Chapter 21: Dogful Marriage
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Upon finding an inn to stay for the night, Meng Fuyao took a stroll on the streets. There were shops selling masks, sugar figurines and so on; she was merely killing time.
Things quickly piled up in her hands. As she chewed on a dough figurine, she caught a glimpse of Yao Xun squeezing in and out of the crowd, most probably about to “start work”. She couldn’t help but laugh.
Her distraction caused her to neglect the road passing a corner. As a result, all she heard and saw were the cloud clattering of hooves and a flash of white shadow before she stopped in time and saved herself from getting trampled on by a speeding horse. The horse had an aggressive nature; seeing that someone was obstructing its way, it raised its front hooves, ready to give her a good kick.
Astonished cries filled the streets, but the horseman hurriedly commanded, “Lightning! Halt!”
Meng Fuyao lifted her head up and saw two white and long hooves right before her eyes. Out of instincts, she was about to deal a heavy blow and break them when she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, that the horse was extraordinarily handsome. The next moment, she swiftly retracted her hand, floated off the ground, grabbed its neck and hopped onto its back.
The horseman had left his abode with a load on his mind and hence been riding with minute errors, causing his horse to move too fast, almost injuring some road users. Just as he was fretting over it, he saw the lady jumping up onto his horse and sitting steadily behind him.
“Ah!” He let out in surprise.
He turned his head around naturally, only to receive another shock.
This time, Meng Fuyao let out a startled cry as well.
The man on the horse had a delicate and pretty appearance and was full of poise. Wasn’t he her first love? The man who was about to get married?
Meng Fuyao narrowed her eyes, inwardly lamenting about the coincidences of life. From the healthy glow on Yan Jingchen’s face, Meng Fuyao gathered that he had been living a good life.
If Yan Jingchen knew what she had in mind, he would most definitely feel nauseated. He was obviously looking haggard and absent-minded. Furthermore, having been threatened by his father that day and then almost knocked down by Meng Fuyao, he was probably feeling extremely perturbed. Yet, those emotions of his had somehow translated into what Meng Fuyao understood as “a healthy glow”.
His tough situation wasn’t of her concern, of course, since she firmly believed that no man who had dumped her should lead a better life than her, and it would annoy her greatly if they did.
Seeing Yan Jingchen’s pleasantly surprised face, or so she thought, Meng Fuyao felt very unhappy and got ready to dismount.
Before she could reach the ground, however, he grabbed her wrist. Only looking down at her own hand, she warned coldly, “Let go.”
Yan Jingchen hesitated a short while but was reminded of her ruthless move on the Mystic Essence Mountain, and retracted his hand in embarrassment.
“Fuyao…” he called in a low voice.
Being completely ignored, Yan Jingchen turned anxious and extended his arm horizontally in front of her. “Listen to me before leaving, Fuyao, or chop my hand off!” he clenched his teeth, saying.
Meng Fuyao frowned at the arm that was before her and looked around at the crowd. She laughed coldly. “You’re scheming, Mister Yan. Asking me to chop your arm off in public? Won’t I be looking for trouble?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Yan Jingchen quickly corrected himself and kept his arm. He stared at her, asking, “Can we find a place to talk, Fuyao?”
“Say whatever you have to say here,” Meng Fuyao insisted and settled herself back onto the horse, but this time, into an unglamorous squat position, as if reluctant to ride with him.
Heads turned toward the lady who acted as though no one was present. Fingers started pointing, but Meng Fuyao pretended not to have seen them.
In response to her awkward position, Yan Jingchen could only sigh. He carefully guided the horse into a quiet alley on the opposite side of the street before adding softly, “Do you think I really want to marry Pei Yuan, Fuyao? My heart’s been in the fryer recently…”
“That’s all? Got it,” Meng Fuyao interrupted before preparing to jump off.
‘No!” Yan Jingchen responded immediately, not daring to make any more confessions. He urgently continued, “My father wants me to marry her, mainly because Pei Family’s “Stirring Thunder Technique” is one of the world’s best skills. He wants me to learn the ways and combine our family’s “Convulsive Wind Sword Technique” with theirs. That way, in the future, I’ll excel and make a name for myself in the True Martial Arts Meet…”
“What has that got to do with me?” Meng Fuyao yawned a few times in between.
“So…” he bit his cheeks and lowered his voice, “My father has another thought, which is that since Pei Family’s mastered the Stirring Thunder Technique, they could have possibly mastered the Cleaving Nine Heavens as well. No matter how formidable the thunder is, it has to come from the nine heavens. Even if it has the power to split mountains, it won’t compare to that of the vast dome of heavens. Just… Cleaving Nine Heavens is simply too precious, and the Pei Family may only share it upon our marriage… Fuyao, it’s all about martial arts in Taiyuan, where influential families are fighting openly and plotting covertly. All hopes are pinned on me, the heir of my family, to claim victory in the True Martial Arts Meet. It’s really important to me…”
“What’s this Cleaving Nine Heavens?” Meng Fuyao asked with a smile.
Yan Jingchen found her expression odd, as though she was pitying and mocking him at the same time. It faded quickly, however, and she reassumed a lackadaisical attitude.
“I know, I understand, I get it,” she cut him off, reaching her hand out to pat his shoulder. “Are you done with your sob story? Feeling all better and stress-free now that you’ve explained yourself? Great, I’ve heard you. Stirring Thunder + Cleaving Nine Heavens + True Martial Arts Meet = marriage.” Meng Fuyao smiled, her eyes as bright as stars. “Your father’s guess is solid. I believe the Cleaving Nine Heavens you’re looking for will most likely be there so hurry up and marry her. Hope it works out, so you don’t have to get yourself castrated.”
“Fuyao!” Yan Jingchen shouted while pulling her back. “I know you’re feeling terrible, Fuyao. I know you’re upset that I’ve ended things between us. You don’t have to deliberately provoke me and say things like these to hurt yourself–”
“Aha! Upset? Hurt? Deliberately provoking you? Deliberately hurting myself?” Meng Fuyao repeated, pointing a finger at her nose and glaring at him with eyes almost crossed.
‘Aren’t you being a little too narcissistic, Mister Yan? Yes, we’ve had something before, and I did like you quite a bit. It wasn’t love, but even if it were, I, Meng Fuyao, won’t act so excessively unreasonable.’
‘Do you really think I’m still harboring feelings for you and doing these to get you back? I was just trying to be the bigger person, and you took that as a performance?’Meng Fuyao looked up to the sky, feeling inexpressibly suffocated.
Yan Jingchen interpreted her silence as her hurting, which gave him more courage to speak his mind.
Eyes lit, he continued, “Wait for me, Fuyao… I’ll marry her, master the skills and whatever happens next… it’s not up to her. I won’t consummate that marriage, I swear to you. In the future… in the future, the Yan Family will be ours.”
‘Well done, good thinking, so well-calculated.’
‘How did I overlook that amazing potential and imagination of yours?’
After keeping silent for some time, Meng Fuyao smiled.
Her smile was warm and sincere, and while her posture was rather unrefined, people’s attentions were fixed on her bright and graceful expression.
“Trust me when I say this, Sir Yan. In this life, the Yan Family is yours. It belongs to you and your wife-to-be, and no one will ever take her place, because that’s just unlucky.”
She searched through her clothes and grabbed the dough figurine that she had been chewing on. She pinched it a little, turning it into an animal-like figurine and handing it over to him.
“Have a blessed and dogful marriage.”
At that she hopped off the horse and gave its stomach a good kick, sending it on its way.
Yan Jingchen reacted quickly by pulling the rein. He finally got the horse to calm down after some effort. Left alone in the middle of the street, he turned around in disappointment, frustrated that her familiar scent had dispersed.
He sighed, thinking about the Meng Fuyao he had just met. She was completely different from when she had first arrived in the Mystic Essence Sword Sect, becoming increasingly beautiful and resplendent, just like a fiery red hyacinth.
And that flower had first bloomed for him, because of his smile. She was as attractive as ever at that point – even more alluring in fact – but that graceful charm no longer belonged to him alone.
The flower had blossomed and withered, and he had missed the most beautiful season. He had missed the opportunity to catch the falling petals, and now, he was destined to watch her from a corner, and watch her bloom for another man.
‘She’ll forgive me…’
Yan Jingchen clenched his fist as if attempting to calm the emotional mess within his heart with force. It was then that he remembered about the item Meng Fuyao had handed to him before she left.
He looked down at that almost flattened object in his palm – it was a pair of ugly dogs!
“God d*mn, what a cheap bastard. How did I fall for this rotten basket in the first place?” Meng Fuyao grumbled as she walked, brooding about her bad taste in men.
She recalled the Yan Jingchen that she had fallen for was warm and gentlemanly, and while competitive, he was also an honorable man. It wasn’t his fault, however, that he was the heir of the family and hence had been taught to act like one.
Nevertheless, the suggestion he had dared to offer was simply humiliating for both Pei Yuan and her. The more she dwelled on it, the more tearful and speechless she became.
That night, she practiced her skills, as usual, operating a cycle of Cleaving Nine Heavens, which made her whole body emit a jade-colored glow. Amid the light, Meng Fuyao looked pensive, her face as gentle as water, thinking about Yan Jingchen’s so-called difficulties and sneering.
The next day, Qi Xunyi’s fancy horses and carriage returned. As usual, it was surrounded by highly stylized tunes and dances, occasionally transmitting singsong voices of the yellow orioles. Accompanying all those was traditional Chinese music that wound through the streets, attracting sidelong glances from the public.
Meng Fuyao enjoyed a bowl of noodles at a street stall while trying to join in the buzz. Her gaze fell upon the dance-filled carriage, and she let out a soundless laugh.
Her laughter faded significantly when she spotted the sedan right in the middle of the group. It was Pei Yuan’s sedan.
By its right was a magnificent white horse, which Meng Fuyao had failed to notice initially. Immediately upon sighting it, a deriding look flashed across her eyes.
Who else, but Yan Jingchen, could possibly be on that horse?
That stifled eagerness of his was unconcealable. He had traveled a long distance to fetch Princess Pei back after all.
Over the past few days, Pei Yuan’s identity had been made clear to Meng Fuyao. She was the daughter of Princess Yi An and General Pei Shixun. Pei Shixun’s sister had entered the palace as a concubine and was now Consort Lin, also Qi Xunyi’s mother. Pei Yuan had received her title as a princess and was called Princess Pei by the royal family. As the only daughter of Yi An, Pei Yuan was well pampered.