(translated by xia0xiao1mei)
(edited by anniaxx)
The Big Wedding Day
Ten days later, at Cloud-Rising Mountain.
The red curtains across the mountains and plains declare the Bai Yue Sect’s joyous occasion, everywhere is a lively scene of beating drums and clanging gongs.
The bride who should be sitting in her private room, is currently dressed in a red robe, staying by an unconscious woman’s side.
“Rong Gu-Gu, when will you finally be able to open your eyes?”
She caresses the woman’s pale face, crystal tears sitting in her eyes.
“Wan Wan is already about to wed someone, should you still not wake up, you won’t be able to see me in my wedding gown.”
The woman remains completely motionless.
“Do you not want to know what kind of a person Wan Wan is marrying?” She sticks her face next to the woman’s bloodless cheek, a drop of hot tear sliding down, “Open your eyes and take a look at me ah.”
“Sheng Gu mustn’t miss the auspicious hour, leaving Young Master to wait.” The maid is afraid she will ruin her makeup with tears, and hurriedly steps forward to interrupt as she advises her.
Pang Wan once again reluctantly let two drops of tears slip out, then nods her head, sits up straight.
The maid wipes away her tears with a handkerchief, and fix her makeup with a bit of powder, then quickly helping her out.
It is finally the chosen time.
Although it is said that the bride and groom have grown up together since young, and their living quarters are no more than a few moments away, the bridal sedan procedure definitely cannot be one to be lacking in. Sect Leader has specially arranged for the bride to sit in an eight-bearer sedan, all gongs and flutes sounding as they circle around the mountain, accepting countless fresh flowers, peanuts, longan and red dates from the sect’s people, before being sent into the main hall.
The groom looking like a jade tree stood against the wind, with a red silk ribbon draping across his shoulder and a red flower pinned to his chest, is already stood at the doors to welcome her, following behind him are seven pairs of little boys and girls holding red candles, the auspicious hour has come, the firecrackers sounds, drums and gongs playing in harmony, a blazing firepan is lit in front of the doors.
The groom stands before the hall with his head held high, raising a bow as he releases three imaginary arrows towards the above of the sedan doors, signifying the dispelling of evil spirits.
The bearers tilt the sedan forward, and the bride appears covered in a red bridal veil, under the wedding lady’s guidance, she steps across the fire pan, supported by the arm, she then steps onto the red carpet of the wedding hall, and stands facing the double happiness (囍) symbol with the groom. (Wedding lady or xǐ niáng / 喜娘 is like a matron of honour in modern terms, but is actually a woman employed to attend to the bride and assist the wedding ceremony in ancient times)
Dragon-phoenix wedding candles are lit, the Heart Character incense burning, an auspicious air enshrouding the venue, the wedding officiant uses a red and green silk damask ribbon and ties it to the two people, making it “red-green silk thread, one line of connection”.
The drums sound, “First bow to the heaven and earth——” The wedding officiant’s bright and clear voice rings.
The bride and groom kneels and bows towards the double happiness symbol.
“Second bow to the high court——” (High court here refers to one’s elders, parents in most cases)
The bride and groom kneels and bows towards Zuo Huai An who is currently sat on the Tai Shi armchair, already smiling to the point his lips can no longer remain closed.
“Husband and wife bow to one another——”
The bride and groom turns their bodies, face to face.
Unexpectedly, the two people doesn’t immediately proceed to bow, but seems to be waiting for something, pausing at the same time.
“Wait!” A shrill cry sounds from the wedding hall.
The bride instantly releases a sigh, not caring for any unnecessary and over-elaborate formalities, with one lift of the bridal veil, she reveals her pretty little face.
At the doors of the main hall, stands an unfamiliar woman in a body of white, a dismal expression hanging on that beautiful face.
“Little Yi, how could you marry her? How could you?” With the posture of a dead wood, nails digging deep marks into the wooden doors, looking at Nan Yi with eyes filled with resentment, “You have clearly promised before, you will only marry one wife in your lifetime!”
Pang Wan is instantly struck dumb.
By the sounds of it, it seems like Nan Yi’s old lover has come forward, but Nan Yi has clearly only liked one Lady Mei Wu before ah! This woman in white may be beautiful, but her appearance clearly falls far short from that of Mei Wu’s, how is that the fairy-like lady at the mountaintop that day?
Pang Wan subconsciously turns to look at Nan Yi, but sees his face seeming to be covered in a thin layer of ice, unable to catch a clear look of his true expression no matter what.
“What lowly woman has come to interrupt the ceremony?!” Not waiting for Zuo Huai An to utter a word, Shi Jue Ming had already struck his palm towards the woman, but only sees a white flash, and that woman had already avoided the attack as she soars into the air and passes by.
