The Divine Capital was the home of the Jin Emperor on top of being the greatest city in the dynasty.
The areas outside were naturally guarded with numerous army camps. Anyone who wanted to touch the capital must pay a monstrous price.
There were nine gates and seventy-two towns protecting the capital like stars surrounding the moon. There were guards everywhere on the path to the capital. Even the water route required going through many posts.
"Gaga." Wild geese were uniformly flying southward, each was as big as a dustpan. It was a sunny day but the air felt quite refreshing on the path through Rouge Maple. Red leaves were fluttering to the wind.
Feng Feiyun wore a white daoist robe with a carefree temperament just like a scholar. He stepped on the leaves and stared at the red scene before him: "Winter comes at the end of autumn."
"The winter at the capital is always bleak. When snow falls, many beggars will die on the street. People will collect their bodies like trash in the early morning and dump them in the river outside the city." Xiaoxiang looked a bit flimsy yet still lovely in her purple dress while walking behind him.
"There are beggars here too?" Feiyun thought that only cultivators were there, that it was a debaucherous paradise.
"As long as there are people, there will be beggars." Xiaoxiang answered before suddenly stopping.
Feiyun also stopped and turned back only to find her glistening eyes like two grapes that have just fallen into the river: "We're about to reach the biggest southern town outside the capital. Don't worry, I'll definitely take you to the capital."
"Back to the Beauty's Smile Pavilion." She said.
"That's right." Feiyun replied.
Xiaoxiang bit her lips before slightly opening them to say: "I don't want to go back. Feng Feiyun, take me away from the capital and I'll follow you anywhere, even to the edge of the earth…"
Who knows how much courage she needed to utter these words. Her voice became quieter as she spoke so she was the only one who could hear the last words.
Feiyun was surprised. Even though she kept it discrete, anyone who wasn't a fool could understand her message.
However, he didn't have that type of feelings for her. He didn't care for the consequence when having physical relationships with the demonesses from the heretical school and went as far as to force himself on them. However, against someone are pure and kind as Xiaoxiang, he would never touch her if he couldn't give her a good future.
Xiaoxiang pursued love and freedom. She could hide in the mountains and play her flute by the river, dance on the branches, make tea with the early morning dew. At night, she could stare at the moon and peacefully followed the musical path. She yearned for a life of peaceful serenity.
Feiyun couldn't do that. There was no way for him to spend his life in that manner. People wouldn't allow him to do so. The forefather from the Feng for one, the Evil Woman, and those in the world who didn't want to see him mature.
If there was one day when he could accomplish all of his goals and no one else could threaten him and his loved ones, then perhaps he could say yes to Xiaoxiang. The present wasn't it.
"Sorry…" He wanted to continue saying, "for misleading you," but he couldn't speak because her eyes were full of tears.
XIaoxiang felt something uncomfortable by her chest and immediately said: "I… I don't know what I'm saying. Forget it, I didn't say anything, didn't say anything…"
With that, she turned and ran despite her muddled glare. It was as if her pride had been inadvertently trampled: 'Xiaoxiang, you silly girl, how could you think that the number one genius in the world could abandon fame and live a reclusive life with you… can you stop dreaming?'
She started sobbing as her tears fell onto the leaves, issuing pattering sound just like the light autumn drizzle.
Feiyun took a deep breath with a tinge of sadness. He stared ahead and found a long, purple flute among the leaves.
This was her beloved flute, there was no way she could have dropped it by accident.
"I hope that you will be able to find the life you want, freedom, peace, and full of love. I can't give it to you." Feiyun put away the flute before heading towards the capital.
His lonely figured walked through the sky full of falling leaves.
Rouge Maple Mountain where the leaves were even redder than rouge. 
In a gurgling stream surrounded by trees, Xiaoxiang dipped her feet to the refreshing and cold current. Her hands covered her knees as tears flowed down her face. She could still see that damned fella reflected in the river.
"If you couldn't take me away, why did you have to enter my life? Why? Why?" She bit her lips tightly, causing blood to drip out in the corner of her mouth.
"Creak." A beautiful carriage was crossing through Rouge Maple with leaves covering the top. The shafts were dirty; even the snow deer pulling the carriage was puffing white smokes out of its nose. It clearly had traveled a long way without rest.
