Nian Hong Fang was unsure what to do. There was finally a sign of life from Zhi Wu but the things he wrote made him believe more and more that his situation was indeed bad. He couldn’t return, most likely because somebody was keeping him from doing so and not because he didn’t want to.
Unfortunately, there was no clue in the letter as to where he was held and who the person or the people doing this to him were. The only chance to find out something would likely be though the man that had delivered the letter.
But how should he go about this? He was aspiring to become an alchemist, not a full-fledged cultivator. He might be strong enough to follow this man but he wouldn’t be able to defend himself if he noticed him and they came to blows. He couldn’t risk that. Not only would Zhi Wu not want him to get hurt because of this, if something happened to him, it might also shatter the last hope Zhi Wu had of ever being set free. He couldn’t let that happen!
Nian Hong Fang glanced at the man again. The guy had been closely watching him the whole time. Most likely, he wouldn’t let him go and tell his Master or anybody else about this and without the letter, he might miss out on some kind of clue. What to do about that?
He would need to send the letter back as Zhi Wu had requested but he couldn’t follow the man himself if he didn’t want to make even more trouble. He also couldn’t notify anybody to follow him in his stead. It seemed that despite finally finding some information on what had happened to Zhi Wu, this would turn into a dead link in just a short amount of time.
He couldn’t accept that. He definitely couldn’t let that happen! He needed to somehow find out where this man would go and also somehow preserve the information that Zhi Wu had given him.
Nian Hong Fang stared at the letter, trying to come up with a way to achieve both purposes. Unfortunately, he could only think of gaining time by pretending to still be reading and then writing his response slowly. Maybe his Master or one of his martial brothers would walk in, then he could tell them about the letter. If the person in question was strong enough, then that messenger also might not be able to refuse to let them see the letter or have him explain. If not … well, he could at least try to signal them somehow that something was up. Hopefully, they would catch on and go and notify somebody.
Nian Hong Fang sighed. Who would have thought he’d ever be in a situation where he would need to do something like this? He raised the letter again, once again glancing over the sentences he had read so far to make sure he hadn’t missed any clues. He couldn’t find anything though.
As for the rest of the letter … It was basically Zhi Wu reminiscing and asking about the things going on in the sect. It made a smile return to Nian Hong Fang’s lips. Zhi Wu had always been like this: When outside, he would worry about the people left behind in the sect.
On all his missions since they became a couple, he had always written back and asked about how things were going and when they were out together, they would talk about the others and he’d message his Master or one of their martial brothers. That had been one of the reasons why Nian Hong Fang had been so sure that something must have happened to him when he suddenly stopped writing five years ago.
Nian Hong Fang lowered the letter and closed his eyes. Whatever had happened, Zhi Wu was still the same as before. When he found a way to return, things would go back to normal.
Nian Hong Fang took a deep breath again and opened his eyes. He picked up a brush, ground the ink and turned the letter. Just before the tip touched the paper, he hesitated though. He had to write on the back of the letter but … that way, he wouldn’t be able to keep Zhi Wu’s letter. Up until now, he had kept all of them though. Zhi Wu also knew.
Nian Hong Fang’s eyes widened imperceptibly. Could it be that this was a hidden message after all? Did Zhi Wu want to tell him something? He put the brush back down. He had to comply with Zhi Wu’s plea even if it was only to fool the people holding him captive. But … who said that he couldn’t also keep it?
Nian Hong Fang smiled to himself and took out another paper scroll. He picked up the brush again and started to write his letter, seemingly casually glancing at the messenger. The man was still observing him, his brows lightly furrowed. He probably knew that he was supposed to write his response on the back of the letter. So that was why Zhi Wu had been worried. He had already anticipated that these people would read the letter and maybe change it.
Nian Hong Fang retracted his gaze and added another sentence. Then he glanced at Zhi Wu’s letter and copied the first line. He returned to writing his own response afterward, only adding in another one of Zhi Wu’s lines after a few sentences. Only when he had finished copying all the lines from Zhi Wu’s letter, did he take another paper scroll.
He glanced at the man again that was furrowing his brows further but still continued to write. Anyway, after five years, there were a lot of things he wanted to tell his lover. Only after another two filled pages did he put down the brush. He sorted the scrolls and then read through everything again. Unfortunately, even until now, nobody had come by. But, well, at the very least, he had managed to copy the letter and he could still make one last attempt on buying time.
Nian Hong Fang picked the brush up again, turned around Zhi Wu’s letter and started to copy his own response. The disciple from the Chun Feng Sect frowned but there was hardly anything he could do. They needed the response on the backside of the letter or that demon in the dungeon wouldn’t accept it. He would need to wait until then, at the very least before he confronted Nian Hong Fang.