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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
While she was crossing the Bridge of Helplessness, she was almost run into by an auntie hurrying home to avoid the snow. Just as the auntie was about to fall over, Xu Yourong extended a hand to support her.
It was only then that the auntie realized that there was a girl holding an umbrella on this snowy bridge. As she was saying her thanks, she saw the thin dress the girl was wearing and said in concern, "My lady is wearing so little—aren't you cold?"
Xu Yourong shook her head. Holding up the umbrella, she continued her walk through the snow.
As she walked from the Imperial Palace to the southern section of the city, she saw the familiar streetscapes from her childhood. When she crossed a stone bridge, she saw the overhanging eaves of her home and its walls that had clearly just been whitewashed.
Even she who so carefully guarded the serenity of her Dao heart could not help but feel a little disconcerted.
From the moment they knew that the diplomatic mission from the south had entered the capital, the middle gate of the Divine General of the East's estate had been opened wide. Without mentioning the crowd that had braved the snow to wait on the streets, just speaking of the stewards and subordinates of the Divine General's estate, even their eyes were about to turn green from anticipation.
Carrying the umbrella, Xu Yourong walked over. Under the eyes of the entire crowd, she walked into the Divine General of the East's estate.
No one was able to tell just how she had gotten in. Those stewards and subordinates who had busied themselves for dozens of days in preparation for this day were all stupefied. Just who was this person?
With a rustle, she folded her umbrella and then lightly knocked it against the gate of the estate, shaking the snow from the surface of the umbrella to the ground.
With a sob, Shuang'er shot through the gate. However, because she had been standing for quite a few hours, her two legs were rather sore. In her flustered state, when she arrived in front of Xu Yourong, she could barely stand straight and almost kneeled in front of her.
Xu Yourong held out a hand to support her, asking, "You've never been so courteous in the past. In the few years that I haven't been here, who has been teaching you the rules?"
Of course, she was just teasing, but Shuang'er couldn't even manage a smile. She could only persistently sob and then, feeling her actions rather humiliating, incessantly wipe her face with her sleeve. In an instant, the makeup that had been applied with such meticulous care was ruined.
Finally, the people of the estate began to react. Nanny Hua quickly stepped forward, her lips trembling, but she couldn't manage any words.
"The Young Lady has returned!"
Someone yelled out, the firecrackers were instantly lit, and fireworks illuminated the somewhat gloomy snowy sky.
In the clamor, another person yelled, "We can't call her ‘Young Lady’, we have to call her ‘Holy Maiden’!"
"We respectfully welcome the Holy Maiden!"
Seeing the swiftly closing middle gate, the crowd that had been waiting in the snow for so long instantly dispersed, traveling to various places to spread the news.
The Phoenix had returned home.
"You're wearing so little, what happens if you freeze?"
Madam Xu led Xu Yourong along by hand, her face deeply concerned as tears dripped from her face.”
"How could my family's little Phoenix be frozen by the ordinary winds and unrefined snow of the human world?"
Xu Shiji said with a smile as he lightly stroked his beard. He seemed the very picture of a proud and gentle father. He sighed, "We haven't seen each other for several years; you've grown so much. You actually…really did become the Holy Maiden."
Upon her entering South Stream Temple, he and many others had basically confirmed that his daughter would become the Holy Maiden of the south in the future, but he had not expected the day to come so quickly. With this single thought, he couldn't help but get excited. He was seventy percent proud and pleased, thirty percent free and relaxed. He knew in his heart that even if he were to now have other thoughts, the Divine Empress would not treat him as she did before and at least allow him to preserve a little face. As for the Tianhai clan and those grand ministers in the Imperial Court, would any of them dare persist in ridiculing him behind his back? As for those fellows that had once embarrassed him…he suddenly thought of Chen Changsheng and his mood abruptly turned sour and his complexion turned rather ugly.
