The two of them did not head back via carriage. Instead, they were riding on a third-level ancient beast that Qi Guanrui had obtained out of nowhere. It had a very broad back and moved at a fast yet steady speed, and was docile compared to the majority of other ancient beasts.
The only drawbacks were that its price was incredibly expensive and that those of a lower martial realm would not be able to ride on it.
Gu Bai sat side by side with Qi Guanrui. His right hand had been taken by Qi Guanrui, but the latter, with considerations of Gu Bai’s image in mind, thankfully did not hug him.
Gu Bai felt that his standards were getting lower and lower.
Moreover... Gu Bai’s mind was still focusing on his bizarre, ridiculous soft-heartedness. His future was bleak.
This was obviously a prelude to death!
Qi Guanrui, on the other hand, was in a great mood.
In the past few days, he’d finally satisfied his repressed desires. After their actions, Qi Guanrui had already made preparations to hide Ziche Shubai away for the rest of his life, only to realise that Ziche Shubai's attitude was rather peculiar—though he thankfully did not seem to loathe Qi Guanrui.
As a result, when Ziche Shubai had requested to return to school, Qi Guanrui straightforwardly agreed and tagged along. It was as if nothing had changed.
Yet Qi Guanrui understood clearly that some things could never return to the way they were before.
Their current situation seemed to be the best outcome possible…Though there was no way Qi Guanrui could feel satisfied with these subpar circumstances.
On the other hand, Qi Guanrui had also noticed how Ziche Shubai had softened his attitude. It was possible that, given some time, Qi Guanrui would be able to obtain more.
Qi Guanrui found taking care of Gu Bai with his own hands more and more enjoyable—and thus would intervene in all of Gu Bai’s clothing, food, accommodation, and transportation-related decisions.
For Gu Bai, their prior interactions had already provided a foundation for Qi Guanrui’s behaviour. Despite knowing full well that Qi Guanrui was a pervert, Gu Bai still slowly grew accustomed to his new living habits.
Gu Bai's reaction was captured in Qi Guanrui’s eyes, and something in the latter became more resolute and paranoid.
...Even after many years gone by, that which he possessed back when he was at his most fragile should still belong to him and him alone.
Thanks to the third-level ancient beast, the return trip was much shorter than the original trip.
Gu Bai's martial qi was still trapped, and he’d been tossed about for days. Occasionally, he would sleep directly on the ancient beast when he got tired, only to realise that he would always wake up in Qi Guanrui's arms.
Gu Bai was a little embarrassed at first, but that soon faded to nothing. As for whether he was kissed, hugged and gnawed on after falling asleep? He had absolutely no idea. ╮(╯▽╰)╭
After a short trip lasting a day and night, they arrived at Wu Town, located near Haoyang City.
It was here that they received some news.
They were at a restaurant. Their private booth on the second floor coincidentally allowed them to take in the entirety of the first floor.
A screen hid a dashing young man clad in white. His hair was pulled back in a high clasp and he was leaning against the back against a soft couch, drinking expressionlessly. The handsome young man opposite him poured wine for him and served him various dishes.
A noise sounded out from below.
It originated from a burly man, carrying on him a crimson-gold sword and the man was, at the moment, caught in an intense argument. His face was flushed red and spittle was flying in every direction.
"I beheld the tragic state of Huachao City with my own eyes. Not a single life at the flower viewing event was spared. There were some lovely young ladies at the scene—yet just like how jade eventually returns to the earth and how flowers wilt at the end of their lifespan, they, too, perished. How pitiful! You call me a liar, why don't you head over and see for yourself? "
Someone standing beside the man asked him, "I heard that an extremely powerful ancient beast had caused the tragedy. Is this true?"
The burly man was instantly fired up, and immediately replied, "That's not it! It's a giant python with an enormous body that can snuff out every life within a radius of ten kilometres in a single move. The day before yesterday, the city lord of Huachao City invited many formidable men to eradicate it, but the python wiped them all out. Every single one of them is now buried in the belly of the python!"
Hearing this, someone shouted: "So that’s the reason why the surrounding cities have implemented strict defences recently. There has been an influx of distinguished men, hailing from all directions. Were they perhaps called due to the presence of that giant python?!"
