Xie Hongchen turned his body slightly, pretending not to have heard Di Yiqiu’s words.
What could He XiJin and the others do? It seemed like these two people were just naturally incompatible.
Wu Zichou said, “It’s more important to catch the impostor first.”
Zhang Shuju also agreed, “Exactly, exactly.”
Finally, Xie Hongchen said, “There’s no need to startle the snake. If we follow them, we might be able to find out the whereabouts of the other children.”
“Master Xie has considered it thoroughly. Today, we must expose the true identity of this impostor and see who they really are.” Zhang Shuju quickly spoke up.
His words caused a moment of silence. Xie Hongchen didn’t respond because the “divine identity” behind it could possibly be his master. Di Yiqiu didn’t speak for a similar reason—revealing that it was Shi Wenyu would be difficult to explain.
So Di Yiqiu said, “Such trivial matters don’t require everyone’s effort. Master Xie, if your eyesight is inconvenient, it would be better for you to go back and rest. When there’s news, the Celestial Court will naturally inform you, Master.”
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“Mbyv oswze vawzu cl altalvvyczl.” Pk Zkikw’p hsknl oyp nbkzzu.
Mbl vos sq vblx olal yv seep, xyjkdt kv kxrsppkczl qsa Tl DkKkd yde vbl svblap vs kdvlahldl.
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Tl oyp pjkzzle, yde vbl clye nbykd oyp kdvaknyvlzu oshld. Dkl Tsdtnbld nswzed’v blzr cwv tzydnl yv kv—pwnb y qydnu vbkdt, kv nswzed’v rsppkczu cl psxlvbkdt bl bkxplzq oswze olya?!
But given his relationship with Di Yiqiu, he naturally wouldn’t ask further.
They followed the group of impostors until they reached a dock. Seeing the children being taken onto a ship, Di Yiqiu had no choice but to summon the Azure Sky Treasure Ship from the Celestial Court and chase after them with the ship.
The group stood at the bow of the ship, watching as it sailed through rivers and finally flowed into the sea. This…
All they could see was an expanse of azure blue, with the ship sailing like ants on the sea. Di Yiqiu and Xie Hongchen wore grave expressions—it didn’t seem like the doing of Xie Lingbi or Shi Wenyu to take the children overseas.
However, these impostors had done exactly that.
They sold the children at a foreign market and enjoyed themselves in the local area. With no other leads in sight, Di Yiqiu had no choice but to order the net to be closed.
Due to close surveillance, quite a few of the children were successfully found. However, these impostors truly left them puzzled. The personnel from the Celestial Court and the Yuhu Immortal Sect quickly tied them up and brought them onto the Azure Sky Treasure Ship.
There were four men and one woman among the impostors, with an elderly man as their leader. The remaining three strong men were his sons. The servants and attendants were all hired laborers. Among their belongings, there were only a few sets of clothing from the Yuhu Immortal Sect. Although they were members of the immortal sect, their cultivation levels were not high.
Surprisingly, Xie Hongchen couldn’t help but mockingly say, “It seems that the case is indeed complicated. No wonder the imperial court and officials have been searching for a hundred years without results.”
Di Yiqiu swallowed the sarcastic remark, and Bao Wu brought over a chair. Di Yiqiu sat on the chair and skillfully weaved flowers with his ten fingers, asking, “Who is the leader?”
The main culprit clenched his teeth and remained silent.
Di Yiqiu wasn’t surprised and pointed to the youngest man kneeling on the side. Bao Wu immediately understood and dragged the strong man out.
“What… What are you going to do?” the old man immediately spoke up.
Di Yiqiu handed the partially woven bead chain to Bao Wu and took a charcoal pencil. He drew a circle around the strong man.
Bao Wu also glanced down at the bead chain. It was intricately woven, with each coral bead transparent and beautiful—truly eye-catching. But it was so delicate… Could only a woman wear it?
After drawing the circle with the charcoal pencil, Di Yiqiu took out a silk handkerchief and began wiping his hands. Once his hands were clean, he took the bead chain again and continued weaving flowers.
