The house on Anhe lane was very quiet. There was a game of chess out on the table; probably Ping and Tai had been playing in their down time. There was also Kang’s teacup which was still half full with tea.
Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes swept around the room but there were no signs of an altercation. She also discovered that Ping and Tai had not come back here since the day she entered the palace. As for Kang, he did not go with them so he should’ve come back here. Based on Kang’s martial skills, for him to be captured so easily, could he have been poisoned or plotted against?
Hua Zhu Yu plopped down on the chair. Sitting here alone, the house felt eerily quiet save for the lonely clinks of the wind chimes hung outside on the eaves, a stark contrast to past when they were all here in this room playing the card game ma diao, how lively it was then. Now the stillness was so overwhelming she could hardly breathe.
She kept trying to think of possible places they could’ve gone but in the end, she was certain they wouldn’t just leave her behind without a word. Something must have happened. In any case, she had to find them.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
Outside in the courtyard the cry of a gyrfalcon was suddenly heard. Hua Zhu Yu got to her feet and went out to take a look. Upon opening the door, she saw Xiao Yin standing there as the sunlight shone on him from behind, highlighting his tall stature. Perched on his shoulder was the gyrfalcon who crooked its head and loudly exclaimed at the sight of Hua Zhu Yu’s appearance.
Why are you here?” Hua Zhu Yu asked in surprise. Though she asked for his help in stopping Tang Yu and his men, she didn’t expect him to follow her to this place.
“To bring you away,” Xiao Yin calmly replied.
“Thank you for your help today but I cannot follow you,” Hua Zhu Yu replied in a light but firm tone.
“Why not? Do you love Ji Feng Li?” Xiao Yin stepped forward and asked in a low voice.
The pit of Hua Zhu Yu’s stomach involuntarily tightened and she grew uneasy. Could it be that Xiao Yin recovered his memory?
“You, remember me?” Hua Zhu Yu cautiously asked.
Xiao Yin’s eyes were calm as his pupils slightly constricted. After a moment of silence, he casually smiled. “No, Zhuo Ya’s worried for you and she wanted me to ask you this. If you don’t love him, I’ll take you back.”
He still doesn’t remember. Hua Zhu Yu quietly sighed in relief but at the same time her heart felt a trace of bitterness. It’s better to forget. In this way it would be better for the both of them.
She nodded and smiled, softly saying, “Then I’ll have to trouble the Northern Emperor to tell Zhou Ya that yes, I do love Ji Feng Li and I want to remain by his side.”
Xiao Yan staggered back slightly. Though his face was the embodiment of calm and collection, the deep imprint of his foot in the ground was telling of the complicated emotions swirling in him. Suddenly he frowned as he cupped his chest with one hand, seemingly in great pain.
“What’s wrong with you?” Hua Zhu Yu asked in concern as she ran over to support him.
Poisoned! ” Xiao Yin replied with a heavy gasp. His whole body was burning with pain. During his exchange with Tang Yu earlier, he was not careful and got poisoned. He was well aware of this but he brushed it aside because he wanted to find Hua Zhu Yu. However, he didn’t fathom this poison was so strong.
Hua Zhu Yu helped him into the house to lie down on the bed. Looking at his deeply knitted brows, ashen complexion and heavily heaving chest, her heart sank into a bottomless pit. He was just fighting with Tang Yu so this must be Tang Yu’’s poison. However, Xiao Yin was the emperor of Northern Kingdom, she didn’t think Tang Yu would dare to poison him to death. Thus this poison must not be fatal but seeing him in such agonizing pain, her heart was still deeply hurt.
“You lie still, I’ll go look for medicine!” She said as she wondered if Tai had left any of his poison detoxification pills.
She was just about to get up when Xiao Yin suddenly grabbed her wrist, panting as he asked, “Tell me, did I like you before, and you, you also liked me?”
In front of her, a pair of purple eyes were staring at her silently, unblinking. At this moment, the purple glow of his eyes were deepening like a brooding storm, drawing her in.
Scene after scene began flashing in her mind. The tears he shed while intoxicated, the beast’s blow he shielded her from, his willingness to become a male prostitute in exchange for her forgiveness, his doting and his love….
Memories came rushing back like a river overflowing.
She tried to remain calm and smiled at him, asking, “Why would you think that? How can the Northern Emperor like me? When I knew you I was still living with a male’s identity.”
“Then what about you? Did you ever… like … me?” Xiao Yin persisted to question her, unrelenting.
“Of course not, we’ve always been enemies before!” She replied with a light smile yet her heart felt a tinge of bitterness.
“Enemies?” He repeated as he stared at her. Suddenly, he released his hold on her hand and the light in his eyes dimmed as he closed his eyes wearily.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly went to search around the house and finally found Tai’s detoxification pills.
“This pill can neutralize hundreds of poisons. Quickly take it to suppress the toxicity!” Hua Zhu Yu said as she brought over a glass of water and helped Xiao Yin sit up.
“Quickly drink it!” Hua Zhu Yu insisted.
Xiao Yin slowly opened his eyes and saw Hua Zhu Yu’s face full of concern. He weakly whispered, “I know we are not enemies.”
“Don’t talk anymore!” Hua Zhu Yu sealed several acupoints on his body to slow down the speed of the spreading poison. “Quickly take the medicine.”
Suddenly there was a chuckle at the door, “Can the Tang Clan’s poison be resolved by an ordinary detoxification pill?”
The door was pushed open and a proud, tall figure entered the room. With him the wind came gusting in as the black brocade robes on his body fluttered in unison.
The atmosphere in the room immediately tensed yet Ji Feng Li remained standing by the door, a light smile resting upon his lips. However that smile of his made her feel exceedingly cold.
“Where’s Tang Yu? Is he here?” Hua Zhu Yu anxiously asked.
Ji Feng Li’s eyes fixed on Hua Zhu Yu’s face. His calm expression did not divulge any traces of anger or happiness as he calmly replied, “Tang Yu did not come.”
“What should we do then?” Hua Zhu Yu asked as she looked at Xiao Yin whose face was becoming increasingly pale and whose forehead was beaded with sweat.
Ji Feng Li walked to the side of the bed and said in a solemn tone, “This prince shall ask Northern Emperor for forgiveness on behalf of my subordinate. Tang Yu is used to using poison when fighting with others. The prince has ordered him to prepare an antidote. I will send someone to deliver it later.”
Xiao Yin smiled and said, “Prince, no need to be so courteous. I just hope that Tang gongzi can make the antidote faster.”
Ji Feng Li nodded and smiled. “That is of course. When he finishes the preparations, he will immediately bring them here. Northern Emperor’s guards will be arriving soon, this prince shall leave first with Bao’er.”
Hua Zhu Yu frowned slightly and said, “I’ll wait for the antidote to be delivered then I’ll go.”
Ji Feng Li turned to look at her, his phoenix eyes curved as he smiled charmingly. He extended his hand and pulled her into his arms as he smiled at Xiao Yin and said, “Bao’er has such care for the Northern Emperor, after returning this prince shall certainly urge Tang Yu to hurry with the antidote. Bao’er, you don’t want to go see Tang Yu?”
Hua Zhu Yu’s face turned red as she struggled to escape from Ji Feng Li’s embrace. She then turned to Xiao Yin and said, “I’ll head back to the palace first. Take care of yourself.” After she spoke, she quickly exited the house and went straight to the carriage waiting outside the gate.