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    Chapter 155: Master, Are You Surprised?

    The wedding of the Confucian Wind Sect's young master was drawing near, but suddenly, a rumor started to spread among the guests from various sects.

    "Mr. Zhang, I recently learned something that initially sounded absurd but, upon reflection, seems highly likely to be true. Would you like to hear it?"

    "I have a secret too, regarding the Confucian Wind Sect, and it's equally astonishing. Could it be the same matter you're referring to?"

    The other person raised an eyebrow suggestively, implying, "Does Mr. Zhang's secret involve only two individuals?"

    "That's correct."

    Exchanging meaningful glances, one of them whispered, "Let me start then. I've heard that Ye Wangxi of the Confucian Wind Sect is involved with... "

    Upon hearing this, the other person couldn't contain himself, laughing out loud, abandoning all pretense of gentlemanly composure. He slapped his thigh excitedly, his eyes shining with gossip, exclaiming, "Yes, yes, yes! Haha, it's hilarious! It's exactly that! Ye Wangxi of the Confucian Wind Sect is entangled with Song Qiutong!"

    "Indeed, good news never travels far while bad news spreads like wildfire. I didn't expect even someone as indifferent to gossip as you to know about it. However, discussing this should be done in hushed tones. We're in Lin Yi, where we might run into someone from the Confucian Wind Sect at any moment. Walls have ears, after all."

    Whether walls truly had ears or not was debatable, but the power of three whispers turning into a roar was undeniable. Like a soaked cotton ball expanding, the story grew, even without a single eyewitness. The details became more vivid and intriguing with each retelling...

    In the end, even the common folk in the villages outside Lin Yi City, who didn't practice cultivation, were aware of the gossip. The news spread through the fields and farms.

    "Brother Dog Egg, I'll tell you a secret, but you can't tell anyone, okay?"

    "What secret? Come on, tell me. You know I can keep a secret."

    "Well, listen closely. There's a scandal rocking the Confucian Wind Sect. You know Song Qiutong, the woman who's about to marry Nan Gongsi? She's quite the little harlot, Brother Dog Egg. You see, she's been secretly involved with Ye Wangxi behind her fiancé's back!"

    "How could that be possible?!"

    "Why not? Didn't you know that when Song Qiutong was up for auction in the Xuan Yuan Clan, it was Ye Wangxi who found her attractive and bought her for the purpose of dual cultivation?"

    Li Dog Egg was utterly stunned, his mouth agape. It took him a while to stutter, "Heavens... How can such a thing happen..."

    Li Dog Egg's worldview was turned upside down. That night, while cuddling with his wife as they fell asleep, he sighed, "Chunhua, you're still the best."

    Peasant woman Zhao Chunhua blinked, confused. "What's gotten into you all of a sudden?"

    "You see, even though you're a bit plain, a bit plump, and a bit short, you're hardworking and fertile. Unlike some women who cheat on their husbands behind their backs, breaking the code of conduct for married women."

    Zhao Chunhua huffed in indignation. "Where am I ugly? Isn't it just that my complexion is a bit sallow?" Then, curiosity piqued, she asked, "Which wife is stepping out on her husband? How come I don't know about this?"

    "Not someone from our village, but those daoist nuns and priests who fly around on swords all day long," Li Goudan replied.

    Zhao Chunhua was astonished. "Who is it?"

    Li Goudan said, "Whichever one recently had a grand wedding, that's who."

    Zhao Chunhua instinctively didn't consider Nan Gongsi as a possibility. It took her a moment to realize the implication before she abruptly sat up straight in bed, exclaiming, "Heavens, how scandalous! Such a thing can happen? You're not spreading rumors, are you?"

    "How could I possibly speak without basis?" Li Goudan puffed out his chest, determined to gain his wife's trust as he declared earnestly, "A friend of mine witnessed it with his own eyes—the affair between Ye Wangxi of the Confucian Wind Sect and Song Qiutong! Those two have been secretly intimate behind Nan Gongsi's back for a long time!"

    Romantic scandals, often some of the swiftest flyers in the world, are eagerly embraced as conversation pieces by both the impoverished and the affluent, the cultivators and the non-cultivators alike. In the blink of an eye, the guests gathered at the Confucian Wind Sect had learned, to varying degrees, of this disgrace. By the time it reached Chu Wanning's ears, the tale had grown wings of luxury, with details so vivid that they recounted precisely when Ye Wangxi had secretly met Song Qiutong on a certain year, month, and day. It was further alleged that Song Qiutong's marriage to Nan Gongsi at this time was due to her carrying Ye Wangxi's child. However, Ye Wangxi, portrayed as heartless and unrighteous, refused to acknowledge the mother and child for the sake of his own future.

    "Wait and see, I bet that child will resemble either Nan Gongsi or Ye Wangxi when they're born!"

    Chu Wanning was familiar with Nan Gongsi, but not Ye Wangxi and Song Qiutong. Thus, he couldn't be sure if the rumors were true or false, which only fueled his irritation. However, someone like him, although adept at dealing with straightforward malevolence, found himself at a loss when faced with this ambiguous situation involving delicate matters of the heart. He was unsure how to proceed.

    On this day, Nan Gongsi visited Chu Wanning at his retreat. Chu Wanning subtly reprimanded him, but Nan Gongsi failed to grasp the underlying message and continued to joyfully share with Grandmaster Chu the amusing tales of raising his demonic wolf, Nuobaijin.

    "Recently, we paired it with a female werewolf, and the process went smoothly. Next month, she should be giving birth. I wonder how many pups will come into this world," Nan Gongsi chuckled. "If any of them turn out to have exceptional traits, I'll ask Father to send one up to the Peak of Life and Death."

