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Chapter 50: Visit
The wind blew past the leaves of the trees, making them rustle.
Kong Hou shoved the energy condensing pill into Huan Zhong’s mouth and sighed. “Huan Zhong, I hope you can understand that helping friends is natural. When you encounter trouble or something happens to your health, it is not difficult to ask for help from your friends.
“So go back and reflect on what you did incorrectly today. I am unilaterally announcing I will ignore you for twenty hours.” Kong Hou released her grip on Huan Zhong’s robe, turned and saw Lin Hu. “Elder Lin, are you going to cook? I will help you.”
Lin Hu: “…”
Why did he appear here?
Seeing Master silently hanging his head down, Lin Hu slowly said, “Miss Kong Hou, the fish have an odor, and there will be oil when the cooking starts.” So she should not follow him.
“No matter, just the smell of oil.” Kong Hou walked next to him and took away the vegetables he held in his other hand.
“Smoke and oil will cause a woman’s skin to turn sallow.” Lin Hu stared at Kong Hou who had a determined expression and spoke slowly.
“No… no problem, I have protective cream.” The basket Kong Hou held swayed slightly. She quickly became determined again. “Let’s go to the kitchen.”
Lin Hu turned and looked at Master who was standing in the corridor. It appeared Miss Kong Hou had great determination to ignore Master today. He was only a subordinate, and felt torn between the two of them. A man more than three hundred years old did not know to say good things to make a girl happy when she was unhappy.
Entering the kitchen, Lin Hu quickly showed off his knife skills, descaling and gutting the fish. He cut the flesh into pieces of similar sizes and thickness. He put in spices, washed the pot, and started the fire. Lin Hu did everything methodically. Kong Hou sat on the side on a small bench and felt that Lin Hu was great in this moment.
“Can Miss Kong Hou eat spicy food?” Lin Hu grabbed a handful of chili peppers.
“Yes.” After Kong Hou spoke, she saw Lin Hu put a large handful of chili peppers into the boiling oil. She hurriedly said, “Huan Zhong seems unable to tolerate spiciness. Can he eat if you put so much?”
Lin Hu slowly stirred the oil with a large ladle. Soon, a strong smell of chili oil spread. He said calmly, “Master has made Miss angry—why do you care if he can eat or not?”
“I am angry, but I will not slight him on food. I am a woman of principles.” Kong Hou coughed due to the chili oil fragrance. She stood and searched through Lin Hu’s pile of vegetables and meat. “Let me see if there is anything suitable to make for Huan Zhong to eat.”
Lin Hu watched the young girl crouching on the ground and picking out vegetables that were easy on the stomach, a smile appearing on his lips. He poured out a bit of the chili oil and then put the fish pieces into the pot.
With a competent Lin Hu present, the dishes were quickly finished. Spicy and oily fish pieces, fragrant fish head and fish bone soup, and several smaller dishes. Kong Hou helped Lin Hu carry the dishes to the table. Seeing Huan Zhong come in, she ignored him. She pushed the fish head and bone soup in front of him, and then started on the spicy fish pieces with a bowl of rice.
“Kong Hou…” Seeing a steaming bowl of fish head soup in front of him, Huan Zhong did not understand what Kong Hou meant. Lin Hu went out to buy fish, and only fish head and fish bone was left for him?
Kong Hou had said she would ignore him, so she did not say a word. She ate half of the bowl of spicy fish pieces. She wiped her mouth after eating and then left without looking at Huan Zhong. The pride and principles of a woman would not bow under the beauty and hurt of a man.
She was a woman of principles.
Huan Zhong had drunk less than a third of the fish head soup in front of him. He turned to look at Lin Hu. “What did Kong Hou say to you in the kitchen?”
“Master, I am an old person of six centuries; I cannot chat with a girl of sixteen or seventeen.” Lin Hu put down his chopsticks and said expressionlessly, “How about you ask Miss Kong Hou directly?”
Huan Zhong stared at Lin Hu for a while, his brow creased. He seemed slightly hurt. “But she does not want to pay attention to me.”
Lin Hu cleaned up the dishes on the table. “Master, while I am older than six hundred, I have no woman.”
Huan Zhong looked in puzzlement at him.
