I’m having such a great time translating Lost You Forever and am loving all the great discussion in the comments section of each chapter. Those asking what they can do to in thanks for my taking on this translation project? Comment more and go ahead and share your thoughts, that makes the hard work worth it for me knowing I’m spreading the enjoyment around. Chapter 9 was a very heavy chapter to read as we finally get Xiao Yao’s back story of how she became Wen Xiao Liu living in Qing Shui Town. She has revealed bits and pieces to Xiang Liu before, but this is the first time she shared the entire experience and she did so with her beloved cousin Zhuan Xu and her confidante Jing. Too bad Xiang Liu wasn’t around to make it a party, but I’m going to say her interactions with Xiang Liu strike the balance of never being able to see the light. She can take Jing and Zhuan Xu home to meet her dad if she wants either guy, but I don’t think introducing daddy to her push and pull buddy is going to fly over so well. I loved how the Grand Emperor met Jing and then promptly asked if he was engaged and left poor Jing sweating bullets. Xiao Yao might be a Princess and her future not always up to her own choice, but it’s pretty clear those around her want to do what they can to make her happy. Her dad is carrying on hundreds of years of guilt, and Zhuan Xu operates on the same wavelength as Xiao Yao which is that they always put each other’s wants first. Xiao Yao isn’t quite back to being a Princess yet, not until there is a way to reveal her true face, but it’s nice that she’s finally stopped running and is home at last. Even if her home isn’t all peace and quiet these days with angry little sister Ah Nian around, but I feel like Xiao Yao loves these little distractions and conflicts because it beats being lonely and left alone. That is what struck me about her and Xiang Liu, that a part of her liked his picking on her from the very beginning, while the other half enjoys the mundane existence of Xiao Liu.
Chapter 10 – Who Knows Your Sorrow:
Ah Nian came to Hua Yin Court to find Zhuan Xu and saw he wasn’t there. She saw Xiao Liu soaking her hands in healing water and rushed forward to upend the bowl.
Xiao Liu leaned back and rested her legs on the table, looking at Ah Nian with a crooked smile and not a care in the world.
Ah Nian glared at him, from head to toe, from toe to head, she couldn’t see a single thing that made this dirt bag any good. Last night she went to complain to her daddy and told him all about Xiao Liu’s various crimes but her daddy instead said Xiao Liu never intended to hurt her so she should stop being mad at him. She was so upset and told him about how Xiao Liu felt her up all over. She thought her daddy would fly into a rage but not only wasn’t he angry, he seemed oddly amused and comforted her “In a little while later, I will announce something and this won’t bother you anymore.”
When Ah Nian left her daddy’s residence, she thought about what he said and how could a woman not be bothered that a man felt her up? That would only be…..if that man became her husband.
Ah Nian felt like she was going crazy! She kept telling herself it was impossible, it could never be! But……he was her royal father, an Emperor who didn’t care about birth and elevated to high positions people who had talent. After he became Emperor, he never named an Empress even though the entire Gao Xing court was against him. He never picked a wife from the Gao Xing noble families and instead brought her mother from a remote village where she was a servant and made her his consort. It was clearly possible that he would marry Ah Nian to a low born commoner.
Ah Nian thought all night about it and rushed to see Zhuan Xu gege to ask him for help, but all she saw was Xiao Liu.
When did Xiao Liu move into Hua Yin Court? How come she knew nothing about it? Why would Zhuan Xu allow Xiao Liu to live in his residence? Did Zhuan Xu agree with what her dad wanted……. Yes, yes! Zhuan Xu was very respectful of her dad, so if her dad wanted…..then Zhuan Xu gege would support it.
Ah Nian glared at Xiao Liu as her face reflected all her changing thoughts. She was alternatively gritting her teeth and then almost bursting into tears. Xiao Liu cocked her head and stared, completely baffled why this chit was acting like this today.
Xiao Liu waved at Ah Nian “Hey, are you okay?”
Ah Nian’s hands balled into a fist and she hollered “I am NOT OKAY!”
Xiao Liu glanced at her fists “Don’t use force, today if you use force then I’ll return it.”
Ah Nian wandered around the yard back and forth thinking of what to do. Beat Xiao Liu to death? But there were servants all around, and there was a strange man lurking near the windows. With her daddy and Zhuan Xu’s smarts, there was no way she would succeed here.
