The dust had yet to settle on the streets, and there were few passersby around, so Song Ci was able to catch sight of Rong Bai with just a glance.
He trotted over and slowed down when he was behind Rong Bai. He smiled pleasantly as he tried to ingratiate himself with Rong Bai. “Immortal Rong, thank you for your help earlier.”
Rong Bai made nothing of it and said, “You’re welcome. I wasn’t doing it to save you anyway. It was just that the puppy was blocking the way.”
The wolf pup that Song Ci had been dragging yelped twice when it heard Rong Bai’s words. It glued all four limbs to the ground, making a small show of resistance.
Song Ci automatically disregarded the second half of Rong Bai’s reply. With a thick skin and the resolve to cling on to Rong Bai to the very end, he asked, “Where are you heading?”
“Yu Shi Peak, Mo Yao Immortal Sect.” Rong Bai replied.
“We happen to be going the same way!” Song Ci had already thought of a solution. No matter where Rong Bai was going, he would be going the same way. However, he had never expected it to be Mo Yao Immortal Sect.
When it finally hit him, his expression changed, and he muttered, “Why Mo Yao that kind of lousy place…”
“You’re going the same way?” Rong Bai’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “You are a demon. Why do you need to go to Mo Yao?”
“Naturally, we have matters there. Since we are both going to Mo Yao, how about we become companions? It’s better than traveling alone.” Deep down, Song Ci was thinking, it was not just Mo Yao. As long as it was somewhere Rong Bai wanted to go, even if he wanted to traverse mountains of daggers and seas of flames1, Song Ci would follow him until he agreed to take him into the Demon Capital.
Rong Bai laughed when he heard that. His expression with those arched eyes was just like a smiling fox. He said warmly, “You are clearly a demon, but you always love to stick around me. Aren’t you afraid I’ll subdue you to enforce justice on behalf of heaven?”
The tension Song Ci had felt mostly disappeared when he saw Rong Bai’s smile. He pouted and put on an aggrieved look as if he was going to cry. “Immortal Rong, you may not know it, but I’ve become what I am now all thanks to that cruel and tyrannical Demon King.”
His voice was loaded with accusations, and there were both grievance and resentment in his misty eyes. His expression was vivid.
Rong Bai raised his eyebrows when he heard Song Ci. He asked lazily, “Oh? What did the Demon King do to you?”
“I was originally the son of a renowned clan that had produced generations of officials in Xi Liang. For twenty years, I’ve behaved morally and conducted myself with integrity. I’ve never committed evil.” Song Ci sniffed. He had so many complaints now that he had started to talk. “But somehow I was hexed by the Demon King and became what I’m now. I’m neither human nor demon and I shake with terror everywhere I go. The Demon King is really abominable.”
“So the reason you want to access the Demon Gate is…” Rong Bai’s expression remained unchanged after hearing Song Ci’s rants. He was still smiling.
“Of course, to slay the Demon King, raze the Demon Capital to the ground and restore peace to the Human Realm.” Song Ci replied indignantly. But after saying that, he felt that his boastful talk had gone too far, so he gave a cough and added, “Even if all else fails, I must still get the Demon King to turn me back into a mortal. Otherwise, I’ll fight him to the death!”
“I swore never to be a demon!” He spoke with righteousness.
Rong Bai said in surprise, “I didn’t expect you to have such a way of thinking.”
Song Ci nodded in resolution and thought, no matter what, his priority was to remain by Rong Bai’s side. Anyway, all these Daoists had in mind were moral principles, righteousness, and world peace. As long as Song Ci said what Rong Bai wanted to hear, he should be fine.
“All right, you might not make it before the Demon King if you go alone.” Rong Bai said, “I’m going to the Demon Realm after Mo Yao. You can join me.”
Song Ci did not expect this man to agree so easily. He said happily, “Thank you. I’ll surely repay your kindness someday when I return from the Demon Realm.”
