When I read Tong Hua‘s other novels, it was easy to have favorite chapters and even favorite volumes, but that didn’t happen with Lost You Forever. There is always something to savor in each chapter, each with a crescendo and a comfortable lull that is pivotal to building the narrative. That probably also comes with loving all the leads so that it doesn’t matter who is getting a scene, it’s forever interesting and adds to the richness of this magical world. Now that we know Fang Feng Bei is Xiang Liu in every way that counts, it’s startling to go back to volume one of the novel and read his scenes with Xiao Yao and just gape at how cold impatient Xiang Liu from the early chapters could also be playful cheeky Bei. I think Xiao Yao has to know that he likes her no matter what he doesn’t say, but I don’t think she’s being purposely dense. She does not want to deal with that implication, which is why their ocean scene in an earlier chapter where she told him that she doesn’t want him walking into her dreams means so much. We can enjoy watching them hang out in all their chemistry-filled glory, but they are like two parallel paths that can’t cross unless one person makes a ninety degree turn. Jing continues to be strategic and sweet, and I may find his scenes with Xiao Yao comparatively dull, but Jing as a character isn’t dull in the least, he’s just a slow burn that has all the ingredients to be the last one standing. Sometimes love has to be fought for and I love that he’s gotten over his insecurity and understands Xiao Yao loves him for who he is and is willing to wait for him. While Xiang Liu is off fighting a losing battle and Zhuan Xu is off trying to win the keys to a kingdom, Jing is the only one who has only Xiao Yao he needs to weigh in his heart and mind.
Chapter 19 – Standing Out in the Wind All Night:
Xiao Yao’s life seemed to return to normal like when she lived in Xuan Yuan Castle. In the morning she practiced archery, in the afternoon she made poisons, every day was packed to the gill.
Every few days she would go find Fang Feng Bei to practice archery and afterwards head to the city of Zhi Yi and Zhe Province to play. Fang Feng Bei lived up to his reputation as a consummate ne’er-do-well playboy for the last four hundred years, he knew Zhi Yi and Zhe Province like the back of his hand. Whatever nook and cranny had something fun, he could find it, whatever was tasty, he would find it. The two of them were each other’s companion as they enjoyed life’s endless pleasures.
Zhi Yi and Zhe Province were equally as far from Five Gods Mountain and from Xuan Yuan Mountain, so whether it was the Grand Emperor of the Yellow Emperor, it was far enough to make their influence seem tenuous. Those who had seen Xiao Yao’s true face was very few so once she put on the attire of the Middle Plains and lightened her complexion a little and used concealer to cover her peach blossom birthmark, she became an ordinary girl who was quite pretty enough.
When she was with Fang Feng Bei, Xiao Yao often forgot her identity and she would feel like she was still Wen Xiao Liu except wearing girl clothes.
Xiao Yao knew Fang Feng Bei was Xiang Liu, but because this wasn’t the battlefield and he wasn’t being a cold and ruthless battle god, it was like he took off his armor and resumed living the ordinary life as well. He was a spare son who didn’t have any ambition or influence, she was an ordinary goddess girl with very low power. No one ever paid them any attention.
The two of them walked on the street and when they encountered a noble’s carriage they would move to the side and let them pass; when they were berated, they would docilely lower their heads to apologize; when their clothes got dirty, they would wipe it with a cloth.
Since Xiao Yao resumed being the Princess, she was never short for money. The first time she encountered Fang Feng Bei not having enough money and took out her money to pay, Fang Feng Bei’s expression instantaneously turned deadly furious and Xiao Yao was so scared she immediately put her purse away. Fang Feng Fei stormed out without a word and returned in a bit with more money, likely he sold or pawned something valuable on him.
After he paid and they left the store, Fang Feng Bei very sternly said to Xiao Yao “Paying is a man’s job, you stop getting involved!”
Seeing his expression, Xiao Yao didn’t dare giggle so she put on her best serious face and nodded. That night in Zhi Jin Court, the sound of Xiao Yao’s laughter would ring out every so often as she laid on her pallet rolling around laughing so hard until her stomach hurt.
