“I see,” said Yue Qingyuan despite not really “seeing” what exactly the situation in front of him was (it’s a way to keep his sanity intact, after all).
Yue Qingyuan knows he’s far from perfect as a sect leader, as a cultivator, and as a human being. But there are truly some things happening in this life of his that makes him wonder whether he had done nothing but accumulate bad karma in all his previous lives. He looked at the ensemble gathered before him and tried to smile congenially (which may have failed given that some of the peak lords have edged away from him).
His eyes immediately honed in on Shen Jiu who was lazily blowing some hair strands away from his messed up bun and wearing Bai Zhan Peak themed clothes. Actually, scratch that, he’s certain that it was Liu Qingge’s own robes. This thought made his focus transfer to said owner of clothes who was frowning and wearing some elaborate looking red robes. Okay, again, scratch that, those were tattered wedding garments.
The Sect Leader of Cang Qiong Peak isn’t sure he wants to delve deeper into this but he’s duty-bound. Usually, he’d ask for Shen Yuan’s account when it comes to his older twin and their war freak shidi given his trustworthiness on this matter. However, said “trustworthy” individual was too busy trying to fix Luo Binghe’s clothes and tucking Shen Jiu’s errant hair.
This group alone raises a lot of questions mainly being “What properties have you destroyed this time?” (he can feel Shang Qinghua’s tears about to burst at the pending paperwork) and “Who have you offended now that we have to add to the list?” (Shang Qinghua says it’s not An Ding Peak’s responsibility anymore but suddenly all peak lords conveniently can’t hear).
It doesn’t help that there is also the presence of two unsavory entities here (“Big Shen, why does one of your men look like he’s insulting me in his mind?” “First of all, shut the fuck up, he’s not ‘my man’. Second, shut the fuck up and keep your damn hands away from my ass!” “Hahaha you said ‘shut the fuck up’ twice.” “Thrice. Shut the fuck up!”).
But the fact that they aren’t alone and are joined by four questionable individuals is what’s more worrying.
Cang Qiong Peak’s sect leader directed his attention to a predominantly black robed demon who looks exactly the same as Luo Binghe but doesn’t seem to be him (because Shen Yuan’s not giving him a lick of attention) and three very familiar (yet also not really) girls with him.
The not Luo Binghe’s gaze hasn’t left the Shen twins all this time and this is what concerns Yue Qingyuan the most.
“Please,” Yue Qingyuan requestsin the most benevolent tone he could muster, “repeat the story in a more digestible manner.”
Shen Jiu’s bored look promptly shifts to an angry one. “Repeat? Again?! What’s wrong with your puny brain?!”
Liu Qingge who was seated beside Shen Jiu quickly glared at him. “Hey! Show some respect to our sect leader!”
Qing Jing Peak’s lord snaps his head to the side and smacks the muscled arm beside him. "You show some respect to me - your shixiong!"
“What right do you have to speak of ‘respect’ and being a ‘shixiong’?!” The War God tried to stand up and ignored the tearing sound of his clothes. "You forced me in these degrading clothes!"
Not to be outdone, Shen Jiu also stood up to match the height of the other. "Hah! So when I was the one who had to wear them a while ago, it was simply 'part of the plan ' but now that it's you it's suddenly 'degrading' . I see how it is!"
Shen Yuan, upon being done fussing over Luo Binghe and noticing that his fellow peak lords are once again treating the non-stop arguments of his brother and shidi as a form of entertainment, faced Yue Qingyuan.”Zhangmen shixiong, the story’s really pretty much the same as how we told it a while ago.”
“Shen Jiu’s storytelling was literally just,” Qi Qingqi coughed once as she tried to imitate the prissy voice of the elder Qing Jing Peak Lord, “ ‘Liu Qingge is an idiot. Tianlang jun should be killed and adoption papers for Bing Bing to us must be finalized. There is another Luo Binghe and some girls but they all don’t have any rights.’ ”
“In hindsight,” Shen Yuan opens one of his many fans, “maybe gege’s storytelling abilities may not be that great.”
“It’s utter bullshit, that’s what it is,” Qi Qingqi says.
“Why don’t you start from the beginning again, A-Yuan,” Yue Qingyuan softly coaxes as they all adjusted the volume of their voices amidst the currently ongoing shouting match between Shen Jiu and Liu Qingge (“At least they haven’t drawn any weapons yet or have gotten physical.” “Don’t jinx it, Shang-shidi, you idiot!”)
Shen Yuan sighs.
The moment Shen Yuan started retelling what happened that day to his fellow peak lords, Luo Binghe sideeyed his other version who finally shifted his unnerving attention from the Shen twins to give him a smirk.
Cries of “Binghe!” resounded as a massive blast from the creature he was fighting with imploded in the area. Luo Binghe felt Xin Mo’s thrum on his hand as his demon seal glowed in response. He looked down on his sword and wondered what it was reacting to given that the only times it went like this was when he first got it from The Abyss and when the last shards of his shizun’s soul broke.
