T/N : OmGGGGG!!!!…thank you so much for the coffee… G… It is nice knowing you like this series. I almost feel like dropping this novel…Anyhow, thanks to you, I will continue to finish up this novel ASAP… hehe
Yuhu immortal sect, Outer Sect
Xie Lingbi made his way into the commercial building, where several shopkeepers were already very anxious. He entered Xie Yuanshu’s room and found him lying on the bed, weak and feeble. Xie Lingbi approached and checked his pulse, feeling that although his breath was weak, his internal strength had increased significantly!
Of course, this was to be expected. In the dream realm, he had absorbed the cultivation of both Xie Lingbi and Xie Hongchen.
Xie Lingbi had the intention to strike him dead with a single palm, but ultimately, he only had this one bloodline left.
He let out a sigh and could only say, “Arrange for Baicao Peak to treat him. This matter must be kept secret. No one is allowed to mention it if asked.”
The shopkeepers all agreed in unison. They were people brought over by Xie Lingbi, cautious in nature and tight-lipped. Xie Lingbi wasn’t too worried since he had arranged everything properly for Xie Yuanshu. Suddenly, he asked, “Last night, did any of you have any dreams?”
“This…” The four shopkeepers proceeded to describe their dreams from the previous night. Unsurprisingly, all four of them had the same dream.
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The terrace’s surrounding walls were white, covered with gray glazed tiles. Standing in front of the crescent-shaped arch, one could see the exquisite and compact courtyard inside. Xie Hongchen stepped inside, and naturally, this place was not desolate.
The eaves and small pavilions remained immaculately clean, with stone tables and stone stools still in place. The Bailu Pond’s water was clear and pristine, and next to it grew a peculiar plum tree known as Nian Jun’an.
This scenery instantly overlapped with the dream from the previous night.
Xie Hongchen slowly stepped forward, memories falling like scattered fragments. The true love between him and her, their hundred-year marriage, had always been confined within this small realm. Here, he had witnessed the most beautiful landscapes of the mortal world. He allowed her to bloom without restraint; he had indulged and been infatuated.
Upon leaving this place, Xie Hongchen was a detached and unworldly sect master, free from desires. She was the gentle and virtuous sect master’s wife, both beautiful and intelligent. They respected each other like guests—distant and reserved.
Xie Hongchen suppressed all of his emotions, his rationality’s blade severing and dispersing the memories without a trace.
He approached the edge of Bailu Pond, gazing at its calm and ripple-less surface. In the dream from the previous night, she cried and said, “If you had truly looked for me, you would have seen what I left behind in the Bailu Pond. You never looked for me! You never looked for me…”
His face reflected in the waters of Bailu Pond, meeting his cold gaze.
After a moment of hesitation, Xie Hongchen raised his right hand, and a shining copper mirror appeared in his grasp. The mirror reflected upon the pool’s surface, and in an instant, the water became transparent, revealing every grain of sand and silt within.
With a wave of his robe sleeve, the water rippled but remained clear. And in that moment, something startling emerged from the dusty sand. Xie Hongchen put away the copper mirror and grasped it in his right hand. The object seemed to possess sentience as it abruptly broke free from the water and landed in his palm.
Xie Hongchen washed it in the pond water and discovered that it was a white jade “bi”.
Throughout the entire Yuhu immortal sect, to avoid using the Elder Ancestor’s name, no one was named with the character “bi.”
But coincidentally, what was found at the bottom of the Bailu Pond was a piece of jade ‘bi’.
Xie Hongchen held the white ‘bi’ in his hand, and what seeped through his fingers wasn’t droplets of water but ten years of time. At least several parts of Huang Rang’s words in the dream were true. She said she was subjected to the torment of the Soul-binding Bone-Setting Needle by the Elder Ancestor and imprisoned within the mountain.
She said there was flickering talisman light there, and a rat had gnawed off half of the face of the person opposite her. She said she left something in the Bailu Pond, and if Xie Hongchen saw it, he would be able to guess her whereabouts.
Xie Hongchen closed his eyes and lightly massaged his brow.
His injured eye began to ache, causing a throbbing sensation in his head. He struggled to stop thinking about Huang Rang, as it prevented him from thinking calmly.
He didn’t venture further inside, as that was Huang Rang’s dwelling. Xie Hongchen hadn’t visited much since her disappearance. Xie Hongchen turned around, leaving this realm, and as he stepped out of the crescent-shaped arch, he heard a faint voice calling, “Hongchen?”
