Ch.61: Lost Red Pearl; Inadvertent Eyes Red with Desire 2
Xie Lian pulled at his earlobes, “One of the earrings is gone.”
The people of Xianle believed that the pinnacle of cultivation was the harmony of ‘yin
and yang’, the unity of male and female. The form of the gods were ever-changing, and
naturally unbound by gender restrictions, shifting to men or women as they will. Thus,
this belief was woven into the design of the God-Pleasing costume. Throughout history,
every God-Pleasing Martial Warrior had donned adornments and accessories that
possessed the form and details of both sexes, such as earrings, bracelets, etc. When
Xie Lian was preparing for the role, he pierced his ears and put on a pair of earrings.
It was a pair of brilliantly deep red coral pearls, lustrous and smooth, radiant and
opulent, rare and sublime. However, when Xie Lian was minding his hair just then, only
one of the pair of red coral pearls was left.
The moment he said it was lost, Mu Qing’s relaxed expression froze again, but the other
two did not notice at all. Feng Xin looked all over the chamber first, inside and out, but
returned empty handed. “You’re so scatterbrained, even something worn on your ears
can be lost. I didn’t find it in the Pavilion of Xianle, so I’ll go out and look on the roads.
Pray to the heavens you didn’t lose it during the parade.”
Xie Lian was puzzled too, but didn’t care for it much, “Maybe. If that’s the case then
there’d be no way you’d find it. If it’s lost, it’s lost.”
Mu Qing on the other hand, brought out the broom he usually used to sweep and said
quietly, “That pearl is too precious; we should at least try and look. Maybe it rolled under
the bed or a shelf.” He then started sweeping, and Xie Lian responded, “Then why don’t
we call for a few more hands to help?”
“Crowds get handsy. We don’t want people sneaking it in their pockets before we found
anything.” Feng Xin said offhandedly.
Mu Qing was quietly checking under the bed, but when he heard Feng Xin’s words, he
halted, rose to his feet in a fit, and CRACK, the broom in his hands broke into two. Xie
Lian was startled.
Ever since they left the Great Martial Hall, Feng Xin was filled with complaints about Mu
Qing, but the words never left his lips. Now that he saw Mu Qing blew up first, he got
angry too, “What are you doing, breaking things so suddenly? Who pissed you off
Mu Qing replied coldly, “Why don’t you tell me straight what it is you want to say, instead
of casting shadows where there are none? I have nothing to do with the lost pearl.”
Feng Xin had always been a straightforward individual, and this was the first time
hearing someone accuse him of ‘casting shadows where there are none’, and puffed a
laugh from anger, “Why don’t you tell that to yourself! What did I say? I didn’t say you
stole it, but you got all flustered. What, feeling guilty?”
Xie Lian broke out of his shock and sat up on the bed, feeling dread, “Feng Xin, that’s
A few veins popped instantly on Mu Qing’s forehead. Feng Xin really didn’t think much
of it, and asked in confusion, “What?”
It really wasn’t the right time for Xie Lian to explain, so he could only try and pacify Mu
Qing, “Don’t misunderstand, Feng Xin’s comments were offhanded, he wasn’t directing
them at you.”
Mu Qing’s clenched his fists tight then loosened, but at last did not continue to blow up.
However his eyes were growing red, and he turned to Xie Lian, enunciating each word
as he stared at him, “You… don’t keep your promises.”
“No! You’re wrong!” Xie Lian cried.
Mu Qing closed his mouth and inhaled a few times, threw a furious stink eye at Feng
Xin, then without another word, ran out the door. Xie Lian jumped off the bed and was
about to give chase, but was stopped in midstep.
“Your Highness, you haven’t even put on shoes! It’d be a disgrace going out with your
hair down and in a mess!”
“Help me stop him!” Xie Lian ordered.
“At least put on your shoes first and tie up your hair.” Feng Xin said, “And leave him be.
He’s always weird like this, who knows what nerve we touched now, going mental out of
Mu Qing was long gone by then and Xie Lian saw he wouldn’t be able to catch up, so
instead he grabbed for a hair tie to fasten his hair in a rush, “He wasn’t going mental,
you just accidentally said the wrong thing.”
Feng Xin brought out Xie Lian’s usual white training garb from the closet and threw it at
him, “What did I say wrong?”
Xie Lian replied as he slipped on his boots, “I can’t tell you. Anyway come with me to go
find him, and tell him it was all a misunderstanding, and that you weren’t accusing him
Feng Xin frowned, “What is there you can’t tell me?”
Xie Lian’s lips were sealed tight. Feng Xin was becoming more suspicious, and thought
back on Mu Qing’s furious expression, and spoke up suddenly, “He didn’t actually steal
from you before, did he?”
Xie Lian immediately waved vigorously, “No! No!”
Seeing him like this, Feng Xin was even more sure. “So that’s it! No wonder his temper
flared, it’s because he was guilty! So when did he steal?”
“Not so loud!” Xie Lian hushed anxiously.
Feng Xin lowered his voice, “Something like this happened and you didn’t tell me?! Tell
Xie Lian saw that Feng Xin was already suspicious, if he continued to lie then it’d be
found out either way, so he had to relent woefully, “It doesn’t really count as stealing,
but… sigh, I’ll start from the beginning. You remember, right? Two years ago when I first
entered the Royal Holy Pavilion, there was once I lost a leaf of gold foil?”
Hearing this, Feng Xin’s eyes widened and he slapped his thigh, “THAT TIME?!”
Three years ago, Xie Lian begged and pleaded in all manners of ways until finally his
parents relented and permitted him to enter the Royal Holy Pavilion for training before
the age of twenty. A year later the Pavilion of Xianle completed construction. Xie Lian
could at last move in and he did so in great excitement.
When Xie Lian first moved in, he really didn’t bring a lot with him. Only two carriages full
of books, and two hundred treasured swords. But the queen loved her son dearly and
was afraid the training life would be too quiet and boring, so later she ordered for twenty
servants and four large carriages full of trinkets that the Crown Prince loved to be sent
to Mount Taicang, the mounting caravans impressive and dramatic. Included in this was
a set of the one hundred and eight leaves that make up the Golden Foil Palace.
Building a palace out of golden foils was a popular game enjoyed by the Xianle nobility.
At the time, to have so much luxury enter the mountain caused a small wave of
complaints. The Royal Holy Pavilion comprised of serious cultivators who weren’t quite
familiar with the prince’s character just yet, and although they couldn’t say much
publicly, behind his back there was much chatter: did His Highness the Crown Prince
come to train, or did he come play? What can this son of the royal family cultivate if he
only came for fun?
When Feng Xin heard those grievances, he had the mind to dispute them but Xie Lian
told him not to worry about it and smiled, “It’s only natural they should think that way.
They’ll know after a while that I’m not here to play games, and also, who’s the number
one in this generation of trainees.”
However, not long after, something happened.
Xie Lian was trying to send away as much of the four large carriages and servants the
queen gifted him as possible, but when he counted inventory, he found that in the one
hundred and eight leaves of gold foils one was missing.
That set of gold foils were packed in the carriages, and once at Mount Taicang it had
never left the Pavilion of Xianle. If it wasn’t lost on the road, then it was stolen. Nothing
was found on the road, so Xie LIan brought it up offhandedly to the Guoshi. However,
when the Guoshi thought it might have been stolen, he became enraged at the idea that
someone within the Royal Holy Pavilion would commit this crime under the allurement
of golden foils, so he was determined to recovered the golden leaf no matter what. If it
should be found on the person of anyone, the punishment would be utmostly severe.
Thus, all three thousand and more disciples of the entire Mount Taicang stopped what
they were doing, got dragged into forming teams to search room after room, chamber
after chamber of every single training hall.
It was a huge fanfare, tiring out everyone, yet unexpectedly, halfway through the search
Xie Lian suddenly corrected himself, apologized for causing everyone trouble, and said
he suddenly remembered that he seemed to have already lost a leaf from that set of
gold foils while he was still at the royal palace. Meaning, there should only be one
hundred and seven leaves total after all.
In order to investigate the whereabouts of the missing gold foil, that night at the Holy
Royal Pavilion was complete chaos, utter pandemonium, and right when everyone was
sweating with exhaustion, to have His Highness the Crown Prince suddenly make such
an announcement to drop everything, it was inevitable for many to feel aggrieved. Thus,
for the longest time there were a lot of noise behind his back, saying things like, well he
was the Crown Prince so he got to call the shots, and hopefully next time his memory
would be better and remember the important things before calling for an investigation,
etc. Feng Xin was furious listening to them, but Xie Lian still told him to let it go, and let
time pass quietly.
Sure enough, after that Xie Lian was indeed able to change things around completely,
rising to unashamedly become the number one trainee of the Royal Holy Pavilion, over
all three thousand and some disciples. Because he was truly friendly and easygoing
and not at all dependent on his background, gradually his reputation improved amongst
Feng Xin wasn’t one to remember the petty details, so he had forgotten this had
happened. Now that it was brought up again, it dawned on him, and he was shocked
and angry, “IT WAS MU QING WHO WALKED AWAY WITH THAT GOLD FOIL???”
“Shh!” Xie Lian hushed him and looked around to make sure no one was around, “That
gold foil leaf fell out of the rattling carriage while coming up the mountain. Mu Qing was
passing by while carrying water, and found it in the bushes. He kept it under his bed and
hadn’t figured out what to do with it, but that very night the Guoshi suddenly struck,
ordering everyone to search rooms. I didn’t know him at the time, and only saw an
errand boy who looked distraught. Later while I was sitting outside he came up to serve
me tea and admitted everything. That’s how I found out.”
“Taking without telling is stealing!!! So you helped him bury this matter and told
everyone that gold foil was lost in the royal palace???”
Whilst they were talking Xie Lian had finished dressing, and head out the door, “That’s
how it is.”
Feng Xin was going to die from rage. He followed after Xie Lian, “Your Highness, did
you know, that when you first came to the Royal Holy Pavilion, just how much people
talked shit about you?”
“Keep it down.” Xie Lian said, “He really did look quite distraught at the time. Pale as a
ghost. People here at the Royal Holy Pavilion already dislike him, if I had said anything,
his life here would be over. Our places in life are different, and we stand on different
vantage points in this matter, so consequences can’t be compared.”
Just then, a few young trainees approached them, and courteously bowed, their faces
full of smiles greeting them, “Your Highness!”
Xie Lian smiled back, and the two parties brushed past each other. He said to Feng Xin,
“See, I told you to give it time. Now I get along with everyone, who’d dare say anything
bad about me?”
The two of them entered Mu Qing’s bedchamber but didn’t see a soul, so they exited
again to keep searching. “I already thought it strange at the time, since I’d never known
you to have lost any leaves at the palace.” Feng Xin said, “But I can’t believe you didn’t
tell me about this for two years, and even told me that you met him when he was
“Later he asked me not to tell anyone,” Xie Lian said, “Since I agreed, of course I
wouldn’t tell, not even to you. But now that you know, I’m the one who went back on my
word. But you mustn’t tell anyone else.”
“How does that even count as going back on your word?” Feng Xin said, “It’s not like
you told me anything, it’s his own guilty conscience making him freak out that gave
“No, no. You promise me right now that this stops here. Otherwise I’ll break up my
relationship with you, and you’ll be cursed to never find a wife!” Xie Lian threatened.
Feng Xin “pfft”-ed, “You, break up with me?! The day after our breakup everyone in the
Kingdom of Xianle will know one thing: His Highness the Crown Prince fainted from
overly tight suspenders while dressing himself–!! —FINE! I won’t say a word! Who gives
a shit about gossipping anyway.”
After a pause, he still decided to comment, “I bet he thinks I’m always picking on him
because he thought I knew about the gold foil business, but really, I just don’t like
people like him. A grown up man thinking too much about this and that, he must’ve
suspected you having told me a long time ago. Even concubines in a harem don’t have
thoughts and moods as twisted as his, so annoying!”
“It’s not as bad as you say.” Xie Lian said, “The Royal Holy Pavilion had never lost
anything before, meaning this was his first time, and at the end of the day it was for his
mother… uh, anyway he already assuredly promised that he would never do it again, so
giving him another chance isn’t wrong. And he kept his word. Besides, today when that
little kid fell, if Mu Qing didn’t cooperate with me, the parade wouldn’t have ended so
Feng Xin clicked his tongue, “You’re already going down in history for only three rounds
around the capital, of course he won’t do anything else to you. Your Highness, I’m
gonna say this right now, I don’t believe a word of anything he said at the Great Martial
Hall. Who here in the Royal Holy Pavilion didn’t know when the Guoshi played cards he
hears and sees no one? He had to pick that time to pass on the message, and
stubbornly refused to clarify under whose orders he was sent, as if he’s purposely trying
to screw things up.”
Xie Lian shook his head and said gravely, “Actually, in regards to this, I might have been
indelicate too. I knew Mu Qing is disliked, so originally I wanted him to run more errands
for me, let people know that he’s my personal attendant so they’d be nicer to him. I
didn’t realize they’re already nasty to that point. Not only did things mess up, he got
bullied too. If you think about it from his perspective, you’ll find he’s moody for a
Feng Xin disagreed wholeheartedly, “Why is it your fault that he’s moody? You’re the
Crown Prince; how did you end up owing anyone anything for promoting them? Your
Highness I really don’t understand why you think so highly of him.”
Xie Lian grinned, “Feng Xin, did you know, there are so many people in this world that
are nothing but rocks in my eyes.”
Feng Xin didn’t understand. Xie Lian walked with his hands behind his back, “Rocks are
everywhere, but precious jades are hard to come by. When it comes to martial arts, I’ve
only ever seen two people who could be called jades. One is you. The other, is him.”
He suddenly stopped in his step, turned his head around, his eyes shining brightly, “I
truly think that Mu Qing is extremely gifted. Such a precious jade, how can it be sat to
let dust collect and hide its beauty just because of backgrounds and temper?”
Xie Lian looked determined, “No! I think that’s wrong. You ask why I think so highly of
him? It’s the same reason as why I think so highly of you. Ones that are destined to
shine, I must let them shine. Besides, I don’t believe that good will brings bad returns.”
Feng Xin stopped too. After listening to Xie Lian’s speech, he scratched his head, “As
long as you know what you want. How you do it is your business.”
“Yea. So. Where did Mu Qing run off to?” Xie Lian said.
Just then, another couple of young trainees approached them, a basket in their hands,
playing around. When they saw Xie Lian, they called out to him in unison, their voices
happy, “Your Highness!”
Xie Lian responded with a smile too. The trainees came up to them and thrusted the
basket before the two, saying happily, “Will Your Highness have some cherries? They’ve
been washed in the springs already, very clean, and very sweet!”
The basket was full of vivid red little round cherries, looking rather precious. Xie Lian
and Feng Xin picked out a few to eat, and they were indeed juicy and sweet. One of the
young trainees asked, “When we walked over we heard Your Highness asking about Mu
Qing. Were you looking for him? I think we saw him when we passed through the cherry
“Is that right? Thanks for letting me know.” Xie Lian said.
Thus, the two walked hastily towards the cherry woods. Atop Mount Taicang, other than
the abundant wild maples, there were also many fruit trees; peaches, pears, oranges,
and among the many fruit trees were also cherry trees. The fruit trees were nourished
by springs, bathed in the mountainous mist and sunny dews, bearing fruits filled with
spiritual aura. Other than offering them as tribute to the palace, the rest were only
reserved for the disciples in the pavilion who can munch after a day’s hard work.
Outside the Royal Holy Pavilion, even a hundred gold pieces would be hard to buy just
The cherry trees stood row after row, and within the fresh new leaves hung beads after
beads of red pearl-like cherries, looking delightfully enticing. Xie Lian and Feng Xin
walked for a while looking for Mu Qing in the woods, but soon after, they heard
quarreling voices coming from just ahead of where they were, and they unconsciously
slowed to a stop.
Ch.62: Lost Red Pearl; Inadvertent Eyes Red with Desire 3
Ahead of them stood four to five white robed trainees, each with a basket in hand,
appearing to have come to pick fruits. However they weren’t encircling any fruit trees,
but rather some person. Even from afar, with their power of hearing, they could still
clearly hear the the particulars of the quarrel. One of the young men said, “No wonder
there seemed to be less fruits in the woods lately, so it was someone who’s been
squatting around stealing.”
A soft voice replied, “The fruits grown on Mount Taicang can be picked by anyone who’s
a disciple at the pavilion, so how is it stealing? Besides, there’s hundreds and
thousands of fruit trees here. There’s no way there’d be less fruits by my power alone.”
The voice belonged to Mu Qing, and from the sleeve corner that could be seen through
from that crowd, it looked like he had already taken off the black ghost costume and
changed back to the usual plain training outfit. That trainee humphed, “Of course if it
was only you picking for yourself the fruits wouldn’t be noticeably less, but you don’t just
pick for yourself, do you? You sneak them down the mountain for other people.
Exploiting the benefits, how shameless.
Xie Lian understood the situation immediately. The trainees that couldn’t stand Mu Qing
were picking on him again.
Mu Qing came from a poor family; his mother who lived at the foot of the mountain in
the city led a meager life. In the past she could only make some money from
seamstressing here and there, but after her eyes went bad she could no longer do that
work, and could only wait for Mu Qing to bring home the money he’d earn from running
errands on the mountain. Sometimes he would pick up some fresh fruits from Mount
Taicang and have her try, and it wasn’t really anything major because there weren’t any
rules against it. Nonetheless, when spoken of out loud it still sounded bad. To have it
brought up like this was even more insulting and embarrassing.
Mu Qing’s voice was laced with ice, “Zhu-ShiXiong, we usually rarely talk, but you have
picked on me again and again. Yesterday too you wouldn’t let me through to The
SiXiang Pavilion to pass on word. How have I offended you?”
That young man named Zhu was indeed the trainee that guarded the door to the
SiXiang Pavilion, and when he heard the matter from the day before brought up his
anger flared, “You’re the one who wasn’t mindful enough to do your job and almost
botched the event, so why are you blaming me? You should blame yourself for acting all
secretive, making other people think you’re up to no good. If you had just said outright
what you were doing, nothing would’ve happened. Thanks to you, His Highness almost
messed up, and I got yelled at by the Guoshi!” He threw the basket on the ground as he
griped, gesturing for everyone to go in to attack. Xie Lian couldn’t watch anymore and
When the trainees heard his voice they were all shocked, turning their heads and called,
Xie Lian and Feng Xin approached, and by then that Zhu-ShiXiong had already grabbed
Mu Qing by the shoulder and had him pushed against the trunk of a tree, the brawl not
yet started. If they really did start, even if it was one against twenty Mu Qing would’ve
gained the upper hand, but, if he wanted to stay in the Royal Holy Pavilion, then he
must never raise his fist.
Xie Lian smiled, “What’s everyone doing?”
That Zhu-ShiXiong was a decent, plain-looking young man and had looked up to the
Crown Prince. He froze hearing Xie Lian’s inquiry and hurried to let go of Mu Qing. “Um,
this, we were…”
Xie Lian continued to smile, “Although I don’t know for what everyone is quarreling, but
Mu Qing is my personal attendant, so if he does anything it’s generally under my
command. I didn’t realize there was some offense in having him pick some fruits for
The trainees all bowed, “No, no! So it was His Highness that asked him to come! We
On the side, Mu Qing leaned against the tree, and was first taken aback when he heard
Xie Lian say him coming was under his command, then he quickly righted his collar,
lowered his head and didn’t speak. Cold sweat was rolling down the backs of those
trainees as they profoundly apologized to Xie Lian then to Mu Qing, and finally hurried
away after picking up their baskets, escaping the cherry woods.
Xie Lian saw the basket Mu Qing had brought on the ground, and bent down to pick it
up and passed it to him, “Want some help?”
Mu Qing didn’t take the basket, but raised his head and watched Xie Lian with an
unreadable expression for a moment before he spoke, “Your Highness,”
“What is it?” Xie Lian said.
“Why must you always show up at times like these?”
Xie Lian: “?”
Feng Xin on the other hand became upset, “What do you mean? Is it wrong to come
and save you?”
Mu Qing gave him a look and took the basket. Feng Xin stiffened and said harshly,
“Listen up! What happened before was my fault! I didn’t mean to accuse you, and
everything was only said offhandedly. There’s no need for you to think deeply about
anything, suspecting this or that. I don’t care for anything other than His Highness, and
I’m not interested in gossip. That’s all I have to say, so stop being so moody!”
“PFFFT!” At first Xie Lian thought his words were too aggressive, but towards the end, it
was strangely funny. Mu Qing glared at Feng Xin, and Xie Lian waved his hand, “Alright,
alright. Everything Feng Xin said is true. Let’s just forget anything happened. Nothing’s
A moment later, Mu Qing said begrudgingly, “I’ll look for that red coral pearl again later.
Maybe it was dropped on the street.”
It wouldn’t be good for Xie Lian to look too much like he didn’t care, so he replied,
“Alright. Only if you have the time. But if it was dropped on the streets then it’ll have
gotten picked up by somebody by now.”
It seemed Mu Qing had nothing more to say, so he picked up the cherries that were
dropped onto the ground and put them back into his basket. He didn’t pick that many in
the first place, and moved to leave the woods. Xie Lian however, saw many enticing
fresh cherries and casually picked a bunch and dropped them into his basket.
Mu Qing was slightly taken aback. Xie Lian said, “Next time you want to pick fruits for
your mother, just say you’re picking them under my command, and no one will say
anything. The Guoshi told me to return to the palace for a few days so I plan on leaving
tomorrow. Why don’t you make your visit down the mountain too? Let’s just head back
It took a while, but at last Mu Qing said in a quiet voice, “Thank you, Your Highness.”
The next day, Xie Lian descended the mountain with Feng Xin and Mu Qing in tow.
The moment they reached the foot of the mountain, right outside the giant mountain
gates, they saw a shining, golden carriage. A young man dressed in a collared brocade
had a whip in hand, lying just in the front seat of the carriage, his legs crossed, looking
lively and important. The second he saw Xie Lian exiting the gates, he leapt to his feet
and ran towards him in a mad dash, shouting in obvious joy, “Cousin Crown Prince!”
Naturally, it was Qi Rong. And only he would have the free time to wait for Xie Lian at
the foot of Mount Taicang. He skipped over and cried, “My patience has finally paid off!”
Xie Lian grinned and ruffled his hair, laughing, “Did Qi Rong grow taller again? How did
you know I was returning to the palace today?”
Qi Rong giggled, “I didn’t. I just waited, and knew you’d have to come out sooner or
later. I refuse to believe you wouldn’t.”
“You’re quite free, aren’t you?” Xie Lian said hopelessly, “Are you studying properly?
What about sword practice? If mother asks me to test your studies again, I won’t help
Qi Rong blinked, his eyes shifty, and suddenly jumped up and down, “Nevermind all
that! Look at my new carriage! Cousin Crown Prince, come and board it, ride my
carriage back to the palace!”
He grabbed Xie Lian’s hand and pulled him to the carriage, but Xie Lian only felt danger,
Feng Xin and Mu Qing approached too. Technically, servants must sit at the front, but Qi
Rong’s face dropped immediately, cracking the whip in his hand, “I asked cousin Crown
Prince to get on, but I didn’t say you two, too. Think I’d let lowlives touch my golden
coach? Get the hell outta here!”
Xie Lian quietly barked, “Qi Rong!”
Feng Xin had met Qi Rong many times before, and already knew of his potty mouth,
vulgar and condescending character, but Mu Qing had never entered the palace before,
and so had naturally never gotten the chance to go near Prince Xiao Jing. Qi Rong was
feeling extremely aggrieved, but seeing Xie Lian about to walk away, he painfully and
begrudgingly consented the two shitty lowlives to board his precious golden coach.
However, they only just entered the coach, and all three of them immediately regretted
the decision. Qi Rong drove like a madman, the whip in his hand lashing nonstop,
screaming who knows what, and the white horse neighed in shock, the wheels spinning
frantically, thrashing down the streets, refusing to stop no matter how much Xie Lian
screamed for him to. They almost crashed into a number of pedestrians and stalls, and
thank goodness for Feng Xin and Mu Qing who sat at the front and grabbed the reins to
sidetrack the horse, otherwise this berserk journey was going to cost at least twenty
lives. When they finally reached the palace and the coach slowed down, Xie Lian, Feng
Xin, and Mu Qing all breathed a sigh of relief at the same time. Xie Lian wiped off his
cold sweat, and the other two had been lashed by Qi Rong’s whip a number of times,
their hands covered in welts. Yet Qi Rong rose to his feet, one leg stepping on the white
horse’s behind, and proclaimed proudly, “What do you think, cousin Crown Prince? I
drive pretty well, right!”
Xie Lian got off the carriage and replied, “I’m going to tell Father and Mother to
confiscate your coach.”
Qi Rong was shocked, “WHAT!”
By Xianle culture, one they love gold; two they love precious stones; three they love
beauties; four they love music; and five they love art. The Palace of Xianle was thus the
most distinguished place where all that they love was melted into one. Traversing
through the large courtyard, walking down the crimson hallway, not everything was
gilded or built of jade, as there were also masterpiece paintings hung all around, and
soft music wafting in the air, creating the illusion of paradise.
The palace was Xie Lian’s home, the place where he grew up. Feng Xin was chosen to
be the personal guard at the age of fourteen, and had long gotten used to the sight.
However it was Mu Qing’s first time seeing such buildings, and couldn’t help but be
awed. Yet, the more awed he was, the more careful he became, and the more he didn’t
dare to have others sense what he was feeling, didn’t dare to make a false step.
Xie Lian went to meet with the Queen the first thing. The Queen was resting at the
QiFeng Manor, leaning on a small tea table tasting new leaves. She had long received
the message that the Crown Prince had returned, her eyes crescent shaped in joy, and
extended both arms before her son even walked near and said, “Finally willing to come
home to see mom?”
Feng Xin and Mu Qing were guarding outside. Xie LIan entered the chamber with Qi
Rong in tow, and he reached out to hold his mother’s hands when he approached,
“Didn’t I just visit two months ago?”
The queen grumbled, “What a heartless child. Even Rong-Er* knew to keep an old
woman like me company but here you are sounding all self-righteous when you haven’t
come home for two months.”
Xie Lian laughed, “And how is Mother old? You look no more than ten-something! Like
we’re of the same generation.”
The queen was jubilant hearing those words of praise. Even if she had a son as old as
Xie LIan, because of her status and wealth, she was very well maintained, and still
looked the part of a noble beauty. Still, the word that left her lips was light
Xie Lian glanced at the small tea table and there was a jaded cup, its contents emitting
a strange fragrance. He asked curiously, “What’s this?” and picked it up, but the queen
warned, “Don’t drink it! You can’t drink that!”
●-Er is the word for “son” or “child”, but added to a name it becomes an
affectionate tag akin to meaning “Little” or “Sonny”.
Ch.63: Lost Red Pearl; Inadvertent Eyes Red with Desire 4
Xie Lian was curious, “Why can’t I drink this?”
The queen reached for the small jaded cup and took it from him, poured a bit of its
contents on her handkerchief, and pressed it gently a few times on her face, “Mount
Taicang recently sent in a batch of fresh fruits. I don’t like cherries, but there was a
method of making it into paste for facials, so I squeezed some for fun. There’s not much
use for it and I was about to have it thrown out, so I can’t possibly have you drink it!”
Xie Lian smiled as he listened but suddenly recalled the events of the day before. There
were very few times in a year where Mu Qing’s mother could taste cherries, and Mu
Qing himself would get bullied just for trying to pick some. It’s somewhat of a sensitive
topic and Xie LIan was afraid Mu Qing would be uncomfortable listening to this, so he
smiled and changed the subject, “Then do you have anything that I could eat?”
The queen chuckled, “The way you make it sound, others will think I starve you, but
you’ve been a picky eater ever since you were young, I can’t plump you up. You’ve
gotten so thin since you entered the mountain, today you’ll eat whatever I tell you to, no
The mother and son conversed for a while, and the queen asked about the incident
during the Heavenly Procession, sounding quite concerned, “By the Guoshi’s report, it
sounds serious. What’s going to happen? Will you be punished?”
Xie Lian didn’t have the chance to answer and Qi Rong cut in, “Hmph! That wasn’t
cousin Crown Prince’s fault. The one who fell off the wall wasn’t him, if anyone must be
punished, then it should be that little fiend!”
‘What, little fiend?’ Xie Lian thought in annoyance. He hadn’t corrected Qi Rong but the
Queen laughed. Just then she noticed the two outside the manor, “Who’s the child next
to Feng Xin? It’s the first time I see another person by your side.”
Xie Lian replied cheerfully, “That’s Mu Qing. He was the one who played the ghost on
Hearing this, Qi Rong slightly raised his brows while the queen said, “Really? Have him
come in so I can see his face. Feng Xin can come in too.”
Thus, Feng Xin and Mu Qing entered the chamber and knelt before the queen. She took
her time looking over Mu Qing and said to Xie Lian, “I thought he fought rather well
yesterday, a good, courteous child. Looking at this face you’d think he’d be a gentle
minister, but who knew he could be that tenacious using a sabre.”
Xie Lian grinned, “Right? I think he’s really good too.”
Qi Rong on the other hand, commented cooly, “Oh? The ghost from yesterday was
Xie Lian heard his tone and felt dread, and sure enough, the next second Qi Rong
suddenly exploded, snatched that small jaded cup from the little tea table, and swung it
at Mu Qing’s head, “Here! Your reward!”
Fortunately Xie Lian was faster, and smacked Qi Rong’s hand forcing him to drop the
cup so the splash didn’t make it to Mu Qing’s face. Xie Lian pulled him back by the
collar, “Qi Rong, what are you doing!”
Even whilst being held, Qi Rong was still rampant, “Cousin, I’m helping you discipline an
impudent servant! Before you made it yesterday, he sure was enjoying himself, taking in
all the limelight! Who the fuck do you think you are? The star of the Heavenly
Procession? Gonna overthrow the heavens too?!!”
The queen was stunned, “Rong, wh… what are you doing?”
Mu Qing’s face was spared of the splash but his clothes didn’t, yet because the queen
hadn’t given word, he remained kneeling on the floor, his face grim and pale. Xie Lian
passed Qi ROng to Feng Xin, “Don’t let him hit anyone.” Feng Xin only used one hand
to restrain Qi Rong, but Qi Rong was kicking and punching, spitting as he shouted, “And
who the fuck do you think you are to have the fucking nerve to touch me so casually!”
Xie Lian could feel his head aching, “Qi Rong, you’re getting more and more out of
control!” Then he turned to the queen, “Mother, I forgot to mention something. Please
take away his golden carriage.”
Qi Rong was shocked and yelled, “NO! NO! WHY? THAT’S AUNTIE’S BIRTHDAY GIFT
“Even if it is it must be confiscated.” Xie Lian said, “We almost ran into troubles on the
streets! Best not to touch it again before you learn how to drive properly.”
The queen “ah”-ed and asked, “Troubles? What troubles?”
Xie Lian retold to her the crazy state of Qi Rong’s driving, and Qi Rong was furious, his
eyes red around the rim, “COUSIN CROWN PRINCE IS WRONG! I DIDN’T RUN INTO
A SINGLE PERSON!”
Xie Lian snorted, “That’s because someone stopped you!”
Qi Rong struggled out of Xie Lian’s hands and ran out of the QiFeng Manor in a mad fit,
not turning back even when the queen called out to him. She said sadly, “I’ll talk to him
tomorrow about confiscating his carriage. Sigh, that child had wanted a coach for the
longest time, so when his birthday came around, I saw that he was still desperately
wanting one, so I gifted it to him. Who knew it’d turn out like this? Had I known I
wouldn’t have given it to him.”
“Why must he have a carriage?” Xie Lian wondered.
“He said it’s so he could go to Mount Taicang whenever he want to bring you home.”
The queen replied.
Xie Lian fell silent, learning that at the end of the day it was a gesture of goodwill. After
a moment, he spoke, “It’s better instead to find him a good teacher, and restrain that
temper. He can’t keep going on like this.”
