Prologue – The Carriage That Passed Through Deerwood Town
Deerwood Town East’s unstable decorated archway had already stood tall for two-hundred and thirty years, the large words ‘Timely Wind and Rain’ and the archway’s decorative designs already hard to make out. Between the cracks of stones, wormwood of varying heights grew vigorously among dried-up yellow weeds.
The sunlight of early morning passed through the thriving wormwood, landing on Lin Xi’s body, the mottled radiance and shadows giving the rather lazy faced, handsome, seventeen or eighteen year old youth a misconception of wisdom.
On the other side of him stood a delicate and pretty looking young lady who was a few years younger than him, her hair styled in a twin-tailed fashion. Her physique was on the skinnier side, making her eyes look quite big.
This pretty young lady wasn’t someone of Deerwood Town. It was unknown where she came from, but she walked up to Lin Xi, already asking him many questions about himself just now. Lin Xi had never seen this young lady before. However, a completely serious expression remained on her face the entire time, making it so that not a trace of childishness could be seen.
“This really is hard for me to explain to you… In any case, I was just bored…” Right now, Lin Xi was also speaking to this young lady seriously.
“Alright.” The pretty young lady nodded. She then asked with a completely deadpan expression, “Then why have you been standing here this whole time, staring up with your neck outstretched? What is so interesting about this decorated archway?”
“It wasn’t because I thought this archway was nice-looking or anything…” Lin Xi shook his head. He pointed at the top of the decorated archway and said, “That bird nest might fall down. There are two little birds inside, so I was wondering whether I’d be able to catch it. If I can, then I’d give them to my little sister as presents.”
This was a rather bizarre scene. It was as if a student was obediently answering a teacher’s questions, only, the teacher was even younger than the student, yet neither side involved felt that this was all that strange.
After hearing Lin Xi say this, this pretty young lady surprisingly stopped her questioning. She nodded, bid Lin Xi goodbye, and then turned around. She walked past the archway, passed through three alleys, and then headed towards a carriage parked on the cobblestone road going through Deerwood Town.
The fifteen or sixteen year old pretty young lady got on the carriage alone. She sat down on the coachman position, grabbed the horsewhip, and then urged the two old gray horses to slowly pull the chariot forward. Her movements were practiced and natural, as if this was something she was accustomed to doing.
“Did you find out everything you needed?” A cold and arrogant female voice sounded from within the silent carriage.
“His name is Lin Xi, son of the Lin family who owns a shop in the western part of this town, soon to be eighteen. Has a sister seven years younger.” The delicate and pretty young lady didn’t turn around, gently brandishing the whip. She maintained a serious attitude no matter what it was that she was doing, regardless of whether it was during the questioning before or right now, replying while driving the carriage.
The indifferent and arrogant voice only asked a single question, but this young girl continued; “The people here all like to call him Second Young Master Lin.”
“Oh? Why is that?” The voice behind the curtains was a bit curious.
“Because he’ll often say some bizarre things, and he also likes to call people ‘second’, so the people here all think there’s something wrong with his head, possibly because of a severe cold he suffered more than two years ago. That is why the people here all call him Second Young Master Lin.” The delicate and pretty young lady turned her head slightly, replying.
“Then do you think there’s something wrong with his head?” After remaining silent for a bit, the one behind the curtains asked again.
“His words were coherent, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with his head, but he did indeed say some strange things.” The pretty young lady’s brows furrowed slightly, and then she muttered, “After I asked him some questions, he asked if I was here for census and taxation purposes, asking me what I was asking so much for. When I asked him what census and taxation was, he said that I wouldn’t understand even if he explained it to me. Moreover, in the end, he told me that the reason he was standing underneath that archway was because the bird’s nest on top was going to fall down in a bit, inside of it two chicks. He was getting ready to catch it right there, and then if he caught it, he could give them to his little sister as gifts. However, that nest is resting quite firmly on a beam below the overhanging eaves, only a bit exposed, even if there is a storm, it shouldn’t fall. Most importantly, not even I could even see if there were chicks inside from below.”
“If not even you could confirm it, then it seems like it is a bit tricky…” This time, the chilly female voice from within the carriage remained silent for much longer. Only when this carriage was about to pass through Deerwood Town along the cobblestone path did the cold voice finally sound again. “However, Green Luan Academy shouldn’t feel the same way.”
The delicate and pretty young lady’s brows furrowed even deeper, asking with an even more serious tone, “I do not understand what young miss is trying to say.”
“When we pass through Deereast City’s government office, have Li Xiping make arrangements for him to go to Green Luan Academy. If we have him hurry there, he should make it just in time.” The woman behind the curtains said.
“You are recommending him to attend Green Luan Academy’s great entrance examination?” The delicate and pretty young lady also remained silent for a bit, and then asked, “Why?”
“The reasoning is quite laughable now that I think about it. I remember when I was little, when grandfather told me about that person, he said to me that this person, in the past, when it clearly wasn’t raining, would often shout ‘The winds are blowing, there’ll be thunder and rain, everyone hurry and bring in your clothes!’ , these types of words.” The voice of the woman behind the curtains became a bit more relaxed, as if she also recalled some fond memories, the corners of her lips presumably carrying a faint smile.
“You are talking about Principal Zhang?” The pretty young lady didn’t turn around, but her back clearly shuddered.
