This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 74: Manor
The role of father, to Kong Hou, was a part of her life she lacked. When she had been a puppet princess in Emperor Jinghong’s palace, she once thought what it would be like to have a perfect father.
Tall, good-looking, reliable, invincible. As long as he was present, she did not have to fear anything, and no one could bully her. Later, she had the shixiong, she had Master, and a group of reliable and unreliable fellow disciples. She never fantasized about how her perfect father would be like after that.
As Huan Zhong held her hand and cut down the yao with his sword, she suddenly felt that Huan Zhong was like the perfect father in her mind. More importantly, he was much better-looking than her imaginary father.
Another bottle of spirit liquid was shoved into Kong Hou’s hand. Huan Zhong said with a stern expression, “Drink another one.”
“I have not finished this bottle.” Kong Hou and Huan Zhong sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the rock. Her legs swung in the air. She did not look as though she was exploring a secret realm, but as though she was on a tour with Huan Zhong.
Although you have not finished drinking, Master wants to block up your mouth. Learning against the tree roots, Lin Hu turned to look at the two sitting together and then turned toward another direction.
An old man like him who had lived longer could not understand the world of young people.
“Right.” Kong Hou took out the spirit grass she had uprooted. The spirit grass had stayed in her storage ring for several hours and seemed slightly limp, the leaves clumping together. Kong Hou poked the leaves with a finger. “What are these spirit grasses?”
Huan Zhong stared at the spirit grasses for a while. Under Kong Hou’s hopeful gaze, he slowly shook his head. “I do not recognize them.”
“Even you do not recognize them.” Kong Hou took out a little pot that she had put in at some unknown time. She dug a few handfuls of dirt off the ground, and casually put the grass in. “Since I already dug it out, it is not good to throw it away. When we leave the secret realm, I will keep it on the carriage.”
“All right.” Huan Zhong stared at the spirit grass for a while. Normal leaves, normal stem, it looked… looked like a normal weed. However, seeing Kong Hou drip two droplets of spirit liquid into the flower pot, he did not speak.
Ling Bo sat on the tree branch and looked at Huan Zhong and Kong Hou’s closeness. She sighed, holding her face in her hands. In the cultivation world, she was a popular and honored female cultivator. In order to enter the secret realm, she did not take along her servant girls and paid no particular attention to ostentation. But when she came into the secret realm, she encountered a burden and had to watch another female cultivator being flattered by everyone else.
People would have what they want most of the time; her misfortune was encountering Kong Hou.
“Celestial Ling Bo.”
Ling Bo turned and saw Kong Hou holding a spirit fruit and beckoning towards her. “Come eat a spirit fruit.”
She flew down the tree and walked to Kong Hou. The spirit fruit was innocent; she would still eat it.
After eating the spirit fruit, Kong Hou used the Water Frost Sword to poke a hole in the ground and then buried all the spirit fruit cores in the hole.
“What are you doing?” Seeing Kong Hou use such a high quality divine sword to dig a hole in the ground, Ling Bo turned to look at Huan Zhong. She wanted to see how he, a sword cultivator, would be able to endure seeing his partner ruin a divine sword so?
However, Huan Zhong was able to endure it. He even took out a gourd of water and washed Kong Hou’s hands after she finished playing in the dirt.
An apprentice of the Radiance Sect acted so—where were the principles of a sword cultivator? Ling Bo endured and endured, not daring to voice her criticisms because she could not defeat Huan Zhong.
“If these cores germinate and grow, the cultivators who enter the secret realm in five hundred years will have fruits to eat.” Kong Hou patted the earth with a handkerchief and then watered the ground.
“You worry about matters five hundred years in the future?” Ling Bo wanted to sneer. Seeing Spirit Master Huan Zhong suddenly lift his head and look at her, her words changed. “You are so considerate.”
She could not stay here. She must find her shixiong and shidi and be with them instead. If she stayed longer with these people, her mind would also become abnormal.
“Before we came, the sect said this secret realm has no dangers. However, I feel this is not the case.” Jin Ling saw everyone silent. She, who was lively and talkative, could not endure it. “Just now, those illusory yao acted to injure.”
“Yes, I also felt it.” Ling Bo, who was spoiled by her shixiong and shidi could not keep her composure. “Just now, the illusory yao who attacked to me were fierce—they do not seem like mere tests.”
If the guess was true, then fatalities would occur in the secret realm this time around. When sect disciples entered secret realms, they would carry defensive talismans and there were also defensive seals on their robes which could block some things. But the nomad cultivators that entered the secret realm were not as protected as they were. If…
“The secret realm has changed—we have to be more careful.” Lin Hu stood. Holding his sword by the hilt, he looked around and said to Huan Zhong, “Master, let’s first leave here.”
