After getting Su Si's agreement, the group brought Aunt Liu back to their residence.
Yin Ci cooked a bowl of rice soup and had Yan Qing feed it to Aunt Liu bit by bit. Aunt Liu coughed a few times, and her eyes regained a bit of light, with tears welling up in her eyes.
Although she didn't have many wrinkles on her face, she was like a flower that had been out of water for a few days, emitting a strange withered feeling.
"It's not working, the bleeding won't stop. Yan Qing, get some hot water and prepare the needle and thread," Shi Jingzhi gritted his teeth.
Although the wound had been bandaged, the small wound was still slowly oozing blood, dyeing the entire piece of cloth a dark red.
Shi Jingzhi heated the needle, sewed up the wound with thread, and carefully wiped the suture with strong alcohol - now the bleeding had stopped, but another liquid slowly seeped out.
The liquid looked like diluted blood, with a faint green light shimmering on the surface. It was semi-transparent and contained many fine, thread-like impurities. These threads seemed to have a life of their own, slowly crawling and reopening the stitched wound, causing the blood to flow once again.
It was as if something wanted to break free from her veins.
Yin Ci had seen people with congenital bleeding disorders before, but Aunt Liu's symptoms were completely different and had an eerie quality to them.
Shi Jingzhi was still trying to clean up those threads, but they kept coming, and he couldn't seem to get rid of them.
His hands began to tremble.
As the blood started to flow again, Aunt Liu was not surprised, but rather showed a hint of sadness on her face.
"Enough, this is the 'Three-Day Injury', it's useless," she said. "Thank you all the same, it might be better this way...there's no one left in my family anyway."
Yan Qing walked to the bedside and comforted her, "When you asked the goddess for the spiritual elixir earlier, it seemed like the 'Three-Day Injury' wasn't necessarily fatal."
"Ah, the goddess does have an elixir. It can bring the dead back to life, but it's only for children and women in childbirth. Ordinary people can't use it."
Aunt Liu smiled bitterly, her lips turning pale.
"It was my impulsiveness. Old Liu and I are both sixty years old. It's normal for the goddess not to want to give it to us...I just wanted to save Old Liu."
Yan Qing was surprised, "Sixty?"
Aunt Liu looked no more than forty and could be described as still charming. She wasn't surprised by Yan Qing's reaction, "I've heard that people outside age quickly. It seems to be true."
With a sullen expression, she pushed away the bowl of soup. "I appreciate your kindness, but please take me back home. If I stay here, bad luck will follow me and even your house will be affected."
Su Si raised an eyebrow. "You should stay here. I'm not afraid of any bad luck. What kind of person would I be if I let an old lady go back home alone to wait for death?"
Aunt Liu smiled wearily and held onto Yan Qing's hand. Yan Qing was a bit nervous but didn't pull away. "Do people really die after three days of injury if they stay in this village?"
"Don't worry for now. After the entrance ceremony, you'll understand. Old Liu came to this village decades ago and he told me..."
Yan Qing interrupted, "We won't be having any ceremony."
"Then you can never leave the village. Actually, the ceremony is quite good... as long as you don't get seriously injured, you'll live a life without illness or disaster, and age slowly." Aunt Liu let out a slow breath. "Child, don't mind me, let me hold your hand again... when Old Liu was young, his hands were also this big and warm..."
She held onto Yan Qing's hand like this, slowly closing her eyes, tears streaming down the corners of her eyes.
Shi Jingzhi collected his tools expressionlessly and suddenly stood up, walking towards the door. This fox may have discovered something, and although Yin Ci hesitated for a moment, he still followed him.
Outside the door, the night was deep and the stars filled the sky.
Shi Jingzhi looked up at the sky in silence. Yin Ci took a few steps forward and patted his master's back, "Shizun, what's wrong?"
"People die in the Ghost Tomb, but it's a quick death, and can be considered a mercy," whispered Shi Jingzhi. "But Aunt Liu doesn't have to die. It's just a minor injury... But I can't find a solution, and don't even know the cause."
It seemed that because their pulse was similar, the despair was that much fresher.
Yin Ci had just discovered a new way of dying, and he was in a good mood and took the opportunity to comfort: "At least Shizun has found a new clue. And the spiritual elixir does exist. If it can cure Aunt Liu, then it can definitely cure Shizun."
Shi Jingzhi turned his head and looked at Yin Ci for a while. Suddenly, he stretched out his arms and hugged his disciple tightly.
"Ah Ci, let me hold you for a while." Shi Jingzhi lowered his head and held Yin Ci tightly.
Shi Jingzhi's body temperature was slightly high, and the heat transmitted through the thin fabric gave people a sense of invasion. But Yin Ci has always liked warm things, so he closed his eyes and let Shi Jingzhi embrace him.
It's okay for the younger generation to act spoiled.
The other party's breathing was a bit rapid, perhaps because they saw an incomprehensible dead end and despair surged up again. Yin Ci didn't move, his hands hanging at his sides. He didn't hug Shi Jingzhi back, but he didn't break free either.
Shi Jingzhi hugged him for a while, finally exhaling a breath, "I feel better, thank you."
