The sunny blue sky smiled cheerfully over this town nestled near the base of the mountains that housed the Heavenly Peak Sect.
In the town’s marketplace, the usual chaos of life carried on. Groups of people in white robes smoothly navigated the throngs of mortals that hustled about with busy energy. Shouts and calls rang out from the hawkers describing their wares, hoping to entice passersby as squealing children ran about helter-skelter, with harried parents hurrying to follow behind them with helpless yet loving smiles.
Walking among this bustle were two more people, one clad in white and the other in black. Everyone who cast even a single glance at these two figures did a startled double take, inescapably captivated by the sheer unbelievable beauty of their faces, their elegantly balanced stride, and their majestic comportment that looked so out of place in this mundane scene of daily hubbub. Seeing such otherworldly beings walking so casually through this messy mortal marketplace made people doubt their own eyes, making them think them an illusion.
But Qinghe and Wei Xiang didn’t pay them any mind, strolling along the busy street with their hands linked and bodies pressed close, most of their attention reserved only for their beloved.
“It’s been a while since we’ve walked through such a bustling place together,” Qinghe remarked cheerily as he looked around, seeing if there was anything interesting that would catch his eye.
Wei Xiang raised an eyebrow with amusement. “What reason would we have to visit such a noisy place?”
Qinghe rested his head on Wei Xiang’s shoulder and smiled quietly. “Why wouldn’t we? Being surrounded by noise is comforting, in a way. Being among people makes me feel alive and…a bit more safer, sometimes. But with you here, I guess I don’t need this false sense of security anymore.”
Wei Xiang didn’t say anything as he turned and placed a soft kiss on the top of his little lover’s head, his eyes holding deep pools of warmth.
A tranquil peace settled over them, filled with contentment and unspoken words of affection that were nevertheless understood.
Qinghe closed his eyes and soaked in this moment, feeling the presence of his beloved near him, the noise and hectic energy of the marketplace flowing around him, the delicious fragrance of spicy oil, fried dough, and seasoned fish wafting over from nearby…
A loud voice energetically shouted beside them: “Fish dumplings! Freshly-made fish dumplings! Made from fishes caught just this morning! Tastes crisp on the outside and mouthwateringly tender and juicy on the inside! Try one and you’ll see that I’m not lying!”
Qinghe unconsciously halted and looked at that vendor at the side with gleaming eyes. In a low voice, he whispered to his beloved, “Xiang…fish dumplings!”
Letting out a quiet chuff of affectionate laughter, Wei Xiang obligingly turned towards the stall to accompany his adorable little lover while he bought some fish dumplings, his gaze fixed lovingly on his Qinghe’s happy smile.
The second they entered Heavenly Peak Sect, the couple were greeted with the scene of the twins quickly running over to them with serious expressions.
In an urgent voice, Fei Jin immediately began, “Brother Wei, there’s an issue with some sudden epidemic relating to the water near this area. Master was hoping to discuss it with you when he saw you next, so can you go and meet with him now? It’s important.”
Wei Xiang raised an eyebrow, but nodded. “Alright, I’ll go and see to it then.” Giving a small kiss to Qinghe, he told him, “I’ll come and find you when I’m done. If you have nothing better to do, then enjoy your food and wait for me in your room if you don’t mind.”
Qinghe smiled and affectionately pecked his lover in return on his jaw. “Yes, yes, I’ll make sure I won’t be bored. Go now so that you can return quicker.”
Wei Xiang smiled and nodded before setting off towards the sect hall.
Witnessing this whole exchange from the side, the twins couldn’t help but feel in their aggrieved hearts that these two seniors of theirs had become even more blatant than before with their public distribution of dog food! How unfair! But seeing how happy Qinghe looked, they could only swallow down their complaints and stay silent.
Remembering something, Fei Yin looked up at Qinghe and seriously informed in his whispery voice, “Senior Brother, we have more books about that topic like you asked last time, and they’re set aside for you at the library. Should we go and get it now?”
Qinghe paused, then nodded. “Yes, let’s all go and retrieve it.”
He could certainly use it to while away the time until his Xiang returned. And after his beloved was back, he could read those books along with his lover again. And later, maybe they could even try out certain ideas from those books. Feeling eager at that thought, Qinghe led the twins and set off to the library.
