Updated: Jan 22
After leaving Qizhou, there were two official roads, one was the way back to the main Fortress, and the other led to Suoyun City. Ke Weiqing got excited and proposed, "I say Lord Xingbao, in recent years, we have rarely traveled together. Let’s check out the scenery. The Hundred Flowers Festival is approaching, and Ben Shao has not participated in it yet!"
Xing Beiming pondered for a while, but he was looking at Ying Qi who hurriedly said, "Master, if you are worried about Shi Qi’s condition, then we just need to travel a bit slower. When we arrive at Suoyun City, I will stay to take care of Shi Qi. Master and Ke Gongzi can relax.”
Shadow Seventeen was about to go down on his knees but was hindered by Xing Beiming’s stern gaze. “This Subordinate is well, Master…”
Xing Beiming waved his hand. "This Bao Zhu has his own plan, first let’s head to Suoyun city, the matter of QiZhou is still unfinished.”
So, the group headed to Suoyun City. Unexpectedly, as the party was about to pass the city gate, it was blocked.
Watching the long queue of people waiting to enter the city’s gate, Ke Weiqing was surprised. "This scene of checking before entering the city has not been seen for a long time, I really missed this! I wonder what happened at Suoyun City?"
A dark-faced man who was walking with his baggage glanced at him and smiled. "Little brother, you must be from out of town. A few days ago, a flower thief arrived at Suoyun City and committed many crimes. Countless girls were victims. The county magistrate ordered that the city be locked down and enforced strict checks to be done when entering and exiting. If you have women with you, little brother needs to be careful!"
Ke Weiqing clasped his hands. “Many thanks for your reminder. From what you’re saying, this flower thief must have excellent martial arts. I’m afraid even in the city…” While saying that, suddenly, there was a loud commotion from what appeared to be an angry merchant. After getting back on his horse, the caravan that followed took off slowly.
The dark-faced man sighed, looked at the large group of people behind Ke Weiqing, and shook his head. "I am afraid it will be difficult for you and your party to enter the city. Beautiful girls, walking merchants...Slightly large teams are prohibited from entering the city. Your group is too conspicuous."
Ke Weiqing returned to the carriage and said, "Isn't it just a flower thief? There aren't many in places like this. Such a rigorous investigation doesn't look like a simple thief..."
Xing Beiming put down the curtain, and said blankly, "The thief is naturally in the city, but I don't know what they are trying to prevent?"
Ke Weiqing closed his fan and said, "That’s right! Even if this is a blockade to catch the flower thief, they can still come in and out easily. This county magistrate takes many measures. I am afraid that there is another inside story, interesting! This trip was not in vain!"
They got out of the carriage and Seventeen and Shadow Seven immediately greeted them, then asked for reasons, waiting for the master to give orders.
Xing Beiming said to the guard Hou Jia, "You go back to Qizhou first, wait for things to clear up there, then return to Yueming City."
Hou Jia obeyed the order, and then returned to the way they came. The four men entered the city easily, but the four of them clearly saw some rough men carrying weapons being stopped outside the city gate. The message was clear: people with rough looks and martial arts were not allowed to enter.
They found an inn to stay and asked about the Hundred Flowers Festival that was coming soon. The answer was that it would still be held as scheduled.
"With the martial law in place, the festival is still held as scheduled? This country magistrate is not afraid of attracting the flower thief," Ke Weiqing remarked, looking at the crowd of guests downstairs.
The downstairs crowd was full of various young brothers and scholars, all of them were discussing the Hundred Flowers Festival happening in three days' time. They were talking about how the first beauty will be selected. Then it turned into a debate of who would become the best beauty in the world. The heated argument turned to anger, nearly causing a fight among the crowd.
Suddenly a faint fragrance came into the lobby, and the people who had been arguing quieted down and looked at the door in unison. In an instant, so focused at the sight, their eyes nearly rolled out.
Four people, two males, and two females. The males, needless to say, got everyone's glare, because they looked better than most of them. One of the girls was wearing a bun, very young, and beautiful. The emerald green belt narrowed the small waist, making it unusually seductive. There was also a woman with a veil and a white gauze skirt, elegant and moving. The delicate fragrance seemed to come from her.
The young girl stared at the crowd and pouted, "Miss, there are no seats left, shall we change the inn?"
She turned out to be a little maidservant, imagine how beautiful the lady would be. Wait, this young lady's fragrance, couldn’t it be the daughter of Jiangnan Li whose family was born with an exceptional fragrance! Legend has it that this woman is so beautiful that even the most beautiful flowers were eclipsed. But the Li family has always been protective, so no one can see her. Had they come for the Hundred Flowers Festival this time?
Before Miss Li could respond, a rowdy man shouted, "Miss, we only have two people, you can squeeze in with us. Come here!"
After hearing that, many more people joined in to offer their hospitality. The young girl smiled like a blossoming flower, and led her Miss to sit down. The veiled lady thanked the crude man who gave them a seat, "Xiǎo nǚ thank you, chevalier."
