The battle with the demon sect lasted a full day and night until daybreak the next morning. Everyone dragged their tired bodies back to the camp while bringing back many wounded disciples with them.
Several people from Black Hawk Castle also sustained injuries. I saw them supporting each other while coming back, but I did not see Xiao Zhongnan, so I hurriedly asked them where he went.
“The Alliance Leader called him a while ago.” A disciple from Black Hawk Castle told me.
It took around a shichen before Xiao Zhongnan came back, and upon returning, he ordered everyone to pack up their luggage.
“Break camp, we will return to Black Hawk Castle immediately.”
I felt that this was strange. “So urgent?”
Obviously they had won such a beautiful battle. Shouldn’t they celebrate first and then share the joy of victory? How could they be going back so soon?
Xiao Zhongnan glanced at me. “You still have something else to do here?”
I was choked by his question. “No…”
His face was expressionless. “If you don’t, then just go and pack your luggage.”
I curled my lips, then I complied with what he said and went to pack up my things. Half a shichen later, Black Hawk Castle’s team was ready to go.
On the way here I was still able to have a bit of conversation with Xiao Zhongnan, but during our return trip, he seemed to have suddenly become mute. Him not saying even a single word the entire day made the journey extremely unbearable, but at the time, the book《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》fully occupied my thoughts and I had no time to care about his change.
I stealthily browsed the secret ritual’s text when there was no one around, and it is indeed a good cure for qi deviation. However, other than the person who is suffering from qi deviation, there still needs to be another person who needs to provide assistance for the cure.
During the treatment period, the other person not only needs to take a special decoction every day, but also needs to circulate their qi according to the procedure within the secret book. Finally, it is necessary for him to cooperate with the method using themselves as a cauldron to transfer their own internal force into the other’s body to help them open their blocked meridians. In other words, this is a wonderful book that teaches people how to dual cultivate and cure illnesses!
I was astonished when I read it, but at the same time, a voice in my heart was telling me that this might be the only way to cure Xiao Zhongnan.
When I stole the book, my original intention was only to help Xiao Zhongnan, but now I need to use this dual cultivating method with him to cure his illness. Not mentioning his willingness or unwillingness, I can’t even open my mouth to tell him, ah!
As I was internally struggling with my thoughts, our group had already arrived at Black Hawk Castle without me realizing it.
After coming and going for a month, the small courtyard felt very cordial when I saw it again, and to my surprise, the wisteria in the small courtyard’s corner had already begun to bud.
I stared at the wisteria and unconsciously thought of Xiao Zhongnan again.
I called the servant, wrote down a prescription, and gave it to him, asking him to acquire the herbs listed.
“Why is Young Master suddenly taking medicine?”
“During the trip, I suffered a minor injury and I need this medicine to treat it.”
The servant was probably not a cultivator and was fooled by me. He immediately believed what I said and quickly grabbed all the herbs for me.
When I drank the decoction for the first time, I felt a stream of heat flowing from my lower abdomen that was burning all the way through to my limbs and hundreds of bones. I was so shocked that I kept it in my mouth, not knowing whether to spit out or swallow what was left.
It deserves to be called the 《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》, this decoction practically has an immediate effect ah! After lamenting about it, I still swallowed the rest.
After taking the decoction, I began to circulate my inner qi along the meridians throughout my body according to the exercises in the book. After the twenty-fourth major circulation and the forty-eighth minor circulation1, faint beads of sweat appeared on my forehead. I ended my meditation and took a deep breath.
When evening came, I carried a pot of wine to Xiao Zhongnan’s yard.
This wine is, of course, not ordinary wine. I have already added some stuff into it beforehand.
I knocked on the door lightly, and a voice inquiring for who I am came from the inside. I responded with my name, and after a while, Xiao Zhongnan came to open the door for me.
“I’ve come to find you for a drink.” I shook the wine pot in my hand.
He didn’t say anything and just stepped aside to let me in. I walked a few steps toward the table, placed down two cups on each side, and served the liquor from my pot, my hand somewhat trembling.
He sat across from me and asked, “Why is it that you want to drink with me this late in the night?”
“I thought the moonlight was quite beautiful tonight and I just couldn’t sleep, so I thought of coming to find you for a drink. Am I not welcome, Brother Xiao?”
“No, you can come find me at any time.” He stared down at the wine cup in front of him while running his fingertips across its rim from time to time, “By the way, you still haven’t said why you were on the mountain that day and how you encountered Lin Yue, right?”
I scratched my head, finding it a bit embarrassing. “I actually wanted to search for the savings that I had left behind in the sect that day. When I escaped from HanYiJiao, I didn’t carry anything except your jade token on my body. In any case, I had stored my savings for so many years and I was a little unwilling to let them go, so I wanted to go back and see if they were still there; I didn’t expect to have such bad luck and encounter Lin Yue.” I gratefully smiled at him. “Fortunately, you saved me, so I owe you once again.” Having finished saying that, I lifted my cup and toasted him before drinking all the liquor in the glass in one move.
Xiao Zhongnan saw that my cup was empty, so he slowly raised his cup and drank it like me.
“He’s the demon sect’s sect master, how could he possibly know you?”
I filled him in on the issue and said, “You know, Brother Xiao, he was only an elder before. I was regarded as his disciple and personally served him for a while, so he knew me.”
“So that was the case.” He nodded and did not ask me again.
I mentally heaved a sigh of relief. I just wanted to pat myself on the back for keeping my fright under control. Fortunately, I had been prepared, otherwise he would’ve certainly noticed something amiss!
We drank for more than half a shichen until we emptied the pot of wine. I was already a bit tipsy. When I went to look at the person sitting opposite me, there seemed to be some traces of drunkenness in his black eyes.
The material that I mixed in wasn’t harmful, and it won’t make people instantly feel burning desire. Compared with other kinky drugs that harm the body, this is more like a pleasure-inducer for lovers, and it would only make the body feel slightly hot and numb.
I pulled at the lapels of my robe, tugging them until they were loose, and then I tugged at the other person’s hand.
Unexpectedly, Xiao Zhongnan suddenly held my hand down, and there seemed to be another frown forming between his eyebrows.
“What’re you doing?”
I don’t know why I suddenly laughed. He wouldn’t let me pull him, so I took back my hand, sat on him, and wrapped my arm around his neck.
“Fine time, beautiful scenery; what do you think I’m going to do?” I was leaning very close to him. The next moment I was close enough, I kissed him.
I kissed his lips, using all the techniques I knew. I gently licked the seam between his lips, slowly poking the tip of my tongue in and pulling it out again, biting and sucking his lower lip until the time was ripe to enter his mouth in one fell swoop. I swept my tongue across his upper palate before entangling it together with his tongue.
Soon after, I discovered that my waist and the back of my neck were being held by two strong palms. Xiao Zhongnan turned from being a guest into acting as the host, domineeringly deepening the kiss even further, and the situation gradually leaned towards spiraling out of control.
After kissing for a long time, I felt as if I was almost unable to breathe. I hurriedly placed my hands on his chest and tried to separate our bodies. Unexpectedly, Xiao Zhongnan released me, rendering my efforts unnecessary. Then, the sky spun. He had actually picked me up and walked a few steps over to the bedside.
I had felt his stirring arousal when I was sitting on him just now, and besides, I was the one who gave him the drug so there was no need for me to feign being reserved right now.
After placing me on the bed, he pressed down against me as he sucked and nipped at my body, which was surprisingly consistent with his habit when he’s ill, only much more restrained.
My entire lapel was torn open, exposing my smooth chest. He conveniently grasped a nipple in his mouth and started to suck it with gusto. His hands also weren’t idle and slid all the way down to my lower body.
Because I came prepared, I had already taken a bath in my room and expanded my back acupoint as well. I didn’t even wear an inner robe. So, when he finally touched the moist, softened place behind me, even his breathing changed.
He stripped off his clothes at an extremely fast pace, revealing his sturdy body and the fierce giant that had been hiding underneath.
I don’t even know how I previously managed to accommodate his big guy, but I doubt his current size will even fit inside me!
I bent my legs, suddenly a bit afraid and not so confident.
The pain from the first two times was still fresh in my memory. I was able to only walk normally after lying in bed for several days!
He may have felt my stiffness, influencing him to place his palm on my knee and massage it gently.
Scared ah, scared to die!
I forced myself to relax and gritted my teeth. “I am absolutely not afraid, come on, ba!” After I finished speaking, I courageously opened my legs wider.
Xiao Zhongnan’s black eyes suddenly became darker. He held my waist with one hand and supported his penis to press against my hole with the other.
Instead of recklessly advancing, he probingly and slowly entered until I had completely swallowed all of him.
Once he reached my depths, we both released a comfortable sigh.
He leaned down to kiss my lips, and I meekly opened my lips to welcome his arrival.
A fervent heat rose from the place where we were connected below, as well as a slight numbness itching that was accompanying his slow thrusts and pulls.
“Um…ngh…” My sounds were being muffled by his mouth, and I could only vaguely moan.
Although his nine-parts-shallow and one-part-deep approach is gentle, it was also quite annoying. The pleasure accumulated very slowly, so slow that my entire body would tremble with sweat because of the urgency… and because of his restraint.
“Ah… Haaahh… I gripped the bedding underneath my fingers tightly and uttered a pained groan. Whenever the giant inside my body rubbed against a place, my shouts would go one tone higher.
“Please…” I begged him with misty eyes, “Faster… I can’t stand it anymore… Haa…”
I immediately noticed that his hardness inside my body swelled up a little bit after that. My eyes widened in alarm, but I wasn’t able to say a word in response when the man gazed at me.
He abruptly stopped, panting, and said something that confused me.
He said, “You asked for it.”
However, I was only puzzled briefly because he quickly used his actions to explain the true meaning of his sentence.
He bent my knees together and pressed them upwards against my chest. In this way, the passage behind me was in front of his eyes on full display.
Since my hole was already used to his penetration, it didn’t feel uncomfortable when he ferociously charged inside me.
Just as I’ve heard—I asked for it2. He began to work hard while leaving no room for error as he repeatedly and accurately hit that deadly place.
“Aahhh!!!” I was frightened by my unbridled moan, or perhaps cry, and quickly bit the back of my hand to block it.
In the hour after that, I was incessantly hovering on the edge of passing away and wishing for death. The back of my hand was bitten until I drew blood, and the other was about to tear the bedding under me.
Fortunately, the《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》3 would run on its own as soon as Xiao Zhongnan had intercourse with me, otherwise I really wouldn’t have the extra mental and physical energy to manually move the dual cultivation method along its course.
Finally, after a series of heavy thrusts, Xiao Zhongnan’s penis trembled slightly within me, and I felt a stream of liquid shot into my deepest parts. The warm torrent hit my inner wall, causing me to let out a whimper-like moan. My legs tensely twisted and twitched involuntarily, stopping after a short while and falling to the side.
I freed my hand from between my teeth, letting it hang softly to the side. I touched the stickiness on my belly with my other hand and felt a handful of white turbidity against my hand. It was clear that my disappointing little brother had already vented many times without me realizing.
I was so tired and drunk that I was a little drowsy, but Xiao Zhongnan was like an insatiable ferocious beast, and actually quickly became hard again.
In the end, I was so completely fucked that I almost broke down, and was even brought to the point that I had to squeeze out two drops of tears to beg him to let me go.
“Brother Xiao… ah, Kind Brother Xiao… I ahh… I really can’t do it anymore…” I sat on his lap facing him, like the one on the Huanxi4 Buddha statue. He pushed into me fiercely, up and down, entering such an unprecedented depth that even my toes curled up uncontrollably.
His hand glided down my back caressing me until he reached my buttocks, and rubbed there vigorously. He didn’t feel a bit softhearted by my words, but instead, pulled me deeper and deeper within his desire.
When I woke up, I found myself in Xiao Zhongnan’s embrace, my body feeling sticky and sweaty all over.
It’s been a long time since I woke up in this man’s arms. It made me unexpectedly relieved, and also unexpectedly addicted. Although I really want to continue lying down, the servants will be coming in in a while. If they see us lying together like this, Castle Master Xiao’s lifelong illustrious reputation will be destroyed by my hands.
