After time traveling to Ancient China for so long, Gu QingQiao had a secret she could not tell. She had secretly hid a person on ShangShu’s Estate’s mountain. On the 9th day of each month, she would send this person something. Today is that agreed upon day.
She carried a huge sackcloth bag up the mountain. Countless left and right turns later, she was panting. After finally reaching the entrance to a cave, she was indignant. She high kicked the door.
“Paternal grandmother is bear. (swear word/phrase) Why aren’t you here to welcome me, you arrogant idler.” The entrance of the cave was silent for a moment, then bang. A dark green lightning came out to strike her face.
“Wu wu” (sound of crying/whimpering) Her painful tears came out. She quickly said, “Daye have mercy.” (Daye = term of respect for older man, but could also have a negative connotation depending on pronunciation/tone, so I used arrogant idler in an earlier sentence) Entering the cave, she saw the culprit lazily lying on a stone bed. His fingers were wriggling around softly like a snake.
She rolled her eyes, while dropping the sackcloth bag to the ground, “You’re disgusting.”
Crash. Everything spilled out. It was all animal carcasses – chicken, duck, geese, and unknown birds. Even though she had seen this too many times, her face still turned green.
“Yo, even knowing it’s scary, you still give me this. Isn’t your hypocritical show of affection more disgusting? The man charmingly and gently smiled at her as if he had tender feelings.
“Stop it.” She had just eaten that loss. Her heart burned with anger. “If I didn’t bring you these filthy creatures, would you still be alive?
The person in front of her quickly lost his smile. A wind swept through the cave, the temperature dropped to the freezing point.
She silently sighed. She could only wipe off her tears. “Daye, spare little Qiao this time.”
“Pick everything up.” His cold face was like a beautiful lotus. His raised chin was like a proud peacock. He had a rule of never lowering his head to anyone. She learned this three years ago.
Gu QingQiao mentally complained. Unreasonable person. Accepting her fate, she crouched down and reached out her hand.
Bang! Her palm was suddenly stepped on. Again? She rolled her eyes and didn’t say anything. She tried to move her trapped hand. But that foot seemed like it was rooted in her hand. No matter how much she shifted, her hand wasn’t released. F*** you. Anxiously, she secretly tried harder.
Hiss. The foot had still not moved a single jot.
“Lu ZiZheng!” This time she was really angry. She raised her head to ferociously stare at him. “If this grandmother’s hands are ruined, don’t think about eating anymore necks!”
“No matter.” His smile deepened, as alluring as spring. “If I can’t eat chicken and duck necks, then I’ll eat human necks. I like human necks more.” After he cheerfully talked and joked, he decreased his foot’s pressure by half.
QingQiao angrily shouted, “Male peacock, you’re not human or demon. I curse you to only have daughters, to be castrated, and for your family to not live past thirty. This old mother was blind to have saved you… Ah!” The pressure on her hand lightens.
She was uprooted, and her chin was harshly grabbed. The man in front of her silently looked at her. His pupils were like a dark, vast lake that people would unknowingly fall into.
“… How many times have I told you? You’re not allowed to say ‘I’m not human or demon’.” His voice was so gently, but her body’s hair was raised in fear.
“Wu wu.” She quickly showed signs of surrender in fear that he would pounce on her to bite her neck.
Seeing her bright, red palm, Lu ZiZheng sighed and let her go.
“I was only playing. Why did you treat it so seriously?” He stared at her with some degree of rebuke.
Does anyone play like that? Gu QingQiao felt helpless, but she didn’t dare to upset him further. She submissively nodded, “Next time I’ll be less careless.”
After escaping the mountain, Gu QingQiao felt like a layer of her skin had been stripped off. Lu ZiZheng always liked to torture her until he sees her blood. Even after three years, he hasn’t become weary of it. Such a freak.
