The two of them had only left for a brief moment, but when they came back, the spiritual energy within the cave had become so dense that it almost felt like water droplets.
The fox deeply inhaled a few breaths of air, and in an instant, his enchanting face revealed an incredibly delightful expression. His cheeks turned rosy, and he spoke sweetly, “Beauty, the spiritual energy here is so comfortable.”
Pei Yunshu sat cross-legged on the ground, feeling quite the opposite. Unlike Huayue, all the spiritual energy was flowing into his body, and the dense and pure spiritual energy in the mystical realm presented him with many difficulties.
He closed his eyes and concentrated, gathering the spiritual energy into his dantian. The lustrous white core within him gradually moved toward the incoming spiritual energy. Pei Yunshu hadn’t even managed to separate it when the spiritual energy began pressing harder, and the white inner core suddenly moved into the midst of the spiritual energy.
Pei Yunshu gasped in surprise, but there was no time to separate it.
More spiritual power rushed into his body from the outside. If he only intended to form a golden core, these spiritual powers would be more than enough. However, this non-native core could also absorb, and as it absorbed, more spiritual energy entered his body, and the golden core was formed.
At the moment the golden core was formed, the spiritual energy in the air became stagnant. In that short moment, the translucent white core and golden core merged together!
In his past life, Pei Yunshu had naturally formed a golden core as well, but compared to the current situation, there was a world of difference. Perhaps it was due to the pure spiritual energy in the mystical realm, or perhaps it was because of that inner core within him.
When Huayue had fed him the inner core from the Four Month Snow Tree, Pei Yunshu had regained consciousness under the core’s effect. However, he couldn’t move his limbs at that time. Now, he couldn’t return the three-thousand-year-old Tree Spirit inner core to Huayue, and he felt very guilty.
Huayue, on the other hand, was quite open-minded. His lively eyes glanced around, and then he suddenly covered his face and hid. “Beauty…”
He hesitated for a moment, and his seductive eyes, dripping with shyness, turned towards Pei Yunshu. “Would you like to form a bond with me?”
Pei Yunshu was surprised for a moment, then he advised, “Isn’t it better to be free? Why form a bond with a cultivator?”
After a moment of thought, Huayue nodded in agreement. “Beauty is right. I love you so much, of course, I want to see all kinds of beauties in the world. Like your little junior brother, he’s a handsome young man, with rosy lips and white teeth, truly appealing to this fox.”
Every time he thought of Pei Yunshu’s little junior brother, he remembered the time he had tried to steal a kiss from Beauty Yunshu. Huayue secretly glanced at Pei Yunshu and decided not to tell him about it.
If he told Beauty about his little junior brother’s admiration, then neither he nor lord flood dragon would have a chance.
Lord flood dragon was relatively better off. At least he had already had a taste of the forbidden fruit. But for him, the fox, he hadn’t even touched Pei Yunshu’s hand a few times.
The spiritual energy in the cave gradually dissipated. Pei Yunshu paused for a moment. “My little junior brother is indeed beautiful.”
After saying this, he walked towards the stone bed. He was about to put away the towel and water he had just used when he suddenly remembered that his storage pouch was still with Zhuyou.
Because he couldn’t use spiritual power earlier, he had placed Qingyue Sword in the storage pouch.
Pei Yunshu was about to leave, but he realized he had no sword to defend himself. He looked at Huayue. “Huayue, can you take me to find Zhuyou?”
The fox straightened up and raised his head proudly. “Beauty, rest assured, wherever you go, I will follow. Even if Lord Flood Dragon is on h*ll’s eighteenth floor, I will find Lord Flood Dragon with you. But how could Lord Flood Dragon go to h*ll’s eighteenth floor? He is so majestic, with profound cultivation. After taking a tour in this mystical realm, who would have the greatest dignity? That must be Lord Flood Dragon.”
He took out a small boat the size of his palm from his storage pouch, infused it with spiritual energy, and the boat suddenly expanded, fitting the two of them comfortably.
