After looking on helplessly as Changchu breathed his last, Zhu Yishu struggled and cried out in anguish before he collapsed to a side.
Song Ci closed Changchu’s eyes and gently laid him on the ground. Then, he rolled up his sleeves and began to dig a small pit in the ground with his ten fair fingers.
He wanted to dig a hole to bury him. At the very least, he could not leave his body exposed like this in the wilderness.
Feng Zhuojun let out a long sigh. “I didn’t tell you his name because I was afraid you’d be like this. But you know it later, don’t you? He is alive and well.”
“I know.” Song Ci said in a calm voice. “I’m not sad. When they struck out at him earlier, I was the one who didn’t have the courage to stand up for him…”
A tear dripped down his eye and splashed on the lumps of earth, leaving behind an obvious trail of water. Soon after, drops after drops of tears fell like beads tumbling off a broken thread. Some of them splattered onto the back of his hands.
He kept digging with his hands as if he could not feel the pain. His actions were deranged like someone on the verge of a breakdown. “I knew he was a good child. I knew this all happened because he saved a life. Even the heavily injured Zhu Yishu rushed over to stop them. And yet, I did nothing…”
Feng Zhuojun knew that Song Ci had sunk into an abyss of self-reproach. He said anxiously, “Song Ci, calm down! You did nothing wrong!”
“I’m too weak. I couldn’t do anything…” Song Ci started to sob. “Changchu… Oh, Wen Changchu….”
Why didn’t he step forward before those people hurt him? Even if he could not stop them, it was still better than to let him leave this world unwillingly. Even if he ended up wounded, it was still better than to stand aside and do nothing.
But his fear of death made him timid. All he could think of was Rong Bai’s situation, so much that he was not willing to take risks anywhere else.
He had let down his own demonic powers by seeing Changchu killed with his own eyes without doing anything. He had failed himself as a man!
“Song Ci!” Feng Zhuojun raised his voice. “Think about it clearly! He isn’t Wen Changchu but Changchu! He is someone evolved from the Devil King’s weapon. There is too much blood on his hands and malicious aura over his body. If you really save him, he will definitely think of ways to summon the Devil King once his divine consciousness is awakened. Do you want to see the Six Realms plunging into purgatory again where everyone is consigned to eternal damnation with no hope of redemption?!”
“It’s only when he’s killed this time that his soul will enter the body of Wolf Clan Devil King’s youngest son and become the Wen Changchu you know. Only then will his experience of the ways of the world truly cleanse and refine him into a complete person.” Feng Zhuojun bellowed out a long string of words in one breath. Eventually, he gasped for breath and lowered his voice, “I hid his name from you on intention because I knew that once you found out his name, you would have charged out earlier and tried every means to stop it from happening.”
“If these histories are changed, there will be unpredictable and serious consequences. I’m fine with not stopping you from changing the events around Rong Bai, but I can’t allow you to make a mess of these other matters.” Feng Zhuojun said in a grave and sincere tone. “Don’t blame yourself. This has nothing to do with you.”
Song Ci’s resentment of himself was no longer as intense after hearing this. But he still could not stop his tears from falling. He continued to dig a grave with his hands until his nails were all caked with mud.
It did not take him long to dig out a small pit as deep as his wrist. Although the soil of the land where the beast had trampled over earlier had loosened, it was still laborious to dig up with his bare hands. Song Ci’s emotions were out of whack. All he was thinking of was to dig a hole to give Changchu a smooth and peaceful burial.
Someone grabbed his moving hands and pulled them out from the earth pit. Song Ci turned his head and saw Rong Bai crouching beside him with his golden robe spread out among the soil, stained by the dirt.
Rong Bai’s expression was not exactly gentle. In fact, he even looked a little displeased. “Why are you crying? Because that child died?”
Song Ci sniffled, wondering what had incurred Rong Bai’s unexplainable displeasure. Choking on his sobs, he said, “He’s my friend.”
Rong Bai’s frown deepened. His voice was low and deep. “Friend?”
He lowered his eyes to look at Song Ci’s muddied hands. “So, you torment your own hands like this all for the sake of an empty shell?”
