Cherry Blossoms Upon a Wintry Sword Chapter 31-40

Chapter 31: Riverside Scenery

When Lin Rufei and Meng Lanruo returned to the Meng residence, they happened to meet Meng Youyue who was sitting in the garden tending to the flowers and plants. With a long pair of shears in her hand, she was fiddling with the flowers in front of her and two maids standing behind her held onto the flowers she had just picked.

He didn’t know how the Meng residence accomplished this; hundreds of flowers in the garden were vying for beauty as they bloomed at the same time. These buds were either budding or in full bloom and not a single flower was withered. They probably spent a lot of effort to take care of it. 

“Meng Lanruo, I see that your skin has tightened[1] again.” Meng Youyue said, but her eyes contained traces of a smile, “Look at your body covered with rouge powder if mother knew where you have gone—”

“Ah, sister, sister, my good sister, you mustn’t tell mother, ah.” Meng Lanruo said nervously, “I just went to listen to a little song, I wouldn’t dare do anything else.”

Meng Youyue grumbled at Meng Lanruo: “Nevermind that you went out to fool around, you even brought Lin gongzi with you……” 

Lin Rufei smiled and indicated that there was no harm. He commented that it was actually quite interesting.

Meng Youyue smiled sheepishly, “Lin gongzi, my brother is unreliable, if he does anything that offends you, please bear with him.”

Meng Lanruo muttered that he had not, but was nudged on the head by Meng Youyue’s finger, so he finally stopped.

Although Lin Rufei mistakenly ate the pastries in the flower house yesterday, he actually slept quite well. However, Meng Lanruo couldn’t stop yawning and rubbing his eyes, he seemed to be in quite low-spirits. He and Lin Rufei both got some dim sum and the two of them ate one thing after another.

But Meng Lanruo’s attention was not on the food. He was twisting in his seat and had a completely absent-minded look.

Lin Rufei thought he was sleepy at first, but after noticing that he seemed to have wanted to say something several times, he hesitantly put down the half-drunk milk in his hand and asked, “Does Meng gongzi have something to say?”

“Lin gongzi.” Meng Lanruo blinked his eyes and said, “Have you read ‘The Story of Yang Hua?’”

“The Story of Yang Hua” was a very popular novel and had been widely distributed. The story was about a girl in a flower house and a poor scholar. Although the content of the story was old-fashioned, the author’s writing was good and he considered that it was good to read it occasionally for fun. Only, these types of books were popular amongst women. The only reason why Lin Rufei bought it was because when he visited the bookstore, Yu Rui saw it and wanted to bring a copy along. 

If Meng Lanruo had asked this question before, Lin Rufei would have thought he had a wide range of knowledge. However, after what had happened last night, Meng Lanruo’s question seemed to have taken on a different meaning.

Lin Rufei looked at Meng Lanruo and responded, “I’ve read it.”

“Really?” When Meng Lanruo heard that Lin Rufei had read it, he immediately got excited. He brought his head closer and whispered, “My parents say that these are leisure books. They won’t let me read it and said that if I read too much, my brain would deteriorate……” 

For some reason, when Lin Rufei listened to those words spoken from Meng Lanruo’s mouth, he really wanted to laugh. Instead, he let out a low cough to cover up the hidden laughter in his words: “It is indeed leisure books.” As for whether the brain would become bad after reading more, then he doesn’t know.

Meng Lanruo was immediately energized and continued, “Then what do you think of the story?”

Lin Rufei pondered, “It’s not bad.”

Meng Lanruo said, “I think Xiao Yu is the girl in the picture book……” His voice was not loud, but he said it seriously, “It’s exactly the same as in the picture book.”

The oiran in “The Story of Yang Hua” was indeed soft and beautiful and also good at sword dancing. She would always wait for her favorite scholar in the house and even if others wanted to spend a lot of money to redeem her from the flower house, she refused and would rather die.

Lin Rufei looked at Meng Lanruo and laughed: “But even if she is the oiran, you are not the scholar she desires.”

Meng Lanruo let out a long sigh at his words and leaned back listlessly in his chair, “You’re right, however, even though she has been in Xinzhou City for a year now, I haven’t seen her like any scholars, what if……..” He started to whisper, “What if the person she actually loves is me? But she’s just a little reserved and apprehensive……”

Lin Rufei sensed Meng Lanruo’s restless heart: “What kind of concerns will keep her from leaving with you?”

Meng Lanruo scratched his head: “I also asked her, but she just said it’s not time yet. Although I don’t know what it means by ‘it’s not time’…….”

As Lin Rufei observed Meng Lanruo, his lips unknowingly curled into a smile. Meng Lanruo’s teenage angst carried a bit of innocence and it didn’t make people feel bored. Rather, it had a child-like brilliance to it. The Meng family’s youngest son was indeed well protected by the family. Looking at him, he somehow understood the occasional helplessness that arose when his second brother looked at him.

The flower house was not an easy place to survive in. The girls that could live a wonderful life in it, were probably not pitiful creatures who didn’t understand the world. Underestimating them would ultimately lead to suffering. 

The actual situation between Meng Lanruo and Xiao Yu, Lin Rufei could not say, but obviously, Meng Lanruo was very deep in this matter.

Meng Lanruo dwelled on it for a while, then got sleepy. He yawned and said he would go to sleep for a while and when he woke up, he would come back to play with Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei told him to go as he drank up the rest of the milk in his hand.

As soon as Meng Lanruo left, Gu Xuandu sat down in his place and leaned back in the chair with his hands crossed against his chest, watching as Lin Rufei ate.

“What?” Lin Rufei felt that there was something strange in his eyes.

“What do you think of Meng Lanruo?” Gu Xuandu asked.

“What do I think? What do you mean by that?” Lin Rufei was puzzled.

Gu Xuandu probed, “Do you like him?”

Lin Rufei was confused by the question, but nonetheless, he still replied, “I guess……”

Gu Xuandu stopped talking and instructed Lin Rufei to continue eating. Lin Rufei felt that Gu Xuandu wouldn’t ask such a question for no reason, and just as he was about to ask a follow-up question, Gu Xuandu lazily continued, “Yes, who would not like such a cute young master.” After he finished his sentence, he sat up straight and seriously looked at Lin Rufei, “You see, I like you quite a lot.”

Lin Rufei: “……” Why did he always feel that Gu Xuandu was scolding him?

But Gu Xuandu seemed to not want to continue on this topic. He proposed that while the weather was nice, they should go around and see the view of the Meng residence.

Lin Rufei agreed.

The Meng residence was indeed large, but it was not empty. There were servants walking around everywhere, after all, it was probably not easy to maintain ten thousand flowers, so most of these servants were taking care of the flowers and plants.

A small and not-too-deep river ran through the entire Meng residence. The water in the river was clear and one could see beautiful fishes of all colors prancing around in it.

But after strolling around for a while, Lin Rufei noticed a strange phenomenon. That was, the fragrance of Qilin grass could be smelled in almost every inch of the Meng residence. After observing around carefully, he found that Qilin grass was almost all over the Meng residence, and it looked like it was planted deliberately.

“Why does the Meng residence like Qilin grass so much?” Lin Rufei asked curiously, “It’s all over the place.”

Gu Xuandu said slowly, “Maybe it’s to keep the flowers in this room flourishing.”

Lin Rufei said, “There’s this kind of effect?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Yes.” And he briefly introduced the effect of Qilin grass, saying that this grass was usually used to calm the mind, but in fact, it also had other uses; such as retaining things that easily decay. With so many flourishing flowers in the residence, Qilin grass most likely also played a significant role.

Fortunately, Lin Rufei didn’t hate this kind of aroma. It was just that after smelling it so much, it was a bit like living in an orchid room for a long time without smelling its fragrance[2]. The rich aroma also became common.

After walking around the Meng residence, Lin Rufei intended to go back to his room. However, when he passed by the cloister, he noticed a familiar person—the one who was hated by Meng Lanruo, Qi Yansheng. He was sitting in the cloister, holding a fishing rod in his hand, and was actually fishing leisurely.

When he spotted Lin Rufei, he greeted him with a smile, as if he was not the one who confronted Lin Rufei a few days ago.

Lin Rufei nodded back in reply. But he had no intention to talk to him any further. When he intended to leave, he was suddenly stopped by Qi Yansheng’s voice.

“If Lin gongzi has nothing to do, can you accompany me to chat for a while?” His tone sounded quite sincere.

Lin Rufei noted, “What is Qi gongzi doing?”

Qi Yansheng laughed, “I have so much free time that I decided to fish for a while, but unfortunately the fishes wouldn’t take the bait, so it became even more boring.”

Seeing that Lin Rufei was still a bit hesitant, he apologized for yesterday’s incident, saying that he had indeed been impetuous. However, he had no ill will towards Lin Rufei and asked him not to take it personally.

Since the words have come to this point, Lin Rufei also could not refuse. He walked to Qi Yansheng’s side and sat down in the corridor.

“I heard from Youyue that you and Lanruo went to the flower house yesterday? How was it? Did you like it?” Qi Yansheng smiled as he picked up the topic.

Lin Rufei murmured, “It was okay.”

“Just okay?” Qi Yansheng questioned, “I’ve been there before. But unfortunately, now Lanruo dislikes me so much that he refuses to take me there anymore.” Even though he was saying such words, his face was full of a doting smile.

Lin Rufei was silent for a moment before asking, “How many years have you and Lanruo known each other?”

Qi Yansheng reminisced, “It’s been some years.” He spoke with a nostalgic tone, “It’s a pity that at that time, Lanruo was still a silly boy. The older he got, the more disobedient he became.”

His tone was strange. It wasn’t like a friend of the same age, but more like an elderly senior.

Lin Rufei and Qi Yansheng continued to talk. After dropping the hostility, Qi Yansheng also gave people a good feeling. He was knowledgeable and had his own unique insights on various things.  

The two talked until close to noon before Lin Rufei got up to say goodbye. He said that he was going to go back to his room to rest. And before leaving, he casually asked why the residence had so much Qilin grass. Who knew that when he heard these words, Qi Yansheng’s expression stiffened slightly. However, it quickly returned to normal. He smiled and said that the people of Xinzhou were very fond of this fragrance. Not only do they plant them, but they also use this scent in aromatherapy. Even on the streets, the smell would also be present. 

The change in Qi Yansheng’s expression was quick, but it was still caught by Lin Rufei. After listening to his explanation, although Lin Rufei had some doubts in his mind, he did not continue to pursue the matter. He simply nodded and then turned to leave.  

The sound of water suddenly rang out behind him. Something seemed to have bitten Qi Yansheng’s fish hook, but Lin Rufei remembered that Qi Yansheng’s fish hook was clean and dry, it didn’t even have the simplest bait.

When Fu Hua and Yu Rui saw Lin Rufei come back, they breathed a sigh of relief in unison.

After noticing that both his two maids had donned a fearful expression, Lin Rufei joked that he was at least a grown man and not a child, so they didn’t have to worry so much about him.

Yu Rui pouted and complained about her young master’s big heart, saying that Jianghu was treacherous and there were many bad people.

Lin Rufei pinched her cheek and laughed, “Shouldn’t the bad guys like clumsy maids like you the most?” 

Yu Rui didn’t know how to retort and ran away sobbing with tears.

Lin Rufei had just sat down when a paper crane flew into the room. Looking at the appearance of the paper crane, he knew it must be from the Kunlun Mountains. Lin Rufei picked up the paper crane and opened it, and there he saw the familiar penmanship of his second brother. The letter was written by Lin Bianyu, followed by two or three sentences of instructions from his elder brother and third sister. The contents of which were mostly greetings and worries. If one only looked at the contents of the letter, it seemed that Lin Rufei was just a three-year-old child and even a stone on the road could trip him.

After reading the letter, Lin Rufei took out his pen and ink and wrote back to his family, saying that he had sent the invitation to the Meng family and that he intended to stay in Xinzhou City for a few days before heading to the Central Plains, furthermore, that his brothers and sister need not worry.

Of course, these words were the same as not saying anything. After all, in the eyes of his brothers and sister, he would always be a weak little guy with no strength.

When he was writing the letter, Gu Xuandu was watching from the side with eyes full of laughter.

After Lin Rufei finished writing, he put it away carefully and allowed the paper crane to fly away. He turned his head and asked Gu Xuandu what he was laughing at.

“Nothing.” Gu Xuandu said seriously, “I just think you look cute when you frown and dripped the ink.”

However, Lin Rufei did not believe his nonsense, but Gu Xuandu refused to say, so he had to put away his pen and ink and go to rest.

He must say that the Meng family was indeed a good place to recuperate from illness. The environment in the courtyard was nice and quiet, and the maid at the door, Zhu Yin, also did a good job. As long as it was something Lin Rufei may need, she always delivered it to the room in advance.

Lin Rufei drank the medicine and fell into a deep sleep. When he got up again, his body felt a lot more relaxed. Although he still had some coughing, his temperature had completely returned to normal.

After dinner, Lin Rufei was in the courtyard cooling off and Zhu Yin was lighting incense on the stone pillar at the entrance of the courtyard. Lin Rufei watched her actions without saying anything, he only felt that the Meng family’s obsession with this kind of fragrance was really incomprehensible.

Meng Lanruo had slept all day and had finally recovered his spirit. He ran to Lin Rufei’s courtyard to drag him out to go shopping, saying that the city of Xinzhou was very lively at night, and it was a pity not to see the night scenery.

Lin Rufei could not resist, so he had to go with him.

The city of Xinzhou was very large and indeed lively at night. Although it was dark, bright lanterns were hung everywhere on the streets. It illuminated the whole street with brilliant lights and the people on the streets were all raucous and noisy. Lin Rufei even noticed a few entertainers selling their art on the street.

From his sleeve, he took out a few silver coins as reward money and threw them over. Meng Lanruo smiled and asked Lin Rufei what the night scene on Kunlun looked like.

“That depends on whether you’re talking about the mountain or the mountain foot.” Lin Rufei walked beside Meng Lanruo and started talking about his home, “It snows all year-round on the mountains. There is no Spring nor are there people. The foot of the mountain is slightly better since there’s quite a lot of disciples. However, the disciples are usually very restrained because of the strict rules Kunlun has, and there are only some small markets during sword competitions. At the foot of the mountain, there is also a small town. There aren’t that many people, but it’s quite interesting. Next to the town, there is a cherry blossom forest. In the forest, there is a group of monkeys who like to bully people……”

Listening to Lin Rufei’s words, Meng Lanruo showed a look of longing, he sighed: “Sure is nice.”

Lin Rufei smiled: “Xinzhou City is also good, it’s very beautiful.”

Meng Lanruo did not respond. Probably because after so many years, even the most beautiful scenery got a bit tiresome to look at.

The two of them walked along the streets and Meng Lanruo asked Lin Rufei if he wanted to go to the riverside. He explained that in a few days it would be the Qingming Festival. They had a custom of sending out lanterns to pay tribute to the old ones during the Qingming Festival, so there should be a lot of beautiful lanterns floating on the river these days, which was a beautiful sight at night.

Lin Rufei thought that Meng Lanruo’s personality was really quite interesting. Ordinary people may feel uncomfortable or afraid when they see such a scene, but he felt nothing, and even jumped at the chance, as if the lanterns on the river were not for the deceased, but a toy with a riddle on it.

However, Lin Rufei did not refuse and he accompanied Meng Lanruo towards the river.

It was already late, but there were already many people at the riverside putting down the lit lanterns along the flowing water. Little bursts of firelight shone on the dark river and the river seemed to have become a dark galaxy with dots of numerous stars floating above it.

People not only sent out lanterns, but they also burned paper money and joss sticks on the shore.

Lin Rufei and Meng Lanruo stood on the shore as they felt the river breeze envelope their bodies gently. Meng Lanruo was quite, as if he was thinking about something deeply.

“Hmm?” Gu Xuandu, who hadn’t appeared at all, suddenly spoke up from behind Lin Rufei. His tone held some interest, “Look who is over there?”

Lin Rufei looked in the direction Gu Xuandu had said and saw someone he hadn’t expected. It was actually Qi Yansheng who he had just seen in the corridor during the day.

It was very dark and if Gu Xuandu had not reminded him, Lin Rufei would not have noticed that Qi Yansheng was squatting by the river, sending out a flower lantern.

If it was just him then that was perfectly fine and understandable, but after he sent out the lantern, he said something to the person standing beside him. That person turned their head and Lin Rufei happened to see her face. His eyes widened a little in shock—that was Meng Lanruo’s interest in the flower house, the girl Xiao Yu, who was a very beautiful sword dancer.

The two of them were acquainted with each other? They even met at the riverside?

“This Meng gongzi’s hair is a bit green[3].” Gu Xuandu sighed.

The two seemed to be on good terms and they were talking in an intimate manner. Qi Yansheng even raised his hand to help Xiao Yu straighten her hair, which had been blown into a mess by the river breeze.

Out of the corner of his eye, Lin Rufei looked at the Meng family’s little gongzi, who was squatting at his side, picking up mud and throwing it into the river. At that moment, he didn’t know what to say. Should he let him take a look or pretend that he didn’t notice as well?

While Lin Rufei was seriously contemplating this matter, Meng Lanruo suddenly raised his head and looked in the direction that Lin Rufei had just been looking at. In the darkness of the night, he also seemed to notice the two people who were conversing on the riverbank in front of him. After raising his hand and rubbing his eyes heavily, his expression finally froze directly.

That expression was really hard to describe, almost as if he had seen a ghost but also full of disbelief. He fiercely straightened up. He wanted to roar out loud, but somehow he swallowed it back down hard. 

Meng Lanruo obviously saw it. He saw that this annoying Qi Yansheng and his favorite Xiao Yu were being affectionate, as if they were very close with each other. 

Lin Rufei moved his eyes towards the river and pretended that he was admiring the brightly lit lanterns.

“Lin gongzi.” Meng Lanruo squeezed out this sentence from his mouth with difficulty, “I don’t feel so well, let’s go back first.”

“Okay.” Lin Rufei nodded his head.

Meng Lanruo turned his head and walked away, his steps were so hurried and panicked that he almost tripped and fell. In the end, Lin Rufei gave him a hand so that he didn’t fall to the ground.

Until they returned to the Meng residence, Meng Lanruo did not speak again.

However, when they were about to part, Meng Lanruo suddenly opened his mouth and his voice took on a childish crying tone, “Lin gongzi, you saw it, right?”

Lin Rufei was dumbfounded. He really wanted to pretend that he didn’t see, but facing this appearance of Meng Lanruo, the lies surfacing at his throat could not come out. Finally, they all turned into a low sigh as he stretched out his hands and gently pressed on Meng Lanruo’s shoulder. He slowly nodded his head. 

The little gongzi, who had never experienced these things, finally could not help but sob and it was probably because he felt humiliated. While he fiercely wiped away the tears from his cheek, he choked out: “How can he do this, how can he……” 

Because he used too much force, his white cheeks turned into a scarlet and even faint bloodstains appeared.

“This……might just be a misunderstanding.” Lin Rufei felt that although Meng Lanruo said that he hated Qi Yansheng, in fact, the relationship between the two of them was not as bad as imagined. Otherwise, he could have very well rushed over on the spot and questioned why Qi Yansheng was with Xiao Yu. Only when confronted with a friend’s betrayal would one show such an overwhelmed look.

“In front of me, he even advised me to stay away from Xiao Yu, saying that she is not a good person and that the women in the flower house are all insincere.” Meng Lanruo cried, “Qi Yansheng this liar, big liar, I hate him the most. He obviously likes my sister, but actually dares to do such nasty things behind my sister’s back!”

Lin Rufei was at a loss for words and really didn’t know how to comfort Meng Lanruo.

But apparently, Meng Lanruo also didn’t need him to say anything. After he finished venting, he wiped his face haphazardly and revealed an extremely ugly smile: “Sorry Lin gongzi, it was me who lost my temper. You should rest early……I will go back to my room first.”

Lin Rufei frowned and said worriedly: “You might as well find Qi Yansheng and talk to him about this matter……” in case there was any misunderstanding.

However, Meng Lanruo heavily shook his head and his expression gradually calmed down: “My family doesn’t want me to have too much involvement with Xiao Yu. Even if this matter was true, no one would stand on my side. Furthermore. Xiao Yu…..Xiao Yu never promised to let me redeem her. Here I was wondering who she was waiting for, now I finally know.” 

After Meng Lanruo finished his speech, he said goodbye to Lin Rufei and turned around to leave

Lin Rufei looked at his lost[4] figure and was really worried that he would do something stupid. He frowned and said to himself: “What should we do? This Meng family’s little gongzi will not do anything too extreme, right?”

Gu Xuandu said lazily, “With his capability, are you saying he’s going to break the sky?”  

Lin Rufei disagreed: “It’s possible.”

Gu Xuandu said, “If you see your lover meeting someone else one day, what will you do?”

Lin Rufei thought about it: “I would probably stab the adulterer[5] to death with my sword.”

Gu Xuandu: “You won’t blame your lover?”

Lin Rufei said, “I don’t know. Maybe I will, maybe I can’t bear to.” He turned his head to look at Gu Xuandu, “What about you?”

Gu Xuandu said seriously, “I won’t allow such a thing to happen.”

Lin Rufei still questioned curiously, “But what if?”

Gu Xuandu chuckled coldly, “What if? There is no ‘what if.’”

He even guarded a certain someone when they were bathing, how could there be “what ifs.”

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: I don’t believe anyone can green[3] me!

Lin Rufei: This Chinese peony is so pretty.

Gu Xuandu: …….

Lin Rufei: This peony is so beautiful. 

Gu Xuandu: …….

Lin Rufei: This …..

Gu Xuandu: Are you deliberately provoking me? ?

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

[1] Doing something to make the other angry that they want to beat you. 

[2] It is a metaphor for staying in a certain environment for a long time and getting used to it. 

[3] This means having your girlfriend or your partner stolen away.  

[4] Distracted. 

[5] In this case, it is referring to the male adulterer. In Chinese, there is a word for female adulterer and male adulterer uwu 

Chapter 32: Xiao Yu, Xiao Yu

Although Gu Xuandu felt that Meng Lanruo couldn’t do anything too drastic, Lin Rufei still had some concerns in his heart.

In the next few days, Lin Rufei did not see Meng Lanruo at all. After some thorough thinking, he felt that something was not right, so he sought out Zhu Yin and asked her why he had not seen Meng Lanruo.

Zhu Yin replied, “Oh, Lin gongzi doesn’t know yet, my young master caught a cold a few days ago and has been recuperating for the past few days.”

Only then did Lin Rufei know that Meng Lanruo was ill, “Is it serious?”

“It’s not serious, just a little cold. However, Lin gongzi is also sick, so I didn’t tell you because I was afraid you would catch his cold.” Zhu Yin replied.

Lin Rufei asked where Meng Lanruo was recuperating since he planned on visiting him. He believed that his sudden illness was most definitely related to what he had seen that night. But judging from Zhu Yin’s expression, he guessed that Meng Lanruo didn’t talk about that incident.

Zhu Yin led the way and brought Lin Rufei to Meng Lanruo’s door. He hadn’t even enter yet when he heard the voice of Meng Youyue, who was patiently persuading him, ringing out from inside: “My little ancestor, how can you get well if you don’t drink the medicine. Be good, don’t be naughty. If mother found out, do you still want your ears?”

Meng Lanruo mustered in a strained voice: “Then I don’t want them anymore, let mother pull them off.”

Meng Youyue was helpless at her little brother: “You think mother doesn’t have the heart to do that, right? If you don’t drink it, I’ll force it on you.”

Meng Lanruo was about to say something when Zhu Yin raised her hand and knocked on the door, “Young master, young miss. Lin gongzi heard that young master was sick so he came to visit.”

“Come in.” Meng Youyue responded.

Lin Rufei entered the room and a strong scent of Chinese medicine permeated throughout. It was a smell that he was most familiar with. After smelling it for years and years, it was indeed quite tiresome.

The lively Meng Lanruo from a few days ago was now lying in bed with a haggard complexion. His small face was pale beyond comparison and it was somewhat similar to Lin Rufei’s. 

When he noticed Lin Rufei, his eyes lit up but then dimmed in the next second, “Lin gongzi, you’ve come to see me.”

“Mnn, I came to see you.” Lin Rufei walked to the bedside, “How do you feel?”

“It’s just a small cold. Sister always likes to make a big deal out of it.” Meng Lanruo complained, “This medicine is so bitter that it makes people’s brains hurt. Even if I don’t drink it, I will be fine in a few days. Why do I have to suffer from this?”

When Meng Youyue heard those words from his mouth, she irritably nudged him on his head, “You, ah. Look at how old you are and you’re still afraid of the bitterness from the medicine. Aren’t you afraid of becoming a laughing stock in front of Lin gongzi?” 

Meng Lanruo stuck out his tongue and made a playful face, however, he still adamantly refused to drink the medicine.

Meng Youyue sighed and helplessly gave up her persuasion. She told them to talk first and that she was going to summon their mother so that she could come and keep an eye on Meng Lanruo as he drank his medicine.

Meng Lanruo was not afraid at all and he even asked Meng Youyue to bring him a packet of candied plums from Wang Ji’s place near their residence. Meng Youyue glared at Meng Lanruo and said that she didn’t have the time to buy him plums. Furthermore, he was still sick. If he didn’t want to drink the medicine, then no way was he getting plums. Dream on!

Meng Lanruo only laughed at her words and did not refute.

Meng Youyue left the room and the smile on Meng Lanruo’s face faded a little. He furrowed his brows sadly and coughed a few times, murmuring: “I have not been sick in a long time……”  

Lin Rufei consoled, “It is common for people to get sick once in a while.”

“The last time I was sick, it was a year ago.” Meng Lanruo reminisced, “I was very sick, but fortunately I was able to meet Xiao Yu afterward……” Mentioning the name Xiao Yu, Meng Lanruo once again donned on a gloomy look, “But I didn’t expect that she and Qi Yansheng……”

Lin Rufei inquired, “So what do you want to do now?”

Meng Lanruo forced a smile: “What else can I do? Although I say I hate Qi Yansheng, in fact, we have been friends for many years and he is also a valuable guest at the Meng residence. He has been in the Meng residence for many years and although I think that he is sometimes particularly obnoxious, he is indeed my only friend……” As he spoke, he became sad again and choked heavily on his words.

Lin Rufei was speechless. A good friend and his most beloved woman together, there was probably nothing more tragic in this world than this.

“And I always thought that Qi Yansheng liked my sister.” Meng Lanruo shrunk into the bed like a little pitiful boy who had been bullied miserably, “But now when I think about it, he actually never said such a thing. I usually joked about it, he just didn’t refute.” He thought that the silence meant he was agreeing. However, he didn’t realize that the silence turned out to be rejection. 

After seeing the truth, a lot of things that he didn’t understand could finally be explained, but this truth, Meng Lanruo would rather not have seen.

Lin Rufei had been silent, but it seemed that Meng Lanruo didn’t need him to say anything. Meng Lanruo rambled several old stories about him and Qi Yansheng, and it could be seen that he did have some special friendship with Qi Yansheng. This Qisheng had been in the Qi family for nearly ten years, even if it was a dog, there should be some feelings. What was more, he could also be considered an interesting person.

“You’re not going to find him and ask?” Seeing that Meng Lanruo was a little tired of talking, Lin Rufei brought out this crucial question.

Meng Lanruo smiled bitterly: “I’m not going to ask him, I’m afraid I’ll be more upset if I do.”

Lin Rufei was slightly surprised.

“But I probably will still go find Xiao Yu once more to see if she is willing to go with me.” Meng Lanruo said, “If she is really unwilling, then so be it.” Although he said it lightly, but the great grief contained in his tone was clear to Lin Rufei.

