Xie Hongchen released Huang Rang’s hand and pondered a thousand times in his heart, but there was not a trace of information about this person.
He couldn’t explain the shock he felt when he first saw this woman.
Of course, Huang Rang noticed his distraction. After serving him for a hundred years, she could perceive even the slightest change in his expression. She covered the injury on her shoulder and endured the pain as she said, “Master’s kindness; this maiden will repay it later. I… I…” She held her shoulder, pretending to collapse, feigning unconsciousness. Xie Hongchen wouldn’t let her fall to the ground, of course.
He reached out and supported Huang Rang, then pondered for a moment before asking, “Where does this young lady live?”
As soon as this question came out, the villagers started to talk all at once, eager to report everything they knew about Huang Rang’s family background to the Master.
Xie Hongchen, however, had already learned where Huang Rang lived. He carried her horizontally and walked towards her home.
Huang Rang allowed him to carry her. The distance was not far for Xie Hongchen, but for Huang Rang, it felt like a great distance. When they were at the Qilu Terrace all those years ago, if she acted cute enough, Xie Hongchen would occasionally carry her like this. They would walk from the courtyard all the way to her bedroom.
That distance was even closer, just a few steps away, but for her, it was like a never-ending journey. Closing her eyes, she opened herself up to every sensation in her body.
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Xie Hongchen, dressed in pure white, exuded a clear radiance. His presence was like an unreachable star or moon. He carried Huang Rang in and asked, “Where is the head of the household?”
His voice was ethereal, with the benevolence and condescension of a superior being.
Huang Shu hurried to his side, and instantly, he seemed much shorter. He said nervously, “This humble one is Huang Shu, the head of the Huang family. May I ask who you are…”
Xie Hongchen nodded gently and said kindly, “Xie Hongchen of the Yuhu Immortal Sect, paying respects to Elder Huang.”
His name was like a thunderous shock, leaving Huang Shu dumbfounded. It took him quite some time to stammer, “Oh… Oh…” Then he suddenly jolted and reacted, “Master Xie!”
For a moment, he didn’t know what else to say. Huang Shu kept rubbing his hands, finally managing to squeeze out, “How did your Immortal carriage arrive at Xiancha Town?”
Xie Hongchen frowned and asked, “Who is this young lady to you?” He had already noticed that the man before him didn’t seem to care much about the injured person.
Huang Shu hurriedly explained, “She is my tenth daughter, Huang Rang. Oh, my, what happened to her? Is she badly injured?” He quickly realized that this was a perfect opportunity to establish a connection with Xie Hongchen. He immediately said, “Master Xie, please take her to her room; I’ll go fetch a doctor.”
“No need.” Xie Hongchen followed his guidance and carried the person all the way into her courtyard. Huang Rang… He silently repeated her name in his heart. It was too familiar, as if they had an inexplicable entanglement from a previous life and were meeting again in this lifetime.
Even when he held her in his arms, there was only a tremor between them, as if they shared an indescribable affectionate bond.
“It… How could it be?” He is a cultivator, viewing desires as the root of evil. He has never had any women serve him by his side.
Xie Hongchen entered Huang Rang’s boudoir, which was adorned with golden curtains and had two small lucky bags hanging from jade hooks, exuding a gentle and lovely atmosphere typical of a young woman’s room. He placed her on the bed and casually took out a pill from his storage, feeding it to her.
Beside them, Huang Shu let out a sigh, looking extremely distressed. Xie Hongchen’s hand-refined pill was an incredibly valuable item.
The pill melted instantly as it entered Huang Rang’s mouth, eliminating the need to swallow it. Soon, she felt the medicine’s effect spreading through her body, cooling the wound. Xie Hongchen sat by the bed until Huang Shu suggested, “Since the Master is here, why not have a meal at our house and let us show some hospitality?”
Knowing Xie Hongchen’s character, he would not stay long in such a small town. Even when Huang Shu, who had a thick skin, extended the invitation, he didn’t hold much hope. However, to everyone’s surprise, Xie Hongchen replied, “I’ll take you up on that offer, Elder Huang.”
Huang Shu couldn’t believe his ears—his ancestors must be sending blessings from the afterlife! He had the honor of hosting the Master of the Yuhu Immortal Sect!
He quickly said, “I dare not refuse; I’ll personally arrange it!” With a glowing face, he commanded the servants to prepare the banquet, basking in the gazes of the villagers.
Meanwhile, Huang Rang knew she should wake up. She opened her eyes and tried to sit up. Xie Hongchen said, “The rat poison in your body has been neutralized. You only need to bandage the wound.”
Huang Rang tightened the outer robe around her and said, “Thanks to the Master’s help this time, I am indebted to you, and I will definitely repay this kindness.”
Xie Hongchen nodded and asked, “As an earth cultivator, why have you been studying the sword cultivation techniques? These books in your room are obviously meant for martial cultivators.”
Of course, it’s for you.
Huang Rang smiled inwardly but hesitated on her face. After a moment, she got off the bed, clasped her hands, and said, “It’s because I admire the elegance of sword immortals and have a heart that desires to explore the world and uphold justice, which is why I practice martial arts. I hope Master Xie doesn’t mind.”
Xie Hongchen made a sound of acknowledgment and pointed to an object on the table, asking, “What is this?”
Huang Rang followed his finger and saw the firefly. She smiled and said, “I’m naturally a bit dull-witted, and I tend to get distracted during cultivation. This… helps to keep me awake.”
Keep you awake?
Xie Hongchen reached out and tapped the firefly, then quickly pulled back his hand. It was evident that he understood the efficacy of this thing. He chuckled.
Huang Rang looked somewhat embarrassed and said, “It’s just a silly method, not worth mentioning.”
“You have a thirst for learning, which is commendable,” Xie Hongchen said without minding at all. He genuinely appreciated those who were eager to learn. He always took good care of his diligent disciples.
“Since you are so eager to learn, why do you only have a solid foundation and not any remarkable achievements?” he inquired.
Clearly, he thought Huang Rang’s cultivation was shallow. She replied, “Master, you don’t know. The Huang family is a clan of earth cultivators specializing in the cultivation of crops. My time for martial cultivation is limited to moments of leisure. It cannot be my main occupation.”
Xie Hongchen nodded. As a sect master, he understood the plight of these lower-level spirits. He casually said, “In that case, having a stable foundation and practicing efficiently is already quite commendable.”
Of course, that’s true. Outside the dream realm, how much effort did Huang Rang put into nurturing Xie Jiu’er?
With the effort she invested, how could Xie Hongchen possibly know?
Huang Rang showed a respectful expression and said, “I merely imitated without a master’s guidance, so I dare not cultivate recklessly.”
Xie Hongchen seemed satisfied with her response and said, “The path of cultivation is difficult and perilous. Blindly following a manual can indeed bring great danger.”
Huang Rang lowered her head, appearing somewhat dejected, and said, “I come from a humble background, and finding a prestigious master is not easy.”
Xie Hongchen nodded. He glanced again at the room where Huang Rang had many notes and records of her cultivation experiences. Many of her insights were truly remarkable.
— Of course, Huang Rang knew he would come today; how could she not be prepared? Moreover, though she didn’t cultivate martial arts outside the dream realm, she had been the Master’s wife in the Yuhu Immortal Sect for a hundred years. If you’ve never eaten pork, you’ve seen pigs running.
Xie Hongchen felt that this woman was extraordinary. Considering his temperament, he would probably have recommended her for entry into the immortal sect by now, but for some reason, he held back that thought.
He slowly walked out of Huang Rang’s boudoir, and she followed.
Xie Hongchen glanced around the courtyard and saw many seeds being nurtured. He casually asked, “As an earth spirit, have you cultivated any renowned plants?”
Huang Rang hesitated for a moment, then replied, “I… my interest lies elsewhere. I haven’t produced any extraordinary plants.”
