Chapter 1: Myriad Demon Congregation
The autumn night was especially chilling. The various residences in the Mortal Realm had long shut their doors and snuffed out their lights to rest.
Deep in the mountain forests, thousands of demons were gathered.
The many species of demons had made an unprecedented attempt to come together after casting aside their differences, be they tigers, rabbits, foxes, or snakes… All kinds of demons were present. At this moment, the entire forest was filled with voices from the various demon species; some loud, some soft, others even charming. Seated right at the top were ten Demon Monarchs. These ten experts stood at the apex within the Demon Realm, but they were wearing heavy frowns between their brows.
"Demonfolks, I believe everyone is aware of the recent happenings!" Tigers were one of the more domineering species, so the demons immediately fell silent the moment the Tiger Monarch spoke. "As fellow demons, in light of the crisis we are facing, I believe that we should put aside our differences and work to overcome the problem facing us." "But there is something amiss about this matter." The Wolf Monarch frowned. "We still have no idea who it is that attacked us, nor do we know their aim."
"Is there even a need to guess?" The Tiger Monarch snorted coldly. "Other than the cultivators from the Six Schools Three Sects, who else would do this? Just think about how many of us demons they have slaughtered over the years!"
"But we have always tried to stay out of the cultivation sects' way as much as possible. Why would they suddenly blockade the path out of our Demon Realm?" the Wolf Monarch questioned doubtfully.
"That's right! The worst the demons who went beyond the Demon Realm borders did was to devour some mere mortals. It's not as if the disciples of the Six Schools Three Sects had been eaten," analyzed the Snake Monarch. "There's no need for them to go this far, right?"
"Isn't that so!" the Panther Monarch agreed indignantly. "All these years, which demon has never devoured a mortal before? Why would the Six Schools Three Sects suddenly make things difficult for us? I don't think it is them." "That's right. Everyone knows that the demonic aura of our realm is damaging to their cultivation, making it rare for them to approach the periphery forest of our realm. Why would they suddenly deploy manpower to guard the borders?"
"But… other than the Six Schools Three Sects, who else possesses the might to kill every demon who stepped out of the Demon Realm over the past three months?" insisted the Tiger Monarch.
The Eagle Monarch nodded, seeming as if having recalled something. It shook its feathers and said, "I heard that the demons who traversed out of the Demon Realm were left without bodies. They were even mercilessly slaughtered, skinned, and cooked. There were corpses that were left to dry on the ancient Pagoda Tree in the forest. Such ruthless means… makes them truly worse than a beast!"
"It's completely intolerable!" The Tiger Monarch smashed the stone armrest of its seat and stood up furiously. "My fellow Demon Monarchs, rather than guessing blindly, why don't we just forge our way out and figure out the culprit's identity? I refuse to believe that—no matter how powerful they are—they will be able to stand against the horde of our great demon army!" Those words immediately gained the approval of the other nine Demon Monarchs. Indeed, rather than to cower in fear, they might as well take the initiative to strike.
"That's right!" echoed the Deer Monarch. "My children died at their hands. Instead of guessing, I'd rather slaughter a way out. So what if they are the Six Schools Three Sects. When have we demons been afraid of them?"
"Well said! Isn't that the very reason why we are gathered here today? Regardless of who the culprit is, we have to slaughter our way out to exact vengeance for our brethren!" Even the timid Rabbit Monarch also stood up and echoed in agreement. After all, the species that had suffered the greatest losses was the rabbits.
"Agreed! If we don't exact vengeance, it would be embarrassing to call ourselves demons!"
"The dead souls of our departed brethren, we vow to exact revenge for you!" "We shall rid those despicable humans and bring peace back to our Demon Realm!"
"For the Demon Realm…"
The other Demon Monarchs stood up in support, and even the demons gathered in the area returned to their true forms, baring their claws as they cried out for revenge. They were the very picture of an army that was prepared to march to war. All sorts of roarings from the demons swept through the area and reverberated through the clouds endlessly until…
"Hey…" A faint voice suddenly sounded amid the demon horde. "I don't think there is a need for you to proceed."
This objection that suddenly sounded amid the fervent demons managed to capture the attention of the demons despite being faint. The roarings came to an abrupt halt, and all the demons immediately scanned their surroundings for the perpetrator.
"Who is it?" the Tiger Monarch roared furiously as it searched for that cowardly demon.
Despite possessing keen senses, the demons failed to find the one who had said those words.
"Who was the one who spoke earlier?" The Tiger Monarch was infuriated. "Where did such a timid demon come from? Show yourself!"
"Here! I'm here!"
"Where?" The demons scanned their surroundings once more, but still failed to find the originator of the voice.
"Here, here…" That voice sounded once more. "To your left, left… That's too much! Right, a little more to the right… You missed it again! Over here, look here!"
The demons followed the instructions of the voice, but they still failed to find the person. "Sigh! Forget it, I'm here!"
It was only after a sigh sounded and a figure used all its limbs to climb up to the stand where the Demon Monarchs were seated did the demons finally see the source of the voice.
It was a woman dressed in a gray robe. Her shoulders were slouched weakly and her spiritless eyes seemed to droop lowly. Her entire being seemed to effuse an aura of laziness. She had a short and skinny figure, and her face was a little sallow.
Instantly, a single word emerged in the minds of every single demon: "Weak!" She was way too weak! Even the weakest, most pathetic demon present could blow her away with a single puff.
It was no wonder they had failed to find her despite searching all day; such a demon was simply way too inconspicuous.
The hot-blooded Tiger Monarch could not stand for any of this. With an angry snort it said fiercely, "Hmph, you gutless fellow. To think a few mere cultivators are able to scare you to the point of assuming such a form." Demons possessed the ability to morph themselves, but this was the Myriad Demon Congregation. The demons gathered here were in their true forms yet she had chosen to retain her human form instead. This irritated the Tiger Monarch even further. "You do not dare show your true form to us? What kind of demon are you?"
"I'm human," answered the woman.
"A human demon?" The Tiger Monarch was taken aback. "What's a human demon? I have never heard of one before!"
"…" The woman's face twitched. Hey, don't insult me.
"How dare a random lesser demon like you attend the Myriad Demon Congregation?" The Tiger Monarch glared at the woman furiously. "You spineless lesser demon, don't you continue your nonsense and dampen the morale of our warriors who seek revenge!"
"No, I'm serious." The woman raised her hand, showing no repentance. However, her gesture only caused her shoulder to slouch even further, making her look even weaker. "There is really no need for you to seek the culprit for revenge."
"More of these demoralizing words?!" The Tiger Monarch became incensed as he roared, "Do you think that I'm afraid of devouring a lesser demon like you?"
"Even after you eat me, there's no need for you to make a wasted trip, right?"
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that the merciless fellow you spoke of earlier who slaughtered demons and is worse than beasts…" She sighed and patted her gray robe. With that same spiritless look on her face, she pointed at herself. "Might… be me!"
All the demons: "…"
The entire area fell silent for three seconds.
Three seconds later…
As soon as they snapped to their senses, the demons simultaneously pounced at the woman.
However, the woman gave a long sigh while exuding that same languid attitude…
These little animals or whatever they are—sure are troublesome!
Five minutes later. Demon carcasses were strewn across the ground along flowing rivers of blood…
Thus, the curtain closed on the first and last Myriad Demon Congregation!
 Human demon literally means transvestites in Chinese.
Chapter 2: Rabbits are Delicious
The rowdy forest had turned so silent that not even the sound of critters could be heard.
The gray-robed woman sat cross-legged on the carcass of a massive tiger in a daze, having that same frail look from before. After a moment of silence, she sighed and muttered to herself, "Sigh… How tiring. It's time to return home!"
With that said, she slowly got off the tiger carcass and rubbed her flat stomach. She was feeling a little hungry. She surveyed the demon carcasses of all shapes and sizes around her. Since she had come here, she might as well… have supper?
After some thought, she turned and walked up to the snow- white Rabbit Monarch on her right. But just as she was about to reach for its tail to drag it away, the supposedly dead Rabbit Monarch suddenly came alive.
(⊙ o ⊙) It did not flee after it leaped up; instead it began kowtowing to her, producing a series of thuds against the ground.
"Exalted Immortal, please spare me! I was wrong, I had been entertaining angels unawares yet have offended you!" Covered in snot and tears, the Rabbit Monarch's massive head repeatedly struck the ground forcefully. Its body was trembling so vigorously that waves were flowing down its rabbit fur.
"You were feigning death?" The woman blinked before squatting down before the rabbit.
The Rabbit Monarch trembled even more vigorously. "Exalted Immortal, please have mercy on me! I am just a mere rabbit monarch. I'm not like them. I only eat grass and have never eaten a human before! I have elderly rabbits and young rabbits to care for. I am even pregnant with a whole fluffle of them. I can't die now! Please, spare me!"
She was just too horrifying. The Rabbit Monarch had never seen anyone with a cultivation so high. Despite looking weaker than a mortal, she was able to vanquish over ten thousand demons in the blink of an eye. Furthermore, nine of them were tenth-stage Demon Monarchs. Despite the complete lack of methodology in her movements, she had wiped out more than ten great demons with a single swat. The demons were all dead before they figured anything about her strength.
Terrifying… just too terrifying…
It was no wonder not a single demon who had left the Demon Realm in the past three months returned—such a powerful individual could destroy every demon in existence within a couple of hours.
"You are pregnant with bunnies?" the woman suddenly asked.
"Y-yes." The Rabbit Monarch nodded as it subconsciously tried to suck in its tummy.
"Oh." The woman fell into a momentary daze before nodding at it. "Congratulations!"
"Ah?!" The Rabbit Monarch was taken aback as it instinctively replied, "Th-thank you?" What was the meaning of this? Did she have her sights on the bunnies in its tummy?
"Have you really never eaten a human before?"
