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Gu Yu eventually bought a bag of peanuts and some other food at dawn. On the surface, he treated the uncle with the food he bought, but was actually returning a favor. [1] Making smalltalk with the uncle, he learned that the old couple lived in Shengtian while their son had settled down in Jiang Zhou. Their daughter-in-law had just given birth to a baby and they were going there for a visit.

Gu Yu did not talk much other than saying they were tourists, but it did not erase the knowing smile on old couple's faces. For to them, the younger ones appeared a perfect match.

The train pulled into the station shortly after six o'clock and they bid farewell to the old couple. Walking out of the station, Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were immediately enveloped by the clammy air typical to the South, which felt cold and sticky on their faces.

"Your younger sister's indeed not here to pick us up, how 'thoughtful'."



Looking around, he failed to hold back a sarcastic comment.

"She's either sleeping or has just walked out of a night club at this hour." Xiaozhai also found her younger sister a pain in the neck. "Her father, my dad's second younger brother, is a businessman. She was seldom disciplined as a child and her family spoiled her. We used to play together when we were little, but have fallen out of touch now."

"In that case, have you set the time to meet up?"

"Tonight, her treat."

With that, they hailed a taxi and headed directly for the hotel they booked, where they each took a room and settled down, then walked around the city around noontime.

Jiang Zhou was not a big city, but was exceptionally advanced in terms of its economy. Together with its ample cultural background, the city was a regional splendor. The urban area had been planned in such a manner that the old and new intermingled—small bridges with flowing water of the old district and skyscrapers of the new blended with each other flawlessly.

Qionglong Mountain stood 20 km away in the west suburb of the city. With an altitude of over 300 m, the mountain dominated the rest at the east bank of Lake Tai. Shi Liangsheng, the first patriarch of Qionglong Sect, was a person of the end of the Ming Dynasty period. Rumor had it that he had managed to get his hands on the Thunder Technique of Shenxiao.

According to the record, "He moved to Qionglong Mountain, the old haunt of the lords of Mao Mountain, and had it renovated."

The notion of "renovated" was especially interesting. A Taoist temple already existed before Shi arrived, which was a shrine of Three True Lords of Mao (the first patriarchs of the sect of Mao Mountain). However, after Shi Liangsheng set his foot in Qionglong, he drove out the disciples of Mao Mountain and established the sect of Qionglong Mountain of his own, on top of which he expanded the temple and changed its name to Shangzhen instead. (TL/N: literally meaning "the primary truth", the term is used to call top-class immortals in Taoism.)

The fact that Mao Mountain and Shenxiao engaged in internal strife despite both belonging to Zhengyi was proof enough of the disturbing ethos of the time.

The position of the sect leader was later passed down from Shi Liangsheng to Hu Deguo, then in turn to Pan Yuangui, when Qionglong was at the height of its power and splendor, taking the head of all sects in southeast China. It was not until a century ago when a great fire destroyed most of its buildings that the sect took a severe blow—it had never quite recovered since then.

The Shangzhen Temple we see today was a result of recent reconstruction.

The pair had a nice, long stroll, indulging themselves with beer and skittles while messing around with each other like any ordinary young couple out on a trip.

Before they knew it, evening set in and they arrived at Songhe (TL/N: meaning "pine tree and crane") Palace Restaurant.

It was one of the most famous restaurants in Jiang Zhou, which was located on a pedestrian street in the old town. The interior decoration was quite distinctive; the Chinese classical aesthetics could be observed from the overall decor to the tiniest details.

Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were sitting by a table empty of nothing but a pot of tea. They weren't exactly in the mood for feasting either, for they were discussing their itinerary tomorrow.

"What are you going to say when you see that disciple?" He asked.

"I'll just say it outright. These things would be easier with direct approaches." She sipped her tea and went on, "We may not be able to find one anyway. There are living disciples, but we know next to nothing about them."

"What about asking your sister? She might know something."

"Yeah, right. She'd given up bar-hopping for a month to avoid climbing a mountain." With that, Xiaozhai suddenly waved at someone and called out, "Hello, Xiaojin!"

Following her hand's movements, Gu Yu saw a girl about the same height as Xiaozhai sauntering into the restaurant. She wore a cropped leather jacket and paired it with ripped jeans and boots that reminded him of the jaw of a shark.

