Ji Feng Li gazed up at the night sky, his mask bathed in the frosty moonlight. There were no tears in his eyes yet two streams of blood were silently sliding down from them.
Lan Bing gasped in horror and quickly ran over. In a plaintive voice he stated, “Master, your eyes.”
Turning a deaf ear, Ji Feng Li closed his eyes and asked, “Where is he now?” His voice was dull and faint, his tone cold and impassive.
“He?” Lan Bing was momentarily confused before realizing Ji Feng Li was referring to Yuan Bao’s corpse.
“Someone had taken his corpse” Lan Bing tentatively replied.
“Who took it? Quickly investigate!” Seeing Lan Bing still standing there, Ji Feng Li coldly ordered, “Go now!”
Lan Bing glanced worriedly at Ji Feng Li before slowly withdrawing.
Ji Feng Li wiped away the blood on his face with his hand and continued on along the small pathway. Along the way, there were the occasional litter accompanying the fallen leaves. The mess was testimony to the busy day but now it just made the place look deserted and destitute.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
He walked over and stood beneath a towering tree. The early spring moonlight trickled down like a translucent waterfall, seeping through the branches to bask his figure in a hazy light.
The night was quiet, save for the occasional echoing laughter from the roadside houses that drifted pass along with the wind. And like the night, he too was quiet and still.
Whether it was real or fake, even if it was a trap, he was unwilling to come to terms with such an outcome.
As he stood there, the hazy night mist slowly took form. He gradually regained his composure and gazed up at the sky. His eyes were slightly red but still clear and chilling as a lustrous blade.
He turned around and collided into someone. To be exact, someone had flew into his arms.
Perhaps because his eyes had been bleeding, his sight was tinged in a hazy red. The person that was in his arms was a woman wearing a veil. It seems the woman was wearing a white dress but perhaps she wasn’t because beneath her skirt was a darker crimson spot.
He steadied her by firmly holding her waist. In a chilling voice, he questioned, “What’s wrong with you miss?”
Hua Zhu Yu felt as though she was about to lose consciousness. She reluctantly pried open her weary eyes. She saw the mask and vaguely recognized the person in front of her. It seems to be the young prince from Yue Zhi.
What was wrong with her?
She was in great pain.
However, she couldn’t tell a stranger that. But, he was a stranger right? Why, why did he feel so familiar? What was this inexplicable familiarity? Was this merely an illusion before she lost conscious?
She blinked her eyes and bitterly said, “I….I’m …fine!” However, the scene before her dimmed and the moonlight became faint. There was a rush of footsteps approaching from behind. Cui Xiu ran over and brought along several guards. She took Hua Zhu Yu from his arms and constantly expressed her gratitude.
Ji Feng Li watched as the carriage departed into the distance. He could faintly make out the large character on the lantern hanging in front of the carriage. It was “Nie.”
A carriage from the Nie Residence? That woman was from Nie Residence? Suddenly, his hands felt wet and he looked down only to realize his hands were drenched in blood. So that woman wasn’t wearing red but was actually injured.
Not long after Ji Feng Li returned to Yi Guan, Lan Bing had also returned.
He had covertly inquired the people in the market. He heard that Yuan Bao’s body was taken away by men in hoods with a horse-drawn carriage. That was all the information he could get.
Lan Bing thought it was quite fortunate. If master was not in seclusion at that time to recuperate, he feared the hooded man taking away Yuan Bao would’ve been his master. If that happens then all their plans would’ve gone to waste.
After listening to Lan Bing’s report, Ji Feng Li pulled out a jade flute from within his robes. He placed it near his lips and started playing. The tune was drawn out, grave and stern as a powerful army on the battlefield. It was unbridled with a strong murderous force.
Ji Feng Li hadn’t recovered from his original injury. And some of the wounds had even opened up again. After recuperating for a few days, his wounds had improved. By the time he finally recovered, it was already nearing the end of the second month.
The weather was warm and the spring breeze was airy. Within the courtyard stood a tall oleander tree whose branches extended towards the window. It was full of flower buds, some of which had blossomed into beautiful flowers carrying a rich fragrance.
Standing by the door, Ji Feng Li was basked in the sunlight. His tall, lean figure stood straight as a bamboo. His face had gotten thin and the mask had covered up most of it, exposing only a pair of eyes that were sharp and distinct.
He was holding a news report in his hand, flipping through the pages. As he came to the last page, his eyes darkened.
