In the inn, Huang Rang took a bath and changed into fresh clothes. She sat on the bed, waiting for Xie Hongchen’s call. As the master, Xie Hongchen should conduct a post-battle analysis for them. After all, the ranking would be determined by their performance in the martial arts assessment.
For a prestigious sect like the Yuhu Immortal Sect, it was essential to have a disciple in the top three. Otherwise, it would be somewhat embarrassing.
Therefore, if any disciple performed poorly, Xie Lingbi would personally come to guide them, along with Xie Hongchen.
This year, Huang Rang had performed exceptionally well, so everyone was not too anxious.
She took out the storage artifact that the big yellow dog had given her and played with it on the bed. The pouch was finely crafted, and she examined it carefully several times. There was no one’s seal on it, but she knew in her heart that only that person could create such a delicate treasure with such precision.
She lay on the bed, holding the emerald-inlaid golden silk gourd to her nose and taking a light sniff. There were no incense pills inside, so there was no strong fragrance, but it still brought a pleasant feeling.
That person was probably sitting behind a desk, carving this artifact quietly, just like outside the dream.
Huang Rang held the incense pouch in her hand and pondered for a while. Nowadays, storage artifacts are expensive, and an ordinary one would cost ten thousand silver taels even outside the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s outer sect commercial buildings.
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Lsaxyzzu, pbl oswzed’v ynnlrv kv kq psxlsdl lzpl tyhl bla pwnb y vbkdt, vs xykdvykd bla kxytl sq “bktb-xkdeledlpp yde kdekqqlaldnl vs qyxl yde qsavwdl.” Jwv kq kv oyp tkhld cu Pk Zkikw, pbl oydvle vs ynnlrv kv. Fbl oswzed’v cl ps bursnakvknyz, nsdpkelakdt pbl bye alnlkhle xydu vbkdtp qasx bkx yzalyeu.
Lso vbyv vbl yavkqynv kp blal, vbyv rlapsd xwpv byhl yaakhle yp olzz. Jwv kq pbl eked’v vyjl vbl kdkvkyvkhl, bl rascyczu oswzed’v nsxl swv vs xllv bla.
Twydt Sydt nzwvnble vbl yavkqynv, aszzle sd vbl cle, yde vbswtbv qsa y zsdt vkxl. Wkdyzzu, pbl rknjle wr y cawpb yde oasvl y pbsav dsvl.
Mbl dsvl oyp pkxrzl; pbl fwpv oydvle vs oakvl qswa osaep: “Fll usw vsxsaaso.” Jwv yqvla psxl vbswtbv, pbl qlzv vbyv kv zynjle psxl fwpvkqknyvksd. Gqvla yzz, pbl nswzed’v pkxrzu pyu pbl oydvle vs xllv bkx okvbswv y alypsd.
Fs pbl yeele qswa xsal osaep: “Nlv’p prya.”
Mbkp alypsd pllxle tsse ldswtb, yde Twydt Sydt oyp pyvkpqkle.
Mbl sdzu iwlpvksd dso oyp, Ebs oswze elzkhla vbl xlppytl? Fbl vbswtbv qsa y zsdt vkxl, yde pweeldzu pbl bye yd kely—vbl kdd bye y ckt ulzzso est!
Rtdsakdt vbl zyvl bswa, pbl ayd esodpvykap, nywtbv vbl ckt ulzzso est, yde vokpvle vbl dsvl kdvs y vkdu pvakr, vukdt kv yaswde vbl est’p dlnj.
Meanwhile, across the window, Di Yiqiu was watching her intently.
Deputy Li wasted no time and immediately went downstairs to catch the dog. In no time, he retrieved the piece of paper from the dog’s neck and promptly handed it to Di Yiqiu.
“A love letter, perhaps?” Deputy Li said excitedly.
Di Yiqiu pretended to be nonchalant as he calmly opened the note.
There was only one line written on it: “See you tomorrow; let’s spar.”
Deputy Li looked at the first four words and said, “Congratulations, chief, and my heartfelt wishes!”
Di Yiqiu focused on the last four words, his expression turning serious. He replied, “Congratulations at this point would be too early.”
“Eh?” Deputy Li didn’t understand.
