“Elder Cai Long, the others are continuing their search, however so far we’ve yet to locate the target.” A young man clad in black robes reported while kneeling on one leg.
“No need to continue… With a high-grade illusion type, Enlightened Realm Treasure such as the Shrouded Soul Necklace, even if you're standing in front of her, you won't be able to detect a thing. Even someone at the Profound Realm such as myself would have trouble overcoming that treasure’s power. That is to say if you didn't have something like this.” Elder Cai Long said as he flipped his hand and a strange looking mirror appeared on his hand.
Lifting the strange looking mirror over his head, Elder Cai Long unleashed a powerful pulse of shimmering light that slowly began to sweep across the entirety of the Mist Mountain Sect’s airship.
“Dispel!” Elder Cai Long roared as the pulse of light enveloped one person after the other, causing a tingling feeling to run down their spines.
Although the elders of the Misty Mountain Sect were fairly bewildered and unhappy about the current situation, they did not dare to act. The Cai Clan had simply brought too many experts along with them.
Simply said, the Misty Mountain Sect did not send nearly as many experts as it should have to guard the disciples attending the Red Cloud Sect’s tournament. Had they sent a proper envoy, then even the difference in power between the two groups wouldn't be so great since Cai Long had only brought along a small group of his closest confidants.
“Brother Zhang, we need to leave… Now…” Cai Cao whispered into Zhang’s ear as the shimmering pulse of light quickly approached. Sadly, before they could act or come up with a proper plan, the shimmering pulse of light was already upon them.
As Cai Cao’s body was enveloped and wrapped in the shimmering light, the necklace hanging from his neck began to unleash a magnificent glow.
“Quickly let’s go!” Zhang said in an urgent tone as he grabbed Cai Cao’s hand and tugged on it while gripping an ordinary looking piece of jade that was dangling from his waist.
“It's over… I should have known that they'd find me sooner or later…” Cai Cao said in a dejected tone as the glow emitting from his necklace slowly began to diminish.
“Nothing is over! Brother Cai Cao, I may be lacking compared to you in terms of cultivation, I may be considered a country bumpkin who doesn't know too much about the world, but I can tell you that I'm definitely not someone who gives up without trying and you shouldn't either.” Zhang said as he pulled Cai Cao along.
“Where do you two think, you're going? A fragmented realm cultivator and an elementary realm cultivator, neither of which have the power to take flight. Where do you think, you can go while on an airship that's flying over a mountain peak?” Elder Cai Long’s domineering voice could be heard as the crowd of people around Zhang and Cai Cao slowly backed away and created a ring around them.
As the crowd slowly parted, and the glow from Cai Cao’s necklace slowly gradually, faint changes began to appear on his body.
His slightly tanned skin began to become white and glossy, his hair became sillier and smooth, his hands became slimmer and more delicate looking, his flat chest began to bulge and two mid-sized mounds soon came into view. In a matter of seconds, Zhang became completely lost in disbelief, Cai Cao’s handsome face was replaced by Wenji’s goddess-like features.
“Brother Cai Cao was a woman?!” A few of the disciples of the Misty Mountain Sect yelled out in disbelief.
“No wonder! No wonder he didn't fall for my charms!” A young girl said in a low tone.
“Cai Cao… Cai Wenji… If-if Brother Cai Cao is Wenji then that means I have a crush on Brother Cai Cao, who happens to be a girl. If he is a she and she is the one I have a crush on, doesn't that mean I've been telling my crush about my crush!?” Zhang thought as he felt his head spin. Memories that he had shared with a dashing young man named Cai Cao for the past year began to overlap with the time he had spent with a beautiful young girl named Cai Wenji.
Some may wonder how it was possible for Zhang to live with Cai Cao for almost an entire year and not realize the latter with a woman, however, that only serves to prove the power of the Shrouded Soul Necklace.
