Title: Did We Agree To Be Arch-Rivals?
Original Title: 说好成为彼此的宿敌呢[穿书]
Author: 轻风白杨 (Qingfeng Baiyang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
Hearing this scream, Su Yang immediately turned to look at the messed-up surface of Jade Mirror Pond.
The collapsed ice waterfall had since ruptured into countless, huge pieces of ice floating on the pond where a slow whirlpool had unexpectedly appeared sometime ago. The floating ice chunks moved and gathered with the flow, then steadily shifted to the center of the whirlpool.
Su Yang searched the water in panic, his keen eyes catching sight of some blood stains on a few pieces of crushed ice. His mind momentarily turned blank just then.
There’s no way that’s possible!
A voice thundered in Su Yang’s ear, occupying all his thoughts.
—Gu Feidi can’t die.
—He’s still just a kid; he absolutely cannot die here!
Su Yang had no time to overthink; he subconsciously released Xu Yunzhan and turned to head back into the pond.
Fan Xi had just settled Chi Tong when he swivelled around and saw what was happening. He hurriedly rushed over to grab the lower hem of Su Yang’s coat.
“Don’t go! It’s dangerous—!” His pupils widened, and his eyes filled with fear.
Su Yang whipped out the soft sword from his belt and sliced off the hem of his coat without hesitation. He mobilised his Prized Flower Steps and jumped back into the pond with two leaps.
Fan Xi gritted his teeth and was about to follow, but Pu Lingyun rushed to clutch at his ankles.
“You said it was dangerous!”
Her eyes were red, and there were water stains on her face—he couldn’t tell if they were pond water or tears. She cried incoherently: “Don’t go! Biao ge is still unconscious… I… what should I do? Don’t go!”
In the end, Fan Xi didn’t have the heart to cast her away.
With a moment’s hesitation, Su Yang’s figure disappeared into the Jade Mirror Pond, covered with floating ice.
The force of the underwater whirlpool wasn’t strong, but it swept Su Yang in the direction of the current.
He tried hard to keep his eyes wide open, ignoring the stabbing pain of the icy water. He just wanted to see things clearly underwater.
It wasn’t until he’d gradually approached the middle of the most turbulent water current that Su Yang instantly noticed a white figure curled up in a crack at the centre of a boulder—Gu Feidi was wearing white clothes today and was still fairly visible in murky water. There was a scratch on his back, and his calf was stuck in the stone crack. He was struggling to pull himself out of the boulder, making every effort to quickly extradite himself. His strenuous movements caused the wound on his back to tear. Blood gushed out, spreading into the surrounding pond water.
Su Yang hurriedly swam along the current and tried to help Gu Feidi move the boulder, but he discovered that the whirlpool of Jade Mirror Pond was caused by the crack in the stone that Gu Feidi’s calf was stuck in!
Every time Gu Feidi tried to move the boulder, he would be pulled into the crack by the water, sucking him further in. After struggling several times to no avail, Gu Feidi looked up at Su Yang and ceased moving.
His underwater vision was blurred. Su Yang didn’t know why, but when he suddenly approached, he saw a touch of despair on Gu Feidi’s previously obscured features. It was similar to when he’d been seriously injured in the forest and had recognised Su Yang’s Prized Flower Steps. His expression was weak and helpless; only being able to silently accept that this was his fate.
Su Yang swam forward and tried to pull Gu Feidi by the arm to dislodge him.
Gu Feidi stretched out to shove him away. He gestured to the surface of the water and signalled for him to leave.
Su Yang swam forward again.
Gu Feidi pushed him away again.
Su Yang gritted his teeth, swam around behind Gu Feidi, wrapped his arms around him, and pressed his own back against the other side of the boulder crevice.
He activated his inner strength under his feet, kicking heavily on the huge boulder that trapped Gu Feidi’s leg and forcefully stomped down on it.
The boulder shook but didn’t budge from its position. Instead, Gu Feidi was sucked in deeper.
Su Yang patted Gu Feidi’s leg, then pointed to the huge boulder beneath his feet. He then spread his five fingers and closed them one by one… until all the fingers were closed. Gu Feidi understood what he meant. They kicked down forcefully together and managed to shove the boulder a few feet away.
In the next second, they were swept into the cave behind the boulder by a rough, unrelenting current.
The rush of water sucked the boulder back to its original position and once again blocked the underwater cave, soundlessly stirring up a cloud of slit and grime.
Su Yang felt that his chest cavity was about to explode.
He endured the discomfort caused by the chill and lack of oxygen, dragged Gu Feidi, and quickly swam forward along the water-filled channel. Gu Feidi hadn’t lost consciousness yet and was still able to swim, but the passage here was narrow, so he pushed off the cave walls with his feet. The two did not say a word, but they cooperated extremely well and advanced ahead steadily.
Unfortunately, Gu Feidi had been trapped underwater for a long time and couldn’t continue to endure. Little by little, his movements began to slow until they stopped completely.
Su Yang gritted his teeth, threaded his arm through Gu Feidi’s to drag him, and continued swimming forward.
He encouraged himself in the darkness.
—You won’t die; you’ve transmigrated here and committed suicide so many times and still haven’t died. As long as you don’t die, the Gu Feidi in your arms can definitely be saved!
Hold on! Persistence is the key to victory!
Finally, just when Su Yang was on the brink of losing consciousness and only relying on his struggling instincts, the surrounding cave walls disappeared unexpectedly. Using buoyancy, he discerned the direction and exhausted his remaining bit of strength to surface.
As soon as his head broke out through the water, Su Yang took a deep breath and abruptly coughed, his mouth filled with a bloody, rust-like smell.
He dragged the unconscious Gu Feidi to the surface of the water and swam aimlessly forward.
This was a cave without even the slightest glimmer of light. Su Yang couldn’t see anything, so he could only try his luck and fumble around.
The pond water was still freezing; it was quickly devouring his stamina and causing him to become disoriented. But he knew he couldn’t faint yet. Once he passed out, he and the Gu Feidi in his arms could count this as their final resting place.
He didn’t know how long it took him to swim there. At long last, Su Yang’s knee hit a hard, rocky shore.
He climbed ashore and hauled Gu Feidi up again. Su Yang immediately went to check on his breathing and pulse.
Fortunately, he could feel both.
Su Yang breathed a sigh of relief, then noticed that he was entirely chilled to the bone.
The wet clothes stuck to his whole body and mercilessly drained his temperature. Su Yang quickly removed all his clothes, wrung them out, and wiped off the water droplets from his body. Feeling in the darkness, he helped Gu Feidi take off his clothes, wiped his body, and went to check the wound on his back.
Perhaps it was because of the cold; the wound on Gu Feidi’s back didn’t bleed much when he touched it. Su Yang randomly removed a soft undershirt, wrung it out as much as possible, and pressed it on Gu Feidi’s back to stop the bleeding.
In the spacious darkness, one became extremely sensitive to sound. Su Yang suddenly realised that he hadn’t heard Gu Feidi’s breathing since a while ago.
He stretched out his hand again to probe Gu Feidi’s breath.
Upon checking, Su Yang’s heart almost jumped out of his mouth.
—Not only had Gu Feidi stopped breathing, but the pulse from his wrist was virtually nonexistent. All he could feel was a slight little tremor in his neck.
Su Yang didn’t know if it was because he was shaking from the cold.
He forcefully suppressed the panic in his heart and turned Gu Feidi over, ignoring the wound on his back. He then pressed his knees onto Gu Feidi’s abdomen to help him expel the pond water through his mouth and nose and began to give him CPR.
That skill was a compulsory learning exercise when he was in high school. At the beginning, all the students felt that the school was implementing something unnecessary, but in order to pass the exam, everyone had to practice on one of those CPR manikins over and over again.
Su Yang tried his best to recall the feel of the procedures at the time, trying to extract scattered memory fragments from the vague impression as much as possible—the position, strength, and features of the chest cavity, the essential points of artificial respiration, the speed and intensity of each breath… all these were closely related to the ability to save lives, and there was no room for error.
Su Yang felt that he’d never once been so solemn and serious in all his life.
Even when he was on the stage for the first time, he hadn’t been as austere as he was now.
He repeated the cycle of applying pressure four times and giving air twice—over and over again.
There wasn’t any way to make an emergency call here. He could only rely on himself and pray that Gu Feidi’s protagonist halo would activate immediately.
As the protagonist, how could Gu Feidi die in such a place?!
Even if he was the only one to float in here, it was impossible for him to die—not to mention that there was now someone giving him CPR!
He must survive, no—thrive!
Su Yang repeated the process of CPR while grumbling in his heart.
For a long time, long time.
Gu Feidi’s body abruptly trembled.
Su Yang lifted his head from Gu Feidi’s face. He was filled with excitement and wanted to call out his name, but without warning, Gu Feidi slammed his palm heavily onto Su Yang’s chest.
Boundless internal force thrust out from Gu Feidi’s palm. Su Yang didn’t have time to respond. He only felt that his internal organs were instantly stabbed by a bayonet, and he couldn’t help spitting out a mouthful of blood.
His upper back collided against the rough wall of the cave behind him, and was speechless for a moment.
“You—” Gu Feidi’s teeth gnashing sounded in the darkness, “…took advantage of me!”
Su Yang coughed a few times sensing a thick, bloody smell spreading from his mouth.
He uttered aggrievedly, “I was saving you…”
Gu Feidi sneered, “Huh, saving me? If you were saving me, why did you need to remove my clothes and still… still do these indecent things?!”
Su Yang swallowed a mouthful of blood and replied in a hoarse voice: “You… weren’t breathing and didn’t have any pulse. I had to give you artificial respiration… removing the clothes was because… the pond water was too cold… it could’ve frozen you to death…”
For a while, no sound came from Gu Feidi’s side.
Su Yang leaned against the stone wall and finally regulated his breathing. He was about to start speaking and continue with his explanation, but heard Gu Feidi ask, “I was completely devoid of breath?”
“Yes…” Su Yang said, “Not even a pulse.”
Gu Feidi: “It was ‘Nirvana’.”
Su Yang was puzzled: “What?”
Gu Feidi snorted and clarified: “Within the Restoration Scripture, there’s a type of tortoise-breath healing method that you can force yourself to initiate for when you’re severely injured… or it will start by itself once you have fainted… and enter the ‘Nirvana’ state. At that time, I would weaken my breath and reduce my heartbeat, but my internal strength will work on its own to help me heal my wounds.”
When he heard this, Su Yang was dumbfounded.
Gu Feidi scowled again: “You said you’d only probed my breathing and pulse to conclude that I needed air to be rescued. Why didn’t you examine my internal strength? If you’d done that, you’d have known that I… I didn’t need you to ‘save’ me.”
Su Yang was silent for a long time and said in a low voice: “…I didn’t know.”
He didn’t even know that there was such a technique in this world that could forcefully stop one’s breathing and heartbeat! Based on his understanding, if there was no breath and pulse, one was at death’s door. Where was there any time to manage all this internal force nonsense?!
It was such a grave injustice for him to have suffered this palm strike!
Thinking of this, Su Yang couldn’t help but cough up blood again.
The cave fell into silence.
For a moment, Gu Feidi seemed to be dragging the clothes that fell on the ground and began fumbling around to put them on.
Su Yang quickly persuaded him: “The clothes are wet, and wearing them will make you lose your body temperature quicker. Then you’ll freeze to death!”
Gu Feidi let out a huff and ignored Su Yang.
After a while, he instantly began sputtering. He seemed to be very angry and enraged. “You… You also took off your clothes?!”
Su Yang retorted: “I already told you, if we continue to wear wet clothes here, we’d easily freeze to death…”
Before his words were over, Gu Feidi had lunged forward and pinned him against the stone wall.
Gu Feidi’s voice was furious and on the verge of exploding: “What the hell did you do to me! You… you actually! You…”
Su Yang rolled his eyes in the dark.
He activated his internal strength, pushed Gu Feidi away abruptly, and gave him kick: “What can I still do to you?! Even if I were GAY, I wouldn’t assault a kid! I was really trying to save you! SAVE YOU! Bugger… You’re going to stress me to death! *Cough cough cough*…”
Su Yang turned, knelt on the ground, and coughed grievously.
The internal force flowed through his body, but was unable to bring him the slightest warmth. Instead, it made him feel even more colder with each cycle, and he couldn’t help but shiver all over.
Gu Feidi who had been silent for a long time, suddenly snorted and threw a piece of clothing over, landing on Su Yang’s body.
Su Yang grabbed the edge of the clothing and was stunned for a moment.
—This shirt turned out to be dry and warm.
“With your internal strength, drying clothing and hair is effortless.”
Gu Feidi said with a cold tone and threw over another piece of dry clothing in the dark before adding, “Don’t make excuses for what you just did. Fortunately, you like to wear silk blouses, so I won’t make a mistake when I grab onto one. Otherwise, if I had accidentally put on your inner wear——it’s disagreeable just thinking about it.”
Su Yang couldn’t help but pause when he took the clothes.
He chuckled silently to himself and casually started to put his clothes on. Then, he raised his hand to cover his mouth and cough twice.
Although Gu Feidi had been merciful enough not to use his full force in his palm strike, it was still enough to make him suffer. Until now, he still felt a burning sensation in his lungs when he breathed.
Tsk, what a little white-eyed wolf.
Saved him but ended up being beaten by him; how does that saying go? Biting the hand that feeds you?
Su Yang curled his lips, fumbled to put on all the clothes that Gu Feidi tossed over, and shivered.
He was still freezing, as if his internal organs had been flooded by the freezing pond water. No matter how he manoeuvred his internal power, he could not drive away the chill from his entire body. His wet hair was dripping over his shoulders. He tried using internal force to dry it, but his efforts backfired. His hair even began to form tiny icicles.
“I say,” Su Yang trembled as he asked Gu Feidi, “So everyone is able to dry their clothes and hair using their internal force, right?”
Gu Feidi gave a cold reply: “Naturally, everyone can do it. Don’t you dare gloss over it!”
Su Yang rolled his eyes in the dark. “If you don’t believe me, just touch my hair and you’ll understand.”
Gu Feidi did not say anything for a long time.
After a while, he slowly approached Su Yang’s side, placed his hand on his body, moved upwards to his shoulder, and further up to touch his hair.
“You…” Gu Feidi said in surprise, “…Why is it freezing?”
Su Yang sighed, “I followed the instructions you taught and used my internal force to dry my hair.”
Gu Feidi: …
Gu Feidi hesitated for a long time: “…Maybe it has something to do with the internal skills you are practising. Six Underworlds Inter Flower and Nine Cold Surging Shoots are both Qinghan school mental cultivation methods. Thus, when they are combined with cold water, they freeze.”
Su Yang immediately started to laugh out loud.
Gu Feidi had lost face and snapped angrily, “What are you laughing at?”
Su Yang said, “Now do you believe that I didn’t remove your clothes to molest you?”
Gu Feidi said gruffly, “Who’ll believe you?!”
Su Yang: “I’ve no idea about any ‘Nirvana’. Seeing you that you weren’t breathing, my first thought was to manually give you air to save you. What’s the point of my good intentions? Once you awoke, you struck me. I’m really heartbroken.”
Gu Feidi snorted coldly but didn’t speak.
After being silent for a while, Su Yang smiled and said, “I leave it to you whether you believe me or not. Anyway, I don’t do those kinds of immoral acts like carrying out sneak attacks and coercing others. Right now, we don’t know where we are, and we don’t know whether Lesser Jade House will send anyone to rescue us. We can only rely on each other. You might as well trust me once. Let’s join forces and see if we can find a way to get out of here.”
“We can get out.” Gu Feidi said calmly, “There’s an air current in the cave; therefore there’ll be an exit.”
“…Ai?” Su Yang was stunned.
Gu Feidi ‘hmph’-ed, “Pampered and spoiled.”
When he’d finished speaking, he pulled Su Yang up by his arm from the ground, “I can roughly gauge the direction; come with me.”
Both of them fumbled ahead in the darkness, one in front of the other, occasionally wading through the water. But after a couple of hundred steps, their previously dried clothes were soaked to their waists again.
Su Yang manoeuvred his internal forces to try and dispel the cold, but ended up shivering from it instead. When they finally set foot on the dry ground, he felt a little lightheaded and dizzy.
“Gu Feidi, do me a favour.” Su Yang dropped his pretentiousness and asked, “Could you help me dry my clothes? I’m going to freeze to death…”
His teeth were chattering when he said this.
Gu Feidi snorted with discontentment, stretched out his hand to press on Su Yang’s waist, and moved his internal force to help him dry his clothes.
Su Yang’s shivering reached to his palm, and Gu Feidi instantly withdrew his hand. He then quickly reached out to probe Su Yang’s forehead.
“Tsk, why are you so cold!” Gu Feidi said.
“I… I’m what?” Su Yang was surprised, “Very cold?”
Gu Feidi was silent for a while. “Like a corpse.”
Su Yang wasn’t having any of that: “What nonsense are you talking?! Why can’t I feel that I’m cold?”
Gu Feidi grasped Su Yang’s hand and said, “That’s because your hands are also frozen.”
After drying their clothes and shoes, the two continued to forge ahead along the cave.
Finally, a thin crevice began to appear on the top of the cave, leaking in a little ray of light and providing paltry illumination for them.
Gu Feidi’s steps paused; he looked down at his dark red shirt and said nothing.
Su Yang glanced down in his dizzy state. Okay, Gu Feidi’s previously white shirt—which was now so filthy that you couldn’t discern the colour—was now on his body.
Gu Feidi turned around, “Change it back.”
Su Yang grumbled internally: Didn’t he accidentally swap his outerwear. In any case, the inner garment is still his own; there’s nothing to exchange. I wasn’t aware that this Gu Feidi dude would be so compulsively finicky…
With this in mind, he raised his hands slightly to pull at his collar, but felt spasms of grogginess and he was unable to withstand it any longer.
Gu Feidi’s expression suddenly changed, and he moved forward to support Su Yang.
Su Yang’s eyesight went dark, and he fell weakly backwards into Gu Feidi’s arms.
Gu Feidi’s posture stiffened at that moment.
He supported Su Yang firmly in his arms for a while before laying him flat on the ground. He then held Su Yang’s wrist to probe his internal strength.
As soon as Gu Feidi’s internal force penetrated Su Yang’s meridians, he was jolted by the cold. He didn’t let go, but the expression on his face became graver and graver. In the end, his brows were deeply furrowed, and his eyes were extremely gloomy.