Pei Yunshu boarded the boat. This delicate little boat had just left the cave when it encountered his senior brothers flying on their swords.
“Where is Junior Brother going?” eldest senior brother asked.
Pei Yunshu snapped out of his anxious state and, with a composed demeanor, bowed to his senior brothers. He said, “Thank you, senior brothers, for protecting Yunshu.”
The black hair on his back slid down his waist with the motion, and the pink tint that had previously stained his skin had faded away. He performed a lengthy bow, expressing his gratitude to each senior brother in turn, before slowly straightening up.
“No need to be so polite, junior brother,” Yuncheng smiled. “But Fourth Junior Brother, you have not yet told us where you intend to go.”
Pei Yunshu replied, “Senior brother, I lost my Qingyue Sword inside this secret realm. Now I’m going with Huayue to search for it.”
Third Senior Brother shook his folding fan in surprise. “You lost Qingyue Sword?”
Qingyue Sword was his lifebound magical treasure, yet he had managed to lose it. As soon as the words were spoken, Pei Yunshu turned even redder.
He remained silent.
Third Senior Brother laughed heartily, and Yuncheng joined in. He spoke, “Can Junior Brother handle it on his own?”
Pei Yunshu nodded repeatedly, “I can handle it alone.”
Though no one else could see, only Huayue by his side could perceive that Pei Yunshu’s calm appearance was just an act. His hand hidden beneath his sleeve was tightly gripping the cuff.
Hearing his response, Yuncheng turned to Eldest Senior Brother and said, “Since Fourth Junior Brother wishes to go alone, let him do so. Junior Brother has already formed his core, and in this secret realm, he can further temper himself and refine his cultivation.”
Eldest Senior Brother raised his dark eyes slightly and said, “Then it shall be as you say.”
Yuncheng turned back and, riding his sword, approached the direction of the small boat. In the next moment, he appeared beside Pei Yunshu and advised, “Junior brother, even though you have reached the Golden Core stage, you must still be very cautious.”
Pei Yunshu responded, “Yes, Senior Brother.”
Yuncheng reached into his sleeve and pulled out a delicate silver bracelet.
The bracelet was exquisitely crafted, with silver light flowing on its surface and intricate patterns. It also had a small golden bell hanging from it, which was so tiny, like a grain of rice, that it didn’t make a sound when Yuncheng held the bracelet in his hand.
“Junior Brother,” Yuncheng said with a gentle expression, “this is a bracelet I’ve crafted. It can withstand a full-powered attack from a nascent soul stage cultivator when in danger. Wear it and go on your way, and your senior brothers can feel rest assured.”
Pei Yunshu lowered his gaze and said, “Thank you, Second Senior Brother.”
Yuncheng moved his hand away from Pei Yunshu’s reach, instead circling around to Pei Yunshu’s wrist and personally fastening the silver bracelet for him.
“I’ll try to find the exit of this mystical realm in the next few days,” Yuncheng said, adjusting the bracelet carefully to make sure it was securely fastened. “Before that, Junior Brother, make sure to come back.”
With that, he stepped back, and Huayue cautiously glanced at him before urging the small boat forward.
As Pei Yunshu sat in the boat, he glanced at the bracelet on his wrist. He attempted to remove it with his other hand, but even with the use of spiritual energy, the bracelet didn’t budge.
In the end, he let his hand fall, concealing the bracelet under his robe.
As Huayue pondered which area had the greatest might, the small boat flew through more than half of the mystical realm, finally arriving at a familiar cliff.
Pei Yunshu snapped back to reality when he saw the familiar cliff. He took a step forward, and the small boat followed the cliff down. Just as they entered the forest, they heard the deafening cries of birds in the distance.
Pei Yunshu had only been gone for a couple of days since Yunwang had taken him away, but during those two days, he had formed a golden core. He wondered if Zhuyou had taken the White Ridge Flower properly and completed his transformation.
