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Pulling Together A Villain Reformation Strategy Chapter 36.3

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Published at 17th of June 2019 06:10:41 AM Chapter 36.3

Chapter 36 . 3 – The Page Too Has its Joys and Sorrows

When Jiang Xunyi jumped out of the fissure, his feet did not find any solid footing . Looking down, he found himself falling from the sky, the wind howling past his ears .

The cool breeze rus.h.i.+ng past his face gave him back a fraction of his reason . He flipped over in mid-air, borrowing the crags of the nearby cliffside in order to achieve a steady landing .

The b.l.o.o.d.y carnage of the village and the raucous crowds of people just now had all disappeared without a trace . In their place were silent empty mountains and dense shadowy woods, without even a whisper of a living creature . Although it was still the dark of night, the night sky here was crystal clear, studded with twinkling stars that cast a gentle light which calmed one’s heart . However, this tranquil landscape held no trace of He Deng and Yun Xie .

After the experience of the Imprisoned Demons Valley, Jiang Xunyi could not help but wonder if he was again caught in some strange and mysterious Inner Demon . He pinched all over his limbs, inspecting whether his current body was that of Du Heng or still Jiang Xunyi . Only after determining this was not an illusion did he begin to slowly size up the surrounding environment .  

As his momentary shock and anger faded, Jiang Xunyi finally reacted—There was no way Yun Xie could die so easily . Without considering anything else about the situation, if Yun Xie had indeed met with unexpected misfortune1, the system’s blaring alarms would be reverberating in his head for days . And right now, Jiang Xunyi’s mind was as calm as still water .

Though Jiang Xunyi cracked this idle joke to himself in his heart, his facial expression was still as solemn as ever, as if in this short period of time he had forgotten how to smile . As he pa.s.sed through the forest, a paved cobblestone road quietly appeared before his eyes . The path meandered and twisted through the wood, and at its end lay an ancient Buddhist temple .

The winding path led to a secluded retreat, a mediation hall deep in a flowering wood . 2

Jiang Xunyi seemed to have arrived at some realization . He did not knock on the door, but directly pushed open the temple gate and walked inside . The front hall of this temple had been constructed with lofty and towering grandeur, but the years seemed to have taken its toll . The wood and stone bricks all showed the heavy wear of age, and the incense sticks were few and far between . Not even a shadow of a person could be seen . As he followed this little path overgrown by gra.s.s and weeds, his floating long robes stirred up a mottled shadow among the flowers .

Just as his foot stepped into the door of the rear hall, the rattle of a wooden knocker rang out, its echo piercing the extreme quiet of the surroundings .

In the front of the apse, a candle had been placed on top of the offering table, radiating a weak glow that seemed to tremble in unease, as if it was going to be extinguished at any moment . A sprawling mural decorated the wall behind the offering table, depicting a monk kneeling before a statue of the Buddha, perhaps in penitence, perhaps in wors.h.i.+p .

Jiang Xunyi’s footsteps did not halt and the wooden knocker did not cease its rattling, yet still not a single soul appeared . His mind quietly ran calculations, until he took the eighteenth step and the wooden knocker fell silent . Jiang Xunyi immediately came to a stop as well, having exactly reached the offering table with the candle .

His cold voice sounded: “If it’s a meeting you’re looking for, hurry and show yourself already . Since you have led me to this place, why bother putting on this mystifying disguise?”

As Jiang Xunyi spoke, he did not hesitate to swing his sword towards the mural before him . With a heavy and dull sound resembling the crack of leather, the walls on both sides shattered, yet that picture of a monk did not show even a sliver of damage . Jiang Xunyi felt an indescribable strangeness seeping through his subconscious, so he continued to stare at the painting scroll . In the center of the painting, a white fog-like object gradually expanded larger and larger, until it protruded out of the canvas, and then fell through the air——

And turned into an old monk .

Jiang Xunyi: “……”

The old monk slowly ambled over, his smile radiant: “Amitabha . Young master Jiang, you always attempt to destroy objects when you lose your temper . Have you ever considered the feelings of us impoverished people?”

Jiang Xunyi, uncharacteristically, did not sneer mockingly at this joke . Instead, he lowered his eyes and slowly said: “Eighteen steps and a person within a painting… Great Master He Deng, if you possess such magical powers, why bother putting up such a deceitful front? It is said that a hundred years ago, there existed a painting monster which frequently wreaked havoc, its haunting causing the disappearance of countless great talents . Later on, several cultivation geniuses of that generation came together to set up a formation, suppressing it into the eighteen layers of h.e.l.l3 and extinguis.h.i.+ng its existence from the Jianghu . Was that you?”

Hearing his calm and flat tone, He Deng couldn’t help but look at Jiang Xunyi differently: “Knowing this so well, is young master Jiang not afraid of this old monk?”

Jiang Xunyi indifferently said: “There exist none whom I fear, only those who I find annoying . ”

Both of them were avoiding the main topic of conversation4, as if competing against each other’s strengths . Neither took the first step to bring up Yun Xie’s name .

