Ch.222: An unexpected encounter
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It took a while for Shi Yue to say his part. It couldn’t be helped, he got distracted taking breaks to do what he was supposed to look like he was doing.

Although it was incredibly weird to kiss a Xie Yi with a different face. At least the hickeys on his neck wouldn’t be as apparent once the fake skin was off.

“We don’t know where Xiao Zai is exactly located. From what that woman said, children are too popular in that store. They won’t let her walk around freely for a single second, lest something happens.”

Xie Yi rubbed his face against Shi Yue’s and replied in a low murmur, looking very much like he was flirting. “Let’s go somewhere else. I’ve got an idea about going back into there, but it won’t work together with you.”

Obviously, the prostitute had taken a liking to him. Maybe if he nervously ran back there later, acting as if he wanted to ask for tips on how to “handle” his partner, he might get her distracted enough to look around. Maybe he could even get into one of the rooms again. Shi Yue could be nearby.

Although Shi Yue did not know what Xie Yi was planning, he gave his agreement anyway.

His heart was tense with rejection. He would prefer not letting Xie Yi run around on his own, acting out dangerous ideas, but he knew that if he did that, he would be cutting his own flesh.

Putting Xie Yi on a leash was bound to go wrong.

As soon as he had Shi  Yue’s agreement, Xie Yi returned to loudly whining. With a coquettish tone in his voice, he begged his beloved. “Not outside…”

“Fine.” Shi Yue’s voice was half annoyed, half indulgent as he let go off Xie Yi. He wrapped an arm tightly around his waist and dragged him back to the street.

With Xie Yi’s face flushed unnaturally, his eyes a tad bit misty, the two only earned amused glances and some chuckles on their way down the market.

Xie Yi kept his act up, not minding that he was stuck to his new boyfriend and comfortably leaning against him, when something caught his attention. The slight stumble in his step did not go unnoticed by Shi Yue, whose eyes immediately flicked over.

They changed direction at the same time. Thankfully, the black market had smaller stores everywhere, meaning that no one thought it was weird that they entered one of the smaller back alleys.

Both cultivators had their eyes wide open, expecting to be forced to start running to catch up with the shadow they had seen.

Instead, the person stood quietly at the end of the alley. The light fell weirdly, half illuminating him, and drawing quivering shadows over his body. With jerking movements, the head rolled over the shoulder and turned backwards in an uncomfortable position, blankly staring at the two of them.

Shi Yue sucked in a breath.

It was the first time he had seen Yao Ming in quite the while and without a single shred of doubt, he knew why Xie Yi believed the Demonic Sect had done something to him. 

Like a badly controlled marionette, Yao Ming turned fully towards them and drew his sword, his smile all but too wide on his face. “YoU Againn.”

There were only two words, but they jumped around in intonation.

“Yao Ming! Stop this nonsense!” Shi Yue hissed nervously. He did not believe it would work, but it was worth a try. When the other did not react, he wanted to step forward.

Xie Yi held a hand on his chest, holding him back and mouthing the words “spiritual energy” to him. If Shi Yue made a move, the people of the black market would notice.

Shi Yue frowned and nodded. His physical abilities alone should be enough to keep up with them if Xie Yi fought with Yao Ming.

Xie Yi drew his common sword and jumped forward, fully intending on cutting down Yao Ming.

He was starting to notice the differences in Yao Ming just like Shi Yue, but he looked at them from another angle. It was likely that Yao Ming was falling prey to the Demonic Sect’s experiments.

A second later, his assumption was proven correct.

A burst of unsteady demonic energy unleashed from Yao Ming as he retreated backwards in a quick jump. The cultivator laughed, the sound chopped, and goaded Xie Yi with a wave of his hand while completely ignoring Shi Yue.

Xie Yi snarled. At least their fight would not attract anyone’s attention due to the demonic energy.

And indeed, it did not.

The only thing that caused people to glance over was Xie Yi’s - a little beauty’s - participation and the sight of a third person following the fight without intervening. It took them no time at all to come to a simple conclusion:

Lover’s quarrel.

Happened often enough.

A few people casually ducked out of the way when Yao Ming jumped onto a stall, causing it to be destroyed by Xie Yi following him up with a sword.

The indifference of everyone came as a shock to Shi Yue. No one cared at all  - not about the destruction or the obvious fight. Then he looked at Xie Yi’s expression and noticed, neither did his lover.

This kind of scene, it was the demonic counterpart of the spiritual sects’ official spars.

Too normal for anyone to react.

At the same time, as long as Xie Yi and Shi Yue looked as if this wasn’t abnormal for them either, it made for a beautiful cover.

Crashes sounded from another part of the black market where another group had begun to fight, causing the shopping people to move out of the way and gather in the middle.

Xie Yi hunted after Yao Ming, still hesitant on going all out - which was bound to kill the other - or holding back. Anyway, it was harder to hit Yao Ming this time than the last; an effect of the experiments, possibly. His dodges were quick and surprisingly neat.

The roof of a small building cracked and groaned when the two younger cultivators jumped onto it, shortly followed by a tense Shi Yue, ready to step in at any second.

Yao Ming snickered and threw a slash at Shi Yue.

In a sudden fit of fury, Xie Yi retaliated strongly. 

The roof cracked again, its structure breaking apart. When Yao Ming’s sword followed up Xie Yi’s attack, the material gave in.

Xie Yi fell with a yelp of surprise and quickly rolled to the side, closer to the wall, just in case of more enemies being in the room.

For half a second, the situation was at a standstill.

The room was glowing with the arrays covering every corner, creating a thick boundary that - by all means - should have kept anyone from coming inside in any way. The small figure at the side looked at him with mouth agape and eyes wide, chains rattling over the ground as she moved.

Yao Ming’s figure flashed and Xie Yi flinched, throwing his sword up in the last second.

“Go!” Shi Yue bellowed somewhere from the side and Xie Yi did not hesitate to return his focus on Yao Ming’s movements again.

Yao Ming fled through the open roof, Xie Yi right at his tail.

From behind him, he heard stiffled sobs and soft whispers.

Yao Ming moved away until they were in the farthest corners of the black market. His body jerked again, as if his muscles were cramping. He stopped running, already backed into a corner. He couldn’t run anymore.

Xie Yi expected the situation to tilt, with Yao Ming using his demonic energy on him - but it did not. On the contrary. The jerking motions and unsteady hits increased.

Xie Yi found himself getting slower and slower with every move. Utter confusion was twisting his face and Juxian’s voice whispered into his ear as a memory.

Because Yao Ming dying right now would have been bad.

He never quite understood why his sword spirit had acted in a way that would leave the bastard alive. He hadn’t understood, but now…

Oh, it could be a coincidence, of course.

It could be, but there was something telling him it wasn’t. Yao Ming walking into them, their fight moving to this place, the roof being able to break in, it wasn’t a coincidence.

The other cultivator’s hits were frantic. They were the movements of someone who did not know how to wield a sword, with messy swings and the wrong use of strength. It was hardly an attack.

You're gonna get answers soon, no worries. Even if it might not make too much sense right now.

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