“Huayue,” Pei Yunshu said with a hint of worry, “Zhuyou should be near the Cold Pond.”
The boat sped up towards the Cold Pond. However, when Pei Yunshu and Huayue got off the boat, they found that the pond was devoid of the Lord Flood Dragon’s presence.
It was empty, as if the three days Pei Yunshu and Zhuyou had spent here had been nothing but an illusion.
“Zhuyou?” Pei Yunshu called out.
He walked toward the edge of the Cold Pond, and his reflection in the water was the only thing he saw. The water’s surface was clean, devoid of any traces of branches or fallen leaves.
Pei Yunshu was certain that Zhuyou was not in the water. Next to him, Huayue nervously said, “Beauty, why does Lord Flood Dragon’s majesty seem to have increased even more?”
Since Huayue put it that way, Zhuyou should still be nearby. Pei Yunshu stood up, took a quick step towards the cave, and entered it. “Zhuyou molted.”
When a snake transformed into a flood dragon, no one knew how many times the serpent would molt its skin. However, regardless of the number of times, each molting indicated a higher level of cultivation. In the end, transforming into a dragon.
Huayue exclaimed, “He truly is a magnificent being!”
As the two of them approached the cave’s entrance, they were greeted by a strong smell of blood. The scent carried the imposing aura of a flood dragon. Huayue, however, did not dare to approach, and he used a scented handkerchief to cover his nose before gently pushing Pei Yunshu into the cave.
As the light dimmed inside the cave, Pei Yunshu could smell the pungent scent of blood more strongly. He could also hear heavy breathing.
A large flood dragon with horns on its head was lying on the ground, and the smell of blood emanated from its body. In the dim cave, it was difficult to see clearly, but Pei Yunshu could make out that the flood dragon’s skin had completely shed off.
Pei Yunshu quickly approached and cast a spell. Firelight illuminated the area around him, revealing the flood dragon’s head pressed against its own body, eyes tightly shut.
This time, Pei Yunshu finally saw the dragon’s claw that had grown on its body. In the claw, there was a storage bag and a withered petal of a White Ridge Flower.
The long, sharp nails were stained with blood, and a piece of dragon skin, also stained with blood, had been discarded to the side. This piece of skin, which should have naturally shed, seemed to have been forcibly removed by Zhuyou.
Pei Yunshu’s breath caught in his throat. He hurriedly retrieved his storage pouch, but it was empty, as he had already used up all the pills and herbs he had prepared earlier. Zhuyou’s heavy and labored breathing sounded next to him. He threw down his storage pouch and used his spiritual energy to feed the White Ridge Flower to Zhuyou. He kept muttering, “Don’t wither, don’t wither, recover quickly.”
In his anxious state, a milky white spiritual energy emerged from his palm, mixed with his spiritual power. When this white energy approached the White Ridge Flower, it was instantly absorbed. After absorption, the withered petal of the White Ridge Flower regained its pure, crystal-clear appearance.
Pei Yunshu felt a wave of relief. He concentrated on manipulating this milky white spiritual energy. When the White Ridge Flower fully recovered, he pried open Zhuyou’s mouth and fed the entire flower into the flood dragon’s mouth.
Pei Yunshu, after completing the previous task, moved to Zhuyou’s back to inspect his tail.
What he saw was truly shocking, and Pei Yunshu’s heart sank. He silently squatted down, biting his lip to continue working. He picked up the torn scales from the ground, fetched a basin of water from the Cold Pond, and used a soft silk handkerchief to wipe away the blood from this gruesome mass of flesh.
Even if the skin had naturally molted before, the process would still be painful. Zhuyou had torn away this layer of skin forcefully, and as Pei Yunshu wiped and cleaned, his eyes reddened.
After wiping away the bloodstains, he placed his hand over the wounds, attempting to repair Zhuyou’s injuries, just as he had done with the White Ridge Flower. However, half an hour passed, and Pei Yunshu had expended most of his spiritual energy. There was no sign of improvement in Zhuyou’s horrifying wounds.