Xie Hongchen tightly clenched his hands, resisting the urge to turn back. All illusions were mere obstacles.
He decisively left the Qilu Terrace, but it seemed that someone gentle was watching from behind.
—Every time he left in the past, that person would stand in front of the arch, smiling as they bid farewell. He never looked back, but he always knew.
“Master,” a disciple said before him.
Xie Hongchen was startled and only then realized that he had arrived at the foot of the mountain, with Xie Li, his second disciple, standing before him. He composed himself and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Xie Li, witnessing his master’s distracted state for the first time, said, “Master, Junior Sister suddenly suffered a great loss of power and cannot regain her human form.” As he spoke, he raised his hand, revealing a golden cicada resting in his palm—none other than Xie Jiuer.
Xie Hongchen knew the reason well—In that strange dream, Xie Jiuer’s internal energy was also drained. Being young and not having high cultivation to begin with, this loss would undoubtedly affect her foundation.
However, Xie Hongchen couldn’t spare any attention for her at the moment and could only say, “Take her to Baicao Peak for proper treatment.”
Xie Jiuer, now in her original form as a golden cicada, crawled back and forth in Xie Li’s palm. She naturally understood those words. But with the loss of her power, what could Baicao Peak do? She would have to wait until she could resume her cultivation and regain her human form.
As a golden cicada, she was able to attain human form in just a few decades. One reason was her natural intelligence, and the other…
Xie Jiuer suddenly remembered someone. The second reason was that someone spared no effort to cultivate her with precious elixirs and miraculous medicines.
While in Xie Li’s palm, shedding tears of grievance, she unexpectedly thought of that person again—the person she once regarded as her mother, with whom she had a close and intimate relationship. Xie Jiuer suddenly thought that if that person were still here, she might find a solution for her.
This thought confused her. She hadn’t thought of Huang Rang for many years. Only now, when she was going through a particularly difficult time, did the image of that person suddenly become clear in her mind. She recalled how, in her childhood, Huang Rang cherished her deeply.
Huang Rang would buy her beautiful dresses and braid her hair meticulously. At that time, her adoptive father rarely came to the Qilu Terrace, and she and Huang Rang would seek comfort in each other, spending a period of joyful time together.
Last night’s dream must be her revenge.
—She must hate me to death now. Xie Jiuer crawled in exhaustion, helplessly resting in the palm of her second senior brother. In a long-forgotten memory, there was a time when she went shopping with Huang Rang. Huang Rang bought her many delicious and fun things.
Until she couldn’t walk anymore, she tugged at Huang Rang’s clothes and said, “Mother, Jiuer can’t walk anymore. Jiuer wants you to carry her.”
“You, what kind of golden cicada are you? You’re just a lazy bug!” Huang Rang transformed her back into her insect form and let her rest in the palm of her hand, carrying her home.
Later… there was no “later.” After Xie Jiuer moved from the Qilu Terrace to Emerald Peak, she no longer called Huang Rang “Mother.” She detested the fact that it was Huang Rang who found her, which led to her adoptive father’s coldness towards her. She pretended to be distant and referred to Huang Rang as her adoptive mother, and indeed, she received her adoptive father’s careful cultivation.
But later on, she no longer had a mother.
She didn’t know why she was recalling these past events. She thought she had long forgotten them.
Xie Li put Xie Jiuer back into his sleeve and continued, “Earlier, He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou came to visit. They want to see the Sect Master.”
Xie Hongchen was not surprised and said, “Let’s go. Accompany me to meet them.”
Arriving at the guest hall, He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou were already seated, and a disciple served them fragrant tea.
He Xijin picked up the teacup, and as the slightly warm tea touched his lips, someone outside announced, “The Sect Master has arrived!”
The three of them quickly stood up. Although they were older in age, Xie Hongchen was now the Sect Master of the Yuhu Immortal Sect. Each of them respectfully greeted him, and Xie Hongchen responded with warmth.
After they all took their seats again, He Xijin began, “Last… last night…”
Zhang Shuju smoothly continued, making one feel sorry for his proficiency, “Last night, we had a strange dream and felt uneasy, so we came to pay respects to Sect Master Xie.”
Xie Hongchen, naturally, wasn’t surprised. He said, “I won’t hide it from you. This dream was quite bizarre. In the dream, my eyes were injured, and I lost all my cultivation.”
After waking up from the dream, his eyes were sore, swollen, and painful, and his vision was blurred. His cultivation also suffered some damage.
He was so frank that He Xijin, Zhang Shujiu, and Wu Zichou couldn’t help but feel guilty. Before coming, they had thought about how to deal with Xie Hongchen if he intended to deceive them.
