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Cloudy day. The city of Shengtian.

Outside Shanhaiguan Pass were four provinces with over a hundred cities varying in scale, among which Shengtian was one of the most outstanding cities. Ever since its establishment 2000 years ago, the city had gone through numerous developments and evolutions but remained the most important and historical city in northeast China in terms of political, economical and cultural influence.

At eleven in the morning, Gu Yu threaded his way through the steam of people at the exit of South Station. The first thing he did was take in a deep breath before a disgusted look immediately swept across his face.



The city was never famous for its air quality, but the odor was stronger than ever now. One could tell the level of pollution in the air just by breathing alone, which was beyond repellent.

Needless to say, the concentration of spiritual essence here was next to nothing.

Gu Yu had spent two years in a university here and was familiar with the public transportation. He directly set off for the nearest subway station and bought a 3-yuan ticket there.

He had a tight schedule today.

It took him four hours to reach Shengtian by bus from Bai Town and he was meeting Xiaozhai at 11:30. He then needed to visit the medicine material market in the afternoon and the last bus back to Bai Town was at five o’clock.

He could travel by train, but Bai Town was a mountainous region and high-speed railways were not set up there. The only trains there were the old-fashioned green carriages; their swaying and clanking movement could whisk one’s brain into scrambled eggs.

It was Friday and while it wasn’t the rush hour yet, the subway was still packed. Gu Yu stood steadily in a corner as his eyes wandered around from time to time. Most of the passengers were young people wearing thin layers of clothes suitable for this time of the year. They chuckled and giggled, whispering to one another—standard carefree urban youngsters.

To be honest, each time he visited Shengtian, he always felt some melancholy, as if mourning for his unfinished university life. Those two years were rather short, but it had been the happiest and most eye-opening period in his life.

Well, the life he was living now was eye-opening as well, only on a totally different level. He was cultivating towards immortality now!

"Buzz, buzz, buzz!"

While he was immersed in his thoughts, his cell phone vibrated in his pocket, which turned out to be a message from Xiaozhai. "Where are you now?"

"On the subway," he replied.

"Get off at Yuexiu Park and go to the square. I’ll wait for you there."

"Ok."

Gu Yu smiled, for a subtle sense of pleasure was rising inside him. Being told "I’ll wait for you" by a girl would somehow give one the illusion of being handsome and attractive.

He exited the subway thirty minutes later and Yuexiu Park was right in front of him. He had arrived in the city center, where towering buildings flanked the streets and incessant stream of vehicles streamed to and fro. The park, on the other hand, was a wild profusion of vegetation, inserting itself into a grey desert of concrete like an oasis.

Following the brick pavement, Gu Yu arrived at the park entrance where a square was in a short while.

He looked around, crossing out all males and screening out those middle-aged aunts, then fixed his stare on a girl in red and a girl in pink.

He suddenly couldn’t think straight. Instead of giving her a phone call, he was going to resolve to "eeny, meeny, miny, moe". He was about to lift his finger when a clear and bright voice with a faint accent called him from behind.

"Hi there!"

Gu Yu turned around and felt dazzled by a pair of dazzling, crystal-like eyes.

She had long hair, tied at the back of her head, and was wearing a long sleeve shirt with its first button undone. Her porcelain collarbones were perfectly aligned, extending all the way up to her neckline and behind her ears. She wore a pair of cropped trousers, revealing her delicate ankles, and on her feet was a pair of beige walking shoes.

As she lifted her eyes, the tender and pure feeling they gave off was like a reflection of a blissful early summer.

"Hi!" He responded.

It was a universal truth that members of the "good looks club" would always be attracted to one another. Although this was their first meeting, they identified with each other instantaneously.

Jiang Xiaozhai tilted her head and smiled. "Shall we shake hands?"

"That’s too formal," he said with a grin.

"You have a point. Let’s go, then."

With that, she walked a few steps towards Gu Yu, who then noticed her height. He couldn’t help but ask, "Exactly how tall are you?"

"177 cm. You?"

"I’m 183."

"Well, that’s quite satisfactory."

Oh ho!

She had stuck to the subject and did not diverge, suggesting height was not the most important aspect and what mattered was the length (of a certain body part), which surprised Gu Yu. He laughed, "I thought you were going to start an inappropriate topic."

"Being indecent online is charming; doing that in reality will make one a rascal."

Jiang Xiaozhai did not have a handbag with her. Sticking her hands in her pockets, she rolled her eyes at him as she strolled along.

"Uh…"

Fine, he could say nothing in defense.

Yuexiu Park was quite spacious with hills, lakes and resting pavilions. A lot of artistic elderly people were singing, dancing and playing musical instruments all over the park, making the scene rather boisterous.

The two passed through the park and arrived at the other side of the road, where a shop was. The name of the shop was written in large text, which read "True Taste Potato Noodles".

"..."

Gu Yu was speechless. He asked timidly, "Are we going to eat here?"

"Yup, it’s really good."

Jiang Xiaozhai pushed the door open and walked in. He had no choice but to follow her in. He was thinking of eating somewhere proper. After all, it was the first time they saw each other. However, now that she had chosen the place, he could only go along with her.

