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What's wrong with a snake that just wants to cultivate and transform?

What’s wrong with a snake that just wants to cultivate and transform? By Feb 24, 2024 8 Comments
Table of Contents
Previous: Chapter 21

Chapter 22

The speaker was Mu Yanyu. She had arranged to visit Xu Nian the previous day and had even finished all her tasks early to arrive at the inn ahead of time. However, she ended up waiting for Xu Nian for several hours.

Bored from the wait but unwilling to leave empty-handed, Mu Yanyu tried striking up a conversation with Ji Yuebai. But Ji Yuebai was as cold as an ice block, barely responding to any of Mu Yanyu’s enthusiastic inquiries about keeping a talkative and amusing little green snake as a pet.

Ji Yuebai had only replied with a noncommittal “Hmm.”

Mu Yanyu’s interest was only piqued when she mentioned catching the flower thieves and encountering the little green snake. But as soon as the topic of the snake was exhausted, Ji Yuebai’s cold demeanor returned.

This unresponsiveness was a rare defeat for the usually charming and sociable Mu Yanyu. Resigned, she sat nearby, pretending to be oblivious to Ji Yuebai’s dismissive glances, and continued to wait for Xu Nian.

She was getting numb from sitting, almost at her wit’s end, when she suddenly noticed a thin crack appear in the window. Then a tiny, vibrant snake tail appeared, followed swiftly by a lithe body slipping through.

At last, her wait was over.

Following the familiar voice, Xu Nian turned around to meet Mu Yanyu’s expectant amber eyes.

Her gaze shifted, only to encounter Ji Yuebai’s somewhat icy face.

Why did it feel like she’d done something terribly wrong?

Mu Yanyu approached her with a playful reproach in her voice. “We agreed to hang out, and you made me wait so long. Where did you sneak off to? You didn’t go off and find some other snakes to play with, did you?”

At the sound of those words, Xu Nian noticed a hint of hurt in Ji Yuebai’s gaze, almost as if she felt abandoned, the poor thing.

Xu Nian was on the verge of tears, praying this little miss would stop talking. She had spent months trying to build a good relationship; any more of this, and she’d have to start all over again.

Quickly, she moved to Ji Yuebai’s side to affirm her loyalty, hooking her tail around Ji Yuebai’s sleeve and addressing Mu Yanyu, “Ji Yuebai hasn’t been feeling well lately, and I thought I could help with what little skills I have. So, I went to the mountains to find some special treats, hoping they would help her get her strength back.”

While she was talking, Xu Nian shook her storage bag, and with several heavy thuds, a pile of wild game landed on the floor: a large wild boar, a wild chicken with long feathers, a fluffy wild rabbit, and even some bamboo shoots and matsutake mushrooms that weren’t in season. Most surprisingly, there was also a snow-white silver fox among the collection.

Xu Nian’s earnest gaze settled on Ji Yuebai as she spoke, “This wild chicken paired with bamboo shoots and matsutake is excellent for nourishing the body.” She gently hooked Ji Yuebai’s finger with her tail, showing concern, “In this early spring, while it’s still cool, I’ve noticed your hands are always cold. So, I caught a silver fox for you. Its fur is completely white, without any marks, and it seemed perfect for you, almost like a natural hand warmer.”

This scene rendered Mu Yanyu, who had arrived expecting entertainment, completely speechless. It was her first time seeing such a strategic yet articulate snake. With just a few words and the game she had easily gathered, Xu Nian succeeded in warming up the typically cold demeanor of Ji Yuebai.

Xu Nian stealthily wiped an imaginary bead of sweat off her forehead, relieved that her pre-emptive hunting trip in the forest had paid off.

Brilliant, simply brilliant. Mu Yanyu felt she could learn a lot from this snake.

She humbly asked Ji Yuebai, who was sitting nearby, “How did you manage to find such a well-behaved, smart, and quick-witted little snake?”

Yes, even if she couldn’t get the real deal, a substitute would do.

Ji Yuebai, who had been quite reserved until this moment, finally offered a more detailed reply, “She was there when I opened my eyes.”

Show-off, blatant show-off!