His disdain of Song Ci’s filthy hands was clear for all to see. Eventually, Song Ci’s reddened eyes made him softened his tone. “His soul is gone. There is no need for you to do this.”
Rong Bai’s words seemed like a soft, tender hand smoothing away the potholes in his heart. Song Ci thought to himself, if only I could be as strong as Rong Bai, then I’ll be able to do what I want to do and protect the people I want to protect.
Just then, the corpse beside him burst into a blue flame. It did not take long for the body to be completely incinerated. Rong Bai stood up and firmly pulled Song Ci up. “Follow me back to the Divine Realm.”
Song Ci did not expect Rong Bai to set the body on fire so suddenly; he had simply ignited it without giving any prior warning. All Song Ci could do was stare dumbstruck at the pile of black ash on the ground.
“He’s just an empty shell without a soul. Even if you bury him underground, it won’t be long before he will rot away into nothing but bones.” Rong Bai grabbed his chin with his other hand and forced him to shift his gaze away. “Then, the insects underground will gnaw on his bones until nothing is left of him. You might as well cremate him.”
With that, he even asked, “Isn’t that right?”
Song Ci felt that his words made sense. He could not find fault in Rong Bai’s reasoning to refute him with; thus he nodded and replied, “Right.”
Only then did Rong Bai reveal a smile. “Let’s go.”
Rong Bai led a muddleheaded Song Ci to the first peak at Sihuang Mountain—the gathering spot of the various deities and immortals.
Because Rong Bai had quickly ended the mayhem brought about by the beast that had broken free of its seal, almost no one was injured. The wilderness at the mountain summit was jam-packed with people standing and milling around.
Rong Bai reappeared under the watchful eyes of the crowd. With his gaze straight ahead, he led Song Ci until he came to a stop beside Yan Song. Then, he grabbed Song Ci’s sleeves and wiped the mud on his hands clean.
Song Ci’s body stiffened. He looked at his muddied sleeves, stumped for words. He had specially rolled up his sleeves earlier to dig a hole precisely because he was afraid of dirtying his clothes.
Besides, Rong Bai knew cleansing spells. Why did he still have to use his sleeves to wipe?
Just as he was shaking the mud off his two sleeves, Yan Song came over with a meaningful smile on his face. “So this is the ‘something’ you had to do?”
“You saw it, didn’t you? Rong Bai looked him right in the eyes and said with a smile, “I’m taking him back to Tu Shan.”
Yan Song raised his eyebrows. “Will the Patriarch of Tu Shan agree?”
Rong Bai looked at Song Ci, who was carefully glancing all around, and replied in a low voice, “Whether he agrees or not is none of my business.”
“Then, is he willing to go back with you?” Yan Song asked again.
Although Song Ci was looking at others, he was also paying attention to what they were saying. When he heard the question, he turned his head to reply even before Rong Bai could speak. “I’d like to go.”
Rong Bai’s eyes gleamed as he smiled and lowered his eyes to look at Song Ci.
“What’s your reason for going to Tu Shan? Aren’t you afraid that those deities will flay you alive?” Yan Song circled around him with great interest. “You don’t look like you have the guts either.”
Song Ci frowned and thought for a moment, then gave him a fairly legitimate reason. “Because I’m a fox demon.”
He said to Rong Bai, “We are of the same kind.”
His words made Yan Song laugh.” You are right. All the fox clans in the world are family.”
“But look…” He pointed his chin to the side. “They don’t seem to think so.”
Upon hearing that, Song Ci looked over and saw a ring of people around him staring and gossiping at them. Perhaps it was because of Rong Bai’s presence that none of them dared to speak out loud, but their gazes spoke volumes of their hostility.
Song Ci rolled his eyes. “I can’t control what they think.”
“That’s a good way to think.” Ze Chen suddenly popped up behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder. “You are really interesting. How about we spar again another day to exchange pointers?”
Her sudden appearance startled Song Ci, but he did not mind her coming and going like a shadow. Instead, he considered her words carefully before he replied, “Alright.”
