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MCAB - Chapter 52.1

"You…"

Shen Zheyan hesitated to speak.

"If you have something to say, just say it, Big Sister," Jun Zishu bluntly said. She didn't even bother to whisper this time, so her voice gave Meng Lingxiao and Xiao Shitou a scare.

Shen Zheyan was also surprised by Jun Zishu's sudden and straightforward approach. However, she quickly shook her head and said, "It's nothing. Let's head to the bamboo forest first."

In reality, Shen Zheyan wanted to say that it was inappropriate for a girl to be a flower thief and that Jun Zishu should stop being one.

However, after thinking it over, Shen Zheyan felt that she didn't seem to have the qualifications to do so. After all, she had forgotten about their friendship despite her promise. Moreover, Jun Zishu had only stepped onto the path of a flower thief because her master had saved her. So, it'd be inappropriate for her to voice objections about Jun Zishu being a flower thief.

Not to mention, Jun Zishu was a pitiful flower thief who got caught and locked up on her maiden mission.

Shen Zheyan felt that she should take things slowly with Jun Zishu. Now that she had reunited with her childhood friend, she could watch the girl and ensure that the girl didn't do anything foolish. Then, she would slowly re-educate her friend and develop her into a righteous warrior.

Jun Zishu glanced at Shen Zheyan and secretly smirked. She could instantly tell what was going through the other party's mind.

It's best if you keep this line of thought. Just don't regret keeping me around in the future~

"We're here. It's just in front," Xiao Shitou said as he pointed at the bamboo forest ahead.

Immediately, the trio hastened their pace.

The bamboo forest was relatively small. There wasn't anything special in it, either.

"I honestly saw a man walking into this place that day and never saw him come out," Xiao Shitou said. There was a cliff behind the bamboo forest. So, apart from the entrance, there were no other places one could leave through.

"Maybe that guy's a powerful martial artist, and he left without you noticing?" Meng Lingxiao speculated while stroking his chin. He felt that there was a high possibility of such a situation taking place.

"Impossible. I had been watching from this spot the entire time. Then, after I waited for some time and saw that he wasn't coming out, I plucked up my courage, went inside to take a look, and found that the forest was empty," Xiao Shitou refuted. Even until now, he still felt that what he had seen was a ghost.

[Host, there is something below.]

Little Fairy gave a reminder, to which Jun Zishu nodded secretly.

It was impossible for a living person to just vanish out of thin air. There was also only one exit from the bamboo forest as there was a cliff blocking the other end of the forest. No matter how skilled one was in qinggong, there was no way anyone could scale up this cliff. Thus, the most likely explanation for the man's disappearance was that a hidden path existed somewhere.

At this time, Shen Zheyan also thought about such a possibility. So, she slowly paced around the bamboo forest, scrutinizing every inch for possible clues.

Meanwhile, Jun Zishu mimicked Shen Zheyan's actions while following Little Fairy's instruction and making her way to the hidden path's entrance.

"This spot looks suspicious, Big Sister Zheyan," Jun Zishu said as she stomped on the ground hiding the secret entrance. She could feel that the dirt here was a little loose.

Hearing Jun Zishu's words, Shen Zheyan walked over and stomped on the ground there as well. Then, she had Jun Zishu step aside before she stabbed her sword into the ground.

"There's something down here," Shen Zheyan said when she saw that only the tip of her sword managed to penetrate the dirt.

Afterward, Shen Zheyan pulled aside the layer of turf, revealing a cast iron lid. Then, she opened the lid and found herself looking at the entrance of a dark, narrow tunnel.

"Wow." Meng Lingxiao's eyes widened in surprise.

"Should we take a look inside now, Big Sister Zheyan?" Jun Zishu asked.

However, Shen Zheyan shook her head and resealed the tunnel. Then, she rolled back the turf over the iron lid.

"Why not?" Meng Lingxiao curiously asked.

"Let's leave this place first to avoid alerting the enemy."

After saying so, Shen Zheyan stood up and made her way out of the bamboo forest. Seeing this, Jun Zishu, Meng Lingxiao, and Xiao Shitou quickly followed her.

"Thank you for leading the way. We will be parting ways here, goodbye," Jun Zishu said as she waved his hand at Meng Lingxiao and Xiao Shitou.

However, instead of bidding goodbye, Meng Lingxiao moved closer to Jun Zishu and asked, "Miss Yan Xi, can you tell me what you two are investigating? Does that tunnel hold some kind of secret?"

Seeing the curiosity on Meng Lingxiao's face, Jun Zishu hooked a finger at him, gesturing for him to come closer.

