Chapter 30: The Secret of the Forbidden Grounds

“If you are indeed a Demonic Packrat, then it’s no wonder we feel so close to each other!” Jun Xiaomo light-heartedly rubbed the little packrat’s white fur.

Demonic Packrats liked anything that contained or emanated demonic energy, and Jun Xiaomo’s acquired demonic body was naturally something they were attracted to.

Demonic Packrats were considered a mutated species, and they were different from most other species of packrats – they do not reproduce in order to ensure the survival of its species. Rather, it depended solely on the mutations of newborns to regular packrats. In other words, the odds of their appearances are based entirely on chance. Furthermore, while regular packrats were rather productive creatures, there was less than a million-in-one chance that a newborn packrat would be mutated as a Demonic Packrat! It was highly likely that a Demonic Packrat’s parents would merely be two regular packrats. 

Therefore, the number of Demonic Packrats was few and far between. Furthermore, several cultivators treat Demonic Packrats as bad omens or harbingers of bad luck, and they would invariably kill these creatures as soon as they saw them.

As for the origins of these rumours, it was simple – Demonic Packrats liked anything to do with demonic energy and shunned spiritual energy; this was their main difference from other packrats. In turn, the areas which are generally rich with demonic energy tend to be dark and vile places, such as burial sites, prison cells, black forests, and the like. Therefore, because Demonic Packrats were generally attracted to and inhabited these places, their appearances in the land of the living were naturally generally seen as a bad omen for people.

But the truth was that these were baseless rumours spread by the “righteous and sanctimonious” cultivators, just like how they had treated Jun Xiaomo in the past.

Jun Xiaomo looked at the little creature in her bosom and was somehow reminded of the years she had been persecuted by others for no reason. Therefore, she truly empathized with this little creature.

“Little fella, are you willing to follow me? If you are, I will take you wherever I go from now on.” Jun Xiaomo gently stroked the ruffled fur on the packrat’s back.

Squeak squeak~ The little packrat gently rubbed Jun Xiaomo’s fingers, and even tenderly licked her fingertips, expressing its attachment to Jun Xiaomo in its actions.

“Alright! Then from now on you’re my little packrat! I’ll call you Packie, okay? Packie~” Jun Xiaomo again tousled the little furball, which in turn responded cheerfully with its little squeaks.

Suddenly, the little packrat leapt down from Jun Xiaomo’s hands and sped away of her. Worried that she would lose her new pet, Jun Xiaomo hurriedly chased after it, shouting, “Little fella, where are you going?!”

At this moment, the little Packrat’s body was still obscured by the effects of the invisibility talisman. However, because Jun Xiaomo had left her mark on the invisibility talisman, she was the only one under the Golden Core cultivation level still able to see this little packrat.

But this did not necessarily mean that the little packrat was safe. After all, it was not difficult to come by a formidable cultivator within the Sect, and these people would not necessarily be unable to identify the demonic nature of this packrat!

Jun Xiaomo thought – this packrat is too disobedient! I’ll have to smack its butt when I catch it.

Despite its short legs, the snow-white packrat continued to sprint forward in leaps and bounds, occasionally disappearing into the tall grass, while at times revealing itself in Jun Xiaomo’s line of sight. However, whenever it discovered that Jun Xiaomo was not following it anymore, it would obediently turn back and wait until Jun Xiaomo caught up before moving off again.

Jun Xiaomo was absolutely infuriated by this little creature’s behaviour!

The surroundings gradually began to change – the original verdant and lush woods grew increasingly sparse, and the ground below began to reveal an unidentifiable reddish-brown coloured soil.

At this instant, Jun Xiaomo felt the onset of a bad premonition, and she immediately stopped in her tracks, where she promptly also discovered the aura of a formidable formation array. The surrounding air even carried faint traces of the stench of blood!

Not good! This is the Sect’s forbidden grounds!

Even though her memory of this place was from almost one hundred years ago, but that dreadful aura of the forbidden ground’s formation array was ever so peculiar and familiar to Jun Xiaomo. This place absolutely did not seem like a normal place; rather, it seemed more like a man-made demonic energy gathering grounds.

Wait. Demonic energy gathering grounds? Jun Xiaomo took a closer examination of the area and discovered a thick concentration of demonic energy here; while the spiritual energy was so sparse that it was almost pitiful.

Why was there a demonic energy gathering formation array here around the Sect’s forbidden grounds?

In her previous life, when Jun Xiaomo trespassed the Sect’s forbidden grounds, she had wholeheartedly set her mind to retrieving what Qin Lingyu wanted. Furthermore, she was only sixteen years-old then, and was unable to differentiate between demonic energy and spiritual energy. Therefore, she had not discovered the demonic energy gathering effects of the formation array around the Sect’s forbidden grounds. But in this life, there was no reason for her to still be oblivious to the effects of this formation array.

