The Qilu terrace was always silent. Especially now, even Xie Hongchen wouldn’t come.
Huang Rang changed into a new dress and turned to see Di Yiqiu still with his back to her. She said, “Can you help me to the dressing table, please?” Her voice was still soft and capable of melting hearts.
Di Yiqiu didn’t say anything; he just reached out and supported her, leading her to the dressing table.
Huang Rang let down her long hair and began to tie it up again.
Di Yiqiu stood behind the bronze mirror, silently watching. In the mirror, she appeared weak, but her hair was skillfully done. And here, she had many hair ornaments—strange, why did she say “also”?
Several boxes on the dressing table were filled with her jewelry. Huang Rang quickly styled her hair into a Yun Ji hairstyle, adorned with hairpins, step-shakers, and hair rings. Then she opened the jars and bottles and began applying makeup. Di Yiqiu could only watch as her pale complexion transformed into a rosy glow, her skin becoming delicate as if it could be broken with a breath.
Di Yiqiu felt as if he was witnessing a disguise. Huang Rang thought of his clumsy makeup techniques and couldn’t help but chuckle. Di Yiqiu instantly averted his gaze and looked elsewhere.
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Dkl Tsdtnbld xwpv yzps cl hlau dspvyztkn qsa kv.
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Pslpd’v vbkp xlyd vbyv Dkl Tsdtnbld byp clld vyjkdt tsse nyal sq bla? Pk Zkikw qlzv psxlobyv kaakvyvle.
Jwv Twydt Sydt rskdvle vs y assx, yde bl bwaaklezu oldv shla yde srldle kv—kv oyp qkzzle okvb lxcaskelale pbslp. Elzz, qkdl vbld.
“Vknj vbl ryka kd nsayz clyep, vbl sqq-obkvl sdlp,” Twydt Sydt kdpvawnvle. Pk Zkikw plyanble vbaswtb asop yde asop sq osseld aynjp wdvkz bl qswde vblx qsa bla. Mbld bl dyvwayzzu naswnble esod, vssj sqq bla sze pbslp, yde alrzynle vblx okvb vbl dlo sdlp.
Gqvla nsxrzlvkdt yzz vbkp, bl zssjle wr yde pllxle vs alyzkgl vbyv kv oyp kdyrrasrakyvl, yrszstkgkdt, “R’x psaau.”
Of course, Huang Rang didn’t mind—she had long abandoned any guard between herself and Di Yiqiu. Just think of those five hot baths!
She asked, “Did the chief come here tonight just to find me?”
Di Yiqiu was startled for a moment, then immediately denied, “I came to check if Xie Lingbi and Xie Hongchen’s injuries were faked.”
Huang Rang let out a sigh. “So you just stayed here with me, spending most of the night at the Qilu terrace?”
She didn’t say the rest of the sentence, refraining from exposing someone’s secret. That was something she had never done.
She said, “Xie Yuanshu has absorbed their energy, and they no longer pose a threat to the chief. As for Xie Yuanshu, he is foolish and ignorant, destined to be defeated by the chief sooner or later.”
Di Yiqiu couldn’t hold back anymore and asked, “What exactly happened? Who hurt you?”
Huang Rang wanted to laugh, but the blood choked her when she did. “No need to ask,” she said, coughing and shaking her head. It’s enough to talk about these things with Xie Hongchen. After all, Di Yiqiu was an outsider, and it wasn’t his place to know.
Huang Rang covered her mouth to prevent the blood from dripping onto her freshly changed dress. Di Yiqiu took out his handkerchief and handed it to her. Huang Rang used the handkerchief to cover her mouth and continued coughing.
Di Yi Qiu stood in front of her for a while and said, “After I deal with Xie Yuanshu, I will take you to White Bone Cliff to find Miao Yunzhi.”
Huang Rang shook her head silently.
Di Yi Qiu waited for a while but received no response. Finally, he asked, “Huang Rang, do you regret it?”
“Regret?” Huang Rang was briefly stunned, then smiled and sarcastically said, “Regret not agreeing to your marriage proposal? Of course not. Even if I married you, it wouldn’t necessarily be what I wanted.” She lowered her head and murmured, “Besides… I still have some feelings for him.”
Perhaps more than just some feelings. But there was no one to listen or believe.
Di Yiqiu turned his face away. In this world, those who were deeply in love pretended to be numb, while those who were numb pretended to be deeply in love.
In the dim night, he stood in the warm glow of the candlelight and asked, “I’m asking, do you regret leaving Xiancha Town?”
Huang Rang’s smile gradually faded, and she remained silent.
Di Yiqiu held her hand and said, “After daybreak, I will deal with Xie Yuanshu, and then I will take you back to Xiancha Town. I will find Miao Yunzhi to treat your illness.”
