A few days later, Li Yanzhi went up the mountain again, bringing two things to Xiao Yuan. One of them was a big red wedding invitation, with a guqin, the symbol of Xuanle Sect, painted on the envelope. The wedding invitation contained the text: the two surnamed connected by married, one ceremony to conclude the contract, their good karma forever tied and they will share the same name.
Xiao Yuan skipped a bunch of wordy nonsense and saw the words "Shen Fugui" and "Cai", followed by the date of their marriage.
"The fifth day of the first month," Xiao Yuan said with a smile, "It’s a good day." He handed the wedding invitation to Gu Louyin. The first thing Gu Louyin saw was the last sentence: Gu Louyin and his wife are respectfully invited to come attend.
Li Yanzhi: "It is indeed a good day, but it is still more than a month away, it is too far away."
Xiao Yuan asked: "When most people get married, how much in advance do they send wedding invitations?"
Li Yanzhi scratched his head, "How do I know this, I have never been married."
Gu Louyin said, "Less than half a year, more than three months."
Xiao Yuan glanced at Gu Louyin, curved his lips in a smile and said: "You know a lot."
Gu Louyin said calmly: "Common sense."
"According to this, Xuanle Sect’s wedding invitation was sent out in a hurry. I hope it will not arouse suspicion from others." Xiao Yuan said, "What about the other thing I asked you to bring?"
"I have it with me." Li Yanzhi took a painting scroll from the package, "Did young lord want this one?"
Xiao Yuan opened the scroll and vaguely felt a trace of evilness. He felt very unfamiliar with the landscape in the painting, but he could tell that this painting was indeed drawn by Li Xianting.
Xiao Yuan asked, "Have you confirmed it with my shidi?"
"It’s confirmed, this is the painting Brother Mu was talking about before."
Since Mu Yingyang discovered the strangeness of this painting, he had been looking for opportunities to go to Lizhou to investigate, but all kinds of events happened one after another. He had no time to spare, and his trip to Lizhou had also been delayed.
"There is still more than a month before Shen Fugui and Miss Cai’s wedding, so it should be enough to go to Lizhou. I wonder if Master Gu would like to travel with me?" Without waiting for Gu Louyin to answer, Xiao Yuan thought of something and knocked his head with his fan, "I almost forgot. It will be the full moon night with the Acacia Gu attacking soon. Let’s wait for the fifteenth to pass before leaving."
"It’s okay." Gu Louyin said, "let’s not delay and go and return as soon as possible."
The two went down the mountain that day. With Qingyan in his sleeve, Xiao Yuan was taken westward by Gu Louyin on his sword and arrived in Lizhou, located in the northwest, in less than half a day.
Xiao Yuan changed his appearance to look unassuming, and Gu Louyin put on a dark cloak and a hood.
Before entering the city, Xiao Yuan helped Gu Louyin to hide his silver hair under the hood. At the end, he didn’t forget to tug Gu Louyin’s collar, pulling him down and stealing a kiss before wanting to leave.
Gu Louyin pulled him back into his arms, "Is that all?"
Xiao Yuan tried to reason with him: "I just wanted a casual kiss, the kind that doesn’t involve sticking out your tongue. Gu Louyin, you can’t force normal kisses and hugs into the advanced category every time, it’s outrageous, you know."
"En," Gu Louyin looked down at him, "open your mouth."
Lizhou was said to be both big and small. It was big because of the vast area of Lizhou that was several times larger than the rich lands of Jiangnan. It was small because the city was sparsely populated, the streets were deserted and there was not even a single yelling vendor out there. Occasionally, one could see a few passers-by, all dressed in hooded cloaks like Gu Louyin that covered their bodies tightly.
Gu Louyin said: "The land in the northwest is full of wind and sand. In order to prevent breathing in the sand, the locals cover their faces with cloth all year round."
Xiao Yuan said, "I also know this, it’s common sense."
"The place in the painting does not look like Lizhou."
Xiao Yuan looked around, seeing the depression and desolation everywhere, while Li Xianting’s painting with its beautiful scenery looked more like somewhere south of the Yangtze River.
"Mu Yingyang investigated it to be Lizhou."
Gu Louyin’s tone was indifferent: "He may have been mistaken."
"No way." Although Mu Yingyang was sometimes unreliable, he would never be careless about something entrusted to him by Xiao Yuan. "Let’s find someone to inquire."
The two found a relatively lively inn in the south of the city. Because there were many people there, a group of badly clothed and unkempt beggars gathered at the entrance of the inn. As soon as a guest came, the beggars rushed up to ask for money.
