Pei Yunshu covered Zhuyou’s mouth and nose, noticing the mud on the back of his hand, causing a momentary blush to tint his face.
Without hesitation, he stared at Zhuyou, fearing this method might not work on a beast like him.
After a moment, Zhuyou’s long eyelashes fluttered, and he slowly opened his eyes. At this moment, even his blood-red pupils underwent a transformation. They were no longer the bright crimson of blood but an extreme depth, appearing almost as black as obsidian.
Black vertical pupils locked onto Pei Yunshu, who let go of his hands and awkwardly wiped the mud from the back of his hand onto his clothes. “Zhuyou, you haven’t finished shedding your skin yet.”
Zhuyou’s tail flicked, splashing water onto both of them. Pei Yunshu quickly closed his eyes as water cascaded over his head, wetting half of his black hair.
When the sound of water subsided, he opened his eyes. Glistening droplets ran down his cheeks. With no time to argue, Pei Yunshu handed the storage pouch to Zhuyou. “Zhuyou, use your spiritual energy to take out the pills and spiritual plants from inside.”
Zhuyou watched him silently for a while. Then, using his hands to prop himself up, he sat halfway up and leaned closer to Pei Yunshu. Extending his tongue, he licked away a glistening water droplet hanging from Pei Yunshu’s lips.
Pei Yunshu looked at him with a puzzled expression, but this gesture brought back memories of their time in the water. He tightly held the flood dragon, their lips and tongues intertwined. These memories were too enchanting and beautiful. He hastily averted his gaze, avoiding Zhuyou’s proximity.
His once pale face now had a tinge of red, and Pei Yunshu turned his head away. Zhuyou followed suit, pursuing him, bringing his face closer. Pei Yunshu could only move away again. After a few attempts, he started to feel a mix of embarrassment and anger.
“Stop fooling around,” Pei Yunshu scolded, glaring at him. He picked up Zhuyou’s hand and placed it on the storage pouch. “Take out what I need from inside.”
Zhuyou, unfamiliar with human customs, while Pei Yunshu was well-versed in ethical standards. Earlier, their actions could be attributed to necessity, but now that both were awake, how could they still act so… shamelessly?
Zhuyou reached into the pouch, his vertical pupils still fixed on Pei Yunshu. In a hoarse voice, he asked, “What do you need?”
“All the pills and spiritual plants,” Pei Yunshu glanced at his own inner clothing and hurriedly added, “And clothing, including robes and footwear.”
Zhuyou retrieved each item one by one. Apart from the robes, there was only the Daoist robe of the Shanshui Sect. In addition to these clothes, Zhuyou unexpectedly pulled out soap made from soapberry.
Upon seeing the soap, Pei Yunshu felt an itch all over his body. His clothes were covered in mud, and even his hair had dirt in it. He was eager to take a bath.
After some hesitation, the desire to bathe ultimately won. Pei Yunshu picked up clean clothes, took the soap from Zhuyou’s hand, and swallowed a pill to restore his spiritual power. He stood up, identified a secluded spot, and found a large rock blocking the view. As long as one didn’t intentionally peek, it should be impossible to see anything. Turning his head, he said to Zhuyou, “I’ll bathe there. You’re not allowed… not allowed to peek.”
Zhuyou flicked his tail and nodded faintly.
Seeing his agreement, Pei Yunshu felt relieved. He picked up a few fire spirit stones and walked towards the chosen spot.
The water behind the boulder was unusually clear, and as Zhuyou was present, there was no need to worry about other creatures lurking underwater. Pei Yunshu tossed the fire spirit stones, and in no time, the previously clear pool water turned into a natural hot spring.
With a calm expression, he removed his soiled clothes, carefully stepping into the water.
The water temperature was slightly warm, a complete contrast to the cold pool from earlier. Pei Yunshu found it exceptionally comfortable. He soaked for a while before starting to wash his hair.
Gradually, the dirt and the smell of blood were washed away from his hair. After a good half hour, Pei Yunshu emerged from the water.
Dressed in clean clothes and with his hair dried, he began to walk back. However, he noticed that Zhuyou, who had been waiting, was no longer there. Pei Yunshu looked around and eventually found Zhuyou submerged in the cold pool. Crouching at the water’s edge, he peered at the partially submerged flood dragon with confusion. “Zhuyou?”
