When the horse carriage arrived at its destination, the moon had already risen above the river and the night sky was darkening. Ting Yun Building was located by the river and was a restaurant that Leng Zui and the others had booked for the night. In front of the building were more than ten carriages and several steeds. It was bustling with activity and it seemed like many had come. Leng Zui was in a black outfit, dressed in her usual male style, standing at the door to greet her guests.
After greeting her, Lei Lei followed the gongzi upstairs.
The room on the upper floor was actually quite spacious, at around fifty to sixty square metres but it was looking rather crowded now, with warmth filling the air as twenty over people either stood or sat. Among them, the oldest was about fifty plus years of age and there were many youngsters, most of them looking like genteel scholars or noble gongzis. As they greeted each other, greetings of “Brother Wang Brother Zhao” rang in the air. There were also six or seven females and all of them had an air of arrogance under the serenity.
The seats had already been arranged and there were more than ten small tables at the side, on which plates of dried fruits had been placed. It was quite windy so only two windows had been opened. Beyond them were wooden railings with carved designs and with the moonlight’s reflection against it, it looked as if a layer of frost had fallen on it.
The gongzi already had a special disposition and with his current dressing, he became even more eye catching and quickly became the centre of attention. Those who knew him came up to greet him and those who didn’t also came up after hearing from others. This made Lei Lei very pleased.
The gongzi gave them a few replies before taking his seat.
Lei Lei had kept an eye out for Qin Liu Feng but after scanning every corner of the room, that feng liu scholar was nowhere in sight.
She tugged on the gongzi: “Qin Liu Feng isn’t here.” with slight disappointment in her tone.
The gongzi looked at her and remained silent.
Leng Zui soon came upstairs, looking quite unhappy. Lei Lei was secretly amused, she should also be expecting Qin Liu Feng’s arrival. Without Jianghu’s Number One Scholar, the poem meet wouldn’t be as interesting and besides, Qin Liu Feng had already accepted the invitation. If he were to be absent today, it would show that he considered everyone to be beneath him and that he wasn’t giving the female scholar any face. But it’s fine, it doesn’t matter whether the feng liu scholar comes tonight, you still have “Xiao Bai” and myself to help you keep up appearances. Laoniang came prepared!
Leng Zui walked to the centre of the room and everyone quieted down. Lei Lei gasped in admiration, this is the bearing of a female scholar, the power to rally supporters. I should also pass myself off as a female scholar!
Bright red lips open and Leng Zui said: “Everyone has come a long way, Leng Zui feels deeply honoured. It’s about time now and everyone has arrived……”
Someone immediately cut her off, questioning: “Leng Guniang, didn’t you say that Brother Qin would be coming? Now that he has yet to arrive, it isn’t proper for us to start, why don’t we wait?”
Leng Zui answered drily: “No need, it seems like something cropped up and he’s unable to come. With so many waiting for a single person, it’s a small matter to hold up everyone but we mustn’t break the rules.” Slightly raising her voice: “Everyone in Jianghu is aware of today’s grand gathering, Leng Zui is fortunate and have specially invited Old Sir Cai to oversee this meeting.”
Lei Lei followed everyone as they stood to welcome him.
The cultured old man with a goatee smiled as he cupped his hands in return, remaining in his seat. From his enigmatic behaviour, it was clear that he was of a high status.
Everyone sat down.
Having introduced the expert authority, Leng Zui introduced the special guest: “There’s also two honoured guests that will be joining us tonight, Bai Sheng Manor’s Xiao Bai, Xiao Gongzi……” she paused.
Although the gongzi didn’t attend these kinds of meetings often, Xiao Xiao Feng Ming Sword was well known and everyone showed great respect, with even Old Sir Cai giving a nod of the head: “With a heart of righteousness, one will keep the heavens and earth in mind. If one fails to understand good and evil, and helps a villain to do evil, all his talent and learning will have been in vain.”
The gongzi spoke a few modest sentences, then remained quiet.
Leng Zui continued her introduction: “And……Lei Lei guniang.”
Hearing these two words, Old Sir Cai’s expression changed: “Could she be the Lei Lei guniang that you mentioned, who wrote a poem that sympathised with the farmers?”
Leng Zui rose slightly from her chair and replied respectfully: “That’s correct.”
Everyone looked at Lei Lei with amazement and showered her with compliments of “A teacher among ladies” and “Scholar with Painted Eyebrows”. Old Sir Cai also nodded his head repeatedly and stroked his beard as he praised “Outstanding.”
The stolen poem was so useful. Lei Lei was pleased with herself but put on a modest look as she speculated, it turns out that “Weeding grain seedings” had already spread. Could that feng liu scholar be absent because he was worried that she would feed him chives again?
