It was not the first time Gu Louyin thanked him, but for some reason, Xiao Yuan felt that this ‘thank you’ was different from the past. Even though Gu Louyin’s breath was still as cold as ever, his ears felt slightly hot.
Xiao Yuan shifted forward imperceptibly and said with a smile: “Between you and me, we don’t need to thank each other.”
Gu Louyin’s heart thudded – between you and me.
The village Xiao Yuan mentioned was called Qingzhu (green bamboo) Village that got its name because it was full of bamboo. The villagers made the best use of the material available to them. Bamboo products could be seen everywhere in the village, and even the houses were made of bamboo.
Xiao Yuan found a farmhouse owned by a father and daughter surnamed Pan. The father was called Uncle Pan. He was over fifty years old, with gray hair and a deeply lined face; his daughter Ah Yuan was at the peak of her youth and even though she was dressed in coarse linen, she looked pretty and lovely. Xiao Yuan explained to them his intention to borrow two empty rooms to live in for a few days. He was generous and offered more money than the father and the daughter could spend in half of their life. Uncle Pan hurriedly asked his daughter to clean up two empty rooms and invited them in.
Xiao Yuan thanked him, then turned around and said, “Come in.”
The height of the bamboo door in the farmhouse was limited, so Gu Louyin had to bend slightly when coming in. The moment Uncle Pan saw him, his eyes widened, as if he had seen an immortal.
“My friend was injured a little bit,” Xiao Yuan said, “please prepare a pot of hot water and a clean cloth.”
Uncle Pan nodded, took the two to the house and went to boil water.
Xiao Yuan looked around with interest and said, “The walls are made of bamboo. Won’t they leak when it rains?”
“I don’t know.“ After Gu Louyin said that, he added: “If you want to know, I can make it rain for you.”
Xiao Yuan thought he had heard it wrong: “What?” He never expected to be able to talk to Gu Louyin about the weather. He was ready for Gu Louyin’s usual three words but what was the meaning of this redundant phrase after?
Gu Louyin said, “You want to know if the bamboo house will leak if it rains.”
“Ah, yes.” Xiao Yuan was sidetracked by Gu Louyin and a little dazed, “but I’ll just ask Uncle Pan.”
Gu Louyin: “…”
The atmosphere became inexplicably subtle, and the two did not speak again for a while, until Ah Yuan walked in with hot water and a cloth.
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “Thank you, miss, just leave it to me.”
Ah Yuan said “en” shyly, quickly glanced at Gu Louyin and left, blushing.
Xiao Yuan said, “Take off your clothes.”
Gu Louyin looked at him, “En.”
Gu Louyin’s shoulder was wounded by Gu Hang’s sword. Although it was not fatal, it was not a minor injury. Even after bleeding all the way, Gu Louyin didn’t seem to be in pain and there was nothing unusual on his cold white face. He sat at the table and slowly untied his bloody white clothes.
Xiao Yuan immersed the cloth in the boiled water, and when he turned around, he was caught off guard when he saw Gu Louyin’s naked upper body. His eyes flashed for a moment and then he teased generously: “Louyin, you are not actually human, are you?”
Xiao Yuan handed the cloth to Gu Louyin and joked: “In my opinion, you are a jade spirit that has cultivated into human form from a piece of beautiful jade on a snowy mountain.”
Gu Louyin lowered his eyes and looked at the cloth but made no movement. Xiao Yuan tilted his head slightly, “What’s the matter?”
Gu Louyin said calmly, “It’s nothing”, took the cloth and lowered his head to wipe away the blood stains around the wound.
Xiao Yuan took out a porcelain vial and placed it on the table, saying, “I brought some commonly used injury medicine with me. I’ll put it here. Remember to use it.”
Gu Louyin nodded lightly and asked, “What are your plans for the future?”
Xiao Yuan was about to answer but realized that something was wrong and said, “It depends on you. It’s your plan to take Qingyan, not mine.”
Gu Louyin said quietly, “So it is.”
“Do you still want to take it?”
“Then we must not act rashly like this time.” Xiao Yuan said, “Now that Yunjian Pavilion knows that you want Qingyan, they will definitely transfer Qingyan to another place and the security around it will increase. We must make a long-term plan.”
