Last chapter recap: Kong Hou and Huan Zhong encounters a black-robed woman.
This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 35: Love and Hate
“If she continues to throw up like this, will she die?” While Kong Hou felt that this female cultivator was slightly brainless and unlikable, Kong Hou did not want her to die. She moved close to Huan Zhong to avoid Jin Ling’s gaze and said in a small voice, “Huan Zhong, let’s go.”
It must be because she had pulled out the Vermillion Grass here and ruined the fengshui that they encountered such weird cultivators.
“All right.” Huan Zhong looked at the female cultivator in pink surrounded by the other male cultivators. He pulled Kong Hou and jumped out of the treehouse. With a wave of his hand, he put away the treehouse. “Since we have decided to travel and sightsee, how about you ride in the carriage with me? It is more comfortable than the flying sword.”
In the past, he had been too embarrassed to invite Kong Hou to sit with him. But since the two of them had slept under the same roof last night, Huan Zhong felt that his invitation would not be offensive.
“All right.” Kong Hou replied without thinking. When she had just reached Base Building, she felt that flying on the sword was fun. She had since lost that sense of novelty. It was good to ride in the carriage and save on spirit energy.
“Path Friends, please wait.” Zhou Xiao hurried over and bowed to the three. “Just now, we have offended you. Please forgive us.”
Huan Zhong ignored him. He took out a jade flute and blew into it. The whinneys of horses resounded from the forest. In the blink of an eye, two snowy-white horses appeared pulling the carriage and stopped in front of Huan Zhong.
Lin Hu patted the heads of the two horses. He took out two spirit grasses from his storage ring and gave each of the horses one.
Wind Grass? Zhou Xiao thought something was wrong with his eyes. Feeding expensive Wind Grass to horses? He blinked and watched as the horse’s mouth chewed down half of the spirit grass. He had to admit that was the Wind Grass sold for almost one hundred spirit stones apiece.
Huan Zhong got onto the carriage and turned back to give a hand to Kong Hou. “Kong Hou, come.”
Kong Hou gave her hand to Huan Zhong and jumped onto the carriage. Turning around, she saw Zhou Xiao standing dazedly by the side. He looked slightly pitiful so she smiled at him. “Farewell.”
“Fare-farewell.” Zhou Xiao looked at the young girl on the carriage smiling at him. Standing there dazedly, he suddenly felt that the snowy day had turned brighter.
“Shixiong.” Jin Ling came next to Zhou Xiao, a hand on her chest. “Who are these three cultivators?” Would they spread what had occurred today? She could not afford the embarrassment.
Zhou Xiao shook his head. “I don’t know. But cultivators who will feed Wind Grass to their horses will not be ordinary people.”
“Feeding the Wind Grass sold for one hundred spirit stones to horses?” Jin Ling thought that she had heard incorrectly. But she knew that the sect shixiong would not lie to her about this.
Thinking about the white-robed cultivator’s handsomeness, Jin Ling shook her head and sighed. Mother frequently said to her that women could use their beauty to make men run errands for her, to work for her. But she could not pick a man who did not know how to live prudently, no matter how good-looking he was.
Feeding such expensive Wind Grass to horses? This person’s mind was not good. What a pity for that beautiful face.
“Shimei, let’s hurry.” Seeing Jin Ling become silent, Zhou Xiao said, “Recently, evil cultivators have been committing crimes. Two days ago, in an inn in Mound City, an evil cultivator dug out the heart of the victim. Also, the victim was not an ordinary person but Clear Dawn Sect’s Celestial Ling Bo’s servant girl.
“Ling Bo?” Jin Ling snorted. “She qualifies to be called a celestial?”
She really thought she was a celestial because she had those servant girls carry her sedan and spread flowers? If she was really so good, then she should ascend. She was so spoiled, relying on her pentad spirit base. She had heard of it from a hundred miles away.
Zhou Xiao was silent. He knew that he could not speak at certain times. He looked around. Just now, those cultivators who were going to Kui City had left. He did not feel surprised. Many cultivators in the cultivation world would protect themselves. The Black Robe Woman appeared so suddenly. If she wanted to kill them, none of them were a match for her.
