Chapter 62: Cross-Country Marathon

In Beiying’s Imperial City

After leaving the palace, the party took a break at Qi Wan’s inn. Qi Wan asked Gu Qingyu. "Boss, where is the next stop?"

"Wait, let me see ..." Gu Qingyu held the Spirit Gem in her hand and closed her eyes gently. Yan Zun floated in the air and carefully sensed the Spirit Gem through Gu Qingyu.

His intoxicating voice rang beside her ear. "Xiqian."

"Yeah, Xiqian...wait, what did I just say?" Gu Qingyu surprised herself. "Xiqian?"

"The Xiqian Kingdom is one of the four kingdoms here." Qi Yichen explained while fanning himself. It was already winter, but he did not seem to mind. With his fan and his white robes, his scholar persona was immaculate. 

"We just came from the east and now we're heading to the west?" Gu Qingyu threw her hands in the air, her sleeve flapped in the air. "Ah! My life is practically a cross-country marathon! I have been crossing actual countries!"

Qi Wan looked dazed. "What are you talking about, why haven't I heard anything like it before?"

"Hmph, there's more where that came from." Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. "Golden one-liners produced by Zhu Fan! Yeah!"

"Then shall we set off as soon as possible?" Murong Zuoyu finally lost his patience and jumped into the conversation.

 

"Yeah, let's go, right now!" Gu Qingyu glanced at the horses outside. "Are they all well fed?"

"One bite of whatever Qi Wan eats would be enough for them." Jia Qizhe sat down casually. Qi Wan thought for a long while before he realised what Jia Qizhe had meant. Yet just when he was about to defend himself, Gu Qingyu dashed out like a gust of wind. "Daisy! Darling! I have missed you! Come, give me a hug!"  The dark horse immediately fizzled, as if it had been frightened.

"You missed me too, right? I know I know, I miss you too~" Gu Qingyu hugged Daisy, "Don't move, let me hold you~ Oh my little Daisy, you are so thin!"

Qi Wan had a sullen look. "Boss, I've lost weight too!"

"Let's go, Daisy!" Gu Qingyu unfastened Daisy, got on the saddle and shouted at the rest of the party. "What are you all staring at? Let's go already!" The party snapped out of their confusion and went to their own horses. 

 

En-route

Gu Qingyu snacked as they walked down the street on horseback.

"Why, are you still hungry?" Jia Qizhe watched her with a slight tug on his lips. 

Gu Qingyu shook her head. "No, I'm just bored."

That's a good enough reason. 

"If we go on like this, how many days will it take to get there?" Gu Qingyu turned around to look at Jia Qizhe and handed a small bag of snacks over. Jia Qizhe took the snacks and slowly took out a piece of it into his mouth. The level of elegance was so different from Gu Qingyu. "On a quick horse, plus a few of us are experts. About ten days. "

"Well, that's quick." Gu Qingyu nodded. She could see the city gates in the distance, so she bought more snacks and tossed that whole bag to Qi Wan. "Hold on to it for me, no eating."

Qi Wan nodded helplessly. "Ok, I won't."

Gu Qingyu hmph-ed and went on.

 

At sunset, they came to the foot of a mountain.

Gu Qingyu leaned back as she tried to make out the mountain peak that reached into the clouds. "Are you sure it's ten days, not ten years?"

"That's why I said, on a fast horse, with experts, ten days." Jia Qizhe glanced at Gu Qingyu, his voice was charming as always. 

"Well, it's getting dark, let's spend the night at the foot of the mountain! "Gu Qingyu looked around. "So, set up a grass shed? Or a tent?"

Jia Qizhe rolled his eyes silently. "Little Yu'er, you know, a master like me, I can go up and back down this mountain in two hours. So what need is there for a grass tent?"

Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. "Fine! Since you're so good, then it's not too late after all. Let's go!"

"Really?" Qi Wan whined. They released the horses back to nature, and soon, halfway up the mountain, several people had to stop to catch their breath and wipe down their sweat. Well, only Gu Qingyu, Qi Wan, Qi Yichen, and Xiao Qi.

 

"There are a lot of demons at night." Jia Qizhe sighed. "That's why I suggested not to come up here so early, Little Yu'er. We should have waited till tomorrow morning."

"Did you really say that?" Gu Qingyu has repeatedly confirmed. "I'm pooped!" The Soul Chain in her hands activated automatically. It circled around her and protected her. But whenever the demons attacked her, Jia Qizhe and Mo Bai would strike first, she could not get a chance to defend herself at all. 

"Boss, your chain is quite powerful." Qi Wan stared at the Soul Chain curiously. 

"Of course." Gu Qingyu answered with a huff. "It's just a pity, I don't have a chance to use it."

"You don't need to use weapons, you know? The point is to look badass!" Qi Wan replied with a straight face. "Look at my weapons, I don't get much use of them either."

 

Suddenly, the bushes in front of them rustled loudly, and a demon jumped out with a loud roar. "This is the biggest demon I've ever seen!" Gu Qingyu was startled. But she did not know that the demon before her was still considered as fairly small.

