Rarely did Baili Mingxiang cry. There were the times when she was in agony from Beauty’s Blood and the times Su Xiaoyu had absolutely infuriated her. She’d almost forgotten how long it’d been since she shed tears. But now they flooded her face.
Perhaps underwater was the only place where no one could see her crying!
Previously, she had just dove into the water when this massive snake had swept her up in its tail and sent her plummeting to the bottom. She had used massive strength to escape it and swim away. She hadn’t even dared to use the Lightstream Ball on herself, afraid that she’d run out of energy to protect His Highness, the princess, and the rest. Her stamina was limited.
It took her fighting for her life to reach the maze, only to find that it’d disappeared. Cold sweat had broken out on her body from fear before she quickly summoned the Lightstream Ball and protected the rest of the party. Activating it left her with little strength left, so she couldn’t escape with them as quick as she’d liked. If not for her vow to save them, she might have given up ages ago.
Actually, she had been extremely nervous when she was about to attack with her sword. Her heart was quaking, but she told herself to hold on. She had desperately wanted to look back at the sphere and beg His Highness and the princess for help. If His Highness could smite the snake, then she would still have enough strength to send them back into the Lightstream Ball! Moreover, she could maintain the sphere long enough until they found the exit.
However, she hadn’t dared to meet their eyes or plea for help. Somehow, somewhere, she’d grown timid and cautious around them. When she first heard that she was going back to the army, she felt she’d found redemption. But now she was still repaying her debts with night after night of torment for her forbidden feelings.
Long Feiye soon brought Han Yunxi with him to Baili Mingxiang’s side. Gu Qishao was quickly to catch up and landed on Baili Mingxiang’s other side. Since they were holding their breaths, they couldn’t speak to her. His Highness only pointed at the massive snake without giving her much of a glance, but the princess settled her eyes on her body. She was currently inspecting her injuries, leaving Baili Mingxiang with complex feelings. They filled her heart to the point of flooding as she looked at the princess. If possible, she’d like to hold her tight in a hug right now.
Just like before, when the princess had hugged her to give her strength amidst the pain of Beauty’s Blood.
She desperately wanted to explain to the princess how she’d liked His Highness since she was young, even before the princess met him. When she was a child, the Beauty’s Blood had plagued her worse than death. She once jumped into the lotus pond to die. Even though she was a Mermaid Clan member who didn’t fear water, she hadn’t used any of her powers in an attempt to drown herself.
It was His Highness that saved her and gave her a reason to live.
Her quiet, secret adoration had set down roots five to six years before the princess met His Highness, and only grown deeper since then. She couldn’t control her heart, but she had never wanted to vie with the princess for anything. Nor would she steal from her. Every kindness the princess had done for her was etched into her memories.
If possible, she would change. But she couldn’t.
Both His Highness and the princess had saved her life, but the princess had given her more warmth. How could she ever betray her? She wasn’t someone who didn’t know her place or debts of gratitude. If she had any attachments, it wasn’t to His Highness, but the relationship she had with him and the princess between master and servant. She dearly wished to go back to past, before her secret heart was broadcasted to everyone.
Baili Mingxiang hung her head, making it impossible for Han Yunxi to see her face. However, there was no time to bother with that now, because the massive snake had slowly turned towards them. Long Feiye shielded Han Yunxi behind him, but she didn’t hesitate to pull Baili Mingxiang to her side. Gu Qishao stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Long Feiye as both men faced the snake together.
And yet, just as Long Feiye raised his sword, everyone shattered into pieces. The world seemed to collapse around them as the massive sea serpent vanished with the water. Everyone was hit with a wave of dizziness before their surroundings changed into another stone room! Although all of them had been conscious and awake, none of them could tell how everything had transformed so abruptly.
It looked like the mirror maze was an illusion too.
Long Feiye was the first to react, looking towards Han Yunxi. “Are you alright?”
Han Yunxi rubbed her temples. “Not too bad. How about you?”
“Fine,” Long Feiye replied.
Gu Qishao swiveled to look at their surroundings. The Lightstream Ball had disappeared too, so Xu Donglin and Gu Beiyue were just nearby. Han Yunxi turned to Baili Mingxiang and stuffed a handkerchief into her hands. Tears were invisible underwater, but even so, she’d noticed the woman’s red eyes. Baili Mingxiang clutched the handkerchief, afraid to lift her head. Han Yunxi didn’t have much time to comfort her because she, like everyone else, was quickly aware of the differences in this stone room.
All four walls were covered in murals. One of them depicted an identical painting of the Poison Sect’s sacrificial altar and its color glazed wall filled with rare plants. Han Yunxi quickly headed for that painting and looked closer. She discovered that every leaf and flower had been depicted with meticulous details. Moreover, all the plants bore a unique fruit! Long Feiye and the rest soon followed and noticed the same details.
