Translated by: Niladri
Edited by: Kiki
The next day.
After compensating the inn for their losses, the three waited at the front door for the waiter to bring the horses out. However, the waiter soon walked out with an apologetic expression.
“Esteemed guests, I’m truly sorry.”
It turned out that some poisonous weeds accidentally got mixed with the newly arrived horse feed in the inn yesterday. One of the three horses had the misfortune to eat the particular batch that got mixed with the poisonous weed. When the waiter went to fetch the horse, he found that the horse was lying dead on the ground. As a result, the inn refunded the accommodation fee and the compensation that had barely warmed up in his hands back to Lu Heng's trio.
“Sister Gouma, why don’t you and I ride together?” Fang Qingwan suggested. This was the most appropriate solution. Good horses were rare in Qingyang County and if they bought a bad horse, it wouldn't be able to keep up with their pace.
“No." Naturally, Lu Heng refused. How could he ride with a woman? He didn’t want to ruin her reputation.
However, when he saw Fang Qingwan's dumbstruck expression, Lu Heng suddenly remembered that he was currently disguised as a woman. He just made a random excuse: “I’m sorry, I’m not used to being close to people I’m not familiar with.”
“Dearest Heng, if you don’t mind, how about riding with me?”
Qingyang County was located in the southwest basin, rife with the countryside's picturesque scenery. In late autumn, frost tipped the red autumn leaves. The weeds were starting to turn yellow, their reflections dancing on the beautiful, shimmering creek. Such a landscape, blanketed with fallen leaves, could never be seen in the Miao territory, which had a tropical climate all year around.
Duan Feiqing deliberately slowed down the horse's pace and let Lu Heng enjoy the scenery that was completely different from the Miao territory. Seeing Lu Heng’s face beaming with admiration, Duan Feiqing felt warmth in his heart and whispered in the other person's ear: “There's also beautiful sceneries of the frozen north outside the Great Wall. When these disputes are over, I will accompany you to see them one by one.”
“If I want to see it, I can see it myself.” Lu Heng curled his lips.
Lu Heng felt the chest behind him rumble violently. The warm breath that the man let out when he was laughing caressed the back of his neck, making Lu Heng a little uncomfortable.
In order to better his disguise, Lu Heng used secret methods to control his body shape, making this body as petite as possible. Although he still seemed a lot taller than the average woman, in front of Duan Feiqing, he was more than half a head shorter. Now he was sitting in front of him, almost embedded in the arms of the man behind him. In order to divert his attention, Lu Heng looked around and found that Fang Qingwan was so far ahead that he could barely see her.
“Why is she riding so fast?” Lu Heng looked at the figure riding gracefully ahead of them, baffled. What could be seen of her back was slowly vanishing among the cloud of dust.
“I’ve been away from the sect for a long time. Now, I'm finally returning.”
Lu Heng was trying to say something when a bobcat suddenly flashed past. The passing beast was too close to the horse, startling it into rearing up. Lu Heng, born in Miao territory, was not good at riding, and lost his balance at that moment. Fortunately, Duan Feiqing caught him.
Lu Heng didn’t pay attention to this incident. He was still interested in the roadside scenery and didn't notice Duan Feiqing’s strange expression behind him.
Duan Feiqing protected the man in front of him with one hand and controlled the horse forward with the other hand. Doubts colored his mind. In his haste, his palm had fallen on Lu Heng’s chest. Although Duan Feiqing never had close contact with a woman, he heard the servants talk about going to brothels before when he was at the sect. To summarize, he had learnt that the body of a woman was different from that of a man and her chest was softer.
Duan Feiqing’s palm subconsciously tightened. During that moment of rudeness, he felt that his beloved's chest was as flat as a board and also strong to the touch. Duan Feiqing was a man of meticulous thoughts. He recalled the accident by the Crescent Lake a few years ago and his daily life with Lu Heng. A faint guess arose in his mind.
Lu Heng, like him, was also a man. Duan Feiqing was unexpectedly calm, and there was no anger in his heart for being deceived. He knew that his dear Heng must have suffered.
It's just that he had always regarded Lu Heng as his future wife. Now that he knew his real gender, Duan Feiqing consciously needed to adjust his mentality. As a man, how can you treat him as his wife? If the other person knew about it, he might be filled with rage from embarrassment and break off their friendship.
