Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch13
The wild yet fresh grass was just as pretty as Yangfeng claimed.
She had finally reached Bei Mo. A world of nature stretched before her, perhaps it was because of the proud mountains or maybe the passing of winter and the feeling of spring was much stronger than back in the South. In the midst of the lush green forest, energetic-looking shrubs dazzled in the sunlight.
A clear stream ran from the top to the bottom of the mountain.
Some other people had tied their horses to a tree and were busy filling their sacks with the clear water.
A slightly cold breeze enveloped her petite body which wasn’t particularly pretty, but somewhat gaunt. Her eyes gleamed brighter than black crystals. She touched her forehead briefly before galloping away, her eyes never leaving the distance.
Far away, shepherds were sang while gathering up their stock.
“An eagle flies, the sky is higher. Ah, beautiful girl, chasing young foals on the grasslands…”
Pingting couldn’t help but laugh as she grabbed the sac of water from her waist.
So cold. It must be melted ice from the mountain tops.
She playfully sipped again, and this time she closed her eyes too. So sweet.
Nearly there. The tiring yet worthwhile impression people usually had was at the back of her mind but all she could think about was her close friend’s hiding place. Choosing an old tree, she leaned on it to rest before closing her eyes.
Yangfeng’s choice to escape everything no matter what, was that a good choice? In half a day, she’d be able to know the answer.
What about the path Pingting chose? Going to Bei Mo wasn’t a bad idea as it did have blue sky and green grass. Maybe she was suited to such places, among the rough but pure and honest folks, among the less calculating people.
Gurgling water, magnificent green mountain.
Her eyes were still closed when she heard footsteps approach her.
Someone’s there? Pingting opened her eyes. Another traveller was apparently admiring the view, the reins of his horse in his hands.
A man with broad shoulders, the sword that hung from his waist and the bow on his back seemed to be things he deemed important. It was difficult to tell his age due to his beard, but his eyes were bright.
When he realised that there was already someone else there, in particular a big eyed girl, he looked a bit stunned.
“Nice horse.” The man wasn’t interested in Pingting herself but her horse, as his eyes were genuinely appreciative.
Pingting smiled, untied her horse, time to go.
“Miss, are you willing to sell it?” His voice was loud, definitely a man of the grasslands.
He was right. This horse was one of the very best, even in Jing-An Ducal Residence. Dongzhuo, that guy, was quite nice, as he had chosen a good horse and had given a lot of money to Pingting.
“Not selling.” She jumped onto her horse casually, trying to get over her joy. Pingting closed her eyes for several seconds before opening them again. “Mister, Petal Cottage is ahead right?”
“You’re going to Petal Cottage?”
“Do you live in Petal Cottage?”
“No, I’m just looking for someone.”
The man laughed, “That cottage is abandoned. You won’t find anyone there.”
“They moved?” Pingting was surprised, “Why move? Where did they go?” Suddenly her thoughts were muddled. Yangfeng would never move unless something happened.
Pingting decided that Yangfeng hadn’t contacted her new location due to safety reasons, but this only made her more concerned about her friend.
“They moved only recently.”
“Where did they move to?”
“Hey, Miss, sell me this horse.” Good horses were just as important to shepherds as the girl they liked.
A corner of Pingting’s mouth lifted. “Do you know what happened to Petal Cottage? What’s your name?”
“I’m A-Han. Now, are you going to sell your horse or not?”
She jumped off her horse and thrust the reins into his waiting hands. “I’ll give it to you for no charge. All I want to know is what happened to my friend.”
A-Han shook his head violently. “I don’t want something without giving anything back in return.” He took out enough silver to buy two good horses and gave her the coins. “I’ll tell you this; the landlord of Petal Cottage is an important person! He’s the famous General Ze Yin! Who would’ve thought he had a small cottage in the mountains? But since the King has sought him out, given him more rewards and made him govern Bei Mo, he decided to move out of the mountains. Everyone else who had been living in the mountains has gone as well.”
“Really?” Pingting frowned, pondering. She threw back A-Han’s money. “Take this. I’ll use it to buy your horse. After all, I do need one. She ought to have changed to a horse without the House of Jing-An security imprint a long time ago.
“No, my horse isn’t that good. I can’t take advantage of things like this.”
Pingting untied his horse and jumped on it, then turned back towards him, winking cheerfully. “Tall guy, save up some money and marry a good wife. You’re a good person!” She gently whipped her new horse, leaving peals of silvery laughter behind.
The cool air of the grasslands was enough to brighten her mood, the freshly cut grass smell was incomparable to that of Gui Le and Dong Lin. The shepherds continued their lively songs, which echoed in Pingting’s ears.
“My beloved prairie, these cows and horses, the stream that flows through the young blades of grass. All this, cannot be compared to my beautiful girl…”
Pingting smiled, but it did little to conceal her worried frown.
