The seating arrangement for the main table at Wudang's birthday dinner this year was slightly different.
Besides Ji WuDi, Yuan AoCe was also appointed to the main table as a fill-in for DuanMu HuiChun who happened to be absent this year. Originally, Fan JiJing was among the people that were invited too, but he didn't want to be separated from Hua HuaiXiu and therefore excused himself from it. Even though Hua HuaiXiu didn't say anything after knowing about it, he was quite pleased on the inside.
At any rate, all people sitting at the main table were influential figures in the pugilistic world. If Fan JiJing wanted to expand the Jiuhua Sect, his best option was to take advantage of this opportunity and become acquainted with them. But Fan JiJing turned it down gracefully for his sake. Wouldn’t it indicate that his position in Fan JiJing's heart had already surpassed that of the Jiuhua Sect?
Another person who made the same decision as Fan JiJing was Lu QingYi.
Lu QingYi had always remained at a respectful distance away from these grand occasions in the martial arts circles, and therefore he didn't attend the birthday dinner last year. However, since he showed up this year, he was inevitably invited to the main table. Hence, Cheng ChengCheng who sat at the main table last year ended up not having a place.
But Lu QingYi declined the invitation first before the situation became awkward for Wudang. In order to keep him company, Cheng ChengCheng also turned it down gracefully.
Thus, the main table which didn't have enough seats in the beginning was now left with an empty space.
XiaoFeng DaoZhang wanted to invite the leader of Yanyun Stronghold over, but LingYun DaoZhang stopped him with a wave of his hand.
"Let's keep it for now. Maybe people are still making their way." He was the Zhangmen of the Wudang Sect in public, while in fact, he was also an Elder in the Demonic Sect. He had already received news that Mingzun Feng GuDao and Xueyi Hou were now together on their way to Wudang. With their speed, they probably would arrive either today or tomorrow.
Ji WuDi mumbled to himself, "No one is coming here with a written declaration for a fight again this time, right?"
Xueshan Sect's Zhangmen Fang QiuShui said, "Sect Leader Ji's luck won't be this good every time."
Ji WuDi's mouth twitched. "It's clearly because Wudang's fengshui was bad. Just look, I stay at the Huihuang Sect every day and yet nothing happens."
Songshan Sect's Zhangmen Sun YuLiang had never found him to be pleasing to the eyes from the very beginning, especially after the wide spread rumors nowadays about Huihuang Sect acting in collusion with the Demonic Sect. The disdain in heart towards Ji WuDi became even greater, and he immediately followed up, "How is it the same? Wudang was a leading sect in the pugilistic world. So of course, it tends to stir up those evil unorthodox sects to come and provoke things."
Ji WuDi blinked. "Then they should have come to provoke LingYun DaoZhang instead? Why did they provoke me?" He was referring to the Lanyan League.
Sun YuLiang lost his words.
In fact, no matter how much he thought about it, he couldn't figure out why the Lanyan League had declared a battle with Ji WuDi at that time. Of course, it never occurred to him that the reason behind it was that Zhong Yu actually wanted to lure Ji WuDi to Mount Pini to kill him to secure his position as the leader of the Lanyan League.
After a moment of fruitless pondering, Sun YuLiang could only blame the sect leader of the Lanyan League for having a unique, awful taste.
Seeing the atmosphere become awkward, Fang QiuShui actively stood up and toasted LingYun DaoZhang with a greeting, “May DaoZhang's happiness be as immense as the East Sea, and may you live as long as the Zhongnan Mountains!”
Ji WuDi whispered to Yuan AoCe, "Ah-Ce, he said my line."
Yuan AoCe replied, "It can't be helped when you prepare such a common line."
Ji WuDi asked, "What did Ah-Ce prepare?"
Yuan AoCe looked at him from the corner of his eyes, "You want to take mine and use it?"
Ji WuDi smiled with no sense of guilt whatsoever.
"Be safe and happy."
Ji WuDi blinked, "Then?"
"…" Silence after silence, Ji WuDi finally gave up holding himself and asked, "You sure this is not a parent's expectation for their children?"
Yuan AoCe raised his eyebrows. "Take it or forget it.”
"Ahem, ahem." LingYun DaoZhang coughed drily . Even though it was not altogether inexcusable for Yuan AoCe to say something like this to him as the Anzun of the Demonic Sect, at the moment, he was still putting on airs as the Wudang Sect's Zhangmen. Therefore, he could only stand up to divert the topic, "Thanks a lot to everyone with the same ideals for going through the trouble of traveling a long distance to come here. This poor daoist only has a cup of watery wine, and I'll empty it first as a show of respect."
The whole audience stood up, and they all finished their wine with one gulp.
In the middle, a melodious xiao sound suddenly appeared. A cool breeze delivered it to everyone's ears, making their hearts feel light.
LingYun DaoZhang glanced at Yuan AoCe.
Yuan AoCe slightly nodded.
Ji WuDi said, "Ah, Feng GuDao came." His words had obviously verified many people's conjectures as they all looked outside one after the other.
LingYun DaoZhang hurriedly got up and walked out of the hall.
Hua HuaiXiu had long been curious about this Mingzun from the rumors, especially after hearing that this person was granted the title Mingzun by the Imperial Court, and yet he was not rejected by the people in their Cult. The truth behind this fact alone could already have people lost in reverie.
Seeing him stretch his neck in expectation, Fan JiJing simply grabbed him, and walked outside.
Hua HuaiXiu was taken aback for a moment. He strived to free himself from Fan JiJing's hand but it only became tighter.
"You…" He looked around nervously, but luckily, everyone's attention was drawn by Mingzun. No one had noticed them as they blended in with the crowd.
Outside of Wudang's main hall stood a man. His sky-colored robe was fluttering in the wind together with his black hair, making him appear particularly free and elegant.
"Mingzun." LingYun DaoZhang cupped his hands.
Feng GuDao put down the jade xiao, and exchanged a tacit glance with him. "Feng GuDao is here to wish DaoZhang's happiness to be as immense as the East Sea, and may you live as long as the Zhongnan Mountains."
LingYun DaoZhang expressed his thanks repeatedly.
Ji WuDi stood next to Yuan AoCe, and whispered, "So a used line can be used again."
Feng GuDao followed the voice, and looked at him, then smiled as he greeted, "Sect Leader Ji, I believe you've been well since we last met."
Ji WuDi replied, "If you can give Xiao-Yuyu to me, then not only will I be well, I will even have happiness as immense as the East Sea, and live as long as the Zhongnan Mountains."
Feng GuDao raised his eyebrows. "After thinking about it carefully, I think it's not a bad thing if Sect Leader Ji is slightly not so well."
While the two of them were quarreling, they heard the sound of horse hoofs and wheels coming closer and closer.
LingYun DaoZheng looked at Feng GuDao in surprise, and asked, "Perhaps, Mingzun came with friends?"
Feng GuDao smiled, but it looked like he was sighing. "Yes."
The carriage gradually entered everyone's sight. The person driving the carriage was actually a cute little boy. He was wearing a cold look as if nothing in the world could catch his eyes.
Ji WuDi's eyes brightened up. "Xiao-Yuyu."
Xue MingYu's mouth twitched. He turned a deaf ear to Ji WuDi and looked at Feng GuDao. "Dad, all this waiting has made father anxious."
A light breeze passed by, and the curtains behind him swayed slightly, revealing a small gap between them. Even though it was only the tip of an iceberg, people still clearly saw the delicate hand resting on the knees, which was fine as white jade.
The majority of people in this world had the natural tendency to toss and turn restlessly when they sought something that they failed to obtain.
Seeing a hand but not the entire body ended up making them itch even more inside, wishing they could lift the curtain to see his true features.
"LingYun DaoZhang." Even though Xue LingBi didn't lift the curtain as they had wished, he still opened his mouth, "I hope that some years later, my son would be able to come to Wudang by himself to congratulate your longevity." He didn't think it worthwhile to pay attention to the martial artists, but LingYun was an Elder of the Demonic Sect, so he had to show some respect to him at least.
LingYun DaoZhang cupped his fist and said, "Thank you Marquis, for your kind words."
Xue LingBi continued, "We need to find a place in the town to rest before dusk." He obviously wasn't saying this to LingYun DaoZhang.
But the people at the scene all thought LingYun DaoZhang would probably take this opportunity to urge this noble from the Imperial Court to stay.
To everyone's surprise, LingYun DaoZhang only replied with a faint smile, "If that's the case, you should start your descent soon before it gets late."
Everyone felt it was a great pity, but since the host had already said so, they didn't have a say.
Feng GuDao then bid farewell to everyone respectively. It was indeed a tough job that he could actually call out the name of each of the hundred or more people present. When it was Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing's turn, he even specially made an invitation. Fan JiJing knew the invitation was partially for the sake of their friendship with Ji Wudi, and partially because Feng GuDao probably also wanted to build a closer relationship with the Jiuhua Sect, so he agreed to it at once.
Xue LingBi became impatient waiting inside the carriage, and it made the horse restless as well.
Feng GuDao had to hurriedly take his leave and climbed into the carriage.
The curtain lifted. Everyone fell over each other with their necks outstretched. Just as expected, they saw a remarkably beautiful man sitting upright in the center.
