Liu Cheng signaled at his martial brothers and sisters and the disciples of the Chun Feng Sect moved out as one. They didn’t mind at all that Qiu Ling was leaving the training grounds. In fact, they felt that this was a good chance for them to encounter him alone. This way, no innocent people would be caught up in it even if a fight broke out.
They followed Qiu Ling and Jing Yi from the training grounds and then split up, some of them taking cover at strategic points while the rest continued to follow Liu Cheng to intercept Qiu Ling.
Liu Cheng stepped in front of Qiu Ling and Jing Yi and gave a taut smile. He still had some doubts but the situation from before made him almost sure that Qiu Ling indeed wasn’t human. He just didn’t know if Jing Yi was aware or not. And what about Hong Bao? She knew these two, didn’t she? Had she noticed anything off about them? Then why hadn’t she notified him or their Master? It couldn’t be that she had been tricked by these people, could it?
In the end, he could only push these thoughts aside. After he had made sure of Qiu Ling’s nature, he could still question them. “Martial brother Qiu, martial brother Jing.”
Qiu Ling looked at the people in front and his brows furrowed. Such a large group and with some of them even hiding … His grip around Jing Yi’s hand tightened. This wasn’t normal. They probably wanted to attack them.
Jing Yi noticed that Qiu Ling was anxious again but he didn’t think much of it. Most likely, Qiu Ling hadn’t completely calmed down yet. “Martial brother Liu.” Jing Yi nodded at him before he took the time to rub Qiu Ling’s arm. “It’s alright. Look, he’s Hong Bao’s senior martial brother. The one she told us about when we were on the mission? We saw him before in Sect Master Yuchi’s palace. There’s nothing to be worried about.”
Qiu Ling’s gaze swept over the path in front of them. The Chun Feng Sect had only brought two dozen disciples. Not even one dozen stood in front of them now while the others were hidden away close by, spread out in all directions. What was this if not preparation for an ambush? He didn’t like to think that he was paranoid but he really couldn’t find another explanation.
Liu Cheng noticed Qiu Ling’s gaze and his own expression became graver. This person knew that they had prepared. It seemed it wouldn’t be easy to deal with him. Still, they had to try. “Martial brother Qiu, I watched your fight just now. It surprised me. I had heard that Grandmaster Zhangsun’s disciple was a practitioner but it seems you’re a dual-practitioner instead, also cultivating your spiritual energy.”
Qiu Ling merely nodded while still focusing on the people around them. They weren’t moving anymore so they should have finished preparing their ambush. Right now, he and Jing Yi were encircled and with some of them lying in wait at a higher vantage point, even escaping into the air might prove difficult.
But why? Qiu Ling knitted his brows and looked from Liu Cheng to Hong Bao and back again. He had thought these guys were on their side. After all, they had been sent to find Hong Bao back when they went to the mission at the Hei Dian Sect. The relationship between their sects shouldn’t be bad. So why were they preparing to attack them? Had they had a falling out? Why had nobody told them?
Qiu Ling let go of Jing Yi’s hand and hugged his waist instead. If these people could prepare, then he could as well! He’d bring his beloved out of here and make sure that he was safe.
Liu Cheng watched Qiu Ling’s actions and his eyes narrowed. This person was too calm. They had to be careful. “I myself am not a cultivator but I’ve long heard about your mastery as a practitioner. If it isn’t asking too much, I’d like to have a fight with you.” He took out his sword and cupped his fists, bowing.
Jing Yi looked from Liu Cheng to his lover and then back. “Martial brother Liu, Qiu Ling isn’t in a good state of mind. Even if you want to have a fight, it’d be better to wait a few days until he’s better.”
“He does look better to me.”
Jing Yi looked up at his fiance, worry written in his eyes. Yes, Qiu Ling looked a bit better but he definitely wasn’t himself yet. His grab around his waist was still tighter than usual and he hadn’t said a word. That couldn’t be called normal.
Jing Yi turned back to Liu Cheng and shook his head. “I’m sorry, martial brother Liu, but I don’t think this would be a good idea. Please wait until Qiu Ling is better.”
Liu Cheng brows furrowed. “What if I insist?”
“This …” Jing Yi looked at him with worry. Why would he be so unreasonable? “Martial brother Liu …”
Liu Cheng narrowed his eyes in return. “Is there a problem with that?”
Jing Yi frowned. Hadn’t he just said that Qiu Ling wasn’t in a good condition and couldn’t fight? Why was this Liu Cheng ignoring his words? “I already told you that Qiu Ling can’t fight right now. He needs rest.”
“Why don’t you draw your sword?” Liu Cheng unsheathed his own weapon.
Jing Yi’s eyes widened. This was the person that Hong Bao had always spoken so nicely about? He was completely unreasonable! “Hong Bao —”
“This has nothing to do with my junior martial sister. Leave her out of this.”
Jing Yi clenched his fists. “So you can actually hear what I’m saying. That makes me happy. I was wondering if something was wrong with my voice. Martial brother Liu, I have already told you more than once that Qiu Ling isn’t in a condition to fight. So you will have to wait a few days. Please step back.”
“Don’t bother.” Qiu Ling pulled Jing Yi closer and his eyes darkened. “There’s no use talking with him. The other disciples of their sect are already laying in ambush. Whether we agree or not doesn’t matter to them.”