Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
They two departed the next day. Due to Gu XuanYan’s popularity in the sect, hordes of sect members gathered by the gate to send him off. A cacophony of voices surrounded Gu XuanYan as everyone flocked around him, advising him to take good care of himself and to return soon. More than happy to be in the background, Zhong Yan kept utterly silent.
Despite being encircled, Gu XuanYan didn’t even have a hint of annoyance on his face. Only after bidding farewell to the crowd did he turn to face Zhong Yan, who stood as still as a statue at one side, “Senior Brother, let’s go.”
The famous Buddhist sect in the Great Wilderness, Amoghavajra Buddhist Hall was located in the Amoghavajra mountain at the northern sea, isolated from the rest of the world. Since it was rather far away, the two of them rode their swords. After a long while, they finally reached their destination. The monk in charge of receiving guests had already been waiting by the sea. Once he saw the two of them, he brought his hands together in prayer and chanted, “Amitabha.”
Gu XuanYan returned the prayer, “We heard that Sage ShiYin has elevated in the ways of Buddhism, Green Summit’s Gu XuanYan and Qin MingXi are here to congratulate him on behalf of our Sect Leader.”
The monk kowtowed, “This disciple is Shan Xun. Patron Gu and Patron Qin must be tired after traveling. Please follow me into the temple to rest.”
Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan followed Shan Xun into the hall. Usually, only cultivating monks lived on the island Amoghavajra Buddhist Hall was built on. Due to the congratulation ceremony, a variety of cultivators congregated there. Gu XuanYan asked, “May I ask who else is attending the ceremony?”
After musing for a short while, Shan Xun answered, “Buddhist cultivators of GuanYun Buddhist hall, spirit cultivators of Mount FuLing, martial art cultivators of Grand City, demonic cultivators of the Northern Wilderness, Daoist cultivators of Mount Jade Dwelling and Herbal Cloud and both of you from Green Summit.”
Curiosity got the better of Zhong Yan, “Wait. Spirit and demonic cultivators are here too?”
Shan Xun replied, “All cultivators are equal. If kindness is present in them, does their cultivation type matter?”
Zhong Yan’s face flushed red while Gu XuanYan took the heat off him in a gentle tone, “Well said, saint. My senior brother has never met any spirit or demonic cultivators as this is the first time he has left the sect. He is just curious and meant no offense.”
Zhong Yan let out a sigh of relief before expressing his gratitude to Gu XuanYan in his heart. It would be great if you remained kind all the time. However, in the next second, Gu XuanYan asked again, “May I know the cultivators who came in the name of Mount Jade Dwelling and Herbal Cloud? Being a fellow Daoist cultivator, we should visit them.”
“Of course. Mount Jade Dwelling’s Patron Liang Zheng and Herbal Cloud’s Patron Chun Qin are here.”
Zhong Yan’s heart sank a little.
He had no idea who Liang Zheng was, nor did the story depict much about him, so Liang Zheng probably wasn’t an important character. However, Chun Qin was the sect elder of Herbal Cloud and also one of the culprits responsible for the massacre of Gu XuanYan’s clan. He was Gu XuanYan’s second victim.
Gu XuanYan had forced out the names of every single perpetrator from Li YunJi before he killed him. Since he dared to kill his master in the sect, he definitely would do the same to Chun Qin if given a chance.
Once that thought crossed Zhong Yan’s mind, he raised his head to take a glance at Gu XuanYan, who still wore a smile on his face while thanking the monk.
Gu XuanYan’s room was right beside Zhong Yan’s. The moment Zhong Yan went into his room, he threw a question to the system right away. [Gu XuanYan’s revenge killing isn’t considered the same as his maniacal murders further in the story, right?]
The system had a calm tone. [According to our rules, Gu XuanYan is strictly forbidden from killing, no matter who the victim is. Twenty points will be deducted whenever he kills someone. Currently, you have a hundred points. Of course, we may take reasons such as killing out of self-defense into consideration too.]
Zhong Yan got annoyed. [This is just too absurd… What if I have no points left? Does that mean I can go back?]
The system’s reply was still cool and collected. [You will end up just like your test.]
