Chapter 94 Radiance of Spring
The red candle veil was warm.
Shen Shu buried himself into his master’s shoulders. His eyes narrowed slightly and revealed a sense of contentment.
With their thin clothes close to each other, he could feel his master’s body temperature that was slightly lower than ordinary people’s.
His master was very soft in his arms, perhaps because of soaking in hot water for a long time.
It was like the soft snow in early spring.
“…Don’t make trouble.”
Ye Yunlan said hoarsely with his hair still wet.
He reached out, pushed the clingy disciple before him aside, got up, sat on the edge of the bed, took the white towel beside him, and wiped his hair. The other party got up and came close again. “Master, I’ll help you dry your hair.”
Shen Shu reached out and picked up a handful of long damp hair behind Ye Yunlan.
The warm spiritual power passed over, and the smooth hair flowed down like silk and satin, sliding over his thin shoulders.
After the hair dried, Shen Shu extended his hand and gently pressed several acupuncture points on the top of his head and the temple.
The strength he used wasn’t light nor heavy. It was very comfortable.
Ye Yunlan sat on the edge of the bed, slowly closing his eyes.
“It’s really good.”
Shen Shu suddenly said behind him.
“That Master is willing to be with me.”
The candle shadow flickered, and the night darkened.
Ye Yunlan slowly became sleepy. He got up to blow out the candles on the table, turned around, and walked to the bed.
In the darkness, his blurred vision couldn’t see anyone at all. He could only feel another’s temperature around him, constantly transferring over.
He thought he wouldn’t be used to it.
But in reality, he just felt warm.
It was like he’d been alone in the snow for too long and was suddenly given a ray of spring.
He got sleepier.
His eyelids slowly became heavier.
The darkness around him was quiet and gentle.
He said in a low voice: “Go to sleep. Good night.”
Sky Sect’s flying boat parked outside Zhanxing City.
Zhanxing City was a large city in southern Xinjiang, where cultivators from all over the world gathered. It’s just that, because the Netherworld Secret Realm opened, 90% of the cultivators had already entered the Secret Realm. Thus, the city seemed empty instead.
In the early spring, it rained in the city again.
The showers in the early morning stopped, and there was only a drizzle now. Pedestrians walked along the street, and the vendors began to shout.
Shen Shu held an umbrella for Ye Yunlan.
The two walked through the downtown area to the lake full of willows.
He looked to the side and saw the lake with rippling, glistening water and distant misty mountains. The ghosts, monsters, and fighting in the Netherworld Secret Realm seemed very far from them.
Ye Yunlan stared at the lake and distant mountains and suddenly opened his mouth: “Shen Shu, what do you want to do after returning to the sect?”
Shen Shu replied: “Naturally, continue sword cultivating with Master. Master had taught me backwater waves, but I still don’t understand its meaning.”
“The sword technique’s meaning cannot be demanded. There are many where you’ll understand it when you need to.”
Ye Yunlan paused, then asked: “What about after you succeed in your cultivation with nothing else to learn?”
Shen Shu: “Go and find medicine able to completely cure Master’s body. After finding it, I will take Master to a place with mountains, waters, and flowers. I will settle there with Master, away from the world, boil wine during the winter, enjoy flowers in spring, and be happy in the spring. Wouldn’t being free be great?”
It indeed would be great.
Ye Yunlan fell silent.
There was no cure for the divine fire injury in his body. Now that he was also tossed around so much in the secret realm, it had worsened his injuries. He shouldn’t have many days left.
There was only one way to save him, but he was unwilling.
…And even if he was willing, the divine fire was too dangerous. If the person who drew the divine fire into their body couldn’t suppress it, it would burn them to ashes from the inside out, and their soul would be destroyed.
How many people in the world could be approved by the divine fire?
He would never let Shen Shu risk it.
Ye Yunlan looked at the hazy distant mountains quietly. The drizzle fell into the lake, and the wind blew the willows. He gradually felt a little cold.
“Let’s go back,” he said.
Shen Shu: “Master doesn’t want to walk a little more? The secret realm won’t close for at least another month. It’s boring to stay in the flying boat all day. I’m afraid that mushrooms will start growing out of boredom.”
Ye Tunlan: “The spring chill is in the air, and your Master is tired. If you feel you’re bored in the flying boat, you can continue walking around the city. I can go back first.”
