CHAPTER ONE (PART 1)
Sky and land blurring into one as the storm rages on, an entire air filled with rainy mist.
Torrents of rain piercing down on the human body as they fall, combined with the gales, even the trees are frantically swaying back and forth as they struggle to stand firm against the strong winds.
This is a sudden round of torrential rain, it is extremely common to have such thunderstorms here in the summer.
With this kind of weather, it is difficult for the people to predict when to make preparations in advance, therefore even if you end up as a drowned rat in this heavy rain, it is nothing to be surprised about nor is it worth fussing over.
Despite being aware of this, Qu Qing Yin is still unable to hold back her surprise.
Her surprise is due to the fact that when she ran into the rundown mountain temple completely drenched, there was already someone inside, a male who had not even a speck of rain on him, with handsome looks, a gentleman who carries himself in such a refined manner.
This menacing thunderstorm is just like a river flowing backwards, because before it started raining, she spotted this temple from afar, but the moment she runs in, she realises that she is in an situation as awkward as a fish who had been helplessly swept along by the strong water currents.
To get here before her and have the pleasure to put his foot up and rest, this man sure is lucky!
In this moment, Qu Qing Yin could feel a tinge of jealousy towards him.
Without even looking down, Qu Qing Yin herself knows that she is in as bad of a state as it could get. Her thin layers of summer clothes had been soaked through by the downpour of rain, the fabric sticking to her skin…in a situation like this, any woman in the same shoes as her would know it is inappropriate for an unfamiliar man to see her in such state.
Liu Feng had only just caught a glance of her when she ran out to the hall, then turned to look outside at the pouring rain.
Qu Qing Yin’s gaze swept around the deserted hall, her eyes resting inside the building where bits of gold paint can be seen crumbling off, looks like a worn out statue.
The bag on her shoulder may already be soaked through, but inside were some greaseproof packages, and somewhere amongst them she has a clean set of dry clothing. Therefore she quickly changes out of her wet attire in the fastest pace possible, and walks out from behind the Buddha statue, with her wet clothes in hand, she gently wrings out the water.
Looking out into the rain, Qu Qing Yin frowns, her eyes wanders around the hall, searching for some dry wood to start a fire and dry her clothes.
Liu Feng gently closes his paper fan, standing up, he makes the first move and breaks down the doors and windows, gathering the bits of wood in front of her.
“Thank you.” Qu Qing Yin spoke with such sincerity, looking at the person with a bright smile.
Liu Feng faintly smiles back, “You’re welcome.” He says as he starts the fire.
She searches all over herself, and from her waist side she takes out a string of ornaments with silver chains.
Liu Feng’s eyes flashes a hint of amazement, something he had seen that looked like ornaments, turned out to be a fine workmanship of the silver dart.
Qu Qing Yin throws out her right hand and a silver dart was nailed to the wall, trailing from it is a long thin silver chain, she flips her hand and throws again, another silver dart is driven into a pillar, a makeshift clothesline made on the spot just like that.
Liu Feng opens his fan smiling, he watches as she hangs up her wet clothing.
“This rain will last all night, has lady happened to bring anything to eat?”
Qu Qing Yin curtly asks back: “Gentleman hasn’t brought any?”
Liu Feng spreads out his hands, laughs and says: “You can tell just by looking that I am empty handed.”
Qu Qing Yin looks at him strangely, “How do you know it will rain all night?”
“I just know, would lady like to make a bet with me?”
Shaking her head, she speaks with a firm tone, “No.”
“Then lady believes me right?”
Qu Qing Yin does her clothes whilst looking out, disapprovingly saying: “I only believe the facts.” Summer thunderstorms have always been elusive, even though the rain is overwhelming right now, who knows, the wind can pick up and blow away the storm clouds within an instance.
Liu Feng sees her wordlessly hang up the last of her garments, her two pieces of underwear, this young lady really is a tad too shameless.
She looks back, and sees Liu Feng’s facial expression looking quite unnatural, following his eyes to the underwear that she had just hung up, she couldn’t help but to blink at him, “What’s wrong?”
Flinching as though he just received a burn, he immediately diverts his eyes away, using the fan to cover his face, he sounds a cough, “Nothing.”
His eyes falls upon the rock besides her where two greaseproof packages were, and tries to change the subject, “Do you have anything to eat there?”
Qu Qing Yin lets out a little laugh, this person must surely be really hungry, as she laughs, she opens one of the greaseproof packages.
Liu Feng watches as she opens the package, inside is a roasted chicken and some lu wei. (Lu wei / 卤味 – food braised in aromatic brine)
Qu Qing Yin hands over the greaseproof package, “If you are correct, then we will have to be neighbours for the night, and you also helped me with the fire, no matter what I cannot just leave you to starve yourself.”
Liu Feng did not hold back and took the whole chicken.
She laughs and places the greaseproof package on top of the rock beside her, and then opens the final greaseproof package, inside were more than a dozen of steamed buns (mantou).
