Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
With the sky darkening, Zhong Yan wasn’t able to get a clear view of their surroundings. From his dimmed vision, he could only make out their location vaguely— the foot of a mountain.
In front of the valley was a foggy forest. Blanketed with mist and the shadows of trees, coupled with the occasional cries of insects and birds, the forest sent chills running down any onlooker’s bones.
After entering the mountain, Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan found a cave that could barely shelter them. They piled up the dried branches and leaves they gathered before lighting up a bonfire with an incantation spell.
Zhong Yan was swept onto the riverside by the waters and lay on the ground for god knows how long, resulting in his clothes being somewhat soaked. Coldness penetrated his very bones as gusts of wind whisked away heat from him. He chanted a dust removal spell to clean his clothes before inching towards the fire to warm himself.
Slightly further away from the bonfire, Gu XuanYan kept his eyes shut and regulated his breath.
Warmth spread all over Zhong Yan’s body, lulling him to dreamland. Just when he was about to doze off, he heard Gu XuanYan asking, “What exactly is… that so-called blood oath?”
The question drove off any sleepiness from Zhong Yan. He yawned, “Well, as he said, if he dies, I will too. But he has been living for nearly a thousand years. Even though he’s old, if he keeps a healthy sleep schedule and exercises, he should be able to live for a few hundred years more. Come to think of it; this might be a blessing in disguise for me…”
Zhong Yan’s voice went softer under the gaze of Gu XuanYan. In the end, he concluded with a murmur, “No need to worry.”
Gu XuanYan ignored Zhong Yan’s rambling and inquired again, “Is there nothing else other than that?”
Zhong Yan looked straight into Gu XuanYan’s eyes as he gave a firm answer, “Nope.”
After focusing on Zhong Yan for a few seconds, Gu XuanYan appeared to have somewhat bought into it.
Zhong Yan changed the topic in haste, “I wonder why the icy plains had such a sudden earthquake.”
“Just one of the ways Cang Luan used to escape. But he probably weakened himself from doing so too.”
Gu XuanYan’s tone was indifferent, displaying his disinterest on the topic. He stared straight at Zhong Yan before tossing a question at him abruptly, “Why did Senior Brother protect me when we fell off the cliff? Why did Senior Brother save me?”
He wiped away any traces of a smile, his eyes examining him closely. “Senior Brother might have saved me during the trip back from the Buddhist hall because it will be strange to return alone. But why did Senior Brother save me just now?”
Why did I save you…? I should just let you fall to your death, you motherf*cker!
Zhong Yan’s wounds started to sting from the aggravation. He sneered, “Junior Brother, no need to get suspicious. Just assume I’m a fool or am crazy.”
Seemingly noticed Zhong Yan’s fury, Gu XuanYan went blank. When he pulled his mind back to reality, he was surprisingly at a loss.
Just as he was about to reply Zhong Yan, Zhong Yan had already closed his eyes.
The only sound left in the cave was the soft crackling of the burning branches.
Sometime later, Zhong Yan heard Gu XuanYan apologising in a low voice, “Senior Brother, I’m sorry.” Gu XuanYan seemingly let out a low chuckle, “Senior Brother is the first to lend me a helping hand and save my life; I’m just a little overwhelmed by it. Don’t get angry, Senior Brother.”
Gu XuanYan’s voice sounded pitiful when slowed down, dispelling a large portion of Zhong Yan’s anger in an instant. Zhong Yan sighed with his eyes shut, still refusing to look at him. “Just focus on regulating your breath.”
With the matter concluded, the tensed air around them eased off.
Finally found a chance to chip in, the system couldn’t help reminding Zhong Yan, [You have to drink Cang Luan’s blood every month for the blood oath, or else…]
[Shut up, I know.] Zhong Yan rolled his eyes internally, [Gu XuanYan might just head back and fight to the death with Cang Luan if I let him know, making my life even shorter.]
A brief moment of silence later, the system couldn’t stop itself from asking, [May I know why Gu XuanYan will fight to the death with Cang Luan for you?]
The definitive yet straightforward question hit the nail on the head.
Zhong Yan froze for a moment before replying, [Uhh… No idea. I just… had a feeling he’ll do that.]
Despite their brief dispute just then, such a peculiar hunch seeped into Zhong Yan’s mind.
After all, Gu XuanYan’s expression became horrifyingly menacing the moment he heard about the blood oath from Cang Luan, as though he was about to slit Cang Luan’s throat the next second.
Nonetheless, the moment he heard Zhong Yan wouldn’t survive if Cang Luan died, he came to a screeching halt.
Why did he stop himself? The person on the other side of his blade was the culprit who exterminated his clan. Besides, Gu XuanYan used up almost every of his energy to get a narrow victory. He might not get such a great opportunity in the future.
