Chapter 277: A Strange Domain? Something’s Fishy!

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Jun Xiaomo had snapped out from her drunken stupor as a result of the combat and survival instincts developed over the years within the Proving Grounds. After all, there was not a single moment over the last three hundred and thirty years when her life was not in all types of danger, where a single slip up on her part could cause her to end up in the stomach of a spirit or demonic beast. Thus, it was absolutely paramount that she remained vigilant at all times.

In this regard, she would constantly leave a thread of her spirit keeping watch on the outside even when she was asleep or meditating, just so that she could be ready at the moment’s notice.

Last night’s intoxication was something that was completely outside of her expectations. In fact, even Jun Xiaomo was unaware that the sense of familiarity emanating from Jun Ziwen’s body made her subconsciously let her guard down. As a result of that, Jun Xiaomo ended up being so thoroughly intoxicated in front of a man whom she hardly knew that there was not a single trace of awareness remaining within her.

But now that Ye Xiuwen had stood up and left the room, leaving Qin Lingyu remaining all alone with Jun Xiaomo, the earlier sense of familiarity and its corollary sense of security had also vanished entirely. In turn, Jun Xiaomo naturally put her guard back up subconsciously.

Qin Lingyu cast an investigative look on Jun Xiaomo’s body – particularly focusing on her eyes, which acted as though a lens to a person’s heart. For some strange reason, he found this lady seemingly foreign to him.

Was this truly his sister, Qin Shanshan?

Qin Shanshan’s eyes had always been filled with arrogance and restlessness, and this was in stark contrast to her present deep, abstruse gaze that was filled with a sense of stillness and tranquility. This was something that he had never seen in Qin Shanshan’s eyes before.

As Jun Xiaomo shrugged off the haziness of her vision accompanying her grogginess right now, focus began to return to her eyes, and the first thing she noticed was Qin Lingyu’s figure appearing right before her.

Qin Lingyu?! It’s him?!

Jun Xiaomo’s pupils constricted slightly, and the surging killing intent in her heart nearly seeped out from her body.

He Zhang had undoubtedly been involved in the Heavenly Peak’s present plight. As He Zhang’s First-Seat Disciple, Qin Lingyu naturally fell within the ambit of Jun Xiaomo’s revenge.

That said, now was not the time to make her move yet. If she killed Qin Lingyu here and now, it would most certainly alarm the entire Dawn Sect, and they would in turn increase their vigilance and security. That was something she could not afford right now.

Jun Xiaomo shut her eyes again as she deliberated about what she ought to do. Truth be told, Qin Lingyu’s return was something that was completely outside her expectations. If Qin Lingyu had not returned, it would have been an extremely easy task for her to infiltrate the Dawn Sect given Qin Shanshan’s relational advantage over others. The odds of revealing her identity as an imposter would have been rather low.

But now that Qin Lingyu was back, things were most certainly going to be a lot more difficult. After all, Qin Lingyu was Qin Shanshan’s biological brother to begin with. A single slip up on her part could very easily expose her identity as an imposter.

Qin Lingyu noticed how Qin Shanshan avoided his gaze silently, and he immediately squinted as he put Qin Shanshan under closer scrutiny.

“Shanshan, why do you have such a cold and indifferent expression on your face? You’ve not seen your brother for such a long time. Don’t you miss your brother at all?” Qin Lingyu smiled faintly as he interrogated “Qin Shanshan”. At the same time, he maintained his deep, intense gaze transfixed on the top of “Qin Shanshan’s” head as he scrutinized her every response.

Jun Xiaomo grimaced, and a sullen look flickered across the depths of her eyes.

Even though she was not unfamiliar with both Qin Shanshan and Qin Lingyu as individuals, she had never noticed in detail their interactions with each other. If she did something or reacted in a manner that was uncharacteristic of Qin Shanshan in her interactions with Qin Lingyu, it would most certainly arouse Qin Lingyu’s suspicions.

Just what should I do?

Qin Lingyu noticed that “Qin Shanshan” had remained unresponsive, keeping her head down in complete silence. Thus, his heart began to spin with thoughts of suspicions.

Something’s wrong. Something must have happened to my sister!

That said, Qin Lingyu had not considered the possibility that Qin Shanshan had already been murdered by someone, and the person seated in front of him was no more than an imposter.

Rather, the only thing that had crossed his mind at this point in time was that something must have happened to his sister, resulting in the significant change to her personality and behaviour.

