Zi  period, inside the palace.
The white jade tower is opulent and imposing, a faint lustre radiated from the surface of the stupa .
Amidst the still silence, a shadowy figure slipped into the imperial garden.
A patrolling guard stopped in his tracks, his right hand falling toward his waist in vigilance. But before he could unsheathe his sword, half his body trembled and a chill instantly swept into his brain, as though he was falling into a bottomless ice cave. Even the fear was frozen into his eyes. The only source of warmth stemmed from the fresh blood spewing from his neck.
Up until the moment he died he was still wondering blankly, what exactly was that white patch just now?
Was it really…… snow?
Da Liang kingdom, Ninth year of the Tianren Dynasty.
Late autumn, the weather was originally already cold and windy, but whose idea was it to design the Fengyu  Sect in this manner? The hall used for receiving guests was built next to the valley creek. When the northwest wind blew, the veiled screens that were draped in the four corners of the room began flying about with the dead leaves from the mountain, somewhat ruining the appearance of the esteemed guest within it.
A servant waiting on the side smiled apologetically and advised, “Why don’t this guest have another cup of wine? Our Sect Master is hurrying over right now and will be here in a moment. Just a moment.”
Ji Yanran’s gaze shifted, resting upon that jolting, white coloured halfway up the mountains and moving slower than a turtle sedan chair.
Fengyu Sect had an illustrious reputation. Every so often, someone would carry a bag of silver and pay a visit because this was the place of the Jianghu’s largest intelligence network. Be it a righteous sect who had lost their door plaque or a demonic cult who could not locate one of their junior disciple sisters, or even a wealthy family whose steward had run away with their money, as long as they could afford the price, they would be able to exchange it for news and the whereabouts of people. Thus, business was booming.
Since he had a request for the other, Ji Yanran could only wait very patiently, or at least appear to be patient.
Another half a shichen  passed and the sedan chair finally appeared at the entrance of the valley. As if he was relieved of a great burden, the servant hurried forward and drew the curtains, saying respectfully, “Sect Master.”
Ji Yanran remained seated by the table, taking a sip of his wine in a calm and unhurried manner. Instead, it was a few of the attendants from his retinue who were standing behind him that were quite aggrieved, and secretly discussing that this Fengyu Sect’s Sect Master must have a powerful background.
He could not help turning his gaze over, wanting to see what the person in the sedan looked like.
Yun Yifeng spoke, “Everyone, I’ve made you wait for a long time.”
He had beautiful eyes and brows and a smile played on the corner of his lips. He stood in the midst of the mountains dressed in a silk brocade robe. When the cool autumn breeze blew, his sleeves billowed out, giving him the appearance of an immortal. However it seems that this immortal has a weak constitution. He had barely spoken a few words when he fished out a handkerchief to cover his mouth and coughed for a long time.
The attendants from the Ji residence secretly thought, ah that’s right, who dresses like this in this kind of ghastly weather? Even a well-built butcher from the streets could not endure it and would wrap themselves in a makeshift mattress made of fur for greater warmth.
Ji Yanran asked in concern, “Is the Sect Master suffering from the winter chill?”
“It’s of no concern.” Yun Yifeng waved his hand, and finally caught his breath, “Let’s not delay business.”
“That’s good.” Ji Yanran smiled, then crooked his forefinger and lightly knocked on the table. Someone immediately brought over two chests of gold. “This is a thank-you gift, to thank the Sect Master for being willing to accept my request. As for the recompense after the matter has been accomplished, it is open for discussion.”
Yun Yifeng asked, “What are you searching for?”
Ji Yanran replied, “A few days ago, someone stole a relic from the imperial palace’s stupa. This is a matter concerning the fate of the Da Liang kingdom. The emperor was furious and ordered the Dali Temple  guards to capture the thief within three months.”
“It’s a business relating to the imperial court?” Yun Yifeng shook his head, “I don’t like dealing with government officials and haven’t heard anything about items being stolen from a stupa. I’m afraid I won’t be able to help.”
But Ji Yanran asked, “What if I have something that the Sect Leader wants?”
