Shi Luoyi recognized Jiang Yan.

However, the gentle, smiling Jiang Yan before her was completely different from the one in her memory.

There had been a conflict between her and Jiang Yan. About thirty years ago, Shi Huan celebrated his two thousandth birthday at Buye Mountain.

During the birthday celebration of Daojun, the great powers of the martial world came to congratulate, except for the Chuanyun Sect, whose representative was the young sect master Jiang Yan.

Although Shi Luoyi already had the appearance of a young lady then, she wasn't yet of age. Jiang Yan wasn't very old either. Jiang Yan, as a young man himself, appeared refined and mature, with a gentle and courteous demeanor.

There were no children of Shi Luoyi's age at Buye Immortal Mountain. And Wei Changyuan was always practicing swords at Mingyou Mountain, so Shi Luoyi couldn't find any playmates. Jiang Yan was handsome, gentle, and polite. He had a witty way of speaking and had acquired broad knowledge and experience from his time studying at Penglai and traveling with his senior brother.

He told stories to Shi Luoyi, made paper kites with her, and even took her secretly down the mountain to see the lantern festival in the mortal realm.

Her father had protected her too well, and Shi Luoyi was delighted to have her first good friend besides Huixiang.

Later, Jiang Yan said he would bring her somewhere fun. His face still held that gentle smile but he suddenly shoved Shi Luoyi down the Abyss of Ten Thousand Demons.

That memory was one of the most terrifying memories of Shi Luoyi's childhood.

After falling into the abyss, she fled for her life, summoning her Shen Yan sword and fought hard to survive. She encountered many terrifying monsters. Some wanted to devour her flesh while others coveted her soul. Although she kept fighting, she was young with low cultivation. In the end, a foul, foul-smelling demonic flower swallowed Shi Luoyi.

Shi Luoyi was trapped in the flower petals, her limbs bound by the flower threads, and its poison seeped through her body. She couldn't move, and before long, she would become nourishment for the demon flower.

Her father, Taoist Shi Huan, leapt alone into the Abyss of Ten Thousand Demons. He single-handedly killed thousands of demons until finding his young daughter and bringing her back home.

It took Shi Luoyi a long time to recover from her injuries.

Later, Shi Huan asked her, "The Chuanyun Sect sent Jiang Yan to apologize. Do you want to see him?"

Of course, she wanted to go. She really wanted to know why her good friend who had treated her so well pushed her down the Abyss without hesitation.

Shi Luoyi saw Jiang Yan kneeling in the great hall.

The young man was covered in bloodstains, his clothes tattered, not a single good piece of flesh intact. Evidently, the Chuanyun Sect, fearing to anger Daojun Shi Huan, had tortured Jiang Yan to the point of disfigurement before sending him over as a gesture of sincerity.

Shi Luoyi's face was pale as she questioned him, "Why?"

Blood stained the corner of his lips but he still smiled gently. "Xiao Luoyi, long time no see. Why? There is no why, I just slipped up for a moment."

No one would believe such an obvious lie. Shi Luoyi even felt his so-called accidental slip was regret at failing to kill her.

The Chuanyun Sect elder who brought Jiang Yan hurriedly pushed his head down, demanding him to apologize to Shi Luoyi.

Jiang Yan's coerced kowtows came one after another, yet he stubbornly refused to speak. His eyes held faint resentment and mockery in his eyes. Shi Huan couldn't bear to keep watching and frowned, interrupting, "Enough. Take him back and discipline him properly, don't scare Luo'er."

Before leaving, Jiang Yan was drenched in blood from head to toe. He suddenly looked at Shi Luoyi and let out an inexplicable chuckle.

"Next time I see you, shall I bring you the finished paper kite for you?"

Give… give what! Is he out of his mind!

Betrayed by her best friend, Shi Luoyi was dejected and depressed for days. She only later learned why Jiang Yan attacked her after her father explained. It turned out that Jiang Yan's father had also fallen for Princess Wan Xun of Nanyue at first sight long ago. But the Jiangs were just a minor sect so after the princess married Daojun, Jiang Yan's father was forced to marry Jiang Yan's mother.

Jiang Yan's mother was arrogant and domineering, and acted ruthlessly. She was utterly obsessed with her husband and also hated and envied the princess.

Jiang Yan was conceived under the influence of drugs. The more Jiang Yan's father detested his mother, the more she tormented Jiang Yan, who bore a striking resemblance to his father.

Before the age of fifteen, Jiang Yan had never experienced a good day at the Chuanyun Sect.

His mother had gone mad, and his father never taught him. As a young sect master, Jiang Yan almost grew up relying on the pity of his fellow disciples.

With his father's unchanging obsession and his mother's madness and abuse, his resentment grew day by day. From his mother's resentful words, he believed that Princess Wan Xun's existence caused him to live such a wretched life.

Jiang Yan's mother passed away recently. He casually brought his subordinates to celebrate Shi Huan's birthday as if nothing had happened, leading to the tragedy of Shi Luoyi being shoved down the Abyss of Ten Thousand Demons.

