Chapter 342: Zhang Shuyue’s Heart of Steel, Zhou Zilong’s Sacrifice

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Zhou Zilong lowered his head, completely sullen.

He sincerely desired Zhang Shuyue’s release. However, his martial brothers from the Heavenly Peak were equally important to him. Thus, he was evidently caught between a rock and a hard place.

Xiang Guqing knew that Zhou Zilong would never be able to provide her with a response so quickly. Thus, she pressed the issue with an ultimatum, “Young man, you’d best make a decision quickly. I don’t have much patience. If you don’t give me your response soon, I’m going to start cutting Zhang Shuyue up into pieces right in front of your very eyes, and I’m going to slowly torment her until she dies. What do you think? Make your decision – do you want to see your beloved beauty perish, or do you wish to cooperate with us and lure your Heavenly Peak martial brothers to this place?”

Zhou Zilong gritted his teeth and clenched his fists tightly. His face began to twist and contort slightly in tandem with the struggle in his heart.

Xiang Guqing watched Zhou Zilong’s expressions with delight in her eyes and disdain in her heart – See? Men are all the same. What’s the use of putting on all these pretenses? As soon as something happens, they’re always wavering and placing their own self-interests first.

That said, Xiang Guqing was ninety-percent confident that she was going to be able to extract a compromise from Zhou Zilong. After all, she simply didn’t believe that Zhou Zilong was willing to see Zhang Shuyue being tortured to death in front of his very own eyes.

After what seemed like an eternity, the contorted expressions on Zhou Zilong’s face finally faded, and in its place was an expression of peace and tranquility.

He lifted his head once more. His expressions were miserable, but his eyes were now filled with unprecedented resolution – it was evident that he had made his decision.

As to just what this decision was, Xiang Guqing was unable to adjudge this from merely his expressions.

“Let me see Miss Zhang first. I’ll discuss the terms with you once I ascertain that she’s safe and sound.” Zhou Zilong calmly stated his conditions. Xiang Guqing smiled victoriously, “Alright. A wise man submits to his circumstances. You’re clearly deeply in love with her.”

Despite her ostensibly positive term of reference, only Xiang Guqing herself knew whether she was praising Zhou Zilong or whether she was mocking Zhou Zilong when she said that he was “deeply in love”.

At this moment, Xiang Guqing summoned two of the Eternal Summit Sect disciples standing closest to her, “You two, go help the young man to his feet. It’s evident that he won’t be able to stand on his own strength right now.”

The two Eternal Summit Sect disciples were well aware that Xiang Guqing’s abilities were similar to Elder Dai’s abilities. Thus, they dared not dally, and they immediately ran over to Zhou Zilong’s side, squatted down and began to help him to his feet.

Xiang Guqing turned around and walked past Zhou Zilong and the two disciples helping him up. Then, as soon as she was out of Zhou Zilong’s line of sight, she cast a meaningful glance at one of her own disciples.

Her disciple instantly knew what she meant and slipped away discreetly.

The disciple was to locate Zhang Shuyue. In order to keep pretenses up, Zhang Shuyue had hidden herself elsewhere while the rest of them were capturing Zhou Zilong. Thus, Zhang Shuyue was kept in the dark as to what was going on right now.

Since Zhou Zilong wanted to ascertain with his very own eyes that the “captured” Zhang Shuyue was alive and well, they would have to make the necessary preparations so that Zhou Zilong wouldn’t discover anything amiss.

On the other side as soon as Zhang Shuyue learnt of Xiang Guqing’s plans, she began to mutter to herself begrudgingly, “Do I really have to keep putting on an act in front of that stupid fool? It’s frustrating dealing with him!”

“Martial sister, bear with it for now. Don’t you want Master to capture Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo so that you can have your revenge? The success of our operation hinges on this scheme right now. If you can convince that fool to do all these things for you, we will most certainly be able to capture Ye Xiuwen and Jun Xiaomo. They value the lives of their own Heavenly Peak disciples the most. Otherwise, they would never have risked their lives to rescue their martial brothers from the Dawn Sect’s forbidden grounds to begin with.” The disciple relaying the news did her best to persuade Zhang Shuyue.

“Sigh, alright, alright. Martial Sister Shuo, I understand. It’s just an act of sympathy, nothing too difficult for me. I’ll make the best of the situation.” Zhang Shuyue responded somewhat impatiently.

If she could have it her way, she would much rather torture Zhou Zilong until he gives in and agrees to lure Ye Xiuwen out on their behalf.

Just then, Xiang Guqing’s footsteps and the chattering of voices began to draw closer to them. Zhang Shuyue and the other female disciple exchanged glances and nodding knowingly to each other.

