Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Addis, WagahaiFujoshi
Indeed, the town was just a stone’s throw away from Green Summit. As Zhong Yan’s inner cultivation base was still in a weak state, sword riding wasn’t suitable for him. Nonetheless, after just fifteen minutes of trekking, the silhouette of the town walls had already reached their line of sight.
The town, named Even Sun, could be considered populous and affluent. Despite the darkened sky, quite a few pedestrians were roaming around the streets while peddlers of tea stalls and noodles shops frequently hawked by the roadside.
Although the two had their swords slung over them, their appearance wasn’t much of a shock to passerbys. After all, Daoist cultivators were prevalent in the southwest, so even civilians were accustomed to the sight of them
The two followed along the path in the streets and entered a random inn, in which a quick-witted waiter went over to greet them. With a bow and his face brimming with joy, he asked, “Welcome, sir cultivators, would you be staying in?”
Gu XuanYan nodded, “One room, please.”
The briefly frozen Zhong Yan turned his head towards GuXuanYan, “One? “
Gu XuanYan had his eyes on Zhong Yan too, “What’s wrong? “
Erm… Truthfully, Zhong Yan planned on asking Gu XuanYan why he didn’t ask for two rooms. However, a look at the composed expression on Gu XuanYan’s face, as if the number of rooms was just a trivial matter, lodged the question in his mouth.
He could only advise tactfully, “One room might be a bit too small even if we squeeze.”
“Senior brother also shared a room with me during our time in Buddhist Hall,” Gu XuanYan’s tone was gentle, “so what’s wrong with sharing again now?”
That was a question Zhong Yan had no answer to as well. He just found it somewhat awkward; perhaps Gu XuanYan referring to him as his Dao partner in front of a crowd gave him some sort of trauma.
Nonetheless, since Gu XuanYan’s reply was so straightforward, it would seem rather strange if Zhong Yan persisted. True that. It’s not like we have never slept together before.
The two went up the stairs into their room. Only after closing the doors did Gu XuanYan start, “Senior brother, since we are out of the sect, we have become rogue cultivators and will no longer be under the blessing of Green Summit. Green Summit will also broadcast this news to every sect in the Great Wilderness. And when they do, some trouble makers will probably seek us. For convenience sake, we’ll have to share a room during this entire trip.”
Zhong Yan got what he meant right away.
The two were considered to be expelled by the sect. According to the customs, due to their dishonourable morals, expelled disciples must report to all sects of the five cultivation practices. They had to state their severed ties with their former sect and so from then on, their actions, be it positive or negative, had nothing to do with the sect. Moreover, the switch to rogue cultivators meant that they would be the target of many nefarious cultivators, who would murder just to get their victims’ cultivation base.
After all, no sects would stick up for murdered rogue cultivators nor would any sect members seek revenge for them, making it convenient and practical.
As the thought passed Zhong Yan’s mind, he plunged into a deep self-reflection. Look, Gu XuanYan has already begun considering the future problems we might face, and here I am being troubled about us sharing a room; how short-sighted I am!
Conversely, Gu XuanYan didn’t seem to mind much at all as he poured Zhong Yan a cup of tea, “Don’t worry, Senior brother. Since I’m here with you, I definitely can protect you well.”
Instead of ‘will,’ Gu XuanYan opted for the word ‘can.’ His tone was confident in spite of the indifference within it. After all, cultivators who could break through their next stage in advance were as rare as a phoenix’s feathers. Moreover, he was presently the only one who managed to elevate to his Lesser Vehicle stage at such a young age.
This is perhaps the confidence of the powerful… the thought crept into Zhong Yan’s mind. After a sip of tea, he was compelled to remind Gu XuanYan, “You’ve promised me not to kill ever again.”
Seeing how serious Zhong Yan was, Gu XuanYan couldn’t stop himself from laughing, “Of course. Everything Senior brother says is etched into my mind.”
The lack of flippancy on Gu XuanYan’s face calmed Zhong Yan.
After walking to the bedside, Zhong Yan fished out the medicine Qing You gave him. The sight of Gu XuanYan at the table forced a reminder out of Zhong Yan, “Junior Brother, I’m about to apply my medicine.”
As though unaware of the meaning hidden behind Zhong Yan’s reminder, Gu XuanYan remained seated at the table while giving Zhong Yan a nod, “Sure.”
Zhong Yan was rendered speechless at once.
Seeing the cloud of gloom cast over Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan stopped his teasing as he continued tenderly, “Senior Brother, go ahead and change your bandage. I’ll get us something to eat from downstairs.”