Within fifteen minutes, they were in Qinghe’s room, staring at the stack of books they’d gotten from Elder Ying that stood like a tower on the table. Qinghe didn’t even know which one to start with.
“I don’t think you can finish it all within a week, Senior Brother,” Fei Jin finally supplied. Fei Yin also seriously nodded in agreement.
Narrowing his eyes, Qinghe refuted, “No, if I use my comprehension abilities to the maximum, I can do this.”
The twins carefully hid their doubts. This stack was so freaking tall, even their senior brother was bound to find it a difficult opponent to conquer!
Just then, the door opened to let in Chen Xiande and Jing Shui, who immediately stopped in their tracks to take in the sight of the large stack of books teetering precariously on the table.
Bringing them out of their shock, the twins politely greeted them both, seeming to have already expected them to come.
On the other hand, Qinghe looked at them with surprise. “Senior Brother? Brother Jing?”
Turning to Qinghe, Chen Xiande answered the unspoken question in his junior brother’s eyes, “Brother Jing joined me and Master in the sect hall a few hours ago to discuss about that unexpected epidemic related to the nearby water sources. Just a few minutes ago, Sentinel Wei arrived to talk with Master and we thought we might find you here as well, so we came by to visit.”
Raising his brows, Qinghe asked, “Is it that serious then? What sort of epidemic is it?”
As Chen Xiande and Jing Shui came over to sit by the table, Jing Shui let out a breath and began explaining, “As Brother Feng may know, the water from the Jia River and its tributaries is mostly what sustains the territories around the Heavenly Peak Sect.”
Qinghe nodded, silently asking him to keep going
Jing Shui continued, “Late yesterday night, upstream of the Jia River in a location about two towns over, a large flood was triggered as the side-effect of some spell gone wrong. The Sentinels were quick to begin investigating that incident, so it’s almost resolved now. However, aside from the flood, another side-effect of that misfired spell is that it summoned a huge swarm of something called spirit-devouring worms that ended up being mixed into that flood. And due to the floodwaters pouring into the Jia River, the river was contaminated. As the river flowed down to the Heavenly Peak Sect’s territory, it brought those worms along with it and caused troubles here.”
Qinghe frowned in thought. Taking out the dumplings that he’d bought before, he began eating them as he asked, “What problems are those worms causing currently? What measures are being taken? And what about the common people?”
With a sigh, Chen Xiande massaged his forehead and replied this time, “From what I’ve heard so far, if a person or animal without spiritual energy drinks the water infected with those spirit-devouring worms, the most they’ll suffer from is a minor and easily treatable stomachache. But if a cultivator or spiritual beast were to take in even a single worm, it could be lethal to them. The more powerful they are, the more spiritual energy the worm absorbs from them and the faster its symptoms appear. And since the population of cultivators in our sect’s territory is higher than any other place with this problem, it’s been hitting us pretty hard.
“As for the measures, we’re still discussing it. We are unsure about what method to use to completely extract and neutralize those worms without harming the river’s ecosystem. We can’t just pick up the worms one by one, and we don’t have a spell specific and precise enough to affect only those worms. For now, we’re focused on treating the disciples of our sect who ingested these worms. Thankfully, they’ve all barely reached the first realm, so the worms couldn’t do much damage due to their low cultivation. Their treatment has also been going smoothly with Sister Lei handling the issue in our medical hall.”
Qinghe nodded. “I see. So Sister Lei is also in our sect now. Having so many capable people working on this and still not being able to reach a resolution… this definitely seems troublesome. I’ll have a look at it later and see what I can do.”
As Qinghe chewed another bite of his fish dumplings while deep in thought, Fei Yin suddenly asked, his tone lightly alarmed, “Senior Brother, I smell fish in your dumplings. Did you perhaps buy it from a local stall?”
Qinghe absentmindedly nodded, then froze in sudden realization.
Just then, the door abruptly banged open as Wei Xiang shouted, “Qinghe, don’t eat those fish dumplings! The fishes in it might have already become infected with the spirit-devouring worms!”
The half-eaten fish dumpling tumbled from Qinghe’s suddenly weak fingers as he looked at his lover with a blank expression. “Xiang…I think it might already be a bit late for that.”
