My Junior Still Hasn’t Killed Me Chapter 21-30

Chapter 21: Confinement

ZhongYan didn't even manage to catch a glimpse of Gu XuanYan for the entire day. Only two demonic cultivators came over to deliver his meals at noon and before dinner. Once they set the tableware, they headed off.

Asking the whereabouts of Gu XuanYan yielded no response from the two, so Zhong Yan had no choice but to give up. Still, judging by how unsurprised the demonic cultivators of the palace were at the sight of him, Zhong Yan figured Gu XuanYan had probably gone over to Cang Luan some time ago.

Perhaps Gu XuanYan had already made contact with the demonic cultivators during the journey, given that guides had been waiting by the gates long before they arrived.

By night time, a part of Zhong Yan's cultivation base had gradually recovered, but he still couldn't break the barrier at the door. The moment he approached the door, there would be a restrictive screen preventing him from advancing. After a few failed attempts, Zhong Yan gave up trying and went back to bed.

Under the groggy veil of sleep, Zhong Yan detected a person sitting on the edge of the bed. The rays of moonlight sliding in the room were bright enough for him to identify his visitor.

One look at the guy was all it took to rouse Zhong Yan, who straightened himself up instantly and subconsciously shrank into the bedsheets.

Gu XuanYan let out a low chuckle, asking, "Senior Brother, why hide?"

"You might just go crazy again." Zhong Yan scoffed before lifting his line of sight at Gu XuanYan.

Under the illumination of the moonlight, the black-robed Gu XuanYan's complexion appeared ashen. With his brows creased, Zhong Yan grabbed Gu XuanYan's hand to examine his cultivation base, feeling his inner vital energy. A while later, Zhong Yan released his hand, his expression sullen, "You've practised demonic cultivation."

Gu XuanYan's inner vital energy was raging within him. In addition to the Lesser Vehicle level of cultivation base he initially had, a newly added torrent of oppressive demonic aura could be found inside him.

Neither of the unyielding forces had the ability to devour the other, leading to their momentary entanglement.

I just wasn't with him for a day and he ended up practising demonic cultivation!

Fury welled up in Zhong Yan. Nonetheless, a look at Gu XuanYan's complexion lodged any scolding he was about to yell in his mouth.

Back then, Li XunJi stirred up a mere wisp of demonic aura Zhong Yan possessed due to the blood oath. Still, the disturbance of inner vital energy the stir up caused was so excruciating, Zhong Yan could even feel his blood thrashing.

Seeing that the amount of demonic aura in Gu XuanYan was thousands of times greater than his, the pain must be as unbearable as being sawed off.

"Senior Brother, let me rest here. I'm just too tired." When Gu XuanYan requested as such, weirdly enough, Zhong Yan didn't refuse him but instead, he inched to a side, making some space for him

Still seated on the bed when Gu XuanYan had laid down, Zhong Yan hesitated for a bit before warning, "Focus on sleeping. Don't you try getting fresh with me."

After a low chuckle, Gu XuanYan began groaning in pain, seemingly due to his inner vital energy being in a turmoil.

Go on and laugh, won't you...? Serves you right!

As glee bubbled up in Zhong Yan, he lay down as well. Sometime later, he shifted his head over to cast a look at the person next to him.

Gu XuanYan still had his brows furrowed and his hands clutched at his chest, his breathing even sounding a little unstable.

Everyone despises stupidly compassionate do-gooders. Chop chop; close your eyes and go to sleep.

Zhong Yan turned over to the wall, his eyes shut. Faint sounds of breathing enshrouded the entire room. A moment later, Zhong Yan flipped over in defeat abruptly, looking at Gu XuanYan with a frown, "Does it hurt?"
Seemingly not expecting Zhong Yan's sudden show of concern, Gu XuanYan froze for a moment. A trace of a smile revealed in his eyes as he whined softly, "Senior Brother, it hurts so much."

"......Don't you act like a spoiled child. " With a stern face, Zhong Yan lifted his hand and placed it onto Gu XuanYan's chest before injecting a shred of embryonic breathing[1]  inside meticulously

{1. From immortalmountain.wordpress.com/glossary/wuxia-xianxia-xuanhuan-terms: Embryonic Breathing (胎息 tāixī) – also known as Taixi or Fetal Breathing. A form of breathing without using one's nose and mouth. Instead, the practitioner might breathe through their pores or dantian (for example). This is generally considered to be a highly-advanced Breathing Exercise which grants mystical benefits and brings the practitioner closer to nature. Often compared to how babies breathe in the womb (through the umbilical cord).}

"Where does it hurt? Your elixir field[2]? Or your heart meridian? Will it be better if I pump in some of my vital energy?"
{2. From immortalmountain.wordpress.com/glossary/wuxia-xianxia-xuanhuan-terms: Dantian (丹田 dāntián) – literally translates as " Field" or "Elixir Field". Refers to the region in the body where a person's is concentrated. There are technically three dantians, but these novels simplify the concept and only use the lower dantian (located three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel).}

Not only was there a hint of a smile in Gu XuanYan's eyes, but also, a soft smile curled at his lips. Gu XuanYan's tone was tender, "It'll stop hurting if Senior Brother lets me have a hug."

I should've left him to die from the pain!

In an instant, Zhong Yan withdrew his hand and lay down, flipping over.

The Gu XuanYan behind him tugged at the edges of his clothes, smiling, "Senior Brother, I'm sorry." The lack of response from Zhong Yan prompted him to continue, "Senior Brother, it seriously hurts. But it felt much better when you used your cultivation base to soothe my inner vital energy just now."

Still, neither did Zhong Yan speak nor make any movements. Not daring to utter anything more, Gu XuanYan extracted his hand and lay back down, behaving himself.

An unknown amount of time later, he detected Zhong Yan carefully turning towards him again. After a short glance at him, Zhong Yan, seemingly assuming the person beside him was sound asleep, placed his hand gently on Gu XuanYan's chest.

A constant stream of warm energy began flowing gently into Gu XuanYan.

At that moment, Gu XuanYan almost pounced over to Zhong Yan; pinned him down; kissed him; had his hand exploring inside his lapel; and finally made him entirely his.

Nonetheless, he did not act it out; he was still in pain after all. Yet, and the image he visualised in his mind became clearer by the minute.

Once love blossomed, there was no turning back.

Since turning back was no longer an option, he would have to bring him along the rest of his lifetime. No matter whether the path ahead led to a sanctuary or hell, never in his entire life would he let him go.

Unlike Green Summit, in which lush foliage flourished in its mountains, the Northern Wilderness was blanketed with ice and snow, not even a blade of grass growing on it. A look outside the window revealed a stretch of everlasting icy plains.

The rising and setting of the sun was Zhong Yan's only way to gauge the number of days passed. In the blink of an eye, Zhong Yan had been residing in the Northern Wilderness for nearly a month. As always, Gu XuanYan was nowhere to be found once dawn broke. When he returned late at night, he would sleep beside Zhong Yan in bed, stealing occasional kisses under the cover of darkness.

As days passed, Zhong Yan's initial counter, an enraged kicking of Gu XuanYan out of bed, devolved into near immunisation of his antics. After all, except for occasional kisses and hugs, Gu XuanYan appeared to have no other ulterior motive.

As compared to that, what rattled him even more was the demonic aura encompassing Gu XuanYan, which grew denser every night. No longer did Gu XuanYan feel any pain from disturbances of his inner vital energy, as his demonic aura had engulfed every bit of his original cultivation base, blending it into itself.

Coupled with Gu XuanYan burning the candle at both ends to train vigorously, the level of his demonic cultivation base had shot through the roof. Zhong Yan could detect the respectful treatment he received from the demonic cultivators serving him in the courtyard had morphed into them being fearful of him.

The driving force of their fear was Gu XuanYan's ever-growing, terrifying strength. Although Zhong Yan plastered a detached expression on his face every single day, feigning nonchalance, his heart was brimming with anxiety.

Gu XuanYan must not stay in the Northern Wilderness any longer.

The only feasible way to get him to leave would probably be for Zhong Yan to go without him. After all, Gu XuanYan only entered the Northern Wilderness for him, so if he were gone, it would serve no point for him to continue staying behind. Besides, Gu XuanYan's feelings for him were ...*ahem* All in all, if he left, he would most likely follow suit in search for him

Although Gu XuanYan was already on the path of demonic cultivation, Zhong Yan's primary concern was still to separate him from the demonic cult, since that would smooth out the rest of the problem. Nonetheless, if he wished to carry out his plans of fleeing Northern Wilderness, the first step he would have to take was to get out of the courtyard.

Gu XuanYan only cast a barrier on the door during their first few days of arrival, removing it four to five days later. Still, he cast a new barrier on the doors of the courtyard, allowing Zhong Yan to merely stroll around the courtyard while forbidding him from leaving the premises.

Late at night, Zhong Yan sat cross-legged on the bed, waiting for Gu XuanYan's return. Upon entering the room, Gu XuanYan raised his brows in slight astonishment at him, "Senior Brother, why are you still awake?"

Zhong Yan's reply was straight to the point, "Remove the barrier surrounding the courtyard."

Gu XuanYan asked, "Why?"

Zhong Yan wore a scowl, acting impatient, "I'm tired of the view in the courtyard."

To his surprise, Gu XuanYan let out a chuckle before agreeing right away, "Sure."

This time, it was Zhong Yan who got shocked. He looked at Gu XuanYan, hesitating, "What if I..."

Gu XuanYan's tone was gentle, "Hmm?"

Zhong Yan swallowed the rest of his sentence and shook his head, "Nothing."

Gu XuanYan smiled lightly, "Go to bed then, Senior Brother."

Filled with doubt, Zhong Yan lay down.

Gu XuanYan's reply is just too easy going. Whenever he does so, there's bound to be something bad going on.

As Zhong Yan opened his eyes the next morning, he noticed Gu XuanYan was still sitting on the bed. Realising Zhong Yan was awake, Gu XuanYan gave him a tender greeting, "Good morning, Senior Brother."

Zhong Yan straightened up a little, "Don't you have anything going on today?"

"Senior Brother, I have removed the barrier. Apart from maids coming over to clean and serve your meals, no one else will be bothering you."

The excessive agreeability Gu XuanYan displayed ever since yesterday night kindled a spark of suspicion within Zhong Yan's heart. Zhong Yan flipped over, planning to take a look outside. However, as soon as he lifted his leg, he heard a light clinking of chains.

A look down his foot revealed a scarlet fetter bounding his left ankle. A thin string of similarly colored chains meandered down, connecting the fetter to a bed leg veiled in darkness. In a fraction of a second, Zhong Yan understood Gu XuanYan's intentions. Flames of fury blazed in Zhong Yan as he lifted his line of sight, hollering, "Gu XuanYan!"

On the contrary, Gu XuanYan reached out his hand and pressed onto Zhong Yan's nape, his voice soft, "Senior Brother, cool down. I have to head out for a bit, so I'm worried you'll go around stirring up trouble."

Zhong Yan suppressed his anger, "Where to?"

Instead of answering, Gu XuanYan responded with, "There are five more days before the effects of Senior Brother's blood oath break out. I'll be back by then."

Truth be told, Zhong Yan didn't even need to ask to know the reason for his leaving. Cang Luan must have given Gu XuanYan a task, which most likely was malicious. He took a deep breath to calm himself down, "Just unlock the chains."

Gu XuanYan caressed Zhong Yan's nape, his tone gentle yet conclusive, "No. If I do, Senior Brother will just run away without me."

A mild pain throbbed in Zhong Yan's head, "I won't."

"I don't believe it." Gu XuanYan's reply was soft, "Senior Brother is always lying to me. Senior Brother was planning on doing just that yesterday, no?"

As expected, things had gone wrong ever since yesterday night. Seeing that his plans were exposed even before it could be implemented, Zhong Yan was utterly at a loss for words, so he simply kept his mouth shut.

In contrast, Gu XuanYan continued relentlessly, "Senior Brother, I'll advise you not to flee. I'll only be chaining your feet this time. Next time, I'll just build a cage and lock you up in it."

Zhong Yan was rendered speechless instantly. Gu XuanYan's tone was gentle and composed, but Zhong Yan knew he seriously would live up to his words. Once again, Zhong Yan confirmed in his mind that Gu XuanYan had truly gone bonkers.

Not knowing whether he should react with tears or laughter, Zhong Yan ended up plopping onto the bed flippantly.

Satisfied, Gu XuanYan lowered his head, combing through Zhong Yan's hair before kissing the corner of his lips.

"Senior Brother, I'll be gone for at most four days. Just endure for a bit. Wait for me to get back."

Chapter 22: Squaring up Cang Luan

Despite being long enough for Zhong Yan to roam around the room freely, the chains were still too short for Zhong Yan to step out of the door. Zhong Yan had no idea what material they were made out of. They were fine, exquisite and didn't weigh all that much, yet even when Zhong Yan yanked it or slashed it with his sword, it just wouldn't budge.

Drained of energy a few failed attempts later, he plopped onto the bed and chatted with the system.

[Do you have any ways to break them?]

[Yeah, but what for?]

[So I can escape.] Zhong Yan's reply rendered the system speechless. Zhong Yan continued. [Just joking. I have to look for Gu XuanYan.] After laughing for a bit, he sighed, [Do you seriously think Cang Luan will spare his life?]

The system sounded calm. [But even if you found him, you can't help him much anyway. Besides, weren't you pissed at him just yesterday?]

[I still am. So I'm going to have a talk with him face to face.]

[Do you think I believe you?]

Before Zhong Yan had the chance to reply, a sudden series of coughs sounded outside of the room.

Clad in long, azurite robes, Cang Luan pushed the door open and stepped in, smiling after a look at Zhong Yan sitting on the edge of his bed. "Are you settling in well?"

Heh...showing me concern the moment Gu XuanYan is away when he didn't even bother coming over during the days and days I spent staying here. Not wanting to beat around the bush with him, Zhong Yan asked, "Why are you here?"

Cang Luan took a seat at the table, giving a reply that was as if he had read his mind, "To visit you. I should have come over earlier on, but Gu XuanYan doesn't seem too keen on me meeting you." He swept his glance over to the fetter binding Zhong Yan's feet, revealing a smile, "He sure treasures you."

Zhong Yan sneered, "Yeah, so get going. Gu XuanYan might get jealous and fall out with you."

An unconcerned smile ran along Cang Luan's lips as he poured himself a cup of tea, "It's fine. He's not around anyway."

With his expression turning ice-cold, Zhong Yan straightened himself up, "What exactly did you make him do?"

"Didn't he tell you?" Cang Luan's voice was gentle, "I've asked him to get me something."

Since Cang Luan yearned for immortality, the items he ordered Gu XuanYan to get must be related to that. No way would Zhong Yan believe Cang Luan would still get Gu XuanYan to kill every single Golden Core cultivator under the sun; it was just too slow. He had found a new method that was inevitably just as dangerous.

As the thought crept into Zhong Yan's mind, his tone became somewhat irritable, "Gu XuanYan has been practising Daoist cultivation for years. Aren't you worried he will see the error of his ways all of a sudden and leave you in the lurch?"

With a smile, Cang Luan tossed him a question, "Is there anything wrong with your body recently? I've already prepared blood from my heart for you, just waiting for Gu XuanYan to return.

Zhong Yan immediately understood the meaning behind the question; Cang Luan must have threatened Gu XuanYan with that.

Zhong Yan leaned back, sneering, "Will you even extend my life once Gu XuanYan hands over the stuff you wanted? I thought when you'd truly gain immortality from the stuff Gu XuanYan got for you, you'd just kill us both with one slash."

