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As spiritual as the white monkey might be, it was still an innocent cub and was soon swept off its feet by their coaxing.

It was a piece of cake. All they did was being nice to it, in the same manner as when one asked a girl out and satisfied all her needs. The nicety would simply make her feel guilty for not getting a room in the end.

Consequently, after gorging on the delicacies, the white monkey got up to its feet and took the initiative to lead the way, its stomach plump and round.

They could not tell the gender of the little monkey, but it was scarily agile, traversing the mountains and woods as if running on level ground. Had the two been less able, they would have lost track of it soon.



Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were running at full speed. The slope they passed was getting steeper and they ended up climbing up a wall, stopping on a protruding horizontal rock.

"Squeak!"

The white monkey stopped briefly. It turned around and squeaked at them, then leapt off, disappearing from their sight.

They hurried near and looked down. The place was surrounded by steep cliffs, enclosing a lower ground in the center. Beneath was a wild profusion of vegetation, which grew densely together, forming a small forest.

"How high up are we?" Xiaozhai asked.

"The trees are blocking my view. I can't say for sure, probably over twenty meters."

"Good. The ropes are coming in handy."

Xiaozhai fumbled out a bundle of rope, which they bought in Shengtian and had not got a chance to use up till now. They tied it around a stump and let the other end fall down the rock. They then put it around their waists and thighs, descending slowly by thrusting their feet against the stone wall.

It wasn't particularly difficult; anyone with a minimal amount of training could manage that. Before long, they hit the ground. Looking up and taking in the surroundings, they were instantly amazed.

It was a feeling of "the moment".

It was comparable to when an ignorant teenager who had entered a girl's bedroom for the first time, or an overtime worker returned late and looked up to find light coming out of his bedroom window, or a drunken stranger to the city stumbling out of a tavern, stunned by the moonlight coloring everything silver.

From the vast world of whiteness, they had fallen into a green paradise without warning.

It was a clear, tranquil, and otherworldly place. There was not a single trace of disturbance or trespassers. Every single tree was tall and straight, as if they had been here since the beginning of the time, free from all the changes in the outside world.

"..."

Landing in this world left them in a trance. They did not come to themselves until the white monkey squeaked again. The little thing was squatting on a branch blinking its big eyes, apparently quite impressed by their physical capability.

"Thanks! We'll treat you to something nice if we run into each other again!"

Gu Yu beckoned at the monkey, then started to breathe in the spiritual essence of the place. Shortly after, he gasped in admiration. "It should be somewhere between a 6 and a 7, slightly denser than in Tianzhu. This would be a perfect spot for cultivation, though. I'm almost thinking of moving here."

"Watch out, what if you trigger a flag? You might just end up living here… check the other side." [1]

The forest was fairly small and they covered the area in half an hour.

It was a mystical place. The little monkey was the only living creature here. There was little of the smaller vegetation apart from some sparse grass. The big trees seemed to have hogged all the nutrients.

"These are all Red Dragon Trees. The wood beneath the tree bark is completely red and very hard. It'd take a hundred years for them to grow this thick."

Xiaozhai patted on one of the big trees, her eyes filled with joy.

"How do they compare to the tree on Phoenix Mountain?" Gu Yu asked.

"That one is what we call an 'old leather skin'. It's got plenty of branches and leaves and the wood is very ductile. Good for making clubs, sticks, or large spears."

Shaking her head, Xiaozhai sighed unexpected. "Sigh, I'm getting a stronger feeling everyday that we're understaffed. With an extra pair of hands, I could bring a piece of this wood back."

"What for?" He asked in amazement.

"To make swords."

"Swords? You know swordplay?" He was indeed surprised.

"A little. Steel swords are off-limits nowadays, but I figure wooden ones should be fine. This wood is the right material."

"That's why you're playing with everything pointy or with a sharp edge…"

The revelation dawned on Gu Yu. He went on, "Snaking-controlling, wood-appraising, that hand movement of yours, and now the swordsmanship, what's the last one left of the five ordinary skills you mentioned?"

