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Chapter 22

Crimson Purgatory: White bones are fragrant.

In the Star Picking Pavilion, amidst the singing and dancing, the flowing lights, and the merriment of men and women, no one would have thought that two terrifying demons were lurking beneath the tower.

The Xinghen Sword radiated with dazzling swordlight, like a veil of moonlight in the dimly lit room. Poisonous spiders came rushing in but were instantly cut down by the sword.

The Yinshan Ghost Mother was taken aback.

She had initially thought this young girl was bluffing, but witnessing the girl’s movements in response, she realized that her cultivation was already at least at the second stage of the Golden Core Realm.

If she were still in her prime, dealing with Ning Ning wouldn’t have been much trouble. However, after a bitter battle with Lady White Bone, she had expended a significant amount of her strength. Even if she gave it her all, the odds were only fifty-fifty.

She couldn’t afford to be impatient.

She comforted herself, thinking that the techniques of righteous sword cultivators were mostly straightforward. In one-on-one combat, they might have the upper hand, but facing a swarm of poisonous spiders from all directions, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Suddenly, the Yinshan Ghost Mother froze.

She felt like someone had slapped her face hard, and it stung.

That sword cultivator…..What kind of sword technique was that?!

The direction of the Xinghen Sword suddenly changed, and its trajectory became unpredictable. The swordlight split into several shining afterimages, resembling a frenzy of snakes dancing in mid-air, catching the approaching poisonous spiders off guard.

The speed of the sword, the ferocity of the sword’s energy, and the mysterious footwork were all indistinguishable. Not to mention that she is a demon; even evil cultivators will probably scream when they see her, seeing that Ning Ning looks like a member of the demonic sect.

Was this the kind of swordsmanship that the righteous sect should learn?!

Outside the mystical mirror, Zhenxiao Sword Sovereign nodded slightly. “The Pants-Selling Sword Technique.”

He still hadn’t forgotten the incident where his junior sold his pants to buy a sword manual.

“It’s the Golden Snake Sword Technique! She only learned it a few days ago, and yet she can use it so skillfully!” Tian Xianzi ignored him and clapped her hands in excitement. “Adapting to the situation is not bad at all. It looks like all of the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s spiders will be eaten by the venomous snakes.”

“Let’s be patient,” Zhenxiao said with a calm expression. “The Yinshan Ghost Mother is making a move.”

The Yinshan Ghost Mother wasn’t foolish; she knew that she shouldn’t engage Ning Ning head-on at this moment. Most of Ning Ning’s attention was on the poisonous spiders, which was the perfect opportunity for her to launch a surprise attack from behind.

Demons didn’t adhere to the righteous sect’s moral rules. As long as they could win, they were willing to use any means necessary.

A fleeting smile crossed the woman’s lips, and her eight long spider legs coiled in preparation. After a brief moment of preparation, she suddenly exerted force. The Yinshan Ghost Mother’s movements were so fast that they were hard to discern. When Ning Ning sensed a gust of cold wind behind her and hastily turned around, the Yinshan Ghost Mother was already closing in on her side.

Switching sword styles took time, and with her cultivation level, it was impossible to switch to another set of sword techniques in an instant. However, although the Golden Snake Sword Technique was unpredictable, its focus was highly scattered, making it suitable for dealing with multiple opponents. If she were to face an exceptionally strong opponent head-on, her strength would appear too weak.

In this battle, she had won.

The Yinshan Ghost Mother was confident of her victory, but to her surprise, Ning Ning did not show the astonished and fearful expression she had imagined.

The young girl seemed to have had a premonition, and she raised an eyebrow at her.

Then, the swordlight in her hand surged, aiming directly at the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s head.

The woman’s cloudy and dim pupils suddenly contracted.

This sword technique…!

Outside the Copper Mystic Mirror, Tian Xianzi stood up excitedly, letting his robe fall to the ground, disregarding the water cup. “This… this is a move not recorded in the Golden Snake Sword Technique! Ning Ning has actually grasped a technique beyond the basic sword forms!”