He released sigh and hugged Su Yang into his arms, stimulating his internal strength in an effort to warm his cold body.
“Su Yang, you can’t die.…..” Gu Feidi murmured, “You risked your life to save me. If you die here, I’m afraid.…..”
After a long time, Su Yang’s body finally stopped resembling a block of ice.
Gu Feidi carried him on his back. Although the pain from his wound made him knit his brows, he didn’t put Su Yang down. Clenching his teeth, he identified the direction where the breeze was coming from and continued to trudge forward.
Jade Mirror Pond’s edge.
The broken ice floating on the top had refrozen under the frigid temperatures, but the original smoothness of Jade Mirror Pond could no longer be restored.
Wang Ke stood on the surface of the pond beneath the spot where the ice waterfall had been and lowered his head to look at the ice layer under his feet. Mo shixiong, Li shijie and Di Ling all waited silently behind him.
Fan Xi and Pu Lingyun had changed into clean clothes and were now standing on one side waiting for the shixiongs’ and shijies’ decision.
Pu Lingyun had cried several times until her eyes and nose were very red. She was extremely remorseful and sobbingly choked out: “It’s all my fault.….. I shouldn’t have been so brazen, I shouldn’t have come to climb the ice waterfall, let alone fight on it.….. I—I didn’t expect it would be like this…”
Li shijie embraced the girl in her arms and stroked the hair at her crown, saying, “After this incident, you should be more mature. When you do anything in the future, you should consider it more carefully and avoid being headstrong.”
Pu Lingyun wailed, threw herself at Li shijie and buried her head, crying bitterly.
Fan Xi lowered his head and declared sorrowfully: “It was initially my suggestion to come for ice games. It’s all my fault.…..”
Li shijie patted Pu Lingyun’s back and shot down Fan Xi: “That’s enough; this sort of thing does happen, so it’s not totally both your faults. At that time, no one expected the ice waterfall to break. As a senior, not only did Chi Tong not stop you, but also went ahead and joined in the mischief. That warrants punishment.”
Fan Xi paled and gritted his teeth: “Since shixiongs and shijies are here, I.….. I shall take my leave first. Yunzhan and Chi Tong are injured, and Luo Yin is also having a fever. I shall go back to take care of them. Once they’ve recovered, I.….. shall willingly accept the punishment.”
Li shijie was stunned for a moment, then nodded in agreement.
Pu Lingyun also straightened and wiped away her tears: “I’ll.….. I’ll retire too. I shall follow Fan Xi’s example and wait.…..wait until everyone has recovered. Then I shall come and be punished.”
Li shijie stroked Pu Lingyun’s hair again and sighed, “Go.”
Once the two of them had withdrawn, Wang Ke promptly turned around and said, “Prepare to break the ice. No matter what, this Jade Mirror Pond still has to be searched. At the very least… we have to recover their bodies.”
Di Ling’s eyes had been closed all this while, but just then, she slowly opened them and spoke in a low tone: “I can’t hear anything. The bottom of the pond is too messy; I can’t tell where their positions are.”
Mo Yun stepped forward and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t strain yourself; go to the shore and rest. First Defence shixiong and I will break the ice and have a look at the bottom of the pond.”
Needless to say, they subsequently couldn’t locate anything in Jade Mirror Pond.
The expanse of water was not very large, and its depth was only two or three feet. Wang Ke and Mo Yun searched underwater for a long time until the sun was slanting from the west, but they were still unsuccessful.
“Perhaps they found a way out.”
Wang Ke pondered for a moment and said, “This Jade Mirror Pond is filled with water from the waterfall all year round, but it doesn’t overflow. There must be a passageway we’re unaware of beneath the pond. Fan Xi also said earlier that he noticed a whirlpool had formed on the water’s surface—they might have discovered a secret underwater tunnel.”
Li shijie said, “Be that as it may be… We can only hope that they actually found a way out.”
Everyone couldn’t uncover anything, so they had no choice but to return to Lesser Jade House and convene at Chi Tong’s residence.
The incident was too major: two disciples had disappeared, two were injured, and three others were somewhat feverish because they had fallen into the cold pond and had been chilled by the wind.
Wang Ke invited Old Qi from Meizhu Mountain into Lesser Jade House. Old Qi was proficient in the art of healing. He diagnosed and prescribed medicine to them, then carefully examined Chi Tong, who’d yet to regain consciousness. He determined that Chi Tong had sustained an impact to the back of the neck and, therefore, would have fallen into a coma and not awoken until now.
After everyone had discussed the matter, they decided to leave the injured Xu Yunzhan at Chi Tong’s place where Mo Yun and Di Ling would take care of them together. Pu Lingyun and Fan Xi were brought back by Li shijie without any punishment meted out.
