The painting, with only a few strokes, vividly depicted the appearance of the great figure who had achieved the Dao of Ruthlessness, almost as if it was about to come to life.
Pei Yunshu’s hand trembled, and the thin booklet fell to the ground, raising a cloud of dust.
A difference of one character, yet their appearances were strikingly similar.
Pei Yunshu touched the stone wall of the cave as he stood up, his mind in a daze, and rushed outside. He passed by the sleeping Zhuyou, ran past the astonished Huayue at the entrance of the cave, and kept running until he reached the edge of the cold pool before jumping into it.
The icy cold water filled his nostrils, wetting his clothes, and his entire body was surrounded by a biting chill.
Pei Yunshu kept his eyes open, staring at the surface of the lake as he descended into the water.
To others, Yunwang might just bear some resemblance to the founder of the Shanshui Sect, considering the vastness of the world where similar-looking people were not uncommon.
Moreover, their auras were vastly different, and this alone easily set them apart.
The great figure who had transcended the Heavenly Tribulation, Venerable Wuwang, was the founder of the Shanshui Sect, be just a small disciple from Wuzhi Peak?
But Pei Yunshu knew what Yunwang, ten years later, looked like.
He was sinking deeper and deeper, the light fading, and it felt like there was only himself in the world.
His mouth and nose were blocked, his breathing constrained, and his eyes couldn’t see the ripples in the water or the people on the shore. It was desolate and lonely, plunging into darkness.
Ten years later, Yunwang looked exactly like the portrait in the book.
His beauty remained stunning, but his fully matured appearance combined with an air of indifference diluted the excessive elegance, giving him a blend of maturity and coldness. His brows were like distant mountains, his face akin to peach blossoms, and his sharpness was piercing.
He looked exactly like Venerable Wuwang.
His physical body was gone, his divine soul damaged, and his reincarnation served to understand the dao of Ruthlessness.
Pei Yunshu couldn’t help but find it laughable that he, a humble disciple of Shanshui Sect, had once harbored the delusion of contending with the reincarnation of their sect’s founder.
It was no wonder, no wonder his Master held Yunwang in such high regard.
The water beneath the cold pool was icy, as cold as the depths of an ice cave in December. Huayue on the shore shouted, “Beauty Yunshu! Come up quickly!”
His voice was filled with anxiety, but how could it penetrate the deep water?
Foxes were known to be afraid of water, he couldn’t dive underwater.
Fortunately, after a while, Pei Yunshu floated up from the water. His face was pale, and water droplets kept sliding off his cheeks and hair, creating ripples on the water’s surface.
Huayue hesitated and asked, “Beauty?”
Pei Yunshu floated on the water’s surface, his eyes looking into the distance, where the sky was dyed with rosy hues.
Had Yunwang, tainted by the secular world, arrived at Wuzhi Peak? Had he truly broken the Dao of Ruthlessness?
And if so, why did he harbor such strong aversion towards him? Why would someone practicing the Dao of Ruthlessness waste emotions on him?
“Beauty,” the fox used its demon powers to enlarge a leaf, cautiously standing on it as it floated towards Pei Yunshu. Concern was evident on its handsome face. “Did Lord Zhuyou bully you?”
Pei Yunshu smiled somewhat self-deprecatingly. “I’ve just come to understand some things.”
He reached out his hand, causing ripples in the water, and a withered yellow leaf floated into his hand.
In this vast world, he was confined to a small corner of it in the courtyard. Regardless of the jokes from his past life, he had already set his goals for this life—to travel the world and make the four seas his home.
Regardless of who Yunwang was or who their founder was, they could not sway his determination.
As he explored the Path of Ruthlessness, Pei Yunshu followed his own path. By not appearing before his little junior brother, he showed the utmost respect to their sect’s founder.
Pei Yunshu picked up the withered leaf, and his fingertips radiated spiritual energy, nourishing the leaf. Gradually, it came to life, transforming into a vibrant green, in harmony with the natural world.
He held the green leaf in his hand and looked at Huayue, flashing a gentle smile. “Huayue, thank you for the past few days. How about today, we prepare some food and have a bit of alcohol, and the two of us take a good rest?”
“Sounds great!” Huayue replied with an excited smile. Behind him, three fox tails emerged from under his robe, fluttering in the wind. “Beauty, wait for me. I’ll go catch some wild chickens!”
