Chapter 11: The kidnapped girl (Part One)
Qianqi couldn’t get Xia Qiu out of his mind ever since he set his eyes on her. On the first night he came to the capital city Yongchuan, he was sleepless.
He wondered how he could see that human girl again. According to Ouyang Hongye, she was Ouyang Xiaoleng’s blood pact partner. His father had mentioned that a strong bond existed between Fox Spirit Kings and their respective blood pact partners. He was even more envious of Ouyang Xiaoleng than when he heard that Ouyang Xiaoleng, a youth of his own age, would very probably become the master of the spirit world.
On the next day, Ouyang Yong summoned them into the Fuxing Hall to talk about the spirit king election meeting. Qianqi didn’t like this boring topic and would have left before it ended if not for Xia Qiu’s presence.
After deciding on the detailed agenda of the election meeting, Ouyang Yong and Ouyang Hongye would begin the preparations separately. Hearing Ouyang Xiaoleng had returned, Xuetu came to the Fuxing Hall to see him, but seeing how everyone was busy, she went back to her own place in disappointment.
Ouyang Hongye said before he left the Fuxing Hall, “Xiaoleng, it’s still early. Take Qianqi and Xia Qiu to tour the business street in my stead. By the way, go to Wutong Court and take Xuetu with you!”
Ouyang Xiaoleng thought the task tedious but agreed, knowing it was his duty as the host. Since Wutong Court and the business street were in two directions, he left Qianqi and Xia Qiu at the gate of the North Star Palace to get Xuetu.
Xia Qiu felt a bit embarrassed as she walked toward the business street with Qianqi. The youth had just arrived at the capital city but was obviously more familiar with this place. He explained to her the businesses the shops did. It was afternoon and the business street looked livelier than her last visit, bustling with all kinds of spirits. The paper lanterns hanging before the shops lent a dreamlike atmosphere to the street. As they walked among the spirits, they drew many astonished glances.
“A human girl.”
“Look. She’s a human.”
Whispers came to Xia Qiu’s ears as if they’d swallow her. Her palms got cold. Qianqi took her hand and pulled her forward with swift steps. When they passed a shop selling masks, he pulled her into it. The walls in the shop were covered by shelves of different masks. The shop owner, a horned spirit with one eye, looked Xia Qiu up and down curiously, which displeased Qianqi.
“What are you looking at? I’d like to choose a mask for the girl,” Qianqi yelled at the spirit with the arrogance of the crown prince of a dragon king. He released Xia Qiu’s hand and put his fingers under his chin as he began to consider the masks on display. Finally, he took down a golden mask with a cat face and put it before her face. Then he turned to the one-eye spirit shop owner and said, “We’ll take this!”
The shop owner looked at the teenage boy in disdain and said, “This mask is made of the metal extracted from Yinsong. You know that place has been deserted for many years and there’s a limited stock of this metal in the market. They are very precious! Besides, my shop only accepts gold or silver.”
To his surprise, Qianqi took out an exquisite money bag from his pocket, picked up a gold ingot and tossed it toward him, asking, “Is it enough?”
The gold ingot bounced in the shop owner’s palm and almost dropped to the ground. Gripping it, he heaved out a sigh of relief and weighed it in his hand greedily; he even bit it with his teeth. At last, he answered with an ingratiating smile, “Yes! It’s enough.”
Qianqi handed the mask to Xia Qiu. Suddenly he realized it was his first time buying a gift for a girl who was basically a stranger, so he explained in embarrassment, “People won’t stare at you if you wear the mask. Here! Put it on!”
“Thank you!” Xia Qiu took the mask and nodded thoughtfully. The boy looked thoughtless but was very considerate and careful when he wanted to. She smiled at him gratefully and put on the mask.
“It’s nothing. Let’s not stand on ceremony! It’s my first time in Yongchuan. I’m glad you can tour it with me!” Qianqi adjusted the mask for her and nodded with a warm and satisfied smile.
Ouyang Xiaoleng went to Wutong Court and saw Xuetu; immediately, he hurried toward the business street with her. On the way, Xuetu held his arm and chated with him in high spirits, and he felt a bit annoyed. He began to regret that he hadn’t set a meeting place with Xia Qiu and Qianqi. The business street wasn’t long but had dozens of shops. It would be exhausting if he looked for them shop by shop.
Xia Qiu had been to the capital city several times but didn’t get a chance to stroll on it. Today, she found this place quite fun and lively. As she strolled in the mysterious and ancient-looking small shops with a mask on her face, the spirits around her took her as one of them since Qianqi concealed her human presence for her.
Unlike Ouyang Xiaoleng, Qianqi had all his emotions written on his face. He was young but quite considerate with girls. He slowed down his steps to walk with Xia Qiu shoulder to shoulder and pointed out the stuff that interested him; talking with him, she felt much more light-hearted.(read on noodletowntranslated dot com to support the actual translators)
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