This time, Huang Rang was going to find someone else.
She arrived at the foot of the mountain and entered an ancient mansion. It was a commercial mansion with many items such as elixirs, weapons, and herbs displayed inside. Due to the wide variety of items, the counter alone was divided into four sections.
Seeing her approach, the four shopkeepers greeted her.
Huang Rang smiled gracefully and asked softly, “Is Brother Xie not here?”
The Brother Xie she referred to was named Xie Yuanshu. It can be said that Xie Yuanshu had quite an impressive background—he was the biological son of Xie Lingbi. Currently, he is in charge of managing some business affairs for the Yuhu Immortal Sect.
Although it was the top sect in the cultivation world, the disciples of the Yuhu Immortal Sect were not exempt from worldly matters. Both inside and outside the sect, there were enormous expenses to be covered. Naturally, there had to be some means of livelihood to support the sect’s foundation.
Therefore, the Yuhu Immortal Sect had set up various branches in many places. The current commercial mansion was located at the foot of the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s mountain and had extremely good business. Although the Imperial Celestial Court also had similar merchandise, the same items with the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s seal would have an incomparable price difference.
—The common people naturally had more trust in these immortal cultivators, who were considered to be the divine beings of the land.
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As soon as Huang Rang entered, the three women felt somewhat embarrassed. Xie Yuanshu coughed lightly, immediately stood up, and sent the three women aside.
Nonchalantly adjusting his attire, he respectfully said, “Little sister, why have you come?”
Xie Hongchen was younger than him, so if you consider it, wasn’t Huang Rang his little sister? Xie Yuanshu had always been relatively well-behaved in front of Huang Ran—his usual mischief was kept in check by Xie Hongchen. If it weren’t for Xie Hongchen covering up for him, he would have probably been beaten to death by Xie Lingbi long ago.
Xie Hongchen knew his habits, so he exercised strict control over him. As a result, although Xie Yuanshu disliked Xie Hongchen, he didn’t dare to be insolent in front of Huang Rang.
Huang Rang sat down at the table, opened the food box, and said, “I had some free time today, so I came to see my elder brother. Oh, why is the elder brother standing? Please sit quickly.”
She smelled nice, and Xie Yuanshu noticed it. He sat down across from Huang Rang and waved his hand to dismiss the three women beside him. When they left, Huang Rang handed him the chopsticks and said, “It’s a cool day today, so I couldn’t walk fast. The pastries had cooled down by the time I brought them here.”
Huang Rang sighed as she spoke, and Xie Yuanshu quickly took the chopsticks and ate a piece, saying, “Delicious, delicious. Little sister’s cooking is delicious whether it’s hot or cold.” After finishing, he sarcastically chuckled, “I’m not as skilled as the Sect master; I don’t have his knack for talking.”
When he mentioned Xie Hongchen, Huang Rang’s expression darkened, and she didn’t answer. Instead, she poured a cup of wine for him.
Xie Yuanshu wasn’t very surprised; Huang Rang was always thoughtful. Even though he knew she had conflicts with Xie Lingbi, she always treated him well on ordinary days. So, compared to others, Xie Yuanshu got along quite harmoniously with Huang Ran. He asked, “Why is my little sister looking troubled today? Did you have a disagreement with the Sect Master?”
Huang Rang’s face showed a troubled expression, and she said, “Elder brother knows him well enough. Today, I just casually said something, and it angered him again.”
Upon hearing this, Xie Yuanshu was surprised. Normally, my little sister always understands his intentions. What did you say today that managed to displease him?”
Huang Rang let out a sigh and said, “Last time, my elder brother had an affair with a girl, and she became pregnant.”
“Why are you bringing up this matter again?” Xie Yuanshu suddenly panicked. “Hasn’t this matter already passed?”
Huang Rang effortlessly recalled all these past events as if they were treasures. “I tried to advise him in the same way. But he said that the elder brother forced the girl to have a miscarriage, watching her bleed without showing any humanity. He insisted on reporting it to the elder ancestor.”
“How could he do such a thing?! ” Xie Yuanshu suddenly stood up in anger. “Didn’t I compensate Zhen’er’s family? They agreed not to pursue it anymore!”
Helplessly, Huang Rang spoke, saying, “You know how he is. I merely tried to persuade him a little… immediately he sternly rebuked me. Elder brother, I’ve served him for a hundred years. It’s said that we’re husband and wife, but in reality, what’s the difference between me and a servant girl? He calls, and I come; he dismisses, and I leave. If he’s even slightly displeased, he can freely scold me.”
