Chapter 268: Temporal Alignment of Interests

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Without thinking too much about why Ye Xiuwen had suddenly turned around, the lady in black made her way to Qin Shanshan’s corpse once more. As soon as she drew close, she raised her hand and flicked a finger, and a white-hot spark appeared to fly straight onto Qin Shanshan’s body, where it erupted into a huge fire that consumed Qin Shanshan’s corpse in the blink of an eye.

The ground was left with nothing more than ash that was shaped in the figure of a person’s silhouette. A gentle wind swept past, and the final traces of Qin Shanshan’s existence was swept away with the wind just like that.

Finally, the lady in black walked to where Qin Shanshan had been lying and picked up the Interspatial Ring that was lying on the ground. After Qin Shanshan’s death, this Interspatial Ring had once again become an artefact without a master.

Truth be told, the lady in black was hardly interested in the contents of the Interspatial Ring to begin with. However, since her intention was to assume Qin Shanshan’s identity, it was in her best interests to pay attention to the little details so that her cover would not be blown as easily. Thus, she considered things such as Qin Shanshan’s clothes, accessories, weapon of choice, and other similar details. This was one of the reasons why the lady in black had picked up the Interspatial Ring and stashed it in her own Interspatial Ring.

She did not intend to wear Qin Shanshan’s Interspatial Ring to begin with. After all, she had her own means of making her own Interspatial Ring appear like Qin Shanshan’s Interspatial Ring.

After addressing her mind to these little details, the lady in black finally retrieved the Masquerade Talisman from her Interspatial Ring and slapped it on the back of her arm. Within moments, her entire being transformed, and she became an exact replica of Qin Shanshan.

“Hey, do you intend to keep looking at me through the back of your head?” The lady in black noticed how Ye Xiuwen was still looking away from her, and she couldn’t help but quip spitefully.

After all, this man did not even bother turning his head around earlier when she had been “changing her clothes”. Why would this man be looking away with disinterest right now? What was he trying to do?

At this point in time, Ye Xiuwen was the only person who knew that “Qin Shanshan” was not really Qin Shanshan. As a result of this shared secret between then, the lady in black began to treat Ye Xiuwen more casually, with diminishing vigilance and distance between them.

Ye Xiuwen turned around and noticed that another “Qin Shanshan” had appeared before him, and he was slightly taken aback.

It was only at this moment that he realized the extent of disguise “Qin Shanshan” had adorned. Not only was her appearance exactly the same as Qin Shanshan’s appearance, even her cultivation level and aura emanating from her body completely matched Qin Shanshan’s in those regard. If Qin Shanshan were still alive and stood motionless beside the imposter Qin Shanshan, no one would be able to tell which was real and which was an imposter.

This gave Ye Xiuwen a renewed assessment of the lady’s abilities with talismans. At the very least, he had never heard of a talisman that could change a person’s appearance, disguise their cultivation level and alter their aura and disposition all at once.

Could this lady be a talisman master?

Before Ye Xiuwen could answer his own question, he saw the lady turn around and curl her lips into a mischievous smile as she queried provocatively, “How about that? This lady’s proficiency with the talisman isn’t too shabby, is it?”

Ye Xiuwen: …… He failed to notice the intended humour in the lady’s voice, and he concluded that this lady was simply being narcissistic.

He ignored the lady’s self-praise, turned around and began to walk back to where he came from.

He had left the Dawn Sect disciples for far too long. If they woke up and discovered something amiss, it would most certainly arouse their suspicions.

The lady shrugged her shoulders with disinterest and pouted. Then, she skipped along and minced her way towards Ye Xiuwen, asking, “Hey, could I ask you something? Is Jun Ziwen your real name?”

Ye Xiuwen paused in his steps, turned around and looked sullenly at the lady who had just caught up to him. Then, he responded with yet another question, “Why are you suddenly asking me this?”

“You could say that I’m curious?” The lady looked at Ye Xiuwen and blinked her eyes curiously.

Ye Xiuwen was slightly taken aback. He had never expected the lady’s personality to be so…bubbly. This was a completely different side to the unapproachable disposition that the lady had exuded just moments ago.

Perhaps the icy, frigid front was just a means of self-preservation, and her present attitude was closer to her actual character and personality. Ye Xiuwen thought to himself.

As he took in the familiar spirited gaze and bubbly personality, Ye Xiuwen’s eyes grew sullen once again.

“Then, what about you? What’s your name?” Ye Xiuwen asked suddenly, and he gazed straight into the depths of the lady’s eyes.

The lady was slightly taken aback by Ye Xiuwen’s penetrative gaze, and she broke eye contact with him and bit down on her lower lip nervously. After deliberating for a short moment, she glanced at Ye Xiuwen again as she responded, “I can’t tell you my real name just yet. But you may call me Xiaotong for now.”

Ye Xiuwen: “…Xiaotong?”

“That’s right, Xiaotong.” The lady nodded her head. The main reason for this was that her master’s surname was “Tong”, so she had thought to borrow her master’s surname for the time being. Forgive her for her insolence – it was difficult for her to come up with a conventional name on such short notice.

Ye Xiuwen glanced once more at the lady, before growing taciturn and forging forward once again.

What kind of name is that? Xiaotong? It sounds almost like an attendant at an inn…

“Hey, don’t go yet! You haven’t told me whether your real name is ‘Jun Ziwen’!” The lady yelled out in frustration behind Ye Xiuwen.

Ye Xiuwen paused in his steps, before turning around once more, “If you think it’s real, then it’s real. If you don’t think so, then it isn’t.”

As he said that, he confidently and resolutely made his way forward again, leaving the lady rooted to the ground, completely flabbergasted. Moments later –

What difference does his answer make? It’s as though he’s not answered my question at all! The lady huffed in frustration as she glared at Ye Xiuwen for a while, before finally running after him once more.

The Dawn Sect disciples were all still deep in their slumber, and they were completely unaware that Qin Shanshan and Ye Xiuwen had already left their midst for a considerable amount of time. Thus, they were similarly unaware of the fact that the “Qin Shanshan” who had returned together with Ye Xiuwen once more was no longer the same Qin Shanshan that they knew.

As soon as the first light of day struck the earth, the Dawn Sect disciples began to rouse from their sleep once more. They felt that they had slept extremely well – better than they had on any other day in the wilderness prior to this. Thus, they all awakened from their slumber with renewed vigor and spirits, and the tension built up in their bodies over the last few days had dissipated substantially as well.

Naturally, they would never have guessed that their deep slumber was partially attributable to an imposter within their midst. At this point in time, the imposter had already completely blended herself into their midst, and she pretended yawn and stretch as she “woke up”.

Ye Xiuwen glanced placidly at the lady whose actions were incredibly calm and natural, before turning his gaze away.

This lady possesses a strong and tempered mind. To think that she could act so naturally and calmly in the midst of so many enemies.

In fact, he even suspected that this lady had taken a nap whilst waiting for all of the other Dawn Sect disciples to awaken from their slumber.

And it had to be said that Ye Xiuwen was spot on in this regard.

“Oh yes, brother Jun, we’ve rested for the entire day now; have you managed to come up with a method of leaving this dastardly place?” One of the Dawn Sect disciples minced his way over to Ye Xiuwen’s side as he asked expectantly.

The other Dawn Sect disciples couldn’t help but look towards Ye Xiuwen with gazes filled with hope. It could not be understated that these disciples hailed from a Secondary Sect that constantly ranked top three among all Secondary Sects. Thus, it was a rather disgraceful thing that these disciples had unanimously looked to a mere rogue cultivator for the solution to their predicament. However, these disciples could tell from the incidents over the last few days that the rogue cultivator travelling together with them was far stronger, more capable, and more composed than all of them combined.

Thus, in their desire to leave this seemingly haunted place far behind them, the disciples had unanimously decided to listen and comply with Ye Xiuwen’s suggestions. They had hoped to leave this place sooner rather than later.

Ye Xiuwen glanced discreetly at the culprit who had set them up to begin with, before calmly responding, “I haven’t thought of any good solutions yet.”

