Long Jin observes Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo who is leaving the inn on their carriage.
He frowns. Aren’t they worried that Yun Qian Yu’s acupuncture points will remain sealed and that she will lose her power if they don’t unlock it soon?
Fei Qing looks at Su Huai Feng who has just boarded his carriage, “Young Master, what about the princess’ acupuncture points?”
“Do you honestly believe Senior Uncle will put her fate in another’ person’s hand?” says Su Huai Feng as he settles inside the carriage.
Realizing what Su Huai Feng meant, Fei Qing immediately stops asking questions and follow Gong Sang Mo and Yun Qian Yu’s carriage from behind.
There is only one way out of the celestial mountain, so all the representatives from all the kingdoms pass through the same route.
Inside the carriage, Yun Qian Yu lays her head on Gong Sang Mo’s chest as she plays with a purple lotus at the tips of her fingers; her inner power completely unsealed.
“What did you do to him?” asks Yun Qian Yu as she looks at the calm Gong Sang Mo.
Gong Sang Mo smiles, “You will know soon enough.”
“You knew he would leave without bidding us farewell?”
The truth is, Yun Qian Yu already changed the positions of her acupuncture points when they asked Bei Tang Gu Qiu to seal it. Gong Sang Mo already planned it ahead of time, just in case if even Bei Tang Gu Qiu plans to pull something.
Bei Tang Gu Qiu had no idea why Yun Qian Yu would willingly trust him back then, but he figured it out afterwards. He is such a proud person, he could never accept being tricked by Yun Qian Yu in that manner. And so, as a way of revenge, he directly left without seeing them. With that, people will begin to suspect if Yun Qian Yu’s acupuncture points have really been sealed. Once the seed of suspicion sprouted, it doesn’t matter if she used her inner power or not.
However, Gong Sang Mo already pre-planned everything. When he changed the locations of Yun Qian Yu’s points, he also made a little change on Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s body. Everything that he had done would not have been possible had he not completely mastered Xue Lian Han Gong.
The sky is full of drifting snow. Snowflakes land on the ground silently. Yun Qian Yu opens the curtain and looks outside. The ground are completely covered in snow. They cannot see very far. She outstretches her hand and catches a lump of snow. It lies at the center of her palm, looking very beautiful.
She slowly smiles. In the blink of an eye, the snow melts, turning into a puddle of iced water. The smile on her face disappears as well.
Gong Sang Mo frowns and outstretches his hand outside. When he pulls it back in, his palm is covered with a couple of lumps of snow. He channels his Xue Lian Han Gong to prevent the snow from changing state.
He shows it to Yun Qian Yu, causing her to smile brightly. Her smile is so beautiful that Gong Sang Mo cannot help from smiling as well.
Yun Qian Yu blows on the lumps of snow, causing them to fly outside, along with their friends.
“Do not do something foolish again after this. If getting what I want means hurting you, I will not be happy either way,” says Yun Qian Yu quietly as she lies against his chest.
“I understand,” replies Gong Sang Mo gently.
She smiles at the way he completely understands her.
“The Celestial Mountain is probably the cleanest place in this realm,” Yun Qian Yu looks back. The Celestial Mountain is getting farther and farther away from them. There are no fights and disputes over there. It stands at the tip of the world, overlooking everything. Perhaps, that’s why everyone else looks at it with such deference.
Gong Sang Mo follows her gaze, his heart filled with worry, “There are more and more disciples signing in. Although their martial abilities are not bad, we don’t know for sure if their hearts are as clean as what they show. How long can that purity be preserved?”
Yun Qian Yu can sense his worry, “Will all the disciples be practicing Xue Lian Han Gong?”
“No, only the core disciples will get to cultivate Xue Lian Han Gong. The core disciples will be selected from amongst the regular ones. They have to formally have one of the Three Celestials as their shifu. Only when they fulfilled all the criteria could they finally be selected as one of the core disciples,” explains Gong Sang Mo.
All of these were told to him by his Senior Brothers.
It is only natural that fight ensues wherever the crowd is. His Senior Brothers have been worried over whether the rules can be effectively implemented in the future with so many new faces around.
The Celestial Mountain is the place where Gong Sang Mo grew up. It is also where he received comforts during the lowest phase of his life. If he is to compare, his love for this place exceeds his love for the capital! He really hope that the Celestial Mountain can maintain it’s sacredness and purity in the years to come, just like a snow lotus.
Yun Qian Yu blinks, “Wouldn’t it be simple, then?”
