(translated by anniaxx)
(edited by xia0xiao1mei)
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
Real Or Fake
Today is the time for “the story behind the Blazing Needles” again. Pang Wan sings her little songs and walks to the study room with lively steps.
She did not think that someone would be standing in front of the study room’s door, blocking her path.
“Lady, please stop here.” Jin Di Luo places both hands behind his back, standing there like an iron wall.
“Why?” Pang Wan looks at him alertly —— this person not only have high martial arts skill, but also seems deeply scheming, she has already stuck the “should not be overlooked” label on him in her heart.
“Our young master is meeting a guest, may I ask lady to please come on another day.” Jin Di Luo smiles politely and distantly.
Pang Wan slightly pauses, then also tilts her head and responds with a sweet smile, “I’ll head back first then.”
After leaving the study room, she did not walk the road that takes her back to her room; but with no one noticing, she quietly flipped into the lotus pond.
To get close to the study room without even the gods and ghosts noticing, is also possible to achieve through the underwater way.
When she was twelve, Nan Yi once kicked her into the river, almost drowning her to death. Ever since then, she has always been mastering her swimming skills. Now, she can at least be considered a “white fish in the waves” .
After burying the Blazing Needles and quietly swimming across to the other side, she sneakily climbs near the window and holds her breath as she lurks there.
——He Qing Lu is a fan of mechanics. He would not stop researching about it unless something urgent and important happens. Plus the guard at the door this time is Jin Di Luo, the most trusted one and also the most mysterious one in the house.
She is more or less curious.
“…may gentleman make another face.”
An old and hoarse voice comes from inside, sounds like an old-aged man.
“Humph, you say I should make it, so I will make it? My best masterpiece has already been destroyed by you,what makes you think you have the right to ask me to make another one?”
This slightly cold answer, is He Qing Lu.
“Destroying that face was really not by our means, but we had no other choice at all; therefore, my master specially offers one hundred thousand pieces of silver to express our apology to gentleman.”
The old man speaks apologetically.
Pang Wan unconsciously covers her mouth —— one hundred thousand pieces! Oh my grandmother!
“One hundred thousand pieces?” He Qing Lu’s voice sounds like he is smiling, yet also especially cold, “Your master sure thinks highly of me.”
“We don’t dare, we don’t dare! The one hundred thousand pieces of white silver are only to show our apology. Should gentleman be willing to make another face, my master shall pay one hundred thousand pieces of gold.” The old man’s voice is really humble.
Pang Wan’s pupils are about to fall out of her eyes.
“You assume that making a face is an easy task?” He Qing Lu’s voice clearly shows anger, “Not to mention a face like that one!”
“No need to say more, I have already decided, I will not make one again.” He shows his will for the old man to leave.
It was silent for a moment inside the room. Then she hears that old man weirdly laughs, convincing him, “Gentleman has a body full of proud bones, my master understands that. These one hundred thousand pieces of white silver shall be left here as our apology, please reconsider this for another few days, Hu An shall not interrupt gentleman any longer.”
Then it is the sound of doors closing.
Pang Wan is a little bit surprised, because she did not hear any footsteps, so that old man must be a master of light body skill.
The room returns back to its previous quietness.
No need for further eavesdropping, Pang Wan carefully turns to leave, not noticing a silver string that is thin to the point of being invisible below her feet.
“Ding-Ling-Ling!” Right at the moment she steps onto the sliver string, a crisp bell sounds.
——how could she forget that He Qing Lu is a vicious mechanic master?!
There is already no time to get mad, the sounds of wind come from behind, hidden weapons piercing through the air as they come shooting towards her, Pang Wan instinctively rolls on the floor to avoid them, but did not expect to have set off ever more silver strings. In the midst of “Ding-Ding” sounds criss-crossing, countless plum-blossom-needles emerge from all directions; at the same time, there is a loud “zeng” sound, a dark feather arrow heads straightly toward her face. In this rapid moment with her life at risk, Pang Wan flings out the snake-like golden whip with her left hand; with one wrap and one pull, it drags onto the arrow and throws it into the lake. In the same second, her right hand pulls off her outer garment; with one wave and one spin, all the plum-blossom-needles have been gathered within.
All these moves were just within seconds.
“Pia-pia.” Two crisp hand-claps sound behind her.
Pang Wan has still not calmed her breathing yet. She turns with her chest rising and falling, and sees He Qing Lu leaning on the windowsill, looking at her. His amber-coloured eyes show complete calmness.
“My mechanics are truly excellent.” Looking at Pang Wan full of mud, he lifts the corner of his mouth to a very beautiful curve.
Pang Wan originally thought those applause are for her performance of good martial art skills, but did not think that he simply has his eyes on the mechanics only; she could not resist feeling unhappy.
“Why did you come here?” Gazing at her awkward and embarrassing appearance, He Qing Lu is in an extremely good mood.
“If I say I came here to fish, would you believe me?” Getting caught in the middle of eavesdropping, Pang Wan is very disheartened.
