Chapter 127: Mystic Woods, Missing Companions

If this were any other day, Jun Linxuan and Liu Qingmei would hardly be nervous about Jun Xiaomo travelling out of the Sect with Ye Xiuwen. At best, they would have sent a Messenger Paper Crane to check in with them and ensure that Jun Xiaomo had indeed linked up with Ye Xiuwen.

After all, Ye Xiuwen had always presented himself with maturity and steadfastness that was well beyond his age. Therefore, both Liu Qingmei and Jun Linxuan knew that they would be able to entrust their daughter to Ye Xiuwen’s care. At the very least, it was far better than entrusting their daughter to Qin Lingyu.

However, their most trusted First-Seat Disciple had somehow landed himself in a heap of trouble now. Qin Lingyu, Ke Xinwen and the other Dawn Sect Disciples had all made a testimony sworn on oath that Ye Xiuwen had betrayed the Sect by colluding with demonic cultivators. Therefore, there was no way that Jun Linxuan and Liu Qingmei could suppress the worry and concern in their hearts.

It was not that they believed the testimony of these other disciples. In fact, there was not a single cell in them that believed that Ye Xiuwen would be capable of straying from the orthodox paths. Notwithstanding that, they had witnessed with their very own eyes the contents of the letter endorsed by the other members of the entourage that had travelled out of the Sect – it was even replete with their signatures and sealed with their auras!

“Linxuan, no wonder I’ve always felt strangely uneasy these last few days. I worry that something might have happened to Little Wen.” Liu Qingmei placed her hands on her chest as she remarked. Her chest had begun to hurt from the onset of pangs of anxiety.

“Don’t be too worried just yet. Let me release a Messenger Paper Crane to check in with them.” Jun Linxuan reassured Liu Qingmei as he patted her shoulders. But at the same time, his furrowed eyebrows revealed his equal measure of anxiety right now.

“No! Linxuan, we have to personally make a trip to check on them. We’ve seen with our own eyes the letter sent by disciple Ke. Its contents even mentioned that Ye Xiuwen had colluded with the demonic cultivator to hurt the Inferno Kingdom’s second prince, and that the Inferno Kingdom’s Grand Vizier is on his way to kill them right now. If…if Mo-Mo is also among those who are being pursued by the grand Vizier…” As she thought about what her daughter’s fate might be, Liu Qingmei began to shed tears again.

Decades of their marriage had culminated with a single, treasured child, Jun Xiaomo. They had sheltered her and protected her, worried for her and cared for her. Who would have thought that their daughter would now be met with a series of unfortunate events? It was as though she had to make up for all the previous shielding and sheltering from harm all at one go.

Furthermore, her daughter was only at the first level of Qi Mastery. Once she leaves the protective boundaries of the Sect, even a mere mortal who practices martial arts would be able to injure her, much less the potentially strong cultivators or spirit beasts that they might possibly encounter. Liu Qingmei could hardly bring herself to contemplate the kind of difficulty and harm that her daughter might be put through.

“Alright, alright, don’t be anxious.” Jun Linxuan reassuringly patted Liu Qingmei’s shoulder again as he added, “Then, let’s send a message to Ye Xiuwen and that unfilial daughter of ours. After that, we will use Teleportation Scrolls to make our way there quickly. However, I can’t be certain that Jun Xiaomo would definitely be by Ye Xiuwen’s side right now. After all, I’m quite sure that if Ye Xiuwen discovered Jun Xiaomo’s presence sneaking up on him, he would have sent Jun Xiaomo packing back home without any hesitation.”

Liu Qingmei furrowed her eyebrows as she sighed, “But I still do hope that Mo-Mo has managed to locate Ye Xiuwen. Otherwise, where are we going to begin looking for this troublemaker in that vast world out there?”

Just as Jun Linxuan and Liu Qingmei finally agreed to make the trip out of the Sect to personally search for Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo; the trio consisting of Jun Xiaomo, Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan, who had pressed on with a steady tempo, finally made their way to the borders between Inferno Kingdom and the Mystic Woods.

As a result of the Grand Vizier’s formation array, they had been unable to hide their tracks and conceal their movements from the Grand Vizier. Furthermore, their Teleportation Scrolls had all been rendered ineffective. Each attempt to teleport was nothing more than a waste of a single Teleportation Scroll.