He didn't say much more, turned and walked a few steps towards the door, then stopped and waited for Yin Ci to catch up. Yin Ci looked at his master's back and suddenly felt sorry for him.
Seeing others embrace, Shi Jingzhi seemed to be attracted by that emotion and had to personally experience it.
He was often jumpy and nervous, but it wasn't necessarily because he was naturally timid. When he went mad in the Ghost Tomb, his emotions were like a stormy sea, overwhelming and tumultuous.
It seemed that his master wasn't very good at handling his own emotions, like a small abandoned animal that no one had ever taught how to behave.
But despite this, his master was incredibly knowledgeable and had formidable internal strength.
The longer they spent together, the more Yin Ci couldn't quite figure out his master's true intentions. However, when he thought of the mute boy, he felt a bit more forgiving towards Shi Jingzhi.
Even though this fox was cunning in a thousand ways, what was the point of being calculative with a dying man?
The night passed without incident.
Su Si slept sprawled out on the bed, while Shi Jingzhi and Yin Ci squeezed together under a blanket. Aunt Liu held Yan Qing's hand the whole time, and Yan Qing couldn't bring himself to push her away, so he sat by the bed all night.
As the sun rose and the rooster crowed, everyone felt refreshed and energized. However, Yan Qing looked pale and exhausted, nodding off like a pecking chicken by the bedside, on the verge of falling off his chair.
Aunt Liu lay quietly in bed, her face pale and her chest rising and falling slowly, as if in a deep sleep.
"She...she's fine," Yan Qing mumbled incoherently to the empty air. "Her hands are still warm, she's fine."
Su Si angrily pried his fingers off Aunt Liu's wrist. "Are you stupid? You're tired and you don't even think to call for help? Go to sleep!"
Yan Qing stumbled to his feet and flopped onto Su Si's bed, falling asleep on his stomach. Shi Jingzhi finished washing up and went to check Aunt Liu's pulse.
Yin Ci didn't bother with them and started cooking fish and rice porridge on his own.
As soon as the window opened, the air carried the scent of flowers and grass, and the sunlight slowly poured in. The morning in Yuanxian Village was particularly pleasant, and the eerie aspects were blurred, appearing peaceful and tranquil.
Breakfast was ready, and Shi Jingzhi had prepared an extra bowl of porridge, which was left to cool by Aunt Liu's bedside.
The tranquility lasted until everyone finished breakfast. Suddenly, voices were heard outside the window, and Yin Ci was the first to peek out.
Five or six people had gathered at Su Si's door. One person carried a roll of green grass mat on his shoulder, while another held a white porcelain bottle with a jade-carved tree branch inside.
Lord Bai was not making a fuss; it was lying in its nest with its head tucked under its wings, still sound asleep. Su Si glanced at it, put down the bowl of porridge, and opened the door with ease.
The young man at the front said, "Excuse us, we're here to collect the body."
Su Si frowned, "What body? Aunt Liu is perfectly fine."
The man smiled and shook his head, "You all are from outside the village, perhaps you don't understand."
With that, he strode into the house and approached Aunt Liu, pulling open her eyelids. "Here, see for yourselves."
This time even Su Si retreated a step, not just Shi Jingzhi. Only Yin Ci secretly moved closer to get a better look.
Countless thin green threads drilled out of Aunt Liu's pupils. They looked just like the ones that had flowed out of her wound yesterday. They squeezed inside her eyeballs, tearing her pupils into pieces and blocking them tightly.
Her eyes were a complete mess and didn't look like those of a living person.
But she still had a pulse, heartbeat, and body temperature.
"People from Yuanxian Village ascend to immortality like this," the young man in charge said indifferently. "Since she can't wake up, let us take her away."
As he spoke, he reached out his hand.
"Wait!" Shi Jingzhi stopped him, "Let me try again."
He took a silver needle and pierced several acupoints on Aunt Liu's body. Even if Aunt Liu was unconscious, her body should have some reaction.
However, Aunt Liu still lay there motionless, like a wooden carving that could breathe.
"Is this enough? If you have any other methods, I won't stop you... but we've tried everything we could think of. Who hasn't had a family member ascend to immortality? Who doesn't want their loved ones to live a few more years?"
Shi Jingzhi didn't move, he stood in front of Aunt Liu, "But she is still alive."
His voice was soft, and it was unclear who he was trying to persuade.
"Aunt Liu is like half of our family, and this matter isn't for you to entertain yourselves with. If the body lies here for any longer, the goddess will definitely be angry. At that time you will all suffer the consequences." The man's tone became heavier.
Su Si immediately stepped back, while Yin Ci remained silent. Yan Qing was still lying on the bed, unconscious, with his hand weakly clenched.
After a moment, Shi Jingzhi finally moved his feet and turned his back.
The villagers, seeing that he was no longer resisting, spread out the mat and carefully rolled up Aunt Liu, carrying her on their shoulders.
"We have one more thing to do on this trip. First, wake up the one on the bed. Yes, all three of you, come over here a bit - by order of the goddess, you need to test your immortal fate."
The tense atmosphere just now was deliberately softened by the man.