Ze Yin, the mighty general of Bei Mo, hadn’t he promised to make Yangfeng happy no matter the cost? Yet now he had decided to answer the Bei Mo King by returning into the political world; what did that mean?
Originally, she would only need half a day by horse, until she would be able to see Yangfeng, at Petal Cottage. But now, it seemed that she’d have to go even further into Bei Mo’s capital ── to Bei Yali.
“You won’t even let me have a few days of happiness?” Pingting wrinkled her nose up at the sky. Travelling alone had given Pingting the habit of talking to herself.
Is it really a good thing that the House of Jing-An is no longer a part of me? What about Dong Lin? Sigh, Chu Beijie…
Unconsciously she started to frown. Her fingers slowly rubbed her eyebrows as if they were rubbing away the pain she felt.
Learning how loud the people of the grasslands shouted, she brought down the whip hard. Dust came again as the graceful figure got smaller and smaller into the distance.
Dust and sunset; where were the heartbroken people?
I hope the sky has a soul, one that will give both grass and forgiveness. No matter where I go, I hope happiness follows.
Bei Mo’s general, Ze Yin, only returned back to the political world after being summoned three times by the King.
It wasn’t like that the Bei Mo King didn’t value Ze Yin.
Back then, his reputation was someone young and brave, the idol of the naïve Bei Mo King, but then he suddenly decided to retire and gave up his promising future for a reason he refused to say.
“Must be love,” guessed the Bei Mo King.
It wasn’t just a saying that men often chose beautiful women over their country.
Ze Yin had stood before the Bei Mo King, his lips playing into a carefree smile. His smile was so innocent that the King of Bei Mo wondered if he really would be able to keep Bei Mo’s best general by his side.
When a man falls in love, nothing will stop him from wanting to do stupid things.
The Bei Mo King couldn’t help but nod.
And now, Ze Yin was back.
The news of Bei Mo’s favourite general returning to protect the country was bound to bring joy and pleasure to all of the people.
Bei Yali had been a scene of joy and song as Ze Yin entered the city, leading the other residents of Petal Cottage. He was not only greeted by the Bei Mo King himself but he had also been greeted by the eager cheers of thousands upon thousands of peasants.
The newly designed residence was already waiting for Ze Yin, decorated and glittering brilliantly.
Yangfeng was in the most magnificent building, listening to the chatter that still managed to flow through the thick walls. Ze Yin was summoned back into the political side. She was pleasantly surprised to find herself being visited by an old friend.
The maid at the door refused to notify her name and Yangfeng’s eyes were so big that they looked as if they were going to fall.
“How long are you going to stare at me?” Pingting was sitting on a chair, smiling as she said this.
“Long time no see, so why won’t you let me have a good look at you?” Yangfeng gave a faint sigh, stretching towards Pingting, her fingers as white as ivory. “Pingting, come here. Let me have a good look at you.”
Pingting grinned and laughed, “Yes sir, my General…no, wife of a General.” She walked towards Yangfeng, sitting down on the bed beside her.
The two pairs of equally intelligent eyes stared into each other, the reflection of each other perfectly imprinted inside them.
“You’ve lost some weight.”
Pingting couldn’t help but smile, “You’ve become prettier.”
“I really missed you; I just can’t stop thinking of our childhood. I can’t really talk to anyone else apart from you.”
“Yangfeng…” Pingting interrupted, “Why didn’t you ask about it?”
“Ask?” Yangfeng’s smile wavered slightly, so she lowered her head. “I…don’t dare ask. Why would you leave your Master, unless for some unspeakable reason? That reason must be very, very scary.”
Like the rumbling of a drum, Pingting chuckled. “It’s really quite thrilling when you think about it. Play a song for me and I’ll tell you everything from the start.”
The qin was on the small table beside the bed. Yangfeng looked at her, deep in thought. She picked up the qin, fingertips lightly touching a string.
Her heart fluttered at the inaudible but existing sound of a plucked string. The pressure, the sadness, in her heart jumped up, breaking through the walls she had built over her emotions.
“Yangfeng!” Pingting cried, flying into the arms of Yangfeng, tears flowing down her cheeks.
Let the tears flow down and into the earth. This wasn’t Gui Le, nor was it Dong Lin. The person who made her sad wasn’t here nor was the person who made her soulless here.
How was she supposed to forget that beautiful winter day, that gentle night, that tall figure, or the crystal-clear memories of living in the Residence for the last eighteen years?
How was she supposed to make Yangfeng realise that she had fallen in love with a man? She loved him but then hurt and lied to him. She even made the decision to leave him even if it meant death, only to realise that she could no longer return to the Jing-An Ducal Residence?
Today, under Yangfeng’s solemn eyes, Pingting was finally able to cry out the pain she felt, and they came out like peas being poured out of a bag.
