Ch.241: Humming Smile as Red Robes Fade 2
Xie Lian instantly grabbed hold of him, demanding in alarm, “San Lang?! What’s going on?”
Hua Cheng was still considerably at ease and replied, “It’s nothing. I’ve just overdone it a little.”
Xie Lian was dumbfounded, “…Why didn’t you tell me this sooner, how can this be nothing??”
It’s the spiritual powers, it was all those spiritual powers!
When Hua Cheng transferred spiritual power to Xie Lian, it had always been as if it was an
infinite source, endlessly all for his taking, smiling cheerfully like it was never a burden. But, it
wasn’t like his own spiritual power was a mountain of sand carried in by the rolling waves, so
how could it actually be infinite and endless?
This couldn’t be blamed on Hua Cheng for not saying anything sooner at all, but on Xie Lian
himself who hadn’t realized this sooner. Xie Lian was both panicking and feeling remorseful, “I’ll
return it to you.”
He cupped Hua Cheng’s face and kissed. Feng Xin and Mu Qing had originally planned on
coming over, but when they saw this scene, they instantly pulled back dozens of feet away,
keeping their distance, letting the two of them do what they needed themselves.
The cursed shackles were removed, so he desperately tried to transfer all the spiritual power he
could muster to Hua Cheng, hoping he’d recover soon. But, after kissing him for a good while,
when he let go, the sleeves of Hua Cheng’s red robes and that pair of silver vambraces were
still translucent, half transparent even!
Xie Lian was shaken for a long while, fear overtaking his mind, and he subconsciously reached
for Hua Cheng’s face, cupping it ready to kiss again when Hua Cheng, swift with his hands,
cradled his instead and gave him a small peck, smiling, “Although I’m happy gege is so forward,
but there’s still no need to give me any spiritual powers anymore. But, if gege isn’t just lending
spiritual powers and just simply wanted to kiss me, I don’t mind at all. In fact, the more the
better, I welcome it with open arms.”
Xie Lian gripped him tightly, on the brink of falling apart, “What’s going on?”
“Just taking a little break, that’s all. Gege, don’t be scared.” Hua Cheng replied,
Xie Lian clutched his head, “How can I not be scared? I’m gonna go crazy!”
By Hua Cheng’s personality, if it wasn’t a severe problem, serious to the point where he could
no longer hide it, why would he allow Xie Lian to see him like this at all?
Spiritual power so abundant it could shatter two cursed shackles, just how much was that
exactly? To say it was as bountiful as the sea wouldn’t be an exaggeration, so how could he not
be affected in the slightest?
They went through so much hardship before all this mess was sorted, and all the knots tied.
Communication was opened between him, Feng Xin and Mu Qing. The cursed shackles that
had bound him for eight hundred some years had also been released. Everything he had always
wanted to confess to Hua Cheng had all been confessed.
Yet when he turned back to run into his arms face full of smiles, what greeted him was a Hua
Cheng who had become like this, so how could he not be frightened? He just might go mad!
Feng Xin and Mu Qing noticed something was wrong, and called out from afar, “Your Highness?
What’s happened?” They jogged a couple steps this way, but then for some reason or another
they paused halfway, feeling like they shouldn’t get close so rashly. In this moment, Xie Lian had
stopped caring for anyone else. He gripped Hua Cheng, his heart almost stopping, looking as if
he was terrified, “WHAT DO I DO?”
Hua Cheng quietly sighed, extended his arms, and once again folded him into his embrace,
“Your Highness, I’ve always watched you.”
This was the second time he said this, but his voice was softer than before. Xie Lian clutched
the red robes at his chest, asking, his mind blank, “I know, I know. But… What should I do
Hua Cheng’s long and slender fingers gently combed through Xie Lian’s mussed hair, “Then,
Your Highness, do you know why I refuse to leave this world?”
Xie Lian couldn’t understand why Hua Cheng could still be so calm at a time like this, as he was
panicking so hard he was trembling. But while feeling lost, he still simple-mindedly asked,
Hua Cheng replied quietly, “Because I have a beloved who is still in this world.”
Hearing this, Xie Lian was slightly stunned.
He seemed to have heard this somewhere before.
Hua Cheng continued, “My beloved is a brave, noble and gracious special someone. He’s
saved my life, I’ve looked up to him ever since I was young. But, I wanted to catch up to him
more, and become an even stronger person for him. Although, he might not remember me well.
We never really talked. I want to protect him.”
He gazed at Xie Lian, “If your dream is to save the common people, then, my dream, is only
Relying on his memory, Xie Lian asked with a trembling voice, “…But…. You won’t, be able to
rest in peace…. Like this…?”
Hua Cheng answered, “I pray to never rest in peace.”
In that instant, all of Xie Lian’s breathing stopped, frozen in this moment. He could faintly hear
two voices, one questioning the other answering.
“If your beloved knew you couldn’t rest in peace because of him, he might feel guilty and
“Then I just won’t let him know why I haven’t gone.”
“After having seen so much, it’d be known sooner or later.” Xie Lian said.
“Then I won’t let him find out I’m protecting him either.”
That ball of ghost fire. In that lantern night, that weak little ghost fire he bought with a few
pennies. That ghost fire who wanted to pull him up from the burial graves in a frozen winter
night. That ghost fire who blocked in front of him before White No-Face and wouldn’t let him go
near danger. That ghost fire who had screamed in torment for him during the time when a
hundred swords pierced his heart!
Hua Cheng said quietly, “Your Highness, I understand your everything.”
“Your courage, your despair; your kindness, your pain; your resentment, your hate; your
intelligence, your foolishness.”
“If I could, I would have you use me as your stepping stone, the bridge you take apart after
crossing, the corpse bones you need to trample to climb up, the sinner who deserved the
butchering of a million knives. But I know you wouldn’t allow it.”
He said as the maple red of his robes slowly faded away.
Xie Lian’s shaking hands tried to grab hold of him, and he never stopped transferring spiritual
powers, but even then he couldn’t prevent Hua Cheng’s form from fading slowly.
His eyes were going blurry, his speech staggered, and he stammered, “…Alright don’t say
anymore, I get it… but, but don’t be like this, alright? San Lang? I… I’ve borrowed so much
spiritual powers from you that I haven’t returned yet. And, I’m actually not done saying all that I
wanted to say earlier, there’s still so much. It’s been so long since anyone listened to me talk,
won’t you stay? Don’t… actually do this. I won’t be able to take it. Twice, it’s been twice already!
I really don’t want there to be a third time!!!”
Hua Cheng had already vanished from this world twice because of him!
However, Hua Cheng only replied, “To die in battle for you is my greatest honour.”
Those words were like a fatal blow. The tears in Xie Lian’s eyes could no longer be restrained,
and they came pouring out.
Like he was hanging on to the last straw of his life, he pleaded, “You said you would never leave
However, Hua Cheng replied, “There is no banquet in this world that doesn’t come to an end.”
Xie Lian bowed his head and buried it deep into his chest, his heart and throat in constricted
agony, unable to speak.
Yet soon after, he heard Hua Cheng say above him, “But I will never leave you.”
Hearing this, Xie Lian’s head shot up.
Hua Cheng said to him, “I will come back. Your highness, believe me.”
Although his voice was firm, still his pale face was dimming, becoming transparent. Xie Lian
reached out, wanting to touch his face, but his fingertips went through air. He was startled, then
Hua Cheng’s eyes were gentle and blazing, that remaining eye was filled with love, and it gazed
at him silently. He seemed to have said something, but there was no sound. Xie Lian wouldn’t
give up, reaching out with both hands, trying to snatch him deeper into his arms, wanting to hear
But before he could exert force, the one he was holding, and the one holding him, had
In an instant, before him, Hua Cheng shattered into thousands of silver butterflies, transforming
into a breeze of twinkling stars he could neither embrace nor hold.
Xie Lian’s arms came empty, still maintaining an hugging position, moving not a limb. He
couldn’t tell if it was because he hadn’t yet come to his senses or because he couldn’t move at
all, and he knelt there within that dream-like array of butterflies, his eyes widening.
Further down, Feng Xin and Mu Qing had never imagined a scene like this would play out, and
both their faces paled, rushing forward, “YOUR HIGHNESS!”
Feng Xin was the first to charge over, “HOW DID IT SUDDENLY BECOME LIKE THIS?!
WASN’T HE FINE JUST NOW? WAS IT BECAUSE OF THE CURSED SHACKLES??”
Mu Qing hopped and hobbled over, but he couldn’t jump up, so he looked up, yelling at those
silver butterflies, “CRIMSON RAIN SOUGHT FLOWER! DON’T BE JOKING AROUND, IF
YOU’RE NOT DEAD THEN COME THE HELL OUT!”