So, Meng Lingxiao hurriedly moved closer and lowered his head to listen to Jun Zishu's whispers.

"You'll die if you know too much," Jun Zishu said with a smile.

A bitter expression appeared on Meng Lingxiao's face when he heard Jun Zishu's words. He knew that Jun Zishu was unwilling to tell him about her investigation, so he gave up and said, "Alright, alright, we're leaving. Let us meet again if fate lets us."

Meanwhile, Jun Zishu linked arms with Shen Zheyan and dragged the latter away. Then, with her back facing Meng Lingxiao and Xiao Shitou, she waved goodbye at the two.

"Did you find out any information today, Big Sister Zheyan?"

"Nothing noteworthy. At the very least, none of what I heard compares to what you found in value."

When Shen Zheyan thought back to the conversations she overheard today, most of the information was about events in other cities. Almost nobody was talking about Gui City.

"I also learned some other things, but let's head back to the inn first before we continue," Jun Zishu said.

"Okay."

When Shen Zheyan and Jun Zishu returned to the inn, Wei Zinan still hadn't come back.

"Are you hungry? We can eat first if you are hungry."

After entering the city in the morning, they only rested for a short while before they split up to look for information. So, they hadn't eaten a proper meal until now.

"I'm not hungry. I ate a bowl of dumplings just now. What about you, Big Sister Zheyan?"

"I'm not hungry, either."

Shen Zheyan had drunk a lot of tea and ate some pastries in the tea house, so she wasn't feeling hungry, either.

"Should I talk about my discoveries now? Or should I wait for Wei Zinan to come back first?" Jun Zishu asked.

"Tell it to me first."

Thus, Jun Zishu started telling Shen Zheyan about the information she had heard about Gui City. She also talked about her analysis of this information. Eventually, their conversation arrived at the tunnel they found in the bamboo forest just now.

"When will we investigate that tunnel, Big Sister?"

"I'll head over there by myself tonight. You two just need to wait here for me."

"Why? I want to go with you."

"I'm going to take a look at the general situation first. Once I've confirmed that it's safe, we'll find a chance to enter together."

"I refuse. I want to go with you. It's too dangerous for you to go alone. What if something happens? If I go with you, I can help you in times of emergency."

Jun Zishu naturally knew that Shen Zheyan wouldn't come into any trouble even if she investigated the tunnel by herself. After all, it hadn't even been two years since Shen Zheyan began her travels around the world of martial artists. Meanwhile, she was the protagonist fated to sweep the realm. There was no way she would fall in a small place like Gui City. However, despite knowing this, Jun Zishu insisted on going with Shen Zheyan since this was an excellent opportunity to deepen their relationship.

"It is precisely because it is dangerous that I am going alone. If the two of us go together, there is a much higher chance of the enemy noticing us," Shen Zheyan said in a helpless tone. She knew that Jun Zishu was currently at a phase where she was needlessly bold and curious, so it was only natural that the girl wanted to investigate the tunnel with her.

"Don't underestimate me, Big Sister Zheyan. When it comes to qinggong, I might even be better than you. I've also prepared many things that can help us escape. Big Sister Zheyan, please take me with you. I'm really worried about letting you go alone," Jun Zishu pleaded fawningly while holding onto Shen Zheyan's arm. She even dragged her voice for the last sentence, making herself sound numbingly sweet.

Meanwhile, Shen Zheyan's ears turned slightly red when she felt the two bundles of softness rubbing against her arm.

"I promise to listen to your instructions. I swear I won't act recklessly," Jun Zishu said, giving off an obedient look.

"...Alright, then."

Shen Zheyan nodded. From what she had seen thus far, Jun Zishu's qinggong was indeed amazing. At her top speed, Jun Zishu could even outrun a horse. Moreover, if Jun Zishu hadn't been singing that day, Shen Zheyan doubted that she or Wei Zinan would've noticed that a person was sitting on a nearby tree.

"Yay!" Jun Zishu happily clenched her fist. Then, seemingly having thought of something, she asked, "Big Sister Zheyan, when you were traveling with Wei Zinan before, have you always operated like this whenever you come across an incident? By that, I mean have you always gone to investigate by yourself while he waits for your news?"

"That's right. What about it?"

Shen Zheyan nodded. She didn't think that there was anything wrong with such an arrangement.

"But there might be times when you come into dangerous situations. You're a girl, Big Sister. You even look so pretty. Yet, he lets you go by yourself. This guy doesn't know how to cherish women," Jun Zishu grumbled.

