The young soldier hesitated and asked, “Why?”

Xie Lian replayed in his mind the moves and gestures he used to kill the minions earlier. He gestured a few times casually and said, “Have you ever tried using a knife? When you use a sword, the sword technique is elusive. Although it is fast and ruthless, it seems a bit constrained and unable to fully unleash its potential. If you haven’t used a knife before, you should try it next time. I think it might be more powerful.”

Whenever he saw someone’s brilliant moves, he couldn’t help but want to exchange a few words, not to give instructions, but to have an interesting discussion. Due to his extensive combat experience, he often knew the essence of things at a glance, but sometimes couldn’t explain the reason behind it. He just felt that it must be that way. Most people respected his status and just listened, rarely genuinely pondering whether his words made sense. However, this young soldier listened attentively, seemingly contemplating and occasionally looking at the sword in his hand. After saying a few words, there was a sudden rustling sound in the dark forest, as if something was swiftly crawling past. Xie Lian immediately remembered that they were still in a dangerous situation, and his enthusiasm seemed inappropriate at the moment. He immediately composed himself and said seriously, “We don’t know if there are any other evil creatures on this mountain. We need to thoroughly clean it up.”

The young soldier nodded vigorously, offering his iron sword with both hands. Xie Lian shook his head and said, “You protect yourself. You can’t leave now since we’re in danger. I’ll do my best to protect you, but you need to stay vigilant.”

At that moment, the grass rustled again, and something swiftly darted by. Xie Lian swung his hand and delivered a palm strike, directly hitting it. The thing let out a miserable cry and stopped moving. Xie Lian smelled a strong scent of blood and couldn’t help but wonder. If it was a minion, the fluid that oozed out after being hit was always sticky and had extremely high viscosity. It wouldn’t emit this kind of bloody smell. He approached to investigate and, after pushing aside the grass, discovered a large-headed minion that had been smashed into pieces by his palm. However, the one emitting the bloody smell was not the minion but what it held in its mouth—a piece of scalp with long hair!

Minions survived by eating leftovers, and it seemed that a living person had been killed. It had crawled all the way here, leaving traces of blood on the grass. Xie Lian immediately followed the bloodstains, and the young soldier followed closely behind. The further they went, the denser the bloodstains became, and the stronger the scent of blood became. Before long, they heard a weak cry.

The young soldier raised his sword to protect Xie Lian, but Xie Lian pulled him behind him. After turning around a flowering bush, a semi-large cave appeared before them.

This cave was probably originally a temporary dwelling for some people. However, now it was filled with corpses—twenty to thirty minions were huddled over the bodies on the ground, enjoying their feast. Another five or six were surrounding a young girl on the ground. The young girl looked agonized. Her abdomen had been cut open, and her internal organs were spilling out onto the ground, yet she was still alive. It seemed that she had just finished styling her hair, with bright red flowers pinned to her sideburns. The red blood against the red flowers made the scene especially cruel.

The group of minions was licking her steaming viscera, preparing to take another bite, but when they heard someone approaching, they all turned their heads in unison and pounced towards them. Xie Lian didn’t even glance at them and struck them with a palm, killing them instantly. He immediately checked the bodies. These corpses included men and women, old and young. They all had dirt-streaked faces and were dressed in plain clothes. They were undoubtedly ordinary people from Yong’an. Xie Lian couldn’t help but be shocked.

He thought that the monsters suddenly appearing in this mountain were brought by the mysterious white-clothed person. That person had likely rescued Lang Yin and was most likely working with him. But why would these minions feed on the common people of Yong’an? Non-human creatures wouldn’t form an alliance with humans for no reason. Could this be Lang Yin’s condition for the exchange? Using the lives of his followers as bargaining chips?!

The young girl was in pain and fear, coughing up blood and pleading, “Please don’t kill me. I haven’t done anything wrong. Please don’t kill me!”

Xie Lian couldn’t help but recall the family of three who died under the city wall that day. They hadn’t done anything wrong either. He leaned down, his tone becoming softer, and said, “Don’t be afraid. It’s alright. I’m here to save you.”

The young soldier, however, pointed his sword at the young girl and said, “Your Highness, beware, it might be a mountain demon.”

