Chapter 19: The Forgotten Marriage Arrangement

“Mo-Mo, what happened? Are you feeling uncomfortable anywhere?” As Liu Qingmei carefully observed Jun Xiaomo’s condition, she saw Jun Xiaomo rubbing her forehead and couldn’t help but worry for her.

Parents can truly never cease worrying for their children.

“Mum~ I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Jun Xiaomo endearingly clung onto Liu Qingmei’s arm and stuck out her tongue, before giving her mother a playful and radiant smile.

Liu Qingmei rapped her fist on Jun Xiaomo’s head, laughing in a good mood, “Naughty girl.”

Jun Xiaomo’s childish behavior had caused Liu Qingmei to subconsciously let go of her anxiety and worries.

Liu Qingmei knew her daughter’s nature. Ever since young, Jun Xiaomo had grown up in a honey pot – apart from the strict cultivation requirements Jun Linxuan had for her, Jun Xiaomo had never had to endure any hardship or adversities in life. Therefore, Liu Qingmei was certain that if her daughter were feeling discomfort anywhere, she would long have leapt into Liu Qingmei’s embrace and complained to her all about it. At the very least, she would not be leaping and frisking about.

Of course, it also did not occur to Liu Qingmei that the present Jun Xiaomo had in fact been reborn after enduring a whole life of hardship and adversity.

Instead, it was Ye Xiuwen who had noticed these little changes in Jun Xiaomo’s behavior. He recalled Jun Xiaomo’s speech in the Penal Hall – “Must I show it on my face if my body is in discomfort? What’s the point of revealing it on my face? So that you can pity or sympathize with me? Pity; sympathy; mercy – I, Jun Xiaomo, don’t need any of these things, because I am the daughter of Jun Linxuan. I have my pride.

Right now, it appears that her pride was not the only thing that caused her to hide the discomfort on her body – not letting her loved ones worry for her seemed to be another reason.

Jun Xiaomo never considered that her act of consoling her mother would cause Ye Xiuwen to reassess his original judgment of Jun Xiaomo. After Jun Xiaomo made her face at her mother, she turned around and noticed Ye Xiuwen seemed to be…observing her?

Jun Xiaomo felt a little embarrassed by Ye Xiuwen’s gaze. She subconsciously rubbed her face, asking Ye Xiuwen, “Brother Ye, is there something on my face?”

Ye Xiuwen silently shifted his gaze away, responding indifferently, “It’s nothing, martial sister. Would you like to stretch out your arm and let your mother examine the condition of your cultivation?”

The three of them had taken their seats by now, and Ye Xiuwen tactfully brought the conversation back to the main agenda at hand.

Jun Xiaomo knew that she could not avoid having this discussion any longer, so she looked at her mother and said with a shy smile on her face, “There’s nothing much to examine. It’s just…it’s just…it’s just that my cultivation level has fallen to the first level.”

“What?! When did this happen?! Why didn’t you tell mother?!” Liu Qingmei eyes knitted her eyebrows together as the fury in her eyes grew.

“Mum, don’t…don’t get angry.” Jun Xiaomo patted her mother’s back, then softly murmured, “It’s nothing too serious anyway. I can always regain the same cultivation level with some hard work.”

At least, this would be much better than having the demonic energy lodged in there, preventing any further progress to my cultivation level. Jun Xiaomo silently added in her heart.

“Rubbish! What do you mean “not too serious”? Do you think it’s so easy to regain your eighth level of Qi Mastery?! Besides, cultivation speeds tend to be quicker when one is young. Now that you’ve returned to the first level of cultivation, you may not even reach the eighth level of Qi Mastery with another sixteen years of hard work. If you can’t even step into the Foundation Establishment level, then you will be just like any other mortal, susceptible to the vicissitudes of life, and even death! Do you truly want your parents to witness your passing?!”

Jun Xiaomo noticed her mother getting increasingly agitated, and hurriedly poured out some tea, respectfully offering her a cup, saying, “Mum, it won’t be as serious as you’ve said.”

Liu Qingmei glowered at her, stifling an outburst of anger swelling rapidly from within her. In the end, she glared at her daughter and received the cup of tea.