The queen sighed, “And what teacher can restrain him? He only ever listens to you. We
could hardly have him enter the mountain to go cultivate with you? Besides, the Guoshi
would die before taking him in as a disciple.”
Xie Lian found the idea both hilarious and horrifying and shook his head, “With a temper
like that, if he should enter the Holy Royal Pavilion, he would raise hell for sure.”
Both the mother and the son were deeply troubled by this, and couldn’t think of any
ideas, and so they let it go for the time being. That evening, after having seen his
parents and caught up, Xie Lian rose to leave the palace.
Everyone knew that the Crown Prince was deeply obsessed with cultivation, and ever
since he entered the Holy Royal Pavilion, he visited his parents less and less. The king
didn’t say much on the matter, but the queen was always reluctant to see him go. After
leaving the palace, Xie Lian casually strolled around the royal capital, and accompanied
Mu Qing to make a visit to his home, as suggested the day before.
The wealthy tall red gates and the impoverished slums were usually a street away from
each other. Mu Qing’s home was situated in a dark alley of the most bustling area of the
The three of them just turned into the alley when five or six children in rags surrounded
them, calling out, “Ge ge. Ge ge is back!”
Xie Lian was confused at first, wondering why they would call strangers ‘ge ge’, but then
he discovered that the ‘ge ge’ they were calling wasn’t him, but Mu Qing. The children
called out to him sweetly but Mu Qing ignored them, “There’s nothing this time. Don’t
call me anything.”
His face was wooden, but his voice wasn’t cold. He turned to Xie LIan, “Don’t mind
them, Your Highness, they’re just kids from the block.” However, that group of children
were obviously very comfortable around him, having grown up playing together, and
weren’t afraid of him at all. They giggled and surrounded them, their dirty little hands
extended, begging for munchies from Mu Qing. Finally, Mu Qing reached for the
gem-like cherries in his bag and handed them out.
Feng Xin was astonished seeing this, as if Mu Qing doing anything of the sort was a
miracle. After all, Mu Qing bore a pale face that looked extremely cheap, the type that
despite seeing someone die from starvation on the streets would still keep a tight hold
on his own food. Xie Lian on the other hand, wasn’t surprised at all.
At first he had also wanted to find something to give to the children, but he didn’t usually
carry sweets on his person, and having Feng Xin give coins was too much like
dismissing beggars that Xie Lian didn’t think it appropriate. Suddenly, there was a boom
of large galloping noise coming from the main streets, a long shrieking neighing of a
horse, and people screaming.
The three of them stopped, then Xie Lian rushed out of the alley. All around the main
street was chaos, stalls toppled and people on the ground. The pedestrians were all
running to get away; apples and pears rolled all over. He hadn’t figured out what was
happening when he heard the crazed laughter of a young man, “OUT OF MY WAY, GET
OUT OF MY WAY! I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF ANY OF YOU GET TRAMPLED!”
Feng Xin swore, “It’s Qi Rong again!”
Sure enough, Qi Rong stood atop that glamourous golden coach, his expression
malicious, lashing his whip wildly, the white horse howling from the welting.
“STOP HIM!” Xie Lian shouted.
That golden carriage whooshed by them, and Feng Xin acknowledged, “Understood!”
and charged on ahead. Xie Lian was about to go check for any wounded from all the
toppled stalls and knocked over pedestrians left behind Qi Rong’s mad trail when
suddenly he noticed something wrong. He whipped his head around, and saw just
behind that large golden coach, something was dragged along with a thick, long hemp
rope. At the end of the rope was a gunny sack, and in that sack there seemed to be
something struggling. It looked like there was a person in that sack.
That moment, Xie Lian could only feel his blood run cold. The next second, he rushed
From all the whipping, that white horse was dashing like it’s running for its life, spinning
the wheels of that carriage furiously. Feng Xin went to hold the horse back but probably
wouldn’t be able to stop it immediately. Xie Lian raced up to the carriage in only a few
steps, unsheathed his sword and struck down. That rope snapped in two, and the gunny
sack dropped to the ground, rolled, and came to a stop.
Xie Lian bent forward to inspect it. That gunny sack had been dragged for who knew
how long and was ripped from all the scraping. It was extremely dirty, covered in blood,
looking like a dead body bag. Another swing from his sword, and the rope tied around
the opening was cut. He opened the back and looked, and there was indeed someone,
and, it was a young child!
Xie Lian ripped open that entire sack. The young child within was curled into a ball,
hugging his head tightly, and his filthy clothes was covered either in giant footprints or
fresh blood. Even his hair was tangled with blood. He was a mess, and it was obvious
he was heavily beaten by someone, so much so that he didn’t even look human
anymore. Judging by his from, he was only seven or eight, a very small creature,
shaking as if a layer of his skin was forcibly peeled off. Truly incredible that he was still
alive after such a violent beating!
Xie Lian reached out a hand to feel his neck, and found that his pulse wasn’t too weak,
and sighed a breath of relief. He immediately picked up the small body, turned around
and yelled, enraged, “FENG XIN! ARREST QI RONG!!!”
He could not believe that something like this could happen in the Kingdom of Xianle.
Under the light of day, on the main street, a noble, stuffed a live human in a gunny sack
to be dragged behind a horse carriage! If he hadn’t seen and stopped it, this small child
would’ve been dragged to death that day!
Some distance away came the sounds of neighing and the angry roars of Qi Rong, and
soon after, Feng Xin yelled back, “He’s been stopped!”
Xie Lian rushed towards them just in time to hear Qi Rong howl in rage, “YOU
FUCKING LOWLY SERVANT DARE HURT ME! WHO GAVE YOU THE BALLS?!!”
Turns out, Feng Xin couldn’t stop him, so he tried to snatch the reins from him instead.
Of course Qi Rong wouldn’t let him, so the two pulled back and forth, and in a moment
of carelessness Feng Xin bumped and pushed him off the carriage. He fell to the
ground and rolled a few times, his knees scraped. Seeing that he was surrounded by
bystanders, he felt nothing but rage and embarrassment. However, Xie Lian cut in, “I
Qi Rong opened and closed his mouth a couple times before finally crying, “Cousin
Xie Lian said angrily, “Look at what you’ve done! Qi Rong I really…”
Just then, he suddenly felt the child in his arms twitch, seemingly to have loosened the
hands hugging his head, and was peeking at him from the gap between his elbows.
Xie Lian immediately restrained his anger, and lowered his head to soothe him in a
gentle voice, “How do you feel? Do you feel pain anywhere especially?”
That child was amazingly still conscious, not fainted from pain, not frozen in shock, and
shook his head. Xie Lian saw that half of his bloody little face poked out and was about
to check for other head injuries, but that child firmly covered the other half of his face
with his hands, stubbornly refusing to show him.
Ch.64: Lost Red Pearl; Inadvertent Eyes Red with Desire 5
Xie Lian soothed, “Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to do anything. I only want to check
your injuries.” That child however, pressed his hands harder, revealing only one large
obsidian eye, looking panicked. But this panic didn’t seem like he was afraid he would
get beaten, but rather that something would be discovered.
Looking at this little face half covered with only an eye, Xie Lian suddenly thought he
might’ve seen this child somewhere and squinted his eyes. Qi Rong saw his upset face
and explained, “Cousin Crown Prince, that little fiend ruined your grand ceremony
yesterday, so I avenged you. Don’t worry, I was careful, he won’t die.”
Sure enough, the child held in his arms was the one who fell from the city wall during
the ShangYuan Heavenly Ceremonial Procession the day before!
No wonder Xie Lian thought he looked familiar. This little child hadn’t even changed; he
was still wearing the same outfit as the day before, but because of all the beating and
dragging, it was filthier and looked nothing like before, not even like it was the same
person. Xie Lian couldn’t hold back his anger anymore, “WHO TOLD YOU TO AVENGE
ME??? IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS CHILD, IT WASN’T HIS FAULT!”
Qi Rong justified himself, “Of course it’s his fault. If not for him, you wouldn’t have gotten
scolded by the Guoshi!”
This ruckus was growing out of hand, and the crowds watching was becoming bigger,
all whispering to each other. Just then, Mu Qing approached too and Qi Rong pointed
his whip at him, his dissenting expression was laced with hostility, “And you! You lowly
servant. Just by the looks of him I can tell he doesn’t know his place. If you don’t
discipline him, sooner or later he’s going to overthrow and step on you the master. I help
you discipline him, but you turned around and defended him instead, and told on me
too. Now Uncle and Auntie not only disregarded my good will, they even confiscated my
golden carriage! Cousin, that was my birthday gift! I’ve wanted it for over two years!!”
Mu Qing gave Qi Rong an unreadable sweeping look. Xie Lian puffed a laugh from
rage, “I don’t need your good will, not like this. Are you really avenging me? Or are you
“…” Qi Rong said, “Cousin, why would you say that to me? And what have I done wrong
in following after you?”
Xie Lian couldn’t argue with him, “Qi Rong, listen here. From now on, you’re not allowed
to touch this child. Not even a finger! DO YOU HEAR ME!”
Just then, Xie Lian suddenly felt a pull on his neck. He was just at the height of his fury
and was startled. He looked down and saw that young child buried his face in his chest,
his two hands tightly encircled around Xie Lian’s neck. Xie Lian felt him shake
uncontrollably and thought he was hurting. He asked hurriedly, “What’s wrong?”
That young child was covered all over in mud, grime, and blood, filthy and unkempt, and
it all smeared onto Xie Lian’s white robe, but Xie Lian didn’t mind it at all. He gently
patted the child’s back to comfort him and said in a gentle voice, “I’ll go take you to the
doctors right now.”
That child didn’t respond but he hugged Xie Lian even tighter. He was tense and
wouldn’t let go, as if he was holding on to a lifeline. Qi Rong saw that Xie Lian wouldn’t
acknowledge his good will, his heart solely on outsiders, then saw that kid sullied Xie
Lian’s robes with that bloody, muddy shit, his anger flared. He raised the whip and was
about to lash the back of that child’s head. Feng Xin was standing on the side, and in a
split second, his leg flew out and kicked Qi rong right on the arm.
There was a large CRACK and Qi Rong screamed, the whip fell to the ground, and his
right arm dropped limply in an abnormal angle. He was still suspended in disbelief and it
wasn’t for a while before he slowly raised his head, glaring at Feng Xin, enunciating
each word, “You, DARE, BREAK MY ARM!”
The words were extremely cold. It was only until after he kicked that Feng Xin realized
what he had done, and his face changed, but Mu Qing’s face changed more than the
No matter how much they detested Qi Rong behind his back, that’s one thing. But as a
personal guard, to have transgressed and accidentally breaking the arm of royalty, was
something completely different!
Just now Xie Lian had his hands full with that child, and behind him was full of
onlookers, so he couldn’t dodge, but if he did dodge it would’ve been a piece of cake
too. Only, Qi Rong came at him with such aggression and often out of the blue, Feng
Xin moved too fast without thinking, Xie Lian didn’t have the chance to stop him. Now
everything was in even more of an uproar and Xie Lian didn’t have time to think either.
His clothes were getting soaked in blood, if they delay any longer the child might just die
right there. Xie Lian made a split second decision, inhaled deeply, and shouted in a
clear voice, “EVERYONE, IF ANYONE WAS PULLED INTO THIS INCIDENT TODAY,
PLEASE RECORD ANY DAMAGES AND LOSS. I WILL TAKE ALL RESPONSIBILITY
Then, he turned to Feng Xin and Mu Qing, “Save the child first. Take Qi Rong away, and
don’t let him continue havoc outside.” Finishing his instructions, Xie Lian ran towards
the palace with the child in his arms. Feng Xin received the command, his expression
back to normal, and picked up the raging Qi Rong before following after Xie Lian. The
soldiers guarding the palace gates thought it was strange to see the Crown Prince
racing back having only left but a short while ago, but naturally they wouldn’t stop him,
Thus, Xie Lian ran straight to the medical pavilion, and entered the infirmary leaving
Feng Xin and Mu Qing outside the door with Qi Rong under arrest.
The Crown Prince rarely returned to the palace and rarely made demands, so the
imperial doctors naturally rushed over speedily. Xie Lian placed that young child in a
chair and said, “Thanks in advance, everyone. This child was beaten by a number of
grown ups, got stuffed into a gunny sack, and dragged on the roads. Please check for
me if there are any head injuries first, that’s the most important thing.”
The imperial medical team had never seen a royal or a noble bring a dirty wild babes for
them to heal before, but they also know they just need to do whatever they’re told to,
and all acknowledged Xie Lian’s direction. One of them spoke, “Put your hands down
first, little kid.”
However, although that young child was docile in Xie Lian’s arms the whole time, he
started struggling then and firmly covered right right side of his face, refusing to let go
no matter what. No matter how skilled the imperial doctors were, if the patient didn’t
cooperate there wasn’t anything they could do. The doctors looked to Xie Lian, “Your
Xie Lian raised a hand, “He’s probably afraid of strangers. Don’t worry, let me.”
That child was sitting in a chair and Xie Lian couldn’t meet his eyes so he bend forward
and inclined his head, “What’s your name?”
The large eye of that child stared at him intently, his obsidian black pupil reflected a
snow white reflection. This gaze, if it must be described, was exactly like Feng Xin had
said – “Possessed by the devil”, and shouldn’t be the gaze of a child.
It was for a moment before the child lowered his head, “… Hong…”
His voice was tiny and soft, mumbled, like he didn’t want to say it, but also a little
embarrassed. Xie Lian only sort of heard the word “Hong”* and asked again, “How old
“Ten.” That child replied.
Xie Lian was only asking offhandedly, hoping to lower his guard, but hearing that he
responded with “Ten”, he was startled and thought, ‘I thought he was only seven or
eight, but he’s ten? This child is truly weak and emaciated.’
After a pause, Xie Lian smiled softly, “The doctors will see to your wounds now, don’t be
afraid and lower your hands, ok?”
That child heard, but hesitantly shook his head.
“Why not?” Xie Lian asked.
He was silent for a while before replying, “Ugly.”
His response was just the one word, and no matter how Xie Lian soothed he refused to
let go of his hands. Xie Lian promised that he won’t think him ugly, that he won’t look,
but turning around wouldn’t do either. Such a young age but such obstinance. Without
choice, the imperial doctors could only ask him a few questions, have him recognize
number of fingers, making sure he didn’t feel faint or have any headaches, that he
understood what he saw and what he thought, then tend to his physical wounds.
As the imperial doctors worked, they became more and more awed. Xie Lian guarded
on the side, hearing their sounds of wonder, and asked, “How is he, everyone?”
One of the imperial doctors couldn’t help but ask, “Your Highness, did this little kid really
get beaten and dragged on the roads in a gunny sack?”
Xie Lian was speechless, “Why would it be false?”
The imperial doctor replied, “If that was the case, then… amazing. I have never seen
anyone so tenacious. He has five broken ribs and a leg, a number of injuries big and
small, and with all of that added together, he remains conscious and converses while
sitting up. Even adults would find this difficult to do, nevermind a ten year old child?”
Hearing how severe the injuries were, Xie Lian became even more furious at Qi Rong.
He looked to that child and saw that he was sitting there on that chair as if he felt no
pain, and was peeking at him with that large black left eye. When he noticed he was
caught by Xie Lian, he immediately turned his head away.
●Hong is the word for ‘red’.
Ch.65: Lost Red Pearl; Inadvertent Eyes Red with Desire 6
Seeing this, for some reason Xie Lian thought he was both silly and sad, then turned to
ask, “Will his injuries all heal?”
One of the imperial doctors wrapped new layers of bandages around that child’s head
and replied, “Not a problem.”
Xie Lian finally felt relieved and nodded, “Thank you for all your hard work.”
Just then, an attendant entered to notify them of the imminent arrival of his majesty the
king and queen. Each of the imperial doctors immediately stood up and exited the
infirmary to greet. Xie Lian moved the child to the bed and said, “Lie down for a bit and
rest.” He then thought, the child was afraid of strangers, and so many people crowding
in might scare him, so Xie Lian lowered the bedside curtains before rising to his feet too.
