Xie Lingbi didn’t expect that Huang Rang’s marriage proposal would encounter so many twists and turns. He was extremely dissatisfied, but he couldn’t come up with a better solution.
Before this, when he proposed the marriage for Huang Rang, it had already caused a stir among the three families, He, Zhang, and Wu. Naturally, he couldn’t use Huang Rang again for his own benefit.
Rumors in the neighborhood were even worse; some said that Xie Hongchen secretly obstructed the marriage and didn’t allow Huang Rang to marry at all. Others said that Di Yiqiu intentionally interfered and wanted to sabotage it.
For a while, the entire sect’s attention was focused on this matter.
On this day, Huang Rang went to the external hall’s post station—Qu Manying had sent her a letter.
Huang Rang casually opened the letter, and once again, Qu Manying mentioned it in the letter, hoping that she would go to the Ruyi Sword Sect for further studies. Of course, Huang Rang had no intention of accepting her goodwill.
She had to resolve the grudges between her and Xie Lingbi. The closer she got to the Ruyi Sword Sect, the more detrimental it would be for them. She turned to leave when suddenly a disciple behind her said, “Senior Sister Huang, there’s something of yours here.”
“What?” Huang Rang approached and saw a large “human-shaped” package. But this time, everyone’s expressions were not as strange as they were when they first saw it. The disciple opened the package, and indeed, there was another puppet inside.
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Mbkp rwrrlv oyp vbl pkgl sq y qwzzu tasod xyd, okvb y tasshl lxcleele okvb y valypwale posae, kdeknyvkdt vbyv kv oyp ydsvbla nsxcyv rwrrlv. Xvbla ekpnkrzlp eked’v qkde kv wdwpwyz yduxsal yde blzrle xshl kv vs vbl Ckzw Mlaaynl qsa Twydt Sydt.
Pwakdt vbkp rlakse, ydsvbla ekpnkrzl pyke, “Fldksa Fkpvla Twydt, vbkp rwrrlv kp xwnb zktbvla vbyd vbl zypv sdl. Rv pllxp vbyv vbl nayqvpxydpbkr sq vbl Ulzlpvkyz Uswav byp kxrashle ytykd.” “Rp vbyv ps?” Twydt Sydt alrzkle ycpldvxkdelezu.
Fbl oyp pvkzz vbkdjkdt ycswv vbyv rlapsd; vbl zypv vkxl pbl pyo bkx, bl zssjle byttyae yde lhld nswtble wr czsse. Fbl bye ds kely ycswv bkp nwaaldv nsdekvksd. Fs obld pbl pyo vbkp rwrrlv, pbl nswzed’v qllz byrru.
Gqvla vbl rwrrlv oyp rzynle sd vbl Ckzw, svbla ekpnkrzlp zlqv sdl yqvla ydsvbla.
Twydt Sydt pvsse kd qasdv sq vbl rwrrlv yde pyo vbyv kv oyp ds ekqqlaldv qasx vbl ralhkswp Uzypp U nsxcyv rwrrlv. Fbl tldvzu vswnble kv, yde kvp pwaqynl oyp pvkzz xyel sq byae osse yde kasd, okvb qzyv qynkyz qlyvwalp vbyv zssjle ayvbla ewzz.
Twydt Sydt pktble, qswde vbl jlu, yde oyp ycswv vs kdplav kv kdvs vbl rwrrlv’p lya. Fweeldzu, vbl rwrrlv nyzzle swv psqvzu, “Gb Sydt.” Mbl hsknl oyp vss qyxkzkya, yde Twydt Sydt oyp pvyavzle yde vssj y pvlr cynj. Gv vbl pyxl vkxl, vbl rwrrlv aykple kvp bydep yde vssj sqq kvp sod blye, alhlyzkdt vbl qynl sq Pk Zkikw kdpkel!!
Rv vssj Twydt Sydt y zsdt vkxl vs alynv. Tl bye rwv bkxplzq kdpkel vbl rwrrlv yde kdqkzvayvle Zwbw’p kxxsavyz plnv! “Zsw…” Twydt Sydt yrrasynble pzsozu, qllzkdt csvb ydtau yde yxwple.
Ylydobkzl, vbl Ubklq oyp yp pbyxlzlpp yp lhla. Tl pvawttzle y qlo vkxlp yde qkdyzzu pyke, “Usxl blal, blzr xl alxshl vbkp zyula sq oym qasx vbl vsr sq xu blye.”
“What is this?” Huang Rang took off a layer of transparent wax from his head and asked.