Sitting on the bed, Na Lan Xue noticed Ji Feng Li’s change in expression. Curious, he got up and walked up behind him. After taking a glance at the secret report, he relaxed and smiled. ““The treasured daughter of Right Chancellor Nie is participating in the Refined Female Consort Selection? Hmm, it’s just as you had speculated. They are about to fight! Look, Huangfu Wu Shuang and him all think you’re dead. Next, you just need to stand by and watch the show.”
Ji Feng Li coldly smiled as his eyes flashed with a frosty light.
“You really know how to act. But without that person, it wouldn’t have been so real! Even now, that Third Princess still thinks you’re dead! Even Wan’Er was deceived by you,” Na Lan Xue said.
Ji Feng Li contemplated. “Doesn’t Nie Yuan Qiao only have one daughter that’s younger than ten years old. She’s too young to participate in the consort selection. So where did this Young Miss Nie come from?”
Na Lan Xue shrugged and said, “How would I know? Maybe it’s a foster daughter he recently brought home.”
Ji Feng Li narrowed his eyes and coldly ordered, “Send people to investigate.”
A guard at the corner of the room assented and left to relay the order.
Ji Feng Li reviewed the report again and his eyes flickered with a cold light as he callously remarked, “Yu City is going to be lively!”
In the back garden of the Nie Residence, there were lush green trees and countless blooming flowers.There was also a small pavilion near there above the lake surface.
The scenery was beautiful and a sight to behold.
Standing by the waterside on the bridge was a slender figure whose skirt fluttered in the wind, making people doubt whether it was indeed a human or a fairy that they saw.
She silently stood there gazing out at the waters, slightly in a daze. The passing breeze rustled the flowers and caused the petals to scatter about around her but she was immersed in deep thought and did not notice.
Standing not too far away, Huangfu Wu Shuang was admiring this beautiful sight, unable to look away. He was in a daze for some time. When he finally regained his composure, he could only silently sigh in admiration.
Hua Zhu Yu was leaning against the railing. As a gust of wind blew pass, she caught a glimpse of a figure standing not too far away and a cold smile suddenly appeared on her lips.
She suddenly lifted her foot and stood up on the railing. Spreading her arms wide, she embraced the wind.
Witnessing this, Huangfu Wu Shuang’s heart clenched in fright. He immediately rushed over to the lake but saw her jumped in. She was sinking quickly and she wasn’t struggling at all.
He had chased away all of his guards. He had wanted to stand there and watch her secretly but he didn’t expect her to suddenly jump into the lake. Without a thought, he immediately jumped in after her.
It was already March but the water was still very cold.
When she jumped in, Hua Zhu Yu was instantly struck by the biting coldness of the waters. She couldn’t breathe but in this moment her heart got clarity.
She knew Huangfu Wu Shuang had jumped in after her. She felt him swimming closer as his strong arms firmly grasped her and tried to bring her up to shore.
At that moment, people were rushing over, some had even jumped into the waters and were trying to help pull them both up.
Huangfu Wu Shuang shouted, “Everyone back away!”
Her body suddenly felt light and she realized he had picked her up. He was carrying her as he rushed through the long corridors heading towards her room.
He placed her on the bed and stepped out as Cui Xiu helped her out of her soaked clothes. Cui Xiu then placed a blanket over her to warm up her freezing body.
The copper brazier beside the bed was also lit to warm up the room.
“How is she?” Huangfu Wu Shuang questioned in an angry voice.
Hua Zhu Yu could see that he was also drenched as he walked in, his attendants following close behind him. They were holding onto a set of new clothes but were afraid to give it to him.
“Your Majesty… how about you change clothes first? If not you’ll catch a cold….” a eunuch bravely said.
“Get out now!” Huangfu Wu Shuang turned around and coldly shouted.
The little eunuch stepped back in fear and did not say anything further.
Huangfu Wu Shuang walked over to the side of the bed. His hair was dripping with water as he bent down to look at her. “Why are you taking things so hard?”
Hua Zhu Yu laughed. “Huangfu Wu Shuang, what reasons do I have for living? You harmed my child and abolished my martial skills. But you’re the Emperor, I have no way to kill you and I also can’t. I can’t kill you and I don’t want to see you either. So tell me what should I do?”
Huangfu Wu Shuang was silent. He took her cold hands in his and tried to smile. “I didn’t mean to harm your child. I just didn’t want you to leave. I just want you to stay by my side.”
