Inside the largest Lingbao Pavilion in Lanling City.

Amongst the countless exquisite and well-arranged display cabinets, there were numerous top-grade spiritual jades and high-quality weapons. Countless cultivators were carefully selecting, comparing, and considering prices. Those who had free time engaged in idle chatter.

One person said, “The Immortal Supervisor? It seems like the major clans have been arguing about this matter recently. Has it been settled?”

“What’s there to argue about? It can’t be a scattered group without a leader forever. Establishing an Immortal Head to lead a hundred clans, I think it’s a great idea.”

“But isn’t it risky? What if the Wen Clan from Qishan…”

“Why would it be the same? The Immortal Supervisor is elected by the various clans. It’s not the same, not the same.”

“Hmph, it’s said to be elected, but we all know that it’s always the same few people contending. When would it be someone else’s turn?”

“Chifeng Zun opposes it fiercely, how many times has he implied or stated it? I think there’s still a long way to go.”

“And the position of the Immortal Supervisor can only be held by one person. If it really gets approved, who will take the position? I think there will be several more years of arguing.”

“Anyway, it’s something that the higher-ups have to worry about. It’s not our concern. We small fry can’t do anything about it.”

Someone changed the topic and said, “Last month, who among you attended the inauguration ceremony of the Cangshu Court in Yunshen Unknown Place? I went, and when I stood there and looked, it turned out that they rebuilt it exactly the same as before. It’s truly not easy.”

“Yes, not easy at all. Such a large immortal mansion, a hundred-year-old paradise, it’s not something that can be rebuilt in a short time.”

“Speaking of which, there have been so many joyful events recently.”

“Let’s talk about Jin Zixuan’s son’s seven-day celebration. It was filled with all sorts of colorful things, but the little child didn’t like anything and cried so much that he could flip the Douxuan Hall. But as soon as he saw his father’s smile, he kept laughing, which made his parents happy. They say he will definitely become an extraordinary sword cultivator in the future.”

Not far away, a person in white was carefully examining a hanging jade tassel in their hand and chuckled upon hearing the conversation.

A female cultivator’s voice came, “Lady Jin is truly fortunate… It must be because she gave up ascension in her previous life that she obtained such good fortune in her cultivation.”

Her companion said, “It seems that being good in a thousand ways is still not as good as having a good birth. People are just like that…”

The person in white furrowed their brows slightly. Fortunately, the sour murmurs were immediately drowned out by other loud voices. “The Lanling Jin Clan truly lives up to its reputation. Even a newborn baby has such a grand celebration.”

“And let’s not forget who the baby’s parents are. Can they be careless? Not to mention that Lady Jin’s husband won’t allow any negligence. If the celebration is slightly smaller, will her mother-in-law or her younger brother agree? When the full moon celebration comes in a couple of days, I’m afraid it will be even more lavish.”

“By the way, do you know that they have invited someone for the full moon celebration?”

“Who?”

“Wei Wuxian!”

There was a moment of silence in the Lingbao Pavilion.

Someone couldn’t believe it and said, “I thought it was just a baseless rumor. Could it really be true that they invited him?!”

“They did! It has already been confirmed these past few days that Wei Wuxian will attend.”

Someone couldn’t believe it and said, “What is the Lanling Jin Clan thinking? Have they forgotten about Wei Wuxian’s indiscriminate killings in Qiongqi Dao?!”

“Who would dare to attend a full moon celebration where such a person is invited? In any case, I definitely won’t go.”

When this statement came out, many people secretly mocked in their hearts: You don’t even have the qualifications to receive an invitation, so how can you worry about whether you’ll go or not?

The person in white raised an eyebrow, finished picking out something, and walked out of the Lingbao Pavilion.

After a few steps, they turned into an alley where a figure in black emerged. “Young Master, have you finished shopping?”

Wei Wuxian tossed the exquisite sandalwood box in his hand to Wen Ning. Wen Ning caught it and opened it, revealing a white jade tassel inside. The jade was translucent, emitting a gentle and lifelike glow.

Wen Ning exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful!”

Wei Wuxian said, “Such a small and beautiful thing is not cheap. After your sister buys new clothes, she almost won’t have enough money for this. Well, I’m already penniless, so I’ll just wait to be scolded when I go back.”

Wen Ning hurriedly said, “No, no. Young Master, Lady Jiang won’t scold you for giving a gift to her child.”

Wei Wuxian said, “That’s what you said. If she scolds me later, remember to help me defend myself.”

Wen Ning nodded and added, “Young Master, little Master Jin Ling will definitely like this gift.”