From then on, Xiao Yao understood that it didn’t matter if he had a lot of money or not enough money, they would simply spend whatever amount of money Bei on him. If he had money they would go to nice restaurants, if he didn’t have much they would eat at a street stall.
One time after lunch, Bei only had two coins on him and they had no choice but to take a twirl at a gambling den to earn enough money for the rest of their afternoon play. The gambling den proprietor saw Fang Feng Bei and instantly looked upset, it was likely not Fang Feng Bei’s first time there to earn money. Thankfully when he had money he would gamble and lost a lot so he wasn’t banned from there.
Xiao Yao gradually understood what Xiang Liu meant – he wasn’t pretending to be Fang Feng Bei. He was just being himself. To him, Fang Feng Bei was like having a job that gave him a lot of freedom and he didn’t need to work everyday. When he did work for the Fang Feng family, they would give him money. If he didn’t have enough money, he would work side jobs. As for what being Xiang Liu meant to him, Xiao Yao didn’t know and didn’t dare ask.
Jing would come visit Xiao Yao in Sheng Nong Mountain every three or four days.
Sheng Nong Mountain was huge and there was too much to explore. Other than the maids and guards stationed at the Palace, many places had no one living there and was very quiet. Sometimes they would play in the water, other times they would go nowhere and stay in the hut in Cao Ao Summit.
A lot of hibiscus trees grew around Zhi Jin Court and Xiao Yao often picked the leaves to use to wash Jing’s hair.
She soaked the hibiscus leaves in water to create a fragrant bubble which she ladled over Jing’s hair. His hair was beautiful, thick and lustrous, smoother than silk, and Xiao Yao loved using her fingers to comb through it as she washed his hair.
Perhaps it was due to her always taking care of Jing when they first met, but Xiao Yao was very used to taking care of Jing now. On time she remembered the first time she washed his hair and couldn’t believe that the decimated near dead person was this man now.
She wanted to take his robe off and check to see if the hideous scars were still on his body, but she didn’t dare since she was not Wen Xiao Liu and he was not Ye Shi Qi.
Xiao Yao never concealed where she went and Jing knew she was spending a lot of time with Fang Feng Bei but he never said anything or asked anything.
Actually deep down inside, Xiao Yao wanted him to ask. But he likely thought he had no right to stop her so he didn’t ask. He never even mentioned that Fang Feng Bei looked just like Xiang Liu, not sure if he investigated and found nothing suspicious, or he didn’t think it mattered.
Since Jing didn’t mention it, Xiao Yao didn’t bring it up.
Just like that, a year went by in her life.
After four years of practicing archery, Xiao Yao’s skills was moderately developed. The bow she was using wasn’t suitable for her anymore. Fang Feng Bei took Xiao Yao to a weapons store owned by the Tu Shan clan to select a new bow.
Xiao Yao knew a good weapon wasn’t cheap and if she wanted the store to bring out the good ones to show them, she couldn’t be dressed too shabby so she picked an outfit made of very expensive material,
Fang Feng Bei asked the sales clerk to bring out all the weapons made by the famed weapons forging Jin Tian family. The sales clerk sized them up and figured they could afford it so led them to the back courtyard to try out the weapons.
Xiao Yao picked up the bows and pulled it back to try, realizing each was different. A small red bow, Xiao Yao pulled but couldn’t move the string and felt it wasn’t suitable for her so put it aside.
Fang Feng Bei picked it up and handed it back to her “Try again.”
Xiao Yao stood firm and pulled back the string again but it still wouldn’t budge.
Fang Feng Bei walked behind her and held her hand and gently guided it and Xiao Yao was able to pull back the string.
Xiao Yao released the arrow and it hit the dummy right in the center of the chest.
Xiao Yao happily said “This bow is it!”
“Second brother, Xiao Yao.” Yi Yang’s happy voice rang out.
Xiao Yao turned around and saw Jing and Yi Yang walking in, and even if Jing knew Xiao Yao saw Fang Feng Bei often, this was the first them he saw them out together. Xiao Yao didn’t think it was a big deal so smiled back. Jing glanced at Xiao Yao and Fang Feng Bei before quietly standing to the side.
