When Luo Lan taught him the face-changing technique back then, he once said that this face-changing technique that did not require peeling someone’s face off was his original invention and he was the only one in the world who knew it. Later, after he had taught Xiao Yuan, there were two of them. Now there was someone who had come to Tong’an County wearing his own face; who else could it be if not Luo Lan.
Luo Lan also smiled, "After waiting for you for a long time, finally you’re back."
Xiao Yuan saw that Luo Lan’s smile was not heartfelt and he obviously didn’t come to him to catch up. Xiao Yuan ordered Ah Chu: "Serve tea to the guest, we’re open for business."
Xiao Yuan had just returned and he didn’t even have time to change his clothes, to entertain his old friend in a refined manner. "What’s the point of using my body when you can change into whoever you want?"
Xiao Yuan had borrowed Meng Chi’s body in the past and Meng Chi marveled that seeing herself from the side was completely different from looking in the mirror. He felt that Meng Chi was making a fuss at the time, but now he couldn’t help but empathize with her as he looked at Luo Lan’s face.
He seemed to be really… a great beauty. It’s not that he was arrogant, but his face was too bright. If he was not him, seeing such beauty, he feared it would be difficult to control himself.
Luo Lan sighed and said, "To tell you the truth, I came to you this time to request a favour. The reason why I look like you is because I thought that if you didn’t agree to help, I could only bite the bullet and continue."
Xiao Yuan, who looked at his face in a daze, "…"
Xiao Yuan recovered and smiled, "Last time when I almost exposed my identity in front of Gu Louyin, fortunately, you helped me get a corpse and helped me escape. I haven’t thanked you for this. Come, come, I’ll make a cup of tea for you, Uncle, which will be regarded as a thank you."
Luo Lan’s expression was complicated, "You escaped, but Gu Louyin’s temperament changed drastically. Because of the fake corpse he became demonized. He was seriously injured and defected from his shimen. Isn’t your gratitude of a cup of tea too meagre?"
Xiao Yuan lowered his eyes to make tea and said, "Does Gu Louyin’s demonization have anything to do with me? I happened to be there when he learned that the body had been found, and although he was in a bad state, he was not at all in the state to go off the rails. Uncle should know better than me what the real reason for his demonization is."
Luo Lan was silent for a moment, then got up and walked to the window. He looked out the window and said in a deep voice: "There are two reasons. First, he really thinks you are dead this time; second, the ‘Dao’ in his heart was completely destroyed by Yunjian Pavilion."
Xiao Yuan picked up the tea cup and said curiously: "What disgusting thing could Yunjian Pavilion have done to drive him to demonization."
Luo Lan frowned, as if extremely unwilling to talk about it. But he begged for Xiao Yuan’s help, so he reluctantly opened his mouth: "That day, Lu Yueyao was poisoned with withered bones and Lin Wulian gave blood to save her. After only three or four days, he was already weak and haggard. Yunjian Pavilion couldn’t bear to let him continue to bleed, but Lu Yueyao’s life couldn’t be saved otherwise, so they…" Luo Lan paused and closed his eyes, "They came up with the idea to use the bones."
"The idea of using the corpse bones?" Xiao Yuan smiled, "It’s just bones, how were they going to use them?"
Luo Lan said solemnly: "Someone suggested since there was serpentine beauty in your blood, what if there was some left in the bones? They were going to… were going to…" Luo Lan couldn’t go on.
Xiao Yuan had no more desire to drink tea. He gently put down the tea cup and said, "As expected of the number one sword sect in the world."
Luo Lan smiled at himself, "I don’t know why Yunjian Pavilion has fallen so low. But not all the disciples of Yunjian Pavilion are so awful. Especially Gu Louyin, in order to be able to take away your ‘corpse’, he sacrificed his own lifespan and made an enemy of the entire Yunjian Pavilion, even his own father. What he did for you may not be worth mentioning in your opinion, but this was all he could do. He has done everything he could for you."
Luo Lan’s last words made Xiao Yuan’s heart move slightly. He was right. What Gu Louyin gave him was never what he wanted, but it was the only thing Gu Louyin could give. Just like in the matter of taking blood, Gu Louyin couldn’t clear his name and protect him safely. The only thing he could do was to find a way to save his life – and he did it.