"Yes, yes!" The Rabbit Monarch nodded its head frantically. "I cultivate in the Way of the Herbivore. Look at my fur, there isn't the slightest bit of blood or grievance on it."
"I see. You may leave then!" The woman waved her hands carefreely and instructed, "Remember to eat more grass when you return and continue bearing more grass-eating rabbits."
"Ah! Ah?" The Rabbit Monarch was completely dumbfounded as it widened its eyes in disbelief. "You plan on… letting me go?"
"Yup." The woman nodded. Moments later, she added vaguely, "Supper is fattening."
The Rabbit Monarch found it unbelievable to be so easily spared. It glanced at the demons carcasses scattered across the land. "A-are… you really not going to kill me?" "It's not like I have any interest in slaughtering little animals. Why would I lie to you?" The Rabbit Monarch did not eat humans after all.
"B-but… we rabbits were the ones that suffered the greatest casualties when we exited the Demon Realm…" The Rabbit Monarch spoke halfway before covering its mouth immediately. More than a hundred demons had died in the past three months, of which a third were rabbit demons.
"Well…" The woman did not show the least bit of anger. Instead, she seemed to give the matter some serious thought before replying, "That does seem to be the case."
"Well, that's because rabbits are delicious!"
"… What?!" What the heck was that reason?
(╯°Д°)╯(┻━┻ However, the woman maintained her languidness as she babbled on in all seriousness, "Look… Deer meat is too tough; fox meat has a stench; tigers are protected animals, so I don't really dare to eat them. As for snake meat, it has too many bones…" She began counting with her fingers, one animal at a time before concluding, "That's why, you rabbits are still the best. Yes… delicious!"
The Rabbit Monarch felt bitterness rise up in it. So the reason why the rabbits had suffered such great casualties was because of the quality of their meat! It didn't want to be delicious at all!
Wait a moment!
A nearly ludicrous answer surfaced in the Rabbit Monarch's mind. "So, Exalted Immortal, the reason why you killed those demons was to…"
"Eat, of course!" The woman replied matter-of-factly. "I need to live too."
"…" So the reason why there were no remains left from those demons was because they were used as food? Wasn't grain abstinence a fundamental requirement for human cultivators? That bunch of liars from the Six Schools Three Sects!
"Oh, it's different this time." The woman suddenly recalled something as she pointed to the demon carcasses on the ground and clarified, "I live in a straw cottage nearby. The lot of you were still making a din despite it being so late; thus, waking me up. And you know… who doesn't have a morning temper? That's why I came over to take a look."
"…" The reason why so many demons died was simply because they were too loud?
The Rabbit Monarch felt taken aback by the harsh realities of the world. It realized that the woman was about to turn and leave after having explained herself. Perhaps it was due to her casual tone which stood in contrast to the power she possessed that the Rabbit Monarch suddenly mustered the courage to carry out a bold plan. "Exalted Immortal, please wait a moment!"
The woman stopped in her footsteps and turned around to say, "Is there anything else?"
"E-exalted Immortal!" The Rabbit Monarch tried its best to repress its fear. "I might be able to provide some assistance if you lack any ingredients for your meals. We rabbit demons are numerous in number and we are scattered across an extensive piece of land. We can procure all sorts of food for you. Why not…" It took a look at the woman to gauge her response before gulping down a mouthful of saliva and biting the bullet to continue, "What do you think about me delivering ingredients for your meals punctually every day?"
"Ah, you can do that?" The woman's eyes lit up for a moment before dimming in the next. "But I don't have money for food delivery."
What the heck is food delivery?
"Exalted Immortal, it's a way for me to show my respect for you. There is no need for you to pay me!"
"But that would be too embarrassing…" The woman's face blushed suddenly as she scratched her head awkwardly. "Won't it be inconveniencing you greatly?"
"No no no, not at all!" Overwhelmed by the flattery, the Rabbit Monarch hurriedly shook its head.
"Oh, thank you then."
"It's only right to do so," said the Rabbit Monarch with a fawning smile. Only then did it muster the bit of its rabbit guts to mention its motive. "Then… the next time we rabbits leave the Demon Realm, is it possible for you to… spare them?"
"Sure!" The woman nodded without any hesitation. "It's fine as long as they don't eat humans."
"Exalted Immortal, rest assured. They are all herbivores." The Rabbit Monarch reeled in disbelief. It had never expected the woman to be so agreeable to its proposal. Furthermore… she was rather polite. "It's settled then. I will deliver food to your residence from tomorrow onwards."
"I will be troubling you then."
"It's no trouble at all."
"If there is nothing else, I'll be heading back to bed."
"Exalted Immortal, take care!"
"Oh?" "May I know how I should address you?"
"Oh, my name is Shen Ying."
"Exalted Immortal Shen, take care…"
Chapter 3: Disturbing a Sweet Dream
When Shen Ying went back to her straw cottage, it was already midnight. She pulled open the blanket, laid inside and breathed a deep sigh of relief—it was finally quiet.
It had already been four months since she had transmigrated into this world, yet she had no idea where this place filled with weird-looking trees was. Having a poor sense of direction, she had spent several days wandering within the forest where no other humans could be seen. She had been starving after braving the wilderness for a few days when she finally met a couple of hunters that had scaled the mountain. The sweet potatoes which they gave her had comforted her protesting stomach temporarily.
At first they invited her to leave the mountain together, but holding the hope that she might transmigrate back with some sheer luck, she rejected their offer. She returned to the straw cottage hoping that it would happen sometime. Despite looking old and shabby like it could collapse any moment, this straw cottage managed to keep the wind and rain out. After staying there for a few days, the homebody in her erupted, and she lost all her desire to move. Who would have known that once she started to shut herself inside the cottage, it would last four months. Since she could not return and had long finished the sweet potatoes that were given her, she had no choice but to go out and search for food.
Within the depths of the forest, she could not differentiate between what was edible and what was not. There were quite a lot of small animals which seemed to have had a little too much nutrition as they were larger than the norm. Moreover, she realized that those small animals could actually talk.
Being an atheist, she was utterly shocked in the beginning. However, as her hunger persisted, she could care less about strange powers and deities. She had already transmigrated to a different world, so how would it be hard for her to accept that some animals were a little different?
It was all until she stumbled upon a black rabbit biting someone which she conveniently beat up, and in doing so saved the people being attacked. On a closer look, she realized that those people looked familiar—they were the hunters who had previously given her sweet potatoes. That was when she found out that those small creatures were actually demons who devoured humans. The small group of hunters thought that she was a deity and thanked her profusely. This time she was not invited to leave the mountain. They praised her actions of slaughtering demons and encouraged her to kill more so as to prevent them from eating humans, all whilst stuffing more sweet potatoes towards her.
Shen Ying, who originally had the intention of leaving the mountain: "…"
Looking at the sweet potatoes in her hands, she was too embarrassed to say that she wanted to quit. From then on, she led a life of slaughtering demons, starting by hunting those weird-looking small animals—at least their meat tasted better than sweet potatoes.
Once she started hunting, she realized something was different about her body. She had never hunted before, yet no matter what kind of weird little creature she encountered, she was able to capture them easily. Her strength was so great that even she could not believe it herself.
Some of the small animals even had special abilities such as spewing fire, breaking the ground with their paws and so on. However, these skills seemed useless against her. The damage inflicted by the fire they spewed would at most burn the corner of her clothing while them breaking apart the ground would only end up burying her for a bit before she climbed right back out. There were even times when she purposely let them bite her and they ended up with a mouth full of chipped-off fangs.
Her skin looked exactly like it was before, soft as ever, yet her opponents simply could not bite through it. Initially, she had thought that this was because those small animals were too weak. She even went to try lifting the century-old gigantic tree behind her cottage, and in the end she lifted that tree which had deep and intertwining roots with as little effort as pulling out a scallion. Dozens of trees around her cottage were completely uprooted by her, and as a result… she had conveniently cleared out a yard.
-_-||| At that moment she finally acknowledged one thing, and that was the fact that she… just might be invincible in this world?
She felt that these differences between this otherworld and Earth was absolutely normal, just like how Earth and the moon had different gravities.
To be completely honest, after discovering this problem, she had wanted to find someone to acknowledge that there were indeed deities in this world, but to her dismay she barely met more than a handful of people in a month. Her character had always been happy-go-lucky: to put it nicely would be that she was adaptable to her circumstances, but to put it bluntly would be that she did not strive for progress and was a totally lazy shut-in. Her life was truly lacking in any pursuits.
Although her culinary skills were not exactly out of this world
—more often than not, the food would be burnt or overcooked— but at the very least she would not go hungry. Eating the meat of animals that could talk felt a little awkward but the more she ate, the more she grew used to it.
╮(╯_╰)╭ "So sleepy…" Shen Ying stretched her lazy bones as drowsiness overwhelmed her while she pulled at her old, tattered blanket. This night had been especially tiring and she could finally continue sleeping. Hopefully she would not encounter anymore events that would disturb her from her sweet dreams.
With such thoughts in mind, she closed her eyes. Yet at that moment, a sudden rumble jolted her.
A bolt of lightning struck the cottage roof and tore open a great hole. Rustling noises followed as hay was sent flying everywhere. Most of the cottage had fallen apart after suffering the lightning strike, leaving only a tiny portion above her bed intact.
Shen Ying: "…"
Then a loud boom resounded which was closely followed by a person falling into the yard, his blood splattering all over the place. His originally white shirt was half stained with blood and he was covered in numerous wounds. "Hahaha…" An arrogant laughter rang out in the air, and then a black shadow slowly landed on the ruins of her cottage. "Youngling Yi Qing, didn't you want to annihilate fiends and defend the Dao? Weren't you going to kill me? Why are you not taking action yet?"
"Rui Mi… " The man who had fallen into the yard struggled to stand, but the severity of his injuries made it almost impossible for him to support his body upright. "You fiend, using living human souls to offer sacrifice to a Soul Devouring Banner is condemned by us orthodox cultivators!"
