This chapter of Lost You Forever finally feels like a chance for a fresh start for Xiao Yao. Of course I love her with the three guys who love her, kind patient Jing, volatile perplexing Xiang Liu, and constant oppa Zhuan Xu. From the moment the books start she’s always been tied up with one or more of the men around despite her conscious desire to be independent and not rely on others to avoid getting hurt. The last few chapters have been hard on Xiao Yao’s emotional well being but nothing worse than the childhood she survived. I want to see more about what she wants outside of finding a person to walk life’s road with. If she does find such a guy, who loves her and she loves back and being together isn’t going to involve world shattering imminent death, what is she going to do in that very ordinary life she craves. The easy answer is to go back to being a little doctor in a little clinic in a little town. But the first time around Xiao Yao didn’t really take it seriously. It was yet another way for her to form a ragtag life without a long time outlook.
Now that Jing is married and has a son, Xiang Liu’s duty as a General in the Sheng Nong resistance army is heating up under pressure from Zhuan Xu’s powerful rule, will Xiao Yao finally look at her Zhuan Xu gege in a different light when suddenly there is no other men around and the two of them don’t need to worry about one wrong step leading to danger? I do want her to grasp how important she is to Zhuan Xu, and important beyond being his family and little sister. Zhuan Xu’s love for Xiao Yao is just as sad in that he can’t express it and she doesn’t even know it. At least Xiao Yao isn’t that dense as to be unable to sense that Xiang Liu feels something for her. He stubbornly refuses to openly admit it, and she also keeps getting reminded by everyone around her that Xiang Liu is not an option. Poor Xiao Yao gets tugged around until finally she decides to step back and get herself out of the center of the maelstrom for now.
Chapter 30 – No Reason for a Desire to Return:
Spring went and Winter came, Winter left and Spring arrived, in the blink of an eye three years passed.
Zhuan Xu was the only grandson of the Yellow Emperor and Empress Lei Zhu. It was unexpected the way he ascended the throne but also understandable. The Xuan Yuan elders initially opposed him but Zhuan Xu was patient and used grace to lessen their opposition on one hand while being strict and forceful on the other hand. Gradually all the Xuan Yuan prominent families acceded to him and acknowledged him as the Emperor.
Zhuan Xu saw the time was right and brought up moving the capital from Xuan Yuan Castle to Zhi Yi Castle. He was already governing from Sheng Nong Mountain but Zhi Yi Castle was not officially designated as the capital. When Zhuan Xu broached this topic it caused waves to ripple as all the Middle Plains families supported it while the Xuan Yuan elders vehemently opposed it.
But Zhuan Xu’s mind was made up and he assigned Yu Jiang to write up the capital move plan. Yu Jiang’s plan was thorough and detailed and everyone knew he was Zhuan Xu’s trusted subordinate so clearly this plan was in the works for awhile. With such a detailed plan in hand, people had no room to object and even the Xuan Yuan elders had to concede that Xuan Yuan Castle was no longer suitable to be the capital for the increasingly powerful Xuan Yuan Kingdom.
After half a year, Zhuan Xu overcame any lingering opposition and ordered the capital to be moved.
Zhuan Xu’s followers included people who spent the last fifty years renovating the palaces so had lots of experience with construction, plus with the Middle Plains full support, after the royal decree came down everyone threw all their energy into it . After a year of building and reconstruction and renovation, a bigger, better, and more fortified castle wall and palace was built on top of the original Sheng Nong Kingdom capital.
Perhaps it was due to consideration for the Xuan Yuan elders, or because of his own nostalgia, Zhuan Xu renamed Zhi Yi Palace as Shang Heng Palace which was the same name as the Xuan Yuan Palace. The Middle Plains families didn’t care about this name but it made the Xuan Yuan elders happy to feel like they were the legitimate side. In the end both sides were happy.
Zhuan Xu picked a auspicious day for the official capital move and the designation of Zhi Yi Castle as the capital city of Xuan Yuan.
Zhuan Xu visited the Yellow Emperor every day and briefed him on the progress. The Yellow Emperor never offered any suggestions or praise or criticism, only taking everything in calmly with a silent assessment. He was weighing whether Zhuan Xu was like he boasted to the world, having a grand vision, broad ambition, brilliant mind, and vast energy.
It was clear he was pleased with Zhuan Xu’s rule, his grandson not only did not disappoint him and even managed to surprise him.
On the day when Zhi Yi Castle became the Xuan Yuan capital, the Yellow Emperor listened to the fireworks going off outside and said to Xiao Yao “Zhuan Xu did well!”
Xiao Yao smiled “You’ve been so silent on this that many officials even used you to pressure Zhuan Xu! They said you and Grandmother built Xuan Yuan Castle personally that you would never agree to the capital move.”
The Yellow Emperor said “To move the capital is to shatter tradition and requires shouldering a lot of pressure. But Zhuan Xu did it so well!”
Xiao Yao was proud of Zhuan Xu as well “Whatever Gege wants to do, he will never give up!”
With everything all settled, Zhuan Xu came one day to see the Yellow Emperor who found a reason to send Ah Nian aside so they could talk.
The Yellow Emperor said “It’s time to announce an Empress and allow the Middle Plains to be fully at ease.”
Zhuan Xu unconsciously glanced at Xiao Yao and she perked up and asked “Who does Gege want to be your Empress?”
Zhuan Xu’s lips were tightly pursed and he said nothing.
The Yellow Emperor stared at Zhuan Xu and sighed inside his heart before slowly stating “Of course it can only be Sheng Nong Xing Yue.”
Xiao Yao yelled “I don’t agree!”
