Jiang Zheliu had just washed up, he hadn’t even tied up his hair yet. He was thinking about what he could grow once Zhongnan Mountain’s winter was over……He was mid-thought, when he heard the patter of the little deer’s hooves.
He had only just entered when his gaze fell upon Jiang Zheliu, he went up to him to take a better look, and then blinked a few times, before saying: “Shenxian gege!”
Ah-Chu stood in front of Jiang Zheliu. The pair of antlers on his head were almost translucent. At the tip of the antlers there was a small area that had faint blood red veins as if they were not fully grown and if touched would be very painful. His legs had not completely transformed yet, so he still had a pair of deer hooves.
“Shenxian gege.” Ah-Chu’s eyes shone brightly as he approached, he seemed to be a bit more courageous than Chang Qian. “You are really good-looking, you’re even better looking than I imagined.”
Jiang Zheliu watched him attentively for a while. Looking at the unmistakable look of sincerity on Chu’s face, he was silent for a few breaths and then said: “Do you want to cultivate in Zhongnan Mountain?”
Ah-Chu nodded very seriously and said: “I will serve gege well.”
Jiang Zheliu said: “I don’t have any more spiritual energy. I’m weak and ill, I’m no longer the Immortal Sect Leader I was before. You probably won’t be able to learn anything from me.”
“As long as Shenxian gege can occasionally give me some guidance in my cultivation, it’s enough!” The little deer blinked. He moved closer as if unintentionally, his slender eyelashes were on full display in front of Jiang Zheliu, and his breath spread slowly in the air. His face exhibiting an obedient look.
He seemed to be well-behaved, as if he would serve well. His manners could easily convince the youthful Chang Qian, this little naive snake demon. But Jiang Zheliu wasn’t completely convinced.
But Jiang Zheliu didn’t care either, just as he could tolerate Wenren Ye being his neighbour. His attitude towards many things was “okay”, “why not”, and “all is fine”, which was enough to also tolerate this deer demon that seemed to have an ulterior motive but overall seemed harmless.
This devil looked the same as usual, wearing a black robe with crimson coloured threading pattern on the lining, purple eyes and he was still brimming with unusual emotion.
The smell of pine and cypress entered the air, carrying with it the stench of battle and death.
Wenren Ye saw that Jiang Zheliu had just got out of bed. He took the comb from Chang Qian’s hand very casually and naturally and began to brush through his snow-white fragile hair with his fingers.
His fingers were cold, bringing a slight chill with his touch.
His movements were extremely smooth, so smooth that even the Devil Lord himself was not aware. After he grasped the other’s hair in his hands, he realized that this was the first time he had combed Jiang Zheliu’s hair. The ruthlessness that he exhibited as the Lord of the Devil Realm completely dissipated and instead his heart began to beat and throb violently, to the point of sheer embarrassment.
——If he didn’t do a good job with his hair, he was afraid he’d be rejected by his former opponent.
And… what if he accidentally hurts him.
Wenren Ye’s hands were moving very fast, faster than his mind. Although his mind was in chaos and he was being ridiculously over-cautious, the movements of his hands were not slow at all.
Jiang Zheliu was worried for no more than two seconds before his good neighbour tied up his snow-white hair and threaded a jade pin through his silver hair ornament.
While readying his hand for attack, Wenren Ye looked up at the deer demon and asked, “Who is this?”
“A little demon who wants me to take him in.” Jiang Zheliu said.
With the jade pin threaded through his silver ornament, the chill seemed to intensify.
Wenren Ye lowered his head closer, and whispered: “Then what about me, you haven’t taken me in yet.”
His breath and the scent of pine and cypress when he talked permeated the air, making the tips of Jiang Zheliu’s ears warm.
This is just a joke, but compared to demons, he had never liked people from the Devil Realm, this was a widely known fact.
Wenren Ye played along: “Yes, a bad guy.”
Ah-Chu was taken aback for a moment, he reached out his hand to touch his horn, and said, “But…but I am a male deer.”
Jiang Zheliu lowered his head to drink tea slowly, reached to pull out the book that he hadn’t finished reading last night, and said casually: “Boys should also be careful. Some bad guys like boys.”
