the small choices you made in your day-to-day life. 

Cultivation was much the same.
It required withstanding the solitude and tedium, but at the same time, it took reflection and self-discipline.
Only then could you persist day after day in perpetuity.

With Su Yi’s temperament, he wouldn’t skip his daily cultivation unless he truly couldn’t extricate himself from his situation. In other words, Su Yi could let most worldly affairs go, but he always gave his cultivation his full attention and effort. 

Time slipped by.

It was late at night when the fighting finally died down.

Zhang Yiren was injured in battle, and of his thirty-seven elites, eleven fell, while the others all had varying degrees of injuries.

Of the eight hundred captive beasts, over a hundred died, while some took advantage of the chaos to flee into the river.
In the end, only five hundred were recaptured and returned to their cages.

At the same time, five of the would-be assassins died in battle.
Three were captured alive, and the remaining six escaped into the waters of the Great Azure.

It was only after the curtain fell on tonight’s battle that Zhang Yiren investigated and discovered the reason the tower ship had shaken so violently: they’d collided with massive chains stretched all the way across the river. 

The chains went all the way across, and there were around ten of them, each about as thick as a tree trunk.
All were underwater, making them difficult to discover.

From this, Zhang Yiren could determine that their enemies had been preparing this ambush for quite some time! Otherwise, they couldn’t possibly have placed chains large enough to stretch and block the entire river on short notice. 

Fortunately, the damage to the boat was minimal.
If the ship sank, their losses would have been unimaginable. 

The first pavilion. 

The candlelight illuminated Qing Jin’s beautiful but pallid face.
Her skin emanated a faint glow, and her ponytail had come undone.
Her long hair was in disarray, an undercurrent of exhaustion amidst her indolence. 

She’d already taken several recovery medicines, and she was currently meditating.

Not far away, the purple-robed youth was listening to his subordinate, Zhang Duo’s report.
His expression changed erratically. 

Finally, his eyes glinted with icy light.
“We cannot allow the three assassins we captured alive to die.
Even if they’re the type that values money more than their lives, we have to pry their mouths open and figure out just who they were working for!”

Zhang Duo said solemnly, “Yes, sir!’

“Have Li Mo go investigate the Garden of Blossom’s Cha Jin.
For now, don’t alert her: everything is to happen in secret.”

Zhang Duo was a bit confused, but he nevertheless nodded his assent.

The youth pondered in silence for a moment, then added, “Also, prepare a generous gift.
I’m going to visit Su Yi in the ninth pavilion tomorrow morning.”

This time, Zhang Duo was happy to agree.
“It was Young Lord Su that turned back the tides tonight.
He didn’t just save your life; he saved all of us from certain doom too.
It’s only right that we thank him generously.”

The youth waved him away.
“Go on.”

Zhang Duo turned and left. 

The youth let out a long breath, then plopped into his chair, looking deeply exhausted. Tonight’s peril left him completely on edge.
It was only after he finally relaxed that exhaustion washed over him, both physically and mentally.

But when he considered how close he’d come to death, he felt irrepressible rage growing within him, and his gaze turned dark and sinister. 

“You already suspect someone, don’t you?” said a certain uniquely magnetic voice.

The youth’s heart shook.
He didn’t know when, but the meditating Qing Jin had opened her eyes, and she was staring right at him.

“That’s right.” He nodded, his tone grave and a bit icy.
“Only my third brother knew about this operation.
I suspect that even if he isn’t the one behind this, he’s almost certainly the reason word of our expedition leaked.” 

“Haven’t you always had a good relationship with His Third Highness?” asked Qing Jin in confusion.

The purple-robed youth sighed.
“We’re both Imperial Father’s sons.
We might be siblings, but we were born into the imperial family.
Brothers with qualifications to succeed the throne are each other’s greatest enemies.” 

When he said this, he shook his head in dejection.
It seemed he was unwilling to discuss this matter any further.

“The mundane world’s squabbles over imperial power are ultimately as immaterial as the passing clouds.
Alas, those directly involved will never understand this,” said Qing Jin with a hint of mockery.
“Allow me to warn you in advance: as soon as this operation is over, I’ll return immediately to my sect.”

The purple-robed youth froze, stunned, then laughed bitterly.
“I’ve long since predicted that with your pure, lofty disposition, you couldn’t possibly remain by my side.
I just didn’t expect that this day would come so quickly.”

Qing Jin’s expression was perfectly tranquil.
“I single-mindedly pursue the Dao.
How could I ingratiate myself to mundane powers for personal profit? And you needn’t act so pitiful; with your status, roping in a few Martial Dao Grandmasters should be easy.”

When he saw her put everything out in the open, the youth got his emotions under control and said no more.

But then, he suddenly recalled something, and his expression went a little strange.
“Martial Aunt, there’s something else I’m afraid I must tell you.”

“What is it?”

“That Su Yi guy told me to remind you not to forget what you said today.”

When she heard that, Qing Jin froze.
Then, her sharp eyes narrowed, her peerlessly beautiful face suddenly rigid.
She felt a wave of discomfort, as well as a thread of something strange and indescribable. 

That guy…

Don’t tell me he’s set his sights on me?

Beneath the candlelight, a beauty’s heart rolled like the tide, and her delicate eyebrows knit together.

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