“This couldn’t be another illusion, right?” Gu Qishao asked.
Han Yunxi’s gaze grew complicated. “Quickly, let’s split up and look at all of the things on the walls in case we miss something.”
So many murals had to contain plenty of information. Perhaps a clue to what they were seeking was here as well. Everyone agreed and immediately split up. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi remained studying the west wall and its painting of the altar. Gu Qishao headed for the south, while Gu Beiyue and Xu Donglin took the north. Baili Mingxiang didn’t dawdle, but quickly calmed her emotions and went for the east. Everyone took a long while studying their murals before they made sense of it.
The western wall showed the Poison Sect’s sacrificial altar and the origins of its forbidden grounds. Medical City had existed even before East and West Qin united Cloud Realm Continent. After the two dynasties were destroyed, Medical City’s power grew. However, its own history and that of its Poison Sect stretched back a long time. Still, the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds were even older than that. In ancient times, it was the gathering grounds for a group of people who worshipped poison wolves. They called themselves the Snow Wolf Clan and worshipped the poison snow wolf because it never died or decayed. Only one kind of mysterious power could cause their downfall.
The original Poison Sect forbidden grounds supported a pack of poison wolves in the lands surrounding the Skypit. Later on, someone with mysterious powers killed them all off, leaving a single pup that survived by escaping into the Skypit itself. The Snow Wolf Clan feared the person with such power, so they changed their names and hid themselves in the forbidden ground’s forests while rarely coming out. In the western part of the forest, they erected the wordless stele as a memorial for the snow wolves, then built an altar around it for annual sacrifices.
Snow Wolf clansmen all possessed the ability to open a poison storage space. Through cultivation of the space, they could develop high level poison abilities. The poison fruits in the color glazed wall were dug out from the Skypit by the Snow Wolf Clan under instructions from the snow wolf pup. There were ten of them in total, each of which needed 300 years to blossom and bear fruit. 300 more years were needed for the fruit to mature and ripen.
Later on, as numbers of the Snow Wolf clansmen dwindled, Medical City began claiming more and more of the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds. Once Medical City was officially established, it created the Poison Sect that took over these grounds. Back then, the women of the Snow Wolf Clan secretly married the Poison Sect head as both sides shared the forbidden grounds equally. With the Snow Wolf Clan’s assistance, the Poison Sect began cultivating all sorts of toxic plants in the grounds. Soon enough, the sect was flourishing.
Han Yunxi couldn’t help but exclaim when she got this far. “The Poison Sect hid all information about the Snow Wolf Clan from Medical City, ah!”
Long Feiye was more surprised about something else. “Could Lil Thing have been the snow wolf pup who survived?”
That was all too possible! Lil Thing didn’t age or die, so Heaven knows how old it was. As expected, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s reading took them all the way to the records of the snow wolf pup growing up to be the Poison Sect’s poison beast. Snow wolves and Snow Wolf clansmen could join their hearts and cultivate together via the clansmen’s poison storage space.
So it turned from a figure of worship to a pet by the end?
What would Lil Thing think if it recalled its memories?
Long Feiye told Han Yunxi, “Looks like you have Snow Wolf Clan blood in you too.”
“No wonder Lil Thing recognized me and was so friendly,” Han Yunxi smiled.
As the two kept looking, they found the pictures and words began to describe the Poison Sect’s Poison Gu humans. When the members of the Poison Sect saw that the snow wolf neither aged nor died, they began to search for reasons why. Later, they discovered a large patch of withered poison plants in the Skypit that had lost all of their fruit. There was a total of 49 distinct types, of which 10 had been trapped in the color glazed wall.
Han Yunxi grew alarmed. “So the Poison Sect suspected that the snow wolf gained its immortality by eating those poisonous fruit?”
Long Feiye was taken aback as well. He thought the snow wolves were immortal from the start, not from their diet. As they kept reading, they discovered that the Poison Sect had collected specimens from each of the 49 plants to research their toxic properties. Combined with studies from the 10 still living plants in the color glazed wall, they discovered a pill for everlasting life.
For the sake of baffling the public, they renamed their research into a study on Poison Gu humans so people would think it was manmade. Actually, there was nothing to be made at all as long as one ate the right pill. That was the end of the west wall’s summary. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye couldn’t resist moving on to the closest wall in the south to see what happened next.
This secret room of four walls recorded the entire history of the Poison Sect!
In the south, Gu Qishao was all agape as well. He looked towards the couple and cried, “I know the origins of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion!”
1. Closest wall in the south - I’m assuming they’re going by Chinese writing, which went from right to left in the past. Thus, after finishing with the west wall, they would end up closest to the south one.
From delusions to a deluge of info dump! Here comes the deep PGC lore...and with two sponsored chapters in the queue, expect more releases later today!