After Du Zhulan and the others left Qin Shanshan’s premises, Jun Xiaomo playfully punched Ye Xiuwen with a mischievous smile on her face as she remarked, “Not bad, aren’t you? It’s only been a few days, yet all of these female Dawn Sect disciples are already head over heels in love with you.”
Ye Xiuwen grimaced with some measure of exasperation, “I’d rather these sorts of things not happen to me.”
“Alright, alright. I know brother Jun isn’t the sort to take advantage of others. Just be careful not to take things too far. Otherwise, those people who don’t manage to get their way with you might just think about beating you up!” Jun Xiaomo brandished her fist comically as she quipped.
Ye Xiuwen was thoroughly amused by Jun Xiaomo’s expressions, and he coughed twice into his fist just to suppress the desire to laugh that was surging within him.
“Oh yes, why did you come back so early today?” Ye Xiuwen finally managed to compose himself after some time. Then, it suddenly occurred to him that “Qin Shanshan” had returned unusually early today. After all, it was not even lunchtime yet – this was quite different from her usual modus operandi.
Generally speaking, “Qin Shanshan” would never return to the abode until it was late at night, when it was time for everyone to retire for the night.
Jun Xiaomo raised her eyebrows mischievously as she quipped back, “If I didn’t come back earlier today, how could this hero rescue the ‘damsel’ in distress?”
Ye Xiuwen mimicked Jun Xiaomo and raised his own eyebrow back at her, “Rescuing a damsel in distress? Are you the hero? Am I the ‘damsel’?”
“But of course! If not for my assistance, you would already have been engulfed and smothered by all of those beauties earlier!” Jun Xiaomo raised her chin and looked at Ye Xiuwen somewhat proudly as she added, “Didn’t you see how timeously I’d made my appearance earlier?!”
“Alright, I guess I’ve got to thank this little hero, then.” Ye Xiuwen chuckled as he tousled Jun Xiaomo’s hair
“Enough, enough. Why do you enjoy tousling hair so much? My hair is becoming a bird’s nest because of you.” Jun Xiaomo clutched her head as she murmured.
Ye Xiuwen was slightly taken aback by her comment, and a trace of realization and bewilderment flickered across the depths of his eyes. Then, suppressing the ripples that had surfaced in his heart, he smiled faintly as he responded, “Sorry. It’s just a little habit of mine. I’ll take note in future.”
Jun Xiaomo had very keenly noticed that Ye Xiuwen’s smile had grown substantially fainter than before, and she couldn’t help but probe a little bit further, “About that…are you angry?”
“I’m not. Don’t think too much about it.” Ye Xiuwen chuckled lightly. However, Jun Xiaomo could tell from his expression that there were much stronger emotional undertones than what he was willing to reveal.
“Alright…I was just kidding. Feel free to tousle my hair next time.” Jun Xiaomo messed up her own already-disheveled hair as she murmured, “Wonder why you got angry at that…”
“I’m not angry.” Ye Xiuwen tousled Jun Xiaomo’s hair once more. As she glared back at him with some measure of annoyance, he began to feel slightly better as well.
He could never reveal to “Qin Shanshan” that this action of his was something that he had often done to his little martial sister, and “Qin Shanshan’s” earlier question had reminded him of Jun Xiaomo.
Perhaps he might have begun to subconsciously interact with “Qin Shanshan” in this manner because “Qin Shanshan” reminded him of his little martial sister.
His only hope was that “Qin Shanshan” would be successful in whatever she was striving to do within the Dawn Sect, and not die in a foreign land like his little martial sister did.
As Ye Xiuwen delved into his own thoughts, the stifling feelings of frustration and lingering woes continued to weigh heavily on his heart.
On the other side, after leaving Qin Shanshan’s abode, the group of female disciples did not immediately return to their own abodes. Instead, they sat down at another place some distance away and began to discuss and ventilate their frustrations from before.
