Song Ci had once heard that Dai Yanxing was a powerful person in both position and ability in Mo Yao. It was said that he nearly ascended once back then, but for some reason, he stayed on in Mo Yao.
This kind of Li Yan Zhenren should be the favored one in Mo Yao, but why was there such a big difference between what he was seeing now and what he had heard?
The fragments of memory of the body Song Ci had possessed were very disordered. After Dai Yanxing was done crying and had left the place with the books, the scene changed. He was now in a hall.
All around him, Mo Yao’s disciples stood upright with slightly lowered heads. The scene was solemn. Even Dai Yanxing lowered his eyes to stare at the ground, lifting them only once in a while.
Yet there was someone beside him who just would not behave himself. Fu Chi reached out to tug Dai Yanxing’s sleeve and whispered, “Shixiong, there are really too few girls in our School of Ping Luan. Look at the School of Jing Si. Every one of them is so exquisite.”
Dai Yanxing brushed his hand away in annoyance. “Stand properly. Stop looking around.”
“Shixiong, you aren’t young anymore. Isn’t there any maiden you like?” Fu Chi was still smiling as he pushed on and asked Dai Yanxing.
Dai Yanxing raised his eyes on hearing this and cast a glance at the person above them on the seat. Sitting on one of the side seats was a young and beautiful Qingyuan. She had black eyebrows and red lips, and a hint of a smile in her lovely eyes. A tassel hung and swayed from the hairpin in her ink-black hair. She looked gorgeous.
Song Ci felt the quickening of Dai Yanxing’s heartbeats. He was even more nervous than a thief. After stealing a glance, he immediately lowered his eyes for fear that others might catch a glimpse of the secret hidden in his heart.
Dai Yanxing liked Qingyuan.
Going by their seniority, Dai Yanxing would have to address Qingyuan as shishu.
Qingyuan had an outstanding appearance, gentle behavior, and real abilities. She was the kind of person Dai Yanxing was the most likely to fall in love with at his age. This feeling was understandable.
Song Ci felt that this Dai Yanxing was far from the one he had met. At least in the few encounters he had with him, he could not see Dai Yanxing’s yearning for Qingyuan at all. When he stood outside Qingyuan’s chamber that night, he had looked nonchalant.
Had he hidden it too deeply? Or was this feeling long gone?
“Shixiong.” Fu Chi tugged lightly at his clothes again and said in a coquettish tone. “How about we go down the mountain today to play? I heard that it’s bustling with activities at the foot of the mountain.”
“Not going.” Dai Yanxing flatly turned him down.
“There’s a temple fair at the foot of the mountain these two days. It’s a lot more fun than Mo Yao. Shixing, please reconsider—” Fu Chi would not let the matter drop and kept swinging his sleeve. There was a fawning smile on his handsome face even as his eyes shone with hope.
Dai Yanxing glanced at him without changing his answer. “Not going. Stop bothering me.”
His tone was frosty.
Dai Yanxing could always smile warmly at strangers on their first encounters, yet he was cold to this shidi. In contrast, Fu Chi always smiled when he spoke to Dai Yanxing. He would carefully try to ingratiate himself with Dai Yanxing with his words, and would even behave intimately like a spoiled child. It was as if there was no contradiction between them.
Song Ci could not wrap his head around this.
Fu Chi was about to persuade him again when he heard Qingyuan calling him. She smiled and beckoned to him. “Li Chi1, come here.”
“Shishu.” Fu Chi hurriedly put on a solemn look, went over to Qingyuan and paid his obeisance. He smiled and asked, “What can I do for you?”
Many of the disciples below seized the chance to raise their heads. Everyone knew that Elder Qingyuan doted on Fu Chi. So every time she spoke to Fu Chi, the atmosphere would relax.
“I’ve been calling for you to practice in the back mountain, but you always turn me down. Is it because you don’t like me to teach you?” Qingyuan smiled and asked.
Dai Yanxing looked up. The smile on Qingyuan’s beautiful face was moving. Before Fu Chi, she actually had the charm of a young maiden. She did not sound as if she was reproaching him either.
Jealousy surged forth and filled his heart to the brim in an instant. Song Ci vividly felt the change in Dai Yanxing’s mood.
Fu Chi’s eyes drooped, and he grinned in embarrassment. “Shishu is joking. How would I dare? It’s just that I’ve yet to master the skills shifu had taught me before he left. I wouldn’t dare to disturb shishu.”
“Before the sect master left, he specifically instructed me to watch over you. Aren’t you deliberately trying to make me let the sect master down by avoiding me?” Qingyuan gave him a look of displeasure as she patted him on the head with a white, slender hand. “Young man, you sure are wicked.”