The burly man was pleased. "The lords of several cities that were affected by the giant python pooled together their funds to jointly issue a huge bounty. The one who obtains the head of the giant python will receive ten million Wu coins!"
The crowd went into an uproar.
"Ten million Wu coins?"
"If I had the ability, I’d definitely give it a try!"
"The fact that the python can attract so many formidable people is thanks to its high bounty!"
"Perhaps that bounty will draw even the top powerhouses of the Martial Emperor level! If that were to happen, then that giant python is doomed!"
At this moment, the first floor had completely turned into a noisy, chaotic mess. Everyone there was in high spirits.
A reward of ten million—what a large sum! Even if one were to count every single bounty created since the beginning of time, the number of bounties that exceeded or were comparable to this sum would still be less than five!
What a tremendous event...
Gu Bai silently turned himself around and silently looked at Qi Guanrui.
Pervert, what exactly did you do for the situation to turn into this! Your bounty is comparable to the Demon Emperor's bounty in the later parts of the original novel! Hey, don’t you think everything has gone wrong!
Laozi originally thought that your twisted personality was your only issue, but it seems that I’ve been mistaken. Your brain is lame as well!
Qi Guanrui naturally could hear the conversations of the people below as well. He smiled slightly and said in a soft tone, "Does Gege also want to kill...that giant python?"
Gu Bai was stunned for a moment, then embarrassed.
Right, Laozi shouldn’t know that "huge python = pervert".
With this thought in mind, Gu Bai gave a response expected of someone coldly arrogant: "If I were to cross paths with it, I will fight it."
Qi Guanrui looked over with a gentle gaze: "Gege wants it dead?"
Gu Bai: "..."
You’re asking Laozi straight if Laozi wants to kill you. Is your IQ offline, or do you think Laozi’s IQ is offline? If Laozi says “yes" what do you plan to do? And if Laozi says “no”, what do you plan to do?
Qi Guanrui sighed, "I originally thought that if Gege wanted the life of the giant python, I would take it for Gege and win your smile..."
Gu Bai: Haha.
I dare you to slaughter yourself. If you do that, Laozi will laugh at your corpse!
Qi Guanrui sighed again. "Unfortunately, Gege refuses to speak, and I don’t want to untie Gege's chains, so we’ll have no choice but to give up on that python."
Gu Bai’s face contorted.
Stop bringing up my kidnapping with such a casual tone, you bastard!
Qi Guanrui was long used to Ziche Shubai's aloofness, but the latter’s words had become less and less after he had done that thing.
Sometimes, they would not even exchange two sentences within a day.
The days of endless chatter about every single topic were long gone as if they’d only existed in his dreams—but Ziche Shubai was now trapped in Qi Guanrui’s arms. Though the current situation was less than satisfactory, he still believed that there would be opportunities to change it for the better.
Hadn’t Ziche Shubai always treated him differently?
It was just that he’d done something that made Ziche Shubai unhappy, or perhaps made him a little angry, and thus the latter refused to pay him any attention.
Whatever it was, it was much better than the future scenarios Qi Guanrui had thought up in his mind.
——On the other hand, Gu Bai truly didn’t give it much thought.
Gu Bai’s heart had been in a constant OS  state ever since Gu Xiaoshan turned into a pervert. At the same time, he’d shut his mouth even tighter, afraid that he’d accidentally blurt out something that shouldn't be said.
This was especially so after Gu Bai’s discovery that he could stimulate the pervert’s thin nerves easily. Since then, he’d strictly followed the policy of "talk less, provoke less”, trying his best not to trigger the pervert, to prevent him from suddenly transforming.
...Laozi is fighting for world peace!
It's not easy TAT
Besides, Qi Guanrui was once Gu Xiaoshan and Gu Bai was more than happy to converse with him. But then Qi Guanrui turned into the perverted protagonist...And Gu Bai truly could not do anymore.
In addition…that stallion man had abruptly gained an interest in chrysanthemums. This contradicted the rules of the world too much! Besides, wasn't this a little too far from literary romance? Gu Bai struggled to accept these unscientific observations.
