Chapter 3: Turned away
Lu Qingyi had never travelled so far in the twenty years that she'd been alive. She'd previously thought that travelling was just as simple as walking, but now, she realized how difficult it was.
1Though there were four people in their group, Lu Mingshu was too young to make such a journey, while she was basically half-dead with sickness. If it hadn't been for Hui Niang and Ah Sheng's support, they probably would've had to return almost as soon as they'd left Qingfeng town.
Even so, the trip was by no means easy. They had to organize their food and lodgings on the way and had even needed to sleep outside once when they couldn't reach the inn. Furthermore, Lu Qingyi's prescription couldn't be cut off, and they had to be wary of thieves at all times… Ah Sheng was an honest and simple man, while Hui Niang was just a weak woman. Considering the fact that the two had never left Qingfeng town, how much insight could they have? The journey from Dongyue to Xichuan was a thousand miles. It took them half a year to traverse the bumpy road and reach their destination.
However, the real trouble came when they reached Xichuan.
"Leave, leave, leave! Haven't I said it already? There's no one called Fu Ze in our Nine Jade Palace!"
The Nine Jade Mountain that the Nine Jade Palace was situated on was the number one mountain range in Xi Chuan. It had a total of nine tall peaks, steep terrain, and its tallest peak was so steep ordinary people couldn't climb it. If one were to look for someone in the Nine Jade Palace, they'd have to visit the Jiulü province, which was situated at the foot of the Mountain, along with the lower house of the Nine Jade Palace.
Even though Ah Sheng visited the Jiulü province a few times, he was turned away every time.
Ah Sheng wasn't very good with words, thus he could only tap his chin anxiously. "How could Fu Ze not be here? That… that's our master's name! He, he should be your Sect Leader!"
"What nonsense are you spouting? Our sect leader isn't called something like Fu Ze. Leave! If you don't, I won't be polite anymore."
Ah Sheng still wasn't willing to leave when he heard this, thus he was forced to leave after he'd endured a few hits.
Hui Niang was giving Lu Qingyi her medication when Ah Sheng returned to the small inn that currently served as their temporary residence. She sighed when she saw Ah Sheng's state. "Was it another failure?"
Ah Sheng lowered his head.
Lu Qingyi was lying on the bed when Ah Sheng returned. Her face was devoid of colour and her lips were as white as paper. Their living conditions weren't good, as the house was filled with the nauseating stench of sweat mixed with herbs.
They hadn't had much money left when they reached Xichuan. Even though they still had the silver banknotes that female had given them, Lu Qingyi refused to use the money. Thus, their only choice was to stay in a small inn.
Lu Qingyi coughed twice."I'll personally go tomorrow. No matter what, I was his wife. He's bound to show up if I make a scene."
1 "You can't madam!" Hui Niang anxiously cried, "how would your body be able to endure any blows?"
Lu Qingyi had already been half-dead when they were in Dongyue; the tough travel they'd experienced had almost dried up what little life she had left.
"Dragging this out isn't a solution either. The more I can't endure it, the faster we'll have to find Mingshu a place to live."
"Mother." Lu Mingshu pushed the door and entered. "Maybe there's a solution."
It has been said that suffering can mould a person. As much as she'd travelled, Lu Mingshu had grown day by day, to the point that both her words and actions were no longer near as childish as they'd been before. When her grandfather had been alive, she'd only cared about having fun. However, now that her grandfather was gone, and with her mother as ill as she was, she couldn't afford to be so childish.
"What sort of solution do you have?" Lu Qingyi asked.
Lu Mingshu replied, "I saw them cleaning the streets just now, so I went and asked the supervisor. The supervisor said that Zhongzhou Seven True Platform's Gentleman Lian Zhen, would arrive in Xichuan in a few days and that the Nine Jade Palace's Sect Leader might be at Jiulü province to receive him."
Ah Sheng and Hui Niang were overjoyed when they heard this unexpected news.
Hui Niang said, "Ah Sheng and I will go and block him!"
Lu Qingyi smiled, which is a rare sight ever since her father passed on. "It'll be good if there's an opportunity to do so…"
Ah Sheng left to get detailed information about Lian Zhen's visit, while Hui Niang left to finish washing the dirty laundry. This left Lu Qingyi and Lu Mingshu alone together.
Lu Mingshu removed her shoes and climbed into her mother's bed, then carefully laid by her mother's side. "Mother."
"Hmm." Lu Qingyi stroked her head.
"I found out that he… he's changed his name to ‘Fu Shangqing'. He married the Nine Jade Palace's ex-sect leader's daughter six years ago… they even have two children."