Ah Nian sat down across from Xiao Liu and angrily spit out “Let me say it now – I will never marry you! If you marry me, I will fight with you every day! I will make every day a living hell for you! I will eventually beat you to death!”
Xiao Liu was totally confused “I never thought about marrying you!”
Ah Nian was delighted “Really?”
“But I’m a Princess!”
“It’s because you’re a Princess that I don’t want to marry you!”
Ah Nian didn’t understand why Xiao Liu said that but she was just happy he didn’t want to marry her. She said “If you act even worse then my royal father will not approve of you. He’ll dislike you, so keep on doing that and I’ll forgive you and stop trying to punish you.”
Xiao Liu laughed “Sure, I guarantee your dad won’t make you marry me.”
Xiao Liu raised her hand and solemnly sweared “I promise that the Grand Emperor will never marry the Princess to me, otherwise I’ll die a thousand deaths!”
Ah Nian was relieved and then leaned in to whisper “In a few days will be Little Zhu Rong’s Autumn Tournament held once every ten years. It allows the young people to socialize and also show their talents. All the powerful families in the vast wilderness will be in attendance. Daddy likes you and will send you there to meet people. At that time, I’ll work with you and help you disappoint him.”
Xiao Liu was a bit taken back. Ah Nian really was the daughter of an imperial family. She appeared innocent and clueless but since she was small she was absorbing the politics in the world. She knew the youths sent by the powerful families to the Autumn Tournament was someone powerful and would be the future family and clan leaders. If a person upset those people, then no matter how talented, one’s future was limited. The Grand Emperor would never let such a person have an important position so this was a great strategy.
Xiao Liu looked at Ah Nian “You’re very smart but lack some polishing. If you endure hardship then it’ll polish you so that you can become of great use.” Ah Nian had no need to fight for power or to struggle for survival so she didn’t care whether she was of any use so Xiao Liu chuckled.
Ah Nian gave Xiao Liu a warning glare “Don’t you dare like me!”
Xiao Liu immediately retorted “I will never like you!”
Ah Nian huffed “Then we’re agreed. If my daddy won’t send you then I’ll fight for you to go, so don’t forget your promise!”
Shi Qi stood under the awning to avoid Ah Nian and after she left he came over “You really want to go to Little Zhu Yen’s Autumn Tournament?”
Xiao Liu nodded “Zhuan Xu will go so I want to go with him. Before my dad announces me officially, before things completely change around me, I want to sneak in some last bit of freedom and fun.”
“Are you very close with Zhuan Xu?”
Xiao Liu answered “I’ve never thought about whether we’re close or not. We fought as kids, we argued as kids, I called him Gege when I was happy, I called him Zhuan Xu when I wasn’t. We played together, we laughed together, we ate from the same rice bowl, we slept under the same blanket. When I saw him hurt I wanted the pain to fall on me. When I saw others mock him I was in so much pain for him. Gege’s suffered a lot all these years, his parents both died when he was small, and later my Mom raised him. After my Mom died in battle he was all alone, and when he was still small his various royal uncles all forced him to Gao Xing. Xuan Yuan is his homeland but there is no support for him there. He appears to be doing well in Gao Xing living as a Prince, but he’s been exiled here and even the maids can look down on him. They think he survives by the grace of the Grand Emperor. We’ve been apart for far too long so I don’t exactly what he’s endured, but right now all I want to do is spend more time with him.”
“Do you wish to stay here by their side?”
“I’m willing to spend time with them. But I’m lazy now and don’t want to be the Gao Xing Eldest Princess. But knowing my dad, my grandfather, Zhuan Xu’s personality……even Ah Nian that clueless one knows that it’s pointless to go up against them.” Xiao Liu sighed “If I didn’t reappear it would be fine, but I’m here now so they will never allow me to return to being Wen Xiao Liu. I ran away before not because I was angry at them, it was also because I knew that once I returned to my real identity, it would be harder to leave here than to ascend to the Heavens.”
Shi Qi looked at Xiao Liu “A person cannot choose their birth, even if we are unwilling, we must accept it.”
Shi Qi smiled warmly, a clear and gentle smile “If a heart is like a clean moon, even in the darkened clouds it will pass and the moon will return.”