He had already exhausted all his strength (*hand to forehead gesture*) to maintain his cold and noble appearance as the Bingshan City Lord.
As for other things…Let's think about them after my brain restarts╮(╯▽╰) ╭
After eating, Qi Guanrui brought Gu Bai along and left the restaurant happily. Their action of releasing the third-level ancient beast and getting on it naturally attracted the attention of many.
Such conspicuous behaviour was regarded by passers-by as the strong flaunting their prestige, and the crowd who had heard the news of the bounty figured that the pair might have come for the bounty. This brought about a new bout of excited discussion before they finally dispersed.
Qi Guanrui and Gu Bai continued their rushed journey toward Haoyang City.
Along the way, Qi Guanrui leaned forward. With his face beside Gu Bai's ear, he whispered.
"Gege isn’t planning on joining in the fun?"
"Is it true that Gege was not once enticed by that bounty of ten million?”
"Gege's family may be rich, but having icing on the cake is still delicious..."
"That python has hurt countless people. If Gege doesn't like it, just let me know. I’ll kill it for Gege..."
E. N. O. U. G. H. Ah!
How insecure do you have to be to chatter all day long!
Talking so much nonsense—Laozi dares you to start preparing your neck in front of me!
It’s fine to ask me once, but asking again and again and again and again—what the fuck do you want me to say! Are you planning to continue bugging me until I give you a reply?!
Gu Bai took a deep breath.
Then proceeded to reply with an eerie tone: "Killing is not necessary. Such a giant is rare to see—wouldn’t it be exciting to ride upon it?"
Laozi truly wants to give it a few rough kicks. Won’t you allow me to?
Qi Guanrui smiled. It was a gentle smile, but it was also…very ambiguous.
Gu Bai's face turned blue.
Qi Guanrui licked his lips: "So Gege wants to ride...hm?"
Gu Bai's face was ashen.
What the fuck! The pervert had twisted his words! Do you think Laozi doesn’t understand what you’re getting at?!
Qi Guanrui suddenly leaned closer to Gu Bai's ear. In a soft tone, he promised, "One day, I will help Gege achieve his wishes."
Gu Bai clenched his fists.
Fuck! Your! Sister! Laozi wants to ask if it’s too late to regret my words!
Gu Bai, who wanted to vent his irritability, felt blood rush to his face and gained a new understanding of how low the pervert could go.
He didn't say a single word for the next three hours.
As for Qi Guanrui, he seemed to have thought of something interesting and his smile turned even gentler. Anyone who saw his expression now would feel as if they were engulfed in a…spring breeze.
The third-level ancient beast travelled at great speed and the two of them successfully arrived outside Haoyang City the day before Qingtian Academy started its new term.
Sure enough, the garrison’s strength had been increased by a lot. Even some soldiers in heavy armour could be seen at the periphery, doing their part to protect the city.
Currently, all who entered Haoyang City would have to go through a mandatory check, even if they’d arrived in a carriage.
The city lord of Haoyang City was a peerless powerhouse at the Martial Emperor level. The vast majority had to obey his orders—save for the ones who had greater strength than even the city lord himself.
Though one who had such power would not have to enter on foot through the gates at all.
Qi Guanrui and Gu Bai, of course, were no exception to the rule.
When the line shortened and it was about to be their turn, they too had to get off the ancient beast.
Qi Guanrui held out a hand to Gu Bai for support, and the two leapt up, landing firmly on the ground.
Soon after, a soldier came to check. Noticing that they were dressed in luxurious clothes, the soldiers dared not do anything humiliating. After glancing them up and down and having a strange beast come over to sniff at them, they waved Qi Guanrui and Gu Bai in.
Qi Guanrui entered calmly, without the slightest hint of guilt in his expression.
Gu Bai walked beside him and lit a candle for Haoyang City.
It was not that the soldiers were weak—it was simply that the pervert was too perverted.
The idiot author had a face full of tears.
...Why did he have to give a golden finger to the protagonist by making his scent in his python and human forms different?
This was the reason why that spiritual rhinoceros beast could not detect him.
 Short form for "overlapping sound". Outwardly saying/behaving in one way while inwardly saying/behaving in another