Qingyue sword came to a halt between the snow-covered mountains. Pei Yunshu looked down at the black hole and took out a porcelain bottle from his storage bag containing Clear Heart Pills. “Hua Yue, if you ever have impure thoughts, take a Clear Heart Pill immediately.”
Hua Yue nodded, “I understand.”
“In this icy wilderness, even impure thoughts can arise,” Young Master Qingfeng couldn’t resist mocking, “There are no frozen foxes here, only foxes with impure thoughts.”
Pei Yunshu glanced at Young Master Qingfeng and sighed. It was truly the case that appearances could be deceiving. Young Master Qingfeng seemed like a quiet person, but his words were quite sharp and hit close to home.
Once Hua Yue had taken the Clear Heart Pill, Pei Yunshu continued to descend towards the black hole. In a flash, they were at the edge of the dark abyss.
Being at the edge of the black hole, the extreme cold wasn’t as severe as before, and they finally felt some warmth.
The large golden characters next to the black hole were fierce and intimidating. The word for “divine dragon” was especially complex, winding and curling like a dragon in slumber. Staring at it for too long would make one dizzy, as if a real dragon were about to emerge from it.
Pei Yunshu remained calm, moving his gaze away from the characters, but it took him a while to refocus.
Beside the black hole, which seemed to have no end, Bai Lige dropped a stone, and Hua Yue’s fox ears popped up from his head. He listened carefully to the sound of the stone hitting the ground and after a while, turned to Pei Yunshu with a wry smile. “My fox ears can hear a flower blooming within a hundred miles, but I couldn’t hear the sound of that stone landing.”
Pei Yunshu walked closer to the black hole and looked inside. The entrance was pitch black, and the unknown always brought fear. Would there be a dragon inside? Would it be as big as this entrance?
“Do we still go in?” he asked softly.
“Of course we have to go in,” Bai Lige, clad in his silver armor, gripped his weapon and looked towards the black hole with anticipation. “I’ve been to many secret realms, but I’ve never entered a dragon’s secret realm.”
Pei Yunshu smiled. “I was thinking the same.”
“Are we sure about going in?” Hua Yue remembered the vivid images that had flashed through his mind earlier and asked anxiously, “What if we go in and start daydreaming again?”
“You told me earlier to hold on to my yuan yang,” Pei Yunshu whispered. “You’ve seen so many beautiful people, and as long as you hold onto your determination, entering a secret realm shouldn’t be too difficult for you.”
Bai Lige chuckled on the side, then turned serious as he looked at Young Master Qingfeng. “I know your strength goes beyond what you’ve shown. The dragon’s Secret Realm is filled with dangers. I hope you won’t be swayed by trivial matters. We need to work together to safely leave this realm.”
Young Master Qingfeng was just about to speak when Bai Lige casually suggested, “Why not make a heart demon vow?”
Young Master Qingfeng’s eyebrow twitched several times, but he reluctantly raised his hand and made a heart demon vow.
After making the necessary preparations, Pei Yunshu tightly gripped Qingyue Sword and leaped into the black hole!
Darkness enveloped them, and the sound of wind whistled past their ears. Pei Yunshu had a surge of spiritual power, but he couldn’t control his descent. He couldn’t see anything, and the darkness was so profound that it sent shivers down his spine.
Hua Yue exclaimed in surprise but quickly covered his mouth, afraid of disturbing something inside the black hole.
Pei Yunshu silently counted the time they had been falling. After what felt like half an hour, they suddenly felt a lightness in their bodies, and their spiritual energy became usable again.
Qingyue Sword instantly enlarged and flew beneath Pei Yunshu’s feet. He ignited a flame in his hand, illuminating their surroundings.
It was an empty space with uneven mud walls. There was a path leading from the left to the distance. The distant area seemed calm, but it was unknown what lay ahead.
Pei Yunshu adjusted his focus and stepped off the flying sword.
The ground was damp, and mud clung to their shoes as Pei Yunshu took a few tentative steps, but nothing unusual happened.
Rather than dissipating, the tension in the air seemed to intensify, making Pei Yunshu even more anxious. He took a deep breath and glanced at the others.
Bai Lige walked to his side, gazing intently at the path ahead. “Yunshu, you stay behind me. I’ll lead the way.”
Pei Yunshu, who had never argued with him, silently stood behind Bai Lige. Hua Yue climbed into Pei Yunshu’s arms, “Beauty Yunshu, Hua Yue can protect you too.”
“Let me protect you,” Pei Yunshu smiled. He then turned to Young Master Qingfeng and said seriously, “If you don’t want to take the rear, then let me handle it.”
Young Master Qingfeng looked at him, expressionless, and positioned himself behind.
As the group continued forward, nothing happened along the way. The secret realm remained eerily quiet, with only the sound of their breathing as they moved together. After an unknown amount of time, Pei Yunshu began to feel increasingly hot.
Sweat started to pour, soaking their clothes. The winter garments had become a burden, so they took off their thick clothing. However, even as they continued deeper into the secret realm, the heat only grew more oppressive.
Their black hair was damp, sticking to their faces. Bai Lige, with his easygoing manner, had already shed his armor and most of his clothing, leaving only his undergarments.
Pei Yunshu, feeling the heat, followed suit. He removed his outer garments and stored them in his bag, instantly feeling much lighter.
The rising heat slowly overwhelmed them, starting from their feet and creating an air of restlessness. Strangely, they even began to miss the icy landscapes they had encountered outside.
