An evening breeze blew by; the leaves of the parasol trees covering the mountains rustled, casting shadows with the remaining light of dusk as if drawing open the curtains to a very long, yet beautiful dream.
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When one wanted to cross the Yellow River, it would be frozen over with ice; when one wanted to ascend the Taihang mountains, the passage would have long since been sealed by a vast expanse of snow.
The azure sky extended for as far as one could see. The summit of Taihang mountains was covered with snow all year round, merged into one with the floating clouds drifting through the horizon. This place was beyond the reach of ordinary birds; only a few white falcons hovered high up in the sky, facing the bitingly cold gales as they turned into several black spots that dotted the dark blue sky.
A giant bird clutched a bundle wrapped in cloth in its claws. It flew through the clouds, spreading its wings wide as it did so. In the twilight, golden rays of light reflected off its feathers when it swooped down and flew towards the cloud enveloping the top of the mountains. After breaking through the clouds, dazzling palaces appeared in the middle of the Taihang mountains, surrounded by several mountain peaks. The outer walls of the palaces looked like they had been dyed with a layer of red flames in the dusk.
Snow never accumulates within the palaces all year round, instead the grounds were filled with verdant parasol trees. It seemed like midsummer under the splendid sunshine. An evening breeze blew by; the leaves of the parasol trees covering the mountains rustled, casting shadows with the remaining light of dusk as if drawing open the curtains to a very long, yet beautiful dream.
The giant bird landed on the platform outside the main palace. Accompanied by a prolonged cry that echoed through the mountains, it shook open its glittering plumage with a whoosh that seemed to cover the earth, then drew the wings back to its body again. When the plumes that filled the sky dispersed completely a tall, young man appeared in its midst.
The man was nearly nine chi tall; he had distinct facial features and dark gold glinted within his pitch black eyes. His upper body □□, well defined muscles rippling down his abdomen while his skin was tinted bronze from head to toe. He wore a black monarch skirt embroidered with golden patterns that fluttered freely in the wind. He held a bundle in his hands as he walked slowly towards the main palace.
The palace was filled with young men and women who were walking through. When they saw the man, all of them immediately fell to their knees.
"King Qing Xiong."
The skirt of the man called "Qing Xiong" billowed out behind him as he passed through the atrium that was filled with parasol trees, making his way deeper into the main palace. Night quietly fell. The lamps were not yet lit in the main palace. Amidst the natural light shining in, there were three thrones located high up in the palace: two were empty, and a red-haired man dressed in an equally vibrant red garment sat on the middle throne.
His crimson hair seemed just like a blazing flame. His royal robe appeared to be a dazzling reddish-gold even within the dark room, as if a glorious morning sky was flowing through the luxurious material. A long, blazing plume that extended from his belt sat heavily across the ground. The royal robe on his upper body hung loosely from his shoulders, exposing his fair skin and powerful muscles.
When he heard the sound of footsteps, he looked up, and his eyes met with Qing Xiong's.
He was the king of this palace, and the ruler of the snow region and firmament. Very few people in the world knew about the revered name "Chong Ming" now; close to two hundred years had flown by, the dynasties of the Divine Land had changed, and its former fame had vanished without a trace from history long ago.
He had a handsome face, blade-like eyebrows, and naturally radiated a dignified and stately air. A burn scar could be seen on his neck, the swollen skin extending all the way down below one of his ears.
After a prolonged silence, Qing Xiong finally spoke.
"When Kong Xuan died, he left you an orphan to raise."
"How did he die?" Chong Ming asked coldly.
Qing Xiong shook his head very slowly, and the palace fell deathly silent.
"I won't raise the progeny of him and some human," Chong Ming said indifferently. "Go to the Sacrificial Cliff in the back mountains and find some place to throw it away."
Qing Xiong lowered himself on one knee and put down the bundle in his hands. When the wrap landed, it gradually grew larger and opened up. The four corners embroidered with lotus patterns emitted a dull luster, and when it was fully opened a boy appeared in the cloth.
The boy lay curled up on his side. He had beautiful features, but wore a ragged sackcloth robe around his petite body, his small chest rising and falling with every breath. He held something in his hands, and his curled up posture looked like his attempt to protect the important item in his arms.
"In terms of human age, he's four years old now," Qing Xiong continued.
Chong Ming watched the child quietly.
Qing Xiong picked up the child. When he held the boy in his arms, the child wriggled out of discomfort.
"He looks just like his father when he was little," Qing Xiong said.
With the child in his arms, he moved up the steps and stopped in front of Chong Ming. He whispered, "Look -- eyes, eyebrows."
Chong Ming didn't change his reply. "I said, kill it."
Qing Xiong handed the child to Chong Ming. Chong Ming didn't accept him, so Qing Xiong placed the boy against the man's body. The child moved again, as if he was waking up from a deep sleep. He felt Chong Ming's bare, yet warm chest and inadvertently grabbed onto the royal robe. At the same time, the item in his hand slipped out -- it was a green peacock feather.
"Give him a name. I'm leaving." Qing Xiong moved away from the throne.
"Where are you going?" Chong Ming asked icily. "You're leaving him by my side, but when I think of that woman I'll kill him."
"Up to you." Qing Xiong turned to face Chong Ming as he took a few steps backwards. "Di Renjie's time is up. The human world is gradually becoming a land of yaos. The time for Mara's revival is at hand, I must discover the truth behind Kong Xuan's death."
"And I'll be going now."
After he spoke, Qing Xiong leapt up, unfurled his wings in the air and turned into the giant black bird. With a flap of his wings, he let out a prolonged cry as he flew out of the palace and into the night sky.
When the child heard Qing Xiong's cry, he suddenly awoke.
The peacock feather made of jasper stone slipped off Chong Ming's royal robe and landed on the floor, making "ding, ding" sounds as it bounced off the ground and rolled down the steps.
The child's eyes turned to his hands. He realised that he was grabbing Chong Ming's royal robe, and when he looked up, he saw Chong Ming's gaze.
A teardrop fell onto the child's face. With a bewildered expression, he reached out and caressed Chong Ming's face, helping him wipe away the tears.
"Who are you?" the child asked timidly.
Hebei, Youzhou platform; bloody maple leaves swirled through the sky. One man and one woman stood in front of a building; the man was dressed in a blue gown while the woman looked beautiful and alluring. They leaned against the parapet as they overlooked the grandiose mountains and rivers.
"O Heaven and Earth, how boundless and without end! I'm all alone, down my cheeks tears keep rolling on," The man dressed in a blue gown casually uttered. "Bo Yu truly is an unorthodox genius."
"Why are you in such a refined mood all of a sudden?" The woman stood behind him and said leisurely, "After Di Renjie's death, the human world will gradually become a land of yaos."
"There's no need to be too anxious," the man in the blue gown muttered. "We still don't know if that old fart has any other back-up plans. How's the preparation for Mara's host going?"
The beautiful woman replied, "The host this time is perfectly willing so the merger has been extremely smooth, but we still need to observe for some time. Speaking of which, aren't you afraid of stirring up trouble after killing Kong Xuan? What if that man on Taihang mountains stages a comeback…"
"If he wanted to come, he would've done so long ago." The man chuckled. "Fortune was on the east bank thirty years ago, but it turns to the west after thirty years has passed; the golden age of Yaojin Palace has passed. Chong Ming is trapped by the flame poison, otherwise he wouldn't have had to retire two hundred years ago. Now, Chang'an belongs to both you and me."
The music of a Sizhu travelled over from afar. He approached the beautiful woman, smoothed down the hair at her temples and studied her face. He whispered, "Let's go, His Majesty is still waiting."
Twelve years later, in Yaojin Palace at the summit of Taihang mountains, the sun shone brightly in midsummer and a motley of parasol tree shadows swept past like meteors.
A young man wore a short and sleeveless gown in dark red. A robe embroidered with green patterns was tied at his waist, just like a piece of beautiful jade. He sat on the branch of a parasol tree as he blended a bowl of white pollen in his hands. From time to time, his lively eyes would look into the main palace through the open windows.