It seemed that this oiran, Xiao Yu, had indeed taken up a big part in Meng Lanruo’s life.

When Lin Rufei heard Meng Lanruo’s words, he thought that the matter was over and Meng Lanruo had decided to give up and give Xiao Yu to Qi Yansheng.

But for some reason, Lin Rufei always felt that there was something unusual about this matter. He wanted to look into it, but couldn’t catch any traces to start.

In a short while, Meng Lanruo’s sister and Madam Meng came over. She was carrying a packet of candied plums that they had just bought. Meng Lanruo seemed to have expected this and took the packet with a smile and even called out to his sister in a spoiled manner. Madam Meng then urged him to drink the medicine with a darkened face but Meng Lanruo still refused to open his mouth. This made Madam Meng so angry that she wanted to pull on his ears again. 

Seeing the happy atmosphere of the family, Lin Rufei had the sense to get up and bid farewell.

After the conversation just now, Meng Lanruo had told Lin Rufei that he wanted to talk to Xiao Yu. Lin Rufei thought Meng Lanruo would go after he recovered, but who knew that in the evening, he noticed Zhu Yin lighting incense in the room with a sad face. He casually asked what was wrong.

Zhu Yin said, “Sigh, the young master has done something stupid and his condition has worsened again.”

“Something stupid?” Lin Rufei’s heart thudded, “What did he do?”

“Isn’t young master still sick?” Zhu Yin said bitterly, “Who knew that if I didn’t watch him for a while, he would actually sneak off to the flower house to meet the oiran. He was finally caught by the young miss and dragged back.”

Lin Rufei froze slightly. He didn’t expect Meng Lanruo to be so impulsive.

“Now look at what he’s done. Madam already disliked young master going to the flower house, so she simply grounded him.” Zhu Yin muttered, “I don’t know how beautiful the little demons in the flower house are to be able to seduce young master so much.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Then where is he now?”

“He’s in solitary confinement.” Zhu Yin responded, “And I don’t know when he will be released.”

Lin Rufei frowned slightly at her words. He felt that this matter was getting more and more troublesome.

After Zhu Yin left, Lin Rufei sighed and mumbled to himself, “It’s really troublesome.”

“Yes. It’s so troublesome that it feels annoying.” Gu Xuandu plopped himself lazily into the chair. He wasn’t actually interested in the matters of the Meng residence, including the love-hate relationship of the Meng family’s youngest son. In fact, as long as it did not threaten Lin Rufei, he always donned a lazy expression.

But Lin Rufei’s heart was not as big as Gu Xuandu’s. He sat on the edge of the bed silently for a quite some time before he finally hesitantly spoke up: “Do you think Qi Yansheng knows about this?”

Gu Xuandu remarked, “That Qi Yansheng is a smart man.”

Lin Rufei: “So he knows?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Most likely he knows.”

Lin Rufei wondered, “If he knew, why didn’t he show any indication?”

However, Gu Xuandu simply laughed, “He will definitely show it, but whether the little gongzi of the Meng family likes it or not is a different matter.”

Lin Rufei frowned. He always felt that Gu Xuandu’s words were hiding some sort of dangerous message.

“Just wait, things will end.” Gu Xuandu repeated flatly, “Completely——end.”

Meng Lanruo was locked up for three days.

During these three days, Lin Rufei could hear his wailing screams whenever he passed by the courtyard that he resided in. This little gongzi was obviously still sick, but his screams were still full of vigor. At first, Lin Rufei was a bit worried, but then he also gradually learned to get used to it.

Lin Rufei’s illness was gradually recovering. He thought that it was about time for him to leave the Meng residence after he fully recovered, so he planned to bid farewell to Meng Lanruo.

Lin Rufei headed over to the place where Meng Lanruo was confined in. The servants all knew Lin Rufei and knew that he was an honored guest of the Meng residence, so they did not stop him and let him in directly.

“Lin gongzi, Lin gongzi, you’ve finally come to see me!” Meng Lanruo was jumping up and down in the room, like an excited monkey who was coming out of the mountain for the first time. The table in front of him was decorated with all kinds of food. There was basically everything and a lot of leisure books, like fairy tales. Besides the fact that he couldn’t go out, he didn’t look confined in the slightest. His illness had apparently been cured since his face was no longer sickly, rather it was red and glowing.

“I was thinking that you would never be that heartless and that you would definitely come to see me!” Meng Lanruo handed Lin Rufei an orange. He smiled and gestured for him to eat it.

Lin Rufei did not take it and helplessly replied: “Even if you are in a hurry, you can’t run out of the house while you are sick.”

Meng Lanruo shook his head and continued with a smile, “You don’t know how worthwhile this trip was for me.”

“Oh? You met Xiao Yu?” Lin Rufei asked curiously.

“I did, and asked her about that day.” Meng Lanruo said, “It really was a misunderstanding. She and Qi Yansheng have nothing to do with each other. They just coincidentally met, and……and something happened……for them to be that intimate.”

“Something happened? What happened?” Lin Rufei, however, still felt very suspicious.

Meng Lanruo was a little bit hesitant. He pondered over it for a while before lowering his voice: “Xiao Yu encountered some things and was a little bit depressed so she went to the river. Coincidentally she encountered Qi Yansheng who was releasing lanterns and as a result, she was saved by him.” 

Lin Rufei immediately understood what Meng Lanruo meant: “She wanted to kill herself?”

“Shhh……shhh……keep your voice down.” Meng Lanruo chided, “I didn’t believe it at that time either, so as she spoke, she took off her clothes. ” At this point, his face reddened for a moment before it went back to being serious, “I found that on her skin there were a lot of densely packed old wounds.”

Lin Rufei frowned as he listened.

“Apparently, before she came here, Xiao Yu had met someone unsuitable. She managed to escape and arrived in Xinzhou and in order to survive, she entered the flower house, which was how she ended up meeting me.” Meng Lanruo continued, “I wanted to redeem her, but she felt that she was not worthy of me.” 

Lin Rufei said, “That’s why……she was depressed?”

“Yes.” Meng Lanruo laughed, “I also asked Qi Yansheng about this and he said the same as Xiao Yu, only……” He continued bitterly, “He still doesn’t like Xiao Yu. He thinks that Xiao Yu is not as innocent as she looks, and also advised me to stay away from her.”

Lin Rufei listened to Meng Lanruo’s explanation and was silent for a long time.

This explanation was perfect, but in the midst of this perfection, there was a sense of disharmony, like a flawless lie. Although it was impossible to find the oddity, it always made people feel a little uncomfortable. Lin Rufei did not want to arbitrarily classify it as a lie, but deep inside his heart, layers of suspicion did arise.

And Meng Lanruo obviously did not think that much about it. He believed in Xiao Yu’s words and also believed in Qi Yansheng. He felt that Xiao Yu did not betray himself and was still the girl he loved.

He talked about his next plan, saying that he would pick up Xiao Yu as soon as he got out of confinement. And that no matter how much his mother objected, he would definitely marry the girl. This was the best ending in a fairy tale. 

Lin Rufei wanted to say something, but in the end, he was not able to say the words that would dampen his enthusiasm. 

Meng Lanruo said regretfully: “It’s a pity that you have to leave and can’t attend our wedding. How about you stay for a few more days?”  

Lin Rufei smiled and politely refused his offer.

After talking with Meng Lanruo for a while, Lin Rufei came out of the room and saw Qi Yansheng standing at the door. It seemed that Qi Yansheng had also come to visit Meng Lanruo and he came just after Lin Rufei had left.

“Lin gongzi.” Qi Yansheng smiled and nodded his head at Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei simply returned the greeting.

Without much conversation between the two, they brushed past each other. Lin Rufei’s nose once again picked up that strong aroma of Qilin grass.

After planning to leave, Lin Rufei asked Fu Hua and Yu Rui to pack their luggages. However, who knew that the weather simply would not cooperate. The next few days were cloudy and rainy. Fu Hua was afraid that Lin Rufei would freeze so she hurried into Xinzhou City and spent a lot of money to buy a carriage. She took out a talisman and told the craftsman to inlay it into the carriage. This whole situation further delayed them for a few more days.

Meng Lanruo’s confinement also had just ended. Like a freed bird, he scurried around the Meng residence and dragged Lin Rufei to see him off.

When Lin Rufei saw him so happy, his heart was a little relieved. He thought that no matter what, Meng Lanruo was also the most favored young son of the Meng residence. Even if something were to happen, his parents would also protect him.

The quiet days continued for a few days and in these days, Lin Rufei would see Qi Yansheng sitting in the corridor fishing. He didn’t greet him like the first time they met, rather Qi Yansheng’s back looked extra lonely and indifferent.

Lin Rufei didn’t get along with him in the first place so he also did not take the initiative to ask.

It wasn’t until a few days later when the carriage was about to be finished that Lin Rufei happened to pass by the corridor again, and Qi Yansheng, who was sitting in the corridor fishing, suddenly opened his mouth, “Lin gongzi, are you leaving?”

Lin Rufei answered yes.

“Although Lanruo is a jumpy person, he actually only has a few close friends, and you are one of the few people he calls a friend.” Qi Yansheng said, “It’s a bit of a pity to just leave like this.”

“There is no banquet that doesn’t end under Heaven[1].” Lin Rufei said indifferently. Although he also liked Meng Lanruo, he couldn’t stay at the Meng residence all the time. Besides, Meng Lanruo was in good shape these days, he was smiling and laughing practically every day.

“That’s true.” Qi Yansheng smiled lightly, “But if it’s not urgent, can I ask Lin gongzi to leave a few days later?”

Lin Rufei questioned, “Why?”

But Qi Yansheng did not speak again. He put away the fishing rod in his hand, turned around, and walked away.

Lin Rufei looked at his back and frowned as he disappeared. Gu Xuandu lazily commented: “Poor little gongzi of the Meng family……he is going to be unlucky.”

Lin Rufei gazed at Gu Xuandu with a puzzled expression.

But Gu Xuandu simply smiled in respond: “But this matter doesn’t relate to you.” 

Lin Rufei asked again, but Gu Xuandu refused to speak no matter what.

Lin Rufei’s heart was still uneasy, so he pushed his leaving date back a few more days.

Who knew that the day before he decided to leave, an accident had really happened. 

The flower house girl, Xiao Yu, that Meng Lanruo had wanted to marry, left a suicide note, and threw herself into the river, dying just like that. It was said that Meng Lanruo was in her room at that time and had watched her jump off the flower boat into the river—perishing like jade[2].

When Lin Rufei heard the news, he just so happened to be drinking tea and the cup of tea in his hand trembled, almost falling to the ground.

Zhu Yin cried and said her young master was so heartbroken and desperate that he was forcibly taken back to the Meng family by the madam. Now he was alone in the room and not willing to see anyone. Everyone was worried, but they didn’t know what to do.

The back of Lin Rufei’s white hand was red from the hot tea. Yu Rui hurriedly took away the teacup and wanted to bring some ice over, but Lin Rufei refused.

“Where is he? I’ll go over and take a look.” Lin Rufei asked.

“He’s in the loft next to Lin gongzi’s.” Zhu Yin cried, “What should we do about this?……”

Lin Rufei got up in a split second. He didn’t even put on his outerwear as he hurried to the said loft. Outside the loft, many people have already gathered and once he saw their faces, he knew that they were all relatives of Meng Lanruo. Everyone had a sad expression and Madam Meng had already fallen into the arms of Meng Youyue as she sobbed with grief, “How could this happen? I had promised him to bring that woman into the house, how could she still throw herself into the river?!” 

Meng Youyue also looked sad and her eyes were full of worry for Meng Lanruo.

Lin Rufei remembered what Qi Yansheng had said to him a few days ago and he believed that Xiao Yu’s death must have had something to do with him. However, he was currenty nowhere to be seen in the crowd. 

No matter how much the people outside tried to persuade, Meng Lanruo, who was inside the room, refused to open the door. They didn’t have any other methods, so they gradually started dispersing. Madam Meng was worried that he would have an accident so she sent someone to guard the outside of the room.

Lin Rufei also left and on his way back, he actually saw Qi Yansheng in the corridor, still fishing. He walked behind Qi Yansheng and asked coldly: “Did you do this?”

Qi Yansheng had his back turned to Lin Rufei and smiled, “I wonder what Lin gongzi is referring to?”

Lin Rufei retorted, “Do I need to tell you?” Naturally, it was about the matter regarding Xiao Yu. He didn’t believe that the girl would throw herself into the river for no reason and the bruises might also have something to do with Qi Yansheng. The story could fool the naive and innocent Meng Lanruo, but not others.

Qi Yansheng was silent for a moment and said: “The child is not a fish, how can he know the joy of fish[3]?”

Lin Rufei said indifferently, “I don’t know if the fishes are happy, I only know that dead people can’t get happy.” Looking at Meng Lanruo being fooled by Qi Yansheng, even if he had a good temper, he couldn’t help but still get a little angry. That Meng Lanruo had taken this Qi Yansheng as a friend, but in the end, he didn’t know what this so-called friend had done.

Qi Yansheng laughed. He put down his fishing rod, stood up, bowed to Lin Rufei, saying seriously, “Thank you, Lin gongzi.”

Lin Rufei stared at him, waiting for his next words.

Qi Yansheng continued, “Thank you, Lin gongzi, for becoming Lanruo’s friend.”

After saying these words, Qi Yansheng turned around and left without a moment’s hesitation. Lin Rufei held the sword at his waist and stood in silence for a long time until Gu Xuandu asked him what he was thinking about. He only coldly said: “I was thinking if I killed this Qi Yansheng with one strike, would the aftermath be troublesome.”

When Gu Xuandu heard those words, he could not help but laugh and he continued to laugh until he was out of breath: “Xiao Jiu is angry, ah.” The cold look he had when he said he wanted to kill someone, somehow also looked cute. And then with a doting look, he turned to Lin Rufei and uttered softly, “If you want to kill, then kill. Anyone that makes Xiao Jiu unhappy all deserves to die.” 

Lin Rufei only thought that Gu Xuandu was teasing him so he glared and left without another word. 

The death of Xiao Yu really broke Meng Lanruo’s heart. He did not drink or sleep for three days so Madam Meng had no choice but to drug him into unconsciousness and then force-feed him some medicinal soup.

Lin Rufei also saw the unconscious Meng Lanruo. In just a few days, this little gongzi had lost a lot of weight. His originally quite round cheeks now instead revealed a thin chin. His eyes were closed, but he was still frowning as if trapped in a never-ending nightmare that he couldn’t wake up from.

The person you love died in front of you, that was far more horrible than any nightmare.

After sleeping for half a day, Meng Lanruo finally woke up in a daze. He opened his eyes and noticed the Meng family as well as Lin Rufei sitting at the bedside waiting for him. He was about to send everyone out when he heard Lin Rufei’s voice, a little light but gentle like usual: “Shall I keep you company and talk?”

Meng Lanruo hesitated for a moment but eventually agreed.

The Meng family retreated and only the two people were left in the room.

Lin Rufei looked him up and down. He hesitated for a moment before saying in a low voice: “Cry if you want to. You’re still a child, it’s not embarrassing.”

And in the next moment, Meng Lanruo howled in tears. His crying was so loud that it could actually cause a major disaster. While crying, he kept calling out Xiao Yu’s name with a grief-stricken look. When Lin Rufei saw this, his heart flooded with some grievance. He didn’t try to coax and just sat there quietly, waiting until Meng Lanruo grew tired from crying before handing him a cup of warm tea, indicating for him to drink.

Meng Lanruo drank the tea and his emotions calmed down slightly. He looked at Lin Rufei in a dull manner and said, “Xiao Yu is dead.”

Tears flowed down the corners of his eyes again, “I can never fight with her in Jianghu.”

Lin Rufei raised his hand and patted his head soothingly.  

Meng Lanruo wailed again.

He cried for almost the whole night until he was tired of crying and fell into a deep sleep.

After Lin Rufei came out of the room, he was surrounded by the Meng family and he briefly told them about Meng Lanruo’s situation.

When the Meng family heard that he had cried out, they were slightly relieved and said that there would be others guarding him in the second half of the night, so Lin Rufei could go and rest first.

Lin Rufei did not hold out and intended to go back to sleep for a while.

He walked slowly through the Meng residence and headed towards his room. Through the window, he saw the light inside the room.

After entering the room, Lin Rufei saw Gu Xuandu sitting in the candlelight, looking tired and seemingly exhausted. When he heard Lin Rufei’s footsteps, he didn’t even bother raising his head: “Back?”

“Where have you been?” Lin Rufei asked.

Gu Xuandu said, “I went to pick up some things.” As he said this, he lifted up two lanterns from under the table.

The style of the lanterns were very familiar, they were the same lanterns that Lin Rufei had seen at the riverside that was used to pay tribute to the ancestors. Lin Rufei was wondering what Gu Xuandu was doing with them when he saw Gu Xuandu handing them over.

Lin Rufei reached out to take it and when he looked inside the lanterns, his expression froze.

There were two lanterns with two names written on them, one was Xiao Yu, and the other was……Meng Lanruo.

********

The author has something to say: 

Lin Rufei: Can’t be cut, still in disarray[4]. 

Gu Xuandu: Then what should we do? 

Lin Rufei: Use a sword to end it all.

Gu Xuandu: Cut, cut, cut. Anything that makes our Xiao Jiu unhappy should be cut!

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

[1] “Everything comes to an end.” 

[2] Or to wither like a flower; a metaphor for the death of a young woman. 

[3] Meaning; “one should not always look at others from one’s own perspective—do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

[4] It means that “it can’t be settled, nor can you make sense of it. Foretells the entanglement and complexity of feelings; want to rationalize it, but it becomes more complicated.” 

Chapter 33: Inside the Meng Residence

Looking at the two lanterns in his hand, Lin Rufei’s expression froze. He slowly raised his head and asked in a deep voice: “Who put up the lanterns?”

Gu Xuandu replied, “Qi Yansheng. One was put up that day and the other was put up yesterday.” He lazily continued, “The one put up yesterday says Xiao Yu and the one put up that day said Meng Lanruo.”

Countless thoughts reverberated in Lin Rufei’s mind before they eventually converged into an unbelievable guess. Finally, Lin Rufei put those words into a question: “Meng Lanruo is dead?”

Gu Xuandu did not answer nor did he deny.

“Exactly what is going on? Meng Lanruo, the Meng family, Xiao Yu, and Qi Yansheng.” At this moment, the sense of incongruity that had existed since the beginning became stronger and stronger, and countless questions flooded Lin Rufei’s mind, “Could it be that Qi Yansheng killed Meng Lanruo?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Don’t be anxious, some things can be clarified slowly.” Lin Rufei’s face was heavy but he had a smile quite apparent in his eyes, “This is the charm of Jianghu. In Jianghu, there are always things that are beyond your expectation.” He saw the truth, but he did not want to unravel it. Some answers were more interesting when you search for them yourself. This was the purpose of traveling in Jianghu.

Gu Xuandu didn’t want Lin Rufei to be ignorant about the world forever and would rather watch Lin Rufei grow up little by little.

This was the matter with the Meng family. Gu Xuandu could have said it directly, but he chose not to.

Lin Rufei also understood Gu Xuandu’s meaning and his emotions gradually calmed down. He grabbed the lantern and sat down, staring at the name on the lantern silently for a long time.

“I’m going to look for Qi Yansheng.” Lin Rufei said, “He must know the truth.”

Gu Xuandu smiled, “You know, no matter what you do, I will support you.”

Lin Rufei put down the lantern, turned around, and left the room.

At this time the sky was dark and the Meng residence’s lights made the daytime lush flowers seem a bit eerier. Lin Rufei walked through the familiar scenery, but he inexplicably felt something strange. The only thing that remained the same was the rich aroma of Qilin grass.

However, after spending so many days in the Meng residence, Lin Rufei’s nose was almost used to this smell and after some more time, he probably wouldn’t be able to smell this aroma anymore. 

Qi Yansheng’s room was on the south side of the Meng residence and it was also close to the place where Meng Lanruo lived. He didn’t know if it was a coincidence, but on the way to search for Qi Yansheng, Lin Rufei did not meet a single person. The servants who used to walk through the Meng residence were currently all gone. 

When he arrived at Qi Yansheng’s room, he could see the dim light inside the window from outside, and it seemed that Qi Yansheng was inside.

But when Lin Rufei raised his hand to knock on the door, he found that the door was half-open, and no one answered. He hesitated for a moment and called out Qi Yansheng’s name a few more times, but there was still no response.

After thinking for a moment, Lin Rufei said an “excuse me,” then raised his hand, and pushed the door open. However, the room was empty and only a few oil lamps were lit. There was no figure of Qi Yansheng.

Qi Yansheng’s residence was very simple. In the living room, there was only a wooden table and a few chairs. On the wooden table, there wasn’t even a cup of water or tea. There was a huge folding screen in the corner of the living room and bhind that screen was most likely Qi Yansheng’s bedroom.

Lin Rufei had rashly come in and he already felt somewhat improper. Seeing that Qi Yansheng really was not in, he intended to exit. But who knew that just as he turned around to leave, a small sound came from the bedroom. Lin Rufei frowned and called out, “Qi Yansheng?”

No one answered.

Lin Rufei hesitated for a moment, but he still took a step towards the bedroom. He went around the screen and saw the bedroom. However, what puzzled him was that the bedroom was empty, but the sound seemed to be close at hand. This Qi Yansheng’s bedroom was almost as simple as the living room. Except for the bed and table, there was only a small closet, and the sound seemed to be coming from inside the closet.

Following the sound, Lin Rufei walked towards the closet. He held the handle and just as he was about to pull it open, Qi Yansheng’s surprised voice rang out suddenly from behind him, “Lin gongzi, what are you doing?”

Lin Rufei’s hand trembled slightly. He turned his head and stared at Qi Yansheng, who had appeared behind him at some point. Being caught by the owner of the room, Lin Rufei suddenly felt very awkward. Fortunately, Qi Yansheng didn’t seem to mind, he just smiled and said he had left to take care of some business and asked Lin Rufei what was the matter. 

Lin Rufei said: “I heard some noise in the closet.”

Qi Yansheng wondered, “Noise?” He took a look at the closet and then said indifferently, “Probably a rat. The Meng family has a lot of plants and flowers, it’s normal to have rats.” 

Lin Rufei didn’t believe it and frowned at Qi Yansheng, “Qi gongzi, you are an honored guest of the Meng residence. It can be assumed that you will not do anything harmful to Meng gongzi, right?”

Qi Yansheng’s smile faded: “What does Lin gongzi mean by this?”

Lin Rufei said, “I was also present that night.”

Qi Yansheng pursed his lips.

Lin Rufei said, “I saw you and Xiao Yu setting up lanterns by the river.”

When Qi Yansheng heard this, he looked very calm, “I just got some freshly boiled tremella lotus seeds soup[1] from the kitchen, how about Lin gongzi you join me and we can have a nice chat?”

Lin Rufei looked at him, “Okay.”

The closet was still rattling, but the two of them tacitly didn’t mention it again. Walking to the living room, Qi Yansheng served two bowls of tremella. One bowl was handed to Lin Rufei, and then he drank the other one in front of him.

“It’s so late. There must be a reason for Lin gongzi to come visit me.” He swallowed his soup before he opened his mouth.

Lin Rufei was not in a hurry. He simply waited before saying: “The two lanterns you sent off, I have retrieved them.”

Qi Yansheng’s hands paused for a moment.

“Xiao Yu’s name is explainable.” Lin Rufei said, “But can you tell me why the name on the other lantern is Meng Lanruo?”

If it was just Xiao Yu, Qi Yansheng could say that it was to pay tribute to the dead Xiao Yu. However, Meng Lanruo was still alive and well, so who would write the name of a living person on a lantern that was only used by the dead? The strange occurrences in the residence must have something to do with Qi Yansheng.

Qi Yansheng, who was exposed, did not feel angry. Instead, he smiled and softly said: “Lin gongzi has a heart.”

Lin Rufei looked expressionlessly at Qi Yansheng.

Qi Yansheng took another sip of tremella and calmly said, “Lin gongzi, you know that in Jianghu, everyone has some secrets that cannot be known to others.”

Lin Rufei said coldly: “Everyone has secrets, but it’s not a reason to hurt others. The Meng family treats you well, why do you have to do such a heartbreaking thing.”

“Yes, the Meng family treats me well.” Qi Yansheng let out a long sigh, his tone was somewhat a bit vicissitude, “If not for their family treating me well, why would I have stayed in this Xinzhou City for a full ten years.”

Ten years? Qi Yansheng had been an honored guest of the Meng family for ten years. Lin Rufei frowned, feeling that things had become more complicated.

Qi Yansheng said: “Lin gongzi, I can only tell you that I have never thought about hurting Meng Lanruo. He is the child I watched grow up, and I couldn’t wait to spoil him, so how could I possibly do anything against him?” 

Lin Rufei probed, “Then how do you explain the lantern?”

Qi Yansheng showed a distressed look. He kept silent to himself for quite a while, seemingly considering on how to explain this to him. Lin Rufei was not in a hurry and sat next to him waiting quietly.

“Sorry, Lin gongzi, I’m afraid I can’t answer you.” Qi Yansheng finally opened his mouth.

Lin Rufei knew that there was no way he could get an answer from Qi Yansheng. He got up and was about to leave, but after walking to the door, he suddenly realized something. He turned his head and called out, “Qi Yansheng.”

Qi Yansheng hummed a low acknowledgment.

“Is your name really Qi Yansheng?” Lin Rufei said, “I have heard of the art of Loathing Victory[2], and when I first heard your name, I thought it was rare. Would there really be someone in the world with such an unlucky name?”

(t/n: for those who need a refresher; Yansheng means Loathing Victory/Hating Victory. To keep things clear, I will write loathing victory as to differentiate between the character and the art.)

The expression on Qi Yansheng’s face gradually disappeared and he looked at Lin Rufei in silence.

The art of Loathing Victory, also known as the art of Nightmare Town[3], referred to a variety of mediums used to curse others. This spell was very malicious and for those who had been cursed; if it was light, their family would be broken, if it was heavy, then the person would die. 

Name was the most important symbol of a person. Lin Rufei was from Kunlun and its jade was famous, so he was named Rufei.

But Qi Yansheng, would there really be elders who would give such an inauspicious name to the younger generations? 

If these things hadn’t happened to the Meng family, Lin Rufei might have felt that Qi Yansheng’s elders really were just being irresponsible. However, at this time, he felt that there was a hidden agenda.

Qi Yansheng was not as simple as he appeared to be and the same was applied to his name.

However, Qi Yansheng suddenly laughed loudly. His laughter was incomparable and he even bent his waist because he was laughing so hard. He slapped the table and said loudly: “Good question, good question! Lin gongzi, your question is really wonderful.” His voice trailed off before turning into a murmur, “If no one had asked me again, I’ll almost forget.”

Lin Rufei questioned, “Forget what?”

Qi Yansheng replied, “Forget my name.”

Lin Rufei revealed a look of understanding. It was indeed not Qi Yansheng’s real name.

Qi Yansheng sighed, “Lin gongzi, why do you need to leave in a hurry? The night is still young, we can take our time to talk.”

Lin Rufei then turned back and sat back down in front of Qi Yansheng. He(LRF) probably felt that the atmosphere was slightly stiff so after a moment of hesitation, he took out a jug of good wine from his dimensional ring and placed it on the table. 

Qi Yansheng smiled at the sight of the wine and unceremoniously poured it into a cup before downing it in one go, praising: “Good wine.”

Lin Rufei said, “The wine is naturally good wine.”