Perhaps after enduring for many years, he finally had the ability to seek revenge, only to find out that Princess Nanyue had already passed away. With no one left to resent, he took it out on the princess's young daughter.

Learning of this past, Daojun sighed and felt that the child was both pitiful and hateful. He asked Shi Luoyi how she wanted to deal with Jiang Yan.

"Chuanyun Sect has already subjected him to whippings and torture." He paused before adding, "And even flaying."

He was so young yet Jiang Yan's physical body could never be restored to its original state from such punishment.

Shi Luoyi felt uncomfortable hearing this, not knowing if it was for Jiang Yan or for herself. She covered herself with a blanket and muttered after a while, "Since he has already been punished, I have nothing more to do. Let's just leave it at that, father, I don't want to see Jiang Yan ever again."

That was still the first friend she had ever made, leaving her heartbroken and angry. She felt pity for him yet also loathed him for redirecting his resentment, malice and unreasonable cruelty.

Daojun patted her head to comfort her. He was a kind and magnanimous person. After investigating the past, he did not insist on killing Jiang Yan.

However, since then, no disciple of the Chuanyun Sect was allowed to step foot on Buye Immortal Mountain again, and Shi Luoyi never saw Jiang Yan again.

Staring at the Jiang Yan before her now, Shi Luoyi only felt a chill run down her spine.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" he asked with a gentle smile.

The man before her had bright, gentle eyes. His black hair was half tied up and he was dressed in a grayish-blue robe like a mortal scholar. Jiang Yan held an oil-paper black umbrella over Shi Luoyi and reached out to help her up from the ground.

As their skin touched, Shi Luoyi felt a cold and sticky sensation. She suppressed her discomfort and asked him, "Where am I?"

If she remembered correctly, Jiang Yan should have been scarred after undergoing flaying punishment. It was impossible for him to be in such good condition now.

The Jiang Yan before her was no longer the same, he was already an Untransformed Toad Demon.

The reason they were called "untransformed toads" was because they haven't let go of their attachments, so they won't easily transform into the cold appearance of a toad until they have completed their obsession or were killed.

They retained memories from life and could even use their former techniques and skills to live just like normal people until they no longer wished to pretend.

An Untransformed Toad Demon was far easier to deal with than their original form. Shi Luoyi understood this well and thus didn't hurry to force him to reveal his true form.

What appeared before her in her previous life wasn't Jiang Yan but Wei Changyuan. At that time, Shi Luoyi didn't understand and truly believed it was her senior brother Changyuan deeply caring about her, and almost got married to him.

Later, "Wei Changyuan" turned into a Demon Toad during a fight, yet never took Jiang Yan's face. Shi Luoyi had a guess in her heart that perhaps the "Wei Changyuan" from her past life was also the current Jiang Yan in disguise.

She remembered that Jiang Yan seemed to be the "leader" of the Untransformed Toad Demons.

Hearing her ask where this was, Jiang Yan smiled. "Are you still angry with me? At noon, I only talked to Zher for a little while, and you ran off in a huff. Jealous little vinegar jar, you can't even embroider bridal clothes yourself so I asked Zhu'er to embroider them for you. She just came to deliver the dresses today. Come back with me and let's try them on, hmm?"

The more Shi Luoyi looked at Jiang Yan, the more dejected she felt. Perhaps the rumor of her bringing misfortune was true. She was just that unlucky.

Of all the untransformed toads, she just had to encounter the strongest one. In her past life, he transformed into senior brother Wei Changyuan to deceive her, and in this life, he wouldn't let her go even with his own face.

To kill an untransformed toad, its vital point must be found and cut off its head with one blow. Otherwise, any other injuries would be futile as it could easily recover. Shi Luoyi knew Jiang Yan's head was hidden in the house. Although it was dangerous, if she was in danger here, it would be safe on Han Shu's side so she had no choice but to follow Jiang Yan.

"Are we getting married tonight?"

"Of course," he said with a smile, "I won't allow you to back out."

"..." Shi Luoyi kept her stony expression. Fine, after going in circles, she still had to get past this hurdle. If things progressed as expected, he would ask her to try on the wedding dress next and then before entering the bridal chamber, he would accidentally touch her pulse and discover that she was not a virgin, and then he would go crazy...

Having experienced this a second time, she was more seasoned regarding this situation. It was best to get through the process quickly and go save Elder Han Shu sooner.

Although Shi Luoyi still didn't understand why Jiang Yan's final obsession after becoming a toad demon was to marry her. Based on his mental state, shouldn't he want to kill her instead?

On second thought, Jiang Yan probably wanted to disgust her, scare and torment her to death, which would make more sense.

What a deep grudge he held! He is so wicked!

After the piercing light, Bian Lingyu opened his eyes to find himself in an apricot grove.

Nurtured by the dragon vein, the demon toads grew swiftly. The illusion realm they created was also so realistic, as if mocking his past foolishness and naivety.

He lowered his head to look at himself, and could faintly feel the blood and shattered bones hidden under his clothes.

The scene was exactly the same as three years ago, even the wrinkles on his clothes were almost identical. At this time after recovering from his injuries, as soon as he could walk, he went to Mingyou Mountain to find her.