“Believe, how could I not believe you?” He Qing Lu laughs, “Even if you say you came here sleepwalking, I would believe you too.”
——this fellow is clearly showing how he looks down on her! Pang Wan stares at him angrily and embarrassingly.
“Come in.” Unexpectedly, He Qing Lu does not immediately argue with her, turning to walk toward the center of the room.
Pang Wan is anxious, not daring to make a move.
“Could it be that you actually desire to go back wet and muddy?” His voice flows from afar again, containing no emotions.
After he ordered maids to bring water and prepare clothes, Pang Wan is confined within a small space, unable to move.
“So stinky and dirty.” He Qing Lu gives her a disgusted glance, “You are only allowed to stay in that space, do not contaminate any other things. After you leave, there will be people who will clean and burn incense in this room.”
Pang Wan is not yet completely calmed from the previous danger, now also being disliked and scolded by He Qing Lu, she could not resist feeling terribly wronged.
It is now early summer; she only wore a thin pink dress with a rice-white silk gown on the outside. When getting out of the water, she treasured her inner energy so did not use it to dry her clothes, then her silk garment was also pulled off to gather hidden weapons; now, her body is only covered by a completely wet dress. Half of her lotus-root arm is exposed. She feels cold to the bone whenever wind blows, but He Qing Lu also orders her to stand near the window and not to move, saying it is easier to weaken her smell that way.
“Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!” Pang Wan sneezes three times continuously.
He Qing Lu does not even look at her; he slowly gets out a mask from the drawer and wears it on, then continues to work on mechanics.
Pang Wan emotionally collapses——this person completely does not know how to care for girls!!
“Gentleman He, may the window be closed?” She anxiously asks.
“No.” He Qing Lu does not even lift his head, “I need enough light to see these things clearly.”
Pang Wan does not say more, but curses this guy a hundred thousand times in her hearr——had she not pleaded him to make a face for her, she would definitely not treat him this carefully! According to her usual personality in the unorthodox sect, she would have already bestowed him several slaps!
Thinking of the unorthodox sect, she thinks of the Rong Gu Gu who spoils, cares and loves her; she thinks of the career as the Sheng Gu when she could order people around with one gesture, capable of summoning the wind and commanding the rain (?), she could not help to have her eyes turning red, a drop of luminous pearl appears on her eyelashes.
This sorrow could not be stopped once emerged; she starts to bite her lips and quietly sobs, some of the sounds pour into He Qing Lu’s ears.
The gentleman’s eyebrows deeply furrows——it was clearly this little lady who did wrong first, he has not even spoken up to scold her yet, what right does she have to put on such an awfully wronged look? Seeing this just proves what teacher said is correct, woman is the most problematic and most unreasonable creature on earth.
Turning back his head, he sees the maiden hugging her shoulders and shaking consistently, her lips showing a tint of green, her face is overall red, the usual smooth-cream skin also has a layer of goosebumps, appearing extremely pitiful as if someone is bullying her.
He Qing Lu suddenly feels a headache; he takes off his mask, stands up and grabs one of his cloaks to hand to her.
Pang Wan becomes happy. Just when she is about to lift her head to say “thank you”, she sees He Qing Lu showing a constipated look, seeming like he has been greatly humiliated; he says, “This cloak is given to you, burn it after using it no matter what, do not do any stupid things such as washing, ironing and returning it! Also do not put it under your pillow no matter what!”
Pang Wan’s entire body huddles and shakes.
After a long while, she takes the cloak and put it on herself, lightly says, “Okay.”
Another moment passes, the maid has still not returned, Pang Wan cannot endure the emptiness and weirdness in this room, she speaks to break the silence.
“Gentleman really likes to make faces for other people?” She covers herself in the enormous cloak, just exposing a little dirty face, curiously observes He Qing Lu’s every action.
“Not to the extent of liking it, but making faces is really interesting.” He Qing Lu is holding a soft brush gently brushing a thin, milk-white, bone-like object, with an intensively concentrated look.
“How is it interesting?” Pang Wan does not understand; contrarily, she thinks making faces is scary.
“Making fake things to become more and more real, don’t you think it is interesting?”
He Qing Lu squints his eyes and blows a breath toward his hands; the previously milk-white object suddenly becomes crystal-clear.
Pang Wan is dumbfounded of observing this; after a while, she finally speaks, “Gentleman is like the immortals that can do magic.” This statement is purely fluttering.
“You are also like the toad in the lotus pond.” He Qing Lu lifts the tip of his brows, “‘Sounding gua-gua-gua’, so noisy.”
Pang Wan chokes; even “liver and gall cracking” and “heart and lungs rending” cannot describe the wound inside of her now.
“Gentleman’s skill of making faces is this outstanding, then is there a way to tell which faces are fake, which ones are real?” Pang Wan constantly tells herself to resist her desire to be bloodthirsty; she uses her whole strength to calm her breath.
“Of course I can tell.” He Qing Lu answers without any hesitation, “Just that, for you common people, it is harder.”
Pang Wan is once again knocked by “you common people” to the extent of seeing stars.
“Isn’t it just observing if it has hair or not?” She sneers, attempting to win back her dignity, “I remember you said before, faces that are made do not have hair.”
Did not think He Qing Lu would shake his head, “A flawless face even requires me to stick on the hair one by one. Even though it needs extraordinarily long time, I have actually made this kind of face before.”
Pang Wan recalls him saying that a perfect face needs three to five years to complete, hence she believes him.
“So there really is no way to tell between real faces and fake faces?” She is so curious; could it be that He Qing Lu’s skill has already been mastered to an unbelievable extent?
“There is a simplest way.” He Qing Lu smiles, “feel the temperature.”
“Even if the fake face is so thin and so translucent, it is still made by special materials, incapable of conducting heat. As long as you carefully try, you will find that all fake faces are cold.” He smoothly tells, then regretfully sighs, “I have been trying to find a heat-conducting material for these ten years; yet unfortunately, I have no results.”
Pang Wan listens to him with amazement, gazing at He Qing Lu’s white jade-like profile, an idea vaguely emerges in her heart.
——he is so good-looking; could his face also be one of those fake ones?
Thinking about this, her hand unconsciously reaches forward.
“If you dare to touch my face with your dirty hand, today you will need to leave your two arms here!”
A voice that freezes people down to the bones sounds, He Qing Lu gazes at Pang Wan; a trace of sharp danger flashing in his eyes.
Pang Wan’s hand immediately freezes in the air.
Until now, she has already suffered too much dislike and scorn from this noble gentleman, adding up to be even more than the amount of her past five years, Pang Wan finally laughs out of extreme anger.
“Gentleman He!” She employs the “speak as an oriole sings” trick in the art of seduction, and lovingly calls out his name.
“What do you want?” He Qing Lu frowns and looks at her; his lips tightly pressed together.
“Just want to remind you, that bucket of paint just fell on the floor.” Pang Wan purses her red lips, acting soft and pampered.
He Qing Lu instinctively looks down at the floor; in this brief moment fast as lighting and fire stones, Pang Wan suddenly jumps up and leaps in front of him. Her hands presses down both of his arms whilst she lifts her spotted-cat face (dirty face) and quickly rubs it against his cheek.
He Qing Lu is shocked, lifts up and head and attempts to capture her, yet the beautiful maiden in his arms has already jumped out with a single step, and now gracefully stands by the door.
“You only said that I can’t use my hands to touch you; you didn’t say I can’t use my face!” Pang Wan stares at him, laughing playfully and brightly, “My arms definitely can’t be given to you.”
He Qing Lu’s sight fixes on her like an eagle; his back shaking, his entire body seeming to burst with an air of hostility.
Pang Wan sees the situation is bad, she sticks out her tongue and quickly runs away.
“Your face is real! I know now!” She yells as she runs, seeming like she is apologizing.
He Qing Lu’s face is like the dark clouds right before a violent storm.
After a long time, he calms his breath, turns his head to look at the silver mirror on the desk.
A trace of grayish-black pond mud has been added to his face.
“Stain.” He lightly says; his fingertips slightly moves, then that silver mirror cracks into pieces by the pond, finally becomes broken fragments; silver scraps scatter in the air.
 “white fish in the waves”/浪里白条/Làng lǐ bái tiáo: this was originally a nickname of Zhang Shun, a famous navy leader in Water Margin or 《水浒传》, one of the Four Great Classic Novels in Chinese literature. Now, it is used to describe someone who is extremely skilled at swimming.
 “We don’t dare, we don’t dare!”/不敢不敢/bù gǎn bù gǎn: In this case, Hu An actually means “Yes, He Qing Lu, my master thinks high of you. ” This is another interesting and somewhat weird Chinese saying or logic again. Back then, Chinese liked to use negatives as confirmations, such as: when people compliment on your dress, you would say “No, no”, which actually means, “thank you, I know my dress is pretty.” It is because Chinese people think being humble is extremely important.
 plum-blossom-needles/梅花针/Méi huā zhēn: a classic hidden weapon. Countless thin needles shot at the same time to pierce the target.
 constipated look/便秘表情/Biàn mì biǎo qíng: this is a modern funny phrase that describes the facial expression that shows serious struggles.
Translator’s Note: Hey! This is Annie! I am back! In the past month, I really missed you all~I missed Xiaoxiao1mei; I missed translating so much. I’m so happy that I am back to Jiang Hu road is curved now.
So, back to this chapter. 1. I literally yelled out laughing: He Qing Lu! Boy, why don’t you understand a thing about love?! You need to learn how to treat a girl! Pang Wan is not gonna stay with you if you keep behaving like this. 2. I think some foreshadowing is going on over here, in the first half of this chapter. 3. For those of you Nan Yi fans!! Guess what? Nan Yi is finally gonna come back next week~~