I sat up. Apart from a bit of soreness in my body, there was no other discomfort. As a result of my movement, the quilt slipped from my shoulders to my waist, showing the traces of love-making on my body that made me feel ashamed. I quickly turned my eyes away, my forehead twitching as I did.
I lifted my buttocks and wanted to get out of bed. But as soon as I got up, a dense, sticky liquid flowed out of the place behind me. I didn’t need to think about it to know what it was. In that instant, I felt myself flush with a scorching heat from head to toe. I think I’m quickly getting familiar with it.
I need to go back to my room and wash myself at once! Thinking of this, I endured the parching heat and got up again.
Suddenly, a muscular arm wrapped around my waist, preventing me from continuing to move, and Xiao Zhongnan’s low and husky, half-asleep voice came from behind me, “What are you doing?”
I froze. “…returning to my room.”
He tightened his arms and asked again, “What are you doing?”
I heard a bit of impatience from his questioning this time, and said hurriedly, “I’m going back to take a shower and change clothes!”
His palm repeatedly stroked the side of my waist, causing me to uncontrollably tremble and turn to the side to avoid it.
“You, don’t…” Before I could finish speaking, my whole body was dragged back by the arm on my waist, and then I was lying down on the bed again.
Xiao Zhongnan rolled over and pushed me down, his part that was touching my legs was hard and hot. My eyes widened in shock, and I didn’t dare to move for a moment.
He stroked my cheek with the back of his hand. “Shy? Why didn’t I see you this shy last night?”
I took medicine last night, ah!
“I drank too much last night.”
He patted the top of my head when he heard what I said, and his black eyes became even more serene and hidden in depth. “Whatever you say.” Having said that, he moved one palm down past my waist. After touching my buttocks, he separated my thighs to invade the traces left by last night’s affairs.
“You…” I was speechless because of what he’s doing.
Why is this bastard behaving like Psycho!
I lifted a leg to kick him, but I didn’t expect that I would be easily caught by him as if he had already guessed that I would make this move.
He raised his eyebrows. “Want to kick me again?”
He and I were both stunned. He frowned in doubt. He might not know what he just said, but I was given such a huge shock that I almost wanted to ask him if he remembered something.
Could it be that the cultivation method is so effective, it takes effect in just a single night?
But soon, I didn’t have the energy to start thinking about those things again. Xiao Zhongnan, like all men, woke up in the morning like a starving wolf, and would never stop eating people until there were not even bones left.
After that, I became more and more convinced of the《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》 in my heart. Every night I would bring a pot of wine and find Xiao Zhongnan for a drink, and in no more than a couple words, the two of us would be rolling around on the bed.
This development continued until I didn’t need to bring wine with me anymore and he would just leave the door unlocked for me every night, so I could just push open the door and enter. If he was in the study, I would lie down on the bed and wait for him. He never refused my request for a favor, nor did he have any opinion about it, as if it were all normal.
“I will leave the Castle for several days starting tomorrow.” After this past night of indulgence, Xiao Zhongnan spoke slowly.
What about his treatment?
I blurted out in a hurry, “I’ll go with you!”
He was silent for a while before he said, “This time, it’s a good friend of mine who’s getting married. I’m afraid it would be inappropriate to take you with me.”
I pursed my lips tightly. Although I knew he was right, I still felt upset deep down.
After a while, I asked him dejectedly, “Then how long are you going to be gone?”
He gently caressed my back. “For two to three days at least, and five or six days at most.”
Five or six days was too long, what if all my effort gets wasted because we haven’t done it for a long time?
I was very worried in my heart, and bargained with him, “Three days, will you come back in three days?”
His hand that was stroking me, paused. I thought he would disagree, and became nervous. I would never have expected to be heartily embraced by him in the next moment.
His chin rested on top of my head, and I felt the vibration of his voice as he spoke.
“Alright,” he said.
I became glad afterward. “It’s a deal!”
With his promise, I soon fell asleep in peace.
Xiao Zhongnan left early the next morning and he didn’t inform me when he left. When I got up and saw the empty space on the other half of the bed, I felt an indescribable loss in my heart.
Xiao Zhongnan wasn’t in the Castle, so I could only ask Cheng Xiaoyu to visit “Xiao Baiyi” in the stables with me.
The foal is now weaned, and although his body isn’t as robust as an adult horse, it became a bit more powerful.
“You don’t know just how precious this horse is. Even the marshal of the imperial court may not necessarily be able to get him from our Castle Master. It could even be said that he can’t be bought for a thousand in gold. You must treat him well in the future.” Cheng Xiaoyu was boasting and spraying spittle as he talked.
“Treat who well? Xiao Zhongnan or Xiao Baiyi?” I asked him with a smile that was not quite a smile.
The kid’s face turned red all of a sudden. “Sigh, why are you so shameless! Of course I meant the horse!” After thinking about it, he added, “It’s only natural for you to treat the Castle Master well. Without him, you would still be suffering from Hidden Sword Gate right now.”
I took some hay and fed the little foal, smiling at his words.
If not for Psycho, I might have already been withered bones at the bottom of that cliff, where would that matter with the Hidden Sword Gate even be.
“I treat him well. I serve him comfortably every day and night, don’t like him that much now!”
The kid’s blush on his cheeks that had yet to dissipate rose to deep red in an instant, and his speech also stuttered.
I slapped him on his head. “What you, you? Go!”
He rubbed his head while walking outside, his mouth arguing noisily, “Can your words not be so flippant? As a person living under the Castle Master’s roof, can you have a bit of self-consciousness?”
“Why do you have so many opinions as a kid? Do you believe it or not?”
We playfully quarreled for a while, and it was already dark when we returned to the Castle.
I simply let the servant get something to eat, and lay down early.
It’s been a good deal of time since I last slept in my courtyard. As I lay down on the bed, I stared at the canopy and couldn’t sleep for a long time. With great difficulty, I managed to fall asleep, but I still wasn’t able to sleep peacefully.
I had a dream. It had already been a long time since I last had a dream, but I could clearly remember the nightmare I had that night.
In my dream, one moment Psycho was asking me why I left him alone and why I deceived him; the next moment, he became Xiao Zhongnan again, and was asking me who I am and what my purpose was by approaching him! I opened my mouth and wanted to explain myself, but I couldn’t make a sound. The other party always coldly disdained listening to my explanation.
I woke up from my dream, dripping with cold sweat, my chest throbbing madly and uncontrollably, and my hands and feet felt weak.
That dream felt so real; Xiao Zhongnan’s questioning voice was right next to my ears, and every sentence of his seemed like a hammer striking my heart.
Fortunately, it was just a dream…
I sat up and wiped the cold sweat off my forehead. I was about to get out of bed and pour a glass of water to drink when at this moment, I heard a sudden movement from outside the courtyard as if someone had sneaked in.
“Who?” I frowned and darted out.
Sure enough, there was a masked man in black clothes standing outside the courtyard. Such a sneaky person is definitely not a good person. I attacked without speaking any further.
The intruder exchanged palm attacks with me several times until he suddenly opened his mouth and shouted, “Sect Master!”
I recognized his voice and promptly retracted my palm, staring at the person in disbelief.
The other took off his scarf, revealing a gentlemanly face. It was indeed Yang Chengqi.
He stepped forward, seemingly excited, and grabbed my hand. With a quiet voice, he said, “Sect Master, I finally found you!”
After not seeing him for over a month, nothing seemed to have changed with Guardian Yang. It could be assumed that they weren’t chased further by the righteous cultivators. But, it’s still inadvisable for him to come to Black Hawk Castle alone. If someone finds out, an incident cannot be avoided.
I put my hand on his back and walked quickly back into my room. I asked, “Why did you come here?”
The worried expression on his face made it seem like he was thinking of a serious matter. “This subordinate is here to rescue the Sect Master today. Sect Master, please quickly follow me.”
He looked like he was trying to save me from a disaster, causing me to be stunned for a while.
“Save me? What do I need to be saved?”
Yang Chengqi was also confused by my reaction. “Isn’t the Sect Master imprisoned by Xiao Zhongnan and unable to escape?”
“I’m not…” I didn’t know how to explain the situation to him, and just vaguely said, “I’m not imprisoned by him, it’s just… there are still things that need to be done before I can leave. Don’t worry, I am very safe.”
Not only did my words not dispel his worries, it even made him even more puzzled instead.
“The subordinates have been waiting for the Sect Master to go back to preside over the overall situation and reinvigorate the drums and banner. Since the Sect Master has not been imprisoned, is it because he is plotting something important involving Black Hawk Castle that he is unable to return to us?”
He thinks too highly of me. Throughout my entire life, the closest thing to a conspiracy would probably be the period when Lin Yue was using me as a puppet…
I waved my hand at him. “In any case, I can’t leave right now. Give me another month and I will leave with you after my business here is done.” By then, Xiao Zhongnan’s illness should be cured, and I could leave without worries.
What would happen if Xiao Zhongnan recovered his memory? I had never thought about it before tonight.
At that time, he was mentally deranged and treated me as his NanNan. He even thought that I was pregnant with his child. But, after I recovered from my injuries, I mercilessly abandoned him. If this was remembered by Xiao Zhongnan, who is now normal and sane, I’m afraid he might consider it a great shame and humiliation, and maybe his current warm attitude will even be hard to keep. Besides, I still have an even more terrible identity hanging over my head, which might be revealed by someone one day. It’s also possible that they would accuse me of “a wicked seductress conjuring fine schemes.” After much deliberation, the best choice is to leave Black Hawk Castle earlier and leave Xiao Zhongnan in order to end this ill-fated relationship.
I repaid my debt of gratitude anyway, I no longer owe him anything…
Before Yang Chengqi could say anything, I interrupted him, “No buts, you leave quickly, don’t let anyone find out.”
Yang Chengqi tried to persuade me, but could only leave upset in the end.
“Then… Sect Master should take care of himself. This subordinate will come again after a month to receive your honorable self.”
After he left, I sat by the table for a long time, until the candle burned out, and I didn’t sleep again.
In fact… I understood some things. However, it is really difficult to do them when it becomes time to do the real thing.
Originally, I went back to Black Hawk Castle with Xiao Zhongnan only because I wanted to have a temporary place where I could recuperate. Now that I have recovered and Yang Chengqi had also found me, I should calmly leave with him. Even if I’m not going to make such a pointless comeback as Sect Master, I don’t seem to have any reason to stay here.
It’s just that—I have been entangled with him for over a year, and now that I’m thinking about leaving and never seeing him again in the future, there’s this really unpleasant feeling in my heart.
People are not like heartless plants. I must have had feelings for him, otherwise, I wouldn’t have turned around and gone back to look for him after I left the bottom of the valley. However, I realized them too late.
If I had known earlier I would have taken him out of the valley with me back then, and then I wouldn’t have had to deal with all this demon sect and righteous cultivators bullshit. They could all fight to the death by themselves. The two of us could just go somewhere where no one knows us, where we can be free and comfortable. How could these events that have taken place afterward, then have the chance to occur?
It was the third day since Xiao Zhongnan left and I knew that he was coming back tonight, so I was tidying myself up early, planning to go to his courtyard to find him at night.
It has only been three days since I last saw him, but I actually already started to miss him a little.
I was happily sitting in the tub and humming a little tune with my mouth when a stabbing pain hit without warning.
The pain was just as if a sharp blade had gotten stuck in my internal organs, constantly wringing into my flesh. The pain instantly caused black spots to cover my vision, and when the pain reached its peak, my stomach churned as I violently vomited out a mouthful of blood, spewing it onto the surface of the steaming water. It quickly dissipated into the water without a trace as the severe pain that made living feel worse than death also followed after and disappeared.
I was obviously surrounded by hot water yet I felt cold all over; I couldn’t even lift a finger.
After everything that happened, I naturally wouldn’t think that it was as simple as getting sick due to something bad. I immediately tried to use my qi to probe my body but realized that my dantian was unable to condense any qi, my internal strength was gone, and my internal organs were actually showing signs of decay.
I have only done one thing while staying in Black Hawk Castle, that is, practicing the 《 Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》method by heart. Now that something has gone wrong, the root of the problem could naturally only be attributed to the book.
I also blame myself for previously focusing all of my attention on Psycho. It wasn’t until I vomited blood today that I realized that something was wrong with me.
