Chapter 73 Love Token
After Chen Xu finished everything, he reported to Pei Jing, “This time, the Grand Competition was held at the spacious martial arena of Xuanyun Peak. According to the usual tradition, each of the seventy-two Outer Peaks had its own fighting platform. The disciples within each peak drew lots and had free sparring, selecting the top fifty for the next round.”
Pei Jing said, “Hmm, it was really troublesome. We had to bully the little ones.”
Chen Xu laughed and said, “I could see you are enjoying it.” Zhang Yiming was a famous celebrity in Shangyang Peak, and the mere mention of him irritated the hell out of Chen Xu. “You claimed you wanted to experience the mundane world, but is that really what you call experiencing the mundane world? You hardly restrained your temperament. To put it simply, you just continued causing trouble in a different place.”
Pei Jing disagreed with him, “Don’t you think experiencing the suffering of the mortal world is the only way to experience the mundane world? For instance, starting with the weakest spiritual aptitude, facing constant difficulties, and enduring oppression. Isn’t that the only way to truly experience the mundane world?”
Chen Xu: “……”
Pei Jing continued, “During my one year at Yinghui Peak, I cultivated gardens, studied books, and tamed demons. With my noble character, I earned the love and respect of many disciples. How can you say that’s not experiencing the mundane world?”
Chen Xu was startled by his shamelessness and asked, “Are you sure that was love and respect?”
Even his noble character made him feel disgusted.
Pei Jing had transformed into Zhang Yiming’s appearance, just like when he first joined Yinghui Peak. He wore a tidy brown short robe, simple black shoes, and had his hair cut short and loosely tied with a simple grass ripe. He had a smile on his lips and carried a bright and carefree demeanor.
Nobody could link him to the legendary and unattainable first rank of the Wentian Rankings.
After stepping down the white jade steps in front of the Tianqian Hall, Pei Jing suddenly remembered something and turned to Chen Xu. “Where are the disciples from the Inner Peaks?”
“The Inner Peaks must have a separate location, different from the Outer Peaks. You don’t need to worry about that.” He earnestly advised, “Also, it’s best for you not to reveal your identity.”
Pei Jing went with him.
Since childhood, his master had been training him to become the Sect Master, dressed in a standard snow-white robe and jade crown, aiming to create a dignified and imposing image. However, Pei Jing didn’t think it was necessary, considering his master himself was a grumpy old man. How could he expect to mold such a rigid disciple?
Moreover, using appearance to intimidate others was foolish. Pei Jing believed in winning people over with virtue, earning their admiration through noble qualities.
However, when he thought about his actions at Shangyang Peak, Pei Jing felt somewhat embarrassed and coughed. “Don’t worry, it won’t happen.”
He had let his alter ego run wild for so long. It was better not to involve his true identity.
Pei Jing arrived at Shangyang Peak and bid farewell to Chen Xu before leaping down from the cloud crane.
On his way back to his cave dwelling, Pei Jing encountered every fellow disciple of Shangyang Peak, each wearing a complex expression upon seeing him.
Along the journey, someone called out to him. It was a graceful-looking female cultivator whom Pei Jing remembered. When he first arrived at Shangyang Peak, he entrusted her with taking care of his spiritual mouse.
The female cultivator called out to him and said, “Are you heading back to the cave dwelling? What a coincidence, I also reside there. We can walk together along the way.”
Pei Jing: “???”
If he recalled correctly, there were only him and Chu Junyu near the cliff over there.
Clearly, the female cultivator had an ulterior motive. Initially, she exchanged a few pleasantries. “Long time no see. Have you been on an excursion?”
Pei Jing replied politely, “Yes.”
The female cultivator twisted her sleeves anxiously, her face turning slightly flushed. Nonetheless, she mustered up the courage and whispered, “Can I ask you a question?”
Pei Jing turned his head to look at her, his eyes showing a mix of confusion and realization.
Indeed, one’s charm could not be concealed. No matter how low-key one tried to be, it was to no avail.
“Go ahead,” Pei Jing responded.
Pei Jing thought he would receive another typical confession. He pondered how to reject it, considering that he was now Zhang Yiming and couldn’t shatter his image. Dealing with a pure girl’s feelings required tact and gentleness.
To his surprise, upon seeing the girl’s face, it suddenly turned bright red, and her voice became even softer as she said, “Do you know… Chu Junyu, where he went? I… I haven’t seen him for a long time.”
Pei Jing extinguished the gentleness in his heart, smiled, and spoke bluntly, “Oh, you like him?”
The girl’s face was startled by his response, but it grew even redder. She lowered her head and remained silent.
“Well, you might have misunderstood. Chu Junyu already has a fiancee in the mortal realm.”
“Ah?” The girl’s eyes widened, unable to conceal her disappointment. “But I don’t think so. I observed his every move at Shangyang Peak, and he had no contact with the mortal realm.”
Pei Jing decided to make her give up and said with a rehearsed tone, “That’s because his fiancee eloped with someone else. He was heartbroken and decided to cultivate the heartless path, so he came to Yunxiao. Otherwise, why do you think he is so cold and reclusive? It’s because his heart was shattered by you women.”
