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Chapter 7 (Part 2)
Shang Guan Jing is quite happy with her life recently. Firstly, Feng Jin has gotten visibly better after their marriage. Even if she has married hastily, even if she does not love him, they respect each other, they enjoy the other’s company, and that is enough. She has done the right thing and she is genuinely happy to be able to relieve him from suffering.
Secondly, she is pleased she can help improve the life of the villagers. She has been coaching martial arts for the last two months and the villagers have grown to accept her. Compared to the time she first arrived in Nan Man, more will talk to her and some will even walk home with her after class.
Today, she has followed Feng Jin into the forest to gather herbs and she tells him about her recent encounter with the family who lives up the mountain. These are the family members of the old granny and the family whom talk to her most often. “There is this middle-age couple. The woman is very pretty and has a soft, sweet voice. She looks so gentle and fragile that I doubt I can ever raise my voice in her presence. And her husband is tall, lanky with sharp features…. wait a minute, that man resembles you! Especially when both of you do not like to tie your hair in a knot and prefer to wear the same kind of loose robes. But his are printed robes while yours are plain white robes.” Pause. “I like you in plain robes.”
“So meaning you only like my clothes and not the person wearing them?”
She is a little embarrassed and rebuffs him quickly. If she does not like him, she would not have married him. Seeing that she is shy, Feng Jin did not tease her further and concentrates on rubbing her calf. “Other than the couple, who else have you met?”
She has sprained her leg while helping him to pick some flowers growing high up in a tree and Shang Guan Jing answers truthfully while he tends to her leg. “The one whom I met most frequently is the old granny whom I mentioned to you the other time. There is also a woman around my age, 2 young men in their late teens, a strong-bodied huntsman, and 3 elderly folks who can be rather cranky at times. Ah, there is also a 10-year old boy called Nineteen. He is very cute but can be a little temperamental. You can talk to him but he only answers back when he feels like it. But even though he seems awkward around me, he would follow me around for a long time.”
His squints. “Is that so? These folks are really enthusiastic…”
“Huh? What did you say?”
“Nothing. With what we have gathered so far including the ‘red phoenix tail’, I will be able to concoct some pills. If we do not want to have a baby so soon, we can each take a pill before bedtime.”
Shang Guan Jing has never thought about having children but now that she is married, it should only be a matter of time before they have a child? After Feng Jin is done massaging her leg, he wants to continue foraging for herbs. She wants to follow him but he is insistent that she should stay put and let him complete the task alone.
She can obey him, if it is what he wants, which is why she is now sitting alone in a clearing, with only the sounds of forest for company. The tranquility is enjoyable and she took out some food that the servants have prepared. As she munches on the food, she wonders idly if she should learn to cook so that she can cook something for her husband one day.
She hears a rustling sound and thinking that Feng Jin has returned, she turns around with a smile. But it is not Feng Jin and is someone who appearance is enough to stun her immobility. “Er Shi Ge…”
Bo Lan Zhou smiles and greets her warmly like old times. “Jing! I have searched such a long time for you. A really long time.”
Uncontrollably, her eyes filled with tears even as she breaks into her habitual smile when around him.
“I know I have let you down and hurt you. Even if I were to die nine more times, it would not be enough to atone for my mistake.” He walks up to her and brushes her tears away gently. “Can you follow me back? Even though Da Shi Jie has injured you, she is very remorseful after the incident. Shall we go back and start all over again? We all grew up together and I believe that there is nothing we cannot sort out so long as we put our minds to it.”
“Yes, back to Yu Ling peak. I know you are very good to me and likewise, I care for you deeply in my heart. Both Shi Jie and you are the nicest person to me on this earth. Won’t it be wonderful if we can all live together, just like how we have always been there for each other?”
Although her face is still smiling, Shang Guan Jing can only feel grief. “What is there to go back to?”
“Back to a live a good life of course.” Seeing more tears, Bo Lan Zhou reaches out to brush them away from her pale face. “You have teacher’s token and if you can hand it over, we will be able to open the cave and access the treasures inside.”
“I don’t want the treasure! I only want Teacher to be well; for Xiao Shi Mei to be well.” Finally getting a grip on herself, she turns her face away to avoid further contact with him. As she moves back a step she notices his sword and pales even more. “That sword… it belongs to Fourth Shi Mei. What have you done to her?!”
“Well, Xue Ying should not have meddled in our business since she has married and settled down in the Western Dessert. But she picked a quarrel with us the moment she came back and kept asking for your whereabouts. She behaved as if we have harmed you.”
He reaches out and catch hold of her hand. “Please come back with us and you will be able to see Fourth Shi Mei. You have always been close to her and you would not want her to worry unnecessarily right? Or suffer?”
Shang Guan Jing feels a chill on her back and shakes free from him. Her hand has already closed over the hilt of her sword when a cold voice rings out from the shadows. “Why are you wasting your breathe on her! Shang Guan Jing, let me see how close you are to him!”
Da Shi Jie!
And Feng Jin is standing right behind her.