The speaker spoke casually, but the listener was listening intently, a certain “bad guy” pondered over it and couldn’t stop himself from looking at the boy he liked.
Ah-Chu was stunned, nodding his head as if he understood. Then he went up and looked at what book Jiang Zheliu was reading, and when he saw the words written on the cover “Seven gege and one meimei, spoiled me to death”. His mind went blank and he muttered: “Could it be that the Cultivation World also has a habit of reading mortal books?”
Jiang Zheliu didn’t hide it at all and just casually turned the page and said, “Have you read this kind of material?”
Before Ah-Chu could answer, Wenren Ye who had been listening thought that there was something not right about this. He took the half of the book that was visible from Jiang Zheliu’s hands, first he flicked through it, he was taken aback for a moment, and then he turned back to the book cover.
The cover read -《Spiritualism of the Daoist Way》.
Wenren Ye paused for a moment, thinking about what he had seen Jiang Zheliu reading these last few days, books like 《The Book of Talismans》 and 《Nourishing Heart Technique》… He gave the book to Jiang Zheliu, raising his eyebrows: “The stuff you’re reading… how come they are popular folk stories, shouldn’t they be Immortal Daoist Classics?”
Jiang Zheliu glanced at him and said lightly: “What Immortal Classics, this is just the cover I put on it.”
“Naturally it’s for reading.” Jiang Zheliu looked at him strangely, as if he was explaining something that was painfully obvious. “The covers of these folk stories are very straightforward and obvious. If I read these at Ling Xiao Sect and the disciples saw it, wouldn’t it make young disciples curious, and delay their cultivation practice?”
Jiang Zheliu said it was too calmly as if he thought that it was completely ordinary, it seemed that he didn’t think what he had done was completely out of the ordinary.
Wenren Ye was stunned for a moment, not knowing what to say, and then he heard Jiang Zheliu say quietly: “This afternoon, I’m going to the Hot Springs to bathe. Could my good neighbour look after Ah-Chu and Chang Qian.”
Wenren Ye gazed at his thin frame and said coldly, “This good neighbour thinks that it’s more important to look after you, you look like you’d fall over with one push.”
One push and he’d fall?
Jiang Zheliu looked down and glanced over himself, and said casually: “If I fall, I just won’t get up again, and I’ll exhort ten million spiritual jade stones from your Devil Realm.”
He was only making a joke, but he didn’t expect to meet a pair of dark purple eyes in the next moment, staring at him intently and seriously, as if he was really interested.
“… Just ten million spiritual jade stones is all it takes?”
Jiang Zheliu was a little startled, feeling that the other party was leaning far too close, he lowered his head and covered his mouth, coughing lightly. Blocking out the other’s breath, which moistened the back of his hand and brought with it an unusual warmth.
“I’m just kidding and you still believed me.”
His voice has always been cold, it was only occasionally when he made jokes that people would feel more at ease. But at this time, his whole person was no longer so tightly strung. This kind of relaxed attitude was more than ten million times more relaxed than the Jiang Zheliu in the past who was holding on to Ling Xiao Sword with the world upon his shoulders.
This devil did not retreat but instead he moved even closer, so close that he could see the chilliness emanating from the other party’s body, as if he wanted to use him to suppress his own scorching body which was burning from head to toe. But Wenren Ye still got closer and said in a low voice: “If you say it, I believe it.”
There were several hot springs behind Zhongnan Mountain, which are almost never used because there are few residents in the mountains. But Wenren Ye had cleaned out this place for him.
Jiang Zheliu took off his robe, leaving only a thin undershirt on his body. He dipped himself into the water to explore his own body.
Although he no longer had any spiritual energy, he had still reached a certain point in his cultivation so he was still able to examine himself internally. At this moment, he looked inside his body, the more he looked, the more he felt that his meridians were damaged to an incredible extent. It could be said that the state of his meridians were a tragic sight without the least bit of rhythm.
When he repaired the Boundary Membrane, he encountered a huge impact. He went to repair it alone. His disciples from the Ling Xiao Sect should have arranged for assistance, but Zhu Wuxin was afraid the news would leak and they might be attacked by evil doers, so in the end, he went alone.
