Long Feiye was just one step away from cultivation deviation.
He was clutching onto Han Yunxi from behind, wishing he could embed the woman into his body and simply become one with her, then they could bear the pain together.
He buried his head in the crook of her neck, his lips pressed against her shoulder, wanting to bite her. But in the end it became a kiss, one he was loath to end.
At the daring brink of death, how could Han Yunxi not long for this embrace, and the warmth of his lips. She was so, so exhausted, so much so that she couldn't think about the qi and blood coursing through her body in reverse flow. She just wanted to stay paralyzed in Long Feiye's embrace and sleep.
Suddenly, something hot and wet dripped down the nape of her neck. She felt and saw her fingers come away bloody.
That was enough to snap her back to her senses, and she jerked around to find Long Feiye's face pale, a skim of blood at the corner of his mouth.
Their dual cultivation was cut short. At best, she had been hit back by her Nirvana Heart Arts, and Long Feiye had endured the same from his Lustbite energy.
Han Yunxi was terrified and without an ounce of hesitation she drew Long Feiye's sword and put it in his hands.
"Long Feiye, there's no time, hurry!" she said anxiously.
Long Feiye had actually stabilized the turbulent current of blood and qi within him. He reached out and gently wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth, and just like every time they dual cultivated, he smoothed her bangs and said "be more careful".
He handed his Profound Frost Sword to Han Yunxi and instead used his scabbard. They were working hard together, composing themselves while stabilizing their internal energy and fighting off the reversed flow of blood and qi coursing through them.
The sharp clang of the sharp edge of the Profound Frost Sword banging against the hard scabbard snapped everyone out of their reverie.
Gu Qishao's taut nerves relaxed at once as he saw Long Feiye and Han Yunxi crossing swords, and he felt a powerful force encircling the two of them, overflowing, and his heart, which had been caught as if suspended in midair could now finally relax.
He knew there was still time for everything. Their dual cultivation would not be interrupted.
At ease, Gu Qishao now finally felt fatigue coming on. He watched and watched, until his whole body pitched backward and he lay on the ground facing the sky.
He heard the intermittent clangs of clashing swords while he thought back to that taste of death he had had before. He slowly closed his eyes and slept...
By the time Gu Qishao woke up, it was already noon of the next day.
Han Yunxi was curled up in Long Feiye's arms, sleeping peacefully, and Long Feiye seemed to be sleeping too, his brow heavy with fatigue. Though they had been in a helpless state, they were now snuggled up to each other peacefully. It was a more lovely sight than anything in this world.
As soon as he laid eyes on Han Yunxi, Gu Qishao wanted to run over and hold her. But, this scene stopped him short.
He was only a dozen or so steps away from them. Without a sound, he reached his hand out, really wanting to stroke her cheek and feel her existence, wanted to gather her tightly in his arms, wanted to smooth her bangs and tell her, "Poison lass, we made it through, it's alright."
But he could only want it. His hand stopped in midair and finally dropped slowly to his side.
He laughed softly, partly at himself, but mostly carefree. He looked over randomly and was struck by the sight of the Pill Furnace Master with an odd look on his face.
His gentle gaze turned at once to a glower and he snapped, "Go bring some food, and it better be hot!"
The Pill Furnace Master felt a particular familiarity when he saw Gu Qishao's gentle look, but he had not gotten a good enough look when he was snapped at.
He seemed to want to ask something, but in the end he didn't open his mouth but silently turned and left.
Though he had no flesh wounds, Gu Qishao's internal injuries were not slight.
He was all grown up, yet the first time faced with such a dangerous situation he had truly narrowly escaped death.
He turned his back to Han Yunxi and Long Feiye, doing his darndest to restrain his thoughts. He sat in the lotus position and began to heal his internal injuries.
When the Pill Furnace Master came back, Han Yunxi and the others had finished healing. They all watched as he approached, as if they had been waiting for him.
