After dinner, Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo retreat to their respective rooms to rest.
The night slowly thickens and a half-moon quietly creeps above the treetops, shining light upon the man in pale blue robe who is standing in the courtyard.
Gong Sang Mo stands with one hand in his back, staring at Yun Qian Yu’s room.
After standing silently for a while, he makes his way towards the room.
After only a couple of steps, a white silhouette appears in front of him. An old man with white hair and beard.
“It is late, why hasn’t Xian Wang gone to rest?” the First Elder asks, unkindly.
Gong Sang Mo laughs warmly, “I cannot sleep. I want to play chess with Yu Er.”
The First Elder raises his eyebrows, “Mistress has went to bed. Why not have this old head play with you?”
“Really?” Gong Sang Mo rubs his nose, before saying, “Why not? Please, First Elder.”
The First Elder is momentarily stunned upon seeing how easy Gong Sang Mo is giving in. Then, he frowns; why does he feel like he has fallen into a trap?
Gong Sang Mo smiles; he has been waiting for this old man!
Yun Qian Yu told him that the First Elder likes a good game of chess. He will bring a set of chessboard with him wherever he goes. He would even play against himself when there is no one to play with him.
Both of them walk towards the First Elder’s room.
Yun Qian Yu sits cross-legged by the window. When she hears the sound of their footsteps walking away, she sighs in relief. No wonder Gong Sang Mo asked her what the First Elder likes during dinner; it was so that he could dig this pit!
Based on the First Elder’s chess skills, their set will not end easily.
She takes off her outer garments and heads to bed.
Feng Ran who is watching guard outside is very dissatisfied! The First Elder is being taken care of by Gong Sang Mo way too easily!
He shakes his head when he thinks of the Yun Valley’s Elders. From the look of it, they will not hold long against Gong Sang Mo’s craftiness. What is the point of watching when he can already tell what the outcome is? Might as well go to bed.
Feng Ran returns to his room, depressed.
In the middle of the night, Yun Qian Yu, who has been sleeping very lightly to begin with, is awoken by some movement on her bed.
“You are back?”
“En, did I wake you?”
Gong Sang Mo did not expect the First Elder to be so good in chess. He is completely overzealous when it comes to chess. Gong Sang Mo had to use a particularly difficult move that he learned from his own teacher to subdue the old man.
“No, I haven’t really been sleeping,” whispers Yun Qian Yu before turning her body around and hugging his arm, burying her face on his shoulder.
Gong Sang Mo smiles as he pulls her towards him and lets her rest her head on his chest, “Sleep.”
The next morning, the First Elder paces through the courtyard, his eyes on Gong Sang Mo’s chamber.
At this moment, Gong Sang Mo is sleeping soundly inside Yun Qian Yu’s room.
Chen Xiang, who wakes up early, finds the First Elder’s demeanor really weird, “Why are you up so early, First Elder?”
The First Elder wants to snap at her; what early? He did not sleep the entire night in order to figure out the right move in his chess game. In the end, he still could not come up with any. How embarrassing. He returns to his own room in defeat.
Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo are awoken by the sound of Chen Xiang’s conversation with the First Elder. She looks at the smiling Gong Sang Mo before saying, “The First Elder will not be able to eat or sleep if he does not managed to break the move.”
“Alright, I will help him figure out the way later.” Gong Sang Mo gets up and puts on his outer robe. He knows that Yun Qian Yu is very fond of the First Elder and cannot bear to see him in such a manner. If this goes on, his aged body will not be able to take it.
Yun Qian Yu gets up too.
Chen Xiang boils some water and brings it into the room for the two of them to use.
After cleaning themselves, Gong Sang Mo casually helps Yun Qian Yu comb her hair. He has been the one doing her hair these past few days. He loves the feeling of her silky strands on his hands.
Yun Qian Yu is very consistent with her hairdo; which makes it a lot easier for him. It is the usual little braids style. He braids her hair like a pro, to the point where even Yu Nuo is surprised that the famous God of War could have such clever hands. This is a sight that the entire kingdom could never even imagine.
