Chapter 43: Return to the City A Year Later!
One year later…
“Yunlan! Come on, smile! Don’t be so grave!” Xuanyuan Meng ran by Gu Yunlan’s side, all smiley. Ever since Gu Yunlan woke up that day, she had changed. Although she still acted the same around Xuanyuan Meng, her smiles had lessened. Very rarely did she get to see her innocent smile. She really cherished the memory from traveling together on the road last year.
Gu Yunlan shot a glance at her, tugged on the backpack, then continued on her way. One year’s time felt like it passed fleetingly. Only when she came in touch with medicinal science did she understand its depths. Especially the Miao Territory’s old Chinese doctor.
“You just can’t think right. Why did you not learn about poison, but rather learned traditional medicine from Old Dame Zhu?” Xuanyuan Meng followed her steps. During this one year, she was forced to stay behind in order to teach her magic and practice asceticism. This woman’s highly retentive memory was rather terrifying. She could learn something after only one look. Afterwards, she would spend days and nights to refine her work. Adding on to her already clear tendons and veins, and how she practiced spirit power before, her rate of improvement was too much!
“If I learned about poison, then I’d have to stay within the mountains and raise the materials. Those things require a lot of storing and maintaining. It would be hard for us to take it away. Plus, the Miao territory has a rule where the art of poison must not be passed down to outsiders, unless the individual marries a native. So, I will only learn medicine, even Master had agreed!” Gu Yunlan used her hand to brush away the twigs in front of her.
The reason Master agreed was more because she had agreed to come back. She would come back when the troubles of her heart were settled. When that time comes, Master would be able to pass down the inheritance to her disciple. She just didn’t think that the Bai Family’s daughter would follow along.
“Ai! Gu Yunlan! I say, why didn’t you guys tell me?” Bai Nightspring followed along breathlessly. Behind her was the unhurried-looking Bai Yiran.
Xuanyuan Meng turned her head to cover her mouth and secretly giggled, “Could it be that if we tell you, you guys will leave? As the humble me climbed up the mountain, you guys somehow caught up!”
“Nightspring, you incompetent troublemaker, take a look at Yunlan! She’s not out of breath, and neither is her breathing in tatters! How great is that!” Bai Yiran looked at Gu Yunlan in admiration, and blinked with his sly phoenix eyes. With a salty expression, he continued, “You’ll probably fall down in exhaustion before getting to the top of the mountain. When the time you can’t hold out any longer comes, you’ll have to return by yourself!”
“Humph! Yunlan, Yunlan, all you guys know is Yunlan. You just wait and see!” Bai Nightspring sped up her steps angrily, ignoring her content, indifferent big brother. She tried hard to catch up with the two people in front. In the year Gu Yunlan stayed in the village, pretty much all of the villagers praised her a lot. Even the serious Old Dame Zhu accepted her as a disciple. This has gone too far. She had stolen what was supposed to be hers.
Heading towards Gu City, the group didn’t walk the original path, but rather climbed over an average height mountain, tightroped a bridge, waded across a deep river, and climbed up cliffs in order to exit the mountain.
Ever since the two people caught up with Gu Yunlan and Xuanyuan Meng, Bai Yiran led the way in front. He and Gu Yunlan walked side by side, with the occasional conversation along the road.
But Xuanyuan Meng and Bai Nightspring were different.
“You see Yunlan and my big brother’s back, how well matched. It’s a couple matched in heaven!” Bai Nightspring nudged Xuanyuan Meng’s shoulder. As long as she matched Gu Yunlan and Big Brother together, she wouldn’t think Gu Yunlan as too dislikable, since she wouldn’t be fighting with her over Mister Xuanyuan Ying.
“It’s not good to covet your friend’s wife! I’ll tell you this, stop dreaming! Yunlan will only be my sister-in-law!” Xuanyuan Meng was unhappy. Didn’t she already decide Yunlan would become be her sister-in-law? How could she become Bai Bightspring’s, instead?
“Humph! My big brother is gentle and kind, yet also handsome and clever. Gu Yunlan would definitely not choose your big brother!” Bai Nightspring was also unhappy and sped up her steps.
“Tch!” Xuanyuan Meng felt really disdainful. As if they were competing, the two suddenly sped past the two walking in front.