The Pill Furnace Master had seen Han Yunxi and Long Feiye cultivating last night, had witnessed the Lustbite energy, so he more or less knew what was up. He knew he had stumbled into a heap of trouble. Those three staring at him made his blood freeze and he dared not get closer.
Whatever, Long Feiye had his horrifying Lustbite energy, but he never imagined Han Yunxi was harboring Phoenix energy. Those two were not to be trifled with. He must not provoke them!
The Pill Furnace Master was afraid, but he was filled with all sorts of emotions. He was not about to let this thing go. If he could receive Han Yunxi as a disciple, that would be great. Her Phoenix energy not only could help him refine a lot of pills, it could help him foster his Celestial Fire Qian Furnace!
The Pill Furnace Master took a few steps back, thinking to hide, when Long Feiye called out icily, "Hold it right there!"
The Pill Furnace Master chuckled and said, "Everyone must be hungry, I'll go prepare some food for you."
Whether he was really stupid and crazy or just faking it, Long Feiye wasn't falling for it.
He shot him a savage look and the Pill Furnace Master didn't dare budge.
"Get over here, we have a few questions to ask you," Han Yunxi said.
The Pill Furnace Master didn't dare get too close. He sat cross-legged on the ground in front of them. Gu Qishao glanced at him but lowered his head and said nothing.
"Just what is this Phoenix energy?" Han Yunxi asked in earnest.
After she and Long Feiye had cultivated together, their blood and qi had resumed its normal course. She clearly felt a wriggling force running along her back.
But this force was wholly unfamiliar to her.
It normally took three days and three nights to regenerate her Nirvana energy, but this time she had spent just six hours. Now, she didn't know just what this Phoenix energy within her really was.
If the Pill Furnace Master had not mentioned it, they would have not known such a power existed.
The Pill Furnace Master eyed Han Yunxi suspiciously. "You... You didn't know you possessed Phoenix energy?"
"Are you going to tell me what it is or not?" Han Yunxi said, somewhat anxiously.
The Pill Furnace Master crept closer. "First, let me feel your pulse."
Han Yunxi held her arm out and the Pill Furnace Master took her pulse. He was now even more sure of what he had thought last night.
He said, "Phoenix energy is an ancient martial arts force. There's no secret manual for it, no cultivation method. It emerges from within and is passed on from generation to generation. However, not everyone who inherits it is able to call it forth."
Having said that, Han Yunxi and the others understood.
It seemed the phoenix birthmark of the West Qin imperial clan was the mark of Phoenix energy inheritance. It's just that no one had known.
In that case, it seemed Phoenix energy and Lustbite energy were the same, ancient martial arts forces. The difference was that Phoenix energy was inherited in one's body, and only those who had inherited it had the chance to obtain it. While the Lustbite energy was unequivocally a cultivated art, a skill, one that required consummately refined internal energy and an extremely natural talent for martial arts in order to cultivate it.
"How do you know this?" Long Feiye said icily.
"Of course I know! Phoenix energy belongs to fire, it contends with celestial fire. If both are combined to refine a pill, the process will be accelerated."
The Pill Furnace Master stroked his beard and said earnestly, "Yesterday, if your Phoenix energy had not suppressed the celestial fire, the both of you would have died for sure."
Han Yunxi didn't have time to mess with the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace. She asked seriously, "Then now I..."
She could feel the Phoenix energy, but she could not control it.
The Pill Furnace Master looked at her and silently gave her a thumbs up. "Lass! You're alright! You took your life in you hands and wrestled with the heavens and came out unscathed. I bow to you!"
Gu Qishao suddenly raised his head and looked over at him. This was the first time he had head the old kook say that he "bowed" to someone so sincerely.
He had always thought the old kook was full of himself and would never yield to anyone.
Seeing Gu Qishao looking at him, the Pill Furnace Master looked back at him. Gu Qishao said grumpily, "What are you hemming and hawing about? Does the Poison lass possess Phoenix energy or not?"
