What makes Lost You Forever that much more impressive is that Tong Hua does serious mythology building and tells a story beyond romance and love triangles and who loves whom. That stuff is great but I’m just as keen on the world of the various God kingdoms and the conflicts between gods and demons and the general immersion into a world that is fascinating and surreal. The action picks up on the political front in this chapter and it’s a pivotal moment for Zhuan Xu. Let’s not forget that Xiao Yao has zero reason to return to her rightful position but for helping Zhuan Xu become the next Xuan Yuan Emperor. It’s his destiny, their dead relatives blood and sacrifice rests on their shoulders, and neither will be safe unless he’s the one calling the shots. When I look at adult Zhuan Xu it’s hard for me to not remember the little boy he was in Once Promised. So bratty and as much a firebrand as Xiao Yao was equally bratty and a spitfire. They were like two peas in a pod that loved and loathed each other, and the sparks between them were so strong and amazing every reader thought any sequel would involve these two as the OTP. I do love Xiang Liu and Jing, but Xiao Yao has a special place in her heart that only Zhuan Xu resides in. Too bad she doesn’t realize he tucks her away in his heart in a way more romantic light than she sees him as just an older brother. But love is love and these two have an unbreakable bond that is going to start getting truly tested. The mighty and fearless Yellow Emperor arrives in the Middle Plains with his own agenda and everyone else is just going to have to walk on eggshells. This is good for our heartbroken Xiao Yao because the busier she is the less time she has to mope about Jing’s failure to keep his promise to her and Xiang Liu’s is-he-isn’t-he waltzing in and out of her life.
Chapter 27 – When Waves Ripple on Flat Ground:
In the middle of Summer, the Yellow Emperor proclaimed that he was going to personally survey the Middle Plains.
The last time the Yellow Emperor visited the Middle Plains was over two hundred years ago, and that trip was terribly eventful. The former Sheng Nong Mountain Head of the Palace Guards attempted to assassinate the Yellow Emperor and actually breached layers of protection to arrive right before the Yellow Emperor and almost succeeded in cutting him down. At the nick of time it was Sheng Nong’s former General Hou Tu that saved the Yellow Emperor from the brink of death.
After that the shadow of the sword struck down and blood flowed everywhere with many many people dying in the Middle Plains. Many people also died in the Xuan Yuan Court. The Yellow Emperor’s sixth son Prince Xuan Yuan Xiu died in that aftermath while the eighth son Prince Xuan Yuan Qing was jailed. Just like that the once glorious Wan Lei family fell from grace. [The Yellow Emperor’s sixth and eighth sons are born from his fourth Consort the daughter of the Wan Lei family]
The first time the Yellow Emperor visited the Middle Plains was when he battled and defeated Sheng Nong’s General Qi Yo and united the Middle Plains before leading his troops to ascend Sheng Nong Mountain to pray to the Heavens; the second time the Yellow Emperor visited the Middle Plains was when he was almost assassinated; now would be his third time visiting the Middle Plains and to the families and clans there, each time the Yellow Emperor visited the Middle Plains had resulted in blood flowing like a river so everyone believed this third time would likely be no different.
Every clan and family strictly ordered all their members to be alert and vigilant and to avoid any untoward behavior.
When Zhuan Xu told Xiao Yao that the Yellow Emperor was coming to the Middle Plains, she nervously stared back “Why is he coming to survey the Middle Plains? Does he know something? Or did our two uncles tip him off?”
Zhuan Xu was very nervous inside but he smiled and reassured Xiao Yao “Don’t worry, nothing will happen.”
Xiao Yao smiled nervously, how could she not be scared? In her eyes, her dad was the kindest but he was also the Emperor who killed his own five younger brothers and then exterminated their whole families including wives and children. Hundreds of lives lost, not one was spared. On Xuan Yuan Mountain, her grandfather was also very kind but Xiao Yao knew clearly that he was even scarier than her dad! He was a man who started with nothing, leading a small God tribe growing from North fighting South to create a new Kingdom. He also defeated the ruler of the Middle Plains the Sheng Nong Kingdom and united the greater part of the vast wilderness!
Zhuan Xu grabbed Xiao Yao by the shoulders “Xiao Yao, we’ll be fine!”
Xiao Yao gradually calmed down and her eyes showed her determination “Even if something happens, we will make it fine!”
Zhuan Xu also calmed down and nodded his head with a smile.
Days later the Yellow Emperor arrived at Ban Quan where a heavy armed force was stationed there led by the Yellow Emperor’s trusted General Li Yuan. He stayed there for three days and accepted an invitation by the Middle Plains Six Big Families to go see military drills.
General Li Yuan was running the troops through the paces and the soldiers were not soft and slacking off despite the lack of war for the last hundreds of years. They still remained fierce and exuded the ferocity of vicious beasts.
The elders of the Six Big Families watched the drills and felt their knees grow weak. When the Yellow Emperor asked for their opinion, they could only fearfully reply “Very good.”
The Yellow Emperor smiled and bid them to leave. After the elders left, soon word spread all over the Middle Plains of the power and might of the Xuan Yuan army.
After leaving Ban Quan, the Yellow Emperor surveyed all along the way and arrived at another critical spot in the Middle Plains Zhe Province. It was the spot closest to Zhi Jin Summit on Sheng Nong Mountain, on a winged ride it would take but half an hour to arrive.
Zhuan Xu wanted to go welcome the Yellow Emperor at Zhe Province but the Yellow Emperor declined and told him to wait on Zhi Jin Summit.
