Editor: Areth Kyntaul
Liu Shan Men’s City Manager
The atmosphere became really awkward.
Princess Hongzhuang isn’t a girl of many words. My confession made her speak even less.
She was now walking in front silently, while an insolent man who had delusions for her was silently following behind her. She was very vigilant of the man.
‘Why is it that I’m an insolent man, if not a pervert, when I meet this Princess…?’
The Princess frowned and took a step back. She watched me with suspicion. She was one step away from saying ‘Insolent pervert. How dare you tease this Princess on the streets? Why not go hang yourself?’
“No… I was trying to say that we’ve arrived.”
Princess Hongzhuang was looking for Lord San Shen.
‘Of course, I can’t click anybody into existence for her out of thin air.’
‘The simplest and most direct approach would be for me to throw on some makeup, wash off my hair dye and make an appointment to meet her. But it wouldn’t be reasonable if it was so easy. Not to mention, it would be impossible to convince her.’
‘How am I supposed to explain to her that I managed to find a leader of the Demon Sect so easily when I’m a disciple of Mount Daluo? She might even suspect me of trying to fool her, for all I know.’
‘Secondly, the hair dye removal solution is very expensive, too!! Yes, it’s true that Lao Dai runs the pharmacy, but the stuff in the medicine warehouse is reserved for the royal family. Not even he can just take them for his own use. He was nearly apprehended just a few days ago. I can’t get him in trouble.’
‘That’s why I have to put on an act and pretend to take her around to search for information first.’
This is our destination. This is the where most of the people from the west reside in the capital.
Princess Hongzhuang couldn’t help but sigh softly when we arrived.
All we saw was skin, appearances, and people dressed totally unlike locals, or even people in the Central Plains. Most of these people had incredibly white skin and distinct facial features. Some had blonde hair and green eyes. Some had black hair and thick beards. Some dressed boldly, while others dressed modestly. Their clothes were colourful.
They looked vastly different to people from the Central Plains. It feels as though you’ve walked into a new world when you come here. It makes you feel as if you’ve returned to the west.
The majority of the people here were merchants and monks from the seven nations in the west.
Lots of monks were, actually, disciples of the Divine Moon Cult. However, the situation in the seven nations of the west was different.
The main sect that the Emperor was attacking was the one Old Ximen had led. The Divine Moon Cult held different opinions and was peaceful.
Many of their disciples were monks and preachers. They were called the Bright Sect. They were members of one of the factions of the Divine Moon Cult, the Bright Moon Faction. The way they conducted themselves was also the polar opposite of Old Ximen.
The Emperor seemed to consider them a counterbalance for the Demon Sect, so he welcomed them with open arms. However, the Bright Sect was founded only twenty years ago, so their doctrine and rules were the same as the Divine Moon Cult’s. Even the god they believed in and the scriptures they read were identical.
As such, everybody thought it unbelievable when they saw this group on the streets of the capital, while others were called disciples of the Demon Sect.
Besides selling various delicacies from the west, as well as strange little things, they also sold translated versions of the Divine Moon Cult’s scriptures.
Bored, I picked one up to flip through. These books came from my Shifu and Old Ximen’s handwriting.
The old man with a big beard selling the books revealed a mysterious smile.
In a strange tone, he said, “Chinese friend! This is our Divine Moon Cult’s classic ‘Red Cloud Jing’. This book is the only copy of the book. The Grand Priest himself translated it. There’s even a drawing of a candied haw inside, drawn by the Grand Priest himself. Candied haws! Candied haws! It’s great! It’s great!”
‘The Red Cloud Jing the Grand Priest’s personally translated? I remember that the one my Shifu translated back then was…’
I thought to myself that this was bad. As soon as I opened it…
‘Isn’t this the porn my Shifu randomly drew?!’
‘My eyes are burning!’
The Princess poked her head over and asked, “Is it a good read?”
“I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it. Let’s leave it. Let’s leave it. Let’s hurry.”
I quickly dragged the Princess off elsewhere.
She suddenly pulled back, as I was holding onto her soft white hands. She revealed an unhappy look and said, “Brother Ming… Though you might… But you and Hongzhuang have no relationship, after all. Please show some respect.”
‘I want to cry, but have no tears! I was trying to avoid giving you eye cancer, Miss!’
I led the Princess into a restaurant I often went to, in order to relieve the awkwardness.
