Translator : Casualtranslator
~ Enjoy ~
When everyone heard Qiu Tong’s words to stay, they stopped in their tracks and looked towards her with a curious gaze.
Fourth master Wen immediately had a bad premonition when he heard her instructions, this station head Luo complained about Zhang Xiaohu without making head or tail of the situation, and one of his complaints was related to Zhang Xiaohua. He knew clearly who Zhang Xiaohua was and the boy’s relationship with Huanxi mountain villa, and the situation would definitely sour if Qiu Tong learns of this matter. Something that was so insignificant had eventually grown into such a problem that even he may be implicated as well.
He hurriedly said, “Lady Qiu tong, our escort station’s matters have already been discussed so it is better to let them go on with their daily tasks. Why don’t you tell me what business you came here for instead?”
After finishing his sentence, he waved his hands and signalled everyone to leave.
Qiu Tong smiled and said, “Fourth master Wen, the reason for my arrival is related to Zhang Xiaohu, and since I heard fourth master mentioned something about living expenses, I suspect that it might be related to the matter I came to discuss today. Why don’t everyone stay behind and listen in as well?”
Fourth master Wen helplessly instructed everyone to sit down again.
Qiu Tong studied her surroundings and said to station head Luo, “Is this the famous station head Luo from Lotus escort?”
Upon hearing this, station head Luo became surprised and overjoyed, he stood up and said, “This humble person is precisely him, may I know how this lady heard of my name?”
Qiu Tong laughed and said, “I know, of course I would know your name, even our villa master knows of it. You have done well, haha, very well indeed.”
Station head Luo’s face was full of smiles and he even forgot to sit down, so he stood there dazedly in happiness.
Qiu Tong turned to Zhang Xiaohu, smiled and said, “Zhang Xiaohu, we have met again.”
Zhang Xiaohu stood up, cupped his fists and greeted, “Good to meet you again, lady Qiu Tong.”
Qiu Tong replied, “Please sit down, your little brother Zhang Xiaohua told me to tell you that he is fine, and you don’t have to worry about him.”
Zhang Xiaohu said, “Thanks you lady Qiu Tong. I hope Xiaohua has not brought too much trouble to you all, and am reassured that you are with him.”
Qiu Tong nodded and turned back to fourth master Wen, she said, “Actually, the reason for my visit is not for any important matter, but to represent our villa master to pass some money over to the escort station.”
After finishing her sentence, she fished out ten silvers from her money pouch and threw it onto the table in front of fourth master Wen.
Fourth master Wen was stunned by her actions, he said, “Lady Qiu Tong, what does the villa master mean by doing this?”
Qiu Tong smiled coldly and said, “It’s nothing much, except that our mountain villa’s Zhang Xiaohua took your escort station’s carriage to come back. Didn’t you request him to pay for his living expenses, our villa master said that apart from that, we have to pay for the travelling fees too. Fourth master Wen, can you ask your station head Luo if this money is sufficient to cover for both? If it is not enough, give me a figure and I will comply straightaway.”
Fourth master Wen’s expression immediately changed when he heard these words, and station head Luo who was still standing turned even paler. With a loud plop, he fell onto his own chair.
Fourth master Wen hurriedly smiled obligingly, he said, “Lady Qiu Tong, why is there a need to differentiate Lotus escort and Huanxi mountain villa? Aren’t we a big family? This is a misunderstanding, just a misunderstanding.”
Qiu Tong said, “Our side naturally thought that we are part of the same family, but apparently, not everyone thinks so. Our villa master is now angry and almost wanted to come in person. However, I hurriedly persuaded her not to in consideration of fourth master’s face. Fourth master, you can do as your fit.”
Fourth master Wen glared at station head Luo and said, “The person who is responsible for this trouble should clean up his own mess. Station head Luo, what do you think we should do?”
Station head Luo seemed to be shocked into a daze, he stuttered, “This… about this, the bookkeeper has already said that we can exclude accommodation and travel expenses, so that is a total of nine hundred coppers only, and this much is too excessive.”
Upon hearing this, fourth master Wen scolded secretly, “Idiot!”
Qiu Tong who was at a side smiled in anger, she said, “Fourth master, these are the words of the station head from your escort station, he is truly brilliant. Alright, our mountain villa is not lacking in money so these ten silvers can be used to cover for Zhang Xiaohua’s expenses, and you can treat the excess as bonus for station head Luo. Fourth master Wen, Qiu Tong will take her leave, our villa master is still waiting for me to return with your reply.”
After finishing her sentence, she stood up and wringed her sleeves in preparation to leave.
