Since their meeting at the Qilu, Huang Rang has rarely seen Di Yiqiu.
It seemed as though Xie Hongchen deliberately prevented them from meeting. Every time Di Yiqiu came looking for her, he made Huang Rang stay and practice in the Yeyun Hall, never allowing her to go out.
As time passed, everyone could see that Xie Hongchen didn’t want Huang Rang to have too close a relationship with the Celestial Court.
But this was understandable.
The Celestial Court was under the jurisdiction of the imperial court and had always been at odds with the Yuhu Sect.
Xie Hongchen didn’t want his carefully nurtured disciple to have a close tie with the imperial court. It made sense to avoid such an alliance.
Everyone thought it made sense.
On this day, at the Yeyun Hall.
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Twydt Sydt oyp pvkzz raynvknkdt bla posaepxydpbkr kd vbl cynj byzz’p xyavkyz yavp yaldy. Dkl Tsdtnbld pvsse wdela y ryaypsz vall, qasodkdt. “Nyvlzu, usw byhl clld ekzktldv, cwv uswa nwzvkhyvksd bypd’v kxrashle. Ebu kp vbyv?”
Gb, bl dsvknle.
Twydt Sydt pvsrrle bla posae yde okrle sqq vbl polyv okvb y bydejlanbklq.
Mbl alypsd bla nwzvkhyvksd byed’v kxrashle oyp vbl U-aydj nsxcyv rwrrlv tkhld vs bla cu Pk Zkikw.
Mbl nblpv rzyvl sq vbyv rwrrlv oyp kdpnakcle okvb yzz sq Dkl Nkdtck’p posae xshlp.
Ls sdl jdlo oblal Pk Zkikw bye nszzlnvle ps xydu sq Dkl Nkdtck’p posae vlnbdkiwlp.
Twydt Sydt bye clld scplpple okvb elnkrblakdt vblpl posae xshlp, ps bla rastalpp bye dyvwayzzu clld pzso.
Fbl alrzkle, “Vlabyrp kv’p clnywpl sq xu zkxkvle vyzldv, yde vbyv’p obu xu rastalpp kp pzso.”
Seeing a hint of desolation in her tone, Xie Hongchen said, “Maybe the scriptures are too tedious. If you’re tired, take a break.”
Huang Rang nodded and then said, “Master, would you accompany your disciple in a sword dance?”
“A sword dance?” Xie Hongchen’s eyebrows twitched.
Huang Rang said, “Yes, exactly. As the First Sword Immortal, I’ve never seen you dance with a sword. Today, please allow me to broaden my horizons, Master. Would that be alright?”
This was inappropriate.
As her master, he should know the proper boundaries.
However, he heard himself agreeing, “Sure.”
With that said, a gleam of light flashed in his hand—it was his natal sword. Holding the Natal Sword, the First Sword Immortal appeared as if a divine being had descended, exuding dazzling brilliance.
He held the sword and danced with Huang Rang.
If this had been Huang Rang from outside the dream, she might have been mesmerized by this moment. But unfortunately, at this moment, though she smiled on her face, her heart was cold.
When Xie Shaochong rushed into the rear hall, he saw this scene.
On the martial arts arena, Huang Rang and Xie Hongchen were dancing with swords side by side.
Xie Hongchen was dressed in white like clouds, while Huang Ran wore a light golden dress. The two exquisite figures danced with their swords, one strong and one gentle, presenting a breathtaking sight.
There was a feeling that they were destined for each other.
Xie Shaochong was actually quite observant. Seeing this scene, he didn’t dare approach and quickly retreated.
Outside Yeyun Hall, he began to feel uneasy. Over the years, Xie Hongchen had been overly protective of his female disciple.
Deep in thought, Xie Shaochong was about to return to the martial arts arena when he heard two disciples whispering, “Did you hear that another outer sect disciple proposed to Sister Huang Rang today?”
Xie Shaochong was taken aback and couldn’t help but eavesdrop.