However, Wei Wuxian said, “This is not the gift I intended to give. It’s just a small accessory. Those things in the Lingbao Pavilion, besides being nice-looking, what are they worth?”

Wen Ning was startled and asked, “Then, what gift did you prepare, Young Master?”

Wei Wuxian said, “Some secrets are not to be revealed.”

Wen Ning said, “Oh.”

2 / 2

He didn’t ask again as expected. But after a while, Wei Wuxian couldn’t hold it in and said, “Wen Ning, shouldn’t you continue to be curious and relentlessly ask me about the gift? How can you just ‘oh’ and not ask anymore? Don’t you want to know what the gift is???!”

Wen Ning stared at him blankly, finally realizing, and said, “…I do! Young Master! What gift did you prepare?”

Only then did Wei Wuxian take out a small wooden box from his sleeve and waved it in front of Wen Ning with a slight smile. Wen Ning took it, opened it, and blurted out, “What an amazing silver bell!”

The word “amazing” didn’t refer to its exquisite craftsmanship, although the pure silver color and the lifelike nine-petal lotus on the body of the bell could be said to be extraordinary in skill. What amazed Wen Ning was the tremendous power contained within this small silver bell.

Wen Ning said, “Young Master, during the past half month when you were locked inside the Burial Mounds day and night, were you actually making this thing?”

Wei Wuxian said, “That’s right. As long as my nephew hangs this silver bell, even the low-grade demons and monsters won’t be able to get close to him. You can’t touch it, and even if you did, it would probably be quite troublesome.”

Wen Ning nodded and said, “I can sense it.”

Wei Wuxian took out the tassel pendant and attached it under the silver bell. The two items complemented each other beautifully, and he was quite satisfied. Wen Ning said, “However, since it’s for attending Young Master Jin Ling’s full moon celebration, Young Master, please restrain yourself from conflicting with Jiang Lady’s husband…”

Wei Wuxian waved his hand and said, “You can rest assured that I will exercise restraint. In consideration of Jin Zixuan’s invitation, I won’t speak ill of him for a year.”

Wen Ning scratched his head and said apologetically, “When Jin Young Master’s people came to the Burial Mounds to deliver the invitation, I thought it must be a trap, but it turned out to be a misunderstanding. I’m really sorry for that. It turns out that Jin Young Master is actually a good person…”

At noon, the two of them passed through the Qiongqi Dao.

After its reconstruction, Qiongqi Dao had already been renamed, and Wei Wuxian didn’t know what it was called now. It seemed that others also couldn’t remember, so most of the time, it was still referred to as Qiongqi Dao. At first, they didn’t notice anything unusual, but as they walked toward the center of the valley, Wei Wuxian began to feel that something was off.

There shouldn’t be so few pedestrians.

Wei Wuxian said, “Is something wrong?”

Wen Ning rolled his eyes and, after a moment, his pupils contracted, and he said, “No. It’s eerily quiet.”

Wei Wuxian said, “It’s a bit too quiet.”

He couldn’t even detect a trace of the non-human clamor that he used to hear frequently.

Wei Wuxian grew wary, whispered, “Let’s go.”

Just as he was about to change direction, Wen Ning suddenly raised his hand and intercepted something.

It was an arrow that was aimed straight at Wei Wuxian’s heart!

Wei Wuxian raised his head abruptly and saw numerous people emerging from both sides and the walls of the valley. About three hundred of them, mostly wearing golden Star Snow Robes, while others wore different colors. They all carried longbows on their backs and swords at their waists, their faces vigilant and fully armed. Taking advantage of the terrain and the others as cover, they aimed their swords and arrows at him. The arrow that was shot at Wei Wuxian was fired by the leader. Upon a closer look, the person was tall, with slightly dark skin and handsome features. Wei Wuxian found him familiar.

Wei Wuxian said, “Who are you?”

The person had something to say after shooting the arrow, but when Wei Wuxian asked like that, he forgot everything and angrily said, “How dare you ask who I am? I am… Jin Zixun!”

Wei Wuxian immediately remembered. This was Jin Zixuan’s cousin, and he had seen this person twice before.

His heart sank. It had been filled with joy about attending Jiang Yanli’s son’s full moon celebration, but at this moment, the joy faded, covered in a shadow. However, he didn’t want to think deeply about it or speculate why these people were ambushing him.

Jin Zixun shouted loudly, “Wei Wuxian, I warn you, remove the curse you placed on me immediately, and I can pretend that nothing happened, without seeking retribution.”

Wei Wuxian listened and was stunned. Even though he knew that he would be accused of denial, he still had to ask and blurted out, “What curse?”