The smile hanging on Cang Luan's face vanished into thin air right away.

In a split second, an overwhelming pressure plunged straight down.
Zhong Yan didn't dare to make any rash moves with his vital energy due to the blood oath. Nonetheless, at the very moment, he chose to utilise his cultivation base to resist the pressure. He glared right at Cang Luan, gritting his teeth.

Cang Luan's centuries of age gave him a presumption that he had everyone's lives at his fingertips, so he dared to slaughter the innocent and massacre clans wilfully. Similarly, he had deemed Zhong Yan's and Gu XuanYan's lives were completely within his control.

Unfortunately, being bad-tempered, Zhong Yan simply despised things going swimmingly as Cang Luan wished. Only until Zhong Yan felt blood almost seeping out of his mouth did Cang Luan withdraw his stare abruptly, a smile back on his face.

The brewing storm looming over the room dissipated in an instant as well.

Cang Luan started the conversation yet again, as if it was merely chit chat, "You might be unaware of your reputation outside of Northern Wilderness since you have been staying here for quite some time. Every single cultivator in the world knows about Gu XuanYan taking a liking to a cultivator named Qin MingXi and even betrayed his sect just for him."

The news rendered Zhong Yan speechless.

"According to the few imbeciles who got their cultivation bases destroyed, just a brief conversation with you provoked Gu XuanYan, causing him to strike them down hard."

Zhong Yan remained silent. Bullshit! Get them to come over and have a confrontation with me!
Zhong Yan almost couldn't hold back vomiting the blood that threatened to spill out moments ago. Seeing how fast the rumors spread, it's no wonder only a handful of Great Wilderness cultivators manage to ascend. Instead of being abstinent, the lot of them were all immersed in gossiping, so how could they even ascend?!

After letting out two coughs, Cang Luan inverted the topic, "Only now do I realise although your cultivation base is mediocre and you have an annoying manner of speaking, surprisingly, you are slightly witty."

"Thank you." Zhong Yan leaned back, returning a smile. "But what a pity; death is always uncertain. Just you wait and see. Remember to close the door behind you when leaving."

Only when Cang Luan was truly gone did the system express its admiration for Zhong Yan from the bottom of its heart. [Damn! I didn't expect you to square up to him head-on.]

[Except for Gu XuanYan, who else am I afraid of?] Zhong Yan sneered. [Get this damn thing off of me tonight when no one is around. I have to get Gu XuanYan away from here.]

[As I see it, you have always been squaring up to Gu XuanYan. Anyway, now that Gu XuanYan has his mind set on practising demonic cultivation, it's still futile no matter where you bring him.]

You and your big mouth. Exasperation knocked Zhong Yan over. [I'll just lock him up with this very chain in a cave for a good eight to ten years and leave him to gain enlightenment on his own. Do you think only he knows how to lock others up? ]

After a brief silence, the fearless system gave a bold reply. [But your life will be ending in just two to three days, so how are you able to get him locked up for years?]

One day... one day I will definitely lodge a complaint on this trash of a system...

That said, Zhong Yan knew that he could no longer stop Gu XuanYan, let alone chaining him up. A moment of clear-minded pondering later, Zhong Yan stood up and opened the door.

After a while, a demon cultivator materialised out of nowhere. Zhong Yan asked, "Where is Cang Luan? I still have something to tell him."

Upon hearing the name of the demonic lord, the demonic cultivator bowed, "My lord is taking a rest and probably would only get out of his seclusion tomorrow. When the time comes, he will send a message over."

Zhong Yan nodded before retreating to the room, continuing with the system. [Apply a cheat for me then. I'm going to get Cang Luan killed.]

Due to how nonchalant Zhong Yan's choice of words was, the system thought it had misheard. Fear colored its tone. [For real? You'll only be left with thirty points if you do that. By the standards of our system identification, you are practically going to be a player living out your last days.]

[Are you dumb...? Do I even need to wait for points to get deducted if I killed Cang Luan? I'll bite the dust once he dies.] After detaching his sword off the wall, Zhong Yan placed it somewhere within his reach on the edge of the bed, scoffing. [Massacring Gu XuanYan's clan in the past and even using me to threaten him all day long right now? Who does he think he is?]

A short moment of silence later, the system asked. [You are doing this for Gu XuanYan?]

Zhong Yan adamantly denied it. [I'm just doing this for myself. I want to keep my sexuality straight before I die.]

[Yeah; yeah; yeah. I totally buy that.]

[......Where in the world can I submit a complaint?!]

Of course, the system was not that unfeeling. It promised to ask its boss if there was any way to make an exception, for example, offering Zhong Yan a points package that could remove his blood oath.

Zhong Yan remarked. [So it still won't be free, huh?]

[Bro, don't even think about it.] The system's tone was gentle. [No way will it be free. Never in your lifetime will it be free. Besides, I can only make a request; it might not even be approved. If this doesn't work, the only thing I can do is to pray for you.]

Sincerity was plastered on the momentarily wordless Zhong Yan's face. [Oh, thanks.]

Chapter 23: A New Demonic Lord

The moon-less night veiled the sky in ink-black darkness. The only audible sounds outside the window were the whooshing wind and flurries of snow. Although Zhong Yan was joking around with the system just moments ago, the thought of his imminent death tomorrow robbed any bit of sleepiness from him.

Unexpectedly, most of his uneasiness didn't come about from his looming death. Instead, it arose from the worry in him of what Gu XuanYan would do after knowing he died. After all, Gu XuanYan stepping back onto the path of evil was much more terrifying than dying...

As he tossed and turned in bed for a while, an idea popped up in his mind. [How about I leave him a letter?]

The system chimed in. [To leave your last wishes?]

[Just shut up.]

On the table was a candlestick with a dim flame flickering on it. The wind whizzed past outside, sweeping up the falling snow. After laying the paper down, Zhong Yan chewed on the end of his writing brush in hesitation, clueless as to what he should pen down.

A while of pondering later, he ended up just writing a few words.

'The course of life is determined by fate. There's no need for concern.' He ruminated a bit before adding. 'Don't you kill anyone in the future too.'

Just when he finished writing, the window flew open by a gust of wind. A flurry of snow poured into the room, blowing out the flame in an instant. Finding things were amiss, Zhong Yan turned over and drew his sword, but was restrained from behind.

"Senior Brother, it's me." Gu XuanYan pressed onto Zhong Yan's hand, his voice low, "I'm back."

He made an incantation gesture to lit up the candle again, returning luminance to the room.

One look at the man in front of him lifted the weight in Zhong Yan's heart. Gu XuanYan must have concealed his aura since his arrival had gone utterly unnoticed by Zhong Yan, "Are you trying to scare the wits out of me in the middle of the night?"

Gu XuanYan sounded as though his reply was a matter of course, "Seeing that Senior Brother still had the lights on, I came in." He lowered his head, picking up the letter on the table. "What's this?"

Shock coursed through Zhong Yan as he tried to snatch it away.

Nonetheless, Gu XuanYan had already read every word on the paper. With his expression darkened, he asked, "Senior Brother, what are you planning on doing?"

Not knowing what to reply, Zhong Yan opted to zip his mouth shut.

After a long while, Gu XuanYan let out a low chuckle, "There's no need for concern? Senior brother sure is easy going."

Zhong Yan mumbled, "Unless ascended, everyone will die someday. There's no difference in dying early or later."

Gu XuanYan sighed, "Senior Brother, I've always told myself to be patient so as to not frighten you, but you just keep riling me up."

Although his tone was as gentle as can be, Zhong Yan sensed its ominous undertone. He took a step back subconsciously, but Gu XuanYan yanked him over the very next second, flipping Zhong Yan's field of vision. In a flash, Zhong Yan was pressed onto the bed.
Zhong Yan attempted to struggle but was rendered immobile by the person on top of him. A mixture of shock and fury swirled within him as he hollered, "What are you do -"

Before he could finish his sentence, Gu XuanYan seemingly made an incantation gesture to cast a barrier outside the room and unleashed his aura.

In a split second, dense waves of demonic aura raged over, enveloping the entire room.

Zhong Yan swallowed down his previous holler as he tossed over an urgent question, "The demonic aura on you..." is so, so dense!

To Zhong Yan's surprise, he found the demonic aura within Gu XuanYan's body to be much stronger than that of Cang Luan's, faintly resembling an all-powerful force that could pulverise evil.

Gu XuanYan's voice was soft, "The centuries-old spiritual energy residing in the Buddhist hall's relics is indeed beneficial for cultivation." He let out a low laugh, "Senior Brother, let's take a blood oath."
With his head lowered, he sealed Zhong Yan's lips with his own.

Unlike Gu XuanYan's tone, the kiss was empty of warmth, ravaging Zhong Yan's lips mercilessly. The only sound Zhong Yan could produce was a tiny whimper, which was devoured by Gu XuanYan in an instant.

Sometime later, a bloody metallic scent seeped into Zhong Yan's mouth.

Unable to evade, Zhong Yan had no choice but to swallow the mouthful of blood down.

Seemingly satisfied, Gu XuanYan inched away before burying his head into Zhong Yan's neck, planting kisses onto Zhong Yan's earlobe and neck. Finally, he stood up. "Now that Senior Brother is bound in a blood oath with me, Senior Brother's course of life isn't determined by fate but by me now." He lowered his voice again, "Senior brother, don't ever leave me alone."
Gu XuanYan's surprisingly pitiful tone dissipated most of Zhong Yan's anger.

Zhong Yan lifted his line of sight to scrutinise the guy in front of him. Although Gu XuanYan still looked as striking as a perfectly chiselled sculpture, his eyes were peppered with streaks of blood. Since the Northern Wilderness was quite a distance away from the Buddhist hall, rushing back must have worn Gu XuanYan out.

Zhong Yan stared at Gu XuanYan in silence.

Having no idea what was on Zhong Yan's mind, Gu XuanYan called out, "Senior Brother?"

Only after a long while did Zhong Yan sigh, "Got it. I won't."

Gu XuanYan raised his eyes before kissing Zhong Yan again.

Instead of dodging away, Zhong Yan closed his eyes, letting out a sigh in his heart.

What in the world... Not only did I fail to swing him back to the right path, but also made myself swing the other way.

As their lips locked, Gu XuanYan's hand reached into Zhong Yan's robes, prompting Zhong Yan to press his hand down on him. With a chuckle, Gu XuanYan intertwined his fingers with Zhong Yan's.

His hand ventured inside Zhong Yan's clothes, inching along as he caressed his back. His fingers crept down, landing onto his waist.

Zhong Yan couldn't help but push Gu XuanYan away, panting lightly. "Hold on."

Still, Gu XuanYan didn't stop, his voice softening, "Won't Senior Brother let me touch a bit?"

Zhong Yan was rendered speechless.

Acting coy right now?! Fuck off!

Zhong Yan rolled his eyes as he tried shoving him off, but Gu XuanYan glued himself on him, refusing to get up. Quite a while later, Zhong Yan broke their stalemate by chastising, "I'll just go back on my word if you keep this up!"

Coinciding Zhong Yan's low holler was a knock on the door. Cang Luan's voice rang out behind the door, sounding awfully deep in the still of the night, "I heard Cultivator Qin wanted to see me?"

Only then did Gu XuanYan stand up, discontent glazing over him, "Senior Brother, why did you want to see him at such a late hour?"

Zhong Yan was muted at once. What's with that I-caught-you-in-the-act tone?

Due to the barrier cast at the room, Cang Luan couldn't hear anything inside the room, so he continued, "It may be impertinent of me to disturb Cultivator Qin at such a late hour, but I have sensed our blood oath being broken just now." After a pause, he added, "Please open up and let me have a look."

Nonetheless, the room remained deadly silent.

With his patience running out, Cang Luan, who merely knocked out of formality, struck his palm towards the door! At that instant, a long sword darted out of the door. Accompanied by its crisp, clear sword hum, it whizzed straight towards Cang Luan!

Caught off guard, Cang Luan took a few steps back before striking his palm at the sword, eyeing inside the room with his raised line of sight. Right at the door stood Gu XuanYan, who stared right at Cang Luan with his sword in hand.

A momentary second later, Cang Luan revealed a hint of a smile, "Northern Wilderness is thousands of miles away from the Buddhist hall. What a surprise it is for Cultivator Gu to return at such a fast pace."

"It's natural for the return trip to be short since I rode the wind." Upon registering Gu XuanYan's reply, both Zhong Yan and Cang Luan had their expressions morphed.

Cultivators rode swords while only the ascended celestials rode the wind. Of course, Gu XuanYan had not truly elevated to that of an ascended celestial.

However, maybe due to the added boost he gained from the eminent monks' relics, coupled with the fusion of his initial Daoist vitality energy and his demonic energy, his cultivation base skyrocketed, nearing the level of an ascended celestial.

How lucky can he get...?

Perhaps such thought had crossed Cang Luan's mind too, as his expression darkened by the second. "Never have I imagined Gu XuanYan to be treacherous."

"Such acts naturally can't be considered treacherous when dealing with you." Gu XuanYan's voice was as cool as a cucumber, "Do you think I'll still let Senior Brother drink your blood again when it already had been forced upon him once?"

With a leap, Gu XuanYan lunged his sword straight at Cang Luan!

Blazing in rage, Cang Luan hurled a palm strike at Gu XuanYan instead of dodging away. A violent collision of the two's auras exploded in the air, causing the floor to quake. Even the array of precious gems; jades; and engravings adorned on the porch plummeted down, shattering into smithereens.

Once again, Gu XuanYan launched his sword, its aura even more so imposing than his first strike. In the twinkling of an eye, he had closed the gap he had between Cang Luan. Despite evading away, Cang Luan still suffered an injury from the sword aura; blood spluttered out from his mouth instantly.

Gu XuanYan turned around to deliver yet another attack.

In a predicament, Cang Luan whizzed right into the room all of a sudden!

[System!] Prepared ahead of time, Zhong Yan yelled out in his heart before swinging his sword at his fetter! The moment the shackle clinked open, Zhong Yan darted away from Cang Luan.

Already gotten behind Cang Luan by then, Gu XuanYan rammed his sword right into Cang Luan's heart meridian. Due to the swiftness of the attack, the outcome of Cang Luan was crystal clear at that very moment.

As Cang Luan collapsed onto the floor at a snail's pace, his demonic aura dispersed all over. His jet-black hair was stripped away of any colours instantly while his facial features deteriorated to that of an elderly man. Given that Cang Luan relied solely on the freezing cold to extend his lifespan, no way could he defeat the present Gu XuanYan.

Void of any fear or grudge in his expression, he raised his head towards Gu XuanYan, his tone utterly aged, "It's just as well. When I get to the underworld, I'll personally apologise to your parents."

Perhaps due to the sudden mention of his parents, Gu XuanYan had a slight change in expression. Although no trace of it could be found the very next instant, he remained silent for a moment.

Zhong Yan behind him took an abrupt step ahead, holding onto Gu XuanYan's hand.

"There's no need." Zhong Yan scoffed. "His parents were well known for leading a life of generous chivalry. Even if they had their lives destroyed at your hands and couldn't ascend, they are still able to reincarnate and continue on with their merits. Do you even think you deserve to meet them?"

"I see." After letting out a series of violent coughs, Cang Luan sighed before lowering his head in silence. In a split second, his body and robes disappeared into the wind, leaving only his skeleton behind.