Zhe Province was also guarded by heavy forces and Zhuan Xu smiled as he said to Xiao Yao “Do you think Grandfather will have the soldiers in Zhe Province run through their drills as well? Forget the Six Big Families, he might as well summon the tens of mid-sized families and hundreds of small families all to come watch!”
“Grandfather won’t do the same tactic twice, likely he has a different arrangement in mind.”
Zhuan Xu sighed “You’re right, after scaring them with might, now he will try wooing them with warmth.”
It was the time of flowers blooming so the Yellow Emperor had Prince Cang Lin arrange a Hundred Flower Banquet and invited all the major families to attend.
Jing, Feng Long, Xing Yue all received invitations, and everyone rushed to attend the banquet. Zhuan Xu was purposely left on Zhi Jin Summit and if by now Zhuan Xu didn’t understand that the Yellow Emperor was marginalizing him then he was an idiot.
The Grand Emperor sensed something was afoot and exposed the Gao Xing spies in the Middle Plains and ordered them to swiftly bring Ah Nian and Xiao Yao back to Gao Xing, and to travel separately as a precaution.
Ah Nian was confused to hear her dad was urgently wanting to see her but got on the winged ride and left with them. Xiao Yao said to her escorts “I can’t go see my dad right now, please tell him and he will understand why.”
The people escorting her had no choice but to leave for Gao Xing.
Xiao Yao calmly walked out of her residence and took out her bow to practice, with each arrow hitting the bulls eye. Zhuan Xu came to send Xiao Yao away and she drawled “What? You don’t have confidence?”
Zhuan Xu replied “I do!”
Xiao Yao smiled “Then you don’t need to send me away!”
Zhuan Xu was angry “I wasn’t planning to!”
Xiao Yao grinned “Then I’m not leaving because you need my protection and support!”
Zhuan Xu stared at her and pleaded “Xiao Yao, please leave!”
Xiao Yao smiled but her eyes were iced cold “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m not my Mom, I don’t owe the Yellow Emperor a debt of gratitude for raising me. If he dares harm us then I will harm him right back!”
Zhuan Xu stared and said slowly “Fine, let’s go together.”
Xiao Yao sent an arrow whooshing out and shattering the dragon head on a statue by the wall before coolly saying “He raised you for tens of years and if that day comes and you can’t strike the killing blow, leave it to me.”
Xiao Yao turned and went to her “kitchen”.
Zhuan Xu clenched his fist, he didn’t want that day to come and if it did come then he would never let Xiao Yao take any action!
For successive days the Yellow Emperor held banquets in Zhe Province.
Zhuan Xu continued renovating the Palace on Zhi Jin Summit and if he didn’t have official duties them he would take Shu Hui to tour Sheng Nong Mountain and admire the flowers.
In the middle of the month, an assassination attempt was made on the Yellow Emperor. Two assassins were killed on the spot and word quickly spread that both were quite far away from the Yellow Emperor unlike the last assassination attempt. This one looked like a kid’s goofing off.
But this matter was no less serious than last time because someone wanted the Yellow Emperor dead. The two assassins had tattoos that linked them to a family or organization so the Yellow Emperor ordered a swift and thorough investigation. All of the Middle Plains went silent as everyone tried to protect themselves.
Zhuan Xu walked out into the courtyard where Xiao Yao was practicing archery and her arrow hit the dummy in the heart. He applauded and Xiao Yao asked “Did they learn who was the mastermind behind the two assassins?” Zhuan Xu answered “I don’t think anyone will find out.”
“I heard that the two assassins were tattooed using ink from the Ruo Mu tree sap.” The Ruo Mu tree was one of the Three Great Trees of the God tribe, and it was the spiritual protector of the Ruo Sui Tribe. Zhuan Xu’s mother was the former tribal leader of the Ruo Sui tribe and after she died the tribe never elected a new leader. From a certain perspective, Zhuan Xu ought to be considered the current tribal leader of the Ruo Sui tribe.
Xiao Yao asked “The tattoo can determine when it was inked, did grandfather investigate?”
Zhuan Xu smiled wanly “Because he investigated which is why I said the truth can’t be discovered. The tattoos were determined to be no less than thirty years old.”
Xiao Yao sighed “Our two uncles are so calculating to have long ago prepared these assassins. No matter who the assassination attempt was made on, they would pin it on you. With a tattoo inked on tens of years ago, no one would believe it was a set up. Who could believe that tens of years ago assassins would be prepped to frame you?”
Zhuan Xu sighed “Grandfather has been very wary of the Middle Plains families and now I’m getting closer and closer to them. Likely someone whispered to him and he’s suspicious hence this survey trip here. But before the assassination attempt he was just warning me and didn’t intend to punish me. But they were not happy enough with that and decided to make sure Grandfather would be pushed to kill me.”
Xiao Yao didn’t put another arrow in but pulled back her bow and let go with a whoosh “You can’t even try to explain your way out of this so what are you going to do?”
“See how things unfold and react then.”
“Grandfather arrived quite forcefully and immediately cowed the Six Big Families into submission. Then he wined and dined the rest to show that as long as no one did anything, they could happily live on like this. Would those leaning towards you have changed their minds after Grandfather’s scare and then woo tactic?”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Very possible! Grandfather’s warning also included what he could give them, whereas I honestly have nothing concrete to offer and who knows when the day will come that I can give them something.”
Xiao Yao sighed, allies turning is the scariest thing ever! She anxiously asked “What about Feng Long? Will Feng Long change allegiances?”
Zhuan Xu smiled “He likely won’t, he wants things his grandfather won’t give him and our uncles don’t have the guts to give. The entire world only I can give him, but it’s still impossible to ascertain a person’s heart. Sometimes it’s not him changing but the situation forcing him to. He is still not the Chi Sui clan leader yet so he can’t decide many things and still needs to take direction from others.”
“What about the Tan family?”
“They might want to but can’t because I married their daughter. Even if they align with our uncles they won’t trust the Tan family.” That is why the clans and families all put great importance on marital connections.
Xiao Yao asked “When are you going to marry Xing Yue?”
Zhuan Xu scoffed “Do you think I can marry her just because I want to? She will not marry me right now! In this entire world, other than you foolish girl, everyone else who helps me will first wait to see what I can give them.”
Xiao Yao suddenly understood what Xing Yue did. She refused to get married but to help Zhuan Xu build his power base in the Middle Plains she pushed forth her Tan family cousin to marry him. This allowed Xing Yue to both attack and guard her position at the same time. If Zhuan Xu won, she would then vault to the top of the peak. If Zhuan Xu lost, she would still be the Sheng Nong tribe’s princess without an official princess title, still able to pick among the most eligible men to marry. Xing Yue did have feelings for Zhuan Xu but her feelings came with a price. Xing Yue was like a very savvy businessman, she knew exactly what Zhuan Xu could give her and what she needed to pay for it.
In that moment Xiao Yao felt her heart jumbled and she put away her bow and grabbed Zhuan Xu’s hand “Are you upset?”
Zhuan Xu looked perplexed “Why would I be upset? It’s hard enough to survive for any person and romance isn’t all there is in life. It can’t be food when one is hungry, it can’t be warmth when one is cold. A woman wants to follow me not just because of the care a man can give a woman, but because of what else they can get. Xing Yue may want a lot but she can also give a lot. It’s the same as all other women, I can give them what they want, they can give me what I want. It’s fair.”
“As long as you are okay with it then it’s fine.” Xiao Yao sighed, Zhuan Xu appeared to have a lot of women around him, but even with Ah Nian there was a price to be exchanged. They would never like a Zhuan Xu who came in whatever condition they saw him.
Zhuan Xu pinched her cheek “Hey! What’s with that expression? Don’t look at me like I’m an abandoned puppy no one wants. You’re usually so free thinking, why all the contemplation now?”
Xiao Yao glared at him “Aren’t people like this? Easy to overlook things when it happens to others, hard to when it happens to oneself! I know life is like this but I still wish Xing Yue and them were nicer to you, just a bit nicer to you!” Zhuan Xu guffawed and poked Xiao Yao’s nose “Fine! But I really don’t care so don’t be mad on my behalf towards them!”
Xiao Yao said “Seeing as Xing Yue has decided to sit on the fence, that means Sheng Nong will definitely not help you.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Don’t think too far ahead. Right now what is most important is how Grandfather will react. They want to use an Emperor’s mistrust to eliminate me which is a smart move! But Grandfather is not a fool either!”
A few days later, the Yellow Emperor summoned Zhuan Xu to Zhe Province to see him.
Receiving the summons, the entire Zhi Jin Court turned deadly silent, with Xiao Xiao and the guards all stony-faced with a conviction like they were headed to their deaths.
Jin Xuan collected information for Zhuan Xu so knew exactly what was happening with the Yellow Emperor and begged Zhuan Xu not to go to Zhe Province. The area was teaming with armed forces and if he went, then his life and death would be completely in the Yellow Emperor’s hands. And right now the Yellow Emperor was suspecting that Zhuan Xu was the second Xuan Yuan Xiu.
Shu Hui didn’t completely know what was happening but she sensed this would be a dangerous trip but didn’t interfere in Zhuan Xu’s decision, only secretly crying until her face was all bloated.
Zhuan Xu gathered up all his confidantes and said “I’m going to Zhe Province because if I don’t go then I prove my uncles lies that I an planning to revolt to kill the Yellow Emperor and take his place. Then the Yellow Emperor will immediately attack Sheng Nong Mountain and he has the entire Xuan Yuan Kingdom backing him with endless supplies so we can only keep Sheng Nong Mountain from falling without the ability to fight back. When Sheng Nong Mountain falls, everyone who followed me will be killed. I don’t want to die like that and I don’t want any of you with so much talent to die like that. You are the wealth of the world so even if I die you all must still live.”
Yu Jiang and them all knelt down and bowed their heads loudly on the floor to beg Zhuan Xu to reconsider through tears and pleading but Zhuan Xu’s mind was made up.
Xiao Xiao and the guards begged “We want to go with Your highness to Zhe Province.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “No need, if my Grandfather wanted to kill me, you guys there won’t make a difference and will instead cause a scene. You wait for me outside the castle.”
Xiao Xiao’s eyes were red-rimmed “Yes!”
Standing outside the court, Xiao Yao listened to all this and then walked in “I want to go with you to Zhe Province.”
Zhuan Xu was about to say something but she glared and mouthed “Don’t make me publicly counter you!”
Zhuan Xu had no choice “Fine!”
Xiao Yao followed Zhuan Xu to the cloud carriage but he blocked the door and wouldn’t let her in “Xiao Yao, you really don’t need to go with me. I dare go which means I have some faith I will come back.”
Xiao Yao said “Since you have faith then why can’t I go? I haven’t seen Grandfather in quite some time.”
Zhuan Xu was so frustrated “Why are you acting dumb? If you go with me you can’t do anything. You have low powers and if something happens you can’t run away and will be a drag on me! Do you know that you constantly create trouble for me?”