The other disciple said, “What’s so surprising about that? Many outer sect disciples have proposed to Sister Huang over the years. Do you think the Sect Master would favor any of them?”
Xie Shaochong’s heart sank, and he began to recall.
Indeed, Huang Rang has become increasingly outstanding in recent years. Her appearance was extraordinary, and her cultivation had surpassed many of the current generation’s disciples of the Yuhu Sect.
She also managed the Huang family’s affairs and hadn’t neglected her talent for cultivation.
With such a woman, which sect wouldn’t be envious?
Many suitors came to propose to her, but Xie Hongchen politely rejected all of them without leaving any room for further discussion.
Xie Shaochong worriedly thought, but suddenly the two disciples in the distance said, “Is Sister Huang Rang also practicing in the Yeyun Hall today?”
The other disciple made a sound of agreement, saying, “Where else could Sister Huang Rang be if not in the Yeyun Hall? Why are you so concerned? Do you also want to propose to her?”
“I wouldn’t dare. If the Sect Master finds out, he might break my legs…”
Unintentional words, but meaningful to the listeners.
Even an ordinary inner sect disciple had heard about the close relationship between Xie Hongchen and Huang Rang.
Such teasing had reached its limit, and if it went further, it would become a disgrace.
Xie Shaochong decided to turn around and return to Yeyun Hall.
In the back hall’s martial arts arena, the parasol tree branches swayed gently.
Xie Hongchen and Huang Rang exchanged sword moves, their eyes meeting, revealing a hint of tenderness and affection.
“Ahem! Sect Master,” Xie Shaochong directly interrupted.
Huang Rang quickly stopped her sword dance and stood aside, saluting “Senior Uncle Xie.”
Xie Hongchen slowly put away his Natal Sword and casually instructed, “Continue practicing your sword.”
Huang Rang agreed, and then Xie Hongchen led Xie Shaochong into the hall.
The two of them arrived at the study, and Xie Hongchen asked, “What’s the matter?”
Xie Shaochong wore a smiling face but indirectly said, “In recent years, Sister Huang Rang has been practicing in the Yeyun Hall. Other disciples have been jealous, saying that the Sect Master only favors her.”
This statement already had some implications.
How could Xie Hongchen not perceive it?
However, he chose to evade and asked, “How is everyone’s progress today?”
Not willing to discuss it? Xie Shaochong was slightly surprised. Since they knew each other, Xie Hongchen rarely avoided such topics.
Xie Shaochong didn’t want to say too much, as ultimately, Xie Hongchen hadn’t done anything that could be criticized. He just valued a diligent female disciple. What could others say to dissuade him?
So, he could only say, “Since Sister Huang Rang joined the sect, those lazy disciples have become more active. When it comes to diligence, Sister Huang Rang is unrivaled in the Yuhu Sect.”
Xie Hongchen nodded and said, “She… is indeed different.”
These simple words carried an indescribable tenderness.
Xie Shao’s worry deepened.
His gaze fell on the corner of the desk, where an orchid was in full bloom, its fragrance permeating the room.
Such a bright and intense flower didn’t quite fit with the coolness of the study.
Xie Shaochong remarked, “This orchid is unique, and the fragrance is so strong. I’m afraid it’s a variation cultivated by Sister Huang Rang, right?”
Xie Hongchen lightly touched the orchid’s leaves with his hand and whispered, “The Xi clan has always been fond of these.”
“Indeed.” Xie Shao became more surprised as he said, “I heard she also cultivated a famous tea called ‘One Petal Heart.’ I assume you have some here as well?”
“One Petal Heart?” Xie Hongchen murmured softly, “Yes, do you want some, junior brother?”
Xie Shaochong decided to be straightforward and said, “Senior brother, I have something to say, but I don’t know if I should.”
He looked serious, and Xie Hongchen replied, “Go ahead and say it.”
