Song Ci was so anxious he did not notice these details. Tugging Rong Bai’s sleeves, he said, “Master Rong, let’s go take a look quickly. Wen Changchu, he—”
Before he could finish speaking, Rong Bai’s finger suddenly tapped Song Ci’s lips, instantly cutting his voice off. Song Ci stared at him in astonishment. He tried to speak again, but no sound came out.
Rong Bai said, “He’s fine. You don’t have to worry.”
Song Ci shouted twice. Realizing that he had really lost his voice, he looked at Rong Bai in bewilderment and fear.
However, Rong Bai ignored his questioning eyes. He released Song Ci and walked off. Song Ci hurriedly kept up with him, not daring to tug his sleeve again to ask what was going on.
It was as if the air had become frozen; it was so cold that he could not help shivering.
Song Ci mulled it over, why did Master Rong silence him? Could Master Rong be afraid that he would draw attention to them because of the din he was making? Or was Master Rong simply finding him noisy?
He thought back to Rong Bai’s expression earlier; it seemed to be somewhat cold. Could it be that he’s angry?
Song Ci speculated as he followed behind Rong Bai. He did not pay attention to where Rong Bai was going until the latter stopped in his tracks. Song Ci looked up, only to find himself standing before the dungeon’s stone tablet again.
Behind the stone tablet of the demon-sealing dungeon was a barrier to keep the demons in and outsiders out.
On seeing that faint layer of light, Rong Bai reached a hand out to touch it lightly. The barrier instantly disintegrated into dust and disappeared into the air. He had easily abolished the barrier.
Song Ci could not help feeling tense for the people of Mo Yao after seeing this. It seemed that there was no place on the entire peak Rong Bai could not access. If Rong Bai harbored any malicious intentions, even exterminating the sect would be just a matter of moving his finger.
After breaking down the barrier, Rong Bai did not rush in but turned around to look at Song Ci instead.
Song Ci was all smiles as he approached him. He realized his voice was restored when he opened his mouth, so he asked, “Master Rong, which lad with a death wish has annoyed you?”
Rong Bai’s gaze was heavy. “Someone keeps saying I have a bad temper and is tyrannical and ruthless.”
Song Ci found these words disturbingly familiar, but there was no time to give it further thought since the priority was to coax Rong Bai. Thus, he fumed, “Who is that person? The gall of him! Isn’t this what we call spouting nonsense?!”
“You think he’s spouting nonsense too?” There was a glint in Rong Bai’s eyes as he answered Song Ci’s question with a question.
“Of course!” Song Ci made his stand clear. “Master Rong, you have a gentle temperament, a kind heart, and a ravishing appearance. You are much more formidable and so much better than an immortal!”
Song Ci reasserted that he was not babbling nonsense.
A gentle temperament, wasn’t that the truth? Rong Bai had never spoken harshly. He seemed aloof and distant most of the time, but when he smiled, he would give off a sense of warmth. Song Ci had never seen him losing his temper and swearing at anyone either.
He did have a kind heart. Rong Bai was willing to take him to the Demon Capital, and he had taught him spells. In Song Ci’s eyes, he was a good man.
His ravishing appearance was even more apparent. If Rong Bai’s face had been on a woman’s body, who knew how many men would be so bewitched by him that they would scramble all over themselves to die for him?
All in all, Song Ci’s compliments were not mere rhetoric.
Rong Bai seriously observed Song Ci. When he saw Song Ci speaking so animatedly and expressively, a hint of a smile appeared in his eyes. “Really?”
Song Ci hastily nodded. “Of course.”
“All the while, I’ve discovered that many people abhor me. I thought about it for a long time, but couldn’t think of what evil deeds I’ve done…”
“Those boors are blind. Why bother about them?” At present, Song Ci did not care about the validity of those people’s words. It was more important to pacify and soothe Master Rong first.
“What do you say if someone slanders me like this again? How should I handle it?”
“If anyone dares to defame Master Rong, I’ll be the first to rush up and fight him!” Song Ci righteously patted his chest. “Even if I use up all everything in my arsenal, I’ll clear your name!”
“Okay.” On hearing this, the thin layer of ice on Rong Bai’s was finally shattered. He revealed a faint smile, his clear and bright eyes even more gorgeous than the stars in the night sky.
Song Ci’s expression melted along with Rong Bai’s smile. He secretly breathed a sigh of relief, although he was still inwardly cursing that audacious man who had criticized Rong Bai.
Little brat, don’t let me run into you!
“Let’s go.” Rong Bai said.
Song Ci followed closely behind Rong Bai. “Wen Changchu… is he really all right?”
“Although he can’t defeat that person, he has his own way to preserve his life. You don’t have to worry about him.” Rong Bai replied.
Despite Rong Ba’s assurances, Song Ci could not help but worry, especially after seeing the bone-like hairpin on Elder Qingyuan’s head.
This Elder Qingyuan was probably a sicko. Who else would adorn his or her head with a bone? Just the thought of it gave him the creeps.
Song Ci thought as he followed Rong Bai. After descending the stairs, he saw a wide, two-paneled door with a big, conspicuous word “Lock” on it.
Back then, this was the door which Song Ci had used up all his might to bang open until his skeleton near about fell apart.
And now, Rong Bai walked towards the door and easily pushed the door open with only a slight nudge. As soon as the door opened, the thick stench of blood wafted out.
Song Ci frowned as uneasiness welled up in his heart. There was a long, dark tunnel in front of him. He could hardly see any light, and there was dead silence in his ears. It was so quiet he could even clearly hear the sounds of his own breathing.
Rong Bai took out a night luminous pearl1 the size of a palm. It emitted a soft yellow light. It was not glaring, and yet it could still clearly illuminate their surroundings.
He changed hands and handed the pearl to Song Ci. “Go in and have a look.”
Then, Rong Bai took a step beyond the door. The moment his foot landed, a variety of bellows suddenly rang out around them. Song Ci was so startled he nearly dropped the night luminous pearl.
The sounds were mingled with cries of pain, angry shrieks, and various kinds of noises, all of them grating on the ears. Song Ci took two steps forward to seek out the source of the sounds.
There were cages after cages on both sides of the tunnel, confining all those demons Mo Yao had captured from the Human Realm. Song Ci stood before the first cage and raised the night luminous pearl. Just as he was about to open his mouth to ask a question—
A man suddenly jumped in front of him and howled. His entire mouthful of fangs was thick with the stench of blood. His eyes were piercing red, and his claws pounded violently on the barrier of the cage.
Song Ci jumped in fright and took a step back. “Brother, can you calm down a little?”
“The ire of the demons here have been provoked.” Rong Bai walked to his side with a calm expression. He had noticed the anomaly in just a glance. He extended a hand to tap on the barrier of the iron jail, and the howling demon suddenly quietened down and looked at Rong Bai in terror before it shrank back into a corner, trembling with fear.
“How…” Song Ci furrowed his brows in puzzlement. He recalled bumping into Qingyuan earlier as she was coming out from the dungeon; could she be the one who sent these demons into a rage?
“Little Lascivious Demon, have you returned…?” There was an old-sounding cry from the tunnel. The voice was so weak it was almost drowned out by the multitudinous roars and howls around them. But Song Ci still heard it.
He turned his head around sharply and hurried towards the source of the sound.
“Little Lascivious Demon…” The voice continued.
Rong Bai’s ears twitched and followed Song Ci, only to see Song Ci stopping outside an iron jail. Song Ci crouched down and placed the night luminous pearl beside an iron column. He called out in surprise, “Mirror Old Man, how did you become like this?”
“Little Lascivious Demon, you’ve finally returned. I thought you had forgotten me after you escaped.” The man sprawled on the ground could be said to be on the verge of death. There were various wounds the result of a whipping all over his body; the wounds were so red it was jarring on the eyes.
“What did he call you?” An amused Rong Bai crouched beside Song Ci and asked in a soft voice.
Song Ci’s ears turned red. “Nothing. Nothing. It’s just a misunderstanding.”
He tried his best to hide the blush on his face and said to the man on the ground, “Are you hurt badly? Can you sit up and talk?”
Mirror Old Man strained to raise a head full messy hair. One of his eyes was seriously injured as if he had been whipped right in the middle of that eye. The wound has festered. His breathing was weak as he said, “I’m afraid I can no longer lift myself up…”
“Who would expect this? You kept your word to save me, and yet I didn’t have the good fortune to leave.” Mirror Old Man’s breath weakened with every word he uttered. Knowing he would not last long, he said, “Little Lascivious Demon, there’s one matter I’d like to entrust to you…”
Somehow, it pained Song Ci to see him like this, but he could not touch the dungeon barrier, so he looked at Rong Bai with a pleading expression, “Master Rong, can you save him…?”
Rong Bai asked with interest, “Do you see me as a living immortal who saves the world and helps the weak?”
Song Ci did not know how to answer, so he blurted out in a moment of desperation. “Aren’t you?”
Rong Bai chuckled and his gaze roved over Song Ci’s red ears. He said, “I can save him, but you have to tell me why he calls you Little Lascivious Demon.”
“I’ll definitely give you a clear explanation on this matter!” Song Ci readily agreed.
Having received Song Ci’s affirmation, Rong Bai reached out from under his sleeve and extended his hand past the dungeon barrier. A ray of white light gathered on his fingertip as he lightly pointed it between Mirror Old Man’s brows.
That soft and bright light was reflected in the eye that Mirror Old Man had been struggling to keep open. The next moment, he felt a power gushing out from his limbs, speedily dulling his pain.
The injury on his eye also healed at a speed visible to the naked eye. In the blink of an eye, the wounds on Mirror Old Man’s body vanished. He hastily climbed from the ground and kowtowed to Rong Bai. “Thank you, Immortal, for saving my life.”
Rong Bai chuckled without responding.
Song Ci hurriedly asked, “What happened to you? Why are you so badly injured? Who hurt you?”
Technically speaking, the demons imprisoned here should not have been harmed again. Even though Mo Yao would indiscriminately capture demons, they still had strict regulations in place. Mo Yao’s disciples were denied access to the back mountain, and they were also not allowed to carry out tortures on demons for selfish, personal reasons.
