Du Hong was having her moment, befitting her name. 
She was fairly popular before, but now, she was the "it-employee". In merely three days, she rose to the number one masseuse of the salon. It had become common scene that seven or eight customers would line up for her at a time.
She was often too busy to serve all customers and had to ask that non-talkative girl for help, and the latter as a result made quite a lot of extra cash. The other masseurs watched all this in envy. They tried to find faults with her, directly and indirectly, but it was to no avail. Their skills were simply not as good.
It was early December now and as usual, the salon was going to rank the therapists it employed by their performance in the previous month, giving them some incentive by giving out bonuses.
Needless to say, Du Hong was at the top of the list and received a large bonus, which she took while others eyed her enviously. The performance of the second place was nowhere close to hers, let alone the third.
"Keep at it, everybody. Take sister Hong as your example… Fei Fei is the second this time, such a pity. Work hard next time!"
"Clap! Clap! Clap!"
After the awkward ceremony was over, Du Hong went up to the manager and said, "Brother, I have some errands to run and need to go out in the evening."
"Are you coming back tonight?"
"I'll be back tomorrow morning."
"Sure, go ahead!"
Being the star employee made her request easily granted. Having obtained the permission, Du Hong changed her clothes, went downstairs, hailed a taxi and went straight to the hotel.
She stopped outside a room on the seventh floor and knocked lightly.
Cheng Gang opened the door, and held her up as soon as he set eyes on her and gave her a passionate kiss. "What took you so long? I was dying waiting for you."
"Aiya, stop messing with me. Put me down first."
"You have to make it up to me for keeping me waiting."
"Sweetheart, at least let me take off my coat."
"No need for that. It's my birthday today and I'm calling the shots!"
"Hey! Stop it..."
The noise grew weaker at first, but then became louder, turning into waves of groans.
What took place in there was comparable to a gale sweeping away the fallen leaves and a downpour ravaging the leaves of banana trees. After a passionate rolling in the hay, Cheng Gang lay in bed, fatigued and satisfied. Holding the woman's soft and smooth body between his arms, he could not help but exclaimed, "Hong Hong, you're absolutely awesome."
"You're sucking my bones dry."
"Haha, you're making it sound like I'm a White Bone Demon. I'm a little goblin at most, whom no one wanted."
She caressed the chest of the man.
Cheng Gang shuddered instinctively at the touch, but looked rather distressed. After a long moment, he asked, "Hong Hong, how long have we known each other?"
"Five years. It's been four years since I first slept with you."
She found the question rather strange. Raising her head, she asked, "Anything wrong? Why the sudden question?"
"If, I mean if I were divorced, would you stay with me?" The question was unexpected.
Du Hong was the one surprised now, but she immediately replied with a chuckle. "Don't be silly. I don't want you to leave your wife and child. We're fine like this."
"Haha, yeah, you're right."
Cheng Gang blurted that out on a whim and regretted it as soon as he said it. Since the woman had shown him a way out, he was more than happy to pretend nothing had happened. Du Hong, on the other hand, was burying in his chest, blinking her pretty almond-shaped eyes with an indescribable expression in her eyes.
This man had been acting very strangely lately. They used to only see each other a few times each month, but he was becoming extremely attached to her, buying her bags worth tens of thousands without a blink. He wouldn't even go home on his birthday and spent the night in a hotel, which had never happened before…
In fact, she was pretty sure that it was the effect of that tattered book. Just now, when he mentioned getting divorced out of the blue, she actually fantasized about that idea for a moment. After all, who wouldn't want to settle down?
Of course, with years of work in her industry, she was no longer an innocent girl. She would never let that thought show.
The night passed in passion and lust.
The following morning, they left the hotel separately as usual. When Cheng Gang got home, he found that instead of going to their company, his wife was waiting for him in the living room.
"Where were you last night?"
"Didn't I tell you already? I was at a party with my friends!"
"Is that so? You spent your birthday night partying with friends and left me and your child at home? Fang Fang stayed up until midnight, hoping to see you taste the cake she made herself. And what did you do? You come back only just now?"
"I don't want to fight with you at this early hour."
Cheng Gang lost his patience. He was going to rest for a while at home but had abandoned the idea by now. "I'm going to the company. I won't be home for dinner."
He slammed the door after him. His wife went pale with rage. She had always known that her husband had affairs with other women, but they used to be tolerable and within a certain limit. This time, however, it was different. She felt threatened.
"Hello? Is that Xiao Li?"
Calming herself down a bit, she dialed a number. "Yes, get someone to find out for me which b*tch he is losing his head over!"
With some instructions, she hung up, brewed in hatred. 'When I find you, you're finished!'