Rong Bai smiled gently and said, “There’s no need to stand on ceremony. I hope you get to slay the Demon King and raze the Demon Capital to the ground soon.”
Song Ci did not sense something off with the man beside him and scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. He knew that it was beyond his abilities to slay the Demon King and raze the Demon Capital to the ground, but at least there would be a chance for him to become human again if he got to meet the Demon King.
Among all those words earlier, the only one that was truly heartfelt was that he had promised himself never to become a demon. As for the others… Song Ci thought, well, just treat them as farts.
They left the City of Pingyang and arrived at the City of Hengxi. This city was located at the foot of Yu Shi Peak, and so everyone from all over the world who wanted to become disciples of Mo Yao Immortal Sect would gather here.
Hengxi City was in chaos at the moment. The inns were fully booked as early as a month ago, and the streets were full of people sitting and sleeping, with fights breaking out frequently as they fought with beggars over space. The authorities turned a blind eye regarding this matter.
Song Ci inquired around and finally realized the cause. He could not help but sigh inwardly. This Mo Yao Sect was so famous that such a big city could not even accommodate all the people who had come from afar to join the sect. If it were not for the authorities to help keep things in check, they probably could not even set foot onto this street.
This put them in a dilemma. There was no place to stay. Must they really sleep on the street like these people?
It was fine for him; after all, he had slept on the streets before. However, no matter how he looked at him, this Master Rong did not seem to be someone who would sleep on the streets. Those snow-white clothes of his seemed like they must not be stained by even a speck of dust.
He glanced over and saw Rong Bai’s eyes sweeping across the street before stopping on a two-story inn. Rong Bai then walked over to the inn.
An inn like this would surely be fully booked. But Song Ci did not dare to dissuade Rong Bai, so he followed him meekly. When they stepped across the threshold, the people on the side ridiculed them. “Walk out the same way you walked in.”
The interior of the inn was spacious. The innkeeper was looking through the ledgers and did not lift his head when he heard the sounds they made. He said, “I’m sorry, sir. The inn is full. Please look elsewhere.”
Song Ci stopped in his tracks when he heard the innkeeper, but Rong Bai continued walking on as if he had not heard him. He stopped in front of the innkeeper and yawned. “I’d like a room.”
The innkeeper impatiently looked up. He was about to speak, but when he saw Rong Bai, his eyes focused on him and he unconsciously put on a smile. He straightened up and said, “Sir, I’m really sorry, but the inn has no room available.”
Rong Bai kept his silence and tapped a finger lightly on the counter. Immediately right after, the sound of thumping footsteps could be heard from the second floor. The crowd all raised their heads to look.
A man hugging his bundle2 came running down the stairs two or three steps at a time and said to the innkeeper, “Innkeeper, I want to check out.”
Rong Bai smilingly put down an ingot of silver on the counter.
Song Ci quietly gave a thumbs-up sign; Rong Bai was really awesome!
Rong Bai finally got his wish to stay at the inn. He flopped onto the bed as soon as he entered the room. Song Ci conscientiously got another set of bedding from the innkeeper and made his own bed on the floor beside Rong Bai.
After being dragged all the way here by Song Ci, the exhausted wolf pup plopped down and lay sprawled in a corner. It did not even have the energy to kick up a ruckus. With half-opened eyes, it merely looked on as Song Ci bustled around.
After Song Ci was done, he sat opposite the wolf pup and stared at it for a moment. Then he asked, “Can’t you even take on a human form?”
The wolf pup gave him a contemptuous glance. It did not want to answer him, so it twisted its body around with its tail facing Song Ci.
Song Ci gave it a hard knock on the head without a trace of politeness. “Puppy, that’s a temper you have there. Are you really not afraid I’ll eat you?”
The wolf pup immediately began to yelp. Song Ci was afraid the noise would disturb Rong Bai, and so he clamped its mouth shut and said fiercely, “No yelping!”