As his lover, friend, and martial brothers frantically called out, Qinghe felt his body becoming limp and beginning to fall. Thankfully, his Xiang bounded over to catch him just before he hit the floor.
As a slow throb began in his stomach while darkness encroached over his vision, Qinghe’s last thought was that he seemed to have gotten too complacent recently, not staying vigilant against danger and letting his beloved fish dumplings betray him like this.
And then the blackness claimed him and Qinghe lost consciousness.
As blurry awareness slowly flooded his mind, Qinghe wanted to groan and sink back to sleep. He felt very uncomfortable. Cold and hot flashes skittered over his skin, and his body felt too weak and clumsy. His entire face seemed to be burning hot, his head heavy and his thoughts unclear. It was almost like when he was drunk, except that he couldn’t seem to control the state of his mind as he usually could under the influence of alcohol. Painstakingly, Qinghe pried open his laden eyelids and tried to focus his aching eyes to survey his situation.
He was lying on the bed in his room, surrounded by worried faces. Wei Xiang stood directly beside him, holding his hand and rubbing his thumb over its back in comfort. On one side of him, peering worriedly from behind the headboard, were the twins. On Wei Xiang’s other side were Jing Shui and Chen Xiande, looking at Qinghe with distress twisting their features. On the opposite side of the bed stood Lei Zihua, Qinghe’s wrist in her hand as she carefully assessed his pulse and spiritual flow.
Seeing Qinghe waking, everyone let out deep breaths in relief, but then seeing him scrunch his brows with dazed eyes, their worries returned.
Before anyone else could voice their concern, Jing Shui quickly asked, “Sister Lei, will he be alright?”
Lei Zihua sighed and placed Qinghe’s wrist back on the bed. “Because he’s a deity, Brother Feng is resilient, but the abundant spiritual energy in his body is also very nourishing for the worm. Though he will not die, if this goes on, he might incur damage in his spiritual pathways, dantian, or even his core that would be hard to heal from. Seeing how quickly the symptoms of weakness, semi-consciousness, and intense lethargy have set in, the worm also seems to be working a lot faster than usual, meaning that it’s grown powerful.
“However, if we give Brother Feng a concentrated dose of the medicine I’ve been feeding the afflicted juniors, it can stabilize his situation a little and prevent the worm from absorbing too much energy from him. But since it has already had the chance to consume plentiful of Brother Feng’s spiritual energy and got stronger, the medicine in itself won’t be able to kill it like in the juniors’ case. We’ll have to find some other way to kill or extract it directly from his stomach.”
Wei Xiang frowned. “That sounds difficult. But for now, it would be better if he was fed that medicine quickly so that his condition doesn’t get worse.”
Lei Zihua nodded in agreement, then brought out a jar with thick, dark brownish-green liquid. Pouring it into a large cup, she handed it to Wei Xiang, “Sentinel Wei, please feed it to Brother Feng while I continue to monitor his spiritual pathways to see if it’s working.”
Wei Xiang accepted the cup, and Lei Zihua once more held Qinghe’s wrist. Bending towards his little lover, Wei Xiang lifted Qinghe’s head up with one hand and held the rim of the cup to his beloved’s lips with the other. In a gentle voice, he coaxed, “Qinghe, here. Drink this.”
However, Qinghe only had to take one whiff of that thick liquid to determine that it would taste horrible and bitter. Wrinkling his nose, the semi-conscious Qinghe lethargically turned away and said in a thick voice, “No, it doesn’t smell tasty.”
Seeing his sick appearance, Wei Xiang frowned in worry. “Qinghe, be good and drink the medicine. It will make you feel better.”
Qinghe puffed up his cheeks, his voice weak and hoarse as he complained, “But Xiang, I don’t want to!”
The others all only looked from the side with complicated expressions, none of them saying a word. If Wei Xiang of all people couldn’t make Qinghe drink that, then none of them were confident that they would be able to do it either.
Just when they were expecting Wei Xiang to continue cajoling him softly, he instead spoke in a commanding voice, “Feng Qinghe, you will drink this. Stop prioritizing taste over your wellbeing. Open your mouth.”
Qinghe looked at his beloved aggrievedly and groused, “Xiang, you’re being mean.” He was already feeling so terrible and weak, and his beloved wanted him to drink that vile smelling thing on top of that? His Xiang was definitely bullying him!