"Phoenix Baptism by Fire to regenerate Nirvana energy, three days and three nights, not only entails enduring the pain of Nirvana, but also controlling the Phoenix energy process. You suffered a lot of torment and pain last night, but lost control of your Phoenix energy. Now that your Phoenix energy has been awakened, I don't quite know how you can control it. You all will have to find someone more qualified." The Pill Furnace Master was serious.
Long Feiye said nothing. He grabbed Han Yunxi's hand and took her pulse again. He discovered her situation was similar to when he first began incubating his Lustbite energy.
He didn't question the Pill Furnace Master further but left Medicine Requesting Cave and had Xu Donglin dispatch an eagle to deliver a letter to Celestial Mountain inquiring after Master Li Jianxin.
Long Feiye sending an urgent, confidential missive from Medicine City to Celestial Mountain at most would take seven days to get a response. However, it was ten days before Long Feiye received a reply from the sword sect master.
"Why did it take so long?" Long Feiye asked.
"Apparently there's been a huge blizzard on Celestial Mountain and the eagle couldn't get through," Xu Donglin stated matter-of-factly. "That's probably the reason for the delay."
If the eagle encountered a blizzard it really could delay it a day or two, so Long Feiye didn't pursue the matter.
In the letter, the sword sect master expressed astonishment and explained Phoenix energy. It was pretty much as Long Feiye had assumed.
Phoenix energy and Lustbite energy were extremely similar, just one was inherited and the other cultivated. Lustbite energy depended on diligent cultivation, on a firm, refined foundation of internal energy, and was cultivated stage by stage. Phoenix energy was innate. As long as the person had a really good constitution and well-developed internal energy, whenever that person summoned Phoenix energy, it would be completely within that person's control.
Han Yunxi had a really good constitution, but her internal energy was not developed well enough, so she had been lucky and it had been a blessing in disguise.
If she had really held out for three days and three nights, until her Nirvana energy had been regenerated, then given her internal energy proficiency, she would not have been able to endure her Phoenix energy and would have been harmed by it instead all the same. She had suffered through the pain for hours, forcing her Phoenix energy back, suppressing it, and had instead escaped disaster.
Now that her Phoenix energy had been awakened, as long as she improved her internal energy, then just like he controlled his Lustbite energy, she would gradually come to be able to control her Phoenix energy.
Long Feiye's anxious heart relaxed after reading the letter. He trusted what the sword sect master said.
"In that case, once we've succeeded in dual cultivation, then I'll be able to control my Phoenix energy?" Han Yunxi asked, excited.
Long Feiye nodded. He couldn't help but laugh. He thought, this time had not been so bad after all.
"Tsk tsk tsk, Poison lass," Gu Qishao said, teasing. "Qi gege really won't be able to bully you anymore."
Before Han Yunxi could reply, Long Feiye gave Gu Qishao a withering look.
Han Yunxi suddenly thought of something and shot to her feet. She went over to the Pill Furnace Master, who was still sitting off to the side. "Old man, you said Phoenix energy can help speed up the refining of pills. Is that really true?"
If it was really true, they wouldn't have to wait in this medicine hut for so long, and maybe they could go to Three-Way Black Market earlier and spend the new year with Gu Beiyue.
Hey guys! This chapter was generously guest translated by my junior bro while I was in the middle of my PGC slump. He's got a thing for wonderfully crafted prose, so check out his site Wuxia Wanderings when you've got some time.
I have to say that wuxia was one of the first things that got me interested in Chinese novels as a whole before the webnovel scene existed, though admittedly I only learned about them from drama adaptations based off of Jin Yong's works. But they're a true classic in the Chinese novel canon, so it's worth checking out works of tried and true old masters in the field. Enjoy!
I haven't forgotten about the Xmas chapters or other things I owed either, that's in the works too!