Last chapter recap: Kong Hou and Huan Zhong do … camping.
This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 41: Gift Giving
“Shishu is in the company… of a female disciple of Splendid Cloud Sect.” The disciple’s voice weakened as he buried his head, not daring to meet the sect master’s eyes.
Song He, sitting at the side, saw Jin Yue reacting so greatly and said, “I’ve seen this Miss Kong Hou of Splendid Cloud Sect. Extremely talented, lively and easy-going, a very likable girl.” While she liked to secretly read storybooks, it was not a mistake as all young girls had some of their habits. “Shizhi is an aloof person and ignorant about the world. It is fortunate for him to travel with this girl.”
Jin Yue thought, a few days ago when Heng Yan had sent him a letter of thanks, he had thought the other was being polite, not that it was actually true. The disciples of Splendid Cloud Sect mostly were easy-going and free, so she would most likely be insulted when travelling with his apprentice. Thinking about Splendid Cloud Sect’s protectiveness, if Miss Kong Hou really was insulted by his apprentice, they would not give him any face.
Thinking it over, he immediately sent a message to Sky Sect’s shop in Yi City and had them send people to wait by the gates. When his apprentice entered the city, they would prepare for him some things that young girls liked. His apprentice did not have a likeable personality, so he could only use material things to gain favor.
After arranging all this, he prepared gifts for an apprentice of the sect to deliver in person to Splendid Cloud Sect to express to them his gratefulness. Hopefully, Splendid Cloud Sect would see his sincerity and not make a ruckus.
Huan Zhong, who did not know that his old master was worrying for him, took out a clean brush made out of forging seals. Sitting cross-legged on the ground with Kong Hou, he brushed oil on the mushrooms, uncaring that droplets of oil splashed onto his robes.
A rack had been built by the firewood. The fire had been banked and was waiting for the mountain mushrooms to go onto the rack.
“Huan Zhong, should we brush salt now or wait until they are almost done?” Kong Hou put the mushroom skewers onto the rack. The mushrooms hissed. Huan Zhong stared at the mountain mushrooms on the rack. After a moment of silence, he put the mushroom skewers in his hand on as well. “Both are possible.”
Soon, the mushrooms gave off a clean fragrance. Huan Zhong flipped the mushrooms and said to Kong Hou, “Kong Hou, there are two bottles of jade bee honey in the first drawer on the left inside the carriage. The second drawer has several of Talented Author’s storybooks—could you get them for me?”
“All right.” Kong Hou put the mushrooms that were almost burnt black into a basket beside her and walked towards the carriage. When she stepped in, Huan Zhong turned to look at Lin Hu. Lin Hu turned his head and pretended not to see his gaze.
Huan Zhong continued to stare silently at him.
Lin Hu turned his head. “Master, it is not good to lie to little girls.”
Huan Zhong bent his head and looked at the cooked mountain mushrooms in Lin Hu’s hands silently.
Under Huan Zhong’s pressuring gaze, Lin Hu silently traded the mountain mushrooms in his hands for Huan Zhong’s. Wiping away the oil on the back of his hand, Lin Hu sighed. The cultivation world was a great dye tank. The good master has also learned these shameless tactics.
Hearing footsteps coming from behind, the master and servant tacitly turned their eyes away. Huan Zhong picked up the brush to put more oil on the already cooked mountain mushrooms as though nothing had happened.
“Huan Zhong.” Kong Hou came in with the storybooks and jade bee honey. “So fragrant, Huan Zhong. You are done?”
“Yes.” Ignoring Lin Hu’s gaze, Huan Zhong took the jade and gently brushed it over the mountain mushrooms. “I’ve never done this before. If it is not good to eat, just spit it out.”
Kong Hou took the mountain mushrooms. After blowing on one, she shoved it into her mouth. Lin Hu who saw this from the side thought silently, this Miss Kong Hou is such a brave person for daring to put anything into her mouth.
“Delicious!” Kong Hou inhaled, burnt by the mushroom. “The fragrance of the honey and the tenderness of the mushrooms mixed together is delicious. Huan Zhong, you are amazing—you really know how to do everything!”
“As long as you like it.” Huan Zhong’s back stayed strong and he did not meet Lin Hu’s gaze.
“You and Elder Lin, taste this as well.” Kong Hou saw Huan Zhong and Lin Hu motionless and divided the mushrooms between them. “Do not waste them.”
After eating the roasted mushrooms, Huan Zhong took out a gourd bottle for Kong Hou to wash her hands. “Just eat little amounts of things like this. Do not eat too much; it is not good for your health. As for the remaining mountain mushrooms…” He looked towards Lin Hu. “Have Lin Hu fry them for you.”
Kong Hou was reluctant, but when she saw the oil splattered on Huan Zhong’s clothing, she felt that it was a crime that she made Huan Zhong accompany her to do things like this.
“All right.” Kong Hou nodded and looked around. “Could I look around the surroundings?”
“We are friends.” Huan Zhong stared at Kong Hou. “You do not have to be courteous with me.”
Seeing Huan Zhong’s serious gaze, Kong Hou stilled. “Oh.”
Seeing her dazed look, Huan Zhong stood and smiled at her. “Go.”
“Then I am gone.” As a young cultivator who had not seen much, Kong Hou had great interest in many things in the cultivation world. The golden house mimicked the layout of a palace, so there was an inner and outer hall. Exquisite lanterns hung down the eaves.
When Kong Hou had been young, she had her mother tell the story of an emperor and empress. The emperor and empress were childhood sweethearts, and the emperor said to the empress he would build the most beautiful and grandest gold palace for her.
