Under the moonlight, Ling Miaomiao raised her head. Her complexion pale white, she stared at him with her pitiful-looking apricot eyes.
There was a dark and heavy emotion in her eyes, and upon first glance, it appeared quite terrifying.
”I…” She hesitantly opened her mouth, biting her lower lip as if she was embarrassed, “… couldn’t sleep.”
”Couldn’t sleep?” Mu Sheng crossed his arms. He didn’t try to pick apart her evasive answer and instead, merely smiled, “Oh, looks like you couldn’t sleep well.” He took a few steps forward, lowered his head to carefully scrutinize her face with a completely caring expression on his face. “Miss Ling, for you to be unable to sleep normally, is there something on your mind?”
Ling Miaomiao dodged his eyes as she silently cursed: Posing! The black lotus was posing again!
“As a matter of fact, there is. There is something on my mind.” She feebly nodded, playing along with Mu Sheng and agreeing.
“Does it have to do with Young Noble Liu?” His face curled into a fake smile as he glanced at Liu Fuyi’s window.
”Of course not.” Miaomiao sighed as she squatted down. “I couldn’t fall asleep so I wanted to find someone to talk to.” She raised her head to look at Mu Sheng and lowered her voice, “I didn’t think that you all had already gone to sleep and only the light in Brother Liu’s room was still lit. I had originally wanted to call out to him but I didn’t want to bother him either so I was hesitating.”
Mu Sheng’s watery pair of eyes sized her up. She couldn’t figure out what he was thinking. Unfortunately, there was a bottomless maelstrom behind those watery soft and wet eyes.
A moment later, he extended his hand and intimately put it on her shoulder. Ling Miaomiao subconsciously wanted to take a step back but wasn’t able to avoid him. He used some force and dexterously twirled her around. “That’s such a coincidence. I haven’t gone to sleep yet so let me accompany Miss Ling.”
Miaomiao let Mu Sheng kidnap her, forcefully bringing her far away from their living area. All the way, she followed him rigidly through the bluestone paved alleyways.
She thought to herself. Perhaps the black lotus was worried that she held ulterior motives toward Mu Yao. Thus, he wanted to lead her away leisurely to a remote location so he could destroy her corpse and remove all evidence.
“Cough uhm… Young Noble Mu, where are we going?”
At the current time, the soft song of the cicadas and the occasional ribbit of a frog from the pond could be heard. The moonlight shone down upon the lush grass like a layer of fuzzy pearl lights. A very light plum blossom fragrance wafted off of Mu Sheng’s cuffs, continually assaulting Miaomiao’s nose.
The night wind carried with it a small vestige of the evening chill. Mu Sheng’s voice was rather indifferent: “Taking a walk is beneficial to Miss Ling’s sleep.”
“Then you…” Miaomiao steadily lowered her head, trying to wiggle herself out of his shackles. “Do you have to take a walk with me like this?”
Mu Sheng let go of her, his hair lifted up by the wind. He spoke in a wronged tone as he rubbed his wrist, “I thought Miss Ling was familiar enough with me to steal food out of my bowl. I didn’t think you would be bothered with this level of frivolity.”
Ling Miaomiao was momentarily speechless. Mu Sheng cast a sidelong glance at her, “Or, is Miss Ling only alright with this level of intimacy with Young Noble Liu?”
”I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood.” Ling Miaomiao stuck close to him and hugged his arm. “To be honest, I don’t care about this sort of minor thing. Normally, I don’t dare display such a character, as I’m afraid of scaring you all.” She felt Mu Sheng’s body immediately turn rigid. Raising her head, she mocked, “Look, Young Noble Mu was scared, yes? ”
“Not at all.” Mu Sheng immediately controlled his expression and suppressed the gloominess that nearly spilled out. Then, he obediently let her hug his arm as they continued forward.
“It’s too cold outside.” Ling Miaomiao shivered from the windy night and brazenly pulled on Mu Sheng. “How about… Young Noble Mu come sit in my room?”
After she finished speaking, she felt her heart beating madly, as if she had just stolen something.
The mayor’s young miss had a very luxurious and large room. A silky soft persian rug covered the ground and even the canopy bed’s mesh was composed of multiple layers of muslin. The muslin was as thin as cicada wings and drifted along with the wind, just like clouds at the edge of the horizon.
Several lanterns hung from the ceiling like stars of fire. Against the walls were more, lower-placed candles. There was one every few steps and the whole room was lit as bright as day.