Cang Luan's demonic aura had always sustained the Northern Wilderness. Due to Cang Luan's demise, every single demonic cultivator detected a change in the aura. In an instant, an earth-shattering number of demonic cultivators gathered over, tightly jammed as they surrounded the courtyard.

Gu XuanYan swept his eyes over to them, his voice calm and collected, "I've killed Cang Luan. Come at me if you want to avenge him."

He did not even suppress a wisp of his demonic aura, allowing its outburst of pressure to blanket the entire courtyard. Gu XuanYan's black robe fluttered in the wind, dark gloom dimming his eyes.

The group of demonic cultivators exchanged glances with one another, having no courage to come forward. Finally, one of them took a look at Gu XuanYan, squeaking timidly, "My Lord."

Upon hearing that, all demonic cultivators bowed down in succession, addressing Gu XuanYan, "My Lord."

Zhong Yan let out a deep sigh. Unlike the four other schools of cultivation, the demonic cult had always been ruled by the strongest.

Now that Gu XuanYan's terrifying powers grew into a force to be reckoned with, the entire demonic cult revering of Gu XuanYan as their new Demonic Lord was well within Zhong Yan's expectations. Of course, as Zhong Yan accurately predicted, none of them stepped up to avenge for Cang Luan.

Despite being obliterated into ruins, after a series of twists and turns, the plotline somehow managed to reunite with the story. Although in front of Gu XuanYan was a crowd kowtowing to him, unexpectedly, his first reaction was to peer at Zhong Yan. Detecting gloom on Zhong Yan's face, Gu XuanYan coaxed gently, "Senior Brother, don't be mad. I didn't mean to do that."

Nowhere was there any fury left in Zhong Yan; He waved his hand in resignation, "Got it. Just get them to leave."

Once Gu XuanYan dismissed the crowd with a wave of his hand, he began following Zhong Yan's footsteps when he noticed him entering the room. As he caught up to him, he gave a tender apology, "Senior Brother, I'm sorry. Don't be mad."

"I'm not." Zhong Yan cast a glance at him, softening his tone, "But don't ever keep things from me in the future. After all, we are..." A brief pause later, Zhong Yan switched up his sentence, "Anyway, just let me know everything from now on."

With mirth dyed in his eyes, Gu XuanYan made an abrupt suggestion, "Senior Brother, let's have intercourse."

Due to the swift change of topic, Zhong Yan thought he had heard Gu XuanYan wrong, brimming with disbelief as he asked, "What?"

To his surprise, Gu XuanYan's voice was utterly serious. "Let's dual cultivate."

Chapter 24: Long River City



Gu XuanYan's brows furrowed a little, "Why not?"

Even someone with a remarkable fortitude like Zhong Yan blushed at the seriousness brimming in Gu XuanYan's tone. He stammered, "It's just- just not now."

Gu XuanYan pressed on, "I love Senior Brother, and the same goes for Senior Brother. So, why can't we?" Gu XuanYan's expression dimmed a little, his voice soft, "Senior Brother, do you like me?"

No longer could Zhong Yan endure the situation. "Yeah, yeah. I like you. Only when every mountain loses its ridges and the sky collapses will my bond with you cease. [1]Happy now?"

{1. A popular quote from My Fair Princess' Xia ZiWei to her lover. It was derived from a Han dynasty folk song, Shang Ye}

Gu XuanYan chuckled, "Yes."

Those demonic cultivators who haven't gone too far away should've come back and have a look... This idiot right here is the Demonic Lord you all revered.

Satisfied upon getting a 'like' out of Zhong Yan's mouth, Gu XuanYan didn't persist anymore as he sighed, "Alright. I'll wait till Senior Brother is ready."

Even so, Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan shared a bed at night.

Zhong Yan's threshold had utterly plummeted. As long as Gu XuanYan stopped mentioning dual cultivation out of the blue, he didn't mind him sleeping wherever he liked.

Once the dust had settled, the Northern Wilderness returned to its usual tranquillity. The whooshing quietened down, leaving only the light rustling of falling snow to ring outside the window.

Gu XuanYan was lying on the bed, taking a rest with his eyes closed. Beside him was Zhong Yan. Void of any sleepiness, he lay in bed while gazing at the delicate bed curtains fluttering above him. A sudden thought popped in his mind, prompting him to turn towards Gu XuanYan, "So, I'm bound in a blood oath with you now."

"Yeah."

Joy bubbled up within Zhong Yan at once. "Then break the blood oath for me."

Upon hearing that, Gu XuanYan opened his eyes and directed them at Zhong Yan. "No."

The stunned Zhong Yan sprung up, sitting on the bed, "Why not?"

Gu XuanYan let out a sulky chuckle, "Just not now."

Just a moment after being stumped for words, Zhong Yan realized the answer he gave to Gu XuanYan about the dual cultivation had been tossed back to him word for word.

He is seriously the very definition of petty.

Zhong Yan lay back on the bed in reluctance, asking, "Is it to stop me from escaping?"

"Senior Brother is just full of surprises." Gu XuanYan's tone was unhurried, "Not only can Senior Brother kill a white ape demon all alone, but also break open the iron chains with just a slash moments ago. In that case, it must be a piece of cake for Senior Brother to abandon me one day."
Somehow, Zhong Yan detected Gu XuanYan was going to settle every score right then from him raking up issues as old as the white ape incident. Just as he was beating his brain for a logical reason, Gu XuanYan stopped the topic from continuing. Instead, he shifted his focus, "Since there's finally a bit of connection between Senior Brother and me through the blood oath, escaping won't be all that easy now."

Zhong Yan went silent, unable to answer with anything harsh to Gu XuanYan, who was filled with insecurity. After a long while, he relented, "All right, keep the blood oath if you like."

All of a sudden, Gu XuanYan turned over and wrapped his arms around Zhong Yan's waist, burying his head by the neck of the person beside him. As the warmth he exhaled dispersed over Zhong Yan's neck, he whispered, "Senior Brother, am I going too far?"
You're not only going too far but also monomaniacal, so much so that you should be medicated.

Despite dissing in his heart, in the end, Zhong Yan merely placed his arm around Gu XuanYan's back, his voice low, "No, it's just because you like me."

Love begets worry; love begets fear.

Gu XuanYan tightened his grip around Zhong Yan. A while later, he asked, "Senior Brother, how long do you need to get ready?"

"Piss off...!"

Gu XuanYan wasn't in the room the next morning. Just roused from sleep, Zhong Yan was stretching himself when he heard a robotic sound ringing out in his head.

[Restarting System 111. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Successful restart. I'm glad to be of service.]

The briefly speechless Zhong Yan asked. [Did you run out of power last night?]
[No.] The system muttered. [I turned myself off as soon as I heard you guys mentioning dual cultivation. We do have professional ethics.]

[Thanks, but no thanks.] A momentary silence fell on Zhong Yan before he continued. [Gu XuanYan has become the demonic lord yet again. I feel that no matter how haywire the plot is, essential plot points are still fixed. Are you all sure you can get him to ascend?]

[Not exactly. In the original story, he was already killing in cold blood by the time he was throned the demonic lord, his mind utterly set on destroying the world. But now, the only thing on his mind is being your significant other. That's kind of a progress.]

Unable to continue the conversation, Zhong Yan got up in silence.

Nonetheless, neither did the installation of Gu XuanYan as the demonic lord nor the fact that Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan got in a relationship abruptly seem to bring much change to them. Except for disappearing away in the morning occasionally, Gu XuanYan, appearing to be rather free, spent every single moment of his time with Zhong Yan.
The only advantage Zhong Yan gained out of it was him no longer being kept locked up and his cultivation base being released from suppression.

At last, Zhong Yan could find time to cultivate.

Without being weighed down by the loads of issues he previously had, to his surprise, he managed to elevate to the late stage of Leaving Aperture with the free time he gained. Gu XuanYan was nowhere to be seen today. Seated in the study room, Zhong Yan browsed through a folktale book while lamenting to the system.

[Most web novel protagonists transmigrate with OP powers, collecting chicks into their harem along the journey. And here I am, counting the days to my death the moment I transmigrate. Even after fighting monsters and spending so much time travelling through the plot lines, I'm still at a newbie level. But now, things finally turn for the better!]

The system chimed in. [It may be a little difficult for you to gather a harem.]

[I'm just speaking off the top of my head...]

Gu XuanYan pushed the door open and walked in. Noticing Zhong Yan seated at the table in a daze, he revealed a hint of a smile, "Senior Brother, a penny for your thoughts?"

I'm thinking about how possible it'll be for me to have a harem right under your nose...

Zhong Yan let out a cough, changing the topic. "What's up?"

Gu XuanYan didn't press on, his tone gentle, "Senior Brother, let me take you to the Long River City."

Zhong Yan was stunned. "Right now?"

"I've promised to take Senior Brother there but ended up not upholding it. Since New Year's Eve is coming soon, I wish to let Senior Brother have a look there." After a pause, Gu XuanYan continued, "And also to Mount Straying Mist."

Not far off from the Long River City, Mount Straying Mist was the spot where the clan of Gu XuanYan's parents used to cultivate. All of a sudden, Zhong Yan's heart softened, his mind emptied of any unseemly thoughts. He sat back in his chair, holding onto the hand of the person standing beside him, "Sure."

Still standing beside Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan bent over and kissed Zhong Yan's lips.

Six to eight hours of sword riding westwards from the Northern Wilderness would lead the two to Long River City. Although not an Imperial City, it held the top position among the four major cities of the Great Wilderness. The streets in the city stretched wide, flooded with crowds of city dwellers. Calls of peddlers and haulers intertwined with the boisterous laughter erupting out from teahouses and restaurants; piping hot steam clouded over of the rows of food stands lining the streets.

By the windows of the high-rise buildings sat groups of ladies, kingfisher feathers dotted on their flowery garments. With their faces semi-covered by their moon-shaped fans, they gazed down at the streets in leisure. Every inch of the flourishing city bustled with singing and drinking which coursed through the long night.

Since cultivators frequented Long River City, Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan had to hide their identities to avoid trouble. The long Ivory-coloured robes they donned on coupled with the bamboo hats veiling their faces succeeded in drawing attention away.

By the time the two headed out after a brief rest in an inn, the streets were already lit with lanterns instead of the sun, which had begun to set.

In contrast to Even Sun Town's dimly lit lanterns that extended out relaxingly, Long River City's stretch of lanterns were as brightly lit as the next. Enveloped ceaselessly by the rays, the city appeared as though it was still daylight. A cacophony of ladies' laughter and children's frolicking noises sounded out from the night market, forming yet another bustling view.

Zhong Yan strolled into the stream of people, intrigued by the sight, while Gu XuanYan inched forward, making way for him.

About a quarter of an hour later, they found a pastry shop at the corner of the street. Gu XuanYan turned to Zhong Yan, asking, "Senior Brother, are you hungry?"

Having noticed the store as well, Zhong Yan nodded honestly. Judging from the horde of customers squeezing by the storefront, the pastry store was relatively popular.

Seemingly unwilling to let Zhong Yan get too near the crowd, Gu XuanYan swept a gaze around the surroundings, "Senior Brother, wait for me there. I'll be right back." He added as per usual, "Don't wander around."

Only after receiving a nod from Zhong Yan did he walk over to the store. As promised, the relaxed Zhong Yan glued his feet to the ground, not moving at all.

A sudden tap on his shoulder caught him off guard.

Once he turned around, a lady dressed in green met his eyes, surprise written all over her face.

Zhong Yan was stunned. "Tong Ling?"

"Qin..." As soon as his surname escaped from her lips, Tong Ling hushed her voice, "It really is you. What brings you here?"

Detecting the slight nervousness in her, Zhong Yan couldn't help but lower his volume too, "Just to have fun."

Tong Ling's eyes widened. "Those bunch of cultivators from Dark Mountain are all set on skinning you and Gu XuanYan alive and yet you're still in the mood to have fun?"

Instead of fear, a mixture of amusement and despair welled up within Zhong Yan, "Even you got the news of it?"

"It has been spread throughout the entire cultivation circle; even commoners know about it. Gu XuanYan is said to have betrayed his sect for you and practised demonic cultivation till he turned into the demonic lord just because of your blood oath. Rumors have it that he is so frightening, he will destroy the cultivation base of anyone who tries to talk to you." Tong Ling shrank her neck right after, taking a few hurried steps back before asking in caution, "Is he here with you today?"

Her question rendered Zhong Yan speechless.

Zhong Yan was hit with an epiphany.

With the peppering of embellishments, the rumour ended up warping Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan into the equivalent of Da Ji and King Zhou of Shang[2]  in the cultivation circle. Never did he expect he would turn out to be a femme fatale.

{From Wiki: DaJi was the favorite consort of King Zhou of Shang. King Zhou was extremely infatuated with Daji and started to neglect state affairs in order to keep her company. He used any means necessary to ingratiate himself with her and to please her.}

A sigh escaped his lips before he smiled, "Yeah, he's with me. But don't worry. He won't destroy your cultivation base. We only had a conflict with the few Dark mountain's disciples because they were trying to kill me."

The fear on Tong Ling's face was replaced with worry. "They are too much! Don't worry. I will blow the whistle on them during the conference."

Zhong Yan froze upon noticing a keyword, "Conference?"

Finding herself in a somewhat sticky situation, Tong Ling bit her lips. In the end, she took a step forward, drawing closer to Zhong Yan. "Amoghavajra Buddhist hall's relics have been stolen. Since there are traces of demonic aura within its pagoda, every cultivator felt it was Gu XuanYan's doing. Right now, Dark Mountain has informed all famous sects, except for the demonic cult, that they will be holding a great conference after the New Year's Eve. Then, all of them will head to Northern Wilderness to demand an explanation."

Indeed, Gu XuanYan took the relics. Zhong Yan's heart sank at the thought. Still, the worry plastered on Tong Ling's face prompted him to fake a relaxed smile, "Thanks for the heads up."

Tong Ling waved her hand as she continued rambling on, "No need to thank me. In fact, don't you worry. Although there are a few old, unprogressive geezers, some are still on your side. After all, Gu XuanYan was previously well known for being a gentlemanly Green Summit member; many felt he must have had a good reason for doing that. Besides, the feelings you two have for each other are so deep; all of us are hoping you two will live happily ever after." She cast a look at Zhong Yan, her eyes brimming with worry and sincerity. "You two will be together forever, right?"

Her query whisked away the heaviness within Zhong Yan, evoking a chuckle from him. "Yes, we will."

A smile spread on Tong Ling's face as she extended her hand to give Zhong Yan a pat on the shoulders, "Don't worry. I will definitely help you out."

Just when she ended her sentence, a voice sounded out behind them, "Senior Brother."

As the two turned around, they noticed Gu XuanYan had his eyes directed at them, his hands carrying pastries.

Overwhelmed with fear, Tong Ling only started greeting after withdrawing her hand instantly and scampering two Chinese feet away.[3]  "Gu...Um... Gu..."

{3. two-third of  a metre}

Not knowing whether to address him as a fellow cultivator or Demonic Lord, Tong Ling stumbled over her words.

Zhong Yan explained to Gu XuanYan, trying to get her out of a fix, "I chanced upon Tong Ling just now, so I had a chat with her."

Gu XuanYan walked over to Zhong Yan before nodding at Tong Ling. "Is Miss Tong here to shop at the night market too?"

Tong Ling seized the opportunity to leave hurriedly, nodding, "Yes, yes; I haven't finished shopping yet. I should be on my way."

She swished around, burrowing herself into the crowd.

