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The Dragon

The Dragon By Dec 08, 2023 4 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 102

Chapter 103

As she looked around, her eyes landed on the jade zither lying horizontally nearby. Behind her, a bookshelf stood quietly, while the sound of boiling water came from the kettle on the stove, steam billowing out. Rain tapped gently outside, the bamboo curtain swaying in the breeze that carried the fresh, damp scent of rain into the room. The surroundings felt familiar, yet there was an elusive quality to it, as if shrouded by a thin veil, making it difficult to precisely identify the location.

“How long are you going to keep holding onto me?”

Gu Fuyou released her grip. Zhong Michu withdrew her arm, touched it, and the emerged dragon scales disappeared.

Gu Fuyou quietly watched her movements, silent for a long while, then asked, “Where is this?”

This wasn’t a dream.

“Xuan Miao Sect.” Zhong Michu responded calmly, without elaborating further.

Gu Fuyou frowned, having no memory of the place, “How did I end up here?”

She couldn’t remember the long journey from the Thirty-Three Skies to Xuan Miao Sect, nor did she have any intention of coming here.

It wasn’t possible that she had gone mad, doing something and then completely forgetting about it.

Zhong Michu remained silent. Gu Fuyou rubbed her temples. Her mind was still blank. No matter how hard she tried to recall, she came up with nothing, leaving her feeling dejected, deciding not to dwell on it further.

Her gaze naturally shifted towards Zhong Michu. With her eyes lowered in concentration, Zhong Michu was carefully arranging the books that had fallen earlier. A subtle trace of fatigue lingered in her eyes and brows, adding a hint of vulnerability to her demeanor. As she bent over to tend to the books, her posture resembled a white magnolia gracefully bending under the force of wind and rain.

Meeting like this, outside of a dream, was inevitably awkward.

The events of that day continued to loom large in her mind, proving difficult to forget. She felt a mix of anger and pain, which left her feeling restless. Although she wanted to move past it, there was a stubborn part of her that felt as if mentioning it first would be like admitting defeat.

“Did I say anything when I came to find you?”

Zhong Michu replied, “Not yet. Maybe you have something you want to say to me now?”

“Does it hurt?” She couldn’t think of anything better to say.

“…” Zhong Michu looked slightly surprised, pausing with the book in her hand.

“I thought I was in a dream…”

Zhong Michu had assumed Gu Fuyou was referring to the events of that day. Those words had been deeply painful, and she was still struggling to recover. Although Gu Fuyou’s question was just an inquiry, it felt like a gentle caress on a wound. Unfortunately, Gu Fuyou was actually referring to the recent bite.

Zhong Michu sighed softly, her tone carrying a hint of reproach, “Gu Fuyou, you didn’t need to say that last part.”

Gu Fuyou was momentarily stunned. Ever since their time in Wantong City, Zhong Michu had always called her “Ah Man”. She had grown used to it.

Suddenly being addressed as Gu Fuyou felt unfamiliar, distant, and indifferent.

She felt a deep sense of loss.

Clearly she was the one who had said “Ah Man is dead,” so why did she also feel so upset?

Ah, Zhong Michu was really petty when holding a grudge.

Gu Fuyou held her head in frustration. She estimated rightly that getting involved with Zhong Michu was like stepping into a quagmire—the deeper she sank, the harder it was to free herself.

With others, she could clearly distinguish love from hate, and seeking revenge when wronged.

But with Zhong Michu, it was never that simple. They were like two clay figures shattered and reassembled together, intertwined in each other’s existence. Their pains were shared, hurting each other was like inflicting wounds upon themselves.

Hurting her was also hurting herself.

The pain was truly immense.

It felt irreparable.

The more Gu Fuyou thought, the more depressed she became, especially on this gloomy rainy day. Despite the chill in the room, she felt an unbearable heat throughout her body and a severe headache.

Her green eyes gradually turned a fierce crimson.

“Zhong Michu,” Gu Fuyou murmured, “Can you say something nice?”

Zhong Michu thought Gu Fuyou was referring to her previous statement, so she asked, “What should I say?”

She didn’t realize that Gu Fuyou’s thoughts were scattered, with no connection between her words.

Gu Fuyou said spiritedly, “You should say—’Well done! It was a good kill!'”

Only then did Zhong Michu realize she was referring to their dispute in the Thirty Three Skies.

A rush of mixed feelings surged in Zhong Michu’s heart. However, at that moment, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the book spread out in front of Gu Fuyou. Panicking and without time to respond, she quickly grabbed the book.

During their conversation, Gu Fuyou had bumped into the bookcase. The tea that Zhong Michu had previously served to Qing Jun was set to the side and had been knocked over, soaking the pages of the book.

Zhong Michu pursed her lips and frowned, carefully inspecting the book. Fortunately, the ink hadn’t been smudged by the spill. She used her fingertip to draw the tea out of the book. A small stream of water swirling around her finger.

Gu Fuyou was particularly displeased to see Zhong Michu so concerned about a book while seemingly ignoring her.

The annoyance building within her suddenly dissipated. Leaning over the desk, she was startled to recognize the book and asked, “Isn’t this the book I transcribed for you?”

Gu Fuyou was leaning close to the desk, her face mere inches from Zhong Michu. When Zhong Michu turned around, they almost bumped heads. Zhong Michu’s eyebrows furrowed, giving her a serious look.

Gu Fuyou pursed her lips, looking somewhat sheepish, even with her glaring blood-red eyes.

“Is it?” Gu Fuyou asked softly.

Zhong Michu gazed at her for a long moment before replying, “Yes.”

Something else came to Gu Fuyou’s mind, making her feel awkward. “I remember adding a few notes to it later on, didn’t I?”

“Yes.”

Blushing, Gu Fuyou admitted, “You saw them.”

Zhong Michu closed the book and placed it on her lap. She struggled to find words, knowing her voice would betray her feelings. After a long pause, she managed a muffled, “Mm-hmm.”

Gu Fuyou was oblivious to Zhong Michu’s discomfort. Suddenly, she remembered where she was: Gushen Peak, in Zhong Michu’s study. Everything looked just as she remembered. She glanced outside at the courtyard wall, which she had climbed over countless times.

It was here that she had stained the original copy of “New Interpretations of Array Formations,” leading to her transcribing a new copy for Zhong Michu. The joy of gifting a cherished book to a dear friend, that happy feeling, was still palpable. The additional notes she later added revived a deep sense of embarrassment within her. It felt like looking back on the foolish things she did in her youth and realizing how childish they were.

Gu Fuyou thought there was so much they could talk about, so much they could do: “Zhong Michu, we shouldn’t argue over the Zuo family. They are not worth our quarrel.”

Zhong Michu replied somberly, “I wasn’t arguing with you, and it wasn’t about the Zuo family.”

Gu Fuyou felt a tightening in her heart, understanding the deeper meaning in Zhong Michu’s words. She could naturally associate them with the “old Gu Fuyou,” but perhaps being away from the Thirty-Three Skies, from the bloodshed and combat, and now in this tranquil study filled with the scent of tea and books, with the soothing sound of rain outside, she didn’t react with the same anger and agitation as before, “Zhong Michu, your words always hurt me.”

Zhong Michu let out a soft chuckle.

“Why are you laughing?”

“You just said what I always say.”

She didn’t like Zhong Michu’s laughter; it caused a dull pain in her heart.

She moved across the desk and embraced Zhong Michu from behind. “Zhong Michu, please forgive me.”

She rested her forehead against the back of her neck, saying, “I was confused by anger that day and said those things. You really make it impossible for me.”

Zhong Michu placed her right hand over the hands that were wrapped around her waist and whispered, “The things I said don’t have to define the outcome. The final decision is always yours. You were angry because deep down, you felt there was truth in my words, putting you in a dilemma. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been so troubled. You could have brushed off that day’s events and still executed those people.”

Gu Fuyou’s gaze darkened, her arms tightening around Zhong Michu’s slender waist, holding her close, as if it wasn’t close enough, “Zhong Michu, I get angry because of you. Only your words carry such weight, pressing on my heart.”

“Mm…” Zhong Michu grunted softly, as Gu Fuyou’s grip was a bit too strong.

Gu Fuyou loosened her grip slightly, ” Let’s not talk about the Zuo family again. Aside from that, I’ll agree to anything you ask.”

“Alright,” Zhong Michu agreed readily. Perhaps she understood that it wasn’t her place to delve too deep into the matters of the Zuo family, or maybe she realized that the Zuo family issues would always stand between them and only Gu Fuyou could find a way through.

Zhong Michu moved Gu Fuyou’s arms from around her waist and turned to face her. Still kneeling, with the book on her lap, she gently placed one hand on the book and the other on Gu Fuyou’s cheek.

Her cool fingertips, rough with scars, touched Gu Fuyou’s skin, an oddly intoxicating sensation.

Zhong Michu said, “I won’t interfere with how you deal with the Zuo family.”

Gu Fuyou, visibly relieved, held Zhong Michu’s wrist, drawing her face closer to the hand.

“But you have to promise me one thing.”

“Say it,” Gu Fuyou’s crimson eyes sparkled with excitement, ready to quickly agree to make Zhong Michu happy.

“With Nanzhou leaderless, you now control the Thirty-Three Skies and have thousands of slaves under you. With Xiao Zhongting’s support and your defeat of the Zuo family, you’re the main force. The major families that were vassals to the Zuo family will likely support you…”

Gu Fuyou seemed dismissive, “After being oppressed for so long, they would hardly want another ruler. They would rather rule independently than have another Zuo family.”

Zhong Michu shook her head, “The traditions of the cultivation world have been entrenched for thousands of years; they can’t change overnight. They need a leader. Even if you don’t take charge, Nanzhou will be fragmented, and the other three territories will take advantage of this to annex or have them willingly join, leading to Nanzhou being devoured. History has a way of repeating itself.”

“I’m not cut out to be a leader.”

“You have Scholar Zhai, you have Feng Sui, and you have me. Don’t you want to turn the whole of Nanzhou into the carefree city it once was?”