“So do not ask me any questions regarding women.” Lin Hu pointed at the fish soup in front of Huan Zhong. “Are you going to drink this?”
Huan Zhong shook his head.
Lin Hu put away the fish soup and handed everything to the servant waiting outside. He turned and said to Huan Zhong, “Master, in a while, I will inspect all the servants in the courtyard.” Kong Hou had told him what had occurred. He had not thought that Master, who had not used his sword in a long time, was able to kill in one stroke an evil cultivator with peak Mind Manifestation cultivation.
“I do not know if the assassinations by the evil cultivators are targeted towards disciples of all sects, or if they have specific targets.” Huan Zhong’s tone was low. “If it is just against the new disciples of sects with outstanding talent, it means that the evil cultivators have a strong enough intelligence network to know where those disciples are, and have ways of getting close to them.
On the journey here, they had not been low-key. The evil cultivator who wanted to kill Kong Hou must have searched for an opportunity since a long time ago.
Lin Hu found the corpse of the evil cultivator that the servants had carried to the darkroom. He found an energy concealing seal on the corpse. No wonder this person had been able to disguise himself as a servant and enter the inner yard while not letting Miss Kong Hou detect his presence. Other than the used energy concealing seal, Lin Hu also found several talismans giving off bloody energy on the corpse. He did not know how many lives were sacrificed in the making of these dark talismans.
After destroying the talismans, Lin Hu poured out the spirit stones in the storage bag and put them away. Evil cultivators were evil, but spirit stones were innocent. Donating them to poor towns was better than destroying them with the evil cultivator. Channeling his spirit energy, he cast a strong fire spell and burned the evil cultivator’s corpse away. Lin Hu turned and said to the servant by the door, “Sweep the ashes clean.”
Do not dirty the room.
On the streets of Harmonious City, newly joined disciples were leaving the mountain for a holiday for the first time. Some were in a hurry to shop and send things to their families, others were admiring the scenery on Harmonious City’s streets. Other people looked at the disciple robes they wore. They stood with their backs straight and tried to make themselves move more elegantly.
Gao Jian Yan and the others pulled Gui Ling to a restaurant to eat. After eating, they saw an old woman struggling to carry something. They asked the old woman where she lived, which turned out to be not far from the gates of the city. They decided to send her back.
The old woman repeated her thanks, praising Splendid Cloud Sect so much that these new disciples blushed hard and almost carried the old woman back home.
“My home is right there.” The old woman pointed at a wooden house nearby. The wooden house was short and worn, hidden at the base of the mountain. If she had not pointed it out, Gao Jian Yan would not have seen it.
“Ma’am, how can you live there alone? If it rains, and a mudslide occurs, it will be dangerous.” Gao Jian Yan supported the old woman. “How about I seek a new residence for you?” While he was from a wealthy family, he had a good heart. When he saw that the place where the old woman lived was so poor, he thought of his benevolent grandmother.
“No need, no need.” The old woman refused. “I’m afraid if I move, when I pass away, my husband will not be able to find me.”
Hearing the old woman converse with Gao Jian Yan, Gui Ling walked behind with his arms crossed. He glanced at the short wooden house with puzzlement in his eyes. This old woman had struggled to walk on Harmonious City’s flat streets. This building was at the base of the mountain, and there were no others living nearby. How did she climb up here by herself? Did they not say Splendid Cloud Sect were very good to the citizens under their rule? Why did they allow the old woman to live in a place like this? This place was close to the city gates. Even if someone did not report this, the disciples of Splendid Cloud Sect should have found this.
Something was amiss.
Gui Ling stopped walking and called Gao Jian Yan. “Gao Jian Yan, wait.”
“What is it?” Gao Jian Yan turned and looked at him. Thinking that Gui Ling was slightly irritated, he said, “Gui Ling Shidi, go to the teahouse and wait. I will find you soon.”
The other two members of the sect knew that Gui Ling did not like to involve himself in matters and nodded as well. “Do not go far. I heard Shixiong mention that there is a nearby teahouse with a good storyteller. Go there and wait for us.”
“We are about to reach my home. Young Transcendent, if you do not object, you can come to this old woman’s house to drink tea.” The old woman smiled. “This old woman is old, and it has been many years since I talked with young people like you.”
