This System had provided a list of amenities available at the onset of this “special event”. It was meant to be “fun” so the travelling demons were provided with what they’d need to survive in this place, as they now lacked their powers and demonic features.
The seemed to also lack things unspecified in that whole business. Raking his hands through the thick wild mess of curls that he could no longer easily tame, Luo Binghe was sure that something about this world itself affected him. He had never had such struggles with humanity before! This world just seemed to follow very different rules by nature alone.
A human where they came from seemed to naturally be different from a human here. That was a fascinating and terrible concept all at once. Cultivation was also not a thing here, but the technology was superior in ways that could almost make up for that deficiency.
One of the amenities the System had provided was something called a Computer. It was a device that was connected to a magic network of sorts that allowed information to be shared across vast distances. Entire libraries were made accessible in this form, accessible by using keys to access various things.
Luo Binghe was nothing if not adaptable. He had always been thrown into situations of various difficulty and pulled through anyway. This was no different. This Computer was the source of the One Clue the System had given them towards finding their husbands, and he was going to throw himself into learning it.
Since the intent behind the situation was some form of “fun”, the System had provided a great deal for the two “visitors”. They were human now, but had been given clothes, a living situation, some basic food and currency, and this device that accessed great knowledge. It was a very viable setup if one was clever enough to use it, and Luo Binghe was definitely going to prove he was that. He had to be if he was going to survive this new territory and rescue his beloved Shizun!
They had been given a single use item to return home with, of course, which would be held until they had their partners back. Luo Binghe hoped there would be no difficulty finding them both, because he wasn’t sure he could be patient about waiting if he found his Shizun first. But Mobei-jun was generally a very loyal subordinate, and Shizun was quite fond of Shang Qinghua too so Luo Binghe was mostly inclined to want to retrieve both. Shizun was priority, however. They’d just have to wait and see how things turned out..
The most important item they’d been given, besides their key to returning, was the supposed One Clue to finding their spouses - something held within this Internet on the Computer. It was a book known as Proud Immortal Demon Way and they had been given full access to the story, any comments on the various chapters - something viable with how stories were contained on this Internet - and discussion forums on the subject. These forums, rather than being physical places, were magically connected written archives of the discussions had on a particular subject.
Luo Binghe had found getting to know and use this Computer and Internet combination had been very useful to him. But their Clue was something else.
The story this clue was based on was all about him! However, it wasn’t the Luo Binghe of this timeline at all. It was another version of him, one who slept around with various women in his life in gratuitous fashion. A Luo Binghe without his Shizun.
He’d gathered that much just from the fact it was said to be so many chapters, almost entirely of him having sex with various women in his harem. He’d seen the descriptions of some of the later ones in the updates section. It implied a great deal about the content of the work.
He had hesitated to read the story, wanting to familiarize himself with the world and the vast troves of information provided on this Internet first. He would need that information to understand the story and to be able to function when he had finished reading it, so that had been paramount.
But on top of that...he just hadn’t wanted to read this about other person’s life.
What was the value in knowing the tale of his own horrible life, only to compound it by taking out the very person who brought him the most joy? Or taking away from that relationship by piling in more that all sounded like they existed purely for sexual convenience? What trash.
Eventually, he’d come back to this obscenely long story to sit and read it through. If this and it’s various discussions and the opinions on it were the clue to finding his beloved, he would suffer through reading it anyway.
What he found on reading it was that it was worse than he’d first thought.
This wasn’t just the story of a Luo Binghe who didn’t marry his Shizun. This was the story of a Luo Binghe who had been further tormented by that person, grow close to others instead, and eventually returned and wreaked horrific vengeance on those who had wronged him...including Shen Qingqiu.
Reading of hurts and cruelty he’d never experienced from the person dearest to him had been awful but confusing. However, reading of the fate of that person had struck him with such horror that Luo Binghe had actually had to flee the computer for a time, fearing he may even be temporarily struck ill by it.
The images of his beloved Shizun facing such a fate were sickening. He had dream powers in his home dimension, but here his mind was entirely weak to the whims of his volatile imagination. So he’d been trapped, curled on the floor, trying to chase the vile thoughts away on his own.
He would never hurt his Shizun, never again, and never like that! This other him was an absolute monster, wasn’t he?
A nagging voice at the back of his mind said if Shen Qingqiu had never shown him that mote of kindness, he could so easily have become that person. To not be shown kindness and caring when he most needed it, he’d truly have become just as blackened.
But that Luo Binghe wasn’t him. He was another person who had done those deeds. He would not feel guilt over that person’s actions.
It made his heart hurt just the same.
When his head was finally under control again, he stood and returned to the main room once more...and was surprised to find Mobei-jun had taken his seat.
Mobei-jun had mostly left the Clue to Luo Binghe, seeing as he had no interest in the various sexual escapades that took place in this alternate reality. He would glance over at interesting sections Luo Binghe found or at anything related to himself and his husband, but that was it.
However, this time Mobei-jun had taken up the position at the computer and was carefully scrolling through pages as he’d been taught. His blue eyes were quickly scanning over the pages, squinting and peering and working hard to analyze the words.
“What’re you doing?” Luo Binghe asked, voice quiet and breath still drawing heavily.
“Reading the next sections for relevant information. The content you were reading continues further into the chapter.”
It was an oddly thoughtful gesture for someone like Mobei-jun, who generally didn’t bother with gestures of that sort at all. Then again, it was of use to them both if they gained all possible information from this novel, and if Luo Binghe was hindered in that task, they may not progress.
“I appreciate your efforts. I will take over reading again when you reach a safer section.”
Mobei-jun nodded and returned to silently reading.