Xiao Yao pushed Zhuan Xu hard and slipped under his arm into the cloud carriage and said belligerently “Even if I create trouble for you, I’m still going!”
Zhuan Xu glared so Xiao Yao acted pathetic and wheedled “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m still the Gao Xing Princess, uncles won’t dare do anything openly to me. If you kick me off this carriage I’m still going to sneak to Zhe Province!”
Zhuan Xu knew her personality and rather than have her sneak there it was better to keep her next to him.
Zhuan Xu ordered the servant to depart, bringing only one guard on this trip to Zhe Province who was acting as the driver of this cloud carriage. His name was Ju Yi and he was the top warrior among the guards.
Arriving in Zhe Province, the servants led them to see the Yellow Emperor.
In the center court, the Yellow Emperor was with Cang Lin and he was sitting on the pallet while Cang Lin and three other officials sat lower than him.
In forty some years the Yellow Emperor continued to age, he was now like a shriveled old wood giving off the clear signs that life was sapping out of him.
Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao walked up to kneel and bow to him. Xiao Yao was very calm and polite but Zhuan Xu was raised by the Yellow Emperor for tens of years so his feelings for him were different. Compared to Xiao Yao’s polite coolness, it was immediately clear Zhuan Xu really cared about his well being.
This clear contrast made Cang Lin furrow his brows while the Yellow Emperor looked quizzically at Zhuan Xu for a moment. He invited Xiao Yao and Zhuan Xu to sit and Xiao Yao giggled before sitting down at a pallet close to Cang Lin leaving the corner area for Zhuan Xu to sit.
The Yellow Emperor asked how the palace renovations were coming along and Zhuan Xu briefed him on all the courts that had been renovated and the remaining progress.
Cang Lin scoffed “You’re really into it, no wonder the Middle Plains families all like you. The Tan family even married their daughter to you. Have you started thinking of this place as home having lived on Sheng Nong Mountain for so long now?”
Zhuan Xu didn’t answer as if he didn’t even hear what Cang Lin said.
The other three officials chimed in “His highness is getting too close with the Middle Plains families rather than being on guard towards them!”
“Xuan Yuan has so many smaller families with good daughters. His highness married his first consort who should be a daughter from the Xuan Yuan Kingdom established family.”
“His highness doing that really hurt our hearts.”
Zhuan Xu continued sitting there saying nothing.
The Yellow Emperor stared at Zhuan Xu and suddenly asked “If you were the Xuan Yuan Emperor, how would you treat the Middle Plains families and clans?”
Everyone’s face changed and no one dared breath a sigh.
Zhaun Xu immediate bowed his head “Your grandson I would not presume.”
“I asked you to answer so all you need to do is answer.”
Zhuan Xu thought for a moment and then slowly said “When the Heavens parted, the world was one family. The vast wilderness did not have Sheng Nong Kingdom, and did not have Xuan Yuan Kingdom. Then came the Great Emperor Pan Gu followed by Fu Yi and Nu Wa. Now there is the Xuan Yuan Yellow Emperor. Your grandson I think that if the Great Emperor Pan Gu along with Fu Yi and Nu Wa were still alive, they would first see all the people of Xuan Yuan and Sheng Nong as their citizens. Only by viewing the people of the Middle Plains as also our citizens, that is how one can truly be a ruler over them. Grandfather, why did you want to conquer the Middle Plains? Was it to be wary of them everyday afterwards? Your grandson I dare say that if you had the guts to conquer this land then you ought to have the guts to view them as your own people. If it belongs to you, then why so much guarding and wariness? What’s the difference between Zhi Yi Castle and Xuan Yuan Castle? What is the difference between Sheng Nong Mountain and Xuan Yuan Mountain? It’s merely just another castle and another mountain in an empire that all belongs to you!”
As Zhuan Xu spoke, the Yellow Emperor gradually sat up straighter and straighter and stared at Zhuan Xu without any expression. The other four all knelt down on the ground leaving only Xiao Yao casually sitting there as if none of this had anything to do with her.
In a bit, the Yellow Emperor looked at Cang Lin and asked “If you were the Xuan Yuan Emperor, how would you treat the Middle Plains clans and families?”
Cang Lin was ecstatic and nervous and his voice shook “Your son…..I wouldn’t dare!”
Cang Lin immediately said “The Xuan Yuan Kingdom conquered the Middle Plains with the support of all the Xuan Yuan clans and families. Only those clans and families are truly loyal to the Xuan Yuan Emperor. They are fierce and loyal and as the Emperor I would favor them the most. As for the Middle Plains clans and families, I believe what dad you are doing now is the best approach, use them but not in critical capacities, be wary of them but not overly so. All the major army installations are placed throughout the Middle Plains while the Sheng Nong army has been disbanded and split into the Xuan Yuan troops. If the Middle Plains children want to rise in the Xuan Yuan army, they need to go through an added layer of review. If the Xuan Yuan Emperor want to preserve the strength and power of the Kingdom and keep the peace, he needs to rely on the Xuan Yuan elders along with a sword in one hand and a bottle of wine in the others when dealing with the Middle Plains.”
The Yellow Emperor said nothing and still had no expression but nodded his head. Cang Lin was so happy but kept his composure and bowed to the Yellow Emperor.
The Yellow Emperor said “Everyone get up!”
Everyone relaxed and returned to their seats. Cang Lin glanced at Zhuan Xu who was still the same, neither nervous nor worried. Cang Lin made up his mind and glanced at another official with a knowing look.
That official got up “Your majesty, the assassination attempt has no conclusion but the tattoo remains the only clue. Perhaps Prince Zhuan Xu can assist in analyzing with us.”
The Yellow Emperor said “Fine, tell Zhuan Xu all that is known about the assassins.”
That official likely had earth powers so he used the earth to create two lifelike men and each one had a complicated tattoo on his left chest. The official pointed to the tattoo “The tattoo ink was made using the Ruo Mu sap and the doctors calculate it’s been inked on for at least thirty years. The entire vast wilderness knows that the Ruo Mu wood is the patron wood spirit of the Ruo Sui tribe. Other than the Ruo Sui tribal leader permitting it, no one can get close to the Ruo Mu wood so how can one cut the branch off to get the sap? Can Your highness give us an explanation?”
Zhuan Xu said “I don’t know but in the last tens of years the Rui Sui tribal leader has not reported to me of any branch cutting incidents.”
The official said to the Yellow Emperor “If I can be so bold, right now the most likely suspect is Prince Zhuan Xu. For Your majesty’s safety, please order Prince Zhuan Xu incarcerated for now. if we determine the truth that he’s not involved, he can be released.”
Xiao Yao snarfled a laugh “If you can’t determine the truth, will he be locked up forever like my Eighth Uncle, or killed like my Sixth Uncle?”
The official was an elder at court and berated “We are discussing important matters. Will the Gao Xing Princess please be respectful and don’t interrupt!”
Xiao Yao coldly laughed “Fine. Years ago when Xuan Yuan was trapped by Qi Yo at the base of Xuan Yuan Castle, how come no one said that to my Mom? If you have such authority, where did it go then that you all asked my Mom to lead the army? Give my Mom back to me and I’ll immediately shut up!”
The old official was so infuriated his face was beet red but he really had nothing to say to that. He only kneeled down and wailed “Will Your majesty please understand!”
The Yellow Emperor coolly said “You’re so old you’re halfway in your grave, why get pissy with a little girl?”
The old official bowed his red face “Yes, I was wrong and disrespectful.”
Cang Lin said to Xiao Yao “Sixth brother and Eighth brother both had ill intentions to kill Dad. His handling of their punishment was fair and just. Does Princess think he did wrong? Is Princess feeling bad for them, or feeling bad for Zhuan Xu?”
Xiao Yao felt she spoke too rashly before and glanced apologetically at Zhuan Xu who said to Cang Lin “Uncle, are you trying to determine my guilt, or trying to determine Xiao Yao’s wrongs?”
Cang Lin stopped pressing Xiao Yao and turned to the Yellow Emperor “Dad’s well being affects the entire security of the Xuan Yuan Kingdom. The attempted assassination is very important so will d\Dad please take it seriously and proceed.”
The Yellow Emperor lowered his eyes to think and everyone stared nervously at him. Xiao Yao suddenly said “Grandfather, I have something to say.”
Cang Lin wanted to say something but the Yellow Emperor glanced at him and he immediately closed his mouth. The Yellow Emperor warmly said to Xiao Yao “Say it.”
Xiao Yao asked Cang Lin and the three officials “Do you guys think Zhuan Xu is a smart person or a stupid person?”
Cang Lin was silent and the three officials exchanged looks and saw the Yellow Emperor looking at them to answer so one official said “His highness is of course a smart person.”
Xiao Yao said “The entire world knows of the relationship between the Ruo Sui clan and Zhuan Xu, using the Ruo Mu ink sap to tattoo is equivalent to writing “Zhuan Xu” two words on their chest. You are all important officials in Xuan Yuan and likely all have secret guards to do your dirty jobs. Would you carve your name on the bodies of those guards?”
The three officials were so furious they yelled “Princess cease with the nonsense!”
Xiao Yao scoffed “What do the people framing Zhuan Xu think? That he’s an idiot? Using the Ruo Mu wood sap as tattoo ink just to make super duper clear the assassin was sent by Zhuan Xu? Fifth Uncle, would you carve “Cang Lin” on the body of your own personal tasked guards? I can’t see you doing something so utterly moronic, do you think Zhuan Xu who is smarter than you would do that?”
Cang Lin was so infuriated he raged “Gao Xing Jiu Yao, you……”
Xiao Yao smiled “But the framer is also quite smart! He knows that as long as the Emperor’s suspicions are aroused, that is enough. The tattoo is but a clue and there is likely much more evidence of coveting the throne. But how many princes are truly clean in that? If Grandfather investigated Uncle now, he will easily find tons of evidence that indicate Uncle wants the throne. But does that prove Uncle wants to revolt? Of course not! It just means Uncle wants that spot one day.” Xiao Yao looked at the Yellow Emperor “As the sons and grandsons of the Xuan Yuan Emperor, is it wrong to want the throne one day?”
Cang Lin said “That’s true, but to kill…..”
The Yellow Emperor cut him off “You all leave.”
Cang Lin tried to interject “Dad….”
The Yellow Emperor stared at Cang Lin who immediately lowered his head “Yes!” He left with the three officials.
The Yellow Emperor asked Zhuan Xu “Do you really want to kill me?”
Zhuan Xu knelt down “It wasn’t me.”
The Yellow Emperor coldly asked “Are you just renovating palaces on Sheng Nong Mountain?”
Zhuan Xu was sweating but he answered “Your grandson remembers your teachings and is doing only what is within my purview.”
The Yellow Emperor stared at Zhuan Xu who knelt there without moving. Moments later the Yellow Emperor said “I believe you weren’t behind the assassination attempt this time. You can leave!”
Zhuan Xu bowed three times and got up.