Leng Zui suddenly spoke: “For today’s meeting, everyone can be at ease and show your true abilities, we will honour the most talented person.”
Lei Lei sat up straighter.
Leng Zui turned to the side and nodded her head to signal: “Please set the poem topic.”
A servant that was standing in the corner of the room stepped forward and pulled on a string. The scroll that had been hanging high up on the eastern wall instantly fell down, revealing two to three lines of pretty characters on the snow white scroll.
“With a duration of fifteen and the moon as the topic, in the five seven character style or any kind of tune.”
There was a loud commotion as everyone showed their approval: “There’s a fine moon outside, this topic is just right!” and asked yun☆ again.
Leng Zui frowned: “I’ve always disliked restrictions. It’s always those few words that appear, making it difficult to come up with elegant phrases.”
Everyone agreed with her.
Leng Zui said: “Everyone may do as they please, we’ve lit an incense here and once it burns out, we’ll regather to share our conclusions.”
That incense had been specially made for this and would take about an hour to burn out. Everyone stood up and headed outside to admire the moon and look for inspiration.
In a corner, Lei Lei had been smiling so much that she was already cramping.
There are so many poems about the moon, she can just show any one of them and the throne of “Number One Female Scholar” would be hers for sure!
Seeing her laughing foolishly by herself, the gongzi found it bizarre and observed her for awhile before finally asking: “Are……you alright?” what he actually meant was, are you ill?
Laoniang is a very normal female lead and would never recite something as easy as “the moonlight at my bedside”. Lei Lei quickly returned to normal and pulled him: “Let’s go, we’ll go out to see the moon!”
The bright moon was a thousand miles away and the river flowed silently. The glistening of the water and daylight were the same, crystal clear through and through. The wind billowed past the railings, bringing with it a cold chill that scratched at one’s face.
Of course, this was unable to spoil Lei Lei’s good mood: “The moonlight is so beautiful tonight! It’s such a pity, such a pity……”
The gongzi asked: “What’s a pity?”
Lei Lei shook her head with a sigh: “It’s a pity that Qin Liu Feng is absent.” and wouldn’t be able to revere Laoniang’s literary grace!
The gongzi looked at her before shifting his gaze.
Since she already had a poem, Lei Lei started to contemplate other things.
She can’t betray beauty gege or “Xiao Bai”, but would there be a way to satisfy both sides? She had been contemplating this problem for the past few days and had actually come up with a plan —— beauty gege only wanted the xinfa as proof to make Chuan Qi Valley surrender and submit. He wanted to unify Xing Yue Sect, not to practice it himself and wouldn’t give it to others to practice. Without practicing it, who would find out that there was something wrong with the xinfa? Why don’t she hand in a fake copy so that she can complete this task? Afterall, beauty gege had never seen the real deal.
Stroking her chin, she felt even more strongly that this idea was feasible. Even if she were found out, she could push the blame onto “Xiao Bai”. On television, peerless and rare books would always have an extra copy. She couldn’t be blamed if she had stolen the wrong one.
But at the same time, there was also one problem.
In order to fool that formidable brother, it must resemble the real copy. Obviously, she wouldn’t be able to accomplish this by herself. Putting aside the fact that she, Lei Lei, knew nothing about martial arts and xinfa terminologies, she didn’t know about the number of skeletal bones in one’s body either. Besides, Feng Ming Sword’s xinfa being stolen was no small matter and she would need “Xiao Bai” to cooperate with her. If Bai Sheng Manor had no reaction after an important item was stolen, there’d be no way that beauty gege would believe it.
But “Xiao Bai” hated evil like it was his enemy, could she bring this up to him?
Lei Lei looked at the gongzi undecidedly.
Under the silvery moonlight, that face looked even more handsome. His straight and elegant nose bridge appeared very upright and coupled with his tall and straight posture, he exuded an unyielding righteousness.
She’d have to let beauty gege down. Full of hope, she asked: “Xiao Bai, there’s something……”
The gongzi turned his head to look at her.
Lei Lei sounded him out: “What would you do if you ran into someone from the evil sect?”
Hearing the words “evil sect”, the gongzi’s expression immediately turned icy. He looked at the distant landscape, his eyes faintly revealing an ominous look as he said indifferently: “The evil sect brings disaster upon Jianghu and it is the duty of Xiao family’s descendants to eliminate evil for the sake of the people. Is there a need to ask?”
Lei Lei deliberated before saying: “What if your friend is from the evil sect, will you also kill him?”
The gongzi’s gaze flickered.
Lei Lei repressed her guilty conscience and made herself look indifferent: “If, I’m only saying what if.”