Dai Yanxing clenched his fists so hard that his fingernails almost dug into his flesh. Yet his expression remained cold and indifferent, betraying none of his emotions.
The sect leader had two disciples. How could he have told Qingyuan to watch only Fu Chi when he left? It was obvious that Qingyuan had deliberately ignored Dai Yanxing. Nevertheless, the disciples below seemed to take it in their stride. No one said a word.
Fu Chi revealed his pearly white teeth and gave her a sunny smile. “I dare not. It’s just that I thought you were busy, so I did not want to be a nuisance and take up your time.”
“How would you be a nuisance? You have no idea how much I long for you to look for me every day.” Qingyuan smiled flirtatiously at him and breathed. “I remember that today is the day you come of age2, is that right?”
Fu Chi tilted his head and asked in surprise, “How did shishu know?”
Qingyuan did not reply, perhaps out of consideration for the crowd below. There were some words that were inappropriate for her to voice out. Yet, she still deliberately put her adoration of Fu Chi on display for all to see. “This is for you.”
She took out an exquisite wooden box with a dazzling red silk on it and handed it over to Fu Chi. “A birthday gift.”
This truly made many people green with envy.
Fu Chi did not refuse it. He politely took it, then respectfully bowed to say his thanks to Qingyuan. “Thank you, shishu.”
She leaned back lazily against the seat with her eyes fixed on Fu Chi. “You should be free today, right? Do you have time to come to me?”
Qingyuan has repeatedly hinted that she had wanted to impart her skills to Fu Chi one-on-one. This was an honor that many Mo Yao disciples could only dream of. Now that she had given him a birthday present with such a great deal of love, it was likely that Fu Chi would not miss this opportunity to get close to Qingyuan.
Song Ci did not know what kind of person Fu Chi was. But even he thought this person would seize the chance to agree.
“Not today.” Yet, Fu Chi turned down such a good opportunity. “It’s my birthday. I wish to go down the mountain and have fun.”
Saying so, he turned to look at Dai Yanxing. His eyes curved into a smile as he added, “With shixiong.”
Embarrassment flashed through Qingyuan’s face for a moment. But when she saw Fu Chi’s genuine smile, she knew that he did not turn down her invitation on intention.
She cast a glance at Dai Yanxing, just in time to meet his eyes. Song Ci noted that although Qingyuan still had a smile on her face, the smile was cold and full of disdain. Her gaze only lingered for a moment before she diverted her sight away.
Song Ci felt Dai Yanxing’s body trembling.
“You should have a good time today. If you can’t make it today, then we can do it another day.” Qingyuan said. “Don’t stir up trouble at the foot of the mountain. Remember to come back early.”
Fu Chi thanked her. After he kept the wooden box she gave him in his sleeve, he retreated to his original position.
Qingyuan felt bored and dismissed them.
It did not take long for the Mo Yao disciples to disperse. Dai Yanxing walked out with his eyes lowered. It was evident that he was in low spirits. No one went near him. However, Fu Chi did not get the hint and stayed close to him as usual. “Shixiong, you haven’t agreed to go down the mountain with me!”
Dai Yanxing turned his head to look at him, and the penetrating coldness in his eyes momentarily stupefied Fu Chi.
“I’m not going.” He replied.
As if sensing Dan Yanxing’s mood, Fu Chi stopped pestering him. After taking two steps with him, he suddenly reached out to pull Dai Yanxing’s sleeve.
Dai Yanxing brushed his sleeve away and fumed, “Fu Chi!”
Fu Chi’s smile was a little stiff as he took a step back. Waving the banknote in his hand, he resumed smiling. “Shixiong, since you refused to accompany me down the mountain, then I’ll take your silver to eat, drink and have fun. I’ll treat it as your birthday gift to me.”
It was clear that Dai Yanxing did not want to have any further interaction with him at this moment. Without saying a word, he turned and left.
Fu Chi did not follow him.
From Song Ci’s point of view, Dai Yanxing had gone a little too far. Yet at the same time, he could also empathize. When you hated someone, no matter what the person did, you would always find him an eyesore.
He had previously hated his cousin, Liang Yanbei, very much. No matter how others had praised him to the sky, Song Ci would still enumerate his shortcomings whenever he opened his mouth. This was even if he sometimes knew that Liang Yanbei did not have some of the said flaws.
But emotions like dislike could pull the wool over one’s eyes. What’s more when Dai Yanxing was already jealous of Fu Chi.
Poor Fu Chi. Repeatedly sticking his warm face onto someone else’s cold derriere.
Song Ci did not know what happened after. The scene before him changed again. It was now night.
The first thing he saw was red lanterns hanging in the air. The light from those lanterns illuminated his surroundings so brilliantly that even the bright moon lost its shine.