When under someone else's roof, one must lower their head. In this special situation, no one wanted to provoke the goddess. Shi Jingzhi put on a smile and walked forward as requested.
Yan Qing was also dragged out of bed by Su Si, groggily stumbling over. Only Yin Ci remained calmly seated, continuing to drink his porridge, completely ignored.
The man brought over the small white porcelain bottle and took out the jade branch, dripping a few drops of liquid onto the backs of the three men's hands.
As soon as the water droplets touched Shi Jingzhi's hand, it instantly turned a bright emerald green. Su Si's hand also changed color, revealing a light green hue. But Yan Qing's was different - his water droplet turned into a murky grayish-yellow.
"It's really hard to find good guests. It's rare to have two come at once. Brother, it's a pity that you and that little brother over there have no immortal fate," the man sighed and shook his head regretfully at Yan Qing.
"To be honest, those without immortal fate usually don't stay in the village. If you want to stay, you'll have to marry one of the women in the village. But with your looks, young man, it shouldn't be difficult to stay." He once again ignored Yin Ci's presence with ease.
Facing Shi Jingzhi and Su Si, especially Shi Jingzhi, the man's smile brightened: "As for you two, you were born as our fellow villagers. Take your time to explore the village, and when the full moon arrives, the goddess will hold a ceremony to welcome you."
"Can't my disciple be tested?" Shi Jingzhi asked, trying to negotiate. "Skipping over him like this doesn't seem right."
"There's no need for a test. Anyone with immortal fate will have outstanding looks," the man replied.
Shi Jingzhi's smile froze on his face. "So, if Ah Ci wants to stay, he has to get married... What if he and Yan Qing can't find anyone to marry?"
The man pondered for a moment and spoke vaguely, "The goddess will handle it."
"I'll marry Brother Qing," a crisp female voice suddenly rang out.
Su Si hugged Yan Qing's arm, grinning and spitting out a female voice, "Anyway, I have to enter the village, does this count?"
Yin Ci: "......"
Shi Jingzhi: "???"
The hint of sadness on his face was completely gone, replaced by shock.
The villagers were also frightened: "You..."
"I was originally a girl and it was inconvenient to travel alone, so I dressed as a man. I was suddenly brought to the village and didn't dare to reveal my identity... Now that my lover is here and you haven't made things difficult for me, I don't have anything to worry about."
He was originally delicate and not particularly strong, and now he deliberately hunched over, making him appear even shorter. Strangely enough, his demeanor and voice were incredibly natural, without any awkwardness, like a tall and thin girl dressed as a boy.
The villagers said, "There...there's no problem. Miss, we've offended you before. Ahem, now it's just the brother behind you. Time is limited, so you need to figure something out quickly."
Yin Ci turned his head slowly and looked at Shi Jingzhi.
Shi Jingzhi immediately shook his head like a drum, his thoughts apparent.
He can't do it, he really can't. His frame was much bigger than Su Si's, and he didn't have any feminine features, he couldn't fool anyone.
Seeing Shi Jingzhi's panicked expression, Yin Ci couldn't help but find it amusing.
He had no intention of pursuing any village girls just to avoid punishment. On the contrary, he wished to be captured by the goddess soon and witness her abilities. However, this thought was too shocking and unconventional to be revealed to others.
Yan Qing was already sleep-deprived and was left dumbfounded by Su Si's sudden outburst. He remained rooted to the spot even after the villagers had left. "Ah Si, are you a girl?" he finally managed to ask.
"San-zi, are you stupid?" Su Si reverted back to his usual tone and even adopted an old woman's accent for his next sentence. "If I speak like this, would you mistake me for your grandmother? Don't be so gullible, even if others can be fooled, can you?"
"But your actions just now..."
Su Si stretched his muscles and his gaze turned cold: "At the bottom levels of the jianghu world, I had to have some way to beg for food, performing tricks and singing, I've done it all. But let's not talk about that. San-zi, this can only be a temporary measure. Escaping earlier is the real deal... Look at Aunt Liu's appearance, this place is getting more and more suspicious."
Yan Qing's face completely changed: "Aunt Liu's appearance? What appearance? I was just about to ask, where is Aunt Liu?"
Su Si looked uneasy, and Yin Ci stepped forward: "Let me explain."
Not far away, the porridge that Shi Jingzhi left for Aunt Liu was still on the bedside. It gradually cooled down and eventually became cold.
At the same time, in the center of the village.
The goddess sat in her room, her fair fingers holding a brush, and began to write on the "Word Cloth" in front of her. She did not write the recipient's name, only the three words "The Honored One".
[In Yuanxian Village of Zongwu Mountain, one person was born this month, and two new people with immortal fates have joined, while two elderly ones have passed away. The village's population has increased by one, but it has not yet exceeded its limit.]
The goddess wrote slowly and carefully, holding her breath and fearing to make a mistake. After writing a few words, she would stop and wipe the sweat from her forehead.
[At this rate, the statue of the goddess will be completed within the year.]
Happy readers make me float like a cloud in the sky. If you enjoy my translations and want to read them more quickly, I'll translate bonus chapters as a thank you for coffee!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@eyks.