Hearing Lei Lei’s abrupt question, everyone was stunned. Although she wasn’t welcomed to help out with work, chatting was still fine. Besides, she wasn’t like the other female servants who only talked about their husbands, food and clothing, or gossiped all day long. She would often join them in mouthing off and asking about interesting incidents that had happened in Jianghu. Hence, they didn’t exclude her.
Wang Cong was surprised: “You don’t know about something as major as the Longevity Fruit?”
Lei Lei shook her head.
She was too out of the loop! Everyone gave her a withering look. Even Aunty Hong who devoted herself to the kitchen knew about this.
Lei Lei quickly sat down: “Tell me, tell me.”
Wang Cong looked at everyone and said: “This is a long story. Have you heard of Ba Xian Residence’s Medical Sage Bu Yao Qian? That elderly guy is a good man that has excellent medical skills but lives in poverty.”
Lei Lei nodded, his name was “Bu Yao Qian (Don’t Want Money)”, of course he’d live in poverty.
Wang Cong said: “Six months ago, Old Sir Bu was murdered in his home during the night.”
Lei Lei said: “There must’ve been something to gain from killing him.”
“According to his brother Bu Yao Ming, it was because of a treasure called Longevity Fruit.” Wang Cong spoke under his breath, “Old Sir Bu had mentioned it to his brother before his murder and there was no such thing when they sorted through the old man’s things.”
The older brother doesn’t want money (Bu Yao Qian) and the younger brother doesn’t want to live (Bu Yao Ming)! Lei Lei was puzzled: “What can the Longevity Fruit be used for?”
Wang Cong became animated: “Humans live for a hundred years and will inevitably die. It is said that the Longevity Fruit is very unusual. If a person of over seventy years ate it, he will be reborn and live for another hundred years.”
“Old Sir Bu, also known as the Medical Sage, has been studying medicine for his whole life. His words have to be true.”
Longevity, an emperor’s dream since the ancient times, to be able to live a century longer than others. This kind of temptation was difficult for anyone to resist. Lei Lei finally understood why everyone was willing to pay a high price for its whereabouts: “That Longevity Fruit must’ve been stolen by the murderer.”
Wang Cong said: “It’s not just guniang, everyone thinks so too. Old Sir Bu was a capable martial artist but he died in the hands of someone with average skills. It must’ve been someone he trusted who made a move when his guard was down. As luck would have it, only three people saw him that night, Dong Shan faction’s leader Yan Wen Dao, Xi Sha faction’s leader Wen Ting, and Nan Hai faction’s leader Leng Ying.”
Dong Shan (East Mountain), Xi Sha (West Sands), Nan Hai (South Sea), look at these names. Lei Lei was starting to question the intellect of the fellow from the R&D Department: “So that’s to say that the murderer is most likely among the three of them.”
Wang Cong nodded: “The three of them were Old Sir Bu’s closest friends and have good reputations in Jianghu. Old Sir Bu was kind and simple and it wouldn’t have been strange for him to have told them about the Longevity Fruit.”
Lei Lei said: “A treasure like this could’ve incited their greed.”
Wang Cong said: “That’s right. Half a month after Old Sir Bu’s death, news of the Longevity Fruit being at the Leng family suddenly came from Nan Hai faction and Leng Ying, Leader Leng also happened to be the last person to have seen Old Sir Bu. As such, suspicion naturally fell on him.”
Lei Lei hurriedly asked: “Who was the one who leaked this news?”
Wang Cong sighed: “It was a servant of the Leng family. But that’s not all. When they finally found that servant to confront him, he had already been killed with a stab through his heart. Everyone says that Leader Leng had silenced him. He won’t be able to clear his name now.”
Lei Lei exclaimed: “Since the Longevity Fruit is so good, why didn’t Old Sir Bu eat it?”
Wang Cong smiled: “There’s something that you don’t know. It’s said that although the Longevity Fruit is good, if it’s eaten before the age of seventy, it’ll only strengthen the body. There’ll be no other effects. Old Sir Bu hasn’t even hit sixty yet.”
So that’s how it was, Lei Lei thought for a moment before saying: “It’s very likely that Leader Leng was framed. Although he was the last to see Old Sir Bu that night, someone else could’ve also come by to commit the murder after he’d left, then stolen the Longevity Fruit. Also, to release news of the Longevity Fruit being at the Leng family, he could’ve simply bribed the servant before killing him and framing Leader Leng.”
Everyone exclaimed: “Who wouldn’t have already thought about that!”
Wang Cong laughed: “Chief He is wise and had already realised that something was strange. Needless to say, he wouldn’t pass judgement on Leader Leng that hastily. But who would’ve thought that another major incident happened later.”
Lei Lei hurriedly asked: “What?”