The gongzi gave a cold hmph: “Stop speaking nonsense!”
“People of different ways will not take counsel together, why will Xiao Bai have that kind of friend!”
Lei Lei argued: “There’ll also be good people in the evil sect, what if you kill wrongfully?”
The gongzi said: “Nonsense! Will there be good people in the evil sect?”
“Who says there aren’t, how could it be that every single person in the evil sect does bad things?”
“Even if they aren’t doing it now, they will do so sooner or later. They’ll be menaces if left behind!”
“If you all insist on getting rid of them, wouldn’t the fights lead to the innocent getting hurt?”
The gongzi didn’t hesitate: “There’s no justice without sacrifices!”
Sacrificing one’s life for justice? It seems like these ideologies had been instilled into this person since childhood and was too ingrained to make any feasible changes: “What if they were to mend their ways?”
The gongzi froze for a moment: “That would be best.”
This discussion was going well, Lei Lei picked up her confidence and emphasized: “What if she had killed before, what’s to be done?”
The gongzi frowned: “It’s only right and proper that one should pay with one’s life for a murder. Since they’ve mended their ways, they should understand this principle and take responsibility for their past actions. They should obviously take their own life as an apology in hopes of receiving forgiveness.”
Commit suicide as an apology? Lei Lei shivered, the words she had prepared gone in her fright.
Is he kidding? It’s no wonder that no one’s willing to mend their ways, because it’s on the premise of killing themselves! She didn’t know how many lives had died by Shang Guan Chun Hua’s hands, with one of them being that wife of his, Hua Guniang. Now that Chun Hua had also died, this life was laoniang’s and although laoniang has the intention of leaving the darkness for light, what’s the damn point in changing if I lose my life! It looks like “Xiao Bai” wouldn’t cooperate and might even advise her to “take her own life in apology”. No, no way. It’ll be better to hang out with beauty gege. As for “Xiao Bai”, I won’t hurt him either, I’ll just find a way to get the xinfa before making a fake copy from it.
Ai, with this identity of being the little devil, it should be very difficult to win over “Xiao Bai”……
It’s a good thing that Lei Lei was someone who was satisfied with just muddling through and was quickly rid of her worries. Realising that her hands were already ice cold from being blown by the wind and were close to freezing, she quickly rubbed them together: “Xiao Bai are you cold?”
The gongzi shook his head.
Lei Lei immediately reached for his hand, it was very warm indeed.
The gongzi tried to pull back hurriedly.
Lei Lei said pitifully: “Xiao Bai, I’m cold.”
The gongzi was dumbfounded. Seeing that everyone around them were busy with their poems and weren’t paying any attention to them, he didn’t say anything anymore.
Lei Lei reached for a yard after getting an inch: “That hand.”
The gongzi extended his left hand.
Big hands covered the small hands as a steady warmth came through. Lei Lei immediately dispelled any thought of returning to the room and remained outside as she endured the freezing cold: “The moonlight is so beautiful tonight, I should’ve anticipated that this would be the topic!”
The gongzi was silent for a moment before nodding: “I’d never known that the moonlight was so beautiful.”
“You haven’t noticed it before?” doubtful.
“Whenever the moon appeared, my father would instruct me to practice my martial arts till midnight.”
His happy childhood was filled with practicing martial arts, Lei Lei was surprised, then she started to sympathise with him. This pitiful child, a victim of education, no wonder he turned out to be such a mature young man: “Did you use to hope for moonless nights?”
The gongi blushed and looked towards the great river beyond the building: “The Xiao family ancestors have done many great things in Jianghu. They calmed down the whole world and wiped out Xing Yue Sect. If I don’t study diligently and train assiduously, how would I be able to bear this heavy responsibility, I’d be ashamed.”
Lei Lei looked at him silently.
Someone beside them said: “The incense is burning out soon, does Brother Zhao have one yet?”
Someone answered: “I do have one, but it isn’t good.”
“I only have two lines.”
Lei Lei collected her thoughts, secretly sniggering, you all can think about it slowly. When the time comes, laoniang will just recite a few more poems and frighten you all to death!
She expressed her regret: “Why didn’t Qin Liufeng come!”
The gongzi remained silent.
Seeing that he was in low spirits, Lei Lei was struck with a realisation and she whispered: “You haven’t found any inspiration? Don’t worry, I have a lot and can lend you one later.”
Lend him one? The gongzi looked at her and the corner of his lips raised slightly: “No need.” He hesitated: “I already have one but it might not be good.”