Xiao Liu pointed to her heart and asked half in jest half serious “But if the lady’s heart is tainted, then will my lord’s heart be clear like the moon and shine it on the lady’s heart.”
Zhuan Xu walked in “What are you guys talking about? I heard Ah Nian came by, did she pick a fight with you?”
Xiao Liu laughed “No, we had a good talk.”
Zhuan Xu apologized “Master already sent word to Grandfather and to the Royal Mother. You know your identity is very special so Master will need to discuss with Grandfather, and also get the Royal Mother’s agreement, before making the official proclamation to the world. So for now your identity will remain concealed.”
Xiao Liu yelped “Royal Mother! That old witch! And that smelly bird Lie Yang, and idiot Ah Bi! Lie Yang will kill me!”
Zhuan Xu scolded her “Stop with the nonsense! Even Grandfather is respectful to the Royal Mother! Also Ah Bi has now evolved into human form and he is called Sir Bi so when you see him be respectful.”
Xiao Liu remembered her childhood on Jade Mountain. Lie Yang was a demon bird that looked like a phoenix. His human form was that of a ten year old boy but he didn’t like to take his human form. He had a terrible personality and every time she slacked off during training he would viciously peck her and chase her all over the peach blossom forest. Ah Bi was a winged fox demon but had not yet trained to evolve into human form back then. He was very smart and very gentle. Every time Lie Yang would peck her he would save her. After so many years apart, Ah Bi now had a human form, and she wondered if Lie Yang had grown taller.
Back then she was too small, she didn’t know any better. She felt that the Royal Mother and Lie Yang were so mean. Later when she used her powers to survive was when she realized what they were trying to teach her. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go back to Jade Mountain, and perhaps they wouldn’t mind that she was a face changing little monster, but by the time she decided to go back she had been captured and shoved in a cage and tortured for the next 30 years. She lost all her spiritual powers and knew she could no longer go back. She could only continue to wander.
Xiao Liu asked “Will Lie Yang and Sir Bi come?”
Zhuan Xu said “If the Royal Mother tells them, they will of course come.”
Xiao Liu sighed “With so much time passed, I’m both excited and scared about the reunion.”
Zhuan Xu rapped her on the head “When did you get so maudlin? Master wants to dine together tonight. I told him all about what happened to you.”
That night the Grand Emperor came to dine with them at Hua Yin Court and Shi Qi was included. This time Xiao Liu summoned all her proper manners to dine, but even back then she was never a right and proper lady plus with two hundred years passed, she pretty much forgot all her etiquette and was awkward all over.
Shi Qi assisted and provided reminders from time to time, whereas Zhuan Xu was totally hands off and sat by with a big smile waiting to watch Xiao Liu screw up. Xiao Liu pouted angrily “You’re just like when we were kids, you’re still a mean older brother!”
Zhuan Xu’s eyes flashed a moment of desolation, but then he laughed “If I’m not picking on you, then who shall I pick on?”
The Grand Emperor smiled “Don’t worry, just eat like you normally do.”
Xiao Liu smiled sweetly “Daddy is the best.” She slumped forward and pulled her sleeves up. After dinner, the Grand Emperor asked Xiao Liu to stroll with him and the two headed out towards Qi Qing Garden.
Qi Qing Garden had an abundance of water, flora, and exotic animals. Legend has it that the previous Grand Emperor loved strolling here the most. Xiao Liu remembered her mother bringing her here often to play. Sometimes staying the entire day, Xiao Liu playing in the water and fighting with the various animals while her Mom read. The entire Cheng En Palace was too big and many places she had never been to before. The two places she was most familiar with was her mom’s residence Cue Xing Court and here in Qi Qing Garden.
Xiao Liu strolled here and felt her nose getting twitchy and her eyes tearing up. It was exactly the same as in her memory and it was just like yesterday she was playing here.
They passed a pavilion and Xiao Liu suddenly rushed in and inspected a post and saw squiggly jagged lines carved on there. She excitedly cried out “Daddy, look! My drawing is still here!”
“And this! This is still here, too!” There were three lines scratched on the past where Xiao Liu stood against it years ago and her dad marked her height. She crowed back then that she would grow taller than her dad until he could’t mark the place for her.
The pavilion had been renovated many times but these doodles were carefully preserved.
