Chapter 47: Departure! Onward to the Mystic Woods

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

It was dawn. The lush, verdant valleys were enveloped by a thin layer of fog, and the moon hung high in the sky as twinkling stars peeked out behind the sparse clouds. At the very end of the horizon, a warm glow illuminated the earth, bringing colour and life to all that was in sight.

Early in the morning, the several disciples who were about to leave the Sect for their missions began to trickle towards their gathering point beside the pillar-shaped granite block just outside the Sect, where they would meet with their respective team leaders. Among the three team leaders who were at the twelfth level of Qi Mastery, Ye Xiuwen was the first to arrive. In fact, he had arrived even earlier than most other disciples. After all, Ye Xiuwen was used to being awake at this time. His usual routine meant that he would already be practicing his sword arts by this time.

The other disciples standing beside Ye Xiuwen could not help but yawn repeatedly, and next to them, Ye Xiuwen looked absolutely fresh and alert.

It could only be said that it was not without reason that Ye Xiuwen was much further ahead in his cultivation path than his contemporaries. After all, diligence redeems stupidity. Furthermore, given Ye Xiuwen’s talent in cultivation, he could hardly be said to be “stupid” to begin with.

At this moment, the white-garbed Ye Xiuwen stood at the gathering point silently, exuding a dignified yet solitary air about him. Even though his posture looked relaxed, his cool, tranquil look gave people the impression that he was not a very approachable person.

The other disciples from the Sect who had assembled at the gathering point also began to form cliques as they casually chat about all sorts of things. Some of them were excited because it was going to be their first foray out of the Sect; while others engaged in conversation to temporarily suppress their anxiety that they might meet with unforeseen circumstances outside.

However, none of these disciples approached Ye Xiuwen at all. And this was not because Ye Xiuwen was not engaging in conversations. Rather, the most important point is that every time they encountered this formidable martial brother who possessed a special, dignified air about him, he felt so different from everyone else that they would always subconsciously avoid him. As time went by, Ye Xiuwen was left with nothing more than a vacuum around him, devoid of any fellow disciples.

The former Jun Xiaomo also used to act like one of these other disciples of the Sect. It was only recently that Jun Xiaomo managed to approach Ye Xiuwen and forcibly tunnel her way past his guardedness and into his heart.

After some more time passed, Ke Xinwen and Qin Lingyu arrived, fashionably late. They both arrived at practically the exact same time, and each of them were also escorted by a gorgeous female disciple.

“Hehe, as expected of martial brother Ke and martial brother Qin – they’re really lucky with women.” One of the disciples on the side muttered under his breath to a fellow disciple just beside him.

“But of course! If you can attain the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery before the age of thirty-five, you can also bring a beautiful martial sister out of the Sect on your travels with you! But unfortunately, only time would tell whether you have this level of talent and luck.” Yet another male disciple turned around and whispered to them even as his heart was filled with envy for Ke Xinwen and Qin Lingyu.

It had to be said that the two female disciples beside Ke Xinwen and Qin Lingyu were considered among the top beauties in the Sect; especially Yu Wanrou who stood beside Ke Xinwen. Yu Wanrou had beautiful, sharp features, and she was kind, considerate, and warm to people. She was practically the dream girl for at least seventy percent of all male disciples in the Sect.

As for the other thirty percent of male disciples, they belonged to the other group of cultivation fanatics like Ye Xiuwen who were not moved by matters such as beauty.

Yu Wanrou enjoyed the looks of admiration cast her way by other male cultivators. She strutted alongside Ke Xinwen as she chatted with him casually, glancing at the other disciples of the Sect from time to time. The slight grin on her face gave others the impression that she was in great spirits; while other disciples were so distracted by her pink, luscious lips that their souls almost left their bodies.

However, only Yu Wanrou knew that she was not at all pleased; she even felt depressed and frustrated in her heart. When she initially joined Ke Xinwen’s team, her sole intention was to evoke some jealousy on Qin Lingyu’s part so that he would realize her importance to him. In the end, not only did Qin Lingyu not notice all these things at all, he was even seduced by another female disciple.

As things were, not only was she unsure of whether she had made Qin Lingyu jealous; she was even overwhelmed by jealousy for the female disciple beside Qin Lingyu.

This female disciple walking alongside Qin Lingyu was Zhong Ruolan, and she was also a disciple of the Pill Cauldron Peak like Yu Wanrou was. She was a lady with beautiful features, but she had a slightly arrogant personality. Because of that, most male cultivators did not fancy her as much as they did Yu Wanrou. Furthermore, Zhong Ruolan was already twenty-nine years old. The talented male disciples who were older than her had almost all left the Sect for Upper-tier Sects, and those who stayed within the Sect generally could not be considered particularly talented. With Zhong Ruolan’s arrogance, she naturally looked down on these remaining male disciples.