As expected, Jin Zixun treated it as a rhetorical question and said, “You dare to play dumb?”

He forcefully pulled open his collar and roared, “Fine, I’ll show you what curse it is!”

Jin Zixun’s chest was covered in densely packed small and large pits!

These pits were as small as sesame seeds and as large as soybeans, evenly spread all over his body, giving people an eerie feeling.

Wei Wuxian only took a glance and said, “Thousand holes?”

Jin Zixun said, “That’s right! It’s Thousand Holes!”

“Thousand Holes” is an extremely insidious and malicious curse.

Back when Wei Wuxian was flipping through books in the Lanling Jin Sect’s library, he came across an ancient book that described this curse, accompanied by an illustration. The person in the drawing had a calm expression, seemingly without pain, but many coin-sized black holes had already formed on their body.

At first, the person affected by the curse wouldn’t be aware of it and might think that their pores had become rough. However, soon those small holes would grow to the size of sesame seeds, and as time went on, the pits would become larger and more numerous, spreading all over the body like a sieve, which was horrifying. Moreover, after the skin was covered in pits, the curse would spread to the internal organs. The pain could range from unbearable stomachaches to the complete decay of the internal organs!

Jin Zixun had unexpectedly fallen victim to this nauseating and incurable curse. Wei Wuxian felt a hint of sympathy. However, even with sympathy, he still thought Jin Zixun was brainless and said, “You’ve been afflicted with Thousand Holes. What’s the meaning of ambushing me? What does it have to do with me?”

Jin Zixun seemed disgusted with himself and buttoned up his shirt, saying, “Besides you, a habitual evildoer, who else would have done something as sinister and poisonous to me?”

Wei Wuxian thought to himself that there were plenty of people who could have done it. Did Jin Zixun think he had a good reputation?

But he didn’t want to provoke Jin Zixun by speaking directly, so as not to escalate the situation, and said, “Jin Zixun, I don’t play these underhanded tricks. If I wanted to kill someone, I would make sure everyone knew that they died by my hand. Moreover, if I wanted you dead, you would look a thousand times worse than you do now.”

Jin Zixun said, “You’re so arrogant. You dare to do but not admit?”

Wei Wuxian replied, “If it wasn’t me, why should I admit it?”

Jin Zixun’s eyes gleamed with menace and he said, “If you won’t turn back, then I won’t be polite!”

Wei Wuxian stopped in his tracks and said, “Oh?”

The meaning of “not being polite” was evident.

There were two ways to lift the Thousand Holes curse. In addition to the spellcaster undoing it themselves, there was another more thorough solution:

Killing the spellcaster!

Wei Wuxian sneered, “Not polite? You? Just with your few hundred people?”

Jin Zixun waved his arm, and all his followers drew their bows and aimed at Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning at the lowest point of the valley. Wei Wuxian also raised Chenqing, and the sharp sound of the flute tore through the silent valley.

However, after waiting for a while, there was no response. Jin Zixun said, “We’ve already cleared this entire area, waiting for you to come. Even if you blow it, you won’t be able to summon any help. This is the burial ground we meticulously prepared for you!”

Wei Wuxian coldly laughed, “You’re the one looking for death!”

After he finished speaking, Wen Ning raised his hand and snapped the red string that held a talisman around his neck.

After the red string broke, his body swayed, and the muscles on his face began to contort, with several black cracks appearing from his neck to his cheeks. Suddenly, he tilted his head back and let out a long, inhuman roar!

Among the ambush of over three hundred people, many of them were skilled hunters who had never heard such a terrifying sound from a fierce corpse. Their feet involuntarily trembled. Jin Zixun’s scalp also tingled. He raised his arm and ordered, “Fire the arrows!”

Arrows rained down like a storm!

Wen Ning shattered a piece of rock with his bare hands and held it high, blocking all the arrows. After the rain of arrows ended, more than a hundred cultivators jumped down from the mountainside and attacked the two people in the valley. Wei Wuxian took a few steps back and managed to dodge a sword strike.

Jin Zixun took advantage of Wen Ning dealing with the other cultivators and launched his attack. Seeing that Wei Wuxian didn’t have a sword and only had a temporarily useless flute, he laughed and said, “This is the price of your arrogance. Without a sword by your side, let’s see how you can resist!”

