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Qiong Yue Capital City
In early autumn, it was warm because of the scorching midsummer sun. Everyone was afraid of being burned by this weather thus the streets were deserted and the people roaming outside were scarce. Tea rooms and taverns were naturally different; such places were cool and nice to enjoy chatting. Because the Emperor was wise and capable, the kingdom was enjoying peace and prosperity. There was neither war nor famine. The common people were idle and always looking for something to pass the time. Now that troubled times were gone, people were naturally eager to listen to unmatched hero stories, romantic love affairs and many more senseless stories. Even so, business was still booming in the restaurant because some of the topics, even if it has been discussed for over 16 years, the fervor remains the same. For example, everyone knows all about the three daughters of the capital.
They were respected individuals. First, from the Military General’s family, after hundreds of years or so, they were able to produce only one daughter. She was the entire Su Family’s beloved treasure, Miss Su Su. *(meaning long cherish, plain girl). Second, from within the Prime Minister’s House, the couple’s longfeng pride *out of many, Lou’s ‘pearl in the palm’, was **Miss Lou Chen. The third, although she did not grow up in the Palace from childhood, she was doted by the Emperor of Qiong Yue, the darling Princess Yan Ning.
*Longfeng could refer to twins: Lou Chen and her twin brother, Lou Xi, as Dragon and Phoenix, which was considered as auspicious, this phrase could also mean twin happiness — (Thanks to Utauchan for pointing this out).
* Longfeng means dragon and phoenix, two most powerful celestial animals. Dragon is “yang” while Phoenix is “yin”, and they complement each other in creating yin-yang balance to harvest successful matrimonial bliss. This celestial couple is the symbol of everlasting love and they stay together through hardship and good times. (Source: Crabbynook.com)
All three daughters all have their own admirers and the focus of today’s argument was who among the three was more superior.
Everyone was quarreling to the point where their faces turned dark red in anger and shouting passionately at the top of their lungs. A youth had come out with his father for a business trip into the capital for the first time, and was stunned over what he was hearing. His curiosity couldn’t hold it anymore and asked, “You said…three misses. Where can we see them?” In this world, if there were really such beauties, of course, he would also like to see!
‘See?’ Just a moment ago all the people were talking in full swing, now they suddenly pause and looked weirdly at the young man. They groan towards the young man, “In your dreams! Who are you to have the privilege to see them?!”
The young man was flabbergasted and murmured to himself, “How do you know if these three young ladies are really beautiful?”
“The mothers are beautiful, so of course the daughters are also naturally beautiful.”
“Who is this country bumpkin who doesn’t understand, have you not heard that’ blue branch’s twig is blue’?” (meaning: If the mother is pretty the children will be pretty too.)
“The three young ladies’ beauties are natural. They are simply beautiful but the difference only is to what degree their beauty is, that’s all!”
“Yes, that is.”
All of a sudden, he was ridiculed by everyone in the restaurant. He was unhappy, his face flushed red, but did not dare to refute the excitement and shouts, “To look beautiful is amazing, but shouldn’t a woman put serious importance to their talents and abilities?! Those three daughters, what excellent talents and skills do they have? The four arts: zither, go, calligraphy, and painting, which type of poems and songs?”
Sitting next to the youth’s table was an old man, who looked at him as if he was a fool. He shoots a glance and laughs, “These shallow things for the three young ladies definitely are just a pinch at their fingertips. This, they disdain because they have more powerful talents that you have not experienced.”
The youth now suffocated in his own words and turned red. He anxiously asked, “Contrary to one that might expect, how powerful?”
The crowds were likely wanting to hear something laughable. They answered him with smiles and in one voice, “Who knows?”
At this point, the youth feels like crying. What?! You do not know but you are still happy? Not only happy, but happy in a proud way…as if it be by rights ** (TL: can be interpreted as people are naturally proud and happy to be ignorant of the fact. )
The young man’s father shook his head, in his heart he sighed and laments more than once, the people in the capital city were really rare like beautiful flowers. The first time he came, they also confused him. Neither has seen how the girls’ look like, nor do they know the girls’ talents, do not know the girls’ temperament and personality, everything were up to their own imaginations.
