Chapter 20: Upper-Tier Sect Selections

“What is it? Aren’t you very fond of Qin Lingyu?” Liu Qingmei found Jun Xiaomo’s reactions rather strange.

“Who likes that guy!” Jun Xiaomo retorted, evidently flustered by the turn of events. Liu Qingmei’s suggestion here was not within her scope of considerations at all. Scenes from her previous life immediately flashed before her eyes, and Jun Xiaomo had to muster all her willpower to suppress her emotions so that they were not unduly revealed in front of Liu Qingmei and Ye Xiuwen.

She took in a deep breath, lowered her head, and clenched her fists tightly under the table.

The tragedy in her previous life all began with that person. Earlier in the Penal Hall, she even had to consciously avoid looking in his direction to prevent her emotions from welling up within her.

It was not because she was still fond of him; but it was because she was afraid that she would explode with uncontrollable rage and hatred if she saw him.

“Mo-Mo?” Liu Qingmei worriedly tousled her daughter’s hair. She had thought that her daughter was just upset that she was being teased. But now that she saw her daughter silently sitting there with her head hung low, it seemed that there was more than meets the eye.

“Mum, I’m fine.” Jun Xiaomo lifted her head once again and looked over at her mother with a casual smile on her face.

It failed this time. Liu Qingmei furrowed her eyebrows even more, clearly unconvinced by Jun Xiaomo’s expression.

“Mo-Mo, is it because you and Lingyu had a quarrel?” Liu Qingmei was taking a jab in the dark. She knew how fond her daughter was of Qin Lingyu. Even when she was in comatose from the Sect’s punishment, she would constantly call out for “Brother Lingyu”. Evidently, Jun Xiaomo had already fallen inextricably in love with Qin Lingyu, and this caused Liu Qingmei a lot of frustrations and worries.

After deliberating for a moment, Jun Xiaomo revealed the harsh truth of the matter, “We didn’t quarrel. I just don’t like him anymore.” 

“How can you say that you haven’t had a quarrel? These are clearly words borne out of anger!” Liu Qingmei glared at her daughter, simultaneously patting the back of Jun Xiaomo’s hand, offering her guidance, “Mo-Mo, matters of the heart need to be worked out together by both parties. You cannot be too headstrong, do you understand? Also, you and Qin Lingyu already have a marriage arrangement. Marrying him is only a matter of time. With your current situation, it might be better if you marry him earlier.”

Upon hearing the words “marriage arrangement”, Jun Xiaomo’s eyes widened in horror.

How could I have forgotten this!

The incident happened when Jun Xiaomo was fifteen years of age. Back then, almost the entire Sect knew that the daughter of Heavenly Peak’s Peakmaster was fond of the Sect Leader’s First-Seat Disciple, Qin Lingyu, but Qin Lingyu’s attitude to her had largely been one of indifference. Occasionally, he would express some concern for her, or perhaps every now and then bring a small gift or two back for Jun Xiaomo from his missions outside the Sect. But apart from this, Qin Lingyu had been quite passive.

Qin Lingyu also knew that Jun Xiaomo was fond of him. There was once when Qin Lingyu was hurt from one of his missions outside the Sect, and Jun Xiaomo had immediately rushed over to Qin Lingyu’s side, giving to him the only bottle of Lifesource Pill that she had. It was clearly only a very small wound, yet that had already broke Jun Xiaomo’s heart. Jun Xiaomo’s display of affection was so obvious and pure that only an idiot would not see it.

But Qin Lingyu did not say anything – he did not positively display any signs of affection for Jun Xiaomo; and did not reject Jun Xiaomo’s display of affection to him.

Qin Lingyu’s lukewarm attitude towards Jun Xiaomo was deeply upsetting to her who had strenuously pursued him. Finally, she exploded with exasperation. She stood directly in front of Qin Lingyu and asked him to make a choice – either be together with her, or state clearly that he did not like her so that she would no longer be tangled in this mess.

Jun Xiaomo was a person who practiced what she preached. If Qin Lingyu had indeed rejected her there and then, she would have thoroughly given up her pursuit of Qin Lingyu as well.

But, not only did Qin Lingyu not reject her, he even proposed to the fifteen years-old Jun Xiaomo three days later. 

Jun Xiaomo was only fifteen years-old. In the mortal world, it was not considered too early to be married at this age. Yet in the cultivation world, it was in fact considered slightly earlier than usual. Besides, both of Jun Xiaomo’s parents did not find Qin Lingyu to be a trustworthy person – this man was ambitious and far too cold. They were afraid that their daughter would be taken advantage of.

