Wuxiaworld > Nightfall > 844 The Return of an Old Friend

844 The Return of an Old Friend

The West-Hill palace was not an Unknown Place like the Zhishou Abbey or the Xuankong Temple, but still it was secluded from the mortal world. In common believers' eyes, it was the Kingdom of God seated in the mortal world. Horse carriages were running fast towards it from the foot of the mountain, seemingly bringing messages from the mortal world. Nobody would laugh at that.

The priests and deacons started checking. Not surprisingly, they saw high-level ID tokens, and when they found these cavalry soldiers and carriages were from Chang'an, they grew more anxious. They looked at each other with shock and confusion in their eyes, "Is war really coming back?"

Guarded by the cavalryman of the Divine Hall, the carriages were driven to the Peach Mountain, leaving dust behind, and it didn't stop until it reached the Divine Hall of Light at the cliff's platform.

The two girls in white clapped their hands gently.

Ten more deacons walked out of one side of the Divine Palace, carrying black cloth piled as high as mountains. Then, they stretched it to the front of the palace. The black cloth was very long, almost the height of three people. The whole square was enclosed by the black curtain, and people could barely see into the square even if they were at the white palace, seated at the peak of Peach Mountain.

At present, there were only cavalry soldiers and carriages inside the black curtain enclosure. Those who had just finished the long journey didn't care to salute the two girls in white. They opened the carriage door and supported the man coming out of it.

The girl in white looked at the priest in charge of the mission and asked with a childish voice, "Are you sure there's nothing wrong?"

The priest turned grave and said, "Of course not. We've used the connection with our old friends in the Southern Gate Temple, and surely the man has been staying in Lin 47th Street for all these years."

The girl in white looked at the middle-aged man beside the carriage, and nodded in satisfaction.

The clothes covered by oil stains and the hands full of scars indicated the man's identity as an ordinary person. He was extremely nervous like everybody would be. He had been an ordinary Chang'an citizen, and someone deceived him and brought him to the suburbs, then, he was dragged away. They traveled day and night. Finally he had gotten off the carriage, only to find he had reached the Kingdom of God for Haotian believers, the West-Hill Palace. He could barely support himself beside the carriage.

He should be excited except for the fear and confusion as a Haotian believer coming to the West-Hill Palace. However, given the war with Tang which had just ended, he could barely believe anything nice was in store for him.

The other girl in white asked the priest, "Did you bring the other thing back?"

This priest was the most loyal subordinate of the Divine Hall of Light, and he didn't even know what mission he had been carrying on until now, but he could at least guess that this was about the Divine Hall's biggest secret.

He took a few careful steps forward and took out a cloth package, whispering, "The tomb is too close to the Academy, so we had to be careful. The Old Brush Pen Shop was guarded and the yard wall had been pulled down months ago. Fortunately, that thing was just under the broken bricks, and nobody had found it. We made some efforts and finally brought in back."

He said like it was easy, but everyone knew how much it would take for men of the West-Hill Palace to sneak into Chang'an, and to smuggle that thing out of the Old Brush Pen Shop.

The girl in white took over the package. Her hand went downward a little because of the heaviness. She said nothing to all the other companions, and signaled all subordinates to get out of the black curtain. Then she walked towards the absentminded man, and said, "Let's get started."

The asked with confusion, "What are we starting?"

One of the two girls in white answered, "On what you're good at. Don't tell me you cannot do it. We have every ingredient you need here, including the pot and the cookstove."

Till then the middle-aged man had known what they wanted him to do. Then, he felt more confused and shocked. He had traveled a thousand miles, and was that really what they dragged him here for?

The situation here was too weird, but he wouldn't dare to say anything because he was in the territory of the Divine Temple, and he had to be obidient because of the situation.

With honesty and sincerity, he took out the cookers and ingredients out of the carriage, and started to work.

The West-Hill Palace hadn't missed a single item. All he had been using for the past ten years was here, including the cookers, the stove, the flour, the seasonings, and even the firewood.

Smoke rose around the old cookstove as the firewood was lit up. The flour turned from sticky to firm again and again. It was not the right dough for either steamed buns or common noddles. The kitchen knife fell on the slightly messy board, chopping green onions and coriander into pieces. Then ingredients like sauce and vinegar were poured into the bowl.

The girl in white said, "There shall be no mistakes, for either the ingredients or the procedure."

The middle-aged man thought to himself that it was impossible for him to made any mistakes, for he had cooked hundreds of bowls every morning for more than ten years, but that was only in his mind, and he didn't have the guts to say it out loud.

When the water in the pot had finally boiled, he tore the dough in the basin into casual shapes, and threw them into the boiled water piece by piece. Those pieces quickly came into form, diving and floating.

He stirred the pot with a smokey-handled spoon. The spoon was full of cooked flour pieces when it was brought out. The pieces were white and chewy like fish fat. The pot was empty without a single piece left, and in the spoon was the proper amount of soup, which was the skill gained from decades of repetition.

The soup and the flour were then poured into a large bowl. Thick scent of sour and spicy flavor rose in the square facing the Divine Hall of Light. Then, the fragrance of chopped coriander and green onion greeted everyone.

The two girls were fully concentrated and expressionless. One of them had the large bowl in her hands, and the other one was holding the cloth package. Then, they turned away and headed to the Divine Hall.

The middle-aged man said subconsciously, "One bowl may not be enough for you two. The girl in the Old Brush Pen Shop, she was so thin, but she always ate one bowl and took two away."

The two girls in white ignored him, and walked into the Divine Temple.

The middle-aged man was standing on the empty square at a loss. He watched the boiling water in the pot, and held the spoon in his hand, feeling so nervous standing before the solemn palace.

It hadn't been long before one of the girls in white came out of the Divine Hall of Light. She handled several things to the middle-aged man and said, "Someone will send you back to Chang'an."

She went back to the Divine Hall of Light after finishing that, and never came back out.

The middle-aged man was stunned for a long time. Then, he noticed the things in his hands were a perfect luminescent pearl, and a Dan Medicine pill giving out light exotic fragrance!

He might be ordinary, but he could still feel how extraordinary the two things were. He grew terrified because as much as he prided himself for his own cooking skills, he never felt they would be worth so much.

The nobles in the West-Hill Palace dragged him a thousand miles from Chang'an City to Peach Mountain, and gave him a luminous pearl for just a bowl of cheap food?

Were the hot and sour sliced noodles really that delicious?

As the black curtain was removed, the horse carriage rolled down Peach Mountain. In rising dust and smoke, it drove back into the mortal world.

Ning Que was holding a bag of rice in one hand, frowning slightly at the horse carriage. He didn't know that the carriage was from Chang'an, and just like other people in the Divine Hall, he had lots of questions about it.

He turned around and walked back to the Revelation Institute through the side door, and didn't take another glance at the palaces on the mountains. He wasn't been cautious; he didn't take a second glance because the more the looked, the harder he felt to suppress his desire.

She and the little silly horse he had been looking for were there, as well many risks. So he wouldn't step any closer to the Divine Palace before he was fully prepared. He left Chang'an, coming to this place with the courage to die, and he didn't want to die meaninglessly.

The Revalation Institute was silent. He walked back to his own room, and prepared for dinner. He stared at the rice bag but in his mind, he was thinking about noodles, a bowl of noodles with fried eggs.

He stood before the hearth for a long time, silent. Then, he started to chop green onions and took eggs stored in the rice bags; he bought those eggs in the town at the foot of the mountain. He fried the eggs and cooked a bowl of noodles.

A bowl of noodles with fried eggs in clear soup, with three peppers, and thirty more pieces of chopped onions.

He held the bowl and walked into the depths of the book hall. That was the back of Peach Mountain, with fog, clouds, and cliffs. There he thought about the City of Wei and started eating noodles.

He finished it fast, and finally drank up the soup.

He hadn't cooked for many years but he still remembered how to cook well. The noodles were delicious, but he wasn't enjoying them because she wasn't the cook.

He stood there for a long time, until the night fell and the moon rose.

The beautiful moon in the night sky had grown back to its full size. He was still worried because he wasn't sure if it would wax and wane again tomorrow night.

He was worried about other things, or to be specific, he was fearful of them.

"Aren't you omniscient and omnipotent? Why aren't you aware that I am here? Why... why can't I feel where you are? Are you no longer my natal artifact? Or have you died once, and are no longer who you used to be?"

He thought of this silently as he looked at the palace at the peak, from which no light was leaking out.

Behind the Divine Temple was the precipice, and at the downside of the precipice was the legendary You Prison. Fog and clouds grew thicker at night; an evil and cold aura was overflowing.

She put her hands at her back, standing between the stone pillars before the precipice. She looked at the moon in the night sky without any expression, and the moon cast the lonely shadow of her tall and chubby figure wrapped in black cloth on the ground.

The moon waned for ten days and waxed. She was getting paler and paler, not because of her solemnity, but because of her weakness.

Behind her there were hundreds of wine jars, and a bowl of hot and sour sliced noodles which she had taken barely one bite. Beside the bowl there was a cube, its covering cloth had been lifted up, revealing the corner of a golden brick and some crumbs.

The wine was Nine-river double-disdistilled wine; the hot and sour sliced noodles were from Chang'an. The golden brick had been hidden in the wall of the Old Pen Brush all these years. These were all her most reluctant memories, and she had to take them back.

Or, that was it.