“That Qin Shanshan is too much of a bully! Who does she think she is?! If not for the fact that she has a powerful and strong brother, she might already have been excommunicated from the Dawn Sect by now, given her lack of talent!” The female disciple that was most hot-tempered blurted with indignation as she gulped down the cup of tea in front of her.
“Alright, Guiyan. Actually, what Qin Shanshan said wasn’t wrong either. We did enter her abode without her permission, and it was our fault to begin with. Furthermore, Qin Shanshan’s cultivation companion doesn’t seem like a very easy person to get along with as well. We’ve been far too reckless with our actions.” The other, more rational female cultivator offered a different perspective. She had not spoken much from the onset because she could tell that the male cultivator in Qin Shanshan’s backyard did not welcome their arrival at all.
“Hmph. If you ask me, Qin Shanshan’s just being conceited and arrogant right now. She thinks that she’s amazing just because she’s got a cultivation companion who’s formidable and handsome. She should take a good look at herself in the mirror – with her abilities, it would be absurd if she thinks that she will be able to keep that man around her. Who knows, she might even end up like her ex-sister-in-law Jun Xiaomo and get dumped by the man.” Xu Guiyan mocked contemptuously. She had obviously taken “Qin Shanshan’s” earlier attitude towards her to heart.
“Alright, Guiyan, it wouldn’t be wise to run off your mouth like that. No matter how lacking Qin Shanshan’s abilities are, she still has a formidable brother we can’t afford to offend. Can we hold a candle to her in this regard? Besides, by talking about her ex-sister-in-law, aren’t you indirectly implicating martial brother Qin? Be careful now – walls have ears. We don’t want anyone taking anything out on us.” Yet another female disciple chimed in with a peculiar yet slightly jealous tone of voice.
“What do I have to fear? I’m just speaking the truth by any means.” Xu Guiyan retorted with indignance, “Jun Xiaomo’s father was a Peakmaster as well. What does Qin Shanshan have? She’s got nothing!”
“Guiyan, let’s not talk about it anymore. I…it’s hard for me to hear all this.” Du Zhulan’s eyes reddened once more as she chipped in, as though she had just suffered the most humiliating defeat.
“Sigh, Zhulan, why are you crying again?” Xu Guiyan hated it when Du Zhulan’s tears started flowing, because it never seemed to end. At the same time, she would give in because Du Zhulan was the youngest one among all of them, “Alright, alright. I’ll stop talking about it, okay? If you ask me, that man surnamed Jun doesn’t know what’s best for him. Sister Zhulan’s only trying to be friendly with him. Why does he have to put on airs like that to begin with? Hmph, if you ask me, Zhulan’s personality is far, far better than that unruly, willful Qin Shanshan by a mile! Yaoxue, don’t you agree?”
Shen Yaoxue was none other than the tallest female disciple of the group, and she also appeared the coldest and most distant. All this while, she had been sitting at the side, listening in on the conversation, but she had refrained from chipping in entirely.
But now that the question was directed straight at her, she simply smiled and shook her head.
“I’m gonna faint over here. Yaoxue, what exactly do you mean by the shaking of your head?” Xu Guiyan glared at her.
“Alright, alright. Don’t bother pressing the issue with Yaoxue. Aren’t you well aware of the fact that you won’t be able to even beat an answer out of Yaoxue? We all think your opinions are reasonable, alright?” The more rational female disciple patted Xu Guiyan’s shoulder, and she finally managed to restrain herself from speaking any further.
At the same time, Shen Yaoxue’s eyes gleamed brightly, and she immediately lowered her head slightly, masking the glimmer from the rest of her martial sisters.
It was night. Shen Yaoxue knocked on the door to He Zhang’s room. After entering the room, she began to report everything that she had seen and witnessed at Qin Shanshan’s abode.
“Are you saying that Jun Ziwen was simply practicing his sword arts, and there was nothing suspicious about his actions?” He Zhang glanced thoughtfully through his window at the night sky outside and tapped his fingers as he summarized the gist of Shen Yaoxue’s report.
