“That is to say, you are still awake in the middle of the night and you are so bored that you climbed up to the wailing of the ghosts that originate from the cold breeze. Then, you found and saved a Kunlun disciple who almost died at the lake?” In the tavern, Old Ma looks unkindly at Lu Chen as he speaks in a displeased tone.
The morning light shines through the tavern and spills onto Lu Chen’s face. He contemplates for a moment and nods his head, “That is about it.”
“Pi!”. Old Ma laughs coldly, “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?” At this point, he suddenly stuns. He scans Lu Chen from the top to the bottom carefully with a look of suspicion on his face, “It can’t be that… You thought of Tianlan zhenjun, so…”
“That isn’t it. Who would have the leisure to bother about that darned old man.” Lu Chen chuckles, “That is a life, after all.”
Old Ma snorts, “Nonsense, stop acting in front me! Tell me, why didn’t you leave that idiot to drown?”
Lu Chen coughs dryly and says, “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 flies into a rage and roars, “Nonsense! Ding Dang only charges 2 Spirit Stones a night, how dare you try to scam me!”
Lu Chen is surprised. He stands up and stares at Old Ma, “What the hell! How can you know it so clearly?”
Old Ma’s plump face turns red, although he immediately regains his composure. He humphs and pours a cup of wine for himself. Then, he continues calmly, “There isn’t anything I do not know in this village.”
Lu Chen stares at him suspiciously, “But why do I feel that you are acting strangely?”
“Strange your head!” Old Ma reprimands him. Then, he changes 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 which seems suspicious. I will pay closer attention to them.”
Lu Chen nods his head and says, “Alright, tell me if anything happens.”
Old Ma continues, “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 replies and remains silent. Villagers with these kind of background are the commonest. Every year, around eight out of ten new villagers would hold such thoughts.
Old Ma says, “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 ponders and smiles, “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 handsome playboy.”
Old Ma humphs, neither agreeing or disagreeing with his words. He adds 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 frowns. Unsure about what he is thinking about, his face also darkens.
Walking out the tavern, Lu Chen walks by the clear stream towards 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 is a beautiful sight.
Halfway through, Lu Chen suddenly hears a commotion and laughter from the opposite bank. A thought flashes through his mind and he immediately turns to take a look. As he expected, there are three to four madams standing there as they giggle beneath their hands. In front of them, the carefree Li Ji smiles as he positions his canvas and his brush.
He suddenly hears footsteps behind him and strangely, these footsteps sound familiar. Lu Chen twists his head to take a look only to see a familiar figure walk past him towards the rock bridge. Her back figure is slim and elegant, her hair as beautiful and luxurious like the clouds. She is Ding Dang.
The lady stares intently on the opposite bank as she lifts her silk skirt lightly and walks over. She didn’t notice Lu Chen who is standing not too far away from her.
Lu Chen looks at her back, then at the Li Ji who is chatting happily with the other women at the opposite bank. He shakes his head and walks into the distant. Not too long later, the outline of his cottage comes into sight.
There are quite a few villagers in Clear Stream Village now. However, the only lodging at the foot of the tea mountain is this straw cottage. There is a simple reason to it. When the mountainous wind blows at night, the eerie high-pitched sound reminiscent of the howling of spirits is 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 looks around. Only after confirming that there is nothing amiss does he push the door open to walk in. In the small straw cottage, there is a person lying on the bed. It is the Kunlun Sect disciple whom he saw yesterday, Hong Chuan.
At this moment, Hong Chuan is lying on the bed with his eyes shut tightly. However, from the look of the rhythmic expansion and contraction at his chest, he doesn’t seem to be severely injured. Rather, he seems to be immersed in his sleep.
Lu Chen chuckles. He doesn’t have the intention to awaken Hong Chuan. Instead, he grabs a stool and sits by the door to gaze at the scenery of the village in the distant silently. There is a glint in his gaze, as though he is musing.
His patience seems to be remarkable. Even though Hong Chuan sleeps on without a sign of awakening, it seems that as long as Hong Chuan is willing, 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 is already gazing down at Clear Stream Village, Hong Chuan’s body moves slightly as he awakes from his dreams.
He opens his eyes with difficulty before gazing confusedly at his surroundings. Then, his body jolts as he sits up. This time, with a look of astonishment, he scans his surrounding. It didn’t take long for him to spot Lu Chen, who is sitting by the door of the straw cottage.
Lu Chen takes a look at him and smiles, “You’re awake?”
Hong Chuan is shocked to see him. He asks, “Brother Lu Chen, why is it you?” Saying that, he takes a look around the straw cottage. He couldn’t help but ask again, “Where am I?”
Lu Chen replies, “This is my living quarters, a straw cottage at the foot of the tea mountain. It is a shabby cottage, so please bear with it.”
Hong Chuan shakes his head in reponse. Then, with a bizarre look on his face, he asks, “I, Why am I here?”
Not hiding anything, Lu Chen describes what he saw yesterday as well as the matter which he saved Hong Chuan from the lake.