Tai City, Nan Kingdom.
Tai City was situated near the south, adjacent to Er City which bordered Huang Kingdom. In the past, if you wanted to reach Er City, you had to pass Ge City then Yin City but 5 years ago, in the Ge City War, Huang Kingdom had managed to annex both cities as part of its kingdom.
“Well, we’re finally here, Tai City,” Feng Xi exclaimed as she peered up at the huge letterings of the plaque hanging above the city gates.
“Piao’er, hurry up. Let’s enter the city and have a meal,” Feng Xi turned around and called out to the delicate young master(shao ye) whose steps were heavy and sluggish.
“Do you have money to eat?” Han Piao asked in a weak voice as he stroked his empty stomach.
They had both cleaned up and tidied themselves. Now, only Han Piao looked a bit pale.
“Nope,” Feng Xi answered frankly, patting her empty pockets.
“How can we eat without money? Do you intend to steal?” Han Piao straightened his stance and candidly asked.
He shouldn’t be blamed for his rude remarks. Spending these past few days with Feng Xi, he realized that any abnormal behavior, to Feng Xi, was completely normal.
“Steal?” Feng Xi exclaimed, appalled. Shaking her head she said, “How can I steal, I’m Bai Feng Xi, I would never do such a thing!”
“You say you don’t steal? Didn’t you steal medicine from my family? If that’s not stealing, what is?” Han Piao asked with a long face.
Come to think of it, he once held great admiration for the heroes Bai Feng and Hei Xi. But now, having witnessed first hand their true nature, he felt that these so-called heroes were actually no different from rogues at times.
Feng Xi laughed and said, “Piao’er, regarding your family’s medicine, that was me being a good samaritan. As for today’s meal funds, I will find us some.”
“Just follow me,” Feng Xi said with a meaningful smile as she gazed into Han Piao’s eyes.
Han Piao only felt a chill on the back of his neck from the way she looked at him. His hairs stood on end, his intuition telling him that something was off.
“Come on, Piao’er, what are you doing?” Feng Xi pressed.
Left with no choice, Han Piao followed after her.
After turning two streets, they ended up on a busy road, crowded with people.
“Here we are,” Feng Xi asserted.
Hearing this, Han Piao looked up and saw the two big words on the plaque: Gambling House.
“This isn’t a restaurant, it’s a gambling house!” Han Piao exclaimed. Though Han Piao always ran and hid whenever he could when his teacher came to the house for a lesson, he still understood the meaning of the words ‘Jiu Tai’s Gambling House’.
(t/n Jiu means 9, and Tai means grand.)
“Of course I know it’s a gambling house.” Feng Xi knocked him on the head and pointed at the plaque and said, “I hear that Jiu Tai’s Gambling House is the largest gambling place in this city. There’s no swindling or bullying of the customers of any kind.”
“You want to earn money by gambling?” Han Piao asked after thinking for a moment. But there was no point in asking, of course this woman, world-acclaimed as a great martial artist could gamble. In the recent months that he’s spent with her, Han Piao was no longer a stranger to strange things.
“Piao’er, you’re not that stupid after all!” Feng Xi praised.
“You have no money, how can you make a wager?” Han Piao asked suspiciously. He was not deceived by her sweet words. Every time she praised him, he knew there was going to be danger.
“Who says I don’t have a wager?” Feng Xi’s lips curved into a sweet smile, a smile that looked somewhat like Fengxi’s.
(t/n since both the male and female have similar names, I think from now on, I’ll use Feng Xi to refer to the female (Bai Feng Xi) and Fengxi to refer to the male (Hei Fengxi))
Han Piao scanned her up and down, his eyes finally falling on the snow-white jade that was shaped in a crescent moon on her forehead.
“Do you intend to use this jade pendant as a wager? Or better yet, go pawn it at a pawnshop for some silver?” Han Piao asked. But she was known to have ‘snow-moon white robes’ and this pendant was her emblem. What if she were to lose? In this world, there was only one white jade moon pendant, just like Hei Fengxi’s black jade moon pendant.