Zhong Yan was a little speechless."I think you've scared her. "

"Is that so? I'll apologize to her next time then." With a smile, Gu XuanYan held Zhong Yan's hand. "Senior Brother, let's head back."

After the two returned to the inn and washed up for bed, Gu XuanYan shut the door, appearing to be nonchalant as he dropped an offhanded question, "What did she discuss with Senior Brother just now?"

Already on the bed, Zhong Yan hesitated for a moment before replying, "She said that the four other schools of cultivation might come over to you and stir up trouble when New Year's Eve ends."

Gu XuanYan nodded, seemingly unsurprised, "Anything else?"

Zhong Yan heaved a sigh of relief at his indifference, his tone easing up, "She asked if we would be together forever."

As compared to the previous topic, Gu XuanYan appeared to be much more interested in the subject at hand. A hint of a smile bloomed on his face. "What's Senior Brother's reply?"

Zhong Yan turned his head to him.

Under the dim candlelight, the gaze Gu XuanYan cast on him was as tender as can be.

Zhong Yan couldn't help but smile. "I said we will."

At the very next second, Gu XuanYan blew the candlelight off. Before Zhong Yan could adapt to the sudden plunge into darkness, Gu XuanYan pressed him onto the bed, both of them under the quilt. While kissing the Adam's apple of the person below him, Gu XuanYan had his hand venturing beneath the person's lapel.

Zhong Yan stammered, "Gu...Gu XuanYan!"

By the time Gu XuanYan answered with a low 'Mn', he had already undone Zhong Yan's underclothes. Zhong Yan felt a slight chill running across his body, but at the next second, Gu XuanYan's warm lips landed on his collarbone, inching down.

Upon reaching Zhong Yan's chest, they began rubbing gently.

Clueless where he should place his hands due to the panic whirling in his head, Zhong Yan decided to grab Gu XuanYan's shoulders, spluttering in haste, "You-you-you said you'll wait for me to get ready."

Gu XuanYan's voice was hoarse, "I know. I won't go all the way." As his hand wandered down, he let out a chuckle, "You're hard."

Zhong Yan was stumped for words. Only the dead won't get hard under this situation!

He raised his leg and sent a light kick Gu XuanYan's way, a mix of embarrassment and anger coursing through him. However, Gu XuanYan seized the opportunity to grab his ankle.

He straightened himself up for a moment to untie the sash around Zhong Yan's waist before lowering his head to kiss Zhong Yan. Befuddled by his chaotic predicament, Zhong Yan already had his bare skin coming into intimate contact with Gu XuanYan's by the time he returned to his senses.

Similar to Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan was stripped of his underclothes. Unable to find anywhere to land on, Zhong Yan's hands ended up being guided to Gu XuanYan's waist. A passionately hot member pressed against Zhong Yan's thigh, eliciting a light tremble out of him.

Gu XuanYan gave Zhong Yan a gentle kiss, whispering, "No need to be afraid."

Following which, he pulled Zhong Yan's hand and flipped him over, his shaft pressing against Zhong Yan's legs. With a pat on Zhong Yan's bottom, he urged huskily, "Senior Brother, tighten your legs."

Due to Zhong Yan's mind drawing a blank, he clamped his legs shut subconsciously.

Gu XuanYan pressed down on Zhong Yan's legs with his left hand and began moving in and out slowly. His right hand crept forward and held the rod between Zhong Yan's legs, jerking him off.

Gu XuanYan's slow speed grew faster and faster.

After a series of thrusts, Zhong Yan was drenched in sweat.

The euphoria he gained from his front forced him to let out a bit of a moan but instantly, he bit down on his lips to prevent any sound from escaping. While Gu XuanYan's right hand continued providing Zhong Yan ecstasy, his left hand slid over to touch Zhong Yan lips, which were mildly bitten red.

"Senior Brother, open up. I want to hear you."

Quaking lightly all over, Zhong Yan had no choice but to open his mouth and whimper, "Slow down..."

Gu XuanYan chuckled, "Slow down? You mean the front or back?"

Right after, he sped up without waiting for Zhong Yan to answer.

Any word Zhong Yan tried to draw out was interrupted by his moaning. He let out a muffled groan a while later, trembling as he leaked on Gu XuanYan's hand before gasping heavily for breath.

Gu XuanYan increased his pace, his last two thrusts a little stronger. With his head lowered, he bit down on Zhong Yan's nape and climaxed between Zhong Yan's legs.

The two's breathing slowly regained its usual rhythm.

After gesturing an incantation to clean up the mess, Gu XuanYan continued resting on Zhong Yan, refusing to get up.

Under the ray of moonlight seeping through the window, he planted light kisses on Zhong Yan's smooth back. After failing to push Gu XuanYan away, Zhong Yan touched his nape and snapped, "What are you? A dog?"

Instead of getting pissed, Gu XuanYan laughed out in joy before turning his head to kiss the spot he bit, "Senior Brother, I'm sorry."

The contentedness of being satiated laced in his lazy voice. Before Zhong Yan could say anything, he yanked him into his arms and wriggled the quilt away, his voice soft, "Go to sleep,"

Chapter 25: Idle Vacation

The two spent their new year in Long River City

Zhong Yan had no idea when Gu XuanYan rented a house, which despite its modest size, was secluded.

Apart from the down to earth, cheerful local cook Gu XuanYan hired, their vicinity was empty of anyone else.

Truth be told, with how high Gu XuanYan's cultivation base was, he could live without food, yet he took his meals with Zhong Yan every day.

After breakfast, they would have tea and practice with their sword.

During noon, they would either spend their spare time together reading bizarre storybooks from the city or basking idly on the chairs in the courtyard.

The warm rays of sunlight of winter days frequently drove Zhong Yan towards sleep, which lasted till the sun dipped below the western hills.

After rousing Zhong Yan from his slumber and tidying his dishevelled hair, GuXuanYan would take Zhong Yan's hand while guiding him to dinner.

Never had Gu XuanYan mentioned the conference Tong Ling warned about.

Zhong Yan couldn't help himself from asking Gu XuanYan about it on two occasions. However, since he got 'Don't worry' as a reply, he stopped mentioning it.

An uncontrollable lament to the system escaped from Zhong Yan. [My life is going to degenerate if this keeps up.]

Early in the morning of New Year's Eve, Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan embarked to Mount Straying Mist, where fog blanketed its entirety all year round.

Only when they landed on the mountain peak after sword riding did they spot the silhouette of pavilions and terraces peeking out of the mist. They were Gu XuanYan's former residence.

The absence of caretakers, coupled with them being left to the elements, reduced the housing to shambles. The blood splattered all over on that fateful night had already vanished away, leaving no traces behind.

In front of the gates stood Gu XuanYan, who despite directing his eyes to the mansion, didn't step in.

Dressed in white with a similarly colored strip of cloth tying up his hair, he appeared as ethereal as a celestial being amid the veil of fog.

A while of gazing later, Zhong Yan ended up tugging on Gu XuanYan's sleeves

Gu XuanYan revealed a light smile once he came back to reality, "It's been nearly five years since I returned here; I didn't expect a bit of nostalgia to rise within me."

Zhong Yan asked, " You came back five years ago?"

Gu XuanYan nodded, indifference lining his voice. "I'd gotten a chance to descend Green Summit then, so I returned to tidy up the remains of my parents and the clan."

The heartache engulfing Zhong Yan blocked any words from exiting his mouth momentarily.

Gu XuanYan held Zhong Yan's hand, "Never mind, let's not go in. I'll take Senior brother to meet my parents instead."

Gu XuanYan had buried his clan members in the back of Mount Straying Mist.

Void of any tombstones or inscriptions, the graves laid there in loneliness.

After clearing the weeds and setting a bottle of wine in front of the graves, Gu XuanYan gave three proper kowtows.

Perhaps such was the scene when Gu XuanYan came back to tidy the remains in the past.

Zhong Yan landed his eyes on the row of tombs, his throat tightening slightly.
A few words were right on the tip of his tongue, but in the end, none of them went through his lips.

He simply lifted the hem of his robes and kneeled before kowtowing respectfully.

He assured in his heart.

May all of you rest in peace without any worry. From now on, Gu XuanYan will no longer be alone.

As such a thought crossed his mind, he began to feel the conference and others' plan on eliminating demonic cultivators weren't all that significant.

What's there to be afraid of? As long as we are together, we can even try charging into a tiger's den.
Zhong Yan had no idea why but such a thought brought about a wave of peacefulness within him.

He turned his head towards the person kneeling beside him.

Gu XuanYan seemingly felt his gaze as he directed his eyes at Zhong Yan, his voice low, "My parents must've loved Senior brother."

Zhong Yan asked, "why?"

A hint of a smile spread on Gu XuanYan's face, "Because I do."

Zhong Yan stopped asking further and instead, held Gu Xuan Yan's hand.

The two had their New Year's Eve dinner in the living room.

Now that Zhong Yan's cultivation base had elevated to a higher stage, he no longer felt cold as easily as before.

Therefore, the living room door was left open, granting them a panoramic night view of the courtyard.

Once done with preparing their meals, the cook headed back home to celebrate the new year, but not before being gifted a red packet by Gu XuanYan as a token of good omen.

On the night of New Year's Eve, Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan were the only ones left in the courtyard.

A jar of 'Retaining Spring', Long River City specialty clear wine, supplemented their sumptuous dinner.

"Brewed in the spring of last year and only unsealed on New Year's Eve, the wine signifies the retaining of last year's spring and the hope of favourable weather in the coming spring."

The lack of response from Zhong Yan prompted Gu XuanYan to lift his line of sight towards him, just to see him gulping down the cup of wine, a light red painted on his cheeks.

Only after noticing Gu XuanYan's gaze did Zhong Yan reply, "I see."

Gu XuanYan ended up failing to stop him in time.

As he remembered how lightweight the person in front of him was, a mixture of amusement and discontent whirled within him.

Just as Gu XuanYan was about to snatch away the other's wine cup and help him over to the house and rest, Zhong Yan shifted his eyes towards the door, his tone brisk, "It's snowing."

Sure enough, when Gu XuanYan turned over for a look, specks of white were indeed drifting down from the sky.

Due to the absence of wind, snowflakes of the light snowfall fluttered gently down the courtyard, landing without even a wisp of noise.

In contrast, the soft crackling of sparks from the lanterns in the living room sounded much more noticeable.

Gu XuanYan withdrew his line of sight.

"In Long River City, it snows every New Year's Eve. When my parents were still around, they were always busy eliminating evil and upholding justice. Only on New Year's Eve did they gain some spare time, which they would spend gazing at the snow around the stove with me."

He let out a chuckle, "They spent their entire lives eliminating evil and yet their son ended up becoming the demonic lord. If they got hold of this in the underworld, they would probably disown me."

Zhong Yan retorted in a drunken stupor instantly, "How can that be? They'll definitely be proud of you if they meet you now."

Feeling guilt creeping up on him during his retort, he added in haste, "Besides, you rule over the Northern Wilderness now, wielding supreme authority. Your cultivation base is so high; it's on an equal level with an ascended. You can't even find many opponents who can rival you... "

With his hand propping his forehead, Zhong Yan prattled on about the advantages of being a Demonic Lord, utterly betraying his mission.

However, Gu XuanYan cut him off before he could finish with a chuckle.

"Isn't Senior Brother going to mention the most important benefit even after listing so many of them?"

Zhong Yan tossed a look at Gu XuanYan and blinked sluggishly, mild dizziness already plaguing his head.

"Most important?"

As Gu XuanYan took in the sight of Zhong Yan, mirth dyed his eyes. His tone was brimming with gentleness.

"Every and any benefit pales in comparison to Senior Brother."

Typically, Zhong Yan probably would have gone as red as a beetroot, but due to his drunken state, a laugh slipped out from him as well.

Under the flickering flame, Zhong Yan's eyes were as shining as stars.

"Am I good?"

"The best," replied Gu XuanYan.

Satisfied, Zhong Yan plopped his head onto the table and dozed off.

Amidst the chaos running through his mind, a muddled thought buzzed within him right before he conked out

This wine's kickback is much stronger than green plum wine's. What's its name again? Oh right, Retaining Spring.

Retaining the entire spring is far too long, just keeping this current moment is enough.

*

Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan resided in Long River City until the beginning of spring.

All things sprouted back to life in that period.

Miles and miles away from the two rose the mountains of Green Summit, where age-old trees expanded out their newly grown branches and leaves.

Colours of fresh green blanketed every single mountain, filling all of them with vitality.

On the contrary, tension loomed over the discussion hall of Green Summit.

The spacious hall was empty most days, yet it was crammed with people at present.

Li Yue, the Sect Leader of Dark Mountain, took a step forward, "Sect Leader Li, just tell us straight up. Are you going to discipline Gu XuanYan and Qin MingXi, those two little rascals?"

Everyone in the hall began creasing their brows at the impoliteness of the tone.

Numerous members of highly reputable sects were present in the hall, such as Amoghavajra Buddhist hall's Sage Wu of the Buddhism cultivation; the three tribes of spiritual arts cultivation- Green bird, Black Tortoise, and White Tiger; and last but not least, the sect leaders of the three famous Daoist sects-Green Summit, Mount Jade Dwelling, and Herbal Cloud.

Strictly speaking, an insignificant sect like Dark Mountain shouldn't even have much chances to speak up.

Nonetheless, since Gu XuanYan injured their members, the sect's victimhood gave rise to Li Yue's self-confidence.

Li XunJi threw a glance at him, "Qin Mingxi and Gu XuanYan have already been expelled from the sect. Their status and actions, be it positive or negative have nothing to do with us."

"Sect Leader Li, that's not quite right." Li Yue sneered, "Right now, everyone knows that you Green Summit has raised a Demonic Lord of Northern Wilderness. Not only will he destroy one's cultivation base after a mere chat, but also, he had stolen the Buddhist sect's relics. Even if he had gotten out of the sect, Green Summit still must share part of the blame too."

Standing behind the Green Bird tribe leader, Tong Ling poked her head out and argued, "Nonsense! You guys were the ones instigating it by trying to kill Qin MingXi. And yet you still attempt to misrepresent the facts after your loss!"

The humiliating disgrace invoked a bellow from Li Yue, "Where does this disrespectful girl come from? How dare you interrupt us elders!"

The chilly glare from the Green Bird tribe leader shoved the remainder of his hollering back into him.

No longer having the courage to direct his eyes on Tong Ling, Li Yue shifted his focus to Sage Wu.

"Sage, a minor sect like us Dark Mountain dare not speak out after being wronged. But it's a must to demand an explanation for the theft of the eminent monks' relics."

Sage Liao Wu recited a Buddhist chant before answering in a soft voice, "Patron Li is taking it too seriously. Any and everything in the world all comes down to courtesy. If courtesy is present, even servants and beggars have the right to air their grievances."

After which, he stood up to give a bow.

"Unfortunately, the relics of our temple were lost. Although demonic aura can be found in the pagoda, the stealing might not be Patron Gu's doing. But as the Demonic Lord, Patron Gu must have had some knowledge about it. So, I would like to ask all of you to head over to Northern Wilderness to seek an explanation."

Teeming with respect, the monk's request was neither submissive nor arrogant, plunging the entire hall back into silence.

Even Tong Ling's refusal of attending was shushed back down her throat by a stare from her tribe leader.

A deep voice rang out amid the silence.

"Let's go then."

Everyone looked over to the door, where the sound originated, just to find Ji ChangYun leaning in front of the door with his sword by him.

As he had elevated to the late stage of Lesser Vehicle, anyone would find it hard to miss his presence even if he was standing far back by the door.