Within the main palace, the gauze curtains fluttered in the wind. Chong Ming lay against the royal couch as he looked out at the mountains bathed in sunshine.
"Shh…" The young man called Hong Jun raised his finger as he looked down.
The one who had called out was actually a carp yao that had both hands and feet. The yao looked extremely strange; its body was the torso of a carp nearly two chi long while two human legs covered in body hair grew out from its torso so it could stand. Two hands emerged from behind its fins, currently hugging the parasol tree as it cried out.
"Come down, quick." The fish yao's mouth was opening and closing as it spat out a few bubbles. The fish tail wagged as it urged, "You don't know how to fly, if you fall and hurt yourself His Majesty will hit people!"
After blending the pollen, Hong Jun whispered downward, "Father has been sitting inside for the whole day without wanting to see anyone. He'll lose his temper if anyone goes in."
"He's waiting for someone," the carp yao replied. "His Majesty isn't in a good mood today."
Hong Jun finished blending the pollen in his hands and asked, "Who is he waiting for?"
The carp yao hemmed and hawed. Hong Jun jumped down from the tree and quickly walked around the main palace. Along the way, wherever the young man passed by in Yaojin Palace, everyone would bow and call him "Your Highness". Hong Jun would nod in response. After arriving at the back of the main palace, Hong Jun threw out a hook, flew up, and landed on top of the roof.
He crouched low, silently moving across the palace to the roof above Chong Ming. He quietly lifted the glazed roof tiles, and with the medicine bowl in hand, he blew on it gently.
The medicinal powder flew out from the bowl like it was alive and glowed with a white light as drifted into the room. The carp yao turned sideways and watched from a distance outside the main palace.
Chong Ming faced the lofty Taihang mountains as he dozed off on the couch. The crimson mark on his neck flashed. Pollen flew over, surrounding Chong Ming as it seemed to form a galaxy of light particles that gradually clung to the crimson mark and formed a layer of frost over it.
The carp yao's mouth opened a little wider.
Along with Chong Ming's even breaths, a little bit of the pollen was suddenly breathed in. Chong Ming suddenly opened his eyes and his expression turned extremely strange.
I succeeded! Hong Jun thought to himself. He jumped down from the main palace and observed Chong Ming with the carp yao, only to see Chong Ming stand up in a hurry and observe his surroundings. His facial features twitched as he looked out of the palace.
"Father…" Hong Jun was delighted, and just when he was about to call out, Chong Ming abruptly turned around.
"AH… CHOO!" Along with the earth-shattering sneeze from Chong Ming, a fireball the size of a carriage instantly burst out from within the main palace and shot straight towards the mountains outside with immense destructive force. It hit the mountainside with a loud rumble.
The mountains shook; within Yaojin Palace, the attendants instantly shouted in panic.
"It's an earthquake!"
Another fireball shot out and destroyed one of the white jade pillars of the main palace. Hong Jun let out a loud cry, then grabbed the carp yao and lunged into the atrium to hide in the pond.
"Ah choo, ah choo! Ah choo!"
Chong Ming sneezed three times in a row. Fireballs burst out and set the parasol trees in the atrium ablaze, and within an instant, the entire Yaojin Palace transformed into a sea of fire.
"There's fire! Put it out!"
A fireball fell into the atrium pond. The carp yao instantly wailed in anguish, "It's so hot ah!" Before anyone could register anything, Hong Jun grabbed the carp yao and climbed out of the pond. He scurried around under crumbling parasol trees that had caught on fire, then threw it over the wall before turning around and running towards Chong Ming.
"Father!" Hong Jun ran into the main palace. There was already blazing fire alight within the room. Chong Ming covered his mouth and nose, glanced at Hong Jun, and Hong Jun quickly said, "Father! I wanted to help you…"
Chong Ming immediately turned around and unexpectedly sucked in a breath of air. He couldn't hold it back anymore this time -- flames that could blot out the sky exploded out with a blast that turned the entire main palace into a blazing ocean. Smoldering flames surrounded Hong Jun on all sides, yet Chong Ming darted towards him and suddenly pulled the boy to his chest for protection.
