She lifted a silk curtain and walked into a dimly lit hall.
Really, it is such a waste to have poor lighting for such good hall.Upon the advice of some expert, the candles have been strategically arranged to bask the Sect Leader in an eerie glow when the candlelight is cast on his seat.
“Look Yun-er, what new toy have I got for you!”Sect Leader smiled as he waved a hand at her.
She walked slowly to his chair and let him held up her little hand. “What interesting toy have Master got for Yun-er?” she replied calmly, with nary a flicker in her eyes.
“You are so young but always act old” Sect Leader smiled.
No, it was not her intention to act older than her age.Her dream was in fact, to be able to act her age.According to her research, a normal girl of her age should be learning embroidery or something like that, and not engage in a mental battle with Sect Leader day after day.
When she was standing in front of the mirror yesterday, she spotted a strand of silver on her head.After thinking about it, she concluded that the silver hair was not a natural occurrence, so it must have been a result of overexertion.
“Look, that is the good stuff I brought back for you.” Sect Leader looked expectantly at her, eager to catch her every reaction.
At the bottom of the marble steps was a young man in white.He was kneeling and looked rather unkempt.Actually, she has noticed him the moment she walked into the hall.She only pretended not to see him as her Way for Life-Preservation.
“Master, who is he?”
“An orthodox pugilist who has overestimated his powers when he sneaked into Bai Ming Sect to assassinate me.He should have died, but I’m a generous man and decided to keep him as a Sky Slave.Yun-er, I recall that you do not have a Sky Slave yet?
“Yun-er is still young and has no use for a Sky Slave at the moment.”
Sect Leader gave a mysterious laugh: “Yun-er has lost your family since young and lack guidance.However, you will come to this bridge sooner or later.Since this young man is quite good looking with a good bone set, you can take him and use him.”
Take him and use him
… from what she know, she is 10 years old this year.There are many things she need not use and there is no need to force this on her.
“Men! Bring the bangles!”
A long box was brought to him.Resting on the red silk lining was a pair of shiny golden bangles.The bangles are engraved with a snake emblem and attached with a bell.When worn, the bells will tinkle as the wearer moves.Although it was a pleasant sound when she heard it along the corridors, this moment has taken a rather dangerous turn for her.She has no choice but to take out the bangle from the box and smiled “Thank you Master for the bangles.”
“These bangles are engraved with the snake emblem which is worthy of the Huang Fu name.There is only one such pair in the sect, so you can wear it for him now.”Like a thorn among cotton, a knife hiding behind a smile, Sect Leader was unable to hide his undisguised glee.
“Yes Master.” She also gave a co-operative smile.
She walked slowly to the steps and looked at the kneeling youth in white.Although there were some blood stains on his clothes, it could not disguise his distinguished air.He should be a promising young master from the orthodox sect who had hoped to acquire fame by boldly sneaking into Bai Ming Sect. And meet with a bad end.
She titled her chin and looked at him.He was bound and the deep cuts along the wrists indicate that he has been struggling for a long time. Which means the ropes holding him would likely break soon.Although someone has hit his acupuncture points to render him immobile, it was highly possible he still retain control over his legs.If he managed to strike out her with even thirty percent of his strength, the force would be enough to kill, if not seriously maim a small girl like her.
She looked at his murderous eyes – it was obvious he can’t wait to eat her alive, or break her like a twig.How could a small girl survive his attack?
Once a Sky Bangle is put on, it can never be removed.Even if he managed to escape back to the Central Plains in future, he will be mocked and scorned.It is no wonder this proud youth would rather die than become her Sky Slave.
She can clearly see his antagonism; his strength against her weakness.Behind her, she can also feel Sect Leader’s anticipation.With a tiger in front and a wolf behind, here she is, stuck in the middle trying to live.She, who is just a young girl….
She sat on the steps and asked “What is your name?”
The young man glared at her and said nothing.She toyed with the snake bangle in her hands and pretended that she did not see his murderous intent.She continued: “My name is Huang Fu Yun and I will be your Master from today onwards.”With a click, she has snapped a bangle on her own wrist.
The youth gave a start.The bangle is part of a pair and should be fastened on his ankles, forever branding him to a life of shame.Why did she….
She waved her hand and the tinkling sound of the bell rang crisply across the hall.“This snake bangle is so pretty, how could I let you have all of it?I will take one, you shall take the other, and that will be fair.From henceforth, your Master will only be me.If someone else calls you, you need not answer.”She finally moved and snapped the other snake bangle over his left ankle.
