Chapter 36 - Careless

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“Senior Brother Mu, are we there yet?” Nan Xingyuan was bored as she randomly drew circles in the ground with a little wooden stick and looked up at the yummy-looking rabbit in front of her.

The young man who had been asked this question many times carefully balanced the rabbit over the fire and said with a faint smile, “We’ve got about 350 kilometers to go. We’ll get there by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Okay then,” mumbled Nan Xingyuan unhappily. She quietly glanced at another reticent young man seated beside the fire and whispered to Senior Brother Mu, “Senior Brother, what do you think that person was trying to do?”

Everyone’s expression shifted slightly at these words and looked at Senior Brother Mu for an answer.

“That man snuck into Junior Brother Zhao’s room in the middle of the night and gave him a jade pendant, claiming that Xingyuan’s father had instructed him to protect her in secret. But there are too many questionable areas and I don’t think this intruder can be trusted at all,” said Senior Brother Mu thoughtfully as he pushed at the crackling fire.

He continued, “Junior Brother Zhao has done a good job in making the judgment call to tell us about this secret enemy among us. This fellow was so sneaky, so I’m sure he must be Feng Ran or one of those fellows. They’re probably hoping to follow us and find out where that secret realm is, then cause chaos.”

“What do we do now?” Junior Brother Zhao looked fairly uneasy. He didn’t mean to talk about this at all, but things didn’t go the way he had planned. He had been too careless and just stuffed the jade pendant into his belt. Senior Brother Mu had a very sensitive Spiritual Sense and noticed something wrong with the jade pendant immediately, so he had no choice but to tell Senior Brother Mu exactly what happened.

And after they checked with Nan Xingyuan, she confirmed that this person didn’t exist. If there was someone looking out for her in the sect, she wouldn’t have joined the Way Seekers Alliance in the first place.

This whole thing was clearly a trap. Senior Brother Mu sorted out the details he had and told the other disciples from the Nobles Clan and the Four Directions Court so that they could analyze this together.

There weren’t a lot of internal disciples who would dare to do such a thing. Besides, after you eliminated those who were in seclusion and those who were out on a mission, you weren’t left with many who could even do this. They quickly narrowed their options down to Feng Ran and the rest.

Mo Yuluo was very certain that Gu Suihan was still in seclusion and wouldn’t be able to come out for the next few months, so they eliminated him first.

Everyone was on high alert now. Even though Senior Brother Mu was an internal disciple at Foundation Establishment, he couldn’t possibly protect so many people at once.

“Don’t worry,” said Senior Brother Mu slowly as he pulled off one of the rabbit’s legs. “They don’t know where the secret realm is, and we’ve also split the key to opening the secret realm into three parts, so each faction is holding onto one part. It might be a small secret realm, but it would carry quite some treasures. They’re just hoping to haul some treasures for themselves, or try to ambush us when we’re on our way back.”

“But there’s no way either of these things will happen. There are three internal disciples here and they have barely just activated their Qi, so the difference in our Spiritual Sense is tremendous. As long as all of you are careful and stay close to me, you’ll be fine.”

Nan Xingyuan immediately moved a little closer to him secretly and looked like she was scared and worried.

He raised an eyebrow at her, then said gently, “Don’t worry.” His large hand squeezed her slim waist almost unnoticeable.

Everybody more or less knew about Nan Xingyuan’s relationship with Senior Brother Mu, so they weren’t surprised by his gesture and merely scoffed inwardly.

Senior Brother Mu looked like an elegant, gentle, and well-mannered person, but he cultivated with a dual cultivation technique. And because he was much more powerful, Nan Xingyuan might end up losing everything she had to him instead of gaining from cultivating with him in this manner.

Gu Suihan was hiding in a spot several kilometers away from them with a grim look on his face. The jade pendant he had given to Junior Brother Zhao not only had a fraction of his Spiritual Sense to enable him to keep track of their whereabouts, but he had also set up an Eavesdropping Formation around it so that he could listen in on their conversations as well.

To his dismay, they had been very careful and hadn’t revealed anything about the location at all. And now, he just learned that one needed keys to activate this secret realm. He had no choice but to change his plans and end up following behind them instead.

“This secret realm is more complicated than I thought.” Gu Suihan leaned against a branch and stroked his chin. According to what he understood of these things, a secret realm was usually formed when the barrier between two different spaces collided, and an entrance would appear purely by chance. Any number of people could enter it, as long as it didn’t go beyond what the secret realm could take.

But a secret realm could also have another sort of entrance. Someone could use a spell or something similar to make a mark in the space where the secret realm was and combine it with something else, thus requiring a key of sorts to unlock the seal. As long as one knew the method to open it, the entrance would be forced open and become a teleportation gate to the secret realm itself.

“Hoho. So what if it’s complicated? If I can’t get in, I’ll just trap all of you inside.” Gu Suihan smirked as he glanced frostily towards where Nan Xingyuan and the rest were.

A black pearl about the size of his fist appeared in his hand. It was covered by a protective faint glow, so nobody would know that this was actually the most destructive weapon a low-level cultivator could use – the Expanse Bomb.