When Xiao Yuan and Gu Louyin arrived, the innkeeper was holding a broom to drive away the beggars. It didn’t help much, so he yelled, "Next time you come back, I’ll pour boiling water on you. Don’t blame me when you-"
A beggar who looked like a teenager laughed and said, "That’s a good thing, it happens that I haven’t taken a bath for many years."
The innkeeper continued to curse, then glanced at Xiao Yuan and Gu Louyin and immediately changed his face, smiled and said, "Two honorable guests, would you like a room or a meal?"
"A room and also to inquire about a place along the way." Xiao Yuan took out the painting, "Do you know where this is?"
The innkeeper frowned, "Dare to ask the honorable guest, is this place in Lizhou?"
"It should be."
"To tell this guest the truth, I have lived in Lizhou since I was born. I even know how many trees are in Lizhou, but I have never seen this place. If you look at the mountains and water here, how can there be such a place in Lizhou?"
Xiao Yuan put away the painting and muttered, "I knew I should have brought my shidi…" Facing Gu Louyin’s gaze, he quickly changed his words: "I should have asked my shidi clearly before coming."
"I have seen this place before."
Xiao Yuan looked towards the voice; the one who spoke was the little beggar who wanted to take a bath just now.
The innkeeper squinted at him: "Honorable guest, don’t be fooled by him, he is a little liar."
"I have really seen it." The little beggar snorted, "If you don’t believe me, forget it."
Xiao Yuan stretched out his hand, and Gu Louyin put down a few pieces of broken silver in his palm. Xiao Yuan said, "Here."
The little beggar caught the broken silver thrown by Xiao Yuan and his eyes widened.
"Say it, where have you seen it?"
The little beggar paused for a long time before saying, "That was when I was a kid. My parents were not dead yet, so I followed them on a trip. Later, we lost our way in the desert. We drank all the water and ate all the food. Just when we were about to die of thirst, we saw these mountains and the lake – just like in your painting."
Xiao Yuan raised his eyebrows, "Are you sure you remember correctly?"
"I remember it very clearly," the little beggar said with certainty, "it is true. I still remember that after I drank the water, I had a dream. I dreamed that two good-looking immortals invited me to have a meal. One was glowing and smiling, and the other one had white hair and was like……" the little beggar racked his brains to describe it, "like the moon in the sky."
The innkeeper sneered coldly: "Why don’t you keep dreaming?"
Xiao Yuan and Gu Louyin looked at each other. Xiao Yuan asked, "Where is the desert you are talking about?"
Thirty miles outside Lizhou City, there was an endless desert. Xiao Yuan stood on the sword and looked down. It was full of monotonous yellow sand. Every place looked very similar; not to mention ordinary people, even ordinary cultivators would get lost there.
Xiao Yuan narrowed his eyes and looked into the distance, "I don’t seem to see anything strange. Shall we go down and have a look?"
Gu Louyin said, "Okay."
After landing, Xiao Yuan’s feet stepped on the sand and he had a strange feeling as if he was about to fall into it at any time.
There was no path and they didn’t know where to start. Xiao Yuan found a huge rock cave that could shelter them from the weather and they settled there for the time being.
"The immortals that the beggar described, is it us?"
Gu Louyin said, "Maybe."
It was impossible for the beggar to see through their disguise. The little beggar did not lie.
"We don’t know him well, why did he dream of us many years ago?" Xiao Yuan guessed, "Did he have a prophetic dream?"
Gu Louyin thought for a while and said, "Or, he accidentally peeped into the Dao of Heavens."
Xiao Yuan was taken aback, "…Dao of Heavens?"
"It is rumored that those who have a destiny with the Dao of Heavens are able to glimpse the mysteries of the Heavens at the time of the fateful encounter." Gu Louyin said, "But no one knows exactly what the ‘fateful encounter’ is."
A long-lost memory was awakened, and Xiao Yuan said slowly, "I seem to have quite a connection with the Dao of Heavens."
Xiao Yuan didn’t feel that he had something to hide from Gu Louyin. He straightened out his thoughts and said, "As long as I can remember, there has been a voice in my head. It controlled my words and deeds, and I had to live according to its orders." Xiao Yuan said and the feeling of suffocation came up again. He took a deep breath and continued: "It forced me to please my shidi, forced me to recognize my gege, forced me to approach you… I know this sounds shocking, do you… believe me?"
Gu Louyin didn’t hesitate, "I believe you."