Book 2: The Infinite Heart
Chapter 13 - Green Pearl Meeting
In the southwestern parts of Zhongzhou, there was a mountain named "Green Pearl". The mountain with the same name as a famous concubine from ancient China, was similar to the beautiful Green Pearl in many ways - small and charming, with wisps of clouds drifting across its fair temples, it was emerald-colored in the breeze and delightfully placed between sparkling blue bodies of water.
On Green Pearl's peak existed several stacked terraces, seeming like a woman's hair bun from afar. Besides the terrace was a rushing creek filled with long swimming fish, an absolutely picturesque scene.
Meng Fuyao dangled her leg as she laid on the terrace. She held a strand of grass in her mouth, absentmindedly thinking.
Ever since her hurried escape yesterday, she hadn't returned to Prince De's residence. She was afraid that if Qiao Ling told Guo Pingrong about "little pageboy Meng", Zong Yue would be wrapped up in the mess as well, so she directly ran here and slept.
The daylight beside her darkened all of a sudden. A person lay down by her side in an even lazier posture than her's, after which a certain fat white ball marched out to his side, falling down into an identical posture as its owner.
A row of three, laid out orderly.
Fuyao didn't turn her head, her gaze still wandering among the floating clouds in the sky. In the depths of her eyes, however, a hint of a smile rose up.
This person, could always find the most unlikely places to "accidently chance upon" her.
At this point, saying things like aiya what a coincidence would just be pure sophistry; Yuan Zhaoxu very clearly knew of her whereabouts. If such a secretive person wanted to play the "unexpected encounter" game, then she would just humor him.
In reality, after several days of not seeing him, Fuyao unexpectedly felt that she really liked his way of suddenly popping out of nowhere.
It was only Master Yuanbao whose expression was a little unsightly, its mouse face hung so low it looked like a sweet potato. Of course, Meng Fuyao had never really payed any attention to the feelings of this extraneous rat.
The person who had just appeared leisurely laid back by her side. His long eyelashes traced out an elegant arc under his eyes. Today his face color looked a little pale and his mood a little lazy as well, somehow seeming to fit the casual image of a noble descendant even better. Resting on his elbows with his eyes half-closed, in his hand was held a tree branch that looked at-odds with his previous image.
Meng Fuyao tilted her head over, holding back a smile as she anticipated the lousy suggestion he would come up with next. What she saw, though, was Yuan Zhaoxu clearly sitting facing her with his back to the slightly iced-over creek, yet with his head turned away, and backhandedly stabbing out with a "cha" sound.
Water drops flew into the air. Silver scales flashed. On the branch was immediately pierced a lively, jumping fish.
Fuyao's eyes widened as she watched Yuan Zhaoxu, his back facing the creek, casually poke out again to catch yet another fish. His movements swift and accurate, and in a blink a pile of wriggling fish appeared on the floor.
On this wintery day, ice had formed on the creek surface. Yuan Zhaoxu could actually use only his hearing, back facing a layer of ice, and still be able to sense the trajectory of the swimming fish, then accurately catch one of the slippery things every time he stabbed out! Not even considering the martial skill needed, just the sharp hearing and accuracy required was something very few people in the world possessed.
"The lenok fish in Green Pearl spring become even fatter during the winter. You and I are going to feast today." The person who used his unfathomable martial arts to spear fish had just turned his head, before he saw that the super motivated Meng Fuyao had already jumped up and gone to collect the fish.
Fuyao rolled up her robe sleeves as she squatted by the creek bank, preparing the fish. After thinking for a bit she asked Yuan Zhaoxu, "Who was the crazy shouting woman from that night? It looked like she had enmity with your Crown Prince, aren't you an attendant of the Crown Prince? You should know right?"
Yuan Zhaoxu sat crosslegged on withered grass. No matter what kind of pose he was in, it couldn't cover the elegant air that surrounded him. After hearing her words he gave a small chuckle, and his raised eye corners seem to flicker with light as he said, "She is Prince De's consort."
"Ah?" Meng Fuyao looked up in surprise.
"Prince De's consort was the Linjiang King's eldest daughter. Back when the king of Linjiang rebelled and was killed, his whole household was put to death. Only his eldest daughter escaped this fate because she was already Prince De's consort at the time, but in the end she suffered a large change and went mad." Yuan Zhaoxu gave a basic explanation.
"Then why did she say your Crown Prince was of impure bloodline and stole the throne?"
"Among the royal descendants of the Infinite Empire the is a legend." Yuan Zhaoxu replied very cordially. "In his infancy the Crown Prince had once disappeared for a period of time. People with ill-intentions soon spread false rumors, saying that the current Crown Prince was not a Zhangsun descendant, but was a substitute."
"Ridiculous!" Fuyao sniffed with contempt. "That old Infinite Emperor isn't some retard, how could he not know if his own son was real or fake?"
