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The interior of Maigu Ridge had caved in until it was all a mess. Originally, there were hundreds of thousands of interconnecting caves extending in all directions, but now, half of them had collapsed because of the quake. Every nook and cranny was blocked off by fallen rocks.
Shen Qingqiu struggled to navigate his way through them.
Suddenly, a faint demonic aura emanated from amongst a pile of giant, arching rocks.
Shen Qingqiu subconsciously shouted, “Luo Binghe?”
It could not be Luo Binghe━immobilized by Yue Qingyuan’s seal━crushed under it, could it?
He leaped over and lifted the topmost layer of the stone slab to reveal damaged green scales underneath. Big and small stones rolled down with every feeble rise and fall of those green scales.
Zhuzhi-Lang’s snake form was coiled into a small, impermeable and protective fortress around Tianlang-Jun, who lay unharmed in the middle.
The disintegration of Tianlang-Jun’s body was even more severe now. His head looked as though it could drop off at any moment. He opened his eyes and looked at Shen Qingqiu, even being in the mood to greet him, “Peak Lord Shen.”
Shen Qingqiu asked, “How are both of you doing?”
Tianlang-Jun replied, “I’m used to this. Zhuzhi-Lang, not so good.”
He was indeed not in a good state.
The light in his two large yellow pupils, which used to shine brilliantly like a pair of lanterns, had begun to dim, although they still had spirit in them. Many of the green scales on his body had fallen off and there were patches of red and black over the body; he was covered all over in wounds.
Shen Qingqiu helped to push away the piece of rock that was pinning down his tail and found Zheng Yang still stuck in its body. He reached his hands out, grasped the hilt of the sword and pulled it out. The damage caused by blood loss was nothing to the demons; on the contrary, Zheng Yang was brimming with spiritual energy and sticking it into its body had caused even more serious harm.
Tianlang-Jun said, “Isn’t Peak Lord Shen not very fond of paying him any attention?”
Shen Qingqiu said, “Who said I don’t give him attention? It’s just that there’s a communication breakdown sometimes. He… how is he?”
Tianlang-Jun used the remnant of his ruined arm to “stroke” that triangular snake head. He didn’t answer, but countered with a question, “What do you intend to do next?”
Shen Qingqiu replied, “Destroy the sword, of course.”
Tianlang-Jun said, “Xin Mo has already consumed Luo Binghe’s mind and is now one with him. Isn’t destroying the sword now the same as killing him?”
Shen Qingqiu resolutely said, “Then I’ll think of another way.”
Tianlang-Jun asked, “Even if it’s too late to prevent the merging of both worlds?”
Shen Qingqiu took a breath and said impatiently, “……Then so be it! I’ll do my best. We will talk about the rest when the time comes.”
At last, Tianlang-Jun laughed again. He said, “Peak Lord Shen, you’re really a strange one. To use the words of you humans, you profess to harbor no feelings and yet there is1. This is so true of your actions towards Zhuzhi-Lang, and even more so towards my son.”
He gave a sigh again and lamented, “As expected, I still can’t hate humans.”
Seriously, no matter how strange I am, you still win hands down when it comes to being strange. Shen Qingqiu could not continue with the conversation and instead asked, “Where is Luo Binghe? Have you seen him?”
Tianlang-Jun curiously asked, “I thought Peak Lord Shen knew? Isn’t he always behind you?”
Shen Qingqiu’s eyes immediately widened. With his hairs standing on end, he slowly turned his head around.
Sure enough, Luo Binghe stood behind him, staring fixedly at his back.
There was no knowing exactly when he had started standing there. Or to put it in another way, when he had begun to tag behind Shen Qingqiu.
Luo Binghe smiled and said, “Shizun, hand me the sword.”
Maintaining his composure, Shen Qingqiu lifted up Xin Mo sword and said, “You can come over and get it.”
Luo Binghe took a step towards him and suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. The corners of his mouth twitched and his shoulders shook.
Shen Qingqiu leveled the sword in front of him and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Luo Binghe clenched his teeth and hissed, “……Get lost.”