Yi Yang smiled as her eyes stared at Fang Feng Bei’s hand resting on Xiao Yao’s waist and the other on her bow hand “We also came to buy weapons and what a surprise running into you two here. Is second brother teaching Xiao Yao how to shoot?”
Bei released Xiao Yao’s hand and smiled very warmly. Xiao Yao knew what he was thinking because four years ago she had the thing misconception, that Bei was teaching her archery as a method to pick girls up.
Yi Yang saw the red bow and picked it up and pulled back the string before praising “Definitely a Jin Tian family made weapon, worth a sky high price!”
Xiao Yao suddenly remembered the arrow that pierced Zhuan Xu’s chest and said with a smile “I’ve heard your skills are legendary. In my eyes, Bei is already incredible but he claims his skills cannot even compare to yours. Can you show me today?”
Yi Yang stared at the test dummy in the distance and said nothing. Xiao Yao was about to change the subject when Yi Yang gave a small smile “Why not?”
She picked up a bow and arrow and pulled back, and in that split second her entire aura changed. She stared at the test dummy and her eyes were filled with rage and barely tamped down disgust, like the test dummy was someone she hated with her entire being.
Whoosh, the arrow left the bow and pierced the test dummy’s throat clean to the other side. Xiao Yao didn’t even see Yi Yang grab more arrows but she grabbed two more and released both which pierced the test dummy’s two eyes. Yi Yang’s form didn’t even change and she smiled coldly as if she just let off some steam.
A moment later her form relaxed and she became very sweet and docile “Sorry for the bit of showing off.”
Xiao Yao felt a shiver go down her spine but forced a bright smile and clapped loudly, innocently saying to Bei “You have to teach me, I want to be as good as Yi Yang.”
Yi Yang looked at Xiao Yao and a flicker of disgust floated past. Bei was leaning against a pole and lazily drawled “You will never be able to learn that skill.”
Yi Yang laughed “Second brother, how can you not give your disciple some positive confidence? Please teach the Princess well!”
Yi Yang was handed the two daggers she was here to buy and after inspecting it, the clerk packaged it up for her.
The sales clerk of course didn’t know Jing and Yi Yang’s identity but he still handed the package to Jing for him to pay. Yi Yang glanced at the weapons and suggested “Jing, please pay for the bow and arrow for my second brother!”
That suggestion made Xiao Yao completely uncomfortable and Xiao Yao didn’t know why but in that moment any man could pay for that bow and arrow for her except for Jing!
Xiao Yao took the bow and arrow from the sales clerk and put it in Bei’s hands and said with a smiling pout to Bei “If Master Jing were to pay for it, then wouldn’t it become a gift from Master Jing to me?”
Bei stared at Xiao Yao and his gaze was icy cold.
Xiao Yao bit her lip and lowered her head, Xiang Liu was not just any man. She just made a huge huge mistake!
Bei’s gaze was still icy cold but he smiled and took out money and turned to Yi Yang and Jing “I’ll accept the thought but this bow and arrow is my present to Xiao Yao so I can’t let you guys pay for it.”
Yi Yang smiled and apologized to Xiao Yao “I’m sorry, I was too inconsiderate.”
Bei said to Jing and Yi Yang “You two enjoy shopping, we have to leave now.”
Xiao Yao followed behind Bei and quickly left the store.
Bei tossed the bow and arrow at Xiao Yao and coldly said “Pay me back for it.”
Xiao Yao took out money and gave him the exact amount he paid for it.
There were two beggars on the side of the street and Bei took Xiao Yao’s money and put it in front of them. Both beggars eyes opened wide to see so much money before them.
Bei smiled “For you both” before turning and striding off.
Xiao Yao stared at the two beggars who were weeping tears of joy and hugging each other, and she completely understood what Xiang Liu meant by doing that.
That night the little nine-tailed fox astral projection came to find Xiao Yao but she buried her head in her blanket and refused to acknowledge it.
After a long time, Xiao Yao peeked out from under the blanket and the little white fox was still sitting on her pallet with its head cocked quizzically staring at her, as if confused why Xiao Yao was playing hide-and-seek with it.
Xiao Yao said “Go away!” but it blinked and didn’t understand.
Xiao Yao waved at it but it had no form so her hand passed through its body. It still wagged its tail cutely and stared at Xiao Yao.
Xiao Yao took two pills and fell into a deep sleep.
In the morning, Xiao Yao drowsily woke up and saw the little white fox still sitting on her pallet with its head on its paws staring at her.
Xiao Yao moaned “What are you still doing here?”
Because it was still here, Xiao Yao didn’t dare leave her room and called Shan Hu in to help her.
Shan Hu saw the little white fox and tried to hug it but her hands passed through its body. She exclaimed “What kind of magic is this to conjure up such a cute little nine-tailed fox.”
Xiao Yao woke up, had breakfast, and the little white fox followed her.
The entire day, no matter what Xiao Yao did, the little white fox followed her. He stuck to Xiao Yao to the point that she literally couldn’t even muster up the energy to be angry anymore.
That night Xiao Yao sat face-to-face with the little white fox.
Xiao Yao had her head in her hands deep in worry, the little white fox stayed all day and all night. Jing that idiot couldn’t have been waiting in Cao Ao Summit this entire time, could he? Xiao Yao was in a pique and thought – if I never show up, can you really wait forever? There is no one who can wait an entire lifetime in this world!
The little white nine-tailed fox rested his head on his little clawed paws and stared at Xiao Yao with his black bright eyes, as if he was also very mopey.
Zhuan Xu’s voice shouted “Xiao Yao!”
Shan Hu answered “The Princess is in her room.”
The little white fox appeared to know it couldn’t afford to upset Zhuan Xu, so with one last pathetic look at Xiao Yao, it swished its tails and vanished into thin air.
Zhuan Xu rushed in and Xiao Yao asked “What’s wrong?”
Zhuan Xu said “Today Jing and Yi Yang attended a friend’s banquet and as they were leaving he was attacked.”
Xiao Yao’s heart leapt “He….he….how is he?”
Zhuan Xu braced Xiao Yao “The injuries are likely severe. The news I received said that a spear with two different poisons on it pierced his vital organ. Tu Shan clan has sealed all avenues of information so it’s not clear if he’s dead or alive. I asked Feng Long to look into it….”
Xiao Yao pushed Zhuan Xu’s hand away and stumbled and ran outside. Zhuan Xu anxiously called “Xiao Yao, where are you going?”
“I’m going to look for Jing.”
Zhuan Xu stopped her “Even if you get to Qing Qiu, you won’t be able to see him. Why not wait for Feng Long….”
Xiao Yao replied “I’m not going to Qing Qiu, I’m going to within Sheng Nong Mountain to look for Jing.”
Zhuan Xu saw Xiao Yao’s anxiety so summoned his winged ride “I’ll take you.”
They flew towards Cao Ao Summit and Jing was standing in the doorway shrouded by fog, not moving at all as if he was a pole.
Xiao Yao let out a sigh of relief, half happy and half angry as she yelled “He’s such an idiot!”
Zhuan Xu quizzically asked “Is that Jing?”
Before the winged ride landed Xiao Yao already jumped off. Jing saw her and regained a semblance of life, smiling at her “You came!”
Standing in the mountain fog for so long, Jing’s robe was all damp and he had dew on his face. Xiao Yao didn’t know whether to laugh or rage and hit him a few times “You idiot, you scared me to death!”
Zhuan Xu remembered the fox tail doll substitute that Jing made for him and understood what happened. He asked “You’ve been in Sheng Nong Mountain this whole time? The Jing on the outside is your substitute?”
Jing answered “Since entering the mountain yesterday afternoon, I’ve not left. Today I was supposed to attend a family friend gathering but since I didn’t see Xiao Yao, I sent the substitute in my place.”
Zhuan Xu couldn’t figure out what he was feeling. Jing being alive had one hundred benefits for him and not a single detriment, but when he heard Jing was attacked, even though he was upset about it, hearing what Jing just said, he also couldn’t feel happy either. Zhuan Xu smiled “As long as you’re safe. Hurry back then! Your substitute is gravely injured and all of Qing Qiu is a mess.”
Xiao Yao pleaded “Gege, I want to be alone with Jing for a bit, just a little bit.”
