In the Imperial Palace at the capital, on the bottom floor of the Yuanrong Tower.
Deputy Chief Li walked in. He had always been composed, but this time, even Qiu Shengbai could see the joy in his eyes.
Di Yiqiu remained seated in the prison cell, flipping through official documents while dressed in a black robe. The robe was loose, making him appear less peculiar.
Li Lu approached and said, “Chief, today I went to the Yuhu immortal sect.” Di Yiqiu didn’t react much to this statement, and Li Lu continued, “Xie Hongchen has accepted Miss Ten as her direct disciple and held a ceremony in her honor.”
“A direct disciple?” Di Yiqiu finally responded.
Li Lu hurriedly said, “Yes. It seems Miss Ten is dedicated to learning. But before she left, she was concerned about your well-being. She followed me all the way to the mountain gate, inquiring about your condition.” Without blushing, he continued, “Miss Ten genuinely cares for you. Before leaving, she entrusted a token to me to deliver to you.”
Ah, what a pity.
If only this were a bit more romantic. Li Lu lamented inwardly. However, upon hearing this, Di Yiqiu raised his head.
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Nk Nw iwknjzu vssj psxlvbkdt swv sq bkp rsnjlv yde pyke, “Ubklq, rzlypl lmvlde uswa byde.”
Pk Zkikw blpkvyvle pzktbvzu cwv lhldvwyzzu pvalvnble swv bkp byde hlau pzsozu. Nk Nw takvvle bkp vllvb yde rwv vbl scflnv kd bkp ryzx. “Tlyhld jdsop, R, Nk Nw, yx obszlblyavlezu zsuyz!”
Pk Zkikw qsnwple bkp tygl sd bkp ryzx yde pyo psxlvbkdt nszsaqwz yde hkhke.
Tkp cseu oyp yzalyeu yqqlnvle cu pdyjl hldsx, yde bkp pldplp bye ewzzle. Gqvla y xsxldv sq nsdqwpksd, bl qkdyzzu pyo nzlyazu vbyv vbl nszsaqwz yde hkhke vbkdt kd bkp ryzx oyp ynvwyzzu… y nyvlarkzzya!
Tl aykple bkp lulp yde pvyale yv Nk Nw, ypjkdt, “G vsjld sq yqqlnvksd?”
—Psd’v cl ydtau! Nlv xl nsxl wr okvb psxlvbkdt tsse qsa usw!
Nk Nw pyke, “Rdelle, vbkp kvlx kp wdkiwl, cwv vbyv’p obyv Ykpp Mld pyke. Vlabyrp… pbl byp y prlnkyz qsdedlpp qsa callekdt, ps pbl qllzp ekqqlaldvzu ycswv vblpl cwtp vbyd saekdyau rlsrzl.” Tl kxrashkple, “Wsa lmyxrzl… zkjl lyavbosaxp, obknb byhl y nzspl alzyvksdpbkr okvb vbl pskz.”
Zlyb, vbyv’p aktbv!
Di Yiqiu didn’t question further after hearing this explanation.
He lowered his head to take another look at the bug in his palm, and the bug also raised its head, looking back at him.
Di Yiqiu placed it on the documents; it had gotten used to reading and cultivating habits with Huang Rang and didn’t crawl around randomly.
Li Lu glanced at the bug, and the bug looked back at him with its two tiny eyes. They exchanged puzzled glances.
After saying what he wanted, Li Lu left quickly, feeling satisfied with himself and not lingering.
With purple-black hands and swollen, carrot-like fingers, the Chief played with the caterpillar—her token of affection?
Inside the prison cell, Di Yiqiu received medicine from Qiu Shengbai. The medicine was bitter and salty, making him nauseous when he tasted it. He frowned and ignored it. Staying in this small prison cell was already suffocating and irritating.
Having to face such medicine every day, how could he drink it?
Qiu Shengbai had already grown accustomed to the resistance from the princes and princesses. These people were born in luxury and had never experienced such hardships. He tried persuading and scolding, using both gentle and harsh approaches. It was challenging to supervise them as they drank their medicine every day.
But Di Yiqiu and a few others were his priorities due to the good fusion of the medicine’s properties.
After distributing the medicine, when he entered Di Yiqiu’s prison cell, he saw that the medicine in the bowl remained untouched.
“Chief, you should take the medicine first before dealing with the documents. They are not that important!” Qiu Shengbai said it irritably. It was tough to coax and persuade so many people every day. But as the mastermind behind this, who wouldn’t gnash their teeth at the sight of him?
Of course, Di Yiqiu had no intention of drinking the medicine and ignored it.
