“Shoo shoo shoo, you are not a woman. Don’t you think that it would be repulsive if you to smile at me for an entire day?” Lu Chen snorts. He casually sits on one of the chairs facing the counter and leans forward.
Old Ma stares at him. His frowns slightly and asks solemnly, “What happened?”
Lu Chen suppresses his voice and speaks. The voice is so hushed such that it couldn’t even be heard clearly even in the quiet tavern. Perhaps, only Old Ma who is at close proximity to him can hear those words clearly.
As Old Ma listens, his face suddenly darkens. He sits up straight and ponders for a moment. Then, he glances at Lu Chen and says, “Are you sure you didn’t see wrongly?”
Lu Chen replies plainly, “That incident that happened in there back then, what else would I have not seen before?”
Old Ma nods his head and continues asking with a hushed voice, “Of what tier is that secret message?”
Lu Chen frowns. After thinking for a short moment, he replies, “That is quite a weird location. There is a tree with two leaves on the secret message. At most, he would only be of the rank of a ‘xiangzhu‘ in the demonic cult.”
Old Ma’s expressions lightens as he says, “From the looks of it, they don’t seem to be looking for you? Could it be the remnants of the Three Realm Divine Cult sneaking into this location to recruit new members?”
Lu Chen humphs and says, “Isn’t this too coincidental?”
Old Ma nods his head and says, “I got it. I will investigate it thoroughly, so rest easy. However, didn’t the Thousand Autumn Doors kill a hidden remnant of the demonic cult just a few days ago, perhaps the members of the demonic cult are here for it?”
Lu Chen shrugs and replies, “I hope so. Anyway, be careful about this matter.”
Old Ma replies, “Rest easy.”
Lu Chen stands up and prepares to leave. However, just when he is about to step away, he stops yet again. He turns around to look at Old Ma, “There’s still another matter. Help me look into it while you’re at it.”
Old Ma says, “What is it?”
Lu Chen says, “There seems to be a young scholar who just arrived at the opposite bank of the stream. He has a handsome face and he is skilled in drawing. I have never met that person before. Help me look into the background of that man.”
“Oh”. Old Ma replies, “Got it, it’s just a small matter.”
The sky darkens and there is nothing but silence.
Yet another night has arrived and the small village descends into its slumber. It seems exceptionally cold and lonely under the embrace of the darkness.
Lu Chen lies on his bed in the straw cottage. The interior of the cottage is pitch black.
He closes his eyes, but he couldn’t fall asleep.
In silence, humans would tend to recall the past. This kind of thoughts isn’t something humans are able to control. Thus, even if it is memories which one wants to forget, it would be dredged up uncontrollably.
Despite not being a dream, the moment the eyes are closed, it feels like a descend into a nightmare that is hard to awake from. Sometimes there are screams of agony, sometimes shrieks of pain, sometimes the cold flash of a sword and sometimes the fearsome and excruciating pain. Of course, the one that conquers most of all is the furious dance of the black flames.
He opens his eyes in the darkness and shakes his head in an attempt to fling off those hateful memories. Turning around, a wind starts to pick up outside the straw cottage. That is the mountainous breeze which blows down from the mountain. It seems to be a little agitated in the night. Lu Chen concentrates for a moment and there seems to be some some distortions in the sound.
A slight and faint distortion
He stands up, covers himself with a shirt and walks out. Only then does he realised that the clouds of tonight seems exceptionally thick. There are only a few stars twinkling in the distant, creating an eerie atmosphere to the night.
The mountainous wind whistles past coldly. Lu Chen turns around and sees a few shadows moving in the darkness. Sha sha sha, a faint and bizarre sounds intertwines and travels along with the wind.
There isn’t fear or surprise on Lu Chen’s face. He stares silently at the cliff of the mountain. After awhile, his gaze shifts towards the top of the tea mountain.
Those weird sounds may seem eerie but it is actually just the unique sound of the rustling of the leaves as the mountainous wind blows through the countless Spirit Tea Leaves. In the dark and silent night, it sounds like the wailing of the ghosts but there is no meaning behind it.
Lu Chen doesn’t bear any fear at all. He stares at the east foothill at the back of the tea mountain. Then, he mumbles to himself, “Doesn’t seem to be any movements from the swallows tonight?”
He has been living here for the past decade, so he is very familiar with this tea mountain. This include the depression known as the Mourning Ghost Chasm. He has once climbed up to visit it.
That depression isn’t really small. Looking at it from the top is quite a spectacular sight. There are thousands of swallows or so living by the rock walls. However, Lu Chen doesn’t know whether they are the Red-beaked Crimson Feather Swallows that Hong Chuan mentioned about today.
In Lu Chen’s impression, that flock of swallows seem to be normal flying beasts. They aren’t spirit beasts with spirit mark on them. Logically, a disciple of an established sect like Kunlun wouldn’t be interested in this kind of useless material.
Or rather, is there some hidden treasure in the depression that drew the attention of a disciple from a reputable sect like him?
At this point, Lu Chen’s heart moves. However, he shakes his head, choosing not to interfere in it. For the sake of his safety, he has once looked into the location and he didn’t find any nature’s treasures in there. Anyway, even if one exists in there, it would just be his fate.
At this point, he intend to return back to sleep. Just that, when he pushes the door of the straw cottage, he hears ‘gulong‘, the sound of a deep rumbling from somewhere in the darkness.
That sound wasn’t soft. Although it can’t be considered to be sharp or harsh, it traveled very far in the night. Lu Chen halts instantly and looks towards the source of the sound, only to see that it is pitch-black. It came from the deep lake at the foot of the mountain.
Lu Chen frowns. He is a little surprised. That deep lake is at the foot of the tea mountain and its depth is hard to measure. Due to the water becoming freezing cold from a depth of 6 chionwards, a temperature which ordinary people find it hard to bear, there has been no one who had dived into it before.
6 chi -> 2 meter
All these years, the deep lake has been sitting quietly in the depths of the village. The clear stream originates from the lake and flows through the village. It has been living harmoniously along with this little mountainous village for countless ages.
Lu Chen considers and eventually, he decides to check out the lake. Not too long later, he arrives at the lake. Widening his eyes to take a better look, he releases a ‘hng‘ sound from his mouth after a short moment. From the faint light from the stars, he could see that there is a person floating on the lake.
In the middle of a night, for a person float on top of this deep lake, it is indeed quite a frightening sight. At the same time, the wind blows mournfully for a very long time, making the sight even more sinister.
Lu Chen seems to be oblivious to this sinister atmosphere. Rather, he knits his eyebrow at the sight of the floating figure. After a short moment, he mutters, “Why does he look so familiar…”
Xiangzhu translates literally to Incense Master. It is similar to the position of a Hall Master (maybe one tier lower, unsure until the structure of the demonic cult is revealed)
Not sure if you all have watch Lu Ding Ji (The Deer and the Cauldron), but the main character Wei Xiaobao is an Incense Master in a sect.
Will change it if a better name appears.