No insects could be heard chirping on this winter night in the mortal realm, only the creaking of villagers' shoes on the snow-covered ground could be heard.

Han Shu wasn't in the room, she had gone out to inspect the dry soil formation. Shi Luoyi rested on her arm, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

She dreaded their impending entry into Qingshui Village.

If the arrival of her junior sister had thrown her original life into chaos, then Qingshui Village was the biggest turning point.

She had previously been able to control her inner demons, but watching Elder Han Shu die because of her in Qingshui Village became the root of her overwhelming guilt and intensified her inner demons. The closer they got to the village, the more anxious she became.

She was afraid that she wouldn't be able to change anything and save Elder Han Shu in time.

The little lambs in the sheepfold were crying from the cold. Unable to sleep, Shi Luoyi knew tonight she wouldn't be able to focus on cultivating either, so she simply put on her clothes and decided to go out for a walk.

The houses where people could still live in the village were not very far apart. She didn't expect to come across Bian Lingyu being bullied after just a few steps.

Shi Luoyi's mood was complicated and she hid instinctively.

She was also curious to see how Bian Qingxuan's elder brother would handle this situation. After all, in her opinion, while the younger sister was full of malice, her brother should also at least have the capability to protect himself.

There was an ancient banyan tree at the village entrance that remained verdant year-round. Even on the coldest winter days, only its trunk darkened slightly, and lacked some hanging aerial roots. It still appeared lush and leafy. Shi Luoyi hurriedly concealed herself in its canopy.

Looking down from above, in the dead of winter, Bian Lingyu had been sitting in the yard carving something. Xue An, who shared the room with Bian Lingyu, came out of the house with a jug of cold water and poured it over Bian Lingyu's head.

Leaning against the door, Xue An sneered, "I've long disliked the sight of you. You reject the toast of fine wine, then you'll have to drink the penalty  - our junior sister's feelings are what countless people long for but can't obtain, yet you, a sickly weakling, trample on it in every way! Her brother? Are you really the junior sister's brother? How come I heard that the Bian family only has one young lady and a little beast picked up from somewhere."

Cold water dripped from Bian Lingyu's black hair and slid down his long dark lashes. Gazing up at Xue An through the moist strands, his eyes exuded an intense chill.

Xue An laughed. "What, you want to fight me?"

Shi Luoyi's fingers gripped the tree trunk tightly. In that instant, she also felt Bian Lingyu would retaliate, but he didn't say anything. He didn't even wipe the water from his face and simply walked away in his half-drenched clothes until under the banyan tree she was in. Then he continued whittling the object in his hand.

Looking closely, Shi Luoyi realized he was concentrating on carving several pieces of peach wood.

The cold water quickly frosted over his long lashes and collar, but he paid it no mind. The peach wood sword in his palm gradually took shape.

Xue An stood in the doorway, originally intending not to let this mortal return inside to deliberately embarrass him. He didn't expect that Bian Lingyu seemed to have no intention of returning at all. Annoyed, he could only mutter under his breath, "Coward, bad luck, really think that a broken sword can save you in Qingshui Village!"

The insult in his words was too blatant. Even Shi Luoyi frowned up in the tree, but the youth below remained unmoved, composed as an ice sculpture.

As for Xue An, Shi Luoyi had a strong impression of him. He was one of the disciples who liked Bian Qingxuan the most and also died in Qingshui Village!

Three years ago when Bian Qingxuan first joined the mountain sect, Xue An had relentlessly pursued her.

Unlike the other disciples, Xue An had an excellent family background. had a close relationship with the sect master, and privately, he could address the Sect Master of Hengwu Sect as "Uncle". His mother's clan was also from royalty, not some small nation like Nanyue; he had royal blood from the Zhao Kingdom.

Because Shi Luoyi had a Daojun father, in terms of status and family background Xue An might be slightly inferior to her, but he was still one of the best among disciples.

In the previous life, Xue An was like an invincible knife in Bian Qingxuan's hand, secretly dealing with anyone who had conflicts with her. Shi Luoyi had also been tripped up by him once or twice, so she didn't like him.