All he could hear was the din from a banquet. The sound of people making merry clung to his ear, irritating him.
Song Ci did not know if this was Dai Yanxing’s feeling.
“Li Chi shixiong is getting more and more formidable these two years. A few days ago, there was a demon at the foot of the mountain who ate humans’ brains. They said it was so powerful that even many of the immortal cultivation sects who went to subdue it was at their wits’ end. But our Li Chi shixiong easily took it down even though he went alone.”
“It’s no wonder shifu and shishu are all biased towards Li Chi shixiong. We won’t be able to close up the gulf between him and us even if we took a hundred years.”
“I heard my shifu said before that Li Chi shixiong was the second person most likely to ascend after Immortal Wen Chan.”
“Yeah. Look at that Li Yan. They are both disciples of the sect master, but he’s a long way from Li Chi shixiong.”
“Don’t say what you shouldn’t say; there are many people around…” The voices were hurriedly suppressed.
Song Ci could hear these words clearly. Naturally, Li Yan could hear it too. But he was like a sculpture with no reaction. He would look at the sky for a moment, then lowered his eyes to stare at the dishes before him.
He seemed out of place in this lively banquet.
Just then, someone shouted, “Qingyuan shishu, are you drunk?!”
This seemed to get Dai Yanxing’s attention. He looked up towards the voice and saw Qingyuan standing among a group of Mo Yao disciples. She was not wearing the attire of Mo Yao sect, but a vermilion red dress. The filmy layer of gauze could barely conceal her delicate collarbone and fair shoulders. Coupled with her drunken expression, she was even more beautiful than before.
With her fingertips lifting the wine jar, she leaned lazily against the table and smiled as she asked, “What would you do if I’m drunk?”
“These disciples naturally dare not do anything.” The others around her shook their heads in response. One of them was bolder. Taking advantage of her drunkenness, he asked, “Qingyuan shishu, you haven’t seen Li Chi shixiong these few days. Do you miss him?”
Perhaps Qingyuan had been too obvious. Most of those in Mo Yao knew that Qingyuan had the hots for Fu Chi, but no one dared to talk about it. Now that someone had asked about it, none of them stopped the person; instead, they all waited for Qingyuan’s answer.
Qingyuan narrowed her eyes slightly and lowered her head to smile like a bashful maiden. “It’s good enough for you to know the answer in your hearts. Why ask?”
Song Ci felt a vague stab of pain in his heart. It was as if it came from Dai Yanxing.
Everyone guffawed in tacit understanding. The same man asked, “Shishu, there’s something I’ve long wanted to know. What was that coming-of-age gift you gave to Li Chi shixiong a few years back?”
“You still don’t know?” The man beside him jabbed his arm and said with a smile, “Haven’t you noticed that the hairpin on Li Chi shixiong’s head had never been changed these few years? It’s obvious that Qingyuan shishu had given him a hairpin.”
“Shishu, was it a hairpin?” Someone asked Qingyuan again for confirmation.
“It was indeed a hairpin.” Whether she was being frank on purpose or truly drunk, Qingyuan would answer whatever she was asked at this moment. “I even chose it myself.”
Everyone around them erupted in laughter again. The conversations were all a jumbled mess of sound as everyone said all they had to say. Only Dai Yanxing sat alone in the hazy corner, watching the farce from a distance away and eyeing the lovely Qingyuan standing among the crowd.
It was normal to be complimented if they were indeed a pair of an ideal couple. Although Dai Yanxing’s feelings were more or less transferred to Song Ci, he still thought Qingyuan and Fu Chi were rather compatible.
Of course, he was talking about Qingyuan at this point in time.
Song Ci had never heard of anyone called Li Chi in Mo Yao. Qingyuan’s generation all had the word “Qing” in their names to denote their generation.3 The next generation down was Dai Yanxing and Fu Chi’s generation, the “Li” generation. Then, it was Zhu Yishu’s and Chang Ziming’s “Shou” generation. Dai Yanxing was the schoolmaster of the School of Ping Luan at present. So the scenes in these memory fragments had happened at least thirty years ago.
If Fu Chi was that formidable, then it was still too early for the title of ‘Schoolmaster of the School of Ping Luan’ to fall upon Dai Yanxing. However, it was certain that Fu Chi had not ascended. So it was likely that something had happened later, and he was no longer in Mo Yao sect.
Then, there was another problem. Song Ci had realized that these were all Dai Yanxing’s memories, so he could not help but suspect that Dai Yanxing was the living soul sealed in this lantern. If it was really him, then who was the man who always smiled so kindly in Mo Yao now?
“Li Chi shixiong is here.” Someone yelled out, pulling Song Ci back to his senses. The crowd stopped laughing and looked around to catch a glimpse of Fu Chi.
