Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol02 Ch39
The snow had just stopped when He Xia returned to the Prince Consort Residence.
He had just arrived late last night yet had to leave early next day to see the Princess in the Royal Residence. He then had to meet with the generals to discuss plans about Dong Lin. His iron-like body couldn’t help being a little tired.
His eyes rested on the Prince Consort Residence before him, majestically magnificent but a little lacking in activity. Since coming back from the Royal Residence, he felt a little more attached to it but at the same time, unwillingness and fear.
This attachment and fear was all because of one person.
Pingting was there. His eyes often flickered to the colours Pingting liked and wore. He zoned in on frequencies that resembled Pingting’s breathing.
She always unwittingly affected others with just one breath, capturing their heart. She herself would remain lazily and leisurely, utterly oblivious to herself and others.
But He Xia was the exception.
Thanks to their deep bond of fifteen years, He Xia was able to affect Pingting with his breath, capturing Pingting’s heart. Pingting would notice whenever his expression wasn’t right, his body feeling uncomfortable or his emotions a mess. Those two clever eyes would softly roll around twice and would have already deducted what was wrong. She’d then carefully plan out something to help him, whether it be strolling around the gardens, playing the qin or cracking a joke.
Occasionally if he was still unhappy after persuasion, he would pick up his sword and begin a sword dance. Pingting would then specifically change into a dress with extra large sleeves to accompany in the slow and gentle “Nine Days” dance.
As the two connected, the misery became a blooming flower.
Not many men under the skies were blessed to have such a time.
This blessing belonged to He Xia, once.
It was only when Pingting’s eyes had moved on from He Xia. He was shocked to find that Pingting’s gaze was a valuable treasure.
It was not the qin sound or the singing, not the touching dance, not the charming laugh. It was her fine assurance that was most precious.
The skies had decided that the blessing he had been given was to be removed one day.
How could he obediently hand the blessings he once had to Chu Beijie without a fight? That Duke was an enemy country, the one that had set plans with fake retreats, the Duke of Zhen-Bei who provoked He Su to drive out the House of Jing-An, the man who left the Precious Parting Soul Sword behind and the man who stole Pingting.
The footsteps he took up the steps were somewhat slow.
The threshold at the door was very tall. It was the threshold to his Prince Consort Residence, yet it seemed that if it were any taller, it would block the door and become a sturdy prison.
He willingly came in, but that didn’t mean he was willing to stay inside forever.
He Xia lowered his head and looked at the indentations his sword had left on his palm. His hand were full of strength and flexibility. He knew how to cleverly pick, cut and puncture his way to victory.
The four countries were now in chaos.
Chaos was a hero’s playground.
He was born a general and born into the House of Jing-An, giving him a superior identity to observe the situation of everything. He was a born genius, one who should sit at the top, above all.
But another person had come into the picture Chu Beijie, also of noble blood. He too was talented with words and strength, another savior of his country who was also able to carefully lead his troops with warrior-like strength.
He Xia and he were just like Gui Le’s two famous qin players, Yangfeng and Pingting. Their names were linked together for their whole lifetimes.
Yangfeng and Pingting were friends from childhood.
Yet those two were destinied enemies.
Pingting had returned, and Chu Beijie could not have her. Just like Pingting, Chu Beijie would never get his way forever.
A flash of colour suddenly appeared before He Xia’s eyes. He lifted up his foot and strode through the door of the Prince Consort Residence.
He hurriedly entered through the atrium and turned the corridor towards the pond, when he stopped before a stone wall. He Xia turned and looked at the figure in the pavilion across him.
There was a table in the pavilion. The guqin had been set up on it and the incense beside it had been lit. Pingting was seated in front of the guqin, silently stroking the head of the qin. It seemed as if she was trying to wipe off traces of contaminating sweat until it was all carefully erased.
Seeing this, He Xia deeply remembered that it had been a long time since he last heard Pingting play qin.
He had always been the one seated the closest, watching beside her. Her indescribably beautiful hands lightly struck chords onto the ancient qin, trembling slightly. The qin would then spit out a wonderful sound, sometimes like an arrow that stopped the wind as it shot straight towards the sky.
Even the clouds couldn’t help parting.
It had been so long since he last heard Pingting’s qin sound.
He didn’t dare alarm Pingting and quietly leaned on the wall of the stone shelter, anticipating the familiar qin sound to begin. The sound that appeased his weary heart, pointing out the direction of home.