Zhuan Xu glanced with unbridled joy at XIao Yao as she grumbled “I don’t object to Xing Yue becoming the Empress but what about Ah Nian? Where do you guys leave her?”
The happiness seeped out of Zhuan Xu’s eyes and he lowered his head seemingly in a daze.
The Yellow Emperor explained to Xiao Yao “If Ah Nian becomes Empress, the Sheng Nong tribe will be furious and the Chi Sui clan will also feel slighted. It will leave the entire Middle Plains feeling like Zhuan Xu crossed the bridge and then tore it down, lying to them. If we stayed in Xuan Yuan Mountain then we would have room to retreat but we’ve moved the capital now so there is no way back. We can only keep going forward. What do you want to do, Xiao Yao? Send the world into chaos again just for one Ah Nian?”
Xiao Yao had no response. She hardly left the mountain these past few years but the few times she went down she could see the vast wilderness changing before her eyes. The Middle Plains families were cautiously accepting the Xuan Yuan elders clans as they also cautiously stepped in. In this critical juncture, it was like two powerful beasts residing in the same mountain as they wearily circled each other. If they determined neither had ill intent then they would live in harmony and even become companions in the future. If if there was even a slight tense wind blowing, it could lead to them attacking and tearing each other apart.
Xiao Yao walked up to Zhuan Xu “Gege, between Xing Yue and Ah Nian, who do you want to be your Empress?”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Whichever one you guys want. I don’t care since this is all my life will be!” He stood up and walked out without even a farewell greeting to the Yellow Emperor.
Xiao Yao stamped her feet “Gege! You, you….what do you mean you don’t care!”
The Yellow Emperor said “Let him be alone for now!”
Xiao Yao angrily glared at the Yellow Emperor “If Grandfather has already decided on Xing Yue as the Empress, why did you give Ah Nian hope?”
The Yellow Emperor said “I’ll talk to Ah Nian about this so don’t worry about it. Ah Nian, come in here!”
Ah Nian bit her lips and walked in with her eyes red, clearly she already overheard the news that Zhuan Xu was going to take Xing Yue as his Empress.
The Yellow Emperor waved to Xiao Yao to leave and gently said to Ah Nian “Come here to grandfather, I have some things to say to you.”
“Grandfather!” Ah Nian buried her face in the Yellow Emperor’s lap and started bawling.
Xiao Yao walked out to the sound of Ah Nian crying. She felt so helpless knowing that the Yellow Emperor was still manipulating people even in his small chambers.
It was dark by the time Ah Nian returned to her chamber where Xiao Yao was waiting for her. She saw Ah Nian’s eyes swollen like two peaches and sighed “Did you use up an entire lifetime’s worth of tears today?”
Ah Nian said “I wish.”
Xiao Yao asked “What did you discuss with grandfather?”
Ah Nian said “I made a promise to grandfather and that is between us.”
“What are you planning to do?”
“I’m going back to Gao Xing tomorrow.”
Xiao Yao was thrilled “You don’t want to marry Zhuan Xu anymore? That’s great!”
Ah Nian said “What are you talking about? I just think it’s not suitable for me to live here anymore. No matter how many wives Zhuan Xu gege takes I can ignore it as unrelated to me. But the Empress is not like the other wives, now Zhi Jin Palace will have a mistress of the house and she won’t welcome me to stay here. I’m still the Gao Xing Princess so even if I can do anything for Zhuan Xu gege I still can’t embarrass Gao Xing.”
Xiao Yao furrowed her eyebrows and stared at Ah Nian wondering what the Yellow Emperor said to her.
Ah Nian said to Xiao Yao “Jiejie, don’t waste your life sleepwalking through each day. You’re not a kid anymore, you need to start thinking about your own future.”
“What? You’re talking about me?” Xiao Yao was caught off guard.
Ah Nian sincerely said “You are listless all day with nothing to do. If it’s just Zhuan Xu gege, Grandfather, and me around then no one will care. But once Xing Yue becomes Empress she will become the mistress of this palace. In the past you were above her but going forward she will be above you. Even her father needs to bow to her when he sees her, much less you’re just a sister-in-law. Once the positions change between people then many things will change. She will look at you differently and treat you differently. She won’t be happy with your casual attitude. You don’t even give the proper respect to the Grand Emperor or the Yellow Emperor, much to an Empress like she will become.”
Xiao Yao conceded “I really can’t give her the respect to curry favor with her.”
Ah Nian said “No matter how you treat Dad and Grandfather, they will not mind since they are your family. But Xing Yue will mind, a woman’s heart is small especially someone like Xing Yue who has spent her entire life trying to reach her position in life. Your casual attitude will only lead her to think you don’t give her the proper respect and she’ll start to resent you. How she will deal with you is something I don’t even dare have a clue about.”
Xiao Yao was shocked “Did Grandfather explain all this to you?”
Ah Nian glared “Grandfather said a bit but more about life and not specifically about you. I grew up in a palace so I know a lot even if I’ve not yet experienced it. The way I treat Grandfather is exactly that, friendly with a side of buttering him up.”
Xiao Yao thought about it and laughed “That’s true! So that was you being friendly and buttering him up.”
Ah Nian retorted “Seeing as how you spoke up on my behalf, I wanted to give you some advice but you’re not taking me seriously! Let me tell you, if you keep being like this then one day you will fall into Xing Yue’s hands! I suggest you come back to Gao Xing with me! On Five Gods Mountain, no one will dare do anything to you!”