"That is hard to say. People are dull-minded, and mistaking real and fake is something that might always occurred." Yuan Zhaoxu's expression was the same serene look as always. Seeing Fuyao had finished preparing the fish, he unhurriedly scooped out a little multicolored cloth bag object that had many pockets on top.
Meng Fuyao curiously leaned over. "What is that?"
Her long eyelashes fluttered, almost brushing against Yuan Zhaoxu's hand. He chuckled as he used his fingers to pinch out.
"Woah, so neat."
"Ah!" Fuyao leapt away while hatefully glaring.
Pretending nothing happened, Yuan Zhaoxu reached into the brightly-colored sack to look for something. From a red pocket came out a little white bottle, from a green pocket scooped out a black bottle. Yellow, purple, green, blue and other little colored bottles quickly piled up. The bottles were very tiny, each sculpted from an entire piece of crystal and were very valuable.
Once the Meng Fuyao who was acting all cold saw these cute little bottles, she immediately forgot about the thing from before, and animatedly bounded over. "What are these cool thingies?"
Soon however, she watched with disillusionment as Yuan Zhaoxu leisurely rubbed the contents of the bottles onto the fish. From the odors she could smell - salt, plum, wine, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and even some white pepper.
Fuyao stared numbly at a certain person's extravagant way of cooking fish, and for the time being couldn't give any response. These flavorings might seem basic to modern people, but this was an ancient era. In the Five Regions Continent, these spices were expensive and rare, especially the latter three. Vinegar was called cu, and besides highly ranked officials and lords, others could not enjoy it. Further, pepper was a special product unique to the Gaochang Kingdom of the western borderlands, and the states of the Five Regions did not even possess its seeds. For these seven types of flavorings to come together, perhaps only national banquets would be a suitable occasion. Now, they were casually poured out to use on fish randomly speared from a small creek!
Exorbitance, lavishness, a reckless waste!
What kind of person would bring these kinds of stuff with them when traveling!
Also what was this garishly decorated palm-sized thing covered with seven pockets?
Fuyao picked up that "suspicious cloth", a big question mark in her eyes.
"That is Yuanbao's robe." Yuan Zhaoxu helpfully explained.
Meng Fuyao dully turned her head, only to see Master Yuanbao crouching in the distance, cheerfully waiting for Yuan Zhaoxu to dress it in its "seasoning robe".
"It … usually brings these kind of things with it?"
"Is it not heavy?"
"It's pretty fat, so it can carry the weight, also Yuanbao really likes crystals."
"Why didn't it wear it earlier?"
"Well the weather got colder, it wants protect its belly."
Fuyao stopped talking. Like master, like pet. As long as she got used to it everything should be fine right?
The bottles were very small and the seasoning was limited, only able to cover one fish before running out. The fish meat roasted on top of the firepit quickly began to exude an oily fragrance, pulling out Fuyao's memories of eating barbecued meat in her previous life. She couldn't help but sniff her nose then rub her suddenly very empty stomach.
Despite this Fuyao was very responsible and knew the preciousness of the seasoning. After the fish were cooked, her gaze drifted around but she resisted the urge, directly grabbing another piece of unseasoned fish.
In front of her eyes appeared an intensely fragrant fish.
Looking up, she saw a man across from her holding back his mirth. Long brows jumped up in a smooth arc, while the deep eyes, straight nose, and relaxed lips were so elegant they moved one to tears. The beautiful image was like a mountain of maple trees with red-tinged leaves, with a slight hint of vibrant yellow hidden in the deep scarlet coloring. In the brightness was a perfect amount of grace - not only did the eyes feast, but the spirit was also bewildered.
Fuyao squashed down the feelings in her heart. Ai, stop jumping erratically, it would be over if someone heard it!
Yuan Zhaoxu was still looking at her with a smile, his eyes placid. Fuyao cleared her throat, calmly reaching out to receive the roasted fish. Meanwhile, inside she tried to console herself - he looked like he often enjoyed these kinds of fully-seasoned foods, not like the her who was stuck living with no money in these ancient times. Besides salt there was only salt, with her mouth so flavorless a bird could fly out of it!
It's hard to avoid unusual behavior when doing anything with conflicting thoughts. Fuyao clutched the barbecued fish, munching on it with an extraordinarily fierce expression. Her teeth collided with bone letting out ge ge noises, causing the Master Yuanbao on the side, who was eating wild fruit with dignified grace, to stare at her with contempt while shifting its butt away. The only thought it had was to leave this crude barbarian farther and farther away.
After scarfing down the meal with the ferocity of wolves and tigers, Meng Fuyao threw the bones away to rub her uncomfortably full belly, muttering, "A beauty gifted me freshly roasted fish, how should I return this …"
"Return what?" The handsome beauty's ears were sharp, and immediately he inquired while smiling.Footnotes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenok 酢, a Chinese synonym for the regular word for vinegar, 醋 The word flavorless, 淡dan, is a homonym for egg, 蛋. Thus this saying is a pun, the rough meaning is that her mouth was so lacking flavor/egg-like that a bird could fly out.