When the glow subsided and his surroundings started to clear, he sheathed Xin Mo and looked around. His fight with the unknown creature was in the middle of his palace’s courtyard (he still has to figure out how exactly that one managed to enter) and for some reason, it seems that he was no longer there and the creature was also not in sight.
“Binghe! Binghe, where are you?!”
Luo Binghe turned around when he heard the familiar voice. “Yingying.”
Ning Yingying perked up when their eyes met and shook the other two with her. “Liu Mingyan, Sha Hualiang - look! Binghe’s here.”
Luo Binghe walked towards them and helped the three up. “Is anyone hurt?” When the three looked at each other and shook their heads, Luo Binghe smiled at them and glanced at their surroundings once more.
“Binghe,” Ning Yingying called, “Where are we?”
“This isn’t the palace anymore for sure,” Sha Hualiang placed her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes, “But...I feel I’ve seen this place before.” She took a few steps forward, glanced at her right, a few more steps forward, and when she seemed to have found whatever she was looking for, she looked back at them. “There’s a path here.”
With implicit approval from Luo Binghe, the four of them started trekking the path Sha Hualing found. When they were nearing the end of the clearing, Liu Mingyan spoke up.
“The Village of Siblings must be there.”
“Village of Siblings?” inquired Ning Yingying.
Liu Mingyan replied. “Sha Hualiang and I came across this village on one of our expeditions in the past. The name of the village interested us... me ...so we went here.” She doesn’t mention how it was the death anniversary of her brother and Sha Hualing herself didn’t bring it up.
“Yes, you’ve reported this place,” Luo Binghe nodded, “But it was just a normal human village so we never bothered with it.”
Once they properly entered the village, everywhere was bustling with activity that barely anyone gave them a second thought. The streets were adorned with the color red from the decorated lanterns and down to the crates of pomegranates and red dates being pushed to the center of the village’s table.
“Oh, there’s going to be a wedding,” Ning Yingying pointed out at the red banners with the “Xi” characters signifying double happiness.
“And it’s not just one couple,” said Liu Mingyan as she watched Sha Hualing check out the different family names written in the banners.
Someone laughed at their observations and the four of them directed their attention to a man hanging the second layer of lanterns. “Well of course it’s not just going to be one couple. This is the Village of Siblings, after all! And we never do celebrations for just an individual as per tradition.”
“Tradition?” Ning Yinying asked.
The man alighted from the ladder he was perched on and grinned at them. “This must be your first time here, huh? Come on, come on,” he directed them towards his stall, “I might as well introduce some concepts in our village since you’re all lucky enough to be here right in the middle of the village wedding ceremony.”
“That’s kind of you,” Luo Binghe agreed without hesitation as he noticed that perhaps his wives needed to rest for some time.
“My name is Lu Qingwu and you can just call me Lao Lu,” he introduced himself and poured some tea for the newcomers. “Everything in our village’s tradition is based on the history passed down to us from our ancestors.”
The three women looked interested in the story while Luo Binghe tamped down the boredom and the unease he’s been feeling.
“A wedding festival where our people are married all at the same period of time as per tradition,” at this Lao Lu gestured at the lively streets, “started from the founders of this small village who were said to be immortal siblings.”
“Cultivators?” clarified Liu Mingyan.
Lao Lu shrugged. “Cultivators, gods, demons - bah! Who knows hahaha What’s important is that they liked doing things together and thus their only request to the people who started inhabiting the place was to do things together as a community. No one saw anything detrimental to this and so this became sort of a decree being followed.”
“And let me guess,” Sha Hualing crossed her legs and leaned forward, “everything was fine and all until something happened.”
“You definitely how stories generally go, young lady.” The villager laughed in mirth. “One day, one of the siblings found the love of her life and wanted to marry but insisted on waiting until her sister would marry too. However, the latter didn't want to impose on her sister's happiness and let her marry on her own. On the day of the wedding, they were attacked by a foreign army and the other sister sustained injuries in protecting the bride and groom and was unable to heal until she was laid to rest. Thus, it is believed that everything must be done together in the village so that we may be able to keep the peace and happiness.”
Luo Binghe refrained from rolling his eyes. People were born alone in the world and would eventually die alone as well. Tragedies always happen whether one is alone or with a community. Honestly, the simple mindedness of others sometimes amuse him.
“Is that part of tradition as well?” he asked as he pointed on the tiny characters plastered on all the banners. Perhaps ordinary humans won’t know what exactly they were but given that the four comprised cultivators and demons, they can easily identify those characters as part of a talisman’s spell. Or rather a certain sect’s specialized talisman.
Lao Lu looked at Luo Binghe in amazement. “Woah! This Young Master is able to recognize those symbols?”
The demon king tilted his head to the side in acknowledgment. “Those are popularized talismans from Cang Qiong Peak.”
The women stiffened while the villager agreed without realizing how he’s a word away from triggering a massacre from the handsome man infront of him.