"Three delicacies, mixed two-type, mildly spicy."

Xiaozhai was obviously very familiar with the place and ordered right away. He looked at the menu on the wall and said, "An original mixed two-type, mildly spicy, please."

"That’s 23 yuan in total."

"There you go!"

He handed out the money.

The restaurant was packed. They were quite lucky to find a table that was just vacated by a leaving customer. The waiter wiped the table clean and Jiang Xiaozhai sat down at the table at once, stretching out her long legs, not caring about anything else around them.

Gu Yu sat down across her at the table and took out two boxes from his bag. "Here, take these."

"Why are they in separate boxes?"

She opened one at random and was satisfied with his steady standard. When she moved on to open the second one, she froze for a second or two. The thirty Wake-up Incense sticks were displayed neatly inside with a serene texture to them, resembling a piece of art.

She sniffed them again and asked in surprise, "Did you make these as well?"

"En."

"Very nice."

She put down the incense box and made a traditional obeisance gesture with a smile. "Then congratulations on the improvement in your skills!"

"Well, I accidentally…"

"Number 47, number 48!"

Gu Yu was just about to tell her when the waiter called out their order numbers at the top of his voice. He hurried over and took back two portions of potato noodles. They were served in small stone pots. The steaming hot noodles were covered by a thin layer of glossy red chili oil.

The so-called "mixed two-type" actually referred to potato noodles mixed with wheat noodles. Other ingredients included mushrooms, tomatoes and quail eggs of sorts. The food was indeed very delicious. Gu Yu was already hungry and gobbled down his food. [1]

"Do you come here often?"

"Whenever the food in the canteen bores me. Oh, there, my company is in that building," she pointed with her finger.

He followed her hand and saw a red building which stood out among those around it. When he sent her the incense for the first time, the address she gave him was an international trading company of some kind. In a word, a very prestigious title.

"What do you do?" He asked casually.

"Strategy and design. Commonly known as copywriting and art editing."

"Haha!" Gu Yu chuckled and said, "Then I’m a scenic area logistic personnel and a self-producing businessman."

"Nice. That’s very accurate."

The girl nodded, appearing all serious. She then added, "I’ve been really busy recently and had a lot of pressure. Luckily your incense is here now."

"Do you burn it everyday?"

"Yup. This stuff works so well. I’m relying on it."

"They are only boosters. You have to adjust your resting time and do more exercise," Gu Yu advised her.

"Everyone knows what is the right thing to do, but few can actually follow it to a tee."

Jiang Xiaozhai chewed through a string of noodles and evaded the subject. After that, she looked into her own pot and Gu Yu’s in turn, then suddenly asked, "Why, is that enough for you?"

"I…"

Gu Yu was more than halfway through his noodles and, to be honest, that pot was not quite enough for him. He was thinking about ordering another pot when Xiaozhai stood up and trotted to the counter.

Before long, she made it back with two bottles of soda, a baked bun with marinated meat and two roasted sausages.

He did not express any labored politeness, but took a bite at the bun straight away.

Exactly who should pay the bill when going out with unfamiliar people of the opposite sex was a perpetual debate. Generally speaking, guys should be prepared to take out their wallets, but what was important was that girls should not take it for granted, unless they were gold diggers or were ready for some more intimate act shortly after.

Anyone with an average EQ would show gratitude, yet the smart girls would do better. They would make you feel good after spending money for her.

For instance, when the two went to a KFC and the guy bought a whole bunch of food, the girl bought two custard tarts or two cups of sundae halfway through the meal.

Or, when they went to an amusement park and the guy bought entrance tickets and lunch, the girl suddenly paid for the fare on the return journey.

And so on and so forth… It was not to say that guys minded spending money, only that they cared about girls’ attitude.

Jiang Xiaozhai was a smart girl who made Gu Yu find the meal very pleasant. Before long, his pot was empty and the bun and sausage eaten up.

He was thinking about sitting for a bit longer, but Xiaozhai checked her watch and said apologetically, "I have a meeting this afternoon and only have 15 minutes to walk around."

"Let’s take a walk in the park, then. It’s on your way back," he was being very considerate.

With that, they walked out of the door. As soon as they were outside, they found the light dimmed as the clouds above darkened and the wind got stronger. She looked up and mentioned casually, "It’s probably going to rain."

"Yup, the weather forecast said it was going to be rainy today. I have my umbrella with me," he patted his backpack.

"Weather forecast?"

Jiang Xiaozhai gave him a repelling look and commented, "You are indeed very old-fashioned."

"Nope, I’m just being cool." [2]

Gu Yu made a sarcastic comment on himself while felt his heart skip a beat. Maybe it was because of that meal together, but he found the two of them were much closer than before.

There was something called "three great illusions of life"—cultivation can make me immortal, I can draw a superior super rare card, and she likes me.

In this moment, Gu Yu had experienced all the three of them.

[1] ED/N: Yes, potato noodles, it wasn’t just the bar’s name. It may be surprising for anyone in the West (myself included), but apparently cereals are not the only kind of stuff you can make noodles from.

[2] ED/N: Reference to the previous chapter, the part where she sms-ed about his showiness. He’s referring to the other party’s words here.

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