Zhang Shuyue was so infuriated that her face flushed, and her heart palpitated, sending boiling blood coursing throughout her body.
How dare Jun Xiaomo ask me why she couldn’t be in Ye Xiuwen’s room?! Rather than sleeping, what was she doing running off into a man’s room at night?! Where is her propriety?!
Most importantly, Zhang Shuyue could see that Jun Xiaomo’s body was still covered by an outer coat that was ostensibly too large for her – it was obvious that coat belonged to Ye Xiuwen. Zhang Shuyue had always had feelings for Ye Xiuwen, so how could she possibly remain inert and unfazed when Jun Xiaomo had evidently stepped ahead and stolen Ye Xiuwen’s heart? Zhang Shuyue was completely incensed right now!
“You…what have you been doing last night?!” Zhang Shuyue eyes reddened as she blurted out without restraint. If a person who did not understand the parties involved in this matter witnessed this scene right now, they might even begin to think that Zhang Shuyue was here to catch a third party in a relationship red-handed.
That said, it didn’t matter how ambiguous the situation looked since there were only three of them around now.
Jun Xiaomo raised her eyebrow and smiled meaningfully as she slowly walked over to Ye Xiuwen’s side. Then, she wrapped her arm around his arm, leaned her head on his shoulder and then responded to Zhang Shuyue, “What do you think we were doing last night?”
How could Zhang Shuyue be unaware of the fact that Jun Xiaomo was intentionally triggering her? Anyone would be able to tell that the relationship between Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo was well beyond the ordinary relationship between a martial brother and a martial sister.
It had only been one night! How can these two people experience such earth-shattering changes to their relationship within the span of just one night?!
Jun Xiaomo was now the target of both jealousy and hatred in Zhang Shuyue’s heart. Having previously noticed that Jun Xiaomo and Ye Xiuwen had not professed their fondness for each other, she had initially thought that time was on her side, and she could slowly work her way into Ye Xiuwen’s heart. How could she have expected Jun Xiaomo to play by her own rules and flip things around in her favour overnight? How could she have expected them to transform their pure relationship between martial siblings into that of a couple without any prior warnings?
She had misjudged Jun Xiaomo completely! How thick-skinned must Jun Xiaomo be to have done all of these things?!
If Jun Xiaomo could hear that thoughts of Zhang Shuyue’s heart right now, she would most certainly burst out with laughter. After all, it was the embodiment of the pot calling the kettle black – in fact, the truth of the matter was that Zhang Shuyue was far more thick-skinned than Jun Xiaomo!
After all, Jun Xiaomo could never bring herself to stoop so low to manipulate the sincere affection of others just to satisfy her own ends.
As she looked at the lovebirds, Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo, Zhang Shuyue realized that she would only be making a mockery of herself if she continued to remain here. Ye Xiuwen was fond of Jun Xiaomo to begin with. Now that they had confessed their feelings for each other and brought the relationship to the next level, wouldn’t there be even less room left for Zhang Shuyue to even attempt to worm her way into Ye Xiuwen’s heart?
Zhang Shuyue bit down on her lower lips and glared begrudgingly at Ye Xiuwen for a moment. Then, she turned around and left in a huff without another word.
If only Zhang Shuyue were to learn that it was her appearance that had catalyzed the next step in the relationship between Jun Xiaomo and Ye Xiuwen – how much more frustrated and incensed would she be?!
“Is she really leaving just like that? And to think that I was even thinking of sussing out just how powerful her combat abilities are.” Jun Xiaomo murmured as she turned towards Zhang Shuyue’s silhouette in the distance and stuck out her tongue at Zhang Shuyue, making a face.
Ye Xiuwen didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at Jun Xiaomo’s bizarre and mystifying behaviour. Nevertheless, he patted Jun Xiaomo’s head as he redirected her focus onto the matter at hand, “Alright, stop pretending to be innocent after gaining an edge over others. Go pack your things. We’ll leave this place today.”
“Are we really leaving today?! That’s great!” Jun Xiaomo’s eyes brightened as she clapped her hands in joy. A gleam of delight flashed across the depths of her eyes.
Ye Xiuwen raised his eyebrows quizzically, “Did you think I was lying to you last night?”
“Not at all. Martial Brother Ye never lies.” Jun Xiaomo immediately smiled radiantly at Ye Xiuwen, pretending to be innocent.
