"I'm okay now, Yundong . . . Really . "
Li Yundong put the glass of water on the floor and looked at Su Chan worriedly .
"Are you sure? Coz . . . Fifteen minutes ago, you really looked like you were about to die . " Li Yundong's heart clenched at the memory .
Su Chan stood up and started jumping up and down . "Hehehe . . . See! I'm fine . . . Woohoo! Weee—"
Li Yundong pulled her into a crushing hug . "I'm so sorry . . . Su Chan . . . This is all my fault . God damn it . I should've come home as soon as I left the company . I should've been here! I shouldn't . . . I shouldn't have let you go through all that alone . . . "
A moment later, Li Yundong felt the light strokes of Su Chan's finger on his scalp . He closed his eyes to savor the feeling . He could've lost her tonight, but he didn't . She was still here, alive . And that was all that mattered .
"It's okay, Yundong . . . You came back in time . You saved me . I'm alright now . See?" Su Chan pulled away . And good God, that smile could light up his whole world .
Li Yundong lifted his hand and let his fingers trailed along the planes of her cheek . "Are you really okay? I don't know what the hell she did, but she hurt you really bad . I've never seen you so…" So lifeless . So debilitated . "I mean, that was the worst shape I've ever seen you in . "
Su Chan shook her head gently . "The damage isn't physical . It's . . . "
Li Yundong jerked back in surprise . "What? What do you mean it's not physical? Are you hurt elsewhere?" He scanned Su Chan's body up and down .
Su Chan looked away . "It's the aura . I was incapacitated because I was exposed to its aura . " Su Chan pointed at the red damask lying on the floor .
Li Yundong stared at the damask while secretly entertaining thoughts about burning the damn thing to ashes .
"Don't bother . You can't destroy it," Su Chan said as if reading his thoughts .
Li Yundong shot her a worried glance . "But . . . Is it . . . Is it still affecting you?"
Su Chan shook her head . "No . The magic is gone . "
Li Yundong lowered his head with a sigh . Moments later, he glanced at Su Chan again . "How are you feeling?"
"Tired . . . " Su Chan said . "But I'm fine . You mobilized my Qi when you gave me the massage . The movement of my Qi helped expel the aura from my body . "
Li Yundong huffed, then ran a hand through his hair . "This is all on me . I should've done something . " He paced back and forth in the living room . "I should've told you something about the noise instead of just dismissing it . " He stopped pacing and stared at Su Chan . "Remember that day when Ruan Hongling visited us?"
Su Chan nodded meekly .
Li Yundong shook his head in disgust . "Yeah . That's the first time I heard the swishing noise . Heard it after Ruan Hongling left . It sounded like someone waving a flag . Now we know what was causing it . " He glared at the red damask .
Su Chan sighed . "It doesn't matter Yundong . It has a stealth mode where it turns invisible . "
"So she's been spying on us . . . since . . . ?"
Su Chan shrugged . "My guess? Since the day she knocked on our door . "
"Right . . . Wait . Is that why you hid inside your room that day? Not because . . . " Not because we made out like a bunch of horny teenagers and you got scared, he added silently .
"Yeah . . . But I was listening to your conversation . . . "
Li Yundong frowned . Something felt off . "Those guys have been hunting you since you stole the . . . " Li Yundong pointed at his chest .
Su Chan smiled wryly . "You can say it, Yundong . It doesn't matter anymore . "
Right . Their cover was blown anyway . Li Yundong cleared his throat . "When Ruan Hongling came by the other day, it didn't seem like she knew you were here . She kept introducing herself to me . Then she asked me about my school and who my master is . " Come to think of it, Lin Youfa kept asking him the same thing as well . Maybe it was a Cultivator thing .
