Whoo! This one took a long time to translate. Hehe who’s been watching 风中奇缘/Sound of the Desert？For video links head over to Sutekii’s blog. Every time I see Hu Ge, I picture him as Mei Changsu haha.
Here are things to note:
- Xiao Jingrui: second ranked gongzi, double identities
- Yan Yujin: Jingrui’s best friend, ranked 10th on the gongzi list
- Xie Bi: Jingrui’s younger brother, son of Princess Wei Yang
- Jianghu: the martial arts world
Top of the Lang Ya Bang, Jiang Zuo’s Mei Lang.
Though Xiao Jingrui was in the worst of moods, when hearing this name a sense of shock still flashed across his eyes.
“Secluded world of ice and snow, vague fragrance drifting across the river, knowing the path of heros, guiding Jiang Zuo there is Mei Lang.”
That was a poem written nine years ago by Shu Zhongtian, the leader of the, “Qiao Long Sect,” when he first met Mei Changsu.
At that time, to avoid disaster, the Gong Sun family had joined the Jiang Zuo Alliance and Shu Zhongtian had chased them to the river. The new leader of the Jiang Zuo Alliance, Mei Changsu personally came to greet him, the two of them did not bring with them neither a knife nor sword, an army or a soldier. They held a secret meeting for two days. When Shu Zhongtian emerged from his secret meeting with Mei Changsu he went back north and the Gong Sun family was saved. With this the name of the Jiang Zuo Alliance began to spread across the jianghu.
Two years later, the might and prestige of the Jiang Zuo had not fallen and Mei Changsu had also been ranked onto the Lang Ya Bang and quickly gained the top spot without ever falling in rank. Due to Mei Changsu’s dislike of showing his face only a handful had ever seen his true appearance, yet the more it was so, the more everyone’s curiosity towards him grew; hoping to one day see his peerless style for themselves.
Xiao Jingrui had deliberately made his way into the Lang Ya Bang, and even though he wasn’t the competitive type, he was still curious about the person who ranked above him. Unfortunately, due to the fact that Mei Changsu always operated from the shadows and rarely publicly appeared, Jinrui never had the chance to meet him.
Last winter while passing by Qinling, he had picked a branch of plum blossoms from a cliff, and brought it with him into a tea house. Seated at a neighboring table was a young man wrapped in white fur who was staring at that plum blossom branch with an expression of delight. Xiao Jingrui had without much thought given that plum branch to the young man. Half a month later they met again, and talked for quite a while before leaving each other. Because their interactions had always been in a hurry, Xiao Jingrui had forgotten to tell his family about the encounter. But he would never have thought that this not very eye-catching or stunning gentle young man would turn to be Mei Lang, the leader of the largest sect in the world.
“Master is often busy and he couldn’t find the time to personally receive you, hope our honored guests will not mind. Please have a drink it is also an honor for the Jiang Zuo Alliance.”
Those two serving girls were both sensitive and seeing how Xiao Jingrui acted after hearing Mei Changsu’s name, in order to avoid embarrassing him, they urged the three to have a drink.
At this point Xie Bi had no more resistance to the lure of the Zhao Dian Hong, and seeing as Zhuo Qingyao was no longer continuing to decline, he bowed and said, “ Please thank your gracious master for such hospitality.”
After the maids tenderly smiled a goodbye, Xie Bi dragged his brothers to their seats and tipped the contents of the cup into his mouth. Only felt the wine following down his throat, and a pure fragrance spread from the tip of his tongue. As expected, it was not an ordinary wine.
Despite feeling a little uneasy, Zhuo Qingyao couldn’t bring himself to stop Xie Bi after seeing the expression of paradise on the other’s face. He only persuaded, “This is no usual wine, although it tastes mellow, you should still drink only a little.”
But at time time Xie Bi could no longer listen to any words of persuasion, and without knowing, already drank a dozen cups. The two serving girls as if knowing how much Xie Bi could tolerate, turned away from him when he had drank his 17th cup, instead pouring wine into Zhuo Qingyao and Xiao Jingrui’s cups, by the time those two had drank seven or eight cups they were already slightly tipsy.
The serving girls knew that these three young men had not had a good day’s sleep for over two days so they brought them to their respective rooms to rest. Either because they were tired or because they were drunk, the three of them slept all the way until the morning sun had risen. When they woke up all their tiredness was gone and they felt refreshed and they felt admiration for Mei Changsu’s hospitality.
