Translated by Eve
Edited by Wuxian
Since the situation had changed, Sui Yuan and Zhao Xihe naturally did not continue their idle and carefree tour of the scenery. Although it wasn’t time for them to meet up with the protagonist gong and shou yet, the two of them still used the protagonist locator to find Ning Ze and Nan Gongyi who were in hiding.
When they saw Sui Yuan, the only one who was genuinely happy was probably Nan Gongyi. He was pleasantly surprised and shouted out ‘Shixiong’ incredulously. Soon after, he ran right into Sui Yuan’s arms, tightly hugging him.
At that moment, Zhao Xihe’s face darkened.
“Shixiong! How did you find us?! What happened on your end? Were you injured?!” Nan Gongyi impatiently looked Sui Yuan up and down, afraid that he’d see even the slightest irregularity on his family’s Shixiong.
During the previous period of time, Nan Gongyi blamed himself. If he hadn’t insisted on taking a look at the secret passageway, then he and Shixiong wouldn’t have been chased by people who had been after their lives. If Shixiong had been injured because of him, he wouldn’t have the face to see Shixiong again! Nan Gongyi felt that he could truly be regarded as a star of misfortune. No matter where they went, something always happened, and he even implicated his weary Shixiong, causing him to suffer hardship alongside him. Of course, from a certain angle, Nan Gongyi, who carries the ‘protagonist’s halo’ on him, really did have that kind of constitution.
Compared to the pure Nan Gongyi, Ning Ze had more complicated feelings. At least right now, he didn’t want to see the beauty that had always been on his mind before, least not his Chief Protector—that ambitious wild wolf—who followed behind said beauty.
Ning Ze had originally thought that he had concealed himself very well. The hiding place they were currently in was one he had never divulged to anybody else. So, how did these two people find them? If this was all a trap, then the mastermind behind said trap was very likely Yu Hao who was beside him at present.
Ning Ze sensed a dense feeling of danger. Yu Hao seemed to be full of inner force and flexibility in his limbs. Meanwhile, Ning Ze had been injured and had no choice but to seek a place of refuge to nurse his wounds and recover. Hence, if Yu Hao wanted to kill him, then it would take him no effort at all.
Although the beauty was attractive, if he carried a poisonous sting, then Ning Ze did not dare covet him. Seeing Zhao Xihe’s gloomy expression from behind Sui Yuan, Ning Ze quietly gulped and subconsciously walked behind Nan Gongyi.
Soon after, he saw Zhao Xihe face him with a mocking expression.
“After throwing off our pursuers, I was worried about your safety, so I took Yu Hao with me to search for you,” Sui Yuan signaled to Zhao Xihe who had been behind him, and without a trace of politeness, threw all responsibility on him, “He said that you most likely hid yourselves here so we came to test our luck.”
Nan Gongyi bit his lips, glanced at Zhao Xihe, and wore a rather conflicted expression. At this time, he already knew Ning Ze’s identity as the Demonic Cult Leader, and that Yu Hao, his subordinate, must definitely be a person of the Demonic Cult. Nan Gongyi had been taught and raised by his Shifu to follow the righteous path since he was small and absolutely could not associate himself with those of the demonic path. As long as he met one, he would certainly not pardon them. Unfortunately, while he was travelling around the Jianghu this time, Nan Gongyi’s beliefs that had been cultivated since childhood had all begun to waver.
The vicious and merciless killers that had been pursuing them were all vile characters of the ‘righteous path’, acting under the false pretense of justice. Meanwhile, the one who had protected him, and didn’t abandon him even though he was injured was the chief of the demonic path. It could be said that aside from his Shixiong, Ning Ze was the only other person to treat him like that. When he looked at his family’s Shixiong again, it was obvious that he was on good terms with his ‘childhood sweetheart’ who was also on the ‘demonic path’ and were quite close. On one side, there was Shifu’s teachings, and on the other side, there was the reality that he had seen with his own eyes. This made Nan Gongyi feel wedged between the two, not knowing as to which side he should be situated on.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Sui Yuan naturally knew of Nan Gongyi’s struggle. After all, it was clearly written in the plot! If it was before, Sui Yuan would have grabbed hold of this opportunity to brainwash Nan Gongyi, urge him to rid himself of his prejudice towards the demonic path, develop a good relationship with Ning Ze a little earlier, and finally become inseparable lovers with the other. But now, there was obviously a more important task at hand.
