“It will hurt.”
Murong Lian clenched his teeth and said: “Do you remember that back then, I locked Gu Mang up for a month as punishment?”
“Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“Hm? Why does Murong-dage know about stuff like this?”
“If someone approaches the clear spring pond when they are weak and deficient in qi1[the circulating life force which existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine], there’s a possibility that they might be possessed by evil spirits.” Murong Lian said, “Gu Mang was hungry, so he crouched by the edge of the pond, and even used his hands to catch those fish.”
“…There isn’t a single going-on in Luomei Garden Villa that I don’t know.” Murong Lian cleared his throat, then continued, “Gu Mang’s act of fishing had attracted the attention of Li Qingqian’s sword spirit that was suppressed in the pond, and so Li Qingqian temporarily latched onto Gu Mang…”
Yue Chenqing gasped: “Then Li Qingqian incited the demonic energy within Gu Mang, and caused him to rampage?”
“No.” Murong Lian said, “At that time, he wasn’t capable of this yet. He was also extremely weak and unable to possess Gu Mang for long. In order for him to invade for the long-term, it must be when the target is at their weakest and on their last legs, but Gu Mang was just hungry.”
He paused, then narrowed his eyes: “So Li Qingqian used this only bit of time granted to him to do one thing.”
Murong Lian: “He injured someone grievously.”
“Ah, that cook!”
“Precisely.” Murong Lian’s tone was dark, “Li Qingqian urged Gu Mang to use his sword array to injure that cook from the Liao Kingdom, but spared his life, and in this way, he now had a target that he could possess for a long period. He then waited for an opportunity, incited the demonic energy within Gu Mang, facilitating his rampage and shattering the barrier. He himself used that cook’s body and made his escape amidst the chaos.”
Yue Chenqing said: “So if he has such a great understanding of Gu Mang, to the point of being able to incite Gu Mang’s demonic energy, he’s definitely from the Liao Kingdom!”
“While Li Qingqian himself is not from the Liao Kingdom, for unknown reasons, he has become a sword spirit, so we can assume that he is indeed the weapon of a Liao cultivator.” Murong Lian paused for a moment, and added, “And most likely the weapon of a high-ranking cultivator.”
When he finished speaking, he lowered his head, used his pipe to prod those shrunken blades, and asked Yue Chenqing: “Take a look, are you able to figure out which one is his vessel?”
This was not a difficult task, and could be considered a basic skill passed down within the Yue family. Yue Chenqing closed his eyes and focused for a short while, before suddenly opening his eyes. Reaching out, he picked up one of the tiny swords: “It’s this one!”
“Good.” Murong Lian then took the sword the size of a broad bean and placed it on his palm, silently muttering an incantation. His palm lit up, and in an instant, the broad bean-sized sword turned into a light, translucent sword covered in zoomorphic markings, as brilliant as clear waters. An inscription of two standard characters, “Hongshao2[红芍; translates to red peony]” was engraved on the sword.
“Hm? This is clearly a jade blue-coloured sword, why was it given the name Hongshao?” Yue Chenqing pondered curiously, “Besides, it’s obvious that these two characters were branded by the sword spirit himself after someone had sacrificed him to the sword. Li Qingqian was sacrificed into a sword, but why isn’t it called the Qingqian Sword, or Water Parting Sword, but the Hongshao Sword?”
Murong Lian said: “Don’t worry about the reasons, thoroughly destroy this sword for me first.”
“D-D-D-Destroy the sword?” Yue Chenqing was startled, frantically shaking his head as he said, “No way, that’s too difficult, disintegrating a spirit-infused relic is an advanced spell of the Yue Family, I won’t be able to use it well!”
Murong Lian cursed, and asked, “Then how long will it take for you to go back to the Yue Manor and find someone who can?”
“There isn’t such a person!” Yue Chenqing exclaimed, “This spell is way too dangerous, my dad doesn’t teach it to just anyone, and he himself isn’t at the capital…”
“Then what about your uncle3[伯父 (bofu) refers to elder uncle on his father’s side of the family]?”
