Chapter 16: The Second Elder’s Hidden Agenda

Yu Wanrou was indeed a hypocrite, but she did not think that there was anything wrong with being one! If in her previous life her mother had not earned her father’s love and favour by acting pitiful, then perhaps as a mistress and an illegitimate daughter, they would have been terribly oppressed by her father’s fierce and fearsome first wife.

Therefore, by Yu Wanrou’s playbook, so long as she could achieve her own goals, any means and measures were permissible – even if that meant using others as stepping stones.

Yu Wanrou had never placed Jun Xiaomo in her sights. Even though Jun Xiaomo was Qin Lingyu’s fiancée, she felt that as long as Qin Lingyu’s heart remained with her, it was only a matter of time that Qin Lingyu would come to her side. Besides, Jun Xiaomo was extremely naïve and foolish – the type that would not only be oblivious to the schemes of others, but would even unwittingly help others accomplish their schemes. Therefore, Yu Wanrou absolutely looked down on Jun Xiaomo.

Who would have known that one day she would be forced into such a predicament by Jun Xiaomo?

While Yu Wanrou found it permissible to use extraordinary measures to achieve her own goals, she did not want others to know of these intentions of hers. Therefore, when Jun Xiaomo publicly exposed her hypocritical ways in the Penal Hall, Yu Wanrou’s face felt as though it was on fire.

It was as though someone had peeled off the skin on her face – the resultant pain even caused Yu Wanrou’s heart to momentarily skip a beat.

But because she was seated far away and her head was tilted up, others did not see the panic on Yu Wanrou’s face. They only thought that Yu Wanrou had been shocked by Jun Xiaomo’s imposing mannerism, sighing in their heart – Jun Xiaomo is truly domineering; she even speaks in such a blunt and unrestrained manner!

Only this time, the disciples did not feel as much ill will towards Jun Xiaomo. At this moment, they were unable to discern Yu Wanrou’s character because they did not usually interact with Yu Wanrou, and therefore did not know what to make of the present scene before them. But that said, Yu Wanrou had always maintained a pretty good reputation around the Sect with her kindness and magnanimity. On the other hand, Jun Xiaomo’s character was not too bad either. Her candour, her abhorrence for evil, her straightforward demeanor, and even that civet-like pride of hers – these were all traits that were not loathsome at all.

While others remained oblivious to Yu Wanrou’s hypocrisy, Jun Xiaomo could see it with pristine clarity. She smiled faintly towards Yu Wanrou as though saying, Yu Wanrou, this is but the first step. Just you wait and see…

Yu Wanrou couldn’t help but tighten her grasp on her clothes, biting down on her lower lips.

At this moment, the disciples in attendance looked back and forth between Jun Xiaomo and Yu Wanrou, completely unable to discern who was right and who was wrong, or whether there was a third possible interpretation of the matters before them – Jun Xiaomo’s words are completely reasonable, and her imposing manner makes her look like she has the moral high ground. Yet Yu Wanrou’s teary-eyed appearances makes her look as though she is thoroughly aggrieved and humiliated. It also seems to be authentic. As things are right now, there is really no way to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth!

As the disciples in attendance looked on in confusion, the Second Elder, who had silently been observing the proceedings, calmly took a breath, poising himself to interject.

“Everyone, the truth is, there is one small detail I did not point out earlier. Disciple Yu Wanrou’s Dantian also seems to contain a trace amount of demonic energy. But, because it had been thoroughly mixed with her spiritual energy, I couldn’t be sure earlier. Now, it doesn’t seem out of the question that my suspicions were right, and Yu Wanrou might have been injured by a rogue demonic cultivator. After all, we’ve previously also encountered such an incident where a demonic cultivator had disguised himself as a Dawn Sect disciple and hurt a real Dawn Sect disciple, thereby inciting an internal dispute.”

What?! Demonic energy?!

The disciples in attendance all froze in shock. Dawn Sect was a righteous and upstanding sect and had always abhorred the ways of demonic cultivators. Who could have suspected that a demonic cultivator would be involved in the present dispute!

Only, why did the Second Elder not speak up about this earlier? Everyone harboured this question in their heart, yet no one dared to directly question the Sect Elders.