Qi Yansheng continued, “Good wine should also be accompanied by a good story.” He leaned back in his chair and made a lazy posture. The arrogance between his eyebrows had long disappeared and he became as steady and deep as an old man. “Does Lin gongzi know that in the south of Yunxiang, there is a place called Wuyu[4]?”

Lin Rufei said, “Yes.”

That place was famous for its witchcraft and once produced two ancient Great Witches. Now, although it was not as glorious as it once was, it was still a bad place to mess with. It was said that nine out of ten people casually found on the roadside were proficient in witchcraft and one of them was still a babbling brat.

“That’s my hometown.” Qi Yansheng said, “Within Wuyu, there is a family whose witchcraft is unparalleled and its children are all proficient in witchcraft. They were all powerful people. Lin gongzi, guess what was their family’s last name?”

Was there a need to guess? Naturally, they were surnamed Qi, Lin Rufei thought.

Qi Yansheng also did not wait for Lin Rufei to answer, he simply continued: “But the Qi family has a rule. As long as they leave Wuyu, they could not use their real name. For a witch, their real name was a very important thing. If it was known by outsiders, it would inevitably bring some trouble.”

Lin Rufei had already understood what Qi Yansheng meant. He was a witch from Wuyu and had changed his name to Yansheng.

It was just so blatant and the Meng family probably already knew the identity of Qi Yansheng.

As expected, Qi Yansheng continued, “Yes, the Meng family knows where I came from. In fact, I am the one they invited.”

Lin Rufei inquired, “Invited?”

Qi Yansheng continued indifferently, “Otherwise, why would Meng Lanruo always say that I am an honored guest of their family.”

Lin Rufei had vaguely guessed a few things, but the guess was so bizarre and absurd that one could not help but wonder if it was just his own delusion.

“The Meng family had a request for me.” Qi Yansheng said, “So I stayed here for ten years, removed my real name, and took on the name of Yansheng.” He drank another cup and smiled lightly, “It’s not bad in the Meng family. There are always interesting people who don’t bore me too much.”

Lin Rufei hesitated, “The Meng family’s request, is it related to the little gongzi?” 

Qi Yansheng raised his eyes and stared staright at Lin Rufei. His eyes bored into his for some time before he slowly said, “Lin gongzi, you should know that there are not many people who can be called friends by Meng Lanruo. You are just one.”

Lin Rufei said coldly, “If I wasn’t his friend, why would I sit here and talk nonsense with you for so long?”

Qi Yansheng felt that there was indeed some truth to his words so after hearing this, he nodded, “Indeed.” He raised his hand and drank another cup, “You guessed right. The reason I came to the Meng residence is definitely related to the young master of the Meng family. That time, he was still a child that hadn’t reached my waist yet……compared to now, he was just as cute.” His smile was like a kind old grandfather and it made Lin Rufei feel strange. 

“Did you spoil Meng Lanruo like a son?” Lin Rufei asked.

Qi Yansheng pondered: “Not so much as a son, but certainly, he deserved to be spoiled. After all, I watched him grow up……”

Lin Rufei said: “What’s the relationship between that lantern and the art of Loathing Victory?”

Qi Yansheng shook his head and said that it was just an ordinary lantern. He only sent it in mourning. Other than that, there was no other use for it.

It was really absurd, Meng Lanruo was obviously still alive, but he used the lantern to mourn. Lin Rufei’s fingers gently tapped against the table and he was silent for quite a while.

Qi Yansheng continued to ramble that the Meng residence had actually not welcomed new guests for a long time. The madam and master are cautious people and it wasn’t a place that a Tom, Dick, and Harry[5] could enter. And only Lin Rufei, such an aristocratic gongzi, could get close to Meng Lanruo. But although there are many aristocratic gongzis in the world, there are not many who can get close……

Lin Rufei: “Close?”

Qi Yansheng said, “You don’t have a trace of sword Qi on you, right?”

Lin Rufei said, “Mnn.”

Qi Yansheng said in a deep voice: “That’s why you can be Meng Lanruo’s friend.”

Lin Rufei pursed his lips: “Meng Lanruo……he……”

The words came to his lips, but he wasn’t able to say them. He clenched his teeth, lifted the cup of wine in front of him, and downed it. The wine was very strong and very soon a sweet red dusted his face. He strained his voice, and finally said the words: “Meng Lanruo, is already dead?”

Qi Yansheng was silent before giving an almost unnoticeable nod.

Lin Rufei felt a moment of weakness. Although Qi Yansheng said it euphemistically, according to his words and the events in the Meng residence, Lin Rufei still guessed his hidden meaning. Even though the truth was ridiculous to the extreme, if Qi Yansheng did not lie, there was only one answer left.

Meng Lanruo was dead. Because he died, the Meng family went to Wuyu to find Qi Yansheng and then invited him into the Meng family.

Lin Rufei had heard many stories of resurrection from the dead and knew that there must be some way to keep the dead, but all of these methods would require a huge price to pay. Teenage Meng Lanruo had already died, so who was the young master that was now spoiled in the Meng residence?

“He is also Meng Lanruo.” Qi Yansheng answered Lin Rufei’s confusion. “As long as he still has Meng Lanruo’s three souls and seven spirits[6], no matter what his body becomes, he is still Meng Lanruo.” The young master of the Meng family.

Lin Rufei found it a little difficult to understand.

Qi Yansheng noted, “There are some things that I am not at liberty to say, you guessed them all yourself.” He shrugged his shoulders and laughed, “Although it seems better for you not to know these things, in the end, Meng Lanruo treated you as a friend. Since you are a friend, you should be treated as such.” 

Lin Rufei then drank another cup while rearranging the information given to him by Qi Yansheng.

More than ten years ago, the Meng residence’s Meng Lanruo suddenly had an accident and he died an unnatural death. This caused the Meng family to then invite Qi Yansheng, who was originally from Wuyu. With the art of Loathing Victory, he retained the Meng family’s young son’s three souls and seven spirits and then sealed it in another body in order to maintain the life of Meng Lanruo.

It’s just that the body…… Lin Rufei thought and asked out.

Qi Yansheng laughed: “Lin gongzi doesn’t have to worry about this, that body is not a human body. It’s made with grass and wood composition, and then a spell was cast to trick the eye. However, the spell is quite powerful and only those with a cultivation of eight or above could see it.” He was once again helpless, “But this body is really easy to damage and can only be preserved with Qilin grass, so the whole Meng residence……no, the whole Xinzhou City has Qilin grass everywhere.”

Lin Rufei observed, “So that’s how it is.”

“But that kid is very naughty, he doesn’t want to stay in Xinzhou City obediently.” When Qi Yansheng started talking about Meng Lanruo, his tone carried some helpless doting, “He repeatedly tried to run away. It was a good thing he was caught and brought back, otherwise, he would have made a big mistake.”

Lin Rufei remembered Meng Lanruo’s dream of fighting with a sword in the sky and it seemed that it would never come true. However, he was relieved to know that Qi Yansheng did not do anything against Meng Lanruo, otherwise, he would really like to pull out Gu Yu and take a swing at this Qi Yansheng.

Some people were born with a pure and innocent heart. Their behavior and speech end up becoming very likable and Meng Lanruo, was such a person.

Although Lin Rufei had not been with him for long, he indeed treated him as a friend. Otherwise, he could have just left and ignored everything that might have happen in the Meng residence. 

“What about Xiao Yu? What was her situation?” Lin Rufei thought of this and continued to pester, “Xiao Yu’s death has something to do with you, right?”

Who knew that when Qi Yansheng heard the name Xiao Yu, his face showed a little discomfort: “She……this……”

Lin Rufei questioned, “What?”

Even the secret that Meng Lanruo was a dead person was revealed. When this Qi Yansheng started talking about Xiao Yu, he started stammering, and for a long time, he didn’t utter a single word.

Lin Rufei was impatient, so he simply guessed: “Is it because Meng Lanruo has fallen in love with Xiao Yu and said he wants to take her out of Xinzhou City? To fight with swords in a far-away place?”

Qi Yansheng nodded his head.

“And you killed Xiao Yu because of that?” Lin Rufei frowned, “Let’s not mention that she is the woman Meng Lanruo loves, even if she wasn’t, it was still a human life. You took a human life without a good cause……”

Qi Yansheng responded: “I couldn’t help it. You don’t know that when the Meng family’s little gongzi went to find Xiao Yu, he already had the money prepared. He also had a talisman that was stolen from somewhere, if this talisman was activated, they would be immediately sent away. The location is undetermined and if he really succeeded, no one can save him!”  

Lin Rufei questioned: “How can there be such a talisman?”

“Indeed.” Qi Yansheng said bitterly, “Otherwise I wouldn’t have come up with this!”

It was a stupid method to take Xiao Yu’s life and he didn’t know how to comfort Meng Lanruo, who was now currently in grief. But if this stupid method was not used, he was afraid that Meng Lanruo’s three souls and seven spirits would have been scattered and long gone.

“Alas, it’s a pity for Xiao Yu that girl, she was just a poor person.” Lin Rufei remembered what Meng Lanruo had said to him. Most likely, before Xiao Yu came here, she also suffered a lot of hardships. Originally, she and Meng Lanruo loved each other and the coming days should have improved, however, such an accident occurred.  

Qi Yansheng saw Lin Rufei’s pitying face, and several times he wanted to say something but ended up stopping himself.

Lin Rufei only took his expression as shame and did not think much of it. He only reminded Qi Yansheng to find a good tomb for Miss Xiao Yu and to bury her generously.

Who knew that when Qi Yansheng heard this, his expression grew awkward. When Lin Rufei asked, he learned that this man had gone too far. He had burned Miss Xiao Yu’s body in a fire after salvaging them.

“You went too far. Although Xiao Yu was a woman in a flower house, she didn’t do anything wrong to Meng Lanruo. You had no choice but to take a person’s life, okay I can understand, but how come you didn’t even leave a corpse?” Lin Rufei frowned. He looked at Qi Yansheng, only to feel that all the good impressions he had of him just now were gone.

Qi Yansheng, who was blamed by Lin Rufei, had an expression that showed that he had nothing to say. He just kept on drinking and he didn’t know if he it was because he had drank too much, but that high and proud handsome face of his soon became red. 

Seeing that Lin Rufei still wanted to reprimand, Qi Yansheng hurriedly begged for mercy: “Lin gongzi, Lin gongzi, please be merciful, please be merciful! I know I’m wrong. I already chose a tombstone for her after burning and buried her!”  

Lin Rufei frowned at him.

“This is something I didn’t do properly. This is my fault! Consider me confused!” Qi Yansheng raised his cup and poured the last bit of the wine into his mouth and then laughed bitterly, “People are not sages, who can be without fault.”

Since the words have come to this, Lin Rufei also couldn’t say anything else. Just pity that Xiao Yu, who had no relatives and no friends, had simply died like this in a foreign country……As he was thinking over this matter, Lin Rufei heard a low chucked from beside him. He turned his head and noticed Gu Xuandu leaning on the edge of the bed, covering his mouth and laughing all over.

Lin Rufei cast a puzzled glance towards him.

Gu Xuandu laughed: “Why did Xiao Jiu suddenly become stupid?”

Lin Rufei: “Huh?”

Gu Xuandu said, “If he can create a Meng Lanruo, why don’t you take a guess and see if he can create an oiran?”

Lin Rufei: “……”

“It’s a pity that this oiran doesn’t have her three souls and seven spirits and she still has to be manipulated by this Qi gongzi.” Gu Xuandu finally could not hold back anymore and laughed loudly, “I would really like to see this Qi gongzi’s heroic sword dance.”

Then, the still drinking Qi Yansheng saw that Lin Rufei, who was opposite him, had slowly hung his head. His expression was bizarre to the extreme. And no matter how one looked, it looked like he was holding in laughter……. 

Qi Yansheng: “……” He knew.

(t/n: Oh. What a plot twist LOL. Bet none of you guys expected that)

********

The author has something to say:  

Lin Rufei: No wonder Xiao Yu’s sword dance is so beautiful….

Gu Xuandu: Beautiful?

Lin Rufei: Yes. It’s the most beautiful that I have seen.

Gu Xuandu expressionlessly unsheathed his sword.

Lin Rufei: What are you doing?

Gu Xuandu: First hack Xiao Yu to death, and then dance again for you.

Lin Rufei: ………………….

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

[1] One of my favorite sweet desserts πŸ˜€ (just minus the dates, not a big fan of them uwu) 

[2] An ancient form of sorcery. It is said to be able to subdue a person or object with a curse. The word “loathing” is used as “pressure”, which means to overturn, fit, inhibit, or block. “It is a long-standing practice of sorcery,” and has been used to harm people in both the court and the people. 

[3] It means to do something unlucky when others are praying for blessings. 

[4] Wu meaning “witch”, and Yu meaning “remainder.” 

[5] What’s written here is “ι˜ΏηŒ«ι˜Ώη‹—” basically meaning like the people with very common/basic names; John, Tom, Jane etc. 

[6] three immortal souls and seven mortal forms in Daoism, contrasting the spiritual and carnal side of man. 

Chapter 34: I am Your Father

Lin Rufei laughed for quite a while, and when he saw the annoyance on Qi Yansheng’s face, he suppressed the smile on his lips and coughed dryly, pretending that nothing had happened, “How did you think of doing such a thing?”

Qi Yansheng huffed in response: “It’s because of that kid Meng Lanruo—but he doesn’t know the art of Loathing Victory so I hope Lin gongzi will keep it a secret.”

Lin Rufei nodded: “Naturally.”

The two of them talked all night and unknowingly, the morning light had already appeared outside the window. Lin Rufei was slightly sleepy after drinking wine, so he said goodbye to Qi Yansheng and went back to his room to rest.

He went back to catch up on his morning sleep, and it wasn’t until noon that Fu Hua called him up for lunch. Lin Rufei rubbed his head, which still ached from the hangover, “How is Meng Lanruo now?”

Fu Hua replied, “Just now I asked the servants of the Meng residence, they said that Meng gongzi is still in the room and refuses to come out. However, he is willing to eat and he even slept last night.”

If he was willing to eat and sleep, then he should be fine. Lin Rufei felt a little more at ease. After he had eaten, he went to the room where Meng Lanruo was resting and saw the Meng family’s youngest son lying on the bed. He was sprawled out and his face showed an expression of giving up[1]. However, the candied plums beside him spoiled the atmosphere, especially when he grabbed one from time to time and stuffed it into his mouth with a puff of anger.

Seeing Lin Rufei come in, Meng Lanruo grunted and squirmed his body, like a worm twisting its head over. His voice dragged out as he called: “Lin……….gong………zi…….”  

Lin Rufei said: “What?”

Meng Lanruo stuck out his lips and said: “Eat plums……”

Lin Rufei laughed: “Have you eaten properly? If you eat so many plums, be careful of stomach pain.”

Meng Lanruo muttered, “I ate earlier. My sister threatened me that if I don’t eat again, she’ll force-feed me, she really will do it.”

Lin Rufei laughed lightly.

Meng Lanruo sat up slowly and said, “Lin gongzi, are you leaving?”

Lin Rufei nodded. He had actually planned to leave a long time ago and if not for Meng Lanruo’s sudden accident, he would have left the Meng residence by now. Now that he knew that Qi Yansheng had no malice towards Meng Lanruo, there was no point for him to stay here. Moreover, this was considered a private matter of the Meng family. He was an outsider and if he was involved too much, it wouldn’t be too good.

Meng Lanruo was listless and said, “Alas, I really don’t want you to leave. Xiao Yu is gone and you are also leaving, I am returning to my old life again……”

Lin Rufei asked: “Old life?”

Meng Lanruo said, “Yes.” He said that before Xiao Yu came, his life was a puddle of stagnant water, very boring and his biggest joy was to sneak out of Xinzhou City behind his family’s back. But unfortunately, he never succeeded. Later, he had a knot in his heart[2] and was very sick because of it. Before he fully recovered, he met Xiao Yu, who just arrived in Xinzhou, in the flower house, and from then on he fell in love with her at first sight and second sight[3].

The more Lin Rufei listened, the stranger his expression became. Luckily, Meng Lanruo was still engrossed in his story and did not notice Lin Rufei’s strange expression.

“I’ve never seen a woman so agreeable like Xiao Yu.” Meng Lanruo recalled his sweet memories, “A gentle character. She listened to all my small talk and wasn’t impatient. She was beautiful……….the girls I met before all needed to be coaxed and spoiled, but Xiao Yu is so different!” 

Lin Rufei thought, of course she was different. The other party was spoiling you like a son, how could they be impatient?

Who knew that when Meng Lanruo finished, he was provoked into sadness once again. He whimpered and cried as he wiped his tears sadly: “But how can she……how can……In her case, rather than being with me, was it better to just die? “

This matter should have been very tragic, but Lin Rufei, who knew the truth, found it quite difficult to empathize with Meng Lanruo. After listening, he could only say: “Maybe she has other difficulties?”

“What difficulties?” Meng Lanruo’s eyes were tearful.

Lin Rufei: “Such as……” He pondered over the words for half a day before finally squeezing out a sentence with difficulty, “Such as she simply didn’t want to live anymore?” 

Meng Lanruo wailed.

Lin Rufei was at a loss for words as he cried and tried his best to comfort him. Meng Lanruo cried for a long while before he finally stopped, however, he was still sobbing and choking. He was aggrieved, like a poor little kid who had been bullied.

Lin Rufei was helpless and could only hand him a handkerchief. In his heart, he told himself that he should never mention the name Xiao Yu in front of Meng Lanruo again. 

But although Meng Lanruo was sad, in the end, he was in a much better state compared to the past few days. Lin Rufei guessed that in a few days he should be able to come out of his grief from Xiao Yu’s death.

The matter was almost finished, so Lin Rufei planned to say goodbye to the Meng residence.

The Meng residence hosted a farewell banquet for him and wished him a safe trip.

It was the last night that he would be spending at the Meng residence, Lin Rufei was lying in bed but he couldn’t sleep no matter how much he tossed and turned. When Gu Xuandu saw his appearance, he asked, “What? Can’t sleep?”

Lin Rufei revealed half of his face and looked at Gu Xuandu with a gleaming gaze.

Gu Xuandu actually tacitly understood: “Qi Yansheng is accompanying Meng Lanruo at this moment and is not in his room.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Would it be inappropriate?”

Gu Xuandu calmly said, “It’s definitely not appropriate if you’re found out, but if you’re not seen, then it’s appropriate.”

Lin Rufei immediately sat up from the bed. He didn’t even bother with an outerwear as he hurriedly put on his shoes and went out. When Gu Xuandu saw this, he thought that this scene was really quite funny. He casually took Lin Rufei’s outerwear, followed him out, and draped it over his shoulders.

When he arrived at Qi Yansheng’s residence, Gu Xuandu easily helped Lin Rufei unlock the door. Lin Rufei walked through and entered into the bedroom.

Qi Yansheng really wasn’t at home and the closet was still making slight noises like yesterday. There seemed to be something alive inside.

Lin Rufei went towards the closet. He hesitated for a moment and then raised his hand to push. The closet door opened with a sound and it revealed a black wooden door that was not actually padlocked. Just as Lin Rufei was about to reach out and pull the door open, he was stopped by Gu Xuandu.

“I’ll do it, the door is attached with an art of Loathing Victory, it’s not good for ordinary people to touch it.” Gu Xuandu said and held the handle. When he placed his hand on it, a wisp of black smoke came out from the handle and then quickly dissipated into the air.

Behind the wooden door was a dark passage. Lin Rufei saw these circumstances and stepped into it.

The passage was very long and winding and a dull light was emitted at the very end. Lin Rufei slowly stepped forward but was reminded several times by Gu Xuandu that there were many troublesome traps buried in the passage. Although it would not kill people, it would at least make them lose consciousness.

Finally, Lin Rufei reached the end of the passage. Borrowing the dim light, he took in the scene at the end of the tunnel. There was a wide stone house with many tall cabinets as well as some strange-looking things. At a glance, it was clear that this should be the place where Qi Yansheng casts the art of Loathing Victory. Lin Rufei’s eyes were soon attracted by the objects in the corner, where a row of neatly arranged dolls were placed. The dolls were all carved out of wood and were neatly arranged from small to large.

And the most amazing thing was that these dolls looked very similar to Meng Lanruo, almost like they were carved out of a mold.

And the sound he had heard from outside became more and more clear. It came from a cabinet on the side. When he got closer to the cabinet, the sound also grew louder. It sounded like drums, mellow but very rhythmic. That cabinet was very large and was painted with vermilion outer lacquer. Gu Xuandu cast a glance towards Lin Rufei, and Lin Rufei nodded at him.

“I opened it.” Gu Xuandu raised his hand and pulled on the door.

The cabinet door was pulled open and when Lin Rufei noticed what was inside, he revealed a stunned expression. It was actually a doll that looked exactly like Meng Lanruo, but the appearance was much more mature than Meng Lanruo. The cheeks had completely lost the youthfulness of a teenager and his lines were more clean and sharp. This person was not actually carved out of wood since its skin had a human touch to it. And the most striking thing, was definitely his chest.

The doll’s chest was opened, revealing an empty lung and a heart set in the very center—a beating blood-red heart. The heart looked bloody at first with its hideous flesh. However, upon a closer inspection, he found out that it was actually stone in texture.  

People would grow up, but wood couldn’t. The dead Meng Lanruo, however, managed to grow from a tender toddler to a teenager and as his years continued to pass, he also needed a more mature body.

Everything dawned upon Lin Rufei at that moment. He clearly noticed that the stone, which had been turned into a heart, on Meng Lanruo’s chest cavity was engraved with a clear “Yu.”

Qi Yansheng……Xiao Yu……Qi Yu.

It was a good name, Lin Rufei smiled.

The suspicion that had been hanging around in his heart was finally answered. Lin Rufei closed the cabinet door and turned to leave, “This Qi Yansheng is really interesting.”

Gu Xuandu wondered, “Interesting?”

Lin Rufei said, “People who have a lot of secrets and are well-informed are always interesting.”

Gu Xuandu asked, “You felt that?”

Lin Rufei turned his head to look at him and laughed: “So what if I felt it? A fishing pole that doesn’t even have bait, why should I bite it?”

Gu Xuandu laughed out loud.

But there was a saying that Qi Yansheng had said which he believed had a point. Everyone had some secrets, and these secrets, as long as they do not hurt others, are kept. In turn, it would make the person holding said secret become more interesting.

No one would dislike an interesting person, Lin Rufei was the same.

Qi Yansheng, who was chatting with Meng Lanruo, felt something in his heart and thought to himself that the young master of the Lin family really refuses to rest if he didn’t reach the end. 

No wonder. All the things he said were just his side of the story, it was normal for Lin Rufei to not be at ease.

“Quickly, quickly, quickly. It’s your turn, your turn.” Meng Lanruo urged, “What are you thinking about?”  

Qi Yansheng dropped his pieces and said unhappily, “How can I be so interested in playing a game of Gomoku[4]?”

Meng Lanruo slapped the table, “I don’t know how to play Go!”

Qi Yansheng said, “I can teach you.”

Meng Lanruo sneered, “I can’t even win at Gomoku, so what’s the use of teaching me Go? Don’t think I don’t know that you want to use Go to humiliate me!!”

Qi Yansheng covered his face and let out a long, heavy sigh. He thought in his heart that the young master of the Meng family obviously had all his three souls and seven spirits, but why did he seem to be missing a conscience?

On the third day, Lin Rufei got on the carriage and intended to leave.

But what was strange to him was that he didn’t see Meng Lanruo’s figure even when he left the Meng residence. He thought that Meng Lanruo would cry again because he was leaving. But who knew that Zhu Yin said with difficulty that Meng Lanruo would not come out to see him off because he was afraid of crying again when he met with him. He wanted Lin Rufei to take care of himself and if he had time, to send him letters. 

Although Lin Rufei found it strange, he simply thought that it was because Meng Lanruo would be sad for a long period of time and lose sleep if he saw him, so he didn’t think too much of it and turned around to get on the carriage. 

Fu Hua cracked the whip and the carriage drove out of the Meng residence, heading towards the outskirts of Xinzhou City. 

However, just as they were about to leave the city, Gu Xuandu, who had been missing out in action, suddenly appeared out of nowhere, “Don’t rush the carriage out yet.”

Lin Rufei: “Hmm?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Wait at the entrance of the city.”

Just as Lin Rufei was about to ask why they were waiting at the entrance when he heard the anxious voice of Qi Yansheng resounding outside the carriage. It came from far to near: “Lin gongzi——wait a minute——”  

Lin Rufei lifted the curtain of the carriage and saw Qi Yansheng arriving on his sword with a face so pale as if he was in great shock.

Lin Rufei uttered, “Qi gongzi?”

Qi Yansheng stopped in front of the carriage, held his sword in one hand, and roared, “Come out!”

Lin Rufei looked surprised at this and wondered in his heart what kind of wrong medicine Qi Yansheng had taken to treat him like this. However, he then he saw a person covered in dirt dawdling out from under the carriage. It was Meng Lanruo, who was supposed to be obediently staying in the Meng residence.

Meng Lanruo had tied up his hair and also changed into a casual outfit. He was carrying a not-so-small backpack and called out with sarcasm, “Shengsheng, why are you here?”

Hearing him call out “Shengsheng,” the crowd’s expression was subtle. Yu Rui was young so she couldn’t hold back and laughed out loud.

“Where are you going?” Qi Yansheng directly pretended that he didn’t hear that nickname as he sneered.

Meng Lanruo whispered: “Aren’t you guys just worried that I will easily get in trouble by myself in Jianghu? If I follow Lin gongzi then I will be safe and you guys won’t have to worry anymore. Lin gongzi and I are good brothers[5], he certainly won’t mind me, this dragging oil bottle[6].“

Lin Rufei: “……” This kid.

Qi Yansheng said angrily: “Say that to your mother.”

Meng Lanruo reflexively covered his ears and cried out: “Qi Yansheng, do you still have a conscience? We have been friends for so many years, can’t you fulfill my small wish? I made a pact with Xiao Yu to visit Jianghu, and now that Xiao Yu is gone, I just want to fulfill her last wish and go out of Xinzhou City to see her hometown. She has been away from home for so many years and suffered so much, leaving Xinzhou City was her only wish before she died!”

These words were touching and heartfelt that Fu Hua and Yu Rui even had tears in the corner of their eyes. 

However, Qi Yansheng’s expression twisted slightly and said coldly, “Bullsh*t[7].” What Xiao Yu said before she died, how could he not know? This kid just says whatever he wanted to, three days without beating and he would scale the roof to rip the tiles!  

Meng Lanruo muttered out weakly: “How can you say dirty words[8]?”

Qi Yansheng: “I said you’re bullshi**ng!”

Meng Lanruo immediately cried out.

When Qi Yansheng saw him crying, he didn’t feel the slightest bit soft-hearted. He raised his hand and grabbed his ear just like Madam Meng did. Meng Lanruo forgot to cry when he felt the pain and said quickly, “How can you grab my ear? Only my parents can grab my ears!” 

Qi Yansheng gritted his teeth: “I am your new parent[9]!”

Meng Lanruo: “Wow, you bastard. Even at this time you still decide to take advantage of me!” 

This parting scene, which should have been somewhat sad, turned into comedy because of Meng Lanruo. In the end, Meng Lanruo, who was grimacing and screaming, was dragged back home by Qi Yansheng. Before he was dragged back, he begged Lin Rufei to help him. However, Lin Rufei didn’t say anything. He just smiled and waved his hand at him, signaling to him to have a good trip.