Before Shen Qingqiu could react, Luo Binghe pressed down on his temple with one hand, threw out a violent punch with the other, and shouted, “All of you get lost! Don’t pester him. Scram!!!”
This was not directed at him, and the blow did not land on him but brushed past Shen Qingqiu and destroyed a part of the cave wall which was already full of dents to begin with.
Tianlang-Jun helpfully pointed out, “Xin Mo’s hallucinations”.
Needless to say, Shen Qingqiu could more or less figure it out himself, too. Luo Binghe obviously looked like he saw something others were unable to see. He was striking out with the spiritual and demonic energy in his hands at the space beside him in a frenzied manner, locked in battle with opponents that never existed. The mountain shook again, and stones tumbled down in chunks. Shen Qingqiu glanced at the two men on the side; they could be perfectly described as the old and the weak, the sick and the disabled. He shouted, “Binghe, come here!”
Luo Binghe had a vacant look on his face: nonetheless, he was still very obedient and went after him as expected.
The one leading in front moved fast like the wind, whereas the one following behind was like a wandering soul, yet he maintained his speed and never once fell behind. Right at this moment, the system prompted: 【Luo Binghe’s Anger Points 300. Multiplying Xin Mo’s factor by 10, the current value is 3000.】
Shen Qingqiu yelled, “Where is the key item? Can’t you bring it out quickly?! Jade Guanyin! Jade pendant! Take it out fast!”
System: 【Hello, the release of the key item is currently loading. It is recommended that you use other tools for the time being.】
Shen Qingqiu, “Loading my━! What other tools are there, show them to me!”
System: 【Friendly Reminder: The Small Scenario Pusher Luxury Edition Package that you have purchased previously is still unused.】
Shen Qingqiu abruptly came to a halt.
Truth be told, he still has yet to figure out what the heck this “Small Scenario Pusher” was and how it worked. But, judging from that one time user experience he had, it appeared to be━quite useful!
Shen Qingqiu gnashed his teeth and said, “……Proceed!”
Show me what this Luxury Edition is made of. Bring it on!
He had just jabbed on the confirm button when the ground gave way beneath him again.
On the way down, Shen Qingqiu only had one thought: what a scam, so much for “pusher”━you damn bulldozer2!
He tumbled and slid for a spell, and above him, the rocks were coming down in torrents. Yet, not one piece of the falling rocks struck him.
Someone was taking the blows for him.
Luo Binghe was delirious, and his mind was in a fog, yet when it came to the crunch, he had still instinctively used his own body to shield him from the crumbling rocks.
With a single backhand push, he flung off a boulder that had smashed into his back. He was oblivious of the pressure as he lowered his head to look blankly at Shen Qingqiu; there was a fleeting moment of clarity in his eyes, but with a blink, it was abruptly replaced with turmoil.
The dark red symbol on his forehead was spreading out in a pattern along his entire snowy white face, even extending down towards his neck. Xin Mo, which had fallen to a side, was ceaselessly glowing and dimming purple amidst a black cloud of energy, as if pulsating in tandem with the markings on him.
Luo Binghe muttered, “Shizun…?”
Shen Qingqiu responded with an affirmative “mhm.” Seeing fresh blood flowing down Luo Binghe’s forehead, his voice quavered a little.
Luo Binghe asked, “Shizun, is it really you?”
Luo Binghe said, “Is this for real this time? You left with them earlier, didn’t you? I saw you.”
Shen Qingqiu replied, “I’m not leaving.”
Luo Binghe slowly bent down, burrowed his face in the crevice of his neck, and whispered, “Shizun, I’m hurting. My head hurts.”
This manner of speaking was like the whining of a pampered child, yet it also seemed like he was really, really hurting. Shen Qingqiu slowly reached out his arms and placed them around the back of his shoulders. Patting him gently, he coaxed him as if he was pacifying a child, “Be good. It won’t hurt anymore soon.”
