After finding an inn, the three of them rested there for a day.
A waiter served tea, and Huayue took a sip to moisten his throat before continuing, “We are still three days away from the Demon Ghost Market. Tomorrow, we will pass by a place called the Fate Connection Temple. They say it’s famous for its accurate matchmaking predictions. Moreover, the young monks there are exceptionally handsome!”
Pei Yunshu took a sip of tea and smiled at his words.
After leaving the secret realm and facing the suddenly vast world, Pei Yunshu felt a bit overwhelmed. Huayue had suggested that they visit the hundred-yearly Demon Ghost Market that was about to take place.
As they traveled, met fellow travelers, and saw things they had never seen before, Pei Yunshu’s smile gradually grew more frequent.
He was no longer dressed in white robes, and his tied-up hair was exceptionally simple. But when he smiled, his features were clear and radiant, like a fragrant flower that brightened up the world.
Zhuyou leaned on the side, lazily looking at him. After seeing him smile, he reached out to touch the corner of Pei Yunshu’s lips. Throughout the journey, Zhuyou had been like this. If Pei Yunshu avoided his touch, he would insist on touching him. However, if Pei Yunshu allowed it, he would be satisfied and let go.
Pei Yunshu didn’t move, and as expected, after Zhuyou touched his lips, he released his hand. But this flood dragon had no shame; after letting go of Pei Yunshu, he took the same finger that had touched Pei Yunshu’s lips and brought it to his nose, sniffing the tea fragrance lingering on it.
Pei Yunshu’s ears turned slightly red, and he whispered, “Zhuyou!”
Zhuyou glanced at him, his gaze fixed on Pei Yunshu’s earlobe, then lowered his eyes, concealing the dark and complex emotions within them.
As for the Fate Connection Temple that Huayue mentioned, they indeed encountered it the next day.
The temple was situated on a hillside, surrounded by peach trees. When the gentle breeze blew, pink peach petals drifted through the air, making the temple seem like a place where Yuelao* resided, filled with beauty without vulgarity.
* god of marriage and love
Pei Yunshu shook off the falling petals and couldn’t help but chuckle when he looked at Zhuyou.
Zhuyou also had a few daring petals fall on him. Two of them happened to land near his flood dragon horn, and if he hadn’t covered the horn, they might have landed on its sharp tip. With his cold and eerie eyes, when the petals covered his head, he actually looked a bit cute.
Pei Yunshu reached out to brush off the petals from his jet-black hair. Zhuyou looked at him, then reached out to pluck a peach blossom and held it, as if he wanted to insert it into Pei Yunshu’s hair.
Pei Yunshu quickly took a step back. “Where did you learn all these things?”
Zhuyou’s eyes began to flicker. He didn’t say anything but beckoned with his fingers. Pei Yunshu was suddenly pushed toward him by a gust of wind, and just as he was about to fall into Zhuyou’s arms, the force behind him disappeared.
Just as he stood firm, his ear was touched by a cold hand. Zhuyou inserted the peach blossom near Pei Yunshu’s ear. It seemed like he did it on purpose, because the flower was already placed, but his hand still touched Pei Yunshu’s earlobe.
The soft flesh was kneaded for a while, and it started to heat up. Pei Yunshu tilted his head to avoid Zhuyou’s hand. Before he could say anything, he felt his earlobe being moistened—it had been taken into Zhuyou’s mouth.
The shameless flood dragon wrapped his lips around the earlobe, and his teeth gently brushed against the flesh, emitting a wild and satisfying swallowing sound.
Pei Yunshu was completely caught off guard. When he finally reacted, Zhuyou had already left a series of kisses behind his ear. In a hurry, Pei Yunshu pushed him away, causing Zhuyou to bump into a tree trunk. The light and fragrant peach blossoms immediately showered down like a fragrant rain.
Through the petal rain, Pei Yunshu noticed that the demonic markings on Zhuyou’s face had already surfaced. These markings extended down his neck and continued beneath his clothing.
Pei Yunshu subconsciously glanced downward, and his face changed colors. Blushing and turning pale, he quickly shook his sleeves and distanced himself.
Zhuyou, left behind, looked down in confusion.
There was only one person in the picture.
He had two.
Didn’t like it?