At that moment, a scream rang out. Everyone looked up and saw snow falling on the Azure Sky Treasure Ship. The snowflakes landed elsewhere, sparkling and beautiful. Only when they fell into the circle drawn by Di Yiqiu did they instantly turn red, like molten iron!
The molten iron dripped onto the prisoner within the circle, sizzling and emitting white smoke, with the scent of cooked meat gradually spreading.
The prisoner was initially stunned but soon reacted. He looked up, and the red snowflakes fell onto his face. Instantly, his face was dotted with small, deep pits caused by burning.
“Ah!” he screamed hoarsely, rolling frantically, trying to escape from the black circle drawn by the charcoal pencil.
But it was futile. He was like hitting an invisible wall, only able to scream and struggle desperately. The nauseating scent of cooked meat filled the air.
“Stop! Stop!” The remaining four main culprits trembled uncontrollably, and the old man couldn’t help but shout. Of course, Di Yiqiu wouldn’t stop, and all they could do was watch as the red snowflakes fell one by one.
The strong man within the circle had been rolling and screaming in agony, but gradually he stopped moving. His eyes were burned into two gaping holes, and not a single patch of his flesh was intact. Only when the snowflakes fell did his body tremble slightly.
Bao Wu glanced at Di Yiqiu, and it was only then that Di Yiqiu asked, “How many crimes have you committed in total?”
The white-haired old man, witnessing the scene just now, was already terrified. Trembling, he said, “Over twenty crimes. We took away around three hundred children in total.”
Di Yiqiu carefully threaded the beads and asked, “Who hired you to do this?”
The old man trembled and said, “No… no one. It was my greed that led to this…”
“Heh.” Di Yiqiu chuckled lightly and said, “You took nine children across the river and into the sea, and for what? To make a meager profit? Your greed is truly special, engaging in such a loss-making business.”
The old man was stunned and couldn’t speak for a while. Di Yiqiu raised his hand again, and Bao Wu dragged another man into the black circle drawn by the charcoal pencil.
“No, please, sir, don’t! I’ll talk, I’ll talk!” The scent of cooked meat on the ship was getting stronger, and the old man was so frightened that he could hardly speak clearly. He said, “It was… it was…” The old man seemed to have given up resistance, but as he choked on his words, he continued, “It was…”
Xie Hongchen and Di Yiqiu sensed that something was wrong and rushed over. They clamped their hands over his mouth, but it was too late! A tongue of fire burst out of his mouth. The two of them had to let go of him and retreat to avoid it. In no time, his whole body was burned to black ashes.
His three sons and daughter also burst into flames simultaneously. They didn’t spare the severely injured person within the circle either.
He XiJin, and the other two were shocked. “It’s a Forbidden Speech Technique!”
Di Yiqiu waved his sleeve to fend off the flames, his gaze growing even darker. The Forbidden Speech Technique was not an exclusive technique of any particular sect. Nowadays, there are many practitioners.
Usually, the practitioner sets up forbidden words in the technique. Once the target tries to speak those forbidden words, they immediately suffer from the technique and die.
The manner of death varies, but the situation is the same.
At this point, both Xie Hongchen and Di Yiqiu felt as if a huge stone was pressing on their hearts.
Di Yiqiu weaved another round of bead chain and then said, “Search the sea market, retrieve the abducted children, and hand them over to the authorities for proper handling. In addition, post notices in various counties and recite them day and night to warn the people, preventing them from being deceived.”
Bao Wu acknowledged it, and everyone glanced at the scattered black ashes on the ground, their expressions heavy.
These impostors had abducted children and hastily sold them, despite the long distances involved. If not for money, then why? The person behind them had already set up the forbidden speech technique, clearly having a deep understanding of immortal sect methods. Who was this person?
Neither of them dared to guess. Xie Hongchen suspected Xie Lingbi, while Di Yiqiu suspected Shi Wenyu even more.
But the clues had completely disappeared here.
The Azure Sky Treasure Ship, carrying the rescued children, was ready to return. However, Xie Hongchen suddenly said, “Di Yiqiu.”
Di Yiqiu stood on the deck, still weaving the bead chain in his hand, and asked, “What instructions does Master Xie have?”
Xie Hongchen’s eyes were hidden behind the gauze veil, and his expression was cold. He thought for a long time, but in the end, he didn’t ask anything and left on his flying sword.