But the cultivation world had been peaceful for so many years. The sudden increase in killing by evil cultivators was not a good sign.
“The carriage is so wide, and it doesn’t shake at all.” Kong Hou sat on the heavily padded seat. She felt that the carriage she rode when she was a princess was so poor compared with this one.
Huan Zhong sat cross-legged on the cushion with a wooden table in front of him. An entire set of tea equipment was laid out on the table. He poured the tea into the cup, causing a faint circle of ripples that did not spill out of the cup. Kong Hou did not understand. Weren’t the horses moving on the mountain road—why was it so steady inside the carriage?
“Taste this.” Huan Zhong handed the teacup to Kong Hou. “Before dark, we will reach a small town called Three Trees.”
“Thank you.” Kong Hou took the teacup and smelled it. “So fragrant.”
“I am not skilled in this. People in my sect gave me the tea and the equipment. I make this to pass the time.” Huan Zhong lightly caressed the rim of the teacup, his handsome face hidden behind the steam like an immortal’s with no connection to the ordinary world.
Huan Zhong did not lie to Kong Hou. Ever since he joined Radiance Sect when he was nine, he spent almost all of his energy on cultivation. He did not like wine, tea, music or beauty. The only thing that accompanied him was his sword. If not for the accident in his cultivation, he would not be slowly travelling on the road like this, sightseeing and drinking tea, and even…
He looked at the young girl who was drinking tea, her movements still carrying the mannerism of an imperial family member. Ten years ago, he would never have thought that he would be in a carriage and aimlessly roaming around with a young sixteen-year-old girl along with Lin Hu.
“Fragrance that is not overpowering, spirit energy that doesn’t dissipate—good tea.” It may have just been her feeling, but Kong Hou felt the spirit energy in her Spirit Platform strengthen as well.
Huan Zhong continued to pour tea for Kong Hou and to chat with her. “Kong Hou has Base Building level five cultivation at sixteen—this is good, but you are still young. Your mental state is most important. Do not be in a hurry to advance; this will be of no benefit to you in the future. I heard you mention this morning that your cultivation has halted. This may be related to your mental state.” No matter how talented someone was, their experiences and knowledge would limit their cultivation. Talent could not make up for this.
If someone narrow-minded heard this, they would feel that Huan Zhong had malicious intentions or was trying to purposefully delay Huan Zhong. But Huan Zhong was not a person skilled at interacting with people. Most of the time, he acted according to his own wishes. When he felt that this was good for Kong Hou, he spoke directly, not even thinking that Kong Hou could misunderstand his intentions.
Outside the carriage, Lin Hu listened to the two converse. He worried greatly that Master’s way of speaking would cause him to quickly lose his first friend of a different gender.
Fortunately, Kong Hou thought simply and trusted Huan Zhong, so she did not suspect his intentions at all. She sighed and said, “Huan Zhong, why are your words the same as my shixiong and shijie’s?
“They always feel I spend too much effort on cultivation. Whenever I come out of seclusion, they worry that I am too tired. They will shove me full of food and drink, and emphasize that I should balance work and rest.” Kong Hou put down the teacup. She missed them, even though she had not left for long. She didn’t know if they liked what she had mailed back.
Lin Hu drove the carriage over a canyon. The horses’ hooves softly landed on the ground. They put away their wings and turned back to looking like ordinary horses as they galloped. He looked back towards the carriage. No one would find it strange that this would occur in Splendid Cloud Sect. If the shixiong and shijie of other sects did this, people would suspect whether they were jealous of their young shimei‘s talent. Whether they were trying to divert her mind and affect her cultivation.
It was strange to speak of. Many things that people would suspect when done at other sects had completely different meaning when done at Splendid Cloud Sect. From this, Splendid Cloud Sect could be called a wondrous sect.
“But I feel you are correct.” Kong Hou lifted the window curtain. Outside were beautiful snowy mountains. “After I was born, I lived in the palace. My only entertainment were two old and incomplete storybooks. The first time I saw the wonders of the outside world was the day I came to Lingyou World. These years, I spent all my time in the sect and have never seen this world.”