“We can talk, but we cannot drink tea,” Gui Ling said with a cold expression. “Since you like to interact with young people, why do you not move from the base of the mountain?”
“Young Man, do you… not like me?” The old woman’s smile gradually disappeared. She lowered her head and said, “This old woman is too chatty.”
A lonely old person, a pressuring youth. Anyone would think that Gui Ling’s words were too harsh and he had no kindness.
Gao Jian Yan and the other two people exchanged looks. Gao Jian Yan released the old woman’s hand and said to her, “Ma’am, my shidi does not have a good temper. We will go persuade him to apologize to you.”
“Yes, we have spoiled* Shidi* in the past.” The other two members of the sect put down what they held, turning and walking towards Gui Ling with ugly expressions.
Gui Ling smiled inside coldly. These people had benevolence but no brains. He did not know how these people completed the Immortality Questing Path.
“Shidi.” Gao Jian Yan reached out to pull Gui Ling’s arm. Gui Ling dodged him. The other two saw this and crowded towards him, the trio dragging and shoving him further away. Gui Ling looked back at the old woman. The other was staring at him with a smile.
Seeing this scene, his face darkened. But these other fellow members with height but no brains wanted him to apologize. He would not agree.
The old woman heard the slightly heavy young man shouting at Gui Ling for him to apologize. Gui Ling was not willing, turning and leaving. The trio went to pull him. In a short while, they were a while away.
“Is this far enough?” Gao Jian Yan who had been shouting at the top of his lungs said in a low voice, “Did she follow?”
“No, but she is looking at us,” one of the shidi said. “Just now, I saw her smiling at Gui Ling.”
“What are you dazing for? Quick!” Gao Jian Yan grabbed Gui Ling’s arm hard. “Run!”
Gui Ling did not react in time as Gao Jian Yan and the others pulled him to run in the direction of the city gates. He instinctively looked behind. The old woman who had previously struggled to walk was now running towards them. However, seeing them enter the city, the old woman glared at them and flew away.
“I’m frightened to death.” Gao Jian Yan leaned against the wall and panted. “Fortunately, we ran fast. Otherwise, that house would have been our burial site.” He turned and looked at Gui Ling, patting his shoulder. “Shidi, thankfully you were there today.”
Gui Ling snorted coldly. But his face was flushed and he panted from running. “Weren’t you all telling me to apologize to the old demon?”
“That was just playacting for her. We needed to get further away from her in order to flee.” Gao Jian Yan could not stand up any longer and sat down, leaning against the wall. Sweat dripped off his face. “That old woman looked pitiful, but our brother is more trustworthy. Even if you did something wrong, as long as you did not create negative consequences, we will sort you out behind closed doors. We will not embarrass you in public. Also, your head is usually better than ours. While your temper is stubborn, you will not squabble with an old woman who cannot even walk. So the one with the issue had to be her, and not you.”
“Yes, how could we not trust a fellow disciple but trust an outsider?” The other two people were also sitting on the ground. “No wonder the sect said that we should not leave the city with no reason. It appears the outside world is really dangerous.”
Gui Ling looked at the trio sitting without any elegance on the ground. He leaned against the wall and snorted again. “You all have a clear appraisal of your own minds.”
What brothers, so laughable.
The second morning during breakfast, Kong Hou still did not speak. She finished, putting down her chopsticks, and said to Lin Hu, “Elder Lin, I am going to meditate for a few days. Do not prepare my meals for these days.”
“All right.” Lin Hu nodded. He turned and looked at Huan Zhong. Huan Zhong turned and looked at Kong Hou.
Yet Kong Hou still did not converse with him, rising and leaving.
Huan Zhong stared in a daze at the empty door until Lin Hu started to clean up the table.
“Master, it has not been twenty hours yet. Miss Kong Hou will not speak to you.” Lin Hu could see that Miss Kong Hou was a young person of her word. She said she would ignore Master. Consequently, she would not say one word.
“But when she comes back out, it will have been over twenty hours.” Huan Zhong frowned and found this slightly unfair.
Lin Hu raised an eyebrow. He was not one of the participants. Master saying this to him was useless.
