Cherry Blossoms Upon a Wintry Sword Chapter 51-60

Chapter 51: Truth No. 2

Lin Rufei saw that Fu Shui was close to a breakdown so he let him go. He got up and ended up finding a wooden chair opposite him. He sat down, crossed his legs, and found a comfortable position: “Talk.”

Fu Shui was lying on the ground and his voice was a little low: “Fu Yu, Fu Yu is my elder brother……”

Lin Rufei said: “Louder.”

Fu Shui had a bitter face but did not dare to refute Lin Rufei. He could only nod and raise his voice, “Fu Yu is my elder brother, my name…….is Fu Shui.”

Fu Yu was Fu Shui’s elder brother. His nature was better than Fu Shui’s and his talent was also better than Fu Shui. They were born in the salt and alkaline land of the Fu Family Village and in order to survive, they followed a martial arts school swordmaster to learn crude sword art. That swordmaster had cultivated for more than fifty years, but his cultivation level was still on the third level. If he was placed in Jianghu, he wasn’t even worth being a shrimp stuck in between its teeth. But in a place like the Fu Family Village, it was enough.

Fu Yu was born to practice the sword. Although he and Fu Shui practiced the same sword style, his cultivation was rapidly progressing and very soon, he caught up with their master. The swordmaster had no more things to teach to Fu Yu and Fu Yu then gave birth to the idea of wandering the world. 

“We have been so poor for generations in the Fu Family Village, it is always necessary to think of some way.” Fu Yu sharpened his sword as he said this to his brother.

“What can we think of?” Fu Shui did not think so, “Everywhere is saline land. Once the seeds are planted, they can’t even sprout…….”

“There will always be a way.” Fu Yu stubbornly argued.

Fu Shui only took these words as his brother’s delusions of grandeur. If there was a way, then they would have had it a long time ago, and then the Fu Family Village wouldn’t have been poor for a hundred years. It wasn’t like they hadn’t thought of moving away from here, but there was no suitable village and land nearby to accept them. So generation after generation, they had to just make do with what they had.

Fu Yu left the house when he was fourteen years old. In the first few years, he still stayed in contact with his family but then a few years later, there was no more news. Jianghu was treacherous, just when everyone thought Fu Yu had died, he suddenly came back in style with his cultivation at the sixth level. 

As Fu Shui said this, he raised his hand and heavily rubbed his semi-red eyes: “I really don’t understand. Someone like my brother, how can he have such good luck and encounter such a good thing!” 

Lin Rufei asked, “Are you jealous?”

“Who isn’t jealous!” Fu Shui exclaimed with hatred, “If it were you, watching your brother who grew up with you become so powerful and you can’t do anything yourself, wouldn’t you be jealous?!”

Lin Rufei thought about his words seriously and found that his situation and Fu Shui’s were indeed similar. But in the past twenty years, he had never felt a trace of jealousy towards his brothers or sister. It wasn’t a big deal if he couldn’t lift a sword. Although there were some regrets, it wasn’t so much as to give rise to malice. This may be the difference between people. He could not understand Fu Shu and Fu Shui could not understand him.

Since he couldn’t explain it clearly, he didn’t bother to answer at all. Lin Rufei revealed a bored look and waved his hand to indicate that Fu Shui continued. Fu Shui took a deep breath, gritted his teeth, and continued, “After he came back, I thought he would take us out of this Fu Family Village, but who knew that he would he refuse to……”

A sword cultivator with a level six cultivation was enough for his family to live a rich life no matter where they are. As long as they leave this dead land where not an inch of grass grew……

However, Fu Yu actually refused Fu Shui’s offer. He actually did not want to leave this place.

“Xiao Shui, I don’t want to leave.” Faced with his brother’s censure, Fu Yu looked very calm, “The people in the Fu Family Village are too bitter, I have been thinking of ways to change this place before, and now there is finally a way.”

“What is it?” Fu Shui asked.

“I learned a lot of formations with that senior. One of the formations is called the spirit gathering formation, with this formation, you can make crops grow on the saline land.” Fu Yu smiled and gently stroked his brother’s head, just as he had done when he was young, “Aren’t you looking forward to it?”

Fu Shui froze and he questioned, “Really?”

Fu Yu nodded, “Naturally.”

When Fu Shui heard this, he also showed a happy look. After all, who wouldn’t like to see their hometown become rich. He and Fu Yu both grew up here. When they were young, their family was so poor that their father went out to work and their mother took the two brothers to beg on the roadside; they had suffered enough hardships. Later, when the two brothers got a little older, they were able to work at the martial arts school and the family’s life was finally a bit better. But even so, they were full one day and starved for another. And at ten years old, it was Fu Shui’s first time tasting malt candy.

Fu Yu was the one that bought the malt candy for him. It was only a thumb-sized piece and Fu Yu did not eat it. However, he carefully divided the candy in two, one for him and one for Fu Xi.

To this day, Fu Shui still remembered the sweet taste.

Fu Yu had always kept true to his promise. After a while, a strange stranger came to their home and began to help Fu Yu set up the formation. 

Fu Shui was also very happy, until one day, Fu Yu suddenly found him and said he might have to leave for a while.

“Leave? Go where?” Fu Shui looked at his twin brother blankly, “Didn’t you say you were going to set up a formation to plant crops? Has the formation been set up? Can the crops be planted?”

Fu Yu nodded: “Almost done, only the most important formation eye remains” 

Fu Shui: “The formation eye?”

Fu Yu smiled: “Yes, the formation eye.”

If it were some other person then perhaps they would have been fooled by Fu Yu. However, they were born as twins, naturally, they were the people who knew each other best in the world. Fu Shui replied in a strained voice, “You are lying to me, right? Brother, where are you going?”

Fu Yu frowned slightly.

Fu Shui: “Is there something wrong with that formation?”

Fu Yu did not answer and instead asked: “Do you not want to see our family’s fields produce crops?”

How could Fu Shui not want to? With crops, their family would no longer have to starve. This was their own land, they could grow a lot of food and could live on this for generations. They no longer had to beg and look at other people’s faces to live. This was Fu Shui and Fu Yu’s biggest dream since childhood. However, at this time, Fu Yu swore that this dream would soon come true. Fu Shui felt that this was an unreal illusion.

“But brother, you are already a sixth-level sword cultivator.” Fu Shui said, “You obviously can leave here……you obviously don’t have to care about them……”

Fu Yu did not speak and he simply patted Fu Shui’s head again. The action was very gentle, but firm enough, “Xiao Shui, you do not understand.”

Fu Shui looked at Fu Yu with bewilderment. He indeed did not understand, did not understand why Fu Yu made such a decision. The stubborn Fu Yu in his eyes was just like a fool. But how could a fool learn that powerful sword technique?

Fu Yu did not open his mouth to explain again.

Although the two were twins and were born from the same ovum, they had different dreams. 

What happened after that continued on logically. The formation was successfully laid, but Fu Yu needed to leave by himself. Before he left, he found Fu Shui and handed him the sword in his hand. He troubled him to safe keep it for a while. 

“Why did you hand over such an important thing to me?” Fu Shui asked, “Aren’t you going to come back?”

Fu Yu replied, “I will come back. When next year’s crop is plentiful, I will come back.”

Fu Shui stared dumbfoundedly at Fu Yu, “Really?”

“Naturally.” Those hands fell on his head again. The person in front of him smiled gently and the tone of his voice was also soothing, as if it was still the same childhood brother who comforted his crying self because of hunger, “Xiao Shui, wait for me to come back, okay?”

“Brother, I’ll wait for you.” Fu Shui said, “You must remember to……come back.” He held Fu Yu’s sword. He bewilderedly thought that if a swordsman, who was going to travel far away, didn’t even bring his sword……would he really come back?

Fu Yu had left and he left in a clear-cut manner. Before leaving, he urged the Fu family to remember to buy more seeds and to plant them in the coming Spring so that when the time came, they would be able to harvest bountiful crops.

If it only ended here, then this was probably a touching story. However, unfortunately, as the story developed to this point, it was also mixed with something else.

The man who set up the formation with Fu Yu found the elders of the Fu family and after some private discussions with the elders, he suddenly lent the Fu family a large sum of money.

“Where did you get so much money?” Fu Shui asked his father, not understanding what he was going to do, “So much money, what are you doing with it?”

Father said, “The man asked us to buy all the land around here.”

Fu Shui: “Buy?”

Father nodded: “I guess so. Didn’t Fu Yu say he wanted to lay a formation and that after the formation is laid, the ground could also produce crops? And then after that, wouldn’t the land be worth more?” He rubbed his hands and discussed with his youngest son, “Don’t you think that’s what they mean?”  

Fu Shui looked at the eagerness on his father’s face and for a moment he felt that he could not answer the question. He was not as noble as Fu Yu and the most important thing on his mind was how to keep himself fed.

“And that man also lent us such a large amount of money.” Father continued, “With this money, it should be enough to buy the surrounding land……”

Fu Shui heard his voice carrying some hesitation. But yes, he did indeed say so, so he agreed, “Then buy it.”

Buy it, buy all the land around here. Anyway, it was also his brother who laid the formation so their family should deserve it, that was what Fu Shui told himself.

Although the farmers were a bit surprised that the Fu family had spend a lot of money to buy so much land. The saline land was of little value and could not be sold. Now that someone wanted to buy it, it was naturally a good thing. 

That Winter, the land deeds fell into the hands of the Fu family one after another.

“Later, when Spring arrived, I personally went to drop the seeds.” Fu Shui looked at Lin Rufei’s expression gradually with some uncertainty, as if he was caught in an inextricable memory, “I have never farmed before so I didn’t know if I even planted the seeds correctly. But it didn’t seem to matter because only after a few days, the ground sprouted bright green new buds……the saline land……grew crops.”

“It’s beautiful, I’ve never seen such beautiful scenery. It only took about a few dozen days before the ground was covered in an emerald green. When the wind blows, the wheat fields scatter open……and those cornfields that grew taller than a person, if one were to lie under the sun all day in the field, they wouldn’t get bored of it. ” As Fu Shui recalled all of this, his voice gradually grew cold. “Unfortunately, despite the beauty of such scenery, it was very easy to get bored.”

Lin Rufei questioned, “Are you bored of it?”

“It’s only natural to be bored of it, right?” Fu Shui snorted, “Having seen the days of the rich, who would still be interested in the scenery of the crop fields.” He raised his hand and pointed to the door to those shivering servants and concubines standing at the door who did not dare to come in, “Look, they are all from the Fu family, they are all my minions. If I want them to live then they can live, if I want them to die, they will immediately go die—” As he said this, his emotions also followed, “And this village, this courtyard, isn’t it beautiful?! That crop field is nothing compared to these!”

Lin Rufei looked at Fu Shui strangely and said in a slow voice: “I didn’t refute you either, why are you so excited?”

Fu Shui heaved.

Lin Rufei asked: “Or do you also feel that something is not quite right?”

Fu Shui tilted his head, unwilling to meet Lin Rufei’s eyes again.

“Keep talking.” Lin Rufei said, “Who is Mo Mo, and what does he have to do with you?”

“Mo Mo is the child that person brought, saying that it is my elder brother’s seed.” Fu Shui stated coldly, “It’s just that his dumb look is really tiresome to look at…… Besides, besides……”

Lin Rufei: “Besides what?”

Fu Shui hissed: “Besides, my big brother is also a liar. He said he would come back in the coming Autumn and Winter, but has he come back? No! I know he will not like what the Fu family has done, but in the end, he is also a Fu family member—why should he look down on us, why should he not want to come back!”

Lin Rufei propped up his chin and looked at Fu Shui, like he was a monster, “You are really strange.”

Fu Shui was gasping for air and his eyes were red.

“Do you want him to come back or do you not want him to come back?” Lin Rufei asked, “Do you like him or do you hate him to death? Is it enjoying everything he brings or is it hatred and even fear?……”

Fu Shui couldn’t answer. 

People were originally complex animals and there was no such thing as a simple preference for good and evil. Fu Yu was different, he was a pure person. Only such a person could be a matchless swordsman. However, such people were too few and far between and if one looked at the entire Jianghu, there were only a few.

Instead, in Jianghu, there were more commoners like Fu Shui. 

Fu Shui: “Although I do not like Mo Mo, I didn’t mean to abuse him. But the family servants do not care about him so he was accidentally lost……”

Lin Rufei repeated, “Lost?”

Fu Shui nodded, “Lost.”

Lin Rufei said, “This is your brother’s only seedling and he was lost just like that? You didn’t even look for him?” 

Fu Shui was silent, he seemed unable to answer Lin Rufei’s question.

“Just like that and you still expect your brother to come back?” Lin Rufei questioned, “Taking his sword and using powerful connections to intimidate people and bully them. In reality, you don’t want him to come back either.” 

“Shut up!!!” Those words were like a poke in Fu Shui’s lungs. He roared and almost wanted to lunge towards Lin Rufei again to make him stop, “He is my brother, why don’t I want him to come back—”

“Let me guess?” Lin Rufei looked at Fu Shui and actually felt some pity for him, “Maybe when he comes back, everything you have will disappear? Preying on the people and roaming the countryside……you and your brother are two completely different people.”

Fu Shui could not refute and his lips squirmed uncontrollably.

“You are jealous to death, right?” Lin Rufei continued, “Someone like Fu Yu, even if he did not practice sword, you will not be able to reach him in your life……”

Fu Shui cried, “Stop it.”

Lin Rufei said lightly, “You don’t deserve to touch his sword.”

Fu Shui exclaimed: “Stop it!!! You don’t know anything—you don’t know anything. Fu Shui is a loser, but as long as he doesn’t come back, I’m Fu Yu!! I’m Fu Yu!” As he spoke, he started to cry out in pain. He was now lying on the ground like a long, boneless snake.

Lin Rufei was also tired of listening and his hand gently nudged the side of his face. After waiting for a while as Fu Shui cried, his emotions barely eased over and he asked thoughtfully: “Have you seen the man who set up the formation with Fu Yu?”

Fu Shui: “Seen. I’ve seen him a few times.”

Lin Rufei, “What does he look like?”

Fu Shui replied, “I couldn’t see his appearance.” He dried the tears on his face and showed his tiredness, “He had a white cloth wrapped around his face, showing only a pair of eyes, but……”

Lin Rufei questioned, “But?”

“But he had a black snake in his hand.” Fu Shui answered, “That snake was very scary, it was just coiled on his body.”

Lin Rufei immediately became interested and asked a few more detailed questions. But unfortunately, Fu Shui did not know the man, and only said that he had seen the man a few times. It was also the man who had sent back Mo Mo and at that time, Mo Mo was very thin and muddled like a fool. The reason why Fu Shui didn’t like Mo Mo was because he felt weak when he looked at him and he always felt that he could see his brother’s shadow in this child. This feeling was very bad. So much so that involuntarily, he began to deliberately treat this child coldly. And when Mo Mo was lost, he was relieved instead.

It was Mo Mo that got lost on its own, it was not his fault, Fu Shui told himself so.

Lin Rufei remembered Mo Mo’s appearance when he was begging for food on the roadside. He listened with a frown and felt that the malice in human nature could not be thought about carefully. Otherwise, the more one thought the more disgusting one felt.  

Fu Shui was tired from speaking and couldn’t stop licking his lips. When he saw Lin Rufei in deep thought, he reluctantly smiled: “Lin gongzi, I want to……have a cup of tea.”

Lin Rufei squinted at him: “Drink tea?”

“I’m……a little tired from talking.” Fu Shui said embarrassingly.

Lin Rufei, “Tired just like that?” He let out a faint smile, “When I saw that you wanted to jump over and beat me up a while ago, I didn’t think you were tired, ah.”

Fu Shui knew that Lin Rufei would not give him face. He wanted to say something, but swallowed it back down, and continued to sit on the ground in a daze.

The matters that should be known were known and this Fu Shui was also no longer valuable. Although Mo Mo’s matter made Lin Rufei look at him in disgust, it wasn’t to the point of taking his life. In addition, it seemed that the Fu family was not so capable of scheming against Fu Yu, at most, they just collected more money and squeezed[1] the people around them.

Lin Rufei waved his hand, signaling for him to go down. When Fu Shui saw the situation, he was very happy. He was frantically trying to run towards the outside, however, halfway there, he was stopped by Lin Rufei and he froze still with fear. 

“Lin, Lin gongzi?” Fu Shui asked stiffly.

“Why is there not a single flower or plant in the Fu Family Village?” Lin Rufei asked.

“This, this I don’t know.” Fu Shui shook his head, “Maybe because there were no seeds for grasses and trees left behind?” 

When Lin Rufei saw that he didn’t know, he signaled that he could go. There was not a single grass or tree in the Fu Family Village so there must be another reason, otherwise, they would be able to see at least some weeds. Lin Rufei fell into a daze and did not notice Gu Xuandu standing beside him with a restless look. Something seemed to have emotionally provoked him.

Because of the fight just now, the room was a mess, but no one dared to come in to clean up.

When Lin Rufei finally left, everyone in the Fu family breathed a sigh of relief. A servant came over with a stiff upper lip and asked, “Lin, Lin gongzi, are you leaving tomorrow? Our carriage is ready for you, what do you……”

Lin Rufei gave him a sidelong glance, so he hurriedly silenced his voice and whispered embarrassingly, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the master sent me to ask.”

If before the Fu family only treated Lin Rufei as a noble guest who could not be provoked, then at this moment Lin Rufei, in their eyes, became a King of Hell who could kill people. After all, not many people in the Fu family knew about this matter of Fu Shui. In their opinion, Lin Rufei didn’t even need to draw his sword and was able to slap a level six cultivator Fu Yu half dead. It was simply too scary.   

Lin Rufei did not explain, he looked at these people’s trembling appearance and only felt amused. He asked slowly and carefully: “Is the carriage ready?”

“Ready, ready.” The servant replied hurriedly.

“Oh, then you have prepared it for naught.” Lin Rufei smiled lightly, “I’m not leaving.”

Subordinates: “……”

“This eldest young master of the Fu family has only just returned, and I haven’t finished seeing the scenery in the manor, wouldn’t it be a pity to leave like this.” Lin Rufei righteously asked the subordinate to tell Fu Shui, “You tell your eldest youngest master, say that Lin gongzi was enchanted by the scenery and wishes to stay here for a year and a half before leaving.”

The servant smiled bitterly at his words but did not dare to show it. He simply turned around and left.

Lin Rufei saw his sad face and couldn’t help but laugh. He said to Gu Xuandu, who was at his side, “This is the first time I’ve been such an unwelcome guest.”

Gu Xuandu: “Look at you scaring people.” Despite his words, he was laughing along with Lin Rufei.

After laughing, Lin Rufei continued with a straight face, “Since we are sure about Fu Yu’s current situation, can we first bring him out from there, and in addition……Can there be any method to recall his divine soul?”

Gu Xuandu responded, “There is a method, but we still need to see the specific situation before we can start.”

Lin Rufei knew Gu Xuandu must have a way so he thought about it and asked, “Give an example?”

Gu Xuandu, “For example, what if his soul doesn’t want to come back.”

Lin Rufei asked curiously, “It wouldn’t want to come back?”

Gu Xuandu shook his head and stopped talking.

Lin Rufei felt that he had noticed something and continued: “Did you notice some clues?”

Gu Xuandu blinked: “No.”

Lin Rufei: “Senior……”

Gu Xuandu: “I really didn’t.”

Lin Rufei stated with a straight face, “If you tell me, then I won’t use a shield next time.” 

Gu Xuandu’s expression lifted and he immediately asked, “Are you sure?”

Lin Rufei nodded his head.

Gu Xuandu sighed, “Alright……actually, that Mo Mo, I may have misjudged him.” 

“What makes you say that?” Lin Rufei frowned.

“He must be related to Fu Yu.” Gu Xuandu said.

Lin Rufei wondered, “Isn’t he Fu Yu’s son?”

Gu Xuandu shook his head: “It’s more than that.”

When Lin Rufei heard his claim, he carefully pondered for a moment. He then revealed a dazed look and then felt that his guess was too absurd: “This is also……too ……”

Gu Xuandu sighed, “Right?”

This so-called truth, it was better not to know it.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: In order for me to get Xiao Jiu not to use the shield, I really went through a lot of trouble. 

Lin Rufei: Isn’t a sword person using a shield[2] pretty good? 

Gu Xuandu: ………….Baby, I was wrong.

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

[1] Squeezing the money/worth from them. 

[2] So remember how the word for “sword people/person” 剑人 sounded like a curse word (b*tchh)? This part here is, 剑人持盾. The direct translation is “sword people using swords,” but the word 持盾 also sounds like 迟钝 (same pinyin and tonation) which can mean “ret**ded/slow.” So the phrase kind of sounds like, “ret**ded b***h.” Bad GXD 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ 

Chapter 52: I’m Back

Lin Rufei’s brow was knitted tightly. Until he returned to his residence, he did not say a word.

In the courtyard, Fu Hua was still playing with Mo Mo. Mo Mo was leaning in Fu Hua’s arms looking at the small ball rolling around on the ground and staring at it intently.

When Lin Rufei noticed this, he casually asked where the ball came from.

Fu Hua responded: “It was specially sent by the youngest young master of the Fu family. I saw that Mo Mo liked it very much so I kept it.” 

Lin Rufei asked, “Why did he suddenly think of sending a toy?”

Fu Hua didn’t really know either, “He said he was afraid that Mo Mo would be bored…….”

Mo Mo really liked the vine woven ball, but when he saw Lin Rufei extend his hand to him, he still showed a timid look.

“Come, good Mo Mo, come here and let me have a hug.” Lin Rufei beckoned to him.

Mo Mo hesitated for a moment and his first reaction was to look at Fu Hua. Only when he saw Fu Hua make an encouraging look to him, did he carefully extend his hand to Lin Rufei. Unknowingly, Fu Hua, who always took care of Mo Mo, managed to catch this little guy’s heart, and only by staying in her arms did Mo Mo not seem afraid.

Lin Rufei held Mo Mo’s hand and carried him into his arms. Mo Mo was really light, like a poor cat cub, and one could not help but feel compassion.

He was such a poor little guy, did he really have an inseparable relationship with Fu Yu?

Lin Rufei didn’t know and couldn’t say for sure.

After holding Mo Mo for a while, Lin Rufei returned him to Fu Hua and returned to the room alone. He looked quite sickly as he held his chin, coughing lowly. 

Gu Xuandu noticed that he was uncomfortable and poured a cup of hot tea for him.

Lin Rufei picked up the cup of tea and took a few sips. He managed to suppressed the itch in his throat before he whispered, “Do you think Fu Yu would regret making that decision in the first place if he knew what the Fu family did?” 

Gu Xuandu shook his head to indicate that he didn’t know.

“I think whether he regrets it or not, he has to be given a chance to regret it.” Lin Rufei continued, “In this Fu family, a group of bad things, there was such a good person. We can’t let the good people end up too miserable.” He gently inhaled and shook his shoulders while coughing, “Senior, do you think so?”

Gu Xuandu gently said, “What Xiao Jiu said is all right.”

“The biggest problem now is that I’m worried that Fu Yu’s divine soul won’t want to return to his body.” Lin Rufei said, “But after looking at Mo Mo, I think we have to at least give it a try.”

“Then let’s give it a try.” Gu Xuandu succinctly agreed with Lin Rufei, “I’ll accompany you in whatever you want to do.”

Lin Rufei hooked his lips into a smile, “Good.”

So the matter was settled.

The sun was still hot outside, thus Lin Rufei planned to wait until it was cooler before going out. Yu Rui took advantage of the fact that Lin Rufei was still in the room to hurriedly bring the freshly boiled medicine and serve it to Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei wanted to pour out the medicine secretly, but Yu Rui was prepared and refused to leave if Lin Rufei did not drink the medicine. In the end, Lin Rufei could only pinch his nose and drink it with a sad face. After he finished, he started complaining. He said that he was used to being sick, whether he drank the medicine or he didn’t drink the medicine, in the end, it would still take a few days for him to get better.

When Yu Rui was cleaning up the medicine bowl, she laughed at Lin Rufei, saying that although her young master was already so old, he was still afraid of bitter medicine. 

Lin Rufei leaned back in his chair listlessly and said he might not be used to eating this stuff even at the age of sixty.

As Yu Rui listened, she chuckled in joy and she brought over a dish of sweet and sour plums to help moisten Lin Rufei’s mouth. 

Lin Rufei, however, did not touch the plum. He shrunk in the chair, dazed, and sleepy. Gu Xuandu stood next to him, quietly looking at him. The Lin Rufei in front of him and the Lin Rufei in front of Fu Shui a while ago were almost like two separate people. He wore a moon-white outfit and his black hair was not tied up but simply pulled up with a wooden hairpin, revealing a hidden white slender neck. He really was a dark hair and snowy skin beauty, really eye-catching. Lin Rufei’s complexion was very pale, so all the colors on his body have become eye-catching. Whether it was the long eyelashes, as thick as raven feathers, or the light-colored lips, even his temperament also seems to be light like water, like a soft jade dipped in ice. Somewhat cool, but not cold and when held, they would realize that he was actually warm.

Who wouldn’t love such a cute little young master, Gu Xuandu thought. Even he wasn’t exempt from it.

He retracted his gaze from Lin Rufei and raised his eyes to look out the window. He let out an inaudible sigh. 

Lin Rufei slept until the evening when he was woken up by Fu Hua.

He woke up from his dream in a daze and sat down at the table in a daze, waiting for dinner, and only when he took the first sip of soup did he abruptly wake up and ask, “What time is it?”

“The 21st hour, young master.” Fu Hua replied.

Lin Rufei raised his eyes to look out the window. The sun had already set and the harsh sunlight turned into a warm orange color as it enveloped the Earth. The sky was filled with bright, fiery clouds and it was boundless, like an unintentional brush stroke when sprinkling cinnabar—stunningly beautiful.

Lin Rufei had a simple dinner and then planned to head out.

Mo Mo, who had been staying in Fu Hua’s arms, suddenly cried. He was chanting unintelligible words and Fu Hua could only cradle him into her arms. She carefully stuffed a piece of malt candy into his mouth and the crying stopped. 

“Why did he start crying all of a sudden?” Yu Rui was puzzled, “Usually he is quite well behaved.” 

“I don’t know, maybe he feels uncomfortable somewhere?” Fu Hua shook her head, indicating that she did not understand what was happening either.

Lin Rufei looked back at Mo Mo’s teary eyes and he sighed lightly, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon.”

Mo Mo did not speak and just stared at him.

“Perhaps, I will bring you some small gifts.” Lin Rufei continued, “I hope you will like it.”

Mo Mo was dumbfounded, as if he couldn’t understand what Lin Rufei was saying at all.

Lin Rufei left the Fu family and went straight to the formation eye he had found before. He walked into the dark tunnel again and toggled the mechanism.

The iron cage rumbled, as it lowered, and Lin Rufei once again saw Fu Yu’s sleeping body. He raised his hand and opened the cage, then dragged Fu Yu’s body out from inside the cage.

“Then what?” Lin Rufei wiped the sweat on his forehead and asked Gu Xuandu, “How do I call back the soul?” 

Gu Xuandu said, “We need to set up a formation first.”

Lin Rufei looked around, “Can we set it up right here?”

Gu Xuandu nodded, “Yes.”

Gu Xuandu then began to guide Lin Rufei through the formation setup. He said it was very simple to set up the formation and that the most important thing was the formation eye. It should be easier for Lin Rufei to set up the formation than normal people because he was basically a walking humanoid sword intent. As long as he paid attention to the small details, the formation should be a very simple matter for him.

But in the end, it was still his first time doing such a thing. Lin Rufei’s movements were a bit rusty, but luckily, he was a painter. So when he drew the formation, it wasn’t too difficult, just slow in progress. 

As he drew, Gu Xuandu was watching and pointing out any mistakes.

It still took the two of them half an hour to finally complete the formation. Lin Rufei was so tired and sweaty that he couldn’t stop panting, “Is it ready, senior?”

Gu Xuandu carefully checked it once and nodded: “Almost done. Rest for a while and we can activate it.” 

Only then did Lin Rufei breathe a sigh of relief. Sweat ran down his forehead and slid down his chin before making a faint mark when it landed on the dirt. He took a moment to catch his breath before returning to normal, “How do I activate the formation?”

“First drag Fu Yu to the center of the formation.” Gu Xuandu instructed.

Lin Rufei agreed.

When Fu Yu’s body was placed in the middle of the formation, Gu Xuandu whispered an incantation and then a faint light rose from the formation. It lasted for only a moment before an evil wind began to blow in along the tunnel entrance. Logically speaking, they were in the tunnel, it was impossible to have wind. But this wind came suddenly. The strong wind brought up the dust on the ground and rustled Lin Rufei’s sleeves loudly. Lin Rufei was afraid that the wind would blow sand into his eyes so he couldn’t help but close them. He heard one or two mournful cries mixed in with the rustling wind but when he listened carefully once again, it felt like it was just an illusion. 

Gu Xuandu stood behind Lin Rufei and covered his eyes with his hand. His mouth continued to chant and only when the sound stopped, did the evil wind dissipate with it. 

Lin Rufei’s eyes were covered by Gu Xuandu so he couldn’t see anything and he hesitantly called out a “senior.”

Gu Xuandu’s voice was very close, seemingly leaning right next to his ear, “Did it scare Xiao Jiu?”

Lin Rufei shook his head, signaling that it was okay.

Gu Xuandu continued, “It worked.” After he said this, he slowly let go of his hand. Lin Rufei blinked a few times to get rid of the discomfort in his eyes. After seeing the scene in front of him, he sucked in a breath of cold air.

Fu Yu, who was originally lying in the center of the formation, opened his eyes. His black eyes carried a little bewilderment, as if he did not understand why he was here.

Lin Rufei revealed a look of surprise and called out, “Fu Yu.”

Being called by his name, Fu Yu slowly turned his head and cast his eyes on Lin Rufei’s body. Only this look was not quite the same as Lin Rufei had imagined. It was only surprising and not pleased and it even carried a bit of apathetic indifference. His thin lips opened slightly and he spoke: “Who are you?”

Lin Rufei answered, “I am Lin Rufei of the Kunlun Lin family, who happened to come to the Fu family to deliver the sword competition invitation.”

“Lin Rufei?” He chewed on this unfamiliar name and struggled to adjust to this body that had been dormant for a long time, “I……woke up?”

Lin Rufei nodded, “Yes, you’re awake.”

“How is the Fu family now?” He asked again.

Lin Rufei briefly talked about the Fu family’s situation, saying that the surrounding land had produced lush crops. It was just a pity that the Fu family had all the surrounding land deeds in their pocket. The Fu Family Village didn’t become rich, but the Fu family had become a wealthy family.

Fu Yu listened expressionlessly with half-lidded eyes. After listening, he said nothing, but asked, “Is my sword still with Fu Shui?”

Lin Rufei replied, “Yes.”

“Oh.” Fu Yu said, “Then I still have to make a trip to him to retrieve that sword.”

Lin Rufei frowned slightly, thinking that this Fu Yu was a bit strange. According to Fu Shui, Fu Yu had a stable and gentle nature and treated people with courtesy. Plus, he was willing to sacrifice so much for the Fu Family Village, so of course, he should be a warm person. But Lin Rufei only felt indifference and detachment from the body of the swordsman in front of him. He seemed to not care in the least about how the family was really doing and the first thing he asked was of his own sword.

“Thank you gongzi for waking me up.” After looking around and seeing the formation and the iron cage, Fu Yu remembered what happened before, “So I’ve been sleeping for so long, it is time to wake up.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Is there anything else you want to know?”

Fu Yu calmly shook his head.

Lin Rufei pursed his lips heavily, “Okay.”

The two of them were quiet for a moment and came out of the tunnel in silence. As soon as Fu Yu left, the huge spirit gathering formation would be ineffective and the Fu Family Village would turn into a wasteland without any grass again in the coming year. As for what would happen to Fu Shui and the others, Lin Rufei could care less.

However, at this moment, the atmosphere between Lin Rufei and Fu Yu was really scarily strange. Fu Yu expressionlessly walked towards the Fu Family Village as Lin Rufei frowned and followed him.

“What’s wrong with him?” Lin Rufei asked Gu Xuandu in a whisper, “Is there something wrong with this soul invocation, look at his state……not quite normal, ah.”

Gu Xuandu sighed, “Didn’t I say before, whether we can summon Fu Yu’s soul depended on his willingness.”

Lin Rufei was confused: “Didn’t he wake up though?”

“He is awake, but look at his appearance. It seems that his three souls and seven spirits are not complete.” Gu Xuandu was also a bit distressed, “The three souls are the Yang consciousness and the seven spirits are the Yin seven desires. If the invocation is not complete, in serious cases, the person will not wake up and in light cases……”  

Lin Rufei repeated, “In light cases, what will happen?”

Gu Xuandu answered, “In light cases, there is no sorrow, no joy, no desire, and no want.”

Lin Rufei finally understood and stared with wide eyes: “Then wouldn’t he just be a wooden man[1]?”

Gu Xuandu nodded, “On the bright side, it might just be a couple of spirits missing.”

Lin Rufei: “……”

The seven spirits were joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, evil, and desire. Even missing one would make someone abnormal. Seeing that Fu Yu didn’t even smile from the beginning, he certainly lost the joy spirit. He just didn’t know how many other emotions were still missing.

Lin Rufei had nothing to say and he only felt that the situation wasn’t good, “Why is it like this? Is there something wrong with my formation, I……”

“It has nothing to do with you, it’s Fu Yu’s own choice.” Gu Xuandu reassured Lin Rufei.

The two walked all the way back to the Fu family manor. When the servants guarding the door saw Fu Yu and Lin Rufei come back together, they were a little surprised and tentatively called out: “Er Gongzi……”

Fu Yu coldly glared over: “I am Fu Yu, where is Fu Shui?”

The servants were a bit confused. The one in the house was clearly Fu Yu, how did he become Fu Shui?  But Fu Yu’s creepy stare made them not have the courage to refute and they could only answer in a small voice: “In the main hall.” Fu Yu let out an “oh,” and continued to move forward.

Logically speaking, since the Fu Family Village had changed so much and he had not returned for some years, he should feel surprised. However, Fu Yu was completely indifferent. When he walked through the lush waves of wheat and stepped over the tall cornfields, Lin Rufei clearly saw that his black eyes were a deep lake of calm and waveless.

It was as if everything around him had nothing to do with him and he was just a traveler who happened to be passing by, walking on the road in a foreign land.

Lin Rufei felt a little bitterness in his mouth. He thought of many kinds of scenarios but did not expect this scene to happen.

Gu Xuandu, sensing his frustration, gently pressed Lin Rufei’s shoulder and coaxed softly, “Don’t be sad, this may……be a good thing for Fu Yu.”

Lin Rufei smiled bitterly, “When is there such a good thing?” 

Although he did not know Fu Yu, he should have known from Fu Shui’s description that Fu Yu shouldn’t be like this. 

While Lin Rufei was thinking this, Fu Yu was already striding towards the place where the servant had mentioned.

Fu Shui had received a severe beating from Lin Rufei so these days he was living in fear. He didn’t dare go out and didn’t dare show his face. He simply wanted to disappear in place.

At this moment, he was throwing a tantrum at some concubines when he heard someone knocking on the door of his room.

“Who is it! Can’t you see I’m busy!” Fu Shui yelled impatiently, “Let’s talk tomorrow if there’s anything!”

The person outside the door was quiet for a moment and knocked again, only this time a bit more heavily to the point that the vermillion door started to shake uncontrollably.

“Who……? Lin, Lin gongzi?” Seeing this, Fu Shui also knew that the person outside was definitely not his own. He hastily collected his aggressive aura and smiled, “You can just come in directly, why be so polite.”

The next moment, the door was pushed open. Fu Shui’s embarrassed smile froze on his face. He was stunned as he stared at the person who pushed the door in and his eyes were full of disbelief.

“Brother??? Brother, how come you’re back.” Fu Shui’s heart surged with ecstasy, but these ecstasies were soon washed away by other feelings, worry, fear, dread……countless flavors mixed together, eventually making the smile on his face gradually fade, “Why didn’t you say so in advance?”

Fu Yu calmly looked at his twin brother who grew up with him. There was no joy or sadness and he was indifferent as ice. He did not speak and simply extended his hand towards Fu Shui.

Fu Shui was full of bewilderment when he saw the situation. He didn’t understand the meaning behind Fu Yu’s action. 

“Sword.” Fu Yu’s mouth spat out a word.

Only then did Fu Shui wake up. He panicked and untied the sword on the side of his waist and handed it to his brother in front of him.

“Brother, you finally came back, I have waited for you for a long time, why did you come back only now, did you think our family did something wrong? If you think it’s wrong, we will change……you……” Fu Shui muttered scatterly, “Don’t leave anymore, our family is rich, we don’t have to suffer like in the past. We have everything, we have everything.” 

Who knew that after Fu Yu took the sword, he didn’t even look at him before turning around, wanting to leave. When Fu Shui saw the situation, he was alarmed. He directly reached out and grabbed Fu Yu’s sleeve and hissed: “Brother, are you still angry with me? I was wrong……I was wrong……forgive me please, OK?”

Fu Yu said, “I’m not angry with you.”

Fu Shui looked at Fu Yu dumbfounded.

“Why should I be angry with you?” Fu Yu’s voice was calm. Usually, his tone should have been gentle but Fu Shui clearly heard the taste of indifference from it.

He did not understand why the person in front of him was so strange. They should have been the most connected[2] twin, but at this time, he couldn’t really recognize Fu Yu. 

“Brother……” Fu Shui mumbled softly, “I really know that I was wrong. Whatever you say, I am willing to change. As long as you don’t go…… “

Fu Yu said, “Let go.”

Fu Shui froze and looked at Fu Yu.

Fu Yu continued, “I told you to let go.” He looked over obliquely and his black eyes were actually floating with strong killing intent. Fu Shui suddenly realized that Fu Yu was serious. If he pulled Fu Yu again, perhaps the swordsman in front of him would really have to draw his sword.

His hand let go in despair. Fu Shui looked at Fu Yu’s back and his body slowly and softly fell to the ground.

Lin Rufei did not go in but had waited outside. He watched Fu Yu go in quickly and come out quickly, the only difference was that he came out with an extra sword at his waist.

Lin Rufei recognized that it was the sword belonging to Fu Yu.

It was handed over to Fu Shui by Fu Yu himself and now it was back in his hand again.

Lin Rufei licked his lips, suddenly feeling a little thirsty, “Fu Yu, where are you going?”

Fu Yu looked at him. He seemed to be thinking about whether or not he should answer Lin Rufei’s question. He seemed to have remembered that he was awakened from the formation by Lin Rufei, thus he still ended up spitting out from his mouth, “I don’t know.”

Lin Rufei asked out of curiosity, “Don’t know?”

“I don’t know.” Fu Yu repeated, “As long as it’s not here. I don’t like it here.”

Lin Rufei sighed, “You’re leaving now?”

Fu Yu nodded.

“Are you still going to the Kunlun sword competition?” Lin Rufei asked, “The invitation was torn up by your brother……but it’s okay, just report your name.”

Fu Yu thought for a moment before nodding, indicating that he would go.

The two once again looked at each other quietly.

When Fu Yu saw that there were no more words to say, he turned around and was about to leave hence Lin Rufei hurriedly called out, “Wait!” 

Fu Yu turned back.

“Why don’t you come with me to see someone.” Lin Rufei suggested, “According to Fu Shui……he is your son.” Although he felt that Mo Mo’s origin might not be that simple.

“My son?” Fu Shui questioned, “But I don’t have a son.”

Lin Rufei sighed, “Go and see, just in case you recognize him?”

Fu Yu, however, looked a little hesitant.

“Just take a look, it’s not much time wasted.” Lin Rufei hurriedly persuaded, “Besides, once you leave, you probably won’t come back again, right?” 

Fu Yu was finally convinced by Lin Rufei. He nodded his head and agreed to Lin Rufei’s proposal, “Okay.”

Lin Rufei breathed a sigh of relief and took Fu Yu towards the courtyard where he was staying at.

At this time, it was dark and Mo Mo had already gone to sleep. After Fu Hua had just finished coaxing Mo Mo, she saw Lin Rufei arrive in the courtyard with Fu Yu.

Lin Rufei asked her where Mo Mo was and she reached out and pointed towards the bedroom behind her.

“Why is young master looking for Mo Mo?” Fu Yu asked.

Lin Rufei shook his head but did not say anything. He only gestured for her to go out first.

However, Fu Yu had already walked into the room and saw Mo Mo sleeping on the bed. Mo Mo was already asleep and although Fu Yu’s footsteps were very gentle, he still woke up the moment Fu Yu entered the room, as if his heart felt something. He could not see the slightest bit of sleep in his eyes and when their eyes met, there were no words for a moment.

The next moment, Mo Mo’s mouth erupted into ear-splitting sobs. He wailed and flung himself down from the bed. His mouth muttered unintelligible words, like a child who had suffered a lot of grievances but finally found someone to confide in, and big tears overflowed from his eyes, wetting his small cheeks.

Fu Yu, before Mo Mo made a move, had already stepped forwards and caught the little guy. The moment the two touched, his indifferent face was instantly filled with a complex look and even his eyes began to slowly accumulate tears. Fu Yu choked. With a trembling hand, he gently wiped the teardrops on the child’s face and called out his name: “Mo Mo.”

“Fu Yu……Fu Yu……” Mo Mo vaguely responded, “You’re back……”

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

[1] Not an actual man made of wood, but someone who doesn’t have expressions/desires. 

[2] Connected hearts and minds. 

Chapter 53: Truth No. 3

From the moment he woke Fu Yu up, it was Lin Rufei’s first time seeing such a complicated expression on his face. Fu Yu hugged Mo Mo tightly and the force was so strong it was like he was itching to merge him into his body.

Mo Mo seemed to be in pain from the hug, but he didn’t scream. He just obediently rested his chin on Fu Yu’s shoulder with a small whimper.

“Good boy, no more crying.” Fu Yu raised his hand and wiped away the tears on Mo Mo’s cheeks, “Didn’t I come back?” 

Mo Mo avoided Fu Yu’s hand, his small hand balled into a fist as he smacked Fu Yu on the shoulder and pouted: “You’re a bad person! Fu Yu is a bad person! Fu Yu lied to Mo Mo, lied to Mo Mo!” 

Fu Yu also didn’t dodge and allowed Mo Mo to continued hitting him. Lin Rufei felt strange looking at this scene since he rarely saw such a capricious look on Mo Mo. From the time he picked up Mo Mo, this child had been showing excessive knowledge and good behavior. Most likely the child understood in his heart that his capriciousness was only shown in front of those who indulge him. 

Although Fu Yu was being hit by Mo Mo, that little fist smashed against his body was more like an itch. However, Mo Mo’s hand turned red from hitting thus he began to cry. 

Fu Yu couldn’t help but laugh as he pinched Mo Mo’s small nose: “Alright, don’t make your hand hurt.”

“Why did you come back only now?” Mo Mo sobbed, “I thought I’d never see you again.”

Fu Yu was silent for a moment. He stroked Mo Mo’s head, turned his head to Lin Rufei, and said “thank you.” He then asked how Mo Mo came to be here with Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei then talked about his encounter with Mo Mo in detail to Fu Yu. After Fu Yu listened, his eyes lit up with fire. When he heard that Mo Mo was on the roadside begging for food and even robbed of it, he couldn’t help but grip the sword on his waist. Luckily, he was able to suppress the fire in the end as he eerily muttered, “So it was like that.” 

“By the way, Fu Shui said this was your son.” Lin Rufei was now most puzzled by this matter, “But then you say he is not? Then exactly who is Mo Mo……”

Fu Yu slightly pursed his lips and whispered, “Mo Mo……is a special existence.”

Lin Rufei was silent for a moment before finally voicing out his guess, “So in the end, how many souls and spirits of yours does Mo Mo possess?”

Fu Yu froze, seemingly not expecting Lin Rufei to say such a sentence.

“Of course, this is just my guess. If you don’t want to say, you don’t have to force yourself.” Lin Rufei continued.

Fu Yu, however, responded indifferently, “There’s no harm in talking about it.” Anyway, after leaving here, he won’t be coming back. He originally wanted to hand Mo Mo to Fu Hua, and then go outside to talk with Lin Rufei, but who knew that Mo Mo refused to get off him. He was like a dogskin plaster that stuck to him like glue. Fu Yu was afraid that if he forcibly pulled Mo Mo off that he would hurt him. In the end, it was Fu Hua who had pulled out a few pieces of malt candy and stuffed it into Mo Mo’s mouth, finally coaxing Mo Mo off of Fu Yu’s body. 

Seeing the malt candy, Fu Yu also reached out and took a little. He broke off a piece and put it into his mouth and walked outside with Lin Rufei while chewing.

The Summer night sky was clear and crisp with a full moon hanging over it.

The original lively Fu family mansion was terribly quiet today and only one or two cicadas could be heard coming from a distance. Lin Rufei found a chair and sat down casually. Fu Yu stood opposite him but didn’t have the intention to sit. He casually surveyed the surrounding buildings and said, “It’s changed a lot.”

Lin Rufei said, “Really.”

“Yes.” Fu Yu continued, “But to have such a change in the scenery from two or three years ago shows that I have achieved what I wanted to do at the beginning.” 

According to Fu Shui, Fu Yu had set up the formation so that the people of the entire Fu family could have enough to eat. Now it seemed that if someone had not interfered with it, it should have been realized long ago. However, Lin Rufei noticed that when Fu Yu said these words, there was no emotion or nostalgia on his face, but rather a faint indifference—as if when he had left Mo Mo, he had changed back to the Fu Yu who had just woken up from the formation.

“About Mo Mo, it’s a long story.” After talking about the past, Fu Yu cleanly mentioned the truth that Lin Rufei was most curious about, “Back then, I wanted to lay a spirit gathering formation to improve the recent situation of the Fu Family Village, but that spirit gathering formation could not operate on its own. It needed a sword cultivator to be the formation eye, so I wanted to use myself as the formation eye for the formation to work.”

Lin Rufei listened quietly.

“But to leave for so many years was also not plausible. Furthermore, I promised my brother that I would return in the coming Autumn, so I had to simply come up with a method.” Fu Yu said, “To make a physical body and then attach one soul and three spirits to it, so to replace me.” 

Mo Mo was apparently the replacement made by Fu Yu and he also fulfilled his promise to Fu Shui and returned to the Fu family before the coming Autumn.

“But this replacement was not complete and the method used was a bit rough, so his mind would be very fuzzy.” Fu Yu lightly said the shocking truth, “He thought he was my child. I didn’t explain and let him do as he pleased.” He walked towards Lin Rufei and sat down lazily in front of him, overcome with boredom, “I didn’t expect him to live such a miserable life.”

Lin Rufei felt a bit sad in his heart when he heard him say these things in such a tone. No wonder the soul of Fu Yu refused to return to its place, it turned out the soul was in Mo Mo’s body.

“If the soul is lost, there will be after-effects.” Lin Rufei said, “Do you know that?”

“Yes.” Fu Yu answered, “The one who helped, told me all the pros and cons of the matter, but what does it matter?” He raised his hand, very indifferent, “I feel good about myself now, even better than before—”

Lin Rufei was silent.

Fu Yu continued, “I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking that I’ve changed a lot and become impersonal, but it can’t be helped, the human touch is all in that little guy.” He smiled abruptly, “And probably only when I am with him, can I taste a little bit of the old feeling. However, that’s actually not a good feeling……you know, with such family members, it’s really not a pleasant thing.”

The Fu family failed Fu Yu. If the previous Fu Yu came back and saw everything in front of him, although he didn’t know his identity, he would most likely be very sad. Plus the recent situation with Mo Mo, it was probably not a pleasant thing. However, the Fu Yu in front of him lost the main joy and sadness of the three spirits and when he looked at the Fu family, it was as if he was looking at a group of strangers. How they were, had nothing to do with him at all.

Was this a good thing for Fu Yu? Lin Rufei could not answer.

Fu Yu also didn’t care about Lin Rufei’s reaction and continued on his own: “Now the Fu family has been wealthy for three years. Looking at them, it seems they also have quite a lot of money. I think I have repaid the kindness of my parents by doing so, so it’s just right for me to leave.” 

Lin Rufei sighed: “Is Mo Mo still a person?”

“He should be, right?” Fu Yu thought with a hand tapping his chin, “I do not know myself, but that person said Mo Mo was no different from a normal human……so he should be considered a person.”

Lin Rufei repeated, “That person?”

“It was the person who set up the formation for me.” Fu Yu replied.

Lin Rufei asked: “You know him very well?”

Fu Yu shook his head, “Not really, I met him unintentionally and he was the one who gave me the idea to do a spirit gathering formation.”

Lin Rufei frowned.

Fu Yu continued: “I also thought about whether he deliberately approached me or not. However, later when I thought deeply about it, even if he didn’t say, I would have thought of this method sooner or later. It was just the length of time, so it did not bring too much loss.”

Lin Rufei said, “If I hadn’t laid the formation to summon the souls, your three souls and seven spirits would not have been able to return to their places. You still don’t consider that a loss?”

Fu Yu laughed: “Maybe the Fu Yu, in the beginning, didn’t think that feeding a tiger with his body[1] was a bad thing.” Buddha cut off his flesh to feed the eagle[2], to the onlookers, it seemed foolish. But in the end, it was his own flesh being fed so why should he listen to others’ opinions?

When he said this, he got up and did not intend to continue.

Lin Rufei wanted to ask some more about that person, but when he saw that Fu Yu did not want to talk about it, he had to give up. Looking at his back, he let out a light sigh. He saw him go into the room to carry Mo Mo out as the two decided to leave. Mo Mo obediently stayed in Fu Yu’s arms and when he saw Lin Rufei, he called out to him, “Thank you, brother.”

This was the first time Mo Mo called Lin Rufei ‘brother.’ It was as if as long as he stayed in Fu Yu’s arms, Mo Mo’s blurred mind would clear up a lot and his eyes would no longer be dull, as if it gained a few more spiritual light.

“No need to thank me.” Lin Rufei returned. He told Fu Yu to wait for a moment and called for Fu Hua. He told Fu Hua to wrap all the malt candy she bought as a parting gift for Mo Mo.

These days, Fu Hua and Mo Mo got along very well. Hearing that this child had to leave, Fu Hua had red eyes in the room. Now that she heard Lin Rufei’s words, tears had already started to form in her eyes. In the end, she forcibly held them back. With her head hung, she wrapped the malt candy for Mo Mo and stuffed it into the child’s arms.

However, Mo Mo grabbed Fu Hua’s finger and softly called out ‘sister.’

When she heard this “sister,” she burst into tears. She raised her hand and took Mo Mo into her arms, crying: “Mo Mo, you and your father must live well, if you encounter anything, send a letter to sister.” With tears in her eyes, she put the paper cranes into Mo Mo’s pocket and taught him carefully how to use them. Mo Mo listened obediently.

When Fu Yu saw this scene, he could not help but laugh and Lin Rufei asked him what he was laughing at.

“I did not expect her to be the first to shed tears for me.” Fu Yu said.

Lin Rufei was speechless.

“My brother Fu Shui actually loved to cry when he was young.” Fu Yu muttered, “I thought that when he saw me, he would cry and mourn first.” But when he saw him, it was like seeing a ghost that wanted to kill, even if he cried, it was probably from fear. So uninteresting.

Lin Rufei also did not know what to say so he could only sigh: “People will change.”

“Yes.” Fu Yu nodded, “People will change.”

Fu Hua reluctantly said goodbye to Mo Mo. She didn’t know the relationship between Mo Mo and Fu Yu and only thought they were father and son. She got up and carefully advised Fu Yu to pay a lot of attention to the things that children needed to pay attention to; such as Mo Mo’s body was weak and could not eat ice otherwise he would get a stomachache. When he slept at night, he liked to be cool so he would always show his stomach and that he must watch out for that.

Lin Rufei was worried that Fu Yu would be impatient, but when he listened to the end, he seriously thanked Fu Hua. When Fu Hua finished, she was also embarrassed. She raised a hand and pulled a strand of hair around the ear, blushing: “Fu gongzi don’t blame me for talking too much, it’s my first time taking care of a child, and Mo Mo is so well behaved……a few days down the line, I’m a bit reluctant to let go.”

Fu Yu took a look at Mo Mo: “Such a skinny little monkey is well behaved?”

When Mo Mo heard this, his black slinky eyes immediately widened: “Mo Mo is not a monkey!” He hatefully rushed onto Fu Yu’s shoulder and bit his arm. But to Fu Yu, this sixth-level cultivator, this bite from Mo Mo’s little white teeth was simply like scratching an itch.

Fu Yu’s expression didn’t change and he continued to thank Fu Hua.

But Fu Hua showed a bit of concern. She seemed to think that this excessively young father was a bit unreliable. Who would say in front of their child that they looked like a monkey? Besides, Mo Mo was just a bit thin, once he became chubby he would definitely be an obedient child. Although she thought so, in the end, this was someone else’s child. It wasn’t good for her to continue to speak and she could only wipe the corner of her eyes.

Fu Yu held Mo Mo and said goodbye to Lin Rufei and Lin Rufei asked him where he was going.

He first thought seriously, but then shook his head and said he had no definite place to go. He just didn’t want to stay here anymore and would probably find a place first and recuperate for a while before making plans.

“Then you have to find a good place.” Fu Hua hurriedly said, “The child is too small, travel and hardship can easily make him sick.”

Fu Yu smiled, “How about this miss help me raise Mo Mo for a few days?” 

Fu Hua said angrily: “Fu gongzi don’t joke with me……” She knew that Fu Yu was teasing her.

Lin Rufei knew the inside story and did not say anything on the side. In his heart, he thought that since Fu Yu dared to say this, wouldn’t he be afraid if Fu Hua decided to say yes? But even if she agreed, it didn’t seemed to matter, after all, she saw how Mo Mo stuck to Fu Yu and certainly, he(MM) would not agree to separate with him(FY).

The words that have been said, were all said.  Fu Yu waved his hand and left the courtyard with Mo Mo.

Fu Hua stupidly stared at Mo Mo. She quietly wiped away her tears until a sigh came from Lin Rufei: “It seems that the girl has grown up and can no longer stay.” 

“Young master, what are you talking about?” Fu Hua blushed and shyly said, “I just like Mo Mo.” She didn’t know as much as Lin Rufei. She only knew that Fu Yu and Fu Shui were two people and that Fu Shui took advantage of Fu Yu not being at home to prey on the people. The first time she caught a glance at Fu Yu, she immediately had a good impression of this swordsman. However, she didn’t think anything else of it, she just couldn’t let go of Mo Mo.

Lin Rufei laughed: “There is no hurry, Fu Yu has agreed to come to Kunlun to participate in the sword competition. After a while, you can probably see him once more.”

Fu Hua was surprised, “Really?” Then she got depressed again, “But what if he doesn’t bring Mo Mo?”

Lin Rufei said, “Then just ask him to bring him.”

Fu Hua nodded thoughtfully.

With Fu Yu gone, the courtyard was quiet once again. It was late at night and it was also time for Lin Rufei to sleep. But at this time, he had no intention of sleeping. He sat in the courtyard and looked dazedly at the moon in the sky.

Gu Xuandu accompanied him. The two did not talk to each other and it was a tacit silence.

Until after midnight, the sky suddenly blew a strong wind as drifting dark clouds covered the bright moon. Just a look and he knew heavy rain was about to pour.

“It’s going to rain, go back.” In the wind, Gu Xuandu’s voice was a bit quiet.

Lin Rufei muttered, “But I can’t sleep and the house is stuffy.”

Gu Xuandu asked, “Are you unhappy?”

Lin Rufei pursed his lips.

Gu Xuandu seldom saw this aggrieved look on Lin Rufei’s face, but now when he saw him pursing his lips with the corners of his eyes drooped and not saying a word, he couldn’t help but smile. He tapped his fingertips on his frowning forehead: “Who messed with my Xiao Jiu?” 

Lin Rufei shook his head and did not speak.

“Actually, this is not a bad thing for Fu Yu.” Gu Xuandu said, “The past him probably would not have left the Fu family. And when he encountered such a thing, he would probably just be sad for a while. Its good nowadays though, he simply became two people……” He split the weak part from his body and turned it into Mo Mo. No more feelings and naturally, no more sadness. 

Lin Rufei asked: “But if the Fu Yu during that time knew about his current self, wouldn’t he be very sad?” 

Gu Xuandu was dumbfounded.

Lin Rufei sighed, “He definitely will be, right.”

Raindrops fell one at a time as the big ones fell onto the dry land. Lin Rufei got up and entered the room while a curtain of splashing rain formed behind him. He raised his hand and closed the window, isolating the noisy rain outside.

The room was stiflingly hot and Lin Rufei did not care to sleep. Sitting at the table, he drank cold tea with a tired look. His black and thick eyelashes were half hanging, revealing a sickly sickness.

Gu Xuandu also did not urge him to sleep. Out of nowhere, he bought out a jug of wine and placed it in front of Lin Rufei. He simply poured half a cup and handed it to Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei’s body was weak and he rarely touched alcoholic beverages, so when he saw that Gu Xuandu was persuading him to drink, he felt very strange. He took the wine cup and saw the emerald-colored clear liquor inside. He put it near his nose and sniffed, taking in the mellow wine aroma.

“What a fragrant wine.” Lin Rufei praised, “Where did it come from?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Secretly went out to buy it.”

Lin Rufei raised his hand and took a sip, all of a sudden, a sweet red surfaced on his pale cheeks and his eyes were dense with blurred vapor. He opened his lips slightly and his mouth hissed uncontrollably, “So spicy—” Then his expression shook and he looked down at the wine in his own cup, “What a good wine!”

Gu Xuandu sat across from Lin Rufei. He propped up his chin and looked at him. His eyes were full of doting in a way that Lin Rufei hadn’t noticed, “The wine is strong, drink slowly.”

Lin Rufei then drank the remaining half cup in one go. Probably because he drank too quickly, he choked himself. He could not help but shake his shoulders and cough violently: “Cough cough, cough cough—”

Gu Xuandu hurriedly helped him to breathe properly again. 

He choked really hard this time and Lin Rufei coughed out tears. His eyes were red, as if he was bullied for a while and had just cried. When Gu Xuandu took in his appearance, he slowed down his hand movements and murmured in a slow voice: “Why are you so careless?”

Lin Rufei said, “I’m, I’m fine.” He waved his hand, indicating that he was fine, “I just drank a little too quickly.”

After he finished, he raised his cup and looked at Gu Xuandu bashfully, “Can I have another cup?”

Gu Xuandu said, “You’ll get drunk.”

Lin Rufei stated indifferently, “If I’m drunk, then I’m drunk. Anyway, there is senior guarding me so I’m not afraid of accidents.” 

Gu Xuandu laughed helplessly. In his heart, he thought; You don’t understand, if you’re really drunk then the biggest accident will probably be me. He raised his hand and pressed Lin Rufei’s lips, which were red from the wine, and wiped away the crystal clear water stains with slight effort. He rejected in a deep voice: “No.” 

Lin Rufei didn’t even realize there was anything wrong with Gu Xuandu’s actions. He swung his head to avoid Gu Xuandu’s hand but did not succeed, so he called out “senior,” in an aggrieved manner. This voice was soft and tender, almost like a feather scratching at Gu Xuandu’s heart. Gu Xuandu felt bad so he withdrew his hand, “You can’t drink more of this wine.” 

“Just one more cup, just one more cup……” Drunkenness started to surface in Lin Rufei’s eyes but he still did not forget to act spoiled. It was just like how he treated his older brothers and sister when he was younger. He blinked his wet eyes. He knew what kind of look could make people go soft easily so that he didn’t have to drink that bitter Chinese medicine…..

How could Gu Xuandu stand Lin Rufei’s look? He was a little deflated and used his last perseverance to resist: “No.”

“A small cup, just a small cup.” Lin Rufei used his fingers to show a small distance and muttered, “I’ll go to sleep after drinking.”

Gu Xuandu sighed knowing that he was defeated. He took out the wine jug and poured another half cup into Lin Rufei’s cup. Lin Rufei was looking seriously from the side and when he saw that Gu Xuandu was only willing to pour himself half a cup, he didn’t forget to mutter that senior was really stingy.

Gu Xuandu thought to himself: If I am not petty, you will probably regret it. 

This wine tasted mellow and rich. Although it went down extremely spicy, the aftertaste was amazing. The many good wines that Lin Rufei had on Kunlun were not as good as this jug in front of him. He knew that Gu Xuandu would not pour him another cup so Lin Rufei then carefully sipped the remaining half. His slightly drunken eyes gradually surfaced with thick drunkenness and his pale cheeks reddened.

He was drunk and talked more. Soon he started to complain about messy trivialities to Gu Xuandu saying that the prescription prescribed by Wan Yao was really hard to drink and that it was bitter to the heart. He chanted that Fu Hua and Yu Rui watched him too tightly and didn’t even give him the opportunity to pour out the medicine. The worst was that the two of them believed he had hysteria. And finally, he blamed Gu Xuandu, saying that he was too petty and was only willing to pour half a cup of wine. He wanted to find a generous senior, who would pour him a little more……

Gu Xuandu reached out and grabbed Lin Rufei’s wrist, asking him, “Which senior are you going to find?”

Lin Rufei stuttered, “Find……find one who will give me wine to drink.”

Gu Xuandu questioned, “Just because I won’t give you wine to drink?”

Lin Rufei nodded obediently.

Gu Xuandu was exasperated to the point of laughter. He grabbed him and pulled him into his arms. Most likely because Lin Rufei’s health was not good since childhood, his body size was much slimmer than Gu Xuandu. His bone structure also wasn’t big and it was just enough for Gu Xuandu to completely gather him into his arms. Lin Rufei, who was grabbed by Gu Xuandu, was like a child who did something wrong. He couldn’t help but shrink his neck and whisper: “What do you want? ” He thought Gu Xuandu was going to beat him up.

Gu Xuandu asked, “Is Xiao Jiu drunk?”

Lin Rufei looked at Gu Xuandu blankly, he did not understand what he meant by this. But from his eyes, he was already a chaotic, drunken mess. He tilted his head to look at Gu Xuandu and could not stop shaking his head: “I’m not drunk, I’m a good drinker……”

Gu Xuandu looked at Lin Rufei. His eyes were obscure and unclear. After a long time, he let out a low sigh: “Being drunk is fine.” 

As the words fell, Lin Rufei’s eyes went black and he felt a cold hand over his eyes. He was about to speak but his lips were covered with something warm. Lin Rufei whimpered and tried to struggle out of Gu Xuandu’s arms, but the force from the person behind him was so strong that it held him in place.

After the kiss, Lin Rufei fell into Gu Xuandu’s arms weakly. The darkness gave rise to his boundless sleep. He slowly closed his eyes and just fell into a deep sleep like that.

When Gu Xuandu heard Lin Rufei’s steady breathing, he moved his hand, and saw that Lin Rufei had closed his eyes. He had leaned on his shoulder and fell into a deep sleep.

“I am quite petty.” Gu Xuandu looked at his sleeping face and mocked himself in a low voice, “I’ve never been generous regarding you.” Even a single strand of hair, he wanted to grasp it tightly in his hand. 

But he didn’t know if the grip was too tight because all of it flowed through his fingers.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: You should thank me.

Lin Rufei: Why?

Gu Xuandu: I held back! 

Lin Rufei: It’s not you who held back, it’s the Jinjiang censorship that forced you to hold you back. 

Gu Xuandu: ………………….

Who would have thought, because of writing kittens drinking milk[3] in the old articles, it was then picked out by the audit and locked _(:з」∠)_

Author: Alright. Let’s not drink milk anymore. Let’s make do with eating cat food. 

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[1] So I really couldn’t find an English version for these stories so I will just paste them here. I have no idea how accurate they are since I translate them from Chinese to English, so if you guys know a more correct version/or find names wrong please leave a comment 🙂 

The Prince of Gandhara Kingdom did not like glory and wealth and fled to live in the mountains and followed his master’s practice in the forest.

There was a deep valley below the mountain forest where the Prince lived. At that time, there was a hungry tiger in the deep valley, which had just given birth to seven tiger cubs, and the winter was so cold and snowy that the mother tiger carried the cubs and stayed under the deep valley for three days.

But the snow still kept falling, the tiger mother and child were starving and trapped in the deep valley, and they were about to die; the mother tiger was forced by hunger and even wanted to eat the tiger cub.

When the immortals saw this scene, they asked, “Who can give up his body to save the tigers below?” The Prince was practicing meditation at that time, and when he heard the question from his meditation, he thought to himself, “Very well! My wish has come true.”

As soon as the prince’s words fell, the mandala flowers rained down and the earth shook. The Prince then took off his deerskin garment, wrapped his head around it, and then jumped off the hanging rock and fell down beside the hungry tiger. After the mother tiger got the flesh and blood of the Bodhisattva, she and her tiger cub were saved.

[2] And the second story: 

Before he became a Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama once went through a period of hard work. Legend has it that one day he was meditating in the forest when an eagle was chasing a pigeon in the sky. The pigeon was desperate and when he saw Siddhartha Gautama, it flew inside his sleeve in an attempt to escape from a disaster.

Naturally, Siddhartha Gautama understood the pigeon’s desire to live, so he said to the eagle: “Please let the pigeon go, the heavens have the virtue of good life.“

But the eagle replied: “If I release this pigeon, then this pigeon is alive, but I will starve to death, where is the virtue of good life?“

Then Siddhartha Gautama said: “I am willing to give the same weight of meat for the life of the pigeon.” So he took a scale, put the pigeon on the other side of the scale, and then he himself began to cut his own flesh with a knife. Strangely enough, the pigeon was not heavy, but Siddhartha Gautama cut a lot of flesh and still did not make the scale balance.

Finally he jumped onto the scale himself and the scale was finally balanced. He closed his eyes and said, “If I don’t go to hell, who will go to hell? You can eat me.“

[3] So uhh, please correct me if I’m wrong on this. So this took me a while to find. Apparently 小奶猫 (kitten) can refer to cute girls, however, in this case I’m assuming it refers to LRF. And then drinking milk, means to drink….semen (the idea is that because they are both white—this took me forever to find) so what is implied here is that because the author wrote some *** stuff, her chapters got locked XD 

Chapter 54: Dajing

The next day, a hungover Lin Rufei woke up with a headache. He had just opened his eyes when he felt a splitting headache. He covered his head in bed and moaned lowly. And for a long time, he was not able to get up.

Gu Xuandu sighed from the side, he said ‘Xiao Jiu Xiao Jiu, if you don’t listen to senior’s words you will suffer.’ However, he still sat next to Lin Rufei and put his head on his lap, gently helping him press and rub his sore temples.

Lin Rufei was drowsy from the pressure and complained in a whisper about how his head hurt so much.

“I said that the wine was strong, you still do not listen.” Gu Xuandu said.

Lin Rufei grunted: “It’s because senior’s wine was too fragrant, I couldn’t resist it.”

Gu Xuandu laughed: “Somehow it’s my fault now.”

His temple was rubbed by Gu Xuandu for a while and it relieved a lot of swelling and pain. Lin Rufei slowly got up from the bed and summoned Fu Hua to say he was hungry.

When Fu Hua noticed that Lin Rufei had not woken up, she was worried. Now, when she heard Lin Rufei’s instruction, she finally let out a sigh of relief. However, she noticed an alcoholic smell in the room had not been dispersed yet and asked why young master was drinking.

Lin Rufei said: “Yesterday I couldn’t sleep, so I drank a little.”

“Then you have to drink less.” Fu Hua was a little worried and nagged: “Young master is still coughing and this wine is hot and dry, so it may suppress the medicine.”

Lin Rufei nodded his head and said he understood. He leaned against the bed listlessly and was starting to regret yesterday’s excess cup. However, on second thought, if Gu Xuandu took out the wine jug again, he would probably beg Gu Xuandu to pour him another half cup.

Humans, ah, are always so contradictory.

Fu Hua brought Lin Rufei food and hangover soup. After watching him eat, she told Yu Rui to bring the boiled medicine.

Lin Rufei looked at the medicine with a frown. However, due to his maids watching him like a hawk, he had no choice. He could only pinch his nose and down the medicine in one go. He whispered under his breath that he didn’t know if this medicine was effective even if he drank it every day. Fu Hua and Yu Rui smiled and didn’t say anything on the side. 

Then after a simple wash and a bit of tidying up, they also intend to leave the Fu Family Village. 

But when they walked to the door with their carriage, they saw Fu Shui with a large number of Fu family members guarding the door. When they saw him, they hurriedly greeted him and called out, “Lin gongzi ……”

Lin Rufei’s impression of this Fu Shui was really not good and he expressionlessly hummed an agreement. 

The weather was hot and he didn’t know how long Fu Shui had been waiting here. His head was covered with exaggerated sweat as he said, “Lin gongzi, have you seen my brother?”

Lin Rufei said, “No.”

“Yesterday he asked me for the sword and I heard from the subordinates that he went to your courtyard.” Fu Shui said, “As a result, I never saw him come out again.”

“He left by sword.” Lin Rufei replied briefly.

“Left? How come he left?” Fu Shui lost his soul, “This, this …… heard that he came back, the family has laid out a banquet and wanted to receive him properly, how come he left.”

“Why did he leave, do you still want to ask me?” Lin Rufei thought it was strange.

Fu Shui let out an embarrassed smile: “Although my brother is angry with me, we are a family after all. If there is something wrong as long as he says it, we can also change.”

Lin Rufei said, “I’m not your brother, why are you talking to me about this?” He was already a little impatient and gave Fu Hua a look. Fu Hua understood tacitly and raised her whip with a crack. 

Who knew that Fu Shui would step forward and stop the carriage with his body. He cried out: “Lin gongzi, please save our Fu family. Without my brother, we really can’t live. For the sake of this family’s elders and children, please tell me where my brother is! Saving a life is more meritorious than building a seven-floor pagoda. Lin gongzi, our Fu family’s dozens of people are begging you!” After saying that, he kneeled down and cried and the old and young behind him also cried. This scene was very spectacular.

Lin Rufei now finally understood why Fu Yu had to leave quietly. If such a big family knew about it, he certainly could not leave.

But Fu Yu was from the Fu family. He(FY) should at least give some face to the family. However, Lin Rufei had no relationship with the Fu family and he also didn’t let Fu Shui push him around. So Fu Shui, who was kowtowing to Lin Rufei with his family, suddenly felt a cold chill coming from the top of his head. When he looked up again, he felt a chill on his head and something rustled onto his shoulder.

Fu Shui shuddered. He reached out and dumbly touched his head. He looked at Lin Rufei who drew his sword and then realized that the hair against his scalp was cut by Lin Rufei. If he went a little lower, he would have mutilated his head.

“The first time is a warning.” Lin Rufei said without mercy, “If you dare to say one more word, the next time it will be your neck that suffers.”

Fu Shui suddenly turned pale and cried out before falling to the ground. When the people behind him saw how unfeeling Lin Rufei was, they all shied away in fear. Lin Rufei’s face did not change and simply waved his hand. When Fu Hua saw the situation, she cracked the whip and the carriage sped away, leaving a bunch of ashen-faced Fu family members.

Only after the carriage drove out of the Fu family estate did Lin Rufei understand why they had such an attitude towards them. Within a few dozen miles, the original lush green crops had all withered overnight. Without the spirit gathering formation and Fu Yu as the nucleus, these crops could not even last one night. The Fu Family Village once again turned back to the salt-alkaline land where no grass grows, only this time, no one knew how many years later, would a second Fu Yu appear.

No, perhaps never, Lin Rufei thought, not to mention the Fu Family Village, probably in the whole world, they wouldn’t be able to find a few Fu Yu’s. 

She was probably aware that Lin Rufei’s mood was not good so Yu Rui casually talked about the next place they were going to go. She said that the place was very amazing and that the whole country is full of temples. Lin Rufei casually asked: “Temples? They believe in Buddhism?”

“No, they don’t believe in Buddha.” Yu Rui said, “They believe in the Heavenly Ruler.”

The name “Heavenly Ruler” was familiar to all the continents and Lin Rufei had seen many stories about him in books. But most of these stories had a touch of mythology, similar to those about the current cutting the dragon[1] and so on.  It always didn’t feel quite real.

Yu Rui said: “Gongzi should have heard of the name of this country.”

Lin Rufei said, “What is it called?”

Yu Rui said, “Dajing.”

Dajing. Lin Rufei had indeed heard of this country’s name, but he only heard of it and didn’t know it too well. Nowadays, the Yaoguang continent was divided into four countries and although there were some minor frictions, it was said that there had not been any major wars for many years. Most of the people who cultivate immortality would not participate in worldly disputes. After all, they could no longer get much benefits from it.

Compared to money, power, and self-interest, the only way through was the Avenue of Eternal Life. After all, mortals lived only for a few dozen years. No matter how powerful, in the end, they would all have graves. 

Of course, there would be some cultivators who could no longer further their cultivation that were recruited by the country. These cultivators, in times of war, would play an extremely important role, after all, a fifth-level sword cultivator could cut a hundred people with one swing. On the battlefield, they were naturally a powerful weapon to break the enemy.

But these sword cultivators, who were involved in worldly things, usually don’t have very high cultivation. Level five cultivators were already very rare. 

The carriage continued to move forward and the surrounding scenery changed. After leaving the salt-alkaline land of the Fu Family Village, he once again saw the lush plants and crops along the roadside and the houses gradually turned into ordinary brick houses. After traveling on for another ten days, a prosperous city was seen.

Lin Rufei sent a letter to Kunlun along the way, describing in graphic detail what he encountered. But of course, the letter deliberately omitted the dangers he encountered and only said some interesting things. Those on Kunlun also quickly replied to the letter. It was still the same old story that repeatedly urged Lin Rufei to pay attention to safety. That if he encountered someone who he couldn’t fight, to escape first. Lin Rufei chuckled when he read the letter. In his older siblings’ dictionary, there was certainly no such word as “flee,” but when it came to him, they wanted to carve this word onto Lin Rufei’s brain. They were afraid that their younger brother would suffer.

On the first day of entering Dajing, Lin Rufei saw what Yu Rui meant by amazing. Every three steps in this place there was a small temple. Every five steps there was a large temple. There was a temple everywhere related to the Heavenly Ruler. The temples were full of incense and it was evident that the people of the country were indeed worshipping with devotion.

Lin Rufei wondered why the country had such an attitude toward the Heavenly Ruler, so he casually asked a roadside vendor when he was buying something.

When the vendor heard this, he came to life, “Guest, you are a newcomer to Dajing, right?”

Lin Rufei said, “Yes.”

The vendor said, “No wonder. Those that have lived in Dajing for a while, won’t ask this question.” With that, he gesticulated his hands and explained why Dajing had such reverence for the Heavenly Ruler.

The time goes back to several hundred years ago when the formation protecting the continent had not yet been laid. The demons of the Bu’e Continent often invaded. The demons were so strong that they tore open the void and opened the entrance right above the land of Dajing. Most of the people in Dajing were ordinary mortals, if they had successfully invaded, then Dajing would have suffered a brutal slaughter. However, for those who have ascended the immortal path, why would they care about the mortals? Mortals were always like ants in the eyes of immortals, not even mentioning those big families. Dajing did everything in their power, but could only invite just slightly more than 100 cultivators from the country. However, with their power, they could not resist the demons. Just when Dajing was in a time of despair, the Heavenly Ruler came with his sword ……

“Legend has it that that Heavenly Ruler was already at the tenth level of cultivation and would have ascended in a few more days. They never thought that he would actually care about such trivial matters.” The vendor said excitedly, as if he was a spectator of that great battle, “When the Heavenly Ruler raged, millions of dead bodies were buried. The sharp sword in his hand alone cut off the heads of millions of demons and finally, he also sealed the opened entrance. Our Dajing had less than 10,000 deaths, which has been a great blessing in misfortune. What happened later on, you should also know. “

Lin Rufei said: “Then the Heavenly Ruler laid down a formation to protect the entire continent?”

“Yes, yes, he was obviously about to leave, but he still cared about the world. Such a person! Really worthy of the name Heavenly Ruler!” The vendor said.

Lin Rufei had actually seen the battle from books, but the description was so exaggerated that he was somewhat unconvinced. After all, to defeat tens of thousands of demons with the power of one man was really unimaginable. Besides, time has passed, and most people who read that history would feel that it was somewhat exaggerated. Lin Rufei was no exception.

But these dense temples and offerings in the territory of Dajing told Lin Rufei that a great battle was indeed true. Otherwise, the people of Dajing would not be so grateful and the incense would not have continued to be burned for a hundred years without stopping.  

After eating the food, Lin Rufei went to the nearby temple and saw a statue belonging to the Heavenly Ruler placed in the temple.

The statue was dressed in red and it stood with a sword. Although it was already quite old, its spiritual elegance was still visible. In front of the statue, there were incense burners and praying mats. All around were incense-bearers who were making offerings making the scene very lively.

Lin Rufei was looking up at the statue but was bumped by a child running around. He did not care and simply raised his hand to support the child, telling him to be more careful. The child glanced at Lin Rufei, answered, and intended to run out, but he just took two steps, when he was grabbed by the collar.

“What are you grabbing me for?!” The child screamed and struggled uncontrollably.

Lin Rufei looked towards the sound, and to his surprise, he saw a familiar face, “Why is Little master here?”

The one who grabbed the child was the monk that Lin Rufei had met by chance on the Xiliang Mountains. The monk was still gentle and kind and smiled, “Probably because I have fate with benefactor.” 

“Stinky monk, stinky monk—let go of me!” When the child saw that Lin Rufei and the monk knew each other, he struggled even more, and when he saw that the monk had no intention of letting go, he turned his head and tried to bite the monk’s hand. The monk slightly raised his hand and lifted the little thing up by the collar, “Biting is not a good habit.” He looked at Lin Rufei and asked, “Benefactor take a look, are you missing anything?”

Only then did Lin Rufei suddenly realize. He felt around his bosom and found that his pouch was indeed missing. This child’s technique was really good, he did not feel that he had been stolen from at all.

Seeing that his deed had been discovered, the child could only obediently pull out the pouch. However, he still glared at the monk with hatred and cursed, “You bad monk!”

The monk laughed with a good temper: “You’re the one who stole, how come I’m the bad monk instead.”

The boy said: “He is a noble’s son, it’s not like he would die without a pouch. However, if I don’t steal something, then I will be killed alive!” His sophistry sounded very justified, “You helped him, but it cost me my life. Tell me, are you a bad monk or not?!”

The monk was stunned: “Since you say it like that, it does make some sense.” 

The child said, “Right!”

The monk said seriously: “Then how about this, I will help you kill the person who wants to kill you, then you don’t have to die. What do you think?”

The boy froze at his words, but could not help but shrink his neck. He felt very strange, the monk was obviously speaking softly but how come the words he spoke sounded very creepy and scary? He reluctantly said: “No need for that kind of trouble, just give me some money so that I can go back to turn it in. Troublesome things such as killing ……”

Who knew that the monk would shake his head, sigh, and say, “No trouble, no trouble, killing is much easier than making money.” As he said this, he also pulled out his patched pouch. He shook it in his hand and only three coins fell out of the pouch, nothing else. 

The child was frightened by the monk’s words and yelled out a sentence: “You are crazy!” He turned around and ran away. His back was really wretched.

Lin Rufei wanted to laugh. He said, ‘such a small child, why are you scaring him?’

But the monk was righteous: “He is reasonable, I am also reasonable, how can you say that I am scaring him?” As a result, just after he said this, Lin Rufei heard a gurgling sound coming from the monk’s body.

Yu Rui could not help but laugh: “Little master, how long have you not eaten?!”

The monk sighed: “I’m embarrassingly short of money, ah.”

Lin Rufei said, “It just so happens that we are also going to eat, so why don’t you join us, little master?”

The monk said, “I don’t want a reward if it is not deserved. How is this appropriate?”

Lin Rufei said, “How can you say that you don’t deserve it? Little master has just helped me find my pouch.”

“You’re right.” The monk nodded, “Then I’ll trouble benefactor.”

And so a group of people walked outside. Lin Rufei asked the monk for his name. The monk said he was called Xuan Qing, from Nanyin Temple, and was traveling around, and it just so happened that the imperial family of Dajing had encountered something and invited him to help.

“Then Master Xuan Qing is unable to eat meat, right?” When he spoke of eating, Lin Rufei suddenly remembered this.

“Yes.” Xuan Qing said, “Monks are easy to feed. Benefactor can just buy this monk two steamed buns.”

How was Lin Rufei willing? He heavily dragged Xuan Qing, chose a good restaurant, and deliberately ordered a lot of vegetarian food for him.

Xuan Qing also didn’t know how long he had not eaten. Once the food came up, he immediately stopped talking with Lin Rufei, held the chopsticks, and ate incredibly seriously.  

Lin Rufei had never had a good appetite, so he casually ate a few items, then stopped. He watched with interest as Xuan Qing easily finished a large pot of rice and a few plates of vegetarian dishes. Only then, did he show a satisfied look.

Lin Rufei asked: “Little master, where are you staying for the night?”

Xuan Qing said, “I’ll stay at the temple.” He folded his hands and bowed to Lin Rufei, saying, “I have to thank the Heavenly Ruler, if not for his followers’ extensive temple construction, the monk would have had to use the sky as a blanket and the earth as a mat.”

Lin Rufei laughed, “You believe in the Heavenly Ruler so what are you doing bowing to me. By the way, you said before that the imperial family of Dajing invited you over?”

“Yes.” Xuan Qing said, “Does Lin gongzi also want to go to the imperial family?”

Lin Rufei nodded: “I have an invitation to send over and I happen to be going the same way as you, why don’t Master come and be my companion?”

Xuan Qing pondered for a moment, “Will it cause trouble for benefactor?”

Lin Rufei said, “What’s the trouble, it’s just along the way.”

Then Xuan Qing agreed.

But even so, when Lin Rufei invited him to stay with him at the same inn, Xuan Qing refused. He said that he could stay at the temple and that he could not bother Lin Rufei too much. Lin Rufei saw him being really stubborn, so he had to give up.