“That’s right, Sect Leader. Disciple didn’t observe anything peculiar from Jun Ziwen’s actions. Furthermore, his relationship with Qin Shanshan doesn’t appear to be one built on mutual benefits. The gaze with which he looks at her was far warmer and more sincere than how he looks at other people.”
Even though Shen Yaoxue was not a female disciple with many words, she had a particularly keen observation, and she could accurately grasp the minutest of details and relay that to another person at a later time. Thus, she had become He Zhang’s secret agent, acting as eyes and ears for discreetly observing the situation within the Sect.
“Then, what about Qin Shanshan? Do you think there’s anything strange or peculiar with her?” He Zhang squinted his eyes as he asked.
“Qin Shanshan?” Shen Yaoxue did not expect He Zhang to be inquiring about Qin Shanshan. She recalled the earlier incident once more, before responding with some measure of hesitance, “It seems that…there’s a little bit of change to her. She’s somewhat matured. Even though her manner of speech is just as wild and brash, her arguments are based on sound logic and reasoning now, and she’s able to silence others with just that sharp tongue of hers.”
“Is that so…” He Zhang slowly echoed his response as though he were deep in thought.
Shen Yaoxue refrained from interrupting He Zhang’s thoughts, and she continued to bow her head low as she awaited her next instructions.
After some time, He Zhang waved his hands and instructed, “Alright, I’ve got the gist of the situation now. You may take your leave.”
“Yes, Sect Leader.” Shen Yaoxue bowed once more before backing out of the room and shutting He Zhang’s door.
“It seems like we’ve got to pick up the pace and locate an array master even more quickly now…”
He Zhang’s voice echoed eerily within his room as he continued to mutter to himself. A frigid gleam flickered across the ink-black pupils of his eyes.
At about the same time, several Dawn Sect disciples were patrolling the boundaries of the Dawn Sect’s forbidden grounds just as they had regularly done in the past.
Ever since He Zhang trapped the remnant Heavenly Peak disciples within the Sect’s forbidden grounds, patrolling this area had become a regular duty to all Dawn Sect disciples. All of them were rostered to patrol the boundaries of the Sect’s forbidden grounds approximately once every half a month.
“Argh, I’m sleepy. For some strange reason, I’ve been incredibly sleepy today. I wonder why…” One of the Dawn Sect disciples on duty yawned as he exclaimed.
“Did you go looking for a good time at the massage parlor again? That must be why you’re feeling so sleepy.” Another Dawn Sect disciple joked in response, inciting laughter from the other disciples around.
“You knew that you were on duty today, and yet you still visited the mortal world to look for women?” Another disciple yawned as he chimed in.
“Alright, perk up, guys. Once this is over, we’ll be off the hook for the next half a month.”
“That’s right.” The other disciples agreed in unison.
However, after a few moments –
“What day is it today? I suddenly feel somewhat sleepy too…”
“Me too…so sleepy…”
As soon as each of the disciples remarked aloud, they realized that their companions were saying exactly the same things as well. As their minds grew increasingly dazed, it took them a while before they managed to put two and two together – Something’s wrong!
How could everyone on patrol be falling asleep at the same time? Something must be going on!
Unfortunately, none of them managed to perk up their spirits. In the very next moment, their heads dipped slightly, and all of them began to collapse and slump to the floor as they fell into a deep, deep slumber.
If one looked closely just above their heads, he would be able to see that there was a formation array formed by five talismans glowing with a deep, blue light, hovering silently overhead. The formation array was so well-concealed that it seemed to assimilate into the dark, night sky.
“It’s done!” A figure in black slipped out of the shadows and clapped her hands in delight. Who else could it be if not Jun Xiaomo?
Naturally, she was still wearing Qin Shanshan’s appearances right now.
Jun Xiaomo swept a glance across the pitch-black forbidden grounds as she rubbed her chin meaningfully, “I wonder whether this visit of mine will bear any fruit tonight?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter