This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 61: Informant
While puzzled inside, Cheng Yi still maintained the reliable disposition of the eldest apprentice of Splendid Cloud Sect’s Moon Perching Peak in front of outsiders. Even though Splendid Cloud Sect’s reputation did not have much to do with reliability.
“Path Friend Huan Zhong, you woke up so early?” Cheng Yi walked in front of Kong Hou and put the tray into her hands. “Here, the breakfast you wanted.”
“Thank you, Eldest Shixiong.” Kong Hou held the tray and smiled at Cheng Yi. Huan Zhong pulled back the spirit fruits he was holding out. Kong Hou grabbed the tray.
“I will help you carry this.” Huan Zhong glanced at the tray in her hands. “Careful not to spill your breakfast.”
“I prepared two meals. Path Friend Huan Zhong, eat with Kong Hou.” Cheng Yi looked at the rare spirit fruits in Huan Zhong’s bowl. He did not want Radiance Sect’s disciples to feel that they were so frugal to not even invite him to a meal.
But he had originally prepared to eat breakfast with Kong Hou. Now, he could only give this opportunity to Huan Zhong.
“Thank you, Path Friend; then this one will accept.” Huan Zhong did not even try to refuse and accepted straightforwardly.
“You are welcome.” Cheng Yi maintained his smile, unaffected inside.
“Eldest Shixiong, come with us,” Kong Hou said. “There are pastries and fruits, and the breakfast you made is enough for the three of us.” Kong Hou turned and opened the door for Huan Zhong and Cheng Yi to enter. “Do not stand in the doorway. Otherwise, people will think there are flowers there.”
There were no flowers at the door, but there had been boundaries. Cheng Yi walked to sit at the table. He lifted the cover off the tray. Inside was a jar of meat porridge, a plate of steamed dumplings and some small dishes of vegetables.
He divided the porridge into three bowls. Cheng Yi asked Kong Hou, “Did you sleep well last night?”
Kong Hou nodded and took a sip of the porridge.
Cheng Yi’s and Huan Zhong’s eyes met. Huan Zhong nodded towards Cheng Yi. Cheng Yi returned a polite smile to Huan Zhong. The two unacquainted men sat facing each other. The silent atmosphere was slightly awkward.
“Kong Hou, just now I saw boundaries outside your room and took them down. Apologies, I was slightly rude to do this,” Huan Zhong said apologetically to Kong Hou. “I forgot that this is not like when we were living together.”
“Boundaries?” Kong Hou wiped her mouth with a handkerchief and asked Cheng Yi, “Shixiong, you set them up?”
“This is not Splendid Cloud Mountain, so I put up some defensive boundaries outside the door.” Cheng Yi had guessed Huan Zhong was the one who destroyed the boundaries, but he thought that a disciple of Radiance Sect could not do something like that. He really had not imagined the other could really do this.
“You may not desire to harm others, but you have to be on guard against others. Even if this is our subordinate sect, it is correct to have some caution.” Cheng Yi thought and added, “If you do not like it, I will not put up boundaries tonight.”
“Shixiong, you are still so detail-oriented.” Kong Hou hurriedly said, “I do not dislike them.”
The three finished eating. Cheng Yi saw Huan Zhong sitting without any intentions of leaving. Thinking that what he was going to say was not any sect secrets, he spoke. “Recently, the cultivation world is really not peaceful. You have had a breakthrough in your cultivation. After this matter, how about returning to Splendid Cloud Mountain with me?”
Kong Hou paused slightly while biting into a spirit fruit. She looked at Huan Zhong. Huan Zhong’s face was lowered and expressionless.
“After you left, Master and the shishu all missed you. Even Qing Yuan Shishu asked me several times when you will return.” Cheng Yi had not wanted to call Kong Hou back so early. However, the cultivation world was not peaceful recently and he worried.
“Shixiong, I know this is for my own good, but I do not want to return right now.” Kong Hou put down the spirit fruit. “Please, Shixiong, tell the elders not to worry about me.”
Cheng Yi looked worriedly at Kong Hou. Was Shimei unwilling to return because she had read too many storybooks and suddenly had the desire to save the cultivation world by fighting the evil cultivators? Thinking about those nonsense storybooks, Cheng Yi felt that Shimei would not be so immature but also worried she was affected by the storybooks.