The Grand Emperor kneeled with a smile “This was your greatest handiwork, and you told me that I had to keep it forever.”
Xiao Liu suddenly embraced the Grand Emperor, even if they had already reunited, she still didn’t feel like she had come home until now. Now she finally felt like she had come home.
Xiao Liu’s tear tumbled down and the Grand Emperor patted her on the pat, he didn’t comfort her and just let her cry, to let her cry out a few hundred years worth of hurt and pain.
Xiao Liu cried and cried, seemingly really going to cry three hundred years worth of tears. Finally she felt like it was too much and started hiccuping “Normally I’m not a crybaby.”
The Grand Emperor said “No need to feel bad, it’s my failing. A daughter’s tears is a father’s lacking.”
Xiao Liu stopped crying and asked him to measure her height again. He marked a slash above her head and said “You grew and grew, but you didn’t grow so tall that your dad can’t mark your height.”
Xiao Liu stuck out her tongue and then stared at the line with her face crestfallen “I don’t even know if this is my true height. I feel like everything is false.” When she told Zhuan Xu what happened, she tried to act nonchalant as if she was used to having no face. But now her true fear emerged.
The Grand Emperor touched her forehead and gradually a small peach blossom birthmark appeared in the middle. He said “You’re face changing is not some weird disease. It’s because you have a magical spiritual object in your body called the Face Forming Flower. It can allow a person to imprint any face.”
Xiao Liu asked quizzically “A spiritual object? I don’t have a disease? The object causes my face to change at will? But why does my body have this spiritual object? Her face suddenly lit up “Does that mean if the object is removed, then my true face will emerge? I can become my real self then?”
Xiao Liu was so happy “Dad, take it out for me! I hate transforming and would rather that I was a freakishly ugly girl than be a fake beauty.”
The Grand Emperor’s hand caressed the peach blossom birthmark and it glowed a red aura. Back then it required the spiritual power of two Gods, himself and Xiao Yao’s mother, to seal it in Xiao Yao’s body. It would need the spiritual power of two Gods now to remove it. “Right now I can’t remove it but dad promises that I will help you find your true face.”
Xiao Liu wanted desperately to regain her true face immediately but knew her dad had a reason for not doing it right now. The Grand Emperor looked at the birthmark on Xiao Liu’s forehead and in his eyes was such hidden sorrow. He waved his hand and the birthmark disappeared.
After this big worry was lifted, Xiao Liu walked the garden with her daddy in a completely different mood. She chatted about everything and asked about anything. She even dared to suggest “Daddy, can I not be the Gao Xing Eldest Princess? I’m not saying I don’t want to be your daughter, I just don’t want to be a princess.”
“Because you’re my daughter, I am the Grand Emperor of Gao Xing.”
Xiao Liu immediately adopted the saddest puppy dog expression and grabbed her dad’s arm and shook it while pleading “But it’s so hard being the Princess. I have to eat properly, behave properly, and even my marriage is sacrificed to politics and gain. I don’t want to be the Princess!”
The Grand Emperor said “A person needs to have proper manners, it’s not a bad thing. As for marriage, who do you think I’ll sacrifice you to?”
Xiao Liu blurted out “I don’t know who you will sacrifice me to, I just….I just…..”
The Grand Emperor looked at Xiao Liu “I am the Grand Emperor, you are my daughter. You must be the Princess of Gao Xing. This is an imperial birthright, do you understand?”
Xiao Liu lowered her head and whined “Can I not understand?”
The Grand Emperor’s hand caressed Xiao Liu’s head and he said sadly “I’m not like any other dad, I have too much I need to deal with. I worry about a kingdom and its citizens. I cannot just let you do what you want. I need to protect my daughter and the only protection I can give my daughter is my authority. Only if you are the Gao Xing Princess can you enjoy the protection of the entire kingdom. Before anyone dares to harm you, they need to consider whether they can withstand the wrath of an Emperor. Xiao Yao, this is the only thing I can give you as a father who did not do his duty for you. Please don’t reject it.”
Xiao Liu felt her tears about to fall and she took a deep breath “Dad, I’m willing to be the Princess.”
The Grand Emperor smiled “Being a Princess isn’t all bad, at least you can misuse your authority and pick on people. You can be ruthless and lawless, taking whatever you want.”