Mu Yanyu bit her handkerchief in envy. She wanted a snake like that, too.

Just then, Xu Nian poked Mu Yanyu with her tail and looked up at her with her shiny, round eyes.

A smile spread across Mu Yanyu’s lips as she asked, “Do you have something for me too?”

Xu Nian shook her head, then pointed with her tail to the pile of game on the floor, sweetly saying, “Rich sister, could you ask the kitchen to stew these for us?”

Mu Yanyu was momentarily taken aback but agreed, “Okay.”

Xu Nian then added from the doorway, “Don’t make it too greasy. Yuebai needs to stay healthy.”

As Mu Yanyu descended the stairs, she admitted to herself with a bit of sourness, “…Alright.”

The kitchen staff, motivated by Mu Yanyu’s generous tip, worked swiftly. In no time, they prepared a full table of dishes, perfectly arranging pork trotters, ribs, and stomach. The wild chicken stir-fried with bamboo shoots and matsutake mushrooms smelled so appetizing that it made one’s mouth water. The kitchen, grateful for the hefty tip, even added several fish, vegetable, and cold dishes to complete the meal.

The two women and the snake took their seats at the round table in the hall.

Xu Nian glanced at Ji Yuebai and then at Mu Yanyu, “You’re not starting. How can I eat?”

Mu Yanyu looked towards Ji Yuebai and suggested, “Since Xu Nian prepared this especially for Miss Ji, she should start.”

Ji Yuebai picked up a piece of pork hock and offered it to Xu Nian, imitating how Xu Nian had fed her before, “Ah~” Over the days, Ji Yuebai had become quite skilled with chopsticks.

Xu Nian, not understanding Ji Yuebai’s intention, obediently swallowed the food.

Mu Yanyu remarked with emotion, “You two are so close.”

Ji Yuebai replied affectionately, “Ah Nian hurt her tail, I should help her.”

Hearing this, Mu Yanyu also picked up a chicken leg and offered it to Xu Nian, “Here, Ah Nian, eat more to grow big and strong for catching bad guys.” She was unaware that Xu Nian’s body could grow as large as a building.

Ji Yuebai’s hand paused as she reached for more food, casting a glance at Xu Nian.

Xu Nian easily ate the food brought right to her lips without moving. “Xu Nian, how can you be so cute?” Mu Yanyu said affectionately, resting her chin on her hand and smiling warmly. Even as she fed Xu Nian, she felt a deep sense of happiness, as though she was seeing Xu Nian in a more charming light because of her affection.

Right after Xu Nian finished the chicken leg, Ji Yuebai gave her a big piece of Dongpo pork, filling her mouth completely. Xu Nian, with her mouth full, managed to say, “That’s good, but you should eat too. I can eat by myself.” She was puzzled as to why they weren’t joining in the delicious meal, wondering about their lack of appetite.

Mu Yanyu then picked up a fish and presented it to Xu Nian, smiling, “No worries, I’m not hungry. Just watching Xu Nian eat makes me happy.” She affectionately stroked Xu Nian’s belly.

Feeling a cold presence beside her, Xu Nian looked over to see Ji Yuebai’s dark eyes staring at her, silently communicating something unspoken.

After the meal, Ji Yuebai and Mu Yanyu had eaten very little, while Xu Nian was fed until she was round and plump, too full to move from the couch. Meanwhile, Ji Yuebai and Mu Yanyu sat elegantly at the main table, sipping tea and chatting.

Mu Yanyu inquired, “How long do you plan to stay in Qingshui County?”

Ji Yuebai glanced at Xu Nian and replied, “We’ll probably stay for a while longer. She likes it here.”

Catching Ji Yuebai’s look, Mu Yanyu offered, “Though you’re staying at the best inn in Qingshui County, it’s not very safe. I know as a cultivator you’re not afraid of ordinary people, but everyone has moments of vulnerability, like the other night… So, I’d like to invite you to stay at my house. I’m a mortal, but my home is well-guarded since that incident. It might offer some extra security. What do you think?”