Before Xuan Qing left, the two agreed to leave together tomorrow morning towards Dajing’s Imperial City Dengxiao[2].

If they took a carriage, there were still about four or five days before arriving at Dengxiao, provided they didn’t encounter any accidents on the way.

Yu Rui was next to Lin Rufei using a silk fan to gently fan him. She smiled and said that this monk was an interesting person.

Lin Rufei glanced at her, and then looked at Fu Hua. He sighed and asked if the Hong Luan Star[3] had decided to land in their family.

Yu Rui glared: “Young master, how can you tease me like that, he is a monk!”

Lin Rufei said seriously: “Does he not look good?”

“Good looking, he is good looking ……” Yu Rui said, biting her lip, “But he’s still a monk.”

Lin Rufei said: “Isn’t there still the option of leaving a monastic order and returning to normal life?” As he said this, he started to laugh first, “Little brat[4], what are you so nervous about, I was just kidding.”

Yu Rui let out a “hmph” and said: “That can’t do. What if I take it seriously and the monk refuses to leave the monastic order, what would you do?”

Lin Rufei patted his chest and said, “It’s okay, I’ll tie the monk and bring him back for you.”

Yu Rui and Fu Hua laughed out loud together. They both knew Lin Rufei was joking and did not take it to heart. But Gu Xuandu, who was next to him, frowned. Lin Rufei entered the room and asked him why he had this expression.

Gu Xuandu said: “I’m afraid you won’t be able to beat him, ah.” 

Lin Rufei questioned, “He is that powerful?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Not only him, those from the Nanyin Temple are all monsters. If the current you really fought, you may really not be his opponent.”

Lin Rufei showed a thoughtful look.

After Xuan Qing came out of the restaurant, he slowly walked towards the temple where he was staying. The sky was dark and there were fewer pedestrians on the road. He passed by an alley, but heard a child’s ear-piercing cries and pleads for mercy, interspersed with stern scolding.

Xuan Qing’s footsteps paused for a moment then walked inside the alley.

The alley was dimly lit, with a mess of miscellaneous items, and in the corner, a few children huddled together, being beaten by a few adults holding sticks: “You bunch of trash, is this the harvest today? Put away your little thoughts, don’t you want to live anymore?!” As he said this, he got the stick and was ready to swing down on a child. However, he heard a gentle Amitabha Buddha from behind.

The man turned around and saw a handsome monk with an old robe. His eyes were half-lidded and he said in a gentle voice: “Why are the two benefactors bullying a group of children?”

“None of your business, get lost or I’ll beat you up too!” When the man saw that it was just a rather thin-looking monk, his expression became even more vicious. He spat towards the ground and waved the stick in his hand, “Get lost!”

The monk stood unmoving.

“Are you unable to understand the human language!” The man saw that the monk did not move and became more annoyed. He was the leader of the gangsters in this area and had a group of thieves under his control. Most of these thieves were young and unsupported children, such children were the easiest to control.

“Amitabha Buddha.” The monk folded his hands and let out a long sigh, “Making money is indeed not an easy task.”

After he finished, he said to himself, “It’s much easier to kill.” After saying that, he turned around and walked out of the alley.

The group thought that the monk was afraid and was about to laugh at him a few times, but the sound of a sharp weapon cutting through mid-air suddenly rang out next to their ears. Soon it was followed by a cold sensation against their necks and their visions turned upside down.

Dong, Dong, Dong[5]. Behind them came the sound of heavy objects falling to the ground and the panicked screams of the children.

The monk heard it but didn’t turn around. He recited Amitabha Buddha again and frowned sadly as he pinched the pouch he kept in his sleeve and carefully counted the only three coins left in it.

The next day, Lin Rufei met Xuan Qing at the entrance of the inn. He knew that the monk probably had no money to eat so he also specially packed a lot of pastries for him.

Xuan Qing happily took the pastry, opened it, and ate a piece seriously. Just as he showed his satisfaction, he heard someone call him from the side: “Monk!”

Xuan Qing turned around and saw the child who stole Lin Rufei’s pouch yesterday. The child looked at Xuan Qing with his shining eyes, “Monk, can I learn martial arts from you?”

Xuan Qing was stunned and pointed to himself, “Me?”

The boy nodded: “I saw it all last night! I also want to learn how to kill from you!”

Xuanqing said, “What do you want to do when you learn how to kill?”

The child said seriously: “Naturally it is to make money, to earn a lot of money.”

Hearing the word “money,” Xuan Qing’s face was bitter. He waved his hand and said, “No, no, go find someone else.” As he said this, he hurriedly got on the carriage.

He didn’t know if he was just seeing things or not, but Lin Rufei felt some taste of wretchedness from this Xuan Qing’s back.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: How nice would it be if you weren’t drunk.

Lin Rufei: If I weren’t drunk……

Gu Xuandu: ?

Lin Rufei: Then I’m afraid the previous chapter would be locked.

Gu Xuandu: ………..

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[1] I’m not really sure what this story is since I’ve never heard of it. But here is the original sentence, so if any of you know the story please comment uwu :类似什么逆水斩龙之类的 

[2] Dengxiao means Lantern Festival. I originally had it as Lantern Festival until I realized it was the city’s name. 

[3] Hong Luan Star – responsible for marriage and celebrations. In folklore, it is said that if you see this star, you will meet its true destiny. In today’s society, the idiom of Hong Luan Star moving is also used to represent the divination of marriage, which also means the upcoming marriage. 

[4] The phrase here is 小丫头 which can roughly be translated as “little girl” but it is often used for servant girls and can be used as an endearment. In this case, it feels more like an endearment but at the same time, “little girl” just sounds kind of weird so I replaced it with “brat.” 

[5] Onomatopoeia for something falling. 

Chapter 55: His Holiness

Xuan Qing, who only had three coins left in his pouch, naturally could not teach the child how to earn money. So under the child’s disappointed look, Fu Hua cracked the whip and drove the carriage all the way away. Lin Rufei sat in the carriage and talked with Xuan Qing.

Xuan Qing said he came from Nanyin Temple and had been traveling for three years. He had been to many places and also met a lot of strange and bizarre things. Lin Rufei listened with great interest and from time to time, he would ask a question or two, the atmosphere was very harmonious.

“What is the reason for Master’s visit to the imperial palace of Dajing?” Lin Rufei said curiously.

“I heard that a nobleman was infected with evil spirits so they asked this monk to go over to perform a ritual.” Xuan Qing said, “Who is Lin gongzi going to deliver the invitation to?”

Lin Rufei said, “Prince Bai Tianrui of Dajing.”

“Oh, so it’s him.” Xuan Qing revealed a look of understanding.

Bai Tianrui was the Prince of Dajing and his cultivation level had reached the eighth level. He was the only sword practitioner in Dajing’s imperial family whose cultivation level had passed the fifth level. But his reputation among the people was not too good. Although he had an outstanding talent, he was a real smiling tiger[1]. He had a perverse nature and was temperamental and unpredictable. Although it wasn’t to the point that he would prey on the people, nothing good happened to those who dare to provoke him. According to rumors, when they first met Bai Tianrui, he was smiling and after they made friends with Bai Tianrui he was also smiling. In the end, when they were finally killed with a sword, he was still smiling. And the most creepy thing was that his smile wasn’t a disguise. One could see his true feelings at any moment and any minute—he would really treat you as a friend and would also really want to kill you. 

These rumors were so widespread that it was hard to tell if they were true or not.

But Lin Rufei had long been used to seeing all kinds of swordsmen with peculiar natures and did not find anything particularly strange about this rumored image of Bai Tianrui.

“He has a perverse nature and likes beautiful women. Lin gongzi, remember to be careful when you go there.” Xuan Qing said.

Lin Rufei did not take Xuan Qing’s words too seriously and said, “What, Master knows that Bai Tianrui?”

Xuan Qing said, “Sort of …… know?”

Lin Rufei always felt that Xuan Qing’s expression was a bit strange, but he didn’t think much of it.

The weather was scarily hot. Even though Fu Hua had put a lot of ice in the carriage to cool it down, it was still stiflingly hot. Yu Rui was fanning Lin Rufei and noticed that the monk, Xuan Qing, did not shed a drop of sweat so she curiously asked: “Little master, how do you not sweat, ah?”

Xuan Qing smiled and said, “A calm heart keeps you cool.”

“A calm heart keeps you cool? It’s all a lie.” Yu Rui muttered.

“Monks do not lie.” Xuan Qing said seriously.

“Little master is not lying.” Lin Rufei laughed, “When people die, don’t they naturally feel cool?” 

Xuan Qing nodded: “Nevertheless, Lin gongzi understands things.”

Yu Rui’s eyes widened: “But little master is not a dead person, how can he feel so cool?”

Xuan Qing did not speak but blinked at Yu Rui. Yu Rui also defiantly glared back. They glared for a while that their eyes were starting to turn red. However, she found that the monk actually did not even blink so how could she win? So she twitched her mouth in an aggrieved manner and shrunk to the corner.

When Lin Rufei saw the situation, he laughed out loud and said, ‘Master, please don’t bully my family’s little girl.’ 

“Amitabha Buddha.” Xuan Qing folded his hands and said with a serious face, “Monks never bully little girls, except when telling ghost stories.”

Lin Rufei burst into laughter again.

Ten days of travel and Lin Rufei also learned a lot about this Xuan Qing. This monk was very interesting and he knew a lot of things. He even told a few things to Lin Rufei about the secrets of Dajing’s imperial family. Such as fathers and sons at each other’s throats, sibling rivalry, which was quite common in the imperial family. But there were also some interesting things, such as the eldest prince falling in love with a woman to the point that he didn’t even want the throne. Who knew that when the two were soon to be married, an immortal master suddenly appeared. He said that the woman was a demon sent to plague the prince. He then cast a spell on the spot and the woman turned back into her original form—which was a poor rabbit spirit. The eldest prince was furious. He directly used a sword and cut off the immortal master’s head. He then carefully picked up the rabbit and carried the rabbit home in front of everyone while rubbing its ears. 

Yu Rui listened dumbfoundedly and said, ‘That was possible? According to a normal plot, shouldn’t the prince be terrified and let the immortal master subdue the demon in the end?’ 

“Yes, everyone thinks so, and besides, Dajing and the demons had a great feud, the eldest prince should also be clear.” Xuan Qing said, “But this matter, ah, later on, there was a big reversal.”

“What reversal?” Yu Rui asked.

“That immortal master, who had his head chopped off, his body actually turned into a demon. And that woman recuperated in the eldest prince’s home for half a month before regaining her human form again.” Xuan Qing said, “Later, he sent someone to check and found out that the woman was not a rabbit spirit at all and was wronged by the immortal master.” 

Yu Rui made a sound of amazement, “Such a thing was possible?” 

“The matters regarding the imperial family, you can’t think of it but there’s nothing they can’t do.” Xuan Qing shook his head, his tone was very sorrowful, “Fortunately, the eldest prince was resolute and did not let the miscreants have a chance to take advantage…… just a pity ……”

“Pity?” Lin Rufei said with interest, “Just a pity what?”

Xuan Qing slapped his legs and laughed: “Unfortunately after the woman suffered from this disaster, she was afraid of the imperial family. And refused desperately to be with the eldest prince.” 

Lin Rufei and Yu Rui stared at the same time. They did not expect things to develop this way. According to the plot of the book, shouldn’t the eldest prince and his beloved finally live a happy and beautiful life?

“And finally, what happened at the end?” Yu Rui also pursued the question.

“In the end, the eldest prince, in anger, rose to the occasion and became an heir apparent.” As Xuan Qing said this, he was already laughing back and forth, “Who is the current day holy emperor—hahahahahaha, it is a pity that he was never able to find his little rabbit.”

Lin Rufei and Yu Rui were suddenly speechless. From Xuan Qing’s laughter, they could taste that he was rejoicing in other people’s misfortune. They didn’t know what sort of relationship Xuan Qing had with the eldest prince.

Xuan Qing finished laughing and waved his hand, “These are just rumors, Lin gongzi must not say this in the palace, lest ……” He coughed lowly, “Lest the current holy emperor becomes annoyed. “

Lin Rufei nodded and said he would pay attention.

Yu Rui was lost on the side. It was apparent that she couldn’t really accept this too realistic ending. Her expression was very complicated. Several times she looked at Xuan Qing and wanted to say something but then stopped.

As a result, that night, they ate a wild rabbit that Yu Rui had caught from the mountain forest.

The wild rabbit was not like a domestic rabbit. The meat was a little older[2], and if not handled well, it would be stinky. The good thing was that Fu Hua was a good cook. She first marinated the rabbit meat and then put it on the fire to slowly roast. Not long after that, the grease on the surface began to sizzle, giving off a rich meat smell.

It was a pity that the vegetarian Xuan Qing was not blessed with this and could only eat the sweet potatoes specially baked for him by Yu Rui.

The rabbit meat tasted really good, but unfortunately, the weather was too hot and Lin Rufei’s appetite was not good. He ate a rabbit leg and then felt tired of it. In the end, it was Fu Hua who crushed some ice to make him a bowl of cool mung bean soup and only then did he eat some more. Xuan Qing sighed and said, “Why is Lin gongzi’s appetite so bad? If you don’t eat, then the body will collapse.”

Lin Rufei waved his hand and indifferently expressed that he was used to it and told Xuan Qing not to worry.

In the evening, the group came down from the mountain and found an inn at the foot of the mountain to rest.

Lin Rufei, as usual, did not sleep well and wanted to chat with Gu Xuandu. However, he found that Gu Xuandu was not with him. It seemed that since the arrival of this monk Xuan Qing, Gu Xuandu words were much more less. Most of the time, he was standing beside Lin Rufei silently. He neither talked nor answered. For a while, Lin Rufei was a little bit unused to it.

He tossed and turned in bed for a while before he heard Gu Xuandu’s words ringing out beside him, “What, can’t sleep?”

“Mnn.” Lin Rufei said, “Where did senior go?”

Gu Xuandu said, “I went to ……”

Before he could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by Lin Rufei: “Don’t tell me that you went to catch ghosts.”

Gu Xuandu said, “You could even guess it?”

Lin Rufei sighed.

But even so, Gu Xuandu did not want to explain where he actually went. Lin Rufei didn’t feel appropriate to ask again. He started to chat with Gu Xuandu about Xuan Qing and Gu Xuandu said, ‘this Xuan Qing’s temper is actually good, but sometimes his thinking angle is a bit strange, no need to be surprised.’ Lin Rufei wondered: “Listening to senior’s tone, why does it feel like you’ve known this monk for a long time?”

Gu Xuandu said, “Does it?”

Lin Rufei said, “Naturally, it does.”

“Then your feeling is probably wrong.” Gu Xuandu was a little lost in thought and he didn’t know what he was thinking, “In a few days we will be going to the Imperial Palace of Dajing, you must be more careful.”

Lin Rufei said, “What does senior know?”

Gu Xuandu shook his head: “I don’t know anything, but since Xuan Qing was asked to help, then this matter must be a bit of trouble and not so easy to solve.”

Lin Rufei pondered.

Gu Xuandu chatted with Lin Rufei a bit more in a slow tone before he revealed a drowsy look. Lin Rufei urged him to rest. He yawned, swung his long sleeves, and his body dissipated in front of Lin Rufei. He seemed to be in very bad shape. Looking at him like this, Lin Rufei suddenly remembered what happened on the Xiliang Mountains, could it be that this trip to the imperial palace also had something Gu Xuandu needed?

The more Lin Rufei thought about it, the more it made sense. Lying on the bed, he pondered for a long time. Only when the morning light appeared did he take a short nap. 

The next day, the carriage was on the road again. Lin Rufei leaned against the window and dozed off.

The name of Dajing’s imperial city was called Dengxiao. The reason for this name was that there were star-like lights all over Dengxiao City, which made it bright all night. This practice had been in place since a long time ago, he just didn’t know why it started. But the name Dengxiao had indeed been passed down for a hundred years.

Lin Rufei liked the word “Dengxiao,” so he was also looking forward to the Imperial City.

The closer they got to the imperial city, the more prosperous the surroundings became. The people of Dajing were so open that when a handsome man walked along the roadside, there were bold girls who threw beautiful silk flowers at him.

Lin Rufei was not aware of this custom in Dajing and was taken aback. The weather was hot and the woman who threw flowers at Lin Rufei was wearing a short shirt and skirt. Her hair was tied up and her waistline was revealed. She saw Lin Rufei’s wide eyes, as if she had frightened him, and burst out laughing with joy. She started to chatter about in the local dialect, but unfortunately, Lin Rufei did not understand a word of it.

In the end, it was Fu Hua and Yu Rui who helped Lin Rufei stop the cherry blossoms[3] that suddenly appeared on the side of the road. The two maids saw their gongzi was being assaulted to the point that he was at a loss of words and a smile surfaced on the corner of their mouths.

Lin Rufei said in shock, “This is too direct.”

“That’s Dajing’s style.” Xuan Qing laughed, “Gongzi will have to get used to it soon.” Although Lin Rufei’s body looked a little weak and his face was pale, his appearance was excellent, and his every move had the unique noble aura of a large family’s son so he could naturally attract many girls who liked beauty. But Lin Rufei himself apparently did not realize. That look of surprise when the woman stuffed silk flowers into his arms was somewhat cute.

Lin Rufei did not say anything for a long time. The most spontaneous girl he had ever seen was his own third sister, Lin Weirui. But in the end, there was a big brother at home. No matter how spontaneous Lin Weirui was, she wouldn’t toss out flowers. This time, when they arrived at Dajing, he was able to see different customs and people.

The closer they got to Dajing, the more temples related to the Heavenly Ruler appeared. Some of these temples were magnificent and majestic and some were just small temples built with stones by the roadside. However, no matter what kind, what was enshrined inside, was a red-clad Heavenly Ruler. Although Lin Rufei had long heard of the reverence the people of Dajing had for the Heavenly Ruler, he still was shocked seeing these scenes in front of him.

Back then, after the Heavenly Ruler’s tribulation, most people said that he stepped through the void and left and ascended to immortality. However, there were also rumors made by mortals that the Heavenly Ruler did not leave, but failed the tribulation, and his cultivation was greatly reduced, and was forced to hide. In addition, there were other strange sayings that were not worth mentioning.

Xuan Qing also seemed to have different emotions for the Heavenly Ruler. When he saw a Heavenly Ruler’s temple, he would certainly go in to pay homage. If there was money left over, he would certainly buy a pillar of incense to light. Unfortunately, he was short of money at this time and only had three coins left. Lin Rufei wanted to lend him money, but he refused to take it.

“I’m just telling the Heavenly Ruler some of this monk’s thoughts.” Xuan Qing said as such, “If I receive money from others, the intentions would change. Besides …… it is Lin gongzi’s.”

Lin Rufei asked curiously, “What’s wrong with my money?”

Xuan Qing smiled and said, “This whole journey I am riding in Lin gongzi’s carriage, eating Lin gongzi’s food, and has given Lin gongzi a lot of trouble. How could I possibly ask for money?”

Those words were true. But Lin Rufei always felt that Xuan Qing’s words just now did not mean this. This monk was not pedantic and knew how to adapt so he shouldn’t be stuck on such trivial matters. But his resolute attitude made it hard for Lin Rufei to persuade.

After another day, they were going to enter Dengxiao. But Gu Xuandu suddenly appeared at night. His figure was much lighter and his voice also sounded very weak.

“There is an object in that palace that is restraining me, I’m afraid I can’t show myself.” Gu Xuandu said, “If Xiao Jiu needs anything, remember to go to Xuan Qing for help.”

Lin Rufei looked shocked, “Is the thing in the palace the same as the one on the Xiliang Mountains, something that senior needs?” 

Gu Xuandu hesitated slightly but under Lin Rufei’s burning gaze, he still nodded. He then said in a deep voice: “If that thing is there, the imperial city will be very dangerous. Xiao Jiu must not venture in like when we were on the Xiliang Mountains.”

Lin Rufei nodded and said yes.

Gu Xuandu instructed some more words before fading away. It seemed that the incident on the Xiliang Mountains scared Gu Xuandu very much, otherwise, he would not have repeatedly reiterated to Lin Rufei. He was afraid that Lin Rufei would really have some accidents. Lin Rufei was curious at this time, exactly what was in the Dajing Palace?  

Stepping on the early morning sun, the carriage was on the road again. Today they would be able to reach Dengxiao. And then after staying in Dengxiao for a night, the next day Lin Rufei would be able to send out the invitation in his hand. 

It was indeed the imperial city. Even before entering, Lin Rufei saw the tall and lofty city walls and the heavily armed soldiers stationed beside them.

Lin Rufei handed over the paperwork. The soldiers carefully checked it and waved their hands to let them go in. But when it came to Xuan Qing, the soldiers’ attitude was not quite the same. First, they repeatedly confirmed enthusiastically whether it was really Master Xuan Qing and after getting a positive answer, they immediately asked someone to report.

However, Xuan Qing waved his hand and stopped the soldier’s movement, saying that he would visit the palace tomorrow, so they should not bother the people above.

The soldier wanted to say more, but when he saw that Xuan Qing was very insistent, he had to give up. However, he still sent someone to invite Xuan Qing to stay at the best inn in Dengxiao City along with Lin Rufei, who was also received as a distinguished guest.

Sitting in the carriage, Lin Rufei smiled and said that he had a taste of Xuan Qing’s glory. But Xuan Qing shook his head. He sighed and said that he had nothing to offer and was afraid that he would cause trouble.

“How is it troublesome?” Lin Rufei wondered.

Xuan Qing said, “I have come to Dengxiao three times. The first two times were also to help the imperial family solve trouble, but I have never received such treatment ……” He sighed, “It is better to ignore me.”

The more enthusiastic the attitude, it just meant that things were more troublesome. And now even the soldiers guarding the door knew that he was coming over. Xuan Qing recited Amitabha Buddha.

When they arrived at the inn, the imperial family arranged several more upper rooms for them and also thoughtfully prepared a zhai meal[4].

Xuan Qing, however, refused outright on the grounds that he was not feeling well and went back into his room and closed the door. Lin Rufei thought that this matter had nothing to do with himself but who knew that when those people couldn’t find Xuan Qing, they thought he was Xuan Qing’s friend and talked to him for a while.

Lin Rufei then learned from their mouths that the matter in the palace was indeed a big deal. Three of the six imperial heir apparents, two were seriously injured and in a coma. The remaining three people were on edge and were almost scared to the point of hysteria. This matter had happened for almost a month but because they feared that the public would panic, the news did not dare to spread. However, recently there were still some rumors amongst the people, if this continued, this matter would not be completely suppressed! The story was that the people were still talking about it and for this reason, the imperial family invited Master Xuan Qing, a monk from Nanyin Temple, to calm the matters down as soon as possible.

After Lin Rufei identified himself as a member of the Lin family, they warmly invited Lin Rufei to follow Xuan Qing to the palace tomorrow, saying that Prince Bai Tianrui would also be present and Lin Rufei could just hand over the invitation to him. Lin Rufei thought for a moment and agreed.

Before those people left, they said that Dengxiao had a curfew and told Lin Rufei that he must remember to rest early and not wander outside.

Although Lin Rufei’s mouth said yes, in his heart he felt an overwhelming sense of regret. Dengxiao was famous for its nighttime light scenery, but he didn’t expect to encounter a curfew as soon as he arrived.

After arriving at Dengxiao, Gu Xuandu completely disappeared. He didn’t come out to chat with Lin Rufei even though he was having trouble sleeping.

Lin Rufei had something on his mind and didn’t sleep too well. In the midst of his tossing and turning, the first light of morning came. 

When he went out in the morning after washing up, he saw Xuan Qing already sitting at the table enjoying breakfast. He smiled and greeted Lin Rufei and asked him how he slept last night.

“Not too good.” Lin Rufei yawned.

“I didn’t sleep too well either.” Xuan Qing said.

“What, are you worried about what happened in the palace?” Lin Rufei asked.

Xuan Qing nodded seriously and said, “If this matter is not resolved, this monk is afraid that he will really die of hunger.” As he said this, he pulled out his wallet. The only three coins left in it have been used to buy incense a few days ago. At this time, it was deflated and nothing could be shaken out. 

Although he said it was very serious, Lin Rufei could not help but laugh and said, ‘Master Xuan Qing no need to worry. If you really starve to death, then come to find me. I can ensure that there is a zhai meal for Master to enjoy.’

Xuan Qing seriously said, “Then I will first accept Lin gongzi’s kindness.”

While they were talking, the carriage from the palace had already stopped at the entrance. A guard with a sword, wearing a vermillion guard’s uniform, walked up to the two of them. He balled his hand in respect, swept his sharp gaze from Lin Rufei’s to Xuan Qing’s faces, and said, “You are Lin gongzi and Master Xuan Qing, right?”

Xuan Qing and Lin Rufei nodded their heads.

“This way, please.” The guard raised his hand and pointed to the carriage at the entrance, “His Holiness[5] is already waiting in the palace.” His Holiness was the current emperor of Dajing and was also the eldest prince in Xuan Qing’s story. He was surnamed Bai, called Bai Jinglun, and was now the half-brother of Prince Bai Tianrui. He was three years older than Bai Tianrui.

Together, Lin Rufei, Fu Hua, Yu Rui, and Xuan Qing got on the carriage.

The curtain fell and the driver raised his whip. Da, Da. The sound of clattering hooves came from the stone road. The guard entered the carriage with Lin Rufei and the others and sat opposite Lin Rufei. He looked grave and his body was in a state of extreme vigilance as if he was guarding against something.

“How is the Third Princess doing?” Xuan Qing asked.

The guard, however, glanced at Lin Rufei as if hesitating to elaborate on the private affairs of the imperial family in front of him, an outsider. Seeing this, Xuan Qing said indifferently, “Lin gongzi’s family is not an outsider, there is no harm in talking about it.”

The guard hesitated for a moment and whispered, “The Third Princess is still in a coma. We have already followed Master Xuan Qing’s previous instructions to lay formations around, but …… it’s not of much use.”

“Has that thing come again?” Xuan Qing asked again.

“It came.” The guard gritted his teeth and when he said this, he said it so hard that the veins on his forehead bloomed out, “Last night …… It also went to his Holiness’s bedchamber.” After he finished this sentence, he heaved a few more breaths, “But the guards who were guarding the door saw nothing at all.”

Xuan Qing’s expression concentrated: “Bedchamber? That thing went in?”

“Yes.” The guard said, “It left dozens of bloody handprints on the side of his Holiness’s bed ……”

Xuan Qing fell into deep thought at his words.

Lin Rufei, however, became interested. Thing? What was that thing? Was it the thing that Gu Xuandu wanted? But listening to the description, it didn’t seem to be it. Rather, it was like they were talking about something that could move living things.

“The Prince did not go to the palace?” Xuan Qing asked again.

“Entered. At night, he was sleeping in the room next to his Holiness. But …… he also did not notice anything different.” The guard smiled bitterly, “That’s why his Holiness is in such a hurry.”

What would be something that even a sword cultivator at the eighth level couldn’t detect? At this point, Lin Rufei finally vaguely understood what the trouble Gu Xuandu was talking about meant.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: Weak, I need Xiao Jiu’s kiss to get better.

Lin Rufei eager to get into action[6]: It’s finally your turn to be poor, weak and helpless!

Gu Xuandu: ……….
Time to modify the BUG[7] for Bai Jinglun’s age.

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[1] Smiling tiger – man with a big smile and evil intentions. 

[2] There is probably a better word for this but my mind is blank. The word here is 老 which can mean old, but when it is referred to food, it means it is too chewy, hard to swallow and not as tender etc. 

