|Author: Zhou Nan Wood||Original Source: 8kana|
|Translator: CatatoPatch||English Source: Re:Library|
High up in the heavens, there hung the moon, bathing the sky with a demonic glow. Down in the mortal realm, the rivers of wine flowed, filling the scene with a pungent alcoholic aroma.
Though spring was almost over, the plum blossoms were still in full bloom, their flowery fragrance mixing together with the alcohol in an intoxicating dance. Sitting right beside one such plum blossom tree was a person dressed in flowing white robes. Silhouette illuminated by the silvery moon, he raised a white jade-like cup into the air, and gently sipped on it, eyes closed as if he was actually drunk.
This was the realm beyond the realms, a heaven outside of heaven.
That person had extraordinarily beautiful features, a face that could stand toe to toe with the heavenly moon above and the blooming plum blossoms beside him. Yet, this person was a man.
A bald man, no less.
He was the man previously known as Wuxin, a monk who used to reside in the Snow Peak Temple. Today, he was the sect master of the Outheaven, Ye Anshi.
Drinking alone beneath the moon had always been a lonely, desolate affair, not at all helped by the fact that there was even a hint of snowfall in the background. Reaching out, he tried to catch a falling snowflake, but before he could, it melted. A sigh escaped his lips, his brows knitted together and his head lowered once more to finish what was left of his drink. Yet just as he did so, a flower drifted onto his drink, and he smiled, elegance incarnate.
From the western walls came a faint rustling, so faint that it sounded like the rustle of a flower blooming. Ye Anshi was aware of the rustling, but he chose not to pay it heed. Instead, he scattered his wine onto the floor and raised his head to look at the sky.
‘This should be the last one…’ Ye Anshi faintly smiled to himself in contemplation as he walked up to the nearby blossom tree and stretched his white fingers out to pluck a plum blossom.
All of a sudden, the light snowfall became chaotic. As if a hurricane was approaching it, the plum blossom tree started to sway furiously about. Finally, the plum blossoms fell down in a rain, mixing together with the faint snow that had suddenly accelerated, and clouded the eyes of Ye Anshi. Even so, he wasn’t the least bit fazed by this sudden change, merely silently staring at the plum blossom on his fingers as before.
Suddenly, a black shadow flashed past his eyes, tearing right through that beautiful vortex of snow and flowers. It was a knife as black as night, one that gave off a fiendish gleam as it stabbed through the flowery veil and right towards Ye Anshe. Yet just as it was about to pierce his chest, Ye Anshi made his move. His entire body shifted backwards, and with a light flick of his hands, a plum blossom was sent flying towards the source of that knife.
The figure was shocked. She hurriedly pulled back her knife, barely escaping the plum blossom with a graze on her sides.
“It was said that the Black Knife, Lunar Rain, would give off a sinister glow when its murderous intent was at its peak. Over a decade has passed and that same blade has shown itself once more.” Ye Anshi righted his posture and smiled. “It’s just… you’re not Uncle Li, he died twelve years ago. You’re his…daughter?”
“Haven’t I seen you before, back when I was still young? You’re Li Yunyan?” Ye Anshi asked after pausing for a second. An image of a girl suddenly appeared in his mind. Back then, she always had her hair tied upwards in a knot and was every bit a fierce tomboy. Yet here she was now, an elegant, beautiful lady. It was a shame that she was also another person’s knife now.
“Duan Chenyi has been eyeing the seat of sect master for twelve years. He even went so far as to create his own death squad of twelve, the “Rain Knives”. Yet, never in his wildest dreams did he expect me to return all of a sudden, after twelve years. So, he escaped, and left behind his twelve knives to kill me. Two days ago, there were four. Yesterday, there were seven. Today, there’s only you left. You know full well that you won’t win, so why do you still rush to your death?” Ye Anshi slowly walked up to his assassin.
“Is it because…you love him?” Ye Anshi suddenly stopped and asked.
The assassin snapped her head up, her knife emitting that fiendish glow once more.
Yet, Ye Anshi seemed completely oblivious to that change as he walked back to the plum blossom tree and softly sighed, “The plum blossoms of the Painted Snow Villa always liked to wilt without any warning. It was often this time that a light snowfall would occur. Back when Dad was still alive, he would always wait for this exact moment of wilting to witness this beautiful scenery -he used to call it the premature death of the snow. He felt that when the plum blossoms wilted, the snow was already dead. I was planning to watch this long awaited scenery myself, till you ruined it with that slash of your knife.
The assassin looked at the flower filled floor, her eyes suddenly darkening. When she was young, she had often witnessed the dad that Ye Anshi mentioned watching the snow in this very courtyard. Back then, it felt like the man had become a part of the scenery itself. The assassin closed her eyes and tightly gripped down on her knife. An instant later, before Ye Anshi could even register the move she made, that black flash was already piercing through the snow, rushing right at him.
He softly waved his hand, causing the scattered blossoms to rise once more before charging right at the assassin, blanketing the glow of her knife in an instant. Feeling the immense resistance in her knife and no longer able to advance, her eyes snapped open in shock, only to find that her field of vision had already been obscured by the veil of snow and sliced up flowers.
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A moment later, Ye Anshi watched the assassin standing before him faint, his hand ever so gently catching her as she did so, brushing away the flowers on her body in the process. It was then that two other figures walked into the courtyard, one with white hair and a jade-like sword, the other dressed completely in purple.
The White Hair Immortal and the Violet Duke.
“Take her away, she should have forgotten everything after a nap. Now that the twelve Rain Knives are broken, I’ll leave it up to you two whether or not to hunt down Duan Chenyi.” Ye Anshi looked up at the glowing moon and suddenly sighed, “Night has given way to the season of White Dew, yet the moon still shines brighter in my hometown.”1
The White Hair Immortal raised his head as well. “And where does the sect master’s hometown lie? The Outheaven, or the Snowy Peak Temple?” He asked with a smile.
“Do you know where my father hailed from, before he joined the Outheaven?”
The White Hair Immortal was taken aback for a second. He shook his head and replied, “The former sect master never brought up matters about his past.”
“It’s Hangzhou. Before I was four, I stayed with my father in Hangzhou. If there was a place I considered my hometown, it would have to be Hangzhou.” Ye Anshi stared into the distance as he continued, “I remember there used to be a crystal clear lake in front of our door, on its shores were willows -my mother used to like combing her hair while facing that lake. It’s just…one morning, others found her comb at her usual spot, but she was nowhere to be found. After that, he brought me here.”
“He built this Painted Snow Villa and became the sect master of Outheaven. Then, he subjugated the other sects in the region. Finally, he made his way into the Central Plains, confidence brimming and grandeur abound. Yet, I always felt that, deep down, he didn’t know where he was heading.”
“If my memory serves me right, my father actually died in Hangzhou. Where one’s hometown is located isn’t important. Wherever there are people that care for you…that’s where your hometown truly is.”
“That’s why, whether it’s Snow Peaks Temple or Painted Snow Villa, neither are my hometown.” Ye Anshi waved his hand, and a single petal of plum blossoms floated into his hand, to which he brought it up to his nose for a sniff.
“If I’m not mistaken, Sect master once said that he wishes to see the ends of the earth and the lands beyond the seas.” The Violet Duke suddenly chimed in.
To that, Ye Anshi nodded his head and smiled. “That’s right. I do wish to see the ends of the world. After all, I’m not old yet, I can’t always be thinking about settling down.”
- In the past, the Chinese separated the year into 24 solar terms, White Dew (Bailu) was one of them. In terms of 2019, this period would last from 8th September to 23rd September.