Qianye entered the main hall with calm steps and found the building to be completely empty. Before long, he saw a lady in traditional Chinese apparel walk out of the rear chamber and took her seat upon the phoenix chair.
Without waiting for Qianye to perform any ceremonies, the lady raised her hand and said, “This isn’t the imperial palace, so there’s no need to observe so many rules. Sit.” Her voice was fairly gentle and pleasing to the ears, but it was also suffused with an imposingness that disallowed all disobedience.
With that, Princess Gaoyi gestured toward a chair to the side. The flickering lights in the hall were reflected on her long, glistening nail cover as she waved her hand.
Qianye, after seeing this, felt a slight pain as though his eyes had been stabbed. In his daze, it felt as though the luminous origin lamps had conjured a layer of bloody hue. An odd notion emerged in his mind as he wondered if it were these hands that had held the blade that cut open his chest.
Princess Gaoyi took good care of her health and looks. At a glance, she didn’t even seem thirty years of age. Her countenance was like a painting, possessing a rare beauty as well as great temperament and grace. Even the gaze with which she observed Qianye was as gentle as water, and one simply couldn’t discern any other intention at all.
The more this was so, the more Qianye’s heart shook. Additionally, he had noticed that the princess’s skin was somewhat pale, and her face was suffused with undisguisable exhaustion.
Princess Gaoyi said slowly, “Qianye, I heard you took part in the bloody battle and earned no small amount of military contributions for our Zhao clan. I’m fairly curious about the situation under the Iron Curtain. Will you perhaps indulge me?”
Qianye calmed himself and said, “The Iron Curtain seems like nothing but a black cloud pressing down on our heads—one that refuses to disperse—but in truth, it’s an incomparably vast domain.”
As such, one asked while the other answered, and they chatted as though it were part of their daily lives.
Princess Gaoyi mostly asked Qianye about the phases of his life—where he had lived, about the local customs, and the people he had met. She asked whether he had built a family, and about how he had met Zhao Junhong, Zhao Jundu, and Zhao Yuying.
These were all minor details of his life. She made no mention at all about the truly important subjects like his cultivation arts, his rank, strength, and background. Naturally, she didn’t utter a single word about the matters of the past.
After chatting for a while, Princess Gaoyi suddenly spoke, “A good weapon is essential for the sons and husbands of the clan to achieve great things on the battlefield. I heard that you have a heavy sword that requires incorporation with Heavenly Dew Silver in order to become complete. It just so happened that I brought some with me from the imperial capital back in the day but have never found a use for them throughout the years. Using it here will be perfect. I’ll have someone send it over to you tomorrow. Although it’s not much, it should be barely enough for a single refinement. It goes without saying that it’ll be even better if you can supplement some more.”
“Thank you, Princess.” Qianye rose from his seat to express his gratitude, but a frosty intent emerged within his heart.
He believed that, with Zhao Weihuang’s strength, no one could’ve eavesdropped on their conversation. However, the matters instructed by Zhao Weihuang had already reached the princess’s ears in the blink of an eye. Apparently, she hadn’t loosened her grasp on the Duke Chengen Residence despite having lived in a side courtyard for many years.
Princess Gaoyi smiled faintly and waved her hand. “There’s no need to offer thanks for such a small matter. Junhong and Jundu have been missing you all this time. Although you missed the opportunity to meet the two brothers on your return this time, I’m sure they’ll be very happy.”
It was at this moment that the old man who had escorted Qianye here rushed into the hall. He approached the princess and said in a soft voice, “Princess, Young Miss is outside and wishes to meet you!”
Princess Gaoyi sighed. “Why is this child up so late? What does she want with me so urgently? I’m also quite tired now. I shall retire after a few words with her.”
At this point, Princess Gaoyi—intentionally or otherwise—cast a glance at Qianye. There wasn’t any meaning in this gaze, and it couldn’t be considered very sharp. However, Qianye was shaken and some cold sweat emerged on his palm. This wasn’t fear but an instinctive alarm in response to danger.
Princess Gaoyi didn’t retain him when Qianye rose and excused himself—she only sent some of her subordinates to accompany him. Qianye felt as though he had shed a heavy burden after stepping out of Lucid Calm Palace and let out a sudden sigh. He was unknowingly drenched in cold sweat once again.
Within Lucid Calm Palace, Princess Gaoyi sat straight with neither joy nor sorrow on her countenance. “Little Xi, why have you come here so late at night instead of resting? Don’t you know the condition of your own body?”
Zhao Ruoxi revealed an innocent smile and said coquettishly, “I was bored, so I’ve come to visit mother.”
Princess Gaoyi smiled spuriously. “Maybe you’re not here to see me, but to check if Lucid Calm Palace truly is a land of no return?”
Zhao Ruoxi was petrified and spoke with some effort, “You jest.”
Princess Gaoyi said indifferently, “You must know that I’m your mother. Do you think your little thoughts can escape my notice? Moreover, being close to the Red Spider Lily will drain your spiritual power. Don’t hide it in your skirt if there’s no need.”
Zhao Ruoxi’s expression changed and gradually became more obstinate instead. “Mother, you should know why I have it on me.”
Princess Gaoyi gazed at Zhao Ruoxi and sighed after a while. “What kind of major incident can there be in the Zhao clan residence that will require the Red Spider Lily?”
“That will be for the best. I’ll take my leave then.” Zhao Ruoxi thus performed a curtsey and left Lucid Calm Palace.
Princess Gaoyi sat on the phoenix seat for a long time, gazing at the tall ceramic floor-lamp rack which resembled a treasured tree. She muttered to herself after a long time, “Kids are always like that when they grow up. It’s the same for this one, and no different for the other.”