Yun Yifeng inquired doubtfully, “Something that I want?”
Ji Yanran answered, “I’ve heard that the Sect Leader is searching all over the Jianghu for a Blood Lingzhi , and I just happen to have one.”
Yun Yifeng frowned, “Who, exactly, are you?”
An attendant standing at the side cast him a meaningful glance. Before Ji Yanran could speak, he had already taken out the tiger seal  and said in a clear voice, “My Master is Prince Xiao of Da Liang.”
“So it’s a descendant of the imperial clan. No wonder you were able to find a Blood Lingzhi.” Yun Yifeng was enlightened. “Alright, it’s a deal.”
Seeing that he had agreed so readily, Ji Yanran was rather surprised, “Sect Master Yun is not afraid that I’m a fraud?”
“I’m not afraid.” Yun Yifeng laughed, “In the whole of Jianghu, there probably isn’t anyone who would dare impersonate Your Highness.”
Everyone in the country knew that His Royal Highness Xiao was highly skilled in martial arts and loves to harbour grudges. A few years ago when he was guarding the north-western desert, a group of ignorant bandits killed one of his brothers  in the Black Flood Dragon  unit. Since then, it gained the wrath of this living ancestor  and they were chased and beaten for three years. Whenever they were caught they were violently beaten up, once it was finished they were released, and once they were released they were caught again. Hence they lived their life on tenterhooks, it was even worse than death, and at that time Ji Yanran was only twelve years old. Now that he had gotten older, his reputation of holding grudges has become even more well known. Only someone who thinks that they’ve lived for too long would dare to impersonate this member of the royal family.
Ji Yanran was clearly very satisfied. “Then we will leave tonight.”
Yun Yifeng was baffled, “Where are we going?”
Ji Yanran answered naturally, “Of course we’re heading to Hanwu  city.”
Yun Yifeng asked, “Of course?”
Ji Yanran reminded him, “The Blood Lingzhi.”
Yun Yifeng, “……”
Yun Yifeng spoke, “I’ll prepare a carriage tonight and respectfully await Your Highness here.
Once the people of the Fengyu Sect were far away, an attendant asked hesitatingly, “Your Highness, the Blood Lingzhi is a sacred relic only found in rumours ––“
Ji Yanran interrupted him, “This Prince  has never seen it, it was made up.”
The attendant worried, “I’m afraid that this might cause some trouble in the future.”
Ji Yanran responded, “Besides this, can you think of any other way to make Yun Yifeng cooperate with us willingly?”
The attendant fell silent. It was said that the Fengyu Sect was as wealthy as Croesus , except for the Blood Lingzhi, there might really be nothing else that could be used as a bargaining chip.
“We’ll fool him for the time being. It’s not too late to come up with a new excuse when it is about to be revealed.” Ji Yanran raised his wine cup and took a sip, “Finding the relic is the most important.”
When the Zi period arrived, Yun Yifeng appeared on time as expected. As always, he was dressed in a thin white robe and as usual, was coughing his lungs out like he had tuberculosis. Even Ji Yanran subconsciously took two steps back, he could not understand what was wrong with these Jianghu people. In the end, perhaps it was because he was annoyed by the coughing sounds, he simply unwrapped his cloak and handed it over. Yun Yifeng did not refuse and when he received it, the tips of their index finger touched. It felt as hot as fire.
Ji Yanran was secretly surprised and lifted his head to look at him, but that white clad figure had already gotten into the carriage and pulled the curtains tightly shut.
The coachman drew his whip and the two carriages, one in front and one at the back, rushed out of Fengyu Sect’s gates, sprinting toward the north-eastern direction.
The rest of the attendants and disciples spurred their horses and followed behind closely, creating clouds of dust in the mountain valley in their wake.
Yun Yifeng leaned against a cool jade stool, his lips somewhat pale. Hanwu city is located in the northeast, far away from Chunlin city. If it wasn’t because of the Blood Lingzhi, there was no way he, this sickly young man who was only left with half a life, would move even half an inch.
