Jun Xiaomo was unable to wrap her head around why the Dawn Sect would set up all of these formation arrays just to confine large amounts of demonic energy and rear demonic beasts within the forbidden grounds.
In fact, the demonic beast that Jun Xiaomo was battling right now was merely one of the demonic beasts that He Zhang had been rearing within the forbidden grounds. It had been feeding off the river filled with demonic energy that was designed to detect and attack any intruders, just like it had done with Jun Xiaomo and Ye Xiuwen.
The demonic beast possessed fangs that were as thick as a person’s arm, and its blood-red eyes were filled with what seemed to be a hazy, viscous substance which swirled slowly around. The beast’s incredibly nimble tongue was also forked like that of a vicious snake. Whenever it lashed out with its tongue, it would be able to strike anything that was within a five meters radius from it without any warning.
Jun Xiaomo furrowed her brows, and her spirits were tensed up to the extreme as she did her level best to avoid the relentless attacks by the demonic creature. Dealing with the demonic beast was still an incredibly difficult thing to her despite her elementary-tier Nascent Soul stage of cultivation. However, this only stood to reason. After all, in all the years that she was trapped within the Proving Grounds, most of her time was spent completely focused on increasing her mastery of formation arrays and talismans, and she had inadvertently neglected the training and mastering of her offensives abilities.
In other words, even though Jun Xiaomo possessed a high cultivation level right now, her combat abilities were no more than average at best. If this were the Jun Xiaomo of her previous life, a mere demonic beast in the advanced-tier Golden Core stage of cultivation could hardly be considered a threat to her. However, she had neglected her other offensive abilities for far too long. After three hundred years of complete focus in the disciplines of talismans and formation arrays, all of her offensive abilities had become totally strange and foreign to her.
Right now, the better part of one hour had passed since Jun Xiaomo first ordered Ye Xiuwen not to intervene. That said, Ye Xiuwen had also begun to notice that the fight was getting increasingly difficult for Jun Xiaomo, and he could no longer bring himself to sit idly by and not do a single thing. Besides, the demonic energy had almost been completely purged from his body by this point in time.
Thus, Ye Xiuwen stood up and unsheathed his sword. Then, his clothes fluttered and flickered, and he suddenly appeared directly in front of Jun Xiaomo, sending a massive wave of sword intent slicing straight towards the demonic beast!
“You! Didn’t I tell you that you can’t use the spiritual energy within your body for one full hour?!” Jun Xiaomo glared at Ye Xiuwen with some measure of exasperation.
“If I don’t make a move soon, you’re going to be hurt.” Ye Xiuwen calmly explained himself. As he finished speaking, his body flickered again, and with incredible speed, he cleaved the demonic beast’s tongue in half, before slicing it off entirely.
In that instant, poisonous, green blood spewed from the demonic beast’s tongue and spurted towards Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo. With one arm wrapped around Jun Xiaomo’s waist, Ye Xiuwen carried her to a place that was several meters away, swiftly dodging the poisonous blood spewing from the demonic beast’s tongue.
As Ye Xiuwen’s strong arms wrapped around Jun Xiaomo’s waist, she discovered that her ears had begun to grow warm for some strange reason.
Back when she was unaware that Jun Ziwen was none other than Ye Xiuwen, things had all been well and good. However, as soon as she realized that Jun Ziwen was Ye Xiuwen, she suddenly felt ill at ease around him.
Could this be a result of not interacting with martial brother Ye for such a longtime? Jun Xiaomo found herself slightly distracted with her own thoughts.
“Wait here and don’t move. I’ll take care of the demonic beast.” Ye Xiuwen instructed Jun Xiaomo. Then, he gently nudged Jun Xiaomo behind his body before turning back to the demonic beast once more.
Back when he was trapped within the Death’s Gorge, Ye Xiuwen had practically battled with all forms of different spirit and demonic beasts on a daily basis. Thus, with his cultivation level at the advance-tier Nascent Soul stage, dealing with and disposing of this demonic beast was as easy as the flick of a wrist.
Meanwhile, Jun Xiaomo stamped her foot on the ground as she muttered aloud, “One slip up and this guy seizes the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. Doesn’t he even care about the demonic energy in his body?!”
