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Having received their rewards in the steward's hall, Mo Tiange and Liu Yidao went back to their residence, chatting and laughing along the way.
Senior Martial Brother Zhou returned ahead of them and was currently attending to the spiritual plants, which had been neglected for several days, growing beside his house. When he saw them, he smiled and nodded towards them.
Senior Martial Brother Zhou's name was Zhou Jinan. He ranked first in this time's competition and thus obtained two kinds of rewards, causing everyone to be extremely envious of him. Because they had traveled together in Miwu Valley, albeit only for a short while, his attitude towards them was different from how it was in the past.
After hastily returning his greetings, Mo Tiange and Liu Yidao returned to their house.
Qin Xi and Xu Jingzhi had been waiting for them in the sitting room. As for Jiang Shanghang, they could already sense his breath in his room. Presumably, he had already returned and was cultivating. Although losing must've been a very heavy blow for him, they weren't close with him and really had nothing much to say to him.
The four of them split up after chatting for a while. Seeing that everyone had returned to their respective rooms, Mo Tiange hesitated for a moment but still decided to knock on the door of the room beside hers.
The door opened and Qin Xi appeared behind it. "Junior Martial Brother Ye, can I help you?"
Mo Tiange raised her eyebrows to see him holding onto the door. "Senior Martial Brother Qin, you're not going to ask me to come in?"
Qin Xi gave a faint smile. He moved aside and turned around to walk back into his room.
This room… was different from everyone else's. She hadn't seen Jiang Shanghang's room, but she'd seen Liu Yidao's and Xu Jingzhi's. Xu Jingzhi's room was similar to hers—the bedding and praying mats were provided by the sect while things like teacups and pots were taken from their own homes. Liu Yidao, on the other hand, didn't add too many things to his room. There was nothing else aside from things required for cultivating in his room.
This room really wasn't the same as theirs. The praying mat wasn't the one provided by the sect and she could sense that it wasn't just any ordinary object. There was a green jade tea set that contained pure translucent spiritual aura on the table; it was clearly another extraordinary thing. In addition to this, a furnace was in the middle of the room. Apparently, it was a furnace used to concoct medicinal pills. Equipment to lay a formation was also spread all over the room. Praying mat, tea set, concoction furnace, formations—these kinds of things were the additions to this room and not one of them was ordinary!
Even though she didn't understand the three other objects, she had some knowledge about the formation laid in this room. This was a fusion formation; an amalgam of defending, spiritual aura gathering, restriction of divine sense, and blocking spiritual aura from leaking. Inside this formation, the density of spiritual aura was comparable to the density of spiritual aura in the North Peak!
Mo Tiange thought about the formation. With her and Second Uncle's skills in formation-building, they definitely couldn't make this kind of formation. This formation must've been created by a cultivator in the Core Formation realm or higher and was put on the market. Its worth was definitely more than several thousand spirit stones.
She turned around and saw that Qin Xi was staring at her with a faint smile on his face. Realizing that she had forgotten herself, she directly said, "Senior Martial Brother Qin, since I received the reward, we should divide it up now."
Once she finished speaking, she took out a pouch from her Qiankun Bag and said, "There are 700 spirit stones here. 200 of them were obtained from the identity tablets you gave me before. As for the other rewards, I'm in dire need of Aura-Converging Pills and since Senior Martial Brother's cultivation level has reached the tenth layer, I presume you don't really need them. Therefore, I think you can have the spirit stones and I'll take the Aura-Converging Pills."
Qin Xi only swept a quick glance over her before answering: "Since I said I was going to compensate you, I won't fight with you for the rewards now. Just keep them for yourself."
"Although Senior Martial Brother doesn't want them, I still think it's better for us to divide them fairly. After all, I also didn't want to be too conspicuous and chose to get out of the competition early; it wasn't entirely because of you."
After muttering to himself for a while, Qin Xi took the pouch and grasped a handful of spirit stones from it before throwing the pouch back at her.
Mo Tiange was bewildered. "This…"
"I've taken about 200 spirit stones. Just treat it like you've returned my identity tablets. As for the rest of the rewards, you received those items because you took some risk—I don't want them. Besides, do I look like I'm lacking in spirit stones?"
This… Mo Tiange could only show a bitter smile. Based on the things in this room, this Senior Martial Brother Qin presumably didn't care about several hundred spirit stones. Hence, she had no choice but to say, "Alright, today I'll accept Senior Martial Brother's kindness."
Qin Xi nodded then asked her another question, "Junior Martial Brother, is there another problem?"
"No…" Mo Tiange froze for an instant then helplessly said, "This being the case, I'll take my leave first."
Qin Xi showed another faint smile, obviously very satisfied over her tactfulness. "As you wish, Junior Martial Brother Ye."
He said as you wish, but in fact, he was ushering me to go, right? Mo Tiange's helplessness increased, but since she also didn't want to stay any longer, she obeyed his wishes and left.
Upon returning to her own room, she cleaned herself then lay on the bed, lost in her own thoughts.
This time, her harvest was considerably abundant. 1,000 spirit stones and a bottle of Aura-Converging Pills. Including the one bottle of Aura-Converging Pills she already had, they would be sufficient for her not to worry about spirit stones for two years. She could concentrate fully on cultivating until she reached the tenth layer of the Aura Refining realm.