Xiao Yuan frowned, feeling that there was something strange about it. Gu Louyin agreed so happily, it was completely different from his intent to rush to death before. From begging for death with all his heart to not wanting to die so much, what happened to Gu Louyin? Could it be that the deep friendship shown by ‘Shen Fugui’ touched him?
Gu Louyin said while applying medicine: “There is one more thing that I am quite concerned about.”
Xiao Yuan said absent-mindedly: “What’s the matter?”
“The ancient mirror.”
Xiao Yuan almost forgot about it. After Gu Louyin said it, he remembered that the ancient mirror could absorb people’s souls. Gu Louyin was definitely reflected in it. He might have been reflected too. Maybe their souls were in Gu Hang’s hands now. This was a problem. It seemed that except for Qingyan, they needed to take something else from Yunjian Pavilion.
“Whether it’s Qingyan or the ancient mirror, we’ll talk about it when you are healed from your injuries.” Xiao Yuan stretched out, “You can rest, I’m tired too.”
The Pan family’s father and daughter had two adjacent empty rooms, so they happened to have one room for each of them.
The two of them stayed in Qingzhu Village for the time being. Xiao Yuan didn’t know how a person would react if his soul was incomplete. At present, neither he nor Gu Louyin seemed to feel anything unusual. Just in case, he was going to find Fang Baichu to take a look at them.
In the early morning before the fog dissipated, Ah Yuan got up and was about to go to the stream to fetch water, when she happened to meet Xiao Yuan who was also up early. Xiao Yuan said, “Miss Ah Yuan is going to bring water?”
Ah Yuan nodded and whispered, “Dad will cook porridge for the two immortals in the morning.”
“Since I’ll eat it, let me bring the water.”
While Ah Yuan hesitated to refuse, Xiao Yuan took the bucket and the pole and walked out of the yard.
The autumn breeze was blowing, carrying the fresh fragrance of bamboo leaves. Xiao Yuan carried the pole to the edge of the stream, washed his face with the cold stream water and when he got up, he saw the reflection of Shen Fugui’s face in the water and raised his hand to touch his face.
In the past two days, Gu Louyin always liked to look at him when he had nothing to do and he didn’t know what was so nice about this face. Shen Fugui could barely be considered a handsome young man and there was still a big gap compared to his original face – what was Gu Louyin looking at?
Xiao Yuan straightened up and said, “Since you’re here, don’t hide, come out.”
As soon as he said that, Li Yanzhi walked out of the bamboo forest, “Young lord.”
Xiao Yuan put the bucket into the stream and asked, “How is the situation, was anyone injured?”
Li Yanzhi said solemnly: “Two disciples suffered minor injuries and one was unable to retreat and was caught by Gu Hang. I am afraid that he is being tortured by Yunjian Pavilion.”
Xiao Yuan thought for a while and said, “Go and tell Gu Hang that Xingtian Sect is willing to exchange quality for quality. As long as he releases the man, he can choose one person from Xingtian Sect’s Suoxian Prison in exchange.”
Li Yanzhi said: “Then he will definitely choose the Sword Seeker Lord.”
“In any case, let him choose.” Xiao Yuan said lazily, “Anyway, the people in Suoxian Prison were almost tortured to death by Xiao… by my brother.”
Li Yanzhi’s expression improved a lot when he heard this. The disciple who was captured by Gu Hang was from the younger generation he personally brought up and he naturally didn’t want anything to happen to him.
“In addition, send more people to watch Yunjian Pavilion to see if they can find the new place where Qingyan is hidden. Go and find Fang Baichu for me again, I want to ask him something.”
Li Yanzhi immediately said, “This subordinate will obey the orders.”
Xiao Yuan glanced at Li Yanzhi. It was the first time that Li Yanzhi had ever called himself ‘subordinate’ in front of him. “Stand down. If there is no major event in the future, there is no need to show up again.”
Li Yanzhi hesitated and said, “Young lord, do you want to continue to stay with Gu Louyin as Shen Fugui?”
“Gu Louyin is still useful to us.”
