Chapter 72.1 The Divine Maiden of Peng Mountain
Ji Wuyou opened his eyes.
It felt as if he had just woken up from a deep sleep. He moved his fingers, feeling them cold and stiff. Looking around, he noticed he was lying on a stone bed, which was filled with a chilling air. He tried to speak but found his throat blocked. Ji Wuyou supported his head and slowly got off the bed, standing on the ground with a strange, unreal sensation. He was both thirsty and hungry, so he walked out of the door.
Stepping over the threshold, he felt a slight tug on his calf. At the same time, the bells on the corridor’s eaves rang with a clear sound.
Ji Wuyou froze for a moment, his pupils shrinking to a point as memories flooded into his mind like a rushing river.
The morning light shone on his pale and weak face.
The sound of the bells was terrifying, like something from a nightmare.
He made a hoarse and very low sound, in pain, he held onto the pillar and bent down.
At the moment the bells rang, the Shangyang Peak Master already knew. He put down his tasks and hurried over. In the palace corridor, he saw a thin and weak boy curled up on the ground, wearing thin and worn-out clothes, so thin that only his bones remained. His fingers were tightly pressed into his hair.
The Shangyang Peak Master furrowed his brow and walked over, calling out, “Ji Wuyou?”
The old man’s worried voice sounded.
Ji Wuyou suddenly raised his head, his face becoming even thinner. His eyes looked unusually large, surprisingly so, with black pupils containing a layer of tears. The tears were icy cold, and within the depths of his eyes, there was a faint, dark purple glow.
The Shangyang Peak Master was slightly surprised. He knew that Ji Wuyou had changed. During the competition at Yinghui Peak, he was a chubby boy who accidentally stumbled in, his eyes innocent and clueless, always happy when he had food and drink. But now, holding onto the pillar and suddenly lifting his head, the thin and weak boy had a different expression in his eyes.
In one night, he had come to understand the world of people, to know love and hatred.
Ji Wuyou stared fixedly at the old man in front of him, trying to match his identity with the blurred memories from before.
The Shangyang Peak Master sighed and, seeing his guarded appearance, said, “You’ve just woken up, and you’re still adjusting. Come with me for now.”
It was peaceful and warm inside the room, dispelling the cold.
The calming incense burned, and white smoke floated gently in the air.
The Shangyang Peak Master draped a thick coat over Ji Wuyou and sat down. He gently adjusted the charcoal fire on the table and slowly asked, “Do you remember who you are?”
Ji Wuyou was still lost in thought, remaining silent.
The Shangyang Peak Master sighed and said, “You are my disciple, Ji Wuyou of Shangyang Peak.”
Ji Wuyou sat across from him, murmuring each word softly, “Ji Wuyou?”
The Shangyang Peak Master nodded, his gaze filled with compassion and affection. He didn’t say anything further, allowing Ji Wuyou to recollect on his own.
Ji Wuyou felt empty inside. But when the name echoed in his ears, a hint of tenderness emerged from the depths of his soul. Sitting in his place, his fingers trembled involuntarily.
Shortly after, a disciple came over and handed a list of participants for the Outer Peaks Grand Competition to the Peak Master. The Shangyang Peak Master furrowed his brow, realizing he still had some matters to attend to. He said to Ji Wuyou, “Stay here for a while.”
He needed to inform Senior Brother Pei, as Ji Wuyou was someone Senior Brother Pei held in high regard.
The Shangyang Peak Master left.
Only Ji Wuyou remained in the room.
The smoke lingered around him as he lowered his gaze, fixating on his fingers—pale with a faint touch of black at the fingertips.
In his memories, there was a person softly calling his name, within a pure white scenery, blurred and indistinct. But he knew clearly that she had appeared in his life, in every moment he neared death. Perhaps she was a delicate young girl, or maybe an old woman with white hair. She could even be a man, a blade of grass by the riverside, or a gentle breeze brushing against his face.
“Who are you, really?”
In the silent palace, a laughter suddenly resounded.
Ji Wuyou abruptly looked up.
The smoke in the incense burner continued to increase, filling the entire palace and creating an ethereal and otherworldly atmosphere.
Emerging from the white smoke, the graceful and elegant divine maiden who had appeared countless times on the winding mountain path during his unconsciousness stepped forward.
She adorned a cloud-shaped headdress, with jade hairpins tilting on top, and cascading pure white pearls falling down like they were from the depths of the sea. Her light blue, flowing gown trailed along, lightly brushing the ground. Her delicate eyebrows, rosy lips, and refined nose gave off an icy and noble aura when viewed from afar.
Ji Wuyou became fully alert.
The divine maiden walked forward, steps blooming lotus flowers. Her eyes carried a playful expression, and her voice was accompanied by a smile. “Why are you surprised? I told you we would meet again soon.”
Ji Wuyou gritted his teeth, his gaze fixed upon her. He was no longer the child who would cry and bury his head at the first sign of danger.
The divine maiden suddenly approached, lightly lifting his chin with her fingertips and taking a sniff. Then, she smiled meaningfully and said, “The Son of the Celestial Demon? It’s been tens of thousands of years since I last saw such pure Celestial Demon blood. Is that why she chose you?”
Ji Wuyou was startled once again and instinctively leaned backward.
With a smirk on her blue-dressed figure, the divine maiden said, “Still just a child, I see. Well, that works in your favor. Young man, how about we make a deal?”
Ji Wuyou pressed his lips together and remained silent. Deep down, he felt a sense of dread towards this woman.