Di Yiqiu officer took out a brush and paper and began recalling the various details of Huang Rang’s martial arts performance earlier in the day. He had a good memory and had paid special attention to Huang Rang’s moves, drawing them one by one.
Next came the strategies for countering and counterattacking.
Deputy Li stood by, watching his wholehearted involvement, feeling like something wasn’t quite right.
Meanwhile, Huang Rang anxiously awaited the outcome of her note. She had been so immersed in cultivating and crossbreeding over the years that she hadn’t realized how much time had passed since she parted with Di Yiqiu. But surely he must have recovered by now. After all, his reputation at the Immortal Sect had soared after he awakened from this hundred-year dream.
After a while, she went to check on the big yellow dog. As she expected, the note on the dog’s neck was gone.
It must be him!
Huang Rang felt as if she were walking on clouds and floated back to her room, collapsing on the bed again.
Di Yiqiu—just thinking of this name made her lips unconsciously curl up.
Later that night, Xie Hongchen indeed devised a new battle plan for the four disciples, including Huang Rang. He patiently analyzed potential opponents, as he was well-versed in the various sects’ techniques, which proved to be very enlightening for the disciples.
Huang Ran listened attentively but couldn’t help sighing. With her current strength, it would probably take an eternity before she could spar with Xie Lingbi. It was a rather hasty affair, making her feel hopeless.
Feeling disheartened, she reached out and touched the tea needle on her head. If she had known, she might have chosen to live a life of good food and drink. These years of practicing martial arts have been quite burdensome.
Xie Hongchen noticed her distress and said, “If you’re tired, you can rest on your own.”
Upon hearing those words, he was also taken aback, realizing that his tone had been too intimate. He quickly added, “Rest well and conserve your energy, so you can fight again tomorrow.”
Huang Rang did feel like taking a break, so she nodded in agreement and returned to her room.
Xie Hongchen glanced at her retreating figure, and for some reason, he lost all interest in further discussions after she left.
The next day, when Huang Rang stepped onto the martial arts stage once again, she had become the dark horse that everyone had high hopes for.
Standing in the center of the stage, she scanned the audience. Amidst the crowd, she finally spotted that person—Di Yiqiu. He was wearing a black cloak, blending in with the others.
Though his position had a poor view, she still managed to find him.
Just that one glimpse was enough to fill her heart with joy.
On the observing platform, Di Yiqiu caught her gaze and felt his heart tighten.
Beside him, Deputy Li was also delighted and whispered, “When a beautiful woman gazes at you like that, you know she has feelings for you. Chief, you must perform well tonight.”
Di Yiqiu remained expressionless, focusing on carefully recording Huang Rang’s moves against her opponents with his charcoal pen.
In this battle, Huang Rang competed against four disciples from various sects. However, since she was guided by Xie Hongchen and her thoughts were on Xie Lingbi, the contests were effortless for her.
The first place in this assessment undoubtedly belonged to her.
Receiving everyone’s congratulations, Xie Hongchen wasn’t surprised. Huang Rang was eager to leave the stage; she wanted to go back, freshen up, and change into a more elegant outfit, which was her top priority.
As she had no attachment to fame and fortune, she naturally won a wave of praise.
Xie Hongchen’s gaze followed her as she left the martial arts stage, skipping away like a little butterfly. She didn’t look back, and Xie Hongchen pulled back his gaze, forcing himself to focus on the upcoming assessments.
Regardless, with the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s top position secured, the other outcomes were no longer crucial.
Huang Rang returned to the inn, indeed freshened up, and changed into a relatively refined dress. Since there was no bronze mirror in the inn, she had to put extra effort into tying her hair into a neat bun and applying makeup.
Facing the water basin, she examined her reflection and felt satisfied with her appearance before leaving happily.
Di Yiqiu naturally wouldn’t be late; he waited outside Huang Rang’s window and followed her as she left the inn. They both understood the need to maintain secrecy, so they walked one after the other as they left the city of Kanyue.
She continued until she reached a dense forest, where Huang Rang realized no one was following her and finally stopped.
Behind her, Di Yiqiu wore a black robe, with the brim of his hat covering half of his face. The exposed half revealed golden snake patterns on his profile. His lips were too dark, and his hair was black-purple, making his complexion appear pale and devoid of color.