Wei Xiang raised an eyebrow, his expression firm.
Despite all his reluctance, Qinghe’s resistance still crumbled away in the face of Wei Xiang’s disapproval. Parting his lips hesitatingly, Qinghe finally let his lover pour that thick and exceedingly bitter liquid into his mouth while showing a miserable expression as if he was enduring some terrible torture.
As soon as he was done drinking all of the medicine, Qinghe turned his face away from the cup with a childish grimace, sticking out his tongue as if wanting to disown his taste buds for the unpleasant bitterness they were transmitting to him. Qinghe then looked at Wei Xiang with a gaze loaded with blame for making him drink such a thing.
Wei Xiang gave the cup back to Lei Zihua with a nod of gratitude and slowly lowered Qinghe’s head to rest back on the pillow. Then raising a hand to pat his adorable little lover on the head, Wei Xiang smiled with equal parts amusement and affection, his voice softening as he praised, “You did very well.”
Qinghe’s ire immediately dissolved into pleasure, his eyes closing as he luxuriated in Wei Xiang’s touch. As the medicine began working, the constant throb in his stomach also receded a bit, his tense muscles slowly beginning to relax. Qinghe let out a soft sigh, shifting in the bed sleepily.
Letting go of his wrist again, Lei Zihua noted, “The medicine has taken effect. The rate of his energy being sucked by the worm seems to have decreased, and his spiritual flow is attempting to stabilize. As long as we kill the spirit-devouring worm or get it out of Brother Feng within an hour or so, there will be no lasting damage.”
Wei Xiang looked at Qinghe thoughtfully while asking Lei Zihua, “Which part of him is the worm currently residing in?”
Fei Jin added from the side, “If it’s a limb or something non-vital, we can just put Senior Brother under and remove that body part. The worm will be gone and the removed body part will also most probably grow back within days, so it shouldn’t be an issue.”
But Lei Zihua shook her head. “It isn’t so easy to use such a method in his current condition. The worm has currently made itself at home in his stomach.”
As one, everyone turned to look at Qinghe’s stomach.
Sensing everyone’s gazes, Qinghe blearily opened his eyes. He had been listening to them speak all this time while struggling to fight off sleep. Now, with everyone’s focus on him, he offered in an unsteady voice, “We can just cut open my stomach and get the worm out. However, I’d prefer not to be put under for the procedure unless Xiang stays nearby.”
Wei Xiang’s eyes warmed as he squeezed Qinghe’s hand lightly.
But frowning, Lei Zihua rejected that idea. “Brother Feng, though such open-body surgeries are not as problematic for high-level cultivators due to their regenerative abilities, I’m afraid that it’s not possible to be performed on you currently. Because of the worm, your spiritual energy flow is still unstable. If you were to be cut open in your current state and something went wrong, your body will not be able to heal it quickly enough due to the spiritual flow instability. It would be wise not to risk it.”
Qinghe thoughtfully nodded, then let his eyelids close. He was too tired to keep them open anymore.
Lei Zihua hesitated, then continued, “However, there might be a way to remove the worm. But it will need Sentinel Wei’s cooperation and efforts.”
Wei Xiang narrowed his eyes. “I’m listening, please elaborate.”
Letting out a breath, Lei Zihua nodded and said, “The method I’m going to propose will need control and dexterity. If Sentinel Wei is confident in his ability to wield his golden strings, then maybe one of the strings could be let down into Brother Feng’s stomach through his mouth. Then you can use the string to catch the spirit-devouring worm directly and pull it back out. However, you would have to be very careful to not damage anything inside or let the worm escape further into the intestines.”
After a moment of consideration, Wei Xiang nodded. “Yes, I can do that. I can just kill the worm directly inside him before bringing it back up so that there won’t be any unnecessary complications.”
However, Lei Zihua spoke, “Sentinel Wei, if it’s possible, I would like for you to extract that worm alive. We of the Lightning Sky Sect haven’t yet had the chance to study a spirit-devouring worm like this that’s saturated with ample spiritual energy. It might prove useful in our pursuit of devising a way to eradicate this worm infestation in the Jia River.”
Wei Xiang sighed. “Then I’ll try to keep it alive. But if that proves difficult or in any way harmful to Qinghe, you’ll simply have to make do with a dead worm.”
