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It was late at night, and the indistinct disk of light in the plains still hung over the horizon, giving even the reeds at the edge of the plains a little light. Xu Yourong opened her eyes as she awoke. The crystals in her hands had already become useless powder and the true essence in her body had recovered somewhat. However, it was only enough to suppress the poison in her blood, and could not be used to solve any of her other problems.
With a thought, she retracted her pure white wings. Only when her fingers brushed up against something did she remember that she had rescued a human cultivator.
Her finger rested against that human cultivator's vein, then after a moment, she slightly raised her brow. She seemed rather surprised—this human cultivator did not have that much true essence, and it was not a result of any sort of battle. There was something wrong with the meridians themselves. To be born with such a defect and yet still enter Ethereal Opening and thus obtain the qualifications to enter the Garden of Zhou; one could infer from this just how diligently he inevitably would have had to cultivate.
It was a pity that this person's luck was simply too disastrous. The Garden of Zhou was so vast, and yet he somehow managed to encounter Nanke's two wings. His body was heavily injured, and if he did not receive treatment soon, he would definitely die. The other reason this person's luck was just too disastrous had to do with her current situation. Currently, her true essence was almost completely exhausted and she had lost a lot of blood. It was simply impossible for her to use the Sacred Light technique to treat his wounds.
She stood up and looked towards the depths of those plains as she shook her head, then she turned around and began walking in the opposite direction. Across the pond of reeds, not too far away, was dry land. A little further past that was a forest, and past the forest, she could faintly see a cliff. If she followed that cliff, she would probably arrive at one of the gardens that the human cultivators were gathered in. She even remembered that this particular cliff had many caves.
She silently gazed at the dense forest and cliff through the weeds. Yes, she only remembered, but she could not see it clearly. Right now, her vision was still blurry.
She had thought that the person's situation to be dire, but her situation was even more disastrous. In order to escape from Nanke with that person in tow, she had ignited far too much of her Heavenly Phoenix true blood, and now the poison in her blood had begun to spread. Her vision, as well as the rest of her five senses, had all received serious damage. If she could not promptly make her way out of the Garden of Zhou, she really would die here.
At the summit of Sunset Valley, the phoenix soul had awakened, but so what? Without a fleshly body to inhabit, what did it matter how strong the soul was? Without a lamp wick for the flame, could the flame exist? Would she really die here?
A gentle breeze blew from the plains. As it blew across the water beneath the reeds and weeds, its temperature lowered, and it felt slightly chilly. Her expression remained serene, but the hands that hung over the edge of her skirt began to tremble, as if they wanted to grasp the wind but could not. As she calmly gazed at the mountains of the Garden of Zhou, slowly… ever so slowly… for some reason, she became angry.
Yesterday when she had taken her final leave from the Mountainside Whispering Wood, she had gone to where the senior from Holy Maiden Peak was and learned that Chen Changsheng and the wolf youth had quietly departed. It seemed they had gone upstream of that river. As the next Holy Maiden of the south, she was privy to many secrets. Although she did not know it exactly, she knew that the entrance to the Sword Pool was some place upstream of that river.
Chen Changsheng's original destination had been the Sword Pool.
The upper reaches of the river were separated from this patch of reeds and from the peak of Sunset Valley by several hundred li. Separated by such a vast distance, even if Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu could fly, they still would not have been able to rush over here.
This was why she was angry.
She had never concealed her thoughts on Chen Changsheng, and she had never much liked the fiancé that she had never laid eyes on. However, she and that person had a marriage contract between them after all, so she naturally had some conjectures, and even hopes.
Only with hope can there be disappointment.
As she looked at the mountains of the Garden of Zhou, gazing in the direction of the upper reaches of that river, she developed an ineffable fury towards that fellow. "He doesn't have the slightest grasp of the bigger picture, only knowing how to treat injuries and save lives. Could it be that he didn't see that this was all part of the demons' plan? His actions are so extremely small-minded that it really makes one angry."
The chaos within the Garden of Zhou definitely had something to do with the demons. It was only because she had reached this conclusion that she had walked that lonesome mountain path on Sunset Valley. If Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu had reached the same conclusion and they had pooled their strength, then together with Liang Xiaoxiao and Qi Jian, those two members of the Divine State's Seven Laws, they would have definitely been able to break through the demons' plans.
But Chen Changsheng had gone to find the Sword Pool, so she had given such an evaluation.
She could not have thought that at the peak of Sunset Valley, Nanke had given a similar evaluation of her.
"As expected, Shuang'er wasn't wrong. Normally he'll appear honest and considerate, kind and benevolent, but when push comes to shove, you can see the cold selfishness within. At this time, he still regards the Sword Pool as more important than anything else. Only… why was it that he was like me, rushing around the Garden of Zhou for two nights doing his utmost to save others?"
Xu Yourong creased her brows in thought, then finally came to an answer—Chen Changsheng had done it on purpose and saved all those people for her to see.
"Did he use this method so that… I would get a good impression of him? Truly a hypocritical scoundrel."
Her mood was a little strange, so she no longer thought about it. Turning, she went to look at the cultivator that she had rescued. Because her vision was still blurry, she lowered her head and moved very close to get a clearer view of that person's appearance. His unconscious appearance, with his brows creased tightly together, still gave a honest and calm impression, like one would want to get to know him. His age was around twenty years old.
