Enduring the Winter

By Jiu Lu Fei Xiang,九鹭非香

Enduring the Winter Chapter 2-3

Enduring the Winter Chapter 2-3

Two

According to the rumors in the jianghu, there was a divine doctor in Luoyang city. He could treat hundreds of illnesses, he could resurrect the dead and elongate lives, and he could save dying people.

When Ren Dong woke up again, she was in a clean house. Her strange surroundings made her get up immediately out of vigilance. When she inadvertently tugged at the wounds on her body, she suddenly remembered why she would be here-

She had proposed… to a scholar.

From what it looked like to her, that scholar must have saved her. Ren Dong touched the tightly bound bandages on her body. In her heart she thought, After I see that scholar again and thank him, I’ll just kill him. If more people knew of her whereabouts, it would be more dangerous, and now, she hated risking her own life the most.

A clatter of footsteps could be heard outside the courtyard, almost as if someone was walking back and forth in the courtyard working. Ren Dong listened for awhile and could hear that the footsteps were heavy and sluggish, which meant that they definitely didn’t belong to someone who knew martial arts. She relaxed and opened the door to go out empty-handed.

Strong rays of sunlight entered the courtyard, so piercing that it made her frown. But then after awhile, she could see clearly.

This ordinary residential courtyard had a lot of medicinal herbs planted in all its nooks and crannies. A man in black was currently crouching at one end, humming a song as he pulled up the herbs in the ground. “Peaches, peaches, peaches peaches, peaches, peaches of demons, demons, demons, demons, brilliant, brilliant… [1]”

[1] Reference to Peach Demon– “brilliant” comes from the Zhuo character used in Ah Zhuo’s name.

When she heard this song, the usually indifferent Ren Dong’s lips twitched. She coughed to get the man’s attention.

“Ah!” The man was so frightened that he sucked in a huge gulp of air and jumped up, falling on the ground. He put his hand on his chest and looked at Ren Dong for a long time before frowning and grumbling, “I’ll say girl, girl. Walking around making sounds is what a living person does. After you die, you won’t be able to make a sound even if you wanted to.”

Ren Dong expressionlessly looked at him, “You saved me?”

The man patted his butt and stood up. With a bit of haughtiness he rose his head, “Besides this noble gentleman who else could have saved you?”

Ren Dong nodded, “Thank you.” She concentrated her power in her fingertips, intending to snap off the man’s neck as soon as he started walking. Then, right when she was about to make a move, the man added, “As long as you take the medicine that I’ll prescribe for you, the crappy poison in your body will be completely eliminated.

The internal energy that was being pushed onto her fingertips immediately dissipated without a trace. The previously indifferent voice now inevitably carried some urgency, “You can get rid of the poison in my body?”

The man laughed, proud of himself, “There is no poison in this world that I can’t eliminate.” Ren Dong’s eyes brightened, and it was difficult for her to conceal the excited motions of her lips. The man continued, “But, while I can get rid of poison, I cannot get rid of gu. The person who gave you the Devouring Core gu must personally get rid of it, otherwise, even if you could communicate with the heavens, no one could save you.”

Ren Dong was startled, and mockingly laughed, “How dare I have extravagants hope of freedom…” The moment she had entered the Nanjiang Shaman Sect, besides being dead, there was no other way for anyone to be free from the sect after they joined. She… had only wanted to continue living and prolong her life a few years.

The man appraised her, his head to one side. Her almost human-like expression had only lasted on her face for a short period of time. She made her face cold again and asked, “Can you get rid of the poison from the Reborn Turtledoves [2]?”

[2] Reborn Turtledoves (往生鸠): 往生 means rebirth/reborn and 鸠 means turtledove, or to gather.

“That poison… I used to know how to, but I don’t know if I can do it anymore. I can try it out- try it out.”

Ren Dong sized him up for a long time, “You’re that legendary divine doctor?”

“Just about.” The man touched his forehead, seemingly pained. “People fear fame just as pigs fear fattening up. I clearly already paid attention to concealing my world-shocking talents, but I was still not careful enough and was found out. What shall I do, what shall I do?”

Ren Dong pressed on the hidden mechanism in her sleeve, and swiftly took out the spring-loaded arrow. Her eyes flashed with coldness as she pointed the arrow at the man’s throat. “I, Nanjiang Shaman Sect emissary, Ren Dong, cordially invite you to go down South, under the orders of the Sect Leader.”

Almost as if he did not see the arrowhead pointed at his neck, that was infused with poison from indigo, the man soliloquized, “Ren Dong? Honeysuckle?” His eyes swept over Ren Dong twice as he laughed, “According to an ancient proverb,

“Crops die from flooding, grass dies early, 

Pomegranates die from freezing, melons die from getting too much sun,

But nothing will affect the honeysuckle.

“As a matter of fact from what I see, I can feel your will to live.”

Ren Dong coldly said, “I cordially invite you to go down South.”

“All right, all right. I never said I wouldn’t go.” The man good-temperedly replied, “If I were you, I wouldn’t treat a physician like this.”

According to custom, he cupped one hand in another, and bowed to Ren Dong in an extremely scholarly manner. Ren Dong quickly put her arrow away, for fear of accidentally poking him. If that happened, there really wouldn’t be anyone who could save the Sect Leader. If the Sect Leader didn’t survive, the Devouring Core gu would be unable to be suppressed by drugs, and when the time came, she would definitely die an extremely miserable death.

