Early in the morning, Wang Erguan pushed open the door, ready to begin his day of hard training.
He thought he was the earliest to rise, but he found that Lin Shouxi was still sitting on the veranda, lost in thought.
Did he stay up all night?
Wang Erguan could not tell for a moment who was the one cultivating immortality.
“If you are injured, you should rest more.
Did the attack leave you rattled?” he asked.
Lin Shouxi did not respond to him.
In fact, he did not even hear Wang Erguan’s words.
He had entered a state of deep meditation, where his mind was free from all distractions.
It wasn’t until Xiao He sat down beside him that he emerged from his trance.
When he opened his eyes, the sun was already high in the sky.
As usual, the old woman with a cane came to deliver their meals.
Wang Erguan observed her slow, labored movements as she hobbled along the rugged terrain towards their ancient dwelling.
He couldn’t help but wonder how she managed to navigate the treacherous cliffs that surrounded them on all sides.
Thinking that she must be an expert, he pretended to be kind and went to help her.
But as soon as he approached, the old woman pushed him aside with great force, sending him crashing into a wall and nearly knocking him out.
After the incident, Wang Erguan recounted to his companions a tale of the old woman being a monster in disguise, with two rows of razor-sharp teeth that glinted in the light.
“What’s so scary about monsters?” Xiao He said as they sat down to eat.
“Aren’t you afraid of them?” Wang Erguan asked, not believing her lack of fear.
He had seen young girls in his family be scared half to death by ghost stories.
“I grew up in the mountains,” Xiao He explained.
“The mountains?” Wang Erguan and Ji Luoyang were both surprised.
At first, Lin Shouxi did not understand what was so astonishing about her upbringing.
After all, he too had been raised in the mountains, where the high peaks were shrouded in mist and the sky was a never-ending expanse of blue.
It was the perfect place for cultivating the Tao.
“How did you manage to survive in these wild mountains, where monsters and evil spirits abound?” Wang Erguan asked, sensing that Xiao He was not an ordinary person.
“My aunt raised me,” Xiao He replied, her words small and measured as she ate her meal.
“She told me that I was once a young lady from a prominent family, but I was persecuted and almost killed by my own kin.
My aunt and my mother were close, so she rescued me and we fled to the mountains, where we have lived in seclusion for many years.”
“Your aunt must be formidable,” Wang Erguan said, impressed.
“Yes, she is very fierce,” Xiao He confirmed.
“I imagine your aunt must be very worried about you right now,” Lin Shouxi added.
“May I ask, do you have a surname?” Ji Luoyang inquired, curious about her background as her voice trailed off.
“My aunt never told me,” Xiao He said, shaking her head.
“She said that she hopes one day I can return to the family and reclaim it.”
“Ah, I see,” Ji Luoyang nodded in understanding.
“And what about the incident where you told Perfected Yun you had lost your virginity at eighteen despite being fourteen?” Ji Luoyang asked, voicing the question that was on everyone’s mind.
“Well…,” Xiao He faltered, her eyes flickering with uncertainty.
“Ji Luoyang, I’m surprised that someone from a wealthy family like you doesn’t know about this,” Wang Erguan interjected, eager to show off his own knowledge.
“Xiao He must have a spirit root.”
Lin Shouxi had never heard of this term before and pondered its meaning.
Ji Luoyang seemed equally perplexed and turned to Wang Erguan for an explanation.
With his arms crossed, the chubby boy tantalizingly built up the suspense before finally speaking.
“Spirit veins are already a rare gift in this world, but spirit roots are even rarer among cultivators who possess spirit veins.
For instance, my uncle was born blind, but he is fortunate enough to have the ‘Eyesight Spirit Root’.”
“Eyesight Spirit Root?” they echoed in unison.
“Even though he was born blind, his spirit root bestowed upon him the ability to see the world.
Not only that, but he can also see in all directions at the same time, even things that ordinary people cannot see… it is truly a formidable power,” Wang Erguan bragged.
“What exactly is a spirit root?” Ji Luoyang asked, pressing for more information.
“How would I know? I don’t have one,” Wang Erguan snorted.
“What about Xiao He?” Ji Luoyang asked.
“Xiao He, do you have some kind of spirit root that can deceive the True Speech Stone?” Wang Erguan asked, but he didn’t really believe it was possible.
The True Speech Stone was a treasure condensed from the world’s spirit energy.
Even the great cultivators who claimed to be immortals had to hold the True Speech Stone when making their Tao companion vows.
“Deceive the True Speech Stone?” Ji Luoyang’s heart skipped a beat.
“No.” Xiao He finally said, “I….
I seem to be able to see the future.”
“See the future?” Everyone was even more surprised.
Sometimes, I have visions of scenes that have never happened before.
For example, when Perfected Yun asked me that question the other day…,”
There was no need to say more.
They all understood that she had seen a vision of herself and her Tao companion consummating their love four years from now.
“Did you get a good look at the person?” Lin Shouxi asked.
“N… No I didn’t.” Xiao He put down her chopsticks, seeming unable to take another bite.
“Is it okay to ask such a personal question so casually? Haha, did you upset the little girl again?” Wang Erguan gloated.
But his laughter quickly froze on his face.
Before Xiao He closed her lunch box, she meticulously picked out the remaining pieces of meat and placed them one by one into Lin Shouxi’s bowl.
Only then did she get up and leave without saying a word.
The young woman walked back to her room, her blue skirt trailing behind her like a gentle stream of flower petals, and closed the door shut.
Lin Shouxi looked at the few pieces of meat lying in his lunch box and fell into silence.