Luo Binghe asked, “If I am good, it will no longer hurt, and so Shizun will never leave me alone again?”
Shen Qingqiu said, “The pain will go away very soon.”
Luo Binghe said in a low voice, “I don’t believe it.”
All of a sudden, he flew into a rage and bellowed, “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it!”
Seeing him act up again, Shen Qingqiu grasped his shoulders, bravely lifted his upper body and raised his head.
Something was wrong with the angle. It hurt when their teeth knocked against each other. With his mouth blocked, Luo Binghe’s stunned eyes were still wide open. He blinked once, then a second time.
Shen Qingqiu’s eyes were wide open too. Staring wide-eyed at each other like this gave him an extremely weird feeling.
After staring at one another for a while, none of them closed their eyes. So he could only give in and closed his eyes first. His eyelashes quivered, and he deepened the kiss.
Honestly speaking, this kind of collision, where his mouth and teeth were still hurting so much that they felt numb, simply cannot be called kissing; it can only be called gnawing.
But obviously, Luo Binghe was very happy to gnaw all over Shen Qingqiu’s lips, like he was eating candy. His breathing became more and more urgent, and he suddenly pushed Shen Qingqiu back and pressed him to the ground.
With a ripping sound, Shen Qingqiu’s outer garment was torn into pieces.
The remaining pieces of clothing were stripped off by Shen Qingqiu himself. In between the act of tearing at it, his pants were pulled down to his knees, and his last remaining undershirt, that had been loosely covering his upper body, slipped off his smooth, rounded shoulders.
Luo Binghe ran his hand along the collar and slipped his hand in, groping.
He was burning hot all over, it was even worse than the time at the Holy Mausoleum. His hand kneaded hard on Shen Qingqiu’s skin.
He was burning, hurting, flustered.
Shen Qingqiu knew what was coming. He had already made up his mind and was ready. He consciously turned his body around, with his back facing Luo Binghe.
Although he had no experience in this kind of thing, he had heard that it was easier to enter from the back if it was the first time. He thought that this posture was kind of disgraceful, but he did not dwell too much on it. He originally meant to make it more convenient for Luo Binghe to have his own way with him, but who knew that he would be brazenly flipped back again.
Luo Binghe wedged himself in between his legs, staring intently at his face. They were only a few inches apart, their hot breaths intertwining.
A burning hot object was propped up against the dry opening on his lower body; its diameter was somewhat terrifying, like an engorged ball of something.
Because the front end was slightly moist, his tight opening was able to take a little of it in.
Luo Binghe did not charge in immediately. He was in a daze, yet he still insisted on staring fixedly at Shen Qingqiu’s face; bit by bit, he rained small, gentle kisses on Shen Qingqiu’s cheeks. Shen Qingqiu was initially a bundle of nerves, but because of this unconscious act, he relaxed a little.
He relaxed too early.
Shen Qingqiu finally experienced what it felt like to be split apart alive from the middle.
He went mad with pain, kicking his legs back in a retreat. Luo Binghe clamped down on his waist and dragged him back, chafing his back against the rough rocks and stinging his flesh.
The flare of pain at this very instance made Shen Qingqiu’s mind go blank.
He struggled violently like a dying fish out of water. But the more he struggled, the more emotionally unstable Luo Binghe became; his eyes red, his breathing in disarray, his thinking clouded…… all he could think of was to hold on to Shen Qingqiu and plunge it in until the very end!
The thickest part of the tip, which was connected to a long shaft, was already buried inside him, pressing down heavily on his internal organs. Shen Qingqiu held his hand against Luo Binghe’s chest, but his waist was being held down in place, his legs were pressed against his own chest, and his hips were raised so high that he could not stop his intestinal wall from being stretched open all the way.
He choked back a scream, loosened up as much as he could, and spread his legs open, letting Luo Binghe shove it all into the deepest recess.
With it buried deep, it was as if he was being penetrated by a scorching nail and pinned to a rock alive. Luo Binghe, looking like he had finally found some sense of security, grabbed Shen Qingqiu by the hair and pulled him up into a kiss.