Xiao Liu gaped “Daddy, are you sure you’re teaching your daughter the right things?”
The Grand Emperor grinned “I work so hard as the ruler of the kingdom and for what? I can’t do anything myself and I don’t have the time even if I wanted to. You don’t have that restriction. I can’t do anything but you can do everything. Who said it’s bad your dad is the ruler of a kingdom with supreme authority and can handle whatever you want to do.”
Xiao Liu was so shocked and confused and so utterly thrilled to have a dad! Having a dad who let her so whatever she wanted was the best feeling ever!
That night Xiao Liu talked to the Grand Emperor all night on the stone steps of the pavilion. She felt like she had so many stories to tell her dad – the first time she killed a tiger, when she stole the snake demon’s egg, when she went to a brothel, when she opened a medical clinic, the farm wife who took her in and taught her to cook, the Lao Mu she brought home, the Chuan Zi and Ma Zi she rescued…..so many things, so many people, she wanted to share it all so her dad would know.
She wanted her dad to know that the last few hundred years wasn’t all pain, there was a lot of fun things and happy times. Not everyone she met was bad, she met some really good people too. All these amazing adventures made her feel like she couldn’t live a right and proper life as a Princess, and in fact she felt like the life she did lead was the one she was meant to live. She didn’t want her dad to feel bad, to feel guilty anymore.
Xiao Liu forgot where she had gotten with her stories when she fell asleep like she used to when she was small, right in her dad’s lap. In the morning, Xiao Liu came out of her room stretching like a cat, wandering the courtyard before leaning on a tree and staring at the sunlight in contentment.
Zhuan Xu and Shi Qi were playing chess and looked over to see her standing against the flower tree. Shi Qi’s heart skipped a few beats but Zhuan Xu teased “Did you steal a fish last night?”
Xiao Liu pulled a flower “I talked all night with dad.”
“You talk the most, but then you act like you haven’t talk all that much.”
Xiao Liu flew forward like she wanted to strangle Zhuan Xu “Let me tell you, I may not have powers now but don’t think I’m easy to pick on. I can make you not talk and not move if you piss me off.”
Zhuan Xu quickly added “Fine, fine, fine. I’m playing chess right now so don’t mess it up.”
Xiao Liu peered at the board and discovered it wasn’t a normal chessboard. It was a magical one used by Gods and she wanted to play.
Zhuan Xu tried to plead “I finally convinced Shi Qi to play with me, when we’re done with this match I’ll play with you.”
Xiao Liu pouted and walked over to Shi Qi “I want to play now.”
Shi Qi immediately put his pieces in her hand and Xiao Liu glared in victory at Zhuan Xu. She picked up a piece and surveyed the chessboard before putting it down and asking Shi Qi “This place good?”
“Very good!” said Shi Qi and Zhuan Xu at the exact same time. One said it in sarcasm, the other in gentle warmth.
Zhuan Xu stood up and pushed Xiao Liu to his spot “Since you’re not going to let us play in peace, you play with him!”
Xiao Liu clapped “Now you’re like an older brother!”
Xiao Liu played Zhuan Xu’s pieces and was her usual reneging on moves and generally being crap at everything. But no matter what Xiao Liu did, Shi Qi was patient and actually was playing seriously. But after each play he would teach Xiao Liu how to play better to avoid the next loss.
The way Zhuan Xu saw it, it was like a kid throwing a temper tantrum and rolling around on the ground. An adult didn’t stop him but also didn’t agree with it, only standing to the side and talking maturely with the kid. After the first time, the second time, the third time, the fourth time……
Half an hour later, Zhuan Xu’s great chess game was a complete and utter disaster under Xiao Liu’s hands. Xiao Liu refused to play another piece and used her hands to upend the entire board and announced “I won!”
Zhuan Xu shook his head with a sigh but Shi Qi smiled at Xiao Liu and looked very wistful and full of longing.
Xiao Liu’s heart leapt a few beats and she calmed down to stare at Shi Qi.
Shi Qi said “I’m leaving.”
Xiao Liu played with the chess piece and said nothing. Shi Qi said “I’ve been worried but now am fully relieved that Zhuan Xu and the Grand Emperor are very good to you and you are very happy here. I need to go take care of my own matters now.”
