Chapter 26: Settling the Aftermath
Zhou Wang kept persistently inquiring Xu Xingzhi about exactly which daoist immortal captured him away ever since the group had resumed their journey.
Xu Xingzhi answered in deadly earnest, “A man with a very hairy chest.”
After all, it wasn’t a glorious thing to be molested by a woman. Xu Xingzhi thought that if he told his disgraceful story truthfully, Zhou Beinan would mock him by regurgitating this story for at least a year.
Zhou Wang was curious. “Why did he capture you?”
Xu Xingzhi smoothly replied, “He is a subordinate of the Sealed Mountain’s leader and wished to avenge his lord.”
Zhou Wang: “Then why did you change your outfit?”
Xu Xingzhi: “My original outfit got dirty, so Meng Chongguang lent his clothes for me to wear.”
Xu Xingzhi had already seized the initiative to continue without waiting for Zhou Wang to raise any further questions. “Are you curious about why I’m still unharmed even though the person captured me for revenge?”
Zhou Wang nodded.
Xu Xingzhi spread the fan which he had dropped on the river bank with a swish and disdainfully proclaimed, “You have so many questions.”
Zhou Wang: “…”
Lu Yujiu, who had been listening to their conversation till now, couldn’t control himself anymore. “Hahahaha.”
Zhou Beinan hastily walked up to the group and told Zhou Wang, “Don’t engage in any further conversation with this man. That mouth of his is just asking to be sewn shut.”
Xu Xingzhi: “…I heard that.”
Zhou Beinan sneered. “Am I afraid of you hearing me?”
Xu Xingzhi picked up a lump of dirt from the ground, turned around and threw it backward.
Zhou Beinan subconsciously stretched his hand to block it, but it went straight through the back of his hand and head, and ended up splattering onto the ground.
Zhou Beinan frowned. “Xu Xingzhi, do you have nothing better to do?”
Xu Xingzhi said with a smile, “Seeing that you are in a bad mood, so I just made some chit chat. I just wanted to cheer you up.”
Zhou Beinan: “…Get lost, who’s in a bad mood?”
Xu Xingzhi used his fan to scratch the red mark that looked like a hickey. “Ever since we left the tower, you have either been quiet or were just talking weirdly…when have you been like this when you are in a good mood?”
Zhou Beinan didn’t continue the conversation with Xu Xingzhi. He walked ahead, alone with his spear.
While Xu Xingzhi was bewildered at this, Lu Yujiu went over to him.
He told Xu Xingzhi, “Senior Brother Xu, don’t mind him. He just has a young master’s temper.”
“I’m fine.” Xu Xingzhi waved his fan. He wouldn’t haggle about this sort of trivial matter. “Does he have something on his mind?”
Lu Yujiu suppressed his voice and answered, “…He met his demise at Tiger Leaping Stream back then.”
Xu Xingzhi frowned. “Do you know what happened to him?”
“I don’t know either.” Lu Yujiu answered, “He was near the vicinity of Tiger Leaping Stream when I found him. At that time, his soul stone had left his body and was on the verge of dissipating at any moment. I asked him about it after saving him, but perhaps he had experienced a very severe stimulation, he doesn’t remember anything before his death, and because his soul isn’t intact, he is missing half of his power. He has always felt stifled, unable to recover back to his former state. Ever since he knows that we are going to the Tiger Leaping Stream, it has become a sore point for him.”
At this point, he clasped his hands together and said softly, “Senior Brother Xu, don’t blame him. He doesn’t mean to target you…”
Xu Xingzhi smiled. “You are protecting him.”
Lu Yujiu pursed his lip, and that half revealed baby face under the ghost mask became a slightly flushed bean paste bun. “Between him and I… in fact, there were more times he had protected me.”
Xu Xingzhi looked at Lu Yujiu’s uncontrollably flaunting expression and couldn’t help smiling. “Don’t you have several more ghost servants? I saw them on my first day in the wilderness. They were all wearing Qingliang Valley’s uniform. Why don’t they wander around like Zhou Beinan?”
“Those are some of my senior brothers’ broken souls that I’d found.” At this juncture, the flush on Lu Yujiu’s face had faded and that white round face grew serious. “Zhou Beinan is the most complete soul I have amongst my ghost servants, he can come out on his own accord and maintain his form without exhausting my essence; as for my senior brothers, their soul stones are too damaged, it is tough for them to even come out. If I allow them to come out as they wish, it will deplete too much of my essence.”
Xu Xingzhi knew that there was a symbiotic relationship between a ghost servant and its master. One side needed to be branded and pledge allegiance to the ghost master, while the other side provided essence for the ghost servant to survive.
The more advanced the ghost master’s cultivation was, the more ghost servants he could control. In the heyday of Mingya Nation, many proficient ghost cutitivation practitioners could even control millions of ghost troops.
In contrast, two of the three small fry under Lu Yujiu were really in a bit of a shabby condition.
Xu Xingzhi then made a joke, “Qingliang Valley has so many rules. If you control your senior brothers arbitrarily, aren’t you afraid of White Haired Wen’s reprimand?”
Upon mentioning said person, Lu Yujiu became silent.
Xu Xingzhi calmly observed Lu Yujiu’s reaction.
He had intentionally asked this question.
In the original owner’s memories, the four peers, Xu Xingzhi, Zhou Beinan, Qu Chi and Wen Xuechen, were considered to be outstanding talents back then. And between them, Wen Xuechen loathed non-daoist methods. He was a righteous and rigid man, unlike the original owner’s unruly conduct, Qu Chi’s soft temperament, and Zhou Beinan’s rashness.
If Xu Xingzhi had to name someone who never participated in the incidents that unfolded thirteen years ago, Wen Xuechen was definitely the only person he could think of.
But relying on the original owner’s fragmented memories to complete the truth those years would be a difficult task, so Xu Xingzhi really wanted to obtain a piece of accurate information from Lu Yujiu.
Did Wen Xuechen participate in the rebellion those years? At this juncture, was he hiding in the wilderness or outside?
After some time, Lu Yujiu moodily gave an answer. “I believe Senior Brother Wen is no longer in the world.”
Xu Xingzhi was really flabbergasted now, and his tone raised slightly. “En?”
Lu Yujiu asked back, “Senior Brother, you haven’t heard about Senior Brother Wen’s news ever since you were exiled thirteen years, right?”
Xu Xingzhi thought, …something must have gone wrong if I managed to hear any news.
Thus, he shook his head.
Lu Yujiu’s eyes beneath the mask dimmed.”…Is that so? I thought so too.”
Not only did he not get any answer, but he was left feeling even more confused. Xu Xingzhi no longer asked but watched Lu Yujiu chase after Zhou Beinan who was in front.
Just when he was about to sort out the information he obtained from Lu Yujiu, a hand grabbed his left sleeve from behind while another hand came from his back and stroked his chin.
Meng Chongguang whispered at his nape, “Did Senior Brother have a nice chat with him? What did you two talk about?”
The warm puffs of breath coming from him made Xu Xingzhi’s neck feel itchy. “…Just some idle talk.”
“Just some idle talk, yet it was so long.Meng Chongguang felt aggrieved. “But even if Senior Brother isn’t willing to talk to me any longer, Chongguang also wants to talk to Senior Brother.”
Xu Xingzhi slapped away the hand fiddling with his chin. “Such impudence. Fine. I’ll talk to you, what do you want to hear?”
Meng Chongguang happily moved in front of him and asked with his hands clasped behind his back. “I want to know what Senior Brother and Lu Yujiu talked about just now.”
Xu Xingzhi: “…We didn’t talk about anything.”
Meng Chongguang was even more aggrieved. “Senior Brother is lying. You two just talked about Zhou Beinan, ghost servants and Wen Xuechen. How can you say nothing?”
Xu Xingzhi almost spat a mouthful of blood. “…Why did you still ask about it when you already heard it?”
Meng Chongguang’s eyes were shimmering with sincerity. “I want Senior Brother to tell me again, I want to listen to his voice.”
Xu Xingzhi thought that this old demon was really finicky. Who made him like this?
As he thought about it, he said, “Just now Lu Yujiu came to tell me not to argue with Zhou Beinan…”
They talked as they walked along, and so, several people walked for nearly three hours.
Zhou Wang was young and could not undertake the heavy responsibility to search for the key fragments, hence, she had always been staying behind to guard the tower. This was her first time out of the tower.