Lei Zihua nodded. “Yes, Brother Feng’s health naturally comes first. Thank you, Sentinel Wei.” Then taking out an enchanted glass jar, she handed it to Wei Xiang and said, “After you extract the worm, please put it in this jar. I will wait outside the room, and if there are any problems, please don’t hesitate to call me.”
With that, she left, not wanting to intrude further and to give Qinghe some privacy. After all, she was not close enough to him to see him in such a state.
Inside the room, Wei Xiang didn’t waste any time and got on the bed, straddling Qinghe’s chest to have easier access to his mouth. Opening his eyes, Qinghe simply blinked up at him dazedly. Realizing that something seemed to have been decided while he was dozing, Qinghe tried to stay awake now to see what his lover wanted to do. But he was so sleepy…
Meanwhile, Wei Xiang carefully lifted up Qinghe’s arms, and using the golden string from his left arm, tied his beloved’s wrists firmly to the bars in the headboard, making sure to leave enough slack so that Wei Xiang would still be able to move his own left hand. The reason for restraining his lover like this was simple. If Qinghe, in his unclear state of mind, struggled while he had Wei Xiang’s thin string inside him, he might cut himself internally. If he moved or interfered in any way while Wei Xiang was on the verge of capturing that worm, it could even lead to alerting that worm and letting it escape deeper into his body. And so, Wei Xiang decided that his little lover would be much safer if he were restrained during the procedure.
Turning to the twins, Wei Xiang said, “You both hold down his legs. Don’t let go.”
Fei Jin looked confused. “But Brother Wei, Senior Brother is already in such a weak condition. Is it even necessary to immobilize his legs?”
With a strange smile, Wei Xiang replied, “If it was anyone else, I’d agree, but this is Feng Qinghe we’re talking about. You should know what I mean. We can never afford to underestimate him.”
Showing expressions of realization, the twins nodded in understanding.
Looking at Chen Xiande next, Wei Xiang instructed, “Disciple Chen, stay at standby to receive the worm when it’s taken out and prepare to immediately put it inside the enchanted container given by Disciple Lei. I’ll be busy tending to Qinghe afterward, so I’d like you to take care of it.”
“Yes, Sentinel Wei,” Chen Xiande agreed solemnly and took a step to stand closer to Qinghe’s head so that Wei Xiang could more easily hand him the worm.
Turning to Jing Shui, Wei Xiang gave him the enchanted jar and said, “Disciple Jing, open the container and keep it at the ready. The instant Disciple Chen puts the worm inside, you will close the lid tightly to trap it securely, then go and give Disciple Lei the container.”
Jing Shui nodded. “Understood.” Opening the jar as told, he went to wait beside Chen Xiande. He was glad that he could be of help even in this small way.
All that taken care of, Wei Xiang finally turned his attention back to his puzzled beloved. Seeing his lover looking at him again, Qinghe curiously asked, “Xiang, what’s going on? Have you figured out how I can get rid of the worm? I think I ended up sleeping a little, so I don’t know what you all decided.”
Wei Xiang cupped Qinghe’s cheek and smiled. “I will explain, but will you trust me?”
Qinghe easily nodded.
Letting out a breath, Wei Xiang asked gently, “Then Qinghe, will you open your mouth?”
Looking at his beloved suspiciously, Qinghe shook his head while pressing his lips firmly together. After all, the last time his Xiang asked him to open his mouth was to feed him that bitter medicine!
Understanding his reservations, Wei Xiang suppressed his helpless amusement. In a patient voice, he coaxed while his thumb rubbed his little lover’s chin, “No, love, I won’t give you any bitter medicine, so won’t you open up for me?”
His eyes wide as his body laid soft and trusting under his beloved, Qinghe slowly parted his lips. Since his Xiang promised there won’t be any medicine, he should trust him, shouldn’t he?
“Good,” Wei Xiang said with a tender smile. In a measured voice, he began explaining in advance, “Now, I’m going to put my string into your mouth, and it is going to have to go down your throat and into your stomach so that it can catch the worm. Please don’t resist it.”
Qinghe obediently nodded and cooperatively widened his mouth further.
