The truth of the matter was this: in order for the plot of The Proud Immortal Demon Way to continue, Shen Qingqiu simply had to go.
There was no saying how much of the plot he had changed already, what with Liu Qingge still alive, the protagonist coming out of the Abyss in three years instead of five, with no sight of the love which would sustain him through his blackening. It was under Shen Qingqiu’s teaching, under his idea of doing what was necessary to prepare the child for his trials, that Luo Binghe had to undergo the trial of the Abyss without even the fond memories of the martial sisters who would one day wed him.
It shouldn’t have surprised him, then, that upon ascending from the Abyss, Binghe was far from the collected protagonist he should have been in the novel. Ascending early, ascending with so much hatred and not an ounce of hope — no wonder he fell prey to Xin Mo’s clutches so easily.
It only made sense that this master pay his apprentice back then, wasn’t it? Surely, with this final act, Shen Qingqiu’s part in the story which had formed would be done? Surely now, with Xin Mo suppressed and the figure of the master who betrayed and sent him to be tortured in such a way gone, Binghe could move on with the rest of the story, ascend the throne of the both the human and the demonic realm.
(Shen Yuan had made no secret of his hatred for Airplane Shooting Towards The Sky’s shitty novel, but no one would know that one of the reasons why he continued to read it, despite everything, was the idea that despite everything he had suffered, the protagonist would find happiness.
When he first began reading it, this is what made him stay, despite the bad writing and the needless lewdness: how pitiable this child was. Airplane Shooting Towards The Sky had spared no mercy in constructing Binghe’s origins. Any sorrow that a human could feel in their life, Luo Binghe had felt.
Abandoned by his parents, mistreated by his Shizun, surviving on the mere scraps of kindness which the sisters gave him….despite that, this child was able to triumph over those who sought to harm him, gain power and create a place for himself in a world which sought to break him.
The Proud Immortal Demon Way really wasn’t Shen Yuan’s usual reading material. He always had been a bit of a romantic at heart, no matter how he would never tell anyone else this. But in the scraps of emotion which shown through, Shen Yuan thought that he could spot some semblance of hope for this character.
...so maybe he was just projecting. Sue him.)
It was with this in mind that, when he was finally revived, Shen Qingqiu took one look towards the direction where his previous home resided, and started walking the opposite direction.
It wasn’t like he didn’t have enough to do when he woke up in his new body anyway. For one, it was an alarmingly unstable body: from time to time, Shen Qingqiu could feel something start tugging at his soul, as though trying to force it out of this shell. Considering the fragility of this body, he didn’t know how long he could last.
The world which Shen Qingqiu lived in was far more than the world which Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky had written about in his book, this much was clear. He could remember earlier conversations with Shang Qinghua, where that sham of a writer admitted that this world was much more of the world he had planned, before he became some scam sellout who scrapped character and world development in favor of papapa to soothe the souls of single (and rabid) fans of The Proud Immortal Demon Way.
“It’s not like I sat down one day and actively thought about writing hundreds of women getting reamed for a living, cucumber bro,” Shang Qinghua’s voice was indignant and loud with the alcohol running in his veins. “I had dreams! Ambitions! A universe I wanted to build!”
Even Shen Qingqiu could feel the effects of the wine settling upon him, warming his cheeks. Entrapped by his own mannerisms, he brought his fan forward to cover his red face and snapped out, “Consider your audience, Shang-shidi! How was I meant to know that this was anything greater than some dumb wish-fulfillment fantasy?” In a lower voice still, “Meeting you here didn’t do much to dissuade that notion.”
Incensed by the accusation that he was simply some horny virgin writing porn because he couldn’t get laid (maybe he was but Shen Qingqiu didn’t have to call him out like that), Shang Qinghua burst out, “Oh, so what does that make you, Shen-shixiong? Or have you forgotten that you were a part of this audience too?”
Not even the fan could hope to cover the red which spread all the way to Shen Qingqiu’s ears. Realizing the futility of his efforts a moment later, he dropped the fan and lunged for Xiu Ya, intent on teaching this scum writer a lesson. The surrounding struggle had yet again damaged the bamboo house, but with the An Ding Peak Lord being one of the people involved in the confrontation, it wasn’t hard to rebuild.
Even thinking of that house brought pain to Shen Qingqiu’s heart. When he self-destructed, he had known that he would never be able to walk on that Peak again, never be able to sit outside that house and watch his students conduct their various activities, all the while calling “Shizun, Shizun!” like hyperactive children tugging at his sleeves for attention. And the one who would do so the most would be….
He shook his head to clear out the thoughts.
Shen Qingqiu’s part in the story was over, he knew this. The fact that the System hadn’t said a single thing to him since he had woken up, even though Luo Binghe was presumably alive and well in Han Hua Palace, was proof of that. He had no more tasks to fulfill, no more plot points to cover and….
...no more a home to go back to.
All of which meant that he was free to scour this land for things which would stabilize his body. If this was indeed the universe which Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky had sought to build, surely there must be something present to help him. Now, with his cultivation back in this new body, brimming with energy to the point of being overwhelming, he had all the time in the world to find it.
….and he probably would have needed every second of the time, if a familiar figure hadn’t found him some months after his awakening.
A rueful grin. “I thought you might be going on a vacation. Mind if I tag along?”