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    Chapter 133: Master Is the Most Ascetic Person

    Mo Ran was sipping on his pear blossom white wine when he suddenly felt something brush against his leg. Instinctively, he wanted to move away, but before he could, the touch became even more distinct, almost grazing against him.

    He was slightly taken aback and momentarily unsure of what had just happened. It wasn't until Shi Mo straightened up that he noticed the faint blush on that peerlessly beautiful face and the downward gaze with pursed lips, as if he were lost in thought. Only then did Mo Ran abruptly realize—

    What was that just now...?

    "Cough! Cough! Cough!!" Mo Ran suddenly choked on his drink.

    In his mind, Shi Mo had always been like the fresh snow of early spring or the new crescent moon on a willow branch—something to admire from afar, not to be trifled with. Though he loved Shi Mo so deeply that he would die for him, he rarely indulged in any amorous fantasies involving his master, let alone acted upon them.

    But this pure and flawless person—could it be that just now, he was... touching him?

    This thought startled Mo Ran, and he shook his head vigorously, as if to dispel it. Chu Wanning noticed and frowned. "What's wrong?"

    "Nothing!"

    He still dared to touch him in front of Master! ... How could that be possible?

    This... This doesn't seem like something Shi Mo would do...

    Mo Ran's expression became even more complicated, it was more shock than surprise.

    After a long while, he heard Shi Mo speak in a gentle tone, "The chopsticks are dirty. Waiter, please get us a new pair."

    The waiter promptly came and went. With a heavy heart, Mo Ran turned to look at Shi Mo's serene face. The man's gaze remained calm and his demeanor gentle, as if the flush and bashfulness that Mo Ran had seen just now were all illusions. Sensing someone's gaze on him, Shi Mo lifted his peach blossom eyes slightly, wearing an elusive smile as he looked at Mo Ran.

    "What's wrong?"

    "Nothing, nothing."

    Shi Mo said, "The chopsticks fell at an inconvenient spot, right beside your feet."

    "Oh..." Mo Ran heaved a sigh of relief, his heart easing up. It turned out that he had overthought it. Just as he was about to say something to ease the tension with Shi Mo, he noticed that Shi Mo had already turned away and stood up to fetch a ladle for the soup.

    Feeling guilty about his previous thoughts, Mo Ran offered, "Let me help you with that."

    "No need, I can manage myself."

    Saying this, he rolled up his sleeves and calmly served himself some seafood soup.

    The soup had been placed by Mo Ran, positioned closer to Chu Wanning than to Shi Mo. Seated, the distance hadn't mattered much, but now that he was standing to ladle the soup, it was quite noticeable. He practically had to stretch his arm fully to reach the soup from the other end of the table.

    One spoonful, two spoonfuls, done with deliberate slowness.

    Mo Ran: "…."

    Shi Mo met his uneasy gaze without speaking, only offering a small smile before lowering his eyes to continue serving himself soup.

    Feeling somewhat awkward, Mo Ran waited for Shi Mo to finish before asking Chu Wanning if he wanted any. When Chu Wanning declined, Mo Ran moved the soup to the center of the table, neither too close nor too far from either of them, just right.

    His revered master and the person he cherished most.

    They should never be favored unequally.

    During the meal, Shi Mo suddenly spoke up, "Ran, you've really matured a lot. You're no longer the disciple who used to anger your master. So there's something I want to talk to you about today, while we're all here together. And I also want to apologize to Master."

    Seeing how serious Shi Mo was, Mo Ran couldn't help but focus. "What is it?"

    "Do you remember the first time I delivered those wontons to you?" Shi Mo asked. "I didn't make them myself. I've never been skilled in making dumplings; they were actually..."

    Mo Ran chuckled. "I thought it was something else. Turns out it's this. I already knew a long time ago."

    "Oh, you already...?" Shi Mo was slightly surprised, his beautiful eyes widening as he turned to look at Chu Wanning, who was sipping his fine wine. "Did Master tell you?"

    "No, I saw it before we went to the Realm of Ghosts," Mo Ran began to elaborate, but then Chu Wanning set down his cup and coughed softly, shooting him a stern glance.

    Knowing that Chu Wanning was sensitive, Mo Ran didn't want others to know about his vulnerable side. So, he said to Shi Mo, "Anyway, I understood the whole story five years ago. It would take too long to explain, so let's not dwell on it."

    Shi Mo nodded. "That's good too." Then, addressing Chu Wanning, he continued, "Master, when you refused to bring the wontons to Ran yourself and had me deliver them, I didn't think much of it at first. But as your misunderstanding grew deeper, I felt terrible. I wanted to explain to Ran at some point, but I always found myself unable to speak up... Actually, I had my own selfish motives back then. Besides being the young lord, Ran was my only close friend on the Summit of Life and Death. I was afraid he might feel upset if he found out, so..."

