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    Chapter 115: My Master is Married

    "Let's go, let's go," Mo Ran agreed, then suddenly looked worried. "Master, I've killed so many Yin soldiers. The Netherworld might declare war on us."

    "Calm down," Chu Wanning said. "That move doesn't disperse their souls. Their spirits were merely shattered; they'll gather themselves together again in a few days."

    Hearing this, Mo Ran looked more closely and indeed saw fragments of soul light flickering amidst the smoldering ashes, like fireflies. Before he could observe more, Chu Wanning pulled him aside. "Run."

    Beyond the ruins, a more enraged group of soldiers was charging. Chu Wanning and Mo Ran raced across the green-tiled roofs. As they ran, Mo Ran asked, "Master, since they won't die, we won't have offended the Netherworld. Why didn't you let me use more spiritual energy to drive them all away?"

    Chu Wanning replied coldly, "Try that move again."

    Although Mo Ran didn't know why his master wanted him to do this, he still gave it a shot. This time, however, only a small burst of fireworks came out. The ghost seemed exhausted; there was none of the grandeur from before when it had swallowed the sun, moon, and mountains.

    "The more spiritual energy you pour in, the longer the recovery time needed," Chu Wanning explained. "Excess can be detrimental. Remember that?"

    "I remember."

    Pausing, Mo Ran continued.

    "Master. I just remembered something. Can you guess what it is?"

    "What?"

    "I recalled how you taught me to wield the vine whip in the Peach Blossom Illusory Realm. Back then, you were incredibly short." Mo Ran grinned, gesturing with his hands, "You didn't even reach my waist."

    Upon hearing this, Chu Wanning stumbled abruptly.

    "Watch out!"

    "Get lost." If he were still alive, Chu Wanning's ears would have turned red. Frustrated and embarrassed, he snapped, "That's all you're good for, comparing heights with Xia Sini? Why don't you compare with me?"

    Mo Ran chuckled. He didn't want to compare anymore. Although he had grown taller and was no longer obviously shorter than his master as he was in Cai Die Town, they were now roughly the same height.

    With his peripheral vision, he glanced at his master, secretly taking note of this. He vowed to himself that once his body fully matured in a few years, he would pull Chu Wanning aside for another comparison.

    While the God of Annihilation plotted quietly, Yu Heng's feelings were conflicted.

    Although he had mostly guessed that Mo Ran already knew about his true identity as Xia Sini, actually hearing him say it made him feel deeply humiliated, as if there was nowhere for his face to hide.

    After all... he had once called Mo Ran "Senior Apprentice Brother" with an unguarded voice.

    The more he thought about it, the more awkward and indignant he felt. Chu Wanning ran even faster, leaving Mo Ran behind.

    Mo Ran, understanding his thoughts, wasn't in a hurry to catch up. He maintained a half-step distance, closely following him. They dashed through the howling night wind, watching the man who was so close, his red clothes clashing with the blood on his body like a fallen maple leaf amidst rosy clouds. The golden butterflies embroidered on his robe seemed alive, shimmering even brighter as the fabric swayed.

    A bittersweet sense of fulfillment suddenly rose within him.

    In this moment, he was grateful. He could still see Chu Wanning, still receive his mentor's teachings as before.

    In a few more years, if everything went well, he would be able to lower his head slightly, smile warmly, and tease Chu Wanning, "Let's compare heights, disciple. You stay still, and I'll stand on tiptoe."

    His heart was warm and overflowing with gratitude. Heaven had truly been generous to him.

    Not everyone who made mistakes was given a chance to start anew, nor did everyone who suffered pain find the capacity to forgive.

    His master had a cold exterior but a warm heart – he had taken far too long to realize it.

    After dispersing two more waves of pursuers, they were just steps away from the entrance of the palace.

    Glancing behind, the soldiers were left far behind, unable to catch up. Mo Ran let out a small sigh of relief, but before he could fully relax, a startling thunderclap split the air.

    Amidst the lightning and fire, a colossal palanquin emerged. Eight muscular bearers knelt beneath it, supporting its weight with ease. Lying on top was a slightly plump man, dressed in a white fur robe with his long hair loose, exuding an air of indolence. He was accompanied by two beauties, one massaging his shoulders and the other feeding him cherries.

    Despite being a spirit, this man had attained a corporeal form and thus consumed the fruit as a living person would, not just savoring its taste ethereally.

    He licked his lips, gently pinching the chin of the beauty, giving her a lingering kiss before lifting his gaze to look at Chu Wanning and Mo Ran with a mocking smile.

    "How unfortunate. The treasure I've set my eyes on is being pursued by someone so ungracious."

    He spoke leisurely, asking,

    "Little Immortal Lord, who has given you such audacity?"

    Chu Wanning's face turned ashen, his expression utterly grim.

    In front of Mo Ran, he had just been called "treasure" by such an oily, licentious ghost... If his powers still remained, he would have likely already reduced this rogue to dust with his sword, Tianwen.