“Shanshan, look up at me. Tell your brother what you’ve encountered on these travels which had resulted in such immense changes to your personality.”

Qin Lingyu presented himself with a concerned and caring expression on his face.

With that, Jun Xiaomo’s heart began to feel much more at ease. After all, it did not seem like Qin Lingyu was suspicious about her identity. Rather, he appeared to be more concerned about what had caused the change in her personality and behaviour.

That makes things much easier. I just need to play along.

Jun Xiaomo steadied her heart once more as she lifted her head and gave Qin Lingyu a timid look. Then she shook her head as she muttered in a soft voice, “Nothing much. We didn’t encounter anything much…”

Qin Lingyu furrowed his brows. “Qin Shanshan’s” response was incredibly strange and peculiar.

Didn’t she appear sharp and incisive as an unsheathed sword earlier? Why has she become as timid and withdrawn as a rabbit now? Isn’t this an incredibly stark change in her personality?

Besides, neither of the two dispositions shown by “Qin Shanshan” were characteristic of her original persona.

That said, Jun Xiaomo’s display of hesitance did cause some of the suspicions weighing on Qin Lingyu’s heart to dissipate. Instead, he began to believe that Qin Shanshan had encountered something peculiar in her travels which had resulted in such a massive change to her personality and behaviour.

What was most important to Qin Lingyu right now was to figure out just what exactly had happened, and whether these incidents would affect his plans for the future.

When all was said and done, what Qin Lingyu was most concerned about was not his sister’s condition – it was still the pursuit of his own ambitions and his potential gains.

Jun Xiaomo could clearly see the cold, frigid gaze in Qin Lingyu’s eyes, and she couldn’t help but chuckle sardonically in her heart – This man must have fed his heart to the dogs. He doesn’t even have a single trace of concern for his own little sister!

Jun Xiaomo knew that if Qin Lingyu remained here in the room, she would only continue to feel more and more discomfort in her heart. Thus, she lowered her head and clutched tightly at the sleeves of her clothes as she muttered, “Brother…I’m feeling quite tired. Could you leave me be for now? I’d like to rest for a while.”

It had to be said that Jun Xiaomo had taken the words right out of Qin Lingyu’s mouth. Having ascertained that Qin Shanshan’s life was not in any danger or crisis, he wanted to know more than anything just what Qin Shanshan had experienced during these travels. This was not something that he could unravel by simply guessing and making conjectures. His best bet was to ask the eye-witnesses, or in other words, the Dawn Sect disciples who had travelled together with Qin Shanshan.

“Then, alright. Brother shan’t disturb you anymore. We can continue where we left off later when you’re feeling better.” Qin Lingyu patted Jun Xiaomo’s shoulder. Then, before Jun Xiaomo could respond, he hurriedly left the room.

Jun Xiaomo watched with a cold gaze in her eyes as Qin Lingyu left the room. As soon as he shut the door to her room, she immediately dusted her shoulder where Qin Lingyu had earlier touched in disgust. It was as though she were patting away something dirty.

After leaving Jun Xiaomo’s room, Qin Lingyu located the rest of the Dawn Sect disciples in the dining hall of the inn. He swept his gaze across all of their bodies and noticed that their expressions were generally dark and somber.

On the other hand, the Dawn Sect disciples had initially thought that things would be much better with Qin Shanshan’s return, and all of them had already heaved a sigh of relief. But now that they noticed Qin Lingyu approaching them with a darkened, almost-fiendish expression on his face, their hearts couldn’t help but start to wrangle and constrict in fear once more – Did something happen? Otherwise, why would Qin Lingyu present himself with such a fearsome expression?

As Qin Lingyu drew closer, the listless Dawn Sect disciples immediately began to cower as though they had done something wrong. They looked nervously towards the ground, and they would from time to time cast an anxious look at Qin Lingyu.

“Speak. Did something peculiar occur during these travels?”

Qin Lingyu spoke with an incisive tone of voice, and his gaze was imposing and oppressive.

“That…that…something peculiar?” The leader of the Dawn Sect disciples was forced by the discreet looks of the other disciples to stand up and give an account on their behalf. After collecting his scattered, panicking heart, he began to stammer once more, “That…there was something peculiar that had happened. More accurately, it was almost ghastly.”

Everyone lowered their heads and revealed a bitter expression on their faces. They were almost certain that she must have complained about the incident to Qin Lingyu, causing him to appear before them with such indignation. Having thought that the jig was up, they knew that there was no point concealing the fact any further.