Words failed Zhong Yan upon hearing that.
Noticing Zhong Yan had gone speechless, the system consoled him. [Think positive; look how timely you transmigrated. You won’t get points deducted for the death of Li YunJi.]
After two rolls on the bed and a punch on the pillow, Zhong Yan finally accepted his fate. [I remember he killed Chun Qin the night before the ceremony in the story, but that was because he chanced upon him in the Buddhist Hall. There wasn’t a part about him asking Shan Xun about him, so I have no idea if the story will go as planned.] Zhong Yan knitted his brows and pondered for a moment before shaking his head. [Whatever. Everything should be fine if I stop him from having any chance to find Chun Qin.]
With that idea in mind, Zhong Yan jumped down his bed and knocked on the door of the room next to his. Gu XuanYan raised a slightly quizzical brow when he saw Zhong Yan at the door, “Senior Brother, is there anything I can help you with?”
Zhong Yan grinned, “It’s just too boring to stay in the room alone, so I came here to be with Junior Gu.”
“Oh?” Gu XuanYan replied, “I thought Senior Qin doesn’t like to be with me.”
Not sure if any underlying message was hidden in Gu XuanYan’s reply, Zhong Yan laughed dryly, “No way. I seriously wish to be closer with Junior Gu.”
Zhong Yan somehow pleased Gu XuanYan with his answer; Gu XuanYan chuckled lightly before shifting to a side, “Please come in, Senior Brother.”
Zhong Yan entered the room. Although the rooms in the Buddhist hall weren’t all that small, their décor was plain and simple. Only a bed and a table and chair set were in the room; there was a partition separating the two. Zhong Yan sat at the table while Gu XuanYan poured him a cup of tea. “Amoghavajra Buddhist Hall’s monk fruit tea is famously superb; please give it a try, Senior Brother.”
Zhong Yan took the cup of tea and gulped it down before giving Gu XuanYan customary flattery right away, “Not bad indeed.”
Gu XuanYan threw the question back at him, “Oh? How so?”
Why do I have to answer a pop quiz here too… Being a hermit who grew up drinking coke, Zhong Yan had no choice but to tough it out, “There’s a little sweet aftertaste… oh, and a whiff of bamboo, too.”
Upon hearing that, Gu XuanYan froze for a split second, “There isn’t any bamboo in monk fruit tea.” Something seemed to come to his mind as he continued with a smile, “However, as Green Summit is cold and damp, I will usually light a bit of green bamboo incense to get rid of the dampness. As time passed, my clothes started having a bit of its smell too. The bamboo smell is probably from my clothes.” Following that, he asked slowly, “Hasn’t Senior Brother smelled it before?”
Fucking hell… After cursing inwardly, Zhong Yan flashed a look of sudden realization, “I see.” After which, he took a slightly sheepish look on Gu XuanYan, “This is the first time I noticed the smell. It sure is fragrant.”
Both of their eyes locked for a moment before Gu XuanYan took his gaze away, “If Senior Brother likes it, I will send some over when we return to Green Summit. I will be paying a visit to the seniors from Mount Jade Dwelling and Herbal Cloud, Senior Brother…”
Zhong Yan set the cup down hastily, “I’ll go with you!”
Mount Jade Dwelling’s Liang Zheng resided in the hall opposite them. As he was also a disciple and was relatively young, he was quite shy towards them. Once Gu XuanYan told him the name of his sect, his eyes lit up at once, “So you must be Gu XuanYan.” He started explaining himself, seemingly embarrassed at his actions, “I have heard about the proficient Green Summit’s chief disciple, Gu XuanYan, who entered the Golden Core stage at the age of eighteen. I finally get the chance to meet you in person today.”
Gu XuanYan gave a humble response, “Thank you, but it’s just an over-exaggeration. Mount Jade Dwelling is famous for the countless talents it has. As expected, seeing is believing.”
Zhong Yan stood by the side, as quiet as a mouse. He murmured in his heart. Wow. Cultivators are so fake too. Out of the blue, an elderly voice boomed out from one side, “What’s all the ruckus?”
