It was hard for a small teahouse like theirs to gain business considering that they were found on the border. Especially since it was no ordinary border between two countries or nations but rather, the boundary between the human world and demon realm.
Considering how this place was often filled with demons coming and going while stealing things, murdering, and committing arson, it was no wonder that the population declined more and more. This border used to be a flourishing metropolis but as the border between the two realms became blurrier, more people left. So far, only cultivators and disciples of sects who were powerful enough to guard and fix the boundary stayed here.
That is why it is a fairly huge shock for Lu Liu to find that his savior was a man not only covered in black mud, looking like he crawled out of a grave, but he was also carrying an infant. The man who saved him was obviously a cultivator and from what he saw, he may be a fairly strong one.
“Many thanks to your excellency for chasing away that demon just now!” This seems to startle the baby, causing it to scrunch its face, an impending warning of another round of crying.
The man sighs tiredly as he rocks the baby to calm it down. “Hush, be quiet little one.”
“Would this master prefer to sit down? It seems like your child is getting more and more agitated by the minute. I can prepare you tea.”
“Thank you good sir,” he sighs in relief and shifts the position of the baby. “He hasn’t stopped being irritated and crying ever since we went down the mountain.”
Lu Liu frowns at this. The boundary is dangerous enough but for them to have lived in the mountains? He can only imagine how difficult it must have been to live there while raising an infant.
“Oh dear, you’re from the mountains? It must have been difficult for you and the little tyke. You got run out by the demons there too?”
The man hums. “Hm, something like that. Shh, little one be quiet. It’s okay, It’s okay!”
“Little tyke has a set of powerful lungs I see,” Old Qin comments. “Ah, I remember my cousin’s son. He was like that too. I think he may be hungry. Has his mother fed him yet?”
The man smiles wryly. “His mother is uhm...gone unfortunately.”
The rest of them murmur their apologies. It wasn’t easy to lose a wife that young and for an infant to lose his mother at that age, it must be very difficult, Lu Liu laments.
“I think one of the cultivators who help mend the boundary might know someone who can help you feed your child.”
“Oh no, no, I possibly couldn’t bother you for that. You have served me tea already,” he then takes a sip of the tea prepared in front of him. “Anyway, what year is it now?”
“Think of it as our thanks. Especially since the demon race had been invading these past five years and it has become more and more serious. All kinds of monsters have come pouring into the human realm, what you did sir… oh, I still haven’t asked for this master’s name?”
The man turns quiet for a while before replying. “Peerless Cucumber.”
He sighs as he bounces the baby strapped to his chest up and down. Thank goodness the people here were kind enough to him to give him this baby sling. It made carrying the little one so much easier for his arms. The little one had even been pretty quiet the entire journey.
But of course, of all times he chose to act up, it would be now. Shen Qingqiu could recognize that scrunching up anywhere.
“Baby shh, shh,” he tries to placate him as he frees the cultivators captured by Sha Hualing. He really did not plan on bumping into the demoness here.
He does have a baby strapped into his chest. He was hoping that maybe Shang Qinghua was somewhere around here but alas, that no good author didn't even bother to check up on him. “Little one, now is not the time please.”
“Many thanks to senior for saving me!”
"You are a Bai Zhan peak disciple?” He can recognize those colors anywhere.
“That is correct."
“The Bai Zhan Peak Lord, Liu Qingge, is my master.”
This makes Shen Qingqiu almost sputter. Ah, what the hell is his shidi doing nowadays? Liu Qingge never took on any disciples. He really had no interest in teachig anyone. He just goes out, hunts monsters, and comes back. Even though Bai Zhan claims to teach its disciples, in reality, all they do is really just pick fights with people. His own peak had been on the receiving end of said challenges for a long time now.
Liu Qingge taking on a disciple...It really cannot be. He narrows his eyes in suspicion. “What’s your name?”
Shen Qingqiu looks at him up and down, trying to remember where exactly he had seen this person before. But five years is quite a long time for someone’s looks to change and for a child to grow up.
