Chapter 270: The Mutually Loathing Duo

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Frightened by the works of the imposter Qin Shanshan, the disciples couldn’t help but think that this was the end of their road for them. Just then, the surroundings shifted once more, and the fog vanished quickly before their eyes. As it vanished, the sight that entered their eyes was an idyllic scenery filled with towering mountains with sprawling trees, verdant grass and flowing waters, and sheep lackadaisically grazing on the grass. It was as though this place had been completely untouched by time.

The tense and unnerved disciples paused in their steps in shock, and their eyes widened. They looked around vacantly at the surroundings in complete disbelief.

Moments later, as their spirits returned and they recomposed themselves, they realized that all of their martial brothers around them were accounted for, and not a single person missing.

Even Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan” who were well behind where they were had caught up to them with a steady gait in their steps. In contrast with the disciples whose tears and mucus were strewn all over their face, replete with disheveled hair and ruffled clothing, Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan” appeared to be eye-catchingly impeccable in their steadfastness.

However, the Dawn Sect disciples could hardly be bothered with how the two had managed to keep their cool all this while. Their minds were simply filled with an intense rush from the realization that they had overcome the calamity; and this realization superseded any other thoughts in their minds right now.

“Look over there! I think I see some traces of a settlement there!” After he finally caught his breath, the leader of the Dawn Sect disciples looked up and immediately pointed into the distance as soon as he noticed smoke rising into the sky.

Everyone immediately looked in the direction which he was pointing – he was right! The wisps of chimney smoke were a clear sign that there was human habitation in the near distance!

Even though their legs were weary and worn out from all the running, the notion that they were soon arriving at human habitation reinvigorated them and renewed their spirits once more. Thus, the Dawn Sect disciples clambered to their feet, and they continued to hobble and stumble on as they forged forward.

After a little while, the disciples saw a row of buildings within a village.

In other words, they had finally left behind them the ghastly vicinity that had trapped them for close to half a month. That said, they were still completely baffled by how they had managed to do it.

Thud. The leader of the Dawn Sect disciples could no longer take it anymore. His knees buckled and his legs gave way, and he instantly fell onto the ground. The moment of crisis had passed, and they were temporarily at a safe haven. Thus, his tense, anxious heartstrings finally loosened once more, and he could no longer muster any strength to run forward anymore.

Just like a contagion or a trigger of sorts, the disciples behind him all collapsed to the ground in an instant.

For the next few moments, everyone grew taciturn and reveled themselves in the joy overcoming the earlier crisis as reality finally sank in.

“We…we’ve finally…come…come out?” After what must have a been a rather long time, one of the Dawn Sect disciples finally broke the silence.

He was still panting and catching his breath, so his statement sounded almost disjointed.

“We’re out…” Another Dawn Sect disciple exclaimed in both shock and astonishment – he couldn’t suppress the roiling emotions in his heart.

Then, they turned around and looked behind them, and they noticed that there was only a hill covered with lush, verdant grass, as well as flowing waters by the side. It was like a piece of art that was untouched by time – where was the thick, rolling fog and the vicious spirit beast that had been chasing them just moments ago?

This…what’s going on over here? Their limited experience with the outside world meant that they were unable to explain their peculiar experience at all.

“Qin Shanshan” smiled discreetly, and a delighted look gleamed in her eyes.

She had earlier set up a massive formation array in the wilderness where they had passed through. Yet with their limited knowledge of formation arrays, none of the Dawn Sect disciples were even aware that they had just been tripped up by a formation array – they were all still clinging tightly to the notion that they had just been haunted and pursued by a spirit or a soul of sorts.

On the other hand, Ye Xiuwen did guess that the fog and the spirit beast was nothing more than the result of a formation array. That said, he did not have a deep and profound understanding of formation arrays, and he did not have any ways of unlocking or breaking the entrapment of the formation array. Thus, he had earlier simply waited for the owner of the formation array to appear before him once more just to see what exactly the culprit was seeking to achieve.

Ye Xiuwen cast a meaningful look at “Qin Shanshan”, and a set of complicated emotions filled the depths of his eyes.