In everyone's imagination, the Holy Maiden was inevitably possessed of an unearthly beauty, holy and dignified, conscientious with her words and laughter, and sitting upright and still. Although this innate impression was not necessarily correct, it was already impossible to shatter. Although it was impossible for Xu Yourong to do as her junior and senior sisters did and walk as if untouched by the wind and seem as clean as a white lotus, on the few occasions when she appeared before the masses, even she would pay close attention to her words and actions, doing her utmost to only smile without speaking. Only in front of the Divine Empress and her master the Holy Maiden could she act more naturally, to act like a member of the junior generation and speak of interesting things. Moreover, it was only in front of Shuang'er, the maid who she had grown up with, that she could truly relax, just like now.
She was currently rolling around on a bed, her black hair flying every which way. At the end, she opened her arms and lay flat on the bed, sighing, "Ah, it's still this bed that's comfortable to sleep in."
"Young Lady, this is far too inelegant."
Shuang'er quickly found a blanket to cover her and then sat by the bed, looking at her in a daze. She was very happy, but for some reason, the rims of her eyes were gradually turning red.
Xu Yourong asked, "Just what's going on? Could there really be somebody that dares to bully you?"
She had asked this question as soon as she entered the estate, but she had just been joking then. She was keenly aware that she could search the Xu Estate from top to bottom and not find anyone who would dare bully Shuang'er. Because of the orders she had left back then, even her mother would not treat Shuang'er poorly. But now it seemed that matters were not as Xu Yourong had imagined, so she naturally wished to know what was going on.
Shuang'er wiped her tears, looking at her as if hesitating to say something. Finally, she sadly said, "But if someone bullies the Young Lady, what then?"
Xu Yourong giggled, "The foolish little girl is still so foolish! Who dares to bully me? You don't know, in the Garden of Zhou when I encountered Nanke, the Demon Princess that I mentioned in the latter, if it was one on one, I could definitely…"
"Young Lady, you know who I'm talking about," Shuang'er interrupted.
Xu Yourong sat up and slowly began to tie up her black hair. She then wrapped her arms around her legs and fell silent, thinking about something.
Shuang'er was very aware that when the Young Lady was small, she would often fall into a daze like this when alone. Just like when she was small, seeing this made one want to protect her. It was a completely different image from the calm and imposing manner that was displayed before the populace.
Seeing her young lady do this now, Shuang'er couldn't help but grow uneasy. "Young Lady, I didn't intentionally plan to make you angry. Don't think about it anymore."
Xu Yourong looked at the bright lantern on the table and suddenly announced, "There's something I want to ask you."
Shuang'er asked, "What thing?"
Xu Yourong turned her head to look at Shuang'er and calmly asked, "Back then, you said, he and Princess Luoluo were in the Orthodox Academy…did you personally see it?"
Rather nervously, Shuang'er implored her, "Young Lady, it's so difficult for you to come home even once; just what's the meaning in mentioning that disciple of shamelessness?"
Although it had not been acknowledged, the phrase 'disciple of shamelessness' was seemingly enough to illustrate many things.
Xu Yourong no longer asked any questions. Hugging her knees, she gazed silently out the window at the falling snowflakes for a very long time.
If this were one of her previous returns to the capital, she would definitely have not wanted to go out again. However, today, for some reason, she didn't want to stick around in her home. She wanted to go out for a walk, go out to see.
Perhaps it was because, compared to her last two returns, the capital had some places that were different. For example, the Weiyang Palace had many more Night Pearls than in her childhood. Or that a bridge pier of the Bridge of Helplessness had been struck by a boat last summer and had gotten somewhat crooked, but was now being repaired. Or how the trees by New North Bridge had gotten much lusher for some reason. Or that the old gate of the Orthodox Academy covered in ivy had been replaced by a new gate…
Or how that guy was in the capital.
Separated from her by eleven straight streets.
If an ordinary person were to walk it, they would only need an hour, and this was with the snow making the road slippery.
