Part of a Peony’s Tavern translation project at fruitydeer.com.
Do not download, copy, or redistribute without permission.
Source: 芍藥客棧 by Yi Mei Tong Qian // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Lots of action in this chapter, which I’ve realized I’m not good at translating. Let me know if there’s anything confusing here.
Shao Zi looked at him gratefully: “Thank you, Gao Ren.”
Not only was he powerful and kindhearted, but also suave and outstanding during critical times. Shao Zi’s heart blossomed with delight.
She followed Gao Ren out of Zhuang Yuan Town. Though the sky was still bright, but it was gloomy and dark off in the distance. It was as if the armies were pushing down oppressively on the horizon.
She had come out to help, but Shao Zi felt like her usefulness was actually limited only to telling him where “outside of town” was. She couldn’t even qualify as a sidekick.
Once the boundary was cast around the town, Shao Zi peered at Gao Ren. Though the spiritual power expended to create that circle just now expended quite a bit of one’s power, his expression remained unchanged. On the way back, she could not help but ask: “Gao Ren, what in the world is your identity? You’re not scared of offending the Dragon Clan or the Mermen?”
Gao Ren chuckled: “When the time comes, I’ll naturally tell you.”
Shao Zi nodded, then wondered: “Then what time is ‘when the time comes’?”
Gao Ren pondered for a while before murmuring: “I’m not sure either.”
Shao Zi tilted her head and didn’t ask any further.
The two returned to the tavern. Before Gao Ren’s foot even landed on the steps, he looked up, his gaze stilling: “The little white snake isn’t here.”
After he spoke, they saw a wave of golden light rush out, disappearing towards the east in a flash: “The dragon deity has left as well now.”
Shao Zi merely thought it strange: “What happened?”
Gao Ren thought about it for a moment, his expression suddenly shifting: “It looks like it wasn’t the dragon deity that left the little white snake behind, but that the little white snake left left the dragon deity behind. Isn’t she an expert at imitating the dragon deity’s appearance? I presume that, in order to buy those two days worth of time, she went to redirect those troops herself. The dragon deity realized this and immediately took chase. So…that formation just now was set up for nothing. At this rate, they may have already rushed all the way to Dong Lin Town.”
Shao Zi hesitated, not knowing if she should go look for them or if she should celebrate that they left. Even though they once hid here, should they get caught somewhere else, the tavern would not be affected. She crinkled her brows in thought, ultimately deciding to go take a look. Mn, she was merely going to take a look. She definitely didn’t harbor an intent of saving them by a fluke. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be misunderstood by anyone.
Seeing that Gao Ren also wanted to follow along, Shao Zi held him back: “You’ve helped me several times and I couldn’t be more grateful. But the situation this time is too dangerous. Gao Ren, it’s best if you stay here.”
Gao Ren smiled: “It’s alright. I want to join in on the commotion, too.”
Shao Zi took pause, then nodded: “You must be careful then.”
Just as her final words fell, a gust swelled below their feet and they began traveling by wind. The silks of their clothing and their fine, dark hair fluttered in the air while navy blue and powder white intermeshed. It looked as if they were descended immortals traveling the Mortal Realm.
As they got closer to Dong Lin Town, the demon energy in town became more and more concentrated. Shao Zi scented that dense odor, frowning: “Looks like the Mermen were first to arrive.”
Hearing her anxious voice, Gao Ren grabbed her tightly: “There’s no need worry.”
How could Shao Zi not worry? She knew how much that little white snake weighed. She couldn’t even beat Shao Zi, let alone deal with those bold and skilled opponents. As she rushed over with a heart full of anxiety, she saw the Mermen army off in the distance. Under the sunlight, their scales of armor reflected harsh beams of light, causing one’s eyes to sting. A long, black dragon vaulted through the sky and on one of his horn of his tail wrapped a white snake. When the distance between them and the dragon shortened slightly, she realized that their bodies were coated with blood and wounds.
Her heart instantly tensed, Shao Zi grabbed at Gao Ren’s lapel while at the two figures in a daze. Should she rush over there, she’d probably get thrown into the skies by the strike of a claw, no?
The mermen raised their hooks and spears, attacking the two inside the formation. The sharp blades of the hooks pierced the formation in the sky, their hostile energy as thick as a cloud. With a swing of his tail, the dragon deity swept away the better half of the densely gathered mermen. A ball of fire rolled from his mouth and into the air, its burning heat forcing the mermen to back away in retreat.
With just a single jostle, the little white snake wrapped tightly around the dragon’s horn shook, releasing its hold and falling downwards. The dragon deity leaned over in descent, but his path was blocked by the mermen. Shao Zi had no time to think and simply rushed over to catch her in her arms. Only then did she realize that the extent of the injuries was worse than what she initially imagined. Shao Zi’s heart pained and she carefully held the little white snake, passing her spiritual energy over through her hands to help heal her. Once that pungent ocean smell traveled over and she finally reacted by looking up, she was already surrounded by dozens of mermen.
