Sekarang sudah ada bahasa sunda dan jawa di fitur google translate, mudah-mudahan ada tambahan bahasa daerah lagi ke sistem google translate :)

Cherry Blossoms Upon a Wintry Sword Chapter 21-30

Chapter 21: Fleeing

On the way back, Xie Zhiyao had a very complicated look on his face. In his heart, he was repeatedly thinking of how to explain the matter of killing his own brother to Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei had lived on the Kunlun Mountains since childhood and he was well protected by his brothers and sister. It was normal for him to not have seen these kinds of dangerous things. As Xie Zhiyao kept thinking about it, he grew more and more concerned. He kept looking at Lin Rufei and several times he debated on not talking. 

Lin Rufei’s expression remained unchanged. He was looking around and took great interest in the surroundings. Xie Zhiyao sighed in his heart. In the end, Lin Rufei gave him face as a friend. In order not to embarrass him, he deliberately pretended to look interested in the surrounding scenery. 

He didn’t know that Lin Rufei was currently in a good mood. The bloody scene he saw just now had long been put behind him. Lin Rufei, who had never traveled alone on his sword, was like a child who had found an interesting toy. His eyes and eyebrows dazzled with curiosity and he didn’t even notice the strange look on Xie Zhiyao’s face.

They returned to the Xie residence by sword and the two of them landed in Xie Zhiyao’s courtyard. Xie Zhiyao had a lot on his mind, but Lin Rufei was not yet satisfied.

The servants in the house had long been accustomed to the appearance of their third young master being covered in blood. When they passed by Xie Zhiyao they didn’t even bat an eyelid.

During the time when Xie Zhiyao was bathing, Lin Rufei waited in the front hall and the servants brought him freshly brewed hot tea in a very respectful attitude.

After about half an incense, Xie Zhiyao, who had changed into clean clothes, appeared in front of Lin Rufei. He sat down beside Lin Rufei, picked up a tea bowl, and downed it. Then he took in a long breath, “I’m sorry that you had to see all these things in my family.”

Lin Rufei said thoughtfully, “Is it convenient to say?”

Xie Zhiyao self-deprecatingly said: “There is nothing inconvenient. If outsiders knew about this kind of vile family matter, it would just be shameful.”

Lin Rufei had already known some of the old matters regarding the Xie family from Gu Xuandu, so he was already prepared: “If you don’t want to talk about it, you don’t have to force yourself.” In the end, he was only an outsider.

Xie Zhiyao said: “There is no harm in talking about it.” 

He waved his hand and closed the door. He proceeded to pour himself a cup of hot tea and only then did he start talking about the Xie family.

Xie Zhiyao spoke carelessly, making it seem like it was just a trivial matter. However, the more Lin Rufei listened, the creepier he felt. Miaojiang refining Gu was taking a bunch of poisonous insects and putting them into a jar. The insects would then kill each other and the one that survived until the end was deemed the Gu King. The Xie family also refined Gu, but the ones that they used were the descendants who wanted to become the Xie family head.  

(t/n: might not have explained it last time when mentioning the Gu king, but Gu is basically like a type of poison. You can read more about it here)

“It was probably hard for the Xie family ancestors to come up with such a method.” Xie Zhiyao said self-deprecatingly, “Other families are counting on their children and grandchildren to branch out and spread leaves. Only our Xie family can’t wait to have a few sons less—”

Although Xie Zhiyao’s talent was good, his mother passed away early, and he even lost the power of his mother’s clan. He was not favored by his father and barely received any attention in the Xie family. His food and clothing expenses were even less than the popular steward by his elder brother’s side. Logically speaking, because of this, he should have nothing to do with the family head position, but the head of the Xie family said that as long as one of his sons could survive then he was the real head of the Xie family.

Lin Rufei said, “What your father means is that you must participate?”

“Yes.” Xie Zhiyao said in a deep voice, “We don’t have the right to withdraw.” He gritted his teeth and continued in a hateful voice, “Either you win or you die.”

Lin Rufei was instantly dumbfounded. He still thought too well of the Xie family. He thought that as long as they didn’t compete, then they were safe. 

Xie Zhiyao continued, “Fortunately, soon everything will be over.” He smiled indifferently, “Now there is only me and my youngest brother left. Either I kill him or he kills me.”

After Xie Zhiyao finished talking, he let out a long sigh, and leaned back in his chair, as if he had lost his strength. He turned his head to look at Lin Rufei: “I’m done talking about me, let’s talk about you too. I haven’t seen you for so many years, you have changed a lot.”

Lin Rufei then spoke vaguely about how he had met a senior on the Kunlun Mountains some years ago and after that, he was able to control the sword. However, he was still not considered a swordsman.

Xie Zhiyao listened carefully and when Lin Rufei finished, he gave a self-deprecating laugh: “Xiao Jiu, I may not have told you before, although you can not practice sword, on Kunlun, I envied you the most.”

Lin Rufei laughed: “You also said ‘on Kunlun.’ If this was in Jianghu, would you still envy the me who can’t even lift a sword?”

Xie Zhiyao said, “You have a point.”

As the two continued to chat, Xie Zhiyao’s expression slightly changed, “Someone is here, Xiao Jiu should head back first.” 

Before he finished speaking, the wooden door to Xie Zhiyao’s room slammed open and turned to dust.

“Xie Zhiyao.” The visitor was dressed in a black outfit similar to the one Xie Zhiyao was wearing and even his appearance was similar to Xie Zhiyao. He said nonchalantly, “Father asked for you.”

Xie Zhiyao’s face was gloomy and he called out the name of the visitor: “Xie Ji, what are you doing here?”

“It’s because father has orders so he sent me to call you.” Xie Ji was most likely the younger brother that Xie Zhiyao had talked about. He noticed Lin Rufei who was sitting next to Xie Zhiyao and unrestrainedly looked up and down. He probably noticed that Lin Rufei did not have any sword intent on him and was like a mortal, so a mocking laugh came out: “Yo, you already found a new servant? His appearance is pretty good, much better than that Lv Er. But unfortunately, you will die soon, it is a pity that such a beautiful……”

Xie Zhiyao scolded: “Xie Ji, shut up! This is—”

He did not finish his sentence when a sharp sound was heard slashing through the air. Xie Ji, who was arrogant a minute ago, let out a scream. He covered his mouth and fell to the ground. When he raised his head again, his whole face was covered in blood. A hideous cut was made on his lips, if he didn’t close his mouth quick enough, most likely a piece of his tongue would have been cut off. 

This was a move made by Gu Xuandu. Only, no one was able to see the grim-faced man behind Lin Rufei. They only thought that Lin Rufei, who was sitting expressionlessly in his seat, was the one who did it.

“You……” Xie Ji raised his head with difficulty. He looked at Lin Rufei with a frightened look and said vaguely, “You dare to cause trouble in the Xie family…… “

“You idiot!” Xie Zhiyao was livid. He really wanted to rush over and tear off the mouth from his blabbermouth brother’s face, “This is the fourth son of the Kunlun Lin family, Lin Rufei!”

Xie Ji was stunned and he wretchedly got up from the ground. With great difficulty, he put on a pleasing smile. Just as he was about to apologize to Lin Rufei, he saw Lin Rufei raise his hand, indicating that he did not need to speak.

“Isn’t the family head looking for you or something, you should go first.” Lin Rufei said lightly, “Don’t make your father wait.”

That was an understatement. However, with blood on the ground, Xie Ji felt a sense of horror at the man in front of him. The handsome young man in front of him, who he couldn’t see the slightest sword intent on, was pale and like an Asura who could take the heads of people while laughing.

“Go.” Xie Zhiyao also noticed Lin Rufei’s displeasure. He walked forwards a few steps and reached out to subdue his brother. He turned his head to Lin Rufei and said, “Xiao Jiu, I’m really sorry, you should go back to your room first to rest.”

Lin Rufei nodded.

Xie Ji, who was arrogant and domineering a few moments ago, did not dare raise his head at all. He was carried away by Xie Zhiyao like a poor little chicken. Even when he left, he didn’t dare look at Lin Rufei again.

After the two left, Lin Rufei also prepared to go back to the room.

Gu Xuandu said behind him: “Is Xiao Jiu not happy? I was a bit heavy-handed, but that Xie Ji was looking for death when he dared to say such words. I have given the Lin family face by keeping him alive.”

Lin Rufei was puzzled: “Why should I be unhappy?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Xiao Jiu has lived on Kunlun since he was young, it’s normal that he doesn’t like these bloody things.”

Lin Rufei thought for a while, “Around the time when I was ten years old, people on Kunlun knew that the Lin family had a fourth son who couldn’t wield a sword.”

The Lin family’s children, whether it was Lin Minzhi or Lin Weirui, were already amazing at swordplay when they were ten years old. Especially Lin Bianyu, who was hardly a match for anyone on the entire Kunlun Mountains.

At the age of ten, when Lin Rufei was celebrating his birthday, the people who attended his birthday didn’t see a trace of sword intent on Lin Rufei’s body. It was because of this that the rumor of Lin Rufei being a waste started to spread on the Kunlun Mountains.

When Lin Bianyu knew this, he carried Tian Xiao and found all the people who had gossiped. He carried them to Lin Rufei and cut off their tongues one by one.

That was the first time Lin Rufei saw blood and his sister was worried that he would be frightened. But in fact, looking at those wailing people and smelling the scent of blood in the air, Lin Rufei, who was held in Lin Weirui’s arms, was indifferent. His eyes did not move away for a moment.

Later, when he thought about it, Lin Rufei felt that it was probably because of the Lin family bloodline. However, he didn’t know that when his second brother, Lin Bianyu, saw blood for the first time, he was stunned for several days before he actually recovered.

After listening to Lin Rufei’s story, Gu Xuandu’s expression became a bit strange, “That’s right, you shouldn’t be afraid of blood.”

Lin Rufei blinked, revealing a bit of slyness: “But in the end, Xie Ji is Xie Zhiyao’s opponent. You have done my friend a favor by injuring him.”

Gu Xuandu said, “Oh. If I had known then I would have hit a little harder.”

The two stared at each other and then burst out in laughter.

Lin Rufei slowly and leisurely returned to the room, but he didn’t see Fu Hua and Yu Rui. After asking the other servants, he learned that his two maids had left to go shopping.

It was a bit strange that the two went out without notifying him. 

Lin Rufei felt bored just sitting in the room. Originally, he wanted to go out for a stroll too but he was also worried that there might be accidents on Xie Zhiyao’s side. Although Xie Ji didn’t look like he could be Xie Zhiyao’s opponent, he must’ve had some means if he was able to survive for this long. 

Gu Xuandu saw Lin Rufei’s restlessness and proposed: “How a about……we go and take a peek?”

Lin Rufei said, “We can still peek?”

“Naturally.” Gu Xuandu said, “As long as you don’t want to, no one can see you. Do you want to go?”

Lin Rufei’s eyes lit up: “Yes.”

A few moments later, Lin Rufei and Gu Xuandu appeared on the beam of the Xie family head’s study. They leaned down to look at the three people who were talking below.

The head of the Xie family was named Xie Wanlin. His cultivation had reached the eighth level and had been the head for about a hundred years. Unfortunately, surpassing the eighth level was very difficult to achieve. In the past hundred years, he had been in seclusion several times and as a result, his life expectancy had been exhausted. No wonder they were busy at this time selecting the next family head.

The Xie family had a large number of children. There were five people with direct lineage. However, the children often had an accidental death. Plus or minus, now the first son and concubine son, the total was only around six people.

Xie Zhiyao was the third son and Xie Ji was the youngest. The two were currently standing in front of Xie Wanlin’s desk. They had their heads bowed as they listened to him speak.

Xie Wanlin most likely did not see the cut that Gu Xuandu made to Xie Ji’s face, since he didn’t even bother asking. 

“Not only did you not search for Lv Er, but you also cover for him?” Xie Wanlin pointed at Xie Zhiyao and cursed, “He is a scourge, you dare protect such a demon, I should really kill you!”

Xie Ji hissed in pain but did not forget to pour oil on the fire. He smiled cheekily: “Father, how can third brother have the heart to lay his hand on his servant. Although that boy has a nasty mouth, his appearance and body are one of the best. Third brother usually does not get close to women, having some fun with the servant is also a normal thing.”

Xie Wanlin said angrily: “Some fun? If it was just for fun, would he let him enter the Xie family’s study and take away such a valuable thing?”

Xie Ji said: “Then I don’t know. However, third brother, don’t tell me you have your eyes on that cheap little plaything?” 

Xie Zhiyao listened to Xie Wanlin and Xie Ji one after another. His expression did not waver, he simply lowered his head and showed a tamed look.  

Xie Wanlin said coldly, “If you can’t find Lv Er, then you can stay in the ancestral hall for another night.”

“But father—” Xie Zhiyao frowned, “Tomorrow, I will have a sword competition with sixth brother, the ancestral hall……”

“Then find Lv Er!” Xie Wanlin roared. His fist came down heavily and broke the laburnum wood table into dust. He glared with red eyes, like an enraged beast,  “Otherwise, get your ass to the ancestral hall and reflect.”

Xie Zhiyao’s throat moved slightly and he finally squeezed out the word “okay” from his mouth.

Xie Ji was laughing gleefully on the side.

“Go.” After Xie Wanlin finished fuming, he reverted back to being an amiable father figure, “Do your best in tomorrow’s competition.” He said this lightly, as if it was just an insignificant sword competition and not a battle of life and death for his only two remaining sons.

Xie Zhiyao and Xie Ji both bowed and withdrew, leaving Xie Wanlin alone in the study.

Xie Wanlin sat alone in the chair. He coldly looked at the broken desk in front of him and started quietly chanting some incomprehensible sentences to himself. It was like casting a vicious curse and anyone who saw this scene would feel uncomfortable. 

Gu Xuandu saw that there was no more drama to see so he took Lin Rufei and left the study.

After leaving the study, the two went to Xie Zhiyao’s courtyard and saw him sitting silently inside the room. His eyes stared off into the distance and no one knew what he was thinking about.

Xie Zhiyao murmured, most likely he sensed Lin Rufei approaching, “Actually, my father really doesn’t want me to win.” 

Lin Rufei could see that Xie Zhiyao and his father did not have a good relationship. No, not even just a bad relationship. Listening to Xie Ji’s tone, the ancestral hall was obviously not just a simple ancestral hall. It would certainly affect the next day’s competition with Xie Ji. However, looking at Xie Wanlin’s attitude, he did not care about Xie Zhiyao’s life.  

In the face of such injustice, Xie Zhiyao behaved very calmly. His hand clasped the bone sword at his waist and said indifferently like a piece of ice: “Rufei, you go back first, I still have some business.”

Lin Rufei said, “You’re going to the ancestral hall?”

Xie Zhiyao was surprised: “How do you know that?”

Lin Rufei said, “I guessed.”

Xie Zhiyao smiled bitterly: “Yes. I will be going to the ancestral hall to be punished.”

Lin Rufei said, “What exactly did you do wrong? Are you being punished because of Lv Er?”

Xie Zhiyao said indifferently: “Even if there is no Lv Er, there is still Hong Er[1] and Bai Er[2]. Give a dog a bad name, then hang him[3]. Lv Er is just an excuse anyway.”

Lin Rufei could not understand why Xie Wanlin disliked his own sons so much. Tempting them to kill each other and also digging a hole for Xie Zhiyao. It looked like he really wanted Xie Zhiyao to die immediately.

As a son, Xie Zhiyao was defenseless in the face of his father’s recrimination. He stroked the snow-white bone sword at his waist, as if he were drowning and had grabbed the last straw. He should have died in this fight long ago, but only this sword, gifted by his mother’s clan, gave him hope to live.

“I’m leaving, and you should be more careful these days.” Xie Zhiyao said, “I always feel that something is not right.”

Lin Rufei nodded and watched Xie Zhiyao leave. Then he suddenly remembered something and asked offhandedly, “By the way, the coffin that was sent out of the Xie residence this morning, which brother of yours was it?”

“Hmm? This morning?” Xie Zhiyao thought for a moment, “It might be my fourth brother…… he was killed by Xie Ji just the day before, but I’m not certain.”

Lin Rufei was naturally unclear as well. He simply described the scene he saw this morning to Xie Zhiyao. However, who knew that Xie Zhiyao was also full of bewilderment after listening. He didn’t know what had happened. 

“Strange.” Xie Zhiyao said, “The description you gave of the dead, I have no recollection of. My elder brother died under the sword and has been buried, naturally, it’s not possible for him to be entirely dried up.”

Lin Rufei said, “Then why is it like this?”

Xie Zhiyao shook his head.

Both of them noticed the strange aura. The undercurrent in the Xie residence was surging. And under the calm and waveless surface of the water, lurked a human-eating monster, and it could swallow the entire Xie residence with one bite. 

The Xie Zhiyao on the mountain was hard to recognize and when Lin Rufei suddenly appeared, it seemed to have given him some warning. 

“No matter, when I kill Xie Ji tomorrow, things will be over.” Xie Zhiyao let out a long sigh. Some fatigue surfaced between his eyebrows and he reached out to rub the corners of his eyes. He forced himself into high spirits, “I will go first, Xiao Jiu, you should be careful tonight. It’s best if you don’t leave the room.” 

Lin Rufei said goodbye and didn’t forget to ask Xie Zhiyao what was so special about the ancestral hall.

Xie Zhiyao smiled bitterly and said that the Xie family’s ancestral hall had always been used to punish people. Inside the ancestral hall, there was a special stone. Once a person enters, they would feel their meridians break followed by excruciating pain. When he spent the night inside, even if he did not faint, he would feel exhausted the next day. 

Lin Rufei wanted to say something but stopped himself, Xie Zhiyao had already turned around to leave. His back carried indifference and when Lin Rufei saw this, he let out a sigh. 

“Tormented by this Xie family, being able to still continue really isn’t easy.” After Xie Zhiyao left, Lin Rufei started to complain. “To continue a famous family, having heirs is important. However, for him to choose a family head, it was actually getting rid of a few sons.”

Gu Xuandu said: “Refining Gu isn’t that easy, moreover…….” 

Lin Rufei turned around: “Moreover?”

Gu Xuandu said: “Moreover, this matter of the Xie family is not that simple.”

Lin Rufei said: “What does that mean?”

Gu Xuandu did not answer but instead told Lin Rufei to go back into the house to see if Fu Hua and Yu Rui had returned. Lin Rufei didn’t understand. Now that it was dark, the two girls, who went out shopping, should have come back, but after listening to Gu Xuandu’s words, the situation seemed to have changed.

Lin Rufei hurried back into the house and knocked on Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s door. No one answered so he forced the doors open. The rooms were empty, Fu Hua and Yu Rui were nowhere to be seen. 

When Lin Rufei saw this, he quickly released paper cranes that could contact them from his dimensional ring. However, who knew that when the paper cranes were released, they simply flew in circles and refused to fly out—it was like they couldn’t find their targets. 

Lin Rufei’s expression sank. He knew that Fu Hua and Yu Rui must be in trouble. And it looked like since this morning, there had been no movements from them. He didn’t know if it had happened inside the Xie residence or that they were taken captive when they were out shopping. 

“Don’t be anxious, the people who have moved them are certainly not coming for them.” Gu Xuandu saw Lin Rufei’s anxious look and spoke out to soothe him.

“Then they’re coming after me?” Lin Rufei said, “If that’s the case, why didn’t they just go after me? What’s the point of moving my two maids?”

Gu Xuandu smiled, “Of course it is because everyone knows that the fourth son of the Lin family has been unable to practice swords since he was young—his hands are powerless.”

Lin Rufei frowned slightly.

Gu Xuandu continued: “The two maids have already reached the fifth level and cannot be handled by ordinary people. With the two of them protecting you, you can leave at any time. Now that the maids have gone missing, the you that cannot practice the sword, have been trapped inside the Xie residence. Look, even the paper cranes can’t contact them, it seems that the person has made preparations for everything.”  

Lin Rufei also figured this out. He turned around, sat down in the room, and poured a cup of hot tea before taking a sip: “What’s the use of keeping me here?”

“This, I don’t know.” Gu Xuandu laughed, “There are always some ideas.”

Lin Rufei smoothed his cuffs, “Then wouldn’t I be waiting for that person to come to me now?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Waiting for the rabbit[4] is a good method. That person is aiming at you so he will not do anything to those two young girls. Besides, once Xie Zhiyao wins tomorrow, the fight for the Xie residence’s family head spot will be settled.”

As long as Xie Zhiyao wins and succeeds in killing Xie Ji, even if Xie Wanlin was not willing, he would have to admit this fact.

Lin Rufei also figured this out. In this residence, those that wanted to attack him could be counted with one hand. After a little thought, he could easily guess who did it.  

But even after he had guessed who did it, he did not understand why he had done it. After all, the Lin and Xie family were still considered old acquaintances. Once he made a move, it was like declaring war against the Lin family. 

“Say, do you think Xie Zhiyao can win?” Lin Rufei suddenly asked.

“Win?” Gu Xuandu recalled the word for a moment and returned quite profoundly, “As long as he still uses that sword, he will definitely win.”

“How can you tell?” Lin Rufei didn’t understand.

Gu Xuandu did not speak but gave a meaningful smile.

Lin Rufei was puzzled by his smile: “What are you smiling for?”

Gu Xuandu said, “I just remembered a poem.”

Lin Rufei said, “What poem?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Nowadays I rely on my steed by the color of its hair ……“

Lin Rufei picked up the next line: “Green-eared bay horse earns money to kill people?[5]“

Gu Xuandu said, “If only the color of the hair is used to identify the steed, even a steed like the green-eared bay horse will be omitted. Say, do you think Lv Er is actually a steed that is kept by Xie Zhiyao?” 

Lin Rufei thought for a moment and curved his eyes into a light smile: “Then this steed of his, must have two horse bits[6] in his mouth.”

Otherwise, he was afraid that the master would be angrily flung off this horse. 

********

The author has something to say: 

Gu Xuandu: Who doesn’t want to have a cute little pony.

Lin Rufei: You want one?

Gu Xuandu: I already have one.

Lin Rufei: But I don’t have one.

Gu Xuandu: I don’t mind if you ride me once in a while.

Lin Rufei: ? ? ? ? ? ?

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Hong Er means Red Ears. 

[2] Bai Er means White Ears. 

[3] Idiom meaning “if you want to punish someone, you can always find excuses” 

[4] Waiting idly for opportunities. 

[5] Don’t know much about Chinese poems, but here is the original text 只今恃骏凭毛色, 绿耳骅骝赚杀人 and here is what it means “It is a metaphor to see whether a person has real talent rather than just how he looks.” 

[6] The thing in the horse’s mouth. 

Chapter 22: Xie Wanlin

The sky was getting dark. The birds still haven’t returned to their nests and rested on the eaves, leaving behind a black silhouette. The watchman passes by and his sound echoes along the stone-paved street.

The red candle in the room had already been burning for a long time, however, Lin Rufei did not feel sleepy at all. He leaned against the bed and took a breather. He had encountered too many things today and his fragile body couldn’t withstand it. After the night began, he started to cough again. Good thing it wasn’t too serious. He barely suppressed the itch in his throat since he didn’t want to cough to the point of breathlessness. 

Gu Xuandu sat on the edge of the bed. He stared at the abnormal redness on Lin Rufei’s pale cheeks and those thin shoulders that couldn’t stop shaking. He thoughtfully asked, “Do you want to drink some hot water?” 

Lin Rufei nodded.

Gu Xuandu took the hot water and pressed it to Lin Rufei’s lips. He watched him swallow it in one mouthful.  

Lin Rufei drank the water and the itch in his throat was slightly relieved. However, his body was still weak, and could only lean back against the bed to rest. He said quietly: “Alas, this body of mine is really troublesome.” It was just a little bit of wind and he became sick again. 

Gu Xuandu did not say anything. He simply reached out his hand to probe Lin Rufei’s forehead. His mind was finally at ease after he made sure that it wasn’t a fever.  

When they descended from the mountains, the Lin family prepared a lot of medicine for Lin Rufei and most of them were cough medicines. Lin Rufei took a dose with hot water and felt much better. 

“Still not sleepy at this late hour?” Gu Xuandu asked.

“Well……” Lin Rufei said in a low voice, “I’m a little worried about Fu Hua and Yu Rui, so I can’t sleep too well.”

“It will be fine.” Gu Xuandu comforted, “That person is coming after you. Fu Hua and Yu Rui are just hostages to control you. If that person really wanted to take Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s life, he wouldn’t have bothered taking them away silently.”  

As the two were talking, a thunderstorm rang out outside the window and it was followed by a sudden downpour. Together with the thunder, it enveloped the entire Xie residence in a curtain of water.

The rain pitter-pattered, however, it could not conceal the slow approaching footsteps. Lin Rufei turned his head to look at the door and he saw the locked wooden door being pushed open. In just a few moments, the lock on the door could no longer withstand the huge force and broke off with a creak.  

Just as the door was opened, the violent wind and rain entered with great momentum, turning the whole room into a mess. 

Lin Rufei raised his eyes. He saw a black figure standing at the door, but he couldn’t see clearly against the light. However, Lin Rufei had already guessed the identity of the person and he calmly called out: “Family head Xie.” 

The man stepped forward, raised his hand, and lit the candle that had been blown out by the wind and rain. The expressionless face under the candlelight was none other than the Xie family head, Xie Wanlin, whom he had seen in the daytime.  

“Family head Xie is visiting at this late hour, I wonder what is the matter?” Although Lin Rufei had guessed a couple of things, he did not expect Xie Wanlin to visit suddenly at this time.

Xie Wanlin said, “I heard that the fourth son of the Lin family is weak and unable to practice swords since he was young. I thought it was a rumor and didn’t think it was true until I saw it with my own eyes.”

Lin Rufei coughed lowly and asked in a scratchy voice, “So what if it is?”

Xie Wanlin casually found a chair and sat down. His gaze unrestrainedly sized up Lin Rufei: “Jianghu is treacherous. The Lin family has allowed a sick and weak son, who knows nothing, to travel to the bottom of the mountain, I guess they are also prepared for the possibility of accidents.”

Lin Rufei calmly looked back. Xie Wanlin should have been full of confidence, but when he was stared at by Lin Rufei’s light-colored eyes, he felt an inexplicable urge to retreat. This feeling of retreat came and went quickly therefore Xie Wanlin thought he was probably just overthinking it. After all, the youth sitting on the bed was still coughing and did not have any sword Qi on him. He was weak like an ant that could be easily crushed.

“There were indeed accidents.” Lin Rufei said, “It just never occurred to me that family head Xie was trying to be that accident.”

“Hahahahaha.” Xie Wanlin laughed, “Lin gongzi is overthinking. In fact, as long as you cooperate, Xie mou[1] would naturally not make a move against Lin gongzi.” 

Lin Rufei said, “What if I don’t cooperate?”

Xie Wanlin said indifferently: “Those two beautiful maids have been following you for many years right? If they died, then Lin gongzi will certainly be sad.” 

Lin Rufei’s gaze turned cold and he stared at Xie Wanlin in silence.

Xie Wanlin didn’t care and continued, “In fact, I have to blame my unfilial son for this matter.”

Outside the window, thunder still sounded and heavy rain continued to fall. The candlelight in the room was weak, like fireflies in the grass as it flickered brightly. Xie Wanlin was originally born with a benevolent appearance, but at this time, this benevolence carried a hint of eeriness. 

Lin Rufei leaned against the bed with a restrained smile: “Oh? Xie Zhiyao has to take the blame when you were the one who made a move against my maids?”

Xie Wanlin said, “That’s just the way it is.”

He took off the sword hanging by his waist and slammed it against the table beside him with a snap. He said in a cold voice, “If it wasn’t for the sudden appearance of Xie Zhiyao’s mother’s clan, then he would have long died under the sword of Kongcheng. I wouldn’t even have to make my move.”

This was a very interesting statement. If anything, it was the custom of the Xie family to let their sons kill each other, but Xie Wanlin was so biased towards his eldest son. If that was the case, then what was the point of having such a fight?  

Xie Wanlin obviously guessed what Lin Rufei was thinking about and his face grew fierce: “Yes, if I could, I would like to kill him with my sword—along with that servant that he cares so much for.” 