Di Yiqiu said, “It’s for cutting off the life force. The Yuhu immortal sect’s mountain protection array is very strict, and living beings cannot infiltrate it. I experimented for a long time and found this kind of wax. After sealing the whole body with it, the life force is cut off, and it can be treated as an inanimate object.”
Huang Rang remained speechless. “Why… do you have to go to such lengths?” she sighed. After the Chief removed the layer of wax, he could breathe smoothly again. He smiled and said, “To see Ah Rang even once, facing hardships and dangers, is always worth it.”
Huang Rang didn’t want to pay attention to him, but she unconsciously approached and reached out to touch his face. “After seeing you sick before, have you gotten better?” she asked with concern. The Chief, using the puppet awkwardly, placed his clumsy hand on the back of her hand but didn’t answer the question. He just said, “Marry me.”
Those three words sounded burning hot, and Huang Rang immediately pulled back her hand.
Quietly, Di Yiqiu gazed at her and repeated, “Marry me.” As he spoke, he used the puppet’s shell to kneel awkwardly in front of Huang Rang and say, “Marry me.”
The Qilu terrace became utterly silent, as if only those three words remained.
Huang Rang stared at him, and he plucked a flower from the field and handed it to her, saying, “Marry me.” At this moment, there were no treasures, no jewels, and no tens of millions of spirit stones. Only Di Yiqiu stood before her, appearing cleanly and clearly.
Huang Rang hesitantly accepted the flower—aah, even the flower was grown by herself. Before she could speak, Di Yiqiu, wearing the puppet shell, clumsily embraced her. “You agreed,” he said, and then seemed afraid of her changing her mind, pretending to be unreasonable. “You took my flower.”
The heavy puppet shell was hard and cold, but the person inside was warm. Huang Rang gently touched his face, then pressed her own face against his. Di Yiqiu felt the warmth of her lips, and all his stubborn words were swallowed in his throat.
Huang Rang’s lips were warm and full, with a tender resilience. Di Yiqiu knelt lower than her on the ground, so she supported the puppet shell with her hands and lowered her body. Her silky, long hair cascaded down, partially obscuring the sunlight.
Di Yiqiu smelled a hint of flower fragrance but couldn’t distinguish the type of flower.
After a while, he suddenly realized that Huang Rang had kissed him.
The kiss was long and gentle, and the Qilu seemed to lose all sound. The Chief’s vision went blank, leaving only a vast expanse of whiteness. His breathing stopped, and his brain seemed to buzz.
He couldn’t breathe; it was as if he were drowning, losing all awareness of the world. After the kiss, Huang Rang’s face was also flushed, surrounded by a rosy hue.
She suddenly turned around, and behind her, Di Yiqiu, still wearing the puppet shell, slowly embraced her waist. The puppet’s arms were square and unyielding, while she was soft and delicate, just a light touch away.
Huang Rang gently touched the hands that were firmly clasping her front. Those hands were made of iron and wood, devoid of any vitality. “Di Yiqiu,” she softly said, “I’m sorry.”
Di Yi Qiu pressed his face against her back and said, “I won’t listen to those three words.” After saying that, he repeated again, “Marry me.”
Finally, Huang Rang said, “There won’t be any marriage; it’s not worth it.” However, Di Yiqiu just stubbornly repeated, “Marry me,” as if he had turned into a puppet that could only endlessly repeat those three words.
“Alright,” Huang Rang heard her own voice, carrying a hint of warmth in the dewy and fragrant air.
Behind her, the Chief got the answer he wanted. He let go of Huang Rang’s hand and began to forcefully open the sword groove on his body. Huang Rang heard squeaking sounds behind her and couldn’t help but turn around.
Di Yiqiu was stuck inside the puppet, which was inconvenient. He struggled on the ground for a while, unable to get up. She pushed him down all at once.
As expected, just like all the other puppets, once they fell, it was difficult for them to get up. He struggled on the ground for a while before asking her, “Help me up.”
Huang Rang lightly laughed and approached, helping him to his feet. Fortunately, she had cultivated the martial art, and her strength had increased significantly. Di Yiqiu relied on her support to finally stand up.
“Open the sword groove,” he said, pointing to his side.
Huang Rang then pried open the sword groove for him and took out an artifact sword, asking, “Is this… the new weapon for the puppet?” She knew about puppet weapons—the Celestial Court spent a lot of money on them. Just last time, The Yuhu immortal sect customized nine weapons for that puppet.
Di Yiqiu said, “This sword is a gift for you.” “What… what?” Huang Rang was stunned.
She searched her memory and finally remembered. It was the year she participated in the new disciples’ trial outside Kanyue City, in a small grove. At that time, she had told Di Yiqiu that she wanted to defeat Xie Lingbi.