Therefore, when they closed in on the edge of the Mystic Woods, Jun Xiaomo, Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan exchanged glances and tacitly agreed on their next move – they would dash into the Mystic Woods.

The trees in the Mystic Woods were far taller than those in any other ordinary woods that they had passed by. The dense foliage comprising of branches and twigs interlocked high in the sky, eclipsing the grounds of the woods. The grounds of the Mystic Woods were therefore eerily chilly and enshrouded in darkness.

In that moment where they all dashed into the Mystic Woods, their surroundings darkened almost instantaneously. It took some time before they could acclimatize to their new surroundings and regain their vision once more.

“Be careful. Large, powerful spirit beasts might appear here without any warning.” Ye Xiuwen whispered into Jun Xiaomo’s ears, and Jun Xiaomo nodded her head in acknowledgment. Even though the frequent combat and skirmishes had reduced her body into a rather sorry state, her eyes were still alert and sparkling bright.

Ye Xiuwen patted Jun Xiaomo’s head. Then, he released his divine sense and began probing about at their surroundings for any movements.

Rong Ruihan looked at Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo’s backs as he lowered his eyes, suppressing that feeling of disappointment that had momentarily swelled up in the depths of his heart.

Situ Cang had initially thought that it would not be too difficult to capture Rong Ruihan and the others as long as he took matters into his own hands. Little did he expect that the trio were completely unfazed by his presence. These three people were no more than puny cultivators at the Qi Mastery stage of cultivation, yet they behaved like slippery eels – no matter how many subordinates he had sent out to capture the trio, the trio would somehow always manage to give them the slip.

How would Situ Cang ever have guessed that it was not because of some sheer, dumb luck that the Jun Xiaomo trio had evaded capture on every occasion? Rather, their escapes were attributable to Jun Xiaomo’s rich and rife combat experience from her great escapes in her previous life, supplemented by Rong Ruihan deep and profound understanding of the Grand Vizier’s subordinates. The trio’s ability to complement each other was what allowed them to escape each and every well-planned ambush set up by the Grand Vizier at every step of the way.

“A bunch of imbeciles!” Once Situ Cang learnt that the Jun Xiaomo trio had charged headlong into the Mystic Woods, his fury swelled up and he immediately smacked one of the subordinates standing closest to him, turning him into nothing more than a gruesome pulp of blood, flesh and bones.

The other subordinates remained half-kneeling on the floor before Situ Cang as shivers went down their backs.

Situ Cang had never expected the trio to dive recklessly into the Mystic Woods. After all, the Mystic Woods were rife with dangers. If one were not sufficiently prepared, their ability to leave the Mystic Woods with their lives intact would be entirely up to fate.

Who would’ve thought that they would rush in so recklessly?

Situ Cang squinted his eyes thoughtfully.

The trees in the Mystic Woods are tall and dense, and they are hardly suitable for setting up formation arrays. It could be that the trio had considered this before they made their decision to take the risk and rush straight into the woods.

Situ Cang waved his hands at his subordinates as he instructed, “You may take your leave. Rally your troops and deploy them in the Mystic Woods. This time, there’s no need to capture them alive. I don’t care what you do, and how you do it. Just bring me their damn heads. Go!”

“Yes!” Situ Cang’s subordinates respectfully acknowledged in unison as they took their leave.

Then, Situ Cang turned around and looked at the Dawn Sect disciples behind him as he quipped, “This Sovereign is going to propose another transaction. It’s still the same rewards of the national treasures from the Inferno Kingdom’s treasury, but I would like to change some of the conditions of these tasks.”

“I wonder what conditions senior Situ plans to amend?” Qin Lingyu bowed slightly as he sought to clarify.

“Haha, it’s simple. Let’s change it to…whoever kills a person among that trio would be rewarded with one national treasure from the Inferno Kingdom’s treasury. What do you say?”

Qin Lingyu’s heart immediately thumped vigorously in excitement. Of course he wanted to agree! They had everything to gain and nothing to lose from such a transaction!

After all, there was no need for them to personally kill the three of them. It sufficed if they could cause them to die in the hands of someone or something else.