Pingting didn’t seem to be ready to play qin. She just had her head lowered as her fingertips repeatedly stroking the guqin. Perhaps she had a dim light of thought, perhaps not, but her fingertips stopped briefly on the thin string.
The incense elegantly burned on, its dark red light flickering. Gradually, it dimmed, flickered a few more times stressfully and went out.
“Why are you not playing?” He Xia walked out from the stone shelter, stepping on the few bricks placed on the snow until he stopped before the pavilion.
Pingting seemed to not hear him, just continued to stare at the qin.
“This is a qin I specifically sent someone to buy from Gui Le. Do you like it?”
No matter how kind his words were, there was no reply.
Since getting on the carriage, Pingting had never spoke another word to him.
Her person had returned, but her heart had been left forgotten at Dong Lin.
After a while, He Xia sighed. “Order whatever you want from the kitchen. There are two Gui Le chefs in this residence and are particularly good at making garlic pork and pickles.” He had planned to return to his room after saying this. After taking several steps away, he turned back, “I haven’t heard your qin sound for a long time.” His voice was soft as he turned back, ready to leave once more.
“Me too…haven’t seen Master sword dancing in the snow for a long time.”
A very faint, almost inaudible whisper came from behind.
He Xia turned around in surprise, his eyes flashing with joy as said, “Do you want to see it?”
Pingting avoided his eyes, faintly sighing. “Isn’t Master tired? You came back late last night and left early next morning.”
He Xia stared at her, touched. His lips revealed a doting smile, “How could I be tired with you watching me?”
His sword gently came out of his scabbard like a dragon entering water, smoothly gliding in and shedding its dirty half which floated on the water like a quilt.
It seemed that the blade could cut the clouds till they spilled water or quickly beckon the lightning towards them.
Pingting remained seated at the pavilion, silently watching.
Her eyes were like watery smoke. When He Xia gazed into them, all of his tiredness corroded and melted away.
He Xia’s sword leapt freely into the sky. Its spinning was closely followed by Pingting’s eyes.
In that moment, it seemed that the cozy Jing-An Ducal Residence had been brought back.
Nothing had changed.
His father and mother, his home and his determination to protect all of them were there.
The days had not passed; the seasons had not changed, and death was non-existent.
He Xia’s sword swung, easily waving back the heavy imprints of his past.
The freezing north wind was unable to stop He Xia’s pride after finishing the dance. He was soaked in sweat as he used his sleeves to rub his forehead. He laughed, “Again!” The sword began to float up again, suddenly stopping. Its style appeared to change. It was a dragon, ready to take off to the skies. It had been Pingting’s favourite Jing-An sword technique back then.
As the dragon of the sword walked in the four directions, an unexpected qin sound began to ring, momentarily jolting the sword.
He Xia was delighted by this. His actions continued without pause. He turned, the sword’s direction changing once more. The qin sound became louder like the call of a dragon but higher pitched.
The sword danced to the qin with the greatest accuracy, flawless.
After the entire set of Jing-An sword techniques had been danced, Pingting entered with the finale, “Nine Days.”
At the final cut of the sword, the qin sound stopped too.
Two pairs of deep eyes clashed in midair as the complex yet familiar feeling came crashing back.
Dear Pingting, you’re the same as me, unable to forget the past.
Your heart still has the Jing-An Ducal Residence, still has the Marquess of Jing-An!
Apart from Chu Beijie, there is no one else who can shelter your heart, right?
You’re still the same!
On the white world, silence suddenly fell.
No one knew how long before the the gazes in the air separated. Pingting’s pupils shifted until they rested on the ground beyond He Xia.
He Xia seemed to notice and turned back.
An elegant figure jumped into his eyes.
Yaotian was dressed in a gorgeous grand purple dress, coupled with a pure white mink coat that draped over her shoulders. Her complexion was like pearls. A complex coronet had been placed on her head. Several gemstone necklaces had been put tightly around her neck.
Her lips were cheery red; her eyes were as bright as stars.
Eight maids had their heads lowered, attending behind her.
He Xia turned around, Yaotian smiled. She praised, “This is the first time I have seen Prince Consort dancing in the snow.” Her gaze shifted beyond He Xia. Her voice was soft, “As expected of one of Gui Le’s two famous qin players. I have heard of your fame, Miss Bai.”
“Princess.” Pingting’s jade hands had left the qin as she slowly stood up from her chair, leaving the pavilion. She bowed at Yaotian who was standing behind the fake mountain.
