When Ye Xiuwen next came to his senses, he discovered that he was already lying on a bed of striking red sand, and he could hear the babbling sound of running waters nearby.
He rubbed his forehead as he struggled to sit up. As he looked around him, he realized that everything around was painted a striking red colour – a red sky, a red flowing river, red grounds scattered with red sand, and the redness continued to stretch far into the horizon.
This place is…
“You’re awake?” A voice filled with displeasure rang out beside his ear. Ye Xiuwen looked back, only to see a pair of ink-black eyes staring straight at him. It was evident that the owner of those eyes was slightly annoyed at this moment.
“Miss Tong? Ungh…” Ye Xiuwen’s temples throbbed in pain, and he couldn’t help but lower his head and let out a soft groan.
Jun Xiaomo could see that Ye Xiuwen’s eyes were filled with multitude of complex emotions right now.
“I’ll advise you not to use or operate your spiritual energy for now. When you fell into the river below the Enchanting Bridge earlier, you’d sustained some rather severe injuries. If not for the fact that I had been around, you would already be dead by now.” Jun Xiaomo coldly stated. As she finished speaking, she tossed a handful of leaves of unknown origin onto the ground.
“Thanks, Miss Tong.” Ye Xiuwen sincerely thanked her. Then, he turned his attention to the pile of leaves on the floor as he asked, “This is…?”
“These are leaves used to purge demonic energy from your body. Do you see the river over there? That’s not just any river. It’s filled with immeasurable amounts of demonic energy within. This river isn’t dangerous to a demonic cultivator like me. In fact, it can even be used to nourish and replenish the demonic energy in my body. However, if a spiritual cultivator like you falls into the river, you’re bound to be severely injured even if you manage to survive. It’s a good thing I know how to purge the demonic energy within your body, otherwise…hmph!”
As she finished speaking, Jun Xiaomo ignited a bonfire on the ground and tossed the leaves into it.
As the leaves began to burn, Ye Xiuwen could sense that the air in his surroundings was getting ostensibly fresher, and there was much less discomfort in his body right now.
“Thanks Miss Tong. And…I’m sorry.”
Ye Xiuwen knew that he had failed to follow “Qin Shanshan’s” instructions and responded to the voice on the Enchanting Bridge, and he knew that “Qin Shanshan” was upset at him because of this.
After all, if he were in her shoes, he would have been similarly angry as well. Thus, he sincerely apologized for his mistake this time.
She glared back at Ye Xiuwen, before lowering her head once more and growing taciturn. Then, she picked up a stick and began to prod and poke the bonfire, causing it to burn with greater intensity.
“Are you still mad at me?” Ye Xiuwen chuckled bitterly as he added, “But I can understand why. Given the condition of your body, I earlier been so insistent on preventing you from entering the forbidden grounds in the hope that you wouldn’t get injured anymore. Yet, after all that, who would’ve thought that the deadweight and burden was actually me?”
Jun Xiaomo tightened her fists around the stick in her hand, yet the tight grimace on her lips seemed to loosen ever so slightly. At the same time, one could see emotions in the depths of her eyes that seem to have been repressed for an incredibly long time, only to have their restraints loosened at this very moment.
That said, her eyes were closed right now, so Ye Xiuwen was unable to sense or detect the fluctuations to her emotions.
After a long period of silence, he finally heard “Qin Shanshan” speak in a soft voice, “Earlier…when we were on the Enchanting Bridge, you called out a name, ‘Xiaomo’. Who is she to you? Is she…very important to you?”
Ye Xiuwen was taken aback. He had not expected “Qin Shanshan” to ask him something like this.
His heart was incredibly heavy now. That earlier cry he had heard on the Enchanting Bridge was still ringing loudly in his ears right now. All of the deep and profound sorrow and grief that Ye Xiuwen had locked away in the depths of his heart had been unlocked by that clear, crisp cry earlier as they swept through his body once more. That said, he knew that there were some things in this world that simply couldn’t be controlled or repressed by a man’s rationality.
Then, when he turned his mind to the fact that “Qin Shanshan” had just saved his life, Ye Xiuwen sincerely felt that it wouldn’t be right if he continued to withhold so many things from her. Thus, he decided to come clean with the truth.
“Xiaomo, she’s…she’s my martial sister.”
Jun Xiaomo’s heart skipped a beat, and her entire mind went blank at this instant.
She had already been suspicious of Jun Ziwen’s identity for the longest time, yet she simply had no proof or evidence substantiating these suspicions of hers. In fact, after this incident at the Enchanting Bridge, she had already planned to ask him about it in the hope that she would learn the whole truth about his identity. In other words, she had already prepared her heart for whatever answer he was going to give. That said, when he expressly dropped the bombshell on her, it still managed to wash away all modicum of rationality from her mind in that one single instant.
