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The Dragon

The Dragon By Nov 15, 2023 6 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Caged Beasts

The light from the Night Pearl stretched forth, fully revealing the creature’s face. It had the facial shape of an ape, with bone armor at its temples. Its hair was odd: black at the roots, white at the tips.

The golden eyes followed her movements, sizing her up. There was no hatred in them, just a blank, curious gaze.

It lay on the ground, looking at her with a somewhat dull expression. Gu Fuyou suddenly found it familiar—where had she seen this before? Then it struck her; it was the same expression as when she had embraced Zhong Michu’s Dragon form during the canyon race.

She wondered how Zhong Michu was doing now. Had she safely reached the Eastern Sea? How were the people of the Dragon Clan treating her? How were her injuries?

Without thinking, Gu Fuyou’s hand went to her lower back where the pain from the slave contract still lingered, leaving her back uncomfortable. She lowered her eyes, unable to hide her sadness. She wondered if Zhong Michu ever resented her for the contract, and whether she might hate her for it.

The creature’s cry snapped her back to reality. It opened its mouth in a low growl, perhaps unused to calling out, sounding like wind whistling through a hole. It didn’t seem threatening, rather like a greeting.

With its mouth wide open, Gu Fuyou could see inside: a dark void, its tongue and the inside of its mouth pitch black, a sign that its blood and body fluids were likely highly toxic. Something felt off to her, and upon closer inspection, she realized its teeth had been extracted, possibly drugged, and had not regrown.

Gu Fuyou was overwhelmed with emotions she couldn’t quite name. She wasn’t afraid, even though her situation was dangerous and she was close to death. She bravely approached the creature and saw that its claws had been filed down to the point where they had regrown smooth and rounded, resembling bamboo segments.

Gu Fuyou was somewhat disappointed, her heart sinking. This creature might resemble the fearsome Zhuyan, but it wasn’t one. Zhuyan, barehanded and barefoot, were ferocious beasts that required the combined force of the Dragon and Azure Phoenix Clans to subdue. This one was far too “tame” compared to the Zhuyan she’d heard about in tales. Even if it was sealed, it shouldn’t have lost its ferocity; resentment would only accumulate, and its nature would only become more brutal and violent.

Clearly, this was a spiritual beast made to look like a Zhuyan, confirming what was written in the Records of the Azure Emperor had described.

Was the entire play self-directed by the Four Immortal Sects to encourage humans to become stronger and prove that human talent was not inferior to that of the Azure Phoenix or Dragon Clans? Or to eliminate human reverence and submission towards them? Or was it a far-sighted move to establish their dominance over the Four Continents? Gu Fuyou could only guess, with no way to verify.

She wondered why, if this Zhuyan was fake, they would bother keeping up the facade and imprison it here. Was it to perform a full act of sealing the Zhuyan for the world to see?  After the repercussions of this event passed, they should quietly deal with it to prevent the truth from coming out. Why keep it?

Perhaps it was self-deception, a masterful performance that even convinced them they had captured the Zhuyan. Thus, they kept it to admire daily, basking in the glory of this perceived achievement.

Of course, these were just Gu Fuyou’s guesses, shaped by her bitterness towards the Zuo family, whom she saw as deceitful and without honor.

So much time had passed, and the current Zuo family genuinely believed their ancestors had sealed Zhuyan, with the descendants proudly claiming “the Zuo family being blessed by heaven.”

Now that Gu Fuyou knew the truth, she found it laughable. She thought of Zuo Tianyi, the beginning of it all, and couldn’t help but let out a sneer.

At least Zuo Yuezhi didn’t know the truth, otherwise, he wouldn’t have confined her in such a cell. Whether the sect leader Zuo Taishui or anyone from the other three sects knew was uncertain.

Probably not many, considering it wasn’t something to be proud of.

Gu Fuyou once again felt around the cave, finding no exits other than the way she entered. Naturally, why would there be another escape route here?