Ji Yuebai considered the offer, but her thoughts drifted to Mu Yanyu’s fondness for Xu Nian, seemingly not giving up on the idea of enticing her away. She was about to refuse when Mu Yanyu added, “Xu Nian hurt her tail because of those thieves. If you come to live in my house, we’ll be better prepared for such situations, and maybe she won’t get injured again.”

Ji Yuebai’s eyes darkened, and her grip tightened involuntarily, “You’re right.”

Mu Yanyu’s eyes curved happily, seeming quite pleased.

Ji Yuebai said firmly, “I’ll pay for our stay.” She laid out the gold she had exchanged in recent days, “Is this enough?”

Looking at the heap of gleaming gold in front of her, Mu Yanyu, with years of experience, estimated it to weigh over ten kilograms. She pushed the gold back towards Ji Yuebai, earnestly saying, “I just want to be friends. I’m not looking to profit from this.”

Hearing this, Ji Yuebai glanced at Xu Nian, who was playfully rolling and patting her belly on the couch.

In the midst of her enjoyment, Xu Nian suddenly felt a chill, and involuntarily shivered.

Pretending to be casual, she perked up her imaginary ears to eavesdrop on their conversation.

Mu Yanyu changed the subject, “I heard from my uncle that the two thieves from the other night have confessed to their crimes. They’re to be executed at noon tomorrow. Would you like to see it?”

Before Ji Yuebai could respond, Xu Nian, brimming with excitement, sprang up from the couch, clamoring, “I want to go, I want to see.”

Ji Yuebai calmly said, “Then we’ll go together.”

Xu Nian perched between them on the table, resting her head on the pile of gold, which for some reason felt surprisingly comforting, while waiting for Mu Yanyu to set a time.

As Mu Yanyu rose to leave, Xu Nian hadn’t even begun to ask her to stay when Ji Yuebai effortlessly scooped her up, ready to follow downstairs.

Confused, Xu Nian struggled on Ji Yuebai’s wrist, her sharp eyes catching sight of the gold left behind by the two. Her tail twisted eagerly, gesturing towards the abandoned treasure: “The gold, if you don’t want it, let me have it!”

Ji Yuebai paused, and Xu Nian, with lightning speed, gathered the gold into her storage bag, then contentedly returned to Ji Yuebai’s wrist, transforming into a serene, beautiful jade bracelet.

Mu Yanyu said, “You go pack your things, I’ll wait for you in the hall.”

Xu Nian looked puzzledly at Ji Yuebai: “Pack our things?”

Ji Yuebai nodded, “She has invited us to stay at her home.”

“Huh? You agreed? Why did you say yes? I thought you didn’t like her,” Xu Nian babbled on.

Ji Yuebai looked down, her voice barely audible, “I don’t want you to get hurt again.”

Perhaps it was the wind that blew, blurring her voice.

Xu Nian asked, “What did you say?”

Ji Yuebai turned her head away, “Nothing.”

Ji Yuebai checked out of the room and left with Mu Yanyu.

Xu Nian had no objections. With her black box for accelerated cultivation, it didn’t matter where she was. Besides, she could live in a mansion without spending spirit stones, a clear win-win situation.

But she had to admit, Mu Yanyu did shock her a bit with her capitalist lifestyle.

As they entered the estate, the guards greeted them with robust respect, “Welcome back, young mistress.”

When they reached the inner courtyard, maids in two rows bowed in greeting. The head maid approached, “Miss, you’re back. The kitchen has prepared some late-night snacks. Would you like some? The hot water is ready for your bath whenever you wish.”

Mu Yanyu instructed, “No rush, first get the room ready for this distinguished guest and prepare hot water. Be careful in serving.”

Upon rising and seeing Ji Yuebai’s face, the maids were stunned for a moment. They marveled at such beauty, having believed their young mistress to be the most beautiful person in the world. Yet here was proof that others could be just as lovely, perhaps even as celestial beings.

Luya had come back that day saying she had seen a fairy, and it turned out to be true.

After the servants dispersed to their tasks, Mu Yanyu apologetically said, “I hope I haven’t embarrassed you. Being cultivators, you must prefer simplicity, and find all this rather worldly.”

