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You Are No Saint

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You were standing there like an angry god

Counting out my sins just to cross them off

Saying that my tongue was too loud to trust

And that my blood couldn't keep you

~ Saints by Echoes

Part One

In which Shen Jiu and Shen Yuan both died

 

The world of Proud Immortal Demon’s Way reflected theirs in its three primary biological sexes.

Alpha, Beta, and Omega.

 

However, the actual classification had more spiritual ramifications in the novel than just the usual biological differences.

 

Alphas were relatively large in number, their presence usually synonymous with leadership and prestige. They were healthier and more vigorous, their bodies in peak condition from birth which made cultivation easier for them in most cases. 

 

Betas were numerous, less prone to heats and ruts, calm and collected. There were some divides between them and Alphas, but in this world might was an absolute right. Betas usually either stayed out of the business of Sects or they concentrated on the less spiritual paths.

 

Omegas, rare as they were, were the actual hidden MVPs of the novel. Omegas always had abundant spiritual energy and some of them had a Golden Core before they even started cultivating. 

 

These weren’t absolute laws. There were waste root Omegas and physically weak Alphas and Betas who excelled in cultivation more than their Alpha or Omega sect brothers and sisters.

 

But these were part of the rules of the meager world building that went into Proud Immortal Demon’s Way, the rules that were established before the author realized that he needed to cater more to a certain part of his audience if he wanted to eat or pay his bills.

 

Everyone started out as a Beta and they could present as either Alpha or an Omega until their 26th year. Nobody knew why that was the deadline, but it was. There were no cases of an Alpha or an Omega presenting after their 26th birthday.

If one didn’t present as either Alpha or Omega, then they would remain a Beta.

 

And why all of this mattered?

 

Because while Shen Qingqiu, originally named Shen Jiu, the Scum Villain Master of Proud Immortal Demon’s Way was a Beta, Shen Yuan wasn't.

 

Presenting when he was 16, he could have been the prized jewel of their family, but Shen Yuan was a sickly child even before his hormones threw his body into even more dire straits.

So he got medicine and passed his days as a Beta mostly.

 

If the Transmigration System had an actual conscious it made a mistake when choosing him as the sucker to finish Shen Qingqiu's plotline.

~~~

 

It started like this.

 

Shen Yuan died in a hospital when he was 20.

He would have liked to say that he had an awesome life, that he did everything he wanted to do, but he died before he could make a dent in his bucket list.

 

He had some regrets left and one of them was wasting time reading the garbage pile that Proud Immortal Demon’s Way became.

 

The story started out interesting, there were some twists regarding spiritual powers that were rare to see in a Xianxia, an almost nuanced view on cultivation but the author didn’t actually go with them anywhere.

All the barely mentioned beasts and demons that didn’t become a reason or a useful tool for the growing harem of the protagonist were discarded eventually. 

 

There was so much potential in the novel when it started to be published. Shen Yuan was one of the few who were there from the beginning encouraging Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky to write, to flesh out this world of his.

 

Luo Binghe - for a long time - was one of Shen Yuan’s favorite protagonists. He was resilient, he was strong, he was smart, he was charming, he was honest, he was conflicted, he was cool, everything a good Xianxia protagonist should be. 

And as the popularity of the novel grew, all of that started to become… not important. 

The simple love triangle between Luo Binghe and his two fellow disciples became a harem numbering in the thousands.

 

Slowly the plot was replaced by meaningless face-slapping, repeated plotlines, and endless badly written sex scenes.

Make no mistake Shen Yuan had no problem with harem novels, he loved stories with face-slapping, but even he had a point when it just became too much and ridiculous.

 

And then one day as Shen Yuan was skimming through chapter 758, he realized that reading Proud Immortal Demon’s Way was nothing more than a chore now.

 

He thought about writing a blistering review, he thought about ranting on the novel’s forum. But what was the use? 

 

Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky didn’t seem to care and Shen Yuan was suddenly very tired of it all. He just wanted to sleep.

 

Thinking back, Shen Yuan was sure that his depression had a hand in the downward spiral his thoughts taken about that novel.

On any other day, he might have stuck with the novel for a few more chapters, to see whether the author would ever untangle the clusterfuck he made of the plot or not.

 

But it didn’t matter, because like a vengeful God, the moment he put down his tablet and cursed the author in his mind, the Transmigration System appeared before him and he had to make a choice.

Continue living within a System, fix the plot which went off the rails for some reason or return to his rapidly cooling dead body.

And Shen Yuan chose to continue living, what else he could have done, really?

 

The irony of the situation? 

He landed in his hated (beloved) novel, in a time when the plot wasn’t that much of a mess yet.

It was ironic that he ended up with a character sharing part of his name, the eventual Scum Villain Master of Luo Binghe.

 

The most ironic thing of all that he wasn’t an actual good fit for the role of Shen Qingqiu.

 

Shen Yuan opened his eyes and screamed from the pain, as the massive Qi Deviation caused by the soul transfer hit him full force.

A cultivator spent decades honing their body and their spiritual force so both of those were unique and connected to their soul in every possible way. 

 

It was impossible to exchange one soul for another and to keep their cultivation completely intact.

 

If their physical bodies, if their spiritual energy and if their souls were similar enough the damage could be mitigated.

 

The moment his soul entered Shen Qingqiu’s body, the Peak Lord’s meridians were flooded and burnt out, his root bone disintegrating, his Golden Core shattering from the dissonance between Shen Qingqiu’s body and Shen Yuan’s soul.

“Don’t worry Precious Customer! System 002 is here to help you out!”

~~~

 

After that Shen Yuan spent months in limbo, his spiritual energy rapidly working with the System he was bound to, so the Peak Lord of Qing Jing Peak wouldn’t die before the plot even started.

 

And when he woke up for the first time; almost a year has passed already, since the famed scholar of Cang Qiong went into closed cultivation per rumors.

 

In reality, when Shen Yuan woke up he was in a bed in a completely different place from what he remembered from his first awakening after his transmigration.

 

He sat up, pushing away the light blanket covering him, long black hair pooling into his lap.

He looked around, his hands twisting his white sleeping robes for a bit, taking in the luxurious furniture, the greenery around, the large and airy room itself.

 

Then he looked down and spread his hands. Snow-white skin, pianist fingers, delicate wrists. 

He needed a mirror, he needed to see what he looked like.

Shen Yuan crawled to the side of the bed almost falling over because of the long sleeves covering his hands and then his long hair spilling over the sheets. 

 

There was nothing like a mirror in the room, so he walked to one of the doors on shaking legs and slid it open.

 

It was beautiful outside.

 

Shen Yuan stood on a veranda in thin nightclothes and watched the snowfall. There was already a thin layer of white on the ground and he stretched out a hand to catch a falling snowflake before thinking better of it.

 

He looked around, saw no-one else, so like a naughty child he climbed down into the garden barefoot, just standing in the snowfall.

It was cold, he shivered, but this was something that he had never been able to do in his previous life.

It felt amazing and he laughed softly, just watching the clouds in the sky for a while before his legs folded under him and he had to sit down.

 

The melting snow soaked through the few layers he had on, but it wasn’t freezing, so he decided to not go back yet.

And he wasn’t sure whether he could stand up so soon.

 

However much time he spent sleeping, it wasn’t a few hours only, he was sure of that.

He had to wonder… if he transmigrated what role did he transmigrate exactly into? He knew that it was into the novel of Proud Immortal Demon Way and he figured that he was a cultivator, probably pretty high ranked or close to someone with a high rank, but the Transmigration System didn’t tell him before he agreed.

 

Transmigration novels always had the transmigrator bound to a System. 

So… where was his?

 

He distinctly remembered a strange almost mechanic voice talking to him once and there was a presence in the back of his head, but there was nothing now. 

 

He shrugged and decided to take it one thing at a time.

If there was no System to answer his questions, he would figure the answers out himself.

It wasn’t like he had anything to lose, only his life. And he already died once.

 

He heard footsteps on the hardwood floors from the inside and he cocked his head to the side listening to a door sliding away. Something fell and broke and a frightened voice screamed for the Sect Master, before running away fast.

 

Shen Yuan watched the door he left open lazily, blinking and counting his breaths.

 

He didn’t even need a few minutes to pass before someone thundered through the floors again and slammed the door open.

“Xiao Jiu!” That was a different voice, older than the previous he heard shouting for the Sect Master. Probably the Sect Master then.

 

Tearing through the room, Shen Yuan soon saw the man himself.

Tall, black hair, imposing black clothing with some white accents, sword at the ready in his hand.

 

Shen Yuan had no idea who was this. Like if he knew in which Sect he was, then he would know which Sect Master might be standing before him.

 

It could be Wu Wang of the Zhao Hua. It could be Yue Qingyuan of Cang Qiong. It could be Lao Gongzhu of Huan Hua. It could be the nameless Master of Tian Yi.

Who he was kidding?

 

There were only two possibilities that made any sense if he was to fix the derailed plot.

 

One was Huan Hua Sect, but then the Sect Master of them was an old man in age and appearance too. And the man standing before him was young and handsome.

So that left Cang Qiong only.

 

And there was only one person who made the Sect Master of Cang Qiong lose his cool, which made certain groups of readers speculate about the connection between the two characters.

Especially when Luo Binghe had his revenge on one of them first, the Sect Master became canon fodder in his grief.

 

So if that was Yue Qingyuan, then Shen Yuan was Shen Qingqiu now.

Did that mean that if he helped to get the plot back on track he was bound to become a molester and die as a human stick?