The black scales no longer appeared as sharp and formidable as before. Just after forming his core, now with depleted spiritual energy, the piercing pain went from the inside out. Beads of sweat formed on Pei Yunshu’s forehead, and at this moment, all he could do was persevere.
He even found himself wondering if the White Ridge Flower, which was so precious to human cultivators, would have any effect on such a large flood dragon.
As his internal spiritual energy was on the verge of exhaustion, Pei Yunshu rushed out of the cave and couldn’t care less about his embarrassment. “Huayue, do you have any healing pills or spiritual herbs left?”
Huayue was quite far away and responded, “Beauty, I’ve already used up all the valuable healing items on your body!”
“….” Pei Yunshu pursed his lips and, turning back to the cave, made a determined gesture, his robes forming an arc in the air. His determination could be seen even from his back.
Zhuyou still had not opened his eyes, and Pei Yunshu cautiously approached the flood dragon’s head. The flood dragon’s body was covered in scales, and his tongue, which had previously been long and bifurcated like a snake’s, was now hidden inside. Pei Yunshu nervously swallowed and stared at the small horn on top of Zhuyou’s head, telling himself that this was a flood dragon, not a snake. With newfound courage, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to the flood dragon’s.
The cold touch of Zhuyou’s lips sent shivers down Pei Yunshu’s spine. He resisted the urge to pull back and slowly parted his lips.
The inner core of the Four Month Snow Tree within his body sensed the presence of another formidable beast and, Zhuyou’s inner core as if aware that it held the means to save him, it emerged and stopped at the point where their lips met.
This inner core was too big, and even though Pei Yunshu had only taken half of it, he had to stretch his lips to their limit. This position was quite challenging, and after a short while, his jaw began to ache.
The Four Month Snow Tree within Pei Yunshu’s body sensed the presence of Zhuyou’s core and spontaneously released a wisp of milky-white spiritual energy, flowing towards the corner of Pei Yunshu’s lips.
The effect of this aura was far superior to the spiritual energy that Pei Yunshu had used earlier. The Three-Thousand-Year Four Month Snow Tree, a supreme treasure of heaven and earth, nourished his nearly depleted spiritual energy as it flowed within him.
Pei Yunshu, with great effort, continued to hold Zhuyou’s half of the inner core, using his consciousness to examine Zhuyou’s tail.
Perhaps due to the combined effects of the two sacred items, after some time, there were finally signs of healing on the wounds. Pei Yunshu let out a sigh of relief when he saw this. However, as he regained his senses, he felt a soreness in his mouth and had to look around aimlessly to distract himself from the discomfort.
His gaze wandered until it landed on Zhuyou.
Pei Yunshu had never seen a flood dragon before, and now that he had the chance, he couldn’t help but be curious and examine Zhuyou closely.
Zhuyou’s current appearance was quite different from a snake. The small horn on its head was about the size of a finger joint, short and straight. Pei Yunshu had heard that flood dragon horns were long and forked, so compared to a dragon’s horn, Zhuyou looked like a newly hatched dragon hatchling.
Thinking of this, Pei Yunshu couldn’t help but chuckle, and he glanced at Zhuyou. The big flood dragon was still asleep, completely unaware of what he was thinking.
Pei Yunshu became even bolder. He reached out to touch Zhuyou’s eyes, and as his fingers moved, he noticed that the flood dragon surprisingly didn’t have eyelashes. However, its breath was incredibly hot, and when it accidentally sprayed onto his wrist, it felt like hot water running over his skin.
Snakes were usually cold, but compared to snakes, flood dragons seemed to have warmth. Pei Yunshu wondered if, as a dragon, Zhuyou would become even hotter.
He indulged in these random thoughts for a while until the milky-white spiritual energy in the Four Month Snow Tree’s inner core inside his body came to a stop, and Pei Yunshu realized that it was done.