Thanks to the Shrouded Soul Necklace’s power, it would have been impossible to link Cai Cao to Cai Wenji, coupled with the fact that both Cai Cao and Cai Wenji had always acted somewhat mysteriously at times, Zhang couldn't possibly have figured things out had it not been for Elder Cai Long.
“Young miss, you look as lovely as ever.” Elder Cai Long said with a chuckle as he walked through the crowd and appeared in front of Cai Wenji and Zhang.
“The clan deeply misses you and have sent me to personally escort you back.” Elder Cai along added.
“No! I'm not going back to the clan until grandfather finishes his secluded meditative training! Until then I'll never return to that horrid place!” Cai Wenji yelled angrily.
“Young miss, if you don't come back, how will explain to the Wang Clan? There can't possibly be a wedding without a bride. The Clan head wouldn't be too happy if he had to apologize to the Wang Clan because you didn't return home.” Elder Cai along said as his subordinates slowly formed an encirclement in the air.
“Regardless of whether you want to return or not, there is not on here capable of stopping us.” Elder Cai Long said while reaching his hand out toward Cai Wenji, after glancing at the elders of the Misty Mountain Sect, who remained expressionless.
As Elder Cai Long’ hand inched ever closer, Cai Wenji felt a suffocating pressure envelope her, making it hard to breathe. Like the coming of death, Cai Wenji felt the hairs on her body stand, while a shivering cold wrapped around her.
“She said she isn't going with you. Isn't it unsightly for someone of your stature to pressure a junior like that?” Zhang’s thundering voice rang into everyone’s ear, shattering the eerie silence that had surfaced as a gleaming black colored blade swung downward in front of Cai Wenji, causing Elder Cai Long to instinctively withdraw his hand.
Standing in front of Cai Wenji with his sword in hand, Zhang could be seen glaring at Elder Cai Long, which in turn caused a wave of awe and respectful gazes to appear on the faces of the disciples of the Misty Mountain Sect.
The matter of fact is if a fight ensued and even if Elder Cai Long’s did not take action, against so many core realm cultivators, no one dared to make even a sound. Stiffened with fear, the chosen of the Misty Mountain Sect could only tighten their fists and watch on without the will to speak up or intervene on behalf of Cai Wenji.
Perhaps it was because he had experienced the atrocities of war, perhaps it was because he had lost all of his closest of kin, perhaps it was because of the maddening experience that he had suffered at the hands of the fragmented soul, perhaps it was due to all of these past experiences, or perhaps it was because he was in front of a girl whom he deeply treasured, despite standing face to face man many times stronger than him, Zhang did not show an ounce of fear.
“Haha, to think a mere fragment realm cultivator is actually standing in my way. Young miss, it seems like you have made quite a loyal friend. Sadly, to me and my men, he is nothing more than a pest.” Elder Cai Long laughed in a maniacal manner as he glanced at Zhang for a fraction of a second before redirecting his gaze back at Cai Wenji.
“If you value your loyal friend’s life, it would be a wise decision to return to the clan with us. If not, then the loss of a lowly fragment realm brat won't even cause a ripple in the cultivation community. Don’t even think of pulling off any tricks, if you even so much as attempt to flee, I’ll personally snap this brat’s neck.” Elder Cai Long threatened, causing Cai Wenji to fall into deep through as she stared at the broad back of the young man who standing in front of her.
As she continued to gaze at Zhang, as a storm of emotions was whipped up in her heart, causing her to fall into turmoil.
“I-I… I'll go with you… if you don't harm anyone here…” Cai Wenji said in a stutter as she felt a hint of resolve surface within her.
“Don't listen to him! If you leave with him in order to protect me, how do you think I'll feel? I'd rather die for a friend then live knowing it was because of me that my friend had to trade away their freedom.” Zhang said in a resolute voice as he recalled carrying the lifeless corpse of his sworn brother, Shu Shang across a blood-soaked battlefield.
Even if Zhang did not have a big crush on Cai Wenji, he felt that the friendship they had alone was enough for him to risk his life.