Then, when she thought about Ye Xiuwen’s explanation that she was going to get injured if he had not intervened, the rage in her heart subsided substantially. That said, she continued to murmur to herself with indignance, “So what if I get a little bit injured? I won’t die. You should’ve just remained still for one hour before moving!”
After the demonic beast’s tongue was cut off, it exploded into a frenzied state. Yet, despite that, it remained unable to touch even a corner of Ye Xiuwen’s clothes, while its injuries only continued to increase under the relentless barrage of attacks from Ye Xiuwen’s Frostburn Sword.
Finally, the demonic beast was felled by a fatal strike that cleanly sliced off its head, and it drew its final breath there and then.
As the demonic beast collapsed onto the ground, blood-like waters began to rain from the sky. Jun Xiaomo immediately shot towards Ye Xiuwen, retrieving a talisman from her Interspatial Ring and shouting at Ye Xiuwen, “Take this talisman. The demonic beast’s blood is filled with demonic energy. You can’t afford to let it seep into your body!”
Ye Xiuwen immediately retreated towards Jun Xiaomo as well. But just then, something bizarre occurred – the ground under Jun Xiaomo’s feet suddenly softened, and many large whirlpools began to appear around her.
“Ahh!” Jun Xiaomo let out an anxious cry. Her foot had begun to sink into one of the whirlpools on the ground. In the blink of an eye, half of Jun Xiaomo’s body was already pulled into the ground.
Ye Xiuwen’s heart constricted, and he immediately darted towards where Jun Xiaomo was located. Unfortunately, he was too late.
Jun Xiaomo had already been almost completely swallowed up by the whirlpool by the time he arrived, and he could only touch the tip of Jun Xiaomo’s finger that were barely sticking out from the ground.
“Miss Tong!” Without pausing for a moment to think, Ye Xiuwen also leapt into the same whirlpool and vanished into its depths.
After swallowing up two people, the strange grounds gradually returned to normal, and the bizarre whirlpools that had appeared out of the blue seemed like nothing more than a fleeting dream.
Meanwhile, He Zhang and the others had finally just arrived at the border to the forbidden grounds. No one else was aware of the fact that He Zhang was rearing demonic creatures within the forbidden grounds, and this was something that He Zhang knew he could not afford to let anyone know either. After all, if anyone ever discovered this secret of his, he would never be able to retain his position as the Sect Leader of the Dawn Sect.
He Zhang immediately knew when one of his demonic beasts within the forbidden grounds was felled by Ye Xiuwen. To begin with, he had formed a contract with that demonic beast of his, so the demonic beast’s death instantly struck him with a powerful backlash, inflicting him with an internal injury. Thus, as soon as his demonic beast died, He Zhang immediately spat out a mouthful of fresh blood!
“Master!” Qin Lingyu hurriedly supported He Zhang.
“I’m fine.” He Zhang held up a hand and gritted his teeth as he shrugged it off. His eyes were filled with a vicious gaze and killing intent, all of which were directed straight towards Jun Ziwen.
The only person who could possibly kill his pet demonic beast would be none other than Jun Ziwen who had already breached the forbidden grounds. He Zhang had used human blood and demonic energy to secretly cultivate and groom several powerful demonic beasts within the forbidden grounds in the hope that he could use these beasts to dispose of the people that he hated in future.
Nobody would expect a spiritual cultivation Sect Leader to groom and nurture such vicious, evil beings to begin with. Thus, he knew that as soon as the demonic beasts had served their purpose, he could simply pin the blame on demonic cultivators in order to clear his own name.
That said, how could he have expected Jun Ziwen to be able to kill one of his demonic beasts within several hours of breaching the forbidden grounds’ domain? Even though the demonic beast that Jun Ziwen had just killed was the weakest one of them all, He Zhang was still incredibly frustrated by this fact.
“Damn. You! Jun Ziwen, don’t ever let me catch you!” He Zhang gnashed his teeth and brandished his fists as he muttered under his breath.
“Master, what’s the plan now? Shanshan’s still inside as well.” Qin Lingyu anxiously quipped as he glanced at the Origin Locket in his hands from time to time.
If Qin Shanshan perished within the forbidden grounds, his plans would be rendered completely wasted. Thus, no matter what, he had to do all he could to cajole He Zhang to save Qin Shanshan in the shortest possible time.
