Chapter 461 - The Hou Liao People ChouFleur's Thoughts

Bone Painting Coroner

Although Mu Jin was a scholarly young woman, she wasn’t at all arrogant. No matter who they were, friends and drinking buddies could be made if their fates aligned! In other words, she was an extremely pleasant and likeable young lady.

Mu Jin said, “Although Li Liang isn’t my favourite literary figure, I agree that his writing style is the most ethereal. The verses I love the most from his works are: ‘Looking upon the snow-white bamboo under the Xilong moonlight, Discovering that Death is but like the summer’s dew’. But if you consider their literary expression, Li Liang was nowhere near as good as Zhu Mohan; he’s a legend among legends. His poems were always well-balanced in phrasing and meaning - simply flawless! I always feel refreshed when I read his poems, relishing them for much longer than any other!” She was nearly giddy just by thinking about his works.

Jing Rong concurred, “That’s right - Zhu Mohan was a true legend. He recorded all of his works in his ‘Travel Log’, each one unique from the one before. But, have you ever heard this saying? ‘Hanmo cannot compare to Dong Su, Old Su looks up to Su Gong, Talented Gong was taught by Qu Shen, and Shen Zi but mimics what he has heard’.” [1. “翰墨不如董素,素老攀望苏工,工才拜闻屈申,而屈子嘛,又相仿实闻”. These are fictional poets. Hanmo refers to Zhu Hanmo (quoted by Mu Jin above). Old Su is Dong Su, Talented Gong is Su Gong, and Shen Zi is Dong Shen. Each line takes the last word of the previous line and continues.]

“I have indeed, but very few others can say the same... Actually, if we were to delve deeper into their literary talents, you can’t say one’s better than the other.” Mu Jin and Jing Rong raised their glasses in a toast; neither of them had had such an enjoyable conversation in a long time. Why couldn’t they have met earlier? 

With her limited knowledge of the arts, Ji Yunshu wouldn’t be able to contribute to their conversation unless it somehow turned to analyzing human bones. In contrast, the whip-wielding woman did not hide her derisive snorts. “Hey, hey, hey, are the rest of us here dead to you? What’s wrong with you two, waxing lyrical about poems when there’s wine here to be had. Party-poopers.” She quickly downed another mouthful of wine.

Mo Ruo had never met someone who drank like this woman. He chuckled, “What’s your name, young lady?”

She shot him a wary glance, offering up only two words, “Tang Si.”

“Tang Si? Huh, your name’s much more elegant than your actions.”

“This young miss likes riding and shooting arrows, munching meat with my mouth open, chugging my wine by the jar. Women, especially those like myself, are not suited for that oppressed, ‘young lady’ life!”

“Looking at the way you dress and drink, you must be a nomad, no?”

Tang Si scoffed, “A quack’s a quack; I enjoy riding and archery, but which part of me reminds you of those barbaric nomads?”

“Oh? Where are you from, then?”

Her eyes swept over the people at the table before remarking mockingly, “Look at you lot; you call yourselves scholars and warriors, but where are your brains? It seems like this young miss has thought too highly of this bunch.”

Wei Yi suddenly exclaimed innocently, still holding his pumpkin lantern in his hand, “I know! You’re a monkey from Huaguo Mountain! Shu’er once told me that those monkeys dress exactly as you do!”

“What did you say?” Tang Si exploded, “You dare call me a monkey?”

Ji Yunshu immediately grabbed Wei Yi in warning, indicating for him to keep quiet. She smiled courteously. “The young miss misunderstands; he didn’t call you a monkey, but a Hou Liao native.” [2. Monkey is ‘Hou Zi’ in Mandarin, whose first character sounds similar to the first character of ‘Hou Liao’.]

Tang Si’s eyes widened in surprise, “How did you know?” She was indeed, as Ji Yunshu inferred, a Hou Liao native.

“It’s actually very simple. I guessed as much from the way the young miss wielded your whip, as well as from your whip’s design.”

Tang Si looked down subconsciously at the silver whip wrapped around her waist in amazement and curiosity. “Go on.”