Xiao Yao knelt down to bow her farewell “Thank you Grandfather.” Her words were much more sincere now and her smile extra sweet.
The Yellow Emperor smiled “You! If you were a boy, what kind of troubles you would be causing!”
Xiao Yao smiled “What’s the problem with my causing trouble? If I wanted to snatch power, I’d still be aiming for my dad’s throne.”
The Yellow Emperor said “The Sheng Nong Herb Manual is in your hands, right? How’s your medical skills?”
Xiao Yao figured he wanted her to check on his health so answered sincerely “My medical skills are not as good as my poison skills. But if Grandfather wants me to check on you, I will try my best.”
The Yellow Emperor sighed with a smiled “It requires courage to decide to have you treat me. I need to think about it some more.” Xiao Yao made a face at him.
The Yellow Emperor said “You can leave now!”
Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao stepped out of the residence and he sped up and whispered to her “Be careful!”
Xiao Yao understood now, it didn’t matter whether the Yellow Emperor was going to let Zhuan Xu leave Zhe Province, Cang Lin has no plans to let Zhuan Xu return to Sheng Nong Mountain alive.
Entering the cloud carriage, Zhuan Xu said “Full speed out of Zhe Province and quickly rendezvous with Xiao Xiao.”
Four winged horses took flight when suddenly countless arrows flew towards the carriage. The driver guard Ju Yi’s was very powerful so wasn’t hit but two horses were struck and whined painfully which caused the other two horses to panic. The entire cloud carriage almost tipped over.
“Abandon the carriage!” Zhuan Xu tucked Xiao Yao into his arms to protect her and leaped onto one of the uninjured winged horses while Ju Yi took the other one. The tethers were cut but tens of assassins encircled them.
Xiao Yao tried to squirm out of Zhuan Xu’s arms but he held her tightly and barked “Don’t move, it’ll be safe once we leave Zhe Province!”
A silver bow appeared in Xiao Yao’s hand “You guard, I’ll attack!” Zhuan Xu was stunned but Xiao Yao already pulled back her bow and sent an arrow striking one of the assassins in the chest.
Zhuan Xu knew Xiao Yao was practicing archery but he didn’t realize she was this good. He was so surprised and happy that he leaned down and kissed her on the head.
Xiao Yao said “I can only shoot three arrows.” Zhuan Xu replied “That’s enough!”
The assassins had formed a spiritual maze but with Xiao Yao there Zhuan Xu no longer needed to guard but could attack. He could see through the construct of the maze and said to Xiao Yao “The third guy on the left.”
Xiao Yao’s arrow already flew out but the assassin was on guard already, but Xiao Yao’s arrow was strange in that it turned before striking but her powers were still too low so it didn’t hit a critical spot. But suddenly the man fell off his winged ride just like that and Yu Ji remembered that the Princess was adept at using poisons.
The maze creator had been killed so the maze was broken leaving the remaining assassins attempting a close kill of Zhuan Xu so their winged rides zoomed closer.
Xiao Yao looked around, with tens of assassins around them but they were nowhere close to leaving Zhe Province, with her low powers and Zhuan Xu’s not being strong enough as well, that left only one Yu Ji to fight back and it wasn’t enough to overcome the assassins.
Both remained calm and glanced around while Yu Ji managed to engage all the assassins at once. Zhuan Xu said “Such a ruckus but the Zhe Province castle guards have no reaction.”
Xiao Yao gave a dastardly smile “I have an idea but you need to help me.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Same idea as mine.”
Xiao Yao pulled her arrow back and aimed it back where they came from, the residence of the Yellow Emperor. Zhuan Xu waved his hand over the arrow and put a spell on it.
Xiao Yao sent the arrow flying with all her might and as it reached the residence it turned into countless arrows falling like rain. It didn’t hurt anyone but caused a huge thunderous sound. Due to the recent assassination attempt on the Yellow Emperor, all the guards were extra vigilant so someone immediately yelled “Assassination!”
Like a giant rock falling into the lake, swarms of the Yellow Emperor’s guard rushed out of the residence.
Cang Lin had bribed the Zhe Provincial castle warden to turn a blind eye to the assassination of Zhuan Xu, but he couldn’t ignore an attempt on the Yellow Emperor. To save his own position and life, he tossed aside his task from Cang Lin and immediately sent all the castle guards out as well.
Soldiers surrounded them on all sides and Zhuan Xu pointed at the original assassination group “They look suspicious, check them out.”
The assassins could only watch as Zhuan Xu waltzed out of Zhe Province right before them.
Leaving Zhe Province Castle, Xiao Xiao and team greeted them with smiles that showed a relief after a near brush with death. Zhuan Xu abandoned his winged rose and changed into a winged bird and said “Xiao Yao, thank you!”
Xiao Yao raised her head and stared at him “Am I your burden?”
Zhuan Xu hugged her “You’re not! I said that earlier…..you know why. Actually there are times I wish you were my burden so that I can carry you on my back.”
Xiao Yao smiled and purposely twisted his words “Piggyback me? Sure, and you can do it later!”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Fine, I’ll piggyback you in a bit!”
Xiao Yao asked Zhuan Xu “This solo trip to Zhe Province, how much certainty did you have that you would come out alive?”
Zhuan Xu said to Xiao Yao “Thirty percent, but after I received a secret letter from Master, that doubled it to sixty percent. It was worth going.”
“What did my dad say?”
“He told me the real reason our Eldest Uncle died. He wasn’t really killed by Qi Yo. Years ago Grandfather wrongly suspected that Eldest Uncle wanted to kill him and usurp the throne so he set up Eldest Uncle to die in the battle with Qi Yo.”
