Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
There was a glitch with my post scheduling plugin yesterday so this chapter accidentally went up earlier than intended. But since I hadn’t gone back and edited, I had to bring it back down. Apologies to anyone who came here only to find a broken link!
Chapter 009: The Ninth Time
“Young Miss, you still haven’t gone to rest?” Shu Ying asked softly from behind as she draped a pure white cloak over my shoulders.
Shaking my head, I smiled slightly. I wasn’t sure if it was because Mother’s words today had made me too emotional, but after the natal visit banquet, my thoughts kept wandering to those secret affairs of the past.
I lifted my gaze and glanced towards the horizon, the winter’s moon akin to a hook. I was not sleepy, nor was I willing to stay stifled inside the room. So I stood up and smiled gently at Shu Ying: “I’m going to go for a walk, I’ll be back soon.”
At first, Shu Ying wanted to accompany me, but I stopped her. Night had brought on a cool wind and her body had also been severely injured from falling off the cliff, so she could not tolerate the cold. Moreover, I also needed a moment to myself to sort out these disconcerting thoughts and feelings.
As I strolled along, I looked up and found, in astonishment, that I had unwittingly walked to the entrance of “Feng Ling Night.”
When I first entered the wang fu, Qin An had mentioned it. It seemed that this place was a forbidden area of Third Wang fu.
A faint smile rose on my lips. Did this mean that, at least for tonight, this place could give me the peace of mind I sought after?
Lian once said that although I seemed gentle and dignified, I, after all, once lived under the boundless seas and skies. So the freeness and unconstrained disposition of my heart could not be held back. I could perform complicated etiquette all to flawless perfection, but I would never let those rules truly bind me.
If it were any other day, no matter how curious, I would never enter this maple grove, as it could potentially bring on some unnecessary troubles.
But tonight, the night was late and Nan Cheng Yao was still in the palace. Furthermore, no one else would so easily enter. All of this could certainly offer me an exceptionally good place to settle my thoughts.
I slowly walked into “Feng Ling Night.” There was a gentle evening breeze. In contrast to the exquisite luxury found elsewhere in the wang fu, here was tranquil and quaint, which I truly liked.
However, my lips gradually slipped into a smile of helplessness. After all, human judgement was inferior to Heaven’s Judgement. I sought out tranquility, but in the end, it seemed that I inadverdently brought problems upon myself.
The sounds of footsteps and voices from not too far off gradually came closer. Their vaguely discernible figures indicated to me that I would not be able to slip away quietly. Fortunately, if I could find a place of cover to hide behind, this dense maple grove, coupled with the gloominess of today, could keep me from being easily detected by others. I could wait until there was no longer anyone here, then leave.
Just as I found a hiding spot, I heard a female voice carry over. Her breath sounded unsteady, but its charm was enough to engrave itself into one’s bone’s: “You, this person, wait for me! I’m telling you to stop!”
“You wanted to keep me, so I stayed with you for three days. You obstinately wanted to come to Third Wang fu to take a look, so I went along with what you wanted. Is there something Ruo Mei is still unsatisfied with?”
The speaker had an indolent voice that carried a touch of laughter. It was filled with an indifferent chill and was irresistibly dizzying. Lingering low in the air, each sentence and every word was so alluring that it could tempt a person’s soul away.
The woman complained coquettishly: “So what?! These are all things I sought and obtained myself. If you treated me with the slightest bit of good that I treat you with, why would I be this willful?! It’s not like I lack sense. Do you really not understand your faults?”
The man’s voice was just as languid as before: “If you really do have the sense, then go back. What will happen when he wakes up and doesn’t see you?”
Though it was a question, it lacked even slightest hint of concern.
The woman’s voice was flirtatious and carried a touch of fearlessness: “I put medicine in the soup. He won’t wake up even when daylight comes. Don’t be this cold to me, there’s a certain someone who misses you so much that her heart’s already shattered to pieces,1 but you’re just still so unwilling to enter the palace more often to accompany me…”
Before the woman could finish speaking, she merged into the darkness of the night, her voice completely transforming into one of delicate allure.
My instinct was to stand up and leave. I unwittingly came across someone else’s secrets, and I knew that with a shocking story like this, the less one knew, the better.
The environments in which I’ve lived and all that I’ve ever learned has long since taught me how to first protect myself and my own safety.
Right now, perhaps I could smoothly retreat whilst that man and women were entangled and had no time to bother with other matters.
Agilely, I straightened up, but before I could take a single step, my left shoulder became numb and I could no longer move even a single hair. A small rock had flown through the air, striking my acupoint.
The ring of that man’s low, enchanting voice was well-timed: “So can you go back now?”
It was evident that the woman had yet to recover from the passionate kiss from just now, as she was still murmuring in a low, seductive voice. Yet, without her acquiescence, the man already pulled a jade flute from his bosom and began playing it.
The sounds had yet to finish when a man clad in black with a frigid, stern aura appeared. He stood to the side subserviently and did not speak at all.
“Yue Hui,2 send her back. Also, take back what should be retrieved.”
With these orders of indifference, a gust quickly swept up, then stopped again.
The people who should be leaving must have already left.
The sounds of footsteps gradually approached. Languid yet precise, they moved slowly towards my direction. I quickly understood that he must have been the one that pressed the acupoint on my shoulder.
Under the moonlight, a man in robes of crimson red walked leisurely before me. The handsome face, as divine as a god’s, had a smile plastered on it. But his eyes were as cold as a winter’s star.
The air of nobility surrounding him felt natural and of the highest caliber. In his poise was several degrees of indifference, which added nefarious, or perhaps, a devilishly charming aura to his calmness.
Almost immediately, I recognized his identity.
This dynasty’s third prince, Nan Cheng Yao. My husband, whom I had never met.
I never would have thought that our first meeting would be under such circumstances.
Translator’s Note: Our male lead finally makes an appearance and starts things off with another big oof. It’s as if someone picked up a rock and dropped it on his foot, but then he, for some reason, decided to pick up some more rocks and drop them on his own feed as well. On behalf of Murong Qing, I’d like return Nan Cheng Yao for a full refund, thanks.