Two years later, spring.
Recently, Tong’an County was particularly lively, with the streets full of people coming and going, most of them cultivators from other places. When the innkeeper of Taoju Inn was busy soliciting customers at the entrance of the inn, he loved to look at these cultivators. In half a month, he had seen many cultivators who looked like immortals or had extraordinary demeanor but when he saw the young man dressed in plain white and holding a sword, he was still stunned unconsciously, thinking that he had seen an immortal.
Beside the young man in white, there was also a handsome young man, dressed in bright yellow brocade, with a flute pinned to his waist. He looked extremely rich and magnificent, but he also made the young man in white appear more refined and detached.
Seeing the two immortals coming towards his inn, the innkeeper hurriedly greeted them and said enthusiastically: “Master Immortals, please, would you like to have a meal or stay in the inn?”
The young man in yellow clothes said, “We have a place to live, we have come to you for a meal.”
“Then the two immortals are in the right place,” the innkeeper said, “In Tong’an County, there is no one who wouldn’t know that the yellow crispy duck in our Taoju Inn is a masterpiece. There are only two hundred a day, and they will be gone if you come late. The two immortals came just in time. There are still a few left in the kitchen. Would you like to order one?”
The young man in yellow clothes turned his head and asked his companion’s opinion: “Louyin, what do you think?”
Gu Louyin gaze wandered somewhere, “Fugui.”
“I saw him just now.”
Shen Fugui felt quite helpless. He had been accompanying Gu Louyin for a month, and he was no longer surprised that he recognized a wrong person at every turn. “Louyin, you are at it again.” Shen Fugui said, “I heard that he was a great beauty, one that is rare to meet in a hundred years. Such a beauty walking in the street will definitely attract people to look back and stare. Look at this street, how can there be such a person?”
Gu Louyin was extremely persistent in this matter: “No, I really saw him.”
Shen Fugui knew that it was useless to say more. He sighed and said, “Then what are you going to do?”
Gu Louyin stood in the lively street and did nothing, but in a blink of an eye, he attracted the attention of countless men and women.
“Okay, let’s go in, the yellow crispy duck will be gone later.”
Shen Fugui pulled Gu Louyin into the inn, regretting accompanying Gu Louyin for the hundredth time.
Gu Louyin was the young master of Yunjian Pavilion, and Shen Fugui was the young master of Xuanle Sect (Mysterious Music Sect). Yunjian Pavilion, Xuanle Sect and Baihua Palace (Hundred Flowers Palace) were known as the three greatest sects in the world. He and Gu Louyin had known each other since childhood and were fellow disciples. The two met by chance in Luling City a month ago. Shen Fugui learned that Gu Louyin, like himself, would go to Baihua Palace to participate in the once-a-decade flower viewing party, so he proposed to travel together. Who knew Gu Louyin would want to find someone while on the road? In the vast sea of people, looking for someone was tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack. They didn’t find anyone and they lost a lot of time. Finally, they arrived in Tong’an County, only one city away from Baihua Palace. Gu Louyin had the old problem of recognizing a wrong person again. Who knew how long they would stay in Tong’an County this time and whether they could catch up with the flower viewing party at Baihua Palace.
Baihua Palace was full of medical practitioners and healers, and all of them were women. Usually, there were almost no men in Baihua Palace. Only during the flower viewing party, they would invite the masters and unmarried disciples of major sects to Baihua Palace. It was called flower viewing. In fact, this opportunity was also used to solve matrimonial problems for the female cultivators of Baihua Palace.
As the young masters of the three major sects, Shen Fugui and Gu Louyin were naturally among the invited to the flower viewing party. Shen Fugui had a little shimei who was his childhood sweetheart. The two made up their minds to be together when they were eighteen years old, but for various reasons, they did not inform their parents and elders. After the little shimei learned that Shen Fugui was going to participate in the flower viewing party, she was so angry that she left the Shimen and took away his invitation. Shen Fugui had to chase her for thousands of miles, and the chase brought him to Tong’an County.
After the wine and food were served, Shen Fugui got what he wanted and ate the yellow crispy duck. However, he felt it wasn’t that special, and after a couple of bites he started to get worried again: “Louyin, do you think little shimei will forgive me?”
Gu Louyin said calmly: “I don’t know.”
“She really, why doesn’t she listen to my explanation?” Shen Fugui complained, “Do I want to go to that flower viewing party? It’s just that my sister asked me to go. As if she doesn’t know how terrible my sister is when she gets angry, but I’d accept being scolded by my sister for her. Yet now shimei ran away with my invitation card, so now I have to go to Baihua Palace to find her. What is this mess?”
Gu Louyin didn’t understand the affairs between men and women and didn’t know how to answer.
Shen Fugui sighed, drank wine to relieve his sorrow and suddenly heard Gu Louyin’s name.
Sitting next to them were also some cultivators. Judging by their attire, they didn’t come from the three major sects but seemed to belong to a small sect. It was these people who were talking about Gu Louyin unscrupulously.
“I heard that Gu Louyin from Yunjian Pavilion will also go to this flower viewing party. Gu Louyin was only nine years old at the last flower viewing party, and he will be nineteen this year, at the right age to start a family in a few years. The female cultivators of Baihua Palace are blessed this time, and I don’t know who can hook up with him and become the wife of the young master of Yunjian Pavilion.”