He Xia’s expression changed, quickly pasting a smile. “Why has Princess come at such an hour?” He packed the qin away, walked towards Yaotian and took her hand. “Why did you not call for me and stand on the snow in such cold weather?”
“To sword dance in the snow accompanied by qin is such a beautiful and rare scene. Why would I willingly break it?” Yaotian submissively let He Xia hold her hand.
They then went into the room together. The maids served up hot tea. The three lowered their heads as they tried it, each thinking deeply. They were silent as they watched the wisps of steam.
Yaotian had the most important identity and was naturally sitting in the centermost seat of the room. She tilted her head, assessing Pingting who was sitting by her side, for a long time. She suddenly smiled, “The song Miss Bai played just now was very nice. What is the name of the piece?”
Pingting placed her teacupdown. Her manner was reasonable as she replied, “The piece’s name is Nine Days.”
“Nine Days?” Yaotian repeated as if chewing on the name. She nodded, “The piece is good and so is its name.”
“Thank you, Princess.”
“Could you play it again?”
Before Pingting could reply, He Xia happened to put down his cup. His voice was concerned, “Has Princess had dinner yet? Knowing that Princess was going to come, I specifically ordered the chefs to make some Gui Le desserts. Didn’t Princess want to eat it again after trying it last time?”
He clapped twice, summoning a maid up. He told her, “Hurry, serve up the prepared desserts and a jug of the alcohol I brought back.”
Not long later, the desserts and alcohol had been brought over. The desserts were indeed made by top notch chefs of Gui Le and were still steaming hot. Cute, coloured flowers had been carved on the tops of each. Five had been exquisitely arranged per plate. Each plate had a different colour on the top, indicating that the filling insides were different.
He Xia dismissed his maids and personally poured a cup of alcohol for Yaotian. Yaotian glanced at him and then stopped on Pingting, whose expression was unreadable. She then obediently lifted her head and drank the alcohol He Xia had prepared before eating two desserts. She remained quiet, her face calm.
“Pingting, you can taste one too.” He Xia looked at Pingting.
The table next to Pingting’s hand also had three or four dishes. She lowered her head and inspected them, shaking her head, “Master forgot that I don’t eat crushed apple desserts.”
“Of course I remember.” He Xia replied, “Did you not see the mark for shredded carrot? The apple filling has been replaced with shredded carrot filling mixed with honey.”
Pingting lifted a finger and broke it from the middle. There really was carrot stuffing in it with the smell of honey mixed into it. She carefully put it into her mouth, her eyes brightening. “These taste better than before. What did you put in?”
He Xia gave Yaotian a look before casually replying, “Nothing much, just used fresh honey. Yun Chang capital is placed close to the snowy mountains so this honey is from a type of bee unafraid of the cold.”
This surprisingly tasty desert with the flavour of home seemed to bring Pingting’s appetite with just one bite. She ate all five of the deserts on the table in one helping. Without hesitation, she ate each one which was about the size of a finger, gently filling her empty stomach. She then looked at He Xia’s table of desserts but didn’t say a word.
“Only yours has carrot filling. Ours aren’t. If I knew you’d like them so much, I would’ve ordered the chefs to prepare more.” He Xia’s gaze swept towards Yaotian, carefully asking, “Princess liked the flavour the chefs prepared from last time, so Princess’ are still the same. Would Princess like to try the shredded carrot filling?”
Yaotian’s expression was vague as she smiled. “I love the apple filling.” She then reached for the jug on the table.
He Xia helped her pour, but it was too late. Pingting had already taken the jug and helped pour a cup for Yaotian. A small, soft and friendly smile suddenly appeared on her face. “The snow has stopped and it seems the moon shall arrive soon. Why not open up the windows of the room, letting the moonlight fighter through so that Princess can drink tea while listening to Pingting play the qin to relieve boredom with a little elegance?”
“Hm, that sounds like a good plan.” Yaotian nodded and called for the attendants to open the windows. The days of winter were short, and night fell one hour after they entered the room. It seemed that tomorrow would be a good day, as the moon and stars could be seen clearly.
The halo of moonlight filtered the hall like leaking water.
The maids quietly carried in and prepared a table for the qin. Not long later, the guqin He Xia had specifically bought for Pingting was carried in and placed neatly on the table.
Pingting lit the incense as usual and washed her hands, a solemn beauty already added to her face. She sat before the qin, took deep breath with her eyes closed. She placed her fingers lightly on the strings and hooked onto them.