Xiao Yao was stunned.
Zhuan Xu said “Master said Eldest Uncle was Grandfather’s most beloved son that he trained to be his successor. He loved him the most and was most proud of him. But due to a moment’s suspicion he lost his best son. Master said he sent word to General Ying Long to have him convince Grandfather to listen to my explanation first. Master said Eldest Uncle’s death was always one of Grandfather’s most unforgivable mistakes and he cautioned me not to be too rash.”
Xiao Yao said “Looks like Grandfather summoned you to Zhe Province was to allow you to explain.”
Zhuan Xu nodded.
Xiao Yao said “Escaping this calamity, but there is still the last question he asked you.” Forming a private army might be as treasonous as an attempted assassination, it was death at the end no matter what.
Zhuan Xu looked solemn “That is actually what I’m really worried about. The other stuff only Cang Lin and his band of small minded idiots would keep obsessing over.”
Arriving at Zhi Jin Summit, Zhuan Xu landed his winged ride on a path heading up to the palace.
Zhuan Xu pulled Xiao Yao off and then knelt down “Get on!”
XIao Yao was shocked “You really want to piggyback me?”
“Did you think I was just placating you?” Zhuan Xu turned around to look at her “I said I will carry you on my back!” Xiao Yao said “Okay, I believe you, but we need to hurry back because everyone is waiting for you!”
“What? You won’t let me carry you? Who was the little thing that was too lazy to walk and always wanted me to carry her?”
Xiao Yao glanced at Xiao Xiao and then and said “You’re not afraid of people laughing?”
“Who would dare laugh at me? What I said counts on Zhi Jin Summit so get on!”
“Fine, if you’re not scared when why do I need to be?” Xiao Yao pulled her sleeves back and got on Zhuan Xu’s back.
Zhuan Xu piggybacked Xiao Yao and slowly climbed the stairs towards Zhi Jin Palace.
Looking up at the palace, the phoenix trees planted outside the palace was even more vivid. In a few more years, it would bloom bright red flowers that would blanket the sky in its splendor.
Xiao Yao sighed “The phoenix trees have grown.”
Zhuan Xu said “It has!”
Xiao Yao tightly grabbed Zhuan Xu around the neck “Gege!”
“We have to stay alive!”
Zhuan Xu piggybacked Xiao Yao all the way until he entered Zhi Jin Palace and then he let her down. He said “I need to go out tonight, do you want to come with me?”
“Jing will be there.”
Xiao Yao smiled “I have no relationship with him anymore and see him as your friend. Why avoid him?”
In the dark of the night, Zhuan Xu took Xiao Yao secretly to Sheng Nong Mountain’s Dan River.
Arriving at the secret meeting point, Xiao Xiao disappeared into the forest and Zhuan Xu tossed a jewel into the river. Soon a giant turtle floated to the surface and opened its mouth. Zhuan Xu pulled Xiao Yao behind him and jumped into its mouth. The turtle closed its mouth and descended into the water.
Zhuan Xu led Xiao Yao into the depths and she realized that it wasn’t a real turtle but a ship shaped like a turtle that had been sealed tight so that it could travel underwater.
Walking through the turtle’s neck and into the belly it became like a room in a house, with tables and pallets and chairs all arrayed. Jing and Feng Long were having tea.
Xiao Yao knew Jing would be here so was prepared and acted normally with a smile for both guys. She really did see Jing as just Zhuan Xu’s friend now. But Jing didn’t know Xiao Yao would be here and his expression changed. Seeing Xiao Yao so candid and open with him as if it was all in the past now, it made him feel even more forlorn.
Xiao Yao smiled and didn’t react while the other two acted like they saw nothing.
Feng Long smiled at Xiao Yao “I heard Xing Yue say that your little sister didn’t think too highly of our Chi Sui clan ships in the past. How’s this one?”
Xiao Yao nodded “Very good, and discussing matters here is discreet and secure, no one can eavesdrop.”
Feng Long toasted Zhuan Xu “My apologies first, knowing you were headed alone to battle today and I couldn’t do anything to help you.”
Zhuan Xu said “Some things I have to shoulder alone. Right now the situation is unclear and everyone avoids me at all costs. To have you and Jing ask to see me today is truly a friendship that can withstand tough times.”
Feng Long glanced at Jing “I discussed with Jing that the current situation is bleak for you, but it’s not like you don’t have a chance for success. Two of the Four Great Clans the Xi Ling and Gui Fang clans have tossed their support behind you. Tu Shan clan is behind you. When I become the Chi Sui clan leader, then I can guarantee the Chi Sui clan will support you. With the Four Great Clans and the Tan family who is the head of the Six Big Families, then the powerful denizens of the Middle Plains will almost all be choosing you. The critical matter is how you can use this dangerous juncture, and how I can quickly become the clan leader.”
From Feng Long’s words Zhuan Xu learned one important news – Jing had chosen to support him as the Tu Shan clan leader. He was happy and shocked, having thought that Jing would stay neutral after he broke up with Xiao Yao. But Jing continued to support him secretly and now openly as clan leader would also support him. Clearly Feng Long spent a lot of time persuading Jing and Zhuan Xu felt like this was a much needed rain in a drought. He stood up and bowed to both guys “Every man for himself, but you guys………I will never forget this debt of gratitude. Thank you!”
Jing stood up and returned the bow “Your highness need not be so polite, the world is meant to be ruled by the strong and Feng Long and my choice is because you are worthy of our choice. So you should thank yourself.”
