Apparently, Deity also knows that Wang Yun is immune to his smiles and cheery voice, so he arranged a moonlight date to charm our heroine. Luckily for him, Wang Yun brought her own food to the party, else I can’t imagine how she would be impressed with his version of dinner - which consisted of healthy food that she doesn’t like.
The obsession with white or coloured hankies came up for the last time, and we find out why the writer is forever writing about them. There is actually a reason for using Kleenex over Scott? Read on to find out.
Chapter 6 Part 1 of 2
She has been conned! From what she can see in the last six months, Cloud Manor is definitely not what it appears to be.
As she strolled across the bridge, Little Brother Jiang will blow out the lights behind them until the entire bridge is engulfed in darkness.
A normal person would not take an unlit path and the people of Cloud Manor have used this psychology to find their quiet moments among the bevy of visitors. Just last month, she was forced to witness this first-hand when Gong Sun Zhi got the kitchen to prepare a herbal feast and invited all the Gentlemen (including her) to dine at Double Cloud Pavilion by employing this tactic to keep out uninvited guests.
“Big… Big Sister. I will make a move first.” Little Brother Jiang was red-faced and grabbing a lantern from a concealed cupboard at the end of the bridge, he headed back the now-darken path. As she strolled to Double Cloud Pavilion, she found her host, who has fallen asleep while waiting for her.
He looked very good in white with his hand supporting his forehead as if taking a short nap. His long hair has unbound behind his back and when the wind gently blew on it, the image is rather surreal. When still, he did resemble a deity. What a pity...
He opened his eyes and smiled when he saw her. “You are finally here.”
“You could eat first if you are hungry.”
His smile widened and he looked rather adorable. So adorable in fact, she could see his tiger tooth. Did she see wrongly? Deities are not supposed to have dimples or cute canines right?
“Why is Wu Bo so formal with me when we are family? Quick, bring out the stuff.”
She reminded herself that she is now staying under his roof. Taking a deep breath, she took out a small bamboo basket. “Here is the soy-sauce fried chicken. Remember to get rid of the evidence after you eat.” She did not want to ask how he could guess her every move.
He cut up the chicken with a small knife and gave her half: “Did you hear anything interesting at the restaurant today?”
“Nothing much of interest.”
“The restaurant is a place rife with idle talk. But with Gu Shao De and the disciple from Huang family, they would have likely talk about more serious matters?”
She gave the matter some thought. “Well, they mentioned the possibility of Hai Tang Fairy marrying Tu San Long.”
“I was about to bring this up to you as well. The Dengs are keen to form an alliance with Tu San Long and the wedding will definitely take place. Cloud Manor will be there at their wedding and if you are feeling better by then, do attend the wedding as well.”
“Gentleman, although the flowers have fallen for the river, the river does not feel the same and flows mercilessly on…”
He gave her a meaningful look and did not reply. She took another deep breath.
“Xian Yun, although the flowers have fallen for the river, the river does not feel the same and flows mercilessly on. For all that is said and done, Hai Tang Fairy is the No. 1 beauty of the pugilist world, do you really have no feelings for her?”
At her change of address, he smiled and answered. “According to your logic, does it mean I would have lost my head every time I see a beautiful woman?”
“True, what you say is correct as well. Virtue is more important than looks when deciding which woman to marry. Whoever Xian Yun marries in future must be a woman peerless in virtue, even if she is ugly.”
He only looked on with his warm smile. His smile made his features came alive and it was as if his eyes and brows has been tainted with the colours of spring. But like him, she can also be unaffected by beauty, even when he is pretending to be Luo Shen.
Besides, his spring-like warmth brought back memories of the time she was injured and bedridden. She has willed herself to walk within two months and although Gong Sun Zhi was against her trying to walk originally, he relented when Gong Sun Yun offered to help.
At the beginning, she would break out in cold sweat even with the simple act of getting out from bed and walking a few steps with Gong Sun Yun supporting her. He did not stop her and let her walk to her heart’s content. It was only when she could not move a muscle the next day that she found that her mental readiness was way ahead of her body. Try as she might, her body refused to cooperate and she could only lay prone and stare at the ceiling of her bed.
Looking at her, he morphed into Luo Shen again as gave her a charming smile. “Wu Bo, if you cannot walk, I can piggy back you. That way, you could tell yourself that you have walked for today.”
Since that incident, she became more conscious and would not force herself to continue when she became tired. After some time, she could even walk unassisted while he merely sat in the courtyard, wearing a smile like spring when it was already autumn.
He even has the gall to suggest. “Why not we do this. Woman likes pretty things so I will sit here and provide you with some eye-candy as incentive. Once you have reached my side, you could take a rest.”
The first time she heard this, she thought some alien has swapped his body. But as she heard more and more of such banter, she soon got used to it. Everyone would have a side unknown to others. A person who looks righteous and just, can also be a psycho rapist. Gong Sun Yun may be like a basin of cold water in public, but in private, he smiles a lot. Furthermore, his smiles are always hearty and sincere, which is something she admires.
He seemed to have seen through her thoughts and smiled. “Has Wu Bo ever considered that if one has to wear a mask even in front of his family, what kind of sad existance would that be?”
“What Xian Yun said is correct.” It is a pity she has no family and could not verify his statement.
They ate their meal in silence. Unlike last time, she did not think of anything else and simply focused on eating. Recently, she found that such simple moments seemed to be occurring more and more often. Although she did not know if it was good or bad, she has allowed herself to relax her guard.
Other than the fried chicken, the rest of the food was rather bland and the wine flask contained nutritional tea instead of wine. In truth, she would rather someone kill her with a knife then live such a painfully, healthy, lifestyle. Why would one want to live so long? To witness history?
She sighed when she was forced to take a cup of tea. Unobtrusively, she moved the healthier dishes to the person seating opposite her, while she devoured her soy sauce fried chicken. The mouth-watering scent, the crispy skin - they made her feel much better!
He noted her choice of food and poured her another cup of nutritional tea. “Regardless of what it is, things are only good when it is taken in moderation.”
Her reply was smooth. “My body is weak so I need to fatten myself.”
Resigned, he helped her polish off the herbal dishes, and at the end of the meal, she presented her plate of chicken bones respectfully to him. He walked to the railing and using his internal energy, he shattered the bones into dust before he tipped the plate over and emptied its contents into the lake.
Cool! She found herself becoming more and more in awe of him. With him around, she could happy sneak around, without fear of being caught.
He took out a white handkerchief and cleaned his hands thoroughly. When he saw her took out the same type of handkerchief, he smiled “I thought you only use colored handkerchiefs?”
She answered frankly: “Since I am no longer a Wave on the River, it is only appropriate that I follow the rest of the people in Cloud Manor in using white handkerchiefs.”
“Based on your habits, there is nothing that can be retained for long. Is that your way of survival?” His lips were smiling but his eyes were full of compassion
She turned to admire the lake in the darkness and pretended that she saw nothing.
“Wu Bo, don’t you find it unusual that a lot of people uses white handkerchiefs, be it me, Cloud Manor disciples, or even other pugilists?”
He likes to engage in idle chat with her and in truth she has grown to like their casual talk. She thought about what he said: “I thought that that is the preference of the people in Central Plains.”
He was all smiles. “Truth be told, I met my savior when I was twenty. She gave me a plain white handkerchief as a token although I could tell she did so unwillingly. When I returned home, I made everyone changed to using white handkerchiefs. Over time, other pugilist took the cue from us and also started using white handkerchiefs”
He waved his snowy white handkerchief to emphasize his story. The gesture was so elegant, it was little wonder everyone switched to white handkerchiefs in order to emulate him.
She took a deep breath: “So you have already seen through your savior’s intentions. When even Che Yan Yan starts using white handkerchiefs, a person who uses a brightly-colored handkerchief would become highly suspect, will it not?
She has obviously fallen into her own trap! Seeing that he only smiled, she rubbed her nose and decided not to press further. Turning around, she admired the moon with him.
Today was not yet the fifteenth and the moonlight fell evenly on the ground. In the distant, the manor was ablaze with lights. She could almost envision the other Cloud Manor disciples busy entertaining at the front halls, while she soak in the peace at this darken corner.
He said tenderly. “Night has fallen and you could catch a cold. Let me accompany you back to your room.”
Actually, she was contented to admire the moon till morning but she only replied: “I can go back by myself.”
“That will not do. You have not fully recovered. If you meet a young pugilist who wants to profess his love for you, you will not be able to turn him down even if you want to. It is better that I send you back.”
She nearly fell over the railing and into the lake. Excuse me, she has never encountered a young pugilist who wanted to profess his love to her, ok?
He continued. “He Zai’s skills are good; top notch even. Although his martial arts are taught by you and although achievements vary from person to person, your kungfu should still have been better then when you were fourteen. How come your kungfu... is really too weak for words?”
