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    Chapter 98: Inquiring About Illness, Part Two

    Three days prior, the story unfolds.

    During the Vernal Equinox Festival, all creatures in the world, including the demon race, were to pay tribute to Lady Jiaomiao, the Primordial Mother of All at the Jade Mountain Hall on Peng Lai Island, praying for the sun's nurturing warmth in the coming year and the flourishing of all life.

    Located in the far west, Lei Ze was situated at the heart of the land, atop a snow-capped mountain from where one could overlook the entire mortal realm. It bordered both the Realm of Ghosts and a small portion of Jiu Li. The Yu Yuan Divide separated the Realm of Ghosts from Jiu Li, ensuring that the living did not enter the land of the dead, and the wraiths did not invade the mortal world.

    Of all places in the human realm, the capital of Jiu Li was the most suitable for worshiping Lady Jiaomiao.

    During the month of the vernal equinox, the hustle and bustle of the mortal world converged in the capital of Jiu Li. Peng Lai Island, the immortal land, would open its barrier for a month, allowing students to leave the island.

    However, the barrier of Peng Lai Island was as good as non-existent in Shen Yuan's eyes.

    "Old turtle?" Shen Yuan called out.

    "..."

    "Old Turtle, you take me off this island, and I'll get you a taste of the rare 'Yizi Spring' in return," Shen Yuan muttered to himself, leaning over the edge of the well.

    "Implicitly..."

    Shen Yuan turned around, leaning against an inscription-less stone tablet by the well. The moon in the middle of the sky hung above his head. "Hiss, they all said to bring him wine, yet he still ignores me. Could it be that the old tortoise has changed its nature and no longer enjoys alcohol?"

    Interestingly, Shen Yuan's discovery of this well was peculiar and rather unusual.

    At the age of ten, he traveled to Penglai to study. Upon arrival, he was stricken with homesickness and illness, dozing for three consecutive months. When he finally awoke, he found himself on the shores of Ang Liu Bay, surrounded by a curious crowd.

    The crowd gestured at him, but as they saw him regain consciousness, they dispersed one by one.

    Shen Yuan was perplexed about how he ended up in Ang Liu. Peng Lai Island was situated amidst the East China Sea, at least hundreds of kilometers away from Ang Liu Bay.

    He got up and approached a passerby to inquire about the situation.

    The villager told him that he had been carried to Ang Liu Bay by a colossal turtle.

    It wasn't until Shen Yuan established contact with Peng Lai Island that he was eventually picked up and taken back.

    Upon returning to Penglai, he found the islanders all dressed in mourning clothes. Upon inquiry, he learned that Island Lord Wang's wife, Madam Wang, had suddenly awoken from her coma and gone mad, mistaking Shen Yuan for Wang Pan. In a fit of confusion, she had thrown herself into the well with him.

    Back then, Shen Yuan was naive and didn't ponder the connection between the old turtle and the well. Moreover, during the first one or two years, he had no desire to leave the island for leisure.

    Initially, the novelty of the island kept him occupied and he didn't feel bored. But after a few more years, he couldn't remain still. It was then that he remembered the old turtle in the well.

    He wondered if the old turtle's appearance was merely a coincidence?

    Choosing a dark and moonless midnight, Shen Yuan ventured to the well for a closer look.

    It turned out that the old turtle had always resided at the bottom of the Penglai well.

    Upon hearing this, Shen Yuan was highly satisfied, feeling an immense sense of joy in his heart.

    Since Madam Wang had thrown herself into the well with him, yet he emerged unscathed on Ang Liu Bay, carried by the old turtle, it indicated that the well connected Penglai to the outside world. From now on, he could frequently use this well to venture beyond Penglai for amusement.

    Rustling! A sound came from the bushes in the distance.

    Instantly, Shen Yuan became vigilant.

    Rustle! Rustle! The sound grew louder and louder.

    Afraid of being discovered, Shen Yuan immediately stood up and hid behind the stone monument.

    To his surprise, a "tweet" came from the bushes.

    Peering out, he saw — Xiu Qu?

    "Tweet!" Xiu Qu called out to him again.

    Sure enough, it was the chick!

