The inside of a brightly lit cave.
Ling Xian cradled Lin Qing Yi in his arms, eyeing her with a mixed sense of resentment, anger, bitterness, and helplessness.
This position was compromising yet romantic. Only five centimeters separated them.
Which meant if Ling Xian were to lower his head only slightly, he would find himself locking lips with the damsel in distress.
But he didn't. Even though a voice lingering in his ear had insisted on it nonstop, he was afraid that if he obliged, this damsel would actually jump up and slit her own throat.
Lin Qing Yi blushed, eyeing the handsome face inches away from her own. Her heart started pumping aggressively, her body was as soft as jelly.
Unfortunately, she was certain that Ling Xian had been a pervert. After the initial moment of shock, she finally regained her senses and inquired coldly, "Who asked you to catch me, let me go at once!"
"I came to your rescue kindheartedly, why do you insist on defaming my character." Ling Xian frowned. "If I knew you were like this, I wouldn't have saved you in the beginning."
"I'm like what? You saved my life. I'm very grateful, and I'm willing to repay you," Lin Qing Yi responded sharply. "It is your character that's flawed. You intended to violate me, that is out of the question."
"I…" Ling Xian couldn't come up with anything to rebuff her. He had indeed been caught in the act. He shook his head helplessly and continued in a different direction. "Even though the poison has all been expelled from your body, you're still weak. You need to rest."
"Bloody pervert, let…let go of me. If you don't let go of me, I'll make sure we die together!"
Feeling the man's warm breath on her face, Lin Qing Yi blushed harder but continued staring at him with a frightening wrath in her eyes. She had never had such close contact with a man. But now, her wholeness was resting in the arms of a stranger.
For her, this was an unimaginable insult.
However, this unimaginable insult was happening right in front of her. Had she not been so weak, this man would be in pieces by now.
"Let go, let go of me," Lin Qing Yi demanded again, kicking, punching, and growing in agitation. But the punches landed on Ling Xian like cotton, her body was too weak.
"Stop hitting me, I'm letting you go." Ling Xian shook his head, unwilling to let go but irritated with her protest. Holding onto her with one hand, he gently laid her back down on top of the tiger skin rug. "I'll say it one last time, I don't wish to cause you any harm. You can rest easy here. When you're healed, you may go as you please. I will not stop you."
Lin Qing Yi eyed him with a hint of suspicion. Even though she had wanted to leave at once, but in her condition, she wouldn't last a day in the wilderness of the Hidden Territory.
Ling Xian didn't know whether to laugh or cry. By extending his hand out at the wrong time, he had been branded a pervert forever.
Lin Qing Yi was not so easily convinced. She hesitated then asked yet again, "Can you swear on it, and bind it with the Promise of Poisonous Heart?"
"Believe what you wish, I'm done here, leave if you can." Ling Xian's patience was wearing thin, but continued, "Never noticed before you nagged this much. I said I won't do anything to harm you, so I won't. Just rest."
"Never noticed before?" Lin Qing Yi was startled. Had they met before? Listing to him talk, his voice did sound familiar, but she couldn't place him.
"What before, you heard wrong," Ling Xian shut her down instantly. He did not wish to expose his cultivator master alter ego, especially now that she has branded him a pervert.
Lin Qing Yi frowned. She had not misheard. Now she was more confused. She was thankful towards him for saving her life, but then he tried to take advantage of her. She felt conflicted but was too exhausted to analyze further. Instead, she demanded coldly, "Whatever you say, I hope you would keep your promise. Or I won't let you off easy."
"Good, Mistress Lin, your wish is my command." Ling Xian was at his wit's end. Drenching each other in blood, dying together if they must, why did she insist on painting such dramatic scenarios when she was in this sad state?
"Mistress Lin? I never told you my name is Lin," Lin Qing Yi's suspicion was suddenly reignited. She was certain they had met before. Though, she simply couldn't place his face.
Eyeing the youth in front her once more, his eyes were dark and stern, his eyes sparkled with pride, his face as handsome as the moon, his form sturdy and imposing, what an upstanding looking youth.
From his appearance alone, he seemed to be a strong and honest man.
If they had met before, even if some details were to escape her, it was impossible to not remember meeting a man such as him.
But Lin Qing Yi had no memory of ever meeting this man. Suddenly, an impossible idea floated through her mind.
Could it be…
"Ah…" Ling Xian was taken aback by his mistake. He let out a nervous laughter and said, "The Mistress of the Lin Clan, the only cultivator of the eighth realm in the entire City of Qing, who wouldn't know of you."