Wei Wuxian flicked his hand, releasing a row of talismans burning with green flames, causing Jin Zixun’s sword light to dim for a moment. Jin Zixun was about to laugh when he suddenly became alarmed and quickly focused on defense. The two fought at close range for a while, and then Wei Wuxian suddenly threw something from his sleeve. His gaze sharpened, realizing it was something he had prepared as a gift for Jin Ling. He had treasured it so much, afraid of damaging it by throwing it around, but now it accidentally flew out during the fight, heading straight for Jin Zixun. Jin Zixun thought it was a hidden weapon or poison and initially wanted to dodge, but seeing Wei Wuxian’s changed expression, he changed his mind and grabbed it. It turned out to be a delicate small wooden box with the name and birthdate of Jin Ling engraved on it. Jin Zixun was momentarily stunned, then understood and burst into laughter.

Wei Wuxian’s face turned grim, and he said word by word, “Give it back.”

Jin Zixun raised the small wooden box mockingly and said, “Is this a gift for Ling?”

Not far ahead, Wen Ning fought against numerous opponents, overwhelming them. Jin Zixun said, “You don’t actually think you can attend Ling’s full moon banquet, do you?”

Those words made Wei Wuxian’s hand tremble slightly.

At that moment, a voice shouted, “Stop!”

A figure dressed in white lightly leaped down into the valley, standing between Wei Wuxian and Jin Zixun. Jin Zixun, upon seeing the person, exclaimed, “Zixuan? Why are you here?!”

Jin Zixuan rested his hand on the hilt of his sword and angrily said, “What do you think I’m here for?”

Jin Zixun asked, “Where is Yao?”

Jin Guangyao was supposed to be there to assist them. Jin Zixun used to look down on Jin Guangyao, considering him insignificant, but their relationship had improved since then, and things were different now. So, he had called Jin Guangyao to help. Jin Zixuan said, “I’ve detained him in the Golden Carp Tower. If I hadn’t noticed something was off and exposed him, were you planning to act like this? You’re afflicted with Thousand Holes. Why didn’t you tell me anything and just suddenly intend to do such a thing?”

It was difficult for Jin Zixun to speak of the curse that plagued him. Firstly, he had always taken pride in his appearance and physique, and he couldn’t tolerate anyone knowing about this disgusting and unsightly curse. Secondly, being cursed indicated that his cultivation was insufficient and his spiritual defenses were weak, which made it inconvenient to share with outsiders. Therefore, he only informed Jin Guangshan about the curse and asked him to find the best sorcerers and doctors. Unexpectedly, neither the sorcerers nor the doctors had a solution. Coincidentally, Jin Ling’s full moon banquet was approaching, and Jin Zixuan had personally invited Wei Wuxian. Jin Guangshan, who was never particularly fond of Wei Wuxian, suggested that Jin Zixuan take advantage of Wei Wuxian’s trip to intercept and kill him on the way, sparing the need to involve him in the Golden Carp Tower. Wei Wuxian was Jiang Yanli’s younger brother, and Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli were a loving couple. Jin Zixuan tended to share every little detail with his wife, so they were concerned that he might accidentally leak the plan. They had kept it a secret from Jin Zixuan. Ultimately, it was somewhat unethical, and now that the plan was exposed, Jin Zixuan felt a little guilty. However, their lives were at stake. He said, “Zixuan, keep this from Sister-in-law for now. Once I resolve this curse on me, I will come and make amends to both of you!”

When Wei Wuxian last saw Jin Zixuan, he was full of youthful arrogance. Now that he was married, he seemed more composed, and his words carried weight. With a stern face, he said, “There is still room for maneuver in this matter. Both of you should temporarily cease.”

Jin Zixun was both angry and restless, saying, “What room for maneuver is there at this point? Haven’t you seen these things on my body?!”

Seeing that Jin Zixun seemed about to lift his clothes and reveal the pit-filled chest, Jin Zixuan quickly interrupted, saying, “No need! Jin Guangyao has already informed me!”

Jin Zixun said, “Since you’ve heard it from him, you should know that I can’t afford to wait. Do you think just because he is my wife’s brother, I would neglect the life and death of my own brother?!”

Jin Zixuan replied, “You know very well that I am not that kind of person! The Thousand Holes on your body may not necessarily be his doing, so why be so impatient! Wei Wuxian was invited by me to attend Ling’s full moon banquet. If you act like this, where does that leave me? Where does it leave my wife?”

Jin Zixun exclaimed, “It would be best if he can’t attend! What kind of person is Wei Wuxian? Is he even worthy of attending our family banquet? Anyone associated with him would be tarnished! Are you inviting him because of my sister-in-law? Aren’t you afraid that you and my sister-in-law, as well as Ling, will be stained with an indelible mark?!”

Jin Zixuan shouted, “Shut up!”

