As the years went by, Huang Rang couldn’t really feel the passing of time. Her life was monotonous; she practiced and bred day by day.
Until one day, while she was breeding on the Qilu Terrace, a golden cicada fell from the leaves and landed in her hand.
It was a beautiful golden cicada, translucent under the sunlight. Ah, it was Xie Jiu’er.
A faint smile appeared on Huang Rang’s lips as she held the golden cicada in her hand. The cicada crawled around in her palm, somewhat frightened. Di Yiqiu from the Celestial Court looked at Huang Rang’s profile.
He didn’t understand what was so attractive about a golden cicada. But Huang Rang slightly lowered her body and placed the cicada on the ground.
The cicada twitched slightly, trying to crawl away, but halfway through, it turned back again. Huang Rang remained standing where she was, not moving forward. It turned out that in this world, when something is lost, it’s lost. There’s no reunion of broken pieces; there’s no regaining what’s lost.
Huang Rang began to sense the passage of time. Gentle and merciless, she nurtured all things without attachment.
The chief of the Celestial Court still visited the Yuhu Immortal Sect every six months to maintain the puppets.
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Indeed, rumors about the two first spread on the black market, describing them in a lewd and indecent manner. Later, Qu Manying sent a letter, asking if Huang Rang would like to stay at the Ruyi Sword Sect for a while.
Qu Manying had good intentions.
Huang Rang was a fine woman, beautiful as a celestial, and her sword skills were unparalleled. She had no reason to involve herself in such troubles. If she really tarnished her reputation, would Xie Hongchen still marry her? Besides, if something really existed between them, the consequences might be unimaginable.
However, Qu Manying’s good intentions were eventually rejected. Huang Rang did not reply to her letter; in the end, the outcome is often bitter.
At that time, if she had close relatives, what should be done? Would He Xijin still go against the Yuhu Immortal Sect for her?
As the rumors escalated, they finally caught the attention of someone else—Xie Lingbi.
Xie Lingbi initially didn’t take the rumors seriously.
He knew who Xie Hongchen was and didn’t believe he would jeopardize his own reputation and the sect’s reputation for a woman. But as the sect leader, it was inevitable for him to give a warning or two.
When Xie Lingbi entered, the disciples were not allowed to announce his arrival.
He went to Xie Hongchen’s study and saw him at the desk, arranging sword arrays, while Huang Rang was grinding ink by his side. The two were talking softly, and although they didn’t have any inappropriate behavior, their intimacy was evident.
“Master,” Xie Hongchen stood up and saluted as he saw Xie Lingbi entering. Xie Lingbi glanced at Huang Rang and said, “You go out first.” “Alright,” Huang Rang complied and left as instructed.
Sitting down at the desk, Xie Lingbi pondered for a moment and said, “Huang Rang has been studying under you for quite some time. It’s said that a master and disciple relationship is like that of a father and child. As her master, you should also consider her future.”
Knowing Xie Lingbi’s temperament well, Xie Hongchen didn’t believe he would blindly believe the rumors. He asked, “She is intent on cultivating as an immortal and seeking the Dao. Considering this, a hundred years is not too long.”
Ignoring his objection, Xie Lingbi said, “A day as a master is a lifetime as a father. Nowadays, there are many good families in the immortal sect. As her master, you should naturally pick a good family for her. Once she gets married and has a home, it won’t delay her cultivation and pursuit of the Dao.”
Having seen what happened just now, he had already thought of a solution for Xie Hongchen.
Xie Hongchen had a good reputation and was highly respected. There was nothing disgraceful between the two, so once Huang Rang got married, whether it was Xie Hongchen or the Yuhu Immortal Sect, they could easily get rid of any suspicions.
Xie Lingbi believed he was already considering Xie Hongchen’s interests. However, Xie Hongchen replied, “I don’t agree with this.”