"Hmph! Still stubborn as ever!" The person in black snorted coldly. "Yi Qing, just because you cultivate in the sword, you chased me for three consecutive days and nights which nearly caused the destruction of the Soul Devouring Banner that I went to great efforts to create. Now, I'll sacrifice you to the Banner to appease my hatred for you!"
The Soul Devouring Banner was raised up along with those words. Right at that moment, dozens of lightning bolts shot out towards the yard. Not only was the man struck by those lightning bolts till he was limp, several gaping craters were made in the surroundings as well. Shen Ying furrowed her brows… My yard.
"Hahaha… How does it feel to have demonic auras entering you?" The person in black sniggered. "The painstaking efforts I put in to set up this soul gathering array during the three days used to lure you in were not a waste."
"Who asked you to be a busybody." Rui Mi sneered. "It was just the killing of a few mere mortals. Not even the Blackheaven Sect would question it, so who are you to meddle and interfere?"
"What nonsense!" Yi Qing spewed a mouthful of blood, barely having any Spirit Qi left. He had never imagined that this fiend cultivator would have such guts to set up a soul gathering array at the entrance of the Demon Realm. His carelessness had ended up letting demonic aura enter his body and his Spirit Qi to dissipate completely. Hence, he was ambushed successfully and now he was already wounded to this state. While he was only an itinerant cultivator, he was certainly cultivating the orthodox Dharmic Dao, seeking the supreme Great Dao. How could he watch helplessly and not act as the fiend captured human souls? Weren't the lives of mortals also lives? As a sect with an exalted immortal, it was impossible for the Blackheaven Sect to ignore such matters; they had only yet to discover this deed.
"Forget it. Since you are bent on courting death, I shall grant it to you today!" Rui Mi raised the gonfalon in hand, ready to attack.
"Hey, you…" A gentle female voice sounded from the right side.
"Who's that?" Rui Mi was taken aback. He violently turned his head back to check, but all he saw was someone covered in dust with a blanket over their body. Her body was filthy and her messy hair even had several pieces of hay stuck in it. His heart contracted—it was a woman. Since when was she here? Even with his level of cultivation, he had not detected anything at all!
He gave her a good look over and then realized she was void of any cultivation. He was relieved that she was only mortal.
"I can't believe that there is a mortal living deep within the mountainous forest." Rui Mi's lips formed a strange arc. "Another good material to sacrifice to the Banner."
"What are you intending!" At his words, the man on the ground was provoked and used all his might to crawl up, shouting, "You still have thoughts of harming people?!"
"Aren't you so kind." Rui Mi showed disdain on his face. He walked in Shen Ying's direction and said, "You are already in such a state yet you still have thoughts of saving others!"
"Stop it! Rui Mi, she is only a mortal."
"Heh heh…" His grin widened. "My Soul Devouring Banner isn't picky towards the souls of mortals."
"You! Lady, start running! He is not a good person!" The man on the ground tried to climb to his feet but was utterly powerless to stop Rui Mi's footsteps. He was only capable of shouting for Shen Ying to escape as his voice reached a crescendo. "Hmph, is it even possible for her to escape?"
"Stop right there!"
"I am thinking…" Shen Ying pulled away her blanket, her brows furrowed. "Can't you all be quieter? It's already very late."
Rui Mi had already walked to the side of her bed. Hearing such a remark from her, he sniggered and said, "Heh heh. Little girl, I am going to give you quiet right away! The kind that lasts forever."
He raised the gonfalon in his hand which instantly sparked with lightning…
Shen Ying stood up cooperatively, letting out a long sigh once again. She then stretched her hand out calmly, which passed through the heavy bolts of lightning, and grabbed the other party by the collar. Uh?
Rui Mi was shocked but before he could react, he felt the world spinning around him.
Shen Ying gripped his collar and flung him to the right, slamming him to the ground. She switched her grip, and then he was flung to the left as if he were a cloth sack. To the left and right he went, and at that moment the whole forest was filled with the sounds of smacking along with her unhappy grumbling.
"I already said I have a bad temper when I wake up. Who asked you to disrupt my sleep! Who asked you to disrupt my sleep! Who asked you to disrupt my sleep…"
Yi Qing: "…"
Was he… seeing things?
But before his mind could register the scene before him, darkness fell before his eyes and finally, he fainted.
Chapter 4: Sword Cultivator Yi Qing
When Yi Qing next awoke, he found that he was still lying in that courtyard in the same exact position he was at before. Due to the severity of his injuries and his blurry vision, he could only vaguely see the shadowy outlines of two figures, one gray and one white, and both seemed to be talking. The white figure which was huge, was exuding a faint demonic aura.
Are there demons here? He could not help being worried; not for himself, but for the girl he had met earlier. Was she alright? But he was really too exhausted and before long, he lost consciousness again.
The second time he awoke, he was still lying there, his position unchanged. He felt better this time and could vaguely hear the sound of voices.
"Exalted Immortal Shen, I am here again! Come and see, this here is the most delicious food in the Demon Realm!"
"Carrot?" "That's right, and as juicy as it is tasty too. Just look at the color, the water content. It's the kind that our species loves to eat most."
"Er… Just as I had thought, you are just a mere rabbit. Can't you switch it for something else?"
"As per your wish, Exalted Immortal, no problem, Exalted Immortal! Exalted Immortal, do you desire anything else?"
"Yes, there is something. Can you…"
As to what that was he did not find out; he had blacked out again.
The third time he awoke, he was still… still… still… lying in the courtyard. Yes, still in the same position. -_-|||
This time he finally regained his mental faculties. At last, he could turn his head and identify the gray figure. It was the girl from last night, and she seemed to be… digging a hole in the ground!
"Oh, so you are still alive!" she said with a deep sigh.
At that moment, Yi Qing felt that she seemed disappointed.
But what was she disappointed about? That he was still alive?
Before he could think further on it, he saw that she had climbed directly out of the pit which was waist deep. She had something in her hand which she brought to his mouth. In a casual tone she asked him, "Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?"
Taking a look at it, Yi Qing saw to his surprise that it was a rare ten thousand-year-old Ice Ginseng! It looked like he had over thought matters as this kind of precious herb, which could heal and restore the meridians in a person's body, was rare even in the Six Schools Three Sects. And yet she had given it to him to heal his injuries without a second thought! This girl was simply too kind-hearted. He hesitated to accept it as he felt he could not repay this great act of kindness. However, in his current sorry state, he really needed it. After thinking it over, he finally nodded and said, "Thanks."
Filled with gratitude, he lowered his head and chewed at the ten thousand-year-old Ice Ginseng in her hand until there was nothing left. Almost immediately, the Spirit Qi in his body began to recover, and his severed meridians started to rejuvenate.
Shen Ying looked on in silence. This man had lain unmoving in the courtyard for many days. At first, she had thought that he was dead as he was not even breathing. But as she had a lazy streak and she really could not be bothered to drag him out, she had just left him lying there. She had decided to dig a pit for him today, being in the mood, but he came back to life in the end.
"Are you full? Do you want some more?" Shen Ying took out another piece of carrot that the Rabbit Monarch had given her.
Yi Qing wanted very much to answer her, but his body was hurting too much; the pain from the rejuvenation of his body's meridians was not something that a normal person could bear. Moreover, he was unable to block out his five senses which had been suppressed by demonic aura, and this greatly increased his suffering. After holding out for ten breaths, he finally fainted.
"Hey! Are you alright?" Noticing that the man had suddenly stopped moving again, Shen Ying prodded at the carrot in her hand. "Don't tell me he's allergic to carrots?"
(⊙ o ⊙)
I should check his breath… Oh no, he's not breathing again!
Shen Ying: "…"
What a waste of effort!
○ | ̄|_
Yi Qing later awoke for the fourth time. And yes, he was still lying on the ground. At this point, the meridians in his entire body had rejuvenated; only, he could not activate his Spirit Qi as his body had not rid itself completely of the demonic aura. As for that girl in gray, she was still… still at work digging the pit.
It was the same pit except that only now, instead of being waist deep, it had reached neck height.
"Miss?" He sat up, unable to keep quiet any longer.
The girl earnestly digging at the pit stopped working and turned around. For a moment, there was stunned silence. "Huh? You are not dead after all?" She frowned and sighed before climbing out of the pit using her hands and feet. While climbing out she kept grumbling, "You should have told me earlier. I was digging for so long."
Yi Qing helped to pull her out of the pit. Turning round to look at the deep pit, he subconsciously asked, "Miss, you mean…" He could not help but get the feeling that she was even more disappointed this time.
Shen Ying's face seemed to twitch slightly. She gave a cough and with an earnest face replied, "It's not what you think. Previously, the one in black caused many holes in the yard. I was thinking of levelling them."
"But you were digging a pit just now!" Yi Qing was growing more bewildered.
"Yes!" She continued, "If I don't dig, where will I get the earth to level the holes?"
For a while, Yi Qing felt perplexed. Why did he feel that there was something wrong with this logic? But he did not pursue it further, turning instead to face her. Bowing respectfully, he said, "I'm Yi Qing. Thank you for saving my life."
What? Shen Ying was confused. When did she save him? (⊙_⊙)
"May I know my benefactor's name?"
"Miss Shen, I don't know how to repay you for saving my life. From now on, if you have any orders, I will carry it out as long as it doesn't violate human rights."
"There's no need. I didn't do anything actually."
"No, this debt must be repaid, otherwise it would go against my Dao values. Please tell me your biddings, my benefactor."
"I haven't anything that needs doing…" She thought for a while before passing the metal spade to him, saying, "Maybe you can help me fill up the pit. I spent ten days digging it—it was really tedious." "Yes!" Delighted, Yi Qing took over the metal spade from her, replying, "I will definitely not disappoint you."
"Er… as long as you are happy. I'm going back to wash my hands."
"Please take care, my benefactor!" He bowed once again.
