Chapter 2344: Mutual Wariness

The rosiness on Han Shuang’s cheeks instantly vanished. A certain heaviness and vigilance set in instead. Her phoenix-shaped eyes narrowed to slits as she stared at the young man, trying to see right through him.

But no matter how incisive her glare, he remained entirely unruffled,  his ironclad willpower immune to such intimidation tactics.

After a long moment, a drawn-out sigh finally escaped her lips.

“Elder Zhen Junior, are you genuinely willing to lay down your cards on the table? Tell me, why did you and your uncle join our sect? Don’t bore me with the same old excuses. We both know it’s a lie.”

After many twists and turns, they’d circled back to their previous conversation.  

Jiang Chen sighed quietly. “Sectmistress Han, you left two nights ago for the lake’s forbidden grounds. That’s outside our jurisdiction. Would you care to explain?”

She replied with a frosty expression, “Did you tail me?”

That was quite unexpected. She’d indeed left in secret, but she’d made sure no one had been shadowed her. She’d always been confident in her ability to cover her tracks.

To think the young man had eluded her vigilance! Sudden doubts clouded her mind. An unprecedented hostility even arose from the depth of her heart.

But she quickly brushed it off. She was no stranger to silencing people by force, but she couldn’t find it in herself to lift a hand against him.

Furthermore, she wasn’t confident about her chances. Not when he’d shown he could follow her unseen.

Jiang Chen sensed the minute changes in her attitude. He’d thought they’d erupt in open hostility when he’d felt her murderous intent, but the bloodlust was gone as soon as it’d appeared.

“Tempted to shut me up for good?” He smiled, seeming unconcerned.

An astonished Han Shuang looked at him, a chill running down her back. Was he reading her like an open book? Did he have some sort of mind-reading ability?

“Heh, I know you’re not that heinous.” Jiang Chen smiled again. “Please believe me, I bear you no ill will.”

“Are you sure? Then why did you follow me?” she grumbled.

All of a sudden, she felt out of her depth. The conversation was getting away from her. Her opponent might be young, but he was truly a perverse genius.

In Fiendstar, she could easily toy with Elders Xu and Ge, but Zhen Shi was another story altogether. She’d never been able to get a read on the nephew or his uncle, while they’d slowly gotten her measure.

Are they plotting the same thing as me? She was a little disquieted by this possibility, but she soon dismissed this emotion. She couldn’t abandon her goal, no matter how impossible the obstacles she had to surmount.

She sighed deeply. “I bear no animosity towards you or your uncle. Perhaps, as you’ve said, we truly need to lay everything out in the open.”

“Heh, let me tell you what I think.” Jiang Chen smiled calmly. “From what I’ve seen, your plan must be related to the Heavenly Crimson Lake. Am I wrong?”

“Let’s say you aren’t.” Han Shuang nodded.

“That’s more like it. My plan has nothing to do with the lake. Our goals aren’t incompatible, so there’s nothing preventing us from continuing our merry cooperation. Provided private operations don’t undermine the other’s plans, that is. What do you think?”

His stare made Han Shuang extremely uneasy, as if his eyes were roaming all over her exposed body. It made her skin crawl.

“What are you aiming for, if not the lake?” She probed, trying to land on her feet.

“Heh, in fact, we’ve already told you. We simply want to participate in the godking conference. You can drain all the water from the lake for all we care. But do consider. Snooping around the forbidden grounds might attract the godking’s attention. You won’t be the only one to suffer then. You’ll drag down the whole sect with you. You’re not particularly attached to Fiendstar, I know. It’s nothing but a stepping stone for you. We’re in the same boat in that regard, but as long as me and my uncle belong to the sect, we don’t want to be tainted by scandal.”

Jiang Chen laid down his terms in black and white. Her recklessness would implicate the sect sooner or later, and him by the same token.

Han Shuang stayed silent. She had to admit there was a certain logic to his argument.

But for her, the lake was the first, fundamental step on which her entire plan was built on. She couldn’t give up on it. She had to forge ahead, or all her efforts would be in vain.

With a soft sight, she said, “Elder Zhen, you do make sense. But the lake’s too crucial for me. I can’t give it up.”

“Is there no room for discussion?” Jiang Chen looked intently at her.

“None,” she replied categorically.

The young lord nodded in silence, considering his options for a moment before he offered, “Then how about letting me in on your plans? Perhaps we can figure a way out together?”

“Heh, do you think I’m that naive?” Han Shuan smiled coldly.

“You don’t trust me?” Jiang Chen grinned, unruffled. “I’ve never shown any hostility toward you, Sectmistress. You know this as well as I.”

“Perhaps not previously, but a man can change. Human intentions are hard to fathom, and a cultivator’s heart is always tainted. In the Taiyuan Plane, it would be irresponsible of me to trust a complete stranger!”Han Shuang stuck to her convictions.

Jiang Chen pursed his lips. “Isn’t that a vicious cycle? Are we supposed to live with our suspicions and keep getting in each other’s way?”

This issue also vexed Han Shuang, so she responded irritably, “I might believe you if you tell me why you want to participate in the conference. How can we keep each other’s secrets if we don’t even know them to begin with?”

That was one way to do it, but the young lord’s secret might scare the living daylights out of her.

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etvolare's Thoughts

What is she up to?