Now, it seemed that Dawn Sect’s secrets were far more numerous and insidious than what she had originally expected.

Squeak squeak! Packie discovered that Jun Xiaomo had not followed along, and obediently returned towards to Jun Xiaomo, scampering around her in circles.

“Little fella, the further you go, the more dangerous it is. I cannot follow you in there right now.” Jun Xiaomo bent down and laughed at that comical little ball of fur, simultaneously deciding to leave this mysterious place and retrace her path back to where she came from.

Even if she wanted to further investigate the forbidden grounds, she would have to hold this off until the next time. Otherwise, with her first level of Qi Mastery and her inability to properly operate the true energy within her body, she would almost certainly be courting her own doom.

Seeing that its master was determined not to go any further into the forbidden grounds, Packie also gave up its initial plan to travel deeper.

But…there’s a really pleasant aroma coming from within… Packie dishearteningly thought, gnawing at his claws unwillingly.

Demonic Packrats were attracted to things which contained demonic energy. Therefore, some demonic cultivators would use Demonic Packrats to hunt for treasures and equipment!

What this “gluttonous” Demonic Packrat did not know was, if Jun Xiaomo and it had taken one step further into the Sect’s forbidden grounds, they would immediately have activated a defensive formation array. If that happened, even escaping with their lives intact might have been a difficult thing.

Therefore, it could be said that this day, Jun Xiaomo and Packie had practically knocked on Death’s door and lived. 

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After she returned to her room, Jun Xiaomo set her little packrat down to one side, and propping her chin up with her hands, she immersed herself in her thoughts.

Most sects would have a similar area set aside as their forbidden grounds. But as to the exact location and what it hid or stored – these were matters that over ninety-nine percent of the sect members were unaware of. This was because the details pertaining to a sect’s forbidden grounds were generally passed down from sect leader to sect leader by word of mouth. Apart from these sect leaders and their most trusted sect elders or disciples, other people would be kept in the dark.

The surrounding areas of these forbidden grounds would further be restricted and protected by countless mysterious and profound formation arrays. Unless one was aware of the locations of these formation arrays and what exactly they were used for, then even if the forbidden grounds were just in front of that person, he would not be able to discover nor enter it.

Truth be told, if not for Packie’s innate understanding of these demonic “delicacies”, coupled with its pathfinding abilities, the two of them might well have been trapped in the forbidden ground’s formation arrays long ago.

Jun Xiaomo stuck out her finger and stroked her little packrat’s fur gently, laughing helplessly, “You’re such a gluttonous thing. I’m really not sure whether finding you was a blessing or a disaster.”

Squeak squeak… Packie gently hugged Jun Xiaomo’s finger with its paws and happily licked it.

Jun Xiaomo retracted her finger, and her smile slowly faded away.

Right now, she was even more certain that Sect Leader He Zhang was inextricably linked to her earlier trespassing of the Sect’s forbidden grounds. Could it be that He Zhang had from a long time ago already planned to use her to slowly x at Heavenly Peak?

As she contemplated, Jun Xiaomo grew more and more determined to grow stronger, and she found her earlier despondence almost laughable.

Did I really think that without myself, He Zhang would not scheme against Heavenly Peak? Of course not! He would just attempt to achieve the same end with different means.

Besides, the current He Zhang was still proceeding according to his original plan. Having this knowledge would enable Jun Xiaomo to make all the precautions necessary. But if He Zhang changed his plans, it was going to be much more difficult to guard against him.

With this, Jun Xiaomo’s mood momentarily lightened up.

“Hey, be good and stay here quietly. I’m going to meditate and cultivate for a while, understand?” Jun Xiaomo stroked her little packrat and tousled its white fur.

Squeak squeak~ Packie obsequiously responded.

Jun Xiaomo laughed as she crossed her legs, sat upright and placed both palms facing up on her legs. Then, she slowly started operating the true energy within her body.

She still had not discovered the nub for speeding up the transformation of true energy into spiritual energy, and so she had no choice but to painstakingly work at her cultivation. After all, if a cultivator wished to stand at the pinnacle of the world, it required both talent as well as diligence.

Packie gnawed at his claws, and suddenly leapt into Jun Xiaomo’s bosom, shuddered for a moment, and then quietened itself.

Jun Xiaomo did not realize this, but the dispersion of demonic energy and spiritual energy from Jun Xiaomo’s body had all been absorbed by her little packrat.

After two hours, Jun Xiaomo opened her eyes and looked at herself with a pleasant surprise – her cultivation speed had once again increased!

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