Qi Yansheng also nodded at Lin Rufei. If Lin Rufei’s carriage hadn’t been delayed at the city gate, Meng Lanruo would really have been taken out.

The carriage set off again, and Lin Rufei finally left Xinzhou City.

Next, he planned to follow the Canglan River all the way down, cross the Xiliang Mountains, to see the unseen prosperity of the Central Plains.

After a few days of travel, Lin Rufei received a letter from Meng Lanruo. The letter was just like him, as it rambled on and on and was full of trivial matters. He also seemed to have realize that he had no focus so he also drew horizontal lines with a vermilion pen, indicating that this part was particularly important. As for what the important thing was, Lin Rufei laughed out loud after reading it.

The day when he had failed to escape, Qi Yansheng dragged Meng Lanruo all the way back to the Meng residence by his ear. Afterward, he immediately went to his mother to complain about Qi Yansheng’s spitefulness, saying that Qi Yansheng had grabbed his ear despite obviously not being an elder. How could he bully him like this??  

After hearing this, mother Meng thought it was quite very reasonable and said she wanted to talk to Qi Yansheng alone.

Meng Lanruo felt that his mother was trying to get him back in the game[10], so he went out in a high-spirited manner. But who knew that half an hour later, Meng Lanruo was called back by a kind-faced mother Meng.

“Qi gongzi has been in our family for almost ten years, right?” Mother Meng said, “You have a point, Lanruo. He is indeed disciplining you like your elders.”

Meng Lanruo listened happily. He expected that mother Meng’s next comment would be to criticize Qi Yansheng for being too impetuous, however, she said gently, “In that case, why don’t you just adopt him as your foster father?”

Meng Lanruo’s bright smile froze on his face.

Qi Yansheng was sitting on the side and quietly drinking tea. After hearing this, he showed a kind smile to Meng Lanruo like mother Meng’s.

“What???? What???? Mother, are you serious?” Meng Lanruo thought he had heard wrong. He pointed incredulously at Qi Yansheng, and then incredulously pointed at himself, “Him? My foster father?”

Mother Meng nodded her head.

Meng Lanruo’s wide eyes were about to pop out of its socket. He wanted to grab his mother’s shoulder and give them a heavy shake—to shake out the water that had entered his mother’s brain. But Meng Lanruo soon realized that he was the only one in the Meng residence who was still sober in the head. Everyone, after knowing mother Meng’s proposal, expressed their approval.

“Although Qi gongzi was born youthful, he is actually older than father. There is nothing wrong with him being your foster father.” Meng Youyue smiled and advised her brother, who was on the verge of collapse, “Didn’t you always feel that it was not right for him to discipline you, but now it’s fine. He is your foster father and it will be normal for him to discipline you.” 

Meng Lanruo moved a stone and smashed it on his own feet. Not only did he smash it, but he also wanted to break his own feet with it. He wailed in the residence for half a day in protest but no one paid any special attention to him. Only Qi Yansheng came to give him a cup of tea in a Schadenfreude manner.  

Meng Lanruo demanded, “What kind of bewitching spell did you cast on my mother and others?!”

Qi Yansheng: “Isn’t it all because you begged for it?”

Meng Lanruo was so angry that he almost fainted on the spot.

Meng Lanruo still wanted to struggle, but the ending had already been decided. The Meng residence even invited a lot of guests for this and the crowd did not seemed to mind his opposition, even if he deliberately claimed to be sick and did not come out, they also expressed great understanding.

“After all, his beloved had just passed away. It’s normal to be sad.”

“Yes. Thank goodness Qi gongzi was there to comfort the young master of the Meng family.” 

“But how old is this Qi gongzi?”

“I don’t know. It is said that he is older than the Meng family head. Even after ten years, his appearance hasn’t changed, he must have long passed the fifth level of cultivation……and it’s also considered to be a young man’s success!”

“Then it’s worth recognizing this foster father.” 

Meng Lanruo was in complete despair. He nestled in his room and scolded the bastard, Qi Yansheng, the entire night in grievance. He also rambled his longing for Xiao Yu and only when morning arrived did he fall asleep in a daze. So in the end, he didn’t know that Qi Yansheng came to his room early in the morning.

Qi Yansheng looked at Meng Lanruo’s sleeping face and chuckled. Raising his hand, he pulled the blanket upwards and covered Meng Lanruo’s body

The young master always disliked Xinzhou because it was boring. So he(QYS) would always find ways to give him(MLR) some fun. Whether it was Xiao Yu or the flower house, as long as he could keep him in this room, he would do it. Lin Rufei was also a good companion, if possible, he would have liked to keep him. And when Meng Lanruo was tired of him, it wouldn’t be too late to let him go. 

But unfortunately, Lin Rufei’s identity was not simple. He wasn’t like the rumors; a frail and sickly gongzi of the Lin family. Lin Rufei’s body hid secrets that even he couldn’t understand. So in the end, Qi Yansheng didn’t dare make his move.

Meng Lanruo was his most perfect work, so he naturally wanted to give him the best of everything.

Besides leaving, as long as it was something Meng Lanruo wanted, he would do his best to help him get it. Meng Lanruo had read the fairy tale and rambled on about the oiran and scholar in the book. And then in the flower house, a girl named Xiao Yu suddenly appeared. Sadly, he wasn’t able to give him a complete Jianghu in the end.

For some people, where there were people then that was Jianghu. But in the eyes of the Meng family’s young master, only the place far away from Xinzhou City, was Jianghu.

Life as a human being, eight or nine events out of ten wouldn’t be exactly the way you wanted it to be.

Qi Yansheng gazed at the sleeping Meng Lanruo. He revealed a smile, then got up, and slowly walked out.

Outside the house, the sun was just right. The sudden rain cleared up and Spring was already fading. The scent of Summer was getting stronger and after two more seasons, it would be another cycle of the four seasons. The little boy inside the room would also have reached the age of adulthood and it would be time for him to grow up. 

After Lin Rufei finished reading the letter given to him by Meng Lanruo, he folded it up carefully and placed it in his pouch. However, when his hand reached into the pouch, a trace of hesitation appeared on his face. He then opened the pouch and observed at it carefully, “Something seems to be missing?”

“What’s missing?” Fu Hua asked.

“I don’t know.” Lin Rufei tried to remember for a while, but couldn’t think of what was missing. He only felt that the pouch seemed loose but none of his silver money seemed to be missing. 

The pouch was filled with mortal things and Lin Rufei didn’t carry it with him all the time. Most of the time it was left in the room and only occasionally, when he went out shopping and needed some mortal things, would he use it. 

Fu Hua and Yu Rui naturally didn’t know what was missing from Lin Rufei’s pouch and Lin Rufei also couldn’t remember, but Gu Xuandu knew exactly what was missing. He slowly uttered, “There is a stealth talisman missing.”

Lin Rufei: “Hmm?”

Gu Xuandu: “The one you bought at the market on the Kunlun Mountains for half a spirit stone.”

Lin Rufei: “……” He remembered!

Gu Xuandu said, “It seems to have been found by the Meng family’s young master.”

Lin Rufei didn’t expect things to be so coincidental and sighed: “Then does it count that I indirectly killed Xiao Yu?”

Gu Xuandu said, “If she’s dead, then she’s dead. If Qi Yansheng can create a Xiao Yu, maybe he’ll create a Xiao Qi in a few days.”

Lin Rufei murmured, “Xiao Qi is too obvious of a name.”

Gu Xuandu: “Then what should it be called?”

Lin Rufei; “I think Xiao Wen is good.”

One year later, inside the Meng residence.

Meng Lanruo, who had been wilting for a long time because of Xiao Yu’s death and the recognition of a “thief” as his father[11], rushed in from outside the house and energetically towards his mother, “Mother! I saw a beautiful, heroic woman outside!”

Qi Yansheng sat next to mother Meng while drinking tea. When he heard those words, he revealed an affectionate smile.

Meng Lanruo said: “Everything is good, but the name is a bit awful. I think she’s called Xiao Wen.” 

Qi Yansheng’s smile was slightly restrained.

Meng Lanruo: “It’s even worse than Qi Yansheng.”

Qi Yansheng: “……” Meng Lanruo, just you wait.

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: This is kind of interesting. 

Lin Rufei: Interesting?

Gu Xuandu: I think you should change the way you refer to me. Let our relationship be even closer compared to Meng Lanruo’s. 

Lin Rufei pondered for a long time and said tentatively: Grand…….Grandson? 

Gu Xuandu: ……. (Are you sure your definition of “close” is the right one? ? ?)

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

[1] Internet slang; “life has no more meaning” 
[2] an issue that weighs heavily on one’s mind. 
[3] δΈ€θ§ι’Ÿζƒ…: Love at first sight; δΊŒθ§ε€ΎεΏƒ: my hearts is yours at second sight (basically love at 2nd sight so I just simplified it) 
[4] Gomoku; basically a game of 5 in a row. It is played on a Go board with Go pieces but it isn’t Go. 
[5] Not blood related, it’s like saying “Hey, you’re my good bro”  
[6] Means a widow (cause y’know, he and Xiao Yu were supposed to get married) 
[7] The actual word here was “You’re farting!” But that isn’t a curse word here and BS basically has the same meaning XD 
[8] Curse words. 
[9] ε†η”ŸηˆΆζ―: like a second parent; one’s great benefactor. I decided to put “new” parents to make it easier.  
[10] Get back at him. 
[11] sell oneself to the enemy; a complete betrayal. 

Chapter 35: Mo Zhaocai

Once they left Xinzhou City, they followed the Canglan River all the way towards the continuous Xiliang Mountains. However, because of its geographical location, it was not as deserted as Kunlun. Instead, the closer it was to the Xiliang Mountains, the more lively and prosperous it was. Stores and tourists of all kinds were everywhere. Where there were more people, the things they sell were bound to be more plentiful. Lin Rufei saw many stores selling immortal supplies and most of the things inside were extraordinary and traded with spirit stones.

Lin Rufei found a few and went in to check it out. He bought some interesting gadgets, such as hairpins that change color when inserted in the hair and small mirrors that remember the appearance of people when they are reflected. He bought a bunch of useful and useless ones as gifts for the two young maids to play with. However, the two maids disliked them. Even Yu Rui puffed out her chest and said, “Gongzi, you are too childish. I am already fourteen this year, how can I still play with these things!”

Lin Rufei’s eyes were full of innocence: “Isn’t it quite interesting?”

Yu Rui asked: “How is it interesting? These things are used to amuse children!”

Lin Rufei looked at the things in his hand and didn’t say anything for a long time. He finally silently put them all into his dimensional ring and sat in the corner with a melancholy look.

When Fu Hua saw the situation, she knocked Yu Rui on the head: “How can you talk like that to gongzi? Gongzi, gongzi, I like all those things, you can give them to me!”

Lin Rufei sighed, “Forget it, your tone is too much like coaxing a child. I’ll just keep it for myself.” After saying that, he muttered twice to himself, “I don’t want to give them to you guys.”

Gu Xuandu was laughing on the side, rejoicing in other people’s misfortune. 

After arriving at the inn, the group finally checked in and they inquired with the innkeeper about the news of the Xiliang Mountains. Who knew that when the innkeeper heard that they were going to the Xiliang Mountains, he frowned and said, “Does gongzi want to go to the Central Plains through the Xiliang Mountains?”

Lin Rufei nodded his head.

The innkeeper said, “Then you have to pay more attention. It is best to go with a large merchant caravan, if there is no merchant caravan, at least a few reliable bodyguards. It’s not just fierce beasts that occupy the Xiliang Mountains, there are also powerful bandits. If you encounter them, you will certainly die.” He took a worried look at Lin Rufei’s pale face and fragile body and then a look at the two half-grown girls. He sighed like an old man, “If you really want to go, you must be careful, those bastards don’t follow the idea of being kind to women.”

Lin Rufei accepted the innkeeper’s good intentions and said he would think about it.

The Xiliang Mountains were continuous like a chain. Except for one main road, almost all of them were dense forests where people were rarely seen. Even if one traveled by sword, it would still take about ten days to half a month to leave the mountains. If one took the horse, then it would take even longer. Luckily, Xinzhou City’s business was prosperous and many places have large merchant caravans. Casual travelers just needed to pay more silver and then they could follow them. Of course, not all casual travelers could enter the caravan, the caravans would also do a careful selection. After all, in case they invited someone with bad intentions, then the whole caravan would have to suffer.  

Fu Hua volunteered to ask if there were any merchants crossing the mountains, and if not, to hire two bodyguards who knew the way. Although she and Yu Rui looked dainty, they were still exiled immortals on the fifth level of cultivation. Ordinary bandits in front of them couldn’t even be considered a meal[1]. 

Fu Hua went to find people and Lin Rufei was bored alone so he decided to take a walk around the inn.  

The area around the inn was very lively and there were vendors yelling everywhere. Lin Rufei went to buy a candied hawthorn and ate while watching the livelihood. He had always liked places with a strong Jianghu atmosphere as well as Kunlun. However, because of his special status, people would look at him differently wherever he went so he preferred to stay on the mountain. 

As he was eating the delicious candied hawthorn, Lin Rufei heard a yell at the corner of the street. He went over and happened upon a skinny teenager selling shields.

“The shields I sell are not the same as ordinary shields. Even the world’s sharpest sword can’t piece it!” The young man was born with pretty good looks. His eyebrows were clear and handsome, but he was wearing a short shirt that didn’t quite fit him and he looked quite wretched. He was standing on the side of the road, holding a gray wooden shield in his hand, yelling loudly, “If you don’t believe me, you can come and try. However, if the sword breaks, I’m not compensating!”

A meddlesome[2] spectator heard this and immediately came out of the crowd. He arrived in front of the young man and pulled out the sword on his waist. He laughed, “It’s just a small wooden shield, how powerful can it be? Nowadays, people love to exaggerate without fear of blowing up their cowhide[3]!”

The crowd laughed loudly at his words.

The young man was not annoyed. He raised his hand with the wooden shield and laughed: “Do you want to try? First of all, if the sword is broken……”

Before he finished speaking, the spectator said impatiently: “I know, I know. Children nowadays don’t know how high the sky is. I want to see today, exactly how powerful this wooden shield without the slightest spiritual energy can be.” 

With that, he raised his sword in his hand and thrust it at the wooden shield.

The sword and wooden shield met and a “clack” was heard. Before the crowd could react, they saw the sharp-looking sword blade shattered to the ground and there was no trace of a mark on the wooden shield.

“How could this be?” The man was dumbfounded, “This……this……” His next move was to go forward to pick up the teenager’s collar, but it was expected by the teenager and he flexibly dodged before laughing, “Hey, this big brother, I have already warned you early on, you can’t blame me for this matter, ah——”

“You, you! This is my ancestral sword! How dare you break it like this!” The man was furious, “Of course you have to compensate me!”

The young man replied innocently, “But it’s obvious that you were the one that came forward and broke the sword yourself, how can you blame me?”

There were also people in the crowd who fought for justice and they started talking, saying that this person was too unreasonable. The teenager already gave a reminder in the beginning and he still went forward without care. Look what happened, his sword shattered and it was also well-deserved.

When the man heard the words of the crowd, he flew into a rage out of humiliation: “Who, who the f**k is talking, come out! I think you are all with him, together you guys have set me up!”

The crowd wasn’t afraid of him, so they burst out in laughter. All kinds of mockery flew out incessantly and when the man noticed that the situation wasn’t heading in his favor, he finally clenched his teeth and turned away with a livid expression. However, when he was leaving he didn’t forget to glare at the teenager, saying that in the future, if he ever saw this teenager again, he would beat him up. 

The spectators greeted his crestfallen back with jeers.

The man left and the teenager continued to sell his wooden shield. This time more people were interested. The teenager said that the wooden shield was made of special hop-hornbeam[4] wood. There was only a small piece available so he made such a small shield. He also said that although this thing doesn’t have any spiritual aura, even if a sword with an aura met it, it wouldn’t stand a chance. Of course, the most important thing was that the price wasn’t expensive, a medium-grade spirit stone was enough to take it away.

Some people in the crowd began to bargain with the young man, saying that a medium-grade spirit stone was too expensive. No matter how good this shield was, it still had no spiritual energy. If the young man was willing to accept the price of fifty low-grade spirit stones, then they would buy the shield. The young man refused to relent, his eyes swept around the crowd, and for some reason, they fell on Lin Rufei. With a few steps, he was in front of Lin Rufei: “This gongzi, are you interested in this wooden shield?” 

“Me?” Lin Rufei pointed at himself, “How can you tell that I am interested in this wooden shield?”

The young man answered, “To be frank, I have just arrived here. I was planning to find a merchant caravan, pay some money, and cross the Xiliang Mountains. Unfortunately, I was embarrassed to find that I was short on money so I had no choice but to sell my precious treasure. Looking at the way you dress, you don’t look like someone lacking in money. A good horse to match a hero, I think this treasured shield should naturally be matched with a valuable guest like yourself.” 

That was a nice way to put it. Lin Rufei laughed: “You have quite the sweet mouth[5].”

“Of course, of course.” The young man said, “If you think it’s expensive, I can give it to you for a little less, but not too much less, at most ten low-grade spirit stones.” One hundred low-grade spirit stones were equal to one medium-grade spirit stone.

Lin Rufei did not have much sense in money and he didn’t know how much a medium-grade spirit stone was worth. When he left the mountain, not to mention medium-grade spirit stones, his brothers and sister had given him several bags of top-grade spirit stones. The gadgets he bought a while ago used more than a hundred medium-grade spirit stones. So when he was faced with a teenager shouting the price of a medium-grade spirit stone, it felt like he had become a participant in a Jianghu picture book. It felt quite interesting.

The young man kept rambling on and Lin Rufei was very satisfied after listening. In the end, he took out a spirit stone from his pouch and handed it to the young man. He took the wooden shield and said with a smile, “Keep the change.”

The young man carefully put away the spirit stone and showed an expression of reluctance for the wooden shield. After a moment’s hesitation, he said in a small voice: “Gongzi, this wooden shield was given to me by my old master. If we meet in the future and I have money, can I buy it back from you?”

“Sure.” The wooden shield was just an entertainment for Lin Rufei, so he simply agreed.

The young man sighed, turned around, and left slowly.

When Lin Rufei and the teenager were talking, Gu Xuandu did not say anything until the two of them had walked to a secluded place. Lin Rufei then turned his head to look at him and asked with a smile, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

Gu Xuandu pretended to be innocent: “Say what?”

“That teenager is obviously a little liar, why didn’t you say anything?” Lin Rufei laughed, there was no blame in his words, just some curiosity. Gu Xuandu was different from him, such a small trick, surely he saw through it at a glance.

Gu Xuandu said, “You were looking for entertainment, so why should I spoil your fun.” Besides, Lin Rufei’s expression at that time showed that he obviously noticed something.

“That teenager is quite interesting, but it’s a pity that the trick is a bit old-fashioned.” Lin Rufei said as he walked, “It’s exactly the same as the ones in the books.” He pondered for a moment and then stated seriously, “I think I can do better than him.”

Gu Xuandu laughed, “Then if you have time, let’s give it a try?”

Lin Rufei looked quite eager to try.

This young master of the Lin family had been holding back on Kunlun for twenty years, after finally being able to leave the mountains, he naturally wanted to try everything. The teenager put so much effort into his performance, giving him a spirit stone was like a reward for the entertainment.  

On the way back to the inn, Gu Xuandu and Lin Rufei brought up the topic regarding sword practice. He was saying that since Gu Yu had gotten used to Lin Rufei’s breath, he would teach him some simple moves to draw out the sword intent in his body next. It was different compared to other people who practiced their sword intent later in life but seeing that Lin Rufei was born with a sword spirit, ordinary killing moves were enough to use.

Lin Rufei was excited to hear that he would be able to practice with the sword. Gu Xuandu also told him that he could learn to attach sword intent to other things afterward, just like the way he shot arrows in the Meng residence with Qi Yansheng.

Lin Rufei was a bit muddle-headed from all the information, so Gu Xuandu said no more until he arrived at the inn and the two entered the room. He grabbed something random and taught Lin Rufei to practice.

“You must first feel the presence of sword intent.” Gu Xuandu stated, “This is more difficult for you. It’s just like a person who has lived in the water since childhood but they still need to feel the water.”

Lin Rufei listened carefully to Gu Xuandu’s teaching and tried little by little.

Gu Xuandu gave an example and said, “Sword intent isn’t just a sharp weapon, it can also be used as a defense. For example, if you attach your sword intent to the wooden shield you just bought, sword intent that was more than this will not be able to break the shield.”

Lin Rufei nodded seriously.

The two practiced for a long time and only when the footsteps of Fu Hua and Yu Rui were heard did the two stop.

Fu Hua called from outside the room, “Young master, we are back.”

Lin Rufei responded, “Come in.”

The two came in one after the other and talked about what happened when they had gone out today. Fu Hua had managed to find a caravan willing to take them, but the highest cultivation of that caravan was only at the fourth level. Moreover, the caravan was large in number and also carried heavy cargo, so the traveling speed would be very slow.

“There are too many people in the caravan, although there are also many guards, the large tail doesn’t fall off[6]. If I were a mountain bandit, I would definitely focus on them first.” Fu Hua said, “When I thought of this, I thought of another method. I planned to find a local who knows the way and take us across the Xiliang Mountains together. This is fast and safe and not easily noticeable, young master, what do you think?”

Lin Rufei nodded and agreed with Fu Hua’s proposal, “Has the person been found?”

“Yes, it’s a young local who is said to have grown up on the Xiliang Mountains since he was young.” Fu Hua answered, “He’s quite smart and doesn’t know swordplay so he won’t be able to pull any tricks.”

Lin Rufei nodded, “Good.”

Before going to the mountains, they made some other preparations. They bought a lot of dry food and clothing and of course, most of these things were handled by the maids. These days Lin Rufei spent his whole day practicing with Gu Xuandu in order to learn how to manipulate the sword intent in his own body. Gu Xuandu said that although his talent was good, his body was too weak, and could not bear power that was too strong. He could only start slowly. Currently, his main task was to draw the sword intent from the body and into external objects.

It just so happens that the wooden shield he bought was not made of actual hop-hornbeam wood, but it was still sturdy, so Lin Rufei took it as the target object for his sword intent. Every day he would try it out carefully. 

The maids were surprised to see their young master so fond of this ordinary wooden shield and asked Lin Rufei when he bought it.

Lin Rufei then smiled and told the two about that day, saying that he had taken advantage of a great deal.

The two looked uncertain after hearing it. Yu Rui looked as if she had wanted to say something but was pinched heavily by Fu Hua on her arm which immediately caused tears of pain to float in her eyes. Fu Hua smiled on the side and said to Lin Rufei: “This wooden shield does look unique, young master has a good eye.”

“Right, right, I also feel like I have a good eye.” Lin Rufei laughed, “Next time you see one, remind me to buy another one.”

Although Fu Hua was angry and was secretly grinding her teeth, she still coaxed Lin Rufei and agreed. However, in her heart, she told herself that if she ever found the brat that sold the wooden shield to her young master, she would beat him up.  

The weather was getting warmer and Lin Rufei was finally not wearing a cloak all the time, which was quite refreshing.

The day of their departure was also a comfortable sunny day. The gentle breeze carried a trace of coolness as it blew on the carriage curtains. 

Lin Rufei sat in the carriage drinking the plum tea prepared for him by Yu Rui. He heard Fu Hua, who was driving the carriage, say. “Are the things that should be brought, brought? If you’ve got it, come on up. Inside is my gongzi, remember to be more respectful.”

Someone outside answered yes, then climbed into the carriage. They carefully lifted the curtain and saw Lin Rufei sitting in the carriage with a tea bowl drinking tea.

The atmosphere seemed to freeze as the two of them faced each other. Lin Rufei showed a kind smile and greeted, “Oh, what a coincidence.”

“Yes……it is quite a coincidence.” The one who spoke was the same teenager who had sold the wooden shield to Lin Rufei a few days ago. He was carrying a big bag this time with a pleasing smile on his face. Only, this smile froze after seeing Lin Rufei and he didn’t speak for a long time. In the end, Lin Rufei was the one who greeted him first.

“Hey, you guys know each other?” Fu Hua asked curiously.

Lin Rufei smiled, “Didn’t you ask me before who sold me the wooden shield? It’s this guy.”

Fu Hua’s face fell. She seemed to remember something and forced a fake smile: “Oh, so it’s you.”

The young man embarrassingly called out a young master.

Lin Rufei asked, “I haven’t asked what your name is?”

The young man trailed off, “My last name is Mo……”

Lin Rufei continued, “And what are you called?”

The young man said, “I’m called Mo Zhaocai[7].”

This name…the people who heard it chuckled. Even Fu Hua had some laughter showing in her eyes. 

Lin Rufei also laughed and asked him, “How did you get such a name?” If his name was just Zhaocai, it would be fine, but his last name had to be Mo.

Mo Zhaocai laughed: “I have had no parents since I was young. I grew up slowly as a servant in a family, so the family gave me a name, but it seems that it didn’t match too well with my family name.” He replied frankly. He did not show any looks of embarrassment because of his name, rather he was very proud of it.

Mo Zhaocai waited for the people to finish laughing and then cautiously looked at Lin Rufei before whispering, “Gongzi, do you still want me to lead the way?”

Lin Rufei blinked: “Why wouldn’t I?”

Mo Zhaocai hesitated, “I mean a few days ago……”

Lin Rufei inquired, “The wooden shield?” He then turned serious, “I like that wooden shield very much and my maids all praised me for my good eye.”

Mo Zhaocai became dumbfounded when he heard this. Out of the corner of his eyes, he looked at the expressionless Fu Hua next to him. Fu Hua gave him the eye and he was immediately quick-witted and mindful. He didn’t dare to answer and just nodded unceasingly.

After Lin Rufei finished teasing Mo Zhaocai, he gestured for him to come inside and then changed the subject to ask about the Xiliang Mountains.

As soon as the familiar place was mentioned, Mo Zhaocai immediately showed his unparalleled powerful eloquence. He started telling the stories of the Xiliang Mountains, such as the mountain fox spirit that seduced the scholar and the tree monster demons that liked to eat people’s eyeballs. His words were vivid and detailed, as if he had seen it with his own eyes. 

Lin Rufei listened with great interest and asked him how many times he had been on the Xiliang Mountains.

Mo Zhaocai smiled and replied, “In my eyes, this Xiliang Mountains is my fingers. One, two, three, four, five, I know it very well. Whether it is the mainland or the small path, as long as you follow me, you won’t ever get lost.”

Lin Rufei wowed, “That amazing?”

“Indeed. However, those stories about the monsters, it’s fine to just listen. The most frightening thing on the mountains is still the mountain bandits. Especially the group called Xiao Shou[8]. They not only rob money but also kill people, and when they meet someone they fancy, they’ll take them back to the mountain fortress. Regardless of their sex, they’ll eat them[9]!” Mo Zhaocai said, “But we are just casual travelers, their goal is the big caravans, so it is safe. Don’t worry too much.”

After he finished, he smiled shyly, “Besides, there are two beautiful sisters with such a high cultivation level, I reckon that they wouldn’t dare make a move.”

Lin Rufei nodded his head.

Mo Zhaocai was a lively teenager, just different from Meng Lanruo’s kind of lively. He was able to judge the situation and was very clear on topics that the patrons liked and disliked. As long as Lin Rufei revealed a trace of disinterest, he would keenly read the situation and quickly change the topic.

He was so young, but he had already developed this kind of personality. He probably had also suffered a lot.

Mo Zhaocai talked for a good while and after seeing that Lin Rufei did not mention the wooden shield, he let out a breath of relief. Lin Rufei poured a cup of plum tea and handed it to him, indicating that he should moisten his mouth.