When speaking of this, she looked at Huan Zhong with a smile. “But I am lucky to have encountered you soon after leaving the mountain. Now, I don’t have to travel and eat alone.” She liked to be with people and not alone. Especially after Splendid Cloud Sect gave her warmth, she disliked being alone even more.
Huan Zhong shook his head and laughed softly. Maybe the lucky one was him and not her.
“You don’t believe me?” Kong Hou said. “I’m telling you, sincerity is one of my strengths.”
“I believe you. I just do not agree with your words—” Huan Zhong took out a plate of pastries from a drawer in the table and put it onto the table “—because I am the fortunate one.”
This little girl had exceptional luck. Luck was mysterious, intangible and invisible. But cultivators with good luck usually accomplished things with half the effort.
“All right, all right, we will not argue. We are both fortunate—this is karma.” Kong Hou saw Huan Zhong take out pastries and also took out a bag of pastries from her storage bag. The pastries were made into flower and animal shapes, adorable-looking when placed onto the table.
“This is something a sister from my sect’s food hall made especially for me. There are formations on the pastry bag, so that before I take the pastries out, they will be kept in their freshest state. So don’t worry about eating them—they are definitely fine.” Kong Hou introduced the different flavors in the different shapes. Then she put one into Huan Zhong’s hand. “Your tastes lean towards clean and light. You should like this one. This has spirit flower juice added, fragrant but not sweet. Try it.”
From the variety of pastries to the seal formations on the pastry bag, all of this showed how much effort Splendid Cloud Sect spent on food. No wonder people said that food and drink were best in Harmonious City. Even the leaders, Splendid Cloud Sect, was like this—how could their citizens be any different?
When he put the pastry in his hand into his mouth, a clear flower fragrance took over his entire mouth. The moment he swallowed, he felt as though he was surrounded by nature, and even his breathing became light.
“Is it delicious?” Kong Hou looked with anticipation at Huan Zhong, her face almost written with the words “praise my sect.”
“Very good.” Huan Zhong took out a pastry from the bag. “I’ve never eating this kind of pastry before.”
“Of course not.” Kong Hou felt that her sect was the best everywhere, and she could talk about it for ten days and nights. “Only disciples of my sect are able to get pastries like this; we do not provide this to the outside. But if you go to our sect as a guest, you will be able to eat lots of delicious food. Many dishes are not suitable for travel. Otherwise, I would want you to taste them now.
“How about I invite you to Splendid Cloud Mountain after we finish travelling?” Kong Hou felt that her idea was very good. “I will ask the sisters from Food Hall to make you good food every day.”
“All right,” Huan Zhong said. “I look forward to it.”
“You will definitely like it when you come.” Kong Hou moistened her throat. “When your sect’s Peak Master Song He came, he would eat three meals every day. I heard from the sisters at Food Hall that he was very happy to eat the pastries they delivered to his residence each day.”
Huan Zhong was slightly surprised. He hadn’t expected Song He Shishu to… put such importance on his appetite?
Coming down the mountain, they quickly reached Three Trees Town. Compared to Mound City, Three Trees Town was much smaller. The walls were old, and even the paint had fallen off the words “Three Trees Town” on the plaque.
It was near evening and not many people were on the streets. They were mostly ordinary people without any spirit base, and the occasional cultivator only had average cultivation.
When passing by a small alleyway, Kong Hou heard a child sobbing. She looked out. A child of three or four was on the ground with a stick of candied hawthorn in his hand. Maybe because he had run too fast, there were no adults around.
She was just preparing to get off the carriage to look at that child when a woman in black robes jumped out from behind the wall. She picked up the child from the ground and patted away the snow on his body, ignoring the mud and snow that stained her own robes.
It was Xue Yu, that strange female cultivator?
Crouched in front of the child, Xue Yu’s expression was gentle and lacking the viciousness she showed in the forest. Kong Hou saw her take out a small bell to comfort the crying child. She shook it in front of him until the child stopped crying and reached for the bell.