 

Well, shit.

~~~

 

Yue Qingyuan’s day went on the same way it did since he was alerted about the massive Qi Deviation that was happening to Shen Jiu.

 

And he couldn’t do anything.

He stood there utterly useless, as Mu Qingfang informed him that introducing any foreign spiritual power into Shen Qingqiu’s body would kill him faster than he could blink.

 

He watched over Shen Jiu day in, day out until the Qi Deviation finished and he was face to face with the consequences.

 

The consequences which he tried to ignore and succeeded until the day one of the servants came running in shouting for him about their guest being gone.

 

His heart in his throat he flew through the corridors, not caring about decorum or anything to crash though the sliding door just to see Shen Jiu’s bed empty and the other door leading out open.

There was nothing that pinged the spell arrays protecting his Peak and the spells around Shen Jiu’s room were even more numerous, so if someone grabbed Shen Jiu they were, either way, more powerful than the combined efforts of all the previous Sect Leaders of Cang Qiong... or Shen Jiu never left the Peak.

 

He slipped into the inner garden and stopped moving, breathing. Everything for a few seconds at the sight of Xiao Jiu up and moving

 

He had months to get used to the changes the Qi Deviation caused in Xiao Jiu’s body, but he was still struck by the sudden reminder to their younger days.

Because Xiao Jiu looked much younger, a fairy surrounded by snow, black hair unbound and fanned out around him.

 

And he was looking at him with suspicion, without any recognition showing up on his face at all.

 

“Xiao Jiu?” Yue Qingyuan called out and there was a faint frown now on that achingly familiar face and it hurt so much to see.

“Don’t call me that.” Xiao Jiu snapped, then stopped speaking seemingly confused and surprised.

However, Yue Qingyuan was more than happy, he was ecstatic because that was Xiao Jiu through and through. 

Maybe all wasn’t lost.

Maybe some things remained after the fever burned away everything else.

 

“Shen Jiu… You are awake.” He said and walked through the snow, glancing at Xiao Jiu’s bare feet. He felt worried, not only Xiao Jiu’s feet were without anything, but his sleeping robes were soaked through. 

“Who are you?” Xiao Jiu asked, standing up, face stoic and calm, but his hands were clenched into his clothes. “Are you the Sect Master? Where are we?”

Yue Qingyuan leaned down and unclenched Xiao Jiu’s hands from their bare-knuckled grip gently holding him by a fragile wrist, pressing a few fingers against his pulse points.

He used a small amount of spiritual energy to sweep over his meridians.

He found nothing out of the norm, no blockades or anything.

Just the gentle feeling of Xiao Jiu’s spiritual energy.

 

Xiao Jiu looked at his hand around his and there was some frost in his gaze, that wasn’t there before. A warning look and Yue Qingyuan felt his spiritual energy spike before the gentle pressure turned dangerous.

“Let go of my hand. Right now.”

Yue Qingyuan let go of him and tried to appear even less threatening, cursing himself for just grabbing Xiao Jiu without an explanation. 

“I’m sorry.” He decided to start with an apology, raising his hands to show that he meant no harm. The suspicion didn’t fade even a little bit from those green eyes. “You are in Cang Qiong Mountains. I am indeed the Sect Master…”

 

Blank. Shen Jiu went completely blank on him, just watching him with dead eyes.

 

“I’m Yue Qingyuan. Yue Qi. Do you remember me, Shen Jiu? Do you remember your Qi-ge?”

~~~

 

Shit. 

Fucking shit.

Shitty fucking shit on a fucking shitstick, what the fucking fuck?

What the fucking shit did he step into?

 

If he was a computer he would be showing the blue screen of death probably, the moment fucking Yue Qingyuan acknowledged that he was in Cang Qiong.

Especially when he told him his name. 

 

If this was Cang Qiong.

If the smiling man before him was Yue Qingyuan.

If he was handled so gently by the Sect Master.

 

Then Shen Yuan knew whose role did he take on exactly.

He was Shen Qingqiu.

 

He wasn’t ready for that to get confirmed so firmly and he could say nothing as Yue Qingyuan wrapped his overcoat around him and lead him back into the room. He just watched listlessly as the Sect Master kneeled before him and dried his feet. 

“I will call for a warm bath for you.” The man who just shook his entire world said, watching him rapturously.

 

Shen Yuan felt uncomfortable as hell. He wasn’t Shen Jiu. He knew nothing of the shared history between Shen Qingqiu and Yue Qingyuan that wasn’t in the novel. And there were only implications mostly, the whole thing was one of the first plotlines to be dropped by that blasted author.

 

Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky never really finished fleshing out Shen Qingqiu’s character. Sure, some of the motivations were there, but it was seen through the bias of the protagonist.

 

Shen Yuan will be flying blind and he was now before the scrutiny of Yue Qingyuan, who had the closest relationship with Shen Qingqiu, even if that relationship was full of thorns and landmines.

 

“Are you really Yue Qingyuan?” He asked softly when he was sitting in a filled bathtub, his hair twisted on the top of his head, a folding screen separating the two of them.

He could see his silhouette through it, moving around the room after he dismissed the servants who came in previously.

 

“I am.”

“And you called me Shen Jiu before?”

“I did. That’s your name. Well, that was your name before you became Shen Qingqiu.”He came to the other side of the screen and started helping to wash Shen Yuan’s hair.

 

Shen Yuan had to swallow against the sudden tightness in his throat. He wanted to cry because he was fucked.

“Shen Qingqiu. I am Shen Qingqiu?”

“Yes, you are. Do you remember that, Shen Jiu?”

Shen Yuan didn’t. Of course he didn’t, so he shook his head only.

“You had a rather bad Qi Deviation, everything is going to be okay. You will remember everything soon.”

 

He doubted that. He really did.

There was literally zero chance of that happening.

He can’t remember things that he didn’t know, ever!

That was impossible and he watched the opaque water swirl around his drawn-up knees.

“What if I don’t?” He uttered and immediately he wanted to take it back, especially when Yue Qingyuan’s fingers froze in his hair before he continued to massage the shampoo in.

“Then you won’t. As long as you are happy.”

 

And the heartbreak in the second part drowned out the slight relief he could hear in those words and Shen Yuan wanted to cry for a different reason then.

I’m sorry, he thought, but he didn’t say it out loud. 

I’m so sorry.

Your Xiao Jiu is already dead and I’m just an impostor and I can never tell you that.

 

Shen Yuan was rather subdued as Yue Qingyuan helped him get ready for bed again.

 

He watched the Sect Master sweeping through the room through half-lidded eyes and he thought about his own brother.

Shen Zhuang spent years helping to take care of his sick little brother when their parents weren’t home.

 

Yue Qingyuan greatly reminded Shen Yuan of him.

That was probably the only reason why he would let an Alpha he didn’t know touch him at all.

That and his guilt.

 

He was ready for the day to end.

He couldn’t take anymore, he just wanted… to be alone and deal with this entire thing without knowing that someone was hoping to see a different person in his place.

“Are you comfortable?” Yue Qingyuan came and adjusted the porcelain pillow under his head.

Shen Yuan nodded before he hesitated.

“Is there a soft pillow? This feels strange.”

Yue Qingyuan looked surprised before he nodded quickly and stepped out of the room to return with one.

Gently helping to raise Shen Yuan’s head, his palms on the back of his neck, he exchanged them, before he called out a goodnight and closed the door behind him.

 

Shen Yuan waited a few minutes before he curled into a small ball under the blankets and suppressed his tears as the day’s experiences hit him suddenly.

 

He died.

He was dead and he would never see his brother or his sister again.

His parents had to bury him.

He was stuck in a foreign world, in a different body and he was going to die here too.

 

He choked down a sob clutching at his hair before he gave up and started crying.

~~~

 

Outside the room, Yue Qingyuan stood and bore witness to Shen Jiu’s quiet breakdown silently.

 

If his eyes were red at the edges... well nobody was there to watch him mourn.