The white-robed Sword Immortal, soaring on his sword, his clothes billowing in the wind, exuded a radiant elegance. Bao Wu, who saw this on the deck, couldn’t help but mutter, “This damn Sword Immortal is spouting nonsense—so arrogant!”
Di Yiqiu’s gaze was cold as he said, “Deputy Chief Bao, after you return, pack your belongings.”
“What?” Bao Wu hurriedly asked, “Where does the master want to send me?”
Di Yiqiu turned around and walked into the cabin, saying, “If you admire Xie Hongchen so much, why not go to the Yuhu Immortal Sect tomorrow and become his disciple?”
Uh…. Bao Wu scratched his head and immediately protested, “Master, on my conscience, I, old Bao, am completely loyal to you!”
Di Yiqiu ignored Bao Wu, who was catching up to him, and snorted coldly in his heart—Xie Hongchen must have wanted to ask about the Huang Rang matter, but he never opened his mouth. This person truly knows how to endure.
He turned around and ordered the Azure Sky Treasure Ship to return to Camel Fort. As for the Lord Supervisor himself, he had another destination in mind.
The White Bone Cliff.
Miao Yunzhi had diagnosed the condition of Huang Rang but didn’t dare to remove the Soul-Binding Bone-Fixing Needles. He only treated her with acupuncture and medicinal baths.
After taking a medicinal bath, Huang Rang naturally felt refreshed and invigorated. Several junior sisters eagerly helped her put on clothes and neatly style her hair. She had many dresses and hair accessories. Although the girls lived a carefree life on the White Bone Cliff, they rarely experienced the world of beauty.
So whenever they looked at her jewelry, they could play with it for a long time.
When Di Yiqiu entered, five or six girls were fighting to see the box of pearl flowers that Huang Rang had.
Upon seeing him, everyone blushed and hurriedly tried to run away. Di Yiqiu glanced over and saw that Huang Rang was dressed neatly, her hairstyle meticulously done. He knew that everyone had taken good care of her, so he didn’t mind. Instead, he took out a few bead chains and said, “Ah Rang has limited mobility, so I trouble the female physicians here. I personally wove a few hair ties and hope that you will accept them.”
His bead chains were made of ice silk threads with coral flowers, intricately and beautifully woven. What’s more, at the end of the bead strings were his seal and signature. This was the handiwork of the Chief of the Celestial Court! The girls couldn’t resist, and each took one in the end.
With the bead chains in hand, the girls giggled and ran off.
Only then did Di Yiqiu approach Huang Rang. He squatted down and lightly touched her face with the back of his hand. Huang Rang had just finished her medicinal bath, and her body still emitted a fragrance resembling flowers and medicine. Her small face was moisturized and as delicate as a blown bubble.
Di Yiqiu said, “It seems that the water and soil of the White Bone Cliff are truly nourishing.”
Huang Rang didn’t reply, not even in her heart. In fact, whether she was at the White Bone Cliff or the Celestial Court, what difference did it make to her? But… she did miss him a little. Perhaps when she lay alone in bed at night, she still felt a sense of emptiness.
Di Yiqiu held her fingertips and asked, “Huang Rang, what exactly happened to you?”
Huang Rang remained silent. Before long, Miao Yunzhi came in. Di Yiqiu quickly withdrew his hand, and Miao Yunzhi snorted coldly, throwing a few medicine packets at him and pointing to the bathtub in the room, saying, “Brat, you also soak for half an hour. It’s good for the blood poison in your body.”
Di Yiqiu took the medicine packets in his hand, and a puppet brought in hot water. The White Bone Cliff was actually short of manpower, and Miao Yunzhi didn’t easily accept medicine attendants. These dozen or so puppets provided timely assistance. No wonder He Shouwu’s attitude had changed so dramatically.
Once the hot water was ready, Di Yiqiu pushed Huang Rang towards the window, facing the outside, and undressed himself before stepping into the bathtub.
Outside the window was a cliff, and no one would pass by. Huang Rang was resentful: Why should I not be able to see you bathing? And why does everyone else have bead chains except me?!