As Liu Qingmei sipped on the tea, she re-composed herself and coldly demanded, “Stretch out your hand.”

Seeing how her mother was still brewing with anger, Jun Xiaomo compliantly place her hand flatly on the table.

Then, Liu Qingmei placed her fingers on Jun Xiaomo’s wrist and sent a thread of spiritual energy into her body, probing about her meridians and Dantian.

Jun Xiaomo did not say anything else, while her eyes remained fixated on her wrist. No one could tell what she was thinking at this moment.

Ye Xiuwen was also a man of few words. Unless it was necessary, he would usually prefer not to speak. Therefore, he also remained silently seated in his chair, patiently awaiting Liu Qingmei’s examination of Jun Xiaomo’s condition.

At this moment, the atmosphere in the room was heavy and somber – almost even stifling. 

After a long while, Liu Qingmei finally sighed and retracted her hand.

“Speak. When did you first discover that your cultivation level had fallen?” Liu Qingmei knew that this was the unfortunate reality – one that could not be changed. Therefore, she was calm and composed when she asked Jun Xiaomo about this. Nevertheless, one could tell from her expression that she was still mad.

She was mad that her daughter had concealed such an important thing from her. More than that, she was mad at herself for not discovering this situation earlier.

If I had known about this earlier, perhaps Mo-Mo would not have…

“Mum, it’s not your fault.” How could Jun Xiaomo not tell that that her mother was berating herself? Jun Xiaomo held her mother’s hand, adding, “Actually, even I didn’t find anything wrong with myself at the start. The medicinal pills given by Sect Leader He Zhang was quite effective, and I felt that my body was recovering pretty quickly. But…”

Jun Xiaomo hesitated before continuing, “But in the last few days, these medicinal pills seemed to have lost their effectiveness. Particularly, when I took that final pill, my body suddenly became extremely weak and lethargic. I thought that this was just the after-effects of the trauma to my body, and I would recover from it after a few days of rest. But even after a few days of rest, my body remained just as weak and lethargic. Then, when I finally examined the internal condition of my body today, I discovered that my cultivation level had fallen to the first level of Qi Mastery…Mum, sorry. I didn’t intend to hide anything from you.”

Saying this, Jun Xiaomo hung her head low, revealing a miserable look. Seeing this, Liu Qingmei also could not bear to excoriate Jun Xiaomo any further.

Liu Qingmei carefully considered Jun Xiaomo’s account of what had happened, and then latched onto an important detail – “You mentioned that Sect Leader’s medicinal pills suddenly lost their effectiveness?”

“Mmm…yes, they seemed to.” Jun Xiaomo raised her head again, hesitantly nodding her head before adding, “Then shortly after, I began to feel weak and lethargic.”

“Did you eat anything else that was out of the ordinary during this period of time?”

“No.” Jun Xiaomo “recalled” for a moment, before affirmatively shaking her head. 

Liu Qingmei stared into the distance as she thought for a while, before asking again, “Mo-Mo, do you still have any of the medicinal pills given to you by the Sect Elder?”

“I…I’ve finished them all.” Jun Xiaomo lowered her head, concealing the slight gleam in her eyes.

Liu Qingmei furrowed her brows again, delving deep into her thoughts.

At this moment, Ye Xiuwen was also looking at Jun Xiaomo pensively. If he had not witnessed with his own eyes the altercation between Jun Xiaomo and Yu Wanrou at the woods, then perhaps even he would be fooled by Jun Xiaomo’s current expression. 

Jun Xiaomo’s innocent and pure expression was on point; anyone watching right now would be fully convinced that she is telling the truth.

But Ye Xiuwen was well aware that Jun Xiaomo was lying. Just a few hours ago, Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation had evidently not fallen to the first level of Qi Mastery, otherwise that single palm strike she had delivered to Yu Wanrou would not have had so much power behind it. Ye Xiuwen originally thought that Jun Xiaomo had only decided to lie to the three Sect Elders in the Penal Hall in order to avoid getting punished. But now, Jun Xiaomo was even lying to her own mother!

