The Rise of Phoenixes, Volume 1: Memories of the Imperial Capital Chapter 7: Why should I drink on the lonely bridge?

The Rise of Phoenixes 《 凰权 》Huang Quan

The Rise of Phoenixes, Volume 1: Memories of the Imperial Capital Chapter 7: Why should I drink on the lonely bridge?

The warm winter sun sank, one by one and the wind carried the chill of the night with it, lifting up the layers.

  It was dark, the streets were deserted and the beat of the watchman’s bell sounded bleak.

  With a creak, the tavern keeper on Tin Shui Street put down the bamboo frame supporting the window and smiled at an even darker corner of the tavern, “Customer… The tavern is closed…”

  In the corner, a small group was sitting against the wall, a few bottles of wine on the table, when they heard the foreman’s confession, they stood up slowly, put down a corner of silver and took away the two remaining bottles of wine on the table.

  The foreman shook his head silently at the man’s thin back wrapped in a thin cotton jacket: the people stranded here are all homeless, right?

  As she walked out of the door, the wind was blowing, so Feng Zhiwei pulled her jacket a little tighter, put her fingers to her lips and breathed in like a frost.

  With a jug of wine in her hand, she walked aimlessly against the crowd, gradually passing the slums of the East Side and heading towards the city.

  After walking for a while, he suddenly saw a river in front of him, reflecting the shadows of the lamps and the untouched snow on the green stones of the river bank, which looked like crystal ice.

  Feng Zhiwei sat down on the snow-covered rocks, facing the river.

  She groped for the wine in her arms and drank slowly from the bottle and soon there was not much left and she tilted her head back and poured it into her mouth.

  The coarse earthenware decanter was poorly made, with uneven edges and the clear liquor leaked out, lashing out on her face and running down the corners of her eyes.

  She wiped it carelessly, her finger was damp, smelled of wine, there was some other liquid, she looked at it absentmindedly and after a long, long time, she lifted her hand, blindfolded it.

  The snowy night is silent, the wind is cold, the river flows silently, the girl stands on the greenstone, her blindfolded fingers glisten in the night.

  The fragrance of rouge in the distance, the faintest hint of laughter on the waves, when it reached this corner of the silent river, there were only a few left.

  But a voice suddenly broke the cool silence of the moment.

“Young Master…”

A soft voice, with a long, coquettish coda and then the sound of footsteps, someone approaching.

  Feng Zhiwei put down her hand and frowned, then noticed the reflection of lights and flowers in the river: if I remember correctly, this seems to be the River Rouge in the city, famous for its ten miles of rouge houses, both sides of the river are full of people selling smiles.

  It’s probably the whim of a john who comes to the river with a nightingale.

  Feng Zhiwei didn’t move: the client wasn’t afraid of being watched or was she afraid of watching others?

As the sound of footsteps approached, the woman coquettishly exclaimed, “Oh my, someone… She turned to the man at her side and said, “Master…” You said you wanted to show Yin’er something new…”

There was a faint” huff” from someone, a throat sound that could be heard as well, a tone that was somewhat familiar.

Feng Zhiwei fondled the wine flask, glancing at a corner of the elegant silver brocade robe and on the dark black cloak, pale gold mocha mandala flowers, almost flamboyantly flying in the corners of her eyes.

The ring of pendants tinkled, the colorful dress turned around, turned its back to the river, walked to the man in the brocade robe, raised its arm around the man’s neck and smiled coquettishly: “Then… Yin’er you wait.”

The man didn’t seem to move and there was some laughter in his tone, saying, “I saw a good show today and I really can’t bear not to share it with others.”

  Feng Zhiwei’s heart was moved and she turned around.

  Then he saw the elegant man in the robe, smiling in the snowy night, glancing at her, then, with a shallow smile, hugging the girl, he took a step forward and then another.

  All the way to the river.

  Intoxicated by the man’s stunning grace, Yin’er didn’t realize she was facing the river with her back to the river and stepped backward.

  It’s going to be dunked in the river.

  The man bent his face, smiled shallowly.

  The woman bawled and brought her lips to mine.

  The man reaches out his hand gently and gives it a gentle push.

“Pfft.”

Feng Zhiwei held her head in her hands and sighed.

It’s… It’s so…

She was so shocked that she forgot to struggle but the water wasn’t too deep and it was a scenic river, so her face turned white in an instant.

She was startled to see a man and a woman by the river, the man smiling from afar with his hands crossed, without even looking at her. The woman with the pot in her hand, elegantly but insistently drinking her own wine.

