Early the next day, Huang Rang prepared breakfast and brought it over as usual. The chief sat down to help set the table, but there was an awkward atmosphere between them.
Di Yiqiu picked up a forkful of food but didn’t know what today’s breakfast was. Huang Rang also remained silent, and the two of them sat there like wooden statues.
Di Yiqiu stole a glance at Huang Rang and suddenly noticed her long and immaculate hands, with each nail looking pink and glossy. She was Third Dream, something he should have realized a long time ago, especially given her hands.
Di Yiqiu had never paid attention to this before. The chief picked up another forkful of food but still didn’t seem to enjoy the meal. It wasn’t until Huang Rang reminded him, “You just ate cinnamon.”
“Phew…” The chief quickly spit it out. Huang Rang covered her mouth and started to chuckle.
The chief coldly snorted and, after a while, said, “I… I have to make a visit to the Ministry of Rites today.”
He suddenly mentioned this, leaving Huang Rang bewildered. “Why?”
The chief’s expression grew serious: “Although I haven’t been conferred with a noble surname, if I intend to marry, I must follow the court’s protocols.”
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Mbl nbklq qasodle yde pyke, yqvla y obkzl, “Vzlypl zlv bkx kd.”
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He glanced at the dishes on the table and then at Huang Rang, who was standing nearby. He asked, “Did Miss Ah rang personally cook these dishes?”
Huang Rang had to say, “I’m not skilled in cooking, so please forgive me, Master.”
She continued to be polite and asked, “If Master hasn’t had a meal yet, would you like me to serve a bowl for you as well?”
It was just a polite offer, and she never expected Xie Hongchen to agree. Xie Hongchen, in truth, had a rather fussy personality.
However, to her surprise, Master Xie actually sat down across from the chief and said, “In that case, I’ll trouble Miss Ah rang.”
Huang Rang couldn’t believe her ears. Even Di Yiqiu was taken aback, and he glanced at Xie Hongchen. But Master Xie remained composed.
Once words were spoken, there was no taking them back. Huang Rang had no choice but to take a bowl and serve some congee to Xie Hongchen.
Xie Hongchen took a sip and praised, “The congee is made with crabmeat broth, which makes it even more delicious. Miss Ah rang has put a lot of effort into this.”
Crabmeat broth? The chief glanced at the congee but couldn’t see any of it. He couldn’t see it because Xie Hongchen had a discerning palate, and Huang Rang used these ingredients to flavor the broth, not leaving any traces in the congee.
This habit was established back when she was still at the Qilu Terrace, and she had retained it even after leaving.
Xie Hongchen continued to enjoy the congee, and it was evident that his taste hadn’t changed over time.
The chief put down his chopsticks and asked, “Did Master Xie come today because of hunger, perhaps?”
Xie Hongchen regarded the chief’s words as a child’s teasing and didn’t take offense. He continued to leisurely savor the congee, occasionally pairing it with some side dishes.
Huang Rang’s culinary skills surprisingly met his approval, and he didn’t stop until the meal was over, putting down his bowl and using a silk cloth to wipe his face.
He then smiled and said, “The reason for my visit this time is because, last time,Third Dream bred a bitter lotus for Senior Miao. The Yuhu Immortal Sect possesses a rare type of sacred herb with limited production, and its medicinal properties have not improved for many years. I would like Miss Ah rang to convey this to Third Dream. If she can bred this excellent variety, there will be a significant reward.”
After he expressed his purpose, Huang Rang had a clear understanding of it.
She replied, “Master, you’re too kind. Do you have the sacred herb with you? Besides, working with sacred herbs is different from breeding excellent varieties; it requires a deep understanding of their medicinal properties, which might take some time.”
Xie Hongchen, of course, understood this. He retrieved a sacred herb from his storage artifact and said, “Of course. I am familiar with the properties of this herb. If Miss Ah rang has some free time, we can discuss it further.”
Huang Rang accepted the herb and said, “Master, I will definitely convey your request to Third Dream.”
Only then did Xie Hongchen say, “To be honest, when I first met Miss Ah rang, I had a feeling of knowing her for many years. If Miss Ah rang has the time, the Yuhu Immortal Sect is always welcoming for you to visit.”
Knowing her for many years? But in that place, I really don’t want to return to it.
Huang Rang smiled as well. She stood upright, composed, and polite, displaying a demeanor quite different from her usual self.
“Thank you for your warm invitation, Master. I will remember it,” Huang Rang replied with a smile. Perhaps, between people, certain habits persisted. For example, in front of Xie Hongchen, even after all these years, she still instinctively maintained a facade.
Xie Hongchen nodded and then turned to leave.
It wasn’t until he had left that the chief finally snorted.
Huang Rang lowered her head to put away the dishes and then wiped the table clean.
The chief, with nowhere for his frustration to go, said with a sarcastic tone, “It seems that Master Xie isn’t interested in wine but in a bowl of congee.”
Huang Rang couldn’t be bothered to respond. When she finished cleaning the table, she turned to leave. The chief, irritated, said, “Could it be that Master Xie, reluctant to part, has experienced the countless charms of Miss Ah rang as well?”
He said that, and Huang Rang couldn’t be bothered to argue with him. But, of all things, he just had to say it.
Huang Rang turned around in silence and placed the food containers on the table.
Although the chief was irritated, he couldn’t help but take a step back at this moment. He retreated in his footsteps, but his mouth remained defiant. He sneered, “What’s this? Have I hit the mark?”
Initially, it was just a jealous remark, but Huang Rang asked, “Di Yiqiu, do you really care that much about Xie Hongchen?”