There was also an exquisite six-sided stained glass lamp on the table. It was placed beside a go board, giving each and every black go piece a sheen of warm veneer. 1 Go: Ancient chinese game that has a simple premise but a difficult depth to play with. In layman terms, a complicated version of tic tac toe lol. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
Mu Sheng’s long lashes were slightly lowered, its shadow falling upon his glistening white face. He had stared at the go board for a long time now and his brows were subconsciously knitting. He was unconsciously rolling a go piece between his perfectly trimmed fingernails.
Ling Miaomiao pulled back her sleeve and only pondered for a few seconds before making a decision with a ‘thunk’.
Mu Sheng immediately wrinkled his brows, “Miss Ling…” He had only spoken halfway before he forced his clenched forehead to relax. He lightly took a breath of air and continued playing.
When Ling Miaomiao once again raised her hand, she felt Mu Sheng stare nervously at her hand. Seeing his forbearing expression, she wanted to laugh inside.
The moment she made her move, he finally couldn’t hold back his harsh tone, “Miss Ling… do you not know how to play go?”
“Not really.” Miaomiao smiled apologetically.
Not really? She was a complete farce! The fiery anger in Mu Sheng’s heart seemed to have found a plain full of dried vegetation as it spread wildly. He took a glance at the waterclock2Waterclock: Ancient way of telling time at night. Not entirely sure how they work… and found that it was already midnight.
He knew that she had problems with her brain. Not sleeping all night long and purposely finding people to mess around with. He was also sick in the brain for accompanying her in playing around.
“Young Noble Mu, don’t be angry.” Miaomiao glanced at the coldness in Mu Sheng’s eyes as she softly apologized. “I’m not good at traditional Go either, but…” She pointed at the go board, “Why don’t you take a closer look?”
Mu Sheng unhappily glanced at the goboard. He had seriously thought it over, slowly and cautiously playing his pieces whilst she played per pieces like a wild horse let loose. No matter how he looked at it, he couldn’t see any reasoning behind them.
“Watch for a moment…” Her hand followed the white pieces on the go board before carefully reminding him with: “They line up into a skewer.”
“Mhm, I can see it.” Mu Sheng strenuously pressed down on his anger as he looked at her coldly with a near frigid smile on his face.
Only idiots would line up their pieces into a skewer.
”Let me explain it to you, this is the most trendy way of playing in our Taicang County. It’s just as interesting as your style of play.” Miaomiao smiled at him, “Whoever can line up 5 in a row wins. It’s called Five-In-A-Row.”
Legends has it that ‘Nuwa created man, Fuxi created Go.’ Five-In-A-Row was the predecessor of Go from the era of the Xingyu Sage. Our ancestors all played this and all the people loved it. Although it was not as high-end as Go, no one could belittle its importance in history. She wasn’t talking nonsense, Mu Sheng just didn’t know. She could only say that Mu Sheng was an ignorant inexperienced youth.
Mu Sheng stared at her face, slightly stumped.
He was considered as an embarrassing existence in the Mu family… other than his adoptive parents giving him food and clothes, there hadn’t been anyone who took the initiative to care about him. Most of his skill was taught to him by his sister. Mu Yao was the Demon Hunter world’s eldest daughter of the Mu family. She had heavy responsibilities, she woke up early and returned late, hard at work for many hours everyday. She had to learn every possible thing and she also lived up to expectations.
Mu Yao loved to play Go but sadly her father and mother were busy with hunting demons. She was full of theories and lacked an opponent.
It was she who quietly taught Mu Sheng. The brother and sister would often compete and improve their go skills.
He only knew one way of playing go, the way Mu Yao had taught him.
“Why are you watching me?” Miaomiao laughed, “Don’t believe me?”
Mu Sheng turned to stare at the go board: “It’s my first time hearing of it.”
Miaomiao pushed all the pieces on the board off, “Don’t look down upon Five-In-A-Row. It looks simple but it actually requires a lot of wisdom.” She paused thoughtfully and then asked, “Mu Sheng. Are you very good at Go?”
”…” The youth was silent.
In the Mu family, he was a disposable object and everyone bullied him. However, what others didn’t know was that no matter what field, as long as he could touch them, he would crazily absorb all sorts of knowledge like a thirsty little sprout. Thinking of any way to rapidly increase his strength and make himself perfect.
Go was the same. Especially since he was taught Go personally by his sister.
At the start, he would always lose. Later on, Mu Yao was no longer able to defeat him. However, he would rarely win against his sister. Most of the time, he would meticulously plan his loss.
