This chapter 17 of Lost You Forever marks the end of Volume 1 of the novel. Volume 1 was simply titled Lost You Forever, but Volume 2 is further titled Telling of a Sorrowful Love, while Volume 3 has the additional title of Longing Without a Horizon. That gives a glimpse of what is to come, but before we get there it’s time to close the introductory volume of this novel by having some major questions answered while setting the stage for Xiao Yao and Zhuan Xu to stop talking about fighting the big fight and start actually doing something about it. Xiao Yao is the least sentimental female lead in all of Tong Hua‘s novels, and is the least likely to be led with her heart over her mind. She is practical to a fault, the type of girl who will choose a good marriage over a passionate all-consuming love affair.
She asked the Yellow Emperor if she could be with a guy who is already engaged (Jing) or a guy who is the enemy of him and Zhuan Xu (Xiang Liu), and that really is turning out to be the two major obstacles to her happily ever after unless either or both guys gives something up to be with her. Zhuan Xu isn’t really in the picture as a romantic lead right now because he and Xiao Yao are simply each other’s most important person without any subtext on her part and on his part he keeps his feelings for her close to the vest. This story is just about Xiao Yao’s life, it’s about how her life is closely intertwined with Zhuan Xu’s quest for the throne, and in this chapter it’s time to see if both are ready to face the first challenge ahead. I’m honestly exhausted to have translated so much so fast so will be reigning myself back going forward before I burn myself out on this daunting endeavor. Thanks for the great interest in LYF and onward we go towards volume 2.
Chapter 17 – Swimming Upstream Seeking You, The Road is Long and Hard:
When Zhuan Xu lived in Gao Xing, he was living at someone else’s house essentially with the empty title of a Prince without actually enjoying any real power.
Now that he was back at Xuan Yuan and hanging out all the time with his wastrel cousin Cui Liang, he was wining and dining everyday and sampling all the delights of the world. Zhuan Xu gradually got hooked on Cui Liang’s bad habits.
His formerly quiet residence started having dancers and singers in residence. It wasn’t a big deal to have women around, which of the rich and powerful men didn’t have kept women around.
Cui Liang and his friends felt alcohol wasn’t a big enough buzz and started taking pills made from magical drugs that would give them a bigger high and even hallucinations. Cui Liang wanted Zhuan Xu to try it and initially he declined but after awhile watching Cui Liang take it and having their women coax him, he finally tried it when a sultry dancer used her pert mouth to pass a pill to him.
When there was a first time, there was a second time…..and Zhuan Xu and Cui Liang got even closer.
One time Cui Liang brought his buddies and women to Zhuan Xu’s residence and ran into Xiao Yao. She was furious and went to tell the Yellow Emperor in detail without sparing any words. The Yellow Emperor ordered each of his grandsons whipped sixty times, with Cui Liang unable to get out of bed for the next month afterwards. He also berated his Cang Lin and Yu Yang in front of the entire court and had them kneel for two hours. Cui Liang was scared of Xiao Yao after that and never came by the residence anymore and would go a different direction when he saw her coming.
Zhuan Xu stopped coming back to the residence and was always out with Cui Liang. No one in Xuan Yuan Castle cared about Zhuan Xu so no one worried that he was wasting his life away. Only the Great General Ying Long, when he ran into Zhuan Xu and saw him drunkenly trying to say hello, slapped him hard and said “This slap is on behalf of your parents!”
Zhuan Xu got slapped and felt terrible about it, locking himself up to reflect. But after a few days, Cui Liang came by when Xiao Yao was not around and dragged him out after a few drinks.
Initially Zhuan Xu would be repentant and embarrassed after each carousing session, but gradually that stopped. Another time when he ran into Ying Long and saw him angry, Zhuan Xu actually drunkenly pulled out a whip and threatened to beat up Ying Long. Cui Liang had to drag him off since Ying Long was one of the Yellow Emperor’s most trusted generals and was a renowned hard rock.
Within the entire Xuan Yuan Castle, the person who worried the most about Zhuan Xu was Ah Nian.
She would beg him to stop and he would sweetly agree, and then turn around and forget his promise. Eventually Zhuan Xu never came back to his residence and Ah Nian didn’t know the castle so she couldn’t go look for him and could only wait all night until he came home. But he was so drunk he couldn’t understand what she said and definitely couldn’t keep any of the promises he always made.
Ah Nian was so at her wits end she got in a heated fight with Zhuan Xu, even raging at him. But no matter her pleading or her yelling, or even threatening to go back to Gao Xing and never talking to him again, Zhuan Xu would only willingly promise to stop but never followed through.
