This night was particularly long. Huang Rang sat by the bed, keeping watch over Xie Hongchen.
Due to the restrictions of the Eight Wilderness Shackles, Xie Hongchen didn’t even have the strength to struggle. He was heavily poisoned and injured, feeling extremely fatigued. Huang Rang could see it and said, “Let me light a Guardian Incense for you.”
After saying that, she walked to the incense burner and indeed took an incense stick, lighting it for him.
Xie Hongchen finally couldn’t struggle anymore and sank into a deep sleep.
Huang Rang sat by his side, watching blood continue to flow from his eyes. Unable to bear it, she applied medicine to his wounds.
He was half drowsy but still felt the pain, letting out a soft moan. Huang Rang then applied less pressure with her hand. Outside the window, it was pitch black, with only the candlelight in the hall shining brightly. The night had grown late, but Huang Rang couldn’t bring herself to sleep even for a moment.
— In the past, I didn’t realize it, but now I understand how nostalgic this fleeting and elusive freedom of time can be.
Celestial Court, Vermilion Bird Bureau.
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Pk Zkikw osajle shladktbv vs qsatl yd yavkqynv, yde elrwvu nbklq Hbw Dkydt ynnsxrydkle bkx—dsv clnywpl pbl oydvle vs qzyvvla bkx cwv clnywpl pbl nswzed’v swvawd bkx. Kwpv yp kv oyp vkxl qsa bla vs zlyhl, Pk Zkikw yaakhle.
Hbw Dkydt pvyule cu Pk Zkikw’p pkel. Fbl oypd’v olyakdt bla sqqknkyz wdkqsax clnywpl vbl Alaxkzksd Jkae Jwalyw sqvld dllele vs raynvknl yznblxu yde qsatl vsszp, ps vbl ealpp nsel qsa vblx oyp dsv hlau pvaknv.
Msdktbv, Hbw Dkydt osal y ale pbsav pbkav okvb bla pzllhlp aszzle wr vs bla lzcsop. Tla zsdt byka oyp vkle wr kd y bktb cwd, tkhkdt bla y prkakvle yrrlyaydnl.
Pk Zkikw qsnwple sd qsatkdt vbl yavkqynv; bl bye xydu iwkajp. Tl osajle ewakdt vbl eyu yde pvkzz ldfsule qsatkdt yv dktbv. Ebkzl bkp bydep olal cwpu, bkp xkde oydelale. Tl oyp wple vs kv, yde lhld okvb vbl xspv kdvaknyvl valypwal, bl nswze xwzvkvypj okvbswv xyjkdt xkpvyjlp.
Hbw Dkydt oyp iwkvl kxralpple cu bkp vyzldv. Gp y pwcsaekdyvl, obld vbl cspp alxykdle pkzldv, pbl dyvwayzzu bye vs calyj vbl yojoyaedlpp. Fs pbl pyke, “Yypvla, kpd’v kv csakdt vs prlde xspv sq vbl ulya yv vbl Ulzlpvkyz Uswav?”
Xb, sq nswapl, bl eked’v qkde kv csakdt. Tl oyp yzalyeu yd lmvalxlzu csakdt rlapsd. Hbw Dkydt pkzldvzu pnsqqle kd bla blyav.
Gp lmrlnvle, Pk Zkikw alrzkle, “R esd’v vbkdj ps.”
Hbw Dkydt nswze sdzu pyu, “Gnvwyzzu, R byhl y nswpkd obs talyvzu yexkalp usw. Rq usw esd’v xkde, R nyd yaaydtl qsa bla vs xllv usw yde byhl y xlyz vstlvbla vs tlv yniwykdvle. Ebyv es usw vbkdj ?”
Di Yiqiu glanced at her and asked, “Does your cousin resemble you in appearance?”
Zhu Xiang said, “There is some resemblance. She…” She planned to continue speaking, but Di Yiqiu interrupted her and said, “I mind.”
Zhu Xiang raised the iron hammer and struck the iron with force, each blow seeming to land on Di Yiqiu’s head.
Di Yiqiu seemed to realize that his previous words were inappropriate, and he actually took the initiative to ask, “Are you married?”
“Ah?” Zhu Xiang’s heart skipped a beat, and she hurriedly said, “I’m too busy with my duties; how can I have time to get married?” While saying this, her thoughts had already spun several times—Could it be that he is interested in me?