Lu Qingyi stared at Lu Mingshu in disbelief.
"Mother!" Lu Mingshu raised her head, a trace of tears could be seen in her eyes. "Can't we just go back to Dongyue? He's already forgotten about us. He's even discarded his name! I don't want such a father."
1Lu Qingyi's thin face trembled. "Don't you want to practice Martial Arts?"
"There are sects in Dongyue too. It doesn't have to be Xichuan." Lu Mingshu hugged her mother tightly as tears dripped onto her chest. "I don't want father, I just want you to live."
When her grandfather had died, she'd felt extremely awful; it was as if someone had slit open her heart and left a hole in it. Lu Mingshu looked down in regret.
Seeing Lu Mingshu's tear up, tears streamed down Lu Qingyi's cheeks too. Why would she even think of sending her daughter to the man who'd committed such treachery if she could recover? But doctor Hu had already hinted that her illness was fatal when they'd left Qingfeng. There hadn't been any exceptions, despite her visiting many different doctors on the way here.
"I've heard that martial practitioners are able to refine many different kinds of spirit pills," Lu Qingyi said lightly, "if you really want mother to live, once you've recognized your father, ask for some spirit pills to help treat mother's illness, alright?"
"Really?" A flash of light shone through Lu Mingshu's eyes.
"Really…" Lu Qingyi turned her head away to avoid her daughter's gaze.
A few days later, the Jiulü province was bustling with noise and excitements. Roads were paved and cleaned thoroughly with loess and water, while the street stalls were prohibited from operating. At the same time, the Nine Jade Palace's disciples were dispatched to clear the way; they didn't allow anyone to pass.
Lu Mingshu blended into the crowd and listened to the gossip around her.
"What a large practitioner force… which sort of influence does this Seven True Platform have, for it to get our sect leader to welcome them personally?" As Jiulü Province was located at the foot of Nine Jade Mountain, residents here were generally protected by it. Furthermore, a majority of the residents were disciples of the Nine Jade Palace, thus they had a sense of belonging to Nine Jade Palace.
"You don't know about Seven True Platform? It's one of the top three sects in the world! Seven True Platform, Jade Ancient Summit, and Heaven Sea Pavilion are the three great powers that control the world!"
"Then what about our Nine Jade Palace?"
"Our Nine Jade Palace is extremely formidable too, but we still fall short of the top three sects by just a bit…" The person speaking felt guilty when they said this. If it had been a hundred years ago, Nine Jade Palace indeed would've only been a bit short. However, as talent had been sparse these past few years, they were now inferior to the three heavenly sects by a wide margin….
"Even so, we don't have anything to fear. Our sect leader is a genius that only appears once every hundred years. Despite only joining the sect for seven years, he has already reached the Spirit Realm. It's only a matter of time before he gains insight into true intent and becomes a Grandmaster!"
"Right, right," The other person's response was sincere, "Our Nine Jade Palace will definitely blossom in the hands of the sect leader.
When noon arrived, a group of people lined up outside of Jiulu Province.
Within this group of people, the majority rode horses, while the rest rode in a carriage. On both sides of the road stood disciples from the Nine Jade Palace, as well as another dozen individuals that were either wearing plain white Taoist robes or were wearing monk robes.
Seven True Platform was a Taoist monastery, but not all were Taoist priests. The majority of them were monk disciples.
"Look, that's Gentleman Lian Zhen!"
Lu Mingshu was sitting on Ah Sheng's shoulders when she heard this. She immediately turned towards the direction the crowd were looking at.
When she turned over, she saw two monk disciples walking towards the carriage and draw the curtains apart. They then proceeded to pick up a wheelchair with a youth sitting on it and set it on the ground.
The youth appeared to be around fifteen to sixteen years old. He's extremely good-looking, as if he was a snowy peak beneath the blue skies. He was also tall and elegant. Like a star, he shone brightly among the crowd. Even though he was sitting in a wheelchair, he still seemed peaceful and had an extraordinary bearing.
Xichuan people are known to be rough. Thus, when he appeared in the crowd's sight, everyone was flabbergasted at how handsome and elegant he was.
At that moment, people began walking forward at a fast pace from the other direction. A thirty-plus-year-old male was leading the group. He had average features and a gaze that exuded strength. His clothes were that of the Nine Jade Palace's sect leader, which made him look at ease and handsome, yet at the same time imposing.
When Ah Sheng saw this person, he became so agitated that he couldn't speak. Only when Hui Niang patted him on the back did he shout, "Master, master, I'm Ah Sheng!"