Xie Hongchen asked the question casually, not expecting much. However, Huang Rang’s response surprised him.
— The Yuhu Immortal Sect had a probing eye set up in Xiancha Town. Although it was just a small town, as the sect master, he had checked it before. Huang Rang managed the entire Huang family’s business, but no extraordinary plants were produced. Wasn’t that quite strange?
He said, “I heard that there was a remarkable woman in the Huang family who cultivated Liang Mi and saved countless people during times of famine. She became quite famous.”
Huang Rang lightly sighed and said, “Yes, that’s true. The woman is named Dai Yue, and she’s my personal maidservant.”
Xie Hongchen nodded and said, “I heard she was once a slave, but as her master, you didn’t claim her accomplishments. It shows your purity of heart, which is quite rare.”
Is that really rare? The truly rare thing, Hongchen, is yet to come. Huang Rang thought to herself, but she remained respectful and composed on the surface, saying, “This… I cannot bear such flattery from the Master.”
After a brief conversation, Xie Hongchen had a favorable impression of Huang Rang.
She wasn’t swayed by his status; her words were appropriate, and her heart was pure. Moreover, observing her boudoir, he could tell she was diligent in her studies. She was a good prospect.
It’s difficult for lower-level spirits to enter the immortal sect, but with him here, it won’t be a problem.
Xie Hongchen didn’t know why he hesitated, but he just couldn’t bring himself to say it.
— Huang Rang, wrapped in his outer robe, made him feel particularly close to her.
At this moment, Dai Yue came in and approached Xie Hongchen, bowing and saying, “Master Xie, the banquet is ready. The head of the family invites you to the feast.”
Xie Hongchen nodded, and Huang Rang immediately said, “I’m willing to guide the Master, but entering the banquet like this may be inappropriate. Please allow me to change clothes.”
She was still wearing Xie Hongchen’s outer robe, and her clothes underneath were scratched by the rat monster, so she needed to change. Xie Hongchen didn’t mind and said, “Sure.”
Huang Rang gave him a graceful bow and then went inside to change.
Dai Yue stole a glance at the two, feeling like a thorn was stuck in her heart. It was the same as last time with Lord Di, and now, meeting Master Xie… she used the same trick again.
Of course, Xie Hongchen was unaware of her thoughts. He stood quietly under the eaves, waiting for Huang Rang.
The eaves were gray, and he was dressed all in white, as clean and pure as snow, without a speck of dust.
Dai Yue didn’t dare look at him again. “Is this servant Dai Yue?” Xie Hongchen had just heard Huang Rang mention this personal maidservant, and now he took another look. Dai Yue quickly said, “This servant has a humble name, and I don’t want to defile the Master’s ears.”
Xie Hongchen smiled. When he smiled, it was like thousands of snowflakes falling and flowers blooming in the mortal world. He said, “Everyone is the same; there’s no distinction of nobility or lowliness. I heard that during the beginning of the Chengyuan era, you cultivated Liang Mi and saved countless people. Miss Dai Yue, your merits are immeasurable.”
Dai Yue only knew that he was noble, but she didn’t expect him to be so kind and amiable. She immediately replied, “Master Xie is too kind; this servant dare not accept such praise.”
Xie Hongchen said, “I can see that you are not a true earth spirit but a half-fox with a remarkable bloodline. You must possess exceptional talents to achieve what you have.”
Dai Yue couldn’t dare accept such a compliment as “exceptional talents.” After all, he was Xie Hongchen, the first Sword Immortal of the Yuhu Immortal Sect, praising her? Her mind was a bit dizzy, but the feeling of being praised felt so good that she didn’t reveal the truth and instead said, “I’m ashamed.”
Xie Hongchen responded, “Why feel ashamed when you work for the welfare of the people?”
Dai Yue’s heart raced; Xie Hongchen’s words seemed to indicate he had a favorable impression of her! If he could help her break free from her slave status…
The more she thought about it, the more her heart fluttered. Besides the court, there was probably only the Yuhu Immortal Sect that could grant her a bright future. And all she needed was a simple word from Xie Hongchen!