Jia Qizhe silently summoned his sword, and Mo Bai slowly pulled out the flute from his waist.

"Stop, stop, stop! Just let me try this time!" Gu Qingyu immediately stopped Jia Qizhe and Mo Bai. "You two, give me a little room to grow! OK?"

"Fine." Jia Qizhe sheathed his sword.

"Good luck, Yu'er." Mo Bai smiled warmly and slipped his flute back to its holster on his waist. 

Gu Qingyu's Soul Chain launched and attacked the demon. The demon roared and tried to knock down the chain, but the chain countered the demon by winding tightly around it. Gu Qingyu kept the assault and removed the lotus around her neck. In her hand, the Devouring Lotus bloomed in a blinding red light. The light expanded and engulfed everything. Boom! Thud! The red light dissipated, and the Soul Chain returned to Gu Qingyu's hands, winding around her left hand. The red lotus, in full bloom, sat quietly on her right hand.

"Boss..." Qi Wan stared blankly at her. She didn't realise it, but in that moment, red light glowed from her right hand while blue light covered her left hand. Three pairs of wings were spread out behind her, all of them were pure white and covered in feathers. It reminded Qi Wan of the myths he read before his transmigration, the myth of the six-winged Seraph of Holy Light. That was the last fallen holy angel, who possessed incomparably powerful magic. But Gu Qingyu's wings only opened for a moment, and soon the snowy white halo that surrounded her disappeared, and those wings slowly dissipated in the air. The weapon in her hand calmed.

"What's wrong? Why are you looking at me like this?" Gu Qingyu looked at everyone doubtfully, then a knowing smile split across her face. "Oh~ I know~ Do you think I'm so heroic, with a wild sense of rationality. Just like a man full of gusto, so all of you have been deeply convinced, filled with admiration and you all want to learn from me?"

"Brother Zhu, you can shut up." Qi Yichen regained his senses. He waved his fan first then sneezed. "Ah! The cold wind of this night makes this scholar's heart shiver."

Gu Qingyu looked at him sympathetically. "Beware! Your liver might shiver too. Would you like me to fan you a few more times, and help you with that?"

"Cough cough! This scholar thanked Brother Zhu for his kindness, no need." Qi Yichen closed his fan with a sullen mood.

"Yu'er," Mo Bai examined the demon carcass on the ground. "Are you hungry?"

"Of course I'm hungry!" Gu Qingyu nodded vigorously. She pulled out a snack from her pocket and stuffed it in her mouth.

Mo Bai was not at all surprised at her reaction. "This type of demons are called Lin. It tastes delicious. Want to give it a try?"

"I want!" Gu Qingyu nodded immediately. Mo Bai walked towards the demon carcass with a ball of fire in his hand. The flame warmed Gu Qingyu.

 

"Why, cold?" Jia Qizhe glanced at her, took off his coat and covered her with it. "I told you not to come up and you didn't listen."

"Let me reiterate, you did not say anything like that!" Gu Qingyu glared at Jia Qizhe, she pulled his coat around her and walked to Mo Bai's side, kissing the fragrant aroma of barbequed meat.

"Don't worry, it'll be done soon." Mo Bai had a meat skewer in his hand. He got up and handed it to Gu Qingyu. "Try it first, there's still more."

"Thank you Mo Bai!" Gu Qingyu took it happily and took a bite. In an instant, the flavour of meat spread rapidly through her mouth. "Yep! It's as delicious as I thought!"

"Brother Mo, I want some too." Qi Wan looked at him with pleading eyes. 

Mo Bai glanced at Qi Wan lightly, and with the jade flute in his hand, pointed at what's left. Then, he walked to Gu Qingyu's side with a faint smile. "Did you like it, Yu'er?"

"Of course, I love it!" Gu Qingyu nodded immediately. "Whoever marries Mo Bai will die happily!" Mo Bai's smile did not change, he nodded slightly.

Jia Qizhe joined them with freshly-grilled skewers. "Little Yu'er, try mine."

"Jia Qizhe!" Gu Qingyu immediately took the one in his hand happily and took a bite. "Your cooking is the best!" She still remembered the grilled fish he made last time. A devious smirk spread across Jia Qizhe's face, directed at Mo Bai. Mo Bai narrowed his eyes slightly as he returned Jia Qizhe’s look. There were traces of darkness in his eyes and a bottomless abyss.

Jia Qizhe turned away, he reached out and touched Gu Qingyu's head. "As long as you like it, Little Yu'er."

Gu Qingyu led the party with a skewer in hand. The sizzling barbecued meat, together with Jia Qizhe's warm coat, chased the cold away. She shared the barbecue with Xiao Qi, but she gently refused her offer. Having just left the palace, she too was dressed in warm clothes. It was the same imperial robes but without the extravagant hairpins. On the other hand, Qi Yichen and Qi Wan shivered, they were not dressed for the snowy hike. Finally, Qi Yichen asked Qi Wan, "Brother Qi Wan, can you help me grill some?"

"My hands are already frozen stiff. Brother Qi, please help me instead?"

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