The three of them turned their heads in unison. The door of the room beside Liang Zheng opened as a white-bearded old man stepped out. With a look of annoyance, he roared again, “What’s with the ruckus?!”
Although the trio was chitchatting, they kept their volume low; in no way were they shouting. Still, Liang Zheng bowed and greeted hurriedly, “Elder Chun.”
Zhong Yan knew who the old man was right away. Sure enough, Liang Zheng introduced him to them, “This is Herbal Cloud’s Elder Chun Qin. They are Green Summit’s Junior Gu XuanYan and Junior Qin MingXi.”
What a coincidence. Zhong Yan lamented in his heart before moving towards Gu XuanYan hastily, worried Gu XuanYan wouldn’t be able to hold himself back from revenge killing right there and then.
After sweeping a glance at Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan shifted his line of sight back to Chun Qin, “Greetings to Elder Qin, this one is Green Summit’s Gu XuanYan.”
Zhong Yan followed suit. Chun Qin tossed a look at the two, stopping on Zhong Yan as he started mocking, “Oh my, even a disciple with a mere Essence Condensation rank dares to disgrace the sect by going out. If you were my disciple, I would have expelled you already.”
Not a single expression was on Zhong Yan’s face; he just treated it as though he wasn’t the one being insulted. Chun Qin’s line of sight landed on Gu XuanYan next. He began frowning right away, envy flashing across his eyes. At last, he spoke after quite some time, “Good; good. In the Golden Core stage at such a young age. The young sure is to be reckoned with.”
Although it was worded appropriately, he spoke it through gritted teeth, hatred almost oozing out of every word. Zhong Yan’s heart zinged with unease. On the contrary, Gu XuanYan had a gentle, elegant smile on his face, as if unaware of the old man’s tone, “I still have much to learn from Elder Qin.”
Despite being in his sixties, Chun Qin was still stuck in the late stage of Golden Core, unable to elevate to Lesser Vehicle. Naturally, jealousy filled his heart to the brim when he saw Gu XuanYan. Fortunately, he didn’t know which clan Gu XuanYan belonged to and was mindful to not fight in the Buddhist Hall. He only replied with a scoff before returning to his room with a slam of the door.
Liang Zheng seemingly sighed in relief. With a bitter smile, he consoled both of them in whispers, “Please don’t take it to heart. Elder Qin has a bad temper; during the two days here, he has already offended a large majority of the cultivators. When I arrived, I paid him a visit. His attitude then was even worse. Actually, it might be due to my inability to socialize. In truth, Junior ChangYun should be the one attending, but he had something going on all of a sudden…”
Zhong Yan’s heart skipped a beat instantly as he cut him off in haste, “ChangYun? You mean Ji ChangYun?”
Liang Zheng was shocked, “Indeed so. Does Junior Qin know Junior Ji?”
Not only do I know him, but I’m also super familiar with his life! He’s the main character!
Apart from Gu XuanYan, the only characters Zhong Yan encountered ever since his transmigration were either minor characters or mob characters like him. There were even a series of changes inconsistent with the story. The unexpected mention of the main character finally gave Zhong Yan a feeling he was truly in the web novel’s world.
Zhong Yan clutched Liang Zheng’s hands, tears almost brimming from his eyes. After quite a while, he finally uttered, “Is your Junior Ji doing well?”
Liang Zheng stammered, “Not-not bad. Is Junior Qin acquainted with Junior Ji’s?”
Only then did Zhong Yan notice his excessive keenness; he hurriedly withdrew his hands, “No. I heard Mount Jade Dwelling’s Ji ChangYun is accomplished, so I have been admiring him.”
Liang Zheng had pride all over his face once he heard Zhong Yan’s praise, “No wonder. Our Junior Ji is highly talented, righteous, and is usually…”
Gu XuanYan interrupted abruptly, “Senior Brother, it’s time to head back. The monks will be delivering meals soon.”
Zhong Yan wanted to ask where Ji ChangYun was, but upon hearing that, he had no choice but to bid Liang Zheng farewell. When the two of them returned to their lodgings, yet again, Zhong Yan shamelessly went into Gu XuanYan’s room. Instead of stopping him, Gu XuanYan simply closed the door, “Despite being in Green Summit for years, Senior Brother still knows about other sect’s members.”