A number of guards and attendants surrounded the king and the queen as they walked
into the pavilion. The queen’s face was pale, “My dear child why did you return all of a
sudden after having just left the palace? Were you hurt outside?”
“Mother, please be at ease,” Xie Lian said, “I wasn’t hurt, it was someone else who was
Just then, Qi Rong called out from the corner, “Auntie, save me!”
Only then did the queen notice Qi Rong, firmly held by Feng Xin, arrested on the side,
and was shocked. She was only worried about the wellbeing of her son, and completely
ignored everything else, but now that she saw, she asked, “Rong-Er, what’s happened?”
The king on the other hand slightly knitted his brows, “Feng Xin, why are you holding
Prince Xiao Jing like a criminal?”
When His Majesty arrived, Feng Xin should’ve bowed in greeting like Mu Qing and all
the others, but because he had Qi Rong in hand, he couldn’t let go, and thus entered
into an awkward situation. Xie Lian spoke up, “It was under my command.”
Qi Rong held up his right arm, “Auntie, my arm is broken.”
The queen hadn’t had the chance to sympathize before Xie Lian cut in harshly, “You
broke an arm, but what about that child inside?”
“What child?” The king asked.
“A ten year old child,” Xie Lian answered, “Powerless, vulnerable, and already weak. Qi
Rong sent his lackeys to beat him. If not for his tenacity, he would’ve been beaten to
death on the spot!”
Qi Rong looked as if he just heard a joke, his eyes widening, “A powerless, vulnerable
ten year old child? Weak? Cousin, you don’t know just how vicious, how savage, how
spunky that little fiend was, he only pretends to be pathetic in front of you. I called for
five to six guys and they couldn’t catch the brat. He thrashed, bit them, and bloodied
them. If he didn’t anger me, why would I have dragged him behind the horse carriage?”
Hearing this, both the king and the queen’s faces dropped. Xie Lian took in a deep
breath and shouted, “Enough! Do you think what you’ve done is impressive?”
Qi Rong wasn’t one to shy away from showing his face, so to be so arrogant and
ostentatious, there was no reason to believe the citizens of the capital did not see. And
after they have seen, there was no reason he wouldn’t become the talk of the city as
after meal leisure.
The king gave the queen a look, his expression slightly blue, “Take Prince Xiao Jing
away. Doctor, see to his arm. The golden carriage will be permanently confiscated. You
are to be detained and reflect on your actions for a month without release.”
The guard behind him immediately acknowledged the order and moved forward to take
Qi Rong. Only then did Feng Xin let go. Qi Rong no longer cared and hmphed, “Take it,
take it. I already knew today would’ve been the last time to drive it.”
Hearing that he possessed no repenting heart, the queen sighed sadly. Xie Lian spoke
up, “Looks like with only a month of detention to reflect, he will still do this again next
time. There needs to be stricter discipline.”
Qi Rong was taken aback and stammered angrily, “Cousin Crown Prince, you…” But
the next moment he switched gears, “Fine. Then I admit, this time it was my fault. No
matter how His Majesty punishes me, Qi Rong has no complaints.”
His next words changed the subject’s direction, “However, shouldn’t Cousin Crown
Prince’s servant also be punished? Uncle, auntie, my arm was broken by that Feng
Hearing this, the king instantly moved his gaze to Feng Xin, looking outraged. Feng Xin
inclined his head, and Mu Qing inconspicuously moved two steps away.
The king said coldly, “Feng Xin, you are the Crown Prince’s bodyguard. The Crown
Prince treats you well and regards you highly, but have you forgotten your own place?
What is this arrogance! Your duty is to serve His Highness. Is this how you serve him?
You dare raise a hand against the Crown Prince’s cousin Prince Xiao Jing?”
Hearing his words, Feng Xin was ready to kneel but Xie Lian stopped him, “Don’t kneel.”
Feng Xin obeyed Xie Lian’s commands first and foremost, and even under the king’s
orders, his priority was His Highness, and so he instantly straightened again. Seeing
this, the king became even more upset.
“It’s true Feng Xin broke Qi Rong’s arm, but the reason was to protect the master.” Xie
Lian said, “Besides, Qi Rong was at fault first, not Feng Xin, so why must he kneel?”
“It doesn’t matter why,” The king said, “Either way he has offended Prince Xiao Jing.
There’s a difference between masters and servants, a distinction of superior and
inferior. Nevermind if I, the king, was to make him kneel, if I were to punish him with one
hundred lashings there wouldn’t be anything inappropriate about it.”
Although the king wasn’t as affectionate towards Qi Rong as the queen, but Qi Rong
was still nevertheless one of the house of royalty, never to be disobeyed or offended. Qi
Rong knew this very well, and said with a sly eye, “No need for a lashing punishment.
He belongs to Cousin Crown Prince, I don’t want to make things awkward. As long as
he breaks his own arm, and kneel to kowtow before me three times, I can let this go.”
The king nodded slowly, looking to consent on the decision. However, Xie Lian spoke
up, “If you must punish Feng Xin then you must punish me first. He’s my servant; first of
all he’s done nothing wrong, and second of all, if he was at fault it was still done under
my orders, so I will take punishment on his behalf.”
Hearing him say this, the king became outraged once more.
All the fathers and sons in the world must go through this change. When the son was
young, they would all idolize their fathers as the greatest hero on earth, their own
personal role model, their worship apparent. However when the son matures to a
certain age, they would start to question everything the fathers did, even brew revulsion,
until in the end neither sides would acknowledge each other.
To enter Mount Taicang for training, Xie Lian’s fundamental objective was to improve his
martial arts and search for the direction of his heart. However, he never cared for where
he trained, nor with what identity.
The word ‘dao’ for cultivation meant exactly as it appeared, which was ‘To walk the
path’*. As long as one’s heart was set on the path with one mind, then training could be
done anywhere. He didn’t need to follow any dictated norms, nor enter the Royal Holy
Pavilion. There was another reason why Xie Lian had begged to train on Mount
Taicang, and that was because he felt he really didn’t get along with his father.
As the honourable Crown Prince of Xianle, the moment Xie Lian was born, the King of
Xianle had already drawn out every detail of the path of his life. It was alright when he
was still young. A child had little worries, and Xie Lian only needed his parents to build
gold foil palaces with him, play around and laugh. As the years went by, Xie Lian felt
more and more that his father wasn’t only a father, but also the ruler of a kingdom, and
many of their thoughts and actions could no longer concur. For example. The so-called
Royal Prestige was one of the things Xie Lian hated.
If they couldn’t concur, then it was best to stay far away. Every time he returned to the
palace, he spent more time conversing with his mother, and never any heart-to-heart
with his father. The two never took the initiative to talk to each other either, and it was
also the queen who always mediated between them.
The father and son had maintained this frozen relationship for many months, and now,
with Xie Lian stubbornly refusing to back down, the king said, “Very well. Take his place
if you must. Let’s see if you can actually withstand it!”
“Of course I can!” Xie Lian retaliated.
The queen saw the two of them were butting heads again and anxiously said, “Why
must it be like this?”
Just then, Feng Xin who hadn’t spoken a word on the side, suddenly raised his left arm
and struck down on his right. There was a large CRACK, the crowd was startled and
looked to the sound, and saw his right arm was dropped limply, exactly like Qi Rong’s.
Xie Lian was both shocked and furious, “FENG XIN!”
Cold sweat rolled down Feng Xin’s forehead, and without a word, he knelt down before
Qi Rong and ‘ko, ko, ko’, kowtowed three times. Qi Rong was feeling rather proud and
laughed out loud, “Alright, I guess I’ll forgive you. Why couldn’t you have done this
Even though his arm was broken too, when he left he looked energized and refreshed,
as if he fought a winning battle. As for Feng Xin, he was still kneeling on the ground,
and Mu Qing stood on the sidelines watching, his expression gloomy but his thoughts
unreadable. Xie Lian whipped around to face his father, yelling angrily, “YOU! –”
Feng Xin grabbed him with his left arm, “Your Highness!”
The queen also put her hands on him to pull him back. Xie Lian knew that Feng Xin
followed him since the age of fourteen and was cared for deeply by the queen. He only
did this because he couldn’t bear to see the queen sad over the dispute between the
father and son. If Xie Lian threw a fit now, then Feng Xin’s efforts would go to waste, so
he swallowed his outrage but the fire continues to burn inside his heart. The king finally
looked appeased, and left with a grim expression.
The queen had always liked Feng Xin and sighed, “My child, we’ve wronged you.”
“Please don’t say that, your majesty. This was my duty.” Feng Xin replied.
Hearing this, Mu Qing’s eyes squinted, like he snorted coldly. Xie Lian however, closed
his eyes, “Mother, if you really can’t handle Qi Rong, then lock him up.”
The queen sighed, nodded, then shook her head, and left too.
Xie Lian asked for one of the imperial doctors to tend to Feng Xin’s right arm and
apologized, “Feng Xin, I’m sorry.”
Once the crowds had cleared, Feng Xin immediately changed face and clicked his
tongue, “This is nothing. I dared hit him, so how could I be scared of his revenge?” After
a pause, he advised, “Your Highness, of course it’s right for you to discipline Qi Rong,
but don’t be resentful of His Majesty. His Majesty is the king, and a figurehead of the
older generation, so he thinks differently than we do. Seeing the two of you fight makes
the queen sad. She has her difficulties too.”
And how could Xie Lian not know his mother’s difficulties?
The mother of Qi Rong was the younger blood sister of the queen and they got along
very well. When she was young and immature, at the first bloom of romance, she
thirsted for freedom, listened to words of honey and broke off a good engagement to
elope with a bodyguard in the palace. Who knew that the one she had chosen was
villainous. One who was born of nobility stuffed in a doghouse-like shack, and after only
half a year, the villain revealed his true nature, drunken and violent. After Qi Rong was
born he became even more abusive. Finally, the mother couldn’t take it anymore, and
when Qi Rong turned five, she took him and ran away from home. Because she had
become a royal scandal, she closed the door and no longer stepped foot outside, and
spent the rest of her life in grim depression, only showing particular love and devotion to
her only son.
During an upheaval, Qi Rong’s mother lost her life saving the queen, and before she
passed, she asked Xie Lian’s mother to look after Qi Rong.
Of course the queen did her utmost. However, it was still awkward raising someone
else’s son. Discipline is difficult, too strict and it’d appear to be abuse; thinking of past
love and friendships, she could hardly be so harsh; too lax, and it’d turn out to become
the behaviour of today, and without stricter restraints, it could only get worse in the
future. The queen also wondered often, she raised Xie Lian and Qi Rong almost the
same, so how come their characters were so different?
Just then, Xie Lian suddenly remembered there was another small child still lying on the
bed here in the infirmary. He raised the bedside curtain to check, and that child was
sitting up, looking like he was trying to peek out of some crack to watch. The moment
Xie Lian raised the curtain he laid down obediently. Xie Lian said, “Did we scare you
with the fight just now? Don’t let it bother you, it has nothing to do with you.”
“Your Highness, this little kid’s wounds have been tended to. Now he only needs quiet
rest.” One of the imperial doctors said.
Xie Lian dipped his head slightly, “Thank you for your hard work.”
He then bent down again to ask, “Where do you live? I’ll take you home.”
That child shook his head, “No home.”
Feng Xin approached, holding the arm that’s now in a sling, “No home? So he really is a
Seeing that this child was emaciated and small, his clothes filthy and unkempt, it wasn’t
impossible. If he had no home to return to, they couldn’t possibly leave him at the
palace or throw him out on the streets. Xie Lian pondered a moment then said, “If that’s
the case, then let’s bring him with us back to Mount Taicang.”
Unexpectedly, Mu Qing suddenly spoke up, “He’s lying.”
●‘Dao’ [道]: in this context is translated to ‘cultivation’ but the word originally
means ‘the path’, used to indicate both the literal and philosophical. Thus, one
who practices ‘the path’ is a Taoist/Cultivator.
To learn more, simply google ‘Taoism’.
Ch.66: To Ascend is Human; to Fall is Also Human
Xie Lian turned his head and asked, “What do you mean?”
“The homeless street urchins of the royal capital all run together in a gang, and they’d
come to my neighbourhood often to beg for food. I know all of them but I’ve never seen
this child before.”
That young child stared at Mu Qing and didn’t say a word. Feng Xin was incredulous,
“Who do they beg for food from? You? And you’d give it to them?”
Mu Qing glared at him, “If they pester relentlessly there’s no other way.”
Feng Xin still thought the notion rather unbelievable but didn’t make any further
Xie Lian wanted to laugh watching them talk. Mu Qing continued, “Besides, there’s
sewn patches on his clothes; judging by the needlework, it must have been done by a
grown up only just recently, so there’s at least someone of age in his household. His
family situation might not be the best, but he’s definitely not a beggar.”
Naturally Xie Lian would not notice how the needlework of sewn patches was, nor if it
was done by adults, but Mu Qing used to be an errand boy at the Royal Holy Pavilion,
and also did all kinds of chores at home, so when Xie Lian looked closely, it was indeed
as he had said, so he asked. “Do you have grown ups at home?”
That young child shook his head, but Mu Qing said, “There must be. If he doesn’t go
back, his family must be worried sick looking for him by now.”
“No, no way! There’s nobody!” That young child cried, sounding like he was afraid to be
sent back, and he opened his arms reaching for Xie Lian. He was still covered with mud
and blood, and Feng Xin couldn’t stand it anymore, “Kid, what the hell are you doing?
Things were urgent earlier so whatever, but shouldn’t you know better by now? This is
the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince, do you understand?”
That young child’s arms immediately shrank back, but he was still gazing at Xie Lian,
“There’s fighting at home and I got kicked out. I walked for a long time but I’ve nowhere
The other three looked at each other. After a moment, Feng Xin said, “So what now?”
One of the imperial doctors suggested, “If His Highness is troubled, he can be placed
here in the palace, and have a few attendants take care of him.”
Xie Lian hummed but after some thought, shook his head slowly.
At the end of the day, he was afraid Qi Rong wouldn’t drop the whole thing, and would
sneak out to cause trouble. “The way I see it, it’s still best if I watch over him until his
wounds are healed. It seems his family won’t be able to look after him, unfortunately.
Feng Xin, when you go take care of the affected stalls toppled by Qi Rong, see if you
can find out where his parents are and let them know so they don’t worry.”
“Alright.” Feng Xin nodded.
One of his arms was still in a sling, but he extended the good arm to reach for that
young child, intending to pick him up by the collar. Xie Lian laughed, “You’re wounded.
Don’t worry about it.”
However, Feng Xin shrugged it off, “Only one arm is broken, the other’s still fine. If both
my arms were broken I can still use my teeth to carry him by the collar and bring him up
the mountain for you.”
Mu Qing rolled his eyes from behind, then spoke up, “Nevermind. Let me carry him.” But
just as he made one step forward, that young child jumped off the bed himself and said,
“I can walk on my own.”
An expression filled with rejection spoke louder than words, and it made Mu Qing’s
second step extremely awkward, unsure of whether or not to proceed. That little kid had
five broken ribs and a leg but he was still as lively as a dragon, Xie Lian really didn’t
know whether to laugh or feel concerned and said, “Stop running around!” Then he bent
down and picked him up.
The three of them with a child in tow left the palace. Since Qi Rong caused havoc on
the streets earlier and disturbed the townspeople, toppling a number of stalls, Xie Lian
felt deeply guilty, having no face to meet any of the citizens, so the group snuck around,
afraid to show their faces, using only the back alleyways. Throughout the entire way,
that small child was extremely docile in Xie Lian’s arms; they told him to be quiet and he
uttered not a single sound. Feng Xin glared, “This brat kicked me yesterday, but look at
him now. He really knows how to pick them.”
“It’s His Highness the Crown Prince. Of course he’s more well-liked than most people.”
Mu Qing said.
For some reason, even if he said something well-meaning, the words he use still make
people feel uncomfortable. Feng Xin refused to acknowledge what he said. After
walking for a while, Feng Xin spoke up, “No. I still feel Your Highness shouldn’t let
anyone see you’re holding a strange child.”