As she spoke, tears fell from her eyes, truly like pearls. Her beauty was unmatched.
Xie Yuanshu let out a long sigh, and after a while, he said, “Am I not the same? For many years, despite carrying the title of Xie Lingbi’s son, when have I ever followed my heart’s desires?” Finishing his words, he raised his wine cup and drank another cup. “In the entire Yuhu Immortal Sect, Xie Lingbi is the Elder Ancestor, and Xie Hongchen is the Sect Master. What does it have to do with me? I’ve been relegated to the outer sect, and even to open a shop, I need to have four managers appointed!”
He laughed in anger and drank another cup. “What am I after all?”
Huang Rang also accompanied him and drank a cup. She drank slowly, and one cup of wine was enough to accompany Xie Yuanshu, who drank the entire pot of wine.
The wine was fragrant, but since Xie Hongchen didn’t like sweetness, it only had a subtle aftertaste. Xie Yuanshu became intoxicated by the drink and looked at Huang Ran’s beautiful face with furrowed brows, finding it irresistible.
His audacity increased, and he slowly grasped Huang Rang’s fingertips. Seeing that she didn’t pull away, his joy grew, and he said, “We are both pitiful souls.”
Huang Rang slowly withdrew her hand, turned around, took out a handkerchief, and lightly pressed it against her eye corner. After a long while, she sighed softly and said, “My entire life has been ruined on the Qilu Terrace.”
With the surge of alcohol in Xie Yuanshu, he suddenly gained some courage. He whispered, “Little sister, don’t you want to defy fate and change our destinies?”
Huang Rang’s eyes were red, and teardrops trembled on the brink of falling. “The course of my life has been determined. How can I change it?”
Xie Yuanshu suddenly leaned closer to her and said, “If I become the Sect Master of the Yuhu Immortal Sect, I would never neglect a beauty like you, left alone in an empty room. Wouldn’t your destiny be changed then?”
Huang Rang seemed startled and hastily replied, “Elder brother, please don’t speak nonsense. With Xie Hongchen’s cultivation, how can elder brother… be his match?” She intentionally provoked him, and sure enough, Xie Yuanshu grew even angrier. He forcefully threw the cup to the ground, shattering it into pieces, and Huang Rang recoiled in shock.
Xie Yuanshu turned his head around. The beauty, startled while drunk, appeared helpless like a little rabbit and precious like a hidden gem, like everything beautiful in the world.
He suddenly approached, firmly gripping Huang Rang’s wrist, and said, “As long as you trust me, I will change your fate for you!”
Huang Rang gazed into his eyes, her beautiful eyes brimming with tears. Xie Yuanshu seemed infused with boundless strength. He tightened his grip on Huang Ran’s wrist, pulling her closer to him. “Believe in me!”
Huang Rang stared at his contorted face and gently nodded.
Xie Yuanshu felt an ecstatic rush, and his lustful desires resurfaced. He moved closer to Huang Rang and said, “When I succeed, I will marry you. Huang Ran, you will forever be the wife of the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s Sect Master.” He reached out his hand, almost obsessively wanting to touch Huang Rang’s face. “Although Xie Hongchen is nothing special, his taste in women is quite good. Only a beauty like you is worthy of being the wife of the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s Sect Master.”
Huang Rang lowered her eyes, her beauty filled with sorrow, misty like fog. She whispered softly, “Shu Lang, please don’t betray me.”
This gentle call of “Shu Lang” scratched at Xie Yuanshu’s heart like a hundred claws. Flames of desire blazed in Xie Yuanshu’s eyes as he vowed, “If there’s a single word of falsehood in what I, Xie Yuanshu, say, let me die a torturous and dismembered death!”
Huang Rang let out a gentle sigh and said, “But there are many people here, and prying eyes… Could Shu Lang send them away first? I also need to freshen up.”
Xie Yuanshu immediately became ecstatic. His judgment clouded by beauty, he eagerly rubbed his hands together and said, “Very well, very well! I will make the arrangements immediately.” He quickly walked out, sending the shopkeepers outside first.
Then she ordered someone to close the door.
Huang Rang calmly walked to the incense burner and took out a packet of incense. Using her fingernail, she scooped a small amount and sprinkled it onto the burner. Then she took out a pill that clears the mind and silently swallowed it.
The smoke from the burner rose gently, without any unusual signs.
After a short while, Xie Yuanshu hurriedly returned. Huang Rang sat by the bedside, tending to him as he fell asleep.
