Quiet, it was terribly quiet.
Opening her eyes to see an expanse of white, Lei Lei immediately sat up in shock, looking around only to see that she was surrounded by many soft, sheer white screens that draped down from above her head like curtains. She didn’t know how much they weighed and besides the faint light that passed through them, there was nothing else that she could see. She couldn’t even tell if it was day or night.
Why does this look like a morgue? Could she have been murdered?
One by one, her hairs started to stand on end. Just as Lei Lei was at a point of extreme terror, a gust of cold wind swept by, causing the gauze canopy around her to flutter in the wind soundlessly, creating vague shadows that made it especially eerie.
Unlike the usual cool autumn breeze, this wind carried an icy chill, stinging her skin and leaving a dull ache. The chill penetrated her bones and Lei Lei could feel that her whole body was almost frozen numb, with white fog actually forming when she breathed out a sigh, as if she were in a giant freezer. She was starting to suspect that this place was the legendary Netherworld.
Had she really become a ghost? Lei Lei forced herself to calm down, massaging her legs as she tried to stand up. Feeling slightly better after exercising her limbs, she began to analyse her current situation carefully, not believing that ghosts would really exist in this world.
Looking above her head, she could faintly make out rocks, she should be in a cave. Light was coming in from her right and the wind was also blowing in from there, that should be the cave’s entrance. With not enough time to think about why those people would leave her here, Lei Lei made up her mind to leave first, decisively heading towards the light.
As she lifted the layers of gauze screens, the light was getting brighter, the wind was getting chillier and she could faintly hear the sound of water.
Finally, everything opened up before her eyes.
The moonlight was like silk in the vast sky, the surrounding scenery was clear beyond comparison and the mountain ranges rose and fell in the distance.
Standing under the moonlight, Lei Lei was slightly confused but the intense hunger in her belly proved one thing. The moon definitely didn’t look like this before she lost consciousness. It must already be the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the night of the Mid-Autumn festival.
She could hear splashes, there should be a deep stream ahead, the cold air also came from that direction. On the opposite bank was a vast stretch of valley that shone with a white radiance, a completely different colour from the surrounding mountain peaks, exceedingly strange yet beautiful.
She was on a tall platform with white marble railings. On the right was a row of stone steps that extended downwards and huge fires raged in stone cauldrons on both sides, the flames dancing wildly in the wind.
She didn’t feel excited about having escaped death because Lei Lei saw two people.
One was standing, the other was kneeling.
Her gaze was involuntarily drawn to the one standing.
His pure white sleeves billowed in the wind, practically void of any other colour, as though this was a summit of ice and snow, untouched by the slightest bit of dust. In that moment, the full moon above her head paled in comparison, causing people to mistake that he should be the full moon that was high above, radiating it’s brilliant light.
A section of his black hair hung down like dark ink splashed on his shoulders. The flames and moonlight shone on his perfect side profile and the corners of his lips were curled up slightly, displaying a warm smile that contrasted his disposition. The smile made him look less ethereal and illusory, finally showing a hint of something from this world.
He seems not to have noticed Lei Lei, with hands clasped behind his back as he looked at the woman in white who was kneeling in front of him: “Did I ask you to kneel?”
The woman trembled as she got up from the ground: “Master……”
With a slight smile: “Defying orders and acting on your own. How do I make sure you remember this?”
The flames shone on the side of her pretty face that was deathly pale like a dead person’s. The woman took a step back in terror, wanting to take another but her feet were firmly planted onto the ground, causing her to almost fall —— she didn’t dare to retreat any further, let alone commit suicide because the consequences would only be more serious if she did that and she would meet with a sorrier end.
He turned around.
She could finally see his face, eyebrows, eyes, nose bridge……practically more beautiful than a woman’s! If it weren’t for his tall stature, Lei Lei would’ve thought that this was a woman.
Matchless beauty! His beauty is absolutely unrivalled!
But that smile that was as warm as the spring sun made this unrivalled beauty look like less of a villain.
Lei Lei knew that this person must’ve already noticed her presence but he didn’t spare her a single glance, as if she were just a lifeless ornament. His beautiful eyes gave the woman a sidelong glance as he sighed: “It’ll be better if you did it yourself.”
