Black Tortoise Bureau main hall, Celestial Court
Xie Hongchen was invited inside, and fragrant tea was served promptly.
He didn’t rush, holding the teacup in his hands and patiently waiting. He was always courteous, never losing his composure, no matter when.
Footsteps approached from outside, and Di Yiqiu stepped in, bringing with him a gust of wind and snow.
Xie Hongchen set down his cup and stood up. Their gazes met, a hundred years of time in a dream seeming both unreal and real, as if lost yet preserved.
“Master Xie, what wind has brought you here?” The Chief didn’t linger, taking his seat at the main table.
Xie Hongchen ignored his sarcasm and said, “Let me see her.”
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“Pslp lhlausdl alyzzu jdso?” Pk Zkikw zktbvzu zywtble, lynb osae eakrrkdt okvb kasdu: “Mbyv’p talyv vbld. Yypvla Dkl oydvp vs pll bla, yde R nyd taydv uswa okpb. Tsolhla, R ypj vbyv Yypvla Dkl yzps taydv xu okpb kd alvwad; kp vbyv ynnlrvyczl?”
“Qaydv uswa okpb? ” Dkl Tsdtnbld qasodle. “Ebyv jkde sq tyxl yal usw rzyukdt dso?”
Pk Zkikw pyke, “Qkhld vbl nwaaldv pkvwyvksd, oblal kp bla blyav? R clzklhl Yypvla Dkl kp olzz yoyal.”
Of course, Xie Hongchen knew. He said, “Twice she entered dreams, both times pointing at the Yuhu immortal sect; it must be under the orders of the court.”
Di Yiqiu looked at the snow outside—layers upon layers of it in Black Tortoise Bureau Hall. He smiled and said, “Does Master Xie also want to know whether she is acting on the court’s orders or under my influence?”
Xie Hongchen coldly snorted, declining to respond.
But it was evident. Both dreams resulted in harm to the Yuhu Immortal sect. How could he not be suspicious? Even as a hundred-year-old couple from Qilu Terrace, her seemingly intimate actions, and their ambiguous relationship—were they real or fake?
In the past, Xie Hongchen was at least certain that Huang Rang liked him. Regardless of the sincerity, there was some level of affection. But now he was uncertain.
In the first dream, despite her ulterior motives, she could still join his sect, playing a game of closeness and distance for a century. What kind of woman was she really?
Xie Hongchen didn’t answer Di Yiqiu’s question, only asking, “Why doesn’t she come out to meet me personally?”
“Awkward, isn’t it?” The Chief said casually, “After all, the relationship is complicated and confusing. If they were to meet hastily, would they be equals or disciples and masters?”
“True,” Xie Hongchen agreed. He gazed at the snow outside and asked, “So, how do you intend to handle this?”
Di Yiqiu remained calm and said, “I remember the ‘divorce agreement’ letter Master Xie wrote with his own hands in the first dream. It was lost when the dream ended. Now that we’ve met again, why not trouble Master Xie to rewrite that ‘divorce agreement’ letter?”
He noticed Xie Hongchen’s calm demeanor and assumed he had no deep feelings for Huang Rang, probably just lusting after her beauty.
Therefore, Chief casually said, “I will send this letter in, and maybe she will come out to meet you. Who knows?”
As expected. Xie Hongchen wasn’t surprised by Di Yiqiu’s proposal—it had already been hinted at in the first dream. He looked out into the courtyard, seeing the snow falling like flowers and passing through the courtyard.
“This winter is exceptionally cold.”
Xie Hongchen adjusted his white robe and murmured, “If she’s willing, then it’s good.”
Di Yiqiu gestured, and someone brought paper and a brush. Paper was spread out on a small table, and Xie Hongchen dipped the brush in ink. Snowflakes fell incessantly, and a chill accumulated in his heart. He wrote with his pen, freezing memories layer by layer.
If all the past dreams were false and this is the real outcome, then take whatever you want.
A divorce letter, written through the translucent silk.
Di Yiqiu took the contract and rolled it up, storing it carefully in his storage treasure. Xie Hongchen said, “With this letter, she should be willing to meet, right?”
“Of course.” Di Yiqiu’s lips curled into a faint smile, full of mockery. He said, “I’ll go invite her over.”
