Xie Lian still didn’t turn around and asked, “Blood Rain Exquisite Beauty?”

Huacheng replied, “Crown Prince.”

Xie Lian turned around and smiled, saying, “It’s the first time I’ve heard you call me that.”

The young man in red sat on the mat, propped up one leg, and said, “How does it feel?”

Xie Lian thought for a moment but ultimately didn’t ask him, “Why did you stop calling me ‘brother’?”. He simply said, “It’s fine, it’s fine.”

He asked, “On that day at Yujun Mountain, the groom who took me away was you, right?”

A deeper smile appeared at the corner of Huacheng’s lips. Xie Lian suddenly realized that his words seemed ambiguous, so he quickly corrected himself and said seriously, “I mean, the person who disguised as the groom and took me away at Yujun Mountain was you, right?”

Huacheng replied, “I didn’t disguise as the groom.”

If we were to say it like that, it was indeed true. At that time, the young man didn’t claim to be the groom. He just stopped in front of the wedding sedan chair and extended his hand, and Xie Lian followed him on his own. Xie Lian asked, “Alright. So, why did you appear back then?”

Huacheng said, “There are only two possible answers to that question: First, I specifically came for you, Crown Prince; second, I happened to pass by and was bored. Which one do you find more believable?”

Calculating the days he had spent with him, Xie Lian sincerely said, “I dare not say which one is more believable, but it seems like you were really bored.”

With his left hand supporting his right elbow and his right hand supporting his chin, Xie Lian looked at Huacheng with his gaze wandering around him, nodded, and said, “You are different from the legends.”

Huacheng changed his posture but still supported his cheek with his hand as he gazed at Xie Lian, asking, “Oh? How did you come to know that I am me?”

Xie Lian’s mind was filled with the umbrella in the blood rain, the jingling silver chains, and the cold silver wrist guard. He thought to himself that he didn’t hide it very well, but when it came to his mouth, it somehow changed. He said seriously, “You wear red clothes, and you seem to know everything, have all the abilities, and fear nothing. No matter how I tested you, you never revealed any information. You must be at the ‘Transcendent’ level or above. In that case, other than the ‘Blood Rain Exquisite Beauty’ who terrifies all the gods and immortals, I can’t think of anyone else.”

Huacheng laughed and asked, “Can I take that as a compliment?”

Xie Lian thought, “Didn’t you hear that it was meant as one from the beginning?”

Huacheng continued, “After saying so much, why hasn’t the Crown Prince asked me about my purpose in approaching you?”

Xie Lian said, “If you don’t want to tell me, will you tell me even if I ask?”

Huacheng replied, “Then you can just drive me away.”

Xie Lian laughed and said, “With your vast abilities, even if I were to drive you away now, if you really wanted to do something, wouldn’t you just change your appearance and come back?”

As the two of them smiled at each other, a rattling sound suddenly broke the brief silence in Pu Qi Temple.

They looked toward the source of the sound, but there was no one there, only a small black clay jar rolling on the ground.

That was the small clay jar that housed Ban Yue. Xie Lian had casually placed it by the mat, but he didn’t know when it had fallen over and rolled to the door, blocked by the wooden door made by Huacheng. It bumped against the door one by one. Worried that it would shatter, Xie Lian went to open the door. The small clay jar continued to roll and ended up on the grass outside the door.

Xie Lian followed behind it, and the small clay jar stood upright on the grass. It was just a jar, but it gave the illusion of looking up at the starry sky. Huacheng also walked out of Pu Qi Temple, and Xie Lian said to the jar, “Ban Yue, are you awake?”

Luckily, when they had returned from the desert, it was already late at night. Otherwise, if someone saw Xie Lian standing outside in the middle of the night asking a jar what was wrong, they would probably be startled.

After a while, a muffled voice came from the jar, saying, “General Hua.”

Xie Lian sat down beside it and said, “Ban Yue, do you want to come out and look at the stars? Do you want to come out?”

Huacheng stood by a tree and said, “She just left Half Moon City, so it’s better for her to stay inside for a while longer.”

Hearing his suggestion, Xie Lian thought it made sense. After all, Ban Yue had spent two hundred years in Half Moon City before suddenly coming here. It would probably be difficult for her to adjust. He said, “Then you should stay inside for a while longer and rest. This is the place where I cultivate. You don’t have to worry about anything else, like those generals and soldiers. Just focus on yourself.”

The jar shook a couple of times, expressing who knows what. After a pause, Xie Lian still felt the need to explain the situation to her. After considering it for a moment, he said, “Ban Yue, it’s not that your snakes are disobedient. It’s just that Xiaopei General secretly learned your snake-controlling techniques. Those people weren’t bitten by your snakes.”

Ban Yue said in a muffled voice, “General Hua, I couldn’t move at that time, but I heard everything.”

Upon hearing this, Xie Lian was taken aback. He realized that back then, Pei Su had only restricted Ban Yue’s physical movements, but her awareness was still intact. He said, “I see.”

After thinking for a moment, he added, “The reason Xiao Pei did this might be because he couldn’t bear to see the suffering of the soldiers under Ban Yue and wanted to release them from it. But he used the wrong method.”

“…,” the jar wobbled and said, “General Hua, what will happen to Brother Pei Su?”

Xie Lian folded his sleeves and said, “I don’t know. But when you make a mistake, you have to accept some punishment.”

After a moment of silence, the jar wobbled again, and this time, Xie Lian finally understood that it was nodding.

Ban Yue said, “Although Kemo always scolds him, Brother Pei Su isn’t such a bad person.”

Xie Lian asked, “Is that so?”

Ban Yue replied, “Yes.”

Ban Yue had always been withdrawn since she was young and experienced rejection from children of the same age. She only got along well with a few young boys from the Central Plains. Considering that Pei Su was sent with only two thousand soldiers to attack the capital city, he must have also felt some distress within the army. These two individuals seemed difficult to communicate with, either appearing aloof or absorbed in their own thoughts. They were probably somewhat similar. Xie Lian didn’t know what to say, but after a moment, he said, “By the way, Ban Yue, ‘Hua Xie’ is a pseudonym. I haven’t been a general for a long time, so you don’t have to call me General Hua anymore.”

Ban Yue asked, “Then how should I address you?”

That was indeed a question. If Ban Yue addressed him as Crown Prince in a serious manner, it would feel somewhat strange. Xie Lian didn’t mind the form of address, but a particular thought came to mind, so he said, “It’s up to you. You can continue calling me General Hua if you want.” However, there was a real person named Hua here, so it might cause a bit of confusion. But then again, he realized, “Hua Xie” was obviously a pseudonym, taking the first character from “Flower Crown Martial God” as the surname, and “Huacheng” was also a pseudonym. They happened to choose the same surname for their aliases, which was quite interesting.

At this moment, Ban Yue said, “I’m sorry, General Hua.”

Xie Lian turned around, feeling a bit frustrated, and said, “Ban Yue, why do you keep apologizing to me?” It couldn’t be that his appearance made people feel apologetic, right?

Ban Yue shrank inside the jar and said, “I want to save the people.”

Xie Lian: “…………….”

Ban Yue continued, “General Hua, you said that before.”

Xie Lian: “???”

He quickly said, “Wait. Wait a minute!”

Upon hearing him shout, Ban Yue seemed to freeze in the jar and asked, “What?”

Xie Lian glanced at Huacheng, who was standing with his arms crossed near a tree, and said in a low voice, “Did I really say something like that back then?”

This sentence used to be his favorite phrase when he was in his teens, but he probably hadn’t mentioned it at all in the past few hundred years. Xie Lian found it hard to believe. However, Ban Yue insisted, “General, you did say it.”

Xie Lian tried to resist and said, “Did I…?”

Ban Yue said earnestly, “You did. One time, you asked everyone what they wanted to do when they grew up, and after everyone shared their dreams, you also said, ‘My dream before was to save the people.’”

“…,” Xie Lian sighed. So that’s how it was. He covered his forehead and said, “Ban Yue, why do you remember such casual remarks so clearly?”

Ban Yue looked puzzled and said, “Was it a casual remark? But, General Hua, I feel like you were really serious when you said it.”

Helpless, Xie Lian looked up at the sky and said, “Haha… Is that so? Maybe. I don’t even remember what else I said.”

Ban Yue said, “You also said, ‘Do what you believe is right!’”

Xie Lian thought to himself, “…What a useless thing to say… Why do I always say such things… Is that really the kind of person I am?”

Ban Yue said, “But I don’t know what is right anymore.”

Hearing this, Xie Lian was stunned.

The muffled voice of Ban Yue buzzed in the jar, “It seems like I’m doing something right, but the result is that I opened the gate and let the enemy troops in, slaughtering my own people. My country was lost. But if I didn’t open the gate immediately, the people of Ban Yue would have flowed into the Central Plains and caused harm to even more people. General Hua has been good to me, and even when I was in the Central Plains, people on the streets often gave me things to eat. But Kemo has also been good to me, and the soldiers listen to me. When I came back, I sincerely wanted to do well as the State Teacher. However, not only did I open the city gate and cause their deaths, but I also didn’t allow them to eat humans. Without eating humans, they would suffer greatly, and I couldn’t free them from their suffering.”

