Chapter 753 – Green Plums and the Fire of a Stove
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
An Hua noticed this musician father and daughter because she noticed several rather strange details.
The zither player's gown was very old, and it did not bear any signs that it was often washed, yet it was abnormally clean. Even more strange was that although snow was falling outside and the streets had turned to slurry, the shoes on his feet were untouched, looking just like new.
There was also that elegant little girl. She did not carry around any of the usual timidity or self-pity that normal musician girls had. She just quietly sat in the corner, her head slightly raised, her eyes a little dull. The cold indifference on her face, which could also be understood as a disdain for everything around her, made her seem estranged from the world.
This was not an ordinary father and daughter pair of musicians, at least not one that might commonly be seen elsewhere.
An Hua was just thinking of these words when a crisp and moving sound was plucked from the zither by the middle-aged scholar's finger, and before it could fade away, more notes followed like the gurgling of a stream.
What followed next was the girl's singing voice. The girl's voice was pleasant to hear, but also rather unusual. On the final syllable, her tongue would slightly curl as if wanting to swallow back down that last syllable, but this did not make her words unclear, nor did it make her singing feel dull and boring. On the contrary, it made her seem like a peerless beauty behind a curtain of beads.
An Hua had lived in the capital for many years and had listened to many wondrous songs, but she had never heard such a song before. To her surprise, she lost herself in the song, momentarily forgetting the oddities from before.
After the song concluded, the second floor of the inn was quiet for a very long time before the crowd remembered to applaud and cheer. The applause and cheers were not particularly fervent, but this was not because the crowd felt that the father and daughter had performed poorly. Rather it was because everyone, including An Hua, found this haunting tune to be unforgettable and so could not help but halt their applause.
The father and daughter did not rise to bow or express their thanks, not even making attempts to take money. They just quietly sat in the corner of the room.
The father adjusted the zither strings while the girl remained expressionless.
An Hua ordered her maids to bring the girl over, wanting to ask her a few questions.
The girl ignored her entreaties, continuing to stare out the window. Her eyes were unfocused, making it difficult to tell what she was looking at.
An Hua was somewhat saddened, but with her warm personality, she did not feel like she had been spurned. She called over the inn waiter and asked a few questions, discovering that this pair of musicians had only come to Gaoyang Village yesterday. The father was a mute and the daughter also had a few problems. Apparently, she had some sort of strange illness.
An Hua stood up and walked to the corner. She smiled in greeting to the mute zither player, then crouched down by the girl and took her hand.
She was a teacher of the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green, so was extremely skilled at the Sacred Light technique and medical skills. By simply taking her hand, she had already begun taking the girl's pulse. As she sensed the pulse through her fingers, her brow slightly creased. She realized that there truly was a problem with this girl, and it was a very complex problem that had probably already inflicted great harm on the girl's sea of consciousness.
She raised her head to look at the girl.
The girl was still looking out the window.
An Hua's gaze examined the girl's profile.
Other than her eyes being somewhat widely spaced, there was nothing wrong with her face. She was very good-looking; one could even consider her astonishingly beautiful.
For such a beautiful girl to be somewhat retarded was truly a pity.
An Hua felt a deep sympathy for the girl. She took a purse from her sleeve, intending to secretly pass it to the girl.
There were a few silver pieces in this purse.
At this point, the girl looked away from the window and at An Hua.
A few seconds had passed since An Hua had taken her hand. The girl's reaction truly was rather slow.
But An Hua would no longer think this, or perhaps it was better to say that she would no longer dare to think this.
Because she saw the girl's eyes.
At such a close distance, she finally understood that the girl's eyes were not dull, but calm.
Her aura was not one of estrangement, but an arrogance that was deeply rooted in her bones.
Other than the drifting snow, no other thing or matter in this world could disturb her heart, disrupt her calm.
Upon seeing the girl's eyes, An Hua suddenly felt like all the snow outside was surging within, piercing through her clothes and flesh and falling straight upon her sea of consciousness.
It was like grass encountering an endless snowstorm, an ant encountering a giant.
Her body became extremely cold and stiff. She couldn't even move a finger.
She even felt like her sea of consciousness was on the verge of being frozen, that she was about to noiselessly die.
It was at this moment that the girl saw the purse in An Hua's hand.
The girl slowly nodded, her movement so subtle that it would be impossible to notice without careful observation.
She turned back and looked out the window once more.
The violent blizzard ceased, the giant indifferently looking down upon her vanished, and An Hua finally felt the warmth of the real world once more.
Her body was no longer stiff. It could move, so she no longer dared to stay. She got her maids and quickly went downstairs.
When she reached the first floor of the inn, she realized that her clothes were completely soaked in sweat.
An Hua did not speak of this matter to anyone, not the general leading their group or the Sacred Hospital steward surnamed Yang. This was because she had an intense understanding that she had almost discovered some secret and died. Since she was still alive, she could continue to keep treating the matter as a secret.
This had been the girl's unspoken demand.
When she returned to the backyard and heard the general say that it was best to head out immediately, her fear allowed her no objection, and she only asked a few questions.
"Has the specific location been confirmed?"
"Headquarters has had people investigating the source of the ingredients for two days. It should be correct."
There was a medicine store in Gaoyang Village, and based on the reports from the scouts, many ingredients would be transported to the store, and then be transported out of the town in the middle of the night, their ultimate destination unknown. It was evident that the master of the Cinnabar Pill had chosen Gaoyang Village because transportation was convenient and they could acquire any sort of herb or ingredient they required.
On the afternoon of the same day, the general, An Hua, her maids, Master Yang, several dozen soldiers, and the young array master on the stretcher set out to seek the medicine.
After leaving Gaoyang Village, they left the official and military roads and headed deeper into the mountains, where the path was gradually immersed in snow. Though no longer a muddy slurry, it was still just as difficult to walk in.
The deeper they headed into the mountains, the more quiet and beautiful their surroundings became. The faint steam of hot springs could be seen rising from between the pine trees.
If not for the war, this place would have become a famous tourist spot.
The warmth of twilight completely vanished and darkness descended. By the starlight, the group arduously advanced forward. At some point, they reached their destination.
There was a small courtyard nestled deep within the mountains. A stream of water wound its way around the courtyard, steam rising from it. It had probably been drained off from the hot spring.
Due to the warmth of the land, the area around the small courtyard was still brimming with life even in the winter. So close to the waters of the hot spring, nature took on the appearance of all four seasons.
Growing along the wall of the courtyard were a cluster of onions and a bamboo forest. In front of the courtyard, flowers bloomed, and trees shedding their leaves grew in front of the half-arch windows.
Of course, the vast majority of the area was still in the grip of winter, like the small snow-covered lake.
There was a pavilion on the snowy lake, draped in curtains. The figures of two people could faintly be spotted within.
A gust of wind raised the curtains.
Within the pavilion, a stove sat on a fire, with several plum branches serving as fuel.
A man and a girl sat across from each other, the stove in between them.
This girl had a childish face, was clothed in black, and exuded an aura of cold.
The man was rather young, his eyes clean.
Neither the snow nor the plums could match up to their cleanliness.
My editor told me that he doesn't trust zither players anymore.