Shen Shu disagreed, “Without me, who would hold the umbrella for Master?”
Hearing these words, Ye Yunlan was startled.
“Living in the same place, sleeping together, being companions, and going and returning together; this is Master’s promise to me, and you can’t take it back.” Shen Shu lowered his eyelashes to look at him. There was a serious innocence in his expression. His eyes shone in the morning light, a blood-colored glaze. He took Ye Yunlan’s hand and said: “Let’s go back together, Master.”
Companions go and return together.
Ye Yunlan was silent momentarily, then said: “…Ok?”
A month and a half had already passed when the flying boat returned to Sky Sect.
As always, many disciples gathered on Wendao Slope in groups of twos and threes. Zhanxing City was far from Sky Sect, so a lot of news wasn’t spread back yet. Many disciples eagerly looked forward to guessing what Sky Sect had reaped this time.
But they didn’t expect to receive a group of disciples with tired looks and scars, all in terrible states.
When they left, there were three thousand disciples. However, they returned with less than one thousand.
“Senior Brother Cheng, what happened during this trip? How are there so many casualties?” A disciple hurried up and asked Cheng Xu.
Cheng Xu showed a bitter look. He sighed and shook his head. “We’ve all underestimated the degree of danger in the Netherworld Secret Realm. Besides, the danger wasn’t only in the Secret Realm, but also in others. Treasures move people’s hearts.”
The disciple asked: “What happened in the secret realm?”
Cheng Xu: “The secret realm left for four thousand years by Emperor Netherworld had countless magic killing arrays, and the danger was unspeakable. Although we were lucky enough to reach the secret realm’s third level and harvested a lot of treasures, the sects clashed afterward.”
“Consuming nearly half of their team’s lives in the first two levels of the secret realm, they were murderous and crazy. They wouldn’t be reconciled without the treasures. Many demonic cultivators were among them, trying to take advantage of the crisis to sow dissension. Finally, a battle broke out on the secret realm’s third level. We joined forces with the Tingyu Pavilion and Ink Sect disciples to fight against the enemy, only to protect our own disciples. It wasn’t easy coming back. We received damage to two-thirds of our disciples, but the other sects were more miserable than us.”
The questioning disciple: “How miserable?”
Cheng Xu’s expression was heavy: “Less than one out of ten survived.”
The questioning disciple was horrified.
Cheng Xu sighed: “Junior Brother Ye had the foresight to leave early. They left the secret realm and avoided this catastrophe. If I thought about it carefully, although the treasures are good, they caused a massacre. Fellow disciples killing each other…I would rather not have them.”
The questioning disciple asked again: “Where is Senior Brother Rong? Senior Brother Rong is the sect’s leader this time. Did he also fall in the secret realm?”
“Don’t mention him!” A disciple supporting a sad face behind Cheng Xu suddenly opened his mouth in anger. “If it weren’t for him, how could Senior Sister Zhuang, Senior Brother Xu, and Senior Brother Gong have died in the secret realm in vain?! Rong Ran is an unscrupulous b*stard who would do anything for treasures! He’s not worthy to be our Sky Sect disciple! He’s not worthy!”
The amount of information shocked the questioning disciple. He then noticed the noise around him. Several disciples dragged down one person.
Five ropes were tying the man. His long hair was messy like grass, and dust covered his clothes. The original color wasn’t visible in the dust. It was unclear how long he was thrown aside. Looking at his face, if it wasn’t Rong Ran, who could it be?
The disciple who just roared picked up a stone from the ground and threw it at Rong Ran. “Rong Ran, get out of Sky Sect!”
With this throw, the disciples, who looked decadent and exhausted around him, seemed agitated. In the secret realm, the unwillingness had accumulated in the past few days of fighting and killing. Thus, the pain of watching the death of the companions around them seemed to have an outlet.
Countless stones hit Rong Ran’s body like a rainstorm. The disciples’ angry voices were louder than waves.
“Get out of Sky Sect!”
“You aren’t worthy to be a disciple of the sect!”
Ye Yunlan and Shen Shu had already gotten off the flying boat, presently sitting in Tingfeng Pavilion.
Shen Shu made tea. In the mist, they were ignoring the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Ye Yunlan only watched the farce with an indifferent gaze.
Rong Ran suffered what he did when he was framed, being wronged and dragged down the flying boat.