Nevertheless, the chatters were still full of excitements and enthusiasm to the point where it can even spark a quarrel.
The common people of the capital city cannot be blamed actually. When the three most beautiful young sisters were delivered as “the gifts” by the vassal country of Hao Yue to Qiong Yue, in spite of such an identity, they went against the social norm and still captured the hearts of Qiong Yue’s most powerful and influential men. For so many years, Lou Madam, Lady Qing Ling, unknowingly assisted her husband and the Ministry of Justive solve mysteries around corpses. The General Madam, Qing Mo, trained “Gray Hawk”, not only did that make the Su Family’s armed forces invincible in its existence, but also frightened the neighboring countries’ generals. Although Qing Feng was one of a kind Imperial concubine, she was actually unconventional. She lived outside of the palace in her own fairyland and did not disturb anyone in the palace. Later, she became dedicated to the medical world and became the Ghost Doctor’s disciple.
Their mothers were legendary women, so excuse the people please, why would there be a need to wonder about the skills and abilities of their daughters?!
What anyone did not know was that the three young ladies in the past were weary of having famous reputations and they were left with lingering fear. Who would want their daughter to repeat the same? So, the daughters were deeply hidden completely, cut off from the inquiring eyes of the people in the city. But in this society, the more you cover, there was bound to be more curiosity, and the more unknown it was, greater was the anticipation.
Anything concerning the three precious daughters, whether it may be only tiny clues or traces of information, people will speculate for countless times until the matter was magnified and then spread out. The common people’s imagination and fantasies were infinite after all. The shroud of mystery became bigger and whatever it had accomplished up to now was such a spectacle. However, they do not know if the three Madams have any regrets. People’s hearts throughout the city were full of the infinite mystery about the three daughters, wondering what they were doing at the very moment. Are they doing embroiders or flapping butterflies? Reciting a poem or play chess or the qin?
In the early autumn afternoon, in a huge courtyard garden, three young women sat under a tree’s shade enjoying the cool air. All three were extremely and uniquely beautiful in their own way. The woman sitting on the side closest to the door with a white top and green skirt looks calm as water, silently wiping a sword’s thin blade with her hand. The soft blade was as thin as a butterfly’s wings but was very sharp.
Beside her was a woman wearing red clothes, which was entirely different from the previous young miss, wearing a crimson outfit, lining her tender and beautiful facial features. Between her eyebrows was a cinnabar mole, which resembles the color of the fire and her sitting posture was tall, straight forehead, valiant, and her whole body has a noble aura. These qualities were in direct contrast to the woman wearing white beside her, who was more lethargic. Her hand was holding her chin while she sips her tea. She was smiling and looking back at her with cat eyes. Without masking and mincing, she asks, “Elder sister Chen and Elder sister Ning, in two days, it will be my 16th birthday, how about you …… you give me a hint at least what is your gift?”
The woman in red clothes looked at her and readily asks, “What do want me to give?”
“Oh, what will you deliver me as your regard, since when did the birthday celebrant proposes the gifts they want?”
“Our regards?” Yan Ning frowned and answered her, “That is very simple.”
When unexpectedly they no longer asked and pursue the matter, Su Su became anxious and changes the thread of conversation, “….but since I am very considerate, I will not let two elder sisters be troubled. With a reluctant heart, I will put forward the request.”
Yan Ning already knew the little sister has something to ask, so with a smile, she said, “Ok, let us hear it.”
“Ahem. Ahem!” With a pretense, Su Su coughs twice and then began to speak, “I want….” The end of her sentence drags on for a very long time, then she did not say the next word. Yan Ning’s face now has a look of annoyance, “Just say it!”
Su Su casually sticks out her tongue and replied, “I want the legendary luminous night pearl.”
Yan Ning knits her brows, “What really do you want to do with it?”
