White smoke beckons in the hazy sky, the air cold with a slight drifting fragrance winding its way to the nose, curling seductively around her footsteps as she moves inexorably forward into the cloud and disappears from sight.
It’s in this place that in these ten years, she doesn’t know how many times she dreamt of – she looks at the fine white hands that are definitely not hers and most importantly at the sword in her grasp.
It was a sword she’d never seen before, more than three feet long and light in weight with a golden gleam on the metal. The blade trembles as thought if it were not controlled, it would have the power to destroy the heavens.
It feels a little weird to be in this dream in a body not under her control, walking forward without her direction. She can’t wake up even if she opens her eyes.
She knows it’s a dream. She clearly knows it’s not her body.
She also knows that behind the fanned sandalwood door in front of her, there is nothing good. But her body still moves forward as though there’s a demon pushing her on to see what’s behind the door.
The lock is covered in dust is very small and dirty, but actually the most ancient and strongest magic barrier under the heavens. The strangest thing is, this magic lock’s chains aren’t around the door but rather emanate from the door on outwards. She reaches out her hands to push open the closed door, not knowing if it’s her own heart or that of the body’s owner beating like thunder.
The door opens without a sound.
In a moment, a strongly evil presence pours forth, affecting her breathing.
She doesn’t retreat but the sword in her hands trembles. Two extremely high towers reach into the skies, the myriad locking chains stretched upwards and crisscrossing with mystical words hanging in the middle. A strong, cold and lifeless air billows forth.
Apparently someone is imprisoned.
She walks along the barrier towards the center of the chains, the sight becoming clearer.
Suddenly a strike of lightning comes from the air, revealing a silhouette and scattering the many evil spirits as it lands. It also illuminates perfect shoulders and thick turbulent hair that seems to have been broken off, fluttering in the middle of the spell.
She raises her sword.
As though sensing something, the silhouette looks back with a conflicted and troubled face. A dark green eye blinks; like she’s fallen into a bowl of clear water. Those eyes like feicui jade are as splendid as stars.
She feels herself laugh lightly. The lock breaks easily under her sword, the spelling burning up and smoke whistling out, the pillars cracking. Heaven and earth seems to shake.
As though in a trance, the silhouette disappears. She seems to hear low laughter not yet dispersed. Suddenly blue lights flash, sinister-looking scales surging like thunder, quickly striking in her direction.
Her body becomes immovable, the sword in her hand shaking. She is unwilling to be devoured.
Blankly, she thinks of an idea and blurts out: “Are you an evil niqiu spirit?”
That green, worrisome tail lit with electric light suddenly froze and stopped in front of her nose, a breath blowing her bangs into a mess. By the time she recovered herself and could speak — had just taken a breath — she saw the green tail disappear into the smoke and turn into blue hemmed robes, slightly rippling.
She squints her eyes to try to see clearer, surrounded by darkness, when her body suddenly falls. She struggles but can’t prevent herself from falling continuously down, down – without stop –
Gu XiaoMo sits up in her bed, her forehead covered in beads of sweat. She dreamed of that door again.
Stupidly, she sits there for a long time before smiling bitterly. To be able to see whoever is behind the door is already a great improvement, maybe next time in the dream she’ll be able to see the true face of that niqiu spirit.
Gu XiaoMo lies back down on the bed, sprawling messily so her robes gape indecently and reveal the green undergarment’s strings. She shifted lazily, hugging her blankets and pulling herself to the edge of the bed, her bottom sticking out in the air. After a long time passed she started to feel cold, about to pull the blankets over herself again and have a good sleep. Suddenly a knocking sound came from the carved redwood doors.
“Senior apprentice sister! We’re already very worried, how come you still haven’t come out yet?”
Gu XiaoMo pondered for a moment whether to answer her junior apprentice sister outside the door or silently play dead.
“Today Mistress will inspect the flying swords! Master said that if senior apprentice sister dares to be late like normal, this old man will……”
Gu XiaoMo remembered Master’s words from yesterday when she was late to the lesson, cursed quietly, and rose from her bed with a rustle.
When she finally pushes open the door, little apprentice sister Suo Ying stands outside. She wears pink clothes and possesses phoenix-red lips, beautiful eyebrows and nose, and sweet dimples. Often people haven’t seen but have heard the laughter like silver bells carrying over from far away.
Gu XiaoMo picks up her sword, her stomach making a gululu sound. Her face falls: “Has breakfast already been closed?”
Suo Ying sees Gu XiaoMo’s sleepy-eyed appearance and her mouth curves up. She pulls from her waist an oiled-paper parcel, laughing: “These steamed buns were personally made by Mistress, I secretly took three.”
The oiled-paper parcel is still emitting heat. Gu XiaoMo’s eyes shine brightly and she glomps her while saying: “My little apprentice-sister is still the one who treats me the best!”
Suo Ying laughs warmly, holding Gu XiaoMo’s hands and saying lightly: “It’s best to eat and walk, we should go quickly to the cultivation pavilion.”