Xiao Yao smiled and said nothing. Her dad was on Five Gods Mountain but because her mom divorced her dad and she followed her mom to Cao Yun Peak, she always felt like her Dad, Consort Jing An, and Ah Nian was one complete family unit while she was the outsider. She felt more like family living with the Yellow Emperor and Zhuan Xu.
But Ah Nian was right, Zhuan Xu’s home was about to get its mistress of the house and Xiao Yao’s personality likely wouldn’t win any favors with the new mistress.
She used to think that no matter what happened, her Gege’s home would always be her home. But this day arrived with the truth so sobering, her Gege’s home was his home and she could stay for as long as she wanted but it was living under someone’s roof. She would need to endure the owner’s whims and avoid being disliked.
Ah Nian saw Xiao Yao wasn’t ready to go back and added “If you don’t like living in Five Gods Mountain and can’t stay in Sheng Nong Mountain, then you only have another path left.”
“Get married! Marrying is the only way out for a woman, unless you want to go to Jade Mountain and be the next Royal Mother.” Ah Nian sighed “But even if you got married it would be a problem. Feng Long lives in Zhi Yi and Zhuan Xu gege might even give him a residence on Sheng Nong Mountain. He’s very sociable and is the Chi Sui clan leader and you are his wife so you need to know how to socialize. But you…..you’re socially awkward and don’t know how to even dress. Now people are already mocking you behind your back about how much embarrassing situations will arise in the future. If you don’t get on the good side of the Empress, who knows how the days will be like for you down the road……Sigh!”
Xiao Yao said “You stop it, I’m already despondent and if you keep talking then I’ll feel like my life is such an utter failure without any hope left.”
Ah Nian burst out giggling “I was feeling miserable but seeing you like this makes me feel like I’m not as bad off as you.”
Xiao Yao stood up “Get some sleep! Tomorrow I’ll go back to Five Gods Mountain with you.”
“What do you mean why? I need to interact less with Xing Yue to maintain our past friendship. If we live in the same palace and ignore each other, the past friendly feelings will get wiped away and I’ll start to get on her nerves. Best leave as soon as I can!”
Ah Nian smiled “So you were listening to what I said earlier.”
“You have more experience than me in terms of being a woman in the palace. I ought to listen to you more.
Ah Nian nodded “That’s more like it.”
Xiao Yao left Ah Nian’s residence and thought that she ought to say goodbye to Zhuan Xu tonight if she was leaving tomorrow. But she didn’t even know which of his wive’s residences he was in right now.
Xiao Yao smiled wistfully, it really wasn’t the same as before! She couldn’t go find her Gege anytime she wanted.
Xiao Yao sighed, time to go back! It doesn’t matter when she said her farewells, tonight or tomorrow, if she was leaving anyway.
Xiao Yao returned to her residence and laid down on her pallet but couldn’t sleep. When she lost Jing she felt that she still had Zhuan Xu and no matter what happened she would never lose him.
But tonight she felt for the first time that she was gradually losing Zhuan Xu.
Years ago they held hands and walked up Cao Yun Peak, facing adversity that did not defeat them or make them give up on each other. But now they reached the end, there were so many things and people gradually forming between them that it naturally split them apart.
It wasn’t that one wanted to leave the other or the other stop caring, it was life being so merciless and unwittingly leading them to this point.
Xiao Yao felt her heart constricting tightly so she sat up and took deep breaths. It started with being sleepless but over time she seemed to have developed a heart problem. She knew Xiang Liu was being bothered by her right now.
All these years in the deep dark of the night, when she was at her most painful to endure moments, knowing someone was experiencing the same feeling made her feel she wasn’t alone. It made her feel like he was right there keeping her company and it comforted her a lot.
In the poison packages she sent him, she wrote in a letter apologizing for disturbing him and reminding him to go to Jiu Li with her when he had time. But Xiang Liu never replied and Xiao Yao didn’t dare mention it a second time.
Xiao Yao clutched her heart and slowly laid back down. After laying for a long time, she slowly fell asleep.
The next morning when Xiao Yao went to see the Yellow Emperor, Ah Nian and Zhuan Xu were both there.
Ah Nian looked terrible, her eyes were still red and swollen likely having cried some more. Zhuan Xu also looked weary with dark circles under his eyes as if he didn’t sleep a wink last night. Xiao Yao wanted to laugh and didn’t realize that she also looked as bad.
Zhuan Xu said to Xiao Yao “I spoke with Grandfather and have decided to make Xing Yue my Empress.”
Ah Nian quietly sat beside the Yellow Emperor and remained placid but not smiling. If Ah Nian didn’t object then Xiao Yao had even less reason to object so she said “Fine!”
Zhuan Xu stared at Xiao Yao with his eyes blazing but Xiao Yao just smiled.
Ah Nian said to Xiao Yao “I already told Grandfather and said goodbye to Gege. We’ll leave for in a bit for Five Gods Mountain.”
Xiao Yao said with a smile to Zhuan Xu and the Yellow Emperor “I haven’t been back to see Dad in a long time so I plan to go with Ah Nian.”
The Yellow Emperor said “It’ll be good to go back and see your Dad.”
Zhuan Xu asked “When will you be coming back?”
Xiao Yao was taken aback, when will she be coming back? She really didn’t think about it! Not like before when she knew she would becoming back to Zhuan Xu so she didn’t take much with her when she left. This time she subconsciously knew she wasn’t planning to come back so she told Shan Hu to pack everything.
Xiao Yao smiled “Haven’t decided when to come back, let me spend some time with my Dad before deciding.”
When Xiao Yao went back to Gao Xing in the past she said the same thing but this time Zhuan Xu felt Xiao Yao’s tone of voice was very dismissive. He wanted to press her more but with his grandfather and Ah Nian there he couldn’t ask so he casually said “Fine.” Zhuan Xu understood for the first time that the more nervous a person was, the more it was tucked deep inside.