After Gu XuanYan went out, Zhong Yan waited till his footsteps got further away before removing his clothes and complaining to the system, [Why do I have a feeling Gu XuanYan is getting weirder by the day?]
The system replied, [Oh? How so?]
Zhong Yan spent a moment pondering, [I just can’t put my finger on it… Don’t you find him weird?]
[I think you are weirder.] The system countered, [Were you this sensitive when living in a dorm in the past? Did you tell your roommates to leave the room whenever you changed?]
The call-out left Zhong Yan briefly at a loss for words. [Why do I get a Schadenfreude-like feel from your tone?]
The system’s tone was justified, [Nonsense. We never bring our emotions to the workplace.]
The interruption of the topic made the speechless Zhong Yan lose any desire to continue, so he changed the subject. [Gu XuanYan’s expulsion from the sect means the plot has already crumbled into bits and pieces. Who knows how things will progress now. I guess me being out of character now should be fine, so from now on, I can just act freely.]
[You went out of character a long time ago.] The system sighed. [Do as you like. The genre of this world had changed anyway.]
[What part of the genre?]
The system’s reply was quiet, [The demographic.]
Being left with question marks circling above him, Zhong Yan wished to ask further, but the opening door interrupted him. Gu XuanYan had returned with a few dishes in hand. Noticing Zhong Yan had finished bandaging up, he set the table and had Zhong Yan come over to start the meal.
As Zhong Yan had never visited such small towns, he was planning on taking a stroll outside after the dinner. However, just when they had finished their meal, it began to rain. Falling under the curtain of night, the rain was light but continuous.
A gaze out the window revealed a series of lanterns hanging on every house’s eaves. The intersecting rays of light shining out of them extended to a great distance away.
Only teahouses and wine stores were operating then. Since there weren’t many customers due to the rain, the waiter propped his head and dozed off at his store.
Occasionally, some young night owls strolled the streets with an umbrella on hand and straw raincoats draped over them. Whenever they stepped on the puddles on the ground by accident, low chuckles rang out under their umbrella, drifting through the rain.
During the time typical for Green Summit disciples to take a rest after their night lessons, an Autumn rain descended upon the Even Sun town, drenching thousands of houses.
Zhong Yan plopped down by the windowsill, commenting in satisfaction after spending a moment gazing outside, “I have never seen the night scene of towns. By the looks of it, a civilian’s life doesn’t seem all that bad.”
Gu XuanYan was beside him, “Even Sun is just a small town. In the future, I’ll bring Senior Brother to Long River City to view its long string of lanterns along with its bustling streets and bridge.”
Curiosity hooked onto Zhong Yan’s mind, “When will we?”
“We’ll find a time to.”
But I might not have the luxury to wait… Zhong Yan thought.
Although Zhong Yan was slightly disappointed after consulting Qing You about the solutions to blood oaths, he plunged obstinately into the books of Green Summit’s library in search for any records of blood oaths. Still, his attempt to find other possible methods was to no avail. Not only were there little to no records of blood oaths, but methods of breaking them were also vague.
Empty-handed after the trip to the library, Zhong Yan came to a conclusion. Except for the two solutions Qing You told him, there was indeed no way out. Despite his train of thoughts straying further away, he still asked, “Since we are already out of Green Summit, can we set out tomorrow?”
The wind began rising, blowing streaks of rain in the window. Gu XuanYan let down the window, his voice light, “If Senior Brother wishes to.”
The present affability of Gu XuanYan brought discomfort to Zhong Yan instead. He asked yet again, “Really?”
Instead of answering, Gu XuanYan gave Zhong Yan a smile, “Go to bed, Senior Brother.”
Thus, Zhong Yan chose not to pursue the question. He stretched himself, his tone laid back, “Let’s turn in early then.”
Perhaps due to his wounds and over exhaustion, Zhong Yan was sound asleep, failing to realise the person beside him had gotten up in the middle of the night.
The rain had already stopped, leaving only the pitter-pattering of droplets falling from the eaves. Gu XuanYan pushed the window open. A moment later, a northern goshawk flew over from nowhere, landing lightly on the windowsill.
The goshawk was coated in black; the only colors it had was the blood-red in its eyes. Demonic aura blanketing it scattered all over.
However, as though feeling the pressure of Gu XuanYan, it was as still as a statue, at the discretion of him. Only after Gu XuanYan removed the slip of paper tied on one of its legs did it shake its wings and fly into the darkness.
Gu XuanYan opened the slip of paper, revealing six words.
‘A clean room awaits upon arrival.’
Gu XuanYan’s expression was composed as he read the message. After reciting an incantation, he threw the paper out the window. In an instant, the slip of paper burned into ashes, falling silently into the rainwater.