“Indeed they are! You see, our village is facing a problem of some demon who kept on stealing our brides the past days so we had to ask help from the cultivators in Cang Qiong Peak.”
“Isn’t Cang Qiong Peak far away from this village?” a small frown appeared on Liu Mingyan’s hidden face as she recalled the position of the village’s location.
“Huan Hua Sect used to be the closest but well they’ve long since been razed to the ground.”
Luo Binghe’s eyes flashed at the new piece of information. While he already felt that they landed in a different place, he’s not certain on how different things could be here. The fact that one of the four most powerful sects that isn’t Cang Qiong Peak had been destroyed is something else.
“Who did it?”asked Sha Hualing.
This time, the man looked at them weirdly. “Don’t tell me you don’t know all about the purge on Huan Hua Sect and god hunting after the incident of Cang Qiong Peaks twins? The War God Liu Qingge was one of those at the forefront of that revolution as well as the other peak lords.”
“What?” Liu Mingyan hissed in surprise.
“Yeah?” Lao Lu blinked at them, “Where have you all been the past two decades? This was a widely known series of events that even us ordinary humans caught wind of it. It was bloody back then but balance has been restored now especially with the new deals and contracts with both gods and demons alike.”
Just then, the sound of drums echoed all throughout the village and excited whispers grew abound.
“It’s time for one of the brides to dance as an offering to the founders of the village!”
“Is she going to be okay with her veil still down?”
“I bet she’s really beautiful! Look at that amazing figure!”
And indeed, the bride dressed in intricate and bold red wedding garments was performing exemplary. With a flick of the bride’s hand, a fan appeared as an added paraphernalia to the dance. Luo Binghe’s entire focus was honed in on the bride as the demon lord couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the sway of those thin hips and the curves of the body barely hidden with the tight garments.
Before the dance could be concluded, lightning flashed and a grotesque looking demon appeared in the same stage as the night’s performer. The crowd started to scream and run away in a flurry. Easily evading the rush of the people, Luo Binghe flash-stepped to the stage and grasped the bride’s waist to protect her as he readied to draw Xin Mo to slice off the beast.
But before he can even touch his sword, the bride pushed against his chest with surprising strength making him loosen his hold.
The bride’s hand that was holding a fan a while ago was flicked once more and a spiritual pouch replaced it. Luo Binghe watched as in a matter of seconds, the other took out a dark brown bow with red tassels and beads adorning it. Slender fingers ran through the bow and drew a pinch of blood at the tip’s end which formed a blazing arrow.
At the same time that the beast charged forward to them, the bride’s hands never faltered and -
The arrow was released and hit the howling beast between its eyes making it drop to the ground. Given that the creature was large, the moment it fell, a crater was formed under its body and a gush of wind flew to its immediate surroundings involving both Luo Binghe and the most probably not a bride but a cultivator given the display of skills.
The red robed individual’s veil flapped away and an extremely familiar face was revealed.
Luo Binghe felt his lungs constrict.
The not-bride noticed his presence and surprise passed by his cold features before it turned into an annoyed unimpressed one. “Oi, what are you doing here?”
Luo Binghe wants to step forward and grasp the man’s shoulders (again), break his bones (again), and tear him limb from limb (again). And what exactly was stopping him? Dark energy gathered through him as each step he took was crushing their surroundings from the intensity.
The other man’s expression turned uneasy when he saw the approaching demon lord. He flicked his wrist and the bow disappeared as a white Xiu Ya materialized.
“What the hell is up with you?” he glared. “Do you really think A-Yuan will let you get away with whatever bullshit you’re up to right now?”
Luo Binghe doesn’t bother asking who ‘A-Yuan’ was, draws Xin Mo, and runs forward with a stabbing motion. He saw an unbelieving surprise on the cultivator’s face (which doesn’t make sense because he was supposed to have an impenetrable cold facade who always expected the worst from him).
Xin Mo didn’t manage to clash with Xiu Ya as another sword appeared and Luo Binghe was forced to backtrack two steps from the collision. He vaguely heard a trembling gasp from Liu Mingyan somewhere and he didn’t have to wonder for long as he saw the sword that intercepted him.
Its owner appeared beside Luo Binghe’s beloved shizun and a mad grin made its way on the demon’s handsome face.
The supposedly dead Liu Qingge and Shen Qingqiu together.
This world just turned even more interesting.
(And he can’t wait to destroy it.)
“Okay, hold on,” Qi Qingqi held her hand up, “That explains why you’re in the village but that doesn’t explain as to why exactly Shen Jiu was initially in wedding garments.”
“And why it’s Liu-shidi now that’s wearing it,” added Wei Qingwei.
“Binghe and I arrived later actually so I’m not very sure on that aspect,” trailed off Shen Yuan who looked at his twin for explanation support.
In response, Shen Jiu flicked his forehead with barely restrained annoyance.
“Hey!” complained the younger Shen, “Haven’t we talked about your violent tendencies already?”
“Yes, we have,” Shen Jiu replied and took a sip from his cup of tea, “And your point is?”
