In the beginning, the Creator said, "let there be life." Light shone upon his hands, and so, He filled this world with his creations. Nature flourished, all living beings flourished under his rule. The humans, beasts, spirits, and other beings lived in harmony with one another. After the seventh day, the Creator fell into a deep sleep. From his dreams, he manifested his one last creation: the void.
Light cannot exist without darkness. Darkness cannot win against the light.
That has always been the rule. Nothing can change that.
Within that void, a non-living entity sprung forth. This nameless being called himself "Xin." At the time of his birth, the Creator woke up from his slumber and realized what he had done. The God of All then banished the anomaly to the recesses of the universe, never to see or experience the joy of his other creations. "Xin," unaware of the sin he committed, followed his command blindly and was locked alone in the abyssal depths of space, until…
[Creator, whatever happened to that anomaly…?]
[Do you fear that he is going to return with a vengeance?]
[No way, he is forever trapped in that prison. That idiot is young, yet his existence is a sign of calamity.]
[Agreed, Creator is wise to seal him in the Abyss. Better cut his roots than harvesting the rotten fruits.]
What are they talking about? I am trapped…?
But that person said that I…
[The Creator regrets the mishap he brought forth. In the future, we, Lesser Gods, need to annihilate this ominous anomaly. What do you all say?]
I'm going to be killed?
But why? I have done nothing wrong to earn their spite… What did I... I dare not desire nor covet their light… yet, in the end…
If that is how it's going to be, then…!
[... Wake up… An Xi…]
[Anxi, get up! We will be late for school!]
An Xi…? Who is that? My name is…
A brilliant flash of light illuminated the dark realm he was in, forcing him to open his eyes. A dark silhouette fell upon his blurred vision while he rid the remnants of his slumber blearily. An Xi can recognize that blonde hair and brilliant lilac eyes that seemed to bloomed with never-ending happiness anywhere. A groan bubbled from his throat as his own amethyst hues peeked at the other beneath his long jet blank bangs.
"Ah, you're awake now. Shizun is looking for us for something. You weren't in the practice field, so I figured you were still napping." His vision slowly adjusted as he became more awake. Sitting up, they were in a small wooden house in the middle of a bamboo grove. It was a quiet place where their Shizun bestowed it to the eldest disciple, An Xi, for his cultivation efforts.
"Eldest Brother An Xi, are you listening to me?" The one who rudely woke this low-blood pressure eldest disciple continued to pester, "Shizun doesn't have time to dawdle around! He will be going down the mountain today to hunt the water demons plaguing the nearby lake village--"
He didn't get to finish what he was saying as he was sent flying outside the window with a forcible punch from the lethargic eldest disciple.
A loud crash and snapping bamboo trunks can be heard outside, followed by a soft cry of anguish.
"Eldest Brother! Seriously!"
An Xi huffed as he got out of the bed and started his daily routine at his own pace. His Shizun, Master Meng Cao, is relatively lenient to this disciple for several reasons. An Xi is the noble son of the Prime Minister of the Capital and Fleeting Nine Clouds Sect's brilliant First Senior Disciple. With such illustrious positions, there were a lot of mixed reactions within the sect, of course. Several commoners and alike assumed he was a burly, gracious, merciful, and kind young man outside the mainland.
But, the Fourth Disciple of Fleeting Nine Clouds Sect disagreed. This young disciple believes that his Eldest Brother is nothing more than a wolf in a sheep's clothing. On the outside, he may be reverent and benevolent to all as if he were Buddha's reincarnation, BUT!
He knows that this Eldest Brother is 28 years old, anemic, thin, frail-looking, petty, and crafty demon king that knows no sympathy and doesn't hesitate to use anyone or anything to achieve his goals! He is that kind of person!
Fourth Disciple Qiu Xiufeng vowed that he would get even with this eldest brother one of these days, so he is studying and cultivating hard in hopes that he will be able to beat him.