~~~

~~~

Chapter Text

Part Two

In which Luo Binghe messed up while playing with his...  sword

 

Once upon a time when Luo Binghe was first chosen by his pathetic and jealous Master, he still believed that life was fair and just. That he could become a righteous cultivator, that he would find happiness and love and friendship and acceptance and all that rot.

 

That life would be sunshine and happiness and puppies now that he was finally chosen for something grander than himself.

That a peerless immortal like Shen Qingqiu saw something in him.

 

That was quickly stomped out of him over the torments of the next few years.

 

He quickly found that Cang Qiong and especially Qing Jing Peak was full of bullies and that his Master hated him. That he was disgusted by him and that his bright future was full of insurmountable roadblocks.

 

Every time he managed to succeed at something, another problem or issue arose and he was pushed down again and again.

 

Eventually, he learned to fight back with words, charm, lies, and swords if needed.

He was a demon spawn and he had no compunctions about fighting dirty. 

 

It wasn’t like anyone was ever kind to him. 

 

( He tried to ignore a voice asking things like, what about your mother? The kind woman who took you in and died for you? What about Ning Yingying, who was so devoted to you ever since the two of you became disciples in the same sect? What about any of your other wives? )

 

So why should he fight fair? 

Why should he even care about things like that?

 

And for a while, it worked. 

 

He became a highly respected disciple of Shen Qingqiu, the strongest in martial and spiritual arts! People in all four corners of the world heard about him while the actual Head Disciple of the Qing Jing Peak Lord was completely unknown.

 

Then came the Immortal Conference and something woke up in him completely for the first time in his life and his scum Master pushed him down into the Endless Abyss to die.

 

But Luo Binghe lived to be contrary.

 

He crawled through the ravine he fell in, survived the poisonous miasma and the constant attacks on him. Endless existential horror, grotesque beings, and mutated survivors. 

And he came out of it all stronger.

 

A Heavenly Demon tempered by the Endless Abyss was a fearsome thing indeed.

 

Then he found Xin Mo and he could escape from that void, because of the sword’s dimension rending abilities. 

A demon sword which was similar to a cultivator’s spiritual weapon, the forging and the years of usage making a mark on both of those.

 

Xin Mo was an insidious thing. 

At first, he didn’t even notice how it influenced him, how it amplified his worst tendencies.

 

Luo Binghe above all else was a selfish creature, he would be the first to admit that. 

He was a hedonist, he was obsessive.

He felt unloved and he wanted to be loved ever since he was a child. 

 

He took his first steps in the Demon World and there was no one to stop him. 

Oh, there were rumors about another Heavenly Demon, sure. 

It didn’t take much to figure out that was his dear old dad, but he learned that the demon was under lock and key by one of the Sects of the Human World. 

 

He wasn’t that keen on releasing Tianlang Jun. 

He was good with the bastard rotting away in a prison for eternity.

 

Maybe he did have some slight issues with authority figures and a father clashed with that, especially a Demon Lord of his supposed caliber… He wasn’t sure what would happen if it came down to a fight between the two of them.

 

He wasn’t sure either whether he would be able to kill his own flesh and blood, even if the demon pretty much only contributed seed to his existence.

He didn’t have nearly enough relatives to be able to guess his next move in that situation.

 

He steamrolled over the entire Realm and united the warring tribes under him.

It was quite interesting to see the demons who sneered at him first become his bootlickers and that was when his actual harem started developing.

When all was said and done, he turned his attention to the Human World.

 

Huan Hua Palace was a good way to start. 

After all, he had to make sure that his beloved father would not see daylight in the next few centuries at least.

 

So he played the innocent disciple who got struck down by his own Master, he became the perfect head disciple of that creep Lao Gongzhu. 

He schemed, he lied and he betrayed them all until they were eating from his palms and he loved it all.

 

And with Huan Hua’s might behind him, it wasn’t that hard to get his claws back into Cang Qiong to creep back into his old friends’ lives. 

It wasn’t hard to find Shen Qingqiu’s weak points.

 

He wasn’t a firm believer in turning the other cheek.

He was one for the old adages instead.

An eye for an eye.

A tooth for a tooth.

 

Well, not quite that one.

If you hurt Luo Binghe, get ready to pay back a hundredfold. 

 

So he destroyed Shen Qingqiu and he razed his old sect to the ground. 

 

Years later when he destroyed the Border between the Demon Realm and the Human Realm and blended it all together he wondered…

Why did Shen Qingqiu hate him so much from the beginning?

 

It wasn’t because he was a demon, that wasn’t revealed until the Conference.

It wasn’t because he turned out to be an Alpha, even if his Master was markedly harder on the few Alpha disciples on the Peak. His designation wasn’t something he could have known before he presented. 

Did Shen Qingqiu feel threatened by the Alphas around him in the Sect?

Was it because of jealousy?

Was it because he was afraid that one day he would be surpassed?

 

He never asked Shen Qingqiu before he carved out his tongue and he would never get to ask after that. Human sticks didn’t have a long life expectancy. 

Especially when their cultivation was destroyed and their root bone started rotting inside their bodies, slowly poisoning them.

 

In the end, Luo Binghe sat on a throne erected on a pile of corpses and he was surrounded by a harem numbering in thousands, filled with beauties from both Realms.

And it was utterly, incomprehensibly, unimaginably boring.

 

He had everything he could wish for.

Clothing, palaces, swords, food, drinks, fucking, he had it all and it was like he had to choke down a mouthful of ash.

He achieved everything he ever set out to do and it all meant nothing.

 

So he started digging up old legends, he went on treasure hunts, he put down an uprising or two.

That filled a few years with things to do, but he still felt empty inside.

 

In his desperation to find something he could fill that void with, he turned to the sword at his side and started experimenting with Xin Mo’s dimensional powers.

 

That piece of shit, hunk of metal, he hoped whoever forged it died in a pit screaming for creating that abomination.

 

If he never found Xin Mo, he wouldn’t be in this shit and he wouldn’t be a fucking infant again.

An infant, yes.

Because something went wrong the last time he messed around with the demon sword and he woke up screaming his little lungs out hurtling down an icy river in the middle of winter.

~~~

 

Luo Binghe wasn’t sure what had happened to his younger self, whose body he came to occupy, but he could feel that there was nothing else residing in his body.

 

It was him alone.

 

He was found by his mother, the kind washerwoman again, who took him in. His mother, because she was his mother even if they were not related by blood, take care of him and watched over him.

 

They were dirt poor. 

 

He didn’t remember how much his mother sacrificed herself so that she could raise him. 

He didn’t know why would she debase herself like that, selling her body and all for money to raise an unknown child like him.

 

But now he knew and he would never forget. 

And he would make sure that all who stepped on her back would be properly compensated.

 

Thus Luo Binghe started to grow up.

He became a baby, then a toddler, then a small child.

When he was three years old he started to contemplate his demonic heritage.

 

He had abundant spiritual energy, his demonic powers manifested when he woke up screaming in this timeline the first time. Only his physical body needed to catch up, but that would need years and years.

He wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his health by trying to skip that.

 

This life, he already knew about his origins. 

Theoretically, he could get into the Demon Realm and accelerate the start of his Demon Lord career. 

 

Demons respected power.

Demons only cared about power.

 

And he had power in droves, even if his packaging was slightly fragile currently.

Or as fragile as any demon child was, which wasn’t that fragile, but still a bit more delicate than their adult forms.

 

His half-demon status might be a problem like it was in his old timeline. 

But if he could start small and work up, he could take over the Demon Realm in the next few years.

 

Now he just had to convince his mother to move half-across the continent next to the unstable and frequently raided Border.

Easy as pie.

~~~

 

No.

It was not as easy as pie.

 

He wanted to hit himself over the head a few times that he ever thought that.

 

His mother must be the only person in the entire world who had some common sense and didn't listen without thought to the 3-year-old telling her to move away from their safe and secure life.

 

To take a defenseless human woman and her equally (not) defenseless (not) human kid into one of the most dangerous parts of the continent.

 

Ah. 

He saw some of the problems now.

Maybe he needed to rethink his approach.

~~~

 

It took some time to fabricate an opportunity for his mother which needed them to move right at the edge of the Border and to make it something worth it.

 

He had to sacrifice pretty much every connection he ever made in their old city, but he wasn't worried about that.

One day he would be back and take back everything with interest.

 

But he had bigger fish to fry currently.

 

So the Border was a splotchy thing.

Technically between the Human Realm and the Demon Realm, there was the Endless Abyss, which Luo Binghe was quite familiar with.

 

The Endless Abyss only opened up a few times, quite randomly in times and places.

It was effectively a void.

An other dimension around the Human Realm separating it from the Demon Realm, not allowing the merging of the two.

 

That had been the way for the last few millennia.

 

Over the years the blanket of the Endless Abyss became somewhat frayed at the edges, thus the Border was born.

 

As such, there were openings in the Border where demons could easily slip through.

Most of them weren't large and they automatically got patched up after a while. 

 

To be honest, a person who was on a Demon Lord’s level spiritually was needed to make either a larger gate or to sustain one for a long time against the Abyss' self-repair ability.

 

Luo Binghe could do both easily as he still was a Demon Lord, but it would put quite a lot of strain on his still-growing body.

And as stated previously that was a big no-no in his books.

 

"What does a pretty little thing like you do so close to the Demon Realm? Didn't your parents teach you not to seek out the big bad wolves?" The jeering voice of a lowly beast interrupted Luo Binghe's internal musings.

He glanced at it before he turned back to the tear with thought. The beast probably only recently gained sentience. 

It was beneath Luo Binghe to humor it.

 

"Are you deaf, little girl? Mute?"

His eyebrow twitched when the beast breathed into his ears over his shoulders. If he went through the tear he didn't know where to find another one. This one was already closing up.

He could see the Abyss lancing through the edges, repairing the damage.

"Did no one taught you to respect your betters?"

 

Binghe reached out and grabbed the beast by its throat, then brought it down before his face.

“You are too noisy.”

The beast could only bleat sharply, its throat crushed between childish fingers and Binghe watched its struggle with blood-red eyes.

“What better? I see only a weakling.”

 

And since the annoyance had quieted down he let go of its throat and jumped off the small boulder he sat on.

Brushing his hands off he skipped towards the tear and stepped through it.

The beast stood up on shaky legs and followed him back to the Demon Realm.

“What are you doing? Where are you going?” It asked with a rough voice from its previous strangulation. It froze immediately when blood-red irises zeroed on it again.

 

Binghe watched it for a few seconds before he started walking deeper into the Realm, the beast on his heels doggedly.

 

He and his unwanted tagalong ended up farther North after some time.

 

Binghe figured that his best bet would be starting with Mobei-jun’s territory.

Pretty much what he did the last time too, even if that was more of a revenge thing at first.

 

Mobei-jun was a dick, but he was a strong demon.

Weaker than him, but still stronger than most and he was Binghe's… friend? He didn't really have friends, ever, but there were days when he could have called the ice demon a friend. Somewhat tentatively, but still.

 

Not the usual lord and servant relationship they had.

 

This Mobei-jun was still a Demon Lord while Binghe was a nobody.

 

So as soon as they got to the old ice palace, the guards laughed when a kid asked about their lord at first.

They didn't laugh when the kid smeared them on the walls, then repeated this process with more and more guards.

 

Standing before the large doors of the hall, Luo Binghe sent a frisson of spiritual energy and watched the carved dragons move on the wood as they opened up.

That door and the reception hall behind it was an old relic of their kind.

Feed spiritual energy to it and if you have a certain type of blood, the dragons will obey you.

 

And Luo Binghe had the exact blood type needed to make that happen.

“You know kid, we should leave, I mean, this is the palace of a Demon Lord…” The weakling behind him babbled and Binghe restrained a scoff.

The door finally opened up and he strode in without waiting for a moment.

 

Mobei-jun was sitting on a dais, frigid eyes staring out over the empty hall, straight at the two interlopers. The ice demon raised his head and stood up slowly, the air growing colder and colder until Luo Binghe’s breathing was visible in small puffs.

 

The ice demon’s spiritual energy was cutting and cold as ice and the beast behind Luo Binghe shivered and curled up into a small ball.

 

“... Who?” 

Luo Binghe remembered one thing he occasionally disliked about his… whatever Mobei-jun was in his previous life. He couldn’t be called talkative even at the best of times.

Dragging words out of him with forceps seemed an awfully inviting option.