“He doesn’t know how to!”
“…Your Fourth Uncle4[舅 (jiu) refers to uncle on mother’s side of the family]?!”
Yue Chenqing felt wronged by this: “It’s not like you don’t know him, he’s never given me any attention. Even if he’s in the capital, I don’t really know where he could be…”
Murong Lian raged: “Oh blah blah, stop giving me all these excuses. After all you’ve said, aren’t we only left with you, you piece of trash! So you’ll just have to do!”
He deeply regretted not studying much when he needed the knowledge the most. In this situation at present, they had already seen through Li Qingqian’s identity as a sword spirit. Right now, it was a question of whether or not he will let them go. Even if he really did let them escape, if they could not immediately destroy this Hongshao Sword, it would all be in vain.
Yue Chenqing had no choice but to say with a bitter expression: “…Okay, then I’ll give it a try. But if by any chance I fail, can you…”
Murong Lian sneered: “Rest easy, if you fail, I’ll make sure to dig out all of your guts.”
Yue Chenqing: “…”
It was exactly as Yue Chenqing had said: destroying a regular weapon wasn’t particularly difficult. All you had to do was find a brute with the strength to smash rocks with his chest and exert some force to snap it into two, but it was difficult destroying a spirit-infused weapon. Yue Chenqing broke the skin of his thumb by biting it to draw blood, placed the Hongshao Sword on the ground, then began to draw a sigil around the sword vessel. The sigil was truly too complicated, and he could not recall it clearly, repeatedly fixing it several times. He made Murong Lian extremely restless.
“Are you done yet?”
“Don’t rush me, the more you rush me, the more I’ll mess up.”
“Hurry up, I want to go back and smoke!”
Murong Lian’s craving for Rapture had started to surface. His complexion was worsening, the rim of his eyes burning up slightly, and even on his pale face, a sickly flush had surfaced. He lowered his head to glance at his pipe, and noticing that there was still some dirty corpse blood that hadn’t been wiped off it, he was utterly disgusted, closed his eyes and leant to the side.
“I’m done, I’m done! I’m done drawing! There’s definitely no mistakes this time!” Yue Chenqing shouted. He hurriedly sat down in front of the blood sigil with his legs crossed, closing his eyes and formed a hand gesture.
Murong Lian held back the irritation churning in his chest, narrowing his eyes to look at this youth that had begun to incantate with the airs of someone who knew what he was doing. As he chanted the scriptures, the sigil on the ground glowed with a gentle white light, as though wrapping the Hongshao Sword in thin threads of divine energy.
“Into the urn thy blood drips, from thy bones the blade forged.”
The rays of light began to gradually shine brighter, and the Hongshao Sword emitted a sharp screech, trembling slightly.
“The glint within the case: a once-beloved in dreams of longing.”
Evidently, Li Qingqian had also felt something off within the cave. He turned his head, his straight eyebrows tense with anger, and spat out through clenched teeth: “That little rascal from the Yue family! Ruining my grand plans!”
He wanted to attack him in a flying assault, but was met with Mo Xi’s sword blocking him. Li Qingqian’s fury intensified: “Get out of my way, you!”
In his hands, the Water-Parting Sword Technique was so quick that only its afterimages were visible, yet he still could not break free. All that could be heard was the clang of metal against metal, the sparks from friction spattering all over the dreary cave.
In a moment of desperation, Li Qingqian suddenly raised his head and howled, a large cloud of black miasma bursting forth from his chest. The black haze coalesced into a sizzling talisman in his palm, then quickly launched it towards Gu Mang.
That talisman was the Liao Kingdom’s most advanced Demon Summoning Talisman, and throughout the Kingdom, there were fewer than ten people who knew how to use it. Yet, they now saw the talisman disintegrate into several hundreds of flying arrows with demonic energy curling around them midair, uniformly fired at Gu Mang! Seeing that they were about to pierce through the barrier, Mo Xi flew over in front of Gu Mang. He held the Shuairan Sword upright. With a twist of its blade, light illuminated his face.