Bai Yiran smiled helplessly, “Those two are like bulls, fighting as soon as they see each other! We’ve never been to Gu City. Do you still remember the way there?”
“You’ve never been there, either?” Gu Yunlan looked at the man by her side with slanted eyes. He wore a white traditional robe and a humble pair of cloth shoes on his feet. Matched with his handsome features, there was a light and graceful feeling. Despite it being in the middle of autumn, how could he not feel cold? Wearing all that white, was he not afraid of getting it dirty?
Look at her. Since staying in the village, Gu Yunlan had left her leather boots behind. Wearing them now would have been perfect. On her body, she wore a buttoned jacket, black garments, and skin-tight trousers made by the grannies of the village. Light, yet warm, her entire person looked full of vigor.
“What’s up? Is something wrong?” Noticing her judging him, Bai Yiran immediately looked himself over. Nothing seemed wrong!
“That white color is really easy to get dirty!” Gu Yunlan tossed out before quickening her footsteps.
That can’t be? He glanced at his clothes and thought it was still quite clean. He too, quickened his steps, “If we keep going down the road we are traveling on right now, we will soon reach the back mountains of Lin City, which is next to Gu City. We do not know the road from that point on, we should rent a car from there!”
Gu Yunlan nodded her head. This seemed to be their only option. On their way to the village a year ago, she had pretty much slept the whole time.
The shortcut indeed cut their time on the road. Just as they climbed up the slopes of a small mountain, they found a mountain stream so deep that they could not see the bottom. A metal rope, the thickness of two hands, connected the two sides. Gu Yunlan looked along the metal to the other side, where there was an extremely tall cliff. It was still far off, so they couldn’t see the entire cliff clearly.
On their way there, they had spent a night on the cliff-side. Just that, being on the side with the cliff was entirely different. Could it be that the Miao Territory was surrounded by cliffs?
Gu Yunlan was the first to walk across the metal rope. With her hands gripping the cloth strips on the rope, her feet stepped upon its surface. Using her strength to pull, her entire person was pulled towards the flat top of the cliff. Once she arrived at the side of the cliff, she nimbly leapt onto the flat grounds.
Xuanyuan Meng followed behind. Although Bai Nightspring shrieked out sharply. Xuanyuan Meng didn’t jeer at her. Only when Bai Yiran safely reached the other side did Gu Yunlan lift her head to size up the grounds they rested on.
The ground they stood on had a few meters of flat grounds. Beneath their feet was the deep stream. Lifting her head to look around, she found that there was a jagged cliff, rising a hundred meters in height above. A rope the thickness of four palms dangled down.
“Big Bro! We can’t be climbing that up!” Bai Nightspring’s pupils flashed.
“You’re afraid?” Xuanyuan Meng raised her brows. That screaming just now jolted her ears to a near-deafened state.
“Mengmeng!” Gu Yunlan called to her. She grabbed ahold of the metal rope in front of her and said to Bai Yiran, “We will be on the two sides as Nightspring stays in the middle! If any problems occur, it’ll be easier to help out this way!”
Gu Yunlan sized Bai Nightspring up and down. After a while, she took out a three-meter long rope from her backpack and roped it around her waist. “Yiran, when she can’t hang on any longer, we’ll thread the two ends of the rope around her waist and pull her up!”
Bai Yiran nodded her head. Leaving the middle part for Bai Nightspring, Gu Yunlan and him were on the two sides while Xuanyuan Meng was on Gu Yunlan’s other side. Bai Nightspring and Xuanyuan Meng would go first, once they climb to one-third of the way, the other two would begin climbing.
With the rope in hand, one couldn’t help but admire the slightly sick Bai Nightspring who had no kung fu background. She climbed thirty meters, yet still didn’t let out a sound. The two people were quite fast. By the time they caught up with Bai Nightspring, Xuanyuan Meng had already climbed eighty meters.
Gu Yunlan glanced at Bai Nightspring’s hand; they were bloody and were trembling slightly. Her tears were pooling at the corners of her eyes. Obviously she couldn’t hang on any longer. She immediately used her two feet to wrap the rope underneath to stabilize herself and grabbed onto the rope around Bai Nightspring’s waist, tying it tightly to her waist. When she finished, Bai Yiran had already fastened her properly.
