Chapter 2: The First Encounter
The first time Gu Ruoqing saw Yu Yang after transmigrating was in a doghole behind a brothel at the foot of a mountain. He had just received the first task from the system: to bring Yu Yang back to the Qingyun Sect.
At that time, Yu Yang was a child born to a courtesan in the brothel, confined to a desolate and narrow backyard, gazing at the square sky while playing with mud every day.
He would wet the earth with water, then mold human limbs out of it. After that, he would create the flamboyant hairstyles of the courtesans on the mud figures.
Once he finished, he would meticulously tear off the limbs of these mud figures one by one, then twist off their heads and crush them underfoot.
The first time Gu Ruoqing saw him playing with mud figures, it reminded him of how he met his end in the original story, sending a shiver down his spine.
Gu Ruoqing: “Do I really have to bring this child back?”
System: “Yes, indeed. Our goal is to save the corrupted antagonist, mend the master’s character, and improve the overall plot! I will assign secondary tasks based on the plot, and your task is to complete them all while ensuring the antagonist’s corruption level remains below 70%.”
Gu Ruoqing: “What’s the corruption level?”
System: “The corruption level represents the extent to which the antagonist wreaks havoc. The higher the corruption level, the more the antagonist wants to kill the male lead, distort the plot, and destroy the world.”
Gu Ruoqing looked at the mud heads crushed on the ground and felt that this was going to be a long journey.
Gu Ruoqing: “What’s Yu Yang’s current corruption level?”
System: “The initial data is 50%.”
Gu Ruoqing: “50% from the start?!”
System: “But please note, if the antagonist’s corruption level exceeds 80%, he will start to recall the memory of the original ending, i.e., the memory of Gu Ruoqing killing him.”
Gu Ruoqing: “…And then what?”
System: “Then it triggers the extra ending.”
Gu Ruoqing: “!!!”
Yu Yang tossed another mud figure to the ground, then expressionlessly grabbed the mud figure’s head, tearing it cleanly in half.
An old earthen wall separated the cage from the world, with only a doghole in between. Gu Ruoqing stood on the worldly side, and Yu Yang crouched on the cage side. Gu Ruoqing wanted to take him away but didn’t know how to broach the subject.
Both knew of the other’s presence but remained silent.
Gu Ruoqing: “How can I bring him back?”
System: “Maybe just knock him out and take him?”
Gu Ruoqing: “…If I knock him out and take him, how much will the corruption level increase?”
System: “Umm… 65%?”
Gu Ruoqing: “Can you please stop giving me suggestions from now on?”
Seeing Yu Yang continue to play with mud figures and not taking the gift he offered, Gu Ruoqing asked, “You don’t like it? Then what do you like? I can bring it for you.”
The child remained silent and in place. He slowly stopped playing with the mud and sat down, hugging his knees while gazing at the doghole.
Through the crevice in the hole, he could see the silk fabric of the person who had crouched inside – it was the same material that the high-ranking officials and nobility wore.
“Why aren’t you talking? Are you unhappy?” He heard the child sounding somewhat nervous, but his voice remained gentle, mingling with the commotion of the people outside the dirty courtyard wall.
After waiting for a while and realizing the child inside was still silent, Gu Ruoqing decided to pretend to stand up and said, “It seems I’m not welcome today. I’ll leave for now…”
Suddenly, a hoarse child’s voice sounded, and Yu Yang called out urgently, “I haven’t left. You… Don’t go.”
Gu Ruoqing’s lips curled upward, and he squatted back down, using his spiritual power to muffle his voice and said, “Then why didn’t you speak?”
The child hesitated again.
But it seemed he was afraid that his silence would make the person outside the courtyard wall leave, so he spoke softly, “You haven’t visited me in a long time. I thought you didn’t want me anymore.”
Gu Ruoqing was taken aback.
What’s going on? Shouldn’t this be his first encounter with Yu Yang? He had just followed the system’s guidance to fly to the southwestern Shu region and stayed in Yan Tang City. As he entered the city and walked through the bustling crowd, a strange sense of familiarity suddenly emerged in his heart.
This familiar feeling was like bodily memory, guiding Gu Ruoqing until he arrived at a brothel’s backyard in Willow Street and flower alleys.
He raised his head and saw that this brothel was called “Where Spring Winds Seek.”
The system had told him that Yu Yang’s mother, Le Lin, although a daughter of the Demon Realm, had not awakened her bloodline in the early stages and had ultimately been forced to disguise herself as a human courtesan to make a living.
This made him suddenly realize that the original Gu Ruoqing in the story had probably taken Yu Yang from this place, which was why it seemed so familiar to him.
However, the child’s words now left him uncertain.
Could it be that someone else had approached Yu Yang like this before him?
“…I haven’t not visited you; it’s just that I had urgent matters to attend to,” Gu Ruoqing suddenly felt a pang of guilt, thinking that Yu Yang mistook him for the person who used to play with him. But then, he began to feel uneasy. Even if he didn’t recognise him by sight, how did he not recognise him by his voice?
Yu Yang fell silent again, but the child kept fiddling with something and then pushed it through the doghole.
“What’s this?” Gu Ruoqing picked up the small, translucent semicircular object, brushed off the dirt on it, and said, “This is… jade?!”
“Where did you get jade?” Gu Ruoqing looked at the exquisite jade in his hand, which was clear and cool to the touch, with faint bloodlines inside, exuding rich spiritual energy.
This was a top-grade Blood Spirit Jade!
The child, listening to Gu Ruoqing’s surprised tone, felt pleased with himself. “It’s for you.”
Giving jade to someone? Were antagonists usually this extravagant?