Xie Hongchen laughed, saying, “It seems that she is indeed more esteemed in the Celestial Court. Even to meet me, it requires the Lord Chief to personally invite her.”
Di Yiqiu was about to leave but paused at Xie Hongchen’s words. He wanted to say something, but in the end, he simply responded, “Master Xie is right. She has become quite delicate now.”
Di Yiqiu left, and Xie Hongchen followed a few steps behind, leaving the Main Hall. On a small path lined with flower tiles in the distance, a plum tree blossomed under the snow, radiant and vivid.
Standing under the eaves, the snow in the courtyard reached his knees.
Xie Hongchen extended his hand, the snowflakes dancing in the wind drifting into his palm.
Someone whispered, “As you leave the mortal realm, it’s unclear if we will meet again. This flower blooms in the snow, and I’ve named it ‘Nian Jun’an‘. (T/N: Longing for Your Safety) .From now on, no matter where you are, through all seasons and times, may you be safe whenever this flower blooms.”
But in the hundred years inside that dream, he had never received such a flower again. Huang Rang, the cold snow has returned today, and you’ve chosen to bloom here in the Celestial Court.
Amidst the wind and snow, someone was coming this way. Xie Hongchen withdrew his gaze. As a result, the fiery red plum tree in his pupils dissipated and fell away. He gazed at the snow and saw Di Yiqiu pushing someone towards him—a wheelchair-bound figure, a woman.
Yes, he was pushing a wheelchair, and sitting quietly in it was a woman. A woman with wind and snow fluttering around her. So, Di Yiqiu moved swiftly.
Indeed, it was Huang Rang.
Moments later, he pushed the woman in the wheelchair into the main hall. Xie Hongchen hurriedly followed, even though he had heard the strange words that Huang Rang spoke in the first dream and even though he discovered suspicious traces in the hidden chamber within the mountain.
Even though he had begun to doubt everything, he had never imagined that Huang Rang would look like this now.
He squatted down and reached out to touch Huang Rang’s hair, feeling a sharp sensation on his fingertips. At that moment, the hand of the First Sword Immortal began to tremble.
He knew what it was. As the master of the Yuhu Immortal Sect, he was more aware than anyone else.
These two words were uttered, seemingly frozen by the winter’s chill, trembling with a shiver of breath.
Di Yiqiu placed a warm basin nearby, placing it at Huang Rang’s feet, and said, “Master Xie wants to ask something, so go ahead and ask. ” He gently wiped away the melted water droplets from Huang Rang’s hair and smiled, saying, “After all, she… has become quite delicate now. In this kind of weather, she wouldn’t want to come out and meet guests.”
However, what else could Xie Hongchen ask for?
A hundred years of love were real; enduring torture was real; and ten years of imprisonment were also real. Yet time had passed, leaving them silent in each other’s presence.
Xie Hongchen wanted to hold Huang Rang’s hand, but Di Yiqiu quickly stopped him. He gently pushed Huang Rang’s wheelchair back a bit and said, “Master Xie might not know, but worldly men and women are very guarded. Such actions are quite impolite.”
Xie Hongchen took a deep breath, calming the turbulent emotions within him. He tried to keep his voice steady and said, “I want to take her back.”
“Take her back?” Di Yiqiu seemed to find something amusing, asking, “And then what? Hand her over to Xie Lingbi?”
Xie Hongchen was taken aback, and the Chief finally burst into laughter, then continued, “Or perhaps make her publicly confess to the Immortal Sect and clear Xie Lingbi’s name?”
The words “clear name” were spoken heavily, almost scornfully. Xie Hongchen’s anger flared, and he said angrily, “Di Yiqiu, she is my wife!”
But then, Di Yiqiu responded, “She hasn’t been for a long time.” After saying this, he gently smoothed Huang Rang’s long hair and said, “Xie Hongchen, even back in Xiancha Town, if she made a mistake once, it doesn’t mean she owes you anything for a lifetime.”
“Made a mistake?” Xie Hongchen sneered, his usually gentle tone turning sharp. “On what grounds are you speaking for her? On what basis are you making choices on her behalf? On what authority are you determining right from wrong for her?”
