Book I The spring day’s apricot flowers scatter above, who is the youth who walks elegant and quick?
Chapter 35 Three Thousand Rich Flower Sword
The sound of weapons clanging together was as constant as the pattering of rain. Because of how difficult it was to turn her head, Chu Yu could only eye it before straining once more to pull at Huan Yuan, flashing him a pained smile. “Stay with me a bit longer. It won’t take long.”
Just as she predicted, after a few flashes of swords and screams of agony, there was the sound of several heavy objects thudding to the ground. Very quickly, someone ran over and grabbed her, preventing her from slipping down further. Yue Jiefei went ahead and rescued Huan Yuan from his difficult situation.
Liu Sang carefully guided Chu Yu to her feet. Seeing the stains on her clothes and her hair that had been shredded slightly, he couldn’t say anything. Tears began to run down his cheeks.
Chu Yu could only react with an awkward grimace. After catching her breath while leaning against Liu Sang, she extended her hand, patting him softly on the head. “What are you crying about? Don’t cry. There’s nothing to cry about anymore.”
She felt exhausted! She had no idea how she had even managed to hold out for that long. It was like she had spent a few days’ worth of energy at once, almost as if even the marrows of her bones had been hollowed out. Now all she could think about was finding some kind of level ground to collapse on.
Thinking of the red cloud she saw earlier, however, forced Chu Yu to turn her head to search for it again. Right now, however, there wasn’t so much as a hint of red above the mountaintop.
“Did someone just come and help us just now?” Chu Yu asked Liu Sang, a hint of uncertainty in her voice. How did they disappear so quickly?
Still sniffling, Liu Sang responded softly. “It was Big Bro Hua. He helped us and left.”
Big Bro Hua?
If that was the kind of name being thrown around, I might as well call myself Flower Lady.*
Chu Yu blinked before turning her head to look at Yue Jiefei with confusion in her eyes, asking silently through her gaze: Liu Sang might call someone Big Bro Hua. You wouldn’t do that to me, right?
Yue Jiefei didn’t disappoint her, instead responding with the truth. “His name is Hua Cuo. His body is somewhat weak, but he still helped us out before going back to the Princess Palace to rest once again.”
Chu Yu stared with a blank look.
She knew the name Hua Cuo. It was the one they talked about in the palace as being an ill boy who needed precious medicines to sustain his life. Back then when she saw information about him, she remembered sighing to herself at how intent Princess Shanyin seemed on diversifying her harem of beauties–not even content to let an ill boy such as this go. Now it seemed that this Hua Cuo was more than just a regular ill boy.
Knowing that asking more would reveal herself, Chu Yu flashed both of them an understanding look before issuing Liu Sang a request in her frail voice that she be taken back to her pavilion.
Sitting in the pavilion and enjoying the soft breath of the mountain wind, Chu Yu recovered some of her strength. Stifling her discomfort, she watched Yue Jiefei turn over and inspect the corpses of the five assassins on the ground. She was shocked to see that aside from a few haphazard scratches, each of them had a wound no larger than the tip of a finger at their throats, on their shoulders, between their brows, and in the middle of their chests. Blood oozed from the wounds and stained the nearby ground red.
Chu Yu gave the matter some thought before turning to Liu Shang, who was bandaging Huan Yuan’s wounds. “Recount the situation from just now.”
Liu Sang of course was willing to do so. From his descriptions, Chu Yu learned that Hua Cuo appeared suddenly, killing the five with extremely skilled swordsmanship. After defeating them, he didn’t linger on his victories, but left as quickly as he came.
Chu Yu was curious. “Hua Cuo’s swordsmanship is that amazing? Even better than Yue Jiefei’s?” Liu Sang and Yue Jiefei had fought the assassins for a while before Hua Cuo put them down instantly. There seemed to be a big gap in their abilities.
Yue Jiefei’s expression stiffened. Without a word he turned around and began to search the next body.
Liu Sang shook his head. “Not necessarily. Big Bro Hua was only able to win so quickly because those assassins were wrapped up in battle by Big Bro Yue and had no attention available to avoid outside attacks. If the two of them actually fought, Big Bro Hua might actually lose, because he doesn’t have the endurance to fight very long, or the strength to win on the battlefield.”
Chu Yu nodded. She finally understood Liu Sang’s logic behind naming. Hua Cuo was Big Bro Hua, Yue Jiefei was Big Bro Yue, Huan Yuan was Big Bro Huan Yuan. By this logic, Rong Zhi had to be Big Bro Rong.
Seeing Liu Sang’s sad face, Chu Yu could guess his thoughts. She ruffled his hair encouragingly. “Liu Sang, you did really well today too! You stopped an assassin, after all.”
Biting his lip, Liu Sang lowered his head in embarrassment. “Thank you, Princess.” Suddenly, he seemed to recall something, and raised his head. A look of lingering fear spread over his face. “It’s fortunate that Brother Rong told me to bring my short sword, or I wouldn’t be able to help you even if I wanted to, Princess.”
All these things, coming one after another. Chu Yu raised her eyebrows. Rong Zhi?
Pushing down the competing thoughts in her mind, Chu Yu smiled at Liu Sang. “What do you plan to do in the future?” He seemed to be quite skilled a swordsman for his age. Whatever misfortunes might come, at least he could hope to get a good job in the future for himself.
Hearing her question, Liu Sang immediately looked up, his tender cheeks red with either excitement or embarrassment. He stared straight at Chu Yu. “I want to be the Princess’s companion when I grow up!”
Chu Yu’s face went green. Had she heard wrong? When Liu Sang only repeated the same thing in an innocent and eager look on his face, she could only swallow her absolute shock.
Without a doubt, Princess Shanying’s cultivation of this young child was successful. Very successful.
Gathering up the scattered checkers, Rong Zhi sent Mo Xiang away from Snow Garden. But he didn’t immediately go back, instead walking around the Princess Palace slowly. Everyone saluted him on the way, and he nodded back at them in respect.
The corner of his mouth remained stiff at the angle of a smile, yet his eyes were deep and silent, without a ripple.
After half a circle around the palace, he slowly turned back, finally stopping before an isolated, quiet yard. The intoxicating scent of medicine filled the yard. It wasn’t from a day or two, but from months and perhaps even years of usage. The plaque on the door looked weather-worn, almost ready to fall. The words adorning it were barely visible: Three Thousand Rich Flower Sword.
Although it was spring, the scenery in the yard looked very barren. Flowers and wood were scattered along the ground, as if a storm had just swept through.
He had just stepped into the yard when he noticed a thin sword stuck in the ground. The sword’s blade seemed stained ever so slightly with red.
A small smile came over Rong Zhi’s face, one that finally entered his eyes. Walking to the half-open door of the main cabin, Rong Zhi called out.
*Hua is also the word for flower in Chinese.