Qi Wu was a small city on the east side of Yongsheng, adjacent to the Zongwu Mountain. Yongsheng was prosperous, and Qi Wu also benefited from it. Small merchant caravans often rested in Qi Wu to save on accommodation costs.
After the Ghost Tomb was broken into, whether it was true or false, goods carrying the name of the Ghost Tomb were everywhere. Merchants were afraid of missing out on the trend and worked even more diligently than usual. People from all walks of life also increased.
For example, today, four strange people came to the city gate.
The four people were dressed plainly, with their faces covered by veils, looking suspicious no matter how you looked at them.
The city guards were diligent in their duties: "Show us your travel permit."
One of them took off his veil, smiling: "Sir, we are four wanderers who have long lost our travel permit from the government."
He held a droopy goose in his arms, looking quite odd, but not like a vicious criminal.
The guard's attitude softened a bit upon seeing his remarkable appearance.
"Take off your hat, tell me your sect's name, and show me some proof of your sect," the guard demanded.
Another gentle voice spoke up, "Shizun, was it always this strict before?"
The voice was as soothing as a cup of tea, making people let down their guard. The guard shook his head, trying to hold his ground. "It's you Jianghu people causing chaos lately. We were told to check faces as proof, and we can't let anything slide."
The person addressed as "Shizun" spoke up, his voice carrying a natural charm that his disciple lacked. He took off his hat and spoke slowly, "He's just doing his duty, don't make a fuss. Sir Guard, we're just..."
"From the Hehuan Sect," the young man holding a goose took the lead in speaking.
The "Shizun" trembled and almost dropped his veil. Without the veil, he revealed a pair of amber phoenix eyes, with a complex expression. "Su Si!"
"Come on, senior, we're next to Yongsheng here. The guards have seen all kinds of people. Although the sect leader likes shy people like you, too much of anything is not good." Su Si grinned.
The "Shizun" looked dazed, his thousand words of explanations became a fit of coughing.
The guards were indeed knowledgeable, but when they saw the master and disciple who revealed their faces, they were still shocked on the spot. The disciple was more relaxed than the master and spoke with a smile, "Sir Guard, can we pass?"
"Oh, okay...wait, where's your sect proof? Even if you're from the Hehuan Sect, we still need to see the seal..." The guard's voice trailed off.
Judging from their faces, if they weren't from the Hehuan Sect, they must be from one of the immortal sects of legend. However, only the Hehuan Sect dared to compare themselves to the immortal sects. No one had ever heard of an immortal sect calling themselves the Hehuan Sect.
The disciple spoke politely, "We lost our seal during the chaos earlier. But we do have our proof, please take a look, sir."
Then he turned to the person beside him and said, "Shizun, come here."
The veil on the white cloth covering the master's face fluttered slightly as the hood was lifted. The disciple then grabbed his master and, with half of the veil still covering him face, kissed him on his own accord.
Yin Ci did not actually kiss Shi Jingzhi.
He covered himself with a veil and adjusted his angle. Their breaths intertwined, their lips almost touching, leaving only a hint of ambiguity between them. Shi Jingzhi was a smart person and didn't reveal any flaws, closing his eyes and cooperating with the situation.
For a moment, there was silence all around.
Even if it was the notorious Hehuan Sect, such a public display of affection between master and disciple was still unheard of. Their appearances were not like ordinary people, and their destructive power was particularly strong, "proving" enough to make one's heart skip a beat. The guards didn't ask any more questions and silently let them pass.
After entering the city, Shi Jingzhi put on his veil and spoke heavily, "Su Si..."
"Just based on your faces, no matter which small sect you borrow the name of, it will attract attention," Su Si said confidently, "It's better to call ourselves Hehuan Sect and let them focus on the wrong things. Sect Leader, our lives more important than our dignity!"
Shi Jingzhi said, "No, I just want to praise you for being quite clever."
Su Si: "..." He had underestimated the thick skin of the members of the Ku Mountain Sect.
Yan Qing was pretending to be blind just now, and was was unaware of what had just happened. Seeing this, he was about to ask a question but was stopped by Su Si's solemn shake of the head.
These past few days had been anything but peaceful for them.
Thanks to Yin Ci hiding his true strength and Su Si's decent martial arts skills, Zheng Fengdao had misjudged their speed of escape and was left behind on the Zongwu Mountain. However, after this battle, the Ku Mountain Sect was almost out of resources and was unaware of the latest news of the outside world, so they had to enter a city to blend in.
There were definitely spies from the Ling Sect here, so it was best to be cautious. By putting on an act as Hehuan Sect members, their actions became much freer.
For example, the innkeeper quietly arranged the most remote room for them, just in case any guest was disturbed at night.
When Shi Jingzhi booked two rooms, he immediately went into his own room. He took out a series of tools with a serious expression, intending to test the spiritual elixir that had lost its effectiveness.
Yin Ci felt that after the incident in Yuanxian Village, this fox had become inexplicably calm and not as easy to tease.
Compared to when they first met, when he could tease him into becoming a Tomato Shi with just that scene at the city gate.
He had become a lot less interesting now. He was like a stone statue, standing stiffly in front of the table, as if he had been possessed by an old scholar.
After a few hours passed, Yin Ci became a little mischievous. While Shi Jingzhi was focused, he used light skills to approach him and blew a cool breath into his master's neck.
Shi Jingzhi immediately shuddered, and goosebumps rose from head to toe.
Not bad, it's still the Shizun he was familiar with. Before Shi Jingzhi could react, Yin Ci approached him and asked, "Shizun, what's going on with this medicine?"
His words sounded obedient to the extreme, full of righteousness, as if he hadn't done anything wrong just now.
Shi Jingzhi felt a sense of sadness in his heart.
He had raised this disciple for a good many days, but never had much any respect from him. Instead, his thick skin had grown thicker day by day, wasting his beautiful skin like jade. But when he thought of the blood that dripped on his face in the formation full of wind, Shi Jingzhi couldn't bear to be angry.
Since the Ghost Tomb, Yin Ci had liked to approach him as though unintentionally. When this person tore off his weak facade and approached him actively, Shi Jingzhi sensed a hint of mutual support.
People live in this world with a purpose. Perhaps Yin Ci has not yet realized his own desires.
Whenever he thought of this, Shi Jingzhi would feel a strange sense of closeness, and his attitude would become more tolerant.
"This elixir should be made from some kind of plant juice, with a scent similar to immortal wine. However, while elixirs heal injuries and immortal wine prolongs life, they are closely related but also quite different."
Shi Jingzhi dipped his finger into the murky yellow liquid and carefully licked it with his tongue.
"Now it seems that the elixir can only be used within the Yuanxian Village and will spoil once it leaves. Moreover, it can only treat acquired injuries... Ah Ci, your meridians are congenitally deficient, right?"
"Mm." Yin Ci lied without changing his expression.
His meridians were not congenitally deficient. He had also used his internal energy to kill countless people with ease. It was just that his body had inexplicably deteriorated for hundreds of years, and hundreds of years of time were different from that of ordinary people.
Saying it was "congenital" was not entirely wrong.
"No wonder the elixir had no effect on your meridians. If it were me, I'd have to stay in the village and drink every day just to keep my ailments at bay," sighed Shi Jingzhi. "Judging by the attitude of that goddess, this thing is not as precious as immortal wine."
In other words, this thing wasn't very useful, and they still had to rack their brains to find the Shi Rou.
After tasting the spiritual elixir, Yin Ci's interest had also waned. The elixir was mild in taste and had a short-lived effect, and it couldn't produce any potent poison. However, the spiritual elixir and the immortal wine were vaguely related, and their combined effects were like the Shi Rou.
It was possible that they were from the same origin. Yan Budu had already handed over the "Yuanxian Village" clue to them, and it would be a waste not to take advantage of it.
"Shizun, I remember there is a shrine of the Divine Emperor Wu in Yongsheng City. After this is over, why don't we pay a visit?"
"Okay, let's resolve the clue left by Yan Budu first." Shi Jingzhi put down the spiritual medicine and rubbed his stiff waist.
