If Li Mu were in that room, it would still take him five seconds or so to recognize that girl as his old deskmate and campus belle, Wang Shiyu.
Compared with the little girl on Earth that attracted the attention of all the boys and even teachers on campus, under the nourishment of that planet’s Spiritual Qi, the current Wang Shiyu had undergone some huge changes and looked as if she had been reborn. She now had a better complexion, a more etherealized air, longer hair, and was wearing a set of gorgeous ancient costumes…
Anyway, today’s Wang Shiyu glowed with amazing Spiritual Qi.
Indeed, each place had its own way of supporting its own inhabitants.
The alien planet filled with Spiritual Qi was no exception to that.
“Sweetheart, why the long face? I’m going to get married, not get killed.” Wang Shiyu stood up with a naughty grin and wheeled around in front of the mirror. She seemed quite satisfied with her dressing style. After making sure that the private parts were heavily protected, she breathed a sigh of relief and said, “There, there. Haha, come on, Jade, smile for the Countess!”
The tears of the maid called Jade gave way to a smile, but soon, worries loomed her face again. “Your Highness, think about the situation we are in. How can you still laugh?”
Doing some stretching to adjust her body to the new dress, Wang Shiyu said happily, “Why can’t I still laugh? I’m going to be the wife of a lord, not the wife of a beggar.”
Unlike what the others had imagined, the current Wang Shiyu was in high spirits and exuding confidence, showing not a sign of misery or despondency.
She was a very confident girl in the first place.
“But, even if you agree to tie the knot, you got to let the Lord know about this,” Jade said bitterly.
Wang Shiyu waved her down and said wearily, “Don’t! Don’t tell him! If my adopted father learns this, he probably will threaten me with his own life and force me to stay put patiently. He’d rather sacrifice Uncle Wu, Uncle Zhu, and the others than let me marry Lord Jin. If so, my whole plan will be ruined.”
Jade the maid protested, “But Your Highness is the prestigious Countess. How distinguished you are! Guard Wu, Guard Zhu, and the others are willing to die for you. As long as we can play for more time, the hero you often talked about will come. Just wait…”
Smiling, Wang Shiyu shook her head and countered, “Distinguished? Willing to die for me? Jade, don’t forget this, everyone is created equal. Those various grades and ranks are not devised by nature. Back then, I was just an ordinary girl. But thankfully, my kind adopted father took me in and set me at the top of the social ladder. Anyway, Uncle Wu and Uncle Zhu have taken such good care of me. I can’t just sit and watch them get killed.”
Although Wang Shiyu had come to that planet for more than a year, her notions had not changed a bit.
Many of the concepts she adhered to were still the theories she learned back on Earth. Even though she was already a high-ranking Countess, she never held herself high above the rest. Instead, she regarded those so-called subordinates as her close friends and family members.
“But… But…” Jade muttered, “You said when that hero comes, he will certainly get you out of this conundrum, didn’t you? So why don’t we wait for some days?”
Wang Shiyu gave a wry smile and answered, “If we keep waiting for him, more innocent men will be killed because of me. When that happens, I will belittle myself. And when he comes, he will, too. He is the hero who has driven a thousand troops away with one strike. I can’t let him make light of me.” As she said the last sentence, her breathtaking face revealed a trace of mixed emotion, which soon melted into a smile of pride.
“But… But…” The maid still did not understand Wang Shiyu’s reasons, so she continued, “That Lord Jin is not a good guy. He doesn’t love you. He just wants to take advantage of your status. If you marry him, how can you ever be happy again?”
“Girl, you must have heard too many romantic love stories. Why discussing happiness with me?” Wang Shiyu said, uncertain whether to laugh or to cry. “Don’t mention love and happiness. I’m simply settling with a makeshift plan. I can still get a divorce even after I marry Lord Jin. So why make a fuss about this?”
She was from Earth, so she was quite open-minded.
Jade still could not take it. She started weeping, failing to understand why such brutal suffering had to happen to the golden-hearted, fairy-like Countess.
“Well then, how is the thing I asked you to prepare for me?” Wang Shiyu asked. By that time, she had put on the red bride’s gown and looked just like the fairy of fire.
