Chapter 338: Zhou Zilong’s Infatuation, Ye Xiuwen’s Exasperation

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Rong Ruihan made a beeline for the heart of the valley as soon as he learnt that Jun Xiaomo and the rest had already made their way there.

However, it was only when he began making his trek down the paths towards the heart of the valley that he discovered just how deep the valley stretched on for. To make matters worse, the paths leading into the heart of the valley were filled with turns and forks in the roads, and a single misstep could cause him to lose his bearings and get lost.

Rong Ruihan looked up, searching for a different way to keep his bearings. To his dismay, he discovered that he was surrounded by massive trees that seemed to extend into the sky indefinitely, obfuscating the sky with its massive expanse of foliage, blotting out any traces of the stars and the moons.

Without the moon anchoring his bearings, it was going to be much more difficult for him to navigate his way around the woods.

After pondering for a moment, Rong Ruihan retrieved a Fluorescent Globe from his Interspatial Ring. With the aid of its dim illumination of light, Rong Ruihan could finally see up to a distance of ten meters away from where he was.

Just then, he discovered a small and peculiar pattern on the bark of a tall tree nearby. He could tell at one glance that this pattern hardly looked like it was naturally formed; someone had obviously etched the pattern onto the bark of the tree.

Thus, he brought the Fluorescent Globe closer to the pattern to take a closer examination. To his pleasant surprise, he immediately recognized that the pattern as something that the Heavenly Peak disciples would habitually use for pathfinding. In fact, he had even seen the exact same pattern embroidered on one of Jun Xiaomo’s garments before.

As he made his way forward along the path, he began to find more and more of these patterns etched onto trees every now and then.

This must be the right direction!

Thus, with renewed vigor, Rong Ruihan lifted the Fluorescent Globe high into the air and continued to look out for these patterns etched on the bark of trees as he followed the winding paths deeper into the heart of the valley.

Meanwhile, as Rong Ruihan continued to make his way closer and closer into the heart of the valley, Jun Xiaomo was doing her best in breaching the defenses of the master formation array. With her eyes shut, Jun Xiaomo sent various threads of her own spiritual energy into the formation array, carefully filling out the grooves and recesses where the heart of the formation array had been etched.

Not only did she have to fill the grooves and recesses, she also had to use her spiritual energy to simultaneously shift ten ink-black pebbles resting on the surface of the formation array into the positions that she needed them to be in. This was a delicate, continuous process, and she could not afford to let anything distract her mind right now.

After all, such incredible multitasking required immense focus on her part. Fortunately, having lived for two whole lifetimes, Jun Xiaomo’s mental fortitude had already been thoroughly forged by the fires of life and refined to unprecedented levels. This was the only reason why she could possibly accomplish such a complicated process in such a short period of time.

Yet, even then, Jun Xiaomo’s forehead was percolating with profuse sweat, and waves of giddiness constantly battered against her head, sending her mind spinning. She was hanging on steadfastly by her sheer willpower right now.

All eyes were on Jun Xiaomo. Her Heavenly Peak martial brothers couldn’t help but feel disheartened by the fact that their dear Little Martial Sister had time and again shouldered the entire burden of rescuing all of them from the jaws of death. If possible, all of them wished to share this burden of hers.

They were her older martial brothers after all, so how could they possibly allow Little Martial Sister to bear such a heavy burden on all of their behalf?

In particular, Ye Xiuwen experienced the strongest and most profound emotions among all of his martial brother. After all, he did not merely wear the hat of an older martial brother; he also wore the hat of Jun Xiaomo’s lover.

There were few men in this world who could ever bring themselves to rest at ease, doing absolutely nothing while watching their loved ones slog it out on their behalf just so that they could reap what they did not sow.

If possible, Ye Xiuwen would have liked to tell Jun Xiaomo to take a break. However, Jun Xiaomo had from the onset already cautioned them that this process was incredibly important, and she should never be interrupted midway. In other words, she needed to succeed in one attempt. Otherwise, all of her efforts up to this point would have been completely wasted, and she would have to restart the entire process from the very beginning.

To make matters worse, she knew that it was only a matter of time that Xiang Guqing and the rest would discover that the ones resting in their beds right now were no more than mere Humanoid Puppets and give chase after them. Thus, Jun Xiaomo knew that there was simply no time for any redoes.

Besides, she did not possess the spiritual and mental fortitude to redo the entire process in any event – her mind would most certainly break down if it came to that.

Under the confluence of such tense factors weighing on their shoulders, Ye Xiuwen found himself growing increasingly tense, and he consciously refrained from making any peep of sound that might distract Jun Xiaomo.

Zhou Zilong was currently experiencing the most complex swathe of emotions of all the disciples present right now – on the one hand, he worried that Jun Xiaomo would get hurt during this entire process; yet on the other hand, there’s a lingering sense of regret and remorse that was plaguing his heart.

He knew that Jun Xiaomo hated Zhang Shuyue, yet he still chose to leave a lifeline for her, asking her to leave together with all of them.