Everyone immediately sighed with resignation.

If even the formidable “brother Jun” was powerless to do anything to extricate them from their predicament, what could these cultivators in the Qi Mastery and Foundation Establishment stages of cultivation possibly do?

“Since we’ve got no feasible solution, let’s just keep on walking, then.” Having stretched herself, “Qin Shanshan” lazily swept a disinterested gaze across all of the Dawn Sect disciples as she interjected.

“Shut up. Martial sister Qin, don’t you think you’ve caused us enough trouble over the last few days already?” The appointed leader of the Dawn Sect disciple barked in anger. He had finally had enough of Qin Shanshan.

Over the last few days, “Qin Shanshan” would simply break into a fit of insanity from time to time. Quite apart from cutting and slashing and otherwise abusing herself, she would even retrieve several items that seem to have been stolen or seized from other fellow disciples of the Dawn Sect.

It had to be said that these disciples were not saints in their own rights. To them, the act of killing and seizing treasures was not in and of itself a thing to be despised. However, they had habitually seized objects only if they belonged to disciples of other Sects, not the treasures and artefacts of their own fellow martial brothers or sisters.

As Qin Shanshan poured out more and more stolen and seized artefacts from her Interspatial Ring, the other Dawn Sect disciples began to wonder just how many atrocities Qin Shanshan had committed in reliance on her brother’s support and backing.

In turn, this realization caused the Dawn Sect disciples’ assessment of Qin Shanshan’s personality and character to fall to rock bottom. By this point in time, none of them could be bothered to continue feigning civility with her any longer, and they let loose their retorts and refutations with reckless abandon. In fact, they sincerely hoped that Qin Shanshan would simply keep her flapping lips shut.

As to whether Qin Shanshan would complain about their conduct to her brother, Qin Lingyu, this was hardly a consideration to the Dawn Sect disciples for now. After all, they did not even know whether they would be able to leave their current vicinity to begin with.

Despite the Dawn Sect disciples’ refutations, “Qin Shanshan” did not erupt in fury and berate everyone around as she tossed the weight of her brother’s name around like she usually did. Rather, she simply glanced at the Dawn Sect disciples nonchalantly as she placidly quipped, “Since you think I’ve been a troublemaker, why not you tell us what solution you have for getting out of this place?”

“I…how would I know how we should get out of this place?!” The leader of the Dawn Sect disciples glared at “Qin Shanshan” as he retorted.

If he had known the solution to their problem, would there be any need for them to continue being trapped and vexed here for so many days on end?

“If you don’t even know the solution to our current problem, what’s the urgency in refuting me so anxiously? Yes, I do admit that I must’ve caused you a lot of trouble over the last few days, but there were no real losses, were there? Rather than waiting around like sitting ducks, wracking our minds for a possibly solution while hidden, unknown danger looms over our heads, why not give it another shot and try our luck?”

“If forging forward is really the solution, we would have left this place behind us a long time ago!” Another Dawn Sect disciple interjected with indignation. He obviously felt that “Qin Shanshan” was simply applying rhetoric here.

Besides, who was to say that Qin Shanshan’s behaviour over the last few days had not caused them any real losses? Over the last few days, they had plied Qin Shanshan with several expensive and invaluable medicinal pills of their own whenever her insanity manifested and she resorted to self-abuse. Their hearts ached whenever they thought about their losses over the last few days.

Despite that, “Qin Shanshan” completely ignored them. Instead, she simply gave Ye Xiuwen a knowing smile.

She could tell that the only person whose words still carried weight right now was the man she was looking at, Jun Ziwen. At the same time, she knew that he was aware of what was going on as well.

Thus, after receiving “Qin Shanshan’s” gaze, he remained silent for a little while longer, before putting the nail on the coffin of this discussion –

“Then, let’s follow down this path and give it another shot.”

The Dawn Sect disciples exchanged sheepish glances with each other once more. In the end, without much hope on their hearts, they reluctantly acceded to Ye Xiuwen’s suggestion and trotted down the path once more.

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