Niu Hai didn’t dare to delay. As soon as the Grandmaster motioned for him to do as he had been told, he rushed out of the study, silently praying that Yue Lin wouldn’t be in too much trouble.
Ah, he really didn’t know how that guy had managed to sleep through that encounter! Grandmaster Shen’s sheer presence was hair-rising, okay? That should be able to even wake up the dead!
He rushed to the Elder’s private place in the farthest corner of the alchemy division. It was only a small house with two or three rooms but a sizable courtyard outside that held many precious herbs.
At this moment, the Elder was surveying precisely those herbs, nodding to himself while he cared for them.
Niu Hai grimaced when he saw them. He had no idea what Grandmaster Shen was thinking but if he said that he didn’t need to tell the Elder that it was him who wanted to see him, then what the Grandmaster actually meant to say was surely ‘don’t you dare let it slip it was me who sent you or I’ll skin you alive’. So naturally, he couldn’t breathe a single word or show anything in his expression. He could only make it seem as if something bad had happened and needed his immediate attention. Well, on the bright side, he certainly looked freaked out enough to pull that off.
“Elder Teng, Elder Teng!” Niu Hai stopped several meters away from the gate to the courtyard, not wanting to go any closer. “You … you come fast! It’s … it’s a matter of life and death!” Then, he turned on his heels and ran away again, deeply afraid that the Elder would ask a single question. For example: Whose life and death? Well, he’d be damned if he knew!
Elder Teng stared at Niu Hai’s back in a daze but then rushed after him. This man had joined the sect together with Yue Lin back then and even though they had ended up in different divisions, they had still hit it off. Thus, Niu Hai would regularly come over here. If he was running around, hollering that something bad had happened, he would believe it at once.
The two rushed back to the study, Niu Hai arriving a step ahead. He grimaced when he came in and stepped to the side, hastily clasping his hands. “I did as told.”
Elder Teng rushed in right behind him, thinking that he would find Yue Lin injured or the documents damaged or something like that. Instead, his gaze was attracted by a handsome figure in black robes. He gawked in confusion but finally recalled his manners and hurriedly greeted the person. “Grandmaster Shen, what a surprise. I didn’t know you intended to come over.”
Shen An De gave a hum and closed the book in his hand, putting it back on the shelf. “I assume so. To be honest, I was surprised as well. You see, somebody told me that the alchemy division of our sect had somehow fallen to the point where the disciples were now in charge of the documentation. No, not just the disciples but a single one by the name of Yue Lin. Imagine my surprise when I came to check and found this to be true.”
Elder Teng froze. He wanted to argue but the Grandmaster shook his head at him.
“Don’t bother. I went through some of the documents, then some of the ledgers of the previous years. They were all written by him. You know, I wondered how long this had been going on. Then I remembered … the person who told me shouldn’t have been at the Hei Dian Sect even once in the last millennium. That does make your thoughts wander, doesn’t it?”
Elder Teng could only cough. Well, it sure did when the Grandmaster put it this way. His gaze flitted about and he finally decided to push as much responsibility away as he could. “That is indeed outrageous!
“I indeed gave some responsibilities to Yue Lin in the past. He is my personal disciple, after all, and supposed to succeed me in the future. It started out with just a little but became more over time since he was doing a good job and I thought he was ready.
“I wasn’t aware that it had gotten to such a point though. The other Elders must have seen him work so hard and then took advantage of it. This kind of thing … I will deal with it harshly!”
Shen An De gave a hum. “Yes, you should. But don’t worry. I am sure Sect Master Mi is going to help you with making that decision.”
Elder Teng froze. “Uh … Is it really necessary to bother the Sect Master with this kind of matter?”
Shen An De raised his brows. “Naturally. After all …” He raised his hands and swept up the ledgers on the shelf with a grand gesture. “This has been going on for a long time and nobody ever seems to have checked this disciple’s work. Otherwise, it would have long been discovered just how much advantage the Elders of the alchemy division were taking of him.
“Now, what if there was a mistake somewhere? Of course, everything should be checked very carefully.” He smiled and then motioned at the door. “Let’s go then. We shouldn’t put things off for too long. I still have something to do later on.”
He walked to the door himself and stopped next to Niu Hai. “Right, disciple Niu, please call the other Elders of the alchemy division together and tell them to go to the Sect Master’s place. After that … I believe you and disciple Yue are supposed to go to the Long kingdom’s capital city. I will take you there when this matter is taken care of.”
Niu Hai dumbly nodded, not sure what even had happened. But then, he also didn’t dare to ask when the other side was Grandmaster Shen.