Feng Long scoffed “Zhuan Xu, the world doesn’t have many like you, who can see the entire world as all part of your own family! I’ve not seen a ruler like that! Everyone looks out for their own family, their own clan, their own tribe. The Four Great Clans appear so lofty and not involved but actually carefully guards their own territory and reach. Look at those Xuan Yuan elders, like butt poor farmers who finally had a good harvest but afterwards guarding their haul anxiously afraid of anyone stealing it.”
Xiao Yao chuckled “You managed to insult and deride every powerful group in the vast wilderness.”
Feng Long pouted “Damn straight! It’s so painful for me to have to play along with those old fogeys, but thankfully there is a weirdo like Zhuan Xu otherwise I would probably agonize to death already. In the end, I might even revolt! But we’re no longer living in an age of heroes and grand battles, any revolt will only end in failure!”
Zhuan Xu rapped the table to get back on track so Feng Long said “Today we asked to see you is to tell you and Jing and I support you without reservation. Another is to have you make clear decisions now, not everyone will support you early based on potential and all will wait until you take decisive action to support you. Do you get it?”
Zhuan Xu said “My grandfather asked me what I have been doing on Sheng Nong Mountain other than renovating palaces.”
Feng Long’s face changed “Does he know anything?”
Zhuan Xu shook his head “Because I don’t know what he knows that is why I’m so anxious. Grandfather might be just testing me, or maybe he really knows something. Today it’s very safe to talk so tell Jing everything!”
Feng Long said to Jing “Zhuan Xu has amassed a private army of twenty thousand hidden in the Sheng Nong Mountains.”
Jing didn’t look surprised and merely nodded his head. Feng Long shook his head, this dude really was totally dispassionate even if the world was collapsing.
Feng Long said to Zhuan Xu “No matter if His majesty is testing or knows something, you need to decide what to do! Like I said, His majesty is in Zhe Province and it appears bad for you but can also be good, the key is how you handle it.”
Zhuan Xu nodded “I understand.”
Zhuan Xu got up and bid farewell “We have to go back now.”
Feng Long glanced at Xiao Yao and seemed to want to say something but held back. The servants walked Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao out and the turtle opened its mouth and they jumped on shore. The turtle close its mouth and vanished in the water.
Xiao Xiao appeared “No one was following on shore.”
Zhuan Xu nodded “Back to Zhi Jin Palace.”
Zhuan Xu dropped Xiao Yao off at her residence and turned to leave but stopped “How does it feel to see Jing?”
“You have so much important matters to handle, why worry about my little stuff?”
Zhuan Xu asked “Is your heart really like your expression, everything is over and done with in the past now?”
Xiao Yao was silent and softly said “No, when I see him looking so devastated it actually makes me a little bit happy. If he was like me, smiling and unaffected, then I would feel worse.” Xiao Yao sighed “I know it’s all over and I want to forget him as soon as possible, and I can say we are just nothing to each other, but deep down inside I don’t want him to forget me. I act like I don’t care but I won’t allow him not to care. If he doesn’t care this soon then I’ll hate him forever……….” Xiao Yao shook her head “Am I really sick to think this?”
Zhuan Xu listened and then said “You’re not sick, you just loved him for real.” He smiled sadly “Xiao Yao, I really regret it now. If it wasn’t for me wanting so badly to get the support of Tu Shan Jing, then none of this would have happened.”
Xiao Yao walked up to him “Did you forget? I saved him before you even showed up.”
“But you didn’t love him then. I’m the one who not only gave him the chance, I even created opportunities for him so that he could get closer to you step by step.”
It really was due to Zhuan Xu that she and Jing got to this point today – if it wasn’t for Zhuan Xu capturing her, she wouldn’t have asked Jing for help, she would have just switched her face and disappeared one day. If Zhuan Xu hadn’t locked them in the jail, Jing wouldn’t have asked for a fifteen year promise. If Zhuan Xu didn’t need Jing, she wouldn’t have gone back to see Jing that day because she had already severed the ties……
Xiao Yao pushed Zhuan Xu out and said with a smile “What happened between Jing and I, you merely created the opportunity, but I don’t regret liking him so why do you need to feel bad? Don’t worry, time will heal everything and I just need more time to forget him.”
Zhuan Xu turned around “Xiao Yao…..”
Xiao Yao muttered “Sleep now! So many people’s life and death hinges on you so you need to remain level leaded.”
Zhuan Xu said “Fine! You rest as well.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t torment myself.”
Xiao Yao closed the door and walked over to her pallet and laid down.
She knew tonight that she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep unless she took a sleeping aid. She swallowed a few pills and fell asleep.
In her dream, she saw Jing with his son, but she couldn’t see his son’s face, only that he curled in his dad’s arms and called him sweetly “Daddy” while Jing smiled back.
Xiao Yao ran away as fast as she could and in a second she ran from Qing Qiu to Qing Shui Town. Xiao Yao jumped in the river and swam towards the vast blue ocean. She could see endless horizons and the joy of swimming freely, but she was so so tired! Where could she go in this entire world? Fang Feng Bei appeared on the surface and he sat on an all white clam shell smiling at her with his black hair flying in the breeze. Xiao Yao swam towards him but in a second his hair turned all white and he became Xiang Liu coldly staring at her. White clam shell, all white Xiang Liu, it was like an ice mountain floating on the ocean surface.
The black hair him, the white hair him, closer and further away……Xiao Yao suddenly turned and swam towards land, as she swam her tears tumbled down like rain……
Xiao Yao startled awake from her dream and felt coldness next to her. She touched her face and discovered that she was drenched in tears.