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Liu Shan Men Divided in Three - Caught Red-Handed
Jin w.a.n.gsun's whereabouts were unknown; however, his family slave, Hu, offered Golden Crow Moon Eater to the imperial court, but the Emperor gave it back to him as a reward. That marked the end of the incident.
Hu then took the sabre back to Gold and Silver Sect with the imperial court backing him. Gold and Silver Sect's disaster had only just begun.
After the incident, I locked myself in the room for utility room, because Su Xiao stayed in my room for two entire days, refusing to step outside.
There were lots of things about the incident that I felt were strangely connected. The contrivance commenced the moment Jin w.a.n.gsun set foot in the capital. Jingan ensnared Jin w.a.n.gsun, Night Fortress, Gold and Silver Sect, His Majesty and… me in her convoluted trap.
From beginning to end, Jingan only fanned the flames - the flames being Jin w.a.n.gsun - leading to him making arrogant decisions that ultimately led to his own demise. She didn't have a hand in any other part of the scheme. We all danced in the palm of her hand. Hu was her ally from the very beginning. For all we knew, she could've led Huo Qing'er by the nose, too. She played the imperial court and the Seven Champion White Princes like a fiddle without any cost to herself. As a tactician, she was scary skilled. What bemused me more than anything was how she benefited from the results. She concocted one ma.s.sive plan, but her goal was shrouded in mystery to me. I couldn't fathom how Jin w.a.n.gsun's downfall benefitted her.
I spent two days deliberating and deliberating. On the first day, I thought about Jin w.a.n.gsun, who probably died tragically… which rendered me melancholic. On day two, I recalled the lovely smile Jingan left me with when she departed… which rendered me disappointed and heartbroken. On day three… Dongpo Restaurant had their end of year half-price sale, which rendered me hungry.
There was no compelling reason for me to not forsake the sorrow and thinking to step outside and enter the ultimate battle. I recalled my aim in life when I wolfed down a succulent pork shoulder at the taste-testing zone outside. My goal was to kick back and relax for the rest of my life. Accordingly, it was in my best interest to keep my distance from Jingan, the Seven Champion White Princes, North, East, South, West and everything in between. I could step on their tails another day, but for the meantime, I needed to get out of the crossfires.
I planned to enjoy my life of retirement to its fullest for the day. I needed to make a trip to Eight Deities Tavern a bit later for a special event.
After being promoted to Seventh Rank Warrior, I kept buying makeup products; I bought more than women. Sometimes, I used my salary to give myself some love.
As I packed, I occasionally glanced up to the roof; I couldn't stop thinking about the imperial family's beauty. I wondered how she was doing.
As for my marriage to Princess Hongzhuang, it went to the bin, as Jin w.a.n.gsun and I both failed the third test, resulting in a disqualification for both of us. The matter was swept under the rug thanks to Jin w.a.n.gsun's wild ideas. I was convinced the Emperor did it on purpose. He wouldn't marry his Princess to someone like me. Not that I was complaining that he called it off.
The man selling fish would give me a smile when I went to buy groceries as a fuma candidate. I could also have biscuits by the office doors for breakfast if I liked. However, Jingan, alone, was enough of a headache, so I couldn't imagine the two sisters together. If the Emperor found out I, the Demon Sect's Lord San Shen, married two of his Princesses, he'd send the entire kingdom's military after me!
The ending was perfect for me and Princess Hongzhuang. Having said that… I had a feeling Princess Hongzhuang already figured out my ident.i.ty. I left the office at the same time as her on the day I flew into a fit of rage and sliced the boat in two. I left her behind, as I was in a hurry. That said, if she caught up and watched me get on the boat… I remember I did all the makeup and washed off my hair dye. Unfortunately, I didn't change my clothes.
I didn't see Princess Hongzhuang after the debacle on the boat. More precisely, , I guess , she didn't want to see me. She suddenly left a letter behind and returned to the palace. I was focused on Young s.h.i.+yi and the compet.i.tion at the time. Therefore, I didn't pay attention to Princess Hongzhuang's departure. When I thought back on it, I realised her reaction was rather bizarre.