Eventually, Bai Lige had stripped down his top, revealing his well-built upper body, covered in sweat. He turned to advise his companions, “What’s more important, principles and values or your own comfort? Look at you both, wearing all that clothing. It’s so hot. Just follow my lead and take it off, there are no women around here.”
Hua Yue added, “Old Ancestor, you are leeting Yunshu to do the same, to go shirtless?”
Bai Lige turned to look at Pei Yunshu, and they exchanged a glance. Bai Lige was right; why should they be concerned about etiquette in this situation? If the heat was unbearable, they should remove their clothes to cool down. Pei Yunshu made up his mind, placed his hand on the fastened knot of his inner clothing, and was about to untie it when Young Master Qingfeng stopped him.
“What are you doing?” Young Master Qingfeng furrowed his brows deeply. “Do you think we’re all saints with no desires? Do you think that seeing you without clothes won’t affect me at all?”
Pei Yunshu was taken aback.
Pei Yunshu’s exposed shoulders had skin as fair as alabaster, smooth and radiant. However, his face seemed bewildered, his black hair hanging on his shoulders, and his complexion and lips were flushed from the heat.
Bai Lige turned his head to look at the dark path ahead, falling silent.
Young Master Qingfeng snorted and pulled Pei Yunshu’s clothes back onto his shoulders. “You and that little fox are both foxes. Do I need to explain fox characteristics to you?”
Bai Lige muttered, “I could just not look.”
Young Master Qingfeng retorted, “If he had no clothes on, could you resist looking?”
Bai Lige thought he could, but when the words reached his lips, he coughed.
“Even if you can resist looking,” Young Master Qingfeng finally showed some impatience, “I’m behind him. How can I not look?”
Pei Yunshu didn’t understand why Bai Lige going shirtless wasn’t an issue, but when he did the same, it seemed like he was akin to a decadent emperor in the mortal world, as though removing his clothes for the sake of comfort might lead to the downfall of an empire.
Pei Yunshu sighed and said, “I won’t take it off; I’ll endure it.”
Upon hearing this, Bai Lige’s face showed a hint of embarrassment. He said, “I don’t know how hot it is ahead… Yunshu, I’m sorry for inconveniencing you.”
Young Master Qingfeng, still quiet, took out another set of clothes from his sleeve and said, “Although you can’t undress, you can change into these clothes. It’s a set of dragon silk.”
Young Master Qingfeng was wearing the same red gauze that he had used to lure the mermaids. He handed a set of black dragon silk to Pei Yunshu.
As Pei Yunshu took the clothes, he felt a chill in his hands. The fabric was even smoother than silk, sliding through his fingers as if it were gliding on the wind. He knew that wearing it would be much cooler than his current attire.
Hua Yue grabbed Pei Yunshu’s clothing and said, “Beauty Yunshu, I’ll accompany you to change.”
Bai Lige smacked the back of Hua Yue’s head and said, “Now you’re not afraid anymore?”
“Change here; we’ll cover you,” Young Master Qingfeng frowned. “Although we’ve had no trouble so far, we shouldn’t let our guard down.”
Pei Yunshu nodded in agreement. He quickly changed his clothes. After all, they were all men; there was no need to hide or cover anything.
Every person here was not Zouyu, and every demon was not Zhuyou.
Bai Lige and Young Master Qingfeng simultaneously raised their clothes to create a secluded space for Pei Yunshu.
Underneath his inner garment, Pei Yunshu also wore underpants. He couldn’t understand their choices in such a situation, so he sighed and quickly changed his clothes.
As soon as the dragon silk touched his skin, he felt an immediate cooling sensation. It was as if he had immersed himself in seawater, and the oppressive heat instantly dissipated by half. It was no wonder him and Bai Lige had been suffering in the heat while Young Master Qingfeng felt fine with just forehead sweat.
The rustling of clothes filled the air, and soon, Pei Yunshu emerged from them. He was now dressed in all black, with his exposed skin appearing strikingly fair. Pei Yunshu grinned at the two who held their clothes. “Now I feel much more comfortable.”
Hua Yue sighed, “Even this fox feels so hot.”
But there was nothing to be done about it. They couldn’t exactly shave off the fox’s fur.
Pei Yunshu soothingly patted Hua Yue’s head, holding him, and continued walking forward. “The outfit you’re wearing now, Beauty Yunshu, is even more attractive than the sheer robe that Lord Zhuyou shed,” the fox commented. “Ah, where did Lord Zhuyou run off to? This is a dragon’s secret realm. If Lord Zhuyou were here, we’d definitely have an easier time.”
Pei Yunshu shook his head, covering his heart, and called out countless times, “Zhuyou?”
Silence reigned, with no response.
Because they didn’t know when danger might strike, they couldn’t recklessly charge forward with their swords. Instead, they remained cautious, moving slowly and keeping their guard up. They had no idea how long they had been walking, but their bodies felt unburdened despite the exhaustion that had taken over their spirits.
They stopped to rest twice along the way, taking sips of water to re-energize themselves. Then, they continued walking in the seemingly endless darkness.
Until Pei Yunshu couldn’t keep track of how much time had passed and arrived at a blank state of mind. At that moment, a fierce wind blew in, and at the end of the path, everything suddenly cleared up.
At the windy opening, they walked through it and saw a vast open space in front of them.
It was desolate.