 

Binghe didn’t answer, just walked up to him, eyes on the empty throne on top of the podium with a single-minded determination. When he passed the ice demon, there was suddenly a black sword resting against his throat.

 

The famed Black Ice sword.

Formed from the purest demonic energy and supposedly there were no defenses against it.

 

Binghe watched the blade carefully. It had been years since he had last seen this weapon even in his old timeline, as Mobei-jun never really summoned it before him after their first and only fight.

A wicked smirk spread across the child’s face and there was a light tap against the blade as it shattered into a million little shards.

 

Mobei-jun was even paler than his usual look and Binghe walked up to the throne unchallenged.

 

Sitting down, he looked over his once-subordinate staring at the destroyed indestructible sword, at the cowering beast who followed him inside the palace, at the hiding demons at the side.

 

Binghe tapped the throne’s arms, his eyes bled into crimson and he let loose his spiritual energy without mercy.

As the oppressive black Qi spread out over the palace and the surrounding territory, it was clear to anyone, that a new Demon Lord emerged.

 

“Kneel.” The command was issued from the mouth of the babe sitting on the throne and demons dropped down left and right without a fight.

 

Mobei-jun knelt too and Luo Binghe smiled over their bowed heads.

~~~

~~~

Chapter Text

Part Three

In which some children are actually wolves and not innocent lambs



It was several days before Shen Yuan was able to move around freely.

 

Well, semi-freely. 

Only in Qiong Ding and even then only in the inner courtyard of the Sect Master’s residence.

So the move freely thing was more like he could move around physically. 

And not about being able to leave the Peak itself.

 

Apparently, Qi deviations at the level he had could cripple a cultivator for years if not for their entire lives.

The late Shen Qingqiu was prone to them, but he never had one which was so catastrophically bad as this last one was.

 

Or at least that was what he gathered from Mu Qingfang’s rant.

“You were incredibly lucky to be still alive while your root bone is destroyed and your cultivation was regressed to this point! Do not roll your eyes at me, regrowing spiritual roots is dangerous and are you even listening right now?”

 

He wasn’t.

Listening that is.

 

While it was all very interesting and any other day he would be beside himself to hear things like this and he would have a thousand questions for Mu Qingfang… 

Currently, he felt like everything was still muted like it was all just a big joke.

And he was still waiting for the punchline.

 

He was dead.
He transmigrated.

He was in a novel now.

A novel that he liked to call a flaming trash fire on his better days.

This AB(/O) harem novel that was so badly written that he wanted to weep.

The novel he ranted about in his reviews, where he frequently offered to buy Airplane a subscription to an online spell checker. And a grammar book.

The same novel.

 

But he was dead...

 

And that was when he suddenly realized something. 

Maybe… the transmigration wasn’t his main issue in any of this.

Maybe it wasn’t that at all. Or not quite all of it.

It was the fact that he had to die for it to happen.

 

“Enough, Mu Qingfang.” Yue Qingyuan cut in sharply. His grey eyes were on the more and more unresponsive Qing Jing Peak Lord though. “Shen Qingqiu will rest more and he will resume his duties once his cultivation was up-to-speed. That shouldn’t take long with his new constitution.”

 

Mu Qingfang snorted and started packing the medicinal bag he brought into Qiong Ding. 

“Yes, it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ll look up herbs for his future heats. Meanwhile, it would be prudent to get Lord Qingha to release some of the spelled silks.” In his favor, he didn’t try to touch Shen Yuan, not after their somewhat disastrous first meeting. Even if he was a healer, he was still an unfamiliar Alpha. Shen Yuan could tell his gender even though it wasn’t specified in the original novel. 

 

Heat. He would have heats?

Oh, he didn’t have his blockers.

He had no idea how Omegas’ heats were managed here.

What did they even look like? 

How did they even feel like?

Shit.

 

He had no comparison to draw on, his heats were not really heats. 

He only had a mild period ever since he presented, his meds made sure of that.

 

Fucking fuck.

Heats meant mating. 

He was not ready for that. Someone touching him, someone he barely knew?

It was one thing to imagine falling into your favorite book, to meet your favorite characters… but that was just a fantasy. Nothing more. 

These were all strangers around him, he literally knew none of them. 

They were just characters to him from a fucking web novel.

And they didn’t know him either, they knew the original Shen Qingqiu. Shen Jiu.

They didn’t care about him, Shen Yuan.

Every interaction he will have with them will be shaded by that knowledge, that they saw him as Shen Qingqiu, whom they knew previously.

 

He didn’t want them to touch him.

He didn’t want to fuck them. 

He didn’t want to bond with them. 

He didn’t want any of that!

 

“I have no idea how to be an Omega. I don’t want heats. I don’t want to mate!” He mumbled, partly to himself, partly to Yue Qingyuan who seemed a bit like he was also not feeling that great about some of the mentioned things.

“Then you don’t have to.” He hurried to either assure or placate him, without touching him, one hand hovering over his shoulders. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

“You are too young for any of us and too high-ranking for anyone else in Cang Qiong and the surrounding area.” Mu Qingfang snorted. “I’ll make some pills and you won’t need to worry about that anymore.”

 

Shen Yuan looked at the healer, at the soothing air around him.

It managed to calm him down more than anything Yue Qingyuan did or said.

He nodded in response and watched the healer and their Sect Leader leave his room, talking about spells and scrolls.

He slumped over, tossing his hastily braided long-as-fuck hair over his shoulders.

 

Stuck in a harem novel, a harem novel like Proud Immortal Demon’s Way?

Having to deal with his Omega nature when he didn’t even know how to do that in his world where he actually knew the rules?

 

And that was just this whole mess of his sex. 

This world… he didn’t know how to deal with any of it.

He just. It was just.

A bit not good.

 

He couldn’t mess up more than the original Shen Qingqiu did, he was sure of that at least.

Though that meant nothing if the original already did his villainous deeds and Binghe was already blackened.

Did that even matter? 

 

If Binghe was blackened, he only had maybe months to live before he would end up as a human stick. To only have months to live once again, that was a strange thing to consider.

Maybe weeks or even less than that.

Maybe more. Years, decades, centuries.

Maybe he managed to arrive before any of that happened, and Binghe wasn’t yet a blackened protagonist.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

It was all speculation at this point.

 

He needed to get back to his Peak and start figuring things out, like a timeline.

Settings that weren’t included in the novel.

Characters and relationships that were glossed over.

He could only take everything one step at a time.

 

He was truly and utterly fucked, wasn’t he?

~~~

 

A few years passed since Binghe started taking over the Demon Realm. 

It went a bit slower than the last time he did it.

Okay, much slower.

 

And that wasn’t very surprising as he didn’t quite have the same assets he did previously. 

He didn’t have his original body... which was unfortunate on several levels.

Physical confrontations were messier, while several situations could have been solved easier.

Like with a liberal amount of charm or seduction.

 

Neither of which worked when he was six years old.

A rather adorable child, but still a child.

 

The few who tried anything sexual with him (or any other child he saw) met a grisly end. Luo Binghe didn’t tolerate pedophiles in any shape or form.

 

With Mobei-jun as his underling, Luo Binghe wasn’t bound to one location anymore. He and his mother could move anywhere on the continent.

His trusty ice demon ever-present and playing chauffeur, at his beck and call, 24/7.

 

So with his growing connections in the Demon Realm and their various human relations, it was quite easy to acquire a chance for the two-member family to move away from the Border.

 

In a fit of pique, Luo Binghe chose the city at the foot of the Cang Qiong Mountains.

Last time he only made the journey to his old Sect when the Disciple Selection happened and he was already 9-years-old.

 

Before that, he lived on the streets after his mother died during the previous winter.

That year, joining the Cang Qiong Sect saved him from starvation and freezing. Barely though, because some of the treatment at Qing Jing might have been on the same level. However, he was still just a simple child back then.

Not an adult in a kid’s body.

 

This time none of that will be an issue. 

He wouldn’t be orphaned, his mother would stay alive and live happily until she was old and grey.

He would make sure of that.

 

But he was still stuck in a child’s body and he couldn’t make too much trouble in this city, couldn’t throw his weight around too much.

If he did, it would spread around quickly and the cultivators of Cang Qiong would come down from their peaks to investigate the rumors.

 

So Luo Binghe lurked around in the shadows. 

Nobody knew about the growing Demon Lord in their midst and it caused situations like the one he was currently in.

 

Luo Binghe when he was six years old, was a rather… pretty child. Petite. 

One could even call him angelic looking. 

(Which was rather ironic considering his father’s race.)

 

A perfect little white lotus.

It made a lot of adults coo over him, once upon a time his older disciple sisters and brothers did that too. 

It also made him a target of bullying from kids closer to his age.

“Just because they believed your lies doesn’t mean that you are anything, but a filthy bastard!” One of them shouted at him as two others held him from the sides, the bag of rice he went out to buy scattered on the ground. He watched the gleaming white seeds and sighed.

He hated wasting food.

 

“Listen to me when I’m talking, you you… you trash!” The boy before him screamed into his face. Binghe watched how his expression warped when he only smiled softly back.

If he was free to act if only he could do whatever he wanted to do… this little idiot would already be dead.

 

But in this case, he would have to settle for ruining all of their families’ fortune after he got away from the trio. They would never know what happened to turn the tides against them so strongly, but their parents should have educated their sons better.

And Binghe would laugh until he was blue in the face.

 

His silence infuriated the ringleader even more and he grabbed Binghe by his hair. The half-demon felt himself freeze and had to bite down on his growing canines in his fight against himself not to squash the child before him.

 

He was about to open his mouth to rip him a new one when someone beat him to it.

“Just what do you think you are doing?”

~~~

 

Shen Yuan managed to evade his chaperone for the afternoon.

 

It wasn’t that hard, bless Liu Qingge’s one-track mind, he got away to explore the city alone for a bit.

He knew that his little adventure away from the overprotective Peak Lords would not last long, but that thought made it all the more pleasurable. 

 

He didn’t even realize at first what had the Cang Qiong peaks in such a frenzy about him.