Only then did Shen Ying return to the cottage.
Yi Qing's overly strong body constitution was exactly what defined a Sword Cultivator. Although the demonic aura in his body was not completely removed yet and he could not wield his sorcery, filling up the pit was definitely within his capabilities. Within a short period of time, he filled up all the holes in the entire yard, including the almost two-meter deep pit that Shen Ying had dug.
Just when he was about to make a report to his benefactor, he suddenly felt a great rush of Yin Qi engulfing him; he felt as if he had fallen into an ice cave. His body geared itself immediately for battle. This was demonic aura! A very strong demonic aura!
"Who are you?" Summoning his weapon, he turned towards the source of the demonic aura.
A huge, white figure with long ears, red lips and rabbit's mouth came hopping out from the forest. It was a rabbit demon, its whole body exuding an almost palpable demonic aura. It was at least at the eighth-stage, no… perhaps even higher! A demonic aura that had reached such an unbelievable level… this was a Demon Monarch!
Yi Qing immediately felt a sense of helplessness. He had not expected to encounter a Demon Monarch at this time. Notwithstanding the fact that he had not recovered his Spirit Qi, even if he were at his peak, with his Golden Core cultivation, there was no way he could have defeated this Demon Monarch who was as powerful as a Nascent Soul cultivator.
Although Immortal Cultivators had always accomplished feats which went against the will of heaven, he had prepared himself for death once he had embarked on this path. But at this moment, his concern was with the person in the house. His death did not matter, but what about his benefactor? He could never let anything endanger her before his debt was repaid.
At this point in his thoughts, he stepped forward directly, holding tightly to the sword in his hand. He had to protect his benefactor even at the cost of his life. As he tried to forcibly activate his Spirit Qi, his body immediately suffered a backlash from the demonic aura inside him and his mouth became filled with the taste of blood.
Chapter 5: The Hidden Expert
As the Demon Monarch drew closer, Yi Qing finally had a clearer view of it. It was being followed by a bunch of slightly smaller white silhouettes—there were other rabbit demons! There were as many as up to 20 of them.
It was a group of highly powerful rabbit demons!
Yi Qing's heart sank. One Demon Monarch had already forced him to try to bring out all his might, yet a whole group of demons…
While he was considering whether to self-destruct his Golden Core and fight to the very last breath, that Demon Monarch shook its long ears. Suddenly, it opened its mouth unhurriedly and spoke in a tone that was extremely sycophantic…?
"Hello, may I ask if Exalted Immortal Shen is here?"
"You…" Yi Qing had forced out a huge move but held it back, unsure of whether he should unleash it. "Oh, I have a date with the Exalted Immortal at this time," the Demon Monarch explained with a laugh, sounding even more sycophantic and almost subservient. "Is the Exalted Immortal busy? It's alright, we can totally wait."
As it spoke, it turned towards the colony of rabbits behind it. With a wave of its paw, around ten of the highly powerful rabbit demons fell into a straight line in a snap. They sat in an orderly row and did not so much as wag their tails, not to mention attack.
Yi Qing was a little confused. These were… demons? What about the known fact that the nature of demons was evil and that they would eat every human they came across?
"Benefactor, fear not. We are all nice herbivorous rabbits." Seemingly understanding his thoughts, the Rabbit Monarch was slightly anxious and afraid that he would misunderstand and so continued to explain, "It's true, we are different from the other demons. We never eat humans." At the end of its words, it clenched its claws and the rabbits became even more well- mannered. "…"
"Hey, Rabbit, you're here." Yi Qing had yet to have a single clue as to what was going on when Shen Ying walked over after having washed her hands, drying them on that gray robe of hers as she said, "You're pretty early."
"Exalted Immortal." The Rabbit Monarch's body quivered as if having received an electric shock. Its originally upright rabbit body collapsed in a second and it laid feebly on the ground. If not for the fact that it was retaining a rabbit's form, this scene would actually have seemed obsequious. "As per your orders, I have already found all the manpower you need."
Shen Ying turned to scan the surroundings and asked, "Why are they all rabbits? Are you sure it will work?"
"Exalted Immortal, fret not." The Rabbit Monarch strongly nodded its head. "My rabbits and rabbit grandchildren have always been dexterous with their work. It will not be a problem to let them handle it." "But they look…" Shen Ying took a quick glance at the sets of four snow-white paws which belonged to the surrounding colony of rabbits and asked, "Will it be convenient?"
"Oh." The Rabbit Monarch was stupefied for a moment, but then finally understood what she meant and replied, "It's alright. They are already capable of morphing but are just accustomed to the form of a rabbit."
At those words, sure enough, around ten or so rabbits stood up simultaneously as their rabbit bodies transformed. Within a moment they had manifested human forms, except… with rabbit heads.
Shen Ying's mouth twitched as she couldn't bear to look.
"Alright, that's tough on you." She promptly waved her hand to bring them in. The Rabbit Monarch then led the colony of rabbits into the yard. Yi Qing was unsure whether if it was an illusion, but he kept getting the feeling that every rabbit that passed by the Benefactor seemed to quiver subconsciously.
"Benefactor, they are…" Yi Qing could not hold the question in any longer because she seemed to be the one who had invited these rabbit demons.
"Oh, I asked them to come and help out." Shen Ying pointed to the straw cottage at the back and continued, "Wasn't my house torn apart that day? I didn't know how to fix it, but luckily it didn't rain these past few days so I barely managed to make do with it. The rabbit said that it knew how to fix it, which is why I got it to help fix my house."
"…" Asked a Demon Monarch to fix the house!
Yi Qing was taken aback. Demons were not just any creatures
—they had always been on opposing sides from the humans, so how could they be willing to be ordered about by a human? But very quickly, he came to a realization that they indeed would be willing!
The colony of rabbit demons had already hastily begun fixing the cottage, each working on their allocated tasks: chopping trees, laying hay, and building beams. With a clear division of labor, they exhibited an impeccable sense of cooperation as if they had practiced this numerous times before.
Yi Qing was full of questions but he saw that Shen Ying was already calmly folding up her sleeves, ready to help out.
Just as she was going to lend them an extra pair of hands, the paws of a rabbit demon that was closest to her suddenly shook and the beam it was hugging onto fell to the ground with a loud thud. Shen Ying immediately caught it with her hands—just in time before it crashed down onto another rabbit.
"Are you alright?" She turned and asked. However, all the rabbit did was to well up in tears and drop to its knees sobbing, "Exalted Immortal, please spare my life. I didn't mean it. Sorry, sorry, sorry!"
Its action of kneeling seemed to have sent some sort of signal to the rest of the rabbit demons as they followed suit, quickly dropping to their knees and beginning to frantically kowtow.
Shen Ying: "…" All I wanted was to help. Are your traumas that serious?
"Forget it." Feeling resigned, she passed the beam to Yi Qing at the back and said, "Here you go! All of you can continue, I am not going to take part…"
She turned around and walked back to the yard feeling a prick in her heart, wondering: was she really that scary?
She sat down on the stone bench in the yard and leaned forward, habitually lazing on the stone table like a slob. Forget it, she thought to herself. Since her help was not needed, she was also too lazy to budge. The sunshine was especially great for… sleeping.
Hence, within two minutes, snores could be heard coming from the stone table!
Once those sounds reached their ears, Yi Qing clearly heard the entire cohort of rabbit demons heaving sighs of relief, appearing as if they had just survived a disaster. Even their speed of rebuilding the cottage increased quite a bit.
"Thank you, Benefactor." A rabbit demon took over the cottage beam from his hands with a face filled with gratitude, obliviously treating him like a friend who had shared adversity together.
"All of you… why would you be so afraid of Lady Shen," he couldn't help but ask.
"Did you not know?!" The rabbit demon's face was filled with astonishment—wasn't he the Exalted Immortal's friend? The Rabbit Monarch had clearly stated that he had stayed in this yard for a month. "Actually… I am not very sure." The rabbit demon took a quick glance at the Monarch who was laying hay on the roof and lowered his volume. "It is because the Monarch said that this Exalted Immortal has boundless powers and nobody is her match. No one knows which stage of cultivation she has achieved. She lived in such solitude for many moons, purposely intercepting those demons who left the realm to devour humans for fun. I have heard that previously, the nine Demon Monarchs who had combined forces could not even take a blow from her. This is why our Monarch repeatedly advised us not to agitate the Exalted Immortal."
The more Yi Qing listened, the wider his eyes became. Little had he expected Lady Shen to be… No, Senior Shen was actually such a formidable character? He suddenly thought of the night when he was heavily wounded and fell here; Rui Mi had been beaten up so badly all over. Initially, he had thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him, but that was actually all real?
Upon deeper thought, he remembered that after he woke up, there was indeed no sign of Rui Mi. In any case, he was a Golden Core Fiend Cultivator, so unless one had achieved an equal stage in sword cultivation or unless a Nascent Soul cultivator came to help, nobody would be able to do anything to him. If Shen Ying were only a mortal with no cultivation, it would have been impossible to escape from that fiend's clutches.
He took a closer look at the person laying on the stone table, dripping saliva and snoring soundly, who did not seem so impressive. She still did not show any signs of possessing Spirit Qi, appearing just like a feeble mortal. Such a situation could only be possible under two conditions: one was that she truly was just a mere mortal; the second possibility would be that she had already achieved an extremely high level of cultivation, possibly the Soul Formation stage or higher, allowing her to return to the simplest and purest of forms, able to control Spirit Qi with such ease that ordinary people would not be able to tell.
According to these rabbit demons, she was obviously the latter.
Yi Qing's heart immediately began to stir with excitement, and even his Heart of the Sword that had been quiet for so long quivered with excitement. This was an expert, and one that nobody could even fathom any understanding of.