Zhu Xiang carefully calculated it—It’s possible! Although he’s a bit boring, he’s handsome, so there’s no loss in this move. Secondly, he has power and influence, and for the past hundred years, he’s been living and eating at the Celestial Court. He doesn’t even have an external residence, which indicates that his personal life is also very clean.
Moreover, all his expenses when he goes out are covered by the court, and his salary has probably never been touched.
So, he’s wealthy!
Considering all this, it’s a profitable deal.
Blushing, Zhu Xiang said hesitantly, “Speaking of which, I have reached the age where I should be getting married.”
Di Yiqiu made a sound of agreement, pondered for a moment, and said, “It would be better for you to stay busy.”
Huh? Zhu Xiang asked, “Why?”
Di Yiqiu had finished pouring the mold and began carving the rune formations. His brows furrowed slightly as he said, “This way, if you don’t get married and remain busy with official duties, it can be an excuse. If you have free time and still can’t get married, others will notice.”
“Master!” Zhu Xiang couldn’t care less about politeness as she interrupted him, “Let me brew a pot of tea for you.”
Di Yiqiu made a sound of agreement and continued focusing on his drawings.
While Zhu Xiang brewed the tea, she cursed in her mind—Why did you, a perfectly fine person, have to open your mouth! If I ever worry about your marriage again, I must be an idiot!
From then on, the two of them became two silent gourds.
But this was something Di Yiqiu was most familiar with. Since he took over the Celestial Court, he has spent countless nights like this. The charcoal pencils or the refining furnace wouldn’t speak, and he operated like a mechanism, tirelessly running and rarely resting.
Zhu Xiang felt that he probably didn’t have many girls around him in these hundred years because of his big mouth. No, he deserved it! Then why was she also still single?
Zhu Xiang swung the hammer down, making a clang sound, and sparks flew from the heated, stubborn iron.
—It’s really incomprehensible.
Yuhu immortal sect, Yeyun Hall.
As the sky brightened, birds in the forest woke up first, flying around in search of food, creating a chorus of clear chirping. Outside the door, Xie Hongchen’s junior brother, Xie Shaochong, had been waiting for a long time.
With no movement inside, he couldn’t help but wonder and asked with a fist salute, “Today, the disciple is going to perform martial arts. Will the Sect Master be present?”
Huang Rang stepped out of the inner hall, wearing a solemn and bright golden dress. She bowed to Xie Shaochong, who didn’t suspect her presence, and quickly bowed, saying, “Madam.”
“Today is my birthday, Hongchen…” Huang Rang’s face showed shyness, and it took her a while to say, “He mentioned something about a surprise and has been preparing until now. He doesn’t allow me to see. It’s really embarrassing for my junior brother to witness this.”
The beautiful woman blushed, and her words were filled with the sweetness of a loving couple. Xie Shaochong had no doubts left.
After all, Huang Rang had always been virtuous and graceful in the sect. Moreover, her relationship with Xie Hongchen appeared affectionate to outsiders. Although she adhered to her role as a wife and never stepped into Yeyun Hall, if it was her birthday today, it was only natural for Xie Hongchen, a loving husband, to prepare something.
Xie Shaochong understood and said, “So that’s the case. It seems the Sect Master is busy today. Please tell Master that I came by.”
Huang Rang, graceful and elegant, gave him a gentle bow. “I apologize for the inconvenience caused.”
Xie Shaochong wouldn’t really find it laughable. He said, “The Sect Master and Madam are harmonious in their singing, an exemplary couple in the Immortal Sect. I admire and envy them. How could I mock?”
With dignified steps, Huang Rang escorted him out. When she returned to the hall, she saw that Xie Hongchen had already fallen off the bed. He even knocked over a vase, clearly indicating that he had heard Xie Shaochong’s voice and wanted to warn him.
Huang Rang helped him up and back onto the bed, saying, “You can’t leave, and he can’t hear you. I activated the sound barrier. This little thing may have been useless to you in the past, but it is more than enough to deal with you now.”
The sound barrier was a common little artifact used in the Immortal Sect to block sound from entering or leaving.
“Huang Rang, have you gone mad?” Xie Hongchen’s suppressed emotions finally erupted. He grabbed Huang Rang by the collar and angrily said, “Are you colluding with Xie Yuanshu to tarnish my reputation?”
“You know what kind of person he is! What can he give you?!”