The girl almost crushed her sleeves with her hands, and after a while, she appeared both aggrieved and sad. “Oh, I see.”
Pei Jing continued, “You haven’t even reached Foundation Establishment stage, and you’re already thinking about having a Dao companion. Reflect on yourself! Your mind is filled with lovey-dovey thoughts. How can you cultivate properly? The Peak Master wants us disciples to be united, to treat each other as brothers and sisters. Do you know what you’re doing? You’re being a **.”
The girl was dumbfounded. “… Sob, sob, sob, Senior Brother Zhang, I’m sorry.”
Pei Jing couldn’t help but laugh aloud. Did she actually believe all of that?
The path leading to the cave dwelling was somewhat secluded, with deep grass on both sides and dense clusters of cypress trees on the cliffs. The wind rustled their sleeves as Pei Jing lazily said, “You won’t see anyone if you keep going ahead. Go back for now. The grand competition is about to begin, and you should focus on that.”
The girl had just been scolded by him and was heartbroken, but upon hearing him mention the grand competition, she regained some spirit and asked, “Senior Brother Zhang, have you reached Foundation Establishment stage now?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
The girl nodded, her eyes sparkling. “Then you must have definitely reached Foundation Establishment. That’s amazing! I’ve only seen one person reaching it in my entire life, and that’s you.”
Pei Jing smiled awkwardly and said, “Well, it’s not bad, I suppose.” Did she really need to know about reaching Foundation Establishment within a hundred years?
The girl continued, “Senior Brother Zhang, you will definitely be able to enter the Inner Peak this time.”
Pei Jing laughed.
The girl added, “In this competition, there are four people who are highly anticipated. There’s Senior Sister Bu Heng from Ziyang Peak, Senior Brother Chang Wu from Zhongnan Peak, Senior Brother Lin Feng from Xuanyun Peak, and then there’s you. The first three have consistently performed well in the previous competitions. Zhang Senior Brother, don’t let Shangyang Peak down.”
Pei Jing lowered his head and saw the girl’s obvious disappointment, but she still mustered a smile. He couldn’t help but suppress a chuckle and said, “Don’t worry, I never disappoint.”
Suddenly, a rustling sound came from behind, as if someone’s clothes brushed against the flowers and grass on the ground. However, this place was on the edge of a cliff, with a narrow and hard-to-find path. Normal people wouldn’t come this way. Pei Jing and the girl turned their heads simultaneously, only to see a young man with green bamboo hanging down, parting the mist within the forest, slowly approaching as if he carried a layer of snow on himself.
Clad in blue and white attire, with cascading black hair, the young man had clear, clean eyes that resembled glass.
“…” The girl was also startled. Seeing her beloved and hearing about a certain period of his past, her initial joy turned into deep complexity. “Senior… Senior Brother Chu, where have you been?”
Chu Junyu didn’t answer her question. He simply glanced at Pei Jing standing beside her and smiled ambiguously. “Oh, I went to the mortal realm to bury my fiancee.”
Pei Jing: “……” Why did encountering Chu Junyu always involve these troublesome matters?
The girl exclaimed, “What?!”
Chu Junyu said, “If you have no business here, you can leave. I have something to discuss with Zhang Yiming.”
The girl responded with an “Oh” and her emotions became even more complicated. Her gaze towards Chu Junyu held not only admiration but also deep sympathy. After they left, Pei Jing awkwardly scratched his head, attempting to conceal the recent events, and laughed. “Why aren’t you staying at Tianqian Peak?”
Chu Junyu’s gaze turned scrutinizing, settling on Pei Jing.
Pei Jing decided to be frank and spoke seriously, “Recently, there have been demons causing trouble in the Outer Peaks. It seems that they are hiding among the disciples of our sect. I plan to seize this opportunity and force them out.”
Chu Junyu calmly asked, “Do you know who this demon is?”
Pei Jing replied, “I have a rough idea, but I’m not sure.”
The only one who escaped with Qingying was the Queen Mother of the Western Kunlun Mountains. Pei Jing couldn’t believe she would commit such heinous acts. The name “Queen Mother of the West” sounded familiar to him. Although he hadn’t followed the later chapters of “Executioner’s Sword,” he had seen comments discussing the most popular candidate for the main character’s harem. It seemed to be her, the powerful and noble Goddess of Peng Mountain.
She possessed exquisite beauty and an icy aura. This cool and divine maiden fulfilled every man’s fantasy.
So, would the female protagonist really be so bloody, tearing bodies apart?
“Not sure?” Chu Junyu seemed to smile briefly. Without saying anything else, he took out a small pearl from his sleeve. The pearl was crystal clear, its white jade-like surface glistening flawlessly. Inside, a faint azure droplet was visible, appearing even more delicate and perfect in the sunlight.
“Keep it with you.”
“???” Pei Jing accepted the pearl, feeling a refreshing coolness in his hand.
“Perhaps it will save your life.”
What was this? Pei Jing struggled to understand, finally realizing that Chu Junyu was concerned about his safety and had specially given him a protective item.
