Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Life is like an arrow being launched across the sky; it starts off strong, penetrating the cold and frost, but is ultimately unable to pierce through the mountains of destiny.
Why was Fate playing Meng Fuyao like that?
'Alright, I'll shoot!' She cast aside all doubt, hesitation, and helplessness. There were things beyond her control, and she must not be weak. She was Meng Fuyao.
The arrow was launched.
It was a fierce launch that carried a significant amount of air flow. The arrow went close to the citizens' hair before going straight up and generating a ferocious gust.
Like light, the arrow moved toward the target at a speed so fast that it was almost invisible to the naked eye. The palm-sized bullseye was already full of the previous 10 arrows, and there seemed not to be any space left, save for the extreme center area that could fit half a pinky finger.
Yet, Meng Fuyao's arrow had arrived in that exact position in a flash.
Everyone's mouth was wide opened. Amid their astonished cries, the arrow suddenly popped out.
They had thought that they would get to see the amazing archer Tie Cheng's disappointed look.
As the spectators were wondering whether to feel upset or relieved, Meng Fuyao's arrow had sprung out and launched backward like a lightning bolt.
The arrow, which had already hit bullseye earlier, was immediately knocked onto the ground by Meng Fuyao's arrow.
"Pop, pop, pop..."
Meng Fuyao's arrow, appearing to have a life of its own, plunged in and out of the target board, causing Tie Cheng's arrows to plop to the ground. In the blink of an eye, all 10 arrows of the latter's were gone, leaving only Meng Fuyao's single arrow sitting in the bullseye.
It was due to the third layer of Cleaving Nine Heavens – Cyclone!
Dead silence filled the air as Meng Fuyao tossed her bow aside and strode back to her seat.
Shortly after, cheers broke out.
Meng Fuyao did not turn around.
"I like it!"
Meng Fuyao paused, but quickly consoled herself. For crude men like them, that was probably just a neutral expression and nothing offensive.
"I must marry you!"
Meng Fuyao whipped her head around, placing her hands on her hips. "Do you have eyes? I'm a man! A man!"
"They said you're a... homosexual!"
'...homosexual? Where did this gossip come from?'
"I won't marry you even if I'm a homosexual," Meng Fuyao growled. "Losers can only work for me."
"No way," Tie Cheng growled even louder. "I liked you the moment I saw you. Now that you've beaten me, I want you more. Men who can't get the things they want aren't real men!"
"I'm not a thing!" Meng Fuyao roared.
"I still want you!"
"Beat me first!"
"I will but accept me first!"
"Don't do that!"
A serious archery competition had turned into a cussing match. The confessor and the confessed fought like cocks – eyes bloodshot and claws vigorously waving about – just short of pouncing onto and biting off each other's throat.
Meng Fuyao lost, as she had no more strength to growl.
Holding her congested throat she slipped back to the stage, waving her hand. "Stop him, stop him!"
The bailiffs and guards raised their pikes to obstruct Tie Cheng from chasing over. Instead of forcing his way through Tie Cheng chose a seat close to hers and sat down, never taking his eyes off her.
Beyond frustrated with nowhere to vent, Meng Fuyao was reminded of the relationship she shared with Yuan Zhaoxu. She couldn't stop herself from sneaking a glance at him and saw that he was still sipping slowly on his drink.
"What peach blossom luck you have, Mayor," he commented smilingly.
"Can't you say something to comfort me?" Meng Fuyao asked unhappily. "It's not the peach blossom I want."
Pricking his brows up he responded, "He did say something quite right."
"Men who can't get what they want aren't real men."
Meng Fuyao went silent. She cleared her throat and settled into her seat, waiting for the selection of ladies to begin.
The selection process wasn't as smooth as the archery competition. Different men were attracted by different ladies and were engaging in heated discussion with flowers in hands. Meng Fuyao was getting sleepy from spectating when someone finally stepped forward to make a report.
Meng Fuyao eagerly turned toward where he pointed and caught sight of a beautiful lady who appeared delicate, her eyelids faint. The way she walked was charming and graceful, and there were an innocence and bashfulness about her facial features. The evening sunset glow shone down onto her face, accenting the tender blush on her face. She was indeed a rare beauty.
The chosen lady, now crowned the goddess of the night's festival, had eligible men approaching from all directions, waiting to ask for her hand in marriage.