Mo Xi commanded “Unleash, Lotus Snake Array!”
In a split second, several thousands of fissures split through Shuairan Sword in his hands and red light shone through, unfurling like a suddenly blossoming thousand-petaled lotus flower. Every remnant of light left by Shuairan fell to the ground and transformed into the image of a serpent, their scales shining with light; they leapt ferociously into the air, and instantly ripped the talismans shot out by Li Qingqian to shreds with their teeth.
But no one could have thought that at this time, Li Qingqian himself had swiftly swept behind Gu Mang, concentrated the spirit of the sword all over his body, and suddenly cleaved an opening through the protective barrier! Immediately, Mo Xi turned around, lifted his leg and kicked sideways. Struck in the chest, Li Qingqian spat out a mouthful of foul blood, but at the very last second, he used all of his energy to ruthlessly propel the piece of the Demon Summoning Talisman he had gripped in his hand into Gu Mang’s chest–
The summoned man suddenly opened his clear blue eyes!
The demonic energy within his body surged abruptly.
Mo Xi was startled: “Gu Mang…”
““Into the urn thy blood drips, from thy bones the blade forged. The glint within the case: a once-beloved in dreams of longing…” On the other side, Yue Chenqing’s incantation circled around Li Qingqian like a demonic spell.
Li Qingqian was panting, his complexion becoming increasingly ghost-white. Yet , he still clutched at his chest, trembling as he stood, and threw his head back in laughter.
“Hahaha, even if you use the most powerful of means to suppress him,” Li Qingqian gasped, “Nothing can match the control that the Liao Kingdom’s Demon Summoning Talisman has over him!” Swallowing the blood that foamed at his mouth, he shouted, eyes bloodshot, “Gu Mang, come out!”
With a bang, the veins on Gu Mang’s arms bulged, and he freed himself completely from the bamboo warrior’s Immortal Binding Cables! Immediately after, a cloud of black smoke erupted from the center of his forehead, incinerating the suppression charm that Yue Chenqing had stuck on him … Gu Mang raised his pale blue wolf-like eyes, lifted his arm, and fiercely tore away the last, thickest strand of rope tied around his waist! He walked towards Li Qingqian in large strides, then knelt in front of him.
“At your command.”
Li Qingqian clenched his teeth, and pointed at Mo Xi: “Kill him for me!”
The toll that the Demon Summoning Talisman took on its caster was extremely heavy, so prior to this, Li Qingqian had always used an ordinary demonic energy awakening spell to control Gu Mang. At this moment however, he was in dire straits; no matter how enormous the cost, Li Qingqian could only wager the last of his energy on Gu Mang. As expected, from head to toe, Gu Mang was enveloped in demonic energy, the blue of his eyes so bright that they were practically glowing white, and behind him, a wolf’s head totem the height of ten men stacked head-to-heel rose abruptly from the flames.
Bamboo Warrior: “A-daa——!”
Gu Mang only had to raise his hand, and without even moving his fingertips, the bamboo warrior who had attempted to attack him was struck out of range, and violently slammed into a stone wall.
Against the blue pupils of Gu Mang’s eyes, the dark shadow of Mo Xi was reflected. After a pause, he monotonously repeated his order: “Kill you.”
Abruptly, he pounced at Mo Xi!
While Mo Xi was engaged with Gu Mang, Li Qingqian seized the opportunity to swiftly rush towards the back of the stone forest. Due to his fury and anxiety, his face had twisted beyond recognition. It looked as if he intended to snap Yue Chenqing’s neck off and leave him a bloody mess. Murong Lian had naturally sensed his movements; although he was no match for Li Qingqian, Li Qingqian had already expended a great deal of energy and was an arrow at the end of its flight5[强弩之末 (qiáng nǔ zhī mò): literal translation of the idiom; figuratively refers to being a “spent force”, similar to “reached the end of the line” in english.], so it was not impossible for Murong Lian to put up a fight.