Lin Rufei’s gaze moved towards the window and saw the curtain of rain covering the sky amidst the rolling thunder, he asked, “Lv Er? What exactly did he steal?”

“Ha, why don’t you take a guess?” When Xie Wanlin finished this sentence, he started to laugh again: “Steal? That servant is nothing but a mere mortal, what can he take from the study. He just heard something he shouldn’t have thus ran away.” His tone was gloomy, “They all should have died long ago, detestable, detestable!!”

As Xie Wanlin kept talking, he became angry again and his eyes gradually reddened: “My poor Kongcheng—”

“I know what you guys are thinking. You guys think I’m biased.” Xie Wanlin sneered and hammered his chest, “But aren’t human hearts biased anyway? Kongcheng has been by my side since he was young, I single-handedly brought him up. He should have been the next Xie family head. It’s all because of that evil creature, Xie Zhiyao!”  When he got to the emotional part, he actually roared. Then tears fell like rain and he cried out in sorrow: “My Kongcheng—not even a decent funeral was held before he was hastily buried. My poor Kongcheng—”

If it was said that Xie Wanlin was cruel, then he was really cruel. He couldn’t wait for Xie Zhiyao to die of a violent, immediate death. However, as far as Xie Kongcheng was concerned, Xie Wanlin was a qualified, kindhearted parent. Sadly, everyone had their own lives. Xie Kongcheng was unable to escape the calamity and had his life taken by Xie Zhiyao’s bone sword. 

In order to keep others from knowing these nasty things about the Xie family, the family members that have died in this competition were not able to hold a funeral. They could only be hastily buried in the night and even their place of burial was not allowed headstones. This was a huge blow to Xie Wanlin, who cherished Xie Kongcheng deeply.

Xie Wanlin’s old and sad appearance looked a little bit pitiful. But in the end, it proved a sentence: Those who were pitiful always had some insufferable sides. In his heart, he had only Xie Kongcheng as a son, but Xie Kongcheng still died under the sword of Xie Zhiyao.  

“Why didn’t you kill Xie Zhiyao?” Lin Rufei saw that Xie Wanlin looked indignant and wondered, “Your cultivation level is so much higher than Xie Zhiyao, it would be easy to kill him.”

“I would like to.” Xie Wanlin gritted his teeth and said, “Unfortunately, there are some things that can’t be done just because you would like to.”

It seemed that he may have some restrictions on his body making him unable to openly and honestly make a move against Xie Zhiyao. Instead, he would torment Xie Zhiyao even on the night before the duel. He drove Xie Zhiyao to the ancestral hall for punishment because he hoped that he would lose the competition with Xie Ji the next day. 

The thunder outside the window grew heavier as bright golden threads cut through the dark sky. It fell one after another, stinging the people’s eyes. 

The conversation inside the room continued.

Lin Rufei said, “You made a move against me just because I’m Xie Zhiyao’s best friend?”

“Oh, naturally it’s not just that. For you, well, you have another use.” Xie Wanlin smiled slyly, “If I were you, I’d be hoping that the person who wins was Xie Ji.”

Lin Rufei raised his eyebrows slightly.

Xie Wanlin said, “If the person who wins is Zhiyao, then Lin gongzi, you will be accompanying me.” As he said this, he laughed again. His mental state was obviously on the verge of collapse. He was crying and laughing like a madman without any of the dignity and solemnity he had when they first met. Who would have thought that Xie Wanlin, who was praised by outsiders, would be such a person? Lin Rufei did not feel afraid, he simply just sighed.

After Xie Wanlin finished his speech, his emotions gradually calmed down. He held his sword in his hand and looked far away. His gaze seemed to have passed through the rain curtain and into the distant night.  

Outside the room, the wind and thunder grew chaotic. Xie Wanlin suddenly murmured, “Xie Ji, what a fool.”

After he said this, Lin Rufei heard a miserable scream in the distance. However, this scream also felt like his imagination since it was soon completely buried in the frenzied sound of rain.

However, in an instant, Xie Wanlin seemed to have aged a few decades older. He stared out the window and rubbed his hand heavily on his sword. He gritted his teeth: “How could I have given birth to such a foolish person?”

It seemed that Xie Ji had lost.

Xie Zhiyao did not wait for the duel tomorrow. He had no respect for this father who wanted him dead. He did not obey his orders to stay in the ancestral hall all night and instead, took advantage of the fierce wind and rain to cut down Xie Ji with his sword, unexpectedly seizing the final victory.

This was beyond Lin Rufei’s expectations. At least in the daytime, Xie Zhiyao behaved respectfully to Xie Wanlin. But obviously, the one who could survive until the end was not as harmless as he appeared to be. 

The rain was still falling. Xie Wanlin turned his head back and landed his gaze on Lin Rufei.

If it was said that a while ago, he was looking at Lin Rufei like he was a piece of meat on a chopping board, then at this moment, Xie Wanlin was looking at Lin Rufei like he was a dead person. 

“Alas, they’re all lives. Lin gongzi, you can’t blame me.” Xie Wanlin murmured, “If you want to blame, blame that Xie Zhiyao……”

Lin Rufei covered his mouth and coughed lowly.

Xie Wanlin collected his expression and looked obsessively at the long sword in his hand. It was as if he was thinking about which part of Lin Rufei’s body should this sword pass through so that Lin Rufei could die a painful death.

The entire Gu residence was trapped in boundless darkness. Only Lin Rufei’s room had a faint flicker of candlelight. It was like a trap to attract the fluttering moths. 

(t/n: no idea if the author made a typo on the Gu part… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

The moth in the rain ended up taking the bait.

He was dressed in black and completely blended into the night. The fierce rain washed away the traces of blood on his clothes, but it could not wash away his intense killing aura.

Under Xie Wanlin’s hateful gaze, Xie Zhiyao appeared at Lin Rufei’s door carrying the snow-white bone sword. His face was drenched into a deathly pale white by the rain, however, his black eyes were bright and frightening. 

Seeing Xie Wanlin sitting in front of Lin Rufei’s bed, Xie Zhiyao was not surprised. He raised his hand and threw a round object into the room. The object rumbled and rolled towards Xie Wanlin’s feet, but was kicked away by Xie Wanlin’s expressionless face.

The object was Xie Ji’s decapitated head. His eyes, which had lost their luster, were still reluctantly open and had panic and unease in them. Just like that, it rolled to the corner, picking up the dust on the ground. 

“Father.” Xie Zhiyao called out the title, “I won.”

Xie Wanlin raised his eyes to look at his last remaining son. However, there was no hint of joy in his eyes, only a viciousness that was about to spill over.

“Why are you not happy?” Xie Zhiyao smiled, “Everything is over. The Xie family will continue to prosper for another hundred years, shouldn’t you be happy?”

Xie Wanlin said, “Happy? I should be happy, but this Xie family is really disgusting, it’s better to be without it.”

Xie Zhiyao laughed so loudly that tears seemed to come out of his eyes. Xie Wanlin was livid: “What are you laughing at?!”

Xie Zhiyao said, “Father, you are really funny. If my elder brother had won the competition, I’m afraid you would be so happy that you would want to celebrate with a banquet. Why is it that when I win instead, it becomes too disgusting for the Xie family?” He lowered his head and looked at the bone sword in his hand. He spoke in a warm voice, “No wonder. After all, I am your least favorite son. It’s just a pity……”

Xie Wanlin said, “Pity?”

Xie Zhiyao’s voice turned cold as he looked at Xie Wanlin: “It’s a pity that with the current you, you can’t possibly destroy the Xie family.”

“Hahahahaha, otherwise why do you think I would appear here?” Xie Wanlin started laughing loudly when he heard those words. “I can’t make a move on you, but there are always others who can, such as…… the Lin family on the Kunlun Mountains. Say, if their family’s most beloved youngest son died violently in the Xie residence, will Lin Minzhi and the others look for trouble with you, his childhood friend? “

Xie Zhiyao coldly said: “You want to kill Lin Rufei?”

“That’s a good method, right?” Xie Wanlin smiled widely, “I’ve thought about it for a long time before I came up with it.”

Xie Wanlin was really crazy. He actually wanted the whole Xie family to be buried with him. No one knew that he hated Xie Zhiyao to such an extent. 

Xie Zhiyao said coldly: “I didn’t know that my father was so fierce before. Since things have come to this, he wants to burn with the whole Xie family.”

Xie Wanlin laughed again. While laughing, he unsheathed his sword. Xie Zhiyao choked slightly and his lips pursed into a taut straight line. When he fought with Xie Ji a while ago, he also suffered some light injuries. Wanting to stop the crazy Xie Wanlin was not an easy task and as long as Xie Wanlin didn’t make a move against him, the ancestral restriction of the Xie family would not activate. If he wanted to kill Lin Rufei, it would be easy as cake. 

Although Lin Rufei said he had an encounter and was able to use the sword. However, if he wanted to survive against Xie Wanlin, who was at the eighth level, it wouldn’t be an easy task. If Lin Rufei really died under Xie Wanlin’s sword, the Lin family’s protective brothers and sister would turn the Xie residence upside down the very next day. 

Xie Wanlin sensed Xie Zhiyao’s nervousness and let out a loud laugh.

Xie Zhiyao gritted his teeth and said: “Rufei, I’ll stop him, you run outside. Run as far as you can—”

Xie Wanlin was enigmatic, “Run? No one can run, no one can escape!!!” As soon as his words fell, he raised his hand and swung his sword.

In the end, he was still a cultivator of the eighth level. This sword swing had all his strength, even if Xie Zhiyao was at his peak strength, he could not guarantee he could block it. Not to mention, he was currently heavily injured, wanting to stop Xie Wanlin was almost impossible. The sword Qi rolled and surged and in an instant, the snow-white sword light had already slashed down towards Lin Rufei’s head. Xie Zhiyao shouted. He rushed forward to try and stop the sword, but everything seemed to be too late.

“Xie Wanlin—” Xie Zhiyao shouted, “I’ll kill you—”

Xie Wanlin laughed wildly.

The sword blade had swung down, but instead of the dull sound of a sharp weapon piercing the body, there was a crisp sound of gold striking stone. Xie Wanlin’s smile froze on his face and he looked incredulously at the sword blade in his hand—the blade was actually held by Lin Rufei. The white blade pierced the fair skin of Lin Rufei’s hand. The bright red blood followed his wrist down to his arm and then hid into the wide cuff sleeves.

The pale veins on the back of Lin Rufei’s hand were slightly broken up and when he let go, Xie Wanlin’s sword, which could break gold, broke into several sections. With a clink and a clank, they fell to the ground, turning into pieces of scrap iron. 

“You……you……” Xie Wanlin stared at Lin Rufei with wide eyes, as if he had seen a ghost. He frantically said, “Who are you?—”

Before Lin Rufei could answer, Xie Wanlin’s body went limp and dropped down to his knees. He looked at the broken blade pieces on the ground and was dumbfounded by this sight, “Impossible, how is it possible. Lin Rufei is a useless person who can’t do anything. How can he stop my sword…… How is it possible?…….”  

Xie Zhiyao’s voice came from behind him and it was as cold as ice, “You call him a wastrel? If you can’t even kill him, aren’t you even worse than him? Xie Wanlin, you can’t even protect your most beloved son, you are the one who should be a waste.”

Xie Wanlin said, “No……No, it’s not like that……you……” He had wanted to say something else, but he stopped. He stiffly and slowly looked down at his chest.

A snow-white sword blade emerged from the location of his heart and it was stained into a blinding red by the blood of his heart .

In the end, Xie Zhiyao’s sword took Xie Wanlin’s life. After the past few days, he had no love for his so-called biological father and his expression was as cold as ice. Xie Wanlin, who was at the eighth level, also did not resist. He just stared dully at the sword blade in his chest as his life rapidly escaped from his body. 

Yet this passing didn’t seemed to be a normal death. The moment Xie Wanlin’s breath was completely cut off, Xie Zhiyao’s strength soared. He jumped from the fifth level straight to the eighth level of cultivation.

Xie Wanlin’s body began to dry up rapidly and the originally smooth skin suddenly developed layers after layers of hideous wrinkles before finally turning into a skeleton. Xie Zhiyao mercilessly pulled out the sword and the body fell to the ground, turning into fine powder.

This scene appeared suddenly and ended quickly and in a few breaths, Xie Zhiyao was already victorious. However, his expression was not happy, rather, it was gloomy.

“Rufei, are your injuries okay?” Xie Zhiyao asked.

“It’s nothing serious.” Lin Rufei shook off the blood on his hand. When Xie Wanlin’s sword stabbed at him, he reflexively reached out his hand to grab. Who knew that he would actually catch the sword and easily twist it into several pieces? It was just that his hand was also cut, but the good news was that it didn’t hurt anything vital and was only a superficial injury.

Xie Zhiyao said: “That really scared me. I haven’t seen you in a few years, I didn’t expect you to become so powerful. Xie Wanlin’s move, even I may not be able to catch it. Who knew that you could catch it and break his sword……”

Lin Rufei said helplessly, “I didn’t know it would be like this either.”

Xie Zhiyao said, “You don’t have to be modest with me.” He looked at Xie Wanlin’s ashes on the ground and sighed, “Great, I still have to clean up a bit……”

Lin Rufei said: “Do the people in the house know that you have fought with each other?” 

Xie Zhiyao said: “They do know. All the servants outside were cleared away by Xie Wanlin with excuses, but I’m sure everyone was already aware of what was going to happen.” 

Lin Rufei: “How are you going to explain?”

Xie Zhiyao showed an expression like he had a headache., “Alas, there is always a way. This Xie Wanlin really knows how to find trouble for me.” 

Under normal circumstances, they would have a more formal handover process. After Xie Wanlin handed over the affairs of the Xie residence to Xie Zhiyao then Xie Zhiyao would finally take his life. However, Xie Wanlin did not take the usual path and had suddenly wanted to make a move against Lin Rufei so Xie Zhiyao was forced to make the first move.

Fortunately, he inherited all of Xie Wanlin’s cultivation at this time. Thus, no one would dare to speak out again in the Xie residence. 

Xie Zhiyao saw that Lin Rufei’s hand was still bleeding and said that he would help him bandage up first. Lin Rufei casually wiped it with his sleeve and saw that it was not bleeding anymore, “Just a small injury, no need to rush. Earlier, Xie Wanlin had taken Fu Hua and Yu Rui. Do you know where he had locked them?” 

Xie Zhiyao frowned: “Probably in the dark room of the study. Should I go check it out for you?”

“Okay.” Lin Rufei said, “Thank you.”

“You are too polite.” Xie Zhiyao sighed, “I’m really sorry for involving you in our family’s affairs.”

Lin Rufei said, “This isn’t what you wanted either.”

Xie Zhiyao turned to leave and Lin Rufei watched his figure disappear into the rain.

Before he could return to his senses, he felt his hand being held by another pair of cold hands. When he turned around, he saw Gu Xuandu staring at the wound on his hand with no expression.

For some reason, Lin Rufei felt guilty and mumbled, “It’s just a small wound.”

Gu Xuandu raised his eyelids: “A small injury? You knew that you could stop Xie Wanlin’s sword with your own hand instead of having your five fingers chopped off by his sword?”

Lin Rufei smiled embarrassingly, “I didn’t have the time to think too much about it……”

Gu Xuandu said, “Next time you can think more about it.” As he said this, he let out a sigh, “In the future, when someone draws a sword at you, remember to draw the sword at your waist and not use your hand to block.”

Lin Rufei was confused, “But I don’t have a sword at my waist.”

Gu Xuandu said, “It’s okay, you can use my sword.” After saying that he shamelessly added, “I’ll also let you touch my waist.”

Lin Rufei: “Senior……” he always felt that something wasn’t right.

Who knew that Gu Xuandu was still able to speak with conviction: “Don’t be embarrassed. In such a critical time, if you accidentally touch more than once, I will not blame you.” 

Lin Rufei was choked speechless. When he finally reacted, he saw the smile on Gu Xuandu’s face and realized that he had been teased by Gu Xuandu again.

********

The author has something to say: 

Gu Xuandu: Xiao Jiu, don’t be courteous with me next time.

Lin Rufei: Courteous?

Gu Xuandu: I’m sure I’m better than your right hand.

Lin Rufei: I suspect that you’re driving[2] but I have no evidence…..

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Mou is like referring to a person, so when he adds mou to his surname, it is actually just another way to refer to oneself. I guess the best way I can put it into English is like when someone adds “this” to their name. For example, “This Xie” 

[2] Internet slang: (driver) the one providing the *** stuff, heh. 

Chapter 23: The Dust Settles

Xie Zhiyao left for a while before returning. This time he was followed by Yu Rui and Fu Hua.

The expressions on the two maids were both very ugly. While Fu Hua was still holding up, the younger Yu Rui had already started sobbing. Luckily, Lin Rufei was prepared and took out the corn candy and stuffed it into her mouth. Finally, the little girl stopped crying and smiled. 

But Fu Hua was so guilty of her own negligence that she knelt on the ground without saying a word and asked Lin Rufei to punish her. Lin Rufei tried to persuade her to get up, but the corner of her eyes also started tearing up. In a trembling voice, she said: “It’s all our fault for being too careless and letting that Xie Wanlin get away easily. If something really happened to young master, how are we gonna explain when we get back to Kunlun?”

Lin Rufei said: “I’m fine and you’re also overthinking things. If I am gone, will that Xie Wanlin let you go back?”

Fu Hua bit her lips and did not say anything.

Lin Rufei then asked her to tell him what had happened.

It turned out that Xie Wanlin came for Lin Rufei in the beginning. However, when he saw that Lin Rufei was not in the room, he attacked the two maids. He knew that Lin Rufei had never practiced the sword, so he thought the two maids were playing the role of guards. Without the maids, Lin Rufei became a turtle in a jar[1]. 

Xie Wanlin’s plan should have been seamless, but man’s plan was not as good as God’s plan. He did not expect that Lin Rufei would have a miraculous encounter; with a simple raise of his hand, he easily shattered his sword blade and in the end, he was killed by Xie Zhiyao’s sword.

Xie Zhiyao brought the maids back and told Lin Rufei to rest well and that the other matters would be discussed in detail tomorrow. Lin Rufei also nodded in agreement.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui rolled up their sleeves. They wanted to help Lin Rufei clean up the messy house.

Yu Rui got the broom ready. However, she only made a few sweeps before she let out a shriek of fright. With a frightened expression, she choked out: “Young master, young master—why is there a head here—”

Lin Rufei made an “oh” sound. He remembered that just now Xie Zhiyao threw his brother’s head in but forgot to take it away.

“Send it to Xie Zhiyao, that’s his brother’s head.” Lin Rufei pondered before instructing carefully, “And……neatly pile the ashes on the ground, that is Xie Zhiyao’s father. Together with the head……”

Fu Hua: “……”

Yu Rui: “……”

Both of their expressions were distorted. It was quite complex and it was hard to imagine what kind of gruesome picture they had conjured up.

When Lin Rufei saw this, he smiled and said in a warm voice: “If you two are afraid, leave it for now. Tomorrow, I will come and clean it myself. Go rest first, if you guys don’t sleep now, the sun will rise soon.” 

Fu Hua clenched her teeth. In the end, she rolled up her sleeves and picked up the head. However, Lin Rufei was slightly shocked when he saw the head’s appearance. He didn’t know when Xie Ji’s head had dried up, but the skin was wrinkled together like a tight walnut. His appearance was very ugly, just like the person Lin Rufei saw in the coffin that day.

While carrying his head out, Fu Hua asked Yu Rui to sweep the ash on the ground together, saying that later she would bring both over to Xie Zhiyao.

Yu Rui’s hand trembled as she swept the dust on the ground into the dustpan. She was crying as she followed after Fu Hua.

The two people also did not forget to considerately close the door and urge Lin Rufei to rest early.

Lin Rufei sighed. He thought that he had really made things difficult for the two young girls. Gu Xuandu, who had been silent for the whole time, sourly said, “Lin gongzi, you really pity the jade[2].”

Lin Rufei twisted his head to look at him before saying seriously: “Yes, otherwise why would I bring you around.”

Gu Xuandu: “……”

It was rare to see a defeated expression on Gu Xuandu’s face so Lin Rufei was in quite a good mood.

So many things had happened and he did not sleep the entire night. Lin Rufei tossed and turned but in the end, he still was not sleepy. Plus, he kept coughing non-stop until dawn. He took a hazy nap for a moment and didn’t wake up until noon, when Fu Hua called him up to eat something. 

He was already sick and after tossing around all night, Lin Rufei’s face was haggard. He had dark circles below his eyes and he couldn’t stop yawning as he drank his porridge. 

“Is there any difference in the Xie’s residence today?” Lin Rufei asked.

Fu Hua answered, “Nothing is different.”

Lin Rufei said, “Where is Xie Zhiyao?”

Fu Hua said, “I’ll go and ask.”

After a while, Fu Hua returned to the room and told Lin Rufei that the subordinates had seen Xie Zhiyao leave an hour ago and hadn’t returned yet. Lin Rufei nodded, indicating that he heard her.

The fact that Xie Zhiyao’s cultivation had soared was certainly not concealable. But the good thing was that, on the path of cultivation, the strongest was always the most important. As long as his eighth level of cultivation was still there, no one would dare question him. However, since he went out in such a hurry, no one knew exactly what it was for. 

Lin Rufei yawned again, thinking that when he came back, he would give him the invitation to the sword competition.

However, even until the afternoon, there was no sign of Xie Zhiyao in the residence. Lin Rufei took a nap after eating and woke up all limp and weak. He didn’t even have the energy to lift himself up. 

When Gu Xuandu saw him wake up, he sat on the edge of the bed with his head down and helped him change the medicine for the wound on his right hand. When he saw the wound across Lin Rufei’s right hand, he looked quite upset. Lin Rufei knew he was in the wrong and obediently let him grasp his hand.

“Your body is weak. It’s unknown when this wound will heal.” Gu Xuandu complained, “That Xie Zhiyao is also unreliable. He wasn’t even clear on what kind of person his father is.”

Lin Rufei laughed: “One may know a person for a long time without understanding their true nature.”

“You’re right.” Gu Xuandu lifted his head to look at Lin Rufei, “One may know a person for a long time without understanding their true nature.”

Lin Rufei instantly understood Gu Xuandu’s meaning. He slightly hesitated and said, “Xie Zhiyao isn’t easy.”

Gu Xuandu sneered, “No one is easy.”

At this point, being able to kill all his brothers, was Xie Zhiyao really as innocent as he seemed? If he really considered Lin Rufei as a friend, he should have asked him to leave when he first entered the residence. But Xie Zhiyao did not say anything at all. He pretended that nothing happened and caught up with Lin Rufei on their old friendship—as if nothing would happen. Of course, it was possible that he didn’t expect Xie Wanlin to make a move against Lin Rufei. But in the end, Lin Rufei was injured and this Xie Zhiyao could not escape suspicion.

Gu Xuandu had always been a petty person. This time, he had given that Xie Zhiyao a mark in his book.

Lin Rufei did not dare to persuade. He always felt that if he continued to speak for Xie Zhiyao, Gu Xuandu would be angrier. So he blinked his eyes and said he was thirsty and wanted a cup of hot tea.

When Gu Xuandu heard this, he decided to skip the topic. He took a cup of tea and carefully fed it to Lin Rufei.

After drinking the tea, Lin Rufei stayed in bed for a short while.

There was a storm last night and the grasses and trees in the courtyard were viciously ravaged. When he lifted his eyes to take a look, he noticed that there were stumps everywhere and there were even small trees with shallow roots which were blown directly upside down. At this time, although the yard had been cleaned up, compared to yesterday, it still looked wretched.

Luckily, after the rainstorm, it was all sunny. Today the sun was just right and the breeze was light and it was a perfectly good day for a walk.

If Lin Rufei was not unwell, he would have gone around for a stroll. However, he felt weak in his arms and legs so he could only sit on the edge of the bed. He propped up his chin and looked lazily at the not-so-exciting scenery outside the room.

Xie Zhiyao went out for most of the day and only came back during nightfall. He landed directly in front of Lin Rufei’s door with his sword and an expression that was ugly as hell. This expression was even worse than last night when Xie Wanlin had threatened him. Using the words of Gu Xuandu, it was as if he had lost three whole fathers. 

“Rufei.” Xie Zhiyao called out, “Are you feeling better?”

“I’m fine, just the same as always. But what happened to you?” Lin Rufei asked curiously, “Why do you look so pale.”

Xie Zhiyao wanted to say something but stopped himself.

Lin Rufei said, “If you have something to say, just say it.”

Xie Zhiyao let out a breath: “I’ll go get some wine then we can talk.” He said and flew away again.

Lin Rufei blinked his eyes. If he still had the heart to drink, then things weren’t as bad as he thought. Gu Xuandu snickered saying, ‘what should come will come in the end.’

The weather was good and drinking outside also had its own appeal. Unfortunately, Lin Rufei was coughing quite heavily so he did not dare drink, instead he poured some tea. He watched as Xie Zhiyao filled up another cup. They all said one would drink their sorrows away. Xie Zhiyao drank several cups in a row before his movement slowed down. His brows were tightly knitted before he tentatively spoke up: “Rufei, have you ever liked someone before?”  

Lin Rufei said, “Liked someone? Then there’s a lot of people.”

Xie Zhiyao said, “I mean the ‘like’ that happens between men and women.”

“Between a man and a woman?” Lin Rufei shook his head, “Then no.”

Xie Zhiyao smiled bitterly, “Should have expected.”

The Lin family treated him as the apple of their eye. How could they let a woman with other thoughts come near him? The two maids, Fu Hua and Yu Rui, were probably selected after innumerable choices. He was sure that the Lin family had a way to control them. Being able to use two people who have already reached the fifth level of cultivation as maids, Lin Rufei was probably the only one.  

“What, did you find a pretty girl?” When Lin Rufei heard the meaning behind Xie Zhiyao’s words, he instantly became interested, “Is it because they aren’t interested in you? That’s why you’re so distressed?”

Xie Zhiyao shook his head.

Lin Rufei said, “Then why?”

Xie Zhiyao said: “I just don’t understand what kind of thoughts I have about him[3].”

Lin Rufei said, “How so?”

Xie Zhiyao said, “Although he is sometimes very annoying, he does treat me very well. After my mother passed, no one has ever treated me that way.” He drank another cup and lowered his voice, “But I couldn’t respond to him. I couldn’t understand…… whether I liked him or not.”

Lin Rufei blinked. He felt that he couldn’t give Xie Zhiyao any good advice in this type of matter. After all, he also had no experience. For Xie Zhiyao’s distressing problem, he also felt confused. “Like” this feeling, shouldn’t it be very pure? However looking at Xie Zhiyao’s appearance, it seemed like encountering a big problem.  

“So what do you want to do now that you’ve figured it out?” Lin Rufei asked.

“He won’t see me.” Xie Zhiyao said, “I have to say that I like him before he would agree to meet.”

The more Lin Rufei listened, the more he felt that something was wrong. He dissected the words in his mind for a while. And after he dissected some more, his eyes widened as he said out that unexpected name: “Lv……Lv Er?”

Xie Zhiyao confirmed.

Lin Rufei was incredulous: “But isn’t Lv Er a man? Could it be that he is actually a girl dressed as a man?”

“He’s a man.” Xie Zhiyao frankly said, “Men can also have love affairs between them……” As he said this, he was a bit fearful that he had led Lin Rufei astray, so he hurriedly added another sentence, “Of course, this kind of thing, it is best not to try. “

Lin Rufei was frozen on the spot for quite a while and did not react. In his understanding, men should be with women. Men and men……this…… how would they?……as he kept thinking about it, he inadvertently glanced at Gu Xuandu, who was sitting next to him and staring at him with interest. Very quickly, the tips of his white ears inexplicably reddened.

Lin Rufei would like for Gu Xuandu to not stare at him anymore. However, with Xie Zhiyao present, it was difficult for him to speak up and he could only embarrassingly pretend that he couldn’t see. 

Xie Zhiyao did not notice Lin Rufei’s strange expression and continued: “Now that the dust has settled in the Xie residence, I should be happy, but I can’t let go of the matter with Lv Er. After all, he followed me for so many years……”

Lin Rufei said, “Where is Lv Er now?”