My thoughts cleared; I shook my hands and wiped off the blood on my lips. I propped my body up and stepped out of the tub, then I draped my robe over me and sat on the bedside to take out the secret book and read through it again. I discovered that everything was written in the secret book except what would happen to the chosen supplementary cauldron.
Could it be that the day Psycho recovers from his illness would be the day I would lose my life?
The moment became difficult for me to imagine, immense panic hiding the sky and covering the earth, catching me unprepared.
A secret book found in the secret chamber of the demon sect that can cure qi deviation and illnesses as easy as blowing off dust…
This method was so great, merely requiring a cauldron that understood martial arts and it could cure countless incurable diseases that geniuses could not solve. How can there be such a good thing in this world?!
“Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower…” My hand gripped the booklet tighter and tighter. “It’s practically exchanging one life for another; an evil art!” When I said the last few words, I gnashed my teeth in anger and furiously threw the book away.
The thin book hit the door with a muffled sound, the pages even miserably scattering all over the floor, but I was not in the mood to care.
How could this be?
I held my forehead with my hand, my head hurting horribly. Everything was a mess.
What happens if I stop the dual cultivation now? Will Xiao Zhongnan’s illness worsen or will his current situation stay the same? Will I die? Can I still be saved if I’m dying?
Questions came down like snowflakes, poking at my heart’s lair, sending my thoughts in a whirl but I still couldn’t answer them.
I closed my eyes and pressed down my rash state of mind, and when I opened my eyes again, I was already much calmer.
Soldiers come to guard, water comes to cover the earth1, and “dead” splattered on the left and right. If worse comes to worst, it would only be me losing my life to the Yellow Springs for Psycho, so it doesn’t seem that terrible.
Perhaps he saved me time and time again because of a series of arrangements made by the Heavens so that I could be able to cure his illness.
I laughed self-deprecatingly. I dragged my somewhat exhausted body to the door, squatted down and picked up the scattered sheets of paper one by one, and put it back into a pile as they were before.
Xiao Zhongnan did come back at night, but he didn’t come back by himself, rather, people were carrying him back.
“What’s going on here?! Why did my perfectly fine elder brother suddenly get sick?”
I rushed over to Xiao Zhongnan’s courtyard when I heard the news. There was already a crowd of people in his room at the time. Xiao Mobei was incessantly asking questions toward an old man with a long beard while hopping about anxiously.
“The Castle Master was already ill, and flaring up like this is normal. You ask me why, if I knew from where it came? I checked his pulse, and found that the congested veins in his brain showed signs of clearing recently, so I don’t know why this time his attack was more dangerous than before.” The physician sighed, “When all is said and done, this illness is due to qi deviation and is not a common headache. This old man is just an ordinary physician, and such complicated problems cannot be cured even if Hua Tuo2 and Bian Que were still alive!” He was about to pick up his medicine box, get up and leave after saying his piece, but Butler Cheng grabbed him.
“Elder Sun, don’t leave in such a hurry. If you have something to say, say it…”
My mind completely blanked out when I heard this. I could only walk slowly into the courtyard and find a stone bench to sit down without informing anyone.
Xiao Zhongnan became ill after three days of being away from the Castle, and it was even more dangerous this time. According to a Black Hawk Castle disciple who went with him, the headache was so excruciating that he even bashed his head against the wall. In the end, they had to knock him out and carry him back.
He had never been ill ever since I started using the Secret Code of the Hidden Flower to treat him. This has me thinking—if I really ignored his life and death and left like this, not only will he not heal, but will he also be in danger again and again, and be tortured to death by his headaches during his vicious illness’s flares?
It is a hot summer, but the breath I exhale seems cold.
This fucking dual cultivation secret book is so evil, it even has this strategy of ‘once you start practicing it you can’t stop, or else no one will survive’!
My intention was to save him, but now it seems that I am hurting him instead…
I don’t know how long I have been sitting in the courtyard, it was only until Xiao Mobei came to call me that I recovered from my thoughts.
“My brother woke up and asked you to go in,” Worry was written all over his face and his brows were wrinkled, forming the character “川”. “We’re leaving, you stay and look after my brother, and if something’s the matter, send someone to call me immediately.”
I stood up and patted him on the shoulder, nodded, and said, “I understand, all of you should go back and rest first.”
When I entered the room, I saw Xiao Zhongnan leaning against the headboard with a tray on his lap. There was a lot of food on the plate and he was also holding a bowl in his hand. It seems that he heard the sounds so he turned his head towards the door.
I frowned and said, “Why are you eating by yourself? Here, I’ll feed you.” After saying so, I walked a few steps to get to the bedside and tried to grab the bowl and chopsticks from his hands, but I did not succeed.
Xiao Zhongnan then continued to leisurely eat the porridge in his bowl. If it weren’t for his complexion being a little pale, I wouldn’t be able to tell that he was a patient at all.
As he ate, he said, “I can move my hands and feet, why would I make you feed me?”
I pulled my hand back, curled my lips, and said, “Then you can just forget about me feeding you.”
I didn’t want to mention his illness lest it bothered him and I make myself unhappy, so I asked him about his experience on his trip.
“Your friend got married, did many people go?”
He glanced at me. “Many.”
“Was the bride beautiful?” I asked again.
He swallowed the food in his mouth, lowered his eyes, and said, “I’m not the groom, where would I see the bride, but my friend appeared very happy so she should be very beautiful.”
I asked him what his friend’s name was, what his nickname was in the Jianghu, and who the guests that attended were. I asked until there was really nothing left to ask, and I also didn’t know what was going on but a question suddenly sprouted in my mind. “Have you ever thought about marrying another wife?”
He held his chopsticks for a while and did not move them to his plate. He glanced over and his eyes flickered between bright and gloomy. “I never thought about it. You once said that not everyone could accept me like this.”
I thought of our conversation at the lakeside that day, and said, “You also said that you only need to find that one unique and unrivaled person.”
He simply put his chopsticks and bowl down, picked up the towel, and wiped his mouth.
“But is this unique and unrivaled one so easy to find anywhere? And even if you did find them, they may not necessarily be yours. I treat him with a sincere heart and I naturally hope that he will also treat me sincerely in return, but if he refuses, I can only withdraw my sincerity.” His movements were very slow and his voice was quite steady, but I could hear the loneliness in his words.
Thinking of our situation, I couldn’t help feeling deeply moved. “That’s right. If others treat me with a sincere heart, I would also treat him sincerely.”
Having heard my words, he fixed his gaze on me, our eyes interlocking with each other. “Remember what you said today.”
I nodded repeatedly when it turned dark all of a sudden. He held my head and he had leaned over to drop a kiss on my forehead.
The kiss was light and soft, without the least bit of lust, brushing against my heart just like a feather.
The days passed by quickly, and the wisteria grew out its branches, which bent and twisted as they climbed onto the window sill. It was tender and green, looking very adorable.
Such a thick wisteria would definitely be very beautiful when it blooms. I couldn’t help but imagine the magnificent sight of the whole house’s exterior walls covered by its small purple flowers.
Unfortunately… No matter how much I look forward to seeing it bloom in the coming year, I’m afraid I won’t be able to see it.
I am losing control of my body, and my internal strength is dissipating bit by bit as well. Every time the severe pain strikes, it would take longer and longer to disappear.
I think the cause of my death will probably be due to the loss of my internal strength, the failure of my internal organs, and finally, dying from vomiting blood.
Fortunately, Psycho’s body is getting better and better; this is probably the only thing worth feeling relieved for.
I got sick several times in Xiao Zhongnan’s bed. I was trembling from the pain and could not let my bed partner notice, so I struggled to get up and stagger out of the room. I waited until I had reached my own room before vomiting blood until I became exhausted.
Once, the noise woke up Xiao Zhongnan, and I tried to act strong and calmly told him that it was just a urinary urgency.
“You sweat all over when you pee?” He saw me lying down again and wiped my neck.
Isn’t this my cold sweat that came out of my body?
I was still feeling weak at the moment. I closed my eyes and responded to him vaguely, “It was too hot today.”
The next day, a lot of ice chunks were sent to my room. When Xiao Zhongnan slept over there that night, he also let people put several basins of ice in the corner. It was so pleasantly cool that there was not a trace of the hot weather.
After more than ten days of this, I noticed that the days where I feel fine were getting less and less frequent, so I told Xiao Zhongnan that I wanted to take another look at that big lake that we had seen before.
Xiao Zhongnan always agrees to my requests, and so he brought me to the grassland that night.
With the sky as our canopy and the ground as our mat, we made love—on the meadows, in the lake, the starry sky as our witness. It was too marvelous for words.
With the time we have left, I wanted to put aside the past and not think about anything, needed to not think about anything, and just have fun with Xiao Zhongnan as much as I please. After that, it doesn’t matter whether I live or die; I have enjoyed my life to the fullest anyway.
“After tonight, I will have no more regrets with my life.” I lay bare on Xiao Zhongnan’s naked chest, a wrinkled coat over my shoulders.
He stroked my hair softly, from top to bottom, down to my waist.
“Your life is still long, why won’t you have any regrets right away?” His voice was deep and husky, with a bit of satiated languidness.
Your life is still long, but for me, I don’t know how much there is that’s left.
My heart was aching, I buried my face in his embrace and said, “How can I have any regrets if I can hold the magnificent Great Castle Master Xiao to sleep? How many people would be envious of me, how greatly fortunate I am!”
I couldn’t help feeling miserable at the thought that I was going to silently die where he couldn’t see. I especially wanted to grab his lapels and tell him in a loud voice, “I’m going to die for you, so you cannot forget me! You can’t be without a conscience!” But if he knew, he would definitely be sad and feel sorry for me.
Once he’s sad, I also won’t be any better.
So, instead of the two of us feeling hurt, it would be better if I am the only one hurting, letting him think that I am far away, traveling through the mountains and rivers. This is better than letting him know that I died for him.
“Behave, I just let you sleep.” His voice carried a trace of a smile in it.
When I heard that, I also smiled. “I am behaving, I am the most behaved.” The sound of his heartbeat was right by my ears. I closed my eyes. “Are there any fish in the lake? I want to eat grilled fish tomorrow.”
“Yes, I will catch some for you tomorrow.”
“I want you to feed me.” Just like in the cave.
“I only feed someone with broken hands and feet.” He pats me on the back as if he was coaxing a child to sleep.
I stretched out my hand in front of him. “Here, break it, ba.”
In the end, he still didn’t break my hand, but he held me under him and opened his mouth.
“Let me do it one more time, and I’ll feed you tomorrow.” He seduced.
I smiled at him. “Alright!” This condition is really too easy to satisfy.
The next day he dived into the lake and caught a big fat fish. The grilled skin was crispy and the meat was tender. I sat beside him and asked him to feed it to me.
This is probably the best grilled fish I have ever eaten in my life.
After a few more days, Xiao Zhongnan told me that he was going into seclusion and that Xiao Mobei would be his guardian. He told me not to run around.
When I heard the news, I was a little surprised. “Why do you want to go into seclusion all of a sudden?”
His expression was tranquil and calm, but his eyes were filled with a joy that could not be concealed.
“These past few days, I feel that the blocked qi and blood in my body are showing signs of loosening. I want to use my internal force to give it a try. If it succeeds, I will no longer be under the influence of the madness and can completely return to being a normal person.”
Although there was still some uncertainty in his words, I know that he will succeed this time.
I exchanged my entire life for this person; if I still don’t succeed, I would burn that faulty book!
“That’s great! Brother Xiao, you will certainly succeed, and I’ll wait for you to come out.” I am genuinely and sincerely happy for him, even if I am now a useless person lacking internal strength.
The two brothers would enter seclusion soon. I calculated that the time was around the same. When Xiao Zhongnan goes into seclusion, Guardian Yang should also be coming to pick me up.
When that time comes, I would take advantage of the opportunity and leave with Guardian Yang, leaving a letter that says, “Many thanks, Castle Master Xiao, for your care over the past few days. I have gone to travel the land under the heavens and indulge in the mountains and rivers.” It must not be too perfect!
Yet unfortunately, that youngster Yang Chengqi didn’t arrive at the planned time, he came to me several days early.
I was stunned when I saw him. I grabbed his wrist and asked, “Why are you here right now? Didn’t I ask you to come back in a month’s time?”