With a sigh, Xie Shaochong said, “As the saying goes, siblings should avoid each other, and children should avoid their parents. Sister Huang Rang is an excellent person, and it’s understandable that you appreciate her. But in the end, she is your disciple. If she stays in Yeyun Hall practicing all year round, I’m afraid there might be some rumors spreading around.”
At this point, Xie Hongchen could no longer dodge the issue.
But… his hidden intentions had been exposed. What could he say in response?
Xie Hongchen’s fingertips paused briefly, then he continued gently arranging the orchids on the table. After a long while, he said, “But as a master guiding disciples, why do you say such things, junior brother?”
He wasn’t angry, just calm.
Because he concealed his true emotions.
Xie Shao laughed, “I was just speaking casually. If you really want to know, I am also Huang Rang’s senior uncle. This child is striving to improve, and I am very pleased to see her progress. How about letting her learn from me for a while? Junior brother must be curious about how much of your skills she has learned.”
He was doing his best to consider his own interests. How could Xie Hongchen not understand?
Both Xie Shaochong and he were raised by Xie Lingbi.
Although they were called senior and junior brothers, their bond was stronger than that of real siblings.
Over the years, Xie Shaochong had been assisting him wholeheartedly without any complaints.
But entrusting Huang Rang to him…
Xie Hongchen remained silent for a long time. Xie Shaochong seemed like someone was trying to wake him from a dream.
But he didn’t want to wake up.
He had lived in Yeyun Hall for a long time. If Huang Rang learned from Xie Shaochong, he would rarely get to see her.
He wanted to keep her by his side, perhaps for his entire life. As long as she came every day, dusting the study, watering the orchids, and brewing him a cup of tea.
She was the sweet song of Yeyun Hall, the seasons of his life.
Just the thought of her going to the inner sect’s martial arts arena, where other disciples might get close to her, chat and laugh with her, and try to win her affection—ah, they might even propose to her.
Over the years, there had been too many people proposing to her.
Xie Hongchen spoke slowly, “No need. She has been practicing in Yeyun Hall for so many years that she has gotten used to it. If she suddenly goes to the inner sect, it might cause trouble for the junior brother.”
He refused, like a person sinking in mud, the hand reaching out to him.
Xie Shaochong couldn’t say anything more.
He could only smile and say, “You’re right. Such a disciple can only be received through the Sect Master’s good fortune. If half of our disciples were like her, I’m afraid I’d wake up laughing even in my sleep.”
“Junior brother is jesting.” Xie Hongchen lowered his gaze to the orchid; the flower was too vibrant, its brilliance even reflecting in his eyes. “In terms of talent, she is far inferior to Jian Lan.”
He was being modest. Why was he being modest?
Because he treated Huang Rang as his possession. So he showed some humility.
Xie Shaochong had initially been worried, but now he was afraid.
It was like seeing a loved one enter a demonic path while feeling powerless to help.
He stood up and said, “Today, the disciples are practicing a new sword array. Why don’t you come with me to watch, Sect Master?”
Xie Hongchen replied, “Sure.”
Xie Shaochong let him go first and followed closely. When he left the Yeyun Hall, he glanced back inside, but the shadows on the walls obscured his view, and he naturally couldn’t see Huang Rang.
However, in Yeyun Hall, it seemed that her shadow was everywhere.
In the evening, Huang Rang left Yeyun Hall.
As usual, she went to the Qilu terrace to check on the good seeds.
He XiJin, and others didn’t come to visit her, but they sent money every month. Qu Manying would also send her some clothes, jewelry, and various delicious treats.
Huang Rang, as a person, had a heart as cold as ice and was not easily moved.
But receiving all these packages, big and small, and various odds and ends, she couldn’t help but feel some longing for this aunt she barely knew.
However… it would be better not to have any further contact.
Otherwise, on the day she seeks revenge, she would inevitably have to confront the Yuhu Immortal Sect, and what would happen to those close to her?
So Huang Rang never replied to those letters.
She used the money she received to cultivate the good seeds to the fullest.
