Few people in the Demon Realm had seen the Demon King before. But all the demons knew that their monarch was a deity who had descended from the Nine Heavens. He was a nine-tailed Tu Shan white fox, a rakshasa1
who could use blue flames at will.
Song Ci was still hugging the umbrella in his hands. When he looked up, he felt as if the Rong Bai before him was still lacking something the other Rong Bai drenched in blood had.
How could such a gentle person be the Demon King who had slaughtered half the Demon Realm? How was it possible that he was that cruel, tyrannical Demon King?
Song Ci did not want to believe it, but the facts were laid out before him.
“Huh?” The man behind him whispered, “It seems that you have some blood ties to that Demon King.”
Song Ci turned his head. “How do you know?”
“I smell blood.” The man wrinkled his nose. “It comes from above. It’s very subtle, but it has the same scent as your blood.”
Song Ci’s panicked heart pounded wildly in his chest.
Was Rong Bai injured?
“Yeah, well. He was already wounded to begin with, and his soul isn’t complete either. It’s natural for him to be overstrained…”
The man’s voice rang in his ears again, but Song Ci was not paying attention. He slowly stood up with his eyes still fixed on Rong Bai in his fluttering white robe. Numerous questions flashed through his mind in an instant.
“Gege!” The maiden voice broke through the chaos. The other maiden helped the maiden who resembled Rong Bai to the spot below him.
Rong Bai shifted his gaze over when he heard her, but there was only distance and indifference in his eyes. There was none of the joy of seeing his kin as he clenched his right hand to put away Du’e. He obviously did not want to put on a display of brotherly-sisterly affection under the gazes of so many people. Thus, with a swing of his white sleeves, he vanished from the air.
The maiden below looked delighted as she followed after him, leaving behind a horde of demons kneeling before the pitch-black night.
Song Ci tapped his toe on the ground. “He has already left. You can stop kneeling.”
On hearing him, Qinyu looked up, then patted the dust off her body before rising to her feet with a severe expression still on her face. Upon seeing her expression, Song Ci could not help asking, “Aren’t you an immortal? Why are you kneeling to a Demon King? Would this be considered a defection?”
Qinyu cast him a sidelong glance. “Weren’t you kneeling too?”
“I’m different from you. I was frightened into kneeling, but you kneeled out of your own accord.” Song Ci contended.
Qinyu was startled. She did not expect him to voice out such a shameless thing in such a frank manner. But then, she felt that it made sense. After all, there was a sea of people in the Six Realms who feared Rong Bai; it was not really that shameful to be afraid of him.
She said, “Rong Bai was a deity from the Divine Realm in the past. So what’s wrong with me kneeling before him? Things are already at this juncture, and you are still concerned about my affairs?”
Song Ci furrowed his eyebrows and hesitated for a moment before saying, “Let’s go.”
“What?” Qinyu widened her eyes in surprise. “Where do you want to go?”
“Flee for our lives.” Song Ci said, “We might die if we remain here.”
“Don’t be impulsive. If there are any issues, we should sit and talk them over. It hasn’t reached the point where we need to flee.” Qinyu thought, we were only talking about him behind his back, weren’t we? The Demon King wouldn’t be that petty.
Moreover, Rong Bai had never scowled at them before. Although he was a little cold, he was generally gentle.
“This matter is not up for discussion.” Song Ci waved his hand. “If you still want to return to the Immortal Realm in one piece, then make your escape without delay.”
“Exactly what’s the matter? Spit it out so that we can both mull it over!” Qinyu said worriedly. “I came here for that blade. How do you expect me to leave even before I get my hands on it?”
Song Ci turned two circles in his original spot, then said with a solemn expression, “Alright, I’ll be frank with you. Back then, I didn’t know Master Rong was the Demon King and thought that he was merely a powerful Daoist priest. So I thought of being on friendly terms with him. You could say I was looking for a backer…”
Song Ci stopped midway, feeling as if he could not bring himself to continue.
“And?” Qinyu probed.
“How about this? Ask me, ‘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?’” Song Ci said, “Ask me this.”
For a moment, Qinyu could not get what demon he was talking about and looked confused. “What the heck?”
“Ask me!” He urged.
“Ask you what?!” Qinyu was now anxious. Both of them were clearly saying words they could understand, but somehow, they could not communicate with each other.
“Ask me, ‘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?’. Then, I’ll answer, ‘I’ve become what I am now all thanks to that cruel and tyrannical Demon King’. Then, ask me again, ‘What did the Demon King do to you?’. And I’ll answer, “I was originally a good citizen, but I was persecuted by the Demon King and ended up being neither human nor demon. So I’m going to slay the Demon King, raze the Demon Capital to the ground, and restore peace to the Human Realm!’”
Song Ci seemed possessed as he split into two roles in his urgency to relay his conversation with Rong Bai the day they met. Every single word remained in his memories, clear as day.
Looking back now, Rong Bai had once asked him with a smile, “What did the Demon King do to you?”. And he had also said to him on Yu Shi Peak, “It seems as if this Demon King has desecrated your ancestral grave.”
So, a terrifying secret had lain behind these seemingly innocuous words!
Qinyu more or less got what he was saying and could not help blurting out in shock, “Are you mad? You said those words to the Demon King?!”
Song Ci cried out in anguish. Oh, how he wanted to pound his fists into the ground. “How would I know that Master Rong was the Demon King himself? If I had known it earlier, I wouldn’t have dared to do it even if you lent me a hundred and eight guts!”
The man in the iron cage burst out laughing until he had tears in his beautiful eyes. “What kind of luck do you have there? You are simply too adept at courting death!”
Song Ci glared at him with his arms spread. “If you aren’t leaving, then I am! In any case, I treasure my life!”
With that, he closed the umbrella, intending to make his escape. But the moment he looked up after closing the umbrella, he saw another person before him looking at him with a genial expression.
“Who are you?” Song Ci spoke harshly as he pulled a long face. “Don’t get in my way. I’ll get angry.”
The man was dressed in colorful clothes and looked like a fancy peacock at first sight. He gave Song Ci a gentle smile. “If I don’t stop you, our King will get angry.”
Song Ci looked him up and down several times before it came back to him. “You are the one at the brothel who helped me to get rid of the procuress?”
Back then, when Wen Changchu was hot on his trail, he had been forced into the brothel and ended up destroying a good part of it. In the end, the procuress had stopped him to demand compensation. It was the fancy peacock standing on the second floor who had helped him out of his predicament.
That was a truly memorable day.
It was the beginning of his friendship with Rong Bai, and his first encounter with Wen Changchu.
It was also the start of him digging his own grave.
Song Ci took half a step back with a look of wariness. “Are you a subordinate of the Demon King too? What do you want?”
“I’m here on the King’s order to take you to wash up and get a good sleep.” The fancy peacock said, “I’ve forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Hua Wu.2 I’m the chief of the Bodhi Demon Capital.”
“I’m not going!” Song Ci yelled shrilly like a chicken being strangled by the neck. “Master Rong is thinking of washing me clean before he eats me!”
“How would he? At the very least, you are his son.” Hua Wu said earnestly, “Our King has lived for so long, and this is the first time he’s raising a son. Perhaps he may not do a good job when it comes to certain things. But you have to believe that he really dotes on you.”
“You…” Song Ci was about to speak when the man behind him interrupted him.
“I have to say a word in fairness here.” The massive iron cage could not prevent a person from interacting with another. The man stubbornly stuck his head out between the bars and said to the three of them, “Although this little fox has the blood of the Demon King in him, it’s only because it had yet to be fully assimilated into him. That was how the misunderstanding arose. Once he has completely absorbed that drop of blood, he will no longer have anything to do with your Demon King. How could you force a father upon him?”
“No, no, no!” Song Ci waved his hands frantically and instantly acknowledged his father. “The Honorable Demon King is my father. I have inherited his blood. So it’s only right!”
Recalling how he had both overtly and covertly dissed Rong Bai right to his face and behind his back, Song Ci felt that having a few fathers was a trivial matter.
The man pursed his lips into a smile and said enigmatically, “You are indeed a true man. Look at how smoothly you adapt to the circumstances.”
