Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“Cough! Cough, cough!”
It was just a few coughs, but Youqin Xuanya felt pain all over her body. This caused Youqin Xuanya to jolt awake from her sleep.
‘Where am I?’
Youqin Xuanya sat up cautiously. A hint of red glow appeared in her black eyes, causing the dark cave to become as well-lit as if it were exposed to broad daylight. Everything became clear to her.
It was natural for cultivators like her, who were in the Fourth Stage of Void Return, to be able to see in the dark. There was no need for her to learn special techniques to do so.
The first thing she saw was the huge, round boulder at the mouth of the cave. The boulder had probably been dug out from the ground—it looked one with the rest of the cave. The little gap that it left allowed a bit of light through.
It must have been night time as the light rays looked extremely dim.
Youqin Xuanya released her spiritual awareness and found that there were several poisonous beasts within kilometers of her. However, apart from her, there were no other humans.
‘Have I been saved?’
Several images surfaced in her heart. Many thieves had surrounded her. Youqin Xuanya had been captured after a bitter fight, but while the enemies had been preparing poison, she had found a chance to slip away. That was when she retrieved the Life-Saving Talisman from her Master and escaped 500 kilometers away.
Youqin Xuanya could not choose her destination. It was an extremely risky move, but she had landed in a place where it had been pouring. In the heavy rain, she had seen a Senior Brother whom she had met only recently.
‘Did he save me?’
Not far away from her hand, Youqin Xuanya saw two stacks of talismans and a couple of porcelain bottles. She was shocked.
Then, Youqin Xuanya looked down at her body. Her normally pale, fair face suddenly flushed red. Gently, she bit her delicate, thin lip.
What a pity. An extreme beauty like her was looking uncharacteristically shy and bashful. Yet, there was no one around to appreciate the view.
Li Changshou had already left a long time ago.
Youqin Xuanya became so shy because the wounds all around her body had already been treated and bandaged.
The bandages were the Blood-Stopping Qi-Gathering Bands distributed to the Immortal Du Sect’s disciples. These were made out of linen infused with various types of herbs and medicines.
Speaking truthfully, the bandaging was done quite perfectly. The insides of the Blood-Stopping Qi-Gathering Bands were even smeared with spirit ointment used for treating poisoned wounds. Currently, most of her wounds had mostly recovered. It was just that the pain had not yet subsided.
However, the wounds in her shoulder and below her left rib were particularly deep. What’s more, the bandage went across her chest. This meant that the person had to remove the top part of her dress by sliding it off her shoulders.
Youqin Xuanya suddenly lifted up her right hand to slap herself across the cheek. With a strong voice, she said, “Senior Brother Changshou saved my life. He also dressed my wounds so patiently. How can I doubt my Senior Brother’s character?”
Calm and peace were quickly recovered in her gaze. She surveyed herself internally and found that her aura had stabilized. Overall, the wounds in her body were recovering well.
It was obvious that someone had adjusted her aura.
Youqin Xuanya tilted her head to look at the place where she was lying down earlier. There was a neat stack of sheepskin, which had been placed under her head as a pillow. There was also some blood on it, which looked like a line of words.
She picked it up to study it closely, and found a line of words, as well a simple map.
‘We are from the same sect. It is not a big deal to help one another out. This place is 1,000 kilometers from the Chaos Treasure Forest. Below is a map. You can make a detour to leave this place.
‘Make survival your priority. There are Miasma-Repelling Talismans, Track-Concealing Talismans, Detoxifying Pills, and Essence-Nurturing Pills beside you.
‘Junior Sister, I’ll give you a word of advice: There is no knowing what is in a man’s heart. Do not trust others so easily. The road ahead is dangerous. I hope you will take good care of yourself.
‘—Written by a man who does not want to leave his name.’
Youqin Xuanya blinked as she reread the last line. There was a deeper meaning hidden within.
Suddenly, the words flashed lighter and darker. A few seconds later, they disappeared completely. The good thing was that the map below had not been enchanted in the same way as the words were. The drawings and scale of the map were quite detailed. He had even marked out Youqin Xuanya’s current location.
It was worth mentioning that the path marked out on the map was completely opposite from the path that Li Changshou had taken.
‘Senior Brother Changshou is a considerate and kind man.’
Youqin Xuanya frowned subtly, rolled up the sheepskin, and put it away. A serious expression appeared on her face as she muttered, “There is no use thanking you in words for this big favor. If Xuanya survives this, I will give my all to repay Senior Brother.”
Once she finished speaking, she gave a Dao salute to the sheepskin and kept the map.
She lowered her head and saw that a Miasma-Repelling Talisman and Track-Concealing Talisman were stuck on her shoulder. At that moment, both of them were still effective. There was no need to change them yet.
After packing the pills and talismans, Youqin Xuanya began to adjust her aura, so that she was once again at her peak state.
Her huge sword was lying in the corner. The spirit glow around it was recovering as well.
Slowly, two figures appeared in her heart. The one on the left was her so-called childhood friend, Yuan Qing. He had joined the sect at the same time as she did and would appear whenever she needed help.
Long ago, Youqin Xuanya had realized that the person who had grown up and joined the sect with her was not as simple as he appeared. That was why she had purposely been maintaining a distance all this time.
