Chapter 28: Nice to meet you, Chang'an!

Chapter 28: Nice to meet you, Chang'an!

Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

Chang'an did deserve to be honored as the grandest city worldwide. It was so huge that there were eighteen city wall archways in four directions of north, south, west, and east. However, every day, when the noble and the folk went in and out of the city, a large stream of people would jam these city wall archways and endless lines of people were normal in the avenue.

Ning Que and Sangsang were waiting in a long line. It was not until sun setting that they were pushed by the crowd to approach a city gate. Looking at those guards who carefully went through their luggage with a grave face, Ning Que, though sweating a lot, shook his head leisurely and teased them, since it reminded him of a capital city somewhere which was famed for a traffic jam.

His voice was low and nearly undistinguished, whereas citizens in Chang'an cursed as loud as possible. It might be due to their nature as a man of Tang Empire, unsophisticated but undefeated. Thus, few feared those serious soldiers, but none chose to ignore stern laws and break in.

Finally, it was their turn. When a soldier received documents from Military Ministry which Ning Que handed, he surprisingly noticed this lad was a fellow and used to set noble exploits in the frontier, so the soldier's face softened much, but just for a while. He frowned at the sight of three hilts on Ning Que's back, all of which points proudly to the sky.

"Inherited. Ancestors once said..." Ning Que explained with caution.

"Your life will be with the sword," the soldier said. Taking an indifferent glimpse at Ning Que, he waved his hand and continued in disdain, "I hear people swearing this thousands of times every day. Save your time, kid. Take off your luggage. Why do you two little guys carry such large bag? You don't look like you're here for studies. It's more like you're moving."

He turned to stare at the big black umbrella on Sangsang's back and asked with eyebrows wrinkled, "An umbrella? Why so huge?"

Sangsang reached a hand to her back and grasped middle part of the big black umbrella. She raised her cute little face, coldly saying to that soldier, "My life will be with the umbrella."

Gazing at this little black girl, the soldier gave her a thumb up and said with praise, "That's... creative."

Ning Que was undoing their bag with a bitter smile on his young face. He thought that only he knew this statement was not a joke and Sangsang did mean it.

Inside that large bag were sundries, such as carpet and quilt. However, the hard wooden bow, as well as several tubes of arrows, caught the soldiers' eyes when he was inspecting Ning Que's belongings and, undoubtedly, his face was stiffened again.



Pathway of city gate in Chang'an was long and dim. Exit on the other side was far and looked like a shining hole, from where the sun could be vaguely seen setting down in the distance and few red sunlight spread into the path. Nonetheless, that sunlight was not bright enough to survive shadows and noises in the path.

Ning Que and Sangsang followed the stream to the exit. The large bag seemed rather heavy so that Sangsang had to adjust belts to save some strength. Curiously, she asked, "Young master...will anyone else be as chatty as that soldier?"

"Almost." Ning Que answered, "Thinking that this city had all the wealth and power. People in Chang'an will surely feel superior. The more proud they appear, the more tolerant they should be toward the outlander, because they need to show they're gentlemen. And they do."

"And you know, sometimes it's hard to hide your pride because it hurts inside. What can they do?... They talk! From horse carriage stores to local government, every citizen in Chang'an is addicted to chatting. And their topics range from secrets of royals and anecdotes in brothel. They seem to know everything under the doom. The point is they're knee on spreading tales of wars or relationships in Tang Empire and other countries with a calm tone.

Sangsang giggled. Obviously, what Ning Que said did amuse her.

Previously in city gate when they were inspected, it was a luck that both sword and human life survived. The big black umbrella was on Ning Que's back and his three broadsword were put into the large bag. As for boxwood bow, strings were unloaded. With all these done, that talkative soldier said nothing else and let them go.

The Tangs advocated martial arts. They would rather die than leave their beloved weapons aside. Therefore, Empire sometimes took a blind eye on the restriction of weapons. In Chang'an, men were allowed to take official swords with them but broadswords were banned. Similarly, bows and arrows were permitted only if strings were unloaded. However, the military crossbow was forbidden entirely. There was no other limit.

Whether you would retie strings or take out broadswords was not a concern of anyone. Not of Chang'an Local Government. Not of Military Ministry. Even not of the emperor who lived in the palace.

Ning Que and Sangsang were accustomed to live in the frontier fortress, which meant people couldn't find any trace of light or brightness except in pubs or hear any sound other than soldiers gambling. Ning Que thought they would enter a quiet and sleepy city and never expected that approaching night, Chang'an remained...

Bustling everywhere!

Lights brilliantly illuminated flagstone boulevard throughout streets and it looked like in the day. On the streets were flows of passers, some of whom stopped at a booth or enjoyed stars in the sky. Apparently, those stopping at booths had been couples, while those admiring stars had just begun dating.