How could fourth master Wen allow Qiu Tong to leave so easily, he hurriedly chased after her and said, “Lady Qiu Tong, please hold your steps, please hold you steps and hear me out.”
Qiu Tong and fourth master Wen walked into the courtyard, one chasing after another.
The people in the room also did not dare to sit down, they hurriedly chased the two into the courtyard.
At that moment, the guard from outside suddenly appeared while bringing a person dressed in Piaomiao sect disciple attires and when he saw fourth master Wen, he immediately shouted, “Fourth master, fourth master, this is a disciple from Piaomiao who said he came here for Zhang Xiaohu. I brought him here after hearing that he was in your room. Zhang Xiaohu, are you here?”
After hearing the guard’s words, everyone stopped in their tracks and looked at Zhang Xiaohu with a stunned expression on their faces. Zhang Xiaohu was also puzzled as he stood dazed at the same spot, what could the Piaomiao disciple be looking for him for?
Flowers on a branch bloom together, Zhang Xiaohua and He Tianshu followed Ou Yan as they walked out of the main hall but they did not go outside the courtyard. Instead, they continued to walk deeper into the inner courtyard. Zhang Xiaohua was completely unaware and only knew to follow his elder sister Ou, but He Tianshu was feeling nervous because how could such a place be somewhere he was permitted to enter so easily? He wondered what medicine was villa master Ou selling in her gourd.
The three people walked past several courtyards until they reached a corner door. The corner door was shut with a wooden door so Ou Yan walked to its front, pushed it open, and walked through it while Zhang Xiaohua and He Tianshu followed closely behind.
He Tianshu’s eyes turned bright, there was a garden which was full of life behind this corner door and on the other side stood two young disciples standing upright and in neat attire. However, the attire these disciples wore were from Piaomiao sect, which was why He Tianshu could not help but feel surprised and his heart began to turn in turmoil.
Indeed, when the two Piaomiao disciples saw Ou Yan pushed open the door, they immediately greeted her politely, “Greetings to villa master.”
Ou Yan smiled as she raised her hand and said, “You have worked hard, can I trouble you to bring me to the discussion hall?”
The young disciple closer to her hurriedly walked over to her front and replied, “May villa master please follow me, this disciple shall take you there.”
After finishing his sentence, he walked ahead and led Ou Yan and the other two people towards the discussion hall.
He Tianshu’s heart felt like there were like wings flying around inside it. When he returned to Piaomiao sect every time, he would exit from the side door of Huanxi mountain villa and then head towards the main entrance at Piaomiao mountain villa so he thought villa master Ou would do the same. Hence, he never expected that there would be a shorter and direct route. However, after thinking about it carefully, the existence of the route was quite normal since Piaomiao mountain villa and Huanxi mountain villa were in close proximity of each other, so why would there not be a closer link between them? It would be strange if there wasn’t any. Since Ou Yan no longer treated him as an outsider that day, He Tianshu guessed that it must be due to the contributions he made during the attack in the south, and it was a surprise to him that being “promoted” to the herb fields in Huanxi mountain villa could allow him to reach a day when he could enjoy such benefits.
However, when he thought of the attack in the south, the person who laid the largest contribution was Zhang Xiaohua and his very own contribution was like a firefly to a moon compared to the former. He was still basking in Zhang Xiaohua’s glory, since he was the teacher who taught Zhang Xiaohua all the fist martial arts he knew since he entered Huanxi mountain villa. Thus, He Tianshu thought that it was perhaps a case of loving the crows that come on the roof of the house you buy, and he conveniently forgot that elder Yu was the person who taught Zhang Xiaohua the sword martial art used to kill the black clothed elder.
When he thought of fist martial arts, He Tianshu’s heart stirred again. He suddenly realized that the reason for their arrival in the Piaomiao sect. Zhang Xiaohua had always hoped to learn some inner energy cultivation method, so when Ou Yan brought him and the former over to Piaomiao sect, then naturally it was to ask sect master Ou to allow him to impart his inner energy cultivation methods to Zhang Xiaohua.
He Tianshu became excited at the thought, if Zhang Xiaohua could bring him so much benefits just by learning the mismatched and incomplete martial arts from him, then what ridiculously fortunate benefits could he bring once he imparted an inner energy cultivation method to him?
However, Zhang Xiaohua already took so much effort and gave him so much trouble just to learn a simple fist martial art, so to teach him an inner energy cultivation method might be an even greater obstacle for him to overcome! When he thought back to Zhang Xiaohua’s exceptionally poor aptitude, He Tianshu’s head felt as though it was split into two.
Just as He Tianshu was lost in his thoughts, the young disciple had already brought them to the front of the discussion hall.
The disciple whispered to Ou Yan, “Villa master, the discussion hall is right in front, this disciple shall take his leave first.”
