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Qinglian Chronicles Chapter 62

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Snow fills the land. This year's winter seems to be particularly cold, pedestrians rarely seen on the streets. Within the world of ice is a young lady of about 20 years of age, leading along a lean horse, walking all alone.

The woman is wearing only some thin black clothes yet isn't shying the least bit away from the cold, with only a golden phoenix hairpin stuck on her head and a pair of willow-leaf sabers at her waist. She's gorgeous, her face round, her eyes almond-shaped, and brows thin, but with a dark crease of worry between them.

She's been looking for that person for two years now, from Jiangnan to Jiangbei, from outside the Great Wall to the capital, waded deep into the waters of jianghu and scaled the dangerous steepness of mountains and rivers, never worn down by wind or snow, yet anxious thoughts have eroded her flowery and tender appearance.

Ah, jianghu makes the young old.

This should be a year of having fun and being pa.s.sed out drunk. How many nights has she spent on the streets, or in a large or small city or town, or in tawdry or bedbug-infested taverns? Alone, silently watching the lantern wick occasionally burst into a pattern of light? Stranded because of daytime rain, looking at the water slide down and drip off the corners of green roof tiles, subconsciously biting her red lips hard?

As of now, even her hope and despair have diluted, the search having become a subconscious behavior.

Where is the one she's been looking for, really?

“Miss? Are you alone? Are you stopping to stay or to have a quick bite?” The inn's servant politely holds out his hand to take the reins from her. The scope of the capital is wide, and this is a popular inn that's seen many sons and daughters of jianghu, so it's not strange to see a single, pretty woman armed with blades like this.

“Staying. I'll have a meal first.” Hong Feng responded indifferently, somewhat unenthusiastically releasing the reins to the servant.

At that time, she had no idea that the answer she'd been looking for for many years would appear in the structure she's about to enter.

This hotel is very large, having quite a few small gardens and quite a few storied buildings. The foremost building's first floor sells some food, and the second floor has sitting room for a proper meal. After Hong Feng's room was arranged, she was guided to sit down in a corner of the second floor.

In the capital's suburbs, and meals simply must be on time. There are very few tables, but there's a display of extremely eye-catching people right in the center. Only one is seated; dressed entirely in white clothes with arctic fox fur, uncontaminated by the most minute of specks, and a delicate conical hat with white muslin hanging off it, covering up his features. There's a dozen or so gathered around him, all giving off governmental power, seemingly to be of a distinguished family.

She doesn't know whose family's princely Young Master are having an outing and showing off like this.

Hong Feng can't help but look more, and discovered a thin-bodied yet big-bellied old man in the middle with a pair of toothed steel hoops at his waist, his appearance strongly similar to the Sky-Filling Star of the Twin Constellations of Heaven's Game, Zhu Xianxi, a legend within jianghu. [1] Zhu Xianxi is considered a top-grade expert, yet he's acting as someone's bodyguard – this person seems to be of extraordinary origin.

That table is covered in food and drink, but the white-clothed person doesn't even touch his chopsticks or teacup.

Hong Feng isn't someone who's fond of sticking her nose in other's business or getting in on the fun, and is also preoccupied with her own worries. No matter how strange he is, she pays him no more attention, merely lowering her head to eat her own food.

All of a sudden, a domestic dressed as a boyservant burst in with a stagger, holding a bundle of stuff to his chest as if he were protecting something precious, shouting out, “Sir, come! come! It's still warm! Sweet and salty!”

Someone standing to the side said, “Why did you take so long? Sir's been waiting here hungry!

The servant was somewhat wronged, whisper, “This is north of capital, where could I find Huangqiao shaobing? This lowly one had to ride his horse more than a dozen li to just barely find them!”

Huangqiao shaobing?

What would a n.o.ble want to eat peasant rations like that for?

In the middle of Hong Feng's wonder, she vaguely seems to see her 7 or 8 year old self, two small braids tied on her head and wearing a patchy, short cotton jacket, her little cheeks red from cold. Exhaling a puff of steam and carrying a bundle of something in her arms, joyfully going to find a boy of similar age back in the village.

The little boy's clothes are still a little more worn-out than hers, but his tiny face is truly beautiful. For a farmer's family to have such a pretty child could astonish anyone.

“Here!” Little Hong Feng stuffed the bundle into the boy's hands. “It's your favorite Huangqiao shaobing, Brother Qingtong! As thanks for Brother Qing saving me behind the mountain yesterday! I had enough today to have papa buy it for me! I covered it with my arms this whole time, it's still warm!”

The little boy is overjoyed, looking inside the small paper bag and taking two out, one long and one round. They're yellow, delicious-smelling, crispy, and slightly warm tiny shaobing. He's even more delighted, saying, “One sweet and one salty? You're the best Hong Feng, I'll have to save you again later!”

Little Hong Feng's smile reached her eyes, elatedly watching the boy take tiny bites as he stingily ate. “Brother Qing saves me, and I'll save Brother Qing. Those stupid cows won't bully people now!”

The shaobing are very small, and though they were eaten with very small bites, they were still gone quick. The lad wishes for more as he licks the pastry crumbs off his hand in one go, sighing with loss.

Hong Feng fished out another thing from her arms, turned her lips up in a smile, and stuffed it into the center of the boy's palm. He opened his hand and looked at it; it was an extremely crude wooden hairpin for men to use. Most of the fully grown men in the village use a pin like this to pull back their hair.

“Where'd this come from?”

“My second uncle is going on a boat and wouldn't be back home for the New Year, so he gave me my lucky money early. I bought this with it!” Hong Feng beamed.

“I don't need this!” The boy turned the pin around in the sunlight to look at it, a bit curious, yet a bit uninterested.

“You'll use it later.” Hong Feng isn't angry, still smiling with squinted eyes. “When Brother Qing is fifteen, he can use it to put his hair in a bun. Brother Qing's hair is black and bright and soft, pulling it up will look really good!”

“Ahem!” The lad spoke with disdain. “What would a man want to look good for? You should know that, little girl! Besides, there's still six years! You should've bought me two more shaobing if you had that spare change!”

Little Hong Feng finally got mad, s.n.a.t.c.hing back the pin. “If you don't want it, pay me back!”

The boy got a little panicky seeing her angry, quickly holding the young girl who wanted to leave. “I want it, I want it! Who said I didn't want it!”

……

Hong Feng couldn't resist slightly raising her lips from the memories when a sudden loud noise suddenly called her mind back: that white-clothed person had kicked the boyservant over on the ground, shaobing smashed on his face, crumbs scattered all over his head.

“d.a.m.n slave! Getting something like this to fool me! You call this Huangqiao shaobing? How can it be so unpalatable!” The voice was wicked sharp, sinisterly cold, and ruthless, but still could not cover up the originally soft and heart-stirring vocal cords.

“The peddler said these were authentic…” The boyservant defended himself, upset.

“Go and catch that swindler for me!”

The diners at the very few surrounding tables began to leave in avoidance. Hong Feng didn't move.

In one or two cup of tea's time, those who had been sent to capture the person had brought in 30-something year old, greasy-looking peddler clad in short, dark clothes, and threw him s.h.i.+vering in front of that n.o.bleman.

“Where are you from?” The voice is haunting.

The peddler had never gone through a battle and can only s.h.i.+ver, only able to stammer for a long while. “An-answer m'lord, th… this lowly o-one is from Anhui…”

The white-clothed one is furious. “Anhui? Do people from Anhui make shaobing from Huangqiao?” He viciously said to the thugs and bodyguards behind him, “Twist one of this swindler's fingers until it breaks! Make it so he never does this scam again!”

Two bodyguards stepped forward and lifted up the scared-stiff peddler, whose ear-piercing sobs for his father and calls for his mother drifted over.

Hong Feng is a heroine from a famous and righteous sect. She can't sit there and watch this. Her hands lightly pressed on the table, and then her figure was forced up, her two blades never unsheathed. With one push and one pull of her hands, she s.n.a.t.c.hed the peddler from the two bodyguards' hands, the shaking worker thrown to the corner.

Amidst the unexpected event, the bodyguards act as if they're facing a great enemy, surrounding the person in white, drawing out their blades and pointed them towards Hong Feng, shouting curses in succession.

“The shaobing weren't made well. That's not a crime.” Hong Feng's voice is clear and sweet-sounding.

Zhu Xianxi narrowed his eyes to look at her, then said, “So it's G.o.d-Nun Miaoxin of the Freezing Snow Peak's sole excelling disciple, heroine Hong Feng. That sole heroine sure has nice and wide shoulders to come support this injustice!”

“Nothing should be taken too far.” Hong Feng is never humble or haughty.

Zhu Xianxi knows he might not be her match, but with one look, everyone pounces at the same time. Hong Feng is calm and fearless, using one draw for both blades, brandis.h.i.+ng two rays of cold light. She fights in place through the crowd, posture graceful and easy.

There's a few who want to protect that white-clothed one from behind, avoiding accidentally injuring him, still retreating. The one in white stays unmoving in his seat as he watched them fight, not even making a trace of a sound.

Sure enough, after Hong Feng's blade swept away Zhu Xianxi's dual rings, the tip inclined slightly, getting dangerously close to the one in white's white muslin hat and raising it up. The muslin flutters and black hair slightly scatters, revealing a devastatingly beautiful countenance.

The one in white still doesn't move.

Hong Feng's entire being went rigid, even forgetting to sidestep the person who took the opportunity to put a blade against her neck.

That face… she hasn't see it since she was twelve. Now it's profoundly different, completely different, and even the eyes are different, but she can still recognize it with a glance.