At the same time, the soundly asleep Expert Ying smacked her lips together and all of a sudden, she began to subconsciously talk in her sleep, "Heh heh, braised meat in brown sauce… Chicken with Szechuan pepper… Szechuan-style bean curd…"
Yi Qing: "…"
Oh, it must be some kind of extremely advanced Dharmic Dao.
It must be!
Chapter 6: Volunteering as a Disciple
When Shen Ying woke up, the sky had already turned dark. The rabbits were nowhere to be found, and there was no one in sight except for a man who was still in a bloody white set of clothing sitting opposite of her, looking at her with a perplexed expression on his face.
Shen Ying was blank for a moment before recalling who this person was. Oh… it's that pit guy.
"What happened to the rabbits? Where have they gone?" She turned around to take a look and then realized that the cottage was already fixed. It had become even bigger than before—from a small straw cottage, it had transformed into a huge five-room straw house. What a great bunch of rabbits!
"After they were done with fixing your house, they were afraid of disrupting your sleep, so they went back first." Yi Qing explained as he pointed to a pile of food ingredients, "This was left by the Rabbit Monarch who said that this is today's portion."
"Oh." Shen Ying scratched her head and stretched her lazy bones. She walked to the pile of ingredients and conveniently picked up one of them. Her brows furrowed as she said, "Why is it carrots again? Sigh… They are indeed a bunch of rabbits. Yesterday it was red turnips, today it is white radish. Holy shit! There's also green turnip. Don't tell me they are giving me purple ones tomorrow?"
Yi Qing followed behind her with an array of thoughts surging in his mind. Even a ten thousand-year-old Ice Ginseng and thousand-year-old Green Spirit were treated just like normal carrots—she was indeed a hidden expert.
"Forget it, I shall make do with this and just eat it." Thinking it was really just carrots, Shen Ying sighed. With a carrot in hand and a vegetable basket in the other, she munched on the carrot as she prepared to go into the house. However, when she turned her head around and saw Yi Qing, she paused for a moment.
"Hey? Why aren't you going?" She chewed on her carrots, making loud crunching noises as she said, "You can walk, can't you? You want to stay here and freeload? I only have carrots." She then offered the basket towards him, signalling for him to feel free to take any.
Yi Qing's heart was warmed and he immediately saluted her with cupped fists. "Thank you Senior, but my meridians have already been recuperated. I do not need this."
"Oh." Shen Ying had no idea what he was saying but could only guess that he meant he did not want to eat. "In that case, goodbye!" she said, keeping the basket. She then turned towards the house.
"Senior Shen!" he shouted after her hurriedly.
"Huh?" Shen Ying turned her head around once again and asked, "Is there still anything else?"
Yi Qing furrowed and relaxed his brows in turn, seeming to be very conflicted. His expression kept changing from hesitance to worry, then it showed adoration followed by anticipation and so on. After a while, he seemed to have finally mustered up courage and dropped down onto his knees, respectfully giving a bow. "Senior, please accept me as your disciple!"
"Huh?" She was immediately dumbfounded. What was going on? What disciple? What did he hope to learn from her? To be a total lazy shut-in?
"I am an itinerant cultivator with no home, sect nor master. Currently, I am a Golden Core Sword Cultivator wholeheartedly seeking the Dao, and my wish is to use the sword in my hand to eliminate all the heretic spirits in the world." Yi Qing earnestly said, "I am so lucky to have gotten to know you Senior, and I truly admire Senior's righteousness. Pardon my boldness in asking you to accept me under your wing, but I do hope that you will allow it."
He then conscientiously gave her three loud kowtows with a face of eagerness.
"Are you… kidding?" Shen Ying's mouth twitched. Was this person alright in the head? He did seem to have an allergy towards carrots. Could this be some kind of post-allergy symptom? "Senior." His expression grew more solemn as he continued, "You and I were complete strangers, yet you rescued me in a time of danger, aided in my recovery and took care of me in all other aspects. I am afraid that I will never be able to repay all your kindness in this lifetime."
"So… you want to bite the hand that fed you?" Did he actually want to rely on her? She was already destitute. What a funny way of thinking he had!
"Senior please do not be mistaken," he explained hurriedly. "I truly admire you, Senior, which is why I want to learn under your wing. It is not solely because of your cultivation, but more so due to my respect for your virtues and ethics."
It was universally known among all the cultivators in the world that cultivating the heart and mind to achieve immortality was the orthodox way, just like how he had stepped into the Dao and set his determination to eliminate all heretic spirits in the world as his Dao Heart. He was an itinerant cultivator and he had seen numerous individuals, who held the respect of the public and were viewed with high prestige, commit sinister and atrocious deeds in secret. More often than not, the higher one progressed in cultivation, the more easily one forgot the original purpose in their heart and become burdened by mental demons. But who in the world could truly be void of any selfish motives, and who could maintain such kindness? Even he could not guarantee if there would come a day when he would deviate from his path and become lost. Hence, he had preferred to suffer hardships through solitary cultivation rather than to follow under the wing of any other just so that he would not be implicated with such karma, even if he possessed an Innate Sword Embodiment.
However, Shen Ying was different. Her cultivation had reached a level that others could only admire from a distance yet she preferred to live in seclusion within these deep old forests, and by the entrance of the Demon Realm at that. Neither pursuing any fame nor fortune, having no fear of death. The rarest quality was to have a kind heart that did not falter, to extend a helping hand to strangers. To be able to hold on to one's heart's original purpose up till now—what was Immortal Ascension compared to this?
His heart had been surging with emotions the moment he realized the truth. Such a person was like a clear spring in this filthy world. He wanted to be just like her, to forever stay true to his heart, and even more so to become as strong as her.
"I am truly sincere in learning cultivation from you, Senior. Please grant me this chance!"
"Are you for real?!" This person must be seriously ill in the head. What should I do? So troublesome!
"The sun and moon, as well as heaven and earth can testify my sincerity!"
"Heh heh…" Shen Ying's mouth twitched as she suddenly snapped, "I do not accept!"
She turned around and went into the house, slamming the door shut.
What! Taking in a disciple?! Even in primary school she was held back a year twice.
—————————— "Exalted Immortal, what happened to Benefactor?" The Rabbit Monarch could not hold back from asking any longer as it pointed outside of the house and said, "I saw that he has been kneeling for three days."
"Benefactor?" Shen Ying took a while before she realized that the rabbit was referring to Yi Qing. "What else could it be. Probably because he takes things too hard!" Ever since that day, this person had been truly pestering her, wanting to become her disciple desperately. No matter how patiently she coaxed and persuaded him, even when she resorted to trickery, his determination to become her disciple never wavered. He had been kneeling in the yard for three days and did not want to get up in spite of everything. This had reduced her quality of sleep recently.
Sigh. If she had known, she would not have fed him so many carrots. Now look at what the post-allergy symptoms had made him become.
"Oh right, did you bring the item that I requested for previously? Did you bring it along?" She simply took over the basket from its hands and started looking through it. "Yes I brought it, I brought it." The Rabbit Monarch nodded hastily. "How could I dare forget instructions from the Exalted Immortal?" He took out a bunch of meats from the basket which included pork, lamb and beef. "These are what I made my rabbit grandchildren rush throughout the night to the mortal town fifty kilometers away to get. They are still fresh!"
"Mortal town?" Shen Ying turned back to glance at the rabbit.
The Rabbit Monarch was immediately panic-stricken and said, "They manifested into human forms and used the pearls given by the clam demons to exchange for them, so they did not scare anyone."
"Oh, that's hard on you." She picked up a piece of meat and ran straight to the kitchen at the back. After having munched on carrots for several days, there was finally meat to eat, and more specifically there was pork. The images of different pork dishes flashed across her mind: spicy pork stir-fry, braised pork in brown sauce, boiled pork… The mere thought of them already had her salivating.
But then the problem came—she did not know how to cook them! Groan~~(╯_╰)b
Chapter 7: Sealed by Force
Stumped by the problem, Shen Ying could only do what she usually did in the past: dump the meat in the water, wait for it to be cooked and then fish it out to eat. She took a bite when it was done. The flavor was bland, astringent and made her whole mouth feel numb—the greater the expectation, the harsher the reality.
She opened her mouth and spat it out. Bleh, bleh, bleh. Disgusting. It had not bothered her much in the past as she had cooked simply for the sake of satisfying her hunger. But now that the rabbit had taken care of her food ingredients problem why did she find the food so unpalatable?
Clearly, the culinary arts was a profound field of knowledge.
She silently turned her head to look at her newly appointed gofer. "Do you know how to cook?"
The rabbit gave a shudder, shaking its head vigorously. "I eat grass! I have never done any cooking before. What's more, I… I'm afraid of fire!" Okay, she finally gave up; it seemed that she would not be able to enjoy a normal meal. This just went to show that having a skill was indeed important. Her university should have taught the culinary arts. Shen Ying slumped her shoulders in despair. What to do now, the food was wasted and there was nothing else…
Suddenly, an idea struck her. Turning round, she ran towards the front door of her house, pushed it open and rushed towards the man kneeling in the yard. "Hey, whoever you are…"
The person in the yard was taken aback at first but seeing it was her, immediately clasped his fists in salutation. "I'm Yi Qing."
"Err, can you cook?"
Though bewildered by her question, he nevertheless honestly replied, "I did a little cooking before I started Grain Liberation for my Qi Refinement."
"That means you do know!" Shen Ying skipped in delight. "Yes, I do know… a little."
"Good!" Slapping his shoulders hard, she said, "You have my approval."
"From this day onwards, you are my chef… arh!" She quickly corrected herself. "You are my disciple!"
"…" Yi Qing was stunned for a moment, then his face broke into a huge grin. Taking a few deep breaths, he turned toward her and bowed three times. "Thank you for granting my request, Senior. I am your disciple, Yi Qing. Please accept my respects, Master."
"Okay, okay, get up, no need to stand on ceremony. We are family now!" She laughed, helping him up. "I'm a little hungry now. Can you prepare a meal first?"