Although it was only a glimpse of astonishment, it was enough for them to see clearly.
If Hua HuaiXiu was said to be a bright flower, then Xue LingBi was a dazzling gem. The two of them were equally capable of letting people fall in love with them at first sight and make it hard to restrain themselves.
Only after the carriage turned around and slowly treaded out of sight did everyone reluctantly withdraw their eyes.
Speaking of it, Feng GuDao's party rather overshadowed the host. Even LingYun DaoZhang went out to welcome them. All guests were discontent inside, but since the main figure today hadn't complained, it would be inappropriate for them to say anything.
Everyone went back inside and reseated themselves.
To be honest, whenever the Longevity Dinner in Wudang was held every year, it was held ceremoniously each time. Even though it had become a grand occasion among the martial artists, it lacked some freshness.
After everyone present congratulated LingYun DaoZhang in order, they each started to chat about this and that with their familiar friends.
Ji WuDi was bored sitting at the main table, so he dragged Yuan AoCe to seek shelter from the table where Fan JiJing was at.
Fan JiJing's table was extremely lively already. Lu QingYi and Cheng ChengCheng were both sitting here. With them joining, there wasn't much space left for the others to cut into the conversation. Soon, the other people there all tactfully moved over to other tables.
Ji WuDi suddenly came up with a wild idea, "How about we find another day to hold weddings together?" He paused for a second and supplemented, "This way we could earn three shares of congratulatory gifts with one wedding reception. It's really amazingly cost-effective."
Yuan AoCe glanced at him, and asked, "Aren't you just trying to join the fun?"
"I'm going to join the fun too. But Ah-Ce, you know how stingy Ah-Zuo is. He held such an impressive wedding reception last time, and yet he still got mad at me and even deducted my monthly salary. It's all because he didn't profit enough from the congratulatory gifts!"
…Was it because he didn't profit enough from the congratulatory gifts?
Yuan AoCe was speechless as he drank his wine.
Seeing Yuan AoCe ignore him, Ji WuDi turned to Fan JiJing for support, "Fake Idiot, what do you think?"
Fan JiJing didn't make any comments on the "fake idiot". He simply smiled, "I listen to Cousin."
Before Ji WuDi could ask, Hua HuaiXiu had already nailed his decision, "Don't even think about it." It was no wonder why Fan JiJing had become like this. It was probably because he had spent too much time with Ji WuDi, and one tended to take his colors from the surroundings. Hua HuaiXiu made up his mind that he must not let Fan JiJing be too to Ji WuDi.
Ji WuDi then looked at Cheng ChengCheng and Lu QingYi.
Cheng ChengCheng lowered his head and coughed lightly.
Lu QingYi glanced at Cheng ChengCheng, then replied lazily, "Wait after you've convinced Hua HuaiXiu."
Hua HuaiXiu: "…" These foxes!
Fortunately, the Lanyan League had been wiped out already. The pugilistic world was quiet peaceful lately, and there wasn't any major event that needed to be discussed. Therefore, the next day after the birthday dinner, each sect returned to their respective homes one after another.
Hua HuaiXiu was so annoyed by Ji WuDi that after dragging Fan JiJing to say goodbye to LingYun DaoZhang, they became one of the first guests to leave.
After traveling to the foot of the mountain, they saw an extremely luxurious carriage stopping in the middle of their only way out.
Fan JiJing saw Hua HuaiXiu slow down his steps and his eyes gradually becoming red. He had guessed who was sitting in this carriage. He grabbed Hua HuaiXiu's hand backhandedly, then dragged him forward.
The carriage door opened, and Hua YunHai slowly walked out. Seeing their hands firmly together, his face couldn't help but stiffen. But he soon turned his head to the side, shouting coldly, "The two of you sure don't avoid anything even in broad daylight!"
Hua HuaiXiu tried to pull back his hand, but Fan JiJing had grabbed it tightly. He smiled, "In front of Uncle, what do we need to avoid?"
Because of what happened in the past, Hua YunHai always felt shorter when facing Fan JiJing. He simply ignored him and directly asked Hua HuaiXiu, "Your mother, let me ask you, are you coming back home in Mid Autumn Festival next year to take a look?"
Hua HuaiXiu blinked a few times as if he didn't believe it.
"Just to stay at an inn nearby so the two of you can meet each other." After Hua YunHai finished, he turned back and went inside the carriage, then ordered the coachman to drive it up Mount Wudang. The reason he came late was his reluctance to face Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing.
Hua HuaiXiu stared at the carriage direction respectfully. The corners of his eyes were slightly wet.