Jiang Zheliu was getting dizzy from the heat of the hot springs, he closed his eyes and reminisced on the past.
He had given Zhu Wuxin an opportunity, but it was also his shidi’s choice. Zhu Wuxin didn’t try his best to help him, causing his hair to turn white in an instant, to sustain serious injuries, but Jiang Zheliu accepted this readily.
He opened his eyes slightly and with the faint light he looked at the back of his hand, gazing intently at the calluses between his thin fingers made from wielding his sword. These calluses were made from the constant friction of gripping of the sword from training his cultivation, bleeding and then training again until these hands became pale and colourless.
He suddenly remembered the time when Zhu Wuxin was young, when he had just been accepted as a disciple. He was an orphan who had been taken in but he cultivated the hardest. Taking away the limelight from the others, he was always ridiculed by the other disciples, saying that he was a “b*stard with no mother nor father”. Zhu Wuxin was only four years old at the time, and was not very tall at the time, but he rushed out, like a fierce cat, standing in front of him to protect him.
He remembered Wuxin raising his little hand and cupping his cheeks and saying earnestly, “Zheliu gege don’t be afraid of them, Wuxin will protect you.” The voice was so babyish that he still wasn’t able to properly enunciate his words.
Later, it was Jiang Zheliu who protected him for half of his life, until Zhu Wuxin personally chose to abandon him when he no longer needed him.
Jiang Zheliu only thought of this, and didn’t think of anything else. There are too many difficulties that he had overcome in his past, but as long as things can be overcome, they can’t be called difficult.
The warm steam from the Hot Spring was becoming more intense. The snow white undershirt on his body was soaking, clinging against his frost-white back. The water droplets rolling down along the length of his spine.
Jiang Zheliu was born with a spiritual body, so he didn’t get dirty and he didn’t actually need to bathe. But he had become accustomed to bathing, and he always felt this way was more comfortable.
It’s just that the Spring of Zhongnan Mountain was hot, and he was a little too weak. He was starting to feel sleepy and dizzy as well.
That was until he sensed an overpowering energy appearing beside him.
Jiang Zheliu reluctantly looked up and saw the black corner of the person’s robes. He touched the edge of the robe with his wet fingertips, and said softly: “You really followed me here?”
Wenren Ye didn’t speak, but instead held onto his wrist and injected a burst of purified spiritual energy into it, as if this would relieve Jiang Zheliu’s discomfort.
“Using your devilish body as a vessel to purify spiritual energy, doesn’t it hurt?” Jiang Zheliu didn’t react for a moment, before pulling his hand back, and said, “It doesn’t seem right to let the Junior Devil Lord harm himself.”
Devil energy conflicts with spiritual energy. As a devil, if he wishes to instill any spiritual energy into Jiang Zheliu. He can only use his body as a vessel, and extract energy from Heaven and Earth then purify it so he’d naturally feel pain. This was not a comfortable thing to do.
Jiang Zheliu retracted his hand, and pushed his chin down on his hand, closing his eyes and said, “I don’t want to owe you a favour, you have already done enough.”
“If you don’t want to owe me,” Wenren Ye whispered, “Then patiently get better, and give me a healthy Jiang Zheliu. We still haven’t had our rematch to determine who will come out on top, I won’t let this matter go.”
Jiang Zheliu was silent for a moment, and then said in a low voice, “You’re making things hard for me again.”
Even though his fingers had been soaking in the warm Spring for a while, when they had been held in Wenren Ye’s hand, they were still exuding a chill. This chill radiated from the inside out – his heart and even his entire body was ice-cold.
“This time, even if I owe you a favour, I won’t pay you back.” Jiang Zheliu said, “You will suffer a loss.”
“Then I will accept the loss.” Wenren Ye gazed at him and reached out his hand to drop a medicinal pill into the spring water, “The other medicinal pills are strong in nature, but you’re as flimsy as paper these days, try this one.”
The medicinal pill entered the warm water and dispersed quickly, melting into the hot spring.