Yun Qian Yu is already used to seeing Gong Sang Mo doing her hair from the mirror. A sense of satisfaction and fulfilment fills her heart. How blissful would it be to see his reflection in the mirror, doing her hair, for the rest of her life?
After the two of them are finished preparing themselves, Yu Nuo and Ying Yu serves them breakfast.
Both of them takes their seat and begins eating breakfast. Yun Qian Yu looks at the three maids, “Where is Man Er?”
Chen Xiang laughs, “She has been cooped up inside a carriage for so long, now that we don’t need to set forth so early, she ran off to practice martial arts.”
Yun Qian Yu understands Man Er’s personality. She is unrestrained in nature and hates the feeling of being constrained. Even back in Mount Feng Yun, she would wake up early every morning to practice martial arts. After they returned to the Yun Valley, she acted like a fish who had been released back into the ocean. Ever since they started living in the imperial palace however, she became figuratively imprisoned once more. And then, even when they have the chance to leave the palace, she had to be cooped up inside a carriage. Now that she is free for the day, she ought to relish the freedom the best way she can; through practice.
But still, this is an unfamiliar ground and that brat still dares to run around everywhere.
Chen Xiang understands Yun Qian Yu’s worry. She smiles, “Don’t worry, Mistress. Feng Ran already ordered some Yun Guards to trail after her, nothing will happen.”
Yun Qian Yu knows that Feng Ran is very careful when managing things, so she calms down a little.
After breakfast, Gong Sang Mo heads over to the First Elder’s room to help him break the tricky formation.
Yun Qian Yu on the other hand, brings Chen Xiang and Yu Nuo with her to the Literary Hall, and then, to the Medicinal Hall to survey the academy. Then, she takes them to the front entrance.
Since the sky was already dark when they arrived yesterday, she did not manage to take a good look upon the Yun Manor’s entrance. She discovers a wooden board hung next to the entrance, stating the rules of the Literary Hall and the Medicinal Hall.
The first one; both Halls will only accept poor people who cannot afford to study.
Second of all, the academy is only for learning. There will be no treatment for outsiders.
Third of all, the students are not allowed to make their own medical diagnosis, without the supervision of their teachers.
The fourth rule states that after leaving the academy, the former students are to completely cut ties with the academy. They are not to claim relations with the academy or the Yun Valley.
Yun Qian Yu nods in agreement. The academy does not need people to sing praises to them; the best possible situation is to have no problem at all.
Yun Qian Yu steps out of the residence and strolls through the city of Jing Zhou.
Since the residence is located at the main street, she does not need to walk very far to reach the bustling heart of the city.
This is her second time strolling around in the streets of this kingdom; the first time being that time when she bought those rouges. Since she promised to bring Wen Ling Shan gifts, she begins to carefully eyes the items on display on various shops.
Jing Zhou is located in the north of the kingdom, the city where a lot of merchants live, so there are a lot of exotic items sold here.
Yun Qian Yu hears a familiar voice calling her name. She frowns lightly before turning around to face the owner of that voice.
It is indeed Ding Hai Wang, Ji Shu Liu!
Are they that close though? For him to be calling her by the name.
Ji Shu Liu is wearing a silver robe. Since the weather has gotten chilly, his robe is layered with thick fur. He pairs his robe with a set of silver headgear, looking handsome like an immortal. He smiles as he looks at Yun Qian Yu.
A man dressed in black and clutching a sword stands behind him, clearly a guard of his.
“Ding Hai Wang!”
“Why is Qian Yu so indifferent? I thought we are already considered as friends? Seems like I ran off to Jing Zhou to wait for you in vain,” Ji Shu Liu looks at her with an aggrieved expression.
Yun Qian Yu’s usually cold face darkens a little. They have only met once, how could that count as friendship? If they are friends, he would not have purposely tried to make things hard for her during the banquet.
Yun Qian Yu looks at him indifferently before turning around and strolling away.