Zhuan Xu smiled and vaulted on the winged ride “I’ll head back and Xiao Xiao will come pick you up in a bit.”
Xiao Yao watched Zhuan Xu leave before turning to Jing. He suddenly grabbed her in a tight embrace and his damp body immediately soaked her through. She hugged him back and lightly held onto him as if to give him warmth.
After a huge scare, Xiao Yao wasn’t in the mood to be angry at him anymore “I didn’t come see you not because I had someone else in my heart, but because I was unhappy. You said you would end the engagement, so what was that in the weapons store?”
“A friend invited Yi Yang and I to visit and that friend collects daggers so I went to buy a present and ran into Yi Yang on the street and she insisted on coming with me.”
“Did you bring up ending the engagement with Yi Yang?”
Jing answered “Yi Yang was becoming colder and colder to me and I wanted to find time to discuss with her about ending it, but after Feng Long’s birthday, she suddenly changed her attitude and was so solicitous of me. She even mentioned to my grandmother how she was often looked down upon as if hinting she wants to get married sooner. Grandmother always felt like she didn’t do enough for Yi Yang who suffered a lot, so she came to plead with me to give Yi Yang a title. Even if I like another girl, I can just marry another concubine.”
Xiao Yao pushed him “Dream on!”
Jing grabbed her quickly “I didn’t say yes! I couldn’t convince my grandmother so I went to talk to Yi Yang about her ending the engagement. I told her I liked someone else and wanted to cancel our engagement, I was willing to give her whatever compensation she wanted. But Yi Yang said she didn’t care how many women I married as long as she was my first wife.”
Xiao Yao laughed “Can’t imagine she’s so magnanimous! I think you should marry her and then later you marry your own harem and live in bliss!”
Jing said painfully “Xiao Yao, stop mocking me! Can’t you understand? Because she could care less about me, that is why she doesn’t care. All she wants is the title of the wife of the Tu Shan clan leader!”
Xiao Yao stopped smiling and asked “And then?”
“Yi Yang knew I wanted to end the engagement and went to cry in front of my grandmother. She reminded her that years ago her dad wanted to end the engagement and she put on her wedding dress and came to Qing Qiu. She never thought about leaving after that. If I want to kick her out, then she’ll kill herself because she wasn’t good enough for me. She said she was willing to serve the same husband with other women and be filial to grandmother….. Now grandmother thinks I’m the one being unreasonable and refuses to end the engagement. Yi Yang comes off as understanding and open-minded so grandmother is completely on her side.”
Xiao Yao asked “So you guys are stuck at an impasse?”
Jing nodded his head “I can’t end the engagement, they can’t force me to marry Yi Yang.”
Xiao Yao sighed – just like Zhuan Xu said, it would be very difficult for Jing to end the engagement.
Xiao Xiao whooshed past on her winged ring as if to remind Xiao Yao it was time to go back. Xiao Yao said “I promised you fifteen years. As long as you don’t marry, I’ll keep that promise. Don’t worry about Yi Yang for now. Gege said there was over a dozen assassins. Who do you think was behind it? Hou?”
“To assassinate me in Qing Qiu, it could only be him. But….” Jing furrowed his brow “My brother isn’t someone who is that rash. Why the sudden rash gesture? Since I returned he has been very careful around me, and the few tries he’s made have been very low key so no one can trace it back to him. Today something must have triggered him to go all out and try and kill me. Or maybe it’s not him?”
Xiao Yao said “Who cares if it’s him, just know that someone dared to assassinate you in broad daylight in Qing Qiu. Think about how to protect yourself! I used all that energy to save you years ago, it was not to let you go die now!”
“Don’t worry, I may not want to kill my brother, but I won’t let him harm me. He did so much this time I can use this chance to eliminate all his cohorts within the clan, which can also help Zhuan Xu so that people within my clan don’t cause problems for him.”
Xiao Yao said “Just be careful.”
Jing replied “I know.”
Xiao Xiao flew over again and Xiao Yao said “I need to go, if I don’t go back, Zhuan Xu will be angry.”
Xiao Yao waved Xiao Xiao down and vaulted on the winged ride.