Wei Xiang let out a relieved breath. To prevent Qinghe from unexpectedly shutting his mouth and biting down on the string during crucial moments, Wei Xiang lodged the index and middle fingers of one hand between Qinghe’s jaws. Then, carefully blunting the tip of the string extending from his right arm so that it wouldn’t scratch any soft inner tissue, Wei Xiang sent it into Qinghe’s mouth before carefully lowering it further inside.
Qinghe acutely felt the flexible metal string entering his throat, pushing uncomfortably deeper into him. He couldn’t help but twist lightly at the queer sensation. His brows furrowed and his eyes teared up as he forced back his gag reflex while the string inched deeper and deeper down, slowly sliding into his chest and further below. It felt very intrusive and unnerving to have something extending slowly down from his mouth and gradually entering his stomach like this. However, though Qinghe wanted to shift restlessly, he was firmly held in place.
The others all remained absolutely still and silent, not wanting to risk distracting Wei Xiang.
Meanwhile, feeling Qinghe’s teeth reflexively trying to clench closed and bite down on his fingers, Wei Xiang had to use his other hand to hold his beloved’s lower jar as he continued to steadily push his golden string into Qinghe’s stomach. He frowned in concentration as he tried to feel for the worm with his string while taking care not to alert it.
After sensing its presence in a certain area inside his stomach, Wei Xiang sent more of his string down Qinghe’s throat while trying his best to be gentle. Once he’d gathered enough of it, he began winding his string into a loose spiral cage around the general location where he’d sensed the worm, making sure that his string wouldn’t touch it at all. Once the spiral cage was completed, Wei Xiang quickly pulled the string taut, causing the trap to immediately close around the worm. The coils of the string tightly wrapped around it, holding the thin and slippery body of the spirit-devouring worm securely.
Wei Xiang let out a long breath, then began the next part. But just as he started dragging the worm upward, the wriggling worm suddenly sent out a compressed blast of the power it had accumulated till now, attempting to retaliate.
Qinghe jerked at the sudden burst of pain in his stomach and began struggling weakly. A hoarse groan slipped out of his throat, vibrating along the string.
Wei Xiang quickly made his string contract around the worm, squeezing it tightly in severe warning. If it kept on like this, he had no qualms about crushing this damn thing for hurting his beloved! As if sensing his fury and the danger it posed, the worm stopped resisting. Wei Xiang immediately began pulling it up again.
Meanwhile, in a soothing voice, he tried to pacify his agitated little lover, “Qinghe, love, it’s alright. I won’t let it hurt you anymore. It’ll be fine.”
Though Qinghe stopped struggling after hearing the reassurance, Wei Xiang could still feel his beloved’s body trembling under him. But Wei Xiang was helpless to do anything but continue dragging the worm up. He could take his time to hug and comfort his little lover as much as he needed after this ordeal was done and there was no threat to him. But until then, he had to focus on extracting this worm.
Meanwhile, Qinghe had to suppress the urge to throw up with all he had. Though he hadn’t sensed the worm when it was inside his stomach, he could feel it very clearly right now as something alive and wriggling was being brought up his throat. The slight sting of stomach acid coating the worm accompanied the slimy feeling of the layer of thick and sticky mucous over its skin as it was being squeezed up through his esophagus. Qinghe tried to close his mouth and swallow down on reflex, but Wei Xiang unrelentingly held it open with his fingers between his teeth and his hand firmly gripping his lower jaw. And no matter how much Qinghe’s throat muscles struggled to swallow, the string still kept pulling the worm up steadily and without faltering.
Qinghe whimpered pitifully at the repulsive sensation, his eyes shut tightly as tears dripped down.
As they held down their senior brother’s legs, the twins’ faces were crumpled in similar expressions of distress and commiseration, while at the side, Jing Shui had gone teary eyed, his face showing his sympathy. On the other hand, Chen Xiande looked green. He didn’t know how his junior brother was able to bear it, but if he were in his place, Chen Xiande knew without a doubt that he would be screaming at the top of his lungs by now. Just imagining the disgusting sensation of some worm slithering up his throat was enough to make him want to throw up.