Why would it be dangerous for him to go out into the city alone for example?

 

He believed that he was a grown man, he didn’t need to be escorted like he was a child.

 

What he told years ago to Mu Qingfang still applied.

He didn’t know how to be an Omega. 

His medication made him a Beta in hormones pretty much. He never really experienced a regular heat, his cycle was pretty much non-existent and he dreaded figuring out what being an Omega was like in this world.

 

Some things were similar to his old world, he had the same piping he did in his original body for example, but there were differences.

Mostly cultural ones.

 

In his world Omegas were somewhat in the minority; there weren’t too many of them compared to Alphas and Betas. Mostly because of discrimination and some historical practices that decimated the Omega population in certain eras.

 

Yet, they still weren’t as rare as they were in this novel.

He remembered reading Proud Immortal Demon’s Way and lamenting that there weren’t any Omegas in it. Which was kind of a blessing, because Shen Yuan dreaded to see what that shitty author would do to his gender. 

His gender that already had quite a lot of trouble in real life for things beyond their control, especially with stereotypes that still caused so much damage to all of them.

 

The only Omega in the entire series was Su Xianyan, Luo Binghe’s mother. Wait, no. Not even Su Xianyan’s status was explicitly stated.

No one in the harem was an Omega either.

He didn’t quite remember all the wives. It would have been a miracle to remember all of them, especially when their number reached into the hundreds and most of them disappeared into obscurity after they had their papapa scenes.

But the reader forum would have blown up if they had confirmation of an Omega character.

 

That’s why there was someone who edited the tags and updated them to display the novel as a strictly Alpha-Beta story one time. That tag was removed, Airplane made a forum post then locked the tags quickly after that.

 

So Omegas existed in Proud Immortal Demon’s Way, there was some lore regarding their spiritual energy, but they were much too rare. Supposedly.

Plenty of Betas and Alphas, no Omegas in sight. 

 

There were quite a few fan discussions regarding the peerless beauty, Liu Mingyan’s gender, but she was an Alpha. She was the most popular of Binghe’s wives.

Even little Ning Yingying was a Beta. So the original love triangle was between a female Beta, a male Alpha, and a female Alpha.

 

And it was a triangle. 

There were throwaway lines that indicated that Mingyan (who was hands down Shen Yuan’s favorite wife in the novel) had an interest in Yingying and that interest was reciprocated. Only when the author wanted to add in a threesome, but still.

 

So Shen Yuan as an Omega was a rarity in this world. 

 

When Shen Qingqiu went into his 'closed cultivation', meaning his year-long coma, Cang Qiong closed its doors to the general public and only left some communication channels open.

No one who wasn't a disciple could move around the mountains. 

Only inner disciples could get into the peaks.

 

After he woke up, and the first few weeks passed and he got a clean bill of health, he collected himself outwardly and did everything to start relearning things he should have known as a Peak Lord.

 

It wasn’t wholly successful, but his Qi deviation gave him a pretty good cover, especially compounded with his ‘extensive memory loss’.

He moved to Qing Jing as soon as he could, even if everything in the ancient setting was still quite unfamiliar to him.

 

When he went back to his Peak, Yue Qingyuan strengthened all the arrays and the entirety of his peak became one impenetrable fortress from that day.

The most secure place in all of Cang Qiong easily, even more protected than Yue Qingyuan’s residence!

 

And for a while no day passed without said Sect Master showing up at his door, checking on him. Or Mu Qingfang checking on him.

It might have been touching if they were actually worried about him and not Shen Qingqiu.

Or well, Yue Qingyuan was worried about his Xiao Jiu, while Mu Qingfang was acting as a healer who was pestered by his boss to check on said boss’ ward.

 

Because that's pretty much what he was. 

Yue Qingyuan was acting like a worried older brother, or more like a worried father to him occasionally. Shen Yuan didn’t know Yue Qingyuan’s age but he would bet it was around at least a century. Or more.

 

Shen Yuan being in his twenties was a lot closer in age to the disciples of Cang Qiong than any of the Peak Lords.

It would have been logical to have a new Peak Lord, someone else, instead of him, but there was no one who could take over.

 

Even with his cultivation being shattered and regressed by several levels, he didn’t have a Head Disciple who could take over for him. 

His few disciples were even younger than he thought and fewer than he remembered from the novel.

 

The other Peak Lords had no desire to take over another Peak and bringing in an outsider was out of the question.

 

So it became clear quickly that he was the baby of the group, all of them the same age or around the same age Yue Qingyuan was, as they were from the same generation.

And the Peak Lords closed their ranks around him almost immediately once his change was announced during a meeting which was called when he regained his consciousness.

 

Not because they liked him so, but for the security of their Sect, of their Mountains.

 

He took over his Peak on the surface almost immediately, but his duties were lightened for several months and he frequently drove himself into the ground trying to catch up to all that had been lost when he transmigrated.

And he did.

 

But even with the specially woven fabrics covering him almost head to toe, even with his tightly controlled suppressor schedule, his evolving sword skills and spell usage… he still wasn't allowed to leave the Sect.

 

Cang Qiong was a cage.

It was no better than the hospital was.

And he was through with staying there cooped up.

 

Shen Yuan wanted to ask whether all of this was because it was Shen Qingqiu who ended up an Omega? Would this secrecy, this coddling happen if it was anyone else who had the same gender?

Or was it because of Yue Qingyuan's regard for Shen Jiu? 

What was going on there? What happened? Between them, Yue Qingyuan and Shen Jiu.

Shen Yuan was painfully aware that Yue Qingyuan was an Alpha, his Sect Master and supposedly an older man who grew up 'with him'.

 

There were a lot of feelings on Yue Qingyuan's end, but Shen Yuan was quite uncomfortable because he couldn’t see him as anything other than a brother figure. A father figure.

And that made him feel very, very awkward in his presence.

 

He couldn't take Yue Qingyuan’s help, his generosity without starting to think that there was something more behind the gestures.

There was definitely something in the way he looked at Shen Yuan sometimes. Something that made him feel like prey.

 

So when the Sect Master’s duties couldn’t be put off any further, Shen Yuan always ran back to his Peak like the hounds of Hell were on his heels.

Metaphorically speaking.

 

In reality, he sauntered away as soon as he could and spent the next few months dodging most attempts at interactions with fellow Peak Lords and tried to gain a better handle on his new-found powers.

And mentored his disciples.

Did he mention that he didn’t have too many of them? Luckily.

Thank fuck.

 

Cang Qiong only accepted disciples every few years and Shen Qingqiu only accepted one teen during the last selection.

And among his handful of current disciples, there weren’t many familiar names. 

They weren’t actually named characters in the novel.

He wanted to repeat, no named characters! 

No Ning Yingying, no Ming Fan!

 

That might have meant that they were early in the novel before the plot even started!

That might have meant that Binghe wasn’t even a speckle in his parents’ eyes… Shen Yuan couldn’t know for sure, but for once he had a good feeling about all of this transmigration business.

 

So he learned, he taught his handful of disciples, he cultivated and lived his days calmly. 

 

After a year of this, he approached Mu Qingfang about some remedies he had read in one of the scrolls. The healer and he worked together from then on and Shen Qingqiu finally managed to get permission to leave the Peaks on smaller errands.

 

Every once in a while. While being accompanied by another Peak Lord.

 

At first, it was always Yue Qingyuan, whom Shen Yuan was conflicted about, so he didn’t like to spend more time with him. People around the city also got more edgy with the Sect Leader of Cang Qiong eating and/or drinking in their dining establishments. Shopping in their shops.

Thank fuck, Yue Qingyuan couldn’t leave behind the Mountains just willy-nilly like that.

 

When Shen Yuan’s errand and Yue Qingyuan packed schedule couldn’t work together, it was Qi Qinggi who accompanied him. She seemed pretty neutral about Shen Qingqiu.

She also terrified him a bit, she had the same boss ass bitch attitude and air that Shen Yuan’s aunt had.

 

And then Liu Qingge turned up in the rotation too, and he might have hated Shen Qingqiu’s guts. The original one’s. It didn’t come to blows, not ever since he woke up, but Shen Yuan was aware that all was not quite well between the two of them. And he was wary because he was sure that someone who was the Peak Lord of the combat Peak and named a War God, would be able to wipe the floor with him.

Without even breaking a sweat.

 

So aside from those rendezvous, Shen Yuan didn’t interact much with the Bai Zhan Peak Lord. Certainly not enough to figure out his feelings, but he knew that by the plot, that he, Shen Qingqiu, would be Liu Qingge’s murderer in the end.

 

Not that Shen Yuan would kill their Sect’s resident War God.

 

He wasn’t about to become a child molester and he wouldn’t become a murderer if he could help it. So far there was nothing that told him that he would have to be either one day. 

And he had no desire or reason to follow the shitty plot of Shen Qingqiu.

 

In novels with a transmigration theme, the MC usually was bound to follow a set of rules. 

Like can’t be too OOC or there were fixed plot points. 

All enforced by the Transmigration System.

 

On his worst days, he wondered how long he had to live this calm life. Whether the System would show up only when the novel’s plot starts?

He figured that was a possibility that contact with the protagonist could jumpstart it. 

However, he hoped that it would never happen.

 

He wondered whether he could get away from it all?

Just let him live his second life without worry, free and healthy and as far away from the protagonist as possible.

 

Even if being the Peak Lord of Qing Jing Peak guaranteed some of those already. While that was a cage and the Binghe would show up sooner or later... he wasn’t sure that he could ever be free in this world. Not with the spellwork and the medicine he needed monthly to hide his Omega nature. 

 

And he wasn’t sure whether there was a safe place from Binghe, because he would become the Demon Lord above all eventually.

So maybe leaving Cang Qiong would just postpone the inevitable by a few years.

 

So he decided to enjoy these years as much as he could.

If that meant slipping away from his minders whenever he could… then he would do that.

 

He was a Peak Lord after all. The second strongest Peak’s Master.

And the city below their Mountains was within their territory.