    Mo Ran's expression was similarly dark, but aware of his current limitations, he knew he wasn't yet strong enough to protect Chu Wanning while engaging the Ghost King in battle. Thus, he resorted to words.

    Advancing a step, he clasped his fists and said, "Your Highness, I apologize for destroying so many of your palace roofs, but I must take this person with me."

    "Oh, you can just take him away like that?" the Fourth Ghost King chuckled. "Take a look at what he's wearing. Let me enlighten you — that is called a marriage robe for the Netherworld, or in other words, our ghost realm's wedding attire. He's put on my wedding robe, which means he's now under my command. He won't be able to step out of the palace gates, so try it if you don't believe me."

    Pausing, he added, "If you insist on taking him out by force, your spirit might be shattered by the spiritual energy on this bridal gown right at the palace entrance. Think carefully before you act."

    Only then did Mo Ran understand why Rong Jiu had mentioned that everyone in the main hall was bound except for Chu Wanning. It turned out that the red robe he was wearing...

    Balling his fingers into a fist, Mo Ran said, "I want to take him away, but I won't let Your Highness suffer any loss. Whatever you desire, I'll do my best to provide."

    "The only thing I want is a beauty. Lately, I've grown tired of gentle and obedient ones. I particularly enjoy those cold and distant types like the one beside you — they're far more interesting."

    "..."

    Seeing the expressions on Mo Ran and Chu Wanning's faces, the Fourth Ghost King found it amusing. He sat up slowly and said, "But to be honest, in all these years in the Netherworld, this is the first time I've seen someone barge into my palace and wreak havoc. It's rather intriguing. May I ask, who are you to him?"

    Mo Ran replied, "He's my master."

    "Just a master, huh?" The ghost king shrugged and smiled. "I thought there was some life-or-death bond between you two."

    Mo Ran replied, "…He doesn't like you. What's the point of forcing him to stay?"

    The Ghost King waved his hand indolently. "Naive. Whether he likes me or not isn't that important. I fancy his flesh, not his heart."

    "…"

    "Besides," the Ghost King chuckled, "even if he doesn't like me, does he like you? If he were your lawful spouse, I would lose all interest. Although I love beautiful people, I have no affection for those who have already shared the nuptial cup. Too bad, he's just your master."

    Upon hearing this, Mo Ran was initially taken aback but then suddenly smiled.

    "Duke, are you serious?"

    "As the ruler of the Fourth Level of the Netherworld, why would I lie to a little ghost like you?"

    "One more question, then. If my master were already betrothed and wore your wedding attire, would it still work?"

    "Of course not. I've never enjoyed playing with other people's husbands or wives." The Fourth Ghost King frowned. "But why do you ask? Has your master gotten married?"

    Chu Wanning, being a modest person, answered, "No, he hasn't."

    Mo Ran shamelessly said, "It's settled then."

    The Four Ghost Kings: "…."

    Before Chu Wanning could say anything more, Mo Ran suddenly grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the main entrance. As they walked, he turned back to the Four Ghost Kings and said, "Your Highness, ignore him. My master has a poor memory. Didn't you just say that if he gets married, this auspicious robe won't work? Let's not waste words; I'll take him out myself. If we manage to leave safely, please let us go unharmed. If I'm lying, then our fate is our own responsibility."

    Chu Wanning said, "Mo Ran – have you lost your mind? Back in Butterfly Town, it was all just a pretense; it doesn't count at all—"

    "How can it not count?" Mo Ran declared resolutely, quite certain of himself. "We drank the wine, we bowed to the heavens and earth. How can it not count?"

    "Mo Ran...!"

    The Ghost King had spent centuries in the Underworld, and it had long grown tedious. The sudden dispute caught his interest, and he chuckled as he sat down with his chin propped on his hand, watching eagerly. He patted the beauty beside him on her thigh, asking her to feed him another fruit preserve as he munched and said, "Sure, go ahead. If you make it out unscathed, I won't stop you. But if you die, it'll be your own fault."

    Mo Ran replied, "Thank you."

    A barrier shimmering with a faint purple glow covered the main entrance of the palace. It was clearly meant to trap wandering spirits. The closer Chu Wanning got to the barrier, the more reluctant he became. How could that half-hearted ghost marriage possibly count...

    But at that moment, Mo Ran drew near to him and whispered, "Don't worry, Master. Our marriage contract will definitely work."

    "How could it possibly work?!"

    "Trust me on this once. I have a plan," he said, entwining his fingers with Chu Wanning's, feeling a sheen of sweat in his palm.

    "Should the worst happen, I'll be by your side, Master."

    Chu Wanning's entire body trembled. He widened his phoenix eyes, staring at Mo Ran in disbelief as if he had never truly seen this person before.

    Mo Ran smiled at him, his dimples showing. "I owe you so much, Master. This time, I won't leave you alone."

    "..." Chu Wanning fell silent for a long while before whispering, "There's no need."

    "And what about you, Master? Isn't there also no need?"

