Chapter 919 Till Death Do Us Part
“The Creed of Divinity is one of the great orders of the lands, Grand Master Lu. I’m sure you know that sympathizing and protecting evildoers is hardly conduct becoming of such an illustrious order, or are the Creed a long-time supporter of the wicked Cult since a long time ago?”
That came from a woman in Taoist garb, her gaze piercing and her voice authoritative.
Lu Chuan was about to retort when a man beside the Taoist lady, a man whose gaunt and pale face would have made anyone think him a ghost took one pressing step forward and spoke, “Much strife and chaos these scum of the Cult had caused. Each and every one of the Cultists deserves death for the evil and carnage they’ve wrought. But the Punisher of Evil Shen Jia himself colludes with the Daughter of the Demon. You’re a respectable person, Grand Master Lu. Surely, you’ll agree that you owe us an explanation for the conduct of one of the Creed’s members?”
“For years, we’ve shed blood, sweat, and tears; all in the name of warriorship and justice. In our relentless hunt for remnants of the Cult, we’ve paid the most terrible price. Is this how the great and mighty Creed of Divinity repays the Jianghu? By providing refuge to evil Cultists?”
“That’s right! Truth always prevails! Get the Aspect of Vengeance here himself and I’ll say these same words right into his face! Or unless he would have every one of us here slaughtered to keep our mouths shut!?”
“Here we are, demanding justice!”
“Surrender! Surrender Shen Jia and that monster Lan Yingying!”
“Or has the Creed of Divinity become a warren of deceit and devilry as well!?”
“If the Creed wishes to remain persistent in wanting to provide refuge to evildoers, then the rest of us shall do whatever it takes to destroy you as well!”
Peals of sanctimonious uproars resounded through the courtyard filled with men, the reverberation of the din threatening to bring down the walls of the stronghold.
In all the years of the Creed’s rise into prominence and power, the leadership of the Creed under Grand Master Lu Chuan hardly made any refurbishments to the interior of the stronghold. As modest as ever, the stronghold of the Creed of Divinity remained just as simple as ever with its jade-green tiles and alabaster white structures. The main audience hall was the only building that was remotely close to anything majestic and stately enough. But with walls barely five to six meters tall, the deluge of champions and warriors from the twenty or so militant sects and orders here to demand Shen Jia’s head swept the main audience hall like a tidal wave while their cacophonous clamor threatened to bring the roof down.
Lu Chuan really was at his wit’s end.
So were the rest of the Creed’s acolytes. None of them knew what to do.
All of a sudden, the mob parted.
Shen Jia appeared holding the arm of a young girl. They appeared from inside one of the inner vestibules of the main audience hall, he in white and she in black. The years that had passed had seen the young and headstrong boy grow into a tall and thewy man with a stern and hawkish stare — a perfect specimen of both masculine strength and beauty.
So was the girl beside him. Lithe and dainty, but no less remarkable, she has a stare that exuded both strength and fortitude. Bloodstains smeared her obsidian dress and her features were hardly the most beautiful and captivating, but she made up for it with her skin as supple and smooth as cream and a mind as keen as a blade, making her the perfect model of both beauty and cleverness combined.
“Look! There they are!”
“Hmph, so it’s true! He really has chosen that monster!”
“I’d love to see how the Creed of Divinity plans to worm out of this!”
“I knew it! That Shen Jia’s a barbaric sort! I knew from a long, long time ago that he would one day fall to the dark side! I knew it!”
All eyes fell on Shen Jia and Lan Yingying.
“Grand Master,” Shen Jia bowed to Lu Chuan.
“W-Why did you come out?!” Lu Chuan gasped. The initial plan was for Shen Jia to remain inside while Lu Chuan dealt with the mob. So long as he was not being caught red-handed being together with Lan Yingying, Lu Chuan was sure that he would be able to get by denying the accusations while doing his best to appease the mob now storming the stronghold. He did not think that Shen Jia would expose himself so easily.
“This is all my fault, sir. It is my mess, to begin with, so I should be responsible, not you, not my other fellow acolytes here, and certainly not the Creed,” said Shen Jia pensively.
“You’re such a brash one, lad. You should have waited for your teacher and everything would have been settled,” Lu Chuan shook his head wearily.
Shen Jia smiled weakly as he thought of Li Mu.
“With Teacher’s hatred for all things foul and evil, I wonder what he’ll think? Would he be so angry that he’d punish me too?”
He turned to face the mob that comprised so many leaders and chieftains of the great sects and orders that have come. “Well, you were calling for me? Here I am now? What say you? I, Shen Jia, await your verdict.”
“You impenitent scum!”
“Kill the Daughter of the Demon with your own hands and we might allow you to live just yet.”
The rest of the mob would have tried to tear down every inch of the stronghold brick by brick, if not for their leaders and chieftains who calmed them all down.
“You’re young, Shen Jia. You know knowing how perilous and deceitful life in the Jianghu could be. But we’re willing to give you a second chance. Surrender the girl and make her tell us where is the Fiend hiding right now. Join us in our crusade against that monster and we might be able to come to an amicable solution.”
The female nun, Abbess Retribution spoke aloud her offer.
“Heh,” Lan Yingying scoffed with undisguised derision that clearly demonstrated her disgust.
“You speak of the impossible, Abbess Retribution,” Shen Jia smirked. “Don’t you realize that you are asking Yingying to plot against her own father? Let’s be frank, your so-called crusade, it’s nothing but conquest or a treasure hunt. You’re only after the Bequest of Mars map, aren’t you?”