Xie Lian naturally knew that this was a possibility, and a high possibility at that. But after careful consideration, he still felt that he couldn’t ignore it. It was better to be cautious. He examined the young girl’s pulse for a moment, looked at her palm and fingerprints, quickly confirming that she was alive and had never practiced any martial arts. She had no strength at all. He immediately began to treat her, taking out a medicine bottle from his sleeve and opening the cap, releasing a faint white smoke with a refreshing scent.

This medicine not only alleviated various temporary symptoms caused by different poisons but also had a miraculous effect on wounds. Xie Lian didn’t hesitate to use the precious medicine and used up the entire bottle on her. He asked, “Feeling better?”

The young girl’s injuries were severe and horrifying to look at. After inhaling the smoke, her face regained a bit of color, and she weakly nodded. Xie Lian asked, “Are you from Yong’an? How did this happen?”

The young girl cried and said, “…Yes, I am. I don’t know why. Everything was fine, but suddenly, my father died, and my brother died too…”

Xie Lian gently patted her shoulder and said, “Who or what killed them?”

The girl choked and said, “The one who killed them… it’s… it’s… it’s you!”

As she said the last sentence, her face suddenly twisted, her eyes glowed fiercely, and she opened her arms, embracing Xie Lian tightly!

The young soldier had been on guard and reacted quickly. He thrust his sword towards her back. The girl was already seriously injured, and being stabbed by him would undoubtedly be fatal. However, she burst into joyful laughter, holding onto Xie Lian tightly and refusing to let go. In this position, she died. She held onto him so tightly that the young soldier had a hard time dragging her body away and asked, “Your Highness, are you alright?”

Xie Lian also thought that the girl was planning a final attack. But she didn’t have any weapons on her, not even a bite or scratch. She simply hugged him tightly, as if that satisfied her, and she didn’t let go even in death. Xie Lian was puzzled and said, “I didn’t do anything, I…”

Before he could finish his sentence, a sudden dizziness struck him as if mocking him.

The young soldier widened his eyes and exclaimed, “Your Highness?!”

Xie Lian felt an uncomfortable burning sensation in his heart and liver. He couldn’t speak, didn’t want to speak, and didn’t want to hear anyone speak. He shook his head and remained silent. At this moment, laughter echoed from all around.

“Hehehe…”

“Hehehe…”

The two of them were startled, realizing that there was no one else around. The laughter was coming from those crimson flowers!

Xie Lian instantly understood that he had fallen into a trap— the “Gentle Town”!

This Gentle Town was not the same as the other Gentle Town. The Gentle Town was a type of flower demon that liked to gather together and fed on the essence and blood of men. Their fragrance was not something good. Xie Lian immediately said, “Cover your nose and mouth tightly, don’t inhale the fragrance of those flowers!”

The young soldier’s face was already covered with bandages, creating a barrier that filtered the scent. Therefore, he didn’t inhale the fragrance. Upon hearing the words, he tightened the bandages even more. Then, he realized that Xie Lian had no protection against the fragrance. He tore off the cleanest sleeve from his own body, vigorously rubbed it and patted it clean before handing it to Xie Lian. However, Xie Lian said, “No need. It’s useless.”

While he was treating the girl, he had taken precautions, but he didn’t guard against the scent. They were in close proximity, and little did he know, the girl wore a “Gentle Town” flower by her sideburns. Before dying, she had tightly hugged him, ensuring that nothing went wrong. In other words, Xie Lian had unknowingly deeply inhaled several breaths of the fragrance of the Gentle Town. Now, it could be considered as a genuine “Heart-soothing” experience.

After inhaling the fragrance of the Gentle Town, a man’s blood would become restless. First, weakness, then restlessness. Xie Lian felt soft all over as if his tendons had been removed. Once the numbness passed, he would turn into a ticking time bomb. If the mysterious white-clothed person appeared again now, Xie Lian didn’t know how confident he would be in dealing with them. Originally, he couldn’t gauge the opponent’s abilities, and his first reaction was to reach for the medicine bottle. However, he remembered that he had used up the medicine to save the girl. Unfortunately, in the end, he didn’t survive.