Ji Yunshu obliged, “Although the Hou Liao people are now known as nomads living along the Great Lin’s border, they were still part of the Central Plains a few decades ago. As such, they still share many customs with the Central Plains. Things like venerating dragons as symbols of the heavens. In order to do so, they need to offer authentic incense and slap their whips across the ground to mimic the firecrackers used in prayer. No matter how they are used, however, there is a specific process which their people follow. The first move must always be hitting the whip against the floor. The young miss’ first lash was clearly aimed away from Mo Ruo on purpose - this practice is one handed down from generation to generation amongst the Hou Liao people. Moreover, the silver thread around your whip was manufactured from twisted silver, commonly known as round silver thread. This particular type of thread is only produced in Hou Liao. The most crucial point, of course, is the way the young miss has wrapped your whip around your waist, something only the Hou Liao people would do.” She said each word with absolute conviction.

As Ji Yunshu spoke, attention was drawn to the silver whip around Tang Si’s waist. Hmm, it seems like she’s correct!

Tang Si’s jaw dropped for a moment before heaping praise upon Ji Yunshu. “That’s amazing! It seems that there are talents in the Great Lin after all!” She circled around the table before her as she exclaimed, claiming the seat next to Ji Yunshu, and pouring out two bowls of wine. She handed Ji Yunshu one of them. “Here, let me give you a toast!”

Ji Yunshu laughed, pushing it away, “This one doesn’t drink.”

“Come on, cooperate with me!”

“As all of our organs are connected, alcohol will not only harm the body but also the brain. This one stays away from wine, all for a few more years to live.”

Tang Si did not make things difficult for her. If she wouldn’t drink, there’d be no use forcing her. She pushed Ji Yunshu’s bowl towards Mo Ruo instead. “Since she won’t have it, you can.”

Wine was the only thing Mo Ruo would never reject; he picked it up and downed it in one shot.

Tang Si stared straight at Ji Yunshu with heart eyes full of respect. She bit her lower lip, “Men of the Great Lin don’t look half bad, and they’re smart too.” She twirled her long, slender finger around Ji Yunshu’s wide sleeves.

Yes, she, Ji Yunshu, was being seduced by a woman! Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Jing Rong and Mo Ruo smirking to themselves. Ji Yunshu was speechless at this turn of events. She twisted her body away in discomfort.

Just then, Mu Jin spoke. “Young Master Jing’s friends are all talented in their own rights and are masters of the sword and pen. This one can’t believe that they could even figure out that Miss Tang Si is a Hou Liao native!”

Ji Yunshu remarked in a self-deprecating manner, “The young miss misunderstands; this one is useless at martial arts. This one is no more than a floundering poor scholar, fond of unpopular and weird tomes!” She waved a hand away.

“The young master’s being humble.”

“This one isn’t as humble as you say. In comparison to the young miss, this one is severely lacking in many ways; not only is the young miss well-versed in the classics, but you also know how to fend for yourself. This one is merely bluffing my way through.”

Mu Jin spoke, a demure smile hanging on her lips, “The young master jokes; all this one can do is flick a few rocks. This one employed a teacher many years ago to teach me the art of the slingshot as a form of self-defence.”

Wei Yi was interested. “What’s the art of the slingshot?”

“You use a catapult to shoot down birds, is all.” Jing Rong answered with a straight face as he continued downing shots with Mo Ruo.

Besides Wei Yi, they almost all bought his lie. Then the former turned to Mu Jin excitedly, “Then, could you teach me how to use it?”

Mu Jin had noticed that Wei Yi was not quite the same as the others, but she did not point it out. She replied gently, “Of course.”

Tang Si, on the other hand, was a straight-talker; She had difficulty keeping her comments to herself, shooting Wei Yi a dismissive glance before remarking, “He’s an idiot, isn’t he.”

The atmosphere grew heavy, as did Ji Yunshu’s expression. She held Wei Yi’s hand, asking, “Didn’t you want to see the lanterns? Let’s go release some at the riverside.”

Wei Yi was hurt by Tang Si’s remark, but he still nodded his head at Ji Yunshu. Hand in hand, the two of them left their seats!

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Two interesting new ladies...

Translator: Tzegeek, Editor: Lunarlark