Little Martial Sister had declared on no uncertain terms that she did not trust Zhang Shuyue. However, Zhou Zilong simply couldn’t wrap his mind around how such a pleasant, kindhearted lady could possibly attract the ire and disdain of Little Martial Sister. If this were a result of the incident involving Martial Brother Ye, Miss Zhang’s apology should have sufficed, shouldn’t it?

Zhou Zilong tightened his fists subconsciously. There were two little men arguing in his mind, and his heart felt like it was being rent into two halves. At the same time, both halves experienced the same wrenching pain.

The little man on the left would say – Aren’t you being ungrateful to Little Martial Sister? Here she is, doing all she can to bring everyone out safely, yet you selfishly chose to disclose everyone’s whereabouts. Are you going to be able to live it down if something really happened?!

Yet the little man on the right would attempt to justify Zhou Zilong’s actions – That little paper crane was only sent to Miss Zhang. Nothing’s going to go wrong. Besides, won’t you equally be unable to rest at ease if Miss Zhang met with a mishap had you chosen not to extend a measure of grace towards her? 

The little man on the left would then retort – What if the enemies followed the lifeline you’d dropped to Miss Zhang and found their way here? Are you trying to put everyone’s lives at risk?

Zhou Zilong searched his increasingly vexed heart for a way out of this conundrum. At the same time, there was a burning desire developing in his heart to tell the two little men to simply shut up. Unfortunately, no matter what he attempted to do to appease his heart and quieten the two little men, they continued to argue incessantly, neither giving in to the other.

As the stifling sensation in his heart continued to mount as though steaming his heart in a pressure cooker, a Transmittance Talisman suddenly glowed in his Interspatial Ring.

Zhou Zilong’s heart skipped a beat. For some reason, his intuition immediately told him that this must be Miss Zhang’s plea for help. After all, his Heavenly Peak martial brothers were all by his side, so who else could it be at this time of the night?

Miss Zhang must have received by little paper crane, right? She might even be on her way here right now!

Zhou Zilong’s heart began to get drawn into a spiral of what might have happened to Zhang Shuyue, and he quickly retrieved the Transmittance Talisman, walked to the side and listened to the message that Zhang Shuyue had sent to him.

“Brother Zhou…sa--…save me…wu-wu-wuu…” Zhang Shuyue’s voice sounded both hoarse and tense, as though she were being tormented by something.

Zhou Zilong’s heart immediately constricted as he hurriedly asked, “Miss Zhang, where are you right now? Did you run into the assailants?”

“I…I don’t know…I’m so scared right now. I was going to look for you when I suddenly ran into a group of men whose origins I don’t know about. They threatened me, asking me to reveal your whereabouts. When I refused to disclose anything to them, they even threatened to kill me…wu-wu-wuu…”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry!” Zhou Zilong attempted to console her, “If you’re able to send a Messenger Paper Crane to us right now, then do so. We’ll come save you immediately.”

“Wu-wu-wuu…alright, brother Zhou. You’re the best. It’s a good thing you haven’t left yet, otherwise…otherwise I really won’t know what else I can do…wu-wu-wuu…” Zhang Shuyue whimpered and wailed on her end, hoping to elicit the greatest amount of urgency and sympathy from Zhou Zilong. How could Zhou Zilong possibly resist the relentless battering of her masterful pretenses?

“We’ve not left yet, so we’ll immediately head over to rescue you before leaving together.” Zhou Zilong solemnly made a promise to Zhang Shuyue, unaware that he was playing right into her hands.

On the other end of the Transmittance Talisman, Zhang Shuyue’s lips curled into a wicked smile as she cursed him in her heart – Fool. Finally, she put on her pathetic voice once more and added meekly, “Mm, come quickly. I’m really scared right now.”

Then, ending off her masterclass with icing on the cake, she squealed urgently and cut off the transmission midway through the squeal.

Xiang Guqing chuckled softly after the transmission ended, “Disciple, master has to admit that she’d taken your words with a pinch of salt back when you’d mentioned that this man was a fool. After all, how many men are there in this cultivation world that could truly be so foolish? Most of them would merely be putting on a pretense. But having heard the conversation that’s just transpired, I truly believe you’ve encountered a fool among fools.”

“Hah, isn’t that so?” Zhang Shuyue chuckled coyly – not a single peep of pretension remained.

“Miss Zhang? Shuyue, Shuyue?!” Zhou Zilong continued to shout at his Transmittance Talisman on the other end. When he realized that the transmission had been cut off, he began to grow incredibly anxious, as though an ant on a hot pan.

“What’s going on over here?” Given Zhou Zilong’s ostensibly loud outburst, Ye Xiuwen immediately walked over and checked in with Zhou Zilong on the situation. Ye Xiuwen’s brows were slightly furrowed, and there was a measure of displeasure in his voice.