In the illusionary realm, he had witnessed the twisted and bloody nature hidden behind the divine maiden’s ethereal beauty during the events on Kunlun Mountains and Peng Mountain.
The divine maiden slowly stood up, her trailing gown blooming with flowers. Without waiting for his response, she smiled and said, “I will assist you in awakening if you release me. How about that?” Pausing briefly, her eyes gentle as autumn waters, she continued, “Perhaps I can even tell you who the ‘she’ I’ve mentioned.”
Ji Wuyou’s calm state of mind was disturbed, causing waves of turmoil.
He gazed blankly at the breathtakingly elegant woman before him, swallowed hard, and then slowly spoke, “Really?”
The divine maiden smiled, composed and unruffled. “Really.”
Ji Wuyou recalled the scholar who emerged from the torrential black rain, carrying an umbrella. Though he displayed entirely different qualities, both the man from his memory and the woman standing before him inexplicably evoked a similar feeling.
One filled with world-weariness, cold fatigue, and irritability, while the other exuded elegance, composure, and grace. However, they seemed to belong to the same kind, with a shared essence. As Ji Wuyou briefly recollected the village where life and death were blurred, he felt a wave of nausea. Looking at the woman before him only intensified his apprehension.
However, he truly longed to know who ‘she’ was, to meet ‘her,’ and perhaps express his gratitude or more. So, he asked, “How can I help you?”
The divine maiden smiled with satisfaction and said, “I have been framed, imprisoned within someone’s dantian. If you help me kill him and crush his soul, I will be set free.”
Ji Wuyou’s eyes narrowed as he shook his head. “No, I can’t do that.”
The divine maiden arched an eyebrow and asked, “Why not?”
With a furrowed brow and a pale complexion reminiscent of his recent illness, Ji Wuyou displayed unwavering determination. “It would be unjust and indiscriminate killing. It’s not right.”
The woman in the blue dress momentarily paused, then burst into laughter, displaying a casual yet astonished demeanor. “Truly remarkable. A descendant of the Celestial Demon who still possesses such kindness.”
Ji Wuyou pursed his lips, remaining silent.
The divine maiden spoke, “She wants me to protect you, so I came to Yunxiao. However, I believe what you need is not protection but rather to recognize your own identity.” She leaned closer, her fragrance reminiscent of snow in the Western Kunlun Mountains, and her beautiful almond-shaped eyes brimming with a smile. “You are a member of the Celestial Demon clan, destined to achieve enlightenment through killing. Do you know? The power of your clan relies on bloodshed. If you refuse to kill, you will be rendered powerless.”
Rendered powerless. These casually spoken words sent a chill through Ji Wuyou’s entire body. He hadn’t even fully understood what it meant to be a descendant of the Celestial Demon, but this woman seemed to have already made judgments about his future life with a smile.
If the gloomy man in Zhonglian Village allowed him to bid farewell to cowardice and stand alone, understanding the harsh reality that might makes right in this world, then the woman before him was leading him toward an abyss.
Ji Wuyou bit his lip and said, “Even if I were to kill, I would only kill the wicked in this world.”
The divine maiden smiled and replied, “The wicked in this world? Interesting. Good and evil are not so easily discerned. For example, when you look at me, do you see evil or good?”
She drew closer, her beautiful face radiating an enchanting and gentle allure, captivating the hearts of men.
In an instant, however, her complexion turned green, fangs emerged, and a sinister and demonic visage took hold.
Thud. Ji Wuyou was startled, causing him to knock over the teacup on the table. His body was drenched in cold sweat as he held his breath.
The divine maiden chuckled and reverted back to her previous appearance. Sitting down gracefully, she no longer had the inclination to discuss such matters with this boy. With slender fingers, she brushed away the dust on the table and said, “My request is not contradictory to your beliefs. The person who audaciously sought to devour me is an utterly heinous individual.”
She continued, “As a disciple of Yunxiao, aren’t you aware of the recent series of bloodshed outside the Yunxiao Mountain Gate? He is the one responsible for those deaths. By killing him, you would be carrying out justice. Besides, that person once intended to harm you. His name is Chang Wu, a fellow disciple from Zhongnan Peak.”
Ji Wuyou was shocked and exclaimed, “He is the one who committed those murders? Your words alone are not enough. Why should I believe you?”
A flicker of violent intent flashed in the divine maiden’s eyes, but quickly concealed within her smile. She twirled her dark hair with her fingers, embodying a contradictory mix of coquettishness and elegance.
“Don’t you remember? Zhongnan Peak, at night, you came to deliver a message and lost consciousness as soon as you pushed open the door.”
Ji Wuyou faintly recalled something.
The divine maiden laughed. “He kept an azure bird and wanted to use a human pill to stabilize his soul. You were the one he chose as the medicine carrier. You should be grateful that the previous pill had a mishap and bit Chang Wu, otherwise, you would be either dead or insane.”
Ji Wuyou felt an intense headache.
Compelled to deliver the message, getting lost, hungry, encountering a beheaded woman, and then someone supporting him in the darkness—a white-haired old lady with a voice that was both weary and gentle, guiding him along the path. Walking along the road, they reached a stone door. After pushing it open, the only thing etched in his memory was the chilling gaze of a young man.
The next day, he fell ill upon returning to Shangyang Peak.
The divine maiden said, “Do you recall now? It was him. Yunxiao’s Outer Peaks Grand Competition, which occurs once every ten years, has been moved up. You will participate, and I will assist you, but you must help me…”
She smiled warmly, blood-colored patterns emerging at the corners of her eyes, and said, “Kill him!”
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