Even Qingyuan had a delighted expression as she put the wine jar down and straightened up to search for him.
Dai Yanxing’s eyes soon found Fu Chi through the cluster of human figures.
The change in Fu Chi was apparent as he stood under the red lantern. The initial immature contours of his face had matured, and he has grown a lot taller. The faint smile on his handsome face deepened when he realized that everyone was looking at him.
Song Ci noticed that Fu Chi had a dark hairpin on his hair. But he was so far away that he could not see how it really looked like.
Fu Chi’s eyes roamed the crowd and soon met Dai Yanxing’s eyes. It was as if he was specifically looking for Dai Yanxing. He immediately bared his teeth in a smile and waved at him. He lifted his foot, about to walk over.
Someone stopped him midway and said, “Li Chi shixiong, you’ve come at the right time. Our Qingyuan shishu has something to say to you!”
Fu Chi stopped in his tracks. The crowd laughed and pushed him before Qingyuan. He paid his obeisance and greeted, “Shishu.”
Qingyuan smiled and took a step closer to him. “What have you been doing earlier? Why are you only here now?”
“It took me some time to change my clothes.” Fu Chi answered with a smile. “It seems that Shishu is done with drinking?”
“If you aren’t here, all the wine I drink would be tasteless.” Qingyuan’s intoxication was obvious as she shook her head childishly. “Come, drink a couple more cups with me.”
“Shishu should not drink too much, or Qingyi shishu will nag at you.” Fu Chi said helplessly, “You should go back for a rest.”
“No, I want to drink with you.” Qingyuan behaved like a little maiden as she tugged Fu Chi’s sleeve coquettishly. “I hardly see you ever since you returned from the mountain. What are you busy with?”
Everyone was watching the show with all kinds of exaggerated expressions, but no one spoke to break the saccharine atmosphere.
Dai Yanxing felt terrible. He poured himself a glass of wine and drank it all up.
“This disciple indeed has much to do these days. Shifu said he would watch me practice. Even shixiong was also…”
“I don’t want to hear this; it’s all your excuses.” Qingyuan cut him off. Her eyes were bright as she looked up at Fu Chi. “See. The others are already anxious for us. Why do you keep pretending and say nothing? Do you want me to say it first?”
Fu Chi looked at her with a smile at the corners of his mouth. He said nothing.
“Fu Chi, when are you marrying me?” Qingyuan came to a decision and asked him point-blank.
Loud cheers rang out all around, all of which were words of congratulation and prompts urging Fu Chi to agree. For a moment, it was boisterous.
Dai Yanxing looked at Qingyuan’s blushing face and Fu Chi’s smiling face. He tightened his grip, shattering the cup. Sharp shards pierced his palm and fresh blood gushed out all at once. He lowered his hand under the table. No one noticed his odd behavior. All eyes were on the pair.
He could not hear Fu Chi’s reply as the din drowned out Fu Chi’s voice. He only saw Fu Chi turning around and leading Qingyuan away amidst the cheers of the Mo Yao disciples. Then, the banquet returned to how it was before, with everyone going about their own conversations.
Only Dai Yanxing was alone. He hid his right hand under the table as he poured a cup of wine with his left hand. Drinking cup after cup in silence, he eventually left with the wine jar.
Song Ci felt that Dai Yanxing had too much to drink, but his steps were steady, so he was probably not drunk. At most, he was just tipsy. He walked along the road under the darkness of the night to his residence and lit a lamp after entering the room.
The room was frighteningly silent with all the laughter and bustle shut out of the door.
Dai Yanxing drank up the jug of wine he had brought back and sat at the table thinking.
It was late at night when the ruckus outside gradually died down. He could even hear the sound of the wind. It was only when the candle lamp burned out, when the wound on his right hand stained his attire red, and when his wound scabbed over that Dai Yanxing moved his feet.
Just as he was about to stand up, he heard footsteps outside the door. That person stopped in front of the door for a moment before he pushed open the door. “Shixiong, are you still awake?”
It was dark inside the room. The moonlight seeped through the door and spilled onto the hem of Fu Chi’s clothes, casting his shadow on the ground.
Dai Yanxing moved his lips. “Why are you here?”
“Shixiong, why didn’t you light the lamp if you’re still sitting around?” Fu Chi did not answer him.
Dai Yanxing did not even want to lift his eyes to look at his face. It was as if he was afraid to see the sweet victory of having won the fair maiden on Fu Chi’s face.
“What does it matter to you?” His voice was cold and hard.
“It’s late now. Shixiong, please rest early. If you keep sitting here like this, you might get a cold.” Noticing something wrong with Dai Yanxing’s tone, Fu Chi wanted to slip away.
However, Dai Yanxing’s loathing of him had already reached its peak. “Scram. Leave me alone!”
Fu Chi suddenly froze in place. Because Dai Yanxing did not look up, Song Ci could not see Fu Chi’s expression. But in this silence, he could sense that Fu Chi had not cheekily jested around as he had before.
After a moment of silence, he heard Fu Chi’s quiet voice. “Do you hate me this much?”
“My hate for you runs deeper than that.” The wine went to Dai Yanxing’s head, and all his pent-up feelings burst forth. His smile was so cold it was more bone-chilling than frost. “Why do you keep pestering me? You are clearly formidable. A child favored by Heaven. Everyone in Mo Yao wants to be on friendly terms with you. Why don’t you go to them? Is it because we are both disciples of the sect master that you want to drag me along for constant comparison?”
“You want others to praise how powerful Fu Chi is, then scorn me for my incompetence. You are indeed a godsend. I know I can’t compete with you, and I have no wish to either. Do you want me to kneel and beg you before you will let me off?”
“In your eyes, am I such a person?” There was no longer a smile on Fu Chi’s face. His brows were furrowed, and he looked shocked and hurt.
“Aren’t you?” Dai Yanxing asked coldly.
“You know why.” Fu Chi said.
Dai Yanxing replied with scorn. “Isn’t it all because I saved your life back then? If you want to repay me, you have paid it all off after getting the cold shoulder from me all these years. Why do you keep pestering me?”
But Fu Chi said, “I’ll never pay it off. I owe you my life. I’ll use my entire lifetime to repay you.”
Dai Yanxing gave two soft laughs as tears brimmed in his eyes. “You have repaid it. I’m telling you now that you’ve repaid that life debt in full. Don’t pester me again, alright?”
“You took everything. I have nothing left. At least, at the very end, let me have some peace, okay?” Dai Yanxing could no longer contain himself and wiped away a handful of tears.
Song Ci inexplicably felt his heart ached. They were both disciples of the sect master. Yet one was highly revered, and the other was trampled on in every possible way. Anyone would feel aggrieved. What’s more, Fu Chi also took away Dai Yanxing’s secret love. Now that Qingyuan and Fu Chi had become a widely acclaimed couple, Dai Yanxing’s feelings, which he had never dared to reveal, were now all for naught.
What made him feel even more sorry for Dai Yanxing was that although Dai Yanxing was jealous of Fu Chi, he had never complained or resented him. He had only felt that he was not good enough, not strong enough, and even perhaps, not fortunate enough.
Fu Chi said nothing. After standing for a moment, he turned and left. The more tears Dai Yanxing wiped away, the more it fell. Eventually, he fell asleep in a daze with his eyes wet.
The fragment of memory swapped again. The first thing Song Ci heard was the familiar toll of the bell.
The bell was loud and urgent as it resonated through the entire Yu Shi Peak.
Dai Yanxing held his sword in his hand and glanced around. Everyone around him looked panicked; there were even some who were so frightened they had to hold back their tears. His gaze moved on before he saw Fu Chi a distance away.
Perhaps it was because of Dai Yanxing’s words, Fu Chi did not pester him anymore. With several people between them, they mutually ignored each other.
“Disciples of the School of Ping Luan, heed my command!” A man stood in front of the crowd with a stern look. “There are demons attacking Mo Yao’s barrier right now. All disciples of Ping Luan, pick your swords up and head together for the main gate to defend against the demons and protect Mo Yao!”
“These disciples obey!” Everyone responded in unison and took out their swords to ride towards Mo Yao’s main gate.
Dai Yanxing was about to urge his sword forward when someone grabbed his wrist. He looked back and saw Fu Chi beside him.
Fu Chi was taller than Dai Yanxing, so Dai Yanxing had to raise his head slightly to look at Fu Chi.
“Shixiong, it’s dangerous at the front gate. Go with the others to protect and evacuate the female disciples from the School of Jing Si.” Fu Chi’s expression was indifferent when he said this, but he still could not mask the concern in his eyes.
Dai Yanxing said nothing and simply looked at him. He then shook his hand free from Fu Chi’s grip and urged his sword on towards the main gate.
Song Ci had seen that massive gate when he entered Mo Yao. Both doors were wide open now, and the Mo Yao’s disciples rode their swords out of the main gate. There was a horde of people gathered in the air above the vast wilderness before the gate.
Upon a closer look, some of them looked just like mortals, while others had deer heads and horse tails.
Those demons were pounding on the pale blue barrier dome with a ferocious expression on their faces as they howled incessantly.
The Mo Yao’s disciples were terrified when they saw this and did not dare to step forward. It was Fu Chi who held his sword and walked to the front of the crowd to stand together with Qingyuan and the others.
Dai Yanxing was at the rear of the squad so he could not see the situation ahead. His gaze swept through the group of demons. He was scared, but he put on a strong front.
The color of the barrier faded. Like an old man getting on in years, it would not hold out for long.
Qingyuan flung out her whip and leaped into the air. The whip slashed through the barrier and flung away a large group of demons. However, the attack was not fatal, and the gap was filled in an instant.
Fu Chi backhandedly grasped his sword and flew out of the barrier to battle the throng of demons.
He was truly formidable. Whoever came across the path of his blade would all let out a shrill scream. Every one of his strokes was smooth. He was agile as he leaped among the demons.
However, there were simply too many demons. It only took a moment for them to engulf Fu Chi.
The crowds at the bottom watched with raised heads. Some were surprised, while some were worried, but none of them rode their swords up.
Song Ci thought, at this point, it was naturally more important to flee for their lives; who would send themselves to their own doom?
But then, Dai Yanxing made his move. He stepped onto his sword and pulled out from the crowd. He flew all the way up through the barrier and swung his sword.
However, he could hardly be compared to Fu Chi when it came to their cultivation. He had only just stepped forward when he was injured. Although the injury was not serious, it still hurt so much that he had to clench his teeth.
The Mo Yao disciples then charged out of the barrier with a loud roar and fought with the packed mob of demons.
It started to take a toll on Dai Yanxing as he fought on. Blood covered his entire body and face, and his movements as he brandished his sword started to slow down. Other than shrill cries and bellows, he also heard someone shouting, “Fu Chi! Save me!”
With blood masking Dai Yanxing’s ears, all the voices had started to sound vague. His consciousness gradually waned. He did not know how many blows he had taken, or how many demons he had killed.
All he could remember was a long sword piercing through his abdomen and the surge of blood. He lost his grip and his weapon slipped out of his hand even as he lost control and plunged.
However, he did not hit the ground. Someone caught him midair and gently placed him onto the ground. The chaos of noise gradually faded from his ears, returning to a state of calm. Dai Yanxing suddenly felt a warm hand against the side of his face. Fu Chi’s voice rang again, “Shixiong. Shixiong…”
Dai Yanxing opened his eyes with difficulty, only to see a terrifying scene. Fu Chi was drenched all over in blood. A large sword had pierced him from behind and penetrated through his chest with the tip sticking out. Blood flowed down the tip of the sword. Dai Yanxing opened his chapped lips, his panicked voice sounding feeble. “Fu Chi, you…”
If a commoner had a blade through his heart, he would have died long ago. Yet Fu Chi was still hanging on to his life by a thread using his power.
“Shixiong, are you no longer mad with me?” Even at this time, Fu Chi could still let out a faint smile.
Dai Yanxing’s hands trembled and looked down at the wound in his abdomen. Fear swept through his heart. “We are all… going to die.”
Fu Chi placed his palm on the bleeding hole in Dai Yanxing’s abdomen while he used the other hand to pull off the hairpin on his head. He stuffed it into Dan Yanxing’s hand. “This is very important to me. I’m dying. I can’t bear to have it buried with me. Please keep it for me.”
Dai Yanxing cast a glance at the hairpin in his hands. Furious, he clenched his hand and raised his arm as if to throw it away. Fu Chi grasped his hand and said with pleading eyes, “Shixiong, accept it.”
That hand tightened its grip on his hand. Fu Chi’s gaze was intense as he looked at Dai Yanxing. At last, he said, “Shixiong, I’ll never be able to repay what I owe you.”
Dai Yanxing passed out after hearing his words.
Everything turned black before Song Ci’s eyes. The scene did not change again. He guessed that this should be the end of the memory in the lantern.
According to what he had seen earlier, Fu Chi had likely died at the end. That was why there was no such person in Mo Yao Sect now. But as to whether Dai Yanxing had died or how he had survived, Song Ci had no answer.
Moreover, he still did not know how he could extract himself from the current situation. At present, everything was still pitch-black before him. He could feel nothing either.
Just as Song Ci was worrying about this, a faint yellow light lit up before him. It was so gentle that it did not feel blinding in the dark. Then, the light brightened until it reflected a figure.
The light dispersed along the edges of the clothes. Song Ci saw a man in Mo Yao attire standing before him. He was dressed in a white and blue robe, with his long hair draped smoothly over his back.
Song Ci was frightened by the sudden appearance of this person although he braced himself and looked down. When he saw that his four limbs were still intact, he felt emboldened enough to speak out. “This young master…”
On hearing his voice, the man in front slowly turned his head back. Song Ci relaxed when the face was fully revealed; this person was not a stranger.
