Xiao Yuan thought he had vividly demonstrated Shen Fugui’s thinking process from hesitation to making up his mind, but Gu Louyin was unmoved and said, “My reputation is bad and those who accompany me might be suspected by righteous cultivators.”
Xiao Yuan shouted: “I am the dignified Young Master of Xuanle Sect, would I care about gossip?! I finally found you and I won’t give up until I see you return from Yunjian Pavilion safely. Louyin, my mind is made up, you don’t have to persuade me anymore.”
His strenuous performance finally loosened Gu Louyin a little: “As you wish.”
Xiao Yuan smiled, saw the rice cake stand next to them and said, “Do you want to eat this? I’ll buy some for you.” With these words, he asked the owner for two rice cakes. He kept one for himself and handed the other to Gu Louyin.
Gu Louyin looked at the waxy white pastry in his hand but did not move for a long time. Only halfway through Xiao Yuan remembered that Gu Louyin would never eat in the street.
Xiao Yuan said, “Let’s go find a restaurant first?”
Gu Louyin suddenly asked him, “Is it delicious?”
“You mean the rice cake?” Xiao Yuan had almost exposed his identity because of his dietary preferences once. He learned his lesson and gained wisdom. Even if Gu Louyin had already determined that he was dead, he still made an extra effort. “Somewhat. How good could something that costs three yuan be? It’s just for the sake of novelty.”
Gu Louyin lowered his head and took a bite, sweetness spreading in his mouth, gradually turning bitter.
Xiao Yuan: “…” Gu Louyin really ate it, in the street with the people around. Luo Lan did say that Gu Louyin’s temperament had changed drastically after he became demonized but he felt it hadn’t changed that much. Now it seemed he was wrong about it.
It was getting late. Xiao Yuan asked, “Have you figured out how to sneak into Yunjian Pavilion?”
Gu Louyin said, “’Sneak in’?”
“Are you going to strut in killing everyone?”
Gu Louyin didn’t comment. Xiao Yuan said: “Since the elders of Six Peaks were defeated by Xingtian Sect, Yunjian Pavilion is heavily guarded and there are several times more disciples guarding and patrolling than in the past. If you just want to go back to pick up one thing, there is no need to clash with them head-on. No matter how good you are, there are too many of them.” Xiao Yuan paused, and couldn’t help but say, “The last time you killed left and right in Yunjian Pavilion, you sounded mighty, but in the end you still escaped with serious injuries.”
Gu Louyin said, “It doesn’t matter.”
Xiao Yuan didn’t quite understand what Gu Louyin meant. Doesn’t matter? What doesn’t matter? It doesn’t matter if you are seriously injured, it doesn’t matter if you can’t escape? As long as you get Qingyan, it doesn’t matter if you die – was that what Gu Louyin meant?
Thinking of Gu Louyin’s ambiguous words in the illusion, Xiao Yuan felt a little uneasy and said in a joking tone: “You aren’t looking for death, are you?”
Looking at his friend’s concerned face, Gu Louyin was silent for a moment and said, “I just want to take something.”
“I didn’t say that I won’t let you take it.” Xiao Yuan persuaded bitterly, “It’s not too late for us to make a long-term plan before we go and get it.”
While talking, the two of them passed by a mansion; Gu Louyin unexpectedly stopped and looked at it.
There were two broken stone beasts standing in front of the high vermilion gate. The plaque on the gate was a bit crooked and the words “Shou Mansion” were written on it. Xiao Yuan felt that this scenery seemed familiar to him so he couldn’t help asking, “This is…”
Gu Louyin said, “The mansion of Luling’s governor.”
Xiao Yuan remembered. When he and Gu Louyin first met on the snowy mountain, they also followed this route down the mountain and came to Luling City. Because of strange cases in the mansion of Luling’s governor, they stayed in the governor’s mansion for a few days to investigate and finally found out that an ancient mirror was responsible. After that, they took the ancient mirror to Yunjian Pavilion and then Lin Wulian was poisoned and they turned against each other because of the matter of taking blood. So, the short period of time in Luling City seemed to be the most harmonious time for them.
At that time, he could still call Gu Louyin “Gu-xiong”.
Xiao Yuan pulled his thoughts back from his memories, while Gu Louyin had already reached the gate of the governor’s mansion. He reached out and pushed open the weather-beaten door. A sense of desolation hit him. Gu Louyin stood still for a moment and walked in.
Xiao Yuan stopped someone along the way and asked, “Dare to ask you, brother, do you know where the owner of this house has gone?”
No one has lived in the house for a long time; it was dilapidated, surrounded by grass and covered in moss. Xiao Yuan caught up with Gu Louyin and said, “I heard that the governor surnamed Shou used to live here in Luling City. Two years ago, the household of Governor Shou was wiped out overnight and the smell of blood could be smelled all over the streets. But the authorities had no clue and the murderer has not been found so far. His successor felt this place was too unlucky and established another mansion, while this mansion was abandoned.”
