Gu Yu zigzagged through the gloomy mountain tracks in the desolation of this moonlit night. Above his head, the moon hung as clear and bright as a suspending mirror.
He walked at a brisk pace, landing his feet on the thawing ground, grass, and stones, his figure melting into the moonlight like an elongated, carefree, and dancing shadow.
Walking out of the black thorny forest, he reached the small river and was welcomed by three dots of light. In the dark night, they reminded him of lonely and still specters.
They were the result of Xiaozhai's twisted sense of humor. She went all the way to purchase three red lanterns, hanging one on the old tree and the other two at the courtyard gate. With the long and thick candles inside, they would burn throughout the night.
Had anyone accidentally entered the area, they would probably be frightened to death 1 even if they managed to survive the mosquitoes.
It was already very late and he could not hear a sound from Xiaozhai and Long Qiu's meditation rooms. It seemed they had both gone to bed. He did not disturb them, but went back to his room right away and turned on the light.
Gu Yu did not feel like sleeping yet, so he sat down cross-legged and took out the small gourd to study it.
He had collected three streaks of the peach flower miasma, which remained as it was and did not show any signs of dissipating even after leaving the peach tree woods for so long. It confirmed one of his theories—a spiritual substance required a spiritual container.
By "spiritual", he was referring to rare objects that were highly active on its own, such as the peach flower miasma, a dug-out hundred-year-old ginseng, various pellets and medicinal powders he was going to refine in the future, etc.
The examples above belonged to a more advanced category, while spiritual yet common minerals, trees, and even jade caskets and wooden boxes built from these substances were of a lower grade, hence they were only passable as containers.
This finding alone could become one of the fundamental laws of cultivation.
What did fundamental laws refer to?
Well, in a more illustrative way: 1+1=2. Only by figuring out the most basic rules could one advance further along the path and reach a higher level.
Gu Yu sat by the lamp and turned the emerald-like gourd between his fingers while sorting through what he knew so far in detail.
The peach flower miasma was as extraordinary as it was versatile. Now that
he was able to collect a little, how could he make use of it?
So far, he had the essence-consuming method, could conjure a vision, refine instruments, use the hand movements he learned from Xiaozhai, there was also the talisman practice from Tan Chongdai...
'Wait, talismans?' He blinked.
Only five types of talismans were left among the heritage of Qionglong Mountain, namely the Golden Armor, Bone-melting, Snake-expelling, Miscarriage-preventing, Bed-wetting Cure talismans. He and Xiaozhai had had a fair amount of practice but found few occasion to put them into use. They were set aside for the most part.
Gu Yu pondered it for long and shook his head in the end. It did not look promising, for talismans and the peach flower miasma were of two completely different systems… what else had he learned?
Another moment passed and his face lit up suddenly. How could he forget his very first specialty?
'I am an incense maker!'
The scent of burning incense was diffused by air and so was the peach flower miasma. The two had this in common. If he could figure out a way to fuse the miasma into the incense, there would be a good chance to create a toxic incense slow in taking effect and could also affect the mind.
The idea excited him at once. He almost could not wait to try it out.
Right at that moment, the door to the neighboring house was opened and with some shuffling footsteps, a slender shadow appeared outside his window. "Are you asleep?"
"Nope, come in."
With that, the shadow disappeared from the window and his door was opened. The person landing swiftly on his doorstep like a night fairy was none other than Xiaozhai herself.
Her hair hung loose on her shoulders and she was wearing a long night gown. It was slightly tighter around the cuffs and the waistline, but was quite loose at the hem, revealing her fair-skinned and smooth calves.
It was the most familiar sight to Gu Yu, which usually would not raise his eyebrow. However, for some unknown reason tonight, his heart skipped a beat and he had to look away when he asked, "Why are you up?"
"Can't sleep, so I thought I should come over and check up on you. How's everything?"
She slouched down opposite of him and casually stretched out her legs, which reminded him of two stems of long, straight white lotus roots. Under the lamp light, they seemed to be painted with the faintest pink color.
"Not so good. A peach flower miasma has formed there and was expanding. They've decided to evacuate
evacuate the area…" Keeping his head down, he quickly narrated the event in a low voice.
"Oh? It seems the rate of catalysis in the nodes is far faster than at other places. We might get fairies and goblins in a few years."
Xiaozhai was also surprised by his account of the event. She then moved closer to take the little gourd from his hands.
Gu Yu was feeling all the more strange as she moved near. A scent seemed to be drifting from her body, somewhat cloying and soft, which reminded him of ripened apricots. The closer she got, the harder he found it to keep his eyes open. The sweet temptation of sleepiness was getting to him.
"This has actually turned out to be useful. We should get more gourds from now on. And there's that old tree we can use. Cut some branches down and we can made some wooden caskets out of them."
