The Heavenly Court remained as beautiful as ever, with its clouds and vibrant colors. The faces of the guards at the South Heaven Gate were also the same.

Yun, the celestial envoy, stood in front of the South Heaven Gate and bowed to Beiyue, the Heavenly King, saying, “By the order of the Jade Emperor, this humble servant has been waiting here for a long time. The Jade Emperor specifically instructed me to ask if the honored guest has been brought back.”

Little Tianchu stood beside me, and the heavenly soldier holding the fox stood on my other side. Beiyue said, “Please inform the Jade Emperor that the honored guest has been safely brought back.” Yun turned to look at me, nodded, and said, “This humble servant understands.” He continued, “The Jade Emperor also commanded that the honored guest should be taken to the Hall of Radiant Divination.”

Beiyue received the command and turned to Tianchu, saying, “Follow me.” There was a hint of reluctance in his expression. Tianchu, still unaware of the reasons, said in his clear and youthful voice, “Okay. Thank you, Heavenly King.” He took a step forward from beside me, then turned back and said, “By the way, where do you live in the Heavenly Court? You have taken care of me so much during these days in the mortal realm. I will come to thank you another day.”

I forced a smile and said, “I live in Guangxu Mansion. If you ever come, please ask the Heavenly King of the North to show you the way.”

Tianchu nodded with a smile and said, “I have probably been away from the Northern Dipper Palace for too long. I’m ashamed that I haven’t heard of it. But the scenery in the Heavenly Court has changed somewhat in the mortal realm these past few days. Let’s bid farewell for now and meet again when we have free time.”

I replied, “Alright.” As I watched Tianchu walk towards Beiyue…

Yun approached me and said, “Please come with me.”

I took a step forward, but Yun extended his sleeve to stop me and said, “Song Yao Yuanjun, I’m not referring to you. The Jade Emperor’s command is for the honored guest to temporarily rest in the mansion.” He looked at the heavenly soldier holding the furry ball and continued, “You come with me.”

I felt a sense of trepidation. Yun was still very polite when speaking to me and addressed me as Song Yao Yuanjun, which meant that the Jade Emperor had not yet issued an order to strip me of my rank and status. Since the Jade Emperor had not stripped me of my rank and status, it meant that he was preparing a severe punishment for me.

Helplessly, I watched as Beiyue led Tianchu away, and Yun led the heavenly soldier with the furry ball, gradually disappearing into the distance. The remaining heavenly soldiers bowed to me and said, “We have been ordered to escort you back to the mansion.”

When I looked up, the small figure of Tianchu was already blurry in the clouds. Why didn’t the Jade Emperor summon me to the court for questioning? What was he planning?

And Hengwen… what happened to him?

Surrounded by the heavenly soldiers, I returned to my Guangxu Mansion. Over the years in the Heavenly Court, although I had become an honorary lord, I had very few attendants. I always envied the grand entourage of the other lords and Hengwen when they appeared in court. Today, being surrounded by a group of heavenly soldiers, I finally experienced what it was like.

For the first time, I carefully observed my Guangxu Mansion from a distance and realized that its grand gray walls and black-tiled roofs were quite impressive. No wonder Hengwen always liked to come here and said that my mansion was more comfortable than his Weiyuan Palace. It was a pity that I hadn’t treated it well and paid attention to its details over the years.

As I walked to the front gate, my anxiety grew. The bright characters of Guangxu Mansion still shone on the plaque above the door. I sighed with regret, realizing that the Jade Emperor was very angry and intended to strip me of my title, remove the plaque, confiscate the mansion, and revoke my celestial status. These were just minor penalties before the severe punishment he had prepared.

A heavenly soldier opened the door and pushed me inside, closing the door behind me. I heard the clinking of chains on the door and then a loud locking sound. From the sound of it, the lock was quite substantial.

The mansion was covered by celestial barriers, creating a secluded and secure space, like an overturned bowl, keeping me tightly enclosed within Guangxu Mansion.

For the first time, I discovered how vast my Guangxu Mansion truly was as I walked back and forth through the various rooms. The mansion was empty, with only me. In the backyard, there was the stone couch where Hengwen had gotten drunk the first time he came to see me, and we had slept together. The chessboard under the magnolia tree still had the unfinished game we played last time. In the corner of the left wing’s room, there were two bottles of jade wine that he hadn’t drunk. On the desk in the study, the pens on the pen stand were the same ones he used when he hastily wrote letters from the urgent documents brought by Lu Jing. In the bedroom, the ink lotus painting he gave me hung on the wall. In the hall, there was a jade and glass folding screen that Hengwen won from Donghua Emperor in a gambling match. I said it didn’t match the decorations in his Weiyuan Palace, but I shamelessly asked for it. On the corridor’s pillars, there were sentences he casually wrote when he taught me clever tricks for composing poems. In the courtyard, we used to practice celestial techniques and accidentally destroyed a railing of the pavilion. It hadn’t been repaired yet.

