In the end, the teapot was placed between two large stones. However, due to its small size, the stones were close together, pressing down the fire, making it low and dull.

Clearly, no one expected such a fire to boil water. So, after setting up the stand for the teapot,

Tao Mo and Gu She stood on opposite ends of the grid-shaped chessboard, each holding only about ten pieces. Finding suitable-sized stones of different colors on the mountain was not an easy task.

Gu Xiaojia helped for a while but could only gather enough for a quarter of a chessboard. He couldn’t help but stomp his foot in frustration and said, “Nothing goes as planned, thanks to your terrible ideas.”

Tao Mo felt embarrassed and said, “I thought we lacked everything on the mountain, except for stones.”

“It’s not that we lack stones. Look, they’re everywhere. But you also need to be able to break them,” Gu Xiaojia threw the stones he was holding onto the ground.

Gu She said, “Let’s play blind Go.”

Tao Mo was bewildered. “Blind Go?”

Gu She took a branch and lightly tapped off the bottom left corner’s star point.

Tao Mo suddenly understood and occupied the corresponding star point on his side.

Gu She said, “I won’t let you win today.”

Tao Mo smiled. “I’ll do my best.”

Gu Xiaojia couldn’t help but ask, “Are you saying that you didn’t give your best in previous games?”

Tao Mo quickly waved his hand. “Of course, I always gave my best. It’s just that today I’ll try even harder.”

Seeing that Gu She didn’t react, Gu Xiaojia smirked at him, then turned around to attend to the teapot.

The mountain breeze blew gently, crisp and chilly.

The marks on the grid-shaped chessboard increased.

Tao Mo felt a bit confused. The most difficult part of the game wasn’t remembering where he had placed his pieces, but rather, which positions were captured and which were recaptured.

He secretly glanced at Gu She, who remained calm and composed as he moved the branch. Tao Mo couldn’t help but admire and worry at the same time, causing his pace to slow down. To avoid making mistakes, he tried to place his pieces in empty areas.

However, at this stage of the game, even in empty areas, the territory had already been divided. So, whenever he placed a piece there, it was either a wasted move or a gift for Gu She to capture more.

“I… I’ve lost,” Tao Mo didn’t want to struggle anymore.

Gu She asked, “Why didn’t you start from here?” He pointed with the branch at the most chaotic position in the upper right corner.

Tao Mo said, “I can’t remember the positions there clearly.”

Gu Xiaojia said, “I thought your memory was excellent! Turns out you’re also a scatterbrain.”

Gu She glanced at him faintly.

Gu Xiaojia immediately realized he had become too proud again, and the painful memory of the disastrous night in the kitchen rushed into his mind. He sat cross-legged next to the teapot, no longer making a sound.

Tao Mo suggested, “It’s close to noon. Shall we head back?”

Gu Xiaojia looked at Gu She’s expression and saw no response, so he said, “Why go back so early? Don’t tell me you’re worried about that Yiyu guy?”

Tao Mo was taken aback. “Don’t we need lunch?”

“Lunch, of course…” Gu Xiaojia’s expression changed and he continued, “The food container is still in the carriage at the foot of the mountain.”

Tao Mo said, “I can go get it.”

Gu Xiaojia knew that in Gu She’s eyes, he was far inferior to Tao Mo, so he didn’t dare to let him do it and quickly stood up, saying, “No need, no need. I’ll go. You don’t know where it is.” As he spoke, he ran down the mountain swiftly and efficiently.

Tao Mo nervously turned to look at Gu She, only to find him also looking at him. “What does Gu Gongzi usually do when he comes to the mountain?” Every time those cold, clear eyes stared at him, he couldn’t help but feel nervous and the urge to speak.

Gu She replied, “Admiring the scenery.”

Tao Mo nodded. “Ah, the scenery on the mountain is indeed charming. Have you been to the mountaintop? The view must be even more magnificent from up there.”

Gu She said, “It’s no different. Scenery varies from person to person, not from height.”

Tao Mo savored these words repeatedly, finally marveling, “Gu Gongzi is truly extraordinary.”

Gu She calmly said, “Just idle talk.”

“It’s not idle talk,” Tao Mo exclaimed excitedly. “In fact, the officialdom is similar to admiring the scenery. A true good official, regardless of their rank, is someone who serves the people. Those who are arrogant and tyrannical because of their high position or timid and submissive because of their low position are simply not good officials.”

Gu She said, “You’re thinking too far.”

Tao Mo felt uneasy.

Gu She continued, “But you have a point.”

Tao Mo smiled with relief.

The two of them stood silently for a while.

Gu She looked at the pot of water and asked, “Will it boil?”

Tao Mo wasn’t certain either. “It should. Isn’t there a saying… ‘Dripping water wears away a stone’?”

Gu She said, “Water wears away stone.”

“Ah? Did I say something wrong again?” Tao Mo asked, feeling embarrassed.

“No, you’re fine,” Gu She smiled.

Tao Mo sincerely said, “You look really handsome when you smile.”

Gu She stared at him. “You approached me just because I look good when I smile?”

“No, no, even when you’re not smiling, you still look good,” Tao Mo remembered their first meeting, and his voice lowered, “The first time I saw you, I thought you looked really good.”

Gu She said, “So, you approached me just because I look good?”

Tao Mo panicked, his forehead sweating as he shook his head and waved his hands. “No, not entirely. You’re intelligent, kind, and… anyway, I truly think you’re a good person.”

“Actually, even if it was just because of my appearance, it wouldn’t matter,” Gu She said confidently.

Tao Mo was stunned.

Gu She continued, “Some people love wealth, some love fame, some love power and authority, some love the country. Naturally, there are also those who are fond of beauty. It’s just different preferences, and it doesn’t mean one’s level is higher than another.”

Tao Mo heard this kind of statement for the first time. Since childhood, although his father doted on him, he also hoped that he would become successful and stand out. So he always thought that obtaining fame and inheritance was the right path. Now, hearing Gu She’s words, it seemed like every path in the world was the right one, depending on each person’s preferences.

“Aren’t you angry when others praise your appearance?” He thought most men didn’t like to be praised for their looks, and some even deliberately grew a beard to hide their beauty, afraid that others would underestimate their knowledge because of their appearance.

Gu She said, “Appearance is given by parents, just like intelligence. Why should we treat them differently?”

Tao Mo said, “But knowledge is something we learn ourselves.”

Gu She said, “Someone with a photographic memory and great comprehension skills will achieve more than someone who works just as hard but is slow-witted. Who will excel?”

“Naturally, the person with a photographic memory.”

“That’s innate talent, also given by parents.”

Tao Mo suddenly realized, “Gu Gongzi must have extraordinary talent.”

Gu She glanced at him. “You were supposed to as well.”

Tao Mo’s face turned red. “I was mischievous when I was young. It’s too late to regret now.”

Gu She said, “In learning, there’s no first or last. The accomplished become the teachers.”

Tao Mo pondered the meaning of these words for a moment and said, “I’ve already asked Mushiye to find a teacher for me. This time, I will definitely study hard.”

Gu She said, “If you want to find a teacher…”


In the distance, Gu Xiaojia’s shouting and yelling could be faintly heard.

Although Tao Mo wanted to know what Gu She had yet to say, he had to first meet them on the way.

He saw Gu Xiaojia running in a hurry, with new mud stains on his knees. When he spotted Tao Mo, he immediately stopped and pointed down the mountain, gasping for breath. “Carriage, the carriage… it’s been stolen!”

Tao Mo: “…Is this expected?”

Gu She frowned slightly and stood up, walking down the path.

Tao Mo also wanted to follow, but then he remembered that the teapot was still heating on the fire and the tea cups were in the pavilion. He quickly turned back to extinguish the fire, pour out the water, and carried the tea set as he walked down the mountain. In just a short while, the figures of Gu She and Gu Xiaojia became blurred and disappeared from sight.

It was his first time coming to Long Mountain, holding things in his hands, feeling anxious and stumbling along the way. He didn’t know how many times he had fallen on his backside, but he only knew to protect the things in his arms. When he reached the bottom of the mountain, he looked like he had grown out of the soil.

He saw Gu She standing by the road, with no sign of Gu Xiaojia, and without caring about his sore body, he rushed up and asked, “Where’s Gu Xiaojia?”

Gu She said, “He went to Sangtou Village.”

Tao Mo was confused. “Sangtou Village?”

Gu She said, “This road only leads to Sangtou Village, and there are usually no outsiders passing through.”

Tao Mo finally realized why Gu Xiaojia said there would never be anyone stealing the carriage. He just didn’t expect that right after making such a boastful claim, he would end up contradicting himself.