Ze Chen initially did not hold much hope for her suggestion. Those willing to spar with her among the entire Divine Realm had long ceased to exist. Despite her daylong search, it was still tough for her to find a suitable opponent to spar with.
She did not expect Song Ci to agree. Her eyes lit up, and she said happily, “It’s a deal. You are not allowed to flee before the battle, alright?”
“A gentleman never breaks his promise. But sparring isn’t of utmost importance for the time being.” Song Ci said in all seriousness. “Wait a little longer.”
“Fine.” Ze Chen said valiantly. “I’ll wait for you.”
“Don’t spar with her. You will be beaten to death.” Feng Zhuojun said in a cool voice. “Ze Chen never goes easy on others when sparring with them.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Song Ci inclined his head and glanced pensively at Rong Bai’s profile with a serious expression.
The appearance of the beast had completely interrupted the hunt meet. The deities and immortals sent from the Divine and Immortal Realms to oversee the Divine Hunt Meet started to wind up the event, while the rest left Sihuang Mountain.
The people in the wilderness left one after another. In just a while, more than half of them were gone. Rong Bai simply bid Yan Song farewell, intending to take Song Ci back first to help him settle in.
Just as he was about to leave with Song Ci, he heard a frivolous yell, “Little Young Master Rong—”
Song Ci looked up and saw a man walking towards them. He was a charming-looking man dressed in an apricot robe. His eyes were the same blue as Rong Bai’s, but his hair was a very light shade of brown. There was a malicious smile on his face.
This man was also from the Tu Shan clan.
And to think Song Ci believed that all the fox demons of Tu Shan had hair as white as snow…
Rong Bai did not seem like he wanted to acknowledge the presence of this person; he did not even respond to his call. He grabbed Song Ci’s wrist and turned to leave, but the man said, “Although it’s a peaceful era now, the Divine Realm has previously banned all demon species from setting foot into the Realm of Deities. Aren’t you afraid of letting others get a handle on you if you go on being so brazen?”
Rong Bai sneered. “Tu Shan Heng, it’s none of your business, isn’t it?”
Tu Shan Heng turned out a folding fan in his hand and gently lifted Song Ci’s chin. He sized him up and said, “He’s indeed good-looking. If you like him, isn’t it better to put him up in the Demon Realm? Why must you bring him into Tu Shan?”
Before he could finish his words, a blue flame burned the folding fan into ashes that went scattering.
Rong Bai raised an innocent smile. “If you wish for me to send all your fur up in flames, then go ahead and hinder me.”
Tu Shan Heng looked at his hand, which was still in the pose of holding a fan, then at the scattered ashes in the air. He mumbled, “Looks like this fan isn’t fireproof…”
Rong Bai added, “But you have reminded me of something.”
He released his grip on Song Ci’s wrist and called over the immortal attendant who had been waiting for orders at the side. “Take him to Tu Shan and settle him in. If anyone dares to stop you, send a message to me immediately.”
The immortal attendant was a youth of about fifteen or sixteen of age. After making his reply, he bowed respectfully to Song Ci and said, “Please follow me.”
Song Ci understood that Rong Bai might have other matters to attend to, and so he did not probe further. He took one look at Rong Bai before he left with the youth.
The youth led him to a luxurious-looking carriage pulled by two immortal beasts that were red all over and had long ears and soft tails. They looked very much like cats, but their bodies were much bigger than humans.
The youth pushed aside the carriage curtain and screen for him. Song Ci took in the sight of the interior in a glance. The first thing he saw was a piece of extravagant and gorgeous snow-white fur rug.
“This is…” It had been a long time since Song Ci had sat in such an opulent carriage. He had almost forgotten that he was once the young master of a wealthy clan.
“It’s the Divine Lord’s exclusive carriage.” The youth answered with lowered eyes.
“If I use it, then how is Rong Bai going to get back?” Song Ci asked.
“The Divine Lord basically doesn’t use this kind of mount when he travels.” The youth looked at him doubtfully. “The Divine Lord finds it too slow.”
“Oh.” Song Ci swiftly climbed into the carriage and reclined back on the seat with half of his body sinking into the soft velvet cushion. He let out a sigh of comfort. “Let’s go…”