The strings spat out a low vibrato as if choking back tears.
Yaotian listened to the sounds carefully, sighing. “Such a great qin. No wonder Prince Consort bought it despite the huge cost.”
Seeing He Xia, she half-sighed, half-exclaimed, “Yet only such a great qin could be worthy of being played by Bai Pingting.”
He Xia gave Yaotian a spoilt smile but didn’t say anything, using his gentle gaze to touch her heart.
Pingting tested the sound until she felt calm enough. She raised her head, “What would Princess like to hear?”
“Picking a song is too much of an important task for me and must be placed on someone familiar with qin.” Yaotian’s gaze softly fell on He Xia’s face and she faintly said, “Please choose for me, Prince Consort.”
He Xia thought for a while, asking, “Is Spring Scenes okay?”
Pingting nodded, closing her eyes in concentration. She collected her thoughts before quietly opening her eyes quiet’y again. An additional spark of undeniable confidence shown.
She placed her hands softly on the strings before plucking familiarly at it.
The tone was different to before. It was a lively, playful sound that jumped into the eardrums.
Suddenly everything was full of life.
The qin sound was everywhere. Although it was winter, the winter chill seemed to be gone. It seemed that time hurried along, making people think that the season after winter, spring, had arrived.
Even the drones did not become irritated. It was like the continuous spring rain, gently and lively pattering on the walls.
Without a trace of impurity, without a trace of heaviness.
Everything was cheerful.
The birds chirped and flew throughout the forest as tender grass shoots appeared in the wet soil from the melting snow and ice. Everything, ready to put on a new coat.
Then silence, the little animals peeped out of their caves. They hurled towards the outside world not long later, greeting the first shy blossom in the forest.
Each act of spring was presented and expanded with the rich sound of qin. It seemed even the air was filled with the sweet scent of mud.
The people in the room listened, mesmerised and enchanted by the sights of three months’ worth of spring.
The qin sound began to fell, as if the day was over.
The birds returned back to their nests; the small animals were now exhausted and went to look for an area to rest with clean water. The grass seemed to have grown very tall in just a day as the old trees calmly watched over them, smiling profoundly. A squirrel curled in its leaves, asleep.
After bustling activity came well deserved rest.
After a long pause, Yaotian finally shook herself awake. She sincerely praised, “I’m shocked the world has such fine qin sound. It must sound even better to Prince Consort, who has much better ears than mine and as a companion of Miss Bai since childhood.”
Pingting received the praise but did not appear to look proud. She respectfully replied, “Pingting is currently living in the Prince Consort Residence. If Princess would like to listen to qin, summon me any time.”
Yaotian took this quite well and she nodded, smiling. “That sounds very good. Could you play more?”
“Of course. What would Princess like to hear?”
Yaotian thought for a little, asking, “Since that was about the scenes of spring, what about the other seasons? Do they have pieces too?”
“Yes. They are Summer Colours, Autumn Circadas and Winter Words.”
“Then…” Yaotian quietly instructed, “play all of them.”
Pingting answered, sat up a little straighter, lifted up her shoulders and placed her hands on the qin.
The melodious sound drifted out from the elaborately decorated windows and door, suspended in the air of the huge Prince Consort Residence.
Spring Scenes, Summer Colour, Autumn Circadas, and Winter Words.
Spring was full of beautiful scenery, summer was full of blooming colours, chirping cicadas filled autumn and the silence of winter.
In the flower-viewing pavilion of the Jing-An Ducal Residence, Pingting had improvised while He Xia considered and decided names for each.
Spring scenes floated past, summer went, autumn noisily finished, ending cooly, yet not cold.
It seemed that the qin sound had stripped down the borders of the residence, bringing in bits of nature. It was only long after the qin finally stopped did one became aware they had been too mesmerised and forgotten where they were.
Playing qin was extremely exhausting. Pingting barely managed to finish the three songs. Fatigue filled her face yet she touched the qin once more to play Winter Words.
He Xia seemed to have been worried for a while. He quickly reached out, stopping her. He turned to Yaotian, “Princess, it is winter and it will bring greater chills than already. It is not as meaningful as Spring Scenes, Summer Colours and Autumn Circadas. Shall we leave it at that and reflect on the pieces now?”
“Prince Consort is right.” Yaotian nodded her head, her curiosity not yet satisfied. She slowly remarked, “The last two pieces are special in their own way, but judging by their character, I prefer the Nine Days I heard in the courtyard.”