Gu XiaoMo drummed her two cheeks and gave a big sigh before walking with Suo Ying.
Only after the early autumn sunlight seems like it’s about disappear has Gu XiaoMo come to the top of the mountain, her calves tired and aching and herself about to show the whites of her eyes. The scene in front of her is truly peaceful, her junior apprentice brothers and sisters cultivating along with Mistress. In front of a little pavilion ahead of the stairs, there is someone sitting comfortably, cultivating while repeating three words meticulously with people standing in front of him in a row. Suo Ying stuck out her tongue, saying in a low voice, “It seems like Master is already here.”
In front of the cultivation pavilion a yellow-robed, middle-aged man held out his hand and stood. His elegant fingers emerged from the sleeves lined with simple designs. He is TianYan sect’s Master Zhang Mo Wei. But his expression is full of thunder and lightning, staring unhappily at that blossoming young girl coming from far away.
Fine, he’s actually looking at that blurry gray shadow behind the young girl.
Once upon a time, Gu XiaoMo also wore beautiful white celestial clothes but after three days, her white robes had already become ancient history and buried at the bottom of her chest. Those muddy marks on the lining, oil stains on the collar, and cuffs clearly showing to all what she ate or did without any mystery. Gu XiaoMo does not want people to be able to see through her at a glance, so she changed to black clothes and could at last do whatever she wanted to her heart’s content. Unfortunately, as she found out while sparring with Second elder apprentice-brother and stepped into a mud pile, black is also a tricky color.
How can there be such a wonderful color in the world? Not so easy to get dirty no matter what you do or if you get blown away. Furthermore, you can wear it for a full month before washing these outer robes. Such a beautiful dream!
So there are two eighteen years old girls, one who grows more and more beautiful and the other who is old-fashioned and dowdy.
Mo Wei lightly coughed, the prelude to lecturing his disciples. Suo Ying and Gu XiaoMo stood straight as boards, facing the ground very seriously as though they could dig up a coin from the ground.
“Late again to early class, you are punished to sweep the cultivation pavilion for one month.” Mo Wei is stern, causing Gu XiaoMo’s heart to cry tears like crazy. Even though she’s usually late, late once a day at least, come to think of it she’s been late for two mornings and three days… Master must be really angry, to sentence her for one month…… she will have to get up bright and early to sweep. She uneasily raised her head a little and saw Suo Ying’s grieved face, at which point she felt some guilt at involving this little apprentice-sister of hers.
“Dad, XiaoMo and YingYing know they’re wrong and won’t do it ever again. Please lift the punishment?” Standing amid the disciples stands a man with slanted brows and brilliant eyes robed all in white. It is the eldest apprentice-brother Mo QingYuan. Know wrong? Faced with Gu XiaoMo’s great achievements in being late, Mo Wei also humphed at his son and scolded him mercilessly: “You as their older apprentice-brother shouldn’t take care of them all the time.”
When Master is angry, only the carefree eldest apprentice-brother is able to speak freely. Third elder apprentice-brother Du YuCheng who is also present and fourth elder apprentice-brother Du YuQi put away their laughing faces for the same wooden expression, staring seriously at a big pine tree in the distance. Gu XiaoMo thinks their serious expressions are very funny. Second elder apprentice-brother Yun Xiao and fifth elder apprentice-brother Fu Ye have gone down the mountain to exterminate demons and gain experience. This is why these apprentice-brothers have risen in rank.
“Here.” Gu XiaoMo said while covered in cold sweat, quickly standing at attention.
“What did Master say yesterday?”
“Master said, dinner was a little salty, told Mistress to put less salt.”
Du YuCheng didn’t focus hard enough and almost laughed out loud.
Mo Wei stiffly said: “Scatterbrain, what I said was after practice finished yesterday.”
Gu XiaoMo put her hands behind her back and stammered: “Master said, everyone should return to rest a little early.”
“Before that sentence.”
“I’ll throw you down the mountain!”
“One more sentence before that.”
“If today you still can’t get the sword to fly……”
“Very good.” Mo Wei raised his hand: “If today you still can’t succeed, throwing you down the mountain will become a necessity. See if you can fly!”
—End Chapter 1—
Feicui: A kind of very good, expensive jade.
Niqiu: Loach. In China, it’s this slippery black fish like a tadpole and equally lively. It’s edible too. XD
Undergarment: Dudou (肚兜), a kind of undergarment worn in ancient times. It’s like someone crossed an apron with a halter top.
Mistress: Teacher/Master’s wife. I’m using this instead of shiniang.
Whites of her eyes: People/animals’ eyes automatically show only the whites after dying. Basically Gu XiaoMo is about to expire lol.
YingYing: Sometimes a person’s name can be changed like this to express closeness/endearment. It’s like calling someone whose name is Catherine, “Katie.” In this case, SuoYing’s name is being made ‘cuter’ by getting changed to YingYing.