by Qing Lu
Translated by Grenn
Chapter 27 – Hot Spring Garden (2)
The tree leaves rustled as the wind blew through them. From time to time, the soothing murmured of water could be heard. The air was filled with the faint smell of a damped forest and a faint mist could be seen rising and permeating the surrounding. It made one feel very comfortable. Since it was springtime, the vegetation was flourishing and everywhere was covered by a carpet of green. Zhuo Qing took a deep breath. ‘This is truly a very good quiet place with an elegant wooden house, plain and simple.’ The separate courtyard was also arrange in a unique way. Everything was entirely made of wood without any brick or roof tile. She liked this kind of style.
When she heard that behind every courtyard there was a path that led to the hot spring, her heart was moved. Up until now, she didn’t even have a ghost of a time to properly enjoy herself. She tore the silk curtain from the bed and wrap it around her neck like a towel. Then, she looked at Lou Xiwu, who didn’t stop walking to and fro after she entered the cottage, with amusement.
If Lou Xiwu didn’t need to confess, she wouldn’t be this nervous. Zhuo Qing pushed open the doors to the backyard. As she was about to walk out, her face slowly stretched into a smile. “I’m going to soak in the hot spring. If you hadn’t confess by the time I return, it will my turn to do so.”
Lou Xiwu raised her head suddenly and stared at Zhuo Qing’s back. She almost shrieked, “Don’t even think about it!”
Zhuo Qing turned around and swept Lou Xiwu’s red face with a glance full of provocation. She haughtily replied, “Then, take care.” Sometimes, appropriate incentives were more effective than encouragements.
As she looked at Zhuo Qing carefree back, Lou Xiwu would like to kill Zhuo Qing with just her glare. The corner of Zhuo Qing’s mouth lightly perked. Her mood was cheerful as she walked down the path toward the hot spring.
The winding path made of bluestone was surrounded on each side by all kinds of flowers and trees. As the sunset casted it warm light on the mist and the fragrance of flowers wafted through the air, Zhuo Qing’s steps were lighthearted. After avoiding several big rocks, the sight of a hot spring appeared in front of her. Small mountains of stones surrounded the hot spring which was already beautiful and secluded, making it more intimate. Zhuo Qing was very satisfied.
The hot spring, surrounded by stones, wasn’t deep. If there was a full moon, the full moon would be reflected into the water. However, the Moon’s reflection would not be complete as half of the reflection would be blurred when looking from each side of the small mountains of stones separating the hot spring in two. It was very well construct. Zhuo Qing took off her clothes and wrapped her body with the silk towel she brought. Then, she used her foot to test the temperature of the water and it just happened to be at the right temperature. She looked around, then, decided she wouldn’t take off her towel in the end and directly entered the hot spring.
The warm water’s ripples caressed her body. As the mist surrounded her and the fragrance of flower wafted around, bird were gently chirping and the setting sun seemed like a ball of flame. Nothing could be better than watching the sunset like this. Everything was perfect.
Zhuo Qing longly sighed with comfort and slowly closed her eyes…
“Aaah~ As expected, it’s very comfortable.” Suddenly, a deep and indolent male voice could be heard and it seemed quite close.
“Who’s there?!” Zhuo Qing opened her eyes suddenly. She swept her surroundings with great alarm.
She heard the murmurs of the spring water and saw the flourishing trees, but, except for her, she saw no one else.
She frowned. Could it be she was too weary and hallucinate?
Just when she was puzzled, once again, the male voice reverbed for a long time. “If I had known earlier, every year, I would have come here for a few days to self-cultivate.”
‘This voice…’ Zhuo Qing was fuming with rage between gritted teeth. “Lou-Xi-Yan!!”
“What a coincidence.” The male voice pretended to be surprised. The voice came from behind the mountains of stones separating the full moon hot spring into two.
Unexpectedly, Lou Xiyan was the other person who soaked in the hot spring. ‘Since when did he arrive?’ She didn’t find out about that point, but she supposed he had arrive at an earlier time. Then, a moment ago when she was undressing…
While Zhuo Qing’s heart was palpitating from anger, Lou Xiyan clear and crude voice echoed once again, “Be at ease, indecent peeping and taking advantage of someone precarious position aren’t the sort of thing that I, Lou Xiyan, will do.”
Zhuo Qing leaned her back on the mountain of stones. She believed Lou Xiyan shouldn’t be that kind of person and the most important point was the distance between each mountains of stones was too small. Furthermore, when they were in the water, they couldn’t be seen by the other. If it wasn’t the case, she would have been completely seen by him when she was standing there undressing! At least, she still had the white silk fabric wrapped around her body and wasn’t really naked. Besides, when she was in Japan, she already bathed in a mixed hot spring, so what was there to be afraid now?!
As she soaked for a while, she only heard the sound of the water gurgling from the other side, Lou Xiyan hadn’t say anything again. She softly said, “Your body is not fit to soak in a hot spring. You will easily fall ill. It’s better if you return earlier.” If he left faster, she will be able to get out of the hot spring. She had soak for a long time and was starting to have difficulty breathing.
After a long time, she almost thought he had left already, but Lou Xiyan’s deep voice echoed once again, “Do you know what my illness is?”
‘Ah! He’s still here!’ Zhuo Qing readjusted the white cloth that was wrapped around her upper body and sat up. She indifferently replied, “It should be asthma, a respiratory ailment.” The circumstances pertaining the onset of his illness was very similar to asthma. Since she didn’t do his physical examination, she was not completely certain.
In actuality, Lou Xiyan didn’t soak in the hot spring, he was only sitting on the border made of stone with his feet soaking in the water. When he heard Zhuo Qing’s words, he continued to make ripples in the water with his hand for a moment before he asked with a strong desire, “Can you cure it?”
“I can’t. From what I heard, I know a few methods to prevent it.” She only studied forensics sciences, ok?!
A trace of disappointment flashed through Lou Xiyan’s eyes and was quickly replaced by a hard to decipher expression. He continued to gently stir the water which caused a gurgling sound. He lightly laughed, “Qing’er is really experienced and knowledgeable.”
Zhuo Qing blanked and shouted oddly, “What are you calling me?! ‘Qing’er?’ I’m still a pure maiden!”
“You don’t like it?” He pretended to ponder for a moment and lightly called her, “Then, calling you… Feng’er should be good.”
‘Feng’er…’ She was quickly becoming insane…
‘These people from ancient times can’t they leave out the ‘er’ out of people’s name?!’ “Call me Qing Feng!” Zhuo Qing was practically yelling with exasperation.
Lou Xiyan was smiling with satisfaction and his mood was starting to improve for the better. He continued speaking, “Feng’er, are you more used to here now compare to when you arrived to Qiong Yue from Hao Yue? I heard that Feng’er is versed in composing songs and poems and your singing and dancing are on par to masters. If you need anything, you can order the servants to prepare it.”
From the other side, Zhuo Qing was rolling her eyes. She was completely ignorant about composing songs and poems and her dancing and singing were impassable. Lou Xiyan was clearly not holding against her for yelling back at him. Zhuo Qing also bluntly replied, “People cannot be trusted. I heard everyone praised that Chancellor Lou is cultured, refined, upright and a modest nobleman. Right now, my thoughts are completely overturn. You seem more like a rogue.”
‘A rogue?’ Lou Xiyan lightly raised his eyebrows as a crafty smile streaked across his face. ‘Alright.’ Then, he would let her see what a real rogue was…