Part of a Peony’s Tavern translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 芍藥客棧 by Yi Mei Tong Qian // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Happy June! Anyone else loving these longer days of sunshine as much as I am?
Today’s chapter is one of revelations.
When they returned to the tavern, the sky had not yet brightened. Their two rooms were upstairs, and when the scholar saw Shao Zi looking exhausted, he said: “I’ll open up shop in a moment, you rest and come down when once you wake up.”
Shao Zi tilted her head to look at him and saw that he appeared as per usual, his complexion quite good. She didn’t feel like trying to guess his identity, after all…he should be a good person. She gave a toothy smile: “Innkeeper, I’m realizing that you’ve become more and more reliable.”
The scholar chuckled, taking one step up the stairs, but the tip of his nose twitched and he abruptly pulled Shao Zi behind him.
Shao Zi nearly fell over. After saying he was reliable, he had already begun messing around. She wanted to give him a good scolding, but at the sight of his somber expression, she swallowed her words and called quietly: “Innkeeper…”
The scholar lowered his gaze and looked at her. Before he could say anything to placate her, two indistinct figures appeared at the top of the stairs, their eyes pinned on them like a tiger watching his prey.
Those two people sized him up and down suspiciously, shared a glance, then finally said: “We have some things to ask Miss Demon Flower, please do not interfere.”
The scholar’s lips pursed imperceptibly. So it turns out they didn’t recognize him after all. When he transformed into Gao Ren, his aura must have spilled through and was picked up by them. Seeing that the two people’s spiritual energy was extremely powerful, Shao Zi knew that she’d definitely get beat up if she went over to ask their identities. So she took out her hostess-grade patience and offered a dimpled, blossoming smile: “What would you like to inquire about?”
One asked: “Has someone in blue garb ever passed by before?”
Shao Zi took pause, only now realizing that these two were the ones she saw in the Netherworld that day. She shook her head: “No.”
As soon as she finished speaking, their eyes instantly became as frigid and icy. The hostile energy shook her so much that it left her startled. She hadn’t even felt this level of oppressiveness at Yan Luo Palace back in the Netherworld! Who in the world were these people!? Her legs trembled slightly, shivering the whole time as she moved in front of the scholar. Cold sweat formed on her forehead, her voice stiff: “This has nothing to do with him, come at me instead.”
The person said coldly: “When the aura appeared in this town, you were there. When the aura appeared in the Netherworld, you were there again. Now that the energy’s appeared in this tavern, you are, once again, here. But you actually say that you’ve never seen a blue-garbed patron. A tiny little flower demon has the galls to deceive us! Hurry and tell the truth!”
This time, Shao Zi was sure that the one they spoke of was Gao Ren. But in what way was he as lazy and arrogant as they were claiming? He was obviously an amazingly good person. She wanted to reveal Gao Ren but was scared that, should he really be the person that they were looking for, what would happen if these fiendish-looking demons went to cause trouble for him? She trembled once more, then shook her head resolutely: “I don’t know.”
The frosty energy on the two individuals became even more severe, terrifying Shao Zi so much that she thought she was going to live and die with the tavern. Hostile energy suddenly came forth like an arrow, piercing towards her direction. Though dark like the Netherworld and as fiendish as ghostlings, the move was actually quite fetching. In that brief moment, Shao Zi nearly felt as if she could die in this handsome scene. But just as that idea gave rise, a light breeze gusted by. Like a hundred flowers blooming on a spring day, it easily dissolved away the hostile energy. When she slowly came to, Shao Zi was already in a warm embrace.
She cracked open her eyes, thinking it was the scholar, but the hand she was holding was actually Gao Ren’s.
Gao Ren really came and went as unpredictably as a ghost. He would always save her whenever she was in trouble, ah.
Shao Zi was welling up with emotion, but then she thought, this can’t be right! Just now, she clearly held onto the scholar for fear that he might get kicked into the skies, so how did he turn into Gao Ren!? She stared at him in astonishment, and at this, she finally found that the expressions of these two people were distinctly similar.
The scholar’s eyes were light and gentle as he looked at Shao Zi with a faint smile. He said softly: “With me here, no one can harm you.” Then, he lifted his gaze and looked at those people gathered at the top of the stairs. His expression immediately became blasé. He spat the words: “Kneel down.”
Shao Zi nearly turned to mush in his arms. Lao da! These guys are experts! The experts of experts, ah! Is it really alright for you to act this unbridled? You’ll get hunted down to oblivion!
She quivered as she looked over, but who would’ve expected that those two ridiculously unbridled people…really kneeled! They even held their heads while kneeling!
Shao Zi’s lips twitched and she looked straight at that person with the relaxed expression: “Dumb Scholar, who in the world are you?”