“But Gu Hang knows that Gu Louyin wants to take Qingyan and he will definitely not use the blood ban spell anymore. Gu Louyin doesn’t know where Gu Hang will hide Qingyan next. What use does he have?”
Xiao Yuan was slightly startled but couldn’t refute it.
Li Yanzhi said again: “The Venerable Lord is still in retreat. The young venerable lord should go back to Xingtian Sect to stay there and leave other matters to his subordinates. What’s the saying, “Strategizing in the tent makes a victory a thousand miles away!”
Xiao Yuan was deep in thought.
Xiao Yuan raised his hand and motioned to Li Yanzhi to be quiet, “You wait.”
Li Yanzhi: “?”
“Let me think of a reason to continue to stay with Gu Louyin.”
Li Yanzhi: “???”
Xiao Yuan racked his brains and finally found a reason. He asked Li Yanzhi: “Can you beat Gu Louyin?”
“Uh… I can’t.”
“That’s it.” Xiao Yuan said with certainty, “Gu Louyin wants to take Qingyan. As the saying goes, an enemy of an enemy is an ally. With Gu Louyin’s cultivation base, I don’t need anything else. One day I might be in danger. If I bring you with me, maybe I can only wait to die, but if I bring Gu Louyin, the situation will be different.”
Li Yanzhi: “…” Somehow he felt offended.
Xiao Yuan tied a bucket full of water to the pole and said, “By the way, remember to tell Fang Baichu that I am Shen Fugui now so that he doesn’t give it away when he comes.”
Xiao Yuan returned to the farmhouse carrying the pole, saw a figure dressed in plain white standing at the door and casually said, “You are awake.”
Xiao Yuan put down the pole. Only then did he notice that Gu Louyin’s complexion was extremely pale, even worse than in the beginning when he was injured. Xiao Yuan’s first reaction was that there was poison in Gu Louyin’s wound and the poison had flared up. He couldn’t help feeling stunned and asked, “What’s the matter with you?”
Gu Louyin’s brows twitched slightly, “I thought you were gone.”
Xiao Yuan was taken aback for a moment and said, “I didn’t leave, I just went to the stream to pick up water.”
Gu Louyin nodded, “I misunderstood.”
Xiao Yuan didn’t expect that Gu Louyin would be scared like this if he disappeared for a short while. He smiled and asked, “So you thought I was gone and were just standing here and waiting without looking for me?”
Gu Louyin just said, “If you wanted to leave and I forced you to stay, you wouldn’t be happy.”
That was right, but why did it sound so weird?
Gu Louyin looked at him for a moment and said, “It’s good that you haven’t left, let’s go in.”
Gu Louyin’s appearance was too eye-catching, so Xiao Yuan asked him to stay inside and not go out if everything was all right. Gu Louyin was originally happy to avoid the world; thus after staying alone for so long in the deserted snow-capped mountain, it was nothing to him. As for Xiao Yuan, he went for a walk around the village if he had nothing to do. Occasionally, he chatted with the village women by the stream or went to the bamboo forest with Uncle Pan to cut bamboo and learned from Ah Yuan how to fold small cockerels from bamboo leaves.
On the third day in Qingzhu Village, after dinner, Xiao Yuan suddenly said, “Louyin, are you bored? Would you like to go out for a walk?”
Gu Louyin said, “Not bored. I would.”
Xiao Yuan smiled and said, “Then I will take you to the bamboo forest for a walk. The scenery there is not bad.”
Xiao Yuan took Gu Louyin to the bamboo forest. The evergreen bamboos were planted there, and were as green as good jadeite even in the autumn. Xiao Yuan took a bamboo leaf and said, “Louyin, do you want a cockerel? I’ll fold one for you.”
Maybe the lighting was not good or Xiao Yuan saw it wrong but Gu Louyin seemed to smile imperceptibly, “Okay.”
Xiao Yuan was halfway through folding when Gu Louyin suddenly said, “Someone is here.”
“Is there? Is there?” Xiao Yuan made a show of being very earnest, “Who is it?”
Gu Louyin didn’t feel that there was any murderous intent on the person coming and said, “It might be a villager.”