Qianye soon returned to Zhao Yuying’s home, a courtyard at the northeastern side of the Duke You Residence. There was only a porch between this place and the external wall. There was also a solitary door which made passage quite easy.
Qianye happened to see a number of doctors leaving upon his return to the Mountain Splitter Courtyard. Zhao Yuying required treatment at fixed intervals—not only had she suffered internal injuries, but even her origin vortex had been badly damaged. Such a condition required gradual recuperation and had to be made up for with painstaking effort.
Zhao Yuying was sitting beside the table with a bitter expression when Qianye entered the room, gazing at the dozen or so bowls on it. The vessels were filled with the medicines she needed to take, and it seemed they didn’t taste that good at all. Otherwise, this Zhao clan miss wouldn’t be looking so miserable.
Seeing Qianye, Zhao Yuying tossed him a letter and said, “It’s Jundu’s letter! Read it first while I deal with these things.”
Zhao Yuying picked up a bowl of medicine and finished it in one gulp as though she were calmly facing death itself. Her face shifted red and blue as the medicine went in her throat—it was an inexplicably brilliant expression. She then picked up the second one without waiting for the effects to die out.
Qianye couldn’t help but shake his head after witnessing this scene from the side. The gloominess in his heart was also reduced by quite a bit. He was startled to find a rather thick stack of letters as he opened the envelope and hence sat down on the sofa before reading through them in detail.
The letter started off with large segments of cultivation insights. Zhao Jundu knew he trained in the Combatant Formula, so he enumerated several Zhao clan arts that might be suitable for Qianye. He also said that Zhao Weihuang would personally help Qianye pick a cultivation art, but he still enumerated the pros and cons of each art in great detail.
Qianye wasn’t impatient at all even though there was no need for him to switch cultivation arts. He read through them carefully word by word.
In the letter, Zhao Jundu repeatedly warned Qianye that the Zhao clan’s Marrow Cleansing Pond was different from ordinary cultivation grounds. He explained how the great array under the Fortune Courtyard could compact one’s origin power, and that it could take Qianye’s origin power to new heights regardless of its purity, advising Qianye not to waste this opportunity no matter what.
Zhao Jundu had just advanced to the champion rank and even formed three vortices in one go. He listed, in great details, the process and matters to pay attention to during the advancement and even about the special situations one might encounter. Even though different arts had different ways of controlling the origin tides, there were still certain areas that were interconnected.
Qianye was deeply moved after reading the mail. The letter was pretty long—so long that it was even a bit long-winded. But Zhao Jundu was as cold as ice in Qianye’s impression, a person who could hardly be bothered to speak with ordinary people. It was a mystery how he had found the time to write such a long letter during the bloody battle.
Zhao Yuying had also finished her medicine by the time Qianye finished reading the letter. She immediately went over to the cabinet and fished out a bottle of wine before taking a big swig. This cleared her spirits and improved her countenance quite a bit.
Qianye was somewhat speechless as he watched her. Eventually, he said, “You should be prohibited from alcohol after taking these drugs, right?”
Zhao Yuying shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. It’s better for this mommy to die if she can’t drink even a mouthful of wine. What did Little Four write about? The letter is so thick. Let me see!”
Qianye passed the letter to Zhao Yuying who scanned it briefly while clicking her tongue. “I never expected Little Four to be so long-winded. He’s almost like a woman. Did the Marrow Cleansing Pond damage his brain?”
Qianye had never bought Zhao Yuying’s shocking words, and she was also used to his lack of response. She recalled something after criticizing Zhao Jundu and said, “Oh right, don’t hold back when you go into the Marrow Cleansing Pond the day after tomorrow. Just take in as much as you can. Origin Distillate is pretty hard to come by, and it’ll only be a waste if one doesn’t use it.”
Qianye felt that it was somewhat inappropriate. “Since the distillate is rare, shouldn’t I stop after advancing? Origin power will grow after gradual cultivation. Moreover, I’ll still need to consolidate my realm.”
Zhao Yuying glared at him and said, “Just use it when you’re allowed to. What are you babbling on about?! Don’t you know how wretched those old fogeys are? Song Zining’s contributions were actually enough to use the pond twice, but they refused adamantly, citing how the Marrow Cleansing Pond was too important to allow outsiders in. They finally allowed one usage after this mommy nearly burned their houses down. Even then, they still deducted Jundu’s points for this! Since those old men are so heartless, there’s no need for us to be polite with them. This mommy will teach you a lesson if we can’t earn back the capital!”
Facing a Zhao Yuying filled with killing intent, Qianye could only agree.
In truth, there was another reason for Zhao Yuying’s anger. The Zhao clan’s Marrow Cleansing pond wasn’t open to outsiders. She had listed Qianye as her subordinate at first, but that wasn’t enough to consider him a Zhao clan member. In the end, she could only alarm Zhao Jundu and have him register Qianye under his secondary residence. Only then did he gain the right to use the pond.
Qianye had just come back from meeting Zhao Weihuang. Zhao Yuying wasn’t quite adept at reading body language and couldn’t tell what was wrong with Qianye’s expression. However, she still held back from telling him about the struggle for his identity out of instinct.
Qianye refrained from going outdoors thereafter and only went to meet Zhao Weihuang one more time. He cultivated in the Mountain Splitter Courtyard day in and day out, adjusting his mind and body to their optimal states as he waited for the opening of the Marrow Cleansing Pond.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Looks like the advancement is just around the corner. Will it go off without a hitch?
TL: Legion ED: Moxie