 

He didn’t think that anything too horrible or strong for him to deal with would dwell so close to their Sect, deep within their influence.

And if there was something stronger... his minder for the day was always a shout away. Or he could just run away back to the Mountains if needed.

That was an option too.

He cared not if he had to make a speedier exit, flash an ankle or two.

 

It wouldn’t even destroy his reputation, because the prohibitions on him (most of them woven into the enchanted silks of his clothing) made it impossible for people to realize that it was Shen Qingqiu under the weimao.

The veil was a bit of a bastard to deal with, but he could still see through it and if it made the Peak Lords happy?

He would deal with it.

 

So he got himself some tanghulu and walked around the bazaar looking at the wares. Occasionally nodding at the locals who recognized him as a visitor they saw a few times already. His whole get-up made his figure pretty memorable after all.

 

Suddenly there was a sharp spike of spiritual energy. 

Not much, just a tiny bit, but it caught his attention immediately.

And that didn’t make sense, because no other cultivator he knew aside from Qingge was supposedly in the city at this time.

And it wasn’t Qingge’s lightning and water flavored double spiritual root.

He turned to the alley where it seemed to come from and hesitated for a second before he walked in.

 

His curiosity might kill him one day.

Hopefully, not that day.

 

After a few seconds, he came upon the scene of four little boys in the middle of trying to beat up the fifth one.

 

Shen Yuan stood there a few seconds just taking it all in, his mouth agape at the vitriol spewing out of the mouth of the ringleader. Just what were they teaching him at home?!

When he got ready to hit the boy who was already on the ground, Shen Yuan couldn’t not interfere.

 

“Just what do you think you are doing?”

~~~

 

The moment his bullies realized that an adult was watching what they were doing, they scattered like frightened birds before a hawk.

 

Luo Binghe stood up and looked at his rescuer.

 

White clothing, layers upon layers and a veil which made his gaze just slide away from the face behind it.

He scrunched his eyebrows and with a small amount of Qi concentrated into his eyes, he could see green eyes flashing before a prohibition slammed into his spiritual energy.

He staggered a bit from the backslash and went down on one knee.

 

There was a slender hand under his elbows, helping him up gently and Luo Binghe looked up at the man.

He didn’t make the same mistake of trying to peer through the bans again. He wasn’t an idiot and he didn’t become an Emperor by ignoring his own limits.

 

“Are you alright?” The man asked, softly and it was slightly familiar. Like he heard the voice before, years and years ago. Possibly in his other life, because he would have remembered the man before him.

That outfit by itself was something he wouldn't forget just like that.

 

(Later on, he wouldn’t be able to recall the voice of the veiled man. That was probably because of a spell too.)

 

The person before him was someone very high-ranked; the clothing was luxurious in material and design, the spell arrays numerous and high-leveled. So obviously, either someone very powerful or the beloved of someone very powerful.

 

It wouldn’t hurt to know someone who could have this much importance placed on his person.

 

Binghe nodded, then smiled, his charm turned on fully.

“Yes!” He ducked his head, his cheeks dusted with red. “Thank you, Uncle!”

He bit his lips then peered up through his eyelashes at the man and took a gamble. He wanted to know whether the man behind the veil was someone he knew in his previous life or just familiar.

“Can this Binghe ask his savior’s name?”

 

The veiled man briefly hesitated before the soft voice responded.

“Shen Yuan.”

 

Shen? He only ever met one person with that family name. His ‘beloved’ teacher. He couldn’t imagine him helping someone. Shen Qingqiu flaunted his connections in the city, Luo Binghe knew that well. He used the man’s frequent visits to the red-light districts to further blacken his teacher’s image years and years ago.

 

So maybe this was that man’s relative? Did Shen Qingqiu have anyone like that? He thought he remembered Qiu Haitang mentioning that the immortal Peak Lord was a gutter rat taken in as a servant. There were no mentions of long-lost relatives. Ever.

 

He needed to figure this thing out. 

He smiled, blushed further, and played around with his fingers, projecting shy and bashful child masterfully.

“Is Mister Shen Yuan a relative of the esteemed Peak Lord?” He asked, then waited.

 

“Esteemed… Peak Lord?” The man asked softly after a little time passed. Binghe could hear something he thought was confusion.

 

“Yes! Peak Lord Shen…” He started out saying before there was a sudden movement and someone landed between the two of them.

Separating the veiled figure and the somewhat dirty child decisively.

 

The new man had a high ponytail, a beautiful face with a severe scowl and a spiritual sword out. It didn’t take too much for Binghe to recognize Mingyan in his features.

This was one of the Lius and there was only one Liu who should be around Cang Qiong at this time. The famed War God of Bai Zhan Peak.

Liu Qingge, Mingyan’s beloved and dead older brother. Whom Binghe never really met.

 

“What are you doing here.” The man asked turning toward the self-claimed Shen Yuan, his blade almost touching Binghe’s chest. The Demon Lord watched the gleaming edge with narrowed eyes. 

 

Placating hands rose and the veiled man took a step closer to the Peak Lord who radiated displeasure.

“Qingge…” Quick steps took him to stand between them and he pushed down the arm holding the sword. “Do not point that at the child. He is no danger.”

 

Liu Qingge scoffed and with a fleeting look at Binghe, he sheathed the sword. Then with a few minutes of staring at the veiled figure, he turned away with a huff and Shen Yuan seemed to unwind a bit. Binghe felt like he was missing something.

“Get going. We have to be back soon.” Then with that, he walked a few steps away and started looking around.

However, it didn’t escape Binghe’s attention that he didn’t leave.

 

Was this man the reason why Shen Qingqiu murdered Liu Qingge last time? Maybe some family dispute?

A doomed love story between Mingyan's brother and his murderous rival's relative?!

~~~

 

Binghe didn’t realize that his appearance resembled someone seeing a juicy soap opera unfurling in his mind, but Shen Yuan did and raised an eyebrow behind his veil.

Who would have thought that Binghe was such a cute child in reality?

 

Such a fluffy little lamb, so small and precious!

~~~

~~~

Chapter Text

Part Four

In which there are new disciples in Cang Qiong

 

On the way back, Shen Yuan was ready to just give up all pretense of dignity and cling to Liu Qingge with all his might.

 

He didn’t have a sword, not anymore.

He learned a few weeks after he woke up that Shen Qingqiu’s sword, Xiu Ya, cracked and shattered during one of his many Qi deviations while he was in a coma.

 

Both Mu Qingfang and Wei Qingwei didn’t find anything strange in that.

 

With his cultivation all but destroyed, it was kind of a given that the famous sword of the Qing Jing Peak Lord wouldn’t work for him anymore, not in its original form.

 

Each disciple went to Wan Jian Peak at a certain stage in their cultivation and got a sword. After that, they train and their spiritual sword gets stronger as their cultivation does. 

It changes too, entwining with their spiritual energy, gaining certain characteristics. 

 

Changing from their somewhat default state to fit their chosen owners more as they progressed.

 

It was a spiritual weapon that would gain something resembling sentience as the decades, centuries went by.

 

A cultivator’s sword was tied to their owner’s cultivation, their essence. This was the reason why they shattered when their owner’s cultivation was destroyed… or when they died.

 

So yeah, it didn’t raise any alarms in any of the Peak Lords.

Honestly, in his opinion, it was kind of sad how easily the original Shen Qingqiu was replaced. Nobody realized that he was gone and it made Shen Yuan feel even more like he was a cuckoo in the nest.

 

But in the end, presently, the breaking of Xiu Ya meant that he currently had no sword to fly on. 

Because of this, he was reliant on the other Peak Lords for transportation too and that made him feel even more like a bird in a cage.

He had no way to leave on his own, even if the whole chaperone thing wasn’t made into an unskippable rule by their Sect Leader.

 

So here they were, him and Liu Qingge, flying on a sword. 

 

Shen Yuan had one of his hands clutched around Liu Qingge’s arm, the other clutching his veiled hat to his chest.

It wasn’t a position that was very stable or safe. 

 

Honestly, he felt like he could fall off with a stiff breeze, but Qingge had this aura of wanting to be hundreds of miles away rather than have further physical contact with him.

While he didn’t actually want to fall off the sword, he wasn’t ready to be thrown down even less.

He could deal with a little bit of instability.

 

“Why did the boy call you that?” Liu Qingge asked completely out of the blue while Shen Yuan tried to get his hair out of his mouth without dropping his stuff. He might have made a questioning noise, he wasn’t sure. “When you told him goodbye he called you Yuan-ge. Why?”

 

Shen Yuan stopped moving to stare at his back for a few seconds.

“I told him that was my name.”

“Yuan-ge?” The War God of Bai Zhan prodded him with all the tact of a bull in a china shop.

“Shen Yuan.” 

 

What did it even matter?

They thought he was Shen Jiu. The older generation of the city at the foot of their mountains might remember the same name from when the original was still a disciple before he was named Peak Lord.

It was as good a reason as any to use what they considered an ‘alias’.

 

They didn’t need to know that he wanted to prove to himself that it was still him. Just for a few minutes to be Shen Yuan instead of Shen Qingqiu.

 

It wasn’t like the protagonist would even remember or realize that he met his possible future scum villain master previously. Or that he gave him a completely different name.

 

“Why that?” The man asked while almost crashing them into a tree because he turned back to look at him instead of WATCHING WHERE HE WAS FLYING!

 

“Lord Qingge!” And wow his voice went into such a high octave he didn’t think that he was capable of reaching that range.

“What?” He asked and they stopped so suddenly that Shen Yuan managed to get plastered to his back because of the momentum. He pressed a hand against his hurting nose to check whether he was bleeding, but there were no red smudges on his fingers. 

Or the pristine white of Liu Qingge’s coat.

 

It was a valid concern. 

He felt like his face met a concrete wall wrapped in silks.

There was no way that Liu Qingge under his robes wasn’t ripped as fuck.

 

“Stop looking at me while you are flying!” He snapped without thinking before he remembered that he was talking back at a Peak Lord who was decades if not a century his senior and who could crush him easily.