The female disciple walked out of the room and stood guard outside, while Zhang Shuyue put on a weak, feeble look on her face as she laid on the ground pathetically.

As the footsteps drew even closer, Zhang Shuyue began to tear and rip apart some of her clothes, presenting herself in a much more tragic state than before.

“Is the little girl still in there?” Xiang Guqing asked her disciple that was standing guard outside the door meaningfully.

In other words, Xiang Guqing was asking her disciple whether Zhang Shuyue was ready with her preparations.

“Don’t worry, Master. She’s been in here all this time.” The female disciple responded politely with a knowing nod.

With that, Xiang Guqing opened the door and walked straight into the room, only to be greeted by Zhang Shuyue’s pitiful gaze as she laid weakly on the ground.

“How about it? I’ve kept my word and let you see her.” Xiang Guqing turned around and addressed Zhou Zilong as he remained propped up on the shoulders of the two Eternal Summit Sect disciples, “Shouldn’t you stick to your end of the deal and lure out your other martial brothers from the Heavenly Peak?”

Zhou Zilong looked at Xiang Guqing and responded, “I’d like some time to speak with Miss Zhang in private. Once I’m done with that, I’ll discuss the terms of my cooperation with you.”

A trace of disdain and indignation flickered across the depths of Xiang Guqing’s eyes. However, she fervently suppressed any impulses to beat up Zhou Zilong and made a gesture to the rest as she quipped, “All of you, stand down.”

As soon as the others left the room, Xiang Guqing followed suit. Just before closing the door, she gently threatened him once more, “You’d best make things quick here. My patience is wearing thin.”

Zhou Zilong curtly acknowledged Xiang Guqing’s threat. Then, as soon as Xiang Guqing stepped out of the room and shut the door, he slumped to the ground. Fighting through the pain sweeping through his body, he managed to finally scramble to where Zhang Shuyue was lying on the ground. Holding her closely, he asked nervously, “Miss Zhang, are you alright? What have they done to you?”

Zhang Shuyue had been putting on a weak and feeble pretense all this while as she observed Zhou Zilong’s approach. Then, when Zhou Zilong finally held her in his arms, a wave of disdain and disgust surged violently in her heart.

She was hardly moved by the fact that Zhou Zilong had come looking for her all on his own. In fact, she found him to be a complete fool for having fallen for their pretenses time and again.

And now, she was even forced to maintain her pretenses with this fool.

“Brother Zhou.” Zhang Shuyue feebly called out Zhou Zilong’s name with reddened, puffy eyes, “I’m sorry, I’d never thought that they would hurt you to such an extent. Perhaps you should never have come back for me.”

Zhang Shuyue’s display of weakness tugged hard at the softest spot in Zhou Zilong’s heart, and he responded, “It’s fine. I would regret it for the rest of my life had I not come back for you. I…I don’t want Miss Zhang to fall prey to any dangers.”

Zhang Shuyue secretly felt pleased in her heart that she could mesmerize a fool to such an extent. However, she continued to plaster an expression of being touched and moved on her face, “Thank you, Brother Zhou. I’m…I’m so useless…wu-wu-wuu…”

Zhang Shuyue buried her face in her palms, pretending to be despondent. However, the truth of the matter was that she was merely concealing her lack of tears right now.

“Don’t…don’t say that. Miss Zhang has already done very well.” Zhou Zilong immediately consoled her. Then, with his arms wrapped around Zhang Shuyue’s shoulders, he patted her back, “You’ve remained strong and refused to disclose our location.”

Zhang Shuyue finally managed to eke out some tears from her eyes. She looked up and stared into Zhou Zilong’s eyes once more, “Brother Zhou, I overheard your conversation with those guys earlier. Do you have a way to get us out of here?”

Zhou Zilong hesitated for a moment, before nodding, “I do have a way, but there’s no certainty that it would work.”

Zhang Shuyue’s heart leapt with joy, thinking – Success! She immediately added, “Then, what plan does Brother Zhou have?”

“They’re asking me to lure out my martial brothers from the Heavenly Peak. That way, they’ll agree to release you.” Zhou Zilong informed Zhang Shuyue of the decision that he had to make.

Playing along, Zhang Shuyue gasped in horror as she furrowed her brows, “How could they make you do that?! Brother Zhou, you must never give in! That would be tantamount to luring your martial brothers into a trap!”

Zhang Shuyue had said all these things in order to display her magnanimous and kindhearted nature. Unfortunately, she had never expected Zhou Zilong to nod in complete agreement –

“Miss Zhang is right. Therefore, I’ve never had the intention to lure my martial brothers to this place.”

