Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch06
Pingting looked miserably at her dinner plate. Unexpectedly, Chu Beijie had not visited her that day but she however, had expected him to come and already prepared many questions for him.
The silence was so awkward that even Lady Hua thought that Pingting was acting strangely. She didn’t boss Pingting around after dinner, letting her retire for the night immediately.
Pingting hadn’t slept at all last night, and even though she was tired, she still could not rest. She opened her eyes wide and stared at the ceiling, her heat thumping madly. She rolled out of bed and peered out of the window.
As expected, there was an extra figure outside Lady Hua’s bedroom’s door.
He had that solemn, mysterious yet arrogant smile and Pingting quietly observed him. At first she tried to convince herself that he was just plain crazy, but after a long time, she decided that she didn’t have the heart to leave him standing there alone.
Chu Beijie was going to stand all night again. He had had a lot of work in the Duke of Zhen-Bei Residence earlier, and when he returned tomorrow he was bound to have even more work. Yet he still came anyway, and he just stood there, thinking of the Lady playing the qin and their conversations, smiling.
He heard footsteps behind him and he turned around. “You again?”
Pingting lowered her eyes. In her hands, there was a chair with a leather cushion. She pointed at Chu Beijie then pointed at the chair.
“I’m not tired, I do not need to sit.”
Her eyes which were probably the brightest in the world, suddenly looked sorrowful, piercing his heart. Those eyes made him feel sad at rejecting her kindness.
She stared at him, anxiety, concern and confusion hidden in her eyes. They challenged him until he finally gave up saying. “Fine, fine. Thanks.”
Her cute eyes suddenly lit up, like there were two rare, glowing pearls in them. It was as if the ice in Chu Beijie’s heart seemed to melt, making him feel very comfortable and that sitting down had been a good choice.
Pingting saw Chu Beijie sit down and turned to leave for her own room.
Chu Beijie watched her while she withdrew to the inner part of the house, perplexed. But he remembered his promise to protect his phoenix and looked away.
After a while, he heard footsteps approach him again. Chu Beijie narrowed his eyes, but did not turn around. As expected, Pingting came back. She put a large plate on the ground. On the plate there were little cups and a jug. It even had some cute snacks on it.
“You sure thought things through.”
Pingting had walked a long way to get the snacks from the kitchen. When she heard him praise her she couldn’t help but smile appreciatively in response.
Her smile slowly came out, however it wasn’t like only her lips was smiling, but it seems like every inch of her face was smiling radiantly. Chu Beijie was suddenly dazed, she was truly beautiful. But when he looked closer, he realised that she was only the mute maid, with two big eyes but nevertheless still rather plain.
He had seen Lady Hua’s portrait, she was beautiful.
Pingting was surrounded in moonlight, and Chu Beijie just stared, as if he was a little drunk. This man has a really strong presence, even here in the Hua Residence. Although he may be sitting in a chair now, his figure is still far bigger than anyone else. Is he a real man? As Pingting stole another look at him, a tiny, annoying voice flicked across her mind, reminding her of her Master.
“Yes, if I ask him about Master right now, would he answer? The moon is mellow and his expression is rather soft. It probably wouldn’t hurt to ask a question or two.”
Chu Beijie’s determined face bumped Pingting back into reality. “Now way, how could I do that? This isn’t just some average man obsessed with love.”
Her thoughts had become a scrambled mess and she quickly remembered her real identity. “Maid Pingting, liar Pingting.”She felt utterly useless and rotten to the core.She abruptly stood up, not caring about Chu Beijie’s gaze, and returned to her own room.
Hiding behind the window she watched Chu Beijie for the whole night again.
The next day Chu Beijie was gone.
But Pingting now hadn’t slept for two whole nights, and her coughing had started again. She even had a fever and was very sick.
Lady Hua knew she was sick and ordered her people to find a doctor. She calmly said, “Take your medicine. I’ll get someone else to serve me for now, so don’t you dare leave this bed today!”
Pingting felt rather light-headed but she knew her health was important. She took Lady Hua’s words to heart, taking her medicine and having a good rest.
When she woke up, the sky was already dark.
Lady Hua had just finished eating dinner and had come to check on her. “You really slept for the whole day, I’d say you do look much better too. Your ‘Dong Dingnan’ came today, but I didn’t dare say a word, so I pretended my throat was sore and sent him away.”
Pingting answered “Huh” and hurriedly sat up, shaking the bed.
“Don’t worry, if he really likes you he will come again.”