He glanced at the corpses beside him. The girl still had a smile on her face, as if she was genuinely happy that she had deceived the enemy before finally being able to reunite with her loved ones. It was strange that the bloody scene had diluted the dangerous allure of the flowers and the aggression of their scent. He never expected such a profound expression of resentment and the determination to do such ruthless things to appear on the face of a girl who was only fifteen or sixteen years old.

Over there, the flower demons were ecstatic, whispering to each other:

“We’ve hooked him.”

“We’ve caught him.”

“It’s really the Crown Prince.”

“It’s him.”

“He’s so handsome… My roots, I can’t control them anymore. They’re crawling out of the soil!”

The young soldier swung his sword and cut down a bunch of flowers, but their stems were surprisingly resilient. After one strike, his sword dulled. The flower demons swayed and exclaimed, “Oh! This little brother with undeveloped hair is quite fierce! We were just about to bloom, how will you compensate us?”

The young soldier’s eyes burned with anger, “You’re looking for death! I’ll burn all of you!”

The flower demons crossed their green leaves on their stems and said, “Wow, you’re so powerful! We didn’t provoke you. Why are you so angry?”

Xie Lian also said, “Don’t burn them! They are demons. If you burn them… toxic miasma will be released. And you can’t uproot them!” The young soldier immediately stopped his attempt to uproot them when he heard this. Xie Lian weakly said, “The stems are filled with poisonous thorns…”

The flower demons coquettishly said, “Oh, Crown Prince, you’re so gentle. Thank you for protecting us. Just wait, we’re about to bear fruit! We’ll definitely cherish and love you, hehehe…”

“There aren’t many men who have cultivated the Child Monk technique since childhood. Although you’ve lost your purity and will drop a level in your cultivation, I guess I’ll have to make do with you, hehehe…”

The flowers of the Gentle Town rubbed against each other, emitting giggles filled with lascivious intentions. The young soldier listened in a daze, not fully understanding terms like “Child Monk,” “loss of purity,” and “cultivation level,” but he could sense that it wasn’t anything good. He swung his sword with all his might, trying to drown out the teasing voices, preventing Xie Lian from hearing. Meanwhile, Xie Lian’s knuckles were cracking.

So that’s how it is!

It turns out that this entire series of events tonight was a trap specifically set up to deal with him.

They only kidnapped Qi Rong, knowing well that based on his pride and considerations as a martial immortal, he would definitely choose to pursue alone, minimizing the impact. The severely injured girl was there to deplete his medicine and prevent him from finding any relief even after inhaling the fragrance of the Gentle Town. The demons and monsters collaborated with the living to wait for him at this stage.

The path Xie Lian cultivated indeed required him to maintain a pure and innocent body. When the practitioners of this path ascended to become immortals, the people who came to pay their respects firmly believed that the deity they worshipped must be transcendent and free from worldly desires. Therefore, if they couldn’t maintain their purity, it would undoubtedly cause the believers to collapse, greatly diminishing their cultivation. Although it wouldn’t be severe enough to directly drop them from being a divine official to an ordinary person, and there would still be a chance to cultivate back to the previous level after years of hardship, at this critical moment, there was no room to give him years of seclusion for further cultivation!

As the Imperial Supreme Temple had strict rules and regulations, Xie Lian, as the most outstanding individual among them, had never violated any precepts or crossed any boundaries. He believed that he had already attained an unyielding state like iron and stone. Even though he had experienced numerous similar tests and always passed them perfectly, he was still young and had a thin face. At this moment, with a young soldier by his side, listening to those flower demons showering him with explicit words and suggestions, combined with the lingering fragrance, his blood surged, and his heart became restless. Xie Lian couldn’t help but feel a sense of embarrassment, and his face blushed slightly. Annoyingly, he couldn’t even stand up.

He could barely hold on for now, but if these Gentle Town creatures truly bore fruit, it would be a huge problem. The best solution would be to quickly return to the imperial city and let Feng Xin and Mu Qing protect him. However, Xie Lian could barely stand up at the moment, feeling helpless. He had no choice but to say to the young soldier, “Come here.”