Lin Qing Yi raised one eyebrow. This explanation was not a stretch. But she couldn't help but sense that something was amiss here, something important was missing.
"Ok, you rest. I wish you a swift recovery and escape the company of this pervert,. Ling Xian gave her an awkward smile and left the cave.
[Hearing his voice alone, this man could very well be the master cultivator.] Lin Qing Yi followed Ling Xian's disappearing shadow as he exited the cave. However, remembering what perverted act she had opened her eyes to, this thought quickly vanished from her realm of possibilities. "Impossible, the master cultivator could never have the character of a pervert."
"But, perhaps he was just caught in the moment. He's only a youth, and he never expressed any form of aggression. He also saved my life. Perhaps I was too hard on him." Lin Qing Yi continued debating both sides of her theory. Suddenly, she remembered one more thing.
How did he manage to extract poison from her body?
From her knowledge of the Xuan Ming Snake family, this type of poison was both lethal and binding. There was also no known antidote for this type of poison, therefore eliminating the possibility that the youth had ordered the Snake to expel the poison from her body. Then, how did he manage?
Could it be… him?
Lin Qing Yi recalled how the master cultivator extracted poison from the body of the Mayor's daughter, saving her life, and how as a result, the magical Flame of Purity came to be in his possession.
Recounting the youth's familiar voice and demeanor, as well as the little slip of his tongue in narrating an encounter she did not remember, the last shred of doubt had disappeared.
Yes, it's him!
It must be him!
Lin Qing Yi was elated, but just as she opened her lips to call his name, she noticed that the figure she had dreamt about had all but disappeared from outside the cave.
After exiting the cave, Ling Xian immediately entered the Painting of the Nine Immortals.
Since entering the Hidden Territory over half a month ago, Ling Xian had not had the opportunity to visit Liao Cang Qiong. He missed his Master and longed for his advice.
"Ah, you finally decided to pay me a visit," Liao Cang Qiong's voice sounded bittersweet, a ghostly form materialized.
"Almighty Master, I've been flustered the past few weeks. You won't even imagine what I had to go through. Epic battles, hundreds of beasts, I could have died nine times over!" Ling Xian scratched his nose.
"Of course I know. I've seen every encounter you've had these past days. You've done brilliantly, killing hundreds of beasts, summoning the Winged Blitz under such duress. Your potential is now beyond my imagination," Liao Cang Qiong stroked his beard and said proudly.
He was beyond satisfied with his student.
Ling Xian was thrilled to hear such praises but became confused with what he said. "Master, if you knew, why didn't you speak or appear to me?"
"Of course I'd love to wander outside a bit for some fresh air." Liao Cang Qiong sighed. "But now I am trapped in this spirit body that is very weak, even though it is in the form of an immortal. The special atmosphere inside the Hidden Territory naturally expels any form of supernatural quality. Unless I risk everything, as long as I am inside the Hidden Territory, I cannot exit the Painting of the Nine Immortals."
Ling Xian was not pleased with this news, "That's quite unfortunate. I have offended every beast inside this realm, including four beasts of the eighth realm. Without you, how can I ever defeat them?"
"You did this to yourself, so you must solve it yourself. I can't lend you any assistance in my current state. I wouldn't even if I could." Liao Cang Qiong giggled. "Don't you think this is a great challenge?"
"A great challenge indeed." Ling Xian lowered his gaze in distress. He continued, "I'm not concerned with the others, but the four Almighty Rulers, I'm no match for them. Master, would you honestly let me die here?"
"What are you afraid of? You've awakened the Winged Blitz, the second of the Eyes of Execution. Even if you can't defeat them, escape is not a challenge." Liao Cang Qiong continued with a sigh, "When I was young, I attempted to hunt down a Kun Hawk. The Hawk had not even reached adulthood. I thought it would take me no time, but after a year I still hadn't succeeded, so I gave up on it. The Winged Blitz is just as speedy as the Kun Hawk, you won't have any trouble escaping."
"I am relieved," Ling Xian let out a gentle sigh. He agreed, if he couldn't defeat them, he could always escape. The thought of the beasts still at large inside the Hidden Territory always made him a little uneasy, but the words of Liao Cang Qiong succeeded in calming his nerves.
"Ok, I've told you the bad news, now, the good news." Liao Cang Qiong revealed a rather mysterious smile and gave Ling Xian the news that sent him into overdrive.
"The second Immortal is about to be awakened."