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Chapter 73: Gentle and Powerful
Kong Hou’s fingers stilled. She looked dazedly at the red-robed Huan Zhong for a while. “Huan Zhong?”
“Kong Hou, are you all right?” The red-robed Huan Zhong put Dragon Roar back into its sheath and quickly walked towards Kong Hou. He stopped three paces away from her. “Do not be afraid, I am not an illusory yao.”
Used to Huan Zhong wearing white robes, Kong Hou’s first reaction to seeing a red-robed Huan Zhong was not suspicion but shock. White robes, red robes, and the surrounding fog caused the man in front of her to look like an incubus who could steal the souls of women.
The person before her was wearing clothing completely different than usual, but Kong Hou felt a feeling of comfort from him. She put away Phoenix Head. Kong Hou pushed the phoenix head hairpin back into her hair and walked towards Huan Zhong.
“Do not move,” Huan Zhong said. “Each rock here, each blade of grass, may be a formation of the secret realm. If it is activated, you may be transported to a different place.” As he spoke, he stepped in a strange manner as he walked towards Kong Hou and then tightly gripped her hand.
Kong Hou untield the silver ribbon from her wrist and tied her and Huan Zhong’s wrists together. She smiled smugly. “Now we will not be separated.”
“Yes…” Huan Zhong looked down at their bound wrists and then clasped her fingers. “Those two misses should have been transported to different places. Let’s first leave this misted woods.”
“All right.” Kong Hou secretly rubbed Huan Zhong’s fingers. The same warm feeling—yes, this was Huan Zhong.
Walking in the front, Huan Zhong’s ears were red as he tried to ignore Kong Hou’s small movements.
Was Kong Hou playing the tickling game with him?
“Huan Zhong, why did you suddenly change clothing?” Kong Hou looked at Huan Zhong with bright eyes. “It is very good-looking.”
“White clothing is easily dirtied.” Huan Zhong suddenly lifted Kong Hou up and moved two steps back towards the left. Kong Hou looked back at where they had dodged. There had been a large rock there which now became a tree.
“So risky.” Kong Hou patted her chest. “Huan Zhong, were you afraid I could not see you in the mist so you changed into red robes?”
“No.” Huan Zhong released Kong Hou’s waist, turned his face aside and said, “I just took out a random robe.”
“Oh.” While she did not believe it, she answered affirmatively. Men would be awkward sometimes, she understood. This robe was much more fancy than what Huan Zhong usually wore. It had flowing formations and patterns, and was also embroidered with precious stones. Other than glittering with precious stones, there was no other way of describing this robe.
But such a gaudy robe on Huan Zhong still seemed ethereal.
“Tread north a step.”
Kong Hou followed and moved left. A scream came from the thick fog behind them, mixed with female sobs.
“Do not look back.” Huan Zhong tightened his grip on Kong Hou’s hand. “Tread east three steps.”
The sobs became stronger. Kong Hou gritted her teeth and suppressed the urge to turn back. She obeyed Huan Zhong’s directions. Huan Zhong would not lie to her. She would believe Huan Zhong, and not sobs that came out of nowhere.
“All right.” After they walked for an unknown amount of time, the thick fog finally dissipated. Kong Hou looked around. This was the path they took to go into the woods. Right now, they had come back to their original spot.
“Kong Hou, quick, release him!” Ling Bo jumped off the tree, her sword pointing nervously at Huan Zhong. “He is not Spirit Master Huan Zhong—he is an illusory yao of the secret realm.” While she did not like Kong Hou, she did not want the cultivation world to lose such an important genius cultivator.
“Celestial Ling Bo, you misunderstand.” Kong Hou smiled helplessly. “This really is Huan Zhong. We have resolved the formation inside the mist; you do not have to worry.”
Her words did not let Ling Bo relax her guard. Her expression became uglier. She looked at where Kong Hou and the illusory yao had bound their hands together. Her hand sweated as she held her sword. “I do not care who you are—leave Kong Hou’s side immediately.”
This damned young brat was so strong when she had been ridiculing her. How could she not even recognize human from yao. When had Spirit Master Huan Zhong ever worn such bright and complex robes? While… she had to admit he was very good-looking, this did not fit Spirit Master Huan Zhong’s habits.
As a sword cultivator, being pointed at with a sword by someone was the most serious of provocations. Huan Zhong glanced at Ling Bo and then at Kong Hou who was grimacing at the side. He spoke, “Path Friend Ling Bo, it is me.”
Ling Bo snorted. “Do not play tricks with me. Just now, an illusory yao pretended to be Kong Hou this damn… Celestial Kong Hou to get close to me. The illusory yao are the best at enchanting people so they cannot separate truth and illusion. You, as an illusory yao, are not skilled but know how to tempt people. I recognize cultivation is difficult; if you leave her, I will not kill you.” She was Celestial Ling Bo of Clear Dawn Sect—she would not say swear words!
Looking at Ling Bo’s serious expression, Kong Hou smiled at her with some more warmth. “Celestial Ling Bo, do not worry. He is Huan Zhong, I guarantee it.”
Ling Bo stared at Huan Zhong and Kong Hou for several seconds before she slowly put down the sword. “I will temporarily believe her, but you have to come next to me.” If this young brat was killed by an illusory yao in front of her, Splendid Cloud Sect would come to cry in front of Clear Dawn Sect every day. Then where would she find a pentad spirit base genius female cultivator to repay them?
“No,” Huan Zhong said with a cold expression, “Kong Hou stays by my side.”