Xu Nian thought, “Mundane? This is living the life, using money to buy human labor to save time, having everything at your fingertips, even a ready bath. I admit I’m just a mundane snake.”

But Ji Yuebai simply replied, “Living in the mortal world, it’s natural to be part of it.”

Xu Nian mentally nodded in agreement, admiring the level-headedness of a cultivator, even if the thunder tribulation had scrambled their brains.

She couldn’t deny the feeling of being welcomed with open arms, far surpassing the comforts of the best room in the inn. Whether it was the luxurious petal bath, the refreshing fruit beverages by the tub, the cloud-like softness of the bed, or the light and pleasant incense burned before bedtime, all these indulgences filled Xu Nian with bliss.

This was her first time experiencing such a dreamy life since her reincarnation as a snake. She was so moved she almost cried, and found it hard to leave the bed the next morning.

Ji Yuebai, observing her, inquired, “Do you enjoy these things?”

Xu Nian, contradicting her true feelings, declared righteously, “These are mere illusions that lead to downfall, obstacles on the path to becoming an immortal, and detrimental to cultivating one’s temperament.”

Ji Yuebai appeared apologetic, “I misunderstood you then.”

Xu Nian generously responded, “No worries.”

The next day, as the hour of execution approached, Mu Yanyu led them out to witness the event.

To avoid public misunderstanding, Mu Yanyu thoughtfully prepared a veil for Ji Yuebai. The two women and the snake, ready for the day, headed to the execution ground. Ji Yuebai was mainly there to accompany Xu Nian for excitement, while Mu Yanyu was keen to see the wretched end of the two villains.

Arriving at the execution ground, they found it crowded with spectators like Xu Nian, eager for the spectacle. Many people had brought rotten vegetables and eggs to throw at the condemned men, hurling insults as they did so.

The two flower thieves, badly beaten and covered in whip marks, were tied to execution posts in an X-shape, showing they had endured a lot of suffering in prison.

Xu Nian, hidden in Ji Yuebai’s clothes, curiously asked, “Aren’t they supposed to be beheaded? Why are they tied up like this?”

Mu Yanyu softly explained, “These men have caused harm to many families. Those who were severely wronged by them have secretly paid to make sure their punishment lasts longer.”

“They deserve it,” Xu Nian remarked solemnly.

As the hour struck, the executioner approached with a knife, not a usual beheading sword, but a small, curved blade typically used for slicing meat.

The two cried out in pain like pigs being slaughtered, their bodies shaking violently from the intense pain. They fainted after a few moments but were soon awakened by the unbearable pain, living a nightmare where they couldn’t live or die.

This kind of execution was indeed satisfying for the onlookers; many clapped and cheered, while those who had been harmed by the men shed tears quietly in hidden spots.

At that moment, Xu Nian was overwhelmed with mixed feelings. She alternated between moments of disgust, uttering ‘yuck,’ and a morbid fascination, her eyes fixated on the ‘flower picker’ as he twitched and convulsed like a half-dead fish, causing her to recoil with a hiss. The scene was terrifying, yet an irresistible curiosity compelled her to keep watching.

The thieves, now mutilated and barely alive, continued to endure the excruciating pain.

Interest piqued, Xu Nian was about to lean forward for a better look when she was stopped by a gentle fingertip. The slender, scallion-like fingers closed together, effectively blocking her view.

Right at the climax, she wriggled to see more, but heard Ji Yuebai’s clear, low voice, “Ah Nian, don’t look, it’s dirty.”

Since moving into Mu Yanyu’s residence, Xu Nian’s days have become increasingly comfortable.

Every day, Xu Nian woke up to ready-made meals. After eating, she would slip into the black box to cultivate. Now, two hours of practice there equated to two days of her previous strenuous efforts. With the enhancement of a spirit-gathering formation, her cultivation progress soared as if on a rocket.

This caused Xu Nian to suddenly fret over how she would handle her upcoming thunder tribulation in about a dozen years. She tossed and turned in bed for a long time, unable to find a solution, and finally decided to give up on worrying about it for the moment.

