As a result of Jun Xiaomo’s outstanding showing over the course of the group battles, she was even awarded an individual accolade called the “Extraordinary Performance Award”.
This special award was a discretionary award that was not handed out in every iteration of the Secondary Inter-Sect Competitions. It would only be handed out when the chief referee nominates a participant, and such a nomination was voted upon and approved by the rest of the referees.
It had to be said that Jun Xiaomo’s performance was undeniably stellar during these competitions. Thus, when the chief referee announced that Jun Xiaomo would be awarded with the individual accolade of the Extraordinary Performance Award, none of the audience members were taken by surprise at all.
After all, how many cultivators at the sixth level of the Qi Mastery are there that could be unanimously recognized as the de facto leader of three full teams of cultivators? Furthermore, she had even led three considerably weak-looking teams to defeat a series of strong spirit beasts, demonic creatures, and even the strongest team of the group battles! In fact, she had undoubtedly been crucial in securing the Heavenly Peak disciples the title of champion over the course of these group battles.
To top it all off, Jun Xiaomo had been the one to broach the idea of group battle tactics to the Heavenly Peak disciples, and she had even displayed an incredibly proficient use of formation arrays and talismans over the course of the group battles which caused everyone’s eyes to glisten brightly with approval.
Viewed in totality, it might not be much of an exaggeration to say that within the last five hundred years, nobody had seen a young sprout with as much talent for combat. Even the last few disciples who had been awarded the Extraordinary Performance Award had not put on such a stellar showing as Jun Xiaomo had done.
Thus, Jun Xiaomo deserved every single bit of the award that she had received.
As soon as the chief referee announced the recipient of this award, the audience erupted with a thunderous applause. Then, when Jun Xiaomo stood up amidst the other Heavenly Peak disciples, the applause grew even more uproarious as it reached an unprecedented climax.
Amidst the adulations, Wei Gaolang shot to his feet in excitement and leapt about as he cried out, “Good showing, martial sister!”
Chen Feiyu rubbed his temples in embarrassment. Then, he shook his head and smiled radiantly as well.
Naturally, one man’s meat was another man’s poison. Jun Xiaomo’s success was the joy and glory of all the members of the Heavenly Peak who now celebrated her achievements; yet there were also some whose faces were incredibly black and ashen right now.
This was particularly evident among the members of the Dawn Sect apart from those from the Heavenly Peak. Their pretentious smiles were particularly stiff and rigid, while He Zhang no longer even bothered to plaster a pretentious smile on his face as he revealed a look of abject displeasure.
It was not difficult to see why this was so. He had schemed in countless ways and means, yet everything turned out to be completely meaningless – anyone in his shoes would not be able to accept the reality before his eyes!
Given that Jun Xiaomo had already acquired a demonic body, he had initially thought that he would be able to incite a demonic outburst from her body during the course of the Lower Category battles. This would result in Jun Linxuan being subject to the persecution of the entire spiritual world. However, nothing went according to plan. Not only did Jun Xiaomo not suffer a demonic outburst, she even eked out the Dawn Sect’s favourite disciple Yu Wanrou from the competition to obtain the title of champion of the Lower Category battles.
His first scheme had failed. That said, with the Du Clan personally making a move, He Zhang was almost certain that their next move was bound to succeed. Thus, he did all he could to convince the other Sect Elders and Peakmasters so that he could change the list of contestants to include all of the Heavenly Peak disciples. Yet to his dismay, not a single one of the Heavenly Peak disciples perished over the course of the group battles. Not only that, the Heavenly Peak disciples had even overcome all odds to claim the title of champion of the group battles as well.
Was Jun Xiaomo a jinx that was sent to cripple all his efforts and schemes?!
Had he known this was going to happen, He Zhang would never have strained relations and burnt bridges with Jun Linxuan and the rest of the Heavenly Peak. Right now, even his martial sister Liu Qingmei no longer cared to interact with him beyond a cursory level. He Zhang’s losses were hefty and great, and his plans were in shambles.