Naturally, those silver butterflies did not answer him, and they fluttered erratically, flapping their
wings flying towards the sky. Feng Xin reached out to pull Xie Lian up, but Xie Lian remained
sitting on the ground like a stone. Feng Xin didn’t know what to do either anymore, “Is there
something we can do to help? Do you need spiritual power? Can he be saved? Just what
should we do???”
Mu Qing however, had already figured things out by watching, “Drop it, just shut your mouth! –
Nothing could be done now.”
Shimmering, twinkling glow enveloped the air, the wings of the butterflies sparkling, just like their
very first reunion after eight hundred years.
A silver butterfly flew over errantly, lightly brushing the back of his hand, his cheek, his forehead,
full of affectionate longing, as if it was whispering goodbyes. Xie Lian extended a hand numbly,
and let it rest on his hand.
That silver butterfly seemed to be delighted, flapping its wings, and sure enough it stayed for
him. But it couldn’t last, and it wasn’t long before it scattered with the wind.
However, where it had perched, on Xie Lian’s third finger, that red string was still bright and
Pei Ming finally couldn’t hold back any longer, “That’s not possible. How can that be it? Even an
amateur like me can tell it’s not done?”
Mu Qing dropped that heavy, bookkeeping report journal on the table and said cooly, “That’s
what I’ve calculated, and it’s done. I can calculate again on the spot right here, will General Pei
please listen well: Take away eight million, eight hundred and eighty thousand merits, then add
six million, six hundred and sixty million merits, plus another seventeen hundred million and two
hundred thousand merits, then minus…”
Feng Xin spoke up, “Alright, that’s enough, you don’t need to count anymore. The numbers are
right, but there must’ve been quite a bit left out. Because if that’s not the case, none of the
numbers add up!”
Mu Qing countered, “Then that’s not my problem, either way I didn’t figure wrong. Maybe if
everyone finds someone else to do the accounting? If I had known things were gonna be like
this I would’ve minded my own business.”
After the Heavenly Capital was destroyed, the scattered, jumbled up heavenly officials finally
regathered, and set up a ward at the summit of Mount TaiCang, a place where no mortals cared
for, establishing a temporary Upper Court. Currently, the heavenly officials were in the heat of
discussing the rebuilding of a new Heavenly Capital.
However, the unfortunate thing was, not only did that major fire scorched all the glorious and
exuberant golden palaces of all the heavenly officials, forcing them to squeeze together and
erect tents temporarily to discuss and rest, all the scrolls and reports were lost in great numbers.
They bickered and dragged, going on for many days, and even now they still couldn’t straighten
One of Pei Ming’s arms was hung in a sling as the other hand rubbed his chin, “Is it my
imagination, or is Xuan Zhen more and more sarcastic these days?”
Feng Xin responded, “Hasn’t he always been this sarcastic? He’s just too lazy to hide it now.”
Mu Qing rolled his eyes and everyone pointed their fingers at him, “DECORUM!”
Mu Qing turned away to leave. Quan Yi Zhen was wrapped completely in bandages, a
humanoid sticky rice wrapped in leaves, exposing only a head full of messy curly hair, and his
words were mumbled and unclear, “Well what do we do now? Who’s going to do the accounting
Everyone looked to each other, each clearing their throats, and quietly backed away. No one
wanted to take on this task that was hard labour with little returns. Seeing this, Pei Ming sighed,
“Sigh, if only Ling Wen was here. No matter what, no one can complain with the way she
managed things. All this mess of reports are all imprinted in her mind, even if the Palace of Ling
Wen is burnt down there’d be nothing to be afraid of. She would’ve definitely shown results
within a day.”
After having struggled on this godforsaken mountain for so long, most already thought that deep
in their minds, they just didn’t dare say it out loud. However, now that there’s someone taking
the lead, they all agreed, “Yeah!”
“I’ll never say the Palace of Ling Wen is inefficient again!”
“I’ve already not said that in a long time…”
Right then, someone outside came to announce, “Everyone, Lord Rain Master has come!”
Hearing this, all the heavenly officials looked cheered, and immediately went out to greet her
without prompting, only Pei Ming’s expression looked unreadable. He seemed to hesitate for a
moment, but in the end still chose not to go out. Just then, another voice came, “Your Highness!
You’ve come too!”
Ch.242: Atop Mount TaiCang; Thousands of Kinds of Dust Settle
All of a sudden, all the heavenly official’s expressions became even more unreadable than that
of Pei Ming’s.
A white-clad cultivator acknowledged the address, his expression calm and peaceful, his
manners easy and elegant. It was Xie Lian. The group all greeted him, “Your Royal Highness”,
Their expressions and words were all very careful, polite and courteous. Xie Lian also politely
greeted everyone, and went forth in a welcoming gesture, “Lord Rain Master.”
The Rain Master had come before that temporarily built hut, holding the reins of that big,
guardian steed black ox, and she inclined her head over this way in greeting.
On the back of that black ox were giant boxes upon boxes of produce, the reason she had
come, and apparently there was the incredible effect of nurturing spiritual powers after eating
them, so when the heavenly officials heard, a group excitedly went over to divide their shares.
There was also a group that didn’t move. Xie Lian was one of them. Lord Rain Master spoke up,
“I’ve brought something else for Your Highness.”
Xie Lian smiled, “Ah, thank you in advance! What is it?”
The Rain Master took out from within her sleeve something wrapped with a small band of white
cloth, and when she opened it, Xie Lian’s eyes brightened instantly, “Thank you so much, Lord
Rain Master! I’ve been looking everywhere for this!”
Feng Xin came over to take a look too, and also commented, “Rare fantastic silk! This is great!
Now you can finally fix that toy of yours!”
Xie Lian rummaged around his sleeve, and fumbled out a white silk band that was torn in half,
and said joyously, “Yea, finally, the material to fix RuoYe is found! I’ll go patch it up right now!”
However, Feng Xin stopped him, “Patch it up? You?! Forget it, what can you patch? Ask
someone else to help you.” Then he turned his head and shouted, “MU QING! COME GET TO
Mu Qing walked over lazily, replying cooly, “What? What are you trying to say? Tell me to sew
“Isn’t that your expertise?” Feng Xin said.
Mu Qing humphed, “Aren’t you two too good at using people? Taking me for a servant you can
order around again, tomorrow you’ll probably tell me to sweep the floor.”
Xie Lian laughed, “Nevermind, nevermind. I’ll do it myself.”
But Mu Qing had already taken the white silk bands from his hands, rolling his eyes as he went
to search for needles and threads. After that, Pei Ming came over to give a greeting too, and
was thinking of patting the black ox, but that ox chomped down his teeth loudly, almost breaking
Pei Ming’s fingers. Seeing he wasn’t welcomed, he left in a hurry. Lord Rain Master inquired, “Is
General Pei’s arm still not recovered?”
“Not yet.” Xie Lian replied, “At the time he made an agreement with Rong Guang to use the
sword Ming Guang, and other than his apology, he also had to pay up an arm as the price.
Although in the end Rong Guang’s resentment has dispersed, leaving him some face and didn’t
ask for his arm, it was still heavily injured.”
“I see.” Rain Master said, “No wonder General Pei’s expression was so peculiar.”
Xie Lian muttered inwardly, ‘His peculiar expression was definitely not for this reason.’
Turns out, Pei Ming could not get over the fact that the Rain Master had saved him time and
time again at Mount TongLu and in the great fires of the Heavenly Capital. He was a big man, a
good man who thought himself domineering the heavens and the earth, so he could not
withstand losing a teeny bit of face in front of a woman at all, especially a woman he had past
grievances with. Compared to the Rain Master, he could probably accept the behaviours of
Xuan Ji more. In any case, he couldn’t let it go no matter what, and whenever he saw the Rain
Master he’d feel turbulent, which was why his expression was peculiar.
However, the Rain Master didn’t understand at all what he was feeling turbulent over, so she
had always smiled politely in greeting, the two on two completely different wavelengths, truly
Rain Master spoke up, “Oh that’s right, Your Highness, how is Xuan Ji?”
“Xuan Ji’s been locked up at the foot of the mountain,” Xie Lian replied, “Did you want to go see
After the great battle, all the monsters and demons that had escaped their seals from all over at
the beginning were temporarily detained in a dungeon at the foot of Mount TaiCang that was
temporarily set up. Xie Lian led the way, but before they reached the dungeon they heard a
series of rough voices swearing. Pei Su and Ban Yue sat at the entrance, both of their
Right now they lacked serious helping hands, so the two of them were sent over to help the
Upper Court guard the dungeon. Within the dungeon locked Ke Mo, and when he saw his
enemies his eyes turned especially red, and he spent his days yelling and cursing up and down
the heavens nonstop at those two. The two of them pretended they couldn’t understand his
words, and sat together in a row like wooden dolls. When Xie Lian and Rain Master entered,
they rose to their feet, “Your Highness, Lord Rain Master.”