He Deng gave praise: “Keeping calm in the face of uncertainty, remaining fearless in the hour of peril… Despite being on the stupider side, this old monk has truly begun to appreciate you . The fame and reputation you have achieved at such a young age appears to be not entirely undeserved . ”

The vein on Jiang Xunyi’s forehead throbbed faintly .

With great difficulty, he grinded his teeth and swallowed down the rude words on the tip of his tongue . He then heard He Deng’s light words fluttering past his ears and transmitting into his brain: “But upon thinking it over, it makes sense . Young master Jiang does not belong to this world in the first place . Having long since grown accustomed to these kinds of situations, why would you feel fear?”

Jiang Xunyi felt his brain rumble to a halt . Those words, spoken in such a mundane and normal tone, continued to circulate nonstop in his mind, almost occupying his entire consciousness . A shudder rose through his spine, and his first thought was that he could not admit anything: “What do you mean?”

He forced out a smile and tried to keep his tone calm: “What an amusing joke . Just because you heard tidings of my death, you really believe I died? You’re not treating me as a ghostly soul, are you? Haha, such foolish ignorance… . ”

“The day the protagonist achieves success will be when you can return . ” He Deng interrupted him without a care, shattering that illusion of peace:  “Did you hear this kind of promise before?”

Jiang Xunyi abruptly shut his mouth and looked at him with the expression of one seeing a ghost .

He Deng spoke with a tone that could be either praise or mockery or both: “It is because of this kind of promise that you will care so deeply about Sect Master Yun’s life and death, that you will help him without resentment or regrets . Even after being killed by him once, you still appear by his side… . . Now, young master Jiang, do you know the reason why, despite being so utterly loyal to the end, you still remain in this place now?”

Jiang Xunyi calmed down and re-focused: “You know?”

He Deng took out a book from his sleeve and flung it onto the table, smiling: “Back in the Imprisoned Demons Valley, the two of you extricated yourselves free too quickly . Now this time, why not follow this old monk to revisit the remainder of those past events . ”

Jiang Xunyi lowered his head to see four magnificent words on the book’s cover: 《Rising Clouds, Billowing Skies》 .

As if enchanted, Jiang Xunyi slowly reached out his hand to open the book . In a split second, a ray of golden light overflowed from the pages, illuminating his elegant face . Those bygone scenes reappeared before his eyes, misty and ethereal . When they pa.s.sed through his heart, it did not feel like revisiting his own memories . Instead, it seemed to bring a omnipotent perspective viewing everything from above, looking down upon all the joys and sorrows of the story’s characters . Because of this, not only could he sense his own perspective, but he could even faintly receive Yun Xie’s thoughts and emotions .

————————Dividing Line of Memory and Reality————————

That day on Hidden Spirit Mountain, Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi had discovered Huang Yan was actually being possessed by Demon Sovereign Xuan Li, and the two sides had been embroiled in a fierce battle .

Demon Sovereign Xuan Li’s strength absolutely could not be underestimated . However, he was borrowing another’s body to return from the grave, so he was of course not used to using this different and weaker sh.e.l.l . In addition, one of his mortal souls had been sealed within Yun Xie’s body by Jiang Xunyi, so his soul was incomplete . As a result, in the end Jiang Xunyi and Yun Xie again managed to claim victory, placing nine consecutive seals on his soul .

His original body had been shattered into bits by a very angry Yun Xie earlier, so it should be even more impossible for him to recover his vitality . From all the visible signs, it seemed that he should not be able to emerge to create chaos again for at least one hundred years .

Over the course of this battle, Jiang Xunyi’s s.h.i.+zun Immortal Master Ti Ming had died, resurrected, then died again . His s.h.i.+di Huang Yan had been possessed by Xuan Li . Now after reclaiming his own mind and body, Huang Yan was imprisoned . Of the two elders Jingyuan and Jinghai, one had died in Jiang Xunyi’s hands and the other had died in Crow Moon Concubine’s . Overall, over half of the sect’s masters had been lost, leaving everyone without an ounce of victory spirit .  

Jiang Xunyi wiped a handful of sweat from his face and chucked his completely blood-soaked personal sword onto the ground . He no longer cared to manage his usual fastidiousness, dropping directly down to sit and lean back against a boulder . His entire body ached with soreness and weakness, and the only thing he wanted at this moment was to never get up again .

Sadly, there was no lack of annoying people in this world . A head of some unknown family trotted up, attempting to curry favor . Seeing Jiang Xunyi sitting on the ground without any care of his appearance, he did not dare to look down while talking to this young genius, yet he also could not sit on the ground in the same way . After hesitating for a moment, he could only awkwardly lift up the corner of his robes and half-squat by Jiang Xunyi’s side, like a particularly stupid mushroom .

In utter exhaustion, Jiang Xunyi’s eyes drooped half-closed . He lazily soaked in the warm sun s.h.i.+ning on his face, not giving a single glance to the other person .

That family head smiled: “Young master Jiang, congratulations . ”

Jiang Xunyi: “… . ”

In a single word, his favorable impression level of this person had dropped from zero to negative .

He turned his head and looked at this oddity with an unkind gaze, his mind secretly considering whether he should slap this family head into accompanying Xuan Li for eternity .

This family head had eyes as big as light-bulbs, yet sadly lacked vision . He didn’t see Jiang Xunyi’s harsh att.i.tude, and continued speaking cheerfully: “Young master Jiang and Sect Master Yun are indeed young talents, actually winning such honor at such a young age . Now looking at this current situation, Wanderer Zihui has long since paid no attention to the affairs of the world, so young master Jiang, you are now the top person in Hidden Spirit Sect . Seeing this, I cannot help but feel happy for you… . . ”

This person’s words were seeped in a kind of perverted jubilation from achieving power, gaining wealth, and one’s father dying5 . Jiang Xunyi’s mind had originally been trapped in countless complexities and problems . Now hearing this twisted bulls.h.i.+t, a wave of rage flooded his heart . He had no desire to leave the other party with even a bit of face, and coldly said: “Happy? What is there to be happy about? Should I be happy my s.h.i.+fu died?”

That family head’s smile congealed on his plump face .

At this time, the shadow of a slender figure was thrown by the sun onto them . Jiang Xunyi covered his eyes and spoke to the newly arrived Yun Xie : “Is the matter finished?”

He had not wanted to look upon the remains of his fellow sect members, so he pushed the matter of clean-up to Yun Xie and ran here to bask in the sun . Once Yun Xie was finished dealing with that matter, he had come over to look for him .

Yun Xie was still as full of smiles as ever, not showing any of his true emotions . From appearances alone, he did not seem like he had just finished a funeral, but instead like he had just returned from a wedding feast . He nodded towards Jiang Xunyi, and bent down to give him the cloak draped over his hand: “Come, get up . Go back to take a bath and eat something . The weather is cool and it looks like the sun is about to set, do you really intend to stay here overnight?”

The family head who had just tried to strike up a conversation with Jiang Xunyi had originally come here to get recognized by both Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage . Having p.r.i.c.ked himself on the nail that was the cold-faced Jiang Xunyi, he immediately felt his injured soul soothed by Yun Xie’s demeanor as kind and intimate as a spring breeze . He stood up in a hurry to enthusiastically say: “Sect Master Yun!”

Yun Xie was even more enthusiastic than him . Taking in the situation, he smacked the other’s shoulder and earnestly said: “Oh my, this family crest… This gentleman must be the Peng Family Head! It’s an honor to meet you at last—I have long since admired your name, and didn’t expect to see you here today today!”

Peng Zheng almost spat up blood from the force of that smack, but hearing Yun Xie’s words he perked up at the unexpected flattery: “Sect…Sect Master Yun has actually heard of me?”

Yun Xie laughed: “Naturally! I’ve heard glorious stories of how Family Head Peng killed his own younger brother and pressured his own mother to death in order to win his position . Then a while ago, you sent a letter to my sect’s Elder Kong He, wanting him to convince me to support Jiang Molou as the next Hidden Spirit Sect Head . Ah, that matter was executed very beautifully, and it gave me a profound impression of you . A truly profound impression . ”

Jiang Xunyi looked at the two with slight amazement . He let out a n.o.ble and cold sneer, which could have been directed at either Yun Xie’s knives hidden behind a smile, or at Peng Zheng’s sheer despicable shamelessness .

Peng Zheng’s face turned a remarkable shade of green . Upon hearing the last sentence, his originally furious expression transformed into shock and panic . The matter of him killing his younger brother and murdering his mother to rise to power had long since been widely known, but this was in accordance with the principle of history being written by the victors6 . Since it was his own family’s affairs, no one would say anything about it to his face . Now that Yun Xie had pointed out and exposed his trickery, he would of course grow angry . But this second event he thought he had performed with the utmost secrecy, and didn’t expect Yun Xie would have already known the truth . Under this great shock, he looked again at Yun Xie’s handsome and exquisite face, only to find that same smile now infinitely terrifying .

Everyone knew the Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage moved as one, completely inseparable . Peng Zheng secretly supporting another main-branch disciple as the successor to Hidden Spirit was equivalent to declaring his opposition to Jiang Xunyi . Now discovering that Yun Xie had long since known of this fact, he of course feared for his life . He s.h.i.+vered in place, cowering, unsure what to say . On the side, Jiang Xunyi propped his hands on his knees to stand up, frightening Peng Zheng into taking another step back .

But Jiang Xunyi ignored him . His hand curled around the cloak, and he only said: “Yun Xie, time to go . ”

Yun Xie gave a sound of agreement, and followed behind Jiang Xunyi to start the walk back . When he pa.s.sed by Peng Zheng’s side, he smiled at him and whispered: “Farewell, Family Head Peng . ”

Jiang Xunyi stopped a few steps away to wait for him . Seeing Yun Xie coming over, he couldn’t help but scold: “All you know is to put on that mystifying front . What’s so fun about scaring him to stave off your boredom—Have you nothing better to do?”

Yun Xie felt greatly wronged: “Xunyi-gege, he was luring you, how could I endure that!”

Jiang Xunyi said: “Keep talking, that’s all you have to do . If you disgust me to the point of vomiting, I’ll vomit right on your clothes . ”

He murmured to himself for a moment, and then spoke again: “There’s no need for you to make trouble for Peng Zheng again . Whether Molou or I become Sect Head, it’s all the same to me . If he wants the position, I’ll let him . If you go overboard, others will think there is discord between Molou and me . ”

Yun Xie sourly said: “Alright, I know, you have always been good to Molou . ”

Jiang Xunyi seemed to smile as he arched a sword-like brow: “Oh, am I not good to you?”

Yun Xie paused, and took a deep breath: “I’m telling you, don’t seduce me . ”

Believing that Yun Xie was deliberately trying to disgust him, Jiang Xunyi was about to retaliate with his own ridicule when suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he spied a person walking over . Upon seeing clearly who it was, he couldn’t help but smile . His voice softened at once: “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, you came?”

Yun Xie’s expression sank . He called out a “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie” as well, but it seemed rather lukewarm .

The newcomer was precisely Feng Qiu . She had never been a particularly cheerful and lively girl, and her face always carried a hint of faint melancholy . Today her mood looked even more bleak than usual, making her beautiful face seem somewhat gloomy .

Jiang Xunyi could also see it from her face . His brows creased, and then smoothed out again as if afraid he would scare Feng Qiu . He casually shook open the cloak in his hand and draped it around Feng Qiu’s shoulders, purposefully making his tone relaxed to ask: “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, what’s wrong? You don’t look very happy… If anyone dared to provoke you, just say the name and Yun Xie and I will go beat them up . ”

He knew Feng Qiu admired Yun Xie, so when Yun Xie showed absolutely no reaction after he said this, he secretly reached out to pinch Yun Xie’s back . Yun Xie could only reluctantly say: “Ah-Xun is right . Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, what happened to you?”

Even though there were very few people left in the cultivation world who didn’t know Feng Qiu liked Yun Xie, she had to admit that Yun Xie’s att.i.tude was extremely half-hearted compared to Jiang Xunyi . She couldn’t help but turn her gaze to Jiang Xunyi—this man had just gone through a life-and-death struggle, and his elegant and handsome face still showed some slight scars . His narrow-sleeved robes, the color of an azure sky after rain, had already been torn and ripped almost to shreds . But on the rare occasions he revealed that extraordinarily gentle smile, it made one feel the entire world had brightened up, as pleasing to the eyes as the break of dawn, as the dark clouds parting to show a clear spring sky……

As she looked at him, Feng Qiu’s lips involuntarily opened and closed . She could not say a single thing, but twin lines of tears tracked down her cheeks .

Jiang Xunyi was shocked, and even the insouciant Yun Xie could not help but look over . Feng Qiu covered her mouth with one hand, exerting all her strength to suppress the sob in her throat: “I’m… I’m sorry… . . I’m fine, you two don’t have to worry about me . ”

As she spoke, she turned and ran, no longer daring to look back at the two men .

Jiang Xunyi didn’t even think before wanting to chase her . But just as he lifted his foot, he was pulled back by Yun Xie . He tried to shake Yun Xie off, anxious: “Yun Xie, first let me go, Qiu-s.h.i.+jie…”

Yun Xie said: “You shouldn’t go . This is your Hidden Spirit Mountain—you have so many matters to handle, are you going to actually take care of them? You can’t throw everything at me, you know . ”

He seldom, if ever, used this unhappy tone when talking to Jiang Xunyi . Jiang Xunyi looked back to find Yun Xie’s expression looking very unpleasant as he said: “In the future, don’t care so much about Qiu-s.h.i.+jie’s affairs . Let me go instead . ”

The system did not lose this opportunity to issue instructions: [In order to increase the protagonist’s coolness. .h.i.tting on girls, may the male supporting character please remain self-aware and shy away . ]

Jiang Xunyi immediately came to a realization from this reminder, but his “defined characterization” faintly influenced his mentality once again . His genuine concern for Feng Qiu ended up leaking out, and he looked at Yun Xie with suspicion: “Do you like Qiu-s.h.i.+jie?”

Yun Xie’s anger made him rash: “Yes!”

Jiang Xunyi a.n.a.lyzed that Yun Xie was probably angry at him for being so attentive to Feng Qiu and showing no understanding of the timing, also known as “trying to steal Yun Xie’s girl . ” However, this matter wasn’t in his control in the first place—the System had given this character the setting of liking Feng Qiu . He could only pretend not to notice Yun Xie’s motivations, and continue speaking: “But your att.i.tude does not suggest so . ”

Yun Xie retorted: “Then what att.i.tude should I have? Should I smile whenever I see her? If I did that, wouldn’t you instead ask me if I was about to screw her over?”

Jiang Xunyi: “……”

Yun Xie really was a very self-aware person . If this was truly the case, he was actually rather worried .

Footnotes:

1 .   三长两短 lit . “three long and two short” refers to someone running into an unexpected accident/death . There’s no consensus on where the saying came from: one possibility is that it is referring to how a coffin is made of 3 long and 2 short pieces of wood .

2 .  “曲径通幽处,禅房花木深” is a line from the Tang dynasty poet Chang Jian’s poem《题破山寺后禅院》or [A Writing on the Meditation Hall behind the Poshan Temple] .

Chapter 36 . 3 – The Page Too Has its Joys and Sorrows.

 .

When Jiang Xunyi jumped out of the fissure, his feet did not find any solid footing . Looking down, he found himself falling from the sky, the wind howling past his ears

The cool breeze rus.h.i.+ng past his face gave him back a fraction of his reason . He flipped over in mid-air, borrowing the crags of the nearby cliffside in order to achieve a steady landing

The b.l.o.o.d.y carnage of the village and the raucous crowds of people just now had all disappeared without a trace . In their place were silent empty mountains and dense shadowy woods, without even a whisper of a living creature . Although it was still the dark of night, the night sky here was crystal clear, studded with twinkling stars that cast a gentle light which calmed one’s heart . However, this tranquil landscape held no trace of He Deng and Yun Xie

After the experience of the Imprisoned Demons Valley, Jiang Xunyi could not help but wonder if he was again caught in some strange and mysterious Inner Demon . He pinched all over his limbs, inspecting whether his current body was that of Du Heng or still Jiang Xunyi . Only after determining this was not an illusion did he begin to slowly size up the surrounding environment .  .

As his momentary shock and anger faded, Jiang Xunyi finally reacted—There was no way Yun Xie could die so easily . Without considering anything else about the situation, if Yun Xie had indeed met with unexpected misfortune1, the system’s blaring alarms would be reverberating in his head for days . And right now, Jiang Xunyi’s mind was as calm as still water

Though Jiang Xunyi cracked this idle joke to himself in his heart, his facial expression was still as solemn as ever, as if in this short period of time he had forgotten how to smile . As he pa.s.sed through the forest, a paved cobblestone road quietly appeared before his eyes . The path meandered and twisted through the wood, and at its end lay an ancient Buddhist temple

The winding path led to a secluded retreat, a mediation hall deep in a flowering wood . 2.

Jiang Xunyi seemed to have arrived at some realization . He did not knock on the door, but directly pushed open the temple gate and walked inside . The front hall of this temple had been constructed with lofty and towering grandeur, but the years seemed to have taken its toll . The wood and stone bricks all showed the heavy wear of age, and the incense sticks were few and far between . Not even a shadow of a person could be seen . As he followed this little path overgrown by gra.s.s and weeds, his floating long robes stirred up a mottled shadow among the flowers

Just as his foot stepped into the door of the rear hall, the rattle of a wooden knocker rang out, its echo piercing the extreme quiet of the surroundings

In the front of the apse, a candle had been placed on top of the offering table, radiating a weak glow that seemed to tremble in unease, as if it was going to be extinguished at any moment . A sprawling mural decorated the wall behind the offering table, depicting a monk kneeling before a statue of the Buddha, perhaps in penitence, perhaps in wors.h.i.+p

Jiang Xunyi’s footsteps did not halt and the wooden knocker did not cease its rattling, yet still not a single soul appeared . His mind quietly ran calculations, until he took the eighteenth step and the wooden knocker fell silent . Jiang Xunyi immediately came to a stop as well, having exactly reached the offering table with the candle

His cold voice sounded: “If it’s a meeting you’re looking for, hurry and show yourself already . Since you have led me to this place, why bother putting on this mystifying disguise?”.

As Jiang Xunyi spoke, he did not hesitate to swing his sword towards the mural before him . With a heavy and dull sound resembling the crack of leather, the walls on both sides shattered, yet that picture of a monk did not show even a sliver of damage . Jiang Xunyi felt an indescribable strangeness seeping through his subconscious, so he continued to stare at the painting scroll . In the center of the painting, a white fog-like object gradually expanded larger and larger, until it protruded out of the canvas, and then fell through the air——.

And turned into an old monk

Jiang Xunyi: “……”.

The old monk slowly ambled over, his smile radiant: “Amitabha . Young master Jiang, you always attempt to destroy objects when you lose your temper . Have you ever considered the feelings of us impoverished people?”.

Jiang Xunyi, uncharacteristically, did not sneer mockingly at this joke . Instead, he lowered his eyes and slowly said: “Eighteen steps and a person within a painting… Great Master He Deng, if you possess such magical powers, why bother putting up such a deceitful front? It is said that a hundred years ago, there existed a painting monster which frequently wreaked havoc, its haunting causing the disappearance of countless great talents . Later on, several cultivation geniuses of that generation came together to set up a formation, suppressing it into the eighteen layers of h.e.l.l3 and extinguis.h.i.+ng its existence from the Jianghu . Was that you?”.

Hearing his calm and flat tone, He Deng couldn’t help but look at Jiang Xunyi differently: “Knowing this so well, is young master Jiang not afraid of this old monk?”.

Jiang Xunyi indifferently said: “There exist none whom I fear, only those who I find annoying . ”.

Both of them were avoiding the main topic of conversation4, as if competing against each other’s strengths . Neither took the first step to bring up Yun Xie’s name

He Deng gave praise: “Keeping calm in the face of uncertainty, remaining fearless in the hour of peril… Despite being on the stupider side, this old monk has truly begun to appreciate you . The fame and reputation you have achieved at such a young age appears to be not entirely undeserved . ”.

The vein on Jiang Xunyi’s forehead throbbed faintly

With great difficulty, he grinded his teeth and swallowed down the rude words on the tip of his tongue . He then heard He Deng’s light words fluttering past his ears and transmitting into his brain: “But upon thinking it over, it makes sense . Young master Jiang does not belong to this world in the first place . Having long since grown accustomed to these kinds of situations, why would you feel fear?”.

!!!!!!!.

Jiang Xunyi felt his brain rumble to a halt . Those words, spoken in such a mundane and normal tone, continued to circulate nonstop in his mind, almost occupying his entire consciousness . A shudder rose through his spine, and his first thought was that he could not admit anything: “What do you mean?”.

He forced out a smile and tried to keep his tone calm: “What an amusing joke . Just because you heard tidings of my death, you really believe I died? You’re not treating me as a ghostly soul, are you? Haha, such foolish ignorance… . ”.

“The day the protagonist achieves success will be when you can return . ” He Deng interrupted him without a care, shattering that illusion of peace:  “Did you hear this kind of promise before?”.

Jiang Xunyi abruptly shut his mouth and looked at him with the expression of one seeing a ghost

He Deng spoke with a tone that could be either praise or mockery or both: “It is because of this kind of promise that you will care so deeply about Sect Master Yun’s life and death, that you will help him without resentment or regrets . Even after being killed by him once, you still appear by his side… Now, young master Jiang, do you know the reason why, despite being so utterly loyal to the end, you still remain in this place now?”.

Jiang Xunyi calmed down and re-focused: “You know?”.

He Deng took out a book from his sleeve and flung it onto the table, smiling: “Back in the Imprisoned Demons Valley, the two of you extricated yourselves free too quickly . Now this time, why not follow this old monk to revisit the remainder of those past events . ”.

Jiang Xunyi lowered his head to see four magnificent words on the book’s cover: 《Rising Clouds, Billowing Skies》

As if enchanted, Jiang Xunyi slowly reached out his hand to open the book . In a split second, a ray of golden light overflowed from the pages, illuminating his elegant face . Those bygone scenes reappeared before his eyes, misty and ethereal . When they pa.s.sed through his heart, it did not feel like revisiting his own memories . Instead, it seemed to bring a omnipotent perspective viewing everything from above, looking down upon all the joys and sorrows of the story’s characters . Because of this, not only could he sense his own perspective, but he could even faintly receive Yun Xie’s thoughts and emotions

 .

 .

————————Dividing Line of Memory and Reality————————.

  .

 .

That day on Hidden Spirit Mountain, Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi had discovered Huang Yan was actually being possessed by Demon Sovereign Xuan Li, and the two sides had been embroiled in a fierce battle

Demon Sovereign Xuan Li’s strength absolutely could not be underestimated . However, he was borrowing another’s body to return from the grave, so he was of course not used to using this different and weaker sh.e.l.l . In addition, one of his mortal souls had been sealed within Yun Xie’s body by Jiang Xunyi, so his soul was incomplete . As a result, in the end Jiang Xunyi and Yun Xie again managed to claim victory, placing nine consecutive seals on his soul

His original body had been shattered into bits by a very angry Yun Xie earlier, so it should be even more impossible for him to recover his vitality . From all the visible signs, it seemed that he should not be able to emerge to create chaos again for at least one hundred years

Over the course of this battle, Jiang Xunyi’s s.h.i.+zun Immortal Master Ti Ming had died, resurrected, then died again . His s.h.i.+di Huang Yan had been possessed by Xuan Li . Now after reclaiming his own mind and body, Huang Yan was imprisoned . Of the two elders Jingyuan and Jinghai, one had died in Jiang Xunyi’s hands and the other had died in Crow Moon Concubine’s . Overall, over half of the sect’s masters had been lost, leaving everyone without an ounce of victory spirit .  .

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Jiang Xunyi wiped a handful of sweat from his face and chucked his completely blood-soaked personal sword onto the ground . He no longer cared to manage his usual fastidiousness, dropping directly down to sit and lean back against a boulder . His entire body ached with soreness and weakness, and the only thing he wanted at this moment was to never get up again

Sadly, there was no lack of annoying people in this world . A head of some unknown family trotted up, attempting to curry favor . Seeing Jiang Xunyi sitting on the ground without any care of his appearance, he did not dare to look down while talking to this young genius, yet he also could not sit on the ground in the same way . After hesitating for a moment, he could only awkwardly lift up the corner of his robes and half-squat by Jiang Xunyi’s side, like a particularly stupid mushroom

In utter exhaustion, Jiang Xunyi’s eyes drooped half-closed . He lazily soaked in the warm sun s.h.i.+ning on his face, not giving a single glance to the other person

That family head smiled: “Young master Jiang, congratulations . ”.

Jiang Xunyi: “… . ”.