The woman gritted her teeth before suddenly grasping her left wrist with her right hand. A “snap” sounded and that beautiful left hand folded at the wrist, like the Transformers she had played with when she was a child. It folded at an extremely strange and impossible angle, with the back of her hand touching her arm.
What is she doing! Lei Lei clenched her teeth in fright, holding back a scream.
In the cold wind, the woman’s voice trembled, “Master……”
Without the slightest bit of surprise on his face, he smiled and shook his head: “Not enough.”
As soon as he said this, he raised his left hand.
Helplessly looking on as the beautiful hand extended towards her, the expression on the woman’s face changed from agony to despair. She didn’t beg for mercy because she knew that it was useless yet she didn’t have the courage to flee.
His movement was graceful, natural and casual, as if he were plucking flowers and picking leaves.
He smiled as he crooked his finger, digging out an eyeball from that beautiful left eye.
The woman let out a pained groan but she endured it and didn’t faint.
On one side of her face, where there formerly was a large pitch-black eye, was now a bloody and mangled hole. Blood gushed out endlessly like tears rolling down her face, the contrast between beauty and grotesque made that half of her face look all the more strange.
“You may leave.”
“Thank you master.” The woman seemed to heave a sigh of relief before she turned around and staggered down the stone steps on her right, disappearing into the shadows.
And that man whose beauty was like that of the moon, had a warm smile on his face as he looked at his two bloody fingers with deep interest. Gripped between his fingertips was an eyeball, a mixture of black, white and red.
Lei Lei was suddenly hit by a wave of dizziness and her empty stomach started to convulse. Uncontrollably, she turned her face away and gagged.
“You’re back?” His voice was as warm as his smile, as if he were greeting a loved one.
Frightened, Lei Lei looked up at him.
The man remained where he was, carefully wiping his fingers with a pure white handkerchief. He did this extremely gracefully, not sparing her a single glance. Soon, both fingers were clean again.
With a toss of his hand, the bloody handkerchief fluttered to the ravine below.
It was only then that his gaze turned to her and he slowly started to walk towards her with a smile on his face. His elegant demeanor was dazzling, his steps unhurried, a pleased expression on his face. His sleeves billowed in the wind, making him seem like a celestial being that was riding on the wind, like a travelling poet who was leisurely reciting a poem as he walked in the moonlight, like a noble family’s son who was out on an impromptu trip, making what he had just done seem unimaginable.
Lei Lei instantly thought of the gongzi.
He handled things in an upright manner and abhorred evil but had a devilishly captivating smile.
On the other hand, this terrible man in front of her who had just casually gouged out someone else’s eye, had a genteel and refined smile that was warm like the spring sun.
A chill overcame her and with her feet stuck to the ground, Lei Lei could only watch as he stopped in front of her and slowly reached out to caress her face, doing as he pleased. Up close, his clean and slender fingers were very beautiful, as if they had been carved from a fine piece of jade. The strong winds had intensified the chill in the air so her face was already ice cold but his fingers were even colder, so much so that she could smell the faint scent of blood from his fingertips.
Finally, he lifted her chin: “Since you’re back, why aren’t you happy?”
His voice was gentle, without the slightest hint of malice. If she hadn’t just witnessed what he had done, Lei Lei would certainly have a good impression of him. But right now, as she was forced to look at that exceptionally beautiful face, the only thing she felt was fear: “Who are you?”
Momentarily stunned, he gave her a small smile: “It hasn’t been long, you don’t recognise me anymore?”
Lei Lei forced a stiff smile: “I fell off a cliff and don’t remember anything anymore.” Glancing at his two fingers: “Why……do you want to hurt me?”
He looked at her silently.
Lei Lei calmed down a little and asked: “Do you know me?”
“Of course,” he said softly, “of course I know you, how could I not know you?”
“Where is this place?”
“Qian Yue Cave.”
Qian Yue Cave! Prompted by these three words, Lei Lei immediately had an idea and blurted out: “I want to see Shang Guan Qiu Yue!”
His smile narrowed slightly and he let go of her.