Jin Zixuan said, “No!”

Wei Wuxian sneered, “No? What guarantees do you have? Jin Zixuan, I have a question for you. When you initially invited me, did you really not know about their plan to ambush and kill me?!”

Jin Zixuan was taken aback, furious. He said, “You! Wei Wuxian, are you—have you gone mad?!”

Wei Wuxian suppressed a raging hatred and said coldly, “Jin Zixuan, move aside. I won’t touch you, but don’t provoke me either.”

Jin Zixuan, seeing that Wei Wuxian stubbornly refused to back down, suddenly made a move, as if he wanted to capture him. He said, “Why won’t you just yield once! A-Li…”

Just as his hand was about to reach Wei Wuxian, a muffled sound rang out.

The strange sound was too close, and Jin Zixuan froze for a moment. He lowered his head and saw the hand that had pierced through his chest.

At some point, Wen Ning had already arrived by their side. His expressionless face was splattered with a few drops of burning and dazzling blood.

Jin Zixuan’s lips moved, his expression somewhat dazed. However, he managed to continue the unfinished sentence:

“…She’s still waiting for you to attend Ling’s full moon banquet at the Golden Carp Tower…”

Wei Wuxian wore a bewildered expression on his face, just as stunned as Jin Zixuan. For a while, he couldn’t grasp what had just happened.

What happened?

How did everything change in an instant?

No.

This shouldn’t be happening.

After being kicked down by Wei Wuxian, Wen Ning crawled back up and knelt down, unable to speak. Wei Wuxian grabbed his collar, lifted him up, and shouted, “You can kill anyone, but why did you have to kill Jin Zixuan?!”

Wen Qing watched from the side, wanting to protect her younger brother but forcibly holding back. She couldn’t help but shed tears, a mixture of sadness and fear.

Wei Wuxian said, “You killed him. What about Shijie? What about Shijie’s son?! What about me? What about me?!”

His roar reverberated in the Burial Mounds, reaching the outside, causing Wen Yuan to cry even louder.

As he heard the distant cries of the child, and his eyes witnessed the terrified siblings unsure of what to do with their hands and feet, Wei Wuxian’s heart grew increasingly dark. He questioned himself, “Why did I confine myself to this burial mound for all these years? Why must I endure all of this? Why did I choose this path in the first place? Why did I let myself become like this? How do others see me? What have I gained? Am I going mad? Am I going mad? Am I going mad!”

If only he hadn’t chosen this path from the beginning.

Suddenly, Wen Ning murmured, “I… I’m sorry.”

He was a lifeless being, devoid of expression, unable to turn red or shed tears. However, at this moment, the face of this lifeless being displayed genuine and tangible pain.

He repeated, “I’m sorry… It’s all… all my fault… I’m sorry…”

Listening to his halting apologies, Wei Wuxian suddenly found it immensely absurd.

It wasn’t Wen Ning’s fault at all.

It was his own fault.

Wen Ning in his frenzied state was merely a weapon. And the creator of this weapon was him. Wen Ning obeyed his commands. During that intense moment, with the tension in the air and his open hostility towards Jin Zixuan in Wen Ning’s presence, Wen Ning, in a state of mindlessness, mistook him for an “enemy” and instinctively followed the “slaughter” command.

He hadn’t been able to control this weapon properly. He had been too arrogant about his own abilities. And he had ignored all the ominous signs so far, believing that he could suppress any signs of losing control.

Wen Ning was a weapon, but did he willingly choose to become one?

This person, who was naturally timid, fearful, and stuttering, did he truly enjoy killing under his command?

Back then, Wen Ning had carried a bowl of lotus root soup given by Jiang Yanli all the way up the Burial Mounds without spilling a single drop, even though he couldn’t drink it himself. He had happily watched others finish it, eagerly asking about its taste, imagining what it must have been like. Did he feel good now after killing Jiang Yanli’s husband? Did he bear it well?

He blamed himself for all the mistakes while still apologizing to Wen Ning.

Wei Wuxian grabbed Wen Ning’s collar, looking at his lifeless and pale face, and in that moment, he saw Jin Zixuan’s face covered in dust, blood, and filth, also lifeless and pale.

He remembered Jiang Yanli, who had finally found happiness after enduring so much, and he thought of Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli’s son, A-Ling, the child whose name he had given, just a little over a week old, who would smile upon seeing his father’s sword, bringing joy to his parents. In two days, it would be A-Ling’s full moon banquet.

Lost in his thoughts, Wei Wuxian suddenly cried.

He said in a daze, “Who will tell me… what should I do now?”