Zhong Yan had no one but himself to blame for being overly excited. He summoned up his courage and explained, “Erm… I only heard of Ji ChangYun from the juniors. Since many praise him, he must be a pleasant person. So, I asked out of curiosity.”
Gu XuanYan nodded, neither anger nor joy on his face, and asked once more, “What about me?”
Gu XuanYan clarified gently, “Many often praise me too. What does Senior Brother think about me?”
You are crazy in my opinion…
Although Zhong Yan was a little disgruntled, he racked his brains for ideas, “Junior Gu has a powerful cultivation base, looks noble and dignified, and is the cream of the crop.”
Gu XuanYan’s tone went as cold as ice, “Senior Brother sure has a way with words.”
If I do, why do you look so irritated? Zhong Yan truly felt Gu XuanYan had a screw loose, but he still had to sweet-talk him. After thinking momentarily, he added, “Of course, Junior Gu is the best in my heart.”
Once he said so, Gu XuanYan’s expression eased up.
Zhong Yan was clueless about Gu XuanYan’s change of emotions. The only explanation he could come up with was since Gu XuanYan was talented and intelligent, it wasn’t strange for him to be prideful too. He probably disliked hearing others being praised in his presence, so his competitive spirit rose.
Tsk tsk tsk, how can a villain be this petty?
Gu XuanYan didn’t know an image of him being spiteful and narrow-minded had already been etched in Zhong Yan’s mind. As the sky darkened to black, Gu XuanYan lit up the lights and asked, “Is Senior Brother not planning on going back to rest?”
Instantly, Zhong Yan recited the script he prepared in his mind, “Junior Brother, there is a multitude of people staying here; what if the perpetrator is really among us? Since my cultivation base is meager, I doubt I can even cry for help if he decided on silencing me at night. Why don’t I share a room with you?”
Gu XuanYan froze for a moment. Before he could reply, the system started making a fuss. [Aren’t you afraid he will just stab you in the middle of the night?]
Exasperated, Zhong Yan answered internally. [Duh. But before we depart, Gu XuanYan made a promise in front of the sect elders that he will protect me well. He can’t just kill me the day we arrive at the Buddhist hall, right? Besides, I think he wants Chun Qin dead more than me, so I should be able to delay my death sentence.]
The system was at a loss for words. After some time passed, it uttered. [You are so positive.]
Just as Zhong Yan was about to reply, [I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea.] Gu XuanYan accepted his suggestion, “All right then. Sorry for any inconvenience caused, Senior Brother.”
Although Zhong Yan appeared to be clear-minded during his conversation with the system, fear still occupied a part of his heart. After getting on the bed, he made a cautious plea, “Junior Brother, please protect me well.”
Gu XuanYan let out a light chuckle and blew the lights out. In a split second, the room descended into pure darkness. The only sound audible was Gu XuanYan’s voice, his tone as cool as a cucumber, as chilly as ice, “Of course, Senior Brother.”
Regret engulfed Zhong Yan the very moment. Why don’t I give up on those twenty points? I think it’s better for me to go back. However. Gu XuanYan had already got on the bed. He pulled the blanket, whispering, “Senior Brother, good night.”
Zhong Yan had no choice but to lay down. After a while, he got a feeling Gu XuanYan had probably fallen asleep. As his restless heart finally calmed down, he couldn’t help dozing off slowly.
When the respiration of Zhong Yan stabilized, Gu XuanYan opened his eyes and turned towards him.
Moonlight seeped in through the window. Zhong Yan’s face looked ghastly white under the illumination. Gu XuanYan stared at the person sound asleep beside him before reaching his hands out and hooking them around Zhong Yan’s neck.
With just a bit more pressure, Gu XuanYan could asphyxiate the dreaming Gu XuanYan to death instantly.
Nevertheless, in the end, he only pressed his index finger gently twice on Zhong Yan’s green blood vessel. Quite sometime later, he relaxed his hands.