The three disciples had seen their fill of Yuzhou, and they decided to visit the imperial city of Luoyang before heading to the Blue Mountain Sect.
After making the decision to leave, the three sorted out their possessions.
Jiang Lin carried a bag over her shoulder as she made her way downstairs.
However, she did not see any of the western people from earlier, nor did she see the woman.
She thought that they must be tired from their travels and went to rest.
“What are you looking for?” Gu Yun saw that Jiang Ling was looking all around for something, and he came up to her to look, saying with derision: “Looks like those westerners aren’t here.
What, are the gentlemen of the west more charming than the ones we have here?”
“More charming than you, that’s for sure.” Jiang Ling dashed away, scurrying out of the door.
Before Gu Yun had the chance to get mad, she had already disappeared.
He could only let out a sigh, thinking that when his shimei fled, no one could catch her.
Yun He looked on and laughed softly.
“You are leaving?”
Just as Jiang Ling took a step outside, she heard a voice that sounded like a silver bell.
It was her.
She was dressed the same as she had been that morning, and it seemed like she was just returning, but she was not wearing the veil now, revealing her beautiful, alluring features.
She looked like she was about the same age as shijie, and she was slightly taller than Jiang Ling.
Without considering her unusual eye color, her appearance was not drastically different from a person of the central plains.
“Ah…Mhm.” Jiang Lin was out of sorts, then, sensing that she had been a little discourteous, hurried to add: “Me, my shixiong, and my shijie have some business to take care of, so we are taking our leave.”
“Thank you for this morning.” The woman thanked her once again, “My name is He Xi.
“Jiang Ling, the ‘Ling’ with a feather in it.1” Encountering others like this, Jiang Ling was not very coy.
Then, Yun He and Gu Yun also exited the inn, saw that Jiang Ling was conversing with someone, and signaled to her with a nod.
Jiang Ling saw her shijie and shixiong moving further away from her, so Jiang Ling assumed a posture to bid farewell.
She saw He Xi bend at the waist, drawing near her ear: “We will meet again, Jiang Ling.”
Warm breath brushed the shell of her ear, and for a moment, she felt an itch in her heart that she could not describe.
Before she could react and ask her what she had meant, that person had already stepped back, opening up the distance between them, tilted her head, and waved to Jiang Ling in farewell.
Jiang Ling covered her ear with a hand, waved her other woodenly, then turned to follow her shixiong and shijie.
The three of them traveled for half a month before at last setting out for the Blue Mountain.
“No wonder Luoyang is the imperial city.” Jiang Ling reminisced about the bustling sights of Luoyang, internally heaving a sigh, “Once I retire from Jianghu, I want to live in Luoyang.”
“Why do you want to live in Luoyang?”
“It would be very convenient, with many shops right outside my door.
There is no need to go up and down the mountain, either.
Shixiong, what about you?”
“You can retire, and I will inherit shifu’s position, growing our Crane Mountain into a major sect!” Gu Yun’s voice was filled with fighting spirit.
“And shijie?” Both of them turned to look at Yun He.
Yun He was asked this, but, actually, she had never thought about it until now.
She only wanted to live happily with her shifu, shidi, and shimei.
She had not thought of other possibilities.
Yun He still had not thought of an answer when she saw someone lying on the road in front of her.
Yun He hurried forward to check the person’s pulse.
They were still alive.
Upon seeing this, Jiang Ling also rushed forward and passed her water flask to Yun He, who lifted the person up and poured the water into their mouth for them to drink.
The person’s face was entirely covered in mud and filth, their clothes ruined, only one of their shoes remained, and their hair was tangled into one big nest.
At that moment, it was not clear whether the person was a man or a woman.
Gu Yun brought his horse forward to carry the person on its back, and they found the ruins of a temple nearby to settle them.
Yun He used a damp cloth to remove the dirt and grime from the person’s face, revealing the neat, plain countenance of a woman.
It seemed that the woman had slept long enough, and as her senses awakened, she felt the presence of the people next to her.
She backed away from Yun He in fear, saying repeatedly: “Don’t come any closer, don’t come any closer!”
The three of them were all startled by her actions.
Yun He moved forward and gripped her hand: “Don’t be scared, we won’t hurt you.”
The woman timidly looked at them, at the kind looks on their faces and the sword at their waists, and realized that they were from Jianghu.
Tears started flowing out of her eyes, and she gripped Yun He’s hand back: “Great heroine, please save my elder sister! She was taken away by bandits!”
The three disciples learned from the woman that her name was Chu Yue, and that she and her sister, A Xin, originally lived in Luoyang, but they had a quarrel with their family and went out of the city to divert themselves from their troubles back at home.
Two days prior there had been a spell of heavy rain, and the coachman had taken the wrong route.
After wandering the mountain roads looking for the proper one, night fell, and they had inadvertently found themselves in the territory of a group of bandits.
Cue Yue had escaped from the bandits in the chaos, but the coachman and A Xin had been caught by the bandits.
She was shocked and frightened, hiding behind a thick clump of foliage until the sun had risen, then she found the right road and went to find some government soldiers.
She walked for a day, but she collapsed by the road out of hunger and exhaustion.
“Great heroine, young heroes, I am begging you! Please save my sister!” Chu Yue called distressingly, her face full of tears.
1 for context, Jiang Ling’s given name, 翎, has the character in it, 羽, which means feather.
She was distinguishing which ‘Ling’ it was.
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