Chapter 3 – Attempted Escape

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It was quite late in the morning of the following day that Luo Xiao woke up. With slightly swollen cheeks and a stiff, cold body, it took him a moment to remember where he was.

His village had been devastated, and an unfamiliar man had taken him halfway across  the country to a city he didn’t know. On top of everything, his father was gone as well. The mere thought of that pile of corpses, all his dead friends, and the evil corpse puppet that was responsible for it all caused a quiet whimper to escape his lips as he hugged himself.

He looked down and saw that his simple linen clothes were stiff from coagulated blood which had turned completely black. He felt disgusting. This was the corpse puppet’s blood.

Although Luo Xiao was not aware of what exactly had happened, he had no doubt that the corpse puppet was dead and that its blood had sprayed everywhere even drenching himself as well. This was because there had been nothing left of the puppet when he came to.

A shiver ran through his body, and he was starting to feel sick again. He felt like thousands of insects were crawling on his body, digging into his skin and corroding him.

The Immortal looked at him with curiosity. He had listened to him cry all night, and now he saw Luo Xiao’s expression change from despair to disgust and fear.

He frowned and left the room, returning shortly afterward with a servant that brought a large barrel. The barrel was placed in the middle of the room and soon filled with steaming hot water.

Looking at the child, he saw that he was still stuck staring at himself, and the Immortal sighed before he went towards him.

“You there,” he said, finally dragging the child from his deep thoughts. Luo Xiao jolted when he heard his voice, and his eyes darted from side to side like a small rabbit looking for a way to escape.

Seeing his reaction, the Immortal chuckled. “Go take a bath,” he said with a sigh, “You’re dirty.”

After those few words, he left the room. He closed the door behind him, and Luo Xiao’s eyes widened in surprise. Had he finally been left alone? This was his time to escape! Yet, when he looked at the warm water in the middle of the room, he hesitated.

He felt disgusting right now, and he was aware that if he left the room, then he would easily be spotted or more probably smelled.

“I will wash, and then I can run away,” Luo Xiao whispered to himself, half convincing himself that he had a chance to leave even if he took a bath first.

He stripped off his clothes that were so stiff from the dried up blood that they could almost stand on their own, and then he sank into the warm water. His frail body quickly slumped against the tub, and he felt the warm water washed away the blood and dirt on his body, but even after rubbing the rest of the blood off, he still felt disgusting, even dirty inside.

He had no urge to soak in the water as it was no longer clean, and he quickly stepped out. Next to the barrel was a chair with a towel that he used to dry himself, and not far away from the chair was a mirror.

Accidentally glancing at himself in the mirror, Luo Xiao was shocked. Although he looked as frail and weak as ever, his skin, which was previously almost wax-like was now a much healthier color; in fact, it had a pink hue to it due to the warm water.

He also felt that he was no longer as weak as he had been before. Although still not strong, he did not feel the constant exhaustion he had felt back in his village.

“I guess it’s due to the all the things that have happened to me,” Luo Xiao shook his head and looked at the clothes in front of him. He was not willing to wear them again, but he had nothing else, so he did not know what to do.

With a towel wrapped around his body, he looked at the clothes with narrowed eyes debating what to do. At that moment though, the door opened, and the Immortal stepped in.

He sent one glance at Luo Xiao before he looked away. He then dropped a bundle onto the bed. “Change into this,” he said and left the room again.

Stunned, Luo Xiao turned around and looked at the bundle. It was a set of clothes, with inner robes and everything.

Luo Xiao was not used to wearing robes. Back in his village, he wore pants and shirts, but it was clear that this robe was of a much better quality than his usual clothes. Still, these clothes were not on the same level as the clothes the Immortal was using.

Changing into the robe, Luo Xiao looked at it and found that it was a white robe with a silver lining. It had no embroideries and was very simple. It was clean and made Luo Xiao much more attractive than he had been before.

Although he was a handsome boy, he had not known how to dress. Just the addition of these clothes alone, coupled with the fact that he had gained a bit of color to his skin, meant that he no longer looked like a wax figurine and was now much more beautiful than before. Even women would be jealous of his appearance were they to see him now.

Just as he finished fastening the belt, the door opened once more. This made him wonder if the Immortal had been waiting for this moment intentionally, but he quickly dismissed such thoughts. This Immortal didn’t seem to be the considerate type, staying outside for the sake of his privacy did not seem to be his style.

When he entered, he was followed in by a servant who brought plates of food that he placed on the table opposite the bed. He then summoned three other servants who carried away the barrel with the dirty water.

“Come eat,” the Immortal ordered Luo Xiao, and although the young man had no appetite, he could hear the voice would not accept no for an answer.

He slowly inched towards the table and sat down. His head was lowered, and he did not dare to look at the incredibly handsome man opposite him. He knew that this man had some sort of interest in him, but knew himself to be utterly useless. He was so useless that his body was too weak to even cultivate.

The Immortal did not touch the food. Instead, he rested his head on his hands with his elbows on the table. He was not interested in the food; he was interested in the mysterious boy in front of him.