"He seems like a sincere person. For him to be at Ethereal Opening at his age, perhaps he's some heavily favored core disciple of some sect, or perhaps he was on one of the Three Banners of this year's Grand Examination. It's a pity that he's going end up a corpse in this wilderness."
She had confirmed that she could do nothing to save him, so she could not help but feel a little regret. She shook her head in pity, then reached out her hand and began to search his body, looking for something that could prove his identity. Unexpectedly, she found nothing except a very ordinary dagger, whose surface bore no mark or insignia.
She remembered that when she rescued him last night, there had been a strange weapon in his hands, possessing the shape of an umbrella, but now she could not find it. She wrinkled her brow, then perhaps because she thought of something, she turned around and began to make her way to the dry land across the pond of reeds. The water soaked her skirt, causing her to leave marks on the beach at the edge of the forest.
In the very instant Xu Yourong's figure disappeared into the trees, a thin black silhouette fell like lightning on that patch of reeds.
The reeds swayed with the wind. A strand of Qi suddenly appeared then just as quickly vanished. A little girl wearing a black dress appeared by Chen Changsheng's side. At her waist was a jade ruyi.
The little girl had a cold expression, and her vertical pupils were as black as her dress. All this made that red birthmark between her eyebrows seem all the gaudier.
She was the Black Dragon. Chen Changsheng called her Zhizhi, or sometimes he would call her Hongzhuang.
As she stared at the unconscious Chen Changsheng, the slightest trace of concern and confusion appeared in her cold expression. "Weren't you on the other side of the cliff? How did you suddenly end up here?"
As a noble and powerful Black Frost Dragon, even though she was but a strand of a soul, it only took her a glance to see that Chen Changsheng's insides were riddled with injuries.
If no-one came to save him, he would most certainly die.
"How did you end up together with that woman?"
She gazed at the forest across the reeds, and her brows rose up in displeasure, as she thought to herself, "Chen Changsheng, you idiot! Just what did she promise you? How could you trust a human female?"
For her, the human that had left her the most bitter memories, besides the long-gone Wang Zhice, was that woman, the Tianhai Divine Empress.
Xu Yourong was very much like a young Tianhai Divine Empress. Taken together with that engagement that Chen Changsheng had talked about, it meant that she had an innate wariness of Xu Yourong. She did not have a single good impression of her.
She saw Xu Yourong save Chen Changsheng, then spent a very long time searching for the two. When she finally found them, she unexpectedly saw Xu Yourong leave once more.
This only increased the enmity she had towards Xu Yourong.
In her view, the reason why Xu Yourong had risked such danger to rescue Chen Changsheng last night was because the demons were watching. Now when Xu Yourong left Chen Changsheng to die, it was because there was no one there to see. The reason for all this was because Xu Yourong highly valued her reputation, viewing it as even more important than the lives of others, and even her own life as well.
This sort of woman was truly very cruel, hypocritical, and frightening.
She thought about the letter that Chen Changsheng had once described to her in the underground cave, she thought about those words written in the letter, and an expression of loathing appeared on her face.
To leave Chen Changsheng in these reeds as you walk off, letting him helplessly and slowly wait for his death, is that what you meant in your letter with 'do your best'?
Besides Chen Changsheng, she did not have any good impression about humans, so right now she was very angry. Moreover, she had invested a lot of blood into Chen Changsheng, true blood. She could not permit Chen Changsheng to die like this, or else that blood would go to waste. Then her first priority was to find a way for Chen Changsheng to survive.
How could she heal the wounds in Chen Changsheng's body?
She thought of a method, then an indescribable mixture of shame and rage appeared between her eyebrows, causing that red birthmark to seemingly glow.
"Remember, you owe me yet another life," she said angrily to the unconscious Chen Changsheng.
With these words, she bent over and embraced Chen Changsheng, then nestled into his bosom. Then she turned into a black light and entered into his body.
A strand of extremely cold and extremely pure Qi emerged from Chen Changsheng's stomach, then it gradually returned into his body.
Chen Changsheng's internal organs were covered with a host of fine cuts, each one bleeding incessantly. That cold Qi caused the blood to stagnate and the flow to gradually cease. Simultaneously, both his pulse and his breathing also began to slow.
The water between the reeds became covered with a thin layer of frost.
Chen Changsheng's brow also began to develop a layer of frost.
At the same time, a jade ruyi appeared on his wrist.
After a while, there came the sound of water splashing about.
Xu Yourong walked out of the forest, carrying her skirt as she returned to that patch of reeds. What she had gone to do was a complete mystery.
Seeing the layer of frost over Chen Changsheng's brow and sensing that the surroundings were a little colder than they had been before, she slightly raised her brow, thinking that something had happened while she was gone.
But there was clearly nothing around this patch of reeds.
She took out her Fated Star Plate, her fingers seemingly inadvertently moving across it a few times.
The Fated Star Plate gave no indications. Those lines were extremely disorderly, in complete chaos. Just like how there were no stars in the night sky above the Garden of Zhou, she could not see a single thing in this plate.
Her injuries were too heavy, making it impossible to walk back to those gardens where the human cultivators had gathered. Then what should she do next?
She stretched out her hand and grabbed Chen Changsheng's belt, then began walking towards that cliff while carrying Chen Changsheng like he was a bundle.
Because she was not that tall, Chen Changsheng's face would occasionally dip into the water, causing a splash and waking up a few fish.
Just what did this person eat every day? He doesn't look fat, so why is he so heavy?
So she thought.