Jing watched her completely disappear form sight before longingly leaving.
The next day, Xiao Yao learned from Zhuan Xu that this assassination was planned in detail and arrived in force. If Jing hadn’t used the substitute by coincidence, he might not have survived it.
A few days later, news broke that Tu Shan Jing would survive but there was no word on who was behind the assassination so this matter remained an unsolved mystery.
In private when Jing and Hou were alone, Hou arrogantly admitted he sent people to kill Jing and told Jing to get him back.
Jing didn’t have the heart to get rid of Hou but started clipping his wings.
During the investigation into the assassins, the shop owners of many Tu Shan clan businesses started getting replaced and this went on for three months before it ended.
The Tu Shan clan businesses extended through the vast wilderness and across all industries. Hou supported Cang Lin and Yu Yang so ever since Zhuan Xu arrived in the Middle Plains, the Tu Shan clan businesses kept tabs on Zhuan Xu and would try to undermine him.
This time Jing rearranged the clan businesses, it also took some pressure off Feng Long and Zhuan Xu.
Feng Long snuck into Sheng Nong Mountain and chuckled to Zhuan Xu “Jing’s assassination attempt was for the best! Hou doesn’t seem like such a moron but how did he do something so brainless this time? Totally out of character, like an angry woman at her wit’s end.”
Zhuan Xu laughed “You now say it was for the best, but when Jing was assassinated you said something else. An assassination if succeeded is a very powerful and deadly attack. Hou would have gotten rid of Jing and taken over the Tu Shan clan just like that.”
Xiao Yao listened to the conversation and suddenly flashed back to that day in the weapons shop and how Fang Feng Yi Yang pulled the bow back to shoot the test dummy. But upon closer analysis, if Jing died and Hou was the clan leader, Yi Yang would marry Jing’s plaque and live a life alone as the wife of the former leader. Only if Jing was alive would she get whatever she wanted.
Xiao Yao shook her head. It couldn’t be Yi Yang!
Xiao Yao berated herself to not think badly of Yi Yang just because of Jing. Yi Yang may not love Jing but she was engaged to him and wouldn’t resort to killing him.
Zhi Jin Peak, a bright and glorious morning.
Xiao Yao was tending to the fire pit and her face was bright red with sweat dotting her forehead.
She felt the time was right and put on her gloves before opening the cover of the pot to take out the mold. She put it inside a pail of ice water until the mold solidified. Xiao Yao poured the mold out and individual mold pieces tumbled on the table, some pink, others green, and even yellow.
Zhuan Xu walked into this “medicine making room” and saw Xiao Yao intent on her work. He said nothing and stood in the corner to watch quietly. There were colorful molds strewn all over the table but the shapes were odd. Some looked like flower petals, others like leaves, he really couldn’t figure out what she was making.
Xiao Yao took out a rectangular glass plate, it was dark on both ends and white in the middle like the backdrop of an ink portrait without nothing on it.
Xiao Yao used a brush and covered the white part once with a liquid.
Xiao Yao washed her hands and then put it in the ice water for some time before wiping it with a clean cloth. She then picked up the molds from earlier and used a small paring knife to start carving the molds. She finished one and would put it on the plate as if she was painting on it.
Zhuan Xu was curious so walked over and he saw Xiao Yao’s slender fingers expertly at work and gradually the white plate was covered with a green lily frond and there was dew on it that appeared like it was about to slide off. A pink lily appeared and the yellow nectar inside formed. Within the lilies two salmon peeked out from under the water shyly.
The entire morning passed and an entire salmon frolicking in a lily pond tableau was created. Other than having no sound, everything was there even the scent of the lilies.
Xiao Yao stared at it intently and then smiled in satisfaction.
Zhuan Xu clapped “Scent, visuals, and taste – it’s all there. Makes me want to take a bite.”
Xiao Yao made a face at him “It’s all poison.”
Zhuan Xu shook his head “Can’t figure out what this weird hobby of yours is. Who makes poisons into a delicacy. Your poison making room is pretty much a kitchen.”
Xiao Yao carefully picked up the plate and put it inside a box before shutting it and wrapping it up in a cloth.