Under the premise of not harming the sect, the elders of Splendid Cloud Sect did not like to make things difficult for their juniors. Hearing Kong Hou’s refusal, while Cheng Yi was still puzzled and worried, he did not insist on her return. He sighed and said, “It is all right if you do not want to return right now. But you have to pay attention to your safety. Do not be impulsive if you encounter bad people. Make sure if they have helpers or not, if you can win or not, before you attack.”
“Shixiong, do not worry. I know.”
“Did you finish reading the travel guide?”
Kong Hou continued to nod. “I memorized all of it. I won’t forget a line.”
“There is no use in memorizing; you have to combine learning with usage.” Cheng Yi took out the seals and talismans in his storage ring. “The elders and peak masters gave them to me before I left. They said if I encounter you in Feng City, I should transfer them to you.”
“So many?” Kong Hou swept everything on the table towards her storage ring as she asked about how the shishu were doing.
“They are all good. But Qing Yuan Shishu and Master still argue. Before I left, they sparred and destroyed several talismans of Five Elements Hall. Heng Yan Shibo was angry and fined Shishu and Master several decades of their allowance.” Cheng Yi knew that his master was very poor, and how bad his affinity with wealth was. Previously, due to Zhou Xing’s incident in Harmonious City, Zhou Cang had given Splendid Cloud Sect many things as compensation. Master took the opportunity and paid half of his debts. He finally managed to not be in a state of poverty, but then he caused trouble again. He clearly was fated to a life without wealth.
“Master and Qing Yuan Shishu have fought so many years—they haven’t stopped yet?” Kong Hou muttered. When she remembered Huan Zhong was present, in order to leave her elders some face, she did not continue.
Cheng Yi coughed. Looking at how casual Shimei was in front of Huan Zhong, he could see the two had a good friendship. He turned to look at Huan Zhong. As expected, the other had his usual expression, as though he had not heard a thing. In fact, ever since he first saw Huan Zhong, he never saw the other change expression.
“I have already checked with the pavilion master of Auspicious Pavilion. We have not yet found where the evil cultivators have infiltrated. Shimei, you came here to ask Auspicious Pavilion to investigate this matter?” Cheng Yi knew Kong Hou’s personality. She would not go find trouble, but she would not watch and stand by as bad things happened.
“Yes.” Kong Hou nodded. “On the way here, I encountered several evil cultivators with malicious intentions. Most of them have ordinary cultivation. They like to instigate conflicts between cultivators.”
“To get a tall building to collapse, one has to make it rot from inside. The evil cultivators have great ambitions.” Cheng Yi saw Shimei‘s serious expression and urged with a smile, “Do not worry too much. With large sects such as Radiance Sect, Clear Dawn Sect and Nine Phoenix Sect present, nothing will happen to the cultivation world.”
After indirectly complimenting Radiance Sect in front of Huan Zhong, Cheng Yi said, “After this, I will accompany the pavilion master to strengthen Auspicious Pavilion’s defensive formation. If you are bored, take a look around Feng City. We have not seen each other for many days—stay a bit longer in Feng City before leaving?”
“All right.” Kong Hou already felt guilty refusing Cheng Yi’s suggestion of returning to the sect. Now that Cheng Yi wanted her to stay in Feng City for a few more days, she did not bear to refuse him.
Knowing that Cheng Yi had business to attend to, Kong Hou took Huan Zhong to tour Feng City.
Feng City did not occupy a large area, but the entire city was well managed, the people happy in their lives. Foreign cultivators abided by Feng City’s rules and did not break the rules. The biggest problem was the old people on the streets with youthful appearances who called themselves “master diviners.” They pulled the passersby for readings.
“Master, Miss, please wait a moment.” A thin old man dressed in blue robes holding a banner called Kong Hou and Huan Zhong. “You are not locals of Feng City?”
“How do you know?” Kong Hou looked wryly at the “Half Immortal Hu” on the divination banner. This fake fortune-teller had great bravery.
“I am a famed-fortune teller of Feng City. While I cannot recognize everyone in the city, if I had seen someone like you two, I would not have forgotten your faces.” Half Immortal Hu said, “But I saw you today for the first time, so you are not locals.”
“I thought you divined it.” Kong Hou saw Half Immortal Hu brushing his beard and couldn’t help but look at the goatee.