Thus, the leader of the Dawn Sect disciples began to recount the story about how they were trapped in a part of the wilderness that they couldn’t seem to get out of, no matter what they did. Then, they informed Qin Lingyu of how Qin Shanshan had thrown a tantrum and left the group, before going insane with self-abusive tendencies moments later.

Qin Lingyu’s eyebrows were tightly knit, and they continued to crease and furrow more as the disciple continued to recount the incident. Then, at the end, Qin Lingyu slammed the table in rage and bellowed, “And you all thought to let her leave the group just like that, huh?! What did you promise me before leaving the Sect? Is this how you look after my sister?!”

The Dawn Sect disciples instantly shrunk back in fear as soon as Qin Lingyu exploded in rage. None of them dared to speak a single word. From what they could see of Qin Lingyu’s expressions, they firmly believed that the first person to break the silence right now would most certainly face the fullest manifestation of Qin Lingyu’s wrath and rage.

Qin Lingyu stood up from the table and began to pace around anxiously.

The part of the wilderness that the Dawn Sect disciples had talked about was an area that he had been through before. In fact, it was a locality that every expedition would have to pass through in order to get to the Mystic Woods. Compared to the Mystic Woods, that locality was incredibly safe, and there was no logical reason for the peculiar circumstances to have come up to begin with.

But the impossible and the unexpected had all occurred. What did this mean? This meant that there was something fishy about all of this!

At this moment, Qin Lingyu felt like a lump has swelled up and lodged itself in his throat, and there was simply no place he could ventilate his frustrations. Truth be told, he sincerely wished to throw all of these Dawn Sect disciples into the pill-refining cauldron to freshen their minds. After all, with circumstances as fishy and peculiar as that, how could all of these buffoons not put two and two together and take the initiative to seek out the true cause for the peculiarity? Why did these useless disciples have to rely on an outsider to break them free of their predicament? This was completely shameful!

Furthermore, from the disciples’ recount of the incident, they seemed to be completely oblivious to how they had managed to break free of their predicament and leave the peculiar part of the wilderness. It was almost as though they had broken through by a pure stroke of luck! In other words, they might well have perished in that locality had their luck been any worse!

Qin Lingyu’s mind was in a mess right now. He sincerely believed that Qin Shanshan’s Origin Locket must have something to do with the incident in the wilderness.

However, he knew that mere guessing would completely be in vain. He would still be none the wiser as to why Qin Shanshan’s Origin Locket would crack and lose its luster. He would similarly be none the wiser as to what exactly went on in the wilderness when the incident occurred.

Just what was it that made Shanshan go mad in the wilderness? Just what is it that caused Shanshan’s behaviour to undergo such a massive change?

Then, Qin Lingyu’s foot paused for a moment, and a possibility struck him.

Formation array! It must have been a formation array!

Only a formation array could have caused such a wide area influence over an entire group of different people like that!

Qin Lingyu had not delved too much into the discipline of formation arrays in the past. However, after witnessing what Jun Xiaomo could do with formation arrays during the Secondary Inter-Sect Competition, he began to learn more about it of his own volition, and it was there that he began to realize just how formidable and fearsome formation arrays can be.

With the aid of formation arrays, an array master in the Qi Mastery stage of cultivation could possess destructive abilities that were potentially even greater than an average cultivator at the secondary-tier Foundation Establishment stage of cultivation. They were undoubtedly a fearsome existence.

That said, not everyone possessed the aptitude for mastering the discipline of formation arrays. This had to do largely with a person’s willpower and personality. After all, the process of mastering formation arrays was incredibly dry and arduous. Qin Lingyu had personally attempted to delve into the discipline himself, but he barely scratched the surface.

The more he considered the possibility of formation arrays, the more firmly he believed that it was the cause of it all. After all, everything that had occurred could be explained using formation arrays.

Then, as he turned his considerations towards the outsider, Jun Ziwen.

Jun Ziwen was indubitably the prime suspect in all these things. Otherwise, how could anyone explain how he had remained completely calm and unfazed amidst the chaos in the wilderness? Furthermore, he had been the one who had successfully led the entire entourage out of the entire place.

Hah! Jun Ziwen must have been both the director and an actor of this performance in the wilderness, wasn’t he? Qin Lingyu chuckled coldly in his heart as she glanced up at the stairs towards the rooms. Coincidentally, Ye Xiuwen happened to be walking down the stairs at that very moment.

Qin Lingyu squinted at Ye Xiuwen, and the depths of his eyes were filled with hostility and suspicion.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter