Ma Zhi Wu cracked his eyes open with a conscious effort when he heard that name. “Xiao Fang …” His eyes rolled around as if he was trying to see the person he was thinking of.
The Grandelder grabbed his hand and lightly squeezed it. “He will be here in a bit, Zhi Wu. Just hold on a bit longer. I’ll do what I can to save you.”
Ma Zhi Wu didn’t seem as if he was still able to hear that. He just continued to look upward, his gaze distant.
The Grandelder furrowed his brow and let go of Ma Zhi Wu’s hand, starting to cut up his robe bit by bit to expose the wounds beneath. Seeing the full extent of them, his heart sank even further. No, looking at him like this, was sure that it was already too late.
If he had been in his peak condition when getting these, then maybe there would have been a chance to survive these stab wounds. But unfortunately, he hadn’t. His body had already been weakened. He hadn’t exercised at all for the past years and even to a practitioner, that kind of thing took a huge toll on the body. Furthermore, whatever had been done to him in the dungeon of the Chun Feng Sect seemed to have left him in intense pain and suffering, possibly shaking the very foundation of his body. It did not look good for him.
Right now, his skin was deathly pale and damp from cold sweat, his breath not even any longer but coming in rough puffs. Not much could be seen of the originally impressive muscles anymore and the Grandelder was afraid that if he checked his body more closely, even the bones might have been impacted. Ma Zhi Wu seemed like a completely different person. A person that was already marked for death.
In another house in the Yun Zou Sect, Nian Hong Fang was currently conversing with Shen Qiang. He didn’t know yet that his lover had already been rescued but was on the brink of death. So instead of hurrying over to see him, he was still trying to get some more information out of Shen Qiang. “Do you really not know anything else?”
Shen Qiang sighed but then gave a wry smile, his gaze a little indulgent. “Nian Hong Fang, didn’t I already tell you everything? If there was something else, I would have long told you. Why would I hold back any more details after I’ve already told you where he is? I just have no further information for you. Anyway, even if I originally did, they did change things there a while ago after there was some accident and one of the prisoners was able to get away. So whatever was true before might not be today. With how the Sect Master is, he will be overly cautious for quite some time. And since I haven’t contacted them yet … They might have used that as a reason to once again fortify the dungeon. There is no telling how it looks right now.”
Nian Hong Fang lowered his gaze. Unfortunately, he was pretty sure that what Shen Qiang was saying was indeed the truth. After all, since the day he had finally confessed that he was a disciple of the Chun Feng Sect and that Ma Zhi Wu had been held in the dungeon for the past years, he had been pretty forthcoming with giving him the information he wanted. He really hadn’t held anything back. But even though, it didn’t help at all.
Shen Qiang watched him and then sighed once again. “I really can’t help you anymore. Have you told your Master already? Or your Sect Master? He could have a talk with our Sect Master. Maybe there’s something the two of them can work out.”
Nian Hong Fang looked at him, not sure what to say. “You also know that that is very unlikely. A lot of the people in the demon-hunting sects have had bad experiences with those of demonic heritage. It is unlikely Sect Master Xian would agree to anything.” And unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the Yun Zou Sect would do anything soon. Even though they knew that Ma Zhi Wu and the other two were in the Chun Feng Sect, they wouldn’t go to speak with them, nor would they go to break them out. Wu Min Huan and Grandmaster Zhangsun had made that pretty clear. Knowing that, Nian Hong Fang couldn’t help but feel devastated. How much longer until he would finally be able to see Ma Zhi Wu again?
“It’s been a decade. A full decade. I just … I just want to see him. Is that really asking too much?”
Shen Qiang’s gaze softened and he almost wanted to reach out and take his hand, trying to console him. In the end, he held back though, and even looked down. He was definitely the last person who should try to comfort him. “I’m sure that in due time, you —”
Frantic knocking sounded from the door and the anxious voice of a disciple could be heard from outside. “Senior martial brother Nian! Senior martial brother, you have to come out immediately. They’ve brought senior martial brother Ma back. He’s heavily injured.”
Inside the house, Nian Hong Fang shot to his feet. He didn’t bother about anything else and rushed out, not even closing the door behind him. He grabbed the disciple by the shoulders and shook him. “Where? Where is he?!”
The disciple felt dizzy but still pointed over to the Grandelder’s palace. “He’s with your Master right now. They say they don’t know if he’ll make it through. You have to hurry!”
Nian Hong Fang gave a choked gasp and then rushed over. He barged through the door of his Master’s palace, ignoring everybody in his way and just rushing over to the table where his lover was lying. Seeing the state he was in with his whole body covered in blood and several holes puncturing his skin and flesh, he couldn’t help but tear up.
“Zhi Wu. Zhi Wu!” He grabbed his lover’s hand, the tears running down his cheeks and dripping onto Ma Zhi Wu’s skin. Finally. Finally, his dream had come true.
Unfortunately, it had happened under the worst circumstances possible.