Ji Shu Liu wordlessly follows along, “Petty! I was only teasing you back then, at the banquet! Are you really angry? Didn’t I already give you all the Xiang Yun Lings there is? If I really have any ill-intention towards you, I would have present you all three Xiang Yun Lings when I asked you to cure my poison back then.”
Yun Qian Yu stops in her steps before turning to him, “If it were not for that, do you think you can still stand here, talking to me? Do you think you can bully the owner of the Yun Valley?”
Ji Shu Liu blinks, watching the way her lashes flutter. His heart suddenly feels itchy. His eyes darken. He is becoming surer and surer of his own feelings now.
After saying that, Yun Qian Yu continues searching for gifts for Wen Ling Shan.
“Why don’t you let me buy something for you then? As a way to atone for my mistake?” From the way Yun Qian Yu looks around, he can tell that she is looking to buy something.
Yun Qian Yu ignores him; it is not as though she does not have any money, why should she let him buy things for her? Besides, will buying her a gift be enough to make up for his misdeed?
San Qiu who has been quietly following Yun Qian Yu immediately identifies Ding Hai Wang as his master’s love rival. He orders another guard to inform Gong Sang Mo while he continues to secretly follow them.
Yun Qian Yu ignores Ji Shu Liu as she walks into an ornament store to find a suitable gift for Wen Ling Shan. She cannot find any. Perhaps, it is because she does not like ornaments herself.
Just as they are about to leave, her eyes fall on a silver bracelet. The bracelet is simple in appearance, but the little bell on it gives it a very attractive aura.
When she imagines the bracelet around Wen Ling Shan’s wrist, ringing everywhere as she walks, Yun Qian Yu smiles.
Ji Shu Liu thought that Yun Qian Yu wants the bracelet for herself. He takes out a wad of cash, intending to buy it for her.
“What a coincidence!” a pale blue figure walks into the shop.
Ji Shu Liu looks at Gong Sang Mo, his eyebrows raised, “This is not a coincidence. I specifically came to Jing Zhou to see Qian Yu!”
Gong Sang Mo does not seem upset at all. He simply smiles before walking over to Yun Qian Yu. When he sees the bracelet that she is holding, he asks her, “You like this?”
“En. Pretty, right?” asks Yun Qian Yu.
“Pretty. Very special as well.”
Ji Shu Liu hands the cash to the shop owner, “How much does that bracelet cost?”
The shopkeeper smiles when he sees the money that Ji Shu Liu is holding, “50 liang of silver. This bracelet has very detailed patterns and took a long time to be made.”
Ji Shu Liu stuffs 50 liang of silver on the man’s hands.
The shopkeeper who is preparing to wrap the bracelet is very happy when Ji Shu Liu did not bother to bargain. He has made a profit! Profit!
Yun Qian Yu who is instructing Chen Xiang to fork out the money is stopped by Gong Sang Mo. Someone has paid for it for them.
She follows where Gong Sang Mo is looking and finds Ji Shu Liu paying the shopkeeper for the bracelet.
“I am buying this for a friend, how could I possibly let you pay it for me?” Yun Qian Yu frowns at him.
Ji Shu Liu is taken aback. No wonder Gong Sang Mo did not bother to compete with him, because he knew the bracelet is intended for someone else. Does he know her that well as to figure out that she did not want it for herself with just one look?
“It’s alright, I just want to atone for my mistake. As long as Qian Yu understands, it’s fine,” says Ji Shu Liu casually.
Gong Sang Mo smiles, “Someone is willingly paying for the gift, what are you hesitating for?”
After saying that, he hands the bracelet to San Qiu who is standing behind him. “I saw a shop selling foreign items on the way here. Let’s give it a look and see if there is anything that you want.”
“Alright! I have been meaning to find gifts for Yi Zhi and Yu Jian as well,” says Yun Qian Yu pleasantly.
The two of them walk out while holding hands.
Ji Shu Liu stares at the intertwining hands, his eyes dimming. Is he too late? If he had not left after she cured him back then, would he have a chance?