Gu Ruoqing looked at the cheap Nine Linked Rings1a children’s mental development toy he probably wanted to give to Yu Yang by his feet, which looked scanty in comparison, and suddenly felt a bit embarrassed.
He was about to ponder it when he took the jade into his hand, and then his brows furrowed as he thought carefully.
He remembered that the original work mentioned this kind of jade.
Blood Spirit Jade was not ordinary jade mined from underground; it was both rare and precious and also represented something ominous. This was because the birth of Blood Spirit Jade symbolized the birth of a demon – they were found inside the mouths of newborn demon infants. The more bloodlines within the Blood Spirit Jade, the purer the spiritual power, signifying that the newborn demon would be more powerful.
But what made this jade precious was that every demon considered it more important than their own lives, and it was only exchanged between partners as a token of love. Ordinary people could only obtain this jade by killing a demon and taking it by force.
Why did Yu Yang give him this piece of jade?
System: “Maybe he wants to take your life√.”
Gu Ruoqing: “Thanks, I needed a good laugh.”
Gu Ruoqing looked at the jade in a daze.
Indeed, he was the future Demon Sovereign; there were so many bloodlines contained in this jade that it was turning blood-red.
However, he still couldn’t understand why Yu Yang had given this jade to him.
System: “Maybe he wants to take your life√.”
Gu Ruoqing: “… Thanks for the insight… again.”
Gu Ruoqing stared at the jade and sighed, then placed it back inside and said, “I can’t accept this. It’s too precious, and you should keep it safe.”
Yu Yang also seemed surprised that the jade was rejected. It was the only valuable thing he had, and yet, the person didn’t want it.
Gu Ruoqing was about to say a few more words to make sure that Yu Yang didn’t casually show this jade to others, as it could expose his identity as a demon. Suddenly, he saw the jade being thrown out and landing at his feet, covered in dust, as if it had been wronged.
“You don’t want it, and I don’t want it either! I don’t want anything you give me from now on! You don’t need to come and play with me anymore!”
Gu Ruoqing didn’t expect Yu Yang to suddenly become angry. His angry appearance seemed to dissipate the gloomy atmosphere from when he was making mud figures, making him look more like a regular upset child.
Gu Ruoqing found it amusing and heartbreaking at the same time. He picked up the jade that had been thrown on the ground, wiped off the dust, and said softly, “I really can’t accept this. You’re still young and don’t understand its importance…”
“You just look down on it! You think it’s a broken jade, only half of it…” Yu Yang retorted indignantly, like a little kitten that had its tail stepped on, but as he spoke, he fell silent.
An incomplete broken jade, even if it was naturally born, was originally not highly valued. Who would want it?
Gu Ruoqing suddenly realized that the child cared about this. He said, “In that case, I’ll keep it for now. Tomorrow, I’ll use a spell to make the other half appear, so it won’t be a broken jade anymore. How about that?”
“Really?” After a while, the child’s voice sounded muffled and nasally.
Gu Ruoqing chuckled and said, “Is it real? You first solve these Nine Linked Rings; then I’ll tell you.”
He placed the Nine Linked Rings back through the hole, and he also gave him a candied fruit skewer.
The child didn’t say anything, but this time, he accepted the toys and candied fruit skewer and began playing with them inside the courtyard, making clinking sounds.
Gu Ruoqing stood up slowly and said, “I should go now.” Just as he finished speaking, the sound of the child solving the rings stopped.
After a moment, Yu Yang said, “…I lied to you just now.”
The boy’s voice was a bit hoarse but still very tender. He hesitated and said, “I didn’t mean… I didn’t really not want you to play with me, and I didn’t really dislike your things… Will you come back tomorrow, big brother?”
Gu Ruoqing was called big brother and suddenly felt something warm bumping into a place in his heart.
Unconsciously, he softened his voice, “Of course, I’ll come back tomorrow and show you some magic.”
Yu Yang remained crouched against the wall, listening to the fading sound of the other person’s footsteps. Only then did he sit down slowly and look at the Nine Linked Rings in his hand. As soon as that person left, the whole backyard returned to its cold and lifeless state. All that remained were the broken and dirty walls, knee-high weeds, and his mother inside the house, who often went mad.
Yu Yang sat motionless in the corner, gazing at the sky in all directions.
He often came to this corner, and once he was there, he stayed the entire day. This place was at the very edge of the brothel, and it was the closest spot in this prison to the outside world’s hustle and bustle. During festivals, he could still hear the cries of street vendors selling candied fruit skewers.
He had been confined here since birth, and his mother never allowed him out of her sight.
What was it like outside? Was the sky unobstructed by the overhanging eaves? Did the red lanterns float in the night sky? Were there countless stars that you could never finish counting? Were the candied fruit skewers that the vendor outside called out about sweet?
At first, when he was little, he would inadvertently ask such questions, but his mother would fly into a rage, throw him on the ground, and beat his slender legs while crying out, “Do you want to leave me too? Don’t you want me anymore?! You beast! What gives you the right…?”
Later, Yu Yang stopped asking. As he grew older, his mother became increasingly strange.
Sometimes, even if he said nothing and did nothing, she would suddenly slap him, and then she would make him kneel down, grabbing his hair to make him apologize.
At first, Yu Yang didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He just endured the beating in silence. But that only led to even more severe punishments.
But later, he understood. Whenever Le Lin had one of her fits, he would kneel down voluntarily, repeating, “Mother, I was wrong. It’s my fault. I killed Father. I made Father abandon us. I made you like this. I should have died as soon as I was born. Mother, I know I was wrong…”
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
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