Or perhaps, it was a token of their affection!
In an instant, fireworks exploded in his mind. The mountains and rivers of the Shangyang Peak took on meaning, becoming clear and illuminated.
Perhaps when he reverted to his youthful appearance, he became a little less cautious and a bit more unrestrained. Pei Jing couldn’t help but laugh foolishly and then excitedly hugged him.
He hugged tightly, their heights were similar, so Pei Jing’s chin rested on Chu Junyu’s shoulder.
Just like that year on Yinghui Peak, casually hooking their arms together.
However, this physical contact evoked simpler and more pleasant emotions in him, evident in his uncontrollable smile.
Chu Junyu was taken aback. Pei Jing suddenly leaned in and hugged him, exerting pressure on his body. He involuntarily took a step back, then reached out and embraced Pei Jing’s waist before standing upright.
Such a posture seemed even more ambiguous.
In fact, on their first night in Yunxiao, they had embraced each other by the deserted well. The scent of grass and early snow on the young man was just like before, but the feelings it stirred within him had changed. Back then, he had been absent-minded at the bottom of the well, foolishly thinking about irrelevant matters. Now his thoughts were deep and couldn’t be traced to their origin.
Pei Jing loved every aspect of him, and the youthful appearance was the most familiar.
Therefore, there was no restraint as he laughed and said, “Chu Junyu, how can you be so good!”
Chu Junyu concealed his expression with his light-colored eyes and spoke indifferently, “If I’m so good, then why did you let me be abandoned by my fiancee?”
Pei Jing knew he was talking about his fiancee. But now he didn’t feel any embarrassment at all, only pure joy. His future Madam was no less inferior to that divine maiden from Kunlun Mountains. He possessed unparalleled beauty, grace, and immeasurable cultivation. Though he often kept people at a distance, deep down he was gentle.
Pei Jing leaned close to his ear, with a hint of charm in his smile, “If I caused the death of one fiancee, how about I compensate you with a fiance?” He even offered to compensate with the position of Sect Master’s Madam.
After saying that, he felt a bit embarrassed. His ears turned hot, and without waiting for Chu Junyu’s reaction, he withdrew his hand and stood straight.
Then, with a flick of his finger, the moisture in the air condensed into a long needle. It pierced through the top of the bead, forming a rope, which he then placed around his own neck. In that instant of wearing it, a faint flash of azure light seemed to emanate from the bead, and Pei Jing had a strange feeling that the person inside the bead had finally settled down and entered a deep slumber… Wait, there was someone inside the bead?
Chu Junyu, however, lowered his gaze, contemplating the young man’s words. He repeated each word slowly, “Compensate me with a fiance?”
Pei Jing scratched his head and said, “Hmm.”
Chu Junyu looked at Pei Jing, observing his flushed earlobes, and laughed softly. He whispered, “Is this your second surprise for me?”
Pei Jing stuttered, “Y-yes.”
Chu Junyu didn’t stay on the Shangyang Peak for long before he left.
Pei Jing couldn’t hold him back, so he continued walking towards the cave. As he walked, he held up the bead to the sunlight, squinting his eyes as he watched the azure blood slowly diffuse within the bead. His smile never faded from his lips. “It’s perfect. We even have a token of our affection now!”
However, why did Chu Junyu’s token of affection give him such a stifling feeling? Regardless, gifts from one’s beloved were always good.
After tidying up a bit and retrieving the almost moldy disciple’s clothing from the cave, Pei Jing changed into it. Then, he took a wooden sword and prepared to leave. Just as he took a step forward, he suddenly heard a faint sob.
He froze. Pei Jing lowered his head, his gaze falling on the jade bead around his neck.
The azure light emitted from it was warm and pure.
It felt familiar.
In his previous excitement, Pei Jing’s head had been muddled, but now, as he calmed down, he began to discern a clue.
The light seemed to be reaching out to him, seeking his help. Along the rope, it spread and formed a small illusion outside the jade bead—a young azure bird from its childhood, thin and covered in wounds. Its eyes, of pure azure, held tears and sorrow.
Pei Jing halted his steps and reached out to grasp the bead, his expression calm as he spoke softly, “Qingying, is it you?”
The young clan leader of the Azure Bird Clan no longer spoke to him. Perhaps it was because he had spent too much time with Feng Jin and carried the familiar scent of attachment with him, in his presence, she obediently became like a child, an immature child who had not yet experienced the trials and tribulations before the Phoenix.
Pei Jing said, “I’ll take you to find Feng Jin.”
…The things his beloved gave him were always different.
The azure light suddenly intensified, causing the bead to tremble. In the depths of his consciousness, Pei Jing faintly heard the girl’s feeble voice, “Don’t…”
She was trying to stop him.
Out of compassion, Pei Jing patiently explained to her, “He is the reincarnation of the Phoenix. Logically speaking, he is your elder. You have suffered severe injuries and need him to help you recover.”
Qingying continued to shake her head. Speaking intermittently due to her damaged throat, she said, “No, trouble, sorry.”
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