This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 3: Dead End
The dogs barked and the chickens squawked. Changling was shaken but many sat still.
The chief of the Astrology Bureau, Ye Celeng, sat underneath the covered bridge on the north side of the Yanwei Alley.
The water underneath the bridge was unusually restless with transparent bubbles constantly rising out of the mud, floating onto the surface. The waves slammed against the stone pillars underneath loudly. Her expression was calm, and she seemed completely indifferent.
There were open umbrellas on the stone bridge to her side.
Dressed in black robes, the officials of the Astrology Bureau used the black umbrellas to cover their bodies. They were crowded together, spreading from the stone bridge towards the rear streets.
Bai Shanshui suddenly stopped walking.
She stopped moving forward, and turned towards an alley to the east.
Li Yunrui followed her without hesitation like a shadow. He frowned slightly. “Astrology Bureau?”
Bai Shanshui nodded.
Li Yunrui looked at her proud profile and asked after a moment of silence, “Why not go from there? It may be the weakest.”
“Since Zheng Xiu has acted, all of Astrology Bureau is waiting there. They moved so much manpowerfor me. Even if I could get out of there, the rest will not be simple.” Bai Shanshui smiled. “If I have to fight for my life, I do not have to fight someone I find somewhat pleasing.”
Bai Shanshui paused, and then said, “In Changling, it is hard to find pleasing people.”
Li Yunrui shook his head. “If you really care, you should go in her direction. She was not able to kill you on the Wei River. Today, you do not pass there. Other people may really think that she is in cahoots with you great rebels. Her situation in Changling may grow more difficult in the future.”
“That day, today, the future…” Bai Shanshui looked at him with slight disdain. “I only find her pleasing today. Who cares about the distant future? I only care about my enjoyment today. Whether or not she lives or dies has nothing to do with me, she is Qin.”
Li Yunrui had never seen such a reason before and was stunned.
Bai Shanshui’s expression suddenly grew serious. She looked into the distance.
There was a turret over that soared in the darkness.
There were no lamps or fires on the turret, but she could sense an unusually high presence rising. The turret grew increasingly large in her perception.
“It’s Mo Shoucheng.”
Li Yunrui sensed that unusual and powerful presence. He looked up at the place and then naturally turned to the west.
Only that old man could give off such a presence. It was a warning to him and Bai Shanshui.
If he and Bai Shanshui ignored the warning and continued to move over there, that unusually high presence would come down, ignoring the alleys that would be affected. To try would be death.
So, he and Bai Shanshui could not test that old person if he would really act at all costs. If they did not want to turn back and fight to the death against Liang Lian’s army, they could only walk west.
Walking west was actually the shortest path towards the Changling countryside, and there was also a tributary of the Wei River there.
Bai Shanshui did not object, and followed Li Yunrui’s figure.
There were no flying swords attacking. The two of them walked side by side, and no one could see who the subordinate was.
“There are large paths of reeds there. In the past, many of Changling’s ordinary criminals thought that they could easily escape through there, but they all died there. The reeds are called the Dead Reeds.”
Bai Shanshui gathered her scattered hair, and said casually to Li Yunrui. She realized she was really not used to female attire.
“A very accurate name,” Li Yunrui turned to glance at her, and said in a serious tone, “You are very good-looking now. So I will not let you land in their hands. If we cannot escape, I will kill you before they capture you.”
Bai Shanshui stilled, and understood he meant that if a woman like her ended up in Changling’s water prison, her experiences would be more horrifying than a man. She smiled unconcernedly and said, “Thank you for your praise.”
The earth was still shaking. The roof tiles creaked anxiously on the buildings. Yet, in the pair’s senses, danger had disappeared, and everything was oddly quiet.
No one stopped them.
The two of them strolled along the streets at night like a couple after they visited a lantern festival.
“Ever since my sword formed, only my senior sect brother has followed me in these years, and I have not even had a relatively close male friend.”
The atmosphere was extremely suppressed but Bai Shanshui did not care. She looked at the faint shadows on the stone road and said, “Before this, if a man dared to say something like this to me, even if I did not kill him, I would gouge out his eyes.”
Li Yunrui frowned slightly and felt that Bai Shanshui was violent. But thinking of her previous situation, and how she wanted to make people feel she was dangerous and powerful, he nodded slightly and did not speak.
“But thinking of how I will never have a true confidant or partner before I die, never understanding true romantic feelings is a regret.” Bai Shanshui smiled and said, “I once dreamed, when I first grew up, if someone protected me without regard for life, I would love him regardless of everything. My senior sect brother fought side by side with me these years, but he is my senior sect brother. Also, my cultivation has always been above his, and most times, I was protecting him instead. You are the first man to protect me without regard for your life.”
Hearing this, Li Yunrui’s breathing paused, and he tensed.
“Since you feel I am good looking, if we escape today without dying, we can try,” Bai Shanshui pressed her lips together gently and said.
Li Yunrui, who had thought nothing of life and death when in a trap, changed expression and shouted. He turned and saw Bai Shanshui’s teasing smile. He was immediately annoyed and said angrily, “You joke with me at such a time.”
Bai Shanshui laughed loudly in an unladylike manner.
A long time later, she put her smile away and said, “I, Bai Shanshui, never speak false. When have you ever heard of Bai Shanshui joking?”
Li Yunrui was stunned. Thinking of this person’s life, he could not think of any arguments. His face flushed and he gritted out. “Boring!”
Bai Shanshui laughed silently.
Her life likely had never been as interesting or as dangerous as today.
Li Yunrui turned his head, unwilling to talk more with Bai Shanshui.
The streets were silent.
The Death Reeds were far, but Bai Shanshui could still sense the wetness coming from the reeds.
A flute sounded from the reeds.
Someone was playing a flute in the Death Reeds.
The flute faded in and out, and did not seem to form a tune. This was summer, but it sounded like an autumn insect wailing, powerlessly vibrating its wings but unable to fly into the sky out of the reeds.
The flute sounds had amazing penetrative power, passing through miles of fields and many streets to clearly reach Bai Shanshui and Li Yunrui.
Li Yunrui, who had decided to not speak to Bai Shanshui, took a deep breath and could not help but say coldly, “Who is it?”
“Bureau Chief Chen.”
“The mysterious chief of Divinity Bureau.”
Bai Shanshui’s sentence was divided into two short phrases. Li Yunrui could hear shock in her voice.
In the next moment, Bai Shanshui gathered her hair again and smiled. “Interesting… We will pass there. Among the people of Changling, he is the only one I have never seen fight.”
“You’ve seen everyone else fight?” Li Yunrui frowned and said in disbelief.
“You may not believe me, but even when I do not show up, it does not mean I am not present.” Bai Shanshui put her hands behind her back and looked coolly at him. “Do not forget that I was a rebel since the death of my dynasty. My dynasty has been gone for many years, and before that, I was on many battlefields.”
Li Yunrui bowed his head.
Bai Shanshui’s experiences were far greater than ordinary cultivators, but… mystery was interesting, but also meant unpredictability and power.
If he had to choose, he would like to face the other powerful woman of Changling and her entire Astrology Bureau rather than the mysterious Bureau Chief Chen waiting for them in the Death Reeds.
Bai Shanshui walked with her hands behind her back.
He followed silently with his bowed head.
“Other than my senior sect brother, you are the first man who does not ask about life and death as you follow me.” Bai Shanshui ‘s voice reached his ears again.
Li Yunrui grew annoyed again and said, “So boring!”
Bai Shanshui responded aloofly. “I just do not want you to be filled with death. If you feel bored, how can you help me seek life?”