Xiao Liu said “I know. When are you leaving?”
“Later I will go bid farewell to the Grand Emperor. I don’t want people to know that Tu Shan Jing knows you so I will leave in the middle of the night and take the long route back to Qing Qiu.”
Xiao Liu said “Then go say farewell to my dad!”
Zhuan Xu stood up “I’ll go with you.”
Xiao Liu sat in the courtyard waiting and Shi Qi came back alone after a short while. Xiao Liu asked “What did my dad say?”
“Asked a few matters about my clan but nothing else much.”
Xiao Liu asked “It’s a few hours before sunset, what do you want to do?”
“Nothing. Let’s just sit here basking in the sun, smelling the flowers, and eating snacks.”
All of Xiao Liu’s favorite snacks were always prepared so Shi Qi brought a plate over and sat down in the corridor with Xiao Liu and enjoyed the view of the flowers.
Xiao Liu picked up a duck neck and munched “My dad said that my face transformation is due to a magical spiritual object in my body. When he removes it I won’t transform anymore. What will you do if I’m really ugly?”
“What if I am?”
“You think I’m great if I’m ugly?”
“Everyone can appreciate a beautiful exterior, if I am the only one who can admire your beautiful interior then I’m happy.”
Xiao Liu felt her face redden and her heart beat faster. Shi Qi lately was the type who chose not to say much, but whenever he said something he had her feel totally off-kilter.
“My heart is pitch black, where’s the beauty.”
“I think you’re beautiful and there is beauty in black.”
Xiao Liu guffawed “We’re like two peas in a pod.”
Shi Qi stared at her smiling and she grinned before sighing “You be careful.”
“Even though your mother’s actions led to what your brother did, I know you feel pity and want to stop the cycle of vengeance, but don’t let him hurt you.”
“Worry? What me worry. I just think you’re rather stupid and want to remind you out of the goodness of my heart.”
Shi Qi smiled “I’ll take this fox tail that Zhuan Xu doesn’t want. After I create a magical spiritual object for you, I’ll give it to you.”
Xiao Liu nodded. If the Nine-tailed fox is the King of the fox tribe, then the leader of the Tu Shan clan would be the King of the fox kings. There was no one else in this world better than Tu Shan Jing who knew how to use the fox tail.
They ate snacks and chatted, talking about whatever came to mind, or silently sitting next to each other.
The sun gradually set and the sky gradually darkened.
Xiao Liu couldn’t eat anymore and washed her hands. Shi Qi took out a handkerchief and Xiao Liu reached for it but he didn’t hand it to her. He wrapped her hands in it and slowly dried it for it. Her hands were long dried but he still didn’t let go. He tightly held on to her two hands.
Xiao Liu’s heart was a bit jumbled and she kept her head down.
Shi Qi said in a low voice “Fifteen years. Don’t let another man into your heart.”
Xiao Liu raised her head and said with an laugh “Then what about fifteen years later? Can I let another man in fifteen years later?”
Shi Qi’s face darkened and he tightly gripped Xiao Liu’s hands.
Xiao Liu lightly shook their hands and softly said “Don’t worry and go. Fifteen years, I’ll wait for you.” Since that connection and longing couldn’t be severed, then let it remain for fifteen years. After that fifteen years, whether the thread disappeared or became a web, no one knows.
After dinner Zhuan Xu personally escorted Shi Qi off Five Gods Mountain. When he came back, he saw Xiao Liu laying on the pallet in the courtyard staring at the stars. He sat down “What are you thinking?”
“Not sad? I thought you really liked his company.”
“I really do like his company, but what I know even more is that there is no person who can keep company forever in this life. You and I have experienced too many partings, that heartbreaking gutwrenching sorrow we have endured too many times. I don’t want to hurt anymore so I learned to protect myself. You can call it being rational, or see it as being coldhearted. Zhuan Xu, do you have that feeling? If you have something and you like it so much, you will still remind yourself that it might be gone so you remain rational. Even if you like it it comes with a sense of melancholy, so when the time comes and it’s gone, you can be fine accepting the loss.”
Zhuan Xu slid down the pallet to sit on the ground and he leaned back against the pallet so his head was pressed against Xiao Liu’s head as both of them looked up at the stars. After some time he spoke “I thought I was the only one left in this world. But you’ve come back, so I don’t feel lonely anymore.”
