And so three days passed as Ning Chen spent his days peacefully doing chores in Ling Yan Pavilion. All this while, he never visited the front hall, not even once. Outside of Li Er visiting him from time to time, there was hardly anyone else in the backyard.
As night fell, the opulence of the front hall would contrast starkly with the tranquility of the back hall. This was the time when the Pavilion showed its true colors. As the dazzling lights of the pavilion lit up, they welcomed in the hustle and bustle of the red light district. At this very moment, the Pavilion had transformed into a paradise for men.
While this was the busiest moment for the front hall, it was in contrast, the quietest moment for the back hall. It was at this moment that Ning Chen loved to indulge in the only pastime he managed to bring over from Earth, stargazing.
As he looked at the sparkling jewels in the night sky, he would muse on several thoughts. One recurring thought was that one of these stars represented the home he came from, he didn’t know which one it was but one day, he would find it.
His heart was in turmoil right now; exactly where did he end up transmigrating to? If this wasn’t Earth, why was he able to witness Mars staying at Antares? To him, this was a phenomenon that could only be seen from Earth.
As he stared at the vast field of stars before him, his eyes clouded over and so did his heart. Amidst the dazzling starlight surrounding the brilliant crescent moon, where was that familiar blue sight…
He got tired of searching and bored of counting. And so, he shifted his pondering gaze from the stars to the moon. The moon of this world was different from the one on Earth, it was tinged with a hint of red that made it look like it was surrounded in a bloody haze. To him, this sight was so surreal he almost felt that it was fake.
According to what he heard, this world was created by a god and that moon hanging above him was also created by this ancient god. The Eternal Night Cult believed that this god was the only god in the world and that he would one day descend unto the world once more.
Ning Chen didn’t take too well to this legend. If god really existed, what did that say about his beliefs in his previous world?
God, was something that should stay in the legends, men didn’t need him.
Mu Chengxue’s gift had left him stumped even till now. There were too many portions of the cultivation technique that he didn’t understand. Those that he did were practised by him over these few days and sadly, there were no visible effects. However, he didn’t give up either. After all, even a tiny of drop water will become an ocean one day; the effects will show themselves sooner or later.
As expected, they finally did so on the fourth day. He was actually able to feel a strand of Qi flowing through his meridians. With every session he completed, that Qi flow would grow stronger.
Ning Chen was ecstatic. He was an unparalleled genius that only appeared once every 800 years, after all.
However, what he didn’t know was that True Energies required a skill in order to be used. While the golden scroll had such skills, he wasn’t able to understand them.
As for Mu Chengxue’s intentions, they were as stated, the scroll was merely for him to strengthen his body. This was why she didn’t teach him anything despite knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to understand the rest of the scroll.
Ning Chen didn’t mind this at all however this wasn’t because he was particularly magnanimous but rather he simply wasn’t aware of this fact. All he knew was that his training finally paid off and nothing else mattered right now.
And so, the days passed in this manner, work by day and cultivation by night. In a blink of an eye, nearly half a month has passed since he left the Palace. While he was enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Pavilion, matters had escalated significantly in the outside world.
Li Er would routinely visit him from time to time to banter with him. Unfortunately, Ning Chen’s acid tongue was too strong for her and each time she would leave, utterly defeated. There were times when she couldn’t take it and with a flash of her little tiger teeth, gave him a quick chomp before leaving, a smile on her face and her anger completely vented.
Because of this, he didn’t even know how many bite marks he had accumulated on his arms over these past days. However, this didn’t seem to stop him from angering the little girl to the point where her teeth got itchy once more.
Their bantering was a routine thing that continued no matter how much he exasperated her. Even after the most heated of arguments, she would still look forward to visiting him the next day.
During one such conversation, she mentioned some of the major happenings of the outside world. He was startled by what she said but quickly threw it to the corner of his mind. He had finally gotten his freedom, all these matters didn’t concern him at all, they were all Zhang Sun’s problems.
However, two days later, he was presented with an extremely frustrating problem.
His only pair of shoes was worn out.
When he decided to escape from the palace, he made sure to bring along some clothes but completely forgot to bring some spare shoes along with him. His sole pair of shoes had bravely held on until today where it finally breathed its last. Now, he had no choice but to leave the backyard.
