Chapter Three Because You Are Too Beautiful
To a city who usually did not have much precipitation, the storm came without warning, hitting the banana trees, toppling the walls, causing the roofs to leak, and drowning the goods that hadn’t been transported away. It was frustrating.
In an alley like Falling Parasol, according to the name, this was a place where many parasol trees were plants.
In Changling, the destitute households were the collective name for the hawkers, travelling merchants, renters and servants who did not have their own land and residences. The environment of their residential surroundings was much worse and dirtier than normal streets.
Other than the leaves that had fallen due to the wind and rain, some vegetable leaves and chicken excrement floated in the puddles formed from the uneven slate road.
Ding Ning, whose feet were soaked and was covered in mud and dust, was rushing. The handmade yellow canvas umbrella he held was higher-quality than the ordinary ones on the market and also heavier. This created a great burden on him. He had to constantly switch hands on the umbrella and the oil bottle. He also had to guard against the umbrella being blown by the rain and wind to one side, and so he could not walk fast.
The street-side shop up ahead was completely hidden in the shadow of the storm and the parasol trees. He could only see a blurry blue wine flag floating helplessly.
Under the blue flag was a small wine shop. The decorations were like any other ordinary shop that made their own wine. The hall by the street had several thick and crude square tables. At the counter, other than wine bottles, there were crude pottery for holding peanuts, pickled vegetables and other dishes to go with the wine. Inside the shop was a wine-making space and a self-occupied residence.
When he walked under the eaves of the wine shop, Ding Ning finally sighed in relief. He closed the heavy umbrella, shook his sore arms and roughly scraped the mud off the bottom of his shoes before he walked in.
The wine shop was completely empty.
It wasn’t that business was usually bad. From the round and shiny corners of the tables worn away by cloth sleeves, one would know that people would brush against these tables and chairs many times in a day.
But wine customers with money and idleness may not be in the mood to come out on a day like this. And those customers without the free time were most likely dealing with their leaking houses due to the sudden storm.
“Could you not scrape the mud off on the stone steps outside, why on the door sill?” A displeased female voice scolded from inside the courtyard, like a burst of cool autumn wind sweeping across the empty tables and chairs.
Ding Ning smiled, unconcerned. ‘You don’t even want to do business. Even through the process of making wine has more than a dozen steps, you will randomly drop a few anyways. You are afraid of mud on the door sill?”
The yard was silent for a few seconds. Then soft footsteps sounded and the curtain separating the inner courtyard from the outside was lifted.
“If I knew that so many idlers would come to a wine shop in this place, I would never have listened to your idea.” The woman who lifted the curtain had a voice full of anger. “Also, whether or not the door sill is dirty is my personal feeling, it has nothing to do with business.”
Ding Ning thought for a moment and said seriously, “I can apologize if it is personally offensive to you. But business being too good and having too many people has nothing to do with me, it is because you are too beautiful. Also, opening a wine shop is better than your initial idea of going to the red district to get information. When have you ever heard of a woman, born in a free family who could making a living, go to a brothel of their own accord? They might be born whores, but whores that only sold skill and not their bodies are remarkable people… … you think the people of the Astrology Bureau and Divinity Bureau are stupid?”
The woman did not say anything because she knew each word Ding Ning said was the truth.
Including the sentence that she was too beautiful.
The beauty of most women came from their make-up and charm. They had many beautiful features or unique presences. Some women’s features were not beautiful, but when put together, they gave people an especially pleasing feeling.
But this woman standing in the empty wine shop was beautiful everywhere.
Her features, her body, whether one looked at a part or the whole, she was extremely beautiful.
She could not be considered young, but she was perfectly at the age between youth and age. She had the charms of both. Even though her eyes were filled with anger, her expression cold, dressed in the most ordinary clothing, the feeling she gave others was one of great beauty.
When she wore that normal hemp clothing, it seemed like the most beautiful and valuable clothes in the world.
Anyone who saw this woman would believe that destructive beauty, the kind that would drain color out of the world, truly existed.
She stood there coldly, wearing the most ordinary of clothing, but every part of her body seemed to shine, and could pull at people’s heartstrings.
Her beauty was extraordinary, and the conversation between her and Ding Ning was also extraordinary.
Because on the Divinity Bureau’s file, her name was Zhangsun Qianxue, and she was Ding Ning’s aunt. However, no aunt and nephew who depended on each other to survive would argue like this.
The wine shop quieted and appeared cold.
Ding Ning”s expression gradually turned grave. He thought of the five academians of Astrology Bureau who had surrounded Zhao Zhan’s courtyard, the little courtyard that had shattered into countless pieces in an instant. His bright eyes grew complicated.
“Zhao Zhan is dead, Ye Celeng has returned,” he said softly.
A long period of silence. The beautiful woman frowned and asked coldly, “Ye Celeng by herself?”
Ding Ning guessed what the woman meant, and responded seriously, “Her alone. However, the five academians of the Astrology Bureau formed a formation outside which caused much of Zhao Zhan’s energies to vent into the sky. Also, Ye Celeng was wounded.”
“She was wounded?” Zhangsun Qianxue’s brow furrowed slightly.
“I couldn’t see the severity of her wounds, but definitely wounded.” Ding Ning looked at her eyes and said, “Ye Celeng comes from the Heavenly Prime Sword Pavilion, and cultivates the Fire-Water Divine Art. In this kind of storm, she is much stronger than usual. So while she was able to kill Zhao Zhan alone, she was wounded. This means that her strength is about par with Zhao Zhan.”
Zhangsun Qianxue thought for a moment. “So Realm seven third class.”
Her voice was extremely calm as she talked with D like they were just idly chatting. Yet if the officials of the Divinity Bureau from before could hear the conversation, they would be unimaginably shocked.
Today, in that alleyway, dozens of cultivators had appeared together, and dozens of swordsmen had been forced into vomiting blood by the energy that had vented out. They had appeared extremely pitiful, unable to stand up. Yet usually, any of the swordsmen could completely flatten ten of those streets in the span of fifteen minutes.
Only those with talent, opportunity and special physiques could enter the ranks of cultivators.
The word cultivation was something untouchable to ordinary people. Cultivators that could reach Realm Six were fated to leave behind great passages on the books of history.
Especially people as mysterious like Bureau Chief Ye. Her birth and cultivation method were all extremely mysterious. Even the academians of the Astrology Bureau might not know, but it wasn’t a secret to these people!
And if the plainly-dressed old person and scholarly youth in that tower heard the conversation here, they would be even more shocked.
They were some of the people with the best judgement in this city. But if they heard this conversation, they would find these two people were even more knowledgeable and insightful than they were!
Wind blew into the wine shop and rustled Zhangsun Qianxue”s long hair.
This beautiful woman casually gathered up her scattered hair. She said seriously in a commanding tone, “Go wash up, and then wait on the bed for me. I will close up the shop.”
Even Ding Ning stilled, and then his expression twisted. “Now … … isn’t this too early?”
Zhangsun Qianxue glanced at him and turned around coldly, “Maybe the cold energy of this storm is too heavy, my vital energy is slightly unstable.”
Ding Ning”s relaxed expression disappeared. He said seriously, “This is extremely urgent.”