The blonde youth dusted himself off after he pushed away from the ground and stomped back to the entrance of the door: however he was met with another unfortunate accident as An Xi pushed the door open-
"Huh? Are you trying to practice? Why is your face swollen?"
An Xi and Qiu Xiufeng together walked out of the bamboo forest and passed its invisible barrier. Qiu Xiufeng rubbed his sore temple while he remained a respectful distance from the other male. Although he vowed to beat him, he doesn't exactly dislike the other. There were times that Brother An Xi would help him out occasionally in his training as his sparring partner, or whenever he lacks study materials, the eldest disciple would wordlessly lend his books to the blonde. Qiu Xiufeng doesn't dislike him, but…
It's challenging to befriend someone who isn't willing to talk or interact with you in the first place.
Qiu Xiufeng met An Xi five years ago. When Shizun took him to the sect to study under his tutelage, An Xi was given the task to take care of his accommodations and studies. At first, the young blonde was excited to befriend the other. Still, each time he wanted to get close, An Xi would find an excuse to escape the uncomfortable situation. Every day after, Qiu Xiufeng tried all his ways to "woo" this man, no matter what. While most of the disciples in the sect loved and became his friends on the spot, only this elegant and cold-looking character wasn't willing to be his friend.
Despite what the others say about Eldest Brother, Qiu Xiufeng pursued his companionship. From the lighthearted and inviting pursuit to hugging his thigh and taking up the responsibility to be An Xi's first friend (even at the cost of his body in peril from his attacks), the Fourth Disciple came to know and learn more about this interesting, antisocial Eldest Brother of his. The more he stuck with him like the glue he is now, the clearer and tolerant he became.
Actually, before the vow of him beating up, he remembered promising that he will always be at his side and follow him, no matter what.
Upon reaching their master's dwelling located behind the cold springs of a grand pagoda, the two disciples faced their Shizun with solemn, determined looks before cupping their hands in greeting and bowing respectfully.
"Shizun." The two of them chorused.
A man who looked older than An Xi yet retains his youthful looks turned towards them. All dressed in white with strikingly silver-white hair that reaches the floor; one can compare him to the mighty Heaven Emperor in terms of appearance. Piercing slanted dark hues, which seemed to hide all the mysteries in the world, peeked at them with satisfaction at their regards. He fanned himself with a white fan on his left as he gestured for them to stand in attention. Watching them do so, Master Meng Cao expressed a small smile. He turned to An Xi, his first disciple he took under his wings, with a gentle look of a parent watching their all grown-up child. An Xi noted this right away before he coughed slightly.
"Shizun, we are already aware that today you will be going down to subdue those pesky water demons troubling the lake villagers," An Xi stated in a matter-of-fact tone, "This disciple is curious as to why you cannot send someone else to handle this trifling matter. There is no need for such a mighty and powerful cultivator like you to descend the mountain."
Beside him, Qiu Xiufeng nodded in agreement.
Seeing that his two students are curious about this situation, Master Meng Cao released a heavy sigh. He looked at them with fondness shimmering in his midnight black irises.
"The Four Heavenly Directions have already made up their mind to send me down the mountain to deal with this matter. It is a task that I cannot simply abandon or give away to."
An Xi widened his eyes in disbelief.
The Four Heavenly Directions… They are the highest council made up of elite martial artists practicing the righteous paths. Each martial artist either has reached the Nascent Soul stage or at their Late Core Formation. Everyone, including those who are in the capital, revered them as idols. One thing to note about them is that they do not absolutely meddle with the mortal affairs: their only goal is to obtain immortality and become a Lesser God. Because of their power they wield, it is evident that authority and responsibility come along. Their word is absolute, and their commands must be followed. The only ones who can compete and don't follow their rule are the demonic path and Demon Kings' followers.
