Very late at night at Prince Duan Yu Estate.
“What? So it was that kind of person who sent the assassins?” Duan Yu inclined on the couch. His clothes slightly loosened. His hair was like flowing water. His hands idly played with a green ornament. He appeared to be calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos.
Before the couch, the black robed man was extremely deferential. He kneeled on one knee as he said, “Although this servant doesn’t know why assassins were sent, this servant is sure that Miss Gu has an item they want.”
“En… interesting.” Then Duan Yu thought of something else. His smile was exceptionally beautiful.
The black robed man’s heart secretly trembled. His digestive fluid was rising from his stomach to his mouth.
“Xing Si, send ten people to go look for that group of assassins.” Duan Yu turned to look at the black robed man, “Remember to leave one person alive. It doesn’t matter if his arms are broken or if he loses his legs.
The black robed man nodded to show his acceptance of this order.
“Oh right, have you found Qiao Feng?” Duan Yu unexpectedly asked.
“To report to the prince, after searching the entire country’s sixteen cities, we found two hundred and seventy men with the name Qiao Feng. None of them had a wolf head on their chest,” the black robed man truthfully answered. He broke out in cold sweat.
“Oh? Then continue looking. Perhaps that Qiao Feng is in the Western Regions or maybe he’s in the Southern borders. Anyways, don’t just look for that man in the Central Plains. When you bring his head to me, I’ll reward you.” He said this casually as if this wasn’t an important matter.
“Yes.” The black robed man didn’t dare say an extra word.
A long time passed.
“Why haven’t you left?” Duan Yu turned around and saw a shadow on the ground.
“… To answer the prince, the prince… didn’t the prince say today that we will be punished after coming back because Miss Gu was frightened?” The black robed man was trembling with trepidation.
Duan Yu’s eyes brightened for a moment. He lightly moved his lips, “Ah, you were thinking of that …” He smiled indifferently, “Xing Si, how long have you followed me? You can’t tell when I’m pretending?”
In the black robed man’s heart, a large stone dropped. He inwardly let out a breath.
“She’s only a plaything. If I treat her nicely, I’ll be able to play with her happily in the future. Pretend with me. She’s simple, but interesting.”
The black robed man hurriedly nodded.
On May 9th’s evening, the moon first witnessed a fake assassination. Then, it heard Prince Duan Yu’s secret discussion with a black crow. (T/N: black crow = black robed man)
Wa ~~ (sound of child crying). The moon cried a whirlwind of tears in the sky. What a black belly!
(T/N: Black belly means someone is that secretly evil and manipulative. And you will only know that the person is black belly after being eaten up.)
Six days later it was May 15th. On this day of the month, QingQiao usually went outside the estate to visit a temple. Yesterday, Dong Xi was going to prepare Miss’s food and drinks.
But she heard Miss say, “Bring more pastries. This time, we’ll be gone for two or three days.”
Dong Xi asked, “Miss, doesn’t it only take the time to burn two incense sticks to reach Guang Hua Temple from Gu Estate?”
(T/N: Time to burn one incense stick is approximately 10 to 15 minutes.)
“Who said were going to Guang Hua Temple?” Miss sweetly smiled, “We’re going to Shang Temple.”
Shang Temple was outside of the capital. Floating cloud, wild crane*. They didn’t need to spend that much energy to burn incense sticks. Dong Xi didn’t understand why Miss wanted to go to such a far place when there was a closer temple. Guang Hua Temple was better. There were more female and male nobility, more servants, and more gossip. When she looked at Miss, she had an uncertain expression, but her eyes had stars. Dong Xi didn’t dare complain further. She quickly left with the laundry.
* (T/N: floating cloud, wild crane is an idiom that means to live idly and come and go freely from Tang Dynasty.)
Ascetic for a most of a day, they finally reached Shang Temple. Dong Xi hadn’t been here before. From far away, it looked shabby, but it also had a rare refined look.
From the sedan chair, Miss mysteriously said, “Let me tell you, a Daoist immortal lives in that Temple!” They reached the outer wall. The gate door was sealed shut. There was no one at the gate. Dong Xi knocked on the door. Three knocks later, there was still no response. After they waited for a while, the door partially opened and revealed a young monk’s head.