She rambled on, incoherently going back and forth, and finally, she said in confusion, “No matter what I do, the results are always terrible. General Hua, I know I haven’t done well, but can you tell me where I went wrong? What step did I mess up?”

Hearing her question, Xie Lian fell silent and rubbed the back of his neck for a while before finally saying, “I’m sorry, Ban Yue. I didn’t know the answer to this question before, and now… it seems like I still don’t know.”

Ban Yue sighed and said in frustration, “General Hua, I feel like I’ve been doing something for over two hundred years, but I have no idea what it is.”

Hearing her words, Xie Lian felt even more frustrated. “So, does that mean I’ve been wasting my time for over eight hundred years?”

Leaving Ban Yue to gaze at the stars alone in her jar, Xie Lian and Huacheng returned to the Puqi Palace. After closing the door, Huacheng said, “If Pei Su detests the people of Ban Yue so much, how could it be because he couldn’t bear to see the suffering of the soldiers?”

Xie Lian sighed and said, “It’s all speculation anyway. With Ban Yue, let’s try to pick the explanation that sounds more noble.”

He thought about it, shook his head, and continued, “If Pei Su really wanted Ban Yue to be freed from Ban Yue Country as soon as possible, he could have chosen to eliminate Ban Yue Pass. But instead, he chose the method of luring living people into the pass to feed the ghosts. He’s really bold.”

Huacheng said, “He can’t do that. Clearing the pass would require going through the Heavenly Court.”

Xie Lian asked, “So what if he goes through the Heavenly Court?”

Huacheng calmly replied, “It’s not good. Every group of divine officials that comes from the Heavenly Court remembers clearly where they are going and what they will do. If someone is sent down from heaven, they will undoubtedly completely wipe out Ban Yue Pass, including this little Ban Yue. He naturally chose to keep it to himself and only lured some living people to feed the ghosts.”

With a smile, Huacheng added, “Ascended divine officials see mortal lives as insignificant compared to their own.”

Xie Lian chose not to comment on that statement and simply said, “Well, he could have secretly created a clone to eliminate those Ban Yue soldiers.”

Huacheng said, “The power of clones would be weakened. You’ve seen the clone Pei Su created, Ah Zhao. He couldn’t solve the issue with so many Ban Yue soldiers and could only end up sacrificing himself, at best alleviating some of the grudges.”

Xie Lian glanced at Huacheng, recalling how San Lang had killed all the Ban Yue soldiers at the bottom of the Pit of the Condemned in an instant. He turned around and said, “Your clone is quite formidable.”

Huacheng raised an eyebrow and said, “Of course. But this is the original me.”

Upon hearing this, Xie Lian stopped thinking about anything else and turned his head, feeling slightly surprised. He said, “Huh? Are you the original?”

Huacheng replied, “Absolutely.”

After saying that, he seemed to have an expression that said, “Go ahead, test it for yourself.” So, before Xie Lian realized what he was doing, he had already raised a finger and poked Huacheng’s cheek.

After poking him, Xie Lian suddenly woke up, realizing that it was not appropriate at all. He was simply curious about the feel of the Ghost King’s skin, but his body had acted faster than his thoughts, and he ended up poking him. It was really embarrassing.

Being suddenly poked on the face, Huacheng also seemed slightly surprised, but as always, he quickly regained his composure. He didn’t say anything, but his raised eyebrow seemed to be waiting for an explanation, and the laughter in his eyes was evident. Xie Lian couldn’t come up with any explanation, so he looked at his finger, discreetly hiding it, and casually said, “Not bad, not bad.”

Finally, Huacheng burst into laughter, crossed his arms, tilted his head, and asked, “Do you think my skin is not bad?”

Xie Lian sincerely replied, “It’s really good. But…”

Huacheng asked, “But what?”

Xie Lian stared at his face, carefully observing for a while. In the end, he said, “But… can I see your true appearance?”

Since Huacheng had referred to “this skin,” it meant that even though this body was the original, the appearance wasn’t the true form. This youthful appearance wasn’t his real face.

This time, Huacheng didn’t answer immediately. He lowered his arms, and whether it was Xie Lian’s misconception or not, he felt that Huacheng’s gaze had become somewhat gloomy. It made Xie Lian’s heart skip a beat.