That ruffian, oh no, had already been promoted to knighthood. He opened his mouth and smiled. Without knowing, one would have thought the lady had agreed to marry him!
Li Wan’er sat down gracefully and said to one of the men with her, "Brother Zou, I didn't expect to arrive three days in advance, yet there are still this many people. Thankfully, you persuaded father to let us leave earlier.”
The little maid continued, “That’s right, after two days there wouldn’t be a place for us to eat anymore. Miss, where shall we rest?”
The man surnamed Zou signaled her not to worry and said softly to Li Wan'er, "Wan'er, wait here, Brother Zou will ask if there is a room available.”
The shopkeeper dialed the abacus pearl, and said apologetically, "Unfortunately, my guests, the last few rooms were taken just now. I’m completely booked, only a few low-level share rooms available. The space is not appropriate for young masters and ladies.”
The man surnamed Zou frowned into the word “川”. They came from another inn. Most of the rooms in the city had been booked in advance, and taking their chances at another house was not great. The two of them can rest casually, but Li Wan’er can never sleep in an inferior room!
"Shopkeeper, as you see Suoyun city inn is full, can you spare a room for the two girls and we pay double the price."
The shopkeeper said in embarrassment, "Guest, this little old man can’t make such a decision. I don’t know if other guests are willing to..."
The little maid covered her cheeks, and there was a cry in her voice, "Miss, we are really unlucky. After a day of exhaustion, there is no place to rest. Can your body bear it..."
Ke Weiqing watched the scene from above for a while, then smirked at Xing Beiming. "Master Xingbao, would you take pity on the jade, and give these ladies a room?" The last four upper rooms were all taken up by them. Even if one room was spared, it would be nothing, but the master did not speak, the others will not make their own decision, and Master Ke will not sacrifice himself to squeeze into a room with others.
Xing Beiming gracefully picked up a piece of shredded eggplant, and ignored him completely. He naturally heard what happened downstairs, but what did it have to do with him?
Ke Weiqing pouted, and continued to watch the show.
Another person seized the opportunity to show courtesy towards the beauty, and gave his room to the two girls, but it was a young man in gold and silver. Looking at the frustrated face of the person standing next to him, he knew that he must have no place to rest now...
Li Wan'er sincerely thanked him, but he refused with no humility.
It was night, Ying Shiqi was lying in bed alone, but what he had in mind was what happened a few days ago. The master knew that Yan Jiazhuang, especially Yan Yunsheng, had problems but did not expose it. Instead, he went to the nearest city by Qizhou to attend the Hundred Flowers Festival. The situation of this Suoyun City is also strange. There are so many visitors from the martial world here, but the soldiers who guard the city say that people with dangerous looks and martial arts cannot enter. From what he had seen, there were all kinds of martial artists on the street. It seems that despite the rules, anyone can enter and leave as they please...
While contemplating those thoughts over and over, there seemed to be a sound outside the room, and there was smoke at the door. Instantly, Seventeen jumped out of his bed, held his breath, and flashed onto the roof of the house. A short while later, he saw a man in black bending over and crouching in, holding a rope in his hand, leaning over to the bed, and looking at it, only the quilt was empty Immediately knowing what happened, he ran towards the window.
How could Seventeen allow him to escape? His body came down like the wind, and he grabbed the man's neck. White smoke was everywhere. Seventeen held his breath, the man was agile, and attempted to break away from the neck hold. But Seventeen held onto him with more force, as he still wanted to keep him alive for the master. When the edge of the blade rubbed against the black-clad intruder's neck, he stopped. Shiqi, in a deep voice, said, "Don't move, move and you’ll be killed!"
At that moment, a woman's scream came from the next room. The man in black swiftly made his move. He knew Seventeen wanted him alive. This time, the elbow strike came straight toward Seventeen’s abdomen. Seventeen wouldn’t have cared, but suddenly remembering the phrase "Take good care of him in the future" said by Xing Beiming, he desperately blocked the attack of the man in black. Within a blink of an eye, the intruder made his escape jumping out the window.
Seventeen flew in pursuit, the two disappeared over the stacked roofs.
The inn heard the commotion at Li's door, the little maid collapsed on the ground, but Miss Li had disappeared. The window beside the bed open, Miss Li obviously taken.
Xing Beiming turned his attention slightly, but he didn't find the usual figure that would follow him as soon as he appeared, frowned, and walked to the next room.
The room was dim, but there was no breathing sound. The air was faintly fragranced by a sweet smell. The window beside the bed was also wide open. Xing Beiming was expressionless, but he growled angrily, "That fool!"
Suoyun City - 锁云城, Suǒ yún chéng, Lock Cloud City
Xiǎo nǚ - 小女, Little Girl, Young Female, (How female addresses themselves as the third person, in a polite manner)
Translator's Note: Thanks for the additional volunteer editors, Mary, and kissed-by-circe, I hope to update a new chapter of Mantou translation once a week.