“Isn’t it difficult for you to remain seated upright given that you’ve just regained consciousness?” Ye Xiuwen patted Jun Xiaomo’s bed, “Lie down for a while. I’ll make you something to eat. You must be hungry after sleeping for so many days.”
Jun Xiaomo held her nose high in the air and proudly retorted, “I’m already in the elementary-tier Nascent Soul stage of cultivation! I wouldn’t be hungry even if I didn’t eat anything.”
Ye Xiuwen found her reaction slightly amusing. That said, he also found himself rather helpless in front of her as he tousled her hair once more as he quipped, “That’s right, little martial sister has grown up.”
Over eleven years had passed in the blink of an eye, and this young girl who had only been chest-height to him had finally blossomed into a beautiful, fine figure with gracious curves and mature appearances replete with an unwavering, steadfast determination.
That said, he had also discovered that she would subconsciously display some childish behaviour whenever she was around him. This caused Ye Xiuwen to feel a swathe of complex emotions washing through his heart.
Was he fated to remain as nothing more than a trustworthy martial brother in Jun Xiaomo’s eyes?
On the other hand, Jun Xiaomo began to feel rather embarrassed by the slightly indulgent gaze in Ye Xiuwen’s eyes, and she lowered her head once more and rubbed her nose. Then, she covered her mouth and yawned.
“Are you tired? You should get some more rest if you’re feeling tired?” Ye Xiuwen suggested.
Truth be told, there were so many things that he wanted to ask Jun Xiaomo, including about her recent developments, about where she had been over these ten years she had ostensibly been missing from the world, and especially about where she had developed such proficiency over her formation arrays and talismans.
However, when he saw how Jun Xiaomo presented herself with such a pale, weary face with listless eyes, he decided to shelf his thoughts for another day.
There was no rush after all. Rest was the most important thing to Jun Xiaomo right now. After all, she was still recovering from her injuries.
Unfortunately, Jun Xiaomo was oblivious to Ye Xiuwen’s thoughts and considerations. She had just been reunited with her martial brother, and she was absolutely unwilling to lie back down and rest just like that.
Besides, her heart was also filled with all sorts of questions and queries, and she knew that she would be unable to sleep if she had no answer to these thoughts weighing on her heart.
“Martial brother Ye, I don’t feel like resting just yet.” Jun Xiaomo shook her head and rejected Ye Xiuwen’s suggestions. Just as Ye Xiuwen furrowed his brows and thought to persuade her, Jun Xiaomo patted the empty part of her bed beside her, asking, “Martial brother Ye, can you sit here so that I can lean on you?”
Ye Xiuwen was taken aback. He had not expected such a request from Jun Xiaomo.
When she received no response from Ye Xiuwen apart from seeing him frozen stiff, she began to pout. Then, with a swift grab, she began to tug at Ye Xiuwen’s arm, dragging him over to her side.
Finally, Jun Xiaomo shut her eyes and leaned to the side, resting her head on Ye Xiuwen’s shoulder as she remarked with a sigh, “This is more comfortable.”
She had already thought to do this since a long time ago. After all, the cool, dignified air about Ye Xiuwen somehow brought peace to the undulating emotions in her heart.
The fact that Ye Xiuwen was none other than Jun Ziwen suddenly sank into her heart, and she realized that it had been none other than Ye Xiuwen who had carried her back to the inn while she was drunk just a little while ago. At that time, she had even dreamt about the time when she was young, and how she had played with such a carefree attitude, without a single burden on her mind. At that time, she had simply thought all of this were a mere illusion.
On the other hand, the astonishment in Ye Xiuwen’s heart began to dissipate as he looked at how Jun Xiaomo was resting against his shoulder in bliss.
After a moment’s hesitation, he tousled Jun Xiaomo’s hair once more and received a warm snuggle from her.
This little brat is still just like a child. Who would believe that this is none other than the array master who had singlehandedly dealt with an entire Sect’s leaders all on her own? Ye Xiuwen smiled faintly, and his eyes were filled with a trace of warmth and delight.
“Oh yes, martial brother, what happened after you fell into the Death’s Gorge? How come it took you so long to get out of there?”
Jun Xiaomo lifted her head and asked curiously.
Ye Xiuwen was slightly taken aback. After thinking for a moment, he responded, “After falling in, I encountered a new master within the Death’s Gorge. If I hadn’t encountered him, I might not have been able to get out alive.”
Jun Xiaomo’s heart instantly constricted as she grabbed Ye Xiuwen’s arm anxiously, “It’s that dangerous?!”
Ye Xiuwen smiled, “That’s right. There are throngs of powerful spirit and demonic beasts there. The Death’s Gorge is filled with thick, dense energy, which in turn stimulated and accelerated the growth of the spirit and demonic beasts alike. There’s no way of returning to the surface until one is able to breach the artificial barrier formed by the multitude of ferocious beasts within.”
