“That is to say, you were still awake in the middle of the night and you were so bored that you climbed up to the Wailing of the Ghosts that originated from the cold breeze. Then, you found and saved a Kunlun disciple who almost died at the lake?” Still in the tavern, Old Ma looked unkindly at Lu Chen as he spoke in a displeased tone.
The morning light shone through the gaps and spilled onto Lu Chen’s face. He contemplated for a moment and nodded, “That was about it.”
“Pi!”. Old Ma laughed patronisingly, “Are you aware of your own identity? Especially when you just found the carvings of a secret message from the demonic cult, ******! Can you act more appropriately?” Old Ma stopped suddenly. He inspected Lu Chen from top to bottom carefully with a look of suspicion on his face, “It can’t be that… You thought of Tianlan zhenjun, so…”
“That wasn’t it. Who would have the leisure to bother about that darned old man.” Lu Chen chuckled, “That was a life, after all.”
Old Ma snorted, “Nonsense, stop acting in front me! Tell me, why didn’t you leave that idiot to drown?”
Lu Chen coughed dryly and replied, “Old Ma, recently, there has been quite a malevolent aura shrouding you. Why have you been hoping for other’s death now and then? I think this is a symptom of your Yin and Yang being in a disharmony. How about this, you pass 3 Spirit Stones to me and I will sacrifice myself to help you inform lady Ding Dang, so that she can treat you.”
Old Ma flew into a rage and roared, “Nonsense! Ding Dang only charges 2 Spirit Stones a night, how dare you try to scam me!”
Lu Chen was surprised. He stood up and stared at Old Ma, “What the hell! How can you know it so clearly?”
Old Ma’s plump face turned red, although he immediately regained his composure. He humphed and poured a cup of wine for himself. Then, he continued calmly, “There isn’t anything I do not know in this village.”
Lu Chen stared at him suspiciously, “But why do I feel that you are acting strangely?”
“Strange, your head!” Old Ma reprimanded him. Then, he changed the topic decisively, “About that secret message from the demonic cult, I have been looking through the entire village and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the old villagers. On the other hand, among the new villagers, there are three to four of them who seems suspicious. I will pay closer attention to them.”
Lu Chen nodded his head and said, “Alright, tell me if anything happens.”
Old Ma continued, “About the young man on the opposite bank whom you talked about yesterday, I’ve looked into him. His name is Li Ji and he is currently not in any sects. He is a mortal who looks forward to cultivating. The reason why he is here is probably to try his luck and see whether he could be admitted into the Thousand Autumn Sects.”
“Un”, Lu Chen replied and remained silent. Villagers with these kinds of background are the commonest. Every year, around eight out of ten new villagers would hold such thoughts.
Old Ma said, “Li Ji is indeed blessed with great outer appearance. Despite his short period in the village, many villagers have a good impression on him. Also, his painting skills are superb and he often draws vivid pictures of passing ladies at the west bank. This adds an elegant disposition to him, causing him to be favored by many of the female villagers.”
Lu Chen pondered and smiled, “This village has been too uneventful for too long. It isn’t surprising for the hearts of those ladies to be moved upon seeing such a handsome playboy.”
Old Ma humphed, neither agreeing or disagreeing. He added on, “Right, this Li Ji is also a newcomer to the village. He is also among the three to four suspects of the demon cult that I have told you about earlier.”
Lu Chen frowned. Unsure about what he was thinking about, Old Ma’s face darkened as well.
Exiting the tavern, Lu Chen walked by the clear stream toward his straw cottage by the foot of the mountain. Along the way, he could only see the clear water of the stream flow steadily beneath the glow of the sun and the reflections of the green bamboos and peach blossoms in the water. It was a beautiful sight.
Halfway through, Lu Chen suddenly noticed a commotion and laughter from the opposite bank. A thought flashed through his mind and he immediately turned to take a look. As he expected, there were three to four madams standing there as they giggled under the cover of their hands. In front of them, the carefree Li Ji smiled as he positioned his canvas and his brush.
Lu Chen suddenly heard footsteps behind him and strangely, the footsteps sounded familiar. Lu Chen twisted his head to take a look, only to observe a familiar figure walk past him toward the rock bridge. Her back figure was slim and elegant, her hair as beautiful and luxurious as the clouds. She was Ding Dang.
The lady stared intently at the opposite bank as she lifted her silk skirt lightly and walked over. She did not notice Lu Chen who was standing nearby.
Lu Chen looked at her back, then at the Li Ji who was chatting happily with the other women at the opposite bank. He shook his head and walked into the distance. Not too long later, the outline of his cottage came into sight.
There were quite a few villagers in Clear Stream Village now. However, the only lodging at the foot of the tea mountain was this straw cottage. There was a simple reason to it. When the mountainous wind blows at night, the eerily high-pitched sounds reminiscent of the howling of spirits was frightening. Thus, Lu Chen lived here in peace for the last few years, except for the slight ruckus at night.
Standing in front of the entrance to the straw cottage, Lu Chen first looked around. Only after confirming that there was nothing amiss did he push the door open to walk in. In the small straw cottage, there was a person lying on the bed. It was the Kunlun Sect disciple whom he saw yesterday, Hong Chuan.
At this moment, Hong Chuan was lying on the bed with his eyes shut tightly. However, from the look of the rhythmic expansion and contraction at his chest, he did not seem to be severely injured. Rather, he seemed to be immersed in his sleep.
Lu Chen chuckled. He didn’t have the intention to awaken Hong Chuan. Instead, he grabbed a stool and sat by the door to gaze at the scenery of the village in the distant in silence. There was a glint in his gaze, as though he was musing.
His patience seemed to be remarkable. Even though Hong Chuan slept on without a sign of awakening, it seemed that as long as Hong Chuan wanted, he wouldn’t mind waiting three days here for him.
Of course, things wouldn’t end up so exaggerated. Right before noon, when the sun was already gazing down at Clear Stream Village, Hong Chuan’s body moved slightly as he awoke from his dreams.
He opened his eyes with difficulty before gazing confusedly at his surroundings. Then, his body jolted as he sat up. This time, with a look of astonishment, he scanned his surroundings. It didn’t take long for him to spot Lu Chen, who was sitting by the door of the straw cottage.
Lu Chen took a look at him and smiled, “You’re awake?”
Hong Chuan was shocked to see him. He questioned, “Brother Lu Chen, why is it you?” Saying that, he took a look again around the straw cottage. He couldn’t help but ask, “Where am I?”
Lu Chen replied, “This is my living quarter, a straw cottage at the foot of the tea mountain. It is a shabby cottage, so please bear with it.”
Hong Chuan shook his head in response. Then, with a bizarre look on his face, he asked, “I, Why am I here?”
Not withholding anything, Lu Chen described what he saw yesterday as well as the matter which he saved Hong Chuan from the lake.