Ye Xiuwen chuckled lightly as well as he gently flicked Jun Xiaomo’s forehead.
Truth be told, Jun Xiaomo’s earlier possessive behaviour made him feel special and at ease. He had been concerned that his Little Martial Sister would be unable to distinguish the differences between a generic relationship between martial siblings and a loving relationship between a couple, to the exclusion of all other potential suitors. But, from Jun Xiaomo’s earlier interactions with Zhang Shuyue, he might have overcomplicated matters in his own mind – after all, if his martial sister did not appreciate these differences, her earlier interaction with Zhang Shuyue would not have been laced with such protectiveness and jealousy.
Naturally, these were not things he was going to discuss with Jun Xiaomo for fear that he would attract her ire.
Meanwhile, just as Jun Xiaomo reveled in the delight that she could finally wash her hands of Zhang Shuyue and no longer have to worry about history repeating itself, Zhang Shuyue finally returned to her room. As she gnashed her teeth in rage, she retrieved a Transmittance Talisman from her Interspatial Ring.
She bit her finger and dripped a drop of fresh blood onto the Transmittance Talisman. After glowing with an intense blue light, the Transmittance Talisman projected an image of a person directly above it.
“What’s the matter? Shuyue, did something happen in the valley? Why did you contact Master so urgently…?” A female cultivator with a stern and somber disposition appeared above the Transmittance Talisman. She wore her hair in a perfect bun, and not a single strand of hair was out of place. This lady was ostensibly someone incredibly strict, disciplined and rigid person – clearly not someone that anyone in the right mind would want to cross.
“Mas-…Master…wu-wu-wuuu…” As soon as she heard her master’s voice, Zhang Shuyue immediately started bawling, and tears began to flow from her eyes like the trickling waters of a stream.
“Shuyue! Why are you crying? What happened?!” Zhang Shuyue’s master immediately knitted her brows together, and her expression instantly darkened and became fearsome and terrifying.
Zhang Shuyue was her favourite disciple, one that she doted upon the most. She would not even beat or scold Zhang Shuyue if she could help it. In fact, she had only left the valley just a few days ago, so she could hardly fathom why her dear disciple bawling so sorrowfully now.
“Master, I was wrong. You were right – men are no good things. I should never have let my heart be moved by a man…wu-wu-wuu…” Zhang Shuyue continued to bawl intensely, appearing as though she had been abandoned by someone.
And it was precisely because of her bawling that Xiang Guqing developed a misunderstanding – she immediately thought that her beloved disciple was bawling because she had fallen in love with a man, only to be used and then abandoned by him.
“Stop crying! What has happened, has happened. There’s no use crying over spilt milk. This was why Master had time and again cautioned you that men can be used, but never invested in. But you never quite understood what Master meant anyway. Look at how you’re suffering the consequences of your disobedience now! Come, tell Master exactly what has happened.” Xiang Guqing sternly chided Zhang Shuyue.
If this man had truly bullied her disciple, she would do everything within her abilities to yank out his nerves and flay his skin on behalf of her disciple.
Zhang Shuyue wiped her eyes and began to recount with a choking, whimpering voice, “Over the last few days, I’d encountered a group of travelers outside the valley. They appeared in a rather tragic state, and they even sported innumerable injuries on their bodies. When I saw them, I was immediately spellbound by their leader. As my fascination for the man burgeoned, I brought them back to the valley, thinking that the thick spiritual energy within the valley would be helpful to their recovery and recuperation. Then…”
“You silly brat! How can you let outsiders into the valley like that? Even if they don’t harbour any ill intentions towards you, what are you going to do if they begin to covet the resources and treasures within the valley? Do you think you can defeat a whole group of people?!” Xiang Guqing barked in exasperation. She could practically see a reflection of her younger self in Zhang Shuyue. Back then, she had been equally as daft and innocent, and she had similarly fallen for a man and ended up being used by him, “Then, what happened? Are they threatening you to give the valley to them?”
Zhang Shuyue shook her head. With puffy eyes, she continued, “No, they’re thinking of leaving this place.”
“Leaving the valley? That’s a good thing, isn’t it? What’s there to cry about?” Xiang Guqing couldn’t understand why Zhang Shuyue was dismayed right now.
“But…but I really want to be with him. I didn’t know that he had only agreed to enter the valley because he wanted to stimulate the recovery rate of the lady he liked. And now that his Little Martial Sister had recovered, he’s already thinking of leaving. Then last night, while I was unaware, the two of them even spent the entire night together. When I questioned them on what they were doing, that lady even began to flaunt her ‘achievements’ in front of me, wu-wu-wuu…”
It can be said that Zhang Shuyue had completely twisted the facts by her description of the events. She had carefully omitted the fact it was Ye Xiuwen who had rescued her to begin with, and that she had brought Ye Xiuwen back to the valley as guests in order to repay her debt of gratitude to him. Furthermore, she had intentionally glossed over the fact that Ye Xiuwen had never communicated his affection to her so that her master would misunderstand the situation and think that Ye Xiuwen had manipulated her feelings. Finally, she had intentionally used the word “questioned” so that she would seem like the reasonable party in the entire sequence of events.
Anyone listening to her right now would undoubtedly get the impression that there was a messy love triangle to begin with, and the ensuing drama had ended with the sacrifice of Zhang Shuyue’s affection and feelings in favour of the other two. One could only imagine Xiang Guqing’s reaction when she heard this.
In fact, it was precisely because Xiang Guqing had previously been hurt by a man while she was young that she now made it a point not to accept any male disciples under her charge. Furthermore, she would time and again caution her disciples that men were no good creatures, warning them never to invest their own true feelings in vile men.
Unfortunately, a single trip out of the valley had left her favourite disciple being “led astray” by a man, leaving her languishing in the mires of her emotions – how could Xiang Guqing not be mad at this?
That said, most of her indignation was not directed at Zhang Shuyue. Rather, it was directed at the man who had deceived her disciple, as well as the third wheel involved in their relationship. Xiang Guqing knew that her disciple had just begun to venture out into the world, and it was rather foreseeable that she encountered a scumbag or two in her travels, and they ended up sweet talking her and taking advantage of her emotions. After all, it was in the exact same fashion that Xiang Guqing had herself been deceived as a result of her inability to discern between authenticity and pretensions.
Thus, Xiang Guqing didn’t blame Zhang Shuyue for not taking heed her cautions, and she placed all the blame on Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo despite not having heard their side of the story.
Zhang Shuyue was well aware that her master’s ire had been stirred, and her heart began to calm down slightly.
It had to be mentioned that Zhang Shuyue did not think that there was anything wrong with involving her master in all these affairs. After all, Jun Xiaomo had recovered under the effects of the thick spiritual energy within these valleys, and Jun Xiaomo should owe a debt of gratitude towards her to begin with. Yet all Jun Xiaomo had done ever since regaining her consciousness was to anger and infuriate her, and even steal the heart of her man!
Had she known this was going to happen in the first place, she would have let Jun Xiaomo perish in the wilderness altogether. That way, nobody would steal her Ye Xiuwen from her anymore.
“Master, what should we do now? I really like him, but he seems intent on leaving.” Zhang Shuyue whimpered. Her eyes were so puffy from all the crying that they almost looked like walnuts.
“Insolence! Is this all worth it for just a stinking, vile man?!” Xiang Guqing castigated her, “Tell me, what do you see in the man that makes you so willing to pursue him, even to the extent of defying your Master’s standing cautions and orders?”
“This…I don’t know either.” Zhang Shuyue continued to weep.
“Hmph. This man must have the gift of the gab. I imagine your heart must have fluttered after just a few phrases of cajoling on his part.” Xiang Guqing remarked coldly, “Then, what’s his name, and what sect is he from? Master will check on him.”
Xiang Guqing was no fool. Even though she was incensed by the fact that her disciple had been deceived, she would never make a move recklessly before investigating the background of the perpetrator. After all, it would be imprudent to get herself embroiled in a dispute she could not afford to.
At the same time, it was only at this point in time that Zhang Shuyue realized how she had not even bothered to ask Ye Xiuwen about his background or which sect he came from. She had been so entranced by his appearance and dignified disposition that she had pounced straight on him without much consideration.
Besides, none of her suitors so far could hold a candle to Ye Xiuwen.
After a period of long, inordinate silence, Xiang Guqing grew maddened once more, “Shuyue, don’t tell me you brought the group back to the valley without even checking on their background at all?”
“I…I only know his name is Ye Xiuwen, and his Little Martial Sister is called Jun Xiaomo. Apart from that…I’m not too sure.” Zhang Shuyue revealed a sheepish, flustered look.
Even though Xiang Guqing doted on her, it didn’t mean that she did not have a bottom line. Zhang Shuyue’s mistake was simply far too severe this time – she had recklessly brought the group back into the valley without even checking on their identities.
“Hmph! Master knew that this was going to happen! When will you grow up?! You’re such a useless disciple!” This was the first time Xiang Guqing had been so thoroughly disappointed by Zhang Shuyue, “I’ll deal with you when I’m back!”
Zhang Shuyue lowered her head pitifully.
This was Xiang Guqing’s favourite disciple after all. When she saw Zhang Shuyue looking down in dismay, and when she considered how Zhang Shuyue had just sustained an emotional trauma, Xiang Guqing could no longer bring herself to continue berating her dear disciple. Thus, she turned to the names Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo and pondered about them. Their names sounded familiar, and she seemed to have heard it somewhere before…
“It’s them?!” Xiang Guqing’s eyes widened instantly.
Zhang Shuyue immediately lifted her head and asked, “Master, you know them?”
“Ah, I don’t think you can say I know them personally. That said, their names are quite widely known within the spiritual cultivation world. In particular, the Heavenly Peak that they come from is incredibly notorious.” Xiang Guqing chuckled contemptuously as a bright gleam flickered across the depths of her eyes.
“Notorious?” Zhang Shuyue’s heart constricted slightly – Could there be more than meets the eye?
“Disciple, you rarely step out of the valley, and it’s natural that you don’t know about these things. These two martial siblings have made quite the name for themselves. Quite apart from the fact that they had feigned their deaths for over ten years, they immediately made ripples in the spiritual cultivation world as soon as they reemerged from where they were hiding. They’d wreaked havoc within their own Sect, and now everyone from the Sect that they were originally from is looking to kill them.”
“Wreaked havoc? Why would they want to harm the people from their own Sect? Is this not an act of ingratitude?” Zhang Shuyue chimed with some measure of righteous indignation.
“They used to be disciples from the Dawn Sect, under the helm of their Heavenly Peak. Have you heard of the Heavenly Peak? Not long ago, news about them was spreading like wildfire across the entire spiritual cultivation world, saying that someone among their midst had turned to demonic cultivation. Then, in order to protect the single disciple that had turned to demonic cultivation, the Peakmaster of the Heavenly Peak turned against the rest of the cultivation world and ended up being persecuted by them all. Right now, nobody knows where they’re hiding. I’d never expected that the responsibility of dealing with these two ill-reputed disciples would one day get foisted on me just like that!” Xiang Guqing coldly exclaimed.
Zhang Shuyue’s gaze darkened for a moment, before she feigned an expression of fear and dread as she asked Xiang Guqing anxiously, “Then, Master, what do we do? They must be widely persecuted by everyone in the spiritual cultivation world now, right? Is it really alright for us to have allowed them to reside in our valley? I’m so stupid! If I’d known this earlier, I would never have allowed them entry into the valley…”
“Now, do you finally see the gravity of what you’ve gotten yourself into? You should’ve listened to me right from the start!” It just dawned on Xiang Guqing again that her disciple was still fond of Ye Xiuwen, and she couldn’t help but glare indignantly at Zhang Shuyue.
Hmph. A cultivator that is widely persecuted by the rest of the spiritual cultivation world actually dares to tarnish my disciple’s name?! He must be tired of living!
Xiang Guqing thought about it for a little bit more, before addressing Zhang Shuyue once more, “Don’t worry for now. Find a way to keep them at the valley. Master will rally the troops and head back right now. We’ll make sure that these people get their just desserts!”
“Master, you’re thinking of…” Zhang Shuyue asked with a whispering voice.
“Hmph. They’re probably still unaware that the rest of the spiritual cultivation world have already placed a bounty on their heads. As long as Master tells the right people that we’ve located the people that they’re looking for, we will most certainly gain the attention of the interested parties. At that time, we’ll catch for ourselves a turtle in a jar.” Xiang Guqing’s eyes glistened as she explicated coldly. Then, she glanced back at Zhang Shuyue, “Disciple, all I ask is that you won’t harbour any lingering feelings for that man when crunch time comes. It’s not worth it for just a vile, dirty man.”
“I’ll heed Master’s instructions this time.” Zhang Shuyue immediately bowed obsequiously as she exclaimed in her heart – So, that’s how it is. To think that they were in the midst of escaping for their lives…
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