After pondering for quite a long while, Zhong Yan replied, [Maybe Gu XuanYan doesn’t want to involve any innocents in his revenge.]
[Huh. When he was searching for you, he stabbed his sword straight through an innocent female demonic cultivator. Oh right, twenty points are deducted. Remember to record that down.]
Words failed Zhong Yan right then. Unable to stay put any longer, Zhong Yan opened his eyes and directed them at Gu XuanYan.
Gu XuanYan didn’t look all that ghastly pale under the illumination of the flickering fire now. His brows were merely millimetres apart as he remained seated, regulating his breath. Since no one was around, he stripped off his gentlemanly façade, revealing a hint of aloofness. Rather than lessening his attractiveness, it highlighted his delicate features, as though a refined jade caked in dirt.
After Zhong Yan stared at Gu XuanYan for quite some time, the thought of Gu XuanYan having seriously good looks rose in him yet again.
You can’t spell libidinousness without lies. 1
Yin SuSu is right, the more attractive the person, the more deceptive they are. 2
But Gu XuanYan looks so good it is just too much. Wait, what did I want to ask him just now?
Perhaps due to Zhong Yan’s constant staring, at the moment, Gu XuanYan had his eyes on Zhong Yan, his voice gentle, “Senior Brother, what’s the matter?”
After being stumped for a short while, Zhong Yan, luckily, remembered his question, “Erm… why didn’t you kill Cang Luan when given the chance just now?” Learning from past mistakes, he didn’t dare to add ‘and you can also kill me while you were at it.’ Instead, he followed up with, “Is it because of me?”
Gu XuanYan had his back leaning on the stony cave wall, casting a glance at Zhong Yan silently once he heard the question.
The undaunted Zhong Yan assumed Gu XuanYan’s silence as a yes and asked shamelessly again, “Why?”
Amusement twinkled in Gu XuanYan’s eyes as he threw the question back, “What do you think, Senior Brother?”
Do you think I would ask you if I knew…?
The cave returned to its tranquillity at once. Gu XuanYan glued his eyes on Zhong Yan, seemingly wanting an answer from him.
In a predicament, Zhong Yan took this as a chance to educate Gu XuanYan about virtues, “Because compassion still lies within you even if your mind is filled with revenge. You don’t want innocents to be involved. I know the deepest part of Junior Brother’s heart still holds benevolence.”
After keeping quiet for a long time, Gu XuanYan let out a low laugh, “Senior Brother seriously goes all out to prevent me from killing, huh?”
Although his laughter didn’t contain much joy, it was empty of rage, as though something interesting he had just found piqued his mood. Zhong Yan thought there was potential to go further, “Anyway, murdering is not good.” A brief moment of pondering later, he added, “But killing Cang Luan is ok.”
After all, their enmity originated from the massacre of Gu XuanYan’s clan. Furthermore, killing Cang Luan won’t deduct any points. So long as Gu XuanYan had a reason to attack and didn’t kill any innocents, Zhong Yan could still stomach Gu XuanYan squandering a few points during a crisis.
Zhong Yan felt his morals rotting more and more ever since he transmigrated.
A smile grew on Gu XuanYan’s face as he told Zhong Yan softly, “But Senior Brother is wrong. Rather than compassion, evil intentions occupy my heart.”
Great. I lectured for nothing. Zhong Yan leaned his back onto the cave walls, “For example?”
Instead of replying, Gu XuanYan swept his gaze from Zhong Yan’s face down to his robes before tossing it back to the bonfire.
Clueless of the swift glance due to its speed, Zhong Yan still focused on getting a reply from Gu XuanYan.
Only after some time did Gu XuanYan start to talk, “Those evil intentions are, of course, a secret of mine. If Senior Brother doesn’t want me to kill, just like previously, remember to stick close to my side. It might just work.”
Zhong Yan’s face was utterly void of any emotions as he told the system, [Oh, I get it. Gu XuanYan just wants an underling.]
The system was rendered speechless right away.
Yet again, silence fell upon the two, who had eyes on each other.
Zhong Yan had his mind on ways to revoke Cang Luan’s blood contract, but since the person in front of him was still waiting for an answer, he had no choice but to reply after a sigh, “All right.”
A moment of contemplating later, Zhong Yan seemingly found his affirmation a bit too lacklustre as he added, “I swear. But if I follow close to you, you can’t kill anymore.”
Zhong Yan couldn’t really tell, but a smile appeared to have spread on Gu XuanYan’s face under the illumination of the flames. Only after quite some time did he hear a light, nearly inaudible whisper, “Sure.”
The sun shone brightly the next day. As they were at the foot of the mountain, the full view of the mountain forest greeted their eyes as soon as they set foot outside the cave.
