The main hall of Returnflow Mountain was extravagant indeed. Even though there were several dozen tables and over hundred chairs, the hall didn’t feel cramped. With just a glance, one could see that it was a suitable place for huge events and official matters.
Every time Xiaodong came here, he would always wonder.
Just which senior of his sect was so ambitious to build such a majestic main hall? There were only a small handful of people in Returnflow Mountain. Even after adding in the gatekeepers, the attendants, and the chefs, there were only a few dozen of them on the mountain. This extravagant main hall thus became a place that could not be utilized to its fullest. It was usually just left empty all day.
Xiaodong wondered just who these guests were that made Master bring them to the main hall. Either there were a huge number of guests, or they were people with prestigious backgrounds.
Xiaodong and Chen Jingzhi were the last to arrive. One was injured while the other was worried about the one injured. When they arrived, the visitors to the mountain had all arrived.
Chen Jingzhi did not want to draw attention to them, but regrettably, the lateness of the two had drawn the attention of everyone. The people in the hall all turned their heads and looked at the two of them.
Li Fulin smiled and then waved his hand at his two little disciples. “We were waiting for the both of you. Come quickly.”
Chen Jingzhi walked over. His back was especially straight, and it did not look as if his leg was injured at all.
Xiaodong followed behind. He had to say that he was truly impressed at Fourth Senior Brother’s endurance.
If it was him, he definitely couldn’t have endured the pain and walked in such a dignified manner.
Furthermore, Chen Jingzhi walked beautifully and majestically.
He heard that Senior Brother Chen came from a noble family. He usually could not see this side of Senior Brother Chen, but now, with a single glance, he realized that the two of them were truly not of the same standing. Senior Brother Chen was an esteemed young master, while Xiaodong, well… he was just himself.
Eldest Senior Brother and the rest had come early, and they had all seen the guests. Because the two of them came late, they once again gave their greetings and reintroduced themselves.
Xiaodong was really curious about the identities of these guests who had climbed the mountain at such a time.
How couldn’t he be curious? He had been on Returnflow Mountain for more than half a year, and this was still his first time seeing guests on the mountain.
Not to mention, it was nearing the end of the year, and the mountain was bombarded with heavy snow. He really couldn’t think of any type of people who would visit during this season.
There were four guests – one elderly and three juniors. The elderly had the surname Liu. He was dressed in a long robe made with hemp cloth, which was covered by a light grey overcoat, and a sword case was strapped on his back. His brows were especially black and thick, and he had a lightning-like gaze, like a sword so sharp that it could pierce through people with a single glance.
In the face of an elderly who did not seem to have a good temper, Xiaodong did not dare to size him up any further, hurriedly bowing and giving his greetings. The only impression Xiaodong had left of him was his very black and thick brows.
The three juniors that he brought were different, however. All three of them had smiles on their faces, and since they were all older than Xiaodong, he addressed the two of them as senior brother, and one as senior sister.
Of course, they were not under the same sect, but everyone addressed each other this way, which made their relationship look more intimate. After all, as Xiaodong had heard of before, everyone seeking the Dao was one big family. Since they were family, addressing each other as senior brothers and sisters, or junior brothers and sisters, was not a cause for concern.
They looked around the same age as Eldest Senior Brother, but their mannerism was lacking. Probably because they were here as guests, these senior brothers and senior sister were dressed especially glamorously, looking as if they had come from a different place than Senior Liu. The clothes they wore and the things they had on their heads were unbearably extravagant to look at, and even their sword sheaths were embedded with jades and colorful pearls.
Though they had such a glamorous aura, they did not seem to have vulgar personalities, instead, they seemed to be poised and majestic. They greeted Chen Jingzhi and Xiaodong with smiles, and addressed them as Junior Brother Chen and Junior Brother Yun.
Li Fulin clearly already knew about Chen Jingzhi’s injury, and asked in concern, “How’s the injury on your leg? Let me have a look later.”