As I walked from the rooms to the backyard, I heard a voice beyond the celestial barriers above my head saying, “Song Yao Yuanjun, the Jade Emperor commands you to meet him in the Peach Blossom Garden.”

I couldn’t understand why the Jade Emperor wanted to interrogate me in the Peach Blossom Garden instead of the Hall of Golden Court. Of course, if we could easily guess the intentions of the Jade Emperor, then he wouldn’t be the Jade Emperor.

Helplessly, I looked up and said, “Brother Heyun, if you don’t remove the celestial barrier, do you want me to meet the Jade Emperor while still inside the mansion?”

Inside the Peach Blossom Garden, the peach blossoms bloomed brightly, and the clouds were vibrant.

The Jade Emperor sat in a pavilion, and I, understanding the situation, walked forward and knelt down, saying, “I, the guilty immortal Song Yao, pay respects to the Jade Emperor.”

The Jade Emperor spoke slowly, “You admit your guilt straightforwardly.”

I lowered my head and said, “As a guilty immortal, I repeatedly violated the heavenly rules while in the mortal realm. I know I cannot deceive the all-seeing eyes of the Jade Emperor, so…”

The Jade Emperor interrupted me, saying, “Enough. Do you think that by being verbose and writing a confession, you can fool your way out? Your confession has already been seen by Hengwen Qingjun, and he has revealed everything.”

I raised my head in shock, and the Jade Emperor slammed his hand heavily on the stone table, his face cold. He said, “Song Yao, you have done well in the mortal realm!”

My mind became a blur, and I hurriedly said to the Jade Emperor, “Jade Emperor, all these are the fault of the guilty immortal. Please do not listen to the words of Hengwen, Hengwen Qingjun. He was influenced by…”

The Jade Emperor suddenly stood up, violently flicked his sleeves, and sneered, “I naturally know it is your fault. You cannot shift the blame onto someone else. You involve Tianchu and now even bring up Hengwen Qingjun. Song Yao, Song Yao, I sent you down to the mortal realm, and you have reaped an abundant harvest!”

I remained silent. The Jade Emperor said, “You were originally an unpredictable variable. Yet, you managed to ascend to the Heavenly Court. I followed the will of the heavens and kept you in the Heavenly Court. However, this time in the mortal realm, something else has occurred.”

I prostrated myself on the ground and said, “This guilty immortal was merely picked up as a celestial being. As Tianchu said in the Hall of Golden Court, although I became a celestial being, I still longed for the mortal realm. Hengwen Qingjun… he knows nothing about mortal affairs. In truth, I have been interested in him for many years. Taking advantage of this opportunity in the mortal realm, I seduced and tempted him. Hengwen Qingjun… the guilty immortal knows that there is no forgiveness for these crimes. Whether it is ascending the Immortal Execution Platform or turning to dust, I deserve it all.”

The Jade Emperor remained silent. Two bees flew into the pavilion, chasing each other under my gaze.

The Jade Emperor stood at the steps of the pavilion with his hands behind his back, and the two bees flew to him. He said, “The Dao is natural, following the heart and converging harmoniously. The Heavenly Court is not like the Western Pure Land, devoid of love and desire. However, everything in the universe follows the law of cause and effect. Immortals must also adhere to the natural order and cannot defy cause and effect. The Heavenly Court’s rules are actually meant to rectify one’s conduct, such as Nanming and Tianchu.”

The Jade Emperor paced back to the stone table and sat down, saying, “Nanming has long had feelings for Tianchu, but when he spoke with Me and the Tathagata about the incident involving Qingtong and Lanzhi, he was harsh and strict. Being unjust himself and mistreating others, he will have to face some retribution along with Tianchu in the mortal realm.”

I suspected that the Jade Emperor had lost his temper and these words didn’t quite match the topic at hand. Perhaps the Jade Emperor wanted to speak grandly in front of me, and it didn’t matter if these words didn’t align perfectly with the situation. Love exists in the mortal realm and also in the heavens. Even in the mortal realm, same-sex love is not uncommon, let alone in the Heavenly Court. That’s why the Jade Emperor said that other causes and effects were temporarily irrelevant.

I heard the Jade Emperor ask me, “Song Yao, do you know which of your crimes is the most severe this time?”

I immediately replied, “The guilty immortal knows. The guilty immortal enticed Hengwen Qingjun with mortal temptations. This crime is unforgivable.”

The Jade Emperor stood up again, walked to the edge of the pavilion, and after a moment, said, “Go to the Fate Star Jun and let him inform you of your karma.”

Perplexed, I looked up, but the Jade Emperor had already left the pavilion, and several heavenly messengers appeared from the Peach Blossom Forest and followed the Jade Emperor out of the Peach Blossom Garden.