“There must be a way through the mountain when the journey demands it,” she thought. Maybe paying respects to the various gods and deities would help when the time comes. With this in mind, she made mental promises to the deities: Heaven, Bodhisattvas, Nuwa, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven, Sun Wukong… I’m not trying to avoid debts, but if I go to offer incense money now, I’ll definitely be killed as a provocation. Please protect me for now, and once I’ve transformed, I will offer lots and lots of incense.”

Thinking this, Xu Nian felt a bit down. Considering Ji Yuebai’s personality before her amnesia, she would probably cut ties with a demon like her as soon as her memory returned. They’d go their separate ways from then on.

Having spent so much time with Ji Yuebai, experiencing moments of life and death together, she realized she would truly miss her. The thought of her cherished companion, who was like a beautifully nurtured human-shaped doll, leaving her side left her feeling lonely. She pictured herself without someone to share meals or go shopping with, her once colorful life fading into endless cultivation sessions. This thought filled her with sadness.

Just as she was about to sink into a whirlpool of emotions, she suddenly remembered something.

Even if Ji Yuebai left, there was still Mu Yanyu. Hey, why hadn’t she thought of that before? That’s why one shouldn’t put all one’s eggs in one basket, and as a snake, she naturally understood this.

From the moment she wore the hairpin, Mu Yanyu had shown a fondness for her, maybe even a desire. Xu Nian considered that her allure might be stronger than she had initially thought, flicking her tail contentedly at the idea.

Especially Mu Yanyu, this woman, was not only beautiful and wealthy but also knew how to enjoy life and have fun. She was the ideal partner, no, no, a playmate.

Maybe she could start buttering up Mu Yanyu now, so when Ji Yuebai regains her memory and leaves, she could immediately, and smoothly cling to the wealthy sister’s coattails. The more Xu Nian thought about it, the more feasible it seemed. Her mind buzzed with plans, the fleeting sadness she had felt earlier now completely forgotten.

These past few days, Mu Yanyu was pleasantly surprised to discover that the little green snake, which used to only be interested in Ji Yuebai, had started to warm up to her.

Even though she had long given up on any scheming, she couldn’t help but feel happy at this moment.

Seeing Xu Nian getting closer, she promptly dealt with important matters early in the morning, left the rest to her managers, and went out to spend time with Xu Nian.

Xu Nian glanced back at Ji Yuebai, who was in the midst of meditation, hesitated for a moment, and then resolutely headed over to Mu Yanyu’s place. This was a major issue concerning her happiness for the next several decades, after all.

To welcome Xu Nian, Mu Yanyu had specially ordered milk-fed mice, frogs, loaches, and goose eggs, having heard that no snake could resist these treats.

Xu Nian was stunned as soon as she entered: “What… what’s all this for?”

Mu Yanyu, equally baffled, asked, “Don’t you like these?”

Tears of frustration streamed down Xu Nian’s heart. She initially wanted to pretend to enjoy it so as not to disappoint Mu Yanyu, but considering she might have to spend a decade or more with her, she couldn’t keep up this pretense every day. She had to awkwardly admit, “I prefer the dishes we had before, more than these.”

Upon hearing the words, Mu Yanyu immediately ordered the removal of those items, feeling a bit embarrassed. “I thought you were just humoring us before.”

Xu Nian immediately asserted with righteous indignation: “Not at all, human cuisine is the best!”

Mu Yanyu quickly responded: “That’s easy to say, you haven’t tried everything in Qingshui County yet. There’s more than just the Zui Yu Pavilion, like Li Ji’s Squirrel Mandarin Fish and Honey Mountain Yam, Liu Ji’s Stewed Duck Neck, Soy Sauce Duck Head… Once I’m less busy, I’ll take you to try them all.”

Hearing this, Xu Nian’s mouth watered, her round, glossy eyes shining brightly.

Perhaps it was her lively and adorable appearance, Mu Yanyu couldn’t help but pat her head.

She asked Xu Nian, “Is there anything else you want to do?”

Xu Nian looked up wistfully: “I want to transform.”

Mu Yanyu puzzled: “Transform?”

Xu Nian explained: “That is, to cultivate into a human form.”