"Yes!" Still wearing an expression of delight and disbelief on his face, he stood up immediately and entered the kitchen with light- hearted footsteps.
An hour later…
The table was already set with plates of delicious-smelling food.
"Master, this is my first attempt. I hope it will be to your taste?" Yi Qing said in nervous anticipation.
Shen Ying was so busy stuffing her mouth with food that she did not bother to reply, only nodding as she ate. Finally, she mumbled indistinctly, "Ya, ya, ya…"
Damn! The food was delicious. Although it was just simple home-cooked fare, for somebody who had been living on pig food and carrots for half a year, even a piece of fermented tofu would smell heavenly. Moreover, the food was very well- cooked.
Shen Ying swept up the food on the table like a whirlwind till her stomach finally protested. Only then did she sit back and let off a string of hiccups.
This was sheer happiness; her stomach felt revived. She had definitely picked up a treasure.
Turning to look at her cheaply gotten disciple in satisfaction, she discovered that he had been sitting motionlessly at the table all the while, silently watching her eat.
"Why aren't you eating? Not hungry?" She seemed to recall that he had been kneeling for the past three days so he probably hadn't eaten anything, as he had even rejected the carrot and cabbage that she offered. She had assumed that he was on a hunger strike. Now that she had already given her promise why was he still not eating?
"Master, during my Foundation Establishment, I had already begun practising Grain Liberation. Moreover, the food of mortals is not beneficial to cultivation, so I…" He stopped in mid-sentence as if having realised something. Eyes brightening, he asked, "Is Master telling me that eating the food of mortals is a form of cultivation?"
With that said, he happily took up the chopsticks and started eating.
"No!" Shen Ying slapped at his chopsticks. How would I have known that you did not need to eat! "I am unlike you. I eat because I'm hungry, because I have to. Since food is not beneficial to your cultivation, then better not eat." There was no knowing what harm the food might cause to his stomach.
This was why he should not have asked her to be his master. Their specialities did not even match, and that could lead to harmful consequences!
"Yes, Master." He put down the chopsticks without hesitation.
Having finally eaten a good meal, Shen Ying felt that her life was now complete. She felt lazy and lethargic. She lay on the table in an unbecoming posture like a spineless insect, her eyes gradually losing their focus on the surroundings.
As Yi Qing was now used to seeing her in this sorry condition, he started to clear the table. Shen Ying looked on with eyes half- closed. She wanted to help as he was the one who had done the cooking. However, she was too lazy to move, so she silently watched him enter the kitchen. At that instant, a thought arose in her mind—maybe taking in a disciple was not that bad after all.
"Master." Yi Qing, who had emerged from the kitchen after doing the dishes, suddenly spoke.
"Yes?" she answered, turning her head around before resting it on the table again.
Yi Qing hesitated for a while before asking, "I have a matter to consult with Master."
"Yes." "Could Master reveal the whereabouts of the Fiendish Cultivator Rui Mi, the one I fought against?" He frowned and continued on, "He used the souls of living mortals as offerings to the Soul Devouring Gonfalon. A great debt of blood is on his hands. Not only that, his whole body is covered in venom from cultivating an extremely vicious fiendish technique."
"Oh, that guy… he was carried off by the rabbit." Shen Ying answered lifelessly. "The rabbit said it liked his flesh, said it wanted to take him back to make carrot stew, so I let it have him." She could not just leave him lying in the yard afterall.
"In that case, it's fine…" Yi Qing heaved a sigh of relief. Even if the Fiendish Cultivator had survived, he would meet no good end in the face of that Demon Monarch's cultivation. Moreover, the venom in his body would have no effect on demonic aura.
"By the way!" She tilted her head which had been resting on the table. "That guy seemed to have left something behind…"
Shen Ying fell into thought for a while before she gave a sigh and slowly got up from the table using her hands as support. After lifting the curtain in the house, she suddenly crawled to the bed, trying to grab at something. "Master?"
"Found it!" She gave a tug and suddenly pulled out a black flag. "This is the one. The rabbit only carried out his body, but left this behind. You want it?" She extended it to him.
"The Soul Devouring Banner!" Shocked, Yi Qing took the flag from her and looked at it closely. The flag was covered with swirls of black Qi. His face turned pale instantly. "Oh no, the Banner is under the control of his master. The Soul Devouring Array is about to collapse, and inside it are all the ghosts of those who died in grievance…" His expression grew more serious as a certain thought crossed his mind. He sat down immediately in the lotus position. "We must quickly seal them off."
He immediately forced his Spirit Qi to activate, directing it to imprint the layout of an array. The moment the array formation appeared in his hand, the demonic aura in his body once again engulfed and attacked his meridians. He opened his mouth and blood spurted out in a gush. His clothes, already covered in blood stains, were dyed into an even deeper shade of red. "Hey, hey, hey, what's happening. Are you alright?" Shen Ying got a fright. Why was he doing this?
Yi Qing did not answer as he was enduring the great pain caused by his meridians being gradually severed by the demonic aura. He forced himself to complete the array formation imprint in his hand, stopping only after the array formation had taken shape and suppressed the swirls of black Qi on the flag. His body started to sway on the spot, and then he once again collapsed onto the floor.
Chapter 8: Infiltration of the Demonic Aura
"Hey." Shen Ying nudged him and exclaimed, "What happened to you? Chef… Disciple, don't you scare me!"
"Master… Do… not… worry! It's alright!"
How could he be alright, especially since he had vomited blood? Holy shit he's still vomiting!
Shen Ying was flustered. She had just accepted a disciple, but would it only be a one-off episode? She did not how to cure people and in addition to that, she was unsure of how things worked in this world. She pondered for a moment before rushing into the forest, conveniently grabbing hold of a small animal nearby that had just stepped out of the Demon Realm to get it to look for the rabbit.
The rabbit was rather quick as it had hopped over and arrived under ten minutes. "Exalted Immortal, were you looking for me?"
"Come in to the kitchen… Uh, it's the disciple." She beckoned it to come over.
The Rabbit Monarch quickly manifested a human form and followed suit. A person who barely had any breath left was lying on the ground with an eerie-looking flag beside them, and what happened could be immediately inferred.
"Exalted Immortal, demonic aura has invaded Benefactor's body and since he has just regulated his meridians, he did not manage to discharge the demonic aura in time. On top of that, he forcefully used Spirit Qi to seal the eerie flag causing the demonic aura to invade and harm his internal organs, thereby resulting in the damage of his Golden Core."
What did that mean? She did not understand a thing.
"So how can it be cured?" "This…" The Rabbit Monarch was perplexed as it shook its ears and replied, "Demonic aura has been known to be extremely toxic to cultivators. The aura has been circulating in Benefactor's body for a long time, so it will be difficult to expel it unless… we use the internal core of a demon to draw it out of his body."
"What's a demon's core?"
"Before attaining wisdom, every demon will form a demon core within their bodies." The Rabbit Monarch pointed at its own stomach. "It is the foundation of the demon races' cultivation. Also, a normal demon core will not work. Only the core of a demon that is eighth-stage or above can be used."
"This…" Shen Ying looked at the rabbit's stomach, subtly implying something.
The Rabbit Monarch shivered and retreated a couple of steps, crying out, "Exalted Immortal, I… I cannot do this! Although I am a tenth-stage Demon Monarch, once the demon core leaves my body… I will be a dead rabbit." "Oh." Shen Ying was clearly disappointed.
"Master, you need not worry about me," said Yi Qing hurriedly, vomiting blood at the same time. "I willingly drew out my power to seal the Soul Devouring Gonfalon. It does not concern anyone else. To die after… being accepted under your wing, I… can die with no regrets!"
"If you can't talk, then stop talking." Shen Ying sighed and squatted beside him, patting his back to help him regulate his breath. She then suddenly thought of something and directed her gaze at the Rabbit Monarch, asking, "Rabbit, how does a demon core look like?"
"It may vary." The Rabbit Monarch shrunk backwards in fear. "There are different kinds of demons among us and our innate natures differ, making it so that our internal cores differ as well. Although they are all round in shape, the colors usually change according to the innate nature and powers of a demon."
"Oh…" She tilted her head as she fell into a momentarily daze. "Do they all grow in the stomach?" The Rabbit Monarch nodded and replied, "Yes, they are usually located in the Dantian region."
"In that case…" An idea seemed to flash across her face. All of a sudden, she turned to the bed beside her and dug beneath it, leaving only two of her feet dangling outside. Rummaging noises were heard for a while until she stumbled out with a huge gunny sack and threw it directly to the rabbit.
"Rabbit, look. Do they look like that?"
Puzzled, the Rabbit Monarch tried to open the sack but lost its grip and almost half of the contents in the bag fell out. 'Pearls' of different sizes and colors of all sorts, including red, black, blue and so on, dropped out and rolled onto the ground.
"Demon… demon cores!" The rabbit was utterly shocked. "This… this…" There were so many—such a huge sack should contain thousands of cores.
"Oh, I found these when I captured those animal demons and collected them because they glowed." Shen Ying continued to explain, "I don't have lights over here, so I thought I could use them to illuminate my house. But these pearls only lasted about one or two days before they lost their glow." Hence, she had unknowingly hoarded a heap of them.
The Rabbit Monarch: "…" How many demons did you actually kill!
But after recalling the situation at the day of the demon congregation, it regained its composure again.
"So, are these useful?"
"Useful, useful!" The Rabbit Monarch immediately nodded. It was way more than just useful. These many demon cores made even the Rabbit Monarch stir with such excitement that its paws trembled. Demons had never exactly lived in peace with each other; killings amongst each other were commonplace, all just so that they could obtain the other's internal core. Consuming another's internal core was extremely beneficial to their cultivation, but most demons would much rather self- implode and not leave their demon cores lying around. Moreover, once a demon was dead, its core would be damaged if it was not retrieved from its body within 15 minutes. Yet, the floor here was full of intact demon cores… so many… so many!