“You’re supposed to try and be better.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no better version of me. I’m already the best.”
“What a low quality type of entity a Shen Jiu is then,” mocked Liu Qingge.
Shen Jiu’s brows twitched. “Haven’t you been told off into being more respectful to your elders already? And in case my statement missed your non-existent brain, it means you need to respect me as your shixiong.”
“Shixiongs are supposed to take care of their shidis! Are you taking care of me?!” Liu Qingge challenged.
“Only babies need to be taken cared of -”
“That’s not what you said when you yeeted the baby offered to be Qing Jing Peak’s future disciple,” murmured Mu Qingfang who went unheard. Or it’s just everyone else trying to filter out the previous week’s top 2 scandal.
“ - are you a baby?!”
Let it be known that while Liu Qingge was physically stronger than Shen Jiu, he still remains at the latter’s heels when it comes to verbal sparring. And so he had no choice but to shout his greatest rebuttal. “You suck!”
“You suck more!”
“Oohhh, is this a euphemism for blowjo-”
Shen Jiu threw his teacup to Tianlang Jun.
“Ahh, Big Shen you’re already starting our forepla-”
A smiling Yue Qingyuan unsheathed half of Xuan Su and everyone immediately quieted down.
“Zha...Zhangmen-shixiong,” a sweating Shang Qinghua called, “yo-you can re...relax now...and uh...maybe...uh...stop smiling like that?”
“The more I smile, the less I see,” replied Yue Qingyuan but sheathed his legendary sword in the end.
“Okay, let’s go back,” Qi Qingqi said in a serious manner as if she wasn’t betting with her fellow peak lords on who’ll draw first blood between Shen Jiu and Liu Qingge. “Why were you wearing wedding robes?”
“Aren’t we focusing on the wrong thing?” asked Shen Yuan. And he would have been believable if he weren’t looking so morose that his brother changed clothes already. He ignored Shang Qinghua mouthing ‘hypocrite’ at him and just held on to Luo Binghe’s hand.
“It's not important,” Shen Jiu says as he snapped his fan open.
“I’d have to disagree,” Liu Qingge instantly replied.
“That’s because your entire existence is disagreeable.”
Liu Qingge ignored him and looked at Cang Qiong’s peak lords imploringly as if he was imparting great knowledge. “Shen Jiu’s only saying that it’s not important because he doesn’t want to spread the news that he lost a battle against me and had to be the one to wear it.”
Shen Jiu reaches for his cup to throw at his impudent shidi but realizes that he already threw it at Tianlang Jun. He took his brother’s cup (“Exuse me?” “You’re excused.” “Gege, I was drinking that!” “And not anymore. Viola. Like magic.”) and used it as his ammunition against Cheng Luan’s weilder.
For a few moments there, Luo Binghe had been distracted with his hand holding sessions with his shizun which never gets old that his other version’s intense focus on the Qing Jing Peak twin lords was almost forgotten.
“The village’s incident has already been cleaned up,” Luo Binghe speaks (“Cleaned up?! We have to pay for reparations on damages incurred!” “There, there, Shang-shidi, relax. Don’t act like its your first time here.”) “But what’s urgent right now is how we’re going to deal with the alternate universe individuals - how exactly we’re going to send them back to where they came from.”
Shen Jiu sneers. “It’s not that urgent.”
Shen Yuan pats his lover. “It definitely is the most urgent one.”
Shen Jiu quickly changes his tone. “I agree with A-Yuan. Sending them back is the most urgent concern.”
“You were clearly disagreeing just a while ago,” Liu Qingge in turn sneers at the elder Shen.
"It's like you're saying I’m biased against the little piece of shit of a demon."
Everyone in the room gives him a look.
Qi Qingqi scoffed. "I bet you're thinking that you want to poke all of our eyes now."
“That’s too vanilla for Big Shen,” Tianlang Jun grins and waves away Zhu Zilang’s attempts to silence him, “More like he wants to gouge out our eyes.”
Shen Jiu lets out an energy outburst which ends up cracking the windows of the room. "Why would you even think I'm violent to do that?!”
“Gee, we have no idea why,” deadpans Mu Qingfang.
Yue Qingyuan pipes in before another round of arguments breaks. "If Xiao Jiu (“Who’s your fucking ‘Xiao Jiu’?!” “Gege, breathe in and out carefully.”) was the one wearing the wedding dress before then how come it's Liu-shidi now?"
They note the sad look in Cang Qiong Peak sect leader’s face as if and only Shen Yuan’s tight grip on his twin is the one stopping the latter from hauling himself across the table and to strangle him.
As usual, nobody addresses this.
Liu Qingge stood up in anger as he remembered what happened. “He stripped me!”
“You were drenched in the monster’s blood which was supposed to be poisonous. I was trying to save you, you ingrate.”
“You said I should dive into Mount Weilan’s magma to clean up! Mount Weilan is a volcano!”
“I know. That’s wht I said ‘magma’. Do keep up. The boiling heat will kill the poison. Isn’t that right, Mu-shidi?”
