Book 1: Winds Begin to Blow in Tai Yuan
Chapter 18 – Clear Water, Flying Sleeves
A warm and clean voice was heard, sounding a little detached. With the sound, a white streak swept forward like a ribbon and unfurled in mid-air. With a “shua” sound, it caught Meng Fuyao’s hand that was grasping at air instinctively when she realized she was falling.
Fuyao’s figure was immediately stopped in a dangerous, half fallen position, forming a 45 degree angle with the rocks underfoot. Not far underneath was a pool of clear water. Her long hair hung down onto the water surface, with some longer strands dancing in the current – it was an unstable, yet beautiful posture.
Because her sleeve was pulled tight, her clothes were stretched close to her body, revealing those perfectly exquisite hills and valleys. Under her willowy waist her robes scattered, fluttering like a dancing skirt. Even though she was wearing men’s clothes, they still couldn’t hide the natural charm of her figure.
The visions of the many people by the stream could not help but fix on her. There was a brief atmosphere of silence.
In the middle of Qi Xunyi’s contingent, a horse carriage’s curtains were suddenly lifted up a hair. With a veil covering her face, Pei Yuan gloomily watched the figure above the clear waters that could be considered a beauty with only a look. Her eyes exuded jealousy-induced malicious intent.
And in the first carriage, a pair of piercingly brilliant eyes turned, then let out a light “yi” sound.
However, Meng Fuyao herself did not realize that this one pull had displayed her figure. She hurriedly used the strap that was holding her up, and with a twist of her waist she stood up straight. Only then was she able to take a look at the good Samaritan who had helped her in time.
The afternoon autumn sun shone through the dark green shade. Beside the clear stream, slightly yellow strands of grass were covered by the scattered rays of sunlight, and became even more brilliantly golden in color. Atop the tips of the grass, a white robe spread. It was a warm but distant man, young, graceful, his lips and pupils slightly paler than most people. When he smiled, the autumn sun and golden wind suddenly seemed to transform into spring breezes and blooming cherry blossoms.
Because he had thrown out his waist strap with flying sleeves, his robes had scattered outward. Yet this didn’t give one a sense of inelegance or dishevelment; instead, it added to that originally present aura of remoteness, several degrees of natural serenity.
Meng Fuyao was shocked. She thought to herself, did she recently become blessed with peach blossom luck? Among the men she met, too many were outstandingly handsome. While thinking this, she offered the waist belt back to its owner.
Just when she wanted to say a few words of gratitude, unexpectedly the other side calmly smiled, then softly said, “The strap was already slightly dirty, this lady can feel free to throw it away.”
After saying he very politely nodded his head, then turned and left. He got onto a horse carriage behind Qi Xunyi’s, and then the carriage sped off to another side to stop and rest. This left Meng Fuyao dumbly standing on the rocks, clenching the waist strap with surprise.
The strap was clearly completely new and in good condition, so white that even tofu would die of shame, and he actually said it was dirty?
This person’s attitude was pretty strange. You couldn’t say he was lofty and condescending – his manners were impeccable, he was cultured and modest, and when he didn’t want the belt he gave the completely inoffensive excuse of self-respect. But you couldn’t say he was friendly – he clearly didn’t seem very amiable, even immediately abandoning the strap she had gripped like worthless scrap.
After Meng Fuyao stared for a half while, she hatefully used the waist strap to wipe her hands. That guy didn’t want it anyways!
Only after she wiped her hands and carefully inspected did she discover, the waist strap was actually made from fabric that weaved Heaven silkworm’s silk together with white gold strands; in the middle was a similar-colored mutton fat jade. The strap was expensive, yet unpretentious, just like the man.
After thinking a little, Meng Fuyao hid the waist strap in her robes.
Yuan Zhaoxu, previously always off to the side, now popped out of who-knows-where. With a strange gaze, he watched Meng Fuyao stuff that man’s personal belonging into her robes. After some time he said, “What are you doing keeping that thing?”