But as the shixiong, he should ask about his shidi. Liu Qingge did fight strongly for him in Hua Yue city. Granted, Liu Qingge lost but he still tried to fight for him. That loss must have been a huge blow to him too considering that the God of War Liu Qingge just experienced his first loss.
“Your shizun, how is he?” Shidi, are you still cursing me out for making you lose? Ah, forgive this old man for pitting you against Binghe, knowing full well that Binghe’s protagonist halo would make him win no matter what.
Yang Yixuan then answers. “Defeated in every battle.”
Ah, Yang Yixuan, you don’t have to sound so sincere when saying that especially in front of a stranger, he laments. Save your shizun some face will you? “...Who had he been fighting exactly? Luo Binghe?”
Yang Yixuan scoffs and replies, his voice filled with contempt. “If not that little bastard, then who else could Shizun be fighting?”
Shen Qingqiu sweats nervously and tries to bounce his baby again to calm him down. It certainly looks like Cang Qiong hasn’t been too receptive to Luo Binghe ever since his death.
“What about the An Ding peak lord? And how did you fall into that witch’s trap anyway?”
“That witch pretended to be a lady in distress! If not for that, I wouldn’t have fallen for her trap!”
Ah, Liu-shidi, is this really your disciple? He thinks. Don’t worry shidi, he’ll scold this disciple on your behalf. “Look at yourself! Are you really from Bai Zhan? Just because you haven’t interacted with women doesn’t mean you should be scared of them! So what if one undresses in front of you? Back in the day your shizun fought an entire cave of naked female demons and was unaffected!”
“Amazing! He truly is Shizun!” Yang Yixuan replies, his face suddenly filled with admiration. “Senior, you know my shizun?”
Shen Qingqiu immediately tries to deflect. "It was back in the days. Too long ago, no need to dwell on it. Anyway, about the An Ding peak lord."
“Oh him,” Yang Yixuan scowls. “That traitor left Cang Qiong for Mobei-jun. He doesn’t even go back to Cang Qiong anymore. What do you need him for?”
Left Cang Qiong for Mobei-Jun huh? Airplane bro, then what the hell is keeping you from checking up on this plant body? Shen Qingqiu rages internally as he softly pats the back of the child strapped to his chest.
“Senior, is that your child?” Yang Yixuan frowns. “Senior should go back to the town with his kid then. It’s not safe here for an infant and his father. I’ll rescue the other disciples. I thank senior for helping me.”
He rolls his eyes and stops himself from bopping his head with his fan like what he usually does with Binghe. “Nonsense, are you not a child too? What kind of senior would I be to let you face off Sha Hualing alone. Though my baby is strapped to my chest, I’ll be your support and will provide help should you need it from a distance. Is that fine?”
Even though the little tyke is strapped to his chest rather safely, it’s still not easy for Shen Qingqiu to fight. He really did just get lucky with fending off Sha Hualing earlier. Once they rescue the rest of the Cang Qiong disciples, perhaps he should continue to look for Shang Qinghua. That little rat deserves to be on babysitting duty on top of explaining to him why the hell did he wake up with a baby beside him.
Then it went to hell. It turns out that freeing the cultivators trapped by Sha Hualing wasn’t as easy as he thought considering the baby strapped onto his chest. The three nuns managed to escape, making even more trouble for him. So in the end, he decided to just free everyone.
That is until he himself got caught in a net of Immortal-Binding Cables
“Baba!” The child blubbers out, as he tries to grap his beard again.
“Little one, not now,” he says as he tries to think of a way to get rid of the net covering him. He can simply just try to make it explode with energy again but with the baby on his chest, it’s more difficult. He was able to concentrate the energy on the strings on his back earlier, somewhat making sure that the damage would be far from the baby on his chest. But now that the net covers his entire being, he’s not even sure how to do this anymore. “Shh, yes your baba has to get us out of here first.”