“What did you say?” Xie Lingbi’s pupils contracted slightly. This was the first time Xie Hongchen had gone against him after all these years. But Xie Hongchen didn’t back down; his voice was clear and his attitude unwavering. “Ah Rang has been studying diligently under me and devoting herself to cultivation. Her lifelong decisions should be made by her. Even though I am her master, I won’t interfere.”
“Not interfere?” Xie Lingbi laughed furiously, “Very well!”
“Huang Rang!” He raised his voice.
Huang Rang hadn’t gone far and was standing outside the door. When she heard Xie Lingbi’s voice, she immediately said, “Disciple is here.” Xie Lingbi gazed at Xie Hongchen and asked slowly, word by word, “You are not young anymore. The Elder ancestor intends to arrange a marriage for you. What do you think?”
Arrange a marriage?
In Huang Rang’s heart, her mouth curled slightly, and the venom seemed to be dripping from her fangs. However, in front of others, she looked at Xie Hongchen, her expression like that of a frightened little animal, momentarily stunned.
Xie Hongchen frowned and immediately said, “It’s okay; if you don’t want to, just explain it to the Elder ancestor in person. Although you have become my disciple, you don’t need to be troubled.”
He said this in front of Xie Lingbi. For some reason, there was a hint of familiarity.
Xie Lingbi sneered, his face covered in dark clouds. He looked at Huang Rang, and his gaze already carried a hint of pressure. “You tell me, do you want it or not?”
I want it, ah.
Huang Rang’s heart sneered, but the expression on her face was pure and beautiful. She glanced at Xie Hongchen, blinked her eyes, and her long eyelashes crushed a tear. The tear shattered into pearls, shining with a faint light.
“Disciple… will naturally obey the Elder ancestor’s command,” she said softly.
“Ah Rang!” Xie Hongchen frowned.
Xie Lingbi coldly smiled. “Did you hear what she said?”
Huang Rang lowered her head, no longer looking at Xie Hongchen. Finally, she knelt down, her voice low, as if choking back tears, and said, “The Elder ancestor bestowing this marriage is the disciple’s fortune. Please, Master… do not dispute with the elder ancestor. The disciple… is willing.”
“If that’s the case, it’s good that you are sensible.” Xie Lingbi originally thought Huang Rang was pestering Xie Hongchen. But now he had seen through the situation. Between these two, it seemed that Xie Hongchen was also deeply entangled.
He was increasingly grateful that he had noticed it early. If he waited for someone with ill intentions to seize something as evidence and make a fuss about it, the Yuhu Immortal Sect would become a laughingstock in the immortal sect.
“Since that’s the case, then this matter is settled.” Xie Lingbi stood up and said, “Hongchen, these days you have no other important tasks, so accompany me and find a good family for your disciple.”
Xie Hongchen looked at Huang Rang. How could he not see through this woman in front of him?
So, what he saw before his eyes was only compromise due to worldly affairs, sect matters, and numerous acts of helplessness.
He moved like the wind and walked up to Huang Rang, looking down on her from above. He said, “Ah Rang, I’ll ask you again. If you don’t want to, don’t force yourself.” The tenderness and pain in his tone were emotions Huang Rang had never seen from him before.
In the vast years beyond the dream, he was sometimes cold and indifferent, and at times he couldn’t resist her temptations, which burned like fire. But he had never felt heartache for her.
He coldly watched her sadness and melancholy, counting the days as they passed and measuring the pure frost and white dew on the Qilu Terrace.
Huang Rang didn’t raise her head; a familiar voice rang in her ears. The person who had been engraved in her heart countless times was right in front of her. Time intersected, overlapped, and eventually drifted apart.
She took a deep breath, looked up with a faint smile, and said, “Master, there’s no need to make it difficult. This disciple is willing.”
At that moment, a faint glimmer of water shone in Xie Hongchen’s eyes.
Huang Rang gazed at his face; those features were still handsome, the appearance she had touched countless times in her memories. Tears welled up in her eyes as she smiled, saying, “Master, I am forever grateful for your teachings over the years. But Master and disciple are ultimately different.”
Even though it was just acting, at this moment, her words felt somewhat piercing.