Yang Chengqi was still dressed in his clothing like that night, and his expression was tense with inexplicable excitement. He explained to me, “The Black Hawk Castle has been heavily guarded recently. I’m afraid I won’t be able to leave with the Sect Master, so I came a few days earlier than the agreed time.”
“Didn’t I say that I still have something to do?”
“Yes, so I have already done it for you!” His mouth was split open into a big smile.
I was taken aback. “… done?”
This really was too strange. I stared at him blankly, not knowing what to say.
His eyes sparkled, and he took out a roll of things from inside his clothes to show me. “Sect Master, you stayed here only because you want to find something that can bring down the Wulin Alliance Leader and Black Hawk Castle, so I have found it! This is a confidential letter containing the dealings between Xiao Zhongnan, the Wulin Alliance Leader, and the Imperial Court. Sect Master, you definitely won’t believe it. All of the righteous cultivators and Wulin Alliance were originally under the control of the Imperial Court. Xiao Zhongnan and the Wulin Alliance Leader, that old codger, are both Imperial Court hawks and hounds! As long as this news is spread to the world, the Black Hawk Castle and Wulin Alliance Leader can never think about having an easy time again.”
This enormous secret shocked me by no small amount. For a time, the words Wulin Alliance Leader, Xiao Zhongnan, and Imperial Court appeared alternately in my mind, almost mixing up my thoughts into a tremendous muddle.
However, now is really not the time to marvel at the Imperial Court’s methods and be curious about Xiao Zhongnan’s role in all this. Yang Chengqi’s stealing this confidential letter is simply courting disaster, I must return this thing quickly while no one has discovered it yet!
“Leave the letter with me and go, I will look for you in a few days,” I told him. “Still? Why do you still want to stay?” He was puzzled, “Can’t we just go together right now?”
Go, what go?!
If the people of Black Hawk Castle found out that such an important thing was lost, we will be hunted down for thousands of miles. If that happened, how could I, a cripple with no internal strength, escape their net?!
I snatched the bundle of confidential letters, and scolded him, “You idiot, I’m letting you go so just go. Where is all this nonsense coming from…”
I was still in the middle of losing my temper when I felt the atmosphere around me suddenly change, a sense of crisis immediately sweeping over me.
The one who reacted first was Yang Chengqi. He pulled his mask back over his face and turned around to escape. However, the big net that fell from the sky was too thick and foolproof. In just a short while, we were wrapped up and directly caught.
Black Hawk Castle’s guards, who emerged from who knows where, surrounded us like two turtles stuck in a jar.
“Why are you leaving in such a hurry? Stay for meal!”
I turned around in horror to look at the place where the voice came from and found two people slowly walking out of the dim corner. One was Xiao Mobei who had just spoken, and the other was…
“Brother Xiao…” I called his name in a hoarse voice, and the panic in my heart became more and more intense.
How can I explain all of this? Does he know everything? Why did he go out of seclusion so suddenly? Has his illness recovered?
His gaze on me was similar to that of ice, without the slightest temperature and capable of making people tremble with fear; he only needed to utter a couple words to make all my hopes vanish.
“This brother really doesn’t dare accept the honor,” he said, “Sect Master Han.”
…Sect Master Han?!
I staggered and unconsciously took half a step back, my voice was faint. “You… already knew my identity?”
He nodded and looked at me calmly. “Yes, I already knew; Lin Yue told me in the woods before he died. He said that you had approached me just to use me to help you regain the position of the demon sect’s sect master. He also said that one day you would betray me for the sake of HanYiJiao and make Black Hawk Castle into the laughingstock of Wulin…”
I interrupted him in a loud voice. “No! I didn’t have any purpose whatsoever in approaching you.”
I have never known how to play with conspiracies and crafty plots in my whole life, but I am often misunderstood as a person who is well versed in such matters. This is really the Heavens toying with me, ridiculous, too ridiculous!
Xiao Mobei snorted coldly. “Then how will you explain the letters in your hand? They never walked into your hand by themselves, right?”
I dazedly stared at the terrible things in my hand, wishing that I could put them back into Yang Chengqi’s hand again.
Other people sowed it while I got the harvest. Now, even if I have a thousand mouths, I’m afraid I still wouldn’t be able to clear the misunderstanding.
In fact, for what reason am I trying to clear it up?
Either way, I can’t live much longer… Perhaps it’s not that bad to die in Psycho’s hands.
Now that I think about it, he may have begun suspecting me a long time ago. A pile of pieces is not without a trace; I just didn’t notice because I didn’t set up my defenses at all.
Having figured it out, I laughed in a low voice, and when I looked at Xiao Zhongnan again, my previous panic was gone.
“It’s true that I am not a deserter disciple of the demon sect. I am Han Qingyan, the 26th Sect Master of HanYiJiao. I inherited the position of the previous Sect Master and I am the true Sect Master of the demon sect.” I pointed to Yang Chengqi who was on the ground, “This is Guardian Yang. He stole something of such importance from the Castle Master. I am really sorry. I apologize to Castle Master Xiao on behalf of this insensible subordinate.” After that, I bowed.
Xiao Zhongnan’s face contained neither happiness nor anger as he asked, “So you stayed with me all this time just so you could use me?”
My heart hurts, I can feel something fishy and sweet in my throat. It seems that I’m going to vomit blood again.
“You probably won’t believe what I say anyway.” I smiled miserably. “You’re going to kill me, right?”
Heavens above, if you want me to exchange my life with his, please let him never know the truth behind everything.
Otherwise, it would certainly be too evil…
He looked at me for a long time and suddenly took a step forward. “You are the sect master of the demon sect. You lied to me for so long. You arbitrarily stole confidential letters with the intention of disrupting the entirety of Wulin…” He walked towards me step by step, his pace firm and steady, and he cleanly came to a stop in front of Yang Chengqi, “Every reason is enough to kill you once and for all.” As soon as he finished speaking, his sword slashed at Guardian Yang, and I was alarmed. I was thinking about blocking it with my body, but I didn’t expect that he would merely slash the net without hurting Yang Chengqi.
“However, I don’t want to taint my sword, leave!” He coldly looked askance at me and then, sheathing his sword, turned and left.
I opened my mouth, wanting to stop him. He had already walked a few steps away when his figure flinched and he hurriedly used his hand to support his forehead. He was actually showing signs of his illness again.
At the same time I moved my feet, Xiao Mobei quickly reached his brother to support him.
Xiao Zhongnan pushed him away a little, indicating that he did not need to support him. He turned his head to look at me, and said coldly and strictly, “Leave Black Hawk Castle now!”
His clothes were not messed up, his hair was neatly tied, and he was still the solemn and steady Black Hawk Castle Castle Master, yet for no reason whatsoever, I felt that his anger was already on the verge of becoming dangerous. It seemed that just a little bit more instigation and he wouldn’t be able to help slashing me with his sword.
Xiao Mobei frowned fiercely and urged, “Still not rushing to leave? Do you really want to stay behind for a meal, ah!”
I pursed my lips and put the roll of the confidential letter in my hand on the ground, and then lent an arm to support Guardian Yang at the side.
“Good… bye.”1 I said to Xiao Zhongnan’s figure from behind.
He seemed to have no more patience to even glance at me again and walked away quickly as if he had heard nothing.
Yang Chengqi quickly used his light footwork and led me out of Black Hawk Castle. I looked back at the direction of Xiao Zhongnan’s departure with incomparable nostalgia, but couldn’t wait for him to look back.
I won’t see this person again… The pain made me unable to breathe easily and I was clutching my chest.
“Sect Master… did your subordinate make a mistake?” The atmosphere just now seemed to have made Yang Chengqi aware that something was wrong, and his tone was very anxious at the moment.
I shook my head and said softly, “It doesn’t concern you, it was my fault.”
Although it was somewhat different from what I planned, this is also fine.
In this way, even if Xiao Zhongnan learns about my death in the future, he wouldn’t be too brokenhearted.
He would simply think, Oh, wasn’t that the bastard who lied to me? Good riddance! He deserved it!
Yang Chengqi and I left Black Hawk Castle, heading over to a small town not far from it. He told me that other people from HanYiJiao were waiting for us. As long as we meet with them, we can start to rebuild HanYiJiao to forge bright prospects of the future onwards.
It was obviously the same as a street rat that everyone would yell and beat at, but in his words, it came out as very effortless and leisurely.
I really didn’t feel like crushing his exaggerated, naive fantasies, and smiled reluctantly.
If possible, I also want to help him realize his dream of “reviving the demon sect”, but my body has begun to become less and less obedient, and I feel entirely helpless.
I had been thinking about how to tell him this cruel fact, when one certain day, at dusk, as we were planning to spend the night in the woods, I ultimately spewed out a mouthful of blood right in front of him; all my worries were solved just like that. Guardian Yang’s expression made it seem like he saw a ghost.
“Sect Master!” He stepped forward and held up my deathly pale face, and he was losing his mind out of fear as he examined my pulse.
What the outcome was, I could already guess without looking at his facial expression. I am already beyond cure, and I am afraid that my time is running out.
“Don’t examine it anymore, I won’t be able to live long.” I withdrew my hand weakly, “Chengqi-ah, I can’t be the sect master of HanYiJiao any longer. I can see that you’re pretty good. If you want, I can pass the position of sect master to you.”
In any case, whoever wants to take this thing can take it, I don’t want it anymore.
Yang Chengqi didn’t respond to what I said, obviously still in shock, and asked me in a stupified voice, “How can this be? Could it be Xiao Zhongnan who poisoned you? Otherwise, why would Sect Master suddenly be on the brink of death?!”
It was truly awful. Just hearing these three words, “Xiao Zhongnan,” right now made me feel a burst of pain in my heart, and I feel terribly sad.
I staggered to stand up while using Guardian Yang’s shoulders to support myself, and then bent down to slowly pat the hem of my robe. “What are you thinking? Xiao Zhongnan is not that sort of person. Besides, he could obviously stab me with a sword, so why does he still need to unnecessarily use poison on me?”
I stood straight, raised my chin up, and watched the dimming sky.
No birds can be seen, deep green covered the scenery, and the evening breeze blowing gently made people shiver.
I’m going to die for Xiao Zhongnan. Although I am perfectly willing to do so, when I think about the possibility of there never being a second person to know about it, I just can’t help but feel… sad!
I glanced at Yang Chengqi and found a stone to sit down on. I said slowly, “Guardian Yang, this body of mine really wasn’t harmed by other people; rather, I practiced an evil technique that led to the complete loss of my internal strength and failure of my internal organs. It doesn’t have much to do with Xiao Zhongnan.”
Although Guardian Yang was a bit stubborn, it felt good to talk about everything on my mind to him. At least someone would know how, and for whom, I died in the end.
He walked a few steps closer to me and asked anxiously, “What technique was it?”
I had no intention of concealing it and told him directly that it was the《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》.
Unexpectedly, Yang Chengqi’s expression changed when he heard those words. “Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower?!”
Listening to his tone, it turned out that he actually knew this technique, and not only did he know it, he also knew how powerful it was. His master was an old man in the sect, and it wasn’t unusual for him to know a bit of the underlying secrets. It was of no surprise to me.
I clutched my chest and coughed twice before saying, “That’s right, I have practiced this method for several months already, and now even an immortal would find it hard to save me.”
Yang Chengqi’s expression showed he was struggling. He hesitated then asked me, “Was it for… Xiao Zhongnan?”
I smiled. “You know a lot.”
“I heard all of these from my master.” After saying this, he was suddenly once again alarmed as if he realized something. “Since the Sect Master can practice 《The Secrets of the Flower》 for Xiao Zhongnan, it is inevitable that your heart would be bound to him, so this subordinate stealing those confidential letters not only didn’t help you but on top of that, it also created a disagreement between Sect Master and Xiao Zhongnan? This… what’s to be done? This subordinate deserves to die!” The expression on his face says that he has given up on life.
I weakly waved my hand and said, “Stop talking about this now. I’m going to die. Who would care whether it’ll create a disagreement between the two of us or not!”
Moreover, what’s done is done, and even if Guardian Yang uses his death as an apology the situation still could not be fixed. I didn’t want to increase his guilt.
“Does Xiao Zhongnan know about this?” Guardian Yang asked me carefully.