This made Mu Yanyu’s eyes sparkle: “So the stories in the books are true! How much longer before you can transform? Will you become a woman then? Can other snakes also cultivate and transform like you?”

Overwhelmed by the barrage of questions, Xu Nian answered them one by one: “I learned about transforming at Xiao Cang Mountain from other demon beasts. It’s not just about cultivation but also luck. I’m not sure if I can transform into a human form. I might be struck by lightning on the path of tribulation, or perhaps turn into a half-human, half-snake form.”

“Not all snakes might be able to cultivate. I’m probably one of the luckier ones, who happened to embark on the path of cultivation by chance.”

What she didn’t tell Mu Yanyu was that she was reincarnated as a snake, retaining human consciousness from birth.

Hearing this, Mu Yanyu sighed: “So cultivation is not an easy task.”

Xu Nian nodded, “You’re absolutely right.”

Mu Yanyu pondered: “Cultivation is so hard, transformation risks lightning strikes or even death. Wouldn’t it be better to just stay a happy little green snake? Why do you want to transform?”

At this, Xu Nian became energized, complaining: “Do you have any idea what my life used to be like? I could barely find enough to eat, had no warm clothes, and even had to fight for a place to sleep. Once, when I went down the mountain to look for food, I almost got caught by a snake catcher. My life was filled with dangers, far from the comfortable and worry-free existence of a human.

“Besides… being a snake is really ugly. I too want to wear beautiful dresses and pretty jewelry,” Xu Nian said, her voice breaking.

Suddenly, Mu Yanyu felt that she was not just talking to a little green snake, but a friend sharing her deepest feelings.

She shook Xu Nian’s tail, blinking: “Even as a snake, you can wear beautiful clothes and pretty jewelry.”

Xu Nian looked up: “Really?”

Ji Yuebai finished a small cycle of cultivation and sensed Xu Nian’s departure. Knowing that she often went out hunting or cultivating recently, she didn’t find it unusual.

At this hour, Xu Nian usually would have returned, but today, she was conspicuously absent.

Ji YueBai, her eyes lowered, activated her Golden Core stage spiritual consciousness. Without a sound, she enveloped the entire estate in her search, quickly locating Xu Nian, who was playing in the main room, and… Mu Yanyu by her side.

Following Xu Nian’s spiritual essence, Ji Yuebai made her way there, only to be stopped by a maid guarding the main courtyard’s entrance.

“Miss Ji, please wait. Our lady has instructed that anyone entering must be announced. I will inform her of your arrival.”

Ji Yuebai nodded, a hint of unease clouding her heart.

Soon, the maid returned, slightly out of breath: “Miss Ji, please come in.”

As Ji Yuebai entered the main room, pushing the door open and about to search for Xu Nian, she was suddenly met with a blur of colors rushing towards her. Catching it reflexively, she found herself holding Xu Nian, her black eyes widening in disbelief.

Xu Nian was adorned in a vibrant red embroidered cloth, a thin red veil draped over her head, embellished with gold and silver jewels. Around her not-so-prominent neck were several circles of glittering gemstone necklaces, and her delicate tail was tied with a beautiful bow, making her resemble a snake-version of Mu Yanyu.

Mu Yanyu, teasingly, asked Ji Yuebai, “What do you think? Doesn’t she look beautiful?”

Xu Nian, held in her hand, looked up with her round, expectant eyes.

Hearing this, Ji Yuebai held her up for a closer look and complimented, “Yes, Ah Nian, you look very beautiful.”

Xu Nian, delighted, swished her tail, causing the ribbon tied to it to flutter.

“It was Yanyu who did this. She’s so skillful with her hands. She has many more beautiful clothes, fabrics, and jewelry.”

Suddenly, Ji Yuebai felt a lightness in her hand as Xu Nian jumped down, ran to the mirror near Mu Yanyu, and started admiring her reflection, clearly pleased with her appearance.

Mu Yanyu, indulging her, adjusted a teardrop-shaped gemstone on her forehead. “You look wonderful. You can dress like this after you transform.”

Xu Nian nodded repeatedly, “I think it’s great, I’ll listen to you.”