You could say that this is the restaurant with the highest-quality stuff on Bright Lane. They may sell food from the west, but they have all sorts of stuff. I heard that the boss spent a lot of effort and used many means to bring the chefs of the seven nations together. And so, this place has the best dishes of the seven nations of the west.
Princess Hongzhuang continued looking around after she had sat down. Her curiosity was piqued by the things she saw, “Although I was born in the Capital, I started learning with a teacher from a young age. I travelled with Shifu to lots of places. We were usually away from the capital eight to nine months in a year. I’ve never been here before.”
With a smile, I replied, “I had a similar experience to you, Miss Li. I heard my Shifu speak about them. I am from Nanjing, but as far as I can remember, I was on Mount Daluo in the north. I only got a chance to leave after I had grown a bit older. I only sent a foot in Nanjing at eleven or twelve.”
Princess Hongzhuang smiled but didn’t speak again. She didn’t seem interested in what I had to say.
If it were not for my status as a Fuma candidate, as well as my confession, this princess would probably scold me whenever she wanted, without much thought. Given her temper, she would say whatever she wished. It feels really uncomfortable speaking to somebody who’s not being honest.
“Miss Li, have you never heard of this place before, either? Nanjing is your home, after all. All of your family and friends here.”
I randomly found something to speak about to break the awkward atmosphere. However, she froze up for a moment and then stopped speaking altogether.
The atmosphere became incomparably awkward.
‘Motherfucker! People are about to congratulate for my new can’t-pick-up girls nickname!!’
After a short moment passed, Li Hongzhuang finally spoke, “I am a natural loner. I don’t have any friends and am not close to my siblings. Furthermore, I’m always away from home, so we drifted apart. In the capital, I…”
She suddenly glanced at my constable token at my waist.
“Only Yiren speaks with me. She’s my best friend.”
‘I’m so moved! She finally spoke! Thank you, Boss!’
“Did Boss not take you around the Capital? According to what I know, she’s a woman that had been everywhere in the capital when she was fifteen.”
Princess Hongzhuang covered her mouth and laughed when she heard “Boss.” Even her breath smelled nice…
“That’s a very chic way of addressing her, but it’s a great fit. Yiren has loved to stand out since she was young. Nobody could stop her from doing what she wanted to do.”
“Boss was like that since she was a kid…?”
“Everybody likes her; not just me. My siblings, my father and even his wives like her. She possesses a unique charm that attracts people to her.”
Li Hongzhuang faintly said, “I loved learning how to wield a sabre, even more, when my Shifu taught me how to slash the air. I persistently trained without getting sick of it, until nobody was willing to accompany me anymore. That’s when I travelled to find somebody to train with me. I came across Yiren, who was practising swordplay. The two of us became friends like that.”
I listened in silence. The Princess wasn’t lying, considering how Boss usually behaves and her popularity. Even the Qilin Guards’ Long Zaitian fell for her.
“All right. I’m done with the idle chatter and don’t feel awkward anymore. It’s time to get down to business, right?”
I froze up when I heard her say that.
‘Oh, so you were feeling awkward, too, Miss! Say so sooner! I had to go about it in such a roundabout way.’
“If you have questions, please go ahead and ask. I shall do my best to answer.”
“Can we really find him here?”
“It seems you didn’t know.” I shrugged. With a smile, I continued, “He is from the West. That means, he looks the same as these people, which is different to people in the Central Plains. If he’s in the capital at this time, he has to hide here and wait for an opportunity to run away. Even if that’s not the case, we can find out some information on him. What do you think?”
Li Hongzhuang nodded as if she strongly agreed.
Of course, that was just me spouting bullshit; I’m from the Central Plains, through and through. Plus, I’m not so stupid to let myself get captured.
Suddenly, there were people calling out from upstairs and on the streets.
“Lord San Shen of the Divine Moon Cult’s painting! Lord San Shen’s drawing! The rare hidden version from the west. This is exclusively distributed. One copper coin for one copy!!”
Li Hongzhuang reacted with surprise, “You sure do know the Pugilistic World and your way around. We already have clues. How about we go and buy a paint-…”
I had flown off to him already!! With my token in my hand, I gave chase and shouted, “Stop there, Punk! Hand over the drawing! I’m from Liu Shan Men and the manager of this city!”