Hearing this, Qiu Xiufeng indignantly huffed, "So what? Shizun is also nearing his Core Formation Stage, I don't see why they wouldn't let you in the Four Heavenly Directions, or at least, allow you to make a decision-"
He immediately zipped his lips up when he saw the cold glint in his Master's deep black hues. An Xi sighed deeply. He stepped up and cupped his hands once more before bowing.
"This eldest disciple will wait for Shizun to finish his task and remain in the mountain." He said resolutely. Seeing that Fourth Disciple didn't manage to convince Master Meng Cao, this was the next best thing he can do. Aware that once the Sect Master is gone, he will be assuming the duty of leading the Fleeting Nine Clouds and overseeing the outer disciples' training.
Master Meng Cao nodded, "I'm counting on you to keep everyone in line and protect the sect division while I'm gone."
"Shizun, be assured. I will commit to my task dutifully."
Master Meng Cao then turned to Qiu Xiufeng, "Stay diligent and listen to your Eldest Brother. Do not quarrel too much or give him a hard time."
The way the Master nagged him off was similar to a mother telling him off, but it can't be helped. These two are his favorites within his inner disciples and learned under his tutelage for the longest time. Master Meng Cao already regarded them as his own children. Parting them off with a few more words, he gathered his things and descended the mountain without any delay. An Xi and Qiu Xiufeng saw him off at the entry gate until he was no longer in their field of vision.
An Xi released a deep breath from his lungs and glanced at Fourth Disciple, "Fourth Shidi, go run 20 laps in the practice field."
"Ha--? Why?! What did I do?!"
"For disturbing my sleep this morning."
���Eldest Brother, you're so mean!"
Days became months. Months became years. An Xi and Qiu Xiufeng practiced their lessons in their teacher's absence. For three consecutive years, the Fleeting Nine Clouds Sect never heard from their Master. It wasn't until the Four Heavenly Directions sent a reconnaissance team to search for Master Meng Cao. An Xi and the rest of the inner disciples of Fleeting Nine Clouds sect weren't too worried about him since they know their Master personally. Although Master Meng Cao held an aloof, refined attitude, he was a connoisseur of exciting things. Whenever he stumbles upon "interesting" things, he will take all the time he needs to study and observe it. It's… how he is. At first, An Xi didn't believe this until he and his Master encountered an odd-looking beast while they were training. They were supposed to get home within three days, but they didn't return until two months later when An Xi hauled his teacher away forcibly from the beast's location.
Hell, Fourth Disciple Qiu Xiufeng was one of the results of their Master's "idling away."
An Xi read a manual beneath the dried plum blossom tree covered with light snow one wintry day. Wearing only a thin mint green fur cape, he wasn't bothered by the cold due to his high cultivation. Even if he were thrown in the innermost chambers of the Thousand Ice Palace, famous for its absolute freezing temperature, he would still be fine. The birds' faint singing distracted his light reading. He saw his fellow inner disciples approaching his small sanctuary within the bamboo grove.
Fourth Disciple is leading the small group; his expression is of worry. Preceding the formalities, Qiu Xiufeng immediately told Eldest Brother the cause of his anxiety.
"Eldest Brother, the reconnaissance team that the Four Heavenly Directions returned… but, there was no sign of Shizun!" Another disciple handed him a gray bundle, which he would offer to An Xi to examine himself. An Xi took it and hurriedly revealed the contents of the wrapped cloth before his eyes widened.
In his arms were precious items that Master Meng Cao would not part with willingly. The broken pieces of Master Meng Cao's legendary sword, Tao Yuan, reflected his hidden incredulity.
"Where is that team right now?" An unreadable expression settled on his features after his initial shock.
Qiu Xiufeng replied, "They are back at the Forbidden Palace. Eldest brother, you're not thinking of going there yourself and inquiring about Shizun?"
"It is likely that they are hiding something. Shizun is one of the most powerful Core Formation cultivators before the Four Heavenly Directions. I would not believe that they didn't have a hand on his disappearance. Either that, or he was caught in an ambush or a trap."
