Su Xiao tapped his Ancient Cold on his sash. “I have my blade,” he cheerfully stated.