After freshening up, the blue-robed person who had greeted them at the city gates had come for them, telling them that because his master was busy he couldn’t come to send them off. Thinking of the status of the leader of the Jiang Zuo Alliance, not coming was the norm. So, Zhuo Qingyao hurriedly thanked that person. The two of them stood there at the door exchanging polite talk. Xie Bi couldn’t help but laugh; whispering into Xiao Jingrui’s ear, “Brother Zhuo is so old-fashions, not at all like a person of the jianghu. I think he is more suited for the court.”
Zhuo Qingyao had exceptional hearing and when he heard what Xie Bi said, he turned around and glared at him. Still he ended his talk with the blue-robed person and they all got onto their steeds.
After leaving the manor, the three people slightly lamented about the thoughtfulness of Mei Changsu, but out of respect they did not say much. When they rode back onto the main path, they came to a crossroad. As Zhuo Qingyao was worried about his wife he was prepared to rush back to Jinling. But Xiao Jingrui was did not want to go home and see his parents at this point and as he still had to go to the birthday celebrations, he said goodbye to his brother and continued on with Xie Bi to Leishan.
Leishan was about half a month’s distance from Xunyang, the two were not in a hurry and along the way Xie Bi told many jokes to brighten up Jingrui’s mood. Jingrui understood Xie Bi’s intentions and cooperated strongly with him, so along the way the atmosphere was very pleasant.
One afternoon when the two were walking down a street looking for a lodging that was pleasing to the eye, they heard someone from behind shouting, “Jingrui!” They only saw a shadow rushing at them and then collide with Xiao Jingrui causing him to stagger.
“Jingrui are you okay? Nothing wrong?” that person yelled, “ just yesterday I heard that Miss Yun married someone else, I thought that you must be very sad and although I wanted to find you, I didn’t know where you were. What a coincidence that we meet here today. How are you feeling?”
Xiao Jingrui struggled out of that person’s grasp and lightly said, “I’m fine.”
“How is that possible?”
That man’s eyes widened, “don’t worry, you can tell me anything. I’ll accompany you to a drink. When you’re drunk you’ll feel better.”
Xie Bi at this time couldn’t hold onto his image of a nobleman’ s son and rolled his eyes. That Yan Yujin, his degree of heartlessness just keeps rising and rising. He had been gingerly treating Jinrui all these days and now he comes and hurts his wound.
“I am really all right,” Xiao Jingrui knew that nature of his friend, so he was not angry. Swallowing the pain in his heart, he asked, “where are you going?”
“I don’t really have anything important, how about you, where are you going?”
“My second brother and I are going to Leishan to attend an elder’s birthday celebration.”
“Then I’ll go with you!”
“That won’t be good will it?” Xiao Jingrui said, “Leishan granny is a jianghu person, my second brother is my family, but you….”
“What’s wrong with me? Am I not part of the jianghu as well?” Yan Yujin wasn’t very happy, “I’ve roamed the jianghu for as long as you have.”
Xie Bi laughingly said, “My great Yan gongzi, you call that roaming the jianghu? Those three people standing by the tea house, those two by the wool shop, all are a part of your guards are they not? You are clearly here for fun, who would want to bring a troublesome person like you?”
“You’re saying that to me? Are you any stronger than I am? If you weren’t with Jingrui, you’d have a whole bunch of guards following you too!”
“That’s why I never claimed to be a person of the jianghu. Just forget it, after all, people like us are destined to become officials sooner or later. That is naturally why the people of the jianghu do not wish to have any contact with us. I heard that lately, your father has been trying to force you into the Long Jin Wei?”
“Isn’t that right,” Yan Yujin suddenly sounded melancholy, “I said I wouldn’t go and he hit me. Still Jingrui is the lucky one, the emperor has permitted him to either become an official or to stay in the jianghu. Why wasn’t I born with two identities?”
“This is called everyone has their own destiny, “ Xie Bi pushed him aside, “You should leave, we still have to find lodging.”
“Jingrui, Jingrui,” Yan Yujin latched onto his friend, “Bring me with you, I’ll tell the guards to leave…..if I’m with you then my family won’t worry anyways. Besides you’re in a difficult period, I should stay with you.”
Playing together since childhood, Xiao Jingrui knew that this person’s ability to pester was unparalleled, so he nodded his head in agreement. Xie Bi actually liked Yujin’s frankness and thought that the more the merrier so he didn’t say anything. Yan Yujin rejoiced and began to order his guards around.