He walks out with a darkened face.
The shopkeeper who is a witness to this little scene can only shake his head as he looks at Ji Shu Liu’s retreating back. Such a handsome man, he should try giving his heart to someone else. Although that girl is pretty like a celestial being, she cannot possibly be divided into two for the two men! Beauties really court troubles, ah!
Yun Qian Yu, on the other hand, has no idea that she has been branded as a beauty who causes trouble. She has began her shopping spree. San Qiu alone is no longer enough to carry her entire haul, so two other guards have to be summoned to help him.
Gong Sang Mo follows her with a warm look on his face. If Yun Qian Yu as much as look at one item a second too long, he would instruct San Qiu to buy it for her.
After they arrive at the end of the road, Yun Qian Yu turns around only to see that big box that is currently holding all of the things that she bought, and at the same time, taking in the miserable expressions on the guards’ faces.
The guards really does not know what to say. They are hidden guards, and yet have been degraded to servant boys. From the way other people look at them, they could tell that they are not looking particularly good right now.
“I think I bought a little too much,” says Yun Qian Yu ponderingly.
“Not really. We can just ask them to take these back to the capital first,” offers Gong Sang Mo.
He waves his arm at the two guards, who promptly disappears faster than one can blink.
“Hungry?” Gong Sang Mo looks at the sun that is currently at the very top of their heads.
“A little,” she has been out the entire morning, she does feel a little hungry.
“I already asked San Qiu to make a reservation at a restaurant, let’s go to eat first,” suggests Gong Sang Mo.
“Alright,” agrees Yun Qian Yu easily.
“Why don’t you join us, Brother Ji?” says Gong Sang Mo as he turns around. Ji Shu Liu will join them even without the invitation anyway.
Ji Sh Liu smiles at Gong Sang Mo before nodding, “It will be too rude of me if I decline.”
The little group then make their way to the restaurant that San Qiu has reserved.
The restaurant is the biggest that Jing Zhou has to offer. There is the public dining area downstairs, and private little eating rooms upstairs that gives the diners a good view of the busy streets as well as the first floor below.
Gong Sang Mo orders the restaurant’s best wine and shares a drink with Ji Shu Liu. They have never had the chance to sit together over a meal like this.
Ji Shu Liu looks at the girl in front of Gong Sang Mo, who looks as though she is very clueless about how the world works. Then, he looks at Gong Sang Mo who serves the said girl with his best ability, even over the littlest things. For the first time in his life, Ji Shu Liu feels helpless. It is as though the two of them are inside their own private bubble that no one else can enter. He knows he has no chance.
However, his heart has taken a liking on her. What should he do?
As Yun Qian Yu eats, she looks at their cups of wine.
Both Ji Shu Liu and Gong Sang Mo notice that. Gong Sang Mo hands her his cup, “Would you like a taste?”
Yun Qian Yu blinks her pretty eyes at that cup before she takes it from him.
“It is very spicy, are you sure you want to take a sip?” asks Ji Shu Liu as he looks at the cup that she is holding, the one that Gong Sang Mo has drank from; his heart turns sour.
Yun Qian Yu hesitates for a moment, looking at Gong Sang Mo.
“Give it a little taste. If you don’t like it, spit it back out,” suggests Gong Sang Mo, not having the heart to stop her when he sees how much she wants to try it.
Yun Qian Yu nods before taking a small sip. Her face turns rigid for a moment as she closes her lips, her throat remaining still.
Seeing the look on her face, Ji Shu Liu immediately picks up an empty bowl and puts it near her lips, “If you don’t like it, spit it out.”
Gong Sang Mo agrees with him, “Spit it out.”
She looks at them before shaking her head, slowly swallowing the wine and sighing afterwards. “No wonder you men like drinking so much. They taste so good!” says Yun Qian Yu in regret as she practically drinks the remaining wine inside the cup in one go.
Both men look at her, stunned. She likes drinking?