    Chu Wanning lowered his eyelashes and let out a soft sigh. In the end, he stopped resisting. The two of them stood hand in hand at the entrance of the barrier, with the lurking demons and spirits behind them, idly watching the spectacle.

    "Shall we go?"

    "Yes."

    It was unclear who had clasped whose hand first, both gripping with such intensity that cold intertwined with heat, dampness enfolded dryness, and pallid skin pressed against tawny.

    Celestial flames raged, while thunderbolts roared.

    The barrier seemed like an immense torrent and waterfall. They stepped in almost simultaneously, and the lightning bolts descended with the speed of a flash, their power overwhelming, as if they would shatter these two audacious souls who dared to cross the threshold of life and death, tearing them apart, reducing them to ashes.

    The thunderbolt's explosive brilliance illuminated everything with a blinding white light.

    As it was about to strike the pair, Mo Ran had been thinking up until this point that he must respect and adore his master from now on, no longer defying him or harboring impure thoughts that would sully his master's reputation.

    But in this moment of uncertain fate, he abruptly turned his head, suddenly desiring to see Chu Wanning's face one last time.

    He discovered that, amidst the turbulent downpour created by the barrier, Chu Wanning was also gazing at him.

    Those phoenix eyes had once held sharpness, determination, sorrow, disdain, and endurance... but now, they seemed to radiate a tranquility akin to the calm before the end of all things.

    And perhaps, it was just his imagination, but there was also...

    Deep affection.

    Mo Ran had never seen such a look in Chu Wanning's eyes before. His mind was thunderstruck, feeling as if the city walls and towers were collapsing around him. A passionate love suddenly surged from within his chest, piercing through the solid, gray-black rock. He didn't have time to ponder what exactly this emotion was; he only knew that his heart was burning, his blood boiling.

    Amidst the thunder and lightning, he instinctively reached out and embraced Chu Wanning tightly.

    Their racing hearts collided with trembling souls.

    Chests met chests.

    Before descending into the Underworld, he had never actually imagined dying alongside Chu Wanning. He had always believed that the person he loved was Shi Mo, and if he were to share life and death with anyone, it would be with Shi Mo.

    But when death truly loomed,

    he held Chu Wanning without hesitation, as if he wanted to merge their flesh and blood, to conceal the other's soul within his own.

    Chu Wanning.

    I'll be with you.

    I...

    "Ahh, who would have thought they were such a doomed pair." A teasing voice suddenly sounded in their ears. "I, the king, have actually caught the wrong ghost? This immortal lord, it seems, is already married and has undergone the wedding ceremony?"

    Mo Ran abruptly opened his eyes.

    The lightning that should have torn them apart had somehow transformed into thousands upon thousands of dandelions, dancing gently around them like swirling snowflakes.

    The Four Ghost Kings stood up with smiles on their faces, stopping not far from the palace gate. They leisurely clapped their hands. "Bored for centuries, but today I've witnessed an entertaining show."

    Chu Wanning: "…"

    Before Mo Ran could fully regain his senses, still feeling dizzy, he glanced at the Four Ghost Kings and then turned to look at the person in his arms. Realizing how inappropriate it was to hold his Master like this, he hastily withdrew his arms. Chu Wanning also came back to reality, turning his face away, his expression indiscernible.

    After a moment, he composed himself, straightening his clothes and standing silently beside Mo Ran.

    To break the awkward silence, Mo Ran looked up at the Four Ghost Kings and asked, "Well, did I deceive Your Highness?"

    "No, not at all."

    The Four Ghost Kings shook their heads with a smile that wasn't quite a smile.

    Day after day, how long had it been since he'd seen such revelry? Fine then, he would let them go just for the entertaining spectacle they'd provided. With so many beauties at his disposal, he wasn't lacking for a married soul.

    Mo Ran's heart immediately lightened. He thought to himself: This Fourth King is much more straightforward than that Ninth King Chu Xun encountered before. Though he's a lecherous demon, at least he keeps his word and behaves like an imperial prince.

    With this thought in mind, he tugged on Chu Wanning, ready to leave.

    Unexpectedly, at that moment, the clouds in the sky dispersed, and moonlight illuminated Mo Ran, casting a dark shadow without anyone noticing.

    At first, the Fourth King didn't react, still smiling with pleasure at the lively scene. Turning to the beauty beside him, he motioned for her to feed him another grape.

    The beauty peeled back the deep purple skin of the fruit, offering its succulent flesh to the Fourth King's lips. Just as he was about to open his mouth, he sensed something amiss and abruptly spun around, barking, "Stop!"

    His eyes fixated on the shadow on the ground, slowly rising until they met Mo Ran's face.

    "... Look there, what is that on the ground?"

    Mo Ran lowered his gaze, suddenly realizing that there was still a faint, indistinct shadow beneath his feet!

    The Fourth King's playful demeanor vanished. His narrow eyes narrowed further, glowing with the predatory gleam of a vulture about to strike.

    "How can a mortal being with flesh and blood like you descend into the depths of hell?"

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