"What's the fun in telling you everything right away?" Xiaozhai chuckled.

'Tsk!'

He would be hopelessly speechless when faced with such teasing before, but now that they had been together long enough, he was getting better at talking back. "In that case, would I lose all the fun after you show me everything?"

"We'll see at that time."

"Then why did you tell me that just now?"

"Because I felt like it!"

"..."

"Ma'am, you can't go up there! Ma'am…"

"Get lost! Du Hong, come out! You have the guts to steal my husband and you're suddenly ashamed of yourself now?"

Inside the salon, all hell broke loose on the first floor, accompanied by shuffling footsteps. In an instant, the footsteps moved up to the second floor where they stopped briefly and moved further up.

"Du Hong! Du Hong! Come out, you little who*re!"

A well-dressed woman in her forties was yelling frantically, her fine clothes unable to disguise her sallow face. The customers looked on, the masseurs and masseuses took pleasure in Du Hong's downfall, and the waiters were blocking the woman's advance with all their effort.

"Ma'am, please leave now, or I'll call the police!"

"Your employee is sleeping with someone's husband and you dare call the damn police?"

The woman was extremely imposing. One could tell she had had her fair share of hustling around. She was about to yell again when the crowd parted, revealing a woman with long hair.

"Are you Du Hong?"

"Yes…"

"Slap!"

The woman slapped her without a single word. Du Hong was taken by surprise and her right cheek flushed, the hand print clearly visible on her face.

"You who*re! Have your parents brought you up to be so shameless?"

The woman would not let go easily and went on cursing. "If you like sleeping with men so much, don't massage them, be a full-time hooker already! You who*res are always acting like little virgins!"

"..."

Du Hong was confused, both from the slap and the condemnation. Judging from the woman's expression, she realized that she was Cheng Gang's legitimate wife. Du Hong was never a shrewish person. Her specialty was in being gentle and understanding. There was no way she could start a verbal contest with his wife.

"Enough with that face. Who are you sniveling for?"

Seeing Du Hong's reaction, the woman grew angrier and held out her hand, trying to hit Du Hong again.

The owner of the salon hurried near at this moment and tried to soothe her, "Sister, please calm down! It's all her fault, but after all, this is between you two and we're trying to run a business here. Would you be so kind and take this outside?"

"Humph!"

The woman gave him a sideway look and said, "Mark my words. If you dare contact my husband again, I'll strip you naked and drag you through the streets!"

With that, she left, leaving behind a crowd of animated onlookers as they discussed the drama.

"Ok, this thing is over. Get back to whatever you were doing!"

The boss felt his head was going to explode. After getting rid of the crowd, he said with vexation, "Ah Hong, come with me."

Taking Du Hong back to his office, he said nothing but smoked one cigarette after another. After a while, he said, "Ah Hong, you've been here for so long and we're practically friends. But you've seen what happened today. It's bad for business. I really can't…"

"Brother, I won't make it difficult for you. I'll quit," replied Du Hong calmly.

"Sigh. I feel bad for doing this to you. Stay here for the time being, until you find a new job."

"That's ok. I'll pack my stuff now."

With that, she returned to her dormitory promptly, welcomed by the cutting remarks from her roommates. That younger sister was the only one showing kindness by asking, "Sister Hong, what did the boss say?"

"It's fine. I won't be working here any more. Keep up the good work."

Stroking her hair, Du Hong smiled, "Aiya, don't cry. You have my number. Call me if you miss me."

Quickly organizing her belongings, she put everything in a suitcase and went to the accountant. The boss was kind-hearted enough to give her three months worth of basic salary.

After everything was sorted out, she walked out carrying the suitcase. It was only then that she wiped the tears off her face.

Standing by the street, Du Hong had the strong feeling that nothing was predictable. An hour ago, she had a job and a roof above her head; an hour later, she had no idea where she would stay for the night.

[1] ED/N: I think it's already appeared once... anyway, for those unaware, flag is a turning point (usually something you do or say) that leads to a particular event/development. It can be negative (jinx), but could also be positive.

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