Pingting was really upset, as she had missed a good chance to find out more about her Master. Time was rapidly passing and she still had no idea when she could get back to the Jing-An Ducal Residence. Most importantly, the longer she stayed at the Hua Residence, the more her heart went wild, as if spiralling out of control.
She felt as if she were in quicksand. It wasn’t good to move but it wasn’t good to stay still either.
Lady Hua didn’t know what she was thinking so she assumed that Pingting was still slightly agonising from her headache. She told her other maids to bring Pingting some food and medicine and then she quietly left.
That night, Chu Beijie came again. He was still standing outside Lady Hua’s bedroom, but he was listening intently to his surroundings. The mute maid’s figure seemed to circle and circle around him but whenever he tried to grab it, it would disappear. Chu Beijie wasn’t very happy with himself, aren’t I here to protect my phoenix? He felt disappointed not to be loyal to the person he liked but unfortunately for him, he could just not forget the maid’s eyes.
Those shiny pupils that seemed to silently convey a thousand words.
He once again heard footsteps and a happy tune floated in his mind. He turned around eagerly. Suddenly his face darkened, “What’s wrong?”
Pingting was taking slow steps, as if she was going to collapse any time. Chu Beijie held out his hand, then grabbed her wrist to steady her.
Her hand was abnormally warm.
“You’re sick?” he asked.
Pingting shook her head rapidly, trying to hide the tears in her eyes. She had spent a long time being alone and although Lady Hua, Mrs Hua and Mother Chen had all been worried about her, she had never felt happier listening to the short question this person had just asked her.
Those two words were enough to comfort her.
She gave a small smile and Chu Beijie saw her sad little dimples. That sight captured Chu Beijie’s heart. He had completely forgotten about his beloved phoenix. He rushed forward, and collected her in his arms protectively.
“Is that your room?” He asked.
Pingting nodded. She wanted to protest but instead she bit hard on her lip.
Chu Beijie carried her swiftly to her room.
“Go rest. It is very late and you’re sick. Doesn’t your Lady look after you?” He went into her room and placed Pingting gently on the bed.
He always did what he what he wanted, and cared nothing for gender customs. He clumsily tucked Pingting into bed, before straightening up.
“Sleep.” He watched the eyes he liked, closed. His voice had lost its usual colour and the way he told Pingting to go to sleep was more like the everyday voice he used to command his soldiers.
Pingting, however, only felt comforted by it. She closed her eyes obediently but opened them after a while.
Chu Beijie was thinking of leaving when he realised that this ‘soldier’ had not listened to him. “Close your eyes, go to sleep.”
Pingting suddenly felt amused, it reminded her of teasing her Master. She opened her eyes again and stared quietly at Chu Beijie.
Chu Beijie suddenly felt his heart speed up upon meeting her gaze and a feeling he had never felt before flooded through him. It was even happier than the pleasure and rush he felt on the battlefield.
He wasn’t too pleased about this, because as the Duke of Zhen-Bei, he’d been through all sorts of situations and was always been able to have what he wanted. It was like one of his heart’s muscles had been torn, leaving him with heavy breathing.
The little mute on the bed was undoubtedly a beauty; ignoring her face, nose and mouth. She had an incomparable elegance which no one else had and that was what made her beautiful.
“Close your eyes.” Chu Beijie cleared his throat, “I’m going out.”
Pingting felt rather disappointed but this time she really close her eyes.
Chu Beijie was a true gentleman, he really went out.
Another night. Tougher than last night; tougher than the night before.
Pingting only fell asleep in the morning and she slept until noon. Lady Hua hurried in and whispered in her ear, “Do you know who Dong Dingnan is?”
Pingting heart thumped a little.
“I’ll tell you, he is Dong Lin’s Duke of Zhen-Bei! I saw his portrait yesterday but oh God, he’s the mighty Duke of Zhen-Bei!”
Pingting suddenly paled, her body gave out twice before she managed to prop herself up with difficulty.
The Duke of Zhen-Bei? Dong Dingnan, that was the guy who sat vigil at night, the man who carried her was the Duke of Zhen-Bei — A duke of Dong Lin, Dong Lin’s strongest warrior, Gui Le’s enemy and Master’s scariest opponent.
Lady Hua must have thought this was a miracle and kept on praising Pingting. She then patted her on the shoulder, saying, “Hong, we’re like sisters, so you will help me right?”