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Nan Gongyi would not lie, especially not to his Shixiong. Sui Yuan and Zhao Xihe looked toward Ning Ze and discovered that he wore a depressed and sullen expression and couldn’t help but feel their hearts sink.
“Would you allow me to take a look at the ashes?” Zhao Xihe said in a low voice, expression grave.
Fake ashes were naturally unworthy of being valued by Ning Ze. Furthermore, his life was in the hands of the other at the moment. Ning Ze was a wise man who knew when to submit to circumstances, and thus immediately took out the sandalwood box he had gotten from the secret passageway and handed it over to Zhao Xihe.
Zhao Xihe received the box, opened it up, and examined it. The other three people’s gazes fell on him, each gaze different from the others.
Nan Gongyi’s gaze was full of curiosity; Sui Yuan’s was nervous; Ning Ze’s was one of slight relief.
From his Chief Protector’s reaction, the trap this time was not something arranged by him. Otherwise, under these circumstances, Yu Hao would not put on such an act and would directly kill him off. Afterwards, he could ascend to the Cult Leader’s throne. Before all of that, he could even pull out the real ashes and laugh at him in derision for having tried to steal a chicken only to end up losing the rice used to lure it.
If the real ashes were not in Yu Hao’s hands, then there was no reason for them to fall out as of present. Ning Ze, as the Cult Leader, had greater control over the Demonic Cult than he did. What they needed now was cooperation—they would make a joint-effort to ferret out and eliminate the mastermind who had tried to dig a pit for them from behind the scenes. Then, they could determine who the ashes would belong to.
“It is indeed fake,” A deep inhalation, and Zhao Xihe closed the sandalwood box once again, his tone serious. Sui Yuan and Nan Gongyi both looked disappointed. Ning Ze had been confident in his own judgement and had known that this would be the outcome.
“What do we do now?” Sui Yuan asked, sweeping a gaze over 5237 who was hovering by his side as a signal that only he and Zhao Xihe would understand.
Zhao Xihe slightly shook his head, “For now, it’s not the time. First, we need to determine that person’s identity.”
The ashes were swapped out, which meant that there was definitely a Destroyer present. But it could also be due to Sui Yuan’s unintentional destruction of the protagonist CP. To steal the ashes was but the first step. If it was really a Destroyer’s handiwork, then he would certainly make a much bigger move soon.
“As for them…first, let’s return to the Demonic Cult’s General Forum. It’s safer there,” sweeping a glance over Nan Gongyi and Ning Ze, Zhao Xihe indifferently settled on this arrangement for the protagonists. “We need the members of the Demonic Cult to help make inquiries for further information. We also need to assemble troops as soon as possible and make sufficient preparations, in case we need to immediately fight as soon as we find our target.”
“The Demonic Cult’s General Forum?!” When Nan Gongyi heard this, he frowned. His heart was full of unwillingness to be left within what his Shifu called ‘a nest of devils’. However, when he saw that Sui Yuan did not oppose, he decided to believe in his Shixiong and did not speak up without permission.
Compared to the calm Nan Gongyi, Ning Ze’s expression suddenly turned ugly. It had to be said that Zhao Xihe’s irreverent tone and attitude of dealing with unimportant, powerless people especially when speaking about him greatly stabbed at his ego, “Yu Hao?! What is the meaning of this?!”
“Just letting you know your place. If you are willing to adapt to the circumstances, then I won’t take your life,” Zhao Xihe sneered. His ever-present resentment towards the protagonist gong for having tried to seduce his beloved away from him finally dissipated a bit upon seeing his expression.