“Do you truly wish to take Jun Xiaomo’s hand in marriage?” Jun Linxuan asked with a cold gaze in his eyes, momentarily releasing an immense wave of spiritual pressure.

“Yes, I wish to marry her.” Qin Lingyu forcibly resisted the spiritual pressure emanating from Jun Linxuan, all the while coolly maintaining his eye contact with Jun Linxuan.

Jun Xiaomo was also present at that moment. She wanted to stop her father from putting pressure on Qin Lingyu, but she was immediately stopped in her tracks by Liu Qingmei who glared at her and shook her head sternly. If Qin Lingyu could not even withstand such a small amount of spiritual pressure, then it might be best for him to just give up right now.

Then, Jun Linxuan once again increased the spiritual pressure on Qin Lingyu, asking incisively, “Do you love Jun Xiaomo?”

As Jun Linxuan’s words left his mouth, Jun Xiaomo was momentarily rendered speechless. She subconsciously looked at Qin Lingyu with bated breath – this was also something that she had wanted to know for a long time. Did Qin Lingyu ever love Jun Xiaomo; or was this all just unrequited love on her part…

Qin Lingyu squinted her eyes, and without much hesitation, he nodded and said, “Yes, I love Jun Xiaomo.”

Jun Xiaomo finally let out a sigh of relief.

At this moment, Jun Linxuan released the spiritual pressure around Qin Lingyu’s body, and Jun Xiaomo ran over to Qin Lingyu’s side, supporting him. Jun Xiaomo’s heart was filled with immeasurable elation and sweetness right now.

Seeing her daughter bashfully look at Qin Lingyu with cute and helpless looking eyes, Jun Linxuan also sighed with resignation – rather than saying that he was satisfied with Qin Lingyu, it would be more accurate to say that he simply could not bear to see his daughter look disappointed.

This was a father’s compromise.

Furthermore, Jun Linxuan felt that as long as he was still around, Qin Lingyu would not dare to bully Jun Xiaomo at all.

In any event, Qin Lingyu’s proposal to take Jun Xiaomo’s hand in marriage had succeeded. With the Sect Leader presiding over the formalities and the Sect’s members as witnesses, Jun Xiaomo and Qin Lingyu had finally sealed their marriage arrangement. Once Jun Xiaomo turned twenty years-old, they would officially become husband and wife, and cultivation companions.

Since she had been reborn, Jun Xiaomo had almost forgotten all of these.

Thinking about how she used to desperately pursue Qin Lingyu, the present Jun Xiaomo could not help but feel like beating up her former self.

The former Jun Xiaomo was so fixated on his express admission of love that she had failed to consider how authentic and real his love truly was – after all, love is not merely an expression to be said, but something that had to be shown with actions and deeds. The Qin Lingyu in her past life had never allowed his “love” to manifest in actions or deeds, and Jun Xiaomo had always been the “giver” in the relationship that they had.

“Mum, this is not borne out of anger. This is my decision after much thought and consideration. Qin Lingyu and I are not compatible.”

Jun Xiaomo solemnly said to her mother, hoping that this would be sufficient to convince her mother of her present attitude towards Qin Lingyu.

She’s not even calling him “Brother Lingyu” anymore… Liu Qingmei frowned, clearly distressed by a few considerations that had surfaced in her mind.

If her daughter had truly recognized their incompatibility before arranging the marriage, then it was a splendid thing. But things are a bit more complicated now that they have already arranged the marriage, and under the Sect Leader’s authority no less. How could they just resile on the marriage arrangement just like that?

Worse, a rescission of the marriage arrangement would be tantamount to giving the Sect Leader a slap on the face – it was a complete disrespect of his authority to formalize such marriage arrangements!

Liu Qingmei was a person who always thought of others before herself and took the big picture into consideration. Even though right now He Zhang was a suspect for causing her daughter’s cultivation levels to fall, but that was still no more than just a conjecture. After all, He Zhang had no conceivable motive to do this in the first place. Therefore, Liu Qingmei temporarily shelved her suspicions for He Zhang.

Furthermore, Liu Qingmei believed in leaving a way out for others and not burning bridges so that there is a possibility of a future together. She did not want this small incident to incite the Sect Leader’s animosity.

Besides, even though Qin Lingyu did not treat her daughter very well, he did not seem to treat anyone else very well either. Perhaps it was just in his nature to be so cold and indifferent in the first place? Therefore, Liu Qingmei did not feel any need to rescind the marriage agreement at this stage.