[3] 桃花 (psst, technically these are peach blossoms but I have changed all of the ones in the story to fit the novel title ;^;) refers to people who have an interest in others, so when someone is blocking the cherry blossoms (//cough peach blossoms), they are stopping the person (who has an interested in you) trying to get closer to yoi. 

[4] I really couldn’t find an English word for this but the meaning of this is “food given to Buddhist monks as alms” 

[5] The word here is 圣人 which can mean “Saint” but it also means “the current reigning Emperor.” Using “Saint” doesn’t really make sense and “the current reigning Emperor” also is too wordy so I will use “His Holiness” 

[6] Technically it’s like rubbing his fist and scheming, this is how it’s supposed to look. 

[7] Written in English, meaning is as implied. 

Chapter 56: Third Princess

As soon as they entered the high vermillion doors of the palace, the atmosphere instantly became tense. The road was completely surrounded by guards with weapons and heavy armor and on the way, the carriage was stopped several times, but after seeing Xuan Qing on the carriage, it was then let go.

Lin Rufei sat in the carriage with his eyes closed as he listened to Xuan Qing and the guard, who received them, chit-chat. The guard seemed to be very worried about the current situation and from the beginning to the end, his frown never subsided. Xuan Qing’s expression did not change much and he still looked compassionate just like when Lin Rufei first met him.

Finally, they arrived at their destination. Several people came out from the carriage. Fu Hua and Yu Rui could only wait outside. Lin Rufei followed Xuan Qing and they entered the inner hall.

The inner hall was burning with elegant incense and a man in a yellow robe was sitting in front of a bookcase talking to another man in a vermilion uniform about something. Seeing that a few people came in, they stopped talking. This person should be the emperor of Dajing, Bai Jinglun. The man beside him was the person Lin Rufei wanted to send the invitations to, Bai Tianrui. Although Bai Jinglun didn’t look too old from his face, in fact, he was graying at his temples. The fine lines at the corners of the eyes also reveal his true age. But Bai Tianrui, by his side, was still in a graceful posture. As Xuan Qing said, a pair of peach blossom eyes were smiling at them. If it was only from the face, this Bai Tianrui really didn’t look like a powerful role and more like a reckless and unbridled swordsman.

The two brothers were both very good-looking. One majestic and stable and the other, suave and elegant, they really were the dragon and phoenix of the people.

“Master Xuan Qing is finally here.” Bai Tianrui laughed, “We suffered a lot waiting for you, ah.”

“Amitabha Buddha.” Xuan Qing folded his hands, ignored Bai Tianrui, and said directly to Bai Jinglun, “Your Holiness, where is the imperial prince and princess now? This monk is going to go check it out right now.”

Bai Jinglun said, “They are in the bedchambers on the side.” He then stood up, “I’ll go with you.”

“That’s fine.” Xuan Qing said but suddenly extended an invitation to Lin Rufei, who was standing beside him, “Would Lin gongzi like to go and have a look too?”

Lin Rufei hesitated for a moment and said, “This ……” was a private matter of the imperial family and it didn’t seem good for him to participate as an outsider.

As Lin Rufei was thinking so, Bai Tianrui, who was sitting on the side, suddenly got up and walked to his side. He made a gesture towards Lin Rufei as if they were acquaintances and gently placed his hand on his shoulders. He smiled and said: “Lin gongzi does not need to be formal, our Bai family’s relationship is very good. One family does not speak two languages, if you are interested, there is no harm in going to see.” 

Lin Rufei was confused by Bai Tianrui’s self-acquainted words, but then he saw that Bai Jinglun, who was the current emperor, also nodded his head.

Since the words have already been said, if he refused again it was as if Lin Rufei was not sensible. In the end, he could only agree. He followed Xuan Qing and the others and went in the direction of the bedchambers.

Bai Tianrui looked at Lin Rufei with interest and asked one or two questions from time to time, such as how old Lin Rufei was, how long it took to travel from Kunlun to here, and how he met Xuan Qing. The ones Lin Rufei could answer, he answered, and the ones he could not answer, Lin Rufei vaguely brushed passed them. This questioning and answering did not feel like chatting at all and seemed to feel more like a lecture.

In the end, it was Xuan Qing, who was next to him, that could no longer stand it. He knew that Lin Rufei was thin-skinned and that there was nothing he could do about Bai Tianrui, a battle-hardened prodigal son. He opened his mouth and told Bai Tianrui to be more careful and that Lin Rufei was the heart of the Lin family. If he manages to summon Lin Bianyu over, be careful of the entire Dengxiao City suffering.  

Bai Tianrui tsked and said, “Xuan Qing you are wrong, I was just chatting with Lin gongzi, why do you have to be so sensitive?”

Xuan Qing almost gave him an eye roll: “You just rely on the fact that Lin gongzi is thin-skinned to continue being shameless.”

Bai Tianrui let out a long sigh and looked lonesome, but in the blink of an eye, a smile was on his face again and he continued to chat with Lin Rufei about random things.

Lin Rufei was gentle in nature and did not feel impatient. He answered his questions here and there and it wasn’t until they reached the entrance of the bedchamber that Bai Tianui abruptly stopped his voice and looked serious.

This entire way, Bai Jinglun, from beginning to end, did not say a single word. He signaled to his subordinates to open the door and took the first step into the room.

The room was guarded by heavy troops inside and outside. Even the couch was guarded by two stern-looking guards. Only when they saw the group come in, did they slowly retreat.

This place was so heavily guarded that not even a mosquito could fly in. Furthermore, there was a cultivator of the eighth level like Bai Tianrui keeping watch, how could something still go wrong? This question suddenly pop into Lin Rufei’s mind.

Then he took a look inside the room. On a bed not far away, was a beautiful maiden in a long dress who was sleeping. Xuan Qing walked up with a serious expression and after a careful examination, he said, “How long has Her Highness been in a coma?”

“Thirty-four days.” Bai Tianrui replied.

“Tell me in detail.” Xuan Qing said again.

“On the fifth day of last month.” Bai Tianrui said, “Moumou originally wanted to take some maids out of the palace to play behind her father’s back, but before she could go out, she was found and seized back.” He looked at the young girl who had been unconscious for a long time on the bed and continued, “After that, she was nowhere to be found and by the time she was found again, she was already unconscious.”

“Where was the person found?” Xuan Qing asked.

“Under the plum tree in the imperial garden.” Bai Tianrui sat down at the edge of the bed and gently helped the princess to straighten her hair. His voice was slightly cold, “The maid was already dead by the time she was found, right by her side ……”

Xuan Qing knitted his brows: “Tell me in detail the stuff after that.”  

Bai Tianrui then talked about what happened after the third princess, whose pet name was Moumou, fell into a coma.

At that time, they thought that Moumou had been killed by a traitor and had been poisoned with an unknown poison, so the whole palace was searching for suspicious people. But who knew that while they were searching, other princes were also in trouble. The first incident was the second prince. He was resting in his own residence, but suddenly something slipped into his residence in the middle of the night and almost strangled him alive in bed. Fortunately, a servant passing by with a lamp heard the commotion in the room, rushed in, and saved the prince. But neither the prince nor the servant saw the perpetrator’s face.

The whole palace was in a state of panic and the emperor sent extra guards to watch all the princesses and princes.

But even so, something still happened.

The youngest sixth prince was washing at night when a man suddenly appeared behind him and pressed his head into the water basin. The water basin only had a shallow layer of water and logically speaking, it could not be dangerous, but no one expected such an incident. The sixth prince struggled with all his might and knocked over the bronze mirror placed next to him, which alerted the guards who came in to save him from being drowned alive.

But according to the guards, only the sixth prince was seen inside the house, there was nothing behind him, not to mention the miscreants.

If it was just once, it could be explained by coincidence, but accidents happen one after another, no one could fool themselves. It was definitely someone who had set their eyes on the imperial heirs.

However, no matter how they searched, they could not find a bit of evidence of that thing. Even Bai Tianrui, a powerful person with a level eight cultivation, also seemed to have become an ornament, and could not find a single clue.

In desperation, they had to ask Xuan Qing to come over. They wanted him to help.

After listening to Bai Tianrui’s description, Xuan Qing asked where the remaining princes and princesses were.

“Originally, I wanted to gather them together and protect them.” Bai Tianrui said, “But who knew that a few days ago, there was another accident.”

Xuan Qing said, “The bloody handprints?”

“That’s right.” Bai Tianrui said in a deep voice, “In his Holiness’s bedchamber, there was a row of bloody handprints. I was next door at that time, but I didn’t feel anything.”

Xuan Qing fell into deep thought, “And after that?”

“After that?” Bai Tianrui spread his hands, “After that, I found out that I can’t be of much help. I could only simply drive a few of those little guys hiding in the palace back home.”

Fortunately, his Holiness did not have any major incident, otherwise, it would really be a problem.

The imperial heir apparents were a total of six people; two princesses and four princes. And now three people have experienced accidents, how could the emperor not be anxious?

“This thing comes and goes without a trace, it’s really troublesome.” Bai Tianrui said, “I may have to trouble Master Xuan Qing some more.”

Xuan Qing slightly squinted his eyes and seemed to be thinking about something.

Lin Rufei looked at the unconscious princess on the bed and suddenly said, “I have a question, I don’t know if I should ask it or not.”

“Please speak, Lin gongzi.” Bai Jinglun said.

“What harmed her highness, why do you guys call it ‘thing’?” Lin Rufei felt that it was very strange. Under normal circumstances, shouldn’t it be called a miscreant? Now, as they talked, the way of referring changed. 

Bai Jinglun’s eyes darkened and he was silent for a moment before saying, “Because no human can do this.”

“That’s not necessarily true.” Xuan Qing waved his hand, “There is nothing strange in the world, and I can count two or three people who can do this.”

“For example?” Bai Jinglun asked.

Xuan Qing looked at Lin Rufei and said, “Kunlun Lin family’s Lin Bianyu, Yunan He family’s He Xieyi, there are also a few senior brothers in the Nanyin Temple …… however, they are not worth mentioning.”

“But they are not in Dajing.” Bai Tianrui coldly argued, “Moreover, I am still here, if they come, I am sure to know.”

Xuan Qing was not angry at the rebuttal and shook his head, “I was just giving an example of someone who could do this.”

Bai Tianrui crossed his arms against his chest and smiled. This smile looked very bright but Xuan Qing sighed, shook his head, and said ‘Tianrui, Tianrui, don’t rush to be angry with me. Let’s get this over with first, then it still wouldn’t be too late for you to get angry.’ He was very clear about this prince and at a glance, he knew that he was certainly not happy.

When Bai Tianrui heard this, he narrowed his eyes and didn’t speak. He simply spread his hands towards Xuan Qing as a gesture of invitation.

Bai Jinglun frowned and said, “Tianrui, do not be rude to the master.”

Xuan Qing said indifferently, “Not a problem, not a problem.” He turned his head and said to the third princess, “I’m sorry[1].” He then leaned down and took the princess’s wrist, taking her pulse.

Lin Rufei took advantage of this time to look around and took in all the furnishings of the room. Probably because they feared that people would hide in the room, all the furniture was moved out, leaving only a soft couch bed shrouded in muslin. The windows were closed and the light in the room was not too good, but there were many candles lit in the corners, so it was not very dark. There were more than a dozen guards inside and outside the room. Even for a swordsman with the cultivation level like his second brother, it would not be an easy task to kill the princess quietly and without alerting anyone.

So who could it be? And what does it have to do with the thing that Gu Xuandu needs? As Lin Rufei was thinking, he heard Xuan Qing let out, “Strange.”

“What?” Bai Tianrui asked.

“The princess’ soul is intact, the veins in her body are flowing fine, and there is no strange poison.” Xuan Qing blinked, “You could say that if she wasn’t still unconscious, she would simply be a normal person.”

“No poison?” Bai Tianrui raised his eyebrows, “Are you sure?”

Xuan Qing nodded affirmatively.

“Then why does she stay asleep?” Bai Jinglun seemed to love this daughter of his and his tone was a bit anxious.

Xuan Qing pondered, “This, I can’t say for now. Are the injured princes also here?”

“They are all next door.” Bai Tianrui said.

“Then let’s go take a look.” Xuan Qing turned around and walked out.

Lin Rufei followed and also took a look at the princess. The princess was lying on the soft couch as if she was simply sleeping. Her face was no different from normal people and she was even more rosy than his pale face. Xuan Qing was right, if they hadn’t said that the princess was in a coma, most likely no one would have thought that she had had any accidents.

In that case, exactly what happened to the third princess ……

Xuan Qing went next door and met the two injured princes. The place they were residing in was also heavily guarded, but since the two were still awake, it was a bit boring to be trapped inside. When they entered, the two were propping their chins up and playing chess.

Lin Rufei took a glance at the chessboard. The chess style was messy and anxious and it could be seen that both of them did not seem to be in a good mood.

When they saw their father coming, the imperial princes rose and saluted, and then turned their curious eyes on Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing.

Bai Jinglun was not in a good mood and did not bother to explain. He waved his hand and instructed Xuan Qing to check on the two princes. Xuan Qing then went forward to check the prince’s body.

The second prince’s neck wound had not yet dissipated, and they could clearly see two bruised handprints. From the size of the handprints, it was most likely not the hands of adults, but children. The sixth prince had no injuries but was so scared that when Xuan Qing took his pulse, he kept shrinking his neck, not daring to say anything.

Xuan Qing said, “If I remember correctly, the mother consort of the two princes is the same person, right?”

Xuan Qing had said this so suddenly and the atmosphere in the room became a little strange.

The second prince, who was older and had already reached his crown[2], calmly said, “What does Master mean by asking this?”

“I just wonder why that thing picked you two out of the four princes.” Xuan Qing said, “With so many princes, there should be some reason.”

The second prince said in a deep voice, “It’s probably because the two of us are unlucky.” In the end, he was the son of the emperor, the words he spoke were full of confidence.

“I wonder what the second prince was doing on the day the third princess had an accident?” Xuan Qing didn’t mind the second prince’s hostility at all and asked in a gentle voice.

“My brother and I were riding horses on the horse farm.” The second prince said indifferently, “Later when I heard that something had happened to third sister, I rushed back to the palace.”

“Oh, that means the two of you were together?” Xuan Qing said.

The second prince said, “So what if we were together?”

“Talk properly.” Bai Jinglun coldly spoke out, “Who gave you such a big temper?”

When the second prince was reprimanded, his face showed some reluctance. However, he still hung his head and said “okay” in a low voice. Bai Jinglun coldly snorted and flung his sleeves away, “You guys ask.” His attitude towards the two princes and his treatment of the princess was as different as Heaven and Earth.

The sixth prince saw that his father was angry and sobbed again in a small voice. The atmosphere in the room froze to a standstill.

Bai Tianrui was indifferent. He smiled and sat on the side, picking up a piece of dried fruit and eating it with a hitch. He asked Lin Rufei if he wanted one, after Lin Rufei refused, he waved his hand, indicating for Xuan Qing to continue asking and that he didn’t need to give face to these two princes.

Xuan Qing sighed and asked the princes some more questions. The second prince answered very carefully this time and didn’t dare to pull a long face at Xuan Qing again. But from the beginning to the end, only he was talking. The sixth prince stayed next to him crying quietly and from time to time, he would raise his hand to rub his eyes.

Xuan Qing was almost finished asking so he got up to say goodbye. But when he was about to leave, he suddenly said to the sixth prince: “That day in the horse farm, what was the name of the horse your highness was riding?” 

The sixth prince looked at Xuan Qing dumbly and said, “What?”

Xuan Qing said, “It’s the name of the horse you rode in the stable that day when the princess had an accident.”

“Called …… called ……” The sixth prince stammered and didn’t answer for a long time. In the end, it was the second prince who reached out and pressed his shoulder. He said in a deep voice, “Called Lei Yun.”

“Oh.” Xuan Qing smiled, “I guess that must be a good horse.”

(t/n: Lei Yun means Thundercloud)

“Naturally.” The second prince’s tone was hard.

The people in the room were all human prodigies so how could they not tell that something was strange? It was just that no one said anything. They all pretended that nothing happened and walked out of the room. It wasn’t until they were out of the room that Bai Tianrui spoke up and ordered the palace staff to check whether the princes were or were not in the stable on the day of the princess’s accident.

If they were there, then that was fine. However, if they weren’t, then this matter was a bit strange. 

When Xuan Qing came out and said he wanted to go around the palace, Bai Jinglun sent Bai Tianrui to accompany him, saying that Xuan Qing could go to any place in the palace, no need to be restrained.

Xuan Qing said that he first wanted to go to the place where the princess had an accident.

The palace was very big and because of the accident, there were guards walking around everywhere. It could be said that it was heavily guarded. Lin Rufei took out the invitation and handed it to Bai Tianrui while the three of them were spending time together. Bai Tianrui took it with a smile, looked through it twice, and then put it in his bosom.

“Tianrui, tell me honestly, did you sense those things or not.” When they reached a certain corner, Xuan Qing suddenly spoke. Listening to his tone, it seemed he and Bai Tianrui were old acquaintances and their relationship seems quite good.

Bai Tianrui raised his eyebrows: “Xuan Qing, what do you mean by that?”

Xuan Qing said indifferently: “I just want to know if this is muddy water[3].”

Bai Tianrui snorted: “So what if it’s muddy water, can you still refuse?”

Xuan Qing sighed.

“If you would have known, you wouldn’t have bothered in the first place.” Bai Tianrui shook his head and sighed in pity, “Although that guy Bai Jinglun is not good at swordplay, his brain is first class. His favor is not easily returned.” As he said this, he also patted Xuan Qing’s shoulder and rejoiced in his misfortune, “You regret now, right?”

Xuan Qing did not say anything and sighed again.

“But I’m not really involved in this.” Bai Tianrui said, “Besides, you know, I’ve never been very interested in these things.”

“Then what are you interested in?” Xuan Qing said.

Bai Tianrui smiled and looked at Lin Rufei, who was standing next to him, and Lin Rufei’s back went cold. Xuan Qing almost wanted to give Bai Tianrui an eye roll and said, ‘If you’re not afraid of death then go for it. If you really kicked the iron plate[4], be careful not to break your legs.’ However, Bai Tianrui didn’t have the heart to listen. He had also been to Kunlun before but had never seen Lin Rufei. However, he had to say that the pale face and slender body of the Lin family’s youngest son was more interesting than his second brother. Although his complexion didn’t look good and he heard that it was long-term sickness, his sick appearance gave off a feeling that he was even more beautiful than Xi Zi[5]. 

Lin Rufei, at this time, finally understood the meaning when Xuan Qing told him to be careful of Bai Tianrui. This Prince really gave off a feeling that he would eat anything. 

Xuan Qing went around the imperial garden and didn’t find anything special, which he felt that it was really strange. He told Bai Tianrui to carefully check his two nephews, since those two probably lied. And he also asked how the relationship was between the princes and the princess. 

Bai Tianrui was not interested in these things and lazily told Xuan Qing about the secret of the palace. The second prince and the sixth prince were born as the sons of the Empress. The current first prince and the third princess were from a concubine and although her mother’s family had little power, they were very loved by his Holiness. Because of these reasons, their relationship was not very good.

“But these things are normal.” Bai Tianrui was not at all concerned about this kind of small fight, “This generation is no good, they are too stupid. When I was their age, I used much more vicious methods.”

Xuan Qing shook his head: “The Prince must not speak presumptuously!”

Bai Tianrui said, “It doesn’t matter, if I only had five levels of cultivation, he would probably still guard against me. Now that I have eight levels, he wishes for me to stay in the palace with him every day.” The “he” in this sentence referred to the current Holiness, Bai Jinglun.

Lin Rufei also understood Bai Tianrui’s meaning. A sword cultivator at the fifth level may still be fascinated by mortal objects and want to fight for power. But Bai Tianrui was already on the eighth level. He obviously had completely exceeded the realm of mortals. These merits and fame, for him, were just a passing cloud. So not only did Bai Jinglun not feel that he was a threat, but he took him as a pillar of support for Dajing.

“The thing you said, I don’t even need to check to know. But in front of my brother, I do not dare say.” Bai Tianrui said, “Those two were definitely not at the horse farm.”

“Oh? You know?” Xuan Qing said, “Then where were they?”

“Of course they were bullying the third princess.” Bai Tianrui lightly said, “That day the third princess wanted to go out of the palace to Dengxiao City to see the lights but was stopped halfway. Who do you think would be so boring so do that? Of course, it was her two idle brothers. Girls are not like boys. If boys were a little bit wild, His Holiness would not mind. But girls couldn’t be, because sooner or later, they were to be married and could not lose the imperial family’s face.” 

Xuan Qing said, “So the princess went to the imperial garden?”

“Yes.” Bai Tianrui said, “She likes it there.”

Xuan Qing fell into deep thought.

Lin Rufei said, “Could it be that she collided with something in the imperial garden”

Xuan Qing shook his head, “I do think that they might have run into something when they were about to leave the city.” Thus the third princess went straight into a coma, the second prince and the sixth prince nearly had their lives taken, and there was no telling if an accident would happen next.

Lin Rufei said: “You said, a few days ago, his Holiness’s bedchamber also had bloody handprints appear?  Why didn’t that thing strike at His Holiness?”

Bai Tianrui thought for a moment: “I’ve thought about this, but I can only guess that His Holiness was probably carrying something that the thing couldn’t get close to.”

Xuan Qing said, “That is a possibility. I wonder if I can check what his Holiness is carrying on him?” 

Bai Tianrui laughed, “He probably won’t let you.”

“Why?” Xuan Qing asked.

“Remember the rabbit spirit that he liked back then?” Bai Tianrui said, “Even now he is longing for it. His pouch that he carries everywhere has a lock of white hair cut off from that rabbit spirit. Say, if this thing was seen by people, wouldn’t he be ashamed to death?” As he said this, he very nonchalantly laughed out loud

Xuan Qing coughed dryly. His expression showed embarrassment and said, “You’re right.”

Lin Rufei found that this Prince was really nasty and excessive and only when he was under Bai Jinglun’s eyes, would he be a little more peaceful.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: The Princess is unconscious.

Gu Xuandu: Mn?

Lin Rufei: A kiss is needed to wake up.  

Gu Xuandu: Who are you going to kiss? ? ? 

Lin Rufei: My family’s unconscious Princess Gu, ah. 

Gu Xuandu: ………………..Come, I am ready.

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

[1] Technically what was here was him apologizing for offending, because in Chinese culture, guys and girls can’t casually touch each other. 

[2] No clue if I ever explained “crown” but it’s like a coming of age thing, when they reach 20 years old. This is also the time when they can get a courtesy name. I think in previous occasions, I might have just referred to the characters as “coming of age”  

[3] Something troublesome.  

[4] Kick the iron plate: can be interpreted as thinking that other people are soft and easy to bully, but it turns out that other people are better than they are, and suffer a loss. 

[5] For those who may not remember: Copy and paste from Chapter 28. Nickname for Xi Shi(c. 450 BC), “a famous Chinese beauty, foremost of the Four legendary beauties 四大美女 of Yue as concubine to King of Wu as part of a successful plan to destroy Wu” 

Chapter 57: Night Daze

In this way, Bai Tianrui took Xuan Qing and Lin Rufei around the palace for a day. They also incidentally had dinner together with Bai Jinglun before heading back to the inn.

On their way back, Xuan Qing sat in the carriage with his eyes closed. It seemed that he was thinking about something so Lin Rufei did not dare to disturb him. Instead, he lifted the carriage curtain and gazed at the night scenery outside.

Because of the curfew, the originally lively night scene of Dengxiao City disappeared. The streets were lined with closed shops and there were no visitors to be seen. He could only see, from time to time, heavily armored and serious-looking guards patrolling back and forth with a neat and uniform pace. When going back, the carriage was also stopped several times by the guards. Only after seeing that the driver had a palace token, did they let them go. 

When they arrived at the inn, Xuan Qing and Lin Rufei each said goodbye and went back to their rooms to rest.

In such hot weather, Lin Rufei was indeed also a little tired from walking outside all day so Fu Hua and Yu Rui brought him boiled medicine and chilled Tremella soup, urging Lin Rufei to drink.

When Lin Rufei saw the medicine, he frowned. He said that he had recovered from his cold, so why did he still need to drink the medicine?

Fu Hua explained that this was a medicine to help calm the mind. Drinking it at night would ensure a good night’s sleep and she also said that the effect of this medicine was really good since so far it seemed to have been quite effective.

Lin Rufei asked curiously, “Effective, how do you know if it’s effective?”

Fu Hua and Yu Rui were silent but their expressions looked to be a bit strange.

Lin Rufei simply sent the two out and just as he was about to find a random place to pour out the medicine, he remembered something and stared intently at the brownish-black medicinal juice in his hand. Suddenly, realization sunk in and he understood what the effect meant, as mentioned by Fu Hua and Yu Rui.

Recently Gu Xuandu had been getting weaker and weaker and had rarely appeared in front of him. Because of this, in Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s eyes, his self-talking hysteria had improved greatly. The maids rightfully attributed this change to the calming medicine working, which was why they urged Lin Rufei to continue taking the medicine prescribed by Wan Yao.

Lin Rufei was helpless, after all, medicine also had its side effects. If he drank too much he didn’t know whether it would have other effects. In the end, although he appreciated Fu Hua and Yu Rui’s good intentions, he still quietly poured out the medicine and then lay back on the bed.

Today, when they walked around in the palace, Lin Rufei also noticed some means. Although Bai Tianrui said he would help, the truth was that he never put this matter into his heart until a few days ago when someone directly moved under his nose—directly provoking him.

At present, Bai Jinglun had not yet established the heir apparent, plus the first prince was not the son of the first wife so the various forces within the palace were treacherous. In the words of Bai Tianrui, any methods they used were not a surprise to him. Bai Tianrui was not interested in the friction between these forces and as long as they do not scheme against him, he would not intervene. After all, if a sword cultivator at the eighth level wanted to destroy a city it was a piece of cake. Although he lived in the mortal world, living things in his eyes were as small as ants.

Would you care exactly which ant won in the end? For Bai Tianrui, it was the same meaning.

Of course, Bai Tianrui hid this attitude of his very well. If not for Lin Rufei’s deep understanding of the swordsman’s nature, most likely he would not have noticed either.

Bai Jinglun was also probably aware of his brother’s nature so he had zero suspicion and understood well that Bai Tianrui did not intervene in this bizarre thing. After all, if he really wanted to do so, why would he choose such a tactful method? Directly forcing the Palace was more convenient than this.

But Bai Tianrui was really interested in Lin Rufei that even Xuan Qing felt it. On the way back, he also advised Lin Rufei to pay a little more attention and that this Prince’s nature had no inhibitions. His hostility would change faster than flipping a book. If he really started to fancy, then it was definitely not a good thing. 

Lin Rufei was naturally also clear about this matter. Although Bai Tianrui was not his second brother, Lin Bianyu’s, opponent, Lin Bianyu was inevitably far away on Kunlun. If he waited until the real accident happened to rush over, it would probably be too late. But unlike Xuan Qing’s feelings, he felt that Bai Tianrui’s interest in him was not that of a man and woman, but more like a vague test to see if Lin Rufei was as harmless as he appeared to be.

A million thoughts passed through his head and sleepiness gradually enveloped his mind. Just as Lin Rufei closed his eyes due to the drowsiness, he suddenly heard a subtle creaking sound. The sound was very light and small, as if the breeze had accidentally blown against the window. However, in the silence of the room, it was particularly abrupt. The candles lit on the table had been extinguished and the room was dim, so he could not see clearly, but Lin Rufei’s eyes opened abruptly and he sat up from the bed alertly, “Who’s there?”

No one answered.

“Who’s there?” Lin Rufei asked again

However, there was still no answer, as if the sound Lin Rufei heard just now was just his imagination. Yet although he could not see, he clearly felt that there was something in his room, maybe by the window, maybe in the corner, maybe……it was hiding under his bed.

Lin Rufei was startled by his own thoughts. He calmed himself down and reached out to hold Gu Yu hanging on the side of the bed. He pulled out the sword blade and then sloppily got up, wanting to light the candle placed on the table.

The room was quiet and Lin Rufei carefully observed the surroundings. He stumbled to the table and finally touched the fire torch. He was about to pick it up and light it when there was a sudden burst of force from behind him.

Lin Rufei was unaware for a moment and was directly pressed down onto the table. The person who attacked him was so strong that he only used one hand to directly cover his cries for help, while the other hand choked his neck and pinned him to the table.

Lin Rufei’s first reaction was that this person wanted to kill him. So the next moment, he swung out Gu Yu that was wrapped entirely in sword intent. He felt as if he had cut something since the hilt of the sword slightly stopped in place, however, the cold sword intent seemed be sinking into the sea, like a stone, as the sound directly cut off……If he knew this would happen, he would have used the shield. That was the thought that suddenly emerged in Lin Rufei’s head. 

The person who restrained Lin Rufei let out a soft laugh. He slowly leaned down towards Lin Rufei’s ear and opened his mouth.

But as soon as his voice came out, Lin Rufei revealed an incredulous look.

The man spat out two words: “Heavenly……Ruler……” He spoke softly and slowly, like a breeze, but those words pierced through Lin Rufei’s eardrums that it started to hurt. What stunned him the most were not the words “Heavenly Ruler,” but this person’s voice. It sounded exactly the same as Gu Xuandu’s, who had disappeared after entering Dajing.

The person who wanted to kill him was Gu Xuandu? No, that was impossible. If Gu Xuandu wanted to do it, he could have done it long ago, why would he wait until now? But if it wasn’t Gu Xuandu, what does this person have to do with him? Lin Rufei’s mind was extremely confused and countless thoughts flashed through his mind one after another. He wanted to ask questions but his mouth was covered by the man so he could only make a feeble whimpering sound.

The man felt Lin Rufei struggling with all his might and let out another soft laugh, as if Lin Rufei’s feeble appearance pleased him. He lowered his head and with a burning gaze, he surveyed Lin Rufei struggling under him. He lowered his head and dropped a soft kiss on the back of his hand.

The only thing that separated Lin Rufei’s lips from his was a hand. Logically speaking, at such a close distance, Lin Rufei should be able to see clearly what the person opposite him looked like. But no matter how hard he tried, there was only darkness in front of him. It was as if this person was just a piece of nothingness and it was impossible to recognize the appearance of the person in front of him with the naked eye.

At the same time, the hand around his neck was slowly locking up, gradually isolating Lin Rufei’s ability to breathe. Lin Rufei’s eyes widened and his hands tried desperately to push back against his assailant but his hands that were waving in mid-air touched nothing. He was obviously behind him holding him down, but he couldn’t touch him. Lin Rufei was incredulous and thought to himself, Where is this man’s body? Could it be that he has no body? But since there is no body……how could he hold me down?

Because of the strong feeling of suffocation, Lin Rufei’s eyes started overflowing with tears. Another gentle “Heavenly Ruler” resounded but to him, the man’s voice was like a thunderstorm exploding in his ears. As the suffocation time grew longer, Lin Rufei’s vitality began to fade. His consciousness gradually drifted and some messy patterns began to appear in his darkening vision.

Was he going to die?……But if he died like this, wouldn’t it be a bit ridiculous? As Lin Rufei thought so, he reluctantly closed his eyes. However, just at the moment he closed his eyes, a deafening roll of thunder suddenly fell outside the window. Bright yellow blinding lightning followed and instantly struck a building not far from the inn. The building was directly struck by a blazing fire and the bright-colored firelight shot up into the sky projecting through the window into Lin Rufei’s room. The person holding him down suddenly let go of his hand and fresh air once again rushed into Lin Rufei’s lungs. He covered his neck in pain and started coughing violently.

After he finally recovered, Lin Rufei hurriedly looked around but the murderer, who had just attacked him, was nowhere to be seen.

Where was he? How could there be no one? Lin Rufei staggered a few steps and went to the window, which was half-covered, and he couldn’t see anyone’s figure when he looked out. If it wasn’t for the severe pain in his throat, most likely Lin Rufei would have suspected that what had just happened was just a nightmare he had.

Lin Rufei casually wiped away the cold sweat spilling from his forehead and looked out the window towards the blinding fire. The fire came suddenly and went rapidly since it was very quickly extinguished by the guards, causing no other damage.

Lin Rufei did not dare to sleep again. He re-lit the candles in the room and just sat in the room all night. Even after such an incident, Gu Xuandu still did not appear causing Lin Rufei to be a little worried about his condition. Gu Xuandu was right, this matter in Dajing was more dangerous than the Xiliang Mountains.

The next day, it was a clear day. The building that had burned last night was still emitting a scorched black scent. Lin Rufei originally thought that the building was a house. However, when he came out after dawn to take a look, he found out that it was actually a temple in the city set up for the Heavenly Ruler. He had even been to this temple when he had just arrived at Dengxiao, Xuan Qing even praised it and said that the red-clothed statue was very similar to the Heavenly Ruler. When Lin Rufei heard this he curiously asked: “Listening to Master Xuan Qing’s tone, does that mean you have seen the Heavenly Ruler before?”

Xuan Qing smiled and did not say anything. He just folded his hands and said Amitabha Buddha.

The legend of the Heavenly Ruler had been around for hundreds of years, had this monk Xuan Qing been alive for hundreds of years? Lin Rufei felt very strange but when he noticed that Xuan Qing wasn’t going to say more, he also didn’t ask any further.

After all, who doesn’t have a few secrets when traveling through Jianghu?

Now that he realized that it was the temple that was suddenly burned, Lin Rufei felt some regret in his heart. 

“Lin gongzi, did something happen last night?” Just when Lin Rufei was sighing, monk Xuan Qing came down from upstairs and noticed Lin Rufei sitting in the lobby drinking tea. He asked this with a frown and his expression was somewhat grave as his eyes fell upon Lin Rufei’s neck.

Only to see that at this time, the white slender neck had a pair of black handprints that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The more he looked at the handprint, the more familiar they felt. But looking at Lin Rufei’s calm look made Xuan Qing think that he was thinking too much about it. 

“Oh, that thing came looking for me.” Lin Rufei’s throat was a little sore and along with it, his voice was a little hoarse. He took a sip of tea and continued, “It wanted to strangle me.”

Xuan Qing stared.

“But it didn’t work.” Lin Rufei joked, “If it had succeeded, it seems I wouldn’t be here right now……”

Xuan Qing hadn’t mumble a single word as he talked on. His face was sullen as he sat next to Lin Rufei, deliberating his words, “Lin gongzi, the invitation from Kunlun has been delivered, it doesn’t seem safe for you to stay in Dajing any longer, why don’t you leave earlier?”

Lin Rufei asked, “You want me to leave now?”

Xuan Qing smiled bitterly: “After all, if Lin gongzi is not joking, that thing should have come to the inn last night. However, I was next door to Lin gongzi and did not feel the breath of that thing, so……I’m afraid I can’t protect Lin gongzi.”

Lin Rufei playfully fondled the teacup in front of him and said, “How come Master Xuan Qing is suddenly so unconfident?”

Xuan Qing replied, “If I still advise Lin gongzi to stay, then that is not confidence but conceit.” He let out a sigh, “After all, human life is the most fragile thing in the world.”

Lin Rufei inquired, “Then Master Xuan Qing himself is not afraid?”

Xuan Qing said: “Monk’s life is not worth anything.”

Lin Rufei’s gaze burned: “I’m afraid that the lives of ordinary monks are not worth much, but how can the masters in the Nanyin Temple compare with ordinary monks?”

Xuan Qing’s expression turned helpless. He didn’t expect this seemingly harmless Lin gongzi to be so eloquent when he got serious, making it quite hard for people to fight back.

Lin Rufei continued on, “Besides, is Master Xuan Qing not afraid of missing any key clues if he just lets me go without asking about last night’s events?”

Xuan Qing muttered an Amitabha Buddha and troubled Lin Rufei to tell him the details of last night’s events.

Lin Rufei then told the story of his attack and the sudden fire that broke out in the Heavenly Ruler temple outside his window when he was being suppressed and nearly killed.

He carefully told Xuan Qing about the incident. But he deliberately omitted the “Heavenly Ruler” that the thing mentioned. For some reason, he always felt that this phrase was better to not let others know. There seemed to be something terrible hidden inside but Lin Rufei still had no clue about it.

Xuan Qing asked, “That thing disappeared after the Heavenly Ruler temple caught fire?”

“Yes.” Lin Rufei nodded.

“Strange.” Xuan Qing pondered over it, “What exactly is this thing afraid of?……”

If it was afraid of the Heavenly Ruler, then tere were so many temples and statues of the Heavenly Ruler in Dengxiao City, why wasn’t that thing afraid at first? But if it wasn’t afraid of the Heavenly Ruler, why would it suddenly leave when the Heavenly Ruler temple was on fire and spared Lin Rufei’s life?

Xuan Qing narrowed his eyes and seemed to be thinking about something.

Lin Rufei, on the other hand, was sitting on the side and slowly sipping his tea.

The two were silent as the time passed one, but soon, outside the inn came another carriage from the palace, saying that His Holiness had requested their presence. Originally, Xuan Qing had wanted to go alone this time but the servant in the carriage said that His Holiness had also invited Lin gongzi.

So under Xuan Qing’s sighing gaze, Lin Rufei also got on the carriage.

The carriage drove towards the palace and soon reached its destination.

Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing were met by the palace staff and soon led towards a building resembling a study. However, before they could even enter, they heard the angry scolding voice of Bai Jinglun coming from inside and it seemed that he was reprimanding someone. The palace staff, seeing this scene, showed a nervous look. He raised his hand and carefully knocked on the door, after a few moments, he heard an indifferent “come in” from inside.

Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing entered the room in a line and they saw the livid Bai Jinglun with the two princes kneeling in front of him. Prince Bai Tianrui was also present, but apparently he was not interested in the scene of the old man reprimanding his sons, so he sat on a wooden chair on the side, leisurely drinking tea. When he caught Lin Rufei and others coming in, he gave them a warm smile.

“What’s going on here?” Xuan Qing had clearly guessed what had happened, but still blinked in feigned innocence, “Why is His Holiness so angry.”

“It’s all because of my good sons.” Bai Jinglun gritted his teeth, “Speak for yourself! The day the Third Princess fell into a coma, what kind of stupid things did you do!”

The sixth prince was still young and after being scolded so severely by his father, he had been crying for quite some time. The second prince still clenched his teeth and held on, but his eyes were already red, and with a trembling voice, he retold what had happened that fateful day.

It turned out that the third princess had intended to go out with the maids to see the city lights, but met the second prince and the sixth prince halfway. The princes already found this sister of theirs, born from a concubine, very disagreeable, so the second prince relied on his brother’s identity and scolded the third princess. He also didn’t forget to punish the third princess’s maids. The third princess cried and headed back in the opposite direction, but who knew that after returning, an accident would befallen upon her. Not only did her personal maid die, but she had also fallen into a coma. The princes felt that if His Holiness knew about this, he would be angry, so they desperately tried to hide it. But who knew that another accident would happen later on? The two of them nearly had their life taken by that thing and then regretted that they should not have hidden the truth……

Although the words were said as such, Lin Rufei felt that yesterday when the second prince was lying, he didn’t have a hint of hesitation.

Bai Jinglun sneered a few times after hearing this. He raised his foot and kicked the second prince on the shoulder that he started staggering hard. He pointed at the second prince’s nose and cursed: “Dispute? You clearly slapped your sister twice and you call this a dispute? Who gave you the right to hit her? Your mother?!”

When the second prince heard the word “mother,” his face turned white. He knelt on the ground shivering and not daring to refute anything at all. The sixth prince cried breathlessly, “Father, don’t blame brother, it’s all because of that bastard[1]…… that bastard scolded brother first!”

When the words “bastard” just left his mouth, the sixth prince received a slap on the face. Only it was not His Holiness who struck him, but the brother he had wanted to protect. The second prince’s face turned livid, “Guanlan, shut up!”

The sixth prince wailed and cried out.

Bai Jinglun narrowed his eyes and surveyed the two kneeling sons, “Bastard? Good, calling your own sister a bastard.”

The second prince finally couldn’t help it and burst out into tears as well, and for a while, the scene in the room was chaotic to the extreme.

In the end, it was Bai Tianrui who opened his mouth and advised in an indifferent manner, “Brother, children follow the example of others. If they can learn the word ‘bastard,’ it must be that the servants beside them are not qualified. What are you bickering with two children for?”

Bai Jinglun uttered coldly, “Someone, take their personal servants down and give them two hundred sticks[2].”

The sixth prince’s eyes widened at his words but his own brother harshly covered his mouth.

If the emperor ordered two hundred sticks, then this person was as good as dead. Even if their physical fitness helped them survive, their lower half of the body would definitely be disabled. The emperor’s move was clearly killing the chicken to warn the monkeys[3]. The one he was killing was the servants and the one he was warning was the “mother” that came out of the prince’s mouth.

After all this, Bai Jinglun asked for people to take his sons away. In the end, the sixth prince was still a half-grown child and he didn’t have much thought in his head. When it was the time to leave, he broke free from his brother’s hold and shouted at Bai Jinglun: “Father is biased! That demon girl is not worthy of being my sister at all!”

Bai Jinglun’s face sank and just as he was about to get angry again, the sixth prince added: “Father does not know, she is proficient in the art of Loathing Victory and has hidden many dolls in the Imperial Garden. If you search carefully, you will definitely find them! Although she is unconscious, her life is not in danger. As a result, the only people who were nearly strangled to death were me and my second brother, this must be her ploy!”

“Take them away!” Bai Jinglun waved his hand.

The maids then harshly pulled the princes out of the room.

As soon as the princes left, the room was quiet and the atmosphere seemed to be quite a bit awkward. Bai Tianrui then invited Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing to sit down with a smile, but the smile froze for a moment when he noticed the abrupt bruise on Lin Rufei’s neck. Bai Jinglun also noticed this abnormality and his brows furrowed, asking Lin Rufei what had happened last night.

Lin Rufei then told them what happened last night and just when he started talking about the lightning that struck the Heavenly Ruler’s temple and saved his life, Bai Tianrui glanced at Xuan Qing and showed a thoughtful look, “Lin gongzi really is blessed with great fortune and great life.”

“Mnn. My luck is pretty good.” Lin Rufei nodded his head.

Bai Tianrui came up to Lin Rufei’s side and carefully observed the marks on his neck. He suddenly let out a hiss, “Strange. This handprint, it seems to be a little different from the one on the neck of the prince.”

“Where?” Xuan Qing asked.

“Isn’t this a circle bigger?” Bai Tianrui said while making a gesture, using two hands to vainly circle Lin Rufei’s neck, “On those two boys’ necks, it was only half a circle. Only this one on Lin gongzi’s neck is a whole circle, could it be……”

“Could it be what?” Lin Rufei asked.

“Could it be that that thing likes you more?” Bai Tianrui faintly smiled. As he said this, he folded his hands together and his hot palms covered Lin Rufei’s neck.

Lin Rufei frowned and before he could say anything, Bai Jinglun already sternly scolded, “Tianrui, don’t be rude to Lin gongzi!”

“Just kidding, just kidding.” Only then did Bai Tianrui finally release his hand. However, his face was still smiling, looking very pleasing to the eye and when Lin Rufei looked at his appearance, he really felt his hands itch a little.

“I was just thinking that the princes’ words might really have some truth to them.” Bai Tianrui said, “Why is it that the second and sixth princes were the ones who were in trouble? Could there be some hidden pattern? But now that Lin gongzi is also in trouble, the words of the princes are meaningless.”

“That’s not necessarily true.” Xuan Qing, who hadn’t said much from the start, suddenly spoke.

“Oh, how is it not necessarily true?” Bai Tianrui said, “Master Xuan Qing, what insight do you have?”

Xuan Qing said, “Since the two princes swore that there are many Loathing Victory items in the Imperial Garden, why not send someone to check it out?”

Bai Tianrui seemed to want to say something, but in the end, he held back the words.

Bai Jinglun agreed with Xuan Qing’s proposal and waved his hand, instructing the guards to search carefully in the Imperial Garden and to not let go of any corner where something could be possibly hidden.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: The third day that senior has been offline. 

Gu Xuandu: Missed me?

Lin Rufei: How dare you sneak on a vest to pinch me.

Gu Xuandu: ……………….

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[1] In this case, he is referring to her as an illegitimate child because she is from a concubine, but putting “illegitimate child” is a mouthful so I will be using “bastard.” 

[2] Not actual sticks, this means spanking with a paddle.  

[3] Idiom: to punish an individual as an example to others. 

Chapter 58: Matters in the Palace

Before because of the princess’s fainting matter, the Imperial Garden had been carefully searched once. But the purpose then was to find people, so some areas that were impossible to hide a person were missed. Now, after His Holiness just scolded the two princes, he ordered the search with a sullen face. The people in charge of the search naturally understood. His Holiness was very angry, so when they searched, they were extra careful. They simply wanted to lift up every piece of turf to look carefully to see if anything was hidden at the bottom. 

It was very hot outside the room. The people outside faced the sun, as they searched through the Imperial garden, while they waited inside the room. In every corner of the room, there were large amounts of ice being placed to cool it down. There were also maids on the side fanning the fan so that it wasn’t as hot. Bai Tianrui was afraid that they would be thirsty so he even asked someone to bring over chilled plum soup[1]. After what had happened last night at the inn, Lin Rufei did not sleep for most of the night. Now that he was sitting in the room to rest, he felt a bit sleepy. But in the end, he was in front of the emperor so he didn’t feel appropriate to be too obvious. Instead, he let out a few occasional small yawns when he chatted with Xuan Qing. 

“Is Lin gongzi tired?” However, Xuan Qing was very sensitive and he caught the tired look on Lin Rufei’s face, “Since you are tired, do you want to go back to rest first?”

Lin Rufei shook his head and said in a strained voice, “No problem, I just didn’t rest well last night, I’m just a little sleepy.”

When Bai Jinglun heard this, he said that there was a guest room next to this room and if Lin Rufei didn’t mind, he could take a short nap in the guest room. Lin Rufei refused, saying that he had never slept well before and that Bai Jinglun should not worry too much about it.

Hearing this, Bai Jinglun also did not continue to persuade. It could be seen that his mood at this time was extremely bad because whether or not they were able to the items of Loathing Victory in the Imperial Garden like the sixth prince said, it wasn’t good. If they were found, it showed that the third princess really had a harmful heart. But if they were not found, it showed that the sixth prince was instigated by someone and learned some things that should not be learned. His own child got into trouble and he, the father, naturally was not happy.

Bai Tianrui was not the least bit nervous. He and Xuan Qing happily chatted about what happened during the past few years.

From their conversation, Lin Rufei learned that the two had been friends for decades, yet the person Xuan Qing first met was not Bai Tianrui, but Bai Jinglun, who had already become the emperor. If one were to count the years, the three should have been friends for many years. However, the attitude that Xuan Qing had with the Bai family did not show such. Whether it was facing Bai Jinglun or Bai Tianrui, Xuan Qing would always have a gentle and courteous appearance. There was no transgression between his words and it was very appropriate. Although this was polite, in the end, there was a loss of the friendliness that only friends had.

Lin Rufei was not familiar with them so he sat on the side drinking the plum soup and acted as if he was listening to the story.

This plum soup tasted very good. It was sweet and sour and after it was chilled, it helped relieve the heat even more. Lin Rufei drank a cup and just as he was planning to pour a second cup, the head of the search team came back from the Imperial Garden.

From appearance, the leader looked like he should be a guard and on such a hot day, he was naturally sweaty from searching through the Imperial Garden for so long. However, at this time his face was as white as paper and one could not see a hint of color. He walked in front of Bai Jinglun and heavily kneeled down as he spoke in a trembling voice: “Your Majesty, it’s been found………”

“Found what?” Bai Jinglun narrowed his eyes and his tone was unkind. 

“Found the item of Loathing Victory…… just that my subordinates do not know much about the object and do not know what use it has.” The head guard kneeled on the ground and answered in a low voice.

Just as the words left his mouth, a loud “bang” resounded. Bai Jinglun was so angry that he threw the plum soup, that was on the table, directly onto the floor. He then said in a fierce voice: “Where is it?”

“It’s under the plum tree in the imperial garden, this subordinate didn’t dare to move it.” The head guard replied in a low voice.

Bai Jinglun got up and left. By the time Lin Rufei had reacted, he had already taken a few steps out of the room. 

The three people left in the room looked at each other and the atmosphere was slightly awkward. Bai Tianrui sighed, shook his head, and then proceeded to follow him.

Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing also got up to follow. Xuan Qing walked beside Lin Rufei and explained in a low voice why Bai Jinglun was so angry.

It turned out that Bai Jinglun, amongst the several heir apparents, loved the third princess the most. The third princess’s mother was very favored but her health was not good. After she gave birth to the eldest son and the third princess, she quickly passed away and the third princess was raised under the Empress Dowager. The emperor was mindful of the fact that she had lost her mother since childhood and loved her very much. If she really used the art of Loathing Victory to harm people, most likely the one in most distress, was Bai Jinglun, this father. 

Lin Rufei and Xuan Qing walked behind them slowly. When they reached the Imperial Garden, they heard Bai Jinglun’s suppressed anger as he told them to dig out something.

The object was buried under a tall plum tree. It was said that the third princess was very fond of this plum tree and did not allow anyone to go near it at all. Now that the object was dug up from under the plum tree, wouldn’t it be a confirmation of the sixth prince’s words?

Although Lin Rufei had read many history books and knew that the imperial struggles have always been cruel, at this time, a complex emotion surfaced in his heart as he finally had the privilege of witnessing it with his own eyes. 

Xuan Qing stood next to him and watched the movement of the guards carefully. His handsome face was without sadness or joy and was still not moved by such external objects.

“It……It’s this……” The head guard warily took out an iron box and carefully opened it to reveal what was inside.

Lin Rufei was able to see the objects inside the gift box from afar. There was a strange-shaped cloth doll and a book with pages that had turned yellow. There seemed to be something else pressed beneath the book and Bai Jinglun took out the thing from beneath. After shaking it open, he found that it was actually a few pages of painting that carried a childish style. These paintings looked like a mess. It was so messy and unorganized that it looked like a child’s spontaneous work. However, Bai Jinglun’s original heavy and gloomy expression softened a lot after seeing the paintings and even a soft sigh escaped out of his mouth.

The crowd all showed a strange look but it was Xuan Qing who was the first to understand. He shook his head and said, “You guys are mistaken, this is not the art of Loathing Victory, it is just old relics of the princess.”

“Master Xuan Qing is right.” Bai Jinglun nodded his head, sort of approving Xuan Qing’s statement. He gently picked up the doll and carefully placed it in his hand, caressing it gently. His eyes were full of memories and warmth as he reminisced of the past, “This doll was her handiwork. She had poor craftsmanship and in order to coax the child, she made such a contraption, but it scared Moumou badly.”

As he finished speaking, he put the doll back into the box, “After that, I thought the doll was thrown away by Moumou’s mother, I never thought I would still see it here.” As he said this, he shook his head, revealing some vicissitudes and handed the box to Xuan Qing who had been standing next to him, “Master Xuan Qing take a look, are there any suspicious objects in the box?”

Xuan Qing stepped forward, took the iron box, and carefully examined the contents. He looked at the odd-shaped doll a few times, then put it back down. Then he turned to the book and searched page by page until the end and did not seem to find anything strange on it. Finally, it was only the few childish paintings at the bottom of the box. When Xuan Qing picked up one of them and carefully observed it, Lin Rufei, who was standing next to him, suddenly frowned. 

Xuan Qing held up a painting. At first glance, it looked like a child’s doodles and there were no peculiarities, but after careful observation, one would notice that all these doodles were printed with black ink stains. The content of the paintings was very rich; there were people and landscapes but the person who painted was too young, so the shape of the things drawn was very strange and they could only barely be recognized.

In one of the paintings, the ink stain seemed to have become the main character. It was drawn in the center of the paper and was surrounded by a rough depiction of a few small people. She probably wanted to express that a group of children was playing around this thing in the middle. At a rough look, it didn’t seem to be much, but if one were to look at it for a long time, their back would start to feel a chill for no apparent reason.  

“What, is there something wrong with these paintings, Lin gongzi?” Bai Tianrui noticed that Lin Rufei looked grave and asked casually.

Lin Rufei questioned, “When were these paintings painted?”

“They were painted by Moumou when she was a child.” Bai Jinglun answered Lin Rufei’s question, “She is impatient and didn’t like literary things like the zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting and when her teacher taught her, she would get very naughty——very naughty.” As he talked about the princess’s faults, his expression showed pride, “But her skills in riding and shooting were one of the best, even stronger than her several brothers. If she were not a girl……” His words carried a hint of regret and anyone who heard it could tell.

Bai Jinglun’s love for the princess was evident, but what could he do even if he loved her? From the moment she was born she was destined to be a princess no matter how favored she was.

Lin Rufei also felt regret. If this third princess was born in a family of cultivators, as long as her talent was good enough, whether male or female, she would be the most favored one. However, unfortunately, she was born in the mortal world, she still could not escape this unwilling fate.

“Why is there a cloud of black ink on every one of the princess’s paintings?” Lin Rufei wondered.

Bai Jinglun disagreed: “Ink? It’s probably because she was naughty and accidentally soiled her paintings.”

Lin Rufei asked, “This iron box contains the princess’ beloved things, right?”

Bai Jinglun nodded his head.

Lin Rufei pondered, “Since it is a beloved object, how could it be soiled by hand?”

He did have a few points and when the crowd heard these words, they also started pondering for a moment. However, Bai Tianrui suddenly spoke: “It’s hard to stay outside in this heat, why don’t we go inside and continue?”

“Yes.” Bai Jinglun agreed.

Several people then returned the same way and re-entered the study.

Only when they walked halfway, Bai Tianrui took the iron box from Xuan Qing’s hand and examined it for himself. However, he was not interested in the painting and instead focused on the oddly shaped cloth doll. He held it in his hand and kneaded it around for a while. Lin Rufei, who was standing beside him, noticed his unnusual movements. Seeing that Xuan Qing and Bai Jinglun were talking, he took advantage and deliberately slowed down. And just like that, the two of them fell behind.  

When Bai Tianrui noticed Lin Rufei’s sudden pause, he smiled at him, “Lin gongzi, what are you doing beside me instead of catching up with them? Is it possible that you also like me?”

Lin Rufei ignored his half-hearted words and asked directly, “What is so special about the third princess’s doll?”

Bai Tianrui lowered his eyes, but he didn’t say anything.

Lin Rufei said, “If you don’t take it out now, you won’t have a chance to do so when you enter the room later.”

In the end, Bai Tianrui sighed and with some helplessness in his eyes, he responded, “Lin gongzi, Lin gongzi, there are times when being too smart……is really not a good thing.” As he spoke, the hand that Bai Tianrui had used to hold the doll, exerted a small amount of force. What he didn’t expect was to actually see a few shiny, sharp needles being squeezed out from the doll’s body. He casually pulled these needles off the doll and threw it into the grass to the side before placing the doll back into the box.

