Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The two spent their new year in Long River City
Zhong Yan had no idea when Gu XuanYan rented a house, which despite its modest size, was secluded.
Apart from the down to earth, cheerful local cook Gu XuanYan hired, their vicinity was empty of anyone else.
Truth be told, with how high Gu XuanYan’s cultivation base was, he could live without food, yet he took his meals with Zhong Yan every day.
After breakfast, they would have tea and practice with their sword.
During noon, they would either spend their spare time together reading bizarre storybooks from the city or basking idly on the chairs in the courtyard.
The warm rays of sunlight of winter days frequently drove Zhong Yan towards sleep, which lasted till the sun dipped below the western hills.
After rousing Zhong Yan from his slumber and tidying his dishevelled hair, GuXuanYan would take Zhong Yan’s hand while guiding him to dinner.
Never had Gu XuanYan mentioned the conference Tong Ling warned about.
Zhong Yan couldn’t help himself from asking Gu XuanYan about it on two occasions. However, since he got ‘Don’t worry’ as a reply, he stopped mentioning it.
An uncontrollable lament to the system escaped from Zhong Yan. [My life is going to degenerate if this keeps up.]
Early in the morning of New Year’s Eve, Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan embarked to Mount Straying Mist, where fog blanketed its entirety all year round.
Only when they landed on the mountain peak after sword riding did they spot the silhouette of pavilions and terraces peeking out of the mist. They were Gu XuanYan’s former residence.
The absence of caretakers, coupled with them being left to the elements, reduced the housing to shambles. The blood splattered all over on that fateful night had already vanished away, leaving no traces behind.
In front of the gates stood Gu XuanYan, who despite directing his eyes to the mansion, didn’t step in.
Dressed in white with a similarly colored strip of cloth tying up his hair, he appeared as ethereal as a celestial being amid the veil of fog.
A while of gazing later, Zhong Yan ended up tugging on Gu XuanYan’s sleeves
Gu XuanYan revealed a light smile once he came back to reality, “It’s been nearly five years since I returned here; I didn’t expect a bit of nostalgia to rise within me.”
Zhong Yan asked, ” You came back five years ago?”
Gu XuanYan nodded, indifference lining his voice. “I’ve gotten a chance to descend Green Summit then, so I returned to tidy up the remains of my parents and the clan.”
The heartache engulfing Zhong Yan blocked any words from exiting his mouth momentarily.
Gu XuanYan held Zhong Yan’s hand, “Never mind, let’s not go in. I’ll take Senior brother to meet my parents instead.”
Gu XuanYan had buried his clan members in the back of Mount Straying Mist.
Void of any tombstones or inscriptions, the graves laid there in loneliness.
After clearing the weeds and setting a bottle of wine in front of the graves, Gu XuanYan gave three proper kowtows.
Perhaps such was the scene when Gu XuanYan came back to tidy the remains in the past.
Zhong Yan landed his eyes on the row of tombs, his throat tightening slightly.
A few words were right on the tip of his tongue, but in the end, none of them went through his lips.
He simply lifted the hem of his robes and kneeled before kowtowing respectfully.
He assured in his heart.
May all of you rest in peace without any worry. From now on, Gu XuanYan will no longer be alone.
As such a thought crossed his mind, he began to feel the conference and others’ plan on eliminating demonic cultivators weren’t all that significant.
What’s there to be afraid of? As long as we are together, we can even try charging into a tiger’s den.
Zhong Yan had no idea why but such a thought brought about a wave of peacefulness within him.
He turned his head towards the person kneeling beside him.
Gu XuanYan seemingly felt his gaze as he directed his eyes at Zhong Yan, his voice low, “My parents must’ve loved Senior brother.”
Zhong Yan asked, “why?”
A hint of a smile spread on Gu XuanYan’s face, “Because I do.”
Zhong Yan stopped asking further and instead, held Gu Xuan Yan’s hand.
The two had their New Year’s Eve dinner in the living room.
Now that Zhong Yan’s cultivation base had elevated to a higher stage, he no longer felt cold as easily as before.
Therefore, the living room door was left open, granting them a panoramic night view of the courtyard.
Once done with preparing their meals, the cook headed back home to celebrate the new year, but not before being gifted a red packet by Gu XuanYan as a token of good omen.
On the night of New Year’s Eve, Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan were the only ones left in the courtyard.
A jar of ‘Retaining Spring’, Long River City specialty clear wine, supplemented their sumptuous dinner.
“Brewed in the spring of last year and only unsealed on New Year’s Eve, the wine signifies the retaining of last year’s spring and the hope of favourable weather in the coming spring.”
The lack of response from Zhong Yan prompted Gu XuanYan to lift his line of sight towards him, just to see him gulping down the cup of wine, a light red painted on his cheeks.
Only after noticing Gu XuanYan’s gaze did Zhong Yan reply, “I see.”
Gu XuanYan ended up failing to stop him in time.
As he remembered how lightweight the person in front of him was, a mixture of amusement and discontent whirled within him.
Just as Gu XuanYan was about to snatch away the other’s wine cup and help him over to the house and rest, Zhong Yan shifted his eyes towards the door, his tone brisk, “It’s snowing.”
Sure enough, when Gu XuanYan turned over for a look, specks of white were indeed drifting down from the sky.
Due to the absence of wind, snowflakes of the light snowfall fluttered gently down the courtyard, landing without even a wisp of noise.
In contrast, the soft crackling of sparks from the lanterns in the living room sounded much more noticeable.
Gu XuanYan withdrew his line of sight.
