Xiao Yin’s tall figure couldn’t help but slightly sway though fortunately his resolve was formidable and he didn’t immediately rush over to her side. Originally, he was watching ‘Ying Shu Xie’s’ confrontation with the six sturdy guards with a complicated gaze laced with supressed worry and tension. Now it had all but melted away as his pair of piercing purple eyes stared at Hua Zhu Yu like he wanted to swallow her whole.
When Dou Qian Jin saw Hua Zhu Yu, his brows slightly wrinkled as though he was startled by her appearance. Though he had once proposed to her, he did not know what she truly looked like, in this world, what was more ridiculous than this? Even if she was unsightly as a ghost he would still agree to marry her. Perhaps it was due to the relations of the two kingdoms, it could also be that he had other ulterior motives. Nevertheless, his bride had ran away and he could only rely on this brother-in-law to find her, if not, perhaps in his entire lifetime he still wouldn’t be able to find her.
Hua Zhu Yu strolled passed Xiao Yin, her cold eyes only on the struggle in front of her. She never once glanced at Xiao Yin, as though he was merely a stranger she had never met before.
She joined the fight and unsheathed her sword which carried a cold glint as it collided with the Tian Ya Ming Yue sword in Xiao Si’s hand. Hua Zhu Yu did not let An Xiao Er reveal her identity so Xiao Si didn’t know it was her as he fought full force without a trace of restraint. He coldly brandished his sword at her continuously with each step. Dodging, Hua Zhu Yu retreated, bringing the group closer to the river. She knew that Xiao Si was a great swimmer and though the current was strong, based on Xiao Si’s ability, it wasn’t difficult for him to escape.
Sure enough, once they neared the river, after a moment of deliberation, Xiao Si dove into the river. His figure quickly disappeared underneath the waters. In the group of guards there was one who knew how to swim and quickly dove after but pursuit in water proved to be no easy feat. After merely a moment, all traces of that figure was long gone and the guard could only return empty handed.
“Why did you let him run away?” Huangfu Wu Shuang asked as he ran over towards the river, gazing at the flowing waters.
“Your Highness, the river’s current is quite strong, if one isn’t skilled at swimming, it’s very hards to escape. That Ying fellow had always been at Western Jiang engaged in war, perhaps he doesn’t know how to swim and took a risk and jumped. Perhaps preserving his life would be rather difficult,” Hua Zhu Yu calmly replied.
Huangfu Wu Shuang stared at the river for a while before lowering his eyes and walking back.
The moment ‘Ying Shu Xie’ dove into the waters, Hua Zhu Yu could sense the people concealed within the forest also quietly retreating.
After witness Xiao Si jump in the waters, the girl in white began to tremble as she thought of a way to escape. Seeing her, Huangfu Wu Shuang raised his voice and ordered, “Catch her!”
The guards apprehended the girl in white and as she kneeled on the grass she continuously kowtowed and cried. She said she was brought here from Western Jiang and that tonight someone had given her 200 taels of silver and requested her to play the qin. That person told her that if she followed the request, someone would pay a very high price for her. She claimed to know nothing, that she didn’t even know who that person called ‘Ying Shu Xie’ even was.
Ji Feng Li instructed one of his people to go investigate at Mian Yue Luo and the result confirmed her claims so he let her go.
Hua Zhu Yu really hoped that Xiao Yin would quickly leave this place but he had discovered her so how could he leave so easily. He happily accepted Ji Feng Li’s invitation and along with Dou Qian Jin, got on the horse carriage.
As Hua Zhu Yu followed Huangfu Wu Shuang towards his carriage she could feel Xiao Yin’s complicated gaze on her body. But fortunately he didn’t expose her right away.
When they returned to the Qing Jiang palace the sky was already bright. Huangfu Wu Shuang went to pay his respects to the Emperor but before he left, he unexpectedly requested Ji Feng Li in a soft tone to not disclose his appearance at Mian Yue Luo at the late hours of the night to the Emperor.
The Emperor received Xiao Yin and Dou Qian Jin at the main hall while Hua Zhu Yu followed Huangfu Wu Shuang back to his living quarters.
After a whole night of no sleep, Huangfu Wu Shuang sprawled on his bed as soon as he returned. As for Hua Zhu Yu, she felt restless and couldn’t sleep. Xiao Yin and Dou Qian Jin were both in the palace. She really didn’t know how to face the upcoming days.
She didn’t know if Bai Dao furen had told Xiao Yin that she wasn’t his sister yet. She was also unclear whether his motive for coming to Southern Kingdom was to find her or for something else entirely. Now that he found her, would he make her return to Northern Kingdom? She reminisced in the events of that morning when she was about to marry off and the tears that Xiao Yin shed whilst drunk.
After a whole day of restlessness, she finally received news that night that Xiao Si was safe. She was also informed that the person who bid against Xiao Yin that night wasn’t Ji Feng Li but actually Nan Bai Feng Rong Luo.