“For someone who can't even be considered a cultivator, you sure have guts.” One of Elder Cai Long’s subordinates, a man garbed in black robes said with a sneer.
“Cultivator or not, she is my friend and I don't have too many of those left to lose to people like you.” Zhang retorted while gripping his sword tighter before heading a brown colored sack to Cai Wenji. Within this sack was none other than Little Red who was soundly sleeping and unaware of what was currently happening outside. After taking the sack, Cai Wenji quickly slung it over her shoulder where a similar looking sack that held Little Blue could be seen.
“If you think stalling for time will help you, you're sorely mistaken. You think we don't know that you are in possession of a Teleportation Jade? Unfortunately, before that talisman can activate its power, you'll have taken in your last breath.” The man garbed in black robes said as a crooked grin appeared on his face and his body flickered.
In but a flash, the man in black robes appeared in front of Zhang. Before anyone could even react, a powerful slap impacted Zhang’s face, sending him flying like a rag doll across the airship’s upper deck and crashing into a group of spectators.
Although one of the elders of the Misty Mountain Sect tries to intervene, the man in black robes was simply too close and had dealt Zhang a heavy blow before the elder could arrive.
“Miss, since he is your friend, I'll leave him with half his life. However, if you do not make up your mind soon he may wake up to find that he was turned into a futureless cripple.” The man in black robes said as he slowly walked over toward where Zhang was.
Despite being knocked unconscious, Zhang could still be seen tightly gripping onto his sword while a stream of fresh blood oozed out from the corner of his mouth.
Seeing the wretched state Zhang was in, all of the disciples of the Misty Mountain Sect couldn't help but feel pity, while streaks of tears began to roll down the Cai Wenji’s delicate looking face as she arrived beside Zhang.
“Young miss, have you made your decision yet? If not I may have to finish what I had started.” The man in black robes threatened as he loomed over Zhang and Cai Wenji.
“Sires, if you can please spare the young lad. Although we don't have a say when it comes to your clan’s internal matters, Zhou Zhang is a disciple brought in by one of our sect’s grand elders. If he were to lose his life under my watch, I fear that this old man wouldn't have the face to return to the sect any longer.” Elder Liang of the Misty Mountain Sect said as he saw the man in black robes readying himself to finish off Zhang.
Injuring someone for acting insolent was one thing, but killing a disciple while they were under the watch of a sect’s elder, not something that even a small sect such as the Misty Mountain Sect would simply stand by and allow. To standby idle would only serve to tarnish the sect’s reputation and cause then to be ridiculed by the world.
“Hmph, you think that because we haven’t killed the lot of you, we are somehow friends now? You think that you can ask us for favors now?” The man in black robes said in a haughty tone as he proceeded to pull Cai Wenji away from Zhang’s unconscious body and deliver a powerful kick that was surely going to help hasten Zhang’s trip to the afterlife.
“Stop! Stop! I’ll go with you…” Cai Wenji cried as she saw what a sorry sight her dear friend had become after standing up for her.
“Cai Kang, it seems the young miss has come to her senses. There’s no need to stay here any longer, stop playing with that brat.” Elder Cai Long said as a bored expression was present on his face.
With their objective complete, Elder Cai Long and his black-robed subordinates began to depart, with Cai Wenji in tow.
“Quickly, give him a few lesser grade bone mending dans! If anything happens to him, we will be in for it!” Elder Liang said as he instructed a few of the other elders to quickly heal Zhang before the latter departed from the world of the living.
“I’m sorry…” Cai Wenji mumbled in a low tone as she inched ever further away from Zhang, with a heavy heart and cheeks stained with tears. Although she had a few very effective medical pills, Cai Wenji didn’t dare give Zhang any, because she knew the more she interacted with him the more problems and pain he would have to endure due to her.
So, despite gripping a small jade bottle of medical pills, she simply continued walking forward while cursing her horrid fate and blaming herself for the harm that had come to the young man whom she had spent night and day with for what seemed to be the happiest and brightest time of her life.