Fuyao replied like it was obvious. “This thing is worth a lot, if I keep it, if one day I need clothes or food, I can use it to trade for living expenses.”
Yuan Zhaoxu slightly wrinkled his brows, “That thing isn’t worth anything, don’t keep it. If you lack money I’ll give it to you.”
“Trying to trick me?” Meng Fuyao curled her mouth. “You think I can’t see the value of this jade? Also, this girl has a lot of backbone, I don’t accept charity.”
Zhaoxu cast a glance at her, then faintly grinned. “Yes, you don’t accept charity, you just pick up the junk other people don’t want.”
“You!” Meng Fuyao became gloomy, shifting her eyes to see Yuanbao poke its head out from Yuan Zhaoxu’s robes. Seeing Fuyao deflated and melancholy, it turned extremely happy, chattering with zhi zhi sounds non-stop. With indignation she used the “one finger flick”, flicking Yuanbao, who squeakily protested and opened its mouth wide to bite.
Meng Fuyao had long escaped while loudly laughing.
After running for a couple steps, past a curve was a patch of forest shade. Not far forwards was Qi Xunyi’s contingent. Meng Fuyao was just about to go back, when she heard someone say, “Hey, you.”
Turning her head to look, she saw the servant who had just pushed her and almost caused her to fall into the water. Seeing this person, she didn’t want to bother with him, but for some reason when this person saw Meng Fuyao his eyes suddenly lit up, and he beckoned. “Hey, you come here.”
Fuyao started, squinting her eyes to look at him. “Calling for me?”
“Yes, you.” The servant was not very polite. “Our master doesn’t have enough servants, you come here and give a hand.”
He saw Meng Fuyao with an expression of awkward indecisiveness, and patiently said, “We won’t make you work for nothing.” From his sleeve he palmed out a string of copper coins. Throwing it on the ground with a “pa la” sound, he arrogantly said, “Here, one hundred wen, enough for you to eat at Yanjing’s meat broth shop for half a month.”
Meng Fuyao lowered her head, looking at the copper money by her feet. After a while, she smiled and picked it up, even blowing some dust off of the coins.
The servant revealed a pleased expression, handing Meng Fuyao a copper basin and saying, “Go, go next to the stream to get some water, it needs to be upstream water. After carrying it over, go to sister Jin Yan by the second horse carriage and ask her for some rosewater and lotus cream. After exchanging for them bring them into the carriage, remember, don’t let your dirty hands touch the water! Alright that’s all, I’m going to help his highness change clothes.”
He shoved the copper basin to Meng Fuyao, a face of rejoice from finding a person to do his work for him. Fuyao could calculate with her fingers and she would still be able to guess that after Pei Yuan had her appearance ruined, her mood would be terrible. She already had a domineering attitude before, and those serving her would definitely suffer even more. Those who helped her run errands must be trying to escape whenever they could, otherwise why would they pay others to help?
The servant held out the basin. Seeing Meng Fuyao didn’t immediately grab it, he impatiently shook the copper basin, “Hey, you dumb?”
Fuyao’s eyebrows jumped. Looking at the copper basin, she suddenly smiled, then slowly went to scoop something out of her sleeve pockets.
The servant knitted his brows, shouting, “Moron —-”
Instantly his words stopped, and then his eyes opened big.
In front, in Meng Fuyao’s palm, was steadily held a piece of gold leaf, its quality extremely good, not underneath two liang in weight.
According to Tai Yuan’s currency system, one liang gold can be exchanged for twenty liang silver, and one liang silver can be exchanged for one thousand wencoins. One liang of gold, he could work at the Qi imperial palace for over three years, and still be unable to earn that much.
The servant exhaled a breath of shocked air, struck dumb.
Meng Fuyao shook the gold leaf in front of the servant, kindly smiling, “You recognize this?”