Luo Yin had been sitting next to Chi Tong’s bedside and refused to leave, no matter how much the others persuaded him. Finally, Old Qi pricked him with a silver needle doused with medicine. He then lifted him up and placed on the bed next to Chi Tong to rest.
It was a thoroughly busy time, lasting all the way until midnight before the chaos of the day finally quieted down a bit.
Di Ling stood in the courtyard; her eyes blank, her thoughts unknown.
Mo Yun stepped forward and put his hand on her shoulder. “Since the two youngsters are no longer in the pond, they must have had some fortuitous meeting. Shimei, you shouldn’t worry so much.”
After a long time, Di Ling said, “I’m not worried about them. According to Fan Xi, when Su Yang returned to Cold Pond to save Feidi, he wouldn’t have disappeared with Feidi if they didn’t encounter something unexpected. I was just thinking that it was so dangerous today; why didn’t Shizun… give any prior warning?”
Mo Yun narrowed his eyes and said, “There’s some truth in shimei’s words.”
Di Ling continued: “Five years ago, there was a fire at the manufacturing workshop. Two years ago, Chi Tong nearly went off the rails while cultivating. Shizun sent letters to remind us of these matters. Although she is in seclusion, she knows everything that happens in the House very well. What is the reason she’s acting indifferent in this instance when disciples have been met with tragedy?”
Mo Yun asked, “Are you resenting Shizun?”
Di Ling shook her head and said, “No, I’m guessing… whether Shizun was aware that this incident was harrowing but not hazardous? Whether she deliberately let Su Yang and Feidi undergo this ordeal?”
Gu Feidi traversed along the cave for a whole day with the unconscious Su Yang on his back.
He was wearing only a thin inner shirt, and his outer shirt had been wrapped around Su Yang. Su Yang lay on Gu Feidi’s back, breathing weakly but with a slight coolness that couldn’t be ignored. He huddled himself at Gu Feidi’s neck.
Gu Feidi lowered his eyelashes and manoeuvred his internal strength to warm up the ice-like Su Yang.
Since Su Yang fell unconscious, his body temperature had been depleting. No matter how many times Gu Feidi used internal force to warm him, Su Yang’s body temperature would begin to drop again as soon as he stopped.
Gu Feidi didn’t know if this was a problem with Su Yang’s internal strength technique, but Su Yang’s breathing and pulse had also weakened along with his body temperature, which was extremely dangerous.
Therefore, Gu Feidi had to expend his internal energy to maintain his body temperature over and over. After exhausting his internal strength, he adjusted his breath for a while to recover, and soon he would expend it all on Su Yang again.
At dusk, Gu Feidi finally saw the sky full of sunset clouds exposed in a narrow stone crevice in the distance.
He immediately quickened his pace and headed towards the exit of the cave.
Outside the cave was a quiet valley.
As the sun set, the valley sank into the dark shadows. In the distance was a towering mountain wall. A patch of it was illuminated by the orange-red rays of sunlight. In the remaining daylight, he could see that there was a pavilion that had been suspended in midair embedded into the cliff. The white walls and black tiles were exactly the same as the buildings of Lesser Jade House.
Seeing this pavilion, Gu Feidi’s eyes radiated with excitement. He supported Su Yang on his body, pursed his lips, and made his way towards the mountain wall where the pavilion was located.
The plank road built along the mountain wall was less than three feet wide. When Gu Feidi finally reached the pavilion platform, the sun had completely set and was hidden behind the mountain. The whole building fell into darkness, looking a little gloomy below the grey-blue sky.
“Excuse me, is anyone there?” Gu Feidi asked in a loud voice.
No one responded from the pavilion.
Gu Feidi called out twice. Seeing that the building was still quiet, he pushed open the door and walked in.
The inside of the room was dark. Gu Feidi first placed Su Yang on the ground, then looked around for a while. He managed to locate a fire stick under the lamp stand in the side hall and lit two lamps in the hall.
This pavilion was not very large but had two floors. On the lower level was a main hall plus two side halls, one of which had a bookcase and a display shelf. The floors, tables and chairs in the main hall were spotless, and the pens and inks on the desks had not yet dried up. It was apparent that someone was residing here.
Gu Feidi hesitated to go upstairs and called out again, but still no one answered. So he took a lamp and climbed up the stairs to the second floor.
The second floor of the building had two bedrooms; one large and one small. The bedding and furnishings in the rooms were all complete. There were even wooden buckets filled with water and a dressing table with paraphernalia—obvious traces that someone lived there.
Gu Feidi finally decided to stay for the time being.
He placed the lamp he was carrying on the dressing table in the smaller bedroom. He then went back downstairs to bring Su Yang up and helped to remove his dirty outer garments, shoes, and socks.