He Zhang glanced back at Qin Lingyu, before looking at the other Sect Elders and Peakmasters. All of them were waiting for He Zhang’s command.
“All of you wait here. I’ll go in and take a look.” He Zhang placidly instructed everyone behind him.
“Master, wouldn’t it be best if you took a few more people with you? After all, Jun Ziwen is a formidable array master…” Qin Lingyu felt that the odds of success would be higher with more people around.
“There’s no need. It might only make things worse. So what if he’s an array master? The formation arrays within the forbidden grounds are tens or hundreds of times more complicated than the Sect’s protective formation array. He cannot possibly have unlocked and disabled all of the formation arrays within such a short span of time. Besides, none of you are familiar with the forbidden grounds. If any of you get lost within, I’ll still have to come looking for you. Instead, it would be better if you stay here. This way, if he comes out, all of you can work together to apprehend him.”
“Yes, Sect Leader.”
He Zhang’s words were logical, and everyone wholeheartedly accepted He Zhang’s suggestion as well as the reasoning behind it, including the Second Elder and Qin Lingyu, both of whom were usually more thorough with their thoughts and schemes.
Not a single one of them suspected He Zhang to have ulterior reasons for disallowing the rest to enter the forbidden grounds together with him. Truth be told, He Zhang was hardly concerned about the fact that they would be a burden and a deadweight to him – his only concern was that he wanted to keep his personal secret well-hidden and under wraps.
He Zhang was incredibly familiar with the forbidden grounds. When the previous Sect Leader passed on and appointed He Zhang as the next Sect Leader, he had also handed over the forbidden ground’s formation diagram to He Zhang. With that, He Zhang was able to come and go from any place within the forbidden grounds as he wished. On the other hand, the Sect Elders and the Peakmasters were only granted access to limited parts of the forbidden grounds, and their understanding of that place was far more limited than what He Zhang knew.
In fact, the Dawn Sect’s forbidden grounds was also the burial place of all the previous Sect Leaders of the Dawn Sect. As soon as each of these Sect Leaders knew that they were drawing near their final breaths, they would of their own volition enter the forbidden grounds and await their own death inside. Then, with their lingering souls, they would continue to protect the Sect from where they were.
In order to prevent others from stumbling upon this place unwittingly and interrupting the eternal slumber of these previous Sect Leaders, all of the previous Sect Leaders had continually and incrementally added to the formation arrays sequestering the forbidden grounds, thus, increasing the complexity of its defenses and making it increasingly harder for trespassers to enter those grounds.
That said, this practice had completely changed as soon as He Zhang assumed the mantle of Sect Leader. He Zhang treated the forbidden grounds as his own personal space. Not only did he begin to rear demonic beasts within the forbidden grounds, he even set up some forbidden formation arrays in the areas where he was rearing the demonic beasts to be used for the sole purposes of suppressing and whittling away at the demonic beasts’ rationality, allowing him to fully control them. His voracious designs were abundantly clear from his actions.
His intentions were to capitalize on the forbidden grounds to increase his wealth and personal gains. That said, Jun Xiaomo and Ye Xiuwen had unexpectedly stumbled upon the darkest parts of the forbidden grounds that were core to He Zhang’s plans – they had begun to uncover more than the tip of the iceberg.
After disseminating his instructions, He Zhang strode into the forbidden ground with a quick gait. As he walked ahead, he steeled his resolve and made up his mind – if Qin Shanshan had also seen those things within the forbidden grounds, she most certainly could not be allowed to live any longer either. He was determined not to allow anyone who could potentially threaten his grand plans live to tell the tale.
With such thoughts on his mind, He Zhang’s expressions darkened and grew vicious and sullen.
Ye Xiuwen had thought that by jumping into the same whirlpool as Jun Xiaomo, he would be sent to the same place that “Qin Shanshan” had been sent to. Unexpectedly, when he came out at the other end of the whirlpool, he was unable to see “Qin Shanshan” anywhere in sight.
“Miss Tong!” Ye Xiuwen shouted. Yet, his surroundings were completely silent. There was not a single response to his cry.
Could I still have been separated from Miss Tong? Ye Xiuwen furrowed his brows, and a sense of unease washed over his heart.Previous Chapter Next Chapter