The Rain Master passed a box of produce to them, and Xie Lian said, “Thank you two for your
hard work. Lord Rain Master wants to see Xuan Ji.”
However, Pei Su hesitated for a moment, “Xuan Ji…”
Xie Lian noticed something was wrong and asked, “Is something the matter?”
The two entered the dungeon and found where Xuan Ji was detained, and they were both taken
aback. Within the cell, there was nothing, and all that remained was a set of ragged, torn, red
Pei Su explained, “Xuan Ji had already dissipated last night.”
Xuan Ji’s resentment actually dispersed, how incredible. It wasn’t that long ago when this
woman’s obsession was still so deep, choking Pei Ming in a deadly hold refusing to let go. Xie
Lian remarked, “Perhaps she finally thought things through.”
Thought through just how in the past hundreds of years she had become such an insane,
despicable grudging woman from a heroic general, a dignified lady of a prestigious house.
Thought through of what she had lost and what she had gained, and in such shame and
embarrassment, she probably didn’t have the face to look back.
She had hoped all this time that she could change the heart of the man who deserted her, either
by moving his heart or with threats, but then violently realized that there was never the chance
to turn things around from the very beginning, and so she finally understood.
But, she was relying on her turbulent feelings, her refusal to yield towards Pei Ming in order to
remain in this world. The moment she thought things through, there was no more reason to stay.
Even thinking about it was a little absurd.
The Rain Master sat down on the spot, looking like she was going to perform a passings service
for her. After all, Xuan Ji was the only one left of the Kingdom of YuShi besides herself. It’d be
impolite of Xie Lian to disturb her, so he stood down and left.
After exiting, he saw Pei Su and Ban Yue were munching on the fruits the Rain Master brought
them, so Xie Lian went over and picked one up, ready to crouch down to munch with them. Yet
unexpectedly, he suddenly sensed something, and whipped his head around to look, and saw
not far in the distance in the bushes that were as tall as half a man, something had blitzed by.
Xie Lian instantly tossed the fruit and only said, “Watch over things here!” Before dashing over.
The thing in the bushes noticed it was discovered, and fled even faster. Xie Lian could’ve caught
up in eight steps at first, but he had only taken four steps before he discovered who it was.
Changing his mind, he slowed his pace.
He waited until that creature had fled for a stretch before he suddenly broke in from the side,
blocking the other’s path, “Lady Jian Lan, do you plan on leaving without bidding farewells?”
The other party was indeed Jian Lan who was sneaking around with that fetus spirit cradling in
her arms, and she jumped in surprise by Xie Lian who appeared out of nowhere, “YOU!”
That blanched fetus spirit was baring its teeth in her arms, looking like it wanted to attack but
Jian Lan held it down, “Are you here to stop me?”
Xie Lian didn’t want her to be too alarmed, and said, “Don’t be nervous, I just wanted to give you
Then, he took out an item, “Your son Cuo Cuo’s grudge is rather strong, it needs to be
restrained. Although it’s already undergoing purification, your cultivation isn’t as high as his, so
it’d be hard to guarantee zero accidents. You’ll need this to assist you.”
The item was a protection charm Xie Lian made himself, and he even demonstrated how to use
it, to prove there was no tricks embedded. Jian Lan watched, and her tension indeed relaxed.
After all, this thing was useful. After some hesitation, she took it, “Thanks.”
“No need.” Xie Lian said, “As long as when you use it, shout three times ‘Your Highness Please
Bless Me’ it’ll do. That way this will be marked under the name of my palace.”
Jian Lan took a few steps, paused for a moment, but in the end she still couldn’t hold it in and
turned her head around, “You’re not stopping me? Why?”
Xie Lian was waiting for her to look back, and asked her instead of answering, “Then Lady Jian
Lan, why must you go? Feng Xin said he would take care of you both, he will keep his word.”
Jian Lan’s expression flickered, but in the end, she sighed, “I know he will. But, forget it, it’s for
the best. I don’t want to be with him anymore.”
Xie Lian was a little taken aback, “Do you… not love him at all anymore?”
Jian Lan was probably tired from running, and sat down on the roadside, “This has nothing to do
with love anymore. I don’t want him to force himself to tie us to him.”
Xie Lian also sat down by her side, and contemplated for a moment, “He must really love you.
Back then, he was so completely spent, but he still refused to let you go.”
Hearing this, Jian Lan looked as if she remembered things from a faraway past, and laughed,
“Since you mentioned it, I remember now. Back then, he was still a little dumb, spending long
hours to make money, and after he made money he’d buy me for an entire night, but all he did
was bring over a stool to sit with me all night, doing nothing but chatting. Everyone took him for
a joke, what a laugh!”
Xie Lian also smiled, “You see, I told you he really loves you.”
However, Jian Lan withdrew her smile, “What you’ve said are all things of the past. What was
love once doesn’t mean it’ll last. I’m not interested in being a charity case and a nuisance.”
“Why would he think you both a nuisance?” Xie Lian asked, “Don’t you know the kind of person
Feng Xin is?”
“You, His Highness the Crown Prince, you have never lived the common life, so of course you’d
think things are that simple. He won’t now, and he won’t on the surface either. But once time
gets dragged out, then nothing could be sure. If I wanted to seek him out, I would’ve done so a
long time ago. It’s not like the Temple of Nan Yang is hard to find. There was a period of time
where they were everywhere, but I still didn’t want to.”
“He’s ascended, he’s got everything, looking glorious and impressive, but we’ve already turned
into ghosts, so what am I doing seeking him out? A heavenly official carrying two ghosts, isn’t
that just trouble for him?”
“I kicked him away when I looked my best, I think that’s quite good, all proud and dignified. That
way, I would always look that way to him in his heart, and not like this, heavy in makeup and
tacky, crows feet around my eyes.”
She pinched at her own face, “If he really recognized us, and everyday he had to look at this
face of mine and Cuo Cuo’s form like this, with us dragging him down, he would only become
more and more tired, annoyed, and one day we will become a nuisance. So why bother? Isn’t
that too tragic?”
While she was speaking, the fetus spirit was using its wet, slithering tongue to lick her face,
looking inexplicably disgusting but mischievously endearing. But to typical others, this was
probably only disgusting, and couldn’t be accepted.
Jian Lan also petted the bare head of her son, “Anyway, having Cuo Cuo is enough for me. Who
hasn’t made promises or swore to the mountains and the seas when they were young? Talking
of affection, of love, of forevers. But, the longer I hung around in the world, the more I
understand, something like ‘forever’ is impossible. It’s never going to be possible. Having it once
was already good enough. No one can truly achieve it. I don’t believe in it anymore.”
She said with a helpless voice, “Feng Xin is a good man. It’s just… it’s really been too long.
Everything’s changed, so it’s best to let it go.”
Xie Lian listened silently, not speaking a word, but in his heart, he said, ‘No.’
A voice in his heart said, ‘’Forever’ exists. There’s one person who can truly achieve it. I
Jian Lan still took Cuo Cuo and left.
Xie Lian went back and sent away Rain Master who finished the passings service for Xuan Ji,
and returned to Mount TaiCang. He was thinking of telling Feng Xin that Jian Lan had left, but
he didn’t see him. Just as he was looking for him among the rowdy crowd, someone suddenly
shouted, “Great timing, Tai Hua! Are you free? Come help figure this out!”
They were still grabbing anyone to do accounting, and Lang Qian Qiu was desperate to get
away, responding from afar, “DON’T BRING THE STACK HERE, I’VE GOT THINGS TO DO,
GO FIND SOMEONE ELSE!”
Xie Lian sighed, wondering if he should go and give all those books a try when unexpectedly, he
had only taken a few steps before he heard a voice from behind, “Mas… Hea…. Your Highness.”
Xie Lian looked back and Lang Qian Qiu was standing right behind him. “Do you have a
moment to step aside and speak?”
“Of course.” Xie Lian replied.
Thus, he and Lang Qian Qiu walked together outside that sad, giant hut of a palace. As they
walked, Xie Lian inquired, “How’s Gu Zi doing? Is he alright?”
Lang Qing Qiu chuckled helplessly, a little bitter, “I don’t know if it’s considered alright. That child
asks me for his dad everyday, rather pitiful, so I could only… gather a bit of the soul particles of
the Green Goblin and keep them in a lamp. Now he shows up in front of me everyday hugging
that lamp asking when the soul within the lamp will grow bigger! I really…”
Looking at that grim, dispirited face, just thinking of it Xie Lian could understand. Just why did he
have to do something like this for Qi Rong who had murdered his entire family? Xie Lian had
subconsciously reached out to pat his shoulder, but then he remembered what he himself had
done in Yong An, and held back. He said gently, “You’ve worked hard. Then, what did you want
to talk about with me today?”
