AST 1521 - Moonlight City, The Complexity of Women
They used Qing Shui’s Nine Continents Steps to travel. Qing Shui looked over at Qin Qing when he had reached his limit of Nine Continents Steps for that day. "We can either carry on with our journey or do something else. This way we won't delay our cultivation training. I'll leave it up to you. I'm fine with either!"
Qin Qing didn't specify her status within Great Qin Dynasty, but with her surname, she was likely a member of the royal family. Considering her might, he wondered how high ranking she was in the Great Qin Dynasty. Regardless, with her current level of strength, she would be one of the strongest wherever she went.
Qing Shui didn't know if Qin Qing was at the level of a Peak False God, but he did know that in comparison with the ancestor from Hua Clan, she was in no way inferior.
"We are not in a hurry anyway. Let's just get on with our journey like this." After a while, Qin Qing responded with a smile.
Qing Shui nodded. "Alright, we'll go with your decision."
Qin Qing smiled but her eyes seemed to reflect a hint of displeasure. Qing Shui brushed it off as a figment of his imagination. Looking around, he saw that they had landed in a small city. After asking around, he found out that this was a city that belonged to the Dormant Moon Dynasty.
It was a small, backward town in a remote area. If it had not been for the Nine Continents Steps which happened to land them here, he presumed that he would never have stepped into this place throughout his entire life.
"Sister Qin, let's rest here for the night and continue our journey tomorrow!" Qing Shui smiled as he took in his surroundings.
"Mmh!" Qin Qing hummed softly in agreement.
It seemed to Qing Shui that the town was similar to Hundred Miles City, and even the streets that they walked along were alike. Where there were cities in the Main Continent, there would be crowds of people. There was no lack of humans within the Main Continent.
Moonlight City was next to Moonlight Mountain. It was a good environment; the air felt great, and even the arrangement was optimal according to Feng Shui. It was a pity that its location was so isolated and backward.
(T/N: Feng Shui literally translates as "wind-water" and is an ancient Chinese practice of harnessing the natural forces of nature to promote prosperity, harmony, vitality and constructive changes in our lives.)
Qing Shui felt a stirring of emotions as he looked around; there would always be poor within the richest cities, and vice versa. There were many common folk in this world and in comparison to the other Continents, the Haohan Continent was exceptionally powerful. While it seemed a lot stronger, the level of strength would eventually level out if everyone—weak and strong—was taken into consideration.
Like a couple, the two of them walked side by side.
"Uncle! Why don't buy a flower for your wife?"
(T/N: Uncle, in this case, is used loosely and casually to address anyone significantly older than you.)
It was only when a young voice reached them that Qing Shui and Qin Qing discovered the young girl. They didn't know when she had started walking alongside them. She was about seven or eight years old and scrawny in physique, wearing ordinary clothes that were very clean. The most prominent feature on her face were those bright, big eyes that seemed to hold a kind of ignorance yet determination towards the world.
Qing Shui was a little taken aback as he thought of his own children. Compared to this little girl, they were lucky. While Qing Shui was stuck in his daze, Qin Qing flashed a smile and took a bright flower from the young girl. It was a love flower. This flower in the Main Continent held the same meaning as roses in his previous life.
Qing Shui lightly touched his nose, but the little girl had already bid them goodbye and left.
Watching the petite silhouette of the girl disappear, he was tempted to stop her and offer her a sum of money in order to lead a good life, but he knew he couldn't do so. This would bring harm to her instead.
Even if her life was hard, the little girl was filled with optimism. If he had given her money and the change to her way of life piqued another's interest, then it would only be detrimental for her. Besides, she had lived this way for so long now. If her reality was suddenly altered, then how would she survive without money in the future?
So Qing Shui didn't do anything in the end.
"Here, for you!"
Qing Shui turned around as Qin Qing offered him the bright love flower.
His lips were drawn into a line when he accepted it, and his face flushed with embarrassment. He felt a strange, indescribable feeling. With a chuckle, he said, "Are you proposing to me?"
"Dream on!" Qin Qing walked ahead, laughing as she did.
Qing Shui followed behind her with the flower in hand. The people milling about even thought that he had just failed in his proposal to Qin Qing.
"Young man, don't give up! You'll succeed after a few more attempts!" A benevolent old man said to Qing Shui.
"Thank you, grandpa!" Qing Shui grinned with a wave towards the elderly man before chasing after Qin Qing.
Qing Shui was confused. The love flower represented exactly as its name suggested: love. Regardless of whether a man or woman gifted it, its meaning remained the same.
This was why Qing Shui was confused; he didn't know what Qin Qing had meant by this gesture. Although the flower was given to him by Qin Qing, he knew that she didn't mean it in that way, or at least not by its literal meaning.
They continued walking and looking around at the streets of hawkers, stalls and shops. Each place had its own unique characteristic. There was even a dedicated street for snacks.
Wherever he was, Qing Shui would make sure to taste the most well-known dish in the area. After all, the desire for food and sex was only part of human nature; hunger breeds discontentment and so eating was an important part of life and a great enjoyment.
Qin Qing had a small appetite but on the other hand, Qing Shui's appetite was huge. It's all about letting go of one’s hunger. Another advantage that martial artists had against the common folk was their ability to eat as much as they wanted. Once they had their fill, they could use their Origin Qi to digest the food, then continue eating again until they're all out of Origin Qi...
Of course, there weren't many who would do this unless the food was delicious enough to have such an effect on a person.
The town was lively and the hawkers were busy with their own stalls. Each one was like a point rotating in a circle; some rotated in a larger circle, and some in smaller circles. They all orbited in such a way, and they all returned to the starting line at some point.
