The lady adorned in red plays music at treasure pavilion pagoda, the scholar recites and walks near the beautiful bridge of flowing water.1
Bian City was the Great Liang Dynasty’s capital. Her magnificent, classical beauty made Su Xing, who was used to seeing modernized cities, and then seeing city-states with such rich history, unbearably shook up for a bit.
Richly decorated dwellings and pavilion chambers were everywhere. When he was looking down from the Wind Swayed Raft in the sky, red walls and green willows, flying smoke thin as cotton, and an imperial palace of gold, jade and colored glass was just like a gigantic, entrenched dragon. Imposing and majestic, it was worthy of the name of Liangshan Continent’s number one dynasty.
As for the current emperor, Liang Huizong,2 he was also a legendary character. His Mother Empress was a royal consort, and the time when Liang Huizong was born was the moment the internal palace underwent a power struggle. When he was born, he was met with an assassination, and his mother died for him. Liang Huizong was rescued from the imperial palace by a palace maid, and afterwards, he coincidentally had the opportunity to enter the “True Immortal Hall,” becoming an outstanding Star Cultivator.
Afterwards, when he was eighteen, he learned of his own identity that year. Despite his instructor’s warnings, he alone killed his way into the Imperial Palace to seize power.
That battle could be said to have ended now since the dawn of time. At the time, the rest of the crown princes at the imperial palace had many schools supporting them. Behind them were Star Cultivators working behind the scenes, yet Liang Huizong relied on the “Seventy-two Outer Void Deities Sword Style”3 to bloodily purge Bian City. Reportedly, at the time, the Dragon River4 protecting the city was dark red, like blood. Only after seventy days was the river clear, and from then on, all under heaven acknowledged his rule.
Liangshan Continent had a tacit understanding that schools would absolutely not be involved in the secular world. However, Liang Huizong’s status was special. At his back was the True Immoral Hall, and the rest of the schools that saw this could only turn a blind eye.
Where was the school known as True Immortal Hall?
Star Cultivators had a limerick that went like this.
“One clear, two halls, three palaces, four sword sections; five lakes, six oceans, seven mountains, from eight directions, nine firmaments azure dragons!”5
The meaning was that these ten great schools could intimidate the Azure Dragon of the Nine Firmaments, and various barbarians paid tribute. Furthermore, the True Immortal Hall was one of the two halls. Originally, every large school did not permit admittance of the imperial family into its halls, but Liang Huizong was an exception; he certainly was a cultivation and military genius. In the end, those schools heaved a great sigh whenever they discussed this affair: fate.
Because of this, the True Immortal Hall’s power seemed to pressure the Clear Void Path of “one clear.”
Although Liang Huizong’s violent and bloody rise to power made countless people resentful and discontent, afterwards was the enlightenment of politics. Officials treated each other well and brave individuals came forth in great numbers to open up the frontier in a ten year expedition for ten years of peace and prosperity; after twenty years, the Great Liang Dynasty’s military accomplishments were at their golden age as writing styles bloomed and the literati came out in droves with beautiful articles unexpectedly surpassing that from the past. Soon after, Liang Huizong encouraged even more for all restrictions of influential families joining sects. Formerly, Liang Taizong passed down an “execution of all relatives order” during his reign for the sake of worrying about the rest of the clans’ power expand to their former glory before the Star Cultivators, making countless good, talented and accomplished youths harbor grudges endlessly.
It was precisely this condition that completely roped in the rest of the hierarchy.
The other sects recruited disciples from the imperial family, the nobility and the landowning class continuously.
Just like how a Bian City had the shadows of at least a hundred schools, for this reason, Liang Huizong specially constructed an inner castle for Star Cultivators within the city.
Su Xing piloted the Wind Swayed Raft to descend outside the city so as not to attract attention. Lin Yingmei and Wu Xinjie also entered the Star Nest. Bian City , after all, was the Great Liang Dynasty’s national capital. Its school were innumerable; it simply was a dragon’s pool and a tiger’s den.
“Liang Huizong unexpectedly is this powerful. He certainly would not renounce a Star General?” Su Xing recalled Gong Caiwei. Her father was Prince Feng Wu,6 was he not?
Wu Xinjie had previously visited Bian City; the Knowledge Star’s understanding of many events was far greater than anyone’s. “Correct, and far beyond what Young Master can expect.”
“The Great Liang Dynasty Imperial Family altogether has at least three Star Masters!”
“Ah, three??” Su Xing was startled.
“Correct, at least three.” Wu Xinjie said: “Liang Huizong has nine sons and six daughters. The oldest is seventeen this year. The youngest should only be a month. There are five already qualified to become his successor, and Liang Huizong’s method of selecting the heir of the title of Emperor, young Master, what is your guess?”
“Star Duel?” Su Xing was blank.
“Right, it’s a Star Duel.”