Xiaozhai played with the gourd for a while, not venturing to open it before giving it back. She then asked, "So, what's the arrangement for the evacuated residents?"
"Allocate to different areas, I guess. Bai Town is the nearest and I think most people will be sent there. Zhang Hongru and his men will handle it. If things go as planned, they will probably strengthen the defenses and clear the fields."
"But even if they could trap the miasma on the island, it's still a potential threat that needs to be solved as soon as possible. Sigh, if only they had some relevant formations, Taoist methods, or even theories to work on, we could cooperate with them."
"Yeah, that sounds plausible. The formation left by Patriarch Sa is way too profound. There is no way of understanding it unless one had a significant amount of knowledge…"
They sat opposite of each other and chatted on casually.
Xiaozhai was as normal as when she came in. Gu Yu, on the other hand, felt himself getting warmer and his mouth becoming dry. Something was off.
Gu Yu was no virgin and had slept with a girl before, so he was well aware of his reaction—the sign of sexual arousal. Such thought had skipped him ever since he started cultivating, but somehow, it was acting out very strangely today.
There was actually a very simple explanation: he had underestimated the peach flower miasma. The most potent effect of the miasma lay neither in the corrosion nor the hallucinogenic quality, but in its ability to break through any form of barrier, bringing out one's lust.
And lust was an instinct, not something one obtained through external aids.
Theoretically, if he went on consuming essences and cultivating, the toxin would dissipate and eventually fade away in a few days. However, it just so happened that Xiaozhai walked into his room tonight.
"Hey, what's going on in your head?"
Noticing that he had gone silent for no reason, Xiaozhai leaned her head forward as usual and almost brushed the tip of his nose with hers, ready to tease him.
Little did she know, however, this experienced driver was heading for a ditch tonight.
The delicate face swayed in front of him like a silver moon and something snapped in Gu Yu's mind. He reached out and kissed her full on the mouth.
Her soft and rosy lips tasted like freshly made fruit stuffing; they were warm and tender.
Xiaozhai was taken by surprise. She backed away slightly and asked, "What are you doing?"
The taste of those cherry lips only aggravated his desire. Another peachy flash flickered past his eyes as he answered with a slightly husky voice, "I was thinking, can you stay here for the night?"
Looking into that flickering flash, an ambiguous smile swept across Xiaozhai's face. "Sure!"
The reply brought an unnatural blush to Gu Yu's cheeks. Without knowing it, he was pulling her into his arms.
As the saying went, true beauty was determined not by the skin, but what lay underneath. What it meant was that one should not judge other people by their appearance, but should instead focus on the intrinsic qualities. As correct as that explanation was, the saying was not wrong on a literal level either.
The appearance of a person was essentially determined by their bone structure, which ultimately rendered how good- or bad-looking one could be.
The profile of the head should be round and narrower when observed from the front.
The shoulders should be flat, straight, wide, and stretched out. Corresponding to the shoulders, the collar bones should have a sharp downward curve. The ribs should form a perfect upside-down triangle, wider at the top and gradually narrowing down, which was how a natural narrow waist was formed.
The neck should be slender, the lumbar area was to be straight and upright with a forward curve, and the tailbone should have a backward curve. The hipbone should be slightly higher, so that the line from the waist down to the buttocks would look steeper.
The requirement for the limbs were simple. The upper arms, forearms, thighs, shins, fingers, and toes all should be long and straight.
The knees and calves should be able to be held together without gaps. together without gaps. The insteps should be narrow, the arches high, and the toes slender. In that case, one could tangle, strut, prop, and bump up and down for long without tiring 2 .
Having been practicing martial arts since childhood, Xiaozhai had the perfect bone structure, which was dazzling to look at. On those bones was the muscle, which was covered by her exquisite, bright, and spotless skin. She felt as fine and smooth as a warm jade stone to the touch.
Holding the soft body, Gu Yu felt he was in the clouds. As he mumbled, he swiftly removed her robe with his fingertip. Now he could feel the soft hairs on her shoulders.
As if in a trance, they were unknowingly turning into animals.
His hair hung loose on her neck as he buried his head there like a beast who had found a thread of water in a dark cave. He licked with his rolling tongue.
She was now a bat hanging upside down from the entrance of the cave, her hiding place deep in the mountains suddenly exposed and invaded by the beast, who was now sipping her in nips.
Gu Yu was getting rougher with his movements. His hands slipped down, reaching between her legs.
Tilting her head, Xiaozhai was gently holding his warm body when she called out suddenly.
He replied half-heartedly.
Fighting back her equally strong urge, Xiaozhai sighed despite herself. "As much as I want to ride you this moment, you're SPOILING THE FUN!"TL/N: In case anyone's wondering, lonely red lanterns can be a creepy sight in dark nights and I believe they're an element quite often used in Chinese scary movies. TL/N: Yup, the author's suggesting the activity you're thinking of.