Compared to Xiao Liu, Zhuan Xu was the real orphan. When he was very small, his father died in battle and his mother committed suicide on his father’s grave. His grandmother died of illness, and the auntie who was taking care of him also died in battle. He lost all his relatives who would have protected him. To survive, he had no choice but to leave his homeland and come to Gao Xing all alone.
Xiao Liu said “I’m sorry.” Xiao Yao was a very selfish cruel person. She knew Zhuan Xu was waiting for her, she knew Zhuan Xu needed her, but because of her own fear she kept running.
Zhuan Xu patted Xiao Yao’s hand and said nothing. He always thought Xiao Yao would grow up like Ah Nian in the sunlight surrounded by rainbows, never seeing any darkness or danger. Like a Spring flower blooming so beautiful and pure. If Xiao Yao was like that, then Zhuan Xu would do everything in his power to protect her. But Xiao Yao today was not like he imagined, yet he wasn’t disappointed. Instead he felt like this was the Xiao Yao he really wanted, no, she was even better than he could have envisioned. Despite the long time apart, they could still immediately understand what each other was thinking. Whether it was beautiful, whether it was ugly, one was not afraid to show it, the other completely understood it.
“I have something to tell you.” Some things Xiao Yao kept inside and still never dared to share. She felt revealing it would be a mistake, would be deep pain, but not saying it felt like a bug growing inside her body gnawing at her insides. Only to Zhuan Xu could she share it without any hesitation.
“Tell me!” Zhuan Xu immediately said.
“That Nine-tailed fox said I wasn’t my daddy’s daughter. He said that mom was a slut and cheated on my dad with General Qi Yo of the Sheng Nong Kingdom. He said I was really the demon spawn of the most vicious monster who ever lived Qi Yo.” The Nine-tailed fox constantly insulted Xiao Yao’s mom, and initially she was angry and didn’t believe him, but after thirty years of hearing him say it over and over again, she started to get confused.
Zhuan Xu shot up and stared in shock at Xiao Yao. So this was the real reason she was too scared to come home.
Xiao Yao’s eyes were filled with confusion and terror “The Nine-tailed fox said that Qi Yo and my Mom were a pair of adulterous lovers and I was their love child. He said my mom was devious and lied to my dad and to the entire world by passing me off. If my dad knew the truth, he would destroy the demon spawn that was me……”
“Be quiet!” Zhuan Xu slapped his hand over Xiao Yao’s hand “You believe the words of that demon fox? Auntie killed Qi Yo with her own hands! Plus Master is so smart, how could he not know you’re not his daughter? Be honest with yourself, how does Master treat you?”
Xiao Liu stared at Zhuan Xu with her tears filled with tears “So I’m daddy’s daughter?”
Zhuan Xu said with absolute certainty “You are definitely Master’s daughter!”
Dad and Gege were both the smartest of the lot, and if those two smart men reached that conclusion, then Xiao Liu finally relaxed and smiled “Yes, I’m too foolish, I have to be daddy’s daughter!”
Zhuan Xu let out a relieved sigh and rubbed Xiao Yao’s head “In the future, if you ever hear such nonsense, tell me and I’ll handle it.”
Xiao Liu nodded “Do you know that Qi Qing Garden’s pavilions have been renovated many times but my doodles have remained?”
Zhuan Xu said “Master is a great man. Years ago when my four royal uncles wanted to eliminate me, I remembered my dad told me when he was still alive about the friendship between our eldest uncle and Master. Auntie also told me before that if I ever ran into any problems to write a letter to the Grand Emperor asking for help. I wrote to him when I had no other option left and he wrote back welcoming me to Five Gods Mountain anytime. When I came I was filled with trepidation, but he treated me like I was his real son. He taught me how to run a nation and when I did well he was proud of me and when I made mistakes he never hesitated to punish me. One time I was injured by an assassin and he encouraged me to train my own personal guards. Do you know that my guards cannot even take orders from him. One time he purposely ordered something contrary to my orders, and those guards who listened to him were then killed because he told me that the people who guarded my life could only be loyal to me.”