Zhang Shuyue was instantly taken aback by Zhou Zilong’s words, and her eyes widened slightly with disbelief. In that single instant, she was nearly unable to maintain her pretenses any longer – Didn’t you say that you had a way out for us?! Why have you denied the prospects of this solution now? Aren’t you going to rescue me anymore?

Regrettably, Zhou Zilong failed to notice the peculiar expression in Zhang Shuyue’s eyes, and he simply continued, “Miss Zhang, I’m sorry. I know you’ve sacrificed a lot for us, and you’ve even kept our secrets for us all this while. However, my martial brothers are like my family. Even if I die, I cannot afford to lure them into a trap and send them to their deathbeds. Thus, even though they’ve required these conditions of me, I’ve never once entertained the thoughts of compromising.”

Zhou Zilong had lowered his head out of guilty conscience as he explained his thoughts. Thus, he failed to notice Zhang Shuyue’s increasingly twisted and contrived expressions.

Since you’ve never thought of agreeing to our master’s conditions to begin with, what’s the use of coming here to see me?! Aren’t you just wasting my time now?!!!

As Zhou Zilong finished explaining his present predicament and the guilt that was weighing on his heart, he retrieved a Humanoid Puppet Talisman and an Invisibility Talisman and added, “Miss Zhang, these talismans are a Humanoid Puppet Talisman and an Invisibility Talisman respectively. Martial Sister Xiaomo had given these to me a little while ago, but I’ve saved them just so that you can use them instead. You can first create a Humanoid Puppet that looks similar to you and lay it on the floor, before using the Invisibility Talisman to conceal your appearances. Then, as soon as I open the door to leave this place, you can take the chance to slip out as well. That way, they won’t be able to capture you, and you’ll be able to leave this place safely.”

Zhang Shuyue stared at the two talismans in Zhou Zilong’s hands with a completely ashen expression.

Humanoid Puppet Talisman…Invisibility Talisman…have we been utterly fooled by these two talismans tonight?! Damn! Jun, Xiao, Mo, you and your dastardly bizarre ideas!

“Miss Zhang?” Having noticed Zhang Shuyue’s silence, Zhou Zilong prompted her once more.

Zhang Shuyue was immediately jolted back to her senses. She lifted her head and gazed straight into Zhou Zilong’s eyes as she received the two talismans from him. Then, she lowered her head once more and muttered, “Thanks, Brother Zhou.”

With that, Zhou Zilong finally heaved a sigh of relief, and he revealed a pure, innocent smile on his face, “No need for thanks. I can rest assured as long as Miss Zhang can leave this place safely.”

Zhang Shuyue curled her lips into a wicked smile. Then, as she stored the two talismans in her Interspatial Ring, she also retrieved a spirit sword and plunged it straight into Zhou Zilong’s chest.

Zhou Zilong’s eyes widened in horror, and the smile on his face stiffened up as blood began to flow incessantly from the gaping wound in his chest.

“Miss Zhang, you…”

“You idiotic buffoon! Everything would’ve been fine and dandy had you obediently lured out Ye Xiuwen and the rest. You chose this road for yourself.” Zhang Shuyue coldly remarked as she stood up and glanced disdainfully at Zhou Zilong with some measure of macabre delight in her eyes, “Since you’re about to die soon, then let me tell you everything – I’m none other than Xiang Guqing’s disciple. Do you think I’d really conceal the whereabouts of your martial brothers? From the onset, you’ve done nothing more than to betray the Heavenly Peak and nudge your dear martial brothers closer and closer to the precipice of no return! Hahahahaha…”

Zhou Zilong’s throat grew increasingly dry and hoarse. He had words that he wanted to say, but nothing came out of his mouth.

Where was Zhang Shuyue’s weak and feeble disposition right now?

I’d been wrong. I’d been wrong from the start…Martial Sister Xiaomo was right. Zhang Shuyue isn’t a good person… Unfortunately, the realization had come far too late.

Fortunately…fortunately, I’d chosen not to betray my martial brothers for this woman.

As soon as his mind contemplated the one silver lining of his actions, the world around him faded to black, and he sank deep into the dark abyss of no return.

Zhang Shuyue pulled out the sword from Zhou Zilong’s chest and flicked off his blood from the sword disdainfully.

“Hah. There are innumerable people lining up to sacrifice themselves for me. You’re no more than an insignificant digit to me.” Zhang Shuyue mocked contemptuously as she strode out of the room, leaving Zhou Zilong’s corpse lying motionless in the center of the room.

If Jun Xiaomo were present right now, she would discover to her horror just how similar this scene was to something that had occurred in her previous life. The only difference lay in the fact that in her previous life, the person who had perished was none other than Ye Xiuwen…

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