I feebly lifted the corners of my lips. “To prestigious gentlemen, morality and justice are more important than their life; how could they possibly let me treat his illness after knowing about it?” I sighed. “Besides, I’m not as infatuated as you think. From the start, I didn’t know that by practicing this kind of art I would be forfeiting my life. If I had known, I would definitely not have thrown my life away.”
I said so, but I understood that at the bottom of my heart it actually didn’t matter whether I knew of it or not. As long as it involved Xiao Zhongnan’s life and death, no matter how hesitant I was, I would still stubbornly bear it upon myself in the end.
My meeting with Psycho really was a damning lifelong mistake…
Guardian Yang suddenly squatted down and grasped my hand, “Sect Master, do you remember Elder Wen? He escaped with me and is still alive. He is the most proficient in terms of his medical expertise. As long as Sect Master meets with him, your illness will surely be cured!”
I was distracted by the name ‘Elder Wen’. In my memory, he was a small old man with a white beard, white eyebrows, and white hair. He would hold his medical book and cheerfully talk about it all day long, and he had no sense of existence in HanYiJiao. It really was a miracle that his old legs and feet weren’t caught by the righteous cultivators and sacrificed to the heavens!
“Alright, I’ll go with you to meet him, but…” I changed the subject, “If he can’t heal me either, I will immediately pass the position of sect master to you and you will be the one to grow HanYiJiao in the future. It will be up to you, you must live up to it.”
Yang Chengqi’s eyes were red, and his tears were nearly falling.
“Yes!” He nodded one after another.
At that moment, a flock of birds was suddenly startled in the distance, and then came the dense sound of footsteps. Yang Chengqi abruptly stood up and looked around, his expression becoming unusually grave.
Although I have no internal strength, my keen martial artist’s intuition was still there. I immediately stood up after and formed a vigilant stance with our backs against each other.
Soon, a large group of people uniformly made their way out of the woods, surrounding me and Yang Chengqi. There were two very familiar individuals mounted on the horses at the front. I thought about it carefully, isn’t that older one the Sect Master of Hidden Sword Gate? Furthermore, that one with the large beard seemed to be the influential Sect Master of the Northern Gate sect who participated in my entrapment and suppression more than a year ago.
Surrounded by these two sects, I can already roughly guess what happened.
It must be that the old sect master of Hidden Sword Gate finally cured his blurred vision that was caused by his old age. Last time these two joined together to cut down the demon sect, and the more I looked at it, the more I felt déjà vu from the Northern Gate Sect Master hitting it off with the former and coming to ambush me from all ten directions.
The Sect Master of Hidden Sword Gate stroked his beard, smiling until his eyes were squinting. He said, “Sect Master Han, we met again! Last time my hospitality was unsatisfactory, this time, please give this old man another chance to make up for his mistakes and entertain the Sect Master and this little brother with magnificent hospitality. Shall we leave together?”
My cheek twitched, but afterward, I immediately smiled and said, “Senior is polite, but I would rather excuse myself from your hospitality; I’m afraid it is unfortunate that I cannot enjoy it.”
The old man coldly snorted. “Then are you indicating that I should use force?”
You’re the one who doesn’t want to use such a soft attitude, ah!
“Since you know my identity, you should also know that I have a very close relationship with Xiao Zhongnan. The distance from here to Black Hawk Castle isn’t far, aren’t you afraid that he’ll look for you to settle accounts?” While dealing with them, I used my wide sleeves to hide my fingers that were writing a few words in Yang Chengqi’s palm.
—I’ll cover you, run.
The body behind me jolted. It seems that he wanted to turn me around but I grabbed his wrist and squeezed it hard, signaling him not to act recklessly.
“Your demon sect is condemned by everyone. If Xiao Zhongnan looks for trouble with us because of you, it wouldn’t be seen as anything good. If that happened, I would be sure to report it to the Wulin Alliance Leader so that the entire Wulin would know that his Black Hawk Castle was in collusion with the demon sect!” The Northern Gate’s sect master is a big, curly-bearded man, with an excessively fat face; he is not a character that can be easily dismissed.
He was arrogant from head to toe. “You should follow us obediently. If I ask something, you must answer. Do what you are told and know your place, and only then I might consider sparing your dog life.”
My eyebrows twitched. I almost couldn’t help taking off my shoes and throwing them over to plug his stinky mouth.
Report to the Wulin Alliance Leader? He and Xiao Zhongnan are a group that can help you only if there is a ghost!
Even though I was angry inside, I still showed no bad temperament on the surface. I nodded and said, “Okay, I will go with you…” As I was speaking, I quickly dashed forward and shouted, “Go!!”
The dozens of people suddenly fought as a group. Although my internal strength is gone, I still have my two hands and some moves, even if they’re merely flashy moves and without substance.
Several times when their sword was about to cut me, they would pull back. They seemed to want to keep me alive and relatively unharmed, and this gave me greater convenience. My entire body was swimming through the crowd like a fish, stirring up confusion.
Fortunately, Yang Chengqi didn’t lose his temper at this time. He cleverly drew the range of the battle bigger and bigger until he finally broke out from the battle circle and used his footwork to fly away. The Northern Gate Sect Master instantly cursed, and Hidden Sword Gate’s old man sent out several disciples to chase after him.
I’m a little worried about whether Yang Chengqi can escape or whether he would be so stupid as to bring someone to rescue me and throw away his life, but I am powerless to even defend myself right now, and I really don’t have the extra energy left to think about him.
I didn’t have true qi to protect my body and my moves completely lacked any internal force. I was gradually being defeated, and it didn’t need the Northern Gate Sect Master to dismount from his horse to personally fight me.
After holding out for a while, I was pushed down to a half-kneeling position with several swords placed against my neck. I was panting from the exhaustion brought by my actions just now, and there was a slight stinging sensation on my neck, which I think is a cut.
“Sect Master Han hasn’t encountered martial arts for a year, why didn’t he submit or retreat instead?” Northern Gate Sect Master’s tiger eyes narrowed slightly as he spoke. He jumped down from his horse and landed steadily on the ground like a huge mountain.
He walked up to me in several large strides, picked me up by my hair, and said sinisterly, “Is there some serious injury that caused this loss of internal strength?”
I glared at him, not willing to be outdone. I exposed him with a sneer, “Stop with the nonsense, you’ve gone through a lot of trouble to arrest me. Did you really want to provide warm hospitality for me? Great elder, can you stop mincing words? If there’s something you want me to say, I’ll say what I can say, and I’ll do what I can do. If I can’t do or say it, I still wouldn’t be able to anyway, even if you kill me. So, kill me as early as possible so that all our troubles can be solved and we can avoid wasting each other’s time.”
So many people from these two sects were dispatched but they neither informed the Wulin Alliance Leader nor intended to execute me on the spot. My capture doesn’t seem to be for the sake of eliminating the demon sect and defending traditional values, plus, counting in the Hidden Sword Gate’s Sect Master’s desperately greedy personality, I speculate that they are probably trapping me for some other purpose.
Sure enough, the Northern Gate’s Sect Master’s mouth drew back, exposing his yellow teeth. “You are very smart, kid,” he said, pulling me in front of him before emphasizing word by word, “I want you to lead me into the demon sect’s hidden chamber!”
His eyes flashed with a greedy light. “According to legend, when HanYiJiao was founded, the sect rescued a former prince who had met with misfortune. In return for this favor, the prince gave a treasure map entailing the stored money and valuables of the state treasury to its sect master. This treasure map has supposedly been kept in the demon sect’s hidden chamber for a hundred years. I want you to help me acquire it.”
Not only is there a huge number of rare books concealed in the demon sect’s hidden chamber, but there were also some things messily piled up everywhere. Those things hadn’t piqued my interest and I never looked through them; I didn’t expect that the Northern Gate Sect Master would be more familiar with the mysteries within the chamber than I am.
“Fine, I will take you there.” Since he said so, he must have been absolutely certain of its existence. If I denied it, he would most likely not listen, so I just admitted it naturally. “But, to tell you the truth, I’m already a dying man. My qi channels and eight meridians, as well as my internal organs, are all damaged. I’m afraid my health is just barely enough to accompany you to Partridge Mountain. Therefore, I hope that Sect Master will entertain me with delicious food and drinks; don’t let me get hungry or sick by any means, or else, who knows if I will still have life in me to open that hidden chamber.”
In fact, it’s easier to handle it this way. Their desire for this thing is proof of their weakness, they won’t dare to kill me. After all, the only person in the entire world who knows where – and how – to open the hidden chamber is me.
Although my life won’t last for long, being able to live for a day more is still good. It doesn’t make sense to not take advantage of it.
The Northern Gate Sect Master’s face changed. He stepped forward, seized my wrist, and mused for a moment before saying, “Weren’t you injured?”
“I didn’t say I was injured.” I slowly withdrew my hand.
He snorted coldly. “If you are honest, you can suffer less. I, the dignified Northern Gate Blade Sect’s Sect Master would never treat a prisoner unfairly.”
He said that, yet he still ordered his disciples to fetch shackles to cuff my hands and feet, guarding me closely.
After another incense stick of time, the old man from Hidden Sword Gate dejectedly returned with his disciples. Judging from his unhappy expression, I knew that he must’ve been unable to catch up with Yang Shengqi.
Northern Gate Sect Master asked, “How?”
The old man was fuming. “That kid escaped just like a loach! But don’t worry, there are only a few scattered remnants left of the demon sect. Even if they mobilize their desciples for the rescue, it is nothing to be afraid of. Surely, they are not our two sect’s opponents.”
These words are the truth. The demon sect at present is already not as good as it was before. It is no longer the HanYiJiao of a hundred years ago. The current HanYiJiao is a complete joke, and its sect master, a laughingstock.
Northern Gate Sect Master glanced towards me with a sullen face, pointing out his meaning, “I am not afraid of those demon sect remnants; rather, I fear… that person.”
“…Black Hawk Castle?” The Hidden Sword Gate’s old man stroked his beard and said leisurely, “Xiao Zhongnan is not a fool. There is no advantage to opposing all of Wulin for a demon sect cultivator. If that day indeed comes, simply kill this kid first. If worse comes to worst, it’s either the fish dies or the net splits!”
Tsk tsk, I knew this Hidden Sword Gate wasn’t anything good. These treacherous and cunning group of people are even more shameless than me, the demon sect’s sect master!
In due course, I made my sense of existence known and coughed while holding a fist against my lips. “Northern Gate Sect Master, I am not in good health. I’m afraid I am unable to drag such heavy chains out of these woods. Thus, I will have to trouble you to carry me out.”
The Hidden Sword Gate’s old man promptly raised his eyebrows as if he wanted to thrash his horsewhip against my honest appearance. Fortunately, as soon as he moved, he was barely held back by the Northern Gate Sect Master, making the old man seem puzzled and doubtful.
“Let’s go for a talk.” The Northern Gate Sect Master pulled the old man away with a ‘keep calm, don’t be impatient’ expression.
I get very tired when I move, so I just sat on the ground to rest.
After a long while, the two of them came back, both with complacent expressions. It seemed that their discussion was settled. Although the Hidden Sword Gate’s old man still didn’t have a good expression directed at me, he no longer talked maliciously straight to my face and even called a disciple to carry me.
I could not help but sigh in my heart. These so-called prestigious and upright people, their style is too disgusting, they simply cannot compare even to that of Xiao Zhongnan’s fingernail!
Speaking of which, I don’t know how he’s doing right now; did he become ill again?
When I think of him, I feel somewhat unwell. It’s like my heart is being pressed upon by a huge stone, and it feels suffocating and painful.
Like this, the two sect’s disciples alternately took turns to carry me out of the woods, and when we passed through a small town, they bought me a carriage. This treatment was way better than when I was first captured by Hidden Sword Gate.
However, it wasn’t entirely fraudulent when I said I couldn’t walk and whatnot. I’m getting weaker and weaker every day. I feel tired and sleepy at every turn, and the duration of when I am awake is becoming shorter and shorter. I can feel that soon, I could just fall asleep and not wake up after.
I didn’t have time to say goodbye to Cheng Xiaoyu that day I left Black Hawk Castle. I wonder, would the kid have cried? If I had known earlier, I would’ve asked him in advance to take care of my wisteria, to water it, and apply more fertilizer when he has nothing to do.