Gradually, Ah Nian lost her temper and started crying. She hated Xuan Yuan Castle! In the most important castle in the vast wilderness, she encountered the most painful thing in her life. She gradually saw Zhuan Xu become a different person, everyday with a different woman on his arms, and she could do nothing to stop him!
Because of Zhuan Xu, Ah Nian’s formerly innocent eyes that had never seen any hardship, gradually became clouded with disappointment. It was like she grew up all overnight.
Ah Nian finally decided to bow her head and ask Xiao Yao for help to stop Zhuan Xu from hanging out with Cui Liang’s group. She was even willing to take Zhuan Xu back to Gao Xing.
Xiao Yao said wearily “It’s not like I’m not trying to stop him. I tried, I argued with him, I even went to Grandfather for help. We’ve had them beat up but the result is what you see.”
Ah Nian cried tearfully and Xiao Yao said “You did what you can do. If you can’t bear to see him like this, then go back to Gao Xing.”
Xiao Yao’s calm was completely opposite of Ah Nian’s heartbreak.
Ah Nian turned her anger on Xiao Yao “You cold-blooded monster! If it wasn’t for you, Gege wouldn’t have come back to Xuan Yuan. All because you wanted to visit that bad mother of yours and wanted Gege to accompany you. If he didn’t come back, none of this would have happened! Since you disappeared once before, why did you come back? You shouldn’t have come back!”
Xiao Yao glared at Ah Nian “Do not insult my mother, or else I’m going to forget we’re sisters.”
Ah Nian refused to back down because she was so hurt “I never once saw you as my sister so we don’t have sisterly feelings! If your mom wasn’t a bad woman, how could she abandon her own husband? She is a bad woman, who knows which man she ran off with…..”
With a resounding slap, Xiao Yao delivered a blow to Ah Nian’s cheeks and she fell on the ground shaking all over.
Xiao Yao said “This is not Gao Xing, it’s Xuan Yuan. The person you are insulting is the Xuan Yuan Princess. She died in battle for the people of Xuan Yuan and the people remain grateful to her. Just the few words you said is enough for Xuan Yuan to use as an excuse to attack Gao Xing. If you want to be an idiot, then scram back to Gao Xing and stop coming here to incite things.”
Xiao Yao told Hai Tang “Take her back, the poison will wear off in half an hour.”
Hai Tang said nothing and quickly picked up Ah Nian and hurried out.
Xiao Yao waited for Zhuan Xu in his room and saw him carried home passed out drink. The maids were used to it already and helped him change to rest.
Xiao Yao waited until they were all gone before sitting down next to his pallet and staring at him. This was a battle, but Zhuan Xu didn’t discuss with her beforehand so she could only play along with him on her own.
Xiao Yao touched his wrist and took his pulse before putting a pill in his mouth.
Zhuan Xu stirred awake and Xiao Yao said “Stop acting in this farce any longer. By the time the show is over, you would have destroyed yourself.”
Zhuan Xu looked at Xiao Yao “What if it’s not acting? What if I really have changed?”
“What are you trying test me for? That if you didn’t tell me beforehand then I would abandon you? Sorry, your test sucks because I know you too well. I know you’re acting the part. How did you come up with such a brainless plan?”
Zhuan Xu sighed “Sometimes people go stupid.” He really did want to know how Xiao Yao would treat him if he were to become a total dissolute. “If I really was this way, would you leave me one day because you couldn’t take it anymore?”
Xiao Yao smiled “Ask yourself whether you would abandon me in the same situation?”
Zhuan Xu immediately said “I won’t! If you became like this, something must have happened and I would protect you. I would make you better, and if you don’t want to get better….then I would stay besides you no matter what.”
Xiao Yao asked “Do you have my answer then?”
Zhuan Xu nodded.
Xiao Yao said “Those drugs you’re taking…why not ask me for a cure beforehand?”
“Don’t worry, I asked the doctors and they say the drugs are addictive but I have faith in myself to quit it the addiction when this is over. If I want to play act, then it has to be real. I have to let them think I’m so useless it’s safe to send me off to the Middle Plains where there is no way I can ever make anything of myself.”
“It’s not just addicting, these drugs are actually slow poisons and are poisoning your insides.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “But I have you.”
Xiao Yao said “Even if you break the addiction, your powers will be greatly diminished.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “I said before that I’m not relying on my powers to climb the mountain.”
“How much longer?”
“Soon. Soon we’ll be able to go to the Middle Plains.”