Jun Xiaomo shut her eyes, concealing the roiling emotions swelling up in her heart.

So that’s how it is! These old fogey Sect Elders are actually able to distinguish between demonic energy and spiritual energy. If that is the case, why didn’t any of them inform me about the demonic energy in my body in my previous life? Instead, they chose to wait until the demonic energy had erupted from my body before relentlessly persecuting me on the pretext of rooting out evil in the world!

Jun Xiaomo suddenly felt her temple throbbing with pain. The rage in her heart continued to swell, and the surrounding chatter started to remind her of her lonely and desolate days of her persecution where anyone around her could be a potential assailant.

“Silence.” The Second Elder suddenly released a wave of pressure throughout the Penal Hall. The pressure released by someone in the Immortal Ascension level was not something that could be easily withstood. Many people momentarily felt their chests tightening up and their breathing quicken, yet nobody dared to utter another sound. The Penal Hall was now so silent that one could hear a pin drop.

The Second Elder lifted his eyelids, saying, “Since disciples Jun Xiaomo and Yu Wanrou have both stuck to their own account, both equally valid, and there is even the possibility of the involvement of a demonic cultivator, we shall adjourn this inquest for now. Lingyu.” The Second Elder called out to the Qin Lingyu who stood silently at the side, supporting Qin Shanshan with his arms.

“Yes, Second Elder? May I ask what orders Second Elder may have?” Qin Lingyu was unable to bow at this moment, and instead respectfully nodded towards the Sect Elders.

“I want you to bring a few of the Sect’s disciples to scour the woods outside the Sect later and see if there are any traces or presence of a demonic cultivator.”

“Yes, Second Elder.” Qin Lingyu acknowledged.

The Second Elder nodded his head in satisfaction, promptly standing up and saying to the rest of the disciples in attendance, “This matter shall end here. Let this also be a warning to everyone here – you must not harm fellow disciples, otherwise you will be punished in accordance with the Sect’s regulations! You may go.”

“Yes, Sect Elder.” All the disciples responded in unison. As the three Sect Elders departed from the Penal Hall, the disciples respectfully bowed, sending them off. 

As soon as the Second Elder had left, everyone in the Penal Hall buzzed into frantic discussions of what had just happened. Some people felt puzzled by the fact that the Second Elder would conceal the truth about the demonic energy on Yu Wanrou’s body, while others still felt that the key to the truth still lay with Jun Xiaomo and Yu Wanrou. As a result, many disciples secretly glanced over inquisitively at Jun Xiaomo and Yu Wanrou, hoping to glean some clues from their expressions.

Yet, Jun Xiaomo merely clenched her fists, calmly looking in the direction of where the Sect Elders had left.

She couldn’t help but suspect that the Second Elder had only disclosed the fact about the remnant demonic energy on Yu Wanrou’s injury in order to protect Yu Wanrou and save her from the charge of slander.

But why? The Second Elder and Yu Wanrou were neither relatives nor friends. So why did he feel compelled to do this?

Furthermore, if the Second Elder could discover the trace amount of demonic energy from Yu Wanrou’s injuries, why was it that when my cultivation progress came to a complete standstill in my previous life, and the Second Elder examined me, he merely said that he could not find the cause of the problem?

Did he truly not discover the accumulation of demonic energy within my body, or did he never intend to disclose this observation?

Jun Xiaomo eyes grew frigid and cold as she pondered.

“Wanrou, are you alright? Will you be able to go back on your own?” The voice of a male disciple rang from not far away, disrupting Jun Xiaomo’s train of thought. Following the source of that voice, Jun Xiaomo discovered that it belonged to one of Yu Wanrou’s suitors from the same Peak as her.

“I…I think I should be alright.” Yu Wanrou’s face was filled with tear-stained marks. As she said that, she struggled to clamber up from her mat. However, her body was still weak from her injuries, and her legs immediately gave way. Instinctively, that male disciple stretched out his arm and caught her before she fell.

“Perhaps it would be a better idea if I sent you back after all.” That male disciple said in a concerned fashion, while his eyes spoke volumes about his adoration and fondness for Yu Wanrou.

He was obviously pleased with the fact that he now had the opportunity to get closer to this beauty.

