Spring Rain in Jiangnan
Jiangnan was still Jiangnan, but the sky was grey since early morning; it was cloudy and gloomy. Those who were experienced could tell the weather was going to be horrible on them if they left their house. Unless one had urgent business, they would kick back at home. It was obvious it was going to rain. Sure, it wasn’t odd for there to be rain during winter.
Jiangnan was home to lots of rivers, ports, lakes and swamps. Because water was essential for nourishing practically everything, bacteria also found perfect places. Water in Jiangnan was subjected to steam, the sun and moon. Despite it being winter, it wasn’t cold for very long. Not all plants would wither at the end of the year. One could always find lush plants despite the cold. The same applied for grass, particularly weeds by the riversides. They were yellow in spring, but they would grow rapidly again after a few months. That was why Jiangnan was a magnificent sight to behold all year round. Rain in winter, therefore, was normal in Jiangnan. That was the same reason the appearance of a sudden group garnered more attention than the dark sky.
The group arrived as an escort with carriages and over a hundred horses. The group numbered approximately three hundred people. Their origins were unknown. Howbeit, their carriages were big – relatively speaking. Their horses were quality horses, and the people looked tough. Judging from the huge sizes of the various carriages, they weren’t transporting just expensive goods, but also lots of people. If an expert was to take a close look, they would be able to tell they shouldn’t bother the group, for they were dangerous.
The group travelled in three columns, allowing a column to assist its neighbour if anything was to ever happen in addition to protecting the goods in the carriages. They were clearly trained to follow the specific formation. There wasn’t a single escort company or martial arts sect that could’ve synchronised their people’s movements to the degree this particular group did. The group mobilised as proficiently as a trained army. Their formation could be considered perfect enough to be a standard passed on to future generations.
Who in their right mind would pick a fight with such a fierce group of adepts? That was not to mention the group hiding within the carriages. Immediate risk aside, attacking the escort was unequivocally declaring hostility on the imperial court. If you were the four biggest unorthodox factions, then perhaps, but otherwise, that was absurd.
Since the Seven Champion White Princes ruled Jiangnan’s martial world, unorthodox sects never dared to stir trouble within Jiangnan. Strangely, the owner of the escort was awfully cautious. The escort strictly ate only rations they packed themselves. They stayed at posthouses exclusively and refused to stay in residential homes. The escort was on the move day and night; the only breaks they took were for rest.
The escort’s goal was to deliver the presents to the Seven Champion Princes before New Year. They were sent as the imperial court’s representatives. Needless to say, the presents were unfathomably valuable, so there was no room for carelessness.
The Emperor provided a very narrow window of time, while the seven locations they needed to deliver the presents to were located in different places. Meanwhile, the escort was so large that it was difficult to march fast – much to the chagrin of a certain gentleman. As such, continuous marching from day to night was the only plausible strategy.
The escort put together on the spot didn’t embarrass. With a hot-blooded leader being the brains, the escort was able to stay focused and keep the ball rolling fast. The escort only had one last location to deliver presents to, and they had five more days to finish their mission.
Among the escort was a handsome man dressed in refined clothing riding atop a quality black and white horse. Unlike the fierce soldiers, he would sigh, sigh and sigh. He left the capital half a month ago with his fiancée on the mission. Their relationship had never been healthy. The Seven Champion White Princes occupied the best places in Jiangnan. Thus, he intended to go sightseeing with her in Jiangnan, since they rarely had time together. He also planned to take care of her in every capacity. He was sure that would touch her even if she was a rock. He visualised the two of them returning with their romance having ascended to another level, and everyone would enviously watch them. Sadly for him, his plans veered far off course.
As aforementioned, the journey wasn’t relaxing and slow as he predicted. The one forging forward without stopping for a moment was none of than his fiancée! No matter what the weather was, they’d march through it. He hated the march through the rain, but sleeping in the wild instead of residential homes? The Emperor specifically passed down orders for wealthy locals to take the initiative to welcome them fervently as if they were an army. He didn’t expect his fiancée’s decisions.
They could’ve taken in the scenery, admired flowers, tried delicacies and gazed at the moon. Instead, however, they were in a rush and ate rations as hard as rocks. Forget a vacation. He never suffered so much in his life before. He put up with all the misery and suffering in silence just for a smile from her. He couldn’t figure out how they were different to every other couple despite also being engaged.
He wanted to look after her. He wanted to brew a cup of ginger tea for her when it was her bedtime, but she spent all night working through documents until he fell asleep waiting. He couldn’t have pulled her horse for her, either, if he wanted to. His equestrian skills were barely superior to a child’s. How was he going to keep up with her elite equestrian skills? Not even his black and white horse could compare to her Battle Cloud Divine Steed. In the blink of an eye, she would be metres ahead already.
His fiancée received an urgent report from the capital. According to what he heard, the new recruit Ming Feizhen was going to be Fuma. He heard about it, and he jeered at the thought. After all, he believed Ming Feizhen won the Imperial Martial Arts Tournament solely thanks to flukes.
He thought to himself, “I could win, too, if I was lucky. I mean, I narrowly lost in my first fight, but that was only because I was unlucky. It had nothing to do with skill.”
His fiancée’s attitude to the announcement was sort of ambiguous, though. It should’ve been a celebratory announcement for Liu Shan Men if one of their members was going to be a fuma. His fiancée was close to the imperial family, but having their member in the role of a fuma would make them even closer, yet she didn’t look as though she was celebrating. When another report stating Ming Feizhen failed to secure the fuma spot, she was jovial. She read the letter over and over and would smile each time as if to say, “I give up on him.” She also looked as though she appreciated him.
The refined gentleman said, “I always thought he was an unreliable one, and what do you know.”
His fiancée replied, “Yeah, I agree.”
He didn’t like the fact his fiancée replied with a smile.