Zhuyou had buried himself even deeper, and mist was forming on the surface of the cold pool, as if something scorching hot was causing the water to emit steam.
Seeing that Zhuyou didn’t respond, Pei Yunshu assumed he was still shedding his skin. He found a spot to sit down and closed his eyes to meditate, trying to use the effects of the consumed pill to restore some of his spiritual power.
As soon as he closed his eyes, Zhuyou popped his head out of the water, and with a flick of his finger, the dampness in Pei Yunshu’s hair vanished.
Zhuyou’s black eyes remained fixed on Pei Yunshu, while his tail swayed excitedly underwater, his facial markings appearing with an unusually deep shade of crimson.
In the next instant of the emerging facial markings, a subtle and enchanting desire lingered within his vertical pupils.
Pei Yunshu had thought the pills might be effective, but when he finished meditating, he still couldn’t summon even a trace of spiritual power.
He sighed. If it were indeed true, as the foxes had said, that he needed to get married to someone else in order to regain his spiritual power, how could he possibly return to marry Zou Yu?
With Hua Yue also absent, this fox clan’s secret realm was truly enigmatic, and there was no telling when they could leave.
Zhuyou’s voice came from the water’s surface. “What are you thinking about?”
“I’m thinking about this fox clan’s secret realm,” Pei Yunshu lightly furrowed his brows. “Hua Yue said we don’t need to worry about our lives here, but we have to protect our…”
He stopped short, his ears turning red as he realized what he had almost said.
Zhuyou pressed further, asking, “Protect what?”
“…Nothing,” Pei Yunshu feigned nonchalance, stood up, and walked toward the nearby trees. “I’m a bit hungry. I’ll find some fruits to eat.”
Zhuyou stared at his departing figure, his vertical pupils unmoving. He continued to watch until he saw Pei Yunshu wince from the sourness of a fruit. A trace of a smile flickered in his eyes. He guided some water currents to hunt a few wild chickens, cleaned them, and presented them to Pei Yunshu.
Seeing the wild chickens, Pei Yunshu paused for a moment, then burst into laughter.
He had come to understand that Zhuyou had an extraordinary fondness for chicken.
As a fire crackled, Pei Yunshu set the seasonings aside. He remembered the tangy fruits he had found earlier and thought they could also serve as seasoning. He plucked two of them, washed them, and squeezed their juice onto the chicken. As the juice dripped onto the meat, it sizzled and produced an enticing aroma. Both Pei Yunshu and Zhuyou, with half of his body still immersed in the water, fixated their gaze on the honey-colored chicken.
With nothing pressing to attend to, Pei Yunshu decided to make the dish even more delectable. He asked Zhuyou for a dagger and carefully separated the layers of meat before sprinkling a layer of salt. “Zhuyou, can you get some honey?”
Zhuyou stared at the chicken and nodded. After a moment, a honeycomb was brought over by the water. He even voluntarily asked, “Is there anything else you need?”
Pei Yunshu observed Zhuyou’s eager demeanor and found himself getting excited too. He tilted his head, pondered for a moment, but couldn’t recall any wild delicacies from the mortal realm. So, he shook his head regretfully and said, “No, that’s all.”
Zhuyou fell silent and continued to gaze, unblinking, at the roasting chicken.
The glistening honey flowed over the succulent roast chicken, combining with the sweet and tangy aroma of the fruits to create an intriguing scent. When it was nearly done, Pei Yunshu tore off a piece of meat and was about to test if it was cooked when he caught sight of Zhuyou’s intense stare.
He immediately turned his head and popped the chicken into his mouth. After swallowing, he turned back, covering his mouth with his hand, and mumbled, “It’s cooked, you can eat.”
Zhuyou continued to fixate on Pei Yunshu’s lips for a few moments. Pei Yunshu watched him warily, but eventually Zhuyou lowered his gaze, took the roasted chicken, and began to eat.
Pei Yunshu let out a sigh of relief.
Author’s Note: Yunshu (serious): The kiss while not fully conscious was a one-time thing, and that’s it.
Zhuyou: … dead flood dragon eyes