Huang Rang held the tea needle in her hand, and drops of water seeped through her fingers. She lifted her head, looked at Di Yiqiu with a smile, and softly replied, “Okay.”
At the first ray of dawn, Di Yiqiu prepared to return to Emerald Peak.
Seeing Huang Rang alone in the room, he inexplicably felt a bit worried and said, “Let me help you to the pavilion. I’ll be back soon.”
“Okay.” Huang Rang also didn’t like staying in the room. It was much better outside, with the vast sky and expansive land. She let Di Yiqiu support her as they walked out. The sunlight made her squint her eyes. She sat down in the triangular pavilion, and the golden light of the early Eight lunar months enveloped the earth.
Di Yiqiu descended the mountain. He didn’t avoid people because he had obtained the information he wanted.
Xie Yuanshu was a fool, thinking that by possessing the powers of Xie Lingbi and Xie Hongchen, he could be carefree. But there were so many talented individuals in the immortal sects. He was alone, relying on absorbing the internal energy of others, how long could he hold on?
When he arrived at Yeyun Hall, Xie Yuanshu happened to come out.
It had been three days and three nights of continuous feasting in the Yuhu Immortal Sect, and today was the third day.
Because He Xijin had been reciting the congratulatory poem for the whole day, everyone was tired. It was only at this moment that people gradually arrived. Xie Yuanshu raised his hands to suppress the voices of the crowd and said, “Today, as the Sect Master, I will formally assume my responsibilities and become…”
Suddenly, someone interrupted, saying, “Hold on.”
Everyone turned their heads and saw Bao Wu pushing someone toward them.
Xie Yuanshu’s face instantly changed when he saw that person.
“Xie Hongchen!” he gritted his teeth.
The person pushed by Bao Wu was indeed the former Sect Master, Xie Hongchen. However, his eyes were covered in pure silk, he sat in a wheelchair, and his face was as pale as paper. All the guests at the banquet stood up in astonishment.
Xie Shaochong and Nie Qinglan also rushed over to protect Xie Hongchen.
Xie Yuanshu naturally knew who Bao Wu was working for, and he angrily asked, “Di Yiqiu, what is the meaning of this?”
Di Yiqiu walked slowly to Xie Hongchen’s side, although he didn’t want to see him. He still asked, “Can you still speak?”
Xie Hongchen struggled to stand up. His eyes were blind, his cultivation was lost, and he suffered from multiple injuries and poison. However, he still stood upright. He said, word by word, “Everyone, Xie Yuanshu plotted against the respected elders and severely injured the elder ancestor. He is a person without virtue or gratitude and cannot succeed as the Sect Master. I, as the current Sect Master of Yuhu Immortal Sect, appoint my junior brother Xie Shaochong as the successor to the Sect Master position. My disciple Nie Qinglan shall be the master of Dark Thunder Peak.”
As soon as he spoke, everyone fell silent. It wasn’t surprising; many people had already guessed it.
But now, Xie Hongchen had lost all his power, while Xie Yuanshu possessed the powers of both Xie Hongchen and Xie Lingbi. How could they deal with him?
Xie Hongchen seemed to have also thought about it. Although he couldn’t see, he slightly turned his head and said, “Since you had someone bring me here, you must have a solution.”
Di Yiqiu said, “I brought He Xijin and others with me. You see, I am sincere. But what do you have to offer in return?”
Smart people don’t need many words. With Di Yiqiu’s current qualifications, he might not be able to command the Immortal Sect. But if He Xijin was here, it was as if Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou were here. With their support, the other sects would unite.
Xie Hongchen’s face turned cold, devoid of joy or sorrow. “What do you want? Yuhu Immortal Sect?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Di Yiqiu said. “Yuhu Immortal Sect will be mine sooner or later, now that you and Xie Lingbi are gone. Why would I be in a hurry?”
Beside them, Xie Yuanshu was furious and cursed, “I’ll finish you, you useless person!”
He was about to rush over, but Xie Shaochong and Nie Qinglan could only lead the disciples of the Yuhu Immortal Sect to engage him first, besieging him. However, with his current power, they couldn’t hold on for long. Di Yiqiu said, “Xie Hongchen, I want a divorce letter.”
“A divorce… a divorce letter? What divorce letter?” Xie Hongchen frowned, and after a while, he finally understood. What other divorce letter could it be?
Di Yiqiu stood in front of him, waiting for his answer.
After a moment of hesitation, Xie Hongchen smiled and asked, “Did she ask you to do this?” Di Yiqiu didn’t answer, and Xie Hongchen wanted to laugh, but a trace of blood stained the pure silk cloth that was covering his eyes. He paused for a while and said, “Fine.” After speaking, he smiled again and said, “Anyway, I am now a useless person, no longer the phoenix tree she wishes to rest upon.”