Xiao Yuan specifically inquired when the household of Governor Shou was exterminated and it seemed to be quite soon after they left. The ancient mirror that harmed people was taken by them to Yunjian Pavilion. What was it that killed all those people – humans or evil things?
Gu Louyin didn’t seem to be interested in it. He stepped on the moss-covered steps, the hem of his clothes turning slightly wet.
The places where one used to travel, not only people changed but things changed too.
Xiao Yuan followed him without making a sound. He and Gu Louyin hadn’t spent much time together and there were only a few places they had visited together.
Like Luo Lan, Xiao Yuan had always believed that Gu Louyin only felt guilt towards him, until Gu Louyin trapped him against the door in the illusion and lowered his head to him.
Looking back at the time he spent with Gu Louyin, he felt that it was sparse and ordinary, and he couldn’t find any moments that were out of line. The experiences and memories shared by two people were regarded as treasures by one person but in the eyes of the other, they were mediocre and might even be burdensome. He could easily get out but Gu Louyin was firmly trapped and could never get out. It was ironic.
In fact… not everything was burdensome. If he could do it again, he would still like to meet Gu Louyin, provided that the bad things in the future would not happen.
Thinking of this, Xiao Yuan couldn’t help but chuckle. He considered himself an open-minded person, never one to be sad about established facts, but surprisingly, he began to wonder about ‘what if’.
Xiao Yuan temporarily put aside these petty childish sentiments and asked, “Louyin, would you like to investigate the murder of the Shou Mansion?”
Gu Louyin said, “Let’s go to Yunjian Pavilion.”
The road from Luling City to Yunjian Pavilion was long and it took two days of flying the sword. Xiao Yuan was still not used to standing on the sword while flying. He remembered the last time he flew the sword with Gu Louyin. At that time, for fear that he would be blown away by the wind, he hugged Gu Louyin’s waist tightly from behind and pressed his cheek against his back to keep warm.……
Xiao Yuan raised his eyes and looked at Gu Louyin standing in front of him – with his silver hair flying and his sleeves full of cold wind, he looked like an immortal.
“What’s the matter?”
“Can I hold onto you?” Xiao Yuan said weakly, “My head feels a little dizzy. It might be that the wind is too strong. I am afraid that I will fall.”
Gu Louyin handed him the sword sheath, “Hold it.”
Xiao Yuan hurriedly clenched one end of the sheath and Gu Louyin held the other end. It made him feel a little more at ease.
Xiao Yuan remembered something and asked, “By the way, I heard that you exchanged your natal sword for a medicinal herb when you were in Baihua Palace. So what sword are you using now?”
Gu Louyin said, “This sword is made of ice and snow and it is nameless.”
Xiao Yuan imagined Gu Louyin forging a sword out of snow on the snowy mountain and said with a smile: “Then when we fly to the south, will it turn into water?”
Gu Louyin: “No.”
Xiao Yuan: “Oh.”
What Gu Louyin said was true. When they landed outside the warm city of Huaizhou, the nameless sword was still cold and showed no signs of melting.
Huaizhou was the closest city to Yunjian Pavilion. From time to time, you could see some disciples dressed in Yunjian Pavilion attire walking together in the street. Once Gu Louyin appeared in the city, it was very likely that he would be recognized, so the two of them landed in the depths of the forest on the outskirts of the city.
Yunjian Pavilion and Xuanle Sect were good friends. It was easy for Xiao Yuan to enter Yunjian Pavilion with Shen Fugui’s face. The problem lay with Gu Louyin.
Xiao Yuan suggested: “Why don’t you change your face and pretend to be a disciple of Xuanle Sect, and I will take you in?”
Ordinary people could only use skin masks if they wanted to change their faces. They couldn’t peel off someone’s skin, of course, so they could only buy one in the black market and even that might be impossible.
Gu Louyin said, “Fugui.”
Xiao Yuan’s heart thumped and he was about to say something when he suddenly felt that everything turned dark in front of him and he passed out.
When he woke up again, Xiao Yuan found himself sitting under a tree with his back against the trunk. It was completely dark and Gu Louyin had already disappeared.
Xiao Yuan felt angry and amused. Gu Louyin didn’t plan to take him to get Qingyan at all. He didn’t want to involve his old friend. He wanted to fulfill his ‘last wish’ alone.
Xiao Yuan regarded the trunk of the tree as Gu Louyin and kicked it to vent his anger. Then he turned on the Xingtian Sect signal he carried with him and waited patiently.
It didn’t take long for dozens of ghostly figures to float out of the shadows, headed by Li Yanzhi, one of the guardians of Xingtian Sect.
“Greetings young lord.” Li Yanzhi looked around, “Wasn’t young lord together with Gu Louyin? Where’s the person?”
Xiao Yuan said coldly: “Dead.”
Li Yanzhi was stunned: “Huh?”
Xiao Yuan pressed the center of his eyebrows and said, “You guys prepare, I want to attack Yunjian Pavilion at night.”