Lin Rufei saw the needles and froze.

“Lin gongzi might not know.” Bai Tianrui lowered his voice and whispered, “My brother’s concubines, in fact, gave birth to more than two dozen children for him. However, either by accident or illness, the number of premature deaths was innumerable. And in the end, there were only six that have survived until now.”

Lin Rufei listened in silence.

“These things are common and I have long been used to it.” Bai Tianrui continued, “He loves the third princess because he feels that the third princess is like her, do you know who she is?”

Lin Rufei said, “……White……rabbit?”

Bai Tianrui suppressed a smile, “Yes, that white rabbit spirit.” He waved his hand, “She was also smart, no, was a smart rabbit. She was less courageous than anyone else and when she noticed that things were not right, she quickly slipped away. My brother used all the methods, but still could not bring her back.” 

When Lin Rufei realize that they were about to arrive at the room, he frowned and said, “What do you mean by saying this to me?” He still didn’t understand what Bai Tianrui’s words had to do with the needles in the doll.

Bai Tianrui said: “I say this because I just think that if some things can not be changed, it is better to be confused. You see, the third princess is a poor little girl in the eyes of her father, so let her stay as is. After all, in terms of certain things, she does count as a pitiful child.”

Lin Rufei finally understood his meanings.

The iron box was placed under the plum tree by the third princess. The third princess did not use the art of Loathing Victory, so there were no traces of it. But just because she didn’t use the art of Loathing Victory it didn’t mean that she didn’t have resentment in her heart. She was resenting someone and even hated them to the point that she would put needles one by one into the body of the doll. Bai Tianrui took the needles out because he did not want Bai Jinglun to know of these dirty things hidden in his beloved daughter’s heart. He only wanted to leave his brother with a clean and innocent little girl.

Lin Rufei fell into silence. He once again witnessed the complexity of human nature.

Once they entered the room, the group sat down. Xuan Qing once again checked the iron box, affirming that this thing had nothing to do with Loathing Victory. When Bai Jinglun heard this, he smiled. He put the things away with a gentle look and said that he would hand it back to the princess when she woke up. When Bai Tianrui saw this, laughed: “Brother, why are you relaxed? If the princess didn’t do this, then the culprit has not been found, why are you so eager to be happy?”

Then it dawned upon Bai Jinglun: “You’re right.”

“This monk does have some leads.” Xuan Qing folded his hands and smiled, “But I still need some time.”

“Oh, what lead?” Bai Jinglun asked.

Xuan Qing commented, “It’s still too early to say, when I am sure, I will tell His Holiness.”

Bai Jinglun trusted Xuan Qing so much that he didn’t ask any follow-up questions and just nodded his head in agreement.

After a busy morning, it was finally time to eat. Xuan Qing found an excuse not to eat with the two brothers of the Bai family and dragged Lin Rufei out of the palace to eat.

Sitting at the table, Xuan Qing was obviously a little hungry. When the vegetarian foods were brought out, he gorged himself full. But from time to time, he would also urge Lin Rufei to eat.

Lin Rufei didn’t have a very high appetite so there was a hitch in eating the food in front of him: “Master Xuan Qing, did you really have any important discovery?”

Xuan Qing remarked, “Discovery, well. Yes, there is.” Who knew that he would sigh and show a headache expression, “But I really do not want to get involved in those things in his family.”

Lin Rufei said, “Heir apparent?”

Xuan Qing nodded.

“The heir apparent has something to do with the attack on the princes?” Lin Rufei couldn’t understand. Logically speaking, that thing was very powerful. If it was involved with the imperial family then it should have made its move long ago, why would it need to wait until now?

Xuan Qing continued: “I carefully asked about the situation on the day of the princes’ accident and then compared to what happened to Lin gongzi yesterday, I found a pattern.”

Lin Rufei asked, “What is the pattern?”

Xuan Qing said, “They all happened at night.” He slowly continued, “Actually, it’s not unusual for such assassinations to happen at night. After all, after night, the guards will slack off, and then it won’t be easily detected by others. It’s just that this thing comes and goes without a trace and according to Lin gongzi, it was right in front of your eyes, yet you still couldn’t see him…… Since that’s the case, it doesn’t seem to matter when it makes its move.” 

Lin Rufei slightly narrowed his eyes. He followed Xuan Qing’s words and began his train of thoughts.

Xuan Qing said, “In that case, why does it have to choose at night? Unless……”

“Unless night is necessary for it to appear.” Lin Rufei stated Xuan Qing’s speculation, “But what does this have to do with the establishment of the heir apparent?”

Xuan Qing let out a long sigh: “Naturally there is a relationship. Since it can choose the time it appears, it means that the thing’s behavior is not a demonic move, but a conscious choice. Now the people in trouble are the Second Prince and the Sixth Prince, who do you think……is the most suspicious?”

If the second prince and the sixth prince died, the one that benefitted now was of course the first prince. This was the simplest way to discern this matter, just look at who could benefit the most from this matter. This was indeed reasonable, but Lin Rufei still felt that there was something fishy about it.

“So the Third Princess’ coma was also intentional?” Lin Rufei knew that the third princess and the first prince were siblings of the same father and mother, “Wouldn’t this method be a bit too risky?”

Xuan Qing said, “True or false, false or real, everyone thinks that the third princess is suffering. The person who did it naturally will not be the eldest prince who was closest to her. If you would think so, the emperor would also think so.” He folded his hands and let out a long sigh, “I watched the third princess grow up, she should be a good child, but who could say for sure that good children didn’t have their own thoughts? The emperor likes her, and with her, he also likes the eldest prince……”

This matter was indeed troublesome, a careless mistake would involve all sides of the forces.

Lin Rufei looked at Xuan Qing’s downcast gaze and suddenly asked: “In fact, if Master Xuan Qing wanted to solve this matter, it would not be difficult, right?”

Xuan Qing was curious, “Why does Lin gongzi say that?”

Lin Rufei thought for a moment and said, “There is a not-so-appropriate analogy.”

Xuan Qing: “Hmm?”

Lin Rufei said, “You see two ants fighting, wanting them to stop is a very simple matter, just crush one. But if the two ants are your favorite, then this matter becomes difficult. A careless, heavy method and the ants will be missing hands and feet, and even die a miserable death.”

Xuan Qing pondered: “Human lives are like ants, it is a good analogy.” He was born as a monk and dedicated his life to the Lord Buddha. However, there was no compassion in his eyes, or rather, his compassion was different from the ordinary monks. At least the matter of life and death was not so important in his eyes. Some people who live in this world might as well go to bliss and be reincarnated by Lord Buddha. 

“I wonder if Master can tell me why he is so dedicated in helping the Bai family?” Lin Rufei propped up his chin, looked obliquely at Xuan Qing, and asked the question he was most curious about.

Xuan Qing smiled and muttered, “It’s been many years, so it’s better not to mention it.”

Lin Rufei knew he was not willing to talk about it so he did not force him to say. He lifted the teapot to his own cup of tea and refilled it. He then raised the cup and toasted Xuan Qing. Xuan Qing also looked back at Lin Rufei, with eyes as warm and gentle as the Spring breeze: “If it were Lin gongzi, what would you do when encountering these complicated things?”

Lin Rufei blinked: “If it were me……”

Xuan Qing said, “Hmm?”

Lin Rufei said, “If it were me, I would first pull that thing out, make sure it would not harm anyone, and then find a random excuse to slip away.” He put down the cup of tea in his hand and said seriously, “Anyway, Bai Tianrui has to sit and guard Dajing so he has no time to catch me.”

When Xuan Qing heard this, he glanced and then applauded in laughter. He didn’t know the true nature of this mountain, only because he was on the mountain. He was truly tempted by the devil. 

Regarding the nasty things in the imperial family, Lin Rufei was really not too interested. However, he was more interested in finding that thing sooner. He did not understand what the words “Heavenly Ruler” that the thing called out in his ear meant. The Heavenly Ruler was a legend from a hundred years ago and was already a mythical existence to him, so what did this myth have to do with this fierce thing that wanted to take his life?

At this time, Lin Rufei couldn’t wait to know the answer.

“Is there any method to hook that thing out?” Lin Rufei was almost done eating so he put down his chopsticks and concentrated on discussing with Xuan Qing, “Since he struck a third time, there will definitely be a fourth……Master Xuan Qing, what does this look you are giving me mean?……” As he said, he noticed Xuan Qing smiling and staring at himself. That look, no matter how he looked, felt like it was harboring ill intent.

Xuan Qing said, “Lin gongzi, what happened last night, are you hiding something?”

Lin Rufei was stunned.

Xuan Qing continued: “Don’t be in a hurry to deny. I’m not asking what you’re hiding, I just think that that thing seems to be extraordinarily interested in you.”

Lin Rufei raised his eyebrows slightly, “How so?”

Xuan Qing stated: “Take a look. Before, the people who were in accidents were all the imperial princes and princesses in the palace. Once Lin gongzi came, you immediately became a scapegoat. Say, isn’t that thing extraordinarily interested in Lin gongzi?”

After listening to Xuan Qing’s statement, Lin Rufei was a bit speechless: “……Well, that’s true.”

Xuan Qing continued, “The method that Lin gongzi said can indeed be tried……”

Lin Rufei already understood Xuan Qing’s meaning and raised his hand to point at himself, “Then how do you know it will still come to me?”

Xuan Qing said, “That’s why it’s just trying.” 

Lin Rufei remembered the dangerous situation last night, when he was nearly strangled to death, and fell into deep thought for a moment.

Xuan Qing saw this and explained: “If you don’t want to, I won’t force you, after all if you don’t do this right, it could kill you.”

But Lin Rufei said straightforwardly, “There is no harm in trying.” If Xuan Qing’s guess was right and that thing was indeed interested in him, then as long as he didn’t leave the place, there was a possibility that he would be attacked again.

“But if it succeeds, I would have done Master Xuan Qing such a big favor, Master Xuan Qing should then compensate me for something, right?” Lin Rufei said.

Xuan Qing nodded: “That’s natural, I wonder what Lin gongzi would like?”

Lin Rufei stated, “Then let’s hear the story of Master Xuan Qing and the Bai family back then.”

Xuan Qing pursed his lips slightly, but then he nodded slowly, “Alright.”

Lin Rufei reached out his hand at him, “Then it’s a deal, high five as a pledge!”

Xuan Qing also raised his hand and slapped it against Lin Rufei’s palm. The two palms came together with a light sound and a faint smile appeared on both of their faces.

********

The author has something to say:

Lin Rufei: The third day senior has been offline. 

Gu Xuandu: In fact, seriously, I wasn’t offline yesterday.

Lin Rufei: You still have the guts to say that?

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[1] Plum soup. 

Chapter 59: The Princess’s Affair

Since he was to be bait, then naturally, he should be in a place where it was easy to lure that thing out.

That night, on Xuan Qing and Bai Tianrui’s side, they greeted each other and welcomed Lin Rufei into the palace. Fu Hua and Yu Rui didn’t know what was actually happening so they naturally were a little worried. In the end, Lin Rufei had to reassure them for a quite while before they reluctantly agreed. After riding into the palace in a carriage, Lin Rufei was finally able to witness the palace during the night. The scenery looked a little different compared to the daytime. Under the vermillion eaves, there were big red palace lamps hanging everywhere. There were also palace maids or guards walking slowly in rows along the roadside but it was not as silent as Lin Rufei had imagined.

Since there was a target of suspicion in mind and Lin Rufei was the bait, naturally, the place he was staying in, the closer it was to the target object the better. With this thought in mind, the room where Lin Rufei rested was then arranged next to the third princess. Lin Rufei, who was staying in the room, asked if Bai Jinglun knew of this matter however, Xuan Qing shook his head and denied it.

“Well, I can’t say that he doesn’t know. ” Xuan Qing explained with a smile, “After all, it was someone from the outside entering the palace. The emperor must have been aware, but I didn’t tell him in detail. I just told him that the palace may have some clues at night so we need to stay for a night to search for something.”

Lin Rufei pondered over this and agreed with his words. Bai Jinglun loved the third princess very much, if he knew that Xuan Qing suspected her and the eldest prince, his heart would definitely be very unhappy. Xuan Qing was very smart and he was able to directly avoided this critical issue.

The Summer sky took a while to darken. After the sun finally set, the sky transformed into a pale azure, and when one looked at it from a distance, one could see the brilliant fire clouds drifting in the sky.

Xuan Qing and Lin Rufei were sitting in the room with two cups of warm tea in front of them. Lin Rufei asked, “Master Xuan Qing, why don’t you go and rest first? It’s still early in the day, so I’m afraid that thing won’t come over.”

Xuan Qing responded, “Wouldn’t it be a bit boring for Lin gongzi to sit alone in the room?”

Lin Rufei pondered, “Bored?” He was a little surprised that Xuan Qing’s mind was so meticulous. He then smiled, “No, I’ve always liked peace and quiet since I was young, I’ve long been used to being alone, Master Xuan Qing needn’t worry.”

On the Kunlun Mountains, instead of the noisiness at the foot of the mountain, he had always preferred to stay alone on the snowy mountain top. Wrapped in a thick winter coat while burning a pot of charcoal and holding two or three volumes of books in his hand, unknowingly, another day would pass. Occasionally, he would feel lonely but as the days passed by, he also got used to it. Sadly, his brothers and sister couldn’t stand to see him in this way and would often pull him down from the mountain.

Xuan Qing muttered an Amitabha Buddha. After speaking a few more words with Lin Rufei, he then got up and left the room, leaving Lin Rufei alone inside.

After going out, Xuan Qing didn’t even take a few steps before he entered changed course and entered the room next to Lin Rufei. Once inside, he saw Bai Tianrui sitting lazily on a chair with a pot of wine in front of him, drinking it in a bored manner. When Bai Tianrui noticed that Xuan Qing came back, he didn’t even bother raising his head: “You’re comfortable leaving the Lin family’s youngest son alone in the room?”

Xuan Qing laughed: “What’s there to worry about?”

“If I’m not mistaken, that little gongzi doesn’t have a trace of sword Qi on his body, right?” Bai Tianrui narrowed his eyes, “If such a cute little porcelain thing is accidentally broken, will you not be heartbroken?”

Xuan Qing questioned, “Porcelain?”

Bai Tianrui raised his eyes to look at Xuan Qing, using his eyes to ask what was wrong with his statement.

“The Prince said that Lin gongzi is porcelain?” Xuan Qing smiled and said, “Blame this monk’s clumsy eyes. In all these years of living, this monk has never seen such hard porcelain.”

Bai Tianrui naturally understood the hidden meaning behind Xuan Qing’s words. He put down the wine cup in his hand and said in a deep voice, “What is the origin of this Lin gongzi?”

Xuan Qing did not answer. He said another Amitabha Buddha and sat down opposite Bai Tianrui, closing his eyes and began reciting scriptures.

This look of Xuan Qing’s made Bai Tianrui angry to the point of laughter and he tapped his fingers on the table impatiently: “Monk, you and I have been friends for so many years, why is your heart moving towards the little gongzi you’ve met for only a few days?”

Xuan Qing didn’t even bother, completely treating him as air. 

Bai Tianrui deliberately sighed and placed his head in front of Xuan Qing. The tip of his nose almost touched the table as he said: “Monk, you’re still going to ignore me?” 

Xuan Qing opened his eyes halfway. He calmly said only one sentence and this reckless and wanton Prince with a level eight cultivation immediately shut his mouth: “To be honest, this monk and Lin gongzi’s origin has to be said from a hundred years ago.”

These words were something that Bai Tianrui should not have believed, but the monk could not lie, so every word he said was naturally true.

Lin gongzi looked only around his twenties, how could he and the monk have a hundred years old relationship? Bai Tianrui couldn’t understand but his interest in Lin Rufei grew even stronger.

Lin Rufei sat alone in the room waiting for night to come. The tea in front of him was almost finished so he called the palace attendant outside the room to change to a new pot of tea and also asked what time it was.

The palace staff replied submissively, saying that the 21st hour had just passed.

“Oh, it’s already the 21st hour.” Lin Rufei was a little curious, “Will the guards outside stand guard all night?”

“Yes.” The palace attendant replied in a low voice, “But around the 23rd hour of the night, there will be a rotation of guards on night duty, does gongzi need anything else?”

“No, you can leave.” Lin Rufei waved his hand.

After nightfall, the sky finally darkened and finally, it wasn’t as hot as before but it also wasn’t too cool either. After all, the sun had baked the Earth all day, and the remaining heat rose up making people feel a bit stuffy. Lin Rufei simply washed up and headed off to bed. He squinted his eyes and took a nap. The fire on the candelabra placed by the window was flickering with the wind until a strong gust suddenly started and blew the fire out.

This was also convenient for Lin Rufei since he no longer needed to get out of bed to turn out the light. Lin Rufei opened his eyes and stared at the room plunged into darkness before him. Along with the darkness, there was silence, but this silence was not absolute and the sound of the windows being gently shaken by the wind could be heard. It was unknown if it was Lin Rufei’s imagination, but he vaguely seemed to catch a subtle magical rattling, as if someone had gently torn something from something else. This rattling was not crisp and it carried some sticky and unpleasant feeling. But if he was to listen to it carefully, he would find that this was actually just his own imagination. In his ears, he could only hear the whistling wind and the swinging wooden windows.

Lin Rufei always felt that this feeling was somewhat familiar. After carefully thinking over it for a moment, he finally remembered when he had such a feeling—on the day when he saw the paintings by the Third Princess Moumou when she was young. It was then that he once had such a strange sense of incongruity.

If he had to describe this feeling, it would be like a wet, cool, icy object that was attached to the position near the chest and that object was making strange sounds, making people’s hair stand up involuntarily.

The moment Lin Rufei had this feeling, he rolled over and sat up from the bed. He carefully observed the window and the room, trying to find the source of the sound. But it was very difficult to find the source of the intermittent and subtle rattling. Lin Rufei thought for a moment, got up, and walked to the window. He closed the window with a creak, completely isolating the wind outside.

The room was now completely quiet and that strange sound became much more obvious. However, when Lin Rufei realized where the sound was coming from, his movements froze.

It seemed that Xuan Qing was right. To that thing, he was indeed special. It had only been one night in the palace and that thing already came looking for him.

Lin Rufei took a deep breath and slowly lifted his head to look at the beam above his head. And at this time, the room was currently dim so he couldn’t see anything clearly. The same went for the beam. However, Lin Rufei quickly perceived the peculiarness above the beam……it was too dark. Unlike the ordinary darkness, on the top of the beam, it was as if two black holes were suddenly opened, absorbing all the surrounding light. The two holes consisted of one large and one small and it vaguely presented the appearance of a human figure. It was just lying on top, silently gazing at Lin Rufei who was under the beam.

When Lin Rufei looked towards them, it was a horrible feeling that he was staring right at that thing. When Lin Rufei realized this scene, he wanted to call out to Xuan Qing next door, but as soon as his words spilled out of his throat, the thing turned into a huge net and covered Lin Rufei’s body with a fierce momentum. Lin Rufei’s sight was deprived in an instant. He wanted to shout but something harshly blocked his mouth. His whole person staggered a few steps back as he directly fell onto the soft bed next to him.

“Heavenly Ruler.” It was the same as that night and it had the exact same voice as Gu Xuandu. The fierce thing murmured lowly, as if it was casting a curse on him. One after another, it made chills appear on Lin Rufei’s body, “Heavenly Ruler……Heavenly Ruler……”

Lin Rufei pushed back in pain. Just as he was about to suffocate, the thing pried open his mouth hard and stuck something into his mouth.

“Heavenly Ruler……” The fierce thing seemed to only know these words as it kept repeating it over and over again, but with different emotions.

Lin Rufei finally realized what this thing wanted to do. He actually wanted to follow along his mouth and desperately squeeze into his body. His mouth was stretched to the maximum, not to mention crying for help, even a whimpering sound could not be issued. He could only muffle a few grunts. If this thing really came in, it was estimated that his fate would be similar to the unconscious third princess next door to him. At such a dangerous moment, Lin Rufei forced himself to calm down. He took a deep breath, no longer trying to break free from the control of the fierce creature, and touched the dimensional ring on his thumb. With difficulty, he took out the long-prepared things from the dimensional ring. 

It was a paper crane and when Lin Rufei released it from the ring, it let out a sharp cry. The black shadow pressed against Lin Rufei shook violently as if it was frightened. Lin Rufei was happy to see this, thinking that it was afraid, but who knew that the black shadow would call out “Heavenly Ruler” again, but this one had some resentment and anger in it as if it did not understand why Lin Rufei would do such a thing.

Lin Rufei stared with wide eyes. Unbelievably, the tone of the murderous creature sounded aggrieved. This thing was aggrieved? I am almost choked to death by it…… The black shadow had started to enter Lin Rufei’s throat. He stared helplessly as it was about to continue sliding downwards when suddenly, Xuan Qing, who had no movement next door, finally came in late. And together with him, was a sleepy-eyed Bai Tianrui. 

When the two entered the room and saw the scene in front of them, they both sucked in a breath of cold air. They could see Lin Rufei lying limply and helplessly on the bed with a black unidentified object attached to the top of his body. It suppressed Lin Rufei’s struggle and was trying to shove something desperately into his mouth.

Bai Tianrui reacted quickly. He pulled out the sword blade on the side of his waist and swung at the object. When the snow-white sword Qi made contact with the black shadow, it was as if a stone had sank into the sea, there was not the slightest reaction. Seeing Lin Rufei’s breath getting weaker and weaker, Xuan Qing took a few steps towards the table. He picked up the fire torch on the table and blew out a big breath. The bright firelight soon illuminated the whole room. 

Once the black shadow was illuminated by the firelight, its body flickered a few times, and then it fled from the window. When Bai Tianrui saw this situation, he directly went after it. Xuan Qing, however, did not rush. Instead, he went to the bedside and checked on Lin Rufei’s status first.

Lin Rufei slowly recovered from the suffocation. He was leaning against the edge of the bed and hacking violently. Because of the black shadow’s action just now, the corner of his lips was cracked from the stretch and several strands of bright red blood drops were slowly dripping down his chin. Xuan Qing took out a silk handkerchief and gently helped Lin Rufei wipe away the bloodstains on his lips and asked worriedly, “Lin gongzi, are you okay?”

Lin Rufei shook his head: “Nothing serious. Is Master Xuan Qing not going to follow? That thing doesn’t seem to be too afraid of sword Qi.”

“No need.” Xuan Qing said slowly, “I know what that thing is.”

Lin Rufei was curious, “What is it?”

But Xuan Qing did not answer. He just silently looked at Lin Rufei with compassionate eyes containing a pity that Lin Rufei could not understand.

Lin Rufei didn’t understand. He frowned and asked, “What does Master Xuan Qing mean by this?”

“Nothing, I just think that Lin gongzi has suffered.” Xuan Qing responded.

Lin Rufei pressed his finger onto the wound at the corner of his mouth. He hissed and waved his hand indifferently, “It’s just a small wound, it’s not a problem.”

“There’s always someone who will be distressed when they look at it.” Xuan Qing got up, “Can Lin gongzi stand up? On Bai Tianrui’s side, there should be results as well.”

Lin Rufei naturally had no problem. Apart from a small injury on the corner of his mouth, that thing did not make any other moves to hurt him. Instead, he was more frightened and shocked. However, he wasn’t too timid. After recuperating for a while, he followed Xuan Qing out of the room. But he didn’t expect Bai Tianrui, who should have been chasing the shadow, to be standing at their door. His expression was livid and ugly. 

“Why is the Prince here?” Lin Rufei wondered, “Did you lose it?”

Bai Tianrui shook his head and looked at Xuan Qing, “Did you already know about it?”

Xuan Qing folded his hands and said Amitabha Buddha.

“Stinky monk.” Bai Tianrui spat toward the ground. He pointed at Xuan Qing and cursed, “You really f**king knew about it a long time ago.” As he said this, he pointed at Lin Rufei, “Aren’t you afraid that thing will really make a move on Lin Rufei?”

Xuan Qing replied flatly, “This monk knows his own sense of propriety.”

“Okay, propriety.” Bai Tianrui said, “You have said all the good words and bad words, I would like to see how you explain to my brother later.” After finishing these words, he let out a cold snort. 

Xuan Qing made a gesture of please.

Bai Tianrui turned around and headed straight into the room next to where the third princess was. Lin Rufei did not understand what the problem he and Xuan Qing were having and it wasn’t until he went in and sat down to wait for Bai Jinglun that he learned from Bai Tianrui exactly what had just happened.

Bai Tianrui didn’t lose the shadow. He had chased after it from the window and followed the black shadow around the palace. Who knew that in the end, it would lead him to the place where the third princess was residing. Bai Tianrui originally thought that the black shadow was going to harm the princess so he rushed into the room. But who knew that once he was inside, he saw the black shadow slowly attach itself to the body of the princess and fuse with the princess. Furthermore, the princess still had a rosy complexion as if she did not hear. So far, even if Bai Tianrui was stupid, he should have also understood by now.

And looking at Xuan Qing’s not-the-slightest-bit-surprised expression, it seemed that he had expected everything. The reason Bai Tianrui was so angry was obviously because he thought that Xuan Qing had set him up.

Lin Rufei smiled. He looked at the third princess, who was still unconscious on the bed, and sighed: “So what the Prince means is that this was all the Third Princess’s doing?”

Bai Tianrui said, “Even if she didn’t do it, she must have had something to do with it.” He continued in a cold voice, “The girl has grown up and has her own ideas, and I, as an uncle, can’t control it.” The implication was that he no longer intended to help the third princess cover up, but even if he wanted to cover up, he probably could not help her cover up… 

Lin Rufei looked at Xuan Qing again and saw that he still looked the same, seemingly indifferent to Prince Bai Tianrui’s angry accusations. He was about to ask Xuan Qing something else but footsteps soon sounded outside the door. He saw Bai Jinglun, who had hurriedly arrived, pushing the door open and saying, “What happened?” He was still wearing his pajamas only with a jacket layered on top. It could be seen that he was very concerned about this matter and came in a hurry.

Bai Tianrui ignored Bai Jinglun’s questioning gaze and refused to speak with a grimace. Finally, Xuan Qing sighed lightly and took a step forward. He spoke softly and retold what had happened tonight.  The more Bai Jinglun listened, the more ugly his expression became. However, he still did not say anything. But with this look on his face, it was clear that he was already furious to the extreme.

“So you mean, that thing was made by Moumou?” Bai Jinglun said coldly.

“Yes.” Xuan Qing responded.

“Then why doesn’t she wake up?!” Bai Jinglun said angrily, “And you actually didn’t find out anything different from her in the beginning!”

“Your Holiness, don’t be angry.” Xuan Qing said, “The reason we couldn’t find out was because this thing was a bit special.”

Bai Jinglun questioned, “How is it special?”

Xuan Qing walked to Bai Jinglun’s side and came up to his ear to whisper a few words. Bai Jinglun narrowed his eyes slightly, turned his head, and ordered his subordinates to bring some nannies[1] from the palace over.

Bai Tianrui laughed eerily next to him, “Yo, Master Xuan Qing finally came up with a method?”

Xuan Qing did not seemed to mind and smiled lightly at Bai Tianrui.

A few moments later, a few nannies came in from outside. Bai Jinglun pointed his finger and said, “You go and pull the princess up from the bed.”