Di Yiqiu gently placed his hand on Huang Rang’s shoulder, meeting Xie Hongchen’s gaze without flinching, and said, “Based on a hundred years of dreams, she complied with my requests and agreed to marry me.”
Xie Hongchen’s blood ran cold, and he stumbled back a step.
“Can even a dream be taken seriously?”
(T/N: the original Chinese word for the word in bold is ‘Nanke Yimeng’, which is a Chinese idiom with the original meaning of a beautiful dream under the big tree in the south. Later, it often means that the world is like a dream, wealth is easy to lose, and everything is empty and happy. In other words, it means dreamlike illusion or daydreaming.)
Xie Hongchen scoffed, then suddenly said, “Di Yiqiu, today I must take her away.” Xie Hongchen had always been gentle, and few had seen him display a forceful demeanor. But now, with a sword in his hand, he said softly, “No one can stop me.”
“Then let’s settle it once and for all.” The Chief didn’t back down, even mocking “First Sword Immortal. If we’re going to fight, it certainly can’t be in the main hall.”
Xie Hongchen and Di Yiqiu understood each other and retreated to the courtyard.
The wind and snow howled, and a white figure and a purple figure confronted each other in the fierce wind. In an instant, the falling snow became as sharp as blades.
Xie Hongchen’s sword radiated with brilliant light, and Di Yiqiu’s hand once again bore the green scales. A cloud of poisonous mist enveloped him, and the snow fell upon it with a sizzling sound. Everyone around them knew that this situation was bad.
As expected, Xie Hongchen’s sword descended, its clear light as fast as lightning, splitting heaven and earth.
But Di Yiqiu, who had experienced a hundred years of dreams, was familiar with the techniques of the Yuhu immortal sect. He used the poisonous mist to withstand the force of the sword, then his claw-like fingers countered. The clash of their swords and fingers created a storm of residual images.
Huang Rang sat in the courtyard, feeling anxious.
She didn’t want anyone to win or lose in the courtyard, mainly because she was worried that Di Yiqiu might not win. Although Xie Hongchen was detestable, he was no pushover. Compared to Di Yiqiu, who was of a younger generation and a craftsman, he might be at a disadvantage in terms of cultivation.
And outside the courtyard, the chief naturally wouldn’t engage in a direct confrontation.
Since they had agreed to fight, they would naturally give it their all. Xie Hongchen was formidable, and the chief knew it. While the people from the Celestial Court might be trash, at least their mouths weren’t spewing ivory. But with Huang Rang in the hall, if she were to be pinned down and knocked around on the ground…
Just the thought was terrifying.
So the chief used all his resources.
Inside his storage artifact were mechanisms, traps, hidden weapons, and even firearms that the First Sword Immortal had likely never seen.
Indeed, Xie Hongchen had never seen them before.
What was that enormous iron object that shot out thunderous fire from its barrel, scattering debris and shards of ice all over the ground? And what about that round sphere buried in the snow, covered in spikes, which would explode into countless poison needles upon impact?
In short, on this day in the Black Tortoise Bureau, the First Sword Immortal of the Yuhu immortal sect faced off against the Chief. In his anger, Xie Hongchen also realized that this man was not to be trifled with. And as for Chief… he had no time to think about anything anymore.
Huang Rang sat in the main hall, her feet warming by the brazier, her heart burning with anxiety. Li Lu, Bao Wu, and others rushed over, but evidently, it was of no use. In this battle, there was simply no room for interference from the Celestial Court.
Everyone was anxiously pacing around, but fortunately, there was one wise man among them.
Miao Yunzhi came quickly, ignoring the two combatants locked in a deadly battle. He went straight to the main hall. When Huang Rang saw him, a glimmer of hope finally rose within her.
Miao Yunzhi walked swiftly to Huang Rang’s side and raised his hand, gripping the end of the needle that was keeping her consciousness intact. “If you don’t stop now, I will pull out this needle for you,” he said in a solemn tone.
Huang Rang: “…”
Thank you; this is truly a brilliant idea!
However, outside in the courtyard, the two fighters did indeed pause.
The Black Tortoise Bureau Hall was already a mess, and the disciples had retreated to the side. Di Yiqiu strode into the main hall, closely followed by Xie Hongchen. Although Miao Yunzhi’s hand still held the end of the needle, he didn’t dare touch it. Otherwise, his head would throb painfully.