He was Fu Chi, who had appeared in Dai Yanxing’s memory fragments. He looked exactly the same as the man Song Ci had seen. His handsome face blanked out for a moment before he said to Song Ci, “You are…”
Then he saw Song Ci’s attire and smiled amiably. “You are a disciple of Mo Yao, right?”
Song Ci nodded.
“It has been so many years. You must not know who I am.” Fu Chi sighed softly.
“Fu Chi.” Song Ci called out his name. “You are the living soul sealed in this lantern, aren’t you?”
No matter who the “Dai Yanxing” outside was, he was now certain that the living soul sealed in the lantern was Fu Chi. He did not know who sealed Fu Chi here together with the Devil Seal fragment.
Fu Chi was astonished. “You know who I am? How did you get in here?”
“I saw you earlier, in Dai Yanxing’s memory fragments.” Song Ci said, “As for why I’m here, I have no idea either.”
Fu Chi was dejected. “Since you can enter, then why didn’t shixiong come in to see me?”
He was dazed for only a moment before he anxiously asked Song Ci. “What did you see there? Tell me quickly.”
Song Ci wavered, unsure if he should tell him. It was not polite to disclose other people’s private affairs. But on second thought, Fu Chi and Dai Yanxing had been fellow disciples for so many years that it was likely Fu Chi was more or less aware. There should not be an issue in telling him.
If he turned Fu Chi down, then it was likely that Fu Chi would not answer the questions he wanted to ask later.
“Dai Yanxing likes Qingyuan.” Song Ci measured his words. “I can feel the fondness from his memory. It was frank.”
As expected, Fu Chi did not look surprised. He lowered his eyes and said, “I knew it. Although he refused to admit it, I could tell.”
“Does he… really hate me?” Fu Chi asked again.
“A little.” Song Ci thought, didn’t Dai Yanxing say it himself? If he didn’t hate him, how could he have kept giving Fu Chi the cold shoulder? Dai Yanxing was truly hard-hearted. Even if he was a stone, his heart should have been long warmed up.
Fu Chi’s eyes reddened. He looked hurt, although he endured it. Song Ci could not bear to see him like this and added, “Then again, maybe not.”
Fu Chi suddenly looked up and stared fixedly at him with his hopeful eyes, as if waiting for his next words.
Song Ci braced himself and said, “Earlier in Dai Yanxing’s memory, I saw Mo Yao besieged by swarms of demons. You were the first one to charge out of the barrier and fought with those demons alone. On seeing that, Dai Yanxing rode his sword and flew over too.”
“All the Mo Yao disciples were watching. He was the only one who flew out of the barrier. So my guess is that he was worried for your safety and wanted to help you.” Song Ci said. This was only his guess, but he had indeed seen Dai Yanxing dash out of the barrier before all the other disciples.
It did not matter if it had been for Mo Yao’s sake, or Qingyuan’s. In any case, he did it all for Fu Chi, at least according to Song Ci. There was no third person here to rebut him anyway.
Fu Chi’s eyes lit up upon hearing these words. He smiled. At the very moment his eyes curved up in a smile, a drop of tear slid down his cheek… He said, “I believe you. I believe you…”
Song Ci scratched his head in embarrassment and asked, “Why are you sealed in this lamp?”
“Back then, shixiong’s life was on the line. To save him, I gave him the half-immortal bone in my body.” Fu Chi sniffed. “When I woke up, I was already here.”
“Half-immortal bone?” Song Ci raised his eyebrows doubtfully. When he heard Qingyuan mentioned demon bones earlier, he had thought that all the bones in the demon were called demon bones. But now that Fu Chi had spoken about a half-bone, he could not help but feel curious.
Fu Chi explained, “Deities have divine bones, and demons have demon bones. In those days, my cultivation had gone smoothly, and I had already cultivated out half an immortal bone. If I could completely cultivate out an entire bone, I would be able to ascend to immortality. However, in order to save shixiong’s life, I gave him the bone.”
“Then why did he still…” Song Ci blurted out a question. All of a sudden, he felt the ground shake. He lost control of his body as a force surged towards him and thrust him into the air.
Everything was a blur before his eyes as he fell onto the grassland. The fall did not hurt him. As soon as he raised his head, he saw Dai Yanxing looking at him in surprise.
Song Ci hurriedly got up from the ground and looked around. This place was not Dai Yanxing’s residence, but the wilderness before Mo Yao’s main gate. Several lanterns were floating in the air, illuminating the vast field. When he looked up, he saw a black mass of demons.
It was the same scene as before.
Dai Yanxing was astonished to see Song Ci emerging from the lantern. “How did you get in?”
Song Ci shook his head. “I don’t know either. I just touched the lantern and then I’m in.”
“Did you see him?” Dai Yanxing frowned.
“Yes.” Song Ci knew that he was talking about Fu Chi. Thinking about the question he had wanted to ask earlier, he probed, “Why did you seal him in this lantern?”