Zhuan Xu didn’t go back to handle his official matters and just kept Ah Nian and Xiao Yao company. Ah Nian was reluctant to leave and kept by Zhuan Xu’s side while Xiao Yao attended to the Yellow Emperor and checked his vitals before reminding him of all the things he needed to pay attention to about his health.
These past years with Xiao Yao tending to him and his cooperation, the Yellow Emperor’s health had improved dramatically. If he remained cloistered away in Sheng Nong Mountain taking care of himself then he would have no problem living another few hundred years.
Zhuan Xu summoned some snacks and dined with Xiao Yao and Ah Nian. After they finished was when Hai Tang came to report “The luggage is all packed, do the princesses want to depart now?”
Xiao Yao and Ah Nian stood up and bowed to the Yellow Emperor who said to Zhuan Xu “After you send them off go handle your affairs, no need to come back to see me.”
Zhuan Xu accompanied Xiao Yao and Ah Nian to the cloud carriage. As they neared Zhuan Xu saw five large cloud carriages stuffed with luggage trailing behind the passenger one.
Xiao Yao never used luggage carriages when she left so Zhuan Xu chuckled “Ah Nian, you sure have a lot of luggage, did you clean out your entire residence?”
Ah Nian blinked a few times “It’s not all mine.”
Zhuan Xu turned and stared at Miao Pu who reported “Three of the luggage carriages contain the Eldest Princess’s luggage.”
Zhuan Xu’s expression shuttered so quickly Miao Pu was alarmed and immediately knelt down. Zhuan Xu calmed himself and turned back around with a smile “Xiao Yao, you come here, I have something to say to you.”
Xiao Yao was already sitting in the cloud carriage with her eyes closed ready to nap so she yawned and walked out of the cloud carriage. Zhuan Xu pulled her to the side while she lazily asked “What’s so important?”
Ah Nian stared curiously at them but Zhuan Xu placed a spell so she couldn’t hear anything.
Zhuan Xu asked Xiao Yao “When are you coming back?”
“I haven’t thought about it, I want to live with Dad for a bit and then think about coming back!” Xiao Yao was perplexed, didn’t he already ask her before?
“Can you come back in one month?”
“No way!” With the wedding discussions just underway, Zhuan Xu and Xing Yue’s wedding couldn’t be held in just one month.’
“Can you come back in two months?”
Zhuan Xu actually went down the list of months one by one while Xiao Yao said a string of no, not likely, and probably nots.
“Can you come back in thirteen months?”
Xiao Yao felt she couldn’t say “probably not” to that so slowly said “I don’t know.”
Zhuan Xu said “Fine, I’ll send someone to fetch you in thirteen months.”
Xiao Yao quickly added “No need, if I want to come back then I’ll come back.”
Zhuan Xu appeared to not hear what she said “In thirteen months, I’ll send someone to fetch you back.”
Without waiting for Xiao Yao’s reply, he walked towards the cloud carriage ready to send her off.
Xiao Yao walked over and muttered “Coming and going, I’m already used to it, why need someone to come fetch me? What if thirteen months later I’m not ready to come back, wouldn’t that be a wasted trip? Whatever!”
Zhuan Xu stopped and stared at Xiao Yao and it actually made her heart lurch so she quickly looked down.
Zhuan Xu said “If you don’t come back, I will go to Five Gods Mountain to get you.” And then he walked off in big fast strides.
Since the dawn of time the Emperors never met each other. Even if the Grand Emperor was Zhuan Xu’s master, now that Zhuan Xu was the ruler of a kingdom he still could not go to another kingdom. Xiao Yao wondered if she heard wrong and chased after Zhuan Xu “What did you just say?”
Zhuan Xu shoved Xiao Yao into the cloud carriage and said to both girls “Don’t play too much on the way home and go straight to Five Gods Mountain. Say hello to Master for me. Have a safe trip!”
Zhuan Xu stepped back and said to the servants “Depart!”
The driver immediately whipped his winged horses which rose into the air.
Xiao Yao and Ah Nian crowded around the window with Ah Nian waving frantically at Zhuan Xu as he waved back at them. It wasn’t until he was gone from sight that Ah Nian turned back and looked very gleeful “Did you get yelled at? I saw Gege was angry at you, why was he upset at you?”
Xiao Yao laid down on the soft pillow “My mind is all jumbled, I’m going to sleep for a bit.”
“What do you do all night long then? Don’t you sleep?”
Xiao Yao sighed, she woke many times a night and even if she did sleep it wasn’t soundly. She really wasn’t resting enough so she just had to increase her resting hours.
Ah Nian jabbered “Hey, I’m talking to you!”
Xiao Yao placed a handkerchief over her face indicating don’t bother me, I’m asleep!
A month and a half later, the Xuan Yuan Emperor Zhuan Xu married the direct descendant of the Sheng Nong royal family Sheng Nong Xing Yue as his Empress.
The wedding was lavish as the nation celebrated for three days. This wedding officially announced the true merging of the Xuan Yuan tribe led by the Yellow Emperor and the Sheng Nong tribe led by the former Flame Emperors.
At the wedding Xing Yue wore all red as the custom of the Sheng Nong tribe, but Zhuan Xu did not wear all yellow as was the custom of the Xuan Yuan tribe. He instead wore all black embroidered with gold thread.
No one knew why Zhuan Xu did this but the all black was imposing and regal so it quickly made black fashionable among the younger set. Feng Long and his friends assumed it was to differentiate Zhuan Xu from the still alive Yellow Emperor and they started calling him the Black Emperor. After Zhuan Xu heard that he said “I was worried about what my official moniker would be but this will do, from now on I’ll be the Black Emperor.”
From then on the official designation of the Black Emperor was created.
Three days after the wedding, Zhuan Xu announced an official decree encouraging intermarriage between the Sheng Nong families and the Xuan Yuan families. He would reward any intermarriages and even put to greater use the sons from those families.
Initially the two tribes were not very keen to get close to each other but after the capital move and with the passage of time, the interactions naturally increased and gradually the intermarriages started happening more and more.
No matter the opposition in the past, once the bloodlines were mixed and offspring were born, even two grandfathers from formerly enemy tribes softened when staring at their mutual adorable grandchild.
There was still a long ways to go before the two tribes would fully be integrated but Zhuan Xu had taken the first successful step forward. Perhaps tens of thousands of years later, when the Yellow Emperor and Zhuan Xu were no longer around, the vast wilderness would have no Sheng Nong tribe or Xuan Yuan tribe and all that remained was the bloodline mixed descendants of both tribes.
With half the vast wilderness celebrating the marriage of the Xuan Yuan Emperor and Empress, even Gao Xing was affected. The songs being sang in the tea houses are all celebrating the marriage and everyone who heard it was happy except for Xiao Yao and Ah Nian.
Xiao Yao started to really understand what Ah Nian said, the Empress was not like the other women. In the past it didn’t matter who Zhuan Xu married, Xiao Yao didn’t feel anything. She saw Ah Nian and Xing Yue tussling but it didn’t involve her because she would always be Zhuan Xu’s little sister no matter who he married. But this time she really felt Zhuan Xu belonged to someone else, even if she was his little sister she couldn’t be by his side anymore. From now on, it was Xing Yue who would be happy when he was happy and sad when he was sad. Xiao Yao couldn’t lay under the moonlight with him chatting or when she got sick he couldn’t sleep in the outside room all night keeping her company.
Xiao Yao had no choice but to admit that Xing Yue stole the person she was closest with.
Xiao Yao confided her sadness to Ah Nian but Ah Nian didn’t pity her and instead said “Even you have this day.” After she mocked Xiao Yao was when Ah Nian felt even worse, in the past she felt Xiao Yao and Zhuan Xu’s closeness gave her a leg up over all the other women, but now even Xiao Yao felt like Xing Yue stole Zhuan Xu, wouldn’t that mean she was even further from Zhuan Xu from now on?
Xiao Yao still couldn’t sleep well at night so she rose well past noon. After dining she would go to Qi Qing Garden not to swim but just to sit in a daze staring at the water in the pool.
One evening the Grand Emperor walked into Qi Qing Garden and saw Xiao Yao sitting in a daze next to the water. It was already dark out and with Xiao Yao’s low powers she couldn’t be able to see in the dark.
The Grand Emperor asked “You stare at the water every day deep in thought. It’s been a few months, you have any conclusions?”
Xiao Yao said “I was thinking about when I was small and how my mom loved me so. If she loved me so much, why did she still abandon me for the greater good of the world? She couldn’t bear to see other kids lose their parents, but she allowed me to lose my mom. I’ve been thinking that had she not abandoned me and watched me grow up, what would I be like? Will my personality not be as weird? Will I be happier than I am now?
The Grand Emperor said “Xiao Yao, you’re being swallowed up by your own insecurity. If it’s because of that Tu Shan clan little fox, I’ll go snatch him for you.”
Xiao Yao smiled “Dad, are you forgetting I already have a fiancee?”
The Grand Emperor was taken aback and then said “I’ll write to Chi Sui Feng Long to have him come keep you company.”
Xiao Yao said “Sure, tell him to come see me!”
Like Zhuan Xu said, the cure for a sadness is to fill up the void again and use happiness to smooth over the pain. Actually the best way to heal from losing a lover was to find a new lover, but Feng Long…..his lover was his vast ambition.
Feng Long received the letter from the Grand Emperor and traveled day and night to come see Xiao Yao. He spent a day and a half with her before traveling all night back to the Middle Plains.
The Grand Emperor wanted to say something to Feng Long but saw that he did drop everything to come be with Xiao Yao. He was also going back to handle important matters and not to booze and play around. Feng Long did nothing wrong by putting his career first so the Grand Emperor could only sigh.
Xiao Yao told her dad she didn’t want to live on Five Gods Mountain anymore but he wouldn’t let her leave. The father-daughter fight ended in a compromise, Xiao Yao left Cheng En Court and went to Ying Province Island.
In the past Xiao Yao was always in ready-to-fight mode as she earnestly learned her poisons and practiced her archery. After losing Jing and seeing Zhuan Xu ascend the throne, she had nothing left to lose and nothing left to protect. Xiao Yao deflated entirely and gave up her archery and didn’t study poisons other than to make poisons for Xiang Liu.
She had a lot of free time now and to pass the time she opened a medical clinic on the island. It was normal to have female doctors in the vast wilderness but Xiao Yao always wore a veil so it was hard for patients to trust her which is why her clinic had very few patients.
Xiao Yao didn’t mind, every day after lunch she would open the doors to see patients with Shan Hu waiting in the front while Xiao Yao was in the back reading medical texts and studying herbs.
Sometimes a few poor patients would come by since they couldn’t afford the other clinics. They tried out Xiao Yao’s treatment and discovered it work so gradually more patients came. But it was always the poor fisherman from the area and sometimes they even paid her in fresh caught fish.