Thinking this way, she sounded desolate as she said, “Dai Yue is just a humble maidservant, and any merit I have belongs to the head of the family. I dare not take credit.”
Xie Hongchen seemed contemplative and said, “Good deeds will bring rewards. You must have good fortune, Miss.”
He didn’t promise anything, but his words seemed to hold infinite possibilities.
Dai Yue was overjoyed.
At that moment, Huang Rang had changed her clothes. She came out of the room and gave a graceful bow, saying, “Thank you, Master Xie, for waiting so long. The Master’s robe… please allow me to keep it temporarily until it’s cleaned, then I will return it to you.” She left herself a way out, just in case Xie Hongchen didn’t take the bait, so she would have an excuse to find him.
“No problem,” Xie Hongchen said, calmly placing his hand behind his back. “Ah Rang, lead the way.”
The use of “Ah Rang” was overly intimate. As soon as the word came out of his mouth, even he was taken aback.
However, Huang Rang seemed unaware and smiled gently, saying, “Please, Master.”
— Of course, it would be easy for her to say that. After a hundred years of connection and several infatuations, she discarded the splendid and glamorous appearances of the outside world, leaving only the person.
Huang Rang walked ahead, and Xie Hongchen followed slowly.
On that day, she wore a light golden dress, gentle and beautiful, like she had draped the fifth lunar month’s sunshine around her. The gentle breeze blew, lifting the belt at her waist and fluttering like it could be reached out and touched.
Xie Hongchen averted his gaze in silence.
Huang Rang led him all the way to the banquet hall.
Huang Mansion was already in high spirits, and seeing Huang Rang accompany him, Huang Shu’s eyes lit up. He quickly invited Xie Hongchen to the main seat and arranged for Huang Rang to sit beside him. Anyone with eyes could see the implications of this arrangement.
But surprisingly, Xie Hongchen didn’t refuse.
Huang Rang found it astonishing—this time in the dream realm, it was much easier to get close to him than when they first met outside.
At the table, Huang Shu enthusiastically talked about the achievements of the Huang family.
Xie Hongchen glanced around the banquet; most of the guests were Huang Shu’s children, and there were some distant relatives from other branches, making it all look quite chaotic.
Based on the short time he had observed, Xie Hongchen had already made a judgment about this family—the many children of Huang Shu were from mixed bloodlines, suggesting he favored women. His immediate concern about Huang Rang’s identity when she got injured indicated his focus on personal gains. His talkative manner at the table demonstrated superficiality.
As for his children, they were each enjoying the feast without showing any closeness to him.
Therefore, this family was bound to be discordant.
Next to him, Huang Rang poured him a cup of wine, and Xie Hongchen thanked her. Several other Huang family girls saw this and quickly rushed to serve him wine, competing for his attention.
Xie Hongchen furrowed his brows slightly. He had seen all sorts of people in his life, and he naturally understood the intentions of these girls.
As the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s master, he had a pleasant appearance but a cold heart. He immediately said, “I’m here for the feast, not the commotion. Ladies, please step back.”
He didn’t hold back. Huang Shu’s face couldn’t hold back either, and he finally scolded his daughters.
But Huang Rang ignored it and left on her own.
Dai Yue followed her outside, feeling very anxious; she wondered if this Master Xie still remembered her situation.
Of course, if she knew what would happen next, she would surely want Xie Hongchen to forget all about her.
But unfortunately, Xie Hongchen valued talent.
The next day, he sent someone to investigate Dai Yue. However, the information brought back by his disciple puzzled him.
— Huang Family’s maidservant, Dai Yue, has no particular talent for cultivating good breeds!
Over the years, neither Liang Mi, bitter lotus, nor One-Petal Heart Tea were created by her.
Xie Hongchen was immediately infuriated.
As the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s master, he treasured talent. However, he also despised wickedness.