Both sides each took what they needed, this transaction thus proceeded smoothly. It was peaceful along the way, it was only when they passed by Tianshui city that they encountered some trouble. The inn’s steward said that the city was holding a poetry recital competition, and all the literati in the surrounding region were staying in the guesthouses, so there was only one room left.
Ji Yanran adopted a gracious attitude, “Naturally, I will let Sect Leader Yun have it. I’ll send someone up now to sweep it clean.”
The steward hurriedly said, “We are the best inn here, the room is already clean so there is no need for this patron to clean anymore.”
However, a servant from the Ji residence had already vanished toward the stairs with a broom and all the baggage.
Yun Yifeng spoke, “Many thanks.”
“Let’s eat something first.” Ji Yanran said, “These days we’ve been rushing on our journey, it’s been hard on the Sect Leader.”
“There’s still half a month before we can reach Hanwu city.” Yun Yifeng picked up the menu and ordered a bowl of braised pork ribs noodle for himself, “Your Highness still doesn’t plan to tell me why are we going to the northeast?”
“It’s for the relic.” Ji Yanran said, “This prince received some news that the stolen relic would be mixed in with a batch of pearls and jade and delivered to the Yue clan’s armed escort bureau to be headed for Baisha Kingdom.”
“So that’s it.” Yun Yifeng smiled, “So Your Highness actually already has a plan, and doesn’t need the help of the Fengyu Sect. The reason why I was dragged along for this journey was because you were worried that someone would come to inquire about the whereabouts of this relic?”
“That is one reason.” Ji Yanran spoke, “Another reason is that Sect Leader Yun is quite well known within the Jianghu, naturally it is much more convenient for you to get things done than someone like me, who is from the imperial court.”
Yun Yifeng said, “But I have very little contact with the Yue clan’s armed escort bureau. It’ll be very weird if I suddenly rush up to their gates like this.”
But Ji Yanran didn’t take his words seriously, “A refined person like Sect Leader Yun is someone that everyone in the martial arts community would want to establish ties with. If the master of the Yue clan’s armed escort bureau learns that the Sect Leader happens to be in Hanwu city, he would not be indifferent to it.”
Yun Yifeng reminded him, “Don’t even think about creating trouble for me.”
“Naturally.” Ji Yanran handed him a pair of chopsticks, “I just want to recover the stolen item, and don’t intend to stir up disputes in the Jianghu. Moreover if the relic is sent to another kingdom, it doesn’t matter whether they had prior knowledge of it or not, it will still be a serious crime that would implicate the entire clan. Looking at it this way, about eighty percent of the Yue clan’s members would have to kowtow and thank you and me.”
Yun Yifeng shook his head but didn’t continue conversing with him, merely bowed his head and concentrated on eating his noodles. He had an elegant and beautiful appearance, but he enjoyed secular food and meat dishes. Expressionless, he began eating the oily bowl of noodles that was covered with pork slices, even drinking all the soup so that not a single drop was left. Now that his belly was filled with hot food, colour gradually returned to his face, and small beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. Ji Yanran passed his handkerchief over and probed, “Has the Sect Leader not recovered from the winter chill?”
“I was poisoned.” Yun Yifeng did not try to hide it, “I don’t have much time left, which is why I was searching everywhere for the life-saving Blood Lingzhi.”
Ji Yanran, “……”
Ji Yanran asked, “What kind of poison is it?”
Yun Yifeng did not answer this question, and instead asked, “What does the Blood Lingzhi look like?”
Ji Yanran looked at him calmly, “Sect Leader Yun has never seen it before?”
“If I have seen it before, how could I not be able to find it.” Yun Yifeng spoke, “There is almost no record of it in the medical books. Only the stories from the coastal regions would occasionally mention the Blood Lingzhi and the Sea Goddess. It’s said that once, there was a group of fishermen who presented this treasure to the emperor. It’s reasonable if Your Highness is unwilling to give it to me right now, but at least I would like to hear, what kind of treasure is it?”
Ji Yanran casually said, “The exterior is vermillion in colour, and it is slightly larger and tougher than an ordinary Lingzhi.”
“So it’s like that.” Yun Yifeng thought for a moment then nodded his head,
“Your Highness may be assured. For the sake of this life-saving medicine, I will do my best.”