After some hesitation, Lang Qian Qiu reached into his robes and took something out, passing it
to him, “This.”
The moment Xie Lian saw the thing his breathing stopped.
It was an opulent, smooth and luminescent little crimson coral pearl.
His voice trembled, “This is…?!”
Lang Qian Qiu said, “This coral pearl was a secret treasure left by the founding father of Yong
Only having heard this did Xie Lian realize that this wasn’t the one tied at the end of Hua
Cheng’s hair, but the one he once gifted to Lang Ying.
It wasn’t Hua Cheng’s. Xie Lian felt a little disappointed, but still took that pearl. Just then Lang
Qian Qiu spoke up, “The founding father once said, the one who gave him this red coral pearl
was his saviour, someone who had helped him. A very good man.”
Lang Qian Qiu continued, “But he still did something that made that man lose everything. The
founding father said he didn’t regret doing what he did, he had to do it. But afterwards when he
thought about it, he still felt like he wronged that man.”
“And then?” Xie Lian asked.
“And then,” Lang Qian Qiu said, “That day at the Heavenly Capital, I looked at that bead at the
end of Crimson Rain Sought Flower’s hair carefully, and the more I looked the more I thought it
resembled the one father left me. Later I heard General Xuan Zhen and the others talking, and
learned that those pearls were actually a pair, and they belonged to you. So, I came to ask, is
A moment later, Xie Lian nodded slowly, “It’s mine. It’s a pair of pearls my father and mother
gave me when I was young.”
Lang Qian Qiu scatched his head, “Then… I’m giving this back to you.”
He still didn’t know how to address Xie Lian, and after having returned the pearl, he wavered
around for a bit before leaving silently. Xie Lian stood in the same spot, that red coral pearl
squeezed in the heart of his palm.
It’s been over eight hundred years. After all the twists and turns, the other half of that pair of
crimson coral pearl earrings had returned to his hands. It’s his, and also his.
But, the other pearl should’ve been present here too. They should’ve been able to complete the
Right then, the loud, overjoyed voice of Feng Xin came from the bottom of the mountain, “YOUR
HIGHNESS! EVERYONE! COME QUICK!”
Ch.243: How My Lord Aches for the Flower; How I Ache for My Lord
Xie Lian tucked the pearl away and gazed over. Several heavenly officials also emerged from
the crude, giant hut, “What’s going on with General Nan Feng?”
But then they heard Feng Xin call out, “LOOK WHO I’VE CAPTURED!”
He crashed out of the woods and came dashing up, a black clad individual in his hand, and the
heavenly officials were all shocked, “LING WEN!”
The one gripped in Feng Xin’s hand was indeed Ling Wen. Feng Xin turned to Xie Lian, “Just as
you suspected, Ling Wen went to steal the Brocade Immortal!”
After removing the cursed shackles, Xie Lian’s spiritual powers explosively increased to the
point where he was practically Jun Wu’s equal, so that Brocade Immortal naturally couldn’t do
anything to him. Ling Wen was turned into a daruma doll by Hua Cheng, and went missing
during the great battle. Once time was up, the spell on her person would release automatically,
so she couldn’t be found anywhere. However, Xie Lian figured she would most likely come to
steal the Brocade Immortal, so he took off those robes and asked the Ghost City to let word
spread. Sure enough, Ling Wen took the bait.
Even as a fugitive, when Ling Wen was arrested and taken to the conference hall, she still didn’t
appear panicked. The moment Pei Ming came in he pressed down on her shoulders, and sat
her down in front of a table, admonishing in a dark voice, “We’ve finally found you! Ling Wen,
you have to pay for your sins!”
Dozens of heavenly officials also came surrounding her, each of them with eyes of wolves and
tigers, their expressions thirsty and starving, practically savage. Only then did Ling Wen felt a bit
of trepidation, “…What are you all planning.”
THUMP! A stack of reports and scrolls close to the height of a full grown man were thrown
before her, so heavy the table and chairs all shook. Pei Ming PA! And slapped down on the
scrolls, “These. Take care of them.”
Ling Wen seemed to have sighed a breath of relief, then felt inexplicably baffled. Yet
unexpectedly, before her breath had fully exhaled, there was another round of
After dozens of thumps later, dozens of stacks of documents and reports taller than a man had
also crashed down, and she was heavily surrounded.
Those dozens of heavenly officials babbled in between the cracks of those stacks: “We’ve been
waiting for you for days now! Hurry and help figure this out!”
“Take care of those too.”
“Remember to fill in the missing parts.”
“You better get this done within the hour!” …
Ling Wen: “…”
After a day and a night, Ling Wen was finally released from the temporary conference hall.
After a day and a night of hard battle, all the mess of scrolls and reports had been taken care of,
each categorized and organized in order and neatly. The heavenly officials cheered and each
received the accounts of their own palace and went to double check. Ling Wen on the other
hand, was face blue and steel, and those dark circles under her eyes that had disappeared for a
period of time had returned.
On the other side, everyone finished double checking and were all rejoicing, and Pei Ming
praised, “It certainly is Noble Jie who is the most efficient! Now everything matches!”
“It’s cleared! Thank so much for Lord Ling Wen!”
As a criminal, Ling Wen chuckled politely amongst all the praises from the crowd of heavenly
officials, “It’s nothing, it’s nothing.”
Seeing this, all the heavenly officials in the hall who were still in a mess but didn’t stuff their
accounts over couldn’t sit still anymore, and they came circling her, “Um, actually, I’ve some
books that I forgot to give my lord, and was wondering if perhaps you’d take a look…”
Ling Wen: “…”
Xie Lian had been eating a steamed bun, crouching outside the temporary conference hall, and
after he finished he clapped his hands clean, and finally rescued Ling Wen from suffering,
“Everyone, let’s figure this out later. Let Ling Wen catch her breath first.”
Before when he spoke up, there would definitely be no one who cared, but now things weren’t
the same. Several people responded, “Your Highness is right.” And didn’t dare to speak more.
Ling Wen sat in her chair, a hand covering over her forehead, her eyes closed, waiting for the
other heavenly officials to exit. It was only after the conference hall was deserted before she
turned to Xie Lian, “Congratulations, huh, Your Highness, your spiritual powers have returned.
What good strategies, now, even ghosts are your worshippers, obeying your orders, how
“They’re not my worshippers,” Xie Lian replied, “They’re just friends from the Ghost City. I only
asked them to help.”
Ling Wen nodded, her face full of understanding. A moment later, Xie Lian spoke up, “Ling Wen,
there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you.”
“Your Highness can go ahead.” Ling Wen said.
“San Lang, I mean Hua Chengzhu,” Xie Lian started, “He’s worn this Brocade Immortal of yours,
but the Brocade Immortal doesn’t work on him, do you know why?”
“So it’s this question.” Ling Wen said, “I thought Your Highness already knew?”
Xie Lian blinked, “Tell me?”
Ling Wen straightened her sleeves, and sat poisedly, “Your highness, you’ve heard the legend
of the Brocade Immortal, right?”
“I’ve heard.” Xie Lian replied, “You forged it yourself.”
“You can say that.” Ling Wen said, “Although I had never thought the resentment gathered on
this robe would turn it into a monster, but I did kill Bai Jing to speed up the destruction of the
Kingdom of XuLi, that’s not wrong.”
Xie Lian listened intently. Ling Wen continued, “This robe made rounds around the mortal realm,
passing through countless hands, and after having it in hand, countless individuals chose to use
it for murder, to harm, to deceive. While this can also take away some of its resentment, but, Bai
Jing isn’t someone like that.”
“He didn’t like being used by those people, he hated them. So, whenever he met wearers similar
to him and the chosen people who were given the robe, his resentment wouldn’t be excited, and
instead, he’d become glad.”
“And the wearers and receivers are?” Xie Lian asked.
Ling Wen answered, “You put the Brocade Immortal on Crimson Rain Sought Flower, but in your
heart there was not a single trace of malintent or the desire to harm, you trust him with your
whole being; and for Crimson Rain Sought Flower, he was the same when it came to you, no, in
fact, he was even more – What made it really feel aligned with Crimson Rain Sought Flower
was that it didn’t matter if he was wearing the Brocade Immortal, he would do everything you
asked him to without hesitation. Including dying for you.”
“This was also how I guessed that boy next to you was Crimson Rain Sought Flower at the
time.” Ling Wen said, “Although I don’t know too much of the affairs between you two, but I
figure there wasn’t another who could be like this.”
“Why’s that?” Xie Lian asked.
Ling Wen raised her hand and pointed, “Your Highness, what’s that around your neck?”
Xie Lian was taken aback, and unconsciously moved his hand to cover it.