At this moment, He Zhang’s heart was filled with indignation, reluctance and frustration, yet there was nowhere for him to ventilate all these things. Thus, he could only stare at Jun Xiaomo’s back with a darkened gaze as he fervently repressed the urge to charge at her and destroy her.
Yu Wanrou’s emotions were not much better either. She had always seen Jun Xiaomo as the greatest thorn in her flesh. Right now, she watched in dismay as Jun Xiaomo’s life blossomed and she received more and more attention from everyone around her.
Compared with Jun Xiaomo, Yu Wanrou was nothing more than a little wildflower by the roadside that was plain and discreet. It was as though she were destined to disappear among the ordinary without any opportunity to shine.
Yu Wanrou had been filled with confidence prior to the Lower Category battles; yet now she was completely filled with despair and despondence.
It should not have been this way! Yu Wanrou bellowed in her heart with indignation. I’ve been dealt the best possible hand with my spectral demiplane and my spirit spring waters. Why is Jun Xiaomo still exceeding me in every single regard? Why?!
Why do the gods have to favour Jun Xiaomo so? Why does she have every good thing delivered straight before her very eyes?! Jun Xiaomo has already been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so why does she still have to snatch away everything that I’ve always wanted?!
An immense fire of jealousy burgeoned in Yu Wanrou’s mind. Then, when Yu Wanrou noticed the gaze with which Qin Lingyu stared at Jun Xiaomo with, her jealousy finally reached its boiling point!
Jun Xiaomo, you slut! Lingyu is mine!
Yu Wanrou clenched her fists tightly as her body quivered in rage. It was as though something were lodged in her throat and ready to leap out of her mouth at the shortest notice.
Just then, the fox-shaped mark under Yu Wanrou’s clavicle started to emit a strangely hot sensation. In fact, it was so hot that it felt as though a branding iron had been pressed directly onto her skin, and she almost cried out in pain.
Even though she did not squeal out loud, she still inadvertently let out a pained groan.
“Martial sister Wanrou, what’s the matter?” The first person who discovered Yu Wanrou’s peculiar condition was another fellow martial brother from the Pill Cauldron Peak located just beside her.
“I’m…I’m alright…” Yu Wanrou smiled grimly with a pale face as she shook her head.
Then, the heat from the fox-shaped mark intensified once more, causing her to inadvertently let out another groan. This time, her groan was far more audible, and several other male cultivators turned to look at her with concern in their eyes.
Even though Yu Wanrou was unable to do what Jun Xiaomo had done and obtain similarly stellar results through the competition, her dainty and pitiable image meant that she was nevertheless still the object of affection of several of her martial brothers within the Dawn Sect.
Of those who turned around to look at her with concern, there were in fact a few of them who were discreetly fond of Yu Wanrou.
Unfortunately, when she looked expectantly at Qin Lingyu, she noticed that Qin Lingyu did not reciprocate her longing gaze or even look at her with concern. Rather, he continued to fix his gaze on Jun Xiaomo as she slowly made her way to the stage one step at a time.
Perhaps it was the result of the intense heat from her fox-shaped mark; or perhaps it was the result of Yu Wanrou’s jealousy and frustrations breaching unprecedented levels due to Qin Lingyu nonchalant attitude towards her. Regardless, Yu Wanrou’s chest pumped once ferociously, and she suddenly spat out a mouthful of blood.
“Martial sister Wanrou!” The male disciples standing around her cried out in horror as she fainted there and then.
Yet even in that moment just before she passed out, she did not see Qin Lingyu turn his head around to look at her with any measure of concern.
The fact of the matter was that Qin Lingyu was truly oblivious to what was going on where Yu Wanrou was. He had devoted his undivided attention to where Jun Xiaomo was, and several trains of complex thoughts occupied his mind while an extreme sense of frustration filled his heart.
If he had known that Jun Xiaomo would be this outstanding, he would never have been so anxious to rescind the marriage arrangement with her.
Jun Xiaomo was stunning in terms of both her appearances and her abilities. She was just like a blazing fire that was so bright that it dazzled one’s eyes, and yet was at the same time so eye-catching that one couldn’t help but still fix their eyes on it.