Hearing their conversation, Ji Yanran’s retinue became uneasy again, they could already foresee that when the truth came to light in the future, what kind of earth-shaking matter it would be.
Perhaps it was to make some amends, after eating, Ji Yanran personally sent Yun Yifeng back to his room. When he pushed open the door, he saw that his attendant was still making the bed. The bedding provided by the inn had been thrown to who-knew-where, replaced by a brocade quilt and an exquisite jade pillow. A thick rug made of bear fur covered the footrest, while the incense burner by the bedside was lighted up with a high quality soothing fragrance. Even the utensils that was used for drinking tea were delicate and tasteful. The copper basin used for washing up was covered in flower petals, and four male attendants stood at the side in a row with smiles on their faces. From their posture, it seems they were waiting for Yun Yifeng to discard his clothing and get in for a bath.
Sect Leader Yun wondered, “Does Your Highness conduct a ritual before going to bed?”
Ji Yanran replied, “Since I was born in the royal family, I can’t let it go to waste. Everyone enjoys living in luxury and this Prince is no exception. If Sect Leader wants to listen to someone playing the zither –– “
“No need.” Yun Yifeng interrupted him, “Many thanks to Your Highness for tonight. I’m going to rest.”
Ji Yanran nodded his head. Before he left, he did not forget to mention that the teapot was filled with Frost Winter Jade, a rare tea that was difficult to obtain even with a thousand gold.
But Yun Yifeng held no interest in whether this tea truly contained jade or not. All he wanted was to quickly bathe and go to bed where he could utilize his cultivation to suppress the sharp pain running throughout his body. The past few days and nights, he had suffered as they rushed toward the north-eastern region. After being jolted by the carriage for an entire day, his internal organs had all shrunk into a ball. It was only when he was lying on the bed that he felt somewhat better. However, although his body was exhausted, his mind was awake and sober, each time he opened his eyes it would remain so for the better part of the night.
It was the same this time. After wrapping himself up in the soft quilt, Yun Yifeng did not extinguish the candlelight. Instead, he lit the wick and took out a small ruby knife from a box, then leaned against the headboard and began carving it.
Outside the window, fine snow began to fall all night.
 (子时; Zi period) refers to the period between 11pm-1am.
 A stupa refers to a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine. It typically contains many Buddhist relics within it.
 (风雨; Feng Yu) translates into Wind and Rain
 One Shichen (时辰) is equivalent to two hours.
 (大理寺; Da Li Si) or Dali Temple is similar to the modern day Supreme Court which oversees prison trial cases.
 (灵芝; Ling Zhi) or Ganoderma Lucidum is a prized herb in traditional Eastern medicine.
 The tiger seal (虎符; Hu Fu) is typically issued to princes and generals as a symbol of imperial authorisation to command/rally the troops in ancient China
 “Brothers” or兄弟 (Xiong Di) does not indicate blood relation here but rather fellow comrades.
 A flood dragon or 蛟 (Jiao) is a lesser type of dragon in Chinese mythology.
 The term living ancestor or “活祖宗” (Zu Zong) is a phrase that refers specifically to a person who can’t be provoked usually due to his status (e.g. a wealthy person or someone of a powerful noble background) or someone who is powerful in martial arts.
 (寒雾; Han Wu) translates into “Cold Fog”
 (本王; Ben Wang) is a way for princes to refer to themselves – kind of like the third-person, royal “we” used by a sovereign.
 Croesus is a king in ancient Greece who was well known for his wealth.
dreamxx: Soooo this is just a teaser chapter for my upcoming project~! I’m really excited to be translating this hehe ♡♡♡ The second half will be up soon. For this project, I will likely divide each chapter and post them across two updates because the word count for each is really long ~5000-6000 words. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Thank you for your support! ( ˘ ³˘)♥
2 thoughts on “Chapter 1.1: Theft in the Palace”
Somehow the starting point is quite… Calm?
Maybe I’m just too sleepy while reading..
Thanks for the translation, anyway.
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Haha it takes a while to build up!!
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