I was under the impression Princess Hongzhuang and I were on decent terms. We did share a room for several days, after all. I never met her again after. Well… I was only a mere constable; it'd be unrealistic for a Princess to come and hang out with me. Man, and here I remembered she liked spicy foods. I was going to invite her to the new hot pot restaurant.
"Ming Feizhen," suddenly called somebody.
"Huh? Who's calling?"
I looked up but didn't see anybody. There was n.o.body at the door, either. The voice was clear enough for me to tell it was a girl.
"Wait. It sounds familiar…" I thought.
"Is that you, Your Highness?"
"It is. Stop looking. It's not as if you'd find me…"
I stepped outside the room and looked side to side. I headed to a rockery in the flower garden.
"Eh?! How did you know I was here? W-Wait! Stay back!"
I stopped in my tracks. Princess Hongzhung was evidently on edge and nervous despite her best efforts to put on a tough front. She acted as though she couldn't maintain her demeanours if I was too close. I stopped behind the rockery.
"I'm returning to Emei," stated Princess Hongzhunag. "We are acquainted, so I decided to bid you goodbye after considering it. My s.h.i.+fu summoned me. I probably won't be back for several months. Do… you have anything to say?"
"You are leaving, Your Highness? Your subject is very grateful you took the time to drop by and bid farewell," I said. Touching my head, I added, "But how come your subject cannot approach y"
"Just no!" brayed Princess Hongzhuang. "I don't want to see you."
She was supposed to sound enraged and intimidating, but I found her cute.
"If you say so." I smiled helplessly: "Have a safe trip."
We fell into a silence. She didn't say a word, while I feigned ignorance. I couldn't just outright ask, "Hey, you realise I'm Lord San Shen, don't you?" How would that be any different to exposing myself?
Princess Hongzhuang took a few breaths: "I'll be leaving now. You don't need to see me off. You've taken care of me a lot over the last few days. I yell at you every day, but I don't actually hate you."
Princess Hongzhuang leapt off the rockery and onto the roof. As she peered into the distance, I caught sight of a tender look from a side view of her face.
"Ming Feizhen… thank for taking care of me, and thank you…" Princess Hongzhuang lowered her volume: "For saving me that day."
"Eh?! What's that supposed to mean?!" was the first thought that came to mind.
Princess Hongzhuang turned and left after she said that. I intended to chase after her using qinggong, but… I figured that'd be the equivalent of exposing myself. While I was wrestling with my options, she vanished out of sight. Meanwhile, I was left pondering, "When she said… I saved her that day, can I safely a.s.sume she meant that night when I rescued her from Jia Yunfeng's grasp…? So, she does know?"
I was glad and consoled Princess Hongzhuang didn't reveal my ident.i.ty. I decided I had to look for a chance to repay her for keeping my ident.i.ty a secret.
"My, my, it's broad daylight, and here we have someone playing out Farewell. How toxic on the eyes."
I spun around to see Young s.h.i.+yi's mesmerising, yet mischievous, smile, though she covered her mouth with her wide sleeves. Her gaze evoked a sense of unease in me.
I panicked and wondered, "When the heck did she get here?!"
"Y-Young s.h.i.+yi, I-I didn't do anything!"
"Yeah, did I accuse you of anything?"
"I-I didn't bid no farewells."
"Hmm? Did I ever say it was you?"
Young s.h.i.+yi's signature ambiguous smile she wore when messing around was blatant. All that was missing was the line, "Oh, wow, your mistress has come knocking now, too."
My relations.h.i.+p with Young s.h.i.+yi entered an abstruse status. I didn't have a retort, either, so I just kept silent. Needless to say, she found that even more amusing. She continued teasing me about it, while I had no come backs… She eventually got serious: "Feizhen, I have something to speak with you about. Let's speak inside the room."
"Huh?" I exclaimed. I shook my head vigorously: "I don't have time. I must attend to big and important national affairs. I can't waste time!"
Deciphered version: "I have to go to Eight Deities Tavern for the special in a moment. Life will be miserable if I miss out!"
"Shut it. It'll only take a while," said Young s.h.i.+yi, looking concerned. "I need to speak to you about 'The Six Dragons Shall Seal the Nation' matter."
*Farewell - Ming Suwen is referencing the play t.i.tled "Farewell", which is a romance story between leads Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo.