This chapter 34 of Lost You Forever is the start of the third and final volume of the three-part epic novel. It’s called Missing You Without End or as the English translation cuts right to the chase and calls it simply Missing You Forever. I’ve enjoyed every minute of translating this novel mostly because I like all the main characters. Xiao Yao’s emotional scars and coldness is intriguing and becomes compelling when she tried so darn hard to make it work with Jing while being completely affected by Xiang Liu all the time. She has the best of both worlds, the prototypical super sweet second male lead type and the bad boy who everyone’s momma would warn shouldn’t be touched with a ten foot pole. She’s lucky Xiang Liu friend-zones her and Jing has enough patience and eternal commitment to her that he’s forever around just waiting for the opportunity to make it work for them.
Volume 1 was about Xiao Yao getting back to her Princess roots and Zhuan Xu in trouble while volume 2 was Zhuan Xu becoming emperor and Xiao Yao’s emotional woes, volume 3 ties it all together and sends all the characters down the final stretch of their journey together. Will Zhuan Xu conquer Gao Xing and become a true emperor to the entire world? Will Xiao Yao save Jing from the machinations of Fang Feng Yi Yang and Hou, and if she succeeds does that mean they can finally be together? Will Xiang Liu realize friend-zoning Xiao Yao isn’t enough and has to actually become her enemy in order to sever all ties with her? Who will find happiness together, and who will be missing who forever? The laughter and playfulness of the novel has gradually seeped away as the story got more serious and volume 3 ups the ante on tears. Xiao Yao’s birthright will finally be revealed and her desire for the simplest of ordinary life remains so elusive to her. This chapter is sooooo long translating my arms almost died on me in the process. Thanks for enjoying this lovely novel with me and let’s head down the final narrative arc from this point on.
Chapter 34 – The Malevolent East Wind, the Fleeting Pleasure:
“Please cut out my eyes so that my blood covers your clothes, like a peach blossom branch, so that you have me in your eyes.
Please scoop out my heart so that my blood drenches the land, like a peach blossom tree, so that you have me in your eyes.”
When Zhuan Xu came to Xiao Yue Summit to see Xiao Yao, she was sitting in the corridor embroidering a black pouch using gold thread to create little magnolia flowers. Each needle was intricate and precise and she was nearly done.
Zhuan Xu waited until she finished the final thread and asked “When did you get the interest to make such things?”
Xiao Yao said “Two birds, one stone. Needle work is good medical skill practice since I can sew up a wound so the more practice I have to make my movements more fluid the better for my patients.”
“What’s the second benefit?”
Xiao Yao smiled “When I’m done I’ll give this to Jing.”
Zhuan Xu was stunned and after a moment asked “You……..you got back together with him?”
Xiao Yao shook her head “No.”
“Then that….what’s that for?” Zhuan Xu pointed to the embroidered pouch in Xiao Yao’s hand.
“Last time I went to Qing Qiu, I learned that he was quite ill and if he wasn’t treated promptly then he might not live more than a hundred years. I’m simply his doctor now.”
Zhuan Xu silently sat there and didn’t have any expression on his face and appeared very calm.
Xiao Yao felt something odd and asked “Gege?”
Zhuan Xu smiled and gently said “When you’re done embroidering this pouch, I want one as well. I want it with the phoenix flower, our favorite flower.”
Xiao Yao happily replied “Sure.”
Xiao Yao went to check on Jing and found he was getting better and said to Hu Zhen “Very good!”
Hu Zhen explained “These past days the clan leader is looking better and the clan elders even compliment my medical skills so I had to accept it.”
Xiao Yao said “You did do half the work.”
Xiao Yao handed the magnolia embroidered pouch to Jing and inside was a pill sealed in beeswax. Xiao Yao said “This pill is for an emergency and at such time it can preserve your final breath.”
With Xiao Yao’s position and medical skills and she could still only make one such pill, Jing knew how rare and precious it was.
Jing carefully put it away “Don’t worry, I’m very careful.”
Xiao Yao sighed “With the danger looming for one day is one day I can’t relax.”
Jing said “I’m mostly in Zhi Yi Castle and only go back when there are clan matters to handle.”
Xiao Yao forced a smile “That’s good.”
Jing didn’t want Xiao Yao worried about such things and asked “Did you have fun in Five Gods Mountain?”
Xiao Yao smiled “My dad couldn’t have been a good kid when he was young, his fishing and cooking skills even I have to bow down to. It’s clear he’s an expert at anything fun.”
Xiao Yao spoke with Jing a bit longer and then left. Jing was loathe to part but didn’t stay her since this was already more than he could wish for and he didn’t dare push for more.
Xiao Yao returned to Xiao Yue Summit and remembered agreeing to make Zhuan Xu an embroidered pouch so started to draw phoenix flowers on a silk handkerchief.
When Zhuan Xu arrived he saw Xiao Yao’s room covered in various phoenix flowers and he couldn’t help but smile.
Xiao Yao said “I really have no drawing ability. Help me draw a few flowers.”
Zhuan Xu was too happy but teasingly groused “I don’t want to. When you made the pouch for Jing did you ask him to draw the flowers? Since you’re making it for me, then you need to do it from beginning to end.”
Xiao Yao was frustrated and amused “You’re so picky! Fine, I’ll draw it!”
Zhuan Xu stood behind Xiao Yao and watched for a bit before sighing “You! You’re so stupid!” He grabbed Xiao Yao’s hand and taught her how to draw “Why can’t you be softer here, relax your wrist and be lighter with the touch. You’re drawing a phoenix flower, not a phoenix tree…..”
Zhuan Xu taught Xiao Yao and lectured her and initially Xiao Yao listened with a joking smile but later she got annoyed and decided to smear the ink on Zhuan Xu’s face.
Zhuan Xu laughed and ducked while attacking Xiao Yao back “Look at you being so useless, since you were a kid and couldn’t do something you wouldn’t let anyone talk about it!”
“Oh, you’re totally useful then? Other older brothers help their sisters out and let them win. Only you’re so petty that you blame me for being stupid. Why don’t you blame yourself for being so stupid that you can’t teach me well?”
The two of them bickered until it was just laughter in the room.
The Yellow Emperor walked by and stopped to smile at them. It felt like yesterday he watched two little kids chasing each other under the phoenix tree.
Since Chang Yi died in battle and his daughter-in-law committed suicide in front of Zhuan Xu, his grandson was forced to grow up overnight. There was a sharp coldness in his eyes and he was careful not to reveal emotion like an adult would. Only when he was with Xiao Yao did he act like a child. All these years later after even more hardship and pain, Zhuan Xu securely locked up all his emotions so that the world only saw someone who never had any strong feelings. He was calm and mellow at all times. Except with Xiao Yao, then he was just like a child laughing and being unreasonable.
The Yellow Emperor sighed, Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao were like his palm and the back of his hand, both sides were his flesh. If either hurt he would hurt, but this world didn’t allow things to always satisfy both ends. He wondered if he really was too old, the leader who led his forces to conquer castles never seemed to be stuck in this quagmire.
The Yellow Emperor sighed and walked off.
That night Xiao Yao laid in bed and thought about Hou and Yi Yang while unconsciously playing with the fish amethyst.
Under the lamp light it glowed a warm soft brilliance. Shan Hu helped Xiao Yao arrange her blankets and secretly smiled. Xiao Yao glared at her “What are you smiling about?”
Shan Hu quickly explained “No, I’m not smiling about anything. I just think this fish amethyst is so rare. I once saw a fish ruby that wasn’t as big or as crystal clear as this one.”
Xiao Yao said “I once saw a fish ruby too but it was bigger than this one without a speck of imperfection. It was beautiful.”
Shan Hu suggested “If Princess likes it, have the Tu Shan clan leader buy it for you!”
Xiao Yao glared at Shan Hu who smiled “Princess want to sleep? Then I’ll dim the lights.”
Shan Hu closed the clamshell nightlight and the room darkened.
Xiao Yao held the fish amethyst and closed her eyes and remembered that day out at sea……..
That sea outing, she spent the night alone with Jing on the boat but no one noticed other than Zhuan Xu. Come to think of it, Feng Long never noticed any romance related matter; Xing Yue was focused on flirting with Zhuan Xu; Hou and Yi Yang……that night they likely had a private date as well. Back then Jing had just returned so Yi Yang was likely in a pique with Hou and to upset him would purposely be extra nice to Jing.
Xiao Yao sighed, that day the entire ship, other than Feng Long, everyone had their secrets so no one noticed anyone else’s oddness.
That day Hou was the last to return and he rode the monster fish in the waves and circled the ship a few times before killing the fish in front of everyone to grab the fish ruby. That fish ruby was bright red and so sparkling, even Xing Yue who was used to seeing expensive baubles wanted it and asked for it. But the normally very generous Hou didn’t agree to give it to her.
Xiao Yao didn’t want it but couldn’t help but look at it as well. She curiously asked what it was and Jing noticed she was interested which is why he gave her the fish amethyst later.
Of the three ladies on the ship, only Yi Yang never showed any interest in it from beginning to end. She didn’t even spare it a glance and that wasn’t like her personality, Yi Yang not being interested wasn’t because she didn’t like the fish ruby, it was because she knew Hou would give her the fish ruby.
Hou killed the monster fish in front of everyone to extract the fish ruby, that was like a male beast killing a prey before the female in a form of courtship. His powerful form riding the monster fish under the sun was filled with a man’s strength and vigor, and Hou was actually shaming Jing right in front of his face. He wanted to show Jing’s fiancee how much stronger he was and conquer Jing’s woman.
Hou’s torment and shame didn’t topple Jing and he also didn’t win in the power struggle with Jing. He could only use winning away the women around Jing, such as making Jing’s maid Lan Xiang betray Jing and also cause Jing’s wife to like Hou over Jing.
Xiao Yao suddenly sat up “Bastard!”
The next day Xiao Yao rushed to find Jing who was leaving and Hu Ya driving the carriage looked upset.
Seeing Xiao Yao, Jing had Hu Ya wait and asked “What happened? Why are you here?”
Xiao Yao took off her veiled hat “I’m not here to see you, I want to talk to Jing Ye.”
Jing said “Jing Ye is inside, I’ll go with you to see her.”
Xiao Yao “You handle your matters, I want to speak with her alone.
“Then I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
Xiao Yao smiled and said nothing before walking in.
Jing Ye was speaking with Hu Zhen and when Xiao Yao walked in she quickly curtsied “Princess you are here! Where is the master?”
Xiao Yao asked “I noticed Hu Ya’s expression was odd, what happened?”
“Last night a personal guard of my master secretly poisoned his medicine but luckily Princess you warned us so we are extra careful and he didn’t succeed. The guard committed suicide before he could be interrogated but the guard grew up with Hu Ya so Hu Ya feels terrible.”
Jing Ye sighed “This feeling is so scary, one second it’s someone you trust and the next is someone with a sword aimed at you. Hu Zhen said the enemy wants to make us all uneasy and start suspecting even our closest family. Thankfully master is very kind and isn’t affected, he keeps comforting Hu Ya.”
Xiao Yao’s expression darkened, so Hou and Yi Yang have started taking action!
Hu Zhen said “I didn’t tell anyone about the clan leader’s health but the two of them are not stupid so they likely already knew. They have been waiting for him to fall gravely ill but in the last few months the clan leader looks so much healthier so they know that method won’t work which is why yesterday’s poison attempt is just the beginning.”
Hu Zhen stared at Xiao Yao without blinking and she knew what he wanted to say. She said “Don’t worry, I won’t let anyone harm my patient.”
Hu Zhen was relieved and bowed “Thank you to the Princess.”
Xiao Yao said “I have something to talk to Jing Ye about.”
Hu Zhen looked at Jing Ye before retreating from the room.
Xiao Yao sat down at Jing’s usual seat and stared at Jing Ye who felt her goosebumps rise and asked “Does Princess want to take me to task?”
Xiao Yao said “I have to ask you things and if you tell me the truth then I won’t do anything to you.”
Jing was gentle and polite and never harsh with Jing Ye so right now she felt unhappy but knew how important Xiao Yao was to Jing so she accepted it “Whatever I can say I will answer.”
Xiao Yao asked “Tell me, has Hou ever given you presents, been nice to you, tried to seduce you?”
Jing Ye’s face flushed red “Does Princess suspect that I betrayed my master? I didn’t!”
“Answer my question, has Hou tried to seduce you? Tell me the truth!”
Jing Ye bit her lip and after a moment slowly nodded her head.
“Has he touched you?”
Jing Ye’s eyes were filled with tears “One time almost but I vowed death in denying him so he let me go.”
“Were you ever moved by him?”
Jing Ye immediately said “After Master went missing, I always suspected Hou did it. How could I be moved by him? Only Lan Xiang that idiot could have taken Hou’s fake affection as real and ruined her life over him.”
“If you weren’t moved by him, why didn’t you tell Jing about it?”
Jing Ye held back her tears “I may seem capable on the outside but I’m still a maid in the Tu Shan clan. If Hou liked me then I need to treat it as my lucky day. How dare I complain? Plus…..how can I tell Master this since I’m a woman?”
Xiao Yao stared at Jing Ye who added “I swear that I never did anything to betray Master. I…..I already have someone I like. I could never like Hou.”
“Who is it?”
“Hu Zhen. When Master was asleep for 37 years because of the Princess, Hu Zhen and I took care of him together. He was with me in enduring the pain of watching Master wasting away. He’s not like Hou…..full of honeyed words, he’s dense and stupid. But he makes me feel safe, with him beside me, I know even if the Heavens fell he would hold it up with me.”
Hu Zhen dense and stupid? Xiao Yao never got that impression, he seemed quick-witted and sharp. Only a woman who really liked a man would describe him as dense and stupid and still say it in an affectionate way.
Xiao Yao asked “Does Hou still harass you?”
“No, ever since Master became clan leader, he stopped harassing me. Later he knew I liked Hu Zhen and wasn’t even upset about it. He even gifted me a future wedding accessory.”
Xiao Yao smiled “I believe you. Actually I never thought you could betray Jing. I just wanted to find out because it wasn’t right that you kept this from Jing. But you’re also right, this isn’t stuff you can talk about. And with the Grand Madam around back then, she might’ve just married you off to Hou.”
Jing Ye let out a sigh of relief and wiped her tears “Thank you Princess for understanding my difficult position.” That was also her worry back then that she would become the next Lan Mu which is why she never said anything.
Xiao Yao put her hands under her chin deep in thought. Jing Ye softly called “Princess?” Xiao Yao waved her off “You go do your thing, I’m mulling through some stuff.”
Jing Ye quietly left the room.
Xiao Yao was mulling over what Hou was thinking. Jing Ye’s rejection told Hou that he wasn’t as good as Jing so that enraged Hou and he kept on harassing her. But when he knew she liked Hu Zhen, he stopped because winning Jing Ye meant winning over Hu Zhen and not Jing. Hou wasn’t interested in Jing Ye after that. Hou used conquering Jing’s women to prove he was better than Jing! Hou actually having that thought meant he would have set his eyes on Yi Yang from the beginning. Compared to maids like Lan Xiang and Jing Ye, Yi Yang was way more meaningful a conquest.
Based on what she saw, Yi Yang genuinely liked Hou but how much Hou was sincere towards her versus conquering her to win over Jing was unclear.
Jing wanted to lessen Hou’s anger but didn’t know that Hou’s entire soul was twisted. He tortured Jing, tried to win the clan leader position, stole Jing’s women, all of that was to prove he was better than Jing. But the one woman he could never win the affection of was already dead. He could never show her his victory over Jing.
Xiao Yao sighed, if Jing’s mother knew that the poison wine she brewed with her own hands would be drunk sip by sip one day by Jing, would she have treated Hou better? Xiao Yao still couldn’t agree with Jing in not killing off Hou already, but Jing had already stepped aside too much and Xiao Yao couldn’t let Hou keeping harming Jing.
Jing walked into the room and saw Xiao Yao with her head lowered and brow furrowed as if deep in thought. The sunlight shined on parts of her and illuminated her face like an orchid waiting to bloom.
Jing quietly looked at her and felt that the sunlight shining on Xiao Yao shined right into his heart. It was like he had drunken wine and felt this warm buzz.
Jing slowly walked over and Xiao Yao was still thinking until Jing walked up to her before she realized he was there. She raised her head and smiled at Jing, and that smile was from deep inside and brightened her face.
The moment her smile came and showed her teeth like a crescent moon, she was so beautiful and the smile was all for him. Jing felt his heart filled full with happiness and called out “Xiao Yao.”
Xiao Yao asked “Back so early? Are you all done?”
“I did the urgent matters already and the rest can wait.” Jing sat across from her “What were you thinking about?”
Xiao Yao mocked herself “What can I think about? A person like me, when I think it’s all messed up and all I come up with are a bellyful of bad ideas. Jing, can you promise me something?”
“Just say it.”
“Trust me! No matter what happens, trust me completely without reservation!”
Xiao Yao was still wary and reminded him “No matter what you see, what you hear, close your eyes and ask your heart.”
Jing said “Don’t worry, the things I promised you before that I didn’t do, this time I will do this no matter what!”
Xiao Yao smiled “Great, I look forward to seeing you do it.”
That night when Zhuan Xu came to Xiao Yue Peak, Xiao Yao asked him “Are any of the consorts having parties or celebrations soon? Like a birthday? Or someone in their family getting a promotion?”
“What are you thinking of doing?”
“I want a party on the water. Best if it’s on a boat in the middle of a big lake.”
Zhuan Xu called “Xiao Xiao.”
Xiao Xiao walked over and Zhuan Xu asked “Princess wants a water banquet. Anyone suitable to hold one?”
Xiao Xiao replied “The Wan Lei Consort grew up by the water and every banquet likes holding it by the water. In ten or so more days will be when the water lilies bloom on the Great Mirror Lake. She can hold a flower viewing banquet on the lake as a reason to invite guests.”
Xiao Yao smiled and nodded “That’s perfect and no one will have reason to suspect.”
Xiao Xiao asked “Who does Princess want to invite?”
Xiao Yao said “Jing, Fang Feng Yi Yang, Tu Shan Hou, Li Jie Chang. I don’t care about anyone else but those four people have to attend.”
Xiao Xiao said “I understand.”
Xiao Yao replied “Xiao Xiao, thank you.”
“Princess you are too kind.” Xiao Xiao quietly retreated.
Zhuan Xu asked Xiao Yao “I thought you didn’t want to see Fang Feng Yi Yang? What are you planning?”
“I’m planning to do some bad stuff and it’s only stuff I can do secretly so I can’t tell anyone.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “Fine. If I’m free that day I’ll come see what you’re up to.”
Days later, the Wan Lei Consort held a flower viewing banquet on the Great Mirror Lake in Sheng Nong Mountain. She invited guests to admire the water lilies and enjoy the scenic vistas.
Xiao Yao was now infamous in the vast wilderness but she rarely went out so when she arrived at the party, she was the center of attention as everyone wanted to see what the Princess who ran off with a dissolute rake on her wedding day looked like.
The Wan Lei Consort had all the guests brought onto various ships, and likely to lessen Xiao Yao’s discomfort, her ship had few people with only close friends and family – Jing, Fang Feng Yi Yang, Li Jie Chang, Xi Ling Chun and his fiancee Ji Yen Ran, the Wan Lei Consort and her little sister Wan Lei Yun.
The Wan Lei Consort and Yi Yang sat on the pallet catching up while Wan Lei Yun stuck by her sister’s side. She spoke little and took in everything, a very quiet and polite young lady. Ji Yen Ran was also a gently bred young lady who smiled and sat beside Fang Feng Yi Yang. That left Jing, Chang, Hou, and Chun, the four men talking in the rear of the ship and fishing.
Only Xiao Yao was alone standing by the railing admiring the view.
Chang saw Xiao Yao and kept poking Jing with his elbow but Jing had no reaction. Chang walked over to Xiao Yao and spoke loudly “Princess, will you consider my buddy?”
Xiao Yao leaned against the railing with a smile and said nothing.
Chang said “You left Feng Long, your reputation is ruined because of Fang Feng Bei, you can’t find a decent man to marry you now. My buddy is true to you, why don’t you just go with him!”
Xiao Yao flipped her hair and laughed “He’s true to me? I can’t feel that.”
Xiao Yao was wearing a gossamer thin Spring robe that billowed in the wind and outlined her petite figure, giving her an aura of innocent seductiveness like one of the blooming water lilies ringing the ship.
Chang was gritting his teeth “How does Jing need to treat you so that you feel his true heart?”
Xiao Yao bit her lip and said “I want a water lily.”
Chang said “That’s a piece of cake.” But Xiao Yao added “No using powers though. I want a hand plucked water lily, and I want it right now.”
Chang was startled, it seemed simple but sometimes the simplest things in the world are the hardest to do. Chang glanced over at Yi Yang and the Wan Lei Consort, and then over at Hou and Chun, before looking around at all the ships in the lake. He sighed “Princess, you are clearly being difficult.”
Xiao Yao said nothing and just smiled at Jing.
Chang was about to say something when with a plop Jing dived off the ship and swam towards a water lily.
The sound startled the other four ladies and everyone stood up.
The Wan Lei Consort asked in dismay “The Tu Shan clan leader, what is going on?”
Xiao Yao grinned “The Tu Shan clan leader went to pluck a water lily.”
Since Chang dragged Jing over to Xiao Yao, Hou had been keeping an eye on them while still fishing with Chun. He heard every word Chang said to Xiao Yao. He already knew Jing liked Xiao Yao but he didn’t realize Jing was willing to do anything for her.
The rest of the folks on the other ships didn’t know why Jing suddenly jumped in the water but they could tell this was a very strange occurrence so everyone stopped laughing and stared at Jing.
Someone called out on another ship “Tu Shan clan leader, do you need some help? I’m happy to oblige.”
Jing swam and calmly answered “No need, I need to do this myself.”
Everyone was gossiping “What needs the clan leader to do personally?’
Jing candidly replied “Plucking a flower.”
Everyone paused and then started laughing uproariously.
Chang leaned on the railing and covered his eyes wearily with his hands, not having the heart to look anymore. He viciously chewed out Xiao Yao “You little witch, are you happy now?”
Jing swam to the shore and plucked the most beautiful water lily before swimming back.
He vaulted onto the ship dripping wet and everyone saw that he was holding a gloriously bloomed water lily in his hand. He handed it to Xiao Yao and she accepted it with a smile. She plucked the two prettiest blooms and tucked it in her hair and put the rest around her wrist as a bracelet.
Everyone thought the Tu Shan clan leader was plucking a flower for Fang Feng Yi Yang but seeing him hand it to Xiao Yao caused silence to descend as all eyes focused on Xiao Yao.
Li Jie Chang purposely loudly laughed “We made a bet with the Princess and we lost. The bet was to not use powers to pluck a water lily. I wanted to welsh on the bet but the much too serious Jing actually made good on the bet!”
Everyone knew Li Jie Chang was a prankster so laughed along with him and then went back to their own pleasures. But everyone on Xiao Yao’s ship knew this wasn’t some bet.
Xiao Yao raised her arm and asked Jing “Is it pretty?”
Jing nodded and all the women on the ship had to agree that it was gorgeous. Ji Yen Ran even glanced at Chun with a realization that the most beautiful accessory in this world wasn’t jewels but was instead a wild flower plucked by a lover.
Xiao Yao said to Jing “Take care of yourself and quickly dry your clothes.” She finished and acted like nothing had happened and sauntered away.
Yi Yang’s express was thunderous and everyone awkwardly stood there. Xiao Yao was nonchalantly standing at the front chatting with Shan Hu and enjoying with the view.
The Wan Lei Consort composed herself and smiled “Everyone try the dishes which are all local specialties from my hometown. If you don’t like it at least you’ve now tasted it before. Later there will be main courses and if you like it then have more.”
Everyone awkwardly sat down and dutifully ate the dishes brought by the maids.
Hou smiled and observed Xiao Yao. Likely due to her living in the common world for hundreds of years, she may be royal but was very different than the other noble ladies. She was like a wildflower growing in the countryside, brazen and free. No wonder she publicly discarded Feng Long, and now that Fang Feng Bei was dead, she didn’t seem all that upset and was flirting with Jing.
The perfect Jing was always cool and calm with no desires and no wants. Everyone’s dream position as the clan leader was something he didn’t even want. The beautiful Fang Feng Yi Yang didn’t even merit an extra look from him. Even an aphrodisiac couldn’t get him to sleep with Yi Yang. But Jing’s heart was captured by that wildflower, there was finally something he wanted and he desired now.
Hou liked hunting since he was small, the more dangerous the beast the more he liked it. The more dangerous it was, the more he got a thrill out of conquering it.
Another ship pulled up alongside but no one noticed until Feng Long and Empress Xing Yue walked out. Everyone on the Wan Lei Consort’s ship stood up and bowed as Feng Long and Empress Xing Yue boarded. Xiao Yao’s head started hurting and she shrank behind others.
Xing Yue said to the Wan Lei Consort “I heard you were having a party on the lake so decided to come join the fun. I hope I didn’t intrude on the festivities.”
The Wan Lei Consort laughed “The arrival of the Empress will only add to the festivities.”
Xing Yue’s eyes moved over everyone until she landed on Xiao Yao “What a surprise to see the Princess here as well.”
Xiao Yao didn’t know how to answer so didn’t reply.
Xing Yue said to Feng Long “Gege, this is the first time you’ve seen Xiao Yao since that ridiculous wedding ceremony, right?”
Feng Long glanced at Xiao Yao and said nothing.
Xiao Yao knew Xing Yue came today for her and she could just ignore Xing Yue. But she truly felt apologetic towards Feng Long and if her being shamed by Xing Yue could make him feel better, then she was willing to endure it.
Xing Yue walked over to Xiao Yao and circled her “Princess was supposedly so in love with Fang Feng Bei, but he’s been dead only a few months and already Princess is out attending a party. There isn’t the slight bit of mourning.”
Xing Yue said to Yi Yang “Your second brother died for her but look at her! Encountering such a heartless woman, even I don’t think it was worth it for your second brother. It must be hard for you to be here pasting on a smile.”
Xing Yue laughed “Gege, you should be happy that the Heavens looked out for the Chi Sui clan so that this type of woman didn’t join our family!”
Feng Long’s expression was dark and he continued to say nothing.
Chang laughed and tried to change the subject “Everyone came to enjoy the flowers, let’s all just look at the flowers!”
Xing Yue pointed to the flowers on Xiao Yao’s wrist “Here are some water lilies to enjoy? Princess is dressed so provocatively, which man gave you this glorious water lily? Who are you planning to seduce now…..”
Jing stepped in front of Xiao Yao “I gave her the flower. Will Your highness please be mindful of what you say.”
Xing Yue covered her mouth “Ooops, I totally forgot about you two. That’s great, since no man will want her now, why don’t the Tu Shan clan leader take her home as a concubine. But you need to watch her carefully, who knows if she’ll run off with another man down the road.”
Jing was about to say something when Xiao Yao jerked his sleeve to indicate that he just endure and say nothing. Jing held back.
“Look! Just look!” Xing Yue sighed loudly “Yi Yang, Yi Yang, you are so magnanimous, look at them flirting and shooting looks at each other right in front of you and you don’t even say anything. Are you really going to let this woman who caused your second brother’s death to share a husband with you? You are still the wife, show some backbone…..”
“What is the Empress planning to do with some backbone?” It wasn’t clear when Zhuan Xu arrived on the ship and he was walking over with a smile on his face.
Everyone quickly bowed and Zhuan Xu passed everyone to personally help the Wan Lei Consort up “Are the water lilies pretty?”
The Wan Lei Consort answered “Very pretty. Does Your majesty want to view it with us?”
Zhuan Xu smiled and teased “You’re prettier than the flowers, no need to view the water lilies!”
The Wan Lei Consort’s face blushed pink while Xing Yue’s face turned white.
Zhuan Xu waved at Xiao Yao and she walked over to him. He plucked the water lily from her hair and turned it into a longer strand that he wanted to put around the Wan Lei Consort’s wrist like Xiao Yao had. He couldn’t secure it right and laughed “This stuff you women are better at.”
Xiao Yao placed the water lily strand around the Wan Lei Consort’s wrist and helped her make a wrist corsage. Zhuan Xu complimented “Lovely!”
The Wan Lei Consorted curtsied to Zhuan Xu “Thank Your majesty for the grace.”
Xiao Yao also curtsied “Your majesty, I have a headache and will excuse myself.”
Zhuan Xu said “I’m just planning to go visit Grandfather so let’s go together.”
Zhuan Xu said to everyone “Everyone continue enjoying the flowers!” Zhuan Xu turned to go but stopped and whispered a few words in the Wan Lei Consort’s ear. She shyly smiled and nodded her head.
Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao got on the other ship and left.
The Wan Lei Consort smiled and asked everyone to go back to enjoying the view. Xing Yue’s expression was thunderous and was about to explode but the Wan Lei Consort remained cool and composed. The Wan Lei Consort was different than the other consorts like Shu Hui who were from the Middle Plains. She was from Xuan Yuan so she may be respectful of Xing Yue but was not afraid of her.
Yi Yang as furious that Xing Yue shaming Xiao Yao also included her so she smiled at the Wan Lei Consort “His majesty is surely so loving to Your highness. Back there on the ship, he only had eyes for you and no one else.”
The Wan Lei Consort raised the water lily corsage on her wrist and wordlessly smiled.
Xing Yue was so furious, when Zhuan Xu arrived he didn’t berate her but ignored her in front of everyone. Xing Yue felt the entire lake full of water lilies were mocking her and wanted to immediately escape.
Feng Long’s voice reached her in her mind “I told you not to come. You insisted and now you’re here then you can’t just leave. If you leave then everyone will speak even worse behind your back. If you endure then all people will say is that it doesn’t matter which consort Zhuan Xu likes, you’re still the Empress and don’t need to vy with the other consorts for anything.”
Xing Yue could only hold in her furious rage and put on a magnanimous demeanor to enjoy the flowers with everyone.
After the ship departed, Zhuan Xu immediately started yelling at Xiao Yao, poking her in the head “When did you become such a hare brain! Xing Yue insults you and you just take it? If you have such a easygoing personality then why don’t you use it on Grandfather and me instead? How come you’re not nicer to me? Every time I nag you about something you’re all sharp teeth retorts flying back at me! Faced with an outsider you’re all docile and tongue-tied. Let me tell you, if I see this happen again, I’ll first thrash you little spineless thing!”
Xiao Yao kept her head lowered in silence.
Zhuan Xu kept on yelling “Say something! Are you mute now?”
Xiao Yao wearily splayed her hands “Aren’t you complaining that I’m too sharp-tongued all the time. Aren’t I docilely listening to you berate me right now?”
“You…..” Zhuan Xu was so frustrated he bopped her on the head. “If you have this attitude with me why don’t you use it on outsiders?”
“My past with Feng Long….I feel like I wronged him. So if Xing Yue was to insult me then let her, it’ll also let Feng Long release from frustration.”
“Wronged him? What did you do wrong? Your dad and I have given way more reparations to the Chi Sui clan than needed and said plenty of nice things. Feng Long is currently above the whole world and under only one person. He has everything he could want in power and glory. All he has to deal with it some gossip behind his back! Forget later, he can have any woman he wants right now! But you? Your reputation is shot and the person who ended up on the losing side of this situation is you!”
Xiao Yao said “Just this time then! Next time Xing Yue wants to pick a fight with me, I’ll fight back.”
Zhuan Xu coldly huffed “You said you were planning to do something bad. I thought you were planning to do something exciting so I found time in my busy schedule to come watch from the sidelines. Who expected that I would see you were the one being attacked?”
Xiao Yao opened her arms and stretched before smiling “My bad thing is just getting started. I tossed the lure and now will have to wait for the fish to bite. Later I’ll tell you everything so you can marvel at my plan.”
Zhuan Xu felt the water lily on Xiao Yao’s wrist was annoying him so he flicked his finger and it fell into the water.
“Aish, my flower!” Xiao Yao wanted to scoop it up but it floated away. Xiao Yao’s face was crestfallen and Zhuan Xu scoffed “Just a few worthless flowers. Later I’ll get you as much as you want.”
Xiao Yao muttered “It’s not the same……..”
A few days later, Xiao Yao and Shan Hu entered the Tu Shan clan jewelry store. She was wearing a veiled hat so the clerk couldn’t see her face but he saw the blue pearl earrings hanging from Shan Hu’s ears and immediately welcomed them warmly and brought them to the inner chambers.
The maid brought out refreshments and the clerk brought out a set of jewelry for Xiao Yao and Shan Hu to peruse. Xiao Yao sat on the pallet and glanced across the offering before looking out the window, clearly not interested in what was presented. Shan Hu picked a seven colored fish bracelet that wasn’t very expensive but nicely made with each piece the same size and color.
Xiao Yao had the clerk wrap it up and was preparing to pay and leave. Hou lifted the curtains and said with a smile “Princess isn’t picking something for yourself?” Hou gestured to the clerk who quickly retreated.
Xiao Yao lazily drawled “Bit bored so brought Shan Hu out shopping.”
Hou said “The rare items won’t be shown that easily. Princess, please see if there is anything you like.”
Two maids came in and placed boxes on the table.
Hou opened a box and inside was a jewel that was exquisitely made. Xiao Yao picked it up and complimented “The Tu Shan clan have good jewelry designers, comparable to the artisans in the Palace.”
Hou described bracelets and hair pins to Xiao Yao, going into detail the painstaking labor needed for the intricate details and flawless finishes. His explanations were detailed and Xiao Yao listened raptly. Xiao Yao couldn’t help but ask “How do you know so much about the jewelry?”
Hou laughed “I designed all these from picking the raw materials and gems to selecting the right artisan to hand craft it. I handled it all myself.”
Xiao Yao was genuinely surprised and startled and checked out Hou again in earnest.
Hou explained “It’s nothing to be surprised about, the Tu Shan clan dabble in business and jewelry is the business with the greatest risk. It’s the field I focused on learning since I was small. If you spent as much time learning it as me, you would know just as much and do it just as well.”
Xiao Yao said “Jewelry seems cold but it contains a person’s creative ideas, hard work, and lifetime’s investment to make a woman look a little bit prettier.”
Hou clapped “Exactly! But I noticed you rarely wear jewelry.”
“I was pretty down and out in the past so to even survive was a blessing. I feel like such external items are to be admired and I don’t any have desire to own it.”
Hou raised an eyebrow “That’s unique.”
Xiao Yao mocked herself “It’s not that unique, I’m also very particular so rarely does anything catch my eye.”
Hou smiled at the glittering jewelry and sighed “I guess none of these items make your heart flutter.”
Xiao Yao smiled and got up to take her leave.
Hou suddenly asked “Do you have time tomorrow? Tomorrow a shipment of raw gems will arrive, are you interested in seeing what it looks like in its original state?”
Xiao Yao cocked her head and stared at him before smiling and laying it out in the open “You must know that Jing likes me.”
Hou smiled back and decided to take a step back in his approach “If you’ve decided to marry him then I take back what I just said.”
Xiao Yao smiled “Fang Feng Bei taught me archery and died in a shower of arrows. If you’re not afraid of death then I don’t mind going with you to see the raw gems.”
Hou said “Then it’s set. I’ll meet you here tomorrow at noon.”
Xiao Yao grinned and put her on veiled hat before leaving with Shan Hu.
The second day Xiao Yao arrived and Hou took her to see the uncut gems.
With a first date, there was a second date, and a third date…….
Xiao Yao couldn’t help but admit that Hou was a very attractive man. He was handsome, strong, hardworking, interesting, serious when working but carefree when playing. His carefree was different than Fang Feng Bei’s similar attitude. Fang Feng Bei really didn’t care about anything so he wanted nothing. Hou’s passion was because he wanted to dominate it all. His daring was not the same fearless as Fang Feng Bei who really wasn’t afraid of anything. Hou’s adventurous spirit was only within the confines of what he felt he could handle. He wanted the thrill but also protected his life. He was likely exactly the kind of man Fang Feng Yi Yang wanted. His ambition could fulfill a woman’s lifetime wants and his adventurous spirit could give her endless thrills but nothing that was life threatening.
Hou knew Xiao Yao was a smart person and there was only ever one reason for a man to spend time with a woman. He never openly said or did anything nor did he try to conceal it. He gave Xiao Yao everything he thought she would like and did it in a self-deprecating way “I know you might not like it but it’s my way of expressing how I feel. You just have to accept it and you can do whatever you want with it afterwards, throw it away or give it to someone else.”
Xiao Yao smiled, no wonder even Xing Yue said Hou was very generous. The things Hou gave her, Zhuan Xu might not even give his consorts and then boldly say they could do whatever they wanted with it afterwards.
From Spring to Summer, the two of them gradually got closer.
One Summer afternoon, Hou took Xiao Yao out on a little boat and they went in the water to play with the fishes and pluck the water lilies. Hou and Xiao Yao dove into the water and were relaxed and playful. Hou knew Xiao Yao’s powers were weak but playfully took her deeper until she had one breath left. He wanted to help her but Xiao Yao smiled and took out a fish amethyst from her robe and popped it in her mouth. She could now hold her breath longer than him in the water.
They came to the surface and Xiao Yao climbed on the boat and spit out the fish amethyst and took out a cloth to wipe it. It glowed purple as it dangled on a chain from her neck.
Hou said “So the fish amethyst ended up in your hands. Jing gave it to you, right? Years ago he claimed some mysterious person bought it but it turned out to be himself.”
Xiao Yao openly confirmed “Jing gave it to me.”
Hou remarked “So it’s not like you don’t like all jewels. Jing really knows what you do like.”
Xiao Yao smiled “This actually all relates back to you. Remember years ago when we all went out to sea and you captured a monster fish and removed a fish ruby from its innards. Both Xing Yue and I were enchanted by it and I wanted it then but Xing Yue asked first. You said no and since I wasn’t familiar with you then I didn’t even bother asking. Later I asked Feng Long and Jing about it and wanted to ask my Dad to find me one. But such things come by luck and even the Gao Xing Palace can’t easily obtain one that pretty. I don’t like ordinary ones and was quite disappointed but Jing kept on looking and got me this fish amethyst.”
Hou remembered that day and Xing Yue did ask him for it but he said no. Xiao Yao stood with Feng Long and Jing discussing it afterwards. Hou’s anger bubbled forth but he kept his smile plastered on his face “So I’m the one who helped Jing out.”
Xiao Yao said “It’s getting dark, let’s go back!”
Hou said “Three days later then?”
Xiao Yao replied “Sure!”
Three days later Xiao Yao met up with Hou and he rowed them on a little boat into the water lilies before stopping and asking “Can I see your fish amethyst?”
Xiao Yao took it off and handed it to Hou who palmed it in his hand and sneered inwardly that Jing really put effort into it as he likely made it himself.
Hou said to Xiao Yao “Close your eyes.”
Xiao Yao asked “Why?”
Hou said “Close your eyes and you’ll see.”
Xiao Yao smiled at Hou but refused to close her eyes so he coughed and pleaded with her “Trust me, close your eyes.”
Xiao Yao closed her eyes and Hou placed the necklace back around her neck and said “Okay, open your eyes now.”
Xiao Yao opened her eyes and laughed “Why so secretive to put my necklace back on me?”
Hou pointed to Xiao Yao’s chest and she looked down to see a shining red fish ruby that was even bigger than her fish amethyst. She happily lifted it up and stared with excitement “You’re giving this to me?”
Hou said “I’m giving it to you. But you can only wear one necklace, so if you want this then you can’t wear the fish amethyst anymore.” Hou opened his hand and inside was the fish amethyst necklace.
Xiao Yao stared at the fish amethyst and furrowed her brows before taking off the fish ruby to hand back to Hou coldly “Your gift is not sincere so I’m not interested!”
Hou didn’t take the fish ruby back and kept the fish amethyst in his hand as he pleaded “I just wanted to say that eventually you’ll have to choose. But I’ll wait, I’ll wait until you’re willing.”
Xiao Yao smiled and swung the fish ruby “I don’t like being pressured otherwise no matter how great something is, I don’t want it!”
Hou believed her, there were few women in the world who would let go of Chi Sui Feng Long so Xiao Yao really was an odd one. Hou said “I’ll keep this fish amethyst for you and later you can ask for it back or throw it away, you decide.”
Xiao Yao smiled and put the fish ruby back around her neck.
They two played on the lake for a bit longer before Hou took Xiao Yao back.
Xiao Yao was cool and calm until she returned to Xiao Yue Summit and her little bamboo hut. She immediately hugged Shan Hu and hopped around excitedly “I got it, I finally got it!”
Shan Han was jostled and asked “What did you get?”
Xiao Yao said “I got the key that will unlock the truth.”
With Hou’s attitude towards jewelry, even the most rare precious fish ruby that can only be found by luck he likely wouldn’t care to keep it. He kept this fish ruby around for sixty some years then it had to be his gift to Yi Yang. But Jing saw this fish ruby before and Yi Yang was Jing’s wife so she couldn’t wear it. Yi Yang knew she was cheating so she wouldn’t risk keeping it with her, and neither would Hou risk it, so even if it was gifted to Yi Yang it would still be kept by Hou. Yi Yang likely only wore it when she was alone with Hou.
Ever since the baby was born, Yi Yang and Hou were even more vigilant to keep up pretenses and never once met privately and even publicly argued with each other. This fish ruby was likely kept in a box somewhere hidden by Hou and forgotten. It wasn’t until he saw Xiao Yao’s fish amethyst that he remembered that victory prize from that day.
An item Hou kept in a box for tens of years, he wouldn’t have a problem using it to win another woman’s heart, especially if that woman was the one Jing really wanted.
Xiao Yao asked Zhuan Xu to organize another banquet for her, like last time it had to be on the water and invite Hou, Jing, Yi Yang, and Chang.
Zhuan Xu asked “These days you’ve been hanging around Hou. What’s going on?”
Even though Xiao Yao was secretive about meeting Hou, she never tried to hide it from Zhuan Xu so she smiled “You’ll know soon what I’m up to.”
Ten days later, the Li Jie Consort organized a banquet for friends to explore the Sheng Nong gorges.
It was Summer time so the Li Jie Consort naturally picked a boating excursion even without Xiao Xiao suggesting it.
The Li Jie Consort was the older cousin of the tribe leader Li Jie Chang, she was a very open and engaging woman and invited her close friends and her cousin Chang’s close friends. The guests numbered around twenty or so and everyone took a ship into the middle of the lake.
When Xiao Yao arrived all the guests were in attendance and her eyes flitted across Jing and Yi Yang before landing on Hou. He smiled at her and she smiled back before sitting down behind the Li Jie Consort.
After the musical performance was done, everyone split into groups to chat.
The Li Jie Consort chatted with Yi Yang about fashion while Xiao Yao and Shan Hu stood by the railing admiring the view.
Chang dragged Jing over and asked with a huff “What is your relationship with Hou?”
From Spring until Summer, Xiao Yao met with Hou tens of times and it wasn’t something that could be kept from the clan and tribe leaders. Xiao Yao was afraid Chang or Jing would demand answers from her so she avoided them.
Xiao Yao glanced at Jing before answering in annoyance “What do you care what my relationship is with Hou?”
Chang was enraged “Since you’re with Jing, then you shouldn’t meet privately with Hou.”
Xiao Yao laughed coldly “I’m just ordinary friends with Jing, and also ordinary friends with Hou. You stop butting in!”
Hou stood in the shadows and heard what Xiao Yao said and his face darkened.
Hou said to the crowd “I heard this lake has silver fish that love eating lily dew so its meat has the scent of lilies. Whether grilled or in soup it’s mighty tasty. But it’s very sensitive so hides in deep places and is hard to catch. And must be cooked immediately upon catching it otherwise the meat will turn sour. We have a great chef onboard today and I also have a fish amethyst so I’ll go catch some for everyone to eat.”
The Li Jie Consort was very playful and laughed “If you can catch some then I’ll cook it personally. My culinary skills are not all that shabby against the chef.”
Hou walked to the railing and took out his glittering fish amethyst and everyone stared at it. Jing was stunned that his present to Xiao Yao would end up in Hou’s hand and his dismay was evident. Xiao Yao seemed rather awkward and lowered her head to avoid Jing’s pained look.
Hou glanced over at them before diving into the lake. After he dove in did Xiao Yao lift her head and glance at Jing whose expression was as placid as water and impossible to discern his feeling. Xiao Yao took a few steps and walked beside him but didn’t try to explain.
After some time, Hou emerged on the surface with a two feet long silver fish in his hand. Everyone clapped in glee and the mood on the ship got excited as the Li Jie Consort rolled up her sleeves to head to the kitchen to cook the fish.
Hou saw Xiao Yao and Jing standing next to each other on the ship with no smiles on their faces. Hou smiled and beckoned towards Xiao Yao’s general direction “Want to come catch silver fish? It’s fun.”
A few folks dived into the water and Xiao Yao glanced at Jing before wordlessly diving in as well.
Jing stared at Hou who floated on the surface and locked eyes with Jing, a look of wanting Jing to take it all in. After Xiao Yao swam to his side, Hou slowly swam into the distance with Xiao Yao.
Yi Yang saw Hou beckon in Xiao Yao’s direction to invite her into the water to play. Her heart jerked even if others also went in. She thought she was overthinking it and what Hou said was meant for everyone on the ship and not just Xiao Yao. But when Xiao Yao dove into the water and swam alongside Hou as everyone watched, their gestures were not overly close but her woman’s intuition told her something wasn’t right.
Yi Yang was unsettled and looked towards Jing and saw Chang angrily saying something to Jing who just quietly stared out over the lake.
There wasn’t a lot of people on the ship to begin with, and with a handful in the water and the rest around the Li Jie Consort cooking, Yi Yang noticed no one was paying her any attention so she sneaked to the rear of the ship to listen to Chang and Jing talk.
Yi Yang didn’t dare get too close but she learned archery since she was young so her hearing was excellent. She heard Chang mention Hou and Xiao Yao so she calmed her senses to hear better.”
“That witch meets secretly with Hou every few days, going out to play, viewing flowers, climbing mountains…..she claims to just be ordinary friends but do you believe that? I don’t!”
Hou and Xiao Yao meeting secretly? Yi Yang couldn’t believe it, Hou would never! Would never……….Yi Yang was waiting for Jing to refute what Chang was saying but Jing said nothing as if admitting what Chang said was all true.
Then…..Hou and Xiao Yao really had been meeting secretly for some time?
Yi Yang felt her eyes darken and her head spin.
Chang furiously raged “Don’t think it’s all one-sided from Hou. When he called her back there she plopped right into the water and left you! Jing, are you blind, how could you fall for such a woman…….”
Yi Yang felt like she fell into an ice cave, her entire body was shivering as she thought about how the whole world knew about Hou and Xiao Yao and only she was kept in the dark.
The Li Jie Consort called out “Yi Yang, Yi Yang, come try my fish.”
Yi Yang composed herself and forced and smile as she walked over.
The maid handed a plate of fish to Yi Yang but it wasn’t clear if Yi Yang was out of it or the maid was clumsy but the fish landed on her dress and left an oily smear. The maid knelt down to beg forgiveness but Yi Yang waved it off “Just a dress, I’ll just go change.”
The Li Jie Consort ordered another maid to lead Yi Yang to the inner chamber to change. After changing, the maid asked if she wanted to head back out but Yi Yang sat there with her face ashen and said nothing. The maid said nothing as well and quietly waited for her.
Yi Yang’s heart was jumbled, thinking it must be false but then thinking what Chang said was true. This wasn’t something hard to confirm if she sent someone to check.
Just as Yi Yang was trying to collect her thoughts, the door opened and a wet Xiao Yao walked in. She politely nodded her head and walked inside. Yi Yang remembered Xiao Yao had very low powers so while others could dry themselves she actually needed to change her clothes.
Through the veiled partition she could see Xiao Yao changing. Xiao Yao was giggling with Shan Hu “I don’t want that skirt, bring another one.”
Yi Yang was annoyed just hearing Xiao Yao’s voice and was about to get up and leave when Shan Hu lifted the veil and before it descended Yi Yang’s eyes glanced inside and felt a fire red burst sear her eyes. She turned around to look carefully but the veil was covering Xiao Yao again.
Yi Yang forgot all about courtesy and walked over to pull open the veiled partition and saw Xiao Yao wearing her underclothes and a red fish ruby was hanging on her chest covering. Yi Yang couldn’t even maintain her balance and stumbled so she grabbed the wall.
Shan Hu angrily said “Madam, the Princess is changing.”
Yi Yang didn’t seem to hear that and just stared at Xiao Yao. She forced a smile and casually asked “The fish ruby Princess has sure is lovely. Not sure where to buy one, can I see it?”
Xiao Yao put on her dress and took off the necklace and tossed it to Yi Yang who quickly caught it afraid it would break. Xiao Yao laughed “Just a little trinket, Madam no need to worry, no big deal if it breaks.”
Such words Yi Yang heard often from people trying to show off how little they care about expensive treasure. Being in the Tu Shan clan, no matter how rare a treasure she could get it, but today Yi Yang finally understood that whether something was priceless was how the person viewed it. She treasured this so much she would use her body to protect it, but to Xiao Yao it was just a trinket she could toss carelessly.
At first glance Yi Yang already knew this fish ruby was the one Hou gave her. But she didn’t want to believe it so had to hold it in her own hands to be absolutely sure. She realized that her heart which Hou should have cherished and hidden away was instead now given to another woman who viewed it as a trinket that could be tossed.
Yi Yang returned the necklace and said “It’s very pretty.”
Xiao Yao accepted it with a smile and put it back around her neck.
Yi Yang glanced at the fire red ruby around Xiao Yao’s neck which brought out her snowy white skin and made it even more beautiful. When Hou was meeting privately with Xiao Yao, did he also roll it around her body and say “Only such fire red could match your snowy white skin.”
Yi Yang abruptly turned around and walked out the door.
Xiao Yao saw Yi Yang leave and the smile disappeared from her face. She sat down and sighed loudly, feeling exhausted. This battle was waged from Spring until Summer and with this moment, she did everything she could and the rest was up to Jing.
Shan Hu silently fixed Xiao Yao’s clothes and asked “Princess, want me to get you some hot tea?”
Xiao Yao shook her head “No, I’ll rest for a bit before departing on a little boat. Send word to Jing to meet me at the usual spot after he extricates himself.”
Xiao Yao went out and had some silver fish before excusing herself with the Li Jie Consort. She was so easygoing she didn’t mind but asked “His majesty might come soon, you’re not going to wait?”
Xiao Yao said “No, I see him everyday anyway.”
The Li Jie Consort ordered the little boat readied and it took Xiao Yao back.
Xiao Yao left on the little boat not to go back to Xiao Yue Summit but to Cao Ao Peak and the little hut that remained the same after all these years. Back then she often met Jing there and today Xiao Yao looked around the hut before sitting by the edge of the pond to wait for Jing.
After quite some time, Jing finally arrived.
Jing sat down next to Xiao Yao and she looked sideways at him “Are you upset to see the present you gave me in Hou’s possession?”
Jing said “If you really gave it to him, I’m not going to get upset with you over an item. Xiao Yao, tell me what you’re really planning?”
Xiao Yao smiled “You must’ve guess bits and pieces already.”
Jing said “Some idea but I hope I’m wrong. Xiao Yao, I don’t want you to….”
Xiao Yao took out the fish ruby from her sleeve “Regardless of whether you want me to or not, I’m done with my part. The rest is up to you.”
Jing took the fish ruby “This is….the one that Hou got from the monster fish in the sea years ago?”
Xiao Yao nodded “When you saw Hou holding something you gave to me, you trusted that there was nothing going on between me and him. But you felt a bit bad still, right?”
Jing mockingly said “My first reaction was shock and despair, but I immediately knew you were planning something else. I don’t know exactly what and I can’t help you, so I can only remain calm and unaffected, to let no reaction be my only action.”
Xiao Yao contained her smile “Do you think Hou and Yi Yang will have our level of trust? When Yi Yang saw the fish ruby in my hands, what will she think?”
Jing understood everything now “Hou gave this fish ruby to Yi Yang, but now to win your affection, he gave it to you.”
Xiao Yao nodded “It was just a guess initially but today Yi Yang’s reaction confirmed it for me. Soon their promise will be shattered as Yi Yang will be sure to go find Hou. When Hou can’t give the fish ruby to her, she will explode and Hou will need to use everything he can to placate Yi Yang…..do you understand?”
“I understand.” Hou and Yi Yang’s had a mutual secret that lead to them acting in tandem without any weakness. But Xiao Yao wedged a rift between them now and they would start to question each other and that would disrupt their plans.
Jing controlled his excitement and thought carefully before saying “Xiao Yao, can you lend me your mystical gorilla mirror?”
Xiao Yoa knew what Jing was planning, to use the mirror to record Hou and Yi Yang’s conversation and show it to her later. Xiao Yao took out the mirror and had Jing feed a drop of his essential soul blood to it and then showed him how to use it. She cautioned him “You need to put your safety paramount. I already believe you so there is no use to record them in the mirror to show me.”
Jing accepted the mirror “Xiao Yao, thank you for everything you did for me!”
Xiao Yao sighed “Why thank me? Thank yourself! If it wasn’t for you, Hou won’t be that desperate to win me over.”
Jing was confused so Xiao Yao explained “Hou tried to seduce Jing Ye and it failed. He went after Lan Xiang, Jing Ye, Yi Yang, and me. Do you really think I was taken with him for real?”
Jing gradually understood and his expression turned incredulous “He….he…..wants to prove that he’s…..better than me?”
Xiao Yao sighed “My plan had its limitations but you inadvertently helped by making it so clear and open that you wanted only me and no one else. That made Hou absolutely set on conquering me to utterly devastate you. That’s why he missed all the clues to my trap.”
Jing forced a smile “It’s not that I made it clear it was only you, it’s that he knows that I only want you. We’re brothers who grew up together, my older brother has always known how to truly destroy me.”
Xiao Yao was silent for a moment and then said “All I did was spread the net, you have to pull the net in now. No matter how low of a method you use, you need to catch every word said between Hou and Yi Yang. I want to know the truth.”
Jing said “I also want to know the truth!” All these years he walked in endless darkness and now there was finally a sliver of light and he was going to grab onto it no matter what.
The two sat by the pond for a bit longer before Xiao Yao said “You hurry back! After today’s events, you can easily act despondent and return to Qing Qiu late and Hou won’t suspect anything.”
Jing said “I am afraid Hou and Yi Yang will have unexpected reactions so you don’t leave Sheng Nong Mountain. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Xiao Yao reminded him “You also be careful. When a rabbit is cornered it’ll attack an eagle. So be extra careful!”
Jing smiled “I will.
Jing, Yi Yang, and Hou all returned to Qing Qiu one after the other.
Right now Qing Qiu must be in a tizzy but all Xiao Yao could do was wait.
Seeing Yi Yang’s reaction to the fish ruby, Xiao Yao was absolutely certain now that she had an affair with Hou. But that wasn’t enough to prove the child was Hou’s and he also shared the same bloodline with Jing. Only through Yi Yang’s own lips could the child be proven to be Jing or Hou’s son. With Xiao Yao’s push, when people are distraught they are more likely to be unable to control their emotions. With Hou and Yi Yang’s conflict set in place by Xiao Yao, they are likely to blurt out the child’s secret, though even Xiao Yao wasn’t certain it would happen.
What if they didn’t say anything about it?
With Hou and Yi Yang’s smarts, this trap can only be set once. After this chance, Hou and Yi Yang would likely go to their graves with the truth and torment Jing for a lifetime with it.
Xiao Yao was uneasy and didn’t have the mood to do anything. She went to tend the fields with the Yellow Emperor and worked backbreaking labor under the sun to wear out her body and relax her tension.
Ten days later, Xiao Yao was in the field with the Yellow Emperor when a servant came to announce that the Tu Shan clan leader was asking for an audience with the Princes. This was the first time Jing came to see Xiao Yao publicly at Xiao Yue Summit and she wasn’t sure what to say.
The Yellow Emperor said “Let him come.”
The servant went to get Jing while the Yellow Emperor asked Xiao Yao “Aren’t you going to change?”
Xiao Yao stood there in a daze and didn’t seem to hear him, she was so nervous she could barely stand still.
The Yellow Emperor saw Xiao Yao’s disoriented state and sighed, taking her hoe and setting it aside before helping her to sit down on the edge.
Jing followed behind the servant into the canyon and saw from the distance two people dressed in burlap sitting by the field. When he got close he realized it was Xiao Yao and the Yellow Emperor.
Jing greeted the Yellow Emperor who checked him out from head to toe before saying “You and Xiao Yao go talk under the tree!”