By the time they regain their minds, Yun Qian Yu is already looking at the wine jar in front of Ji Shu Liu longingly.
Ji Shu Liu cannot bear to see her in that manner and quickly gives her the jar.
She pours herself another cup, full to the brim. Then, she drinks the wine, relishing it with her eyes closed.
The corner of Gong Sang Mo’s lips twitches as he softly says, “Do you feel faint, Yu Er? Does your legs feel weak?”
She shakes her head.
Gong Sang Mo swallows heavily before putting some dishes into her bowl, “Eat a little before drinking, Yu Er. Otherwise, you will get stomach ache.”
Yun Qian Yu listens to him, eating while occasionally drinking. Not long later, the wine jar is completely drained.
Gong Sang Mo and Ji Shu Liu exchange a look; she has drank so much and is still not drunk?
Yun Qian Yu looks like she has not drank enough, so Gong Sang Mo quickly says, “Yu Er, I buried 3 jars of plum wine in Mount San Xian. Would you like to drink them later?”
Yun Qian Yu quickly says, “Yes.”
“Then, can you stop drinking for today? It will not be good for your body,” suggests Gong Sang Mo.
“Alright.” Yun Qian Yu knows that there is no such thing are drinking enough wine. Only bad things will follow if one gets drunk.
Gong Sang Mo and Ji Shu Liu are relieved now. Both of them does not drink for the rest of the meal, lest they tempt Yun Qian Yu into joining them.
Once Yun Qian Yu is no longer distracted by the wine, she finally realizes that the restaurant is kind of noisy today.
Everyone is looking at one particular table.
Two men in their twenties are sitting there, drinking wine while talking about Jing Zhou’s famous Yun Residence.
“Brother Li, hasn’t your mother been ill for a long time and still hasn’t gotten well?”
“Correct. We have visited every famous phyicians in Jing Zhou and no one could cure her.”
“Have you tried the Yun Residence, Brother Li? They are connected to the Yun Valley. The owner of the Yun Valley is our kingdom’s princess, that means that the Yun Valley is also our kingdom’s. By right, we, the common people of Nan Lou Kingdom, have the rights to seek treatment from them.”
“But I heard that they do not receive patients over there.”
“They are currently serving Nan Lou Kingdom, I’m sure that rule no longer stands.”
“Are you sure they will accept patients?”
“Of course! I heard a lot of people already went to the Yun Residence to seek medical help.”
“Then, I will bring my mother to them!”
Once the man named Li left, the person who shares his table smiles smugly.
Other people who hears them begins calculating their plans to seek medical help as well.
Yun Qian Yu’s peerlessly beautiful face is icy as she looks at them sharply. How dare he try to harm the Yun Valley?
“Are there any Yun Guards around?”
“We are here, Mistress,” two white-robed guards appear inside their little room.
“Take that troublemaker to Feng Ran.”
She takes out the Yun Valley’s seal from her sleeves and hands it to one of them, “Give it to Feng Ran and tell him to invite the Prefectural Magistrate of Jing Zhou to the Yun Residence.”
With a wave of her arm, the two guards disappear.
She turns to Gong Sang Mo and Ji Shu Liu, “What do you two think the perpetrator’s motive is?”
Gong Sang Mo only smiles as he looks at Ji Shu Liu.
Ji Shu Liu raises his eyebrows, “Naturally to stop you from going to Mount San Xian. So that you won’t be able to recruit Su Huai Feng.”
Yun Qian Yu smiles prettily, “If they have to resort to this method, I am going to be even more confident about recruiting him.”
Gong Sang Mo smiles even wider at that.
Yun Qian Yu gets up and walks towards the door, “Let’s go and watch their fine acting.”
Gong Sang Mo and Ji Shu Liu get up to follow her.
Gong Sang Mo sends San Qiu a look, and San Qiu immediately leaves before them.
The three of them descends the stairs to the ground floor, where they attract a lot of admiring and jealous eyes.
They ignore those looks and follow the large wave of people who are now making their way towards the Yun Residence.