Pei Yunshu was momentarily surprised, but then he noticed that Huayue had already excitedly run off. He regained his senses and couldn’t help but smile.
Whether it was Zhuyou or Huayue, the wild chickens in the secret realm were destined to meet their fate of being eaten.
Pei Yunshu rose from the water, dried his clothes, and walked back into the cave. He quietly stared at the book that had been thrown on the ground for a moment, then flicked his fingertips, creating a small fire that quickly consumed the book.
By the time only ashes remained, Pei Yunshu had already left the cave. A gust of wind blew, scattering the ashes.
Due to Pei Yunshu’s limited cooking skills, he had to rely on seasonings. Fortunately, Huayue had much more experience in catching chickens than him, so Pei Yunshu roasted the chickens by the fire, while Huayue volunteered to gather some mushrooms to make soup for Pei Yunshu.
As the roasting and stewing continued, the aroma intensified. Thankfully, Zhuyou was still present, keeping other monsters at bay. Because of this, both Pei Yunshu and Huayue were in good spirits and their moods were high.
When Huayue’s soup was ready, Pei Yunshu took out a silver spoon from his storage bag, tied up his hair, and lowered his head to taste it.
The milky-white soup touched his lips, and the hot broth scalded his lips to a charming shade of red. Pei Yunshu’s expression was serious, and Huayue, feeling nervous, urged, “Beauty, is it delicious?”
“It’s quite good,” Pei Yunshu praised. “Very delicious.”
He scooped up another spoonful of the milky-white soup, but before he could put it in his mouth, a voice sounded, “What’s quite good?”
The voice was calm, and the person didn’t hesitate to step forward, opening his mouth to drink the soup from the spoon that Pei Yunshu was holding.
Pei Yunshu was startled, and his hand trembled, causing the spoon to empty before it reached the person. Otherwise, the hot soup might have spilled onto the person.
He wanted to turn and scold Zhuyou, but when he turned, his lips accidentally brushed against Zhuyou’s cheek.
Pei Yunshu covered his lips in shock.
Zhuyou’s profile was chilly, and the brief contact felt like touching cool morning dew. It was clean and pure, but no matter how clean it was, it was still a man’s face.
In broad daylight, in front of everyone, Pei Yunshu blushed. His long eyelashes quivered as he tried to maintain an appearance of indifference.
Zhuyou, who had never felt embarrassed when he was unconscious, now felt as if he had initiated the contact, making this coincidence incredibly awkward. He didn’t let Pei Yunshu off, turning his head to look at him and calmly saying, “You kissed me.”
His tone was flat, but it contained a hint of reproach, as if he were accusing Pei Yunshu of taking advantage of him.
“You…” Pei Yunshu couldn’t find the words to respond.
Something didn’t feel right, but he couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
He could only open and close his lips a few times, awkwardly saying, “I’m sorry.”
Zhuyou tilted his head, his black vertical pupils fixed on Pei Yunshu, as if contemplating something. After a moment, he leaned closer to Pei Yunshu and extended the tip of his tongue from his pale lips. His red tongue was about to touch Pei Yunshu when Pei Yunshu quickly raised his hand to block it. He looked surprised, and he stepped back a few steps. “What are you doing?”
Zhuyou withdrew his tongue, his voice husky as he repeated, “You kissed me sneakily.”
The word “kissed” made Pei Yunshu’s face even hotter. He hastily explained, “It was accidental, not a stolen kiss.”
“I didn’t mean to either,” Zhuyou replied indifferently.
Zhuyou, seeing that Pei Yunshu had fallen silent, slowly approached him again. However, Pei Yunshu kept pushing him away.
Zhuyou lowered his head, his hand covering Pei Yunshu’s hand that was blocking him. The scalding heat made Pei Yunshu’s arm tremble, and goosebumps seemed to appear. He quickly pulled his hand away, and Zhuyou did the same. However, his red, almost black, eyes continued to stare at Pei Yunshu.
“You left,” he said, “without telling me.”
Pei Yunshu was utterly speechless.
The soup was bubbling nearby. The fox, who had trouble breathing since Zhuyou appeared, finally mustered the courage to speak. Trembling, he said, “Lord Zhuyou, Beauty Yunshu, please eat while it’s hot.”
Zhuyou gave him a fleeting glance, and the nervous fox “thumped” as he transformed back into his original form. His brownish-yellow fur stood on end, and his legs trembled as if he were about to run away at any moment.
Pei Yunshu, taking advantage of Huayue’s words, quickly sat down by the fire, pretending to focus on the roasting chicken.
He didn’t know how to respond to Zhuyou’s words. When Zhuyou transformed into human form, the flood dragon horns on his head made him appear even more formidable. The words Zhuyou had just said made Pei Yunshu feel like he had really taken advantage of Zhuyou.
When Yunwang took him away, how could he have told him?
Sitting beside Pei Yunshu, Zhuyou stared at the roasting chicken for a while. Suddenly, Pei Yunshu felt a cool sensation around his ankle. He looked down, and it turned out that a piece of snake’s tail had pushed aside his pants and wrapped around his ankle.
The joints of his ankle were slightly protruding, as fair as creamy jade. The snake tail seemed to like it very much, and it even tried to move upwards from the trouser leg. However, the snake tail was thicker than before, more than twice as large, and it got stuck when it tried to reach the upper part of his leg.
“….Zhuyou!” Pei Yunshu exclaimed.
The snake tail hesitated for a moment, then suddenly became sticky. His thighs also suddenly felt a burning sensation, and Pei Yunshu felt as if the piece of fabric had turned into a thick snake, wriggling inside his pants.
He was so frightened that he stood up abruptly, glaring at Zhuyou. There was a hint of fear in his eyes. “Turn it back into a piece of fabric!”
The sensation of the snake slithering was truly terrifying. When he was treating Zhuyou’s injuries earlier, he could still deceive himself into thinking that he was a flood dragon and not a snake. But now, that piece of fabric clearly had turned into a snake.
He looked genuinely pitiful. Zhuyou blinked his eyes, and in the next moment, Pei Yunshu found himself still sitting obediently by the fire, his legs clean and free of snakes or Zhuyou’s tail. It turned out that the whole incident just now was an illusion.
Even though it was an illusion, Pei Yunshu remained silent. He poked the fire with a stick, and with each poke, the flames danced.
Zhuyou cautiously used his fingertips to poke Pei Yunshu’s cheek, but Pei Yunshu turned his head away and refused to look at him.
Zhuyou frowned, then held Pei Yunshu’s face, turning it back towards him.
His displeasure grew rapidly, and he asked, “Why won’t you look at me?”
Pei Yunshu struggled to break free from his grip and kept his eyes down, not saying a word.
The fragrance wafted in the air, and the fox watched carefully as Pei Yunshu, with a slight finger movement, flipped the chicken on the grill from a distance.
Drops of oil sizzled and fell into the fire, causing it to briefly flare up before returning to its calm state.
Zhuyou’s gaze carried confusion and irritation as he approached and licked the corner of Pei Yunshu’s eye.
The sensation of a wild creature getting closer could make anyone feel a deep sense of danger. Pei Yunshu’s long, fan-like eyelashes trembled lightly, and he pursed his lips without making a sound.
Unable to turn his head, he stubbornly refused to show any weakness.
There was a faint, pleasant fragrance about him, mingled with the scent of sandalwood, emanating from his clothes. It was neither strong nor weak, just right, and Zhuyou liked it.
Zhuyou licked Pei Yunshu’s eye corner and was about to continue when a silk handkerchief blocked his way.
Pei Yunshu had taken out the handkerchief, using his spiritual power to hold it up. Even though he knew it wouldn’t stop Zhuyou, he still did it.
“Look at me,” Zhuyou said, his blood-red eyes growing impatient.
The deep pool suddenly exploded, and water poured from the sky, drenching the area in a sudden downpour.
The fox let out a sharp scream and quickly erected a protective barrier, narrowly avoiding getting drenched. These waters would target the weaker fox, but around someone as formidable as Lord Zhuyou, not only water but even the wind dared not blow in his direction.
“I don’t like it,” Pei Yunshu finally spoke after a long while. He raised his eyes. “I don’t like snakes, and I don’t like you putting me in illusions and using snakes to deceive me.”
As he spoke about what he didn’t like, he felt like he wasn’t just talking to Zhuyou.
Zhuyou frowned stubbornly, “Snakes aren’t cute, but flood dragons are.”
Now that he had completely transformed into a flood dragon, he started disliking snakes too.
“…,” Pei Yunshu’s anger suddenly dissipated. He found it somewhat amusing. Zhuyou didn’t understand anything, so what was the point of arguing with him?
He pulled Zhuyou’s hand away, and when Zhuyou saw that he was finally acknowledging him, he also let go of his hands that were holding Pei Yunshu’s face.