Hua Zhu Yu wrinkled her brows. So to speak, it’s true that Rong Luo had the luxury to throw money around and if he took a liking to a brothel girl it wasn’t something strange. Just, was it really such a coincidence? Could it be that Rong Luo was entangled with some minister in court? And those people hidden in the forest, according to An Xiao Er, were extremely mysterious that he was unable to uncover whose forces they were.
A cold smile crept upon Hua Zhu Yu’s lips; it appears things were getting more and more complicated. But she did confirm one thing, that Ji Feng Li definitely had an interest in ‘Ying Shu Xie.’ If they had not met at Liu Mo’s Residence, who would know that Ying Shu Xie had returned to Yu City, thus in the group of people trying to locate her in Yu City, it certainly included him. Of course, besides him, there were others as well. Besides Xiao Yin and Dou Qian Jin, who else were there? Huangfu Wu Shuang? At present Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t be certain but one day the water will recede and the rock shall appear(the truth will come to light).
That evening, the Emperor hosted a banquet to welcome Xiao Yin and Dou Qian Jin to the palace. The banquet was held in the most spacious area of the palace, Bai Hua Yuan (Garden of Many Flowers).
Though the banquet was announced last minute, Southern Kingdom was not the least bit negligent since it was to welcome the North Kingdom’s Crown Prince and Eastern Yan’s Rui Wang so the preparations were incredibly grand. The number of palace maidservants and eunuchs in the palace was not enough so the attendants and guards of the various masters were also transferred over to lend a hand. Even Hua Zhu Yu was pulled over to help with transferring flowers. Originally there were an abundance of flowers in the garden already but the Emperor still ordered more flowers to be brought in from the market.
The maidservants and eunuchs within Bai Hua Yuan were all occupied with trimming plants, arranging potted flowers, and even laying out a majestic red carpet.
After a busy day, everyone was exhausted once night fell. At this time, Bai Hua Yuan was a scenic sight to behold, not losing in comparison to the heavenly palace. There were blossoming floras everywhere and colorful lanterns were suspended from the verdant trees.
Hua Zhu Yu returned to her quarters to change her clothes, intending to avoid attending the banquet but Huangfu Wu Shuang was unwilling to let her be.
“Xiao Bao Er, today you can’t not go, Imperial Father specifically said he wanted you to perform your sword dance once more because all the palace maid’s dance are too soft whereas the Northern Crown Prince is a barbarian. We should let him be in awe of our Southern Kingdom, that even a little eunuch can perform such a valiant sword dance,” Huangfu Wu Shuang complacently said.
Hua Zhu Yu sneered in her heart. Because of this sword dance she was charged with the crime of ‘evildoer bewitching his master’ yet now she’s ordered to go perform that very sword dance, is she no longer regarded as an evildoer now?
“Your Highness, if so why not let those martial experts perform the sword dance, they will certainly perform more valiantly than this servant.” Hua Zhu Yu said with wrinkled brows.
“They naturally can perform with a sword but they can’t perform a sword dance, furthermore, Imperial Father specifically wants you to perform, you can’t not go! If you don’t want to defy the imperial decree lets go!” Huangfu Wu Shuang did not allow Hua Zhu Yu the chance to refuse again and quickly stepped out.
With no other way, Hua Zhu Yu could only follow after Huangfu Wu Shuang. She really didn’t know if Xiao Yin was going to try anything tonight at this banquet or not!
Inside Bai Hua Yuan, from afar one could see a group of stylishly adorned imperial concubines as well as palace maidservants stationed near the flower busheries. There were beauties everywhere and a sweet subtle fragrance lingered in the air, though it was unclear if it was from the flowers or rouge.
The Emperor have yet to arrive but many officials were already present. Kang Wang Huangfu Wu Shang also came. Huangfu Wu Shuang went to take his seat as Hua Zhu Yu and Jixiang solemnly stood by to wait on him.
In succession, the Emperor’s concubines entered. It appears the number of minister that came to the summer palace were not great. It’s uncertain if it’s to fill the seats or due to other reasons but even the females chosen from the consort selection were also allowed to attend the banquet.
A moment later, Ji Feng Li arrived, accompanied by Xiao Yin and Dou Qian Jin. They strolled through the flowery path and one after the other, unhurriedly entered.
Tonight, Xiao Yin was dressed in robes of deep purple with a golden crown upon his head, inlaid with a brilliant pearl, enhancing his noble countenance.
He casually swept his eyes around the hall and when he looked in Huangfu Wu Shuang’s direction, he very naturally swept his gaze across Hua Zhu Yu’s face. His pair of purple eyes were still as cold as ever but it was clear, deep within the depths of those eyes, a fire was ignited, burning fervently, rendering others fearful.
It seems he has yet to reveal her identity to Dou Qian Jin who appeared more at ease compared to him.
After everyone had settled in their seats, the voice of Chang gong gong could be heard as he loudly announced, ‘The Emperor, the Empress arrives!”