With distributaries branching off along the way down the icy plains, the torrential surging river had turned into a crystal-clear stream of water flowing into a ravine, meandering towards the nearby forest.
Zhong Yan took a look at the mountain in front of him. Under the vast sky, the mountain breeze rolled the shadows of trees into surges of green waves.
Beside Zhong Yan was Gu XuanYan, “It’s impossible to take the former route back, so let’s try crossing the mountain.”
After a nod of approval from Zhong Yan, the two started riding their swords, flying straight towards the peak of the mountain.
A moment later, Gu XuanYan’s brows creased a little, “Hmm?”
Gu XuanYan didn’t need to explain further; even Zhong Yan found the situation strange too.
They have been riding their swords for far too long. The mountain wasn’t sky high, not even taller than the numerous mountain peaks of Green Summit. However, even after sword riding for around the time an incense stick took to burn 3, they were still halfway up the mountain,
Zhong Yan raised his head to take a glance. The upper parts of the mountains were blanketed with fog, cloaking the peak. Both of them had no choice but to return to their original spot.
When Zhong Yan lifted his head towards the sky, he found it completely empty of clouds. Puzzled, Zhong Yan asked, “Does this mountain forbid trespassers? But we did go in last night, so it shouldn’t be.”
“Because we walked in last night.” Gu XuanYan sighed and smiled, “Senior Brother, let’s take a walk, just like when we are in Green Summit.”
Not allowed to ride a sword in the premise of Green Summit, all disciples were used to walking up and down the mountains. The two strolled leisurely up the mountain, not finding it to be too much of a chore. At first, Zhong Yan presumed the mountain was owned by someone, who might have cast a spell banning sword riding.
However, the moment they entered the mountain, cries of joyful forest animals flooded the mountain. Except for them, not even a trace of human activity could be seen.
“I have not even seen any records of this mountain in the ancient texts I read.” Gu XuanYan spoke, “The world works in mysterious ways; everything possesses a spiritual essence. There’s no need to look further into it. Anyway, this mountain sure is brimming with spiritual energy.”
As they hiked the mountain, even cultivation base circulation came easy to them. Zhong Yan nodded, not thinking much about it as he changed the topic, “If I can still find this mountain in the future, I’ll retire here.”
Upon hearing that, Gu XuanYan took a glance at Zhong Yan, “Even though Senior Brother just reached adulthood, plans on retirement are already made?”
The daily scheming we have against each other makes me feel like an elderly. Zhong Yan mumbled, “I’m just planning in advance.”
The thought of him not even having a month’s time to live rose in his mind right after.
Let’s just hurry back to Green Summit to see if Qing You have any solutions. After all, Qing You’s medicine helped me escape the clutches of death quite a few times.
Noticing Zhong Yan’s silence, Gu XuanYan asked, “A penny for your thoughts, Senior Brother?”
Zhong Yan spilled the truth, “I was just thinking about Qing You.”
Gu XuanYan appeared not to expect such an answer as he repeated only after a long pause, his tone rather hostile, “Qing You?”
Not wanting Gu XuanYan to find out much about his situation, Zhong Yan gathered himself up right away before wording himself carefully, “Uh… well, he’s a junior brother I’m familiar with after all. It’s just because I haven’t seen him for quite a while.”
As Gu XuanYan ended the conversation with silence, the two trekked ahead quietly.
The utterly confused Zhong Yan thought Gu XuanYan didn’t quite know who Qing You was, so he tried to introduce him, “Don’t you remember? Qing You was the one boiling us medicine the last time we got injured by the white ape. Although he loves nagging, he’s an expert in medicine and has a good personality…”
Before Zhong Yan could finish his sentence, Gu XuanYan stopped in his tracks all of a sudden and pulled Zhong Yan’s wrist towards him. Caught off guard, Zhong Yan almost fell onto Gu XuanYan, but he steadied himself at once, “What’s wrong?”
Zhong Yan assumed the trekking opened Gu XuanYan’s wounds once he noticed Gu XuanYan’s sullen expression, so he eyed at his front lapel in haste, “Did your wounds start to hurt again?”
Gu XuanYan’s face slightly lightened up. After looking at how worried Zhong Yan was for quite some time, he released Zhong Yan’s wrist and let out a long sigh before smiling, “Senior Brother, don’t anger me any further.”
Little Gu: Senior Brother, remember to stick close to me.
Little Zhong: Ok, I swear.
Mischievous author: Hehe.
- Literally: On top of the Chinese character for lecherous[色] is the Chinese character for knife[刀]- A Yue Chinese idiom that means being lecherous will lower one’s guard against danger
- Yin SuSu is the mother of Zhang WuJi, the protagonist in the wuxia novel, The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. The phrase was her last words to Zhang WuJi.
- 5 min