Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
The senior brother Chang said, “Are people from Huanxi mountain villa the same as our Piaomiao sect members? Who told you these, He Tianshu?”
After being rebutted again and again, this point truly struck the nail on its forehead and He Tianshu had no answer to the other party’s retort.
Another slightly younger man continued, “Senior brother He, you don’t have to waste your energy, our Piaomiao sect is strict on its rules and people like use must follow them inflexibly. This junior brother is not trying to boast but among the younger generation, our aptitudes are considered better than average and would not be worse than your Zhang Xiaohua. If I have read the books in the pharmacy since young and still could not find a solution, what makes the senior brother think that he can bring a miracle to us?”
The senior brother Chang also said, “The fault of these seeds not sprouting cannot be placed entirely on you, at the most, you can continue to stay in Huanxi mountain villa for another year.”
After he finished his sentence, he laughed softly.
He Tianshu’s face turned purple from the words by the two men.
Zhang Xiaohua stood by He Tianshu and carefully pulled the corner of his shirt, he said softly, “You don’t have to help me borrow any more books, squad leader He. The villa master had given me another bunch of them.”
When hallmaster Bai heard his words, a gleam appeared in the corner of his eyes but it disappeared as soon as it came. After all, there were many youths who were more outstanding than Zhang Xiaohua in the Piaomiao sect’s pharmacy hall, and everyone one of them was nurtured carefully since a tender age so when it came to theoretical knowledge, they were at least a hundred times better than Zhang Xiaohua. Even though he was surprised by the attitude Ou Yan had towards the boy, it was nothing major enough for him to place any attention to.
Hallmaster Bai motioned his hands and said, “You all better not argue, He Tianshu has good intentions but he was too urgent in his methods. The rules within Piaomiao sect still has to be followed, and it is not appropriate to bring the books outside of the sect. Alright, let’s go take a look at the herbs.”
After finishing his sentence, he took the lead and went over to the field that appeared empty.
Elder He followed closely behind as though he did not hear a single word of their argument.
Senior brother Chang and that other junior disciple looked pleased at themselves as they met He Tianshu’s gaze before walking ahead to follow the two elders without sparing a single glance at Zhang Xiaohua.
He Tianshu patted Zhang Xiaohua apologetically before hurrying to follow the party.
Zhang Xiaohua did not mind them too much, he had seen his fair share of these types of gazes and had already gotten used to them. He had his own road to walk, so why bother about the looks from other people?
Following which, Zhang Xiaohua continued to work at the left area nearby while looking from afar at the group of people who seemed to be arguing quite heatedly although neither party seemed to be able to convince the other. When night finally came, the party dispersed away.
During dinner time, when Zhang Xiaohua saw He Tianshu, the latter’s expression was dark and fallen.
Zhang Xiaohua sighed as he thought, bootlicking was an important skill in life.
The following days went by as usual, and nothing out of the ordinary happened during then.
On that particular night, Zhang Xiaohua was reading his collection of books as usual when He Tianshu walked in looking completely haggard and fatigued, he said, “Zhang Xiaohua, hurry and pack, you will go out with me for a trip tomorrow.”
Zhang Xiaohua was not surprised, he said, “Alright, squad leader He, why the hurry though?”
He Tianshu smiled bitterly and said, “I just got the news as well, how could I inform you earlier?”
After finishing his sentence, he walked away but after a few steps, he suddenly stopped and asked in a curious tone, “Aren’t you curious on where we are going? It seems as if you knew we were going to leave.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “When I went over to borrow more books from the villa master, she had already given me a heads up in advance so I assumed that we would be leaving earlier. Who knew that it dragged for so long, and I even thought that the trip was cancelled.”
He Tianshu smiled as he said, “So it’s like this. However, like you said, this trip will not be easy. I heard that our boss is not very agreeable but he could not overturn the villa master’s decision and finally relented.”
Zhang Xiaohua wrinkled his brows, “Boss? Who is he?”
He Tianshu said, “That is out Piaomiao sect’s sect master, haha, who is also our villa master’s elder brother.”
Zhang Xiaohua became enlightened, no wonder Huanxi mountain villa had such a close connection to Piaomiao sect, blood was thicker than water so it was natural for them to be so.
Upon seeing Zhang Xiaohua’s response, He Tianshu said again, “There is much danger and bloodshed in Jianghu, and the sect master is quite protective of his younger sister so he dislikes letting her leave too far. He initially wanted our pharmacy hall’s hallmaster Bai to go but the latter had some bad blood with the person we are visiting so not just the hallmaster, but any of the men he suggested, were all unsuitable to go. Furthermore, the herbs are being grown in Huanxi mountain villa, so the villa master feels that she had not fulfilled her duty and insisted in leaving herself. In addition, I still have something to tell you.”
After saying up to here, He Tianshu had a mysterious expression on his face.
Zhang Xiaohua was stunned, he asked, “It can’t be some secret right, squad leader He? If so, then do not say it, I still want to protect this little life of mine.”
He Tianshu scolded smilingly, “Do I look like I have news that would deliver death to you? I would like to know some as well, but I don’t have the channels or resources too.”
With a yearning expression on his face, He Tianshu said, “The villa master is a very learned person, her knowledge in all topics is very profound. Just on the subject of herbs, she is in no way inferior to our hallmaster Bai, which is one of the reasons why she is going to the south.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not know whether to laugh or cry, he said, “What kind of secret is this, I already knew it.”
He Tianshu was in disbelief as he asked, “How would you know about this? The number of people in the mountain villa who knows this is very few.”
Zhang Xiaohua picked up the book he was reading from the bed and passed it over to He Tianshu saying, “Look at this and you will understand.”
He Tianshu flipped open the books and could not help but feel dazed, he shook his head as he read while his mouth mumbled, “Awesome, unbelievable, outstanding.”
After that, he said to Zhang Xiaohua, “Brother Xiaohua, aren’t we good brothers?”
Upon seeing He Tianshu’s cajole, Zhang Xiaohua felt like ants were crawling over his body, an unsettling feeling crept up from his heart. He tested the other party, “Squad leader He, you are my teacher, how would I dare to call you my brother? Do you have something going on?”
He Tianshu smiled and said, “Let’s not talk about what master whatnot, you are my little brother today so if there is any matter, just say it to me and big brother will definitely help you. Haha.”
Zhang Xiaohua was even more certain of his suspicion, He Tianshu was like a yellow tailed fox bowing to a chicken, he asked carefully, “In that case, what matter does elder brother He have?”
He Tianshu said sheepishly, “About this, little brother, can you lend those books to me?”
After finishing his sentence, he pointed to the dump of books placed on the table.
Zhang Xiaohua grew enlightened and his eyes rolled, he said, “There should be no problem, but it is best if you get the villa master’s permission first.”
He Tianshu looked slightly disappointed, but Zhang Xiaohua continued, “Aren’t we going to the south together? When I carry these books along with me, we will definitely be together so you can just read from a side. When there is a chance during the trip, I will ask the villa master, and I am sure that she will agree to let an earnest student learn what he wants to.”
He Tianshu felt overjoyed when he heard Zhang Xiaohua’s reply, he reluctantly returned the book in his hand back to Zhang Xiaohua.
Upon seeing his response, Zhang Xiaohua could not help but feel slightly sad, so he casually took a piece of blank paper from the table and used his left hand to hold a brush and write some large characters. When He Tianshu saw it, he could not help but praised, “Not bad, this is what the scholars of our generation should do.”
From the light of the next morning’s sun, the words could be seen clearly on the piece of paper and they read, “No comment, do not read!”
Actually, He Tianshu had read some of the books that Ou Yan lent to Zhang Xiaohua, however, what was important to him was not the books but the notes scribbled inside. Those were the methods Ou Yan used to study, and if he could pick up the studying method Ou Yan adopted while she learnt from the books, then he would naturally be able to learn better and it would be a great boost to his standing in the pharmacy hall.
However, how would Zhang Xiaohua know all these? He only felt that the He Tianshu was pitiful, as a member of the pharmacy hall in Piaomiao sect, how would he not even have access to these books and actually came over to fight with him over them.
After He Tianshu left, Zhang Xiaohua simply took out some of his belongings and the bundle which he got from the inner courtyard that day, and placed his things along with some of the books in the table in it. Since the trip would take several months, he believed that he would be able to finish reading all these books using that period of time.
When he saw the large bundle on his table as well as the small knapsack where his belongings are kept, Zhang Xiaohua could not help but smile to himself.
The night gradually grew deeper, and Zhang Xiaohua was lying on his bed still thinking of the instructions that He Tianshu gave before they were leaving, “About our departure tomorrow, you must not tell a single soul. In the early morning next day, I will call you and we will leave secretly together.”