“Master, have you thought of why Miss Kong Hou is angry?” Lin Hu knew that Master was used to taking care of everything on his own. But one could not always act like this to a friend. “You are willing to pull out your sword for Miss Kong Hou. This means you are concerned about her—this is good. But you should think more. Your internal injury relapsed because you saved Miss Kong Hou, but you kept it a secret from her. What will Miss Kong Hou think?”
“I did not want her to worry—is this wrong?” Huan Zhong was puzzled. He would bear his own hardships and not worry others. What was wrong about that?
“If she truly thinks of you as a friend, when she discovers the truth, she will feel hurt, guilty and worried.” Lin Hu shook his head. “Master, your world should not be just the sword. It is your luck to encounter Miss Kong Hou, but not because she helped you find a rare medicine. She has gradually caused you to understand what it means to live, and not just be a cold sword.”
Huan Zhong became silent.
“Think, and understand. When Miss Kong Hou comes out, apologize to her,” Lin Hu said. “Otherwise, Miss Kong Hou’s time for ignoring you will not be twenty hours but ten days.”
“Really?” Huan Zhong’s expression finally changed.
“Master, if you do not believe me, you can try.” Lin Hu was in a good mood. “After ten days to a fortnight at most, Miss Kong Hou will forgive you. Young girls are soft-hearted. She does not even dislike sword cultivators like you who do not know how to talk or make friends.”
Huan Zhong thought for a long time and looked at Lin Hu. “Lin Hu, I feel that you have become more talkative recently.”
“Master, this is called being stained black when near pitch.” Lin Hu stood up. “I am going to practice the sword. Think well.”
For Huan Zhong, not talking for ten days to a fortnight to other people was a minor matter. But Kong Hou ignoring him for a night caused him to feel discomfort all over. Was it really being stained black… no, it was being stained red near cinnabar.
Lin Hu really did not know how to use phrases. What was bad about Kong Hou that he would use being stained black by pitch?
Harmonious Wind Study.
Harmonious Wind Study’s buildings were refined, the pavilions and towers within beautiful. Water flowed around the building in streams that tinkled. The cultivators did not live in cave residences but in towers. Flowers and trees grew together and caused Harmonious Wind Study to appear like a heavenly paradise.
An He had taken over the position as leader of Harmonious Wind Study for several years, and he already held authority in Harmonious Wind Study. But because his reputation as Master An He was so famed, the people of Yan City all liked to call him Master rather than Study Master.
Fortunately, An He did not object and let them do as they wished. As the time to the Hundred Flowers Festival grew close, all of Harmonious Wind Study was busy. Even An He, the study master, had no spare time and hadn’t had the time to cultivate in peace for several days.
“Eldest Shixiong, someone seems to have entered residence in the small courtyard on East Street.” An He’s shidi came in and saw An He resting with his eyes closed. “Eldest Shixiong, if you are tired, you could arrange a disciple to visit.”
“Is it that courtyard?” An He opened his eyes, his expression turning serious. Three hundred years ago, he became a disciple of Harmonious Wind Study. Because of his talent, the elders did not arrange for him to be in charge of affairs. In the first century, other than cultivation, he almost did not worry about anything else.
His one hundred and eightieth year, Master returned with serious injuries. He built a small courtyard on the best section of East Street upon his return and told him the owner of that courtyard was the person who had saved his life. Not long after that, Harmonious Wind Study joined Radiance Sect, but Master’s health worsened by the day.
He knew that Master had been wounded fundamentally that time. In the ensuing hundred years, he worked even harder on his cultivation. A few years ago, when he reached Mind Manifestation Stage, Master passed the position of study master to him. Five years ago, Master passed away. Before passing, Master told him if the owner of the small courtyard ever came, An He had to treat the other as an honored guest.
He had agreed. However, these several years, no one except some servants entered that small courtyard. He even started to suspect that Master’s benefactor had passed away a long time ago. Hearing Shidi say the owner of the courtyard had appeared, he was surprised.
“Prepare gifts. I will personally visit.” An He stood up. “This person is Master’s benefactor before his death, so we cannot slack off in the least.”
“Yes.” An He’s shidi saw An He’s serious attitude and responded. “Shixiong, will you get changed?”