Zhenxiao stood with his arms crossed, responding unusually: “Indeed.”

Before this moment, his impression of Ning Ning had merely been that of “a clever person.” She understood the timing, thought quickly, and was able to defeat the formidable Yinshan Ghost Mother with strategy and tactics, which was very much in the style of her master, Tian Xianzi.

But that was it.

As a pure-blooded sword cultivator, he didn’t particularly like these roundabout methods. In his view, a true sword cultivator should draw their sword and use the most straightforward and pure violence to subdue monsters and demons. Even if they couldn’t win, engaging in a thrilling battle was always worthwhile.

However, at this very moment, the renowned Zhenxiao Sword Sovereign couldn’t help but curve his lips slightly.

In the Mystic Mirror, the girl’s skirt fluttered, creating a gentle breeze that didn’t quite match the surrounding environment. Amidst this fragrant ambiance, the Xinghen Sword emitted a crisp humming sound. The divergent starlight sword shadows, which had been scattered until now, converged and united.

The spirit snake emerged from its hole, and countless snake shadows gathered on the sword at this moment, coming together as one.

The dazzling golden light soared high, resembling the ascent of a mighty dragon.

“This move is called ‘Spirit Snake Transforms into Dragon.’ ”

The long sword broke through layers of spider silk and accurately pierced the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s heart. Ning Ning smiled faintly at her. “I don’t practice the sword skill, but Senior Brother won’t give me anything to eat if I don’t. You can blame him.”

Back when she had read the original work, the previous owner of her body had been seriously injured by the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s poisonous spiders. Ning Ning knew those creatures were not to be trifled with, so when she studied the Golden Snake Sword Technique under her senior brother, she took it exceptionally seriously.

As for this last hidden move, she had a moment of inspiration after enjoying roast duck and fish, feeling elated and mentally energized. Her senior brother had then provided some guidance, allowing her to concentrate her power more effectively.

This version of Ning Ning, though not strong, was overly cautious. How could she stumble twice in the same place where the original host fell?

The Yinshan Ghost Mother fell to the ground with an incredulous expression, gradually losing her breath. A small jade-green spherical bead slowly floated up from her heart position, and Ning Ning grabbed it in her hand.

Since it was a once-in-a-century Easter egg, it would undoubtedly come with a very special reward. This Yinshan Ghost Bead, which condensed the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s cultivation and toxicity, was the loot from this clearance.

As the master fell, the barrier in the underground cave began to shake and could collapse at any moment.

Ning Ning picked up the bead and hurriedly made her way out. When she entered the swaying and narrow passage, she heard a deafening rumble behind her.

All the stones from the cave’s ceiling had fallen to the ground, and the walls around her collapsed. The disheveled spider silk and the bloodstains on the walls created an inexplicable sense of eeriness.

The tunnel she was in was also full of danger. The surrounding stones fell like toppled building blocks, one after another, without warning. Finally, she saw the orange light at the entrance, and along with it, a familiar black figure entered her line of sight.

Suddenly, a surge of energy, accompanied by a chilling sword aura, rushed towards her.

Then there was a loud noise as a stone about to fall on her head was repelled by someone.

“Are you alright, Senior Sister?”

Another white figure appeared at the entrance of the cave—surprisingly, Lin Xun, whom she hadn’t seen for a while. When he saw that Ning Ning was safe and sound, he instinctively reached out and grabbed her arm, quickly pulling her out of the tunnel.

After realizing that this action seemed somewhat intimate, a small pair of dragon horns on his head couldn’t help but sway slightly, and he blushed as he quickly let go of her hand.

Ning Ning didn’t pay attention to the faint pink on his dragon horns. She patted her chest in relief and said, “You scared me to death! Thanks a lot, Junior Brother.”

After a pause, she turned her gaze to Pei Ji, who had saved her life. “You too, thanks.”