Unable to hold back his laughter, “Lady you are indeed prepared.”
Qu Qing Yin throws him a few steamed buns, and also laughs, “I may not be able to read the heavens, but I do know the principle of never letting myself get hungry whenever I am on the go.”
“That truly is a golden principle.”
The fire lights up Qu Qing Yin’s graceful face, she has a smile that brings warmth and comfort to people, yet her eyes reflects a hint of reckless nature, perhaps a crafty one. Liu Feng suddenly feels as though he has taken a liking to this not so predictable young lady.
Qu Qing Yin wraps up the greaseproof packages anew again, and returns her attention to drying the clothes.
Outside is booming with thunder, the rain showing no signs of stopping, and like a sharp cold knife, lightning would flash across the sky from time to time, dimly lighting the building when it does.
The two of them did not exchange any words since, inside the temple only the sounds of the crackling fire can be heard.
Outside, the sounds of thunder continues to rumble, the rain continues to pour down, and the sky grows darker and darker. In the end, evening falls with a moonless sky, everything generally dark, had they not lit the fire, right now they would have already been swallowed up in darkness, not even able to make out the outline of their own hands.
Liu Feng stands and walks to the doorway of the temple, his eyes looking far into the black wilderness, between the heavens and the earth there is only the sound of heavy rain and raging winds.
At a time like this, when everything is engulfed in darkness, the shadows are like a gigantic dormant beast, waiting to devour unaware lost souls.
He turns his head and glances back, the lady is still drying her clothes over the fire. Her semi-dried hair falls down to her chest, blocking his view as it covers the side of her face, making it difficult for him to see her expression.
Amidst the sound of the heavy rain, someone suddenly runs into the temple.
To perk up his senses twice in one night, Liu Feng felt rather surprised.
A timely lightning pierces through the dark skies, revealing the appearance of the new arrival.
“Hero Liu!” Entering in the same ‘fish swept along by the water currents’ manner as Qu Qing Yin, is another young lady. To see someone standing by the doorway through the lightning, one cannot help but to gasp out loud.
The one who let out a sound is drying her clothes over the fire, she subconsciously glances over, before continuing to attend to her business.
Liu Feng politely nods at the person, “Lady Shui.”
Shui Su Yun is simply glad to see him, totally forgetting her awkward situation, she quickly runs up to his side, sweetly speaking: “To see Hero Liu here, it truly is a rare coincidence. Speaking of which, ever since our goodbyes at Fei Ying Bao (Soaring Eagle Guild) last year, we haven’t seen each other for a long time.”
“Lady has been well?” Liu Feng curtly asks, but advertently turns his body, his eyes casting onto the curtains of rain outside.
“Thanks for asking, I have been great…achoo!” The sound of a sneeze interrupts her words.
“Lady should go inside and warm yourself by the fire, inside is another lady, I am fine standing out here.”
Shui Su Yun only just realises her current situation, her face burning red as she clumsily speaks: “Then…then I’ll go dry myself inside.” Finishing, she turns her head and heads into the rundown temple.
When she got inside, Qu Qing Yin had already finished drying her clothes, just about to put it away in her bag.
“Hey, you have any dry clothes? Let me borrow them.”
The previous graceful lady suddenly turns rude and spoilt, Qu Qing Yin could not help but to eye the girl, before she looks at the bag in her hands. Calmly smiling: “I am sorry lady, though I would love to help you, but the only extra set of clothes I have, I have just changed out of, right now they’re still hung up.”
Shui Su Yun spots the silver chains with clothes hung over it, annoyed, she frowns, “How could you not prepare two more sets of clothes?”
Qu Qing Yin sounds genuinely apologetic: “My family’s situation isn’t too well, even on the go I only have these two sets of clothes to change into, lady must find it funny.”
Hearing this, Shui Su Yun feels a slight choking sensation.
Outside at the porch, Liu Feng who is admiring the rain could not help but to sigh, who would have known she had such a bad temper? Wrongly throwing the blame onto others too.
Without any other ideas, Shui Su Yun could only sit by the fire and allow her clothes to slowly dry.
“Hey, you have anything to eat?”
Qu Qing Yin had just taken out a needle and thread from her bag, she hasn’t even picked up the piece of material to mend yet when she heard the other girl speak again, lifting her head to look at her, she shakes her head, “No, I did not expect it to start raining so heavily, so I did not prepare in advance.”
“How could you not prepare anything?”
“It’s not like I’ll starve myself by missing a meal or two, I’m already used to it.”
“I am truly sorry, but I think it will better if lady, you bring a few attendants along the next time you go out, if not then just get used to it like me.” She sincerely advices.
Liu Feng holds his fan up against his smile, struggling to hold back the laughter in his chest, is she not afraid of someone exposing her lies? Though he has no intention to do so.