“Watch your tongue, you insolent whelp,” The deathly-pale and lanky man stepped towards Shen Jia menacingly, “You’re a young man who has erred so terribly by allowing yourself to be seduced by the charms of a woman as evil as a serpent. Give her up right now, or I might give you a harsh lesson in what’s right and what’s wrong since your mentor clearly failed to ingrain that in you.”
The mention of his mentor was enough to rekindle the flames of anger. His arched back straightened as his glare turned keen and sharp. “I, Shen Jia, have been nothing but truthful and honorable in the ways my teacher had thought me. Who do you think you are to believe that you have the right to say such things!?”
“Impudence!” cried a voice, “How dare you contradict our Grand Master with such a disrespectful tone! Show some respect to the leader of the Dragonhawks!”
Shen Jia snorted. But before he could say anything snappy, his sight caught something through the corners of his eyes. Something that made his face squirm. Something that turned the proud and stern young man into a meek and timid boy like a vole who had just seen a cat as he kept his head low.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
Lan Yingying immediately took notice of the rapid and abrupt change in her lover’s demeanor.
The sharp-minded lass immediately knew something was wrong and she traced in the direction of where Shen Jia was looking at.
There was no need to think. One look at him and everyone knew who it
There was only one possible person in all of Molderad whom Shen Jia feared so greatly.
Even Lan Yingying herself, despite her mettle and nerve, could barely help feeling anxious and jittery.
“But if he too objects to Shen Jia and my relationship, then…” She mused with dread at the notion of standing head-to-head against what could be the deadliest man in all of Molderad.
Lan Yingying shuddered as she cracked into a weak and morose grin, expecting the worst.
There have been far too many instances where a pair of lovers who belonged to opposing sides have been forced to sacrifice their lives because of the forbidden romance they shared, only because of the cruel and merciless vagaries of a Jianghu where everyone plotted and conspired against each other all in the name of self-interest, power, and greed. Truth and honesty were all but qualities that have long but become extinct.
By now, everyone, including Lu Chuan saw Li Mu.
All Creed of Divinity acolytes stirred with renewed hope.
Li Mu arrived with his hands held nonchalantly behind his back.
Following closely behind was a morose and uptight Fang Mei.
The angry and uproarious mob parted like waves before the prow of a ship, quietly making way for Li Mu without any protest.
Li Mu casually made his way through the crowd.
“Teacher,” Shen Jia greeted him gingerly.
The last thing Shen Jia ever wanted was for his mentor to be involved. He thought that coming back to the Creed of Divinity stronghold would buy him and Lan Yingying enough time for her to heal and recuperate before they quietly slip away. Yet somehow word had got out, prompting the leaders and chieftains of the great sects and orders to band together and congregated just outside the stronghold to demand his surrender. That practically cut off his exit and ultimately caught the attention of his teacher.
“Hmm…” Li Mu nodded in acknowledgment before saying, “They say that you’re in league with evil Cultists now?”
“Teacher, I can explain,” Shen Jia immediately tried to speak up for Lan Yingying, “Yingying’s different…”
Li Mu cut him off, waving his hand dismissively, “Just answer my question. Were or were you not in league with the Cultists?”
“I-I… Um…” Shen Jia could barely look his teacher in the eye.
Only two persons in this whole wide world could put the fear of Heavens into the strong and intrepid Shen Jia and one of them was his teacher and best friend Li Mu.
“Master Li,” Lan Yingying immediately stepped forward to elucidate with an ardent and determined voice that she herself did not know existed, “It was I who tried to seduce him and I failed. I’m only here because of his sympathy. Execute me if you must, but this is no fault of Shen Jia’s.”
Li Mu peered at her and chuckled. “The Daughter of the Demon indeed. To think that a lass like you could utter the word “seduce” with not so much of a bat of an eyelid.”
Lan Yingying stared at Li Mu in the eyes defiantly in silence.
“I demand that you give the Jianghu a fitting explanation for the misconduct of your student!” The Grand Master of the Dragonhawks was the first to speak.
“Likewise! Goldenhill Abbey has nothing but bad blood with the Cult! Whatever happens today, I swear that this monster girl must die! I expect you will not want your reputation to suffer in defense of this scum of a student of yours?” The Taoist swordswoman, a nun by the name of Abbess Retribution added.
“Doom to her!”
“Burn the Cult!”
More than two thousand champions and acolytes of the various orders and sects that arrived yelled as one, their voice thundering across the Creed’s stronghold like a rumbling cumulonimbus.
Li Mu looked at his student and said, “So, what say you?”
Shen Jia strenuously lifted his head as if it weighed like lead. He looked at his mentor and fell to his knees with a thud. “I’ve sullied your name and all that you’ve taught me, Teacher. But Yingying and I are truly in love. She’s nothing like what the rumors described. The Daughter of Demon she’s not, and I… I know this is contrary to the lessons and values you’ve painstakingly instilled in me… And how much of an insult would this be to you… I ask of nothing, Teacher, except for a clean death and your mercy for Yingying. I swear that she’s a good and kind lass…”
“So you’re saying that you’re willing to vouch for her, even if it means your death?”
Shen Jia did not respond. All he did was bump his head on the ground repeatedly, again and again, as he bowed at the feet of his mentor.
Li Mu panned his gaze on Lan Yingying.
The proud and intelligent girl yanked her curved dagger out of its sheath with a cold swish. “Here’s my head, Master Li. It’s yours for the taking. But I ask only that you forgive Shen Jia. Nothing of this is his fault.” Without any remorse or guilt, she drove her dagger into her own throat. There was no fear and there was no hesitation. Only conviction.