Chapter 461: The Past (Part 1)
“Did you say that person’s name is Qianye?” Zhao Ruoxi’s voice was trembling slightly.
“Yes, Young Miss. Why? What’s wrong?” The maid was badly shocked.
Zhao Ruoxi grabbed her and asked with a glare, “The man Yuying brought back is living at her residence?”
The maid felt that something was wrong and replied with a trembling voice, “Y-Yes.”
Zhao Ruoxi slowly let go. A layer of frost emerged on her countenance as she suddenly turned and left.
“Young Miss, Young Miss! Where are you going?” The maid chased after her frantically, but as soon as she exited the room, she saw Zhao Ruoxi floating up toward the third floor instead of going down. The maid was shocked out of her wits at this point and ran up after her.
At the moment, the maid’s speed was as swift as a galloping horse—apparently, she wasn’t ordinary either. However, she simply couldn’t close the gap between her and Zhao Ruoxi no matter how hard she tried. She could only watch as the latter’s figure disappeared past the third-floor corridor.
Zhao Ruoxi suddenly came to a stop on the third floor. The old granny who had been asleep in the house suddenly appeared before her to block the way.
“Granny Shi, why do you block my way?”
The old lady replied slowly, “It’s currently the Young Miss’s afternoon nap time. Why are you not resting?”
“I can’t sleep, so I’m going out for a walk.”
Granna Shi smiled kindly and said, “It’s good to take your mind off things, but you don’t need to bring the Red Spider Lily along for a walk, do you?”
Zhao Ruoxi’s expression remained unchanged. “It’s a part of me. I won’t feel easy without it near me.”
“Is that so?” Granny Shi revealed a knowing smile but decided not to continue pressing this issue. “Young Miss, please take your medicine and take a short nap. Isn’t it better to take a stroll after you’re feeling better? This old woman won’t stop you once you’ve rested well.”
Zhao Ruoxi took a deep breath. Her chest heaved up and down as the frostiness on her face melted somewhat. “Fine, I’ll go take a nap, then I’ll go for a stroll.”
Granny Shi nodded in praise. “Young Miss, your body is the most important. You mustn't be angry!”
Zhao Ruoxi suddenly moved her hand forward from behind her back—it was actually the Red Spider Lily in her grasp! Granny Shi was shocked out of her wits, and even her breathing stagnated for a moment. She suddenly glanced back, but the door behind her was clearly locked tight—how then did the gun reach Zhao Ruoxi’s hands?
The famed magnum spun nimbly in Zhao Ruoxi’s hands before vanishing into thin air. This time, Granny Shi didn’t need to look back to tell that the Red Spider Lily had returned onto the gun rack in the study behind her.
A faint smile appeared on Zhao Ruoxi’s face as she said, “Granny Shi, the Red Spider Lily is a part of me. I can take it at any time and place. No one can stop me.”
Granny Shi’s expression transformed several times before she finally felt relieved and said, “It’s good that the Young Miss can think this way. Otherwise, this old woman will be in a difficult position.”
Zhao Ruoxi went down and returned to her room. Granny Shi sighed in relief only after seeing the girl descend. That short encounter had caused her to break out in cold sweat.
After returning to the room, Zhao Ruoxi found a medicine bowl on the table and within it was a steaming deep-colored decoction. She picked up the bowl and finished it in one gulp in spite of its scalding heat before placing it back on the table with a bang.
“I merely didn’t want to make it difficult for you.” Zhao Ruoxi lay on her bed and gazed quietly at the ceiling.
The night gradually hung lower and lower.
The entire afternoon passed by in peace. Qianye sat quietly in the eastern side-room of Zhao Yuying’s courtyard—only he knew clearly just how much he was being affected. Dinner was also laid out in Zhao Yuying’s small courtyard. She had called for a table full of food and wine, but Qianye only moved his chopsticks a couple of times because he didn’t have the appetite. Duke Chengen, Zhao Weihuang, had sent word that they would guide Qianye over after dinner.
