Chapter 18: Ye Xiuwen’s Reckoning

Having been pushed away by Ye Xiuwen, Jun Xiaomo’s heart felt extremely bitter.

She knew that while Ye Xiuwen appeared to be warm and approachable, the truth was that Ye Xiuwen had built a towering wall around his heart. Perhaps it was because of his dark past or that terrifying scar on his face; but apart from Jun Linxuan and his wife, Ye Xiuwen habitually maintained a distance from everyone else. This distant attitude of his caused him to develop a solitary and independent, yet melancholic aura about him. At the same time, he was also enshrouded with an air of loneliness which was particularly apparent when all was still and silent at night.

In Jun Xiaomo’s previous life, Ye Xiuwen was once Jun Xiaomo’s closest kin after her parents’ death, and also her lifeline in her times of trouble.

At that time, this white-garbed big brother of hers who always donned a veiled conical hat had helped her ride out one of the most difficult periods of her life.

Yet, the former Jun Xiaomo could never tell whether Ye Xiuwen had helped her because they were fellow discipleship, or whether it was simply out of a duty to her then late-parents.

After all, with Jun Linxuan’s and Liu Qingmei’s death, Ye Xiuwen inherited their duties and responsibilities, which included this little martial sister of his and the management of Heavenly Peak.

To others, Ye Xiuwen could simply have forgone all of these and pursued his own dreams and future. But in Ye Xiuwen’s heart, duty and cultivation were both equally important, and none superseded the other.

Because he had to look after this little martial sister of his day and night, counselling her when she gets depressed, and at the same time think of ways to expel the demonic energy within her, Ye Xiuwen eventually lowered his barrier and opened up his heart to her.

He could sense his little martial sister’s reliance on him. It was a strange sensation and feeling, but to Ye Xiuwen, this sort of feeling was not too bad.

But these harmonious times were short-lived. On one occasion when the demonic energy within Jun Xiaomo’s body erupted again, she had in her struggle against the demonic energy inadvertently knocked over Ye Xiuwen’s veiled conical hat. At that time, Ye Xiuwen was too busy holding Jun Xiaomo down to prevent her from hurting herself that he could not even bother about the veiled conical hat…

But as the pain in Jun Xiaomo’s meridians gradually subsided and her consciousness returned, the first thing she saw was that terrifying scar sprawled across Ye Xiuwen’s face, and she unintentionally let out a scream.

The truth was, Jun Xiaomo could not even remember whether this scream was because she was shocked or afraid.

Regardless, because she had hurt Ye Xiuwen for the second time, he once again put up that barrier to his heart. No matter how much Jun Xiaomo apologized to Ye Xiuwen thereafter, Ye Xiuwen never opened up his heart to her again. To Ye Xiuwen, Jun Xiaomo was no longer anything more than just his duty.

As Jun Xiaomo roused from her thoughts, she could not help but feel like giving herself two tight slaps on the cheek. She knew that she had once hurt Ye Xiuwen in her childhood; otherwise Ye Xiuwen would not have rejected her outright at this moment.

Jun Xiaomo knew herself. Put nicely, Jun Xiaomo was a person who liked beautiful things. But put bluntly, Jun Xiaomo was a thoughtless person who judged things only by their appearances.

The irony was that in her previous life, those whom she loved schemed against her; and the beautiful Jun Xiaomo ended up having both eyes gouged out, and her appearances ruined. 

Yet Jun Xiaomo knew that she only had herself to blame. After all, what goes around comes around.

Jun Xiaomo was deeply immersed in her tragic and sorrowful memories, and her tears fell incessantly. Despite her tears, she struggled to open her eyes, and through that blurry, teary vision of hers she gazed at Ye Xiuwen’s silhouette.

She wanted to take off Ye Xiuwen’s veiled conical hat. She wanted to tell Ye Xiuwen that she was not afraid of the scar on his face at all! Yet no words emerged from her lips – as though the words she wanted to say were all completely lodged in her throat.

She could only continue to clench tightly to Ye Xiuwen’s clothes, as though once she let go of her hands, Ye Xiuwen would disappear from her life forever.

Ye Xiuwen looked down pensively at Jun Xiaomo. Even though he could not clearly determine the expression on Jun Xiaomo’s face through the veil of his conical hat, he knew that Jun Xiaomo was crying at this moment. 