She was well aware of the effects of the incense extracted from the spirit herb.
When Huang Shu was young, he had a violent temper and was lustful. Huang Rang and her siblings silently endured, not daring to resist. It wasn’t until one year that Huang Ran witnessed him, in a drunken state, reaching out his claws towards one of her sisters.
Since then, Huang Rang has been cultivating the spirit herb. Of course, Huang Shu, who was rough and oblivious, wouldn’t notice. In the fields filled with the spirit herb, there was also a small variant mixed in.
That tiny variant was enough to bring him pleasure akin to that of an immortal.
Huang Rang had been using this incense for many years.
Its effects were well known to her.
As expected, Xie Yuanshu soon sank into his dreams. It was much more pleasurable than he had imagined. Huang Rang stood by the bed, quietly observing him. The man on the bed revealed his ugly side, but she raised her head and lightly tapped the translucent tea needle made of ice jade in her hair.
The dream shattered, and when she woke up.
After waking up, she could only be imprisoned within the confines of her body. Time was precious, and she couldn’t afford to waste a moment. So, who was manipulating all of this? What was the meaning behind this dream?
Huang Rang didn’t even have time to think about it.
Xie Lingbi, for the past ten years, I have truly been “longing” for you every single moment.
In these years, Huang Rang exerted all her efforts to protect her sanity. As long as there was even a glimmer of hope, she couldn’t lose her mind. And so
Her despair, her breakdown, her fear—she avoided mentioning them. But now, at this moment, hatred has finally revealed its sharp fangs in her heart.
Xie Lingbi, even if it’s just a dream, you will accompany me to hell.
The Imperial Court, the Celestial Court.
Di Yiqiu returned to the Black Tortoise Bureau from the Yuhu Immortal Sect and went straight to the study. He sat for a while, but his mind was filled with the image of the graceful and charming beauty from earlier. She said, “Master of the Celestial Court, recently I brewed some wine and happened to encounter you. It seems we are destined to meet. I offer you a jug of wine; I hope you won’t despise it.”
Married for a hundred years, life has been quite good. The Master of the Celestial Court adjusted his posture, feeling discomfort as if sitting on a pile of stones. But there was still a thorn in his side.
Bao Wu brought two boxes of documents. These documents were already sorted, and he could file them after reviewing them. Bao Wu found it strange when he saw Di Yiqiu sitting behind the desk in a daze. Di Yiqiu rarely seemed absent-minded. So he couldn’t help but call out, “Master?”
Di Yi Qiu snapped back to attention, picked up a document, and flipped through a few pages, feeling a strange familiarity. This document—he seemed to have seen it before. But no matter how he tried to recall, he couldn’t remember when exactly.
After pondering for a while without any clue, he decided to put the document aside and change his posture. After a while, he suddenly asked, “The Yuhu Immortal Sect has a type of wine with a rose fragrance. Do you know about it?”
It turned out that even with so many thoughts swirling in his mind, he was still thinking about this matter.
“Ah?” Bao Wu frowned. He had no idea about any wine with a rose fragrance. He was used to drinking strong liquor. After thinking for a while, he said, “I don’t know. But perhaps Li Lu might know. I’ll have him look into it.”
Di Yiqiu nodded and fell silent.
Li Lu was at the Vermilion Bird Bureau, inspecting this year’s stock of spirit herbs, when he suddenly received this task, which seemed inexplicable. He asked, “A wine with a rose fragrance?”
Bao Wu nodded, equally perplexed.
But Di Yiqiu was not someone who would go to great lengths for personal desires. In fact, his personal life has been very simple over the years. If he wanted to find this wine, there must be a reason! Li Lu didn’t dare to be careless and had to send someone to inquire at the Yuhu Immortal Sect’s shops.
The Yuhu Immortal Sect doesn’t sell wine. Li Lu asked several people and spent a considerable amount of money on bribes, but in the end, he received the information that this wine couldn’t be bought with money. It was specially brewed by the sect master’s wife, Xie Hongchen, and there was only a small jar of it.
Li Lu anxiously relayed this message, and upon hearing it, Di Yiqiu only responded with a nod. Li Lu felt guilty for not accomplishing anything and was quite apprehensive. He cautiously asked, “Does this wine hold any secrets? If I knew the underlying reason, perhaps we could approach it from another angle.”
Secrets? Di Yi Qiu looked at him inexplicably and said, “It’s just a gift from an old friend. I didn’t accept it at the time, and now I feel unsettled.”
So he regrets it?
Li Lu really wanted to roll his eyes at him.