She saw many scenes she had never seen before. Although there was a layer of mist around, and the barren and yellow cracked land that seemed to be stretched unlimitedly, she still ran around happily, folded several colored petals, and clumsily made a flower crown for Qu Chi and Tao Xian.
Eventually, the party decided to rest in a cave at the bottom of the cliff and sleep for a few hours before setting off again.
Everyone looked around for dry grass to make their bed.
About a quarter of an hour after Qu Chi set out, he dragged back a dead deer shaped monster with human teeth.
He said to Tao Xiao, “For you.”
Tao Xian laughed. “Is this all mine?”
Qu Chi nodded. “It’s all yours.”
Tao Xian patiently advised, “Senior Brother Qu, I can’t eat so much all by myself. Why don’t we share this with everyone?”
Qu Chi looked around the crowd and resolutely said, “No, this is all yours.”
After that, he went out and dragged in two more strange looking monsters. “…These are for them.”
He secretively approached Tao Xian and lowered his voice. “Yours is better looking than those two. I hunted it specially for you.”
However, him lowering his voice was futile, everyone in this cave heard him clearly.
Seeing Xu Xingzhi who was at one side turning green from enduring his laughter, Tao Xian’s small white face turned red.
He also imitated Qu Chi’s appearance, lowered his voice and solemnly replied, “…Hmm. Thank you, Senior Brother Qu.”
Qu Chi gently smiled and stroked Tao Xian’s hair.
Those who practiced Daoism needed to get rid of the desire of their stomachs, and everyone there, besides Xu Xingzhi and Tao Xian, had long succeeded in cultivating abstention. However, it was still a rare occasion to be able to get together for a meal.
Zhou Wang and Skeleton Girl set up the fire. Xu Xingzhi and Meng Chongguang went out of the cave to pick and choose a few branches with rich fruit flavor.
Once the meat had been smoked and roasted, it became the most delicious food in the world.
Xu Xingzhi took a lot of lake water from a nearby salt lake and steamed it on the shelf with the pot stored in Meng Chongguang’s ring.
Upon boiling of the lake water, light white particles gradually precipitated at the edge of the pot.
Xu Xingzhi scraped off the condensed salt with washed tree scraps and took it to Zhou Wang. “Do you know what this is?”
Zhou Wang shook her head.
Xu Xingzhi smiled. “You have been cultivating since you were a child, naturally you don’t know what this is. Try it.”
Zhou Wang looked at the white crystal he held in front of her eyes before cautiously dipping her finger into it and brought it to her mouth. She frowned slightly, trying to find a suitable description among all the senses she knew to articulate its taste.
After some consideration, she finally found a similar flavor. “…Bitter.”
Xu Xingzhi patted her on the head. “Senior Brother Xu will teach you, this is called ‘salty’. You don’t have to remember it. I’ll cook more dishes later and you’ll know what salty is.”
After that, he said to himself, “The nectar in the wild is so bitter that it can’t be eaten. I’ll see if I can find something sweet, and then I’ll teach you what ‘sweet’ is.”
Zhou Wang was stunned.
She didn’t expect that Xu Xingzhi would take the trouble to teach her what ‘salty’ and ‘sweet’ were.
After a long time, she said softly, “…Thank you, Senior Brother Xu.”
Meng Chongguang who was squatted by the fire looked at Xu Xingzhi with fervent eyes that were even more intense than the fire.
Skeleton Girl also smiled before she fed the firewood to the burning fire, and it made a crackling sound.
Tao Xian sat in the cave and made a bed together with Qu Chi.
Lu Yujiu, who had nothing to do, looked around for a while before he walked out of the cave and went straight along the mountain path to a cliff not far away.
Zhou Beinan was indeed over there.
Hearing the footsteps, he guessed who it was. “How do you know I’m here?”
Lu Yujiu raised his chin slightly. “Your eyes are my eyes. Of course I know where my ghost servants are.”
Zhou Beinan smiled and didn’t speak.
“It’s not that I don’t care about you either…” Lu Yujiu rubbed his foot against the ground. “If you don’t want to go to the Tiger Leaping Steam, I can go back with you…”
Zhou Beinan had one leg on the cliff while the other was on the ground, , which was exactly like the sitting habit of Zhou Wang. “Even if I have to endure being ridiculed by Xu Xingzhi all my life, I still want to know how I died at that time.”
“What could you do with that knowledge?” Lu Yujiu racked his brain to think of comforting words as he sat down beside Zhou Beinan, “If that memory was not that painful, your soul would not have been shattered…”
“But it’s not a long-term plan to have only half of my power as it is now.” Zhou Beinan looked at Lu Yujiu. “You are my ghost master. I have to give you face.”
Lu Yujiu: “…I don’t want it…”
Before he could continue, he was embraced by Zhou Beinan.
Lu Yujiu was caught off guard and stammered, “You… you, what are you doing?”
Lu Yujiu’s stature was too small. When he was held in the arms by the tall Zhou Beinan, Zhou Beinan could even easily put his chin on his head.
Zhou Beinan’s tone was no longer so violent, instead it sounded like fog enveloped by a layer of fluff. “…I want to replenish my essence.”
Lu Yujiu wanted to struggle out of his arms, but he was stopped by Zhou Beinan’s soft voice. “Don’t move.”
Lu Yujiu: “I need to take out the talisman to replenish your essence…”
Zhou Beinan said, “Holding you is enough.”
Lu Yujiu turned into a steamed shrimp. “…You, you are bold, I am your master.”
Zhou Beinan said, “I know, I am your ghost servant… I am no longer the eldest son of Yingtian Island.”
Lu Yujiu lost his voice and hesitated for a long time. He then threw his head into Zhou Beinan’s arms and said resignedly, “…Just for a while.”
Zhou Beinan smiled. “Okay.”
His gaze landed on the hazy sky and fell in the direction of the Tiger Leaping Stream, and it never moved away after that.
In the hall of Fengling mountain at this time.
Wen Xuechen kneaded his temple with one hand with an extremely cold expression. “…That’s what happened. I only brought back two people. There’s no one in the tower. I have tried to find out where they might go with my spiritual power, but Meng Chongguang left traces of his spiritual power in all directions, so I can’t figure out where they are heading.”
On the high platform was Jiu Zhideng still dressed up as he used to be in the past. The long, green headband made his hair look as dark as ebony, and under this condition, his face also looked even more pale and cold. “Is Senior Brother really not in the tower?”
Wen Xuechen asked, “Did you not hear what I said?”
Jiu Zhideng stood up and paced back and forth. “Head back to the wilderness again.”
Wen Xuechen: “Why?”
Jiu Zhideng carefully calculated. “Go and send some melon seed snacks, and then send some clean cyan blue and white cloth. Senior Brother loves these two colors, just put them at the gate of the tower.”
Wen Xuechen: “…What are you doing?”
Jiu Zhideng couldn’t calm down. “They will have to go back eventually. Senior Brother likes these things. He will be able to use them as soon as he goes back…”
Wen Xuechen didn’t speak. He just looked at Jiu Zhideng as he sat on his wheelchair.
In that pair of eyes filled with boundless coldess, the originally anxious Jiu Zhideng finally looked slightly less agitated.
He sat back in his seat and thought for a long time. “…There’s no need for that for the time being.”
Wen Xuechen had just breathed a sigh of relief when he heard Jiu Zhideng saying, “I will head to the wilderness to find Senior Brother.”
“You can’t go.” Wen Xuechen was astonished, “Have you gone crazy? Who will deal with the four sects’ affairs if you enter the wilderness? With Xu Xingzhi at Meng Chongguang’s side, would Meng Chongguang still harm him? Moreover, do you even know where they are? The wilderness is vast, where are you going to find him?”
Jiu Zhideng coldly said, “Even a second more of Senior Brother staying by Meng Chongguang’s side makes me disgusted.”
Seeing Jiu Zhideng’s resolute attitude, Wen Xuechen’s eyes darkened for a second before he stiffly forced out these three words. “…I will go.”
After saying that, he looked down at his hands and laughed bitterly. “Back then I wasn’t able to eliminate those traitors with my own hands. Thirteen years have gone by, it’s time to end the mess now.”
This chapter has been edited by fingerguns.
And clearly I goes around making empty promises! What a trash human! So let me just inform you guys that I am 1/3 done with the next chapter at this moment. This chapter is around 3.1k words long, so using this chapter as reference, I have translated 1k words for C27! 2k more to go!