Xie Shuci’s nose caught the strong scent of fresh blood.


As his vision cleared, his eyes settled on Xie An, who was soaked in bright red blood. Half of Xie An’s white clothing was stained crimson, as if it had been drenched in a pool of blood.


A sharp pain seemed to pierce Xie Shuci’s eyes, pushing aside his fear. Overwhelming anxiety filled his heart. He tried desperately to sit up, but his limbs felt so weak. In desperation, he clung tightly to Xie An’s clothing, so tense that he forgot to cry.


“You’re injured?!”


Approaching the two, Chu Wenfeng stopped in his tracks. His eyes locked onto Xie An’s blood-soaked clothes, and his breath caught, “Are you really hurt?”


Xie An lowered his gaze, “A minor injury.”


Xie Shuci wasn’t convinced. How could a minor injury cause so much bleeding?


He looked towards Chu Wenfeng, who stood not too far away, “Chu Wenfeng, is Xie An injured?”


Chu Wenfeng stepped closer and nodded.




“His left arm. The wound is deep.”


Only then did Xie Shuci notice that Xie An’s left hand had been hanging limply by his side, unmoving. Grabbing that hand and looking at the wound, blood gushed from a slash that ran the length of his forearm. The flesh was torn and exposed. Just a glimpse of it made Xie Shuci’s scalp tingle.


“A sword wound! Who did this?” Xie Shuci breathed heavily, anger evident in his voice.


Chu Wenfeng looked around and eventually spotted a longsword stuck in a rock, its blade smeared with fresh blood. His eyes darkened, “It was Deng Fengming.”


Enraged, Xie Shuci exclaimed, “That damned fool! What kind of accomplishment is it to bully a blind man? I’ll make him pay!”


He tried to move, but Xie An, with his right hand, pushed him back down.


Due to excessive blood loss, Xie An’s lips were paler than usual, “You’ve exerted yourself too much. Rest for now.”


Chu Wenfeng crouched down beside the two of them, “Deng Fengming was already taken away by the people from the Xiaoyao Sect.”


Grinding his teeth in anger, Xie Shuci quickly took out a top-grade healing pill from his pouch. Without even wiping off the blood on his hand, he held the pill to Xie An’s lips and said tersely, “Open up.”


Xie An’s nostrils flared, seemingly catching the scent of blood from Xie Shuci’s hand, and he hesitated, frowning slightly.


Amused and frustrated by Xie An’s reaction, Xie Shuci firmly gripped his chin, forcing him to open his mouth, and ruthlessly stuffed the blood-stained pill inside.


Seeing that he had swallowed the pill, Xie Shuci, still feeling the weight of his irritation, deliberately smeared his own blood-covered hand on Xie An’s face, “Dare to deceive me? You’ve grown quite audacious!”


Taken aback, Xie An tasted the metallic sweetness at the corner of his mouth and unexpectedly chuckled.


Quickly checking Xie An’s wounded arm and seeing that it was slowly healing, Xie Shuci exhaled a heavy sigh of relief. Only to find that Xie An was still smiling, he tapped him on the forehead with two fingers, chiding him, “Little madman!”


Nearby, Chu Guiyi dispersed the other cultivators. With the whereabouts of the Patriarch He Lian unknown and wanting to avoid further troubles, he instructed everyone to return to their respective abodes and inform their disciples to be on guard.


After everyone had left individuals from the Hehuan Sect and Helian Jue, followed Chu Guiyi as he approached the duo.


Noticing the blood on Xie Shuci and Xie An, his gaze paused, “This is…”


Grinding his teeth, Xie Shuci spat out, “The work of that lunatic, Deng Fengming.”


“Is it serious?”


“It’s fine now.”


Hearing this, Chu Guiyi nodded, advising Xie Shuci, “Shuci, refining the Subduing Dragon artifact will require time. You should safeguard the bronze cauldron and avoid using spiritual power recklessly.”


Ye Changxuan and Helian Jue, along with others, bowed slightly with respect evident in their eyes, “Fellow Daoist, thank you for saving our lives. Should you ever need the Hehuan Sect’s assistance in the future, we will surely lend our full support.”




Even though Xie Shuci loved to boast, it was always in jest and not to gain anything from it. Seeing them expressing their gratitude so earnestly, Xie Shuci scratched the back of his head, somewhat embarrassed, “I didn’t really do much.”