Every time Duan Feiqing thought about that possibility, he felt like falling into an ice cave. He would never allow this kind of thing to happen. From today on, he will take care of his dearest Heng as his younger brother. In any case, in his heart, the other person was more important than his own life.
Although Duan Feiqing thought like that, when Lu Heng felt tired and leaned into his arms, he felt his heart beat faster as he subconsciously hugged the other person. However, treating another man as a beloved would only be an insult. Duan Feiqing felt like he needed to wake himself up.
Duan Feiqing, who didn’t know that being a cut-sleeve was a thing, fell into endless self loathing.
[T/N: Cut-sleeve means homosexual. There is a whole story about how an emperor, who had a male lover was reluctant to wake him up when he fell asleep on his sleeve and instead chose to cut off the sleeve with his blade instead]
When Fang Qingwan arrived at the foot of the mountain gate, she saw the Third senior martial brother Sang, who was also in the same sect, looking around.
“Little sister, you've finally returned. You really scared our senior martial brother when you snuck out this time.” Sang Jing greeted her, took the reins from Fang Qingwan’s hand and looked behind her.
“What about senior martial brother? Didn’t he go down the mountain to look for you?"
“He’s not looking for me.” Fang Qingwan said in a low voice.
“Ah?” Fang Qingwan’s voice was so low that Sang Jing didn’t hear her clearly. He asked again, but Fang Qingwan refused to answer.
Noticing how Fang Qingwan looked a little depressed, Sang Jing recounted what happened in the sect after she left. "When you left without telling anyone, we were all scared to death. It was still only senior martial brother who stayed calm and took it step by step. At that time, he didn’t panic at all. He guessed that you might have gone to Miao territory through the books you read in your room, then he ordered the disciples to retrace your steps along the south side…"
Sang Jing was a little careless with his words, but after saying it, he didn't feel like anything was wrong. It wasn't that senior martial brother didn't care about junior martial sister. Although junior martial sister never dared to admit it in front of senior martial brother, her admiration for him was as clear as day. He had to admit that senior martial brother was really dense.
“Well, senior martial brother really was concerned about you. When I told him that I had news of you, he was so anxious that he almost tripped over. ” Sang Jing quickly appeased.
[T/N: Bro, he tripped over because of his dear Heng, and not for this rando white lotus]
However, Fang Qingwan didn’t show a trace of joy because of this. She asked in a guarded manner: “What did you say at that time?”
“I said that you and a Miao woman entered the boundary of Qingyang County and immediately, senior martial brother rushed down the mountain to meet you. Since I've come here, I have never seen such a big change in his bearing.” Sang Jing actually thought that he should be able to coax this junior martial sister into a smile. But he didn't know why, Fang Qingwan’s expression grew even worse. After leaving a cursory sentence of wanting to rest first, she hurriedly went across the mountain gate.
The confused Sang Jing tried to catch up and have a look, but then heard the sound of the horse’s hooves. He thought that it must be his senior martial brother came back and turned towards that direction, but the scene he saw rendered him speechless. Unexpectedly, his senior martial brother had come holding a Miao girl in his embrace.
Sang Jing felt that he might not have slept well last night and was having hallucinations. He rubbed his eyes hard and found that the scene did not disappear.
Junior martial sister seemed to have encountered someone in the Miao territory whom senior martial brother owed a romantic-debt when he was young. The Miao girl coming to the sect might mean that she still had feelings for senior martial brother. Otherwise, how could the gentlemanly senior martial brother, who had never been close to a woman, be so affectionate and considerate towards the Miao girl, and put her in his own Songtao courtyard, unable to bear the separation for a moment. Although it was too early to say anything, a wedding might be on the cards.
Two disciples were discussing the rumor that had been spread among the disciples of the sect recently. As soon as they turned around the corridor, they saw the person they were talking about standing at the corner with a plate in his hand.
“Sen-senior martial brother.”
It’s over. Being caught speaking about senior martial brother meant that they might have stay in horse stance for the entire night. The two disciples broke out in cold sweat.
“Hmm.” Duan Feiqing just nodded and walked over.
