Chapter 1: Evil Woman
Outside a small sedan chair on the roadside, a dozen people were fighting.
Durian (Liu Lian) sat inside with a heart rising and falling with the fighting. He couldn’t remember the number of assassinations he suffered along the way, and it was not clear how many of them had been killed. He only remembered that he sat on an ornate gold-plated carriage with more than two dozen riding attendants, and now, besides the four sedan bearers, there were only three men outside who were fighting with the killers.
Durian shifted in the sedan chair, glancing furtively at the woman sitting opposite to him.
The woman sat on the rich embroidery mat with her black hair tied into an inclined double bottom fall bun, her whole body looking lazy. She gazed for a moment through the crack of the window, put down the curtain with impatience, stroked the ruddy bill of the parakeet, and closed her eyes lazily.
Durian bit his teeth and scolded silently in the heart, “Sleep, just sleep, in a short while after they kill everyone outside, it will be your turn.” He felt that he had never suffered so much in his seventeen years of life, not even when he was a street beggar.
Not from the killing outside, from the woman seated in the sedan chair.
You also wouldn’t feel good if you constantly worried about being killed sitting in a sedan chair with a witch every day. This suffering had a deep fear as well as disgust.
Durian had never hated a person so much, and this person was a woman.
“Durian, do you want to go out and practice?” The woman opened her eyes and gazed at him playfully, as if she could see into his mind.
Durian involuntarily had a cold sneeze, sat still, and respectfully replied, “This servant would protect your life even after I die.” He then poured a cup of hot tea and carefully handed it over, “This is the last time I will pour tea for you, Master.”
Qin Jiu did not take the tea and just squinted quietly to Durian. ‘It is said that she usually narrowed her eyes when killing people.’ These words suddenly came to Durian’s head. He couldn’t remember who said that but his hands shook slightly, a chill slowly rising on his back. He gazed fearfully into the opposite eyes.
She had a slightly flying corner of the eye, long and dense eyelashes. When the eyelashes turned up, it seemed to provoke all charm. Left corner of the eye was a smiling red tears mole and sadness in the evil charm.
“Durian is so admirably loyal. For your sake, I don’t want you to go out and die!” Qin Jiu smiled. Her voice was neither clear nor beautiful; it was like an old instrument with a low voice full of loneliness.
Durian relaxed and suddenly felt that his back was all wet. He’d been fooled, but his life was saved for the time being. He knew he was weak in martial arts and if he went out he would be killed. He didn’t want to die and in order to be alive, he had to pander to the witch.
When the fighting finished outside, someone shouted: “Master, all the assassins have been killed!”
Qin Jiu took a sip of tea and said calmly, “Okay, we can go to the city now. Today is the Shangyuan festival, so go straight to Tianmen Street.”
Durian didn’t think Qin Jiu still had the mood to play. In the heart he secretly cursed, “Witch, I will see how you die!”
“Every year during the Shangyuan Festival, the imperial court will issue a royal decree to set off fireworks in front of Qingyun building at the end of Yianmen Street. Lijing is the ancient capital of three dynasties, known as the largest city in the Yuncang mainland. Aristocrats and merchants from many countries far away gather together in Lijing. On such a big day today, you not only see different people from different countries, but also see the precious wool rug from the Great bright kingdom, the precious gems from the kingdom of nirvana, the rare birds and the sharp sword from Ye kingdom. If you are lucky, you can also see the beautiful women from the kingdom of Yunshao.”
Durian had never been to LiJing, hearing of so many lively things he could see he was so excited he forgot the fatigue of the journey and fear of assassination.
“Master, have you ever been to LiJing?” Durian asked curiously.
Qin Jiu glanced at him and said slowly, “When I was a little girl.”
The sedan chair carrier hurried along, finally arriving in Lijing before darkness fell.
They came from Xuande gate and straight into Lijing, went through Deqing square and a few streets, turned at east tower, to Tianmen street.
Qin Jiu opened the curtain and gazed at the crowd and the lantern outside. The cold wind was blowing through the crevice, and she unconsciously wrapped her cloak tightly around her. She was about to put down the curtain when her eyes suddenly caught on a lantern.
“Stop!” Qin Jiu shouted.
It was Durian’s first time in Lijing, and he was interested in everything. Seeing QinJiu desire to get off the sedan chair, it was just what he wanted. He hurried to help her get off.
QinJiu handed her hand to Durian and got off the sedan chair, then went straight to the lantern. She had a nice figure and her body moved gracefully. Wearing a pomegranate red cloak in the crowd, she was particularly conspicuous. The red-mouthed parakeet had already woken up, stopping on her shoulder to look left and right. Durian and the three servants followed her cautiously and the four bearers carried the sedan chair and followed too.
Tonight on Tianmen Street, there were many people, and a lot of lanterns. The whole street was lit like heaven.
Lanterns, trees, gorgeous things blurred together in what was a prosperous time.
There was a restaurant in front of Qin Jiu named Linglong pavilion. There were many colorful lanterns hanging in front of the building with riddles under the lights.
The flower lantern that QinJiu saw was mixed with numerous flower lanterns.
It was a hexagonal lantern, not noticeable at first glance, but it was different from other lanterns if you took a closer look. The person who made the lantern had obviously put a lot of thought into it. The pictures on the silk were not printed or painted, but embroidered.
Six sides of that lantern were embroidered with bamboo, but each side was different. There are bamboos in the wind, rain, fog, moon, sun, and frost.
The rain in the rain bamboo was silk thread woven on white silk, with the lantern lights showing as it was raining, as if you could even feel the wetness. The bamboo in the fog was more ingenious, using a variety of different weaving methods, allowing the whole white silk to show the difference in thickness. This difference was illuminated by the light, thus showing a different shade of fog.
The artistic conception of each painting was different, and the shape of the bamboo was also different. It was hard to imagine that someone could embroider bamboo into so many different styles.
Durian saw that Qin Jiu was attracted by the flower lamp and also took a close look. He couldn’t help staring at the embroidery on the brocade. His family was rich, but had never seen such fine brocade and embroidery before.
“It’s so amazing. This lantern is a real treasure. The imperial capital is really a place full of crouching dragons. The woman who made this is truly an ingenious one!” Durian said.
Qin Jiu sneered, “An ingenious woman? Can you ask the steward where he got this lantern from? And does he sell?”
Durian saw Qin Jiu’s face turned darker, guessing she must be jealous of the woman who made this flower lantern. He was suddenly in a good mood and quickly went to find the steward of Linglong pavilion.
The steward of Linglong pavilion was a young man, who was standing in front of the building to see everyone solving the riddles. After listening to Durian’s words, he waved his hand and apologized, “I don’t want to lie to you. A lot of people have asked about this. Even if you get me tons of money, I cannot sell that to you. You can choose anything except this bamboo lamp.”
Durian wondered, “Why can’t you sell?”
“To tell you the truth,” the steward spoke in a low voice, “this bamboo lamp is not ours. Someone left it here and will pick it up in a moment.”
Not giving up, Qin Jiu asked with a smile, “Who left it here? We can wait, and if he comes, maybe we can buy it from him.”
The steward glanced at Qin Jiu and laughed, “I’ll tell it to you straight. That lantern is definitely not for sale. The owner keeps this to please his sweetheart. In a moment he will bring his sweetheart to buy it. So, you better not wait.”
Durian knew, some rich men would do some strange things to please the one they loved. Paying a high price to buy something they owned to make their sweetheart smile.
Seeing that Qin Jiu didn’t want to leave, Durian tentatively said, “It’s okay for us to wait.”
The steward pointed forward and whispered, “Here he comes.”