In retrospect, they were thinking with a petty mindset, suspecting the noble intentions of a gentleman.
He Xijin said, “Se-Sect, Sect Master…”
Zhang Shuju said, “Sect Master Xie, you have suffered. We are very grateful for your informing us. This dream is strange, and now people are filled with anxiety. It seems that there may be changes in the heavens. We specifically came here to discuss countermeasures with the sect master.”
Wu Zichou didn’t have so many reservations and asked directly, “Sect Master Xie, to be honest, we are very puzzled. With your cultivation and wisdom, how could you be ambushed and attacked by Xie Yuanshu, the eldest son of elder Xie, in the dream?”
He went straight to the point, leaving Xie Hongchen momentarily stunned. Naturally, he couldn’t reveal Huang Rang, as the entire strange dream revolved around her as the biggest suspicious point. The time in the dream was ten years ago, the last time he and she had met.
Everyone’s memories stopped at that time, and only she knew about the events that happened ten years later. And she did all of this to deal with his own master, seeking revenge for the past.
It seemed that she even resembled the origin of this dream.
Xie Hongchen’s mind was clear, but the facts were unclear at the moment. If he rashly mentioned her, it might not be favorable for her. Xie Hongchen could only say, “It was chaotic for a moment in the dream, just a moment of carelessness. It’s embarrassing to have made the esteemed seniors laugh.”
His words were ambiguous, but He Xijin and the others didn’t inquire further. After all, as the Sect Master and the Elder Ancestor, they had suffered such a big loss and still had no place for revenge. They were probably quite frustrated. Ultimately, digging into the root of the matter would only annoy people.
Instead, Xie Hongchen continued, “To be ashamed, in these years, the Yuhu Immortal Sect has been dedicated to cultivating the Dao and has seldom interfered with the mortal world. With such a major incident this time, I believe there should have been signs in the mortal realm. I wonder if the three of you have heard any rumors?”
He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou naturally pondered for a long time. Wu Zichou said, “Actually, in recent years, both the immortal sects and the mortal realm have been very peaceful. The Celestial Court and the Yuhu Immortal Sect have been actively resolving peculiar and abnormal cases reported by the people. Apart from rampant fraudsters, we haven’t heard of anything else.”
Zhang Shujiu frowned and suddenly said, “Speaking of which, there was a recent case that was transferred from the government to the Celestial Court.”
When he mentioned the three words “Celestial Court,” Xie Hongchen’s heart trembled.
After all, these three words had always been linked to another person, Di Yiqiu. And in the dream, the divorce letter that Di Yiqiu demanded was still stuck in his throat.
Zhang Shuju continued, “I heard from Bao Wu that it’s a missing person case. Someone impersonated the Yuhu Immortal Sect and deceived young children under the pretext of accepting disciples. In the end, all the children disappeared without a trace. Initially, the government concluded it was a missing person case, but later, for some reason, the Chief ordered the case files to be sent back to the Celestial Court.”
“A case of missing children?” Xie Hongchen frowned and turned to Xie Li, asking, “Is there such a thing?”
Xie Li hurriedly said, “Replying to the Sect Master, there have been many instances of deception and abduction in the mortal realm. This matter involved people who came seeking their lost children, but it was the work of fraudsters and had nothing to do with demons or evil spirits. Disciples took care of reporting it to the officials.”
Xie Hongchen’s heart slowly tightened, but his expression remained unchanged as he said, “Regardless of whether it involves demons or not, those who dare to deceive using the name of the Yuhu Immortal Sect cannot be tolerated. Go fetch the case files and let’s thoroughly examine them while the three seniors are here.”
Xie Li hurriedly replied, “Yes.”
In no time, two boxes of case files were brought over. Not to mention He Xijin and the others; even Xie Hongchen himself was shocked when he looked at them—so many cases of missing children?
He stood up and clasped his hands towards He Xijin and the others, saying, “I must trouble the three seniors. Come, someone, serve wine for the three seniors.”
He Xijin and the others were always eager to uphold justice, and now that they heard there was good wine, they naturally said, “We’re just eliminating harm for the people, Sect Master Xie; no need to be polite.”
A disciple came forward and replaced the tea on the table with wine. The four of them drank while reviewing the case files, making it less boring.
However, the case files made them furrow their brows constantly. Zhang Shuju said, “There is no pattern in terms of the time and location of the incidents, and the fraudsters include both men and women. After so many years, not a single missing child has been found. It’s truly horrifying.”
Wu Zichou was even angrier: “The court has neglected its duties!”
Xie Hongchen flipped through the case files while saying, “Speaking of this matter, it’s also negligence on the part of the Yuhu Immortal Sect.” He quickly scanned the files and suddenly exclaimed, “Hmm?!”
He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou all looked at him, and Xie Hongchen quickly compared the other case files before saying, “Seniors, these cases are not without a pattern!”
The three of them were stunned, and Xie Hongchen continued, “Seniors, please look at this child. His father longed for a child in his old age and cherished him like a treasure. This one, from a lineage of four generations with no siblings, is considered the heir to carry on the family line. And this one, born into a hunter’s family, is very strong. It seems the parents had high expectations for him. And this girl, born beautiful, had her parents hire renowned teachers and spare no expense in nurturing her.”
He listed the peculiarities of each of these children one by one, and a realization flashed in He Xijin’s mind: “The most, the most…”
Xie Hongchen nodded and said, “All the abducted children were the most beloved ones by their parents. Everyone, I remember that in the eighty-second year of Chengyuan, there was a rampant epidemic. Countless children were sold cheaply. But even in that year, the abducted and deceived children were still the same.”
“Why is that? Ransom?” Wu Zichou asked, but he quickly denied it himself: “If it’s ransom, the court surely wouldn’t have any clues at all.”
Xie Hongchen said, “No matter. Now that we have clues, as long as the Immortal Sect and the court work together with a common goal, we will surely catch the criminals in the act.”
Zhang Shuju said, “We will inform our sect to be vigilant and see which families’ children match the characteristics.”
Xie Hongchen hummed and said, “The three of you should also inform the Celestial Court that the Immortal Sect and the court should no longer separate their interests when it comes to eliminating harm for the people. The court officials are spread throughout the various regions, and they are much more convenient in handling matters than the Immortal Sect.”
He earnestly advised them, and He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou blushed a bit—after all, not long ago, they had infiltrated another sect and stolen someone’s wife.
The three of them bid farewell awkwardly. Once they were outside the mountain gate, Wu Zichou sighed, “Sect Master Xie is truly straightforward and unmatched in wisdom. It’s truly admirable.”
Zhang Shuju also said, “I originally thought he held grudges against the Celestial Court and would never cooperate. I didn’t expect him to be so magnanimous, it’s embarrassing. Speaking of which, Xie Lingbi has a good eye for people.”
He Xijin said, “The, the, the wife…”
Zhang Shuju also said, “We understand Big Brother’s meaning. We shouldn’t have kept the matter of Madam Xie a secret from him. But after all, the person has already been stolen. And now they are being kept by Di Yiqiu. After all, we are outsiders, unaware of the reasons behind it. How should we explain?”
He Xijin also remained silent. The three of them could only keep this guilty secret and return to the Celestial Court.
The Celestial Court, Black Tortoise Bureau
As soon as He Xijin returned, he instinctively went to the guest room; he had to report to his wife first.
Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou were already accustomed to this. The two of them went together to find Di Yiqiu. Di Yiqiu had just returned with Huang Rang and sent her back to the bedroom. He himself was in the study, organizing the spoils he had acquired through his exploits today. There were several boxes filled with clothes, jewelry, and embroidered shoes.
The servants didn’t know what they were, so they had them brought to the study.
Di Yiqiu casually picked up a hairpin and gestured it near his head, imagining the effect, when Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou entered through the door.
The two of them looked at the hairpin he held against his own hair and its intricate and exquisite design, and it seemed like he was about to adorn himself. Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou were suddenly shocked.
Di Yiqiu could only silently put down the hairpin; there was no good way to explain it. He had to pretend as if nothing had happened and ask, “Why don’t I see Master He?”
Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou coughed lightly, pretending they hadn’t seen anything. Zhang Shuju said, “He went to his room to report to Madam.”
“He Xijin is truly…” the Chief pondered for a moment and praised, “He has good family education.”
“Cough, cough.” Zhang Shuju and Wu Zichou immediately interjected, “Let’s talk about the main matter. Let’s talk about the main matter.”
The two of them recounted everything that happened at the Yuhu Immortal Sect today, especially the case of the missing abducted children. In their words, they couldn’t help but praise Xie Hongchen as a gentleman of integrity and exceptional intelligence. The Chief listened with a smile on his face, but a cloud of darkness formed in his heart.
—Hmm. Tomorrow, I will go to the Imperial Court and propose imposing taxes on the Immortal Sect.