And Di Yiqiu casually said that she needed a good sword.
Memories were marinated in the flow of time and had long lost their vividness.
But for the sake of that one sentence, Di Yiqiu had been searching and toiling for a hundred years.
Huang Rang held the sword hilt, intending to draw out the artifact sword. However, Di Yiqiu said, “Don’t!”
She looked at him, and he continued, “Xie Lingbi excels in the path of the sword with profound understanding. Xie Hongchen is also the most renowned sword immortal in the history of the Immortal Sects. If this sword is unsheathed, they are not far from here and will surely sense it.”
He earnestly explained, “You should catch Xie Lingbi off guard. So, when you want to defeat him, then draw the sword.” Huang Rang wanted to make a joke to ease the emotions building up within her. She said, “Who knows if you are deceiving me?” Though she said so, her nose felt somewhat blocked. So, her words seemed to be tinged with some moisture. After saying that, she waited silently for Di Yiqiu’s gentle comfort.
Before her, Di Yiqiu, dressed in the clumsy puppet shell, furrowed his brows. Then he began to analyze seriously, saying, “No, I’ve studied Xie Lingbi’s sword. Though he has dedicated himself to the sword, his cultivation cannot compare to Xie Hongchen’s. The essence of the Sword of Natal is about…”
He earnestly explained the way of the sword and the intent behind it for an hour.
Then he spent another half an hour explaining the materials used for the sword. After that, he spent a quarter of an hour analyzing the reasons why this sword could confront the Natal Sword.
Huang Rang squinted her eyes and listened for the entire afternoon. Finally, she believed—Di Yiqiu truly believed that she could understand. So, after Master Qiu convincingly demonstrated the possibility of this sword confronting the Natal sword, Huang Rang suddenly asked, “Diqiu, have you ever considered that I was actually just acting spoiled when I said those words to you?”
“Hmm?” The Chief’s face first showed a question mark, then turned into an exclamation mark.
Huang Rang gestured lightly as if slicing an onion. She opened her red lips and held her fingertips. For a while, she said, “If I were you, I would immediately take off this puppet armor, then embrace the girl acting spoiled in my arms, sweet-talking and swearing. Then I would kiss and caress… rather than spending the whole afternoon explaining and analyzing with the damned Sword of Natal, sword path, and sword intent just to prove that what you said was true.”
The Chief quickly tried to undo the puppet armor’s buckles. However, being inside the armor, he was not flexible enough. He struggled for a long time and finally said, “Come help me!”
But that wicked Huang Rang—how could she assist?
She covered her lips and laughed, watching him in a frenzy. After a while, she picked up the wax-made headgear and went to Di Yiqiu.
“Go back and prepare for our marriage.” She leaned close to his ear, her voice low and gentle, like a feather gently brushing against his earlobe. Then she buckled the wax headgear for him.
As the helmet of the puppet closed again, the Chief’s vision was only filled with a faint light filtered through the translucent wax seal.
He remained silent, and Huang Rang stretched her arms, giving him a hug through the thick puppet armor. She didn’t know why, but suddenly she felt reluctant.
“Di Yiqiu, you know, your name seems to have a strange kind of charm. Just pronouncing it is sweet,” she softly whispered in his ear.
Through the thick armor, she couldn’t see Di Yiqiu’s expression. There were no other expressions from the Chief afterward. He just said, “I will propose as soon as possible.”
In his words, there seemed to be a hint of dry mouth and restlessness. Huang Rang didn’t say anything more. She found a few disciples and had them return the “puppet” to the Celestial Court. The disciples wouldn’t inquire too much, and they helped move the puppet back to the post station at the outer sect. When Huang Rang turned around, she saw the sword Di Yiqiu had gifted her.
It was a heavy sword, but the scabbard was engraved with golden flowers and intricate patterns, and the hilt was wrapped in branches studded with rubies, appearing quite ostentatious.
To be honest, this sword didn’t look very powerful. It seemed more like something used for decorative purposes by a young lady—beautiful indeed, but lacking intimidation.
Huang Rang didn’t know if this sword was really capable of confronting Xie Lingbi’s Natal sword, despite Di Yiqiu’s explanations throughout the afternoon. But… she was willing to swear that normal people wouldn’t understand this thing.
Huang Rang slung the sword over her back and left the Qilu terrace. As she entered Emerald Peak, she ran into someone.
Xie Hongchen usually resided in the Yeyun Hall and rarely walked around the sect.
When the disciples saw him, they instinctively retreated to the side and paid their respects. Huang Rang also stepped back to the side. Among a group of disciples, she followed along and addressed him as “Master.”