Pei Ji still had a distant and aloof look; his pitch-black eyes were filled with a hint of ruthlessness after the battle. His voice was somewhat hoarse. “No need.”

He replied coldly, and Ning Ning didn’t mind because she had something else on her mind.

If she didn’t intervene, according to the original plot, the one who would have killed the Yinshan Ghost Mother and obtained the Yinshan Ghost Bead should have been the male lead, Pei Ji.

Although the Yinshan Ghost Bead was highly toxic, it happened to be effective in suppressing the demonic bloodline hidden within Pei Ji’s body. After years of being affected by the demonic aura, he not only suffered frequent physical pain but also developed a particularly cold and ruthless disposition. If he had had the Yishan Ghost Mother’s Bead, he would have felt much better.

…Not to mention that she had taken advantage of a plot hole, and this treasure shouldn’t belong to her.

This fortuitous encounter, Ning Ning didn’t want it.

“Why do you look down on me with such a dead face? You didn’t save me for nothing.”

Ning Ning coldly snorted and, with great dedication, imitated the tone of the original host, tossing the emerald-green spherical bead to him. “The Yinshan Ghost Mother in the basement has already been dealt with. Consider losing this bead as a token of gratitude—I don’t want to owe you a life.”

After saying this, she couldn’t help but applaud herself in her heart. What they called the “Lei Feng Spirit” and the concept of doing good deeds without seeking recognition—even if the male lead would never understand her painstaking effort—after all, she was a successor of socialism, and seeing his pitiful appearance, she could consider him her adopted son.

(T/N: The Lei Feng spirit is the great spirit of the first batch of Chinese Communists. The content of Lei Feng’s spirit is the lofty ideals and firm belief of loving the party, the country, and socialism; the dedication of serving the people and helping others; the professionalism of loving one’s work and being dedicated to one’s work; and the innovative spirit of forging ahead and self-improvement. )

After all, the male lead had suffered too much in the early stages.

Pei Ji was momentarily stunned. “I don’t need it.”

“Take it if you want it, I don’t care about thisbroken beads—Ouch!”

Ning Ning didn’t finish her sentence before someone knocked her on the head heavily.

When she opened her eyes again, the splendid palace and clouds in front of her had all dissipated, and the three of them had returned to Tian Xianzi’s humble little courtyard.

“What kind of broken beads is this? It’s called the Yinshan Ghost Mother Bead, a top-grade treasure that condenses most of the Yinshan Ghost Mother’s lifetime cultivation.”

Tian Xianzi chuckled helplessly. “You, this girl, I was planning to praise your performance today, but in the end, you don’t even know the value of this item? No wonder you’re broke.”

Ning Ning wrinkled her nose and pouted.

Clearly, Master, you are the last person qualified to say such a thing!

“During your visit to the Star-Picking Pavilion, both I and my senior brother Zhenxiao were watching,” Tian Xianzi said.

“Lin Xun’s character has softened a bit, and with the rise of sword qi, it’s inevitable that his sword intent won’t be as overbearing. Pei Ji, on the other hand, is meticulous in his thoughts, and his sword talent is innate. He’s a natural-born sword cultivator, but it’s a pity his murderous intent is too strong. As for Ning Ning—girl, how did you figure out the clues in the Star-Picking Pavilion?”

Ning Ning touched her nose and casually replied, “I sensed a demonic aura underground, but according to what my senior brothers and sisters have said, the Star-Picking Pavilion doesn’t have a basement. Then, thinking back to the records about opportunities in ‘The Secret Stories of the Floating Butcher,’ I guessed it was the Yinshan Ghost Mother.” (T/N: The secret of the floating butcher is a folktale, so if you are interested in reading about it,you can go to this link: https://www.163.com/dy/article/G4R8QE4S05415TI3.html.)

Tian Xianzi laughed heartily. “Well done! Brave yet meticulous, and you even grasped a variation of the Golden Snake Sword Technique. Today, you were the best.”

