The group of demonic practitioners arrived at an unassuming door under the lead of Mu Qing. He stared at it deeply for a moment before reaching out and pressing his hand against it.
This palace was the place where his Master’s plan was supposed to come to fruition. Naturally, it wouldn’t be left defenseless against the other side. After all the preparation his Master had done, assuming such a thing was just ridiculous.
Unfortunately for his Master, he was too emotionless and he couldn’t understand the risk that came from raising his disciples among the righteous sects for so long. Maybe some like Qu Yijun could be unaffected and even go up against the others but they weren’t all like that. In fact, most of them probably weren’t.
He imbued some of his spiritual energy into the array inlaid into the door while he closed his eyes, thinking of the people he had left behind on the other side. If he could have, he would have returned but he also knew that this was an extravagant wish. He had been taken out of the righteous sects earlier than many of his martial brothers because he had gotten too attached. As a result, the righteous sects probably viewed him as one of the first traitors. They’d never accept him back.
The lines on the door faintly shimmered blood red and Mu Qing pulled back his hand, straightening up and putting on a neutral expression again. He couldn’t let anyone figure out that his thoughts were elsewhere or they might catch onto Zhi Guan’s presence. He couldn’t do that to him.
The door swung open as soon as he stepped back and Mu Qing stood to the side, motioning for the disciples to go in before him. His gaze brushed over all of them, never lingering for more than a moment but he did spot Yang Wu Huang among the disciples as well.
He couldn’t say if there were others mixed in but he did manage to catch these two thanks to the fact that he was familiar with them. After all, one could be considered a friend while the other … well, he had a one-sided rivalry with his youngest junior martial brother so he had paid some attention to him.
He looked slightly different now, having grown up in the years since he left the sect. Mei Chao Bing should be the same. But then, he could soon see for himself. After all, there was no way that he wouldn’t come whether that was because their Master finally managed to catch onto his weakness or because the final battle started. Zhi Guan and Yang Wu Huang appearing was just the first step.
The last disciple stepped through the door and Mu Qing followed right on their heels, closing the door as soon as he was through. The lines that had originally been lit up were extinguished but he paid them no heed. Instead, he walked through the narrow corridor behind the door, soon reaching the room on the other end where the disciples had gathered.
He glanced in Zhi Guan’s direction, his gaze also lingering on Song Yu Zheng for a moment to make it seem as if he was paying more attention to him since he was a disciple of their Wu Yun Sect. Only after that did he address everyone. “You have certainly all been briefed by your Elders so there isn’t much for me to say. I will assign rooms to you first. After that, you should all get to work immediately.
“Recently, the disciples from the righteous sects have discovered and investigated this place. They shouldn’t have been able to figure anything out but we need to be especially vigilant now that the plan is about to come to fruition. On your patrols, pay attention to every detail. While inside, check for anything out of the ordinary. Also, as a precaution, keep up the veils and beware of sneak attacks. We don’t want a repeat of what happened at the headquarters earlier.”
The disciples replied in unison before falling quiet again.
Zhi Guan followed along, having a rough idea of how to behave as the demonic sects didn’t seem to differ too much from the righteous ones in this regard. His mind was preoccupied though. Mu Qing hadn’t exposed him at the headquarters. Now, he told everyone to keep up the veils even though he knew who the perpetrator had been. Was this helping him? It seemed like it but he naturally couldn’t be sure. Mu Qing might have other plans.
Mu Qing didn’t glance in his direction again and instead turned around, leading the way further into the underground palace. Finally, they reached a corridor with one door on each side. He walked up to the right one, pushing the door open and exposing another corridor behind. “I don’t care much about which rooms you take. Just stay in your groups so you can keep an eye on each other so nobody will be ambushed.”
He motioned to the corridor behind the door and the disciples filed in, Song Yu Zheng and his group taking the lead.
Zhi Guan silently followed behind, feeling that moving with them was equal parts a curse and a blessing. Nobody else would question him as long as Song Yu Zheng seemed to trust him but, at the same time, he also had to be vigilant toward him and could easily expose himself. It really wasn’t easy dealing with a smart person.
Mu Qing didn’t seem to care about the disciples at all. He simply waited for everyone to grab a room, his gaze staying on the other side of the corridor as if keeping watch for intruders. In fact, he was thinking about what to do next. He didn’t want to see Zhi Guan in danger but he also couldn’t be too obvious about helping him or someone might become suspicious. After all, it was a well-known fact that he had been raised in the righteous sects. Some disciples naturally had some doubts about him because of that.