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Chapter 78: Wither
“No, no, no…” The disfigured female cultivator covered her face and begged, “Spare me, please.”
The beautiful female cultivator sneered, released the disfigured female cultivator and let her fall into the river. The disfigured female cultivator climbed out of the river. She lay on the river shore and looked at Kong Hou and the others pleadingly.
“You think that other people will save you?” The disdain in the beautiful female cultivator’s voice grew stronger. “This face is disgusting to look at; it is better you die.”
The disfigured female cultivator covered her face and sobbed, occasionally looking in Kong Hou’s direction. She waited for a person to stand up and say that appearance was not important.
Jin Ling felt slightly guilty before the other’s gaze and tried to hide as though her guilt would lessen that way. Her cultivation was not strong, and she had entered the secret realm in order to broaden her knowledge. Who knew that something had happened to the secret realm. She was only able to survive with the help of Ling Bo, Kong Hou, and Huan Zhong. She did not dare to speak and make trouble for Kong Hou and the others.
“This…” The young shidi of Clear Dawn Sect was young and spirited. Seeing this scene, he breathed heavily. If Ling Bo had not held him, he would have charged out long ago. Young men were always slightly impulsive.
“Yo do not understand women.” Facing the young shidi‘s furious gaze, Ling Bo said using a sound spell, “This nomad cultivator who is prettier has Core Formation cultivation. From her tone, I think that her status in the nomad alliance is not low. A woman like this will not appear so pressuring and harsh in front of strangers, especially apprentices of major sects like us.”
No matter if it was men or women, if they had some status, they would subconsciously make themselves look better in front of strangers. This beautiful female cultivator was very strange, constantly challenging other people’s bottom line.
The disfigured female cultivator was even stranger. She clearly had cultivation, but in the hands of the beautiful female cultivator, she appeared like an ordinary and weak woman who allowed the other to do as she pleased. Other than crying, she did not resist at all.
“Many women cannot help but display their best side in front of good-looking men. Just like most men will appear elegant and polite in front of beautiful women.” Kong Hou suddenly spoke. “Even if she is not interested in men, just by how refined she dresses, she is a woman who cares about the impression she makes. A person who cares about impressions would not display such an ugly side in front of outsiders.”
Ling Bo and Kong Hou looked at each other, finding unspoken agreement in each other’s eyes.
The young shidi of Clear Dawn Sect was stunned by the pair’s seemingly logical but also illogical words. When he looked at the two female cultivators again, he could not help but speculate—were they performing for the group, or did they really have a conflict?
“But why are they doing this here?” The shidi of Clear Dawn Sect stammered out a question—”To play with us?”
“They are not members of the nomad alliance.” Huan Zhong’s tone was calm, as though he was saying the weather was good.
“Not a member of the nomad alliance, these two are not sect apprentices, then where… did they come from?” The Clear Dawn Sect disciple felt a cold wave up his back. He could not see anything wrong with these two female cultivators.
“Why do you not help me?” The disfigured female cultivator looked hatefully at Kong Hou. “Because I am ugly, you do not think of me as a person?”
Her features twisted, full of anger, and nothing like her previous timidity.
Before the group could react, the disfigured female cultivator suddenly reached to the face of the beautiful female cultivator. She tore away the other’s face and put it on her face. She turned and laughed softly. “Am I beautiful now?”
The pitiful Clear Dawn Sect shidi took two steps back in fear and almost could not breathe.
“Since you do not like my face, how about giving your faces to me?” The female cultivator started to laugh. Her body and limbs curved in strange angles. Her bloodshot eyes swept between Kong Hou and Ling Bo. “I like your faces—give them to me.”
She licked her lips with her crimson tongue. “Why did you not help me? If you had helped me, I would have let you go.” The female cultivator laughed and cried at the same time. “I hate you so much. I want you to give me your faces.”
“Because your acting was too exaggerated.” Kong Hou tilted her head and looked innocent. “People who are frequently bullied will not argue so much when they are being bullied. Only silence will let the other act less.”
The expression of the female cultivator froze. Then she shouted, “You lie to me. You are all mad men who judge people on their looks.”
“You are wrong. You are the person who judges people based on their looks.” Kong Hou argued with the female cultivator in high spirits, unafraid with the support of Huan Zhong. “In your mind, ugly people should be useless and afraid, those that are beautiful must be arrogant and unreasonable. You even look down on women, regardless of their beauty, because they will all become ugly when fighting over men.
“I think you may not know that the cultivation world has developed quickly. The female cultivators are busy—busy cultivating, busy travelling the mountains and rivers, busy buying clothes and dressing up—so they do not have so much time to fight over men.” Kong Hou snorted. “I do not know what you are, but I know you do not have a sufficient understanding of the minds of people.”
Kong Hou forced the female cultivator into speechlessness. The other shook and straightened. “You speak nonsense. Five hundred years ago, two female cultivators fought endlessly for a man.”
