"Damn", Ming Yue cursed herself for being careless and ran off, not bothering to cover her tracks anymore.
"You cannot escape me!" Miss Ling shouted.
She quickly clothed herself and chased after Ming Yue, holding a jade flute in her hands. Putting it to her mouth, an intense howl came from it, chasing after Ming Yue. Each note produced continuous howls, like the cries of a wolf. These howls became sharp blades that chased after her like hungry beasts.
Ming Yue avoided most if not all of them, running towards the forest outside of the city. She sped into the trees, planning to use the shadows of the trees and maze-like environment to lose this woman. Each attack that Ming Yue dodged had cut through the trees as if nothing was there. Deep scars ran down the bark, it was likely that they could cut right through. If they were any ordinary trees, this feat would not he anything worth mentioning. However, these were the Maple trees that Maple Root City was known for. The whole forest is cared for by the city and has lived for almost a thousand years, furthermore, any or the sweet sap that isn't harvested hardens into a protective layer. Ordinary people can't even scratch it, so for a single attack to cause that much damage was something to fear.
"She's about as strong as me", Ming Yue thought as she compared herself with Miss Ling. She was not a cultivator of the Earth Realm, instead she was at the Human Realm like Ming Yue. But the flute was definitely not an ordinary one. She was't sure as to what grade it was but at the very least it was on par with her sword.
After several rounds of chasing, the attacks stopped but she could still hear the shrieking notes of the flute.
Miss Ling must have lost track of her, randomly attacking everything in her path. She chased her for over an hour, creating innumerable cuts and gashes on the trees. The sweet smell of its sap permeated the air. If one was to explore and examine the trees, they would be shocked to find cuts deep enough to see the core.
"Damn it", she grit her teeth, having been unable to capture the one that saw her face and body. Miss Ling turned away and left the forest, bitter about the result.
Ming Yue watched her leave and breathed in relief. She chose not to enter the city immediately, in case that woman was still there. With time on her hands, she thought about what she had gathered today. The mastermind behind this was most likely not this woman. Considering what she had shown Ming Yue, there was definitely someone else controlling the strings.
The resources she had were unusually high quality and she gave out gold like it was nothing. Judging by her scarred face and body, she must have gone through intense torture or training. Either way, this Miss Ling definitely had someone backing her up. After all, why would such a powerful person take such secretive measures instead of outright attacking the Zhao? This was no ordinary situation.
Ming Yue pondered these details and covertly went back to the city, making sure that no one spotted her. Sneaking back into the Zhao Estate, she entered her room to find Xuan Yin asleep, cuddling with Hei Yue. She chose not to disturb her sleep and spent the morning cultivating, circling her inner force and adjusting her body.
Hei Yue was the first to awaken followed by Xuan Yin. She rubbed her eyes as she walked up to Ming Yue's cross legged position. The latter was finishing up her cultivation session and with the two together, they began discussing about what they learned.
Ming Yue spoke about the benefactor, her weapons and skills, as well as her distinctive features. Lengthening the discussion and complicating the mystery as she began to share her own thoughts and theories. Xuan Yin talked about a number of things, some of which Ming Yue had already known but there was a glaring difference with their experiences.
With the Yong Family, she had offered her body to them for marriage. But according to Xuan Yin, the Shi Family were interested in the offer for another reason.
"She has a unique constitution, I think they called it the "Rampant Outburst Body". I overhead them discussing their plans over using it to strengthen the younger generation. With some ancient techniques, they would absorb a bit of her blood in order to breakthrough at least once.", said Xuan Yin.
With a body titled "Rampant Outburst", Ming Yue understood the reason why Miss Ling had so many scars on her. The constant outburst of inner force would run the risk of a body explosion, those scars were probably proof of the many close calls she had trying to control her energy. It seemed like her body was cursed, brimming the energy and yet unable to control it. A treasure for others but a lifetime of misery for the owner of such a body.
But this detail had further cemented the idea that there was someone else watching from the shadows.
"Should we bring this information to the Zhao Patriarch?" Xuan Yin asked, ready to talk with him.
But Ming Yue was not as impatient, "I have to ask him several things beforehand. There are some things that I want to confirm before we reveal all this."
The duo left their abode and asked around for the Zhao Patriarch, finding him within his personal quarters. He sat in his desk, reading through a number of documents. Behind him were shelves filled with scrolls and papers, most likely about the family businesses and other issues. His red hair was tied up in a bun as he scanned through the words before looking up and finding Ming Yue and Xuan Yin.
"Ah, has something happened?" his voice was indifferent, neither cold nor warm as he spoke to them.
"No, not much has happened yet", Ming Yue replied, "I just wanted to ask you a few things."
"What is it? What would you like to know?" he asked.
"Just two things, Do you know anything about the benefactor that is supporting the Yong and Shi Family?"
"Outside of giving them gold to fund this fight, she has even offered her own wretched body to whichever one defeats my family first. My advisers have been informing me of all the rumors circling the city. I honestly do not know why she would go through such lengths to attack us" his tone was a bit different this time around. He sounded a bit flustered, disgruntled when reminded of this mystery.
"Then do you know the families have planned for if they accomplish their goal?"
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"This...most likely marriage. What do you mean by asking me these questions?" he became a bit unhappy with her questioning, "Shouldn't this knowledge be common?"
"I just wanted to confirm some things" Ming Yue answered, "You can't always trust rumors, some things should be seen with our own eyes."
"What do yo-"
In the middle of speaking, the three of them heard the loud marches of men, growing louder and louder.
"Zhao Chang Yu! Come out of there!" the voices of two men shouted, carrying a bit of energy in their voices.
"Damn, why are they in such a hurry?" he asked himself before leaving his quarters with his weapon, a hexagonal club.
Ming Yue and Xuan Yin followed him closely, it seemed like much of the Zhao Family was prepared for this. Everyone stood by the gates with their weapons drawn, facing the combined forces of the Yong and Shi. Patriarch Zhao stood at the front with his club as he smiled at the other two patriarchs. The Shi Patriarch looked like a scholar. Having an aged face as well as dressing up in white robes coupled with a fan, h seemed more attuned to books than fighting. The Yong Patriarch was a short and stout man who wore lavish clothing and wore gauntlets on his hands. Despite his small stature, his large frame was more than enough to make up for it.
"Zhao Chang Yu! We will give you a choice, either leave Maple Root City with you whole clan or we will do it ourselves."
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