    "It doesn't matter; I was the one who stopped you from speaking. You have no fault."

    "But I still can't shake off the guilt for taking credit for Master's intentions. Master, I'm sorry to you." Shi Mo lowered his eyelids and, after a moment, asked, "Ran, I'm sorry to you too."

    Mo Ran had never blamed Shi Mo for this. Although Shi Mo's initial kindness was indirectly triggered by Chu Wanning's wontons, his subsequent warmth had been genuine. Moreover, Shi Mo had merely followed Chu Wanning's request and had no intention of stealing credit.

    Mo Ran hurriedly reassured, "No, no, don't worry about it. That was such a long time ago..."

    Gazing at Shi Mo under the lamplight, Mo Ran saw a face he had never encountered in his previous life. For back then, Shi Mo had already perished at this time, his youth withered before its prime, fading away like fallen petals in the wind, leaving behind an eternal pain in Mo Ran's heart.

    He had never had the chance to discover that Shi Mo, at the age of twenty-four, would look like this.

    Tall and slender, with a porcelain-white face and almond-shaped eyes brimming with tenderness, he seemed so gentle that even his anger might be soft.

    Mo Ran's tightly clenched heart slowly relaxed. He sighed inwardly, suddenly feeling very happy and warm, a sense of security settling within him.

    Although he felt that this twenty-four-year-old Shi Mo was somewhat unfamiliar compared to the nineteen-year-old version, not as intimate and close as before, perhaps it was precisely this unfamiliarity that had led him to imagine Shi Mo reaching out to touch his calf – an utterly absurd notion. But Mo Ran believed that with time, he would gradually grow accustomed to it... As for matters of the heart, he no longer wished to force anything; he would let nature take its course.

    After wandering for five years, leaving no trace behind, he had faced several perilous situations. He wondered if they were orchestrated by the fake Gou Chen, but regardless, the mastermind remained hidden, untouched. Mo Ran sensed that the days ahead would not be peaceful, and he could not afford to be complacent.

    For these two people by his side, he would protect them with his life, ensuring their safety for all eternity.

    Though Mo Ran momentarily laid his demons to rest, little did he know that they were never idle. Having spared him, they now latched onto another person.

    Perhaps due to overeating that evening, Chu Wanning soon grew drowsy upon returning home. He had intended to sketch new mecha designs through the night, but halfway through, he couldn't help but yawn. After struggling for a while, he finally succumbed to sleepiness, blinking wearily. Without changing out of his clothes, he collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep.

    In his dreams, he wandered through a hazy, chaotic landscape.

    It began with that "Leading Heroes of the cultivation world by their proportions," and then continued with the robust and powerful figure he had seen in the Wonderful Sound Pond.

    In the dim candlelight, Chu Wanning's brows knitted slightly as if he wished to escape from this shameless dream, but his body seemed to have a will of its own, sinking deeper into it...

    Then, he had the same dream again.

    The transformed Peak of Life and Death, the Heart-Dedication Palace with its changed inhabitants.

    Mo Weiyu, now fully mature, held his chin, his gaze malicious and mocking as he spewed filthy words at him.

    He said, "Let me have my way with you once, and I'll agree to your terms."

    This Mo Weiyu was different from the Mo Ran he knew; his expression was too frenzied, his handsome face unnaturally pale, and his skin not the bronzed color Chu Wanning was familiar with.

    "Kneel down yourself... and lick me properly..."

    Disjointed sentences drifted up from the depths of the nightmare, like something within his skull was about to shatter, break free from its constraints, and pounce upon Chu Wanning.

    He felt a chill run down his spine, yet there was an inexplicable excitement tormenting him.

    In his dream, he saw Mo Ran approaching him, tearing at his clothes. The sound of the fabric ripping had never been so clear. Then, abruptly, the dream plunged into darkness, like sinking into quicksand.

    As in countless previous instances, the dream ended there.

    In the past, after such a dream, he would sleep peacefully through the night without any further disturbances. But for some reason, this time, after the dream ended, a faint light slowly illuminated before his eyes.

    Chu Wanning tried to discern what was before him, but the new dream was hazy, as if veiled by mist. He couldn't make out his surroundings, only sensing a vague, deep crimson.

    Though he couldn't see clearly, his sense of smell and touch became increasingly acute, even heightened, as the dream unfolded. Suddenly, he felt an indescribable passion and heat. He saw a muscular body swaying before him, pressing down upon him. Startled, Chu Wanning instinctively struggled, but his body seemed to belong to his dream self, not his own.