“What other devilish plan do you have under your sleeves?” Gong Sang Mo pinches her nose gently.
“Since the disciples are divided into core disicples and regular ones, it means that only the core disciples are the real members of the sect. The regular ones probably have limitations in their abilities that will prevent them from cultiviating Xue Lian Han Gong. Since it is so, why not just send them home?”
Gong Sang Mo’s eyes light up, “Go on.”
“You have managed to master Xue Lian Han Gong; you can use this chance to announce that the criteria needed to fully master Xue Lian Han Gong are too harsh. Screen out those who cannot master Xue Lian Han Gong, teach them a different art, and then, send them home. However, only the core disciples can identify themselves as the real disciples of the Celestial Mountain. Put all these in the rules and display it in the plaque. Spread the news. And remind the Three Celestials to be cautious when choosing disciples. Put their personalities as priority when recruiting. Otherwise, no matter how good their martial prowess are, everything is pointless if their personalities are bad.”
“A great suggestion!” Gong Sang Mo happily kisses Yun Qian Yu’s lips.
Yun Qian Yu smiles when she realizes that the frown on his face is gone.
“Stop!” Gong Sang Mo eagerly tells San Qiu to stop. Then, he picks up brush and paper from one of their luggages and turns one of the sides of the carriage into his little table.
He carefully writes Yun Qian Yu’s suggestion and then sends Yi Ri to personally send it to Sheng Xue Tian Zun. Some things can only be done by Sheng Xue Tian Zun himself.
After Yi Ri left, Yun Qian Yu can hear the familiar screeching of a bird.
“It’s the eagles!” She sits up and pokes her head and half her body out of the carriage, followed by Gong Sang Mo.
The snow is too thick, so they cannot clearly see the silhouettes of the eagles. “We are over here!” calls Yun Qian Yu loudly.
The sound of screeching gets closer and soon, they can see the faint outlines of two eagles flying up above.
Tears pool in Yun Qian Yu’s eyes when she sees how hard the eagles have to struggle against the wind in order to get to them.
“Sang Mo, let’s bring them back with us,” she swallows.
Gong Sang Mo looks at them, “I wonder if they can adapt to the weather in the capital.”
“Let’s try it first. If they can’t, we’ll send them back,” begs Yun Qian Yu.
“Alright!” Gong Sang Mo never did have any resistance against Yun Qian Yu’s pleas.
Yun Qian Yu happily jumps off the carriage and runs towards the eagles.
Her watery blue silhouette is very eye-catching amidst the whiteness of the ground. The eagles screech happily before flying down towards her.
Yun Qian Yu hugs them both tightly.
Gong Sang Mo helplessly walks over. He pulls Yun Qian Yu towards his own chest before politely asking the eagles whether they would be willing to follow them back to the capital.
The eagles nod without even thinking.
Gong Sang Mo then tells them that he is not quite sure whether the weather in the capital will agree with the eagles, but if it doesn’t, they will send them back.
The eagles nod again.
And so, as the journey continues, two additional silhouettes following the entourage from up above.
Although it is heavily snowing, they managed to leave the vicinity of the mountain within 4 hours. They are now standing in front of a fork in the road. The southern one leads to Nan Lou Kingdom. The other one leads to a further fork down the road, separating the routes to Mo Dai Kingdom and Jiu Xiao Kingdom respectively. And so, the entourage from the other two kingdoms will have to travel together for a while longer before separating.
Suddenly, their carriage stops.
Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo have already guessed what happened.
Suddenly, San Qiu gives them a report, “Wangye, Bei Tang Wangye’s carriage is right in front.”
Gong Sang Mo smiles. “Continue.”
“Yes,” San Qiu leads the carriage towards the southern route.
Just as they pass over Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s carriage, they can hear Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s voice drifting by, “Please wait, Xian Wang and Princess Hu Guo.”
“Stop,” Gong Sang Mo orders San Qiu to stop.
Bei Tang Gu Qiu gets off his carriage, followed by Gong Sang Mo.
The black silhouette meets the pale blue silhouette amidst the snowy background.
Both are intelligent and extraordinarily talented; both are young and handsome.
They are destined to never get along in peace with each other.
Yun Qian Yu stays inside the carriage. She knows when she should intervene and when she should back off.
Time passes back quickly and soon, Long Jin’s carriage comes into view.
Bei Tang Gu Qiu breaks the silence, “You can take it back now.”