Di Yiqiu clearly didn’t understand her petty thoughts. He soaked in the bathtub, and the medicine packets contained unknown herbs, coloring the hot water around him a dark red.
In the white mist, Di Yiqiu closed his eyes. And at this moment, Huang Rang’s head began to throb sharply, and countless voices echoed in her mind. It was a familiar feeling once again.
Just like the previous dream!
Huang Rang no longer felt pain; she was even filled with anticipation.
Now, only in her dreams could she completely break free from her confinement and be truly free. She quietly waited as the cries of misery seemed to come from the distant Yuhu Immortal Sect, from that dark and sunless secret room!
Huang Rang seemed to see flickering symbol lights and the eerie and distorted expressions on the faces of people surging in the darkness, filled with resentment and pain.
Sure enough, in the end, she was suddenly pulled by a strange force, completely breaking free from her physical body.
It was the tower again.
Eight jade steps, nine golden towers
At the top of the tower, that person was still standing. The wind howled around, and heavy snowflakes danced. He looked down at Huang Rang from a high vantage point and smiled. “How does freedom taste?”
Huang Rang wanted to see his face clearly, but the shattered light from the golden tower pressed her down, making it impossible for her to raise her head. She could only lower it, and the person raised his hand and threw something down, saying, “Go on, enjoy your feast.”
The object made a clinking sound as it landed at her feet. Huang Rang picked it up, and it was a tea needle, identical to the one before.
When the melting began, it represented the collapse of the entire dream.
“Who… are you?” Huang Rang struggled to speak.
But the person on the tower didn’t answer. Of course, he wouldn’t answer. Huang Rang wasn’t even surprised. She tightly held the tea needle that felt like icy jade, and the world before her eyes suddenly changed!
In a trance, Huang Rang saw a small courtyard!
The courtyard was filled with numerous flower pots, each cultivating a different variety. Huang Rang’s consciousness briefly blurred, and the scene before her transitioned from illusion to reality. When she regained her senses, she found herself sitting on a reclining chair under the eaves, holding the transparent tea needle in her hand.
This was… Huang Family’s small courtyard in Xiancha Town, her own courtyard.
Due to her father’s numerous children, Huang Rang was the only one in the entire Huang Family with her own independent courtyard. She had lived here until her marriage.
Huang Rang inserted the tea needle into her hair and got up to inspect the seedlings in the flower pots. They were a different variety of beans that she was cultivating—she had truly returned.
She had returned to Xiancha Town over a hundred years ago.
At that moment, the maid, Dai Yue, came in and reported, “Miss Ten, Master requests your presence to meet a guest. He says the Eighty-Sixth Prince has arrived.”
The Eighty-Sixth… Prince?
Huang Rang’s expression suddenly became strange—What the heck! She was about to ask when she suddenly remembered Di Yiqiu.
Ah! She almost forgot that he was also a prince. But she couldn’t really blame herself—who could remember the Eighty-Sixth Prince?!
Why was he coming?
Huang Rang turned around and asked Dai Yue, “What year is it now?”
“What?!” Dai Yue was astonished and tongue-tied. “Miss Ten, it is currently the beginning of the Chengyuan era.”
Chengyuan era, Huang Rang slowly recalled the timeline. After seeking the Dao of longevity, Shi Wenyu changed the era name to Chengyuan. In the fifth year of Chengyuan, Di Yiqiu proposed to her and was rejected. In the same year, she married Xie Hongchen. And now…
Ah, the beginning of the Chengyuan era. The court had predicted a severe drought in the following year and was searching everywhere for earth spirits to cultivate drought-resistant good strains.
Accompanied by Dai Yue, Huang Rang arrived at the main hall. Huang Shu and a young man were already seated as host and guest, with two attendants guarding them on both sides.
The young man was dressed in purple official attire, with a gold fish bag at his waist and black official boots. When he heard the sound, he turned his head, revealing the young Di Yiqiu from years ago. At this moment, he didn’t resemble his dog-like appearance a hundred years later.
The young man before her was elegant, youthful, and had clear, vibrant eyes.
Huang Rang had already forgotten about their meeting, considering that everything that had transpired, from her perspective at that time, was as insignificant as Di Yiqiu’s ranking among the princes.
—How could she remember all of that?