It was the dead of night, not a time for social visits. Old Tao was not a person who was easily agitated, so his sudden arrival must have a reason.

Tao Mo hurriedly got up and went to the hall. He saw Old Tao sitting there, his face pale, his back hunched as if recovering from a serious illness. Tao Mo couldn’t help but be shocked, “Old Tao? What happened?”

Old Tao glanced at him and weakly raised his hand. “Young Master.”

Tao Mo approached him and saw his pale lips and bloodless complexion, a stark contrast to his usual energetic self. He grew concerned, “What happened exactly?”

Old Tao sighed, “It’s a long story. Let’s not dwell on it for now. I came here for two reasons. First, the censor recently handled Huang Guangde’s case. But before it could reach the imperial court, Huang Guangde took his own life. In his suicide note, he confessed to all the crimes, taking full responsibility. However, it seems the censor is not willing to close the case just yet. They might continue to investigate and sentence him to confiscation and exile.”

Tao Mo couldn’t help but sigh as well.

Considering his deep enmity with Huang Guangde, it was a mix of joy and melancholy to hear that he had taken his own life. Huang Guangde’s fate served as a warning to Tao Mo. In the world of officials, it was easy to be swayed by power and wealth. If one lost their original intentions and forgot their initial aspirations, even if the people endured, heaven would punish!

“This is the first reason. What about the second reason?” Tao Mo asked.

Old Tao replied, “I need to leave for a while.”

Tao Mo furrowed his brow, “Now?”

Old Tao glanced at Hao Guozi.

Hao Guozi immediately said, “Old Tao initially intended to leave a message and go, but I forced him to come. Young Master, please persuade him. He’s clearly injured but refuses to rest properly and keeps running around. He’s getting old.”

Old Tao’s headache intensified as he listened to Hao Guozi’s ramblings. He said to Tao Mo, “Young Master, you know I have martial arts skills. Ordinary injuries can’t harm me.”

Hao Guozi interjected, “Ordinary injuries can’t harm you, so it’s only natural that those who harm you are not ordinary. Isn’t that even more dangerous?”

Old Tao said, “Young Master, please don’t worry.”

Hao Guozi added, “With such serious injuries, how can you put your mind at ease?”

Tao Mo’s head was spinning from their conversation. It felt a hundred times more difficult than presiding over a court case. His eyes involuntarily sought the figure of Gu She.

As if they had a telepathic connection, Gu She entered the room at that moment, wearing his robe.

Although Old Tao didn’t know what Tao Mo and Gu She had been doing earlier, he could guess from Gu She’s current expression. His old face blushed slightly. “Young Master Gu, I apologize for the disturbance.”

Six words, pregnant with meaning.

Gu She glanced at Old Tao’s complexion, furrowed his brow, and walked over, reaching out his hand.

Old Tao hesitated for a moment but eventually extended his hand.

Gu She held his pulse for a while before saying, “Internal injuries?”

Unable to hide it any longer, Old Tao said, “It’s just some insignificant martial artists. Nothing worth mentioning.”

Gu She let go of his hand and said, “Your injuries are quite serious.”

Before, Tao Mo had been somewhat skeptical of what Hao Guozi had said. But now, hearing Gu She say the same thing, all doubts disappeared. He said to Old Tao, “You should stay and rest. If there’s anything, just let Hao Guozi handle it.”

Hao Guozi also nodded in agreement.

Old Tao sighed, “I have to personally go on this matter.”

Tao Mo and Hao Guozi looked at him with expectant eyes. Even Gu She’s eyes showed a hint of disagreement.

Old Tao said, “At this point, I won’t hide it from you anymore. In fact, I am an elder of the demonic sect.”

Tao Mo already knew this beforehand and had no particular reaction.

Hao Guozi had never heard of the demonic sect.

Gu She remained calm, as if he wasn’t surprised by this answer.

Their calm expressions made Old Tao feel that he was making a big deal out of nothing. “Do you still remember Mu Chun, who stayed in my yamen before? He is also one of the elders of our sect. He hurriedly left because our sect was attacked by a foreign sect at the border.”

Tao Mo and Hao Guozi didn’t understand the affairs of the martial world. Although Gu She understood, he was not a member of the martial world himself, so he only listened briefly and didn’t pay much attention to these grudges. Therefore, the three of them still showed no signs of surprise.

Old Tao continued, “However, that foreign sect is very mysterious, and their martial arts techniques are extremely peculiar. Duanmu, oh, I mean Mu Chun, disappeared during a conflict with them.”

“Disappeared!” Tao Mo finally understood when he heard this. “Did you find him?”

Old Tao shook his head. “I received this news in the capital and rushed to meet with the other elders to discuss this matter. Little did we know, we were ambushed on the way!”

“Was it people from the foreign sect?” Tao Mo asked.

“It’s still unknown, but their martial arts techniques are unheard of and unseen. Most likely, they are members of the foreign sect,” Old Tao replied.

Hao Guozi couldn’t help but ask, “What happened next?” He had already treated Old Tao as a storyteller and was completely captivated.

Old Tao said, “We were all injured, and of course, the other side didn’t fare well either. Luckily, at a critical moment, Ming Zun and Xue Yi Hou arrived, sparing their lives!”

Tao Mo’s expression changed upon hearing this, his lips twitched, but in the end, he didn’t say anything. The martial world and the officialdom were two completely different worlds. He believed that human life was more important than anything else, but Old Tao saw human life as insignificant. These two contrasting beliefs couldn’t be reconciled, but Tao Mo couldn’t change Old Tao’s mindset. Although he had never been involved in the martial world, he knew that those in the martial world lived by the sword, with the slightest mistake leading to death and destruction. It was the law of the martial world.

Seeing Tao Mo’s expression, Old Tao knew that he was displeased with his mention of human life and quickly changed the subject. “Afterward, I was worried that Young Master would be concerned, so I bid them farewell hastily and rushed back.”

Hao Guozi said, “You came back alone. What if you encounter an ambush on the way?”

Old Tao smirked, “Do you think that sect truly has an endless number of top experts? From the group that intercepted us on the way, it seems they already sent out their top experts. It won’t be easy for them to gather another group like that.”

Tao Mo asked, “So, when you said you wanted to leave, you meant to go to…”

“To the border,” Old Tao said, “Duanmu is a member of my demonic sect. No matter what, I can’t let him fall into the hands of that foreign sect!”

Tao Mo said, “But your injuries haven’t healed.”

Old Tao said, “These minor injuries can heal on the way.”

Tao Mo turned to look at Gu She, as if seeking his opinion.

Gu She said, “Old Tao will certainly handle it appropriately.”

Tao Mo furrowed his brow and sighed helplessly. Old Tao was an elder of the demonic sect, and he had no power to control him. If he tried to stop him, and if Old Tao remained silent and left, Tao Mo and the others would be helpless.

As a result, Tao Mo couldn’t sleep well that night. The next day, he and Gu She accompanied Old Tao all the way to the outskirts of the city to bid him farewell.

Old Tao sat in the carriage and looked at Tao Mo’s reluctant gaze. He forced a smile and said, “Seeing someone off for a thousand miles, it’s better to say goodbye here.”

Tao Mo held his hand and earnestly said, “If anything happens, come back to Tan Yang County. I’ll be waiting for you in Tan Yang County.”

Old Tao smiled and said, “Do I have to wait for something to happen to come back? Even if nothing happens, I will still return. This is my home.” During his time in Tan Yang County, he had unknowingly forgotten that he was once an influential elder of the demonic sect and had gradually adapted to his role as the steward of the yamen. If it weren’t for Duanmu Huichun’s incident, he might have spent the rest of his life peacefully in seclusion, no longer concerned with worldly affairs.

Hearing him say that, Tao Mo could only force a smile, give Old Tao a few more reminders, and then get off the carriage with Gu She.

Watching the carriage gradually fade away, Tao Mo felt a heavy burden in his heart. “Maybe I should have kept him here.” After all, he was at that age. He thought of his own father and felt even more sorrowful.

Gu She said, “If he wants to stay, he will stay. If he wants to leave, who can stop him?”

Tao Mo remained silent.

Suddenly, Gu She pulled him into his embrace.

Tao Mo was slightly surprised. Since they became a couple, Gu She rarely displayed such intimate gestures in public.

“If you miss him, then manage Tan Yang County well and let him have no worries,” Gu She whispered.

Tao Mo slowly raised his hand and embraced Gu She’s waist. The real touch made his heart feel at ease, and his lips couldn’t help but curl up in a smile. “Alright. Shall we manage Tan Yang County together?”

“Together?” Gu She smiled and let go. “I’m just an ordinary citizen.”

Tao Mo hesitated and said, “But…”

“I’ll just take care of Gu Manor and ensure that you have nothing to worry about,” Gu She said, a hint of teasing in his eyes. “I’ll be a law-abiding county official and a virtuous assistant.”

Tao Mo’s face turned red. “Then, I’ll bring back my salary to you every month.”

Gu She chuckled, “Thank you, Madam.”

“Let’s go,” Tao Mo held onto his sleeve, “I still have to go to the county yamen.”

Gu She extended his hand from his sleeve and held Tao Mo’s hand. “Okay.”

“Ah. What if someone sees us?”

“We haven’t entered the city yet.”

“But what if we bump into someone on the road…”

“There’s no one on this road.”

“But…”

“Wife, if you don’t want to, I’ll let go.”

After a while, a shy voice sounded, “I want to.”

“Then let’s walk slower.”

“Okay.”

Author’s note: The story is finished. Thank you all for your support all this time! I will continue to work hard. O(∩_∩)O~