“I don’t want to be part of this conversation.”
“Well yeah, it’ll kill off the poison alright. The poison. AND ME!”
“I said what I said.”
Wei Qingwei glanced at the other peak lords. "This is giving me flashbacks back when these two got drunk for the first time."
The alternate Luo Binghe and the three girls looked both confused and interested at the sudden silence. Tianlang Jun decided to pester Shen Yuan for the details that he still isn’t privy until now. Luo Binghe glared at his father and covered Shen Yuan with his own body. (“Fucking demon don’t smother my didi!” “Of course not, Shifu.”)
Feeling that his twin and Liu Qingge were already on the way to unsheathe their swords at the supposed never to be mentioned incident dating way back, Shen Yuan coughs to get the attention of the peak lords and continues the explanation on what happened. (“Wei shixiong, you almost got skewered there.” “Aw, was Mu shidi worried?” “I think it’s a waste of medical resources to heal you so unless I’m given your corpse, I’m not really interested.” “...”)
Liu Qingge took Cheng Luan back to his hands and stepped in front of Shen Jiu in a subconscious desire to hide him away from the uneasy feeling they’re getting from Luo Binghe. It was already surprising to see him here given that this mission was just given a few days ago and both Shen Yuan and Luo Binghe were still not back from their own assignment.
“What are you doing here?” Liu Qingge asked while in a defensive mode and pushed Shen Jiu who tried to step out from his back.
Luo Binghe merely gave him a passing amused look before honing in on the immortal behind him before calling out in a sweet manner that barely hides the poison within.
The call made the two peak lords blanch. “Huh?! Who’s your ‘shizun’?”
“Oi, are you sick? Where’s A-Yuan?” Shen Jiu tried to push past Liu Qingge but was shoved back again.
A choked sob from the side made the Cang Qiong Peak cultivators switch their attention. There were three familiar looking girls but with different clothes and auras near Luo Binghe. Shen Jiu narrowed his eyes at the demon saint as memories of his brother’s Without A Cure injury resurfaced. His annoyed confusion only grew when he saw one of his students there as well.
“Mingyan?” came the concerned inquiry from Liu QIngge upon seeing who was sobbing. “What’s wrong? Also, aren’t you supposed to be with Qi shijie?”
Liu Mingyan couldn’t respond as tears wracked her form and Liu Qingge helplessly looked on. Shen Jiu elbowed him painfully on his side and glared at him then pointedly glanced at the crying girl. After a second or two, Liu Qingge finally understood what he was implying and went over to his sister who immediately launched herself towards him for a tight hug.
Just then a big blast shot in the middle of the stage’s platform. It was so sudden that if it weren’t for them being experienced fighters, they might have gotten hit. They scattered on the ground and saw a similar looking creature as the one Shen Jiu had already killed as the source of the blast.
“There’s two of them!”
“Village of Siblings, remember?!”
The monster ran head on to the nearest cultivators which happened to be the Lius. Liu Qingge quickly threw his sister to the side where the two other girls were and clashed with Cheng Luan at his forefront headon against it. The War God lifted himself up to slash his opponent from above and sent his weapon spiraling down without a care on how he’s going to land himself.
Seeing that he was about to fall with unsure footing as the monster was still wriggling below, Shen Jiu unsheathed his white Xiu Ya and hastily launched it to intercept Liu QIngge’s fall.
Luo Binghe’s eyes widened at the unhesitating reflex of his shizun to save someone he'd already killed. In deep red wedding robes with a cold capable aura, that young and once disciple of Qing Jing Peak greedily watched in awe the quick decisive fan attacks of the other.
(If he can, he’d save this image forever and make it his own reality.)
When Luo Binghe saw that Qing Jing’s Peak Lord was about to jump into the fray as well, he moved behind him and firmly held his waist with his chest and the older male’s back plastered together.. “Shizun,” his lips brushing against his ear, “I’ll take care of this.”
Shen Jiu is unable to move from their compromising position in frozen surprise. What the fuck.
Luo Binghe sends him a smirk and raises his hand to crush the monster from the distance with his overwhelming demon energy. However, before he could close his fist, a trumpet resounds. The ground breaks and a large snake came out from directly under the monster and snaps its mouth to consume it.
As the large snake munches down on its food, a figure emerges from on top of its head.
“Aiyo, Big Shen, I didn’t know you were already getting it on with my son hahaha Let me join in, yeah?”
The absolutely infuriating voice and sexual advances makes Shen Jiu snap back to the present. He twists his body around making his face and the weird Luo Binghe’s face be only an inch apart as their chest don’t even have any distance.
Shen Jiu slaps the demon king in fury. The action took Luo Binghe in complete surprise as no one had raised their hand against him this close in how many years already that his hands dropped to the side.
“I,” Shen Jiu grits, “will deal with you later as you grovel to A-Yuan.” He then turns to the newcomers. “And you! How many times must I tell you to keep off cultivators’ businesses?! I had to attend multiple meetings with arguing fuckers as entitled as the next one just for those demon deals to push through! I’m not interested in having to defend those contracts again!”