He cast a glance at newly grown greenery outside the door, his tone cool as a cucumber.

"Let's go then; to Northern Wilderness."

Chapter 26: The Day before the Battle

Rain descended upon the departure of spring.

As thin as silk threads, the expansive rain cascaded down unceasingly at Long River City.

Despite the moderate rainfall, it posed quite a bit of disturbance.

Gu XuanYan had headed to the study room early in the morning, while Zhong Yan, finding it boring to spend his time in a daze alone, decided to practice with his sword in the courtyard.

His cultivation progress had advanced exponentially, so much so that there was a notion of him about to elevate to the next level.

After practising a series of sword techniques, Zhong Yan lifted his line of sight, just to notice Gu XuanYan standing in front of the corridor since god knew when.

Upon detecting Zhong Yan's eyes on him, the latter smiled, "Senior Brother has made great progress."

With his hands shielding his head from the rain, Zhong Yan made a beeline to the corridor.

Only when he reached in front of Gu XuanYan did he reply with a hint of smugness, "Of course." He tossed a question right after, "What's wrong?"

Gu XuanYan wouldn't have gone to the study room early in the morning if nothing was going on. Moreover, Zhong Yan had heard the screeches of the Northern Wilderness's hawks last night.

The smile on Gu XuanYan's face vanished, "Senior Brother, we are going back."

A brief stun was all it took for Zhong Yan to grasp the situation.

"Have they come over?"

Gu XuanYan asked, "Senior Brother, are you afraid?"

Zhong Yan flashed a glance at him, his tone provocative, "Will you not let me go if I said I am?"

Gu XuanYan chuckled, "No way; Senior Brother must be with me."

"That settles it." Zhong Yan's tone returned to its usual inflection, "Let's go then. So what if the four schools of cultivation join forces? Afraid or not, we still have to try breaking it through."

His reply was indifferent, seemingly as if he found nothing wrong with it.

The questions the system cast onto Zhong Yan during his walk back to his room brimmed with worry. [Why are you sounding more and more like Gu XuanYan?]

[Do I?] After a detailed reflection, Zhong Yan had to admit. [Seems a little like it.]

[Keep your mission in mind, ok? Don't end up getting yourself swinging to the wrong path instead of leading Gu XuanYan back to the right path.
Zhong Yan went speechless momentarily. [Haven't I already been led to swing the other way?

[...It's not funny!]

Zhong Yan followed up his teasing with placation. [Ok, ok. I know when to draw the line.]

Worry overwhelmed the system as it went silent.

Due to the slight desire of sightseeing within Zhong Yan and Gu XuanYan when the two travelled to Long River City from the Northern Wilderness, their hearts were free from any worries then.

Now that both of them were back in the Northern Wilderness, Zhong Yan initially assumed he would at least feel a little heavy in the heart upon facing such a major predicament. However, once the moment of truth arrived right in front of him, not a single wave of disturbance rippled in his heart. Instead, only a slight lament that 'it had finally arrived' emerged within him.

Zhong Yan turned his head over the person beside him. Gu XuanYan looked as calmly indifferent as always, seemingly finding the matter to be not so big of a deal.
Aloft the icy plains were a group of cultivators riding their swords as they advanced into the depth of the northern wilderness.

The scene was all too familiar. However, unlike the previous instance, where Gu XuanYan was within the group and still revered by numerous disciples, right now, he had become the target of the very same group of people, some of them even hoping to kill him off.

As such a thought crossed Ji ChangYun's mind, his brows furrowed a little.

Beside him was Liang Zheng, who glanced over at him before asking carefully, "Junior Brother, what's the matter?"

"I don't quite understand." Ji Changyun replied. "Gu XuanYan is extremely gifted. If he concentrated on cultivation training, he might have become the fastest among all Daoist cultivators to elevate to the highest level. I have even arranged right here with him for a match. I didn't expect he would start practising demonic cultivation. "
Seriousness blanketed his face. "Daoist cultivation had originated precisely to uphold justice and eliminate evil. As a Daoist cultivator, he should have known this all the more so, but why did he end up stepping onto the wrong path?"

Liang Zheng was startled by Ji ChangYun's remarks, "Never did I expect Junior Brother would utter such a long paragraph today..."

The glance Ji ChangYun cast at him made him shrink his neck, "Perhaps he did it all for Brother Qin MingXi."

He added in haste once he noticed the clueless expression on Ji ChangYun, "We've met him the last time on the icy plains, you know... Gu XuanYan's Dao partner..."

It was all too obvious that Ji ChangYun remembered their previous encounter too. A brief pause later, he asked, "What does that have to do with him?"

In no way did Liang Zheng expect Ji ChangYun to have no idea about the matter everyone in the cultivation circle knew of. However, on second thought, Ji ChangYun had always had his heart occupied with cultivation and spent every single practising with his sword in the mountains. He was never in the know about the events happening outside his area, so it was natural for him to be clueless of such rumors.

"According to Green Summit's disciples, Cang Luan captured Brother Qin during our previous trip to the icy plains and made a blood oath with him. As Junior Brother knows, except on the own volition of the original oath contractor, blood oaths can only be broken by a demon cultivator with higher cultivation than the original contractor. Maybe that's why Brother Gu started practising demonic cultivation. "

Of course, Ji ChangYun knew what blood oaths were, prompting his brows to crease. Only after a long while of silence did he start, "Although it is justifiable, what a penny wise, pound foolish idea it is to betray Daoism and step onto the demonic path just for such a matter."

Knowing that Ji ChangYun was referring to matters of love instead of Zhong Yan's blood oath, Liang Zheng revealed a hint of a smile, his tone gentle.

"Junior brother, what everyone holds important are different. Since your life revolves around eliminating evil and upholding justice, the heaven way holds most importance to you. But perhaps for Gu XuanYan, Brother Qin holds the dearest place in his heart. For the special someone he cherishes the most, everything else is mere dust in his eyes, not worthy of mentioning."

Ji ChangYun went silent.

Liang Zheng took a look at him, carefully wording his next remark, "In fact, many cultivators also find Gu XuanYan's practising of demonic cultivation to be justifiable and not a sin so serious its punishable by death."

"Is Senior Brother hoping I would give Gu XuanYan leeway if we ended up fighting?"

Not expecting Ji ChangYun to see through his intentions this swiftly, Liang Zheng flushed red in an instant.

Ji ChangYun continued, "If, just as Senior Brother said, Gu XuanYan truly did so to protect the special someone he holds dearest in his heart, he should even more so go all out with me."

Rendered speechless, Liang Zheng lowered his blushing face and stared at the sword underneath him. Meanwhile, Ji ChangYun raised his line of sight, directing it to the depths of the northern wilderness.

As the elevation to the Lesser Vehicle stage had heightened his senses to a higher level, he could already detect the faint silhouette of the palace.

Situated in the palace was Gu XuanYan, who similarly, was able to sense the arrival of the party of cultivators.

Once Zhong Yan got a hold of the news that the four schools of cultivation were heading towards Northern Wilderness, his initial thought was to perhaps lie low in Long River City. However, on second thought, such a day would still catch up to them so long as the problem remained unresolved.

Since this is unavoidable, we have no choice but to draw our swords and face it head-on.

After heaving a sigh, Zhong Yan lifted his eyes, "What would you do without me?"

Gu XuanYan withdrew his divine sense[1] before letting out a low chuckle, "I know right."

{1. From https://immortalmountain.wordpress.com/glossary/wuxia-xianxia-xuanhuan-terms/ : Divine Sense (神识) An ability possessed by cultivators to scan their surroundings (far beyond the limits of their ordinary 5 senses) with their spirit. The distance/total area they can scan corresponds to the strength of their spirit. Also used in some novels to remotely control magical items such as Flying Swords.}

The two were still joking around, their atmosphere as relaxed as could be.

Frankly, if the leaders of the four schools of cultivation ended up joining forces to launch an attack on Gu XuanYan, the chances of him emerging victorious were slim.

Even Cang Luan in his peak got utterly devastated when facing off with merely the Daoist sect elders, forcing him to stay in the chilliest area in Northern Wilderness in order to heal and extend his lifespan.

Nonetheless, it was still uncertain whether the four schools of cultivation would all join forces to attack Gu XuanYan as agreed.

Since Dark Mountain Sect bore deep hatred for Gu XuanYan due to him destroying the cultivation bases of their disciples, they would without a doubt plan on killing him. Nevertheless, Dark Mountain was just a no-name sect.

Although the Buddhist cultivators of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall had always been compassionate, Gu XuanYan did brazenly steal their relics after all. Even if they won't plan on killing him, it wasn't certain if they would help out in attacking him.

Spiritual cultivators held no grudges against Gu XuanYan. Moreover, as Tong Ling was among them, they probably won't join in the fight.

As for Daoist cultivators...

While the gears in Zhong Yan's brain spun rapidly, Gu XuanYan who was right beside him let out a sudden remark, "Ji ChangYun is here too. "

Noticing Zhong Yan's eyes on him, he revealed a faint smile.

"he has elevated into the lesser vehicle stage and shows signs of breaking through. I can feel his divine sense."

As shock coursed through Zhong Yan, memories flashed past his mind.

Ji ChangYun was precisely in the lesser vehicle stage during the ending of the original story. While battling with Gu XuanYan, he broke through his level and defeated Gu XuanYan

In the web novel, the group headed to Northern Wilderness to eliminate the demonic cultivators. Once the realization that Gu XuanYan was the mastermind behind everything dawned on them, they proceeded to kill him there.

Bearing the mission of changing the trajectory of Gu XuanYan's life, Zhong Yan transmigrated into the story.

Despite trudging through the perilous journey, important plot points still coincided with the web novel – the murdering of Chun Qin, the slaying of Cang Luan, and the switch over to demonic cultivation

What about this one?

Recollection of that particular night when Gu XuanYan told him about the Heavenly way floated into Zhong Yan's mind.

At that time, Gu XuanYan's face was plastered with a cold expression, his tone filled with ridicule and indignance. The present Zhong Yan finally got a feel of being strung along by the so-called fate.

Zhong Yan couldn't help thinking; could he really accomplish his mission? could he really help Gu XuanYan change his life trajectory?

As his mind ran wild for quite some time, his heart began sinking, his face turning pale.

Gu XuanYan withdrew his smile, his tone warm, "What's the matter, senior brother?"

Seemingly sensing something after his question, he took Zhong Yan's hand and eased his voice.

"Don't be afraid, Senior Brother."

Gu XuanYan had slender, long fingers. The warmth from his palms constantly transmitted over to Zhong Yan's hands through their touch, pulling Zhong Yan back from the chaotic thoughts plaguing his mind.

Only then did Zhong Yan suddenly realize that he was trapped in his mental barrier due to excessive worrying.

Zhong Yan cut off the thoughts and took a deep breath.

With his hands grabbing onto Gu XuanYan, he told himself, it's different this time.

The past Gu XuanYan was all alone, but with his company now, they could shoulder all troubles together.

Fortunately, they were together in this now

No matter how perilous the path ahead was, they could face it together, hand in hand.

Chapter 27: The start of the final battle

After whizzing through their entire journey on top of their swords, the crowd of cultivators reached the palace of the demonic lord on the second midnight they set foot into the northern wilderness.

A setting sun as crimson as blood and whistles from violent gusts of wind haunted the boundless icy plains. Amid it rose a lone palace, which gave off an arbitrarily lonely vibe.

Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan stood in front of the palace gates, their robes fluttering with the wind.

Gu XuanYan eyed the group in front of him, his voice calm and monotonous.

"Hello, all. I have been expecting all of you."

Never did the party of cultivators expect the two to be waiting outside the palace.

Li Yue took the lead in confronting as he bellowed, "You fiend! Surrender yourself right now for your heinous acts!"

Gu XuanYan hiked up his eyebrows, "Is that so? What heinous acts did I do?"

Li Yue snorted, "Are you still going to deny your destruction of my disciples' cultivation bases?"

"Does Sect Leader Li accuse without checking the whole context?"

With his brows raised, Zhong Yan continued, "Those three disciples of yours are so ruthless, they even tried attacking behind our backs. But unfortunately for them, they are weaker than my Junior Brother, so he disciplined them. If you don't believe me, just tell them to cross-examine with me. "

Due to the clarity and loudness of Zhong Yan's rebuttal, everyone had varied changes in their expressions; it wasn't clear how many of them actually believed him.

Among the group was Tong Ling, who opted to speak out, "Sect Leader Li, since both of you claim a different story, why not bring in your disciples to cross-examine?"

Colours drained away from Li Yue's face. No way did he have no idea of the circumstances; after all the three buffoons had told him everything upon being rescued.

Li Yue had only come over and got on Gu XuanYan's back due to, firstly, his sect's reputation, and secondly, the rage within him that he couldn't swallow down.

Gu XuanYan had been crowned as the Demonic Lord anyway. Seeing that the relationship between the Taoist sects and the Demonic cult had always been relatively poor ever since ancient times, won't everyone be standing on his side?

At the thought of that, Li Yue asserted clearly, the boulder weighing on crumbling away, "My three disciples are currently reduced to mere civilians. How can they withstand the bitterly cold of Northern Wilderness? Even with this matter aside, Gu XuanYan and Qin MingXi have turned to the demonic path despite previously being Daoist cultivators. Isn't this a betrayal of the Heavenly Way and Patriarch Lü ?"

The expression of Green Summit Sect Leader, who remained silent the entire time, chilled at once.

After all, Gu XuanYan used to be Green Summit's chief disciple; it was understandable that Sect Leader Li XunJi couldn't maintain his composure.
One of the disciples behind him couldn't help but whisper, "Senior Gu did so for a reason. Perhaps the merciful Patriarch Lü might not blame him..."

Li XunJi swivelled over and hollered, "Shut up!"

In an instant, all disciples fell as silent as a cicada in winter.

Zhong Yan, of course, caught the disciple's whisper. A shred of amusement seeped in his heart.

Tong Ling did tell the truth; some of them actually find Gu XuanYan's actions excusable. This is quite a bit better than the original ending of the story, where everyone found him utterly despicable.

Still, I have no idea if they would still side with Gu XuanYan after witnessing the conversation following this.

According to the original webnovel, Green Summit's members would be asking about Li YunJi's death.
As expected, after scolding the disciple, Sect Leader Li XunJi turned to Gu XuanYan, his voice deep, "A question for you; since you have become the Demonic Lord, have you found out the cause of your Master's death?"

Gu XuanYan asked, "Is Sect Leader asking about Li YunJi?"

A short pause later, he continued, "Then may I ask if Sect Leader knows there was once a family of cultivators living at Mount Straying Mist outside Long River City?"

Despite frowning, Sect Leader Li XunJi still answered, "Yes, I do. Rumours had it that the Demonic cult vied for their cultivation bases and ended up wiping out their clan with trickery."

"Sect leader isn't quite right." Gu XuanYan shifted his gaze to Li XunJi and gave a light chuckle, yet not a hint of joy was present in his eyes.
"Besides demonic cultivators, both Li YunJi and Chun Qin were involved in the massacre of my parents and clansmen. They conspired with the demonic cultivators, murdering others for their cores to attain longevity."

Although Gu XuanYan's voice was not all that loud, his revelation was as shocking as a lightning in a clear blue sky.

Li XunJi was the first to have a change in expression, yelling, "Impossible!"

Disregarding the expressions on everyone's faces, Gu XuanYan continued, "The room Li YunJi died in had demonic aura scattered in every single corner while a bone whistle, demonic cultivators' communication tool, was found in Chun Qin's body. These were all because they had practised demonic cultivation. Of course, the dead cannot bear witness; you can take all of that as utter nonsense."