Xiao Yao said “Ah Nian is devastated and it’s not because you’ve changed. She can handle you being dissolute and a loser rich boy for life and its not enough to cry over. I saw the way she looks at you with those women. I think she doesn’t just like you as a brother.”
Zhuan Xu covered his eyes “What do you want me to do?”
“How should I know? Just remember that she is my dad’s daughter and my dad raised you and taught you everything.” Xiao Yao wanted Ah Nian to go back to Gao Xing which is why she was so harsh with her, but it wasn’t clear if Ah Nian would go back.
Zhuan Xu sighed “I know, that is why I’ve always genuinely cherished her. I don’t see her the way I do Xing Yue and those other girls.”
“Those other girls?” Xiao Yao twisted his ear “Fourth Uncle and Fourth Auntie was each other’s one and only for their entire life. Never apart in living or in death. You are completely different than them. I’m going to sit back and see how many women you mess with in your lifetime.”
Zhuan Xu rubbed his ear “I’m not purposely trying to mess with them.”
Xiao Yao walked out and said sarcastically “Want me to summon a woman for you?”
Zhuan Xu closed his eyes “I’m still groggy!”
Xiao Yao closed the door and went back to her room, laying on the pallet but unable to sleep.
The insults Ah Nian hurled at her mother were the words hidden in her heart that she was most afraid to face. But in her eyes there was the image of a vividly red robe, and a man with the look in his eyes that was so arrogant and wild that he could eviscerate the world in his one glance, yet when he looked at her mom, his eyes was so tender and loving. And the way her mom looked at him…..Xiao Yao didn’t know it then, but she understood it now.
The way her mom cried when she looked at him…the feeling of the tears landing on Xiao Yao’s face was a sensation she could still feel.
Xiao Yao touched her face as if to wipe those tears away but there was nothing.
Xiao Yao sat up in shock and opened the box on the foot of her pallet and pulled out a bottle of plum wine. Jing found a way to send plum wine every few months now, whether it was because he found the spy or another way to avoid his grandmother, or because of his alliance wit Zhuan Xu and Feng Long.
Xiao Yao gulped down the wine and felt like she got strength from Jing and slowly calmed down. Xiao Yao chased the thoughts of her mom away and drank her wine and thought about her dad. She smiled and her feelings told her that her dad loved her very much! She had to be her dad’s daughter!
A person suddenly vaulted into her room from the window and then immediately closed it.
The sounds of the chasing soldiers reached her, clearly they were chasing someone.
Xiao Yao didn’t yell, didn’t move, and continued to play with the wine bottle in her hand. She said in a slow drawl “I won’t be taken hostage by you so leave now and find someone else.”
The person didn’t accept her suggestion and walked towards the pallet. Xiao Yao counted to ten but the man arrived at her pallet by the count of ten and still hadn’t collapsed by her poison.
Xiao Yao knew this person had strong powers and her poison was unable to fell him.
The man lifted up the curtains around her pallet and sat down on it. Xiao Yao said “You may have strong powers but you’re injured. I suggest again you not mess with me.”
The man was wearing a mask and silently staring at Xiao Yao,
Her body tensed and her instinct told her this man was someone she knew well. She reached out, and the man didn’t stop her, and she slowly took off his mask. It was Fang Feng Bei.
Xiao Yao laughed “I much rather you were making a late night call to my lady’s chamber.”
Fang Feng Bei said nothing and Xiao Yao said “Can you go find your play buddies? Why come to me?”
“Like you said, they are just play buddies.” Blood trickled from the corner of his lips as Fang Feng Bei replied and he wiped it away.
Xiao Yao was torn and she picked up his wrist and then gave him some of the precious medicines that the Yellow Emperor and the Grand Emperor gave her.
Fang Feng Bei laid down on the pallet and Xiao Yao laid down as well and covered them “My Gege can’t control anything right now and my identity isn’t of much use either. If they insist on searching, there is nothing I can do.”
Fang Feng Bei said nothing and Xiao Yao felt he was very strange tonight. Just as she was mulling it over, a loud ruckus came from outside.
Xiao Yao couldn’t do anything other than wait.
She whispered “What did you do? You couldn’t have tried to assassinate the Yellow Emperor, did you? No matter how many have tried, they all end up cut down into pieces. You can’t have been that stupid.”
Fang Feng Bei continued to ignore her.
Xiao Yao sighed “Too bad you’re not a real useless playboy.”
The maid came to knock and Xiao Yao let her knock a few times before answering in a drowsy voice “What is it? What is going on outside?”
“The Prince is leading soldiers doing a search for someone.”
“Cui Liang?” Xiao Yao got up and put a robe around her “He wants to search the residence? What does my Gege say?”
