A voice that was as bright and clear as the call of the wind swept lightly in, not hurriedly, but not slowly, easy and refined.

And at the same time the words were spoken, there appeared at the garden gate a young man, his hair pulled back into a white jade crown, a black jade moon hanging across his forehead, wearing robes of black brocade, while around his waist hung an exquisite white belt onto which were sewn jade annuli. On his face, so handsome as to be carved out of jade, there hung a graceful, relaxed smile, and it was with this leisurely attitude that he walked on the red carpet into the garden.

As the heroes looked upon this person, they each had the same thought: this kind of person must have walked out from Ruizhu Palace, where the stairs are made of white jade, where the tiles are made of green jade, where the walls are made of red coral, and the screens are made of crystal! Only this kind of person can be the one whose name has moved the world: Hei Fengxi! And only this kind of person can possibly deserve the title of “Most Elegant”!*

Not like that one…they all turned to glance at Bai Fengxi, but when they saw that person, with her white clothes and long hair, looking like a pure lotus in the wind, standing slender and elegant in the garden, a frank face full of ease, free and unrestrained, they suddenly felt that standing like this, Bai Fengxi was also unmatched in all the world.

The black robed young man — Fengxi — sat upon the brocade chair, and lifted his left hand almost imperceptibly, and the youth on his left passed the teacup into his hand. He lifted the lid and blew lightly on it, and sipped shallowly, and after a moment, shook his head and said, “It’s too concentrated, too heavy. Next time, put three less leaves in.”

“Yes, Young Master,” the youth on the right was quick to say, lowering his head into a bow.

Fengxi put the cover back onto the cup, and the youth on his left hurriedly took the cup with both hands and placed it back into the little table.

The garden was clearly full of over a hundred people, but it was deathly quiet, and all attendant were focused on looking at him, only thinking that this young man’s every casual word held within it an indescribable sense grace and nobility that was a pleasure to be around, and no one had the heart or the courage to disturb him.

At long last, Fengxi’s gaze swept towards the crowd, and the crowd felt their hearts thump. This young man’s gaze was too bright, as if the darkest part of his heart also gave him this extreme brightness and clarity…

“Woman, long time no see,” Fengxi said, smiling, a joyful look on his face, staring straight ahead.

Following his gaze, people could see that Bai Fengxi, too, had picked out a chair for herself to sit on, but compared to Fengxi’s elegance and propriety, she really had no form of which to speak, rather, she sat slumped against the back of the chair, a long head of hair hanging to the ground, a pair of legs stretched out onto another chair, a pair of eyes closed, as if she were very sleepy.

Upon hearing Fengxi call out to her, she opened her two eyes lazily into little creases, and then yawned, spreading her arms out into a stretch, and then opened her mouth to say, “Black fox, in the time it takes you to do these annoying things every time, I could take a nap; what a waste of time!”

Though neither her words nor her actions could be considered elegant, no one seemed to get the impression that she was unsightly or vulgar, only that, since she was the one doing it, she was so very dazzling, so very natural, and there was something comforting about that, as if she was born to be this way.

“Woman, even after a year, you haven’t made any progress,” Fengxi said, almost pityingly.  

Upon hearing this, Fengxi sat straight up in her chair, the lazy expression on her face wiped cleanly off, and, with an extension of her leg, the chair that was under her foot flew at Fengxi, the strength she exerted both fierce and fast, though it did not make much sound. Even still, she said. “I beg of you, I have a name. Don’t always call me woman this, woman that; people who don’t know better might think I’m your woman. It’s bad enough our names are so similar, but if there was anything else to link me to a sly, hypocritical fox like you,that would be the most tragic thing in the world!”

Yet Fengxi seemed still so much at ease. Not even so much as looking at the chair that was flying towards him, he extended his right hand, and the chair that had previously moved so quickly stopped smoothly in his hands, and with a toss, the chair then landed lightly onto the ground, without a single sound.

