Chapter 40: Escaping Death at Huayue
Just then, Gongyi Xiao had also thought of grabbing a random disciple and using them as a weight, but it was only a fleeting idea. Since Shen Qingqiu went ahead and did it on his own, Gongyi Xiao breathed a sigh of relief for not having to knock out someone from his own sect. The two of them walked out together. Seeing Shen Qingqiu gather the black robe closer around himself again, Gongyi Xiao felt as if there was a lump in his throat.
Gongyi Xiao couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Though Shen Qingqiu was a Peak Lord, there was nothing he could do about being imprisoned and disgraced. Not only that, he could only cover himself up with the clothing of the same person who humiliated him. It really made people sigh with regret and pity!
Shen Qingqiu saw that Gongyi Xiao’s eyes seemed to flicker with sympathy and something like grief and indignation. He could only react by remaining expressionless.
Suddenly, Gongyi Xiao said, “Elder, please take it off!”
Shen Qingqiu: “…”
Without waiting for him to recover, Gongyi Xiao already started to take off his own outer robe. Shen Qingqiu was considering whether or not he should throw a critical hit at him to wake him up, but Gongyi Xiao had already taken off his outer robe and presented it to him with both hands. He said, “Please wear this one!”
Shen Qingqiu suddenly saw the light.
Oh, so this is what he meant. Even though Luo Binghe’s clothes were black, the clothing was similar to the person. It had the same low-key extravagant connotation that the protagonist himself did, and all in all, it was still very conspicuous if he wore it. If he changed into a common white robe, it would be quite beneficial to his escape, right? Gongyi Xiao was too thoughtful.
He resolutely took off Luo Binghe’s outer robe and changed into Gongyi Xiao’s. Before he left, he thought a bit and folded Luo Binghe’s clothes neatly before placing it onto the floor…
After leaving the water dungeon, he initially felt that the path wasn’t all that difficult to walk. But the further they walked, the more he felt that Huan Hua Palace’s maze was indeed very terrifying. It was all one cave connected to the next, one path interlocked with the next, circling nine times with every three steps, circling around until it made someone’s head spin. Gongyi Xiao’s back was clearly right in front of him, but he only narrowly avoided losing him on several occasions. If it weren’t for the fact that Gongyi Xiao knew the distribution of the water dungeon’s guards and their daily schedule like the back of his hand, who knew how many teams of patrolling disciples they would have run into by now?
Half an hour later, the two of them finally made it out of the underground water dungeon. They walked quite a few kilometers without stopping until they entered Bailu Forest. Even though they were about to leave Huan Hua Palace’s territory, the water dungeon’s alarm bell still hadn’t sounded, which meant that up to now they still hadn’t discovered that the prisoner escaped. Luo Binghe’s command that nobody else besides him could investigate the water dungeon had, in actuality, greatly helped Shen Qingqiu’s escape.
After resting for a moment, Shen Qingqiu said, “Lord Gongyi, there’s no need to accompany me any further. You should take advantage of the fact that we haven’t been discovered yet and go back quickly.” He paused a little before adding, “In seven days, if you go to Huayue City, you will definitely be able to find me there.”
Gongyi Xiao said, “Since it’s like this, I won’t escort you any further. Although Elder knows what to do even after what happened today, please be extremely careful. And regarding the trial that will be held by the four factions in a month, please don’t worry, Elder. As you said, innocent people will naturally be cleared. The lords and the rest will definitely clear your name of injustice.”
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but laugh. First of all, his dark past was final and couldn’t be washed off. Second, he didn’t give a damn about the trial that was going to be held by the four factions in a month hahaha…. Immediately, yet leisurely, he cupped his hands in respect. “We’ll meet again.”
The path from the edge of Huan Hua Palace’s territory to Huayue City went straight through the region of the Central Plains, where the population was the densest and the economy was the most prosperous. This also meant that there was an extremely large number of cultivating sects and clans in the region.
The cultivators of this world greatly valued air defense. Just like Jinlan City, they would often create defensive formations in the sky above their territories. If a flying sword or spiritual weapon went over the speed limit as it flew across, it would undoubtedly be discovered, and the higher authorities of the sect would be notified as well.