“What’s the problem?” Xie Lian asked.
“You’re the Crown Prince!” Feng Xin exclaimed.
While he spoke, he saw a worn down handcart further up the alley and said, “Put the kid
in that cart and pull it to go.”
Mu Qing immediate voiced, “Just so we’re clear, I will not pull that thing up the
“No one’s asking you to.” Feng Xin said. He reached out and pulled the child from Xie
Lian’s arms, and the child started struggling again.
“Nevermind, forget it. Maybe someone else needs that cart!” Xie Lian said.
Just then, from somewhere nearby, someone suddenly called out, “Are you… the
Another immediately shouted, “YES, YES, YES! THAT’S THE CROWN PRINCE! HIS
MASK FELL YESTERDAY AND I SAW HIS FACE WITH MY OWN EYES! THAT’S
The three of them froze, their hearts dropped. Although Xie Lian didn’t think he did
anything wrong at the Heavenly Ceremonial Procession the day before, he also knew
that others might not believe the same. To cut short the God-Pleasing Martial ceremony
was an ominous sign of misfortune; it’s unspeakable amongst the nobility, and when all
the excitement wore off after the fact, when the people start wondering what it all meant,
they probably wouldn’t be as forgiving either. Plus the havoc on the streets caused by
Qi Rong, the complaints must be endless. If they were to be surrounded now, it may
end badly. Without thinking any deeper, Mu Qing grabbed him and shouted, “Your
Feng Xin was pulling the cat and urged too, “Your Highness, I’ve a broken arm, I won’t
be able to stop anyone rioting. Go!”
However, outside the alleyway there were already a mass number of people who were
pouring in, their faces filled with excitement, blocking all viable exits. The four of them
had nowhere to run, and watched wide-eyed as they became encircled. Xie Lian
thought bold-headedly, ‘If anything, I’ll just let them beat us down without fighting back.’
However, unexpectedly, although the crowd poured in, they didn’t pulverize them but
instead, a number of hands reached out and threw him into the air, cheering, “YOUR
Xie Lian was thrown into the air countless times but still maintained a calm and steady
disposition. The people shouted, “YOUR HIGHNESS, THAT LEAP IN THE MARTIAL
DEITY AVENUE YESTERDAY WAS SPECTACULAR!”
Someone exclaimed, “That was such an amazing jump! Really, really, I totally thought
the Heavenly Martial Emperor himself had descended! I had goosebumps!”
Another validated, “His Highness was right to save that kid! A life is a life, did they think
kids from us poor people aren’t the same? If it were me, I’d do the same!”
Another raged, “That’s right! Today there was talk of how His Highness had ruined the
event and I just couldn’t stand it! If it had been a royal or a noble who had fallen, they
wouldn’t say the same! Your Highness, don’t mind those people!”
“His Highness is the one who truly cares about us….”
Xie Lian went from feeling guilty at the beginning, then disoriented halfway through, until
finally, he was affected by the passionate and cheerful faces all around. The crowd
clustered around Xie Lian and when they emerged onto the main street, more and more
joined them. Feng Xin, Mu Qing, and that young child were pushed away and separated
a far way back without any means of pushing through, and could only follow along
behind the parade. This large assembly of people was surprisingly not smaller than the
crowd from the day before. Every time Xie Lian made a move to leave, he would be
forcibly dragged back in and thrown into the air without any chance of being let down.
Xie Lian couldn’t help but find it both funny and reassuring as he thought to himself,
‘The people and Guoshi have completely opposite sentiments. It looks like I was in the
When at last they reached Mount Taicang, the setting sun was ablaze brightly and
Passing through the large mountain gates, on the long winding stone path, there were a
number of trainees and cultivators carrying water buckets and firewood going up and
down the road, greeting Xie Lian and company, but many watched the four plus a cart
with wonder. Feng Xin was pulling that handcart with one hand like a hardworking,
serious young black bull. Xie lian and Mu Qing smiled back dutifully at first, but after a
while they stopped caring.
The maple trees were endless, and the wheels turned calmly. As they hiked, Xie Lian
helped push the handcart from behind. He was feeling good, and asked that young child
another question casually, “Little kid, what is your name, really? Hong what?”
That young child watched him and said in a small voice, “I… I don’t have a name.”
Xie Lian was taken aback, “Your mother didn’t give you a name?”
That young child shook his head, “My mother passed.”
Xie Lian felt sad for him, “Then what did your mother used to call you?”
That young child was hesitant for a minute, then replied, “Hong Hong-Er.”*
Xie Lian smiled, “That’s a cute nickname. I’ll call you that from now on.”
Hong Hong-Er seemed to be shy whenever they talked, and lowered his head. Just then
the sun was about to set, and lights were ignited from each of the pavilions all over the
mountain. Among them, the brightest was of course the highest peak, the Great Martial
Atop the Great Martial Summit, within the Great Martial Hall, it was as bright as day, the
lights gathered like stars. Xie Lian sighed as he watched.
The sigh wasn’t borne of sadness, but from the scenery was that emanated such beauty
and glory. Every bit of light was an offered Everlasting Lamp within the hall. Each lamp
contained the prayers and wishes of each devout worshipper. The more Everlasting
Lamps there were within the temple of a god, the more powerful that god becomes. The
chance to offer a lamp within the Great Martial Hall of the Royal Holy Pavilion was
difficult to buy even with a thousand pieces of gold. Wealth, power, ability, passion,
affinity, there must be one of the five conditions fulfilled in order to enter the hall to offer
light. Yet, there were more in the world that had none of the five.
The four of them stopped, gazing upon the Great Martial Hall that shone like the sun,
their expressions dissimilar. Just then, there was a familiar voice that called out to them,
Xie Lian turned his head and saw a plain-looking young man hurrying towards him. It
looked like the trainee who guarded the entrance of the SiXiang Pavilion, and Xie Lian
schooled his expression, “Zhu-ShiXiong, what’s the hurry?”
Zhu-ShiXiong noticed Mu Qing standing behind, but felt awkward and spoke pretending
not to have seen him, “The Guoshi has been asking after you for a while now. He’s at
the Great Martial Hall waiting for you.”
Xie Lian was taken aback hearing this, but figured it must be in regards to the incident
during the Heavenly Ceremonial Procession the day before. “Very well. Thank you,
Xie Lian had Feng Xin and Mu Qing took Hong Hong-Er back to the Xianle Pavillon first
before heading towards the Great Martial Summit.
Outside the great hall, clouds borne from the incense vessel floated and wrapped
around the Great Martial Hall, forming a dream-like state. On either side of the vessel
were long rows of bright Everlasting Lamps hung in the air, neatly lined into a wall of
lanterns. Every Everlasting Lamp had on them the name and prayer of the worshipper
in elegant, decorous writing. Once in the hall, on either side of the wall were also rows
upon rows of hung Everlasting Lamps. The lamps offered within the Great Martial Hall
were of course, even more valuable than the ones outside.
In the gigantic, spacious temple, the Guoshi was offering incense before the statue of
the Martial Heavenly Emperor, and the three Deputy Guoshis were behind him,
uniformly prostrating before the great god.
Xie Lian inclined his head when he entered, “Guoshi.”
The Guoshis completed their ritual before they turned their heads back and made a
gesture for him to come forward. Thus, Xie Lian approached, took an incense and also
paid his respects in sincerity.
It was a moment before Guoshi finally spoke, “Your Highness, the four of us have
deliberated. In regards to the Heavenly Ceremonial Procession, there are but two ways
to resolve it.”
“Please do enlighten me, Guoshi.” Xie Lian said.
“The first method,” Guoshi said, “was to find the child who disrupted the procession, and
we shall conduct a ceremony. At the very least, one of his five senses must be sealed
●“Hong Hong-Er” means ‘My son, Reddie’ or just ’Little Red’. lol
Ch.67: To Ascend is Human; to Fall is Also Human 2
Xie Lian whipped up his head, “No.”
He then repeated with severity, “Definitely not.”
Guoshi nodded, “I had expected this response from you. So, we’ve put the weight of our
consideration on the second method.”
“Please enlighten me.” Xie Lian said solemnly.
“The second method,” Guoshi said, “Is to have Your Highness publicly repent before the
people of Xianle, ask the heavens for forgiveness, then face the wall in reflection for a
“Not possible.” Xie Lian said calmly.
Guoshi was taken aback, “We’re not really asking you to face the wall to reflect, you just
have to look like you ar… ahem.” He suddenly remembered they were before the statue
of the Heavenly Martial Emperor and immediately corrected himself, “As long as you are
sincere it will suffice.”
Still, Xie Lian responded with, “No.”
“And the reason?” Guoshi asked.
“Guoshi, when I descended the mountain today, do you know what I saw?” Xie Lian
said, “Not only did the people at the royal capital not condemn the accident that
happened during the Heavenly Ceremonial Procession, they very much approved of it.
This proves that the people of this kingdom all believe that the decision to save that
child was right.”
“If I were to do as you say, and be punished for something that was done right, what
would they think? Doesn’t this only tell everyone that to save a life, not only do we not
obtain fortuitous merits but instead we’d be punished for sins? How should they think or
act after that?”
“Whether if it’s right or wrong isn’t important.” Guoshi said. “Only that you must choose
between the two paths. Nothing is perfect in this world. Either that child shoulders this
blame, or you do.”
“Whether right or wrong is very important. If I must choose, then I choose the third
path.” Xie Lian replied.
Guoshi rubbed his forehead, “Um… Your Highness, excuse my boldness, but why do
you care how they think? Today they think such a way, tomorrow they’ll think another.
There’s no need for you to mind the small details, trust me, people will carry on doing
what they need to do, and will not be touched by your actions nor take you for an
example. It’s best if we focus on serving what’s above our heads.”
Xie Lian was silent for a moment then spoke, “Guoshi, ever since I’ve entered the Royal
Holy Pavilion to become a disciple here, the more I train, the more I’ve reflected, and
there’s actually something I’ve always thought but didn’t dare to speak of.”
“And what’s that?” Guoshi asked.
“Is it really right for us to worship and prostrate before the gods like this?”
Guoshi was speechless for a moment. “If they don’t worship the gods, then what are we
to do? Go homeless? What, Your Highness thinks that the thousands and millions of
devotees who come here to worship have the wrong beliefs?”
Xie Lian shook his head and chewed on his words. “The beliefs are not wrong. Only,
this disciple doesn’t think it right to prostrate.”
He raised his head and pointed to the golden, scintillating, glorious and large statue of
the Heavenly Martial Emperor, “When humans ascend they become gods. To humans,
gods are elders, are teachers, are the everlasting light, but they are not our masters. In
such regard, we should be full of thankfulness and also admiration, but never idol
worship. Just like how at the ShangYuan Heavenly Ceremonial Procession, the correct
attitude should be of thankfulness, of joy, and not of fear, not begging to please, not of
intimidation, and certainly not putting myself in a position of servitude.”
Guoshi remained poised and silent, but the other three Deputy Guoshis appeared to
have become restless, turning their heads back.
Xie Lian continued, “An accident happened, it couldn’t be helped. I am willing to offer a
thousand lamps to brighten long nights; like moths to flames, I’m not afraid. But I refuse
to bow my head for something I did right. Face the wall in reflection? What have I done
wrong? What has anyone done wrong? Just like how Qi Rong committed evil, but Feng
Xin who subdued the wrongdoer had to be punished: where’s logic in all this? If the
heavens have eyes, they would not convict me for this.”
Guoshi looked away, “Then, Your Highness, let me ask you. If the heavens really do
convict you? Will you apologize then?”
“If that should happen, then, the heavens are in the wrong. I am right. I will stand
against the heavens and defy until the end.”
Hearing this, Guoshi’s face changed slightly and smiled, “Your Highness, you’re pretty
brave to say such words.”
The other three Deputy Guoshis watched him, wanting to speak but stopped
themselves. Just then, a sudden huge alarm went off outside the hall, like the chiming of
multiple bells at once. The four Guoshis could no longer remain in their seats, and all
rushed up at the same time, running towards the back of the hall.
Xie Lian followed closely behind. They traversed through the many buildings behind the
the Great Martial Hall, and came before a black pagoda. The doors to that black pagoda
were open, and countless wisps of dark smoke were whooshing out.
The Guoshi let out a despairing scream, “WHERE’S ZHU AN??! WHERE THE HELL
DID HE GO! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!”
A number of trainee guards rushed over, the one leading was that Zhu-ShiXiong.
“Guoshi!! I’M HERE! I don’t know what happened, the door was locked but it suddenly
opened on its own!”
Guoshi pulled at his hair, “QUICKLY! BRING ME A NEW SOUL-SEALING JAR!”
Xie Lian rushed straight inside. Within that black pagoda, the walls were covered in
lattice sandalwood panels of varying sizes and shapes, stacked unevenly atop each
other, and within each panel were various clay jars, porcelain vases, jaded boxes, etc.
Each of those containers were originally securely placed, the red cover stoppers stuffed
firmly in place, the openings sealed with yellow talisman with crimson spells, but now
many were shattered, and many more continued to drop off the shelves themselves,
and those not yet fallen were all swaying and vibrating.
Those soul-sealing containers each had a demon or ghost who once caused havoc
sealed within, and such a black pagoda existed in every single temple of Mount
Taicang, purposely utilizing the clean, saintly essense to keep them represed. However,
something happened that caused this sudden insurgence, and they’ve all escaped!
“It’s too late!” Xie Lian shouted.
He immediately kicked the doors close. The steel lock that originally chained up the
door had been broken by the resentful spirits, so Xie Lian unsheathed his sword, used
the tip and drew out some characters, then plunged it down. He brought over two
hundred swords with him when he entered the mountain, and he’d switch the one
carried on his person almost everyday, and each was an incomparable, singular
treasured sword. That sword, having slantily plugged into the ground, sealed the door
shut, and only the sounds of resentful spirits within rioting and roaring could be heard.
Once they left the black pagoda, they looked up and atop each of the summits, all the
black pagodas behind each temple were filled with black clouds, and all the resentful
spirits were rushing to the sky, flying towards a certain direction that was now heavy
“What’s over there? Why are they all flying over there?” Zhu An asked.
Guoshi yelled, “ARE YOU DUMB?! THAT’S THE XIANLE PAVILION!”
The group ran like the wind, and in the blink of an eye, arrived that the Xianle Summit.
On top of Mount Taicang, heavy, thick smoke emerged from countless temples across
innumerous peaks rolled over to barrage, and formed an enormous swirl above the
“What’s going on in that Xianle Pavilion of yours?! All the demons and ghosts are being
lured over, what exactly did you put inside?” Guoshi demanded.
Xie Lian was bewildered too, “Nothing! Just…”
Just what? Xie Lian suddenly remembered: that small child!
Just then, Zhu-ShiXiong cried, “Guoshi, this is bad! His Highness’ place is on fire!”
Sure enough, a corner of the Xianle Pavillon was alight, flames bursting towards the
sky, reflecting dark crimson in the black clouds above. Yet, at the foot of Mount Taicang,
all those in the royal capital who hadn’t gone to bed had no idea what was going on
when they witnessed the scene from afar, and were excitedly dragging others to watch
in awe: “Wow! The great immortals on the godly mountain are conducting a ceremony!
What a show!”
Soon, the group of them arrived at the Xianle Pavilion. Xie Lian didn’t keep too many
servants, and so a number of cultivators from the other summits had rushed over,
desperately drawing well water trying to put out the fires. Xie Lian didn’t see his two
attendants, and immediately rushed inside. All the resentful spirits of the entire Mount
Taicang had been gathered there, the Xianle Pavillon was completely pitch black inside,
nothing could be seen. Xie Lian sensed two silhouettes within the main hall and yelled,
“FENG XIN! MU QING!”
The two had drawn a protection array so as to not let the evil spirits invade, holding on
but just barely. Sure enough, Feng Xin’s voice rang, “YOUR HIGHNESS, DON’T COME
IN! THIS CHILD IS STRANGE, ALL THOSE SPIRITS WERE COMING FOR HIM!”
Only then did Xie Lian notice that behind the two silhouettes were another small
shadow, seemingly to be kneeling on the floor, his head in his hands. He screamed,
“IT’S NOT ME!!!”
