Chang Chun just sneered in reply but Cao Tuo’s expression suddenly changed as he grabbed Jin Yu and shoved him out of the way. With one hand on the wall, Cao Tuo jumped out of the way just as a poisonous needle landed on the spot where he had been standing.
Cao Tuo’s blood ran cold. He quickly jumped up to the ceiling, hitting the beams so that half of the roof collapsed.
Chang Chun was surprised. He hadn’t expected that Cao Tuo had become this strong after the two years that they hadn’t seen each other. Using a skill, he immediately raised a force shield to protect himself from the falling stones. By the time the air cleared, the only thing he could see was rubble. Cheng Nuo, Cao Tuo, and Jin Yu were all gone.
Cao Tuo was running while carrying Cheng Nuo over his shoulder and Jin Yu under his right arm but he didn’t seem to be too burdened by the two of them.
Although Cheng Nuo’s face was twitching from the extreme pain, he appreciated the fact that Cao Tuo had rescued him. He forced out a slight smile and said, “Cao Tuo, you’ve become very strong.”
Cao Tuo smiled at him shyly. He was running quite fast and he soon found a secluded place to hide them all in.
Cheng Nuo reached out to check Jin Yu’s pulse and said, “He’s been poisoned by the ‘seven-day confusion’ smoke. Take out my storage bag.”
Cao Tuo quickly found the antidote in the storage bag.
Jin Yu recovered after taking it and gnashed his teeth in rage, cursing Chang Chun.
Cao Tuo shook his head at Jin Yu, warning him to stay silent. He said in a worried tone, “Big brother Cheng, how do you feel?’
Cheng Nuo was pale but said, “I’ll be okay. I just need a few days to prepare the antidote but before that, the poison needle in my flesh had to be removed.”
Teeth clenched, he tore open his clothes and asked Cao Tuo to make a cross-shaped cut at the place where the needle was embedded. Blood mixed with poison flowed out and Cheng Nuo used a magnet to draw the needle out.
Thinking of Liu Guang made Cheng Nuo feel anxious. Since they were in a sparsely-populated area, news of their capture would be slow to reach the sect but Cheng Nuo reckoned that it would be a month at most before Liu Guang heard about it. Knowing how reckless Liu Guang was, he might immediately run off alone to rescue Cheng Nuo.
These bandits were quite daring people who had been entrenched here for a long time. It was obvious that the nearby forces couldn’t eradicate them. This time, although the loss wasn’t exactly small, the little noble bride wasn’t very important so it wasn’t a given that his noble relatives and the city lord would send a large-scale rescue team to retrieve him.
Cao Tuo pondered their predicament for a while before coming up with a plan. “Big brother Cheng needs to lay low for a few days to treat the poison and he shouldn’t return to the jail cell because Chang Chun would definitely try to mess with him again. I’ll go to the boss to plead with him to put you in our group. I’m sorry big brother Cheng, I was wrong to ask you to stay in the cell until I found a way to get you out of there later.”
Cheng Nuo nodded. Jin Yu was right and the sooner he went, the better. Cheng Nuo was afraid that Cao Tuo and Jin Yu would be implicated if Chang Chun went to the leaders and told them that they had escaped together with Cheng Nuo. Besides, Cheng Nuo couldn’t escape given his current physical condition. After taking an antidote, Cheng Nuo felt better. He tidied his clothes and stood up. The three of them walked straight through to the main hall of the bandit camp.
The lights were blazing brightly in the main hall and the noise of their revelry could be heard from afar. It was clear from the way that the guards smiled as they greeted Cao Tuo and let him pass through immediately that Cao Tuo was a somewhat influential figure among the bandits.
Liu Wu was sitting at the center of the main hall, his arms wrapped around the little bride in his red wedding gown. From time to time, he would kiss the bride with his oily lips, making the little boy almost faint from fear. The other bandit chiefs were also drinking wine and eating meat with a trembling female seated beside each of them.
Cao Tuo looked around and saw that Chang Chun hadn’t returned yet. He was probably still looking for them. Cao Tuo took a few steps forward with Cheng Nuo and smiled, saying, “Boss, I found an old friend among the prisoners. He’s seriously injured and was part of the medical team. I’d like to ask you to assign him to our group. What do you think, boss?”
Liu Wu was flushed with success. He glanced at Cheng Nuo casually and said with a smile, “A coincidence! Are you sure he’s trustworthy?”