Chen Jingzhi said, “Thank you, Master, for your concern. Eldest Senior Brother has already applied ointment on my injury, and he said that as long as I rest and re-apply the ointment periodically, it will be healed in a few days.”
Since they were in front of guests, Li Fulin did not press on this issue any further. After their greetings, he instructed them to prepare the residences, as well as a table of good dishes and liquor, for the guests.
When they got out, Senior Brother Jiang was looking rather joyous. Seeing the smile on his face, Xiaodong curiously asked, “Third Senior Brother, are you so happy about Master’s return?”
“Of course.” Jiang Fan leaned in and whispered, “The liquor that we drank the other day came from Master’s place, and the liquor is so good that even Master isn’t willing to drink often. Master would’ve given us a lecture when he realized his liquor is missing. Now that there are guests, after a hearty drink, Master will forget about the number of wine jars he has.”
It’s no wonder he was so happy. They had managed to escape a lecture.
Xiaodong giggled, thinking that Senior Brother Jiang wasn’t as honest as he looked. At the same time, he once again felt that the arrival of these guests was indeed a good thing. He quietly gave Senior Brother Jiang a thumbs-up.
The juniors did not have a role to play in entertaining the guests, and so Xiaodong nested in his own room for dinner. He never expected that as busy as Eldest Senior Brother was, he still did not forget to instruct an attendant to send Xiaodong a bowl of fresh croquettes.
Xiaodong recalled casually bringing up a few days ago, that he craved for croquettes during winter. However, to save oil and save others the trouble, he merely thought about it and was embarrassed to tell the chefs that he wanted to eat croquettes. The end of the year was quickly approaching, and there would definitely be a lot of fried food then, so he could get to eat them sooner or later anyway.
He never expected that Eldest Senior Brother would remember and have someone send croquettes to him.
These things would always be served to guests, but they were not usually made because of how troublesome it was to make them. Eldest Senior Brother couldn’t have satisfied his private affairs of making Xiaodong a bowl under the guise of accommodating the guests, right?
Xiaodong couldn’t stop smiling as he picked up a croquette and threw it into his mouth.
One word. Delicious.
It was the most delicious when freshly fried. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. The heat and aroma filled his mouth the moment he bit into it. The moment it were to cool, the deliciousness would have been lost. It would be worse if one tried to heat it up again on the pan, which would give an aged taste.
Xiaodong thus ate the entire bowl of croquettes while they were still hot, and in the end, he felt stuffed.
When he tried to meditate, he couldn’t sit still. All he could feel was the aroma of croquettes in his mouth.
The sky was already dark outside, and the winds blew without end. There was a chance that it would snow at night too.
Guests had arrived on the mountain. Though they weren’t related to Xiaodong, and not to mention their residences were rather far away, he still felt it was a little impractical.
This wasn’t the season to visit other places! Was Senior Liu planning to stay here for just two days, or was he planning to celebrate the new year on this mountain?
Who would celebrate the new year at someone else’s home? No matter how, one should return home for the new year.
Xiaodong was a little puzzled. Were the customs of people who practice martial arts and seek the Dao different from ordinary folks?
In his room, Xiaodong practiced the heart cultivation mantra. Though he couldn’t head out, he practiced the steps of the sword techniques in his mind. How should he raise his arms for this move? How should he coordinate his footwork for that move? He vividly imagined himself doing them. Master had returned, and he was definitely going to test everyone on their martial arts. Though Xiaodong had shallow foundation and Master wouldn’t lecture him even if he failed, Xiaodong didn’t want things to end up that way.
Senior Brother Jiang, Senior Sister Linglong and even Senior Brother Chen had all helped him quite a bit. Not to mention, Eldest Senior Brother was so elaborate in his pointers and teachings. If even one of his basic stances was sloppy, wouldn’t that mean his senior siblings’ efforts had gone to waste? If he were to work hard and do well, then Master would definitely know that his senior siblings had been putting in effort too.