“Save the crap. Hurry and lead me to the bath so that I can meet The Honorable Demon King all fresh and clean.” Song Ci changed his mind and urged him on.
Whether he could revert to being Liang Shuhong3 and lead a normal life again, or whether he would end up skinned, deboned, and dying a terrible death in the Demon Realm, would all be decided on a whim by Rong Bai.
Oops, no. It would all be decided on a whim by this new father of his.
Hua Wu agreed with a smile, then kneeled on one knee to the man in the cage. Bowing his head, he said, “Your Honorable Deity, please forgive us for the poor hospitality. It’s our oversight for letting those random demons take advantage of loopholes to imprison you in the cage. I’ll release you right now.”
The man finally found someone who could open the cage for him. He quickly withdrew his head from the bars. “Hurry, hurry. I almost forgot I’m still in the cage.”
Hua Wu pressed his palms against the iron bars. It did not take long for him to melt the iron bars as thick as wrists. Having received his wish to be freed, the man said to him, “It’s rather embarrassing that I ended up trapped in a cage. I won’t pursue it this time. But this mustn’t happen again next time.”
Hua Wu lowered his head again and responded, “I’ll keep Your Honorable Deity’s words in mind.”
The man nodded his head at Song Ci and smiled. “We’ll meet again if fate decrees.”
Song Ci was about to reply, but the man suddenly turned into a puddle of water that disappeared the instant it splashed onto the ground.
“Who was that?” Song Ci scratched his head and asked.
“He’s the Divine Lord Shangshan from the Divine Realm. He’s the last surviving Water Qilin4 in the Six Realms, and also the treasure of Divine Lord Ze Chen!” Qinyu whispered to him.
“How could such a powerful deity end up locked in a cage? He looked rather pitiful with his entire body all caked in mud.” Song Ci muttered.
“This cage is problematic in itself. Moreover, Water Qilin isn’t skilled in combat. It’s rather dangerous for the Divine Lord Shangshan to venture outdoors alone.” Qinyu added.
Qinyu did not know much when it came to the Divine Realm’s affairs, and it was also troublesome to explain further. So she did not mention much to Song Ci and simply said a couple of sentences to move the conversation along. Both of them chatted as they headed for Hua Wu’s palace in the Demon Capital.
“Back then, when I was still a little flower under the bodhi tree, it was our King who enlightened5 me while he was passing by. He must have seen how hard I had been cultivating and thus lent a helping hand out of kindness. Our King is actually very kind.” As Hua Wu led them to the sleeping hall, he put in a lot of good words for Rong Bai.
“Our King usually looks cold and unapproachable, but he really values friendship and familial ties. Little Crown Prince,6 you’re really fortunate. Our King has you as his only child. He will definitely shower you with love with everything he has in the future.” His mouth kept blabbing on and on. The more Song Ci listened to him, the more alarmed he felt.
Future? What future?
Along the way, he met many demon servants attending to their duties in the palace. When they stopped to pay obeisance to Hua Wu, the latter would introduce Song Ci with great enthusiasm and order all the demon servants in the palace to treat Song Ci with respect.
Song Ci was on tenterhooks throughout the journey, but they finally reached their destination, and Hua Wu let them in.
Song Ci was in a rather complicated mood. He felt as if he would let his own father down if he acknowledged a daddy out of the wild outside. Thus, he dillydallied as he took off his clothes for a bath.
Hua Wu’s orders to his underlings for the preparations were meticulous. Clothes, towel, aromatic bath cream, even perfumed balm7 had all been prepared. When Song Ci saw all these after he was done bathing, he flung them several chi8 away.
He was a bonafide virile man. How could he use the kinds of goods that women used?
After putting on his clothes, he suddenly remembered that Rong Bai had once said in Qinchuan that he smelled nice. In other words, did Rong Bai love aromatic scents?
So, was that why Hua Wu had specially prepared the perfumed balm?
Song Ci trotted over, picked up the scented balm, and rolled up both his sleeves to apply it all over his arms. Then, with great satisfaction, he brandished his now fragrant wide-sleeves and stepped out of the door.