They rested at the Saddle House for one night and left the next morning after breakfast. Xiao Jingrui and Xie Bi had very ordinary attire while Yan Yujin was dressed in very extravagant clothing, only missing a notice announcing that he was the 10th ranked gongzi on the Lang Ya Bang taped on his head.
“Let him be proud for a few days, probably by next year he will drop out of the list.” Xie Bi sighed with resignation, looking at the person chasing after them, “those guards are being too careful, just by looking at him you can tell that he’s from a prosperous family, who would mess with him?”
“If he wasn’t so, he wouldn’t have appeared on this year’s ranking. You understand, his background, talent, looks, are all on par with me.” Xiao Jingrui answered, “If talking about the five lists of the Lang Ya rankings, the gongzi list is the easiest to appear on, there are numerous talents in the world, but if they must be called gongzi, then background is most important. If to rank onto this list you must rely on your background, what’s there to be proud of?”
“You are belittling yourself. I was also born a gongzi, why am I not on the list?”
Xie Bi retorted but in his mind he knew that Xiao Jingrui was right. Although Mei Changsu was top on the Lang Ya Bang, if he wasn’t the leader of the Jiang Zuo Alliance, then it might be that he wouldn’t be as revered by the jianghu.
“What are you guys talking about?” Yan Yujin had looked enough and now ran over and asked.
“We were talking about talk how in the five rankings of the Lang Ya Hall, the gongzi list is the one looked at with the most indifference.” Xie Bi replied.
But to his surprise, after hearing these words Yan Yujin was not angry, instead he nodded and replied, “Compared to the four other rankings it is true. The most outstanding people on the gongzi list are often on the other four lists as well. Take Jiang Dong’s Bo Rezhen gongzi for example, he’s also ranked on the marital arts expert list as number 7, and Xiao Jian gongzi, Qin Yue, although he is only ranked fifth, but because he is number 9 on the expert list, he is more well known on the jianghu than Jingrui. Someone like me, even though I managed to squeeze onto the list, everyone knows that I’m just a nobleman’s son. That is why even until now, no beauties have approached me…”
“So the reason you desperately tried to appear on the list is to get to know more beauties?” Xie Bi laughed, “bad intentions, you should get hit.”
“Che, don’t say that about me, the reason Jingrui wanted to appear on the list is because of Miss Yun isn’t it?” Yan Yujin cooly shook his fan open, “but even if our list is a bit weaker than the other lists, considering the whole world and all its people, we can be considered pretty good. Just let me be proud for a bit.”
“Yes, yes, yes, you young master is really amazing!” Xie Bi saw that he had mentioned Miss Yun again so hurriedly changed the topic. “Your Bai Hai Tang got sick didn’t it? Has it gotten better recently?”
“It’s good now. All because I personally take care of it every day. I fertilize it and wash the leaves. If the Lang Ya Hall ever ranks the world’s top ten gardeners, I will definitely be on the list.”
“Come on, besides washing the leaves or adding fertilizer, what else can you do? My mother’s Princess Mansion’s seven Oncidiums, weren’t you the one that fertilized them to death?”
“Hey, I’ve lived so long, how long are you going to keep mentioning the seven Oncidiums for?”
The two began to bicker and Xiao Jingrui intentionally avoided them. When Yan Yujin had casually mentioned Miss Yun, although his face didn’t show it, his heart still felt a pang.
Xie Bi was an empathetic individual and while he was arguing, he still saw his brother’s expression, and hurriedly sent Yan Yujin a signal, saying, “Didn’t you say that Qian state is very fun? Tell us about it.”
Yan Yujin caugh on and immediately reacted smiling at Xiao Jingrui: “Right, right, right, I wanted to tell you but you never had time. I met a Lama.”
Jingrui said, “That must have been interesting.”
Yan Yujin put on a pose and as he was opening his mouth, he saw something in the distance and stopped.
“What is that?” They looked and saw dozens of riders riding through, every one of them were valiant, the horses were as dragons, and at the head of the party, a banner was fluttering in the breeze, against the black of the flag, a silver bird of prey was flying.
Xiao Jingrui answered, “That is the Da Yu’s ambassador.”
Mentioning Da Yu, the three’s expressions darkened. Although they were sons of the noblemen, they still knew about the current situation. Twelve years ago their country had head a terrible war with the Da Yu.