However, this wolf pup kept making muffled noises as if it was doing it on purpose. Song Ci lifted it up and hastily ran out of the inn before he released his grip on its mouth. “You just wait. I’m going to pick up some branches now. Then I’ll peel you and barbeque you for Master Rong to eat.”
Unexpectedly, the wolf pup broke free from its restraint and jumped down from Song Ci’s hands. Upon landing, he transformed into a youth dressed in a silver mink coat. His appearance, with red lips and white teeth, was extremely good looking. He tore off the red rope around his neck and threw it on the ground in disgust. He snorted at Song Ci and said, “You are from the Tu Shan Fox Clan, but you lower your head to a human being. What a disgrace.”
Song Ci looked towards the side and noticed that the people around them did not seem to have seen anything. Thus he turned his head back to the handsome youth and said, “You still dare to talk about me. Weren’t you so frightened out of your wits when he stepped on you that you revealed your original form?”
“I… I was injured, that was why he could overcome me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be afraid of him.” He looked embarrassed and quickly turned to Song Ci and said, “Lend me some of your blood and I’ll recover.”
His eyes were full of unconcealed desire.
“Dream on!” Song Ci refused him. “I’m telling you, if you keep having designs on me, I’ll get Master Rong to subdue you.”
The youth snorted on hearing Song Ci going on and on about ‘Immortal Rong’ and ‘Master Rong’. His eyes then glinted as if he was up to something. He asked, “You guys are going to Mo Yao Sect, right? How about taking me along?”
Song Ci replied, “No. Go on your own.”
The youth smiled at him and said in a somewhat cajoling tone. “Come on. Come to think of it, you foxes and us wolves could be considered family. We should take care of each other while we are away from home.”
Song Ci rebutted him, “Who is your family? I’m human, not a fox.”
The youth did not quite understand what Song Ci was saying, so he ignored it. Instead, he pulled out a gold ingot from his sleeve and waved it around. “You seem like you don’t have any money on you. As long as you take me with you, my money is your money.”
Song Ci’s insistence lasted only a moment. He wavered upon seeing that gold ingot, but after thinking about it, he shook his head and turned the youth down. “No. I have no way to help you conceal your demonic aura. If I take you along to Mo Yao Sect, wouldn’t that be the same as sending you to your death?”
“You don’t have to worry about it. I’ll mask it.” The youth confidently assured him.
Song Ci pondered over it. He felt that Rong Bai would not mind him bringing along a pup. After all, he had been dragging the pup with them all the while, and Rong Bai had said nothing.
So, he reached a hand out to accept the gold ingot. “Then watch yourself. Behave yourself before Master Rong, understand?”
“Alright, stop nagging.” The wolf youth waved his hand and turned to leave.
“Puppy, where are you going?” Song Ci called out after him.
The youth stomped his foot in annoyance when he heard this, “What puppy?! I have a name. I’m Wen Changchu!”
Song Ci kept the gold ingot and walked up to him. He repeated, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to buy some food. I’m already half-dead after you dragged me all the way here. If I don’t eat, I’ll starve to death.” Wen Changchu replied.
“Let’s go together.” Coincidentally, Song Ci was hungry too.
Both of them hit it off and ate to their hearts’ content. Before they left, Song Ci even bought Rong Bai roast chicken. According to Lu Shaoqing, Rong Bai’s favorite food was chicken.
As Song Ci hugged the roast chicken on their way back, Wen Changchu kept rolling his eyes at him in disdain.
They both trod lightly on their return. And they both froze when they opened the door.
Master Rong, with his immortal aura, was not inside the room. Instead, there was a youth with a slightly immature face.
The youth was drinking tea when he heard the door open. As he turned his head towards them, his gaze met the perplexed gazes of the two men standing in the doorway.
- 刀山火海 literally mountains of daggers and seas of flames; refers to places of extreme danger.
包裹 bundle, or more likely, the author was referring to 包袱, a cloth bundle. In the old days, people traveled around with their clothes and possessions bundled up with a piece of cloth. The bundle was then worn across the shoulders and carried around.