Su Chan toyed with her sleeves . "That's because she really didn't know that day . I hid my aura well . " Su Chan looked him in the eye . "I think she came that day because she was curious about you . "
"Me? But how could she possibly . . . " Li Yundong sighed and let his chin drop to his chest . "Right . Because I roared in the middle of the night like some nutcase . "
"She must have traced your roar to this area," Su Chan said pensively . "Only a Cultivator can roar that loudly and for such a long period of—"
Li Yundong groaned and slapped his forehead . "Damn it, I'm such an idiot . . . "
Li Yundong stared at Su Chan . "She didn't have to trace the roar here . She lives in this area . I actually saw her the first day we moved here . "
Su Chan frowned . "What? Where?"
Li Yundong sighed . "At the gazebo near the gates . I didn't tell you back then because I didn't think it was significant . She lives in the block just opposite ours . Remember that morning when I first experienced Xianjue? She's the one I saw on the balcony!" Li Yundong sighed again . "After that I guess it just slipped my mind, what with all the crazy shit happening around us . Zhao Yujian, Lin Youfa, and all that crap . . . "
Su Chan sat there quietly with a thoughtful look on her face . Moments later, she closed her eyes and pounded her head with her fist . "Of course . . . Of course she would be living here . . . "
Li Yundong grabbed her fist and ended her bout of self-harm . "What?"
"Don't you see? She's a Cultivator! Of course she would pick this place as her home . This is the ideal place for a Cultivator to stay!"
All those strange criteria Su Chan had when they were apartment hunting suddenly made a lot of sense .
Su Chan chuckled . "Ruan Hongling and I were both thinking like Cultivators . So it's no surprise that we end up staying in the same area . "
Li Yundong shook his head wryly . "I guess it's just shit luck then . . . "
Su Chan snorted . "She must have felt dissatisfied after her first visit . " Su Chan stared at Li Yundong . "You practically dismissed her . "
Li Yundong rolled his eyes . "I thought she was nuts . Can you blame me though? None of the stuff she said made any sense . I even did a search on the internet afterwards . "
Su Chan look adorably puzzled . Silence spread between them, and the look of puzzlement on Su Chan's face deepened .
"What?" Li Yundong asked .
"But we didn't have fish that day . . . or the day after . "
Now it was Li Yundong's turn to look confused . "What? Fish?"
"You said you searched in a net . I thought . . . " Su Chan blushed . "I thought that's . . . that's what they use to c- catch fish . . . "
Li Yundong's laughter expelled every ounce of tension in his body . "Oh, God . . . Seriously, Su Chan . I adore you to death . . . Hahaha . . . You really are something else, you know that?"
"S- Sorry . . . "
Li Yundong reached over and ruffled her hair . "Don't be sorry . I like this innocent side of you . " He sighed . "It's so tiring to deal with schemes and ulterior motives all the time . Being with a girl like you makes life better . "
"E- Even though I'm a troublemaker?"
Li Yundong chuckled . "Yes . Even though you're a troublemaking chipmunk . "
Su Chan pouted and swiped at him .
Li Yundong caught her hand and held it firmly in his palm . "Which means she found you when she was trying to spy on me…"
Su Chan's expression turned grim . "That's partly my fault I guess . . . "
Li Yundong gave her a funny look . "What? Why is it your fault?"
"I got careless . Didn't conceal my aura well enough . . . And you weren't here . "
"Your presence alone can act as a smoke screen," Su Chan explained . "Remember when I told you about the night we first met? I hid the Jindan in your mouth and stayed close to you . Your Yang Qi can mask auras . "
"Is that why you insist on tagging along wherever I go?"
Su Chan nodded . "But that was before . "
Li Yundong's expression softened . "And now?"
"Now it's because I can't imagine my life without you . "
"I think we're all set," Li Yundong said, zipping up the suitcase . "Anything else you wanna bring, princess?"
Li Yundong heaved the suitcase off the bed and placed it on the floor . "Princess?" he said, turning around . Su Chan was sitting on her bed, staring off into space . She was hugging her pillow to her chest .
Something tugged inside Li Yundong's heart . "Do you want to take that pillow with you?" he said, keeping his tone light .