    "You're a bird, you can't swim. Why are you following me?" Despite the words, Shen Yuan obediently stepped out from behind the stone, crouched down, and held out his hand, inviting it to perch on his shoulder.

    However, Xiu Qu bypassed his hand and hopped straight towards the well.

    "Ai!" Before Shen Yuan could react, there was a "splash," and Xiu Qu had jumped into the well.

    "Xiu Qu!" Without hesitation, Shen Yuan leaned over the edge.

    Suddenly, a tight grip on his throat was followed by a deep voice: "What brings you to this well in the dead of night?"

    Shen Yuan turned to see the man holding the collar of his shirt with one hand.

    His hair was grizzled, yet his face was youthful and handsome, with piercing eyes that could make one's heart tremble after only a brief glance.

    Why did I run into Wang Pan at this moment? Shen Yuan thought to himself that the timing couldn't be worse.

    "Wang Pan coldly repeated, "I asked you, why have you come to this well?"

    "I've come... to... to..." As the young lord of Penglai Island, Wang Pan had the power to punish him, so Shen Yuan hesitated, unwilling to speak.

    "What are you doing? Can't you speak?" Wang Pan pressed.

    Whispering, Shen Yuan replied, "The well has been dug for people to use... what else can it be used for?..."

    "The other two wells are functional, but not this one. Come with me to see the island lord."

    Despite being immune to pain, Shen Yuan still feared three things: Lord Wang's lightning, the Qingyuan Whip, and centipedes.

    Shen Yuan's hairs stood on end, and he decided to be reckless. "There are three wells on this island. Is this one haunted or some forbidden area? If someone died here, put up a monument. If it's a restricted site, then get someone to guard it properly. It's just an ordinary well, so why can't I come here? Do students not have rights?"

    Wang Pan fell silent for a moment before responding, "It is indeed ordinary."

    Then, lifting and pulling Shen Yuan's body, he corrected his posture. "Stand straight and don't fall in."

    "My bird fell in," Shen Yuan chuckled and leaped forward.

    Wang Pan was startled and instinctively tried to save him.

    When he opened his eyes, the sky was gray, indicating dawn was approaching.

    He could hear the wind and the sound of the sea.

    Wang Pan sat up abruptly, looking around, only to see Shen Yuan.

    Shen Yuan stood on the sand, waving towards the ocean as if bidding farewell to someone. "Old Turtle, don't forget to pick us up later!"

    Wang Pan breathed a sigh of relief.

    Shen Yuan approached Wang Pan, crouched down, and said, "Uh... I'm sorry, I know that well is special... but I, I was just too anxious back then, and I... spoke without thinking."

    It was said that Wang Pan had witnessed his birth mother throwing Shen Yuan into the well with his own eyes. Unable to stop it, he could only cry out in despair at the top of his lungs.

    Wang Pan was the same age as Shen Yuan and was only ten years old when he experienced that tragedy. The psychological trauma left by witnessing his loved one's death would never fade, and now Shen Yuan had just added another wound to that shadow.

    "Shen Yuan, for daring to leave the island without permission, you'll come back to Penglai with me to receive your punishment."

    Just as Shen Yuan was feeling a pang of sorrow for Wang Pan's past, he found himself suddenly bound by a Spirit Binding Rope.

    "No, no, I came out to look for my bird," Shen Yuan twisted his wrist, but failing to break free, he only succeeded in turning it red. He panicked and exclaimed, "My bird is missing! Really!"

    "Xiu Qu is a San Qing Bird, very spiritual. It can't be lost."

    "Spirituality aside, it's plump! It can't fly far. What if it falls into the sea?"

    Wang Pan envisioned Xiu Qu's appearance and nodded. "True enough."

    "See?" Sensing his uncertainty, Shen Yuan seized the opportunity to add, "The Island Lord said one should be true to their word, right?"

    "Yes."

    "Well, I promised the old turtle to bring wine. If I break my word, wouldn't that contradict what the Island Lord said?"

    Wang Pan furrowed his brow, hesitated for a moment before answering, "…Yes."

    "It's wrong of me to leave the island without permission, but if you encouraged me to go back on my word, aren't you also partly responsible?"