In her heart, she was laughing. You thought I am a kungfu master, don’t you Gong Sun Yun? But who knows I would end up in such sorry state when I fell off a cliff? But since he has seen through her, she decided to be frank. “During the winter of my fourteenth birthday, I fell into Sect Leader’s trap which limited my progress in martial arts. As a result, I did not spend too much effort developing my skills after that but luckily there was He Zai by then. My surname is originally Wang but I followed my father when he changed his surname to Huang Fu. Although He Zai’s surname is not Wang, he is the better student compared to me, and he mastered all the Wang family skills I imparted him.”
Her tone was very calm when she mentioned He Zai. From the corner of her eye, she saw his sleeve moved, but she cannot be sure it the wind caused it to move, or if he was intending to give her a hug.
After a while, she heard him sigh. “Since you have nothing to do at Cloud Manor, you could use this time to brush up your skills.” His gazed across the dark waters. “In fact, we can start now.”
She got an ominous feeling. “May I ask, how do you intend to start?”
His smile was charming beneath the moonlight. “I am not a strict teacher so there is no need for you to be wary. Double Cloud Pavilion is not far from the shore, but there are no stepping points in between. Is your qinggong good enough to leap to the shore?”
She hesitated before giving a slow nod. “Should be possible.”
He smiled. “If you need help, I will be right at your side.”
Did he expect her to object when she was living under his roof? She took a moment to gathere her qi (internal energy) and leaped from the pavilion after him.
His white robes were flying and he looked like a beautiful illusion under the silver moonlight. She concluded that his fashion sense must be very good for this clothes to accentuate his calm air and seductive, no, warm smile. If his clothes made him look like a deity, would he still look like one if he was not wearing anything?
Distracted, she nearly fell into the lake if not for a helping hand that suddenly appeared from her left and propelled her safely to shore. Wasn’t he in front of her? How did he manage to appear beside her so fast? No wonder he has dared to venture down the cliff amidst all the falling rocks that day...
“It is nothing. I suddenly have a weak spell.” She lowered her head and noticed that his hand was still around her waist.
He withdrew his hand. “I beg your pardon. I had wanted to hold on to your shoulder, but your left hand is injured so I could only hold on to your...”
She lifted her face and found that he has averted his eyes. He looked really apologetic - if she could disregard his happy smile. Did he really take her for a fool, or as his family member, that he would make no attempt to hide his feelings in front of her?
Inwardly, she sigh and reminds herself that she is living under another’s roof. Besides, the sons and daughters of the pugilist world are not be encumbered by such small matters. Why, he has even carried her in his arms when she fainted at the foot of the cliff. This is but a small matter, small matter.
Halfway to her quarters, they were stopped by a disciple. “Gentleman, the Jade-face Scholar would like to see you.”
She was amused by the name “Jade-face Scholar? What an interesting title.”
“His is called Jade-face because he looks handsome.” was the off-handed reply. “Wu Bo, I will leave you to sleep early.”
She nodded and walked into her courtyard. When she turned, she saw that he has remained at the same spot, deep in thought. She shrugged and went to her room. Soon after, she could hear his footsteps leaving.
She opened her windows and let the night air blew over her face. She looked at the night and played with her belt that was so long, it nearly reached the floor. The tip of it was wet from her near brush in with the lake. She stared at it for a while before she noticed some new clothes folded on top of the dresser.
She walked over to examine the new clothes. The style was similar to the clothes she was wearing now with long belts, except that they were all white. Clever. He knew she was still scared and would insist on wearing long belts.
Her hands started to sweat just by the thoughts of that day. Had her belt not managed to catch onto some branches and broke her fall, she would have crashed to death. No matter how many things she can tolerate, she must wear a long belt with her dress. Isn’t there a saying that goes like, once bitten by a snake, one would be frightened by the sight of a rope for the next ten years. Did she use the phrase correctly?
This year’s winter is rather warm so her recuperation is little hardship, as she climbs happily to her bed. She likes this bed which makes her feel safe, unlike the past when she can only sleep soundly if He Zai is around. Her days now are so idyllic, she sometimes feel like that she is in a dream.
And when she wakes up, she will find that that she is actually lying at the foot of the cliff with her brain splattered all around her.
Those who have read this book may have noticed that my translation is slightly different from the original book. I meant it to be different because I hope my version would flow better, since I spent much more time polishing my text than translating it. The problem with the original book is that the middle wasn't as well written as the front and back so I have removed a lot of excess text and recrafted some of the paras in order to flash out the punch points. The context is still the same but some may find it unfamiliar because is too easy miss the key points when there are a lot of uneccessary text.]