Su Chan's lips quivered . Moments later, she sniffed . Dark spots formed on the pillowcase . Li Yundong walked over and sat down on the bed . "What's the matter, princess? Are you sure you're not hurt anywhere else?"
Su Chan shook her head and rubbed her eyes . "I . . . I'm gonna miss our home . . . "
Li Yundong's features softened . Su Chan had insisted that they stay somewhere else tonight lest Ruan Hongling returned with more reinforcements . Apparently, Su Chan thought they didn't stand a chance against the Zhengyi School, not even with the Jindan . Li Yundong pulled her into his arms . "It's gonna be alright," he said, stroking her hair . "Whatever happens, it's gonna be alright . "
They left the apartment with two suitcases in tow . Li Yundong decided to keep the lease of their apartment until they sorted this mess out, though to be honest, he hadn't a single clue what "sorting things out" would entail . Was the Zhengyi School open to negotiations? Would they leave Su Chan alone if he allowed them to remove the Jindan from his body?
They took a cab to town and wandered around for a bit . Two hours later, they walked into a dingy motel, deciding that it was going to be their place of stay for the time being . They walked up to the reception and booked a single room . With the last of Li Yundong's savings, it was all they could afford .
Li Yundong sat down on the bed with a sigh and pulled Su Chan into his arms . "Looks like it‘s us against the world again . "
Su Chan wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled into his chest . "I'm sorry . . . "
Li Yundong stroked her head . "Don't be silly . You've got nothing to be sorry for . "
"You got into this mess because I came into your life," Su Chan said .
Li Yundong chuckled wryly . "My life was a mess before you came into my life . A meaningless mess . " Li Yundong held her gaze and cupped her cheek . "At least now I've got you . "
Su Chan closed her eyes as though she was feeling his touch . Suddenly, she opened her eyes and pulled his hand away from her face . "You're hurt!"
When Li Yundong followed her gaze, his eyes landed on the circular wound at the center of his palm . The wound had stopped bleeding . It didn't even hurt anymore .
Li Yundong gave her a reassuring smile . "Nah . Don't worry about it . It's just a scratch . "
Su Chan looked at him like it was nuts . "It's not nothing . You were injured by a magical object . "
Li Yundong pulled out the red damask from his pocket and held it out in front of them . "I wonder how this thing works . I mean, right now, it looks just like an ordinary piece of cloth . "
Su Chan took the damask and stared at it in awe . "This thing is made from the Rainbow Cirrus . "
Li Yundong shook his head . "The rainbow what?"
"The Rainbow Cirrus . It's a magical substance found in the Heavenly Lake . "
"The Heavenly Lake . So, what, is that like Cultivators' favorite fishing spot or something?" Li Yundong joked .
Su Chan giggled and smacked his arm . "No, dummy . "
Li Yundong smiled . He loved making Su Chan happy . "This Rainbow Cirrus thing… What does it look like?"
"Well . . . It's a thin, fog-like substance . Just like a thin cloud—a cirrus, basically . And it's colorful . If I'm not mistaken, the former Head of the Zhengyi School had extracted the Rainbow Cirrus from the lake and then made this . " Su Chan handed the damask back to him .
Li Yundong took it and waved it in the air a few times . "What is this thing capable of? I mean other than invisibility and drilling holes into flesh . "
"Well, it's basically indestructible . It is resistant to physical damage . Fire . Wear and tear . All that stuff . And it'll never get dirty . "
Li Yundong stared at her with raised brows .
Su Chan pointed at the nightstand .
Li Yundong reached over and grabbed the half-empty can of coke .
Su Chan took the can . "Hold it away from the bed . "
Li Yundong moved the damask to the side and hold it up beside the nightstand . Su Chan crawled to the edge of the bed . "Now watch . "
Su Chan splashed the coke on to the cloth . The liquid flowed down the length of the damask without wetting it, like one of those hydrophobic materials .
Li Yundong whistled .