Why did she have to cover up the truth about the fall in her cultivation level? No matter how much Ye Xiuwen thought about it, he could not think of any plausible reasons.

And besides, Jun Xiaomo’s explanations all seemed to be leading her mother to consider the Sect Leader as a potential issue, as though she were certain that the medicinal pills given by Sect Leader He Zhang were the source of the problem. But why was this the case?

Ye Xiuwen knew that Liu Qingmei, Jun Linxuan and He Zhang were martial brothers and sisters from the Sect and they could be considered to be on rather good terms. This was quite apparent from the way in which He Zhang persistently pleaded the Sect Elders for mercy on Jun Xiaomo’s behalf when she had trespassed on the Sect’s forbidden grounds. Furthermore, as a Sect Leader, the recovery medicines and pills belonging to He Zhang are all extraordinary treasures. The fact that he could immediately deliver medicinal pills to Jun Xiaomo should also speak volumes about his care and concern for her.

Therefore, there did not seem to be any basis for Jun Xiaomo to rattle the relationship between He Zhang on the one hand and Liu Qingmei and Jun Linxuan on the other hand. But she had nevertheless done so.

And this could not be attributed to mere callous speech either. Earlier in the Penal Hall, Jun Xiaomo had displayed her ability to tell a watertight lie to fool three Sect Elders to the point where they had insufficient evidence to maintain their charge against her. Not only that, she had even used that opportunity to give Yu Wanrou her just desserts! It was evident that this little martial sister of his was not someone who would simply shoot off the hip without any deliberation.

In any event, Jun Xiaomo’s plans and schemes seemed rather enigmatic at this stage, and Ye Xiuwen could not understand the ends she was trying to achieve.

Ye Xiuwen had initially also intended to inform Liu Qingmei of the possibility that Jun Xiaomo’s body could contain demonic energy within. But now, he capitulated and decided against it.

Since Jun Xiaomo wished to conceal her body’s condition to her own mother, then she must also have some plans to deal with it. If I divulged Jun Xiaomo’s secrets here, it would almost certainly foil her plans instead. Ye Xiuwen silently thought to himself.

Of course, it was not that he wanted to be complicit in Jun Xiaomo’s plans. Rather, he merely assessed that Jun Xiaomo possessed the ability to handle her own affairs, and that there was no need for him to interfere any further.

As to the fact that Jun Xiaomo lied as a result of her grand plans, that was not within the ambit of Ye Xiuwen’s concerns. In fact, he felt that this was instead a rather welcome development – the shedding of her naivete and ignorance means that she would no longer unduly implicate and burden her own parents!

In this regard, it could be said that Ye Xiuwen truly had foresight! 

Having considered all these matters, the satisfied Ye Xiuwen became completely taciturn.

At this moment, Liu Qingmei finally spoke, “Unfortunately, based on the lead we have right now, we cannot be certain that the problem was caused by the medicinal pills given by the Sect Leader. The medicinal pills given by the Sect Leader were relatively effective after all. Ai…it was my fault for thinking that you were recovering well and leaving the Sect for a mission. Otherwise, I would be able to stop your condition from worsening to this extent!”

“Mum~~” Jun Xiaomo held onto her mother’s hands tightly, but did not know how else to console her. 

There were many things that Jun Xiaomo could not directly tell her mother about. Therefore, she could only covertly make insinuations or suggestions in order to protect these people that she cared for the most.

She knew that it was impossible to expose that hideous and hypocritical side to He Zhang in just a short span of time. However, time was still on her side. As long as she had planted the seed of suspicion in her mother’s heart, then that seed would surely sprout one day.

“Oh yes, your father is almost out of his closed-door cultivation. Once he is out, let him have a look at your condition as well. And at the same time, we should start discussing the matters of your marriage to Qin Lingyu with the Sect Leader.” Liu Qingmei said anxiously.

The second half of Liu Qingmei’s statement completely startled Jun Xiaomo – 

“What?! Mum! I’m only sixteen!!!”

In her past life, her parents clearly thought that Qin Lingyu was not a good man. Why were they so anxious to marry her off in the present life instead?!

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