Xiao Yao would then cook the fish for Shan Hu and Miao Pu and both girls found their mouths watering to discover the Princess cooked fish as good as the royal chefs!
This type of ordinary life went on day after day until Xiao Yao forgot how much time passed. Then the person sent by Zhuan Xu arrived to fetch her and she realized thirteen months had passed. But she didn’t want to go back. In the past she accompanied him because the road was dangerous and no one else would walk with him but her.
Now he was the ruler of a kingdom with the bravest men following him and the most beautiful women by his side. His grand ambitions were slowly taking shape. And she was tired and wanted to live only this ordinary life and didn’t want to face the ups and downs that affected countless lives.
Xiao Yao wrote a letter and had the servant bring it to Zhuan Xu. She waited a few days and saw Zhuan Xu had no response and took that as his consent for her not to go back. She let out a sigh of relief and went back to living her boring life.
A few days later, a fisherman brought Xiao Yao a basket of fresh caught sea urchin at her request. She had discovered new herbs not catalogued in the Sheng Nong Herb Manual – when the Flame Emperor was writing it he lived inland so didn’t have a lot of access to herbs in the sea. Xiao Yao discovered new herbs from the ocean after talking to the fishermen and hearing their own concoctions and sea urchin was one such new find.
Xiao Yao pulled up her sleeve and started cleaning the sea urchin, the meat could be eaten tonight while the shell would be dried and turned into good medicine.
The courtyard door opened and a person walked in.
Xiao Yao had her hands full so didn’t lift her head “Go wait in the front if you are here to see the doctor.”
The person said nothing and also made no move to leave.
Xiao Yao raised her head and saw it was Zhuan Xu and was so startled her knife slipped and cut her finger.
“Is it serious?” Zhuan Xu hurriedly asked.
Xiao Yao pressed down on her bleeding finger “Why are you here? Are you crazy?”
“Let me see it.”
Xiao Yao handed her hand to Zhuan Xu and said “I’m fine! You’re the one in danger!”
Zhuan Xu used his handkerchief and water to clean the wound and then took out pills which he crushed over the wound and the blood stopped. Xiao Yao asked “Who knows you’re here?”
“If you leave with me right now, not many people will know. If you don’t leave with me right now, I don’t know who will find out. Maybe…..the entire vast wilderness!”
“You…..are you threatening me? Are you using my worry for your safety?” Xiao Yao asked in disbelief.
Zhuan Xu raised an eyebrow and thought about what she said before replying “Yes, I am putting myself in danger to pressure you.”
Zhuan Xu was being such a bastard right now! When Xiao Yao lived in the market place she was also used to being a bastard so now she was ready to see who was more unreasonable! Xiao Yao said “I don’t believe that if I don’t leave with you then you won’t go back! Stay if you want!” Xiao Yao sat back down and resumed cleaning the sea urchin.
Zhuan Xu kicked a wooden stool over and pulled his sleeves up and sat down to help Xiao Yao clean the sea urchin. He didn’t even need a paring knife and with a light squeeze of his hand he pulled out the meat cleanly. He also spent plenty of time down in the market places with the ruffians and right now it was two equally stubborn bastards butting heads. The one that was more ruthless was going to win.
Zhuan Xu cleaned the sea urchin and discussed with Xiao Yao how to eat it. He lived in Gao Xing for two hundred years and knew way more about how to prepare seafood. Xiao Yao was in a daze, Zhuan Xu always gave in to her and she never opposed his wishes. This was the first time in their lives where they butted heads and Xiao Yao actually didn’t know what to do.
The two finished cleaning the sea urchin and Zhuan Xu helped Xiao Yao wash the shells.
A patient arrived and Xiao Yao put on a veiled hat and ran out to see the patient all while praying that Zhuan Xu would be gone by the time she got back.
When she got back, Zhuan Xu was still there and cutting firewood for her.
It was getting dark and Zhuan Xu headed to the kitchen to start dinner. Xiao Yao stood in the courtyard as stiff as a wooden board and so was Miao Pu and Shan Hu. After half an hour Zhuan Xu called out “Dinnertime!”
Miao Pu awoke from her daze and ran into the kitchen to bring out the dishes. Gao Xing was warm all year round so most families dined outside in the courtyard. Miao Pu wiped down the table and set it with the dishes and utensils.
Zhuan Xu called out “You guys come in and eat as well.
Almost ten of Zhuan Xu’s personal guards filed in and Miao Pu handed them each a bowl of food and each took it silently and went to the corner to eat.
Zhuan Xu said to Xiao Yao “Let’s sit down and eat!”
He prepared a bowl for Xiao Yao and she silently ate from it. He placed a piece of sea urchin in her bowl “Try it.”
Xiao Yao ate it but couldn’t taste anything.
After dinner Zhuan Xu didn’t appear to be planning to leave. He told Miao Pu to prepare bedding for him and he started heating water in the kitchen to run a bath.
Xiao Yao finally couldn’t take it anymore and asked “Are you really doing this?”
Zhuan Xu said “Do you think I traveled thousands of miles to Five Gods Mountain to come play around with you?”
Xiao Yao knew she had to be ruthless to win but she couldn’t play around with Zhuan Xu’s personal safety so she tossed in the towel and angrily said “I’ll go with you! But you remember that I didn’t go willingly!”
Zhuan Xu said nothing and with the wave of his hand all the fires in the kitchen went out. He walked out and called “Back to Sheng Nong Mountain.”
Miao Pu shot out from the room like an arrow with a bag already in hand “Princess, your belongings are all packed.”
Xiao Yao glared at her “Traitor!”
Miao Pu lowered her head.