The chicken was almost cooked, and when Huayue saw that things had calmed down, he conjured a table and placed the stew on it. Then he took out several palm-sized white porcelain bottles, removed the stoppers, and a strong aroma of alcohol wafted out. After everything was ready, Huayue asked hesitantly, “Lord Zhuyou, Beauty Yunshu, would you like to have some alcohol together?”
Pei Yunshu cut the roasted chicken into small pieces with a dagger and placed it on the table. Huayue transformed back into human form, his long sleeves swishing through the air as he expertly poured three cups of alcohol.
“This alcohol is not my fox boasting. It’s brewed from the waters of the Far East, and we’ve added only the most precious ingredients. Don’t even talk about a cup; a single drop can make someone feel like they’re in paradise. Everyone who’s tried it has nothing but praise for it.”
When the fox got nervous, he tended to talk more. Pei Yunshu had always tuned him out when he couldn’t stop talking, but when he heard this, his curiosity was piqued. He downed a small cup of alcohol in one gulp but only sensed the fragrance of the alcohol, without any extraordinary effects.
The fox added, “But be careful; the alcohol is quite strong, and you shouldn’t drink too much.”
After he said this, Zhuyou turned to look at Pei Yunshu. Pei Yunshu’s eyes were tinged with red at the corners, and his lips were rosy. His eyes were hazy, showing signs of being affected by the alcohol.
Zhuyou watched him, and it seemed like he saw something he really liked, his eyes lighting up in an instant.
He lowered his gaze to the alcohol in his hand and handed it to Pei Yunshu. “Drink.”
Pei Yunshu looked at him in a daze, his cheeks already flushed. With a slow and uncertain movement, he took the cup from Zhuyou’s hand. Just as he was about to bring it to his lips, he became dizzy and accidentally spilled the alcohol on his clothes.
The rich scent of alcohol emanated from him, and it was unclear whether it came from his clothes or the fragrance on his lips. Zhuyou reached out and touched a drop of clear alcohol that had splashed onto his cheek, and the alcohol fragrance also clung to his fingertips.
Pei Yunshu suddenly stood up, staggering towards the edge of the cold pool, his brow furrowing. “I need to take a bath.”
Zhuyou followed him, and after a few steps, he suddenly turned to look at Huayue. He moved his fingers slightly, and a thin barrier enclosed the two roasted chickens that Pei Yunshu had made.
No one else could touch them except him.
Pei Yunshu walked behind a large rock. He didn’t notice Zhuyou following him. With a flick of his wrist, his outer robe slipped off.
Without the cover of his large robe, Zhuyou finally noticed the slender silver bracelet on his wrist. The bracelet glided gracefully over his wrist bones, shimmering with a delicate silver glow, exceptionally beautiful.
Zhuyou smelled someone else’s scent on the bracelet, and he frowned, stepping forward to hold Pei Yunshu’s hand.
Pei Yunshu was suddenly pulled back, and he turned to look at Zhuyou, taking a while to react. He asked in confusion, “I’m going to take a bath. Why did you follow me?”
Zhuyou fiddled with the bracelet on his wrist and asked, “What is this?”
Pei Yunshu looked at his own hand under Zhuyou’s gaze, imitating Zhuyou’s posture as he tilted his head in puzzlement. “I don’t know.”
He said softly, “I don’t like it.”
He even hated it.
But in his drunken state, Pei Yunshu was far from clear-headed. He shook his head and stared at the bracelet, and Zhuyou slipped his finger under the bracelet, his nails transforming into flood dragon claws covered in scales. He felt delighted, “I’ll tear it off.”
Pei Yunshu was about to nod, but then he felt it wasn’t right. He quickly withdrew his hand from Zhuyou’s grasp and covered the bracelet. “Not now.”
A hiccup escaped him.
But it would eventually be torn off, and Zhuyou nodded, saying to Pei Yunshu, “Go and take your bath.”
Pei Yunshu obediently responded with an “Oh,” but he hadn’t even removed his inner robe before stepping into the water.
His black hair floated on the water’s surface, and Zhuyou had heated the area around him, making it steamy. He stood still and watched, the demonic patterns on his face spreading once again. However, despite watching, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss.
Wasn’t mating just a matter of coiling his tail around Pei Yunshu’s lower leg? Why did it feel even more uncomfortable the last time he did it?