Chu Wenfeng rolled his eyes at him, “You were on the brink of bleeding to death from all orifices, you fool.” Xie Shuci sheepishly replied, “Just serving the people.”


Chu Guiyi shook his head with a hint of exasperation. Shuci’s thoughts were always so eccentric.


“Let’s get to the main issue,” Chu Guiyi said, straightening up, “Brother Jue, what do you plan to do further?”


Helian Jue’s injuries had significantly improved. At the question, he lowered his head, gripping his red tasseled Cloud-Piercing spear tightly. Suppressing his bubbling rage, he gravely said, “I must stop the Patriarch. Though Little Zhu’s cultivation is impressive, it’s not easy for him to lead the entire Helian family into the top ten of the Sect’s Great Selection. To achieve this, the patriarch will likely continue to manipulate him to seize others’ life destinies. If I’m not mistaken, the deaths of several disciples from the Hehuan Sect are also linked to him.”


The faces of several elders from the Hehuan Sect immediately turned somber.


From his initial denial, Helian Zhu had now fully settled into a state of calm acceptance.


“Senior brother and I share the same sentiment. I no longer wish to be under his control, and I don’t want the Helian family to have another puppet like me.”


Ye Changxuan said gravely, “The Hehuan Sect is willing to lend you both our support, to avenge our fallen disciples.”


Chu Guiyi nodded and then turned to Xie Shuci and the other two, “Shuci, what are your plans?”


Xie Shuci sighed resignedly, “I don’t have much of a choice. That old man will surely not let this secret leak out. Either way, I’m facing certain death.”


Chu Guiyi responded, “You’re right. The patriarch of the Helian family possesses unfathomable cultivation. Within Luofang City, he’s unmatched. If we don’t bring him down decisively, every single one of us here won’t escape his wrath.”


Taking a cue from his modern world classroom etiquette, Xie Shuci raised his hand before speaking. When Chu Guiyi acknowledged him like a teacher would, he said, “Let’s get one thing straight. I’m afraid of death. I’ve got plenty of pills, so I think it’s fine if you give me the formula to refine more. But Xie An and I can only serve as medics… yeah, we’ll just provide cover from the back.”


Chu Guiyi chuckled, “Your words do offer some comfort.”


With a pained expression, Helian Jue bowed slightly to the group, “Thank you all for your assistance. Should you need my help in the future, I’ll face any peril without hesitation.”


“We’re just trying to save our own lives,” Chu Guiyi remarked indifferently. He then glanced at Helian Zhu and added, “Right now, in Luofang City, the only ones who can barely stand against the Helian Patriarch are perhaps you and a few elders from the Hehuan Sect. However, he still needs you for the Sect’s Great Selection, so he’s unlikely to kill you outright.”


Helian Zhu responded with a bitter smile, “But once my spiritual veins are activated, I’ll be under his control.”


Yet, Chu Guiyi countered, “His control over you likely strengthens when you’re asleep, unconscious, or in a weakened state of awareness, which is why you can’t recall anything. You just need to remain calm at all times, ensuring your resolve doesn’t waver. Only then will he be unable to control you.”


Helian Zhu looked stunned, but he dared not make any promises.


Helian Jue then declared, “If you fall under his control, I won’t hold back against you.”


Helian Zhu visibly trembled, lowering his head, “Understood.”


As they were discussing the whereabouts of the Helian family’s patriarch, a sudden sound of combat echoed from the front hall.


Everyone immediately held their breath in tension, straining their ears to listen.


The clashing of blades rang out, piercingly metallic, interwoven with a woman’s voice hurling taunts.


“Patriarch Helian, I truly underestimated you. How could you say something like that?”


“Hand over Helian Jue quickly, or I swear I won’t let you off.”


Hearing this voice, Helian Jue’s expression changed.


Xie Shuci also recognized it. The voice belonged to Lu Jin, Miss Lu.


“This isn’t good!” Helian Jue, no longer as composed as before, didn’t take time to explain to the others and darted towards the front hall.


Having regained some strength, Xie Shuci, along with the others, quickly followed.


“Miss Lu, this is a matter concerning the Helian family. It would be best if you didn’t get involved.” Patriarch Helian seemed unperturbed by Lu Jin’s onslaught. With ease, he parried her blade using just two fingers, his smile gentle and unthreatening.


