Three days, that was how long Zhuo Fan was cooped up in his room, with one leg over the other and not moving a muscle.
He had been at this ever since he saw Xie Tianshang coming out of that courtyard, showing that the antidote was effective and Chu Qingcheng had recovered.
Today was when the middle three sects stage began, yet, he did not feel like inspecting his enemies, letting Fiend Yang take the disciples to watch the fight.
Zhuo Fan frowned deeply. His mind was uncertain, filled with Danqing Shen’s words. How did one remove love when it wasn’t even there? This was one question he had never thought about.
Maybe he had been on this lonely road of demonic cultivation for so long that he had gotten used to being alone and everything going his way. But heaven played a sick joke on him, bringing him back and tying him down again and again.
He could no longer go back to just being a demonic cultivator.
Was it heaven’s way of taunting him, or maybe a trial?
[Maybe Yun Xuanji was right. This is my chance to restart my demonic path.]
It was just that this path was too foreign that he did not know how to proceed. Unlike the breezy demonic path he trod in his previous life, he didn’t know if this new path would bring him to the pinnacle of Dao.
[Just what am I to do?]
Demonic cultivation emphasized a dead heart. Once emotions sprouted, they would drag him back. But how was one supposed to remove them when one had yet to experience them?
[This is so messed up.]
If one took those emotions to train in the demonic path, would these emotions remain pure? Could they be called the feelings one had at first? They were nothing more than a means to an end.
But if one fell to emotion, how could one just up and cut them off? If they could be removed so easily, why then still call it true love?
[Holy shit! If I see it as a trial, that means no path is the right one!]
Zhuo Fan facepalmed, hesitating if he should insist on going down this road.
[Better go with the flow and trust where my heart takes me.]
If it were so, would he ever return to his demonic path?
[I’m only getting further and further away…]
Feeling powerless, Zhuo Fan just did not know what to do. He had been in his man cave for these three days, struggling with his greatest problem yet.
[It just goes to show my previous path was too plain!]
“Zhuo Fan, another dark horse showed up! I don’t think we’ll even get to pass the middle three sects fight now!” A shout came from outside the courtyard.
Zhuo Fan rolled his eyes at Fiend Yang’s distraught voice, turning over and resuming his conflicting thoughts.
He was in for a rude awakening as Fiend Yang just would not let him, smashing the door open, rushing over, and shaking every bone in his body, “Damn brat, don’t you know anything besides sleeping? You’ll get all the sleep you want when you’re dead. We have more important things to worry about right now!”
“What’s the hurry? Aren’t we challenging the middle three sects tomorrow? Just leave it.”
“Leave your ass!”
Zhuo Fan’s lazy attitude ticked Fiend Yang off, “Damn brat, you did not come to see the middle three sects stage. Do you know how it ended?”
Fiend Yang’s face twitched in rage. He worked hard to keep it bottled up and prevent it from leaking into his voice, “You wouldn’t be so relaxed if you had seen what happened at the middle three sects stage. I bet you’d freak out more than me. Sword God Sect is a freak of nature, all ten of its disciples are in the Ethereal Stage, even your old friend.”
Zhuo Fan recalled his old friend, then nodded, “Oh, right. I never paid him much attention when he came. But now that you mention it, his aura did place him in the Ethereal Stage. He’s always been a martial fanatic, a genius cultivator, but for him to enter the Ethereal Stage so fast is beyond my expectations. The middle three sects sure are rich. Well, congrats to him.”
“Congrats your sister! You still have the free time to care about someone else? He is our greatest threat!”
Fiend Yang was itching to smack some sense into this sloppy Zhuo Fan, but he reined it in, “Dude, you’re our leader. Can’t you show some interest? Sword God Sect’s lineup is as strong as a superior three sect’s. Do you know how they fared in the matches? They won all of them, both singles and teams. Demon Soul Sect and Heaven Trailing Sect haven’t won once!”
Zhuo Fan looked at him curiously, “That amazing?”
“Yes, that amazing.”
Fiend Yang sighed, “Sword God Sect has always been the top middle three sects, but the other two sects weren’t this far behind. Even with the superior three sects’ dominance over the middle three sects, none of the superior three sects could guarantee such a complete victory…”
Fiend Yang’s worry grew as he sighed, “And then there’s that Gentle Sword, he showed great power, but I am sure he didn’t go all out. The entire Sword God Sect came prepared, then they even gave us taunting looks. They clearly aren’t afraid of us, or more particularly, you. They must have something ready for you. That’s what worries me the most!”
“Oh, then we should be more careful.”
