Duan Yu sent Qiao Feng to stand and wait nearby. He also ordered people to bring up many fine dishes.
“These are all dishes that you like to eat. Try some.” Duan Yu added a piece of braised eel to QingQiao’s bowl with a doting look.
“Why do you always prepare a big table full of dishes every time we meet?” QingQiao felt somewhat strange.
“If I didn’t prepare delicious dishes in advance, how would I keep little Qiao?” Duan Yu slowly removed the green onions on the eel. He understatedly said, “You usually don’t think about me.”
After these actor’s lines were said, QingQiao had an impression that she was performing in a play.
Those handsome men would use these type of words to lure the female pig (female lead), “Come here, brother will buy you delicious foods.” Then, most silly female pigs (female leads) will be kidnapped.
(T/N: Female pig and female lead sound similar in Mandarin. Without tone marks, they’re both nu zhu.)
OMG, so he thought she was the same as those female pigs. Did he think she’s had an insatiable appetite?
Qing Qiao mustered up her courage to protest, “I’m just a person who’s good at enjoying life.”
“So what if you enjoy in pleasure-seeking?” Duan Yu deeply stared into her eyes without blinking. “If you like gourmet food, I will find and give you the world’s best chef. If you like fresh flowers, I will cover the palace in a carpet of numerous flowers. If you like jewelry, I will bring my family’s entire treasure trove in front of you. In short, whatever you want, I will give you.”
After he said this, he suddenly paused and looked down.
“… If what you want doesn’t exist, then no matter what I will create it.” He clenched his fist as if he was making a secret resolution.
OMG, did Prince Duan Yu take the wrong medicine today? Or, did he catch up to his puberty phase? QingQiao became apprehensive from his seemingly sincere and serious pledge.
She could only blush and said, “Why… why does the prince treat me so well? Little Qiao isn’t worth it.
“… Of course, I’m not doing this for you.” Duan Yu raised his head. His smiling face revealed his white teeth. “I’m only joking with you because I’m not hungry anymore and I’m bored ~~.”
This meal had already taken at least an hour. And Qiao Feng could only stand in the corner watching them for an hour.
“How could you let him keep standing there?” QingQiao’s brow wrinkled.
She leaned her body closer to Duan Yu to quietly complain, “And you didn’t even ask him to eat with us.”
“From a cook’s point of view, he has sufficient enjoyment just watching the people eating the food he cooked.” Duan Yu happily continued eating without even looking up.
F*ck, this guy started his selfish ideology again. QingQiao rolled her eyes.
She looked at Qiao Feng with an enchanting smile and said, “Hero Qiao Feng, where do you currently live?”
Qiao Feng rubbed his hands in embarrassment and said, “I haven’t returned to the Central Plains in ten years. Other than cooking this plain boiled pork with garlic sauce, my other skills have declined. Now, I can only stay at this inn and make a living as a cook.”
Oh no, a hero in dire straits!
QingQiao especially couldn’t accept seeing a beautiful person past their prime. When a hero is dejected, there should be a disaster. Lofty sentiments rose up in her heart.
“Don’t worry. After I give you a few words to place on your entrance, you’ll be famous within three days. Everyone will line up to eat your cooking.”
“… Is such an amazing thing possible?” Qiao Feng was completely skeptical about her claim.
Duan Yu smiled slightly. He probably remembered something.
“… You don’t have to worry. It’ll definitely be effective.” QingQiao good-naturedly continued to sweetly smile and said, “In the capital, I… Eh… I could be considered to be famous in the capital’s pork industry. That year, because I had written words on a broken wok, the nation’s pork price tripled. Later, so many pork merchants sent letters to my home to express their thanks that we started using their letters as kindling. Oh, and they also brought me many golden tables saying that I’m the pork society’s Guanyin (Buddhist goddess of mercy).”
A burst of laughter escaped from Duan Yun. She rolled her eyes at Duan Yu.
“Anyways, my perspective of pork is above average.” Without her face changing color, she continued speaking in an unstoppable stream, “When the times comes, you only need to say to everyone, those words were written by the prince’s future wife, Gu QingQiao.”
