Book 2: The Infinite Heart
Chapter 5 – Vividly Beautiful
The voice was low and elegant, containing a never-changing smile.
Meng Fuyao started. The hand grabbing the bamboo railing couldn’t control itself, and with a “pa” sound the railing broke.
She raised her head. Above her, the drapes were lifted up by a maidservant. The hands of the person inside the pavilion were pressing against the zither strings, looking at her with a shallow smile. Dark hair scattered in the wind along with his lilac robes. Graceful like moonlit still water, ethereal like lofty flowing clouds, boundless splendor, unmatched in the world.
Sure enough it was a beauty, a male beauty.
The beauty pushed the zither forward and stood up. Softly stepping over on the pavilion surface, he slightly leaned his body downwards. That face that could cause one’s heart to beat even faster and one’s breathing to stricken upon close inspection, slowly drew closer. It was so close that it almost touched Fuyao’s striped cat-like face, the long eyelashes practically brushing against her. That clear, delicate orchid pine-like fragrance swept over with the chilly lake wind.
Meng Fuyao was about to ripple and sway like the lake water. She muttered, “Isn’t every time because of you …”
The sound of her voice had not yet fallen, before she awkwardly sneezed, inelegantly ruining the beautiful atmosphere.
Yuan Zhaoxu faintly smiled, stretching out his white slender hand to Meng Fuyao.
Fuyao’s eyes landed on his palm. The skin was glossy while the palm lines were distinct. Hey, the wisdom line was straight and long, peerless intelligence … the affection line was pretty deep, just a little entangled up … how many marriage lines? One …
Her thoughts blindly ran in random directions, in a manner unbefitting of the current situation. The person above her head suddenly laughed, and with a light pull of his fingers Meng Fuyao used the force to fly up. In mid-air she drew out a dai-colored arc as she landed in the middle of the pavilion. The direction she landed in was directly facing towards the back of the drapes. With a turn of her gaze, she noticed that slingshot beneath a certain rat-faced scoundrel, and she immediately found the true culprit.
When the true culprit noticed she had crawled up, it moved its legs to escape. Fuyao leaped over like a wolf, viciously grabbing it, and not caring for that guy’s struggles she ruthlessly rubbed her face on its body’s downy fur. As she rubbed she cried out, “Ai ya Yuanbao, ai ya baobao, ai ya my Master Yuanbao, I’ve missed you to death …”
The pitiful Master Yuanbao desperately thrashed, yet was still unable to escape her evil clutches. As it struggled it miserably turned its head to look for Yuan Zhaoxu to save it, however brother Yuan only folded his hands and stood to the side watching – wearing the same attitude as when he watched Meng Fuyao fall into the water just then.
By the time Fuyao had finished expressing her love, infatuation, admiration, and wistfulness for Yuanbao, the originally noble-blooded, snow white Divine Enigma Rat Master Yuanbao had already become a yellow and white-patched suspiciously hamster-like damp rodent – Meng Fuyao had already rubbed her dirty face clean on its body.
Only then did Meng Fuyao smile and release the fat rodent, conveniently moving her foot to crush that preposterous slingshot into pieces.
Master Yuanbao sprinted to a bright pearl at the corner of the pavilion to view its own appearance, after which it let out a piercing whine that was tragic beyond mortal compare.
From the water surface splattered out small ripples.
The Master Yuanbao that forced others to drop into the water, had now jumped into the water to bathe on its own ———-
After getting her revenge on Master Yuanbao, Meng Fuyao turned around. The Yuan Zhaoxu who was leaning against the pavilion grinned as he watched her. Suddenly he waved his hand, and a lilac-colored outer robe gently draped down like a cloud, tightly wrapping around Fuyao.
Then he clapped his hands, and immediately a couple maids gracefully walked over. One carried over an exquisite little furnace, then used weight stones to press down on another heavy layered curtain behind the pavilion drapes. The four directions were covered by the curtain, and the inside of the pavilion was instantly warm like spring. Another maid delivered over a bundle of clean clothes. Yuan Zhaoxu personally received it and put it on top of a small table, flipping through the clothes to look at something. Only then did he give it to Meng Fuyao. Fuyao happily said, “It’s rare for you to be so considerate.” Just when she was about to enter to change her clothes, she suddenly heard him say, “Do you mind changing together?”
“What!” Meng Fuyao twirled around in shock about to vehemently deny this perverse request, but she saw that Yuan Zhaoxu’s fingers were extended towards the water surface. Soon a certain drenched fat rat crawled up on his fingers, also sneezing with a-choo a-choo sounds.
Fuyao was so angered by that intentionally insinuating fellow that her face darkened; yet when she saw the bedraggled state that Yuanbao was in, she turned cheerful again. That Master’s miserable appearance was completely unlike its usual beauty – white fur was stuck together in clumps, sodden with dripping water. On its stomach its skin was a patch of pink. Fuyao reached out a finger and flicked, while Master Yuanbao opened its mouth wide to bite. With a loud laugh, Fuyao grabbed Master Yuanbao into her grasp and ran into the curtains.
The Yuan Zhaoxu left behind faintly smiled as he reclined on the pavilion railings, listening to the natural-born pair of foes, one human one rat, unceasingly squabble at each other.
“Hey, was the bath refreshing?”
“What, can’t you talk in human speech?”
“Oh, I forgot you’re a rat-faced scoundrel, you can’t speak human, sorry sorry …”
Yuan Zhaoxu slightly tilted his head to listen. In his eyes gradually surfaced a humorous shine. Compared with his usual ethereal, capricious smile, at this moment his expression was genuine and warm.