Xue Yu gave the bell to the child. Seeing the parents appear, she did not wait for them to thank her and turned to walk into the alley. After a few steps, she found Kong Hou sitting in the carriage.
She stilled, turned without hesitation and flew away.
Kong Hou who had been preparing to smile at Xue Yu stilled. She looked dumbly in the direction that Xue Yu flew in. She turned and said to Huan Zhong, who was drinking tea, “Huan Zhong, am I really so frightening?”
Huan Zhong glanced in the direction Xue Yu left in through the window and said calmly, “She is afraid of Lin Hu. You are an adorable little girl—how are you frightening?”
“That’s true. She is afraid that we will argue about what happened this morning. She also fears she cannot win against Lin Hu, so she fled.” When she thought of this, Kong Hou felt much better.
Who would accept a beautiful person running away when that person saw them?
So it was definitely not her problem.
“This Miss Xue Yu is so gentle to children.” Kong Hou did not want to call her the Black Robe Woman. A female cultivator who was so gentle to ordinary children should not be a bad person.
“She was originally a disciple of a sect. Then she met and fell in love with a nomad cultivator, so she left the sect and married him. She roamed the world with him.” When he said this, Huan Zhong paused. “But when husband and wife entered a secret realm, the nomad cultivator seemed to have something with a young female cultivator. When fighting over a treasure, he wanted to kill Xue Yu. Xue Yu managed to escape but lost her child. So she focused on her cultivation and then killed her husband. After that, she disliked young beautiful female cultivators. Her temper became more and more strange, so many people now call her the Black Robe Woman.”
Huan Zhong told Kong Hou this because he wanted her to know that male cultivators with good appearances and skillful mouths were not reliable. She was still young. She should not rashly fall in love. Some emotions could not stand the test of time.
In the storybooks Kong Hou read, Talented Author rarely mentioned romance, so she did not understand much about romance. Even if she read some storybooks involving romance, the ending was the two protagonists living together in happiness. There were no stories where the male protagonist betrayed the female protagonist and the female protagonist killed the male protagonist.
She thought only the people in the imperial palace would wear fake masks and feign civility with people they did not like. But Xue Yu and that nomad cultivator clearly came together because of love. Why did the nomad cultivator betray Xue Yu later on and wanted to kill her?
“I don’t understand.” Kong Hou’s tone was slightly dispirited. “Were they not a loving couple?”
Huan Zhong wanted to tell Kong Hou that people’s minds changed easily. Not many could maintain their original intent in front of self-interest and temptation. But looking at her bright eyes, Huan Zhong could not bear to say it.
She was still young, just a little girl.
He would wait until she was older to tell her this.
“Maybe this nomad cultivator was not good to start with.” Huan Zhong pointed at the pastries on the table. “What did you say the flavor of this horse-shaped pastry was?”
“He is not just bad—he is an animal!” Kong Hou cursed. “Pity for Miss Xue Yu.”
She drank a mouthful of tea to suppress her anger before she remembered that Huan Zhong had said something to her. “Huan Zhong, what did you say just now?”
“Nothing.” Huan Zhong saw that her temper seemed to have dissipated greatly and said, “I will have Lin Hu find an inn. We will spend a night.”
“All right.” Kong Hou took a few more drinks of tea. This tea could dissipate her anger.
“Lin Hu, to an inn.” Huan Zhong lifted the curtain and spoke to Lin Hu. “Find a quiet place.”
“All right, Master.” Lin Hu responded without turning his head. He feared if he turned around, Master would see the shock on his face. He really had not thought his master who was not good at words would start to comfort little girls.
Master had learned many things on this journey. Knowledge came with practice. An adorable young girl would cause a man to grow.
“Huan Zhong, there is something I keep on forgetting to ask.” Hearing they were going to rest at the inn, Kong Hou put away the things on the table. “You know I am sixteen, but I do not know how old you are.”
“I…” Huan Zhong’s hands stopped in the middle of removing the tea set. The wind outside the carriage seemed slightly cold.
Translator Ramblings: Kong Hou is the fox walking in front of the tiger, exploiting its might.