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Chapter 721: Self-Preservation

Gusts of cold wind swept by, howling and hissing like it was hell. The eerie and bone-chilling sounds gave people the creeps and fear, and everyone retreated at once.

Soon, more and more red mist started swarming over. While the surrounding trees were withering at a rapid speed, the thick mother tree in the middle not only showed no signs of withering, but it even seemed to be receiving nourishment. Its leaves appeared greener than before, and its branches were growing thicker as well.

The most startling thing was that it seemed to be growing slowly but steadily in this red mist.

“W-what’s going on here?! Liuyue, the mist is spreading over!” Mu Hongyu looked at Chu Liuyue as she nervously held the golden mane bear cub in her arms. The same thing we saw before is happening now! Are we going to—


With a wave of Qin Yi’s sleeve, a faint greenish barrier instantly enveloped him and a few other people. When the red mist came into contact with this green barrier, it quickly recoiled as if it had encountered something terrifying.

Qin Yi had only protected the people near him with his barrier, so Elder Qiuxi, Jiang Yucheng, and Mu Qinghe weren’t under his protection, although it was probably because they were standing a little further away from him.

“Y-you forgot about us, sir!” cried Elder Qiuxi when he saw how easily Qin Yi’s barrier managed to ward off the red mist. That red mist doesn’t seem easy to deal with. We can save a lot of effort if Qin Yi helps us out.

Unfortunately for him, Qin Yi gave him an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, but my strength is limited. Protecting these few people is the most I can do.”

“You—” retorted Elder Qiuxi.

“Elder Qiuxi, we only met Brother Qin by chance, so we’re more than grateful to receive his help. How can we still order him to do this and that?” Chu Liuyue interrupted Elder Qiuxi’s words, wearing a very sincere smile on her face. “Besides, can’t you see that I’m also not under his protection?”

Qin Yi’s barrier was only enveloped around himself, Mu Hongyu, Ye Ranran, and Qiang Wanzhou. Lei Laosi and Chu Liuyue weren’t under his protection either.

Chu Liuyue then proceeded to cast a barrier around herself. She felt more assured when the red mist started moving away from her.

Tuan Zi rubbed itself against her cheek as its beautiful gem-like eyes sparkled.

Chu Liuyue blinked and instantly understood what Tuan Zi was trying to say. It’s telling me that… The red mist won’t be able to hurt me when it’s around?

Meanwhile, Lei Laosi raised his hammer and slammed it against the ground.

A transparent barrier that had crackling ice-blue lightning bolts wandering across it instantly appeared around him. He then looked up to give Elder Qiuxi a disdainful look. “In the Mystic Forest, only one outcome awaits those who aren’t capable of protecting themselves—Death!”

He’s calling me incompetent right in my face! Elder Qiuxi’s face darkened. He was just about to retort, but he stopped when he saw Jiang Yucheng’s look of warning that said, ‘Haven’t you embarrassed yourself enough?!’

Thus, Elder Qiuxi could only keep his mouth shut.

“Eldest Young Master, this bottle contains the antidote for the red mist. Consume it if you accidentally come into contact with the red mist.” Mu Qinghe proceeded to hand Jiang Yucheng and Elder Qiuxi one pill each from the bottle he had taken out.

While Elder Qiuxi eagerly snatched the pill from Mu Qinghe’s hand, Jiang Yucheng stared at it. “You didn’t mention this at the start.”

“That’s because I didn’t know that the mist had gotten so poisonous. In the past, most of the mist could be blocked out just by setting up a barrier around ourselves. But now, we have to take the antidote. I only recalled this now, and I only have one bottle of the antidote on me,” replied Mu Qinghe calmly.

Mu Qinghe has always been a careful and serious person, so he couldn’t possibly have only recalled it now. Even if he didn’t have many pills on him, he could’ve given one to Shangguan Wan earlier since her safety is of utmost importance. However, he didn’t do that. He clearly didn’t want to give it to her. Jiang Yucheng studied Mu Qinghe’s expression—which was calm as if he had nothing to hide—and didn’t say anything. Shangguan Wan has never liked Mu Qinghe, and the feeling is mutual. Anyway, Shangguan Wan has her own ways to deal with the red mist, so she doesn’t need this antidote either.

Mu Qinghe then turned to Chu Liuyue and handed the bottle to her, his face expressionless.

The gesture surprised Chu Liuyue, as evident by the slight raising of her eyebrows. She didn’t expect him to share such a precious antidote with her, although it was given to him by her past self.

She smiled politely at him, but before she could say anything, she heard Mu Qinghe say, “Please return the black shield that the red-tailed phoenix took away earlier.”

So that’s his purpose… Chu Liuyue’s expression blanched a little. Instead of trying to rescue Shangguan Wan at first notice, he’s more concerned about this black shield. How interesting…

Her feather-like eyelashes fluttered slightly as she lifted her eyelids calmly. “Thank you for your kindness, Lieutenant Mu, but I don’t think I need the antidote since I have the red-tailed phoenix with me. You should keep it for yourself instead. As for the black shield… I’ll naturally return it to the Third Princess once she’s found.”

For some reason, Chu Liuyue seems a little different from the time I first met her in Country Yao Chen. She used to be polite and courteous but also a little timid, but she dares to refuse me so flatly now. But then again, now that she’s contracted with a legendary fiend, it’s only natural that things will change. With pursed lips, Mu Qinghe nodded and took an antidote for himself before putting the jade bottle away.

“Look! The mist seems to be heading toward the mother tree!” cried Ye Ranran.

Everyone turned their attention to the tree at once, and sure enough, they saw that the red mist was indeed slowly moving toward the tree in the middle. On top of that, its leaves seemed to be swallowing the mist.

A frown settled between Chu Liuyue’s brows as she turned to look at Qin Yi. “Brother Qin, does this have anything to do with the mother tree’s seal?”

Qin Yi nodded. “The mist is no unusual sight in the Mystic Forest, but it usually lingers in the outer perimeter. It has never made its way to the center before.”

That wasn’t actually the truth. He and Lei Laosi had encountered the same scene when they first came here a year ago, but the seal happened to have a small crack at that time, so the Nine-Colored Heavenly Pheasant decided to perch on that tree. Its presence mended that crack and added a second layer of protection to the seal, so ever since the Nine-Colored Heavenly Pheasant hibernated there, nothing like this happened in the Mystic Forest. But now that it had left, the seal was once again broken.

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