“Our senior martial brother just now seemed to smile?” A disciple asked his companion in disbelief.
Duan Feiqing pushed open the gate of the Songtao courtyard, and saw Lu Heng sitting under the osmanthus tree in the courtyard, studying something intently.
Lu Heng looked up, saw Duan Feiqing, and smelled the smell of food wafting from the plate in his hand: “You are so slow! I'm starving.”
With a gentle smile, Duan Feiqing put down his plate, se/rved a bowl of glutinous rice dumplings with fermented osmanthus and handed it to Lu Heng: “Yesterday, you said that the sweet scented osmanthus was quite delicious. I remembered that I had pickled some osmanthus wine before, and just went to the cellar to get it. It took me some time. Dear Heng, I have kept you waiting.
“Oh? You had such hobbies? ” Lu Heng tasted a bit of it. The sweet scented osmanthus was fragrant, the glutinous dumplings were soft, the soup was sweet and fragrant, and the faint aftertaste of wine continued to linger.
“Did you forget that when you were in Crescent Spring, you said that you had seen this kind of food in books and wanted to have a taste? Unfortunately, there weren't any sweet-scented osmanthus trees in Miao area.” Duan Feiqing looked at Lu Heng with doting eyes as the other person wolfed down the food in the bowl one spoonful after another. “Since I've come back, every year when osmanthus is in full bloom, I pickle a pot of osmanthus honey, thinking that one day dearest Heng will come and I can make a bowl for you to taste.”
Lu Heng was really a little hungry. After eating the bowl of dumplings, he was satisfied and put down the porcelain bowl in his hand. Duan Feiqing saw a little osmanthus on the side of Lu Heng’s mouth. He raised his hand and tried to wipe it off for him. He stopped in mid air and withdrew it.
No, his Heng is a man. He couldn't treat a man like that. Duan Feiqing put his hand under the table and clutched his robe. However, when he caught sight of his rosy, plump lips and the sweet-scented osmanthus lingering there, he couldn't help but feel an unscratchable itch in his heart. He settled down and handed over a soft handkerchief: “Dearest Heng, you have osmanthus on your lips.”
Lu Heng took the soft handkerchief and wiped his lips randomly. In fact, he had noticed all of Duan Feiqing's weird looks and it wasn't the first time either. This man was acting a little strange these past two days. He kept showing a struggling and contradictory expression but Lu Heng didn't know what he was worrying about. He needed to find a chance to talk to him about it, but first, there was something more important he had to bring up.
“Just now, I cut the Gu open and studied it carefully.” Lu Heng uncovered the silver saucer which was clasped on the stone table. “This method of refining Gu is a little rough, it doesn’t look like it was made by the Miao people. It may also have something to do with my past. “
Lu Heng divulged to Duan Feiqing details regarding the past that Nadolo told him before he died.
“Do you mean that this Gu was probably the result of researching and refining the golden silkworm Gu by the aristocrat young master back then? When Duan feiqing saw Lu Heng narrate this matter, he knew that there was no feelings of father-son kinship with that aristocratic family's master.
“Yeah.” Lu Heng nodded, “Where is Feng Weifang now? I want to see him. I suspect that the person behind the scenes may have known about his situation through the Gu.”
The highly respected leader of Taichu sect was seriously injured. In the duel with his enemies, his meridians were torn, and his martial arts were exhausted. Now he was cultivating himself in Qingyang mountain, and the other matters of the sect were all managed by Duan Feiqing, the leader’s eldest disciple. This is a well-known thing in the world of martial arts.
Niladri: Sorry for the late updates everyone! Work has been really hectic (new project so more workload). And this chappie was so large (approx 2x length) that it was impossible to TL on phone. But daddy dearest has gotten my laptop fixed last week. Also thanks a lot Kiki for helping with the editing (which I was going to procrastinate). Let me know what you think of the chapter in the comment below.
BTW I have been binge-reading some novels to relax and here's one I really loved - https://www.novelupdates.com/series/high-energy-qr-code/
This is quite refreshing and also, the current arc is very intriguing. I love the MC and ML. There's mystery, action, BL and a lot of other good stuff but what mainly hooked me was the "seme protagonist" tag XD which is quite rare. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves world-hopping BL.