I lay in the carriage in a daze, staying like that for several days. Aside from eating and going to the bathroom, I spent the rest of the time in the carriage.
Today, I was sleeping in the carriage because my body fell ill and I felt uncomfortable everywhere. My ears were buzzing as if there were more than a dozen mosquitoes flying around my head.
Through my trance, I felt that the carriage under me seemed to stop, and then there was a thundering sound of hoofs from afar that was getting closer. Soon the sound of swords clashing and miserable shrieks came from outside; I slowly woke up. Before I could react to what was happening, the carriage curtain was abruptly torn open and Northern Gate Sect Master appeared in front of me, the sunlight glaring against his back. He dragged me out of the carriage without any further explanation.
“Who could’ve thought that Xiao Zhongnan would still value you, kid.” He said with a black face.
I was half-awake when I heard Psycho’s name. I immediately looked around and found that the Northern Gate Blade Sect’s and the Hidden Sword Gate’s disciples were battling against other forces. They wore black armor from head to toe while wielding a heavy sword, just like Black Hawk Castle’s disciples.
My mouth opened slightly in shock, resembling a fool.
Why did disciples from Black Hawk Castle come here?
What about… Psycho? Is he here too?
As I searched around for his familiar figure, a goshawk cried and plunged from the sky. Its huge wings seemed as if it can hide the sky and cover the earth. It swooped down all of a sudden, scaring the Northern Gate Sect Master so much that he had to quickly use his arm to block it. The ferocious bird used its sharp talons to make a deep gash on the arm.
“Damn animal!” He cursed in a low voice before using his arm to lock around my throat and drag me toward him, using me like a giant shield.
“Sect Master! We came to save you!”
This voice was very familiar. I looked over in surprise and found that Yang Chengqi was brandishing his sword and fighting the old man from Hidden Sword Gate.
I simply did not know whether to laugh or cry. He was clever enough not to let the others from the demon sect to come to throw away their lives, but why on earth did he go to Black Hawk Castle, ah? What was he thinking! What’s even more incredible is that Black Hawk Castle actually believed him and came to my rescue?! Is Xiao Zhongnan crazy??
While he was fighting Hidden Sword Gate, he wanted to come and save me, but the martial arts of the Hidden Sword Gate’s old man were equally matched with his, and it would be difficult for him to shake him off for a while. Yet at this moment, the goshawk struck again, scratching the face of the Northern Gate Sect Master and creating lacerations while I was not injured in the slightest.
The hawk spread its wings and slipped away after. Before I could come back to my senses, the Northern Gate Sect Master released a strange scream and slashed his sword behind him. An ear-piercing sound made by two sharp blades striking against each other was heard. He turned around, now cutting a sorry figure, and took me along with him. Only then did I see the person behind him clearly.
Tall and handsome, solemn seriousness—who would it be other than Xiao Zhongnan, that psycho?
He actually came to save me…
I stared at him without blinking, not wanting to miss his every gesture and expression.
The person whom I thought I would never see again suddenly appeared before me; it was really like a dream.
“Xiao Zhongnan, you actually colluded with the demon sect! Are you not afraid that Black Hawk Castle will become the target of public criticism and become a shameful existence to all of Wulin?” A few days ago, Northern Gate Sect Master also said what would happen if Xiao Zhongnan pursued him, and at that time he looked as if he didn’t put Black Hawk Castle in his eyes at all, yet now, he was so scared that his hands were clamping down so hard on me that I almost couldn’t breathe anymore.
Xiao Zhongnan’s sword pointed at the ground, his eyes appearing serene and indifferent as the next words he said made people speechless.
“Not afraid.” He uttered these two words clearly.
The Northern Gate Sect Master nearly collapsed due to his own anger. “Xiao Zhongnan! Don’t be too arrogant…”
Xiao Zhongnan didn’t listen at all. He directly pointed his sword toward him, and again uttered two words, “Release him.”
This imposing attitude is unlike ordinary people!
I can see the Northern Gate Sect Master was stunned silly. It was only when his arm that was strangling me by the throat ached that he came to his senses and realized that this was a matter of his life and death.
“Tell your people to retreat, or I will kill him!” I heard the Northern Gate Sect Master say through gritted teeth above my head.
The Northern Gate Blade Sect’s operation was covert, and they had far less people than Black Hawk Castle; their defeat was only a matter of time.
Xiao Zhongnan heard what he said but his stern face remained unmoved, and his eyes faintly revealed killing intent. “If you dare to hurt him, I will have to erase the Northern Gate Blade Sect and Hidden Sword Gate from this world.”
Regardless of whether these words were true or false, it still made me shudder. A person would fall into the candy jar1, but some people would do the opposite.
“Xiao Zhongnan, I can’t beat you, but don’t be so proud of yourself. I will make you pay the price for what you did today!” The Northern Gate Sect Master couldn’t do anything but resent, “Since you want him so much, I will give him back to you!”
I felt a strong slap on my back, and from there, pain quickly spread to my limbs and bones. As I flew forward, I couldn’t help but spit out a mouthful of blood.
Hazily, I seem to see Xiao Zhongnan fly over in a panic to catch me in his arms, his expression terrified like never before.
He took me into his arms and hugged me tightly, just like he used to in the cave.
Thank you for the well wishes, and thank you everyone for your patience! Now, I present to you… the rollercoaster ride.
Below is a song from the audio drama and its accompanying picture cover, it’s title is “Weak Waters Overturning the Jianghu”
Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.
I felt like I’ve slept for a long time. Although I awoke in the middle of it, my consciousness was murky for the most part. I would squint and glance around before quickly falling asleep again. Each and every time I briefly woke up, someone would be there accompanying me.
The scent of that person made me feel at ease, as if nothing could hurt me as long as he was there and I could just sleep like this forever.
“Why is he still not awake?”
“If you suffered a palm attack with his body condition, you would also be sleeping for a long time. It’s already a great blessing for him to still be alive, so don’t be picky.” As soon as I heard this insufferable way of speaking, I recalled that this person should be the “Physician Sun” who came to check on Psycho last time. I heard that he was a well-known and good physician in the vicinity, just with a bit of a strange disposition.
Physician Sun spoke again, “But it would still be useless for him to wake up. This person’s meridians are like a dry lamp with exhausted oil reserves. It is uncertain as to what day they will suddenly cease to exist; you had better prepare a coffin for him!”
A sudden loud noise, like the sound of something being shattered, shocked my still somewhat muddled consciousness awake.
I slowly opened my eyes, and in my ears was Psycho’s voice that he was still trying his best to suppress even though he was angry. “Prepare what coffin! If you can’t cure him, then just get lost. What nonsense are you spouting here?”
I don’t know if he was furious or frightened, but Physician Sun’s voice was shaking. “Spouting nonsense? Me? Good, good, good! Since you can’t believe in my medical skills, don’t send people to come and find me in the future. Ask someone better qualified instead!”
Then came the sound of footsteps and Xiao Mobei chasing the other with an apologetic voice. “Old Sun, please slow down, my brother is just worried and it’s normal for his mind to be in disorder. Don’t get angry with him ah…”
I tilted my head slightly, letting my eyes fall to the center of the room, only to see Xiao Zhongnan standing in front of a pile of broken wood debris, his back facing me, his figure slumped and motionless.
“Brother…” I paused as soon as I blurted out the word because I remembered—I had already broken ties with him, and he said that he didn’t want to hear me call him Brother Xiao again.
While I was hesitant about what to call him by, Psycho turned around and rushed toward the bed the moment he heard my voice. I saw his appearance clearly, and I was a little stunned.
His eyes were bloodshot with bags under them, and his beard was unkempt. Where is his previous graceful disposition that intimidated the Northern Gate Blade Sect and Hidden Sword Gate enough to make their urine flow through their butts? This appearance is six points similar to Psycho’s from when I first met him.
Thinking of Psycho, I suddenly remembered that before I fainted, in the fuzziness, I seemed to have heard this person in front of me call me “NanNan”. He never called me that when he was sober. Could it be that he remembered?
“Psy…cho?” I called him tentatively.
Unexpectedly, the other party’s reaction was surprisingly big. His eyes suddenly widened and he hugged me tightly as if to embed me into his flesh.
He spoke beside my ear, his voice trembling, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You…” In that instant, I felt like something had gotten stuck in my throat, and I tried several times before I was able to make a sound. “Did you remember?”
The person’s head buried in my neck nodded softly. “Yes.”
Somehow, I suddenly did not know whether to laugh or cry. I also felt that I had a lot to say to him, but in the end, I merely closed my eyes and hugged him back, my mind in confusion.
After a long time, I said hoarsely, “I didn’t mean to lie to you, and I also didn’t have any intentions in approaching you. I went back to find you after I left the valley. You’re the one who gave me that jade pendant. I didn’t want to be the sect master. It’s the truth that I didn’t order Guardian Yang to steal it…” I gradually ran out of things to say, and it was as if there was a rush of heat billowing under my eyes. “Why didn’t you believe me? You believed Lin Yue but you didn’t believe in me!”
As if stung by my words, he hugged me more tightly, his coarse beard rubbing lightly on the side of my neck as he placed each of his lingering kisses.
“Hush, I know. I know, alright,” He comforted me while kissing, “I’m bad, it’s me who’s not good…”
The more he was like this, the more I felt that my years of bitterness finally had a place to harbor, and the more I let out my grievances.
“You know, those righteous cultivators bullied me. Each and every one of them are bastards. That old, rough man from the Northern Gate Blade Sect hit me with a palm attack…” I sniffed, “I was already like this but he still hit me, to the point where it hurt so much, I spat blood.”
Before, I could easily and repeatedly bear the secret method’s pain and I would even secretly run outside in the middle of the night just to prevent him from knowing that I was sick. Now, it seems that I have reached the limit of my endurance—not only am I eagerly showing my wounds, but also seeking my beloved’s comfort and pampering like a child.
However, I don’t feel embarrassed at all. I’m going to die, am I not even allowed to act spoiled with him? At least give me a sumptuous meal before the beheading!
“Don’t be angry…” Psycho cupped my face and leaned over to kiss my forehead, my face, and my mouth, just like treating his most precious treasure, gentle and careful. “I will kill them for you.” He said these very scary words in an infinitely gentle tone.
I didn’t see the slightest trace of a smile in his eyes. It seems that he was truly serious, and it stunned me for a moment.
He wouldn’t really retaliate against the Northern Gate Blade Sect and Hidden Sword Gate sects for me, would he?
I was worried, thinking of what I heard just now when I woke up. I asked him, “Did Yang Chengqi tell you something?”
He didn’t answer my question upfront, merely caressed my face, and said, “He has gone to pick up Elder Wen. Wait ‘til Elder Wen arrives, his medical skills will surely cure you. You don’t have to be afraid.”
It seems that he now knows of the《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》. In order for Psycho to save me, Guardian Yang must’ve said things in an exceedingly sensational manner. Perhaps he said that I was some kind of lover whose affection has no regrets, or the most foolish of the foolish sort.
I hesitated again and again, but still couldn’t hold back, and said, “Are you feeling guilty and only treating me well because I am dying?”
I’m dying, and I have to ask in order to get to the bottom of his motivation. After working so hard, I deserve to know.
I am merely human; even though I normally adapt to the circumstances around me, I only act fierce while inwardly feeling cowardly. My death is approaching; I don’t want my beloved to show me compassion and pity because of his feelings of sympathy and guilt.
I, Han Qingyan, haven’t stooped so low.
Xiao Zhongnan’s face changed when he heard this, and he said firmly, “Don’t talk such nonsense. What dying, you will not die.” With the way he said that, it seemed as if I really wouldn’t die.
He took my hand and pressed it against his chest, “Moreover, where did I treat you well? You have to live a long time so that you will know just how good I can be to you in the future. Better than Psycho of the past, better than anyone else.”
There was a powerful thumping underneath my palm. Even separated by the layers of flesh and blood, it felt as if it was within my reach.
I clenched my five fingers slightly, wanting to retract them yet also reluctant to. In the end, I looked at him and jokingly said, “But Psycho wasn’t good to me. He regarded me as Mrs. Xiao and made me give birth for him…”
I also want to know just how good he can be to me, but at the same time, I understand that his “you will not die” is purely his own self-deception.