She gazed absentmindedly at the spirit beast, wishing it were Zhuyan. Perhaps she could release it and have it take both herself and the Xu Ling Sect down with it—a perfect ending for her.

She returned to the stairs, knowing she couldn’t stay too long or the Zuo family might become suspicious. Just as she stepped on the first stair, the low growl of the beast echoed behind her.

Looking back, the dimness obscured the beast’s face; its cry reverberated through the hollow cavern, a mournful, haunting sound. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she hurriedly ascended the stairs, fleeing.

Safely back in her room, with no sign of discovery by the Zuo family, she secured the mechanism and sat on the bed, the beast’s cry still resonating in her mind.

Falsely accused, used as a stepping stone by the Four Immortal Sects, exploited, imprisoned, stripped of everything. It felt all too familiar, for wasn’t that her fate too?

She felt like the beast trapped underground, locked away for life, forgotten, waiting for death in a dark prison alone.

She couldn’t afford to dwell on it; too much thinking would drive her mad.

In the days that followed, she didn’t know how she endured. Someone brought her food daily, and Du Pan took her blood twice. She lay on the ground, staring at the ceiling, feeling increasingly numb.

The silence here was overwhelming; she could do nothing, not even speak to anyone. Once talkative, especially when with Zhong Michu, she now wondered who to talk to.

If this continued, she’d either go mad or become foolish. Being so controllable might well be what the Zuo family wished for.

After the Zuo family delivered her meal, she traced the cloud patterns on the ground with her finger and then went down to the dark nest beneath the mechanism to see the spirit beast again.

Upon reaching the end of the staircase, she saw the beast. The creature, with its golden eyes, stared at her blankly. As she moved, its eyes followed her every step.

She approached its head, standing at the height of its nose bridge. Standing so close, their eyes inevitably met. A soft chuckle escaped from Gu Fuyou. The beast let out a noise, puffing out a breath from its nostrils.

With a sad smile, Gu Fuyou said, “Hello, I’m your neighbor.”

The beast purred softly in reply. As a primate spirit beast of high intelligence, selected by the Four Immortal Sects to impersonate Zhuyan, it surely possessed high-level cultivation.

Gu Fuyou took comfort knowing it could understand her. It responded with a sound, like a solitary flower blooming in a scorched field.

“I’m like you, captured by the Xu Ling Sect and locked away here,” Gu Fuyou confided.

Upon hearing the name ‘Xu Ling Sect,’ the spiritual beast reacted violently, struggling with its head but unable to move its body. It tried to roar but could only produce a hoarse sound; not from disuse, but because its throat had been injured. The raspy sound was filled with sorrow and rage.

Feeling sympathetic, Gu Fuyou approached and gently touched its nose, whispering, “Keep it down, or I won’t be able to be your neighbor anymore.”

The beast calmed at her touch. Gu Fuyou placed the Night Pearl on the ground, sat cross-legged before it, and asked, “My name is Gu Fuyou. What kind of spirit beast are you?”

She had grown accustomed to conversing this way with Ah Fu, relying on Zhong Michu to interpret Ah Fu’s meanings. She momentarily forgot that she didn’t understand the language of beasts.

The creature hummed softly twice. Gu Fuyou, suddenly aware, said with a tinge of sorrow, “I don’t understand you. If my friend were here, she would understand what you’re trying to say.”

Lifting her head, she gazed into its eyes and said, “I really like your eyes, they’re golden, just like hers.”

She asked, “May I hug you?”

The beast gave a soft affirmative sound. She approached, and while she couldn’t fully embrace its massive form, she hugged its face, resting her cheek against its nose, looking closely into those golden eyes.

She longed for Zhong Michu; yearned for Gu Huaiyou; missed Si Miao; hoped to see Gu Shuangqing once more; and wished to see her father again to say the things she never had the chance to.

She never knew she’d one day feel such regret, wishing time could be reversed, wondering why she had been so stubborn, why she hadn’t just apologized

She had so much she wanted to tell him. She was proud to have him as her father and hoped that one day she could make him proud of her.