Zhang Xiaohua did not understand his intention, were they not just going on a trip, why must it be hushed up? It was not as if they were avoiding debt collectors.
Furthermore, he did not have any close friends in the mountain villa, so who could he possibly tell?
However, Zhang Xiaohua was ignorant that in the darkness of the night, a human figure crept secretly from the inner courtyard and to the edge of a forest, looked carefully and her surroundings, then places a small slip of paper at a certain position under a large tree before leaving.
In the early morning of the next day, Zhang Xiaohua woke up and practiced a round of his fist and sword martial arts before returning to his room to wait for He Tianshu’s call. Not long after he returned, an azure robed little hat servant stealthily went to the forest where the lady placed the slip of paper during the previous night and took out the paper, read it carefully before frowning and keeping it into his breast, looked at his surroundings, and left carefully.
Soon after, He Tianshu went over to Zhang Xiaohua’s room with a knapsack on his back and when he saw Zhang Xiaohua carrying a bundle on each of his hands, he smiled and asked, “Why are you carrying so many things? What are in those?”
Zhang Xiaohua replied innocently, “Don’t you want to read the books? Haven’t I brought them out for you?”
He Tianshu did not know whether to laugh or cry, he said, “You still need not to bring that many books, how many can I possibly read?”
“But I can read them.” Zhang Xiaohua blinked as he said.
He Tianshu replied helplessly, “Alright, let’s go then.”
Even though he offered to help Zhang Xiaohua carry the larger bundle, how would Zhang Xiaohua let him do so? He Tianshu said, “If other people saw me making a small boy like you carry something so heavy, they would gossip about how inconsiderate I am. Even though we are familiar with each other, there is no need to let other people talk behind our backs.”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered and then passed the small knapsack on his right hand to He Tianshu, he said, “In that case, you can help me carry this, and no one will gossip behind our backs.”
He Tianshu helplessly received the knapsack and hurried Zhang Xiaohua to leave.
The two carried their belongings and head outdoors, followed a small path towards the forest and finally reached the entrance of another courtyard.
As they entered the courtyard, Zhang Xiaohua could see that it was very spacious and there were four carriages inside.
There were many people in the courtyard who were busy at work. However, when Zhang Xiaohua first entered the courtyard, his eyes were drawn to a hero standing in front of the first carriage.
The hero was taller than normal people by a head, and his body was large and wide, his clothes could not hide the rippling muscles underneath them as he stood silently like a metal edifice. Even though there were many people shuffling around, his figure stood out and grabbed everyone’s attention easily. Apart from Zhang Xiaohua, everyone’s gaze towards the hero was one of admiration and respect.
Zhang Xiaohua also noticed the same expression on He Tianshu so he carefully pulled the latter’s sleeves and asked, “Who is this? Your boss?”
He Tianshu shook his sleeves and said softly, “Zhang Xiaohua, do not trash talk anyhow. This person is strongest man in our Piaomiao sect, called Shi Niu, his external martial arts have reached a very deep level. I have heard that his single arm could carry several thousand jin of force, which is many times of what you can do.”
“Ah…. several thousand jin” Many stars appeared in Zhang Xiaohua’s eyes.
Even though they were quite close to the front, when he saw everyone leaving a healthy distance apart from Shi Niu, He Tianshu also did not go up to greet the latter.
At that moment, Qiu Tong carried a few things as she came out, and when she saw the bundle in Zhang Xiaohua’s hands, she said in anger and laughter, “Xiaohua-ah, we are not going on a vacation so why did you bring such a huge bundle? You can’t possibly be bringing the collection of books I gave you the previous time right? I remembered that it was very heavy, aren’t you afraid of tiring out the horse?”
Qiu Tong’s voice was not soft and it drew the attention of Shi Niu. When he saw Zhang Xiaohua carrying the large bundle and not seem fazed by its weight, he could not help but glanced more carefully for a second look.
When Zhang Xiaohua heard the reprimand, he replied sheepishly, “Elder sister said that she had left for a few months, so I wanted to take this opportunity to read all these books. I thought I could finish these during that period which is why I brought them over.”
Qiu Tong and Shi Niu were surprised when they heard his reply.
Qiu Tong knew how many books she passed him previously, and when she heard that he planned to finished them in a few months, she could not help but be shocked and thought secretly to herself, “Even if he reads a book every three days, he would not be able to finish them. But to finish a book in three days, how would he be able to understand its contents fully?”