Seeing the large blood stains on Su Yang’s white inner shirt, Gu Feidi’s fingers trembled for a second.
He wasn’t aware what crossed his mind, but his expression turned gloomy, and he stretched out his hand to carefully lift up Su Yang’s blood-stained shirt.
Contrary to his expectations, Su Yang had no wounds on his body.
Gu Feidi let out a sigh of relief.
His fingers rubbed over the congealed blood for a while, then he wrapped his shirt back onto Su Yang, carried him onto the bed, and covered him with a heavy quilt.
That night, Gu Feidi hardly slept.
He sat cross-legged by the bed under the lamp light. Once his internal strength had recovered, he squeezed into the quilt to help Su Yang warm up. Su Yang’s body temperature had yet to recover, and he was still unconscious. Since he hadn’t woken up until now, Gu Feidi dared not be negligent.
Just as the sun finally rose the next morning and gradually lit up the sky, Gu Feidi went to touch Su Yang’s hand again. The extremely discouraging iciness that had chilled his fingertips was no longer apparent.
Gu Feidi was finally relieved.
He helped tuck Su Yang in, turned, and went downstairs.
There was still no one around.
With the sun now shining, Gu Feidi used the light to search the house carefully, but did not find a way to Lesser Jade House.
In the end, he stood in front of the writing desk and looked down at the stack of mental cultivation books there.
“Red Plume Phoenix Tree?” Gu Feidi mumbled out the four words on the cover of the book and reached out his hand to gently turn open the cover.
After only reading the first two lines of the general chapter of the internal strength technique, Gu Feidi was shocked. Not caring whether he’d obtained the consent of the house owner, he held the book in his hand and continued to read it carefully.
He was immersed in the book and did not notice the passing of time at all. It wasn’t until voice rang out from behind him did he awake as if from a dream.
“This set of ‘Red Plume Phoenix Tree’ is the inner strength methodology of the Zhengyang school. It took me a few years to create it. I’ve just completed it, and you’ve read it.”
Hearing this, Gu Feidi abruptly turned his head and inadvertently released the book he was holding. Before it hit the ground, it was swooped up by a little bird and delivered to a woman in green who was leaning against the door frame of the side hall.
Gu Feidi’s gaze fell on the little bird resting on the shoulder of the woman in green. After a moment, he nodded and clasped his fists in salute: “Shizun.”
Qingbo received the gesture and said with a smile, “It’s your good fortune that you were able to come to this place.”
Gu Feidi was taken aback but didn’t ask what the ‘good fortune’ was, instead, he quickly said, “Shizun, Su Yang is also here. His body’s health is rather unusual. I wonder if you can—”
“There’s no need for you to worry about that. His inner strength study is inclined to the cold method, and he tried to manoeuvre it while he was in the cold pond to preserve his physical strength. The cold air cannot be discharged from his body.” Qingbo said, “You’ve already assisted him through the most dangerous time. Once he wakes up, it will be a blessing in disguise. With the existence of this Cold Pond Ice Spirit, he would get twice the results with half the effort when he practices cold techniques in the future.”
Gu Feidi was silent for a moment, then said: “But he hasn’t woken up until now; I’m really worried.”
Qingbo smiled after eyeing him for a while and said, “You care about him.”
Gu Feidi dropped his head and said nothing.
Qingbo: “Su Yang originated from the Yin Tan Divine Sect. The Central Plains martial world calls it the ‘Devil Sect’ and have always wanted to destroy it. But why were you… willing to carry him all the way and care for him throughout the night? Don’t tell me you haven’t thought of letting him die in the ice, thereby ridding the Central Plains martial world of a major threat that may arise in the future?”
Gu Feidi couldn’t help frowning when he heard this question but didn’t hesitate to answer: “Lesser Jade House doesn’t involve themselves in the Jianghu’s matters. Su Yang is my classmate. How can I abandon him?”
Qingbo asked again: “If in the future, after you’ve completed your discipleship, you meet again when you’ve returned to the Jianghu, what would you do if you have to fight each other to the death?”
Gu Feidi was stunned for a moment.
He immediately lowered his eyelashes, and his expression became extremely serious.
“If he is like what the rumours of the Jianghu say he is—the kind person who rapes, loots, and behaves unscrupulously—I won’t be merciful.” Gu Feidi said.
Qingbo smiled and said, “But he rescued you in Jade Mirror Pond.”
Gu Feidi replied resolutely and decisively, “I will pay for it with my life.”
“Then if he didn’t burn, kill, loot, or do any bad things, it’s merely that you both stand in opposing camps and he wants to fight with you.….. What will you do?” Qingbo smiled and asked with interest.