Or just yeet him down to the ground if he managed to anger him.

 

He would probably survive that, he thought as he measured the distance to the ground from the corner of his eyes.

He didn’t want to try his luck.

 

“We have stopped. Why Shen Yuan?” Liu Qingge was one infuriating man, he had to admit that. Shen Yuan suddenly knew that they were going nowhere until he answered.

 

“I don’t know, it just slipped out!” And that was the most basic truth. He didn’t think when he panicked, he just gave the tiny bun version of the protagonist his real name. That was the first thing that came to his mind when he realized that he can’t say he was Shen Qingqiu.

 

“Oh.” And with that Shen Yuan almost fell off once again, when they went back to speed up the mountain.

 

He watched his hat flutter to the ground while clinging to the back of Liu Qingge.

“Stop! My veil!” But they were already hundreds of meters away.

“You have several of them.” Liu Qingge huffed, but he still turned his sword around without further complaining.

“That’s my favorite one.” Shen Yuan told him shamelessly leaning over him to scan the ground for the white fabric.

 

“It’s not.”

Shen Yuan looked at the man with a raised eyebrow. Liu Qingge stared back at him without blinking.

“It’s not. You don’t like any of them.”

It was stated plainly and Shen Yuan couldn’t refute that. He was surprised that Liu Qingge of all people would be able to see that, but he wasn’t surprised about being confronted in this way by him.

 

“I don’t like them. But that one is still the easiest to see-through, so help me find it.”

~~~

 

They spent a few hours just combing through the forest on the mountainside, in search of it and found it ripped in a  few places, but still mostly intact. It was hanging on some tree branches. 

 

Shen Yuan finally got most of it untangled when Liu Qingge got fed up and just broke the entire branch before offering it all to him.

Talk about being an overkill.

 

They touched the ground at the entrance of Qing Jing Peak where a frazzled-looking Yue Qingyuan was waiting for them.

“You are late! Are you okay, what happened? ” The first thing out of his mouth was a reprimand and Shen Yuan wanted to hide behind Liu Qingge a bit. 

Just a little bit. 

 

“I dropped my hat and Lord Liu was gracious enough in helping me find it.” Shen Yuan told their fretting Sect Leader.

He wasn’t sure how Yue Qingyuan would take it if it came out that he dropped his hat because Liu Qingge was being a kind of irresponsible driver with him in the ‘backseat’.

 

Probably ban them both from going anywhere together, ever again.

Very likely that he would find a way to punish the Bai Zhan Peak Lord.

 

So appreciate it, Liu Qingge, he thought with a small glare at the oblivious Peak Lord’s back.

 

“I’m leaving.” The ungrateful Bai Zhan Lord told them before he hopped back onto his sword and got ready to leave.

 

“Qingge. We have another one of those situations.” Yue Qingyuan’s words stopped him in his tracks and he hovered a meter over the ground looking back.

“Do I have to beat someone up?” He asked with visible annoyance and Yue Qingyuan sighed and shook his head.

 

“Not yet. You might be able to track them though, come with me.” He motioned towards Qiong Ding Peak. “Qingqiu you should come with us too.”

 

Shen Yuan nodded calmly, though inside he was burning with curiosity. 

What situation could this be?

Did someone break into the Sect and steal something?

Was there a traitor - aside from Shang Qinghua - revealed? 

 

“Yes, Sect Leader.” And then he waited for either of them. And waited. With a raised eyebrow at the other Peak Lords, he crossed his arms.

Yue Qingyuan and Liu Qingge continued watching each other.

 

And Shen Yuan got fed up, turned his back on them and left.

He would walk, it would be faster than waiting for those two to figure out what they wanted to do.

 

He was halfway down the stairs of Qing Jing when Liu Qingge caught up with him followed by Yue Qingyuan a few meters back. 

 

Liu Qingge caught him by his waist and Shen Yuan couldn’t even scream as he was tossed over his shoulders and landed on Cheng Luan.

He hid his internal freak out at being grabbed like that, at being thrown like that, at almost falling…

“QINGGE!” Or he didn’t. That was him, once again. Scolding someone who was completely unrepentant and obtuse. “Don’t do that.”

 

Though he had to admit that it was cool, how he landed right behind him on the sword without it stopping or slowing down.

 

“Qingge. Please, restrain yourself from throwing your fellow Peak Lords around like that.” Yue Qingyuan would have been the voice of reason if his smile wasn’t something terrifying.

Shen Yuan was sure that he would have nightmares for weeks about that face.

 

Qingge didn’t care too much though, he just grunted and they sped away to the First Peak.

When they’ve arrived Mu Qingfang was already waiting there with Shang Qinghua wringing his hands. Qi Qingqi was touching down a few seconds after them and with a nod, she went inside.

 

“Sect Leader Qingyuan!” Shang Qinghua called out, his voice almost breaking on Yue Qingyuan’s name.

Shen Yuan watched the nervous man from his spot next to Liu Qingge, noting the way he darted a glance at them. Shang Qinghua’s eyes widened and he jerked his gaze away almost before Shen Yuan caught him looking. 

 

He did have to wonder about the man. Knowing that he was in league with Mobei-jun, was this the case even now? 

Years before Binghe’s arrival to the Sect?

Was the man already a traitor or just someone with a somewhat nervous disposition?

He didn’t know.

 

If he was already a spy, did he tell his Demon Lord what happened to Shen Qingqiu? Should he be even more guarded against him, or just the general awkwardness would suffice faced with someone he knew was going to betray all of them one day?

 

“The child is inside.” Mu Qingfang reported without any greetings aside from small nods. He also handed a small jade bottle to Liu Qingge. “This was the only trace of spiritual energy I found on her, it’s extremely faint. She was almost hypothermic.”

 

Liu Qingge nodded, squeezed his hands around the bottle and left the way they came, holding out the bottle like it was a compass.

So it was a spell then, something used to track the owner of the Qi inside it.

 

Those who stayed strode into the room, where Qi Qingqi looked down into the small bed.

A little girl was inside, deathly pale, her small chest barely rising up and down.

 

Shen Yuan stood over her before he crouched down to look at her face.

Maybe three or four years old, but she might have been more than malnourished and underdeveloped for her age.

 

He placed a hand under her nose to see whether she was breathing. She was, it felt like a butterfly flapping its wings, but she was breathing.

Shen Yuan brushed a hand over her forehead, ignoring the slight sting of static on his fingers.

Interesting.

 

“What happened? Who is she?” He asked not taking his eyes off her. She was so young.

What was she doing in their Sect?

 

“Every once in a while they leave kids at our doorstep.” Qi Qingqi explained standing tall with a foreboding expression on her face. “Never so young though.”

 

“What do you do with them?” Shen Yuan asked half-heartedly. Cang Qiong probably couldn’t accept them as disciples. Otherwise, both the outer and inner disciple ranks would be filled with abandoned kids whose parents were hoping that they could get their kids into an influential Sect like theirs. Without them having to pass the Disciple Selection.

 

“Some of them who show aptitude stay as outer disciples and work their way up the ranks. We end up taking most of them to one of the city’s orphanages.” Mu Qingfang said while he was taking her pulse gently.

 

“So she is going to be an orphan?” Shen Yuan watched her little face and he didn’t know how would she live.

This world wasn’t nice to those powerless and an orphan girl was in even more danger.

 

Slavery, starvation, trafficking, prostitution were all possibilities, just to name a few.

Without powerful backers, without an influential name, without money, without education… how could she avoid those pitfalls? How long would she be able to remain a child?

There was no way she could escape that.

 

“Yes. Whoever abandoned her probably wouldn’t take her back.” Yue Qingyuan told him and Shen Yuan shook his head. “Xiao Jiu… She is too young.”

 

“She has a lightning affinity.” He told their Sect Leader, looking him right in the eyes. “She would die out there or worse by the time the next Disciple Selection happened.”

 

Cocking his head to the side, his voice held a rarely heard steel core since his awakening in this world.

“I think having a heavenly spiritual root would classify as passing whatever aptitude requirements we had for new disciples, isn’t that right?” 

 

Yue Qingyuan looked apologetic but unyielding.

“Xiao Jiu. She is still too young.”

 

“Qingqiu, I’m not going to take her in. Neither will the others.” Qi Qingqi declared and Mu Qingfang avoided his eyes too. Shang Qinghua looked like he was trying to melt into the wallpaper. 

“Don’t even look at me, I have no place for children on my Peak. All my disciples are teens at least.” Wei Qingwei told them while leaning back on the chair he was sitting on.

 

Shen Yuan looked at the little girl helplessly.

 

He was an Omega sure, but he had no idea how to raise a child. 

He wasn’t even sure he even wanted to have a kid and it wasn’t like he was overcome with parental feelings at the sight of her.

It wasn’t instincts. Well, not that kind.

He was sure that she would die if she couldn’t stay at Cang Qiong.

 

He couldn’t live with his conscience if he let an innocent, defenseless child get thrown to the wolves without even trying anything.

 

He closed his eyes, sighed, then stood up resolutely.

Maybe he was rushing into things. 

Maybe he wasn’t thinking things through.

 

But at least he wouldn’t stand at the side while others spouted empty words.

 

He looked down at the little girl, ignoring Yue Qingyuan’s tentative call of his name. Well, the original’s name. 

Not his, never his.

 

And then he leaned down and gathered the little girl in his arms, blankets and all, and strode out of the room.

 

“Xiao Jiu! What are you doing?!” Yue Qingyuan rushed out after him after a few seconds, some of the other Peak Lords peeking out of the room too.

“I'm taking her in.” Shen Yuan stated without turning back. 

Yue Qingyuan was suddenly before him and he had to look up to meet the Alpha’s eyes.

“Xiao Jiu, you are just a child yourself.” 

 

Maybe it wanted to be coaxing, a reminder about his age? Maybe it was supposed to be a rebuke from an elder to rethink his hasty decision?

Whatever was the original intent behind those words, it didn’t matter.

They just made him angry and disgusted.

 

They had the means to take care of a child, and they admitted that they’ve accepted several of these abandoned kids into their Sect if they passed their entrance test.

She had the aptitude. The only thing stopping them from letting her into the Sect as a disciple was her age. 

 

It would be too much of a hassle to raise someone so young?

Was that it?

 

They all knew what happened to pretty boys and girls in this world. They all knew about the monsters hiding inside their society… and they did nothing.

Content to look down from their Peaks like lofty immortals who had nothing to do with the suffering that went down below.

 

He pushed forward, chest to chest with his Sect Leader, glaring up at him.

“And you are all adults. Act like it.

And then he shrugged off the hand on his shoulder and left on foot.

 

He had no patience to wait for Yue Qingyuan to gather himself and frankly he didn’t want to see him after that. He didn’t want to see most of them.

 

He wasn’t naive enough to think that he could save everyone, that if Cang Qiong was more open then no children would suffer anymore at least.

No, he knew that it was like trying to use a bucket against the incoming tide.

An impossible task.

 

But. 

He refused to just stand-by.

To just watch.

 

He adjusted his hold on the little girl, wrapping the blanket around her further. 

It was getting colder outside and he wondered how Binghe fared.

 

Was his mother able to keep him fed and warm?

He didn’t look hungry and his clothing wasn’t ragged from what he remembered. 

Nothing luxurious, but he was wearing several layers and all of them seemed appropriately warm.

 

“Qingqiu!” He turned to the voice calling out his name and saw Shang Qinghua flying up to him. Shen Yuan continued walking down the stairs. This climbing down was the easier part. He would have to make the same climb up to Qing Jing Peak and while his body was much stronger than previously, it was still a long way up.

One he couldn't have finished in his original body.

 

“Yes, Lord Qinghua?” He asked, voice flat and he didn’t spare a glance at the man hovering next to him, just concentrating on the steps. Tumbling down would hurt.

The girl more than him even if he tried to protect her body with his.

 

“I… I… I’ll take you back to Qing Jing!” He blurted out, then colored, then went white.

 

It was strange. 

It seemed kind of counterproductive to be a spy with such an expressive face. But maybe, it was all just part of an act.

 

Shen Yuan stopped and looked up at him weighing the pros and cons.

Pro, it would be only a few minutes if they were flying.

Cons, he would have to bear the presence of a man whose loyalty he was questioning already.

 

With each passing second, the man wilted further and further.

“Sure.”

“I understand that you don’t… wait, what?” Shang Qinghua blinked down in surprise.

 

Shen Yuan looked up at him placidly.

“I said, sure. Do you need your hearing checked, Lord Qinghua?”