The servant fixedly stared at that piece of gold, his facial color turning green then white. Dazedly he said, “Its gold …”
Fuyao smirked, “Yep, this is two liang of gold, enough for you to go to Yanjing’s best Heavenly Fragrance Restaurant and spread a full course of swallow wings, and eat that shit for a month.”
With a laugh, her fingers loosened all of a sudden, and the gold leaf fell onto the ground.
Subconsciously the servant squatted down to pick it up. Fuyao’s boot shifted, stepping on the gold leaf.
Stooping down, Meng Fuyao pushed that copper basin to the servant who had dumbly lifted his head to look at her. “Sorry to bother you, go next to the stream to get some water, it needs to be upstream water. After carrying it over, go to sister Jin Yan by the second horse carriage and ask her for some rosewater and lotus cream. After exchanging for them bring them to me, remember, don’t let your dirty hands touch the water! Alright that’s all, go on.”
She edged the copper basin closer to the blackened face of the servant, shook it in the exact same motion, then lightly smiled, “Hey, you dumb?”
The tip of her foot slightly lifted. That piece of gold leaf glittered in the dusty soil, tempting a gaze of avarice.
The hand of the servant shook, and clenching his teeth, he suddenly took the copper basin and with large leaps sprinted towards the stream.
Fuyao stood in the same spot, silently lifting her eyebrow. After a while she whispered, “Pity …”
The tip of her foot flicked, and the gold leaf flew up and landed in her palm. Unhurriedly putting the gold leaf in her bosom, Meng Fuyao slightly shook her head. “If you had some backbone to refuse me, I might really give this gold leaf to you, but now … you’re not worthy.”
She moved her fingertip in a circle. The string of copper coins hooked on the finger, that was enough for her to eat at Yanjing’s meat broth shop for half a month, was shook flying, with a “pa” sound falling to where the gold leaf had just fallen on the ground.
“I’ll return this to you, you can go eat meat broth yourself. Also forgot to tell you, Yanjing’s meat broth shop is so cheap since reportedly they use rat meat.”
With a “haha” laugh, Meng Fuyao turned her body to leave, her nimble steps quickly vanishing into a patch of shady forest, like a refreshing breeze gusting past in an instant.
At the place where her figure disappeared, the trees and grass became still. Silence surrounded the area.
After a long while, behind some trees appeared a faint shadow out of the darkness. The person’s white clothes were immaculate, his pale lips like cherry blossoms.
He clasped his hands while staring towards Fuyao’s direction, his calm expression containing a small trace of interest. Suddenly, he softly said, “Sorry for bothering you.”
The words were said absentmindedly, but immediately someone responded.
“For young master’s orders, I would not shrink from a thousand deaths, let alone a little bother.”
That person had a lowered head and stooped body, a copper basin shining at his feet. It was actually that snobbish servant from just before.
Only, him right now had a reserved expression, his attitude tranquil, without any trace of that vulgar and haughty behavior from before.
The white-clothed man was silent for a while, then said, “So?”
The person thought a little and said, “Young master, when I pushed her down the stream back then, did your flying sleeve pull not detect anything?”
“I did.” The white-clothed man tilted his head upward, a pondering expression on his face, saying, “The angle and power of the wounds on Pei Yuan’s face, whoever made them, their martial techniques are definitely abnormal. Even though this girl hid it well, in that one pull, I still could sense some of it.”
“Although,” He indifferently smiled, “in the tests just now, I have finally determined she is not one of Qi Xunyi’s people.”
“Qi Xunyi’s subordinates, are they worthy of such a character?” The white-clothed man leisurely sighed, his voice long, containing some laughter.
“She is a good person …”
1. “Yi” 咦 is a sound of shock or surprise
2. Peach blossom luck, “桃花运”, means someone is lucky in their encounters with the opposite sex
3. Nephrite: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephrite
4. Chinese coins have square holes in them, which allows for easy carrying by stringing them in a line. Picture:
5. wen, “文”, is an ancient Chinese unit of currency.
6. liang, “两”, is a unit of weight equal to about 50 grams