Seeing this, the crowd around the two nodded to themselves, asking themselves if they could do it so easily, so elegantly.

“I’m merely reminding you, that’s all. I fear that if you continue to muddle along the way you have been, you’ll forget someday that you’re a woman,” said Fengxi with quiet refinement, and then fixing her with his gaze, he shook his head. “If you want to be my woman, tsk, tsk…you’re really not my type!”

“Young Master Feng.” Han Xuanling stepped forward, reminding these two domestic squabblers that he was the one who was the master here, and that they shouldn’t go too far in considering no one else to be their equals.

“Oh, Old Hero Han, what was it you wished from me?” Fengxi turned to look at Han Xuanling, a face full of an intimate and gentle smile. “Perhaps it was to allow me to meet all these heroes from Bai Kingdom?”

“Young Master Feng, the matter I spoke to you about the day before yesterday, I don’t know…” Han Xuanling reminded this “noble guest.”

“Oh. I understand.” Fengxi replied, as if he suddenly realised what he was here to do. “You asked me to please help you teach Bai Fengxi a lesson, and at the same time get her to return all the medicines that she took from you this past year, and if she can’t return it, to have her reimburse you in gold.”

“Ah…” Fengxi began to laugh. “I’ve already used up all the medicine, and as for gold, well, I don’t have a single piece. Old man, I’m afraid you won’t find a use for your abacus here.”

“Oh, what should we do now, Old Hero Han?” Hearing this, Fengxi turned to Han Xuanling, a guileless look of helplessness on his face.

“It’s a simple matter of her admitting that she has wronged me and leaving behind both her hands. Then everything can be forgiven and forgotten.” Han Xuanling looked at Fengxi, blame coursing poisonous through his eyes, resentful that she was able to so easily steal the medicine he regarded higher than his life, that she gave it out like she gave money to the poor, and that on such a day as today, she’d come to make him lose all face.

“Wa! So cruel!” Fengxi lifted her two hands and looked him over a few times and then, quick as a wink, she appeared suddenly before Fengxi, extending both her hands and asking, “Black fox, are you going to chop off my hands?”

“Ai!” Looking at the pair of hands before him, Fengxi suddenly let out a long sigh, looking as if he’d reached the end of his rope. “What a misfortune it has been to have met a troublemaker like you in this life!”

Then he turned towards Han Xuanling and, clasping his hands, bowed to the ground.

“Please, rise, rise, the honour is too great!” Han Xuanling was quick to return the gesture, unsure of why the other man had suddenly decided to pay him this kind of honour.

“Old Hero Han, what if I were to ask for your forgiveness on her behalf?” Fengxi asked, mildly and rationally, his face exceedingly sincere. “Though she stole your medicine, it was used to rescue people and not for her own self-interest; certainly this could count as helping your family accrue good karma. Why don’t you exercise your magnanimity and forgive her immature conduct? She’s young, and doesn’t understand many things.”

“This…she…” Han Xuanling stuttered. He didn’t dare refuse Hei Fengxi, but to forgive Bai Fengxi, just like that, was truly very difficult.

“As for all the medicine she’s taken over the years, Old Hero Han, why don’t you tally up the money she owes you, and I’ll pay for it on her behalf?” Fengxi continued.

Once this was said, Han Xuanling’s heart gave a great thump, and it must be known that it wasn’t that he was an ill-intentioned person, only that he loved money very much, and it was because of this that he charged so much for his medicine.

Fengxi only had to look at him to know of the stirring in his heart, and so turned around to face those others who were gathered in the garden. “Just now, she offended each hero present, but it is her disposition to love to play around, and so played such a joke on everyone. Again, I apologise on her behalf, and hope that each hero will find it in himself to be magnanimous, and forgive her.”

His actions were too far out of the realm of expectation. Most of those gathered had only gathered because they were expecting to see the standoff of a century: Bai Fengxi against Hei Fengxi. But who knew he would shoulder everything for her instead?