Wang Cong said: “The three major factions had always been on friendly terms but it’s inevitable that with the things that had happened, they would start to doubt each other. So the three leaders arranged a private meeting at the top of Hua Mountain to have an honest talk and clear things up.”
People in Jianghu were all about righteousness, Lei Lei inwardly sighed: “Then?”
Wang Cong said: “Disciples from the three factions were waiting at the foot of the mountain that day but only two leaders came back down and Nan Hai faction’s Leader, Leng Ying was nowhere to be seen. Nan Hai faction’s disciples had no choice but to ascend the mountain to investigate, finding him dead on the mountain path, killed by Xi Sha faction’s special palm strike.”
Lei Lei immediately recalls her time back at the inn, the dark purple palm print on the handsome man’s body: “Leng Ying’s martial arts is inferior to Leader Wen’s?”
Wang Cong said: “Of course not, but Dong Shan faction’s Leader Yan had also gone up the mountain. If he had acted with Leader Wen, it wouldn’t have been difficult for them to kill Leader Leng.”
Lei Lei said: “There’s no way they’ll admit it now.”
“Exactly!” Wang Cong clapped his hands, “Leader Yan has now repeatedly tried to clarify that the three of them couldn’t come to an agreement and that Leader Leng had left in a fit of anger. They had no choice but to descend the mountain but Leader Wen had made an excuse to fall behind. This implies that he also suspects Leader Wen but Leader Wen is refuting it like his life depends on it. However, the injury on Leader Leng’s body is still there and it’s undeniably Xi Sha faction’s strike. Nan Hai faction’s new Leader Leng Sheng Yin had tried to avenge his father several times but Chief He managed to stop him. It seems like the conflict between Nan Hai faction and Xi Sha faction is set in stone.”
Having started out with the investigation of Old Sir “Don’t want money’s” death and the Longevity Fruit’s whereabouts but with the subsequent events that occurred, having to focus on investigating the former Leader Leng’s cause of death. No wonder Chief He Tai Ping was so busy!
Recalling what the gongzi had previously said, Lei Lei was also sceptical: “Knowing that killing Leader Leng will create more trouble, why will Leader Wen use his special palm strike? Could he have been framed by someone, such as the evil factions?”
Wang Cong shook his head: “The technique for Xi Sha faction’s palm strike is tough and vicious and it has a distinct xinfa. How could it be imitated so easily? Besides, for someone to master it to the degree of being able to smash the internal organs without breaking any bones, there’s only Wen Ting.”
Could it really be Wen Ting? Of course he wouldn’t admit to something like this. The leader of Nan Hai faction had died wrongfully and everyone knew how Chief He would deal with the murderer. All humans are afraid of death.
Lei Lei gave it some thought before casually asking: “There’s East Mountain West Sands South Sea, why isn’t there a north?”
Everyone started to look down on her even more.
“Our Bai Sheng Manor is known as the Bei Dou of martial arts. With the Xiao Xiao Feng Ming sword defending us, the evil factions won’t dare to revolt, so there’s peace in Jianghu.”
“Even the three major factions have to somewhat submit to us, not to mention the smaller groups or factions.”
“You don’t even know this!”
It’s only now that Lei Lei fully understood Xiao Xiao Feng Ming sword’s prominence and she was filled with awe. She then enquired about another important matter: “What’s up with that Qian Yue Cave?”
Everyone’s expression changed.
Lei Lei pressed Wang Cong: “Tell me.”
Wang Cong looked around before whispering: “I’ll have to start by telling you about the evil faction back then. A hundred years ago, Nan Xing He, the leader of the evil faction was running amuck in Jianghu so the Chief created an alliance with all the major factions to get rid of him. He died by the Feng Ming sword, wielded by Xiao family’s ancestor, Xiao Min. After Nan Xing He’s death, the evil faction suffered heavy losses and split into two factions, Qian Yue Cave and Chuan Qi Valley.”
Lei Lei asked: “Chuan Qi Valley?”
Someone scoffed: “Chuan Qi Valley’s master, Fu Lou is cruel and ruthless. He not only abandoned the right path and sought refuge with the evil faction, he also killed his teacher, made off with his teacher’s wife, and married her.”
Wang Cong said: “That’s not all, Qian Yue Cave’s master, Shang Guan Qiu Yue is crafty and deceitful. Old Master didn’t kill women, yet he deliberately sent beautiful women to plot against Old Master and poison him, resulting in his death. So you mustn’t mention the three words “Qian Yue Cave” in front of Steward Zhao.”
Of course one would be at a disadvantage when using honest means to deal with evil factions, Lei Lei was not surprised. At the thought of her possibly having any relations to the evil Shang Guan Qiu Yue, she didn’t dare to continue this topic, shaking her head: “How did one Longevity Fruit cause such a dispute among the three major factions?”
Wang Cong said: “But until today, there’s still many people who are trying every possible means to find its location. I’ve heard that the Longevity Fruit has fallen into the hands of a mysterious person who will be auctioning it soon!”