Gu XuanYan curled the corner of his lips, revealing a hint of a smile.

"Since I killed both of them."

Shock pierced through the minds of everyone, perhaps due to how convoluted Gu XuanYan's backstory was, or the fact that the two respected elders of Daoist cultivation were suspected of massacring a clan.

A thick blanket of dark, sullen clouds shrouded Li XunJi, as though droplets of glum would be raining on him at any moment.

He remained silent; who knew what was running through his head.

A lengthy silence fell over the group before Sage Liao Wu took a step forward and chanted.

"Amitabha, killing is never a good solution."

Gu XuanYan's voice was gentle, "Well said, Sage. I used to think that all deeds, good or evil, will pay off. But what a pity, neither did the Heavenly Way care about this nor did the gods look into this. So I guess I can only take charge of it myself. "

Liao Wu heaved a long sigh. As the matter involved cause and effect of past actions, it wasn't appropriate to persuade further. He changed the subject, his question tactful, "May I know if the relics of my Buddhist hall are with Patron Gu?"

Gu XuanYan was in the wrong for stealing after all, so he greeted, answering with a much softer tone.

"That's right. I did take the relics and extract their spiritual air for my demonic cultivation."

"Because of Patron Qin?"

Gu XuanYan smiled without a reply. Zhong Yan joined in the conversation, "Yes, my Junior Brother should not have taken the relics of your Buddhist hall, but he was forced to do so to save me. Ultimately, it's my fault. If there's any discontentment, please come at me instead."

No one could have expected Zhong Yan, who was just in the Leaving Aperture stage, to have the courage of saying so to the abbot of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall.

Such actions were akin to a tiny mantis trying to stop a chariot in anyone's eyes.

However, Zhong Yan said so with utmost seriousness, not a shred of arrogance or insolence within him.

The only reason he did so was to help take on some of Gu XuanYan's burdens, even if the opponent in front of him was way more powerful; even if his chance of winning was slim to none.

Understanding the meaning of Zhong Yan's declaration, Gu XuanYan turned over to look at Zhong Yan, delight contained in his eyes.

Sage Liao Wu shook his head, "Fate ceases upon emerging, vanishing upon birth. All sentiments, be it love or hate, are mere illusion. Why the persistence?"

Zhong Yan lifted his line of sight to Liao Wu, cool as a cucumber as he asserted, "A vulgar man as I am can't understand Sage's Buddhist verses. What I only know is that I like him, so I must be with him for my entire lifetime. "

If not for the current situation they were in, Gu XuanYan would most likely give Zhong Yan a kiss. However, he merely curved his lips at the moment, his voice slow, "I stole the relics of Sage's Buddhist hall, so I will take all responsibility upon myself. If a fight erupts later on, I'm willing to receive a palm strike from Sage head-on."

Waves of shock washed over the crowd.

Sage Liao Wu had entered the lotus throne stage of Buddhist cultivation, akin to the Greater Vehicle stage of Daoist cultivation.

Although Gu XuanYan did have a chance of winning against the sage, if he received a palm strike head on, he might not be able to come out of the fight unscathed.

Not expecting that from Gu XuanYan, Zhong Yan spun his head over to Gu XuanYan, just to see the latter offering a seemingly placating smile.

Li Yue sneered, "Getting all carried away by your talent, huh? Let's save the trouble and just resolve my sect's grudge all together then."

Li Yue was planning on teaming up with Liao Wu but, naturally, Zhong Yan will not let him have his way.

Zhong Yan cut in before Gu XuanYan could reply, "I'm the reason why my Junior Brother injured your disciples. If there's any discontentment, Sect Leader Li may have a match with me first."

Li Yue snickered, "How dare you, someone who's only in the Leaving Aperture stage and hasn't even formed a golden core, have the guts to wield your sword in front of others?

"Of course I do." Zhong Yan raised his eyebrows, surprise plastered all over his face.

"No matter how low one's cultivation base is, one would always have their sword wield in front of others. Or perhaps Dark Mountain sect has been teaching members to wield swords behind opponents' backs?

Even a fool could detect Zhong Yan's sarcasm regarding Dark Mountain's disciples attacking behind his back.

With his face darkened into an angry glower, Li Yue barked in a fury, "The only thing rascals like you have are sharp tongues!"

He had his sword drawn before the echoes of his shout faded, lunging straight at Zhong Yan!

Instead of dodging, Zhong Yan wielded his sword to engage the oncoming blow.

Accompanied by sword auras, both blades clashed against each other, a shrilling clank ringing throughout the icy plains upon impact.

After contesting Li Yue's cultivation base unyieldingly, Zhong Yan withdrew his sword in an instant before launching an attack again!

Meanwhile, the fight between Liao Wu and Gu XuanYan began as well.

With his hands joined, Liao Wu shut his eyes and recited the Scripture. Amidst the low-pitched chanting of sutras, a golden light shaped in the form of the Buddha radiated out from his body, transforming him into an arhat covered in gold. As his chants blasted out, he lifted his line of sight towards Gu XuanYan, reciting a spell inwardly.

I will attain Buddhahood in a moment of complete benevolence.

In a flash, he turned his palms over, lunging towards Gu XuanYan!

Liao Wu's palm strike was as swift as lightning, able to capture the fastest of wind. In the twinkling of an eye, it had already reached Gu XuanYan.

Nonetheless, Gu XuanYan didn't dodge but instead, and received it head-on.

The quake from the strike almost shattered his heart meridians.

Instantly, blood started gushing out the corner of Gu XuanYan's lips.

After a step back. Gu XuanYan raised his gaze towards Liao Wu, his voice hoarse, "Thank you for showing mercy."

Liao Wu put his hands together and recited Buddha's name before striking yet again, his attack supersonic fast.

At that very moment, a lotus imprint began blanketing the sky.

Buddhist cultivators' attacks were as light as clouds and ever-changing.

This time around, Gu XuanYan unsheathed his sword and hacked right down at the Buddhist imprint in front of him, the strike dissipating the golden buddha-shaped light.

Li Yue wanted to take the advantage to kill Gu XuanYan, but once again, Zhong Yan wielded his sword in front of him, blocking his path.

A murderous desire sprouted immediately in the short-tempered Li Yue's heart, prompting him to launch more aggressive blows.

Unexpectedly, Zhong Yan did not even take a step back but instead took on Li Yue's concentrated deadly strikes with clenched teeth.

Except for the four engaged in a fight, everyone else stood outside their battlefield and looked on, different opinions in their minds.

Since the spiritual cultivators bore no resentment for Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan, plus Tong Ling had been putting on a good word for them, they were no longer willing to get involved in the mayhem.

Ji Changyun looked upon the situation with his sword by him. After a careful glance at Ji ChangYun, who seemingly wasn't planning on joining in, Liang Zheng felt rather relieved.

At the same time, Liao Wu's third palm strike was launched.

A Buddhist cultivation method, that particular palm strike was known as Five Aggregates It was derived from the idea of five aggregates concealed inside oneself, the mindset that all things were unreal, hollow and imaginary.

Gu XuanYan lifted his hands which were empty of his sword, his demonic aura surging out everywhere.

Leaping up, he flipped his hand over, catching the attack as his palm met Liao Wu's.

Light quakes began spreading throughout the entire icy plains upon their contact.

Liao Wu opted to retreat instead by leaping backwards, chanting Buddha's name once his feet reached the ground.

"Patron Gu had taken three relics of my Buddhist hall, while I have returned the favour with three palm strikes. With that, the matter is resolved; there's no need for a fight to death."

Gu XuanYan nodded, "Thank you very much, Sage."

After forcing Zhong Yan back with a swing of his sword, Li Yue bellowed, "Is Sage going to just let this fiend off?!"

Liao Wu placed his hands together, lowering his head with his eyes shut, "Everything is done and dusted. There's nothing to speak of about letting him off."

Li Yue, who held the conference under the name of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall, had been hoping Liao Wu would kill Gu XuanYan. Now that Liao Wu had dropped the matter, others in the group would all the more so not join in the battle. Flames of fury blazed all over him as he turned to Li XunJi.

"Is Sect Leader Li not going to discipline the Demonic Lord your Green Summit raised? The very disciple who dares to murder his Master?"

A mixture of shock and fury intertwined within the momentarily speechless Li Yue as he noticed Gu XuanYan, with his sword in hand, shifted his line of sight to him.

Rambling spewed out of him right then, "If Sect Leader Li doesn't kill him now, the entire world will catch wind that one of your Sect Elders conspired with the demonic cultivators. Your Green Summit's centuries of fame will be utterly ruined when that happens!"

Zhong Yan let out an exasperated laugh, "Huh. Is ignoring mistakes and assigning blame the only things every one of you learned after all those years of cultivation?"

Only then did the silent Sect Leader Li XunJi finally make a move.

After a series of changes in his expression, he unsheathed his sword.

He stared at Gu XuanYan, his voice as resonant as a temple bell.

"You, deplorable disciple, have completely disregarded the care your sect provided you. Not only did you murder your Master but also spread rumours in ill will and walked the demonic path. Today, I'll eliminate evil and uphold the sect's principles!"

Author's note:

To clarify, a portion of the descriptions involving Buddhist cultivation methods are drawn upon from ShaoLin's skill set of Sword Heroes Fate Series III

Chapter 28: Close Shave

As soon as the declaration reached Zhong Yan's ears, it was as clear as day to him that Li XunJi had been convinced to get rid of Gu XuanYan for the sake of the so-called century-old reputation of Green Summit.

Although a slight notion to laugh bubbled in him, he wasn't able to laugh even when he tried curving his lips. Only heated fury was wedged in his throat.

Gu XuanYan, on the other hand, didn't say a word, seeming to expect such a result. He merely dropped his line of sight a little, thoughts unknown to anyone running through his head.

While eyeing the crowd in front, Zhong Yan felt like raising a few questions at them.

You hypocritical lot; always blabbering about the heavenly way and eliminating evil. What nonsense are you all cultivating exactly?

Nonetheless, the present circumstance prohibited Zhong Yan from saying so.

Since Gu XuanYan had just received three palm strikes from Liao Wu, with the first one hitting right in the center of his heart, it wasn't certain if he could fend off Li XunJi's attacks.

In an abrupt instant, a long sword appeared in front of Gu XuanYan, who unsheathed his sword to block it! Both parties' vital energy clashed as their blades crossed, the impact emitting an ear-piercing screech and even quaking the ground.

After retreating more than ten Zhang[1] away, Gu XuanYan lifted his eyes. Upon detecting Li XunJi's sword whizzing towards him with murderous intent, he leaned to a side to dodge the attack.

{1. 10 x 3 1/3 meters}

With the might of a surging flood, the sword energy whistled right past him and hacked three-inch slash on the icy plains.

In a moment of distraction to check up on Gu XuanYan, Zhong Yan got his chest slashed by Li Yue's sword energy, inducing a river of blood to gush out immediately.

With the pain hauling him back to reality, he clenched his teeth while blocking a strike from Li Yue.

As if their hearts were interlinked, Gu XuanYan lifted his line of sight right then.

Once he noticed the blood on Zhong Yan, a deep crease formed between his brows.

Still, he had a Li XunJi in front of him.

Gu XuanYan leapt upwards, condensing his sword energy into a pool of ocean-like mass before lunging straight at Li XunJi!

Despite taking two steps back, the sword energy still injured Li XunJi, a massive stream of blood spewing out of his mouth upon impact.

A chaotic flurry of yells ran through the crowd of panicking Green Summit disciples, who were all looking on the battle at one side, "Sect Leader!"

Some of them got so anxious, they started drawing out their swords.

"Stand down! Don't any of you come forward!" Li XunJi snapped before raising his eyes towards Gu XuanYan.

As the Sect leader of Green Summit for more than a century, Li XunJi valued the honour of the sect more than his life. As one grew old, nothing can trump fame and reputation in their eyes, as if their entire life revolved around a mere word from someone else. They couldn't even discern right from wrong.
Fatigue had already started to plague the present Zhong Yan due to his battle with Li Yue.

After all, one level of difference in cultivation stage was as massive as the height of thousands of mountains stacked together.

Zhong Yan's will was the only thing enabling him to hold out for so long.

Gu XuanYan turned over to help Zhong Yan, forcing Li Yue to steadily lose ground with one strike.

However, at that moment, Li XunJi circulated his vital energy and launched yet another attack.

Due to the strike encompassing every bit of Li XunJi's cultivation base, its sword intent[2] was as formidable as a flood of a tsunami, its sword aura possessing a force that could split the world into two.
{2. the manifestation of the sword wielder's intent/will}

He leaped forward, lunging his sword towards the back of Gu XuanYan.

The inclusion of the entire power of a hundred-year-old cultivator made the attack lethally frightening.

In the twinkling of an eye, the sword had reached Gu XuanYan!

As Gu XuanYan was busy cutting down Li Yue, he had no time to withdraw himself and turn to his back.

The sword was going to slice down in just a flash!

Although Zhong Yan's brain was as blank as a new piece of paper, he leaped up subconsciously and threw himself towards Gu XuanYan's back. At the same time, he hollered in his heart. [System!]

As the change of events came too rapidly, the crowd wasn't able to catch how Zhong Yan managed to get behind Gu XuanYan at such lightning speed.
In the very next second, Li XunJi's sword had already pierced through Zhong Yan's heart meridian.

Amidst the cries of shock, the demonic aura surrounding Gu XuanYan had a sudden growth in mass. After slashing Li Yue's throat, he swivelled over and slammed a palm strike at Li XunJi.

Waves of demonic aura burst forth.

As Li XunJi had expended his cultivation base on his previous attack, the palm strike instantly drove him dozens of Zhang[3] away.

{3. 3 1/3 meters}

All of a sudden, both his hair and beard paled to white.

Unable to even wield his sword, Li XunJi only managed to stick it onto the icy ground to stabilize himself.

Instead of firing another blow, Gu XuanYan embraced Zhong Yan, unexpected helplessness written all over his face.

While gazing at the person in his arms, he called out softly, "Senior Brother?"

Despite almost going unconscious from the pain, the two words from Gu XuanYan pulled Zhong Yan's divine sense back. Zhong Yan whispered, "Let's leave."

As soon as he opened his mouth, blood spilled out of his lips yet again.

With Zhong Yan in his arms, Gu XuanYan whizzed towards the north, the evil intent ruminating in his eyes still intact.

Dark Mountain's disciples immediately ran to check on Li Yue, whose eyes was cracked open, his last breath long gone.

Seeing red, several of them unsheathed their swords as they planned on chasing down Gu XuanYan.

Li XunJi advised, his voice slow, "The three palm strikes from Sage Wu and two sword slashes from me had destabilized Gu XuanYan's vital energy and injured his heart meridian. Now is indeed the best time to tear him down by his roots. But the level of all of your cultivation base might make the battle not be in your favour."

His hoarse voice didn't sound like it came from a cultivation elder but closer to that of an ordinary elderly in his twilight years.

Hesitation began to show on the faces of Dark Mountain's disciples, all of which ended up not having the courage to step forward.

Li XunJi heaved two violent coughs before turning to look at the Ji ChangYun in front of the crowd.

"Right now, only you have the highest chances of winning among all. Since you have always regarded the elimination of evil as your responsibility, would you be willing to exterminate the fiend that is Gu XuanYan?"

Ji ChangYun raised his line of sight to Li XunJi, his eyes void of expression. After a moment, he nodded lightly.