However, Qin Lingyu was adept with his pretenses. Just like how he had allowed Ke Xinwen to report back to the Sect with minimal involvement on Qin Lingyu’s part, he intended to do the same here. This was all carefully planned out so that he would always have a way out even if Ye Xiuwen managed to somehow turn the tables against them.

And this was despite the fact that Ye Xiuwen’s chances of survival were incredibly marginal in light of Situ Cang’s hatred against those who had hurt the second prince. At this moment, Ye Xiuwen simply needed a miracle.

Qin Lingyu collected his own thoughts, adjusted his emotions, before speaking with a slightly “distressed” look, “This…Brother Ye is still our Sect mate after all…”

Qing Lingyu’s words were immediately cut off by Ke Xinwen, who eagerly responded, “And if we managed to kill all three of them?”

Situ Cang looked at the avaricious looks in Ke Xinwen’s eyes; and then turned his attention towards Qin Lingyu. He could tell that Qin Lingyu coveted those treasures as well, and he was merely putting on a pretense of camaraderie at this moment. Despite that, he chuckled sardonically as he responded, “If you can truly do that, then I’ll allow you to pick out any three national treasures you desire, hmm?”

After all this was made patently clear, Qin Lingyu and Ke Xinwen no longer voiced out any opinions. The other Dawn Sect disciples also lowered their heads silently as they tacitly expressed their intentions.

It was as Situ Cang had postulated. Jun Xiaomo and the rest had considered the fact that the Mystic Woods were densely filled with great, towering trees which would inhibit Situ Cang’s preparation of formation arrays. This was why they had decided to rush headlong into the Mystic Woods.

Situ Cang’s lackeys were hot on their tails, and the trio knew that there was no way they could immediately run towards Rong Ruihan’s hideout without giving away its location. Therefore, they turned to their other options at hand.

The Mystic Woods truly lived up to its name. Apart from skyscraping, towering trees and vicious spirit beasts, there were even parts of the woods that where enshrouded with thick, stirring fog that obscured a person’s vision, misdirected his senses and even induced illusions.

Jun Xiaomo knew the dangers of possibly splitting up and losing the other two. Therefore, she issued a Transmittance Talisman to Rong Ruihan and Ye Xiuwen, and all of them dripped a drop of blood each onto these talismans.

These Transmittance Talismans were slightly different from the ones used by Rong Ruihan earlier. These Transmittance Talismans were made to be carried by a person’s side at all times. If they strayed from the group, they would be able to use these Transmittance Talismans to communicate with each other.

Thus, Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan held tightly onto these Transmittance Talismans as they walked into the woods in a single file, one behind the other, with Jun Xiaomo standing between the two of them.

Jun Xiaomo knew that they did this in order to protect her. After all, her combat abilities were still the weakest among the three, and the other two were far better equipped to deal with any dangers lying in wait ahead of them or creeping up at them from behind.

Therefore, Jun Xiaomo did not resist their present arrangement. She only mentally noted that gratitude that was in her heart.

The fog grew thicker and thicker. Slowly, Jun Xiaomo realized that she could no longer clearly see Ye Xiuwen or Rong Ruihan anymore. All that was left were two vague, distorted figures ahead of her and behind her.

Moments later, Jun Xiaomo began to discover that something was amiss. She paused in her steps and called out to Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan, “Brother Ye, first prince, should we pause for a moment? The fog here is simply too thick. I believe that even if the Grand Vizier’s men had followed us here, they would be lost by now.”

After she spoke, she waited patiently for Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan’s response.

Yet moments later, her surroundings remained completely still and silent. Nobody responded to Jun Xiaomo’s suggestion.

“Brother Ye? First prince?” Jun Xiaomo anxiously walked ahead of her and behind her, hoping to find the other two. But there was no longer a trace of the other two in sight.

They had lost sight of each other!

Jun Xiaomo immediately whipped out her Transmittance Talisman and called out Ye Xiuwen and Rong Ruihan’s names. To her dismay, the Transmittance Talisman had somehow lost its effects as well. Nobody responded to her calls.

Jun Xiaomo clutched at her chest as her heart began to thump more and more vigorously.

This was the blaring alarm arising out of the primal sense of fear that had swelled up in her heart.

But it was also precisely because of this that she discovered yet another anomaly – the lapels of her clothing were too smooth and unfettered.

That bag containing her little packrat had disappeared!

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