Yuzhi pulled Xuanji’s arm and they both looked up at the balcony just in time to see a young woman walk out with the help of two servant girls. She was dressed in a body of vibrant red silk brocade and her face was obscured by a thin veil of similar color.
She was indeed breath-taking, just as Xia Sang had reported from the information he had gathered from the townsmen. Though the majority of her face was concealed, what was visibly evident was her beautiful eyes, long locks of dark hair and graceful figure.
As Xuanij looked at her face and saw the curve of her brow, she noticed the girl had a subtle charm to her, somewhat betwitching, and she couldn’t help but feel an inexplicable sense of… apprehension and unease. She turned and asked Yuzhi of her thoughts but Yuzhi merely shook her head and said, “This ninth-young lady must be a beauty.”
Perhaps Xuanji was overthinking things, maybe she was being a little too sensitive being in the presence of a woman who was more beautiful than her, she thought to herself.
Xuanji looked back at the crowd and saw that the men were no longer looking at the young woman, instead they were whispering to one another beneath their breaths when a deep male voice suddenly issued from above on the balcony.
“Fellow townsmen, passing friends, I will once again repeat the rules of this event.”
Xuanji’s attention was drawn back towards the balcony where she noticed there were two additional men. One appeared to be a middle-aged man in his 50s, dressed in elegantly-styled robes. Judging by his looks, he must be Lord Yu. Though he was considered to be good-looking, there was nothing particularly noteworthy about him. But from the way he presented and carried himself, he truly didn’t look like an ordinary merchant but rather he gave off the impression that he was from a scholarly family instead.
Following his announcement, many people in the crowd began to laugh. Someone said, “Lord Yu, we are all familiar with the rules by now. Just let the event start so as to not miss the auspicious time.”
Lord Yu stroked his beard and gave a hearty laugh before slanting his eyes towards the man that appeared to be his butler.
The butler understood and turned towards the servant holding a tray behind him. He took the embroidered ball from the tray and respectfully presented it to the ninth young lady.
The ninth young lady received the ball; a faint smile appearing on her lips. With a gust of wind, the veil on her face quivered in concert as an exciting frenzy erupted in the crowd down below.
In the next instant, the colorful embroidered ball was tossed in the air, slowly descending upon the crowd.
The clamor was deafening. Had it not been for the hand supporting her waist, Xuanji would’ve been pushed about by the people in the crowd. She decided to lean back against Long Fei Li’s chest and gave Yuzhi a meaningful look.
Yuzhi quickly came to an understanding. She suddenly cried out,“Hey! Who touched my butt?”
Standing protectively behind Yuzhi, Xia Sang had his hands raised to keep people from pushing towards her. He had been focused on the chaos around them when he heard her sudden scream.
Sounding quite shocked, Xuanji said, “Yuzhi, let me see.”
In the next instant, Xuanji broke free from the Long Feili and grabbed Yuzhi’s hand.
Yuzhi lowered her head, her lips slightly upturned at the corner as she elbowed Xia Sang in the stomach. She then pulled on Xuanji’s hand and employed her internal force to propel the both of them into the air before descending into the midst of the crazy crowd.
In terms of martial skills, ten Yuzhi’s still wouldn’t be able to escape Xia Sang’s watch but he had let his emotions get the best of him and fell victim to her deception. Hearing that someone had touched her inappropriately, anger surged through him as he scanned the crowd, his sharp eyes landing on the man standing closest to her. His momentary inattention had allowed her to make an escape.
Xia Sang was furious and beside him, Long Feili’s expression wasn’t any better.
By the time the two of them were hidden in the crowd, Xuanji turned around and shouted, “Young Master, my servant girl shall snatch the embroidered ball back for you. With your imposing bearing and wealth of riches, to want ten wives and concubines is still quite excessive.”
Giggling, Yuzhi clapped her hands and shouted, “Sister-in-law, why is ninth brother’s expression still like that when you’re snatching a wife back for him?”
“It must be because we’re too late and Lord Yu had already married off 8 daughters. Had we been earlier, we could’ve snatched a wife at every event and he would’ve already had 8 new beauties by now.”
Yuzhi nodded, “Yes, yes! Ninth brother must be thinking it’s not enough!” She then continued, “Tenth brother, no need to be angry, sister-in-law is snatching it for ninth brother but I will snatch it for you!”
Xuanji chuckled, “Compared to your tenth brother, Xia Sang seems to be the one that’s angry, he looks livid.”
From a distance, Yuzhi glanced at Xia Sang and saw the burning anger lining his face.
Since their argument, when he ignored her for the first time, she began to feel somewhat afraid of him….afraid he would not pay her any mind….She brushed her nose and shouted, “Xia Sang, don’t worry, Yuzhi will snatch it back for you instead of tenth brother.”
Xuanji laughed and scolded, “Yuzhi, you pig head.”
Yu wrinkled her face and stuck out her tongue in return, no longer paying Xia Sang any attention.
Xuanji said, “Let’s get the returning pearl1 first and save the chitchat for later.”