Judging solely from his appearance, he must’ve been quite the looker in his younger days. Who could imagine that such a dignified head of the Helian family would engage in such madness!


Lu Jin tried to pull her sword free from his grip, but Patriarch Helian’s strength was overwhelming, rendering her attempts futile.


“Patriarch Helian, you’re unworthy of being called a mentor!” Lu Jin’s eyes flared with anger, and her teeth gritted. “If anything happens to Helian Jue, I’ll make sure everyone knows the unspeakable things you’ve done to Helian Zhu! I’ll unveil the true monster hiding behind that facade of yours!”


Patriarch Helian let out a mocking chuckle, “That is, if you even live to tell the tale.”


Without warning, he lunged forward, sending a powerful kick towards Lu Jin’s abdomen.


Caught off guard, she was sent flying backward, spitting out a mouthful of blood mid-air.


“Jin’er!” Helian Jue shouted, launching himself to catch her falling figure.


His wounds hadn’t fully healed, and the impact caused them to rupture once more. Suppressing a groan of pain, he clenched his teeth hard in forbearance.


“Senior Brother!” Helian Zhu swiftly flew behind them, supporting both by their shoulders, steadying their forms.


Patriarch Helian, standing not too far away, coldly observed the scene, seemingly unfazed by their sudden appearance.


“What happened?” Helian Jue inquired, once he had found his footing.


Breathing a sigh of relief upon seeing Helian Jue relatively unharmed, Lu Jin responded, “Helian Yong set up a seal outside the city, claiming you fell into madness, killing elders of the He Huan Sect and several other immortal disciples. He even accused you of wanting to kill Helian Zhu.”


Hearing this, Helian Jue’s eyes darkened, his gaze fixed intently on Patriarch Helian.


Despite being outnumbered, Patriarch Helian’s demeanor remained unfazed. If he had a way to enhance Helian Zhu’s cultivation, he surely had the means to boost his own. Clearly, he regarded none present as a true threat.


Ignoring Helian Jue’s intense stare, he turned to Helian Zhu, his face breaking into a seemingly kind smile. “Zhu’er, you are my most cherished disciple. I have no desire to harm you. Kill these people and stand by my side, and you’ll be the top disciple of the Helian family. Isn’t that the position you’ve always longed for?”


Helian Zhu’s eyes reddened with emotion. That same hypocritical face had deceived him for a full twelve years. It had filled him with boundless joy over his own innate talent and cultivation progress, lifted him to the skies, only to then ruthlessly push him into a quagmire.


“So what’s next?” Helian Zhu asked coldly, “I help you ascend to the Floating Tower Realm, and before anything comes to light, you find a pretext to expose me, pin all the blame on me, and then kill me, leaving you to rest easy?”


Patriarch Helian’s face maintained a perpetual smile, “Why would I kill you if you obey me? Zhu’er, you’re a kind-hearted child. If you kill them for me, this deity has ways to clear your name. But if you don’t when things spiral out of control, I might have no choice but to let the entire city’s residents and cultivators perish for my sake.”


Helian Yong’s words sent shivers down Xie Shuci’s spine.


He couldn’t fathom how someone as cruel and fearsome as Patriarch Helian could exist in this world. Perhaps he was even worse than Xiao Xun.


Helian Zhu’s face went ghostly pale, his figure swaying weakly, looking fragile beyond words.


Standing confidently with his hands clasped behind his back, Patriarch Helian softly proposed, “What do you say? Just to exchange the lives of these few for your own, and the lives of the entire city and its cultivators. Is there really any room for hesitation?”


Xie Shuci felt like he might vomit just looking at Patriarch Helian’s well-dressed and refined demeanor.


“Helian Zhu, if you agree to him, you must have ping pong balls for brains,” Xie Shuci growled through clenched teeth.


Helian Zhu gave him a sideways glance.


Chu Wenfeng whispered, “What’s ‘ping pong balls’?”


“It just means he doesn’t have any brain.”


“Oh, you sure have a way with words when you’re insulting someone.”


Helian Zhu, “…”


Their banter somewhat derailed Helian Zhu’s burning anger, leaving him torn between wanting to laugh or cry.


“Zhu’er, stay resolute,” Helian Jue advised.


Helian Zhu nodded, and although his complexion was deathly pale, his eyes shone with unwavering determination.

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