“Ha!” Ling Bo smoothed her sleeve. This illusory yao that enchanted with beauty dared to be so disobedient. Did he think that her reputation as the most beautiful woman of Clear Dawn Sect was for nothing?
“Celestial Ling Bo, let us speak—do not be impulsive.” Jin Ling appeared from behind the tree trunk and grabbed her sleeve. “What if this really is Spirit Master Huan Zhong?”
If this really was Spirit Master Huan Zhong, it would be awkward when they met again. More importantly, Celestial Ling Bo could not win against Spirit Master Huan Zhong. She had heard that when sword cultivators were angry, they did not distinguish between men, women and animals. They would cut down everything with their sword.
Ling Bo frowned and looked over Huan Zhong’s clothing several times. If this really was Spirit Master Huan Zhong, why did he suddenly wear red robes? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kong Hou. An absurd thought appeared in her mind.
Did he… want to use beauty to attract Kong Hou?
“Apologies, I misunderstood just now. Spirit Master, please forgive me.” Ling Bo bowed and apologized to Huan Zhong. However, her body was slightly tense, showing that she had not completely let down her guard.
“Path Friend does not have to be so. The secret realm is full of traps, so it is best to be careful.” Huan Zhong did not let go of Kong Hou’s hand.
“What have you encountered inside?” Kong Hou was slightly curious. Ling Bo’s cultivation and mental state could not compare to Huan Zhong’s. How could she come out earlier than Huan Zhong?
“Nothing.” Ling Bo’s expression was slightly unnatural. She could not tell Kong Hou that an illusory yao had impersonated Kong Hou just now and stroked the hair coquettishly in front of her, pretending to be pitiful. She had been so angry she had beaten the illusory yao to damage its appearance.
When she came back to herself, she was already outside the fog. If she said the truth, it would appear she was jealous of Kong Hou’s beauty. She would not say it out loud on pain of death.
Suddenly, a silver light flew over. Huan Zhong held his sword in one hand as he redirected the silver light. This was not a silver light—this was a vicious killing sword.
“Move away from them.” Lin Hu’s clothing was in tatters and he looked disheveled. It appeared he had not had a smooth experience.
“I just said that he is not the true Spirit Master Huan Zhong. Even Elder Lin suspects him.” Ling Bo pulled out her sword again, and pushed Jin Ling to the side. “Stay a bit further away.”
Jin Ling silently put a few more defensive seals on herself and shrank back behind the tree trunk.
The battle was on the verge of starting yet Lin Hu suddenly stopped. He looked doubtful at Huan Zhong. “Master?”
Huan Zhong looked coolly at him. “Clear-headed now?”
Lin Hu put his sword back in its sheath and walked a few steps towards Huan Zhong and Kong Hou. “How come you are wearing this?”
“I am in a good mood.” Huan Zhong shook his sleeve slightly and the Dragon Roar Sword disappeared from his hand. He turned and said to Kong Hou, “Rest for a while. Later, we will move to the east.”
Lin Hu: “…”
So you wore white or light-colored robes every day for three hundred years previously because you were not in a good mood?
“Wait, let me make a reading.” Kong Hou took out the jade turtle shells Pavilion Master Sun had given her. She glanced at their hands which were bound together. “Huan Zhong, cooperate with me.”
Lin Hu: “…”
“You know how to divine?” Ling Bo coughed and put the sword away, pretending nothing had happened.
“Just a bit.” Kong Hou knew to be humble. She held the jade turtle shell with both hands, bowed three times to the sky, and started to recite the beginner divination chant.
“Asking the heavens, the east, the south, asking the earth, the west, the north, good and bad luck, kowtowing to thank the heavens and earth.”
The turtle shell fell to the ground. Kong Hou looked over a few times. “The reading indicates we should walk towards the south.
“The south is fire, I…”
“The south isn’t bad,” Huan Zhong said. “We will go south.”
“The south represents fire, fire represents light; it is a good choice,” Lin Hu said with a stiff face. “Master, will you come with me to change?”
Huan Zhong looked at his hand holding Kong Hou’s. “No need, wait until after we leave this place.”
Seeing Huan Zhong so determined, Lin Hu did not ask again.
He remembered that Master disliked red things especially, particularly red clothing. The day that Master left the imperial palace, all of the palace was covered in red silk. That was the day the emperor was wedding his new empress, the third day after Master’s mother passed away.
Wearing white, Master held the little sword Sect Master Jin Yue had given him. He went into the main hall with a stiff face, levered the dragon pearl out of the throne, and then left the palace without a second glance back to never return.
Of course, since then he had never seen the other wear red clothing.
As Ling Bo and Jin Ling sat to the side and rested, Kong Hou pulled Huan Zhong’s sleeve. “Huan Zhong, how about you make another reading? I might not be accurate.”
“No need.” Huan Zhong gave her a bottle of spirit liquid. “I believe you.”
Kong Hou raised one hand and covered her face. “But I do not feel very reassured.”
While her recent divinations had been very accurate, what if she was not accurate this once?
“No matter. With me and Lin Hu present, even if the reading is not accurate, there will not be any danger,” Huan Zhong said warmly. “Drink a bottle of spirit liquid. The secret realm will change every day, and any direction is the same.”
Huan Zhong,” Kong Hou turned her head to look at Huan Zhong.
“Yes?” Huan Zhong looked back at her.
“Even if I had a gentle, powerful and considerate father, he would not be better to me than you are.”
Translator Ramblings: Clothes make the man.