Bian Lingyu changed into his most decent clothes, concealing his broken body. Back then, he had nothing, even his source of life and power was lost. But he didn't understand many things at the time and people could be fearless due to ignorance.

He waited in the apricot grove where Shi Luoyi practiced her sword for a full seven days. With a body inferior even to a mortal's, he was able to sneak to Mingyou Mountain only because of the blessings of Bian Qingxuan.

He knew deep down that he might never have such an opportunity again. Afraid to miss her, he didn't budge an inch the entire time. He stayed until his clothes became filthy, bone spurs disobediently grew out from his sleeves, and he became a hideous monster with aching bones.

Bian Lingyu finally saw her, unaware that he appeared repulsive and frightful like this. He wanted to approach her to speak.

The beautiful girl holding up her skirt dashed towards another young man.

She was beautiful, like a delicate flower softly falling, landing in Wei Changyuan's arms.

"Senior brother Changyuan," she said in a crisp voice like tinkling bells, complaining, "I've been waiting for you for so long!"

The young man sighed helplessly, pulling her to the side, asking about her recent progress in a gentle voice. His tone was slightly stern as he chided her for playing around instead of working hard enough, but from behind many apricot trees, Bian Lingyu could easily hear the concern and love in Wei Changyuan's words.

That noble young man was serious about planning the future of his young fiancée. Even though Shi Luoyi's father was in deep slumber, his life and death unknown, and she was no longer noble, he still cared for their Taoist couple ceremony.

They sat together, eating the snacks that Wei Changyuan had brought from the mortal world for her, innocently talking about naive topics as only childhood sweethearts would talk about.

Bian Lingyu watched coldly for a while, then, after a long moment, he curled up under a tree. Unsure which hurt more, his aching bones or bewildered heart.

He vaguely realized that he should leave, but the seven days and nights of waiting had completely worn down his weak body. He found it difficult to even stand up. His face was sore, and when he raised his hand, he indeed felt the hard scales.

As evening approached, it began to drizzle. Wei Changyuan went back to report to their sect, while Shi Luoyi practiced her sword for a while longer before noticing him hiding under the tree.

She gave a soft "huh", her blood-red sword pointed at him and said loudly, "How can there be a monster in Buye Mountain?"

Bian Lingyu gritted his teeth and shrank back, lowering his head to hide his face.

He was emaciated and feeble, with silver-white bone spurs protruding out, tearing through his clothes, making him look ugly and bewildered, with nowhere to hide. The decent clothes had long since become filthy, no longer resembling their appearance from seven days ago.

The blood-red long sword, because of his evasion, cut through his shoulder, and the sweet scent of blood spread in the air.

The girl sniffed, confused. She sheathed her sword and lowered her voice, "It's not a demonic aura. Are you not a monster?"

Seeing him keep his head lowered in silence, his body trembling slightly, she squatted down. Assuming he was a newly formed spirit, a sense of guilt appeared on her face as she gently coaxed, "Are you a spirit born in this apricot grove like Huixiang? I'm really sorry, I hurt you by mistake. Don't be scared, I'm not a bad person. Let me treat your wound first. Where is your home? I'll send you home, alright?"

Bian Lingyu closed his eyes and said in a hoarse voice, "Don't come over, go away."

The last shred of dignity urged him to raise his bone spurs and forcefully drive her away.

After Shi Luoyi finally walked away, he struggled to support his body, his fingers almost sinking deep into the mud.

The rain grew heavier, and Bian Qingxuan found him with an umbrella.

The girl smiled softly and said gently, "Brother, you look so miserable. So, did you confess your feelings to her? Oh, I forgot to tell you, Little Peacock has someone she likes now. Did you see enough just now? You must be jealous, right? Oh, you probably don't understand jealousy yet. It's the same awful feeling of pain you experienced just now."

She insidiously whispered, "Anyway, you're destined to never have her in this lifetime. So, why not be ruthless and kill her? Hmm? Otherwise, you'll spend your whole life mired in that feeling."

And now, Bian Lingyu watched coldly and indifferently at the situation repeating itself.

The apricot grove, his wretched self on the verge of becoming a "monster". If he guessed right, a young girl would soon appear from deep in the apricot grove.

This time, there would be no Wei Changyuan, Shi Luoyi was destined to approach him. The gentlest and most beguiling way for an Untransformed Toad to breed offspring was to transform into the appearance of the loved one, lay eggs in their body, and turn that person into another Untransformed Toad Demon.

Only if there was no sweetheart, or if they were seen through, would the demon toads reveal their hideous true appearance.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before the young girl walked towards him, holding up her skirt.

She looked up, smiling at him, "Have you been waiting for me here all this time?"

Bone spikes twisted off "her" head. Bian Lingyu sneered, and bone spurs flew out of his sleeves.

Did it still think he was the same ignorant Bian Lingyu from before? He was sober enough to know that she would never come back in this life, never.

A dead toad demon with wide open eyes lay on the ground.

Bian Lingyu stepped over it and walked past, hating that this thing could peer into his past. Thinking of what Shi Luoyi and her senior brother Changyuan must be doing now just aggravated his anger and irritation.


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