Murong Lian said to Yue Chenqing: “Hurry up, I’ll stall him!”
After saying that, he quickly dashed away from the back of the stone forest, and dished out a row of water ghost talismans. Transforming into individual water ghosts, they seeped out from the ground, and tore at Li Qingqian.
“Thy soul entombed in callous metal; I yearn to be the spirit guide.”
The incantation that Yue Chenqing was chanting was reaching the end, and a large amount of black liquid began to flow out from the body of the Hongshao Sword, oozing/spilled around the blood sigil. On the other side, Li Qingqian swept away the flock of ghosts6[insert seal googling “what do u call a group of ghosts” and getting absolutely fuck all here] that had violently surged forth, and leaped directly towards Murong Lian. Originally, the force of his sword was shockingly swift and fierce, but at this time, he unexpectedly trembled; instead, he was struck by Shuairan with a sharp blow to his wrist, his sword falling to the ground with a clank.
No matter how strong a sword spirit was, if its main vessel was destroyed, it would be destroyed immediately. Naturally, Li Qingqian knew what was at stake; he had previously relied on cultivators’ hearts to strengthen himself, and had returned to Chonghua several times for the sole purpose of finding an opportunity to steal back his main vessel that was kept on Murong Lian’s body. However, the security surrounding Murong Lian was too tight, and there was no way for him to get closer. In addition, with the Hongshao Sword sealed, no matter how many people he ate and souls he absorbed, he was unable to become one with the sword, and unleash its true powers.
This was why he had used a spell to lure Gu Mang out from prison, in order to use Gu Mang to steal back the Hongshao Sword.
But how could he have known…
Despite numerous calculations and plans, he had unexpectedly not foreseen the possibility of Mo Xi branding a tracker on Gu Mang, and he had been able to catch up to them so quickly…
Li Qingqian’s eyes flashed red, his chest continuously heaving violently, and he roared: “I cannot die, and no one can stop me! Don’t even imagine it!!”
After shouting as such over and over several times, his spirit body was unable to support him any longer. He sank to his knees weakly, propping himself up with his hands.
Fuck, why did one of the three people that came happen to be the descendant of a family of relicsmiths? …This is seriously…seriously…
As Li Qingqian thought about it, he suddenly laughed out loud maniacally, his laughter coated with an indescribable distortion and hatred.
Come to think of it, be it for good or for evil, whether he had held on to the path of righteousness or had fallen into the demon’s den, the heavens had never been kind to him– what was this “I am the master of my own destiny7[我命由我不由天 (wǒ mìng yóu wǒ bùyóu tiān) is a Taoist saying that means that one’s life is for one to control with their own hands, without relying on the heavens to decide. Fans of Tian Guan Ci Fu and Ne Zha may remember seeing it in both titles.]”? What even came from him struggling like so? How ridiculous! How ridiculous!
His thoughts twisted violently; as he eyed the Hongshao Sword trembling painfully in Yue Chenqing’s palm in the distance, these years sunk fast in struggle, awash in blood…….he could not help but recall them, one by one.
He rose up abruptly, and with an intense dissatisfaction with his lot, he howled: “Gu Mang!! Come here and bring me the sword!!”
Gu Mang, who was in a fierce struggle with Mo Xi outside, heard this call that practically resounded throughout the cave; his blue eyes shifted, and he made to sweep over towards Li Qingqian. But Mo Xi grabbed him by the shoulder, and held him back.
“I want the sword.” Gu Mang abruptly turned his head, and said coldly, “Don’t want you.”
He meant that his mission had changed to seizing the sword, and not to kill Mo Xi.
Seeing that Mo Xi was still refusing to let go, his expression became increasingly furious, and his tone harsher: “I don’t want you.”