But, a problem still remained; he was broke!
All the money the Manager gave him was used to pay his debt to Yue Hanyi. As of now, he was penniless, he couldn’t even afford to buy an insole let alone a pair of shoes.
When the morning lull arrived in the Pavilion, he made use of this opportunity and went to the front hall. As he stood in the luxurious hall, he swivelled his head around, searching for the familiar figure of Yue Hanyu.
“Hey, what’re you doing?” Li Er brashly asked as she walked up to him. She had noticed his strange actions from the very start.
“Asking for my wages.” Ning Chen said with a certain righteousness in his voice. After working for so long, there’s no way he had no wages to collect.
Li Er gaped at him in stunned silence before saying, “You actually have the gall to ask for a wage.”
“Ha ha.” He gave her a slightly guilty laugh. He knew that he was in the wrong here but he simply had no choice. His worn out shoes were stitched together for the time being but this measure would at most buy him a few more days.
“Big Sister Yi isn’t here right now. You’ll have to wait for her to come back.” Li Er was thoroughly defeated by his thick skin. She didn’t expect that not only was his mouth so formidable, his shamelessness was just as unrivalled as well.
“Then, can you lend me some money Li Er? It’s urgent.”
He said with his brows furrowed. He had struggled over this for a while but in the end chose to abandon whatever pride he had left. To think that he would one day borrow money from a little girl…
“What for?” Li Er she asked slightly taken aback at first before staring at him, suspicion written all over her face as if she was dealing with a scammer.
As he took in her suspecting gaze, he suddenly felt that his integrity had just been insulted. He angrily replied, “What’s with that look, I’m just borrowing some money to buy a pair of shoes, do I look like the kind of person who would renege on a debt!”
Li Er lowered her head and gave his shoes a quick glance before mulling over the matter. “You want to go out and buy some shoes?”
“Mhm.” Ning Chen vigorously nodded his head.
“Wait a moment.”
As she said this, she sprinted off towards her own room and took some taels out. After leaving some instructions with the maids, she happily made her way back to him.
“Alright, let’s go.”
“You’re coming along too?”
Li Er shot him a disdainful look before saying, “Don’t forget that you owe Big Sister Yi a hundred taels, if you run away, how am I going to explain this to her?”
“…” Ning Chen gaped at her in silence. Do I really look like that kind of person? Do I?!
Ling Yan Pavilion was located in the busiest area of the Imperial City. As they weaved through the bustling crowds, Ning Chen’s eyes were slightly befuddled by the rapid pace of the crowd, behind him, Li Er closely kept up to him; she was afraid that she might lose him in the crowd.
“Li Er, I already said that I won’t run away.”
Ning Chen stopped and said once more. This was the umpteenth time he said this but Li Er still didn’t believe him.
“You can’t say for sure.” Li Er didn’t believe him at all. One hundred taels was a lot of money after all. It could buy several Li Ers.
Seeing her doubt him once more, he resignedly continued walking.
After walking for awhile, Ning Chen suddenly stopped in his tracks, his face frozen as if he had just seen a ghost.
Li Er was caught off guard by his sudden braking and ended up ramming into him. As she rubbed her sore red nose, her tiny face scrunched up in pain and anger. “What are you doing!”
“Don’t say a word.” Ning Chen immediately reacted by covering her mouth and swiftly pulled her behind a nearby fortune teller’s stall.
As he peeked out from behind the fortune teller’s banner, he held his breath, not daring to move a muscle. What was she doing here?
By now, Li Er’s face was red from having her mouth and nose covered up.
Seeing this, he quickly loosened his hand and gave her an apologetic look; he had almost forgotten about her.
“Are you trying to kill me?!” She exclaimed as she took in a huge breath, her hand smacking him viciously as she fumed.
“Shhh, quiet down.” He put his finger to his lips and hushed her as he guiltily gazed at the distant figure, all the while praying that she didn’t notice him.
“What’s the matter?” Her gaze curiously followed his as it turned towards the direction he was looking at but didn’t see a thing.
“It’s someone who has a grudge with me.”
He threw out a random excuse. It wasn’t entirely false, after all, if he was brought back, he would face a similar fate.
“Young Master would you like a fortune? I’ll examine your fate and predict your fortunes. If it’s wrong, I’ll give you a refund.” It was this moment, that the middle aged stall owner spoke up.