“You may call me Gui Yan.”

In the instant that he leaned over, a calming fragrance floated over to the tip of her nose through the air. Ren Dong became absent-minded for a split second, and when she looked up again, she saw the man’s sunny and balmy smiling face as she fainted from the February sunlight.

Three

On the way home, Ren Dong really had the urge to find a place where she could get rid of Gui Yan. She did not understand how God had let this gentleman with morals live independently up until now. After walking for an hour, he needed to rest. When he came across water in a lake, he first needed to boil it and then let it cool before he could drink it. He loved sneaking into remote places to find herbal plants, no matter if he ended up tumbling down a steep hill, or hurting his foot from a trap that some hunters had left behind. When that happened, he would miserably call her for help.

Because of him, Ren Dong went down a lot of pointless roads, but it was also because of the routes they took that the people chasing after her to kill her had decreased significantly.

It was night. Due to Gui Yan’s tarrying again, the two had not been able to reach the approaching village in time and thus could only sleep outdoors in the outskirts of the village.

Ren Dong angrily created a fire, with a roaring blaze, and after she put some more  firewood into the fire, she went off to hunt without saying a word. Gui Yan clasped his hands together and sat next to the fire, rubbing his hands while he shivered. He even sighed and kept harping, “I’m so cold and so hungry. Little flowery flower, you have to hurry back! Otherwise your divine doctor will die, ugh die.”

If you die, fine, Ren Dong thus thought.

When she returned with two wild hares, Gui Yan was sitting cross-legged next to the bonfire, holding a pouch embroidered with orchids as he counted his money, his face a picture of anxiety. When he looked up and saw the slowly returning Ren Dong, he immediately laughed, “Little flowery flower, hurry back and warm up. Tonight is so cold!”

Ren Dong stared blankly, her eyes softening. Someone like this… probably always lived life extremely happily.

She sat down and silently began to skin the hare. Gui Yan started to blabber about how pitiful the little bunny was, going to hell without a heart or lungs. But when Ren Dong finished cooking the hare, he was the one who enjoyed his food the most.

“Little flowery flower, will your Sect Leader give me money for treating him?,” Gui Yan asked. After he was full, Gui Yan sat next to a tree and covered up his little embroidered bag.

“How much do you want?”

“Ten golden taels.”

Ren Dong nodded. When he mentioned this topic, she suddenly remembered the conditions he asked for when he saved her. She glanced at Gui Yan, and saw that he was gazing back at her with a burning gaze. Ren Dong turned around and added more firewood to the fire. “What are you looking at?”

“Little flowery flower, after I help your Sect Leader get better, will we get married?”

Ren Dong’s current heartbeat resembled a Martian explosion. Her lips slightly twitched as she looked back at Gui Yan, “What did you say?”

Gui Yan eagerly rushed over and pitifully looked back at her. “Are you trying to go back on your words? That day you said it yourself! ‘If I save you,  you’ll marry me, and you’ll gift me with ten golden taels’,” He said, “I am a magnanimous person. I won’t ask for my wife’s money, but… but even if I don’t want the money, I still want my wife!”

Ren Dong indifferently turned around, as she fiddled with the fire. “I’ll give you money, twenty golden taels to buy your wife.”

Gui Yan’s eyes swelled up with tears. “Little flowery flower wifey…”

The veins on Ren Dong’s temples began to jump as she resisted the urge to beat him up. Gui Yan walked around her, trying to figure out how she was feeling, which made Ren Dong impatiently pick her hand up to push him over. Who would have thought that the moment Ren Dong lifted her hand, Gui Yan immediately held her hand. “Little flowery flower, your finger has so many little cuts!”

To Ren Dong, she was pretty much already numb to the pain from the cuts on her fingers that had formed from the thistles in their path. She tried to take her hand back, but Gui Yan anticipated her move and forced her finger into his mouth.

The warmth from his soft tongue licked over all of Ren Dong’s wounds on her finger. The ambiguity of their interactions made her face turn red.

“After I suck your wounds a little, your fingers won’t hurt anymore and your wounds will get better faster.”

Ren Dong stood up abruptly, and she hurriedly took two steps back, almost as if he was some sort of fierce beast. “You.. you.”

Gui Yan laughed merrily. “Little flowery flower wifey, don’t be shy~.” Before he could finish, something shiny flashed past his eyes, and his expression slightly sank. He looked up at the stars covering the sky and said, “It is said that on a night when the sky is full of stars, a fantastical medicinal herb will grow by places with water. Let’s go pick a few.”

The topic had changed too quickly, and Ren Dong was a bit slow on the uptake for a moment. After some silence, she said, “This place is about ten li from the nearest river. It’s too far.”

“Ah, I’ve remembered. The antidote from the Reborn Turtledoves poison should require that herb.”

Ren Dong pursed her lips and sighed regretfully. “If I would have known that you would be fooling around with me this entire journey… I would have definitely removed your arm and leg.”

Gui Yan laughed harmlessly, and turned around to extinguish the fire. “Let’s leave a bit sooner. The flowers only bloom for a short while, and if we were to miss it, I don’t know what we could do.”

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