She clopped near and slouched into a seat across the table. Tossing her purse aside, she grinned, "Well, my big sister has finally decided to reveal her man! Nice choice! I'd give him a 10 out of 10 for his looks."

"Hello, I'm Gu Yu, a friend of Xiaozhai," our fellow stood up to greet her.

"Friend?" She measured him up and down with her eyes and asked purposefully, "There are a lot of kinds of friends. Which one are you?"

"Well, I wish I knew the answer as much as you do." He took the chance to send out a flirting line.

"..."

The two simultaneously turned to look at the person in question after that, but were received by a nonchalant face sipping at her tea.

Tsk! Jiang Xiaojin was disappointed by Xiaozhai's response and went on, "You must be older than me, so I'll call you Big Brother, then. Are you from Shengtian as well?"

"Sort of. I live in Bai Town."

"Never heard of the place. What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a wechat businessman," answered him with a straight face. [2]

"Ptff!"

The sister (-in-law) was almost choked by her own spit. She was about to lash out in ridicule when Xiaozhai stopped her. "I'm ready to place the order."

"Why, do guys now also sell…" Gesturing, Xiaojin tried to continue with her comment.

"I said, let's order some food!" Xiaozhai smiled.

Oh my!

The pretty smile on her big sister's face had made Xiaojin shudder involuntarily. As if recalling her childhood memory of being dominated by Xiaozhai, Xiaojin opened the menu as she was told.

Lowering her head to read, her face was no longer covered by her hair. She had exquisite features, but was undermined by her freckle-covered skin. The heavy makeup she wore also gave her a garish look.

Flipping through the pages, she beckoned a waiter over and placed her order. "We'll have a sweet and sour mandarin fish, a sauteed shelled shrimp, a whitebait and water shield soup, a stewed eel pudding in sizzling oil, and a bamboo shoot soup with fresh and pickled streaky pork… that's all."

Food here in Songhe Palace was quite pricy. The mandarin fish was 168 yuan, the shelled shrimp was 118 yuan, and other dishes were of varied prices.

The girl was very generous. She ordered three hot dishes and cold ones, all specialties of the restaurant. She then asked, "Sis, I thought you were working somewhere. Why are you suddenly travelling around?"

"I quit."

"Wow! Awesome!" The whimsical girl got excited over Xiaozhai's words without any warning and went on, "I thought about quitting school all the time but just don't have the nerve. And you quit your job just like that. That's amazing!"

"Talk to your dad. Maybe he'll say yes."

"I'm not going to fall for that. I'm perfectly happy living like a good-for-nothing."

"Hehe, do you have classes today?"

"I do. I stayed up too late clubbing last night though, and cannot be bothered to go."

As the sisters chatted on, Gu Yu made his own observation on the side.

Despite her apparent indifference, Xiaozhai was very tolerant towards her younger sister and doted on her. As carefree as Xiaozhai was, the only time she would let her emotions show was when she was around her family.

It did not take long for the dishes to be served. Gu Yu tried them and found the food delicious indeed.

The three finished the dinner at around eight. Jiang Xiaozhai did not even flinch at the 1000-yuan bill and paid it with her phone. She gabbed on as they walked out. "I honestly have errands to run today. One of my besties got dumped and I'm needed for comforting, consoling, and counseling. I'll show you guys a good time tomorrow, promise.

Brother Gu-whatsoever, listen up! Hanging out with my big sister in public means you stand some chance. Keep at it! I have faith in you!"

She walked to a red SUV and right after she opened the door, her phone rang.

Digging it out of her pocket, her face darkened as soon as she picked it up. "What? That son of a bi*ch still got the nerve to give you problems...? Are you an idiot? Stay away from him… fine, fine, I'm coming right now. Stay where you are!"

Getting into her car still swearing, Xiaojin seemed to be in a hurry and drove off without saying goodbye.

The two stood where they were, feeling a bit dumbfounded and a sense of babysitting suddenly took over them. Gu Yu chuckled, "Should we go with her?"

"Yeah, I think we should…" Xiaozhai sighed.

[1] TL/N: In case anybody forgot, Gu Yu "borrowed" the uncle's peanuts the night before to stop the thieves.
[2] TL/N: "Wechat" is a social media app in China (a bit like whatsapp combined with facebook) and "wechat businessman/businesswoman" can be a derogatory term, for a part of these people are very well-known for selling dodgy products using the platform.

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