He smiled with a twinkle in his eye and reached into the other side of his robe, saying, “I’ve specially prepared a little gift for you as a reward. There’s not much good stuff here in your master’s place, so I hope you won’t dislike it—take this and go eat whatever you want.”

Ning Ning’s eyes immediately lit up.

Anything she wanted to eat! That had to be a lot of money! No, perhaps it wasn’t money but some kind of super high-level token that would make everything change color as soon as she took it out. The cafeteria aunties would all bow down to her, submitting to her under her pomegranate skirt!

Thank you, Master! Master is the best! Even among poor people, there is true love and affection!

Then Ning Ning’s smile froze on her face.

Tian Xianzi chuckled, his right hand moved slightly, and he pulled out a pair of…

A pair of chopsticks.

Ning Ning: Pupil earthquake.

“Take the chopsticks and go eat whatever you want.”

Excellent logic; full marks. You truly live up to your reputation, Master.

After giving her the chopsticks, Tian Xianzi offered some commentary and was then pulled away by his senior brother to spar.

Lin Xun, who looked dejected, returned to his room to ponder sword intent, leaving only Ning Ning and Pei Ji in the courtyard.

Pei Ji intended to return the Yinshan Mother Ghost Bead to her.

He had never accepted anything from anyone, nor had anyone been willing to give him anything. Previously, Ning Ning had thought this was just a useless bead, so it made sense to throw it to him. Now that Tian Xianzi has revealed its true value, she must be regretting her recklessness.

The black-clothed youth furrowed his brow slightly and spoke in a low, somewhat unnatural voice, “Senior sister.”

Why was he calling her?

When Ning Ning turned around, she saw Pei Ji’s pair of dark and forbidding phoenix eyes. Although they had a seductive shape, they were tainted with a hint of chilling coldness, like a wolf staring at her.

The male lead probably didn’t like his spoiled and arrogant senior sister. His sudden approach—could it be…

Ning Ning quickly tucked the chopsticks she was holding into her bosom. “Why are you looking at me like that? Are you jealous that I have chopsticks? I won’t give them to you.”

Joking aside, the vicious female supporting character wouldn’t be so generous. The male lead must not be happy that her master appreciated her and even gave her a pair of chopsticks. He probably wanted to scrutinize even a pair of chopsticks.

Didn’t she already give him the Yinshan Mother Ghost Bead!

Pei Ji:…

He held that invaluable bead in his hand; how could she only see those wooden chopsticks?

However, Ning Ning didn’t give him a chance to explain. She turned around and disappeared in a flash.

“My goodness, the Yinshan Mother Ghost Bead, a treasure worth hundreds of years, she just gave it to you like that? I think this girl is either foolish or likes you.”

Cheng Ying drew in a sharp breath and concluded with emphasis, “But how could a person be that foolish? It doesn’t seem human at all. So, she definitely likes you.”

Pei Ji didn’t speak and lowered his gaze to the Yinshan Mother Ghost Bead in his hand.

The nail-sized round bead was lush green and seemed to exude a hint of seduction in the sunlight. Its dazzling emerald color was charming, as if it could instantly penetrate into one’s heart.

Since he could remember, he had lived through his mother’s scolding and neglect.

The nearby children all knew he was the son of a demon cultivator, and out of fear of the demon race, no one wanted to be his friend. Instead, they often gathered together to corner him and beat him up.

This was the first time someone had been willing to give him a gift.

Moreover, it was such a precious item.

It was like a child who had never tasted candy suddenly getting a taste of sweetness. Even though the candy was delicious, for Pei Ji, who had never known what sweetness was, the most he felt was confusion and bewilderment.

He didn’t understand why Ning Ning was being kind to him.

Especially… he looked like this, utterly despicable.

In his ears, Cheng Ying’s chatter continued, “This girl is so good! She’s beautiful, kind-hearted, and always finds ways to help you. If I were you, I would have already fallen under the enchantress’s charm. Hey, don’t go! Pei Ji, where are you going?”