“Did you think that if you could control me, then you could seize control of the Demonic Cult?!” Ning Ze saw that Zhao Xihe appeared to remain unmoved. This development that was beyond his control made him feel a faint unease, “Right now, what we need to do isn’t to fight amongst ourselves, but to cooperate!”
“However, I don’t feel that cooperation is necessary. Likewise, I don’t trust you,” Zhao Xihe retorted, his body slightly moving. A second later, he appeared behind Ning Ze. Before the other person could react, Zhao Xihe already pressed an acupuncture point, “Instead of bringing around an ‘ally’ who constantly schemes on how to obtain greater benefits, I am more inclined to work on my own.”
Ning Ze simply could not believe his eyes. He had originally thought that Yu Hao’s martial arts level was still below his own. If he were to assume that Yu Hao’s power was on the higher end, then the difference between them would still be minimal. However, he had never expected that, before Yu Hao’s display of his true strength, he had unexpectedly no power to resist. Even though he was hurt, this was unimaginable!
If his conjecture regarding his strength was false, then what about Yu Hao’s true influence within the Demonic Cult? Could it be that he was deceived by the other in this matter as well? Ning Ze had thought that he understood Yu Hao extremely well. After all, he had been by his side for so many years. However, what he didn’t know was that the Yu Hao he understood was the previous Yu Hao, and not the current ‘Yu Hao’ who had been replaced by Zhao Xihe.
Since Ning Ze had tread on Zhao Xihe’s bottom line over and over again, lusting after his beloved, Zhao Xihe gave him a lesson, although he did restrain his strength. The Yu Hao in the original work could not escape Ning Ze’s machinations no matter how much he struggled. Now, Zhao Xihe only needed to wag his finger as he pleased and he could suppress the protagonist gong who had previously thought that he was unexcelled within this world and make it so that he couldn’t move a single step.
If there hadn’t been a Destroyer, even if Zhao Xihe took his revenge, he wouldn’t so blatantly beat down Ning Ze. He would just make him feel rather hard-pressed and wouldn’t let him know from where the disasters are coming from. But now, the Destroyer’s existence basically ensured that as long as the target was determined, they could immediately change their task. Therefore, why would Zhao Xihe care about what happened to the protagonist gong now? Besides, revenge was naturally much sweeter when done with one’s own hand.
On that side, Zhao Xihe subdued Ning Ze in two ways: he made him unable to talk and unable to move. Nan Gongyi was also stupefied by this unforeseen event that suddenly arose! How did this sudden falling out come to be?! Weren’t we all happily chatting just now?!
Nan Gongyi was indebted to Ning Ze for taking him under his wing during their escape. He naturally cultivated goodwill towards him. Only, he didn’t want to admit that because of the other’s identity as the Demonic Cult Leader. Thus, he looked on helplessly as Ning Ze was bound up. He subconsciously wanted to help him but Sui Yuan pressed down onto his shoulder.
“Shixiong…?” Nan Gongyi looked at Sui Yuan, looking helpless and at a blank. Sui Yuan smiled appeasingly, “Be at ease. Yu Hao won’t do anything to Ning Ze. It’s just that the situation is dangerous at the moment and we need his cooperation. Moreover, this is the Demonic Cult’s private matters. We are outsiders and should not meddle.”
Sui Yuan’s tone was warm and gentle, a tone that Nan Gongyi was very familiar with. Besides, compared to Ning Ze, Nan Gongyi naturally trusted Sui Yuan more. Nan Gongyi calmed down a bit and slightly nodded his head, giving his tacit approval towards Zhao Xihe’s actions.
——This kind of bitter feeling of being completely deserted….