“Long River City snows every New Year’s Eve. When my parents were still around, they were always busy eliminating evil and upholding justice. Only on New Year’s Eve did they gain some spare time, which they would spend gazing at the snow around the stove with me.”
He let out a chuckle, “They spent their entire lives eliminating evil and yet their son ended up becoming the demonic lord. If they got hold of this in the underworld, they would probably disown me.”
Zhong Yan retorted in a drunken stupor instantly, “How can that be? They’ll definitely be proud of you if they meet you now.”
Feeling guilt creeping up on him during his retort, he added in haste, “Besides, you rule over the Northern Wilderness now, wielding supreme authority. Your cultivation base is so high; it’s on an equal level with an ascended. You can’t even find many opponents who can rival you… “
With his hand propping his forehead, Zhong Yan prattled on about the advantages of being a Demonic Lord, utterly betraying his mission.
However, Gu XuanYan cut him off before he could finish with a chuckle.
“Isn’t Senior Brother going to mention the most important benefit even after listing so many of them?”
Zhong Yan tossed a look at Gu XuanYan and blinked sluggishly, mild dizziness already plaguing his head.
As Gu XuanYan took in the sight of Zhong Yan, mirth dyed his eyes. His tone was brimming with gentleness.
“Every and any benefit pales in comparison to Senior Brother.”
Typically, Zhong Yan probably would have gone as red as a beetroot, but due to his drunken state, a laugh slipped out from him as well.
Under the flickering flame, Zhong Yan’s eyes were as shining as stars.
“Am I good?”
“The best,” replied Gu XuanYan.
Satisfied, Zhong Yan plopped his head onto the table and dozed off.
Amidst the chaos running through his mind, a muddled thought buzzed within him right before he conked out
This wine’s kickback is much stronger than green plum wine’s. What’s its name again? Oh right, Retaining Spring.
Retaining the entire spring is far too long, just keeping this current moment is enough.
Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan resided in Long River City until the beginning of spring. 1
All things sprouted back to life in that period.
Miles and miles away from the two rose the mountains of Green Summit, where age-old trees expanded out their newly grown branches and leaves.
Colours of fresh green blanketed every single mountain, filling all of them with vitality.
On the contrary, tension loomed over the discussion hall of Green Summit.
The spacious hall was empty most days, yet it was crammed with people at present.
Li Yue, the Sect Leader of Dark Mountain, took a step forward, “Sect Leader Li, just tell us straight up. Are you going to discipline Gu XuanYan and Qin MingXi, those two little rascals?”
Everyone in the hall began creasing their brows at the impoliteness of the tone.
Numerous members of highly reputable sects were present in the hall, such as Amoghavajra Buddhist hall’s Sage Wu of the Buddhism cultivation; the three tribes of spiritual arts cultivation— Green bird, Black Tortoise, and White Tiger; and last but not least, the sect leaders of the three famous Daoist sects—Green Summit, Mount Jade Dwelling, and Herbal Cloud.
Strictly speaking, an insignificant sect like Dark Mountain shouldn’t even have much chances to speak up.
Nonetheless, since Gu XuanYan injured their members, the sect’s victimhood gave rise to Li Yue’s self-confidence.
Li XunJi threw a glance at him, “Qin Mingxi and Gu XuanYan have already been expelled from the sect. Their status and actions, be it positive or negative have nothing to do with us.”
“Sect Leader Li, that’s not quite right.” Li Yue sneered, “Right now, everyone knows that you Green Summit has raised a Demonic Lord of Northern Wilderness. Not only will he destroy one’s cultivation base after a mere chat, but also, he had stolen the Buddhist sect’s relics. Even if he had gotten out of the sect, Green Summit still must share part of the blame too.”
Standing behind the Green Bird tribe leader, Tong Ling poked her head out and argued, “Nonsense! You guys were the ones instigating it by trying to kill Qin MingXi. And yet you still attempt to misrepresent the facts after your loss!”
The humiliating disgrace invoked a bellow from Li Yue, “Where does this disrespectful girl come from? How dare you interrupt us elders!”
The chilly glare from the Green Bird tribe leader shoved the remainder of his hollering back into him.
No longer having the courage to direct his eyes on Tong Ling, Li Yue shifted his focus to Sage Wu.
“Sage, a minor sect like us Dark Mountain dare not speak out after being wronged. But it’s a must to demand an explanation for the theft of the eminent monks’ relics.”
Sage Liao Wu recited a Buddhist chant before answering in a soft voice, “Patron Li is taking it too seriously. Any and everything in the world all comes down to courtesy. If courtesy is present, even servants and beggars have the right to air their grievances.”
After which, he stood up to give a bow.
“Unfortunately, the relics of our temple were lost. Although demonic aura can be found in the pagoda, the stealing might not be Patron Gu’s doing. But as the Demonic Lord, Patron Gu must have had some knowledge about it. So, I would like to ask all of you to head over to Northern Wilderness to seek an explanation.”
Teeming with respect, the monk’s request was neither submissive nor arrogant, plunging the entire hall back into silence.
Even Tong Ling’s refusal of attending was shushed back down her throat by a stare from her tribe leader.
A deep voice rang out amid the silence.
“Let’s go then.”
Everyone looked over to the door, where the sound originated, just to find Ji ChangYun leaning in front of the door with his sword by him.
As he had elevated to the late stage of Lesser Vehicle, anyone would find it hard to miss his presence even if he was standing far back by the door.
He cast a glance at newly grown greenery outside the door, his tone cool as a cucumber.
“Let’s go then; to Northern Wilderness.”