Chapter 2: Take His Lamp
Qin Jiu looked down the street in the direction of the man’s finger.
Tianmen Street was a relatively wide street in Lijing, which could accommodate eight horse carriages. However, it seemed it wasn’t wide enough for a busy day like today. Carriages were shuttling, people were bustling, horses were running, royal people and common people alike in the streets, and people from different countries wearing different clothes passed by.
Qin Jiu saw the man amongst the stream of people.
There was one kind of person in the world that you could see from the crowd wherever he went.
He was standing in front of a lotus lamp, looking at it from her side. He was very tall and wore a blackriding outfit. The coat was embroidered with dark flowers in gold thread, which glowed and looked highly imposing under the light. He wore black leather boots with a knife at his waist, a black-gold horse whip wrapped around his hand, shining under the lamp.
The dim light of the lotus lantern revealed his side profile, full forehead, and straight nose; a very young and handsome face. He looked back, as if sensing someone was watching. His eyes were deep, revealing a coolness and sharpness that didn’t match his age.
Durian was also looking at the man; he focused on him for a long time, confused. Such a charming young man still needed to do all this to make his sweetheart laugh? What a proud woman in Lijing! He looked back and saw Qin Jiu staring at the man.
‘The witch liked this man?’ he thought. If that’s the case, it was a good thing since she wouldn’t be interested in him anymore. However, he felt sorry for that man.
Could such a cold man smile?
At the same time he thought that, the man smiled to the front.
Durian has never seen a man with such a nice smile!
The soft light of the lotus lanterns glowed with the gentle smile on his face, warming people’s hearts.
Qin Jiu moved her eyes and saw in front what he was looking at. A young man came out from the crowd.
He was tall and slender, dressed in a long gown embroidered with white peonies and wrapped in a white fur coat. He had an ink-hair bun with a white jade hairpin. His skin was white and he looked absolutely gorgeous. His whole body was like a jade carving, with a natural and cold charm. He seemed to have solved a lot of riddles, holding five or six lanterns he won in his hand, laughing happily.
The man in the dark suit went up, took the lantern in his hand, gave it to the man behind him, and smiled: “Let’s go to Linglong Pavilion”.
The young man smiled more joyfully and walked straight towards the Linglong pavilion.
The man followed steadily.
Durian looked at them; he had no idea that the man’s sweetheart was a man, too.
The two men had passed by him and were heading straight for the lantern in front of Linglong pavilion. Durian smelled fragrance going to his nose.
Qin Jiu looked at the man in the peony embroidered clothes and saw his eyes passing by the lantern, then suddenly focusing on the bamboo lantern.
“This bamboo lamp is really unique!” The young man in a fur coat stared at the bamboo lantern.
Qin Jiu coldly sneered.
She had already known that the young man dressed with peony embroidery was actually a young woman. Qin Jiu could easily figure this out because this woman did not really want to dress up as a man. No man’s face could be so white; no man could have such a delicate waist and beautiful voice.
This kind of appearance could only fool a three-year-old child and Durian.
A few years ago, the young women of Lijing used to dress like men and treated it as a thing of elegance. If you didn’t dress up as a man, you would wear a veil over your face. People thought that women like Qin Jiu with no veil over their faces were from the bottom of society or prostitutes.
“Like it?” asked the man in grey.
The woman in a fur coat nodded and touched the bamboo lamp gently as if caressing the treasure.
“If you like it, I’ll get it for you.” The man in grey lowered his head and said softly, turning to ask the man in Linglong pavilion, “How can I get this bamboo lamp? By figuring out a riddle?”
The man in charge smiled and bent down, “It is not a secret that this lantern is a rare treasure. By the rules set by the owner, as long as someone can shoot the string of the hanging bamboo lamp 300 steps away, this bamboo lamp will belong to him. You can give a try; so far nobody could do it!”
“Three hundred steps? Is it too far?” the woman in fur asked.
The man in grey smiled, “Don’t worry, it’s not a problem for me. Please give the bow to me and I will give a try!”
The man said OK and took out his bow and arrows.
“I also like this bamboo lantern very much! Since there is a rule, can we also try?” Qin Jiu stepped forward to say.
Under the dim light, a garnet dress outlined her gorgeous figure, the raven black buns drooped low to show her delicate face with a charming smile in her soft eyes.
The man in charge was somewhat surprised and did not expect that the woman was so attached to the bamboo lantern. Knowing the lantern belonged to the man in grey and that he was doing this to please his sweetheart, she still demanded it. He looked at the man in grey and didn’t know what to do.
The man in grey was also somewhat surprised; he did not expect that someone would fight with him for the lantern. His eyebrow slightly went up as he slowly turned his head and saw Qin Jiu in the crowd. He looked at her with his cold eyes full of sharpness like a knife.
“No problem, if you like it too, we can compete. I will let you go first,” said the man in grey. Durian was also surprised and did not expect Qin Jiu to do that.
The bustle here attracted people’s attention. Someone recognized the identity of the man in grey and said in a low voice, “Where did this woman come from? She wants to compete with His Highness Anling?”
The King of the country today didn’t have a lot of kids– only two princes and one princess. The eldest son Yan Min was His Highness Kangyang. The second son, Yan Su, was His Highness Anling. He was unknown until he was fifteen, but had his first debut in the criminal department and solved a big case, making him well-known in the court. However, he really became famous when he was 18. That year, Zhang Cheng, the vassal king of Western Xinjiang rebelled against the King. He was ordered to lead the army against Zhang Cheng.
He killed Zhang Cheng with his bow and arrow. From then on, His Highness Anling was famous for his archery.
Yet today, Qin Jiu wanted to compete with him. There was no doubt she would lose. Besides, three hundred steps was the farthest range of a bow and arrow in general, and it would be extremely difficult to shoot a string at the farthest range.
Durian didn’t think that the three servants Loquat, Cherry and Lychee could do it. Of course, he also didn’t think Qin Jiu could do it either. He then heard Qin Jiu say, “Durian, stand under the bamboo lantern.”
“Why?” asked Durian.
“If I hit the string, the lantern would fall, you can just catch it.” Qin Jiu smiled and picked up the bow.