Xiao Liu said “Daddy is so great, then why would my Mom divorce him? I used to think it was because Dad did something wrong to Mom, but you see Ah Nian’s mom. Ah Nian’s real name is Gao Xing Yi, and Yi means memory while Nian means missing. Her name is all about missing someone and past memories. If Daddy was so missing the past and only had my Mom in his heart, then why would my Mom not want my Dad? Sometimes I really hate her!”
Zhuan Xu remembered his mom and said with a sigh “I don’t know! We can’t understand them! Sometimes I hate my mom, too. Right before she committed suicide, she held me in her arms and begged me to forgive her. She gave birth to me and then abandoned me. How can I forgive her?”
Xiao Liu said “In the future if I had kids, I will never leave them no matter what happens.”
Zhuan Xu said “In the future when I marry a wife, I will ask for her whether she’ll die if I die first. If she wants to die with me then I don’t want her!”
Xiao Liu and Zhuan Xu looked at each other and started laughing.
Zhuan Xu’s chin was resting on the pallet and his face was right next to Xiao Liu’s hand “When I’m done preparing, let’s go back to Xuan Yuan Mountain together. I want to know whether the red phoenix flowers in Cao Yun Court are still glorious, whether the mulberry tree grandmother planted is still as green.”
Xiao Liu caressed his cheek “The road to Cao Yun Court is covered with blood.”
Zhuan Xu smiled matter-of-factly “The road to power is always littered with blood and bones. I don’t just want to go back to Cao Yun Court, I want the entire Xuan Yuan Mountain.” In front of others he was always refined and charming, the noble young master who excelled at the arts and socializing. Only in front of Xiao Yao did he show his ruthlessness and ambition.
Xiao Yao laughed “You go fight for it then!” Just like a phoenix was destined to rise to the Heavens, Zhuan Xu was born to wield power. She knew that truth since she was very small.
Zhuan Xu said “Right now everyone in the Xuan Yuan Court is aligned with our royal uncles. I once used the merman tribe to request a summons to bring Prince Zhuan Xu back to Xuan Yuan and it was immediately opposed by the entire court. So if I am to go back, I need an excuse that no one can oppose. For that I’m going to need to use you.”
Xiao Yao smiled “You can use me all you want.”
Zhuan Xu’s face was nestled in the palm of Xiao Yao’s hand and he said in a low voice “It’s so good to have you back. I’m not fighting all alone anymore.”
“Hey, I never said I was going to help you and fight with you.”
Zhuan Xu lifted his head and smiled “You don’t want to help? But its too bad because I’m your Gege! So even if you don’t want to help, the moment I’m in danger you’ll come running to help anyways.”
Xiao Liu smacked him “You’re shameless! People say a brother needs to protect his little sister, but you’ve got it switched around and are shamelessly waiting for me to protect you!”
Zhuan Xu sighed “I have no choice, I haven’t been able to win in a fight with you since we were kids.”
“And you’re not embarrassed to bring that up now?”
“Xiao Yao” Zhuan Xu’s teasing faded and he got serious “You’ve been whatever goes for so long, but I know you won’t be able to sit back and watch me without getting involved. Once I go back to Xuan Yuan, whatever I do will clearly impact you. The people who want to get rid of me will try and harm you. So why should I act like you won’t get involved? Rather than vowing not to get you involved, I’d rather tell you up front so you are better prepared.”
Xiao Yao patted Zhuan Xu’s hand to indicate that she understood. She said “Zhuan Xu, do you remember? When grandmother was about to die, she grabbed both our hands and said that we were poor children and that we needed to stick to each other from then on and take care of each other.”
“I remember.” It was long engraved in his heart, how could he forget? Zhuan Xu vividly remembered their grandmother’s dying request. Because his parents died so tragically, he grew up very young and he solemnly promised grandmother that he would protect his sister for life. Xiao Yao didn’t understand at that time so she merely copied him and promised to protect her Gege for life.
“I thought grandmother was senile back then since you may be a poor orphaned kid but I wasn’t. Look at us now! Grandmother likely already predicted what would have happened to us.”
Zhuan Xu said softly “Back then the laughter and joy blanketed the entire Cao Yuan Court – and now it’s only the two of us left!”
Xiao Yao was silent and then looked up at the stars. Zhuan Xu also looked up at the stars “Thank you grandmother, eldest uncle, second uncle, mom, dad, aunties, thank you for letting me reunite with my little sister.”