Ling Wen spoke, “I’ve seen things like it before, the very unique ghosts who gifted their lovers
Countless scrolls and reports had passed through the Palace of Ling Wen, so it wasn’t strange
that she had seen it before. But truth to be told, Xie Lian had guessed it himself.
But hearing Ling Wen say so out loud, he still squeezed that crystal clear ring tight.
“It’s a very rare item.” Ling Wen said, ”But because it’s too beautiful, it often ends in tragedy, so
my impression of it is stronger.”
“What do you mean it often ends in tragedy?” Xie Lian asked.
“To have love blind your reason, and give objects tied to your life to someone else, would have
many tragic and horrifying consequences.” Ling Wen said.
“Something like a genuine heart is made to be trampled. All those keepsakes made of ashes,
some were stolen by others, some were shattered by its owners, basically nothing ended well.
But, your highness is an exception. You’ve kept it well, practically impenetrable.”
After a long silence, Xie Lian said, “You said ‘similar to him’. So, was General Bai Jing like this
Ling Wen smiled lightly, “Why else would he be deceived by me?”
“It’s not really deception though, is it?” Xie Lian said, “There was no way you didn’t realize I was
intentionally letting the word out, but you still came to take it.”
“It’s a good defense device.” Ling Wen said.
“If it was only a device for defense, you wouldn’t have gone through such risks to steal it in the
first place, and after you failed you still took it to Mount TongLu.”
Lin Wen said apathetically, “What else was there to do other than take it to Mount TongLu? I
was already exposed. Your Highness was the one who caught me red-handed.”
“But truthfully, if you wanted to find an excuse to cover it up it’d still work.” Xie Lian said, “Bribe
your way around a little, even getting demoted or have merits deducted wouldn’t have landed
you a fugitive status. The main point being… you wanted to help General Bai Jing in becoming
a Supreme, and have him wake to his senses, right?”
Ling Wen gave a small laugh, “Your highness, don’t say it like I would do anything for him. After
all, I’m cold-blooded and recognized no loved ones, so why would I do anything like that?”
“Is that right?”
“Let it be.”
Xie Lian cleaned up around the wrecked, broken cliffs at the Royal Holy Pavilion, and put up a
simple cottage, using it as a temporary residence. It was further away and more deserted. When
there was a need for him he’d go to the Conference Hall to help, when there wasn’t anything,
he’d stay in the cottage by himself quietly.
After several days, Mu Qing finally repaired RuoYe and came to deliver it. The moment Xie Lian
opened the door he saw something white pouncing at him, and his vision was covered. He
raised his hand to yank that thing off, and RuoYe began to twist and swivel again, like it was
showing off its beautiful body after being reborn. Xie Lian admonished, “Don’t twist around like
that after just getting repaired, be careful of tearing yourself again.”
The moment Mu Qing heard this he had an opinion, “How’s that possible? What robes of yours
has torn after I’ve patched it up for you?”
“That’s true.” Xie Lian said.
He caught RuoYe who was twisted like a seaweed to check over it carefully, and it was indeed
extremely well sewn, there was practically no trace of it ever being torn, and he praised, “Your
craft is still so amazing.”
“A compliment like this won’t delight me.” Mu Qing said, “I’m only doing this once, there won’t be
a next time. I’m never doing this again.”
‘You’re clearly super proud of this…’ Xie Lian thought.
Mu Qing nagged for another bit, then said, “Alright, I’ve done my job. I’m gone. I’m just in the
middle of getting some things and personnel taken cared of at the Palace of Xuan Zhen.”
“You’re leaving too?” Xie Lian asked, “Alright, I’ll go over to help out in a bit. Remember to give
me a shout when you leave, I’ll send you off.”
After capturing Ling Wen, filling in all the missing blanks, and clearing up all that pile of messed
up accounts, the heavenly officials finally decided to rebuild the Heavenly Capital. Which meant,
this temporary Conference Hall at Mount TaiCang could also be left behind now. Mu Qing waved
his hand, neither dismissive nor agreeing, and he took a few steps before halting, and he looked
back, “Are you… still going to stay in Mount TaiCang?”
Xie Lian nodded, “En.”
After a moment of hesitation, Mu Qing spoke up, “Why don’t you come with us after all?”
Xie Lian smiled, “Nah, I’ve got someone to wait for.”
“You can still wait after getting to the Upper Court of the new Heavenly Capital.” Mu Qing
Xie Lian shook his head, “I think when he comes back, he’d come here first, then I’d be able to
meet him the moment he returns. If he doesn’t return to this place, he might return to the
QianDeng Temple of Ghost City, and Ghost City isn’t far from here, much more convenient than
the new Heavenly Capital.”
Mu Qing seemed to have held his tongue for a long while now, and he asked with a complicated
expression, “You really believe he’ll come back?”
Xie Lian replied like it was the most logical thing in the world, “Of course.”
People came like the tide, then left like the tide. Mount TaiCang regained its deserted
Atop Mount TaiCang, there used to be an enormous field of maple trees. They were all burnt
down by that massive fire, but reborn after a thousand years. They were no longer the same
ones Xie Lian leapt through to train once upon a time, but the landscape was the same.
Xie Lian often strolled in the maple forest by himself. An entire mountain of red maples that
spread like passionate feral fire made him feel as if he was in a giant and warm embrace.
He’s spent over eight hundred years of life passing the days on his own, he was very used to it.
When there was work to be done, he’d go down the mountain to answer some prayers, collect
some junk; if there wasn’t anything then he’d plant some vegetables, cook some meals.
Only, what was strange was, days spent on his own like this used to be the most normal thing in
the past, but now it’s become hard to pass. Xie Lian had spent a long time before he’d gotten
used to it again.
Perhaps, when a person had only ever eaten what was bitter, then he’d be used to the taste of
bitterness. But when suddenly one day, someone gave him a taste of sweetness, to eat what
was bitter with the thought of sweetness would probably bring a frown to his face.
In the past when Xie Lian passed his days in simplicity and quietude, he’d often secretly hoped
someone would come look for him. Seek him out to chat, or seek him out for assistance, at least
there’d be a sign of life. But now, he didn’t like that as much anymore.
Since, every time he heard knocking on the door, his heart would always jolt in happiness, filling
it with hope. But when he dashed to the door and opened it, the one standing outside the
entrance was never the one he was waiting for.
Sometimes it was Feng Xin, sometimes it was Mu Qing, and sometimes it was Shi Qing Xuan.
Sometimes, it was the many ghosts from Ghost City here to “offer respects to their senior”.
Everyone was good. It was just, none of them were the one he was waiting for.
In the first month, Xie Lian hauled over several flowering trees to plant by the entrance,
beautifying the surroundings a little to hide away the crudeness of that dilapidated cottage. He
figured perhaps when Hua Cheng returned, they would’ve blossomed.
The second month, Xie Lian tore down the entire cottage and rebuilt it, and he also pulled all the
weeds of the entire Mount TaiCang. Otherwise when Hua Cheng came back and saw this mess,
he would definitely send people over to help him clean.
The third month, the flowering trees had blossomed. Cherry reds enveloped the trees, and Xie
Lian stood under them, his head raised as he gazed. As he enjoyed the blossoms, he thought,
the flowers are in full bloom, he should be home soon.
The fourth month, all the mountain paths had been reconstructed. That way, when Hua Cheng
came back to find him, he could hike the mountain faster.
The fifth month, Feng Xin and Mu Qing had come to visit him again. They asked if he wanted to
leave the place for a bit to take a walk outside. Xie Lian hosted a meal and they ran off.
The sixth month, the flowering period was over.
He waited and waited, waited and waited. Xie Lian wasn’t anxious, and he didn’t break down,
nor did he cry in agony. Instead, he felt he was becoming more and more calm, and more and
Thinking of it, who hadn’t experienced the passing, long ages on their own?
Hua Cheng waited for him for over eight hundred years, so what did it matter if he waited for
Hua Cheng for another eight hundred?
It could be a thousand years, ten thousand years, and he would still wait, and continue to wait.
Nevermind it’s only been a year?
On this day, Xie Lian collected a large pile of junk as usual, and piled it high on the cart pulled
by an ox, both of which Xie Lian recently saved for and purchased, and it pulled it up the
Crossing through the maple forest, halfway up the mountain path, Xie Lian turned his head back
inadvertently, and saw some glimmering glows in the night sky.
He stared at them deeply, and discovered they were Everlasting Blessings Lanterns. Then it
dawned on him. He mumbled to himself, “So it’s the ShangYuan Festival today.”
At this moment, all the heavenly officials of the Upper Court were probably battling lanterns
again. Xie Lian pulled the reins in spite of himself, and stopped where he was, watching dazedly
at those Blessings Lanterns.
He suddenly remembered that he and Hua Cheng had first met during the ShangYuan Festival.