Fan JiJing stood by him in silence. He had always faced predicaments by himself ever since he was young, so he didn't know how to comfort others. All he could do was leave the other person with enough space and time to adjust themselves.
The carriage gradually disappeared into the mountain forest.
Hua HuaiXiu threw back his head and blinked hard to make his tears flow back, then finally said, "Let's go."
"I'll accompany you when you go back next year."
Extra 2: Rumor in Jiuhua
Shi JiZhong couldn't figure it out.
In terms of appearance, he could only be considered to have some good-looking features. Not to mention Hua HuaiXiu, even comparing himself to zhangmen or eldest shixiong would make him feel ashamed of his inferiority. In that case, how did he made a little girl cry like hell while following him after a trip down the mountain, as she claimed that she would marry no one except him?
Apart from being puzzled, he was also depressed.
The reason was that despite the fact that this event was settled by zhangmen, in the end, eldest shixiong's attitude towards him went all the way down into the drain. It changed from being the original pamperer to the ignorant and indifferent person today.
He felt he should find a chance to explain it clearly. In fact, he really had no affection for that little girl at all.
Just as he was thinking about it, he saw Guan Xing walking directly toward him. When the other person saw Shi JiZhong, he turned away and headed towards a different direction.
"Eldest shixiong!" Shi JiZhong jumped. Why did his voice sound so hoarse?
Guan Xing paused. He slowly turned around.
Shi JiZhong hurriedly went towards him, his three steps becoming two, grabbed his hand, and said, "Eldest shixiong!"
Guan Xing pulled his hand out of the other person's palms unobtrusively, then replied plainly, "Shidi."
He had such an indifferent attitude that all explanations Shi JiZhong had originally prepared were stuck right in his throat. After a long time, he finally blurted out one sentence, "She and I are not like what shixiong thinks."
"En, I know." Guan Xing secretly clenched his fist tightly.
"Shixiong, you…" Shi JiZhong wanted to ask why Guan Xing treated him this way if he had already known, but he was too thin-skinned. The words circled and rolled on his tongue, but he just couldn't voice them out.
Seeing Shi JiZhong standing so close to him, Guan Xing was agitated on the inside. Especially when that girl came to their door that day. He even had an impulse to tear her to shreds! It was exactly because he had sensed the dark side in his heart that he had no choice but to keep a distance between him and Shi JiZhong so as to not fall deeper and deeper. "It's getting cold these days. I'm wondering if second shidi and youngest shimei have gotten used to living in the mountain back there yet. I'll go check."
Shi JiZhong stared at Guan Xing's back as he fled in panic. He opened his mouth, but he didn't shout out in the end.
This deadlock had lasted for several days until a young disciple in the Jiuhua Sect brought back a verbal message.
Song BoLin frowned, "Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong are already married? Who let this rumor spread?"
The little disciple secretly looked towards where the zhangmen was residing.
Song BoLin was speechless. After quite a while, he waved his hand and said, "Go copy the entire manuscript of the Xianlian Sword a hundred times."
The little disciple was at a loss.
"You simply had too much free time. That's why your mind is set on this type of nonsense!"
The little disciple reluctantly excused himself.
Song BoLin walked around the room and suddenly flung his sleeves, saying, "I also have too much free time! Why do I care so much about other people's business?"
By the way, ever since the rumor about Guan Xing and Shi JiZhong flew about every corner on Mount Jiuhua, no girl threw themselves at those two anymore. The Jiuhua Sect became a lot quieter at once.
Shi JiZhong was also pleasantly surprised that the original pampering eldest shixiong came back.
Hua HuaiXiu and Fan JiJing sat on the roof. They were watching Guan Xing giving directions to each move of Shi JiZhong's martial arts at a distance, while eating peanuts and chatting at the same time.
Hua HuaiXiu asked, "That's it?"
Fan JiJing replied, "The master leads you to the door, and the rest is up to you."
Hua HuaiXiu said, "With Guan Xing's temper and Shi JiZhong's comprehensive ability, I'm afraid the two of them will drag on like this till they die."
“There's nothing bad as long as they are together. Besides,” Fan JiJing threw his arm around Hua HuaiXiu's waist and slowly leaned over. "Nuzzling is a kind of dragging on as well." 
"This is the roof…"
"Right. Doing it on the roof is the same as doing it on the bed…" 
 A pun. "Dragging on" and "nuzzling/cuddling" uses the same verb in Chinese. [back]
 A pun. The verb for "Doing it/Having sex" is the same character as the preposition "on top of". [back]
 Magpie is called "happy/lucky bird" in Chinese. Its presence is considered as a good omen. It is also the birds that appeared in Qixi, the Chinese Valentine's Day, so that it also symbolizes love relationship, or maybe even more lol~ [back]