Last chapter recap: Kong Hou encounters a murder at the inn and encounters a grand-disciple.
This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 28: Hobbies
Kong Hou did not go back to sleep after returning to her room. She opened her window. Looking at he Mound City guards who surrounded the tower, she leaned against the window with one hand supporting her cheek and the other trying to catch the floating snowflakes.
A wagon slowly came from the east of the street and then stopped at the doorway of the inn.
A man dressed in brocade and with a snowy-white fox fur cloak came out of the wagon and met her eyes.
Huan Zhong took down the hood of his cloak. He smiled at Kong Hou. In this moment, plum flowers blooming or the sun rising in winter were not as beautiful as this. Kong Hou couldn’t help but smile at the other and wave.
“Master, someone died here; no one can live here.”
The black-robed middle-aged man returned to Huan Zhong’s side. “Master, why don’t we go to another inn?”
Huan Zhong looked at the young woman. “Miss, are you not going to switch to another inn?”
The black-robed man looked upwards and saw a girl leaning by the window, smiling as she met his master’s eyes. He looked at the young girl, and then at Huan Zhong with a slightly strange expression. When had Master gotten this habit of talking with people at such unequal heights during the winter?
“The news that someone died at an inn has most likely spread. Tonight, the other inns most likely will not accept any guests.” Kong Hou flew out of the window, and jumped in front of Huan Zhong. “The room beside mine is still empty. If Master Huan Zhong does not object to the bad energy of the inn, you can temporarily stay for a night and leave tomorrow morning.”
With someone with at least Core Formation cultivation being the carriage driver, this beautiful man called Huan Zhong definitely did not come from an ordinary family. A person like this most likely would not fear a corpse at the inn.
“Life and death are natural cycles. To me, there is no bad energy to speak of.” Huan Zhong smiled. “Thank you, Miss, for telling me. I will disturb you tonight.”
The guards by the door of the inn felt that something was wrong with Huan Zhong’s head. He knew that someone had died here, and still wanted to live here. While those that cultivated the path did not object to minor things, this one was taking so little care. Mound City had so many inns. Even if they were not willing to accept guests tonight, if these people spent some more money, there was nothing they could not accomplish. This handsome young master was dressed grandly and did not look poor. Why did he neglect himself so?
“Master Huan Zhong, your guard must have high cultivation?” Kong Hou smiled embarrassedly at Huan Zhong. “Could I ask you to do me a favor soon?”
The second rule of travelling outside was to beg people when needing their help, to have a thick face and an open mind.
“Hmm?” Huan Zhong looked at the black-robed man behind him. “His name is Lin Hu. If Miss needs anything, please speak.”
“Mister Lin Hu.” Kong Hou bowed to the black-robed man. “The people at the inn right now are alarmed. If a conflict occurs later, Mister, please help in calming them. My cultivation is low. If something occurs, I’m afraid I cannot stop them.”
The black-robed man looked at Huan Zhong.
Huan Zhong said, “Just a minor matter. When Miss needs, just inform me.”
Kong Hou sighed in relief and thanked Huan Zhong again. Right now, the people at the inn gave Splendid Cloud Sect and Clear Dawn Sect some face. They could endure for a while in the inn. But tomorrow morning, she could not predict how the situation would change.
The people at the inn were curious where this handsome young master came from. Then they saw Kong Hou speaking with this person. They seemed to know each other. The crowd stopped suspecting the identity of this person and allowed them to enter through the door.
When they saw that the cultivation of the guard behind the noble master was unfathomable, they had no more objections. No matter at what time, strong people would let people learn to be quiet and silent.
Du Jing was curious about Huan Zhong’s identity, but he did not want to go in front of Kong Hou and be her “grandson.” He sneaked to the doorway and asked the guards there what Kong Hou and the two unfamiliar men had been talking about.
The guard shook his head dazedly. “Young Mayor, when they were speaking, this subordinate only heard a hum and could not hear anything else.”
Hearing this, Du Jing immediately understood. A spell had been used to block other people from hearing. However, who had used that spell, the Grand-Shishu or the two unknown men?
The worker at the inn quickly cleaned out a room. However, the worker didn’t dare to linger, running down the stairs without turning his head back. A guest that knew someone had died at the inn but still dared to come in was one he couldn’t offend.