Cao Tuo smiled and said, “We’re childhood friends, so naturally he’s someone I can trust.”
Jin Yu chimed in, “Boss, this childhood friend of ours is very loyal. I also vouch for him.”
It was then that Chang Chun arrived and, hurrying forward with a gloomy expression on his face, shouted from afar, “Boss, that person is treacherous and cunning, don’t fall for his tricks!”
Chang Chun had thought that Jin Yu would bring Cheng Nuo down the mountain so he had chased them for a few miles but when he didn’t find any trace of them, he realized he was wrong and had ridden his magical beast back up the mountain. He glared fiercely at the three of them and took a few steps forward.
Chu Yunxuan, who was holding a wine cup, seemed to enjoy the spectacle and said in a jocular manner, “Could it be that there’s an ulterior motive? When my tenth brother left the party I thought he was off to enjoy a secret affair.”
Chang Chun laughed awkwardly. He had been in such a hurry that he hadn’t been able to change his clothes. The female who had been assigned to him had been tied up and left behind. How could he be in the mood to mess around with that female?
He glared at Cheng Nuo and said, “I know him; he’s a treacherous person. I was only afraid that the chiefs would be deceived by his glib tongue.”
Cheng Nuo’s heart sank. He asked himself if he had ever done anything bad to Chang Chun when he was a child for him to seek his death so many times. Cheng Nuo rarely dislikes people but now he really hated Chang Chun!
Cao Tuo tugged on his sleeves and took a step forward. Smiling, he said, “Boss, I’m afraid that the tenth chief must have misunderstood something. I’m willing to pledge my life to guarantee that big brother Cheng isn’t a treacherous person.”
Jin Yu said in a low voice, “Big brother Cheng would never betray a brother!”
Jin Yu glared angrily at Chang Chun when he finished speaking.
Liu Wu put his wine cup down and looked thoughtfully at Cheng Nuo. Seeing that the latter didn’t cower under his gaze and that Cheng Nuo’s eyes were gentle, Liu Wu said with a smile, “Second brother, what do you think?”
Chu Yunxuan didn’t like Chang Chun but Jin Yu was one of his trusted subordinates so he smiled and said, “Since these two brothers who are trusted by elder brother are willing to vouch for him, why not let him stay with us? He can always be killed later if he proves to be disloyal.”
Chang Chun took a step forward and said anxiously, “Elder brother and second brother, don’t be fooled by him! If he secretly plots with outsiders to destroy the camp, how can two minor gang leaders bear the responsibility then?”
In his impatience, Chang Chun had moved forward until he was almost pushing against the table in front of Liu Wu. Liu Wu’s expression darkened and he felt a little upset.
Chu Yunxuan chuckled. “I know that Jin Yu, Cao Tuo, and you are all from the same home town. So this Cheng Nuo is also one of your old acquaintances… Could it be that you have some personal grudge against him?”
Chang Chun hadn’t expected him to be so insightful so he was tongue-tied for a while.
Chu Yunxuan chuckled and looked as though he was enjoying an entertaining show. Chang Chun had left earlier, then Jin Yu and Cao Tuo had left the party hurriedly. It was probably because of this person from the same home town, right?
Cheng Nuo had been keeping his mouth shut all this time and he was shocked at this unusual development. Chu Yunxuan had once gone to the slums to show off but was seriously injured by Bai Rui. Now this same person was speaking up for Cheng Nuo?
Fortunately, Cao Tuo still had his wits about him. He quickly pulled Cheng Nuo forward and said, “Thank you second brother for your trust in me!”
Cheng Nuo made up his mind and said, “Thank you, second brother. I will live up to your trust!”
He bitterly smiled to himself. So he would have to become a bandit for a while even though he was a disciple of a righteous sect… he would be lucky to keep his life now.
This seemed like a trivial incident to Liu Wu so he just smiled and said, “Then give him a drink, Cao Tuo.”
Chang Chun was furious but all he could do was secretly gnash his teeth. He couldn’t do anything right now because Liu Wu was a man of prowess and Chu Yunxuan was too cunning. However, sooner or later he will find a way to kill them. At that time, he’ll tear Cheng Nuo’s body to pieces to vent his anger! Chang Chun restrained himself and sat down, pondering on his planned revenge as he drank.