“Nightspring! You can do it!” Bai Yiran looked at her with a face full of ruefulness. This was his first time seeing this girl persisting on.
“Big Bro! It’s alright, I can persist!” Bai Nightspring reached out her hand with difficulty. Her two hands gripped out, her feet stepped upon the cliff as she climbed up another step.
Gu Yunlan’s pupils were like the deep waters. Although this girl was erratic, her temper wasn’t actually bad. She thought for a moment before starting the climb up again.
With two people supporting her, Bai Nightspring was so much more unburdened. She worked hard to persevere. She continued to climb until she reached eighty meters, where she could no longer persevere. A rope dropped down from above her head and a shout from Xuanyuan Meng was heard, “Bai Nightspring! Hang onto this rope, I’ll pull you up!”
Bai Nightspring stared blankly, her tears gushed out as she yelled, “Idiot! I’m really heavy, you can’t pull me up!”
“I’m very strong! Don’t waste anymore time! Hurry up!” Xuanyuan Meng’s voice held a hint of anxiety.
The two people, including Gu Yunlan, glanced at each other. Bai Yiran immediately took up the rope wrapped around his waist and held in in his hand. He retorted intolerably, “Hold onto this rope!”
“It’s okay now, Mengmeng!” Gu Yunlan yelled out loud. Her speed had also quickened; she couldn’t let Mengmeng be the only person spending her strength…
By the time Bai Yiran grabbed ahold of Bai Nightspring below the cliff and pulled her up, everyone was so tired that they laid on the ground.
Bai Yiran smiled bitterly as he looked at his mud-spotted white gown. What Yunlan said was right, it indeed was very easy to get dirty.
“Bai Nightspring! You should lose some weight! You really are very heavy!” While resting, Xuanyuan Meng stood up and walked to Bai Nightspring’s side. She tossed over a bottle, “Sprinkle this on your hand. It heals wounds!”
Bai Nightspring caught it, sat up, and whispered, “Not just losing weight, I also want to learn martial arts. I’m too weak!”
“Pft!” Gu Yunlan finally laughed out loud.
“Gu Yunlan actually smiled, we should climb a bit more later!” Xuanyuan Meng was very excited.
“No way!” The combination of Bai Nightspring’s shrieking and the people’s laughing continued on until after one in the afternoon.
The road down the mountain was very quick. It was already evening by the time they arrived at Lin City. After resting a night in the city, the group rented a car and headed towards Gu City the second day.
On the horse carriage, Gu Yunlan looked at the white tonic suit on her body. The corners of her mouth lifted up. No wonder they wasted so much time…
The carriage wasn’t big, just enough for four people. Gu Yunlan and Bai Yiran sat outside of the carriage.
“Uncle! Just now, I saw a lot of people heading towards the Gu City. Is there some kind of great event occurring in the Gu City?” Bai Yiran had already started to chat with the coachman.
“Is Mister talking about today?” The coachman smiled. “Today really is the day of a happy event!”
“What kind of event? Something that’d even lure people from the neighboring city to rush over?” Xuanyuan Meng asked curiously.
“You guys must have come from outside, right?” The uncle had a happy expression on his face. “Today is the marriage of our general and Gu Marshal’s daughter. It really is such an ideal couple! Our Marshal is also going to hand over the duties of a marshal to the daughter’s husband!”
Gu Yunlan jolted slightly as she furrowed her brows, general and miss? Ideal couple? Father is handing over his position as a marshal? Ah, the timing of her return…
“I heard it is going to be a grand red wedding. Half a year ago, Madam An rose to power, and today she’s marrying off her daughter. It really is a string of happy events. She announced that she would host a banquet anyone could attend!” The coachman continued.
“Yunlan, don’t worry! That general is definitely not Big Brother!” Xuanyuan Meng looked at her with a worried look. Even she wasn’t sure! What if it really was big brother?
“Yunlan, no need to worry! Isn’t there still my brother? My brother is also a dragon within the clouds! He’s a high priest!” Bai Nightspring was also surprised. Who is the general? Mengmeng’s big brother?
“Who would reassure people like that? Shut up!” Bai Yiran swatted away his little sister, breathlessly.
‘“I’m not worried!” Gu Yunlan shook her head and shut her eyes, not saying anything more…
Who knew what she was thinking? By her ear still came the voices of Bai Nightspring and the coachman.