Several nannies looked at each other, not knowing what the emperor meant by suddenly ordering this. However, they still obeyed the order and went to the princess’ soft bed. They carefully pulled the princess, who had been sleeping, up from the bed. The princess leaned softly in the nannies’ arms, unable to stand at all without the support. But at the emperor’s command, several nannies still grabbed the princess’ body from different directions and forced her body to stand up.

The room was brightly lit by fire and the princess hung her head. She was lifted by several people like a powerless puppet.

At first, Lin Rufei did not understand why Xuan Qing wanted to do this and only after he carefully observed for a moment, did he suddenly notice the incongruity. It was this little sense of incongruity that made people’s hairs stand up involuntarily.

He only saw that behind the princess, who was forced to stand up, a dark shadow left by the candlelight. Only, this shadow was not at all in the appearance of the princess but rather, it was like a cloud of ink stains on paper without any patterns reflected on the ground.

Although the nannies did not understand, the few people present saw it clearly. The black shadow behind the princess did not belong to her at all.

Bai Jinglun’s face was livid and he waved his hand to indicate that the idle people should leave. Only when everyone had gone out did he turn to Xuan Qing and ask, “What is going on?”

Xuan Qing replied, “The princess’s shadow was swallowed by something.”

“Swallowed?” Bai Jinglun said, “Speak more carefully.”

Xuan Qing said slowly, “The princess suddenly fell into a coma, but her three souls and seven spirits are all there. She was also not suffering from a strange poison, which made it very strange. I didn’t think of this at first, but after the attack on Lin gongzi, I suddenly remembered something.”

“What is it?” Lin Rufei asked.

Xuan Qing said, “When I was in the Nanyin Temple, I saw a book in which a strange method was described. It was a method used to control a person’s shadow so that they could control that person, just like a puppet with strings lifted. After I read the book, I thought that this method was impractical. After all, the shadow was not a soul, how could it control people? So I went to my senior disciple brother to ask, but who knew that my senior disciple brother would say this……for people, the shadow was equally important. Everyone was born with this thing and it was the same as the organs, hands, and feet. Once missing, it would be a big deal.” As he said this, he sighed, “But my senior disciple brother also said, in this world, those that could control the shadow are very few in numbers. It was almost impossible to pick one from a million so to not worry too much about it.”  

The princess suddenly had an accident and fell into a coma. And she had been lying in bed for the past few days, of course no one would notice any difference in her shadow.

“So who is controlling her shadow?” Bai Jinglun understood and it was quite noticeable that his tone was suppressed with anger. He obviously didn’t quite want to believe that the matter was voluntary for the third princess and felt that she was victimized by someone, “Moumou was well behaved since she was young, she didn’t come into contact with any messy people. You also said that there are very few people who can control the shadow, how could she be one of them?”

Xuan Qing sighed: “I hope so too, I’m just afraid……”

Bai Jinglun’s hand waved to stop the words Xuan Qing was going to say, “No need to be afraid, you just need to find the truth.”

Xuan Qing nodded his head.

Now they had finally found the source of the matter. Although they had not yet understood the exact cause, as long as they followed the clues, everything would soon be over. Bai Jinglun originally wanted Xuan Qing to investigate and handle the matter overnight, but Xuan Qing found an excuse that he could not continue tonight and that the rest of the matter would have to wait until tomorrow night.

When Bai Jinglun took Xuan Qing’s firm attitude, he could only give up.

The atmosphere in the room wasn’t too good just as several people broke up. Bai Tianrui, from the beginning to the end, did not say anything. Looking at his expression, he wasn’t going to participate and just wanted to watch the show. Xuan Qing sighed more today than he had in a month, but there was nothing he could do but coax Bai Jinglun, giving him some time to calm down.

Lin Rufei was rubbing the corner of his mouth, thinking about how to explain the strange wound to his maids.

After Bai Jinglun left, Bai Tianrui also got up and left, and Xuan Qing sent Lin Rufei back to the room. Lin Rufei said: “Can Master Xuan Qing still fall asleep?” 

Xuan Qing shook his head. After such a long night, it was almost dawn, how could he still sleep?

“Since you can’t sleep, why don’t you stay with me and chat?” Lin Rufei proposed.

Xuan Qing said, “That’s fine.” He didn’t feel comfortable leaving Lin Rufei alone in the room before this matter was finished. It wouldn’t be good if that thing came back again.

Lin Rufei said, “Since that thing has found me, the thing Master Xuan Qing promised me……”

Then it dawned upon Xuan Qing and he laughed: “So you were still waiting for me here. My origin with the Bai family, I will have to start ten years ago, when I happened to be passing through Dajing……” He had a light smile on his face as he fell into his memory.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: How dare someone tear the corner of my Xiao Jiu’s mouth! !

Lin Rufei expressionlessly: Who tore it? 

Gu Xuandu: …………

Lin Rufei: Acting mute?

Gu Xuandu: _(:з」∠)_

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[1] So the word here is 嬷嬷 which can refer to granny, mothers, wet nurses, elderly maids etc. None of the words really fit with the palace theme, so I stuck with nannies. But I just wanted to let you guys know that these are elderly nannies and not young ones 0.0 

Chapter 60: Black Shadow Separation

Xuan Qing left the Nanyin Temple and had been traveling outside for many years.

More than ten years ago, he happened to pass by Dajing and inadvertently met Bai Tianrui and Bai Jinglun, who were still teenagers. At that time, Bai Jinglun was not as stable as he was now. His temperament was actually quite similar to Bai Tianrui, and it could even be said that he was more proud and capricious than Bai Tianrui. After all, the first son was born as the first prince. He grew up as the apple of their eyes and was cherished deeply. Whatever he wanted, how could he ever be wronged? And at that time, Bai Tianrui, who had yet to become Prince, had his heart set on the sword. At first, he seemed to be a few points more simpler than Bai Jinglun.

The people of Dajing were liberal and there were temples of the Heavenly Ruler everywhere. This was actually a good thing for Xuan Qing. After all, from Nanyin to Dajing, he had walked a thousand miles and the money on his body had long been exhausted. At that time, since he had no money, he could only rely on begging to make the day. Furthermore, their Nanyin Temple actually had a rule that outsiders didn’t know, it was that they could take only items and could not collect silver money. 

Because of this rule, when Xuan Qing arrived at Dajing, he couldn’t even take out a coin from his pouch and could only rely on the kind-hearted people to barely fill his stomach.  

In such a situation, Xuan Qing ended up inadvertently meeting Bai Jinglun.

That day, he happened to be at the mouth of the well drinking water when two young men in brocade riding high horses rode past his side. The teenagers’ horses stopped next to him and they sized him up with interest while whispering to each other. The two thought that if they were far away, the monk would not know what they were talking about. But the monk was not an ordinary monk. Even though they were far away, he could hear the two people’s conversation clearly. 

Bai Jinglun opened his mouth first, “Brother, say do you think this monk is a real monk or a fake monk?”

Bai Tianrui glanced at Xuan Qing: “My guess is that he is real. A fake monk is not as poor as him.”

Bai Jinglun proposed, “Then let’s make a bet.”

Bai Tianrui asked, “Bet on what?”

Bai Jinglun came up to Bai Tianrui’s ear and whispered for a while, then the two of them hit it off and agreed to the bet.

Bai Jinglun rolled off his horse. He smiled, walked over to the monk, and asked, “Where is the Master from?”

Xuan Qing folded his hands and said in a warm voice, “A small temple in the west.”

Bai Jinglun added, “Where does Master intend to go next?”

Xuan Qing replied, “The monk intends to go to make a living.”

(t/n: he means to go begging here)

Bai Jinglun smiled and handed out an ingot of gold to Xuan Qing, “Master has worked hard in this hot weather, this is a small token of my appreciation, I hope Master will not mind.”

But how could Xuan Qing accept? He shook his head and refused Bai Jinglun’s kindness, saying that he does not accept silver money.

Bai Jinglun narrowed his eyes and observed Xuan Qing carefully for a while before withdrawing his hand: “Then what does Master accept to make a living?”

“Only zhai meals.” Xuan Qing replied.

As soon as he spoke these words, there was a cheeky laugh from Bai Tianrui who was behind him. It was quite obvious that he was laughing at Bai Jinglun for losing the bet. Bai Jinglun raised his chin and glared at Xuan Qing. He then lightly snorted, turned his head, and left, probably thinking that this monk was too boring. There was silver and he didn’t want it. Instead, he had actually wanted some laborious zhai meal. 

Xuan Qing watched as Bai Tianrui and Bai Jinglun left and then naively believed that his fate with these two teenagers would stop here. But who knew that after a few days, they would actually meet again, only this time, Xuan Qing was seriously injured and was wretchedly hiding in a temple to recuperate.

Bai Jinglun, who happened to come in to pay his respects to the Heavenly Ruler, noticed the scent of blood on him and soon found Xuan Qing hiding in a corner. Seeing the gentle and dignified young monk, from a few days ago, sitting in a corner wretchedly and covered with blood, Bai Jinglun stopped and squatted halfway down, waking up the semi-conscious Xuan Qing.

“How did you get hurt so badly?” Bai Jinglun’s tone was somewhat picky, “Who has the nerve to injure a monk in Dajing.”

Xuan Qing reluctantly replied, “It’s this monk’s own business.”

Bai Jinglun cocked his head and looked at him, “Why don’t you go to a doctor and ask him to check it for you?”

Xuan Qing replied, “No money.”

Bai Jinglun: “……”

This answer was really a bit awkward and Bai Jinglun even froze in place. He didn’t expect to get this answer from the monk’s mouth. He had wanted to ask more questions, but the monk fainted again because his injuries were too severe. Bai Jinglun pondered over it and felt that he could not leave the monk here. In case he died, wouldn’t it be too inauspicious? After all, this temple was his favorite one and the statue of the Heavenly Ruler inside was also the most beautiful one. After figuring this situation out, Bai Jinglun reached out and picked up the monk. He turned around, got on the horse, and galloped away. And just like that, he entered the palace. 

And so the unconscious Xuan Qing entered the palace of Dajing for the first time. If he knew that he would have an ill-fated relationship in his future with the Dajing’s Imperial Family, he probably would have crawled out of that temple. However, no matter what he thought about now, it was already too late. 

Xuan Qing, who was brought into the palace, drank a lot of medicine prescribed by the imperial doctor, and he peacefully recuperated for a period of time. When his body finally recovered, he had intended to leave. However, before leaving, he went to ask Bai Jinglun, asked him what wish he had and if it was possible, for this monk to know.  

Bai Jinglun laughed without any seriousness and said, ‘what, could it be that this monk could grant my wish?’ 

The monk did not get angry and said in a gentle voice, “There is no harm in saying it, benefactor.”

Bai Jinglun casually took out three ingots of gold from his pouch and handed them to Xuan Qing, saying seriously, “I just want to give money to the monk once, I wonder if the monk can make an exception for me?” As a teenager, he was just obsessed with a bet he lost with his brother and was completely unaware of what his action meant.

Xuan Qing’s appearance, which had always been indifferent, however, changed after Bai Jinglun said these words. His eyes slowly widened and he said, “Can Your Highness change his wish?”

“Not changing.” Bai Jinglun hummed and laughed, “Didn’t you just say that any wish can be granted? I just have one wish, monk, just do it. Quickly collect the money and leave!”

Xuan Qing was speechless. He stared at the gold in Bai Jinglun’s hand like he was staring at a hot potato.

At first, Bai Jinglun thought the monk was being reserved, but later he found that the suffering in his expression was not fake so his interest in him grew even more. He had lived for twenty years and had heard a lot of hypocritical courtesy, but for the first time in his life, he found someone who actually saw silver money as a tiger and wolf[1], this, of course, made him more curious. 

How could anyone in the world not like money? Bai Jinglun could not understand this logic.

The two were in a stalemate for quite a long time and finally, Xuan Qing was the one who lost. The teenage Bai Jinglun was as stubborn as a stone. How could Xuan Qing, who always had a good temper, be his opponent? Furthermore, he still owed him a favor for saving his life. After figuring all this out, Xuan Qing had to reach out and take the gold.

When the three shiny gold ingots dropped into Xuan Qing’s hand, there was a sizzling sound. And then Xuan Qing’s originally white palm actually had three extra burned black scorched marks.

Seeing this, Bai Jinglun was shocked. He pulled Xuan Qing’s hand over to take a closer look, only to find that what he had just seen was as if it was his own imagination.

“Amitabha Buddha.” The monk withdrew his hand and bowed to Bai Jinglun, “Then this monk will take his leave.”

“Go, go.” Bai Jinglun waved his hand, feeling that this monk was very evil.

Before leaving, the monk took out a bag from his arms. He reached out and handed it to Bai Jinglun, saying, “This monk is from Nanyin. If Your Highness has any trouble, please burn a bead, and this monk will come over as soon as possible.”

At that time, Bai Jinglun still did not know what the Nanyin Temple meant. He originally wanted to refuse the beads but after seeing the monk’s stubborn expression, the words of refusal ended up not coming out. He brought the bag over and tossed it casually onto the fruit plate in front of him, “Got it.” 

Xuan Qing sighed, turned around, and finally left.

Three ingots of gold and thirty sandalwood beads. The rules in the Nanyin Temple were set long ago and that was also why Xuan Qing never accepted money from people even after being outside for a long time. And he also had never met someone who saved him and had to give him money.

This was probably the “fate” that his Master had mentioned. Although from Xuan Qing’s perspective, this “fate” was more of an “ill-fated.” 

As Xuan Qing talked about his history, he looked dejected and let out a few more sighs. But as Lin Rufei was listening to him complain about it being trouble, he could also see from his eyes a faint hint of a smile. And he was even sure that he didn’t hate Bai Jinglun. 

Indeed, who would hate an interesting teenager like that? He just didn’t know how long it would take to burn all thirty sandalwood beads. 

Gold was indeed a good thing, but it was a pity that the monk’s life was too thin and shallow and he simply couldn’t hold onto it, ah. Xuan Qing shook his head and sighed once again.

“Master’s words are too much.” Lin Rufei laughed, “Now the beads have been burned three times?”

“Mnn.” Xuan Qing answered, “Unknowingly, they are not teenagers anymore.”

One had become an emperor governing over ten thousand people and the other had become a sword cultivator with a cultivation at the eighth level. Neither were ordinary mortals.

Lin Rufei asked, “Do monks drink?”

Xuan Qing responded, “Lin gongzi wants to buy me a drink?”

Lin Rufei laughed spontaneously, “It’s not like I want to give you money while you’re drunk, why are you so nervous?”

Xuan Qing blinked and laughed along, “Then there’s no harm in drinking a little.”

Lin Rufei then took out a pot of unopened wine from his dimensional ring and called the palace staff to bring two cups. Unfortunately, this wine, compared to the one that Gu Xuandu gave him, was as different as night and day. After drinking that wine, any other wine he tried was as bland as water. 

When Xuan Qing noticed Lin Rufei’s unfulfilled look, he asked him with a smile why he looked like this.

“It’s just that drinking this wine reminded me of a really good wine I’ve had before.” Lin Rufei answered, “After drinking that wine, I always felt that the other liquors were too bland in comparison.”

Xuan Qing was curious, “Oh, there is such good wine in the world?”

Lin Rufei then described it in detail but after Xuan Qing heard this description, he was silent for a moment and then whispered, “This monk seems to have also drunk it before.”

“Master has also drunk it?” Lin Rufei questioned curiously.

“Mnn.” Xuan Qing replied, “I have an old friend who is not a good cook but makes really delicious small pastries. And the most praiseworthy part of his craft is the art of making wine.” He took a sip and said gently, “Once you’ve had his wine, nothing else will ever catch your eye.”

“You guys must be very close.” Lin Rufei murmured.

“It was good.” Xuan Qing responded.

“Then where is he now?” Lin Rufei asked casually.

“Dead.” Xuan Qing responded in a slow voice.

Lin Rufei froze, then the atmosphere got awkward: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to……”

Xuan Qing waved his hand, indicating that it was okay, and stated plainly, “To ordinary people, life and death may be a taboo matter, but to a monk, life and death are as ordinary as eating and sleeping. It’s not something unspeakable.” 

Lin Rufei asked curiously, “Will Master be sad?”

Xuan Qing smiled and said, “Monks are not puppets, of course they will be sad.”

Lin Rufei then asked, “Then how is it the same as eating and sleeping?”

Xuan Qing replied seriously, “If Lin gongzi eats something disgusting, will he be sad?”

Speaking of unpalatable things, Lin Rufei immediately remembered the Chinese medicine boiled by Fu Hua and Yu Rui. His face instantly wrinkled into a ball and he couldn’t stop nodding his head in agreement: “Sad, indeed sad.”

Xuan Qing laughed out loud.

The two talked all night until the morning light shone through.

Xuan Qing called the palace staff to prepare the carriage and together with Lin Rufei, they left the palace. The two returned to the inn and casually ate something before each went off to their rooms to rest. Lin Rufei had stayed up all night, drank a lot of wine, but did not lose any sleep. He had slept until noon and then woke up in an unbalanced manner. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he told Fu Hua to send over some hangover soup. When he slowly walked downstairs, he saw Xuan Qing already sitting in the lobby eating lunch.

Lin Rufei sat down opposite him and asked with a headache, “Why is Master up so early?”

Xuan Qing smiled and said, “It’s probably because this monk’s wine consumption is better than the gongzi’s.”

Lin Rufei sighed.

Xuan Qing had a good appetite and happily ate the zhai meal in front of him. However, Lin Rufei had no appetite and only felt a splitting headache. When Xuan Qing saw this, he had no sympathy for him at all and instead kept on laughing, laughing to the point that Lin Rufei started to resent him. 

“By the way, I suddenly remembered, why do you have to put this off for a day?” Lin Rufei asked. He always had a feeling that Xuan Qing should have been able to solve the matter of the Third Princess yesterday.

Xuan Qing sighed: “Lin gongzi, you should know that most fathers actually love their daughters.”

Lin Rufei frowned.

Xuan Qing said, “But if you are an emperor, as a father, it isn’t as heavy.” 

Lin Rufei didn’t understand: “What does that mean?”

“Actually, the Third Princess is not that concubine’s actual daughter.” Xuan Qing whispered.

Lin Rufei froze, not expecting to hear a private imperial matter that he shouldn’t have known out of Xuan Qing’s mouth: “Could it be that……”

“Yes.” Xuan Qing responded, “Back then, the concubine had a difficult delivery and the child was actually lost as soon as it was born. But this matter, not many people knew about it, even the……concubine herself did not know.”

Lin Rufei asked, “Then the Third Princess is whose child?” A sudden thought popped into his head and he said incredulously, “The rabbit spirit’s?”

Xuan Qing said, “Smart.”

Lin Rufei was speechless for a moment, thinking that these imperial matters were really troublesome.

“You know, when rabbits give birth, they give birth in litters.” Xuan Qing stated, “That rabbit spirit gave birth to eleven little dolls……it didn’t seem too unacceptable to have one adopted by the father’s side. After all, eleven children without a father was really a headache.” It seemed like he had seen the scene himself as he revealed a miserable look.  

Lin Rufei also listened with astonishment. Although he had not raised a child before, the thought of a dozen little cubs crying together was absolutely horrifying. 

“It’s not easy for all of them.” Xuan Qing shook his head and continued.

Lin Rufei did not know what to say for a while so in the end, he picked up his chopsticks and ate some vegetarian food together with Xuan Qing. After the meal, he went back to the inn to catch up on his sleep and by the time he was called up by Fu Hua again, it was already dusk outside the window.

Fu Hua said that the carriage from the palace had been waiting outside for quite some time but Xuan Qing had asked them not to wake Lin Rufei in a hurry. Lin Rufei washed up, changed into his formal clothes, went out, and got into the carriage. And he saw Xuan Qing, who was sitting inside with his eyes closed as he recited scriptures.

“Let’s go.” When Xuan Qing noticed Lin Rufei coming on, he nodded to the guard sitting next to him.

The guard called out to the carriage driver and the carriage slowly moved towards the palace.

In the palace at this time, it was a completely different atmosphere and Xuan Qing asked the guard what had happened today during the day. The guard responded with a sad face; apparently, this morning the emperor was very angry during morning court and had harshly scolded a few ministers. At noon, he punished several concubines who had tried to make a move. And by this point, everyone now knew that the emperor was not in a good mood so they did not dare get into trouble.  

Xuan Qing asked: “There is nothing else?”

The guard replied, “What does Master mean?”

Xuan Qing answered, “His Holiness did not send anyone out to find someone?”

The guard laughed bitterly: “Master, don’t joke, naturally, he did. But if that person was willing to come over, His Holiness would not be so angry.”

Xuan Qing stated, “You have a point.”

The words spoken by the two people were very vague, but Lin Rufei guessed that the one they were talking about was probably the rabbit spirit who had given birth to more than a dozen children.

Soon, they finally arrived at the palace. After getting down from the carriage, before they even enter the study, they heard Bai Jinglun’s angry scolding voice coming from inside. Judging from the context, he should be scolding several of his children, and the voice didn’t stop until the people outside went in to report of their arrival. When Lin Rufei went in, he saw the calm and dignified Emperor of Dajing again.

In front of the emperor, five princes and princesses kneeled. It seemed that besides the third princess, everyone else was called over. Judging from their expressions, apparently, they have been scolded for quite a while and now all of them have a trembling face. The emperor coldly told them to go down. The few of them were finally pardoned and they hurriedly retreated out. And Bai Tianrui, when Bai Jinglun was reprimanding his children, had been sitting on the side drinking tea whilst enjoying the show. He didn’t have the slightest intention to persuade and based on his expression, it seemed that he really wanted Bai Jinglun to scold them a few more times. 

“Master Xuan Qing, Lin gongzi, please sit down.” Bai Jinglun waved his hand to indicate for the two to sit down and then he continued in a deep voice, “They are all disappointing things.”

Xuan Qing said, “Your Holiness, be careful of getting angry and hurting your body.”

“If I die, it will be because of my anger for them.” Bai Jinglun responded indifferently, “It’s all my fault for not ruling my family strictly and letting more gossips in the palace. I have wronged Moumou.” 

Xuan Qing sighed, but he did not say anything.

Bai Jinglun asked, “Is Master Xuan Qing ready?”

“Yes.” Xuan Qing answered, “But I still need Lin gongzi to help me.”

Lin Rufei wondered, “Me? What can I do to help?”

Xuan Qing smiled lightly and said, “Of course you can.”

Lin Rufei was not entirely sure, but after seeing Xuan Qing’s certainty, he did not question again.

Bai Jinglun said, “The princess is next door. Tianrui, you should also go and help Master Xuan Qing a little. I will not go over. When the princess wakes up…… let the palace staff come and notify me.” He sat down and drank a mouthful of hot tea. His eyes showed some tiredness, most likely he also had a sleepless night yesterday. 

Bai Tianrui nodded in response, then got up and took Lin Rufei and others to the room next door. The third princess in the room was still asleep and looked very peaceful, and they couldn’t even see the slightest trace of pain.

At this time, the sky was turning dark. However, the candlelight in the room made it look exactly like how it would be if it were in the daytime. Lin Rufei noticed that there were many candlesticks in the room and that they were all newly placed. Most likely Bai Jinglun deliberately placed them after he heard Xuan Qing’s description and was afraid that the dark shadow would harm the princess. 

Xuan Qing walked up to the princess and gently apologized for his upcoming actions. Then he helped the princess, who was lying on the bed up, and propped her against his shoulder. 

Bai Tianrui watched coldly from the side. Although he still had his usual smile on his face, this smile looked thin and cold. While Xuan Qing was moving, he said softly and slowly: “Master Xuan Qing, do you think it’s a good thing if the third princess wakes up?”

Xuan Qing didn’t understand, “What’s not good about it?”

Bai Tianrui said, “If she doesn’t wake up, my father still has some pity for her. If she wakes up, then it’s time to settle scores at an opportune moment.”

Xuan Qing raised his eyes to look at him, “What does the Prince mean by this?”

Bai Tianrui spread his hands and made an innocent gesture: “Isn’t that the truth? To tell the truth, last night at midnight, my brother sent me to Huangyan Mountain, and I also met with that person, but that person refused to come down.”

Xuan Qing pursed his lips slightly: “The princess has to wake up sooner or later.”

Bai Tianrui sighed and stopped talking. He waved his hand, indicating for Xuan Qing to continue and the thinness on his expression soon turned into annoyance.

Xuan Qing then let the princess lean on his shoulder and asked Lin Rufei to move the candelabra to the front of the princess so that the black shadow was presented behind her.

Then, Xuan Qing folded his hands and started chanting scriptures in a low voice. Lin Rufei had also dabbled in scriptures and heard the content of the scripture recited by Xuan Qing. It was the Kṣitigarbha Sutra, a kind of sutra usually used to transcend the spirits of the dead.

As Xuan Qing whispered, the black shadow behind the princess also began to change. It twisted and writhed uncontrollably, like a mass of living flesh and blood.

The princess, who had been sleeping, began to let out tiny moans from her mouth, and her closed eyes began to tremble uncontrollably. The change became more and more intense, as if the water had been heated and gradually started to boil. When it reached a critical point, the princess began to struggle and wriggle desperately. When Bai Tianrui noticed this, he hurriedly rushed forward to help hold her down. A layer of sweat surfaced on Xuan Qing’s forehead and he raised his hand to beckon to Lin Rufei.

Lin Rufei walked a few steps towards Xuan Qing and asked, “What do I have to do?”

Xuan Qing whispered, “Please Lin gongzi, put your hand into the black shadow.”

When Lin Rufei heard the words, he did as he was told and gently pressed his hand on the black shadow. But who knew that the black shadow was like a mire and it directly swallowed his hand into it. Xuan Qing, on the other hand, held Lin Rufei’s wrist to stop the black shadow from continuing to swallow and his mouth began to continue to recite the incantation again.

“Ah!!!!” The princess let out a harsh scream. Along with Xuan Qing’s movements, the black shadow was also making a horrible sound, like its flesh and skin were separating. Xuan Qing held Lin Rufei’s wrist tightly. Inch by inch, he pulled his hand out from the black shadow, and at the same time, the black shadow, attached to Lin Rufei’s hand, gradually separated from the princess’s shadow. This separation seemed to be very painful for the princess and she kept on hissing and screaming, as if she was being tortured. Finally, Bai Jinglun, who was waiting next door, also came over. Seeing this appearance of hers, Bai Jinglun could not help but take a few steps towards the side of the bed and carefully gathered her into his embrace. He gently coaxed: “Moumou, don’t be afraid, father is here, father is here……”

The princess desperately clutched onto Bai Jinglun’s lapel and cried her heart out.

Xuan Qing did not have the effort to look at this scene of natural love between parent and child. He was sweating profusely and finally after the two black shadows ripped apart, his lips had lost their color. The black shadow attached to Lin Rufei’s hand was just about to spread along his arm towards his body when suddenly, someone held onto Lin Rufei’s hand. A long-lost figure suddenly appeared before Lin Rufei. His face was as beautiful as when they had first met, with a pair of narrow phoenix eyes that carried a strong smile. The corners of his mouth were slightly hooked up into a smile and the tone of his voice was as gentle as the Spring breeze: “Xiao Jiu, it’s been a while.”

Lin Rufei responded softly in his heart: Senior, it’s been a while.

After a long time apart, Gu Xuandu finally appeared again.

********

The author has something to say:

Gu Xuandu: Long time no see, Xiao Jiu. Did you miss me, ah?

Lin Rufei points to the corner of his mouth.

Gu Xuandu: I still have some things so I’ll leave first.

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[1] Meaning ferocious, like a tiger and a wolf.

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