“It’s easy, I’ve already sent Mrs Hua to pass a letter onto the Duke of Zhen-Bei. It says that Lady Hua is currently engaged and not a free woman. It says that if he is willing to exert his authority and cancel my marriage, it will be easier to carry things out in the future.” Lady Hua looked pleased at herself, “This time Father won’t protest against it and when my marriage is cancelled, I’ll tell the Duke of Zhen-Bei the truth. I’ll even give you a good wedding dress. Oh yeah! You can have my wedding dress.”
Pingting’s face clouded halfway through Lady Hua’s chattering. “Are…are…you crazy? The Duke of Zhen-Bei is much stronger, ten times stronger, than your family. If he finds out that we’ve been lying to him, the people of the Hua Residence will be in deep trouble.” She was still very sick so she couldn’t emphasise how serious this was.
Lady Hua took no notice, “He likes you. I’m sure he won’t mind the fact that you borrowed my identity.”
“It’s not like that!” Pingting grabbed her, “Tell Mrs Hua not to send the letter.”
Lady Hua felt a little scared seeing Pingting so angry. Her head drooped in shame, “But Mrs Hua just came back, she even told me the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s response.”
“What did he say?”
“He said, tomorrow, Lady Hua will be free again.”
Lady Hua saw Pingting’s strange expression and she pouted. “I need to practice qin, talk to you tomorrow.” Then she left.
Pingting stared into space for a while, until she re-organised the events in her head.
“No way, the Duke of Zhen-Bei, he really was the Duke of Zhen-Bei….” Pingting thought deeply for a moment, then the light in her eyes flashed, showing that she’d made her final decision. “I still haven’t found Master, I can’t be bound here for no reason. As for Hua Residence…good luck.”
She somehow managed to get up and pack up her belongings. She felt rather heartless when she thought of how kind the people of Hua Residence had been to her. No matter what though, she still had to go. She was in Dong Lin, the enemy’s country, and if the Duke of Zhen-Bei ever found out her real identity, the Hua family would in even more trouble than before.
She went through a rarely used back door and no one noticed. Just like that, Pingting had left the Hua Residence behind.
That night she stayed at a restaurant. She was probably used to seeing Chu Beijie sit vigil as she could not fall asleep, leaving her thoughts to repeatedly torment her throughout the night.
What was truly worrying however was the fact that her coughing was getting worse. One cough after the other, no sign of it getting any better.
The city was very quiet, the next day. She was too sick to go outside so she asked one of the staff about the outside world, but apparently nothing notable had happened.
She coughed another night away. On the morning of the third day, the worker gave her some boiling water. “Something big happened last night! The rich Hua family, for some reason, has made the Duke of Zhen-Bei so angry that he has ordered all of them to be beheaded.”
Pingting was suddenly alert but she tried hard not to look too interested. “What? All of them are to be beheaded?”
“I don’t know what has made the Duke of Zhen-Bei so angry.” The worker sighed, “The Hua family must have done something extremely shameful to deserve something like this. Our Duke of Zhen-Bei is actually very kind.”
Pingting hadn’t heard the last two comments. She had guessed that Chu Beijie would be very angry, but she hadn’t expected him to sentence so many people to death.
Chu Beijie’s strong yet stubborn face crossed her mind and she closed her eyes. Yes, she had always known that he could not be trusted. He may be a gentleman, but when it came to war, he was the bloodiest demon ever. Pingting had heard about the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s cruelty and the blood shed from Gui Le soldiers was more than enough to flow a river.
“Is he going to kill all of the people of Hua Residence?” Pingting stared at the table and chair in front of her, which was slowly blurring away with her tears. She shook her head, “No way…”
Even if the Duke of Zhen-Bei destroyed ten big families like the Hua family, the people of Dong Lin wouldn’t protest at all.
Sir Hua, Lady Hua, Mrs Hua, Mother Chen, You’er, Zi Hua….all of these people’s heads would be cut off, leaving a bloody mess. Pingting chest tightened, like she was about to vomit.
“No, I can’t just sit and watch them die.” She gripped the sides of the bed, slowly pulling herself up.
The Zhen-Bei Ducal Residence was even more solemn than usual and two lines of guards stood outside. The maids serving inside were walking on their tiptoe and if anyone had an itchy throat, they had to secretly go to a place far from the Duke and cough there.
Even Chu Moran, who was usually so calm, was sweating while standing inside his office.
Chu Beijie looked up from his official papers, “You’re hot?”
“Wipe the sweat off your face then.”
Chu Beijie wasn’t quite as flustered as Pingting had imagined.