“The Prince is passed out asleep still!”
Another maid quickly said “Princess, please put on your clothes! The soldiers are already searching the Prince’s quarters and have turned it upside down and even the clothes have been shredded. We are afraid they will come and offend you!”
Xiao Yao clenched her fist, she couldn’t believe how much Zhuan Xu could endure. A Prince allowing soldiers to ransack his room like that.
Xiao Yao opened the door and let the two maids in and she went back to sitting on the pallet. The two maids suggested “The soldiers are very brutish, Princess please go elsewhere and we can wait here.”
Xiao Yao smiled “Don’t worry, I want to check it out.”
The soldiers were searching from room to room but had likely heard of Xiao Yao’s spitfire personality so skipped hers for now. They arrived at Ah Nian’s room and were rude, the moment Hai Tang opened the door they wanted to push right inside. Hai Tang wasn’t a pushover either and immediately wanted to fight back, she was trained by the Grand Emperor solely to protect Ah Nian and the soldiers were a piece of cake for her.
Xiao Yao sat on her pallet and laughed.
The Xuan Yuan soldiers had a reputation for being fierce and under the direction of a captain they formed a spiritual maze to tightly control Hai Tang.
Xiao Yao sighed, no wonder the Yellow Emperor was feared all over over, even human Xuan Yuan soldiers were fearlessly opposing a God with powers like Hai Tang.
Ah Nian walked out of her room and with a wave of her hand a row of ice knives appeared and she sent it flying at the soldiers. She was very in control and didn’t aim for a critical spot, but more soldiers arrived and surrounded Ah Nian, and even two rode winged rides and hovered in the air clearly intending to strike.
Xiao Yao told her maid “Go ask Cui Liang if he wants to die?”
One maid was too scared to go but the other maid walked to the door and hollered “The Princess wants to know if the Prince wants to die?”
In a second, Cui Liang appeared with a smile and bowed to Xiao Yao “Why does cousin say this?” He glanced around the room.
Xiao Yao smiled “Not sure what you are thinking but can’t you tell – look at that maid. Can just anyone use her with her high powers and striking looks?”
Cui Liang responded “I thought she belonged to you.”
“No, she works for my little sister.” Xiao Yao pointed at Ah Nian.
Cui Liang’s entire face lost color and he yelled “Stop!”
He was positively ashen “The Gao Xing Second Princess is here and cousin didn’t announce her?” He was even angrier that no one told him.
Xiao Yao smiled “Do you think I care to conceal it. Grandfather could care less to tell anyone and might’ve worried you guys would come bother her. If you don’t believe me, go ask your dad!”
Cui Liang ordered his soldiers to stop but Ah Nian didn’t stop, released her anger at Zhuan Xu and dislike of Xiao Yao on the Xuan Yuan soldiers until everyone was laying on the ground and she yelled “Anyone else want to try!”
Cui Liang knew the Yellow Emperor was aware Ah Nian was here so even if he was furious he didn’t dare take it out on Xiao Yao. He laughed “Will cousin please apologize to the Princess, I wasn’t trying to offend her, I just didn’t know.”
Xiao Yao stood up and pulled open her curtains and said “Do you want to search my room as well?”
Cui Liang quickly said “No, no” but glanced over and saw messy blankets like someone got up quickly and in the corner there was an embroidered chest cover that was visible. Cui Liang’s heart skipped and he leaned down to look at Xiao Yao’s chest, if his cousin wasn’t wearing her chest cover…..
Xiao Yao saw him looking at her chest and her face changed. She pulled down the curtains and said “Get out!”
Cui Liang’s sleaziness was itching to touch her but no matter how sleazy he was he wouldn’t dare touch Xiao Yao and he quickly left,
Cui Liang figured he saw Xiao Yao’s room already and didn’t look like anyone was hiding there. But he was suspicious of Ah Nian but the soldiers were all dispatched by her and he didn’t want a direct confrontation with her. Plus Xiao Yao was half family and he could explain to his grandfather, but offending Ah Nian would be like declaring war with Gao Xing.
Cui Liang ordered the soldiers to leave but remained to apologize to Ah Nian “Because of the vicious criminals, we are afraid the Princess would be harmed so that is why I will leave soldiers to protect you.”
Ah Nian blamed Cui Liang for leading Zhuan Xu astray and was waiting for him to say something wrong so she could take out all her rage on him and beat him up. But he kept apologizing and explaining it away so she could only storm back to her room. Ah Nian could care less about the soldiers outside since she did nothing wrong.
It gradually quieted down outside and the two maids left the room and closed the door.