This gave Luo Binghe time to pick up the Tablet - a portable version of the Computer that they’d been given for more information access while traveling - and looked over the forums. He still had other avenues to research besides the main story.
Contrary to what they might think, certain cultivators were not always as subtle as they believed. Luo Binghe knew very well that his husband and shishu acted differently around each other in private, and had particular nicknames they liked to use when no one else seemed to be in earshot. He’d picked up on that habit of theirs years ago, but could never quite figure out what it meant.
Shen Qingqiu tended to call Shang Qinghua “Airplane-bro” and in return was called “Cucumber-bro”. Luo Binghe knew his husband liked to wear green frequently, but that seemed a strange moniker to go by.
He had thought for some time that the “Cucumber-bro” name had something to do with the time Shen Qingqiu had been in cognito and gave the false name of “Peerless Cucumber” to various villagers he met. Luo Binghe hadn’t learned about that nickname till after the fact, so it had seemed right, but that explained neither the reason to use it nor what an “Airplane” was!
It hadn’t been till he had come here and gained access to this amazing tool known as The Google that Luo Binghe had discovered what he really needed. The ability to simply inquire of this tool on the Internet about whatever he wished to know, and soon tons of information - some relevant, some very much not - was laid before him for his choosing!
With this tool, Luo Binghe had been able to learn what an “Airplane” was - albeit, after a great deal of trial and error and learning more about the term. Airplanes seemed to be something people of this world used to fly, as they lacked the use of swords for it. These large objects carried multiple people at once, flying above the ground, by power of machinery. It was rather fascinating, but didn’t explain what that had to do with Shang Qinghua.
On looking more in depth at the story, however, Luo Binghe had discovered that it’s author did not use a traditional name. Instead this person used an online “handle” or “username” to represent them, and this person had chosen the moniker of Airplane-Shooting-Towards-the-Sky. It hadn’t taken Luo Binghe long to take the leap in logic to realize that, with the content of the novel, and the type of person who’d pen that, it was very much a phallic reference.
Luo Binghe was no stranger to having people writing erotic fiction about his love life - after all, he’d read Resentment of Chunshan. It was pretty hard to avoid, actually! The nature of this book had been strange though, it hadn’t just detailed his sex life but been going into his past history, in rather intricate detail.
This person wrote from his perspective the very thoughts he’d had at the time, about situations he had never spoken to anyone about. Not even Shizun had been told of some details of his past and history, yet the person writing this work had known them? How?
Further confusion had come when he’d discovered a user called Peerless Cucumber who left frequent comments on the chapters and spoke often on the forums. At first, Luo Binghe had been excited on spotting this familiar name, hoping it was the real Clue to his beloved. There had been no such luck.
The person leaving comments was really nothing like his Shizun. Sharp, vehemently angry, full of very wordy vitriol, this person spoke horribly about every chapter yet still read on. The reader seemed to be very much in support of Luo Binghe, but he also seemed in fierce support of Shen Qingqiu’s death. He’d taken an immediate dislike of this person’s opinions until he saw some of the book!Shen Qingqiu’s later actions.
Now it seemed that person’s wishes had been fulfilled, in some fashion, and Luo Binghe returned to reading their posts to see if it gave any insight.
The forums were full of lengthy debates about all sorts of things. People Luo Binghe knew personally were spoken of very differently and most of the women were discussed almost like commodities. Simple playthings of the audience and his life a revenge fantasy they could follow. Did this Airplane-Shooting-Towards-the-Sky who wrote this trash have any relation to the wimpy little shishu he knew? Did this venom-spewing user have any relation to his beloved Shizun? And if they did...how? What did this System have to do with it?
His head hurt going over the dreck of the Internet and it was a relief when Mobei-jun slowly stood up from his position again.
“I have moved beyond that section. You should be able to read now.”
Mobei-jun, as an ice demon, had never had to control his facial expressions beyond a point - they schooled themselves naturally. This meant as a full human, he was unprepared to handle his face being more expressive. He really hadn’t gotten used to masking his emotions at all yet, and that meant it was easily clear that he was perturbed by something.
“Ran into another irritating section?” Luo Binghe asked, going to take his seat again.
“During the chapters detailing the fate of your...former master...it discussed the ultimate fate of that one’s servant.”
Mobei-jun had already had a distaste for the tone of the vague mentions of Shang Qinghua in this story, and for the nature of his own his visibly different relationships. The relationship between the two husbands had obviously been heading somewhere bad in that timeline, and now it seemed it had hit that point of the story.
“Hopefully not as bad.” Luo Binghe observed, looking to see where they had gotten to in the story now.
“No...handled swiftly. But a betrayal. The new section still relates to me, but I have no wish to read it.”
Luo Binghe looked at the section and his brow furrowed. Once he’d caught up, it became apparent why.
“This is about your ascension to your father’s powers. I had wondered about that event. You brought him with you, of course.”
The only interesting parts of the story for Luo Binghe were the ones describing events or topics he was unfamiliar with. Receiving a new angle on information was always worthwhile, even if the source was bizarre.
Yet, the more he read of this event - of the alternate Luo Binghe essentially only assisting Mobei-jun to hold the favor over him later - the more strange the outcome was. How in could something that took Luo Binghe’s strength to overcome, have at all been handled by Shang Qinghua? How was that possible?
“You had him with you for this? And did your uncle truly attack you during it?”
“Yes. And he did.”
Luo Binghe looked skeptical, “And your husband is still alive, how?”
“He specializes in surviving things.”
Luo Binghe snorted and returned to his reading.
He had a lot to get through if he was going to make use of this information to find his Shizun.