I know, deep inside, that I am already dreadfully hopeless.
Xiao Zhongnan pinched my cheek softly, his eyes filled with pampering and indulgence. “Who said I treated you as her substitute? You are you, she is she, I can distinctly tell the difference.” He then proceeded to add another sentence, “Yuan’er was not as fierce as you, kicking me at every turn.”
Hey! You’re blaming me? How would I not kick you at that moment?! I inwardly criticized him but didn’t bring up the issue of guilt anymore. Bringing it up again would only seem like being petty.
“Mrs. Xiao’s name is Yuan’er?” I teased, “Not NanNan?”
He was taken aback for a moment, and then helplessly said, “Did you think that every time I called out NanNan, I was calling her, treating you as her substitute?”
I didn’t speak, agreeing tacitly.
He sighed then turned over on the bed and let me rest on his shoulders. “You are my NanNan, I have never called anybody else that.”
I don’t really care about it at all. It’s just a nickname and a lovey-dovey and super girly one at that. I don’t want him to call me that at all. It sounds so bad… as if.
The corners of my mouth couldn’t stop rising. I tried to use a steady tone of voice and uttered a faint “Oh”, but it was hard to suppress the already happily blooming flowers inside my heart.
As long as I know that this person has feelings for me, I can die without any regrets.
I lay still for a while, and then suddenly asked, “When did you remember those things in the cave?”
“On the third day after you left, I found the 《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》 in your room. After reading it, I realized how tremendously wrong I was but I had already driven you away. I was disheartened and enraged. Under the emotional ups and downs, the true qi in my body surged, cleansing away the congested qi and blood inside my brain, and then I remembered everything.”
Psycho knew everything there was to know about me now and plainly told me everything, but I quickly grasped the main point.
“Why were you in my room?” My courtyard was far from where he lived.
This time, he paused for a long while, until I couldn’t help but urge him, then he spoke.
He said, “I missed you.”
I was stunned. My heart instantly turned sour, then astringent, and then sweet; the taste was satisfying.
“I missed you too.” I rubbed my head against his shoulder.
But ironically, as soon as my voice fell, I felt a burst of sharp pain in my body. The pain made me curl up into a ball and let out a pained groan.
Xiao Zhongnan discovered my abnormality and immediately gathered me into his arms, at a loss at what to do, and anxiously called for me, “NanNan!”
My five fingers clutched his lapel tightly, feeling the ripples of pain in my body abruptly intensify, as if to destroy my flesh and whittle my willpower away, grinding me completely into dust.
“It hurts…” A fishy, sweet liquid gushed out from my throat, overflowing along the corners of my lips.
Xiao Zhongnan’s eyes were red. He shouted outside the door, “Messenger! Get the physician back for me! Go, quickly!” Then he turned his head to appease me again, “It doesn’t hurt, NanNan is fine, it won’t hurt soon, don’t fall asleep…”
Spots began to appear in my vision, and gradually, I couldn’t see things clearly anymore. My hand that was holding onto Psycho’s robe almost slid down, but he grasped it in the palm of his hand.
I had just briefly woken up, yet now I’m fainting again. Who knows if I could still wake up after this time.
Generally speaking, I still want to wake up. After all, Psycho and I have just gotten back in touch, and I still want to taste the joys of our love as a couple.
“I looked after the kitchen today and prepared a lot of delicious food for you, so don’t stop eating; otherwise, if the Castle Master knew, he would be sad again.”
I was lying on the bed, and Cheng Xiaoyu was sitting on a small stool beside me with an apple in his mouth.
I don’t know if the Heavens heard my prayers or not, but not only was I able to wake up again, but I also seemed to be more energetic than before.
Psycho was, after all, the master of the castle, so he couldn’t always stay by my side. After I repeatedly shooed him away, he could only let Cheng Xiaoyu, this annoying kid, take care of me. It was described as taking care of me, but in fact, it was tricking me to eat and drink.
I don’t know how his father raised him, but I never saw his mouth stop—whether it was eating or talking.
“Then help me eat a bit!”
His eyes lit up, but soon the corners of his mouth drooped again, and he refused, “No, that won’t do, this is for you to replenish your health. If my father discovered that I ate it for you, I would be beaten.”
“But I don’t feel like eating.” Although my condition is better, I always feel that this is not a good thing, and it feels somewhat like the final radiance of the setting sun1.
He stared at me with blinking eyes and frankly asked, “Are you dying?”
I’m really quite terribly worried about him. What should be done if this kid grows up with this kind of conduct? Fortunately, Black Hawk Castle can support him. If he grew up in an ordinary family, I am afraid that as soon as he took one step into the Jianghu, someone would immediately thrash him to death, let alone think about creating a name for himself.
I looked at him with great bitterness on my face. “It should be so.”
“Don’t die, ah! Many people will be sad if you die, and I’ll also cry.” The kid turned pale with fright and rushed over to grab my hand, still holding his half-eaten apple in his right hand.
I helplessly patted the top of his head, “That is not for me to decide.”
“What will Castle Master do if you die?”
“Marry another Mrs. Xiao and give birth to a young master for you to play with,” I said with a kind of free and casual attitude, but my heart was slightly bitter.
Who knows if Psycho will come to visit my grave every year in the future, and if he did come, perhaps he would bring his son with him; I still want to see what his son would look like—would he resemble that serious and solemn face? Children should look like their age. In fact, it would be pretty good if he would be like Cheng Xiaoyu, and then be earnest at the age of eighteen or nineteen… Before I knew it, I was thinking a little too far off.
“… Then, when it’s time, just don’t come.” I suddenly said to Cheng Xiaoyu.
“What?” He looked puzzled.
I explained, “Just sweep my grave, and don’t come, I would be disturbed by your noisiness if you came, and then I would have to jump out of my coffin and pinch you.”
Cheng Xiaoyu tightly furrowed his brows. He slowly straightened up and stared at me as if he didn’t recognize me. After watching for a long time, he said with a bit of skeptical contempt, “I think you’re really sick.”
He was like someone who rushed into the kitchen to pick up a bowl of meat only to find that there was poop in it. He amused me, and I was rolling and laughing all over the bed.
“Can you be more serious? I’ll tell you the situation!” Cheng Xiaoyu wasn’t happy anymore. He put the half-eaten apple on the small table next to him quite imposingly.
I wiped the tears from the corners of my eyes and said with a smile, “Say it.”
He looked at me and sighed, and then using a ‘mature although young’ tone of voice, he spoke, “Big brother, you are a good person. I can see that you are sincere to the Castle Master, and the Castle Master also likes you very much. You don’t know how pitiful the Castle Master was during those several days that you weren’t at Black Hawk Castle—others would think that he was scary, but for me, he was pitiful.” The simple-minded smile on the child’s face was nowhere to be seen, and it had changed to a sad face, which made me almost think I was talking to someone else for a moment. “I grew up in Black Hawk Castle, and have the most affection for the two Castle Masters, they are the same as real brothers to me. The older Castle Master has already had his heart broken once before, and I don’t want him to be broken-hearted again… Big Brother, although I don’t know what kind of illness you have, you must take good care of yourself and work hard to maintain your health. You still have to make ziluo cakes for me when the wisteria flowers bloom next year!”
This Big Brother also wants to take good care of himself, but this Big Brother’s body doesn’t have the luxury to do so.
I didn’t have it in me to tell him too much about the cruel reality, thus I smiled at him, raised my right hand, and hooked my pinky. “Alright, it’s a deal. I’ll make you cakes next year.”
He finally smiled again when he heard me say this, and hooked his pinky with mine, then he picked up the apple that was placed aside and gnawed at it again.
He chattered continuously beside me. One moment, he was saying that there were rats in the Castle recently, and his father was planning to raise two cats to catch mice; a moment later, he was saying that there have been more people talking to Xiao Mobei recently, acting as a matchmaker, but the Second Castle Master seems uninterested; then a while after that, he was saying which horse in the paddock gave birth, and which horse became a father-in-law…
A benefit of chatting with Cheng Xiaoyu is that he was too skilled at talking and talking until the time will have passed without you knowing it. When his words finally came to an end, Xiao Zhongnan also came in from the outside. I took a look at the sky and it should be about time for dinner now.
“Then I’m going back. I’ll come again tomorrow!” Cheng Xiaoyu bid me goodbye, saluted toward Psycho, and skipped away.
I rubbed my slightly throbbing forehead, thinking about whether to let Psycho come with me tomorrow.
Xiao Zhongnan came over to help me sit up, and when he saw me rubbing my forehead, he also helped me massage it, pushing his internal force through his fingertips as he did so. It felt very comfortable and satisfying.
“Today, I asked the kitchen to make fish porridge. How was the taste?”
“It was good.” Although I didn’t have an appetite, I still tried to act like I’m feeling a bit better in front of him.
If he’s happy, then I’ll also be happy.
“I remember that you liked to eat the valley’s wild fruits during our time there. When you get better, let’s go back there and have a look, how about that?” Psycho’s voice was deep and gentle. It was hard to imagine that he could speak like this, but I really enjoy it.
I smiled and said, “You still want to dig up a tree and bring it back to plant in my courtyard?”
He kissed me on the corner of my lips, “It’s too far, I’m afraid it won’t be able to survive. It’s the same if we just go once a year.”
When it came to Cheng Xiaoyu, it was that I couldn’t bear to give him the shock; as for Psycho, it’s that I am unwilling to deliver the blow.
What he said about the trip, it was just like saying that next year he wants me to give him a son, because I know that both of them are – and will probably become – impossible dreams.
“Okay, we’ll go every year.” I touched his fingers. “Do you know what Xiaoyu was telling me just now? He said that he would make me make ziluo cakes for him next year, just like a glutton…”
I babbled on and on, repeating everything that Cheng Xiaoyu told me in the afternoon for Xiao Zhongnan to listen to. Unexpectedly, he listened very seriously, and would even echo my words from time to time.
When it was time for the meal, the servants walked into the room carrying food and arranged all the beautiful-looking, tasty-smelling, delicious vegetables and meat dishes neatly.
When the servants had left, Psycho walked to the table and cut each dish into small portions and placed them on a tray before returning to my side.
“Try everything. If you think it tastes good, tell me and I’ll add more of it for you. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t taste good, I won’t let them make it again in the future.” As he said this, he scooped a spoonful of porridge with a small spoon and brought it up to my lips.
I remembered the last time I had asked him to feed me and begged him for a long time. I raised my eyebrows and said, “Is it because my arms and legs are broken that I’m being fed?” That said, I ate the spoonful obediently.
The corners of his lips slightly twitched as he scooped another spoonful. “Are you holding a grudge? Then, from now on, I will always feed you.”
I finished the bowl of porridge with a smile, but I couldn’t eat anymore after that.
When night came, I lay on the same bed with him. A few days ago, he was worried about my health and simply went to sleep, letting the evening pass. But today, during this night with the lovely flowers and round moon, he still did not want to do anything! How can this be?
I immediately went to pull at his clothes, then sat astride on top of him, intending to be unyielding.
“Don’t mess around!” He didn’t dare to use force, but contrarily, I was provoked into being a little angry, and my face became entirely red with restraint.
“I’m not fooling around; you, untie your underpants, or I will do it myself.”
“Do it yourself, what do it yourself!” His breathing became increasingly rapid and shortened. I suspect that if my body were in good shape, he would’ve already been a starving wolf, pouncing on me and biting me until nothing remained.
While fighting with him, my hands swiftly reached toward his crotch, and when I touched the giant that was gradually hardening, I let out a knowing smile. “Good Gege2, stop struggling and just hurry up and do me!”
His entire body froze, and he didn’t dare to move. Without any better option, he could only softly persuade me. “Behave, NanNan; your body is not capable, wait a little longer…”
I could bear other things, but this, I really couldn’t.
“Who said I can’t? Don’t slander me!” After that, I rubbed my lower body on his abdomen, letting him know firsthand whether I could or could not do it.
I stuffed my fingers into my mouth, wrapped my soft tongue around them, soaked them, licked and sucked them, and deliberately made a satisfied moan to tempt him.
“If you don’t do it, I’ll continue like this… nnh ah… Good Gege, do it well, make me comfortable…”
After continuously teasing him, Xiao Zhongnan flipped over and pressed me under him.