After a prolonged silence, Gu Fuyou asked, “Zhong Michu, what exactly do you want me to promise?”

“Before making a decision, think of your elder brother and father. How would they have handled it?” Zhong Michu gazed into Gu Fuyou’s eyes.

Gu Fuyou paused, then with realization, exclaimed in frustration, “In the end, you still want me to show mercy!”

She angrily pulled the hand by her face and bit down on the flesh beneath the thumb. That indented spot near the base of the thumb, where the Dragon Clan’s palm has no scales, she exerted all her strength.

Zhong Michu remained calm, her other hand gently stroking Gu Fuyou’s cheek, sighing softly, “Do you realize what you resemble now?”

Gu Fuyou, tasting blood, hurriedly released her bite. Her red eyes glared at Zhong Michu, unwilling to compromise, huffing, “What?”

“A wounded wolf.”

Gu Fuyou said in exasperation, “I wish I were a wolf!”

Then, I could have torn you apart without any guilt!

After taking a couple of deep breaths, she thought better of it, realizing she wouldn’t truly want to harm her.

She could feel her murderous intent growing, especially in moments of irritation when she simply wished to eliminate the source of her annoyance for peace. However, she felt thankful that even when she was mad at Zhong Michu, she didn’t feel the desire to kill her.

Still…

She looked at the wound on Zhong Michu’s palm, wondering how long her different feelings for Zhong Michu would last.

She took Zhong Michu’s hand, examining the deep purple bruise under her thumb, oozing red from the bite. She touched it gently, asking, “Does it hurt?”

“It hurts.”

Fingers are connected to the heart, “Hmph, you should hurt more!”

Gu Fuyou stood up and walked out, pulling aside the bamboo curtain to find Scholar Zhai and Yi’er sneaking away.

“Scholar Zhai!” Gu Fuyou called out sharply.

Scholar Zhai turned around, clearly nervous, and forced a smile. “What’s the matter?” She had intended to leave, but couldn’t quite bring herself to do so, eventually turning back.

“Head back to the mansion!” She said it loudly, seemingly on purpose for someone else to hear.

“But we just arrived…”

“If you want to stay the night, then stay.”

Ignoring the rain swirling around the mountain, Gu Fuyou didn’t care and just walked straight into the rain.

Scholar Zhai called out, “Hey, wait! There’s no exit that way…”

Before she could finish, she watched Gu Fuyou deftly leap over the white wall of the courtyard.

“…”

Zhong Michu also lifted the curtain and stepped out, “Scholar Zhai.”

Scholar Zhai, pointing towards the wall, said, “She just…”

Zhong Michu interrupted, “Scholar Zhai, thank you for your concern. If she shows any unusual behavior, please inform me.”

Zhai Xueshin muttered, “She was already quite unusual before she arrived.”

“Aren’t you going back with her?”

“In a few days.”

Scholar Zhai heaved a sigh of frustration, bid her farewell, and headed out the front door to chase after Gu Fuyou.

Yi’er came over and held Zhong Michu’s hand, complaining about Gu Fuyou’s behavior, “Mother, when we were coming here, Ah Man Mother glared at me. Did you argue with her? Is she angry and that’s why she behaved like that?”

Zhong Michu thought to herself that even if Gu Fuyou was angry, she wouldn’t treat Yi’er like this; it must have been Qing Jun. But she simply nodded in agreement with Yi’er, saying, “Mm-hmm.”

“Then you should make up with her soon.”

From outside the study, footsteps were heard. Dongli, carrying a bamboo basket, approached with a smile, “I just came by and saw that mortal leaving the mountain with Junior Sister Gu. They haven’t been here long. Why did they leave so soon?”

Scholar Zhai and Yi’er hadn’t eaten, so she came to Gushen Peak to bring some food. On her way up the mountain, she saw the Azure Phoenix flying, and then Scholar Zhai hurrying down the mountain, shouting to the sky, “Gu Fuyou, you damned fool, wait for me!”

Holding Yi’er’s hand, with her bitten hand holding a book, Zhong Michu replied, “Once people wake up, they naturally leave.”

“Did you make up with her?”

Zhong Michu did not respond.

Dongli spoke gently, “You were so worried and hurt for her back then. Now that you have another chance, it’s really not easy. You should cherish it more.”

Zhong Michu gazed at the white wall, the wind flipping the pages of the book noisily.

She could faintly see the scribbles on the page, aggressive and bold, as the wind kept the book open to that particular page.

Above the page header, Dragons and Phoenixes danced, with the inscription — “Gu Fuyou was here.”

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Previous: Chapter 102

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Shakthivel
Shakthivel
7 months ago

Thanks for the chapter…

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

What a bittersweet resolution to volume 2 🙂
The characterization in this story is crazy, crazy good 😊 what a delight to read. Thank you translator for enabling us to read this story.

iamagiantcat
iamagiantcat
2 months ago

Gu fuyou was here 😭

Hatimo
Hatimo
26 days ago

Damn they didn’t resolve anything yet. This is such a slow burn alright.
I hope Fuyou can keep her murderous intent in check. When will Fuyou and michu finally together 😭