Qianye could hardly swallow the food, but Zhao Yuying’s appetite was especially good. She cleaned up all the dishes alone, which, in total, was enough to stuff several burly men to the point of them passing out. Time passed with great difficulty until, at last, the appointed hour arrived, and the car that had come to pick up Qianye stopped in front of the courtyard doors. Qianye boarded the vehicle in the company of Zhao Weihuang’s aides and, passing through several streets, soon arrived at the Duke Chengen residence.
Qianye was led through many rooms and halls until he reached a magnificent hall. This building somewhat resembled a sacrificial ground, but it was also akin to a martial practice field. It was extremely wide with little to no furniture and lit by millstone-sized lamps hanging down from the tall ceiling. The light sources actually consisted of arm-sized candles which cast eerie shadows across the entire chamber.
A man as straight as a mountain stood at its center with his back facing the door. He was cleaning a three-meter-long sword under the candlelight. The blade’s edge was actually covered by a sheen of garish red, its color almost as dark as blood.
The aides left quietly after sending Qianye in and duly closed the doors.
The man slowly turned around to reveal a surprisingly clear and handsome face that was almost unfitting of his aggressive temperament. Upon careful inspection, however, one would see that his brows were as sharp as swords. A single glance from him made Qianye feel some pain on his face—it felt as though he had been stabbed by a sharp sword intent.
The man started speaking with a slow but clear voice that resembled the echo of a cauldron, “To think that I, Zhao Weihuang, at the present age of forty-nine, have achieved the title of the empire’s Duke Chengen. I rule the Zhao clan with the hundred-thousand-strong Fire Beacon Corps under my command, and I have fought hundreds of battles. How can such success come from Gaoyi alone?
“People say that I’m all brawns and no brain, that I can charge into the enemy lines but have no sense of strategy. But how can those plebeians know the aspirations and great dao in my heart? My great dao is the 3 meter Green Edge in my hand, with which I seek only the power to split a mountain with each strike—since I can block a million soldiers in one slash, why would I need to scheme?”
Zhao Weihuang tossed the sword in his hand toward Qianye who then caught it subconsciously. Only then did he realize just how long this blade was. It was actually even taller than himself by a head. Just holding onto it sent a ghastly chill into his body as though he had experienced nine winters, and its sharpness was a rarity in the present world.
Zhao Weihuang’s shout reverberated loudly, “Will you be able to cut me down if we are at the same level?”
Qianye was shaken as all the origin power in his body resonated continuously with this one shout, and the great sea vortex formed in an instant. Without pondering, he replied with a deep voice, “Why can’t I?”
Zhao Weihuang glanced at Qianye with a gaze as sharp as a blade. After a while, he suddenly broke into a loud laughter and said, “Now that’s Zhao Weihuang’s son! Good, very good!”
Qianye looked down at the sword and wiped down the blade with his finger. The sheen of scarlet upon it actually rippled mysteriously. Qianye tossed it lightly and watched as the blade half-sank into the earth without a sound. It was as though the sword had cut into tofu.
He could imagine just how much of a killer weapon this sword would be on the battlefield.
Qianye looked up once again and gazed straight into Zhao Weihuang’s eyes. “But I don’t feel that you’re my father.”
Zhao Weihuang’s eyes were suddenly filled with killing intent which pressed down upon Qianye with earth-shattering momentum. Qianye stared back at him without any movement, so much so that there wasn’t even a flicker in his eyes as he faced the duke.
Suddenly, Zhao Weihuang retracted his killing intent and his gaze turned gentle. He sighed heavily and said, “I know. Surely, you must be brooding about the matter from back then.”
Qianye said after a moment of silence, “In truth, I’m neither concerned nor begrudged because I don’t have a single memory of those matters. That which I have suffered and experienced, including how I am able to stand here today, are the only things meaningful to me.”
Zhao Weihuang’s gaze froze as an almost pained expression flashed through his eyes. In truth, the matter back then was only the beginning of Qianye’s ordeals and not the end. Zhao Weihuang did not know what Qianye had experienced through these years. However, he could easily imagine just how difficult it would’ve been to rise to power in the abandoned land, and the fragmented recounts Zhao Jundu had given him were enough to peep into this child’s wandering plight.
Qianye’s seemingly light words had, in truth, cut a deep chasm between the father and son.
“I only want to know who and where my mother is.”