However, since Jun Xiaomo’s head was still lowered to the ground, Ye Xiuwen was unable to see her reaction to his answer.
Ye Xiuwen continued, “My relationship with Xiaomo was very good. Then, about twelve years ago, we got separated. I had only come to learn of here whereabouts in recent times. Unfortunately, everything is too late. She’s already dead.”
Ye Xiuwen sighed, “There are times when I think whether I would be able to rescue her from the dangers that took her life had I not been separated with her. That way, she wouldn’t be trapped in a foreign land and pass away all alone.”
Ye Xiuwen’s voice was evidently filled with sorrow and regret, even to the point of self-deprecation, “Earlier, I heard her voice calling out for my help on the Enchanting Bridge. Perhaps the regret for her death had already taken root and become a stumbling block in my heart. Whatever the case is, when I heard her voice calling out to me, I was unable to retain any form of rationality whatsoever in that single instant, and I unfortunately also forgot Miss Tong’s instructions.”
“No! It’s not like that!” Jun Xiaomo hurriedly lifted her head, thinking of revealing the truth of her own identity at this instant as well, “Actually, I’m…”
ROAR! A creature’s ferocious cry interrupted Jun Xiaomo’s words. She immediately turned around and realized that a massive demonic beast had just appeared right in front of her.
That’s right – a demonic beast. She had never expected that He Zhang would be rearing demonic beasts within the forbidden grounds!
Wasn’t He Zhang a spiritual cultivator through and through? What’s he doing rearing demonic beasts here?! What kind of a sick joke is this?!
Unfortunately, Jun Xiaomo found herself unable to laugh at the situation. No matter how she looked at it, the demonic beast was not something easy to deal with. To make matters worse, Ye Xiuwen’s body had just been doused in the demonic energy from the red river, and it would still take approximately one hour before she could completely purge the demonic energy from his body so that he could once again muster his spiritual energy. Thus, the burden of facing the demonic beast fell directly on Jun Xiaomo’s shoulders alone.
She quickly picked herself up from the ground, stood between the demonic beast and Ye Xiuwen and adopted a defensive posture. She was ready to duke it out with the demonic beast at the moment’s notice.
Ye Xiuwen began to scramble to his feet, thinking to lend Jun Xiaomo a hand as well. However, as though she knew what he was thinking, Jun Xiaomo turned around and glared indignantly at Ye Xiuwen as she barked, “If you don’t want to be my deadweight anymore, stay there and don’t move! You’re only allowed to make a move after one hour has elapsed!”
Truth be told, Jun Xiaomo had not wanted to speak to Ye Xiuwen with such a harsh tone of voice either, particularly after she had ascertained that “Jun Ziwen” was none other than Ye Xiuwen.
However, the last thing she wanted was for Ye Xiuwen to put his life in harm’s way just because of her. To any spiritual cultivator, the incursion of demonic energy was an incredibly dangerous thing – light incidents of such incursions would take several days of rest for full recovery, while serious incidents might even result in a person’s cultivation being completely crippled. Thus, she had no choice but to sternly warn Ye Xiuwen this way in order to keep him safe and sound.
In fact, this was the first time that “Qin Shanshan” had spoken to Ye Xiuwen with such a harsh tone of voice, and it caused Ye Xiuwen to be completely taken aback.
That said, Jun Xiaomo did not have the luxury of time to explain anything else to Ye Xiuwen because the demonic beast came charging directly at her in the very next instant. She whipped her body around, brandished her whip and began to lash it straight towards the demonic beast.
It had to be mentioned that Jun Xiaomo still possessed a wealth of powerful talismans within her Interspatial Ring, and it would hardly be a difficult thing for her to use her talismans to dispose of this demonic beast in front of her right now. However, Jun Xiaomo knew full well that there were many more difficult battles that would be coming up in the near future. Every talisman she used meant one less for the battles ahead; and that would mean placing her life in greater danger in future.
Thus, she knew that she had to be more conservative in her usage of talismans.
As he watched the demonic beast engage in an all-out battle with Jun Xiaomo, Ye Xiuwen grimaced in pain, and a trace of mixed, complex emotions flickered in the depths of his eyes.
Meanwhile, just as Jun Xiaomo and Ye Xiuwen continued to attempt to breach the final line of formation arrays within the forbidden grounds, He Zhang and the rest had finally also managed to break through the formation array surrounding Qin Shanshan’s abode. It had been an arduous process, but they had finally done it after losing over ten disciples.