So fast, “Xiao Bai” was intelligent indeed, adept with both the pen and the sword! Lei Lei was very happy: “Ok, it’ll do as long as you have one. Anything you write is good!” Hunching her shoulders: “Let’s go in, it’s so cold!”
The incense had burned out and everyone entered the room successively, their expressions either grave or pleased. Only Lei Lei who had a card up her sleeve looked indifferent as she acted naturally and at ease, leading the gongzi by the hand to sit.
Leng Zui walked to the centre: “The incense has burned out, I assume that everyone has come up with elegant phrases.”
Everyone was discussing the matter.
Leng Zui looked at Old Sir Cai: “Everyone is settled, what is your opinion?”
Old Sir Cai nodded his head: “Although I’m not good at composing, I’m still able to give criticisms……”
Someone interrupted: “Old Sir is too modest, who would dare to dismiss your criticisms?”
Everyone echoed his views.
Old Sir Cai smiled wordlessly.
“If that’s the case, let’s begin,” Leng Zui walked to the front of the desk and picked up a brush, looking towards a young gongzi on her left that was elegantly dressed, “Let’s start with Brother Zhao?”
The young gongzi with the family name of Zhao made a few modest remarks before standing and reciting a poem.
Lei Lei had never heard this poem before and was mystified after hearing it. Although she had made preparations by stealing numerous famous poems, she had done those in a mechanical manner and her actual standard couldn’t be faked. As a result, she didn’t understand the poem and only thought that the handsome man’s poem was full of feelings, so she followed as everyone applauded and cheered.
In the blink of an eye, more than ten people had already recited theirs and it quickly became Leng Zui’s turn.
Everyone smiled: “Leng Guniang is today’s host, we believe that we’ll be able to see a good poem from you.”
Leng Zui put down her brush, replying drily: “I do have one, but it might not be good.”
Everyone answered: “Leng Guniang’s poems are never bad, let us hear it.”
Leng Zui didn’t decline: “I don’t have a poem but I have a stanza of《Shui Diao Ge Tou》, treat it as me casting a brick to attract jade, to get the ball rolling.”
The female scholar is going to compose a poem! Lei Lei pricked up her ears and braced herself. Leng Zui ambled to the window and placed her left hand on the window lattice. After some thought, she recited in a slow and measured tone: “When will the bright moon appear, I raise my wine cup and ask the clear sky……”
A “bang” went off in her mind and a horrified Lei Lei froze.
Around her, applause and cheers sounded.
Old Sir Cai was excited: “What a great ‘I wish that we can live a long life and share the moonlight a thousand miles away’!”
Zhao gongzi stood up: “Tonight, there’s no need for the rest of us to compose. This is the best!”
“Between people, there’s joys and sorrows, partings and reunions, the moon has its cloudy and clear days, its waxing and waning, what a great line!”
“It’s said that Leng Guniang’s poetry and lyrics are filled with a heroic spirit not inferior to a man’s. Sure enough!”
Damn it, so you’re also a transmigrator? Why didn’t you say so earlier! Lei Lei felt her blood surge and she almost fell over laughing. Female scholar, you’re so lei, do you feel no shame plagiarizing this poem? It turns out that your title of “female scholar” was obtained by pirating poems and lyrics? When there’s time, we must deepen our friendship!
She must show support for a fellow townsman’s stage. Lei Lei clapped her hands, shouting: “Good! Good poem! Good poem!”
Leng Zui picked up her brush and wrote it down, conceding with a smile: “I’ve recited my poem, it’s now Brother Wang’s turn.”
The scholar with the family name of Wang stood up: “With Leng Guniang’s good poem coming before mine, I’m ashamed to show mine. I’ve barely managed to put together a four line poem with seven characters in a line, please don’t laugh at me.” After he said this, he recited: “Going up the building in Jiang alone with sorrowful thoughts, the moonlight is flowy like the river and the river is vast and endless like the sky……”
Isn’t this Zhao Gu’s poem? Bro you’re also a transmigrator?! Lei Lei clapped her hands excitedly: “Good poem! Good poem!”
Next was a young noble gongzi with the family name of Yan: “The crows caw when the moon goes down and the sky is covered in frost……”
How many people did that time travel corporation throw in here? Lei Lei was taken aback. She continued to applaud and cheer as she started to worry, fellow townsmen, don’t recite all the good poems, you have to leave one for me! Don’t tell me that when the time comes I’ll really have to use that “moonlight at my bedside” that is essential for all transmigrated girls and that all school children know.
There shouldn’t be too much of a problem because the gongzi is next.
“The sea bears the bright moon, at this moment we share the world” After reciting two lines, the gongzi paused and looked at Lei Lei with a smile.
Lei Lei’s mouth was opened so wide that she could’ve swallowed a chicken egg.