Meng Fuyao was all smiles. She had heard that in previous years, the chances of the most excellent archer and the most beautiful lady ending up in marriage had been high. It made sense, of course, and it was almost convention. There was no way this young lady, named Hu Sang, wouldn't pick that silly fellow, Tie Cheng, and there was no way he would reject her as well. When that time came, she would be free.
Meng Fuyao thought happily, failing to notice that the Hu Sang's shy gaze had been drifting onto and off the stage all this while.
The night was falling, and the bonfires were burning strong, the leaping red flames were dancing wildly while adding a layer of gloss to the faces around them. The fragrance of all kinds of meat being roasted above the flames dispersed into the air while oil dripped generously down, producing a non-stop sizzling sound.
Girls wearing complicated floral-designed skirts danced with men in colorful, chest-baring robes, around the fire. Their steps were simple yet joyful and filled with gratitude for the benevolence of their God as they prayed for another year of safety.
Meng Fuyao sat by the fire, gently clapping along to the beat of the music. "Dance music of the ethnic minorities are always so pure and sincere. Hence, extremely touching," she smiled tipsily.
Grabbing his knees and observing the festival unfolding, Yuan Zhaoxu asked, "What is an ethnic minority?"
"Gulp," Meng Fuyao hiccupped, before turning to him and explaining, "A tribe with a small number of members."
"You're always using strange terms, Fuyao," Yuan Zhaoxu noted while reciprocating her gaze. "They don't sound like part of the language that is being used within the 5 Region Continents."
"I invented them," Meng Fuyao boasted shamelessly. "I'm more intelligent and outstanding than most, you see."
"You're always like this..." Yuan Zhaoxu added lightly.
Not hearing it, Meng Fuyao said out of sudden excitement, "Wanna learn my self-choreographed dance? It's really graceful and suitable for you..."
Before she could finish a wave of cheers sounded, as the beautiful Hu Sang held onto a handkerchief while approaching with a shy smile.
Meng Fuyao kept her eyes on Hu Sang as an ominous feeling was arising within her chest.
Hu Sang looked at no one else. Her eyes were dreamy and filled with anticipation as she was walking over to Meng Fuyao's side.
She bowed lightly, before placing the handkerchief into Yuan Zhaoxu's hand.
Earth-shattering roars filled the building. Hu Sang let out a bashful yet blissful smile before reaching her hand toward his.
Her fingers, placed before Yuan Zhaoxu's, were like delicate and jade-like.
Meng Fuyao stared, only feeling her throat dry up. She attempted to swallow her saliva.
She subconsciously swept her gaze across Yuan Zhaoxu's face, which was calm as usual. There was no surprise or shock. In fact, he was smiling.
Before the fire and under the moon and starlit sky, a beautiful man and woman exchanged eye contact. It was an alluring scene, and even the breeze and cheers seemed to slow down for them as the audience watched the couple attentively.
Meng Fuyao looked away. If Yuan Zhaoxu accepted her handkerchief and invited her for a dance, that matter was settled.
'It's... good, right?'
Meng Fuyao sat there, neither appearing warm nor cold, but her fingers were trembling. Her thoughts were all over the place, and a crazy idea popped up. She resisted it, but it coiled around her brain like a devil.
'If he accepts... if he accepts...'
Beside her, Yuan Zhaoxu's gaze brushed across the lady's fingers. Her hand had been out for what seemed like forever, as it felt as though she wouldn't retract it as long as he did not respond.
She let out an awkward expression, the blush on her face making her look a little drunk. There was sparkling light in her slightly droopy eyes, which were also teary from the long wait. With these eyes, she looked almost obsessively at Yuan Zhaoxu, the god-like man whose grace and elegance she had taken a liking to.
Yuan Zhaoxu moved, not to accept her hand but to pick the handkerchief. Everyone's eyes were on his hand, and they were guessing if he would retrieve it or toss it away.
Suddenly, another hand reached out.
"Aye, what a beautiful lady. My brother over here will like you for sure. Don't be shy, Brother, I know what you're thinking. Come, accept it."
It was Meng Fuyao. She swiftly retrieved the handkerchief and casually stuffed it into Yuan Zhaoxu's robe.
The crowd went wild, and Hu Sang's eyes lit up.
Yuan Zhaoxu shuddered. It was the first time this calm man had acted in such a manner. He turned his head toward Meng Fuyao and looked her straight in the eye.
His eyes were blacker than the sky, and Meng Fuyao could almost see dark clouds and lightning bolts above a vast, angry sea with rolling waves.
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