Kong Hou looked at the worker hurrying away and then looked at Lin Hu behind Huan Zhong. Was this guard that scary?
“Master Huan Zhong, please have a good rest. I will not disturb you.” Kong Hou thought and then warned, “According to my experience, they will start fighting tomorrow morning. By then, you will not be able to sleep even if you want to.”
Huan Zhong stilled. “I hadn’t expected Miss to understand these things so well.”
“Actually, I do not understand.” Kong Hou took out Talented Author’s storybook and was slightly embarrassed. “Talented Author’s storybook wrote of it. When the protagonist was staying at the inn, he was woken up by the sound of people fighting.”
After saying this, Kong Hou saw Huan Zhong’s gaze turn dazed. She thought that he had never read the storybook before and shoved the book at him. “You have not read this one yet; I will lend it to you.” It was rare she found another reader who also liked Talented Author. Kong Hou was very generous.
Normal people would not understand the feeling of someone else finally admiring something that they liked.
“Th-thank you.” Huan Zhong took the book. After a small pause, he gave a bright smile.
Seeing him so happy at getting one of Talented Author’s books, Kong Hou felt even more positive about Huan Zhong. Her original positive feelings came from the other’s appearance. Enhancing the good feelings was his admiration of Talented Author.
“No need to be polite. I have many of Talented Author’s books. If there is an opportunity, I will lend them to you.” Kong Hou saw the other cough a few times. “Rest early.”
She walked a few steps. When she got to her door, she said embarrassedly, “That… when you finish, you have to return it to me. I only have one of this book, no extras.” After saying this, her face was slightly flushed. One book was not worth much. It seemed ungenerous to emphasize to someone to return it. But there was only one of the book, and she could not bear it.
“Miss, do not worry. I will protect this book and not allow it to be damaged.” Fortunately, Huan Zhong was not a mean person. He didn’t become angry. He smiled even more gently, and carefully put the book in his sleeve.
Kong Hou exhaled, smiled at Huan Zhong and returned to her room.
When Huan Zhong returned to his room, he sat down by the table and flipped open the book. The book showed signs of having been read many times. The spine was worn away, but the pages had been protected well. The owner of the book had even written on some pages. However, the owner had written carefully and in small characters, as though she did not bear for ink to touch the words of the book.
“It seems she really likes the book.” Huan Zhong coughed, the back of his hand against his mouth. He had a smile on his pale face.
“Master.” Lin Hu took out a jade box and put it in front of Huan Zhong. “You should take your medicine.”
Huan Zhong took the jade box, took out the medicinal pill and swallowed it. He closed his eyes. He put away the jade box. He looked at the storybook on the table before silently retreating to a corner of the room to meditate.
When the sky was just turning light, Kong Hou was woken up by the sound of bowls and cups smashing downstairs. She got out of bed and cleaned up. When she opened the door, she coincidentally saw Huan Zhong come out of door of his room. She waved at him. When Huan Zhong walked close, she said excitedly in a low voice, “Look, look, look, they started downstairs. Isn’t Talented Author amazing?”
Huan Zhong looked at the young woman next to him. Her expression had three-fifths excitement and two-fifths smugness. It seemed that she shared in the pride of Talented Author having done something amazing.
“Yes, amazing,” Huan Zhong heard himself say.
The atmosphere downstairs was not good. One Core Formation and two Base Building cultivators sat at the same table. They stared at the servant girls of Clear Dawn Sect sitting in the corner, angry but not daring to speak.
They had matters to attend to. They had proven their innocence last night, and wanted to leave the inn. However, Clear Dawn Sect’s people did not let them. The mayor of Mound City felt that people not under suspicion could leave, but Clear Dawn Sect was so difficult to speak to. Based on the usual course of events, when a case involving a death occurred, the local mayor or the cultivation sect should be responsible. This was Mound City—why had Clear Dawn Sect overstepped its boundaries?
They just looked down on these nomad cultivators and the disciples of the smaller sects because their sect was powerful. This was within Splendid Cloud Sect’s jurisdiction, and the disciple of Splendid Cloud Sect had not postured like this.
Some people with bad tempers could not stop themselves from swearing and smashing a few dishes. But they swallowed all of their discontent when Ling Bo appeared.
Ling Bo’s gaze swept across the crowd, and then she sat down with a cold expression. The waiter hurriedly ran over and put out the tea, fruits, and breakfast. Then the waiter ran away as fast as the wind.