Shen Zheyan chuckled and massaged Jun Zishu's bulging cheeks. Then, she said, "It's fine. Brother Zinan trusts in my strength. Moreover, he isn't as skilled as me in martial arts. It'd be more suitable for me to do the investigation," Shen Zheyan said. When she said the last sentence, she even lifted her eyebrows and smiled proudly, the sight causing Jun Zishu to break out in laughter.

Wei Zinan returned to the inn shortly afterward. The information he found was mostly the same as Jun Zishu's findings. However, he did manage to acquire some new information.

"I'm not sure if this story is trustworthy. Some people I asked say that it is fake, while some say it is real. Personally, though, I think this story is somewhat related to the incident we are investigating."

"Hurry up and tell us."

"The story states that an evil monster appeared in this town around a decade ago. This monster would drink the blood and eat the flesh of people. Afterward, an expert came and got rid of the monster. Apparently, that monster would turn into ashes the moment it comes into contact with sunlight."

When Wei Zinan first heard this story, he, too, felt that it was nothing but an exaggerated rumor. However, the part where the monster sucked the blood of its victims caused him to recall Shen Zheyan's description of the corpse they found last night. Hence, he decided to remember this story and share it with the others.

"Rumors are often exaggerated. If an incident like this happened in the past, the monster in question might be a person practicing evil arts. Then, a passing martial artist must've discovered this evildoer's actions and chose to kill or banish the evildoer," Shen Zheyan analyzed.

Opening up his paper fan, Wei Zinan said, "That's possible. But a cultivation method that relies on sucking human blood? Could members of the Demon Cult be operating nearby?"

"I don't think the Demon Cult has a base around this area. It might be someone else's doing," Jun Zishu said. As the Demon Cult's Saintess, she would like to express that the Demon Cult had no interest in taking the blame for this incident.

The people belonging to the world of martial artists were an interesting bunch. They would often blame the Demon Cult for any evil acts they come across. And since the Demon Cult's reputation had already hit rock bottom, the Demon Cult couldn't be bothered to step forward and clear its name, either.

Of course, Jun Zishu hadn't said these words because she wanted to clear up the Demon Cult's name. After all, the Demon Cult truly wasn't a good place. While the organization might seem peaceful at times, every member in the cult more or less had dirt on their hands.

Take Jun Zishu's entry into the Demon Cult, for example. For the sake of finding its Saintess, not only did the cult abduct many young girls in broad daylight, but it had even caused the death of most of these girls. There was no questioning that the Demon Cult was a place filled with deranged evildoers, and there was nothing Jun Zishu could do to cleanse the cult's name.

Fortunately, Jun Zishu was able to resist the cult's influence and maintain her worldviews. She had even managed to hone her psychological endurance during her time in the Demon Cult.

"Anyway, let's check out the tunnel first before we come to further conclusions," Shen Zheyan said. "Brother Zinan, I will be investigating that tunnel with Xi'er tonight. You can wait here for our news."

"You're taking her with you?" Wei Zinan asked in surprise.

"Why? Anything wrong with that?" Jun Zishu asked with her chin raised, looking very much like a prideful little peacock.

Folding his paper fan and pushing it up against his chin, Wei Zinan hummed and said, "Uhm… Wouldn't there be danger? I think it'd be better if you were more prudent, Zheyan."

"I'm very strong, okay? I might even be better than you when it comes to qinggong," Jun Zishu said confidently.

In reality, Jun Zishu was exceptionally strong. Even Qian Yun had praised her for being the most hardworking and talented Saintess the Demon Cult had ever seen. Unfortunately, it still wasn't time for her to reveal her full strength yet.

"Oh? Are you that confident in yourself, Miss Yan Xi?"

"Don't believe me? How about we have a match?"

"Sure."

Although Wei Zinan felt that it'd be unfair for him to compete against a girl, he decided it would be better to smother Jun Zishu's overconfidence a little before an accident happened.

"We'll race from this inn to the city gate."

"Okay."

Immediately, Jun Zishu and Wei Zinan made their way to the inn's roof. Shen Zheyan also followed them and smiled at her two companions' childishness.

"I'll be the judge, then. I'll head to the gate first and wait for you two there," Shen Zheyan suggested.

"Go ahead, Big Sister Zheyan."

Hellscythe's Notes:

MCAB's first patreon goal (150$) has been met! So, expect to see two chapters released on Sundays from now on!

If you would like to read ahead and help increase release rates for MCAB, please consider subscribing to my patreon!

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Other novels I translate on Hosted Novel:
Pantsu Hero Alice (PHA)
Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (Side Stories)
After Being Bent By Reader (ABBR)(GL)
Written by 小吾君 Xiao Wu Jun. Translated by Hellscythe. Edited by Grammarly.