After observing them for a moment, Xie Lian shouted, “Stop holding on. Let it go!”
Mu Qing cried back, “We can’t let go! If we do, those things will go crazy! Let me find
the most –”
Xie Lian cut him off, “NO FEAR. LET GO. NOW!”
Mu Qing gritted his teeth, and dropped his hands with Feng Xin at the same time. Sure
enough, with the restraints off, those resentful spirits screeched and started going
However, in the next second, Xie Lian reached out, lightning fast, and choked a
particular wisp of black smoke.
He didn’t even look, and grabbed that black smoke with his bare hands, holding in his
palm firmly. The moment he caught that one resentful spirit, all the crazed swarm of
resentful spirits within the Xianle Pavilion slowed down.
Outside, everyone silently nodded.
In a situation where a large swarm of resentful spirits gathered in the same place, they
would usually follow the lead of the strongest one. Once that one is caught, without a
leader, the spirits would lose direction. At that moment, Xie Lian immediately recognized
the strongest one and choked it, not giving it any chance, and with only a squeeze, that
one resentful spirit disintegrated into nothing in his palm.
Immediately after, the four Guoshis raised their sleeves and called out, “Come back!”
That swarm of resentful spirits having lost its leader flew haphazardly around the Xianle
Pavilion like headless flies until finally they had no choice but to give up, and reluctantly
returned to the seal within the Guoshis’ sleeves. The other cultivators continued to put
out the remaining fires, and only until the heavy smoke had gradually dispersed did Xie
Lian see clearly the figures of the other three.
Feng Xin and Mu Qing were half kneeled on the floor, still in shock. Behind them, that
child was still holding his head, uttering not a word. The Guoshis entered and spoke
after only a look, “Where did that child come from? Feng Xin said all the resentful spirits
were going after him? What’s going on?”
“That’s the child who had fallen from the city wall during the ShangYuan Heavenly
The Guoshis were taken aback. Guoshi demanded, “Why did you bring him here?”
Xie Lian shook his head, not wanting to explain, and instead asked Feng Xin, “What did
he do to attract all the resentful spirits of the black pagodas?”
One of Feng Xin’s arms was still in a sling, and he rose to his feet, “I don’t know what he
did! But once he entered the mountain, soon after coming inside the Xianle Pavilion, all
those black things suddenly flew over from all over the peaks and broke in, swarming
around him, gathering more by the minute, and we couldn’t get out.”
Xie Lian looked around at the walls and pillars burnt to crisps inside the pavilion, “Then
what’s with the fire?”
Mu Qing, whose face was covered in soot, said, “We couldn’t leave so we had to draw
an array to defend. Those resentful spirits kindled the candlelight and burnt the curtains,
hoping to force us out.”
“Thank goodness Your Highness came swiftly and immediately seized their vitals!
Otherwise if it kept burning we’ll all be dead along with the array!”
Hearing his words, Mu Qing closed his eyes and lowered his head. On the side, the
Guoshis had already surrounded that young child, observing him closely.
“Guoshi, is there anything the matter with that child?”
If there was anything the matter, such as being possessed by ghosts, Xie Lian should’ve
been able to recognize it immediately. After having trained at the Royal Holy Pavilion for
a number of years, he had worked on his sight especially, and very few things could
deceive his eyes. Yet he couldn’t see anything off with this child. The Guoshi shook his
head, seeming to have seen nothing either, and asked, “What’s your birth date, month,
year, and time?”
Hong Hong-Er seemed to be guarded against everyone, tensed with hostility, and would
only stare at him, not speaking. Xie Lian encouraged gently, “Just tell him. Guoshi only
wants to tell your fortune for your own good.”
The moment he spoke, Hong Hong-Er obediently told the time of his birth in a low voice.
Guoshi knitted his brows and started calculating with his fingers. The people around
watched him, talking in low voices, and saw his expression grow dimmer and dimmer.
Xie Lian watched, and became more and more solemn too.
Guoshi looked to be no more than a tender thirty-something young man, but Xie Lian
knew better than most just how powerful his teacher was to be able to rule over the
Royal Holy Pavilion. The number one Guoshi of Xianle Mei Nianqin was famed
throughout the land for his fortune telling. Xie Lian learned the art of the sword and of
spells from the Deputy Guoshis, but never learned the art of fortune telling from the
Guoshi himself, only because Guoshi told him it’s an art of the streets, the golden
stature of Crown Prince had no need for such tricks. Plus Xie Lian himself wasn’t
interested, so he never tried. However, whenever Guoshi worked his art, there were
A while later, more and more cold sweat was rolling down the forehead of Guoshi, and
he mumbled, “No wonder… no wonder… no wonder he ruined the Heavenly
Ceremonial Procession; that the spirits of the black pagodas grew excited from sensing
him; that the Xianle Pavilion was burnt too… This… This… This is truly…”
“Truly what?” Xie Lian asked.
Guoshi wiped his sweat and suddenly backed a meter away, “Your Highness, you really
picked up something you shouldn’t have up the mountain! That small child is toxic! His
sign is borne of the most ominous star, the Star of Solitude*, destined to bring
misfortune and destruction, the kind that evil loves the most. Whoever touches him will
have misfortune befall upon them, whoever gets close will lose their lives!”
Before he even finished, there was a loud scream, and Hong Hong-Er leapt to his feet,
running towards Guoshi to headbutt him.
His voice was tender, but his screams were filled with rage, as if his heart was filled to
the brim with unspeakable pain and anguish, making many shiver. That young child was
covered in injuries, yet he yanked and struck like a red-eyed rabid dog, violent and
aggressive. The Deputy Guoshis blocked Hong Hong-Er and Guoshi backed away,
yelling, “MAKE HIM LEAVE THE MOUNTAIN, HURRY! Don’t touch him, I mean it! That
fortune is too toxic, don’t touch him!”
The Deputy Guoshis hurriedly moved aside, and Mu Qing and Feng Xin didn’t know
whether to act. Seeing that everyone was avoiding him like he was a poisonous snake,
that child was shaken and started thrashing even harder, biting and screaming, “I’m not!
I’M NOT!! I’M NOT!!!!”
Suddenly, a pair of arms wrapped him around the waist, encircling his small form. A
voice came from above his head, “You’re not. I know you’re not. Don’t cry, now. I know
That young child pressed his lips closed tightly, grabbing on to that pair of snow-white
sleeves around his waist with a death grip, forced himself to hold back for a long time
but in the end he still couldn’t. A stream of tears suddenly rolled down from that round,
black eye, and he burst out crying.
Xie Lian embraced him from behind and reiterated firmly, “It not you. It’s not your fault.”
●[天煞孤星] The Star of Solitude - People with this sign in fortune are said to bring
the greatest misfortune to those around them, while they themselves are fine,
which is why it’s called the Star of Solitude. This sign can be nullified with the
meeting of a saviour.
On a separate note, Sha Po Lang is the other great sign of misfortune along with
the Star of Solitude, and the two signs are the most unfortunate in Chinese
Ch.68: To Ascend is Human; to Fall is Also Human 3
Hong Hong-Er whipped around, stuffed his face in Xie Lian’s chest and wailed.
This wailing contained no words, utterly meaningless, and nothing like the sound of
sobbing but nevertheless hair-raisingly dreadful. Without looking at who it was, it would
sound like the desperate cries of a full grown man breaking down, or the struggling of a
small beast with its throat cut open by a knife, as if only by immediate death could he be
relieved. Anyone can make such a sound, it just shouldn’t be coming from a child of ten
years. Everyone was shaken.
A moment later, Guoshi said, “I mean it. It’s best to let go.”
Feng Xin finally came to and yelled, “Your Highness! Let go! Be careful of…” But in the
end he didn’t have the heart to continue.
“It’s fine.” Xie Lian said.
That Zhu-ShiXiong however, was quite concerned for His Highness’ welfare, and saw
that Hong Hong-Er was smearing blood and snot all over Xie Lian’s white robes so he
ran over to pull at that young child, berating, “Little kid, you can’t!”
Yet the harder he pulled, the harder that young child held on to Xie Lian, refusing to let
go no matter what, using both his hands and feet to grip on, screaming “AAHHH”. Three
to four more people came forward to try and rip him off but instead that made him hang
on to Xie Lian like a little monkey. Xie Lian found it both funny and pitiful, and held Hong
Hong-Er with one hand, gently rubbing up and down that emaciated small back in
comfort, while raising the other hand, “Nevermind. Don’t worry, let him be.”
Some moments later, after feeling that the child in his arms stopped struggling and
quieted down, Xie Lian asked the people closeby in a low whisper, “Was anyone else
hurt in the Xianle Pavilion fire?”
“No.” Mu Qing replied, “There were only us inside at the time.”
As the Xianle Pavillon was burnt to a crisp, Xie Lian could no longer stay. After making
sure that it was only the building that was burnt and not any of the people, those who
came to help put out the fires started to help clean up the vicinity, feeling rather
distraught at all the charred precious gems and treasures. Xie Lian wasn’t concerned,
The things he used daily were a little more intricate, but other than that Xie Lian didn’t
really have anything of importance stored inside the Xianle Pavilion. The most precious
items were his collection of over two hundred treasured swords, but they were made of
durable metals unafraid of fires, since they were all forged in flames anyway, so they
were all unharmed. After having dug them out himself, Xie Lian stored them temporarily
at the SiXiang Pavilion that belonged to the Guoshis.
As for Hong Hong-Er, he was still firmly holding on to Xie Lian, and after having cried
himself to exhaustion, fell asleep. Xie Lian had wanted to bring him down Mount
Taicang to find a safe place to settle him, but the Guoshi asked him to make a visit to
the SiXiang Pavilion first, so Xie Lian carried the child over too.
Tucking that young child in the divan, righting the covers, Xie Lian dropped the bedside
curtain and backed out of the room with Feng Xin and Mu Qing in tow. “Guoshi, is that
child’s fate really that terrifying?”
The Guoshi pursed his lips, “Why don’t you think for yourself, after he’s appeared,
what’s all happened?”
The three were quiet. The moment that young child appeared he’d fallen off the city wall
before the eyes of millions, forcing the ShangYuan Heavenly Ceremonial Procession to
cut short after having only made three rounds. When he appeared again, Qi Rong was
dragging him through the streets in that horse carriage in rage, causing a riot, made
Feng Xin break an arm, and Xie Lian butted heads with the king, making the queen roll
tears. This time, all the resentful spirits of Mount Taicang broke out of their seals within
the black pagodas and even burnt down the Xianle Pavilion. Misfortune was indeed
following after him like a shadow.
“Is there any way to break this?” Xie Lian asked.
“Break this?” The Guoshi said, “What do you mean? Change his fate?”
Xie Lian nodded. The Guoshi said, “Your Highness, you haven’t learned the art of
fortune telling from me, so when it comes to matters like these, you really don’t
understand anything. If you did, you wouldn’t have asked.”
Xie Lian was taken aback and sat himself up straight. “Please enlighten me.”
The Guoshi thus took the teapot on the table and poured a cup, “Your Highness, do you
still remember that day when you just turned six, when his majesty and the queen bade
me to enter the palace to tell your fortune, that one question I asked you?”
Watching that steaming cup of tea, Xie Lian pondered, “Did you mean, the two people
and the cup of water?”
That year, the Guoshi had asked Xie Lian many questions in order to help tell his
fortune. There were questions with answers, and ones without, and with every answer
Xie Lian gave the Guoshi would change ways to praise the boy, making the king and
queen smile with pleasure, and many exchanges from that conversation were later
passed around as delightful stories. But there was one question to which when Xie Lian
answered, the Guoshi made no commentary.Very few knew of the details, not even
Feng Xin, nevermind Mu Qing. That question was “Two People and a Cup of Water”.
The Guoshi spoke, “Two walked the desert, about to die from thirst, and there was only
one cup of water. The one who drinks lives, the one who doesn’t, dies. If you were a
god, who would you give that cup of water to? – Don’t speak yet, I’ll ask the other two
and see how they answer.”
The last part of his words were directed to the two standing not too far behind. Mu Qing
contemplated and responded cautiously, “May I ask who those two people are, what
their natures are like, and what of their merits? A decision can only be made once all
the details are known.”
Feng Xin on the other hand, answered, “I don’t know! Don’t ask me, tell them to decide
Xie Lian “pff”-ed and laughed. Guoshi admonished, “What are you laughing about? Do
you remember how you answered?”
Xie Lian schooled his expression and said solemnly, “Give another cup.”
Hearing this, between Feng Xin and Mu Qing, one twisted his expression, the other
lowered his head, as if they couldn’t bear to listen. Xie Lian turned his head back and
said in all seriousness, “Why are you guys laughing? I’m serious. If I was god, I would
definitely give another cup.”
The Guoshi gently shook that cup of tea in his hand, and the tea swirled in the cup, as if
alive. He continued, “All the fortunes in the world, good or bad, are limited. Just like this
cup of water, there’s only so much. Once you’ve drunken your fill, there’d be no more
left for others. If one receives more, the other must receive less. Throughout the ages,
all conflicts are borne from the fact that there are many in this world, but only one cup of
water, and no matter who it’s given to there’d be a good reason. You want to change
fate? It’s difficult but not impossible. But if you change that child’s life, someone else’s
life will also be changed, and more grudges shall be created. Once upon a time you
said to just give another cup of water, just like today how you wanted to choose a third
path. Your intention is to expand the source; a beautiful thought. But, I will tell you, it’s
Xie Lian listened silently but disagreed wholeheartedly, still he didn’t rebut. “Thank you,
Guoshi, for your wisdom.”
The Guoshi drank that tea, smacked his lips and said, “Don’t trouble yourself. Wisdom
or not you don’t listen anyway.”
“…” Having been seen through, Xie Lian softly cleared his throat. “Guoshi, earlier today
before the Great Martial Hall, in a moment of passion, this disciple has offended you.
Please forgive me for my affront.”
The Guoshi shook out his sleeves and smiled, “You’re my proud disciple, and the Crown
Prince, how can I not forgive you? Your Highness, I can tell you that you are the most
beloved by the heavens I’ve ever seen.”
Xie Lian didn’t understand, so he listened closely. The Guoshi continued, “You have the
talent, the ambition, the heart, and you’re not afraid of hard work. You have a
prestigious background yet a compassionate nature. No one is more suited for the title
“Darling of the Heavens”. Still, I am worried about you. I’m afraid there will be a trial you
won’t be able to pass.”
“And that is?” Xie Lian asked.
“Although you’ve already achieved such a high level, there are some things you are still
far from understanding, and others can’t teach you. Just like how today at the Great
Martial Hall, that speech you made, that bit about not worshipping god or something,
although very few were able to think that far, that you were able to reach such thoughts
at such a young age is already impressive. However, do not think yourself the only one
who have had such thoughts in the world.”
Xie Lian’s eyes widened slightly. The Guoshi continued, “The things you spoke of today
were already spoken by others decades, maybe centuries ago, but their words never
took form; their voices were too small, so not many heard. Have you ever wondered
why that is?”
Xie Lian hummed and replied, “Because even if they thought of it, they never acted on
it, and weren’t determined enough.”
“And you? What makes you think you’re determined enough?” The Guoshi asked.
“Guoshi, do you think I can ascend?” Xie Lian asked.
The Guoshi gave him a look and said, “If you can’t ascend then no one can. It’s only a
matter of time.”
Xie Lian smiled, “Then, just you watch.” He pointed to the sky, “If one day I ascend, I will
for sure do all that I said today, and become a power to behold!”
Feng Xin and Mu Qing, who were standing behind him, having heard his declaration,
both unconsciously held their heads higher. Feng Xin’s lips curved upward, and the light
shining in Mu Qing’s eyes were exactly the same as Xie Lian’s. The Guoshi nodded,
“Very well, I shall wait and see – however, I don’t think it’s a good thing for you to
ascend too early. Let me ask you, what is The Path?”
Xie Lian inclined his head, “As you have said, that which is walked is The Path.”
“That’s correct.” The Guoshi said, “But, you haven’t walked enough. So, I think it’s time
for you to take a walk down the mountain.”