The servant girl used a jade cup for Ling Bo’s tea. Ling Bo took a sip and said, “I hear someone wants to leave?”
“Celestial Ling Bo, this one has important matters to attend to. Celestial, please let me leave first.” The Core Formation cultivator stood and bowed. He said, “This one is a member of Dragon Tiger Sect and has no grudge with your noble sect. How could this one have killed a servant girl of your noble sect?”
“Dragon Tiger Sect is an orthodox sect and naturally wouldn’t do something like that. But if I let you leave today, and not let others, wouldn’t I be unjust?” Ling Bo jerked the corners of her lips. “Path Friend, please endure these few days, and do not trouble this lowly woman.”
The Cultivator cultivator’s expression changed again and again. In the end, he did not dare to make a fuss.
“You bully people too much!” A cultivator of middle age slapped the table and stood. “Clear Dawn Sect, do not bully us too much. For each day you do not find the culprit, we cannot leave? So if you cannot find the culprit in a month, we will have to stay here for a month? Even if you are a disciple of a major sect, you cannot insult people like this!”
Ling Bo looked coldly at him. Suddenly, her hand moved like lightning. Before people saw how she attacked, that cultivator who had just slapped the table flew back to hit the wall. He hit the ground and spat out blood.
Everyone immediately became silent.
“What is this?” A young girl dressed in red came down the stairs. Her tone was light, as though she hadn’t detected the strange atmosphere downstairs. She walked into the middle of the crowd with a smile and looked at the cultivator on the ground. Her eyes blinked. “Ah, why is he spitting blood?”
She walked next to this cultivator and shoved a medicinal pill into his mouth. She helped him sit up and probed his meridians. After making sure he was in no fatal danger, she smiled and said to Ling Bo, “Celestial Ling Bo, you are up so early?”
“This one’s servant girl has been killed. How can I sleep?” Ling Bo saw Kong Hou help up the cultivator opposing her. She jerked her lips and forced a smile. “Celestial Kong Hou, have you slept well last night?”
“Celestial, thank you for a concern. I slept all right.” Kong Hou smiled innocently as though she did not know that Ling Bo was unhappy. She walked to sit at an empty table before turning and smiling towards the upstairs.
Ling Bo looked towards the stairs and found a handsome man dressed in white standing on the stairs. His expression was aloof, as though nothing in the world was his concern. All the noise and argument around him could not affect him at all.
“The wind cannot blow here—sit here.” Kong Hou waved to the man.
Therefore, Ling Bo saw this man finally show a smile, like white snow suddenly being dyed with smoke and becoming alive. She moved her gaze away. When had this man appeared? Last night, no one like this had shown up.
When Huan Zhong and Lin Hu appeared, the waiter set up the dishes and breakfast at the fastest possible speed and then disappeared at the fastest possible speed.
The inn was a relatively expensive one, and their prepared breakfast was both rich and well-done. Kong Hou had reached Base Building but still had the habit of eating. Seeing breakfast on the table, she picked up her chopsticks and started eating without thinking.
Seeing Kong Hou pick up her chopsticks, Huan Zhong also picked up a crystal dumpling and placed it in his bowl to taste. The flavor wasn’t very good yet not bad either. But maybe because the young girl sitting opposite him was eating with great enthusiasm, he also had an appetite and ate two bites before putting down his chopsticks.
Lin Hu poured a cup of water for him. He drank two mouthfuls and put the cup down. He silently watched Kong Hou eat. In truth, they were the only table in the hall who had the mind to eat.
“Celestial Kong Hou, your friend looks unfamiliar.” Ling Bo saw Kong Hou finish eating and then spoke. “Where was this young master when my servant girl was killed last night?”
When she finished speaking, Ling Bo found the man next to Kong Hou looked towards her.
That pair of eyes was cold and clear, emotionless like the snow outside, seemingly pure and white, but without any warmth.
This seemed a sickly man, but Ling Bo felt a wave of coldness rise inside, making her heart tremble.
“Last night, when the crime occurred, my friend was not present—” Kong Hou saw that Huan Zhong did not like to talk and answered herself “—so this matter has nothing to do with him.” She thought that Ling Bo would continue asking. But the other only nodded after hearing her explanation and did not speak further.
Translator Ramblings: We are detouring into a murder mystery from a fantasy story.