Of course, they were different.
I was in the dust all along, while you were in the clouds.
When I struggled between life and death with the mud flowing over my head, you asked why my wings were dirty.
When our eyes met, the brilliance in Xie Hongchen’s eyes shattered.
Huang Rang stood up and slowly retreated. Eventually, she gently lifted her sleeves and left the Yeyun Hall like a golden sun, gradually getting further and further away.
Seeing the state of the two, Xie Lingbi had made up his mind and would no longer show any mercy.
He immediately said, “Nowadays, there are plenty of outstanding candidates in the immortal sect suitable for her. Follow me, and we will pick one together.” He said this, not wanting to create any real grudges with Xie Hongchen.
Xie Hongchen had been raised by him, known as master and disciple, but their relationship was more like father and son.
Xie Lingbi’s son, Xie Yuanshu, was extravagant and dissolute and didn’t have much ability. Xie Lingbi had given up on him long ago. Therefore, he had devoted all his thoughts to Xie Hongchen from an early age, and Xie Hongchen also lived up to his expectations. Their relationship had always been an example for the immortal sect.
Now, he could see that Xie Hongchen was about to become tainted for the sake of a woman, and Xie Lingbi would never just sit idly by. But at the same time, he didn’t want to seriously injure Xie Hongchen because of this.
After Huang Rang left, he spread out a piece of paper and wrote down the names of various people in the sect who could marry Huang Rang.
“That girl’s appearance is not bad, and her cultivation is decent,” he said in a deep voice. “You can choose a suitable one for her from these. You don’t need to worry about the rest.”
Xie Hongchen looked at those names, silent.
Xie Lingbi waited for a long time before finally raising his hand and placing it on Xie Hongchen’s shoulder. Neither of them said anything, but it seemed like they had said everything. After a long time, Xie Hongchen’s fingertip fell on the paper, pointing to a name.
He chose Zhang Xinbai, the son of Zhang Shuju.
Zhang Xinbai was Zhang Shuju’s only son, not only handsome but also intelligent. More importantly, he had a good upbringing. This could be seen in his father, Zhang Shuju.
He had been in closed-door cultivation for years, and although his mother, Feng Zheng’er, was a fierce tiger, she had declared many years ago that the men of the Zhang family would only marry one woman in their lives.
Such a family had a good reputation and considerate husbands, and she wouldn’t suffer there.
Xie Lingbi didn’t say much. He got up and left the Yeyun Hall, and someone else would take care of arranging this matter. After all, he was also a man. In fact, he could empathize with Xie Hongchen.
Huang Rang’s appearance needed no explanation, and her temperament also matched Xie Hongchen’s preferences. Having such a woman by his side for a long time would inevitably give rise to some fantasies.
Of course, while he could empathize with Xie Hongchen, he didn’t really think much of Huang Rang.
If it weren’t for Xie Hongchen, a woman like this would have her soul locked with the Soul-Locking Bone-Piercing Needle and be thrown into a secret chamber in the back mountain. Why bother with such trouble?
But he couldn’t do that after all.
Presently, Huang Rang has gained high prestige among the people due to her long-term work in breeding with He Xijin and others. He Xijin and the others also paid close attention to her. Plus, it was evident that Xie Hongchen had deep feelings for her. It would be difficult to make such a person disappear out of thin air.
Shortly after, in the Wenxin Pavillion.
Zhang Shuju, Feng Zheng’er, and Zhang Xinbai were having a meal together. Although the Zhang family was a family of cultivators, they had long given up consuming food. However, Feng Zheng’er still set a family rule that everyone in the family must gather at the table every three days to eat together.
When she first married into the Zhang family, she was full of ambition, vowing to give birth to ten or eight little sons. But after giving birth to Zhang Xinbai and experiencing the pain of childbirth, she realized how excruciating it was. So her ambition died, and her dreams turned to ashes.
Mrs. Zhang would no longer have children. As a result, there were no grandchildren, which had always been a pain in her heart. Now, only the three of them followed this family rule, making it quite desolate.
