Want to get a taste of wuxia fanfic? Well, here’s a drabble for you. Oh, a brief summary before we get started.
Summary: AU (“alternate universe” aka “I know it will never happen in my wildest dreams”) sets at the beginning of Ming dynasty. Just a chance meeting between Zhao Min and Yang Guo over fine wine under the clear moonlight.*
*Zhao Min and Yang Guo are two of my most favourite characters in Mr. Jin Yong’s wuxia stories. I always wonder what would happen if they met each other instead of Little Dragon Lady and Zhang Wuji. Apologies in advance for potential OOC (out of character).
Fine Wine under the Clear Moonlight
It is late in the evening, but the streets are still crowded with various performances that range from charismatic martial art moves, fairy-like dances, and eye-opening magic tricks. Joyous harmony is in the air as people celebrate a new era called Ming under their newly ascended emperor, the Hongwu Emperor.
Zhao Min discreetly scans her surrounding before entering a dark alley. She jumps high in the air, lightly bounces her feet off the opposing walls to support her leap further and lands safely on the rooftop. She uses the light-quick step technique and moves swiftly across the rooftop. She comes to a stop at the spot next to a tall tree with some of its leafy branches hovering over the area. She puffs out a breath and smiles nostalgically at the big, round shimmering moon that hangs elegantly above the night clouds with more than dozens of glistening blue stars as its company. She sits down and carefully studies the boisterous crowd below her feet.
She exhales a sigh of relief and leans back to stretch out her arms. She reckons that her father and brother are probably busy organizing more upcoming celebration events to praise the new emperor with the other aristocrat families now that the Han Chinese are back in ruling. She knows that she should be organizing and planning with them right now. After all, accompanying an emperor is like accompanying a tiger – one would never know what the tiger thinks or when it will strike with its merciless sharp fangs.
However, she knows that there is still plenty of time to think of a life-preserving plan later and also, that she really deserves a breather at the moment. She takes out a jar of rice wine that has been secured around her belt and twists open the cap at the top of the jar. She closes her eyes and inhales the sweet aroma appreciatively.
“That’s some good wine you got there, brother.”
Taken off-guard by the unexpected male voice, she instinctively throws the poisoned needles at the voice’s direction from her sleeves.
The uninvited guest dodges the needles easily without losing balance on the sloped rooftop. He even catches one and throws it back to its owner. “Woah, easy there, brother,” he warns.
She retreats the needle and tucks it back inside her sleeve. She sees the face of the uninvited guest for the first time. He is extraordinarily handsome and there is this conceited attitude about him with his mischievous smile as if he knows very well and acknowledges his own beauty. She knows that such type of guys could be quite dangerous amongst the ladies if not careful. She is glad that she has disguised herself as a man tonight and from the looks of it, he hasn’t find out. She holds up her hands respectfully and smiles politely. “Please excuse my rude behaviour earlier. My name is Zhao Ziyun,” she uses her male alias, “please allow me to make acquaintance with you, young hero.”
An amused laugh emits from the man. “I’m no hero. I’m Yang Guo. Nice to meet you, Brother Ziyun.”
“If you’re not a hero, then you must be a big villain,” she says wittingly. “Only a handful in this vast land has ever mastered the light-quick step technique to the point of no detection.”
Yang Guo rubs the tip of his nose. “Well, sorry to disappoint you – a villain, I’m not either.” He places his hands under his head and rests his back on the rooftop. “I’m just an ordinary citizen,” he announces as he stares at the stars hanging far above him, light years away.
Zhao Min finds his tone ends off rather wistful. Curious as she might be, she doesn’t think it is any of her business to pry. She gulps down a big mouthful of the wine and generously puts forward the jar to him. “Just one gulp is enough to forget a thousand worlds.”
He accepts her offer unpretentiously, “Then, I’m not going to be polite. Thanks!” He takes the time to appreciate the sweet scent of the rice wine before drinking. He lets out a breath and his shoulders drop as if a ton has been lifted off. He turns to his new friend and smiles. “Good wine!” then he asks, “How did you manage to get a hold of this?”
“The black market,” she blurts out a lie easily. There is no need to let a random stranger knows that she has any connection with high ranking officials.
He seems to be nodding off his head knowingly before he jokes, “Hey, aren’t you a bit too young to be an alcoholic?”
She rolls her eyes and mutters, “You don’t seem that much older than me.”
“Did you say something?”
She shakes her head and smiles. “No, but I’m just thinking it’s not so bad to drink with a friend under the beautiful full moon on such a joyful occasion after all.”
He nods. “I can’t really say if it’s a joyful occasion, but it’s much easier to forget what cannot be forgotten at least temporarily when you have a friend to distract you.”
“I concur.” She takes the jar back and gulps down another mouthful.
The two sit silently and observes the lively market below them under the moonlight for the rest of the duration. When the jar is finally emptied of the sweet alluring rice wine, Zhao Min gets up.
Yang Guo stares up at her. “Leaving now?”
She dusts off her clothes and nods. “Yes, but I’m sure we will meet again if fate shall allow it.”
He smiles. “Sure, but let me see the real you next time, Miss Ziyun.”
Her heart skips a beat and her body flinches ever subtly at his words. She is surprised that he has known all along that she is a woman. She regains her composure and responds humorously, “Well, then, may luck ever be in your favour.” With that, she descends gracefully from the rooftop and disappears with the current flow of the crowd.