Zhuan Xu asked warily “You can’t be giving that to someone?”
Xiao Yao laughed “Secret.”
Zhuan Xu sighed “I can’t decide if you like this person, or hate this person.”
After a morning of sitting Xiao Yao’s back ached and she rubbed her back and asked “How come you have time to come watch me make poisons?”
Zhuan Xu said “I have something to discuss with you.”
Xiao Yao got serious “Go ahead.”
“Feng Long invited you out a couple of times and you turned him down every time?”
“Yup.” Xiao Yao’s eyes twirled and she asked “You want me to say yes?”
Zhaun Xu nodded. Xiao Yao didn’t understand “Isn’t there Xing Yue? If you want to announce a marriage alliance, it’s enough for you to marry Xing Yue!”
“Xing Yue is Xing Yue, her last name is Sheng Nong. Feng Long is Feng Long, his last name is Chi Sui and he’s the next Chi Sui clan leader. You are you, carrying the bloodlines of the Yellow Emperor and the Grand Emperor.”
Xiao Yao furrowed her brows “You can’t be wanting me to marry Feng Long?”
“What’s wrong with Feng Long?” Zhuan Xu was confused now – Tu Shan Jing was engaged, Fang Feng Bei was a profligate spare son, compared to both guys Feng Long was so much better. He was powerful and talented with a great family background. Yet Xiao Yas would rather spend all her time with Fang Feng Bei wandering the desolate mountainside looking at wild flowers instead of going with Feng Long to regal Sheng Nong mountain to view the famed peonies.
Xiao Yao chuckled “If I tell you the truth, you promise not to throttle me?”
“It can’t be good, but fine, I promise not to throttle you.”
Xiao Yao giggled “There is nothing wrong with Feng Long, other than he reminds me of you. He’s too calculating about everything. If he wants to meet me, it’s not because he thinks I’m all that wonderful, its merely that he’s weighed all the girls around him and decided I’m the most suited to be his wife.”
Zhaun Xu was exasperated and pretend to deck her. “Because he’s like me, so you don’t want him?”
Xiao Yao ducked “You said you wouldn’t beat me.”
Zhuan Xu still bopped her on the head “In his position, he is not allowed to not be calculating. Even if he measures and weighs everything, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have sincere feelings as well.”
Xiao Yao pouted “Are you seriously trying to help him? Are you my brother or his brother?”
Zhaun Xu sighed “Of course I’m your Gege, and if you really don’t like him then I won’t push. Plus I can’t push even if I wanted to. But for my sake at least try to give the guy a bit of face. Xing Yue has already asked me to help many times, and Feng Long is pretty prideful and can’t ask me directly but indicated enough he wants my help.”
Xiao Yao thought about it and asked “Do you need Feng Long’s help in the Middle Plains?”
Zhuan Xu nodded and then pulled Xiao Yao into his arms in a tight embrace before leaning down and whispering in her ear “I’m secretly assembling an army.”
Xiao Yao sucked in her breath and almost forgot to breathe.
There was a lot of money needed to renovate the Palace and Tu Shan clan supplying the material can offer different prices to skim off the top, so Zhuan Xu had the funds to build an army. The workers coming and going allowed the soldiers to sneak in as well. Sheng Nong Mountain was thousands of miles vast with so many places to create a spiritual barrier maze to hide a secret army. In the Middle Plains, he could quietly without detection build an army, and with Zhuan Xu’s personality, this allowed him to not wholly rely on Feng Long here.
This would be the ideal path, but if their grandfather found out…..it would be the death penalty!
Xiao Yao stared at Zhuan Xu but he just smiled with complete conviction in his eyes.
Zhuan Xu explained “The Four Great Clans have survived tens of thousands of years by keeping their bloodlines flowing with one main principle – do not get involved in any political battles. That suits someone like Jing, but it hampers someone with ambition like Feng Long. He is already sick and tired of his clan elders nagging. I need Feng Long, but he also needs me. With a sage ruler, but without a wise official, no great deeds can be accomplished; without a sage ruler, even the wisest official can have no future. Only when a sage ruler pairs with a wise official can an empire be built that will last for generations.”