The large snake shrinks down to his humanesque form as if properly berated while the other demon just cackled in response.
“Big Shen does care for us as much as Little Shen, eh? Aww, I’m so touched.” Tianlang Jun brightens up. “In fact, you can touch my di-”
Cheng Luan and Xiu Ya simultaneously attack Tianlang Jun who deftly evades the gleaming swords.
“I swear, your existence doesn't make sense,” Shen Jiu growled as he jabbed his finger in accusation against Tianlang Jun’s chest.
“Is this going to end with a pick up line? Please end that statement with a pick up line then we can get it on afterwards.”
Shen Jiu looks at Liu Qingge. “The fact that this fucking demon keeps on breathing despite me having this look on my face is the biggest proof that he has absolutely zero survival instincts.”
Liu Qingge scoffs. “You don’t need to tell me something I already know.”
“Aww, but Big Shen, my son has Little Shen guarded heavily and you’re the only one single,” he paused for a millisecond before correcting himself, “Although, even if you’re officially taken, you can always give me a call any time and I’d do you.”
“If anyone’s doing anyone, it’s going to be me!”
Tianlang Jun gives him a patronizing smile. “That’s cute.”
Shen Jiu was about to rant more when he remembered his issue when his brother got mentioned. He turns around (and if he’s lowkey annoyed that his hair is still pinned up and thus he can’t use it to smack the face of others, then it’s his story to tell) and glares at Luo Binghe.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
Tianlang Jun let out an interested hum behind him once he saw who he was talking to. “Well, that’s new.”
Shen Jiu instinctively opened his arms as his twin came barreling at him. “A-Yuan! How are you here?!”
Shen Yuan doesn’t stop hugging his brother as worry and relief flooded through him. He and Luo Binghe were on their way back to Cang Qiong Peak when the latter noted abnormalities in his demon mark and they managed to pinpoint the location of the unease in this village - only to find out that his brother was here as well.
“I was with Binghe and he felt something was wrong,” he hugged his older twin tighter, “Ge, are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?”
“Yes,” Shen Jiu replies, “My pride is hurt.”
Shen Yuan blinked. “Huh?” When he pulled away, it was only then that he noticed what his brother was actually wearing. His worry completely washed away and stars glistened in his eyes as he tried to contain a squeal. “Gege, you didn’t tell me you were getting married? You look amazing though! Ah, but maybe we should brush your hair more to this side so it can show off your neckline.”
Like the mature person that he is, Shen Jiu grabs a fistful of his twin’s hair and pulls.
Hands immediately comforted the place where Shen Jiu pulled his hair and Shen Yuan backed away from his brother and went to his lover instead. “Binghe, my ge is so mean.”
Luo Binghe nods sagely and smiles at Shen Jiu. “Ah, but Shizun is right. Shifu does look great in wedding robes.”
Shen Jiu immediately rounds up against his nemesis (“You call him your what? Honestly, ge, how old are you?” “Older than you and said nemesis of mine so show some respect, you little piece of shit.” “You’re a little piece of shit.” “What was that?” “Nothing. I love you, gege.”).
“What is your perverted mind thinking, huh?! You want to see my didi in wedding robes don’t you?! Do you really think I'll allow that?! Liu Qingge, you fucker, back me up here!”
“First of all, screw you!” Liu Qingge shouts at Shen Jiu before turning to Luo Binghe, “And second, screw you too! Why are there two of you?!”
That made everyone remember just what exactly was the concern right now. Luo Binghe moves in front of the Shen twins and his previous genial expression turns into a terrifyingly cold one as he meets his other version. He notes the barely concealed surprise on his other version’s self with his eyes going back and forth the Shens.
It’s the dark fascination he found on those extremely familiar eyes that angers him.
“No need to look so mad, my dear other version,” the smug voice of the other says.
“I highly doubt that,” Luo Binghe replies darkly.
On the mention of marriage, the peak lords all looked at Luo Binghe with varying expressions ranging from suspicion (“Zhangmeng shixiong, you do realize that your smile can’t hide the side eye you’re giving, right?”) to excitement (“Holy crap, Qi-shijie, calm down.”). The subject of their stares don’t pay them any mind though and continue on exchanging flirty glances with his shizun.
Upon remembering that part, Shen Jiu, who was on top of Liu Qingge trying to choke him with the latter having the strands of hair fallen from his bun on his hands and pulling at it, paused for a moment and asked angrily. “You haven’t given me a proper response on your plans on marrying my didi. And by proper response, I mean, a negative one.”
Luo Binghe quickly pacifies the older Shen. “It’s not like that, Shifu.”
Shen Yuan gasps softly. “You don’t want to get married to me?” he asks in a soft, pitiful voice.
The tone of voice naturally triggers Shen Jiu. “Excuse you?! Are you saying my A-Yuan is not worthy enough for marriage?!”