That pair of faint, blue eyes, was paired with him impatiently biting his lip after speaking, but the “I don’t want you” that he said sounded both ambiguous and capricious.
Despite knowing that there was no other meaning behind Gu Mang’s words, he couldn’t help the rage that rose in his heart. Mo Xi practically did not want to see that face of his, and reaching a palm out to cover it, he fumed: “Are you the one who decides whether you want me or not?!” ?!”
“You don’t want me, but you want the sword, right?”
Gu Mang said: “Yes.”
Gu Mang’s words that resounded added fuel to Mo Xi’s fire, and he raged: “Weren’t you ordered to kill me? You have to kill me before you can take the sword!”
“…?” His blue eyes glazed over.
That seemed to be the case?
Although a person under the Demon Summoning Talisman’s control was able to obey orders, they rarely had any ability to discern information. As such, those few from the Liao Kingdom who often used such spells were very clear on how to formulate their orders, and would usually have a clear start and end to the order. But Li Qingqian had evidently learnt it in secret, and did not know the most appropriate way of control.
As such, although Gu Mang was strong, he was confused.
He fixed his pair of snow wolf eyes onto Mo Xi, sweeping them over him back and forth several times, as if judging whether or not what Mo Xi had said was right, weighing whether or not there was enough of the man in front of him to chew on.
He then came to a conclusion: “Fine. Want you first. Then the sword.”
“Gege wants you, why wouldn’t I want you?” He had once grinned at Mo Xi in the dark of the night with those dewy black eyes, his expression lazy and carefree. His strong arm tugged at his shidi and brother-in-arms, lover and gongzi.
In the woods by the edge of the battlefield, Gu Mang had spontaneously leaned in, and pulled Mo Xi in for a gentle kiss that gradually heated up with flaming passion.
The “want you” of that time gave rise to a stolen moment of enjoyment.8[challenge for mo xi: stop having horny flashbacks during important battle scenes]
The “want you” of right now, though, was not followed by affection, but the unsheathing of a demonic blade, viciously and rapidly swooping towards Mo Xi. That pair of long legs that had once clung to the sides of Mo Xi’s waist and practically trembled from pleasure, were now raised up high, and with ruthless precision, suddenly kicked at Mo Xi.
No matter how much demonic energy Gu Mang regained, in the end, his spirit core had already been shattered.
So despite how strong he was, he was no match against Mo Xi, a pure-blooded descendant of the Gods, let alone the fact that Mo Xi was so familiar with every move and maneuver of his fighting technique…
As a result, when Gu Mang turned sideways and lifted his leg to kick him, he missed, but Mo Xi had turned his body slightly, raised his arm and grabbed his ankle. His black eyes glanced over, and without the slightest hesitation, he caught the flying knife thrown at him by Gu Mang. The spiritual energy in his hand lit up in a blaze, instantly turning the thin knife into specks of debris.
“What a coincidence.” Mo Xi paused for a moment, then said frostily, “I want you as well.”
Before Gu Mang could react, he felt the world before his eyes spin, and his entire person was thrown down onto the ground by Mo Xi. The man’s imposing figure loomed over him, his posture almost invasive and tyrannical , as he fiercely forced him to the ground with his knee pressing his hip down. With one hand, he held Gu Mang’s arms in place, and gripped his chin with the other.
Mo Xi was the one who understood the Liao Kingdom the best throughout Chonghua, and apart from Healer Jiang, he was probably the only person who could dispel the Demon Summoning Talisman. He held Gu Mang, who was stubbornly twisting and struggling in resistance with all of his strength, down, leaned over, and looked into his blue eyes which were darting around restlessly.
Despite Gu Mang’s face turning red from his grip, he still squeezed out his persistence through gritted teeth.
Of course, it was an “order”.
But this line was honestly too…
Mo Xi’s heart burned, and he looked at Gu Mang struggling under him, glaring at him viciously but helplessly.