In the end, it was just a dream.
Even doing this was already taking things too seriously.
She arrived at the Qilu terrace, and the puppet there had taken excellent care of the good seeds.
The grass was cleared, the water was sprinkled, and the fertilizer had been applied.
Huang Rang was pleasantly surprised, and she had more time to practice with the puppet.
Although the puppet’s combat power was not comparable to the Super Armor Grade ones in the martial arts arena, it was smaller, and its moves were more clean and efficient.
Moreover, it was equipped with a weapon.
The weapon was a sword, and its style was very similar to Xie Lingbi’s Natal Sword.
Huang Rang treated it as if it were Xie Lingbi herself and sparred fiercely. Each battle lasted for an hour.
But she couldn’t continue anymore—it was getting dark.
After ten years of imprisonment, she couldn’t bear the darkness anymore.
While contemplating moving some artifacts to illuminate the area, Huang Rang passed by Bailu Pond. She glanced at the usual spot where many love letters were often piled up.
The disciples who came from the outer sect for training knew that the Qilu terrace was her place, so they would often send letters here.
It was unknown how they had agreed on this tradition, but all the letters were placed together at the Bailu Pond, weighed down by pebbles.
Every time Huang Rang came, she could see a thick stack of letters.
But today, there was not a single letter.
It was really… suddenly quiet.
Huang Ran frowned and hurriedly passed by.
After she left, the Qilu terrace returned to its tranquility.
At this moment, someone sneaked up and quickly placed a letter at Bailu Pond. Taking advantage of the darkness, he pressed the letter down with pebbles.
After doing all this, he silently left.
After he left, the puppet in the corner suddenly made a soft click.
Then it walked slowly to Bailu Pond and, surprisingly, lifted the pebbles, picking up the letter. Then it opened its mouth, and its teeth were as sharp as knives. It stuffed the letter into its mouth, making a few crunchy sounds as the letter turned into powder.
At the Celestial Court,
When the chief saw the puppet completely destroy the letter with its nine-curve spirit eyes, he coldly snorted.
Outside, the deputy chief, Zhu Xiang, came in and said, “Chief, the Yuhu Immortal Sect sent a letter requesting two hundred chest plates. I’ve prepared them all. Once you confirm it, I’ll have someone deliver them.”
Di Yiqiu took the document and indeed saw the record of two hundred chest plates.
He signed it casually and said, “No need to trouble yourself. I’ll personally deliver them.”
“Personally…” Zhu Xiang was very hesitant and said, “Will that be too… dangerous?”
Di Yiqiu care about that?
He waved his hand and said, “As the Chief of the Celestial Court, I must handle all matters, big and small.”
You call this handling all matters, but it’s almost like being a courier. Zhu Xiang silently complained.
However, The chief really acted on his words.
Carrying the two hundred chest plates, he personally went to the Yuhu Immortal Sect—without using a teleportation talisman.
The disciples of the Yuhu Immortal Sect who saw him had a very indifferent expression.
No wonder—this Chief was getting too familiar with them due to his frequent visits.
Upon hearing that the visitor was him, Xie Shaochong felt a headache.
Xie Hongchen was unwilling to come forward, so he had to personally go to receive him. However, did Di Yiqiu really need anyone to receive him?
By now, the Chief of the Celestial Court was already familiar with the place.
As expected, when he saw Xie Shaochong, he immediately said, “Xie Shaochong, I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.”
Xie Shaochong couldn’t help but be speechless. “I also didn’t expect that the Chief of Celestial Court would bother to personally deliver a few chest plates.”
—Are you guys at the Celestial Court really that short-staffed?!
But the Chief had a smile on his face and said, “To be honest, I came here this time to meet Sect Master Xie.”
Alright, finally, you have something meaningful to say.
Xie Shaochong asked, “Sect master is in seclusion now. May I ask what the Chief needs? I can pass on the message.”