She asked with a seriousness that made the chief have a foreboding feeling. Nevertheless, he continued to sneer and replied, “What’s it to you? Shouldn’t I care?”
Huang Rang said, “Of course you should. I should have realized it long ago.”
After all, as a woman who had remarried, she wasn’t a suitable match for the later chief of the Celestial Court. Some things couldn’t be discussed openly. Who knew what he really thought?
She added, “Since the chief cares so much, then so be it.”
After saying this, she turned and left.
The chief knew he was in the wrong, but he still chased after her. However, there were many students coming and going outside the door, and various officials were entering the yamen to take their shifts. He couldn’t bring himself to chase her in this crowd. What could he say, even if he did catch up to her? After all, he had his reputation to maintain!
He returned to his room, pondering the situation, and felt that Xie Hongchen was the real troublemaker. In the future, he would need to forbid Xie Hongchen from setting foot inside the Celestial Court again.
In the afternoon, even worse news arrived! The head of the Breeding Institute, Zong Zigui, rushed over and said with a serious tone, “Chief, today Huang Rang suddenly requested to drop out of the school.”
“Drop out?” The chief’s heart skipped a beat.
Zong Zigui was also anxious and continued, “Moreover, she has your initial order with her. It seems she wants to leave immediately.”
The chief stood up and then slowly sat back down.
She wanted to leave… and drop out. She had made up her mind.
“Chief, you should make a decision!” Zong Zigui urged, “Now that the Breeding Institute has finally achieved some results, if she leaves…”
The chief fell into deep thought, contemplating the implications of Huang Rang’s decision.
The head of the Breeding Institute talks endlessly, leaving Di Yiqiu feeling restless. He said, “Deputy Chief, please go back for now. I’ll find a way to deal with her situation.” He was just trying to brush off the issue.
The head of the breeding institute, Zong Zigui, was no fool; he knew that there was something more to the relationship between the two. So, he added a reminder: “Chief, if she goes back to the Ruyi Sword Sect, which is a thousand miles away from the capital, it will be much more difficult to meet her.”
Di Yiqiu didn’t need his reminder. He replied, “Please go ahead, sir.”
Zong Zigui left. Di Yiqiu paced back and forth in the study.
Of course, he regretted the situation, but as a proud man, could he really lower his head and apologize? After all, he didn’t do anything wrong.
She had been so sweet and gentle with Xie Hongchen, welcoming him with a smile and even serving him congee! Oh, Xie Hongchen was quite an admirable figure. Even Congee couldn’t silence him, and he could discern multiple layers of taste in it!
The chief grew angrier the more he thought about it. What had he done wrong?
At this moment, Deputy Li Lu sent someone to inform him that the Breeding Institute had already processed Huang Rang’s withdrawal from the school.
A little while later, another report came in, saying that Huang Rang was packing her things in the dormitory.
And then, after a while, someone else reported that Huang Rang had given some items to the students in the Breeding Institute as gifts.
The chief felt increasingly restless. Finally, he grabbed a piece of paper and a brush and hastily wrote a letter.
“Bao Wu!” The chief’s face was stern, and he casually said, “Take this letter to the dormitory and give it to… Huang Rang!”
The chief was standing on a high platform, unable to come down under the watchful eyes of everyone. Therefore, he appeared serious as he said, “After she reads it, whether she stays or leaves is her own decision.”
“Understood!” Deputy chief Bao Wu accepted the letter and quickly made his way to the dormitory.
By this time, the dormitory was surrounded by students who had grown close to Huang Rang over the past two years. They didn’t want to see her leave. Both Zong Qiquang and Sha Ruo’en had already tried to persuade her numerous times. The mood was quite somber among them.
Just then, Bao Wu said, “Miss Ah rang, the chief has sent a letter for you, and he ordered me to deliver it!”
His voice was naturally loud, and Huang Rang, who had ignored him earlier, couldn’t ignore it now. She sneered, “What’s this? Does the chief have another letter for me?”
What else did he want to say to hurt her? Did he want to completely sever all ties between them?
The more Huang Rang thought about it, the angrier she became. She raised her voice and said, “Read it to me! I’d like to hear it. What else does he have to say?”
In front of all the students’ curious gazes, Deputy Chief Bao Wu had no choice but to open the letter. He took out the letter and read it out loud: “Letter of Contrition! I have erred today and must contemplate my actions in seclusion. I spoke out of turn, causing offense to my wife, which is my first transgression. Further, I showed disrespect to my wife, which is my second transgression. I have been overly suspicious…”
Bao Wu was about to continue reading when Huang Rang rushed over and snatched the letter away.
“She only left him a tiny bit of face, and he had to let her destroy it completely?!”
The mouths of the surrounding students, which had been gaping in astonishment, slowly closed, and after a while, some couldn’t help but chuckle.
“What’s so funny?! Get out, all of you, get out!” Huang Rang drove all the students out and then closed the door.
She leaned against the door and slowly unfolded the crumpled letter. The letter was filled with eloquent and powerful handwriting, with the vigorous strokes of a young person. Despite maintaining his pride, he had written a letter full of pleas for forgiveness.
Huang Rang carefully folded the letter and kept it close to her.
Outside the dream world, she had never quarreled with Xie Hongchen like this before. Naturally, she didn’t know how to make amends.
At any time, he would always leave her alone at the Qilu Terrace, not bothering with her until she had calmed down.
But this time, Huang Rang received a letter of apology.
And this letter of apology spread throughout the court and beyond in just two days.
When the news reached the ears of Qu Manying, Feng Zheng’er, and Dai Wushuang, all three of them thought highly of the chief. They urged their husbands to make friends with him.
Indeed, the trio of “afraid of their wives” immortals welcomed a new addition.