Jade handed Wang Shiyu a delicately-made green flexible sword and said, “Your Highness, this Green Snake is Lord’s most precious treasure. Though it’s said that it contained no energy fluctuations, it is powerful enough to harm a Celestial Being… You must handle it with extra care. And never, ever do anything to hurt yourself!”
Wang Shiyu flung the flexible sword at her waist. The mechanics clicked in place, and the green head of the snake on the handled of the sword opened its mouth to gulp down the tip of the sword. Then, she said with a smile, “Do you think I look like someone who might commit suicide?” On no account would she kill herself at her wedding night. There were still plenty of amazing wonders in the world she hoped to admire. Plus, she still wished to go back to her home planet before she reached the end of her life.
“I told to put the drug in the teacup of my adopted father. Did you get it done?” Wang Shiyu posed another question.
Jade nodded dolefully and answered, “Yes, I did… Your Highness, if Lord ever learns that it’s me who drugged him after he wakes up, then…”
“It’s okay. My adopted father is so kind and profoundly righteous. He probably won’t take your life. He’ll whip you 100 times tops.” Wang Shiyu began to put on some jewelry. A few gold hairpins that she seldom wore were lying among the dazzling accessories. But on that day, she carefully inserted one into the bun on the back of her head.
“Ah?” Jade cried, her delicate features almost huddling together.
Wang Shiyu chuckled and said, “Look at you, how terrified you are! I was joking… I figure the drug has already kicked in. My adopted father ought to have fallen asleep by now. Chop, chop! Mission started… Go, go, go!”
“Dog? I don’t see a dog.” Jade looked around nervously.
It took half a day to travel across Lin’an.
“Mount Oxhead is just ahead.” Zhao Ji yelled with thrill as he pointed at a peak beneath the clouds.
Li Mu looked downward.
Sure enough, there were rolling mountains below, which looked not very precipitous but were covered with lush plants. One of the mountain ridges was distinctly shaped like a green ox lying on the ground, and the main peak was where the head of the ox lay. There were two stone peaks rising skyward on either side of the head, which resembled the horns of the ox. The ox’s head seemed to be poised toward the sky, as though it was mooing. Overlooking it from the sky, the ox appeared to be very alive.
Mount Oxhead was surely worthy of the name.
“Descend.” Li Mu instructed.
The white crane let out a long hoot, bisected the clouds with its wings, and swooped at full speed.
Shortly, they were less than 100 meters away from the ground.
“That’s Daoyin Temple!”
Zhao Ji shouted as he pointed at the peak shaped as the ox’s head.
The ox’s head was surrounded by green trees, where the singing of waterfalls could be heard. Everything was serene there. The red bricks and the green tiles on the houses set off one another, as though there was a palace of an immortal in the depths of the mountain. Beautifully-designed residences with overhanging eaves and painted pillars were dotted among the woods. If one did not look carefully, he might easily fail to spot the architectural complex on the mountain.
“Something is wrong,” Li Mu said after he scanned the place with his spiritual force, “the Daoyin Temple is not guarded by military troops.”
Zhao Ji’s expression altered at once. “Could it really…”
“Let’s get to the ground and have a look first.” Li Mu’s spiritual force curled up and wrapped all the riders on the back of the white crane. Next, surrounded by mist and clouds, they landed right before the Daoyin Temple.
Since the size of the white crane was too large, Li Mu ordered it to wait for further instructions on a distant stone peak in case it scared the passers-by.
The Daoyin Temple was built a thousand years ago. It was once the imperial Taoist temple in the Northern Song. For a time, the royal family of the Northern Song surnamed Zhao viewed that mountain as their origin. Several emperors of the Northern Song had chosen to become a Taoist priest in their late years and started their cultivation in the Daoyin Temple, who later ascended to the immortal world from the Daoyin Temple. Therefore, the Daoyin Temple was once very popular. But as time lapsed, great changes occurred. And since the Northern Song relocated its capital to Lin’an, which was too far from Mount Oxhead, the popularity of the Daoyin Temple dived.
By then, though the Daoyin Temple was still the nominal imperial Taoist temple and origin, it had not much power or influence left.
Li Mu and the others crossed the front gate and headed for the temple. But they saw no Taoists guarding the doors all the way up.