Zhuan Xu’s winged ride descended and he vaulted on before reaching his hand out to Xiao Yao. She ignored him and walked to another guard “I’ll ride with you.” The guard glanced at Zhuan Xu who nodded so he let Xiao Yao on “Princess, please hold tightly to the swallow’s neck.”
The winged rides all rose into the air and disappeared into the clouds.
Suddenly Ru So appeared out of nowhere on his winged ride to escort them though each checkpoint until the convoy left Five Gods Mountain. Zhuan Xu thanked Ru So who looked exhausted “Can I beg of you not to come back ever again! If you miss me that much I’ll go visit you. Whoever you want to see, other than His majesty, I’ll kidnap that person and bring to you!”
Zhuan Xu smiled and waved his hand and the entire convoy took off.
Ru So muttered “If I knew you were such a bastard, back then I would have rather been beaten to death by my dad than to learn martial arts with you!” Ru So sighed and headed back to report to the Grand Emperor that the task was done.
Rushing through the night the convoy safely returned to Sheng Nong Mountain.
Zhuan Xu didn’t take Xiao Yao to Zhi Jin Summit but instead took her to Xiao Yue Peak. Zhuan Xu explained “Grandfather moved to Xiao Yue Peak now so you ought to live closer to him.”
Xiao Yao relaxed knowing she wouldn’t have to see Xing Yue often “I heard Xiao Yue Peak has a medicine canyon. It’s where the Flame Emperor lived for many years, is that where Grandfather is living now?”
Zhuan Xu said “It’s there.”
Before the winged ride landed Xiao Yao could already see the entire ground blanketed with fire red phoenix flowers. Xiao Yao gasped “You planted phoenix trees here as well?”
“Yes, years ago I thought this peak was very nice and maybe you would want to live here one day so planted the trees here as well.”
Xiao Yao got off the winged ride and walked in a daze through the phoenix tree forest, it was just like the trees on Cao Yun Peak. Xiao Yao reached out and caught a falling petal and put it in her mouth to suck out the honey which was just as sweet as the flowers on Cao Yun Peak.
From Cao Yun Peak to Xiao Yue Peak, after tens of thousands of days and nights, she finally saw the phoenix flower again.
Xiao Yao handed a phoenix flower to Zhuan Xu “You did it!”
Zhuan Xu took it “I didn’t do it, we did it!”
Zhuan Xu tucked the phoenix flower in Xiao Yao’s hair and pulled her behind him towards the inner reaches of the forest. Deep inside the forest there was a huge phoenix tree with a swing dangling on it that could seat two people and appeared to be silently awaiting its owner.
Xiao Yao smiled and felt her heart ache. When she was small she asked her mom to fasten a bigger swing so she could swing with Zhuan Xu but her mom was so busy taking care of her grandmother and raising her and Zhuan Xu. So her mom could only put a small swing in the courtyard but today the big swing was finally a reality but there was no one remaining who could watch her swing with Zhuan Xu.
Zhuan Xu read her thoughts and lightly hugged her “We can see it.”
Xiao Yao nodded.
“Want to swing?”
Xiao Yao shook her head “Let’s go see Grandfather first.”
Zhuan Xu led Xiao Yao out of the phoenix forest and through a river walk until they entered a vast canyon. There were a few wooden huts inside the canyon and more phoenix trees planted outside. Nine-colored deer munched on grass outside while there was a farm plot behind the hut where the Yellow Emperor was currently tending with a hoe with his pant legs folded up.
Zhuan Xu said “This path here isn’t very convenient so you should take another path which is ringed with blue flowers as it winds through a flower valley.”
Xiao Yao walked into the plot and looked down at the medicinal herbs and complimented the Yellow Emperor “It’s growing well.”
The Yellow Emperor smiled “When I was small, to find food to eat I hunted and farmed. It was a long time ago but the things one learned in childhood seeps into the bones and no matter how much time passes one can never forget.”
Xiao Yao stared at the Yellow Emperor with his feet covered in mud and his face much darker but his energy was better as well so she smiled “I don’t need to take your pulse and can tell you’re doing well.”
“The earth is not like people, to interact with people is taxing and draining but to interact with the earth is rejuvenating and refreshing. Of course I’m doing better.”
Xiao Yao said “Yes, you put in the effort in the earth and will get back the same rewards. But with people it’s impossible to tell.”
The Yellow Emperor left the plot and said to Zhuan Xu “You hurry back, even with Xiao Xiao using the fox dummy as your substitute but the women you married are not easily fooled.”
“I’m headed back now.” Zhuan Xu bowed to the Yellow Emperor and stared at Xiao Yao before leaving.
Xiao Yao was shocked “You knew about it? And you allowed Zhuan Xu to be so irresponsible?”
“What can I do? He’s an adult now so am I supposed to truss him up so he can’t leave. If I help him then at least he’ll discuss it with me and if something happens I can intervene. If I object he’ll still do it.”
Xiao Yao had nothing to say to that because it was all true.
Shan Hu and Miao Pu stood to the side and the Yellow Emperor pointed to the other huts “You guys pick whichever!”
The maids went to unpack and Xiao Yao started to live in Xiao Yue Peak.
That night Zhuan Xu actually came again.
Xiao Yao was still pissed at him so just ignored him. Zhuan Xu smiled happily and coaxed Xiao Yao who sniped back “Use your method of buttering up women on someone else! It doesn’t work on me.”
Zhuan Xu’s smiles disappeared and he just stared at Xiao Yao with sadness in his eyes.
Xiao Yao ended up losing her frustration with him and asked wearily “What else do you want? I’ve come back with you, do you need me to apologize to you?”
