Two people strolled through the streets all day, but it felt strange. It was like they had bought these things, but not everything.
As evening approached, Di Yiqiu said, “There’s a clever-tongued pavilion in the inner city that specializes in telling mysterious biographies, including yours. Shall I take you there to listen?”
Sounds good. Huang Rang was quite curious—everyone wants to know how they appear in the eyes of others. Moreover, Huang Rang was not always indifferent to fame and fortune.
Di Yiqiu pushed her, and they made their way to the story-telling shop.
It was a two-story building that resembled a tea shop inside, offering drinks and refreshments.
As soon as Di Yiqiu entered, someone approached and said, “Master, how come you have some free time today?”
“Just passing by,” Di Yiqiu casually replied as he lifted Huang Rang. The person immediately helped with the wheelchair and followed behind. Di Yiqiu carried Huang Rang and ascended the winding staircase, arriving at an elegant seat.
The seat was conveniently positioned facing the storyteller’s platform in the middle.
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She looked at Di Yiqiu, who sat down beside her, took her hand, and began using a small chisel to… scrape her nails!
“What are you doing?!”
Huang Rang wished she could retract her hand, but at that moment, the curtain on the storyteller’s platform was drawn open. The scholar in the long robe had already taken his seat.
With a clap, the scholar on the stage stood up and began his storytelling. He recited a few lines of an introductory poem, and Huang Rang suddenly became excited. She no longer cared about Di Yiqiu scraping her nails.
“Oh well, let it be.”
“Today, we will speak of ‘The Biography of Huang Rang.’ Do you all know that two hundred and twenty years ago, there was an extraordinary woman named Huang Rang in Xiancha Town?” The scholar’s words were clear, and his pace was neither fast nor slow. “Huang Rang was born in humble circumstances, and her father, Huang Shu, held no prestige among the earth spirits. He had dozens of other children. Now you may wonder, How did a rural girl, a weak woman, rise to fame and become renowned throughout the world, praised by the Immortal Sect as the “Mysterious Transcendent Fairy”? And how did she marry into the Yuhu Immortal Sect and become the wife of the sect’s master? Dear listeners, don’t be impatient. Allow me to tell the tale today!”
While listening to the story, Huang Rang lowered her gaze and glanced at her own hand.
Di Yi Qiu was trimming her nails for her.
Huang Ran always cherished her nails, believing that a woman’s beauty starts with her hands, and the beauty of hands begins with the nails. Therefore, she had studied various patterns that could be painted on her fingertips.
Now she had forgotten what designs adorned her fingertips. But after ten years, whatever had been painted on them must have faded long ago, just like herself.
Di Yiqiu carefully trimmed and shaped all ten of her fingers, then prepared the colors and began painting her nails. So you have this skill too? Huang Rang couldn’t see what he was painting and sighed, but she hoped his taste in nail art was good.
“Now, let’s talk about Huang Rang’s childhood, when she was clever and showed exceptional talents beyond ordinary people. Not only was she exceptionally beautiful, but she could also compose poetry and essays. Her talent began to emerge at a young age.” The scholar on stage continued his storytelling.
However, Huang Rang listened with great embarrassment. What nonsense! She was incredibly clumsy and small in her childhood, often bullied by her siblings. But after receiving some discipline, even if she is a little earth spirit, she became clever naturally and was no longer clumsy.
“In the early years of Chengyuan, the Astronomical Bureau predicted a severe drought in the following year in Yuzhou. The court sent people to Xiancha Town to seek assistance from Huang Shu, requesting that he cultivate drought-resistant grain seeds. Huang Shu immediately refused. Please think about it: even if the roots and sprouts of crops are drought-resistant, they still need water to grow. Can there be crops that can flower and bear fruit in a drought-ridden land? Obviously, it defies the natural order and is impossible.” The scholar shook his head as he spoke, and the audience below listened attentively.
Someone whispered, “I know Huang Rang. We have the orchids she personally cultivated in our home.”
The scholar on the stage actually heard it and immediately said, “Orchids came later. At that time, Huang Rang was still young, but she readily accepted the task. The imperial envoy saw her youth and doubted her reliability, intending to find another renowned expert. However, this young Huang Rang unexpectedly said, “If I can’t do it, then no one in the world can. There is no need for Your Excellency to find someone else.”
Oh… oh. Huang Rang finally remembered this incident.
“And what do you think happened in the end?” The storyteller teased, arousing the curiosity of the audience.
The storyteller took a sip of water and continued, “Although this Miss Huang Rang knew the task was difficult, she also understood that it would benefit the people and leave a lasting legacy. After taking on this heavy responsibility, she didn’t step out of her house for the next six months. Day after day, she contemplated and pondered, neglecting sleep and food.”
If Huang Rang wasn’t in this state, she would have definitely laughed out loud.
What the heck! In the beginning, the court promised her a hefty sum of money, and she didn’t want to lose this business opportunity, so she took on the task.
The court was pressuring her, and Huang Rang couldn’t afford to optimize further, so she handed over a type of millet seed. This thing is drought-resistant because its leaves are thick and store water from birth. Even if the land cracks for miles, it can grow and produce seeds with the water inside it. But… this thing tastes absolutely terrible.
During times of famine, people relied on it to stave off hunger, and usually it was used as animal feed.
“After six months, Miss Huang Rang truly lived up to expectations and cultivated a type of millet. This rice plant is short, has thick leaves, and is not only drought-resistant but also has extremely high yields. When the court received these seeds and distributed them to the people for immediate sowing, it unexpectedly led to a public outcry. ” The storyteller’s voice rose and fell like pearls and jade.
Huang Rang understood very well. After working so hard to cultivate this thing, even I would curse.