The Tangs, those living in Chang'an in particular, were dressed simply. They wore shirts with tight sleeves, so they looked neat and tidy. Few men would be dressed in shirts with broad sleeves but those sleeves were not long and cuffs were above waists, which was designed for them to pull out swords if necessary.

Men in turquoise robe walked with official sword. With beard swinging in the night breeze, they looked like an aloof outstanding swordsman, but when noticing vaudeville, they chose to halt amid a crowd of ladies and nervously stared at somewhere with eyes wildly open. They might applaud excitedly and cheer loudly but the moment the players began to collect money, they returned to be cool and superior, showing obvious disdain toward such earthly action like tipping them.

Women in Chang'an dressed themselves simple and clean too, in other words, cool, or to be exact, bare. Though it had just become warm in spring, these women should have exposed arms out of yarn sleeves and some charming young women wore tube dresses boldly, drawing too much attention to those white skins.

Besides, barbarians exposing chest and carrying bota looked around curiously; Touching their beard, officials from Yuelun Kingdom, who wore typical hat with little wings, came in and out of various restaurants and brothels like frequent visitors; Merchants from South Jin Kingdom, who leaned against a banister upstairs to drink and enjoy watching stars, burst into laughter on purpose once in a while. A sound of folk instrument was heard from nowhere, melodious and beautiful.

It seemed that all the fortune, entertainment, and personality were concentrated in this city. The people were passionate and the wines were fragrant. They excited men and intoxicate them. Heroic feelings coexisted with tenderness as well as broadswords matched beauties.

Out of his mind, Ning Que lifted Sangsang's little hand and walked in streams of people and lights with gasp in admiration, extremely appearing as kids from the countryside.

Legendary Bird was a black pigment to brush brows; fragrant butterfly powder, jade hairpin powder and pearl powder could be used to enlighten faces. "Oh, is that Rose Cream the rouge? Emm, in the tiny bottle, is it the legendary dew on flowers?" Sangsang said to herself silently.

With her hand in Ning Que's, Sangsang stared at bottles and tins on booths with her slender eyes widely open and felt reluctant to move on.

Some young lady walked in front of Ning Que seductively. "Oh, her hip looks so sexy." Ning Que thought. Some young girl with braid passed by, giggling. "She smells fragrant, like... orchid?" Ning Que continued to think. The young woman who was picking up flowers before booths with a man seemed to ogle him. "Why does she do this? Does it mean she likes me?" The lad asked to himself, confusedly and excitedly.

With Sangsang's hand in his, Ning Que delightedly gazed around. He tried to search such special views in his memory of Chang'an during childhood, but he failed. He felt reluctant to move on as well.

Therefore, they slowed down their paces and gradually it appeared less noisy in the street. However, before these two visitors from border town managed to calm down, someone in the distance shouted something and all of sudden, swarms of Chang'an citizens flocked from all directions to a corner of street, plugging up that place.


Looking over crowds of people, they faintly found two men, with official sword in the waist, glaring at each other. Each had a part of right sleeve cut down and threw it between the two men.

The world fell into silence. All the bystanders kept their mouths close tightly. In the Tangs' blood, they thought it a must to guarantee fairness of duel, even if it was none of their business.

"For a duel, cutting down a sleeve means I challenge you. If you take it, you'll do the same. This is the rule."

Seizing Sangsang's hand, Ning Que was moving out of crowds and he explained, "This duel is just a simple battle and they just need to know who'll win, while the other one, called Life and Death, needs the approval of local government. In Life and Death, the challenger should cut his palm, so does his opponent, if the man accepts the challenge."

"Can they refuse it?" Sangsang asked curiously.

"Of course!" Ning Que answered and wiped out sweat on forehead. He then patted huge bag on Sangsang's back, making sure nothing was stolen by thieves and continued, "But sometimes, humans, men in particular will become idiots and they'll grow crazy because of things like women, love, dignity or some other trifles."

When they two finally squeezed their way out of crowds, Sangsang lifted her black face, asking, "Why didn't we stay to watch it? I remember in the City of Wei, you love to be an on-looker. One year when they were killing a pig for meat, you squatted beside to watch it for a whole night."

"You don't know it. We used to see killing cows or sheep but it was the first time in the City of Wei, they killed a pig. It was unusual and I should inspect it carefully, but the duel is very common in this city. I believe we'll have many chances to watch one."

Calmly and peacefully, Ning Que said, "This is Chang'an. I just want to be a well-behaved student in the academy. I don't want any trouble. So, from now on, we should act like two doggies and never show our teeth."

Sangsang shook her hand and thought, "I don't want to be a female dog. As for you, young master, I hope you can control yourself and kill fewer people. Pretending to be humble is not your style."

"To find an inn." Ning Que seemed to read her mind and being frustrated, he said, "I'm sleepy."

Sangsang pointed to a building just in front of them down the street, saying, "Look, that's an inn."

Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.