Huang Rang pushed his hand away and helped him sit back on the bed. Seeing his eyes bleeding again, she had to change the bandages for him. At this moment, she even softly advised him, “The poison in your body is acting up. You shouldn’t get angry.”
Xie Hongchen held her wrist, patiently reasoning with her, “Xie Yuanshu has low cultivation and little talent. He cannot lead Yuhu immortal sect. And if he gains power, will he truly cherish you?! Ah Rang, let go of me. I will handle him, and no one else will know about this. I also promise not to investigate it, alright?”
“Hongchen, you truly understand righteousness.” Huang Rang curiously caressed his face and asked, “I have an intimate relationship with him; will you not pursue it either?”
Xie Hongchen shook his head and said, “No.” He said it with certainty. “You won’t like him.”
Huang Rang’s fingertips gently stroked his nose as she asked, “Why?”
“Because…” Xie Hongchen paused abruptly. Because you probably still like me. This thought suddenly emerged in his mind. It turns out that even after a hundred years, even a stone or a piece of wood could still have some feelings.
He didn’t continue speaking. For some reason, a tangled and painful feeling filled his heart.
Huang Rang’s voice was calm as she said, “Sometimes, I think he’s quite good too. At least he remembers my birthday and knows what small trinket to give me on that day. Hongchen, do you still remember my birthday?”
Xie Hongchen was stunned. He had never asked.
But Huang Rang didn’t mind. She said, “Only Xie Yuanshu in the entire Yuhu immortal sect knows. Some disciples in the sect have inquired, but I didn’t tell them. Hongchen, I’ve spent a hundred birthdays alone on the Qilu Terrace, and I often feel lonely. So Big Brother is not bad either. At least when I shed tears, he would offer comforting words. He wouldn’t turn away or remain indifferent.”
Xie Hongchen was furious. “So, that’s why he did such a foolish thing! I’ve always known your thoughts were twisted, but I didn’t expect you to be so malicious and ignorant!”
Ignoring his anger, Huang Rang instead held his hand and gently pressed it against her own face, saying, “Xie Hongchen, you truly are the cruelest man I’ve ever seen. Hearing you say that, I really wish to see you heartbroken and tormented, to experience the pain tearing through your heart, even if just once.”
Xie Hongchen sternly questioned, “So, this is your way of getting back at me?!”
“That’s not it.” Huang Rang shook her head slowly, realizing he couldn’t see, and continued, “I acted hastily, but if I take things step by step, I’m afraid I won’t have enough time.”
She touched the transparent tea needle, feeling its cold temperature. With a sigh, she said, “I have more important things to do, and I can’t afford to focus on this.” Her fingertips lightly caressed his face, trailing along his earlobe.
Xie Hongchen, repulsed, avoided her touch. He began to suspect that something had really happened between Huang Rang and Xie Yuanshu.
Huang Rang’s words just now shattered his judgment. He was no longer as confident as before.
Huang Rang smiled as she turned his face towards her. Xie Hongchen endured his discomfort and said, “Huang Rang, if you let go of me now, there’s still a chance to turn things around. You can’t hide this for long. Once Master finds out, even I won’t be able to protect you!” Even at this moment, his tone remained firm.
However, Huang Rang didn’t seem to care. She said, “You won’t protect me. You’ll silently imprison me on the Qilu Terrace for the sake of your own reputation, and then claim to the outside world that I’m severely ill and in seclusion for recovery. From then on, you’ll let me live or die as you please.”
Xie Hongchen was momentarily stunned. It was exactly what he had been thinking deep in his heart. This woman in front of him, despite her deep scheming, truly understood him.
False words were useless. For a couple of hundred years, she knew him too well.
Huang Rang withdrew her hand and stood up, silently gazing at the man on the bed.
Xie Hongchen couldn’t bear to look and felt a sudden sense of confusion and loss. Huang Rang stared at him for a long time and said, “Look at you; even after saying so much, I couldn’t even get a single tear from you. Hongchen, in these hundred years, Huang Rang couldn’t even obtain a single tear from you.”
She walked out in despair, looking at the countless steps of the jade staircase leading to the Yeyun Hall, like a ladder connecting the mortal and immortal realms.
Xie Hongchen, my entire life isn’t even worth a bit of your sadness. It’s truly disheartening. If there were still a chance, I really wanted to reach out and take hold of your heart to see how you would suffer in agony.