Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang - Volume 2 - Chapter 54
Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol02 Ch54 (Extra)
To understand a man, perhaps a whole lifetime was needed.
But some men, perhaps not even a whole lifetime was enough, was what Zuiju though.
Fanlu was that kind of hateful guy. He seemed even more watery than girls, by having no fixed state. If you studied him, sometimes his sharp eyes flashed with kind light. The next moment he'd become vicious, like a demon king who was about to eat humans. After a while, a playful smile would suddenly float out again.
That man was wicked man.
He leisurely held his light crossbow as he cornered Zuiju to an edge. Then, for some weird wacky reason, he snatched her away from the sharp teeth and claws of the wolf pack, saving her.
Although he had saved Zuiju's life, he didn't return her freedom.
’’If you want to run, I'll hunt you back like a rabbit.’’ When saying this, an evil smile played on the corners of Fanlu's mouth.
Zuiju had glared fiercely at him, secretly vowing to never let him catch her.
This vow was unfulfilled. For the whole year, she didn't even have the chance to run away.
Fanlu was an expert at imprisoning people. He could always see through Zuiju's long-planned escape plans, chuckling at how easy it was to break her beautiful dream.
’’Why?’’ Zuiju asked, unsatisfied.
’’You're not a person of the army. You never learned unarmed combat or how to imprison a captive properly. You haven't learned how to track down enemies in rural places either.’’ Fanlu then answered with another question, ’’How could you possibly escape from my hands?’’
’’Why are you imprisoning me? Isn't it better to kill me? I don't want to live anyway.’’
Fanlu replied with another question, ’’Do you really not want to live?’’
Zuiju was stunned.
When she woke from her coma, thinking about Pingting's situation, she really didn't want to live any longer.
If her death goes unnoticed, what would her Teacher do?
She could only lower her yells and coldly harrumph, ’’Whether I want to die or not, it's none of your business is it?’’
Fanlu was briefly surprised and coldly harrumphed back, ’’When I decide my answer to that question, maybe living won't be an option anymore.’’
With the privileges as the guard of Qierou City, the prison was more ironclad in many ways, yet Zuiju still persevered in finding ways to escape.
Fanlu finally had enough this time. He grabbed onto her wrists, fiercely pushing her into the wall. ’’You want to return to Dong Lin this much?’’
’’Who said I wanted to go to Dong Lin.’’
’’Then to the Songsen Mountains?’’
’’It's none of your business!’’
’’As expected...’’ Fanlu held her so that she couldn't move at all, like usual, but the corners of his mouth lifted this time. A deceptive look surfaced on his face. He slowly drawled, ’’Bai Pingting was on the Songsen Mountains after all.’’
Zuiju was shocked. She sucked her lips tightly and turned away.
Pingting, if Pingting were still on the Songsen Mountains, then maybe...
’’You took the luminous jade hairpin to look for helpers right?’’ Fanlu forcefully twisted her back by the chin, staring deeply into the wobbling light in her eyes. He studied them for a long time and lowered his voice, ’’It seems that if Bai Pingting didn't die of cold, then she has died of hunger.’’
’’Liar! You liar! Liar, liar!’’ Zuiju immediately screeched at Fanlu, crying, ’’She must've been saved by someone, or maybe she had enough energy and walked down by herself. Maybe she...’’
She suddenly stopped talking, shocked as she found herself in Fanlu's arms. In her who lifetime, apart from her Teacher, she had never been so close to a man. She felt she was being engulfed by fire as Fanlu hugged her.
Zuiju screamed, abruptly pushing Fanlu away. ’’Don't touch me!’’
She summoned all of her energy for that one push. Fanlu took two steps back and steadied himself. His expression changed a few times. He turned to leave. Zuiju finally released her held breath, gasping for large gulps of air to enter her lungs.
Fanlu returned later in the evening. He carried Zuiju's dinner, having one pot of alcohol for himself. Zuiju had her head lowered as she ate. He sat in front of her, not using cups, just pouring the alcohol straight into his mouth. Once all of the alcohol entered his throat, his gaze rested on Zuiju.
His gaze was cold and harsh, his black eyes hiding all sorts of evil intentions. It made everything in the prison seem like a taut string, as if the slightest trigger would induce a terrible incident.