Xie Zhiyao said he was hidden by his mother’s people in a canyon on Canglan Mountain.

Lin Rufei also couldn’t wrap his head around this matter. Xie Zhiyao then drank his sorrows away while Lin Rufei tasted the tea and only felt bland and tasteless. He deliberated for a moment before picking up a cup of alcohol and carefully took a sip.

The wine was good wine. It entered spicily but after passing through the throat, it brought up a mellow sweet aftertaste. Soon, Lin Rufei’s pale cheeks floated with a sweet red. He lowly coughed twice and praised: “Good wine.” 

“It’s the Zhu Ye Qing[4] that Lv Er hid under the tree.” Xie Zhiyao said, “He said that after I became the head of the Xie family, he would celebrate for me. At this time, I’ll drink a jar with you. When he returns, I will drink the rest with him.”  

Xie Zhiyao usually didn’t talk much, but after mentioning Lv Er, he seemed to have endless topics to talk about. Lv Er was not likable, especially his obnoxious mouth and even with Xie Zhiyao’s calm nature, sometimes he would get pissed off as well.

But since the death of his mother, he had lived with Lv Er for decades and they had been through countless storms.

Lv Er said that his young master didn’t need to envy Lin Rufei. If Lin Rufei was the apple of the Lin family’s eyes then Xie Zhiyao was the apple of Lv Er’s eyes. Even though he didn’t have much use, as long as he still had one breath left, then he would use all his strength to offer Xie Zhiyao with the best. 

And because of this, after knowing Lv Er’s mind, Xie Zhiyao still couldn’t decisively refuse.

“No matter, let him stay there for a few days. After I straighten out the Xie family’s affairs, then I’ll take him back.” The wine jug had reached the bottom yet Xie Zhiyao still couldn’t think of a reliable method, “Anyway, Xie Wanlin is dead.” There would be no one to threaten Lv Er’s safety.

Lin Rufei thought that he had a point. Matters in regards to feeling was like cooking a small fish and it could not be rushed.

Who knew that Gu Xuandu, who was listening on the side, suddenly opened his mouth coolly, “Xiao Jiu, you’d better persuade this Xie Zhiyao to go see that Lv Er soon.”

Lin Rufei looked confusedly at him.

“Lest you regret it for the rest of your life.” Gu Xuandu said.

Although Lin Rufei didn’t understand what was going on, he knew that Gu Xuandu would never make baseless claims. He must had known something for him to say such words. After thinking for a moment, he carefully said: “Zhiyao, I think you should go see Lv Er again. That child is disagreeable. Leaving him be, you best make sure nothing happens.”

Xie Zhiyao said, “Then if he asks me whether I like him or not, what should I do?” 

This was a difficult problem and Lin Rufei came up with a bad idea: “Why not try and coax him first. Once you coax him back then you can discuss the other things.”  

Xie Zhiyao frowned. After a long moment of silence, he actually said yes. He seemed to have figured out something and slammed the cup of wine in his hand heavily onto the table. Carrying a strong smell of wine, he flew out on the sword. Lin Rufei was dumbfounded, he looked down at his own cup of wine and carefully said, “Say……such little wine, do you think Xie Zhiyao is drunk?”

“It’s not the wine that intoxicates but the drinker who gets himself drunk[5].” Gu Xuandu had no expression on his face, “Sometimes it’s good to get drunk.”

“Good?” Lin Rufei doubted.

“Naturally.” Gu Xuandu said, “At least you would have the courage to say something you normally wouldn’t say and do things you wouldn’t normally do.” 

Lin Rufei drank the rest of the wine in his cup.

Xie Zhiyao’s cultivation had reached the eighth level and his sword traveled in a matter of moments to the canyon where Lv Er was hidden. His mother’s clan people were a little surprised to see him return. They had just wanted to greet him when they saw the seriousness on his face. Without any regard, he headed towards the house where Lv Er lived.

The house where Lv Er lived was a wooden house built only a few days ago. It was very simple, as if a gust of wind could blow it down. When the Xie family chased after Lv Er, he also suffered a lot and this made Xie Zhiyao’s heart soften a little.

“Lv Er—” Xie Zhiyao called the servant boy’s name.

“Why are you here again?” Lv Er was surprised, “Didn’t you say you had to go back and think about it. It’s only been so long and you’ve figured it out?”

Xie Zhiyao said, “I did figure it out.”

Lv Er was silent for a moment and squirmed, “Then do you like me or not? If you say you like me, only then will I let you in.” As he said this, he muttered a few words in a low voice, saying that all the Xie family members were no good, and only Xie Zhiyao could barely catch his eye.

However, Xie Zhiyao said, “I don’t know.”

When Lv Er heard this, he was furious: “Xie Zhiyao, have you been kicked in the head by a donkey? Why is it so hard to use? If you don’t know then why did you come here again? Is it just to piss me off this time?” He gritted his teeth, “I’m just asking for you to say ‘like,’ it’s not like I’m asking you to marry me. Why are you so afraid?” 

Xie Zhiyao slightly pursed his lips.

“Is it possible that you are still worried that I will delay you from marrying a wife and having children?” Lv Er’s voice was sharp and piercing, “Don’t worry, I will never stop you from having children and grandchildren!

Xie Zhiyao said, “I’m coming in.”

Lv Er yelled angrily: “No! You can’t come in!!”

But with this broken wooden door, how could it stop Xie Zhiyao? With a push from his hand, the wooden door opened and he saw Lv Er sitting on the couch inside the house. When Lv Er saw him enter, his angry face was full of scarlet and his body shook like a sieve: “I hate you, I hate you! Xie Zhiyao, you get out, get out!!”

Xie Zhiyao said: “I won’t.”

Lv Er bawled. While crying, he scolded Xie Zhiyao, saying that Xie Zhiyao and the Xie family people were not good people. They only knew how to bully him. He just wanted to hear the word “like,” was it so difficult, so difficult?

Xie Zhiyao frowned in distress. He approached Lv Er and whispered: “Lv Er, currently I still don’t know if I like you or not, but you are very important to me. There is still a long time……why are you so anxious?” 

Lv Er’s sobs intensified.

Xie Zhiyao stopped in front of him. He gently wiped away Lv Er’s tears with his fingers and said, “Come back with me.”

But Lv Er couldn’t stop shaking his head.

Xie Zhiyao said: “Why won’t you?”

Lv Er said in a trembling voice, “I won’t go back with you unless you say you……like me.”

Xie Zhiyao’s brows furrowed even more tightly. He looked at Lv Er’s dirty crying face and thought for a while: “Even if you do not wish to, it doesn’t matter. I’m already a level eight cultivator, if I want to take you away, no one can stop me.” As he said this, he extended his hand to Lv Er. 

Lv Er screamed: “You are not allowed to touch me—”

But it was already too late. Xie Zhiyao grabbed Lv Er’s hand and pulled him into his arms. However, when his hand moved, he noticed something was wrong and blurted out, “Lv Er, why are you so light……”

As Lv Er was pulled into Xie Zhiyao’s arms, he rested his chin on Xie Zhiyao’s shoulder. He was still crying and very quickly, his cries grew more and more desperate: “Xie Zhiyao, let go of me—”

Xie Zhiyao slowly lowered his head. He seemed to have perceived something and his whole body froze in place for a while. His hands shook like a sieve as he gently peeled off the outer layer of Lv Er’s clothes. 

The layer fell off gently and revealed the upper half of Lv Er. He noticed that on the originally white back of Lv Er, there seemed to be an addition of a hideous wound. The wound ran from the neck to the waist and he could almost faintly see the scarlet organs underneath it.  

Xie Zhiyao froze. He called out the boy’s name: “Lv Er?”

Lv Er wailed in Xie Zhiyao’s ear and angrily bit the side of Xie Zhiyao’s neck. Only when he saw blood did he let go, “Onlookers all say I’m bullying you, but clearly you are the one bullying me. I just wanted to hear a ‘like’…… just a……just a ‘like’……”

Xie Zhiyao said, “Your back……”

Lv Er didn’t speak. When he saw the blood on Xie Zhiyao’s neck, he gave a heartbreaking lick. His hands and feet were unable to move and he relied on the inlaid talisman on his back to continue to live. It was a good thing Xie Zhiyao survived the fight within the Xie family, he now had a stable road for the rest of his life.  

“Who did it, who hurt you?” Xie Zhiyao asked through clenched teeth.

“I accidentally fell down the mountain and got seriously injured and it just so happened that your mother’s clan met me and saved me.” Lv Er said, “Xie Kongcheng is so powerful, I thought you would die.” He fondly rubbed against Xie Zhiyao’s shoulder, “Luckily you are alive.”

Xie Zhiyao stared at Lv Er’s wound and said in a quiet voice, “You’re lying.”

Lv Er was silent.

“You lied to me.” Xie Zhiyao said, “You’ve become bad, you never lied to me before.”

Lv Er cried again.

Xie Zhiyao hugged him and said, “Come on, let’s go back to Moyu. If not, I will take you to Kunlun. Kunlun has that Wan Yao, who has excellent medical skills. Such a small injury, he will certainly be able to cure.”

Lv Er murmured: “It can’t be cured, it can’t be cured.”

“It can be cured.” Xie Zhiyao gritted his teeth. The little drunkenness from a while ago had now disappeared and he carefully held Lv Er, like he was holding fragile porcelain. Lv Er leaned into Xie Zhiyao’s arms. He was no longer noisy and with a gentle gaze, he looked at Xie Zhiyao.

He knew that his time was running out and in that case, it was good to see Xie Zhiyao a few more times. The only pity was that he wasn’t able to get the answer he wanted the most.

Xie Zhiyao held Lv Er while flying on the sword. The wind was howling. He pursed his lips and was as stiff as a stone. 

Lv Er, who was in his arms, was still chattering.

Lv Er said, “Young master, how nice. No one can bully you anymore.”

Lv Er said again, “Young master, Lv Er is really happy.”

The corners of Xie Zhiyao’s eyes finally flooded with water and he said, “Lv Er, don’t leave.”

“Okay, Lv Er won’t leave.” Lv Er’s voice had never been so gentle, “Lv Er will always, always, stay with young master, Lv Er is not going anywhere……”

********

The author has something to say: 

Lin Rufei: It’s possible between a man and another man?

Xie Zhiyao: Men are scary creatures, as long as you’re idle, don’t say men……even a sword is possible.

Lin Rufei: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Huh? ? ?

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Idiom meaning “trapped” 

[2] Idiom meaning “kind/compassionate towards the opposite sex” 

[3] For people who don’t understand, the pronouns for him(他)and her(她) in Chinese both use the same pronunciation(ta), only different characters. So you really can’t tell by ear unless you see the character too. That’s why it’s “him” there, well Lin Rufei doesn’t know until later heh.  

[4] Alcohol name – direct translation is Green Bamboo Leaf 

[5] Another explanation is that “wine doesn’t make a man drunk if he’s not in the mood” 

Chapter 24: Lv Er, Lv Er

Xie Zhiyao didn’t return to the Xie residence. Instead, he carried Lv Er directly to Kunlun. When he left, he didn’t forget to send a letter to Lin Rufei, giving him a general explanation of his situation; Lv Er was seriously injured and in urgent need of medical treatment.

Lin Rufei was a bit surprised when he received the letter from the paper crane and he turned his head to look at Gu Xuandu: “How did you know that something had happened to Lv Er?”

Gu Xuandu said, “The ancient headed beast Lijin, whose shape resembles that of a man, and whose bone is so hard that it can shatter ten thousand blades.”

Lin Rufei was stunned.

Gu Xuandu continued, “Therefore, the Lijin beasts were hunted down by the human race and almost exterminated. It’s a good thing they looked like humans and learned human habits. As a result, they hid amongst them and were barely able to maintain their racial bloodline.” He sighed, “This was only what had happened a few hundred years ago. Now that it has been so long, the Lijin beasts are almost extinct. However, I didn’t expect to see one in the Xie residence.” The moment he saw the bone sword on Xie Zhiyao’s waist, he had guessed everything. 

Lin Rufei also understood the meaning behind Gu Xuandu’s words. The servant boy, Lv Er, was the foreign beast Lijin. The bone sword in Xie Zhiyao’s hand had come from his body.

“The most precious thing in the Lijin beast is the spine that runs through the whole body. This bone does not need to be refined, it can be pulled out and made into a sword. The blade is sharp. It can shatter the stars and break the mountains.” Gu Xuandu carelessly talked about other people’s stories, “If not for that sword, Xie Zhiyao would have long died.”

Lin Rufei said, “Can Lv Er still survive without a spine?”

Gu Xuandu stared into Lin Rufei’s eyes, “Naturally, he cannot.”

Lin Rufei felt a lump in his throat. He remembered the occasional tenderness in Xie Zhiyao’s eyes when he talked about Lv Er, perhaps even he didn’t notice. But now that the Xie family’s troubles had just subsided, Lv Er was……

“I don’t know what method the people over there have used to let Lv Er hang onto his life, but that servant won’t live long.” Gu Xuandu said, “Even if the best physicians in the world are invited, they can’t save his life.” No living thing could live after losing its spine.

Lin Rufei said, “What should Xie Zhiyao do?”

“What do you mean ‘what should he do?’ ” Gu Xuandu said flatly, “He got the family head title that he wanted the most and he is also on the eighth level of cultivation. He simply lost a foul-mouthed servant, isn’t that a good deal?”

Lin Rufei listened to Gu Xuandu’s emotionless words and slightly wrinkled his eyebrows.

“Don’t you think so?” Gu Xuandu asked rhetorically.

“Naturally, I don’t think so.” Lin Rufei said disapprovingly, “Lv Er has been with Xie Zhiyao for so many years, Xie Zhiyao must have some affection for him. Seeing Lv Er just gone like this, I’m afraid his heart won’t be able to handle it.”

Gu Xuandu’s attitude, however, seemed unusually cold. He did not sit beside Lin Rufei like he usually did and instead leaned against the beam. His hands were crossed on his chest as he slightly tilted his chin and looked down at Lin Rufei. He calmly asked: “If you were Lv Er, what would you do?”

Lin Rufei thought about it, “If I were Lv Er……”

“That’s enough.” Before he could finish his words, he was coldly interrupted by Gu Xuandu. From the time Gu Xuandu arrived at Lin Rufei’s side, this senior, who had never been serious, had never shown such a cold and icy look, “I know how you would choose.”

As the words fell, his figure then abruptly dispersed, leaving a room full of silence.

Lin Rufei was bewildered. He didn’t understand why these words had touched Gu Xuandu’s scales[1].

Without Gu Xuandu, the room was quiet and somewhat uncomfortable. After noticing his thoughts, Lin Rufei couldn’t help but reveal a bitter smile. In his heart he thought that people were really greedy animals, it had only been a few days and he was already accustomed to Gu Xuandu’s presence. 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Xie Zhiyao spent the whole day and night rushing to Kunlun. 

Wan Yao had received the paper crane beforehand. He knew Xie Zhiyao was coming so he arrived early at the mountain gate to wait.

“Quickly, put the person down.” After seeing Lv Er, Wan Yao instructed Xie Zhiyao to put the person on the prepared wooden bed. He raised his hand and took the pulse for Lv Er.

Xie Zhiyao stood on the side. He was afraid to let out a breath and set his eyes dead on Lv Er. His chest could not stop heaving. 

Wan Yao figured out Lv Er’s condition. His expression gradually turned serious and from his bosom, took out a few silver needles. He stuck them into Lv Er’s body and Lv Er’s expression finally looked slightly better. However, his breath was still very weak. 

“Should we talk about this outside?” Wan Yao asked.

Xie Zhiyao nodded. He was about to take a step out when he heard Lv Er’s weak cry, “Young master……don’t……go…… “

Xie Zhiyao leaned down and whispered: “Don’t be afraid, you also know Wan Yao’s medical skills, he will certainly have a way to save you.”

However, Lv Er shook his head and said with great difficulty: “Just…….say it here.” His body couldn’t hold on much longer but his heart was clear. It was naturally best if he could see his young master for a while longer. 

“Okay. You can say it.” Xie Zhiyao held Lv Er’s hand and looked up at Wan Yao. 

Wan Yao hesitated slightly. After seeing Xie Zhiyao’s firm expression, he sighed and said quietly: “I’m afraid that Lv Er…….won’t make it.”

Xie Zhiyao’s expression instantly turned hideous: “What did you say?!”

Wan Yao said: “His spine was taken out alive[2]. Being able to live until now is already a miracle. If I apply needles onto him, he might be able to live another day or two, it’s just that…..”  

Xie Zhiyao said: “Just that?”

Wan Yao said, “It’s just that……he will be in extreme pain.”

The wound on his back couldn’t be healed. Every second and every moment, it gave Lv Er extreme pain. The current him was weak and could only lie on his stomach, he couldn’t even turn over otherwise it would touch the wound. 

After Xie Zhiyao listened to Wan Yao’s words, his Adam’s apple moved up and down and it seemed like he was trying to suppress some kind of emotion. Lv Er sensed his thoughts and gently squeezed his hand that was holding his. He forced a smile: “No worries……If I can accompany young master for another day, that is enough.”  

Xie Zhiyao did not speak. He thoroughly understood everything. Lowering his head, he stared ruthlessly at the white bone sword hanging on his waist for a long time. In his black eyes, a manic storm was silently brewing. 

A weak call from Lv Er ripped Xie Zhiyao from his emotions. He responded to his call, “Lv Er.”  

Lv Er looked docile: “Lv Er is here.”

Xie Zhiyao said, “Who did this?”

Lv Er did not say anything.

“Tell me who did it.” Xie Zhiyao asked word by word, “Who took out your spine alive, who was it?”

Lv Er calmly looked back at Xie Zhiyao. His lips wriggled with difficulty and he gave Xie Zhiyao an answer that he least expected to hear: “It was Lv Er who did it.”

Xie Zhiyao’s body trembled.

“It was Lv Er himself who did it.” Lv Er said, “Blame no one……”

Xie Zhiyao let out a hiss of despair, as if he was a cornered beast. He wanted to hug Lv Er but was also afraid of hurting him. Finally, he could only kneel on the edge of the bed and hold Lv Er’s increasingly cold hand. He couldn’t help but give it a kiss: “Lv Er, why………why?……..” 

Lv Er said, “Lv Er just doesn’t want onlookers to bully young master again.” Most likely Wan Yao’s needle skills had started to work since now, he once again had the strength to speak. Lv Er stared at Xie Zhiyao and his eyes were bright like the stars in the sky, “Young master doesn’t need to envy that Lin Rufei, young master also has someone who cherishes him dearly. Lv Er cherishes young master the most.”  

Xie Zhiyao couldn’t say anything until there was a wet liquid dripping down onto the back of his hand and he realized that he had shed tears.

Lv Er had never seen this expression of Xie Zhiyao and he suddenly started to panic, saying quickly that young master shouldn’t cry. 

Xie Zhiyao said, “You’re right, you cherish me but you’re also leaving. Who will cherish me now?” 

Lv Er said, “When young master becomes the head of the Xie family, there will be many people who will love you.” He murmured, “When the young master marries and has children, he will not need Lv Er anymore……it’s just a pity……”

Xie Zhiyao revealed a look of despair.

Wan Yao said Lv Er had already used medicines and acupuncture stones and he had no more methods. 

Lv Er still had some strength left so he began to speak again. He scolded Xie Zhiyao’s father, scolded Xie Zhiyao’s brother, and scolded all the Xie family except Xie Zhiyao, his young master. Xie Zhiyao listened numbly. He watched in a trance, as if his soul had already floated out from his body. 

When Lv Er said he felt tired, his voice gradually quiet down. 

Xie Zhiyao suddenly opened his mouth and said: “Lv Er, why don’t you ask anymore?”

Lv Er said blankly, “Hmm?”

Xie Zhiyao said: “You have always wanted to know if I liked you or not, why don’t you ask anymore?”

Lv Er’s lip wriggled slightly and he said in a voice that was as soft as a mosquito: “I……don’t want to know anymore.”

“Why, why don’t you want to know anymore?” Xie Zhiyao asked in a trembling voice.

“Because young master will definitely pity me.” Lv Er said, “I don’t want young master to pity me.” He stared with wet black eyes, like an innocent deer, “I……I just want young master to like me.” After he said this, his eyes drooped in embarrassment.

Xie Zhiyao completely collapsed.

His shoulders shook and he covered his face in pain. He whimpered and was gradually losing his voice. This was the first time he hated himself for that hesitation. He hated himself for forcing his way into the room and he hated himself for not giving Lv Er that desired answer. 

Lv Er looked at Xie Zhiyao’s painful expression helplessly, he wanted to comfort but he did not know what to say to make his young master feel better. So in a panic, he could only grab Xie Zhiyao’s hand and coax him not to cry. 

Xie Zhiyao was two years older than Lv Er. They met when Xie Zhiyao was three years old and together, they had spent more than twenty years together. Xie Zhiyao’s mother passed away early and in the entire Xie family, the only one that cherished him was the obnoxious servant boy by his side. 

No one in the Xie residence liked Xie Zhiyao and no one liked Lv Er.

Fortunately, Lv Er didn’t mind. He just wanted young master to like him and to him, that was enough. This kind of like, from the time he became a servant, he didn’t know when it started to change. It wasn’t until Xie Zhiyao encountered danger, did the fire in his heart start like a little star.

Lv Er knew he didn’t have much time left, his only wish was to get the word “like” from his young master’s mouth. Not pity for the dying, but just a pure and simple like.

But, unfortunately, he didn’t get what he wanted in the end.

Lv Er should have felt regret, however, when he saw Xie Zhiyao’s expression of despair, his regret turned into concern for his young master. His death was something that he had been prepared for, for a long time, but he didn’t expect to make Xie Zhiyao, who had always been unperturbed, suffer so much.

“Lv Er, Lv Er……” Xie Zhiyao said, “Ask me, ask me once again, ask, ask.”

Lv Er was scared by Xie Zhiyao’s expression and he whispered, “Okay, Okay……young master, do you like Lv Er?”

“Like, I like Lv Er.” Xie Zhiyao sobbed one word at a time, “Xie Zhiyao likes Lv Er the most.”

Lv Er showed a smile.

Xie Zhiyao said, “He likes you so much, how can you make him sad, Lv Er……”

Lv Er patted Xie Zhiyao’s head like he was coaxing a child and whispered: “It’s okay, aren’t I always with young master, by young master’s side.” 

Xie Zhiyao once again cried out.

Outside the room, Wan Yao heard Xie Zhiyao howling cries and he let out a deep sigh.

The seven sufferings of life; birth, old age, sickness, and death. Love and separation, resentment and hatred, and being unable to do anything. As long as they were still on the human path, it was difficult to escape this torture.

(t/n: so for people who might be like “that’s not seven” it’s grouped like this; [birth], [old age], [sickness], [death], [love and separation], [resentment and hatred], and [unable to do anything])

Xie Zhiyao and Lv Er, he had technically watched them grow up and currently, the two were going to be separated because of life and death, naturally, he would also feel some sorrow. 

The doctor’s heart was benevolent. However, the things he could do were still too little, too little.

“Something must have happened in the Xie residence.” At some point, Lin Bianyu appeared beside Wan Yao. He looked at the room behind Wan Yao where Xie Zhiyao was howling in tears and said lowly, “I don’t know how Xiao Jiu is right now.”

Wan Yao said, “Xie Zhiyao has reached the eighth level of cultivation.”

Lin Bianyu revealed a surprised look.

Wan Yao was an old man so he naturally knew the rules of the Xie residence. However, Lin Bianyu’s generation was still young, so they didn’t understand these things. He explained: “Xie family’s infighting should not be detrimental to Xiao Jiu.” After saying “no matter,” he explained the Xie family rules to Lin Bianyu. After Lin Bianyu finished listening, his expression showed pity. No one knew if the pity was for the Xie family or if the pity was for Lv Er, who would die soon. 

Within the Xie residence, Gu Xuandu was still sulking at Lin Rufei and he didn’t show his figure for the whole day. 

Lin Rufei also didn’t know how to coax him. After some thought, he put on a cloak and went to the streets alone. He strolled around the street a few times before finding an old man selling flowers.

The old man was selling some beautiful flowers like peonies, so Lin Rufei asked if there were any cherry blossoms for sale around here.

The old man smiled and said that there were cherry blossom trees everywhere, so there was no need to buy cherry blossoms. Just leave Moyu City and go east for less than two miles and he would see a cherry blossom forest. But because of last night’s sudden rain, the cherry blossoms were probably beaten to pieces.

Once Lin Rufei got the news, he then slowly and leisurely walked out of the city. When he left, he did not forget to buy a bright red candied hawthorn at a stall. He nibbled on it as he headed towards the grove. 

Outside Moyu City were the mountain roads. Last night it rained again so it was slightly muddy. However, the weather was good today and although the mountain wind was strong, it wasn’t too cold. 

Walking through the winding paths, Lin Rufei soon saw the cherry blossom grove that the old man talked about. But the forest here was only a small one, far from the wide and bright forest under the Kunlun Mountains. The blossom colors were also lighter here. Lin Rufei looked left and right and after seeing no one, he quietly snuck close to a tree. Using his hands and feet, he climbed up and reached out to pick a bunch of intact cherry blossoms. 

Who knew that when he stepped on the tree, his foot slipped and he rolled down from the tree with the flowers. Lin Rufei let out a cry and then he was caught by a pair of hands.

“Are you trying to drop yourself to death?” Gu Xuandu gritted his teeth.

Lin Rufei looked at him innocently and handed the cherry blossom to him, “Here.”

Gu Xuandu said coldly, “Don’t want it.”

Lin Rufei blinked. He then reached out and covered his mouth—coughing hard.

Gu Xuandu: “……”

Lin Rufei coughed while glancing at Gu Xuandu. The narrow-minded senior finally could not stand his endless coughing and angrily said, “Okay, okay, just give it to me. Stop coughing, be careful or you’re going to cough out your lungs.”

Lin Rufei immediately stopped coughing and happily patted the mud off his hands. He said that the cherry blossoms here were not as good as the ones on the Kunlun Mountains.

Gu Xuandu said, “Is that so.”

Lin Rufei said, “Of course, the best one is the one in my yard.”

When Gu Xuandu heard that, his expression eased quite a bit.

Although Lin Rufei did not understand why Gu Xuandu was angry, after he saw that he put the matter aside, he also relaxed. Touching the rough bark of the cherry blossom tree, he wondered how it was going on Xie Zhiyao’s side.

“He’ll be back soon.” Gu Xuandu said casually, “Lv Er will not live for long.”

Lin Rufei sighed.

The atmosphere was not good when they started talking about Lv Er so Lin Rufei had to change the subject. He said that the candied hawthorn he just ate tasted good. Gu Xuandu, on the other hand, blamed him for eating candy despite coughing so hard. 

“It’s okay.” Lin Rufei waved his hand, “I’m used to coughing, I won’t die.” After saying that, there was a series of coughs again.

The two of them enjoyed the flowers for a while and then went back down the mountain.

The night was approaching and the lights in Moyu City also lit up. On the green stone-paved streets, vendors were still shouting loudly. There were also bargaining residents and tourists, who just arrived in the city, looking around. It was very lively scene.

The dust had settled in the Xie residence for the position of the family head. Therefore, there was no more of that suffocating atmosphere from the previous few days.

When Lin Rufei returned, he saw several carriages parked in front of the Xie residence. When he went up to ask, he learned that several stewards, who had left the house for half a month, had just returned. They obviously knew the Xie family rules so they specially picked this time to go out and seek refuge. Now that Xie Zhiyao had won the position of family head, they have returned to begin preparations to accept the new family head.

This was very efficient, but for some reason, Lin Rufei’s heart was always feeling a little discomfort.

It was Fu Hua’s words that made him understand why he was uncomfortable. Fu Hua said, “This Xie residence is really strange, as if the death of so many people were insignificant.”

Yu Rui said, “Yes, if they died then they died, but they are also casually dragged off to be buried and not even allowed a grave…..By the way, sister Fu Hua, that Xie Ji’s head……” 

Fu Hua expressionlessly glanced at Yu Rui. When she saw Yu Rui’s neck shrink, only then did she answer: “Xie Zhiyao took it.”

Yu Rui said: “Buried?”

