This was the first time that the blind Five-Bamboo had smiled. Or rather, this was the first time that the sixteen-year-old(16 years old confirmed? -Freya) Fan Xian had ever seen Uncle Five-Bamboo smile. It was only for a split second when he mentioned his mother.
The face of blind Five-Bamboo, which was veiled by the black cloth, did not look old. Instead, it was a cold and piercing look and seldom exudes any emotion. It was rare and unthinkable to see him sad or melancholic.
It was probably rarer for him to smile.
Which was why, when he remembered the past when he and the Mistress first arrived at the Capital in the Qin nation and had the corners of his lips turned up, it felt unfamiliar and rather awkward. Despite that, the unsmiling man would occasionally exude warmth as if a flawless Snow Lotus were to suddenly bloom on a cliff that has endured ten centuries of snow.
It was flawless and beautiful.
It took a while before Fan Xian broke from his stupor; by then, Five-Bamboo had already returned to his usual self and coolly replied, “Not many people knew that the Mistress was named Ye Qing Mei. The people around her only addressed her as the Mistress. However, the name ‘Ye Qing Mei’, even today…… must still be quite well-known in the Capital.”
“Is it now?” Fan Xian’s eyes widened. He felt that there were certain contradictions behind what Five-Bamboo had said; since there were few who knew his mother was named Ye Qing Mei, why was the name that famous? The reason he wondered about it was because he did not know about the words inscribed on the stone tablet at the entrance of the EBI. (Not too sure what this is about, I think it was written in the earlier chapters ~MCM)
“Tell me about my father instead.” Fan Xian’s eyes were looking far away, as though he was thinking about something else.
“I only agreed to talk about the Mistress’s circumstances.”
“Oh myyyyy, you’re quite the sly one, friend.” (He’s being overly friendly with his Uncle here ~MCM)
“Just before you were born, I contracted a severe illness and forgot a lot of things.”
Fan Xian chuckled, “Uncle, you are even more devious than me…… oh wells, it’s fine then. Let us talk about something else…… my…… mother. How does she look like?”
Five-Bamboo thought for a while, before answering, “Beautiful.”
Although the way he said it did not carry too many emotions, Fan Xian felt that Five-Bamboo was sincere about it. He smiled softly while rubbing his hands and sighed, “So she was a beautiful girl.”
Even though the story Five-Bamboo told was lackluster, but by reading between the lines, Fan Xian could feel that, during those years in the Capital, the story of the girl must have been rather interesting and eventful. He was suddenly filled with a sense of longing to go to the Capital.
Five-Bamboo gave a hand signal to motion for Fan Xian to stand up and follow him.
Fan Xian curiously stood up and walked to the back of the room and saw Five-Bamboo gently tapped on the stone wall. A muffled churning noise came from behind the wall and it opened in the middle to reveal a secret lair.
Fan Xian followed Five-Bamboo, surprised. There was nothing in the secret room save for a film of dust and a box that was casually placed in the corner.
Because the hideout was empty except for the chest, it was particularly eye-catching. It was a black leather box around the length of a grown man’s forearm. It was not particularly wide, which might have caused it to look narrower than it actually is.
“No one knew that, before the Mistress and I left for the Capital, we stayed in Danzhou for a period of time. This box was left behind by the Mistress; I have been taking care of it until today. From now on, it shall be in your care.”
Fan Xian’s heart skipped a beat as he walked over. Wiping the layer of dust from the leather box, he looked for a way to open it and discover a bronze lock that was locking it in place.
He was curious as to what his mother had left for him. After half a day of tossing and fooling around with it though, he discovered that the lock could not be opened at all.
“No key.” Five-Bamboo observed his fluster and gently reminded him.
“You could have told me that earlier. What’s the point of giving me this box if I can’t open it?” Fan Xian replied dejectedly.
“When I carried you over from Danzhou, because I needed some people to believe you have already died, I left the key behind.”
Fan Xian massaged his forehead and sighed, thinking that this kind of plot device is seriously overused. Retrieving that slender dagger from the scabbard on his calf, he aimed at the edge of the leather box and looked for a place to pry it.
“Do not bother. The box is sturdier than you can imagine.”
He could tell that Uncle Five-bamboo was strongly against him opening it by force. Smiling wryly, he sheath back the dagger and patted the box, shaking his head. “There could be a few million dollars in bank notes in there. What a pity”, he sighed.
He tested the weight of the box once more, and found it to be heavier than he thought it would be. He was getting more and more intrigued.
“Where’s the key?”
“In the Capital.”
Another generic answer.
Five-Bamboo turned around and walked out of the dungeon. Stealing a glance to see if he was noticed, Fan Xian rolled his eyes and sneakily flicked his elbow and sent his palm downwards on the box. This strike was infused with all of his energy and was extremely powerful and forceful.
A loud “crash” echoed within the lair, even shaking the dust from the entire ceiling and blocking nearly half the light from the oil lamp.
Five-Bamboo’s silhouette coldly turned around to face Fan Xian.
Fan Xian was silently staring at his palm at the moment, flabbergasted. Upon that black box, apart from dust, not even a single mark was left on it.
Looks like the only way to open this mysterious box was to go to the Capital to search for the key.
Fan Xian silently thought about it and mapped out a timeline for how long it will take for him to be able to leave Danzhou. His father would probably not simply allow him to stay at the seaside until he was an old man.
Little did he know that the people sent by the Count who were supposed to bring him over were already on the way.
On the Fourth Spring of Qingli (Not sure how the author intends this sentence to be since it could be interpreted in two ways. Might review it sometime later. ~MCM), Teng Zi Jing sat at Danzhou’s one and only bar and wiped the sweat off his brow. He was staring at a wall.
The wall was adorned with a newspaper that was made of surprisingly good material. On it, tiny inscriptions were written; these words were obviously handwritten by the renowned calligrapher Pan Ling. Its style was elegant and divine, orderly and pure.
If this was placed in the capital, this particular work by the great Pan Ling would have sold for at least three hundred silvers. And since Danzhou was a remote place, it was not unusual for it to be treated so well and revered like it was divine on the wall.
The only problem was that the content was really not suitable for decorating a living room.
Even though the message was rather vague and unclear, it was still one of the legendary newspaper. In the entire Danzhou, there should only be two copies of it. It is a given that the original copy is in the government office. The one that the bar owner managed to get his hands on was secretly sold to him for an exorbitant amount by the servants from the Southernland Count’s Manor.
For the average passersby to not be interested in such an item was an even curiouser phenomenon. Moreover, this was written by the Great Pan Ling himself, which was why the bar owner hung it on the wall after buying it as a unique feature of his shop.
The problem was also that he did not know that this was actually secretly sold by the Young Master Fan Xian. Moreover, Young Master Fan had already sold twenty copies of it to the provision shops within the city and had already made a significant amount of money.
And Teng Zi Jing was just about to meet this Young Master.