The preparation of such formation arrays involved the usage of several valuable resources and materials. It was regrettable that Jun Xiaomo had not carried enough resources and materials within her Interspatial Ring. Otherwise, she would have liked to set up far more powerful formation arrays that could even trap and devour He Zhang and the rest of the Sect Elders around as well.
After He Zhang and the other Sect Elders finally managed to break through Jun Xiaomo’s formation arrays, he led the remaining Dawn Sect disciples and surrounded every single part of Qin Shanshan’s room. He Zhang stood at the door to her room and yelled out, “Jun Ziwen, this Sect Leader is well aware that you’ve got ulterior motives for entering the Dawn Sect. We’ve already broken through your defensive formation array. If you know what’s best for you, you’d do well to surrender yourself and come out now. Don’t make us come in there and invite you out ourselves.”
Yet, the room remained completely still and silent, and the door to the room did not open up. That said, when they released their divine sense, they could still detect traces of Jun Ziwen and Qin Shanshan’s auras within the room. Thus, He Zhang sincerely believed that the two of them were still situated within the room, and they were simply not willing to leave the room right now.
He Zhang shouted for a few more times, yet there was not a single trace of movement.
What’s going on? He Zhang furrowed his brows.
“Master, why don’t we just barge in and take a look for ourselves?” Qin Lingyu suggested to He Zhang, “Waiting here isn’t going to do us any good either.”
“Barge in there? Who knows whether we’ll fall prey to more formation arrays lying in wait for us if we barge in there now?” The Fifth Elder huffed in exasperation.
Of the disciples that had perished today, the Fifth Elder’s losses were the greatest, and he was incredibly frustrated. Unfortunately, the person giving orders was none other than He Zhang, and he knew that it was not in his position to make a fuss out of this either. Thus, he was content with taking out his frustrations on He Zhang’s First-Seat Disciple, Qin Lingyu.
That said, He Zhang did find Qin Lingyu’s suggestion rather logical, and he glanced back at Qin Lingyu as he instructed, “Lingyu, bring a few disciples with you and take a look inside.”
Qin Lingyu was slightly taken aback by He Zhang’s instructions. However, moments later, he managed to suppress the indignation swelling within his heart.
He knew that he didn’t have a choice. After all, who else could he blame but himself for possessing the highest stature among all of the disciples, yet the lowest cultivation level when compared to the leaders of the Sect?
Just wait till I get my hands on the key to the Arcane Realm… Qin Lingyu’s eyes flickered with a trace of viciousness – he was going to trample every last one of these people underfoot!
Even though he was unwilling, he still complied with He Zhang’s instructions and led several disciples as they cautiously approached the door to Qin Shanshan’s room. Every step of the way, they would continue to probe around thoroughly with their divine senses, in the hope that they would not fall prey to yet another formation array.
Fortunately, they managed to make it to the main entrance without a hitch, and all of the disciples heaved a sigh of relief unanimously. On the other hand, Qin Lingyu’s spirit was incredibly tense right now.
He carefully placed a hand on the door – nothing happened.
Then, he gingerly pushed opened the door slightly ajar – still, nothing happened.
Finally, he mustered all his courage and opened the door wide open. Then, he noticed that the room was completely dark, and there was not a single thing within the room!
A sudden sense of unease washed over his heart. He strode brazenly into the room and began to take a look around. Even after entering the inner quarters of the room, he was unable to see any traces of Qin Shanshan or Jun Ziwen.
“Master! Not good! Jun Ziwen isn’t here at all – both he and Shanshan have vanished!” Qin Lingyu rushed out and relayed this important piece of news to He Zhang.
“Could Jun Ziwen have abducted Qin Shanshan and left the Sect?” The Fifth Elder thought aloud.
Qin Lingyu’s eyes darkened immediately. A swathe of blood shot up his throat, and he almost passed out – this was the key to his Arcane Realm that they were talking about!!!
“No, they haven’t left the Dawn Sect.” He Zhang coldly stated, reviving some measure of hope in Qin Lingyu’s heart. However, in the next moment, He Zhang’s words stifled the flame of hope in Qin Lingyu’s heart so much so that it was nothing more than a little wisp.
“They’ve not left the Dawn Sect, but they’ve entered the forbidden grounds! I’ve been too careless! I’ve only just realized that the formation arrays within the forbidden grounds have been activated by others! Summon all of the Dawn Sect disciples, pronto! We’re going to the forbidden grounds right now!”
Forbidden grounds?! With Qin Shanshan’s abilities at the Qi Mastery stage of cultivation, how could she possibly survive a trip through the forbidden grounds? Several people exclaimed in their hearts at the same time.Previous Chapter Next Chapter