“This old man is limited in ability and cannot divine Miss’ fortune with a glance,” Half Immortal Hu said seriously. “If people really say this, only a rare few are true experts, and the majority are frauds.”
“Then what do you need for a reading?” Kong Hou asked.
Half Immortal Hu looked seriously at them for a long time and suddenly shook his head. “I cannot divine your fates.”
“Why not?” Kong Hou asked.
“A lone dragon will cry in sorrow, a lone phoenix will cry blood, dragon and phoenix together is good fortune. You two have such noble fates this old man cannot divine them.” Half Immortal Hu’s expression was shocked. He continued to praise Kong Hou and Huan Zhong’s fates, but in reality, did not divine much.
This “Half Immortal Hu” was so overboard in his compliments that Kong Hou blushed. She shoved a handful of jade coins to him and then pulled Huan Zhong’s sleeve to leave. This was not a reading; this was another way of complimenting people.
Passing by a bookstore, Kong Hou walked into the store. “Owner, has Talented Author released any new books recently?”
“Talented Author, who is that?” The bookstore owner thought back on the popular storybooks of the recent few years; none of them seemed to have an author called Talented Author.
“The author of ‘Records of Wind and Rain’, ‘The True Story of Sword Cultivators’ and ‘Records of Seeking Immortality.’ ” Kong Hou saw the owner did not know Talented Author’s name and was sure the store did not have Talented Author’s new books.
“You mean him.” Hearing the names of these storybooks, the bookstore owner knew who the author was. He took out a book from a shelf in the corner. “This is the last book delivered here; no new ones.”
Kong Hou took a look. She had bought this set of books before leaving Harmonious City. “There are no new releases after this one?”
“No.” The bookstore owner shook his head. “No new books have been delivered in these months. I fear the author has stopped writing.” This person spent money to deliver books to their bookstores to sell; this person most likely knew their books were not popular so they gave up.
“I understand. Thank you, Owner.” Kong Hou handed the book back to the bookstore owner. She was used to coming to the bookstore to buy Talented Author’s new books. Learning that he might not write anymore, she felt dejected.
Walking out of the bookstore, Kong Hou kicked at the pebbles on the street. “Huan Zhong, has Talented Author really stopped writing?”
Huan Zhong looked at the pebbles that Kong Hou had kicked and remained silent.
“Maybe he has been delayed by matters and temporarily cannot write.” Kong Hou did not dare to think of the other possibility. If Talented Author was a mortal, he was now old, his eyes blind, and he could not write any longer, or he had already…
She shook her head and shoved that kind of thought out of her mind. Kong Hou rubbed her chin and said, “Huan Zhong, do you think the disciples of Auspicious Pavilion could divine when Talented Author will release new storybooks?”
Huan Zhong: “…”
“Or rather, I will have them help divine where I can find Talented Author.” Kong Hou seriously considered this possibility. “Maybe I will learn who he is.”
“Just a storywriter—why do you have to know who he is?” Huan Zhong said. “If he is an ugly person, would it not damage the good fate between you?”
“Hmm?” Kong Hou asked. “How so?”
“He writes books, but no one appreciates them. You like reading books, and you also admire his works—this is a kind of fate between you. This fate is good at this point. If you demand more, it might not be beautiful.” Huan Zhong looked at Kong Hou. “Any fate that leaves something to the imagination is perfect.”
“You are right.” Kong Hou nodded and then said with a smile, “It seems that you like Talented Author very much to say so many good things for him.” Usually, Huan Zhong would not say an extra word about people unrelated to him.
Huan Zhong looked at her and became silent again.
The two walked around Feng City and saw the customs of Feng City. On the way back, they saw that Half Immortal Hu speaking to a non-local couple.
“You have the auspicious fates of the dragon and phoenix; the husband makes the wife prosperous, the wife makes the husband prosperous…”
Seeing the couple take out a spirit stone to give to Half Immortal Hu, Kong Hou said in a quiet voice to Huan Zhong, “This Half Immortal Hu knows nothing else to say except dragon and phoenix’s auspicious fate?”
He told her and Huan Zhong they had the fates of dragon and phoenix, and told another man and woman they also had the good fortune of dragon and phoenix. The fates of dragons and phoenixes were too worthless.
Huan Zhong’s gaze landed on that young couple. Half Immortal Hu’s words most likely pleased them, and the man gave several more spirit stones to Half Immortal Hu.