Thinking Xue An was the sect master's nephew, she felt even more disgusted.

But Shi Luoyi never expected Xue An to treat Bian Lingyu like this in private. Plus she was extremely surprised when he told the life experiences of the Bian brothers and sisters. This was the first time she had heard fragments of information about Bian Lingyu's life experience from someone.

From Xue An's words, he seemed to have investigated the origin of his sweetheart Bian Qingxuan and thus found out Bian Lingyu was merely adopted by the Bians. No wonder Xue An didn't treat Bian Lingyu like the other disciples, but instead covertly made things difficult for him.

But is their true identity really like this?

After becoming a demoness in her previous life, Shi Luoyi had also looked into their origins. By then, decades had passed, the old Bian residence had been looted by bandits and laid in ruins, leaving no way to verify anything.

Moreover, Bian Qingxuan cared too much about this brother, even more than a real sibling, making it impossible for outsiders to doubt.

Shi Luoyi's sword was attuned to its master's heart. It understood its master's thoughts and was ready to strike at any moment.

She helplessly tightened her grip, silently soothing it in her heart: "Shh, be still. let's observe a little longer."

After a while, Xue An didn't do anything else. He closed the door, clearly not planning to let Bian Lingyu back inside tonight either. Not sure if he was ignorant or malicious, leaving a mortal out in wet clothes on a freezing night could cost Bian Lingyu half his life.

Now only Shi Luoyi and the young man in the silver-white robe remained around the banyan tree.

In her previous life, Shi Luoyi rarely had the chance to get to know Bian Lingyu. And almost everyone around Bian Qingxuan harbored ill will towards her, so she naturally assumed that Bian Lingyu was also Bian Qingxuan's "good elder brother".

But she had just heard Xue An say that Bian Lingyu didn't care about Bian Qingxuan's feelings.

This sparked some curiosity in her. Are there really people who don't like Bian Qingxuan? And he is even the brother who faces Bian Qingxuan day and night?

The night in Cangshan Village was frigid. The young lambs in the pen huddled up to their mothers, bleating in distress.

The villagers were too preoccupied to build a warmer pen, so the newly born lambs were very pitiful.

In Shi Luoyi's eyes, the youth beneath the tree was just as pitiful as those little lambs.

His complexion was pale, his fingers were frozen red from cold. Without Bian Qingxuan by his side, anyone could bully him. A mere mortal in the midst of a crowd of cultivators, experiencing the same loneliness day after day.

Those unique cares Bian Qingxuan had for him became poisonous thorns pointed at him where others could not see. Only by Bian Qingxuan's side could he live in safety and peace.

Logically, he should rely on Bian Qingxuan even more.

But he didn't.

He was like a waning moon, a bizarre analogy but Shi Luoyi couldn't help but think like this. The young man under the tree was truly like a moon on the verge of falling, isolated and cold.

Watching him silently sharpen the sword, Shi Luoyi's conscience, which was nearly extinguished after becoming a demonic cultivator, unexpectedly resurfaced at this untimely moment, making her feel somewhat uneasy.

She had never realized so clearly –

In the three years since coming to Mingyou Mountain, Bian Lingyu was just a mortal who had done nothing to harm anyone, yet because of his famous sister, he became the target of both those who loved and hated Bian Qingxuan.

Wasn't she just like Xue An in the past? Because of everything Bian Qingxuan did, it seemed fair that punishment could be imposed on him.

Shi Luoyi's heart felt slightly stifled. The wind and snow were raging in Cangshan Town, and the young man under the tree was frail and sickly.

The girl watched him for a long time before silently drawing a sign to lay a formation using the old banyan tree, blocking the wind and snow for the person under the tree.

Seeing him earnestly carving the peach wood, she thought that this person was both cold and stupid.

She thought to herself, what's the use of carving peach wood? He might as well do as Xue An said, obediently sticking close to his sister, seeking her protection.