That year, a small child with face covered in filth and gashes squeezed through the swarming
crowd and looked down the city walls; the seventeen year old Crown Prince of XianLe was
glowing, and the moment he looked up, he saw the silhouette of a person falling. Without
thinking, he leapt to his feet.
The auspicious ShangYuan Festival, upon the Great Martial Avenue. The awe-inspiring first
impression that led to centuries of pinning.
A smile hung on Xie Lian’s face, thinking, he wasn’t the only one who had fallen.
Turning around, Xie Lian bowed his head and was ready to keep going up the mountain path.
The cart pulled, creaking for a stretch of the road when suddenly, the path seemed to be
illuminated by something far ahead.
Xie Lian lifted his head once more, his eyes widening.
That light was lanterns.
Like millions of fish swimming through the gorges into the sea, countless Blessings Lanterns
slowly rose from the mountain peak.
They were brilliant, glowing and shimmering in the black night. The most beautiful dream,
exceedingly magnificent, had brightened his path.
Xie Lian had seen this sight before, and now that he was seeing it again, both his breathing and
his heart were going to stop. The mountain path turned, and the cart wheels spun. Xie Lian saw
that little dilapidated cottage he had built.
There was someone there!
Before that slanted little cottage stood a red-clad man, his figure long and slender, a silver
scimitar hung at his waist. His back was facing Xie Lian while he lifted and sent off the last
Everlasting Blessings Lantern to the sky errantly.
Xie Lian was frozen in his seat, wondering if he was still in a dream or if this was a hallucination.
Along with the turning of the wheels, he came closer and closer. That man turned around, and
so he could also see him clearer and clearer.
With three thousand Blessings Lanterns rising along with the night behind him, that man turned
back and gazed at him. Robes redder than maple, skin as white as snow; between the brows of
a face so handsome it couldn’t be stared at was still that wildness and feral aura, a proudness
that couldn’t be cut down.
Although he was wearing a black eyepatch, but the eye that was as bright as the stars was
gazing unblinkingly at Xie Lian.
Xie Lian scrambled down.
There were no words. Both started walking towards the other.
A step, another step, each step faster than the next, then finally, they started running.
He ran forward whilst tears fell behind and stayed in the same spot. Xie Lian voiced in his heart,
He believed that this man would die for him again and again, and would be reborn for him over
and over. Even if he fell into the depths of hell, he would break through the abyss for his ‘belief’.
Last time, they spent eight hundred years running towards each other.
This time, it only took an instant to fall into each other’s embrace.
Ch.244: By the Heaven Official’s Blessing No Paths are Bound
“Congrats, your highness!”
The newly built PuQi Shrine was bustling and lively, people going in and out, and Xie Lian
traversed through several long tables that were stacked full, delivering hot, steamy bowls after
bowls of noodles flowing out like water, soups with oil glistening like gold, and snow white,
mouthwatering rice. He was swamped running about and still had to greet the guests, taking
time out of the tasks in his hands to say, “Thank you, please have a seat!”
The PuQi Shrine that had unfortunately collapsed in a brawl had been rebuilt.
After rebuilding, the once dilapidated little shrine was now much more sumptuous, and a few
new yards were even added. It wasn’t actually Xie Lian or Hua Cheng who had reconstructed,
but those villagers of PuQi Village. That day, when Xie Lian fled in disgrace, they rummaged
through the wreckage and actually found a box full of gold bars. Naturally, it was the bunch that
Quan Yi Zhen had stuffed into his donation box day after day.
Those villagers had never seen so much gold and were almost scared out of their wits. After
they came to their senses, the Village Head took a part of it to rebuild PuQi Shrine, and didn’t
dare to touch the rest of it, keeping it safe until Xie Lian returned to give back to him.
Thus, when Xie Lian returned bringing Hua Cheng, besides the enthusiastic greetings of
“Daozhang” and “Xiao Hua”, what also welcomed them were a brand new Taoist shrine and a
box heavy with gold bars.
Xie Lian had planned to return those gold bars to Quan Yi Zhen, but Quan Yi Zhen wouldn’t
have it, refusing them left and right until Hua Cheng told him: If you don’t take those gold bars
back, you can forget about the correct method in nurturing souls. Only then did this child settle
and fixed the bad habit of blindly stuffing gold bars to people.
After making their greetings, the group of heavenly officials, with Mu Qing leading, crossed into
the yard cautiously. They looked up inadvertently, and when they saw the full looks of this Taoist
shrine, all their words were instantly stuck in their throats.
The bright, clashing reds and greens of celebratory colours and that exceedingly exaggerated,
rainbow-coloured divine statue weren’t the worst of it. The worst, was that establishment plaque.
Just what was written, or drawn, on that establishment plaque?
With the establishment of a new shrine, naturally there needed to be a celebration. But this new
shrine’s class and taste were terrible and tacky in every sense, especially with that despairing
establishment plaque, and it made it really hard for anyone to have compliments leave their lips.
In fact, all the congratulatory phrases they had already thought of beforehand were thoroughly
However, Xie Lian didn’t mind any of this at all, and thought it was rather good. At least it wasn’t
a dilapidated building that could collapse at any time. He greeted again, “Please have a seat?”
That group of heavenly officials didn’t look like they wanted to sit, and coming to congratulate
was probably just to show their faces, so they hurried and left after delivering their gifts. Xie Lian
turned to Mu Qing, “Why did they leave in such a hurry?”
“Do you even need to ask?” Mu Qing said.
“Yea?” Xie Lian replied.
Mu Qing spat crankily, “Then why don’t you go ask your good San Lang.”
Turns out, when Hua Cheng first came back, the first one to know was Xie Lian, and the second
was the Upper Court that hadn’t even warmed its seat yet. Not just because it wasn’t too long
ago that the Battle of the Lanterns of ShangYuan Festival that they worked so hard to put
together was suddenly murdered by Hua Cheng’s casual wave of three thousand lanterns just
like that time during the Mid Autumn Banquet, but also because ever since that night, that bell
started ringing like crazy, and the entire Upper Court was echoing with the sound of its
announcement, like it was reminding them: The nightmare of the heavens has returned!
The nightmare was right before their eyes, so of course normal heavenly officials didn’t dare to
approach. However, the rumours about Hua Cheng and Xie Lian in the Upper Court were
already fairly hardcore without any need of exaggeration, so they still kind of wanted to get in
Xie Lian’s good graces, so in the future they could beg Hua Cheng to show some mercy.
Xie Lian learned of this, and recalled how in the past Hua Cheng had demanded the Upper
Court proclaim his heroic achievements for an entire year, and laughed, “Cheeky.”
“This is not just a matter of cheekiness?” Mu Qing scolded, “Tell him to lay off a little, it’s getting
out of control. Right now that bell is so noisy everyday, no one can concentrate, and the entire
Upper Court can’t function. It’d even fall off time and time again, crashing on people. The new
Heavenly Capital is finally rebuilt, don’t let something like this destroy it again.”
“Alright.” Xie Lian said, “I’ll tell him in a bit. While we’re here, wanna try?” He pointed at the rice,
noodles, and soups on the tables in the yard, and added, “I didn’t make those.”
When Mu Qing heard the first part his expression was cold, rejection written all over his face,
and it only returned to normal after hearing the last part. Right then, Feng Xin had arrived too.
He entered the yard just in time to brush by another several junior officials who were about to
leave. They made their greetings then whispered, “It’s General Nan Yang.”
“It’s him. So sad, his wife and son ran off with some guy…”
Veins violently popped on Feng Xin’s forehead as he roared his curses on the spot, “WHAT THE
FUCK!!! AREN’T YOU GUYS TIRED OF THIS?! HOW MANY MONTHS HAVE YOU ALL
PUSHED ME ON THIS?? ALSO! IT’S ‘RAN AWAY’! NOT ‘RAN OFF WITH SOME GUY’!
FUCKING STOP SPREADING EMPTY RUMOURS!”
Those gossipy junior officials were terrified and hastily fled. Mu Qing stood on the side with his
hands tucked in his sleeves, “You might as well not have explained yourself, it only sounds even
Feng Xin was outraged, seizing a broom on the side then threw it over. Mu Qing caught it
instantly, and snorted, “This is old. You can’t use this on me anymore.”
Feng Xin was about to yell some more when Xie Lian walked over and stuffed another broom in
his hands, “Oh good, then how about this. Why don’t both of you help me sweep this yard. We
set off some firecrackers earlier so the ground is covered in red scraps. Thanks. If you get bored
you can train some idioms, okay.”
After an hour, outside the temple came the rowdy noise of human voices, coming closer and
The several people in the yard looked out, and after another while, a large crowd of people
came pouring into the yard of PuQi Shrine, shouting, “IS IT HERE?”
“IT’S HERE, OHO, LOOKS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE TOO.”