She thought she'd never see him again, finding no news of him for such a long time.

As if being given a body and coming to life, Hong Feng's form, arms, and tip of her blade began to shudder bit by bit…

“Brother… Qing… tong…” Her throat is dry, lips trembling, voice a low whisper.

Those eyes stare, strange yet entirely familiar eyes.

“I'm not Chu Qingtong now. I'm Zhang Qinglian,” the one in white said lightly, as if a loud voice was waking one from dreamland, but the sound is very off.

Zhang Qinglian… the new boytoy of that dimwit ruler that's become famous in these recent two years, that shameless flatterer of a minister, is actually him?

“I've been looking for you for a long time…” Hong Feng's mouth moves of its own accord, like some outside force is manipulating her words and it's not herself speaking. “I finished my apprentices.h.i.+p two years ago. I went back to find you… I only knew that your mother had sold you… and I went to Broker w.a.n.g to look… I went straight to Cangzhou, but those people were all dead… even the people that touched you were all wiped out. I kept looking for so long, and in the countryside of Shandong, I found an old servant woman from that d.a.m.ned place. She said that you weren't dead, but were carried away by a group of mysterious people… I lost every clue, and had to start looking around randomly…”

Hong Feng found it very odd that her own voice was actually so serene, not a drop of tears coming from her eyes.

Zhang Qinglian suddenly smiled. “You've found me now,” he said softly. “And what can you do?”

Hong Feng paused.

Zhang Qinglian's smile was extremely tender. “When you didn't find me, I begged the G.o.ds hundreds of times a day to let me die. You're a lone heroine, in the process of becoming revered by everyone in the martial arts world… Now that you've found me, what can you do for me? Revenge? I've already taken that… have me live a good life? I now live under only one person, and above countless other, with wealth and glory at my fingertips… ah, that's it, the solo heroine with excellent martial arts can protect me!” He smiles again, reaching out a hand to pat a corner of the table. The corner slowly turns black, and then into dust, drifting away, the remaining area cleanly cut off as if a blade had cut it. “What a shame that I've also learned martial arts now.”

Hong Feng's tears, slowly, leaked out. Her saber, slowly, dropped to the ground.

“Wait, wait!” A twelve year old boy ran until he was out of breath, finally catching up to the pretty middle-aged nun and young woman in front of him. He falls to the ground and repeatedly kowtows, knocking his head until blood flows from it. “I'm begging this great master to accept me as a disciple too!”

The young woman couldn't bear to look at him pleadingly pulling at the sleeve of her newly-wors.h.i.+pped Master. The pretty nun's expression is ice-cold, hollowly brus.h.i.+ng him off and helping him up, coldly saying, “I accepted her as a disciple because she has a profound gift. Your natural skill is shallow. It would difficult to make you into something. You're not martial material.”

“Then you can have me make meals and chop firewood for you all, great master! I can do anything! I don't eat too much!” The boy implores, unwilling to give in.

“Freezing Snow Peak doesn't allow men entry. Even if you're young, an exception can't be made.” His final hope was also beaten to death.

The young lady obtained her Master's approval with much difficulty to pull the boy to the side, taking out a handkerchief and wiping the blood from his forehead. He grabbed her wrist, voice earnest and sorrowful. “Hong Feng, can you not go? If you go, I'll be alone…”

The young girl hesisted repeatedly, then said with a firm heart, “Brother Qing, I want to learn martial arts and be a big hero… is being a hero no good? I can protect you then, and no one will bully us… I'll have Brother Qing live a good life!”

“Then…” the boy spoke a bit timidly, “You said you'd be my wife when you grew up, Hong Feng. When you've become a big hero, will you still marry me?”

The young lady smiled, revealing a small tiger-tooth that wasn't easy to detect. “I will, I will! Wait for me, Brother Qing! When I'm eighteen, I'll come back and be your wife!”

Then they finally left.

The little boy was left along, standing in the wind outside the village, the patchy, worn clothes on his tiny body carelessly flowing in the breeze.

“Ah, I know!” That pretty young boy that had since grown into an exceptionally beautiful man feigned joy as he spoke. “You can be my maid, Hong Feng, I still have a lack of good ones!” He looked at her with eyes as soft as water. “Hong Feng, would you be willing to be my maid, serving me, fetching me tea, and making my bed?”

“Mn,” Hong Feng says lightly. “I am.”

So long as I'm with you, I'd be willing to do anything.

If she can retrieve a bit of something that can no longer be retrieved, then it doesn't matter if it's as a maid.

She deserves better.

[1] 星 (star) 棋 (chess) 双 (two) 宿 (constellation) = Twin Constellations of Heaven's Game. 满(fill) 天 (sky) 星 (star) = Sky-Filling Star. Xingqi might be a pun on xiangqi, which is actual Chinese chess.

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About Qinglian Chronicles Chapter 62 novel

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