Xiao Yao extinguished the flame and sat on the pallet and released the curtains. She pulled down the blanket and revealed Fang Feng Bei’s head “Didn’t suffocate to death?”
Fang Feng Bei had his eyes closed and ignored her and she didn’t light another lamp and instead reached under the covers to touch his hand. She felt his pulse to understand his injuries and realized the pills she gave him earlier had no effect.
Xiao Yao released his hand and laid down beside him, staring at the ceiling.
“Who are you?”
“Who do you want me to be?” Fang Feng Bei coldly answered.
Xiao Yao said nothing and after a long time she spit out “You can be whoever you damn well please!”
Fang Feng Bei half rose up and his head slowly descended, but as his lips were about to touch Xiao Yao’s neck her hand came up “Stop!” and his lips kissed her palm.
Fang Feng Bei immediately laid down but Xiao Yao turned herself to the side and handed him her wrist “Bite here.”
“Why not there?” Fang Feng Bei’s expression was tense.
Xiao Yao started to really miss the easy going, whatever goes, totally game Fang Feng Bei “Why do you think? Fang Feng Bei!”
Fang Feng Bei was quiet for a moment and then reached for Xiao Yao’s hand and two sharp teeth appeared and pierced through her wrist. This was the first time Xiao Yao could see him sucking her blood. There was no pain, only the frisson of cool excitement.
Xiao Yao intently watched Fang Feng Bei but when he glanced over her she immediately closed her eyes docilely! How could it be that she was still scared of him!
After some time, Xiao Yao started to feel dizzy but said nothing. This was Xuan Yuan Castle, he had to heal as quickly as possible!
Fang Feng Bei finished drinking her blood and he gently licked the bite and Xiao Yao’s bleeding stopped. When he put down her wrist, there was no bite anymore and what remained looked like a passionate kiss mark.
Fang Feng Bei softly said “Xiao Yao.”
Xiao Yao couldn’t open her eyes and murmured “I’m fine, you heal now and after I sleep it’ll be fine.”
Fang Feng Bei rummaged through her boxes of medicines and took out a pill and fed it to her.
Fang Feng Bei then laid down and closed his eyes to self-heal.
Xiao Yao slept until it was nearly noon and when she opened her eyes, she immediately looked at Fang Feng Bei. He was still laying there with his eyes closed and she relaxed her worried heart.
Xiao Yao knew he couldn’t move but could hear so she said softly “I’m going out to eat since I’m hungry. No one will come in so you heal in peace.”
Xiao Yao got up and adjusted the curtains and walked to the corner to change. After she did her hair she walked out but all along the path she spread poison, and spread yet another layer of poison at the doorway before she felt left without worrying.
The maid who dared talk back to Cui Liang last night was watering the courtyard plants and Xiao Yao whispered to her “Watch them” indicating the soldiers Cui Liang stationed here. She was sure the maid was one of Zhuan Xu’s people.
She nodded “I understand, if anything happens I will raise a huge fuss.”
Xiao Yao smiled “What is your name?
Xiao Yao went to Zhuan Xu’s room where Ah Nian was sitting there. Zhuan Xu was half sprawled on the pallet, the room was a mess, and his clothes were shredded.
Ah Nian was angrily explaining last night and Zhuan Xu seemed upset as well and promised to go deal with Cui Liang later.
Ah Nian saw Xiao Yao walk in and her heart was a bit scared so she shot her a glare before leaving.
Xiao Yao glanced around “Did they search your body?”
Zhuan Xu laughed “No, they just pulled the blankets off.”
Xiao Yao was silent, how dare they!
Zhuan Xu yelled “Maids!”
The maids brought in a wash items and he and Xiao Yao washed up together. The maids brought breakfast and Xiao Yao ate. Zhuan Xu asked “Yesterday was the biggest insult of all time so even if I want to pretend to be the biggest wussy I should still go and throw a fit with them over this one. If you think this place is getting miserable, go back to Gao Xing with Ah Nian.”
Xiao Yao asked “Find out why Cui Liang brought soldiers to search the place.”
“You don’t need to ask, I’ll find out.” Zhuan Xu left with his face ashen.
Xiao Yao finished eating and went back to her room. She was worried she would interrupt Xiang Liu healing so she whispered “It’s me” the moment she walked in the door.
She opened the curtains and saw Fang Feng Bei silently laying there still.
Xiao Yao sat cross-legged on the pallet and quietly stared at him.
Xiao Yao still vividly remembered that it was a Summer morning. She was carefully packing the poisons she wanted to send Xiang Liu and was delivering it to the messenger shop run by the Tu Shan clan. After the product was sent, she was just thinking about how Xiang Liu would feel when he saw a box containing all sorts of beautifully designed poisons. Likely he would call her a weirdo pervert.