~~~

 

He didn’t think that Shen Qingqiu would say yes.

He didn’t have a plan for this!

 

Even asking him was not planned, he just rushed out after the younger man without a thought and forgot for a second that it was Shen Qingqiu.

The same Shen Qingqiu he wrote dying in one of the most horrible ways he could think up.

 

That Shen Qingqiu.

 

None of this was planned, he didn’t remember writing any of this. 

He didn’t even think about any of this.

 

Shen Qingqiu was a Beta, who had unresolved romantic, sexual and historical tension with Yue Qingyuan their Alpha Sect Leader. It never got resolved, the two just drifted further and further away from each other, both of them trapped by their own insecurities about themselves.

Then Shen Qingqiu died at the hand of Luo Binghe and Yue Qingyuan gets murdered while trying to avenge him.

That should have been it.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Shang Qinghua sweated from having Luo Binghe’s future Master at his back, riding the same sword he did.

 

This Shen Qingqiu unsettled him more than he ever scared him before his latest bout of Qi deviations and his year-long coma. 

There was something different in the way he looked at all of them sometimes like he was a caged animal. Like he measured them and found them wanting.

Like he knew none of them from before.

 

Oh. He forgot for one second that this Shen Qingqiu didn’t have his memories.

Still.

 

Other than that, this Shen Qingqiu was an Omega and wasn’t that a kick in the face?

Binghe’s Master who was jealous of his disciple and his Alpha status was now a rare Omega.

 

He thought about telling it to his King, but what did it matter?

 

Okay, it mattered because it would be a blow against any Sect, noble House or Imperial Family if they lost an Omega, but it was also a secret only the Peak Lords of Cang Qiong knew. 

 

The moment a demon or anyone showed up trying to kidnap Shen Qingqiu, there would be fingers pointed. 

And he, Shang Qinghua, didn’t need that attention.

 

How did this happen? 

Why did this happen?

Was his transmigration the root cause of this deviation of the plot?

 

Would the plot even happen the same way, would he become the same scum villain master to Binghe like this?

Shang Qinghua didn’t think so.

 

He never wrote down how Ning Yingying got into Cang Qiong, only saying that she was younger than Binghe and she had been a disciple for longer than him.

In his first draft, there was more about her having a friendly relationship with the disciples of Xian Shu Peak because she was originally raised at that Peak.

Then she was sent to Qing Jing and the rest was history.

 

Another deviation of the plot and it happened right before his eyes.

 

She was younger, sure, but not this young.

Ning Yingying had no reason to be abandoned at Cang Qiong, yet.

 

When he saw her, he saw his life flash before him. 

Lives. Both of his lives.

 

The first wife of Luo Binghe, dead and frozen because for some reason she got thrown away at their doors years before she should have been left there.

 

He knew Cang Qiong’s stance on accepting disciples this young. 

He also knew that there was no way that any of the Peak Lords would take her in. 

None of them would raise such a young child.

 

He almost had an aneurysm while trying to think up anything that would fix the plot. Ning Yingying couldn’t die, Ning Yingying needed to be at the Sect, at the same time that Binghe was there. 

If she wasn’t, Binghe wouldn’t get accepted into the Sect.

If by some accident Binghe got into the Sect without her, he would die without her help, before his demonic heritage could awaken.

 

When Shen Qingqiu snapped at Yue Qingyuan and left with the child he was immensely relieved.

That man was the only one who could do whatever he wanted and their Sect Leader would only smile and nod softly. 

 

He hoped that Shen Qingqiu would never realize the power he held over all of their heads.

~~~

 

Shen Yuan closed his bamboo house’s door after Shang Qinghua dropped him with a stutter. 

The man was a nervous wreck.

 

Though if he had to keep his dealings with demons on the down-low while being surrounded by cultivators who were either spiritually or physically stronger than him, he would be a nervous wreck too.

 

There was also a touch of demonic aura on him and Shen Yuan felt on edge from the lingering feeling. It was cold. 

Colder than he thought anything could be.

That must be Mobei-jun’s Qi, which meant that he was already working with the demon. 

 

He placed the little girl down onto a pillow, piling some of his blankets around her after some hesitation. He didn’t think he should place her on his bed, so thick pillows would be it.

He sunk slightly and brushed her fringe out of her eyes. 

 

What would she look like when she woke up?

Would she be one of the unnamed characters who died meaninglessly in the original novel?

“Well… we’ll figure things out.” He said out loud, disturbing the quiet that settled over them.

 

He should make some food, so if… when she woke up, she could eat something.

He hated using the bullshit ancient stove he had in his kitchen, but needs were a must.

 

It’s not like he could order take-out or go eat out somewhere. 

His bamboo house didn’t have servants, it wasn’t like Yue Qingyuan’s bustling estate. It was small and cozy and just right for one person. Maybe two.

 

Qing Jing Peak had no servants either. All his disciples were on a rotating schedule of doing various chores alongside their studying and cultivation.

They needed to take care of themselves in most things.

So no, he had to feed himself.

 

It was something of an issue at first. He had never learned any of this in his previous life and everything looked very different from what he was used to. 

No convenient microwave, no electric kettle.

No instant ramen, no vegetable mixes.

 

From what he guessed, the original Shen Qingqiu didn’t care for cooking either.

 

But Shen Yuan managed to get a cookbook during one of his excursions into town and he read it through. Half of the book was useless to him or too advanced, but he found a few tips and recipes at the beginning.

 

After that, it was trial and error and he was grateful that his new body was so healthy compared to his old one. He didn’t know how many times did he manage to give himself food poisoning while he experimented.

 

He would never be a chef, but what he made was edible.

Most of the time.

 

So he got out a few carrots, started cooking some rice and made mush out of them. 

He tasted it, it was passable.

He added more salt and there was a slight tingle just in the periphery of his awareness that alerted him. 

 

His guest was awake and moving around.

 

She woke up somewhat confused in a small house and she went where her nose led her. 

Into a small kitchen.

 

There was an unfamiliar figure leaning over a stove and she clutched a soft blanket in her fists.

He smelled kind of strange, nothing like anyone she had ever met before, not her mother or her grandfather. Not like those people either.

 

The figure turned around and he was pretty, she guessed. 

Long, glossy black hair braided out of his face, clean skin without any blemishes.

 

He wiped his hands on a dishtowel and walked up to her. She instinctively took a step back before she straightened. 

She knew she couldn't run anywhere, so she raised her chin and looked into green eyes instead. 

They were green like the leaves outside during the summer.

 

He wasn’t smiling, but he still felt gentle to her.

He didn’t feel threatening, not like the man who took away her and her mother.

 

“Hello.” And with that, he kneeled to be at the same eye-level as her. “I’m Shen Qingqiu, a cultivator of Cang Qiong. Who are you?”

 

She looked at him, then at the spilling pot over his shoulders.

“Yingying. Your pot is spilling.”

 

And that was the first meeting of Ning Yingying and her future Shizun.

~~~

 

A few years passed and a Disciple Selection was being held in the city. The first round was finished already.

 

Luo Binghe entered Cang Qiong Sect during this Selection and his torment at the hand of the original started from this point.

 

Shen Yuan stood on his porch and watched the Sun rising, his breaths forming small clouds because of the cold.

It was winter already.

 

He would have to remind his disciples to dress warmly and he needed to take stock of their supplies.

 

Too many things to do and there was too little time.

And the countdown has already begun.

~~~

~~~