Su Chan placed the empty can on the nightstand and crawled back into his arms . "You can try pouring other substances on it . Dirt . Mud . Oil . It will never get stained . Not even corrosive substances can damage it . "
Li Yundong ran his hand over the red cloth . "How does it work though?"
"In its natural state, the damask has thin layer of protective aura surrounding it . The aura repels physical objects . That's why no substance can stain or damage it . "
Li Yundong frowned . "But how come I can still hold it?" He patted the damask for emphasis .
"Take a closer look at where you're touching it . "
Li Yundong brought the damask closer to his face . "Hey . . . that's . . . " Li Yundong's gaze snapped towards Su Chan, who nodded .
"You're not actually touching it . Your skin is actually hovering slightly above it . " Su Chan shrugged . "Maybe a quarter of an inch or so, I guess? But with magic, the protective aura can be enhanced . That's why Cultivators use it as a protective shield against physical attacks and spells . "
Li Yundong nodded . He remembered trying to punch the damask earlier, but none of his punches got through .
Su Chan shook her head . "This is one of Zhengyi School's best magical artifacts . A lot of Cultivators would kill for something like this . . . " Su Chan turned around and stared at him in disbelief . "And yet you grabbed it out of the air just like that . That's amazing…"
Li Yundong chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck . "I don't even know what the hell I did, you know? I think it's because of the Jindan . "
Su Chan nodded . "The wound . The Jindan's protective mechanism was activated the moment the damask pierced your hand . You were able to grab the thing after the Jindan's aura was unleashed . " Su Chan looked at him . "When activated using magic, the damask's protective aura is strong . But it's still no match for the Jindan's aura . But that's wasn't all you did . You managed to deactivate the damask . "
"Because of the Jindan's aura?"
"No . That was because your Spirit is much stronger than Ruan Hongling's Spirit . "
Su Chan nodded . "Ruan Hongling's Spirit was connected to the damask . That's how she was able to control it . But the connection between her Spirit and the damask was severed the moment your Spirit overwhelmed hers . " Su Chan suddenly turned around to face him . "You saw Ruan Hongling with your Xianjue that morning, right? It makes sense now . Your Spirit is stronger than hers . That's why your Xianjue worked . "
Li Yundong folded the damask into a neat square . "There," he said, presenting the folded damask to Su Chan .
Su Chan stared at him blankly . "What?"
Li Yundong smiled . "It's yours . "
"Wha . . . ? Are you giving it to me?"
Li Yundong chuckled . "Of course!"
"B- But it's yours! You took it!"
"What's mine is yours too, isn't it?"
"But . . . " Su Chan stared at him with tears swimming in her eyes .
All of a sudden, Su Chan started to sob . Li Yundong placed the damask on the nightstand . "Hey . . . What's wrong? Why are you crying all of a sudden?"
Su Chan wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face against his chest . "Don't leave… Don't leave me… You can't ever abandon me Yundong! You're stuck with me forever!"
Warmth bloomed inside Li Yundong's heart . "I'm happy to be stuck with you . You're the best thing that's ever happened to me . "
Li Yundong dropped a kiss to her forehead . "Yeah . You are the cutest, the prettiest, and the most adorable . . . . . . "
Su Chan was looking at him expectantly, her eyes sparkling with hope .
" . . . Chipmunk that I've ever met . "
Su Chan's face fell . "Y- You . . . " She gaped like a fish . "Meanie! Meanie! Meanie!" She smacked his chest . "I'm not a cheap monk!"
Li Yundong burst into laughter, then pulled her into his arms . "It's gonna be okay, Su Chan . I've got a job now . We'll work it out . "
Su Chan tensed up the moment he mentioned his job . He wondered why . "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked . "How are you feeling?"
"A little sore . "
Li Yundong frowned . "Where?"
"My foot, I guess?"
"What? Did you sprain it?"
"I don't think I did . But I might not have landed right when I crashed into the wall . "
Li Yundong's eyes glinted with delight .
"Aha! How about I give you a foot rub?"
"I don't get it," Li Yundong said as he stared at Su Chan's delicate and beautiful foot .