It was only after asking his question that he realized Dai Yanxing looked somewhat different than before.
The Dai Yanxing he had seen earlier was about thirty of age. He was a man with fine wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. But now, he was very young. When he heard Song Ci’s question, he averted his eyes and did not reply, “Leave this place quickly. It’s dangerous here.”
Dai Yanxing had only just said that when Song Ci glimpsed a flash of red light with the power of thunder slicing through the air towards him. He subconsciously dodged it. There was a loud crack. Song Ci turned back. To his shock, he saw a terrifying slash on the ground where he had been standing a moment ago. The impact had sent the soil of the grassland flying. Had it hit a person, it would have broken bones and scrape meat off them.
Miffed, he raised his head for a look. Sure enough, he saw Qingyuan standing nearby with a cold smile on her face. She looked ready to kill.
“You are a woman with a truly vicious heart.” Song Ci paid her a sincere compliment.
He really could not understand how Fu Chi and Dai Yanxing could like this type of women.
“Shishu, stop it. It’s still possible to save the situation before the barrier is destroyed.” Dai Yanxing held the lantern in his hand and fixed his eyes on Qingyuan.
“Stop it?” As if hearing a joke, Qingyuan burst out laughing without reservation. “Why should I stop? Dai Yanxing, all these years, you have no qualms about trampling over Li Chi’s bone to enjoy a meteoric rise. I’m not like you.”
Dai Yanxing’s eyebrows twitched. He said nothing.
“The more you want to protect Mo Yao, the more I want to destroy Mo Yao and leave you with nothing. Then I’ll kill you and dig out your bones to offer as sacrifice to Li Chi!” Qingyuan gnashed her teeth and glared at him. Hatred overwhelmed her, turning her eyes red.
“Is Dai Yanxing the only one who wants to protect Mo Yao?” Song Ci stood at a side and began to poke his nose into their affairs. “Fu Chi died while protecting Mo Yao. Destroying Mo Yao and wounding Dai Yanxing is the same as hurting Fu Chi.”
He added, “You should know how important Dai Yanxing is in Fu Chi’s heart.”
Fu Chi could even give Dai Yanxing his immortal bone, what else would he not give him? What’s more, Fu Chi had also said that he could never repay his debt to Dai Yanxing. He had given him his life, and yet he still said he could never repay him. Obviously, Dai Yanxing was more important to Fu Chi than his own life.
Qingyuan threw him a look. She seemed as if she wanted to ignore him, but after stewing for a moment, she could not help but refute. “It was this bandit who took advantage of Li Chi’s serious injuries to extract his immortal bone, thereby killing him!”
Song Ci cast a glance at Dai Yanxing, who was pursing his lips. It did not seem as if he intended to explain. Thus, Song Ci meddled again. “Fu Chi personally told me that he gave Dai Yanxing the immortal bone to save his life. You have misunderstood.”
Qingyuan was dumbfounded. “You saw him? Where?”
“He has always been alive.” Dai Yanxing finally spoke. He took out a dark red hairpin4 from his sleeve. The head of the hairpin was delicately carved, and its smooth surface reflected the light from the lantern, giving off a warm glow.
Song Ci could tell at a glance that this was the one Fu Chi had been wearing on his head. It was the one Qingyuan had given to him on his birthday, and the one he had finally pulled off and pleaded with Dai Yanxing to accept.
Before he could finish, Qingyuan whipped Dai Yanxing on the back of his hand. The blow tore open a horrifying gash on his hand and knocked the hairpin to the ground. She demanded, “I’m asking you where Fu Chi is. What’s that thing you’re holding?”
Song Ci and Dai Yanxing were both stunned at the same time.
- Li Chi 离池 is the name the sect bestowed upon Fu Chi 傅池, just like Li Yan 离彦 is the name the sect bestowed upon Dai Yanxing 戴彦行.
- 弱冠, coming of age at 20 for a male.
- 字辈 Zibei or generation name is a fixed, chosen character in a traditional Chinese given name, so-called because each member of a generation (i.e. siblings and cousins of the same generation) share that character. This varies from lineage to lineage and may change over time. Thus, from the names, you can tell that Li Chi (Fu Chi) and Li Yan (Dai Yanxing) are from the same generation while Shoushu (Zhu Yishu) and Shouming (Chang Ziming) are both one generation younger from Li Yan and Li Chi.
簪子 or 发簪 hairpin. Unlike women’s hairpins which tended to be more ornate, ‘hairpins’ for men in those days were more simple although it may come with exquisite or detailed cravings. (More examples) Men typically use only one hairpin to hold their hair in place. It’s pretty common (but not limited) to see it on Daoist priests/cultivators and scholars.