Mu Yao disliked his bizarre way of playing Go and didn’t like his unscrupulous manners in search of victory. Since his sister didn’t like his methods, he just didn’t win. He was willing to pretend to be a naive and dim youth. Pretending to be bashful and cute when he pleaded with Mu Yao: “Sis… I don’t know how to continue playing.”
When that happened, Mu Yao would show a helpless smile and pat his head: “Nope, you have to continue.”
“But I’ll lose. Sister, you’re about to win.”
Mu Yao would then stiffen her face: “You can’t give up just because you’re afraid of losing. Come Ah Sheng, play.”
To be honest, he not only knew how to lose, he also knew how to let Mu Yao win without a hint of what was going on.
However, he hadn’t played Go with Mu Yao in a very long time. It was because Liu Fuyi was also a mid-tier expert. He was the person his sister admired the most, his style was upright and steady. The two of them played often and were evenly matched.
Mu Sheng’s eyes grew darker.
Miaomiao saw several traces of his face turning overcast and was hit by a surge of regret for speaking.
Looking at his expression, she thought that things went wrong. Why didn’t she know how to play Go? Unable to see an exit, the black lotus strenuously played such a long time with her, letting her mess with him…
She suddenly felt remorseful inside.
“… I said just now that Five-In-A-Row looks easy but is actually quite difficult.” She smoothly changed the topic although she felt guilty inside. “No matter how good Young Noble Mu is at Go, you might not be able to dominate me at Five-In-A-Row.”
She organized the pieces, giving herself the black pieces and pushed the white pieces over to him. “Let’s play a round?”
Mu Sheng looked at the box of white pieces in front of him and frowned, “We’re swapping pieces?”
“Yep.” Ling Miaomiao curled up her eyes, and picked up a glossy white piece to display to him. The fire from the lantern reflected in her eyes, looking like two small moons. “This is a cloud. It’s color is like a soft tooth. It’s white like Young Noble Mu, very good looking.”
Mu Sheng: “…”
It was already late into the night, when the night was the darkest and all creatures asleep.
The lights in Ling Miaomiao’s room were still bright and Mu Sheng sat face to face with her.
“Mu Sheng, you lose!”
”Mu Sheng you lost again!”
“Don’t let me win! Play properly, don’t always let me win!”
Mu Sheng slowly uttered: “…Again.”
When he grew tired, he started sizing up Miaomiao across him. A strand of hair that fell down was roughly brushed behind her ear. Her body was tilted forward and both of her eyes were staring intensely at the goboard. A while later, her eyes lit up like a cat seeing a rat, her body arching up to suddenly leap and capture her prey.
”Mu Sheng look, look! You lost again!” She was unable to contain her joy, her expression carried with it a bit of crafty schadenfreude.
He glanced downwards and sure enough, from within the disorderly amalgamation of pieces on the board, he found the obscure line of continuous black pieces.
Mu Sheng wrinkled his brows and complained: “My eyes have gone bad.”
“My eyes have gone bad too!” She was basking in bliss, completely besides herself in joy with a grin on her face: “Then why could I still find it?”
Mu Sheng was left speechless. He suddenly remembered a phrase from when he wandered around, which basically went like this: If you want to make friends with a man, drink with him; If you want to make friends with a woman, play a game with her. This saying wasn’t definite; There were some women, if you played a few rounds of Go with them, wouldn’t even call out ‘Young Noble Mu” anymore.
It was around 1-3 in the morning and Ling Miaomiao’s black circles were at their peak. Still, she was energetic and passionate like fire. This sort of psychotic excitement clearly infected Mu Sheng as well. The few wisps of sleep he felt dissipated into nothing.
“Ling Yu.” Mu Sheng also started calling her.
“Don’t call me Ling Yu.” Miaomiao’s face fell, “Sounds terrible.”
Ling Yu, was she not locked up for an eternity in this body?
Mu Sheng completely threw away his courteous facade as he raised his brow, “Miss Ling sounds somewhat awkward to say.”
“Call me by my nickname, Miaomiao.”
“…” He hesitated and didn’t immediately call it out. Somehow, someway, delirious from lack of sleep, for god knows what reason, he followed up with this sentence: “I also have a courtesy name, Ziqi.”
 Go: Ancient chinese game that has a simple premise but a difficult depth to play with. In layman terms, a complicated version of tic tac toe lol. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
 Waterclock: Ancient way of telling time at night. Not entirely sure how they work…