Everyone was surprised: “Really?”
“It’s absolutely true!”
“It looks like Leader Leng had really been wronged.”
One after another, everyone voiced their questions but Lei Lei already knew about this and wasn’t interested so she got up and left. That person had sold the news for ten thousand silver taels, the Longevity Fruit auction will be at Bi Shui City on the night of the New Year. It’s currently the beginning of August, there’s still a long way to go before the new year.
Night, the bright moon hung high, an empty courtyard, chilly and silent. Before she knew it, ten days had already passed and everything in the manor was as usual. Tomorrow was the Mid-Autumn Festival and everyone in the manor had been preparing for the celebrations. With everyone working non stop during the day, they were exhausted by nighttime and burrowed into their blankets early.
As planned, Lei Lei quietly slipped out of her room.
The manor was built against a mountain and there was an actual hot spring at the back corner.
The pool wasn’t large, its surface steaming hot. The spring water gushed out from beneath the earth and ran off along a long canal, keeping the pool water clean and fresh. She could faintly make out the evenly sized pebbles that paved the bottom of the pool, indicating that someone had specially done this. Lei Lei could care less, this place was extremely hidden, with a few large rocks blocking it. On top of that, it was currently nighttime so she wasn’t worried about anyone coming by.
Hanging up her lantern and removing her clothes, Lei Lei carefully slid into the water along the stone’s sloping surface. Her whole body was immediately at ease.
She had gotten used to living here the past few days. The only problem was that the weather was getting colder and it was becoming more inconvenient to bathe. Fortunately, she had stumbled across this good place as she was idly wandering around.
This body should be an adult, a well-developed body with smooth and soft skin that was whiter than frost and snow. Soaking in the warm spring water brought out an attractive pink radiance and Lei Lei drooled at herself for a long time. As the feeling of comfort intensified, she started to feel drowsy.
But it was at this moment that she heard footsteps approaching from afar.
Alert, Lei Lei opened her eyes but before she could do anything else, she heard a cold voice exclaim: “Who!”
The tone was unfriendly and the initial dizziness in her head cleared abruptly. She subconsciously straightened her body, only to see the gongzi standing at the edge of the pool with a composed expression.
Lei Lei was embarrassed and surprised: “It’s late, why are you here?”
The gongzi did not answer. For the past half month, his good upbringing had been constantly challenged, mostly during times it wasn’t okay for him to lose his temper at her. Having held back for a long time, his anger quickly rose to its peak. Intentionally or not, this woman had repeatedly challenged his bottom line.
Lei Lei quickly realised that and nodded repeatedly: “Right away, I’ll step aside at once.”
The gongzi gritted his teeth: “You, get out!”
Oh? Such a calm reaction to seeing a lady bathe, the men here are pretty open. Or was it that this scene lacked the shock and temptation factor? Lei Lei looked down at her body before looking back up at him, blinking awkwardly: “I don’t think that’s a good idea?”
The gongzi ignored her: “Why aren’t you getting out!”
Realising that she had lost, Lei Lei had no choice: “Alright, fine, I’ll get out, are you first going to……”
Seeing her dillydally, the gongzi finally couldn’t help but to raise his voice: “Get out!”
Lei Lei was speechless.
It turns out that the gongzi was slightly mysophobic and it aggravated him to see someone else in his private pool. As such, he hadn’t considered the severity of this order.
Lei Lei was also slightly annoyed. There wasn’t a sign to indicate that it was a private pool. How was she to know that it was his? After appearing out of nowhere and catching her naked, he’s even forcing her to get out of the water in front of him? Hmph, if you keep insisting, laoniang is fine with it, this body isn’t mine anyway, but I’m afraid that da ge you won’t be able to handle it!
Thinking of how “Xiao Bai” looked when he blushed, she looked up at him mischievously, raising an eyebrow: “Alright, I’ll get out!”
After saying this, she slowly stood up from the water.
A beauty getting out of the bath, the spring scenery that was unfolding before his eyes, the gongzi finally realised that something was wrong and his handsome face started to turn red as he hurriedly looked away, trying hard to remain calm: “No need……you……get down!”
Lei Lei felt rather pleased, deliberately asking: “No need to get out anymore?”
The gongzi didn’t know what to do anymore. To him, only the wicked girls from Qian Yue Cave would behave like this and he didn’t have to show them any mercy, usually killing them with one strike but this woman bore no malice. He couldn’t figure it out. How could a guniang from a proper family be so thick skinned, to actually flirt with a man!
Lei Lei knew that she mustn’t go too far so she sank back into the water before slapping it and creating splashes: “Alright, wait outside. I’ll get out now and step aside!”
Not needing her reminder, the gongzi had already turned to leave but he saw something from the corner of his eyes and his gaze immediately settled on that spot, his expression first showing surprise before looking at her thoughtfully.