Sha Hualing in front of him, chuckles. “Even if you destroy a hundred Immortal-Binding cables, I’d just use a thousand or ten thousands of them. It wasn’t originally meant for you so you should be honored that you got the treatment instead. Stop flailing and tell you brat to stop crying! I’ll go easier on you if you and your child behave.”
Ahh fuck, he really should have left the child with Yang Yixuan, he thinks, despairingly. Not even a day into being revived and he’s going to be used as canon fodder by demons again. Since it seems like he’s about to be thrown to the wolves, he might as well throw out his dignity. “If you’re really going to go easy on me, why not remove the net then?”
Sha Hualing starts her speech again. Seriously, what is it with these villains and their speeches? “You seem strong. You seem to contain a large amount of energy and power. If you only pledged loyalty to me, you would have risen in ranks. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Whether you pledge willingly or not, you’re still set to face the consequences of your actions. You will still be a human vessel for our lord. So choose your options wisely if you want you and your child to be safe.”
Luo Binghe needed human vessels. No wonder, Sha Hualing set her sights on him. Out of everyone they captured, he arguably contained the highest spiritual energy. And now she was planning to offer him to Luo Binghe! He glances at the child on his chest and sighs.
“Miss Sha,” his voice calls out, echoing in the cave. “I would willingly go with you. On one condition.”
“And who are you to demand anything from me?”
You crazy witch! You literally just said I would’ve risen in ranks if I pledged allegiance to you! He scowls internally but continues anyway. “Let my child go with the Cang Qiong cultivators. I’d willingly go with you and pledge allegiance should you allow that.”
He originally wanted to show the child to Shang Qinghua and drag answers out of him but from the looks of it, the plant child would be in more danger with him. Even if Mu-shidi somehow found out that this child is a plant child, it’s not like they can trace anything back to him since he’ll most likely be a vegetable absorbing energy for Luo Binghe by that time. Heh, vegetable, he snickers internally.
“Again! Who are you to even make demands—My lord, today isn’t the night of the full moon yet? Why did you think to visit this subordinate? But you came at just the right time. As it turns out, I’ve prepared a special gift for you—it’s already here.”
Cold sweat breaks out on his neck as he keeps his head bowed. Aiyah, his luck truly is rotten. He would’ve broken out of this net and blown this place up if not for this child. Oh little one, this father apologizes for sharing his rotten luck with you. Let us blame Airplane Bro for our misfortune instead, he laments and tickles the baby’s checks instead, surrendering to his fate.
Maybe he can still keep his disguise and settle a deal with Luo Binghe that would let both of them live. Maybe he’d find Shang Qinghua in Luo Binghe’s palace too. Then he’d be able to dump this baby onto him. See how babysitting fits you huh, Airplane Bro.
“This is your special gift?” Luo Binghe asks, his tone neither pleased nor angered. It was hard to discern actually, with his head still bowed low. The protagonist might want his life but he may be able to delay his inevitable death by hiding himself.
“Yes my lord.”
Luo Binghe looks over the wreckage and raises a brow at her coldly. “I thought I said that Cang Qiong sect’s people were off-limits?”
Cold sweat drips down Sha Hualing’s forehead in the face of Luo Binghe’s possible anger. She never expected that he would still be able to know the type of people she had captured even after they had all escaped. She immediately tries to explain as her blood runs cold, “Don’t be angry, my lord, I accidentally captured two of them, but let them go. This time though, this subordinate found an exceptional individual. Never before had I seen a cultivator with this much spiritual energy. With him, you’ll never need to switch to a new human vessel every month.”
She stops, bites her lip, and then continues. “As long as you give me a certain thing…”
While Sha Hualing was explaining for her life, Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but curse the entire heavens as the extremely familiar and hateful voice appeared in his head again. Not again, not again, he cries internally. Just as he had thought that he was free from this cursed voice, it appeared again.