Mu Yanyu, seeing that her tastes align with her own, becomes even more delighted. She pulls out another piece of expensive fabric and a box of jewelry, “Come on, let’s try this set next…”

Ji Yuebai stood still, a complex emotion swirling within her. In just a short time, Xu Nian’s way of addressing Mu Yanyu had shifted to ‘Yanyu’ and she spoke of transformation – a topic she had never mentioned to Ji Yuebai despite their long acquaintance.

Seeing Ji Yuebai motionless, Xu Nian approached, gently tugging at the hem of her clothes, her voice soft as if seeking approval, “Yuebai, will you join us? I want to wear beautiful clothes with you after I transform.”

Unexpectedly, her heart softened.

In a gentle, captivating voice, she replied, “Alright.”

Mu Yanyu was taken aback. She hadn’t expected Ji Yuebai, who appeared as an untouchable ice beauty, far removed from worldly matters, to stoop down and join them in what seemed like child’s play.

Was this to cheer up the little green snake?

Watching Ji Yuebai sit cross-legged on the carpet, just as they had done before, Mu Yanyu suddenly felt constrained, finding it hard to relax and lean casually as before. Ji Yuebai’s presence seemed to change the entire atmosphere.

Suddenly, Mu Yanyu’s mind was overwhelmed with painful memories from her childhood. Her father constantly compared her to other children, saying things like, “Look at the young lady from the Chen family next door, so dignified and virtuous,” or “The young lady from the Song family is knowledgeable and poetic, composing verses at just seven years old. And look at you, climbing walls like a monkey, even as you near marriageable age…”

Yes, Ji Yuebai brought back the fear she felt from those ‘other children.’

Even seated on the floor, Ji Yuebai exuded an indescribable air of nobility and elegance, making Mu Yanyu unconsciously tense up, instinctively keeping up appearances.

Mu Yanyu looked over at Xu Nian and sadly noticed that she still looked soft and boneless, collapsed in a pile of clothes.

Right, how could she expect a snake to maintain posture?

Xu Nian, however, was blissfully unaffected, reveling in the lavish attention from the red-dressed beauty and the white-robed fairy, living her peak snake life as if she were a pampered ruler.

Now, Xu Nian had switched to a snow-white dress. Although it was called a dress, it was actually a piece of fabric from Mu Yanyu’s box, cut according to Xu Nian’s form, with a matching colored belt tied around for fit.

Ji Yuebai took a pigeon-blood red gemstone from a box, simply placing it at Xu Nian’s forehead.

Mu Yanyu, observing for a while, couldn’t help but admire the other’s aesthetic: “Truly beautiful. That touch of red between your brows is like cinnabar, making you look like a celestial maiden under the Goddess Nuwa’s guidance.”

Flattered by the praise, Xu Nian floated on air, but she didn’t forget about Ji Yuebai, gently scratching her tail against Ji Yuebai’s palm.

Her voice carried a hint of playful persuasion, “I’ve never seen Yuebai wear anything other than white. I’d like to see Yuebai try different clothes for a change.”

Mu Yanyu, hearing this suggestion, felt a surge of excitement. The opportunity to dress up such a beautiful, life-sized “doll” was a rare treat indeed.

Ji Yuebai looked up to see both a human and a snake gazing at her with bright, hopeful eyes, brimming with anticipation.

With a sense of resignation, she nodded her head.

This thrilled both Xu Nian and Mu Yanyu immensely. Mu Yanyu was delighted to have found a beautiful model, while Xu Nian was overjoyed that the beautiful human-like doll she had been nurturing could finally be dressed up.

Mu Yanyu had prepared a special dressing room next to the chamber, its walls lined with insect-proof wazrdrobes filled with an array of seasonal dresses and accessories, all varying in style and mostly unworn.

Xu Nian was astonished at first sight of these. She dived into the pile of silken garments, soon overwhelmed by the choices. Her tail flicked from one outfit to another, “This one’s beautiful, I also want Yuebai to wear this…”

Mu Yanyu already had a few outfits in mind and went straight for them.

Ji Yuebai, her dark eyes scanning the array of clothes picked out and hung up for her to try, felt a rare hesitance. Her steps, unwavering even on life-or-death battlefields, involuntarily retreated at this moment.