However, there was no driver. It was as if the snow-deer had intelligence and knew the way.
It came from the south and was heading for the capital.
"Miss, how many more days is it from here to the capital?" An extremely pleasant voice came from the carriage. It was even more beautiful than the chirping of a nightingale, more enchanting than the gurgling streams from the top of the mountain.
Xiaoxiang was still sitting by the stream, full of tears and confusion in her eyes. It was as if she didn't hear the passenger asking for direction.
The curtain of the carriage was lifted. It was made from the finest white cloth and string from snow silkworms. The material was exquisite like the snow in the winter but the hand lifting it was a thousand time more exquisite and soft.
A supreme beauty, dressed in white, came down from the carriage. She carried a refreshing fragrance with a black bracelet with a long and pretty neck like a swan.
She had a white veil with a silver butterfly pin on her head, creating a distinct contrast in color with the red forest.
"Miss, I came from Grand Southern with important business at the capital. Please let me know if there is still a long way to go." The woman in white stood behind Xiaoxiang.
Xiaoxiang finally noticed someone talking to her and turned around. She blurted after seeing the woman: "Dongfang Jingyue… no, wrong person, you are…"
This woman was truly too beautiful and dressed in a fully white attire so Xiaoxiang got the wrong person. However, upon closer inspection, their temperaments were different, especially their eyes that weren't covered by the veil.
"Sister Ye!" The woman in white suddenly became ecstatic and hurriedly embraced Xiaoxiang.
"You are…" Xiaoxiang was confused.
"Hongyan." Nangong Hongyan felt tears coming out: "Ten years ago, outside of the Supreme Beauty Pavilion at Grand Southern. There was a girl on the verge of starving to death in the deep of winter right below the roof.
"Little Hongyan." Xiaoxiang rubbed her slightly red eyes and wiped away her tears. Her expression became better: "You were only thirteen when I left but now, look at how tall and pretty you are."
"I can't be as pretty as you are." One of Hongyan's most important goals in this trip to the capital was to save Xiaoxiang and take her out. She didn't expect to see Xiaoxiang in this place.
Hongyan noticed the pearls of tear on Xiaoxiang's cheeks and asked: "How did you get out of Beauty's Smile?"
"I…" Xiaoxiang pulled Hongyan over to the shore. They both sat down and she began to talk about her recent stories.
Of course, she didn't bring up Feng Feiyun's name because she didn't wish to remember him.
Hongyan was smart enough so she spoke with a playful glimmer flashing in her eyes: "So you like the man that saved you. How far is your relationship now?"
With a dejected expression, Xiaoxiang begrudgingly said: "He is a famous prodigy and does not want to leave the capital with me."
"So that's why you're here crying by yourself." A murderous bloodthirst emanated from Hongyan. All the fluttering leaves were suddenly swept upward by this aura while the trees became barren. Even the little birds on the branches fell to the ground. She uttered in this scene of ruins: "How illogical. Sister Ye is so brilliant and beautiful, you liking him is his good karma from ten previous lifetimes. How could he treat you like this? Tell me who he is and I shall kill this heartless man."
Hongyan owed Xiaoxiang so everything she did before was in order to save Xiaoxiang from Beauty's Smile. Xiaoxiang wasn't only her life benefactor but also her closest and most respected sister.
How could she watch as her older sister be bullied by this man? She has never been one to hesitate about killing.
"It's not his fault, only a one-sided love from me." Xiaoxiang was actually smiling happily now; the tears have stopped.
"Sister, if you like him then he must be yours. If not, I shall have him taste a fate worse than death. He won't be able to cry even if he wants to then." Hongyan's pretty eyes were full of murderous intent. She hasn't wanted to kill someone like this for a long time now.
She pulled Xiaoxiang towards the carriage.
"Hongyan, where are you taking me?" Xiaoxiang asked.
"I don't want to go there."
"Sister, we cannot run away from men like this. If we don't teach him a lesson, he'll think my big sister is so easily bullied." With a bright flash in her eyes, Hongyan directly took Xiaoxiang into the carriage.
The snow deer began to pull the carriage towards the capital.
1. Rouge = red makeup