When Shi Niu heard that the contents of the bundle were all books, he could estimate the weight of the bundle and could not help but he shocked. The child was only so young but he was able to carry such weight with just a single arm, while it could not be compared to himself during his youth, it was still not easy and the difference was not large, so whose disciple was this child?
Qiu Tong continued to say, “Alright, quickly put your books at the back of the last carriage. However, you must read those books seriously, do not just flip through the pages casually or you will be letting down the villa master.”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled as he answered, “Elder sister, please be relieved, I know my limits.”
After finishing his sentence, Zhang Xiaohua followed He Tianshu to the last carriage, and the carriage was much larger than the one Zhang Xiaohua had sat on before while there were actually things like book cabinets inside so it was probably meant to store their logistics. Zhang Xiaohua opened his bundle and took some books out to place them inside, while He Tianshu threw both his and Zhang Xiaohua’s knapsacks into the carriage before getting down immediately.
After Zhang Xiaohua had tided his belongings up a little and got off the carriage, the number of people in the courtyard decreased by a lot which probably meant that it was soon to their departure. At that moment, Zhang Xiaohua felt as though someone was looking at him, and when he turned his neck, he saw that the person was the burly Shi Niu. Zhang Xiaohua quickly flashed him a friendly smile and just as he was about to go over, a group of people entered from the entrance inside the courtyard out, and the person leading the part was Huanxi mountain villa’s villa master Ou Yan.
Behind Ou Yan was Madam Qin and her unique-looking figure, why was it unique? Because behind her were several pretty looking young ladies dressed comfortably while bearing swords at their waist, and they looked both heroic and elegant and even though Zhang Xiaohua had not reached the age to be attracted by the opposite sex, he still would enjoy stealing a few more glances at them.
Within such a group, how could that Madam Qin not stand out?
However, putting aside Madam Qin’s appearance, the bevy of ladies following behind maintained a respectful distance between the two women, and their expressions were solemn and straight.
Ou Yan walked up to Shi Niu’s front, smiled and said, “Shi Niu, you have come early.”
Shi Niu replied in a simply, “Morning villa master, I did not come too early, just an hour ago.”
Ou Yan continued, “Then I will have to bother you for the rest of the journey.”
Shi Niu replied, “That is of course. The sect master has instructed for your safety or I will not be allowed to drink wine when I return.”
Ou Yan smiled and looked at her surroundings before asking Qiu Tong who walked over, “Has everything been prepared?”
Qiu Tong replied softly, “Yes, young mistress, everything is prepared.”
Ou Yan nodded in satisfaction and said, “Then we shall set off now, the journey is long so we should leave earlier.”
After finishing her sentence, she got up into the first carriage with Qiu Tong’s assistance.
Following which, Madam Qin and Qiu Tong both boarded the same carriage, while the rest of the ladies sat in the second carriage, and the rest of the party occupied the last two carriages.
When everyone had boarded their respective carriages, Shi Niu got up the driver’s seat of the first carriage, picked up the whip, and called out to the horse to signal it to move while the rest of the drivers followed his lead.
Just like that, Zhang Xiaohua’s journey to the south began.
Not long after Ou Yan and the procession of carriages left, a few azure robed little hats servants applied for their leave and left Huanxi mountain villa together. When they reached Pingyang city, they all separated to their respective destinations, and among one of them went to a grocery shop. It was precisely the same man who took the slip of paper from the forest in the morning, and not long after, he exited the shop with some items he bought and disappeared into the crowd.
Hence, the news of Ou Yan leaving Huanxi mountain villa was spread secretly like that, but who could guess what the reason for their investigation was?
However, all these had nothing to do with Zhang Xiaohua.
Zhang Xiaohua sat on the carriage as he looked out at the scenery curiously.
Even though Lu town was south of Pingyang city, it was closer to the west whereas Ou Yan’s destination was more towards the east. Thus, after leaving the mountain villa, the carriage did not head towards Pingyang city but went through the small roads and onto the highway that led to the east.
It was already late autumn by then and the surroundings was being affected by the chill of the weather. The crops in the fields were already harvested and many empty fields could be seen from afar, the outskirts of Pingyang city was not much different from Lu town. There were many villages in the mountains, and along the mountainous path were wild trees and plants although an occasional hut, or a herd of goats could be spotted once in a while. When looking at the familiar scenery, Zhang Xiaohua’s mind naturally floated back to his own hometown, and he thought back of his parents.
It had almost been a year, were they who were far away still doing well?