He rarely spoke to his martial brothers in such a stern, harsh fashion. However, Zhou Zilong’s actions this time were truly going overboard. Little Martial Sister was doing all she could to unlock the formation array. What reason did he have to cause such a huge ruckus over here? What if he ended up distracting Little Martial Sister?

Zhou Zilong realized belatedly that he had created quite the scene with his outburst of reaction, and he couldn’t help but blush with some measure of embarrassment. That said, in the very next moment, when he thought about Zhang Shuyue’s predicament right now, he immediately suppressed his feelings and grabbed Ye Xiuwen’s arms, “Martial Brother Ye, Miss Zhang has just contacted me via a transmission, pleading for me to rescue her. She appears to have been caught and trapped by the assailants, and she’s in a very dangerous situation right now. Should we…”

“You want to go save her?” Ye Xiuwen cut off Zhou Zilong and completed the sentence for him. His gaze had grown ashen, and his eyes were deep and abstruse.

Faced with Ye Xiuwen’s imposing gaze, Zhou Zilong began to sense some measure of coldness emanating from Ye Xiuwen’s overall disposition.

Martial Brother Ye has never looked at us Heavenly Peak martial brother with such a gaze before. Is this an illusion?

Yet Zhou Zilong quickly shelved these thoughts to the backburner and continued pleading with Ye Xiuwen, “That’s right, Martial Brother Ye. I would like to rescue her. If we don’t do anything to rescue her urgently, who knows what kind of danger might befall her?”

“Enough! Zilong, are you losing your rationality to your emotions?!” Ye Xiuwen castigated him coldly, “You hope that we can go rescue Zhang Shuyue, but have you ever given any consideration as to just how much time and effort Xiaomo needs to break this formation array over here? Are you even aware of just how much preparation Xiaomo has made just so that tonight’s operation can go on smoothly? You casually fling around your intention to ‘rescue Miss Zhang’, but have you even considered the gravity of the situation we’re in right now? You might very well be leading us into the enemies’ entrapment! Can you really bear to see all of us go down in one fell swoop like that?! Can you bear to see all of Xiaomo’s efforts go to waste just like that?!”

“I…I’m not…but, Miss Zhang has refused to disclose our location despite having been captured. If we don’t go rescue her right now, wouldn’t her sacrifice be in vain?” Zhou Zilong was slightly taken aback by Ye Xiuwen’s indignation, but he continued to maintain that his point of view was right.

“Zilong, I’m disappointed in you.” The coldness in Ye Xiuwen’s eyes was suddenly replaced by a sense of immense loss, “I’ll be honest with you – one of the assailants tonight is Zhang Shuyue’s master. This is something that Xiaomo has told me, and it’s up to you whether to believe it or not. However, I’m not going to throw caution to the wind and bring all of our martial brothers back right now, because I’ve got to be responsible for everyone’s lives. As for you…”

Ye Xiuwen paused for a moment, before a trace of grief and resolution flickered across the depths of his eyes, “If you really must go, you’ll have to go alone. Once we open the passageway, we’ll wait for another hour. If you still don’t appear then, we’ll leave without you.”

This was the largest compromise that Ye Xiuwen could afford to make.

Zhou Zilong paused for a moment, before he fell to his knees and gave Ye Xiuwen a resounding kowtow, “I sincerely thank Martial Brother Ye for giving in to me…and…once Martial Sister Xiaomo is done with the needful, please give her my apologies.”

As Zhou Zilong finished speaking, he stood up and sprinted back to where they had come from, vanishing into the long, dark road before them.

“Martial Brother Ye, where has Martial Brother Zhou gone?” One of the Heavenly Peak disciples noticed Zhou Zilong’s departure and asked Ye Xiuwen curiously.

“It’s nothing much. He’s just gone off to attend to a small matter. He’ll be back later.” Ye Xiuwen gave an enigmatic response.

“Oh.” The disciple nodded his head and shelved his thoughts for now as he continued to transfix his gaze on Jun Xiaomo’s back.

Ye Xiuwen’s lips stretched out to a thin grimace as intense grief began to surface in the depths of his eyes.

Truth be told, both Zhou Zilong and Ye Xiuwen were well aware that Zhou Zilong might never return again. After all, Zhou Zilong could never resist the assailants’ attacks all by himself.

When he made the decision to head back to the valley, Zhou Zilong had already embraced the prospects of death. His heart and mind were both at peace with the notion of sacrificing himself to protect the person he loved. At the very least, he knew his death would not have been in vain.

On the other hand, Ye Xiuwen needed to consider the lives of the other seventeen martial brothers who were with him right now. He simply couldn’t afford to risk everyone’s lives just because of a simple, selfish request on Zhou Zilong’s part. This was a burden that he had to shoulder alone as the First-Seat Disciple of the Heavenly Peak.

“I just hope that the sense of unease plaguing my heart is nothing more than an illusion.” Ye Xiuwen sighed softly and muttered to himself as he turned his gaze back towards Jun Xiaomo. A trace of warmth and hope began to fill the darkness in his eyes once more.

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