Two days ago, he had dealt with Lady Hua’s fiancé’s household to undo the Lady’s engagement. He had spent the whole night preparing for the Lady but when he visited her again, she had told him the truth. He hadn’t rolled his eyes, hadn’t yelled at them and hadn’t lost his temper either. He just stood in front of Pingting’s room for a little while and then left.
Back then, Lady Hua had thought the danger had already passed. She had smiled innocently at the housekeeper, saying, “Well I was right wasn’t I? The Duke of Zhen-Bei is a really kind person, Hong was really worried for no reason.”
Back in the Residence, Chu Beijie had sat down and slowly sipped a cup of hot tea. Chu Moran stood at one side, trying to keep his breathing quiet, for he knew that his Master was beyond cross. He was extremely angry.
As expected, after the cup of hot tea he quietly ordered, “Tomorrow, at sunset, execute the entire Hua family in front of this Residence.”
Finally hearing Chu Beijie’s voice, Chu Moran sighed in relief. “Yes.”
“Don’t miss out on anyone, even the dog,” Chu Beijie added.
Now the sun was about to set. All members of the Hua Residence were bound and crying. The guillotine’s blade had been sharpened, as if waiting for the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s command to chop its victim’s sleek neck.
“Duke,” Chu Moran looked at the sky, “It’s about time.”
“It’s time?” Chu Beijie looked around, and it was unnaturally silent. He looked at the sky, yet the miracle he was hoping for had not occurred. His face turned stone cold and an unusual bloodthirsty sneer appeared on his face. “Execute them.”
But before his words could be registered, they were replaced with soft music. The luxurious sound bounced off the walls of the Ducal Residence, through the windows and into Chu Beijie’s ears.
“When there is trouble, there are heroes…. when there are heroes there are beautiful women. Surviving the turmoil, surviving the turmoil…” It was faint, but it was definitely the song back then. He couldn’t help smiling at the warm and pleasant tone…
“If there are soldiers, there will be fame; if there is fame, there will be fraud; soldiers know fraud, soldiers know fraud…”
The qin’s sound was very pleasant to hear. At times it would be as delicate as a spider’s thread, other times it would appear like a soaring bird, high up into the clouds, but other times flying low, just above the grassy plains below.
The corners of Chu Beijie’s mouth lifted.
Chu Moran was too amazed at the amazing sound and had only just remembered to pass on his Master’s order. But he suddenly heard Chu Beijie say, “Don’t kill them yet. Bring the girl who’s playing that qin into my Residence.”
Soon Chu Beijie’s eyes landed upon the jet-black iris he loved yet hated at the same time.
This time her eyes were trained on him, not angrily, not mischievously, not scared nor even pleased. Pingting just watched him and humbly bowed. “I am here, Duke.”
Chu Beijie was surprised to hear the familiar voice from behind the blinds. He pursed his lips.
Narrowing his eyes at her, he said, “Today my perception of life seems to have widened. You are the Lady and the maid. You are mute yet you can sing. If there is anything else you can do let me see it.”
The Duke of Zhen-Bei’s voice was threatening, which was usually enough to make the bravest of warriors shake, yet she was neither angry nor afraid.
Pingting smiled, pretending to look hurt, “Duke is angry?”
Chu Beijie harrumphed coldly, asking a question instead, “I’m assuming you fully understand that ‘soldiers know fraud’ meaning; that while sometimes fraud leads to victory, fraud can also lead to disastrous defeat?”
“The victor will always decide the fate of the defeated.” Pingting’s face turned serious and she sighed, “If so, then feel free to punish me, Duke.” She bowed her head.
Chu Beijie secretly smiled at her bowed head. He grabbed the jade pendant on the table and slowly thumbed it. “I know what your point is, you don’t want the Hua family to be destroyed. I guess that’s a pretty good conscience for a maid. Fine, I’ll forgive the Hua family for now, but…” He thought for a moment and coldly said. “You must stay here.”
“Stay in the Ducal Residence and serve Duke?”
Chu Beijie mused, “Or do you plan to be my duchess or something?”
Without another word, she slowly bowed at him.
- Black eyes: In some parts of China, it’s considered that the darker they are, the better one looks. But usually it’s just a ‘very dark brown’ that is similar to the pupils in shade. Elegant Destroyer (proofreader/assistant) supposes it’s rather like obsidian because it’s so dark it reflects tiny bits of colour.
- Marriage: In China, traditional clothes are usually red. This includes most orient countries, such as India and Pakistan.
- Real man: It’s said that men are best when they’re gentlemen (polite etc.), well-educated and strong.