Fu Hua said: “Burned with fire.”

Yu Rui: “……” she did not even dare to ask what happened to Xie Wanlin’s ashes. 

Both of them looked unhappy and did not want to talk about it anymore.

Lin Rufei sat in the courtyard and looked at the servants who came and went. The Xie family, which seemed to be revived and lively, brought a lot of emotions to his heart. The person who should have been celebrating his victory was now on the Kunlun Mountains. Most likely…….he was grieving right now. 

That night, Lin Rufei received a family letter from Lin Bianyu. The letter said that he had seen Xie Zhiyao and the dying Lv Er. Xie Zhiyao was almost completely devastated after learning that there was no cure for Lv Er, and he didn’t know if he would do anything drastic if Lv Er was really gone. He also asked Lin Rufei how he was doing and whether he was affected by anything.

Lin Rufei wrote back, saying that the Xie family had treated him courteously and had not overstepped any boundaries. However, he did not tell Lin Bianyu about the matter regarding Xie Wanlin. 

After all, if Lin Bianyu really knew about it, he might actually chop Xie Zhiyao up in a fit of anger. Lin Rufei was very clear about his own brother’s protective nature. 

After replying to the letter, Lin Rufei drank another dose of cough medicine and planned to rest early today. Gu Xuandu looked at the porcelain vase on the table, which held cherry blossoms, and no one knew what he was thinking about. 

“Senior Gu, I’m going to sleep first. What about you?” Lin Rufei covered half of his face with a cup[3], revealing only a pair of light-colored eyes, as he asked in a muffled voice.

Gu Xuandu’s face was expressionless: “Going out to catch ghosts.”

Lin Rufei said, “Catching ghosts?”

Gu Xuandu nodded his head.

Lin Rufei became energetic in an instant and he sat up with a whoosh, “Where are you going to catch ghosts? Are there really ghosts in this world?”

Gu Xuandu said, “What do you think?”

Lin Rufei said, “I believe in it, but I’ve never seen it.” He thought about it carefully before he said tentatively, “Others can’t see senior Xuandu, so senior you……”

Gu Xuandu’s expressionless face looked back.

Lin Rufei quickly added: “Joke, it was just a joke. Senior, please don’t take it seriously.”

Gu Xuandu said, “You are quite lively compared to when you were on the mountains.” 

Lin Rufei helplessly said: “On the mountains, my brothers kept me under a tight watch. Even if I go out in the snow to look at small flowers, they’ll chide at me. In order to keep me from catching a cold, they even cut the small flower that bloomed with great difficulty in the snow……”

When Gu Xuandu heard this, he let out an unnaturally dry cough. He averted his gaze and calmly said: “You get well. When you get well, I’ll take you to catch ghosts with me.” 

Lin Rufei: “Really?”

Gu Xuandu: “Really.”

Lin Rufei then shrunk under the blanket again. He wrapped himself up tightly in a cocoon, revealing only his eyes. He had a look of obedience making Gu Xuandu unconsciously hook up the corners of his mouth. 

It was warm under the blanket and soon Lin Rufei felt sleepy. His eyes slowly closed and his breathing evened out. When Gu Xuandu saw him sleeping, he waved his long sleeves and his body faded—disappearing from the room.

Lin Rufei had a good sleep and when he woke up the next day, his cough had gotten better. When he opened his eyes, he saw Gu Xuandu sitting in the room eating the dim sum brought in by Fu Hua.

Lin Rufei yawned. He rubbed his eyes gently and got up from the bed. Slowly, he started changing his clothes.

Gu Xuandu sat watching on the side. After seeing that his injured right hand was holding him back, he got up and took the clothes that were on the bed, and very naturally put them on for Lin Rufei. 

Lin Rufei was still dazed from his sleep, so when he felt a tightness on his waist, he realized what Gu Xuandu was doing. He reflexively wanted to turn around, but Gu Xuandu said not to move and helped him fix the belt on his waist carefully before letting go.

The two of them looked at each other and there was a pregnant silence.

“What?” Gu Xuandu sat back down at the table and said, “This expression?[4]“

Lin Rufei said, “This……this. Letting senior change my clothes isn’t quite appropriate, right?”

Gu Xuandu said indifferently, “If you think it’s not appropriate.”

Lin Rufei: “Mnn?”

Gu Xuandu said seriously, “I can take mine off and let you help me put it back on. Would that be more appropriate?”

Lin Rufei immediately shut up and quietly went to wash up.

When Gu Xuandu saw his expression, he let out a chuckle. He grabbed the mung bean cake that was still warm and put it into his mouth before frowning in dissatisfaction.

“What, is the mung bean cake not to senior’s taste?” Lin Rufei asked casually.

“It’s too sweet.” Gu Xuandu said, “The taste is not as good as the one made by my love……..my friend.”

Lin Rufei was about to speak, but Gu Xuandu raised his head to look outside the room. He softly said, “Your friend is back.”

Xie Zhiyao came back to the joyful Xie family with Lv Er, who died struggling in pain, in his arms.

********

The author has something to say: 

Gu Xuandu: Sulking, cold war[5].

Lin Rufei: cough cough cough cough cough.

Gu Xuandu: ……..

Lin Rufei: cough cough cough cough——

Gu Xuandu gritting his teeth: You’re doing this on purpose, right?

Lin Rufei blinks.

Gu Xuandu: Forget it………

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Basically getting on someone’s nerves.  

[2] Hard for me to put this into a English sentence that made sense, but basically he is saying that the spine was taken out when Lv Er was still conscious and alive.  

[3] No clue if the author mixed up cup and blanket or if it was intentionally written as cup. Cup and Blanket have the same spelling in Chinese. Cup is 杯子 while blanket is 被子, the former was used in the sentence. 

[4] He means “what is with your expression.” 

[5] Cold war basically is like a couple who had a fight and are currently ignoring each other, thus the “cold.” 

Chapter 25: The Evil Jiao

Lin Rufei saw Xie Zhiyao. And also saw Lv Er, who had no life left, in his embrace. The snow-white bone sword on Xie Zhiyao’s waist was out of place amongst his black clothes. He was holding the sword in one hand and holding Lv Er against his chest with the other. His expression was sometimes cold and sometimes warm, almost like he was insane. 

Lin Rufei called his name from afar: “Zhiyao.”

But Xie Zhiyao did not hear him. He continued to stand in the courtyard and no one in the Xie residence dared to go forward. All of them were far away as they kneeled to the new head of the family: “Family head.” 

However, Xie Zhiyao did not respond. He lowered his head and placed a kiss on Lv Er’s soft hair.  

Lin Rufei walked up to him and said quietly once again, “Zhiyao.”

Only then did Xie Zhiyao return to his senses. Seeing Lin Rufei standing in front of him, he said in a trance: “Why hasn’t Xiao Jiu left yet.”

Lin Rufei said: “I……am a little worried about you.”

“Worried about me?” Xie Zhiyao said, “Why should you be worried about me? I’m fine, couldn’t……be better.” He smiled brightly, with a look of innocence that could only be seen when he was a teenager, and continued. “Don’t you have other places deliver the invitations to? Today’s weather is good, it’s a perfect time to cross the Canglan River Gorge. In a few days, I’m afraid it will be the rainy season, then it will be inconvenient to cross the river.” 

From Moyu City to other places, one would have to pass through a treacherous waterway. In the waterway, there would be the occasional jiao[1] and as long as the boat encountered one, there would certainly be nine deaths and one life[2].   

“Give me the invitation.” Xie Zhiyao gave Lin Rufei a slight smile, “The Xie residence isn’t a good place, it’s better if you leave early.” 

Lin Rufei wanted to say something, but when he saw Xie Zhiyao and Lv Er, who was in his arms, he wasn’t able to say anything. In silence, he took out the invitation for the sword competition from his ring and handed it to Xie Zhiyao. Xie Zhiyao took the invitation and stuffed it casually into his sleeves. He then randomly pulled a trembling servant over with his hand and expressionlessly ordered him to send Lin gongzi away, and then to find a reliable boat near the Canglan River to send Lin gongzi across. 

The servant trembled and answered yes.

After saying that, Xie Zhiyao left. His back was cold and determined. In the end, Lin Rufei was not able to call out the “Zhiyao” stuck in his throat and returned to the room with a gloomy look. Gu Xuandu looked at the weather outside and said that the weather outside wasn’t bad and that the sunset must be very beautiful.   

Lin Rufei raised his eyes to look, however, he saw that the sky was covered with dark clouds. The wind was howling and although it was not raining, no matter how one looked at it, it looked like a cloudy day: “The weather is good?”

Gu Xuandu smiled: “Very good.”

Lin Rufei was dumbfounded. He was thinking that perhaps Gu Xuandu and that Xie Zhiyao might be able to hold a conversation with each other.

After being evicted by Xie Zhiyao so bluntly, Lin Rufei had wanted to talk to him again, but he refused to see him at all and sent his servant to urge him to leave. 

With no more methods, Lin Rufei could only ask his maids to pack up their things and head to a tavern for the night, thinking that he would make plans tomorrow.

When they left the Xie residence, Yu Rui suddenly asked, “Hey, why are those two stone lions gone?”

Lin Rufei then noticed that the two stone beasts that were guarding the Xie residence were gone. His heart thumped and he had a vague sense of foreboding.

The wind was getting stronger and stronger and the lanterns hanging on the street rustle in response. It seemed like there was going to be heavy rain soon. Still, no matter how he looked at it, it wasn’t good weather.

The servants of the Xie family booked the best room for Lin Rufei in the tavern and the room just so happened to be located in a direction where they could see the entire Xie residence. Lin Rufei sat on the edge of the bed with a sullen look and when his maids came to serve him food, he had no appetite. 

As he looked and watched, he had fallen asleep. The sound of rain crackled outside the window and he was soon awakened in a daze from his dream by the heavy, pouring rain. Lin Rufei sleepily opened his eyes and in a haze, he saw a brilliant sunset that reflected half of the sky. The sunset was like blood and it was visible despite being covered by a curtain of rain. It was like a giant torn wound, bright and blinding. 

Lin Rufei instantly sobered up. He jerked up from the bed, making the cloak that was draped over his shoulders fall to the ground, however, he didn’t care.

This was no sunset, it was obviously the Xie residence on fire. Bright flames enveloped the entire Xie residence. People were screaming, people were roaring, and people were standing high up on the walls.

Lin Rufei saw Xie Zhiyao.

He was standing on the highest loft in the Xie residence. In his left hand, he was hugging the servant boy in green clothes and in his right hand, he carried a jug of freshly unearthed Zhu Ye Qing and he was gazing at the brightly colored evening sun in the sky. 

He seemed to have noticed Lin Rufei’s gaze. Xie Zhiyao turned his head towards Lin Rufei and revealed a vague smile. 

The rain gradually became heavier, but it couldn’t suppress the blazing fire that was created with sword Qi. The flame was like a fierce beast trapped within the entire Xie residence. It rushed and raged, devouring everything in its path. 

“It’s beautiful.” Gu Xuandu leaned against the window. His red clothes were like fire as he stroked the handle of Gu Yu and the handle of Shuang Jiang hanging at his waist. He said softly, “The weather really is good.” 

He had actually guessed what Xie Zhiyao was going to do.

Lin Rufei stood in place. His cheeks were lapped by the cold wind mixed with rainwater, but he did not feel the cold. Rather, he felt the steaming heat rushing towards his face. The fire in the Xie residence burned everything and from then on, the Xie family no longer existed in Moyu City.  

The Xie residence burned all night and even when dawn came, the fire still did not dissipate. 

Xie Zhiyao had disappeared. He took Lv Er and disappeared together. Before he left, he set a big fire which burned down the place where he and Lv Er had grown up since childhood.

Outsiders all seemed to be confused as to why he would do this.

Xie Zhiyao was already on the eighth level of cultivation and was already the head of the Xie family. He had to be crazy to do such a thing like cutting off his own future.

Was he crazy? Lin Rufei really couldn’t say. He only remembered that that day, the evening sunset in the rain was indeed amazingly beautiful.

The fire burned for three days, so Lin Rufei watched for three days.

It was only when the fire had finally dissipated and only the wreckage of the Xie’s residence was left behind that Lin Rufei departed from Moyu.

That day, it was still raining and the horses’ hooves clattered against the green stone slabs. This was Lin Rufei’s last memory of Xie Zhiyao and it wouldn’t be until many years later, that Lin Rufei vaguely heard some news about this missing childhood friend of his.

They say that in Jianghu, a white-haired madman suddenly appeared. He carried a bunch of withered bones on his back and would destroy all the halls that the Xie family had set up in various places. Not only would he kill, but he would also set a big fire and then sit on the wall watching the flames burn everything to the ground and leave laughing loudly.  

Some people had seen this madman’s appearance, saying that he was a handsome young man, especially the white ancient sword around his waist. He was especially conspicuous, but no one knew his name.

Lin Rufei, however, knew the name of that madman. His name was Xie Zhiyao and he was once a very good chess player. Only later, when he lost the most important bone[3] in his life, did he go crazy. 

The mountains were high and the roads were far. The miles were long and sometimes when people parted, it became a lifetime. 

Lin Rufei sat in the carriage, drinking the new tea brewed by Fu Hua.

The rain began to fall three days ago and it still had not stopped. This year’s plum rain came extraordinarily early. The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was continuous and when it started, it could continue for at least half a month. Lin Rufei was bored in the carriage and felt that he was about to grow mushrooms. 

But this was God’s matter and he couldn’t do anything about it. Gu Xuandu was smiling and asked if he wanted to see the sun. However, a few days ago, when Gu Xuandu praised the good weather in Moyu City, it was filled with firelight. This made Lin Rufei be on guard and asked him what he wanted to do.

However, Gu Xuandu was full of innocence and said he just wanted to let Lin Rufei get some sunshine.

Lin Rufei said: “Are you trying to make this matter difficult for God?” 

Gu Xuandu said, “How do you know if we don’t try?”

Lin Rufei said: “No need, no need. I think the weather is fine.” He didn’t want to see another big fire.

Gu Xuandu wanted to persuade him again, but when he saw Lin Rufei’s firmness, he had to regretfully stop.

Moyu City was located on the westernmost part of the Yaoguang Continent. In order to enter the Central Plains, one needed to pass through a very dangerous waterway, which was the Canglan River mentioned by Xie Zhiyao.

The Canglan River was located between two steep canyons. It had turbulent water with skerries all over the place and evil scorpions hiding underneath, making it really dangerous.

These days, it was rainy and the waves were especially turbid, making many merchants and pedestrians afraid of travel. The carriage was nearing the shore so Lin Rufei opened the umbrella and looked around. The muddy river was mast and mighty and on top of the steep cliff, he could even see countless white bones hanging on upon it. He looked for a boatman to question about this phenomenon, only to learn that the water was too strong these days and the evil jiao at the bottom of the river had killed a boat full of merchants. Eating their meat wasn’t enough, it also had to hang their bones on the cliff. 

“This evil jiao dares to be so domineering?” Fu Hua frowned, “No one can control it?”

“How can we control it, ah? It eats people based on its mood. If it is in a good mood, we wouldn’t see its shadow for a few years. If it is in a bad moon, as long as they dare cross the river, they will suffer.” As the boatman said this he sighed helplessly, “The recent weather is very strange, it continued to rain for several days and we haven’t been able to see the sun. The evil jiao is in a very poor mood, these days it has been causing rolling waters…….it has eaten dozens of people and is still not appeased.” 

Lin Rufei wondered: “How long has it been here?”

“Almost a few hundred years. Rumor has it that this evil jiao should have turned into a dragon a hundred years ago. However, in the end, it offended the Heavenly Ruler. The Heavenly Ruler cut off one of its horns and it was dragged here to become a guardian beast of the river.” The boatman sighed as he began retelling the story from a hundred years ago, “Sadly, the Heavenly Ruler fell and now there is no one controlling this evil jiao, as it stirs up trouble in the river…..” 

Lin Rufei said, “Then these days, we will not be able to leave?” 

“Can’t leave, can’t leave.” The boatman shook his head, “Who dares to leave, ah? Even if they pay extra, if there is no life then there is nowhere to spend that money. Even the immortals, who can fly with a sword, are not spared—if we mortals, with ordinary bodies, wanted to cross that river, isn’t that just sending food to it?!” 

Lin Rufei listened with a slight frown. He was distressed and didn’t know when this evil jiao would stop. Gu Xuandu, who was standing behind him, spoke out casually: “If Xiao Jiu wants to leave, naturally he will be able to.”

Lin Rufei looked at him.

“Xiao Jiu doesn’t believe me?” Gu Xuandu smiled, “Besides, this evil jiao is also considered my acquaintance. If we talk with him, maybe there’ll be a way.”

Lin Rufei pondered for a moment and then nodded slightly. He told Fu Hua and Yu Rui to first go to an inn for some food.

Recently, it was impossible to cross the river so a large number of merchants were stranded in the inns on both sides of the river. The lobby of the inn was bustling with people drinking and chatting. It was very noisy.

However, as soon as Lin Rufei and his two maids entered, he attracted many eyes.

There were both good intentions and malice in these stares, but most of them were of curiousity as they gawked. It was said that where there were people, there would be Jianghu. Then this inn was considered a small Jianghu.  

When the Xiao Er[4] saw these noble guests, he eagerly served tea and asked whether they were here to eat or stay. Fu Hua ordered two upper rooms and instructed Yu Rui to go with the Xiao Er to organize the rooms, saying that young master was going to use it tonight. She stood behind Lin Rufei with an icy expression, effectively stopping all the inquisitive gazes.

A handsome weak nobleman with a continuous cough and two pretty maids with beautiful faces, such a combination would inevitably attract the attention of all the people outside.

Lin Rufei sat down at the table, picked up a cup of tea, and took a sip. He also didn’t forget to order some food. The inn’s tea tasted bland and it was naturally not as good as the new tea they had brought with them. However, the food tasted pretty good, especially the marinated crispy beef. If it could be paired with some really good wine, it would definitely be delicious. 

It was a pity that Lin Rufei was still coughing so he did not dare drink wine. Such a shame indeed.

As Lin Rufei was thinking, the smell of wine brushed past his nose. Lin Rufei followed the smell and saw a young man in a short shirt. He carried a wine gourd in his hand and smiled as he stared at him. As he felt Lin Rufei’s stare, he wobbled over and came up to Lin Rufei: “Gongzi wants to cross the river?”

Lin Rufei said, “Yes.”

“I can send you across the river.” The young man’s body smelled strongly of alcohol, but his black eyes were bright, “I promise you’ll be okay.”

Lin Rufei said, “Oh, are you serious?”

The young man said, “Of course, I’m serious—”

Before he could finish speaking, the people around him laughed loudly and someone said with a smile, “Jiang Chaoer, don’t talk big, do you think you are as good as your father? Even a powerful boatman like your father died in the mouth of the jiao—”

The people’s taunts became more and more sarcastic: “Little doll, with your three-legged cat[5] kung fu, you dare to take people across the river? Not afraid that the jiao will be angry and swallow you all? Your life might not matter but don’t delay the gongzi-ge[6].”

“Yes. You’re just a hairless brat, how dare you say crazy things, I think it will rain for another half a month. In this half a month, which boatman dares to cross the river?!”

“Jiang Chaoer, do you think that your father’s death was not bad enough? Not even the bones of his body have been found……”

All kinds of words came over earth-shatteringly and the young man, called Jiang Chaoer, was not angry. He continued looking at Lin Rufei with a bright smile. He was thin and did not look too old and was similar to Lin Rufei when he was a teenager. He laughed: “Gongzi, don’t listen to their nonsense. They have less guts than that egg. Once they see the jiao, they are scared to death. I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until next year if we count on them.”

Lin Rufei was a little curious about his confidence: “How come you’re so sure?”

Jiang Chaoer thumped on his not-so-strong chest and said that his family had been boatmen for generations. His ancestors were, grandfather was, father was, now it was finally his turn. The evil jiao started to rage so no one dared to cross and only his family dared.

When people heard this, they started to become rowdy again, saying, “Don’t listen to him talk big, his whole family died on the river. If you believe his bullsh**, you’ll die in the Canglan River!”

Jiang Chaoer spat out: “You group of egg shrews. You’re just afraid to go yourself so why are you still intervening in other people’s business—”

Someone laughed: “Aren’t we just afraid that the Jiang family will end here!” 

The crowd laughed. Jiang Chaoer was not angry and instead let out a cheeky laugh or two himself. He pointed at the person and mocked: “You married three years ago yet there is still no news. I think the straw bag here is you, most likely all that straw is stuffed in you bulging crotch! The chicken in your house, who doesn’t lay eggs, found you, this pile of straw, which I guess is appropriate!” 

(t/n: this had a lot to unpack so I decided to explain it here rather than a footnote. Basically, a straw bag also means an idiot, JCE is calling that man an idiot, I didn’t want to just put “idiot” otherwise the next part about stuffing the straw wouldn’t make sense. The chicken was referring to his wife, who can’t give birth. And that it was appropriate because she found him, who was a pile of straw. Because a pile of straw can’t make babies @.@)

When vulgar people started swearing, it becomes very interesting. Although Jiang Chaoer was not a strong man, his mouth was very powerful, and he could say anything. He made the people who were mocking him earlier turn red and white. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was just a half-grown child, most likely they would all roll up their sleeves and start beating him up. 

Lin Rufei had never seen this kind of formation, so he listened with great interest.

Jiang Chaoer got tired of scolding and shyly went back towards Lin Rufei to ask for water. Lin Rufei chuckled, “Don’t you have wine in the gourd?”

Jiang Chaoer shook his gourd and muttered, “There is not much left. The Gods have not rewarded food this month……one sip equals one sip less.”

Lin Rufei thought about it and then called the Xiao Er to bring out a few jugs of the best wine in the store. Jiang Chaoer immediately brightened up and showed some embarrassment, “Why did gongzi suddenly invite me to drink?”

Lin Rufei smiled, “I am still too sick to drink. Since you like it so much, drink some more for me. If you are willing, we can also talk about the matter regarding the Canglan River.”

Jiang Chaoer hurriedly nodded and drank several cups. He also didn’t forget to chew on two pieces of marinated beef as he gesticulated while talking to Lin Rufei about the ferry and the evil jiao in the Canglan River.

The struggle between the humans and this evil jiao had lasted for a hundred years. It wasn’t like the locals haven’t thought about asking an exiled immortal to kill the evil jiao. However, this jiao was strong and he was also in water, which was a territory he was familiar with and they were afraid that only an exiled immortal with the eighth level of cultivation would be able to subdue him.  

But level eight immortal cultivators only lived in the legends. The lifetime of a mortal was short, even if they lived their whole life, they would yet to see one or two. 

Helpless, the people living by the river came up with various ways to get by the evil jiao and cross the treacherous Canglan River.

After he finished the story, the wine was also almost finished. Touching his bulging belly, he blinked his big eyes and asked if gongzi wanted to take his boat across the river. 

Lin Rufei said, “I’ll think about it overnight and give you an answer.”

“Good, good.” Jiang Chaoer laughed, “Gongzi, I might be small but I am really amazing.” He gave a small hiccup, “I’m sure……I can get you across the river without any problems.”

Lin Rufei smiled and nodded his head.

Only then did Jiang Chaoer reluctantly walk away. 

Gu Xuandu said, “The rain has stopped. Let’s go for a walk?”

Lin Rufei said, “Okay.”

He called Fu Hua over and told her that he wanted to go out for a walk alone.

Fu Hua was a little worried about Lin Rufei’s safety, but seeing his firm attitude, she had no choice but to agree.

After leaving the inn, it was quite clear outside. At this time, the night was getting dark and the sound of waves resounded loudly along the Canglan River. Across the shore, he could still smell a strong scent of fishy water.

“That child is somehow interesting.” Lin Rufei said while walking, “He has high spirits.”

Gu Xuandu said, “He’s a little guy who’s not afraid of death.”

Lin Rufei simply smiled and didn’t say anything after that.

Gu Xuandu asked, “Do you really believe he can take you across?”

Lin Rufei shook his head.

Gu Xuandu said, “Then why don’t you just give him an answer.”

Lin Rufei said, “It’s not a bad thing to leave some hope for the lovely child.” Besides, there was wine and meat, so why spoil the fun?

Gu Xuandu laughed and said, “That’s true.”

The two of them walked to the riverside. Looking high and far, they saw the Canglan River which gradually blended in with the night. The river was turbulent as it slammed heavily against the river bank and on the steep cliffs, one or two sharp ape cries could occasionally be heard.

Lin Rufei rarely saw such beautiful lively water. It was dangerous, but also quite magnificent and majestic. Gu Xuandu stood by his side. He suddenly opened his mouth and let out a “huh.”

Lin Rufei said, “What?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Someone is crossing the river.”

Lin Rufei said, “Crossing the river?”

He looked down carefully. Indeed, there actually was a flimsy ferry boat on the dark river with a thin boatman wearing a hat and holding an oar in his hand. He was fighting against the fierce turbulence and Lin Rufei was quite surprised at this scene: “Isn’t this the Jiang Chaoer who was at the inn?…….”

Gu Xuandu gave a faint smile: “They named him well.”

It was indeed Jiang Chaoer. On the most turbulent night, he quietly got on the boat, and he was the only one on the boat. The Canglan River was treacherous, not only were the currents fast but there were also countless underwater skerries. Even the most experienced boatmen didn’t dare cross at night. Jiang Chaoer was thin and small and as he stood on his small boat, it was like a rapid wave would capsize him at any moment. It made people feel like their hearts were hanging in their throats. 

“There will be no accident, right?” Lin Rufei kind of liked that child so he was slightly worried.

Gu Xuandu shook his head, indicating that he also didn’t dare guarantee.

Both of them were initially a little worried about whether Jiang Chaoer would be tipped over into the river by the next wave. However, after watching for a while, they could see he had a knack for it.

That Jiang Chaoer obviously knew the Canglan River extremely well. He bypassed every possible place where there were underwater skerries and his thin figure stood on board as he separately swung the heavy oar in his hand and resisted one big wave after another. 

The turbid waves couldn’t even break a small fishing boat. Jiang Chaoer was scampering on it and at first, it was as if he would be killed at any moment. However, after watching for a long time, they could see that there was a special rhythm to it. It was as if the majestic river beneath his feet, became something he could easily ride. Although it was wild and untamed, in the end, it could not escape out of his grasp.

Jiang Chaoer, fortunately, was not an insult to his name and was really a master of the tides.

(t/n: his name means River Tide)

Gu Xuandu also watched with great interest, “You’re right, this child is indeed a bit interesting.”

Lin Rufei remarked, “In such a dark river, he doesn’t need to hold a light?”

“He can’t hold a light.” Gu Xuandu said, “The little guy in the river is sensitive to lights. Whoever dares to disturb his sleep at night……” He raised his hand and pointed to the white dead bones hanging on the shore, indicating that that would be their fate.

“You know this jiao?” Lin Rufei remembered Gu Xuandu said that this jiao was his old acquaintance.

“I do know him, but our relationship isn’t very good.” Gu Xuandu laughed.

Lin Rufei said: “How bad is it?”

Gu Xuandu thought about it: “If I had to say, I guess he wouldn’t even give me a bone.”

Lin Rufei thought to himself, That is pretty bad.

As they spoke, Jiang Chaoer had disappeared around the corner of the river bank with the sudden waves and they didn’t know when he would return.

“However, we can give Jiang Chaoer’s boat a try.” Gu Xuandu said, “I don’t like this inn.”

“Why don’t you like it?” Lin Rufei said.

Gu Xuandu turned his head to look at him, “Because the people in the inn all like to stare at you. It makes me want to gouge their eyes out.”

Lin Rufei was stunned and met Gu Xuandu’s eyes.

Gu Xuandu chuckled lightly, “Just kidding.”

Lin Rufei: “Are you really kidding?”

Gu Xuandu: “Really.”

Lin Rufei: “……” Why did he think that the last sentence was the joke?

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: I like you

Lin Rufei: Really?

Gu Xuandu: I’m just joking.

Lin Rufei: ……. Really?

Gu Xuandu: I lied.

Lin Rufei: ?

Gu Xuandu: I wasn’t joking. 