“He he he,” Su Su only laughs and does not answer. The woman sitting on the floor on one side, who was wiping her sword calmed herself and coldly responded, “My guess is that she broke the General manor’s legendary luminous pearl and is now looking for ways to replace it.” Su family’s military rooms that develop flint weapons ( like dynamites and bombs), must not have any fire nearby and the legendary luminous pearl was much brighter than the ordinary water pearl and best use for lighting.
Su Su’s face became anxious and said, “Which one?”
Lou Chen looks up and glances slightly at her eyes, her cold eyes seeing her pursed lips and plainly not denying it.
So, that how it was. She initially caused trouble, Yan Ning felt funny, “You know Shiba lian steps to run away right, but you are still afraid to get skinned by youngest aunt.”
Speaking about her Shiba lian steps, it was a supreme qinggong skill that was unique and unsurpassed light movement. Its speed was like of the bird; the body form movement resembles that of a startled great wild goose. Just lifting the body and without leveraging on a ladder with that form, one may fly up more than ten feet. In one breath leap, she can possibly scale the ladder straight, and be able to reach up to more than 10 ten feet—very odd indeed.
*Chinese 10 feet is equivalent to 3.3m
If she really wanted to run, even Su Ling was also afraid he cannot catch up to her. There was a saying that Su Su learned to master this technique courtesy of her mother, Gu Yun. Being the only daughter in the Su family, Su Su feared no one, even her Emperor Uncle, she occasionally talks bad behind his back and plays dirty tricks but the Emperor only snorts. However, when she hear him snorts, she immediately cowers like a mouse that just saw a cat. Since childhood, Su Su was a naughty girl. She was lazy and does not want to be disturbed. It was in her nature from childhood, making it absolutely impossible for her mother, Gu Yun, not to try to fix her. Because of Gu Yun’s superb swordsmanship and excellent endurance, she cannot take it lightly, so in order to escape from her mother, Su Su’s other martial arts skill was mediocre but in foot work though, she was not lazy and has trained hard to dodge, that’s why when she reached 12 years old, Gu Yun can barely catch her in a fit of temper.
Just like…..now! Lou Chen and Yan Ning have only been thinking of their aunt when a white stream of cloth flashed through. On the table, where Su Su sat before, an abandoned cup was still rumbling after the person left in haste. Two people glanced at each other, the corners of their mouth twitch slightly and needless to say, they knew their youngest aunt was coming. Sure enough, when the low creak of the door sounded, a call came, “Su Su—” She was already at the gate escaping again quickly but no matter how many times she escaped, in the end, she will still received her punishment. Today, she was punished to frog jump 30 laps around the training ground. Miss Su, in the eyes of everyone, was pitiful. Her two legs shook like sifter when she returned to her room, and she stayed in bed for two days, thus, in the end how she welcomed her 16th birthday.
In the inner chamber side of the building, Su Su was plainly lazy, lying down on the bed. Even if visitors came into the room, or calamity befall the house, she would not get up.
“The legendary luminous pearl, you also do not want…” In her hand Yan Ning was holding a fist size legendary luminous pearl appreciatively, even if it was in broad daylight, everyone could see its glorious light. Its touch in the dark of night, it is needless to mention.
Still on the bed, Su Su rolled her eyes and refused to get up. After a long sigh, “I don’t want it anymore. I was already punished so why would I still want it?”
A fair hand extended unexpectedly, Su Su looks at the brocade box in front of her and happily sat up to anxiously open the brocade box. Lying inside were ten jasper pills. The tiny medicine’s fragrant freshen and gladdens the heart. Su Su’s face brightened when she saw the present, “Nuan Xin pill*?! Elder sister Lou Chen is the best!”
*warm fragrant pill
Zhuo Qing, in order to heal and condition the body of Lou Xi Yan, had dedicated herself to learning TCM**. She integrated Chinese and Western medicine together, and her skill in medicine gradually improved. Lou Chen was smart and can easily learn from her mother. Her own knowledge of medicine was not low. Occasionally, she would concoct some blood stasis, analgesic and muscle pain like pills. As far as Miss Su was concerned, getting ‘mainly a gangster meal ***’ every now and then, her ‘hacked’ skill was naturally a good thing.