In a single word, his favorable impression level of this person had dropped from zero to negative

He turned his head and looked at this oddity with an unkind gaze, his mind secretly considering whether he should slap this family head into accompanying Xuan Li for eternity

This family head had eyes as big as light-bulbs, yet sadly lacked vision . He didn’t see Jiang Xunyi’s harsh att.i.tude, and continued speaking cheerfully: “Young master Jiang and Sect Master Yun are indeed young talents, actually winning such honor at such a young age . Now looking at this current situation, Wanderer Zihui has long since paid no attention to the affairs of the world, so young master Jiang, you are now the top person in Hidden Spirit Sect . Seeing this, I cannot help but feel happy for you… ”.

This person’s words were seeped in a kind of perverted jubilation from achieving power, gaining wealth, and one’s father dying5 . Jiang Xunyi’s mind had originally been trapped in countless complexities and problems . Now hearing this twisted bulls.h.i.+t, a wave of rage flooded his heart . He had no desire to leave the other party with even a bit of face, and coldly said: “Happy? What is there to be happy about? Should I be happy my s.h.i.+fu died?”.

That family head’s smile congealed on his plump face

At this time, the shadow of a slender figure was thrown by the sun onto them . Jiang Xunyi covered his eyes and spoke to the newly arrived Yun Xie : “Is the matter finished?”.

He had not wanted to look upon the remains of his fellow sect members, so he pushed the matter of clean-up to Yun Xie and ran here to bask in the sun . Once Yun Xie was finished dealing with that matter, he had come over to look for him

Yun Xie was still as full of smiles as ever, not showing any of his true emotions . From appearances alone, he did not seem like he had just finished a funeral, but instead like he had just returned from a wedding feast . He nodded towards Jiang Xunyi, and bent down to give him the cloak draped over his hand: “Come, get up . Go back to take a bath and eat something . The weather is cool and it looks like the sun is about to set, do you really intend to stay here overnight?”.

The family head who had just tried to strike up a conversation with Jiang Xunyi had originally come here to get recognized by both Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage . Having p.r.i.c.ked himself on the nail that was the cold-faced Jiang Xunyi, he immediately felt his injured soul soothed by Yun Xie’s demeanor as kind and intimate as a spring breeze . He stood up in a hurry to enthusiastically say: “Sect Master Yun!”.

Yun Xie was even more enthusiastic than him . Taking in the situation, he smacked the other’s shoulder and earnestly said: “Oh my, this family crest… This gentleman must be the Peng Family Head! It’s an honor to meet you at last—I have long since admired your name, and didn’t expect to see you here today today!”.

Peng Zheng almost spat up blood from the force of that smack, but hearing Yun Xie’s words he perked up at the unexpected flattery: “Sect…Sect Master Yun has actually heard of me?”.

Yun Xie laughed: “Naturally! I’ve heard glorious stories of how Family Head Peng killed his own younger brother and pressured his own mother to death in order to win his position . Then a while ago, you sent a letter to my sect’s Elder Kong He, wanting him to convince me to support Jiang Molou as the next Hidden Spirit Sect Head . Ah, that matter was executed very beautifully, and it gave me a profound impression of you . A truly profound impression . ”.

Jiang Xunyi looked at the two with slight amazement . He let out a n.o.ble and cold sneer, which could have been directed at either Yun Xie’s knives hidden behind a smile, or at Peng Zheng’s sheer despicable shamelessness

Peng Zheng’s face turned a remarkable shade of green . Upon hearing the last sentence, his originally furious expression transformed into shock and panic . The matter of him killing his younger brother and murdering his mother to rise to power had long since been widely known, but this was in accordance with the principle of history being written by the victors6 . Since it was his own family’s affairs, no one would say anything about it to his face . Now that Yun Xie had pointed out and exposed his trickery, he would of course grow angry . But this second event he thought he had performed with the utmost secrecy, and didn’t expect Yun Xie would have already known the truth . Under this great shock, he looked again at Yun Xie’s handsome and exquisite face, only to find that same smile now infinitely terrifying

Everyone knew the Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage moved as one, completely inseparable . Peng Zheng secretly supporting another main-branch disciple as the successor to Hidden Spirit was equivalent to declaring his opposition to Jiang Xunyi . Now discovering that Yun Xie had long since known of this fact, he of course feared for his life . He s.h.i.+vered in place, cowering, unsure what to say . On the side, Jiang Xunyi propped his hands on his knees to stand up, frightening Peng Zheng into taking another step back

But Jiang Xunyi ignored him . His hand curled around the cloak, and he only said: “Yun Xie, time to go . ”.

Yun Xie gave a sound of agreement, and followed behind Jiang Xunyi to start the walk back . When he pa.s.sed by Peng Zheng’s side, he smiled at him and whispered: “Farewell, Family Head Peng . ”.

Jiang Xunyi stopped a few steps away to wait for him . Seeing Yun Xie coming over, he couldn’t help but scold: “All you know is to put on that mystifying front . What’s so fun about scaring him to stave off your boredom—Have you nothing better to do?”.

Yun Xie felt greatly wronged: “Xunyi-gege, he was luring you, how could I endure that!”.

Jiang Xunyi said: “Keep talking, that’s all you have to do . If you disgust me to the point of vomiting, I’ll vomit right on your clothes . ”.