“No need to rush,” Gong Sang Mo looks at Long Jin’s entourage.
“You should know when to stop,” replies Bei Tang Gu Qiu emotionlessly.
“If you had remembered that before, this wouldn’t have happened to you, 6th wangye,” Gong Sang Mo stands with his hands behind him.
Bei Tang Gu Qiu does not say any further and merely glances at Gong Sang Mo coldly with his sharp eyes.
Long Jin’s carriage reaches them not longer later. Instead of getting down, Long Jin merely peers down from the window of his carriage, “What is going on, Xian Wang? 6th Wangye?”
The moment Long Jin opens the curtain, Gong Sang Mo retrieves the single lotus petal he imprinted on Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s shoulder.
Bei Tang Gu Qiu unconsciously trembles.
Gong Sang Mo looks at Bei Tang Gu Qiu, impressed. The petal had pretty much frozen his right shoulder for hours and yet he still managed to confront him without a change in expression. He is truly one of a kind.
One must know that Gong Sang Mo had only triggered the effect once they found out Bei Tang Gu Qiu did not stay back. Although he only used half of the full effect, the fact that Bei Tang Gu Qiu managed to endure it for 4 hours is truly shocking.
“This king is here to unlock the seal on Princess Hu Guo’s points,” replies Bei Tang Gu Qiu calmly, as though nothing is wrong.
“Oh, so it is like that,” Long Jin looks at them suspiciously.
“Then, goodbye,” Gong Sang Mo cups his fists in front of them before returning to his carriage. The journey to Nan Lou Kingdom resumes. A victor does not flaunt his glory.
Long Jin looks at Bei Tang Gu Qiu, “Did you really unlock her acupuncture points?”
Bei Tang Gu Qiu glances at him before returning his gaze to Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo’s disappearing carriage.
Then, he turns around to return to his own carriage.
“6th Wangye, don’t forget what you promised this Crown Prince!” hollers Long Jin loudly.
“Fret not, Your Highness,” Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s voice is carried by the wind.
Long Jin closes the window, his lips curled up high. Angering Bei Tang Gu Qiu means death. Yun Qian Yu, Gong Sang Mo, I will wait to see you make fools out of yourselves!
As for the pair, the moment Gong Sang Mo returns to the carriage, Yun Qian Yu fixes him with a wide-eyed gaze.
Gong Sang Mo cannot refrain from asking, “What’s wrong? Did Yu Er finally realize how good-looking I am?”
“You are a little more good-looking than Bei Tang Gu Qiu,” replies Yun Qian Yu.
“Only a little?” Gong Sang Mo is not satisfied.
“Alright, a lot more,” corrects Yun Qian Yu before planting a kiss on Gong Sang Mo’s face.
Gong Sang Mo laughs, at a loss, “You are treating me so kindly; do you have any other crooked idea in mind?”
“What did you do to Bei Tang Gu Qiu?” Yun Qian Yu finally asks.
Gong Sang Mo looks at the curious Yun Qian Yu before saying, “I gave him a petal of snow lotus. I have only retrieved it back.”
“How many layers?” Yun Qian Yu raises an eyebrow.
“5 layers? And he actually managed to endure it for 4 hours? From the way he spoke earlier, he sounded completely normal,” Yun Qian Yu is taken aback by the revelation.
“He is indeed extraordinary,” agrees Gong Sang Mo.
“What is the name of the art that he cultivates?”
“Nobody knows. We have never known each other too, so I have no idea.”
“Do you know where his shifu comes from?”
“That part is pretty much as mystical and legendary as his background.”
“Tell me all about it.”
Gong Sang Mo, then, begins recounting Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s life story, “Bei Tang Gu Qiu will be 20 years old this year. His mother was a lowly palace maid, but she was said to be extremely beautiful. She caught the eye of the Emperor of Jiu Xiao Kingdom who instated her as his Yan Fei. Unfortunately, she was of lowly background and was not well-versed in the art of intrigue like the other concubines. Before long, she fell into their traps and was sent into the Cold Palace. By then, she was already pregnant. Bei Tang Gu Qiu was born within the walls of the Cold Palace. His mother was ill from child-birth and the environment in the Cold Palace was not conducive enough for her to recover. Before he was even a month old, she died. After his mother died, his imperial father gave him to the newly favoured De Fei, who pretty much raised him. He pretty much led an idle and care-free life, until he was 5 years old.”
Yun Qian Yu listens intently. Every extraordinary person have extraordinary stories behind them. Bei Tang Gu Qiu’s background is definitely vivid.