The youth with rosy lips and white teeth neatly put away the bead, but his eyes still held an impenetrable shadow. “Sword practice.”


Ning Ning spent several days recovering in the small courtyard and received a new task prompt from the system.


[After the battle at Star Picking Pavilion, you were bored and had nothing to do. You planned to go to Qingxu Valley for relaxation but unexpectedly encountered the elder Xuanxu, Wen Hemian, who has lost all his cultivation.]

[Please follow the established plot and humiliate Wen Hemian.]

Oh, oh, oh! Finally, it’s this guy’s turn!

In the original story, besides the male lead, Ning Ning was most impressed by this elder, Wen Hemian.

Wen Hemian, born with a sword spirit and a young genius, was the youngest elder in the Xuanxu Sword Sect’s history. Unfortunately, ten years ago, during the battle between immortals and demons, he suffered heavy injuries despite jointly defeating the Demon Lord with several other experts. His spiritual bones were broken, his sea of consciousness was shattered, and he lost all his cultivation.

Since then, he has been living in Qingxu Valley. The disciples all knew that an elder lived there and wisely refrained from going there.

But the original protagonist, after being wounded at Star Picking Pavilion, was in a bad mood and, out of a bold and fearless attitude, actually barged in.

Speaking of Wen Hemian’s relationship with the original protagonist, the two had quite a history.

From birth, the original protagonist displayed astonishing spiritual energy. One day, when Wen Hemian passed by the Ning family’s mansion and saw her, out of admiration for her talent, he openly expressed that if she grew up and aspired to the path of immortality, she could come to the Xuanxu Sect at any time and become his disciple.

However, when the original protagonist finally grew up, the protracted battle between immortals and demons began, followed by the fall of the young genius and his secluded life in Qingxu Valley.

If nothing unexpected had happened, Wen Hemian should have been her master.

Perhaps it was precisely because of this that the original protagonist had such a terrible attitude towards Wen Hemian.

She believed that her master should hold a high position, and to her, someone like him who had become a useless cripple was nothing more than a joke.

Little did she know that Wen Hemian had unexpectedly regained his power later in the story due to some fortuitous encounter. When she went to call him her master again at that time…

Ning Ning felt so awkward when she read that part of the story.

Qingxu Valley was a place for the immortal sect to recuperate and rest. Distant peaks were hidden in the flowing clouds, and passing through a narrow one-way path led to a secluded valley filled with lush greenery.

Gentle breezes circled around, the water was calm, and the fragrance of flowers intermingled with the shadows of trees. The verdant branches were bathed in fragmented sunlight, and the slender spring colors were accompanied by the songs of orioles and swallows, with drifting petals falling gracefully, creating a pool of delicate pink.

Ning Ning heard the sound of a zither.

She had studied music theory and had some talent for music. She could tell that although the zither music was long-lasting and elegant, it concealed a lingering sorrow, like an undispellable melancholy.

This was the first encounter between her and Wen Hemian, as described in the book.

Wen Hemian, frustrated and unfulfilled, played music and the zither in the valley. The original protagonist had long looked down on him, not only being disrespectful in words but also directly smashing his ancient zither with a large stone.

There’s always someone who takes unnecessary risks, and then there’s someone who takes even more reckless risks.

Everyone she provoked in the past became a powerful figure later on. With her luck, she could be considered a reverse lottery winner—a villa by the sea.

Ning Ning expressionlessly picked up a large stone and followed the direction of the zither music.

She walked slowly, but for some reason, she suddenly stopped without any warning.

Ning Ning: ?

Ning Ning tried to exert force with her right leg, but it wouldn’t move. The same went for her left leg. Her whole body felt like it had lost its strength, frozen in place.

“Wait, wait, what’s going on here?”