    Realizing that Shen Yuan was setting a trap, Wang Pan silently stepped back, remaining silent.

    Shen Yuan caught up and nudged his arm, persisting with his question, "Is that not so?"

    Wang Pan glanced at Shen Yuan and said, "Yes."

    A fool, so easy to deceive!

    ?

    Shen Yuan chuckled inwardly.

    "Then hurry up and untie the spirit-binding rope. I'll buy the wine on Ang Liu Street and come back with you."

    "No way," Wang Pan rejected promptly.

    "Why not!?" Shen Yuan exclaimed in surprise.

    "Wandering off the island without permission is one thing; buying wine for the old turtle is another. You can still do it with your hands tied."

    "Ugh—" Shen Yuan plopped down on the ground and kicked his legs wildly.

    This move caught Wang Pan off guard, sending sand flying all over him. He hurriedly distanced himself, "What are you doing? How can a grown man behave like this? It's utterly disgraceful!"

    "You're treating me like a prisoner. Walking around like this would ruin my image. I am Prince Jiu Li, you know! You should just go buy it yourself—"

    "I... I didn't bring any money."

    "I have some right here in my pocket. Just take the money and buy it yourself. I'll wait here, enjoying the sea breeze until you return."

    The waves surged relentlessly, crashing against the rocks, splashing water in all directions.

    At dawn, the surroundings remained shrouded in a grayish-white haze.

    "I..." Wang Pan gazed at Shen Yuan's chest where the money pouch bulged, causing his cheeks to flush slightly. In the dim light, he clenched his fists and reluctantly said, "I don't know how to shop..."

    "What?!"

    Could it be that there was actually someone who didn't know how to shop? !

    Upon reflection, Wang Pan had never left the island before and hadn't seen the world's colorful aspects. It was understandable.

    Shen Yuan's interest piqued once more, and he abruptly stood up. "Then quickly untie me so I can teach you. With your intelligence, you'll definitely learn it in one lesson. Once you master this, you'll benefit greatly in the future."

    "No need," Wang Pan remained steadfast.

    It was like talking to a cow about playing the lute.

    "Throw him here. When the tide comes in, just let it take him away." Muffled voices echoed amidst the chaos.

    Wang Pan reacted swiftly, grabbing Shen Yuan and hiding behind a rock.

    "We haven't done anything wrong, why are we hiding?" Shen Yuan said as he peered out, looking into the gloom.

    Three or four dark silhouettes lingered along the coastline, intently observing the chaos. Among them, something was concealed.

    Shen Yuan frowned and continued to scrutinize. Suddenly, that mysterious form wriggled.

    He raised an eyebrow, understanding dawning on him. He then turned to Wang Pan and said, "Those are the ones who should be hiding. Watch closely."

    "What are you planning to do? There have always been countless disputes in the mortal world. How can you possibly manage them all?" Wang Pan whispered, wary of being overheard.

    "Who said I'm going to intervene?" Shen Yuan replied with a hint of a smile, "I just have a tickle in my throat." He then coughed loudly.

    "Cough! Cough!"

    Startled, the group dropped what they were holding and fled without a trace.

    The tide rose and receded, causing the fishing boat to rock with the waves.

    With a determined grit of his teeth, Shen Yuan dragged the object onto the boat.

    "Sigh, I'm exhausted—" He sprawled out, drenched from head to toe, lying on his back in the boat and breathing deeply.

    Opposite him, Wang Pan stood hands behind his back on the bow of the boat, looking clean and relaxed.

    "Could you, Brother, be so kind as to untie this sack with your noble hands?" Shen Yuan said to Wang Pan, who was standing at the prow, "My hands are still bound."

    Wang Pan turned around, lifted his hem, squatted down, and extended his slender, well-defined fingers to undo the knots of the sack.

    Breathless, Shen Yuan asked, "What's inside? It feels so heavy."

    The fishing boat swayed with the ocean waves, but Wang Pan didn't respond.

    With a smile, Shen Yuan speculated wildly, "Not a sack full of chestnuts, I hope?"

    Wang Pan replied, "It's a person—"

    --------------------

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