Eldest brother is right. There are no other people in Jianghu that can subdue Shizun, other than the Four Heavenly Directions. Would that mean… "Eldest brother, I will come with you to the Forbidden Palace to meet the council."
An Xi peered at him, and seeing the determination flaring in those amethyst hues; he couldn't help but sigh. One thing for sure, once Qiu Xiufeng has made up his mind, it's hard to distract him from his goal.
"Alright. Follow me." An Xi turned to the other disciples, "You three. The two of us will be visiting the Forbidden Palace to inquire about Shizun's whereabouts personally. Protect the mountain and cultivate in peace."
The inner disciples bowed and saluted to his words.
It didn't take them long to prepare for their short journey. The Forbidden Palace is located a few miles away from their mountain and is shrouded in mystery. It changes location every a hundred years to keep out unwanted visitors. It is where the Four Heavenly Directions are found, after all. To meet them, one would need a special pass and knew how to break the illusion spell that protects their boundary. Fortunately, Master Meng Cao left them a couple of these passes in case of emergencies. They were also taught how to break the illusion spell as well.
Arriving at a deserted clearing in the middle of nowhere, An Xi and Qiu Xiufeng used both of their passes and held it up to the skies. A golden flash of light illuminated the entire space until in a blink of an eye. They were transported at the grand marble gates of the Forbidden Palace. Surrounded by an eerie atmosphere, the two walked towards the closed silver gates and saluted in respect.
After they introduced themselves and presented which sect they were from, the pearly gates opened their way. The two unflinching students moved forward to the thousands of stairs leading to the looming palace without a hurry.
As soon as they appeared before the palace doors, they were welcomed with dozens of black-clad cloaked individuals, bowing at their presence. Qiu Xiufeng can feel goosebumps running down the back of his arm as he peeked at his eldest brother, wondering how he's faring. To his surprise (or not), An Xi has remained calm and indifferent to the creepy setting.
Of course, he must feel at home since these people have a similar cold aura like him! Who am I kidding?
Stepping onto a large dim-lit long hall, the two came face to face with veiled figures sitting on a platform. With their faces covered and loose clothes, one could hardly tell them apart except for the foreign single character symbols on their white veil. They were 12 of them, all situated in a horseshoe design. An ordinary cultivator or mortal would tremble before their presence. Still, the two didn't have any intention of showing their weakness, especially An Xi. Looking at the two youths, one of them bellows in a haunting, deep voice.
"Why have you come, Inner Disciples of Fleeting Nine Clouds?"
An Xi stepped forward and bowed adequately before the council heads, "First Disciple of Fleeting Nine Clouds An Xi would like to inquire about Sect Master Meng Cao's whereabouts. This disciple received news of your hardworking search team and Master's belongings, and I would like to know more about your findings."
"Sect Master Meng Cao… Ah, yes. Indeed he has gone missing from Jianghu, and we have done our best to look for him but to no avail. After much deliberation, we will be selecting your new Sect Master after nine days. So-"
Qiu Xiufeng, who has been keeping to himself and observing his surroundings, quietly burst out in anger. He faced the council heads with his chin up, his unyielding gaze focused on them. An Xi glanced at him with a slight frown. Not because he interrupted them, but his show of emotions towards the authoritative figures of Jianghu.
"Master Meng Cao is a strong, undefeated cultivator! You can't just easily brush this matter that easily and replace him!" Qiu Xiufeng continued with a loud tone, "A bunch of low-level water demons wouldn't so easily defeat Shizun. Even if he was ambushed or caught in a trap, he could most definitely escape them and beat his enemies up without breaking a sweat. Shizun is-"
"The audacity of this child-! How dare you question our actions and raise your voice!" One of the figures slammed his fist on his armrest.
An Xi stepped in, grabbing Qiu Xiufeng's wrist. With a pointed glare, he tugged the Fourth Disciple back to his side. He would then face the group with a somber expression. Yet, there is no mistaking he is also expressing his dissatisfaction.