Qiu Shengbai couldn’t force-feed him either. When he approached, he noticed something colorful in Di Yiqiu’s documents.
He grabbed it, and surprisingly, Di Yiqiu’s swollen and slow body didn’t stop him.
As Qiu Shengbai held the thing in his hand, it stung with a burning sensation. He discovered that it was a caterpillar!
Di Yiqiu frowned and instinctively said, “Give it back to me!”
It seems like he cares about it! Qiu Shengbai felt justified and threatened: “If you don’t drink the medicine, I’ll crush this caterpillar!”
“…Shameless.” Di Yiqiu looked at the bug in his hand, and Qiu Shengbai held onto it, letting it sting his hand without letting go. They were in a standoff.
After not giving in to each other for a while, Di Yiqiu finally looked at the medicine bowl on the ground. The dark and viscous liquid filled half of the bowl.
After hesitating for a moment, he finally reached out, picked up the bowl, and withstood the nausea as he drank it all.
The medicine burned like fire as it went down his throat. He put the bowl back down and looked at Qiu Shengbai.
Qiu Shengbai nodded approvingly.
—Who sent this thing?
He handed the caterpillar back to Di Yiqiu and said, “This bug likes to eat peach leaves and mulberry leaves. I’ll bring a few leaves for you tomorrow.”
Di Yiqiu placed the bug back on the documents to continue being its bookmark and said, “Choose tender leaves.”
Qiu Shengbai echoed his words and left with a relaxed demeanor.
In the evening, Shi Wenyu delivered sixty pots of dual-snake fruit trees.
These were the fruits of Huang Rang’s painstaking cultivation. The dual-snake fruit trees had a close relationship with the vipers, and each viper would guard and play with them from an early age. Now that these princes and princesses had replaced the blood of the vipers, if they wanted to survive, they needed to nurture them.
But Qiu Shengbai was still troubled.
He registered the dual-snake fruit trees and immediately sent a pot to Di Yiqiu.
In the end, everyone had an idea of why Miss Ten had sent so many dual-snake fruit trees. Despite her limited power, she had done everything she could.
Out of the sixty dual-snake fruit trees, fifty-nine were left. And after deducting the deceased princes and princesses, there were still over one hundred and thirty people.
How do I distribute them? Shi Wenyu didn’t specify, so Qiu Shengbai had to guess his intentions. He allocated the favored princes and princesses individually, and then the remaining ten trees were shared among the less favored ones in rotation.
—He couldn’t remember that outside of this dream, with the joint efforts of the Celestial Court’s breeding master and everyone else, they had only managed to cultivate ten trees.
In the prison cell, Di Yiqiu looked at the dual-snake fruit tree. It coiled and twisted, resembling a snake extending its tongue. Di Yiqiu reached out and gently touched its leaves. The caterpillar was also quite interested in this thing. When it had nothing to do, it climbed onto this peculiar tree and lay in its leaves to sleep.
As promised, Qiu Shengbai brought fresh mulberry leaves for him the next day.
The leaves were tender, with dewdrops still on them. The caterpillar seemed satisfied with its meal today and feasted on it.
After that, Qiu Shengbai no longer bothered about whether Di Yiqiu drank the medicine or not—refusing to drink the medicine meant crushing the caterpillar.
At the Yuhu immortal sect, Huang Rang behaved very obediently after becoming Xie Hongchen’s disciple.
She not only didn’t attract suitors like Xie Lingbi had imagined; in fact, those senior brothers who coveted her beauty couldn’t even find her.
Since receiving the scriptures and spiritual pills, Huang Rang hadn’t left her house for several days.
Originally, Xie Hongchen had wanted Nie Qinglan to keep an eye on her to avoid any trouble. However, after a few days, Nie Qinglan hadn’t even caught a glimpse of her. Everyone wondered—could this girl be slacking off?
Finally, one day, Xie Hongchen couldn’t resist and went to look for her.
To avoid arousing suspicion, he brought Nie Qinglan and Xie Li along.
The three of them arrived at Huang Rang’s small dwelling, and Xie Li went forward to knock on the door.
“Who is it?” Huang Rang’s voice came from inside. Xie Li inexplicably breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Junior sister, it’s me, Xie Li.”
Hearing this, the door creaked open, and a fluffy little head poked out from behind. Xie Li was dumbfounded—before her was Huang Rang with disheveled hair, wearing training clothes—hardly the enchanting appearance they had expected.
Huang Rang wouldn’t have minded, but with one look, she noticed the others behind Xie Li. Nie Qinglan didn’t need mentioning and could be ignored, but—Xie Hongchen!!
