Rong Bai stood at the entrance, with half of his body bathed in moonlight and the other half cloaked under the candlelight.
The yellowish lantern in his hand gave off a soft light in the darkness, delicately depicting his facial features and plating the beautiful contour of his face with a golden edge.
When he saw Song Ci with his head peeking out from behind a pillar, he took two steps forward and backhandedly closed the door gently before walking towards him.
Song Ci happily emerged from behind his hiding post and rushed up to him. “Oh, it’s you. You scared me to death. I thought I was going to meet my end.”
Rong Bai slightly pursed his lips and asked, “Who’s going to kill you?”
“This is rather baffling.” Song Ci said, “Does this Mo Yao sect prohibit sexual liaisons among disciples?”
Rong Bai smiled on hearing it and replied, “No, on the contrary, they advocate the practice of dual cultivation.”1
“Then, there’s no reason to kill me.” Song Ci was confused. “Earlier on, I accidentally bumped into Elder Qingyuan… dual cultivating with a man. Unfortunately, Dai Yanxing was watching too. Then, he wanted to silence me.”
He briefly recounted what had happened earlier on. Fearing that Rong Bai did not know who Dai Yanxing was, he added, “That’s Zhu Yishu’s shifu, Li Yan Zhenren.”
Remembering Song Ci’s look just now, Rong Bai’s smile widened. “So, that’s why you hide behind the pillar?”
“I was afraid he would find me.” Song Ci wanted to shed a handful of tears for himself. “It’s way too easy to kill someone as small and frail as me.”
“I’ve great ambitions, but my fate is crap. What if I die before I reach the demon capital? If I don’t get to meet the Demon King, I’m afraid I would not be able to take it lying down even after drinking Meng Po’s soup2 and heading for my next life.” Song Ci sighed.
Rong Bai looked at him with an unreadable look. “You want to meet the Demon King that much?”
“I definitely have to meet him, otherwise how can I turn back into a human being?” Far away, thousands of miles away, there was a state called Xi Liang. This was where his family and loved ones – people he could never forsake – were.
“The way you are now, you’re just sending yourself to your own death if you go to the demon capital. Even if you stand before the Demon King, you are not a match for even one of his fingers.” Rong Bai looked at his own index finger and said with a pensive expression.
Song Ci had heard these words before. Fear would blossom in his heart every time he heard it. The Demon King was tyrannical and fond of slaughtering people. If he really wanted to kill Song Ci, it would be easier than stepping on an ant.
What’s more, there was danger everywhere in the demon capital. Maybe he would be slain even before he reached the Demon King.
But no matter how he thought about it, this was the only path he could take. Now that he was neither human nor demon, how would he be able to return home and face his parents and friends?
“Perhaps.” Rong Bai slowly raised his eyes and looked at Song Ci. “If you plead with him nicely, he might consider sparing your life. After all, his blood flows in you.”
Does he mean that I should lower myself to become the Demon King’s son? Song Ci inwardly speculated to himself. Or was Master Rong only testing him on purpose?
Wasn’t it said that honorable men and heroes all like people who are righteous and refined?
Song Ci straightened up at once. “Even if you beat me to death, I will not acknowledge evil as my father. The Demon King is evil and immoral. How could I bow down to him?”
Rong Bai gave him a deep look and suddenly smiled. “It seems as if this Demon King has desecrated your ancestral grave.”3
“That, he didn’t.” Song Ci shook his head blankly.
Rong Bai turned and walked towards the inner part of the hall. “If you really want to kill the Demon King, you must learn to merge his blood into your own. How can you become strong if you don’t accept his blood?”
“What do you mean?” Song Ci followed him. “Do I have to cut my wrists and bleed myself clean?”
“You’ve been resisting.” Rong Bai said, “You didn’t even have a tail that day you transformed into demon form. It’s obvious you have never learned how to use the power in you.”
“There’s a tail too?” Song Ci thought, having that pair of ears was enough for him. At first, when he turned into a demon, those ears have caused him a lot of hardships. At that time, he still did not know how to turn his hearing off. All the sounds within range bore right into his ears, and it was so noisy he could hardly sleep. He had lost a lot of weight as a result.
“The tail is a symbol of strength. If you can cultivate out nine tails, you will be able to fight the Demon King.” Rong Bai placed the lantern on the table and looked up at the statue in front of him.
Song Ci was vexed. “How many donkey’s years do I have to cultivate for? Isn’t there any other way?”
“No.” Rong Bai answered succinctly.
“Then, is there any way to cultivate out nine tails as soon as possible?” Song Ci asked again.
After a moment’s pause, Rong Bai replied, “If you can dual cultivate with the Demon King, it will naturally be fast.”
Song Ci’s face flushed red. The redness spread up his neck, shading his entire fair and handsome face in a sensual color. His ears were so red they seem to drip blood. He stammered, “No, no way.”
Rong Bai kept quiet and stretched out his hand to touch the statue.
After a while, Song Ci asked softly, “That Demon King… is a lady?
On hearing that, Rong Bai tilted his head to look fixedly at Song Ci and gave him a brilliant smile. “A man.”
Then, Rong Bai asked curiously, “You want to try?”
Song Ci immediately shook his head like a rattle drum.4 “No, no. I may be a demon, but I have a backbone. I’ll never do such a thing.”
He coughed twice and hurriedly changed the topic. “What are you touching?”
“Looking for something.”
Song Ci thought back to the object in Lu Shaoqing’s hand and guessed, “Is it that piece of white stone?”
Rong Bai gave a slight nod and said with some regret, “I thought it would be here, but it isn’t.”
After hearing his words, Song Ci became curious about the origin of this statue. He raised his head and looked up, only to see a patch of darkness.
“Let’s go.” Rong Bai picked up the lantern again, looking as if he was going back.
The gears in Song Ci’s head turned, and an idea sprang to his mind. He said to Rong Bai, “Master Rong, I know a place where that piece of stone might be.”
Rong Bai’s actions came to a halt as he looked at Song Ci. “Where?”
- 双修 Dual cultivation, also known as double or paired cultivation, is based on the principles of Yin and Yang; it is essentially the cultivation of two cultivators through sex.
- 孟婆汤 Meng Po’s soup. Meng Po is a character in Chinese mythology. Her task in the Realm of the Dead is to erase the memories of souls who are about to be reincarnated, and she does this by serving a decoction (typically as a bowl of soup or tea) to induce amnesia.
- The ancient practice of ancestor worship is of great religious significance and also a sign of filial piety towards one’s ancestors. In Feng Shui, the site of the family’s ancestral tomb is important as it is thought to influence the fortunes of their descendants too. Grave desecration not only destroys any positive Feng Shui of the burial site but is also a sign of dishonor and disrespect towards the ancestors, and open hostility toward the descendants. Even today, desecrating the ancestral grave is popularly considered as the ultimate act of revenge taken toward another individual.
拨浪鼓 Bolang Gu, also a Chinese rattle drum or a pellet drum, is a typical child toy in China. It’s shaken or rotated from left and right quickly to produce a drumming or rattling sound. You can see it in action in MDZS Drama, Chen Qing Ling, ep. 30 (Jin Guangyao) and ep. 31 (Jiang Yanli).