She sighed. What sins did she commit in the previous life that caused her to be teased by him in this life? Their meeting three years ago was like a fairytale (more Grimm than Disney). In a garden, she saw his heavily injured body. Originally she had wanted to toss his corpse into the wilderness. Unexpectedly, he firmly grasped her ankle and refused to let go. Because of a moment of sympathy, she secretly hid him in the mountain. Who could have predicted that she would be endlessly bullied by that devil and forced to become his maid?
Lu ZiZheng’s illness was very strange. He needed to eat a certain amount of raw necks to be cured. At first he suggested eating human necks. This scared QingQiao so much that she almost fell down from the mountain. Finally, the two reached an agreement. Gu QingQiao would provide a sufficient amount of necks each month. And Lu ZiZheng would obediently stay in the cave and not harm any humans.
Wu wu. I’m such a rare girl, willing to sacrifice myself to fulfill his request! Every time she thought of this, she couldn’t help crying a bit out of respect for herself.
After she had returned to Gu Estate, Dong Xi said there was a guest who had been waiting for her for a long time. She pushed open the door. It was Duan Yu.
“Why did you come here?” She didn’t feel anything towards Duan Yu. They had a purely platonic business relationship. Why was he here to pretend? In his heart, she was probably worth less than a bowl of pork!
Duan Yu seemed to be a good mood. Smiling, he said, “Tonight is the capital’s Lantern Festival. I especially came here to bring you out to play. Are you not interested?”
“… Will there be delicious food?” She narrowed her eyes. Swallowing her saliva, “Will I find it mouth-watering?”
“Yes yes, there will be all kinds of snacks. Everything that should be there will be there.” Successful in his enticement, he couldn’t resist clapping his hands. “Your father has already agreed to letting me take you out, let’s quickly go.”
The capital’s number one restaurant was located next to a riverbank. This evening was the annual Lantern Festival. The common people had put lanterns in the water. The lanterns represented their happy wishes. From the top floor, one could see the passing lanterns. The river looked like a jade belt covered with bright jewels. It moved one’s heart.
QingQiao leaned on the railing by herself. Her eyes were misty. She remembered the times she would take the evening train. The train would pass through the dark mountains. She would hear the sound of the wind, and then finally see the distant lights until the lights were a continuous link. It was the city and her home was inside it. Those countless lights. One of those lights was lit for her. But now, she went down the wrong path. She couldn’t find the way home.
“QingQiao, why aren’t you here eating?” Duan Yu was inside drinking tea.
“I’m listening to them singing!” Laughing, she pointed towards the riverboat. There were female singers dressed in white. “They’re so pretty, and their voices are pleasant to hear.”
Duan Yu faintly smiled, “They can also be considered one of the Lantern Festival’s wonders. Every year, many aristocrats come here to lavishly spend money, just to listen to their songs.”
QingQiao: “Yi” (sound of surprise)
“Why? Are you envious?” Duan Yu jokingly asked, “Are you envious of their beauty or their value? (T/N: The women that she’s looking at are prostitutes and by value he’s means the money it would take to buy them.)
“Neither.” QingQiao shook her head, “No matter how beautiful they are, their beauty is fleeting. Will they be able to spend their lifetime singing? If it’s me, I would find a way to leave as soon as possible.” Then she turned around to look at the river.
He didn’t know what she was thinking about. Duan Yu silently stared at her. He raised his eyebrows.
It was very windy that night. The girl’s sleeves were fluttering as if they were a butterfly’s wings about to fly away. He had an impulse. He wanted to cut those wings, so that the butterfly had to stay here, unable to leave for the rest of this life. He silently sat in that corner. His face was like a lantern. It changed from brightness and clear thoughts to darkness and hidden thoughts. From darkness and hidden thoughts, it changed to brightness and clear thoughts.
(T/N: At first I thought it was really stupid of QingQiao to keeping upsetting Lu ZiZheng. But, given that she’s known him for three years and he hasn’t killed her yet, it’s reasonable to assume that he’s not going to seriously harm her in the future.
Also, I wondered why no one found it suspicious that she was buying so many raw necks each month, but there’s actually Chinese recipes that only required bird necks instead of the entire animal.)