A protruding stone slipped off the cliff after being stepped on; it rolled down with snow and dirt. Gu Yu lost his footing on the left side and was dropping abruptly.
He pushed against the cliff with his right foot hastily, which allowed him to bounce away half a meter. He then bent his legs slightly and landed on the solid ground with a deft movement. Xiaozhai, who was almost at the top, was relieved to see his safe landing and, pressing her palm against the cliff, leapt onto the top.
Gu Yu shook his head and had to start his climbing from the bottom again.
It was after quite some time before they both stood on top of a steep cliff deep in the deserted mountains and looked into the distance. The snow was quite heavy. The tips of the pine trees and stones were all covered by a layer of white, which was glistening with a golden glow under the sunlight.
The Peak of Ten Thousand Buddhas was very eye-catching on the horizon. Its bold cliff soared above the others, rising abruptly from a flat terrain. A bronze hall stood on its top, towering aloft alone like a deity.
"There's nothing here and we have to head towards that direction."
"Luckily, Emei is not that vast, or we'd die here."
"Hey, if we start one of those outdoor survival livestreams, we might get a lot of viewers. It's such a waste of resources walking all by ourselves here."
"Forget it. You don't have the looks of an internet celebrity."
They bantered on, their breaths turning into white steam in the air. Both were panting slightly. After examining the terrain, they marched further onto the mountain, trudging in deep snow.
They had been on the mountain for three days.
The scenic spots of Emei were mostly lined up along two routes. From Qingyin [TL/N: "crystal sound"] Pavilion, the Front Route was to the left, which ran through the Monkey Zone, Hongchun Level Ground, Ninety-Nine Bends, etc. To the right was the Back Route, leading to the Temple of Ten Thousand Years, the Elder's Level Ground, and other places.
They had examined all scenic spots thoroughly and found nothing out of the ordinary. The Monkey Zone, however, had turned out to be slightly problematic.
The mountain was swarming with monkeys, whose main habitat was the Monkey Zone. Most of the monkeys had been trained by the management people, some of which were dodgy enough to instigate the monkeys to pester the tourists so that latter would buy food to feed the monkeys.
Gradually, the monkeys grew used to such behavior and their unruliness was out of hand.
The monkeys were the most dangerous especially during winter, when there were fewer tourists around and the former suffered due to their hunger. People had to pass the area in pairs and hide their belongings. Under no circumstances should they carry anything in their hands.
When they walked past the area, a girl did not fully zip up her backpack and a monkey jumped onto her back, rampaging through her stuff. The girl was crying in terror, but dared not move.
Gu Yu flipped his fingers inconspicuously and the monkey went rigid on the spot, and almost died. The management personnel tried to hold Gu Yu responsible by blaming him for causing the scene. It was thanks to the testimony from the crowd that the matter was dropped.
Similar to their exploration of Tianzhu Mountain, they had divided Emei into seven regions and investigated them one at a time. Based on the experience they'd gained earlier, they mainly focused on enclosed areas such as caves, underground caverns, and secluded valleys, which had improved their efficiency greatly.
They kept moving until well into the afternoon, when they found a level area to set up their camp. There wasn't much game available during winter and Gu Yu caught some fish from the freezing river. Xiaozhai stuck to her wild vegetable soup.
Before long, the lunch was ready and they each dug into their respective fish and vegetable dishes.
Both were getting bored. As beautiful as the snow-wrapped mountains were, the view grew less impressive as time passed. The monotonous stretch of whiteness felt bland.
The roasted fish was crispy and tender and the vegetable soup tasted refreshing and sweet. The aroma of both dishes filled the air.
While they were dining in vapidity, the trees rustled and something fell down with a thud. They looked up and saw a little monkey about 15 cm tall, covered by white fur and with a swarthy face, its gaze fixed upon their food.
The white monkey was exceptionally spiritual and was acting like a greedy human child completely captivated by something delicious.
It was a delicate situation. A moment passed when Gu Yu sighed, "Why do they always show up when we're eating?"
"It's a compliment on our cooking!"
Xiaozhai put down her lunchbox, sliding it across the slippery ground. Gu Yu also picked up a roasted fish, a not-too-hot one, and tossed it over.
Catching it between its front paws, the white monkey took a skeptical bite. Its ugly yet adorable face lightened up into a grin and it went on making woo-woo noises in excitement.
Let's refresh our memory. Nodes of spiritual essence were characterized by: one, an enclosed environment; two, mutated creatures.
The two watched the monkey as it danced around in joy, and the joy was mutual. They smiled, "Good boy, take your time. After you're fed, you're going to take us to your home."
 TL/N: Hong (红) literally means "red" and could also take the meaning of 'being very popular'.