Hua Wu was totally in the dark about this. He had merely given instructions to his underlings that a young master of great importance to their King was coming. The demon servants were the ones who had prepared all the stuff.
Who among the Six Realms did not know that the Demon King Rong Bai had been all alone by himself ever since he left the Divine Realm? No one had ever seen a woman by his side, even though those who wanted to crawl onto his bed came in droves. But they were either mercilessly slaughtered by him, or they never even had the chance to see him in person.
Countless women had proclaimed themselves to be the Demon King’s woman, but the Demon King himself had acknowledged none of them. With the sudden appearance of this young master, coupled with Hua Wu’s ambiguous words, everyone naturally got the wrong idea.
But this was, after all, the Honorable Demon King’s affairs. The demon servants all put their hearts and souls into their preparation. As such, the moment Song Ci stepped out, he took the breath away from the crowd of demon servants guarding the door.
His black robe provided a startling contrast to his exquisite features, and his skin that was fresh out of the water was tender and fair. The light from the overhead lanterns shone on those two long rows of dense eyelashes, and the veil of water mist over his eyes made them appear shiny.
He was not a ravishing beauty, nor was he a dashing hero. But he was eye-catching, the kind that would invite stares. Even among demons with first-rate looks, he would easily stand out.
The demon servants understood what was on each other’s minds the moment they exchanged glances with one another. But they did not dare to gossip indiscriminately and merely led Song Ci to the main hall in a respectful manner.
The entire Demon Capital Palace was brightly lit. Even though it was the middle of the night, it was still as lively as it was in the daytime. Perhaps it was because something major had happened in the Demon Capital that Hua Wu had gone to deal with the aftermath, leaving the entire palace in Rong Bai’s hands.
Along the way, all the demon servants who met Song Ci would stop in their tracks to pay obeisance to him until he left their sight. In just the time he took to cleanse himself, everyone in the palace had all come to believe that he was the little Crown Prince of the Demon Realm.
The last one to know, on the contrary, was Rong Bai himself.
Rong Bai was sitting lazily on his throne in the main hall, with his head propped up in his left hand to wait for Song Ci. There was no one else in the hall. White smoke silently spiraled up from the incense burner.
All of a sudden, he caught a waft of a fragrance that overwhelmed even the scent from the burning incense. Immediately right after, the door was nudged open. Rong Bai raised his eyelids slightly and saw Song Ci, all dressed in black, walking in slowly.
That fragrance intensified. Doubt appeared on Rong Bai’s face.
Because they had been instructed to be quiet earlier, the demon servants simply bowed in silence and withdrew. There were only two men left in the hall after the door was shut.
Song Ci exchanged glances with Rong Bai. When he saw Rong Bai straightening up to look at him, he kicked the hems of his clothes and took a few steps forward. He looked up again. And saw a trace of a gentle smile on Rong Bai’s face.
This was the Rong Bai he was familiar with. Song Ci heaved a sigh of relief as all his earlier struggles and convoluted emotions vanished without a trace. He broke into a grin and yelled out, “Father!”
Rong Bai’s smile promptly froze. “???”
With the combined efforts of Hua Wu and the rest, Song Ci unleashed the skill: Conjuring A Father Out Of Nowhere.
- 罗刹 Rakshasa, a demon in Buddhism
- He shortened his name from Hua Wuneng (花无能; incompetent flower) to Hua Wu and changed the character for Wu (花雾; flower mist) lmao
- 梁书鸿 Liang Shuhong is Song Ci’s real name. It was mentioned in one of the earlier chapters.
- (水)麒麟, or (Water) Qilin (Kirin), a mythical Chinese creature said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler.
- Other than cultivating oneself, which is a slow process and takes time, another way is for an immortal (or some other powerful beings) to “enlighten” it (typically plant/animal/object) instantly by bestowing it some of his or her cultivation and/or powers. That way, they can obtain intelligence and change form right away (or in a much shorter span of time) without having to spend hundreds or thousands of years cultivating.
- (小)世子 essentially a (little) crown prince.
Perfumed balm, kind of a perfume in the old days!
- 尺 chi, a Chinese foot, i.e., one-third of a meter.