Jing followed Xiao Yao to a tree and she took off her hat before smiling at him. She seemed calm but the sun gave her face a red flush and she was dotted with sweat.
Jing handed her a handkerchief “Wipe your sweat.”
Xiao Yao accepted the handkerchief with her right hand but unconsciously wiped her sweat with her left hand which had dirt on it and it smeared on her face.
Jing realized that Xiao Yao was completely rattled which made him happy and worried, happy that she was so concerned about him, worried that he caused her such unease.
Jing took the handkerchief back and wiped the dirt from her face.
Xiao Yao couldn’t wait anymore and asked “Did Hou and Yi Yang meet? Did you hear what they said?”
“Like you suspected, they met.” He handed the mirror to Xiao Yao “I…..”
Xiao Yao said “I’ll watch myself.”
Jing said nothing as Xiao Yao took the mirror and let it play back its recorded memory.
A richly decorated room that had no windows, it appeared to be underground and there was the sound of water flowing.
Yi Yang was decked out in her most beautiful attire and she nervously paced around the room.
After a long time, it wasn’t clear from where Hou entered and Yi Yang immediately ran into his arms. Hou embraced her but asked in annoyance “Didn’t we agree never to meet privately until after Jing is dead? What happened that made you force me to come see you?”
Yi Yang asked “Where is the fish ruby you gave me? Did you bring it?”
Hou was startled and then said “I forgot to bring it.”
Yi Yang anxiously asked “Forgot? Every time you came you would bring it. Didn’t you say that you loved watching it roll around my body. You said that only its shocking red could match up to my soft white skin.”
Hou laughed “We haven’t made love in tens of years, it’s normal to forget to bring it.”
Yi Yang coldly retorted “Yes, it’s been tens of years since we made love. That’s why you have someone new and forgot someone old.”
Likely he felt guilty so Hou picked Yi Yang up and tossed her on the pallet “You know you are the only one in my heart. Don’t ever compare yourself to the other women.”
Hou leaned down to kiss Yi Yang but she stopped him “What about the Gao Xing Eldest Princess?”
Hou’s movements stopped and Yi Yang snarled “Did you forget to bring the fish ruby you gave me because it’s already hanging around another woman’s body?”
Yi Yang shoved Hou off with her spiritual power and he was actually tossed onto the ground. He hurriedly climbed up and called out “Listen to me explain, I did give the fish ruby to Xiao Yao but it’s because…..”
“Xiao Yao? You’re so familiar with her now!”
“Princess, it’s the Princess! I gave the fish ruby to the Princess as a temporary gesture……”
Yi Yang furiously raged “It’s temporary! From Spring until Summer you see her every three or four days and you call that temporary? How many times have we met in the last tens of years? If you and her are temporary then what is our relationship? Nonexistent?”
Hou urgently tried to explain “I went to seduce the Princess to further degrade Jing! I really haven’t fallen for her for real. She’s just a prey in my eyes! It’s only because she’s the woman that Jing wants so I want to snatch her. You know how much I loath and hate Jing……”
Yi Yang was startled and her face turned ashen “Then what about me? What is your feelings towards me? Is it because of that cripple Jing that you wanted me?”
“No, no, Yi Yang! You are different than them! You are my one and only!”
Hou went to embrace Yi Yang but she took steps back. She believed what Hou said, that he only wanted to snatch Xiao Yao because Jing liked her. But in believing what Hou said, that made Yi Yang’s heart truly shaken. She was willing to do anything for him but now she didn’t know anymore. Did Hou really like her? Or was she the same as Xiao Yao, just an instrument used to torment Jing.
Hou anxiously begged “Yi Yang, believe me! You are not the same as them……”
Yi Yang stared at Hou “You stand there and don’t move and look me in the eye.”
Hou stared at Yi Yang and she stared back “You said I’m not the same as them because you truly like me. Or is it because Jing did nothing and I used your son to tie him up completely.”
In front of Yi Yang’s piercing stare, Hou blinked and smiled “Of course it’s because I really like you.”
Yi Yang stared at Hou and her overwhelming sorrow poured forth. Hou embraced Yi Yang and tried to kiss her but she viciously slapped him across the face and cried out “You’re full of lies!”
Yi Yang turned and rushed outside and out of the frame of the mirror. Hou chased after her and also disappeared from the mirror.
Xiao Yao stared at the mirror in a daze.
Jing said “Their date place is very hidden and I can’t get in. Thanks to your mirror, I had You send a mystical little fox to hide the mirror in a secure place to record their meeting.”
Xiao Yao appeared to awaken and she looked up at Jing “Yi Yang said….”
Jing replied “Nothing happened between me and her. Zhen is my nephew, not my son.”
Xiao Yao slowly closed her eyes and rested her head on her knees.
Jing understood her reaction because after he watched this recording, his first reaction wasn’t joy but a feeling of sad relief like surviving a great calamity. He sat in the dark all night and it wasn’t until the next morning that he felt the stirrings of happiness.
Jing said “Xiao Yao, from now on I won’t let anyone hurt you, and I won’t let myself hurt you. Please give me another chance.”
After a moment Xiao Yao raised her head and looked at Jing with a smile. Jing didn’t know her response so nervously asked “Is that a yes?”
Xiao Yao rushed into Jing’s arms and embraced him.
Jing tightly hugged Xiao Yao and felt his heart ache, he couldn’t express it but could only tightly hold her in his arms so that he won’t ever lose her again.
The Yellow Emperor stood in the field and watched them. The Summer sun shone down through the trees onto the two of them as if embracing their entwined bodies in forever warmth.
The Yellow Emperor didn’t know if it was because he was so old now, or was it because when he closed his eyes Xiao Yao looked so much like the memory of Lei when she was young. The Yellow Emperor actually felt overcome. His entire life brought happiness to many, but most of his family and loved ones ended up suffering greatly. The sun shone on this vast land to grow life but getting too close to the sun would burn any and all. He was at the end of his life and couldn’t change the past, but right now he wished for the warmth under that tree to truly be for a lifetime.
The Yellow Emperor walked over and lightly coughed twice. Jing awkwardly stood up while Xiao Yao blushed but looked at the Yellow Emperor without a care.
The Yellow Emperor walked up to Jing and said to Xiao Yao “He has a wife and son. You don’t mind?”
Jing didn’t know what Xiao Yao wanted so didn’t answer and waited for her to respond. Xiao Yao thought about it and handed the mirror to the Yellow Emperor. He reacted as if seeing an old friend and his entire face was filled with regret. He touched the mirror and exclaimed “This mystical gorilla mirror ended up in your hands!”
“Grandfather knows this mirror?”
The Yellow Emperor said “It’s a very long story, one day I will tell you. What is the memory you wanted to show me?”
Xiao Yao pulled up the memory and after the Yellow Emperor watched it he sighed “So that’s what happened. I ought to congratulate the Tu Shan clan leader.”
Congratulate a man for his wife cheating on him? Xiao Yao burst out laughing and even the Yellow Emperor realized it and chuckled, the mood lightening up.
The Yellow Emperor said “To a man, the greatest agency is to avenge the death of a father and the stealing of a wife. You have the evidence now so even if you divorce Fang Feng Xiao Guai’s daughter and banish Hou from the family, no one will speak up on their behalf. But the entire world will laugh at the Tu Shan clan and all its clan members will live in shame. The Tu Shan clan elders will never allow you to make this public. So do you know how to deal with this?”
Jing said “I came here today intending to discuss this very matter with Xiao Yao. To make this public would punish Hou greatly but Zhen is very young and to live in shame for his entire life is too much. I also want to handle this privately.”
The Yellow Emperor nodded “Privately is the best approach.” Even if Hou and Yi Yang don’t learn their lesson, Jing can eliminate them quietly years later and no one will realize the truth.
Jing said to Xiao Yao “I don’t plan to publicly punish Yi Yang and Hou, Zhen will still publicly be my son. Only this way can he not grow up in shame. Xiao Yao, if you’re not willing……..”
“No, I agree with you and Grandfather, best do it as privately as possible.” As long as she knew the truth, then it didn’t matter that the entire world knew. No need to let Jing and his entire clan endure the mockery of the world.
The Yellow Emperor handed the mirror to Jing “No need to return this to Xiao Yao yet, you’ll be needing it.”
Jing said “I’m going back to Qing Qiu and will immediately summon an elder meeting to discuss this.”
The Yellow Emperor smiled and said to Xiao Yao “You walk the Tu Shan clan leader out.”
Jing’s flashed a glimmer of happiness, did this mean the Yellow Emperor approved of him?
Xiao Yao had a faint blush and said to Jing “Let’s go!”
The evening Zhuan Xu came to Xiao Yue Summit and saw Xiao Yao beaming with happiness, her entire aura like a peach blossom right after the Spring rain and bursting with vibrancy.
Zhuan Xu asked with a smile “What good thing happened?”
Xiao Yao sat beside him and launched into her story “Do you remember when we were in Gao Xing and went to sea that one time. Hou captured a monster fish and got a rare fish ruby…..” Xiao Yao chattered on and on getting more and more excited, while Zhuan Xu got more and more quiet as he listened.
The Yellow Emperor sipped a cup of wine and silently watched Xiao Yao and Zhuan Xu.
After Xiao Yao finished, her entire face was in smiles “Aren’t I smart? I lured Yi Yang to tell the truth herself!”
Zhuan Xu had a slight smile on his lips while his gaze was trained in the far distance as if he didn’t hear what she just said.
Xiao Yao was annoyed and pushed him “Hey, I know that this seems like insignificant matters compared to the important work the Black Emperor handles daily, but it’s very important to me! Did you listen to what I said?”