Things finally quietens down inside the temple, probably because Shui Sun Yun repeatedly got knocked down, and finally learnt how to restrain herself.
Liu Feng stands outside admiring the rain as he waits for the people inside to get ready.
“Hero Liu, my clothes have dried, you can come in now.”
When he walks in, his eyes lands on Qu Qing Yin, who is quietly focusing on mending her bag.
The bag already looks a bit washed out, but the material used to make it is strong, her sewing is done so accurately too, one cannot even spot the flaws.
This lady is clearly capable of the typical housekeeping skills, had he not seen how she threw the dart with such expertise, he surely would have seen her as an honest lady from a commoner’s background.
Looks truly are deceiving!
“Hero Liu, why do you not come to our Fei Ying Bao anymore?”
“I am drifting around the four seas, travelling with no fixed destination.” Shui Su Yun’s question pulled him out of his thoughts, he sits down by the fire, forming a circle with the girls.
Qu Qing Yin does not lift her head, only focusing on the job at hand, deep inside, she lets out a sigh, this mountain temple is a little too small, she feels like the unwanted third wheel here, this sure does not feel good.
Outside the temple, the winds are strong and the rain is heavy. Inside the temple, an attractive pair of young lady and young gentleman merrily chatting away. If not for her presence here, this weather, this timing, this location, is just like the situation Shi Fu (master) spoke of, the perfect chance for the good and bad to happen.
The needle in Qu Qing Ying’s hand is placed down, could it be that she really has to act like a fool in this weather, becoming a drowned rat in the rain, just to give them this perfect opportunity?
Of course not! Thinking about it this way, Qu Qing Yin’s guilty heart is finally put at ease.
The bag in her hand has finally been mended, she had yet to snap off the thread, when she hears noises coming from outside. The other two hears it too and looks out.
“Missy, it is great that we’ve found you.” Several people rushes in to avoid the rain, the moment they catch sight of Shui Su Yun by the fire, they were immediately overjoyed, not caring about the pitiful state they were in, they prioritise themselves with greeting her first.
Qu Qing Yin dismissively sweeps a glance at them, before she lowers her head to snap the thread with her teeth, using the mended bag, she wraps it over the other bag by her side to create an additional layer.
Liu Feng speaks to the people of Fei Ying Bao, whilst keeping watch on her movements, he smiles knowingly.
She is a person with great attention to details, those two layers of her bag, clearly the one on the outside looks worse than the one on the inside, but it is more durable. And even though the way she dresses is very simple, if you look closer you can see little details that shows she is not someone who lives a constraint life.
For her to not conceal her real self, and at the same time, not give off the wrong impression to others, she is definitely no simple person.
The rain continues to pour down, and the sky never got the chance to brighten up.
That is because night has already fallen.
Strong winds buffeted the old door and windows of the mountain temple, creating an eerie sound like that of a ghostly cry shrilling through the darkest hours of night.
With the rain running rampant amidst the raging winds, this rundown temple which is their only shelter from the wind and rain, becomes more cramped.
Inside this temple, there are only two places that can provide shelter from the rain. Fei Ying Bao has many people, they occupied the majority of the space, several guards stand together by an area that does not provide enough shelter from the wind and rain, just so that they do not violate their missy’s own space.
The remaining space was just enough for Liu Feng and Qu Qing Yin to keep a corner each, they were not exactly that close to one another, but had no chance of spreading out any further.
Qu Qing Yin hugs her bag, pulling her knees up to her chest as she sits on top of the platform, her heart feeling a bit uncomfortable – she’s hungry.
That Fei Ying Bao’s missy is indeed unlikeable, but to starve herself just because of her, then that would be such a pity.
With eyes showing no signs of drowsiness, Liu Feng inadvertently sweeps a glance towards the case, only to see Qu Qing Yin hugging her knees as she sits on top of the mountain temple’s platform, her whole body dry, held in her embrace is her bag, her head lying on top of it, looks like she has already fallen asleep.
“I’m going to starve to death soon, you lot quickly go and bring back something to eat.” The silence in the large hall was interrupted by Shui Su Yun’s voice.
Several Fei Ying Bao guards looks around at one another, amongst them, two decisively receives the order, reporting “Your subjects here shall go, may missy wait.”
“All of you go, quickly find me something to eat.”
 Hero as in dà xiá / 大侠 – a respectful term used to address honoured pugilist of the wulin world.
And that’s it for the first part of the Chapter One! I hope everyone will enjoy reading this novel, it’s a nice little light-read. And Qu Qing Yin, the female protagonist here is just so lovable in a really cool and funny way, definitely not someone you can mess with. Though I don’t really like how the male protagonist, Liu Feng, takes an interest in her the first day they’ve met. I mean I never liked this love first sight sort of thing in stories, and I guess the irritation peaked after watching Frozen (I hope I didn’t offend any Frozen fans out there). I feel like this novel is kind of like having him constantly chase her around but he is an interesting character, funny in his own right too.