**TCM Traditional Chinese Medicine
***Gangster meal equivalent to punishment
Lou Chen reminds her, “Don’t take them all in one shot, eat them lightly and economize.”
“I know, I know.” While Su Su was still talking, she threw two pills into her mouth and chewed them at the same time.
Yan Ning cannot help it but just shook her head. Su Su has been sore for many days already and has endured it well but just now she ate two pills, was this called economize? Lou Chen does not say anything in any case and pampers her. Yan Ning now also does not feel like reprimanding her, she extends her hand, holding a rectangular box.
“What is this stuff? ” Su Su was curious, opens the box and sees a map of the Qiong Yue made of leather.
This kind of map was truly rare that if the present was for a common person, it can be considered as a precious thing, but because the receiver was Su Su, the leather map had no appeal. The Su Family has all kinds of maps lying around. Su Su’s interest immediately disappeared and she threw the map back into the box and asked, “Elder sister Ning, for what reason did you bring me a map?”
Taking the map and spreading it on the middle of the table, Yan Ning’s eyes fall somewhere on the map, the vision was somewhat burning, “Don’t you feel bored all day in the capital city, you all do not feel stuffy?”
“Certainly bored, ah.” Then she glanced at the map on the table, throws a look at Yan Nin again. Su Su finally gives up and crawled over supporting her chin and says with a smile, “Elder sister Ning, what amusing and funny things are you thinking of?”
Yan Ning lifts her head, slightly smiles mysteriously, “Wouldn’t it be better to play a bet, right?”
“What is at stake?”
“The world is big, let us go search a great treasure using our own ability for a year to give to our mothers, next year at this time we’ll compare.”
“A year? Meaning, we have to run away from home?! My mother will dig up my skin that is not possible.” Su Su was saying such words but her eyes were actually glowing with excitement.
“In the end, do you want to bet?”
“I will bet!” That was the quick answer from the handful young Miss Su, who fully demonstrated since she was ten, her ‘wish for the whole world to be in chaos’.
Yan Ning glanced towards Lou Chen, who was sitting silently. Lou Chen has no facial expression, doesn’t talk a lot but her brain was exceptionally keen. Yan Ning was a little anxious and asks her, “You?”
Lou Chen glimpsed at the map on the table, looks at Yan Ning, the rare smile appeared in the corners of her mouth and answers, “Ok.”
At the third watch of the night, it was silent and chilly as darkness covers the palace wall. Three shadows dash about wildly under the city wall, spring up and then climb up on top of the wall suddenly. Again jump a leap, and then nimbly fall outside the wall. The city walls were more than thirty feet high, but in regards to them, it is nothing, and obviously, the three humans have extraordinary martial art skills.
The three people stop running after ten zhang.** 1 zhang=3.3 meters
“A year is the time limit.”
“Take care.” After simply saying a few words, the three scattered towards three different directions.
Yan Ning ran forward all the way, quietly apologizing, “Chen, Su, I’m sorry but I have to go to that place, I have deceived you. I have to scatter the families’ energy and resources to be able to run off, only then they can’t find me quickly and bring me back, forgive me, forgive me!”
Compared to Yin Ning’s urgency, Su was leisurely and calmly walking. She wanted to see the spectacular views of the sea so she naturally chose the Eastern Sea. After she has played enough, she will go visit Uncle Ao Tian again on Spirit Island. When it is convenient, she will ask for a treasure, perhaps, in approximated one year, she will win!
Lou Chen looks cool, bland and peaceful. She was pacing leisurely. Ning, a moment ago, has gone towards West, then… she decides to walk farther to a more remote place, which way as Liao Yue?
Three people, three thoughts, however, their journey begins.
——Out of the question——
I have come and reached an agreement for the new article, it is about Miss Su Su by the way.
[Editor’s Note: Welcome to our intro chapter! Su Su’s official story will begin shortly. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to experience the turbulence ahead! Beep beep beep!]- Thina
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