Afraid he was too stupid to avoid freezing to death, she could only stay in the tree all night, watching him carve the peach wood tirelessly.

Under the banyan tree, Bian Lingyu's hands carving the peach wood paused.

The effect of the Soul-Cleansing Pill would disappear at night, and that pill was like a poisonous curse, prematurely consuming his body, destined to have less and less effect on him. The bone spurs had long retracted into his body, and the excruciating pain that etched his bones was so dense and overwhelming that he was now no different from an ordinary mortal, even frailer.

He had been trapped in such a powerless body for several years, unable to even deal with someone like Xue An.

He also disdained handling the likes of Xue An. His goal this time was the untransformed toad demon plaguing the mortal realm.

Bian Lingyu knew what Bian Qingxuan was waiting for - for him to give up and look back, to let go of that person who would never look his way.

He had heard of mortals taming eagles. He was the fierce eagle Bian Qingxuan intended to simmer to submission.

Sometimes, he didn't even know how long he could keep waiting for that girl - three years, five years, or maybe ten years?

He never really thought about having an answer.

But perhaps he was inherently paranoid and proud. Regardless, he stubbornly remained stuck in place, however much he grew to detest himself.

The moment the wind and snow stopped, the chill dispersed, replaced by strands of warmth flowing back into his body.

Bian Lingyu tightened his grip on the dagger. With his current mortal body, he couldn't see the source of the spell formation or sense the five elements circulating. But he knew something was off.

The little lambs in the sheep pen were still pitifully howling. Relying on his strong intuition, Bian Lingyu looked up at the tree.

But the leaves on the branches were so dense that nothing could be seen.

Bian Lingyu lightly pursed his lips, a cold glint flashing through his eyes.

Who could the person on the tree be? He knitted his brows, evaluating in his mind whether this person was righteous or evil.

Exerting a bit of strength in his palm, Bian Lingyu discreetly cut his own hand with the peach wood, allowing the fresh blood to soak into the wood. Then he sat back under the tree to wait for that being to reveal its hand.

Yet, throughout the night, there was no sign of movement from the mysterious figure.

The spell in the void gently protected him from the wind and snow, allowing him to spend the night peacefully.

Before daybreak, he sensed the dissipation of the formation. Bian Lingyu looked up at the banyan tree again and realized that person had already left silently.

The faint light of dawn appeared and the sky brightened. The large amount of Soul-Cleansing Pills he had consumed took effect once again as the first rays of sun spilled over the land.

The disobedient bone spurs shot out from his sleeve, brutally pouncing to prey on the person's lingering breath. As Bian Lingyu's condition deteriorated, it became increasingly difficult for him to control them.

But when the bone spurs touched the girl's hiding spot from last night, they instantly lost their sharp, terrifying edges and transformed into a piece of white bone, creepily entwining and constricting the tree branch.

Bian Lingyu stiffened as he realized something, and his expression turned rather strange.

"Come back," he reprimanded.

The bone spurs ignored him, greedily absorbing the girl's remaining scent.

"I told you to come back." Bian Lingyu's face turned cold, and he resolutely snapped off a piece of his own bone. Seeing him act so ruthlessly, the bone spurs finally became fearful and released their grip on the tree trunk, retracting back into his body.

Holding the broken bone, just like in the past few years, he admonished himself - what the hell are you thinking? Even if she set a formation all night, it definitely wasn't to keep you warm. Even immortal bodies fear the cold. Don't fantasize, don't get your hopes up. She has someone she wants to live and die for. Don't let yourself end up in an even more wretched state.

You were so happy that day, but what did you get in the end?

She's no different from Xue An. Whether joy or anger, it's ultimately not the emotion directed at you. She's even more hateful than Xue An!

These disciples of the immortal sects only toy him around when they have nothing better to do.

After thinking it through and settling his heart, he picked up the five well-carved and sharpened peach wood swords from the ground.

Perhaps he should enter the Qingshui Village today. Love affairs were the most unattainable and unnecessary thing for him.

Shi Luoyi was not that important to him, he still had things he had to do.


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