Huan Zhong took out a handkerchief for Kong Hou to dry off the water from her hands. “Let’s go.”
“Where should we go?” Lin Hu asked extraneously and then he regretted it. Wasn’t that obvious?
“South.” Huan Zhong pulled Kong Hou to stand and then looked at Jin Ling and Lin Hu. “Lin Hu walks in the front, you two in the middle.”
Jin Ling obediently walked to the middle without saying a word. Ling Bo looked at the pair and walked next to Jin Ling, holding her sword. She decided she would not look back.
Passing through the dense woods, the outside was not tall peaks and deep valleys like they imagined. It was a vast estate. The gates to the estate were wide open. A rock monument next to the gates had words carved into it—”Travellers, please enter.”
There was no signature or date. The stone monument stood there alone, covered in ivy and worn by the wind and daylight.
“According to the patterns in storybooks, when one enters places with signs saying not to enter, bad things will occur. But is this kind of sign that asks us to enter a friendly reminder or a trap?” Kong Hou stared at the stone monument for a while and turned to ask Huan Zhong. “Should we enter?”
“There is a boundary around. We cannot leave.” Lin Hu poked around and walked next to Huan Zhong. “Other than entering this estate, we have no other choice.”
“A forced choice is not any kind of invitation.” Kong Hou stepped onto the mossy steps. There was a shadow wall behind the gates, and behind the shadow wall was a vast courtyard.
Walking through the front courtyard, there were many smaller courtyards in the back, but only one courtyard had open gates.
“This means for us to enter this courtyard?” Kong Hou went on tiptoes and peeked into the courtyard. She only saw that some pomegranate trees seemed to be planted in the courtyard which were blooming. The courtyard appeared serene and peaceful.
Having reached this step, it was impossible not to go in. Huan Zhong calmly led Kong Hou into the courtyard. The courtyard had many rooms but only five rooms had open doors.
“One, two, three, four, five … …” Jin Ling counted the rooms in a quiet voice. Her expression looked hesitant. “We have five people here—should we each pick a room?”
Lin Hu turned to look at Huan Zhong. Huan Zhong nodded.
“I will go in and look first.” Lin Hu gripped his sword and went into one of the rooms. Behind the door was an ordinary room, a zither rack by the corner with a phoenix-tail zither on it untouched by dust. He used his sword to lift the bed hangings. Inside was a large and comfortable bed, the blankets neatly folded. The covering was embroidered with lucky clouds and flying celestials.
There was nothing suspicious about the room. It was refined and comfortable. But that was the strangest part.
He looked around the room again. He found a box in the corner which was locked. Lin Hu did not feel any fiendish or spirit energy from the box. This was an ordinary box. He did not know if this had been placed so the room did not appear so empty or if there were other meanings.
Coming out of the room, Lin Hu described the situation of the room.
“According to my experience, that box definitely has a problem,” Kong Hou said in a small voice. “Then we should each choose a room.” In the storybooks, people who acted alone were usually the first to die.
Lin Hu thought, what experience do you, a young girl of sixteen travelling alone for the first time, have?
“Miss Kong Hou is correct,” Lin Hu nodded and said, “Misses, please choose.”
Jin Ling turned to look at Kong Hou. Kong Hou looked at Ling Bo. Ling Bo pointed at the room to the east. “This one.” Jin Ling was slightly scared so she chose a room in the middle. Kong Hou picked a room in the middle but near the west. Huan Zhong and Lin Hu took the two rooms closest to her.
Possibly out of coincidence or deliberately by the secret realm, just as they chose their rooms, rain poured down as though it would not be satisfied until it soaked them all.
“While I feel that the secret realm wants us to go in to undergo its test, is this not too direct?” Standing under the eaves, Kong Hou looked at the sky and said to Huan Zhong, “If we do not go in, would we not get hail next?”
Just as she finished, the black clouds in the sky suddenly dissipated and revealed a bright sun.
Kong Hou: “…”
Was this trying to hide it makes it more conspicuous?
Looking at the bright sunlight outside, Huan Zhong put two seals on Kong Hou’s door. The two seals were ones to protect the home and defend against yao. With these two seals, the yao could not enter the room from the outside.
The sky gradually darkened as though it was reminding Kong Hou and the others it was time to go to bed.
Kong Hou felt the things from the secret realm were not reliable. She moved a bed and blankets from her storage ring and put them in the middle of the room. The table which had been at the center of the room was squeezed into the corner.