This bomb worked more or less like a hand grenade, except that the inside wasn’t filled with gunpowder but with the vicious Dark Yin Demonic Qi. A whiff of this stuff would kill an ordinary person instantly. If a cultivator couldn’t dodge it in time, then in the best-case scenario, the cultivator’s physical body would get eaten away partially. In the worst-case scenario, the cultivator would die.

This was something that Gu Suihan had carefully crafted. Getting the Dark Yin Demonic Qi had been the hardest. He had found it inside a low-grade magic weapon that another external disciple was selling, so after he extracted it from the weapon, he refined it and put it into this bomb.

And as if the Dark Yin Demonic Qi weren’t enough, he had also mixed in crushed fragments of Spiritual Loss Stones before finally casting a seal over the whole thing.

This was meant to be his trump card in case his life was endangered, but it seemed like he would most likely have to use it now.

“Hmm?” Gu Suihan raised an eyebrow when he sensed that he had lost contact with the bit of Spiritual Sense within the jade pendant. Someone had probably crushed that jade pendant to pieces.

Someone had probably discovered the Eavesdropping Formation around it and decided that they had to destroy this jade pendant immediately instead of using it to lure its maker out.

Now, they would think that Gu Suihan would be unable to track down where they were, and everything would go back to the way it was meant to be.

But while Gu Suihan was mildly surprised at first, he quickly calmed down again. He hadn’t been relying on the jade pendant in the first place. He had just been using it in hope of gathering some useful information along the way. He had planted a tiny bit of his Divine Sense on Junior Brother Zhao. It was hiding among his clothes.

Divine Sense was at a much higher level than Spiritual Sense and Senior Brother Mu was only at Foundation Establishment. It was impossible for him to detect Gu Suihan’s backup plan of using Divine Sense to keep tabs on them.

“Senior Brother Mu, what’s wrong?” Nan Xingyuan sensed that his arm had tensed up slightly and his expression no longer looked as gentle or as confident as before.

“I was careless and actually allowed the scheme of a bunch of ants work,” snapped Senior Brother Mu frostily as his gaze lost some focus. “There was actually an Eavesdropping Formation around that jade pendant. In other words, the other party had been able to watch our every move and hear everything we said. What a brilliant move.”

Junior Brother Zhao gulped and asked cautiously, “What are we going to do now? Doesn’t that mean our plans have been exposed?”

“What do YOU think?” huffed Nan Xingyuan as she glared at him before leaning in Senior Brother Mu’s embrace again.

“It is what it is. Sighing in regret is not going to make any difference.” Senior Brother Mu calmed down a little when he felt Nan Xingyuan in his arms, but his voice was still steely as he said, “I’ve crushed that jade pendant, so now neither of us knows where the other person is. I didn’t say anything about the location of the secret realm and they’ve lost our position for now. So to play safe, we need to leave this place right now.”

He then got up with a start and unleased a pink Qi that smelled faintly like osmanthus. The Qi blew through the fallen leaves, swiftly covering the area they occupied and erasing all traces of their presence.

His storage ring gleamed as a gigantic jade Bagua Mirror1(https://www.thespruce.com/feng-shui-use-of-the-bagua-mirror-1275043). TLDR: It’s an 8-sided object with trigrams representing different things on each side, plus a mirror in the middle. It’s meant to reflect bad spirits, bad luck, murderous Qi, and the like. I’m sorry it doesn’t usually fly.] flew out and floated in the air. He said to the other disciples, “Hop on. We need to leave now.”

Everyone nodded and took a seat on the mirror without daring to move at all.

“Senior Brother, aren’t we going to inform the Nobles Clan and the Four Directions court about this?” someone asked meekly.

“Inform the other two factions?” Senior Brother Mu scoffed as he glanced at the disciple who spoke up. “Put aside the problem of whether the other two groups would listen or believe us. Letting Feng Ran and his comrades wear them out a little isn’t a bad thing. This secret realm is supposed to be a tiny one that the sect discovered, but you and I know how important the items inside are. Once everyone is inside that secret realm, we’re going to have to fight hard to get what we want and some will inevitably get injured. So if Feng Ran and his comrades tire the other factions or even kill a few of them before we get into the secret realm, the Way Seekers Alliance will be at an advantage.”

Senior Brother Mu patted the mirror, causing it to buzz and tremble as the two characters ‘Qian’ and ‘Kun’ suddenly lit up, shooting out two golden beams of light. The mirror itself dimmed in comparison, and the flawless white color of the mirror became the same dark green color of the trees around them, so they looked like they were part of the forest instead.

“This spiritual weapon isn’t mine,” said Senior Brother Mu with some annoyance when he noticed how all the disciples were looking at him enviously. “Miss Mo specially lent this to us and I have to return it to her once we get back. I’m a low-level cultivator, so there’s no way I would dare to erase the seal that’s on the inside of this thing.”


The Clacker’s Unstoppable Snack Moment

Today’s snack recommendation: Oven Roasted Cashewnuts. You can do the same thing with almonds, if you fancy them. If you don’t have an oven, a microwave works just as well. MSG: depends on ya ED: Sorry to interrupt Clacker, but I make oven-baked almond’s all the time. Stick some garlic and onion powder on that puppy, a little coconut oil, and you got a really delicious and a (somewhat) healthy snack.

  1. [Bagua mirror ↩️

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