In the end, Zhong Ruolan fell for someone seven years younger than him, namely the Sect Leader’s First-Seat Disciple, Qin Lingyu. Initially, when she learnt that Qin Lingyu was engaged to Jun Xiaomo, she was so furious that she almost crushed the cup in her hands. If not for the fact that Jun Xiaomo had the backing of the entire Heavenly Peak, she might well have approached Jun Xiaomo for a duel.

In the cultivation world, it was not uncommon to see male or female disciples duke it out with their love rivals for the right to pursue their potential partners. As long as the duel took place in the arena and under the conditions that both parties agreed to, no one would be punished for their behaviour. In Jun Xiaomo’s previous altercation with Dai Yue, the only reasons why Jun Xiaomo could threaten her with that incident was the fact that their fight took place outside the arena, and also the fact that Dai Yue secretly attacked Jun Xiaomo instead of settling matters with a fair, honourable duel.

Initially, Zhong Ruolan had almost given up all hope to be with Qin Lingyu. However, now that she noticed Qin Lingyu’s coldness towards Jun Xiaomo, coupled with the fact that she had an opportunity to interact with Qin Lingyu alone outside the Sect, she could not help but rekindle the flames of hope in her heart.

Therefore, she applied to join Qin Lingyu’s team. With her cultivation at the tenth level of Qi Mastery, it was not difficult for her to qualify for Qin Lingyu’s team. 

As expected, after the Sect Elders had considered the applicants and deliberated over the matter, her application to travel out of the Sect was approved and she was assigned to join Qin Lingyu’s team. Zhong Ruolan’s considerations were simple. Now that Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation had fallen to the first level of Qi Mastery, whether Qin Lingyu would adhere to the marriage arrangement was already an uncertainty. If she were able to arouse and ignite Qin Lingyu flames of passion for her during these travels, then with enough luck, she might just be able to secure the rescinding of the marriage arrangement between Qin Lingyu and Jun Xiaomo.

What Zhong Ruolan had not considered was that her true love rival was not Jun Xiaomo, but the one who had been standing behind her and staring daggers into her back all these while – the femme fatale, Yu Wanrou.

It was a pity that Jun Xiaomo were not there to witness this entire scene. Otherwise, all of this would have certainly made her day!

Fight…fight! Whoever defeats the other wins Qin Lingyu. She would be overjoyed to put ribbons on her ambitious fiancé and offer him up as a prize to the winner!

Just like that, the four of them, each bearing their own considerations, finally assembled with everyone else at the gathering points. Ye Xiuwen stood closest to the Sect’s gate, so naturally the first person that these four disciples encountered was also Ye Xiuwen.

“Martial brother Ye.”

“Martial brother Ye.”

Two voices greeted Ye Xiuwen, one after the other. The first was spoken by Ke Xinwen, while the latter was spoken by Qin Lingyu.

“Martial brother Ke, martial brother Qin.” Ye Xiuwen calmly greeted them as he nodded to them as well. Ye Xiuwen locked eyes with Qin Lingyu through his veiled conical hat – just a day ago, Qin Lingyu had still treated him particularly coldly because of that incident with Jun Xiaomo. But today, Qin Lingyu greeted him with a calm expression as though he had already forgotten that incident with Jun Xiaomo.

However, Ye Xiuwen’s keen observation of a person’s feelings were not purely based on their facial expressions. More importantly, Ye Xiuwen examined a person’s heart through the gaze in their eyes. Qin Lingyu seemed calm on the surface, but the iciness and frigidity of his gaze could not be masked as easily, and Ye Xiuwen naturally also noticed it.

Ah, what attitude is this? Could it be that he hates me because he suspects that I’ve become the third wheel in their engagement?

But if he truly cared for little martial sister, then how could he allow her to trespass the Sect’s forbidden ground and suffer such severe injuries? Wasn’t this double standard just a manifestation of his self-serving mentality?

Ye Xiuwen was immensely displeased with Qin Lingyu’s greed and his inability to be content with what he had. Most importantly, the person that Qin Lingyu wronged was Jun Xiaomo. Even though his little martial sister had on three occasions expressed that she did not like the scumbag Qin Lingyu, yet whenever Ye Xiuwen thought of their marriage arrangement, he would feel a sense of frustration swelling from his heart.

This sense of frustration was fleeting, and Ye Xiuwen brushed it off as a type of righteous indignation against Qin Lingyu’s wrongdoing and did not think further about it.

He had already let his guard down and opened his heart to Jun Xiaomo, and he now doted on her as a younger sister. Naturally, he would not want to see her getting hurt by anyone.