Ning Ning mentally poked the system, and the voice that had been pretending to be dead for millennia finally appeared reluctantly:

[You’ve been poisoned by the Enchanting Flower. These flowers are concentrated in Qingxu Valley. When anyone below the Nascent Soul stage smells their fragrance, they will experience temporary paralysis for the duration of one incense stick. Once you get used to it, the paralysis will gradually wear off.]

Oh no.

She had to stand here for the duration of one incense stick. Wen Hemian wouldn’t just leave her here, right? How come the original protagonist never encountered something like this? Was her luck even worse than the original protagonist’s?

Wasn’t this like queuing for food in the cafeteria, where you always get the SSR character when it’s your turn, and you can only get the guaranteed character?

Ning Ning’s mind was filled with question marks, and soon, those question marks gathered together and turned into a big exclamation mark.

She still had the stone in her hand.

But she had no strength left.

Realizing what was about to happen, Ning Ning chose to laugh her way through it.

There was once a perfect opportunity to commit suicide in front of her, but she didn’t cherish it and only regretted it when she lost it. If God could give her another chance, Ning Ning would say to the stone:

So, your falling speed isn’t “5 centimeters per second” after all.

The stone fell and hit her right on the top of her foot.

Her five trembling fingers curled together, shaking intensely. She finally understood what tenderness meant.

The gentle wind blew, and the clouds dispersed.

So, when Wen Hemian looked up, he happened to see a graceful figure in the distance.

A beautiful young girl stood alone beneath a thousand-year-old tree, surrounded by blooming white flowers.

She stood straight, wandering in the desolation of the valley, allowing the gentle breeze to caress her jet-black hair and the edges of her pure white dress, creating a patch of dappled shade and fragrance. As she walked silently, her expression was cold, melancholic, and lonely.

They looked at each other in silence, and in the melody played by him, a tear slid from the girl’s eyes.

Wen Hemian couldn’t help but pause for a moment.

This piece of music concealed endless sorrow, yet it didn’t easily reveal itself. Others who heard it described it as peaceful and refreshing.

Only she, after listening, shed tears.

This… this understanding was beyond compare!

When Ning Ning saw that he had seen her, she couldn’t care about anything else. She struggled to move her lips, using lip language to squeeze out a few crooked words: “Master, save me! Please come and help!”

Wen Hemian looked at her silently, trying to discern her lip movements.

Let go of old dreams…get rid of them quickly?

What an understanding and polite junior disciple, speaking so gently. She must have been aware of his plight and was offering comfort.

But escaping from past nightmares was not so easy.

Wen Hemian gently shook his head in response, answering with his zither music. He increased the strength in his hands, and the music became even more plaintive.

Seeing him sitting there shaking his head, Ning Ning wanted to spit blood from the depths of her heart. She cried even harder.

This old bitch! Not only did he not come to help her, but he also played the zither even more joyfully! Please, just be human for once!!!

Wasn’t it because she didn’t become his disciple back then? Wasn’t it just because she had a slightly spoiled personality? She was still just a child, sob sob sob!

The music grew heavier, rustling the grass and stirring the wind.

Wen Hemian’s long eyelashes drooped, and his pale lips, which had been tightly pursed, curved slightly.

The girl indeed sensed something in her heart, hearing the increasingly poignant core of his music. She not only showed a sadder expression but also continued to shed tears, for who knows how long it had been?

Finally, someone was willing to come and see this forgotten and discarded recluse, and someone could understand the music he played.

It was a rare meeting of kindred spirits, and the melody was unbreakable.

The young man, who had been lonely for a long time, played his music without hesitation as a token of gratitude to the unknown young girl. He continued to pluck the strings.

He saw that the girl had been crying all this time, presumably recalling some painful memories that made her emotional.

Everyone carries secrets in their hearts, and he didn’t want to disturb her, so he sat quietly in place, patiently waiting for her to finish crying.

Meanwhile, Ning Ning’s toes remained swollen.

In her heart, she continued to rap out the curses she wanted to say to him, synchronized with the plucking of the zither.

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