Seeing his sudden boldness, Lei Lei was baffled.
After some time had passed, the gongzi was still staring right at her, his expression becoming increasingly complex.
His line of sight seemed to stop somewhere beneath her neck……Alert, Lei Lei coughed and hugged her chest as she sank further into the water. No way, “Xiao Bai” had become a pervert?
With the spring scenery gone, the gongzi finally returned to normal, understanding that his prior behavior had been too rude. He blushed as he tried to explain himself: “Actually……I really wasn’t……”
This was a joke after all and although Lei Lei had good-naturedly kept up appearances, having his eyes on her for so long made her heart beat faster. Looking at him innocently —— Do you think that this is a good time to explain?
Realising that he was only making things worse, the gongzi stopped talking and turned to leave.
The sound of his footsteps disappeared.
He’s gone? Lei Lei probed: “Hey, Xiao Bai?”
After a while, a reply came from behind the rocks: “Aren’t you getting out.”
A beauty in the bath getting walked in on by a man, this plot is so melodramatic and getting increasingly Lei! Sensibly, Lei Lei quickly climbed out and put on her clothes, picking up her lantern and turning past the rock only to see the gongzi standing silently under the moonlight. Habitually, he maintained his usual bearing, standing tall and straight, quiet and aloof, as if he were in a painting, looking a little lonely, yet by no means dispirited.
This was ‘standing like a pine tree’, disposition! Maintaining poise at all times, how much practice would it take for someone to get to this point? No wonder he has such an inflexible character.
Lei Lei could never learn this demeanour in her lifetime. Secretly envying him, she walked over and pushed him with all her might.
Sure enough, the gongzi didn’t budge, only giving her a puzzled look.
Lei Lei pushed him again.
The gongzi couldn’t hold back anymore and asked: “What are you doing?”
Lei Lei gave up and held back a smile: “Your posture was too perfect and I wanted to see if I could push you over.” with special emphasis on the three words “push you over”.
Under the light, the face that had just returned to normal started to turn red again. The gongzi left without a word.
Lei Lei was having too much fun with harassing him and caught up to him: “Hey, aren’t you going to bathe?”
“Xiao Bai Xiao Bai?”
He’s obviously a shy young man, why is he pretending to be mature? Lei Lei had the urge to tease him and was very close to giving out a bold order “Come, give me a smile”. The gongzi displayed his specialty, turning a deaf ear to her words and continuing on his way sullenly. Xiao Xiao Feng Ming Sword was world renowned and it wasn’t strange to receive a girl’s affection and respect but who would dare make fun of him like that!
He finally stopped: “We’re here.”
It was only now that Lei Lei realised that she was already standing outside her room’s door and dismay immediately washed over her: “So fast!”
The corner of the gongzi’s mouth twitched.
With a handsome man beside her, Lei Lei wasn’t in the least bit sleepy and dug around for something to say: “The Mid-Autumn Festival is here, the moon is really round…….” Suddenly remembering that it was stupid to talk about things like the moon and the stars with him, she immediately stopped and said disappointedly: “I’ll go to bed now.”
She turned around to go in.
The gongzi suddenly called after her: “You…….”
Lei Lei already had one foot through the door but hearing the handsome man’s call, she immediately retracted her foot: “Yes?”
The gongzi hesitated for a long time before asking: “Why did you……” he paused.
Lei Lei was confused: “Did I what?”
The gongzi didn’t answer and looked at her for a long while before suddenly asking: “You’ve really lost your memory?”
Oh no, could it be that “Xiao Bai” had started to suspect that she was telling lies to mooch off him? Wary, Lei Lei revealed a sincere expression that even she herself wouldn’t believe if she saw it: “Really, I’m not lying to you. I don’t even know who I am, Lei Lei is just a name I blurted out. I’ll leave once I find out my identity.”
Hesitation appeared on his handsome face and the gongzi quickly shifted his gaze: “It’s alright, you can stay here with peace of mind.” a slight pause before he continued: “Don’t go out alone at night again.”
After saying this, he turned and left.
Xiao Bai seldom expressed his concern and Lei Lei was pleased as she watched him leave. Just as she was about to return to her room to rest, she felt an unexpected chill on the back of her head and the scene before her eyes immediately started to blur.
There was an unknown number of hands holding her and she could hear a man’s voice in her ear: “Hurry!”
As her consciousness slowly faded away, Lei Lei’s last thought before she completely fainted was —— Damn it, she had made up a random story about being chased by people but now there was really someone after her!
1. 北斗 (běi dǒu) – Big Dipper ; 北 (běi) also means ‘North’↩
2. (Just a recap as this was previously mentioned in the introduction) “Thunder (Lei)” refers to feeling like you’ve been hit by lightning after reading a text.↩