Xiao Yuan tapped the desk with his jade fan casually, his thoughts unfathomable. Luo Lan also stopped talking for the time being, giving him time to ponder.
Finally, Xiao Yuan said, "What do you want me to do?"
Luo Lan’s spirit was greatly refreshed when he heard this, and he said, "The longer Gu Louyin is demonized, the shorter his life term is. I want you to help him get rid of his obsession and take him back to the righteous path."
"Because you are his heart demon."
Xiao Yuan leaned back in the chair, raised his hand and pressed the center of his brows, feeling tired.
Is he Gu Louyin’s heart demon? Why did he become Gu Louyin’s heart demon? He obviously didn’t do anything.
——No, he did. At the beginning, he was threatened by [All Have] and Xiao Du, and took the initiative to provoke the Young Master of Yunjian Pavilion, pure like a breeze and bright like the moon. He did wrong in this matter. But he also paid the price for it, he saved Gu Louyin’s beloved Shixiong. Were three cups of blood a day and thirty cups in ten days not enough to repay? The enmity and grievances between him and Gu Louyin were cleared two years ago, and he really didn’t want to continue to entangle with Gu Louyin.
What happened to Gu Louyin made him understand the truth: the sword cultivator with no heart was really not one to be messed with.
Xiao Yuan said slowly: "If you want me to ‘come back from the dead’ in front of Gu Louyin, I’m afraid…"
"You don’t need to ‘come back from the dead’." Luo Lan was afraid that Xiao Yuan would refuse and hurriedly said, "You only need to let him succeed in soul summoning once and tell him that you don’t blame him, don’t want him to blame himself and make him let go. It’s enough."
Xiao Yuan didn’t quite believe it, "Are you sure this is enough?"
Luo Lan was sure, "I watched Gu Louyin grow up, and no one knows him better than me. In my opinion, his attitude to you is more guilt and regret than affection between men and women. He was going to compensate you for the rest of his life, but unexpectedly, you decided to die and he didn’t even have a chance to compensate. Only then did he become immersed in it, unable to free himself from it, and finally became demonized."
Xiao Yuan said, "Let me think about it."
If he could resolve Gu Louyin’s heart demon by just saying a few words and let him live a little longer, he wouldn’t be very reluctant. What’s more, Gu Louyin still had one thing he wanted.
"I can help with this favor." Before Luo Lan was overjoyed, Xiao Yuan said again, "But I have one condition. After it’s done, I want the ruthless hua that Gu Louyin got from the flower viewing party."
Luo Lan promised: "As long as you can resolve his heart demon for him, let alone one, I will find ten ruthless huas for you."
Xiao Yuan raised his eyebrows and said, "Really?" Speaking of which, Luo Lan had been lobbying Gu Louyin’s interests two years ago and he was still doing it two years later. Xiao Yuan couldn’t help but begin to doubt the relationship between Luo Lan and Gu Louyin. Luo Lan said that he was just Gu Louyin’s elder, but he, as an elder, was much more conscientious than his father.
Xiao Yuan seemed to say inadvertently: "Uncle, in fact, you are Gu Louyin’s father, right?"
Luo Lan’s face changed, and he said with a dry smile: "What nonsense."
"Gu Louyin was demonized and defected, and Gu Hang didn’t send anyone to find him. Wouldn’t he be afraid that he would die outside after being seriously injured? Gu Louyin is his only son, so how he can be so indifferent? On the contrary, you worked so hard for Gu Louyin, came here and begged me. Isn’t that suspicious?"
Luo Lan said with a serious expression: "There is nothing suspicious, I am just Gu Louyin’s… elder."
"An elder who can fight against Gu Hang?"
Luo Lan was taken aback, thinking that he had heard it wrong, "What did you say?"
"Nothing." Xiao Yuan said with a smile, "Stay in Tong’an County for a few days, and then we will pick an auspicious day to set off for Luling City."
Luo Lan’s heart was relieved and he said, "Tomorrow is the auspicious day of the month, so let’s go tomorrow."