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[1] Jiao is a water-dwelling dragon with scales, it’s more of an “aquatic reptile” than an actual Chinese dragon so in order to avoid confusion, I will be using the pinyin. 

[2] Idiom meaning a narrow escape from death. 

[3] Most important person. 

[4] Xiao Er means “Little Two” this is how they typically call the waiter/server. I didn’t want to write “waiter” because I feel like keeping it as the original makes it feel more authentic(?) 

[5] This means unprofessional in doing something, so when it is followed by Kung fu, it means you suck at Kung fu.  

[6] Means a pampered son of a wealthy family, I didn’t want to make it too wordy so I used the pinyin.  

Chapter 26: Accumulated Water Becomes an Abyss

Lin Rufei and Gu Xuandu conversed by the riverside for quite some time. 

Even when the sky turned completely dark, they did not see Jiang Chaoer come back. Gu Xuandu said that according to his estimate, a round trip on the river would probably take the whole night and it would take at least until tomorrow morning for Jiang Chaoer to come back.

Lin Rufei said: “Tomorrow morning, won’t the evil jiao be awake then?”  

Gu Xuandu said, “Not necessarily.”

But looking at Jiang Chaoer’s skills, it was obvious that he had done this kind of thing more than once or twice so Lin Rufei was finally a little relieved. After seeing that it was getting late, he decided to head back to the inn. 

After nightfall, the inn was much quieter and the halls were empty with no one in sight.

The Xiao Er led Lin Rufei to the upper rooms. Inside, Fu Hua and Yu Rui had prepared freshly boiled water and they helped him wash up. 

Lin Rufei changed his clothes and under Gu Xuandu’s urging, he bitterly drank a dose of medicine. His whole face wrinkled together with the bitter taste and muttered that he hadn’t been coughing that much anymore so it was fine if he didn’t drink the medicine. 

Gu Xuandu just looked at him and kept quiet until Lin Rufei sighed and crawled into bed. He lifted up the covers and wrapped himself tightly. 

“Lights out.” Gu Xuandu said.

Lin Rufei hummed in agreement and the room immersed into dark. The sound of waves resounded in his ears and the wind was bitterly cold, he didn’t know what the weather would be like tomorrow.

The next day, it was light rain.

The inn, which was mixed with fishes and dragons[1], was bustling with activity early in the morning. The lobby was full of talking and yelling, and there were even drinking buddies playing morra[2]. Although it could never compare to the quietness of Kunlun, there was still some mundaneness to it. 

Lin Rufei’s cough was much better compared to a few days ago, however, he still did not sleep well. He lazily sat up and saw Gu Xuandu leaning on the side of the bed, looking at the morning river scenery. When he saw him wake up, he smiled, and said good morning to him.

“Good morning.” Lin Rufei rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t even out of bed yet when Gu Xuandu helped him fetch his clothes and then helped him change. Looking at his actions, he was even more skilled than Fu Hua and Yu Rui.

Lin Rufei’s sleepy eyes were lax, and before he could react, his clothes were already on.

“That boy is back.” Gu Xuandu helped Lin Rufei fasten his last jade belt and commented, “He came back at dawn, which was earlier than I estimated.” The sky wasn’t bright at dawn during this season, and the jiao lurking in the river had yet to wake up, so it was naturally much safer than the daytime.

“Back?” Lin Rufei muttered in confusion, “It’s good that he came back……”

When Gu Xuandu took in this appearance of his, he really wanted to laugh. Every time Lin Rufei woke up from his sleep, he would be confused and dazed for a while before completely waking up. During that period, he would be incomparably obedient. If you tell him to do something, he would do it. On Kunlun, he would throw a few temper tantrums and refuse to drink the medicine. In the end, his older siblings would take advantage of him when he just woke up and coax him to drink the medicine. Of course, after drinking the medicine, Lin Rufei would finally sober up. The cough medicine was as bitter as could be and no matter who drank it, their face would inevitably wrinkle in bitterness.  

After washing up, Lin Rufei’s consciousness gradually cleared up. He stayed in the room and ate the breakfast brought in by his maids. Currently, he was having a discussion with Gu Xuandu: “Then do you think we can take that little guy’s boat to cross the river?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Of course we can, just because God can’t control it doesn’t mean we have to be bullied by a little jiao.” 

Lin Rufei said, “Little jiao?”

Gu Xuandu said, “The jiao matures after a thousand years. I calculated, he is only six hundred years old so he is a little guy.” 

Lin Rufei thought to himself, “six hundred years old” and the word “little guy” didn’t seem to go together. 

“This rain will stop around the afternoon. We can leave tonight.” Gu Xuandu chewed on the food from the inn. He didn’t really like it, “This inn is full of fishes and dragons, very annoying.”

Lin Rufei said, “Okay.”

After he finished his breakfast, he went down the stairs towards the inn lobby. Before he even arrived, he heard Jiang Chaoer’s energetic voice. The little teenager was drinking from his recently filled wine gourd as he danced around and told the crowd that he almost died on the river last night. He vaguely saw the bad-tempered jiao, but luckily the jiao didn’t see this shrimp so he sank back into the water to sleep.

(t/n: the shrimp is referring to JCE) 

The people who were listening started to laugh, saying, ‘Jiang Chaoer, you should stop drinking, you’re already spouting drunk nonsense. Who dares to cross the river at night, you’re bragging is too exaggerated.’ 

Even though people mocked Jiang Chaoer, he was not the least bit annoyed. Instead, he laughed and changed the subject. When he saw Lin Rufei coming down from the stairs, his black eyes lit up, and in a sweet voice, he called out: “Lin Gongzi——”

Lin Rufei smiled, “Drinking so early?”

Jiang Chaoer said, “I didn’t sleep well last night, so I have some wine during the day to refresh myself.” He yawned, “Has gongzi decided when to cross the river?”

Lin Rufei said, “Tonight.”

“What?” Jiang Chaoer thought he had heard wrong.

“I said we will cross the river tonight and take your boat.” Lin Rufei said in a warm voice.

When these words came out, the entire inn fell silent. Everyone looked at Lin Rufei with incredulous eyes, all with the expression of “what kind of wrong medicine did this gongzi take,” and even Jiang Chaoer himself looked at him incredulously.

He stammered, “Gong-Gongzi, w-what did you say?” He thought he had misheard.

Lin Rufei then repeated what he had just said again.

After hearing this, Jiang Chaoer burst out laughing and leaped up to Lin Rufei like a wild monkey. He was jumping up and down and was so excited that he almost spilled the wine. He gazed at Lin Rufei and said loudly: “Gongzi, you’re not joking?”  

Lin Rufei said, “I never make uninteresting jokes.”

Jiang Chao howled with excitement, and if not for Fu Hua and Yu Rui, he would have hugged Lin Rufei and spun him around.

(t/n: for those who might be confused at why sometimes it’s Jiang Chaoer and sometimes it’s Jiang Chao, the -er at the end is kind of a dialect thing so it doesn’t change the name ^-^, sometimes -er can be used as an endearment too)

The people in the inn all looked like they had seen a ghost and some kind-hearted people even stood out to advise, “Gongzi, you must not listen to this kid’s nonsense. He never goes down the river, if you go on his boat, it’s the same as entering the gates of hell!” 

As Lin Rufei listened to these words, he simply smiled and didn’t respond to the onlooker’s advice. Someone, who had been watching the situation, became a little angry by this. Just as he was about to open his mouth and say something aggressive to this ungrateful gongzi, he saw a flash of white light in front of his eyes. After coming back to his senses, the wooden table in front of him had been split in half. 

“Be careful of what you say, everyone.” Fu Hua, who had been silent behind Lin Rufei, threatened in a cold voice.

Jiang Chaoer was indifferent. He was still smiling brightly and said that he had checked on the weather. This evening, there would be no rain, so he would take Lin Rufei to cross the river. However, he couldn’t take the carriage over, but if they could dismantle anything valuable inside the carriage that would be good and also if they could sell the horse.  

Lin Rufei said that there was no need. The two horses were very spiritual and could be released today. After a few days, they would return to Kunlun on their own. 

When Jiang Chaoer heard the word “Kunlun,” his expression changed slightly and his big grin was reduced, “Gongzi……is an exiled immortal from Kunlun?”

Lin Rufei said, “I am not.” He pointed to Fu Hua and Yu Rui who were standing beside him, “They are.”

Jiang Chaoer’s pupil straightened. Although Lin Rufei said he was not an exiled immortal, but being able to have exiled immortals as maids, this gongzi must be very powerful. 

“Although they are exiled immortals, this river crossing still depends on you.” Lin Rufei said, “Do you think tonight is okay?” 

(t/n: might not have made sense, but exiled immortals are just immortals living in the human realm. Because they aren’t in the heaven realm, people call them “exiled” hope that makes sense)

“Naturally it’s okay, naturally it’s okay.” Jiang Chaoer was excited.

The matter was soon settled and Lin Rufei and Jiang Chaoer booked the time and price. The time was set at around midnight of tonight and as for the price, Lin Rufei took out a piece of broken gold from his sleeve. He said that as long as they were able to cross, this was the reward money for Jiang Chaoer. Jiang Chaoer was so happy that his face turned red. After a few more gulps of wine, he said he was going to rest for half a day and at night, he would come to find Lin Rufei. After finishing his words, finally, he reluctantly left.  

After Fu Hua showed her skills, no one in the inn dared to offend Lin Rufei again. Even in the area where he sat, there was no one around. 

Lin Rufei drank a cup of tea and then was called outside by Gu Xuandu.

At this time it was still drizzling and a layer of dense fog rose up on the river. Under the fog was the turbulent river. The river was dim and huge dark shadows could be seen hovering and swimming, making the people watching shiver in fear. 

“Tonight won’t be peaceful. When something happens, don’t use your hands to block.” Gu Xuandu took off Gu Yu that was hanging on his waist and handed it to Lin Rufei, “Just use Gu Yu.”

Lin Rufei said, “Is it appropriate?”

“There is nothing inappropriate.” Gu Xuandu said lazily, “I also wanted to give you Shuang Jiang, but……”

Lin Rufei said, “But what?”

Gu Xuandu didn’t say anything and simply handed Shuang Jiang to Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei curiously reached out to take hold it and he almost broke his back. Luckily, Gu Xuandu helped him so he didn’t fall down, but he couldn’t help but marvel when he stood up, “It’s heavy.”

“Although Shuang Jiang is small, in the end, it is still thirteen pounds.” Gu Xuandu laughed and said, “Hanging a thirteen-pound iron on the waist…….” Before he could finish his sentence, Shuang Jiang, which was currently in Lin Rufei’s hands, emitted an unpleasant buzzing sound. It was as if rebuking Gu Xuandu for calling him heavy.  

Gu Xuandu took Shuang Jiang and said in a warm voice: “Gu Yu is just right for you right now.”

Lin Rufei took hold of Gu Yu. For some reason, he was slightly nervous, and with a slight force on his right hand, he pulled the snow-white blade of Gu Yu out of its scabbard.

The body of Gu Yu was black. It was three foot seven and weighed around eight pounds and seven taels. The blade was engraved with several deep horizontal lines and even if Lin Rufei did not understand swords, he knew that it must be a good sword. The fact that it was easy to pull it out also meant that Gu Yu acknowledged him. Lin Rufei’s heart was pleased and he reached out to brush the blade—feeling the coldness of the metal. Gu Yu buzzed and trembled in response.

Lin Rufei tenderly gazed at the sword in his hand for a long time and when he looked back up again, he noticed that Gu Xuandu also showed the same expression. Only, he was looking at the sword and Gu Xuandu was looking at him.

“Let’s go back. It’s cold outside, don’t catch a cold again.” Gu Xuandu said softly.

Lin Rufei smiled: “Okay, let’s go.”

He suddenly had an extra sword at his waist and was worried that Fu Hua and Yu Rui would ask. But the two maids were very self-aware and did not show anything different from the beginning to the end. This was a relief for Lin Rufei, who did not have to think about how to explain.

The rain stopped in the afternoon, but the sky was still cloudy and not clear.

Fu Hua packed the stuff that was in the carriage and hesitantly asked Lin Rufei whether they really intended to cross the river with Jiang Chao, that little guy. After getting a positive answer from Lin Rufei, she let out a sigh. She bit her lower lip and showed a look of distress. 

Lin Rufei roughly guessed what she was thinking and gently patted her head in order to ease her panic: “Don’t worry, that Jiang Chaoer is a great boatman.”

Fu Hua said: “But he is still so small……”

Lin Rufei laughed: “He is fourteen this year, you are not much older than him, ah.”

“That’s not the same.” Fu Hua muttered.

“It’s the same, the same. He might be skinny, but he is quite reliable.” Lin Rufei said, “I saw him cross the Canglan River alone last night and he only came back this morning.” 

“Really?” Fu Hua was surprised.

Lin Rufei said, “Naturally.”

With his words, Fu Hua reluctantly put herself at ease, however, she was still a bit apprehensive. She walked back and forth around the corridor with a cold expression. Those who knew her, knew that she was nervous. Those that didn’t know her, would think that she was sulking.

The night was getting late. Lin Rufei had just finished his dinner when Jiang Chaoer, who was carrying his wine gourd, rushed into the inn in a blaze of glory and called out to Lin Rufei with a smile, “Lin gongzi——”

Lin Rufei said, “You’re here?”

“I’m here, I’m here.” Jiang Chaoer wiped his face, “After I eat something, we will leave.”

As he said this, he asked the Xiao Er for a few steamed buns and then proceeded to devour them cleanly with tea. He patted the crumbs off of his hands and then waved at Lin Rufei, signaling for him to follow him. 

When the two of them were talking, the people in the inn didn’t say anything, but most of them had mocking looks on their faces. Some were even laughing and gloating. They obviously thought that Lin Rufei, this gongzi-ge, had water in his brains. He actually trusted Jiang Chaoer, a half-grown boy who was not even hairy.

Towards these kinds of things, Lin Rufei had always been too lazy to explain. With Fu Hua and Yu Rui in tow, they followed Jiang Chaoer out of the inn.

Outside the inn, there was a stone-paved path. Following the path, they would reach the river and on the riverside, there was a simple dock. The dock had a lot of ropes tied to a number of boats. There were beautiful big boats, but also small fishing boats like Jiang Chaoer’s.

Perhaps because he felt that his boat wasn’t very beautiful, Jiang Chaoer was a little embarrassed and said, “The boat is small, I hope gongzi won’t mind.”

Lin Rufei found the boat interesting and smiled, “How long has this boat been used?”

“It was handed down from my ancestors, and it’s been lucky. It has never been overturned.” As Jiang Chaoer said this, his eyes drooped in despair and he murmured in a small voice, “If my father had used this boat then he probably wouldn’t have……..” He paused but then smiled again, “You don’t have to worry about it being crude. I mend it often. It works very well!” 

The boat was indeed very small and the cabin could barely accommodate three people. Lin Rufei let Fu Hua and Yu Rui stay inside. He decided to sit on the deck and watched Jiang Chaoer skillfully release the rope before holding onto the oars.

The ropes were released and the swaying boat soon entered the river. Gu Xuandu sat opposite Lin Rufei. He bent down sideways and ran his hands through the dim yellow river water.  

“Gongzi, it is windy and rough on the river so you should sit firmly.” Jiang Chaoer raised a bright smile and gave a long yell, “Leaving the river——” As he said this, he swung the oars in his hand. The boat followed the turbulent water and headed straight towards the heart of the river.  

On the shore of the inn, many people stood watching. When they saw Jiang Chaoer’s boat actually leaving the pier and entering the Canglan River, many people were amazed and awestricken.

Until just now, everyone took Jiang Chaoer’s words as a bragging joke. Now that the boat had entered the river and Jiang Chaoer was swinging the oar, the crowd suddenly woke up. The child was actually serious.  

The river wind was strong and it sent Lin Rufei’s black hair flying and his two sleeves swinging. The boat underneath him swayed in the river, as if in the next moment it would be capsized by the big waves. Jiang Chaoer, who was standing in the bow of the boat, became the ship’s anchor. The river water splashed up and soaked his shirt hem, but the young man’s face still hung an exaggerated smile. He drank a mouthful of wine from the gourd in his arms and said: “Young master, attention—we’re gonna turn—” As he said that, he pulled up the sail violently and adjusted the direction of the boat.

The boat was blown by the wind and turned a corner, avoiding the hidden skerry beneath. Lin Rufei’s first time crossing the river was such a novel experience and he found it particularly interesting as he watched with rapt attention.

“Gongzi, hold on tight!” Jiang Chaoer shouted.

Another violent wave hit and the boat made a toothache-ing creak. Lin Rufei held the mast and looked at the river whistling on both sides. He raised his voice: “How many times have you been back and forth?”

“I don’t remember—” Jiang Chaoer laughed, “After my father died, I was the only one left in the family. I thought that my family’s craft could not be buried like this, so I wanted to be a ferryman. But unfortunately, I am young and thin, so not many customers believe me!”

Made sense. Compared with other robust ferrymen, Jiang Chaoer’s appearance really made it hard for people to believe. In addition, the Canglan River was dangerous, which ferryman would dare to joke with his own life?

“But it doesn’t matter, when I am older, I will be the most powerful ferryman here. If gongzi wants to take a boat, come to me, I promise to bring you safely to your destination—” The wildness of this teenager was not annoying to him. Jiang Chaoer smiled frankly and used a childish tone while saying the wildest words.

Lin Rufei was infected by his smile and laughed along with him.

“After this big bend, it will be the area where the evil jiao is perched.” Jiang Chaoer reached out and wiped a handful of water off his face. He yelled to the point of his straining, “There are more skerries and whirlpools. Gongzi you best sit down, be careful not to slip into the water!”

Both sides of the river were as steep as canyons. When people crossed the river, it was as if they were the mayflies in the sky. The mayflies followed the river, turned the corner on a steep bend, before disappearing in the eyes of the inn crowd.

The sky was too dark and the crowd could no longer see clearly the appearance of Jiang Chaoer. However, they could still vaguely see a small boat swaying downstream. The river was rapid, but it could not capsize the boat. The boatman that had scolded Jiang Chao before, lowered his head and spat at the ground: “That boy must be laughing again.” After saying this, he couldn’t help but reveal a smile as well.

After the big bend in the canyon, the scenery on both sides gradually changed. Pines and cypresses stood on the steep cliff walls, decorating the bare yellow rocks into a green color. Birds were chirping and apes were crying, however, the loudest sound was still the river flowing under their feet.

“It will take at least three hours to get there and back. Leaving is quite quick, but coming back is troublesome.” Jiang Chaoer saw that Lin Rufei was full of curiosity so he started to introduce the Canglan River, “But the good thing is that in the early morning, the river wind will blow south. I ride the south wind back. It isn’t too tiring, but I need to pay more attention.”

Lin Rufei said, “Have you encountered the evil jiao before?”

“Sigh. I’ve long realized. The jiao often comes out during the day to eat people, but when night comes, there isn’t much movement. I have never encountered it during my nightly crossings, but when the early morning comes, I need to be careful.” Jiang Chaoer laughed, “Not many people dare to cross at night……especially when the river starts to rage, it’s almost as difficult as the jiao.” 

The river was turbulent at night and the view wasn’t good. Unless absolutely necessary, almost no one crossed at night. It was also when Jiang Chaoer, this fearless bold boy, took the chance to go back and forth, memorizing the entire river.

The boat went forward for a while and seemed to have passed the most dangerous position. Jiang Chaoer sounded the horn in a good mood. However, Gu Xuandu, who was sitting opposite Lin Rufei and was watching the mountain scenery with leisure, suddenly stood up and gave a tsk as if he was dissatisfied.

“Senior?” Lin Rufei sensitively perceived something.

As expected, Gu Xuandu said, “Here it comes.”

The original rapids of the river suddenly began to gurgle and bubble, and when Jiang Chaoer saw this sight, his face changed greatly and he looked at the side of the boat in horror.

Although the sky was very dark, they could vaguely see a huge shadow slowly moving underwater before it eventually enveloped the whole boat.

The two people who had been in the cabin, Fu Hua and Yu Rui, also perceived something and raised their hands to lift the curtain.

“How, how?!” Jiang Chaoer was full of despair. He watched as the shadows around the boat gradually rose to the surface and his voice trembled, “Doesn’t it sleep at night, how can it be—”

The shadows were becoming more and more obvious, and even the raised dorsal fins were beginning to surface. The dorsal fins were full of tight black scales and sharp bone spines. Without needing to guess, it was obvious who the owner of the shadow was.  

Circle after circle, the shadows slowly surrounded the dilapidated boat. Followed by a long hiss, the water rumbled and a huge object slowly rose out from the river, bringing with it a sense of oppression that covered the entire sky. Above the giant, sat a pair of long narrow eyes emitting a yellowish glow and those erected pupils looked incomparably evil.

This night, lurking in the river, the evil jiao actually did not sleep. Jiang Chaoer sat on the boat floor dumbfoundedly as his eyes stared at the behemoth in front of him.

Compared with the evil jiao, his boat was not even the size of its finger. It seemed that with one breath, the wooden boat would easily break into several pieces.  

“Gongzi……gongzi, hurry and escape……” He didn’t know when he had mustered the courage, but Jiang Chaoer grabbed the oar. His body was shaking as he grit his teeth and stood up. Quickly, he rushed in front of Lin Rufei, blocking him from view, and said in a trembling voice, “Quickly let your maids take you and escape. I, I will stop him.”

A hand gently rested on Jiang Chaoer’s shoulder. He turned around and saw the gongzi he had just spoken of. The gongzi’s face was still smiling, and the smile was not at all forced. Instead, his smile seemed to be comforting him as he slowly spoke: “You go in first and hide with them.”

Jiang Chaoer froze.

Then, the gongzi said a sentence to Jiang Chaoer that he would never forget, “Go. Don’t stand outside, lest the river water soaks your body later.”

Gongzi……was just worried about him getting wet? Jiang Chaoer was lost in thought. As if in response to his thoughts, the huge evil jiao in front of him suddenly opened his mouth and issued a violent hiss. The wind carried a fishy smell and it pounded against his face and he even caught a glimpse of the jiao’s mouth, which was filled with rows of fine sharp teeth……If it really bit down, it would be very painful……This was Jiang Chaoer’s last thought before he fainted.

Gu Xuandu stepped forward and stood in front of Lin Rufei as he faced the oncoming fishy wind. He very unhappily pinched his nose with his hand and even reached out his hand to fan the air, complaining in disgust: “Stop shouting, you have bad breath.” 

When the words came out, Lin Rufei saw that on the evil jiao’s face, an expression of being wronged surfaced. 

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: Xiao Jiu purposefully fumigated me!

Lin Rufei thought for a while, then gave Gu Xuandu two big garlic chive buns.

Gu Xuandu: ………….

He felt it, his throat hurts as if he was stuffed with something really bad _(:з」∠)_

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[1] Idiom meaning “crooks mixed in with the honest folk” 

[2] When I tried to find the English equivalent this popped up, the basic idea is that it is a drinking game involving fingers and shouting. I’ve seen people play but I never understood the rules myself.

Chapter 27: The Jiao Leaves

This was the first time Lin Rufei saw a jiao. 

This creature had been living in the stories and pictures books that Lin Rufei read. However, no matter how vivid the text described the creature, it could not be compared to the shock of seeing it with his own eyes. The jiao was more than ten feet tall when it stood and it was as tall as the steep canyon cliffs on their sides. Its huge body was covered with dense black scales and these scales seemed to be indestructible as it undulated with the movement of its breath. 

The evil jiao was now lowering its head and looking at the boat which was as small as a mole. Lin Rufei also raised his head and he stared at the eyes that were bigger than lanterns. He noticed that on the left side of the jiao’s head, a horn was missing. It was just as the boatman said, it was injured by the Heavenly Ruler and lost a jiao horn.  

Faced with this behemoth in front of him, Fu Hua and Yu Rui were so nervous that they didn’t dare breathe. They wanted to draw their sword, but they were suppressed by the jiao’s aura and could not move.

The evil jiao was on the seventh level of cultivation, plus it had scales that could not be broken by mortal swords. Even if an eighth level sword cultivator came, it would probably be a tough battle. Fifth level cultivators like Fu Hua and Yu Rui probably couldn’t even satisfy it.  

However, Lin Rufei did not feel afraid. He listened to Gu Xuandu’s disgusted words and saw in the jiao’s pair of bright yellow eyes, a feeling of being wronged. So he looked at Gu Xuandu, and asked: “Why are you scolding him?”

Gu Xuandu said: “When did I scold him? Do you not smell it?”

Lin Rufei said, “I do smell it……” 

The evil jiao eats meat, so meat scraps were naturally stuck in the gaps of its teeth. Therefore, the smell was naturally unpleasant. However, since it took the time to aggressively come knocking on their door, and their first thoughts were of disgust, he felt that it was a bit inappropriate.

Gu Xuandu said in disgust: “Did you hear that? He also smelled it.” 

After he said this, the jiao’s wide-open mouth really closed. However, a heavy exhale still exited its nostrils, bringing along wet wind. Lin Rufei couldn’t dodge in time and a fish directly smacked against his shoulder. He let out an “ah,” and Gu Xuandu, who saw the situation, rolled up his sleeves, pointing at the jiao’s nose. He started to scold viciously: “Bastard! What are you doing, are you looking for a fight?!!!”

Evil jiao: “……”

Lin Rufei rubbed his shoulder and hissed in pain.

Gu Xuandu hurriedly went forward to check and only after seeing no serious injury, did he let out a breath of relief. He then once again fiercely glared at the jiao.  

The evil jiao that was being glared at, actually let out a few grunts. Its tail heavily swayed in the river, smashing against the steep river bank and causing a large area of debris to rumble down. 

“Alright, alright. I know what you’re waiting for.” Gu Xuandu said, “But who would have guessed that so many things would happen. Although we were a little late, didn’t we still come?”

The evil jiao immediately stretched its head closer. Its head was huge as it hung overhead and covered the whole sky. Looking up, one could only see the smooth black scales that were on its head. Lin Rufei wanted to take a few steps back but Gu Xuandu pulled his hand and said: “He’s asking for a title. This title[1], it will be given by you.” 

Lin Rufei was surprised and said, “A title?”

Gu Xuandu nodded his head.

Legend had it that when a jiao became a dragon, it had to pass through the three tribulations of Heaven, Earth, and Man: Heaven was the heavenly thunder tribulation, Earth was the tribulation of water, and Man was the tribulation of a title. Before the jiao turned into a dragon, it needed to find an immortal. The immortal needed to tell the jiao words that would allow it to transform and this would be considered proof of receiving the title. However, if the immortal had bad intentions and said that the jiao looked like a snake, then the jiao’s hundred years of cultivation would be all invalidated and it would turn back to its original form and would have to start over. 

The jiao that had received a title would go into the water and follow the Summer flood all the way towards the sea. Once it reached the sea, the jiao would shed its black skin and that would be considered a successful transformation into a dragon. 

It was easy to say but difficult to do. There were only a few jiaos that had successfully transformed into dragons in the past thousand years. The evil jiao in front of him was already six hundred years old, considering its age, it was indeed the time to ask for a title. 

However, Lin Rufei was only a mortal. What was the use for the jiao to ask him for a title?

Lin Rufei was still thinking about this when the evil jiao hummed twice and lowered its head. With its smooth and shiny head, it gently touched Lin Rufei. Although it used a gentle force, Lin Rufei had the feeling that he was struck by a carriage and if not for Gu Xuandu holding his hand, he probably would have flown out. 

Lin Rufei could not help but cover his chest as he started coughing violently. When Gu Xuandu saw this, he grew furious. He lifted his foot and aimed at the jiao’s body and this time, he did not hold back. The jiao’s head was kicked and thrown back violently that it almost brought the little boat down with it. 

“Cough cough cough, cough cough cough!!!” Lin Rufei covered his chest and bent over, waving his hand at the evil jiao.

The evil jiao’s bright eyes carried a strong sense of confusion, as if he did not understand why Lin Rufei reacted in such a way.

“Don’t……don’t come over……” Seeing that it intended to bring its head over again, Lin Rufei panicked, “If, If you touch me again, I’m really going to die!” 

Gu Xuandu gritted his teeth. He desperately wanted to rush up and give it two more hits: “Stay away from him. Don’t move your head closer—stop acting spoiled—”

Lin Rufei almost choked: “This is acting spoiled?”