“This thing…” Feng Xi’s fingertip caressed the jade moon pendant as she regretfully said, “This is a family heirloom, it can’t be used. Otherwise, I would have exchanged it for a meal a long time ago.”
“Then what do you intend to use as a wager?” Han Piao asked cautiously while taking three steps backwards. Along the way, whatever could be pawned, he has already pawned it off. In the end, he’s only left with a treasured dagger that was a family heirloom his father had given him. He couldn’t let her take it away to gamble. If she were to lose, in the future once he meets his father in the underworld, his father would surely scold and knock him on the head.
“Just follow me and you’ll see,” Feng Xi said as she stretched out her hand to grab a hold of him and drag him into the gambling house.
As soon as they entered the door, they were met with an unpleasant smell and rowdy hollers all around.
“Let’s play the simplest one,” Feng Xi said as he dragged Han Piao through the crowded room.
With one hand grabbed by Feng Xi, Han Piao could only use his other hand to cover his nose.
Though it was nearing the end of October and the weather was very cold, inside the gambling den it was quite stuffy since there were many people inside and all the doors had been closed save for the big one at the entrance. Han Piao has been a pampered child since young. These past few days he had been with Feng Xi, he’s had to eat and sleep on the streets but he had never come into contact with people of the lower class. Now, his ears were ringing with their rude remarks and curses, his sight taking in their greedy faces twisted with desire, his nose assaulted by their soury stench of sweat mixed with body odor from having not taken a bath for several days, if not months. Something surged within his chest and he immediately wanted to turn around and leave but his hand was held captive by Feng Xi and he couldn’t pry free.
Feng Xi dragged him left and right before finally managing to squeeze into the inner table.
“Quickly place your wager! Quickly! It’s about to open! It’s going to start!” the dealer shouted.
“My wager’s on Big!” Feng Xi said as she slammed her hand on the table.
Her voice was crisp and clear like the wind, startling everyone surrounding the gambling table as their gaze shifted from the table towards her.
For a moment, the gamblers could not distinguish between north and south, could not remember their parents, wives or children, and as if they had been whipped in the face with a bucket of water, they were startled awake, their red eyes fixed on the white-robed woman with long hair. She had a fresh, simple look to her like a lotus flower, her face clear and honest, untouched by worldly affairs, her eyes were radiant as the cold star and she had on a jesting smile making everyone wonder if they were lost in a dream. When exactly did this fairy fall from the sky?
“Hey! My wager’s on Big! Quickly open it!” Feng Xi said with a wave of her sleeve, sending a cool breeze across, stirring the dealer from his daze.
“Oh… Fairy… Miss… This… This is not a place where you should be,” The dealer recovered and said awkwardly.
“Why not?” Feng Xi waved her hand again and pointed at the surround people with her finger. “If they can all come, so can I. You should quickly open the hand.”
“Miss, this is not a place for women to come play,” someone next to her advised.
“Why is that?” Feng Xi asked as she swept her gaze across the man from the side of her eye. Seeing this, the man fell silent and lowered his head.
“Which laws in Eastern Realm states that a woman can’t gamble? Or is there a law in the south that doesn’t allow a woman to enter a gambling house?” Feng Xi questioned.
This…it was true that there was no explicit law that forbade women from gambling. The men around the table all had a sudden thought, that it was the first time they had ever seen a woman enter a gambling house and hollering a wager. It was truly a rare sight indeed!
“If there’s none then I can play!” Seeing the crowd silent, Feng Xi pointed at the dealer and said, “Hey, you, quickly open! I’ve been waiting for so long already!”
“This… Miss … What are you wagering?” the dealer asked helplessly.
“I’m wagering on that!” Feng Xi said.
“Miss, the dealer’s asking how much are you wagering,” someone next to her kindly explained.
“Oh that?” Feng Xi looked behind her and pulled Han Piao forward, exclaiming , “I’m wagering with him!”
Everyone was once again stunned. They never expected she would gamble with a living person as her wager.
“Sis…” Han Piao was equally shocked and angry. He was just about to scream when he suddenly lost his voice. She had sealed his accupoint.
“How much is this child worth?” Feng Xi asked the dealer with a smile.