Li Yundong chuckled wryly and kneaded the arch of Su Chan's foot . Su Chan let out a breathy moan, causing him to look up . Su Chan stared back at him with glassy eyes, her bottom lip pulled between her teeth . Li Yundong cleared his throat . "I mean I don't get how beautiful girls like you have such nice feet . "
Su Chan gasped and withdrew her feet . "What do you mean beautiful girls like me! Whose feet have you touched? Which girl is it?" she growled .
Li Yundong laughed and pulled her foot back . "Just yours milady! Just yours! So don't be jealous . "
Li Yundong tickled the base of her foot, causing her to giggle .
"Kyaa!!! S- Stop . . . Stop it! Kyaaa . . . hahaha . . . Please . . . "
Li Yundong took pity on her and stopped his tickling . "Don't move," he said sternly .
"Oh . "
The next few minutes passed in comfortable silence with Li Yundong gently kneading the soft skin of Su Chan's foot and Su Chan letting out a moan or two .
A while later, Li Yundong could feel Su Chan's eyes on him . He looked up from her foot and smiled . "You're staring . "
Su Chan smiled back at him sweetly . "You're so nice to me, beloved . "
Li Yundong chuckled . "Of course . " A teasing glint formed in his eyes . "Like I said, you're the cutest chip—"
Su Chan kicked his chest gently . "Do not say cheap monk!"
Li Yundong laughed and trapped her foot against his chest . Then, he gave her a genuine smile . "Of course I'm nice to you . You're my best girl . "
Su Chan blushed and looked away .
Li Yundong went back to rubbing her foot .
A moment later, Su Chan spoke again . "Aren't you curious?"
Li Yundong kept his eyes on her foot . "About what?"
"Ruan Hongling kept calling me a demon witch," she said with childlike tentativeness . "She associated me with the dark side . Aren't you gonna ask what she meant?"
Li Yundong snorted . "Those people from the Zhengyi School . . . They act all high and mighty, like everything they do is righteous . But the truth is that they are nothing but bigots . Extremists . They would probably label anyone who holds different views as evil . "
"B- But . . . What if . . . What if one day I turned into a demon . . . Would you still . . . "
Li Yundong laughed . "So? I don't give a damn even if you turn into a demon . "
"But… why not?"
"Well… Because I know you . I've seen your actions . And based on what I saw, I know you have a good heart . "
"Do I?" Su Chan suddenly pulled her foot back and hugged her knees . "All I did was cause trouble for everyone . . . "
Li Yundong shook his head and climbed onto the bed . "You care, Su Chan," he said, cupping her cheeks . "You care about people, even when you don't realize it . You care about me, about Zhou Qin, and even Feng Na . " He paused to let that sink in . "After that DVD incident, you asked me whether Feng Na would get into trouble because you were worried about her . " Li Yundong held her gaze . "See? You care . And during the fight with Lin Youfa, when the bastard kicked the car towards me, you were willing to risk your life to help move those injured students away . You even came back for me when you could've left . "
Li Yundong pulled her into his arms . "You're a good person, Su Chan . Never doubt that . "
Su Chan pulled away, and their gazes met . Su Chan's eyes were filled with unspoken emotions .
"People can call you a demon witch or whatever . I don't give a damn . To me, you'll always be my best girl . "
"I love you, Yundong . "
Li Yundong smiled . "I love you too . "
Su Chan leaned in, and their lips met in a blaze of passion . Su Chan's hands went to his hair, tugging and pulling . Li Yundong responded with equal fervor, pouring every ounce of affection he felt for this woman into the kiss .
Minutes later, they parted for air . "Yundong . . . We can't continue," she said, panting heavily . "Not yet . "
Li Yundong leaned forward until their foreheads touched . "I know . And you didn't take my advice . "
Li Yundong chuckled . "I told you, remember? If I ever go too far, just kick me in the nuts . "
They stared into each other's eyes, their foreheads still touching . A moment later, they both started laughing .