Five hundred years ago…
Kong Hou turned to wink at Huan Zhong and then said to the female cultivator, “Even you know that it was five hundred years ago. The world changes easily over time. The present cultivation world has a new attitude, a new look. Your traditional perspective is not good.”
“Really?” The female cultivator’s expression turned grave.
“Of course.” Kong Hou pointed at Huan Zhong. “Look at this male cultivator next to me. He has high cultivation, handsome appearance, and is so perfect he is almost flawless. But do you see that us three female cultivators are not fighting over him?”
The female cultivator looked at Huan Zhong. She seemed to think of something and her expression turned slightly displeased. She snorted coldly and said, “Since that’s the case, you have passed this match. You can leave.”
“The common saying is that we have karma if we meet. You are so familiar with the secret realm—may I ask you a minor question?” Kong Hou saw the female cultivator had no intentions of attacking them, and had other ideas.
“No.” The female cultivator threw down the human face mask on her face and threw it hard onto the ground. The face mask disappeared upon touching the ground, and the beautiful female cultivator turned to nothingness.
“Do not be like this.” Kong Hou understood completely. This was not two women fighting over a man, but a test from the secret realm.
The secret realm wanted to test whether they put appearance or inner self first. Based on the present situation, it seemed they had ruined this test.
“I just wanted to ask where is the Cloud Seeking Tree in the secret realm?” Kong Hou looked with hope at the female cultivator who had turned ugly again. She did not move her gaze aside when looking at the other’s terrifying face. “Please, help.”
“The Cloud Seeking Tree will bloom once a thousand years and bear fruit. After the fruit matures, the branches will wither and the roots will die.” The female cultivator’s tone was calm. “There was a Cloud Seeking Tree in the secret realm, but that was five centuries ago. Five centuries ago, the Cloud Seeking Tree bore fruit once and has withered long ago. Even its roots have rotted.”
“Withered?” Kong Hou’s mind blanked. In these days, she had found several ingredients with Huan Zhong. She thought that they would be able to quickly gather them and use the medicine to heal Huan Zhong. But now she learned the Cloud Seeking Tree was gone a long time ago.
Just like how happy she felt when she heard the news from Pavilion Master Sun, she now felt the same intensity of sadness.
A warm hand gripped her hand. Kong Hou lifted her head blankly and met Huan Zhong’s warm eyes. She opened her mouth but no words came out. She felt extremely bad inside, as though a great snarled ball of cotton had been shoved into her which could not be cleaned up.
“No matter. We can search slowly. Even if we cannot find it, it is all right.” Huan Zhong saw Kong Hou’s cheeks were pale white. She appeared unable to accept the news. He hurriedly patted her back. “It’s fine, it’s fine. If this place does not have it, there are still other places.”
Kong Hou slowly recovered and she gripped Huan Zhong’s hand in return. “You are right—we will certainly find it.”
“Cloud Seeking Tree is not so easy to find,” the female cultivator said coolly. “The reason it is called the Cloud Seeking Tree is because it can transform its appearance, and it moves without a trace. It is even harder to catch than clouds.”
“I have good luck, so I will definitely find it.” Kong Hou feared that Huan Zhong would overthink and hurriedly blocked the female cultivator’s mouth. “You can leave.”
The female cultivator: “…”
When she had been begging it just now, she had not been like this.
Were the female cultivators of the cultivation world so fake now?
It rolled its eyes and disappeared into smoke.
Jin Ling looked at the empty riverside. “What was that female cultivator just now?”
“It should be the intelligence of the secret realm,” Lin Hu said. “The image we saw previously and the words Gate of Life and Death were suggestions to us. They will cause us to crudely judge people for right or wrong when we encounter certain matters.”
The secret realm wanted them to learn how to look clearly into other people’s inner selves, to learn how to see truth from lie, and pay attention to people’s personality and not their appearances. However, this kind of testing did not seem very successful on them.
After learning the Cloud Seeking Tree had withered already, Kong Hou’s mood was slightly affected. She feared that Huan Zhong would see this so she kept up a smile.
Huan Zhong might have already seen this. Even if he had not, he did not release her hand.
In the following days, the secret realm was peaceful and Kong Hou’s group dug up many spirit grasses. A certain night when Lin Hu and Kong Hou went into the trees to pluck fruits, they mentioned how Huan Zhong’s complexion had been especially good in the previous days. “When I was transported to another place, did strange things happen?”
“Strange things?” Kong Hou thought deeply. She shook her head and said, “No.”
Lin Hu was even more puzzled. Had Master been affected by the illusion yao and suddenly achieved great enlightenment?
“No, there is one matter.” Kong Hou threw the fresh fruits to Lin Hu. “I performed paired cultivation with Huan Zhong.”
“Paired cultivation?” Lin Hu looked at Kong Hou’s small body. Miss Kong Hou was so young. Master…
“Finished?” Huan Zhong appeared behind them with an expression of great calmness.
Translator Ramblings: Mwhahaha, the poor secret realm spirit. So out of step with time.