“Alright. I’ll have to trouble martial brother Ke then.” As Yu Wanrou gently replied, she subconsciously glanced over at Qin Lingyu.

On the other side, after Qin Lingyu gave instructions to a few martial brothers regarding the search for the demonic cultivator, he immediately carried Qin Shanshan and left the Penal Hall, not even glancing back at Yu Wanrou or Jun Xiaomo.

Seeing this, Yu Wanrou dejectedly hung her head down. She could not help but feel bitter in her heart. Even though she knew that Qin Lingyu’s coldness to her was intentional to prevent rousing the suspicion of others, she still could not help but feel upset. After all, the present Yu Wanrou had fully invested her heart in Qin Lingyu.

Forget it. Jun Xiaomo is Qin Lingyu’s fiancée, and yet Qin Lingyu didn’t bother giving her any attention either. Yu Wanrou thought in consolation, gradually calming herself down.

As she thought about it, Yu Wanrou lifted her head, hoping to see a similar frustration on Jun Xiaomo’s face. To her surprise, what she saw was instead Jun Xiaomo’s fleeting shadow – Jun Xiaomo had rushed out of the Penal Hall, as though she were chasing after somebody. 

Hmph. She must be chasing after Lingyu. Yu Wanrou mocked – go ahead, no matter how hard you chase after him, the person that Lingyu loves is still me!

Of course, Jun Xiaomo was not actually chasing after Qin Lingyu. Ever since she was reborn, her heart would swell up with immense hatred and perplexing frustration every time she met an enemy of her previous life. Why then would she of her own volition put herself through such pain by chasing Qin Lingyu?

Rather, she was chasing after Ye Xiuwen. A few hours ago, she had noticed Ye Xiuwen’s figure flash by outside the Sect and had then spent a good amount of time looking for him in the woods. In the end, the only person Jun Xiaomo ended up finding was Yu Wanrou, causing her to wonder whether her eyes were playing tricks on her.

Later, she noticed Ye Xiuwen again in the Penal Hall. That surreal existence had left an indelible impression in her mind, reminding her of the warmth and security of the final bastion of protection she had experienced in her past life.

Yet, the former Jun Xiaomo had foolishly given up all of these.

In this life, the person she had wanted to see the most, apart from her parents, would be Ye Xiuwen. Naturally, she also wanted to see her other martial brothers and sisters, but the desire to see her parents and Ye Xiuwen was the greatest.

Jun Xiaomo swore on her heart that if Ye Xiuwen ever fell in love in this life, she would do all she could to help Ye Xiuwen find the right partner, even at the cost of her own life. This was what she owed to Ye Xiuwen. 

Naturally, Ye Xiuwen’s partner would at the very least have to be dependable and virtuous. As for that despicable Zhang Shuyue from her previous life, Jun Xiaomo would not hesitate to let her taste the tip of her sword!

“Brother Ye!” Jun Xiaomo anxiously called out to that white figure in front of her, simultaneously hastening her footsteps and sprinting forward. Because of the drop of her cultivation level, her body condition was currently terribly weak. Yet, fueled purely by her willpower and desire, she maintained her pace and ran towards Ye Xiuwen.

At this point, she did not know what came over her. But she felt that if she could not tangibly feel for herself Ye Xiuwen’s existence, then she wouldn’t be able to help but feel that all of this was but an illusion, and when she awakened, she would still be in that dank and dark dungeon.

At this instant, Ye Xiuwen stopped in his tracks, and slowly turned around.

“Brother Ye!” Jun Xiaomo called out again, and the rims of her eyes suddenly reddened.

In her previous life when they were fleeing from danger together, Ye Xiuwen had on several occasions stopped like this ahead of Jun Xiaomo, silently waiting for her to catch up. 

Yet, she was also the one who caused Ye Xiuwen to die in her previous life.

The present Ye Xiuwen never expected Jun Xiaomo to call out to him. Even more unexpected was the fact that Jun Xiaomo was now rushing towards him like an arrow just loosened from a bow.

The veiled conical hat worn by Ye Xiuwen obscured his astonishment at this moment. Before Ye Xiuwen could even react, a petite frame shot into his bosom, tightly clutching his waist and burying her warm face into his chest.

Ye Xiuwen stood in the middle of the road, completely flabbergasted.

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