“Isn’t that internal strife?” Lin Yingmei said. A great majority of schools generally only would foster one Star Master. The cause for this was not awfully complicated; Star Duels could only have one victor at the very end.
If the five successors all inherited Star Masters, the best outcome was that four would necessarily die; the worst would be a complete wipe out. Su Xing’s heart thought that this Ling Huizong was indeed iron-blooded and pitiless. Was this not just callously watching his own sons and daughters be sent to die? However, thinking it over once more, going by this Great Liang Dynasty’s robust foundation, the Liang Clan Imperial Family actually could possibly become the final victor.
“Young Master, the Liang Clan Imperial Family has two people you must look out for!!” Wu Xinjie’s tone was cautious.
“What sort of people?”
Su Xing nodded his head. Even if she was lacking, the Star Maiden able to become the Imperial Family’s would not be too lacking anywhere after that.
Entering Bian City, Su Xing found a “Happiness and Fortune Inn”9 and requested for a large guestroom. Then, without stopping to rest, he rushed to the market square; he already did not have too much time given to understand Bian City.
At the time Su Xing went to the square, in a corner of the Imperial City in the northern part of Bian City, within an imposing and grand mansion, a young person wearing a flimsy green shirt stood inside a pavilion, both hands behind his back, a very rare look of satisfaction on his face as he appreciated the sights outside pavilion.
A beautiful and splendid woman stood to the side not far away, a long skirt10 with cotton thread binding tight the satin fabric, exhibited an exquisite and alluring appearance. Her tube top and blue butterfly outer garment sheltered her white skin. The surrounding blue stripes gave a dim blue light when examined carefully, and her sparkling and pure earrings hung, swaying in the wind; fine black hair dispersed across her shoulders used a blood red bellflower hairpin to pull up. Stuck in and tilting, flowing like clouds, it seemed like crow’s hair.
Thinly applied makeup, eyebrows like bent willows, and a light point of vermilion in the middle of her forehead, she seemed beautiful and moving. Her delicate hands kept a red sheet inside her vermilion lips, like blood. Her languid thoughts were hardly covered up. Her bearing seemed to be lazy.
In a moment, the girl suddenly turned towards the garden entrance, that pair of beautiful eyes vigilant and demonically charming.
And at this not remote flower garden entrance came the sound of footsteps. Then a black-hat and embroidered gown wearing old man appeared there; when he lifted his head, he just happened to meet the girl’s snake-like and demonic, deviant eyes, and he could not help but tremble and sound a cold war alarm in his heart.
The girl put on a playful smile.
That youth simultaneously turned his gaze, faintly saying: “Elder Yun,11 how is Bian City right now?”
“Reporting to Your Majesty. Star Cultivators that have heard of the Kunwu Sand have come in quite the numbers.” Elder Yun forced a laugh and then walked over. His cultivation, in any case, had reached the Galaxy Stage, much higher than the youth at Nebula Middle Stage before him. But even if things were like this, when the old man faced towards this man, he still showed a respectful and deferential veneration, and to no other. The youth before him was the Great Liang Dynasty’s second crown prince, Zhao Heng.
“Has a Star Master taken the bait?” Zhao Heng smiled.
“Those Star Masters are very careful and have not been detected. Actually, a Supercluster Stage Cultivator has been drawn here.” Elder Yun whispered.
“A Supercluster Cultivator. Hmph, could my elder sister not have returned either?” Zhao Heng coldly smiled.
“I heard Princess Ling Yan has appeared at You Province.”12
“Truly disappointing. I of the palace13 have not fought a bout with sister in a long time. I of the palace also wants to know if a Three Star Destined Weapon can cut down Maiden Mountain’s Five Great Generals.” The girl coldly said.
Zhao Heng and the elderly man glanced at the girl, each showing different expressions.
“There is something I must inform you of, Your Majesty.” The elder suddenly recalled something.
“The Immortal Hero Princess has already left the Heavenly Ice Sacred Temple without permission…”14
- 紅妝按樂於寶榭層樓，白面行歌近畫橋流水 Poetry, the bane of translators. ↩
- 梁徽宗 ↩
- 七十二虛空天外飛仙劍法 ↩
- 龍河 ↩
- “一清雙殿三宮四劍宗，五湖六海七山八方從，九霄蒼龍！” Tried to keep the rhyme intact; should be four sword sects as well as a singular dragon. ↩
- 風武親王 ↩
- 凌煙公主 ↩
- 趙恆 ↩
- 福運客棧 ↩
- 飄廖裙 ↩
- 雲長老 ↩
- 幽州 ↩
- 本宮 Gong Caiwei uses this same honorific, but her usage is more ambiguous since her surname itself is also 宮. To distinguish, that’s why I had translated hers as “This Gong.” This distinction works anyways since this speaker is a Star Maiden, I believe. ↩
- I can smell an arranged marriage cliche coming from a mile away… ↩