Zhuan Xu smiled and grabbed Xiao Yao’s sleeve “If you know you can’t run away, then don’t try to run away again.”
Xiao Yao huffed “I wasn’t trying to run away, if I was then I would run somewhere you would have no reach.”
Zhuan Xu grinned “Then I’ll conquer that place and make it mine.”
“Such bold words! There is a place in this world that doesn’t belong to you.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Then I will make the entire world belong to me, so that no matter where you run to I can always bring you back.”
Xiao Yai was doubled over laughing “Fine, fine, the entire world belongs to you.”
The Yellow Emperor was coming back from a walk and heard this pair of young ones talking and stared at Zhuan Xu. He sighed inside, the person talking meant one thing but the person listening didn’t get the true meaning.
The Yellow Emperor walked over and Xiao Yao squeezed closer to Zhuan Xu to make room for him. Zhuan Xu grabbed Xiao Yao’s sleeve and twisted it around his finger while Xiao Yao smiled and tried to pull it back. Grab and pull, the two of them went back and forth until Xiao Yao complained “Grandfather, you see what Gege is doing!”
The Yellow Emperor smiled and opened his palm to hand what looked like half a duck egg to Zhuan Xu. He picked it up and appeared to remember something “The River Portrait Book?” He heard of it when he was small but this was the first time he saw it.
The Yellow Emperor nodded.
Xiao Yao squeezed over to look and Zhuan Xu handed it to her. She couldn’t see anything interesting about it other other it looking like half a jade egg but seemed to have constellations on top of it.
Zhuan Xu explained “Legend has it this contains the greatest secret of the universe but it can’t be unlocked until the two halves are placed together to form one complete jade egg.”
Xiao Yao asked “Where is the other half?”
The Yellow Emperor said nothing as did Zhuan Xu.
Xiao Yao thought it was a Xuan Yuan state secret so didn’t press on and returned the half egg to Zhuan Xu “I’ll go tidy up and then off to bed.”
Zhuan Xu saw Xiao Yao walk off and then formed a blocking spell while the Yellow Emperor waited for him to speak first. Zhuan Xu finally spoke “There is something I can’t confirm. Since I ascended the throne I’ve been investigating Xiao Yao’s birth secret but the more I investigate the more confusing it is. I’ve even begun to believe in the rumors. Grandfather, who is Xiao Yao’s dad?”
The Yellow Emperor said “Your Auntie never confessed the truth to me but I think……Xiao Yao’s dad is Qi Yo.”
Suspicion and confirmation are two different things and Zhuan Xu took time to absorb this before murmuring “Does Master know? Auntie divorced him so he couldn’t have not known….but why….why is he so good to Xiao Yao to the point I never once doubted. Doesn’t he know?”
“Perhaps he didn’t know in the beginning but the moment he saw Xiao Yao’s real face he must know. Qi Yo had the most beautiful expressive eyes and Xiao Yao inherited his best feature. Her eyes are identical to Qi Yo and even her forehead area is very similar.”
Zhuan Xu said “But Master genuinely loves Xiao Yao very much.”
The Yellow Emperor said “I once suspected he had ulterior motives but now I’m not the ruler anymore and stop looking at everything from a calculating wary perspective, I feel like he really has no other reason but that he loves her. It may be his guilt and regret at work.” From Qing Yang’s death to Chang Yi’s death, and even Qi Yo’s death, the Grand Emperor was well aware of what he did to lead up to it.
Zhuan Xu looked down at the half jade egg in his hand and said nothing.
After a moment he said “It’s actually good Xiao Yao is not the Grand Emperor’s daughter. I actually feel a bit of relief!”
“Do you want to let Xiao Yao know?”
Zhuan Xu didn’t answer that question and said “What matters if the entire world knows she’s Qi Yo’s daughter? No matter how many people Qi Yo killed and how many people hate her now because of it, I have tens of thousands of guards ready to protect her.”
The Yellow Emperor said “It’s not as simple as you think.”
Zhuan Xu stood up “Grandfather get some rest. I want to go check on Xiao Yao and then head back.”
Zhuan Xu walked into the wood hut and saw Xiao Yao laying on the pallet flipping through geography books. He asked “Why the sudden interest in that?”
“I learned that the earth can grow herbs to heal and can also add to wisdom and introduce new things.”
Zhuan Xu laughed “I’ll order all such books collected here for you to read that you can’t even get to all of them for your entire life.”
Xiao Yao pouted “You’re such a bastard!”
She put down on her book and turned over “I’m going to bed.”
Zhuan Xu closed her seashell night light but didn’t leave and squatted down next to her pallet “Are you still angry at me?”
“Gege, you don’t need me anymore.”
“You’re wrong, now I only don’t need your help anymore. In the past I was your Gege but relied on you, from now on you can rely on me.” Zhuan Xu grabbed Xiao Yao’s hand “Whatever Master can give you, I can give you. You can live on Five Gods Mountain but you can also live on Sheng Nong Mountain.”
Xiao Yao smiled and decided to satisfy the dreams of a man who finally accomplished his goal.
She said “Fine, I’ll stay but just to be clear, if I cause you headaches and embarrassment then don’t blame me.”
Xiao Yao didn’t have any social graces or learned arts and the scene in Sheng Nong Mountain and Zhi Yi Castle was getting more and more complicated as was the people around Zhuan Xu.
He smiled “I’m waiting for that day to arrive.”
Xiao Yao pushed him and said “I sleep until past noon while you have to get up first thing in the morning. Hurry back to rest!”
Zhuan Xu fixed her blanket before softly saying “I’m off, I’ll be back tomorrow to see you.”