Seeing as the disciples didn’t seem to know anything more, Elder Xing waved them away, leaving only Mei Chao Bing, Zhi Guan, and the other two, behind.
“Well, now we have a direction. It isn’t much but we can only take baby steps right now. It is better than completely standing still, isn’t it?”
The disciples nodded even though they didn’t quite share Elder Baili’s optimism in this regard. Especially Mei Chao Bing really didn’t want to have to take these kinds of small steps. No, he would’ve liked to figure out everything at once. Less just wasn’t acceptable anymore in their situation.
After a moment, Zhi Guan gave a hum. “Third junior martial brother might know something as well. As may Shen Lei. When Shen Lei has woken up later on and feels better, we could probably ask him some questions. Maybe tomorrow morning.”
Elder Baili looked at his first disciple and had to admit that he was probably right. Even though this had made his hair turn gray ahead of time, his third disciple was rather well-connected in the sect.
There was nobody he didn’t know. And he was pretty sure that he would also know some of Mei Chao Bing’s senior martial brothers a little more … closely. When he was in a better state emotionally, that would really be something that they could bring up. He just hoped that he actually knew something about them that went further than their personal likes and dislikes.
“That’s a good idea. Let’s do that then. If Ah Lin really knows something or we can find out something from that disciple at the caverns, then we will revisit your idea, Mei Chao Bing.” He turned to look at him, his gaze worried. “I assume you still haven’t given up on that, have you?”
Mei Chao Bing shook his head. “I haven’t and I won’t. This is something that I need to do.”
The Elder sighed. “So you say and I’m sure that you think that way as well but don’t force yourself. You’re not responsible for what your Master did even if you might think so.
“Back then, you did what you could. There’s no reason to punish yourself and take this kind of risk. There could be other ways to go about this. We just need to find them so we need to keep looking for them. If there’s any way to keep you out of harm’s way, we should go with that even if it might take slightly longer.
“Don’t forget that there are still people in the Teng Yong Sect who care about you. Don’t put your life on the line if you don’t have to.”
Mei Chao Bing smiled faintly. Hearing something like this actually meant a lot to him but, unfortunately, it wouldn’t change his mind. “Thank you. But this is something I really need to do.
“I know I’m not responsible. He made his decision that day while I made mine. But … he was my Master. And Elder Baili knows as well as I do that if I don’t play a role in this, even after we defeat the Wu Yun Sect and maybe even the whole evil side, my standing in the Teng Yong Sect still wouldn’t be much better.
“I just … I need to do this, not just because of a moral obligation to do so but also for my own future.” He fell silent for a moment and then shook his head. “Do you remember what you told me back then? When I came to see Yun Bei Fen?
“You said that your disciple was too young to be embroiled in this kind of conflict. You asked me to wait. I did. And I wouldn’t mind waiting even longer. Even if it takes another five years, or even fifty, I would still be alright with it.
“But the problem is that nothing will change if I don’t do anything. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I will always be seen as a traitor by the majority of the sect. That is unless I do something to earn another status. And I’m not willing to give up on that either.
“So I’m not just trying to play the hero. I … have my own reasons. And I hope that Elder Baili won’t make this difficult for me if there’s a chance to do something. Because I really want this. I need this.”
At this, Elder Baili actually didn’t have anything to say. He had always thought that this was just because of the matter with his Master. And still, he was pretty sure that this was the main part. But now that Mei Chao Bing mentioned it, he realized that there was indeed more to that.
Yes, Mei Chao Bing needed to earn back his place in the sect as unfair as that might be because he had never done anything that would have justified him losing it in the first place. He probably really shouldn’t keep him from doing so.
The Elder sighed and then nodded slowly. “I see what you mean. Still, try not to get yourself killed. We lost enough people and I wouldn’t want to have to tell Yun Bei Fen that we lost you as well. Seeing one of my disciples cry in the border region has been more than enough for my old heart. I wouldn’t be able to take it if the little one showed the same expression.”
Mei Chao Bing smiled at that, very vividly remembering the time when they had arrived here and Elder Baili had speed-walked out of the square before his disciple could start to cry because he hadn’t wanted to bother with that. Yes, clearly, he could take his fourth disciple’s tears even less.