She couldn’t say for sure if others had transmigrated but she knew everything about “Xiao Bai” and there was no way that he had also transmigrated!
Lei Lei had a flash of insight and finally recalled a key figure —— General Manager Shu of the R&D Department! It was a tianlei script indeed! To have come up with a plot like this, and perhaps all the scholars’ poems had been planned out by that fellow!
The gongzi finished and also gained a round of praise.
Old Sir Cai nodded his head in satisfaction.
The gongzi looked at Lei Lei.
Lei Lei clapped half-heartedly and squeezed out an awkward smile, she was near the point of crying: “Good poem! Good poem!”
“Xiao Bai” oh “Xiao Bai”, although this poem of yours is pretty ordinary, but if you use this, what am I supposed to recite? Laoniang can only recall a few poems and the remaining “A jug of wine among the flowers” doesn’t conform to the five seven rule while “Spring Flowers and Autumn Moon (Chun Hua Qiu Yue)” is a sensitive subject that doesn’t suit this scene. Aren’t you forcing me to recite “The moonlight at my bedside”?!
Leng Zui frowned: “Lei Lei Guniang, it’s your turn.”
Let it lei! I’ll lei you all to death! Lei Lei staked her all and stood up but just as she was about to start ——
“Why is Brother Qin here so late!”
Qin Liu Feng who was late in arriving was wearing bluish green robes that made him appear all the more elegant and unrestrained. He straightened out his clothes and greeted Old Sir Cai before cupping his hands and saying to everyone with a smile: “Unfortunately, my horse carriage met with a mishap when I was en route. Having disturbed everyone’s mood, please pardon me!”
Someone laughed: “If Brother Qin really intends to apologise, why don’t you compose a fine poem right now to let us broaden our horizons.”
Everyone nodded: “That’s right, with Leng Guniang’s fine poem having come first, Brother Qin mustn’t act in a perfunctory manner just to satisfy us.”
Qin Liu Feng looked at Leng Zui and pursed his lips: “How can I mess up your rules.”
Having met with a mishap but still rushing here, it can be seen that he held her in high esteem. Leng Zui’s expression became much better. She then looked at Lei Lei helplessly: “This……”
Everyone looked at Lei Lei.
Even if Lei Lei were really tactless, she would know what she should do. It doesn’t make a difference whether “the moonlight at my bedside” was recited earlier or later so she clasped her hands and did him this simple favour: “It’s alright, Brother Qin can go first.”
Qin Liu Feng raised his eyebrows when he noticed her: “So it’s actually Lei Lei Guniang.”
The good spirits she was in when they arrived here had vanished. Lei Lei wished this person could disappear on the spot. With a fake smile, Lei Lei said: “It’s not a problem.”
Qin Liu Feng looked at everyone: “What poem are we composing today?”
Everyone hurriedly pointed him towards the poem subject.
Qin Liu Feng looked at the subject then at everyone’s works. He paused at Leng Zui’s 《Shui Diao Ge Tou》, remaining silent for a long time before suddenly saying with a smile: “So we’re reciting poems about the moon. Coincidentally, last night’s moonlight was not bad and I happened across a poem. Although it isn’t one that I’m composing on the spot, it just about passes as one that can be shown to everyone.”
Everyone smiled: “Do not say that, quick let us hear and appreciate it.”
Qin Liu Feng clasped his hands behind his back and looked past the window, smiling: “the moonlight at my bedside……”
Bro, what’s the meaning of this! Lei Lei blanked out when she heard this, only hearing everyone’s applause and cheers when she finally collected herself.
“Brother Qin is endowed with great literary talents, we admire you!”
Old Sir Cai stood up excitedly: “Qin Gongzi and Leng Guniang’s poems are the two most unique poems at tonight’s poem meet. I have no words!”
Everyone expressed their agreement.
Qin Liu Feng smiled: “Old Sir Cai flatters me.”
Leng Zui’s pretty face flushed red: “Teacher Cai has spoken too early, there’s still many who have yet to recite their poems. Let’s continue.”
Everyone’s gazes landed on one person.
Lei Lei snapped out of her thoughts and took this chance to slant to the side and faint into the gongzi’s arms. A fake faint.
Year 2008 AD X Month X Day, night.
In front of the computer, GM Shu looked at the screen and snapped her fingers: “Ok!” then together with the four beauties beside her, she burst into peals of satisfied laughter.
“Having entered a tianlei script and this little guy still wants to escape the story’s settings!”
“This is what will happen when you refuse to follow the settings!”
1. 水调歌头 – It’s a name of the tune to which poems are composed…
I don’t understand it.