Pingting smiled before He Xia could answer. “Then let’s skip Winter Words for Nine Days, so Princess can hear it.”
He Xia guessed that Yaotian could see that Pingting was exhausted and was hoping she would refuse. However, Yaotian nodded while smiling, “Sure.”
He Xia was not happy but didn’t say anything. The light in his eyes dimmed a little though his expression did not change as he silently sat and listened.
As expected, Pingting sat up and hooked her fingers around the string, plucking it.
The plucked string began to vibrate, producing a beautiful sound, but it didn’t seem to be as clear as the original. He Xia was secretly alarmed by this and managed to listen for a while as the high notes were barely straight, highly unstable.
Pingting’s breathing was heavy. Her shoulder shook a few times before shockingly fall backwards. He Xia was even more alarmed. He suddenly jumped out of his chair, almost falling onto Pingting. His expression paled, “Pingting! Pingting!”
“What’s wrong?” Yaotian was surprised. She got up to study her.
He Xia did not reply. He grabbed Pingting’s slender hand and picked her up horizontally from the waist. He carried her around the corridor and placed her on the bed. Only then did he murmur to Yaotian, “Her pulse is a little chaotic. She’s probably tired from the bumpy ride.”
Yaotian was stunned by this. She then replied, “I shouldn’t have ordered her to play qin.” An apologetic expression appeared on her face.
Surprisingly, He Xia did not comfort her like usual. He just passed on a few words, “She should be fine with some medicine and a few days of rest.” He then picked up the brush on the desk in the room, personally writing a prescription. He then handed it to a maid who immediately went off to prepare.
He remained busy for a while and was afraid that even the sound of footsteps would disturb Pingting. He personally helped to close the mantle hanging around the bed. He then turned to see Yaotian standing behind him, not saying a word.
He Xia finally returned his attention on his wife. He softened his voice, “Is Princess tired? Princess’ room has already been aired with fragrance, so would Princess please go rest there? I will be there shortly.”
“No need.” Yaotian’s face who had always been full of tenderness now looked disinterested. She laughed drily, “I just came to see Prince Consort and had no intentions to spend the night here.”
“We are husband and wife. There’s still a long time to go.” Yaotian lowered her voice, “You should get a day of rest after just coming back. Sleep well tonight.” Her gaze shifted away resolutely and glanced at the delicate figure deep inside the bed.
He Xia’s voice was soft. “Then I’ll go see you early tomorrow in the Royal Residence.”
Although his voice was a sweet and frivolous as usual, his facial expression was also sincere. To Yaotian, his words seemed to be relieved.
“I’ll get going.”
“I’ll accompany you to the Princess Residence.”
Yaotian’s chest felt bitter but she kept her emotions restrained after remembering her title. She shook her head, “No need.”
The words were harsh and she knew that He Xia heard them. He stiffened and his intelligent eyes shifted to her.
Yaotian seemed to feel unnerved by his gaze. She deemed He Xia very important in her life and knew that if she gave him the impression of an annoying, naggy wife, then she would never have another chance at getting his love in her lifetime. She quickly hid her dissatisfaction and turned away. “Who isn’t watching on the way? We’re married, yet we still accompany you here and there like outsiders…”
He Xia began to gently chuckle. “Princess is thinking too much. We are married, not outsiders at all. If you’re afraid of people laughing, then at least allow me to accompany you to the residence doors.”
Yaotian didn’t argue any more, revealing a girly smile as she let him take her hand.
The two lovingly walked until the main door. He Xia had offered countless sweet and tender words, putting a flower-like smile on Yaotian’s face.
The royal guards outside had already prepared the carriage and the path home had been lit with flickering candles, bright like daytime.
He Xia personally helped Yaotian to board the carriage, squeezing a few more words in before standing at one side, watching the strong royal carriage team head in the direction of the Royal Residence in the silence of the night.
When the carriage was far away, reducing to a small dot in the distance, He Xia finally went in.
It was already deep within the night, and the earth was quiet.
Just like Pingting’s qin, winter was silent.
Not heading back towards his own bedroom, he did not stop until he reached Pingting’s bedroom. He entered the room and saw a frightened figure stand up from the bed. When she saw his face clearly, she hurriedly bowed, “Prince Consort.” Unease was hidden in the depths of her eyes.
He Xia recognised her as Pingting’s maid. He glanced at her, not particularly caring, and then moved towards Pingting’s face, who laid on the bed.
His gaze became gentle.