Zhuo Fan nodded, finally getting serious. “I’ll just have to use my foolproof strategy to make losing impossible!”
Fiend Yang lit up, “You have such a thing? Tell me!”
“We don’t fight them. We can’t lose if we don’t fight.” Zhuo Fan grinned, “Or we’ll just have to settle being a middle three sect.”
Fiend Yang’s face twitched, and his eyes were burning with a newfound rage he could no longer contain, “Zhuo Fan, is that how you don’t lose? Shit! Who was it that said we’ll challenge the superior three sects? It was you who proclaimed such great design! But now that you met the Sword God Sect blocking your path, you shy away? You’re nothing more than…”
With an unbridled yawn, Zhuo Fan walked away as Fiend Yang was in the middle of his rant.
He had more pressing things to worry about, like his inner conflict. Other stuff was just extra.
He cared even less about some good of the sect motto. Getting them in the middle three sects was enough to fulfill his end of the bargain with Xie Wuyue.
[Superior three sects? Ha-ha-ha, that’s your problem!]
Fiend Yang felt powerless at Zhuo Fan’s disinterest.
[This young master is so damn stubborn, only doing things based on his mood. If he were in good spirits, he’d be arrogant and fight everything under the sky. If he were in the dumps, he would rather sit back. What a pain in the ass, and there’s no way to deal with him.]
“Steward Zhuo, Venerable, people from the Heaven Trailing Sect have come to see you!” Kui Lang shouted as he entered. Looking at Fiend Yang’s red face and Zhuo Fan’s laid-back attitude, he knew what had happened. So he bowed and declared.
Fiend Yang glanced at Zhuo Fan, “We’ve been here for so long already and haven’t paid each other any visits. So why is it today they come to us?”
“Punk, this isn’t over. We’ll talk when I get back!” Fiend Yang slammed his hand hard on Zhuo Fan’s shoulder and left in a huff.
Zhuo Fan had a faint smile on his face. Kui Lang did not disturb him and closed the door behind him. Zhuo Fan then recalled something and shouted, “Hey, Kui Lang, come back. I want to ask you something.”
“Steward Zhuo, is there anything you need?” Kui Lang bowed.
Zhuo Fan waved his hand, turning dead serious, “Kui Lang, you and your one must have a deep love for each other, right? Why else would you forfeit knowing it could kill you?”
“She keeps me at peace. She chases my fears…”
“Alright, I got it. You don’t need to mention it.”
Kui Lang looked at the sky sorrowfully, but Zhuo Fan cut him off right as he started, “I just wanted to ask. You know demonic cultivation is emotionless, so why do you do this for…”
Kui Lang gave him a long look, then sighed, “Steward Zhuo, I know the sect has a rule not to fraternize. But love is like a torrent, sweeping anything in its path. I have been around and understand this better than most. Both its sweet and bitter sides, with all in between. All I can say is that I have no regrets. Even when I got cast down to being a laborer.”
“Uh, you misunderstood me. This isn’t about the sect’s rules. I’m talking about the demonic path. Now that you’ve known love so much, it’s hard to progress. Why did you dive in without hesitating?”
Kui Lang had a strange look, “Steward Zhuo, I may be a disciple on the demonic path, but I haven’t once thought about it. I only followed what others did and did not break the sect’s rules. That is all. When I got close to her, I wasn’t thinking about anything, just that we might be exposed and suffer for it.”
Zhuo Fan paused for a moment and nodded.
An ordinary cultivator like Kui Lang was still at the start of the demonic path and probably would never traverse it to reach the Dao. So he didn’t consider things too much.
Zhuo Fan shook his head, feeling foolish.
[What was I thinking asking him? He doesn’t know the difference between a path and a demon. All he does is follow the herd.]
Because of this, Zhuo Fan admired him. Faced with simple-minded choices, one did not have regrets.
“You can go. I need some peace and quiet.” Zhuo Fan shooed him.
Kui Lang nodded and bowed before leaving. But just as he was at the door, he said, “Steward Zhuo, I don’t know if it’s my place to say this. My insight into the demonic path is way shallower than yours and Elder Yuan’s, but there is one area I know for certain. I chose the demonic path over the righteous because of their many restrictions. While I do not know what is on your mind, I get the feeling you are also restricted by yourself. Why must you do so? I have been around, and when it comes to emotions or love, I won’t hesitate.”
“Why do you suddenly sound so wise?”
Zhuo Fan shook, and a realization struck him as he gaped at him.
Kui Lang scratched his head, “I can never be wiser than Steward Zhuo, that I know. All I can say is that I know about feelings, ha-ha-ha…”