Mo Zhaocai was flattered to receive it and after taking a sip, he praised, “It’s really good, I’ve never had such good tea.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Are you a member of the Mo family?”

Mo Zhaocai scratched his head: “I’m not really a Mo family member, I’m just a servant who was kicked out. This surname was given by the master and I didn’t want to just change it at will so I continued to use it.” 

Lin Rufei nodded his head in understanding.

He had heard of the Mo family’s name and had seen the Mo disciples in sword competitions from the previous years. But unfortunately, the Mo family later had some incidents and gradually fell into decline. Now within Xinzhou, the Meng family was the dominant and the Mo family had become a foil. A centipede dies but never falls down[10], compared to some mortal families without immortal cultivation, they were still considered powerful.

“The Mo family is a bit of a pity, if Mo Changshan didn’t die, it would not have become this way today.” Yu Rui, this girl, was more clear than Lin Rufei about these big family secrets known only to insiders. She sighed, “That year he fell with a single strike. The sky and Earth changed color and the silent water diverged, what a gallant appearance. Just a pity…..” That he died young and also died so tragically.

Mo Zhaocai laughed: “Let’s not talk about these unpleasant things, we should talk about something happy.” He seemed reluctant to mention the Mo family, so he started talking about the strange stories happening in the Xiliang Mountains and Xinzhou City. 

He had mixed with the people for a long time so the stories he knew were naturally splendid and Lin Rufei listened with great interest. Mo Zhaocai also seemed to have infinite energy and talked for an entire afternoon without a pause. In the end, it was Lin Rufei who got sleepy first. As soon as he yawned, Mo Zhaocai stopped talking to let Lin Rufei rest first.

Lin Rufei nodded his head, “You should also rest for a while.”

“Okay, gongzi, you don’t need to worry about me, I’m rotten to the core.” Mo Zhaocai smiled slightly.

Lin Rufei lay down on the couch and asked Gu Xuandu in a whisper before going to sleep, “Is this Mo Zhaocai interesting?” People who were praised by Gu Xuandu as interesting were always a bit troublesome.

Gu Xuandu answered, “He talks a lot and it hurts my brain just listening to him.”

Lin Rufei revealed a smile.

“But it’s not his fault.” Gu Xuandu said, “It’s normal for such a person to talk a lot.”

Lin Rufei hummed in agreement and looked at Gu Xuandu hesitantly, “You don’t seem to be in good spirits, are you not feeling well somewhere?” Since yesterday, Gu Xuandu had been looking sickly and seemed a bit tired. This appearance of his was very rare.

But Gu Xuandu shook his head and said he was fine.

Lin Rufei wanted to ask again, but he gently pressed down on Lin Rufei’s shoulder and said in a warm voice: “Don’t worry about me. If there is anything, I will certainly tell you.”

Lin Rufei: “Really?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Naturally.”

Lin Rufei sighed and thought in his heart that his senior would also lie, but in the end, he did not say anything and nodded gently.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: Are you sure you’re not uncomfortable? 

Gu Xuandu: Are you gonna help me with the uncomfortable area?

Lin Rufie: That’s fine——Wait, wait! ! If you untie your belt again I will stab you with a sword.

Gu Xuandu who was wronged: But you were the one who agreed. 

Lin Rufei: ……

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

[1] Not an actual meal, it’s like saying they aren’t worth their time. 
[2] Too much freetime, nothing to do. 
[3] Exaggerated bragging, a metaphor. (Exaggeration in Chinese can be directly translated as “blowing cow” so the idea of tearing the cowhide means that they blew so hard that it broke the hide.) So basically he’s saying you’re not afraid of exaggerating; have no shame to brag. 
[4] Hop-hornbeam/Ironwood. 
[5] Sweet-talker. 
[6] Idiom: Large objects obstruct actions; “subordinate growing too powerful; the superior cannot command inferiors.” 
[7] Zhaocai means “inviting wealth” however the surname Mo can mean “none/not” so his name can be roughly understood as “not inviting wealth.” 
[8] This gets a bit dark, so prepare thyselfs. Xiao Shou (ζž­ι¦–) is an ancient Chinese punishment. They decapitate the head while it is hung in the city for public display. Xiao is an animal that, according to legend, looks very similar to an owl, and when the Xiao’s child is born it eats the parents, leaving a single head. 
[9] Not picky with gender when it comes to s*x. 
[10] A metaphor for a powerful family, which, although they are in decline, have not died out completely. 

Chapter 36: Matters on the Mountains

Although the Xiliang Mountains’ road was treacherous, there was a major mountain road that could take carriages and carts. By following this mountain road, one could go over the mountains and reach the Central Plains on the other side. However, because of the complicated situation in the mountains, there were occasionally some unexpected accidents on the mountain road. Especially in the Summer rainy season, when the road was often blocked by loose rocks washed by rainwater and floods. Encountering such a situation was more troublesome and the caravans could only organize their own manpower to clear the road.

Fortunately, at this time, it was only early Summer so there wasn’t much rain. The carriage followed the mountain road and entered the Xiliang Mountains. The surrounding scenery slowly became desolate and finally, only dense forests were visible.

Because of Mo Zhaocai, the journey was not lonely. Every day he would be able to listen to him talk about some strange and exotic things so this journey could be deemed as interesting. 

But what worried Lin Rufei was that, the deeper they went into the Xiliang Mountains, Gu Xuandu’s state seemed to have become even poorer. He almost rarely appeared nowadays and only once in a while would he talk. At first, Lin Rufei thought he was reluctant to talk, until one day when he suddenly appeared in front of him. He was shocked to find that Gu Xuandu’s figure was actually a lot lighter, he could almost see the scene behind him through his body, it was like………..like he was about to disappear. 

“Senior, are you all right?” Lin Rufei looked for an opportunity to ask.

Gu Xuandu replied, “Nothing major.”

Lin Rufei still didn’t dare release his breath. So he added breathlessly, “Just that I’m about to die.” 

Lin Rufei: “……”

Gu Xuandu said, “Just joking.”

Lin Rufei seriously believed that this statement was “the joke.” 

Gu Xuandu saw Lin Rufei’s serious expression and did not continue to tease him, “There is something on this Xiliang Mountains that is suppressing me. The closer I am to that thing, the weaker I will be.”

When Lin Rufei heard this, he remembered what Gu Xuandu had said to him before they left the mountain. He hesitated for a moment and whispered, “This thing, does senior want it?” 

Gu Xuandu turned his head to look at him and did not speak for a long time. Just when Lin Rufei thought he would not answer, he spoke indifferently, “Not yet. Your body can’t handle it.”

This was a very clear statement. He indeed wanted the thing hidden in the Xiliang Mountains, but with Lin Rufei’s current state, there was no way to get his hands on them.

“After that, I will get weaker and weaker, to the point that I won’t be able to show up. However, it doesn’t matter, your maids’ fifth-level cultivation is enough. Ordinary people won’t be able to touch you.” Gu Xuandu said lazily, “It will be fine once we leave the mountains.” 

Lin Rufei wanted to say something else, but Gu Xuandu’s figure instantly faded away. It seemed that he was unable to continue maintaining it. Lin Rufei was a little worried, but this matter of Gu Xuandu, he didn’t seem to be of much help. As he was thinking, footsteps came from behind Lin Rufei. He turned to look and saw a bewildered Mo Zhaocai, who asked, “Lin gongzi, who are you talking to?”

Lin Rufei answered, “No one. Is something wrong?”

“Sister Fu Hua has made fresh food and asked me to come and call you.” Mo Zhaocai said, “Shall we go back?”

Lin Rufei nodded, “Okay.”

It was already dark, so Fu Hua lit a campfire. She took out the cooking utensils and made hot food. Mo Zhaocai liked it very much and ate it with great relish, but Lin Rufei had something on his mind and ate it with some worry.

“It’s getting dark, so be careful.” Mo Zhaocai’s mouth bulged as he ate and talked vaguely, “Beasts and bandits are prone to come out at night, so at least one person should keep watch……The campfire must not go out.”

The maids arranged the vigil while Lin Rufei simply washed up and then headed off into the carriage.

He was a little sleepless. Sitting up in the carriage, he casually selected a miscellany and read it by the candlelight. The wind was strong at night and it blew the trees in the mountains causing the forest to rustle. The sound of the wind was like a mournful ghostly cry. Mo Zhaocai had fallen asleep in the corner. With his bottom sticking out, he issued a slight snoring sound. His sleeping posture didn’t look great and this was the first time Lin Rufei saw someone sleeping in this position……but to be able to sleep so soundly, it was very enviable.

Lin Rufei really couldn’t sleep. He stayed up for half the night and was barely able to get some sleep. He closed his eyes for a moment but then he heard a strange sound from outside the carriage. He was immediately able to tell that this sound was wailing and screaming and apparently, it was more than one person. It was intermittent and simply listening to it gave people chills down their back. 

Lin Rufei was awakened by this sound. He raised his hand and lifted the carriage curtain. He saw Fu Hua and Yu Rui donning an expression like they had met a great enemy.  

“Young master, why aren’t you asleep?” Fu Hua asked in a low voice.

“I just fell asleep and was woken up.” When they reached the outside of the carriage, the miserable cries for help and screams of humans became clearer and clearer. It was accompanied by the whistling mountain wind which felt particularly horrible at this time. Lin Rufei asked, “Where did the sound come from?”

“It’s nearby.” Fu Hua replied, “Want to go over and take a look?”

Lin Rufei mulled over this for a moment. But before he was able to speak, the originally sleeping Mo Zhaocai suddenly leaped out. His face was full of panic, “You can’t go, you can’t go, ah! If you go you won’t be able to come back!”  

“What, you know what’s going on?” Fu Hua frowned at him.

“It’s either bandits or beasts, and with so many people screaming, it must be a big merchant group. If they can’t even resist, then something big must have happened.” Mo Zhaocai seemed to be feeling a little cold, he hugged his chest and shivered, “Besides, in this Xiliang Mountains, there is something else……”

Lin Rufei questioned, “What else?”

“I don’t know.” Mo Zhaocai answered, “Most of those who have seen it are dead. Those that survive become crazy. I’ve seen one of those lunatics, he is already not normal anymore…..” 

Fu Hua looked at Lin Rufei, indicating that she still obeyed Lin Rufei’s orders.

“Go check it out.” Lin Rufei hesitated for a moment, “If it’s just ordinary bandits, maybe we can still help, but safety first. If you really see something that you can’t deal with, don’t scare the snake[1], come back immediately.”

When Fu Hua heard this, she said yes. She then turned around and rode her sword towards the place where the sound came from. 

Mo Zhaocai’s face was white and he was nervously muttering to himself. He looked simply so afraid that he wanted to dig a hole and bury himself. 

Yu Rui was also anxious. She was biting her lower lips harshly and in the end, Lin Rufei became the calmest one amongst them all. He walked towards the campfire, raised his hand, and added some more firewood to the fire. The wet firewood that was added issued a slight crackling sound and the fire became even bigger.

Fu Hua went quickly and came back quickly. However, when she came back, her expression was very ugly. Her lips were a little bloodless and when she noticed Lin Rufei, she called out a gongzi in a shaky voice.  

It was rare to see the steady Fu Hua reveal this kind of expression and Lin Rufei immediately understood that the situation over there was certainly not ordinary: “Don’t rush, speak slowly.”

“There are many dead people over there.” Fu Hua wheezed, “It seems to be a large caravan that was killed……but……but……” She heavily swallowed the saliva in her mouth and continued in a trembling voice, “When I went, the people were almost all dead. However, I saw neither bandits, nor beasts…..” 

Mountain bandits sought money. When they killed, they certainly wouldn’t leave immediately. Beasts ate meat and the bones would certainly also be gnawed on. However, according to Fu Hua’s statement, the team of suffering merchants encountered neither bandits nor beasts, but…….something else. 

“There was nothing?” Lin Rufei frowned and asked.

“None.” Fu Hua trembled, “And……and……”

Lin Rufei asked, “And what?”

Fu Hua said, “And all the people’s eyes have been gouged out, both the living and the dead.”

Everyone fell into silence. Mo Zhaocai had the least courage. He was already crying and wiping his tears as he muttered to himself, “I told you not to go, now look at what happened, you saw something you shouldn’t have, now what should we do?”

According to Fu Hua’s description, when she arrived there, the massacre had practically ended. There were dead caravan members everywhere and there were still a few that were alive. However, their eyes had turned into bloody holes as they laid on the ground breathing weakly and wailing. They probably didn’t have long to live. 

This scene was too bizarre and strange. Fu Hua also didn’t dare to stay more so she turned to leave and hurriedly rushed back. 

“I also didn’t detect other suspicious people around the area. Either that person’s cultivation is far above me, or…… it is something else.” Fu Hua whispered, “Gongzi, what do we do next, ah?”

Lin Rufei pondered for a moment: “Let’s wait until dawn and see.”

It was already the middle of the night and there was still about one or two hours until dawn.

After such an incident, no one could sleep, so they chatted around the campfire.

Mo Zhaocai said that the bizarre legends of these things on the Xiliang Mountains had been going on for a hundred years, and every year there was news. However, whether it was true or false, no one could say clearly. But it was better to believe it than not to believe it, so he was always very reverent about these things on the mountains.

“I see this journey won’t be smooth. Why don’t we go back first and leave again some other day.” Mo Zhaocai whispered, “Otherwise, in case of any accidents……”

Lin Rufei said, “But isn’t it said that the mountains are more difficult to travel in the rainy season.”

Mo Zhaocai smiled embarrassingly: “It definitely will be hard to travel, however, it’s better…….than losing your life.”

At the height of Summer, it would be the rainy season of the Xiliang Mountains. When that time comes, not only were the mountains hot, but there would be frequent flash floods which made it even more dangerous.  

Lin Rufei sighed, “Let’s talk about it at dawn.” He wanted to ask Gu Xuandu for his opinion. But even after such an incident, Gu Xuandu didn’t show up. His situation was probably not good either.

So they waited until dawn.

After dawn, those people’s voices had completely disappeared.

Fu Hua summoned her courage and went to check again. This time, when she came back, her panicked expression turned into one of bewilderment, “Gongzi……it’s all gone.”

Lin Rufei: “Hmm? Gone?”

“Yes, everything is gone.” Fu Hua was puzzled, “Not only were there no bodies, not even blood can be seen……” She even started to question herself, “I, I couldn’t have seen wrong, right?”

Everyone speechlessly looked at her. Mo Zhaocai touched his nose and said, “You definitely didn’t see wrong, I estimate that someone has already dealt with the bodies…..” 

Fu Hua asked: “Why should it be dealt with?”

Mo Zhaocai answered, “In order to allow people to continue travel that road?”

Lin Rufei sat aside in silence and waited until they were almost done discussing before he spoke out, “Let’s go and take a look.”

Then they followed carefully to the place where the accident happened last night, and indeed, as Fu Hua said, there was no trace of anything in the mountains and forests. It was as if all those horrible wails from last night were just their hallucinations. Lin Rufei walked around the roadside and didn’t see a body, nor blood. However, in the end, he still found some clues. He bent down and gently picked up a smear of dirt with his finger and said, “There was once a campfire here.” Although the campfire had been removed, in the mud, there were still some traces of burnt wood.

“So I didn’t see wrong?” Fu Hua muttered.

“No. Something must have happened here last night.” Lin Rufei looked around. The dense forest blocked most of the sunlight. Although the weather was clear at this time, it wasn’t dry or hot, rather it was slightly cool. This kind of coolness would be very comfortable on a normal day, but at this moment, it carried an eerie ghostly aura.

“Gongzi, what should we do?” Yu Rui whispered and asked.

Mo Zhaocai started rambling: “Let’s go back, let’s go back. If we don’t go back then at least we can’t use this road……..” He seemed to have thought of something and suddenly became high-spirited again. He said to Lin Rufei, “Young master Lin, let’s not take the main road. Going around the side is safer.” 

Lin Rufei questioned, “Do you know another way?”

“Of course. I am familiar with the Xiliang Mountains, I know all the roads. However, that road is a bit narrow, carriages can’t pass, so the caravans don’t usually use it.” Mo Zhaocai muttered, “Although not many people use it, it also has its advantages, which is that there aren’t many people who know that road. So an accident is less likely to occur.” He continued, “Those things did not attack us, their targets are large caravans. If we take the big road, it will be easy to get implicated……”

Lin Rufei mused, “Do you use that road often?” 

“Not often, but last month I happened to take a trip.” Mo Zhaocai said, “It’s a little off, but a horse can definitely pass. It’s certainly safer than the main road.”  

The biggest reason why the Xiliang Mountains were prone to accidents was because it only had one main road. The caravans simply had no other choice and if people wanted to attack the caravan, they just had to block the main road. They were only a few people, their goal wasn’t obvious, and they were not afraid of unusual beasts. Taking the small road was a pretty good choice. 

“Sounds good.” Lin Rufei agreed to Mo Zhaocai’s proposal. If he were to leave the mountains now, he was afraid that he would have to wait until the rainy season was over and the Autumn was high in order to reach the Central Plains.

And seeing that Mo Zhaocai was so afraid of death, he probably wouldn’t joke with his own life, so Lin Rufei agreed to his proposal and said to take the small path.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui also stabilized their emotions and were no longer frightened. Although the maids cultivated, in the end, they still grew up on the Kunlun Mountains and have not seen such bloody scenes, which was why they were so frightened yesterday. But they adjusted quite quickly and when they were on the road again, they were no longer too scared.

The carriage could not be used, so they had to ride horses.

Considering that the maids were little girls, Lin Rufei let Mo Zhaocai ride on his horse, Mo Zhaocai was small, so he sat in the front and Lin Rufei held the reins behind him.

Although Mo Zhaocai was small, he was carrying a large backpack. Lin Rufei casually asked what was in his backpack.

“Oh, it’s just some stuff I need for my usual tricks.” Mo Zhaocai said sheepishly, “I do not have a place to live so I always carry these little guys[2] that help me with my meals.”

Lin Rufei blinked and asked, “Such as the wooden shield that can withstand all sharp swords?”

Mo Zhaocai’s expression froze.

Lin Rufei continued, “Are there any more? I’ll take two more.”

“No, no more.” Mo Zhaocai smiled awkwardly, “It’s a family heirloom……” When he said the words “family heirloom,” he was glared at by Fu Hua, who was next to him, so he had to lower his voice and said weakly, “Of course, if gongzi really still wants one, I can still look for one again.”

Lin Rufei said, “Then can you give me a cheaper price this time?”

Mo Zhaocai smiled embarrassingly: “You are my regular customer, I don’t dare take your money.” 

Lin Rufei faintly smiled.

They followed the path Mo Zhaocai said all the way forward and did not encounter any more strange things. But this Mo Zhaocai was indeed powerful, the trail was almost covered by the weeds growing on the side and he was still able to accurately find it. It was also worthy of his claim to have grown up in the Xiliang Mountains.

The mountains were high and the road was far, and after a day of traveling, the surroundings didn’t seem to have changed much. Except that the forest was a little denser and it was like entering a huge maze.

Normal people would always feel a little uneasy. However, Fu Hua and Yu Rui were both sword cultivators so they didn’t feel it. 

Lin Rufei was worried about Gu Xuandu’s state all the way until nightfall. He found another corner and called Gu Xuandu out.

At this time, Gu Xuandu’s condition had become more serious. He was almost close to being transparent. He looked sickly and drowsy, but when he saw Lin Rufei, he did not forget to tease: “Were you scared last night?”

Lin Rufei got to the point, “Did what happened last night have something to do with the thing that you want?”

“It’s somewhat related.” Gu Xuandu murmured, “But you don’t have to worry too much, that thing won’t hurt you. What’s more troublesome is the other people who want to get that thing.”

Lin Rufei mused, “Can I be of any help?”

Gu Xuandu slowly shook his head.

Lin Rufei: “I can’t be of any help?” 

Gu Xuandu sighed, “You won’t be able to help.”

“You’re lying again.” Lin Rufei said, “You said that thing will not hurt me so how can I not be of help at all?”

Gu Xuandu was speechless and then shook his head uncontrollably: “It’s too dangerous for you now.”

Lin Rufei pondered for a moment: “I want to try.”

Gu Xuandu frowned: “You should not be so stubborn, there are still many days ahead……”

Lin Rufei asked, “That thing is very important to you, right?”

Gu Xuandu did not speak. He looked at Lin Rufei in some distress and he didn’t seem to understand. The usual young master of the Lin family was very easy to coax, however, he became so difficult at this time. Unfortunately, his state was very bad and he was very reluctant to appear. He didn’t have the time to listen to Lin Rufei go into a detailed reasoning so he was torn for a long time before finally squeezing out a sentence: “You’re not allowed to go.” 

Lin Rufei said: “I just want to try, if the situation isn’t right I will immediately give up.” Somehow, he had a feeling that that thing was very important to Gu Xuandu.

Gu Xuandu had a helpless expression. He still wanted to say something but his body was starting to fade and even his voice was blurred. He said something that was very vague and indistinct before he disappeared. Vaguely, Lin Rufei seemed to have heard a “Mo” in those words. Mo, Mo family? Mo Zhaocai? Or not to do anything[3]? Lin Rufei thought for a long time, but could not come up with an exact answer.

Gu Xuandu disappeared completely and Lin Rufei was a little unaccustomed to not having his constant companion.

He returned to the maids and saw Mo Zhaocai gnawing on a big bone, roasted by Fu Hua, with great interest. The bones were bought from the mountains and they were marinated for a long time and kept in the ring. Now it had been taken out, sprinkled with some spice, and roasted for dinner.  Lin Rufei hadn’t been very interested in meat so he only ate a little and gave the rest to Mo Zhaocai.

Mo Zhaocai happily gnawed on the bones and his face was dirtied. He didn’t know how he did it, but he gnawed the bone clean and even licked the oil clean before reluctantly putting it down. After putting it down, he noticed the dumbfounded looks from next to him and he immediately became somewhat embarrassed. He whispered: “Sorry, sorry[4], sister Fu Hua’s cooking is really great, I have not eaten such delicious meat for a long time so I couldn’t hold back……”

Fu Hua laughed: “I still have some, let’s roast it tomorrow at noon. The weather is hot so it can not be left for too long.”

“That’s really great.” Mo Zhaocai said while digging a hole to bury his beloved big bone stick. Lin Rufei looked at his appearance and thought that this child was quite cute, just as if his identity didn’t seem to be as simple as he showed. If Gu Xuandu’s “Mo” referred to him, then it was definitely worth noting. 

After eating, while Mo Zhaocai went to the forest to go “number one[5],” and Lin Rufei urged Fu Hua and Yu Rui to pay more attention to this little guy.

Fu Hua nodded, but she still had some doubts about his words. She said that Mo Zhaocai had no trace of sword Qi, could he actually still pull tricks?  

Although Lin Rufei didn’t know what secrets this Mo Zhaocai had, it was always good to pay more attention.

Mo Zhaocai solved his problem and came back. He squatted next to the campfire and poked the dirt with a stick.

The day was getting late. Yesterday, no one slept and they all have developed some tiredness but they could only sleep on the ground since they were without a carriage. Fu Hua seemed to have expected this situation so she pulled out ropes. Borrowing the trees on the side, she tied three hammocks and laid soft mats on them. 

This was Lin Rufei’s first time sleeping in such a hammock and he felt very excited. He laid in the bed and saw the dark sky floating with a bright full moon and light-colored clouds scattered around the full moon.

Sleepiness rushed to Lin Rufei’s mind and he slowly closed his eyes before soon falling into a long-lost dream.

In the dream world, it seemed that someone was shouting and screaming and the color of blood gradually covered his entire field of vision. Lin Rufei woke up with a jolt and his ears ranged with Fu Hua’s sharp cry: “Gongzi——gongzi, run—— “

Lin Rufei sat up from the hammock and saw Fu Hua and Yu Rui, who were fighting with their swords, as well as blood-colored orbs flying all over the sky.

He looked carefully and realized that those bloody round objects were actually bloody eyes. They stared at the diffused black pupils and attacked the two maids frantically. And Mo Zhaocai, who was sleeping next to him, was now nestled in the corner shivering. Seeing him awake, he cried out: “Young master Lin——come with me quickly——they can’t last much longer!”

Before Lin Rufei could react, Mo Zhaocai ran to his side and grabbed him: “Quickly, run!”

Lin Rufei said, “Fu Hua—”

“Gongzi, go first! We will come afterward!” Fu Hua answered.

Lin Rufei knew that he would be a drag if he stayed here at this time, so he could only move his legs and run wildly with Mo Zhaocai.

********

The author has something to say:  

Gu Xuandu: I think I’m at my limit……. 

Lin Rufei: What should I do so that you won’t disappear?

Gu Xuandu: I’ll be fine if you marry me

Lin Rufei: Before you disappear, leave me a piece of your clothing and I will make you a cenotaph. 

Gu Xuandu: ? ? ? ?

Thank you to the little angels that voted for me[6] or irrigated the nutrient solution[7]~

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

[1] Inadvertently alert the enemy. 
[2] Not actually little people, referring to items. 
[3] The “don’t” in this sentences uses the character Mo (莫), the phrase is (莫要). 
[4] So the phrase here was 见笑 which directly translates to “I’m making you guys laugh” or like showing embarrassment. It’s really hard to describe properly into words and there really isn’t a good English equivalent for it so I went with sorry. 
[5] Pee break uwu. 
[6] It’s a voting system that encourages authors and the revenues generated from these votes becomes their incomes. 
[7] I think this refers to people who buy the VIP chapters to support the authors πŸ™‚ 

Chapter 37: Pupil of the Blood Moon

Although it was nighttime, Mo Zhaocai was like a deft hound and easily navigated through the rugged mountain road. He was probably afraid that he would be separated from Lin Rufei, so the entire way, he held onto the corner of Lin Rufei’s clothes and constantly whispered the directions. 

“Gongzi, this side of the grass is deep, you have to be more careful!” Mo Zhaocai gasped for breath.

Lin Rufei’s body was already weak. As he scurried around with Mo Zhaocai, he was also slightly short of breath. Mo Zhaocai’s footsteps slowed down a little and only had the effort to speak in a breathless voice: “Those things don’t seem to be following us.”

“Yes, it seems not.” Mo Zhaocai looked behind him. He double-checked to make sure he couldn’t see those horrible eyeballs and finally heaved a sigh of relief. He muttered, “What the hell are those things, I thought I was having a nightmare……”

Lin Rufei asked, “Where are we now?”

Mo Zhaocai looked around. They were surrounded by a dense forest and at this time, the light was dim so he didn’t recognize the road under his feet. He couldn’t help but say with a bitter smile, “I do not know. It seems like we’re lost.”

Lin Rufei looked grave. He took out a paper crane from his ring and sent the paper crane out.

After a while, the paper crane came back with a message from Fu Hua. Fu Hua said that Lin Rufei shouldn’t worry. They had cleared out most of the eyeballs and intended to eliminate the rest as well. They asked Lin Rufei to stay put and that they would come looking for him when they were done dealing with the eyeballs.

Lin Rufei heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that his maids were all right. However, Mo Zhaocai, who was standing beside him, got nervous and said, “Lin gongzi, Lin gongzi, come here quickly. Crouch down in the grass, don’t say anything—”

Before Lin Rufei could react, he was pressed down by his shoulders and into the grass. Just as he was wondering what was going on, he heard the rustling sounds of footsteps from not too far away. 

Lin Rufei followed the gap in the grass and saw a group of people who were walking in this direction. These people carried exaggerated large swords, wore simple short shirts, and emitted a smell of blood all over their bodies. No matter how one looked at them, they didn’t look like good people.