Zuiju had been accompanying Pingting. She knew that He Xia’s bedroom was on the other side of the residence and had not guessed that he would arrive at this time. Seeing He Xia walk to the bedside, Zuiju unwillingly moved away and stepped back. After all, he was the owner of this place.
He Xia didn’t bother with the maid. He sat on the bed, carefully examining Pingting’s pale white face. It had become a lot thinner.
He reached out, gently touching Pingting’s face.
Zuiju looked at them, her hands and feet clenched into fists as her heart thumped wildly.
A man and woman in the dead of the night, not to mention in the privacy of a bedroom. It was so indecent that the skies would have cowered in shame.
Zuiju studied every movement He Xia made. Every touch and action around Pingting made Zuiju extremely nervous. She dearly wished that his fingers would leave her as soon as possible but was terrified that if they left, they would grope for an even creepier place.
Duke, what should I do?
If you don’t come, a storm will.
For the first time in her life, Zuiju felt an extreme hatred and anger towards Chu Beijie.
When Zuiju became so nervous that she couldn’t even breathe any more, He Xia finally stopped stroking Pingting’s face and stood up from the bed. She then sighed in her relief, knowing that he’d watched enough and hoped with every inch of herself that he would leave soon. She hadn’t expected that he would suddenly turn around and undo his belt, appearing to undress. His sharp eyes flickered to the pale-faced Zuiju, frowning, “Why are you just watching? You don’t even know how to help undress?”
Pingting was still treated like how she was back in the Jing-An Ducal Residence, a maid over-cherished and did whatever she wanted. As a result, her maids were obedient without any arguments.
“Undress?” Zuiju’s heart began to thunder as she glanced at the lonely, defenseless Pingting on the bed. A shiver ran up her spine.
“Prince Consort…would like to undress here?”
“Yes.” He Xia replied. Seeing that she wasn’t clever enough to come help him undress, he decided to do so without any help, taking off his outer layers. He didn’t criticise however, seeing that she was Pingting’s maid.
Zuiju realised that he did intend to sleep and was as anxious as ants in a burning pot. Even if she called for someone, all of the people in the Prince Consort Residence obeyed him. No one would even care. Not to mention, it was He Xia, someone that not even she or Pingting could stop.
Duke! What should I do?
“It is very late, you can go to sleep.” He Xia instructed.
Although Zuiju replied, her footsteps refused to leave. She bit down her lip and nervously studied her surroundings. Her gaze fell on and paused briefly on a stone. She quickly formed a plan and decided that if Pingting was in trouble, she would chuck it towards He Xia’s head.
He Xia was a fighter, with quick reflexes, meaning that this attempt would most likely fail and she’d lose her life. She hoped that it could at least ease his eagerness.
As it was now, a weak woman was in trouble with a big man. Despite all her medical knowledge that could save so many lives, it was no use. What other options were there?
Thinking that much, she couldn’t help take two small steps towards the small stone.
He Xia had already sat down on the bed, putting down the remaining half of the mantle. Through the veil, Zuiju saw that He Xia had already laid down next to Pingting. She took this opportunity to hide the small rock in her sleeve as she crept close.
Pingting seemed to stir at He Xia’s movement. She groggily mumbled, “Hm” and moved around. Zuiju prepared herself, ready to fling the stone through the slit whenever she screamed. In the silence, however, she heard Pingting drowsily asking, “Master?” Her words were separated with a gap before muttering, “Why are you here?”
“It’s a little warmer if I hold you.”
A slight movement came from within the veil. It seemed He Xia was now hugging Pingting. Zuiju’s nerves were strained; she listened tensely, but Pingting didn’t make another sound as if asleep.
Zuiju kept the stone hidden in her sleeve, her hand drenched with sweat. She waited for a while until gentle barely audible breathing, barely audible came from within the veil. It really did seem both were asleep.
She was still not assured and gingerly lifted up the mouth of the mantle with a finger, peeking inside.
Pingting and He Xia were lying on the bed, using the same blanket, hugging each other while sleeping. They slept quietly, their eyelashes resting on their face, not suspecting the other. They slept like children.
Zuiju stared at them for a long time before her suspended heart was finally put to rest. She was stupefied. Just what was going on?
She took her hand away, watching the figures of the two people from the outside of the translucent veil. She considered her options and decided that it was best not to lower her guard. She held onto the stone and guarded by the bed.
Suffering for two hours, the weariness became heavier and heavier until her eyelids could lift no more.