This man that looked like a noble and idle young master sensitively noticed Huan Zhong’s gaze. He turned and met Huan Zhong’s gaze, his expression thoughtful.
Huan Zhong nodded slightly at him and then looked away.
Seeing the white-robed man and beautiful woman walk away, Ji Xuan said to the woman beside him, “Ru Min, don’t you feel the man just now looks familiar?”
“You mean that exceptionally handsome young master dressed in white?” The woman called Ru Min gazed in the direction the pair left in. That couple was so outstanding in appearance, they seemed to shine among the crowd. “Your Highness knows this person?”
“Maybe I was mistaken.” The man slowly shook his head. Anyone who knew him would not look at him so coldly. While the Imperial House of the cultivation world could not compare in status to the ten major sects, because they were the sons of the dragon as recognized by the path, they had an unique status in Lingyou World. Even the sect masters of the major sects would be polite when interacting with the imperial family.
“People are varied, but it is not strange for some to look similar. If he did not have some similarity to Your Highness in his brow, I would not have noticed him.” Ru Min put her hand in the man’s hand and smiled gently at him.
Men had to be coddled sometimes, especially when a man better looking than them appeared.
This time, they had come to ask the master of Auspicious Pavilion for a reading. They could not have an argument because of a good-looking man.
“Really?” The man touched the corner of his eye. No wonder he felt that man was familiar. It was because they looked similar. Rather, that man had many similarities to the portraits of many ancestors in the temple.
However… in the historical portraits of the Chu Family, none were as good-looking as that man.
At this time in a certain sect, someone was excited due to a great secret.
“The Forebear really mentioned in his records that Splendid Cloud Sect had merpeople scales?” The man on the main seat had a square face, a tall nose. He looked both dignified and just.
“I am sure, and the forebear’s memories also mentioned it. The memories said the founder of Splendid Cloud Sect once encountered merpeople along the sea and became friends with them. The merpeople gifted him some scales.”
“I remember last year, the master of Radiance Sect personally sent messages to all the sects asking about rare medicine ingredients. One of them was this merpeople scale?” The sect master’s dignified face now had an expression of Schadenfreude. “If Jin Yue knew that Heng Yan has merpeople scales but was unwilling to give them to him, would the relationship between Splendid Cloud Sect and Radiance Sect turn sour?”
“Sect Master, will this be too much?” one of the other people said anxiously. “The evil cultivators are restless. If Radiance Sect and Splendid Cloud Sect have a rift, what happens if the evil cultivators take the advantage and invade?”
“This… ” The square-faced sect master was conflicted inside and hesitant. He would feel so dispirited if he did not even use this opportunity to sow discord. If he did, he feared the evil cultivators would come in and cause chaos. If he did not do it, he was afraid his mental demons would ruin his mental state.
All right, Radiance Sect was so strong, they would not let the evil cultivators take advantage. He would go sow discord; otherwise, he would not be at peace.
“Copy down how Splendid Cloud Sect obtained the merpeople scales, and then arrange for a disciple they are unfamiliar with to send this to Radiance Sect. Remember to go to another post office somewhere else; do not let anyone recognize his identity.” There were no ties between brothers that couldn’t be broken, only sect masters who did not work hard. He would have his sect enter the top ten.
Within the top ten, Splendid Cloud Sect’s most unique trait was how harmonious and united their disciples were. They had friendly ties with the other major sects. Due to this, Splendid Cloud Sect managed to remain standing in the cultivation world all these years.
If they lost these advantages, Splendid Cloud Sect would be a toothless tiger.
They could not blame him for attacking Splendid Cloud Sect. Who made it that Splendid Cloud Sect looked the easiest to defeat among the ten major sects?
Two days later, a bag carrying the hope of a certain sect for entering the top ten reached Jin Yue’s hands by flying sword messenger. Jin Yue thought that this was local produce his apprentice had mailed him. But he opened the packaging and found an exquisite brocade box. Inside was a piece of paper with some phrases written on it.
“Spirit Master Ying Chen became good friends with mer, Ying gifted the other cultivation manuals, the mer gifted scales in return…”
Translator Ramblings: I’m not sure how the government works here … there’s a monarch/imperial family, but then the sects seems pretty independent, so they aren’t subordinate. Or maybe the imperial family just has jurisdiction over mortals in the cultivation world?