"This disciple hopes that you will forgive this insolent young brother of mine," An Xi stated in a firm tone, "However, my humble self also voiced the same opinion on this matter. As the First Senior Disciple of Fleeting Nine Clouds Sect, may I receive your permission to look for Master Meng Cao on your behalf?"
Qiu Xiufeng paused and cast a glimpse at his eldest brother with wide eyes, "Eldest Brother." He winced when he was forced to close his mouth again when he felt An Xi's hold on him tighten to the point of breaking his wrist.
"You? A mere Late Foundation Building cultivator wants to look for your Shizun throughout the Jianghu. Don't you have better things to do, such as improving your cultivation and managing the sect while we select the new Sect Master for you?"
"I will not accept a new Shizun!" Qiu Xiufeng glared.
"This disciple insists. Suppose I cannot find our Sect Master, then as the First Senior Disciple and the rightful heir of the Sect Master seat by tradition. In that case, Fleeting Nine Clouds will break off from the Golden Dragon Tower Alliance."
The Golden Dragon Tower Alliance is a peace agreement formed between the five righteous sect organizations by the Four Heavenly Directions. Its foundation lies in the fact that each sect will not war with other righteous sects and be under the council's protection. In return, they will follow the absolute authority of the Four Heavenly Directions. Disbanding from the alliance would mean that they will only rely on their own internal power to defend their sect if trouble comes. Other greedy sects will also have the chance to attack them since they no longer have the Four Heavenly Directions' backup. The thought of being exposed to such dangers, that idea of breaking off, has long been extinguished from everyone's minds. An Xi declaring this without missing a beat means it is the real deal.
"You- How dare you rebel against us! This is treason!"
"Brother, let's calm down and discuss this in an organized manner."
"The Fleeting Nine Clouds Sect has stood above and supported the other sects in the alliance for so long. They are the most prosperous sect in the entire Jianghu continent if we suddenly lose them like this-"
"Unacceptable, I won't allow it!"
"Let them break off the alliance, and let's see how they will crawl back to us, haha."
An Xi and Qiu Xiufeng stood their ground, watching their discussion with one another in grave silence. They didn't dare to move from their spot as if they were frozen in time. Even their breaths are timed as the frigid temperatures around them made their breathing easily seen. The dimly lit hall that was once quiescent and undisturbed was now filled with overlapping, differing deep intonations.
And then, they were silent again. They all turned to the two who had been watching them. Something about the atmosphere changed when they shifted their attention back to the youths.
"Hmph, if you are that eager to meet your deaths, we won't hold it against you." One of them said, "But first, to see your capabilities, we will put you in a test right away."
A test? This is bad… Eldest brother and I haven't anticipated this at all!
Qiu Xiufeng felt his blood run cold at their announcement. However, he steeled himself. For them to find their Master, they would need to show these geezers that they can search for their Master within and beyond the Jianghu continent. Glancing at An Xi, he straightened his posture and relaxed, yet the formidable look in his gaze never faded.
An Xi, "Qiu Xiufeng, lay down. I, alone, will face them. As your Senior Brother, I won't let anything happen to you."
"But, Elder Brother-"
An Xi released his hold of him and focused on the matter at hand. In a blink of an eye, his sword partner, Hei She, flashed beside him. Layered in a silvery-white frost aura, its dark edge glinted coldly like its master's bearings. Aware of the difference between their levels, An Xi merely hopes to hold out until the council changes their decision. At this time, An Xi still believes that the Four Heavenly Directions will permit him since his Master praised them being benevolent and understanding. Little did he know that the council had decided to end their lives today before discovering the secret of their Master's disappearance.
An Xi stepped forward and looked up at the figures indifferently.
"I see. You have really made up your mind about this," The one at the center of the council stood up and faced them. Since they couldn't see their expression, it's difficult to deduce their hidden schemes. Raising a single hand, multiple golden talisman papers materialized behind the individual and circled him at his finger's beckoning.