The Rabbit Monarch could not help but feel envious. If only it could have one or two that would be great. It forced itself to bury such a greedy thought, picked up an eighth-stage demon core and walked over. "Exalted Immortal, this will do the trick," said the rabbit earnestly, even as it could not help but glance out the corner of its eye at the demon cores on the ground. This temptation… was just a little too great.
"How should it be done?" Shen Ying asked.
"Take off his clothes and place the core on his chest."
Shen Ying quickly did as she was told. The moment the demon core was placed down, Yi Qing's body emanated some kind of fog which floated into the pearl. Within 15 minutes, the demonic aura in his body had been entirely cleared out. Yi Qing tried to move and realized that the pain had disappeared. The Spirit Qi in his body had also begun to regulate itself and heal his meridians on its own.
"Thank you, Master!" He immediately knelt and bowed.
Shen Ying heaved a sigh of relief as she pulled him up. "As long as you are alright." She had been scared to death as she thought she might have had to continue eating pig feed in the future.
"Exalted Immortal, since Benefactor is fine, I shall be taking my leave."
"Oh, thank you for your hard work!"
"Thank you, Demon Monarch."
Just as the Rabbit Monarch was about to leave the house, it used all its might to hold back from glancing at the floor. Hold it, hold it, thought the rabbit. These were items belonging to the Exalted Immortal—it might live to see them but might not live to enjoy them.
"Rabbit, hold on!" Shen Ying shouted suddenly.
The Rabbit Monarch quivered as its heart sank. That can't be, how could she even tell?
Shen Ying unexpectedly bent over, grabbed a bunch of those 'pearls' on the ground, and dashed over to shove them to the rabbit. "I see that you really like these pearls, so here you go! Just treat it as a thank you gift for sending me food all these days."
Stupefied, the Rabbit Monarch stared blankly at the dozens of demon cores that came from demons of various levels. The rabbit's heart felt warm and fuzzy, and it almost broke into tears.
"Exalted… Exalted Immortal…" "It's already late, quickly go back and sleep?" She touched its rabbit fur and said, "Aren't you going to make more rabbit babies? Get back early and have a good rest."
"Exalted Immortal…" The Rabbit Monarch was filled with gratitude. It rubbed its nose as a lump rose in its throat, and then it blurted out, "Exalted Immortal, do you like little rabbits? Those newborns. Why not I give a few of mine to you after they are born?" With no way of expressing gratitude, the rabbit considered pledging its marriage to her.
"There's no need." She shook her head and continued, "I like to eat rabbits, not raise and take care of rabbits!"
That moment of gratitude must have been an illusion! It was an illusion!
Chapter 9: The First Crisis
Ever since that night, Yi Qing's body was rid of all the demonic aura and he had finally recovered fully. Perhaps due to having used all his might to suppress the demonic aura all this while, now that the aura was cleared out, he actually felt that his cultivation which had been at a bottleneck was showing signs of possibly making a breakthrough. All of this was thanks to the demon core that his master had given him, hence he was once again relieved to have met such a good teacher. He therefore swallowed back in the intentions he had been wanting to voice out.
"Uh, chef… Disciple… ah, 'Qin'?" Shen Ying nudged the person who was cooking and asked, "Are… you alright?"
Stunned, pangs of guilt weighed Yi Qing down even more. He put down the ladle in his hand and bowed towards her, saying, "Have you seen through me? It is truly impossible to hide anything from Master."
"…" Uh, it's just that the same dish has been seasoned with salt thrice, and I wanted to ask if it's still edible? But his face showed the increasing guilt within him. He hesitated for a while before saying with conviction, "Indeed, I have a matter to consult with you, and I hope that Master will allow it!"
Shen Ying took a quick glance into the pan and casually said, "Just say what you want." Hm, luckily it was carrots that were being cooked, not meat.
"I know that Master has a great heart, which is why you stay guard by the borders to prevent demons from leaving and causing chaos."
"Uh…" No, she was just terrible with directions and dared not wander around.
"It's just that, my request is not a common one and is also of great urgency." He flipped his hand and took out the previously sealed Soul Devouring Banner and explained, "This Banner is still the creation of Fiendish Cultivator Rui Mi. He once massacred tens of thousands of people and trapped their souls within this gonfalon to breed in the Blood Pool of Noxiousness. This incited the evil spirits within the Banner to kill each other, the purpose of which was to breed a Ghost King. Currently, this Banner still contains millions of evil spirits. Releasing any one of them would lead to the loss of lives as well as great misery and suffering." Recalling the evil doings of that Fiendish Cultivator made him clench his fists. He continued after taking a deep breath. "Now that this Banner has become free of its owner's control, the evil spirits inside will certainly make use of this opportunity to escape from it. Although I used a spell to temporarily seal the gonfalon last night, it is not a long-term solution. When the night of the full moon arrives, the Yin energy will be at its peak and the evil spirits will definitely break the seal, bringing harm to the world."
"Oh…" Shen Ying nodded, totally not understanding a word he said. She then asked, "What exactly are you trying to say?"
"I'm afraid that no one person can suppress hundreds of thousands of evil spirits alone." He gripped his palms and said with conviction, "So… I am intending to bring this Banner to the immortal sect, Blackheaven Sect. It is located above ley lines, and the energy from those ley lines can be used to cleanse the evil spirits' foulness which can also an opportunity to help release those souls from their suffering. But…"
He suddenly thought of something as he turned his head hesitantly towards Shen Ying to look at her. "This trip to the Blackheaven Sect is going to be a very long journey. My knowledge and ability is very limited. If anything were to happen to the banner, I'm afraid that it would be beyond my capabilities to salvage the situation."
He cupped his fists and suddenly knelt in front of her. "Pardon my boldness, but may I ask that Master accompany me on this journey to the Blackheaven Sect?"
"I understand that Master has stayed here for the sake of cultivation. To ask you to just leave like that might be… Huh? Oh! M-master, you accept!" Yi Qing grew round-eyed in disbelief. He felt as if he had imagined what he heard. After all, her decision to stay by the borders of the Demon Realm must have been due to some huge obstacle in cultivation, a choice borne out of desperation. Giving up halfway was something that should be avoided the most during cultivation, yet she actually agreed to leave this place so easily!
"Stand up, stand up." Shen Ying held him up. He should have said that he knew the way long ago. She had stayed in this old forest for a few months, and if not for that hunter who did not want to bring her out no matter what, not to mention her terrible sense of direction that might have gotten her lost with no roof over her head to sleep under, she would have long left to wander about. Getting a disciple was indeed beneficial.
"When are we leaving? Why not today? Let's set off now!
Lunch can be packed and brought along."
"Master…" Yi Qing felt a lump in his throat—he was extremely touched. Master was indeed a person with great kindness. He felt no regrets in following under her wing.
"Why are you still standing there?" Shen Ying walked out of the kitchen and gestured at him. "Quickly, pack the lunches and we can eat them on the way. Time is of the essence, so we can forget about the vegetables in the pan." Since they are already overcooked.
"Yes!" Yi Qing rubbed his nose and suppressed the gratitude within him as he turned to extinguish the fire. He stood tall and upright as he strode outside, slightly overwhelmed with the pride of being under the wing of this master of his. Shen Ying was a little excited about finally being able to leave this shabby place. She rushed into the house to pack up but realized that there was nothing much to pack. After pondering for a bit, she decided to leave a note for the rabbit. Stepping outside, she saw that her chef disciple had already packed lunch and was ready for her.
"I'm done." She walked over and casually asked, "Which way are we going?"
Yi Qing stretched out his hand and pointed to the right. "Just heading south will do."
"Yes." He habitually raised his hand and a sword appeared out of nowhere. He climbed onto the sword and it began to fly. But as it gained speed, he turned back to realized that someone was still standing at the same spot. He then reminded, "Master? This journey to the Blackheaven Sect is going to be very long, so it is necessary to travel by sword-riding." Shen Ying: "…" What sort of high technology was sword- riding? If she knew how to fly, would she have even been stuck here for four months?
"I don't know how."
"Ah?!" Yi Qing almost thought he had heard wrongly but she did not seem to be joking, so he tried asking, "Master… are you used to traveling by artifact-riding?"
"Then how about wind-riding?"
"Never heard of it."
"What about stealth advancement?" "I don't understand."
Yi Qing was silent for a full minute before flying back with complicated emotions. He hesitated, then stretched his hand out towards her. "Then… may I give Master a ride?"
"That's great!" She replied immediately as she leapt onto his sword. "Thank you, I've gotten my balance. Start the car, start the car."
That urgent look of hers seemed to be a little… overly excited? Appearing just like those young disciples when they were having their first experience of sword-riding.
Yi Qing shook his head and tossed this absurd thought away, and once again resumed sword-riding with a passenger. Master being so formidable, how could she not know sword-riding? There had to be another reason. Could it be that when she helped him eliminate the demonic aura last night, she sustained some internal injuries? Was she afraid that he would be worried and so was keeping it from him?
The more he thought about it, the more plausible it seemed. He could not help but turn back to look at Shen Ying. Master… was indeed too kind.
Shen Ying who was truly flying for the first time: "…" Uh, what's with this cheapskate chef's sympathetic gaze, looking at me as if I'm a disabled child? Isn't it just a getting a ride from you?
This flight journey had taken up two days of their time. After leaving the forest that loomed with demonic aura, they traversed through the wastelands. On the afternoon of the third day, they only saw the walls of a small city in the distance from which they could hear faint bustling noises.
"Master, we have arrived." Yi Qing stopped and put away his spiritual sword. "This is Blackheaven Sect?" Shen Ying raised her head and glanced at the words above the city gates, but she could not see them clearly.
"No." Yi Qing shook his head. "This is the nearest city for cultivators, Shunyu City. The distance to Blackheaven Sect is way too far, so relying solely on sword-riding would take half a month before we can get there. This city has an array formation for transportation which can send us directly to Blackheaven Sect."