Seeing that his attack had missed, Shi Jue Ming, rapidly performs successive strikes.
“Little Yi! How could you simply just watch others harm me?!” The woman cries out whilst evading, extremely grieved, “Little Yi! Little Yi!”
This clear and sharp sound of the two words “Little Yi”, filled with limitless sorrow, is simply heart-shattering to hear.
“Hold it.” Nan Yi finally speaks.
Shi Jue Ming casts a glance at the person sat in the Tai Shi armchair, and silently withdraws.
“You didn’t die.” Nan Yi gazes at the woman in white, and deeply says this.
His voice is very steady, unable to detect any trace of sorrow or joy, but Pang Wan feels that, his calmness is no more than a mask stuck on his face.
“Little Yi, forgive me.” The woman covers her face, crying like a pear blossom bathed in rain, “Forgive me!”
“So this is your real appearance?” Nan Yi’s voice had already turned bone penetratingly cold.
The woman in white drops to her knees as she ceaselessly cries, muttering: “Forgive me, forgive me……I didn’t want to deceive you……the wedding ceremony that day, I too had no choice……”
Within a moment of lightning striking the rocks, Pang Wan finally understands, this woman in white is Mei Wu!
As though a wakeup call rang through her head, her entire body of pumping blood freezes.
——Mei Wu is still alive? Then who was it that died that day? Why is Rong Gu-Gu lying in coma? In order to find out the truth behind her death, she and Nan Yi, one almost became a cripple, one consumed by his power, only to find that in the end, the culprit is alive and well, and is still able to appear at the wedding to interrupt the ceremony!
She was practically stunned into forgetting to breathe.
But sees Nan Yi taking a deep breath.
“Good, very good.” He grits his teeth as he says this, jaw tightening, knuckles turning white, “Your face is fake, you saying you don’t know martial arts is also fake, even your death, is fake as well.”
“Speak! Who exactly are you?!” He roars, directly pulling out the Flying Eagle Sword from his waist side.
With a sound of “ca”, the frosty air overflows from the blade, seeing the bridegroom’s entire body emitting a steamy air of murderous intent, the wedding guests all take a big step back.
Zuo Huai An on the Tai Shi armchair suddenly bursts out laughing.
“How’s that? Now you know, why I said she isn’t worthy for you?”
Zuo Huai An’s face reveals an expression of extreme heartfelt pleasure.
“If I further tell you, she is simply a spy sent here by someone, would you still hold any feelings of compassion for her at all?” He spitefully casts a glance at Mei Wu, “Relying on beauty to kill for money, women like this simply deserves to die!”
Not waiting for Nan Yi’s reply, Mei Wu had already crawled over, clinging to Nan Yi’s leg.
“No! It’s not like that!” The tears on her face seems to have a life of its own as it inexhaustibly continues to stream out, “Little Yi, I have never thought of harming you! Never!”
Nan Yi lowers his lashes as he looks at her, as though his entire person had just been fished out from an icehouse.
“Why did you fake your death?” He lightly asks.
Mei Wu who was in the midst of wailing, shrinks back a little.
“Ha-ha-ha!” Zuo Huai An once again bursts out laughing, “Silly child! Do you still not understand? her real identity had been discovered by me, thus coming up with such a ‘cicada casting off its skin’  plan! This woman has a face of a white lotus, but is a snake at heart, venomously vicious to the extreme!”
Nan Yi sinks into silence, he does not pay attention to Zuo Huai An, his eyes just digging straight into Mei Wu.
“You found a substitute? You gave her the fake face?” He quietly asks this, “In order to escape, you killed the maids I sent to protect you? You chopped off their heads? You even knocked Rong Gu unconscious?” Having spoken to this point, his voice had already started to tremble slightly.
Mei Wu dejectedly releases both her hands, with even more tears surging out: “I, I didn’t harm Rong Gu……”
These words does not mention the previous accounts of crime.
——enough, this is already enough.
Nan Yi raises his head, taking a deep deep breath.
Don’t know if this is a misconception, Pang Wan notices something seemingly glistening sweep past his eyes.
“Lord You, drag this woman out of the hall, sentence her to death by hanging under the sect’s regulations.” Nan Yi turns around, face already restoring a cold demeanour.
“No!” Mei Wu widens her eyes in disbelief, mouth issuing an earth-shattering scream.
“Little Yi! How could you treat me like this? Do you not love me anymore Little Yi?! Did you forget the oath you made me?” She stands up in panic, wanting to hug Nan Yi, “I risked my life to come here all for you ah! Little Yi!”
“Who are you? I don’t even know you.” Nan Yi pushes her away with one move, returning towards the wedding hall without even looking back.