Di Yiqiu waved his hand, and Bao Wu dipped the brush in ink and handed it to Xie Hongchen. Xie Hongchen held the brush, his wrist trembling. When Bao Wu spread out the paper, he pressed down on his wrist and began to write.
Di Yi Qiu didn’t look back. He believed in Xie Hongchen’s unwavering commitment.
He joined the battle and surrounded Xie Yuanshu, launching an attack. Xie Yuanshu shouted in anger and struck out with a palm. Bao Wu swiftly moved his hands, drew out a golden knife, and shattered the palm strike. He Xijin and the others didn’t stand idle either. It was a fierce battle, and no one was slacking off.
At this moment, at Qilu Terrace…
Huang Rang leaned against the pavilion, already hearing the sounds of fierce fighting.
She didn’t look toward Emerald Peak. In fact, Qilu Terrace was remote and couldn’t see Emerald Peak. She had known that for a hundred years. She lay on the stone table, and the tea needle in her hand had already melted, leaving only a small piece.
It was truly difficult to part with it.
Unfortunately, by her side, there was only this tree, Nian Jun’an, remaining silent.
Huang Rang reached out her hand, wanting to break off a branch, but she didn’t have the strength anymore. Today, the sky was still without snow, and naturally, the flowers wouldn’t bloom. So this plum tree had no leaves or flowers, only the shadows of its branches.
I actually cultivated such a tree, blossoming with snowflakes and covering the branches, melting the ice and snow.
Huang Rang gently caressed the bare branch, and faintly, it felt like the eight lunar months from a hundred years ago.
She had picked a branch of Nian Jun’an and sent Xie Hongchen off from Xiancha Town. At the moment of parting, she gave him a branch of flowers, saying, “As you go on this journey, I don’t know if we’ll meet again. This flower blooms when it sees snow, and I’ve named it ‘Nian Jun’an’ (Yearning for Your Safety). From now on, whether at the ends of the earth or in the morning and evening, think of your safety during the season of blooming flowers.”
A hundred years flew by in the blink of an eye, quietly slipping through the fingers. Many people and things had faded away without a trace, but she still remembered the expression on the young man’s face when he received the branch of flowers.
Xie Hongchen, perhaps I still have some feelings after all.
It’s a pity that, in the end, I still have these feelings.
Xie Hongchen’s eyes welled up with blood, dripping onto the pages. The brush tip dipped in blood, and each word wept crimson. Yet he finally finished writing the farewell letter. Although he was blind, his handwriting remained beautiful. Just like his character, neat and orderly. Some people expected to see a trace of desolation or dishevelment on his face. But there was none.
He knew his situation well, yet he remained serene like a gentle breeze and clear like the moon.
Di Yiqiu had a round with Xie Yuanshu and then stepped back. He calmly received the farewell letter and neatly folded it before tucking it into his embrace. Xie Yuanshu continued to shout and curse, but no one paid him any attention.
Among the people present, each one was a leader in their own right. In terms of skills, none of them were lacking.
At this moment, someone took the lead to eradicate the evil and eliminate the wicked. Even if it was for reputation’s sake, these people would never stand idly by.
And when it came to dealing with highly skilled villains, they had the most experience ganging up on them. Forget about righteousness and morality. They each preserved some energy, focusing solely on consumption. Xie Yuanshu’s talent was lacking, with limited combat experience, and he had yet to fully assimilate the internal strength of others.
After being drained for a few rounds like this, he lost his morale.
The immortal sects besieged him for a total of three hours.
However, only a few people suffered minor injuries, a cost too insignificant to measure. The loss of artifacts was greater; after all, many talismans and elixirs were consumables. Di Yiqiu didn’t mind, as he had more important matters at hand.
He arranged for Bao Wu to accompany Xie Shaochong in cleaning up the scene, and then he was about to leave Emerald Peak. Just as he was about to depart, Xie Hongchen suddenly said, “Di Yiqiu!”
Di Yiqiu halted his steps, and Xie Hongchen asked, “Between you and her… Is there something I don’t know?”
In fact, he shouldn’t have asked. He had always been calm and rational, and at this point, it was meaningless to delve into the root of the matter.
But in the end, he still asked such a question.
Most likely… there was still lingering unease in his heart.
Di Yiqiu ignored him and quickened his pace towards Qilu Terrace.
He stepped through the semicircular arch and saw Huang Rang leaning against the railing of the triangular pavilion. Sunlight shone on her, casting a golden-red hue on her dress and creating a blurred illusion.
“Let’s go; I’ll take you back.” He reached out his hand to her, but his fingertips couldn’t touch her.
The world began to distort and transform, with everything becoming illusory and returning to formlessness.
The tea needle in Huang Rang’s hand finally melted away completely.
T/N: Yun Ji is the most typical hairstyle among women in the Wei Jin and North and South Dynasties, which is to comb the sideburns into a thin piece, like cicada wings, to give people a sense of floating, ethereal beauty.