Duan Yu immediately looked at her somewhat plaintively.
Qiao Feng listened to her bragging about her extravagant embellishments (literally deluge of heavenly flowers). Then, when she was done, he quickly ran to get the four treasures of the calligraphy (brush, ink, paper, and ink stone). He handed these items to her with both of his hands.
First, let go of the tension in the body. Then, the spirit and mind will also naturally relax and be able to concentrate more effectively.
Oh, the prince’s future wife seemed to have sunk into a deep mediation.
She breathed deeply, and then started to write.
Ah, the prince’s future wife had a burst of inspiration! She was about write down a poem that would be handed down throughout the ages.
Instead, he only saw Gu QingQiao use the brush to flung a sentence onto the paper.
“If you love her, take her to eat plain boiled pork with garlic sauce.”
As they walked out of the inn, QingQiao was in a good mood. She noisily fussed on wanting to play with Zuo Qing.
“I thought you didn’t like that Western Region horse?” Duan Yu smiled at her, but his eyes were distant.
“I’m trying to nurture feelings with him.” QingQiao acted cutely as a way to please Duan Yu. “In the future, won’t I see him often after I marry you? I want him to be able to recognize me.”
Duan Yu enjoyed hearing these words, so he ordered people to bring Zuo Qing to them.
“This horse is very fierce. Don’t try to control or urge him to go faster. Just hold onto his reins and walk around here.” After he repeatedly warned her to be careful, he handed the reins to her.
QingQiao smiled and nodded. She pulled on the reins and they quickly ran away like a wisp of smoke. They disappeared in an instant.
Duan Yu looked at the beautiful girl’s back. His smile gradually faded and was replaced by an ice-cold and grave expression. He looked into the distance and seemed almost absentminded.
“Xing Si,” he softly summoned.
Zuo Qing slowly walked in the woods. A young girl followed him.
Weak girl! Slow like a turtle!
This lively colt was disdainful of this silly girl. But unexpectedly, the Jade River was so beautiful. They zigzagged up and down the the area as if they were a silver coin being tossed up and down by a goddess. Zuo Qing accompanied her as she continued to walk.
“Little Qing, do you like this place?” The young girl raised her head. Her eyes were filled with the gleaming reflection of the sunlight in the clear and crystalline water.
Little Qing? Could it be me?
The colt twitched.
“Why did you come here?” The young girl looked at him. With a serious tone, she said, “Shouldn’t horses gallop around prairies?”
The colt was still suffering from the heavy blow of his new name and hadn’t recovered his spirit. He ignored her.
“Oh, I forgot. You were sent here as a tribute.” The young girl became somewhat depressed, “… So, it turns out that you’re not here of your own free will either. You’re the same as me.”
The colt whined. I only surrender to unrivalled heroes. How could I be compared to a coarse and wild girl like you?
The young girl stretched out her hand to stroke his perfect and elegant mane.
She murmured, “Do you want to go home?”
The colt debonairly tossed his head. This silly girl is talking nonsense again. My owner is refined. He is as perfect as my mane. Of my own free will, I happily follow him.
The young girl let out a burst of laughter.
“You don’t want to leave him? Why? Could it be that you like him?
The colt raised his head high with an unhappy expression. What did that little girl know? I worship and look up to him.
“… Or perhaps, your owner is a good person.” The young girl’s eyes were a bit blurry. “He put so much effort into finding Qiao Feng for me… I… I shouldn’t.” As she spoke, her voice gradually became softer until it couldn’t be heard.
The colt really wanted to look down on this silly girl, but suddenly he alertly pricked up his ears.
People were coming! Hearing their footsteps and the sound of metal, it seemed as if it was group of strangers carrying weapons. And so, he shook his head to try to loosen her grip on the reins.
QingQiao became aware of his unease and with a flustered voice, she said, “Little Qing, what’s wrong?”
“Miss Gu, be careful!” Suddenly, a group of shadow guards appeared unexpectedly as if they fell from the sky. They surrounded her with their backs facing her and their swords facing outwards.