He did not move and continued to stare at her.She went back to the Sect Master and said: “Thank you Master for giving me a Sky Slave.Yun-er will bade her leave now.” She walked a few steps before turning around. “Aren’t you going to follow me.” With that, she walked out of the hall without a backward glance.
The youth got up and chased after her small frame.Her pace was slow as a snail and with her hands folded behind her, she reminded him of an old woman.Why was there such a dumb lass in the unorthodox sect who would fasten a Sky Slave bangle on her own wrist?
When he paid more attention, he could hear muttering as her head swayed back and forth. “….. so ask the sage: if the world scorn me, humiliate me, laugh at me, treat me like nothing, treat me like dirt, lie to me, how to handle thus? So speaks the sage: just one word “endure”.Let him be, go along with him, avoid him, be patient with him, ignore him, in another few years you will no longer see him…. I shall endure, endure, endure… endure some more…”
When someone is unlucky, it will not be affected by time, place or a young girl's weak heart.
After she finished soaking in the hot springs, she was going to head home under the moon light, so rarely she had the mood to serenade an ode to the moon, when a bright sword blade appeared at her neck out of nowhere.
It even carelessly cut off a piece of her wet locks.
"Miss, pardon my offence."
That voice, behind her back, it sounded like the voice changed, but it was definitely a male.
The night wind blew, she smelt a special sulfur smell from the male behind her, it was the same smell as her!
In that moment, her lids that looked down had a flash of killing intent.
"Gentleman had followed me since the Tian Bi cliff?" She lowered her voice to change her original voice.
"....... Pardon the offence, Miss."
That voice had a trace of apology. That means this person from the central plains indeed came from Tian Bi cliff. Tian Bi cliff has the natural hot springs, in which she just soaked.... does that mean he has seen everything?
Her face twitched, tolerate, she must tolerate!
She took a deep breath and let her heart widen. A hero must be able to discern the times, few people from the central plains are able to reach Tian Bi cliff, his martial arts must be greater than her, his movements are also definitely faster than hers, she recognised that the four swords behind her back will not be able to beat a highly skilled pugilist who can reach the Tian Bi cliff.
Additionally, she was only fourteen this year, but due to her emotional stress, her physical development was later than other people by about two to three years, even if she was seen... ah, it was nothing, she will tolerate, tolerate!
Thinking of this, she gazed at the sky, thinking of the sword that may dropped on her head at any time. Tolerate!
"Miss must have misunderstood, in the midst of going up Tian Bi cliff... I've been poisoned by the smoke, my eyes cannot see."
"I definitely believe you!" She said strongly. Even if she did not believe, she must believe! "Gentleman you can follow the sound of my bell down the mountain..." She placed her hands behind her back, she did not dare to make any huge movements for fear of being innocently killed.
"I ask Miss to send me out of this place."
"No problem!" She agreed heartily. There were no hidden traps here, anyone can pass easily, every single road leads to outside, the person behind her must indeed be temporarily blinded. "Gentleman need not worry, the poisonous mist at Tian Bi cliff will evaporate when it sees daylight, upon daylight your eyesight will recover."
"..... Ah, many thanks, Miss."
"Can I start walking?" She tested.
The blade retracted.
She did not even turn her head and walked forward. She was extremely careful, but no matter how much effort she placed in listening, she could not hear any footsteps following her.
Her heart was shocked. He was behind her, but she could not hear a single footstep, doesn't this prove this person's martial art skills was incredibly high? Now, she can only hope his character was as high as his skills, that he wouldn't send her to meet King Yan Luo (ruler of the Underworld) after he finished using her.
Her head --- must not ever turn back. The people in the central plains like to talk about face, when they intrude into the Demon Sect, it was to eliminate the Demon Sect Leader, now that his task did not succeed.... would he kill her to vent his anger?
"Miss is a Sky Slave?"
Oh no, she shook the bell on her hand, and answered, "Gentleman have recognised wrongly, this is only an ordinary bell sound. The Sky Slave Males have it on their feet, the Sky Slave Females have it on their hands, but I only have one, this is a bangle I bought from the central plains." He better not be mistaken, the people in the central plains especially look down on the Sky Slaves, when some Sky Slaves escape back to the central plains, their outcome can only be described as terrible. She did not want to bear such punishment.