He thought that by getting a new body, he would be free of this damned virus! He had turned over a new leaf already! He even found himself with a child! He puts his hands over his ears as he tries to block out the sound. Truly, the protagonist is golden to be able to activate the System again with just a single appearance. And truly, he is a wretched villain with cursed luck to have activated his System after one interaction with the protagonist. It wasn’t even a physical interaction! He just happened to appear at the wrong place and time!
[ …Activating……Activating……Soul binding… ]
[ …Debugging……Contacting customer service… ]
Sighing and accepting his fate, he strokes the cheek of the child to calm him down before turning his head to meet the gaze of his (former?) disciple. Luo Binghe who towers over him right now, with an expressionless look on his face.
His heart cannot help but go out to Luo Binghe. He did this, he thinks sadly. Even back in Jinlan, at least Luo Binghe showed hints of facial expressions, even if they had been angry and hatred towards him. This one...This Luo Binghe looks so cold and expressionless. Meeting Luo Binghe’s gaze is like looking at a snow field or a tundra. It’s entirely cold.
But despite that, Shen Qingqiu does not know why he doesn’t feel fear. Maybe it’s because he had accepted his wretched fate. Villain from the start of transmigration, and villain to the end. Maybe it is because of the baby strapped to his chest that he feels tranquil. Luo Binghe in the novel was never shown to have killed children.
Luo Binghe’s face twists into several expressions after seeing him from being puzzled to surprised and then settling into the cold and chilling stare again. Shen Qingqiu hugs the child tighter and closes his eyes, accepting his fate.
“You certainly got guts.” He hears Luo Binghe say lightly.
He immediately opens his eyes when he hears someone faintly choking and Sha Hualing screeching. He almost gasps at what he sees. “My lord, forgive me! This one knows she is wrong! I swear, it’s just a coincidence! My lord, forgive me!”
But Luo Binghe is not one to listen to her immediately. He merely stares at her coldly. “Did I not warn all of you not to get any ideas about using his face?”
“It really...isn’t...my...fault...my lord!” Sha Hualing says, choking out every word as Luo Binghe refuses to relent.
He bites his lip as he watches the scene in front of him. He cannot help but feel a thousand needles piercing his stomach. He really...He really traumatized Luo Binghe to the point that he no longer wants to see his face or even someone who resembles him. It really...It really is his fault. For all his efforts to try and not make the protagonist hate him, fate still got what it wanted.
Just then, a loud noice pierces through the air.
Shen Qingqiu’s heart drops as he drops his eyes to the baby strapped to his chest.
“Of all times, of all times!” He hisses and tries to bounce the baby to calm him down. He should’ve known that the baby wouldn’t stay silent for that long. Thanks to Sha Hualing and her subordinates, he even lost the milk bottle the people in the tea shop gave to him! Seriously! “Shhh, hushh, darling it’ll be fine.”
He hums a lullaby he learned back in the modern era and rocks the baby back and forth, unaware of the tall silhouette approaching him. “Little one, please calm down…”
“You…” Luo Binghe says, grabbing his arm. Shen Qingqiu gulps and tries to pull it away.
[ Touch verification successful! ]
“Where did you learn that song?”
He tries to pull away again, the baby’s cries still piercing through the cave. “Let me go…”
[ The power source has been connected. Storing power! ]
“How do you know that song?!” Luo Binghe demands, shaking his arm, making the baby cry even louder. “Only he knows that song!”
Panicking, Shen Qingqiu lets his mouth run. “It’s from my hometown okay?! Shut up, you’re scaring the baby!”
[ System self-evaluation: all system operations normal. Thank you for your continued usage! ]
Upon trying to push Luo Binghe away, he ends up making the little tyke and the protagonist touch each other. Just as the two touch, the little one’s cries settle down and he opens his eyes as an intricate red mark appears on his adorable little forehead.
Luo Binghe pulls away as if burned upon seeing it and then turns his gaze onto the man holding the child. The said man holding the child on the other hand holds the child closer to his chest and tries to hide him as if it will undo Luo Binghe seeing the mark and the child.
[ OC: Luo Binghe’s Son: ACTIVATED ]
[ Thanking User for his patience! ]