Huayue had arrived at the mountain ahead of them. By the time Pei Yunshu and the others reached the temple, the easy speaking fox had already made friends with everyone.
The abbot of the temple was also a cultivator, an old man whose smile resembled that of Maitreya Buddha, warm and friendly. As soon as he saw Pei Yunshu, he exclaimed in surprise, “Benefactor, may I examine your pulse?”
Pei Yunshu suppressed his irritation, rolled up his sleeve, and extended his wrist to the old monk.
Zhuyou saw this as soon as he arrived and immediately changed into a hostile look. His crimson demonic markings emerged, and in just an instant, he had pulled Pei Yunshu away from the old monk, growling softly.
Startled, the abbot quickly reassured Zhuyou, “No need to worry, I just want to examine the young friend’s pulse.”
Zhuyou’s imposing aura was terrifying, his arm encircling Pei Yunshu’s waist grew scales, and his flood dragon horn emerged. His beastly eyes were filled with fury, and his appearance was fearsome.
Pei Yunshu, in his arms, was tightly embraced by him. He was the closest to Zhuyou and was most aware of Zhuyou’s transformation.
A red light glimmered in his black vertical pupils, resembling the moment when he lost his mind in the icy pool. Pei Yunshu’s heart skipped a beat, and he whispered, “Zhuyou, it’s okay, there’s no danger here.”
Zhuyou heard his words and lowered his head to look at him.
With eyes devoid of emotion, Zhuyou’s gaze was locked onto Pei Yunshu. Pei Yunshu clenched his teeth, hooked his fingers around Zhuyou’s neck, and closed his eyes. He leaned in quickly.
He placed a precise kiss on Zhuyou’s lips, then hastily withdrew, no longer daring to look at the abbot and Huayue beside him.
Zhuyou allowed Pei Yunshu to move away from his embrace, maintaining the previous posture, and he touched the corner of his mouth. When he looked at Pei Yunshu again, Pei Yunshu was standing to the side, pretending as if nothing had happened. However, his flushed cheeks gave away the fact that he had indeed initiated the kiss.
The demonic markings receded like a tide, and Zhuyou lowered his gaze, looking somewhat dazed.
Huayue, who had been hiding behind the old monk, saw that Zhuyou had calmed down, and they both breathed a sigh of relief. The abbot took a step closer to Pei Yunshu, and Zhuyou was still touching his lips, showing no signs of another outburst.
“Benefactor,” the abbot expressed gratitude to Pei Yunshu, “you saved my life.”
Pei Yunshu felt embarrassed; it had nothing to do with the abbot. There was no need for him to express gratitude.
“It’s nothing, abbot.”
The abbot smiled, stroking his beard, and then turned serious. “May I examine your pulse?”
Pei Yunshu extended his hand in front of him, and the abbot, glancing cautiously at Zhuyou, placing his hand over Pei Yunshu’s pulse.
After a moment, he carefully examined Pei Yunshu’s complexion and revealed a confirming expression. He said, “Young friend, do you know that there is a Gu insect inside your body?”
Pei Yunshu was taken aback. “What?”
The abbot saw his reaction and realized that he was unaware. He sighed and withdrew his hand. “Someone has planted a gu insect on you. Inside your body is a child Gu insect, and if I’m not mistaken, it has been awakened by someone.”
Huayue gasped in shock, and Pei Yunshu turned even paler.
Seeing their expressions change, the abbot hurriedly explained, “This Gu insect is called the ‘Emotion Bound Gu.’ It is a beneficial creature with no drawbacks. There’s nothing to worry about. However, once the mother Gu insect has fed on its owner’s blood, the child Gu insect, in this case, will also awaken. The mother and child Gu insects are a pair, and the farther apart they are, the stronger their mutual affection. To attract the distant mother Gu insect, the mature child Gu insect will emit a unique fragrance as a signal.”
The abbot cleared his throat and said, “It’s just this fragrance, not only the mother gu can smell it.”
“…,” Pei Yunshu clenched his fist, his heart sank, “Abbot, if there’s anything else, please tell me.”
Zhuyou saw the expression on Pei Yunshu’s face and his gaze at the abbot turned fierce again.