Huang Rang slammed the door shut with a bang, and sounds of rummaging could be heard from inside. After a while, she reopened the door, dressed in an elegant and delicate dress with exquisite and gentle makeup. Although her hair was simple, it was tasteful.
She performed a graceful bow to Xie Li and spoke with a soft and sweet voice, “Greetings, Second Senior Brother.”
“… ” Xie Li’s expression was as if he had seen a ghost.
Huang Rang then greeted Xie Hongchen and his disciple with a bow, feeling somewhat annoyed inside. She had been careless—too careless!
Xie Hongchen’s face remained expressionless, and his thoughts were inscrutable. He walked straight into the room, looking around. The entire room had only a low table with scrolls on it. Hanging down from the nearby rafters was a loop of rope.
“What is this?” Xie Hongchen pointed to the loop of rope, and that thing seemed particularly ominous.
Huang Rang said, “This… is a tool for self-discipline in my studies. Master, you need not ask further.”
However, there was an unsophisticated person nearby—Nie Qinglan asked, “This thing can be used for self-discipline?”
He sat beside the low table and found that the loop of rope could fit around his neck.
… Alright, alright.
Xie Hongchen took a few steps forward and picked up the scrolls on the table. The scrolls were densely filled with annotations.
The scriptures were not inherently profound, but the annotations were equally detailed.
He nodded and said, “You are very diligent.”
Of course, she had to be diligent. Huang Rang said, “This humble disciple, able to be accepted by Master, is undoubtedly a blessing from the heavens. Naturally, I dare not be complacent.”
This statement naturally had some elements of flattery, but she said it sincerely, and there was some truth to it as well.
Xie Hongchen nodded and praised, “Your thoughts please me, as your master.” He continued, “Yeyun Hall has many books, and you can borrow them anytime. If you have any doubts, don’t force yourself to understand. Either I or your senior brothers will be able to clarify things for you.”
“Thank you for the guidance, Master.” Huang Rang naturally complied. Being able to freely access Yeyun Hall… that was truly wonderful.
Having checked around again and found nothing unusual, Xie Hongchen returned to Yeyun Hall.
Huang Rang continued to diligently study the scriptures. Although she had received his permission, she didn’t immediately act on it. Xie Hongchen’s vigilance was quite high, and it wasn’t easy to make him let his guard down.
Being too hasty would only undo previous efforts.
She buried her head and saw the heart cultivation methods recorded in the scriptures, which made her sigh in despair!
What on earth is this written about?!
After finally escaping her life as an earth spirit and gaining her freedom, why did she have to read a sword immortal’s cultivation methods?
It’s really difficult to always doubt whether I’m a mere earth spirit or a foolish person turned spiritual. I really want to eat, drink, have fun, attract suitors, and enjoy life! Even going to the Celestial Court to be with Di Yiqiu and, uh, play with Di Yiqiu would be better than reading this!
Huang Rang bumped her head on the table, and her head bounced a few times, making a thumping sound. Then she rubbed her face with both hands, gritted her teeth, and buried herself back in the pile of books. When she couldn’t bear it anymore, she stuck her chin into the loop of rope.
Xie Lingbi, Xie Lingbi…
Reciting this name allowed her to read a few more lines.
On the right side of Yeyun Hall was a storage hall named Wuxiang Pavilion. On it hung a plaque with the words “Numerous Dharma Forms.”
In the hall, Xie Hongchen was engrossed in writing a book of insights into cultivation. He believed that after he had granted permission, that person would come to Yeyun Hall soon. He didn’t know where this idea came from, but he firmly believed in it.
However, as the outside sky darkened and disciples began to enter the side hall to borrow books, she was still nowhere to be seen.
She didn’t come.
That makes sense. She had just received the scriptures and couldn’t have finished reading them in these few days.
Why would she come to Wuxiang Pavilion?
Xie Hongchen tried to figure out where this suspicion came from, but after thinking for a long time, he gained no insight.
Inside the room, Huang Rang continued to study diligently.
In the past, Xie Hongchen had imposed many restrictions on her, so she actively complied with any signs of relaxation or concession from him. While he forbade her from continuing her cultivation of breeding, he didn’t stop her from cultivating orchids. Consequently, she filled Yuhu’s immortal sect with orchids.
Knowing Xie Hongchen loved drinking tea, she immediately cultivated a famous tea called One Petal Heart.
When he occasionally drank wine, she pondered and brewed rose wine for him.
Recalling the past, the Huang Rang on the Qilu Terrace was swayed and moved by every frown and word from Xie Hongchen.
Huang Rang picked up her pen and made annotations beside the scriptures.
The memories were fragmented. Fondly reminiscing is not a good thing; it often blurs the line between reality and illusion.