“Miss, don’t be scared. It’s assassins from the Steamed Bun Cult.” One of the people turned to look at her. So, he was the Qiao Feng that she had met once during the Lantern Festival. “We’re following the prince’s orders to protect miss.” (Author’s Note: If you don’t remember him, go back to chapter 5.)
Oh, the expert is here. QingQiao vividly remembered his “Shadow Shifting” and “Locust Flower Strike” that he had displayed that time and settled down her worried heart.
Eh. Wait. Steamed Bun Cult? When did I provoke people from such a weird cult?!
Soon, the shadow guards and the group of masked people started fighting. The two sides had about the same number of people, but the shadow guards had the valiant, noble warrior, Qiao Feng, and they gradually started to win.
QingQiao was by a tree watching the fight. It didn’t seem necessary to run away, so she stood there holding Zuo Qing’s reins.
Black and white. White and black. In front of her, there were only these two colors. Back and forth, it was somewhat monotonous. She was bored to death.
No wonder they were called Steamed Bun. They were all wearing white robes and were the spitting image of a group of freshly steamed white buns. But wouldn’t white robes get dirty easily? If they spent their days fighting and killing, how many times did they have change their clothes every day? Their founder must have been someone who had pretension of having culture.
Duan Yu was wiser. His shadow guards all wore black clothes. If they bleed, it would be fine once it dried. If they got dusty, it would be fine once they flew around. If they committed murder and arson at night, they wouldn’t be noticed. This saved money and was environmentally friendly. Weren’t black clothes the best choice?
While she was letting her imagination run wild, someone suddenly patted her shoulder. QingQiao turned around and saw a beautiful, feminine face.
“Little sister, what are you doing here?” The owner of that face asked her with an uninhibited smile. He seemed somewhat like a ruffian.
“… Watching the fight.” She looked at those familiar peach eyes and momentarily felt despondent.
“Oh, so they’re fighting.” The ruffian nodded as if he was suddenly enlightened.
They both watched the fight silently.
“Why are they fighting?” The ruffian gamely asked.
“For me.” QingQiao blurted out and was then upset for her loose lips.
“Why are they fighting for you?” The man continued to ask as if he wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.
“This…” She sighed. After thinking for a bit, she said, “Because I’m as beautiful as a flower and lovable by all. Their boss fell in love with me at first sight and wanted to take me as his concubine.” QingQiao pointed her left hand at the white-robed men.
“But, I’m already engaged. My fiancé is a person with high status. He sent those people to fight them.” QingQiao pointed her right hand at the black-robed men. When she did this, her behavior was like a weather forecaster in front of satellite images of clouds that was pointing at various parts of the country.
“Oh, so it was like that.” The ruffian smiled, but his facial expression seemed to stiffen.
They continued to watch in silence.
“Dare I ask, what is this beauty’s name?”
“My name? It’s a trivial name that’s not worthy of mentioning. My name is Ding Ding.
“Oh, what a coincidence. I’m called Dang Dang. Are we not a heaven-matched pair?”
(T/N: There’s a popular Chinese children book series called Ding Ding Dang Dang and both of their names are onomatopoeias, but I’m not sure how else their names would be related.)
“…” She could only admire this big brother who was so utterly shameless in his flirting.
“What’s wrong? Does little sister Ding Ding not like big brother’s name?”
“… No, big brother’s name is very good. It’s easy to understand, catchy, and reveals a bit of cuteness. It’s one of the few names that matches little sister’s name well. It’s a masterpiece!”
“… Little sister Ding Ding, you’re so cute.”
“I’m still far away in comparison to big brother Dang Dang.”
She sighed, and then wiped away her sweat. This conversation was so tiring.
“But little sister Ding Ding, its wrong of you to keep that hidden from me.” The ruffian suddenly grabbed her hand. With a voice that pierced through to her bones, he said, “Good little sister, you clearly stole my group’s sacred item. Why aren’t you returning it to me?”
She felt an acute pain on her wrist as if a thousand ants were biting. Before QingQiao had time to call for help, she was surrounded by darkness.
Before she lost conscious, she really wanted to ask, “Big brother Dang Dang, did you learn ‘Nine Yin White Claws’?”
(T/N: It’s a martial arts skill from another one of Jin Yong’s novels.)