He gritted his teeth a little and said, “You’re being a bad example right now.”
I hooked around his neck and presented my lips on top of his. “It’s called… living in the present.”
The need to enjoy the present is only because time passes by like running water and the years are merciless.
No matter how hard Psycho tries to keep me alive, my body will inevitably fall to its final decline.
Fortunately, I had a wonderful time before I would die, and my life was worthwhile.
I feel especially energetic today, much better than the previous few days. I know that today would most probably be the end of my life. Originally, I wanted to die in the cave at the bottom of the valley, but now it’s too late to go back. I mulled over it and thought that it would be better to change the location to the lakeside.
The scenery of that place was beautiful, and it’s also close to Black Hawk Castle. It would be convenient to visit me during New Year or any other festivities.
I let Psycho carry me to the lake. Currently, the weather is already a bit cold. He used a large cloak to wrap around me and bundled me up tightly.
I said to him, “Psycho, I wrote an abdication letter. When Guardian Yang arrives, give him the letter and tell him that I believe in his abilities and ask him to work hard.”
“You don’t need to be sad, I am perfectly satisfied and willing to do all of this.”
“After my passing, you can just submerge me down into this lake, that would be convenient.”
He has been silently listening to me, holding me in his embrace and kissing my forehead from time to time.
“Speaking of which, those few months in the cave were the time of my life when I was the most carefree and the freest.”
“When you have time, can you go back to see if the doe is still there on my behalf? It’s extremely stupid, and who knows if it was eaten already. And, that bearskin you gave me, burn it for me, I want to take it away1… “
My body’s getting colder and colder; I have no more energy left to speak, and I feel unusually sleepy. Psycho obviously perceived my change, causing him to hug me closer to his chest as if he was afraid that I would turn into a plume of smoke and drift away at any time.
I put my hand on top of his and caressed it softly. “Don’t be like this; in eighteen years, Laozi will be a good man, maybe I could even be your son!” I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of that scene.
“You’re not giving me a son, where would I get a son?” Psycho’s deep, hoarse voice came from above my head.
I curled my lips and gently squeezed the back of his hand. “Tsk, I said I’m a man… I can’t give birth.”
Psycho didn’t speak anymore, but I could feel a damp sensation on my forehead, then water droplets rolled down bit by bit. The hands that were carrying me trembled incessantly.
There was a pain lodging itself deep in my heart, my nose was sour, and I was close to shedding tears.
To be able to have this one caring person, my life has been rewarding.
I talked to him all night, and it lasted until the sun rose.
When the warm sunshine sprinkled over the grassland and brought with it a new day, my eyelids felt increasingly heavier, until they finally drooped completely closed.
Sinking into this genuine darkness, I seemed to hear the sorrowful roar of a man, like that of a wounded beast, so full of pain and despair.
I wanted to respond to him, but I couldn’t open my eyes or make any sound. I felt as if my whole body was floating in a sea of clouds. My entire body was warm and cozy, with my dantian exuding a warm flow of heat.
What’s wrong with me? Is this death?
Then, I seemed to see my life flash by. I was the smallest one amongst a group of teenagers the same age as me. Master asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up, and the other brothers all said that they wanted to do their part for HanYiJiao, that they wanted to become HanYiJiao’s cornerstone. I was the only one who said that I wanted to see the outside world, for which Master punished me to kneel all night.
As I grew up, I was completely ordinary; a nobody in the sect. I never bonded with the formed cliques and had no ambitions of becoming the sect master, but just like this, I entered the eyes of my little shishu. He regarded me as his chess piece to play with on the palm of his hand.
Conspiracies surrounded me since I was a child, and there was no lack of the strong preying on the weak around me, but I had always believed that one day I could leave this type of environment and be truly free.
When I was struck down the cliff, I had actually faintly breathed a sigh of relief in my heart. I felt that my life wasn’t a wonderful life; I had strived to do what I could, and now I could finally put down the burden on my shoulders and sleep well. Unexpectedly, in the end, I didn’t die and was saved by Psycho instead.
Now that I think about it, my whole life had run off course since that day, advancing all the way towards an unpredictable direction, and now, I don’t know whether that was bad luck or good luck.
I only knew that when my hands and feet were broken and my whole body swept by a pain similar to that of shattered bones and torn flesh, the Psycho who appeared in front of me was like a god descending from the sky. In my eyes, he was glowing with a bright and dazzling golden light, making me involuntarily cry out for help.
Whether he was Psycho or Xiao Zhongnan, I will never forget what he had done for me and the injuries that he suffered for me—not for eternity.
I believe that he’s willing to die for me, so what does it matter if I die for him now? In my opinión, it is worth it.
I don’t know how long I have been drifting among the sea of clouds—I have no concept of time and no awareness of what is happening around me; however, at a certain moment one day, I suddenly tasted something peculiar.
A rusty, fishy, and hot liquid rushed into my mouth and then went into my body through my esophagus.
My whole person started to sweat, my senses began to recover, and then I broke free from the darkness.
I woke up muddle-headed. The first voice I heard was from Guardian Yang, and he was also the first that came into my view.
“Awake, awake! Sect Master is awake!” He excitedly leaned his head toward me and made a lot of noise.
“Let me see!” After a while, an old man with a white beard also leaned forward. I pondered for a long time before I realized that this was Elder Wen.
Although I was awake, my arms and legs were still powerless. I spoke softly.
“I— how… I woke up again?”
Yang Chengqi spoke, taking the credit, “We almost couldn’t save you. I grabbed Elder Wen Xingye and rushed here. When we arrived, you were only half-alive. I saw you just at the time that Xiao Zhongnan was carrying you and walking into the lake. I nearly swooned in fright! It was chaos when we pulled you up, and it took a long time before we got you stabilized.”
I was taken aback, and hurriedly asked him, “Where is Xiao Zhongnan?”
Elder Wen spoke, “He hasn’t slept for several days. His younger brother tapped his sleep acupoints and moved him over to the next room.”
I nodded and lay down with peace of mind. I caught sight of the small bowl in Yang Chengqi’s hand, and asked, “What did you make me drink?”
The smell was too odd and too familiar, so I couldn’t help but ask.
Elder Wen’s expression didn’t change as he said, “This is Xiao Zhongnan’s blood. Your body is weak right now, so I could only let you drink a little of his blood first to replenish your own qi and blood.”
The way he said this was as if he was saying that it was his own Chinese cabbage.
“His blood?” I stared at the bowl of bright red stuff, my stomach churning, and there was a dull aching in my heart. “How about his health? Will this be harmful to him?”
Yang Chengqi knew that I was worried about Psycho, so he hurried over to assure me. “It’s fine, it’s fine. Castle Master Xiao is in good health, his qi and blood are abundant, and he was the one who said he wanted to do bloodletting for you.”
This really confused me, am I fine or not?
I asked one after another, “What the hell is going on with my body? Weren’t I going to die? Why didn’t I die again?”
Elder Wen sat at the side, lifting the tobacco pipe in his hand; he began to suck it and smoke. “The 《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》 was actually missing two pages. These two pages are very crucial because they describe your current situation in detail. Look at the little flowers outside; they wither year after year and then bloom year after year as well. The same is true for the cauldron who practices the 《Secret Ritual of the Hidden Flower》. From prosperity, to decline, and then to prosperity once more—like a phoenix’s nirvana2, it will never die and will never be extinguished.”
This was so incredible that hearing it left me stunned.
“Is your honorable self saying that I won’t die anymore?” Although death is painful, not being able to die would also be such a pain, ah.
He rolled his eyes when he heard this. “You won’t die right now. Maybe you will die of old age in a few decades; it’s also possible that you won’t need to wait to die of old age and be assassinated by your enemies. However, both your body and skills should be better than before once you finish recuperating. Just be careful and you can walk around the Jianghu sideways.”
I was completely dumbfounded. How could I return from the dead and also be able to walk in the Jianghu sideways? Good things like this also exist?
“By sideways, how sideways can I walk? Compared to Lin Yue?” I asked carefully.
Elder Wen snorted coldly, rather disdainful. “You regard that as walking sideways? Don’t worry; your skill will definitely be many times higher than his martial arts.”
My heart was rapidly thumping. I really couldn’t believe it at all. I even secretly quietly pinched myself to see if I was dreaming.
After a while, I accepted the fact that not only did I not die, but I might also have peerless martial arts. Psycho came to mind, and I quickly reached out to Guardian Yang.
“Quick, help me up, I’m going to see Psy… Xiao Zhongnan.”
Yang Chengqi helped me lean on the bed, but refused to let me get out of bed. “You’re still a patient at the moment. See, what see, ah? I’ll go and call him…”
I waved my hand. “No, let me go by myself.”
He was anxious and restrained me to stop me from moving. “Ai, Sect Master, don’t move about. Your body hasn’t recovered yet, don’t get out of the bed!”
At that moment, a figure suddenly pushed open the door and broke in, shocking the three of us.
The man at the doorway hadn’t come to a realization yet. He stood there in a daze, not far from me. His eyes were wide open, seeming as if he opened them a little more his eyes would burst out and bleed.
He walked to my bed, step by step, then suddenly knelt down. I was startled and was about to help him up, but he grabbed both my hands.
“NanNan…” He closed his eyes and held my hands up to his lips. He kissed them repeatedly as if he had regained a treasure that he had lost.
Heat suffused my eyes. I held back my tears and smiled at him. “Look at you, I asked you to take good care of yourself; why are you hurt like this again?”
He looked very frightened this time, holding on to me, his voice incomparably hoarse. “Never leave me again.”
I looked at him helplessly, at the same time feeling extremely sweet inside. I leaned over and kissed the corner of his eye.
He may have been bloodletting recently because his temperature was a little low, and his complexion wasn’t good. I felt very distressed.
“Alright, I will never leave you.” I promised him.
We have experienced things that ordinary people would most likely never experience and have walked a road that ordinary people could never walk. Heaven ought to let us be together properly from now on.
For my remaining time, I’m not asking for much, I just want to be able to live with him peacefully, smoothly, and steadily.
Winter left and spring came, my body was getting better and better under the care of Elder Wen, and my internal strength was also improving by leaps and bounds. I could even exchange blows with Psycho and occasionally tie, but I always suspected that he was just letting me have it.
The radiance of spring was just right that day. Cheng Xiaoyu and I got together to go on a horse-riding outing. When I passed by a dirt slope, I unexpectedly saw a wolf.
Wolves could be a disaster on the grassland. If there was a herd of horses nearby, they would be threatened. Without thinking any further, I left Cheng Xiaoyu’s side and chased after it.
I chased the wolf all the way to a cliff. ‘It’ saw that there was no way to escape and turned around to bare its fangs at me, threatening me with a terrifying growl. However, I was stunned when I saw ‘it’s’ face.
That night, I took a little ‘wolf pup’ back to Black Hawk Castle. The wolf pup was so fierce that it kept kicking and roaring in my arms.
Xiao Zhongnan and his brother were waiting for me to return to have a meal when they saw that I was holding something in my arms. The two of them stood up in succession to take a look.
“What did you pick up?” Xiao Mobei asked curiously.
Although Psycho didn’t speak, I could feel his probing gaze on the thing in my arms.
I grinned at him and peeled off the hide to reveal the little pup inside. “Take a look at my son!”
What I had seen was that there turned out to be a young and delicate child underneath the wolf’s skin. His black eyes were round because of fright. He was small and thin, but he was indeed a human boy.
I don’t know how a child could live alone in the grassland. From his appearance, he seemed to be a wolf child that was raised by a wolf. He completely lacks any sense of being ‘human’, if he hadn’t met me, who knows what could’ve happened to him.
The child was uncomfortable in my arms and was already restless since earlier, yet the moment he came into contact with Psycho’s cold and indifferent eyes, he whimpered and became well-behaved in an instant!
I happily lifted him up and declared, “From now on, you will be my son. Your name will be… it will be Han…”
Just as I was racking my brains while thinking about what name to give him, Psycho suddenly spoke and stated in a very domineering tone, “His name will be Xiao Langyue3.”
Forget it, Xiao Langyue, Xiao Langyue it is. To be surnamed Xiao, he is also my son!
I smiled again and said, “Your name is Xiao Langyue!”
The boy looked at me ignorantly, with innocence and silliness in his eyes, a bit like Psycho.