Xie Lian face lit up. The Guoshi continued, “You’re seventeen this year. I will permit you
to descend Mount Taicang, and gain some experience through travels on the outside.”
“That’s excellent!” Xie Lian exclaimed.
Every day spent at the royal capital, just thinking about the king, Qi Rong, and many
others, Xie Lian couldn’t help but feel crabby. Plus, having such a glamourous Xianle
Pavillon be torched, he wouldn’t be able to avoid another bout with his parents. If he
could go further away, he could focus on walking his own path.
Just then, the Guoshi added, “Your Highness, throughout the ages there’s been a
saying that’s passed down like it’s the ultimate truth, but it’s actually wrong, only no one
had ever noticed.”
“When humans ascend, they become gods; when humans fall, they become ghosts.”
Xie Lian gave it a thought, “Is there something wrong with that?”
The Guoshi replied, “Of course it’s wrong. Remember: When humans ascend, they are
still human; when they fall, they are still, human.”
Xie Lian chewed on those words and the Guoshi patted him on the shoulder and
glanced behind, “In any case, as for that child… Don’t let it worry you too much.
Everyone has their fate. Many times there won’t be a way to help just because you want
to help. If anything happens, we’ll deal with it then. Go out and experience the world. I
pray that when you return you will have matured.”
However, that very night, outside everyone’s expectations, that child escaped from the
Royal Holy Pavilion and disappeared.
And what was even more outside of everyone’s expectations, after his travels, at the
age of seventeen, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Xianle Xie Lian soundly defeated
a nameless ghost at the Yi Nian Bridge, and just like that, he ascended to the heavens
amidst the roars of thunder and lightning.
It was the shock of the three realms.
●Suika Notes on Ascension: The idea of Ascension is a Taoist one.
The basic gist of it is: All gods and immortals are mortals and other beings who
cultivated deeply and attained enlightenment. Their bodies are shed the troubles
of a mortal body, and is removed from the corporeal world. ’Heaven’ is only an
imperial court for the enlightened ones, and other than the administrative ones
like the Jade Emperor, etc, many watched and protected over an aspect of the
celestial and mortal realm, eg. love, marriage, a piece of land, etc. There are also
carefree immortals who’d just wander the world and help mortals as they go, or
hermit deep in the mountains.
However, there is a formless will (Dao) of the universe that guides the world’s
destinies. Thus, things like fate and such are beyond a god’s ability. It’s the will of
the universe that deems when a mortal is fit for ascension, and will send forth a
‘heavenly calamity’, usually a blast of thunder and lightning, to test the mortal. If
the mortal passes, they ascend to become a god.
There are three different levels of godhood:
- the lowest level is godhood after death
- the mid level is godhood after living on earth for an insane number of years
- the top level is ascension in broad daylight, before the eyes of all.
For the top tier, the will of the universe usually picks those who have done deeds
so great they have shocked the wheel of fortune, or have the potential to change
the course of history. It’s amoral; the question of whether the deed is right or
wrong is not figured into this, which is why earlier in the book, MXTX said there’s
usually a lot of bloodshed involved.
Tl;dr: Xie Lian attained enlightenment and shed his mortal body. He did not die.
Everyone knew because of the thunder and lightning.
Ch.69: Fishing for Offerings; Boor Meets Crown Prince
Along with the strong, spirited call, an enormous red brocade fell to the ground. A
roaring cheer exploded from the crowd of thousands.
This was a golden divine statue of the Crown Prince. A sword in one hand, a flower in
the other, symbolizing ‘The power to end the world but with a heart as gentle as the
flower’. The face of that statue was soft and beautiful, the brows long and elegant, lips
thin and clean, slightly curved, as if smiling. Affectionate but not coquettish, fierce but
not heartless. It was a compassionate and handsome face.
This was the eight thousandth Temple of the Crown Prince within the Kingdom of
Three years after ascension, there were eight thousand temples raised in his name.
Such a passionate following was unseen in history and likely would not have anymore
like it in the future; the one and only.
However, this eight thousandth temple didn’t have the most glamourous divine statue of
the Crown Prince. Atop Mount Taicang, the summit where the Crown Prince resided in
his youth during training was renamed ‘The Crown Prince Summit’. It was where the
first Xianle Pavilion was built. Once the first divine statue of the Crown Prince was
sculpted, it was also there where the king personally unveiled it. That divine statue of
the Crown Prince was five meters high, its craftsmanship legendary. It was built of pure,
solid gold, truly an invaluable ‘golden body’.
Within the Xianle Pavillon, devotees were endless, breaking through the threshold. The
incense vessel before the Pavilion were stuffed with incense long and short, and the
donation box was also much bigger than the average donation boxes in other temples
because if it wasn’t built big enough, it would be full of offerings before the day’s over
and those who come after wouldn’t be able to donate. In the courtyard of the temple
was a clear pond, also filled with coins, shimmering brightly in the water. Many of the
turtles residing in the ponds didn’t dare to peep their heads out anymore from all the
coins that were thrown by the devotees, many bouncing off their shells. No matter how
the cultivators asked the people not to do so they were fruitless. Within the massive red
walls of the temple were planted full of plum trees, the branches tied with countless
bright red ribbons of wishes, painting an impressive scenery of flowing red amongst a
sea of blossoms.
As for the interior of the temple, Xie Lian was seated just below his divine statue,
watching over the crowd. No one could see him but he could see and hear their chatter:
“How come the Temple of the Crown Prince doesn’t have prostration cushions?”
“Yea, even the Temple Master said we can’t prostrate. The temple’s already unveiled so
why can’t we prostrate?”
Another said, “This must be your first time at the Xianle Pavilion. The Xianle Pavilions
are all like this. I hear after his royal highness ascended, he sent dreams to many
temple donors, to the Temple Master, telling them not to have the devotees prostrate.
So, none of the Temples of the Crown Prince have anywhere you can prostrate.”
Although no one could see him, Xie Lian still nodded his head. However, a few others
laughed, “What’s the logic in that? Aren’t we meant to prostrate before gods? That
must’ve been a rumour.”
Xie Lian “eh”-ed, another added, “That’s right! We must kneel! Only kneeling can show
Thus, one took the lead and knelt down, and soon after, a large number of others
followed suit and knelt down on the ground. Hundreds and thousands of people
squished inside and outside of the great hall and started kowtowing before the divine
statue, their forms rising and falling, muttering and silently praying for blessings. Xie
Lian quietly hid, ‘Nevermind, we’ll take it slowly.’
The next moment, a large wave of noise came at him from all around.
“Achieve a high rank! A high rank! This year I must achieve a high rank! If I obtain it I
will return my gratitude!”
“Pray for safe passages!”
“The girl I like likes my shixiong, please make him uglier, please I beg you.”
“I won’t believe I still can’t give birth to a fucking chubby brat!!!”
…There were all kinds of prayers, Xie Lian was getting a headache just listening, and
hurriedly casted a spell, blocking out those endless voices. His earside only just quieted
down when there was yelling, and a man clad in black came running out from the back
of the pavilion, his hands covering his ears. He roared, “WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE
The devotees also didn’t sense the appearance of this man and continued kowtowing.
Xie Lian breathed a sigh, patted his shoulder and laughed, “Feng Xin, thanks for your
Such an exuberant Xianle Pavilion, the number of prayers that Xie Lian could hear
every day exceeded thousands. At first, he was filled with the energy brought forth by
the new position, had little care whether if the matters were big or small, and worked
through them personally. After a while, there were really way too many prayers, so he’d
split off a block and gave them to Feng Xin and Mu Qing. What were within his duties
and what could be ignored, after filtering through the prayers the two would pass over
the important matters back to him.
After filtering through the prayers Mu Qing would report back without ever a complaint,
but Feng Xin on the other hand, just couldn’t understand why there were so many who’d
blindly pray over petty business, even blessings for harmonious bedchamber matters
were brought to the Xianle Pavilion. Xie Lian is a martial god and certainly couldn’t take
care of such things. This kept up and offended other heavenly officials too, blaming
them for taking matters they had no control over, taking devotees they had no business
to take, to which Xie Lian couldn’t rebut.
Feng Xin still had his hands covering his ears, even if that gesture did nothing. “Your
Highness, why do you have so many female devotees?”
Xie Lian shook out his sleeves and remained seated within the clouds of incense,
smiling, “What’s wrong with having so many female devotees? Beauties like clouds,
pleasing to the eyes.”
Feng Xin dropped his face, “Not good at all. It’s like those female devotees had no other
prayers than wishing to look nicer, marry nicer, give birth to a nice son. Nothing of
importance, just looking at them gives me a headache!”
Xie Lian grinned and was about to continue when suddenly there was a commotion
among the crowds. The two looked to the outside the hall and heard someone speak
with a low voice, “Prince Xiao Jing has come, let’s get out of here! Prince Xiao Jing is
Hearing “Prince Xiao Jing”, it was like everyone heard “The Devil”. All dropped their
faces and dispersed like birds. A moment later, it was as if a tornado blew by, and all the
devotees who were in the hall escaped. Soon after, a young man dressed in lavish
brocade and a cape crossed the threshold swaggering, a glass gem lamp in his hands.
Without looking at his eyes, his face resembled that of Xie Lian, but seeing the eyes,
one would think him overly cocky. It was none other than Qi Rong.
Qi Rong had reached the age of seventeen-eighteen by now, his face broadened, his
disposition much more mature, and finally had an air of nobility. He entered through the
doors but didn’t allow any of his attendants to come in. He held that lamp with both his
hands and knelt down on the clean floors of the hall, his cape fluttering down. He raised
the lamp to his forehead and solemnly prostrated. The two on top of the altar shared a
look. Feng Xin smacked his lips and Xie Lian understood the annoyance in his eyes.
Three years ago when Xie Lian first left the royal capital to travel the world, Qi Rong
was still in detention. After his return, he hadn’t yet had the chance to see his little
cousin before he soundly ascended that very night in his sleep. Within those three
years, Xie Lian sent a number of dreams to his parents, to the Guoshi, and a few
others. He sent one to Qi Rong once, admonishing him to be kind to others from then
on, to keep his behaviour in check and not to cause trouble. Thus, Qi Rong had been
doing his utmost to build temples everywhere, offering donations and lamps for good
Although he worked hard, sincere to the bones, but he would still stir up trouble every
now and then, and it would be Feng Xin who had to go clean up after him. Because of
this, Xie Lian could understand Feng Xin’s annoyance.
On the floor, Qi Rong finished paying his respects and started whining, “Cousin Crown
Prince, this is the five hundredth lamp I’ve offered. I’m such a loyal little brother, when
will you come see me? Even a dream is fine. Uncle and auntie both miss you dearly but
you only ignore us. Truly high and mighty and cold.”
He did not notice at all that Feng Xin was right there, reminding Xie Lian, “Don’t pay
attention to him. The Heavenly Emperor had told you that unless it’s a matter of
importance, heavenly officials are not allowed to show themselves privately before
mortals. Families must be avoided.”
“Don’t worry, I know.” Xie Lian said.
Qi Rong rose to his feet holding that lamp, reached for a brush and started writing on
that lamp with his head lowered. Xie Lian and Feng Xin felt bad so they approached to
see what he was writing. Seeing that it was something normal like ‘Pray for the
country’s prosperity and blessed climate’ etc., and not praying for some family to be
beheaded before the marketplace or some such, the two breathed a sigh. Watching Qi
Rong write so carefully and properly, Xie Lian was reminded of something.
When Qi Rong first returned to the palace with his mother, there was once a group of
royals and nobles mounted Mount Taicang to pray for blessings. Qi Rong’s mother was
a returnee after having eloped with a lowly peasant and didn’t dare to see anyone, but
she always wanted blessings for her son, have him experience the world, and not
stuffed inside like herself turning into an ignorant nobody, so she begged the queen to
bring Qi Rong along.
Although it was already kept fairly low-key, but a royal scandal went around faster than
an arrow, and there wasn’t anyone in the royal capital who didn’t know what happened
to that pair of mother and son. Thus, along the way, many sons of nobles purposely left
Qi Rong out, not playing with or talking to him. Xie Lian saw a swingset and ran over to
play, and all the children of the same age ran after him, taking turns to push the Crown
Prince on the swings, taking it as an honourable task. When Xie Lian was swung to the
highest point, he subconsciously looked down and saw Qi Rong hiding behind his
mother’s shadow, a head peeking out, watching him with envy.
Once they reached the Great Martial Hall, the grown ups, after having offered lights,
moved to beg the Guoshi for fortunes, for deciphering their fortunes, and conversed
amongst themselves, leaving the children within the hall to offer up small lamps for play.
It was Qi Rong’s first time meeting the queen and did not know she had already offered
a light in his and his mother’s name. He saw how beautiful the lamps were and wanted
to offer one up for blessings too. He was young and didn’t understand much, so he
asked all those around how to write words of prayer for his mother. The children from Qi
Rong’s branch of the family already detested him, under the influence from their elders,
they all thought that mother and son had shamed the family so they intentionally tricked
When Xie Lian finished writing on his lamp and put down the brush, he heard malicious
giggling from behind, and when he turned his head, he saw Qi Rong with his hands
covered in ink, held a lamp like a precious treasure, his face full of smiles, about to offer
the light. Yet on that lamp, the words “Pray My Mother and I Pass Away to the Heavens,
Qi Rong’ were written in ugly scribbles.
Xie Lian broke that lamp on the spot, furious and outraged.
He wasn’t very old at the time, but all the noble young men and children were terrified,
prostrating on the ground, afraid to speak. After containing himself, Xie Lian personally
rewrote prayers on a new lamp for Qi Rong, and no one dared play any tricks after that.
Later when they descended the mountain Xie Lian went to swing on the swings again.
This time, Qi Rong emerged from behind the queen and pushed him. He was shorter
than Xie Lian, but he pushed especially enthusiastically, still gazing at him from below,
only this gaze had changed into one of worship. After that, he became Xie Lian’s tail,
wagging behind his ‘cousin Crown Prince’.
It must be said that Qi Rong had once been somewhat normal, but somehow had
become more and more off the track along the way. However in those three years, there
were too many people and too many matters Xie Lian must care for, and had no time for
relations of old, and certainly didn’t know whether if Qi Rong had matured.
Whilst he was still reminiscing, Qi Rong had already offered his light and was getting
ready to leave the hall. Unexpected, as he backed away, he bumped into another. Qi
Rong staggered then whipped around, and started cussing without even seeing who it
was, “WHAT THE HELL? ARE YOU BLIND OR DID YOU DIE ON THE SPOT
FORGETTING TO MOVE?”
The moment he opened his mouth Xie Lian and Feng Xin both covered their faces,
thinking: ‘He hasn’t changed at all, still the same!’
Maybe it was because he lived with his father until he was five, and couldn’t help but be
influenced by the rowdy market environment and his father’s violent temper, but even
after when the queen patiently tried to educate Qi Rong, the moment he gets agitated,
by the Guoshi’s words, he’d ‘reveal his true form’.
The one who bumped into Qi Rong was an unkempt young man, of twenty-four or five
years, carrying a simple satchel, his straw slippers so worn it was almost rimless and
baseless, covered in dust. However, even though this young man was wan and sallow,
his lips dried and cracking, his form slumping, his face was bright, thin but not weak,
and his eyes were shining bright.
“What is this place?” He asked.
“This is the Xianle Pavilion, the Temple of the Crown Prince!” Qi Rong replied.
That man started mumbling, “Temple of the Crown Prince? Crown Prince? So this is the
palace?” He saw the divine statue inside, the gold reflecting on his face, and he asked
again, “Is that gold?”
Seeing how glamourous the pavilion was, he had taken the temple as the royal palace.
A guard approached to chase him away and Qi Rong said, “Of course it’s gold. The
Temple of the Crown Prince is a temple, not the pavilion at the imperial palace! You
don’t even know where you are, where did you barbarian come from?”
“Then where’s the palace?” That man asked.
Qi Rong squinted his eyes, “Why do you ask?”
That man replied in a serious tone, “I need to go to the palace and see the king. I have
something to tell him.”