Then, when he turned his thoughts to that incident with Rong Ruihan and Ye Xiuwen, Qin Lingyu’s heart grew cold and sullen.
He knew that he had missed his chances with Jun Xiaomo. With Jun Xiaomo’s personality, she would never look back anymore.
Why did I have to rescind the marriage arrangement so soon?! Qin Lingyu lamented in his heart, before immediately thinking about how Yu Wanrou had time and time again pressed the issue – That’s right! Yu Wanrou was the one who had prompted me to rescind the marriage arrangement at every step of the way. She was the reason why I’d made such a rash and reckless decision!
And now, it was too late for regrets.
Qin Lingyu couldn’t help but grow incensed at Yu Wanrou. Naturally, with his personality, he would never contemplate the possibility that he might be part of the problem as well.
Thus, Qin Lingyu shoved all the blame to Yu Wanrou, and their already unequally yoked relationship began to grow even more strained as it entered the realms of hostility and animosity.
Yet all of Qin Lingyu’s thoughts were neither known to the unconscious Yu Wanrou, nor Jun Xiaomo as she stood on the stage.
Jun Xiaomo knew that there were many people looking over at her right now, some of whom even with impassioned gazes. However, what was most important was the affirmation that she had received from her family and friends. As for everyone else, they were no more than outsiders who had been momentarily dazzled and mesmerized by her appearances and performance. There was no need for her to pay particular heed to them.
None of them knew who the real Jun Xiaomo was after all. The Jun Xiaomo that these people saw was only the side of her that she had revealed over the course of the competition. They hardly appreciated the fact that this was nothing more than the tip of the iceberg.
Jun Xiaomo had reason to believe that if it had been anyone else who had come up to receive the Extraordinary Performance Award instead of her right now, they would receive a similar baptism of gazes from everyone else. Thus, there was nothing for her to be proud or conceited about.
Thus, she calmly and steadily made her way towards the chief referee.
Jun Xiaomo’s display of steadfastness made the Fifth Elder of the Zephyr Sect nod his head in approval. He was now even more convicted that his decision to accept her as a disciple was a good one.
“Jun Xiaomo, congratulations for receiving the competition’s Extraordinary Performance Award. The last time that this discretionary award had been handed out was over fifty years ago. I’m incredibly pleased to see you receive this award this time.” The chief referee smiled cordially at Jun Xiaomo as he announced.
“I’m humbled by the panel of referee’s affirmation and approval of my abilities. I had given it my all and done my best.” Jun Xiaomo returned the smile and shook the chief referee’s hand.
What she omitted to say was that she had in fact no choice but to put on such a dazzling performance because the Heavenly Peak disciples had been forced into a competition which had become synonymous with a life-or-death situation to them.
After all, their opponents had been after their lives. Had they not hunkered down and duked it out with their opponents, would they have been able to survive the ordeal and come out with their lives and limbs intact?
The chief referee was well pleased with how Jun Xiaomo had remained stoic and steadfast. He turned around, lifted a tray and then turned back to face Jun Xiaomo.
“This is your reward. You have the honour of revealing it to the audience for the very first time.” The chief referee revealed.
The contents of the tray were covered with a red cloth, and nobody was able to see what lay within. Several members of the audience noticed this sight and began to crane their necks at the stage.
In fact, everyone was curious as to what lay hidden under the red cloth on the tray.
Jun Xiaomo nodded her head. She paused for a moment, before she placed her hand on the red cloth on the tray and yanked it off all at once.
The contents were revealed – a tattered old book and a little bracelet lay atop the tray.
“This is an Utterance Bracelet and a Novenary Immortalization Manuscript. The former allows you to recite mnemonics or spells at will without making a single sound; while the latter is an incredibly powerful cultivation technique that you’ll be able to use once you’ve attained the Foundation Establishment stage of cultivation.” The chief referee smiled faintly as he explained its contents.