The food seemed to be stuck to Zuiju's backbone as it went down. She felt like she was facing a wild beast, and when she put down her plate, she quickly retreated to the furthest corner of the bed. However, even if the prison was ten times larger, it was still not enough for her to escape his murderous and savage eyes.
Zuiju didn't say anything that night. It made him seem even more like an irrational lurking wild beast.
Zuiju had always thought that she encountered the worst already. Now she finally realised that there were even worse things than waiting.
Fanlu's vicious evil, at first, was nasty and hateful, but the Fanlu now could only make her feel fearful.
Fanlu didn't say a word that night and had almost driven Zuiju crazy with his gaze until he stood up to leave again.
Zuiju watched his back disappear and felt she had survived the impossible. She touched her forehead, drenched in sweat.
Her nightmare had not ended. For ten days consecutively, Fanlu came with alcohol to the prison. Once, he drowsily stumbled his way to the bed, staring at Zuiju with his red eyes. Seeing his huge figure slowly threatening to her, she couldn't help but scream.
The scream brought Fanlu back to his senses.
He shook himself and shook his head as he left.
Zuiju couldn't stand such torture. A woman's nature caused her to understand the what in the coldness of Fanlu's smile meant.
She helplessly looked at the sturdy prison cell. This isolated place was even quieter and apathetic than before.
If it's really...
Then I will die.
Zuiju clenched her fists tightly.
Not knowing how many days she had endured, Fanlu finally stopped drinking.
’’Why aren't you trying to escape these days?’’
’’Tut tut, I was planning to strip you the next time you racked your brains to form a ridiculous plan. Who knew that you actually listened? What a pity, a pity indeed.’’
It seemed like he was pulling an opera. With just one shake of his body, he'd become all nonchalant again. Occasionally he'd be a vicious villain or the joker who liked to tease Zuiju.
When he came to bring dinner, he suddenly asked, ’’Do you want to check out the Songsen Mountains?’’
Zuiju looked up in surprise.
Fanlu's expression was so calm it didn't seem to know what it was saying.
’’Want to go?’’
’’It's fine if you don't.’’ Fanlu turned around.
Zuiju started to shout. ’’Want! I want to go.’’
Fanlu's footsteps stopped. His back view was no longer slovenly but dignified.
Zuiju stared at his spine.
Idiot, he's lying to you.
Idiot, he's teasing you, like teasing a little dog in his cage.
’’When I've finished arranging city affairs, we'll head out.’’
Fanlu only said it once, making Zuiju almost think she heard wrong. She stood in the prison, stunned, racking her brains over and over again in disbelief.
Fanlu had already left.
Although Zuiju didn't believe him at first, three days later, they set off on their journey.
Fanlu didn't bring any other companions;the two were alone.
Qierou wasn't particularly close to the Songsen Mountains. When Fanlu brought the comatose Zuiju from the Songsen Mountains to Qierou, it had taken half a month. Now that both were on horse, it would take at least ten days.
Zuiju guessed, ’’You're afraid I'll leak your secret.’’
’’You hid the truth from the Senior Official of Yun Chang, falsely reporting Pingting's death. If I yell a single sentence in a crowd, you're so dead. That's why you don't dare take me to places with people.’’
Fanlu was lazily leaning against a rock. He coldly said, ’’I just don't want to be the one to personally cut your neck.’’
Nevertheless, both people hoped to reach the Songsen Mountains as soon as possible. Fanlu was a city governor, and it was more or less an unauthorised absence.
Zuiju's heart suffered even more each step towards the Songsen Mountains.
Pingting, are you still alive?
I dearly hope I won't find you in that rocky area.
The two people on fast horses, with whips, finally arrived at the foot of the Songsen Mountains.
Fanlu found a bush to hide and secure the horse before taking out a uniquely shaped metal hook from his waist. ’’I'll let you see how real spies climb mountains.’’
He had prepared two tools, giving one to Zuiju.
The Songsen Mountains were as familiar as home to Fanlu. He was like an ape in the forest and a wild lion in the grass. Zuiju watched him easily jump over a rocky section and saw that he was deeply versed in poisonous weeds as well as various natural traps.
Back then, she and Pingting had taken several days and nights stumbling at this rocky area with great difficulty. With Fanlu leading the way, they had reached it within a day.
Zuiju was amazed.
No rock had changed.
Standing before the rocky area, Zuiju deeply remembered the wind and snow back then.
The wind howling, Pingting's pale face and the green glow of the luminous jade hairpin in the darkness.