“THERE’S REALLY RICE, SO MUCH RICE!”
“AND MEAT TOO!”
The grounds that Feng Xin and Mu Qing had just swept were once again filthy from that giant
crowd of muddy feet. Mu Qing gripped his broom, looking like he felt someone had infected him
with fleas, and his eyes were widened, “…What’s with those beggars?”
Before the crowd of beggars was a man leading, his hair mussed, his clothes sweaty. It was Shi
Qing Xuan. He hobbled and hopped over, putting his hands together in courtesy, “Your
Highness, I’ve come to disturb you! So how about it, did what you agreed to last time still
Xie Lian laughed, “Everyone is very welcome, of course it stands! Please have a seat, have a
“Isn’t this too many people?” Mu Qing wondered.
“No!” Shi Qing Xuan said, “All the old masters who helped in guarding the human array at the
royal capital last year are here.”
At the time when they were guarding the human array, Shi Qing Xuan had promised the others
that after the deed was done everyone would be treated to chicken legs, everyone was
included, but after the deed was done, no one could be found, so that chicken leg treat was
naturally never given. Today, they could finally fulfill the promise, and bowl after bowl of chicken
leg noodles was delivered. Shi Qing Xuan called out, “EVERYONE, NO NEED TO HOLD
YOURSELVES BACK TODAY! LET’S EAT!”
The crowd of beggars squeezed from the tables to the ground, each of them cheering, then
hugged their super big bowls slurping and slurping, chomp and chomp. As they ate, someone
suddenly spoke up, “Wait, something’s wrong. There’s the essence of evil!”
The crowd turned their heads to look, and that small band was actually Heaven’s Eye and
company. Xie Lian felt his head ache, “How come you guys came too?”
“We’ve helped out last time too,” Heaven’s Eye said, “So why can’t we come?” Then he raised
his bowl high up, his expression serious, “Everyone! Listen to me, I am definitely not wrong on
this! There’s essence of evil in the food in these bowls, so it’s probably nothing good. It’s very
suspicious! Put your bowls down, quick!”
No one acknowledged him. The crowd of beggars had already finished eating around, each
raising their empty bowls, “ANOTHER ONE!”
Feng Xin and Mu Qin were using their brooms to fight while sweeping away the yard full of red
scraps leftover from firecrackers, but when they saw all the others look so content and fulfilled
eating, they sat down too, picking up a bowl themselves.
Just then, Heaven’s Eye exclaimed furiously, “How come none of you listen to reason!” Then he
got up ready to go check the kitchens but Shi Qing Xuan held him back, “Really, daozhang, you
think too much. This is Crimson Rain Sought Flower’s territory, so it’s normal to have essence of
monsters and demons. Fine fine fine, you’re concerned, are you? I’ll go take a look. You just sit
there and don’t get too riled up.”
He really did rise to his feet and walked to where the kitchens were, lifting the curtains, “You
see, what’s there to be suspicious –”
Xie Lian spoke up, “Wait, I’ll go look too…”
However, when he, Shi Qing Xuan, Feng Xin, and Mu Qing poked their heads in and looked,
they were all stunned.
Inside the kitchen, there was a hunk of a boar butcher who was chopping on the cutting board
like mad, and if it wasn’t for all the pork legs hung behind him, they’d think it was human legs he
was chopping. On the side, fire was lit under a giant pot, and within the pot was a long-necked
rooster spirit who was having the time of his life scrubbing himself. When he saw there were
people from the outside who’d seen him, he instantly screamed, his hands covering his chest.
Xie Lian was completely baffled, and hurried inside to whisper, “Didn’t I say you can’t do this?”
The rooster spirit cockled and slapped his chest in promise, “Grand uncle! We’ve taken our
baths before coming, very clean! Besides, this soup base has the effect of longevity, eating this
won’t harm anyone! No loss! Can consume with peace of mind!”
Shi Qing Xuan silently dropped the curtains while Feng Xin and Mu Qing instantly threw away
their bowls, spitting, “I’d rather you cook!”
Xie Lian rubbed his forehead, feeling both amused and woeful, “They were adamant in helping,
I couldn’t say no. They’re doing this out of goodness.”
Right then, Heaven’s Eye seemed to finally found the group of them sneaking around rather
suspicious, and came over too. Xie Lian quickly stopped him, “What is it?”
He was afraid that once Heaven’s Eye saw the boar butcher and the others, he was going to
start another riot. Yet unexpectedly, Heaven’s Eye didn’t come for those in the kitchen, but
straight for him. He circled Xie Lian a few times and wondered in confusion, “That’s weird…”
“What is?” Xie Lian asked.
Heaven’s Eye appeared puzzled and confused, “This isn’t right, Xie Daozhang. How come the
essence of evil on your body has gotten worse since last time?”
Xie Lian lightly cleared his throat. Mu Qing humphed, “Hanging around a Ghost King all day, of
course it’ll get worse.”
However, Heaven’s Eye said, “No. Even then, it shouldn’t be like this.”
“Like what?” Feng Xin questioned.
After much hesitation, Heaven’s Eye decided to be blunt, “How come the essence of evil on
your body is now internal? It’s… it’s entirely emitted from the inside out of your body now.”
“You’ve probably run into a major crime this time. What did you do? How come you’re this ill?”
Xie Lian can’t even cough anymore. His entire face was going to burst with blood.
Feng Xin and Mu Qing didn’t understand at first, but after they thought about it, they both turned
to stare at Xie Lian and fell silent, “…”
Shi Qing Xuan was the only one who didn’t wrap his head around it, “What is it? And so? What’s
going on? Your Highness, are you really ill? Does Crimson Rain Sought Flower know? He didn’t
take a good care of you?!”
No no no. It was because of him that it’s like this!
Xie Lian mumbled softly, “Um. Actually. No. Don’t… I think, why don’t you, hmm…”
A mess of images were filling his mind, and he confusedly uttered a pile of meaningless words.
Suddenly, his back bumped into someone’s chest. An arm wearing a silver vambrace circled his
waist, and a familiar voice smiled hummingly, “I think, why don’t you all return to your seats, eat
your food, and stop worrying about anything else? How’s that?”
With this current situation, Xie Lian really didn’t know whether if he should feel absolved or even
more awkward, and he exclaimed, “San Lang!”
The moment they saw Hua Cheng emerge, both Feng Xin and Mu Qing’s faces looked
complicated. But before Xie Lian, they couldn’t really say anything. Only Shi Qing Xuan still
questioned very seriously, “Crimson Rain Sought Flower, have you checked over His Highness’
Xie Lian slapped his forehead, desperately hoping Shi Qing Xuan wouldn’t ask anymore
questions. Just then, the crowd of beggars started complaining, “ONE MORE BOWL!”
“ADD MORE MEAT!”
“THIS CHICKEN SOUP IS SO BLAND, ADD MORE SALT!”
Mu Qing couldn’t watch anymore, “Do you all know this is a temple? It’s for worshipping gods,
can you all watch yourselves a bit more?”
However, the crowd of beggars refused to take this. Last time, they held hands with many
heavenly officials to hold down the human array, and they saw with their own eyes how some
heavenly officials were trembling, fleeing last minute, and couldn’t even match them in valour.
They were also acquainted with Shi Qing Xuan, so they couldn’t help but feel so gods are like
this. When life was on the line, they didn’t seem that different than them, and so the gods no
longer appeared so high and unapproachable, harsh and inviolable.
Suddenly, a surprised scream came from within the kitchen, “WHO’S THERE?”
Hearing this, Xie Lian’s heart instantly lurched and dashed into the kitchen. The boar butcher
and the rooster spirit were screaming and shouting inside, and Xie Lian hastily comforted them,
“Calm down! Calm down! What’s happened?”
The rooster spirit was so shaken goosebumps popped all over his body, “GRAND UNCLE!
THERE’S A GHOST! A ghost, emptied all the food we’ve prepared! I only just dipped my head
under the broth and when I came up there was not a bowl left! IT’S A GHOST!”
The boar butcher spat, “What are you so scared for! Aren’t you a ghost yourself!”
Xie Lian was slightly perplexed, “How can that be? I clearly saw you guys make fifty some bowls
But when he looked again, sure enough, all fifty some bowls were empty, and even the broth
was completely cleaned out!
Xie Lian was still feeling puzzled when he suddenly thought of someone, and when he turned
around he saw Hua Cheng was leaning against the door, “San Lang, could this be?”
“More than likely.” Hua Cheng replied flatly.
“En…” Xie Lian mused, “He probably also came to congratulate. Of course he’s welcome, but,
he ate a bit much… now he’s eaten all the food, what should we do?”
Hua Cheng smiled, “Nothing. Add to his interest.”