During the time Song Ci had stayed here, he had only seen someone coming to check up on them every once in a while; not once had he been beaten up.
“Come to think of it, it’s strange. I’ve been held captive here for over ten years, and I’ve never seen any maltreatment of the demons in prison. It was only a few days ago that a man suddenly came in and attacked us without even saying anything. He started with the first cage before making his way down, all the while hurling verbal abuse.” Mirror Old Man sat up and answered.
“A man?” Song Ci asked, perplexed. “Was he here today too?”
Mirror Old Man nodded. “Just before you came. He left not long ago.”
That was strange. Earlier, Song Ci had clearly seen Qingyuan emerging from the prison. So why did Mirror Old Man said it was a man?
“What did the man looked like? Give me the details.”
“He was in blue and white attire, with a whip in his hand and a silver crown on his head. There’s also a small mole at the tail of his right eyebrow…” Mirror Old Man searched his memory, but he could not think of more. “Those are the only details I can remember. Every time he comes in, he just strikes out at us. I was too busy hiding, so I didn’t really observe him that much.”
Song Ci noted it down secretly and said to Mirror Old Man, “Mirror Old Man, I have something else to do here. Once I’m done, I’ll come back to release you. Please do not die here.”
On hearing his words, Mirror Old Man panicked but did not object to it. He only pleaded with Song Ci, “Little Lascivious Demon, you must come back. Don’t leave me here…”
Song Ci glanced at Rong Bai, who had been listening to them quietly. He touched his nose in embarrassment and replied, “Okay, okay. I get it.”
Although he wanted to correct Mirror Old Man’s term of address for him, he knew it was useless. Song Ci had been correcting him since the second day he had been imprisoned, and he had never managed to correct Mirror Old Man, even until the day he left. Besides, it was more important to find the Devil Seal now.
Once Rong Bai completed his task, they would be able to leave Mo Yao. Somehow, he suddenly found this widely acclaimed Mo Yao to be strange. It was better to leave as soon as possible.
Moreover, he did not know how things were going on Wen Changchu’s side.
Wen Changchu, by virtue of his innate agility, kept shuttling through the forest, leaving Qingyuan trailing behind.
But he did not dare to leave her too far behind, because he was afraid that Qingyuan would turn back and go after Song Ci if she lost sight of him. Looking at how frail Song Ci was, it would be an uphill struggle for him to escape from Qingyuan on his own.
Wen Changchu had run for several li2 and drained too much of his power. This had aggravated his previous injuries. There were stabs of suffocating pain in his chest, and the wound on his back was bleeding. He continued to push on for a while even with his forehead covered in a cold sweat.
Wen Changchu silently cursed. If it weren’t for his injuries, dealing with this hag would have been a piece of cake.
He had never expected the day he would fall so low and ended up in such a sorry state, being hunted by a mortal.
After running out of the back mountain, Wen Changchu leaped onto the roof and looked at the bright lanterns before him. Suddenly thinking of a good place to go, he paused to gasp for breath and looked back at Qingyuan.
Qingyuan was also panting as she brandished her whip and closed in, “There is no escape for you!”
Wen Changchu dodged aside and sneered, “Elder Qingyuan, you don’t want others in Mo Yao to know what you have been doing in secret, do you?”
Qingyuan looked shocked but did not seem to be intimidated by him. “Drop your act of bravado. You broke into Mo Yao today; the only way out for you is death. Don’t dream of escape.”
“Bravado?” Wen Changchu smiled and said, “Do you really think no one knows your secret? Since you dare to do those deeds, then you shouldn’t fear being exposed. Today, I want the entire Mo Yao to know the monster hiding under Elder Qingyuan’s hypocritical skin!”
Qingyuan panicked, completely exposing her weakness. No longer bothering to squabble with Wen Changchu, she gripped her whip and flung it out towards him, the brutal force of it stirring up a burst of chilly wind.
Her reaction confirmed Wen Changchu’s guess. Actually, he did not know what secret Qingyuan had been hiding. He had only found it strange that she had tried to kill Song Ci and him right after she appeared.
They had obviously worn the attire for Mo Yao disciples earlier. Even if there was a Mo Yao regulation forbidding them from accessing the back mountain, the most severe punishment they would likely receive was expulsion from Mo Yao. Qingyuan’s action was more like trying to silence them to hide something.
But because Wen Changchu was not sure, he had kept his words ambiguous. He was only certain of it when he saw her flustered expression.
He said to Qingyuan, “Count yourself lucky if you can catch me. If not…”
Wen Changchu left the rest unsaid, replacing his words with a sneer.
Then he turned and dived into a bright lantern and scurried between buildings the fastest he could. Finally, he somersaulted through a window, crashing to the floor the moment he landed. The blood on his back dripped down his clothes, staining it red.
There was only a dim night lantern in the room. On hearing the noise, the person who had been sleeping rose from the bed and took the outer robe off the top of the screen3 to put it on as he walked out.
Wen Changchu heard footsteps and looked up to see Zhu Yishu in a loose, blue robe stepping out from behind the screen. He coughed out a mouthful of blood and said pitifully, “Zhu shizhang, save me…”