"Then, let us see your will firsthand. You have brought this upon yourself!"
Huh? What is going on? Why am I…
Qiu Xiufeng blinked and then rubbed his eyes in disbelief.
This scene… where have I seen this before?
Ferocious blue flames engulfed the entire space. The rest of the Four Heavenly Directions are no longer in sight. A solitary member stood from his position, looking down at them. Malice and annoyance dripping from his hidden visage while he eyed his current adversary.
Qiu Xiufeng stood a bit away from his eldest brother after the fight commenced. Now, as if something his vision cleared, the fourth young disciple peered down to his hands, blinking. Incredulity crossed his features as he tried to recount what had happened before he felt as if he had been underwater.
Wait, wait… I was crossing the street in a hurry to meet my Mom and Dad after I haven't seen them for so long. The lights across the street flashed red… There was a loud noise and then… there was pain everywhere… I know I've gotten myself in a fatal crash accident and probably died, but why am I very much alive?
He glanced at the unfolding scene before him as if he were witnessing something out of television.
This can't be real. I died, so is this what Hell looks like? What the f--! On what reasons was I sent here in this g***d*mn*d place!
Wait. Let's forget about that. This place really looks familiar. The ancient scaffoldings, blue flames, two men duking it out… Wait a minute… hey, hey… Don't tell me that I've transmigrated to the novel I was reading at the time of my accident!
"Fourth Disciple, what are you still doing here!"
Qiu Xiufeng snapped out of his reverie immediately when he heard An Xi suddenly shouted. Focusing on the person before him, his lilac hues reflected the disheveled, battered dark-haired taller youth. A name flashed in his thoughts, recalling the event of the novel specifically at the same time.
"Get out of this place and return to the sect!"
This is… Senior Brother An Xi and Fourth Disciple, meeting up with the Four Heavenly Directions to question them about their Master's disappearance. Brother An Xi declared to break off from the Golden Dragon Tower Alliance if they do not permit us to search for Master Meng Cao. To prove their determination, the Four Heavenly Direction tested them and in the middle of it…
They revealed that they took Master Meng Cao hostage and will turn him into one of the members of Four Heavenly Directions!
In retaliation, An Xi demanded them release his Shizun, but he was only met with brute force. And, here we are. An Xi instructs the Fourth Disciple to escape the perilous situation and alert the sect. However, Senior Brother will die under their hands and comes after the Fleeting Nine Clouds to silence the Fourth Disciple. Unbeknownst to them, that young inner disciple is the protagonist. Hearing that they killed his Senior Brother and abducted his Shizun… he reveals to them his innate hidden power and overpowers their siege, bringing their crimes to light-- and then--
Fourth Disciple… he just called me the "Fourth Disciple"...
Wait, the Fourth Disciple turns out to be me! I've become the protagonist of this novel?!
"Shidi!" An Xi deflected another barrage of talisman array directed by their opponent with a flick of his wrist. He threw a dangerous glare at the frozen teen behind him before forming several hand seals to create a thousand copies of his sword before guiding them towards the target. Ignoring the backlash of this move as he hasn't perfected it yet, he held on. Before him, the individual broke no sweat than him as the difference between their levels was evident from their show of abilities. An Xi is fully aware that he wouldn't be able to stand for long, so the least he can do is bid time for his young disciple brother to escape and return to their sect.
Qiu Xiufeng's Yin Yu joined the fray and dispersed another attack from the opponent. The familiar sword glinted under the blazing flames surrounding the two disciples, its aura expelling an incredible amount of warmth despite its gloomy name. Fourth Disciple rushed to his Senior Brother's side. With a momentary reprieve, An Xi tossed another piercing glare at the blonde teen.
"What do you think you're doing! Are my words going out of your other ear?!" He scolded the other through his gritted teeth while his focused gaze remained on their enemy.
"Brother An Xi- I mean, Eldest Brother, if Shizun were here, he wouldn't absolutely leave you alone in the face of danger. Let Fourth Disciple help you, and we both return to the sect, okay?"