“Apart from him, who else is qualified to be constantly mentioned by grandfather?” The voice of the woman behind the curtains actually became a bit colder. “When you look for Li Xiping, have him properly deal with Zhang Zhendong. Just a trifling city supervisor, born a commoner, yet he actually has seven residences. Have him join Dragon Snake Valley’s border army, if he can come back alive after three years, then we’ll leave him with three of the seven residences.”
“Is there anything else you want to entrust to him?” The delicate and pretty young lady nodded, lightly brandishing the whip again.
“Li Xiping has already remained in the border army for six years, even served as a city supervisor for thirteen years. This type of old cunning thing is far smarter than you can imagine, there’s absolutely no need to say any more.” The woman inside the carriage laughed coldly. However, after saying this, she seemed to have recalled something, thus saying indifferently, “Tell him this as well, I don’t wish for others to know that this Lin ‘Second’ was recommended by me.”
The carriage’s wheels made light noises while moving along the cobblestone road. A few playful children underneath some yellow poplar trees outside Deerwood stopped what they were doing, watching with curiosity as this carriage left Deerwood Town, climbing onto a small slope, before it finally disappeared from their view.
“Turns out there really are experts in this world…” Lin Xi stood under the ‘Timely Wind and Rain’ archway, this Deerwood Town’s rather famous Second Young Master’s expression a bit strange. He had a pensive look on his face, rubbing his forehead from time to time as if there was a bruise there.
“It’s about time.” Suddenly, his expression became serious again. He pulled up the hem of his robe, made a pocket, and then raised his head, concentrating on the decorated archway above him.
Almost the moment he finished making these strange movements, perhaps because it hadn’t rained for too long, perhaps because a stalk of wormwood’s soft shoot tenaciously squeezed itself out from the small crack between the stone tiles, on the originally completely normal decorated archway, a wooden beam suddenly released a light rupturing noise, causing that beam to immediately become slanted.
Under panicked chirps, Lin Xi made a smooth catching motion. It was as if he already knew how that nest made of dry grass would fall, steadily catching the dry grass nest that suddenly fell.
A brilliant smile immediately appeared on his face, making even this Deerwood Town’s early morning seem much more carefree. This seventeen or eighteen year old flower boy clasped this dry grass nest in his arms while running along Deerwood Town’s cobblestone path, then stepping onto a pavement road that was completely smooth from being walked on year in, year out, the cheerful footsteps bringing forth a string of smiles and clamoring.
“Aiyou… run a bit slower, be careful not to fall!”
“Really, this Lin Second… Already so big, yet still scooping out nests.”
“Sigh, right? He’s so old already, yet he’s still playing with birds.”
“…” Lin Xi, whose entire body was covered in goosebumps after hearing the large aunts who were washing clothes by the pond say the words ‘play with birds’, didn’t stop until he ran all the way to a white walled small courtyard with two little lion statues in Deerwood Town North. After taking a moment to catch his breath, this pretty young man stuck out his chest, pushed open this small courtyard’s vermilion entrance, and like a general who returned victorious from war, proudly and complacently rushed inside, shouting, “Sis, hurry and come see what good stuff I brought back for you!”
“Big brother, what good stuff?!”
After this cute and tender voice of pleasant surprise sounded, a little girl dressed in a double layered jacket dashed out from a room in the courtyard.
The eleven or twelve years old girl was pretty, eyebrows picturesque, hair tied in a ponytail, eyes incredibly clear and bright. Her fine white little face had a bit of ink smeared on it, making those who saw this couldn’t help but smile.
“Ah… birdies! Ah! Two little birdies!” After just a glance, this pretty and cute little girl became stupefied. Then, as if she woke up from a dream, she screamed with endless joy.
A married woman whose face carried suppressed anger and worry quickly walked over. This woman’s features were similar to the little girl and Lin Xi’s, even though there were already some wrinkles around the corners of her eyes, in a place like Deerwood Town, there was still an elegant aura about her.
“Mom, this fell from the Timely Wind and Rain archway, I didn’t crawl onto some high place to steal it. Otherwise, my clothes would definitely be a complete mess.” As soon as Lin Xi saw this good-looking married woman, he immediately stuck his tongue out, quickly explaining himself.
When the good-looking married woman gave Lin Xi’s clothes a look, the lines on her face immediately became more gentle. In reality, she also knew that ever since he woke from that bad cold, apart from always saying some ridiculous things, this son of hers never did anything else that made her worry.
“Qianqian, don’t touch it anymore for now. Go and wash your face first, I’ll teach you how to take care of them later…”
“Ah! Mom, you’re the best!” The cute and pretty little girl immediately jumped and cheered excitedly again.
“Big brother, there’s two birds, so why don’t we name one of them Lin Xi, one of them Lin Qian?”
“Uh… silly little sis, who would want to call themselves birds? Isn’t that the same as cursing at yourself, calling yourself bird people?”
In that Deerwood Town’s early morning, within a quiet and peaceful little courtyard, a seventeen or eighteen year old young man and a little girl whose face had been washed squeaky clean propped up their cheeks, chatting while completely entranced by the bird nest placed in the wicker basket below the window sill.
Within that nest were two shaggy yellow beaked chicks who had already eaten their fill.
Inside of a different room on the other side, the good-looking married woman tidied up the pens, paper, and ink-stones on the desk by the window, from time to time smiling while looking at the chatting young man and little girl.
1. Can be used as relatively modern slang for calling people slow, a softer criticizing word
2. Mythical bird related to the phoenix
3. Bird person here is slang for damned wretch or fucker