He murmured to himself for a moment, and then spoke again: “There’s no need for you to make trouble for Peng Zheng again . Whether Molou or I become Sect Head, it’s all the same to me . If he wants the position, I’ll let him . If you go overboard, others will think there is discord between Molou and me . ”.

Yun Xie sourly said: “Alright, I know, you have always been good to Molou . ”.

Jiang Xunyi seemed to smile as he arched a sword-like brow: “Oh, am I not good to you?”.

Yun Xie paused, and took a deep breath: “I’m telling you, don’t seduce me . ”.

Believing that Yun Xie was deliberately trying to disgust him, Jiang Xunyi was about to retaliate with his own ridicule when suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he spied a person walking over . Upon seeing clearly who it was, he couldn’t help but smile . His voice softened at once: “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, you came?”.

Yun Xie’s expression sank . He called out a “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie” as well, but it seemed rather lukewarm

The newcomer was precisely Feng Qiu . She had never been a particularly cheerful and lively girl, and her face always carried a hint of faint melancholy . Today her mood looked even more bleak than usual, making her beautiful face seem somewhat gloomy

Jiang Xunyi could also see it from her face . His brows creased, and then smoothed out again as if afraid he would scare Feng Qiu . He casually shook open the cloak in his hand and draped it around Feng Qiu’s shoulders, purposefully making his tone relaxed to ask: “Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, what’s wrong? You don’t look very happy… If anyone dared to provoke you, just say the name and Yun Xie and I will go beat them up . ”.

He knew Feng Qiu admired Yun Xie, so when Yun Xie showed absolutely no reaction after he said this, he secretly reached out to pinch Yun Xie’s back . Yun Xie could only reluctantly say: “Ah-Xun is right . Qiu-s.h.i.+jie, what happened to you?”.

Even though there were very few people left in the cultivation world who didn’t know Feng Qiu liked Yun Xie, she had to admit that Yun Xie’s att.i.tude was extremely half-hearted compared to Jiang Xunyi . She couldn’t help but turn her gaze to Jiang Xunyi—this man had just gone through a life-and-death struggle, and his elegant and handsome face still showed some slight scars . His narrow-sleeved robes, the color of an azure sky after rain, had already been torn and ripped almost to shreds . But on the rare occasions he revealed that extraordinarily gentle smile, it made one feel the entire world had brightened up, as pleasing to the eyes as the break of dawn, as the dark clouds parting to show a clear spring sky…….

As she looked at him, Feng Qiu’s lips involuntarily opened and closed . She could not say a single thing, but twin lines of tears tracked down her cheeks

Jiang Xunyi was shocked, and even the insouciant Yun Xie could not help but look over . Feng Qiu covered her mouth with one hand, exerting all her strength to suppress the sob in her throat: “I’m… I’m sorry… I’m fine, you two don’t have to worry about me . ”.

As she spoke, she turned and ran, no longer daring to look back at the two men

Jiang Xunyi didn’t even think before wanting to chase her . But just as he lifted his foot, he was pulled back by Yun Xie . He tried to shake Yun Xie off, anxious: “Yun Xie, first let me go, Qiu-s.h.i.+jie…”.

Yun Xie said: “You shouldn’t go . This is your Hidden Spirit Mountain—you have so many matters to handle, are you going to actually take care of them? You can’t throw everything at me, you know . ”.

He seldom, if ever, used this unhappy tone when talking to Jiang Xunyi . Jiang Xunyi looked back to find Yun Xie’s expression looking very unpleasant as he said: “In the future, don’t care so much about Qiu-s.h.i.+jie’s affairs . Let me go instead . ”.

The system did not lose this opportunity to issue instructions: [In order to increase the protagonist’s coolness. .h.i.tting on girls, may the male supporting character please remain self-aware and shy away . ].

Jiang Xunyi immediately came to a realization from this reminder, but his “defined characterization” faintly influenced his mentality once again . His genuine concern for Feng Qiu ended up leaking out, and he looked at Yun Xie with suspicion: “Do you like Qiu-s.h.i.+jie?”.

Yun Xie’s anger made him rash: “Yes!”.

Jiang Xunyi a.n.a.lyzed that Yun Xie was probably angry at him for being so attentive to Feng Qiu and showing no understanding of the timing, also known as “trying to steal Yun Xie’s girl . ” However, this matter wasn’t in his control in the first place—the System had given this character the setting of liking Feng Qiu . He could only pretend not to notice Yun Xie’s motivations, and continue speaking: “But your att.i.tude does not suggest so . ”.

Yun Xie retorted: “Then what att.i.tude should I have? Should I smile whenever I see her? If I did that, wouldn’t you instead ask me if I was about to screw her over?”.

Jiang Xunyi: “……”.

Yun Xie really was a very self-aware person . If this was truly the case, he was actually rather worried

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Footnotes:.

1 .   三长两短 lit . “three long and two short” refers to someone running into an unexpected accident/death . There’s no consensus on where the saying came from: one possibility is that it is referring to how a coffin is made of 3 long and 2 short pieces of wood

2 .  “曲径通幽处,禅房花木深” is a line from the Tang dynasty poet Chang Jian’s poem《题破山寺后禅院》or [A Writing on the Meditation Hall behind the Poshan Temple]

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