“So you abolished my martial skills and killed my child?” Hua Zhu Yu sneered as she raised her hand and slapped Huangfu Wu Shuang’s face.
A distinct palm print appeared on his handsome, fair face. It can be seen that she exerted all her strength into this slap. Huangfu Wu Shuang slowly wiped away the blood from his lips. Bending down, he pulled the blanket up around her. “As long as I can keep you by my side, I can do anything.”
Hua Zhu Yu was shivering in his arms as tears spilled from her eyes, falling onto his silk robes before reaching the bed.
Witnessing her cry, Huangfu Wu Shuang felt as though his heart was falling with her tears.
In his heart, he felt a deep sorrow he had never experienced before. He didn’t think a few tears of hers could make him feel so helpless. He stretched out his hands to wipe the tears from her cheeks. The tears seemed to drench deep into his heart, making him slightly frown. Gently he said, “Xiao Bao Er, don’t cry. Whatever you want, I’ll agree to it.”
Hua Zhu Yu slowly raised her head and said, “I want to see Qi Luo.”
Huangfu Wu Shuang sighed, “Alright, tomorrow I will let Song Qi Luo come and visit you.” He let her go and stood up. “Servants!”
Cui Xiu quickly went in and paid her respects to Huangfu Wu Shuang.
“Cui Xiu, serve your Young Miss well! If something like this happens again, zhen won’t spare you!” He coldly ordered, then turned to Hua Zhu Yu and gently said, “Zhen is returning to the palace.”
Hua Zhu Yu remained silent and did not look up. Once she heard his footsteps gradually fade, she slowly sat up and wiped her tears with her sleeves as a cold glint flickered in her eyes.
Huangfu Wu Shuang kept to his words. The next morning, he sent someone to send Dan Hong out of the palace to visit her.
Hua Zhu Yu hadn’t met Dan Hong for a few days. Seeing her today, she looked quite weary. As soon as Dan Hong saw Hua Zhu Yu, she instantly cover her mouth and started weeping.
Hua Zhu Yu stood up and took her hand. “You silly girl, why are you crying? I’ve caused you to worry these days,” she said with a sympathetic smile.
“I thought I would never see you again. When I heard you were beheaded, I….” Dan Hong was choked for words, her tears constantly streaming down.
“I’m fine now, aren’t I?” Looking at Dan Hong’s pale face, Hua Zhu Yu felt brokenhearted.
Dan Hong nodded.
Seeing Cui Xiu standing by the door, Hua Zhu Yu instructed, “Cui Xiu, go bring the snacks the kitchen prepared yesterday!”
Cui Xiu assented and lifted the curtains to walk out.
Dan Hong took a quick glance at Cui Xiu and asked, “General, why did you suddenly become Young Miss Nie?”
Hua Zhu Yu sighed and replied, “I don’t know either. I originally thought Huangfu Wu Shuang would restore my original identity.”
Dan Hong silently sat in the chair and contemplated for a moment before saying, “General, I heard from An that the Northern Emperor had arrived at Yu City.”
Hua Zhu Yu was a bit surprised by the sudden news but wasn’t too shocked.
Previously, Huangfu Wu Shuang had eliminated Ji Feng Li based on the pretext that Ji Feng Li had colluded with Northern Kingdom through his marriage to Northern Kingdom’s princess. Once Xiao Yin became aware of this he will surely come to Southern Kingdom. Hua Zhu Yu knew that Xiao Yin loved his sister dearly. Any information he can find regarding her whereabouts, he would sure investigate.
When she last met him in Northern Kingdom, she thought Jin Se was dead. Now that he was here in Southern Kingdom, she didn’t know where Jin Se was. Originally, she had wanted to reunite him with his sister but it seems the heavens truly love to tease people.
“That means the relationship between the two kingdoms must be fairly stable. That’s also good.” Hua Zhu Yu calmly stated.
Dan Hong nodded. “General, what are you going to do?”
Hua Zhu Yu slowly stood and walked towards the window. Through the screen, Hua Zhu Yu could make out the blooming flowers in the courtyard, the lush green busheries as well as the faint floral scent that was carried in with the wind. This scenery was beautiful but there was danger lurking in the shadows. Although she couldn’t leave, Dan Hong must. There was no reason for Dan Hong to remain in that deep palace because of her.
Hua Zhu Yu walked over to stand in front of Dan Hong and said in a low voice, “Dan Hong, this time don’t return to the palace. I’ll send you to Ping!”