The pain on his scalp could be overlooked, but the change in position gave Shen Qingqiu the horrible illusion that his internal organs had been displaced; the opening in his rear end was writhing uncontrollably. Unaware of this, Luo Binghe did not show restraint. Feeling invigorated, he began to thrust in and out without mercy.
His actions were fast and savage. After hundreds of thrusts with alternating speed and varying depth, Luo Binghe was finally able to repeatedly enter him unhindered.
The sound of papapa, intermingled with a watery, squelching sound, rang incessantly in his ears.
Shen Qingqiu’s eyes filled with tears.
Boy, it hurts.
He trembled with pain, but he did not forget what he had to do at this juncture. Transferring his spiritual energy over, he guided the turbulent demonic energy inside Luo Binghe into his own body.
This method was awfully stupid, but it was also extremely effective. The source of Xin Mo’s demonic energy was Luo Binghe; if he split up and transferred some of this energy over to him, then Maigu Ridge would naturally stop collapsing due to a lack of power.
The flesh wall of his insides shuddered as it enclosed that object that was ramming in and out relentlessly; no man has ever explored this territory before, and the grinding caused the tender meat of the wall to burn hot and swell. At the start, the passage was difficult, but after the bursts of searing pain, the intestinal muscles gradually moistened, with blood and intestinal secretions smoothing the way for intercourse.
In the darkness, the smell of blood pervaded the air. The sounds of agonizingly repressed panting and flesh pounding on flesh were all the more vivid.
Luo Binghe was so into it as he stubbornly clung on to Shen Qingqiu and nudged his cheeks against Shen Qingqiu’s forehead. He was a picture of obedience and aggrievement, but the same could not be said for sight below, which could almost be described as brutal.
Shen Qingqiu was embraced so tightly that he had difficulty breathing. The five fingers on his right hand drew blood as he dug them into the rocky ground. Even his breath hitched several times before he managed to gasp for breath.
He could not take it anymore.
He really could not take it anymore.
Just as he felt light-headed and his vision grew dark, a faint white light flashed across.
With a crisp, clear “ding” sound, it landed on Shen Qingqiu’s bare shoulders.
Luo Binghe was wary and raised his eyes for a look; in that split second, he was momentarily in a trance.
And then, his pupils shrank. The images which were previously blurred gradually superimposed over each other, becoming clearer and clearer.
He slowly lowered his head, and the color drained from his face.
Shen Qingqiu was lying under him. His clothes were all torn. His legs were trembling and would not close. His eyes were terribly red. He looked as if he was going to take his last breath any moment now.
Luo Binghe reached out a hand to touch him but got cold feet and his hand froze in midair. He mumbled, “……Shi……zun?”
Finally hearing Luo Binghe addressing him as “Shizun” in his usual manner, Shen Qingqiu looked as if he had been revived and gasped for breath. Only, this gasp for breath was so laboriously taken that it sounded like a sob instead.
Luo Binghe was stupefied. “Shizun…… I…… What did I do?”
Shen Qingqiu originally wanted to clear his throat, lighten up the mood and say, you didn’t do anything except do your shizun, is all. In the end, he did not manage to clear his throat but coughed out a mouthful of blood instead.
Both of them were frightened out of their wits by this mouthful of blood.
Shen Qingqiu had not even shed a tear yet when Luo Binghe broke down. His tears dripped onto Shen Qingqiu’s cheeks and slid down along its contours.
Shen Qingqiu used to be afraid of women crying, but now, the thing he feared most was Luo Binghe crying. Ignoring the pain in his rear end, he wiped Luo Binghe’s face and consoled him as if he was coaxing a child. “Don’t cry.”
Luo Binghe’s tears rolled down his shoulders like beads tumbling off a broken string. He was at a loss as he hugged Shen Qingqiu and sobbed, “Shizun, don’t hate me…… I don’t know…… I didn’t want to hurt you…… Why didn’t you push me away; why didn’t you kill me?”