Shi Jue Ming receives the order and steps forwards, grabbing hold of the already collapsed Mei Wu and drags her away.
Zuo Huai An heartily laughs and claps: “Good on you! You are indeed my son!”
Nan Yi does not care about other people, directly walking to Pang Wan.
“Silly girl, why did you lift your veil, how inauspicious.” He playfully says.
He may be smiling, but his entire body is trembling, like a bow stretched to its limit, should it be stretched a little bit more, it will immediately snap.
Pang Wan quietly gazes back at him, eyes gradually coated in mist.
——his suffering, she deeply knows.
——there is no torture more painful than being deceived by your beloved.
“Senior Brother……” All of a sudden, thousands and thousands of words rushes up her heart, yet she is unable to say anything, and can only let slip a drop of tear, the tip of her nose and eyes turning red.
Yet Nan Yi understands the words she didn’t manage to say.
“Look, we truly are fellow sufferers with mutual sympathy.” He self-mockingly says, raising his thumb to wipe away her tear, also suppressing the bitterness in his heart at the same time.
Pang Wan leans into his arms, heart pained to the point her face was drenched in tears.
Never has anyone seen a bride hugging the groom as she cries into a ball before completing the wedding ceremony, the wedding lady is stunned, everyone exchanging glances.
“What you waiting for, aren’t you going to hurry and continue?!” Zuo Huai An throws his sleeve towards the already blank faced wedding officiant.
“This marriage cannot happen!”
All that can be heard is a loud shout, and a pale faced patient enters the big hall with the support of a maid.
Pang Wan having cried in heavy flows, was suddenly startled to a stop by this voice, inwardly thinking could it be another Mei Wu?
Raising her head, turns out, this is far more shocking than Mei Wu’s arrival.
“Rong Gu-Gu!” Not even caring to wipe away her tears, she hurriedly runs towards her, a face of sincere joy, “Rong Gu-Gu you’ve woken up? You’re better? You can walk?”
However, Rong Gu-Gu’s face is exceptionally solemn, showing no signs of happiness.
“Sheng Gu, you cannot marry Young Master.” She grabs Pang Wan’s hands, giving it a tight squeeze, “Cannot marry!”
“Rong Gu! The big wedding day is no time for you to be acting so impudently! Young Master and Sheng Gu have both grown up together since childhood, this day is a marriage set by the heavens, why must you obstruct it?!” Zuo Huai An stands up from the Tai Shi armchair, a valiant face filled with hostility.
Rong Gu-Gu does not panic, and just coldly looks at Nan Yi, tone filled with reproach: “Young Master! You clearly know the reason, why must you agree to this marriage?”
Nan Yi lowers his eyes and does not answer, a trace of pain flashing past his face.
“Young Master, could it be, you wish to personally watch such disgrace happen?!”
Rong Gu-Gu sees that he is not answering, and was angered into throwing aside the maid’s supporting hand, a trembling finger pointing forward, her already hoarse voice turns frantic, “Zuo Nan Yi! Your conscience has been eaten by a dog! You can even carry out such incestuous matter between brother and sister?!”
These words threw the entire place into an uproar.
Pang Wan’s entire person freezes.
“Rong Gu-Gu?” She turns to look at her, little face frightened pale white, “What did you say? Brother Nan Yi is my what?”
Rong Gu-Gu looks at her, eyes gradually filling up with tears.
“Sheng Gu, you are Sect Leader’s biological daughter ah! The former Sheng Gu had only brought you along in escape, because you are her and Sect Leader’s illegitimate child, she does not have the face to see Sect Leader Madam ah!”
She pulls Pang Wan into her arms, a face full of bitter pain.
“You and Young Master are biological siblings of the same father and different mother, that’s why this marriage cannot happen, absolutely cannot happen ah!”
Having finished hearing these words, Pang Wan’s body sticks to the floor, steps so heavy, she cannot possibly lift her feet.
She looks at Nan Yi in confusion, but sees him close both eyes in pain, as though his most secretive wound had been dug open by someone, exposed under the watchful eyes of the crowd.
“No, this isn’t true.” She turns to find Zuo Huai An for help, “Sect Leader, you tell me, exactly whose child am I?”
Zuo Huai An sits on the Tai Shi armchair.
His five fingers have already deeply imprinted into the armrests, however, his face still maintains a look of a pale calmness.
“Rong Gu, no matter what you say, it is useless, today’s marriage must definitely go through. Someone come, guide Rong Gu down to watch the ceremony.”
He casually commands.
 Cicada casting off its skin or jīn chán tuō ké / 金蝉脱壳 is a saying that refers to a strategized escape or a disappearance act from an entangled situation, just like how a cicada leave behind its cast-off part in moulting.