Zhang Xinbai scooped vegetables for his father and said, as usual, “Mother’s cooking has improved a lot.”
“Heartless little brat!” Zhang Shuju simply placed a plate of dishes in his son’s bowl. “My son is right; your cooking improves a lot more!”
What? His biological father?! Zhang Xinbai’s heart pounded. He didn’t know how many salt sellers his mother had killed today. Also, why were the vegetables burned this time when they were served raw last time…
The father and son frantically scooped vegetables into each other’s bowls.
Feng Zheng’er smiled and said, “If it’s not enough, I’ll make two more.” “Enough!” The father and son almost said in unison, “How can we let Madam (Mother) work so hard…”
At that moment, a disciple outside the door said, “Master, Madam, someone from the Yuhu Immortal Sect is here with a message.”
“The Yuhu Immortal Sect?” Thank goodness! Zhang Shuju directly poured another plate of unidentified dish into his son’s bowl. Then, he took the letter, opened it, and his expression turned somewhat strange.
“What’s wrong?” Feng Zheng’er asked.
Zhang Shuju said, “It’s from the Elder Ancestor Xie Lingbi. He invited us, along with Xinbai, to visit the Yuhu Immortal Sect.”
Feng Zheng’er found it very strange: “It’s okay to invite you, but at a time like this, with nothing major going on, why ask me and Xinbai to go?”
Zhang Shuju handed the letter to her and said, Madam, you hit the nail on the head.” He glanced at Zhang Xinbai, pondered for a moment, and then said, “He specifically mentioned Xinbai. Could it be… he intends to arrange a marriage?”
Feng Zheng’er’s brows furrowed slightly, saying, “A few days ago, I heard Sister Manying mention something.”
As Zhang Shuju and her were connected as one, he immediately asked, “Huang Rang?”
Feng Zheng’er nodded and said, “Who else in the Yuhu Immortal Sect could make Elder Ancestor Xie Lingbi personally propose marriage? Moreover, if they are considering Xinbai, it must be someone exceptional, not an ordinary disciple.”
“Um.” Zhang Shuju still found it strange and said, “Speaking of Ah Rang, I heard some very unfavorable rumors about her a few days ago.”
Feng Zheng’er put down her chopsticks and said seriously, “Can you believe the rumors of those hooligans? Ah Rang has a hard life; both her parents are gone. The Xi family has been picking on the Huang family to force her to recognize her ancestral roots. She’s just a woman enduring so much hardship, which is not easy. Now that these vile rumors have spread, in my opinion, it must be the Xi family’s doing!”
“Yes, yes, you’re right,” Zhang Shuju hurriedly agreed. Feng Zheng’er said, “Since Elder Ancestor Xie Lingbi sent a letter, let’s go and take a look. If Ah Rang is unwilling, then we’ll bring her back to the Wenxin Pavillion to study.”
Zhang Xinbai frowned and said, “Mother, why don’t you think about it? What if Miss Ah Rang is willing?”
Unexpectedly, as soon as he said this, Feng Zheng’er’s eyes sparkled, and she teased, “Then you should go to the Zhang family’s ancestral tomb and see if it emits blue smoke.”
She was drooling at the thought. Zhang family, father and son: “…”
This family wasted no time and went to the Yuhu Immortal Sect on the same day they received the letter. At that time, Huang Rang was on the Qilu terrace, sparring with a puppet.
Inside the puppet was a newly replaced chestplate. The moves were different from before.
During a break, Huang Rang gently stroked the puppet’s face. She hadn’t seen Di Yiqiu in many years.
But the puppet’s chestplate was changed frequently, showing that Di Yiqiu personally came every six months to maintain the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s puppets. Even after so many years, he never missed it.
Huang Rang once yearned for Xie Hongchen, waiting for him on the Qilu terrace day and night. Later, in the secret chamber of the Luofu Hall, she cried heart-wrenching tears and hoped day after day, looking forward to seeing him.