Like a pile of wood lit aflame, all Mo Xi could feel in his head was some kind of impulse to tear him to shreds; to make him hurt, make him suffer, make him beg for mercy in the most intimate of ways.
In just a split second, Mo Xi suddenly doubted the simple and callous manner of the words “I want you as well” that he had used earlier to communicate—Did he choose such words because it made it easier for Gu Mang to understand, or because the longing that had accumulated in his heart for all those years threatened to seep out of its locked chest?
This self-doubt caused fear to breed in Mo Xi’s heart, but on the outside, Gu Mang was in great discomfort from being held down by him, his blue eyes misting over with a layer of moisture out of reflex. Gasping for breath, his lips trembled as though he was trying to say something.
In order to prevent himself from conceiving anymore terrifying ideas, Mo Xi covered Gu Mang’s mouth with his hand, spat out through gritted teeth: “Behave yourself, I’ll break the curse for you.”
Under him, Gu Mang grumbled furiously and violently, and even attempted to bite Mo Xi’s finger.
“It will hurt.”
With heated breaths pressing down on him, Mo Xi stared into his eyes at point blank. He spat out two words.
The author has something to say:
《Happy New Year~~》9[this was an update that happened on Lunar New Year in 2019 for full context! sorry it’s out of season haha]
Big Dog: Wishing a Happy New Year, please be strict with oneself, and exercise self-discipline to achieve success.
Big Grey Wolf: I, Gu Mangmang, wish everyone great might, dashing looks, and prosperity! Don’t listen to the one above! Self-discipline doesn’t work! Listen to me! Be free!!
Second Dog: Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true yea~~ May you spend every day happily, and do it seven times a night~~
Big White Cat: A smooth sailing Year of the Pig. The one above, shut up.
Little Peacock: On behalf of all of us at Sisheng Peak, we wish you all a Happy New Year. Mo Weiyu you dog, stay further away from my Shizun!
Shi Meimei: (smile) Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, may you be free of illness and disasters and have good health. Make sure to rest your eyes, and fiddle with your smartphones less, okay.10[seal: shimei………..]
Yue Chenqing: QAQ Happy New Year everyone! Leave me alone uhuhuhu, I just wanna have a good rest, why do I have to clear this kind of horror instance dungeon over New Year’s aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Murong Lian: Be happy, everyone, it’s a New Year, this lord shall not rack up his aggro.
Jiang Xi: Happy Lunar New Year, date less, earn more money. Let me set a little goal for everyone:. It’s a new year, may you be as wealthy as I am.
Mei Hanxue11[梅含雪 – the younger one]: Wishing all you beautiful ladies a Happy New Year, like a lotus blossoming from the water, may your beauty be forever~~
Mei Hanxue12[梅寒雪 – the older one]: I am not having an affair with Xue Meng. Happy New Year everyone.
Jiang Yexue: Just like the two above, I don’t feature in the plot, so I can only wish everyone a Happy New Year from the mini-theatre~
Fourth Uncle: I make my appearance the day after tomorrow. Everyone, have a smooth sailing New Year.
Jiang Fuli: I can’t be bothered. I’ll just copy and paste Jiang Yechen’s well wishes.
Ye Wangxi: Happy Lunar New Year~~
Nangong Si: I won’t be accepting gifts this New Year’s? I’m taking gifts, and Naobaijin13[Comes from an old advertising slogan for melatonin by Wuxi Jiante Pharmaceutical Industry Limited Company, “今年过节不收礼，收礼只收脑白金”: “Not accepting gifts this New Year’s, other than melatonin (nao bai jin, lit. ‘platinum for the brain’).”]! Happy New Year!
The cast and crew of Big Dog and Second Dog’s stories wish all new and old readers a Happy New Year! Wishing you all a year of harmony, that everything goes well, that profits pour in from all sides, may you continuously be promoted, have outstanding academic results, for those who want love to find love, for those that want riches to get rich, to have good health, and spend everyday happily! *finger hearts*!!!!