When she was happily leaving the messenger shop, he swanned over to her, just like a playboy hitting on a lady. He was all smiles and honeyed voice offering to teach her archery. Xiao Yao was amused and didn’t mind his trying to get close to her. Probably because he always made her feel like he was someone familiar to her.
From the day he taught her archery until now, it had been two years.
During the two years, the two of them were each other’s companion exploring every nook and cranny of Xuan Yuan Castle. He sometimes disappeared, and then would show up again, always with a whatever attitude. Xiao Yao felt like the two of them could have kept playing together like this for forever and an eternity. Because the two of them were just too similar – they didn’t care about anything, willing to try everything, interested in all, and whatever could make them smile. They appreciated all that was beautiful, but wanted to own none of it. Their life balanced precariously between darkness and light, if they chose light then behind them was thousands of miles of desolation, if they chose darkness then behind them was thousands of miles of glittering luxury. But even if they faced the light, they still had one step in the darkness so their light wasn’t completely pure but instead came from never forgetting all the pain they experienced before. The pain followed them forever which is why they were so strong, so brave, so independent, so cold, so no matter what happened, they knew they could keep on living.
Last night when she knew for sure he was Xiang Liu, she wasn’t surprised or shocked in the least. It felt like it was always this way, and this heavy burden in the corner of her heart was lifted, though another burden had arisen.
Zhuan Xu didn’t come back until the night of the second day all drunk with two women on each arm. She heard it was an apology gift from Cui Liang.
Ah Nian was in disbelief “For two women, Gege let someone ransack his residence and even search our rooms and he’ll let it go?”
The servant replied “Prince Cui Liang did apologize.”
“Apologize? Was what happened okay with just a simple apology?” Ah Nian was so angry her voice changed tone. The Xuan Yuan soldiers daring to raise their arms to her, that was just okay with an apology?
Ah Nian pushed the servant aside and stormed into Zhuan Xu’s room but immediately ran out with her face beet red and tears in her eyes. She clearly saw something inappropriate like Zhuan Xu making out with those two girls.
Ah Nian stood there for a moment and then turned and rushed towards her own room. Shortly thereafter, Hai Tang came out carrying their luggage with Ah Nian beside her.
Xiao Yao asked “Are you going back to Gao Xing?”
Ah Nian glared “I heard last night Cui Liang even looked on your pallet and you did nothing! All you dare to do is be mean to me!”
Xiao Yao said nothing and accepted that.
Hai Tang summoned their winged ride and Ah Nian vaulted on before it rose into the air. Xiao Yao called out to Hai Tang “Escort the Princess back to the Gao Xing safely.”
Xiao Xiao saw Xiao Yao looking at the sky and came over “Eldest Princess need not worry, secret guards will protect the Second Princess.”
Xiao Yao said “I know.” Zhuan Xu was the most protective of Ah Nian but this was the first big hurt he inflicted on her. It wasn’t that Ah Nian’s importance in Zhuan Xu’s heart changed, it was that Zhuan Xu had more important things to do so he gave up protecting Ah Nian.
Xiao Yao went back to her room and she held Fang Feng Bei’s hand and checked his injuries. His healing would be done soon.
Xiao Yao placed a set of men’s clothes beside him and quietly left. She could face Fang Feng Bei openly and could be all joking with Xiang Liu, but right now she didn’t know how to face both Xiang Liu and Fang Feng Bei at the same time.
Xiao Yao laid on the garden bench and stared at the moon.
Zhuan Xu came out and sat beside her “Ah Nian left?”
“You mad at me?”
Xiao Yao turned her head to look at him. His hair was wet like he just washed, and he smelled of cedar. Normally Zhuan Xu disliked scents and it was clear he was trying to get rid of a scent he hated with the cedar. Xiao Yao asked “How does it feel to live a dissolute womanizing life?”
Zhuan Xu smiled bitterly “A nightmare! Not just women feel dirty being with a man they don’t like, a man equally feels dirty and disgusting. Honestly, I would rather be stabbed a few times.”
Xiao Yao laughed at his pain “This time you are in the most pain, and since you are inflicting the suffering on yourself, what do I have to be mad at you about?” Compared to the pain Zhuan Xu inflicted on himself, even more was inflicted on Ah Nian.
Zhuan Xu rapped Xiao Yao on the head.
Xiao Yao grabbed his wrist and felt his pulse “You have to hurry, The drug addiction is growing stronger. In another half year, even I can’t guarantee I can break you of it.”