*

At the northernmost part of Northern Wilderness rose a cliff reaching hundreds of meters of height, where beneath it flowed a turbulent river.

The stream of blood gushing out from Zhong Yan's chest wound had grown heavy by the minute.

Gu XuanYan stopped at the edge of the cliff before pressing down on Zhong Yan's wound in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Still, the blood flowed all over his hands and drenched his sleeves.

To Zhong Yan's surprise, he could still feel Gu XuanYan's hand shaking despite being under excruciating pain.

He forced himself to lift his gaze, an unexpected mixture of a laugh and sigh escaping him once he had a clear view of his current location. "You are seriously..."

My fleeing ended us up right at the place where Gu XuanYan got killed. Who should I even complain about this to?

Luckily, it looks like the one who is going to die at the moment is not Gu XuanYan but me.

A positive thought arose within Zhong Yan in spite of his adversity. I guess this can be considered a change in fate too.

Due to his severe injuries, Zhong Yan's cultivation base started dispersing bit by bit into the air.

Gu XuanYan no longer continued plugging the cascading flow of blood but instead, began to transmit vital essence into Zhong Yan's body.

The infusion of the life-prolonging vital essence dampened the pain on Zhong Yan.

He raised his line of sight to Gu XuanYan, "You just killed a person."

Gu XuanYan's voice was low, "Senior Brother, I'm sorry."

Zhong Yan let out a chuckle, "You did nothing wrong. Why apologize?" After coughing twice, he added, "But don't do that again."

"All right. But then, Senior Brother has to stay by me."

Not only was Gu XuanYan's hands quivering but also his voice too.

"Senior Brother, don't leave me behind. You said you'll stick close to me. Don't lie to me.

Gu XuanYan was completely veiled in demonic aura, his pupils crimson red- a clear sign that he had wholly entered Qi Deviation.[4]

{From https://immortalmountain.wordpress.com/glossary/wuxia-xianxia-xuanhuan-terms/ : Qi Deviation (走火入魔 zǒuhuǒ rùmó) – also known as . Literally translates as "to catch fire and be entered [possessed] by devils". A state wherein the cultivation base becomes dangerously unstable, causing internal damage to the body and symptoms of psychosis.}

Strands of hair were scattered all over his forehead, his clothes filled with blood stains. It wasn't certain whose blood it was, his or Zhong Yan's.

Never had he been in such sorry state before, nor had he been so unhinged.

It was as though he was trekking in a snowy night alone, any glimmer of star vanquished, his life utterly cut off from any path.

Vital energy helped cultivators to prologue life span, but once it's lost, it's gone forever.

Not only was Gu XuanYan's vital energy unstable, but also, his cultivation base had been exhausted.

Despite being barely about to support himself, he still dare not to withdraw his hands from Zhong Yan.

Upon noticing Gu XuanYan's deadly pale face, Zhong Yan frowned and held down Gu's hand, his voice low as he hollered, "Let go."

Following which, he chuckled as his tone eased up.

"It's merely another round through the cycle of reincarnation; another round of centuries-long training."

It was a quote from Gu XuanYan when his life neared the end in the original story.

Seeing the circumstances, him using the quote now was rather befitting.

Instead of giving a reply on whether he would give up on Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan simply lowered his head and buried it onto Zhong Yan's neck, his voice tender, "Senior Brother, won't you take pity on me?"

Gu XuanYan's murmur got Zhong Yan's heart scrunching up into a ball, but he still advised him, "Don't be silly, or we'll end up dying here together."

Gu XuanYan's time was warm, "That sounds fine."

Zhong Yan laughed in exasperation. Before he could reply, he found Ji ChangYun whizzing over to them upon lifting his gaze.

Although Gu XuanYan detected his arrival too, he still had his right hand grasping on Zhong Yan to infuse his cultivation base. He simply flipped over his left wrist and launched a palm strike on the oncoming opponent.

With his sword drawn out, Ji ChangYun sliced down the palm strike before lunging his sword towards Gu XuanYan's back!

However, the tip of the blade did not land on Gu XuanYan. Instead, its azure sword energy, accompanied by a long roar, was the one piercing through Gu XuanYan's body!

As sharp as could be, the sword energy was brimming with mighty cultivation base.

Upon impaling Gu XuanYan from behind, a collision between the sword energy and Gu XuanYan's inner demonic aura ensued!

The cultivation base exploded within his body, barging through recklessly like the elongated river coursing under the cliff.

Surprisingly, in spite of the pain being comparable to having all internal organs sawed off, not even a word escaped Gu XuanYan.

He simply submitted himself to his vital energy circulating within him, while his right hand still not even moving an inch.

In a shocking turn of events, the vital energy within him ended up merging together—no, 'merging' wasn't quite right.

To be precise, the cultivation base imbued in Ji ChangYun's strike got swallowed whole by Gu XuanYan's inner vital energy in a counteraction.

Following the intake of nourishment, Gu XuanYan's vital energy grew back to its domineering self, rampaging ferociously.

Despite his pain being as agonizing as the ripping away of bones and tendons, he did not suppress his vital energy.

Since he was about to break through.

Only by breaking through could he obtain higher cultivation base to lengthen the lifespan of the person in his arms.

Even though Ji ChangYun's strike was as oppressive as could be, it was different from the blows received from Li Yue and Li Xunji just then.

Within the strike held both his cultivation base and sword energy, yet murderous intent was absent from it.

With the assistance of that strike, Gu XuanYan ended up breaking through.

Like the flowing of a long river stream into an ocean, his inner cultivation base burst through the prohibition of stage elevation with the strength of numerous earthquakes. Right at that instant, the entire ice plains began quivering slightly.

Even in crisis, a door to safety might emerge.

When Daoist cultivators ascended, red-crowned cranes would crow in the clouds.

Whereas for Demonic cultivators, long howls of hawks and falcons would ring out.

And at this very moment, two kinds of howls resounded all over.

The forcing of a breakthrough with cultivation base led to Gu XuanYan's ascension.

Zhong Yan was completely stumped for words at the consecutive change of events.

Instead of Ji ChangYun, Gu XuanYan turns out to be the one ascending right before their battle?! What a crazy twist this is!

Concurrently, a robotic voice rang out within Zhong Yan's mind. [Congratulations on the success in aiding Gu XuanYan to ascend. Mission complete.]

Zhong Yan felt not only an abrupt return of his strength but also his inner cultivation base starting to circulate. The pain hounding on him subsided in an instant too

Detecting the change as well, Gu XuanYan grasped Zhong Yan, a rare bewildered tone in his voice, "Senior Brother, you..."

Zhong Yan interrupted him in haste, "Yup, I'm fine now. I'll explain it to you later."

A brief pause later, Gu XuanYan dropped the matter and shifted his line of sight to Ji ChangYun.

The two exchanged glances before Ji ChangYun drew his sword and lunged over.

Shock buzzed within Zhong Yan but following after, he found an absence of aura in the strike, as if the sword was swung nonchalantly.

Once the blade got near Gu XuanYan, he took up his sword and swished it away.

Ji ChangYun sheathed his sword, his tone indifferent "You won."

Zhong Yan was at a loss for words.

That's so fake! You are the protagonist, you know?! Don't just get all passive and slack off!!

Yet, the stoniness in Ji ChangYun's still-water-like expression and the coolness in his tone prevented anyone from picking out any wrong in his action.

"You have ascended. I'm still in the late Lesser Vehicle stage, so I can't defeat you."

Ji ChangYun stated. "But I'm about to break through too. Perhaps I will be able to have a match with you in the near future."

Such was the statement from Ji ChangYun during their previous trip in the icy plains.

While revealing a hint of a smile, Gu XuanYan repeated the reply he given that day, a similar graveness in his tone"If that is so, I will be waiting for Brother Ji's invitation for the match."

A swing of the sword could both eliminate evil and help gain a bosom friend.

*

Meanwhile, on the other side of Northern Wilderness stood the group of cultivators who, similarly, felt the quaking from the aura of the ascension process.

The eagle howls blasting in the sky were a clear indication that Ji ChangYun wasn't the one who ascended.

The first to respond, Sage Liao Wu clasped his palms together and shut his eyes.

"The Buddha realm would emerge if all obstacles are wiped out. Since Patron Gu has entered the ascended realm, every single karmic hindrance is all gone. May all let him off."

As this was the internal affairs of Daoist sects, Sage Liao Wu had remained silent despite knitting his brows the moment Li XunJi drew his sword.

However, he had started to speak up, the message behind his statement as clear as day.

Being the head of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall, he was highly respected. Even if Buddhist cultivation and Daoist cultivation were not of the same origin, all cultivators present had to show due respect to him.

Thus, an immediate silence fell upon the group.

Only a Dark Mountain's disciple, who guarded Li Yue's corpse with reddened eyes, responded with a sneer, "Sage, Ji ChangYun has not returned yet. It is still not certain whether Gu XuanYan is dead or alive now."

Just as the disciple's retort ended, Ji ChangYun flew over from afar and landed in front of the party of cultivators. He looked at the crowd, his voice flat and calm. "I lost."

Li Xunji coughed violently for a few times, his breathing in such a crawling slow speed, it was as if he was just a step away from his grave.

A jumble of bafflement and fury clouded over the Dark Mountain disciples, "Gu XuanYan is so heavily injured and yet you didn't manage to kill him?! Are you even a Daoist cultivation prodigy who eliminates evil and defends the heavenly way? Or did you just collude with Gu XuanYan... "

Enraged, Liang Zheng cut in abruptly before Ji ChangYun could even reply, " Nonsense! My Junior Brother never lies! Since Gu XuanYan ascended out of the blue, what's so strange about my Junior Brother losing? "

In an instant, every shred of the disciple's fury was vented onto Liang Zheng, "Who do you think you..."

Ji ChangYun had set his eyes on the disciples before the sentence ended, his stare filled with pressure.

The pressure of a cultivator in the Lesser Vehicle stage was as intense as raging waves.

Even though no word came out of Ji ChangYun, his pressure still weighed down on them hard, forcing their heads down and shoving the rest of the reply into their stomach.

Only then did Ji ChangYun shift his eyes to Liang Zheng, his voice low, "Come here."

Liang Zheng initially planned on arguing with them, his face swelling with redness.

Upon hearing that, he kept silent while jogging over, stopping at his Junior Brother's side.

Ji ChangYun withdrew his gaze, lifting it towards the sky instead of directing it to anyone else.

Clouds and mist had dispersed away, replaced by rays of light shining down.

TL note:

Saw a clarification from the author when browsing through the comments of this chapter in the site the novel is hosted.

The cheat Zhong Yan applied from the system was to allow him to reach Gu XuanYan in the nick of time since he can't do so on his own. The cheat can't help Zhong Yan absorb the strike. Plus, after using this cheat, he has no points left.

Tabulation of points

*Twenty points = whenever Gu XuanYan kills someone

*Ten points = One cheat

-30 points on c5 for using a cheat on the white ape and killing of Chun Qin (points left = 70)

-20 points on c10 for killing of a female demonic cultivator(points left = 50)

-10 points on c11 for using a cheat when falling (points left = 40)

-10 points on c23 for using a cheat (points left = 30)

-30 points on c28 for killing of Li Yue and using a cheat (points left = 0)

Chapter 29: The End

Within Long River City, nothing was more flourishing than its main street.

On top of the street rose the largest inn in Long River City, Clear Moon Inn, which boasted the most bustling business in the main highway.

Countless mouth-watering delicacies were prepared within the five-storey-high inn.

Not only could customers on the second storey and above enjoy their tea with music, but upon opening the windows, their eyes would also be instantly greeted by the scenery of a broad river the inn was built beside of.

Situated in the first storey was a wide hall, with the capacity to hold over a hundred customers, allowing them to take a break and rest their legs.

Often, the inn would invite in a storyteller, who would tell tales of bizarre events or legends sprouting from the martial world.

Today, the storyteller narrated the incident in the icy plains, whereby both Buddhist and Daoist sects allied to eliminate the leader of the demonic cultivators, Gu XuanYan.

The story had already neared its end.

In front of the stage stood the old storyteller, his garments completely grey.

Despite having a grizzled beard, he was brimming with energy, his voice echoing within the hall.

"After Sage Liao Wu of the Buddhist cultivation launched three strikes, the Sect Leader Gu XuanYan was previously under, Li XunJi, whizzed over with his sword to get rid of that dreadful ex-disciple of his sect. Never did he expect Gu XuanYan would break through and ascend out of the blue! Due to Li XunJi's great defeat, Gu XuanYan managed to escape yet again."

The old storyteller stroked his beard. "As of now, no one had no clue where Gu XuanYan is."

The crowds below clicked their tongue in wonder, some yelling out while grasping a handful of melon seeds, "Don't tell me the Daoist sects just let Gu XuanYan off like that?"

"It can't be helped." The old mister drank a mouthful of tea to moisten his throat. Gu XuanYan's whereabouts are difficult to find, let alone the fact that Green Summit's Sect Leader, Li XunJi, exhausted half of his cultivation base during the battle with him. Besides, he has been bedridden for more than three months ever since his return from the icy plains. His Sect Leader position was even passed over to other Sect Elders. From what I see..."

He lowered his voice. "I'm afraid the flame that is his life has been snuffed out."

Immersed in the story, the crowd sighed in sorrow.

One of them asked again, "Since this Gu XuanYan was from Green Summit and a rare prodigy, why did he become a Demonic Lord?"

After a slap, the storyteller smiled, "Now that's a good question. Let's start right from the beginning! Rumour had it that Gu XuanYan has a senior brother of the same sect. His surname is Qin and he was then a fine young man..."

Modulation in tone, his voice resounded throughout the hall.

To the north of Clear Moon Inn's doors was the boundless icy plains in Northern Wilderness.

It stretched out thousands of miles away, utterly cutting off from any beings that attempt to traverse it.

At the very end of the north of the icy plains lay the far north, where even demonic cultivators rarely set foot upon.

The chilliness of the far north's snow could pierce through bones, as though having the ability to swallow any living being whole
Rumours had it that the obtaining of the chilly ice in the far north's cliff could prolong lifespan.

In spite of the differing opinions of it, it being a death trap in every normal person and cultivator's eyes was an undeniable fact.

Truth be told, if anyone reached the edge of the cliff, they would have found a long river beneath it

The only thing that seemed alive in the landscape, the river flowed in the middle of the north and south, traversing between the cliff.

Massive waves reaching sky-high surged through the river into the far distance while engulfing bits and pieces of ice, the oppressive air they exuded inducing fear among any onlookers.

Actually, after flowing down a few hundred Chinese miles[1]  away, the river would get calmer as it meandered through twists and turns, branching off into smaller streams.

{1. 500 meters or 1,640 feet}

By the time it reached between a mountain, it had already lost its raging currents, its river bed visible through its clear waters.

At the moment, the fine young man the storyteller mentioned, Zhong Yan, was sitting cross-legged by the river.
Below the sweltering hot sun hanging on the summer sky were layers upon layers of trees stacked on the mountain, its different shades of green extending as far as the eye could see.

Branches and lush leaves veiled the bright sky from the ground.

As a light breeze swept by, blades of grass and leaves in the forest began flapping to and fro.

The occasional cries of birds and deers gave the forest and even more cooling vibe.

Zhong Yan rolled up his pants and dipped his lower legs into the water before heaving a long sigh in contentment.
The system spoke out. [...Are you even listening to me?]

[I am.] Zhong Yan lifted his line of sight a little, sounding as slow as a snail. [The mission is complete, so you can send me back to my original world, right?]