As sweat beaded on Wei Xiang’s scrunched forehead while he kept pulling his string up, the top of the spirit-devouring worm’s body finally emerged from Qinghe’s throat. It looked like a relatively thick earthworm, its width just slightly thinner than a finger, while its slimy skin was a purplish pink with a greyish tint. The sight of it being drawn out of Qinghe’s throat made everyone’s faces go white as their eyes widened in horror.
Qinghe’s eyelids squeezed tighter, more tears forced out as he struggled to breathe.
Wei Xiang quickly pulled the thrashing worm completely out before his beloved could choke on it, then almost threw it over to the waiting Chen Xiande before focusing his entire attention on his little lover.
As the twins finally let go of his legs and Wei Xiang also put away his strings to free his wrists, Qinghe quickly curled up on his side, his hands pressed over his mouth as he retched.
Wei Xiang hurriedly retrieved a bucket from his spatial storage and placed it in front of his beloved. As Qinghe pulled it closer to heave into, expelling all the bites of fish dumplings he’d eaten before, Wei Xiang held his little lover’s disheveled hair back while soothingly rubbing a hand up and down his spine.
Jing Shui had already sped away to give Lei Zihua the enchanted jar containing the squirming worm while Chen Xiande was rapidly going through the inventory of pills in his spatial storage to see which of them could be of use to his junior brother. Fei Jin and Fei Yin had already gone off to get a basin and a soft cloth so that their senior brother could wipe his mouth and face afterwards.
Returning within a few moments, Jing Shui said, “Now that the worm has been removed, Sister Lei is confident that Brother Feng can recover quickly within a few hours.”
Wei Xiang gave him a nod of acknowledgment while continuing to rub Qinghe’s back. The twins returned with a basin of warm water and a cloth while Chen Xiande also finally retrieved a handful of colorful pills that would be useful for his junior brother. The three people stood ready while waiting for Qinghe to be done.
A few minutes later, after he was finished throwing up, Qinghe coughed hoarsely and slowly straightened. His face was pale and his hands tightly clutching the rim of the bucket were lightly trembling due to weakness. The twins immediately gave Wei Xiang the basin and cloth, and after accepting it, Wei Xiang set about wetting the cloth with the comfortably warm water before wiping Qinghe’s sweaty face and mouth.
Jing Shui got a glass of water and handed it to Qinghe to rinse his mouth, then refilled it with some more water to drink. After Qinghe was done wetting his parched and sore throat, Chen Xiande immediately gave him the pills he’d chosen. Qinghe gratefully took it to restore some strength back into his body.
Once it was done, Qinghe burrowed into Wei Xiang’s arms for comfort. Hugging him close and patting his back gently, Wei Xiang finally asked, “Qinghe, love, how do you feel?”
In a hoarse yet fully-conscious voice, Qinghe said, “I’m definitely never eating fish dumplings again!”
Wei Xiang smiled. “Love, you should never make promises you can’t keep.”
Qinghe puffed his cheeks and glared at Wei Xiang. Then letting it go, he spoke determinedly, “Now that it’s come to this, I’m definitely going to help get rid of all those blasted worms from the river.”
Seeing the sharp glint in his eyes, the others could only shake their heads at those worms’ bad fortune in earning the ire of Feng Qinghe of all people.
After that, Qinghe showed just how efficient he could be when he was motivated by revenge.
He first headed over to the Lightning Sky Sect and helped in their research while also coordinating with Jing Shui due to his ability to control water to devise a way to eradicate the worms. Using the knowledge he’d learnt about mixing poisons from his mother and merging it with the information gleaned from the Lightning Sky Sect’s research, Qinghe developed an effective poison within a few hours. After he traveled through both the mortal and heavenly realm to acquire the suitable ingredients, Lei Zihua and her juniors brewed the poison according to his instructions and prepared several large barrels of it.
Taking these barrels to the place where the flooding had first occurred, Qinghe poured out the newly-made poison—which was calibrated to affect only the spirit devouring worms—into the running river. Upon Qinghe’s request, Jing Shui used his ability and made sure that the poison would suffuse every part of the river, cleansing it of the worms wherever it spread. Any worms that managed to survive this would be few in number and could be easily taken care of.
In this way, the entire population of spirit-devouring worms infesting the Jia River was completely wiped out by the time the sun sank below the horizon.
And on this day, the cultivation world was once more reminded why they should not offend Feng Qinghe. His way of exacting vengeance was truly too thorough!