’’I will hurry to where Yangfeng is and get her to tell him to send his mountaineering experts with ginseng. I'll make some preparations over there, so they're ready when you arrive.’’
Three days, life or death, only three days.
’’Pingting! Pingting!’’ Zuiju couldn't help shout at the deserted rocky area.
Fanlu stood afar, watching her agitatedly search.
After searching thoroughly, she searched again.
The skies gradually began to darken. Fanlu only slowly walked over when Zuiju's figure became blurry against the rocks.
The exhausted Zuiju finally stopped. She sat down, panting for air. When she heard Fanlu's footsteps, she raised her head, softly saying, ’’Can't find her, I can't find her.’’ She bursted into tears as she cried in joy, ’’That's awesome, she isn't here. She must have left, must have left...’’ She was so happy. She probably went crazy as she wrapped her arms around Fanlu's waist as continued to cry. ’’She must still be alive. I know she wouldn't die.’’
When she raised her head, she was met with Falu's smile. Fanlu had never responded with such a decent smile and in the single moment of a breath, Zuiju's sanity returned.
This man, this man is...
The smile froze on her face as she lowered it. But very soon, Zuiju was even more stunned to realise that her arms were around Fanlu's waist.
’’Ah!’’ She yelped softly, letting go, unwittingly pushing him away.
Her heart was bouncing about everywhere as if criticising her frivolous madness. She didn't have any courage to see Fanlu who had just been pushed away.
The entire Songsen Mountains seemed to stiffen and become silent.
In the silence, Fanlu sneered which was particularly chilling.
The two spent the night in the rocky area.
Perhaps it was because the tip of the Songsen Mountains had never melting snow all year round, Zuiju felt that night was colder than usual. When she woke up early the next morning, she was shocked to bits by Fanlu's gaze.
His gaze was even more profoundly dark than usual. In the Songsen Mountains, he seemed all the more like a wild beast who ate people.
Zuiju followed him silently down the mountain. Fanlu didn't use those weird mountaineering tools again. He just slowly walked through the forest. Zuiju followed behind, increasingly unsettled.
Fanlu's eyes were dangerous.
Now that she knew Pingting was not in the rocky area already, why not take the opportunity to run? Zuiju's heart thumped as she peeked at Fanlu in front.
He focused on moving forwards and had not once looked back to look at Zuiju.
Zuiju cautiously followed him until they reached a bend where she suddenly rushed for the dense forest on one side.
The wind began to howl.
Zuiju didn't dare look back to see. She already knew of Fanlu's terrifying tracking abilities in the mountains. Therefore, she kept on running without stop. The trees in the forest had already grown green leaves, not as empty as they were in winter. However, it felt Zuiju had returned to winter. Her process of desperately running to escape repeated itself.
She ran on crazily, not daring to stop and afraid to look back.
She crossed small patches of rocky areas. Dense bushes and even massive trees in the forest quickly passed her sides.
Her lungs began to burn like fire, leaving burning waves of pain.
She didn't know how long she ran or how far, but she could never support her weight again. Both her knees collapsed. She leaned on a tree, desperately gasping for breath.
’’Had enough of running?’’ said a cold male voice above her head.
Zuiju abruptly raised her head, inhaling the cool air.
Fanlu was leisurely sitting on the tree, his icy cold eyes startling her.
Before Zuiju could take another step, Fanlu turned a somersault as he jumped off the tree, accurately landing in front of her.
’’Didn't I tell you your fate if you tried to escape?’’ Fanlu sighed, ’’Why did you still try?’’
Zuiju finally registered his words. ’’You did that on purpose.’’ She took a step back, both frightened and angry. ’’You cheater, how dare...ah!’’
Fanlu grabbed her, ’’What cheaters dare do, I dare do.’’ He opened his fingers.
Rip! He tore a piece of Zuiju's clothing.
’’No! Let go of me, let go of me!’’
Rip! Another piece of fabric was torn off.
Zuiju finally understood how terrifying a man's power was. She began to cry, ’’I won't run, just let go of me.’’
’’It's too late,’’ Fanlu pressed on.
Fanlu's heavy breath sprayed on her neck. His teeth nibbled her white skin.
’’No,’’ Zuiju helplessly shook her head.
Her delicate shoulders ached from being rubbed against the gravel on the ground. She could see the terrible storm clouds above.