“Is that why martial brother spent twelve years within the Death’s Gorge before finally making it out alive?” Jun Xiaomo lowered her head as she muttered dolefully, “It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t run out of the Sect willfully, martial brother wouldn’t have fallen into the Death’s Gorge while protecting me and end up suffering for so many long, arduous years.”
Over the last three hundred years, there was not a single day that Jun Xiaomo had not been blaming herself for this. Then, after returning from the Proving Grounds, her heart was filled with both hope and worry – she had hoped to hear news relating to Ye Xiuwen, but she was at the very same time worried that Ye Xiuwen was still trapped within the Death’s Gorge, unable to return to the surface ever again.
Then, to her horror, not only did she fail to hear any news about Ye Xiuwen, she even learnt that the entire Heavenly Peak had fallen into a tragic predicament.
As he observed the miserable expression on Jun Xiaomo’s face, Ye Xiuwen couldn’t help but pat her shoulder and console her, “It wasn’t little martial sister’s fault. Furthermore, if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. If not for the fact that I’d fallen into the Death’s Gorge, my cultivation strength would never have experienced such a meteoric rise to the extent that I can even stand toe-to-toe against the Dawn Sect’s Sect Elders right now.”
“But I still feel bad.” Jun Xiaomo muttered exasperatedly.
Ye Xiuwen looked at Jun Xiaomo’s vexed expression, and he couldn’t help but feel slightly helpless and bemused.
“Alright, martial brother has already accounted for the things he’s done over the last twelve years. Isn’t it about time for Xiaomo to explain what she’s encountered over this period of time as well?” Ye Xiuwen knew that his consolation was hardly bearing any fruit, so he decided to change tact and segue into something different, “Little Mo had earlier mentioned that she had already lived for over three hundred years – was this all a lie? Martial brother Chen had mentioned that Little Mo had gone missing for some time, and nobody knew where you had gone at all.”
Jun Xiaomo coughed dryly as she responded, “Actually, I’m not really lying to martial brother there.”
Ye Xiuwen raised his eyebrows curiously.
“Eleven years ago, I’d inadvertently offended Princess Linglong from the Greenwich Kingdom, thereby stepping on the toes of the rest of the Zephyr Sect. In order to protect me, my master from the Zephyr Sect decided to send me into his Proving Grounds on the pretext that I had entered a period of closed-door cultivation. At that time, I’d even sent a letter to father and mother to explain this to them. Then, eleven years after entering the Proving Grounds, I graduated and left the Proving Grounds, only to realize that there had been a massive upheaval in the outside world. I’d become a ‘dead person’, while my master had vanished into thin air as well.”
“The Proving Grounds was something that my great grandmaster had created for the purposes of developing and honing the skills of budding array masters and talisman masters. The most prominent thing to note is that the heart of the formation array was crafted using a special material. As a result, time within the Proving Grounds is dilated and passes at a different rate as the outside world. Spending thirty days within the Proving Grounds is equivalent to spending only one day in the outside world. Cough…thus, while eleven years had passed in the outside world, I’ve already spent three hundred and thirty years in the Proving Grounds…” Jun Xiaomo looked at Ye Xiuwen and blinked her eyes expectantly.
Ye Xiuwen found himself rather speechless at her explanation. After all, he had always thought that his little martial sister had just matured and come of age. How could he have expected that she had already lived for well over three hundred years?
Would this not mean that her age was one whole digit in excess of his own age?
Ye Xiuwen immediately dispelled any thoughts and contemplations in this regard. After all, where was he going to start if he were to pursue this train of thought seriously? How should he even begin to treat this little martial sister of his who had suddenly become much older than him?
“Truth be told, it was really difficult for me at the start.” Jun Xiaomo curled up into a ball and hugged her knees tightly, “I was the only person within the Proving Grounds, and each day that passed was more difficult than the next. There wasn’t a single moment when I didn’t think about you guys, but I could not leave the Proving Grounds until I completed all of the checkpoints. At that time, reunion seemed just so far away…”
Ye Xiuwen’s heart wrenched in pain. He had only considered the fact that Jun Xiaomo had spent over three hundred years within the Proving Grounds, but he had not considered how Jun Xiaomo felt over this span of time.
He did experience a moment of despair and despondence back when he fell into the Death’s Gorge. Fortunately, he encountered his new master who brought his thoughts away from all that and gave him hope once more. That said, there was not a single moment that he did not yearn to leave the Death’s Gorge so that he could see those whom he loved and cherished once more.
But what about his little martial sister? She had spent over three hundred arduous years all on her own within the Proving Grounds! How did she spend her time there? When she got injured, was she scared? When she realized she was all alone in the middle of the night, would she feel lonely?