When they had traveled some distance, they heard footsteps approach in a haste.
A group of people hurried over. The one taking the lead was cladding royal robes embroidered with golden dragons. He was in his 50s. His imposing face was written with anxiety. He raced down to them even without noting he had lost one of his shoes on the way. Behind him scurried a crowd of guards, Taoists, and a young maid whose face was stained with tears…
“Your Highness!” Zhao Ji immediately marched forward and bowed at the sight of the lord. “Your Highness, what happened? Does she… Does the Countess already…”
“Zhao Ji? You’re back? Where is the help Yu’er asked you to fetch?” Spotting Zhao Ji, the eyes of the middle-aged man who had lost a shoe instantly lit up, but soon dimmed again. Then, he sighed, “Too late. It’s all too late. Yu’er has been picked up by Lord Jin’s men…”
That middle-aged man was Lord Virtuous the Eighth, the lord known for his virtue in the Northern Song.
But he did not know what kind of help Zhao Ji went to send for. On that day Zhao Ji fought his way out, everything happened in a haste. So, he did not explain the mission very clearly to the lord, nor had Wang Shiyu told her adopted father much about the plan.
“What? What shall we do now?” Zhao Ji was also upset at the news.
He had traveled as fast as he could to and from the temple, but he was still too late.
“You don’t have to worry.” Li Mu took a step forward and inquired in a deep voice, “When did they pick Shiyu up? In which direction did they go?”
Lord Virtuous the Eighth answered without thinking, “Four hours ago. In the northwest, to the military camp of Lord Jin. It’s 10,000 miles from here… Uh? Where did he go?”
Before he could finish his sentence, the lord felt his eyes were dazzled for a second, and then, Li Mu was gone.
Zhao Ji said, “Your Highness, what on earth has happened? Generally, the force we have can withstand Lord Jin until I come back with the help. But why did the Countess go with Lord Jin without putting up a fight?”
Lord Virtuous the Eighth remarked, “Well, in order to prevent more innocent men from being killed by Lord Jin, that silly kid of mine put on the wedding dress on her own accord, added drug in my tea and forced me into a long sleep, then skulked out the Daoyin Temple without anyone noticing and set off in the bride’s sedan chair outside. She is feeding the tiger with herself…”
At that, Zhao Ji was dumbstruck. He never knew the Countess could make such a move.
“Her fooling around has gone too far.”
Yet, in a few moments, it occurred to him that it was exactly the style of Her Highness.
All along, that kind, fearless girl had moved everyone around her just with her rare qualities over and over again. Due to those qualities, all the servants could not help but admire her, protect her. Although a good number of young masters and young ladies in the rich families in Lin’an slandering on or laughing at her, there was an equal number of folks, footmen, and maids adoring and praising her.
In the imperial aristocratic circle that had gradually begun to decay and rot, such a purely beautiful and brave woman was like a white lotus blooming unstained from the muddy paddle, plucking the heartstrings of all the caring people.
Among the common folks in Lin’an, that brave and good-natured Countess Huanzhu enjoyed a reputation nearly comparable to that of Lord Virtuous the Eighth.
The lord had also fallen for Countess Huanzhu because of those precious qualities she had. Gradually, he became intoxicated with the girl without quite realizing it. By then, he was already willing to die for the Countess, wasn’t he?
“It might not be too late yet. His honor Li will bring the Countess back.” Having come to his senses, Zhao Ji hurriedly tried to comfort Lord Virtuous the Eighth, and perhaps himself, too.
Lord Virtuous the Eighth asked, “Li? That young man who spoke to me a moment ago? He, alone, can rescue Yu’er from the large troops of Lord Jin? It’s…” He very much doubted it. Lord Jin’s force was too strong indeed. It could even be said that Lord Jin was the most intimidating force in the entire Northern Song.
Zhao Ji said, “Your Highness, don’t worry. If you knew the name of that man, you wouldn’t have asked that question.”
A little stunned, Lord Virtuous the Eighth asked with curiosity, “Who… is he?”
You’re reading Chapter 386 – Who Is He? on readnovels.co. Wish you happy reading! Follow more great stories at action novel.