As one could imagine, it would be like broadcasting his escape route with a megaphone set at full volume.
Shen Qingqiu flew part of the way and then walked without stopping to rest. Finally, he made it to Huayue City the next night.
He came at an extremely unfortunate time. It just happened to be the festival celebrating the establishment of Huayue City, and festive lanterns decorated with garlands were kept brightly lit throughout the entire night. The streets were filled with flying dragons and lion dances, the music thunderous. People and vendors carrying their wares were squeezed together. Almost everyone had come out from their homes.
What was even more unlucky: when he arrived, dark clouds were covering the moon.
Without the support of moonlight or sunlight, the probability of failure would increase greatly. Shen Qingqiu felt that it was impossible, and he decided that for now, it would be better to wait, at most, one more day. If the clouds still didn’t disperse within a day, he couldn’t afford to care that much and wait any longer. If the probability of failure would increase, then it would just have to increase. In any case, it would be better than hugging an overripe Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed and crying over it. He suspected that even if he made a dish out of it and served it with wine, it would still have a strong chemical taste.
Shen Qingqiu walked along slowly, and he frequently ran into some family’s rambunctious children as they played. He brushed past laughing groups of young women and he felt a little bit of regret. If he wasn’t currently fleeing desperately, then he could sight-see and stroll along in the city as well.
Suddenly, several men carrying long swords on their backs walked towards him, all wearing clothes of the same style and color. They all walked with their heads held high and chests puffed out, and with one glance he could tell that they were arrogant disciples from a mixture of sects.
It was strange to say, but the smaller the sects that the disciples were from, the more they feared that others wouldn’t know that they were cultivators. They might as well have embroidered the word enormously onto their clothes. Shen Qingqiu turned naturally and conveniently picked up a demon mask from the side of the road before placing it on his face, calmly walking past them. Six out of every ten visitors at the festival were wearing masks, so he didn’t fear being too conspicuous when he was mixed among them. He heard one of the men ask, “Shixiong, is the Xiu Ya sword really in the city where someone could just come and grab it?”
The leader of the group berated, “This is the bounty that the alliance of the four factions sent out— how could it be fake? Didn’t you see that a lot of the sects have sent people over here to surround the place? Look, you guys also saw the reward that Huan Hua Palace posted. Don’t you want it?”
Thousands of thoughts flew around in Shen Qingqiu’s head. In the end, he had also unwittingly become a wanted man.
“It’s no wonder that Huan Hua Palace put down such a big investment. If we’re gonna talk about them, then it’s also tragic enough…”
Shen Qingqiu thought, At the most, all I did was knock out one lowly disciple from Huan Hua Palace. I didn’t even do anything else, so how did Huan Hua Palace become such a miserable victim? He wanted to continue listening, but those people walked further and further away until they were separated by the rush of people and he had to give up. Just when he was wondering whether he should find an abandoned house to rest at for a bit, one of his legs suddenly felt heavy. He looked down only to see a small child hugging his thigh.
The child slowly raised his head. His face was pallid as if he was malnourished but his eyes were big and bright as he stared straight up at Shen Qingqiu, hugging his thigh and refusing to let go.
Shen Qingqiu patted his head. “Which family are you from? Did you get lost?”
The small child nodded, and when he opened his mouth, his voice was soft and meek. “Got lost.”
Shen Qingqiu thought he was cute and looked a little familiar, so he bent down and lifted him up, letting him sit in the crook of his arm. “Who brought you out here?”
The little boy hugged his neck and pressed his lips together. “With Shizun…”
Could he be a young disciple from some sect? If an adult came looking for him, then it would be a problem. But for some reason, the child’s sad appearance as he said “Shizun” especially pulled at Shen Qingqiu’s heartstrings. He couldn’t harden his heart and just throw him onto the side of the road so that he could continue to squat there pitifully. He patted his soft little butt and said, “Shizun didn’t take care of you well; his conscience must be extremely bad. Do you remember where you got lost?”
The small child giggled next to his ear. “I remember. Shizun personally shoved me down with one strike—how do you not remember?”
Immediately, half of Shen Qingqiu’s body became cold.
He felt as if what he was holding in his arms wasn’t a young child, but rather a poisonous snake—an enormous snake that was coiled around his neck, baring its fangs. It could bite down at any moment and inject venom into him!