The mob of troubled ghosts from Ghost City resignedly started to cook from scratch. Just then,
clamouring noises came from the great hall and the yard, sounding as if someone had started
quarreling with another person. Xie Lian was just about to go to mediate when Hua Cheng
caught his hand, and led him out through a side door.
The two walked out of PuQi Shrine holding hands. Upon the path there were trees blocking the
way, and it would’ve been easier to traverse if they dropped their hands. But neither of the two
wanted to let go of the other’s hands, so they twisted and turned, detouring and deviating. As
they meandered, Xie Lian asked, “San Lang, where are we going now?”
“It’s too noisy here.” Hua Cheng said, “Let them go riot, we’ll leave first.”
Xie Lian walked as he turned his head back, sounding a little worried, “Are we letting them be?
PuQi Shrine was only just rebuilt, what if it caves in from the fight again?”
Hua Cheng didn’t seem to care, “If it caves in it caves in, we’ll just build another one. If gege
wants, you can have as many as you wish.”
Night time, within QianDeng Temple, after bathing Xie Lian was wearing a light, snow white
inner robe, leaning over the jaded table next to the divan, drawing stroke after strokes.
He was putting together a calligraphy copybook for Hua Cheng. Hua Cheng was reclined on the
divan next to him, also wearing an inner robe, his collar slightly open, and his fingers were
twiddling that red coral pearl at the tailend of his hair, looking bored to death.
Under the lamplight tepid like jade, he had been gazing at Xie Lian all this time, and after having
stared for a while did he squint his eyes, appearing satisfied. He sighed, “Gege, enough with
that. Come rest now.”
Xie Lian had just suffered his torment, and was determined in not being tricked again. This tone
of voice however, made the tip of his ears burn, and he forced himself to stay calm, continuing
to write. He said with a stern voice, “No. San Lang, someone said your writing is ugly again
today, you have to practice hard, alright? Otherwise, I don’t want anyone to know you’ve been
taught by me.”
Hua Cheng sat up slightly, arching his brows, “Gege, I remember, in the past you clearly said
you liked my writing.”
Ever since Hua Cheng had come back, for a long period of time Xie Lian was yielding and
docile, answering his every whim, and this was probably how he had finally spoiled Hua Cheng
rotten as he grew more and more sly. Xie Lian finished writing the characters and placed the
brush down, sounding even more strict, “Knock it off. I’m done, come practice.”
Thus, Hua Cheng lazily shuffled to Xie Lian’s back, hugging his waist, and bent slightly, resting
his head on his shoulder. He removed that red coral pearl from his hair and placed it on the
paper, making it chase after Xie Lian’s hand, rolling around, purposely obstructing Xie Lian from
Such mischief but at the same time so forceful in vaunting his sense of presence, Xie Lian
remembered how Heaven’s Eye had said his entire person was emitting the essence of evil “all
over his body, from the inside out”. This was all Hua Cheng’s scent, and Xie Lian felt his heart
go soft in spite of himself. He struggled lightly and whispered, “…Write properly.”
“Fine. I’ll listen to gege.” Hua Cheng said.
He raised his brush, but after two verses he put it back down. Xie Lian took a look and shook his
head, mentally sighing for the umpteeth time, “It’s helpless.” After a pause, he also raised a
brush and helped Hua Cheng fill in the last two verses.
After he was done, Xie Lian blew lightly and picked up the paper, the two admiring the poem
they’ve written together.
The ink upon the paper had formed the four elegant phrases that had spread throughout heaven
No water’s enough when you have crossed the sea;
No cloud is beautiful but that which crowns the peak.
I pass by flowers that fail to attract poor me
Half for your sake and half for Taoism I seek.
Even E-Ming who was hanging by the tableside was watching unblinkingly with its eye opened
wide, seeming to fully admire the work. Hua Cheng laughed, “Gege, quick, sign your name.
These words will surely stun the future generations, and pass down through the ages.”
Xie Lian had already authored Hua Cheng’s name at the bottom earlier, but when he heard him,
he really couldn’t pick up the brush to add his own name. Hua Cheng finished laughing and
pretended to be serious, “Gege, are you embarrassed? I’ll help you.”
Then, he held Xie Lian’s hand and wrote a couple words with rough strokes. Naturally, without
this current scene, no one would be able to tell those were two words, and no one would be
able to tell at all it was Xie Lian’s name.
Xie Lian watched this thing written by his own hand, feeling ridiculous, wriggling his head by
Hua Cheng’s chest. Suddenly, he felt those couple of characters looked familiar, as if he had
seen it somewhere else before.
A moment later, he remembered, and his eyes suddenly lit up. He exclaimed, “San Lang! On
He caught hold of Hua Cheng’s small arm, and pulled up his sleeve, exclaiming excitedly, “It’s
That period of time when the two had lived together in PuQi Shrine, there was one day when
Xie Lian had noticed a worded tattoo on Hua Cheng’s arm, looking like some characters from a
foreign land. At the time he had even chewed on it in his mind, but he had never imagined, that
it wasn’t some “foreign writing” at all. Turns out, it was his own name!
Hua Cheng also glanced at his own arm and laughed, “Does gege finally recognize it?”
“I should’ve recognized it a long time ago.” Xie Lian said, “It’s just…”
It’s just, Hua Cheng’s writing truly was the craft of the devil. He needn’t have said anything and
Hua Cheng could guess what he was thinking, and he started laughing heartily, a hand hugging
Xie Lian’s waist, giving his forehead a gentle peck, “Don’t worry, it’s fine as long as gege’s
writing is beautiful. I would be a million times happier than if my writing was beautiful.”
Xie Lian’s hand caressed where the tattoo was. The ink of the tattoo was deep, and it was easy
to imagine just how painful it had been. He asked softly, “Was this done when you were little?”
Hua Cheng smiled and pulled his sleeve down, nodding.
Then that was definitely something he had tattooed himself. Picturing the image of a small boy
sneakily carving the name of the one he admired; such childishness. Such courage.
Ten fingers clasped tightly together with a red string entwined between. Suddenly, before Xie
Lian’s vision floated that scene of a year ago when Hua Cheng had dissipated into butterflies in
That last moment, Hua Cheng had uttered something.
Although it was soundless, Xie Lian still knew exactly what he had said.
It was the words Hua Cheng had enforced since he was a child, and eternally thereafter beyond
“I am forever your most devoted believer.”
Once upon a time, they say in the common world, there is a Scrap Immortal.
Although he is called the Scrap Immortal, but what this immortal blessed weren’t scrap
collectors, but the peace of the mortal realm. This is because at the same time, he is also the
strongest of martial gods.
There is no evil he could not vanquish, there is no ghost he could not slay. He possessed the
power to annihilate the world, but he does not lack the heart to cherish the flower.
However, to worship a god there comes a set of rules and taboos. If one was to come by a
temple that worshipped this immortal, one must never prostrate so casually.
Apparently, this Scrap Immortal has a special constitution and will summon misfortune. Don’t
believe it? Prepare a dice, rub the hand of the immortal’s divine statue, roll the dice, and your
luck would for sure be the worst there is.
So, to pray to this Scrap Immortal’s dusty white divine statue might bring more and more bad
luck the more one prayed, to the point where even water can get stuck between teeth, see
ghosts when wearing taoist robes.
They also say in the common world, that there is such a Red Robed Ghost King.
Although this Ghost King is considered to be inhuman, he possessed an immense number of
worshippers, and there are often those who would secretly set up the shrine of the Ghost King
in their own abodes, worshipping day and night, praying for good fortune.
This is because, not only is this Ghost King invincible, it appears he had never tasted a single
defeat, and his luck is comparably powerful.
Don’t believe it? Before rolling the dice, prostrate before him. If he is willing to assist, then your
next roll would definitely be exceptional.
However, ghosts aren’t like gods, so naturally there are even more taboos. While this Ghost
King is powerful, his personality is peculiar and extreme.
If he’s happy, he’ll help you even if you don’t pray; if he’s displeased, you can give a thousand
gold and he would still turn away; if he was very displeased, who knows if one day he’ll just take
So, by the same logic, it’s best to show your respects but stay far away.
However, if people worshipped the divine statues of this one god and one ghost together, then
there will be a miracle.
That Red Robed Ghost King will expel all the misfortune enveloping the Scrap Immortal, and let
him reveal his true appearance.
People will shockingly discover that, turns out, the Scrap Immortal’s colours aren’t dusty white,
but shimmering gold.
Legends are usually based on truth. However, this is probably a tale of a long, long time ago,
maybe it’d even need to be told starting from eight hundred years ago, and it would be a very,
very long tale to tell. People might not have the patience to listen.
But what can be certain is, in order to have both of them display their strongest powers, the two
must be worshipped together.
This way, one can receive double the fortune, and twice the invincibility.
By the Heaven Official’s Blessing, No Paths are Bound!