“Tell me your age,” he asked, his voice soft like velvet and gentle like the spring breeze, but at the same time filled with such a power that no one dared go against his wishes.

“Fifteen,” Luo Xiao answered almost instantly with fear in his voice. Perhaps he would be able to leave if the Immortal realized how useless he really was.

“Fifteen? That’s quite young,” the Immortal’s smile widened. “So you are fifteen years old but already capable of killing a Corpse Puppet with the strength of a Heaven ranked cultivator.”

“How long have you been cultivating?” he asked again, but this time Luo Xiao lifted his head in confusion and looked at him with puzzlement.

“I have never cultivated,” he said while cocking his head to the side, “I’m weak and useless. I have spent my life stuck in bed because of how useless my physical body is; I haven’t  been able to cultivate.”

Hearing this, the face of the Immortal turned slightly stern as if he did not believe the child, and the atmosphere turned chilly.

“My lord Immortal, I truly have never cultivated before,” Luo Xiao said somewhat panicked; his eyes widened when he felt the threatening atmosphere.

The Immortal was quiet for quite some time.  His face was no longer filled with a gentle smile, but looked somewhat menacing, as if things had gone out of hand, but then the smile returned to his face, He leaned forward, causing Luo Xiao to back up.

“What is the rank of your soul then?” He asked as if he had suddenly found something interesting.

“Rank of my soul?” Luo Xiao was puzzled. “I don’t know? What about my soul?”

Was this man thinking of stealing his soul? Suddenly something appeared in his mind. When he was a child, he had heard about the demons. Demons lived on the same continent as the humans, but they generally occupied the center of the continent, not bothering to visit the outskirts.

Demons were the most beautiful creatures alive, but they were cruel and callous. They would take the soul of others and refine it into their own strength. Was this dazzling man perhaps a demon?

When this thought struck him, he could not get it out of his head, and the expression on his face turned to one of utter fear. Was this man going to kill him and pull out his soul, refine it, and consume it?

Seeing Luo Xiao’s reaction, the Immortal could not help but chuckle. “Stay here, and eat the food!” he ordered him with laughter as he vanished again from the room.

Luo Xiao hesitated for a moment before he tiptoed towards the door. He pressed his ear against the door to hear if there was anyone outside but he only heard the bustling sounds that came from the restaurant on the first floor.

He then opened the door and looked around with hesitation before he nimbly snuck down the stairs and into the restaurant.

The restaurant was packed. It was one of the most upscale restaurants in town, so it was always busy, and during this busy period Luo Xiao snuck out.

When he was outside, he heaved a massive sigh of relief and started running away. Yet, not long after, he accidentally ran into a large burly man causing him to fall to the ground.

When he fell to the ground, a small yelp escaped his lips, and he felt a bit of pain on his rear from falling.

“You disgusting bottomfeeder, did you just try to rob me of my gold coins?!” the man yelled out loud when he saw that someone ran into him, and his loud words caused Luo Xiao to flinch back from fear.

“No, sir! Sorry, I was just inattentive and ran into you; I am very sorry,” he apologized while standing up.

His soft voice and his beautiful appearance caused the upset man to hesitate for a moment, but then greed appeared in his eyes. Such a lovely little boy could be sold for a lot of money to a noblewoman or even a demon as a boy toy.

“Little boy, you have injured me and tried to rob me! If you cannot compensate me, then don’t blame me for making you pay by making you a slave!”

Luo Xiao was petrified. He had no money to pay with, and he was unaware of what he should do. He had only bumped into the man, but now it had caused such a big disturbance. He even started to regret leaving the inn.

Luo Xiao dropped his head; he did not know what to do. His family was gone, his friends were dead, the life he had known would never to be the same again, and now he was caught in one disaster after another.

Tears welled up in his eyes, and his nose felt stuffy, but he forced the tears back.

Just as the burly man took a step forward to grab him and claim his slave, a ray of light shone out. Suddenly a blood-curdling scream was heard.

The burly man who had reached out for Luo Xiao shot backward as fast as lightning, and then he saw his hand was missing; it had been cleanly sliced off.

“Who dares?!” he exclaimed with a roar, but then his eyes landed on a man that seemed as if a god had descended to the mundane world. This man was leisurely walking forward, and his eyes were dark and unfathomable.

“I told you to stay at the inn, did I not?” he asked with a soft, gentle voice, yet every word caused Luo Xiao’s hairs to stand on end. This man was obviously upset with him.

“My lord, do you know this kid?” the man who had lost his hand was unwilling to let it go just like this, but he also knew that if he were not careful, then he would lose more than his hand.

“He belongs to me, do you have a problem?” the Immortal replied, raising an eyebrow when he looked at the handless man.

“No! No problem at all,” the one-handed man said as he retreated even further.

Without paying any attention to them, the Immortal hoisted up the young boy and draped him over his shoulder before he returned to the inn. All along the way, he said nothing, making Luo Xiao feel even more uneasy than before.

 

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