The splotches on Jun Xiaomo’s fiery-red clothing caused by her tear drops were unmistakable. A few drops of Jun Xiaomo’s tears even fell onto his own clothing, dampening his garbs.

No matter what, she is still a fifteen years-old child… Ye Xiuwen sighed and silently thought to himself.

Even though she put on an imposing air and an impressive display in the Penal Hall, addressing three Sect Elders in front of an already suspicious audience could not have been an easy thing for her! Jun Xiaomo must have been so intimidated at that time, otherwise she would not be crying relentlessly right now.

Ye Xiuwen attributed the present situation to the manifestation of Jun Xiaomo’s fear, causing her to find solace and affirmation in the arms of an older martial brother from the same Peak. Regardless, his heart remained indifferent to Jun Xiaomo’s sudden appearance.

“Alright, you can stop crying now. Let’s go back together.” Ye Xiuwen gently loosened her grip on his clothing.

He recalled the scene in the woods outside the Sect a few hours ago where Jun Xiaomo had slightly demonized, and he had already intended to speak to Jun Xiaomo’s mother about it. At the very least, he had hoped for some clarity as to what exactly happened to Jun Xiaomo.

However, something told Ye Xiuwen that this matter was not going to be simple at all.

As to his removal of Jun Xiaomo’s hands from his clothing, he only felt that her outburst was a little bit too intense for him – Ye Xiuwen had been used to living a solitary life and was not used to having people intrude on his personal space.

On the other hand, Jun Xiaomo did not mind Ye Xiuwen’s suggestion here, so long as it meant that Ye Xiuwen was not outrightly pushing her away.

In this life, she was determined to make amends to her big brother Ye, as well as help him find his true love! With these thoughts, Jun Xiaomo could not help but smile, wiped down her tears, and then reflexively held onto Ye Xiuwen’s right hand.

Ye Xiuwen was momentarily stunned by her actions. Even though he was not used to it, he nevertheless indulged in Jun Xiaomo’s cheekiness here… 

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As her daughter seemed to be recovering well, Liu Qingmei felt sufficiently assured to leave the sect for a few days on a mission. Little did she know that immediately upon her return to the Sect, the first thing she would be greeted with was news of how her daughter was summoned to the Penal Hall to address a charge of harming a fellow disciple! 

The Messenger Paper Crane had been sent by her husband’s First-Seat Disciple, Ye Xiuwen. Liu Qingmei knew that Ye Xiuwen was not the type to callously joke about these matters – if he said that Jun Xiaomo had been summoned on that charge, then this must be the case.

At this moment, Liu Qingmei was both flustered and angry at the news. Without even bothering to tidy herself up after her long journey back to the Sect, she immediately departed for the Penal Hall. However, just as she stepped out of her room, she saw Ye Xiuwen holding onto her daughter’s hand, bringing her back safely.

Ye Xiuwen was clothed in his usual all-white attire, and exuded a warm yet dignified air about him. Beside him, her daughter’s attention-grabbing fiery-red clothing seemed to dilute the surreal, almost-divine appearance of Ye Xiuwen.

Liu Qingmei was momentarily stunned, and found this sight before her strangely harmonious. But this pleasant thought only dwelt in her mind for a short moment, before the wave of anxiety and worry in her heart swept it all away again.

“Mum!” As Jun Xiaomo noticed her mother standing at the door as though she were awaiting Jun Xiaomo’s return, Jun Xiaomo’s eyes lit up, promptly letting go of Ye Xiuwen’s hands and bolted towards Liu Qingmei. 

“Mum~~!” Jun Xiaomo leapt into Liu Qingmei’s arms and cuddled up in her embrace. Even though Jun Xiaomo’s soul was technically over one hundred years-old by now, yet the fact that she could experience the love and affection of her loved ones in this life made her feel like a little child once again.

Having once lost this warmth long ago, she knew that she had to cherish it and make every moment in the present count.

“Why have you got yourself into trouble again!” Liu Qingmei ignored Jun Xiaomo’s endearing behavior. Furrowing her brows, she pinched Jun Xiaomo’s cheeks.

“Ahhhh--! Mum, it hurts~!” Jun Xiaomo immediately let go of Liu Qingmei and rubbed her cheeks in pain. She did not expect Liu Qingmei to actually use so much force there! 