“I’m broke.” He immediately rejected him. Trying to scam me? Dream on!
“I can give you a freebie.” The middle aged fortune teller smiled lightly as he said, clearly not minding his lack of money.
Ning Chen ignored him and continued scouting out the enemy. Why isn’t this woman leaving? Don’t tell me Zhang Sun specifically sent her out to catch me?
“Young Master is hiding from someone?” The fortuneteller smiled as he asked.
“Isn’t it obvious.” He replied dismissively. He didn’t need a fortune teller to tell him this, even a blind person could see that he was hiding.
“A lady?” The fortune teller added.
“Mhm.” He didn’t think much about it. After all, there are only males and females here…if it isn’t a male then it’s a female, there’s nothing strange about him getting this right.
“From the palace?” The fortune teller continued.
“Mhm, hmm?” He nonchalantly agreed at first but paused in shock right after. He turned around and looked at the scammer in surprise. You have some skill after all, you actually managed to guess this.
“Young Master, was this one right about that?” The middle-aged fortune teller asked with a smile.
“Ha ha,” He gave him a cursory laugh. What are you gloating for…you just managed to get these two guesses right, don’t think you’re some precision prophet just because of that. Well I’ll be damned, that banner actually says “precision prophet”.
Seeing that he still didn’t believe him, the fortune teller continued, “ Young Master, if you will allow me a few words, there’s a time and flow for everything in fate, you can’t force an outcome on life. Karma is predetermined by heaven and isn’t something you can hide from.”
After a while, the distant figure finally left. He finally heaved a sigh of relief and glanced at the fortune teller. He pointed at his nose and said, “Try guessing where I’m from.”
The fortune teller paused in surprise for a moment before saying, “Judging from Young Master’s accent, Young Master should be from the capital.”
“Nonsense, I’m from Earth.”
Having said that, he immediately dragged Li Er away from him. This place isn’t safe anymore, if I stay here any longer, I might get caught and then I’ll be in trouble.
Li Er was confused by the conversation between the two and hadn’t had time to return to her senses before Ning Chen dragged her away.
“We’re going back? What about your shoes?”
“Not buying it, living is more important.” Ning Chen anxiously replied.
“Kay.” She still didn’t know what he was talking about, but judging from his anxious tone, obeying him was the better choice now.
As he stepped into the Pavilion once more, he surveyed the area. Seeing that no one was paying attention, he quickly stepped in with Li Er in tow.
*phew* That was close, thankfully Ning Chen’s eyes were good.
“You’re tired aren’t you? Here, have some tea.”
A gentle voice rang out beside him followed by a cup of tea being presented to him. He was parched at the moment and this was exactly what he needed. He received the tea and then thanked the person.
As the tea entered his mouth, he immediately spat it out. His body shivered as he turned around and said in a quivering voice, “ Qing…Sister Qing Ning.”
“This’s a pretty good place to hide, I had to search around for a while before I managed to find you.”
Qing Ning blandly replied, not a shred of anger to be found on her pretty face. Despite that, her face terrified him.
He clearly remembered that he tied her up before escaping. Having offended this woman thoroughly, he was screwed.
He immediately thought of running away but the moment he remembered how strong she was, he immediately banished this thought.
“Alright, after playing outside for so long, it’s about time to return with me.” She said in a tone that brooked no objections. The warning gaze she threw him was very clear, say no and you’re going to get it from me.
Ning Chen’s heart thumped as he asked, “Is Her Majesty angry?”
“What do you think?” She gave him a sarcastic smile. He actually dared to ask this.
The moment he heard this, his head shook violently as he said, “I’m not going back, Her Majesty will have my head for this.”
“So you know how to be scared as well.” Qing Ning wanted to give this kid a tight slap. He actually dared to issue a false edict, steal the Palace’s furniture and then tried to run away from the Palace. Each of these warranted the capital punishment and this fellow actually did all of them together.
“Yes.” He immediately nodded.
Seeing his panicked face, she decided to stop scaring him.
“Just follow me back first. Her Majesty had already suppressed this matter in order to save your life. Once you get back, make sure to admit your mistake. As for what she will do, that’s up to her mood,” Qing Ning said in a soothing tone.