As Xie Hongchen passed by her, his steps slowed, but he didn’t stop.
“En,” he lightly responded. Under the watchful eyes of numerous disciples, he couldn’t even spare an extra glance at her.
Once he was far away, Huang Rang returned to her dwelling.
She played with the sword given to her by Di Yiqiu again and suddenly realized that she had no attachment to that person anymore. It was like rain that poured when it was told to and stopped when it was told to. In the end, even the dampness on the road gradually disappeared.
As for Xie Hongchen, he left Emerald Peak, but he had nowhere to go.
Huang Rang hadn’t come to the Yeyun Hall for quite some time, and he had no reason to seek her out either. He stayed in the hall for several days but finally wanted to know what she was doing. He left Emerald Peak and, as expected, encountered Huang Rang.
However, what difference did it make? He couldn’t get closer to her.
So he found Xie Yuanshu, and they drank together all night.
Xie Yuanshu was a reckless person, and he couldn’t help but speak a lot of inappropriate words at the table. Xie Hongchen remained quiet throughout, neither reprimanding nor responding.
The next morning, the Chief came once again, grandly, to propose to Huang Rang. As Xie Hongchen was absent, Xie Lingbi had to deal with it personally on behalf of Xie Hongchen.
He didn’t even bother inviting Di Yiqiu into the Luofu Hall, going directly to the mountain gate of the outer sect and perfunctorily saying, “Thank you for the Chief’s attention. However, Ah Rang is Hongchen’s direct disciple and is used to life in the Immortal Sect. I’m afraid the secular world, with its complexities, might not suit her. Therefore, Chief, please return.”
Just as he finished speaking, a clear and pleasant voice said, “Elder Ancestor, this disciple is grateful for the chief’s generous offer. I am willing to leave behind the cultivation path and marry him.”
Everyone turned their heads in the direction of the voice and saw Huang Rang, wearing a light golden dress, slowly approaching.
Today, she wasn’t dressed in her training attire. Her dress was embroidered and decorated with hairpins and jewels; her eyebrows were lightly brushed; and her makeup was delicate.
All the disciples were immediately in an uproar, and Xie Lingbi’s face turned even uglier. He turned to face Huang Rang directly, his gaze carrying a hint of coercion. He asked, “What did you say?”
He normally exuded immense pressure, and if it were an ordinary disciple, they wouldn’t dare to make a sound.
But Huang Rang smiled, looked directly at him, and said, “I said,Elder Ancestor, this disciple is willing to marry the Chief.” Her enunciation was clear, and her tone was composed.
The atmosphere in Xie Lingbi’s eyes darkened, and after a long while, he sneered, “Huang Rang, when you first became a disciple under my sect, you learned the immortal arts of our sect. Now, you want to marry into the court?”
In recent years, the Celestial Court has risen unexpectedly, and people have compared it to the Yuhu Immortal Sect.
The two factions were openly and secretly in conflict, and no matter what, Xie Lingbi would never send such help to the Celestial Court.
But Huang Rang had naturally foreseen this.
She was about to reply when someone outside the mountain gate said, “Elder Ancestor Xie Lingbi, Ah Rang has been learning and bothering both the Immortal Sect and Elder Xie for many years.”
Xie Lingbi looked up and saw He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou coming together. It was Zhang Shuju who spoke just now.
“Even you three have come, making it truly a full house today,” Xie Lingbi sneered. He Xijin stammered, “A, A, A,Ah Rang…”
Zhang Shuju quickly said, “Ah Rang referred to Madam He as Aunt, and in a sense, we are all related. Since she’s getting engaged, how could we not come to congratulate her?”
Of course, the reason these three came together was that when Huang Rang sent away the Chief’s puppet, she also sent a letter to He Xijin. She knew that Xie Lingbi wouldn’t agree to this engagement, but if He Xijin came forward as an elder, it would be different. As expected, upon seeing He, Zhang, and Wu, Xie Lingbi already knew that this matter was difficult to reverse. He looked at Huang Rang again, and this glance carried a hint of murderous intent.
—This woman made people uncomfortable from the first time we met. Now it seems she’s a troublemaker indeed.
But at this point, he had to accept it. He might as well be generous about it.
So, even though Xie Lingbi still wore a displeased expression, he asked, “The Celestial Court wants to marry my sect’s beloved disciple. I wonder how sincere your intentions are?”
He Xijin and the others looked at Di Yiqiu one after another. If Xie Lingbi made an outrageous demand, there would be nothing they could do.
Unexpectedly, the Chief was courteous and said, “Miss Ah Rang is indeed a priceless treasure, and I have no intentions myself. I ask the elder to decide.”