Nevertheless, when she thought about Qin Xi, she couldn't help but feel perplexed. Truth be told, she just said a few things to try to probe him, not to find out about his secret, yet this person seemed like he was completely unafraid of her knowing that he had a hidden goal. It was as if he was certain she wouldn't tell others what she knew. She wondered why he was so certain about her.
As she pondered the matter, she suddenly got goosebumps. Could he perhaps have found out about her secret and was so certain she wouldn't leak things about him? In retrospect, the way this Senior Martial Brother Qin treated her was indeed slightly different from how he treated other people, yet she couldn't tell what the difference was.
After thinking for a long time and still being unable to understand the reason, she finally shook her head and decided to sleep. Tomorrow, she'd go down the mountain and ask her Second Uncle. Second Uncle had a lot of experience—he definitely could tell her what to do.
She fell asleep soon after she closed her eyes, but her sleep was filled with dreams. First, she dreamed about her childhood. Her mother was still healthy and was cooking in the kitchen while she herself was still about three or four years old, sitting on a small wooden bench watching her mother. She also dreamed about Li Yushan. When she was a child, she didn't know what a Human Furnace was, but now she knew and it made her even more frightened. She then dreamed about Ye Jingwen, she and Second Uncle were taken to Xuanqing School and were treated arbitrarily. After that, she dreamed about Yunwu Sect. Her secret was discovered and she was in the main temple, kneeling before the Sect Head awaiting her punishment.
Mo Tiange woke up drenched with sweat and felt very tired. She patted her forehead. It seemed that she was really scared yesterday. Now that she was awake, she stepped out of her room to fetch some water to clean herself and prepared to go down the mountain.
After going to the sect's shop to pick up the spirit stones she gained from selling the formations at the shop and buying some healing medicinal pills, she went to the little courtyard where she lived with Second Uncle before.
Having opened the formation covering the courtyard, she walked inside. Nevertheless, she didn't have the chance to knock on the door because she already heard her Second Uncle's voice. "Xiaotian?"
Mo Tiange opened the door. "Second Uncle, it's me."
A smile appeared on Ye Jiang's aging face, but Mo Tiange was quite stunned. Having not seen him for a month, the tiredness on Second Uncle's face was even more apparent; his complexion looked dull and old. He unexpectedly got a lot older in just a month! She realized that during her ignorance, Second Uncle actually turned out like this. With Second Uncle's cultivation level, although he had no hopes of reaching the Core Formation realm, he could still look for a little cultivation group where he could peacefully spend his remaining years. However, for the past eight years, Second Uncle had been taking her all over the place to avoid Xuanqing School and racking his brain to earn some spirit stones to the point of being injured.
"Second Uncle…" Tears welled up in her eyes as she whispered, "Did your wounds worsen? Why didn't you tell me?"
Ye Jiang stared at her and showed a faint smile. "Xiaotian… Tiange, I think my lifespan is running out… Even though as cultivators our lifespans are longer than mortals, we still have to face death at the end. You don't need to be sad—this day was always going to come."
Ye Jiang waved his hand to stop her. "I can sense that I have two more years at most. Even if my wounds are healed, this won't change. Nowadays, your cultivation level has reached the eighth layer of the Aura Refining realm. I hope I can see you advancing into the Foundation Building realm before I die. At that time, even if I am to die, I'll die smiling."
Tears had been involuntarily falling from Mo Tiange's eyes, but after hearing this comment, she hastily wiped them away. She took out her Qiankun Bag, poured all the spirit stones and medicinal pills out, smiled at Ye Jiang and said, "Second Uncle, take a look! I defeated a lot of people in Miwu Valley and got these as a reward. They'll be sufficient for me to cultivate until the tenth layer."
Ye Jiang smiled. "Second Uncle always believed you could do it. Rest assured, Second Uncle will persist until the last moment, so you have to cultivate diligently, understand!?"
Although Mo Tiange nodded, her heart was aching. She knew this inevitable day would come. Ever since Second Uncle got injured, he always reminded her that his lifespan was limited. Cultivators naturally had to be stoic when it came to life and death. While Mo Tiange's heart understood this, she still couldn't help but feel sorrowful.
When she was ten years old, her mother abandoned her and now, it was Second Uncle who would do the same. The most important people in her life always left her behind.
"That will do. Let's talk about your trip in Miwu Valley. Second Uncle might be able to give you a few pointers."
Once she calmed down, Mo Tiange recounted everything that happened in Miwu Valley and finally mentioned Qin Xi.
Ye Jiang was silent for a long time before saying, "This person's origin definitely isn't ordinary. From what you told me, his experience in fights of magical power is abundant and he possesses an ample amount of valuable objects… Indeed, he doesn't resemble an Aura Refining cultivator. Unless he isn't really an individual cultivator, he might either have high-level cultivators as elders or he has gone through some adventures and obtained a lot. You don't need to be too worried about him. From his previous deeds, he obviously doesn't have any malicious intentions towards you. Decreasing your interactions with him in the future will suffice."
Mo Tiange felt slightly relieved. "I know, I shouldn't pay too much attention to what he does and I just need to treat him like I did before."
"Correct! Now you should go back and continue your cultivation; Second Uncle doesn't have much time and has to make the most of it."
Mo Tiange was silent, yet in the end, she listened to him. "I know, Second Uncle."