Zhuan Xu said “Soon, soon. Everything is prepared, just one more step.”
“What happened the night before?”
“Something was stolen. The map to Cang Lin and Yu Yang’s residences. Likely things they can’t let other people know so they are freaking out. But I don’t think the thief’s target was them, but instead another two maps that don’t appear important. Xuan Yuan has secret weapons and rations depots in the Middle Plains to guard against sudden war. I’m guessing someone has their eyes on the weapons and rations.”
Xiao Yao was silent for a moment “Want to tell Grandfather?”
“Why tell him? If Xiang Liu sent someone to steal it, then the Sheng Nong resistance army is Cang Lin and Yu Yang’s problem, not mine. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Xiao Yao relaxed “Gege, help me do something. I want to know everything about Fang Feng Bei, from birth until now.”
Zhuan Xu stared “You…..you can’t really be seduced by him?”
Xiao Yao couldn’t stand his probing stare so she turned her face “I’m just curious so can you help me.”
“Fine.” For Xiao Yao to be interested, Zhuan Xu was now curious.
He had been out for some time and he grabbed Xiao Yao’s sleeve, burying his head in her robe and lightly sniffing like he was cuddling and angrily said “I don’t want to go back! I hate those two women!”
Xiao Yao smiled “No one is forcing you to go back.”
Zhuan Xu laid there for a moment longer and then raised his head and calmly said “From the moment my mom committed suicide, I lost the luxury of doing whatever I wanted.”
He got up to leave but Xiao Yao grabbed his sleeve “I can’t save you from those two women, but I can save your nose so you can’t smell them.”
Zhuan Xu smiled and his tight brow relaxed but he smiled gently “No, I want myself to remember well this humiliation. Later when I slack off, I will remember what I endured to stay alive.”
Zhuan Xu left and Xiao Yao stared at the moon until she fell asleep.
She returned to her room at dawn and the pallet was neatly arranged but empty. Xiao Yao sat down and put her hands together and fiddled with the bow callous on her hands.
Three months later, the canal project that Zhuan Xu was in charge of hit a major fallout. The Yellow Emperor was enraged and ordered him back to Cao Yun Court and was to not leave the mountaintop and reflect.
Sheng Nong Mountain had a small Palace that hadn’t been lived in hundreds of years and had fallen into disrepair. The Sheng Nong tribal elders were displeased and requested the Yellow Emperor to maintain and renovate it since Sheng Nong Mountain was the symbol of the Middle Plains, especially the main palace Zhi Jin Court.
The officials conferred, those who were too powerful wouldn’t want to go to the decrepit Sheng Nong Mountain to waste their time and sending someone too lowly ranked would be an insult. This project appeared important but was actually a terrible assignment.
The officials conferred secretly with Ciu Liang and Shi Ju that the Yellow Emperor was thinking of sending one of his grandsons. Those two freaked out – Sheng Nong Mountain had twenty eight peaks and to fix each and every palace on each peak, they wouldn’t be able to come home for eighty to a hundred years! If they fixed it all it would be fine, if they didn’t, the Middle Plains folks would constantly be sending complaints to the Yellow Emperor. Plus their grandfather was so ill, if anything happened to him, they would be thousands of miles away…..
Shi Ju got a great idea and they conferred with their dad, the idea would allow them to avoid this assignment and get Zhuan Xu out of Xuan Yuan Castle for good. Otherwise if he stayed, he might get back on the Yellow Emperor’s good side since only Zhuan Xu could live in Cao Yun Court with the Yellow Emperor and see him everyday, whereas they couldn’t even go unless they were summoned.
The officials pretended to confer in court and one suggested sending Zhuan Xu. The others all quickly supported the idea, and the Yellow Emperor agreed after thinking over it for a night.
Xiao Yao had never been to Sheng Nong Mountain and was curious since it was the residence for the Sheng Nong royal family for generations. She asked the Yellow Emperor to let her go play there.
Cang Lin and Yu Yang both objected since she was the Gao Xing Princess. They suggested sending her back to Gao Xing, but who knew the Yellow Emperor would fly into a rage “Xiao Yao is the granddaughter of me and my Empress. Xuan Yuan Kingdom was built by me and my Empress. As long as I am alive, she can live in Xuan Yuan for her entire life, play all over Xuan Yuan, do whatever she wants!” The Yellow Emperor roared this with his spiritual power projecting his voice and each and every word boomed out of the court so the everyone in the vicinity heard it.