Gu Xuandu: “Mnn.”

Lin Rufei was speechless.

The jiao let out two rumbles from its throat, as if it was complaining to itself about something and then its bright yellow eyes rolled with a hint of cunningness. It spat out its tongue, which was somewhat similar to a snake due to the very obvious fork, and it came straight at Lin Rufei. 

Lin Rufei was frozen in place as he felt his waist being wrapped by the tongue. Gu Xuandu, who was standing at his side, raged: “Remove it—do you not want your other horn anymore—”

However, the evil jiao seized the opportunity to lick Lin Rufei up and down at least once before reluctantly withdrawing its tongue.

Lin Rufei’s body was covered in wet and sticky saliva from its lick. Not to mention the fishy smell, there were even a few fish and shrimp. He was at a loss: “Xuandu…….” He was so shocked that he forgot to add the word “senior.” 

When Gu Xuandu, who was originally in a rage, heard the word “Xuandu,” he suddenly calmed down and said, “What did you call me?” 

Lin Rufei said, “Xuandu……” He looked down at his hands which were full of mucus and his expression slumped, “I…..”  

Gu Xuandu smiled and said, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Just take a shower later.” As he said this, he gave the evil jiao a kick—the jiao that was kicked away tentatively tried to move its head over again.

“Title, what title? How do I give it a title?” Lin Rufei finally came back to his senses. He immediately wanted to send the evil jiao in front of him away so he hastily asked, “If I give it a title, does that mean it will go away?”

Gu Xuandu’s Adam’s apple moved slightly. In the end, he did not dare tell Lin Rufei that this evil jiao also wanted him to help it floss. Fearing that these words would scare Lin Rufei, he muddlely nodded: “Yes, yes, yes. Once you say it, he will go away.”  

Lin Rufei turned his head and said to the evil jiao, who was excited and agitated again: “You are a dragon, you are a dragon, you are a dragon—” He was afraid that the evil jiao could not hear clearly, so he said it three times in a row.

After he finished those three sentences, the evil jiao let out a long whistle and its long body loosened from the little boat that it was entangled with. The black scales on its body began to fall off in large chunks and new scales were starting to form. Although they were still black, the new ones carried a touch of dark gold. 

The body of the evil jiao stirred in the river and it knocked down countless rocks. The river trembled and soared, as if something was going to gush out of it.

The boat swayed on the torrent, but it never sank. Only when the black scales of the jiao gradually finished molting, did the river calm down once again.

In a trance, Lin Rufei felt that this scene was somewhat familiar, as if he had seen it somewhere before. 

Gu Xuandu chided: “Stop twisting!”

The evil jiao spewed out a mouthful of water at Gu Xuandu. Gu Xuandu, who had been prepared for it, waved it away with his sword as he said indignantly, “It is indeed my fault for leaving you here for 300 years, but since I have fulfilled my promise, you should also leave this place and stop causing trouble in the river and harming passing merchants!”

The jiao let out a groan.

No one knew what was meant by the groan, but Gu Xuandu looked at Lin Rufei, who was standing beside him, and said indifferently, “I know.”

Only then did the jiao turn around, but its bright yellow eyes still held a strong sense of longing. 

“Go.” Gu Xuandu said in a deep voice, “You can’t stay here anymore!”

The huge body of the evil jiao did not enter the river. Instead, it formed into a dark shadow and slowly went in the direction downstream. In a few months, it would be flood season. That would be the best day for the jiao to leave and when it finally followed the flood into the sea, it would no longer be a jiao. Rather, it would be a sea dragon that could swallow clouds and exhale fog. 

But for some reason, the moment it dived into the water, it suddenly remembered hundreds of years ago, the young immortal, who picked his teeth with the blade of his sword, donning an expression of disgust.

The sound of the waves remained the same. The jiao could no longer be seen and the boat fell back onto the river—following the flow of the river downstream. 

The unconscious Jiang Chaoer slowly sat up and saw the expressionless Lin Rufei standing at the bow of the boat. Only, compared to before he fell unconscious, the noble gongzi in front of him seemed to be in a difficult situation. His body was wet and the two maids were frowning as they used sword Qi to help him clean the stains on his clothes. However, the stains seemed to be a bit special, no matter how much they tried, the stains remained.

Finally, the gongzi gave up. He let out a long sigh. Rubbing his sore shoulders he said that they didn’t need to wipe anymore. When he saw Jiang Chaoer wake up, he asked him how long it would take to arrive at the dock downstream.

Jiang Chaoer vaguely remembered that before he fell unconscious, he saw a giant jiao head. However, now, the surrounding was empty and he only saw cliffs. There wasn’t a trace of the jiao; it was as if the horrible sight he saw was just a nightmare. 

“About half an hour.” Jiang Chaoer said, “After crossing the water beach in front of us, we will soon reach the dock in the north of Xinzhou.”

Lin Rufei was relieved. Looking at the sticky liquid all over his body, he couldn’t regain his spirit for a long time. 

Gu Xuandu said this was also considered dragon saliva. It was difficult to remove with sword Qi, but it could easily be cleaned with water.

Lin Rufei sat with his head hanging over the side of the boat. In his heart, he was hoping to get to the dock soon, otherwise, he felt he was going to stink for a long time.

Jiang Chaoer lifted the oar again. While controlling the direction of the boat, he cautiously asked about what had happened.

Lin Rufei pondered over his words before telling him that he had persuaded the jiao in the river to leave and that it would no longer stir up trouble here again. 

Jiang Chaoer’s eyes widened, seemingly in disbelief: You persuaded it to leave, and it left?” 

Lin Rufei said, “It left.”

Jiang Chaoer said, “Did it really leave?”

Lin Rufei nodded his head.

Jiang Chaoer wanted to ask a lot of things, but because there were too many words, they piled up in his throat and he couldn’t spit out a word for a quite some time. Lin Rufei leaned against the mast listlessly. Because of the sticky liquid on his body, he felt that even the scenery on both sides of the shore was not so attractive.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui sat in the cabin with blank expressions. The two of them had witnessed everything that happened on the boat, but they didn’t understand what Lin Rufei had actually said to make the jiao leave easily. They obviously grew up with him, but because of a cherry blossom tree, there was a sudden influx of many imperceptible secrets.

Yu Rui didn’t know, but Fu Hua could vaguely feel that their gongzi’s body had already touched the heavenly path and it wasn’t something that fifth-level cultivators like them could pry. So from the beginning to the end, she did not speak out to ask. 

The boat reached the riverbank and the scenery on both sides finally opened up. It was no longer steep cliff walls, but a smooth river surface and after passing the most treacherous section, the plains of Xinzhou were reached. The plain was vast and wide and a large ship could be seen in the distance slowly moving on it. The lights on board were bright and the enchanting accents of the opera singers could be faintly heard.

Jiang Chaoer’s boat finally stopped at the pier. Lin Rufei stepped onto the smooth riverbank and said goodbye to this teenage ferryman.

“Gongzi, is the evil jiao in the river really gone?” Jiang Chaoer once again asked in a whisper.

“It’s gone.” Lin Rufei said.

“That’s great.” Jiang Chaoer grabbed the gourd and took two gulps. He muttered, “That’s really great……”

“Go on.” Lin Rufei said, “There’s no need to be in such a hurry when you head back. Have a safe trip.”

“Thank you, gongzi.” Jiang Chaoer showed his usual smile. He nodded to Lin Rufei, paddled the boat, and turned around. He left the pier while sounding the horn happily.

The young man’s back was still a bit frail, but only the boat passengers who took his boat would know that this little ferryman was actually very powerful.

Lin Rufei, with his body covered in slimy saliva, went to the nearest inn at the pier. He immediately asked for hot water, intending to take a good bath.

When the hot water was brought into the room, Lin Rufei couldn’t wait to strip naked and get into the bathtub. Feeling as the hot water diffuse over his shoulders, he let out a comfortable sigh. As he was taking a bath, Gu Xuandu was watching from the side. Lin Rufei thought that since they were both men, there was nothing inappropriate, so he did not drive Gu Xuandu out. However, Gu Xuandu looked a little uncomfortable and did not look at him at all. Rather, he sat by the window, as if he was looking at the scenery outside.

Lin Rufei looked at Gu Xuandu. He felt that he was about to catch a cold so his voice was softer than usual, “Senior?”

Gu Xuandu: “Hmm?”

Lin Rufei said, “What are you looking at?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Just looking outside.”

Lin Rufei questioned suspiciously, “The window is not even open, how can you look outside.”

Gu Xuandu was silent for a moment before he calmly said, “It’s windy outside. If I open the window, you’ll catch a cold. I can see even through the window.”

Lin Rufei: “Really?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Really.”

Lin Rufei really believed it. He lifted up the hot water and slowly wiped off the mucus on his body, only to find an exaggerated bruise on his shoulder. After carefully thinking about it, it was probably from the fish that the jiao had spewed out. At that time it felt quite painful, he did not expect it to be really quite serious. His skin was born pale and it was easy to leave marks. Just a causal bump would leave a bruise that wouldn’t disappear on him for a long time. This time, there was now a big bruise on the shoulder. Fortunately, it was not seen by the two maids, otherwise, with their stubborn brain, they would have carried their sword to find that jiao and fight it to death.

As he was thinking about this, Gu Xuandu’s muffled voice came from behind him, “Why is it so green?”

“It’s probably from that time when the fish struck me.” Lin Rufei replied, “It doesn’t hurt that much, it just looks exaggerated.”

“It doesn’t hurt?” Gu Xuandu obviously did not believe it.

“It doesn’t hurt……hiss…… senior, don’t poke it, ah.” Lin Rufei shivered as Gu Xuandu poked him on the bruise.

Gu Xuandu clenched his teeth, “Do you still wanna say it doesn’t hurt?”

“It really doesn’t hurt much.” Lin Rufei said quickly, “Don’t……just don’t touch it.”

Gu Xuandu cursed, “That stupid bastard really deserves a beating—”

Lin Rufei thought that the jiao was quite silly.

The jiao saliva on his body was finally cleaned off under the washing of the water and Lin Rufei felt a little exhausted. After he came out of the bath, he changed into pajamas and fell on the soft bed. He didn’t even have time to dry his hair as he drifted off to sleep and probably because of the pain in his shoulder, when he fell asleep, he was slightly frowning.

Gu Xuandu sat beside him, looking at Lin Rufei’s sleeping face with a meaningful expression.

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The jiao had finally received its proof and it followed the Canglan River all the way down. It swam through Xinzhou towards a more distant place and was currently celebrating in happiness at its own transformation when it suddenly felt something fiercely stop its swimming figure.

It was currently the early morning and the sun rose slowly from the horizontal line, sprinkling golden light particles onto the water’s reflection. The view was extremely beautiful since the sparkling water seemed to be dusted with a thin layer of golden sand. The mist that had rose up even added a bit of haziness to it, but such beautiful scenery, the jiao was not interested in enjoying. It suddenly tensed up and the breath it exhaled was also much thicker.

Sure enough, in less than a breath’s time, the water surface floated with a flash of red. Such a soft color was mixed with a violent sword intent.

The jiao’s face panicked. It tried to dive down but it was too late. The person on the water had drawn their sword and the sword fiercely swung down. The majestic sword intent went directly through the lake water, straight towards the jiao.

The jiao knew that it could not hide, so it simply did not hide. Standing in place, its mouth issued a low dragon roar and this dragon roar contained some feeling of being wrong: why is this happening again—I didn’t do anything—why do you bully this dragon like this? 

The man who wielded the sword sneered: “The fish you spat out almost broke his shoulder.”

The jiao was dumbfounded.

He continued: “The bruise on his shoulder has darkened a lot. Also, the lick you gave.” As he said this, he became angry again. He gritted his teeth and swung down a second time, “If he catches a cold—”

The jiao continued standing dumbfoundedly in the water as it felt something teetering off of its head. When it bent down, it realized that its remaining horn was once again cut off, falling straight into the bottom of the lake. The jiao let out a miserable cry of sorrow——although this horn didn’t have any use, it still showed its prestige. There was already only one left and now that it had none, once it became a dragon, once it became a dragon—

“So what if you turn into a dragon?” The man with the sword smiled gently, but unfortunately, the words that came out made the poor jiao shrink its neck, “Ah, that’s right. A dragon horn is worth more than the horn of a jiao. It is a great tonic, and can be used in medicine.”

The jiao didn’t know if it was just his mind playing tricks, but when the words “great tonic” were spoken, the man on the water seemed to pause for a moment, as if he was seriously contemplating about something…….

“Maybe it can supplement his body?” In the end, the quiet murmurs were still heard by the jiao.

Hearing this, the jiao did not dare say anything else to him. In a flash, it turned and immediately scampered away, leaving a fierce splash of water. Fortunately, the man with a sword did not continue to chase. He instead simply sighed and shook his head: “But it does not seem to be of much use to his congenital deficiency.”

In that case, let’s forget it.

The man with the sword sighed again and touched his buzzing short sword, saying, “No rush, no rush. There are still plenty of days ahead.” Good things came in small packages, it was better to take your time.

Lin Rufei slept for a long time. He hadn’t stayed up[2] in a while, and with those accidents yesterday, his body really couldn’t hold up anymore. Although he slept for a long time, his dreams continued; one moment he would dream that he was still on the boat, and the next he would dream that the jiao came over to give him a few more licks. 

This uncouth jiao. It had a stinky mouth and this smell bothered him the whole night that he almost vomited. He had washed himself for a long time before finally becoming clean and relieved of the smell. However, when he laid on the bed, he felt like he could still smell that putrid scent despite being clean. 

Lin Rufei frowned. He tossed and turned on the soft bed—muttering—until a pair of cold hands touched his forehead.

Someone beside him seemed to be whispering: “Not good, it’s feverish.”

Lin Rufei wanted to open his eyes, but he felt as if his eyelids were firmly stuck together, and he could not open them no matter how hard he tried. But after struggling for quite a while, he was finally able to open them a little bit and he vaguely saw Gu Xuandu, who was dressed in red.

“Senior.” Lin Rufei called out in a daze.

“You have a fever.” Gu Xuandu said, “I’ll go and think of a way to get your maids.”

Lin Rufei listlessly hummed in agreement, watching as Gu Xuandu leave. However, before leaving, he also heard him say angrily: “I really shouldn’t have let it run away like that. It should have at least left some blood…..” 

Bleeding? Who was bleeding? Lin Rufei was dizzy and he could not understand a single thing that Gu Xuandu was talking about.

(t/n: so the reason LRF said bleeding is because in Chinese the character for “leave” sounds the same as the characters in bleeding. So when GXD said to leave some blood, LRF heard “leave blood” which basically sounds like “bleeding”)

Not a moment later, Fu Hua and Yu Rui rushed into the room. When they saw his burning red face, they hastily took out the medicine and fed it to him.

He had to drink medicine again. When Lin Rufei smelled the bitter smell of Chinese medicine, his faced immediately wrinkled in response.

When Fu Hua saw this, she quickly instructed Yu Rui to go down the street and buy some appetizing snacks such as plums, and also to buy a few bowls of light porridge and small dishes back.

After drinking the medicine, Lin Rufei felt inexplicably tired and soon drifted off to sleep. Once he slept, he slept for the whole day. And it wasn’t until the next night that he finally woke up once again, but this time with no strength.  

When he opened his eyes, he saw Gu Xuandu sitting by the window.

The rain that had been falling for a few days had finally stopped and a bright colorful haze spread throughout the sky making the clouds dazzle in delight. It was like an immortal realm. Gu Xuandu turned around and gave him a light smile: “You’re awake?”

“I’m awake.” Lin Rufei said.

“If you are awake, get up and eat something.” Gu Xuandu said, “I brought you some medicine to nourish your body.” He said and pulled out a small doll, that was wearing a bib and was screaming, out of nowhere. He roughly threw it onto the wooden table in front of him.

Lin Rufei looked at the little doll’s round eyes: “Eating people can also supplement the body? Where did you snatch this little doll from?”

Gu Xuandu calmly said: “No worries, I gave birth to it. It’s edible.” 

Lin Rufei: “Huh???” I haven’t see you for one day and you already have a child?? Even if you did give birth to it, you can’t just casually eat it, right?!  

********

The author has something to say:  

Lin Rufei: When did you have a child?

Gu Xuandu: Isn’t your Lin family the most particular about getting married because of an unplanned pregnancy? [3]

Lin Rufei: ………….

Gu Xuandu: I made do with what I had, and barely gave birth to one. 

Lin Rufei: ? ? ? ? 

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] So there were many ways to interpret this, it could be considered asking a favor, asking for a seal, but it’s more common for when emperors gave out land and titles. So in this situation, I thought “title” was the most appropriate. 

[2] Like pulling an all-nighter, or going to sleep really late.  

[3] Didn’t exactly know how to word this, but basically, you know those families that if you get pregnant, you have to marry the person that got you pregnant. Yeah, that. 

Chapter 28: The Meng Family

When Gu Xuandu saw Lin Rufei’s shocked expression, he realized that he had misunderstood his words and quickly explained himself, “It’s not what you think—What I mean is that I planted it, so there’s no harm for you to eat it.”

Lin Rufei looked carefully and realized that the little doll that was screaming was actually a small ginseng[1] with a red rope. However, it had arms and legs and was pouting and crying on the table. No matter how he looked at it, it looked a lot like a human child.

Gu Xuandu was agitated by the doll’s crying so he slapped the table and said angrily: “What are you crying about!” The little doll sobbed and choked as it finally quieted down. It fell onto the table and turned back into a hard ginseng. 

Lin Rufei’s voice was still very weak: “My body is weak and can’t take tonics, so even if I eat this tonic medicine, it won’t be of much use.”

Gu Xuandu said, “This ginseng is different.”

Lin Rufei said, “How is it different?”

Gu Xuandu thought over his words before bursting out: “It’s especially supplementary!”

Lin Rufei could not help but laugh. He said that the Lin family, for the sake of his body, looked for, if not a thousand, at least eight hundred tonics. However, after taking them for so many years there wasn’t any effect. Rather, it made him tired of those tonic pills. He didn’t know where Gu Xuandu found this ginseng doll, but it was still alive and kicking as he threw it onto the table wanting him to feast on it.  

Luckily, Gu Xuandu was not obsessed with giving Lin Rufei the tonic. After seeing Lin Rufei’s firm attitude in refusing, he could only sigh out a pity. He grabbed the hair of the ginseng doll and threw it onto the ground and the ginseng doll disappeared in a blink of an eye.

Lin Rufei had a fever for a whole day and night. His bones were almost burnt to crisp from the fever as he leaned limply on the bed. 

When Fu Hua and Yu Rui, who had been waiting outside, heard him wake up, they hurriedly entered the room and brought the freshly boiled porridge to Lin Rufei’s lips.

Lin Rufei did not have much appetite and said that he was full after two sips.

After Fu Hua persuaded softly for a long, long time, Lin Rufei reluctantly drank half a bowl, however, he was unwilling to finish the rest no matter how much she tried persuading again. 

Helpless, Fu Hua had to put down the bowl in her hand and softly informed: “Young master, the Meng family knows that we came to Xinzhou. This morning, they wanted to send someone to escort us to the Meng residence……but you were still asleep, so we excused them.”

“They know I’m here?” Lin Rufei coughed lowly a few times, “How did they know so quickly?”

“It seems to be due to the news about the river……” Fu Hu said, “The jiao is gone so several forces will naturally poke around. It’s just that the Meng family was faster. This inn near the pier is crude, young master you are also still sick. Why don’t we go to the Meng family first, deliver the invitation for the sword competition, and then find a better inn in town to recover?” 

The Meng family was a big clan in Xinzhou and was one of the families invited to the Kunlun sword competition and Lin Rufei had an invitation belonging to their clan in his dimensional ring.

Fu Hua’s words made sense. No one knew when Lin Rufei’s sickness would heal, if he wanted to wait until he was fully recovered before delivering the invitation, he’d probably make the Meng family wait for about ten days to half a month.

So Lin Rufei agreed to Fu Hua’s proposal and decided to go to the Meng family today to deliver the invitation.

He rested for another half hour and was able to barely regain the strength to stand. Fu Hua found a cloak and wrapped it tightly around Lin Rufei. She also carefully tied Lin Rufei’s cascading black hair into a crown[2].

Lin Rufei sat in front of the mirror and propped his chin up as the two maids fiddled away. He nearly fell asleep again.

After finally finishing, the three of them left. 

The sun had already set and the city of Xinzhou was still very lively.

It was a pity that Lin Rufei was dizzy and had little desire to enjoy the scenery. Fu Hua bought a horse from a nearby post station and he rode on it. Led by Fu Hua, they slowly entered the city.

In this area, Meng was a big surname. Out of ten people, they could pick out seven that were surnamed Meng. 

When they arrived at the Meng residence, Fu Hua went to call open the door. The door opened, however, before they could introduce themselves, they were warmly welcomed in by the doorkeeper who had long been prepared.

“This must be Lin Rufei, Lin gongzi! The head of the family has long heard of your arrival in Xinzhou and gave me an early heads up.” The doorkeeper was very enthusiastic and helped Lin Rufei get off the horse. He then summoned a maid to lead him into the main hall.

The maid was named Zhu Yin. She was very pretty and dressed even more flamboyantly than Fu Hua and Yu Rui. She smiled coquettishly on the way and introduced the scenery of the Meng residence to Lin Rufei. She seemed to be one of the oldies in the Meng residence.

The style of the Meng residence and the Xie residence were very different. Probably because it was located on the plains and also near a big lake. The residence had a lot of pagodas and pavilions, which added to beauty of the scenery. There was even a small stream running through the garden and he noticed that the garden had a little bit of a Jiangnan charm to it. When Lin Rufei asked about it, he learned that the lady of the Meng family was from Jiangnan. Because she missed her home dearly, she decorated the Meng family like this.

Zhu Yin probably noticed that Lin Rufei was not in good health so she thoughtfully slowed down her walking speed. She said that the family head had a banquet in the back garden and they could see it when they crossed the corridor in front.

As she was talking to Lin Rufei, a small wind blew through the corridor, accompanied by the sound of fierce footsteps. Lin Rufei turned around and saw a short-haired young man in strong clothes running fastly in front of him, carrying a longbow on his back. This young man had handsome eyebrows with eyes like stars that contained a lot of life. His hair was not completely long, but he did have a thin pigtail at the back.

“Young master, run slowly, don’t scare the guests!” Zhu Yin chastised. Although it was chastising, her tone was filled with pampering.

“Oh, who is this gongzi, when did he enter the residence?” The young man, whom Zhu Yin called young master, came up to Lin Rufei in a blink of an eye. His bright black eyes stared him up and down like a curious puppy as he commented, “He’s so handsome! I wonder if he’s been promised to a lady yet?”

Lin Rufei laughed, “Not yet, is young master going to introduce me to one?”

“Hey, I have an unmarried sister, she is very beautiful.” The young master smiled cheekily, “I think you are suitable for her. She likes the more civilized and weak and is uninterested in those martial madmen—”

“Young master, young master!” When Zhu Yin heard her young master spouting nonsense, she was immediately anxious. This Lin family was a valuable guest that their family could not afford to offend. If it was someone who was bad-tempered and her young master had angered him, then there wouldn’t be a good outcome! She anxiously chimed in: “This Lin gongzi is a valuable guest. If you continue to shoot your mouth off, the madam will beat you!!” 

“Tsk, tsk, tsk.” When the young master heard these words, he tsked loudly a few times with his tongue and ran away like a gust of wind. Before he left, he didn’t forget to settled Lin Rufei’s engagement matter. He said that the matter with his sister was settled and that he would immediately tell his parents. This made Zhu Yin so angry that she looked as if she was about to start stomping in a fit of rage.  

“Lin gongzi, you must not take it to heart. Young master is the youngest child of the madam, he is usually the most loved. He is naive and straightforward, if there is any offense in his words.” Zhu Yin lowered her voice, “Please don’t take it to heart.”

Lin Rufei shook his head, indicating that there was no harm done. He had a good impression of this young master. His elder brother and second brother probably also wanted to spoil him into this kind but did not succeed. In the end, this matter had become a knot in their hearts.

The two sides of the corridor were lush with wisteria flowers and under them, there was a clear stream passing through. Carps and shrimps could be vaguely seen playing in the stream, adding to it, a unique flavor to the scene. 

The atmosphere of the Meng residence and Xie residence were very different. One was cold and silent and the other was warm and lively. And to him, the Meng residence felt more like a home.

Zhu Yin lifted the bamboo curtain that was hanging at the end of the corridor and introduced Lin Rufei to another world.

In the garden, hundreds of flowers were in bloom and there were flowers from all seasons. Lin Rufei saw a lotus flower in full bloom on the lake, and the tree next to the lake was a brilliant red plum tree. Two different seasons’ blossoms complemented each other and it was such a surprising scene.

A few steps ahead, they saw the family banquet set up by the Meng family. By the side of the banquet, the Meng family head and his family had been waiting for Lin Rufei for quite some time. When they saw him following Zhu Yin, they all got up to warmly welcome him.

The Meng family head was named Meng Xiangxing. Although he was already a hundred years old, his face was no different than that of a young man. It was probably because he broke through the fifth level around the age of twenty. Those that have broken through the fifth level, their appearance would stop changing and instead, they would maintain their youthful appearance.

Meng Xiangxing stood besides four people; two men, and two women. One of them should be his wife, and the rest, his children. One of them was the handsome young man he had met in the corridor just now.

Lin Rufei was looking at them and they also observed Lin Rufei. Although they had long heard about the Lin family’s fourth son, seeing was better than hearing. The fourth son of the Lin family was really handsome. When ordinary people were sick, people would certainly feel the sickness in the air. However, when this pale face was on Lin Rufei, it only gave him a beautiful, sickly charm. And those eyes that were slightly lighter than normal black eyes, curved slightly into a slight smile. His thick eyelashes were like black butterflies with wings ready to fly and to them, his sick appearance was even more beautiful than Xi Zi[3]. 

Lin Rufei’s black hair was tied into a crown and he was wearing white clothes made of dragon brocade, draped with the same color cloak. A soft jade patterned with flowing clouds was tied to his waist and although his decoration was very minimal, the noble aura surrounding him was present. And those who understood could tell at first glance that his identity was not ordinary at all.

“Gongzi, gongzi this way please!” The young master of the Meng family grinned as soon as he saw Lin Rufei. He enthusiastically greeted him to sit by his side while he was being glared at by his mother several times. However, he still refused to retrain himself until his ears were grabbed. Madam Meng clenched her teeth and chided in her own son’s ear, “Lin gongzi is an honored guest, who asked you to open your mouth. You already fool around daily so when it comes to a critical time, you are not allowed to be capricious—”

The young master Meng, who was seized by his mother, grimaced. But he was not willing to give up. Although he did not talk, he still made eye movements with Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei also had some good feelings for him, so he smiled, and actually took a seat next to him.

“Lin gongzi, my son is naughty—” Meng Xiangxing was about to persuade him, but he then saw Lin Rufei waving his hand, indicating that there was no harm. He said with a smile, “Uncle and my father are family friends, so there is no need to be so polite. Your son is very interesting, I appreciate him very much”

“This……” Meng Xiangxing hesitated a little and his son took advantage of this. Smiling, he picked up a wine cup and filled it up with wine. Then he looked at Lin Rufei and down the cup, saying that he was toasting a cup first. 

Lin Rufei said he was physically ill, so he returned the toast with tea instead of wine.

With such a clown around, the atmosphere at the dinner table was both lively and cordial. During the conversation, Lin Rufei learned that the Meng family had three children in total, two boys and one girl. The eldest brother Meng Lanchao, the second sister Meng Youyue, and the youngest son Meng Lanruo, who was the lively and active young master in front of him.

Knowing that Lin Rufei’s health was not good, the food at this table was very light and suitable for the sick.

Although Lin Rufei did not have a good appetite, he still tried to eat some of the food in front of him to give the Meng family face.

When he was full, Lin Rufei took out the invitation for the sword competition from his dimensional ring and gave it to Meng Xiangxing.

Meng Xiangxing took the invitation, bowed to Lin Rufei, and asked him where he was going next.

