When Cheng Qian woke up, he found himself inside Shi Jiezi.

The sun had not yet reached its zenith when Shi Jiezi transformed into a small courtyard, with green shade covering the vitality, resembling a brief utopia.

A hand rested on his forehead.

Cheng Qian pulled the hand away and opened his eyes, only to see himself lying on his senior brother’s lap.

There were several fresh, fragmented wounds on Yan Zhengming’s palm, and upon closer inspection, there were calluses left by long-term sword-holding. It was as if they were covered with the marks of time and weathering, but now only a seemingly smooth back of the hand remained, pretending to be at ease.

Although Yan Zhengming allowed him to hold his hand, his expression was not pleasant. With a raised eyebrow, he made a impatient face and said, “Get up quickly if you’re awake. You’ve been pressing my leg.”

Cheng Qian felt weak all over and clung to Yan Zhengming’s thigh, looking at him intently.

Yan Zhengming felt uncomfortable under his direct gaze and said, “You almost froze into a zombie, didn’t you? Be careful not to… "

Suddenly, Cheng Qian’s brain seemed to short-circuit. Without any warning, he brought Yan Zhengming’s hand to his lips and lightly kissed the back of it.

Yan Zhengming immediately stopped scolding. He suppressed a gasp and involuntarily trembled slightly. He struggled to maintain his calm facade, his tongue momentarily tied, feeling somewhat “crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.”

After stammering for a while, he whispered, “I see that your injuries aren’t serious, yet you still have the mind to tease the Sect Master.”

Yan, the Sect Master, spoke expressionlessly, with an aura of solemnity as if he were about to go and save lost souls. His voice, however, was gentle as water, displaying a sense of inner conflict.

Implied in his words was the fact that he wished he could be teased again.

Unfortunately, Cheng Qian did not possess that charm. With one hand embracing sincere emotions and the other brandishing discussions of war and love on paper, he became an immovable wooden stake.

The wooden stake did not respond, but it flipped over and embraced Yan Zhengming’s waist, burying itself beneath his chest.

The Stone Seed was tranquil and silent. Cheng Qian’s mind was filled with chaotic scenes outside: the “Ten-Fold Vow,” the “Listening to Heaven and Earth,” the righteous path and the demonic path… Countless troubles whirled through his mind like a whirlwind, but Cheng Qian swept them away with a flick of his sleeve. He thought, “What does it matter? I’ll just sleep for a while.”

Mixed with Yan Zhengming’s familiar scent was a slight hint of medicinal fragrance. Nestled in his embrace, Cheng Qian’s heart was peaceful and clear, and he couldn’t help but think of the absurd dream in the Floating Cloud Villa.

Growing up, the only couples he had seen were the farmers in the village, living together. Those mortals were always caught up in trivial matters, noisy and quarrelsome, and there was no special sense of affection. In these years, Cheng Qian had either been cultivating or in seclusion, or wandering through the world, experiencing upheavals. He hadn’t even had the chance to learn how to be naive, but was suddenly plunged into the complicated realm of human love.

Cheng Qian had to rely on himself, blindly groping like a headless fly.

Caught off guard by Cheng Qian’s actions, Yan Zhengming’s arms hung helplessly at his sides. He couldn’t find a place to exert any force and stiffened for a moment. He realized that Cheng Qian had no intention of letting go, so he asked helplessly and with a smile, “What are you doing?”

Cheng Qian slightly turned his head, half-opened his eyes in a drowsy manner, and with a hint of blurry and tired smile in his gaze, he said lightly, “Senior Brother…”

Yan Zhengming: “…”

Half of his soul was drawn away by Cheng Qian’s glance, and he involuntarily held his breath, but after waiting for a while, he didn’t hear Cheng Qian say anything else. When he looked again, Cheng Qian had actually fallen silent.

Asleep?

Only then did Yan Zhengming realize that he had caused a commotion. Carefully, he removed his restless hands, placing one on Cheng Qian’s waist and gathering the scattered hair on his knee. He muttered to himself, “Just say it once, you’re becoming more and more audacious.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Cheng Qian, who should have fallen asleep, suddenly spoke. He spoke very softly, but there was no room for doubt in his words. He said, “I don’t know how to treat you properly, but no matter what, I will never let you down.”

Yan Zhengming: “…”

Stunned, he stood still like a wooden chicken for a long while. In a dreamlike state, he asked, “What did you say?”

Once was enough for important words. Cheng Qian refused to speak again, holding him tighter with both hands, slightly tilting his head. This time, he really wanted to sleep.

However, Yan Zhengming persisted and climbed over Cheng Qian’s shoulder, relentlessly saying, “Copper Coin, what did you just say? Say it to me again!”

Cheng Qian had been forcibly awakened by him several times, annoyed to the point of exasperation. He thought, “He’s so noisy, won’t he let me rest?”

2 / 2

But when those words reached his lips, Cheng Qian found himself unable to speak them, surprised to discover that there would come a day when he couldn’t bear to scold him.

Cheng Qian then raised a finger to his lips, still closing his eyes, a faint smile appearing at the corner of his mouth, revealing a smile that seemed ambiguous.

Yan Zhengming’s eyes suddenly became a little hot, a breath stuck in his chest, and after a while, a slight pain emerged.

He always wondered if Cheng Qian’s actions in the Heart Demon Valley were just a temporary measure to prevent him from being trapped by his inner demons. He wasn’t necessarily sincere or truly understood.

Even if he was sincere, would he not regret it if it affected his cultivation in the future?

Upon hearing this sentence, Yan Zhengming suddenly felt that even if Cheng Qian was truly annoyed or tired of him one day, with this sentence, it would be enough to support him through the long life of a cultivator.

Moreover, Cheng Qian was always true to his word, and no one in the world understood him better.

The Ten-Fold Formation at the foot of Mount Taiyin finally turned into a farce.

Tang Zhen’s Eight Trigrams Plate, made of an unknown divine material, didn’t even shatter when the Ten-Fold Formation was broken. He calmly descended from the sky and landed amidst the mountains of corpses and seas of blood.

The Blood Oath remained, so according to the agreement, the current situation meant that the demonic cultivators had lost.

Unfortunately, for a moment, no one had the time to discuss victory or defeat.

The Third Prince died, and the Formation of Bone Transmutation was broken. The cultivators who had just caught their breath immediately rushed forward and captured Xuanhuang, who had been in a stalemate with Tang Zhen for quite some time.

After it was all over, the vengeful crowd looked at each other, not knowing where to begin.

The Heavenly Transcendence Sect had forced the major sects to participate in this battle against the demonic cultivators using an ancient demon-sealing seal. Although the battle had started off with a bang, many experts were trapped in the Ten-Fold Formation and the Heavenly Transcendence Sect had plotted against them, setting up the Formation of Bone Transmutation. The Third Prince, who had been lurking as a spy in the various sects, had betrayed them. More people were killed by his hand than died in the Ten-Fold Formation. It was a blood debt that couldn’t be repaid.

But in the end… it was still the people from the Heavenly Transcendence Sect who broke the formation and released everyone.

A love triangle was already enough to make one’s head spin, let alone this triangular hatred.

The area beneath Mount Taiyin was in ruins. The dead were collected, the wounded were treated. The Nine Saints were dead, and most of the demonic cultivators were heavily injured. They were like a leaderless group of dragons, afraid of suffering any losses, and began to leave one after another.

According to the agreement, Han Yuan was supposed to go to the capital with the Heavenly Transcendence Sect. However, the Heavenly Transcendence Sect was left with only a few people—Wu Changtian had died, Xuanhuang had been detained by the major sects for questioning, and You Liang had taken away Wu Changtian’s attire and disappeared without a trace. Only a group of small fries remained, and even with the Blood Oath hanging over them, no one dared to provoke him.

So, the number one demon in the world, Han Yuan, squatted lazily at the entrance of Shijiezi, not going in and not leaving either.

Li Yun came out of Shijiezi and looked at him with a complicated expression for a while. He raised his hand, suspended it in the air for a moment, and then let it fall—he was a little dazed, but the person in front of him was no longer the child who used to follow him around and dig bird nests.

Han Yuan glanced back at him and remained silent.

Li Yun asked, “What are you planning to do?”

After thinking calmly for a moment, Han Yuan asked sarcastically, “Does it matter what I say?”

Li Yun was momentarily speechless, and Han Yuan asked again, “Is Cheng Qian still alive?”

Li Yun replied, “He’s just exhausted. He’ll recover after a while.”

Han Yuan sneered mockingly, “Is that so? It seems like your Senior Brother Yan was so anxious earlier, as if his wife was about to give birth.”

Li Yun: “…”

Han Yuan looked up and saw Shijiezi transformed into a small courtyard. He saw Shui Kong sitting far away on the wall, watching him but not coming over.

Perhaps there was nothing to say, or perhaps she was afraid of him.

After all, he had said he would pull her bones out.

Han Yuan seemed to be mocking himself, or perhaps it was a bitter and cynical laugh. He felt that he might be a bit of a nuisance here, so he turned and walked towards the remnants of the Ten-Fold Formation.

Li Yun hesitated for a moment and suddenly called out to him.

It seemed as if Li Yun had gathered great courage, just like when he had admitted to intentionally luring Han Yuan into the back mountain near the cave and lake. He seemed to have something important to say, “Do you know why Fuyao Mountain has remained closed until now? It’s because our master sealed it with the Three Locks of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity.”

Han Yuan raised his eyebrows slightly, looked at him coldly, as if saying, “This is an internal matter of your sect. What does it have to do with me?”

Li Yun looked at him intently and said, “To open the Human Lock, we need the true essence of five people—including you.”

After hearing this, Han Yuan was initially surprised, then his face twitched slightly, as if he had been slapped by someone close to him, feeling a deep sense of aggrieved helplessness welling up in his heart, with nowhere to vent it.

Li Yun lowered his voice and asked, “Xiao Yuan, was the Three Lives Secret Realm that fell out of the Third Prince’s sleeve real? What did you see inside?”

Han Yuan sneered, “Are you happy to see all of you dead?”

Li Yun heard these cold and distant words, but remained silent, a hint of sadness on his face.

At this moment, the voice of the water puddle on the wall of Shijiezi suddenly spoke up, “The Three Lives Secret Realm belongs to the will of heaven. Our Fuyao Sect has always followed the path of humanity. As for those unrelated matters, who would believe… who… um, that thing…”

The last word was clearly quite vulgar, and the water puddle didn’t dare to say it, stumbling over the words.

Whether it was the previous words or the disrespectful remarks later, they didn’t sound like her usual tone. Han Yuan listened and slightly raised the corners of his mouth, “Tell Master Yan for me to mind his own business.”

After speaking, he took a few steps, then suddenly stopped, and in an instant, his body changed owners once again.

This Han Yuan even turned his head and smiled at Li Yun, then took out a palm-sized scale from his pocket and said, “Second Senior Brother, pass this to the eldest Senior Brother.”

Li Yun reached out and received the dragon scale that flew towards him. The scale was dyed black as ink, and under the sunlight, it emitted a faint glow. When he placed his hand on it, he could feel the faint flow of true essence inside.

After Han Yuan finished speaking, he strode up to the high platform of the remnants of the Ten-Fold Formation, sat cross-legged as if nobody else was there, as if he was provocatively challenging the entire world—Here I am, what can you do to me?

Li Yun held the black dragon scale in his hands and looked at it for a while. Then he waved at the water puddle, “Take it to Senior Brother.”

The water puddle wondered, “Why aren’t you going?”

Li Yun unreasonably stuffed the black dragon scale into her hands and said with a stern face, “Hurry up and go. Can’t Senior Brother give you orders anymore?”

The water puddle, perplexed, picked up the black dragon scale and slipped into Shijiezi, heading straight in.

Little did she know that as soon as she entered, she saw something she shouldn’t have seen—Cheng Qian was lying on the eldest Senior Brother’s legs, either covered in blood or dirt, with burnt marks. And that eldest Senior Brother, who would scream for half a day if he didn’t wash his hands once, actually bent down without any hesitation and kissed him on the forehead.

The water puddle’s leg got stuck on the threshold, unable to move forward or backward. Holding the black dragon scale in a solemn posture, she froze.

She thought to herself, “I’m going blind… No, I’m going to be silenced!”

Yan Zhengming seemed to have found the greatest reliance in the world. He raised his head calmly, glanced at the water puddle, and asked in a lowered voice, “What’s the matter?”

The water puddle trembled violently when she met his gaze, blurted out, “I… I won’t let Li Yun off even if I become a ghost!”

Yan Zhengming: “…”

Only then did the water puddle come back to her senses. She quickly put down the black dragon scale and said, “Oh, no, Fourth Senior Brother asked me to bring this to you.”

Yan Zhengming nodded, “Did you convey the message I asked you to tell him?”

“…Yes,” the water puddle said, “Fourth Senior Brother asked me to tell you to mind your own business.”

Yan Zhengming snorted, as if swearing, but when he looked up and saw the water puddle still staring at the two of them, he cleared his throat and asked, “What are you looking at? Do you have something else?”

That shout seemed to startle the water puddle’s fragile heart. She shivered, didn’t say a word, and fled, crawling and rolling… She even tripped over the doorstep before leaving.

Han Yuan sat on the remains of the Ten-Fold Formation for three days, and the crowd still couldn’t come up with a plan. The Demon Dragon was like a hot potato—when no one had caught it, everyone hated that they couldn’t immediately execute it, but once it was caught, nobody knew how to deal with it.

Han Yuan had caused a great turmoil along his journey from Southern Region to the north, leaving rivers of blood in his wake. His crimes were heinous, deserving death.

If he had died inside the Ten-Fold Formation, it would have been the best outcome, but unfortunately, he not only refused to die but emerged unscathed with his cultivation intact.

This was troublesome.