Yin’er felt like she was about to collapse.

There are people in the world who push people into the water for no reason and people who don’t help when they see them in the water.

She shivered in the water for a while, then struggled herself slowly to the shore and reached out her hand to the man begging him for a hand, “Master… My lord…”

Frozen white with outstretched fingers, trembling like a broken flower.

The man looked at her fingers, slowly gathered his hands into his sleeves, smiling, “No, your hands are dirty.”

Feng Zhiwei, who was taking a sip of wine, suddenly coughed.

“Master… I’m sorry… I’ll never pester you again…” The girl cried in the water, “Yin Er knows… I shouldn’t have liked you…”

And now, in the cold water of the winter night, she was suddenly reminded of the legendary man of prey, who was unfeeling and did not like fetters.

She soaked in the river on a winter’s night, shivering but afraid to call for help, afraid even to get out of the water herself.

Feng Zhiwei suddenly put down the wine pot.

She stood up and, not looking at the man, walked to the river and held out her hand to Yin’er.

Yin’er was still afraid but Feng Zhiwei smiled, “Come up, no one wants to kill you.”

When Feng Zhiwei pulled the wet woman out, she was not even wearing a blasphemous garment as her thin skirt and single garment had already been worn and her curves were exposed.

  Even if the comedienne herself didn’t mind being naked, she, being a woman, wouldn’t want to walk in front of the man like that.

  Yin Er looked at her with gratitude and whispered, “I’m at the Lanxiang Courtyard… Sister, if you need anything, you can come to me.”

  Feng Zhi smiled, patted her on the shoulder, the woman didn’t dare to look at the man again, wrapped up in her thin jacket and walked away.

  The cold wind blew and Feng Zhiwei, clad only in her single garment, shivered, hugging her shoulders against the river.

  A jug of wine was suddenly handed over.

  The fingers of the holder are long and clean, the posture steady, almost unchanging in their indifference.

Feng Zhiwei leaned over, looked at the wine and frowned. “Here is my drink”

A cloak was handed over.

“For your drink.”

Feng Zhiwei took it unceremoniously, “Then you lose.”

“No harm done.” The man smiled and his slightly upturned eyes instantly fawned like peach blossoms, “I learned a trick from you today and this will be used as repayment of sorts.”

Feng Zhiwei is silent, looking at the reflection of the man in the river, the man’s face is ever-changing, unpredictable, even his looks and temperament are changing day by day, when he first saw him, he was an elegant mountain scholar; when he pushed the woman into the river, he looked like a golden mandala but now he is smiling as brightly as a peach, almost charming.

   Such a person can only be described as dangerous.

Such a person can only be described as dangerous.

But the man, seemingly unaware of her thoughts, suddenly laughed, “It’s windy by this river, be careful of catching cold, let’s move to another place.”

Feng Zhiwei did not comment, followed him forward, turning ahead, a stone arch bridge suddenly appeared, the bridge was very tall but the surface was mottled, it seemed to have been abandoned.

They went up to the bridge, where the stone railing was made of whole stones, a good shelter from the wind and sat down on the ground.

Feng Zhiwei was startled because she was not used to sharing a pot of wine with a man and because she had never imagined that this man, who was a nobleman, would drink such coarse wine and that he would share wine with her even though he didn’t like people.

She thought, wiped the spout with her cuff and took a careful sip.

She thought he was going to be angry but he didn’t look at her, he just stared up at the sky, Feng Zhiwei looked up and realized that the bridge was very high and wide, from the bridge, not only could she see the cold moon but she could also see half of the imperial capital and the majestic imperial palace could be seen as far as she could see.

Feng Zhiwei swallowed the spicy wine slowly, her eyes a little bright and suddenly asked, “You seem to know this place very well.”

“This bridge was originally the first bridge in the Dacheng Imperial city, said to have been built for the Empress by the founding emperor of the Dacheng dynasty.” The man half closes his eyes and speaks slowly, “The Empress loved large things, so this bridge overlooks the land and is known as the greatest bridge in Dacheng.”

Feng Zhi smiled and said, “It’s beautiful.”

But in her heart, she didn’t think that such a man would be moved by the legends of the past.

“After the conquest of Dacheng, Tiansheng Emperor wielded an army into the capital, won the capital, renamed the Imperial Capital and decided the world, His Majesty received his old ministers in the capital for the first time, on this bridge, on that day, Dacheng’s old ministers were laid down like grass at the feet of our Emperor.”