Luo Binghe squeezed Shen Yuan’s hands as he answered the twin. “Of course not, Shifu. Shizun is the only person I’m going to marry, after all.”
The answer naturally triggers the other again. “Excuse you?! You’re really out here trying to steal my brother and tainting him with your disgusting hands?!”
“Ow! Fuck! Shen Jiu! I’m on your side so stop choking me!” Liu QIngge complained as he received the end of Shen Jiu’s anger. “And oi, Luo Binghe! You’re not allowed to marry Shen Yuan!”
“First of all, that’s shixiong to you, you disrespectful dumbass! And second, remove your hands away from A-Yuan, you filthy beast!”
“Gege,” Shen Yuan admonished, “be nice to Binghe. Don’t call him bad names.”
“Bad names blah blah blah. If there’s anything ‘bad’ here, it’s that he’s engaging in questionable acts that shouldn’t be done before marriage!”
“You do realize that Shen Yuan’s the other half of said questionable acts, yeah? I mean, there’s a reason why he’s no longer afflicted with the Without A Cure poison,” commented Mu Qingfang.
Both the Ziu Xian Peak Lord and Wan Jian Peak Lord looked at their shidi as if it were the last time they’re going to see him alive. (“Should we add Mu shidi’s lifespan countdown in the list of ongoing bets?” “Excuse me, I’m still here.” “Not for long.”)
Out of some shixiong to shidi affection (“You never gave me that.” “That’s because I have none for you.”), Shen Jiu conveniently did not hear what Mu Qingfang said.
“Shizun, there’s no need to fight with your brother. I understand Shifu’s concern,” Luo Binghe said with a nod of acknowledgment to Shen Jiu who had his arms crossed but was still sitting on top of Liu Qingge’s stomach. “To solve all the issues raised, I believe marrying you right now is the best answer.”
Shen Yuan gasped.
Luo Binghe kowtowed to Shen Yuan, took his hands, and kissed them. “Will you marry me, Shizun?”
“We forbid you from marrying Shen Yuan!” And as an afterthought, Liu Qingge continued, “Breathe, Shen Jiu! Don’t forget to breathe!”
The thing is that Shen Jiu isn’t the only one who’s well-versed in the art of selective hearing. Shen Yuan’s face lit up with a smile and his eyes glistened in joy as the complaints in the room were filtered out in his Luo Binghe tunnel. “Yes! Yes, I’d like to be officially married to you.”
“No one’s marrying anyone! And damn it, Shen Jiu, are you still alive?!”
Tianlang Jun laughs madly on the side with Zhu Zhilang torn between congratulating Shen Yuan and his loyalty to Shen Jiu. The Peak Lords have their own takes on the matter and the volume of their voices rises with each second. The three other universe’s ladies looked dumbfounded with the turn of events and their Luo Binghe observed with deceptive calmness his other version being in a bubble of love.
Yue Qingyuan tapped his palms on the wooden table three times in an effort to get back to their agenda. “Settle down. Settle down.”
“Say whatever you’re supposed to say already, Zhangmen shixiong, before Shen Jiu regains his soul because we all know it’s going to be chaos after that,” said Liu Qingge who’s poking the cheeks of a blank faced Shen Jiu.
Yue Qingyuan coughs. “We can talk about the other issue once the most relevant participant has come back to us -”
“How is Shen Jiu the ‘most important participant’? Aren’t those Shen Yuan and Luo Binghe since they’re the ones getting married?”
“- and so, let’s focus back on the urgent issue on how to make the other universe’s Luo Binghe, Ning Yingying, Liu Mingyan, and Sha Hualing get back to their world. Let’s start off with your speculations on why this has happened in the first place.”
The other universe’s Luo Binghe spoke clearly. “An unidentified creature managed to enter my palace and I had been battling it before Xin Mo and my demon mark flared up. A massive blast occurred and the next thing I knew, we were transported near the Village of Siblings.”
Their world’s Luo Binghe voiced his agreement on the suspected cause. “I was traveling with Shizun when my demon mark flared up and I was able to identify the Village of Siblings as the location that triggered it. I suppose that our marks were resonating with one another.”
“Then the answer must be related with your demon marks and probably Xin Mo,” said Yue Qingyuan.
“But our world’s Xin Mo is…” Shang Qinghua trailed off. An uneasy atmosphere prevailed in the room at the remembrance of the sword and Shen Yuan opened his fan to hide half of his face.
“Let’s start off with the demon marks and alternate universe crossing,” Yue Qingyuan decided and turned to Shang Qinghua, “Shang shidi, we need consolidated research materials on this. All the peak lords will help you.”
“If it’s about demons then the demon realm’s library might be more informative. In fact,” Tianlang Jun groped around his sleeves, “I might have something that can help here.” Once he got what he thought he was looking for, he handed it down to Zhu Zhilang.
The snake demon follows the implicit request and opens the book. However, his expression turned weird the more he flipped through the pages. He swallowed uncomfortably and glanced at his lord. “I...I think you got the wrong one…”
Tianlang Jun waved him off. “Nah, that’s right. If you’re unsure, just go read some parts and let these cultivators decide which ones they’d want more resources of so we can bring it here in the human realm.”