She did not remember if the emperor fulfilled his promise in the end, she only remembered that her mother-empress had a dispirited look when she told this story. She had not understood back then. Now, looking back, she understood a little. Maybe the emperor did not fulfill his promise, so Mother-Empress had not told her the ending to the story.
The bells under the eaves chimed. Kong Hou suddenly became happy. She saw the golden and grand palace that the emperor had promised the empress. She picked up her dress and jumped onto the roof.
The wind on the roof was slightly strong. She looked into the distance towards the dark mountain valley. The golden palace under her was the only light in the darkness.
“Master.” Lin Hu looked at Huan Zhong who had changed clothing. “It is time for you to eat your medicine.”
Huan Zhong silently took the medicinal pills. After swallowing the pills, he suddenly said, “It would have been good if Kong Hou had not joined Splendid Cloud Sect.”
Lin Hu was shocked. What did Master mean?
“If she were my apprentice…” Huan Zhong stopped and imagined what it would have been like if he had raised Kong Hou from a young age.
“Master, Miss Kong Hou’s personality is not suitable for Radiance Sect,” Lin Hu said tactfully. “Do you not think so?” Radiance Sect had a bunch of cultivation maniacs. How could they raise a girl like Kong Hou? Only Splendid Cloud Sect could raise a girl with such a personality.
“That is true.” Huan Zhong coughed. “She is better off with Splendid Cloud Sect.”
“Huan Zhong! Huan Zhong!”
Kong Hou’s urgent voice came from the northeast. Huan Zhong flew onto the roof without thinking and then flew towards where Kong Hou was.
Kong Hou stood on the eaves. Seeing Huan Zhong come over, she went on her tiptoes and pointed into the distance. “Look over there.”
When Huan Zhong landed by Kong Hou, she grabbed his sleeve. He looked in the direction she pointed. Many blue dots flashed in the mountain valley, some of them even swaying with the wind. It looked like a galaxy of stars.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Kong Hou looked dazedly at the beautiful nighttime scene. “Just now, it had been completely black. When a gust of wind passed, so many stars came out—what is it?”
“This is Blue Silver Flower.” Huan Zhong’s throat was slightly dry. “It is said that the flowering time of this flower is even shorter than that of the Dutchman’s Pipe. They will only bloom for fifteen minutes. When they are not flowering, they are no different from ordinary weeds.”
It was said that the people who saw these flowers bloom would have good luck.
“No wonder they are so beautiful.” Kong Hou pulled Huan Zhong to sit down. “Then let us watch. If we don’t, they will be gone soon.”
The wind blew and carried away the petals of the Blue Silver Flowers. The entire mountain valley was so beautiful one could not move their gaze away. But in just a few moments, the dots of light started to disappear and turn back to darkness.
“Gone.” Kong Hou propped up her face, slightly saddened. “Beautiful things are always short-lived.”
“Do not care too much. Eternal beauty will not be treasured—only a brief time will be truly heart-shaking.” Huan Zhong stood and put a hand in front of Kong Hou. “The roof is cold; let’s go down.”
“All right.” Kong Hou obediently gave her hand to Huan Zhong and jumped with him off the roof.
Maybe because she saw extremely beautiful flowers in bloom, Kong Hou slept very well that night. In her dream, she seemed to have a pair of wings that glowed as she flew past the world.
When she opened her eyes, the sky was already light. Her morning porridge carried a faint flowery fragrance, the spirit energy so plentiful that her entire body felt relaxed.
“Elder Lin, today’s porridge is so good.” Kong Hou put down her bowl after finishing her fourth serving. “What was it made with?”
“The flower petals of the Blue Silver Flower. Last night, a lot of flower petals fell.” Lin Hu brought out a bag of flower petals. “Do you want them?”
What beauty, romance, good luck. In front of the delicious porridge, it all turned into two things: was it edible, was it delicious.
“Yes!” Kong Hou took the big bag of flower petals without any hesitation and shoved it into her storage ring. She decided she would send them to the shixiong and shijie in the Food Hall when she returned to Yi City and have them make food for the sect members.
Good things should be shared.
“I have a lot here—have one more.” Lin Hu saw Kong Hou’s happiness, and took out another bag.
“Thank you, Elder Lin.” Kong Hou asked for a few more bags from him. The sect had many people; she needed to get more flower petals to be enough for everyone to eat.
Seeing the two of them divide the dried flower petals evenly, Huan Zhong felt the astonishment and emotion of last night all turn into smoke. The Blue Silver Flower said to bring people good luck went into their stomachs. Good luck… all eaten.
Heng Yan, who received a great amount of gifts from Radiance Sect in the morning, was very puzzled. These years, they had a good relationship with Radiance Sect, but not good to the point that Radiance Sect would send them gifts for no reason. Any of these talismans, medicines, spirit stones, and magic robes would make countless cultivators crazy if they were put out in public. Yet Radiance Sect had sent over such a big pile.
Used to a gentlemanly and polite relationship with Radiance Sect, he felt extremely anxious that the other was suddenly so friendly.
He looked at the apprentice of Radiance Sect sitting before him and said with a smile, “Sect Master Jin Yue is so polite; I really cannot accept such gifts.”
“Sect Master, please do not refuse.” The apprentice respectfully bowed. “Our lowly sect master said these mere tokens are to express thanks for your noble sect’s Celestial Kong Hou’s care of our shishu on his journey.”
Heng Yan was still bewildered. What did their Kong Hou do? Just previously, Cool Breeze Sect had sent over a pile of gifts in thanks, and today, Radiance Sect was also delivering gifts?
Was gift giving in fashion right now?
Translator Ramblings: Radiance Sect is so happy their peak master is making friends.