Shen Qingqiu patted his back sporadically. “This master knows. This master is willing.”
As he coaxed him, he felt a boundless sense of desolation.
The one whose cherry got burst was him, alright? Why was the one who popped his cherry crying even harder than him? Why did the one who got screwed still have to turn around to comfort the one who screwed him?
Give him a break! A deflowered Luo Binghe was simply even harder to placate than a deflowered maiden!
Shen Qingqiu resignedly said, “Then…… you pull out first……”
Luo Binghe’s tears were still hanging off his eyelashes. Disregarding his bashfulness or the fact that he was still not done with venting, he gingerly withdrew.
He stared blankly at the tragic picture that was in between Shen Qingqiu’s legs, his face turning whiter and whiter. Even so, he still attentively straightened Shen Qingqiu’s undershirt and draped his own outer robe over his body.
Shen Qingqiu did not dare to look down at his lower body too. Very slowly, he closed his legs. As he did so, the muscles on his face twitched slightly. He tried his best to hide the pain on his face.
In order to divert Luo Binghe’s line of sight and attention, Shen Qingqiu extended a hand to pick up the Jade Guanyin at one side and gestured to Luo Binghe to lower his head.
Luo Binghe stammered, “I thought….. I thought it was long gone…… I thought I would never ever find it again……”
Shen Qingqiu helped him to put on the red string around his neck and told him, “Keep it safe from now on. Don’t lose it anymore.”
Luo Binghe hesitantly asked, “At that time, it was Shizun who helped me out of a tight spot. Could it be, from that time onward, Shizun has…… has always kept it by his side?”
It had always been stored in the system inventory, to say that he had always kept it on him was not exactly wrong. With this reasoning, Shen Qingqiu feebly nodded his head.
Luo Binghe’s hands tightened around him. As he wept, he suddenly noticed that the patterns on his arm were rapidly fading away. His forehead and cheeks, which were burning hot, were also cooling down rapidly.
He asked in astonishment, “What are you doing?”
Shen Qingqiu hugged him tightly, locking Luo Binghe in his arms so that he could not move. He murmured, “Nothing. I told you, it won’t hurt anymore soon. Be good, don’t move.”
Luo Binghe’s voice cracked as he asked, “Shizun, are you going to use your own body to draw away Xin Mo’s demonic energy like the last time?”
The “last time” he spoke of was referring to the time when Shen Qingqiu self-destructed. That had certainly cast a huge shadow over him. Shen Qingqiu replied, “It’s different from that other time.”
Luo Binghe clenched his fists and said with his voice quivering, “How is it different? Shizun, why are you treating me this way? For others, you would even go so far as to do the same thing again! Do you think…… I’d still be able to see it happen again with my own eyes? I should have known a long time ago, that no one would choose me and would rather abandon me and leave……”
Shen Qingqiu said sternly, “Luo Binghe, you listen here!”
Sure enough, Luo Binghe compliantly listened with tears in his eyes.
Shen Qingqiu said, “Su Xiyan risked her life to give birth to you. Luo Binghe ah Luo Binghe, think about it, being the kind of person Old Palace Master is, would he have given his disciple some mild medicine?
“That would definitely have to be something that is fatal to demons. If she had really lost heart, accepted her fate and took the medicine, even if you don’t die, how would you have been able to grow up to be this big all safe and sound?”
Luo Binghe’s shoulders trembled. Shen Qingqiu continued, enunciating each word, “If I were in her shoes, I would not hesitate to drink it regardless of how lethal it is. Then, after escaping from the water prison, I would absorb it all into my own body. Regardless of how agonizing and horrifying the process is, regardless of the price to be paid, regardless of whether it would be a painful death, I would never let this child suffer any harm.
“This is how I see it. You can take it as just an interpretation because there is no one who can tell you what Su Xiyan was thinking before she breathed her last. But if she really saw you as a disgrace, she didn’t need to do anything more. She could have just lowered you into the Luo River, on the coldest days of the year, in a harsh and frozen landscape━how could you possibly survive?