Wang Erguan and Ji Luoyang exchanged a glance, both seeming to understand something.
“I think I know who Xiao He saw,” Wang Erguan chuckled meaningfully.
“I don’t think that’s right,” Lin Shouxi said.
“What’s wrong? Why? Are you being coy and shy? Do you need to go hide in your room like a little girl?” Wang Erguan laughed heartily.
As he laughed, he noticed that Ji Luoyang’s face became somewhat dark.
Wang Erguan was taken aback for a moment, then incredulously asked, “Do you also have feelings for…?”
“How is that possible?”
“Then why is your face so dark…” Wang Erguan asked, growing more confused.
Ji Luoyang closed his lunchbox and said, “I’m going to practice.”
Wang Erguan was stunned for a moment, feeling that these people were somewhat insane and incomprehensible.
“Are you unable to eat as well?” Wang Erguan looked at the dazed Lin Shouxi and asked.
Lin Shouxi nodded, but he managed to finish the meat on his plate before leaving.
Wang Erguan felt a sense of sadness.
He might be the only sane person left here.
After the matter regarding the Foresight Spirit Root, nobody mentioned it again.
However, Lin Shouxi and Xiao He’s relationship naturally improved.
They would eat together, meditate together, and sometimes even go to the cliff to watch the clouds.
Whenever they watched the clouds, Wang Erguan would always point and jest at them from a distance.
In reality, they didn’t talk much when they were together, and the topics they discussed were mostly unimportant.
Xiao He often talked about the events she encountered while living with her aunt in the mountains.
The mountain, which was supposed to be some scary thing shrouded in demonic energy, transformed into a vibrant and beloved hometown.
As for Lin Shouxi, he too shared stories from his childhood, often adding his own local flair to the tales.
In some ways, it felt like he was recounting these memories to himself, a way to remind himself of who he was and what his purpose was.
During their occasional gatherings, Wang Erguan would often tease his fellow young men and women, playfully calling them shameless.
However, he always did so with careful restraint, never wanting to push too far and risk angering anyone who might then train even harder.
He hoped that these two would continue to be idle like this.
Lin Shouxi was used to his talkativeness and never took it to heart.
Similarly, he was aware that he didn’t actually have feelings for Xiao He.
But he didn’t dislike her either.
Xiao He was beautiful, and her voice still carried a hint of childishness, like the cry of a yellow oriole.
When he talked with her, his mood would relax, and more importantly, he was slowly learning about the world through their idle chatter.
He learned that people in this world gathered in the center of the earth, where there was a sacred mountain protecting them and holy fire surrounding them.
Even the fiercest evil spirits dared not approach.
However, Wuzhu Lake, where they currently were, was located outside the protection of any sacred mountain, in a desolate wasteland where the land was polluted and evil spirits roamed freely.
This land was filled with dangerous ancient sites, battlefields, and nests of evil creatures, and only a small number of people could survive here.
“What exactly pollutes the land?” Lin Shouxi asked.
“It’s filth,” Xiao He explained.
“Countless impurities have seeped into the earth.
There are various opinions about the origin of this filth, but there is still no clear conclusion.”
“Can’t the filth be eradicated?”
Xiao He sighed softly, “It’s very difficult,” she said.
“But we must remember that it’s not entirely bad.
After all, the true energy we breathe is emitted by it.”
True energy is emitted by filth? Lin Shouxi furrowed his brow.
It was ironic that the source of the energy which humans used to cultivate was also responsible for polluting the land.
It’s no wonder it was so dangerous.
Without care, one could easily fall into energy deviation.
“Huh? Hasn’t your sect told you about this before?” Xiao He looked at his eyes and asked.
“They didn’t need to, as my veins weren’t open, and I was merely a sweeper,” Lin Shouxi said, rubbing his temples.
“What’s more… because of the fall, I can’t seem to remember many things.”
“I see…” Xiao He looked at him and pursed her lips in thought.
“They truly wasted your potential, making you work as a sweeper.
With your looks, you could have descended the mountain just once and returned with a crowd of female recruits.”
“Had I done that, the sect would have become a nunnery,” Lin Shouxi joked.
“A nunnery? What’s that?”
“It’s a sect consisting only of women.
That’s what we call it in my hometown.”
“Oh…” Xiao He suddenly realized, “You’re being narcissistic.”
The two laughed together.
Xiao He’s smile quickly faded as she had the sensation of being watched from behind.
Lin Shouxi noticed and turned with her to see the old woman walking towards the courtyard with her cane to deliver food.
“Her footsteps make no sound,” Xiao He remarked.
“Neither do yours,” Lin Shouxi pointed out.
“It’s not the same.
That old lady might not even have feet,” Xiao He whispered cautiously, as if afraid the old lady might hear.
“No feet?” Lin Shouxi frowned.
“How can she walk without feet? Does she float like a ghost?”
“Maybe it’s not the old woman who’s walking,” Xiao He squinted her eyes.
“Perhaps it’s the cane that’s carrying her around.”
“The cane?” Lin Shouxi found the idea bizarre.
“Yes, maybe there was once an old woman who walked with a cane for many years, and when she died, the cane gained a spirit.
The cane doesn’t want to believe that the old woman is gone, so it carries her lifeless body around and continues to do what the old woman used to do,” Xiao He explained in a hushed tone.
“I see.” Lin Shouxi was faintly bewildered.
“It’s just a guess,” Xiao He smiled.
“Aren’t you scared?” Xiao He fixed her bright eyes on him.
“I am,” Lin Shouxi admitted.
“Hmph, you’re lying.”
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