"Oh." Although she did not exactly understand, his words should mean that there was a shortcut.
Yi Qing brought her into the city, cutting a path through the bustling streets towards the central area. They only stopped after they reached the most crowded area that was a small public square. There were many people there; some were in groups while others were traveling alone. All of them were sage- like, standing in the line of a long queue seemingly waiting for something.
Yi Qing brought Shen Ying to stand in line at the very end of the queue. He pointed to the front and said, "Master, the transportation array is right in front. We will be able to reach Blackheaven Sect in a while."
"Yeah." Shen Ying nodded absent-mindedly. Feeling a little sleepy, she did not have the strength to look around at the surroundings.
The queue moved very quickly, and within a short period of time they were at the very front of the line. Shen Ying finally had a clear view—there were glowing patterns in the center of the transportation area, some of which looked like the magic arrays that could be seen in cartoons. Surrounding them were four stone pillars that were inscribed with incomprehensible words. Once someone walked towards that pattern, they would disappear.
So this is a transportation array! Shen Ying felt that her transmigration had become more surreal.
"50 spiritual pearls per person!" The cultivator guarding the transportation array stretched out his hands towards them. Yi Qing habitually searched for the storage bag by his side, but there was nothing. He froze and his face turned white.
"What's the matter?" Shen Ying glanced at him.
Yi Qing's face turned green as he lowered his volume and asked, "I forgot that my storage bag was lost during the battle with Rui Mi. Master… do you have any spiritual pearls with you?"
"What are spiritual pearls?"
Yi Qing: "…"
The guard: "…"
After her transmigration into this world, the first crisis Shen Ying encountered was—having no money!  Qin is a respective word in contemporary Chinese to address someone akin to sir. It also is a homophone to Yi Qing. This becomes a running joke that she can never remember her disciple's name.
Chapter 10: A Temporary Job
"Move aside if the two of you are not traveling. Don't block the people behind." The guard impatiently waved at the two of them to go away as he continued to signal to the people at the back. The next person in line took out a handful of translucent pearls and passed them over, then walked towards the patterns.
"Master…" Yi Qing was filled with guilt. After the battle with Rui Mi, it was already a miracle to have kept himself alive; he had truly forgotten about losing the storage bag. "It's all my fault. If I had not rushed to deliver the Soul Devouring Banner, I would not have caused Master to not bring any spirit stones."
"Uh…" No, I really don't have any money.
"Why not Master shop around in the city first. 50 spiritual pearls is not a lot. I can find a temporary job here, and I will be able to earn enough for the transportation fees before the sun rises," he suggested solemnly.
"Forget it, let's go together!" Shen Ying nodded. "Two people can earn them faster." Before he could respond, she dragged him away from the public square. Yi Qing seemed to have a lot of experience in this matter. After asking around in the city for a while, he brought her towards the tallest building in the city. He cupped his fists before the steward and said, "Fellow Daoist, I heard that this place needs some protection."
The steward was courteous and he returned the gesture. After looking at them for a moment, he said, "That's right, my Treasure Pavilion is having a treasure evaluation event which requires a few strong cultivators as guards. Fellow Daoist is…?"
"I am a Sword Cultivator. Golden Core stage."
"Golden Core Sword Cultivator!" The steward was elated and excited as he bowed again. "So you are a Dao Lord."
"I wonder if I meet the criteria."
"Of course, of course you fit the criteria!" The steward was grinning from ear to ear. The items to be auctioned today were considered to be very special. He had originally thought that it would be good enough if he could find a Foundation Establishment cultivator but to his surprise, a Golden Core cultivator fell into his lap. There were barely any Golden Core cultivators throughout the entirety of Shunyu City, much less a Sword Cultivator. "Dao Lord, you will only need to protect the people who have bidded for treasures to return safely after the event. The remuneration for each trip will be two pieces of low- grade spirit stones, what do you think?"
Yi Qing contemplated it for a moment, and then asked, "There are two of us, so how about two pieces each?"
"Two of you?" The steward paused and then looked left and right about four or five times before he noticed Shen Ying at the side. Huh? When was this person even here, how could he have not noticed her? Upon taking a closer look, it was evident that she did not have any Spirit Qi, and even seemed to be a mortal at that. But the partner accompanying her was a Golden Core cultivator so that did not seem plausible. He asked, "Fellow Daoist, are you also here to be a guard? Pardon me, but may I know what your cultivation level is?"
"I don't know either."
"…" Don't know? Then what kind of guard do you intend to be! The steward twitched his mouth, but he could not offend a Golden Core Dao Lord. "Then… the two of you will share three pieces of low-grade spirit stones, how about that?"
"Alright." Shen Ying nodded. It was a package price. Before this, she had come to understand that a piece of low-grade spirit stone was equivalent to 100 spiritual pearls which was sufficient for the travel fees.
An explanation had been on the tip of Yi Qing's tongue but he swallowed it down. Yes, Master must want to maintain a low profile.
"The two of you may follow me." The steward brought them to the second floor—that was when they realized this place was filled with people as the faint sounds of shouting for bids could be heard. It looked like a mini auction sale.
The steward got them to wait in a small partitioned space. Yi Qing took the initiative to explain the nature of this temporary job. This was a commercial business, and it was usually only when they received an extremely rare Dharma treasure, artifact or elixirs that they would hold an auction sale. At times like this, the shop owner would hire some cultivators just for a short period to escort the bidders home; this was also considered as an after-sales service. It was just that these guards were usually Foundation Establishment cultivators and they were all itinerant.
"When I was in the Foundation Establishment stage, I had often picked up jobs like these. Master, you can rest assured. This city is small and the district is not wide, so the trips will usually not be too long and can be finished before sunrise. It will not waste too much time."
"Oh." Shen Ying nodded. In conclusion, this was a short job that would save time and energy but… what did 'Zhu Ji' [2. Zhu Ji is a homophone to Foundation Establishment. This becomes a joke as she does not understand what her disciple is talking about as she has no prior knowledge of the different cultivation realms.]mean?
They waited for nearly three hours. The sky had already turned dark, and the bidding voices gradually subsided as people began to leave. The steward then brought them before a cultivator.
Yi Qing took a look at this person, and realized that despite only being a young, ninth-stage cultivator, he was wearing third-stage Dharma clothing which meant that he had to be a young master from a family of Immortal Cultivators. In his hand was a black box, most probably a Dharma artifact that he had just bidded for.
"Dao Lord, Fellow Daoist Lu is the customer that you need to escort back today. You just need to bring him to the west side of the Lu residence."
Yi Qing nodded as he brought the young man out. The man was rather polite; perhaps due to the surprise of being escorted by a Golden Core cultivator, he seemed really excited the entire journey. He continued to talk about how he had managed to bid for the treasure in his hand as they walked towards the west of the city.
The Lu family was considered a reputable family clan in the area, but it was a distance away from Shunyu City. In addition to leaving the city, they needed to pass through a thick bamboo forest which was dense with miasma, making it unsuitable to travel through by sword-riding. The item he had bidded for was a rare fourth-stage Dharma artifact which was why the Treasure Pavilion had to arrange for the best escort it could to protect such an important customer in case somebody tried to kill him and steal the artifact.
Shen Ying had nothing to say about such simple manual labour, but… why did the auction have to drag on so late into the night before they started their walking journey? How sleepy!
"Dao Lord, we will reach the Lu residence once we get out of the forest." Lu pointed ahead. "Thank you for your protection on this journey, Dao Lord."
"It is my responsibility. You are welcome." Yi Qing looked at the surrounding and said, "I am afraid this deep forest might be looming with danger."
"Dao Lord, fret not." Cultivator Lu paid no attention to his words and voiced out, "Shunyu City may be a secluded little city, but it has always been peaceful. Nothing much is going to happen."
"It is still better to be safe than sorry." "Dao Lord must be kidding. Although it is not possible to traverse this forest by sword-riding, I travel this route often. There shouldn't be any problem." Cultivator Lu still felt carefree as he said, "It's all because the Treasure Pavilion's steward is too worrisome, insisting that someone must escort me back. While fourth-stage Dharma artifacts are rare over here, they are actually pretty common outside. It can't be that someone would really jump out…"
He had not completed his sentence when all of a sudden, a white glow emerged from beneath him—an array formation took form and the ground shook as a large patch of thistles and thorns grew out and targeted Cultivator Lu.
Cultivator Lu was taken aback. He lost his grip and dropped the box in his hands right into the crazy thistles as they coiled back into the ground.
"My Dharma artifact…"
"Be careful!" Yi Qing grabbed and hurled him backwards, summoned his spirit sword and swung it down forwards; his Sword Qi shot towards the thistles with a flash of swift and fierce light, sweeping across them and severing a huge section. But in the next moment, more thistles grew out from the ground attacking them.
Yi Qing shoved Cultivator Lu further back out of the danger zone, and instructed, "Stay behind me, do not leave my master's side."
Surprised and confused, Cultivator Lu thought: Master? What Master? He subconsciously turned around to look and only then did he see a girl in gray robes, the sight of her giving him a scare.
When… when was this person here? Wasn't it just him and Dao Lord on the journey? When was there one more person?
(⊙ o ⊙)
Recalling Yi Qing's instructions, he immediately stayed by the girl's side. For a Golden Core Dao Lord to call her Master, she had to be someone who could ensure his safety. "Thank you Fellow Daoist," he politely said. The girl, however, merely stood there straight with her head pointed down, giving no response at all. He thought the other party was angry at his negligence, hence he subconsciously took a step closer. "Pardon my negligence, it must have been tiring this journey. I do hope that Fellow Daoist will not be mad. Fellow Daoist, Fellow Daoist? Fellow Daoist, you…"
The next moment, he heard a faint snore.
She… was… asleep…
"…" Sleeping in this situation, are you freaking kidding me?!