This thing is so coarse and rough that it’s hard to swallow. Even the highest-ranking officials would be afraid of scratching their throats.
“The millet is rough and hard to swallow. The people blamed Huang Rang, and even the court officials wrote to the emperor, requesting punishment for Huang Rang’s crime. But Miss Huang Rang remained silent about it,” the storyteller sighed.
– This is truly absurd. Of course, I can’t say anything! Because I know too well how awful that thing tastes! It’s simply not something humans should eat. Even if you fed it to a donkey, they would want to fast. The court spent so much money, and in the end, they got this thing. What more is there to say if I get some criticism? Huang Rang was speechless.
“Little did they know that the following year, the severe drought arrived as predicted! The people quickly discovered that all their crops withered and died, except for the millet cultivated by Miss Huang Rang, which not only survived but thrived! In the extreme water shortage, the roots, leaves, and stems of that millet saved countless lives,” the storyteller said with deep emotion.
Huang Rang was also deeply moved by this… Who could have predicted that? The roots and leaves of the millet… Did they not get stomachaches from eating that thing? As far as I know, later on it was used as fodder, right?
Huang Rang felt embarrassed listening to the praise in the following passage.
– This place is good. But Next time, I will not allow you to come here again.
Di Yiqiu was still painting her nails, one by one, with extreme care. Many people had already glanced over in their direction, but he paid no attention.
After a long segment of praise, the storyteller began to talk about Huang Rang’s cultivation of the medicinal herb Bitter Lotus. Previously, trauma medicine was scarce, expensive, and had limited effectiveness. Huang Rang cultivated Bitter Lotus for the White Bone Cliff, greatly enhancing its medicinal properties. And since Bitter Lotus could be harvested three times a year, its price naturally became more affordable.
– The one who should be praised is clearly Miao Yunzhi. He’s the one who paid the money. Huang Rang was speechless.
Next, the storyteller talked about the cultivation of Plum Blossoms for the purpose of expressing love and wishes for safety. Plum Blossoms have always been associated with romantic relationships. Of course, when mentioning Plum Blossoms, one cannot avoid talking about another person.
The storyteller then said, “Miss Huang Rang’s unity with her siblings, filial piety towards her father, diligence, and simplicity have earned her a great reputation, catching the attention of someone. This person is none other than the current Patriarch of the Yuhu Immortal Sect, Xie Hongchen.”
Unity with siblings? When Huang Rang heard this part, she wanted to burst into laughter. But as she listened further, she fell silent. Xie… Xie Hongchen…
“At that time, Xie Hongchen had just assumed the position of the Sect Patriarch and was in his prime. When he heard of Miss Huang Rang’s fame, he immediately went to Xiancha Town to propose to her father.” The storyteller’s voice gradually became more spirited, sounding somewhat excited.
“Miss Huang Rang, with her beauty and intelligence, is she not a perfect match for the Patriarch of the First Profound Sect? Naturally, no one opposed this union… It is rumored that on the day Xie Hongchen left Xiancha Town, Miss Huang Rang reluctantly bid him farewell for ten miles. In the end, she presented him with a branch of Plum Blossom that she had personally cultivated and named it ‘Nian Jun’an’. “
Listening to the storyteller on stage narrate some seemingly fictional events, it sounded nothing more than the pairing of a beauty and a talented scholar. But who can truly understand the hearts and calculations of the people outside the story? Who can discern the true intentions hidden behind the dust?
Di Yiqiu finally finished painting Huang Rang’s nails. He lifted her hand a little higher, bringing them into Huang Rang’s view, and asked, “Do you like it?”
Huang Rang glanced at her nails. He had trimmed them a bit shorter, painted the base with a silver powder color, and drawn maple leaves on top with an orange-gold color. Each nail had only half a leaf. The edges of the leaves were outlined with tiny pearls. Those pearls were too small—not even the size of half a grain of rice when combined.
It’s really difficult for him. Such tiny pearls, and yet they have to be consistent in size and similar in color. I really don’t know how he managed to find them.
But they look very beautiful, and she likes them a lot.
He gently blew her fingertips dry and said, “Your hands are truly beautiful.”
Of course, it’s a pity that I can’t move right now. Otherwise, I wouldn’t mind sharing the recipe for hand care with you. This recipe was personally…
Forget it… Forget it. Eager to share, but in the end, Huang Rang was left speechless in her heart.
The storyteller on stage rambled on and finally reached the end of the story.
“This Miss Huang Rang, though she is a legend, after marrying into the Immortal Sect, it has become rare to see the excellent varieties she personally cultivated in the market. The title of Sect Mistress highlights her status but has neglected her talents. Now, she has been bedridden for ten years and has never appeared in public. Closing the book and sighing in the story, it is regrettable that the Immortal Sect gained one more mistress while the mortal world lost a renowned figure.”
Ah… Huang Rang took this storytelling episode as entertainment, but she didn’t expect such a conclusion.
In a daze, she suddenly remembered the dream where Di Yiqiu asked, “I’m asking, do you regret leaving Xiancha Town?”
Years of memories rushed back. She was born in Xiancha Town, but only she knew what kind of place it was. It was her quagmire, where she schemed and fought relentlessly, never daring to relax for a moment.
What father-daughter affection, what close kinship in the Huang family, how cold and shattered it was.
She spent half her life building up to the moment she met Xie Hongchen and made her choice. She decided to marry, using a marriage alliance to escape this quagmire. But in a moment of greed, she had merely jumped from one marsh into a gilded cage.
And now she remembered the wild huts and farmlands of Xiancha Town. In her youth, yearning for strength, she wanted to venture into the mortal world and pluck the moon from the sky. So she resolutely cast aside fame and had no attachments. But now, when she looked back, there was no shore, only boundless bitterness.