“I’m sorry, I love you, I never had the chance to say it.”

After that, she would sneak down to the underground nest from time to time to see the spirit beast and talk to it. Even if she was the only one speaking, it helped her to relax. She needed to do something, or she would go mad. She felt she was already half-mad.

She became suspicious, downcast, and repressed. She talked to the spirit beast about Zhong Michu, about the pact, and how she dwelled on it, feeling ashamed of herself. She would remember the past bit by bit, and every time she remembered Zhong Michu’s kindness, she would feel relieved. But any thought that Zhong Michu might be slightly upset with her would clutch at her heart, her heart would tighten, afraid that she hated her.

She talked to the spirit beast about Gu Huaiyou’s affairs. She worried whether Lu Yandong was taking care of Huaiyou as agreed, feared that the Zuo family was making things difficult for them, and was even more afraid that Gu Huaiyou, unwilling to submit, would seek revenge or try to rescue her. She could even imagine Gu Huaiyou fighting desperately with Lu Yandong when he tried to break out of the city lord’s mansion.

The more she thought about it, the more restless she became. The only thing keeping her clinging to life in this dark abyss was the knowledge that Gu Huaiyou was still out there.

Maybe it was because of her constant thoughts, that day after Gu Fuyou fell asleep, she had a dream. She dreamed that Gu Huaiyou had committed suicide with his sword, blood gushing from his neck, his eyes gradually losing their sparkle. Si Miao rushed in, pressing on his wound to no avail. She cried and screamed, calling his name, cursing him as a fool, holding his head tightly in her arms.

Gu Fuyou awoke in pain, covering her chest, the pain so intense she bent over and moaned, her body drenched in cold sweat, the dream felt so real that she was thrown into a state of panic. She cried out helplessly, “Gu Huaiyou, Gu Huaiyou…”

She threw herself at the door, pounding on the tightly closed door, “Open up, I want to see Zuo Yuezhi, I want to see your Protector, open the door!”

The guards outside naturally heard the commotion, and after hearing Gu Fuyou’s urgent and fierce calls, they deliberated and decided to send someone to find Zuo Yuezhi.

Zuo Yuezhi was busy with sect affairs, with the upcoming Immortal Sect Assembly that required his personal attention. The guard didn’t find him, but instead came across Zuo Qingfeng. Considering that the woman had asked to see a protector, and both Zuo Yuezhi and Zuo Qingfeng were protectors, he reported the matter to Zuo Qingfeng.

Zuo Qingfeng accompanied him to the dungeon. When the guards opened the door, Gu Fuyou threw herself against the barrier, which held her back like a transparent film; she couldn’t get out, but she didn’t care. She simply said to Zuo Qingfeng, “I want to see Gu Huaiyou.”

Zuo Qingfeng replied with a smile, “You’re a prisoner, yet you’re making demands to me.”

Gu Fuyou’s eyes were red with desperation, almost mad, “I want to see Gu Huaiyou! You promised to take care of him. I need to see him to know if you’ve kept your promise.”

Zuo Qingfeng stroked his chin, looking at her for a long time before saying, “Alright. I’ll make the arrangements.”

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Previous: Chapter 60

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Alex POTUS
Alex POTUS
8 months ago

Where is my Michu? 😏

dadin
dadin
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex POTUS

recuperating.. probably still unconscious?

Bon
Bon
8 months ago

There had better be some kind of payoff for the all of this misery. Her whole family is dead, her sect is in the hands of traitors, the people sure thought would help her give absolutely 0 shits about what happened to her or her family, and the major sects of the world all appears to be benignly evil. This whole story is just making me angry

Shakthivel
Shakthivel
8 months ago

Thanks for the chapter

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

OwO these world building tidbits are so much fun! The fluff in the beginning really was just a prelude hahaha

Hatimo
Hatimo
27 days ago

I’m having headache cause of cryin wtf. At least Fuyou have this zhayou to accompany her