Chapter 28: The Taste of Defeat

The eyes are the gateway to a person’s heart. Ye Xiuwen had always discerned people’s true nature this way. Therefore, in his first encounter with Jun Xiaomo when he noticed the fear and trepidation in her heart, he chose to distance himself from her.

He was a human susceptible to hurt too. Especially to the sixteen years-old Ye Xiuwen, that kind of hurt cut particularly deep.

After all, Ye Xiuwen was still in his youth then. No matter how well exposed he was with to social conventions and human interactions, there was still no way he could have been inert to the things around him.

If not for Jun Linxuan and Liu Qingmei, perhaps Ye Xiuwen’s and Jun Xiaomo’s lives would have been like two parallel lines, never to intersect again.

But it was also precisely because of this that Ye Xiuwen just could not understand Jun Xiaomo’s thoughts at this moment. After she barely escaped from the Sect’s punishment with her life, she seemed to have become a different person altogether – she no longer fluttered around Qin Lingyu like a butterfly to a flower, and she even displayed some measure of affection for himself.

Even though Jun Xiaomo felt that she was already very restrained with her change of behavior, Ye Xiuwen could still tell from the expressions in her eyes. This made Ye Xiuwen’s iced-over heart experience a trace of warmth.

However, this warmth was very slight and fleeting. When Ye Xiuwen recalled to mind the incident that happened between them when he was young, his heart immediately iced over again.

Practically everyone in the Sect knew that the Heavenly Peak Peakmaster’s daughter, Jun Xiaomo, was a person who placed emphasis on looks and judged people by their appearances. Otherwise, she would not have been so enamored with Qin Lingyu, desperately pursuing him with all she had.

Therefore, Ye Xiuwen did not believe that if Jun Xiaomo would still want to interact with him if she sees his appearance again.

As for the reason for Jun Xiaomo’s change of personality, Ye Xiuwen simply attributed it to her growing up and maturing after experiencing and overcoming adversity.

Jun Xiaomo was jolted back to her senses by Ye Xiuwen’s sudden question to her. It was only at this point that she discovered that she had subconsciously been starting at her martial brother’s veiled conical hat while she was immersed in her own thoughts.

Staring at somebody like this was quite an impolite thing to do. Having realized this, Jun Xiaomo awkwardly shifted her gaze away and broke her eye contact with Ye Xiuwen.

“That…martial brother, isn’t it very inconvenient for you to be wearing your veiled conical hat while eating?” Jun Xiaomo could not think of an appropriate conversational topic; so, she asked him the first thing that came to mind, hoping to dispel the earlier awkwardness as well.

“I’m already used to it.” Ye Xiuwen calmly responded.

Yes, he was already used to it – used to the strange and inquisitive stares from others; and used to the solitary and lonesome life that he led.

Hearing this, Jun Xiaomo’s could not help but feel a wave of sorrow and sourness wash over her heart – It should not be like this! Martial brother’s talent is no lower than Qin Lingyu’s, and his combat prowess is also higher. He should be the one receiving looks of praise and admiration and basking in all the glory at the peak of the Sect! But now, whenever someone mentions Ye Xiuwen’s name, the first thing that comes to people’s mind would not be his abilities, but that distant and desolate personality of his caused by the demonic energy’s disfiguration of his face.

Jun Xiaomo gritted her teeth and looked up straight at Ye Xiuwen, asking, “Martial brother…if…if I say that I may have a way of curing the scar on your face, do you believe me?”

Even though she had not seen the extent of the injuries on her martial brother’s face, but she was confident in her abilities to deal with demonic energy. Having practiced demonic cultivation for nearly a hundred years in her previous life, Jun Xiaomo assessed that her abilities in this regard would certainly be no lower than those old fogey Sect Elders. Therefore, even if the Sect Elders were helpless in this situation, it did not necessarily mean that Jun Xiaomo would have no solution either.

She had initially wanted to rebuild this relationship with Ye Xiuwen before mentioning the prospects of curing his scarred face. After all, she had a reputation for being a sheltered princess who had been protected all her life, never leaving the Sect unless absolutely necessary. Therefore, even she would be hard pressed to explain how she managed to come across a suitable method of curing his scarred face. Worse, it would even easily arouse suspicions if word got out.

However, seeing her martial brother act like this, she could not help but to ask anyway. She felt that if her martial brother could be less lonely and warmer to others, then perhaps he would not fall prey to the evil ploys of that lowly and scheming Zhang Shuyue.

Ye Xiuwen silently sized up the expressions on Jun Xiaomo’s face at this moment, and discovered that there was only sincerity and concern, and no other ulterior motives.