He carefully used his tongue to push out half of Zhuyou’s inner core, and the core, far from being afraid of him, actually spun around twice as if to show off its size, as if it wanted to display how huge it was.
Most monster cores were not particularly attractive, often having a dull appearance to blend in better and stay safe. However, the Four Month Snow Tree was different, and so was Zhuyou’s core. It shimmered with an all-over golden glow, free from any impurities. Its showy appearance made it even more dazzling.
Pei Yunshu chuckled, and the core returned to Zhuyou’s body. He stood up, feeling a bit numb in his legs from crouching for so long. After resting for a while, he slowly approached Zhuyou’s tail.
The wounds on Zhuyou’s tail had also healed, and scales had started to grow back. Pei Yunshu was finally relieved of his worries. He glanced around, found a spot, and sat down on the ground. With a wave of his hand, his storage pouch flew into his hand. He opened it and took out Qingyue Sword.
He had been too anxious earlier, rummaging through his pouch for herbs and forgetting to release the Qingyue Sword. He held the sword, a smile forming on his face. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”
The Qingyue Sword responded with a melodious hum and vibrated slightly, as if rubbing against his hand.
With a weapon in hand, the sense of security that no one could provide returned to Pei Yunshu. He took out a handkerchief and gently wiped the scabbard of his Qingyue Sword.
Swords had spirits, and scabbards were no exception. Though they couldn’t move, they were connected to the sword’s consciousness.
After wiping his cherished treasure until it gleamed with a blue light, Pei Yunshu put down Qingyue Sword and began searching for cultivation manuals within the sect.
He had very few books in his storage pouch, mostly sect rare books he had been reading since he was a child, as well as a few rare novels that the young attendants in his courtyard had secretly bought for him.
Pei Yunshu had memorized the contents of those storybooks and since he had nothing to do at the moment, he decided to search for some cultivation heart techniques.
After some effort, he finally found one book and neatly organized the rest. Just as he was about to put them away, he noticed a thin sheet of paper peeking out from under the layers of wooden boxes.
What was this?
Curiosity piqued, Pei Yunshu lifted the wooden boxes and retrieved the thin booklet.
Running his fingers over the pages, he thought deeply, unable to recall why this book would be in his storage pouch. One thing was certain, whether in his past life or the present, he had never seen this book before.
Pei Yunshu furrowed his brows, thinking hard. He had a feeling that he borrowed this book from the sect’s library and simply forgot to return it.
He opened the yellowed pages and began to read.
The booklet, consisting of only a few pages including the covers, told the life story of a great figure.
This great figure had a tumultuous life, enduring countless hardships and tribulations. Through adversity, they attained enlightenment and after achieving the Dao, founded the Shanshui Sect, which was now the foremost sect in the world.
This great figure followed the Dao of Ruthlessness, attaining profound cultivation and excelling as a sword cultivator. His strength was unparalleled in his generation, with no one capable of matching him. However, during his tribulation period, this great figure failed to withstand the Heavenly Thunder Tribulation. His physical body was destroyed, and his divine soul suffered damage.
Originally, to masters of the dao of Ruthlessness, one needed to embrace emotions and then return to ruthlessness to achieve enlightenment. In pursuit of this, he reincarnated his divine soul to start anew in his quest for enlightenment.
As Pei Yunshu finished reading this page, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe. He realized that their sect’s founder had undergone such experiences. Considering that Ling Qing Daoist Spiritual Master was a disciple of their sect’s founder, he wondered how their master and the elders of the various peaks felt when their founder’s physical body perished.
There was only one page left in this thin book. Pei Yunshu flipped to the last page and saw a portrait.
The person in the portrait had a cold and indifferent expression, but their inherent beauty couldn’t be concealed. They stood tall and elegant, with eyes that held both sword intent and a deep sense of indifference.
Beneath the portrait, strong brush strokes wrote a line: “Founder of the Shanshui Sect, Venerable Wuwang.”