The young monk asked and bowed with hands held in the front, “What affairs have brought you here?”
“My family’s Miss has come from the capital to pay respect by burning incense in worship. Could little shifu open the door and lead the way?” Dong Xi reply was neither servile nor overbearing.
(T/N: shifu = polite way to address monks, teacher or master (especially in martial arts), or skilled worker/craftsman)
“E mi tuo fo, this temple is not receiving visitors today. Please leave.” The young monk didn’t look at the luxurious sedan chair. He put his palms together in farewell, and then started to close the door.
(T/N: E mi tuo fo = one of Buddha’s name that monks commonly say when starting their sentences.)
“Audacious! My family’s Miss is the only daughter of Gu ShangShu, the Minister of Rites, and the granddaughter of General Xu, founder of this country. She came to this remote place to sincerely burn incense. How could she be driven away by you?” Dong Xi blocked the monk from closing the door. Her face looked as if she had swallowed gunpowder.
The young monk wasn’t frighten, “Oh.” He quietly and tranquilly said, “The head monk has recently returned from traveling. He’s currently cultivating. As a result, the entire temple is closed for seven days. Even if Gu ShangShu came, he wouldn’t be able to see the head monk.”
Wow, what lofty words. No wonder, this temple has so few visitors! Although Dong Xi was only a maidservant, this was the first time she was this angry. She was about to fly into a terrible rage when she heard Miss gritting her teeth. She couldn’t help wanting to smile at that sound.
“Has Great Master Kong Kong returned?” Miss’s voice was delicate and pleasant.
“This Miss, are you old friends with the head monk?” The young monk thought her voice sounded familiar. He turned his head to look at the sedan chair.
“Old friend? Reluctantly, we could be considered as old friends.” The sedan chair’s curtain was opened. A delicate, small face was revealed. When the young monk saw, he stared blankly for a moment.
“I request that shifu pass this message.” Miss lowered her voice, “Heavenly King covers the earth tiger.”
The young monk’s mouth made a “o” shape. His eyes were like a copper bell. “Pa… pagoda township demon?”
(T/N: Their words are sort of nonsensical. QingQiao is just proving that she knows the head monk. QingQiao is saying the words that the bandits in the story, Lin Hai Xue Yuan, say to the protagonist. And the young monk is replying with the words that the protagonist says to the bandits.)
“Treat monks as warmly as spring,” Miss said.
“… Treat pigs as cruel and unfeeling as winter,” the young monk stammered. His expression had changed.
(T/N: The original saying is ‘treat comrades as warmly as spring… treat enemies as cruel and unfeeling as winter’.)
“Its you!” He opened the door while continuing to mutter, “So its her.”
“Oh, so little shifu has also heard of me,” Miss said with interest as her smile deepened.
The young monk hurriedly nodded, “I’ve heard of you. Master says you’re a rare loquat that’s only seen once every hundred years.” Then, he quickly left to inform his Master.
The left behind Miss desperately shouted, “Hey, its marvel not loquat.”
(T/N: loquat is pipa and marvel is qipa in Mandarin.)
Setting sun. Green trees. Sunset clouds.
A man was standing the temple’s main hall’s entrance. He was staring into the distance in the North direction. QingQiao looked into the distance for a moment too.
Finally, she couldn’t resist voicing her thoughts, “Great Master, you’ve gotten fatter.” The man turned around. His face was as plump as glutinous rice. His smile was as bright as mountain flowers.
“Very good. When your mind is serene, you’ll be worry free. When you’re worry free, you’ll gain weight,” Great Master Kong Kong said. “Miss Gu, we meet again.”
“E mi tuo fo,” QingQiao followed suit by putting her hands together in greeting. “To meet again after five years, we have fate.” Compared to that year, the head monk was still a fat monk, but that girl had grown up.
“Does Miss Gu still constantly think about returning home?” The head monk shook his head, “The mortal world has a fixed destiny. There was a reason you were brought here. If you leave, there must also be a reason. Why must you forcefully find a way to return?”
“Great Master, you spoke well. This mortal should wait and not insistently demand. But…” QingQiao softly smiled while lifting her left hand. Her embroidered sleeve slipped down halfway to reveal a delicate, snow-white arm. The wind blew over, and the bells jingled. The silver bracelet was dazzling. Its sound was like colored glass.
