Chapter 32: Duan Xilai
An astonishing piece of news swept through the entire Celestial River County within half a day. Almost everyone in the county was discussing the same topic: thirty-seven Celestial River Academy disciples had been killed on a secluded street, of which thirty-six had had their heads smashed. There were many members of the Duan family among them, including Duan Tianshan—the son of the Duan Family Leader, Duan Xilai.
The entire county was in shock.
The Celestial River County had always had a high crime rate with robberies and homicides occurring quite regularly. However, the victims on that occasion were not ordinary people; they were all disciples of the Celestial River Academy! Even the weakest among them were at the Seventh Strength Martial Stage, and the strongest one was at the Sixth Energy Martial Stage. They could have been considered quite powerful even in the entire county; one shuddered to consider just how fearsome the perpetrator was, to be able to kill all of them in one go.
Furthermore, all of the bystanders had also been killed, and the crime was only discovered when the Young Mistress of the An family had passed through the area with her entourage.
The entire county was in uproar. Everyone was trying to identify the perpetrator and his motive, as well as anticipate what the response from the Celestial River Academy and the Duan family would be.
The Mayor immediately joined the Celestial River Academy in issuing warrants, spurring the entire county into action in an attempt to find the killer. On top of that, several hundred troops were deployed to scout the county, capturing anyone that was suspicious and killing all those who dared to resist!
Thus, everyone was plunged into a state of panic and distress, fearing that the killer would reemerge and continue the killing spree.
In the Duan family mansion.
Within the courtyard stood over a hundred people, many of whom wore expressions of grief and rage. The atmosphere was very grave.
“The Family Leader is here!”
Everyone parted to create a path for a well-built man in a set of black robes and a red cloak. He turned to reveal his broad, heavily bearded face, as well as a pair of sharp piercing eyes.
“We pay our respects to the Family Leader!”
The Duan family entourage bowed in unison.
That man was the Duan Family Leader, Duan Xilai, who was also one of the ten most powerful warriors in the Celestial River County!
Duan Xilai wore an extremely thunderous expression. He narrowed his eyes as he let loose a booming cry, “The events that transpired today have brought a severe humiliation upon the Duan family! Members of our family along with dozens of their followers have been slain on the streets! News of this has reached the ears of everyone in the county, and our family’s reputation has been heavily dented! We must find the culprit through whatever means necessary and avenge our fallen brethren!”
Everyone put their hands together in salute.
Duan Xilai scanned his eyes across the people gathered before him. “Duan Dakai, Duan Jinhong, Duan Yidao!”
Three figures strode forward at the same time, all of whom possessed powerful auras.
“You three, go and visit the An, Wang, and Sun families, and tell them our Duan family’s stance on this matter. Request for help from them in our investigation to find the killer. Also, look into all of the members of their families that are at or above the Sixth Energy Martial Stage. Request for detailed information on their whereabouts during the time of the incident. In this entire county, only those three families are powerful enough to kill thirty-seven warriors in one go!”
The three men received their orders and immediately left to complete their respective missions.
Many years ago, they were all young prodigies of the Celestial River County, and had since developed to become core members of the Duan family.
A middle-aged man with a mustache stepped forward.
“You work at the Colosseum, so I’ll send you there to request a list of all of the contracted colosseum warriors from Yan Thirteen! Aside from the four major families, the Mayor’s patrol squad, and the county army, the Colosseum has the most number of powerful warriors and their identities are all quite mysterious. Perhaps one of them has a vendetta with our Duan family and committed these crimes as an act of revenge!”
The middle-aged man nodded with a crestfallen expression.
Duan Xilai heaved a faint sigh. “I know that both of your sons have died, but so has my Tianshan. We are both experiencing the same grief, so we must do all we can to find the culprit! Once we do, we will take immediate action!” A ferocious aura abruptly erupted from Duan Xilai’s body as he snarled like a feral beast, “All those who oppose the Duan family must be wiped out without any exception!”
An artificial mountain in the Duan mansion courtyard that was over a hundred feet tall suddenly crumbled and exploded into countless pieces of rubble, sending dust and shrapnel flying through the air.
Duan Xilai had just crushed the artificial mountain with a single palm and he stood beside it with a twisted expression of rage on his face.
The Celestial River County Youth Battle Tournament was coming up in a few days and many lineal branch family members had come to visit him recently in hopes of securing spots for their children. As such, he already had a lot on his plate and the shocking murders that had taken place had completely set him off like a lit match to a fuse. He simply had to vent his fury on something.
Even though he had never regarded Duan Tianshan as a son of his, and even saw him as a disgrace, his death had still brought extreme humiliation to the Duan family. At the same time, Duan Xilai was struck by a sense of unease. He had heard from his sons, Duan Gucheng and Duan Renshan, that Duan Tianshan had been banding together with the likes of Duan Yuan and Duan Jin to pick on a Strength Martial Stage disciple of the academy. So how had they ended up being killed on the streets?
The Duan family was not without its enemies. They had come into conflict with all three of the other major families and had also offended many other smaller families and powers. However, the Duan family were arguably the most powerful among the four major families. In any case, they were the wealthiest and most influential family in the Celestial River County, so who would dare to provoke them like this? On top of that, those that had been slain included the likes of Duan Tianshan, Duan Yuan, Duan Jin, and a bunch of other peripheral characters as well as academy disciples who were yet to come of age. What was the point in killing them?
“So, they were picking on a Strength Martial Stage disciple? That could very well be the root of the problem! I have to pay a visit to the Celestial River Academy first!
Duan Xilai felt like it was necessary for him to find out more information about that aforementioned Strength Martial Stage disciple. Thus, he clasped his hands behind his back and quickly left the courtyard.
Qi Ying stood up from within a bathtub and streams of red water flowed from his hair and down his body, sending the metallic pungent odor of blood wafting through the air.
He grabbed a towel and wiped himself down before putting on a set of clothes that had been placed beside the bathtub in advance. After slipping on his silver glove, Qi Ying passed through the corridor and arrived in a room with many pieces of calligraphy and artwork hanging from the walls.
Within the room, Master Thirteen continued to practice his calligraphy as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
He continued to look down at the sheet of paper before him and asked in an indifferent voice. “Was it your first time killing someone today?”
“No.” Qi Ying shook his head.
Master Thirteen’s hand faltered as a mysterious smile appeared on his face. “Then, did you kill someone for the first time on the Nameless Mountain over two months ago?”
Qi Ying paused momentarily before replying. “Yes.”
Master Thirteen put down his brush and clasped his hands behind his back as he raised his head to appraise Qi Ying. “No wonder… Looks like I underestimated you.”
Qi Ying cut straight to the chase. “Master Thirteen, why did you kill all of those people for me? I presume it’s not just because you’re trying to groom me as the next colosseum superstar.”
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