Zhao Weihuang became absent-minded as he said with a bitter expression, “I don’t know either.”
Qianye’s gaze turned harsh. “You don’t know?”
“I truly do not know.” Zhao Weihuang let out a long sigh as he sank into the memories of the past, flashbacks he didn’t even dare recall for the past ten-odd years—not even when he was alone.
Back then, the young Zhao Weihuang had already revealed extraordinary talent and gained some fame in the family. His father, the younger brother of Duke You, was even more of a heaven-bestowed talent, and his accumulated contributions gained him the title of Duke Xuanyuan. One could see just how capable he was.
Duke Xuanyuan’s title wasn’t hereditary, but his brilliant talents and ability weren’t at all inferior to the two dukes, You and Yan. Meanwhile, Zhao Weihuang was of stately comportment and had great future prospects. In the end, he gained Princess Gaoyi’s hand in marriage.
The imperial family wedding ceremony was complicated to say the least, and there was still one year until the appointed date. Zhao Weihuang wasn’t willing to be left out, so he took to touring the world in search of victory, challenging experts everywhere. It was common practice for major clan scions to go about tempering themselves in pursuit of improvement and experience.
It was during this journey that Zhao Weihuang met a woman, an ordinary young lady who had no outstanding qualities apart from her gentle and peaceful temperament. She was truly beyond mediocre compared to the brilliance and luster of the noble ladies.
A woman with only rank-three origin power was worlds apart from Zhao Weihaung—a newly advanced champion—in terms of strength.
The latter recalled with great difficulty the first time the two of them had decided to travel together as companions. It seemed to be a desolate and dangerous area with only a single path, and the two were traveling in the same direction. That was the only reason.
She encountered danger repeatedly along the way, and it was always Zhao Weihuang who had saved her. He was even wounded badly because of it. But Zhao Weihuang discovered that he wasn’t the least impatient and, in times of peace, even hoped that these days could last longer.
Regardless of the situation, it seemed as though her spirit was always wandering in another world and calmly looking at the reality before her. It seemed as though nothing could cause her to feel fear or cower even if the earth and mountains were to split open. She seemed just like a bystander who had nothing to do with everything happening around her.
But a fluctuation finally appeared in her eyes when the injured Zhao Weihuang pushed her to the other side of the ravine and turned back to cut down that natural stone bridge, effectively blocking the pursuing beast horde within the dangerous area.
Everything happened naturally after the two escaped the danger zone.
Embracing a woman wasn’t a big deal to the young and carefree Zhao Weihuang. She was, after all, just a woman without any status. He had already gone through dozens of women before the age of eighteen, whether it was at school or while having fun with friends.
But this time, it was just as natural as a first embrace. Zhao Weihuang actually abandoned his quest and settled down with her in a remote, quiet, and beautiful little town. He didn’t bring out his backpack full of gold coins, nor did he reveal his cultivation. The two of them built a life with their bare hands.
Zhao Weihuang found a job as a guard and would occasionally escort goods between the nearby towns for some extra money. Meanwhile, the lady did all the cooking and housework at home. The two lived in the most ordinary of little homes and enjoyed the most ordinary of days.
Even up until now, Zhao Weihuang couldn’t say why he did so. Perhaps he was attracted by her mysterious and cryptic temperament, or perhaps it was those ordinary days where he worked from dawn to dusk that made him feel a sense of internal comfort and serenity. Or, it might be that he never knew the reason at all.
Just like that, the calm and peaceful days went by for half a year just like a gentle dream. But Zhao Weihuang began to feel restless for he knew he was about to wake up. His wedding with Princess Gaoyi was fast approaching, and he would have no choice but to return.
There was that one moment where Zhao Weihuang had considered passing his entire life in this manner, but he knew it wasn’t possible.
It was normal for clan scions to lose contact while training outside. The Zhao clan had their own secret arts to determine whether he was dead or alive and to track him down.
It was while Zhao Weihuang was at his wit's end that he found—upon returning home after relinquishing his job one day—a table full of hot dishes just as before. However, that woman had already left.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Happy New Year, everyone! It's been a great year together. Here's to an awesome year ahead!
TL: Legion ED: Moxie