He fiercely threw the person in his arms away from him and turned, goosebumps forming all over his back. In an instant, all of the fine hairs on his body stood straight up.
All of the people on the street were looking at him.
The ones wearing a mask and the ones not wearing a mask all seemed to be frozen in that second, holding their breaths as they watched him.
Of the ones wearing a mask, the demon masks on their faces were ferocious and frightening; as for the ones without a mask, they were even more panic-inducing—none of them had a face!
Shen Qingqiu’s first instinct was to place his hand on the Xiu Ya sword, but he instantly recovered. He couldn’t attack!
This was what he had originally taught Luo Binghe. In the Dream Demon’s formation, if he attacked the “people” in the dream, it would be the same as attacking his own soul in reality.
Cold sweat covered Shen Qingqiu’s forehead. He didn’t know when he had actually entered the scope of the formation, though people naturally wouldn’t be able to remember when or how the “dream” had started. It couldn’t be that his nerves had become so frayed that as he ran and ran, he had just fallen asleep on the side of the road, right?
Behind him, a young and tender voice said, “Shizun.”
Back then, when the voice was next to his ear, it had clearly been incomparably soft and sweet—but when he heard it now, it unexpectedly contained an unexplainable, sinister intent.
Child Luo Binghe was behind him, and he said distantly, “Why don’t you want me anymore?”
Shen Qingqiu resolutely didn’t look back and started walking away immediately!
Though all of these faceless people were looking at him—no, it couldn’t be called ‘looking,’ considering they didn’t even have eyes, but all of their faces were turned in Shen Qingqiu’s direction. He could certainly feel countless gazes on him.
Shen Qingqiu pretended he couldn’t see them at all and charged forward abruptly. If there was anyone blocking his way, he shoved them aside. Suddenly, a hand cut off his strike. When he turned his head, he saw that although the hand was slender, it was so strong that it was scary; it was like an iron hoop.
A fourteen-year-old Luo Binghe grasped his wrist tightly, and besides the bruising on his face that was often there year-round, his expression was full of dejection. Those pitch-black eyes stared closely at him.
You’re still coming!
Shen Qingqiu shook his arm three times before he broke free, pushing through the crowd as he ran. The first time was a child, the second time was a teenager. If an adult version came along, then he really wouldn’t be able to bear it anymore!
But the street seemed to go on forever and he’d never reach the end. After the small stalls on both sides of the street appeared for the second time, along with the faceless children playing around and the young women wearing demon masks, Shen Qingqiu was finally sure that this road inside the dream was looping continuously. It was impossible to leave it by walking forward!
Since going forwards or backward was useless, he would just have to find a new path. Shen Qingqiu looked left and right before moving quickly to the front of a wine shop.
The big red lanterns were hung high in front of the wine shop’s door, the red light dim and alluring. The wooden doors were tightly closed, but Shen Qingqiu pulled them open and stepped inside. It was only when he completely stepped through that the two wooden doors slammed shut on their own.
The inside of the room was pitch black and a cold wind brushed past him. It didn’t seem as if he was inside a wine shop, but instead a mountain cave.
Shen Qingqiu didn’t find it unexpected though. You couldn’t use common sense to evaluate a dream. Every door held the possibility to lead to anywhere in the world.
At that moment, he heard a series of strange sounds.
There was a voice that seemed to belong to someone whose lungs had been punctured. They were continuously gasping for breath with extreme difficulty and utter agony.
Moreover, it seemed that it wasn’t just one person!
Shen Qingqiu snapped his fingers and a flame leaped out from the tips of his fingers, shooting towards the place where the strange sound had come from.
The light of the fire completely illuminated the scene, and his pupils instantly shrank in shock.
Liu Qingge held the Cheng Luan sword in his hand and pointed the blade at himself before plunging it into his own chest.
- This chapter is by Yan.
- The child and the teenager… were just dream phantoms in Shen Qingqiu’s mind and not the real Luo Binghe, right??? I guess it could be our dear little sheep going full yandere…
- Now all of the cultivators are looking for Shen Qingqiu, a wanted man who was imprisoned for helping the demons spread a plague. Poor guy, his reputation has been well and truly blackened!