His only hope was that this lady of unknown origins did not have ill intentions towards the Heavenly Peak. Otherwise, her aptitude with her formation arrays and talismans would most certainly act as a serious impediment to his rescue plans.

Sensing Ye Xiuwen’s gaze on her, “Qin Shanshan” turned around and looked straight back at Ye Xiuwen. She raised her eyebrows in a challenging manner, and the gaze in her eyes looked as though she were asking – What do you want?

Ye Xiuwen turned his gaze away silently. The lady behaved far too similarly to his little martial sister, and there were times when her actions would cause him to develop some unrealistic expectations, hoping that the lady would be none other than Jun Xiaomo.

Unfortunately, his rationality told him that this was nigh impossible. No matter how high her talent for cultivation was, there was simply no way that his little martial sister would have improved by such leaps and bounds within the short span of only twelve years.

Thus, he chose to forcibly repress the sour feelings of frustrations and despair in his heart, and consciously elected not to listen, see nor think about these things. This was the only way he could stay afloat and not sink into the depths of the mires of despondence.

“Qin Shanshan” snorted softly as she rolled her eyes at him behind his back. She had initially assessed his personality to be pretty decent, only to find out that this man was nothing more than a bitter gourd bogged down with the contemplations of his heart.

She found these people the most tiresome ones to deal with. After all, she could never understand what they were thinking about. Even if they did not mean any ill will or harm to others, their downcast attitude might give rise to misunderstandings from those around them.

That said, what “Qin Shanshan” was completely unaware about was the fact that she was similarly cold, distant, and difficult to get along with in the eyes of others as well. In fact, her casual and carefree attitude was only revealed to those with whom she was closest and most familiar.

After the series of peculiar incidents, the Dawn Sect disciples seemed to have come to a unanimous, tacit agreement that they would do their utmost and make haste back to the Sect.

Even though their recent experiences had built up a mountain of tension and anxiety in their hearts, and there was a lingering temptation to spend several days resting and relaxing in the village, the encounter with the fog had etched itself far too deeply in their bones. Whenever midnight struck, they would invariably dream of a faceless monster chasing after them, and they would always wake up startled, with large beads of sweat rolling off their foreheads.

Thus, they no longer entertained any thoughts of relaxing or sight-seeing, and their minds were completely fixated on how they could return to the Sect in the shortest possible time so that they could truly feel at ease and safe within the confines of the Sect’s grounds.

On the other hand, “Qin Shanshan” thoroughly enjoyed how the looks on the faces of these disciples darkened day after day with ever-increasing anxiety and tension. All she lacked right now was a box of popcorn and a lounging chair to watch the show.

That said, Ye Xiuwen could hardly understand “Qin Shanshan’s” mischievous thoughts, and he continued to turn a blind eye to her actions.

Just like that, the entire entourage made haste for another half a month before they finally arrived at a little town at the foot of the mountain where the Dawn Sect was located. From there, it would take them approximately two or three more days before they would finally be back at the Dawn Sect.

The knowledge that they would be arriving back in the Dawn Sect in the next few days thoroughly loosened the tense and anxious hearts of the Dawn Sect disciples. The town comprised largely of mortals, and there were occasionally a few cultivators who would pass through quickly en route to their own destinations. That said, there was no reason for these cultivators to hurt them, especially when they were so close to the Dawn Sect’s grounds.

Thus, the Dawn Sect disciples finally felt relaxed enough to let loose and have some fun. Sight-seeing was out of the question to them. After all, the town was not far away from the Dawn Sect, and the disciples had already been here innumerable times and seen all the sights there was to see. Thus, the only remaining place where they could make merry was the mortal world’s land of vices.

While the Dawn Sect disciples were all prideful people, these disciples in the entourage were at the same time young, impassioned creatures filled with raging hormones, and they experienced the very same carnal desires that mortal men do as well. Furthermore, the female disciples within the Sect were invariably entities who were placed on a pedestal which they could only look on and admire from afar, and not physically touch and play with. After all, each of these female cultivators were equally prideful beings. Unless they possessed sufficiently strong abilities and talent for cultivation, these male disciples could never stand out among their competition and win the hearts of these coveted existences. Thus, the disciples whose abilities and talents were no more than average had no choice but to resolve their own little “pent up issues” through other ways and means.

