2194 Sacred Grove (1)

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The air crackled with a tension so thick it felt almost tangible. Situ Lan, her ethereal beauty overshadowed by a mask of raw fear, stared at Yun Lintian, his calm demeanor now tinged with a chilling menace.

The two fallen figures on the periphery of the garden served as a stark reminder of the power at his disposal.

Despite the terror gnawing at her, a flicker of defiance sparked in Situ Lan's twilight eyes. "I choose neither," she spat, her voice barely a whisper.

Yun Lintian's smile thinned. "A bold choice," he remarked, stepping closer, his every stride resonating with a subtle pressure that made Situ Lan feel as if the very air around her was tightening.

"Perhaps," she countered, her voice gaining a hint of its former frostiness, "but a necessary one. You may have some unknown power at your disposal, but revealing my secrets would unleash a force far beyond your comprehension."

Yun Lintian chuckled, a dry, humorless sound. "Threats veiled in riddles? How very… tiresome. You overestimate my patience, Miss Situ."

He raised a hand, his palm glowing faintly with an ethereal light. Situ Lan gasped as she felt a cold tendril snake its way into her mind, probing the carefully constructed barriers she had erected.

Pangs of agonizing panic surged through her. Years of meticulous planning, of carefully crafted deception, were on the verge of being laid bare. Images flashed before her inner eye – the meticulously orchestrated "mistake" that led to her capture by the drunken Yun Lintian, the years she spent manipulating him from within the White Lotus House, whispering insidious schemes into his ear, all with the ultimate goal of seizing control of the Azure Cloud City's Sacred Grove, and the heart of the Yun Clan's power.

"Oh?" Yun Lintian's expression shifted, a flicker of surprise crossing his features.

He delved into Situ Lan's soul with a sense of discovery. Embedded within her being, he found a faint God Mark. However, the aura emanating from it suggested a connection to a Lower God, a being of relatively weak divine power.

"Crude measures, then," Yun Lintian murmured, his voice devoid of warmth as he prepared to breach her defenses.

"Wait!" The tall woman, her earlier arrogance replaced by raw fear, rasped out, "We can negotiate!"

Yun Lintian slanted her a cold glance. "Negotiate? You presume greatly on your standing."

"Misunderstanding," the woman wheezed, her voice strained. "A...compromise, perhaps?"

Yun Lintian's lips curved into a humorless smile. With his power, he could delve into their very souls with a thought. Yet, a sliver of curiosity lingered. Perhaps leaving them alive held more value.

The tall woman, her posture now one of utter submission, rasped out, "Please release her first."

Yun Lintian complied, retracting his hand. Situ Lan gasped for air, her body trembling with the aftereffects of his power.

"Speak," Yun Lintian commanded, his voice a chilling monotone.

Relief washed over the two women. Their years of experience screamed that Yun Lintian's power far surpassed even theirs, likely residing within the coveted God Emperor Realm.

"Second Elder?" Situ Lan cast a hesitant glance at the woman beside her, doubt clouding her eyes.

The Second Elder sighed deeply. "Tell him everything."lightsnovel

Situ Lan's face contorted in anguish. Years of careful planning, of enduring hardship, were on the verge of collapse. Unwillingness gnawed at her.

Taking a steadying breath, she began, "Hear me out. While I admit to...influencing you in the past, my ultimate goal was never to harm the Yun Clan, but to strengthen it. The Sacred Grove holds immense power, but it currently languishes in the hands of those incapable of unlocking its true potential."

She paused, searching Yun Lintian's face for a reaction. His expression remained an unreadable mask, a chilling indifference that sent shivers down her spine.

"With my guidance," she pressed on, desperation creeping into her voice, "the Sacred Grove could flourish, propelling the Yun Clan to unimaginable heights. Resources, power, prestige – all within your grasp!"

Yun Lintian's lips curled into a humorless chuckle. "Two opportunities I've granted you, and still you test my patience. It seems I am indeed too kind."


The tall woman's face drained of color as a bloodcurdling scream erupted from her companion. A sickening spray of crimson erupted as the woman beside her dissolved into a grotesque mosaic of flesh and bone, leaving only a severed head suspended in mid-air, eyes wide with a horrifying mix of shock and terror.

Situ Lan's eyes bulged in horror. Terror locked her body into a rigid statue, incapable of even the slightest twitch.

"Miss!" Just then, a blur of motion – Tong Qi, rushing to her side in a desperate attempt to shield her young mistress. But before her touch could land, an inferno erupted around the maidservant.

A crimson blaze engulfed Tong Qi whole, snuffing out any scream that might have formed in her throat. Within a single, agonizing second, she was reduced to a pile of ashes.

"Ah…" A strangled cry escaped Situ Lan's trembling lips. Tong Qi wasn't just her servant; she was her confidante, her closest friend. And now, she was gone, a casualty of Situ Lan's own stubborn defiance.

Yun Lintian's voice dripped with icy calm. "This, then, is the price of your foolishness."

Situ Lan, choked by terror, could only stammer, a single, broken word escaping her lips - "I..."

The remaining woman, her voice trembling, rushed to fill the void. "We hail from the Hidden Jade Valley, and Situ Lan here is our esteemed Saintess. The Sacred Grove of this region is indeed our objective."


"However, we harbored no desire to incite conflict with the City Lord – his background is far from ordinary. It was only through you that we saw an opportunity, a regrettable tactic, I assure you."

Yun Lintian inclined his head in a curt nod, a gesture devoid of warmth. "Tell me about this Sacred Grove."

Relief washed over the woman. Whether Yun Lintian's amnesia was genuine or a ploy held little consequence at that moment. Eager to appease him, she launched into an explanation.

"The Sacred Grove," she began, her voice regaining some semblance of composure, "acts as a nexus, a wellspring of elemental energy. A hundred, not a thousand, such locations are scattered throughout the vast expanse of the Great Wilderness Realm. The grove within this region, specifically, is attuned to the water element, a source of immense power and cultivation benefits for our Hidden Jade Valley."

She paused, gauging Yun Lintian's reaction. "Unfortunately, the ironclad control exerted by Qing Zong, the city lord, makes a direct approach impossible. It left us with this… regrettable course of action."