Then she waited for Di Yiqiu as well, lying on his bed, unable to speak or move, as time moved step by step. Other than him, she had no other expectations.
Afterward, she was sent to the White Bone Cliff. She became desolate and didn’t want to wait anymore. But Di Yiqiu kept coming.
Now she stood on the Qilu terrace again. She looked at the puppet Di Yiqiu gave her, and the puppet looked back with empty eyes. Di Yiqiu, if there’s another dream, I want to go to you. Learning skills is too arduous, and seeking revenge is too difficult. She suddenly thought this way.
Meanwhile, at the Celestial Court.
Di Yiqiu sat in front of the Nine Curves Spirit Eyes, watching Huang Rang absentmindedly stare at the puppet. Until… she took out a few pages of sword-move sketches.
Uh… the chief reached out but suddenly realized he couldn’t touch anything. Paper… it’s better not to bring it there! The chief covered his eyes with his hand.
Huang Rang didn’t grasp a few sword moves well, so she drew some sketches and decided to spar with the puppet again.
Meanwhile, the puppet, which had been standing motionless, seemed to sense something suddenly. It made a creaking sound and slightly raised its head. “?” Huang Rang was puzzled. She put the letter on the edge of the bailu pool and was about to spar with the puppet again when the puppet’s neck turned and it actually went around her.
Huang Rang watched in astonishment as the puppet walked to the edge of the Bailu Pool and then bent down, picking up the sketches Huang Rang had placed there. Then it opened its mouth, revealing sharp teeth.
Huang Rang saw the sketches being stuffed into its mouth, and in a few moments, they turned to powder.
Huang Rang stood there, dumbfounded, pondering for a moment until she finally understood—why she hadn’t received any love letters in so many years.
In this world, a dog is just a dog. When young, it’s a puppy; when grown, it’s a big dog. Even if it gets old, it will still be an old dog.
Truly, don’t expect it to become something else.
… If there’s another dream, it’s better not to go to him again!!!. This dog-like thing is not a good person.
At the Celestial Court, in front of the Nine-Curves Spirit Eyes, the chief looked up at the sky.
Fortunately, at this moment, a disciple came up and reported, “Senior Sister Huang, the Elder Ancestor invites you to the reception hall. He said Zhang Shuju, the Sect Master, has come with his family and asks you to freshen up and come over.”
“Ah, alright.” Huang Rang naturally knew what was going on.
Perhaps it was about Xie Lingbi’s intention to find her a marriage partner. Now she finally has some clues. Huang Rang slapped the puppet and then left the Qilu terrace.
On the other side of the Nine-Curves Spirit Eyes, the chief furrowed his brows. Zhang Shuju brought his family to the Yuhu Immortal Sect. Elder Ancestor Xie Lingbi specially sent someone to invite Huang Rang and even asked her to freshen up. Isn’t this strange?
The chief, with his unparalleled wisdom, analyzed it briefly and immediately grasped the essence of the matter.
Over these years, there have been some rumors and gossip about Huang Rang and Xie Hongchen. Although nothing concrete came out of it, it’s still unpleasant. Rumors don’t arise out of thin air; there must be some reason behind them.
As a result, those young talents in the sect who used to have feelings for Huang Rang gradually dispelled their thoughts. However, Zhang Xinbai, the son of Zhang Shuju, is indeed an excellent candidate.
Firstly, He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou have always requested Huang Rang’s help in breeding superior seeds, so they hold her in high regard. Moreover, Xie Hongchen has always been righteous, and Zhang Shuju is not someone who blindly believes in rumors.
Just a few rumors won’t be taken seriously by Zhang Shuju and his family. They are most likely to agree to this marriage proposal.
Secondly, the Wenxin Pavillion is also a significant force in the sect. If Xie Hongchen’s disciple marries into the Zhang family, it not only dispels the rumors but also brings prestige to both families. It won’t tarnish the reputation of the Yuhu Immortal Sect.
Xie Lingbi is truly a shrewd tactician, sneered the Chief.
But… has anyone asked for my opinion on this marriage proposal!