Xie Lingbi sneered, saying, “My Yuhu Immortal Sect is a reputable sect and not avaricious. But for the Chief to take away my sect’s beloved disciple, I cannot act too rashly. The last time the Chief presented a Super Armor Grade puppet, all the disciples praised it. Now, please present four more puppets. As for this marriage, I’ll agree to it publicly right here.”
His words sounded casual, but asking for four Super Armor Grade puppets was an understatement. It was a preposterous price.
But it was inappropriate for outsiders to intervene in the betrothal gifts. He, Zhang, and Wu could only look at Di Yiqiu.
Di Yi Qiu appeared contemplative and did not respond immediately.
Super Armor Grade battle puppets were not something he could produce instantly. Xie Lingbi coldly smiled and said, “If the Chief finds it difficult, then we can call off the deal. There’s still time.”
It was indeed a difficult request, and even if Di Yiqiu agreed, Shi Wenyu would never consent. Four Super Armor Grade battle puppets represented an enormous expense. How could the court possibly agree to allow the Chief to use them to marry a woman?
Huang Rang sighed inwardly; this was what she had expected. Xie Lingbi was a formidable opponent. She was about to speak, persuading Di Yiqiu to give up on the idea. However, Di Yiqiu suddenly said, “Okay.” The surroundings fell silent, and then everyone exploded with astonishment.
—Four Super Armor Grade battle puppets as betrothal gifts? Is that really possible?
Di Yiqiu looked at Huang Rang and then smiled and said, “It’s not a problem. Miss Ah Rang is priceless to me.”
“But… where will you find the money for this?”
Huang Rang wanted to ask him, but in the end, she didn’t say anything.
At that moment, someone entered from the outer gate, walked through the mountain gate, and stood among the crowd.
He was dressed in white, with a jade crown on his head, untainted by dust. Because he was too eye-catching, Huang Rang spotted him at first glance—it was Xie Hongchen.
“Master!” Huang Rang walked a few steps to stand before Xie Hongchen, knelt down in the dust, and said, “Master.”
Tears welled in her eyes, and she grasped the hem of Xie Hongchen’s clothes, saying, “Disciple was deeply moved by Chief’s feelings and wishes to marry him. I implore the master’s compassion; please don’t make it difficult for him. Master…”
Xie Hongchen had been drinking all night, but while the strong liquor entered his throat, his mind remained clear.
It was so clear that at this moment, when Huang Rang held onto his clothes, pleading so earnestly for another man, he could still feel a pang in his heart. Her words cut like a knife, each word digging into his heart. He lowered his head, looking at the teary eyes of the beautiful woman, like pearls and gemstones trembling.
“Do you truly… love him?” he softly asked.
Huang Rang took a deep breath and said, “Master, I feel affection for him. I wish to marry him, to be together till the end.”
Then… what does our hundred years mean? Xie Hongchen wanted to ask this, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it. Even at this moment, he couldn’t forget his identity.
The First Sword Immortal, the Sect Master of the Yuhu Immortal Sect .None of those were Xie Hongchen.
He extended his hand, wanting to touch Huang Rang’s hair. Her hair was thick and silky, like strands of silk. But now, even this gesture might be wishful thinking. “Alright,” he said softly, “as your… Master, I approve.” Just four words, each piercing like a dagger.
And he lifted his head, looking at Di Yiqiu not far away.
Their eyes met, and the scent of alcohol dissipated from Xie Hongchen’s body, but the intoxication in his heart surged. A hundred years felt like a dream, and he seemed to have nothing left.
He murmured, “I agree. There is no need for any betrothal gifts. If you wish to marry him, then follow him.”
As his words fell, Huang Rang heard a soft sound, and her hand felt a slight coolness. She turned her gaze and saw a teardrop. Slowly lifting her head, she met Xie Hongchen’s eyes. In his perpetually cold gaze, time shattered.
Xie Hongchen, I finally got this teardrop.
Huang Rang used her fingertip to touch that tear, like a dewdrop, and she was momentarily transported back to the past, to the Qilu Terrace. She was close to that jade-like figure, whispering, “My foot is twisted like this, and you don’t even have a word of comfort. Hongchen, you truly don’t understand what it means to care… Or maybe… you just don’t care about me?”
The past shattered into fragments, turning to smoke. After a long while, Huang Rang bowed deeply and said, “Disciple, thank Master for this opportunity. Hongchen, in dreams and reality, I am now awake. The century-old bond ends today. I no longer hate, no longer resent, and no longer feel discontent. And… no longer love.”
From this point on in the Immortal Tea Town, you and I will never meet again.