The leader of the group had a fierce face. Even through the dull moonlight, an exaggerated scar could be seen across his cheek, giving him a hideous appearance. He was leading about a dozen people behind him and they were all looking around as if they were searching for something.

“These people are all mountain bandits.” Mo Zhaocai was so nervous that he muttered in Lin Rufei’s ear inaudibly, “They are all bad people who kill without blinking. If we let them find us, we will be finished.”

Lin Rufei nodded, signaling that he understood.

The two squatted in the grass, trying to cover themselves with the mounds of grass. They watched as the group slowly walk past their eyes and it seemed that they were quite lucky. When Lin Rufei saw the last person disappear, he let out a long breath. Mo Zhaocai, even more so. His whole person flopped down onto the ground and he let out a big gasp: “That scared me to death, scared me to death. I thought the two of us would die here.”

Lin Rufei asked, “You know them?”

“I don’t know them, but I know the swords in their hands.” Mo Zhaocai said in a trembling voice, “They should be Xiao Shou. That pattern engraved on that sword, I can’t forget it even after I die……”

“Why can’t you forget?”

“Of course I can’t forget. I saw with my own eyes as they cut off the heads of a whole caravan.” Mo Zhaocai answered, “The blood, ah……wait……” His original relaxed expression suddenly froze, because he suddenly realized that the person who asked “why can’t you forget?” was not Lin Rufei, who had been beside him, but from someone behind him. 

Lin Rufei and Mo Zhaocai turned around together and saw a dozen mountain bandits standing behind them.

The leader of the group had a nasty smile on his face and when he noticed their pale faces, he laughed, “Yo, it looks like we’re lucky to have found these two little guys.”

Mo Zhaocai screamed. He turned around and wanted to run but was kicked directly by the man onto the ground. Lin Rufei stood still. The man walked up to him, almost face to face, and sized him up: “Where is this beautiful little gongzi from. Why did you come to the Xiliang Mountains on such a dark night?” 

Lin Rufei pursed his lips slightly but did not speak.

Mo Zhaocai cried: “Big brother, big brother, you have the kindness to let us go[1]. We are just casual travelers passing by, we don’t have any silver with us.”

The man ignored Mo Zhaocai and with a wave of his hand, his men took out ropes and tied Mo Zhaocai up tightly. When it came to Lin Rufei, he smiled and said, “Little gongzi, are you going to come with us by yourself, or should I do it?”

Lin Rufei calmly said, “I can go by myself.” After saying that, he coughed lowly twice and his face, which was already not very good, turned even paler.

When the man saw that he was weak, he laughed nastily, “We are traveling fast, little gongzi, I’m afraid you won’t be able to keep up.” He reached out his hand and actually lifted Lin Rufei directly onto his shoulder. Lin Rufei’s vision was instantly reversed. Just as he was about to grit his teeth and say something, a hand chopped[2] down on the back of his neck and he fainted.

When Mo Zhaocai saw this scene, he revealed a terrified look. The man smiled straight at him and said: “Although I didn’t find what I wanted, I still got an unexpected harvest.” 

As he said this, the others also carried Mo Zhaocai and the crowd soon disappeared into the forest. 

When Fu Hua and Yu Rui arrived, the place was already empty. The maids, who just had a fierce battle, were still covered with blood and enveloped in a murderous aura. They had rushed here as fast as they could, but when they did not find their family’s gongzi, they were instantly annoyed.

“Where is gongzi?” Yu Rui screamed.

“There’s the scent of other people here! Someone has been here!” Fu Hua exclaimed, “Go, follow the scent and search there!”

The two put their swords away. They looked as fierce as Rakshasasas[3] and chased all the way in the direction that the bandits had left.

Lin Rufei woke up to find himself lying on a soft bed. His head vaguely hurt from the chop. When he got up from the bed and looked around, he saw Mo Zhaocai in the corner, almost tied up like a crab.

Seeing that he was awake, Mo Zhaocai almost cried out: “Gongzi, you’re finally awake. I thought something had happened to you!”

Lin Rufei rubbed his neck and asked in a low voice: “Where are we?”

Mo Zhaocai replied honestly, “In the bandit’s den.”

Lin Rufei was silent for a moment before he questioned, “What do they want?”

Mo Zhaocai said, “Are you asking if they’re after me or after you?”

Lin Rufei wondered, “What’s the difference?”

Mo Zhaocai said bitterly, “Of course it’s different. I’m just a poor punk with no one to depend on, the bandits will probably kill me with a single strike. However, since they encountered you, they certainly won’t let you go. I heard that their boss eats anything[4], he likes beautiful people. He alone, already has more than twenty wives—” 

Lin Rufei still didn’t understand: “What do you mean?”

“Means he wants to marry you, ah.” Mo Zhaocai replied sadly. How did he only find out today that this beautiful gongzi was a bit stupid. 

Lin Rufei exclaimed incredulously: “But I am a man.”

Mo Zhaocai sighed: “You don’t understand. If there aren’t women, then men can also do. Furthermore, there are people who like men……especially ones like gongzi, beautiful and with a good body.”

Lin Rufei, with his weak and slender body, handsome face—coupled with a noble aura that even normal people could see, was simply the favorite targets of the mountain bandits. But apparently, the gongzi in front of him was completely unable to understand this matter. He was sitting on the bed showing an expression like he had just seen a ghost.

The two of them were still talking when a man came in from outside. It was the same man who knocked Lin Rufei unconscious. When he saw Lin Rufei, he smiled, “Awake?”

Lin Rufei looked at him and didn’t say anything.

The man said, “After coming here, no matter what your status was before, you are now my person.” He walked up to Lin Rufei and reached out to grasp his chin, however, Lin Rufei dodged it with a frown.

“Yo, still hiding. This is gonna be fun, ah. I like feisty beauties, otherwise, it’s gonna be like doing a dead fish—boring.” The man said as he revealed an evil smile. He already saw that Lin Rufei’s body was light and wasn’t even as heavy as his sword. He didn’t look like someone who had practice, furthermore, he had no sword intent so he was probably just an ordinary family’s wealthy son. Just that he was born with beautiful good looks that made a person’s heart itch[5] when they looked at him.

“The Spring night is short, let’s not waste time either.” The man reached out and was about to grab Lin Rufei’s hand, trying to accustom him to the bed.

Lin Rufei had just suffered a loss so this time, he had experience. He shrank back a bit and with his right hand, he reached into his dimensional ring to pull out a black wooden shield. He raised his hand and aimed for the man’s head. The man didn’t know where he got this wooden shield from, but when he saw his action, he laughed. He raised his hand to grab it, believing that Lin Rufei’s shield would have no force and could be easily stopped. 

Mo Zhaocai also couldn’t bear it and closed his eyes. He was afraid that Lin Rufei would completely anger the mountain bandits and then when the time came, he would have to suffer a bit more. 

But who knew that with his eyes closed, he heard a “clack” sound followed by the bandit’s muffled grunt. When he opened his eyes again, he saw Lin Rufei holding the wooden shield with an innocent face. The bandit’s arm took on a twisted shape and he fell directly onto the bed unconscious.

“How, how did you do that?” Mo Zhaocai was so surprised that his dialect even came out.

(t.n: I’m not sure how to convey dialect in English, but I believe this is the Sichuan dialect [I’m not good with dialects either XD])

“I just wanted to try. I didn’t think I would hit him that hard.” Before Lin Rufei traveled to the mountains, he was learning with Gu Xuandu on how to attach sword Qi to foreign objects. Now, he finally had results and it seemed to be outstanding. He reached out and probed the mountain bandit’s nostrils to make sure he was still alive, “I thought I had smashed him to death.”

Mo Zhaocai’s eyes were about to pop out of their sockets.

“Your shield is working quite well.” Lin Rufei raised the wooden shield in his hand and said seriously, “A medium-grade spirit stone was quite worth it.”

Mo Zhaocai was silent for a while before he finally, with a red face, squeezed out a sentence: “Gongzi, untie me first. Otherwise, someone will come in later…..” 

Lin Rufei nodded and untied Mo Zhaocai. The two of them tied up the mountain bandit, who had a broken arm, and also used a towel to tightly plug his mouth.

After all this, Lin Rufei’s whole body was covered in sweat so he sat down resting while also panting. 

Mo Zhaocai quietly touched the door. He looked to see the movement outside then turned back and whispered: “Gongzi, what to do, ah, there are people guarding the door.”

Lin Rufei asked, “How many?”

Mo Zhaocai responded, “I only saw one.”

Lin Rufei thought for a while. He then raised his hand and slapped the bandit, who was just knocked unconscious, a few times to wake him up. The bandit woke up in a daze. He reflexively wanted to speak harshly after seeing Lin Rufei and Mo Zhaocai standing in front of him, however, he found that his mouth was firmly stuffed with something and couldn’t let out a word no matter how much he tried.

Lin Rufei pulled out a dagger from his dimensional ring and placed it directly against his neck. He wasn’t able to control his strength well and directly cut a clear blood mark on his skin. He hurriedly said, “Sorry. First time using it, not too skilled.” 

The mountain bandit’s face showed horror.

“I’ll unstuff your mouth, but you’re not allowed to make a sound or I’ll chop off your head with a dagger.” Lin Rufei slowly said, “Nod your head if you understand.”

The bandit slowly nodded his head.

Lin Rufei gave Mo Zhaocai a look and Mo Zhaocai carefully pulled out the cloth stuffed in the bandit’s mouth. The bandit gasped violently for a few seconds before hissing, “Even if you two kill me, you won’t be able to leave here!”

Lin Rufei looked at him, “That’s not necessarily true.”

“Haha, I know you have some exiled immortal tactics. These tactics are enough to deal with a mortal like me, but to deal with the thing in the mountain, it’s not even close to enough.” The mountain bandit sneered, “Don’t think I don’t know why you’re here.”

Lin Rufei wondered curiously, “Oh, you know where that thing is?”

“Who doesn’t know the location of that thing?” The mountain bandit said, “It’s one thing to know and another thing to get your hands on it.”

Lin Rufei pondered for a moment and was about to ask again, but Mo Zhaocai suddenly became nervous and pointed outside, “Gongzi, someone is coming this way!”

As his words fell, chaotic footsteps came from outside, followed by a heavy knock on the door. Someone called out, “Brother Wang, are you done yet?”

So the bandit’s surname was Wang, Lin Rufei pushed the dagger in his hand forward and slightly raised his chin, signaling him to say what he should say. Thus, the bandit surnamed Wang said gruffly: “F**k off, are you trynna pressure me? You think I’m like you, two hits and done?” 

The crowd outside the door burst into laughter.

“You guys go ahead, I’ll follow you as soon as I’m done.” He continued as he turned his head to look at Lin Rufei.

“Yo, it looks like that pretty little gongzi is quite to your liking.” That man laughed, “Then remember to hurry up, those two women have already been lured over.”

“I know. One more round and I’m coming.” The mountain bandit answered.

The man outside the door seemed to be used to this style of action and did not find it strange, so he turned around and walked away.

Only after the footsteps had completely disappeared did Lin Rufei ask, “Two women? Who are the two women they are talking about?”

The mountain bandit said, “It’s said to be two exiled immortals at the fifth-level of cultivation, I’m not sure about the specifics……”

Things seemed to be getting more and more complicated. From the time they headed up the mountains, they were already being watched and the people who were watching them seemed to be involved with the thing that was affecting Gu Xuandu.

After thinking for a moment, Lin Rufei bargained with the mountain bandit to take him to that place. The bandit immediately agreed, saying that he would be willing to take Lin Rufei and Mo Zhaocai out as long as he was not killed.

“Gongzi, don’t believe him, you can’t trust a word from this bandit’s mouth.” Just then, Mo Zhaocai suddenly opened his mouth and said anxiously, “If we let him go out, he will definitely renege on his promise and take our lives.”

When the bandit heard Mo Zhaocai say this, he laughed: “Without me, you can’t even find your way out, so how can you save the two women?”

“Just because you say we can’t find it, doesn’t mean we can’t find it!” Mo Zhaocai disdainfully said, “Not to brag, but as long as someone walks past me, even after half a day, I can follow their trail all the way there, we don’t need you!”

Since Mo Zhaocai could find the way, then the mountain bandit in front of him was indeed of no use.

Lin Rufei looked at the dagger in his hand. The bandit felt something and his face contorted into fear. He was about to open his mouth to beg for mercy when Mo Zhaocai fiercely stuffed his mouth with a cloth.

In the end, it was Lin Rufei’s first time killing with his own hands so he was slightly hesitant and Mo Zhaocai noticed the incomparable anxiousness in his heart. He was afraid that Lin Rufei would go soft-hearted, so out of nowhere, he pulled out a short knife and slashed at the mountain bandit’s neck.  

This knife directly slashed the bandit’s aorta and the blood sprayed extremely high, splashing all over Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei took a step back and frowned at Mo Zhaocai.

Mo Zhaocai: “Gongzi, I was afraid you couldn’t do it…….” This Lin Rufei indeed looked like he couldn’t kill. He was afraid he couldn’t do it, so he simply solved the problem himself.

Lin Rufei sighed, “At least say so before you do it.” He pointed to the blood on his own body, “It splashed all over me.”

Mo Zhaocai was dumbfounded, he thought Lin Rufei would blame him, but he didn’t expect him to say such a thing.

“Also.” Lin Rufei continued, “You killed him just like that but the people outside have yet to be settled.”

Only then did Mo Zhaocai remember that there was still a man guarding the door. He raised his hand and scratched his head in panic and let out an “oops.”

Lin Rufei looked at him thoughtfully but did not say anything more about him. He just took out a talisman from his ring and told Mo Zhaocai the usage of the talisman.

This talisman was given to him by sister Lin Weirui before he left Kunlun. Most of the things she gave were strange and odd but they were very practical contraptions, such as this talisman. He just had to paste it on that person’s body and that person would not be able to move for half an hour.

“Let me do it, gongzi.” Mo Zhaocai volunteered, “I’m nimble, I can definitely paste it on.”

Lin Rufei handed the talisman in his hand to Mo Zhaocai.

Mo Zhaocai really lived up to his expectations. He lightly opened the door and before the man could react, he touched behind him and directly pasted the talisman on.

Lin Rufei then followed Mo Zhaocai out of the room. The two were about to leave when Mo Zhaocai suddenly stopped in his tracks and said hesitantly, “Gongzi, wait for me for a moment.”

Lin Rufei, “Hmm?”

Mo Zhaocai replied, “I’ll be right back.”

As he said this, he turned and scurried into another room and when he came back again, there was a huge backpack behind him—the same one he had carried on his back before.

“Hehe, I thought I lost it.” Mo Zhaocai rubbed his nose and laughed, “It turned out to be in the next room, my luck is pretty good.”

“Indeed the luck is not bad.” Lin Rufei’s words, however, had a deeper meaning.

Mo Zhaocai exclaimed, “Then let’s go quickly, we can’t let the others find out.”

This bandit’s den was very laxly guarded since most of the people inside had left. Lin Rufei suspected that the place these people went to was the same place where Fu Hua and Yu Rui were led to. However, he didn’t know what they wanted to do and why they would focus on two exiled immortals with a level five cultivation.

Mo Zhaocai did indeed have an unusual talent for finding his way around.

He looked east and then west and easily led Lin Rufei out of the bandit’s den, bypassing many patrols in the process. When they reached the outside of the den, Mo Zhaocai quickly determined the direction of the group’s departure and said, “Gongzi, they are heading this way, but should we follow them?”

Since they already made it this far, then naturally they had to follow them. Lin Rufei walked forward, but a strong sense of foreboding arose in his heart. He felt that he was getting closer and closer to the thing that was affecting Gu Xuandu.

Mo Zhaocai also became vaguely excited but he forcibly suppressed this emotion. He continued pretending to be afraid and led the way for Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei saw this but did not point it out. After all, he still needed this little guy to lead the way.

The further they went, the more strange the scenery on the roadside became.

The original lush trees began to reveal dry branches and the roadside weeds were gone, replaced by jagged rocks and red mud. In the mud, they could clearly see messy footprints and they even vaguely saw blinding blood. However, the blood had already turned dried brown. Most likely a fight happened here a long time ago. 

Mo Zhaocai carried his huge backpack and walked carefully. He looked around from time to time while Lin Rufei once again took out the paper cranes from the ring to send a message to Fu Hua and Yu Rui, but the paper crane could not fly out. This could only mean that either something had happened to the two of them or they were now in a space where they could not communicate with the outside world.

Mo Zhaocai, who was walking ahead, suddenly stopped walking and lowered his voice, “Gongzi, those people are just ahead.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Can we get a little closer?”

Mo Zhaocai looked around and pointed to a huge red rock not far away. This rock looked a bit abrupt on the side of the road, but there was really no other good place to hide except there.

Lin Rufei and Mo Zhaocai then moved next to the rock and looked in the direction of the mountain bandits.

The mountain bandits were about two dozen in number and were gathered together at the moment. Borrowing the night light, Lin Rufei saw them drawing a complex spell formation. After drawing the spell formation, they took out a huge cloth bag and rustled something out of the bag. As soon as those things were poured out, they rumbled and rolled all over the place. Upon a closer look, they realized it was a bag of human eyeballs. The eyeballs looked like they were just dug out and were still wet with blood. It looked extraordinarily gruesome at first glance.

These eyeballs were most likely dug out from the passing travelers. It was just that they didn’t know exactly how many people’s eyes were dug out to fill out an entire bag.  

Mo Zhaocai trembled with fear and his body couldn’t help but shiver. Lin Rufei slightly frowned: “What are they doing?”

Mo Zhaocai said: “It seems to be related to the thing in the Xiliang Mountains……”

Lin Rufei asked, “What thing?”

Mo Zhaocai said, “Rumor has it that the Heavenly Ruler put a precious magic treasure in the Xiliang Mountains back then. If they were able to get that magic treasure then a wish would be granted.”

Lin Rufei looked at Mo Zhaocai: “You believe it?”

Mo Zhaocai’s hand, which supported the heavy backpack, tightened: “I believe it.”

As the two were speaking, not far away in the sky, a round blood-red object slowly rose. At first glance, it looked like a blood moon, but upon closer inspection, it was actually a huge pupil and it cast a cold gaze towards the dozens of mountain bandits.

The bandits, seeing such a treacherous situation, did not show any fear. Instead, they all got excited together and dozens of them started whispering to the pupil, as if they were chanting some kind of incantation.

The blood-colored pupil quietly hovered in mid-air, like the pupil of a god without sorrow or joy and it gazed indifferently at the mortals who were in a frenzy under the night.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: First day offline and Xiao Jiu was assaulted. 

Lin Rufei: If you didn’t go offline, I would have been assaulted daily by you. 

Gu Xuandu: Then pick one?

Lin Rufei pulls out his shield: I’ll just smash them all to death.

Gu Xuandu: …….

Lin Rufei who got the wooden shield seems to have opened the door to some strange new world

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

[1] The phrase here is ε€§δΊΊζœ‰ε€§ι‡ which means someone in power should be able to tolerate and won’t argue/bicker with others, so in this case since he is in power, he should have the power to let them go and not bicker with them. 
[2] Knife-hand strike. 
[3] Read about Rakshasa here πŸ™‚ 
[4] Does it with both men and women. 
[5] Tempted. 

Chapter 38: Wish

The giant pupil swept its cold gaze around the crowd and it didn’t seem to be able to find the target it wanted. Its color soon began to fade, as if it was about to re-hide back into the darkness.

However, at this time, two figures flew through the sky. Lin Rufei raised his eyes to look and unexpectedly saw Fu Hua and Yu Rui. The two maids had gone through a fierce fight and their white clothes were now covered with scarlet blood. They were holding their long swords with a ferocious look and after noticing the bandits not far away, they raised their swords and slashed. The next moment, there were bandits’ heads that fell directly to the ground.

When their companions were suddenly killed, the bandits did not look angry at all, instead, they laughed maniacally.

“Are these people crazy?” Yu Rui was confused and asked annoyingly, “Someone died and they’re still laughing?”

Fu Hua coldly said, “Then kill them all.” Dead people couldn’t laugh anymore.

As the two people were talking, they didn’t seem to notice the giant pupil floating in the sky. Lin Rufei had a sense of foreboding and wanted to stand up to call out to the two people, but he suddenly felt something sharp being held against his back. He turned his head and looked at Mo Zhaocai, who was holding a dagger in his hand. His face did not look surprised at all and he only sighed slightly.

“Lin gongzi, apologies.” Mo Zhaocai said.

“Why are you making your move now?” Lin Rufei slowly asked, “I thought you had to wait a little longer.”

Mo Zhaocai was confused, “You saw through it?”

Lin Rufei replied, “Your luck was a little too good.”

Mo Zhaocai smiled, but unfortunately, there was not much sincerity in the smile, “Lin gongzi, don’t blame me, I had no choice.”

Lin Rufei spread his hands and made a helpless expression. When Mo Zhaocai saw this, he thought that this sign meant that he was giving up. However, who knew that the next moment, Lin Rufei’s body erupted with an ear-piercing sharp sound. The sound directly shook Mo Zhaocai into dizziness and he involuntarily backed up a few steps. At the same time, he also attracted the attention of Fu Hua and Yu Rui, who were still in mid-air.

“Young master!” Yu Rui was surprised.

Mo Zhaocai soon recovered. He grabbed the dagger in his hand and rushed at Lin Rufei. Lin Rufei also reacted very quickly. He pulled out the wooden shield from his ring and raised his hand to block. When Mo Zhaocai saw the wooden shield, a smile immediately appeared on his face, as if he thought he had a sure victory. However, when the dagger in his hand heavily pierced the wooden shield, he heard the crisp sound of gold ringing and jade breaking. The special dagger in his hand had actually broken into several pieces.

“How, how is that possible!” Mo Zhaocai stared with a pair of big round eyes. It was as if he had seen a ghost as he dazedly looked at the wooden shield in Lin Rufei’s hand. He was stunned, “This wooden shield……”

“It works really well.” Lin Rufei praised, “One spirit stone, you definitely sold it for really cheap.” 

Mo Zhaocai’s face instantly turned red and he gritted his teeth in anger.

“Young master!” At that moment, Fu Hua and Yu Rui both noticed where Lin Rufei was and came towards his side with a happy call. However, just as their swords flew halfway there, the giant blood-colored pupil had landed its sight on their bodies.

“Ah!” In the middle of the air, Yu Rui let out a miserable scream. She was like a bird with broken wings as she fell straight down from the sky. Fu Hua wanted to go catch her, but also suddenly screamed in pain. She then fell at the same time with Yu Rui from mid-air.

Lin Rufei immediately pulled out a rainbow ribbon from his dimensional ring and threw it in the direction of Fu Hua and Yu Rui. The rainbow ribbon flew out and wrapped around the bodies of Fu Hua and Yu Rui and then blossomed into an exaggerated silk flower as it carried the two slowly down to the ground.

Both of them covered their faces with their hands and moaned uncontrollably. He saw traces of blood flowing from their closed eyes as it slowly slid down their cheeks and towards their chins. 

Lin Rufei drew his legs and ran towards the two.

At the same time, the giant pupil that was suspended in mid-air slowly moved and turned its gaze to Fu Hua and Yu Rui, who were lying on the ground and gradually losing consciousness. Lin Rufei also felt the giant pupil’s gaze. He could hardly describe this gaze in words. There was no trace of warmth when it looked at them, like it was looking at lifeless objects. Even the soft hairs on his skin could not help but stand upside down.

“Young master……young master……run.” Fu Hua felt Lin Rufei’s approach and her voice faintly called out, “Run. This thing……can’t be messed with……”

Lin Rufei clenched his teeth and did not speak. He then turned to stare at the giant blood-colored pupil.

Compared to his nervousness, the bandits were extraordinarily excited. They looked at the giant pupil that finally responded and even began to cheer excitedly. Mo Zhaocai was carrying his only backpack as he stood next to the boulder. He sometimes looked at Lin Rufei and sometimes looked at the huge eye. His already thin figure appeared lowly compared to the giant pupil. 

“Finally it’s open, finally it’s open—” Someone cheered.

“It really did need the eyes of an exiled immortal.” Someone screamed, “Quick, quick get in there and see what’s in there—”

“Go, go!” Someone had already pulled out the knife on their back. 

It was like a drunken revelry.

Everyone’s sanity seemed to have been taken away. Their faces also turned red under the illumination of the red light emitted by the giant pupil and there was not a single trace of sanity left in their expressions that a normal person should have. Following the gaze of the giant pupil, all their thinking ability was slowly being swallowed.

The middle of the giant pupil cracked open. A black slit formed and black smoke came pouring out of it. This scene was treacherous and horrific but the bandits who had gone mad were oblivious. They continued to run towards the giant pupil, fearing that they were running too slow.

Mo Zhaocai stood still and his face showed a mixture of hesitation and confusion. He seemed to be thinking whether he should continue to stand or to run with the mountain bandits together towards the giant pupil. 

Finally, someone ran up to the bloody giant pupil and couldn’t wait to stick his hand into the dark crack. He opened his mouth and laughed: “Found it—found it—” His laughter stopped abruptly and then a tooth-aching chewing sound followed.

Crunch, Crunch. The giant pupil seemed to have grown teeth, as it directly chewed the hand that reached into the crack.

“Ahhhhh!!!!!” The man let out a miserable cry and turned to flee but the giant pupil opened even wider and directly swallowed his entire body inside.

The chewing sound was getting louder and louder making anyone who was listening to it feel like their scalp was about to explode.  

But the bandits who heard this horrific sound remained oblivious. They were neither scared nor intimidated and continued to swarm towards the giant pupil, just like moths that flew towards the fire.

The moth’s fragile wings were quickly ignited, turning into a moment of brilliant flame, and then finally, became a dark gray.

Lin Rufei watched this scene and stood silently in place.

One—two—dozens of mountain bandits were all gradually swallowed by the giant pupil.

Mo Zhaocai, who had been standing behind the stone, suddenly let out a cry. He still seemed to have some sanity left. However, he still hesitantly moved his legs and slowly went towards the giant pupil.

Lin Rufei couldn’t hold back his voice: “Don’t go over, you will die!”

Mo Zhaocai looked back and smiled reluctantly. He shook his head and then nodded again, “Lin gongzi, I’m really sorry.”

Lin Rufei exclaimed, “What are you going to do? That thing will kill you!”

So many people died in front of them and besides, Mo Zhaocai obviously still had the ability to think, so how could he want to follow the bandits over?

Mo Zhaocai said, “I, I can’t help it.” He sighed heavily, “I really can’t help it.”

“Of course you can’t help it, who told you to be just a Mo family dog?” A laughing voice suddenly came out from behind Lin Rufei, carrying a nasty tone, “A dog guarding the house has already reached its pinnacle, what else do you want to do?”

Lin Rufei turned around and saw the bandit leader, who should have been killed by Mo Zhaocai’s knife, now squatting on top of the boulder that was behind him—intact. He was looking at everything in front of him with interest, “Don’t you think so, Zhaocai?”

Mo Zhaocai’s lips twitched and for a long time, he remained silent.  

“I know what you want, isn’t it to resurrect that dead bastard, Mo Changshan?” The bandit leader looked at Mo Zhaocai with a tilt of his head and snorted, “But he died so tragically that he didn’t even get his head back. You still want to resurrect him just like that?”

Mo Zhaocai replied lividly, “Mo Changlan, you shut up!”

Once this name came out, the identity of the bandit leader was finally revealed. Not only was he a member of the Mo family, but he also seemed to have a deep connection with the dead Mo Changshan.

Mo Changlan laughed.