Thanks to Zhao Xihe’s perfect disguising technique, the four people were able to return to the Demonic Cult’s General Forum very smoothly. Even if they encountered any troubles, Zhao Xihe would secretly cheat and use a prop to settle the matter. Who knew from where the idea came from but despite Ning Ze’s intense objections, Zhao Xihe disguised him as a remarkably stunning belle. Add on his ‘delicate, soft, and powerless’ appearance from having been injured and having his acupuncture point hit, he was a beauty that could be compared to a pliant willow swaying in the wind. It had to be said that out of all the troubling matters they had encountered on their journey, most of them were people attracted by this source of calamity.
Ning Ze: “Shouldn’t we be keeping a low-profile—a low-profile, and may I repeat, a low-profile?! Yu Hao, what the h*ll are you playing at here! You scoundrel! Don’t touch me with those perverted hands of yours!”
Nan Gongyi：“S-shoot…I suddenly feel that my face is getting a bit red. How could that happen…?”
Sui Yuan：“…After ruining yourself, you’re trying to ruin others?”
5237 & 0007：“…A man’s jealousy is truly fearful！”
Zhao Xihe would never underestimate other people nor would he ever overestimate himself. Since he dared to shed all pretense of cordiality with Ning Ze, he was naturally prepared. Thus, Ning Ze, who had originally placed all his hopes on having a trusted subordinate save him, had no choice but to look on helplessly as the other got in touch with every single branch and spy of the Demonic Cult and see how the other wore the title of Chief Protector but acted as the Cult Leader in reality. He discovered that everyone in the Demonic Cult seemed accustomed to it, without any sort of doubt. Ning Ze truly had no clue as to when he had been made into a figurehead.
——En. That’s right. It was when he was busy fawning over Sui Yuan….
So far, Ning Ze had to admit, unless there was a miracle, he would not be able to escape from the palm of his Chief Protector’s hand.
The winner is king, while the loser is outlawed. Ning Ze, who accepted his reality, finally calmed down. The only thing that worried him and made him puzzled was why Yu Hao chose to control him instead of killing him. Could it be that he still had a use for this ‘previous Cult Leader’?
Even if the gears in his head turned until his head combusted, Ning Ze would never come to conclude that Zhao Xihe only spared him so that he could couple up with Nan Gongyi, and subsequently curry favour with his own beloved. So, with this kind of uneasiness, they finally arrived at the Demonic Cult’s General Forum.
Because of advanced preparations, when the group arrived at the General Forum, all the members of the Demonic Cult already stood in rigid formation, waiting for them. Zhao Xihe had always been itching to let the world know of the relationship between him and Sui Yuan. Therefore, the members of the Cult who had long since received this information all knew that their family’s wise, far-sighted Chief Protector who had an extraordinary bearing and vigor—or rather, he should be called their Cult Leader now—had already brought back his little lover and intended to wed upon performing their bows after the crisis was over!
Thus, when Sui Yuan, Nan Gongyi, and Ning Ze appeared from behind Zhao Xihe, the one who received the fervent gazes of all the people was naturally Ning Ze who still wore the face of an alluring beauty.
Seeing that his previous subordinates unexpectedly looked at him with such a gaze, and even faintly heard something regarding a ‘bride’, Ning Ze, who was made into a ‘bride’, completely wanted to scream and fall apart! If it wasn’t for the fact that his internal force was sealed, he would have certainly dug out all of these b*stards eyes, tongues and □□, ah!
“What are you looking at?” After seeing enough of Ning Ze’s face having turned all shades of different colors, Zhao Xihe finally happily spoke out to ‘come to the rescue’.
“That isn’t my bride but your former Cult Leader!”
While saying this, Zhao Xihe raised his hand and quickly and effortlessly removed the disguise on Ning Ze’s face, revealing his original outstanding peach blossom face.
The members of the Demonic Cult：“……………………=皿=”
Nan Gongyi silently hid himself behind Sui Yuan.
——He had originally thought that this Yu Hao Dage was inarticulate, honest, stoic, and taciturn. He never expected that upon having his revenge, he would unexpectedly be this demented.
…What to do…how come he suddenly felt that he would be the next one to suffer his revenge?! Da Shixiong, save me. QAQ