Cang Ling and Yu Yang didn’t know why he flew into such a rage but they all got on their knees to beg forgiveness. In no time at all, the entire vast wilderness spread the news that the Yellow Emperor viewed Xiao Yao was someone very dear to him, as dear as if she was the granddaughter of his son and not of his daughter.
Xiao Yao knew the Yellow Emperor purposely said that for everyone to hear but didn’t know why. She felt the Yellow Emperor was worried about her going to the Middle Plains and worried that the Grand Emperor’s authority wasn’t enough to protect her so he had to throw his added authority on top. To let everyone know that she was the bloodline of the Yellow Emperor and Xi Ling Lie Zhu, so to harm her would be a grave insult to the Yellow Emperor and Lei Zhu.
But who could hurt her? Xiao Yao couldn’t figure it out. She never had any blood feud with anyone. She felt she was over thinking it and maybe the Yellow Emperor was just trying to find an excuse to put down Cang Lin and Yu Yang.
When the Spring flowers bloomed, Zhuan Xu set off for the Middle Plains with a dozen guards in tow. Xiao Yao brought along her maid Shan Hu and a dozen Gao Xing guards and accompanied him.
When the cloud carriage rose from Cao Yun Court, Xiao Yao couldn’t help but look back. Those large phoenix trees were blooming the red phoenix flower and it looked like a red dusk was enveloping the entire court.
Zhuan Xu never turned around and silently sat there.
The last time she departed from Cao Yun Court, the person beside Xiao Yao was her mom. She waved back at Zhuan Xu standing underneath the phoenix tree and thought she was going to be back soon to swing with Zhuan Xu gege. But neither the innocent Xiao Yao nor the grown up too fast Zhuan Xu realized that parting would be for three hundred years.
This departure, they both realized that it would be almost impossible to come back and swing under the phoenix tree together. And even if they did come back, who knows how many years will have passed.
Zhuan Xu saw Xiao Yao pressed against the window looking out and said “I will plant a red phoenix flower tree in Sheng Nong Mountain’s Zhi Jin Court and fasten a swing on it for you.”
Xiao Yao sat up and looked at him. Zhuan Xu gave everything up to go to the Middle Plains. He chose a path of no return. If he couldn’t plant the phoenix tree in Zhi Jin Court, then he likely would never be able to return to Cao Yun Court to see that phoenix tree. So he had to pay any price to plant a phoenix tree in Zhi Jin Court.
Xiao Yao smiled “Okay, I’m sure I’ll love the swinging in Zhi Jin Court.”
When Xiao Yao came back to Xuan Yuan, it was to see her mom’s grave and was unrelated to the Yellow Emperor and unrelated to the politics in court. In everyone’s eyes, she was just the Gao Xing Princess who happened to share blood ties with the Yellow Emperor. But this time, Xiao Yao choosing to go to the Middle Plains with Zhuan Xu, she was pretty much telling the world that she was standing on Zhuan Xu’s side. In everyone’s eyes, Xiao Yao became Zhuan Xu’s little cousin who happened to share blood ties with the Grand Emperor. Zhuan Xu’s each and every action would impact her, and might even cost her life.
Zhuan Xu looked at his hand and scoffed “Am I too selfish? I really ought to send you away like I did with Ah Nian.”
Xiao Yao held Zhuan Xu’s hand “Grandfather said something right, I am the blood of the Xuan Yuan Empress. Within the entire Cao Yun Court, there is only you and I left of that bloodline. Grandmother told us that we have to be there for each other. If you are fine now then I can ignore this, but the way you are now, even if I leave I won’t be able to stop worrying.”
Zhuan Xu said in pain “Supporting each other? All I see is you supporting me, I don’t support you.”
Xiao Yao shook Zhuan Xu’s hand “What’s the rush? We Gods live for a long time and you’ll be helping me one day. I am pretty clever, deciding to help you today so that in the future you can take care of everything for me!
Xiao Yao saw Zhuan Xu’s brows were still tightly knit so she leaned her head on his shoulder and said in a very low very sweet voice “Does things need to be so clearly delineated between us?”
Zhuan Xu was still too serious but his brow slowly unknotted and he softly called out “Xiao Yao” before tightly holding her hand back.
Xiao Yao didn’t know what awaited her and Zhuan Xu in the Middle Plains. That was a place that the Grand Emperor’s influence did not extend, and the Yellow Emperor’s authority was still limited. The most powerful clans and families of the vast wilderness were all based there, along with Sheng Nong Mountain that the Sheng Nong resistance army dreamed about reclaiming. There was the most beautiful vistas and the most bustling commence…..no matter what awaited them there, Xiao Yao knew they had to keep walking towards it.