This tugged slightly at Ye Xiuwen’s heartstrings. Nevertheless, Ye Xiuwen looked down and deliberated for a moment before saying, “It’s no use. This wound is not just caused by the corrosion of demonic energy. There is also the element of a curse at play.”

“Curse?!” Jun Xiaomo’s eyes widened.

“Yes, a curse.” Ye Xiuwen’s eyes darkened, “Back then when the demonic cultivators annihilated all one hundred fifty-three members of the Ye Clan, I, as the lone survivor, was also cursed by them. Unless I discover what kind of curse this is and find the person responsible for this curse, there is no way of removing the demonic energy on my face.”

This was the first time Jun Xiaomo had heard of Ye Xiuwen’s past, and it was truly heartrending.

Ye Xiuwen ran his finger along the edge of the empty bowl, seemingly immersed in his thoughts even though he continued to observe Jun Xiaomo’s reactions.

This little martial sister…I really can’t figure her out. But it seems that this is not a bad thing after all, is it?

As Jun Xiaomo thought for a moment, she decided that it was still worth the shot. Even though the Sect Leader and Sect Elders did not have a way with her martial brother’s scar, but in her previous life, her level of mastery with demonic cultivation was far greater than any of these. Therefore, she was confident that she would have a solution for him.

“Martial brother Ye, do you think you could let me take a look at your wound?” Jun Xiaomo stretched out her hand and tugged gently at Ye Xiuwen’s sleeves.

Jun Xiaomo’s present cautiousness seemed akin to the small animals that were easily frightened. This fleeting thought caused Ye Xiuwen’s lips to curl up slightly.

But this was only for a moment. After the smile faded, Ye Xiuwen’s lips even tensed up slightly.

Ye Xiuwen was somehow reminded of the incident when he was fifteen years-old – when his veiled conical hat was knocked over by this little martial sister and she immediately burst out into tears.

It was not that Ye Xiuwen was a person who bore grudges. Rather, it was more that he feared experiencing the same hurt caused by the same person in the same place. Especially now that their relationship was not as strained as before, why make things more awkward than it has to be in the first place?

Having thought as such, Ye Xiuwen shook his head, and placidly said, “I appreciate the concern that martial sister has for me. But at this moment this scar doesn’t really affect my body’s condition, so there’s no urgency to remove it.”

Unfortunately, Jun Xiaomo did not catch the tacit rejection beneath Ye Xiuwen’s placid response. As she grew anxious, she held Ye Xiuwen’s wrist and eagerly repeated, “Martial brother, please let me take a look at it?”

Ye Xiuwen’s body quivered in shock, and his eyes gradually grew cold once again.

Quite apart from the fact that Ye Xiuwen never liked people coming too close to him, the fact that Jun Xiaomo was now holding his wrist was also a rather offensive thing.

This is because the wrist was a gateway to a person’s meridians. Formidable cultivators could even cripple a person’s cultivation arts through a person’s wrist!

And besides, the present relationship between Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo was not too different from mere strangers. Even if they seemed to have grown closer in their last few interactions, Jun Xiaomo’s insistence on seeing his wound right now made Ye Xiuwen suspicious of her true intentions.

Putting all of these together, Ye Xiuwen suddenly felt that Jun Xiaomo’s insistence here might only be to satisfy her own curiosity.

With this thought, his eyes instantly grew much colder. Even though his expressions were veiled by the hat, Jun Xiaomo nevertheless felt his displeasure. This was because Ye Xiuwen had just wrested his hand free of Jun Xiaomo’s grasp, and he had done so forcefully as well.

“Martial brother, I…” Jun Xiaomo wanted to explain, but Ye Xiuwen did not let her continue.

“It’s getting late. Martial sister should quickly return, otherwise Ma’am would get worried.” Ye Xiuwen’s said plainly. His intention to rebuff Jun Xiaomo at this point was patently clear.

At this moment, Jun Xiaomo knew that she would be merely inviting snub from Ye Xiuwen if she stayed. Therefore, she stood up and hesitated for a moment, before apologetically saying, “Then, martial brother…I’ll take my leave.”

Ye Xiuwen calmly nodded, acknowledging with a simple “Mm.”

Jun Xiaomo was so upset that her eyes involuntarily reddened. She felt that all her hard work warming up to Ye Xiuwen had gone to waste at this point. After saying “Take care, martial brother,” she sped away from the pavilion. She even tripped up slightly at the last step of the pavilion. But she quickly steadied herself and left without even looking back.

Ye Xiuwen merely also looked on her silhouette as she departed. After a long while, he finally let out a soft sigh.

“She’s still a child.” Ye Xiuwen softly said, yet this murmur of his quickly dissipated into the surroundings, not to be heard by anybody.

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