Ou Yan smiled and said, “Thanks for your trouble.”
After the disciple left, she turned to He Tianshu and Zhang Xiaohua and said, “The two of you follow me inside.”
After finishing her sentence, she brought them into the discussion hall.
Even though He Tianshu was a Piaomiao sect disciple, his status was too low and he has only heard but not seen the discussion hall, much less entered it. Even during the interrogation of the assault in the rainy night, he was questioned within the disciplinary hall. However, he knew that this place was the location where the core policies of the sect was discussed, so he already steadied his emotions and followed Ou Yan respectfully from behind without daring to make a misstep.
Even though Zhang Xiaohua had not experienced much of the world, he had read many books and expanded his knowledge by much over the past half year. Although he turned his head around frequently the moment he entered the hall, its stifling and formal atmosphere made him realized something, and when he saw He Tianshu from in front becoming rigid and careful, he immediately retracted his curious gaze and acted more formally.
The topic of discussion in the discussion hall on that day was obviously not high profile so there were many people inside. Apart from the two rows of chairs where the various elders and hallmasters were seated at, there were many disciples standing behind the chairs whispering in discussion among themselves. When they saw the three new arrivals who entered without announcing themselves, they immediately became silent and turned their gaze over to the three people.
Some of their doubts cleared away when they saw Ou Yan’s familiar figure, but they became confused again when their gaze travelled behind her, who were those two people? Some people even sounded “ah” in obvious puzzlement.
When pharmacy hall Hallmaster Bai saw He Tianshu walked behind Ou Yan into the discussion hall, he became very puzzled and a soft gasp “ah” escaped his mouth. He thought secretly, “Why has this little rascal come over to the discussion hall? Why would villa master Ou bring him in here? Could it be to demonstrate her intention to groom him in the future? Why have I not received any news?” A string of questions appeared like dense fog around his brain.
Another “ah” gasp came out but it was for Zhang Xiaohua, and the person was precisely Wen Wenhai who saved him during the incident in Lu town.
As Ou Peng’s personal disciple, Wen Wenhai would stand with Xue Qing in front of the sect master facing everyone else in the discussion hall. He became puzzled when he saw Zhang Xiaohua, the youth looked very familiar as though they had met somewhere before and the time when he let out his gasp was when he connected the incident that happened a year ago. Zhang Xiaohua was in his growing phase so there were several differences between himself then and a year ago. Furthermore, when Wen Wenhai first met him, Zhang Xiaohua’s face was bruised and swollen like a large pig head. Hence, it was fortunate that Wen Wenhai had some talents to become the personal disciple of the sect master and thus recognized Zhang Xiaohua.
However, he was unable to confirm his conjecture so he tugged on Xue Qing who was beside him and whispered a few words. Xue Qing’s calm and collected expression turned into one that was very confused as she studied Zhang Xiaohua, stared for some while before shaking her head. Xue Qing was wearing her veil at that time and could not see others clearly just like how they were not able to see her appearance. Furthermore, with her cold countenance, why would she pay special attention to a completely unrelated child? Hence, she naturally did not recognize Zhang Xiaohua.
Seeing that Xue Qing was uncertain as well, We Wenhai no longer spoke out.
When Ou Peng saw Ou Yan brought the people in, a smile appeared across his face. He pointed to a chair on his side and said, “Yan’er, come and sit over here.”
Ou Yan increased her pace and walked over upon hearing this.
After Ou Yan left, He Tianshu did not dare to follow her so he stopped in his tracks immediately.
Zhang Xiaohua who was walking behind remained oblivious to the change in the situation, he continued to follow Ou Yan as she did not instruct him to do otherwise but He Tianshu suddenly stopped. What happened as a result was that Zhang Xiaohua was unable to react in time and he bumped onto He Tianshu and his hands pushed He Tianshu’s back instinctively.
Even though it was a simple push, Zhang Xiaohua’s hands could bring up a thousand jin worth of force so it should not be underestimated. He Tianshu was unable to defend himself and immediately fell forward, but fortunately for him, his martial arts skill was good enough so he immediately regained his balance and only stumbled a few steps to the front. Zhang Xiaohua’s low voice followed from behind, “Squad leader He, why did you stop so suddenly?”
At that moment, He Tianshu had a strong desire to turn around and squeeze Zhang Xiaohua’s neck while explaining to him but this place was the discussion hall, so how would he dare to say half a word? He clenched his teeth and took two steps back until he stood right beside Zhang Xiaohua.
Everything happened as fast as the time took to create a spark from a flint and after the audience realized what happened and let out small sounds of laughter, He Tianshu was already standing beside Zhang Xiaohua.