“Or perhaps, she wasn’t willing to give up her position at Huan Hua Palace as the head disciple━with all the glory and a promising future to be had━and continued to gulp down every new poison sent by Old Palace Master; there would be no need to flee and hide pathetically from the pursuit of Huan Hua Palace’s disciples; nor did she have to strip off her outer robe and wrap it around you after giving birth to you all on her own on a secluded boat; she also need not use the last of her strength and energy to put you in a wooden basin and push you away to safety…… You don’t even need to wait for someone to save you at all since you would have already become a wandering soul who met his freezing end in Luo River.
“Now that you are standing here, alive and well, how can you hang on to the words of others and believe that your mother was really so cold-blooded and cruel that she didn’t truly want you?”
After saying his piece in one breath, Shen Qingqiu felt stifled and sensed the demonic energy flowing haphazardly in his limbs and bones. He used his remaining strength to grasp Luo Binghe by the wrist.
“Channeling away Xin Mo’s malevolent energy wasn’t because of any other person, or anything else. It was all for you.
“I…… have no wish to see a Luo Binghe who has fallen into the clutches of Xin Mo, with his mind so twisted that he would be perpetually haunted by phantoms for the rest of his life.
“What this master expects of you, is for you to be alive, sober, and strong.”
He then continued in a whisper, “So, stop saying that nobody wants you, or that no one would ever choose you.”
Luo Binghe knelt by his side. His eyelids could no longer take the weight of his tears any longer and fell freely, like a child who has suffered too much injustice.
He was merely a child all along. He walked alone on this earth, ran around in the dark, and fallen countless times. He never asked for much, and yet he always never managed to grab hold of those few he desired. If he had known this, Shen Qingqiu thought, he would definitely…… definitely……
But as it had been said earlier, there was really never such a thing as “if I had known” in this world.
All of a sudden, Luo Binghe let out a laugh. One of his hands grabbed hold of Shen Qingqiu’s hand and laid it on his face, while the other hand picked Xin Mo up from the ground.
The blade of the sword, which was encircled with swirling purple light, let off a whine that sounded like a shrill scream. The sound of something shattering into pieces reverberated in their ears.
“Shizun, I know why you are saying this much.”
Luo Binghe peered at him and pulled up the corners of his mouth.
“But, if Shizun, the only one in this world who holds this kind of hope for me, is gone, then…… what’s the point of me being alive, sober, and strong?”
The heat from Luo Binghe seemed to have spread to him. Shen Qingqiu felt a little dizzy.
In a state of grogginess, he could hardly hear Luo Binghe’s voice anymore, let alone stop his suicidal act of destroying his sword. He vaguely thought, then so be it.
“Dying together” also meant being “together.”
It did not seem to be all that bad.
But there was a voice that could still be heard clearly━
【Congratulations, you have achieved the targeted score for the various attributes and your account has been upgraded to Junior VIP user. May I ask if you wish to activate the advanced function “Self-Saving”?】
“…you profess to harbor no feelings and yet there is”
道是无情却有情: This line is from Zhuzhi Ci (the same “Zhuzhi” as Zhuzhi-Lang), which is a poem by Liu Yuxi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, who based it off a folk song. To put it simply, the poem is about the mixed feelings (bafflement, affection and hope) of a young maiden who was unsure if the gentleman she liked reciprocate her feelings (he was indifferent before) when she heard him singing about his feelings for her from the river; it was after a sunshower, and the sky was clear on the East bank while it was still raining on the West bank, leading our maiden to equate his ambiguous feelings with the equally ambiguous weather.
The word 晴(qíng; clear) is used in the poem to refer to the weather but it also refers to 情(qíng; feelings) given the context of the poem. Tianlang-Jun literally used the word 情 (feelings) here, putting the emphasis on Shen Qingqiu’s feelings, thus referring to someone who says (or acts) like he has no feelings towards someone but he actually does, i.e. Shen Qingqiu with Zhuzhi-Lang (in the end he still cares about him) and Luo Binghe (L-O-V-E).
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