Those in the garden hastened to return his respects. How many could say that they have received the deferential respects of such a well-known hero? Feeling that they have been given suitable respect, those gathered felt their grievances melt away, and they replied, “There’s no need for you to be so courteous, Young Master, how could we continue to blame Miss Feng?”

They could not help but to think: this is how a great hero should behave! Only, what was the nature of the relationship between the pair? Why would he apologise and pay on her behalf? And looking at the way the two of them acted around one another, they were neither friends nor enemies.

And Bai Fengxi did not look too impressed with Hei Fengxi’s actions. She merely stood to the side and watched the proceedings with indifference, a shallow smile that was hard to understand hanging from her lips.

“Since everyone seems to be in agreement, why don’t we head to the Tower of Intoxicated Immortals in the center of town, and I will treat everyone to the finest wine?” Fengxi asked.

At his words, the crowd was astir, each more excited than the next.

A large man detached himself from the rest of the ground, wrapping one hand around the other fist in greeting. “Though we are merely nameless wanderers, it is truly our luck to have met Bai Feng and Hei Xi today. Today, at the Tower of Intoxicated Immortals, I only beg that Young Master Fengxi will allow me to play host, and for this Young Master to drink a glass* with all the heroes gathered here!”

“Yes! We ask the Young Master to do us this honour,” those gathered exclaimed.

“Very well! Fengxi has no choice but to obey.”

He answered with a smile, but in the instant he turned, he caught a glimpse of of the shallow wisp of a smile on Fengxi’s face, and the two looked eyes, exchanging a glance that only the two of them seemed to understand.

The girl then spun, pointing a finger at the twins. “Is it on you or is it on him?”

The twins, being pointed at thus by Fengxi, couldn’t help but to turn to their master for guidance. With a wan smile, Fengxi said, “Zhong Yuan, give it to her.”

The twin on the left – Zhong Yuan – took a mahogany box from the parcel in his hands and passed it over to Fengxi.

As Fengxi opened the lid, the people in the garden felt blinded for an instant by the radiant light emitting out of the box, and they could see that within the box lay pearls the size of thumbs, miniature willow trees made of gold, mountains carved out of cornelian, Buddha’s palms made of red coral, and green crystals the size of a grown man’s hand, and each item was exceptionally refined and delicate.

Before the crowd had a chance to see clearly, Fengxi closed the box with a peng! and walked before Han Xuanling, saying, “Old man, the items in this box are not worth less than ten thousand taels of gold, enough to buy all the medicine I’ve previously taken from you and then some, so why don’t you give me another bottle of your Purple Mansion Powder and your Buddha’s Heart Pill?”

“This…all this is for me?” Han Xuanling’s large, staring eyes looked from to box and then from one Fengxi to the other, looking surprisingly hesitant. Though he was a very well off man, even he could not quite believe in the appearance of so many rare treasures before him.

“Why don’t you accept these, Old Master Han, as my payment on behalf of the chit, and give her some more medicine?” Fengxi nodded, smiling.

“Of course…of course!” Han Xuanling nodded and nodded, over and over, and quickly took the box from Fengxi’s hands, his own shaking a little.

“Then I’ll go get the medicine!” Fengxi smiled, and then, in a flash, even her shadow had disappeared from the garden.

“En,” Han Xuanling nodded and agreed, but then suddenly jumped up as if remembering something, and yelled loudly, “Wait! Bai Fengxi, you stay right here! O Heavens, my medicine…she’ll clean me out again!”

He chased after her as quickly as he could, and even from a distance, one could hear his heartbroken wails.

*rather an incomplete translation; it’s something like: Fengxi is one of the Four Young Masters, and among the four he’s known as Most Elegant, but there was no way to fit that in without making it sound weird

*psht Chinese people don’t use glasses but it didn’t seem elegant to say “drink a cup” or “drink a bowl.” It also didn’t seem very elegant to say “get drunk with,” so.