The man’s tone was calm but he was proud and looked askance. Feng Zhiwei wiped the wine on his lips and suddenly felt a bit irritated, so he couldn’t help but smile and said, “Those who worship are just bloodstained swordsmen.”

When the man looked back, his gaze was like a knife and Feng Zhiwei looked at him openly, smiling softly in his knife-like gaze.

A long time ago, the man’s eyes narrowed and he even laughed, saying, “Yes, it’s only a matter of a king being a loser but these old subjects are lucky.”

Feng Zhiwei didn’t say a word, not even a bandit could do anything, so all she could do was die.

She smiled, pulling back to the topic, “This bridge is so beautiful, why did it end up being abandoned?”

“When the Emperor received the ladies of the Imperial Court into the capital, the favorite Princess Shaoning was carried to the bridge and suddenly burst into tears.”

“Three years later, on this very bridge,“ the man paused, took a sip from her flask, then said, “the Three Princes mutinied, attempting to force the palace and in that battle, the royal family lost three dead, four wounded and one crippled… and the bridge was abandoned. Since then, this bridge has been abandoned.”

The thrilling history of the battle between the royal families, from his words, a simple description but it seemed like an instant wind and blood storm, Feng Zhiwei suddenly felt a bit cold and tightened her cloak.

On this unusually high first bridge, once left the footprints of the former founding emperor and his wife and also rang the sad cry of the new prince, I wonder if the midnight hovering wind is still creeping with the immortal soul of the dead.

  And why does this sharp and mysterious man have such an unusual affection for this bridge?

  Did he know the bridge so well, that he used to wander on it in the middle of the night, when he had no sleep?

  But it had nothing to do with her and it was the oddity of life that she had drank and talked all night with a man she didn’t know: it was all because she was afraid of loneliness in a lonely moment and then she happened to meet someone else who was lonely.

  Just as he doesn’t ask why she’s here, she doesn’t ask about the loneliness and coldness in his eyes.

When the remaining wine was about to be finished, the sky was bright and Feng Zhiwei poured the last drop of wine from the jug in the first light of dawn and smiled: “The last drop of wine, to this lonely bridge.”

Then she stood up, slipped off her cloak with a flick of her wrist and went off the bridge without turning back.

  The first light of the morning shone through the snow on her shoulders, The slender maiden, her back straight.

The man sat still, watching her desperately go down the bridge, a flicker in his eyes and said a long while ago, “Ning Cheng, where do you think she’s going? Where do you think she is going?”

The normal-looking guards emerged from under the bridge cave, looking at Feng Zhiwei’s back seriously and said, “There are two possibilities, one is to break the boats and return to the residence to fight back for her expulsion; the other is to succumb and submit to the will of the Qiu Residence.”

He smiled, pointed to the fireworks behind him and said, “Anyway, she will go back at once and will not linger in this land of fireworks for long, for the moment longer she stays here, the more her reputation will be tarnished and she cannot play with her life.”

“Yes?” The man smiled, trailing off.

“Bet.” Ning Cheng came over in high spirits.

The man did not say anything, they stood on the bridge, saw the woman walking straight ahead, seemed to have a goal without hesitation, then stopped in front of a door with an orchid lantern, tied the man’s hair in a bun and then, simply knocked on the door.

  Ning Cheng’s face is blue.

  The woman’s face was slightly turned sideways, smiled at the person who opened the door and said something and the person inside seemed to freeze there, while Ning Cheng, who could read lips, far away from the bridge, stumbled violently.

  On the bridge, the man suddenly laughs.

  His dark jade-like pupils, shining with a new and sharp light, were like the long-silent abyss, blown in waves by the snowy wind from beyond the sky.

  He stood on the bridge in the red sun, the black cloak of pale gold mandalas flying in the wind, the cold wind blowing a distant whisper and he seemed to hear in the wind the frail maiden, calm and frantic, inquiring of the Brothel Madam of the Orchid House, who opened the door.

“Do you need a Turtle worker here?”

[1] Turtle Slave/servant/worker: this is a ridicule name for a man who used to work in a brothel. When prostitutes with small feet(bound feet) are called to accompany guests, they can only ask the male workers to carry the prostitutes to the hotel like a turtle carrying a stone tablet. These male workers who carry the prostitutes on their backs are called “turtle slaves.”

 

Prev: Chapter 6: Interest on a slap in the face

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Next: Chapter 8: The new turtle worker

 

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