“Yes!” Li Yanzhi said without hesitation, “When does the young lord plan to act?”
Li Yanzhi said, “How soon? Young lord, it’s not a trivial matter to attack Yunjian Pavilion at night and just a few of us can’t kill many people in Yunjian Pavilion. Let’s wait for me to recruit more manpower…”
“You don’t need to kill people, you just need to turn Yunjian Pavilion upside down while protecting yourselves, and give him… give me a chance. Remember, the longer it takes, the better, but once you lose, don’t fight, just run away. Do you understand?”
Li Yanzhi said: “Understood. What about the young lord?”
“I will infiltrate Yunjian Pavilion and cooperate with you inside and outside.” Xiao Yuan smiled, “And, along the way, I will ask the Master of Yunjian Pavilion a question.”
Xiao Yuan said goodbye to Li Yanzhi and went to Yunjian Pavilion. The gatekeepers of Yunjian Pavilion saw that the young master of Xuanle Sect was visiting, so they let him in without asking any questions.
Everything in Yunjian Pavilion was as usual, it did not resemble if there was an enemy, so he didn’t know if Gu Louyin hadn’t come or hadn’t been discovered.
The disciple who led the way turned his head frequently, as if he wanted to say something. Xiao Yuan said, “If you have anything you want to say, just say it.”
Leading the way, the disciple said, “Young Sect Master Shen, are you still looking for Young Pavilion Master… are you looking for Gu Louyin?”
Xiao Yuan raised his eyebrows and asked, “Can’t I?”
The guide disciple hurriedly said, “I didn’t mean that. It’s just that Gu Louyin has been removed from the sect book by the Pavilion Master. He is no longer our Young Pavilion Master. There is no need for Master Shen to waste time on him.”
Xiao Yuan said calmly: “I am looking for Gu Louyin, not for your young master.”
The guiding disciple blushed at his remarks and said no more. He took Xiao Yuan to the place where Shen Fugui used to stay when he came to Yunjian Pavilion and bid him farewell.
Xiao Yuan sat alone in the room. The night outside was rich and silent, as if it were just a normal night.
After a sound of footsteps approaching, there was a knock on the door. Xiao Yuan held the flute on his waist in his hand and asked, “Who is it?”
A gentle voice said, “Shen-xiong, it’s me.”
Xiao Yuan recognized this voice. Before he came, he expected that he would meet a few old friends on this trip, but he didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Xiao Yuan opened the door and smiled slightly at the visitor, “Lin-xiong.”
Lin Wulian looked a little haggard and it was difficult to conceal the depressed look on his face but he was breathing freely and walking steadily. It seemed that Lu Yueyao didn’t get much blood from him. Xiao Yuan especially wanted to ask about Lu Yueyao’s situation. He endured it for the sake of the overall perspective and said, “Lin-xiong comes to me so late. Is there anything important?”
“That’s what I wanted to ask Shen-xiong. Shen-xiong visiting Yunjian Pavilion so late at night, is there something important?” Lin Wulian’s tone held an imperceptible eagerness: “Have you found shidi? Where is he?”
Xiao Yuan said slowly: “Yunjian Pavilion can’t wait to get rid of Louyin but you, Lin-xiong, still think of him.”
Lin Wulian’s eyes got misty and he whispered softly: “No matter what he did, he is the son of my master, my… shidi.”
“If that’s the case, Lin-xiong, why didn’t you go to find him with me?”
Lin Wulian gave a wry smile, “I was going to. It’s just that Yunjian Pavilion has recently encountered several major events in succession. First, Louyin… Later, the Sword Seeker Lord disappeared and the elders of the Six Peaks were defeated by Xingtian Sect. People of Yunjian Pavilion were terrified, the situation was precarious and I really couldn’t get away.”
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “Listening to Lin-xiong’s words, it seems that as long as Lin-xiong stays in Yunjian Pavilion, everyone’s hearts will be at ease.”
Lin Wulian was surprised and said, “Why does Shen-xiong think like that? Shouldn’t the disciples stay behind to defend the shimen against foreign enemies when the shimen is in trouble?”
“They should, they should” Xiao Yuan said, “It was my slip of the tongue.”
Lin Wulian’s expression was worried, “I just hope that everything goes well for my shidi. When the situation stabilizes, I will go to look for him and take him back to Yunjian Pavilion.”
“But Pavilion Master Gu has removed him from the sect book. Can he still return to Yunjian Pavilion?”
“Master was only angry for a while. He and shidi are father and son. Blood is thicker than water. As long as shidi admits his mistake, Master will definitely…”
Before Lin Wulian finished speaking, a disciple’s voice sounded outside: “Lin Shixiong–”
There was urgency in the voice. Lin Wulian greeted the disciple and asked, “What’s the matter?”
“It’s Xingtian Sect! The people of Xingtian Sect are here!”
Lin Wulian’s expression changed; he couldn’t care less about Xiao Yuan and said, “Let’s go!”