Approaching him, Huang Rang saw that he had become emaciated after the swelling subsided and couldn’t help but ask, “Are you okay?”
Di Yiqiu replied, “I’m fine.” Then he added, “Draw your sword.”
“Huh?” Huang Rang was puzzled.
Di Yiqiu insisted, “Draw your sword.”
Reluctantly, Huang Rang unsheathed her sword and asked, “What for?”
Di Yiqiu said solemnly, “Let’s spar!”
As he spoke, he lightly rolled up his sleeves, revealing a layer of bluish-grey snake scales covering his long and sturdy hands!
“Come!” He shouted lightly, moving like a gust of wind, enveloped in a layer of poisonous mist, and attacked Huang Rang!
Huang Rang had no time to react and was struck by his two fingers on her shoulder.
Thankfully, Di Yiqiu knew she wasn’t on guard, so the fingers were just a light tap and not a full-force attack.
However, he hadn’t considered that he had previously used these two fingers to break through his fifth brother’s protective snake scales!
Feeling the wind of the fingers hitting her, Huang Rang only felt intense pain in her shoulder. She raised her sword to counter, but every move she made seemed to be anticipated by her opponent.
Of course, Di Yiqiu had studied her all night without rest!
Huang Rang’s sword strikes found only empty air, leaving her puzzled, which gradually turned into anger.
This wasn’t sparring; it was simply being toyed with!
Seeing her fully focused and fiercely determined, Di Yiqiu no longer held back. He used lethal moves, aiming directly at her vital points. At first, Huang Rang was only angry, but soon she found herself fighting back with all her might!
– She had no choice; this guy was really ruthless!
In the dense forest, the two of them engaged in a fierce battle, exchanging blows.
Di Yiqiu had come prepared, while Huang Rang knew nothing about him.
She was struck several times by his finger, causing excruciating pain. Outside the Dream Realm, she had witnessed Di Yiqiu killing his fifth brother, and she knew that although he was famous for his craftsmanship, his cultivation level was by no means weak.
But how strong exactly? Huang Rang had no idea.
Before this, she had mostly pitied Di Yiqiu.
But at this moment, she wished she could dig up his ancestors’ graves!
“You damned bastard!”
Facing Huang Rang’s fierce sword attacks, Di Yiqiu neither retreated nor avoided them, handling her moves with ease.
Huang Rang finally realized that she needed to change her approach. She quickly changed her tactics, rendering Di Yiqiu’s earlier research ineffective. However, he soon found a new way to counter her.
Di Yiqiu’s expression was serious, fully focused on the fight. The surrounding vegetation was cut and scattered as he developed thicker snake scales on his hands, making them nearly impervious to swords. The golden snake patterns on the side of his face were faintly visible. Coupled with his black cloak, he had an inexplicable aura.
In contrast, Huang Rang looked like a righteous warrior battling evil forces.
In the treetops, Huang Rang and Di Yiqiu fought for their lives several times. Killing intent arose within her, but Di Yiqiu’s serpent-like transformation made him extremely elusive. Not only did he possess inexhaustible stamina, but his snake scales were as tough as armor. After his transformation, his hands became his weapons, and whenever they clashed with Huang Rang’s precious sword, they were as resilient as steel.
The toxic mist surrounding him was like his shadow, withering the nearby trees.
Di Yiqiu used his hands as a weapon, employing various techniques with precision.
Huang Rang’s shoulder wound had not been treated in time, and it was bleeding. The blood gradually darkened, indicating that it had been tainted by the venom of the serpent.
She was no longer fit to continue the fight.
Di Yiqiu thoughtfully decided to end the contest.
However, Huang Rang’s attacks became faster and fiercer—she was so angry that she couldn’t hold back! She wanted to beat him to a pulp!
Facing her intense assault, Di Yiqiu quickly devised a strategy. He turned into a cloud of poison mist and rushed towards Huang Rang. She quickly adjusted her moves, aiming her sword straight at his chest. But with a light clang, her sword seemed to hit a layer of hard armor and couldn’t penetrate any further.
Di Yiqiu trapped her sword between his two fingers, gathered strength in his right hand, and tapped his left hand’s back.
Huang Rang felt a powerful force coming from her sword, causing it to slip from her hand. She fell from the treetops, landing in a heap of fallen leaves below.