Xiao Yuan only stayed at home for one night and was pulled on the road by Luo Lan early the next morning. Fang Baichu went with them. Before leaving, Xiao Yuan specifically told Fang Baichu not to reveal their identity as people from Xingtian Sect. Fang Baichu, just like Ah Chu, called him "Young Master."
On the way, Luo Lan changed into the face of an old man, looking immortal and highly respectful. He also prepared a strand of hair for Xiao Yuan and explained: "My current identity in front of Gu Louyin is ‘Gongci Sanren’ (sanren – wandering cultivator). You can’t use An Mu’s face, Gu Louyin knows it. You can change to this one then."
Xiao Yuan asked, "Whose face is this?"
"The manager of Huaizhou entertainment district. Although his appearance is not as good as yours, it can be regarded as a devastating beauty." Luo Lan added, "Don’t worry, it’s a man."
They packed lightly and left, traveling day and night all the way. Two days later, they reached the foot of the nameless snow-capped mountain where Gu Louyin lived.
The snow-capped mountain was still the same as two years ago, with its snow unmelting, high slopes and swirling mist around its peak. If you looked up at it, it looked like a jade dragon and a white horse, the dangerous peak to the sun and the moon.
Xiao Yuan was in a daze for a while – this was where he and Gu Louyin first met.
It was dusk when they arrived, and soft white snowflakes fluttered from the dim sky and fell on Xiao Yuan’s long eyelashes. Xiao Yuan blinked, and some kind of indescribable sorrow rose in his heart.
Times changed, and things were different. No matter who it was or what happened, one could only look forward.
Luo Lan said, "Gu Louyin is on the mountain, let’s go up."
Luo Lan walked first to lead the way, Xiao Yuan and Fang Baichu following him. Fang Baichu whispered: "Young Master, a ruthless hua, even Guardian Li couldn’t get it, are you sure we can?"
Xiao Yuan said, "Li Yanzhi tried to grab it by force, we are different from him."
Fang Baichu shivered for unknown reason and said, "I’m afraid that Gu Louyin and his two swords will send me to see my ancestors."
"Don’t worry, you definitely think too much." Xiao Yuan comforted him, "How could Gu Louyin need so many swords if he wants your life? One sword is more than enough."
Fang Baichu: "…"
The three of them climbed to the top of the mountain and saw a small farmhouse that looked lonely and desolate in the vast snow.
Xiao Yuan felt that this farmhouse seemed familiar and for a while he couldn’t remember where he had seen it. Luo Lan reminded him: "This courtyard is exactly the same as the one on Dongguan Mountain."
Xiao Yuan said with a "oh", "Does Gu Louyin live here?"
"Yes." Luo Lan pushed the door in and found that there was no one inside. "He is not here now, he may have gone hunting. I will go find him and you wait for me here."
Xiao Yuan said to Fang Baichu, "You can go too, the two of you can find him faster."
Fang Baichu: "Why doesn’t Young Master go, wouldn’t it be faster for three people?"
Xiao Yuan excused himself: "Because I am tired."
Fang Baichu cursed and left, following Luo Lan and leaving Xiao Yuan alone in the house. He looked at the familiar furnishings, stroked the rough window sills, table and chairs with his fingertips and slowly walked towards the back room.
He had lived in this room and he even somewhat remembered the carvings on the bedpost. There was an old wedding dress hanging in front of the closet by the bed. The original bright red color had long faded. It hung quietly, as if waiting for the owner to put it on again.
Xiao Yuan stretched out his hand to the wedding dress and when he was about to touch the sleeve, he suddenly felt a chill behind him. He stopped abruptly and turned around, and a sword light flashed, forcing him to dodge sideways. A strand of his long hair was cut by the sword light and fell at his feet, and after a while, a layer of frost condensed on the cut hair.
Xiao Yuan raised his eyes and looked at the man who had cut his hair.
The visitor was dressed in plain white, with silver hair falling on his chest like snow, making his face look like frost, untouched by mortal things, as pure as a god. He looked at Xiao Yuan and his eyes, as quiet as stagnant water, unexpectedly rippled.
He held up the long sword in his hand, raised Xiao Yuan’s chin with the tip of his sword and asked, "Who are you?"