Gu Feidi opened his mouth and couldn’t answer for a while.
After a time, he muttered: “Shizun, Su Yang… Maybe he is being coerced.”
Qingbo was surprised: “Hmm?”
Gu Feidi hung his head down and stopped talking.
Qingbo blinked as if she’d suddenly remembered something and couldn’t help laughing out loud.
She cast a sidelong glance at Gu Feidi and said lazily: “Back then, the Devil Sect Leader ran amuck in the Central Plains and used many young and good-looking male servants. Therefore, there are rumours that… he has a peculiar technique which requires dual cultivation with a furnace every night, and only then could he accomplish…”
Gu Feidi suddenly raised his eyes and looked over, his expression unpredictable.
Qingbo continued: “……It is also said that every time he dual cultivates with a furnace, he will use poisonous blood to mark the back of the other party with a red spider-lily and use the flower spell as a shackle. If the person who has dual-cultivated with him leaves him for too long a time, he will gradually weaken and die…… When you said that Su Yang was being coerced, did you mean this?”
Gu Feidi lowered his gaze again, and after a long while, he asked in a low voice, “Shizun knows he has a tattoo on his back?”
When Qingbo heard this question, she burst out laughing.
After she was done laughing, she eyed Gu Feidi up and down with a strange look for a long while and asked, “Why do you care about the tattoo on his body?”
Gu Feidi was silent for a moment and said, “I.….. felt it a bit much to bear.”
Qingbo raised an eyebrow: “Oh?”
Gu Feidi said: “In the past six months that we’ve gotten to know each other, I saw that he wasn’t as unbearable as the rumours of the Jianghu make him out to be. On that day, the situation at Jade Mirror Pond was so dangerous, but he rushed over to save me.….. I think that he doesn’t behave like the Devil Sect’s Leader, who uses extremely ruthless means. He is naturally talented. If it was due to…… some matters—being controlled by the Devil Sect Leader for example—I sympathise.…..”
“So it’s like this.…..”
Qingbo seemed a little disappointed for some reason. She paused for a moment, then turned to ask Gu Feidi, “You are sixteen this year?”
Gu Feidi was taken aback and replied, “I’ll be seventeen in the first month.”
Qingbo nodded and smiled: “The Red Plume Phoenix Tree book from earlier—did you enjoy it?”
Gu Feidi was surprised by the sudden change of topic; he paused for a moment, then said: “The mental cultivation method is exquisite, and it complements Restoration Scripture. I enjoyed it very much.”
Qingbo smiled and said, “How about you stay here from now on, and I shall personally teach you how to cultivate the Red Plume Phoenix Tree. What do you think?”
The astonishment came too abruptly, and Gu Feidi didn’t have time to display an overwhelmed expression; he just stood there dumbfounded.
He only heard Qingbo continue to speak: “You don’t have to worry about Su Yang; I’ll send him back to Zhichun Garden very soon. He will follow Di Ling to practice the Nine Cold Surging Shoots technique. Although Lesser Jade House doesn’t get involved in the matters of the Jianghu, you and Su Yang shouldn’t have too many entanglements after all. You stay here and won’t have to see him again until you finish your discipleship.”
Gu Feidi heard this, and his expression suddenly became somewhat disappointed and helpless.
But he quickly recovered his clarity, took a half step back, once again cupped his fist, and saluted Qingbo earnestly saying, “I’ll heed Shizun’s arrangement.”
Qingbo chuckled lightly and said, “I’ll send someone for your clothes and supplies soon. You can start studying Red Plume Phoenix Tree now. I’ll go see Su Yang; you don’t have to follow.”
Gu Feidi nodded.
Watching Qingbo go upstairs, Gu Feidi secretly clenched his fists, turned around, and sat down at the desk to begin studying the first chapter of Red Plume Phoenix Tree.
He quickly immersed himself in the unparalleled exquisiteness of the mental cultivation method and once again forgot the passing of time. After he’d finished hastily re-reading the first chapter and looked up from the book, he realised from looking out the window that the whole sky was filled with the glow of the setting sun.
It was all quiet in the pavilion.
Gu Feidi put down the book and went upstairs to the small bedroom on the second floor, only to find that Qingbo and Su Yang had been gone for some time. All that was left was a folded, flat piece of bedding which had been quietly placed at the corner of the bed.
There was a letter left atop the dressing table: “I shall send Su Yang back to Zhichun Garden theres some porridge simmering on the small stove at the north side hall have some if youre hungry”
Gu Feidi put down the letter and walked slowly to the window, pushed aside the curtain, and stared at the flaming sunset glowing on the horizon.
His pitch-black pupils were stained with a golden-red colour from the setting sun, but the expression on his face was rather implausibly complicated, and his thoughts unknown.