“Mo-Mo, good girl. Would you like to tell mother why you suddenly say you and Qin Lingyu are no longer compatible?”

Jun Xiaomo did not know where to begin discussing this. So, she exasperatedly asked her mother instead, “Mum, then you tell me, why do you want to marry me off so quickly, huh?”

This was not the mortal world after all. How many cultivators had already been married before they were twenty years-old?

“This…ai, Mo-Mo, mother is doing this for your sake. Lingyu is already at the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery, and he could break into the Foundation Establishment level at any time. Once he is at the Foundation Establishment level, he would leave Dawn Sect to join an upper-tier sect. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to follow him with merely an arranged marriage at hand. In fact, mother wouldn’t feel as worried right now if you were still at the eighth level of Qi Mastery, because the Foundation Establishment level wouldn’t be far away for you, and you could always reunite with Qin Lingyu later on. But now…now that your cultivation level has fallen to the first level, who knows how long you will take before you can even see the Foundation Establishment level in sight?”

What Liu Qingmei had omitted to say was the fact that, given Jun Xiaomo’s current condition, there was almost a hundred percent certainty that she would not be able to enter an upper-tier sect. This was because in order to qualify for the upper-tier sects’ selections, one of the conditions was that the applicants must have attained the Foundation Establishment stage before the age of thirty-five years. Jun Xiaomo had achieved the eighth level of Qi Mastery when she was only sixteen, and this was considered quicker than the average. However, if she started from scratch right now, to achieve the Foundation Establishment cultivation level before the age of thirty-five was hardly an easy feat!

Hearing Liu Qingmei’s analysis, Jun Xiaomo immediately understood that her mother was afraid that she would no longer be able to enter an upper-tier sect in her entire life. Therefore, she had hoped to let Jun Xiaomo enter through a back-door in her capacity as the cultivation companion of a disciple of an upper-tier sect instead.

Every five years, upper-tier sects would always send representatives to mid-tier sects to scout for talents and potential disciples. The higher the ranking of these upper-tier sects, the more stringent their entry requirements. For instance, the top-five upper-tier sects such as Limitless Sect or Frozen Sword Sect requires their applicants to have attained the Foundation Establishment level before the age of thirty-five years. Generally, the earlier one attains the Foundation Establishment level, the higher their talent is, and naturally this translates to greater achievements in the future.

Even though there were exceptions to this rule, because apart from one’s natural talent, one’s diligence and understanding were also very important, these exceptions were nevertheless few and far between. It can be said that almost all the exceptions to this rule were influenced by one’s luck in some way or another.

Of course, this rule was not absolute. For example, Chosen Disciples’ cultivation companions would not be under any form of restrictions on age or cultivation levels.

Qin Lingyu was already a Chosen Disciple of the Limitless Sect. Once he steps into the Foundation Establishment level, then he would be qualified to enter the Limitless Sect. When Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation level had not fallen, with her talent and a reasonable amount of diligence, to qualify for one of the top-five upper-tier sects was not a difficult thing. But now, given that her cultivation level had fallen back to the first level of Qi Mastery, even if she cultivated ceaselessly without rest, it might be difficult to attain the Foundation Establishment level of cultivation before thirty-five years of age. 

This was exactly Liu Qingmei’s considerations before conceding that it would be for the best to quickly marry off her daughter to Qin Lingyu. After all, her daughter was only sixteen years-old; how could she bear to marry her off so quickly? But the fact remained that Qin Lingyu was already at the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery, and would be able to step into the Foundation Establishment level at any time. Once he enters the Limitless Sect and discovers many more eligible and outstanding women there, who knows if he would even remember Jun Xiaomo in his heart?

And besides, Qin Lingyu had always been rather indifferent to Jun Xiaomo…

Jun Xiaomo finally understood her mother’s concerns. But it was precisely because she understood her concerns that she had to resile from this marriage arrangement all the more!

She straightened her posture, looked her mother straight in the eyes, and sincerely said – 

“Mum, I will not join an upper-tier sect as “Qin Lingyu’s cultivation companion”. Even if it means I may never join an upper-tier sect in my whole life, I will not resort to such a backdoor approach. If I were to join an upper-tier sect, then it must be based on my own abilities. And besides, once I don the identity of “Qin Lingyu’s cultivation companion”, can I even be considered a free person ever again? I will never be able to shed this title, and everywhere I go people would point and say that this is a person who has entered through the backdoor as Qin Lingyu’s wife.”

In the end, Jun Xiaomo paused for a moment, before declaring with fierce determination in her eyes, “Mum, I don’t belong to anybody. I am my own person.”

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