Under this sky, perhaps only Yangfeng understood her heart.
Pingting just cried without speaking, leaving Yangfeng to guess what had happened. It had to be something to do with love, or else Pingting wouldn’t be so upset.
But who had the ability to make arrogant Pingting fall in love?
“What’s his name?” Yangfeng patted her hair.
Pingting was still tearful as she clenched her teeth, her words full of pain. “Chu. Bei. Jie.”
Dong Lin’s Duke of Zhen-Bei? Yangfeng looked slightly inattentive, but then she sighed again, softly saying, “Cry. Have a good cry.”
The walls did not close as Pingting collapsed again into Yangfeng’s arms, tears dripping.
“Yangfeng, I’m now finally…” Pingting sluggishly pulled herself up but then suddenly stopped as she felt something rise in her throat. She shrieked a “waah” as she coughed up red blood.
“Pingting!” Yangfeng stood up, staring at her dyed-red clothes. “Come! Someone, come!”
And so, after her big cry, she got sick again.
Only yesterday , she had been thinking that she wouldn’t be so lonely anymore.
Pingting’s sickness was back.
Way more intense and dangerous than before.
Thanks to the service readily available at the Residence though, immediate treatment was given to her. Under Ze Yin and Yangfeng’s care, Pingting slowly got better again.
After couple days of rest, Pingting was able to sit up again. Her big cry had done her good as her chest was no longer always in pain, and although she was very sick, she recovered faster than previous times.
“You’re looking better,” said a voice from a familiar figure on the other side of the blinds. Yangfeng came in, laughing. “The doctor says that you’ll be able to get out of bed in two days. My, you sure scared me.”
“Come, sit here.” Pingting patted a spot beside her on the bed.
Yangfeng sat before taking out a hairpin to which she carefully inserted into Pingting’s hair. Studying her, she said, “This is what the King gave Ze Yin, I didn’t look that good wearing it so I’ll give it to you.”
Pingting checked herself in the mirror that Yangfeng brought. “Did you bring it to me deliberately?” Pingting paused again, asking, “Does the General know where I come from?”
“He didn’t ask,” Yangfeng replied. “As long as you’re my friend, he will protect you, but…” The face that was slightly plumper saddened. “He’s about to lead his troops out of the capital.”
The atmosphere was suddenly gloomy like heavy clouds covering the sun in summer.
Pingting took the mirror out of Yangfeng’s hands, put it on the bedside table, but didn’t say anything.
Yangfeng said, “We were always close. I didn’t lose to you in qin, but I am absolutely inferior to you when it comes to scheming.”
Pingting forced her lips into a smile, “You were always arrogant. When did you humble up so much?”
“I’m just a little clever, someone who lives among walls, surrounded by her husband’s people whether it be in Petal Cottage or in the General’s Residence. When it comes to military affairs, you are the one who represents all women.” Yangfeng’s deep black eyes drilled into Pingting before softly asking, “Why does the Bei Mo King suddenly want Ze Yin to regain military power? Ze Yin isn’t greedy for money or fame unless Bei Mo is in big trouble. He wouldn’t sacrifice everything and bring me here, despite his oath. I don’t understand, Pingting, can you tell me what’s going on?” Yangfeng stressed on every syllable.
Life outside the window was full of life, but the room was a deathly quiet.
Pingting was silent; her head was bowed.
Yangfeng’s inquiring eyes blazed towards her head. Sometime later, Pingting appeared to be tired as she lifted her head and leaned on a soft pillow. With a wry smile, she said, “Chu Beijie fell into a trap, and was forced to leave his sword. He vowed not to attack Gui Le in the next five years. Dong Lin’s King wants to conquer all lands, and since Gui Le is currently an impossible feat, it’s natural that he’d change his target. Basically, does this means Dong Lin has already started to attack Bei Mo?”
“Yeah,” Yangfeng frowned wearily, “These days, Ze Yin is always talking about Chu Beijie, Dong Lin’s best general, the Duke of Zhen-Bei…these days people call him the Demon King from the depths of Hell. A lot of people have already died in his hands.”
Her eyes stared into Pingting and then her lips slowly rose into a soft and flowery smile. “Don’t worry, we don’t have any control over men’s things. I really don’t understand why they’re always trying to expand the King’s territory. Is having a lasting impression really that important? Ze Yin is going soon so I want to spend some more time with him these days.” She stood up, her hands pressing gently against Pingting’s shoulders. “You’ve only just gotten better, so lie down a bit more. If it gets boring here, ask some the maids to go outside and pick some flowers for you. If you have any problems, send someone to find me.”
Yangfeng left through the bead curtain. The sudden tinkling sound seemed to upset Pingting as she frowned.
It seemed like there was a huge trap in every direction, one that people could not escape from.
And it was something terrible.