A phoenix cry pierced through the sky. Before anyone could react, multi-coloured wings unfurled from Chong Ming's back to defend Hong Jun and himself from the fire. It emitted a chrome yellow light; under the sacred protection of the phoenix, one wouldn't lose even a strand of hair on their body even if they were submerged in lava. Both of their garments were burnt until not a single thread was left, revealing their naked bodies.
Hong Jun turned around to look at his surroundings; Yaojin Palace's main palace was already set ablaze by the Sacred Fire of Samadhi.
Birds flew over from all directions, bringing along with them the accumulated snow within the Taihang mountains. From bottom to top, they rushed towards the summit like a waterfall in reverse and whistled through the air as they filled up the interior of Yaojin Palace. The blizzard drowned out the flames in an instant before melting away.
Two hours later, black stains could still be seen on Hong Jun's face as he stood outside the study.
The ruler hit his palm and Hong Jun cried out in pain.
"How many times does that make this?!" Chong Ming had changed into regular clothes and he held a ruler in hand. He said coldly, "Tell me!"
Hong Jun hemmed and hawed. Chong Ming hit him with the ruler again, and Hong Jun cried out again.
"Do you want to burn yourself to death?" Chong Ming chided angrily. "Stand in the front yard until it's dark, otherwise you're not allowed to eat!"
Chong Ming hit him for the third time, and he hit him particularly hard, which even made Hong Jun's tears fly out.
"Get your ass over there to face the wall!" Chong Ming shouted angrily.
So Hong Jun could only hang his head as he walked across the yard to face a wall. The carp scratched the scales on its body and followed after. It squatted beside Hong Jun, then turned its head sideways to scoop up some of the melted snow in the yard to drink.
Chong Ming was utterly enraged. He had to suffer such an unexpected calamity even though he was just lying down at home. When he walked out of the courtyard, he whistled and birds began flying over from all directions, carrying away the burnt branches and rubble with their beaks.
"I told you not to mess around," the carp yao said by his side. "How many times does that make this? Your Father was originally in a bad mood today too."
"How would I know that he'd sneeze?" Hong Jun protested. "I searched painstakingly for three years just to find this snow lotus powder!"
"All of them already said," the carp yao answered. "Your father's flame poison can't be cured, stop tormenting yourself!"
Hong Jun stopped talking. He stood in front of the wall as his punishment, and after standing for awhile, he shifted his weight to his other leg, then shifted again and was a little bored. So he started studying the burnt gray marks on the courtyard's wall. It looked like a landscape painting, so Hong Jun reached out and wiped it a bit to make out the outline of the mountain. He was greatly satisfied and thought it seemed quite like a splash-ink painting.
"Your father will scold you again if your hand is dirty!" The carp yao reminded.
Hong Jun quickly answered, "I'll wash my hands before eating."
In the afternoon, black smoke was still curling around the main palace. The embers were still warm; snow had melted everywhere and the ground was a mess. When Chong Ming saw this scene, he really felt like weeping but had no tears.
The cry of a bird travelled over. A giant black bird covered in golden light flew towards the summit of the Taihang mountains. When it landed, it turned into Qing Xiong, who was stunned when he walked past the atrium.
"Why is this place in such a state?" Qing Xiong asked, astounded. He called a young attendant over and asked, "Did an enemy come by?"
The attendant did not dare to answer and only said that His Majesty Chong Ming was waiting in a side palace, so Qing Xiong turned around and entered the side yard.
"Qing Xiong!" A cheer sounded.
Before he could even take a few steps, Hong Jun had already pounced over and hugged Qing Xiong's neck, his whole body riding on the man's back.
In light of the Tianbao Donghua PV that was just released, I was very hyped up and ended up translating a quick teaser chap. If anyone is interested in picking this up, please contact me on Discord @Zryuu#6056! In the meantime, I’ll be updating the novel at least once a month until someone picks it up.
Tianbao Fuyao Lu’s Donghua PV here!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.