Lei Lei breathed a sigh of relief. They’re really from the evil faction, such a cruel method of punishment. Since he knew her and had said something about her “return”, it seems like this “Chun Hua” was probably from Qian Yue Cave. She might even be related to Shang Guan Qiu Yue!
Seeing that this person had no intention of doing anything to her, she became more certain of her assumption, probing: “Do you know who I am?”
“Lei Lei is just your alias.”
“Correct, I’m Shang Guan Chun Hua.”
His face was void of any surprise as he looked at her silently, catching every subtle change in her expression. She was standing in front of him, alive. There was no mistake about it but she was indeed different. She would actually not recognise him?
Lei Lei was even more certain and couldn’t be bothered to say more, plucking up her courage to ask: “Did Shang Guan Qiu Yue ask you to bring me back?”
With a plan in place, Lei Lei spoke haughtily: “Hurry up and take me to see her!”
He suddenly laughed: “Okay.”
Lei Lei really wanted to leave this awful place. Whenever she thought of that eyeball, she would get goosebumps all over her body and be filled with fear and trepidation: “Let’s go.”
He didn’t move.
Lei Lei urged him: “Let’s go.”
“Take me to see Shang Guan Qiu Yue.”
“You’ve already seen him.”
Already seen him? Lei Lei blanked out for a moment, shocked: “You……you’re a man?”
“Do I look like a woman?”
“How could Shang Guan Qiu Yue be a man?” Surprise replaced her fear.
“Who told you that Shang Guan Qiu Yue was a woman?” As if he had succeeded in teasing her, he cocked his head and gave her a smug smile, “Why? You don’t even recognise me?”
His smile clearly carried hints of affection, like an older brother indulging his younger sister, making people feel warm and at ease. Lei Lei relaxed a little, not feeling as afraid anymore. Ah, there’s a ninety percent chance that she was related to this devil!
She mumbled: “I don’t remember anything anymore.”
“Then how did you know to find me?”
“Because……when will the spring flowers (Chun Hua) and autumn moon (Qiu Yue) end.”
When will the spring flowers and autumn moon end? He laughed: “You don’t know anything but have now learned to write a poem. Who taught you to play around with my name, you’re becoming bolder.”
“Of course you’re my sister Shang Guan Chun Hua.” Shang Guan Qiu Yue pinched her face.
No way, she’s really called Chun Hua? Lei Lei stared at him, dumbfounded. She had mixed feelings of happiness and worry. Happy because she had such a handsome beauty for a brother but worried because this brother was a wicked and merciless devil. The bloody and terrifying scene she had just witnessed still left her heart fluttering with fear but the person in front of her was now looking at her with a teasing smile. He truly looked like a gentle and cultured brother who doted on his sister, making it impossible for people to associate him with that kind of cruel thing.
Seeing no response from her, slight dissatisfaction flashed across Shang Guan Qiu Yue’s face and his voice took on a reprimanding tone: “It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember others, but you’ve really even forgotten about gege?”
Lei Lei became wary and took a step back: “How do I know that you’re not lying to me?”
Shang Guan Qiu Yue shook his head with a sigh that revealed self-blame: “If I’d known that you’ll become like this, I wouldn’t have followed your wishes and allowed you to handle that matter.”
Lei Lei was confused: “What matter?”
Shang Guan Qiu Yue said: “It’s to follow that Hua family girl to Bai Sheng Manor. You hadn’t travelled about Jianghu much but insisted on going to help me retrieve Xiao Xiao Feng Ming Sword’s Xinfa……”
“Hold on!” Lei Lei interrupted him, surprised, “Since I’m that dowry maid, I should’ve been seen by many people, why has no one recognised me yet?”
Shang Guan Qiu Yue was also taken by surprise: “Aren’t you the best at disguises? Our plan back then was for you to disguise yourself as that servant girl to infiltrate Hua family’s bridal escort procession.”
Lei Lei finally understood the whole story. No wonder the loyal servant girl had killed her master. It turns out that the real servant girl had been swapped out halfway by this Shang Guan Chun Hua!
“Then the Hua family servant girl was mysteriously burned to death and you went missing, I thought that you had betrayed me. It wasn’t until recently, when I heard that you had returned and changed your name……” Shang Guan Qiu Yue looked a little guilty as he reached out to tidy her hair, “I shouldn’t have doubted you, you’re the most obedient, how could you possibly betray gege.”