Gong Sang Mo continues, “On his 5th birthday, he played hide-and-seek with palace maids and accidentally overheard them talking about his background. He found out that he was not De Fei’s son and that his real mother died unjustly. After that, it was as though he changed person. One day, De Fei was frustrated and accidentally revealed that she was the one who harmed Yan Fei. Bei Tang Gu Qiu overheard that. Afterwards, De Fei’s health slowly went into decline. She died within half a year. Nobody knew that it was done by a child of 5 years. He used his own method to avenge his mother’s death. And so, he became a motherless prince once more, the object of battle between concubines.”
Yun Qian Yu’s eyes darken, then lights up again. A 5 year old child capable of doing that—- he is indeed a genius.
“Against everybody’s expectation, he did not pick a new mother and instead chose to retreat to a temple to cultivate. He said he wanted to pray for his deceased mother. And the Emperor actually allowed him, a 5 year old boy cultivate in a temple all by himself. 5 more years passed by and when he returned to the palace, he was already 10 years old. He looked more and more like his real mother, beautiful beyond words, and that made the Emperor like him even less. He gave him his own manor so that he would not have to live inside the palace. Instead of feeling defeated, he mixed with the people in the capital without discrimination. Everyone inside the capital knew that the Emperor had the talented and good-looking 6th prince whom he did not like. As he became more famous in the capital when he was 12, he began seeking a shifu. When he came back another 5 years later, no one could shake him. Even the Emperor did not know what to do with him.”
Yun Qian Yu listens in deep concentration. The tale of a 5 year old boy rising to this height without counting on anyone is indeed stuff worthy of legend. However, she does not fully believe that.
Seeking a shifu should be a righteous and proud moment, yet why did he do it so covertly that no one knows who his shifu is?
Yun Qian Yu can only conclude that the shifu is not someone that the world could accept. Perhaps, the shifu might even be someone that people hates!
The carriage continues moving noisily and the farther they are from the Celestial Mountain, the thinner the snow on the ground becomes. In fact, the snow has stopped falling completely.
The journey did not undergo any further delay. They managed to leave the Lan County within one day.
After 4 days long of journey, they reached Jing Zhou.
They can only spend one night there, at Yun Residence.
Yun Qian Yu inquires over the learning halls and finds out that everything has been going on smoothly. After the previous incident, no one dared to create trouble there. In fact, the number of students have increased a lot.
Yun Qian Yu reminds them to verify the students’ backgrounds and to only accept those of poor background.
As for Gong Sang Mo, he is recruited into a game of chess with the First Elder.
He only returns the next morning, when the sky is already bright. He did not sleep and accompanies Yun Qian Yu to breakfast before continuing the journey. Once they settled inside the carriage, he brings her to his chest and closes his eyes without even saying a word.
Yun Qian Yu stays there without moving. She knows that he is very tired from playing chess all night long. Only the First Elder can make Nan Lou Kingdom’s Xian Wang play chess with him all night long. However, in the end, isn’t it only for Yun Qian Yu?
After leaving Jing Zhou, the weather becomes a lot warmer. They no longer need to wear multiple layers of clothes. One cloak is enough to keep them warm.
They head for Gong Shu Zhu’s residence in Qing Zhou, next. They reach the house in a couple of days.
They are surprised to be welcomed by Gong Shu Zhu, who should be resting in bed.
He is not even using any sort of walking aid. He is looking a lot better. Yang Liu who is standing behind him looks good too. However, the most changes can be seen on Gong Yi Zhi.
A little child can change a lot in a short span of time.
His small face is round and pink and he is holding a wooden sword. He seems to really like martial arts.
“You are back, Uncle!” Gong Yi Zhi runs towards them happily.
He lets Gong Sang Mo sees his wooden sword as though it is a treasure.
“Yi Zhi seems to have grown taller,” laughs Sang Mo.
“Look at the sword Uncle Chang Qing made me! All the other kids are so envious!”
“How many moves have you learned? Why don’t you show it to Uncle, later?” Gong Sang Mo laughs while lifting Yi Zhi up.
“Yi Zhi learned a lot, Uncle,” he begins recounting every moves that he tried the past few weeks.
“Celestial Auntie,” Gong Yi Zhi puts his hand out to Yun Qian Yu.
Celestial Auntie? Yun Qian Yu is taken aback. It goes without saying that Gong Sang Mo must have been the one who taught him that.