Lin Rufei coughed lowly and said that he planned to find an inn in Xinzhou City to recover from his illness before making any more plans.

When Meng Lanruo heard this, he immediately put his face in front of Lin Rufei and said excitedly, “Since that’s the case, Lin gongzi, why don’t you stay at the Meng residence first? I can guarantee that there is no inn in this Xinzhou City that has a better environment that can compare to the Meng residence—”

Lin Rufei froze for a moment. Before he could say anything, Meng Lanruo crackled on about the advantages of the Meng residence; such as the soft beds, delicious food, and even the flowers in the courtyard that were more beautiful than those elsewhere. He spoke so fast that Lin Rufei didn’t even have the time to interrupt. Finally, Madam Meng knocked him on the head and chastised angrily, “You’re so busy talking that you don’t even look at the reaction of the guests—” Then she looked at Lin Rufei with a smile: “Lin gongzi, he has always been like this, please don’t take it to heart.”

Lin Rufei smiled and waved his hand to indicate that it was all fine.

However, Meng Lanruo was still undeterred. He reached out and tug at Lin Rufei’s clothes, saying, “Lin gongzi, you are leaving after a meal and going to stay at an inn. If other people knew about this, wouldn’t they blame us for not treating our guests well?” As he said this, he also muttered under his breath that he was really bored by himself. After finally meeting an interesting playmate, letting him leave like this was really such a pity….

For a moment, Lin Rufei cried and laughed.

Meng Xiangxing smiled and chimed in, “Lin gongzi, why don’t you stay at my house for a few days?”

Lin Rufei was worried that he would trouble the Meng family and wanted to refuse. However, that Meng Lanruo simply moved his face really close, enough to almost touch his nose and a pair of black eyes looked at him pitifully. Lin Rufei really couldn’t resist and finally accepted. This Meng Lanruo was born with a strong spirit, when he started acting spoil, he was really powerful. 

The Meng family could not help but smile when they saw Lin Rufei’s wretched appearance in front of Meng Lanruo. Meng Xiangxing carefully instructed Zhu Yin, who was standing by, to prepare the best rooms for Lin Rufei and his maids.

So it was then settled that they would stay at the Meng residence.

When they finished eating, the day was getting late. Originally, Meng Lanruo wanted to drag Lin Rufei out to have a chat, but his ears were grabbed by Madam Meng, and he was taken away. Madam Meng smiled apologetically at Lin Rufei and said that Lin gongzi has had a long journey, so he needed to rest well and that they could talk about other things tomorrow. Furthermore, if he needed anything, he could instruct Zhu Yin. 

Meng Lanruo strained his voice and called out to Lin Rufei, saying that he would come find him tomorrow to play.

Lin Rufei smiled and nodded.

Zhu Yin then led the three of them to the rooms that had been prepared. The Meng residence was very big and walking through it was like walking through a maze. They turned left and right in the garden for quite a while before finally seeing a neat row of buildings.

The building was in the midst of lush flowers and plants and it was next to a small bridge and a shallow stream. He could tell from a glance that the environment was very good.

Zhu Yin said that this was where her young master usually lived so everything was very well prepared. Though they cleared it out today in order for Lin gongzi to feel more comfortable and to make himself at home. 

Lin Rufei nodded his head and thanked her. He then took out some broken gold from his sleeve to reward Zhu Yin. However, Zhu Yin refused with a smile, saying that she was Meng Lanruo’s first maid and that there were four or five other maids just like her. She didn’t dare accept things from guests.

When Lin Rufei saw this, he also didn’t try to force her to accept it. 

After sending Lin Rufei into the room, Zhu Yin left, saying that she would be waiting outside. If he needed anything, just holler out for her. Fu Hua and Yu Rui also went to their rooms and Lin Rufei was left alone in his room.  

Gu Xuandu, who had been missing ever since Lin Rufei entered the Meng family, finally appeared once again at Lin Rufei’s side. He picked up a cup of tea before taking a sip: “That Meng family’s little young master is a bit interesting.”

Lin Rufei raised his eyebrows: “Interesting?”

Gu Xuandu nodded his head.

“How is he interesting?” Lin Rufei asked.

“Your brothers at home, they probably wanted to spoil you into someone like him.” Gu Xuandu’s slender fingers hooked the rim of his cup, “But……”

Lin Rufei quirked up one of his eyebrow, “But what.”

Gu Xuandu smiled: “But I also like you like this.”

Lin Rufei faintly smiled. He was already accustomed to this senior’s flowery mouth.

Because he was still sick, Lin Rufei soon got tired and went to bed right after drinking another dose of medicine. However, before he went to sleep, he vaguely smelled a strange flower fragrance, one which he had never smelled before. He didn’t know what kind of flower it was, but the smell was fresh and elegant and it wasn’t too overbearing.

“What’s that smell?” Lin Rufei asked sleepily.

“It’s Qilin grass[5].” Gu Xuandu vaguely answered back.

Qilin grass? He faintly remembered that this grass seemed to have a calming effect……Lin Rufei muddlely let out an “oh,” and fell into a naïve and sweet dreamland.

That particular night, Lin Rufei slept extremely well and not a single strange dream occurred. The next morning, his fever had receded a lot and he also felt more energetic. 

After breakfast, Lin Rufei was still torn about whether or not he should take another dose of medicine when Meng Lanruo’s voice came from outside the door. He disregarded Zhu Yin’s obstruction and rushed in with great enthusiasm. Seeing Lin Rufei sitting at the table looking at the medicine with a worried expression, he couldn’t help but let out a bright smile, “Lin gongzi, the weather is so nice today, do you want to go out with me? My family’s horse farm just had some top-quality new horses, they are very beautiful!” 

Lin Rufei took a glance outside the room. Today was indeed a good day. Although it was still early morning, the brilliant sunlight had already emerged, sprinkling the lush garden and gilding the flower blossoms with new golden clothes.

“Meng gongzi……” Just as Lin Rufei opened his mouth, he was interrupted by Meng Lanruo, who grinned and said, “Lin gongzi, you don’t have to be so polite, just call me Lanruo! Let me tell you, on the horse farm, it’s not only the horses that are beautiful, there are other things too……”

“What else is there?” Lin Rufei asked.

“Just go and see! Guarantee you won’t be disappointed!” Meng Lanruo patted his chest and said.

Lin Rufei pondered deeply about this proposal, and in the end, he agreed to it. After all, Meng Lanruo was so enthusiastic, it was a pity to spoil his fun. Besides, the weather outside was good and he didn’t think it was a bad thing to go out for a walk.

So he had agreed and then Meng Lanruo pulled him out of the room by his shoulders. 

The scenery of the Meng residence during the day and at night have their own distinct flavors. When the day came, there were a lot of flowers everywhere, making it very lively.

The horse farm that Meng Lanruo mentioned was also located in the Meng residence. However, it seemed to be a separate area that looked to be very spacious.

When Lin Rufei arrived at the horse farm, he understood what the “beautiful things” that Meng Lanruo said were. Besides the horse farm, several young girls dressed in strong clothes were fiercely playing polo and the sight of their skirts fluttering about in the wind was truly a wonderful scene.

The most eye-catching one was definitely Meng Lanruo’s sister, Meng Youyue, who was seen at the family banquet yesterday. She was holding a long pole and easily drove the horse under her. She galloped on the horse field with her heroic posture, attracting everyone’s attention.

Meng Lanruo waved at the field and shouted, “Sister—”

When Meng Youyue noticed them, she turned her horse’s head and galloped towards the two. Only when she reached them did she let out a long “phew” and laughed: “Lanruo, why did you drag Lin gongzi to a place like this?”

“I just so happen to see Lin gongzi sitting idle in the room, so I asked him out to take a look around.” Meng Lanruo said, “Some top-quality horses just arrived at the horse farm so I thought I’d let Lin gongzi come over to take a peek.” 

“Is that so.” Meng Youyue faintly smiled.

As the brother and sister talked, a less harmonious voice interjected from the side: “Meng Lanruo, I haven’t seen you for a few days, when did your family get such a handsome noble gongzi?”

Lin Rufei twisted his head and took in the owner of the voice. The man was dressed in fancy clothes and even though he was handsome, he had an arrogant taste. Although he was looking at Lin Rufei with a smile, the hidden hostility in his eyes was still caught by Lin Rufei.

“It’s none of your business.” Meng Lanruo yelled indignantly, “Qi Yansheng, go away quickly, don’t spoil my fun.”

Qi Yansheng smiled: “Oh, is that so? I also said that the day before I had begged for a longbow made of 10,000-year-old ebony from Qiu[6] Mountain. I had just wanted to show it to you, but since you don’t want to, then forget it.”

“Wah—a longbow made of 10,000-year-old ebony?” Meng Lanruo was immediately interested and his eyes glowed, “Quickly, give my eyes a feast!”

Qi Yansheng said, “It’s not here, it’s at the firing range.”

“Then let’s go to the range to see?” Meng Lanruo’s hands were itching. But then he remembered that he was accompanying Lin Rufei, who didn’t seem to know how to shoot arrows, so he immediately shook his head, “No, I’m not going, I’m still accompanying Lin gongzi. In a few days, I’ll go look for you to see it.” 

“I wonder who this Lin gongzi is……?” Qi Yansheng asked.

“Lin gongzi is the son of the Kunlun Lin family, these days he just so happened to come to my residence to deliver the sword competition invitation. He’s different from you, he is a valuable guest!” Meng Lanruo harrumphed, “Don’t you dare say anything obnoxious. Lin gongzi, this is a friend that I don’t know very well, he is called Qi Yansheng. He is very obnoxious and his words are unpleasant, you don’t have to pay attention.” 

Qi Yansheng was not angry at Meng Lanruo’s comment, rather he laughed loudly and bowed to Lin Rufei: “I have heard a lot about the Kunlun Lin family. Seeing you today, gongzi is indeed really charming.”

Lin Rufei returned the salute, “I am undeserving of your praise.”

“I wonder if gongzi is interested in seeing that longbow?” Qi Yansheng smiled and proposed, “Lin gongzi, perhaps you don’t know, but the Meng family’s bowplay is really beautiful. Since you guys have nothing to do, why don’t you let Meng Lanruo show you his skills?”

He was obviously smiling and there was nothing wrong with what he said, but Lin Rufei could hear a provocative meaning in Qi Yansheng’s tone. He curbed his smile, looked over expressionlessly, and said indifferently, “I wonder how Qi gongzi’s shooting skills are?”

Qi Yansheng proudly said, “There is no rival within Xinzhou.”

Lin Rufei calmly said, “Then it doesn’t hurt to take a look.”

He would like to know exactly what this Qi Yansheng wants.

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu shamelessly: I know of something particularly supplementary.

Lin Rufei: What?

Gu Xuandu continues to be shameless: After you eat it, I can ensure you’ll be cured. 

Lin Rufei: If you’re going to talk, then talk, why are you untying your belt—

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Ginseng. 
[2] Something like this. 
[3] Nickname for Xi Shi(c. 450 BC), “a famous Chinese beauty, foremost of the Four legendary beauties 四大美女 of Yue as concubine to King of Wu as part of a successful plan to destroy Wu” (The phrase here, was actually used to describe Lin Daiyu from one of the Four Classic Chinese Novels, Dream of a Red Chamber ^~^) 
[4] Okay, so these are also known as “Goldenrods,” however I’m going to keep it as Qilin grass because it sounds cooler. 
[5] Qiu meaning Autumn 

Chapter 29: Drawing the Bow

Meng Lanruo also noticed the smell of gunpower between Qi Yansheng and Lin Rufei, but he did not understand why Qi Yansheng had such deep hostility towards Lin Rufei. Did he find out his intention of introducing Lin Rufei to his sister?

However, even though Lin Rufei came from a famous family, Meng Lanruo had long heard that from young, this Lin gongzi was too weak to practice swords and that his body was completely devoid of sword intent. Going against Qi Yansheng, a level sixth cultivator, was probably not a good idea. As he thought about this, Meng Lanruo grabbed the corner of Lin Rufei’s clothes and said, “Lin gongzi, what’s the point of watching a big man shooting arrows when you can watch pretty girls—” 

“A big man shooting arrows isn’t pretty?” Qi Yansheng looked at Meng Lanruo with a smile, “Are you sure?”

Meng Lanruo said righteously: “It just isn’t pretty!”

Qi Yansheng no longer paid attention to Meng Lanruo, instead, he turned his head to look at Lin Rufei: “Lin gongzi said there was no harm in taking a look, that means he is interested. Why are you interrupting beside him?”

Meng Lanruo wanted to say something else but was reprimanded by Meng Youyue. She told him not to be rude to Qi gongzi and only then did Meng Lanruo look sorrowful. However, he still whispered to Lin Rufei, saying that if he didn’t want to see, then to not force himself. 

Lin Rufei just nodded slowly and said he understood.

The shooting range was next to the horse farm, but it was not as lively as the horse farm. There were all kinds of targets and archery bows inside, which looked like they were used often.

Lin Rufei recalled that when he saw Meng Lanruo yesterday, he also seemed to be carrying a longbow on his back. It seemed that he was indeed interested in the art of archery.

This Qi Yansheng was obviously a regular guest of the Meng family and when the underlings of the range saw him coming, they brought over a newly made longbow without him asking.

The bow was very beautiful. It was vermillion in color with delicate animal patterns. At first glance, it looked like an exquisite craft, however, it was very heavy. Three servants had to carry it over to Qi Yansheng, who ended up easily lifting it with one hand. He laughed, “Ebony is rare, and 10,000-year-old ebony is even rarer. This bow is also considered a rare object, I wonder if Lin gongzi would like to try?”

When Meng Lanruo heard this, he became anxious and angrily sputtered out: “Qi Yansheng, what are you babbling about, Lin gongzi……” He wanted to say that Lin gongzi was weak, but when the words came to the tip of his tongue, he felt that it was too offensive, “Lin gongzi doesn’t play with the things you roughneck people enjoy!”

Qi Yansheng laughed, “Lin gongzi hasn’t said anything yet, why are you so anxious?” Although his tone was laughing, there was no trace of laughter in his eyes. Instead, his eyes gazed soberly at Lin Rufei, waiting for his reaction.

“Heh, Qi Yansheng[1], that’s an unpleasant name.” Gu Xuandu, who hadn’t spoken much at all by Lin Rufei’s side, suddenly opened his mouth and the tone of his voice was somewhat cold, “Xiao Jiu, you can agree.” 

Lin Rufei listened to Gu Xuandu. He looked back at Qi Yansheng and said, “There’s no harm in trying.”

Qi Yansheng laughed, “It is always a bit boring to bow alone, so why don’t we take this opportunity to compete, Lin gongzi?”

When Meng Lanruo heard this, he looked as if he wanted to prevent something. However, before he could say anything to prevent it, he heard Lin Rufei coldly spit out three words: “How do you want to compete?”

(t/n: Okay, in Chinese it is only three characters: “怎么比?” )

Qi Yansheng raised his hand and pointed to the range, “I will have someone release a flock of pigeons into the sky. We each get a total of three feathered arrows.  Let’s see……who shoots down more pigeons.”

“Lin gongzi, don’t compete with him!” Meng Lanruo was angry, “This guy is very powerful in the art of archery!”

However, those words were spoken too late. Lin Rufei had already nodded to the terms.

Qi Yansheng smiled again and this smile looked very disgusting to Meng Lanruo. In his heart, he thought that he must find time to say more bad things about this man in front of his sister. He must not let him become his brother-in-law.

The pigeon cage was carried out by the servants and placed in the center of the shooting range.

Qi Yansheng raised his hand and drew his bow. He aimed at the air and said under his breath, “Release.”

When the words fell, the servants opened the locked pigeon cages and released the pigeons as they flapped their wings towards the sky. Qi Yansheng smiled and released the bowstring at that exact moment. The feathered arrow turned into a white rainbow as it shot towards the sky. The speed was incomparably fast—like a stream of light—as it headed straight into the pigeon flock. Soon, the sky exploded with a few blinding lights and after that, the feather arrows fell once more. Only now, the polished arrow shaft was full of snow-white pigeons.  

Qi Yansheng shot three arrows in a row in rapid successions and all three were the same. After the three arrows were shot, the servant ran to the middle of the field and picked up the arrows together with the pigeons.

“Qi gongzi shot a total of fifteen pigeons! There are five on each arrow.” The servant bowed and reported.

“What a waste.” Meng Lanruo stood at the side trying to find fault, “Send it to my sister and say that Qi gongzi shot the pigeons for her to make soup!”

Qi Yansheng didn’t get annoyed at his words, he just smiled and waved his hand to indicate that the servant should obey Meng Lanruo’s words.

After that, he looked towards Lin Rufei. He raised his hand and handed the bow in his hand to Lin Rufei: “Lin gongzi, please.”

Lin Rufei reached out to receive the bow.

The bow should have been heavy, but Lin Rufei easily held it in his hand. He gently fiddled with the bowstring and felt Gu Xuandu walk behind him, whispering into his ear, “Do you know how to use the bow?”

Lin Rufei shook his head faintly.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how.” Gu Xuandu said, “This kind of stuff is for children to play with.” As he said this, he got closer to Lin Rufei’s body and put his hand on Lin Rufei’s hand, “I’ll teach you once and then you’ll know how to do it.”

With that, he asked Lin Rufei to take the arrow. He helped him adjust his posture while also whispering in his ear on how to draw the bow.

Qi Yansheng looked at Lin Rufei’s appearance as he drew the bow and he frowned slightly. He had to say that when Lin Rufei first picked up the bow and arrow, his posture was like a complete novice and it seemed like he knew nothing about archery, but gradually, his posture began to change, as if there was an invisible person correcting his mistakes.

“Lower your shoulders slightly.” His shoulders were pressed gently downward.

“Look straight ahead.” His chin was gently twisted to look halfway up.

“The center of gravity should be between the feet and the waist must not be soft…….” His waist was supported.

“There is no turning back when you release the string. This is only the first arrow, no need to be in a hurry. Come.” The sound of pigeons fluttering resounded. Lin Rufei loosened his right hand that pulled the bowstring and decisively released the first arrow.

However, the feathered arrow shot out towards the sky with a “whoosh” and it passed through the flock of pigeons, disappearing into the azure sky as the eyes of the crowd followed.

The field was silent. On the empty ground, there wasn’t even a pigeon feather.

Qi Yansheng reached out and slightly covered his mouth. Very quickly, he let out a dry cough to suppress the laugh that was about to emerge from his lips, and he commented: “Good shot! But the accuracy is a little bit poor.”

Meng Lanruo was worried and he glared hatefully at Qi Yansheng, feeling that this person was becoming more and more annoying. It wasn’t easy for him to find a playmate, and now it was all ruined by him. If Lin Rufei awkwardly lost the competition, he probably wouldn’t be willing to stay with the Meng family, since, after all, this Qi Yansheng was also one of the Meng family’s guests. 

Lin Rufei didn’t seem to notice and instead showed a smile: “To be honest, I have been weak since young so I have never practiced archery.”

“Huh? You never practiced before?” Meng Lanruo was shocked. He understood Qi Yansheng’s favorite bow well and it wasn’t something normal people could draw, let alone shoot an arrow with it. If it was really Lin Rufei’s first time shooting an arrow, even if he didn’t hit a pigeon, this level was already very amazing. 

The smile in Qi Yansheng’s eyes faded a bit. He believed in Lin Rufei’s words because the moment Lin Rufei took up the bow and arrows, he did look like a novice who had never practiced before.

“As I had the opportunity to try today, I find it very interesting.” Lin Rufei slightly twisted his shoulder. The bruise that was made by the jiao still had not healed yet so the area was still a bit sore, “I have shown my inadequacy, guys, please don’t laugh.”

“Whoever laughs is a dog!” Meng Lanruo was very willing to give Lin Rufei face and he even glanced at Qi Yansheng. 

Qi Yansheng kept quiet. Without a word, he handed Lin Rufei the second feathered arrow.

Lin Rufei let out a breath and received the arrow.

Gu Xuandu held Lin Rufei’s shoulders once again and instructed in a soft voice: “What you did just now was very good, but there are still some details that you need to pay attention to.”

Lin Rufei hummed in understanding.

Gu Xuandu said, “The moment you draw the bow, remember to aim at the target you want to shoot. The accuracy when you draw the bow is most important……those pigeons fly fast, you have to anticipate their position in advance. Of course, if the arrow is fast enough, you don’t have to think so much about it.” Just like Qi Yansheng. Before the pigeons had fully scattered, the arrow was shot out. One arrow through five and it wasn’t something that was impossible to do. 

“Come, your body shouldn’t be too tense. Yes, yes……that’s it.” Gu Xuandu held Lin Rufei’s hand and corrected his mistakes a little by little, “Xiao Jiu, well done.”

“Shoot.” The second arrow shot out. After Gu Xuandu’s guidance, this arrow did not fall short and it was able to shoot down a white pigeon that was fluttering its wings in mid-air.

Seeing the white pigeon fall, Lin Rufei was a little relieved. At least he didn’t fail again. He had barely saved face for Kunlun.

Qi Yansheng was also as relieved as Lin Rufei. He could see that Lin Rufei was indeed not very good at archery and it seemed like he gave it his all when he finally shot down one. 

Meng Lanruo was so angry that he was pacing in circles. If he hadn’t been afraid of getting beaten up by his mother, he probably would have pulled out his sword and gone after Qi Yansheng. This Qi Yansheng, although he excelled in archery, had terrible sword skills. Time and time again, he(QYS) was continuously defeated by him(MLR). 

After the second arrow was released. Gu Xuandu directly allowed Lin Rufei to take the third arrow, and complained: “I just hate these things that children play with, it’s very troublesome.”

Lin Rufei simply laughed.

“But children should also be taught some lessons.” Gu Xuandu sneered, “Lest they don’t know the immensity of Heaven and Earth.” He lowered his voice and said in a cold voice, “Come, let them see a real shot—”

As his words fell, Lin Rufei also released the bowstring in his hand and the last arrow finally shot out. After making an ear-piercing sound, it actually disappeared in mid-air.

“Where did the arrow go?” Meng Lanruo asked blankly.

Qi Yansheng’s face was at first filled with doubt but then it changed dramatically, “How is this—”

The pigeons in the sky, which had already dispersed, all burst out with a blood red flowers before falling to the ground. None of them were spared.

The feathered arrow, however, was still missing, as if it had disappeared into the never-ending sky.

“How did the pigeons all die?” Meng Lanruo was full of incredulity.

Qi Yansheng turned his head to look at Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei’s expression remained unchanged and the bow in his hand had been casually put down onto the table beside to him. He was currently gently rubbing his wrist, as if he felt that the bow was too heavy.

“The feathered arrow was wrapped with sword Qi.” Qi Yansheng replied to Meng Lanruo’s question.

“Sword Qi? But Lin gongzi doesn’t……” Meng Lanruo wanted to say that he didn’t know how to use a sword, but he soon swallowed those words.

Qi Yansheng stared heavily at Lin Rufei and that gaze seemed to bore a hole in Lin Rufei’s body. Meng Lanruo didn’t understand, but he(QYS) understood well. The reason sword Qi could become sword Qi was because its biggest reliance was the weapon in hand. From the past to the present, there were only a few people who could use other objects to wield sword Qi. He practiced for more than twenty years before he was barely able to attach a ray of sword Qi onto the feather arrow. However, this Lin Rufei clearly had no sword intent on his body……

Just when the atmosphere turned stagnant, the servant had already brought back the pigeons that Lin Rufei had shot. After counting, there were only thirteen. Two less compared to Qi Yansheng and it was considered his loss in this competition. 

However, looking at their expressions, it seemed that the one who lost was Qi Yansheng.

Lin Rufei reached out and covered his mouth. He was coughing heavily and his clothes were swaying against the breeze. He was frail, as if a gust of wind could blow him away at any moment.

Meng Lanruo went forward and patted his back, trying to help him even out his breathing. He ordered a servant to bring hot tea over.

Lin Rufei drank the hot tea and felt a little better so he waved his hand to show that he was fine.

“Qi Yansheng, you sure like to look for trouble[2]. Lin gongzi originally came to our Meng residence to recuperate, and you still had to get him to compete in archery.” Meng Lanruo said angrily, “My sister couldn’t stop you either!”

“Recuperating?” Qi Yansheng was slightly shocked, “Lin gongzi is sick?”

“Just a minor illness.” Lin Rufei said, “But I still need to rest more. I’m not feeling too well, so I’ll go back to the room to rest.”

Meng Lanruo insisted on sending Lin Rufei back. Lin Rufei could not resist, so he allowed him to do as he pleased. 

Qi Yansheng stood in the same place as he did and watched the two of them walk away before disappearing into the scenery. His expression was unclear and his eyes dropped to look at the longbow resting on the table, muttering coldly to the underlings there: “Go report to the madam that Qi Yansheng wants to meet.”

Meng Lanruo sent Lin Rufei back to his room and when he saw that he was resting, he ran out of the room in a blaze of glory.

As soon as he left the room, he saw Zhu Yin standing in the courtyard. She was sweeping something with her head down, so he quietly went over and reached out to tap Zhu Yin on the shoulder.

Zhu Yin was frightened by Meng Lanruo, who suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and she let out a loud screech. She quickly turned her head around and when saw her young master, she couldn’t help but get angry: “Young master, why did you scare Zhu Yin again? Zhu Yin’s heart was about to jump out from her throat!” 

“What are you doing?” Meng Lanruo asked with a smile.

“Oh, I don’t know which one of the naughty and mischievous guys harmed the birds in the garden, so I’m just picking them up and burying them.” Zhu Yin complained, “Exactly who is this annoying person? If the madam knew, there would definitely be a beating.” 

Meng Lanruo looked down and saw that there were indeed colorful bird carcasses on the ground. Some big and some small, and their bodies were almost split in half. Their bodies were dripping with blood and it looked very cruel. However, when he was looking at the dead birds, Meng Lanruo felt that he had seen this phenomenon somewhere before. Scratching his head, he muttered, “I feel like this is familiar.”

“Familiar?” Zhu Yin said suspiciously, “Young master, this is not your work, right?”

“Me?” Meng Lanruo pointed at himself, then shook his head violently, “No, no, no, definitely not my doing.”

Zhu Yin said, “Then why do you feel familiar?”

After reflecting over it for a moment, Meng Lanruo suddenly spoke out, “These birds and the pigeons in the shooting range all died the same way?” 

“The pigeons in the shooting range?” Zhu Yin was confused.

“Forget it, even if I talked about this with a chick like you, you wouldn’t understand.” Meng Lanruo looked thoughtfully at Lin Rufei’s room and murmured, “This Lin family’s gongzi, it seems that he is not as weak as he seems.”

After Lin Rufei shot that arrow, his body suddenly flooded with fatigue, so he hurriedly went back inside to recuperate.

“Not feeling well?” Gu Xuandu reached out and touched his forehead to make sure he didn’t have a fever.

Lin Rufei nodded his head.

“You did use this power a little too early.” Gu Xuandu said, “But it’s necessary to use it, so it is better to adapt to it earlier.”

Lin Rufei was doubtful, “Power? Whose power?”

“Naturally, yours.” Gu Xuandu said, “I’m just a small cherry blossom with no one to rely on. Don’t tell me you want to rely on me?”

Lin Rufei was stunned by the description of a helpless little cherry blossom and he stared at his senior for a long time without saying anything.

Gu Xuandu started to laugh.

“That arrow was due to my power?” Lin Rufei still had some disbelief in his tone.

“I have long said, the divine soul is the sword and the torso is the sheath. You are too weak and the weakness is this body of yours.” Gu Xuandu said, “It can’t accommodate a divine soul that is too sharp.”

Lin Rufei listened with confusion.

When Gu Xuandu saw that Lin Rufei was full of confusion, he did not continue to explain. Rather, he urged him to take a good rest and to take care of the wound on his shoulder before talking about anything else.

Lin Rufei laid down on the bed, reminiscing about the arrow he shot during the daytime. In fact, he had clearly seen where the arrow went.

The feathered arrow sped out like a white rainbow through the sun, sweeping past the flock of flying pigeons and brushing past into the azure sky. When it reached a certain location, a thin layer of shimmering light swirled around it, spreading rapidly in all directions, and then it instantly disappeared. It was because the pigeons got into contact with that light that their bodies exploded with blood. And then, the pigeons fell to the ground just like that.