    Upon hearing this, Chu Wanning saw an opportunity and said, "Hmm, but I'm worried that the pup's bloodline might not be pure."

    "How could it not be pure? Both the Naobaijin and the female werewolf are from the Snow Wolf Clan, so they're very pure."

    "Are you sure that the female werewolf didn't mate with another before?"

    Nan Gongsi was taken aback. "How could she? She's been raised in the Green Pond Manor, and there's only one of her there. She wouldn't have had the chance to mate with anyone else; it all depended on our Naobaijin."

    Chu Wanning felt that his hint was already quite blatant and straightforward. He compared people to wolves, implying that Nan Gongsi should pay attention to the rumors. Why couldn't Nan Gongsi understand?

    After some thought, Chu Wanning realized he might not have made himself clear enough. He pondered for a moment and added, "Although there's only one werewolf in the Green Pond Manor, it had to stay at the Confucian Wind Sect for mating with Naobaijin, right? With all the werewolves you've raised, do you think...?"

    "It won't happen, it won't happen!" Nan Gongsi laughed heartily. "Grandmaster was worried about this? The female werewolf and Naobaijin were caged together, in the same enclosure. Other werewolves wouldn't have had the chance."

    "............"

    You're hopeless, aren't you?!

    Nan Gongsi seemed oblivious to Chu Wanning's gloom. Rising from his seat, he invited Chu Wanning, "Grandmaster, when you left, the Howling Moon Arena wasn't finished yet. It's been expanded twice since then. Let me take you there and let you ride the Nao Baijin stallion."

    Chu Wanning replied, "I'm not going."

    Nan Gongsi appeared somewhat disappointed. "Why?"

    "I can only ride horses," Chu Wanning said. "You're about to be a husband soon. Don't be too playful. You're either raising wolf pups or messing around at the arena. You should spend more time with Miss Song. Be it humans or animals, if you don't accompany them, your relationship will become distant."

    "I don't think so. Qiutong treats me very well and is very obedient."

    "..."

    "If Grandmaster thinks I've neglected her, I can invite her along as well. I often talk about you to her, so she should be eager to meet you too."

    Upon hearing this, Chu Wanning thought that he didn't know much about Song Qiutong. He wasn't sure how much of the rumors were true. Before Nan Gongsi's wedding, getting to know this young couple better might not be a bad thing.

    So he nodded and stood up. "Sure, go find her then. I'll wait for you both at the Howling Moon Arena."

    Nan Gongsi left, and just as he stepped out of the courtyard, he happened to bump into Mo Ran who had just returned. The two exchanged greetings in front of the screen wall. Mo Ran entered the courtyard and saw Chu Wanning standing under an osmanthus tree. In front of him, a small clay stove was emitting steam, while two half-finished cups of eight-treasure tea sat on the stone table.

    "Master, Nan Gongsi is looking for you?"

    "Indeed. He wants me to see the demonic wolf he's been raising at the Howling Moon Training Field," Chu Wanning replied, turning to head back inside. "This attire isn't suitable for riding. I'll change into something more appropriate."

    Though Mo Ran knew of Chu Wanning's capabilities, he was still worried about leaving him alone. "I'll go with you, Master."

    Hearing this, Chu Wanning paused and glanced at him sidelong. "Do you know how to ride a wolf?"

    Mo Ran smiled, his dark eyes shining. "Of course. My horsemanship skills are excellent, so I can adapt easily. I'm skilled at riding anything, not just wolves."

    Chu Wanning was about to tease him when he suddenly found the phrase "skilled at riding anything" to be strangely alluring and ambiguous. Images from his dreams flashed before his eyes, reminding him of their positions in those dreams, Mo Ran's sweaty abdomen, and his own powerless submission as he lay on the bed at Mo Ran's mercy, as if he truly had become a plaything beneath him.

    Chu Wanning's face flushed red.

    He cursed softly, "Shameless!"

    It was unclear whether he was scolding Mo Ran or himself. Turning, he slammed the door shut, leaving the half-drawn curtains outside swaying gently, like the trembling heart of the person who had retreated inside.

    The Howling Moon Training Field was an endless expanse of grassland. In the cold winter, the grass and trees were withered, and a thin layer of frost covered the yellowish-green fields. The sun hung indifferently in the sky, partially obscured by clouds, casting a chilly light that lacked vitality. In contrast, the dense private hunting forest belonging to the Confucian Wind Sect at the far end was lush and verdant, its pine and cypress trees brimming with vitality. From afar, the forest shimmered with a golden hue, like the soft downy feathers of a fledgling bird.

    Nan Gongsi stood before the wooden fence, engaged in conversation with Song Qiutong. Suddenly, he caught sight of two figures emerging from the mist—none other than Chu Wanning and Mo Ran. He was momentarily taken aback, then chuckled. "Grandmaster Mo, are you here because you don't trust me to take care of your Master?"

    "Not at all," Mo Ran replied with a smile. "I'm here in case something displeases my Master and he can't find anyone else to vent his anger on. I'm here to be the punching bag."

    "..." Chu Wanning shot him a glance, his tone icy. "I think you're here to be kindling for a fire."

    "Pff." Standing behind Nan Gongsi, Song Qiutong suppressed a giggle. She lifted her delicate, feathery lashes and gracefully walked out from behind her fiancé, a vision of beauty with her cloud-like hair and blossoming face.

    Looking at Mo Ran and Chu Wanning, she smiled softly and said, "I've heard so much about the deep bond between Grandmaster Chu and Grandmaster Mo as master and disciple. It seems it's true indeed."

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