Di Yiqiu hurriedly jumped down from the treetops, reaching out to help her.
However, she responded with a loud slap, and Huang Rang pushed his hand away.
Confused, Di Yiqiu said, “You’re poisoned.” He took out an antidote pill from his waist pouch and offered it to her. “Take it first.”
Huang Rang snatched the antidote pill from him and threw it forcefully to the ground. She then covered her face with both hands and cried out loudly, sobbing.
Di Yiqiu stood before her, at a loss for what to do.
Throughout her life, Huang Rang has always cried in a refined and beautiful manner. But this time, she wailed loudly, her tears smudging her makeup, looking like a big flower cat.
Di Yiqiu quietly squatted down, opening her collar to inspect her injured shoulder.
Huang Rang tried to push him away with force, but he refused to budge. Despite his slim figure, he was exceptionally steady, and she couldn’t move him.
He took out a medicine bottle from his waist pouch and carefully treated her wound.
Seeing his serious expression without any mocking intent, Huang Rang hmphed softly and turned her head away, ignoring him. Di Yiqiu meticulously tended to her wound, retying her clothes.
Throughout the process, he remained very proper and didn’t even let his gaze wander.
At such a close distance, Huang Rang could keenly feel his breath. It felt as if she had returned to the outside of her dream world; she remained silent, and he took care of everything.
Perhaps it wasn’t so embarrassing after all.
Huang Rang wiped her face, trying to clean her makeup, which had smudged.
Di Yiqiu still squatted in front of her. His body was slender and pale, and he no longer had the childishness he had when they first met. Now, his gaze appeared even more profound, giving off a sense of pressure.
His pitch-black eyes stared intensely at Huang Rang, and he finally asked, “Why are you crying?”
Huang Rang replied irritably, “Why do you think? I came to meet you with joy, and you beat me up!”
Di Yiqiu furrowed his brow and said, “But… you invited me to spar.”
…Well, he was an artisan. Very straightforward. Huang Rang took a deep breath and said, “Do I need a reason to invite you out?”
“No, you don’t,” Di Yiqiu said.
Huang Rang turned to look at him. His words were cold and serious. “No, you don’t.”
Fine. Huang Rang sighed and said, “I should have never practiced martial arts in my life. No matter how hard I try, it’s just laughable in front of people like you.”
She looked dejected, and Di Yiqiu said, “Not laughable.”
And that was all he said.
Huang Rang let out another sigh and said, “Di Yiqiu, can I ever defeat Xie Lingbi?”
“Xie Lingbi?” Di Yiqiu furrowed his brow, looked at her carefully for a while, and then asked, “Why do you want to defeat him?”
“That’s a long story.” Huang Rang sighed deeply. “I shouldn’t have ventured into martial arts. I overestimated my abilities.” She covered her face with both hands and muttered, “A mantis trying to stop a chariot, utterly ignorant of its own insignificance.”
Beside her, Di Yiqiu remained silent.
“Aren’t you going to comfort me a bit?” Huang Rang nudged him with her elbow.
Di Yiqiu thought seriously for a while and said, “Given your aptitude, you do have a significant gap compared to Xie Lingbi. But it doesn’t mean you have no chance. I’ll do my best to help you.”
“Haha.” Huang Rang scoffed at this remark: “How are you going to help me? Are you going to help me defeat Xie Lingbi?”
Di Yiqiu, with the rigor of a master artisan, pondered for a moment and replied, “That would be much easier.”
Huang Rang pushed him hard, catching him off guard, and he fell into a pile of leaves. “You really can’t say anything nice!” Huang Rang pounced on him, her body resting on his like a spider.
Her hair fell, brushing against Di Yiqiu’s face, and he turned his head slightly.
Looking down at him, Huang Rang said, “Even though it sounds absurd, I still don’t plan to give up.” She declared seriously, “In this lifetime, I will shake this mighty tree. Success or failure is in the hands of fate, and I will have no regrets.”
Di Yiqiu let her overpower him and said, “I will do my best to help you.”
He said it again.
Huang Rang decided to lie on his chest. In front of Di Yiqiu, she always felt at ease.
And he didn’t refuse either; he let her green silk cover him entirely.