The person behind her did not make a sound.
After a while, he seemed to realised that she was indeed leading him out of Tian Lin (sky forest), he said, "Miss has a good heart, you have truly brought me out."
She pursed her lips, then replied, "My heart is not only good, I also hanker for peace and a quiet life. I have never killed anyone and have never blocked anyone's road." This must be said clearly.
She did not want to attract trouble, naturally she would not lead him into the sect, she only wanted to quickly send him away, to treat it as a ridiculous dream and not leave a trace.
"So it turns out that Bai Ming Sect (the original name of the sect) also has a character like Miss, a pity about where you were born."
"Ah, I also feel the same way," She shook her head and sighed, "If I was born in an ordinary family, I would not need to suffer such a life and death fate in the middle of the night, still hoping that Gentleman will be aboveboard, and not take my life as well." She emphasised on the word "aboveboard".
"That is natural, the grace Miss have shown tonight, I will definitely remember." He also copied her way of emphasising the words.
"No no, this is a small favour, only sending you as I take a stroll, it is nothing nothing." Please don't remember her, please.
It was not known if the person behind her was surprised at her humility or shocked that there was such a weak person in the Bai Ming Sect, essentially, he did not reply her.
She continued to walk as if she was on a stroll, not daring to go faster or slower. The night air continued to blow, causing her long untied hair to sway with the wind, she did not expect something to happen tonight, so she wore very casually, a loose young male's outfit, so that she could take it off and sleep immediately when she is home, who would know.... ah, Heaven plays with all of us.
"There's someone in front." Suddenly, the person from the central plains spoke, his voice was extremely low.
She reacted quickly, she immediately stopped and said, "Gentleman, please turn around."
Following which, she turned around with her hands behind her back, she saw that five steps away, was a young male.
Her pupils widened. This young male from the central plains wore a robe of white, his tall figure appeared elegant and handsome, he did not appear to have passed twenty, such a person, was already a highly skilled pugilist?
Her heart inwardly cried that she was lucky. So young and already highly skilled, this kind of person was likely a genius, and geniuses are easily agitated. If she had tricked him, even if his eyesight was not good, he could have killed her with one stroke!
Lucky, lucky! Her personality that disliked more trouble had saved her life today.
"Who is ahead?" The patrolling guard cried.
"Who else?" She replied unhappily, she did not turn her head and pretended she was admiring the moon.
Every month during night time, she would go to the hot springs for a few times then return to her residence. There was usually no one so she was used to walking around without makeup, who knew that a man from the central plains will arrive, and cause her to meet others, this example reminded her to never loosen her guard, in future other than when she was at home, she will not remove her "protector makeup".
".... protector?" The guard asked suspiciously. This voice, this figure, this little old woman appearance, it was clearly the weakest small protector in Bai Ming Sect.
"Good that you know. Hard on you to patrol tonight," She said lightly.
"He is my Sky Slave, don't you recognise him?"
"Yes, yes." Four years ago, the protector received a young Sky Slave, from then on they never parted.
She waved her hand, "Go go, don't spoil my admiration of the moon."
She let out a breath of air. Although she just bathed, her body was now covered with sweat again. Drats, but she must tolerate.
She did not want to see the person from the central plains again, she turned around, her back facing him and said, "Gentleman, we can go."
She heard him turn around, and laughed, "Gentleman, although this is the first time we met, who knew we could cooperate so well." She wanted him to turn, he turned, they cooperated seamlessly and had great chemistry.
"Miss treats people with sincerity, naturally I will trust you."
What an apt compliment, she decided to accept it. In reality, she was forced to take out all her sincerity to resolve the greatest danger in her life so far!
Asking him to turn around was to prevent him from seeing her face. What a joke, if he recognised her face, who knew what trouble it would cause?
After a while, they finally reached the exit.
She said, "The morning is arriving, Gentleman's eyesight should return soon, I have led you out of Tian Lin, please go."
"Miss is Bai Ming Sect's Protector?"
"Even though I am a protector, I am unsoiled by the roots I come from. If Gentleman want to repay grace with revenge, then it ruins the so called righteousness of the central plains."
He laughed, "Don't misunderstand, Miss, I only wanted to know your name, I remember the Bai Ming Sect has a right and left protector, the left protector is Huang Fu Yun..."