He smiled as he looked at the curtains – the firelight from the stove was faint red, shining a shadow onto the bright yellow curtains. A graceful neck, slender arms like delicate jade bamboo; reaching the waist was a shocking convergence, flowing and beautiful; and going down further, was a breathtaking curve that rose and fell like an upside-down pipa; all were absolutely perfect creations.
In the winter the pavilion was warmed by the fire, yet its golden curtains shone out with spring. A certain person was unaware that she had already been completely seen. With an abrupt turn of the body, the gracefully firm chest traced out a heart-stirring arc, making one feel hard-pressed to imagine that a person’s figure could grow to be this kind of perfection; not a sliver more in the slender portions, while not a degree less in the full portions.
Yuan Zhaoxu, however, had already slowly turned his gaze away, looking towards the depths of the lake. With a sudden chuckle he said, “Does the moxiong fit?”
The shadow on the curtains jumped up in panic. She comically rushed around in circles, most likely trying to find where Yuan Zhaoxu was peeking in from – he even knew that she was trying on the moxiong! After going around in a circle she discovered that the curtains were tightly woven and the gaps closed. Only then did she manage to figure out a general idea of how she was seen, and hurriedly extinguished the charcoal fire in the stove.
With the disappearance of the firelight, the curtains dimmed, and the vividly beautiful feminine figure was no longer able to be seen. However, Yuan Zhaoxu was still lightly smiling … that charcoal fire was not an ordinary heating fire. It used charcoal formed from the iron trees on top of the snowy mountains of Heaven’s Court, and the flame that rose from it could condense qi and strengthen the spirit. Unfortunately, the strong blaze was overbearing, with most ordinary people unable to endure for long. Even though her cultivation base was solid, continuing to be baked by the fire would not be a good thing either – stopping now would be for the best.
He lazily sat down and raised a white jade cup, his head facing the azure sky as he waited.
As expected, in a short while the curtains were viciously flung up. Meng Fuyao strode over in large steps, her whole face gloomy, her dark eyes hatefully staring at Yuan Zhaoxu. It was a pity that that person only turned a blind eye to her. Lifting his cup towards her, he said, “How does it fit?”
With a black face Meng Fuyao replied. “Too large.”
Leisurely sipping some wine, Yuan Zhaoxu didn’t say anything else. Fuyao was feeling pleased at his silence until she suddenly heard him mutter, “How could the measurements that I personally made sure of, be too large? Could it be that recently your chest has gotten smaller?”
Fuyao helplessly stared at the sky, deciding not to bicker on that topic with this ill-intentioned fellow. Flopping down by his side, she grabbed the wine jug and poured a cup for herself without asking, then resentfully said, “You’re so despicable, you saw me fall into the water yet you didn’t help at all.”
Yuan Zhaoxu replied with a slight smile, “The world loves joyous occasions the most, and nothing is more joyful than a beautiful woman falling into the water. It can be a feast for the eyes, it can let her dress up, and it can even let us warm ourselves by the fire together. If the beauty catches a cold from falling into the water, one can even treat her by the sick bed and serve her medicine and tea, completely attentive to her needs; there would no longer be a need to worry whether her heart belongs to me. I am not a fool, why would I give up on this kind of great opportunity?”
Listening to his words, at first Fuyao scoffed and was about to go pinch him, yet after hearing him continue on her face began to blush red. She felt that Yuan Zhaoxu’s tone was half-teasing and half-serious, and especially when he said that phrase “there would no longer be a need to worry whether her heart belongs to me”, his eyes drifted with a faint hint of a smile. The whole lake’s smoky, murky waters seemed to flow like the ripples in his eyes.
Because of this Fuyao’s heart also skipped a beat, and she suddenly recalled that night in the Tai Yuan coup. Yuan Zhaoxu’s smile and steady gaze in front of the palace gates, had some deeper meaning to it; however this type of inscrutable intent seemed like it was covered by a layer of paper, hazy and obscured, containing a mystery that made one afraid to dig deeper.
Or maybe, it was because she didn’t want to dig deeper.
Meng Fuyao silently sucked in a breath of air, downing the rest of the wine in her cup. When she put down her wine cup she had already asked another question. “Why are you here?”
It wasn’t that she didn’t realize there was a possibility of meeting Yuan Zhaoxu when she came to the Infinite Empire, but she didn’t expect that they would meet so quickly and so coincidentally. It almost seemed like a certain person had predicted that she would come, and had intentionally waited for her here.
However this thought only flashed through her mind before disappearing. Meng Fuyao felt this was absolutely impossible, how could Yuan Zhaoxu know that she would come to the Infinite Empire? And how could he predict that she would come visit the xinggong? Herself appearing here today was completely due to a temporary impulse too.
Her thoughts twirled and circled randomly, while Yuan Zhaoxu next to her unhurriedly answered, “I have always been one of the staff of Shangyang court under Zhangsun Wuji, and at the same time the manager of this Canglan xinggong.”
“Oh, Manager Yuan.” Meng Fuyao smirked as she looked at him. “Aren’t you going to invite me on a tour of this xinggong?”
“There will be plenty of opportunities in the future.” Yuan Zhaoxu lifted up her hand. “First accompany me to a place, I think you will definitely be interested.”
1. Palmistry: Part of traditional Chinese superstitions, here is a basic guide to palm lines: http://www.wikihow.com/Read-Palm-Lines
- baobao = “宝宝”, means my precious or my baby
- Underclothes that woman in ancient China (specifically Song Dynasty) would wear, also a general term for bra.
- Qinglou = “青楼”, name for a brothel in ancient China