He patted Jun Xiaomo’s head gently. After hesitating for a moment, he embraced her.
“Martial brother?” Jun Xiaomo leaned in Ye Xiuwen’s bosom and blinked her eyes at him with some measure of bewilderment.
“It’s all in the past now.” Ye Xiuwen patted her back and consoled her.
“Mm, that’s right. It’s all in the past. Once we locate father and mother and all of the other Heavenly Peak disciples, we can all be reunited once more.” Jun Xiaomo’s eyes curled into an arch as she stretched out her arm and embraced Ye Xiuwen around the waist as well.
Ye Xiuwen saw the measure of trust and reliance reposed in him from her actions, and his gaze softened slightly.
That said, his heart still ached when he noticed how Jun Xiaomo’s face was so pale as a result of her earlier blood loss. Thus, he knew that she still needed a period of time to rest and recuperate before they could be on their way to reunite with the rest of the Heavenly Peak.
He pinched her pale, anemic-looking cheeks once more, and received an aggrieved look from Jun Xiaomo, as though asking why he was pinching her cheeks. Jun Xiaomo’s eyelashes were long and expressive, as though they were the beautiful wings of a butterfly. In that moment, Ye Xiuwen found his gaze completely transfixed and enthralled by the expression in her eyes.
When she noticed how Ye Xiuwen’s eyes were completely entranced and filled with her own image, she could feel her cheeks flushing slightly with warmth.
The atmosphere in the room became awkward once more. Then, Jun Xiaomo suddenly realized that she had been locked in an embrace with her martial brother Ye for far too long, and she immediately scrambled to sit back upright. Even though Ye Xiuwen was somewhat unwilling, he still reluctantly released his embrace as well.
Naturally, none of his expressions were revealed on his cool, composed face.
Just as Jun Xiaomo was about to sit up, the door to the room was opened once more, and a clear, spritely female voice rang out, “Martial brother Ye, I heard that sister Xiaomo is awake. I’ve made some soup to nourish sister Xiaomo’s body.”
Sister Xiaomo? Jun Xiaomo furrowed her brows. She couldn’t recall where or when she had encountered a sister. With such thoughts on her mind, she looked straight back up at the door.
In the very next moment, her eyes widened immensely, and her voice grew hoarse!
“Zhang. Shu. Yue! Why are you here?!” Jun Xiaomo gnashed her teeth as she barked.
This was the very same woman who had cheated Ye Xiuwen’s feelings and caused his demise in the end! Could she be here to fool her martial brother Ye a second time?!
When Zhang Shuyue opened the door earlier, she was immediately met with two unexpected occurrences. The first was when she witnessed Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo locked together in a tight embrace; and the second was when Jun Xiaomo called out her name – how could she possibly know her to begin with?
Zhang Shuyue’s smile instantly stiffened up slightly, but she recovered and composed herself very quickly and covered up her pretenses.
“I’d not expected sister Xiaomo to already know my name. I wonder if it’s because brother Ye has already told you about me.” As Zhang Shuyue remarked, she cast a bashful glance at Ye Xiuwen.
It was evident that Zhang Shuyue bore the same intention towards Ye Xiuwen in this present life.
Jun Xiaomo was completely incensed. Ever since she had been reborn into this present life, she had sworn on her heart that she would do all she could to increase the distance between her martial brother Ye and this cheap woman. Her martial brother Ye could pick anyone he liked – the only person he was not allowed to extend his affection towards was the traitorous woman, Zhang Shuyue!
“Zhang Shuyue, die!” Jun Xiaomo suddenly retrieved her whip from her Interspatial Ring and rushed out of her bed, charging straight towards Zhang Shuyue.
“Martial sister!” Ye Xiuwen reacted almost immediately and attempted to hold Jun Xiaomo back. Unfortunately, he was still too late, and all he managed to grab was a corner of her sleeves.
Jun Xiaomo raised her whip and lashed viciously towards Zhang Shuyue.
Unfortunately, she had not fully recovered from her injuries, and the whiplash only comprised less than a tenth of the total energy she could usually muster. Thus, the strike was completely lackluster.
Zhang Shuyue should have been able to avoid such an injury with ease. However, she glanced at Ye Xiuwen out of the corner of her eye, and a split-second ploy immediately surfaced on her heart. She dispelled the strength within her body and tilted her body slightly, putting her vital organs out of harm’s way.
Just like that, the whiplash struck her squarely, instantly leaving a deep wound on her body.
The pain accompanying this strike was hardly light to begin with, and Zhang Shuyue groaned in pain as she clutched at her fresh injury. Blood began to pour out of her wound profusely.
Even though she appeared to be in a tragic state, Zhang Shuyue’s eyes were filled with a victorious gleam.Previous Chapter Next Chapter