Qing Shui wondered about the meaning to life. Some lived for revenge, others for love, and there were also those who lived to repay their debts...
"Sister Qin, why do humans want to live?" Qing Shui asked.
Qin Qing was surprised by the abrupt question. Her confusion and fatigue undisguised when she looked over at the Qing Shui, she gently replied, "Living is what we were entrusted to do as soon as we were born, there’s no question of why."
"As soon as we were born, we were given the responsibility to live." Qing Shui murmured this sentence and thought it to be true. This sentence was able to sum up many explanations, such as not being eligible to die, for your life was given by your parents, or being ineligible to talk about life and death, and so we all could do is live.
"What do you live for, Sister Qin?" Qing Shui asked with a smile.
"Could it be that this was what you wanted to ask all along?" Qin Qing turned around and reciprocated his smile.
"I was just wondering what is most important to you." Qing Shui neither acknowledged nor denied the claim. Besides, it wasn’t a big deal to speak of these things. It shouldn’t be a big deal!
"People don’t necessarily have anything specific that they live for, as long as they are comfortable. Why? Do you have something that’s bothering you?" Qin Qing laughed.
"Mm-hmm. The person I like doesn’t seem to reciprocate my feelings. What do I do?" He asked earnestly.
Qin Qing choked at the question, speechless as she watched the seriousness in Qing Shui’s eyes. Even if she guessed that the person he meant was her, as long as he didn’t divulge this, then neither would she. "Let it go, then. You can’t force matters of the heart."
"No, I can’t admit defeat just like that. What is such a minor obstacle to a man like me, right, Sister Qin?" Qing Shui laughed.
Qin Qing shook her head lightly. The duo decided to stay for the night at an inn not far away, and resume their journey tomorrow instead.
After dinner, when the evening lights were lit, the two left the inn with the intention of enjoying the city’s night view. Moonlight City looked much prettier during the evening.
"Hey, look. There’s a pretty woman, Brother Gou. Brother Gou, do you see?"
(T/N: Gou is also the actual word for dog in Chinese)
An unexpected voice sounded from not far away.
"She’s as beautiful as an angel. We have lived here for decades, and yet we have never met such a gorgeous woman. Compared to Widow Lee, she looks a hundred times—no, ten thousand times better!"
"Brother Gou, let's go take a look. They seem like outsiders to this city."
Qing Shui saw the man known as Brother Gou. He was thin with a mole on his face and had a sneaky look to him. He seemed absolutely wretched.
Qing Shui laughed. These ruffians were simple-minded. They had the audacity to make a move on Qin Qing? Were they tired of living?
"Lady, why don’t you have a few drinks with me? The wine at the inn over there is great. To be able to drink with a beauty like you beside me, I’m afraid I’d be intoxicated even without consuming much." Brother Gou laughed maliciously.
Qing Shui blanked at those words. Not only had this dog ignored his presence, but the words that just came out of this son of a dog were utterly revolting as well.
(T/N: Qing Shui calls him dog here as a derogatory term, in reference to his name)
"You should ask my husband. I'll accompany you if he allows me to." Qin Qing gently said, then tugged at Qing Shui’s sleeve.
Qing Shui’s heart was racing again, even though he knew that the woman was only saying those words without meaning it. He looked up at the Gou Brothers and his friends, "Who are you? Move, don’t interrupt my stroll with my wife.”
Qing Shui wrapped an arm around Qin Qing's slim waist.
Qin Qing extended her arm around Qing Shui as well, and with a painful twist, she pinched Qing Shui around his waist and whispered, "Don’t go overboard, otherwise I might just hit you."
Qing Shui smiled. Qin Qing’s pinch didn’t hurt. Instead it sent his mind running wild.
"Boy, scram if you know what’s good for you. Our Brother Gou has taken a liking to her." A young man shouted towards Qing Shui.
The more backward these idiots were, the more barbaric they would get. The more barbaric they were, the more ignorant they become. These people must have been tyrannical to the people in this region as well. Even people on the streets would hide from them.
"Numbskull, you better get out of my sight at once. What a group of idiots. Why don’t you go play in that corner? I have no time to waste on you." The haughtiness of that Brother Gou was enough to repulse Qing Shui, and he cussed before he could stop himself. It’s just that these insulting words that he had taken from his past life were equally popular here...
"Fu—aren’t you arrogant?! Brothers, go teach him a lesson! Let him know that whatever our Brother Gou says goes!" The young man yelled.
This group of ruffians wasn’t completely useless. Among them, there were more than ten who had Peak Houtian cultivation as well. Yet, if a mere Peak Houtian could be this obnoxious, then the strength of the people here should be the same as those of Hundred Miles City.
Looking at the bunch of ruffians charging towards him, Qing Shui swiped one slap after another towards them. Those who were hit were sent flying backwards immediately, spouting fresh blood and losing a great number of teeth in the process.
The attack left them in a daze. They understood by now that they’d just encountered an extremely formidable individual. They were underlings who knew of the martial arts world and its strength within their group, and soon, one of them was rolling on the ground and yelling their plea for mercy.
Brother Gou was the strongest among the group and to be able to dominate such a big group of people, he was naturally smart as well. He groveled before Qing Shui, "Sir, we were ignorant. Please forgive us this once."
"To have had the audacity to make a move on my woman, you should have been ready to accept the punishment as well.” Once Qing Shui was done, he aimed a foot towards the area between his lower abdomen and waist.
Silence filled the air once more after that single holler. Not only had Brother Gou lost his cultivation, he could no longer bring harm to girls anymore.