Zuiju desperately raised her head, her body feeling cold as half of her coat had been torn to pieces, scattered in all directions. She only had her single underdress on which was completely unable to protect her.
’’I beg you...’’
’’It's too late.’’
Zuiju closed her eyes in despair.
She felt the weight on her body lift, Fanlu had left instead. Zuiju opened her eyes in surprised, seeing that Fanlu had stood up and had a very alert expression on his face.
’’Who's there?’’ Fanlu demanded.
’’That Missy isn't too bad.’’ Shadows began to reveal in groups out of the forest, forming arcs that then surrounded them. The man leading them looked at Zuiju and licked his lips, ’’Bro, it's not too fun to eat alone. You can start first, and then let us bros try it too, ok?’’
Bandits? Zuiju's heart began to tighten. She huddled up, hugging her body.
Fanlu silently considered a little and nodded, ’’Indeed, it's not fun to eat alone.’’ While he said this, he took off his own coat. He tossed it beside Zuiju's foot.
’’Hah, guess you're experienced.’’
’’But so it happens, I like to eat alone.’’ Fanlu laughed scornfully.
All of the bandits were stunned.
’’What a person who doesn't fear death.’’ The boss fiercely beckoned to him with his chin, ’’My bros, attack!’’
Around ten bandits had their knives flashing in the light as they rushed towards him.
Fanlu took out his light crossbow, put two arrows and shot down two with a whoosh.
Whoosh, whoosh! Two arrows flew again, but there were too many bandits. They had already forced their way up. Fanlu tossed away the crossbow in his hands and pulled out his sword. It clanged as it collided with his opponent's knives.
’’Ah!’’ Zuiju yelped somewhere behind. Fanlu turned away and pierced the bandit that had pounced towards Zuiju.
The sound of a sharp sword splitting the air sounded behind, but Fanlu was already too late by the time he turned back. He felt an immense pain on his right forearm and fresh blood began to drip onto the ground.
Clang! Fanlu swapped his sword onto his left hand, raising his arm to block another hit. He turned back to stare at Zuiju, ’’Why are you still here?’’
Zuiju had already picked up his coat and put it around herself. ’’I...’’
’’Scram.’’ Fanlu coldly said these words. His expression suddenly darkened as the dissonant sound of metal entering flesh came again. His anger came out with the injury. His eyes became red as he shouted, ’’I'll fight you to death!’’
He blocked the way to Zuiju, refusing to back away. He pressed on instead, stepping forwards several times.
Zuiju took advantage and exhausted all of her energy to run in the direction behind.
She ran back the way she came. The massive trees in the forest quickly passed her sides.
Even without looking back, she already knew she was far away. The sounds of killing became quieter and almost inaudible. This time she didn't need to worry about Fanlu chasing as he was already soaked in blood and wouldn't appear like a ghost above her again.
The sound of wind whirled in her ear.
Zuiju ran to a patch of rocky area, hiding herself in a little cave. The rock cave was well-hidden and should be enough to avoid the pursuers behind her, if anyone would anyway.
She panted noisily in the tiny space.
Even after a long time passed, her heart did not stop frantically jumping. She felt as if she was freezing, despite her clothing. When she touched it, its rough texture made her understand that it was Fanlu's coat.
She had escaped, she had really escaped.
She was free.
Zuiju quietly sat in the cave. Her heart felt like it was suspended in air as it anxiously clamoured, unable to relax. She had originally planned to stay the night before leaving as perhaps she could avoid the terrifying bandits then.
How was he? Zuiju stood up. She restrained her emotions and sat back down.
But not long later, she couldn't help but stand up again.
Was he dead?
That hateful guy?
That wicked man?
That shameless despicable cheater...was he dead? He could be killed by the bandits. There were numerous bandits and they could have swarmed around his body until his corpse was all minced up.
This made Zuiju shiver. No, no...no way!
It always seemed that villains could live a thousand years, so someone like him...
She searched for the path she had come from. As she had taken it twice today, she was already a little familiar with it. At first, she was walking hesitantly. For a reason she did not know, she suddenly began to frantically run, even faster than she had during her escape attempts.
Zuiju ran back to the place and suddenly stopped.
Her surroundings were quiet, even the chirping of birds could not be heard. The smell of blood filled this patch of forest and the red on the ground were solidified. Corpses lay everywhere, a mess.