Huang Rang’s gaze trembled slightly, and Miao Yunzhi finally said, “Xie Hongchen, let her stay in the Celestial Court. I’ll take care of her here, so you can rest assured.”
With Miao Yunzhi’s status, his words carried weight, and Xie Hongchen frowned, saying, “How can I leave my wife in the Celestial Court?”
Miao Yunzhi continued, “If you take her back to the Yuhu Immortal sect, how will you explain this to Xie Lingbi?”
At these words, Xie Hongchen was rendered speechless. After a long silence, he responded, “I will do everything in my power to protect her.”
“Xie Hongchen,” Di Yiqiu gently pushed Huang Rang’s wheelchair to face Xie Hongchen, saying, “Tell her in front of her, tell her you will do everything in your power to protect her! Tell her that the needle in her bones and soul is because you protected her with all your might! Being imprisoned in the Luofu Hall was also because you protected her with all your might!”
Xie Hongchen’s gaze fell on Huang Rang, who sat there with a vacant expression, her eyes hollow. She remained motionless, like a lifeless puppet.
How could he possibly say such things?
Years of neglect, guardedness, and feigned distance He had only heard the beginning of her words that year before ending the conversation with a reprimand. A decade of imprisonment, and although he had suspicions, he never sought the truth. So she spent ten years in darkness; who knew the torment she endured? And now, seeing her again, he claimed to have protected her with all his might, but the wounds of the past were already too deep.
“I…,” he said, facing Huang Rang’s lifeless gaze, unable to say the rest.
Miao Yunzhi interjected, “I won’t meddle in your grievances. However, in the midst of this turmoil, the Celestial Court and the Yuhu immortal sect must work together to uncover the truth, not engage in self-destruction. From today onwards, if you two dare to fight again, I will remove this girl’s bone-binding needle to prevent further conflict.”
…The Chief suddenly felt a sense of familiarity with this scene, and upon careful consideration, he realized that it was the same situation that Qiu Shengbai had described to him in the Yuanrong Tower.
– If you don’t drink the medicine, I’ll crush the caterpillar.
Xie Hongchen sheathed his sword. He turned to Di Yiqiu and said, “She is just recuperating here. But once the origin of this dream is clear, I will bring her back.”
Di Yiqiu sneered, “Master Xie, if you want to take back someone you disappointed with your abilities, you naturally have to rely on your abilities. Just relying on words probably won’t be enough.”
Li Lu and the others remained silent. In terms of strength, Xie Hongchen might surpass them, but in terms of verbal skills, their Celestial Court was unbeatable.
Indeed, Xie Hongchen couldn’t be bothered to respond. He approached Huang Rang, attempting to touch her face with his hand, but ultimately refrained. His old acquaintance, as icy and flawless as jade,appeared entirely oblivious.
Yet she used to be such an active person; even during her hundred-year stay on the Qilu Terrace, she had done many things. Xie Hongchen couldn’t imagine her state of mind.
So even the three words “I’m sorry” were so unnecessary.
He said, “I… will search for all records regarding the soul-binding bone-fixing needle and provide them to the senior.”
Miao Yunzhi nodded and said, “Go back and remember the current priority. If Huang Rang were to really speak out, she would also be a master in her own right. Let the scholars squabble among themselves, making a fuss over trivial matters.”
Xie Hongchen looked at Huang Rang again for a long time. Then he bowed to Miao Yunzhi and left the Celestial Court. The snow continued to fall, and in the capital, the winter turned every drop of water into ice.
Di Yiqiu gently stroked Huang Rang’s head and said, “In fact, entering dreams isn’t all that bad. At least you can break free from constraints and regain your freedom, right?”
“What nonsense are you spouting?” Miao Yunzhi glared, immediately scolding, “The way of heaven remains unchanging and independent! Now that such an incident has occurred, calamity may befall us soon! You blind fool, no wonder you’re a descendant of Shi Wenyu! Decayed wood! Rotten mud!”
He scolded like he was reprimanding his great-grandchild, leaving the Celestial Court’s members stunned. Only Huang Rang enjoyed Di Yiqiu’s gentle touch, agreeing with his words. What’s wrong with entering dreams? To be able to bring back the deceased was the heartfelt wish of countless people; what could be wrong with that?