She gulped, laughing dryly: “I’m just…passing by.”
The mermen sneered and raised their spears. Shao Zi liften her right hand with an “open!” Immediately, a wall of flowers made of blooms upon blooms of peonies blossomed before them. From it came a dense peony blossom fragrance that covered the ocean smell, assailing the mermen and making them spin around dizzily. However, they were ultimately still valorous creatures of the sea. A mere moment later, their spears pierced across and the wall of flowers suddenly shattered, scattering broken blossoms all across the sky.
Just as they were about to catch her alive, a loud roar shook the sky. Before the mermen could take a closer look, something heavy struck their faces then rushed into the clouds. Shao Zi blinked and looked over. It was a dragon’s tail. The Dragon Clan’s army had arrived!
Shao Zi instantly became haughty. The dragon deity would survive. Who would have expected that one of the dragons would say coldly: “Hand over the snake demon and your life will be spared.”
Shao Zi hugged the shallowly breathing little white snake as cold sweat began to form: “What do want her for?”
That person said: “A punishment for approaching the Dragon Clan with errant intent.”
Shao Zi couldn’t help rebutting: “How does she have errant intent? Plus, she’s just a little white snake. You banishing her costs less effort than blowing dust. Where would she even find an opportunity to do bad things?”
“For harboring the snake demon, punishment!”
Shao Zi froze. Seeing the other party move with the intent to kill, she hurriedly turned to flee. Who would’ve thought that Gao Ren was right behind her. Just as she turned around, her head ran into his chin, the pain making her all the more frustrated: “Hurry and run away!”
Gao Ren held her back helplessly: “The back road has already been cut off.”
Shao Zi looked ahead in haste. One dragon’s body was enough to block the entire “east” of north, south, east, and west! She was nearly frightened into a mess. Forcefully pushing Gao Ren away, she spoke earnestly towards the dragon: “I don’t know him, let him leave.”
Gao Ren stared blankly for a moment. She clearly knew he was a powerful person, yet she didn’t beg him for help and instead tried to push him away in a moment of crisis and sever relations with him. Obviously, all she needed to do was hand over the little white snake, but she did not such thing. She was really…dumb. Simply too dumb.
He lifted his eyes and looked at the black dragon who had been trapped by the mermen. Then, he looked at the Dragon Clan that had trapped the tree of them. With his usual faint smile, he held onto Shao Zi’s hand: “How could I leave you behind?”
Stunned, Shao Zi looked at the him with his untamed and handsome features, looking as leisurely as the first time they met. Back then, there was still some distance between them, but hearing these words today brought them closer by several degrees. Though she did not know why he always appeared by her side, she could now be sure that he wasn’t merely passing by or here for the fun. Rather, he was truly helping her.
The terror in her heart dissipated in an instant.
Without hesitation, Shao Zi nodded seriously. She looked at death as her return home1: “Mn, we’ll die together!”
Gao Ren’s lips twitched. He patted her head: “Our days are still long, don’t speak of death so lightly.”
Shao Zi was astonished. Was he so powerful that he could fend off the two warrior clans?
Just then, she saw a blue light appear in the horizon illuminate the skies and earth with jade light. Like spring’s arrival on the vastness of the earth, it shook away the hostile energy covering the skies.
Shao Zi’s eyes opened wide as she saw that blue spiritual creature, so shocked was she that she couldn’t form any words. She stared for a long time and her legs nearly went soft: “Azure…Azure Dragon?”
The limitlessly powerful divine beast that could bring the Six Realms to both bow in awe and fear, existing only in legends…Why has is shown up here?!
Gao Ren glanced over, smiling with ease: “Yes, Azure Dragon.”2
The Azure Dragon entered the world, sending the Six Realms into both awe and fear. The atmosphere immediately stilled.
Shao Zi hugged the little white snake and hurriedly squeezed over to Gao Ren’s side. If she didn’t move closer right now, when would there be another chance!?
The Mermen and Dragon Clan slowly came to a pause. Finally, someone asked subserviently: “Esteemed Azure Dragon, is there a reason as to why you are here?”
Azure Dragon swung its tail, curling itself in the sky: “Passing by.”
A chilly breeze swept by…
The corner of Shao Zi’s mouth spasmed. Azure Dragon, you’re one of the the Four Great Mythical Beasts! Should you be saying such insipid words? Shouldn’t your answer be something like “for the sake of world peace”? But…why was his manner of speech so similar to that of Gao Ren?
Translator’s Note: I have to say, I’m quite fond of the random peony-related powers that Yi Mei Tong Qian has come up with for Shao Zi. Literal flower power.
- 視死如歸: Fig. To face death calmly and not be afraid of dying.
- 青龍 // Qing Long: One of the Four Symbols (四象 // Si Xiang). A legendary beast and immortal god, it represents the east and spring season. The Four Symbols are foils to the Four Perils (四凶 // Si Xiong), which Tao Tie (mentioned in 2.06) is a part of.