Lu Jing replied, “As a minor celestial, I am stationed in the Lingxiao Hall of the Heavenly Court every day at the hour of Mao. It seems that apart from the esteemed Clear Monarch, Song Yuanjun, and yourself, all the other immortals are present.”

I asked, “Among those who do not attend the hall or lack an official position, has anyone recently left the Heavenly Court?” Lu Jing replied, “I am unaware of those who do not attend the hall.” I didn’t expect to hear any rumored news from Lu Jing, so I let it go.

If all the immortals are in the hall, then who among those who don’t attend or lack a position could have possibly saved Nan Ming? Meanwhile, Heng Wen had already read several official documents and still had a stack of them left. I added some tea to his cup, and Baihua Lingjun covered a yawn and looked around, saying, “Song Yao, which of these two rooms is better for resting? I haven’t had a proper rest for many days, and seeing the bedding and canopy in this room makes me feel a bit sleepy.”

Baihua Lingjun asked insincerely while his eyes drifted towards the large bed behind Heng Wen, fixed in place. I pretended to ponder but remained silent. Finally, Baihua Lingjun said, “Otherwise, I’ll just rest on this bed randomly. I won’t occupy the bed while sleeping; I’ll sleep by the edge. After you finish reading the official documents, Clear Monarch, feel free to sleep outside. There’s another bed next door, and Song Yao and Lu Jing can sleep there.” He yawned again, as if preparing to get up.

I said, “Baihua brother, you haven’t rested for many days, and they are both sitting here with bright lights, reading official documents. I’m afraid you won’t rest well.”

Baihua Lingjun said, “It doesn’t matter. When I play chess with the Polaris Star, I often rest at his residence, so I’m not afraid of the light.” I said, “But this room is not as quiet as the one next door, and the mountain cat is also in the next room. Don’t you want to take a look?”

Baihua Lingjun smiled and said, “Indeed, Song Yao, you are my confidant!” With great enthusiasm, he floated through the wall to the next room, and I had no choice but to follow. Before I left, I pushed Heng Wen’s teacup toward him and said, “Drink some tea. I’ll go see Baihua Lingjun and come back later.”

Heng Wen, without lifting his head, said, “Understood.” He paused his pen, raised his hand, put down the pen, and quickly closed the document before taking another one.

I turned and went through the wall to the next room. The fox had just raised its body halfway and looked at Baihua Lingjun with a cold gaze. The mountain cat curled up, pressing a pillow against the fox’s back, soundly asleep. Baihua Lingjun stared greedily at the mountain cat, completely unnoticed. The fox straightened its back, stood up, shook its fur, and transformed into a human form. The fox was quite discerning; it immediately sensed Baihua Lingjun’s celestial aura and respectfully lowered its head, saying, “I am Xuanli, a little demon. May I ask which esteemed celestial from the Heavenly Court I have the pleasure of meeting?”

The mountain cat, disturbed by the commotion, opened its sleepy eyes and looked around in confusion. When it saw Baihua Lingjun, it was startled and trembled, curling up into a ball and shivering.

With a friendly smile, Baihua Lingjun said in a gentle voice, “Do not be afraid. I am Baihua Lingjun from the Heavenly Court. I happened to have finished my duties and came to visit my fellow immortals. I am not here to capture any demons.” As he spoke, he approached the cat and casually placed his hand on its head. The mountain cat trembled all over and curled up even tighter. Baihua touched its head and said with a smile, “Good, good.” The lewdness of his expression even made me, his fellow immortal, feel somewhat embarrassed.

Seeing the cat trembling pitifully, I finally spoke with a sense of conscience, “Baihua brother, it might be a bit shy and afraid of you. It’s better for you to move away and not scare the poor little creature.”

Reluctantly, Baihua Lingjun removed his hand from the cat’s head and stepped back. The mountain cat immediately darted to the ground, rolled over, and transformed into a young boy. It huddled behind the fox.

The fox instinctively moved to stand in front of the mountain cat, protecting it.

Baihua Lingjun floated back a few steps and said, “You have cultivated for nearly two thousand years. Your cultivation is impressive.”

The fox lowered its voice and said, “It is an honor for me to be noticed by the esteemed Lingjun. Although the child is in my den, I never restrict the movements of the creatures in the den. They come and go as they please.”

Baihua Lingjun returned to the room and asked the cat spirit, “Are you willing to accompany me to the Heavenly Court?”

The mountain cat held onto the fox’s clothes tightly, pressing against it, and shook its head.

Baihua Lingjun sighed softly and said, “Forget it, it’s all destined to be this way. But…” He brushed his sleeves and glanced casually at the fox, then scanned me. “If you won’t persuade it to come with me to the Heavenly Court, don’t regret it later.”

He walked to the edge of the bed, swept it with his sleeve, and lay down.

The fox looked at Baihua Lingjun with a puzzled and uncertain expression. I knew that the poor creature didn’t understand. This Baihua Lingjun had just left the Western realms and hadn’t fully recovered from his state of mind.

After Baihua Lingjun lay down, he turned his head slightly and looked at the ground, shaking his head. “Song Yao, Song Yao, although this person’s body looks like the Second Master Lü Dongbin in the mortal realm, it’s still been used by you for quite a while. It’s quite desolate to leave it on the ground. At least give it a big stool to lie on.”

I said, “You don’t understand. The stool is narrow and uncomfortable to sit on. It’s better to leave it on the ground and make it even.” After thinking for a moment, Baihua nodded and said, “You’re right. But I’ve heard that the ants and mice in the mortal realm are quite fierce. Be careful that this body doesn’t get nibbled on.” I replied, “Rest assured, Baihua brother. The ants and mice won’t touch it.” Baihua Lingjun made a preemptive remark and entered his dream.

However, the mountain cat remained curled up behind the fox, trembling. I wanted to take them to the next room, but Lu Jing was standing there, upright and stern. Heng Wen still had the official documents to read until dawn. I could only sit quietly in this room with integrity. The mountain cat saw that I had no intention of leaving and cautiously jumped onto a chair beside me, curling up to sleep. The fox, realizing that there was no hope of meeting Heng Wen tonight, found another chair and lay down at a distance.

Until daybreak.