Currently, Fuyao Sect was avoiding any involvement, unwilling to speak up. Tianyan Faction had pushed the situation to this point and had no face to speak up. The remaining two of the Four Saints refused to show themselves, only sending their disciples, whose words carried less weight. Moreover, they had been severely damaged by the traitor in Tianyan Faction and were preoccupied.

Tang Zhen had been healing his injuries, and the other sects either lacked sufficient influence or were unwilling to offend Fuyao Sect for this matter. No one dared to step forward and say, “This person should be killed.”

The situation remained at a stalemate.

When the few members of Fuyao Sect came out of Shijiezi, they saw Han Yuan, who should have been a prisoner, sitting on the Ten-Fold Formation platform with a look of disdain, as if challenging the world.

Yan Zhengming put away Shijiezi with a wave of his hand, and the various sects immediately turned their gaze towards him. Finally, Sixth Brother walked over respectfully and asked, “Senior Tang sent me to ask, where is Master Yan going?”

Yan Zhengming said, “After traveling outside for many years, it’s time for me to return to the sect. I plan to open Fuyao Mountain. If Brother Tang doesn’t mind, you can come and stay for a while.”

The people who had eavesdropped immediately began whispering to each other. A few years ago, the words “Fuyao” were unknown to most, but after the events at Suoxian Platform and Mount Taiyin, it seemed that everyone now knew about it.

Even the Southern Region demons spread rumors about the treasures in Fuyao Mountain, arousing curiosity among everyone.

Unfortunately, no one had the courage to explore it.

At this moment, Sixth Brother asked the second question that everyone was concerned about.

Sixth Brother said, “Congratulations, Master Yan. Tang Zhen also asked me to inquire about Fuyao’s position regarding the Demon Dragon matter.”

Yan Zhengming glanced at Tang Zhen nearby but refused to speak first. He said, “This matter should have been decided by Tianyan Faction. However, since they are no longer present, I suggest that Brother Tang, as the notary, speak first.”

Tang Zhen respectfully bowed from a distance and said, “I dare not… Since many of you have been injured in the Bone-Transforming Formation, I suggest postponing this matter and allowing everyone to recuperate. Let’s report to the major sects and gather here on the fifteenth day of next month to discuss further, is that agreeable?”

After speaking, he turned to Han Yuan and said lightly, “I believe that with the character of Han Zhenren, he would never stoop to the point of breaking the blood oath and fleeing.”

Han Yuan coldly snorted, not even lifting his eyelids.

With the contrast of the eccentric Three Lords proclaiming themselves as the righteous path, if Han Yuan truly kept his promise and remained locked in the remnants of the Ten-Fold Formation for a month, it would be quite remarkable.

Moreover, Mount Taiyin was at the foot of Fuyao Mountain. Considering Fuyao’s face, the major sects might really give him some leeway. Yan Zhengming saw through Tang Zhen’s seemingly fair intentions and his actual desire to let Han Yuan off the hook, so he let go of his worries.

Yan Zhengming glanced at Han Yuan and thought, “He won’t die. It serves him right to endure the wind, frost, and rain for a month.”

So he decisively said, “Let’s go.”

Under Fuyao Mountain, the cultivators gradually dispersed. Tang Zhen was invited to accompany the Fuyao Mountain group to the site of the former Fuyao Mountain.

The three locks of heaven, earth, and humanity were all unlocked. Yan Zhengming stood at the foot of the mountain, calmly took a deep breath, and Cheng Qian gently supported him from a place where no one could see.

The Sect Master’s Seal transformed with stardust, and the accumulated consciousness of generations resonated with the mountain.

The place that was once hidden and feared due to the covetous eyes of others was now openly revealed to the world. No one dared to come uninvited, no one dared to insult or underestimate it.

For a hundred years, Yan Zhengming had been at a loss countless times in front of the three seemingly unopenable mountain-closing orders, experiencing despair and resenting his master numerous times. Only now did he understand the deeper meaning behind it.

If he hadn’t pondered deeply, how could he have inherited such a weighty ancestral legacy?

With a thunderous roar, Fuyao Mountain opened.

The mountain still stood, unchanged in a hundred years. Cranes perched on the branches, and birds flitted among the mountains.

The shadow of the Fuyao Mountain plaque danced halfway up the mountain, and at the foot of the mountain, one could still vaguely see the inconspicuous thatched cottage that Master had never abandoned.

In these hundred years, time seemed to have stood still. Everything appeared unchanged. The Dao attendants they had left behind stood on both sides of the mountain gate, stretching lazily as if they had just awakened from a short nap, staring in disbelief at the few people who had left home as youths, almost unable to recognize them.

The mountain-closing order scattered with the wind, and the frozen time finally thawed like flowing water, moving once again.

In the distance, Han Yuan sat alone in the remnants of the Ten-Fold Formation, quietly lifting his head, tears streaming down his face.