“Da Yu sent ambassadors, are they here for a political marriage?” After a long while, Xie Bi only loudly lamented, “I hope its not cousin Jing Ning.”
Yan Yujin also froze for a moment, then suddenly shook his head and said, “Let’s not talk about this, let’s go.”
The other two also knew that this was national politics and that it was useless to talk about, they stopped talking and silently hurried onward.
At noon they arrived at a small city. They got off their horses and went to look for a place to eat. Xie Bi walked in front and saw a two-story building, if was very cultured and there was a cloth banner hanging from the door with a “wine” word embroidered on it. Xie Bi hurriedly said, “look at this, looking at it, it must be the best wine house in this city, let’s go in and eat, I’m starving to death.”
The three of them walked in and saw, to their great surprise, that the wine house was completely trashed. It looked like there had been a fierce fight.
“What a waste, let’s go somewhere else.”
The three turned around and walked into the nearest tea house, there were unexpectedly many guests, with only a few empty tables. A very capable looking waiter came to them and asked what kind of tea they would like.
“Brew your best tea.” Yan Yujin hurriedly said and then immediately asked, “what happened to that wine house across from this tea house?”
Just as the waiter was about to answer, a man from another table suddenly hit the table and swore, “I still think that Song Da Ren is too soft, those ambassadors from Da Yu went rampant, smashing tables and hitting people and he let it all go!”
It was a burly looking man who had spoken. One of his calmer companions advised, “Song Da Ren is only a magistrate, he can only hope for peace. What can he do?”
The burly man sneered, “The Jiang Zuo Alliance’s Ji hero was there at the scene as well, he is the 7th ranked expert on the Lang Ya Bang, only some rotten ambassadors, who is his opponent? Too bad no matter how powerful the Jiang Bei union is, they are still only part of the jianghu, he had to stop when Song Da Ren ordered him to.”
At this lapse, someone form another table interjected, “ Song Da Ren wanting to trivialize the matter is true, but saying that Ji Hero can really beat them up is not certain.”
At this moment, there were many guests sitting in the tea house and a majority of them had witnessed what had happened, they had all been listening to the burly looking man, now hearing someone interrupt, they all looked at the interrupter with indignation.
The man who interrupted was a fifty year old man, with a grey beard, sitting beside him was a pale little girl.
“Grandpa, at the fight this morning, was were someone even more powerful than that Ji uncle?” The little girl asked the question everyone was thinking.
“Yes, that’s right,” the old man said while raising his tea cup, “do you still remember when Rong auntie told you about the Lang Ya Bang?”
“On that ranking, Ji uncle ranks at seven, the opponent is ranked at five.”
There was a sudden uproar. Who the Lang Ya Bang ranked as fifth, anyone with any jianghu knowledge knew.
“Jin Diao Chai Ming?” Xiao Jingrui said to himself, “he is in the Da Yu diplomatic corps?”
The little girl blinked and then asked, “but that uncle is from Da Yu, why is a person from Da Yu also on the Lang Ya Bang?”
This question was naive, but as the questioner was young, no one laughed at her.
“Little fool, didn’t your auntie explain clearly? The Lang Ya Bang ranks the world’s heroes and beauties, and its not that only us, Da Liang, have them. Only that we have more. The current world’s martial arts expert is from Da Yu.”
Someone besides the old man asked, “Old gentleman, can you confirm the presence of Jin Diao Chai Ming?”
The old man smiled, “I have wondered the four seas, I have no other skill but remembering faces. I have seen that Chai Ming three times previously, how would there be a mistake?”
Yan Yujin also interrupted and asked, “Why did the trouble start? They are a diplomatic group, and on our territory, do they not follow any laws at all?”
“Who knows,” a fat man said, “they were all quiet when suddenly they exclaimed that someone had stolen their book and ordered us all searched. Who would obediently let them search? That’s how it all started, then Song Da Ren and Jiang Zuo Alliance’s people arrived. Song Da Ren let them search but there were some female guests, and there were no females among the ambassadors, they didn’t let them go. We all became furious again and almost fought again, then Ji Hero came and stopped everything. Ultimately, they didn’t find any books.”
“This is too unreasonable!” Xie Bi smashed his fist on the table, “so because of some book they trashed a whole wine house? And no one can even prove that such a book existed, it’s all their side of the story!”
“Isn’t that right….”
Everyone’s anger re-flamed and they all began bickering.
But Xiao Jingrui did not participate in this emotional venting, his gaze was locked in a corner of the tea house, staring fixedly.