After tinkering with bottles and jars for several hours, Shi Jingzhi's whole body was as stiff as a bench. Seeing him looking dazed, the remaining bit of seniority in Yin Ci's heart was rekindled: "Take it easy, I'll go make two bowls of pear porridge."
Unexpectedly, the Fox Shi acted out of character and wasn't greedy for food. He grabbed Yin Ci's sleeve and spoke firmly: "Don't go yet."
"Teach me qinggong."
Yin Ci raised his eyebrows: "Shizun, it's already the middle of the night. Zheng Fengdao is not the King of Hell, he won't just appear out of nowhere to claim lives."
The fox's grip was still firm, and Shi Jingzhi's tone became heavy: "Teach me."
Yin Ci couldn't resist him, but also didn't want to move: "It's not skill that you lack, it's practice. Even if I teach you now, you still need to practice for some time before you can fully understand it."
"I know, but people only have so much time. Sooner is better than later," replied Shi Jingzhi.
Yin Ci was taken aback, but he didn't refuse. He taught Shi Jingzhi the most basic footwork. In any case, he wanted to give this fox a taste of the technique and let him ponder the theory on his own. As for formal practice, it wouldn't be too late to start tomorrow.
Footwork is the foundation of qinggong and is not complicated. However, for newcomers like Shi Jingzhi who lack practical experience, it is still a significant hurdle - no matter how talented one is, there are always some things where a shortcut cannot be taken.
Shi Jingzhi clearly understood this himself. He didn't intend to skip any steps and watched Yin Ci's movements without blinking, afraid of missing any details. Finally, he let out a sigh and said with a hint of emotion, "Thank you, I'll practice a bit more before sleeping... Ah Ci, I still want to drink pear porridge."
Yin Ci: "..."
Having gotten what he wanted and now acting cute, Shi Jingzhi was truly skilled.
That night, Yin Ci cooked sweet porridge over a low flame, pondering for a long time - was it because he was too lenient towards his cheap master, or was Shi Jingzhi too shrewd and knew exactly how much he could get away with?
Shi Jingzhi always seemed to leave him with ambiguous questions. The porridge was done, but Yin Ci still couldn't find an answer.
Forget it, it was just a small effort to cook it anyway.
The next day, around the hour of the tiger, Yin Ci turned over but couldn't feel the warmth of his master. He instantly woke up and sat up.
Shi Jingzhi was still in the room, and his cheap master had already gotten up and was neatly dressed, obviously having gotten up a long time ago. Shi Jingzhi wore a long robe that billowed behind him, but his feet were bare and stained with a few drops of blood.
He repeated the movements that Yin Ci had shown him over and over again, gradually shedding his awkwardness. Despite the cold floor and the slippery blood, he made no sound as he moved.
The night before, Yin Ci had watched Shi Jingzhi practice and had seen how rough and heavy his movements were. They were only a pale imitation of the real thing. But this morning, Yin Ci saw that Shi Jingzhi had already mastered seven-tenths of the technique and was still pushing himself to improve.
Yin Ci looked closer and saw that Shi Jingzhi had even made some subtle changes to the steps, which made them even more suited to his own abilities.
His focus was so intense that Shi Jingzhi didn't notice Yin Ci getting up. He had no expression on his face, like a machine, constantly moving back and forth in the pool of blood, sending shivers down anyone's spine.
Perhaps there was no one in this world more suited for the term "demonic talent" than Shi Jingzhi.
Yin Ci didn't disturb his master. He slowly lay back down, turned over, and closed his eyes again.
...When it got brigher, he would teach him more carefully.
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. It was rare that Demon Lord Yin had the heart to guide him, yet trouble soon appeared.
At this critical moment, Jianchen Temple was sealed.
The author has something to say:
If only I had half the resilience of Fox Shi _(:з」∠)_'
Demon Lord Yin: "I always feel like I've been tricked, but then again, maybe not. It's a real mystery."
Fox Shi: (eating porridge)
The masters of Jianchen Temple: "Amitabha, please do not come any closer, dear visitors. (…)
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