Zuiju approached, mortified, looking for that wicked man's corpse.
No, she didn't hope to find his corpse!
Zuiju desperately crossed those bodies. She had seen fresh blood and corpses all over the ground before. It was even more tragic than this, in the Duke of Zhen-Bei's secluded residence.
But she hadn't been as worried as now.
Is he dead?
Her foot hit something. She lowered her head, her tears pouring straight down.
It was the light crossbow, his favourite crossbow to have in his hands and play with.
Zuiju knelt down, picked up the crossbow and stood up again. She stumbled in the clearing as she looked.
Where, where was he?
He couldn't have been captured right? He had killed so many of the bandits. If he were still alive, then the ways he would be tortured were unthinkable. Maybe...
Zuiju suddenly stopped.
The grass half her height appeared to be hiding something. Although Zuiju couldn't see what it was, she rushed forwards as if she did know.
It was a very familiar back lying in the grass.
Zuiju knelt down, reaching out a hand to check his breathing.
Thank god, he was still alive.
’’Oi! Oi!’’ Zuiju flipped him over.
Fanlu's face was full of blood and mud, but he still managed to open his eyes slightly. He feebly scorned, ’’Stupid thing, why are you still here?’’
Zuiju was temporarily stunned. She couldn't help clench her teeth, ’’You're still alive?’’
The corners of Fanlu's lips curved ever so slightly before his head drooped into unconsciousness.
’’Oi! Oi! Oi! You hateful guy, don't really die on me!’’
Zuiju didn't understand Fanlu, and she didn't understand much about herself either.
Such a great opportunity but she foolishly ran back and dragged this hateful guy ,who refused to die, down the mountain. She could do it with the tool Fanlu lent and taught her how to use. She finally managed to get down the mountain and found the horse they hid.
Fanlu was very injured and very heavy, even heavier than a boar. Zuiju had to pant every step she took while supporting him.
She was anxious to heal Fanlu's injury and even forgot that she ought to send a letter to her Teacher. The only thing that made her feel worthy of her Teacher was that her medical knowledge despite being imprisoned for so long.
She painstakingly put her life out to reach a place where there were people. She took some money out of Fanlu's bag, wrote a prescription and bought the herbs. She soon boiled them and bandaged his wounds until she was exhausted and her muscles ached.
’’You're still here?’’ Fanlu was groggy. It was the first thing he said since opening his eyes.
Zuiju deftly helped him dress his wounds while using the dignified gaze of a doctor to stare at him. ’’You've lost too much blood, so talk less.’’
’’You're a doctor?’’
Fanlu's eye swere muddled, and he fainted again.
His physique was good, so his wounds healed quickly. It seemed that he didn't have much strength however. He was out cold all day and night, and Zuiju even had to feed his meals to him.
Zuiju was secretly anxious and put in all her effort, hoping that he would get well soon.
That day, when Zuiju brought in the properly boiled medicine, she suddenly discovered he had gotten up already. He was dressed and had his crossbow in his hand, looking utterly healthy and energetic. He looked ready to leave, a complete change from his weak attitude yesterday.
’’Us? Go where?’’
’’Qierou of course.’’
Zuiju understood and screamed. She threw down the medicine bowl to run outside, but Fanlu blocked her from the doorway. Fanlu evilly smirked, ’’Have you forgotten your fate if you tried to escape again?’’
Zuiju huffed, ’’You cheater! You were better ages ago, yet pretended you couldn't get off the bed, you...’’
’’I'm a cheater, and if you provoke me too quick, I'll cheat a little more.’’ Fanlu grabbed onto her chin, his fingertips sliding across her red lips.
’’I saved your life.’’ She wasn't satisfied.
’’I saved your life too.’’
Zuiju was trembling with anger, ’’I saved your life, but I didn't lock you up.’’
’’That's why,’’ Fanlu nodded, ’’I'm a cheater.’’
She was caught by Fanlu and returned to Qierou once more.
She remained in the isolated prison and remained seeing that wicked man's teasing smile every day.
Zuiju didn't understand.
Didn't understand that man.
Unless the world were to fall into chaos and Fanlu took her with him to leave, then perhaps she would never be able to leave this place in this lifetime.
Perhaps she would never understand that hateful guy in her lifetime.
- ’’Opera’’: Reference to Chinese opera where the artist turns around and shifts through several different masks, each with their own expression. One can be sad while another could be angry or happy.