    He trembled uncontrollably, hearing the man's heavy breathing, hot air puffing against his ear, and his lips brushing against his earrings but never sealing their kiss.

    He turned his head to find himself lying on a soft, large bed that creaked with their movements. He could even detect the wild, musky scent of beast fur, suggesting that the bedding was covered in pelts. Struggling to grab hold of the blanket, he found himself lacking the strength.

    That man was so fierce, so relentless, as if he sought to tear Chu Wanning's body apart. He heard his own moans escape, hoarse and muddled.

    Desperately shaking his head, he tried to break free, but the man's strength was immense, as if he could crush Chu Wanning to dust in his palm. Chu Wanning's scalp tingled, his entire body convulsing violently...

    Perhaps the dream had been too vivid, too exhausting. The next day, Chu Wanning didn't awaken until midday. Lying in bed, he took a long while to regain his composure. Tilting his head, he seemed to still catch a whiff of the beast fur from his dream, its wild, bittersweet scent lingering.

    Yet, upon blinking, he found himself still lying on the cold and dark zitan bed in the Red Lotus Water Pavilion, safe and sound with nothing out of the ordinary.

    Except...

    Chu Wanning's body froze as he slowly lowered his gaze to look downward.

    "..."

    Due to his cultivation method, Elder Yu Heng, who had abstained from physical desires for many years and rarely experienced bodily reactions, now found himself shamefully... erect... in the morning...

    Had all those years of ascetic practice been wasted?!

    And those dreams from last night—what were they? How could he have dreamed of such chaotic scenes? How... how could this be?

    Could it really be just because he had seen Mo Ran's body at the Wonderful Sound Pond and accidentally read that "impressive" dirty book?

    Chu Wanning's face darkened. Buried in his palms, he scrubbed his cheeks fiercely. When he lifted his head again, it was still ashen.

    ...

    What was wrong with him?

    He pressed his lips together, considering a dip in the Cold Spring Lotus Pond to cool his heated heart. But before his toe even touched the ground, he sensed a fluctuation in the barrier of the Red Lotus Water Pavilion.

    Someone had entered.

    Chu Wanning's face paled instantly. He hastily pulled the blanket to cover himself as footsteps approached swiftly, suggesting the person had likely used light footwork to arrive. He heard two gentle knocks on the door.

    "Shifu, are you awake?"

    The voice was identical to the man in his dream. However, in his dream, the voice was deeper and more sultry, saturated with boundless passion and eagerness.

    But the voice outside the door was calm, respectful, and even held a hint of concern. It was likely that the person was worried since Chu Wanning had yet to wake up despite it being so late.

    Lying against the bed with his arms wrapped around the quilt, Chu Wanning listened to the voice. The barrier between his dream and reality seemed to crumble, and every intimate moment, every fierce collision from the dream was illuminated by the voice outside the door. His emotions swelled, and his heart became restless.

    Just as he was about to pretend to be asleep, he heard Mo Ran say from outside, "Shifu, are you in there? If it's convenient, I'll come in."

    I'll come in...

    It was an ordinary and simple sentence, but it suddenly made Chu Wanning vividly recall the man in his dream lying on top of him, his lips moving, exuding masculine heat that seemed to scorch him.

    The man panted, "Relax, I'm coming in."

    Chu Wanning's face flushed red, and he sat motionless on the bed, his clothes disheveled, flames of desire burning within him. His eyes held a fierce and resentful glint, but that ferocity and resentment were like pebbles on a shallow beach. In the cold of winter, they could be harsh and pointed, making others dare not meet his gaze directly. But when spring waters began to thaw, and tides rushed fiercely, those sharp edges would be submerged beneath the gentle, shimmering waves, leaving no trace of their former hostility.

    Rarely had Chu Wanning been so embarrassed and helpless, and almost never had he experienced such intense longing.

    He remained frozen in place until Mo Ran pushed the door open. Only then did he snap back to reality, trying to pretend he was asleep, but it was too late.

    So as Mo Ran entered, he saw Chu Wanning sitting on the bed, his inky black hair spread across his body, accentuating the glow of his face in the sunlight. The man's brows and eyes were sharp, his gaze rising to meet Mo Ran's like a frosty blade unsheathed, revealing a few inches of chilling light.

    Yet, the corners of his eyes were tinged with a delicate red, turning that chill into a sultry allure. The fierceness was entwined with humiliation, as if someone had just tormented him, subjected him to unspeakable acts. His eyes held a stubborn spirit and a moist sheen.

    Mo Ran gazed at him silently. This man was like a delicate blossom emerging from a thicket, causing him to involuntarily slow his breath. He felt as if a massive boulder had fallen into his chest, stirring up towering waves...

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