“But fate has unexpectedly given me hope.” She stared at the Great Master with a serious expression.
“The nine surd bells,” Great Master Kong Kong stepped back in surprise. “It is the devil tribe’s sacred item that had been lost for over thirty years. Why is it on your wrist?”
“Didn’t the Great Master say that I’m a rare marvel that’s only seen once every hundred years? For me to obtain this item isn’t strange,” QingQiao mysteriously smiled.
“So, you really found it,” Great Master closed his eyes. He looked weary. “Or rather, it has found you.”
“Great Master, please tell me! There are still three more items: heaven, earth, and person. Four items are needed. Since one item is in my hand, tell me the way to return home,” as she said this, her nose turned red and her eyes became teary.
Great Master sighed and gently said, “Is it that bad to remain here? There are many people that want you to stay here.”
QingQiao rubbed her nose and resentfully said, “Its not good here. Great Master, you’re not me. Naturally, you won’t understand how I feel.”
Was he joking? Why do those girls who time travel want to stay in Ancient China to chase after d****? They indulged in pleasure and forget about home. She really couldn’t understand.
From her point of view, this uncivilized world had not completed evolution. Travel required walking. Communication relied on word of mouth*. There were no planes, trains, Internet, computers, chocolate, and flushing toilet. It doesn’t even have tampons! Only she knew how much she missed the tremendously messy modern world. She missed the warmth from family and friends. Stop. Don’t think about this anymore. She needed to go back. No matter what, she will go back! She clenched her fist.
* (T/M: Travel requires walking. Communication relies on word of mouth is part of a quote that’s used to describe how rural life was poor and weak.)
“… Heaven means the emperor’s spirit.” It seemed as if the Great Master’s voice came from far away. His voice was tangled with five flavors.
(T/N: For a person to have five kinds of flavors, it means the person is feeling many different emotions. So, he sounds like he doesn’t know if he should cry or laugh.)
“Emperor’s spirit?” QingQiao was stunned. She carefully asked, “Do you mean the emperor’s soul?” Orz. Even though she wanted to go home, she never thought about taking someone’s life, much less this dynasty’s emperor’s life.
(T/N: Orz = emoticon that represents someone who has fallen over or is bowing down on their knees and perhaps pounding their head on the floor.)
“Emperor’s spirit is an item.” Great Master Kong Kong rolled his eyes, “Pangu (Chinese creation god) used this item to split Earth and Heaven (create the world). Only certain fated people can possess this artifact without dying.”
QingQiao urgently asked, “What does the emperor’s spirit look like? Who has it right now?”
“I don’t know. Since ancient times, only the owner of the emperor’s spirit knows what it looks like, and now the identity of the owner is unknown,” Great Master Kong Kong despondently replied.
F***, after all this time, you want me to take charge of “Discovery” Channel. QingQiao dropped her shoulders in dismay.
“Heaven helps the worthy,” Great Master comforted her. “That year, I only told you ‘nine surd bells’ and you ended up finding it.”
After Great Master mentioned it, she thought of the past too. She couldn’t help crying. Maybe heaven was really helping her.
“Nine surd bells.” If she hadn’t heard of those words before, why would she rescue an unknown stranger like Lu ZiZheng? Why would she be willing to be tortured by him? Gu family’s QingQiao wasn’t someone that would do something that would detriment herself.
“Thank you Great Master. After I find the “Heaven” item, I will come back to ask for advice about the ‘Earth’ item. After sincerely wishing him good fortune, she left.
At the temple door, Dong Xi was still waiting.
Oh right, maybe Prince Duan Yu had sent black robed men to follow me. But with Great Master there, they wouldn’t have been able to hear anything. Isn’t Prince Duan Yu the emperor’s hand? The fated person was likely to appear at his side. Or maybe the emperor’s spirit was in hands? I should be nicer to him. When QingQiao thought of this, she smiled.
From a distance, Great Master Kong Kong looked at the young girl as she left, “Buddha, was is it right of me to tell her?”
(T/N: Did anyone else think Duan Yu had sent the assassins before reading this chapter?
If you transmigrated back to Ancient China, would you want to go back to the modern world no matter what?)