"Eldest brother can scold me later! We need to focus on how to get out of here-"
A burst of loud laughter broke into their conversation, forcing their attention back to the Four Heavenly Directions member.
"I commend Master Meng Cao for raising such determined pupils… However, you can forget about escaping since I will have you two meet the Creator at this moment!" He raised his hand once more as a white light covered his body. It would seem he is preparing for another aura blast to obliterate them along with the palace completely!
This is bad, this is bad! Even though I'm the protagonist, I can't do a single thing to change the events' sequence after all! Am I going to die again?
A stream of flowery curses ran through his panicked thoughts, nervously glancing at his Eldest Brother. As an avid reader of the novel he transmigrated to, the author only glossed over the details of what happened to Senior Brother An Xi's death. For the first time, Qiu Xiufeng… or rather, the reader who has taken over the protagonist's body will be witnessing the hidden scene within the novel's pages.
Qiu Xiufeng didn't do a thing in his stunned silence, fixing his blank gaze at An Xi. He can feel his heart beating against his chest out of anxiety and terror. Yet, for some reason, watching Senior Brother's glassy and tranquil disposition made his nerves calm down as well. Yin Yu returned to its master's grasp as the two disciples prepared to meet the attack head-on. Knowing that outrunning the blast would just lead their enemy to their sect and unleash, the pair decided to test their fate. With their lives on the line, they pin all their hopes in their cultivation and internal force. Both quickly formed hand seals to make a sword barrier to protect themselves before their foe unleashed the ball of pure condensed qi energy in their direction.
The last thing Qiu Xiufeng saw before everything was flushed into the white world was his Senior Brother's surprised countenance.
Brother An Xi…?
[You're not from this world, aren't you? Your soul aura is different from Qiu Xiufeng.]
Huh? Who are you? How did you know I'm not from this world-
[I'm not from this world either, and I have been given the task to be this novel's villain. No matter, since you are the Appointed One, I will do my best to protect you and fulfill my role.]
Wait, hold on! Who are you- you sound like-
[We don't have time. Awaken your blood and realize your destiny!]
Brother An Xi-!
Qiu Xiufeng blinked. The scorching blue flames surrounding them were all extinguished in one go as if they weren't there. The burnt walls, blackened walls, and charred wood's stench were the only reminders of the conflagration. Dazed at first, Fourth Disciple felt his body jerk in attention when the sudden biting chill of wintry air filled the space. There were only the silence and the deafening heartbeat in his chest. Amethyst hues glanced at his side and noticed that Senior Brother bears an unfamiliar expression. Somehow, he looked eerily calm and possessed a daunting aura, unbothered by the change of scenery and temperature drop.
What happened? Where is the enemy?
"Se-Senior Brother..? What happened?"
The dark look on An Xi elevated and shifted back to its cold-natured expression. He turned to Qiu Xiufeng, scrutinizing him. The enemy is nowhere in sight, which leaves them in the desolate, half-destroyed palace all by themselves.
"I told you to escape, didn't I?"
"Ah, well…" I can't let him find out that I wanted to save him. I know that I wasn't supposed to do anything, but how can I just stand here and watch my favorite character die!
An Xi kept giving him the same reprimanding look before he relaxed. Raising his hand carefully, to Qiu Xiufeng's bewilderment, the alleged villain-- that same person who made the protagonist's life a living hell ever since Master Meng Cao took him--
Patted his head.
Eh… is this the same villain that I've read about? Why is he suddenly-
Then, Qiu Xiufeng recalled the words from before:
[I'm not from this world either--]
Does that mean what I think it means?
"Senior Brother An Xi, err… this young disciple wishes to know something that might sound weird to you. I hope you will enlighten me." Qiu Xiufeng stared at him earnestly, his lilac eyes almost sparkling in curiosity.
"Is Senior Brother… A transmigrator too?"