[I'm sensing something bad from your tone.]

[Your hunch is quite accurate then; I'm not planning on going back.]

The system appeared to have inhaled a deep breath. [Why?]

Zhong Yan's tone was sincere. [Because I realise it's the end of the school term when I transmigrated over. I don't want to go back to take the linear algebra test.]

Zhong Yan's reply rendered the system speechless.

[Just kidding.] Zhong Yan's legs swayed in the water, his voice lazy as could be. [I promised Gu XuanYan I'll stay by him in my entire lifetime. I can't lie to him again this time.]

After a while of silence, the system asked. [Have you thought things through? If you aren't leaving, every bit of information regarding you will be wiped off from your original world. No one in that world will remember you if that's so.]

Zhong Yan raised his eyes. Among the layers of trees was a small footpath snaking into the deep forest.

At present, someone was slowly approaching him from the end of the path.

He couldn't help but reveal a smile, his tone easing up.

[Have a bunch of people remember you, what for? It's more than enough to constantly be in the mind of just one, even if you're dead or alive.]

The system fell silent. After some time did its usual robotic voice sounded out.

[On account of how long we've worked together, I wish the both of you live to a ripe old age in bliss.]

[Does a system's blessing come with a buff in luck?]

Although the system let out a hmph, it did not deny.

Following a 'beep', Zhong Yan felt his body got a little lighter, as if something had vanished.

He tried whispering out, [System] but got no reply.

A twinge of reluctance welled in his chest but he didn't utter anything else as Gu XuanYan was by his side then.

Without shifting from his spot, he looked up at Gu XuanYan.

A sweeping glance at Zhong Yan's legs that were soaked in the water invoked a frown from Gu XuanYan. he called out in helplessness, "Senior Brother."

Guilt-ridden, Zhong Yan explained, "It's just too hot. Besides, my wounds completely healed some time ago."

Gu XuanYan sighed. "Just a bit longer then. No more after that."

Gu XuanYan's tone, as though a father noticing his brat was playing around with water, got the speechless Zhong Yan to relent.

He withdrew his legs and stepped onto the riverside.

Once realising Gu XuanYan still had his brows knitted, he went over to Gu XuanYan, giving him a kiss on the forehead to please him.

Seemingly somewhat appeased, Gu XuanYan lowered his head and kissed Zhong Yan's lips.

With a gradual hastening of breaths as the kiss drew out longer, Zhong Yan inched backwards, just to be countered by Gu XuanYan catching up on him.

Both locked their eyes with each other.

The first to blush, Zhong Yan whispered, "Let's go home first."

Gu XuanYan carried Zhong Yan up, his breathing deep, "Too late."

The stretch of wild grass within the depths of the mountains barely could reach one's lower legs, enabling anyone lying among it to be somewhat hidden.

Despite knowing no one was in the mountain except them, an insuppressible panic still coursed through Zhong Yan.

Even his voice had a slight quiver to it.

"Be a bit gentler..."

Gu XuanYan, whose lips had reached Zhong Yan's abdomen by then, let out a chuckle, "Just that gets you like this? Well, if Senior Brother begs me in tears like last night...

The blush on Zhong Yan's face expanded to the edges of his ears instantly as he hollered

"I was not in tears last night! "

Gu XuanYan kept his mouth shut right away and lowered his head.

Following a kiss on Zhong Yan's earlobe that was so reddened blood almost dripped out of it, Gu XuanYan cajoled, "All right, all right. You didn't."

Before Zhong Yan could chastise him for being too half-hearted with his words, his hands had already begun stretching out to Zhong Yan's back, turning all of Zhong Yan's rebukes into moans.

When Gu XuanYan entered, Zhong Yan couldn't help but arched up his waist.

Zhong Yan was about to clamp his legs shut subconsciously but Gu XuanYan pressed down on his ankles and started rocking slowly.

Flushed in red all over his body just moments later, Zhong Yan circled his legs around Gu XuanYan's hips unconsciously.

Their robes, partially clothed on them, were scattered by their side.

Despite flourishing with greenery, the ground beneath them still had several fragmented rocks on it.

Afraid the loose rocks would chafe Zhong Yan, Gu XuanYan pulled him into an embrace.

However, due to the current position making the thrusting even deeper, a mix of a moan and a sob escaped Zhong Yan whenever Gu XuanYan moved.

As the sounds got a bit too loud this time, a small animal nearby, perhaps a rabbit or a squirrel, scurried away out of fright, leaving a trail of ruffling grass in its wake.

Only Zhong Yan's moans and Gu XuanYan deep panting could be heard in the area, along with the occasional watery sounds.

During the last few seconds, every bit of Zhong Yan's body had been depleted of energy, his legs slipping down uncontrollably from Gu XuanYan's waist.

His soft whispers of Gu XuanYan's name over and over tickled Gu XuanYan's heart.

As Gu XuanYan lowered his head and bit down on Zhong Yan's shoulder, he shoved his member inside Zhong Yan.

Upon the end of their intercourse, tranquillity descended onto the mountain.

The tiny animals fleeing not too long ago began peeking out, registering all signs of activity in the forest cautiously.

The rustling of wildlife sounded out yet again amid the mountain.

A while later, Gu XuanYan started piggybacking Zhong Yan as he trekked onto the pathway again, heading upwards after reciting an incantation.

Mist slid over and enveloped the track behind them gradually, concealing their trails.

Just as before, sword riding was inaccessible in the mountain's premise, but this wasn't much of a concern for Gu XuanYan, who could ride the winds.

Nonetheless, he loved trekking step by step back home while piggybacking Zhong Yan.

With his head on Gu XuanYan's shoulder, Zhong Yan forced himself awake to start a lecture despite the sleepiness creeping onto him.

"You've already ascended. Still, you not only didn't head off to the ascended realm, but also have such strong desires. This isn't a good thing."

As if he wasn't the one crying and moaning just then.

Instead of pissing Zhong Yan off by mentioning that, he simply answered.

"Ascension only happens because of a breakthrough in cultivation base and the detachment of worldly things. Everything will still stay the same whether I go over to the ascended realm or not. Besides, the ascended realm isn't all that interesting."

Zhong Yan lifted his eyelids, "Then, what's interesting for you?"

"Carrying you back home is."

Zhong Yan let out a light laugh, his arms circling Gu XuanYan's neck as he started prattling nonstop.

"Let's plant two green plum trees at the back of the house. One for the fruits and one for brewing wine."

"Sure."

"The orchids in the valley blossom really well. Let's plant some in the courtyard too when we're free."

"Sure."

"I'm going to start practising cultivation tomorrow. Supervise me then."

Gu XuanYan answered to all of Zhong Yan's ideas. "Anything else?"

Zhong Yan gave a groggy reply, drowsiness glueing his eyes, "Can't think of any for now."

Gu XuanYan chuckled, his voice tender, "No rush. We have ample time ahead."

What a joy it was to have ample time ahead.

There was still plenty of time in their lifetime for them to tour around the country, leave footsteps in every part of the world, and spend their lives together, even till their hair paled white.

Even though the wheel of reincarnation spun and spun, never would they part.

Author's note:

With this, the series is completed! There will be two extras; one on Junior Gu and Little Zhong, and the other on Junior Ji and Senior Liang. 

This series can be considered my first completed piece. I've written it just to relieve myself of stress.

Initially, I've only plotted up till the third or fourth chapter, but to my surprise, there's a bunch of little cuties waiting for updates! So I braced myself, writing as I planned out the story. And finally, I got it out.

Special thanks to all my cute readers. If not for you all, this series would've been chucked away long ago to collect dust (and yet I have the cheek to say that here!)

But also, since I had no outline of the story and wrote as I plotted, the novel has quite a few flaws. For example, some parts of it are too fast paced, the change in events too sudden, the details not well-knitted, as well as the frequent typos... so my apologies to all of you. Thank you for forgiving that.

Chapter 30: Extra - Ji ChangYun's understanding

Winter had fallen a tad too swiftly on Festive Sun County, churning out two to three snowfalls before even the end of October.

Although Liang Zheng was immune to cold since he had already elevated to the golden core stage, he still habitually stomped his feet while exhaling out onto his palms.

As always, Ji ChangYun donned the iconic white robes of Mount Jade Dwelling, his stature as straight as a bamboo.

He eyed the abandoned house in front of him, a light wrinkle knitted between his brows.

"This is the place."

Despite not having the level of prosperity Long River City possessed, citizens lived in peaceful bliss in the small county that was Festive Sun.

However, the winter of this year was an exception, when three to four missing cases arose continually all of a sudden.

Since officials and citizens found no traces even after scouring every spot, rumors of a man-eating monster lurking their midst began circulating.

Contacting cultivators was a natural course of action when facing monsters.

After a series of searches, the magistrate finally came in contact with Mount Jade Dwelling.

Liang Zheng caught a whiff of the faint wisp of scent, "It's a demonic cultivator?

Ji ChangYun nodded, "Now that the demonic cult lost a suitable lord to back them up, their standing is not as great as before, so they dared not to roam the central plains arbitrarily. But occasionally, some of them do take the risk. Since they do not dare to kill cultivators, they opted to absorb civilians' souls for their cultivation."

As a frown began forming on Liang Zheng, both of them set foot together into the house.

To prevent causing disturbance to the citizens, the two usually started their task when the sky darkened.

The house wasn't all that large. At the north of the house was its hall, while both east and west had three rooms within them each. Under the veil of night, a creepy vibe blanketed all of the rooms.

The two parted ways, investigating each room one by one.

Situated in the west, Liang Zheng was just about to open the door of the third room when a long sword burst forth from the door, lunging straight at his chest!

He instantly dodged sideways before unsheathing his sword and hacked it down, forcing his assailant away.

Ji ChangYun had whizzed over by that time, his sword smashing down the door in one strike!

Within the room was an emaciated demonic cultivator with reddened eyes.

Finding no way out of the situation, the demonic cultivator decided to lunge over at Liang Zheng!

Liang Zheng whizzed backwards, taking a few steps back before launching his sword forward.

Similarly, Ji ChangYun drew his sword and thrust it over to his opponent's chest.

The elimination of a demonic cultivator was a piece of cake for both of them, who were in the late stage of lesser vehicle level and middle stage of golden core level.

With both swords piercing through the demonic cultivator's chest at the same time, the demonic cultivator was reduced to mist at once, dispersing away.

Both of them pushed the door open and entered the room.

Ji ChangYun recited an incantation, lighting up a small nook of the room.
It was a bedroom. The few skeletons scattered all over it were broken into unrecognisable pieces, most likely the remains of the civilians who got their essence and blood absorbed away.

Ji ChangYun tidied the bones to confirm the number of victims.

Liang Zheng shifted his line of sight due to the unpleasantness welling up in him, just to notice a white bone poking out under a study that he shot a glimpse on.

It was probably the remains of yet another innocent civilian.
After letting out a light sigh, he walked over to the table, planning on tidying the remains.

However, just as he bent down, all of a sudden, a dagger from underneath the table charged right towards his face!

Never did Liang Zheng expect another demonic cultivator to be around!

Unlike how highly alerted he was moments ago when he was investigating the rooms, the present Liang Zheng was caught entirely off guard.

The only subconscious reaction he managed to counter with was to lean back and dodge the attack.

Seeing that the strike was dodged, the attacker slid the dagger instantly to his neck!

All of that happened in just a blink of an eye.

Liang Zheng swept a glance with his peripheral vision, inferring from the blue on the dagger's blade that there might be poison on it.

Still, having nowhere to escape, he could only look on as the nearing dagger threatened to slit his throat.

Just then, a gust of sword energy blazed over with surging aura, slashing right down on the dagger.

Liang Zheng whizzed backwards in retreat, while Ji ChangYun struck again, slitting open his opponent's neck.

Only when the demonic cultivator Liang Zheng had his eyes focused on was reduced to powder did Liang Zheng realise the cold sweat drenching his forehead.

Ji ChangYun asked, his countenance darkened a little, "Are you alright? "

Pulled back to his senses, Liang Zheng answered in haste, "Yeah. "

Learning from their past mistake, both of them went over the house with a fine-tooth comb, but they didn't part ways this time.

Instead of letting Liang Zheng take the lead, Ji ChangYun only had him following behind.

As always, Liang Zheng didn't question his Junior Ji's actions despite not knowing why he did so.

By the time the two got out of the house and got onto the streets, the snow had already stopped.

Noticing Ji ChangYun's expression still hadn't eased up, Liang Zheng gave a careful apology, "I'm sorry, Junior. I was too rash."

Following which, he attempted to loosen up the atmosphere hanging between them, "We've been practising cultivation together for more than twenty years, but Master has always said I'm inferior to Junior spiritually. See? Fancy me being so careless tonight."

Although he was belittling himself, once he mentioned Ji ChangYun being spiritually superior, a habitual proudness rose in his tone.

Ji ChangYun asked while casting a glance at him, "Senior Brother did nothing wrong, so why apologise?"

Awkwardness crept onto Liang Zheng's face, "Wasn't Junior Brother angry at this?"

Ji ChangYun shook his head before changing the subject out of the blue, "Does Senior Brother still remember Gu Xuan Yan and Qin MingXi?"

Liang Zheng was stunned. "Of course."

"During the time on the icy plains, Senior Brother said, for the special someone he cherishes the most, everything else is mere dust in his eyes. That is how Gu XuanYan sees Qin MingXi."

Not expecting Ji ChangYun to mention this, Liang Zheng only recalled telling him that after a short while. He couldn't help scratching his head sheepishly as he whispered, "I pulled it out of thin air. Didn't Junior Brother disagree with it then? Why mention it now all so suddenly?"

Ji ChangYun's eyes fell on Liang Zheng's face, his tone calm and still.

"Because I sort of get it today."

Frozen in shock, Liang Zheng lifted his head and his eyes met with Ji ChangYun's.

Insuppressible redness bloomed on his face as he stammered, "Ju-Junior Ji..."

Liang Zheng's outrageously red face went up in flames, the blush on him blazing over to the tips of his ears.

He lifted his gaze at Ji ChangYun, facing a pair of eyes which glittered in the snowy night, as if it was soaked in a pool of bright autumn waters.

Under the eyes of Ji ChangYun, he lowered his head in a flurry again.

Moments later, Ji ChangYun withdrew his gaze and headed forward, his tone just like the fallen snow on the long street.

"Let's go home."

A lone, bright moon suspended on the dark sky in the deep of the night. Not a single soul trod the streets then; only the northern wind was rolling over the night lanterns on the eaves of the houses. A layer of snow sat on the ground, reflecting the light of the moon in silence.

Upon noticing Liang Zheng wasn't following behind after walking a few steps forward, Ji ChangYun stopped a short distance away and turned around.

He stood in the street with his eyes on Liang Zheng, neither speaking up to rush him nor having any shred of impatience within himself.

In opposition, Liang Zheng jogged forward hurriedly to Ji ChangYun's side, as if abruptly awakened from a dream.

As the two continued forward, the lingering heat was still stuck on Liang Zheng's face. In contrast, Ji ChangYun remained as expressionless as ever, as though the previous conversation was just a hallucination Liang Zheng had in the snowy night.

However, a brief moment later, Liang Zheng's hand was held.

His face heated up again, but instead of shifting his line of sight to look at the person next to him, he had his eyes on the street ahead.

As the year drew to its close, the setting in of chilliness brought about flurries of snow onto the long stretch of streets.

Still, with someone by the side, there will be a moment in time to catch the sunrise together.
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