“Gu Louyin will go? Really? Why did I hear that Gu Louyin had been looking for his fiancée for the past two years, and rarely returned to Yunjian Pavilion.”
“What fiancée? Yunjian Pavilion already said, Gu Louyin has never had a fiancée. Those are all rumors.”
“Really, I heard that he is going crazy looking for his fiancée.”
“Where did you hear this gossip from? Would a person like Gu Louyin be trapped by love? Who are you trying to kid…”
Shen Fugui couldn’t listen anymore, so he got up and said, “I’m going to shut them up.”
Shen Fugui said reluctantly: “But…”
“What are you looking at?” Shen Fugui obediently followed Gu Louyin’s gaze and saw an… auntie?
Shen Fugui was taken aback. When did Gu Louyin become interested in aunties, especially a plain-looking auntie dressed in simple linen clothes like this.
“This woman… is there anything wrong?”
Gu Louyin said, “She dresses plainly, but the dishes she orders are expensive.”
When Gu Louyin said this, Shen Fugui also found it strange, “And she is the only one who actually ordered five dishes?”
Gu Louyin’s eyes darkened slightly, “And they are all seafood he likes.”
Shen Fugui was taken aback for a moment and said, “You are… you shouldn’t…”
Gu Louyin didn’t speak but just looked at the auntie’s profile.
Shen Fugui couldn’t bear it, “Wake up, hey, there are many people with similar tastes in the world. You can’t suspect anyone because of this! And that’s a big lady, big lady! Is it possible that he can change from a man to a woman after falling off a cliff once?”
Gu Louyin paused, “You are right.”
It’s him… his mind is not clear.
At this moment, a boy who was about seven or eight years old ran into the inn and shouted at the auntie: “Mother!”
The auntie frowned and replied with a smile: “Xiao Bao is here – where is your teacher?”
A thin man in modest attire walked in after the boy and said to the auntie, “Are you Xiao Bao’s mother?”
“Yes yes yes, Master, please sit down.“ The auntie bent over and poured a cup of tea for the man, “Master works hard at school to take care of Xiao Bao every day.”
The teacher hummed coldly, looked at Xiao Bao and said, “Indeed, if I use one portion of my mind on someone else, I would need ten portions for your Xiao Bao.”
The auntie scolded in a low voice: “What good have you done again!”
Xiao Bao lowered his head silently. The teacher said: “Yesterday, he took a nap in class and drooled all over the table; the day before yesterday, he stuffed a brush in the nostrils of his classmate; two days before yesterday, he took a few newly enrolled children to skip class and went to Aunt Zhang’s house next door to steal loquats…”
Xiao Bao’s crimes were revealed one by one, and the auntie’s expression became more and more unsightly, her eyes full of murderous intent. When the teacher finished speaking dryly, she handed him another cup of tea and said with a smile: “Master, don’t worry, I will teach this kid a good lesson when we go back, and he will not dare as much as fart at school in the future.”
The teacher took a sip of tea, glanced at the auntie and said, “Punishment. He must be punished. But it’s useless to just beat him. He has to know what he did wrong.”
“Yes, yes,” the auntie said hurriedly, “I know this, I understand it with my mind and I am moved with my heart.”
The mother and son admitted their mistakes with a sincere attitude, and the teacher couldn’t say anything. He gave a few words of encouragement to Xiao Bao and left. As soon as the teacher left, Xiao Bao seemed to become another person. There was no trace left of the sincerity he had shown just now. He strutted to his mother and asked: “How much do you want?”
The auntie asked rhetorically: “How much can you give me?”
Xiao Bao thought about it for a while and said, “I have a total of five yuan, and I will give you three yuan at most.”
The aunt smiled and said, “Three yuans. It is enough to buy a tanghulu.”
Xiao Bao was a little pained, “Isn’t it?”
“Then you can buy me a tanghulu,” the auntie said, “I will wait for you here.”
Xiao Bao left hurriedly. Shen Fugui said curiously: “This mother-and-son duo is so strange. I thought that the auntie would scold her son.”
Gu Louyin’s hand holding the wine glass tightened, “En.”
More strange things were still to come. Before Xiao Bao came back, the auntie called the waiter to check out and then walked out of the inn without even waiting for her son.
Gu Louyin immediately picked up his sword and walked out, but in the blink of an eye, the auntie had disappeared into the crowd.
Shen Fugui hurriedly chased after him: “Why are you always so dazed, did you see him again?”
Gu Louyin pursed his lips and said nothing. Seeing Xiao Bao buying tanghulu in the street, he walked over and said to the old woman selling tanghulu: “I want all these.”
The old woman had never done such a big business and she didn’t react for a while. “That……”
Xiao Bao was anxious: “What are you doing, I obviously came first!”
Gu Louyin said, “Do you want it?”
Xiao Bao nodded again and again, “I promised to buy it for someone.”
“If you answer my question, I will give you all these.”
Xiao Bao was stunned by this huge surprise, “What, what’s the question?”
“The one who talked to you in the inn just now was not your mother?”
“No, it’s not. But he can become my mother, as long as I give him money.”
Gu Louyin’s voice trembled faintly: “Then he… who is he?”
Xiao Bao said with a smile: “Everyone calls him ‘Master An’ and I know where he lives – are you looking for him?”
Gu Louyin’s heart thudded suddenly, “Yes, I’m looking for him.”