Xiao Yao said “I’ll treat Feng Long as a friend, meet him, chat, even go play. I can do all that, but I will never marry him.”
Zhuan Xu laughed “That’s more than enough. What happens in the future no one will know so let’s just wait and see!”
Xiao Yao smiled “I’ll go find him in the next few days.”
Zhuan Xu softly coughed “Xing Yue invited you to go stay at the Little Zhu Rong residence for a bit.”
Whether it was Feng Long’s desire, or Xing Yue’s own plans, but when it came to matchmaking her brother and Xiao Yao, she was going all out.
Xiao Yao asked “Zhuan Xu, will you marry Xing Yue?”
Zhuan Xu thought about it and said “Depends on her! If she wants, I’ll marry her. She is the descendant of the Sheng Nong royal family, marrying her gives legitimacy to me with the people of the Middle Plains. To rule the world, one needs to use force and to use persuasion. Force is to subdue everything with might, persuasion might seem unnecessary but is actually a must as well.”
Xiao Yao sighed “Since my future sister-in-law is inviting me, then I’ll go and start getting on good terms with her.”
Zhuan Xu stared at Xiao Yao and his eyes showed his conflicted emotions.
Xiao Yao asked “Did I say anything wrong?”
Zhuan Xu lowered his eyes and said with a laugh “If I knew you would use this reason to agree, I wouldn’t have wasted my time trying to convince you and even told you all my secret plans.”
“Too late to regret it! I’m going out for a bit so tell Shan Hu to pack my belongings and I’ll go to Xing Yue’s tomorrow.” Xiao Yao pushed Zhuan Xu out the door “This ‘kitchen’ of mine is full of poison so when I’m not here don’t go in.”
A dance hall, a dancer was gracefully dancing.
Xiao Yao smiled and placed a white wrapped box in front of Fang Feng Bei.
Bei glanced over it and drawled “What’s that?”
Xiao Yao said “You open it.”
Bei shook his cup “I’m drinking right now.”
Xiao Yao clenched her fist – be patient, be patient, be patient! She released her fist and opened the cloth cover over the box.
Bei was still uninterested and continued drinking his wine and watching the dancer dancing.
Xiao Yao had no choice but to open the box herself. When she made it, to create the scent of the lilies she spent a lot of time on it. Right now the scent of the lilies were lost in the pungent odor of the food and the perfumes around them so it wasn’t noticeable anymore.
Xiao Yao rushed here excitedly with a whole bellyful of things she wanted to say to him. She wanted to boast about how she made the poison lilies, how she made the leaf covers, but now the entire salmon frolicking in lilies tableau turned dim and she didn’t feel like saying anything anymore. She picked up her wine and started drinking and pouting.
Bei finally turned his gaze from the dancer to the table and checked out the tableau on the glass plate. It was delicate and full of life, the colors vibrant and the items exquisitely rendered.
Bei stared for some time before picking up a chopstick and eating a lily frond.
One bite after another, one lily frond, one salmon, one lily…..slowly he ate the entire salmon frolicking in lilies tableau.
Xiao Yao gaped at him “You….don’t stuff yourself silly.”
Bei shot her a look and she immediately shut up.
Bei ate the final bite and put down his chopstick. He took a sip of wine and casually said “Not bad.”
Xiao Yao stared at the empty plate and her heart soared “The only person who can make poisons this tasty in the entire world is me!”
Bei laughed back “And the only person in the entire world who can appreciate your great “cooking” talents is me!”
Xiao Yao sassed back “It’s enough to have a true soulmate.”
Bei gave her a half-smile but said nothing.
Xiao Yao asked “Can you continue teaching me archery now?” What she really meant to ask was – are you not angry at me anymore?
Bei finished his wine “I need to leave for a bit, wait for me to come back.”
Xiao Yao figured he was going back to Qing Shui town. Even if there was no active warfare, he was still the General of the Sheng Nong resistance army and there was much he had to do.
Xiao Yao couldn’t help it and sighed loudly and murmured “If only you can forever be Fang Feng Bei, that would be so great!”
Bei appeared not to have heard her as he set down his wine cup and got up to leave, his form disappearing in the layers of curtains.