He remained silent for a long time, and Huang Rang thought he had fallen asleep. But then he suddenly said, “I will forge a perfectly fitting sword for you.”
“Huh?” Huang Rang was puzzled.
Di Yiqiu explained, “To defeat Xie Lingbi, you need to have a good sword.”
He had been thinking about this all along. Huang Rang raised her head and rubbed her nose against his chin, saying, “Di Yiqiu, you’re sometimes quite nice.”
Di Yiqiu inquired seriously, “Sometimes?”
Huang Rang chuckled and said, “You’d be even better if you didn’t visit courtesans.”
Courtesans? Di Yiqiu remembered his experiences with courtesans years ago and shook his head seriously, saying, “Courtesans are indeed not good. I won’t go again. It’s not worth it.”
…Thinking back to the toils of that night, it’s hard to say who was toying with whom.
“Not worth it?” Huang Rang was taken aback, and after a moment, she said, “Indeed. You should find a wife and marry her. You only need to pay a dowry, and she’ll give you children. It’s much more worth it than being single for over a hundred years, right?”
“What?” Di Yiqiu didn’t understand.
But Huang Rang suddenly remembered something else. She propped herself up, her elbow resting on his chest, and looked down at him, saying, “Promise me that even if you marry and have children, you won’t neglect me! You can’t let them bully me. I’m afraid of the dark; you need to keep the lights on for me. I don’t like being alone; you have to take me everywhere you go. And at night, you have to sleep with me and talk to me more…”
She said a lot and then fell silent.
Di Yiqiu looked into her eyes, his eyes as black as ink. Huang Rang murmured, “Forget it. I’m asking for too much. Forget it.” She collapsed against his chest, realizing that no matter how hard she tried to improve her life, how could she change her fate?
Her body was just a prison.
Gradually, she fell silent, but suddenly Di Yiqiu asked, “Then why don’t I marry you?”
“Huh?” Huang Rang was stunned.
Di Yiqiu analyzed seriously: “If I marry you, I won’t neglect you. No one will bully you. You’ll be my wife, and I’ll naturally keep the lights on for you, never leaving you alone. I’ll sleep with you at night and talk to you.”
“You’re right!” Huang Rang suddenly understood and clapped her hands, saying, “If you’re willing to do that, it’s possible.”
Huang Rang climbed off Di Yiqiu’s body. She had been married before and knew about romantic affairs. After becoming intimate with Di Yiqiu, she felt completely at ease in front of him, without any barriers between them.
So she spoke without any embarrassment.
Di Yiqiu were to marry her, it would bring no harm to her but only benefits.
However, it was she herself…
Huang Ran wasn’t so noble in her moral principles and didn’t mind benefiting herself at the expense of others. If she could make Di Yiqiu fall in love with her in the dream realm, and he continued to care for her after waking up…
She looked at Di Yiqiu, her eyes filled with mischievous thoughts.
Di Yiqiu sat up, remaining silent and calm.
Huang Rang stared into his eyes and saw his seriousness.
In the end, the mischievous thoughts stayed in her heart. After all,Di Yiqiu was a man.
Although it’s unclear whether it’s right or wrong, he doesn’t owe me anything. There’s no reason for him to sacrifice his whole life for my sake.
Huang Rang took a deep breath and said, “But it’s best if you don’t think that way. Find yourself a good wife. If you can find a woman who understands your preferences, feelings, and interests like I do, you’ll be very fortunate.”
After saying this, Huang Rang suddenly touched the sachet that Di Yiqiu had given her.
She had rejected him, but she didn’t want to return the gift. Hesitating, she asked, “Can I keep this sachet?”
Di Yiqiu sat up and gazed at her for a while before saying, “Yes, you can.”
That was great news. Huang Rang felt relieved; after all, this storage artifact was not only beautiful but also practical. She picked up her treasured sword and left the dense forest.
It seems that from now on, it’s better to keep a distance from him.
He had passed through the darkest times in his life, and there would be a sunrise and a blossoming spring. Di Yiqiu, from outside the dream realm, had lived alone for over a hundred years. After finally entering the dream, it would be too miserable for him to remain lonely until the end.
Di Yiqiu, the winter in the capital is so cold.
The snowyy scenery of Black Tortoise Bureau is beautiful. You should find a girl and enjoy the view together.