She wanted to hate the scholar. Why did he hide who he was? But when she thought of all those times he saved her, she couldn’t bring herself to conjure up any hatred. Moreover…the scholar and Gao Ren were the same person. How come she felt a quiet sense of comfort? Carefully thinking it over, she felt very guilty: “You have a secret to keep, don’t you?”
The scholar’s heart was a little moved. He once considered that keeping things from her might be unfair, but Shao Zi was still willing to hear his explanation. He nodded lightly: “If I kept presenting myself as Gao Ren, I would get found by them very quickly.”
“Why are you scared of getting found out by them?”
“Because…I secretly came out to…” The scholar paused. The words “look for you” lingered on his lips before sinking away. “Play.”
“…” Shao Zi’s face was full of black lines as she suddenly felt that the scholar was not the slightest bit reliable!
Those two individuals kneeling down watched as the other two people at the bottom of the stairs hugged and cooed sweet nothings to one another, causing their insides to enarly rot. Had they known that this flower demon was under lao da‘s protection, there was no way they would’ve gone and plucked a tiger’s hairs, okay!?
Shao Zi’s eyes stayed pinned on him as she asked seriously: “Tell me your real intentions, alright? I won’t blame you.”
“…” The scholar fell silent for a moment. “I can’t tell you yet. If I say it…you’ll loathe me.”
Shao Zi gave a long click of the tongue. How could she ever hate him!
Those two people said helplessly: “Lao da, the Banquet of the Immortal Realm is about to start. If you don’t attend, those esteemed ones will probably join hands and come out to look for you.”
Shao Zi blinked, still surprised at the words: Banquet of the Immortal Realm. The banquet that, according to legends, was attended by all the great immortals? It seems like she…met a really powerful being! But before she could think any further, she was brought again into his arms in a gentle hug.
“I’ll be back soon. Wait for me.”
Then, he gently left with extreme reluctance. Shao Zi’s heart was beating rapidly as she stared intently at him. Gao Ren was the scholar. The scholar was Gao Ren. This seemed…quite nice. Just as she wanted to say a few more things to him, he suddenly covered his nose and looked away.
He took the initiative to hug Shao Zi! Her body was so soft and warm! And he even looked directly at her for this long, there’s been an improvement!
He instantly felt that life was good.
Seeing him head in the direction of upstairs, she couldn’t help but shout: “Innkeeper, you must hurry back and keep an eye on the tavern with Da Huang!”
The scholar paused and he couldn’t help but turn around and look at her, nodding with a smile.
Once they were further away, the sages asked: “Lao da, who’s Da Huang?”
The scholar drawled out, “The dog that Shao Zi and I are raising,” shocking the two people that they dazedly froze in place, inexplicably wondering, their lao da…has he been replaced by someone else?
After the scholar left, Shao Zi went back to her room to sleep. As she tossed and turned, the more she thought about it, the more she felt that she was screwed. She actually went as far as bullying the scholar time and time again, even complaining that he was too weak and skinny! Then, she thought about Gao Ren’s firm, strong physique…Nope, that wouldn’t do, she was about to start bleeding from the nose! Just go to sleep instead!
When she opened her eyes again and stretched her body, she realized it was bright outside. With a jolt, she opened up the window and looked outside. The sun hung high in the air! She hastily wiped her face and scurried downstairs, but the tavern’s doors were already open and inside was already bustling with noise.
Moneymaking Tree sat at the til, golden and shining with…extravagance! Lady Xin and Pa Pa were serving dishes and shouting orders. In the back kitchen, Azalea was cooking dishes. When she saw Shao Zi, she immediately said: “Ai, Shao Zi, take these dishes out. Moneymaking ge is indeed the golden ingot of the demon world. He really attracts fortune. In the future, just tie him to the front door.”
Shao Zi received the plate and nuzzled her cheek against Azalea: “You guys are the best.”
“Well, this is Grandpa’s tavern after all.”
Shao Zi cheerfully ran to the front and served the dishes, then came across a fat silhouette hidden in the corner. Head buried in a piece of meat, he looked quite familiar. When she finally got a good look, she couldn’t help but burst into anger: “Bottle Gourd ge! If you don’t help, so be it, but you keep eating things! You don’t believe I’ll hit you, ya?”
Fat Bottle Gourd made a “hmph“: “Go ahead, hit me ya, everyone in the store is looking.”
Pa Pa ran over and explained: “Lao da, Bottle Gourd ge just carried back five bags of rice and thirty jin of vegetables. He nearly fainted from hunger after running all about.”
Shao Zi instantly turned sweet and affable, patting his head: “Not bad, eh, it’s been tough.”
Fat Bottle Gourd: “…”
Upon closing that night, Shao Zi counted the money in the till with glee, then went back to the flowerbed for a wonderful night of sleep.