Zhuan Xu was like he just woke from a dream and said “It’s important to me too.” And he added “Very important, so important I don’t even know how to react.”
Xiao Yao didn’t believe him so jokingly punched him “You’re teasing me, right? I’m in a good mood today so won’t get upset at you.” She raised a cup of wine and handed it to Zhuan Xu “If you didn’t help me this time, then neither Yi Yang nor Hou would have fallen for the trap.”
Zhuan Xu laughed loudly and gulped the wine down.
The Yellow Emperor softly said “Zhuan Xu, you’re tired tonight. Hurry back and get some rest!”
Zhuan Xu stared at the Yellow Emperor and the Yellow Emperor stared back at Zhuan Xu. There appeared a very subtle mental battle between them for a split second before Zhuan Xu laughed “I’m off now.”
Xiao Yao watched until Zhuan Xu’s winged ride disappeared into the clouds and said to the Yellow Emperor “Something is off about Zhuan Xu? Did anything happen at court?”
The Yelllow Emperor casually chuckled “There is always something at court so don’t worry about him, it’s just the life of a ruler.”
Xiao Yao waited at Sheng Nong Mountain for ten days and still didn’t hear word from Jing. She worriedly asked the Yellow Emperor why no news yet and he explained “How to deal with Hou and Yi Yang affects a lot of people. To Jing’s it’s divorcing his wife, but to the clan it will cause a cascading power shift so there will be conflict. As the clan leader Jing must be very careful in what he does to lower the conflict in the clan to the bare minimum, otherwise it might splinter the clan apart.”
Xiao Yao understood but was still anxious and pestered the Yellow Emperor for news. The Yellow Emperor was very understanding so used the Xuan Yuan intelligence network to bring back updates for Xiao Yao.
Jing returned to Qing Qiu and didn’t immediately summon the elder meeting. He first met with Hou and Yi Yang privately together. It was likely his final offer to give them a chance to walk away alive. It ended later with someone setting fire to the residence to try and burn the mirror and kill Jing.
Jing wasn’t an idiot, he was just too kind. He took many steps back each time and he was prepared before going in to this meeting so Yi Yang and Hou’s attempt failed.
Jing summoned all the elders and exposed Hou and Yi Yang’s secret. All nine elders were stunned into silence after watching the memory in the gorilla mirror. Then they started interrogating but Yi Yang never once said anything. Hou in turn revealed everything and admitted he started being with Yi Yang the first year after Jing went missing, and by the fourth year they had slept together. Hou pinned all the blame on Yi Yang, saying she was unable to stand the loneliness and seduced him.
Hou said this confession privately the first time, and the second time said it publicly before all the elders and Yi Yang. She still said not a word and simply stared at Hou. She just kept staring and staring at Hou like she never saw him before until now. When the elders asked her if “What Hou said is true?”, she still said nothing. But her bright eyes gradually dimmed like a room candle being extinguished leaving only pitch black darkness.
Because Yi Yang didn’t say anything, the elders decided that what Hou said was the truth.
Men would always be forgiven more easily when it came to cheating and Hou was still of the Tu Shan clan bloodline. All the elders unleashed their rage on Yi Yang, hating this woman for enjoying the glory and power of the Tu Shan clan but doing something to shame them. They hated that she toyed with everyone. The elders summoned her father the Fang Fang family head and told him about what his daughter had done. The Fang Feng family head was enraged and shamed and agreed with the Tu Shan clan elders: secretly execute Yi Yang so that his daughter’s shame would not be made public and affect the Fang Feng family. The Fang Feng family head didn’t not mind using the most cruel punishment on his own daughter.
Yi Yang listened as her father and the Tu Shan clan elders discussed how to execute her. If it wasn’t for Jing refusing to agree with their various suggestions, Yi Yang would already be tortured to death. Since the interrogation started, Yi Yang suddenly burst out laughing and everyone just stared at her in shock. Her laughter grew louder and louder until she was curled in a ball on the floor rolling around in laughter.
The elders thought Yi Yang had gone crazy and ordered the guards to take her away.
Jing went to the room she was being kept and asked her “Do you want to go back to the Fang Feng family? You still have your mother there.”
Yi Yang hadn’t spoken in more than a month and this was the first time she had any reaction “That’s not my home anymore! If it wasn’t being worried about Zhen Er and leaving him behind, death is my most fitting end.”
“I understand.” Jing turned to leave.
Yi Yang asked “Why? You ought to hate me the most.”
Jing stood at the door and turned back to look at Yi Yang.
He was refined and lofty while she was shamed and dirty, but his eyes on her showed no disgust. Yi Yang said “In the past, I never knew how Hou felt around you but now I do. I did so much wrong towards you and you have more right than any to punish me, but I don’t see a shred of hate in your eyes. Why don’t you agree to the tortures suggested for me?”
“You are already enduring the cruelest torture of all.”
Yi Yang was stunned and then agreed “Yes! I am being tortured by the world’s coldest cruelest punishment.”
Jing said “No matter what my brother said, I’ve always believed that you did nothing wrong by falling in love with him. But it was wrong when you killed sister-in-law to conceal it. Do you still remember her?”
Yi Yang murmured “Hou’s wife, of course I still remember!”
“My mother’s actions have shown me that hate will never end so killing you is a punishment to release anger but I don’t want us to incur another cycle of vengeance and let Zhen Er become the next Hou.”
Yi Yang stared at Jing and under the sunlight his features were clearly illuminated. He looked so much like Hou but without the brash smirk and instead there was a clear placid gentleness. This was the first time that Yi Yang clearly saw what Jing looked like and she smiled “I used to think you were weak and useless but today I realized that hate does not need intelligence but is the gut reaction of someone who is hurt. To forgive requires true intelligence and strength of character. Unfortunately I can’t do it which is why it was actually me who couldn’t match up to you! I still like an eye for an eye which is why I’m the perfect match for Hou!”
Jing said as the door closed “Until you can take care of Zhen Er, I will raise him well.”
The second day, Jing continued to argue with the elders about the method of punishment for Yi Yang. She was kneeling on the ground and suddenly raised her head “I agree to use my essential soul blood to feed to the Tu Shan clan god in worship.”
The elders were stunned into silence and look positively ecstatic. According to ancient legend, the nine-tailed fox was a godly creature like the phoenix, but it was also a vicious beast that can devour beings. The Tu Shan clan’s god was an ancient ancestor’s spiritual essence keeping watch over its descendants, and since Yi Yang was a goddess, her blood to feed to the clan god would be precious and greatly beneficial to the Tu Shan clan.
Jing objected but Yi Yang stared at him and said “Please agree, clan leader!”
Jing said “You are not a Tu Shan clan member and once the clan god samples your blood, it will greedily drink its fill and not restrain itself. You will suffer unbearable pain…..”
Yi Yang bowed her head loudly on the ground “This is my deserved punishment. Please agree, clan leader!”
The clan elder said “This is a good way, to let Fang Feng Yi Yang use her body to cleanse away her sins.”
The elders all discussed while Jing refused to agree. Yi Yang kept bowing her head until finally Jing agreed.
Yi Yang’s body shook and then her head remained on the ground in a bow and she never came back up until she was taken away by the guards.
The Fang Feng family head left Qing Qiu and returned North to Fang Feng Canyon. Soon word spread that the Tu Shan clan leader’s wife Fang Feng Yi Yang was greatly ill and moved to a private hidden residence in the Tu Shan mountains to recuperate.
The Tu Shan clan kept the news on lock down so the rumor was that Fang Feng Yi Yang got a deadly contagious disease that ate away at her spiritual essence and dried up her skin until she resembled a human mummy.
Xiao Yao sighed at the Tu Shan clan purposely spreading that rumor which fit since Yi Yang was using her essential soul blood to feed the clan god and she would wither away and might even go crazy enduring the pain.
Months later, Tu Shan Hou went to live in Gao Xing ostensibly to run the Tu Shan businesses there but really he was banished and the clan elders decreed that he would never to set foot in the Middle Plains for the rest of his life. But he could live freely in Gao Xing and enjoy the trappings of being the eldest son of the Tu Shan clan. Compared to Yi Yang’s punishment, Hou got off light.
Xiao Yao knew Jing wanted to allow Hou and Yi Yang to be together but Hou tossed Yi Yang under the bus to save his own hide and since Yi Yang said nothing to refute it, she was saddled with all the blame.
It wasn’t until a half year later that everything settled down.
The first snow arrived in Xiao Yue Summit and Xiao Yao stood in front of the wooden hut and watched Jing dressed in all blue walk towards her. He stood before her and brushed the snow flakes off her cape with a smile “Xiao Yao, I’m here.”
Xiao Yao felt her nose twitch, from Gao Xing’s Dragon Bone Prison to today’s Xiao Yue Summit, this simple “I’m here” took over seventy years between them. In that moment, all the daily sadness and nightly pain, they endured it all until finally he was standing openly before her.
Jing opened his palm and on it was the fish amethyst. He put it around her neck and said “This time it’s not payment for medical treatment.”
Xiao Yao smiled and tucked it safely away inside her robe.
Xiao Yao took out the fish ruby and handed it to Jing “This is rare treasure but Hou didn’t know how to prize it and Yi Yang doesn’t want it now either.”
Jing sighed and he summoned his spiritual powers until the red orb glowed in his hands and the wind carried all the red dots into the air like a dance of red fireflies around them.
Jing and Xiao Yao watched the red flickering dots slowly fade away until it disappeared from the air.
Jing adjusted Xiao Yao’s cape “Careful not to catch a cold, let’s go inside!”
Xiao Yao smiled and took Jing’s hand before walking inside together.