“Do you still know how to feel pain, huh? Why is it that just a few days after receiving your last punishment, you’re now in trouble again? I think you must’ve been spoilt by us! Do you think that you parents can protect you forever?! When you leave Dawn Sect for higher tiered sects, we will no longer able to protect you anymore. What’s going to happen when you get in trouble then?!” Liu Qingmei felt that her increasingly unruly daughter was truly deserving of a beating. Yet, Liu Qingmei could not bring herself to do it, and instead fiercely admonished Jun Xiaomo, hoping that that would jolt her to her senses.

Jun Xiaomo quietly took in all the scolding, and tears begun to well up in her eyes.

Of course she knew that her parents could not protect her forever. She had thoroughly experienced that in her previous life, so –   

“Mum, then next time it will be my turn to protect you and dad, okay?” Jun Xiaomo once again leapt into Liu Qingmei’s arms, obfuscating the tears in her eyes.

“We would already be very grateful if could just stop getting into trouble.” Liu Qingmei patted her daughter back as her originally roiling emotions gradually subsided.

Ye Xiuwen silently observed the scene playing out in front of his eyes. His veiled conical hat obscured his eyes, and no one could tell what expression he made on his face.

As soon as Jun Xiaomo’s emotions calmed down, Liu Qingmei lifted her head, asking Ye Xiuwen gently, “Xiuwen, thanks for bringing Mo-Mo back home. Seeing her leap and frisk about like that, am I right to say that she had not received any punishment this time?”

“Because of the lack of evidence, the Sect Elders decided not to pursue the matter. However, Ma’am, we might need to have a discussion regarding the condition of martial sister’s body.” Ye Xiuwen’s said with a solemn and serious tone.

“Her body’s condition? What happened to Mo-Mo?” Liu Qingmei worriedly examined her daughter’s face, discovering that Jun Xiaomo’s face was indeed pale and sickly. She had initially missed this detail only because of the bright-red clothing worn by Jun Xiaomo.

“Mum~ don’t listen to big brother Ye. I’m fine.” Jun Xiaomo held onto her mother’s hand, comforting her, whilst at the same time throwing a few glances over to Ye Xiuwen, hoping that he would not disclose the matter regarding the fall in her cultivation levels.

She did not want her parents to worry about her.

However, Ye Xiuwen either did not receive these “visual cues” from Jun Xiaomo; or he did receive them but nevertheless decided to ignore them.

Either ways, to Ye Xiuwen, he had a duty to report what he saw and heard to Jun Xiaomo’s parents. Because of that, he did not pay any heed to Jun Xiaomo’s thoughts or feelings.

Liu Qingmei obviously believed Ye Xiuwen’s words. She glared at Jun Xiaomo before looking back at Ye Xiuwen, tenderly saying, “Xiuwen, don’t stand on ceremony. Come, let’s have this discussion inside.”

Ye Xiuwen gently nodded in response, “Okay. Then, pardon the intrusion.”

“Don’t say that. I can’t even begin to thank you enough for all you’ve done.” Liu Qingmei gratefully replied. She knew that this disciple of Jun Linxuan did not have much affection for her daughter. But he chose to show respect for Jun Linxuan and Liu Qingmei by putting more effort into looking after Jun Xiaomo. This thoroughly pleased and satisfied Liu Qingmei. 

Except, it’s just such a pity that Jun Xiaomo had fallen for He Zhang’s disciple…Liu Qingmei sighed in her heart.

It was not that she thought Qin Lingyu was not qualified. In fact, it was just the opposite – Qin Lingyu’s qualifications were too good for Jun Xiaomo. Furthermore, Liu Qingmei’s intuition told her that Qin Lingyu did not really have much feelings for Jun Xiaomo, and she feared that the marriage arrangement was forced onto him by his master, He Zhang. Liu Qingmei did not require her daughter’s future cultivation companion to have great achievements. Instead, Liu Qingmei’s only requirement was that he would be true and sincere to Jun Xiaomo and treat her well. However, Qin Lingyu clearly did not meet this simple condition of hers.

That’s why every time she saw her daughter chasing after Qin Lingyu, Liu Qingmei would always have the urge to admonish her daughter.

As a mother, how could she bear to see her own daughter get hurt by others!

At this moment, Jun Xiaomo knew that she could no longer hide from her mother the fact that her cultivation level had fallen. She dejectedly pursed her lips, contemplating how she would assuage her mother later.

Does this mean I would have to tell Mum all about the Nineform Spirituo-demonic Refinement Technique? If she asks about the origins of this refinement technique, what would I say?

Jun Xiaomo rubbed her forehead – this is such a headache… 

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