The members of the audience immediately gasped – Novenary Immortalization Manuscript?! This is one of the legendary Heavenly Arts! And generally speaking, only core disciples of Greater Sects would have the opportunity to get close to such amazing refinement techniques. How could the chief referee be handing it out so readily just like that?!
That’s far too generous, isn’t it?
As for the Utterance Bracelet, most people completely overlooked it once the Novenary Immortalization Manuscript was mentioned. In their eyes, the fact that one could cast spells or recite mnemonics in their hearts was hardly useful at all. After all, this would at best only slightly increase one’s spell casting speed.
Despite that, everyone thought that Jun Xiaomo had struck gold!
Jun Xiaomo was momentarily taken aback. However, when she came to her senses once more, a smile crept up the corner of her lips, and the depths of her eyes were evidently filled with joy.
“Thank you.” Jun Xiaomo bowed politely to the chief referee, “I thank the panel of referees for their generous bestowment. This was a real pleasant surprise to me.”
“You deserve it.” The chief referee quipped with a genial smile on his face.
Yet Jun Xiaomo shook her head and immediately added a twist, “But…I hope to be able to trade this Novenary Immortalization Manuscript for another prize. I wonder if the panel of referees will be willing to consider this suggestion of mine.”
The chief referee was stunned by Jun Xiaomo’s request. He had never expected such a request from Jun Xiaomo at all.
At the same time, almost everyone in the audience began to whisper to each other in a hushed voice – none of them could fathom why Jun Xiaomo would think of using the Novenary Immortalization Manuscript to trade for another reward.
What kind of reward would be worth trading the Novenary Immortalization Manuscript for? Is Jun Xiaomo going to ask for the sky and the moon in exchange for this?
Several members of the audience began to think along these lines, including some of the referees who began to furrow their brows as well.
The chief referee hardly gave it much thought. Perhaps he did, but it would only have been a moment’s thought, because there was no reason for him to outrightly reject Jun Xiaomo’s suggestion.
He chuckled with a good-natured smile on his face as he explored her suggestion further, “Would this young fellow cultivator care to provide us with a little bit more details, such as what you intend to trade your prize for? Otherwise, it’s difficult for us to give you a proper response.”
Jun Xiaomo’s gaze remained placid and unperturbed. She was completely unfazed by the chittering in the audience as well.
Her lips curled up into a faint smile as she continued, “Actually, the reward that I’m hoping for is not something spectacular either. I’m pretty sure the referees would be able to make a decision on the spot.”
With this, the audience’s curiosity was piqued even more.
Jun Xiaomo paused for a moment, before she finally gave her proper response, “I hope to trade the Novenary Immortalization Manuscript for the freedom of the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf that I had encountered during the group battles.”
After the group battles had ended, the competition’s organizing committee immediately took control of the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf that had earlier been bound and constricted by Jun Xiaomo. The appearance of the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf had been a complete accident, and everyone knew that there were traces of refinement techniques and magic on its body. Thus, the organizing committee did not decide to simply let it off the hook like that. Instead, they restrained it in a separate location using a fresh set of formation arrays, and they had intended to observe it for some time before making the final call as to what they would do with it.
The organizing committee was primarily concerned that the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf would harm the lives of innocent people if they let it run wild just like that. Furthermore, given that it had once been subject to refinement techniques, they knew that it was near impossible for the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf to assimilate back into life in the wild. Thus, the most likely outcome that awaited this Scarlet Heavenly Wolf was to put it down and euthanize it.
Jun Xiaomo did not wish to see the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf end up that way. Furthermore, she had previously given the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf her word that she would return it its freedom and even attempt to remove any trace of the hex or the refinement technique from its body.
Having made a promise to the Scarlet Heavenly Wolf, Jun Xiaomo was determined to make good on her word and see it through.
Thus, as soon as Jun Xiaomo made her request known, the entire audience burst into an uproar –
Jun Xiaomo’s truly gone mad, hasn’t she?! She’s using a Heavenly Art as a bargaining chip so that she can negotiate for the release of a spirit beast?!
Could her conduct be described as something borne out of overflowing compassion, or was it plain and simple idiocy?Previous Chapter Next Chapter