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Chapter 136

Ming Kong and Ming Jing quickly said their goodbyes and left, while Ning Ning and her group followed Qiao Yan back to the small house by the waterfall to rest for a while.

The little fox couldn’t stop thinking about the two monks and asked while walking, “My parents often say that the cultivation world is full of young talents. Are they referring to people like them?”

Ning Ning paused for a moment and replied, “Well, the new generation always needs to innovate and improve on the foundation laid by the previous one. Otherwise, how can the new waves push the old ones onto the shore?”

By the time they returned to the waterfall, it was almost evening. After a hard day’s work, they had achieved nothing but fetching water with a bamboo basket. They ended up with nothing but tokens, and the mysteries only deepened, leaving everyone completely puzzled.

The demon clan in the Water Mirror formation, the fate of the Spirit Fox lineage, and most importantly, the whereabouts of the Sun Blaze Bow—all were shrouded in fog. Ning Ning could only catch a faint glimpse of the truth, unable to see the full picture clearly.

Qiao Yan, with her impatient nature, hurriedly led everyone to find Qin Niang after returning to the settlement. Her ears drooped softly as she briefly recounted the events.

“The Sun Blaze Bow… is missing?”

The woman in the wheelchair coughed lightly, her delicate brows furrowing slightly. “How could it be… cough!”

Halfway through her sentence, she looked directly at her daughter beside her. “I told you long ago not to venture to the Western Mountains. The Fire Phoenix and the demon clan are beyond your ability to handle. If you act recklessly and something unexpected happens, what then?”

“I-I just wanted to save you all!”

Qiao Yan, feeling cornered, clenched her teeth and said, “The Water Mirror formation is weakening. If the demon clan breaks through it one day—”

“Xiao Yan.”

Qin Niang gently held her trembling, cold hand. “We are already on the brink of death, barely surviving on the spiritual energy within this secret realm. If we leave this place, we will quickly die from spiritual energy depletion. Listen to me: when the young Taoists finish their training and the secret realm’s gate opens, leave with them.”

For the first time, the mother and daughter broke the fragile barrier between them, laying the truth bare.

Qiao Yan’s eyes reddened as she shook her head, unwilling to agree.

“Even when we gathered the strength of our entire clan, we couldn’t eliminate the demon clan. What makes you think having the Sun Blaze  Bow would change anything?”

Qin Niang continued, “It’s been several years since the great battle. The underwater demons have likely recovered much of their strength, waiting to break free from the formation. You alone cannot eradicate them—especially since the Sun Blaze Bow’s whereabouts are still unknown.”

With these words, Qiao Yan was left speechless.

Ning Ning looked at her with some concern and softly asked Qin Niang, “Speaking of this matter, do you have any clues?”

The woman’s face was even paler than it had been during the day, indicating that her spiritual energy was continuously depleting and that she couldn’t sustain herself for much longer. “The Sun Blaze Bow has always been hidden within a secret chamber, and only the clan leader could retrieve it. Before the great battle, the jade pendant was always kept by my husband, but it was later seized by the Fire Phoenix. I do not know the details.”

She paused, hesitating. “Perhaps the demon clan used a trick to steal it, or there was a—”

At this point, she abruptly stopped.

If the divine bow, which was the only means of defense, had been stolen, it was either the work of the demon clan or there was a traitor among the Spirit Fox clan. As for who the betrayer might be, no one could say.

“Even if the divine bow were still here, it wouldn’t change the situation.”

Qin Niang looked again in the direction of Qiao Yan, her eyes showing a hint of resoluteness. “I no longer care about its whereabouts. I just hope you can live well. Promise me you won’t risk your life again. When the secret realm opens, leave this place.”

Qiao Yan bit her lip, saying nothing.

Her eyes were red and swollen, barely holding back tears.

She had waited so long, finally seeing the arrival of the sect disciples who could defeat the Fire Phoenix, placing all her hopes in that divine bow. Now, all those hopes were shattered in an instant, forcing her to face a brutal choice—

Either escape the secret realm alone or stay and die with her clan.

“The Spirit Fox clan has lived in this secret realm for thousands of years. If you perish here too, there will be no legacy left. This matter is too important. Go back to your room and think it over carefully.”

Qin Niang sighed. “It’s getting late. If the young Taoists don’t mind, please rest here for the night.”

Her words were restrained, but Ning Ning understood it was a polite way of asking them to leave. She nodded quietly. “We understand.”

After bidding Qin Niang farewell, they left the room. Qiao Yan remained in a state of extreme low spirits, keeping her head down and silent.

Unexpectedly, after only a few steps, they encountered two unexpected individuals.

Ning Ning recognized the child pushing the wheelchair as Xiao Zhao, the young fox who had set up the illusionary barrier under the waterfall during their confrontation with the Niguang Island people.

In the wheelchair sat a handsome young man with sword-like eyebrows, starry eyes, and pale lips. His long black hair flowed down like a satin curtain, accentuating his soft, fair face, making it even paler.

Ning Ning quickly noticed that Qiao Yan, standing beside her, had frozen in place and was clearly flustered.

“Sister Xiao Yan!”

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