Of all the male disciples among them right now, apart from Ye Xiuwen, each and every one of these disciples could be considered tainted, vulgar beings who had tasted and experienced the forbidden fruit in exotic locations. Whenever these disciples called upon similar places, even in this little town that was so close to home, their hearts would flutter, and their passions would roil ever so strongly.

In fact, the Dawn Sect’s Sect Elders and Peakmasters were well aware of these Dawn Sect disciples’ escapades. However, they consciously chose to turn a blind eye to these acts of theirs.

Thus, as soon as night fell over these lands, the Dawn Sect disciples began to gather in small groups as they made their way towards their chosen place of release, and the only people who were left in the inn that they had put up in were the unromantic Ye Xiuwen, and the lady wearing the guise of Qin Shanshan whom Ye Xiuwen was completely uninterested in.

Logically speaking, now that all of the Dawn Sect disciples had left to settle their own businesses, Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan” would essentially have been given free rein to sit down in the open to discuss their plans after infiltrating the Dawn Sect. However, as reality would have it, Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan” each occupied one table on opposite ends of the inn’s dining hall, as though they were separated by a rift that was ten thousand miles apart; as far as the east was from the west. If anyone entered the dining hall right now, they would never have guessed that these two people knew each other.

That said, nobody could blame Ye Xiuwen or “Qin Shanshan” for behaving like this. After all, even if they knew each other, they could not be described as anything more than acquaintances. While they were on the journey back to the Dawn Sect, “Qin Shanshan” had been completely focused on enjoying the show that she had orchestrated, while Ye Xiuwen was completely disinterested with the pranks that she was playing. As a result, both parties hardly interacted with each other at all. Thus, despite having travelled together for a reasonable period of time, their relationship with each other was hardly any better than the day that they had first encountered each other.

Most importantly, “Qin Shanshan” was hardly used to Ye Xiuwen’s cold and expressionless face, replete with his somber and silent personality; while Ye Xiuwen could hardly understand why “Qin Shanshan” relentlessly pranked the Dawn Sect disciples despite allegedly being in a rush to get to the Dawn Sect. Therefore…

The rift between the mutually loathing duo was at an all time high. Both thought to mind their own business, and neither saw any reason for any interaction beyond what had to be done for their mutually aligned interests. This would help to reduce the awkwardness at the table when they were eating as well.

This happened to be an off-season for the inn, and human traffic was at an all-time low. Most of the patrons would promptly leave the dining hall after finishing their food. In no time, the only people remaining in the dining hall were Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan”.

As the innkeeper accounted for the profits for the day, he stole glances at Ye Xiuwen and “Qin Shanshan” as he exclaimed to himself – These two people are really strange. I’d clearly seen them arriving together with an entire group of people earlier today. However, they’re clearly seated as far away from each other as they possibly could right now. Could it be that they’ve had a lovers’ tiff or the like?

Ye Xiuwen did not have any delectable delights before him right now. There were only a few small dishes of food on his table that paired well with wine. At the same time, there were also a few empty jade bottles set on the table near his food while his cup was half-filled with wine. He gazed sullenly out of the window beside him, into the distant night sky. Nobody knew what was on his mind.

The wine beside him was not from the inn; it was something that Ye Xiuwen had retrieved from his own Interspatial Ring. His master within the Death’s Gorge was also a wine connoisseur of sorts, and he had always kept with him a healthy stash of aromatic, delicious wine that he brewed himself. As a result of his master’s influence, Ye Xiuwen had over the years developed a habit of drinking wine as well. That said, his drink of choice was still tea, and wine was something that he would only occasionally partake of when the urge sets in and the mood was right.

“Qin Shanshan” had initially thought to ignore Ye Xiuwen and return to her room after she was done with her meal. However, for some strange reason, she found herself rooted to her seat when she looked at Ye Xiuwen sitting alone.

As the diners in the inn began to depart and the moon crept up higher in the sky, the desire to stay became particularly strong when the fragrance of the wine set in front of Ye Xiuwen wafted over to where she was…

Finally, she could no longer resist the urge, and she began to walk over to where Ye Xiuwen’s table was –

She had her eye on his wine!

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