If she walked, she would only need a few moments.
If she rode the White Crane, then it would require an even shorter time, just the blinking of an eye.
The snow outside the window suddenly grew flurried, as did her emotions. She blinked her eyes and realized that the White Crane had landed in the courtyard.
She stood up and draped a cloak over shoulders, then walked out. Shuang'er hurriedly clasped the stove to her chest and followed.
On the snow, the White Crane was preening its feathers.
A strange and discordant cry resounded in the night, and the gray young Peng also descended. It had gone off to play somewhere, but only when it saw the White Crane did it also come flying over. The moment it reached the ground, it buried itself under the White Crane's wings. It seemed like it was fawning over it and also like it was deliberately provoking it for attention. The White Crane straightened its neck, seeming very helpless, but it did not seem to possess any intention of driving the Peng away.
This small courtyard was a restricted area of the Divine General of the East's estate. Without Xu Yourong's approval, no one could enter, not even Xu Shiji or Madam Xu, so there was no need to worry that the young Peng would scare anyone.
"What bird is this?" Shuang'er asked as she looked at the plain, gray bird.
In her eyes, this bird really did seem rather ugly, but this White Crane well-known for its love of cleanliness actually did not shun this bird's intimacy. This made her rather shocked.
"A pheasant," Xu Yourong replied.
The young Peng stuck its head out from the White Crane's wings and shot her a bitter glance of resentment.
"Holy Maiden Peak truly is no ordinary place. The pheasants that live on the mountain actually look so vicious."
Shuang'er clapped her hands in praise, then suddenly remembered something. "Ah, then I'll go and prepare some more water and fruit. I originally only prepared it for the White Crane."
Hearing this, the resentment in the young Peng's gaze grew even heavier.
It had already lived out a vegetarian life at Holy Maiden Peak for half a year. Only occasionally when Xu Yourong went to the village to play mahjong could it avail itself of the opportunity to eat a little meat, eating things like dried meat or porkchop. Today, it had come to the flourishing capital and, as it flew over, it had seen so many appetizing and tender humans, and there were also those tough and nutritious cultivators. Its mouth was watering until it almost couldn't stand it, but it turned out…
It was still just going to eat fruit?
Although it must be known that it had never tasted human flesh in its entire life, the impressions left on its divine soul from its previous life were unforgettable.
"This pheasant likes to eat meat." Xu Yourong glanced at the young Peng.
It was just an ordinary glance, yet the young Peng felt like its soul had been washed in the coldest water for three days and nights. The burning desires that it had just begun to have all instantly vanished and it didn't even dare to think in that direction.
"If there's blue lobster in the house, get some for it to try."
The young Peng was ecstatic at these words and incessantly swayed its head back and forth. The memories from its previous lives within its divine soul told it that the flesh of the blue lobster was incredibly delicious.
Shuang'er helplessly replied, "There is none."
Xu Yourong was a little surprised, thinking to herself, my family knows that I love eating the blue lobster of Clear Lake Restaurant. Logically, just as they did the last two times, they should have prepared some. Why isn't there any?
"It's impossible to eat blue lobster in the entire capital."
Shuang'er hesitated for a while, then finally said, "Because the Orthodox Academy bought Clear Lake Restaurant, so you can only eat it there."
Xu Yourong was taken aback. She had not expected…to so quickly hear the name of the Orthodox Academy.
The young Peng was thinking about what sort of place the Orthodox Academy was and that it should find the chance to eat up all the people within, then slowly take its time feasting on the blue lobster.
The White Crane suddenly let out a clear cry.
Xu Yourong realized that the White Crane had actually spent half the day at the Orthodox Academy. Presumably…it had been playing around with that guy?
While Shuang'er went to get some other meat, she stood in the darkness, the cloak draped over her as snow fell, thinking about some things.
He was in the capital. Eleven streets, an hour, a moment, and she would be there.