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Chapter 196

The crowd was in an uproar, unsure if anyone recognized that the man on the ground, twitching uncontrollably, was none other than the renowned Elder Tian Xianzi of the Xuanxu Sword Sect.

The girl who initially received the two men was frightened to the point of turning pale and not daring to move.

Amidst the chaos, a woman in a red dress stepped forward. After roughly inquiring about the situation, she hesitantly said, “These two seem to be drunk and not in their right minds… Putting on a performance like this isn’t easy. Let’s do a good deed and let them stay for now.”

The scene cut off there.

He Zhizhou was almost ready to stuff his entire fist into his mouth, trembling for a long while before cautiously asking, “Does my handsome, noble, elegant, and proud Uncle Tian Xianzi, the number one in swordsmanship, know about this?”

Ning Ning shook her head, looking at him as if he were a dead man: “He hasn’t sobered up yet, so I don’t know if he will remember. You’re on your own.”

She paused, then added, “Not only that, you also took Miss Hongyu’s outer garment, disguised yourself as her, and hid in a guest’s bed.”

He Zhizhou: …

He Zhi Zhou: “Can you leave me alone for a moment? I need to save face.”


He Zhizhou suffered some psychological trauma. After crying and apologizing to the girls in Nuanyu Pavilion, he locked himself in the room and carefully thought about what expression he should use to face Uncle Tian Xianzi later.

Ning Ning sighed, patting his shoulder: “In such times, just smile.”

She stayed at the Nuanyu Pavilion to continue inquiring about Luan Niang. During the day, there weren’t many guests, so the girls had free time.

They found a room and started chatting again.

“As we mentioned, although Luan Niang had never attended school, she suddenly could read and write poems—and that wasn’t her only peculiarity!”

The cat-eyed girl, swinging her legs while sitting on a chair, said, “I’m a few years younger than her. When I came, I was too young to entertain guests, so I only had to learn etiquette. Thus, I had much more free time. I was often bored, so I would go and see what the other sisters were doing. Unexpectedly, I discovered a secret about her.”

Her mysterious tone piqued everyone’s curiosity, and even the other girls in the Nuanyu Pavilion urged her to continue.

The cat-eyed girl smiled and lowered her voice, “Luan Niang seemed to be communicating with someone.”


“Yes! She would call a carrier pigeon at night, attach a letter to it, and send it to someone.”

She chuckled, “One late night, I couldn’t sleep and was looking out the window, and I saw a carrier pigeon fly into her room. She looked so guilty, afraid of being seen by others.”

“So, Luan Niang already knew how to write back then.”

Ning Ning asked curiously, “Why not use a communication talisman?”

Another girl chuckled, “Ning Ning, using talismans requires spiritual energy, which we haven’t learned to use.”

“Have you heard a rumor in Luan City?”

Another girl spoke softly, “It’s said that if you use your soul as a wager and blood as a medium to make a wish to a Phoenix bird, the wish will come true—sacrificing souls aligns with the idea of ‘Taoist priests unable to summon souls,’ doesn’t it?”

Ning Ning had never heard such a rumor.

In her mind, phoenix birds symbolized blessings and had nothing to do with cruel sacrifices. Besides, if everyone’s wishes could be granted this way, it would be too easy.

“The City Lord once had a wife.”

The cat-eyed girl continued, seeing Ning Ning’s skepticism: “You wouldn’t believe it, but Luan Niang’s change in personality, being caught by me sending messages at night, and the previous City Lord’s wife’s sudden illness—all happened at the same time.”

Ning Ning was stunned, hearing her speak with a serious tone: “She must have been influenced by the person she was communicating with. First, they caused the real City Lord’s wife’s death, then slowly turned Luan Niang into the City Lord’s ideal woman, setting a trap to approach him—doesn’t it seem seamless?”

This made the identity of the person she was corresponding with the biggest mystery in the whole case. What was his purpose in helping Luan Niang? Were the later disappearances of girls also their doing?

Ning Ning couldn’t figure it out and decided to focus on Luan Niang’s clues: “You mentioned her ‘change in personality,’ what did you mean?”

“Well, she grew up at the brothel as an ordinary courtesan, welcoming guests and saying what people wanted to hear—like all of us, just trying to survive.”

The cat-eyed girl said, “But one day, she suddenly seemed different. I can’t say how, just felt like a different person, often standing aside with a gloomy expression.”

“Yes, yes! She seemed to become aloof and distant out of nowhere.”

A braided girl lying on the table said, “Luan Niang was just like us, but after she started approaching the City Lord, she stopped smiling and talking, just giving a distant smile. After meeting a few times, she completely captivated the City Lord.”

Her summary was apt, making several girls nod in agreement.

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