But it was inevitable.

She was alternately dressed up by Xu Nian and Mu Yanyu, swapping her loose Daoist robe for a light, gauzy moon-colored gown. Her hair, usually simply pinned up with a wooden hairpin, was now styled into an elegant bun adorned with tasseled jade hairpins.

Xu Nian felt something was still missing. She dabbed a bit of lipstick with her tail from the dressing table and gently applied it to Ji Yuebai’s cherry-pink lips.

When Ji Yuebai finally stood up, fully adorned, both Xu Nian and Mu Yanyu gasped in astonishment.

Mu Yanyu circled around Ji Yuebai, marveling, “With your beauty, you could simply sit on a stage without doing anything, and still draw people who’d be willing to spend a fortune just to see you.”

Xu Nian, too, was looking her over from all angles. She had always found Ji Yuebai beautiful, but now, adorned like this, she was simply mesmerizing, impossible to take eyes off.

Then, Mu Yanyu sighed wistfully, “I wish we could have a painter capture this beauty. Sadly, even the most skilled artist might struggle to fully capture her essence.”

Indeed, if only they had something like a camera, Xu Nian thought, nodding in agreement.

Wait, a camera?

Xu Nian suddenly remembered something. She rummaged through her storage bag and eventually pulled out an object resembling a modern camera. This was a device she had found in Qi Shaochen’s storage bag, capable of capturing and recording images.

Mu Yanyu leaned in curiously, “What’s this?”

Xu Nian improvised a name, “This is called a ‘Memory Stone.’ With this, we can capture images.”

Mu Yanyu, intrigued, eagerly urged Xu Nian to use it. Consequently, Xu Nian began to direct Ji Yuebai in posing while instructing Mu Yanyu on how to adjust the angles, thoroughly enjoying the process.

Ji Yuebai was the only one standing there, feeling as if she had entered a world of suffering.

In the middle of the shoot, Xu Nian even showed Mu Yanyu a preview. Seeing the perfect beauty captured, Mu Yanyu became even more enthusiastic.

After a good while, Ji Yuebai couldn’t help but ask, somewhat helplessly, “Are we done yet?”

But she heard Mu Yanyu and Xu Nian simultaneously exclaim, “Wait a moment…”

Ji Yuebai suddenly felt that she shouldn’t have come.

Chapter Mini Extra:
             

Years later, Xu Nian’s “Memory Stone” was accidentally lost and picked up by a cultivator. He was instantly struck by the celestial beauty of the girl in the image. So, he submitted her picture to the “Catalogue of Beauties,” and she was honored as the top beauty in the cultivation world for hundreds of years. Countless male and female cultivators were captivated by her, dreaming of her, yet never knowing who she was.

Until one day, a Tian Yuan sect cultivator casually remarked, “This woman looks a bit like our Ji family’s Nascent Soul ancestor.”

“The God of Death? Ji Yuebai?”

The cultivators all shook their heads in shock and disbelief: “Impossible, this simply cannot be!”

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YuriLover159
YuriLover159
4 months ago

Love the snippet at the end. Thanks for the translation!

Shakthivel
Shakthivel
4 months ago

Thanks for the chapter

Eamm
Eamm
4 months ago

Spoilers at the end lol

MatrixM
MatrixM
2 months ago

The execution method was ‘Death by a thousand cuts’. A torture method where the killing blow is saved for last. it’s been out of use in modern day for about a century

iviachupichu
iviachupichu
2 months ago

Did not expect a love triangle in a novel about a cultivating snake. xD
Thank you for the translations!

Kat
Kat
1 month ago

I really hope Yanyu isn’t a love rival. I don’t want her to be hurt. :< she's so cute as well huhu

Hatimo
Hatimo
14 days ago

God of death?

flamewolf
flamewolf
6 days ago

1) world’s wildest love triangle, lowkey love it
2) I love how shamelessly opportunistic and materialistic Xu Nian is. You live your peak snake life!
3) Spoilers at the end! Also wasn’t the one she took the divine artifact from in that same sect? I wonder if Yuebai knows him, lol