"I am the right protector Che Yan Yan!" She shamelessly pushed the disaster to someone else.
"Che Yan Yan......" The voice repeated it, as if he wanted to remember her.
Her back started to sweat, don't remember don't remember.... oh wells, you can remember, as long as it's not her.
"I remember that Che Yan Yan is the right protector, sixteen this year... Miss, your figure.... your voice doesn't match."
"Are you saying my voice sounds like a child?" She sighed, "Although I'm sixteen, the Sect Leader forces me to practise dark arts, ruining my figure, causing my voice to be like a child... I don't want this either!"
"It is spread that Che Yan Yan is a big beauty..."
"Gentleman, I have low self esteem. Even though I look like a child, I still want face, so I ordered people to spread the rumour that I was beautiful to satisfy my superficial heart..." Are you happy now?
"Oh so it is, I have offended." He sympathised.
"Oh no offence taken, I just hope that you will not reveal my lie when you hear people talking about Che Yan Yan's beauty next time. Gentleman, quickly go." She did not want to wait for daylight to arrive and for them to stare at each other.
"Gentleman?" This person was not planning to leave, was he intending to stay here for the rest of his life?
"Miss Che, since I owe you a debt, I must repay it, you... do you have a hankerchief?"
She almost fell to the floor. Handkerchief? Even though she's not someone from the central plains, she also read books. A handkerchief was akin to a love token, does this person want to repay a debt or confirm feelings?
"It's easy if you want to repay the debt. In future if Yan Yan goes to the central plains, you can come find me."
"Miss is right."
"Now is there any other matter..."
He quietly analysed, "Although the pugilist world in the central plains is righteous, one cannot guarantee that someone will not falsely impersonate Miss Che... I think it's better if I see your appearance at daylight so I do not repay the debt to the wrong person......"
She narrowed her eyes.
The sky was brightening, she quickly decided, she turned around and faced him, her face leaned downwards, she did not raise her head to meet his gaze.
She took out a clean white handkerchief from her waist.
"Gentleman, you may use this to recognise me in future."
He received it, then placed something in her hands. She looked, it was a jade pendant.
"If Miss have trouble in future, just bring this to any big sect and they will bring you to see me."
Any big sect? How arrrogant, she never knew the pugilist world in the central plains had become so united? She pretended to carefully keep it, she stared at the soil and laughed, "I hope I lead a life of peace and will never have to use the jade pendant."
"Miss, you don't even have a flower embroidery on your handkerchief."
She had a big smile on her face, "To be honest, I know that Bai Ming Sect has done many evil things, but my heart leans towards the righteousness in the central plains, this handkerchief is like a sacred land in my heart, whenever I see it, my heart becomes at peace."
"..... Miss really has the heart."
The voice carried an uncontrollable suppression, was he touched by her?
"...Che Yan Yan.... Che Yan Yan..." He seemed to be interested in her name, he kept repeating it.
"Gentleman, the light is arriving." She reminded.
"Then I shall bid farewell, many thanks to Miss Yan Yan."
She peeked and saw the person was paying her a respectful gesture, so she returned it. She stared at his shoes for a long while, seeing that he finally moved, he passed her by and headed out of Tian Lin.
At this time, she noticed that the person's white robes and shoes were a little wet... she bit her lips, she could not control her anger. For it to be wet, he must have been very near the hot springs.
For someone whose eyesight is not good, how much can he see at close lengths?
"Gentleman," She tried to tolerate, until she could no longer tolerate.
The footsteps stopped.
She did not turn back, she slowly grabbed her wide sleeves on her red robe, and coldly said, " Gentleman wears a dashing snow robe, but I am used to wearing black robes. White and black contrasts with each other, as if marking our opposing stance."
He did not even pause and answered, "If Miss Yan Yan like to wear black, that is your own personal taste, it has nothing to do with good or evil."
"So.... Gentleman held my handkerchief, how do you know that it did not have any embroidery?"
"Just now Miss Yan Yan did not see? I had touched the handkerchief, there was no pattern."
"Oh so it is. After today's parting, it will be difficult to meet again, Yan Yan will not tell the Gentleman that we will meet again."
"Miss... take care. If you ever have trouble, please come and find me in the central plains. Goodbye."
She did not turn around and continued to play with her belt at her red robes. She wore a whole body of red today, but he had followed her words, if this person wasn't really blind, he was incredibly smart.