Under Zhuyou’s gaze, the abbot trembled slightly and said with a wry smile, “Since this gu is named the ‘Emotion-Bound Gu,’ it must be related to emotions. If the child gu doesn’t awaken, there’s no need to worry. However, if it does awaken, when it matures, it will go through two emotional fluctuations.”
Pei Yunshu closed his eyes for a moment, trying to calm his breathing. “… Will these emotional fluctuations… be severe?”
If he hadn’t come to this Fate Connection Temple today, if he hadn’t met this abbot, would he only have realized that there was a gu worm hidden inside him when something abnormal happened?
“You can rest assured about that,” the abbot said with a firm tone, finally saying something reassuring. “Since the child gu is far away from the mother gu, even if it awakens, the emotional fluctuations won’t be too severe. Just recite the Clear Heart Mantra a few times to resist it.”
Pei Yunshu breathed a sigh of relief but then smiled wryly. He lowered his gaze to the ground for a moment before looking up at the old abbot again.
“What if I were to take a healing core medicine?”
Could the inner core of the Four Month Snow Tree in his body expel this gu insect?
The abbot chuckled, “This is a beneficial gu. How could it be expelled effectively?”
Pei Yunshu pursed his lips and continued, “Abbot…. is there a way to remove this Emotion-Bound Gu from my body?”
The old monk stroked his beard and responded with a question, “Where are you headed?”
Huayue interjected, “We’re heading to Demon Ghost Market, Old Monk. Is there any way to get rid of this gu for my Beauty Yunshu?”
“If you’re going to the Demon and Ghost Market, then there is a way,” the old abbot said. “In the market, there’s a renowned ghost doctor who has an extraordinary understanding of such matters. If he lends a hand, he can certainly extract this gu from your body. However, this Emotion-Bound Gu is quite a valuable item. Young friend, are you really willing to part with it?”
Pei Yunshu replied firmly, “I am.”
It was noon, the perfect time for a meal. After finishing their vegetarian lunch, Pei Yunshu stepped out of his room and saw a massive old peach blossom tree in the courtyard.
Pei Yunshu developed a slight fondness for this peach tree. He approached it and gently placed his hand on the trunk.
A childlike voice emanated from the peach blossom tree, “Sir, are you a tree demon?”
Pei Yunshu smiled and replied in a gentle tone, “No, I’m not.”
The young voice responded with an “Oh,” and then proudly declared, “I’m the first tree spirit to awaken in the entire mountain. When I reach a higher level of cultivation, I’ll become a tree demon.”
Pei Yunshu praised the young tree spirit with a smile.
The little tree spirit continued cheerfully, “Sir, they say that making wishes for love in front of me is very effective. Would you like to make a wish too?”
Pei Yunshu was momentarily stunned, and he looked up to see red sachets hanging from the branches of the peach tree.
Zhuyou walked up behind him, and as soon as he stepped forward, a sachet fell directly into Pei Yunshu’s arms. Pei Yunshu instinctively caught it but then didn’t know what to do with it.
Zhuyou lightly glanced at the sachet in Pei Yunshu’s hand and then looked up at him. He raised his hand cautiously and attempted to poke Pei Yunshu’s lip, but just as it was about to make contact, Pei Yunshu sensed that something was amiss.
His nose detected the scent of spices, and he instinctively opened his mouth, allowing the object to enter. He then realized that it was a fragrant piece of meat jerky.
Eating meat within the temple was certainly taboo. Pei Yunshu discreetly looked around, cleared his throat, and asked Zhuyou in a hushed tone, “Where did this come from?”
Zhuyou didn’t answer; instead, he asked, “Do you want more?”
Pei Yunshu hesitated for a moment, glanced around again to make sure no monks were nearby, and then nodded.
Since entering the hermitage, Pei Yunshu had only eaten roasted chicken that he and Zhuyou had prepared together. He had almost forgotten the taste of worldly food. He initially thought that Huayue’s stew was the pinnacle of culinary delights, but these days he had discovered that there were countless delicious dishes in the world, and these snacks were just a small sample.
Zhuyou raised an eyebrow and gently touched his own pale lips with his hand. He lowered his head, his black eyes fixed on Pei Yunshu, unblinking. “Kiss.”
“…..” Pei Yunshu paused, then slowly said, “In that case, I won’t eat.”