“Go get my magic robe with lucky clouds. My coronet will be the newest style from Sky Sect.” An He thought for a moment. “Also, get that flying night shining white steed. We cannot be rude in front of our honored guests.”
Shidi wanted to speak but finally refrained. He felt that being dressed grandly and being polite were two different matters. But he knew Shixiong‘s addictions and left.
Flower Rain Street was beautiful. However, this street was not open to visitors so it was quiet. An He rode the Night Shining White on Flower Rain Street, his expression stern.
When he came to the gates of the courtyard, a disciple went forward to knock on the door. He waited for a long time, but no one came to the door.
“Study Master, maybe the owner is not here,” the disciple who had knocked said. “Maybe we should come tomorrow.”
“Knock again.” An He’s expression did not change. He had dressed especially for this visit today. If he did not see the other, what was the use in his effort?
“Yes.” The disciple saw An He’s grim expression and did not dare to speak. He continued to knock. No one answered the door.
“Study Master…” The disciple could not keep his expression. “There really doesn’t seem to be anyone.”
An He looked at the closed gates. His brow furrowed. He feared that this was not a case of the people being absent but rather of them ignoring him.
He bowed to the gates and said, “This one is An He of Harmonious Wind Study, and asks for an audience with the honored owner of this property.” He had Mind Manifestation cultivation. While his voice was not loud, his voice carried clearly into the courtyard.
A while later, footsteps sounded. The gates opened. A middle-aged man with an indifferent expression and dressed in blue robes stood behind the gates.
The middle-aged man looked at An He without any emotion. An He saw this person was also a Mind Manifestation cultivator. He jumped off the horse and bowed to the middle-aged man. “This one is An He, the new study master of Harmonious Wind Study. Please, Path Friend, are you the owner of this courtyard?”
“Yesterday, I was fortunate to see Study Master at the gates,” the middle-aged man said after returning the greeting. “However, I am not the owner. My master is the owner of this property. Does Study Master have any matters?”
Seeing the middle-aged man did not appear to desire for them to enter, An He explained, “In the past, this one’s master received a great favor from your honored master. In the years past, he never forgot the deed. Before death, he told this one to treat your master as an honored guest if this one encountered him. Please, Master, take pity on my master’s desire to repay the debt and let this one meet with him.”
“My master accepts Study Master’s heart, but he does not like to talk or see other people. Sir, please understand.” The middle-aged man added with a sigh, “The passing away of Spirit Master Wu Mi is a loss to the entire cultivation world. My condolences.”
An He grimaced. “Path Friend, thank you.”
The middle-aged man saw him like this and did not know what to say. He bowed and said, “Study Master, please leave.”
“Since Benefactor does not like to speak, this one will not disturb him. Path Friend, please allow me to enter to bow to him.” An He knew that many experts in the cultivation world had their eccentricities. This person was able to save his master, which meant his cultivation was not low. He did not want to disturb the other. But if he did not go visit the benefactor who came to Yan City, he feared his master would come into his dreams and scold him.
“Please, Study Master, wait for a moment. I will go ask my master.”
“Thank you, Path Friend.”
“Study Master is too polite.”
An He waited respectfully outside the gates for a while. When the middle-aged man appeared again, he bowed and said, “Does Benefactor allow me to enter?”
“Study Master, please.” The middle-aged man gestured with an arm.
“Thank you, Path Friend.” An He walked in. Seeing the middle-aged man walking silently at the front, he said, “What is Path Friend’s surname—how should this one call you?”
“This one’s surname is Lin, and people call me Old Lin.” The middle-aged man looked back at him. “If Study Master does not mind, you can call me Old Lin.”
“So it is Path Friend Lin.” An He bowed to him. His mind spun furiously, but no matter how he thought, he could not remember any Mind Manifestation cultivator with the surname Lin being someone else’s servant.
In the entire cultivation world, cultivators who reached Mind Manifestation were rare. Those with such cultivation became elders in the sect. That was better than being a servant.
“Study Master, my master is in the main hall.” Path Friend Lin stopped walking. “Please.”
An He climbed the stairs. When he saw the appearance of the man sitting at the front, he stopped.
He felt a wave of regret.
He should not have come here.
Why did the world have a man of such looks?
Translator Ramblings: Poor Huan Zhong. Given the cold treatment for the first time in his life.
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