After a rustle of bamboo leaves, someone appeared in front of the two of them. Gu Louyin: “…”
Fang Baichu pretended not to know Xiao Yuan according to Xiao Yuan’s prior orders and made a shocked expression at Gu Louyin: “Oh, it’s Master Gu! What a coincidence, are you passing by too?”
Gu Louyin looked at Xiao Yuan with a subtle expression. Xiao Yuan said curiously: “Who is this guy, do you know him?”
Gu Louyin: “…Fang Baichu.”
“It turned out to be Master Fang!” Xiao Yuan stepped forward and said, “Shen Fugui from Xuanle Sect, I have heard so much about you.”
The corners of Fang Baichu’s mouth twitched; he held back a smile and continued to act together with Xiao Yuan, “I have heard the famous name of Master Shen for a long time too, and seeing him today, he really is extraordinary, worthy of being the young master of one of the three major sects. This Fang feels inferior.”
Xiao Yuan behaved very modestly, “I dare not, dare not. I have long heard that Master Fang is benevolent in helping the world and has a pair of wonderful hands that can bring people back to life. It happened that our Louyin was injured a little bit, so I wonder if Master Fang can take a look at him.”
Fang Baichu happily agreed: “Of course, of course. This humble healer formed a friendship that goes beyond one’s age with Master Gu in the Luling snowy mountains. If Master Gu is injured, this Fang will naturally try to help.”
Xiao Yuan said, “Louyin, what do you think?”
Gu Louyin looked at the half-folded bamboo leaves in Xiao Yuan’s hand, “As long as you are happy.”
Fang Baichu followed the two of them back to the farmhouse to take care of Gu Louyin’s injury.
“The sword wound on Master Gu’s shoulder is rather serious. Fortunately, there is no poison in the wound. As long as you recuperate for a few days, the wound will heal naturally.” Fang Baichu said, “It’s just this illness of losing one’s soul… the two of you are indeed missing a spiritual soul and a physical soul. Three spiritual and six physical souls, to live, one cannot be without either. The reason why you don’t feel it is because you are missing the earth soul that is always outside the body. If it is missing for a short period of time, it will not affect you much, but in the long run, it will lead to symptoms such as being absent-minded and memory loss and the other souls will also be affected, and you may eventually fall into a state of nothingness due to your soul’s instability.”
Xiao Yuan sighed softly, thinking that the ancient mirror should have been destroyed in Luling City back then. Who knows what Gu Hang would do with such a dark thing in his hands besides guarding Qingyan.
Gu Louyin said, “We must get the souls back.”
“I know. The key is what Gu Hang will do with our souls.” Xiao Yuan turned the flute carelessly and asked, “Master Fang, how much time do we have?”
Fang Baichu said: “The separation of the earth soul from the body cannot exceed one month at most.”
Xiao Yuan breathed a sigh of relief, “There is still time. Let’s go to sleep first and then think about what to do tomorrow.”
After the battle in the secret passage, Gu Hang was even more cautious than before. The disciples of Xingtian Sect that went to Yunjian Pavilion to spy on him did not find anything useful. Xiao Yuan was afraid he would have to go in again personally.
Fang Baichu found another house to live in. Early the next morning, as soon as the cock cried, he got up from the bed and rushed to Uncle Pan’s house. He stayed up all night last night, thinking hard, meditating and thinking again, and finally thought of a way to stabilize the souls. He couldn’t wait until dawn. He wanted to quickly tell Xiao Yuan about this method so that he could buy them more time.
Fang Baichu was walking on the field path, when a familiar figure suddenly appeared in front of him. After confirming that he didn’t see it wrong, he sped up his steps to catch up and shouted, “Master Mu–!”
Mu Yingyang returned to Xingtian Sect two days ago but found that Xiao Yuan was not there. He learned from Li Yanzhi’s subordinates about the place where Xiao Yuan was, so he spent a day and night traveling over and arrived at the village early this morning.
Hearing someone calling him, Mu Yingyang stopped. He ooked at the approaching man and said, “It’s you – where is my shixiong?”
Fang Baichu said, “Oh, your shixiong and Gu Louyin are probably still sleeping. I am also going to find them, let’s go together.”