Zhu Zhilang covered his face with the book and sighed.
[...and Shen Jiu moaned loudy when the red fruits on his chest perked up with every lick from Tianlang Jun. The demon teasingly bit on one of it and chuckled as Shen Jiu covered his mouth to try and contain his desires - ]
Xuan Su was unsheathed in a flash and the book that Zhu Zhilang was holding was torn into tiny pieces .
And then -
“Shen Jiu is a bottom!” screamed a gleeful Liu Qingge. The smacks he’s getting from Shen Jiu did nothing to dampen his happiness.
Yue Qingyuan valiantly tried to control his spiritual energy lest he either go into qi deviation or end up murdering an extremely powerful demon lord and A-Yuan’s future father-in-law. Half of the peak lords were calming their sect leader while the other half were opening the ledger of their list of bets
Qi Qingqistood up, dragged Shang Qinghua with her, and grabbed Tianlang Jun’s collar. “What was that?! I don’t have that version!”
Luo Binghe murmured that it was “OOC” whilst Shen Yuan’s brain was still floating on his upcoming wedding with Binghe and what he wanted his brother to wear on that day (maybe something form fitting and he can work with Qi shijie to add a slit to it).
Shen Jiu finally snapped back to reality (although his soul looked ready to depart once again) and after deliberately stepping on Liu Qingge’s crotch, he marched madly towards Tianlang Jun.
“What. The. Fuck.” he breathed in, “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!”
Qi Qingqi moved in front of Tianlang Jun (she needs the demon alive to get information from because she still doesn’t have that particular version in her collection). “It was a masterpiece. Do control yourself, shidi.”
Shen Jiu drew his spiritual bow with unrestrained anger. He was too busy destroying those vile stuff when he discovered one of the characters as his didi but he didn’t know that he himself was subjected to it as well. “Move out of the way. I can spare you in remembrance of our past memories.”
Xian Shu Peak’s leader stood firm. “Don’t be too hasty. Those are novels. And they’re very moving. I remember being in tears after reading some of it.”
“I bet your tears were coming out from your mouth, you despicable woman!” hissed Shen Jiu who was now getting restrained by some of the peak lords. (“Mu shidi, help here!” “Please only call me when a corpse is there already.”)
“Shizun, should we do something about this?” Luo Binghe asked as they continued lovingly holding each other’s hands.”
“Hmm,” Shen Yuan replied and considered whether the frosted crystals from Shen river would be greatly paired off with the preserved flowers from Zhao meadows for his gege’s hair accessory on his wedding day. To be fair, his twin might protest on the paraphernalia but Shen Yuan’s confident that he can use the ‘it’s my wedding request’ or ‘for me?’ card if ever.
Luo Binghe sneaked a glance at the chaos and took his chance to peck the corner of his companion’s lips. “What’s on your mind, Shizun?”
Shen Yuan softly kissed his cheeks in return. “Our upcoming wedding.”
Luo Binghe’s bright smile matched the indulgent and excited look of Qing Jing peak’s younger lord.
“Shen jiu, relax!” Shang Qinghua squeezed himself beside Qi Qingqi (he has to defend both his shijie and Tianlang Jun as they’re his biggest buyers on the works he’s collected from multiple writers which he had published). “It’s not really anything to be mad about. It’s uh...uh...it's like an almanac of different creatures!”
“And I’m supposed to believe that?!”
“See, the part from Tianlang Jun was all about normal animals in the human realm. He’s uh...he’s an enthusiast of human...stuff…”
“Oh yeah?” Shen Jiu raised a delicate eyebrow, “Name a fish that starts with an 'F' based on that almanac then.”
Shang Qinghua exhaled and put on a serious expression. “Fried fish.”
No one had the chance to react to Shang Qinghua’s reply for Tianlang Jun made his presence known again. “Now that I’m seeing the Shens here, this makes me recall one of my favorites where Volume 69 had a twincest.”
The alternate universe’s Luo Binghe finally stood up and slashed the arrow Shen Jiu shot at Tianlang Jun into two.
“What the fuck are you joining here for?” Shen Jiu spat.
The other Luo Binghe gave him a fake smile. “I must practice filial piety and save my father of course. It’s as my shizun has taught.”
“That might be believable if you weren’t well, you. And if that isn’t blatant fucked up interest in your eyes right now.”
“I think,” the weird Luo Binghe says in a measured tone, “I like this world.”
Shang Qinghua sees another business opportunity while Tianlang Jun and Qi Qingqi recognized a kin. Yue Qingyuan considers turning into a corpse to attain peace and to send himself to Mu Qingfang’s Qian Cao Peak. New bets were added to the ledger of the peak lords and Liu Qingge isn’t sure as to who he should be siding with.
Luo Binghe and Shen Yuan were busy wrapped around each other.
And Shen Jiu decides then and there that sometimes, a massacre is necessary and violence is the answer.