Mo Zhaocai looked at him with hatred and Mo Changlan waved his hand indifferently: “Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t do anything to you. Besides, I also promised that as long as you can get that thing in your hand, you will be allowed to make a wish first.”

Mo Zhaocai muttered, “Really?”

“Although I have become a bandit, I will still keep my promise.” Mo Changlan responded, “But you saw what happened before. If you also want to go to your death, I naturally will not stop you.”

The devoured bandits did not even have bones left and all seemed to be pointing towards disaster if Mo Zhaocai decided to go. However, he still went forward. Facing the huge blood pupil, he gritted his teeth and continued on. As he got closer and closer to the giant pupil, his ears were actually flooded with a thin whisper. The whispering voice was familiar and Mo Zhaocai’s eyes widened in shock: “Young……young master?”

“Is it young master?” Mo Zhaocai asked, “Is it young master talking?”

No one knew what he heard but his emotions instantly rose, “Young master, I’m here, I’m here to save you! You don’t have to suffer anymore!” After he uttered these words, a happy smile hung on his face and his steps grew a little faster.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. What a pity.” Mo Changlan stood by Lin Rufei’s side. He didn’t have the intention to make a move on him and simply sigh. Only this sigh contained no trace of emotion, it was indifferent, like a passing spectator.

In the end, Lin Rufei didn’t know what the relationship between Mo Changlan and Mo Zhaocai was, and how he appeared in the bandit fortress on the Xiliang Mountains. He only knew that it must have been Mo Zhaocai who played some tricks to kill Mo Changlan in front of himself under false pretenses.

Seeing Lin Rufei look over, Mo Changlan laughed: “Beautiful, if you look at me with such eyes, I will not be able to control myself.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Control?”

Mo Changlan responded, “Appetite and lust are only natural.[1]“

Lin Rufei said, “Your right hand doesn’t hurt anymore?” That hand was smashed to pieces by his shield. Don’t be fooled by this Mo Changlan’s dashing looks, in fact, this whole time his right hand did not move. It was probably a heavy injury. 

Mo Changlan clenched his teeth, “……It doesn’t hurt anymore!”

Lin Rufei waved the wooden shield in his hand: “Then should I help you review it again?”

Mo Changlan couldn’t help but take a step back. This Lin gongzi, although he was born with a soft and weak look and looked like he was easily bullied, only those who have been smashed by him knew how much it hurt. He was someone that used to be a sword cultivator and this smack from Lin Rufei’s shield had shattered his whole hand into pieces. He didn’t know how long it would take to heal. 

Seeing that Mo Changlan did not say anything after that, Lin Rufei returned his attention to Mo Zhaocai. Mo Zhaocai moved forward step by step and was almost at the giant pupil.

The giant pupil had swallowed dozens of people and the black crack seemed to have vaguely expanded. The rich smell of blood, that was being emitted from inside, could even vaguely be detected by Lin Rufei.

The fear on Mo Zhaocai’s face gradually faded and it had begun to turn into the madness and obsession seen on the mountain bandits a while ago. He stared at the giant pupil in front of him with a gentle look, as if he was looking at his long-lost old friend.

Mo Zhaocai’s footsteps finally stopped before the giant pupil. As long as he raised his hand, he would be able to reach into the gap.

Lin Rufei frowned and he seemed to have seen how Mo Zhaocai would end up. Mo Changlan also sighed slightly. The two did not speak and both their expressions were slightly gloomy. 

However, when Mo Zhaocai slowly raised his hand to reach into it, it seemed like he was pulled by something. His feet stumbled and he failed to stand properly as he fell to the ground. Because of his posture, his whole body fell onto the backpack behind him. The backpack made a crunching sound and it seemed that something broke inside. When Mo Zhaocai heard the noise, his face changed dramatically. He panicked, dragged over the backpack, and hurriedly opened it. 

Lin Rufei had always been curious about what was inside that backpack. Now that Mo Zhaocai unpacked the backpack, he was able to see.

It was a black wooden box wrapped extraordinarily tight. Its length and width were about two feet and it was wrapped in layers of soft cloth, so most likely the inside was filled with fragile goods.

Mo Zhaocai took out the box. After finding that the wooden box had a broken corner because of his fall, his expression became extremely ugly.  

He carefully opened a corner of the box. After making sure that the contents inside were not broken, he released a long breath and muttered, “Luckily, luckily……luckily it’s okay.” As he muttered out these words, he gently stroked the wooden box in front of him and a thin layer of moisture gathered in his eyes, “That scared……me to death.”

When Mo Changlan saw Mo Zhaocai’s action, his face sank and he coldly uttered: “I didn’t expect him to actually find it.” 

He didn’t know exactly what Mo Zhaocai found in the end, but it actually made Mo Changlan’s body release a strong killing aura. As Lin Rufei was wondering, he noticed Mo Zhaocai gently take out the thing from the wooden box.

It was surprisingly a human head. The head was still in the shape of a teenager and was no different from the shape of a normal person. Its eyes were closed, as if it had just fallen into a deep sleep.

“F**k.” Mo Changlan cursed, “How could Mo Changshan raise such an obedient dog.”

These words made people feel very uncomfortable. Lin Rufei frowned after hearing this and glared at him.

Mo Changlan felt a little guilty from Lin Rufei’s glare and his momentum instantly weakened by a few points. He explained, “I didn’t curse at anyone. This Mo Zhaocai is one of Mo Changshan’s dogs!”

Lin Rufei was expressionless: “Saying that people are dogs is not considered cursing?”

Mo Changlan said, “Naturally it is……but Mo Zhaocai is different, he was originally a dog!”

Lin Rufei continued unhappily, “And you still say you’re not cursing.”

Mo Changlan was dumbfounded by this and wasn’t able to say to refute for a long time. Finally, he helplessly waved his left hand: “Forget it, forget it. I’m too lazy to explain to you.” Logically speaking, if they were to say that Lin Rufei did not have sword Qi on his body, he shouldn’t be afraid of him. However, he didn’t know if it was because of the shield incident but now Mo Changlan looked at the little gongzi, who was gentle as jade, with some fear. 

There was no doubt that the head held in Mo Zhaocai’s hand at this time, was the Mo family’s eldest son, Mo Changshan, who had died. Even though he had been dead for some years, his reputation was still widespread. As long as the Mo family was mentioned, they would know his name and then sigh in pity.

Lin Rufei had also heard of the name Mo Changshan.

More than ten years ago, this name usually appeared together with Lin Bianyu. The people knew that above the western mountains, there were twin stars; one star for Jade (Yu) and the second star for Mountain (Shan). This referred to Lin Bianyu and Mo Changshan. Mo Changshan was about the same age as Lin Bianyu and had the same outstanding talent.

Unfortunately, God was jealous of his talent[2] and he did not live past his sixteenth birthday.

That year, the Kunlun Sword Sect sent out invitations to the world’s most powerful people to come to the sword competition. Mo Changshan was invited to go but he was cut off halfway. After the Mo family learned of the incident, they immediately sent people to search for him. They searched for more than twenty days when they finally found Mo Changshan’s body in a stream a hundred miles away from Kunlun. 

He was still holding a sword and was half kneeling on the edge of the stream. The blood on his body had long dried and it was empty above his neck—someone had killed Mo Changshan and cut off his head cleanly.

The Mo family was outraged by this and put out a heavy reward for the murderer.

However, ten years have passed and the murderer was still missing.

It should be expected. After all, this person was able to quietly take away Mo Changshan and kill the genius unsuspectingly, so his life probably couldn’t be bought by money. The Mo family gradually declined and the murder case that had shocked Jianghu at the time, also gradually faded away. People were forgetful. With the passage of time, people began to gradually forget the name Mo Changshan as well as the bloodshed that year. Plus, with the fall of the Mo family, no one asked about the matter again.

These were Yu Rui and Lin Rufei’s private talk. The maids on the mountains have nothing to do so they always love to listen to some interesting stories. Mo Changshan’s story, for others, may also be called interesting, but this interest was mixed with a little sigh. People couldn’t help but fantasize that if Mo Changshan was still alive, would he have become a powerful swordsman like the second son of the Lin family, Lin Bianyu? 

Unfortunately, the deceased eventually turned to earth and the past became untraceable.

Mo Zhaocai held Mo Changshan’s head in his arms and slowly helped him tidy up his hair, which was a bit messy.

When Mo Changlan saw this, he averted his gaze and cursed lowly.

Lin Rufei’s mood was also very complicated. He looked at Mo Zhaocai and a sigh surfaced in his heart. The Mo family spent so much effort that year but also did not find Mo Changshan’s head. No one knew how much work it took or how many methods were used for this servant in front of him, called Mo Zhaocai, to find his master’s head. Looking at his age, it seemed that he wasn’t too old. He was most likely still a child when Mo Changshan had died. Even though he did something against him, Lin Rufei still wanted to praise his perseverance and courage.

“Young master, Zhaocai will try, don’t you worry.” Mo Zhaocai straightened his master’s hair and whispered, “Zhaocai is of little use, this is the only way.”

He was too weak, weak to the point of humility. He didn’t know the art of the sword nor was he able to find magic treasures. If he continued like this, he would never be able to resurrect Mo Changshan. The blood pupil in front of him was his only chance.

That year, the Heavenly Ruler arrived in the west on his sword, from the Xiliang Mountains along the Canglan River all the way to Kunlun. Since then no one knew where he went but rumor had it that when he passed by the Xiliang Mountains, he had dropped a blood-colored object, which could fulfill a wish of a mortal.

Every legend had a basis, Mo Zhaocai firmly believed so.

“Mo Zhaocai, don’t go there! You’ll die!” When Lin Rufei saw him regain his stance as he put the head back into the wooden box, he shouted, “That man-eating thing, how can it be a treasure?!!!”

Mo Zhaocai turned back to Lin Rufei. His face showed some embarrassment as he scratched his head and smiled guiltily, “Lin gongzi, in fact, that shield is a fake. I just found a random piece of wood on the roadside that had yet to be pierced by a sword. The materials also included raw iron……the particularly brittle kind.”  

Lin Rufei asked: “It’s really fake?”

Mo Zhaocai responded: “Naturally—”

Lin Rufei continued, “Then why did this Mo Changlan’s hand get shattered?”

Mo Zhaocai froze and only after a long time did he respond, “Maybe because he’s a straw bag waste.”

(t/n: refresher, straw bag = idiot)

Mo Changlan glared in anger and the murderous aura on his body swept out in layers, yet neither Lin Rufei nor Mo Zhaocai seemed to feel it. Finally, he also ran out of steam, sighed, and touched his still broken right arm.

“Anyway……anyway……that shield is really fake.” As Mo Zhaocai said these words, he then remembered his dagger that was just broken by Lin Rufei. Suddenly, he was confused and muttered, “It’s fake, right? It’s fake, right? Damn, could it be that old Wang actually used the real thing to fool me…….”

A smile surfaced in Lin Rufei’s eyes but he quickly suppressed it, “I don’t care whether it’s real or fake. As long as it works.” He didn’t know what Gu Xuandu would think if he knew that he still couldn’t use his sword well, but was already able to use the shield so skillfully. 

Mo Zhaocai showed a helpless expression: “Okay. But, I just wanted to remind you. Just don’t meet a tough nut to crack.” He put the backpack down and said seriously, “Lin gongzi, if I die, can you please do me a favor?”

Lin Rufei responded immediately, “No.”

Mo Zhaocai stared at him, “Why?”

Lin Rufei said, “I never help dead people, it’s bad luck. If you want to do something, do it yourself.”

Mo Zhaocai sighed, “I just want to trouble you to bury me and gongzi together……”

Lin Rufei retorted, “That eye eats people without spitting out bones, what do I bury?”

Mo Zhaocai thought about it and found his words to be quite reasonable. In the end, he fished out his bone knife, cut off a lock of his own hair, and placed it next to Mo Changshan’s head, laughing, “It’s OK now, right?”

Lin Rufei couldn’t understand why he chose to die: “Why are you so stubborn—”

Mo Zhaocai laughed: “Lin gongzi, you don’t understand. I am just a dog of the Mo family. I have a lowly life. To be able to live until now, I owe it all to Da Gongzi. So as long as Da Gongzi can come back to life, I am willing to try any method.” 

After he finished speaking, he knelt down and made a big salute to Lin Rufei, “Thank you in advance, Lin gongzi.”

After saying that, he reached his hand into the blood pupil’s black slit.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: You didn’t come online today either. 

Gu Xuandu: If I said I did, would you believe me? 

Lin Rufei: Where?

Gu Xuandu: Guess~

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

[1] “By nature we desire food and sex,” he is saying that eating and sex is the same thing and that it is natural to crave for it. 

[2] those whom the Gods love die young; heaven is jealous of the heroic genius; the great have great hardship to contend with. 

Chapter 39: Zhaocai, Zhaocai

Mo Zhaocai’s hand reached into the giant pupil and his face showed some surprise. However, the surprise did not last for long and it instantly turned into stunned fear. The ear-piercing chewing sounded again and Mo Zhaocai, like those mountain bandits, was sucked directly into the blood pupil by a huge force.

There was no miracle. Mo Changlan was not surprised and even snorted indifferently.

The giant pupil ate Mo Zhaocai and its iris turned slightly. Its gaze then fell on Lin Rufei and Mo Changlan’s bodies. Lin Rufei didn’t know if it was his imagination, but he actually felt that the giant pupil was thinking, thinking about whether to swallow him and Mo Changlan whole.

Mo Changlan also felt threatened and his expression became slightly nervous. However, in front of such a huge thing, the resistance of mortals was useless.

Lin Rufei was not interested in the “so-called” legend and there was also no particular wish he wanted to come true. However, he knew that the thing Gu Xuandu wanted, should be this thing in front of him.

The atmosphere was stagnant for a long time.

Mo Changlan seemed to have finally made up his mind as he secretly clenched his teeth, like he made some kind of determination. He took a deep breath and like Mo Zhaocai, slowly walked towards the giant pupil.

Knowing that it was a death sentence, there were still people who went after it. It was this terminal disease called “desire.”

Lin Rufei ignored him. He took out the talismans from his ring, turned around, and stuck it on Fu Hua and Yu Rui. The two maids had their eyes closed and seemed to have lost consciousness. Their faces were still stained with blood and it didn’t look good at all. The talismans emitted a faint light as it brought their bodies up from the ground and slowly flew away into the distance. He didn’t know what would happen next and thought it would be safer to send the two of them away in advance.

After Lin Rufei did all that, he looked back again and Mo Changlan was already standing in front of the giant pupil. At his feet, he placed the head of his own brother, Mo Changshan, onto the ground.

“Who would have thought that the Mo family, which was calling the shots back then, could fall to this miserable state today.” Mo Changlan murmured in a deep voice, “Our family’s talented people; those who died are dead, those who are injured are wounded and finally, the only one left became a bandit…….” 

The giant pupil stared at Mo Changlan indifferently and was also indifferent to his words.

“But I, Mo Changlan, don’t believe in fate!” Mo Changlan hissed, “I have been looking for you for more than ten years. Since you are finally willing to show up today, even if I die, I will die in your hands!”

He had sought out this huge pupil for more than ten years, but he could never make it appear. It wasn’t until later when someone gave him pointers. 

“When a person dies, the soul is condensed in the eyes. Just take advantage of their last breath and dig out their eyes as a sacrifice, then the thing will be drawn out.” The witch with the black snake in his arms said, “After it comes out, take out what is inside, then your wishes would be fulfilled. But the higher the cultivation of the person’s eyes, the more it can attract it. What it likes most, are the eyes of an exiled immortal……”

Mo Changlan believed him. He had to believe because he had no other method.

Luckily, the witch did not deceive him. After he lured the two level five exiled immortals to this place, the blood pupil was finally lured out and now the last thing to do was to put his hand into the blood pupil.

Mo Changlan stood in front of the blood pupil and for the first time, there was some unspeakable fear. However, the desire to achieve his wish finally prevailed.

Lin Rufei watched from afar, watching Mo Changlan, like Mo Zhaocai, reach his hand towards the black slit of the blood pupil. But before he reached out, he seemed to have put something in his hand, as a result, he was different from the others and wasn’t directly swallowed by the blood pupil.

When Mo Changlan saw this situation, his face surfaced with a little joy. He wiggled his arm around, like he was constantly groping the inside of the blood pupil.

Time passed little by little and the smile on Mo Changlan’s face began to fade away. His face became pale and cold sweat surfaced on his forehead.

“How can……this be……” He muttered under his breath, as if in a state of madness, “How can this be.” He lowered his head in despair and looked at his arm, “How can it be empty……”

The appalling blood color began to spread down his arm towards his body and the blood pupil finally devoured his flesh and blood. However, it had left his bones behind. His eyes were wide open and right in front of Lin Rufei, he quickly turned into a withered skeleton. 

Lin Rufei saw all of this clearly. Mo Changlan without his flesh and blood was like the weathered rocks that rustled and broke down. His round skull rolled to the side and hit the wooden box that contained Mo Changshan’s head.

It was a different route to the same destination

Almost all of the people present were gone and at this time the cliff was empty. Lin Rufei stood in place as the whistling mountain wind blew his shirt hem into a rustle.

The blood pupil turned its attention to Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei should have been afraid, but after removing the initial sense of fright, his heart was actually incomparably calm. The giant pupil stared at him and he also looked at the blood giant pupil. No words were exchanged between the two.

“I have nothing to wish for.” Lin Rufei tentatively said, “You can go.”

The giant pupil didn’t move.

“You have eaten so many people, it should be enough.” Lin Rufei remembered that Gu Xuandu once said that this thing wouldn’t hurt him, whether that was true or not, he did not know. 

The black slit in the center of the giant pupil widened and instead of retreating, it pressed slowly towards Lin Rufei. Although the speed was very slow, it was indeed approaching Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei turned and ran, but before he could make it a few steps, he somehow hit an invisible wall and was forced to stop. He had just successfully sent his maids out, but how come it didn’t work now that it was his turn? Lin Rufei was a bit distressed.

The giant pupil had completely covered the entire sky and the overwhelming sense of oppression made people feel like they were just a tiny mole[1].

Lin Rufei saw that he could not run away, so he simply did not run away. He turned around and looked at the giant pupil with a sad face, “I really don’t have anything that I want.” His desire was extremely light and what he loved the most, was only to see more of the world’s mountains and rivers and to have more time fiddling with a few of the gadgets from the marketplaces. Even the ability to wield a sword was no longer something he had high expectations for. 

The giant pupil didn’t listen in the slightest and was now almost pressed against Lin Rufei’s front.

Lin Rufei was helpless: “Isn’t this trade using coercion?” This giant pupil treated others coldly, how come when it came to him, it was eager to stick its body closer? 

Lin Rufei was squeezed to a corner and really couldn’t retreat. If he stretched out his hand, he would reach the black slit.

Lin Rufei was speechless. Finally, he frowned and sighed: “Okay, okay.” He would believe Gu Xuandu one more time; believe that this thing would not hurt him. However, even if he didn’t believe it, there seemed to be no other way.  

Helplessly, Lin Rufei was forced to slowly put his hand into the giant pupil.

There were so many miserable examples before him. In the moment when Lin Rufei reached his hand in, his heart was still a little anxious. However, these anxieties soon turned into doubts.

Lin Rufei did not feel anything. His hand seemed to be exploring a void as there was no sense of touch. He tentatively stretched his hand a bit more inside and finally touched something different.

Sticky, moist, as if it were……undried bloodstains.

Lin Rufei’s movements paused slightly and his brows knitted tightly together. His hand touched a cold stone platform and on top of the stone platform, there was a layer of wetness. Needless to say, it was a very bad feeling to touch with your hands when you couldn’t see anything because you couldn’t exactly tell what you were touching and the fear of the unknown simply made people’s hair stand up.

The good thing was that the stone platform wasn’t too big and Lin Rufei quickly touched something. He really didn’t want to carefully describe the touch in his hand because the touch was really creepy.

It was a small round ball—soft and sticky—and when it was pinched, there was some soft elasticity, like……an eyeball.

That was right, it was an eyeball.

Lin Rufei’s expression froze, but he still clenched his teeth and gently held the tiny round ball with his hand. What he feared the most did not happen. He was neither sucked directly into the giant pupil like Mo Zhaocai nor was he gnawed directly into a withered skeleton like Mo Changlan. Getting what was placed inside the giant pupil was like a breeze. 

Lin Rufei held his breath and finally managed to remove the object from inside the giant pupil. The moment he took the object out, the giant pupil let out a crisp, shattering sound.

The black slit began to distort and twist and the giant pupil hovering in mid-air let out a loud bang before it began to retreat rapidly.

When it retreated to a certain location, a river of blood started gushing out of the slit. Countless spherical objects interspersed in the blood rushed towards Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei was alarmed and turned to flee. However, Gu Xuandu, who had disappeared for a long time, suddenly appeared. And with a wave of his long sleeves, he blocked the river of blood directly outside of them by one foot.

“Senior!” When Lin Rufei saw him, he called out joyfully.

Gu Xuandu smiled, “Thank you for your hard work.”

After the blood pupil in the sky gushed out the blood river, it began to crumble and break. Finally, its shape gradually faded away, turning into a blood mist, and completely dissipating.

Only then did Lin Rufei have the effort to look carefully at what he was holding. It was indeed an eyeball and it was lying quietly in his hand. The black pupil seemed to have life as it gently gazed at him. Gently? When this word popped up in Lin Rufei’s head, he also felt incredulous. 

Lin Rufei lost his smile and just thought that he was infected with madness[2].

“Scared?” Gu Xuandu turned around and walked to Lin Rufei’s side.

Lin Rufei shook his head. His hands were now covered with blood and he was in a mess, but it was good that Gu Xuandu got what he wanted, “Is this the thing suppressing senior’s divine soul?”

Gu Xuandu nodded, “Yes.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Can it really grant wishes?”

Gu Xuandu wandered curiously, “Who said that?”

Lin Rufei spread his hands: “They all said so. The Mo Zhaocai that we met before wanted to use this thing to revive his master.”

Gu Xuandu lost his smile: “It’s just an eyeball, if it can revive people, why would we need……” He only said half of the words, then changed the subject, “You’re not hurt, right?”

“No.” Lin Rufei shook his head, “It really didn’t hurt me.” He said and handed the eye to Gu Xuandu.

Gu Xuandu was not polite either and directly reached out to take the object. But strangely enough, once the eyeball entered Gu Xuandu’s hand, it was like cold water that entered a frying pan. It directly swirled Gu Xuandu’s soul away layer by layer, provoking Gu Xuandu’s body shape to twist and change.

Seeing Lin Rufei’s worried look, Gu Xuandu shook his head slightly to indicate that he was fine.

Such changes continued for a long time and only when the sky turned bright did Gu Xuandu’s figure stabilize again. However, at that time, compared with the previous him, his body seemed to have undergone some subtle changes. It was as if the ink painting that had been washed away by rain was once again filled in by a skilled painter with the brush and ink—there were a few more spiritual charms to it. 

And then they looked at the surrounding scenery. The original rocky cliffs have also changed back to their usual appearance, with many trees and lush weeds. Dozens of mountain bandits’ bodies were lying all over the place, among which the most eye-catching was Mo Changlan, who had already turned into white bones, and the wooden box beside him.

Lin Rufei remembered the agreement Mo Zhaocai made with him before he died and took a few steps forward to pick up the wooden box.

Inside the wooden box, Mo Changshan’s eyes were closed like he was in a deep sleep. There was a lock of hair placed beside it which was left by Mo Zhaocai. Lin Rufei was sighing when he noticed a large dog’s body lying not too far away. He held the wooden box and walked a few steps forward to see the dog’s appearance.

This was not a beautiful dog. It was very ordinary-looking, disheveled, thin, and bony. It was the most common kind of wild dog in the countryside. Its curled-up body that fell into the grass was already lifeless and Lin Rufei noticed that on its neck, a small wooden plate hung. He squatted down and gently turned it over only to see that on the wooden plate, there were two words carved stroke by stroke……Zhaocai. 

(t/n: it’s two characters in Chinese)

It turned out that the name of this dog was Zhaocai. Ah, it was really a vulgar name.

Lin Rufei reached out and touched its not-so-soft fur and sighed.

Everything had a spirit and so did the dog. Perhaps even Mo Changshan himself didn’t think that the dog he raised remembered him for his whole life. For dogs, the master was its everything. Mo Zhaocai died for Mo Changshan; it could be considered that he had fulfilled his wish. It was a pity that the dead have passed like this and couldn’t be restored. In the end, Mo Changshan still wasn’t able to come back to life.

While thinking, Lin Rufei took out the wooden shield from his ring again.

When Gu Xuandu saw him doing this, he wondered, “What is Xiao Jiu doing?”

Lin Rufei said, “Digging a hole to bury them.”

Gu Xuandu thought it was very strange: “Why are you using a wooden shield to dig a pit?”

Lin Rufei: “If I don’t use a shield then what should I use?”

Gu Xuandu replied quite frankly: “Gu Yu, hanging on your waist, is very good to use, ah.”

Lin Rufei glared: “Using Gu Yu to dig a pit……is recklessly wasting God’s good gift!” As if echoing his words, Gu Yu buzzed and simply wanted to fly up to give Gu Xuandu a slap with its scabbard.

However, Gu Xuandu was not the slightest bit afraid. His expression did not change, “No worries. I even use it as a burning stick to make fire, it has long been used to it.” 

Lin Rufei: “……”

Gu Yu: “……”

Finally, Lin Rufei closed his mouth and silently focused on using his wooden shield to dig a pit for Mo Changshan and Mo Zhaocai. There were beasts in the mountains so the pit that he was going to use to bury them still had to be dug deeper. Otherwise, in a few days, the bodies would be dug out and eaten clean. Lin Rufei dug the pit and also asked Gu Xuandu to see if his maids had woken up. A while ago, he used a talisman to send them both out, but now he didn’t know how the situation was over there.

Gu Xuandu didn’t even leave when he said that the two people had just suffered some damage to their eyes and that there was no serious injury. Lin Rufei worriedly asked whether their vision would be affected.

“It would definitely be affected.” Gu Xuandu answered, “But not so much as to go blind. The two of them have cultivated, after nursing for half a month they should recover.” 

Only then, was Lin Rufei finally completely at ease.

Lin Rufei dug a hole and carefully placed the wooden box and Mo Zhaocai’s remains together before burying them with soil. He then carved the wooden shield Mo Zhaocai had sold him with the names of the two people and inserted it on the grave.

After doing all this, he patted his hands to get rid of the soil and told Gu Xuandu that they were leaving. 

Gu Xuandu thoughtfully looked at the grave but did not say anything. He turned around, followed Lin Rufei, and left.

When Lin Rufei found Fu Hua and Yu Rui, the two had yet to wake up. Lin Rufei felt some heartache when he looked at the residual blood marks on their faces. He pulled out a silk handkerchief, bent down to wipe the traces gently clean, and started a campfire next to the two. It was used to warm them as well as roasting some dry food to eat. 

When he did these things, Gu Xuandu had been watching. Lin Rufei nibbled a mouthful of dry food and drank water to moisten his throat. He called out, “Senior.”

Gu Xuandu: “Hmm?”

Lin Rufei asked slowly: “Now that we have the item in hand, you should explain to me what it really is, right?”

Just as Gu Xuandu was about to speak, Lin Rufei added: “I’ve worked so hard, you wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”

Gu Xuandu almost choked on Lin Rufei’s words and coughed dryly before responding in a low voice, “Why would I lie to you?”

Lin Rufei looked at him seriously, “Then tell me.”

Gu Xuandu sighed, “This is something left behind when the Heavenly Ruler passed by this place……nothing special.”