Where the arrow landed, Lin Rufei also didn’t know. However, since it flew so high, the place it landed also must be very far. 

Lin Rufei was a little tired. He closed his eyes and his breathing gradually began to even out.

Gu Xuandu stared at his sleeping face. The corners of his mouth curled up in a slight smile and his figure gradually faded away.

Half an hour later, Gu Xuandu’s figure appeared silently in an alley a hundred miles away from the Meng family. The alley was loud and noisy and children were walking through it with bare feet as they playfully chased each other with their runny noses.

Gu Xuandu bent down and suddenly stopped a short little girl, asking her in a warm voice: “Little friend, did you pick up anything just now?

The little girl sniffled her runny nose as she looked warily at the man in red clothes in front of her. After hearing the question, she shook her head heavily and the pigtails tied behind her head followed, flinging around in a crazed manner.

“That thing you picked up is useless.” Gu Xuandu showed a mysterious smile. He was born extremely beautiful, so when he smiled like this, the little girl’s vigilance also lowered. He continued, “Brother will take something out to exchange with you, okay?” 

The little girl hesitantly looked at the beauty in front of her and said in a childish voice: “What are you gonna use to exchange?”

Gu Xuandu took out three things from his arms; a tattered book, a small sword, and a red, attractive-looking candied hawthorn: “Choose one?”

The little girl’s eyes were instantly drawn to the candied hawthorn and her black grape-like eyes were shining as she mumbled, “Do you really want to exchange?”

“Mnn.” Gu Xuandu nodded his head.

The little girl hesitated for a long time. But soon, her dirty little hands rushed to reach out to the candied hawthorn. However, before she even had the chance to hold it, the small sword next to it let out a slight buzzing sound. Her movements froze and she showed some hesitation again.

Gu Xuandu squatted down halfway. He did not rush and just continued smiling at the child.

The little girl gritted her teeth. She seemed to find it difficult to choose between the two. Finally, she stomped her foot and pointed her finger: “I want this!”

Gu Xuandu smiled tenderly and he handed the seemingly unexceptional little sword to the little girl.

The little girl held her heart’s new favorite toy and she was instantly happy. Smiling, she pulled out what Gu Xuandu wanted from the small bag she was carrying.

It was a feathered arrow with a silver arrowhead and a large fierce character engraved on it—the very same one that Lin Rufei had shot out.

“Go now.” Gu Xuandu took the arrow and gently patted the little girl’s head, “Remember to treat it well.”

The little girl was confused. She sniffled as she turned around to run away. 

Gu Xuandu lowered his head and gazed at the arrow in his hand. He tenderly stroked it for a moment and said to himself, “Every arrow that is shot from the first time must naturally be well kept. Just a pity, ah…….”

Three arrows in exchange for two sticks of candied hawthorn.

At least there was still one stick left. He would save it for the little gongzi at home who didn’t like to take medicine. 

Lin Rufei had just woken up when he saw Gu Xuandu sitting on the edge of the bed. He was eating a candied hawthorn that came from out of nowhere. His white teeth and red lips bit down on the candied hawthorn with a crunch.

Seeing that he woke up, Gu Xuandu first fed him a mouthful of water and asked him with a smile if he wanted to eat candied hawthorn.

“You bought candied hawthorn?” Lin Rufei’s mouth was bland and tasteless and he thought it would be good to try, so he blinked and meekly said he wanted to.

“Here, there are still several left.” The remaining candied hawthorn in his hand was delivered to Lin Rufei’s lips. Gu Xuandu pursed his lips and smiled, “Try it?”

Lin Rufei was stunned at the situation. He opened his mouth slightly to say something but the candied hawthorn had been stuffed into his mouth.  

The sugar was very sweet and the hawthorn was sour. It melted in his mouth and diluted the bland taste within. Very soon, Lin Rufei’s protest melted away with the candied hawthorn.

“Delicious, right?” Gu Xuandu asked with a smile.

Lin Rufei nodded and took another bite.

“It’s still fresh. I stared at it as it was made.” Gu Xuandu said, “It’s just that I realized I didn’t have any money on me, so I took something else to make up for it.”

Lin Rufei froze and said, “You went out?”

Gu Xuandu nodded his head.

“What did you do?” Lin Rufei asked.

“I went to catch ghosts.” Gu Xuandu said whatever came to his head. 

Lin Rufei frowned at him: “In broad daylight, what kind of ghosts can you catch?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Ghosts in the daytime are the easiest to catch……” He looked towards the door, “I won’t say anymore, someone is coming.”

As expected, just as Gu Xuandu and Lin Rufei stopped talking, there was a knock at the door. Lin Rufei said come in and he saw Meng Lanruo sneakily poking his head in, whispering: “Lin gongzi, have you rested? Can I come in?”

“Come in.” Lin Rufei said.

Meng Lanruo leaped into the room and said happily, “I just complained to my mother about that Qi Yansheng. He had nothing to do and came to find trouble for you, hmph, such an annoying guy.” 

Lin Rufei laughed and said, “Qi gongzi doesn’t mean any harm.”

Meng Lanruo said, “Let’s not talk about him. Speaking of which, Lin gongzi, do you know about the Fallen Spring House?”

Lin Rufei shook his head.

Meng Lanruo lowered his voice: “That is our largest flower house[3] here. Just tonight, there will be an oiran[4] competition. I got two vouchers to enter……how about……” He showed a smile that could only be understood between men, “How about we go join in on the fun?”

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: Say again where you’re going?

Lin Rufei: To see the Oiran[4]. 

Gu Xuandu: Isn’t the flower leader me? ? ? What are you looking at others for? ?

Lin Rufei: ………….

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] Yan means “loathe/hate” while sheng means “victory,” so his name is like “hating victory” LOL. 

[2] The direct translation means, “you have nothing to do yet you seek to do something” basically, asking/looking for trouble because you have too much free time.  

[3] Best way for me to explain this, it’s like an entertainment building where women sell their “art.” ┐(︶▽︶)┌ (maybe it can be considered one of those red light district buildings?) 

[4] I put oiran here because it’s considered the equivalent, however the direct Chinese translation means “flower leader” hence the next line spoken by GXD 

Chapter 30: Within the Flower House

Perhaps it was because Kunlun’s geographical location was located in a remote area, so trade and commerce were still underdeveloped. Whether it was on the mountains or at the foot of the mountains, there was no such place as a flower house, which only appeared in textbooks. This was Lin Rufei’s first time encountering such an invitation, although inwardly he felt that it was slightly inappropriate, in the end, he still had a strong curiosity about it.

Seeing Lin Rufei’s hesitation, Meng Lanruo lowered his voice and explained: “Lin gongzi, don’t worry, the Fallen Spring House is very clean. The girls inside are also proficient in zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting. It’s not that kind of sordid place where they do ‘fleshy’ business.”

“Besides, we are just going to have a look, we’re not doing anything bad.” Meng Lanruo looked at Lin Rufei, hoping that he would accept his invitation, “The night is long, if we stay at home, it’ll be so boring.”

Lin Rufei hesitated, but then slowly nodded and accepted Meng Lanruo’s invitation.

Meng Lanruo cheered happily and smiled, “Then Lin gongzi, I will come to pick you up later and we will go there together by carriage!”

Lin Rufei nodded at his words.

Only then did Meng Lanruo leave happily.

As soon as he left, Gu Xuandu, who had been standing quietly beside Lin Rufei, opened his mouth, and for some reason, his voice had a bit of a sourness to it, “Why would Xiao Jiu be interested in a flower house? That place is very boring.”

Lin Rufei seized the point: “Senior often goes there?”

Gu Xuandu calmly said: “I’ve been there once or twice, nothing interesting.”

Lin Rufei said: “I’ve never seen one before, so I’m just a little curious.”

Gu Xuandu clenched his teeth and remarked, “It’s just some vulgar women[1], nothing to see.”

Hearing Gu Xuandu’s words, Lin Rufei could not help but smile and joke, “Compared to senior’s appearance, the others are indeed mediocre and vulgar.”

Gu Xuandu, who was praised for his appearance, changed his expression immediately. He seemed to want to say something, but in the end, the words never left his mouth. He coldly snorted, swept his long sleeves, and his figure faded away. Lin Rufei was dumbfounded, he felt as if he had offended Gu Xuandu by saying a certain sentence, but which one was it?……

At night, the city of Xinzhou was bustling with activity.

On the Canglan River, several huge gorgeous flower boats sailed upon it. Standing on the shore, one could hear the music of silk and bamboo[2] and smell the fragrance of rouge powder. Numerous beautifully dressed women were standing or sitting as they smiled sweetly at the passing guests. It was really beautiful scenery that made people intoxicated.

Lin Rufei was on the largest flower boat.

Meng Lanruo was already a familiar customer here. When the charming old mother[3] saw him, her smiling eyes narrowed into a line. She twisted her waist and warmly welcomed him in. Out of the corner of her eye, she peered at the handsome, thin young man dressed in white who was standing beside Meng Lanruo. Pondering for a second, she seemed to have realized something and her smile became even more enthusiastic, “Yo—this gongzi is really handsome. How come I haven’t seen him before?” 

“He’s a valuable guest from our family, I brought him out to have some fun.” Meng Lanruo smiled and introduced, “When will Xiao Yu come out today?”

“The third one out. When the time comes, I hope that Meng gongzi will give us a lot of support.” The old mother smiled and led them to a wide private room with a screen around it. It was very private and had the clearest view of the stage.

Meng Lanruo took something out of his bosom and handed it to the old mother, “Bring some silk flowers and take the rest as your reward.”

The old mother nodded her head and respectfully left with both hands holding the thing Meng Lanruo had given to her.

Lin Rufei had noticed that Meng Lanruo handed over a top-grade spirit stone, which was already a rare commodity even within the immortal path, let alone in the mortal world. It seemed that the Meng family was indeed very wealthy. Such a thing, in Meng Lanruo’s hands, was only chump change to reward the oiran.

“These silk flowers are used to vote for the oirans on stage.” Meng Lanruo explained with a smile, “The more silk flowers, the higher the number of votes. The girl with the most is the oiran of the night.”

Lin Rufei questioned: “You often come to play?”

Meng Lanruo scratched his head: “My family is strict with me, and I am not allowed to leave Xinzhou City, so I often come by myself to find some fun……I……can’t be considered a regular customer, right?”

Obviously, when he mentioned the latter half, he himself developed a little bit of a guilty conscience. Lin Rufei simply smiled at his words and didn’t bother with him much. The guests on this flower boat were indeed looking for fun. The oiran competition had yet to begin so one could see people playing pitch-pots, dice—there were various ways to have fun. 

Meng Lanruo ordered two jugs of good wine and some small side dishes. He originally wanted to order a pot of hot tea for Lin Rufei, but Lin Rufei declined his kind offer, saying that coming here to drink tea spoils the fun. Although he could not drink too much, a couple of sips wouldn’t hurt

It was better this way. Meng Lanruo raised a cup to toast Lin Rufei.

The wine was freshly brewed plum wine. It was slightly sweet when it entered the mouth and left a lingering aftertaste. Floating on top was a newly plucked cherry blossom petal, adding to the elegance.

Lin Rufei drank a cup. However, suddenly he remembered a certain cherry blossom immortal, who was still sulking, and his eyes couldn’t help but reflect his smile.

When Meng Lanruo saw Lin Rufei’s smile, he asked, “Who did Lin gongzi think of?” 

Lin Rufei was stunned, “What?”

“Nothing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a smile on your face.” Meng Lanruo propped up his chin and stared at Lin Rufei, “How should I say it……” It was as if Lin Rufei’s usual smile, although gentle and warm, held an inexplicable taste of detachment. However, this smile before him was mixed with some playfulness and to him, it felt a bit more popular. 

Lin Rufei shook his head. He smiled, but no words left his mouth.

Meng Lanruo also did not decide to pursue deeper on this matter. Holding a cup of wine, he curiously asked Lin Rufei how long it had been since he had left Kunlun, what happened along the way, and where he planned to go next.

Lin Rufei hesitated for a moment and in the end, he did not mention the Xie family. He only talked about the jiao on the Canglan River and said that he would probably follow the Canglan River downwards, over the Xiqiu Mountains, and head towards the Central Plains.

Meng Lanruo listened and he didn’t disguise the envy on his face. He touched his sword which was hanging on his waist and murmured, “I really envy Lin gongzi…….”

Lin Rufei wondered, “Envy me for what?”

Meng Lanruo enthused, “I also want to fight with a sword and travel thousands of miles like Lin gongzi.” But then he continued on listlessly, “But my parents forbid me to go out, saying that they are afraid that because of my nature, I will be cheated out in just three days.”

In a way, Lin Rufei’s situation was very similar to Meng Lanruo’s. For a long time, he also longed to leave the Kunlun Mountains and travel down the mountains like his older brothers and older sister, but one day, he suddenly realized that his weak self would never have such an opportunity.

He could pester his brothers and sister, act spoiled according to the way they wanted, and they would probably agree to his unreasonable request. However, he couldn’t even lift the sword, even if he entered Jianghu, he would only add more trouble for them. Lin Rufei had always been transparent, after thinking clearly about certain things, he completely put down the obsession to leave Kunlun.

The good thing was that now, he had his own destiny.

“Maybe you are too young now, it will take a few more years for your parents to say yes.” Lin Rufei comforted Meng Lanruo.

But Meng Lanruo shook his head and said with sadness that no one knew his mother better than he did. As long as his mother was still alive, he would not be able to leave Xinzhou City.

Lin Rufei listened without responding. He thought that Meng Lanruo might’ve been exaggerating. His family spoiled him and if he was really determined to enter Jianghu, his family probably wouldn’t try and forcefully stop him.

At least at this moment, that was what Lin Rufei thought.

On the stage, the sound of string music was heard. Several dancers floated and began to dance to the sound of music.

Meng Lanruo swept away the disillusionment from a moment ago and came back to life. He was staring dazedly at a girl, who had walked out slowly on the stage, and enthusiastically introduced his favorite Xiao Yu to Lin Rufei.

“Xiao Yu is the most unique girl I’ve ever seen. Not only is she good-looking, but she is proficient in everything from the zither, Go, to calligraphy and painting. Even her sword dance is a masterpiece.” Meng Lanruo gushed, “Although her sword technique is not as good as sword cultivators, it is already more powerful than most mortals……If that Qi Yansheng doesn’t use sword Qi to compete with her, who knows who would win.” 

Lin Rufei was a little interested: “Really?”

“Naturally.” Meng Lanruo replied seriously.

The expensive silk flowers were thrown onto the stage with the sound of applause, and the atmosphere on the flower boat gradually became more and more heated. The girls were doing well tonight, and the silk flowers, which cost the same as gold, never stopped. The patrons, who were drunk, all wanted to send their favorite girls to be the oiran of the night.

Meng Lanruo handed the silk flowers on the table to Lin Rufei and called for the old mother once again. He took out some spirit stones and cashed it in for a few more baskets. It felt like he was spending money like water.  

Lin Rufei was not sensitive towards things like money. His food and clothing were all dealt by his maids so he didn’t have to worry about it. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had snuck down the mountains to sneakily eat snacks, he probably would have never seen silver money.  

“Here she comes, here she comes, Xiao Yu is here.” Meng Lanruo stared at him excitedly.

On the stage, a soft woman slowly stepped up. She was dressed in a long skirt and held double swords tied with red silk. She was half crouched in front of the guests on the stage as she saluted, and after a smile, the sound of music followed.

The moment her swords rose, the woman’s temperament instantly changed. The swords were like white rainbows and the red silk like blood. The woman’s bare feet stepped with the beat of the drums as she tossed and turned on top of the stage gracefully. The sword light was cold and hard, but the pink outfit she was wearing was soft to the extreme. The contrast between this rigid and soft made this sword dance even more and more fascinating.

The woman twisted her waist and threw out the red silk that was tied at the end of the sword. She raised her hand and waved the sword Qi like that of an astral wind[4]. The drums gradually stopped and her dance also slowed down to its end before finally stopping on the stage. Her slightly undulating chest was facing towards the location of Meng Lanruo’s box[5] and she cast a soft smile.

The patrons applauded loudly and rewarded heavily. They threw silk flowers, as if they didn’t cost money at all, onto the stage. Meng Lanruo directly walked out of the box and threw the two baskets of silk flowers that were held in his arms.

The silk flowers fluttered like snow onto Xiao Yu’s head and shoulders. When she saw Meng Lanruo, she smiled back, and slowly bowed before retreating from the stage.

“Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it beautiful?!” Meng Lanruo watched Xiao Yu leave before returning to their private room. He jumped up and down excitedly, like a bored young man who came to the Fallen Spring House for the first time, “I’ve never seen such a beautiful sword dance!”

Lin Rufei laughed, “It was good.” It was indeed beautiful, when she danced with a sword, it was a sensation in all directions.

“It’s just a pity that……” Meng Lanruo was suddenly feeling a bit down, “I wanted to redeem her, but she refused.”

Lin Rufei didn’t know much about these things so he just simply listened on to his story.

Meng Lanruo said: “If she doesn’t like me, so be it, but I think she does like me.” After saying these words, he let out a long sigh and downed the wine in his cup in one go.

As the two were talking, the topic of their conversation came inside. She was holding a plate of freshly cut fruits and smiled at the two people in the private room, softly calling out: “Lanruo……”

Meng Lanruo paused. He immediately looked back and said eagerly: “Xiao Yu!”

“How come you didn’t call me even when you came.” Xiao Yu pouted, “I had to look through the entire crowd to find you when I was performing the sword dance. ”

Meng Lanruo said, “I just wanted to surprise you.”

The two of them both had feelings for each other, and Lin Rufei, who was sitting on one side, became the extra. However, Meng Lanruo quickly reacted and introduced, “Xiao Yu, this is my new friend, Lin gongzi and he is very nice. In your flower house, are there any gentle and pretty girls, quickly call one over for Lin gongzi.”

“Alright.” Xiao Yu laughed, “Lin gongzi is so handsome, it really is a bargain for those little lasses!”

Lin Rufei didn’t refuse. Since he had come here, although he didn’t have any other plans, he couldn’t let Meng Lanruo worry about him while he was being affectionate.

The girl that Xiao Yu had called over soon came. She was soft and beautiful and was named Wan Yi. She was said to be excellent at the zither.

A gentleman was always ready to help others attain their goals. Although Lin Rufei had never eaten pork, he at least had seen a pig run[6]. Meng Lanruo and that Xiao Yu girl were in the process of getting close to each other. Meng Lanruo had wine poured by that Xiao Yu girl and was helped by her into another room. Now the only ones left in the room are Wan Yi, who was playing the zither, and Lin Rufei. 

Wan Yi seemed to be a bit shy and didn’t talk much until Xiao Yu and Meng Lanruo finally left, and only then did she intermittently conversed a bit with Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei was drinking plum wine while talking to Wan Yi.

After finishing a song, Wan Yi noticed that Lin Rufei didn’t seem to care about the next song, so she got up and lit the incense placed on the side of the zither. The fragrance of this incense was clear and fresh, but Lin Rufei felt that it was familiar and asked “What is this incense?”

“It’s incense made of Qilin grass, it has a calming effect.” Wan Yi softly replied, “If gongzi doesn’t like it, Wan Yi will put it out.”

“No need, keep it lit.” Lin Rufei did not hate the smell of Qilin grass. His fingers slid over the rim of the cup and asked, “How long have you been here?”

Wan Yi replied, “Almost three years.”

Lin Rufei said, “What about Xiao Yu?”

Wan Yi hesitated for a moment before answering Lin Rufei’s question, “Sister Xiao Yu came a bit later, it’s probably been a year. Sister Xiao Yu is a great person, once she came here, she was immediately an oiran……”

Lin Rufei said, “Oh.”

Wan Yi smiled: “Does gongzi have any songs he wants to hear?”

Lin Rufei shook his head, indicating that he didn’t have any. He did feel a little tired, but seeing that Meng Lanruo did not want to leave, he could not leave first. He waved his hand to Wan Yi and said, “You go out first, I want to rest by myself for a while.”

Wan Yi was slightly surprised at the words and she bit her lower lip, “But if I go out like this, I will be scolded by mother……”

Lin Rufei frowned slightly at her words. He smoothly took a spirit stone from his sleeve and handed it to her, “Go ahead.”

Wan Yi wanted to add something, but in the end, the words were never spoken. She took the spirit stone, bowed to Lin Rufei, and retreated.

Lin Rufei was the only one left in the room.

Lin Rufei was a bit bored. After looking around and still not seeing Gu Xuandu’s figure, he sighed slightly. He felt that it was somewhat funny, that his senior was so petty.

The room was very well decorated, with a lot of veils and other fabrics. The light was also very dim and it was an atmosphere that easily made people get into the mood. The lit incense burned with a curling white smoke, bringing with it the strange aroma of the unique Qilin grass. Beside the incense burner was a plate of delicate snacks. There were all kinds of shapes and it was made very beautifully.

Lin Rufei happened to be a little hungry, so he twisted a piece and sent it into his mouth. The taste of this mung bean cake was a little too sweet and he did not like it, but the texture wasn’t bad so he still slowly ate it. 

There was still half a jug of plum wine left. Lin Rufei had nothing to do, so he drank it down with the crispy beans.

The drunkenness surged and Lin Rufei’s pale cheeks surfaced with a touch of red. His eyes, which were lighter than normal, were not as clear as usual and carried slight, but obvious, signs of intoxication. It was probably because he drank too much, but his chest started to itch. Lin Rufei covered his mouth and coughed lowly a few times. He used tea to suppress his cough as he got up and walked towards the window to view the scenery outside.

The window of the room was facing the riverside. The lights were dim, like a river of stars, and the tide of the river was lapping against the side of the boat. The sound of the tides were incessant.

Lin Rufei, however, felt some inexplicable discomfort. There was something burning inside his body, from his internal organs and all the way out, even burning his skin.

“Cough cough, cough, cough, cough……” The heatwave came suddenly and Lin Rufei started to cough violently. His consciousness began to blur and he felt that he could no longer control his body. He simply fell limply onto the bed, and a red shadow seemed to appear before his eyes, but with his consciousness drifting further away, Lin Rufei didn’t know anything anymore.

Gu Xuandu’s face was expressionless as he looked at Lin Rufei who had fallen onto the bed. He was lying on the soft bed and his face was not as pale as it usually was. Instead, it had turned into a light pink color. Looking down, one would find that it was not only his cheeks that had turned pink but also his neck. Although the situation below the neck couldn’t be seen, it was probably quite obvious as to what kind of view would be on the body that was tightly wrapped in clothes. 

Sometimes, being too well protected was not a good thing, because unknowingly, things that shouldn’t have be done were done. 

In this flower house, one should naturally also take precautions.

The wine was drinkable and the snacks could also be eaten. However, if the two were combined, there was some unspeakable effect. This effect, on ordinary people, would probably liven things up but Lin Rufei had a weak body, just a little and he would become like this.  

Gu Xuandu’s eyes sank slightly as he gazed at Lin Rufei. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down invisibly as if he was restraining something inside him.

The night breeze was bitterly cold so Gu Xuandu raised his hand and closed the window, sealing off the lights outside.

The next moment, Gu Xuandu extinguished the candle flame inside the room and everything was sunk into darkness.

The room was silent and only the sound of Lin Rufei’s slightly rapid breathing remained.

Lin Rufei woke up after dawn. He was draped in a thick blanket as he sat up from the bed blankly, noticing Gu Xuandu who was sitting at the table.

Gu Xuandu heard him wake up but he didn’t turn around.

“Senior.” Lin Rufei called out.

Gu Xuandu said, “Awake?”

Lin Rufei said, “Mnn……” He rubbed his head, which was a bit sore, and whispered, “Why did I suddenly fall asleep yesterday?”

“There was something put into the snacks and wine in the flower house. You had a pretty big reaction after eating it.” Gu Xuandu murmured, “You passed out straight away.”

Lin Rufei let out a slightly embarrassed “oh” and looked carefully at Gu Xuandu, “Senior…… were you guarding the bedside all night?”

Gu Xuandu, however, simply kept quiet.

But sometimes silence was the answer. Lin Rufei immediately felt a little guilty. Just as he was about to apologize, he saw Gu Xuandu raise his hand to make a “stop” gesture. He then suddenly got up, walked in front of him, and bent down. The tip of their noses almost touched and his face was as cold as ice: “In the future, do not come to this kind of place, if you want to see a sword dance, I will dance. If you want to hear a song, I will play. In short, don’t have a next time. “

Lin Rufei was frozen.

But Gu Xuandu urged once more with some impatience, “Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Lin Rufei replied obediently.

He didn’t know if it was because Gu Xuandu’s tone was very dangerous, but Lin Rufei didn’t have the slightest thought of refuting.

“Very well.” Gu Xuandu nodded, only then did he straighten up and continue carelessly, “After all, next time, I can’t guarantee what will happen.” In the end, he didn’t want to. His cheeks were red and his breath was rapid. He was defenseless and ready to be picked up, Gu Xuandu did not want to see this a second time, not because he was worried that he would be hurt, but worried that the person who would hurt him would be himself.

Gu Xuandu had endured once, but he could not guarantee that he could endure it a second time.

Lin Rufei misunderstood Gu Xuandu’s meaning. After all, he just wanted to check out the flower house but in the end, he got set up. It was indeed shameful. Plus, a senior like Gu Xuandu should be very disdainful of such behavior.

Lin Rufei sighed slightly in his heart, and after a simple wash, he went to find Meng Lanruo.

Meng Lanruo’s room didn’t have a trace of Xiao Yu’s figure. When he noticed Lin Rufei, he smiled and asked him how he had rested last night.

Lin Rufei shook his head and replied that he still didn’t like these places. Meng Lanruo didn’t mind at all and found it quite understandable: “Yes, it seems you are not used to it. Next time, let’s go to some elegant place. Come on, let’s go back to the residence.”

Lin Rufei nodded in agreement.

Only when he left, he also smelled the fragrance of Qilin grass in this room. Immediately, he felt that it was a bit strange, so he asked Meng Lanruo if this kind of incense was especially popular in Xinzhou

“Yes.” Meng Lanruo said, “Especially popular, it is everywhere. My mother also likes it so she planted a lot at home.” He yawned, “I’m so tired……”

Lin Rufei said, “Did you not sleep well last night?”

Meng Lanruo scratched his head, “It was okay, ah.”

Lin Rufei inquired, “Where is Xiao Yu?”

Meng Lanruo was confused, “Xiao Yu? She left a long time ago…….What happened?”

Lin Rufei wondered, “She didn’t spend the night in your room?”

Only then did Meng Lanruo understand what Lin Rufei was trying to imply and he hurriedly explain embarrassingly, “Oh, I didn’t touch her. She’s still pure……after all, she’s still a girl. You have to at least marry before you can do such a thing.”

Lin Rufei laughed, “You’re right.” He looked at the lingering look between the two people and he thought that when the conditions were right, success would naturally follow. However, he did not expect Meng Lanruo to care so much about Xiao Yu.

Only when you truly care about someone, would you still be concerned about two or three things during the period when love was strong. Lin Rufei sighed in his heart, but he did not notice that Gu Xuandu, who was beside him, was looking at him with a complicated expression.

********

The author has something to say:  

When Lin Rufei woke up, Gu Xuandu said to him, 327.

Lin Rufei: Huh?

Gu Xuandu: The number of your eyelashes. I counted it 300 times, I’m sure it’s correct. 

Lin Rufei: You sure have a lot of free time……

Gu Xuandu: If I’m not free, I’m afraid you’ll start crying the next day. 

─────────────────────────────────────────────────

[1] So the term here is 庸脂俗粉 which actually refers to a woman who are popular. It is also used as a derogatory term to describe a woman who only knows how to put on makeup, dress up, and is vulgar and uncultured. 

[2] Silk refers to string instruments while bamboo refers to wind instruments. 

[3] I think this is referring to the Big Mama; the boss lady. 

[4] in Daoism, astral wind is the wind in which immortals may ride. 

[5] Like the ones in the theaters.  

[6] Slang: “Although I haven’t experienced that situation, I knew/heard it from other ways.” 
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