(t/n returning pearl is referencing the chinese drama My Fair Princess also known as Return of the Pearl Princess.)
“Just get the embroidered ball! Among the 3 of them, we shall decide who to give it to later.”
“Elder martial brother…Young Master, I’ll go and bring Madam back for you, ” Qing Feng said before quickly disappearing into the crowd.
Long Zijin found it funny and said, “Qing Feng, what elder martial brother, young master? Xia Sang, you should quickly go after Yuzhi….”
Long Zijin turned towards Xia Sang but he was nowhere to be found.
Beside him, Long Feili’s eyes were fixed in the direction Xuanji had gone but he made no move to go after her. Finding it a little strange, Long Zijin asked, “Ninth brother, why aren’t you going?”
Long Feili replied in a low voice, “Apart from the common people, there are at least 2 other groups hidden in the crowd. One group seems to be highly skilled in martial arts.”
Stunned, Long Zijin asked, “Has the news of our secret trip to Leyang Prefecture been leaked?”
Long Feili shook his head, the corner of his lips upturned. “ It’s hard to say. If the other party was aware of our identities, now would be the best time to make a move against us.”
“So that’s why you let Madam and Yuzhi get away?”
“Qing Feng and Xia Sang have gone after them, there’s also the purple guards hidden in the crowd. They’re safer over there.” Long Feili then glanced around and whispered, “Let’s wait and see what happens.”
Long Zijin narrowed his eyes vigilantly. With a shallow smile he said, “Very well! It would be quite fun for us brothers to join hands in a fight today!”
The possession of the embroidered ball continued to move from one person to the next as the frenzy of the crowd swelled to a climax.
“Father, is it about time to make a call for it to end?” Upstairs, a cold smile rested on the ninth young lady’s face. She turned to see her father’s furrowed expression and asked with concern, “Father?”
Lord Yu replied in a low whisper, “I fear the disaster will soon arrive.”
He then turned and whispered something to the butler. As the butler listened, his expression grew flustered but he nodded and quickly retreated.
Yuzhi’s eyes were shining with determination as she leapt into the air and snatched the embroidered ball from a tall man.
“Awesome!” Xuanji praised.
Yuzhi was feeling quite proud of herself when suddenly her hand felt empty and the embroidered ball had disappeared. Taken by surprise, she quickly looked up to see a man dressed in light-blue robes. He was smiling towards her as he said, “I’m much obliged, Young Lady.”
Yuzhi was stunned again, he knew she was a woman! Seeing the turn of events, Xuanji gave the man a once over and saw that he was quite young with a jade-like countenance. He was unexpectedly handsome, she thought, but she quickly shouted, “Yuzhi, get the embroidered ball back!”
Without waiting for her to speak, Yuzhi was already feeling annoyed at heart, her hand reaching out to attack the man but he smiled faintly in return and lifted his sleeve. Instantly, Yuzhi could feel an overwhelming force charging straight towards her and she let out a scream as her body was thrown backwards.
Frightened of the painful impact of the fall, she closed her eyes tightly in anticipation but a hand suddenly pulled at her waist and her body was instantly wrapped tightly in a pair of arms.
Yuzhi opened her eyes and was met with his gentle smile but the words that left his lips were laced with a dangerous undertone. “Long Yuzhi, bear in mind, once we return to the inn, you’re absolutely dead!”
Stunned, Yuzhi said, “Xia Sang….”
Xia Sang gave a cold humph in return and looked up at the man dressed in light-blue robes. Smiling, he stated, “To give and not reciprocate is against etiquette.”
In the next instant, a powerful force was headed straight towards the man who had to twist his body to avoid Xia Sang’s attack in time. He retreated back a few steps before he could stabilize himself. He couldn’t help but feel surprised at the man who had attacked him. If he hadn’t been carrying someone in his arms and reserved some of his strength, he surely would not have been able to avoid his attack. He looked quite young yet his martial skills were already so developed!
“Many thanks for your leniency,” the man raised his voice to speak as his expression coagulated.
Xia Sang smiled and said, “I’m much obliged, Young Lady!”
The man’s face instantly flushed as ‘he’ recalled that this was exactly what he had said to Yuzhi just moments ago. And now his words were returned to him.
Baffled, Yuzhi said, “What? He’s a woman?”
As she thought about it, she grew angry and said, “Damn it Xia Sang, you see that she’s a woman so you don’t care about me and won’t seek vengeance on my behalf!”
Xia Sang’s expression sank and he angrily questioned, “Long Yuzhi, who taught a young lady like you to speak in such a way?”
Standing on the side listening in, Xuanji’s had on a dark expression as she thought, It was I, no, it was Yuzhi that learned it from me, okay I actually didn’t see her learn it…..
“Madam, I’ll take you back. Young Master is waiting over there.” In her ear, a cold voice rang, taking her by surprise. Before she could even turn around, he had already encircled his arms around her lightly as he whispered in a low voice, “Apologies for the offence.”