However, she had not expected to find an evil, incorrigible man underneath the kind, warm disguise he had been putting on every single day!
‘What happened over these few days? There is no knowing one man’s heart. Senior Brother Changshou’s words were true indeed.’
At that thought, Youqin Xuanya laughed mirthlessly. All of a sudden, the world seemed like such a cold place. She was infuriated, but also extremely lost.
Yet, among the two people who appeared in her heart, the one on the right looked quite blurry and faint at first. However, he became clearer as time went by. It was just the side view of someone turning around and a back view that she had a deeper impression of.
Before this Priming Meet, Xuanya had never met Senior Brother Changshou. When she had found out that a cultivator in the Ninth Stage of Soul Formation was going to the North Continent to look for herbs, she had felt shocked.
The thing that had left the deepest impression on Youqin Xuanya was that this Senior Brother had a disease that would make him convulse every time he came into contact with women.
‘Wait! Senior Brother Changshou has an illness like that, and yet he endured the pain of the convulsions and the frothing to treat more than ten of my wounds!’
This was a display of utter selflessness and righteousness!
In her mind, Youqin Xuanya filled in the gaps in her memory with her imagination: In the dark, narrow cave, a certain Senior Brother was trembling and panting. His limbs were deformed, and his expression was twisted with pain, and yet his eyes remained resolute. He extended a helping hand to her…
Youqin Xuanya slapped herself once again.
‘Senior Brother endured the pain to treat me! How dare I doubt his character earlier?! Youqin Xuanya, when did you become so despicable?’
Youqin Xuanya bit her lip and gave another Dao salute to the sheepskin map.
“If I have the opportunity to repay Senior Brother Changshou in the future, I must not be stingy, and I must not hesitate.”
As she made this promise out loud, Youqin Xuanya’s gaze became more resolute. She packed her items and raised her hand to grip the handle of her sword.
Youqin Xuanya went into a half-kneeling position, as her bloodied dress spread out around her. With her left hand, she held up the tip of her sword and made it stand erect in front of her. Her aura began to surge and tremble at once!
Youqin Xuanya would expose Yuan Qing and repay Senior Brother Changshou, the kind, and righteous man. She would send a message to His Majesty, her father, and make him beware of these wretched traitors!
Youqin Xuanya’s right hand, which maintained a tight grip around the handle of the sword, began to flash fiery-red.
“Nine Spirit-Gathering Essence, Thousand Mind-Strengthening Lotus!” she shouted in a low voice, and her huge sword emitted beams of fiery-red light. Clear patterns appeared overhead, and the scratches on the sword disappeared one by one.
Youqin Xuanya’s long hair danced around as fiery-red lotuses appeared around her, lighting up her delicate skin and starry eyes.
“Immortals are in the north, and men are in the south. The Heavens swallow clouds of fire, and the glory of the four seas are extraordinary! Fire Lin Sword Case! Open!”
There were three resounding ‘clanks’, resonating with all the swords within five kilometers!
The boulder at the mouth of the cave exploded, and a fiery-red figure shot out of the cave. Tens of flying swords revolved around her!
After flying hundreds of feet, Youqin Xuanya got rid of the fiery-red glow around her body and quickly disappeared into the dense, dark forest. She turned to face the south-west first, and then sped up toward the north-east direction!
‘According to my instincts, I should be heading in the south-west direction. As long as I follow the directions Senior Brother Changshou left for me, I should be able to avoid those evil thieves. I must! Survive!”
Presently, 300 kilometers north of the cave where Youqin Xuanya was hidden, Li Changshou was climbing up a cliff, carefully inspecting the Miasma-Qi-filled cracks.
After working for half a day, Li Changshou could only shake his head and leave. This meant that he had not gained anything from this area, which the ancient texts described as a place with Immortal-Emancipating Herbs.
Li Changshou found a plain and sat down cross-legged. He pulled out a dagger and began to draw a map on the ground of the areas where he had searched. Then, he fell into deep thought.
He would head north and continue searching for three more days.
He had expended so much effort, and yet he could not find the Immortal-Emancipating Herb. Naturally, he felt indignant. After all, he had spent so much time preparing for this searching trip to the North Continent beforehand.
“Keep trying!” He slapped his knee and stood up, heading towards the north. In the night, he only left shadows behind him.
Perhaps due to the heavy rain the day before, gaps had appeared in the Miasma Qi in this region. Coincidentally, the moonlight shone through the gaps and lit up the path in front of Li Changshou.
The cultural hipster in Li Changshou acted up. He found a good spot, where he could remain hidden, and basked in the moonlight, appreciating the moon.
‘Ah, the moon is so long…
‘Heh, the shape is so white…
‘Ah, the crescent moon is round and big…’
As the poisonous fog traveled towards him, the rare moonlight disappeared.
‘Older Brother, is this getting old?’
Li Changshou raised his eyebrows and shook his head, laughing. Then, he stood up and advanced forward, becoming one with the night.
Dao companions and whatnot—having those would be even scarier than having a Junior Sister. It would be a nuclear warhead of unstable karma…
He could not afford it and dared not think about it.
What’s more, compared to Youqin Xuanya, an extremely beautiful cultivator in his generation who had a complicated background, Li Changshou felt that he would feel much safer being with a strong female immortal like Aunt-Master Jiu Jiu.