And at this moment, in the Yuhu Immortal sect
Xie Shaochong’s head was throbbing. The elder ancestor’s injuries were severe, and he was howling in pain.
He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou personally examined him, knowing they wouldn’t get much from him. They were all anxious.
Fortunately, at this moment, Xie Hongchen returned to the sect.
He Xijin and the others immediately surrounded him. He Xijin was the first to speak, saying, “Ex… ex… explain…”
Zhang Shuju added, “Master Xie, regarding Ah Rang’s matter, the Yuhu immortal sect must provide an explanation!”
Xie Hongchen was too preoccupied to care about their anxiety. He suppressed his emotions and said, “To be frank, Ah Rang disappeared eleven years ago.”
Now that he had spoken, He Xijin and the others finally let out a sigh of relief.
Zhang Shuju hurriedly asked, “Why did she disappear? The Madam of the Yuhu immortal Sect Master disappeared, yet Master Xie publicly claimed that she was secluded to recuperate. Over these years, have you made any efforts to find her?”
He rattled off a series of questions because this matter had too many unresolved aspects.
Xie Hongchen took a deep breath. If he confessed that Huang Rang had mentioned Xie Lingbi’s matter to him, it would lead to a public trial of Xie Lingbi in the sect. Not to mention the result of the trial; just the speculations and rumors alone would be enough to ruin the thousand-year-old sect.
“After my wife’s disappearance, I sent people to search for her in secret. However…” He hesitated for a moment.
Wu Zichou then said, “You merely used your wife’s disappearance as an excuse. You searched for a long time without results.”
Xie Hongchen remained silent, and Wu Zichou continued, “Could it be that the reports sent by disciples back then were only to praise your noble intentions? However, we were also concerned about Huang Rang and searched for ten years.”
He Xijin added, “Xie… Xie… Xie…”
His speech was becoming more and more difficult. Zhang Shuju had to step in, saying, “And what about Xie Lingbi? Now, after two strange dreams, the target is clearly him! Could it be that Master Xie has no clue at all?”
Wu Zichou also had to try to persuade, saying, “Master Xie, things have come to this point. Are you still going to protect him?”
However, Xie Hongchen said, “I thought that Ah Rang was being deceived. But today, when I went to the Celestial Court, I saw her.”
“Eh…” Mentioning Celestial Court and Huang Rang, He Xijin and the others suddenly felt a bit uneasy.
Xie Hongchen continued, “Last time, someone intruded on the Yuhu immortal sect, and I investigated the traces left behind. I now know it was done by seniors like you. I want to know, how did the three of you find out about Ah Rang’s whereabouts?”
This was getting a bit awkward. The three of them looked at each other. In the end, Zhang Shuju said, “This matter is indeed presumptuous, but we heard about it from the Celestial Court’s Chief.”
He Xijin couldn’t help but omit some details in his haste.
Xie Hongchen thought it over and said, “I will thoroughly investigate this matter. However, for now, relying solely on dreams and with Ah Rang unable to testify in person, it’s not sufficient grounds to publicly trial the elder ancestor… The reasons are not compelling enough.”
He bowed to the three of them and said, “I humbly request the three seniors to allow me to determine the truth before making a decision.”
As the esteemed sect master, he was unexpectedly making a request. He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou were all moved.
Xie Hongchen, if speaking of combat prowess, was unmatched by He Xijin, Zhang Shuju, and Wu Zichou. In terms of identity, he was the top sword immortal of the sect. Over the years, he had worked just as hard as they had.
Such a person, with such sincere words, made Zhang Shuju hurriedly say, “Master Xie, you are being too polite. We dare not object.”
Xie Hongchen still pointed deeply at the three of them before making his way towards Dark Thunder Peak. His once proud posture now showed signs of fatigue.
At Dark Thunder Peak, in the Luofu Hall.
Xie Lingbi had experienced two dream intrusions, causing his cultivation to plummet by sixty percent. Besides the numbness in his waist from the first dream, he was now suffering from a severe headache.
The disciples of Baicao Peak couldn’t heal him. He had no visible injuries to his head, yet the headache was excruciating. For a moment, this former esteemed elder of the sect had fallen into such a state. Even his reputation was on the verge of collapsing.