Qi Rong and the guards burst out laughing, their expressions condescending, “Where
did this country bumpkin come from? You want to do what at the palace? Want to see
the king? Is he someone you can see just because you want to? They probably won’t
even let you through the gates when you get there.”
That man didn’t seem to be affected by the taunt, “I’ll go try. Maybe it’ll work.”
Qi Rong laughed, “Then go try!” Then he raised his hand and purposely pointed in the
“Thanks.” That man said, adjusted his satchel, then turned to walk out of the hall. When
he reached the stone bridge, he suddenly stopped in his step. Through the clear pond
water, layers upon layers of coins could be seen sunken below.
That young man seemed to have pondered for a moment and the next second, he leapt
over the bridge railing and jumped into the pond.
He was agile and skilled; once in the pond, he bent down and started fishing up bundles
and bundles of coins, stuffing them into the satchel in his arms. Since they had never
seen anyone who dared rob the offerings of a god, Xie Lian and Feng Xin were both
stunned. Qi Rong was also taken aback and immediately erupted in anger, rushing to
the bridge and slapped at the railing, yelling, “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT ARE YOU
DOING?! SOMEONE PULL HIM OUT!!! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!!!”
A number of guards immediately jumped into the water to pull that young man out, but
unexpectedly, he was also quite skilled, throwing punches and kicks, not letting anyone
close. Qi Rong was jumping up and down in rage, and none of the cultivators in the yard
could do anything. That young man fished up a bag full and heavy with coins, carried
his satchel anew and was ready to climb ashore but accidentally stepped on moss, his
feet slipped, and fell back into the waters in a large splash. The guards thus took this
chance to seize him, wrangling him back ashore. Qi Rong raised his leg to stomp,
yelling, “YOU DARE STEAL THIS MONEY!”
When Qi Rong raised his leg, Feng Xin was already standing on the side, catching the
right moment and blocked, so it looked like Qi Rong’s stomp was vicious but it actually
landed lightly. Although Qi Rong couldn’t see the one playing tricks, he still felt
something was off, like a ghost clinging to his leg. He kicked a number of times and it
was the same feeling, making him feel rather lousy.
That young man seemed to have choked on water and coughed a few times, “That
money was just lying there in the pond, why can’t I use it to save people?”
Qi Rong, unsatisfied by his kicks, finally stopped from irritation, “Save who? Who are
you? Where’d you come from?”
He only asked so he could sentence that young man to a crime and throw him into
prison, but that young man still answered honestly, “My name is Lang Ying, I’m from
Yong’an. We’re going through a drought, there’s no water, the crops won’t grow, and
everyone’s starving because there’s no income. There’s water here, and food, and
money. You use gold to build statues, throw coins into water, so why can’t you share
some with us?”
Yong’an was a large city within the Kingdom of Xianle. Xie Lian rose to his feet, his
expression serious, “Feng Xin, there’s a drought in Yong’an? How come I didn’t hear of
Feng Xin turned his head back, “I don’t know. I didn’t hear anything either. Let’s ask Mu
Ch.70: Fallen Golden Statue; Boor Buries Suffering Son
“Call him over right this instant.” Xie Lian said.
Feng Xin closed the index and middle fingers of his right hand together and pressed
them against his temple, connecting with Mu Qing in the spiritual communication array.
On the other side, Qi Rong clicked his tongue, “So you came out of that remote place
Yong’an? Truly, barren lands produce unruly radicals. Think you can rob the gods just
because you’re poor?”
“Then I won’t rob,” Lang Ying said, “I will pay my respects and worship this god of yours
right now. I will kneel and kowtow and beg him to give me money to save the lives of the
people of my hometown, but will he do so?”
Qi Rong “eh”-ed and muttered mentally thinking this guy wouldn’t actually run away with
all the money like it’s his right?! Thus he replied, “His Highness the Crown Prince has
become a god now, and gods are busy to death! Who has the time to mind you
Hearing this, Lang Ying nodded slowly, “I didn’t think he’d care either. It’s not like we
never prayed nor begged, but it didn’t work at all. Those who are meant to die will still
Xie Lian was shaken, and another cultivator shouted, “YOU! TO BE SO
DISRESPECTFUL IN THE HALLS OF GOD, AREN’T YOU AFRAID OF HEAVEN’S
However, Lang Ying replied, “It doesn’t matter anymore. Convict me if they must. I’m no
longer afraid of not being saved, so why should I be afraid of being convicted?”
Qi Rong gave a wave and a number of guards waiting on the side rushed forward,
surrounded that young man and started beating him down. Feng Xin was still working to
soften their attacks and it only appeared like Lang Ying was being pulverized. However,
he was in a dazed state, not avoiding or evading, and only occasionally raised his
hands to protect the satchel on his back. On the side, Qi Rong grabbed a handful of
melon seeds and munched, shaking his leg, “HIT HIM! HIT HIM HARD IN THE NAME
OF THIS PRINCE!” Truly the very image of a mobster. Hearing him call his own title,
Lang Ying shot his head up, “You’re a prince? Prince of what? Do you live in the
palace? Can you meet the king?”
Qi Rong spat, “I’M YOUR GRAND DADDY! You still think you can see the king, don’t
you? His majesty’s got a million things on his plate, he ain’t got time for you!”
Lang Ying twisted his neck and demanded stubbornly, “Why hasn’t he got time for me?
The gods don’t have time for me and neither does his majesty, then who has time to
hear me? Just who should I go to? Does the king know just how many has died in
Yong’an? Do the people of the royal capital know? If they knew, why would they rather
throw money in the water than giving it to us?”
Qi Rong chuckled coldly, “It’s our money, we’ll spend it as we will. Even if we use it like
stone to skip it in the water it’s nobody’s business, so why do we have to give it to you?
What, you’ve more reason just because you’re poor?”
Although that’s got logic in its own way, it was incredibly inappropriate for that time and
place. Xie Lian was about to find away to seal Qi Rong’s mouth when just then, a black
clad youth appeared in a hurry from just behind the pavilion, “Your Highness sent for
Xie Lian waved him over, “Mu Qing, come over here quick. In all the prayers you’ve
received recently have you heard anything about the drought in Yong’an?”
Mu Qing was also taken aback, “No, I haven’t heard anything.”
Feng Xin blurted in the midst of his task, “How could you not? The refugees have
already escaped here!”
His tone was overly accusatory and Mu Qing stiffened. He replied in a hard voice, “I told
the truth, there really wasn’t. Are you trying to say that I’m purposely withholding
information? Well, did you receive anything yourself? I’m on duty at the Temple of the
Crown Prince on odd months, and you’re on duty on even months. If there really were
people from Yong’an praying for the end of a drought, there’s no reason all the drought
related prayers were sent in on odd months, and you knew nothing.”
Feng Xin paused and realized that was certainly the case, “I didn’t say you did it on
purpose. You think too much.”
Seeming like they were ready to start quarrelling again, Xie Lian gestured a ‘pause’
hand signal in annoyance, “Alright, Feng Xin didn’t mean anything. Both of you stop this
The two immediately closed their mouths and stopped fighting. At the same time, Qi
Rong finally got tired of watching his subordinates beat up Lang Ying, and grabbed for a
small pouch to dump all the melon seed shells while saying, “Drag that robbing crook to
the prison and lock him up.” The guards acknowledged the command, “Yes sir!” And a
number of them picked up Lang Ying.
“Let’s deal with the problem at hand first.” Xie Lian said, “Save this man and I’ll ask him
about Yong’an properly later.”
Mu Qing relaxed his expression and asked cautiously, “Your Highness what do you plan
to do? You can’t just casually show yourself.”
After ascension, that was one of the rules Xie Lian just couldn’t understand. The
heavenly officials said they need to help the common people, yet they all put on airs and
position themselves above mortals, barring themselves from appearing before the
mortals at will, which often restricted him left right and centre, causing much frustration.
Good thing Xie Lian also had a number of ways to get around this, and without blinking,
he raised his hand and pushed. The people standing just ahead noticed the shadows on
the ground shaking and turned around, confused. The next moment, Qi Rong yelled in
horror, “COUSIN CROWN PRINCE–”
Xie Lian had pushed his own divine statue over!
That sword and flower holding, kind and beautiful golden statue swayed back and forth,
then slowly toppled to its side. Qi Rong looked as if he saw his own mother kick off the
stool after hanging herself, his heart bursting, and had lost all mind to care for Lang Ying
as he rushed desperately to grab hold of the leg to that statue, stubbornly trying to keep
it upright, screaming in fright, “WHAT ARE YOU USELESS TRASH ALL WAITING
FOR? HELP ME HOLD HIM UP! DON’T LET COUSIN CROWN PRINCE FALL!! HE
While he was terrified, Xie Lian passed by him calmly and casually and stepped out of
the hall. Feng Xin and Mu Qing’s faces both dropped to the ground. It took a moment
before Feng Xin finally cried, “YOUR HIGHNESS! THAT WAS YOUR OWN DIVINE
Something like a fallen statue really was a bad omen so it’s somewhat of a taboo. A
heavenly official who’d push over his own statue just like that was unheard of, a rarity of
the three realms.
“It’s only a large chunk of gold.” Xie Lian said, “If I didn’t do this their attention wouldn’t
shift otherwise. You two go and keep pushing down on that golden statue, don’t give
them a chance to leave. I’m going to meet with that man.”
Feng Xin and Mu Qing were still speechless and could only obey. They obediently stood
next to that divine statue, each using but a finger to press it down. They only needed to
use that bit of power and it was enough. The ones on the other side holding on had to
use every ounce of their strength and still they could only keep the status quo, their
teeth gritting, “… this is indeed pure gold through and through, such weight!”
Lang Ying, who had fallen on his bottom, saw that those guards were no longer
attending to him, stared at the golden shine of that divine statue for a long while before
he rose to his feet, dusted himself off, and ran away carrying his satchel. Xie Lian
followed behind him. He ran for quite a distance and entered a lush and heavy forest,
looked around him, before sitting down under a tree to rest. Xie Lian hid behind that
tree, easily casted a spell and transformed into the form of a little white clad cultivator.
After changing, he looked himself over, making sure there was nothing amiss, and
swung the whisk. He was just thinking how he should appear without alarm when he
saw Lang Ying squat next to a puddle by the tree, his head down and using his hands to
dig at it.
That young man’s hands were large, and one gouge was enough to create a wide and
deep dent. Mud and dust flew as he dug, looking very much like a thin black feral dog.
Xie Lian was just wondering why he was suddenly digging holes when he saw him wipe
off mud on his pants, scooped a handful of water with both hands, and brought it to his
Seeing this, Xie Lian couldn’t hide anymore and rushed out, stopped his hand, took out
a water bottle from his charmed sleeves, and passed it to him.
Lang Ying already had a mouthful of that puddle water, his cheeks round then
swallowed. He watched the little cultivator who had appeared too suddenly, didn’t think
it strange and didn’t reject his offer, and took the water bottle to drink, gulping down the
entire contents in one go. He only uttered after he finished, “Thanks.”
Since he already abruptly appeared, Xie Lian stopped caring for any natural opening.
He tried his best to swing that whisk like a practiced immortal, someone trustworthy, and
asked, “My friend, where did you come from and where are you going?”
“We came from the Bay of Lang-Er in the city of Yong’an. I was going to go to the royal
palace, but I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going anymore.”
Xie Lian was taken aback, “We?”
Lang Ying nodded, “We. Me, and my son.”
Xie Lian was growing even more confused, but his heart was dropping. He watched as
Lang Ying removed that satchel from his back and opened it, “My son.”
Inside that satchel he was carrying on his back was the dead body of a small child!!!
That infant was a tiny creature, looking no more than two or three years of age. His face
was yellow, his cheeks sallow, and his head had a few strands of thin and yellowing
hairs stuck to it. There were even rashes. That little face was twisted into a strange
expression, as if crying, very much miserable. His eyes were already closed but the
mouth was open, nevertheless no longer able to make a sound.
Xie Lian’s pupils shrank, his spirit shocked to the core, unable to speak. No wonder he
had felt this young man had a strange air about him. He couldn’t describe what that
strangeness was, but just that he was abnormal. The way he spoke, the way he
behaved, it was like he didn’t consider consequences at all, blunt and berserk without a
care. But, by the looks of things, for what did he need to consider consequences?
After showing off his son, Lang Ying wrapped his child anew, and carefully stringed up
the fringes. Watching how focused he was in his action, Xie Lian was miserable. It was
his very first time seeing the dead body of such a young infant, and he asked,
stammering, “How… how did your son die?”
Lang Ying adjusted the satchel on his back and replied, bemused, “How did he die… I
don’t know how he died. Thirsty, hungry, sick, maybe a bit of everything.”
He scratched his head, “When I first carried him out of Yong’an he would still cough a
bit, and called ‘Dad!, Dad!’ on my back. Gradually there were no more cries, only
coughing. And then there were no more coughs. I thought he’d fallen asleep. Later
when I found something to eat and wanted to wake him up, he wouldn’t wake up.”
That child had died on the road of escape.
Lang Ying shook his head, “I don’t know how to take care of children. If my wife knew
our son died she’d yell at me to death.”
After a moment of silence, he added, “I really wish my wife could still yell at me.”
His expression had been calm the entire time, like a branch off a withered tree; a pool of
dead water without a trace of life or ripples. Xie Lian’s throat tightened unable to
swallow, and said in a small voice, “Why… why don’t you bury him.”
Lang Ying nodded, “Yea. I wanted to pick a nice place. Here’s not bad. There are trees
to block the sun and water too. I’ll go back after burying him. Thanks for your water.”
He coughed a few times and bent down again, continuing to dig with his hands. Xie Lian
mumbled softly, “No, don’t thank me… don’t thank me, don’t.”
Just then, Feng Xin and Mu Qing appeared and were confused to see before them one
digging a hole, and the other watching in a daze. Xie Lian wasn’t in the mood to speak
and repeatedly muttered a few jumbled words. It was some time before Xie Lian
remembered that just giving water wasn’t enough; this man was returning to Yong’an.
Thus his hand went back into his sleeve and rummaged around, finally finding what he
was looking for, and passed it to him, “Here, take this.”
Lang Ying stopped and looked at what was in Xie Lian’s hand closely. It was a deep, red
pearl no bigger than a nail; its luster smooth and sleek, polished and brilliant, and
soul-stirringly beautiful. Even if he didn’t know what it was, just one look and it was
obvious this little gem was invaluable.
This was indeed that one remaining red coral pearl earring Xie Lian had worn during the
ShangYuan Heavenly Ceremonial Procession three years ago. That pearl left a rather
deep impression on Mu Qing, so the moment he saw it his face changed. Lang Ying
didn’t reject it, as if any proper manners and concerns of a normal person had left him,
and he reached out his hand to receive it. “Thanks.”
He carefully tucked the pearl in his belt, then he removed the satchel on his back, and
gently laid it into the dug pit. “Dad will come back soon to visit you.”
Finished, he used his hands and solemnly pushed the earth back to cover the satchel.
Xie Lian used a hand to support his forehead and closed his eyes. A moment later, that
young man left in a stride.
Feng Xin asked curiously, “Your Highness, what did he bury here? He said ‘dad’? He
Mu Qing was concerned with something else, “Your Highness, I went and investigated
earlier and figured out what’s happened. Yong’an had never been a wealthy place; their
temples and shrines are few in number. It seems they also have a local rule where
those who don’t offer donations couldn’t pray, so those who visited the Temple of the
Crown Prince had all been the wealthy, and the poor suffering from disasters couldn’t
Xie Lian didn’t respond to the report but said in a low voice, “You two, go to Yong’an,
and see what the situation is. I, will go meet the Guoshi, and ask exactly what’s going
His face had never been this dark. The two subordinates didn’t dare to be negligent and
both acknowledged his command, departing an instant after. Xie Lian himself thus
turned and raced towards the direction of Mount Taicang.
It appeared the disaster in Yong’an could only be big and not small. But, even if he
couldn’t hear the voices of prayer, it didn’t mean those at the royal palace had no clue at
●This Lang Ying is not the same one as the Lang Ying from the present; the
character for ‘Ying’ is different.