No wonder he had such a bad attitude towards her just now, he was suspicious of her, Lei Lei groaned inwardly. At the same time, she was puzzled. She hadn’t noticed anything unusual at Bai Sheng Manor, which means that Shang Guan Chun Hua hadn’t gotten her hands on Xiao Xiao Feng Ming Sword’s Xinfa as she had planned to. If so, why did she kill Hua Guniang and flee? Wouldn’t this ruin her plans? Or did she not want to help her brother? Also, how did she later fall to her death from the cliff? Perhaps she wasn’t actually the mastermind behind all these and there’s someone else orchestrating the whole thing?
She tried to explain herself: “I really……”
“I know, you really can’t remember. Otherwise there’s no way that you wouldn’t even recognise me.” Shang Guan Qiu Yue gave her a small smile, “Gege has always cared about you the most and you’re so sensible. How could you have betrayed gege? Who was the one that hurt you?”
Lei Lei looked at him: “I don’t remember.”
Shang Guan Qiu Yue raised an eyebrow and suddenly lifted his hand. Before she could react, she heard a “rip” sound and a large piece of the front of her clothes was torn away.
Lei Lei hugged her chest and stepped back in fright: “What are you trying to do!” This wasn’t something that a brother should do!
Shang Guan Qiu Yue replied with a smile: “You still have doubt that I’m lying to you right? Since you were a child, you’ve had a red birthmark shaped like a flower bud, so you were named Chun Hua. If you don’t believe me, you can check it yourself.”
He’s remarkable, a formidable devil indeed, even grasping the thoughts of others! Lei Lei had no choice but to believe him now. She had actually seen the mark numerous times when bathing. It was about the size of a fingernail, brightly coloured, at a particular location, beneath her shoulder and above her left breast. Besides a brother she had grown up with, who else would’ve seen a girl in such a hidden area!
“Do you believe me now?”
Lei Lei replied with a “Mhm”, straightening out her clothes as she complained: “You could’ve just told me so, why did you tear my clothes!”
“I’m your brother, what’s there to be afraid of?”
Even if you’re my brother, you still can’t look at my chest! You’re such a character! Lei Lei was depressed. She had really become one of the evil faction’s demon girls. Why! Why is the beauty her brother! She then suddenly recalled the terrible scene from earlier and shivered, secretly rejoicing over the fact that this person was her brother, otherwise she would’ve been finished long ago. Fortunately, this devil was still quite fond of his sister.
“Do I know any kung fu?”
“You only knew that bit of kung fu, it doesn’t matter even if you don’t have it anymore.” Shang Guan Qiu Yue took her hand and they walked down the stone steps. “What are you afraid of? Gege is here, it’s great that you’ve returned safely. After you’ve recovered your memories and remembered who it was that hurt you, I’ll kill him.”
He spoke of the word “kill” so easily, as if it had been done by others and had nothing to do with him. Lei Lei immediately thought of the saying “Angel’s face, devil’s heart”, and spoke after some deliberation: “You……do you often gouge out people’s eyes?”
Shang Guan Qiu Yue was surprised: “You’re scared? Didn’t you use to do this often too?”
Damn, often? It turns out that Shang Guan Chun Hua was also a little devil! Lei Lei shuddered, her fingers moving involuntarily as she imagined it dripping with blood and holding someone’s eyeball. Her empty stomach started to churn again.
“If you’re scared, I won’t do these in front of you anymore.” Shang Guan Qiu Yue continued to lead her downwards, “It’s the Mid-Autumn Festival today and us brother and sister are finally reunited. Let’s eat some mooncakes before getting a good night’s sleep.”
Lei Lei didn’t reply. She should indeed get a good night’s sleep and hope that this was only a dream.
1. 哥哥 (gēgē) ☆ – Older brother↩
Important words that will appear often in future chapters will be marked with a “☆”.
I’ll also be adding this to past chapters.
← Chapter 7 ♡ Introduction ♡ Chapter 9 →
♢ Drama ~ Ep 1 / Ep 2 / Ep 8 ♢