Taking the opportunity that the laughter had yet to subside, He Tianshu used his right hand to squeeze Zhang Xiaohua’s wrist, he whispered, “Don’t talk, stand here quietly.”
Zhang Xiaohua naturally felt unhappy when he heard the teasing laughter from the audience, what was the matter with them, wasn’t it just some carelessness? Even though He Tianshu’s face had some blush on it, he knew that the people in the discussion hall were all high positioned people in the sect whom he could not afford to offend so he naturally did not say a word of complaint.
Ou Peng could not contain his laughter when he saw the situation unfold, it had been a long time since something this interesting happened in the discussion hall. The only person who was unaware of the commotion was Ou Yan whose back was faced towards the two people, and when she finally took her seat and looked at the slightly flushed He Tianshu and annoyed looking Zhang Xiaohua, she naturally became puzzled.
After the laughter subsided, Ou Peng asked, “Yan’er, this youth must be the Zhang Xiaohua whom you often mentioned.”
Ou Yan smiled and said, “That’s right, elder brother, he is the Zhang Xiaohua whom I often tell you about.”
Ou Peng smiled and said, “This Zhang Xiaohua is very interesting.”
Ou Yan asked curiously, “Is that so? Why have I not realized it yet? Elder brother’s eyes must have caught something that I missed.”
Ou Peng smiled without answering her, he turned to Zhang Xiaohua and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, come over.”
Upon hearing the three words “Zhang Xiaohua”, Xue Qing and Wen Wenhai who was at a sides flickered their eyes. Even if they were unable to recognize Zhang Xiaohua’s identity, this name still had some impression in their memory.
Zhang Xiaohua looked at He Tianshu and hesitated while the latter hurriedly nodded to signal him to go over. When Zhang Xiaohua walked over to Ou Peng’s front, Ou Peng looked at him warmly and said, “I am Ou Peng, your villa master’s elder brother and the sect master of Piaomiao sect.”
Zhang Xiaohua became overjoyed when he heard this, he said, “So you are the famous sect master of Piaomiao sect. From your looks, I thought…”
Zhang Xiaohua’s sentence stopped midway.
Ou Peng asked curiously, “You thought what about me?”
Zhang Xiaohua replied reluctantly, “You look young and handsome, but not near how I imagined you to be.”
Everyone in the discussion hall was roused up! This bootlicking was used right on the appropriate time.
Ou Peng was pleased as he said, “So what do you imagine me to look like?”
Zhang Xiaohua pondered before replying, “A height of two meters, thick eyebrows and bright eyes, an imposing manner even when you are not angry, arms like steel and wrist thicker than my legs.”
Ou Peng perspired cold sweat, this was exactly a description of Shi Niu!
He asked, “So are you very disappointed?”
Zhang Xiaohua smiled and said, “How can I be? With such an approachable appearance, it is much better than how I imagined you to be.”
Everyone almost fell down upon hearing this!
Ou Peng seldom smiled when he was in the discussion hall; he would usually display a cold and expressionless countenance which caused everyone to be cautious around him. Since Ou Yan was present on that occasion, Zhang Xiaohua could be considered to be really lucky that there was a close person beside the sect master so.
Upon hearing this, Ou Peng smiled slightly and said, “As the saying goes, one needs time to understand a person, and this first meeting may not give you an accurate portrayal of myself. It is the same in Jianghu, you must not be deceived by first appearances and have to observe a person more carefully. A person’s true self is naturally complex and intricate, if not, why would there be such a saying that a person’s heart is unfathomable?”
Zhang Xiaohua’s expression turned strict upon hearing this, he replied respectfully, “Many thanks for sect master’s advice, I will definitely keep them in my heart.”
Ou Peng nodded and said, “Zhang Xiaohua, there is a reason why I called you over today. You saved my younger sister’s life in the south so I will definitely remember this favour. I initially thought that you did not manage to survive so I prepared a generous amount of condolence money for your family, but since you have returned alive and well and have rejected the money, I naturally have to repay you in another way as the sect master of Piaomiao sect. Yan’er looked for me a few days ago for my assistance to fulfil your wish and I agreed to her request. Therefore, as long as you say out your wish, I will definitely fulfil it if possible.”
When he heard up to here, He Tianshu’s heart lit up like it was snow under light. Since Ou Yan had brought himself personally over, he assumed that it as to gain permission to let him teach Zhang Xiaohua an inner energy cultivation method, but from the looks of things now, sect master Ou was about to give Zhang Xiaohua a very large biscuit.
Zhang Xiaohua was thrilled when he heard this, he raised his voice in excitement and asked, “Sect master Ou, is this true?”