While Ye Xiuwen’s expressions were obscured by his veiled conical hat; and Qin Lingyu’s expressions seemed very natural, some of the more sensitive disciples still managed to pick up on the sparks of conflict between the two of them.

At this moment, Ke Xinwen’s eyes flashed and he spoke with a beaming grin on his face, “Aha! Martial brother Ye is rather early today, isn’t he?” The oppressive air immediately dispersed as he spoke.

Ye Xiuwen calmly replied, “This can’t really be considered early. You guys are already late by an incense stick of time.”

Ke Xinwen’s face froze in shock. Despite the fact that Ye Xiuwen spoke the truth, having his fault pointed out like still tarnished his reputation a little bit.

But this was Ye Xiuwen’s personality after all. Unless it was necessary, Ye Xiuwen rarely beat about the bush. Besides, he did not feel that people who were late should be given any indulgence at all. After all, if this were the battlefield, that five minutes of tardiness could spell the difference between life and death for the rest of their team.

This was a kind of discipline and awareness that was almost a type of necessity for any successful cultivator. Unfortunately, Ke Xinwen and Qin Lingyu could not appreciate this fact – especially Ke Xinwen, whose narrowminded view of matters caused him to perceive that Ye Xiuwen was simply mocking his tardiness.

Ke Xinwen found it hard to maintain the smile on his face, but nevertheless he forcibly presented a smile on his face as he laughed pompously, saying, “Haha, martial brother Ye is right. This was our fault. We won’t be late next time.”

It was exactly this tolerant and magnanimous attitude Ke Xinwen had displayed which had earned him favour with the other martial brothers and sisters of the Sect. If Qin Lingyu was a person who drew fellow disciples to him through his stature and abilities; then Ke Xinwen, on the other hand, was someone who drew fellow disciples to him because he was chummy and easygoing with all who were around him.

But the truth of the matter was that Ke Xinwen was much more narrowminded than people thought he was.

Ke Xinwen had attained the twelfth level of Qi Mastery earlier than Ye Xiuwen and Qin Lingyu. If not for the fact that he was slightly on the older side by this time, he could well have become one of the most prized disciples within the Sect.

Ever since he attained the twelfth level of Qi Mastery, Ke Xinwen had aspired to be selected by the Upper-tiered Frozen Sword Sect as their Chosen Disciple. However, when the Third Elder of the Frozen Sword Sect visited Dawn Sect and did his rounds, not only did he completely disregard Ke Xinwen, he even set his eyes on Ye Xiuwen who had then been only in the eleventh level of Qi Mastery. The Third Elder was impressed by both Ye Xiuwen’s talents with the sword and diligent attitude. Therefore, he selected Ye Xiuwen without further hesitation to prevent elders from other sects from snatching him away.

Ke Xinwen had originally wanted to recommend himself for consideration by the Third Elder of the Frozen Sword Sect. In the end, once the Third Elder of the Frozen Sword Sect made his decision about Ye Xiuwen known, Ke Xiuwen could only hold his tongue in dismay.

He knew that the Third Elder of the Frozen Sword Sect would not change his mind even if he went on to that recommend himself for consideration. Instead, doing so might only invite more ridicule on him.

No one knew the ponderances of Ke Xinwen’s heart regarding this matter, and Ke Xinwen also hid it well in his regular interactions. In particular, he would make it a point to beam at Ye Xiuwen whenever he saw him. Therefore, no one knew the jealousy that was brewing in his heart against Ye Xiuwen.

If the tables were turned, and Ye Xiuwen’s desired position had been occupied first by another disciple, he would calmly accept that reality, before channeling any sorrow and self-pity into motivation to work hard in the hope that he would be offered an even better opportunity in future.

This was also the difference between Ye Xiuwen and other people. To this date, Ke Xinwen still could not understand and appreciate how he was lacking in any way compared to Ye Xiuwen.

Ke Xinwen’s “performance” deceived all the other ordinary disciples around, but his pretense did not veil the eyes of Qin Lingyu and Ye Xiuwen. After all, the former was an even more devious schemer than Ke Xiuwen; and the latter was one who had keen senses sharper than most others.

Ye Xiuwen looked at Ke Xinwen and Qin Lingyu before he nodded and said, “Since it’s already getting late, let’s not dally any further. Let’s depart.”

This was yet another manifestation of his personality – concise and to the point.

As he finished speaking, Ye Xiuwen walked ahead before them, leading the way.

At this moment, Ke Xinwen’s eyes flashed with a vicious gleam before he quickly masked it with his signature beaming face as he followed behind Ye Xiuwen.

Qin Lingyu followed them closely, leading the rest of the Sect’s disciples as they embarked on their journey.

Yet not a single person witnessed how Qin Lingyu stared intently at Ye Xiuwen and Ke Xinwen’s backs while his eyes flickered with scheming intent.

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