This statement was the same as what Mo Changlan had said. Lin Rufei suspiciously looked at Gu Xuandu: “Something left by the Heavenly Ruler? Why would the Heavenly Ruler leave behind an eye?” It would be fine if it was some kind of magical treasure, but leaving an eyeball was simply too bizarre.

Gu Xuandu innocently replied: “This I do not know. I am not that laborious Heavenly Ruler. Who knows how he thinks, perhaps he had nothing better to do……” 

Lin Rufei still didn’t believe him. This Gu Xuandu had lived for a long time so there were naturally a lot of things he knew. However, at this time he was very vague, making it quite obvious that he was hiding something. 

Lin Rufei then looked at Gu Xuandu and asked seriously, “Senior is not willing to say because he thinks I can’t be trusted?”

Gu Xuandu’s expression turned helpless. He pulled out Shuang Jiang and ignored its uncontrollable buzzing as he poked the fire in front of him: “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that I don’t even know myself so how can I explain it for you to understand?” He said this in a very small voice, with an expression that looked like he was lacking breath—it was very difficult to convince people. 

Lin Rufei knew he was reluctant to talk about it so in the end, he had to give up. However, he was still a bit sullen since he always felt that Gu Xuandu was hiding something very important.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui did not wake up until noon. When they woke up, their eyes couldn’t see anything. The two of them heard Lin Rufei say that he was fine and only then did they proceed to cry with joy. However, the tears were scarlet tears of blood. Lin Rufei’s heart trembled when he caught a glimpse of this scene and he quickly stuffed a corn candy in both of their mouths to make them smile. 

According to Gu Xuandu, Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s eyes would take at least half a month to fully recover. However, they were currently in the mountains and didn’t even have a place to rest. What was worse was that because of the previous incident, they had lost their horses and guide. No village ahead and no inn behind[3],  it was like a miserable wilderness survival.

Fortunately, Lin Rufei had an idea. With his memory, he led them back to the bandits’ den on the mountain.

The elites of the bandit den were all killed in the hands of the giant pupil last night so the den was now empty. Only the old and sick, who had little fighting ability, were left. Gu Xuandu understood tacitly and easily solved the group of people. Lin Rufei cleaned out a few rooms and intended to stay here until Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s eyes recovered before making further plans. 

The two of them felt very guilty that they had not only failed to help, but also caused trouble for their young master.

Lin Rufei had to comfort the two. After saying a number of words, did the two put down the knots in their heart. He also took the time to send a letter to his brothers and sister to report his well-being. The biggest charm of Jianghu was that you couldn’t guess what would happen next. If everything went by the book, he might as well stay on the Kunlun Mountains and eat delicious rice cakes every day.

The Xiliang Mountains had always been a ruthless place. After some days, dozens of corpses would disappear completely. As for the grave with the tombstone inserted—the witch holding the black snake stopped his footsteps in front of it.

The witch, with a white scarf wrapped around his head, revealed only a pair of dark eyes. He crouched down halfway and noticed the words etched on the tombstone.

Mo Changshan, Mo Zhaocai; they were familiar names. A smile surfaced in his eyes. He raised his hand and waved and the soil in front of him flew in all directions, revealing the deeply buried wooden box and the body of the dog.

The witch reached in, took the wooden box out, opened it, and saw the well-preserved head inside.

This was a beautiful head, even after so many years of death, it was no different from the living. Most likely, the person who preserved it spent a lot of effort. The witch suddenly revealed a smile. He raised his hand and sent out the black snake in his hand. The black snake hissed and slowly crawled on top of the head. It circled around the cheeks a few times and then back onto the witch’s hand. One could see that above the forehead, a circle of black patterns appeared, and then just like a flash, it disappeared.  

“Mo Changshan, the son of the Mo family. A sword cuts through ten thousand swelling water and a thousand miles can not be pursued as it remembers the cold sword intent…….It really is a great head.” The witch’s voice was strange and incomparable. One couldn’t tell whether the voice was male or female nor could they tell the age. He let out a shrill laugh and reached out his hand to point at the center of Mo Changshan’s forehead.

(t/n: Uhhh, even though one couldn’t tell his gender, the pronoun used here is “he” @.@)

The next moment, Mo Changshan, who had been dead for ten years, actually opened his eyes. Only these eyes were dull and lifeless as it stared silently ahead.

The witch hummed a tune. He happily held the head in his arms and turned away, leaving behind the dug-up grave. The dead dog in the grave, however, seemed to have died without having time to close its eyes.

At this time, Lin Rufei, who was in the den, squatted in front of a campfire with a concerned look. In front, an iron pot was cooking. He looked at the ingredients in his hand and was torn: “Am I supposed to put the vegetables first or the meat first, ah.”

Gu Xuandu was peeling a huge peanut with Shuang Jiang and when he heard Lin Rufei ask, he said without looking back, “Put it in together!”

Lin Rufei let out an “oh,” and without hesitation, he threw in all the ingredients in his hand.

Gu Xuandu suddenly frowned and cursed, “What a nuisance.”

Lin Rufei, “Hmm?”

Gu Xuandu tsked, “I’m just scolding the wild dog on the mountain that didn’t grow eyes.” He dared to rummage through everything.

Lin Rufei, however, was unable to make sense of it.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: You really didn’t lie to me?

Gu Xuandu: I never lie.

Lin Rufei: Really?

Gu Xuandu: No.

Lin Rufei: …………..

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

[1] tiny individuals with no power. 

[2] The original word here was “deranged mind” however, it doesn’t really fit so I used “madness.” 

[3] to be stranded in the middle of nowhere; to be in a predicament. 
Please support the Author by buying the Raws

Chapter 40: Old Friend from Nanyin

Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s eyes have not yet healed so the task of cooking fell onto Lin Rufei. He had been pampered for twenty years as he stared at the pots, pans, and bowls currently in front of him. Gu Xuandu, a senior who had lived for hundreds of years, was no better than him and even tried to help Lin Rufei. In the end, the two of them worked together and succeeded in making food that was completely inedible.

Lin Rufei knew for the first time that chicken soup could be stewed so badly……

“How did this chicken get stewed like this?” Lin Rufei looked at the boiling iron pot in front of him with concern. Other people’s chicken stew was fragrant but the result of his stew was strange. Let alone putting it into the mouth, just the smell alone could make people feel sick to the stomach. 

“Maybe it’s a different breed of chicken.” Gu Xuandu pretended to be calm as he analyzed with a serious face, “I think it must be because this chicken was raised in the bandit den and ended up being tainted with banditry……”

Lin Rufei stared with wide eyes as he listened to Gu Xuandu’s nonsense.

Maybe because Lin Rufei’s stare was too obvious, Gu Xuandu laughed embarrassingly: “How about we eat something else?” 

In the end, they could only eat something else. Lin Rufei, however, was lost in thought; if Yu Rui drank this chicken soup, not only would it not nourish her body, he might also have to go down the mountain to find a doctor for the two…… 

Only after a long time did Lin Rufei learn why the chicken soup he stewed turned out like this—he took a whole chicken and stuffed it directly into the iron pot, including the chicken’s innards. In other words, he stewed chicken poop and other things with the chicken, only a ghost would find it delicious. 

The two people, who failed at cooking, had to make do with what they had and they ate dry food for about ten days. Lin Rufei ate to the point that his eyes emitted a green light[1] before the two maids finally regained their eyesight.

On the night of their recovery, Fu Hua went to the mountain fortress and caught some rabbits before roasting them for Lin Rufei to add to the meal. The rabbits in the mountains were very fatty. After they were marinated, Fu Hua sprinkled it with her special seasoning and roasted it over the fire as the oil bubbled up. A rich meat fragrance scattered off, making Lin Rufei gulp. He was usually not too fond of meat, but after so many days of eating raw and hard dry food, he had some craving for meat.

Fu Hua smiled and cut up the rabbit meat and handed it to Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei happily ate it and Gu Xuandu, the not-so-reliable senior, stood next to him, asking sourly, “Delicious?”

Lin Rufei nodded.

Gu Xuandu said, “I want to eat it too.”

Lin Rufei said righteously, “This rabbit was raised in a bandit den, so I’m afraid it’s not a righteous rabbit.”

Gu Xuandu: “……” This grudge-holding little guy. 

When Fu Hua and Yu Rui heard this, they were unable to make sense of it and they didn’t know why Lin Rufei suddenly said such a sentence. 

Lin Rufei continued: “But it doesn’t matter whether it is righteous or not as long as it’s delicious.” After saying that, he smiled and took another bite.

Gu Xuandu looked at Lin Rufei for quite a while and he simply had no words for him. He was angry to the point of grinding his teeth, but he could not find words to refute. When Lin Rufei saw his rare defeated look, he rejoiced in his misfortune.

The four of them went on the road again after Fu Hua and Yu Rui recovered. Although they lost the horses they were riding before, fortunately, there were still many horses in the bandit den and it was enough for them to use.

But there was a very troublesome problem, they no longer had Zhaocai and they simply did not know the way. The Xiliang Mountains were so big, even with the sword, it would take about ten days. If they were to aimlessly walk, they don’t know how long it would take for them to finally leave the mountains.

Gu Xuandu volunteered though. He said he knew the way around the Xiliang Mountains and so Lin Rufei decided to believe him once again.

Thus, they walked about halfway until they saw a striking main road and only then did Lin Rufei relax.   

Gu Xuandu found that after a long period of time, his prestige as a senior was increasingly losing its worth. He was a bit gloomy as he asked: “Xiao Jiu, why don’t you believe me? I am your senior…….come, call it for me to hear?” 

Lin Rufei’s eyes were forward and he didn’t pay attention to him at all. 

Gu Xuandu: “Are you ignoring me?”

Lin Rufei slowly said: “The day is really hot.”

“Is young master hot? Do you want to reduce a layer of clothing?” Yu Rui thought her young master was talking to her so she chewed a corn candy and replied vaguely, “The mountains are getting hotter and hotter and I don’t know how much longer we have to travel……”

Lin Rufei, however, did not speak again.

Gu Xuandu sighed, “You’re really going to ignore me, huh?”

Seeing that Lin Rufei did not say anything, Gu Xuandu turned around and climbed onto the horse behind Lin Rufei. He came up to Lin Rufei’s ear and murmured eerily, “Has Xiao Jiu heard the story of the Severed Head Buddha?”

At this time, it was getting late. It was now dusk and the mountain wind was bitterly cold as it rustled the numerous treetops.  

Then Gu Xuandu told a story that forced cold air into Lin Rufei’s ear.

He said that one day, a scholar was in a hurry to go to take the examination and was rushing through the Xiliang Mountains at night. However, it suddenly began to rain heavily and he happened to come across a broken temple on the side of the road, as a result, he went into the temple to escape from the rain. The broken temple was in disrepair and the scholar noticed a broken Buddha statue after entering through the door. It was in tatters, especially the head that had been cut off by a sharp instrument and was missing. The scholar was a little scared but the rain outside was too heavy, so he had to hide in the corner of the temple, intending to make do with it for the night. The scholar was very tired, so very quickly, he fell asleep. However, in his sleep, he saw a man in a robe bowing to him, begging him for alms. The scholar said yes in his sleepiness and fell back into a deep sleep again.

The next day, the weather was Sunny. The scholar opened his eyes in a daze and found that his position had moved. He was no longer lying in the corner and was actually floating in mid-air. Lowering his head, he was able to see the whole temple. He suddenly noticed a familiar person lying in the corner of the temple. He looked carefully and found that the person lying there was actually himself! And his head seemed to have been cut off by someone and only half of his body remained. The scholar was horrified. He then looked towards his own body only to find that his head was actually pressed onto the neck of the Buddha statue.

As Gu Xuandu finished his last sentence, an evil wind picked up in the mountain forest. The sky was quite clear a while ago but in a few moments it became covered in dark clouds and it seemed liked it was about to rain.

Lin Rufei turned his head to look at him and his eyes were full of reproach. He thought this senior was very childish. It was as if telling a ghost story wasn’t enough but he also deliberately made it a cloudy day to scare people.

Gu Xuandu helplessly defended: “I didn’t do it!”

Lin Rufei gave a tsk of disbelief.

Gu Xuandu: “……” It really wasn’t him.

When Fu Hua and Yu Rui saw the sky darkening, they thought it was about to rain. They said they were going to scour out the area and see if they could find a place to hide from the rain.

This Summer was not like Spring. The rain would come whenever it was mentioned—very capricious.  

“Hey, isn’t that a temple over there?” Yu Rui suddenly exclaimed. She raised her hand and pointed to the deep forest.

Lin Rufei looked in the direction she pointed and really saw a broken temple. Seeing this scene, Lin Rufei turned his head once again and cast a glance towards Gu Xuandu.

Gu Xuandu’s face was full of innocence: “It really has nothing to do with me—”

“Young master, should we go to the temple to take shelter from the rain?” Fu Hua asked.

The Summer rain came quickly and at this time, there were already tiny raindrops smashed against the leaves above their heads. Looking at this situation, it seemed that it would be raining heavily soon.

Lin Rufei replied, “May as well.” He looked at Gu Xuandu again and the meaning of his gaze was already very obvious.

Even with a mouth, Gu Xuandu couldn’t explain. In his heart, he only wanted to scare Lin Rufei. Who knew such a coincidence would happen? But in the world, there was no story without coincidence. When they entered the temple, they saw a statue of a Buddha with a broken head in the middle of the temple. Now Gu Xuandu really wouldn’t be able to wash himself clean even if he jumps into the Yellow River[2]……

While Fu Hua and Yu Rui were collecting firewood, Lin Rufei smiled and said to Gu Xuandu: “You were even able to bring this out, not easy, ah.” 

Gu Xuandu started, “I didn’t……forget it.” He wanted to say that it had nothing to do with him, but the rain outside and this Buddha statue in front of him made him disbelieve even himself, so he simply did not bother to explain.

Lin Rufei looked around and briefly surveyed the broken temple that appeared very abruptly.

The temple wasn’t very big and there was only a headless Buddha statue in the middle. In front of the Buddha statue were a broken merit box and two dusty praying mats[3]. There were also vaguely visible traces of incense left that year.

There were no windows in the temple, only an old wooden door. Lin Rufei took out a cloth from his dimensional ring, spread it on the ground, and sat down.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui had just returned to the temple when it started to rain heavily outside. The rain was overwhelming, like a downpour, as it was accompanied by lightning and thunder. For a while, it even sounded a bit scary.

Three people sat in the temple around a campfire. Lin Rufei looked at his two maids’ faces in the flickering firelight and suddenly let out a wry smile: “Have you guys ever heard the story of the Severed Head Buddha?……”

Gu Xuandu: “……” Xiao Jiu, you bad thing.

Fu Hua and Yu Rui both honestly said they had not heard of it, so Lin Rufei then vividly repeated the story Gu Xuandu had told him. Accompanied by the sound of roaring thunderstorms, the entire atmosphere in the temple turned spooky. Although Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s cultivation were very high, in the end, they were still girls. After listening to Lin Rufei’s story, they were ashened, especially Yu Rui. From time to time, she would look towards the headless Buddha. She held onto Fu Hua’s arm tightly and trembled incessantly. Fu Hua pretended to be calm, but in fact, she was also a little bit panicked. She held onto Yu Rui and forced herself to be calm: “Don’t……don’t be afraid. There is no such thing as ghosts in the world.” 

Lin Rufei looked at his maids’ appearance and finally understood why Gu Xuandu had such a bad taste. Watching others shiver because of his own stories was indeed pretty interesting.

He was not afraid at all and said with a smile, “It’s late, it’s time to rest. I’ll sleep first.”

As he said this, he headed off to sleep and deliberately pulled the blanket to cover half of his face.

Gu Xuandu helplessly sat beside Lin Rufei. He found that if this young master’s conscience really turned bad, people really wouldn’t be able to stand up against him. 

The two of them comforted each other for a long time before both of them reluctantly calmed down by leaning on each other’s shoulders.

The sound of wind and rain outside the temple remained and it was still accompanied by rolling thunder—they were destined to not rest well tonight.

Lin Rufei suddenly had a cough in the middle of the night. He woke up in a daze to see that the campfire in the temple was half-lit and about to go out. Fu Hua and Yu Rui were sleeping on the side and he didn’t wake up the two of them for such trivial matters. He sat up, casually took the firewood next to him, and dropped it into the campfire. When he saw the fire rekindle again, he sat back down.

Outside, the rain was still falling but he could tell that it was getting much smaller compared to earlier and it seemed like it would be stopping soon. The Summer rain was always like this, it came and went quickly. However, every time it rained, the weather would get hotter and the smell of Summer would gradually thicken.

Lin Rufei drank some cold water to suppress the itch in his throat. He couldn’t sleep so he leaned against the wall and stared at the Buddha statue in the temple. He didn’t know what Gu Xuandu was doing right now since he didn’t see him but as Lin Rufei was thinking about this, he suddenly noticed something. He let out a “huh,” stood up and approached the Buddha statue. He found that the Buddha statue was silently turned around. It was originally facing the direction of the main door, but now it was facing him. Logically speaking, when someone saw this scene they should be very afraid. However, Lin Rufei immediately remembered Gu Xuandu, this senior with bad taste, so his expression did not change. He took a few steps towards the statue before carefully looking at the Buddha statue in front of him.

In the daytime, he didn’t look carefully so at this time, he borrowed the firelight and Lin Rufei was able to observe this Buddha statue a bit more carefully. Although it was very worn, he could vaguely see that its carving workmanship was very exquisite. Every detail on it was vivid and lifelike, but it was a pity that the most wonderful part, the Buddha’s head, had been cut off.

Many people, who stole cultural relics, would choose to cut off the Buddha’s head because it was the most valuable part of the Buddha’s statue. And in the very middle of the Buddha’s body, there was a very inconspicuous thin line that looked like it had been cut along by some sharp instrument. It destroyed the entire sense of integrity of the statue and Lin Rufei couldn’t help but feel some pity in his heart as he sighed lightly. However, he heard a soft “benefactor[4]” behind the Buddha statue and when he looked for the location of the sound, he saw a monk in simple clothes. He stood in the corner of the broken temple and held a broken bowl in his hand. His black eyes were still like water as he gazed at him. 

This monk looked very handsome, dignified, and his character, strict. Only he suddenly appeared in the rundown temple at this time. No matter how one looked at it, it was quite untimely. 

Lin Rufei asked, “How come little master is here?”

“Shouldn’t I ask benefactor that?” The monk smiled, “This temple is the monk’s usual residence.”

Lin Rufei nodded, “Is that so. When we came in, we didn’t see you……”

The monk smiled, “Just now this monk went out to make a living[5] and came back when the rain stopped, but I didn’t expect to see benefactor and others……”

Lin Rufei asked, “What did you get?” Don’t be a head or something.

The monk shook his head.

Lin Rufei looked at him with a burning gaze.

The monk was puzzled by Lin Rufei’s stare and questioned, “Why is benefactor looking at me like that?”

Lin Rufei answered, “I am waiting for your next words.”

The monk wondered, “Next words?”

Lin Rufei asked, “You don’t need me to give alms?”

The monk smiled, “If benefactor is willing to give alms, then naturally it is best.”

“Not willing.” Lin Rufei refused, “I don’t have anything.”

The monk looked stunned, seemingly not expecting Lin Rufei to be so petty and even his attitude was a little aggressive. He frowned slightly and was about to say something when two harsh screams rang out around him. It was Fu Hua and Yu Rui who woke up due to Lin Rufei and the monk’s conversation. The two just woke up when they heard the monk’s “if benefactor is willing to give alms……”

This was almost exactly the same as the situation in the ghost story.

The monk was confused and asked, “Why did they scream?”

Lin Rufei answered, “Maybe they are afraid of you.”

Monk: “……”

After Fu Hua and Yu Rui finished screaming, they drew their swords and rushed in front of Lin Rufei. They were chanting for the demons to retreat and did not stop gesticulating at the monk. The monk was stunned by this scene and the bowl in his hand fell directly to the ground with an ear-splitting crunch. He couldn’t figure out what the three people in front of him were doing. Was he born that fierce and vicious and as horrible as a Rakshasa? 

The two maids continued to chant for a while but after seeing that the monk had no reaction, they stopped their actions and suspiciously stepped forward. Yu Rui boldly stretched out a finger to poke the monk’s cheek and muttered in embarrassment: “How is it warm?……”

The monk was also good-tempered. When Yu Rui poked, he was not angry. Instead, he laughed: “If I’m not warm, then should I be cold?” 

“Aren’t you a ghost?” Yu Rui asked in a whisper.

The monk laughed, “How do I look like a ghost?”

Fu Hua and Yu Rui then looked at each other and at the same time looked at Lin Rufei with some bewilderment in their eyes.

This monk seemed to be a real person. He just didn’t know if he had a relationship with Gu Xuandu. 

Lin Rufei bowed to the monk with folded hands and sincerely apologized, saying that he did not mean to offend. It was just that he had heard a ghost story and who knew that everything in the temple was in line with that ghost story.  

After listening to Lin Rufei’s explanation, the monk did not take it personally. He instead showed a smile: “I wonder what kind of story it was that scared the two female benefactors into such a state?”

Lin Rufei then repeated the story that Gu Xuandu had told him.

Who knew that after hearing the story, the monk’s black eyes moved slightly and he asked, “I wonder where the person who told this story to benefactor is now?”

Lin Rufei did not want to reveal the existence of Gu Xuandu, thus, he told a small lie: “I saw it in an old book, the book is too old and there is no cover. I do not know what the name is.”

“So that’s how it is.” The monk sighed slightly, showing some despondent look, “I thought……” He stopped talking and softly recited Amitabha Buddha.

Lin Rufei was interested: “Does this story have anything to do with the little master?”

The monk laughed: “I have an old friend, who has a hostile temperament, and likes to tease people. I had nothing to do so I used this story to scare his beloved one. Who knew that his beloved one was not only not afraid, they even struck at the Buddha’s statue splitting it directly into two causing this young monk to be severely reprimanded by the Abbot.”

Lin Rufei laughed, “That’s interesting.”

“Interesting indeed.” The monk said, “It’s just a pity……”

Without asking what it was that was a pity, Lin Rufei had already guessed most of it. The world was unpredictable and old people and old things always made people nostalgic.

The monk continued, “The sky is clear outside. If benefactors are in a hurry, you must take advantage. In another twenty days or so, I’m afraid it will rain heavily in the mountains for several days, so benefactors better leave the mountains quickly.”

Lin Rufei raised his eyes and realized that it was already bright outside the window. The rain had cleared and the mountain air was filled with the fragrance of the earth. The time passed so quickly that Lin Rufei only felt that he had spoken a few words with the monk before the sky already turned bright. He saw the monk make a gesture of sending off guests and felt that it wasn’t appropriate to continue to disturb. Before they left, he thought about it and asked Fu Hua to fetch some dry food and respectfully handed it to the monk, apologizing for the misunderstanding last night.

(t/n: b-but…I thought there were no windows?…)

The monk gave a meek smile and did not refuse Lin Rufei’s kindness. He took the dry food and took out a Buddhist bead from his pocket. He handed it to Lin Rufei, saying that Lin Rufei and him were brought together by fate and that this Buddhist bead would be considered as a gift in return.

Lin Rufei took the bead and thanked the monk.

Under the monk’s watchful eye, the three led their horses out of the broken temple and walked outside on the muddy mountain road.

Gu Xuandu, who had disappeared all night, suddenly reappeared on the horse. Lin Rufei saw that his red clothes were stained with some mud and asked in a small voice, “Where did you go last night?”

Gu Xuandu responded, “I went to catch ghosts.”

Lin Rufei: “……” He kind of understood. This Gu Xuandu was not willing to tell him what he went to do so he would casually say that he was “catching ghosts.” Fortunately, he asked seriously the first two times otherwise he really thought this senior could exorcise demons and break evil spells.

“I met a monk in the temple.” Lin Rufei casually talked about what he had just encountered, “Broken temple, Buddha statue, if the monk wasn’t a living person, I would have thought you made it.”

Gu Xuandu: “……I’m not that kind of frivolous person.”

Lin Rufei looked at him suspiciously.

Gu Xuandu was helpless from his stare: “Okay, at least I wasn’t that frivolous yesterday.”

Lin Rufei continued, “He also gave me a bead.” As he talked, he took the bead out of his sleeve. He looked at it carefully and found that on the bead, the word Nanyin was engraved. He was surprised, “This monk is actually from the Nanyin Temple?”

The Nanyin Temple was famous for its Buddhism in Jianghu and it was rumored that the disciples inside practice Buddhism which could help the spirits of grievances cross as well as calming heart demons. However, the Nanyin Temple was located in a remote corner of the Yaoguang Continent and the number of disciples were not many. So although the fame was great, it was really rare. He didn’t expect that the handsome monk he saw just now, was a disciple of the Nanyin Temple. 

Gu Xuandu also just listened and didn’t have the intention to continue the conversation. 

Lin Rufei asked: “Has senior heard of the Nanyin Temple?”

Gu Xuandu replied, “Yes, I have heard of it, but I don’t like it very much. There are too many rules, give up on this, give up on that, it is very troublesome.”

Lin Rufei laughed, “That’s true.”

Because they had the monk’s warning, they did not dare delay this time. Under Gu Xuandu’s guidance, they crossed the Xialiang Mountains overnight and finally arrived at the town on the border of the Xiliang Mountains before the rainy season. After more than ten days of travel and hardship around in the mountains, Lin Rufei’s body was already a bit overwhelmed. When he arrived at the inn in the town, he slept for half a day before he could barely relieve his fatigue. However, he was still a bit limp and not very energetic. After waking up, he was a little hungry, so he wanted to go to Fu Hua and ask her to make some food for him. But before he entered Fu Hua’s room, he heard the worried conversations of the maids inside the house.

“I’m really worried about young master.”…… Hmm? Why were they worried about me? Lin Rufei thought in confusion.

“Yes, I am also worried. Say, do you think that young master was scared in the temple that day.”

“I think it’s possible, otherwise how could the self-talk become so serious in the past few days. It scared me to the point that I thought he was bewitched.”

“Shall we find a doctor for young master?”

“Don’t, don’t stimulate young master. I’ll go ask first, see if I could get some calming medicine prescribed. This thing is a bit evil, it’s best to be careful.”

“Then alright. I’ll go to the city to ask the doctor when I’m free today.”

Lin Rufei listened to their conversation with a complicated expression. He twisted his head and looked at the person standing beside him.

Gu Xuandu, who was being stared at by Lin Rufei, still had a calm expression. He even blinked at him and acted cute: “I look good, right?” 

Lin Rufei answered seriously, “You do look good.” 

Before Gu Xuandu had the chance to smile, he heard this young master, whose mouth was becoming more and more powerful, say: “If you’re ugly, how can you bewitch someone?” 

Gu Xuandu: “……”

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: Xiao Jiu, why are you not scared of ghosts?

Lin Rufei: Do you think you’re a human now?

Gu Xuandu: ……………

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

[1] The green light in the eyes describes a person’s nature as non-benevolent, greedy, or lustful. 

[2] Very common saying in China, the Yellow River refers to the 2nd longest River in China and this phrase means: “there’s nothing you can do to remove the stigma off your name.” 

[3] Praying mat. 

Mau donasi lewat mana?

BRI - Nur Ichan (4898-01022-888538)

BCA - Nur Ichan (7891-767-327)
Bagi para Cianpwee yang ingin berdonasi untuk pembiayaan operasional web ini dipersilahkan Klik tombol merah.

Posting Komentar

© Cerita silat IndoMandarin. All rights reserved. Developed by Jago Desain