Questions that weren’t answered back then were now answered.
Shen Shu poured the boiled tea into the cup and pushed it to his master. He looked toward the direction that Ye Yunlan focused on and curled his lips, “Rong Ran tried to set up a trap for me and ended up in this state. His present ending is him suffering from his own consequences. He can’t blame anyone.”
“But fortunately, because of him, I knew that Master places such importance on me. When I remembered that Master drew his sword to protect me and confronted everyone, I knew there would be no one else in the world who would treat me like Master.”
“I don’t know how to repay Master.” His eyes curved into arcs, “I often hear people say that a drop of grace should be returned with a flowing spring. Then how about I…offer my body as payment?”
He got up and came close, “If I thought about it carefully, Master marrying me or me marrying Master are both happy events. Disciple can accept both. If I were a woman, it’s even okay to have children with Master.” (marrying in = take on their last name and usually the woman position)
These days, Shen Shu seemed to be fattened with courage. His speech and demeanor became more and more unrestrained.
He depended on the fact that Ye Yunlan wouldn’t really be angry with him, given an inch and wanting a mile.
At first, Ye Yunlan would refuse to talk to him because of his words, but now he’d learned to ignore them.
He finished the tea in his cup and picked up the long sword on the table.
Shen Shu followed with a smile.
“Okay. Let’s go home.”
Rong Ran was locked in the law enforcement hall, and the trial would be held in ten days.
Shen Shu cleaned up the bamboo building and obliterated the small one next to it mercilessly. That night, he carried his bedding to find Ye Yunlan.
“The bed’s too small.” Ye Yunlan said expressionlessly, “When you were young, you weren’t so tall, so we could share. Now….”
He raised his head and looked at Shen Shu’s figure.
The young man’s body was still growing. If he were to grow to the Demon Lord’s height, even two beds wouldn’t be enough for him to toss around.
Ye Yunlan refused.
Shen Shu: “We came to an agreement that we would eat together, live together, and sleep together…” There was his familiar rhetoric. Ye Yunlan’s temples were pounding. He then blinked aggrievedly at him and finally said, “I demolished the neighboring house. If Master doesn’t take me in, I would be homeless.”
Ye Yunlan raised his hand and rubbed his eyebrows, “All right, come in.”
The two slept on the bed. It was really crowded.
Shen Shu pretended to be well-behaved: “Tomorrow, I will go to the Sect to bring a bigger bed back.”
Ye Yunlan: “Getting a bed for no reason is inappropriate.”
Shen Shu: “En… I’ll just say the bed was accidentally broken? When I went there previously to get supplies from the sect, I saw Deputy Sect Master Cheng come to get a bed again. Therefore, it’s normal for the bed to be broken.”
Deputy Sect Master Cheng Zixu and his wife Xue Mengdie are well-known affectionate dao companions in the sect.
Ye Yunlan: “Shut up and sleep.”
Shen Shu shut up obediently.
Early next morning, Shen Shu went to the Sect Internal Affairs Office.
Ye Yunlan took out a book and opened it. After a while, he heard the wind chimes ringing at the door.
He thought it was Shen Shu coming back, so he got up to open the door. However, he saw a handsome man with a black robe and a tall crown standing before him.
It was Senior Brother He Lanze.
He Lanze had begun his closed-retreat ever since he lost against Shen Shu when comparing swords. Now, it has been several months.
He observed his qi. He’d broken into Ascension Realm. He just needed the final push to reach Transcendence.
He Lanze’s cultivation was much higher than the one in the memory of Ye Yunlan’s previous life. It was visible that these months of retreat and hard cultivation weren’t in vain.
“Why did Senior Brother come here so suddenly?”
Ye Yunlan said flatly.
He Lanze stared at him greedily. His eyes were deep and brought a scorching heat.
After being in retreat for several years and thinking of him day and night, they could finally meet now.
“I left closed-retreat this time to accommodate the trial. But after thinking about it carefully, I wanted to come and see my junior before the trial.”
He Lanze looked at Ye Yunlan’s face, paler than before. He remembered when Ye Yunlan entered the sect back then. For many years, he followed Rong Ran around. Wearing his mask daily, his talents and appearances weren’t shown, but he can’t help but feel more tenderness towards him.
He sighed softly, “Junior brother has suffered over the years.”