Lin’s tears were like a trough of cold water thrown onto my heated brain. It made me realize what I was doing. I was casually talking about taking lives. Good? Evil? What right did I have to judge them? For all I knew of Cultivator society, this might be the moral compass they lived by. The moral compass they had grown up with. The only one they knew.
Was it the fault of the woman trying to fuck herself to death on me while drooling? Was it the fault of the society that had raised her? I didn’t know. I didn’t care.
What I did know, was that if I followed through on my impulse and killed her, I would violate the morals I had lived by in my previous life. I would start living by the creed the Yin Demon Sect followed.
Then? Then what would be the difference between them and me? Why should I live while they perished?
Was my belief in the Kama-sutra really so fickle? A little pain and I was ready to abandon it and become a cold-blooded murderer – its message of love forgotten?
Looking into Lin’s eyes, I realized that it wasn’t. I wasn’t.
Now that I was sober, I didn’t want blood on my hands.
Grabbing her ass, I pushed the woman off me. My cock exited her with a wet ‘schloop’ and she collapsed onto the stone bed like a marionette with its strings cut – unconscious.
Suddenly, my face was enveloped in soft, warm flesh as Lin buried my head in her ample chest.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you…” she kept muttering as I felt something warm and wet spatter on my forehead. The liquid trailed down the side of my nose and dropped on my upper lip. Instinctively, I put out my tongue to lick it.
“Aah!” Lin cried out as she stepped back at the sensation of my tongue accidentally touching the valley of her chest.
I liked my upper lip. The salty taste of her tears combined with the coppery tang of my dried blood.
The both of us looked at each other in silence.
She was the first to break our stare-down by furiously rubbing her eyes with the back of her forearm. When she removed her arm, the skin around her eyes was red – as was her nose and her swollen cheek.
“Who else knows that we are here?” I asked her.
She sniffed sharply to clear her nose and replied, “N-no one knows. Senior sister brought you here secretly.”
“Is there somewhere safer than this?”
She nodded. “My room.”
“Won’t the people outside see me?”
“No one is there now. Everyone is at the initiation ceremony for the new recruits.”
“New recruits?” I began to ask, then I realised. “Oh…” she was referring to the females that had been on that ill-fated carriage to the Moonlight Sword Sect.
I was slightly hesitant to trust Lin and leave the room. Right now, I might be a little stronger than her but the moment we stepped out of this room, I would be in her power. She could lead me right to the guardhouse and I wouldn’t know.
Then I realized with a shock how stupid that line of reasoning was. She could have run out the moment I turned the tables on her senior sister and called for reinforcements. Instead, she had tried to persuade me to let her go. She had trusted me despite her sister’s words that I was from that whatever Yang Demon Sect… which if I was guessing correctly was the male equivalent of this sect.
My actions had been even more damning, what with the way I was siphoning off her senior sister’s cultivation. I had stolen some of hers as well. Why the hell was she trusting me?
I didn’t know… but it made no sense to doubt her. So, I nodded.
Lin bent down and shouldered the unresponsive form of her senior sister in a fireman’s carry and we made it out of the cave.
The moment we exited, I was stunned by the sight that met my eyes.
Silver… The entire world was dyed silver by the moonlight. Moonlight that cascaded down from a moon that covered half the sky.
I stood there dumbstruck, staring up at the sky. Seeing one brought so close – close enough to touch filled me with a primal awe of the heavenly bodies that our ancestors had passed down through our instincts.
Lin’s urgent pull on my arm shocked me out of my fugue state. “How?” I blurted out as I followed her as we made our way through the maze of silver buildings, on a silver pathway, up a silver mountain.
“The sect protecting formation.” She replied. “It encases this entire mountain in an illusory barrier. Look –” she said as she pointed at the horizon as we hurried along.
I followed her direction and peered at the distance. We were around the middle of the mountain which had been terraced into levels – of increasing importance, I’m sure – and when I looked into the distance, I could see a long way over the forests that surrounded us.
According to Liu Yang’s memories, there was only one forest of such a size near his hometown: The Viridian Forest. He had never heard of there being a solitary mountain in the middle of it.
“Look closely at the edges where the forest ends and the mountain begins,” exhorted Lin.
Squinting, I made out a shimmer in the air that – now that I looked carefully – surrounded the mountain on all sides.
Judging by my expression that I had noticed it, Lin explained, “It is an illusory grand formation that hides our sect’s appearance from the world. It also magnifies the moon, letting us harvest the essence of moonlight from it.”
“Moonlight essence? Aren’t you the Yin Demon Sect? Isn’t moonlight essence something the Moonlight Sword Sect would need?”
“Yes,” she nodded, “They are our biggest customers.”
By the time we reached Lin’s quarters, unopposed and undetected, my mind had been opened to the decayed morals of this society.
Righteous path? Bah. Sham path more likely.
The Yin Demon Sect with their illusion array were the largest source of the Moonlight essence the Moonlight Sword Sect used to cultivate, so, the two sects were in close collaboration.
The Moonlight Sword Sect as the righteous sect governed the people in their region of control outwardly while letting the Yin Demon Sect raid various villages and cities from time to time to get the men they needed for their cultivation.
So, who were the people to turn to for protection against the big, bad, evil sect? Why, the righteous Moonlight Sword Sect, of course? The general populace was absolutely happy to accept the heavy taxes demanded by the sect in exchange for their ‘protection’.
What? You won’t pay the taxes? Are you crazy? Don’t you remember what happened to the last village that didn’t pay their taxes? The Moonlight Sword Sect stopped protecting them and the Demonesses, seeing their weakness immediately attacked. They were wiped out to the last man. As for the women, they were left there to spread the news of their cruelty. Do whatever you want, but I for one am paying. Money? I can earn it… but I have only one life.
If one of the officers began to chafe under the rule of the sect and get troublesome, he could expect a visit from a Demoness late in the night. The next morning, his dry corpse would be found in his bed.
Were there no virtuous people in the entire region, you ask? Of course, there were. They just never climbed very high in the hierarchy of the Moonlight Sword Sect.
Actually, the ordinary disciples of the sect weren’t told about the cooperation with the Demonesses. They cultivated, ignorant of the fact that their cultivation resources were soaked with the blood of the people they had sworn to protect.
As they rose higher up the echelons of the sect, they were screened for the appropriate character to govern the sect. The greedy bastards who cared about nothing except for their own benefit were given the administrative posts while the ones with a conscience were sent off to guard the various cities and towns.
Of course, those cities and towns would be attacked by the Demonesses and the Cultivator would perish heroically, slaying ten times the number of opponents. Why did the corpses of the Demonesses look like old women, you ask? It’s because they practice an evil form of cultivation which makes them look beautiful… when they die, they show their true colours: ugly old hags.
In any case, the corpses of a cultivator and an ordinary old woman are difficult to distinguish. So, even if you have doubts, what can you do? Especially since the tradition is to burn the corpses as soon as possible to ‘purify’ their evil.
In return for all the highly lucrative male cultivators, the Yin Demon Sect allowed the Moonlight Sword Sect to recruit disciples with talent across the territory. Only, once every four years, they would ‘raid’ the carriage and abduct the potential disciples. If you were a prospective disciple, you had to pray that your year wouldn’t be one of those.
Sadly, for Liu Yang, it had been one of those.