“No need,” the Chief replied slowly. “It’s just that I was free and suddenly missed Sect Master, so I came to pay a visit.”
“Missed—?” Xie Shaochong’s expression became wary. What do you want?
He said, “Sect Master is in critical seclusion, and Chief’s kind intentions can be conveyed through me. As for a meeting… there’s really no need.”
However, he underestimated Di Yiqiu.
Sure enough, Di Yiqiu continued, “Actually, it’s about equipping the combat puppets with weapons.”
“Equipping… combat… puppets… with weapons?!” Xie Shaochong was shocked.
The Chief was very sincere and said, “Exactly. Currently, the puppets are only equipped with swords, but if they are equipped with knives, they can naturally be used for practicing knife techniques. Oh, and if we put in some effort, we can use sticks, spears, clubs, fists… there’s almost nothing we can’t do.”
You, damn it! Even someone as patient as Xie Shaochong almost cursed out loud.
How many spirit stones are you planning to extort from us with this one puppet?!
But what could he do?
If this puppet could be equipped with these weapons, it would be of great benefit to the disciples technique training.
He had no choice but to report this to Xie Hongchen.
Xie Hongchen had lost his temper and directly instructed Xie Shaochong to invite Di Yiqiu into the Yeyun hall.
Inside the Hall, Di Yiqiu couldn’t see Huang Rang.
—Huang Rang was practicing swordplay in the back hall, so he naturally couldn’t go in.
Xie Hongchen had someone invite him into the study. At first sight, Di Yiqiu noticed the orchids on his desk.
With such a fragrant flower, why bother asking who gave it?
The Chief felt a bit sour, but he quickly suppressed the jealousy, remembering what Li Lu had said.
Li Lu was right. Xie Hongchen was Huang Rang’s master, so he shouldn’t offend him too much, or else it might cause difficulties for her.
So, in a rare moment, he performed a gesture of respect to Xie Hongchen: “Di Yiqiu pays respects to Master Xie.”
With a slight bow, Xie Hongchen couldn’t help but feel suspicious—when did Di Yiqiu become so polite?
He returned the gesture and asked, “Chief, there’s no need to be so polite. According to Shaochong, you have brought up the matter of the puppet’s weapons again?”
On this point, Xie Hongchen’s view was the same as Xie Shaochong’s—haven’t you had enough?
Surprisingly, the Chief remained courteous and replied, “Indeed. If the puppets are equipped with different weapons, they can practice various techniques. But don’t worry, Master Xie, the puppet’s weapons are not expensive.”
As he said this, he suddenly changed the topic. He took out a pack of tea leaves from his storage treasure and said, “I heard that Master Xie enjoys tea, so I brought some this time. Please don’t refuse.”
He offered the pack of tea leaves, but Xie Hongchen hesitated for a long time before daring to accept them.
However, he finally came to his senses and, after taking the pack, gently smelled it, realizing it was a different type of famous tea called “Luoyang Snow,” crafted by Master Xi Lao himself. It was also an exceptionally fine tea.
“The Chief is indeed thoughtful.” Xie Hongchen had many doubts in his heart, so he carefully chose his words, “However, I can’t accept such a grand gift without any reason; how can I, as the Master, receive such kindness from the Chief?”
The Chief sincerely said, “In the past few years, I was young and didn’t understand propriety, and I might have offended you in various ways. I hope you can forgive me, Master Xie.”
Xie Hongchen’s eyebrows furrowed. “Why would the Chief say such things?”
Di Yiqiu brushed his sleeves and performed a deep bow to Xie Hongchen, saying, “Master Xie is Ah Rang’s master, and, speaking of it, also my senior. As a senior, I naturally cannot be disrespectful.”
The Chief was about to present more gifts but was promptly kicked out by Xie Hongchen.
Not only did he fail to see the person he wanted, but he was also treated like this.
The Chief immediately reverted to his usual demeanor and revealed a sarcastic expression.
—This old fellow really doesn’t know how to appreciate others!