Chapter 7 – Milan Institution for Magic and Martial Arts (IV)
Yin Zhu’s eyes stared straight at the white-clothed girl on stage, his vision of her already somewhat blurred. He muttered to himself, “A Chinese Ghost Story.” These four words, ‘A Chinese Ghost Story,’ did not describe the girl on stage accurately since it was the name of the guzheng song.
Both hands moved rhythmically at an extremely fast tempo. It was a natural and unforced manner that did not even project the slightest bit of loftiness. The guzheng’s sound was distinctly clear and bright. Although the Orange Rank magic strength was incapable of encompassing the whole audience, it was still pleasant to listen to the humming notes of the guzheng that clearly reached everyone’s ears. The soft, sorrowful guzheng song affected everyone’s moods. All of their expressions began to follow the rises and falls, the ups and downs, of the guzheng song. Even Yin Zhu and Teacher Brigitte were no exceptions to this.
Yin Zhu’s vision blurred. Perhaps other people lost themselves completely to the sound waves of the sorrowful guzheng song, but this beautiful guzheng song already completely mesmerized his heart, harmoniously plucking at the deep recesses of his heart against his will. Only someone who truly understood this would be capable of completely comprehending everything in this guzheng song.
“As clear as a splash of jade and trembling like a dragon’s cry, << A Chinese Ghost Story>> is a good song.”
Not falling under her control like the others, Yin Zhu shifted the Jade Charm Zither in front of him. He didn’t tune the instrument, his hands already lightly stroking the strings. His right thumb lightly rested on it. Both of his hands already moved as smoothly as he wished, floating in the air above the seven strings. Instantly, his pure and innocent aura disappeared; although the distant journey had already somewhat tarnished the white gown that clothed his body. At this very moment, however, this noble, courteous aura complimented his handsome face perfectly.
The ancient, rustic zither quietly echoed. Yin Zhu’s movements were significantly slower than the girl’s movements on stage. Each zither note, however, rose in spirals and lingered. Remaining calm and collected, he lightly fingered repetitions, stroking back and forth melodiously. The Jade Charm Zither’s clear, prolonged notes complemented the guzheng music, making the original musical composition slightly increase in profoundness and influence.
Deep red rays of light accompanied the emitting zither notes and moved in tandem with the white-clothed girl’s brilliant orange rays. The entire auditorium’s interior reflected the light and brightened up as the zither notes intervened. Instead of a sense of abruptness, it was very harmonious. The white-clothed girl lifted up her bowed head for the first time.
Black hair partially covered her face, thus exposing only half of it. The partially revealed face still caused Yin Zhu’s heartstrings to fiercely tremble all of a sudden. With a pale, icy, serene face, her black eyes looked straight at Yin Zhu, not even slightly astonished. The iciness in her eyes slightly dissipated, however.
The zither and guzheng were originally two incompatible musical instruments. Yin Zhu perfectly manipulated the zither to unite as one with the guzheng like a heaven-sent miracle.
The white-clothed girl gazed at Yin Zhu who also gazed back at her without his two hands atop the strings slipping at all. Their gazes met, similar to how the deep red and orange lights intertwined. Yin Zhu’s hand positions changed, the light plucking of the strings turning dynamic. The graceful and downcast voices of the zither and guzheng harmoniously blended together and echoed.
“One’s time on earth
Is like a dream, an endless journey
Which allows the wind and frost to leave traces upon the face1
In the world of mortals
This beautiful dream has numerous paths to follow
Seeking love on this fantastical journey
Following a boundless and indistinct path.”
At this very moment, it seemed as if it was only the two of them left inside the auditorium. There were two basic ways of playing the guqin. One way was to play solo while the other way was to sing with the zither.
The iciness within the white-clothed girl’s eyes thawed further. Endless grief was the only thing that remained. Her slightly hoarse, yet touching voice, like the cry of the phoenix, accompanied the plucked notes of the zither and guzheng as it spoke the second half of the poem.
“One’s time on earth is
A prolonged dream
And most likely within this dream, most likely there are glistening teardrops
Wherever we go
Our hearts will align
The wind in this long drawn out dream lightly sighs
On this boundless and vast road.”
Yin Zhu once again changed the position of his hands. He inserted his two middle fingers of his right hand into the semicircle and simultaneously pressed the strings with the ring finger, middle finger, and index finger of his left hand. The sound waves trembled, becoming somewhat gentler than before. It also slightly lessened the grief within the song << A Chinese Ghost Story>>. Accompanied by the cries of the zither and guzheng, the two of them involuntarily sung the final verse of the poem together.
“On this earthly journey
Years of happiness and youth
Under that asperous and harsh sunlight
The world of mortals
How many paths are there to happiness
Slightly resembling a dream of wind and rain2
Following a boundless and vast road
Slightly resembling a dream of wind and rain
Following a boundless and vast road.”
Their matching, near indistinguishable singing voices quietly stopped, but the zither and guzheng notes continued to rise in spirals, echoing. As this cry fell to a hum, the endlessly haunting tune softened sorrowfully . Yin Zhu’s eyes were as clear as a mirror while that white-clothed girl’s black eyes expressed her confusion.
“Again the sunlight illuminates the rugged road. Elder sister, your guzheng song is extremely sad. Why didn’t you play a happier song?” Both of his hands rested against the strings as Yin Zhu stood up and spoke, smiling. His pure and innocent air returned and diminished the graceful and noble aura he exuded.
The white-clothed girl went from perplexed to clear-headed. With a gloomy heart, she asked herself, ‘What happened to me? I had never sung the final verse of << A Chinese Ghost Story >> before, but today I subconsciously sung it. Could it be that he influenced me to sing it?’
“The Wind Startles the Dancing Crane gesture; The Wind Carries the Gentle Cloud gesture; The Luan and Phoenix Harmoniously Cry gesture; and The Water Follows the Fallen Flower gesture – you used these four techniques to play this song, making the guzheng compatible with the zither. Wasn’t that enough? Then, why did you use your zither song to influence my mind?” The white-clothed girl’s hoarse voice rang out clear and bright, her luminous eyes stared fixedly at Yin Zhu.
“Ah, because I understood upon hearing the sorrow in your guzheng song!” It was obvious Ye Yin Zhu failed to properly interpret her question. Why did the song end like that? The white-clothed girl’s iciness intensified even more.
“You understand? Did you really understand?” She snorted coldly, her hands picking up the guzheng from the table. She turned around and walked off backstage.
Slowly sitting down, Yin Zhu carefully placed the Jade Charm Zither to the side and thus in front of the girl from before. His eyes displayed a pondering light.
“Dong ——” The bell rang, echoing. A faint cyan light flashed within the auditorium. When Yin Zhu raised his head and spotted a woman wearing a long cyan skirt on stage, he discovered that he didn’t know what the time was. The woman appeared to be 60-70 years old. Her left hand held an exquisitely delicate bell which she clearly just struck using a rod in her right hand.
“Ah——” The sound, like that when waking up from a dream, echoed to everyone, including the girl beside Yin Zhu and Teacher Brigitte who was sitting in an alcove. During the guzheng song, they had long ago become engrossed in it. The majority of them did not realize Yin Zhu had joined in later on. For a moment, they were still experiencing their fantasy dream. Only a few of the girls had clear eyes that displayed a pondering light similar to Yin Zhu’s.
Little San intentionally searched for a song played on the guzheng – “A Chinese Ghost Story.” This song is quite graceful. Little San wants to find ways to post it online with the hope that everyone will also like it.