It was precisely because she believes in Ye Jin that she reacted that way. Ye Jin would never, ever do this, which meant that someone must have framed him. Only few knew of Ye Jin's identity as the leader of Ye, Gu Qingyu and the team were the newest additions to that tiny circle. So whoever that framed Ye Jin must be trying to sow discord in their relationship. That realisation terrified her, it meant that she killed Mrs Gu.
"It's my fault, Mother died because of me." Gu Qingyu muttered in a shaky voice. "I dragged her into this. If I hadn't..." The tremors in her voice spread to her hands.
"Qingyu." Murong Zuoyu placed his hand on hers, helping to still the tremors. "Stay calm, we will find the true culprit that killed Mrs Gu, and clear Ye Jin's name."
"Yeah." Gu Qingyu nodded, a resolute gleam in her eyes. "We will."
The carriage stopped, they were back at the duke's mansion. Murong Zuoyu stepped out from the carriage and turned back like before, with an outstretched hand.
And just like before, she accepted his hand and stepped out of the carriage with a hop.
Right then, they heard Ye Jin's cold voice from the door. "So, you're finally back."
A chill ran down Gu Qingyu's spine and her hand jerked back as though she had been burned before she turned to look at Ye Jin. "Xiao Zhezhe!"
Ye Jin snorted, then left the mansion and disappeared into the crowd that mingled in the street outside. Gu Qingyu tried to go after him, but the world spun before her eyes and she collapsed to the ground. She looked at the person that tackled her to the ground. "Hey, who the heck are you?"
"Brother~ Zhu~" the mysterious person rubbed their face all over her clothes like a cat as they replied sweetly, "I missed you~"
"Qi! Yi! Chen!" Gu Qingyu gritted her teeth and shouted, "Get off me now!"
"No!" Qi Yichen clung onto her. "Did you miss me? We've not seen each other for such a long time!"
Gu Qingyu turned her face away and yelled, "No, just get off me! Where's Qi Wan, go and pounce on him instead!"
"Eh, don't be so cold~" Qi Yichen rubbed his face against her again. "I went all the way back to Xiqian for you~"
"You went back to Xiqian?" Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. "I'm surprised they did not burn you at the stake from disappearing on them."
Qi Yichen's eyes were brimming tears. "Hey, that's mean..."
"Sorry, it must not be easy for you. Can you please get up now?" Gu Qingyu softened her tone.
"No! I finally have you all for myself, there's no way I'm letting go that easily!" Gu Qingyu sighed in defeat.
People walked past Gu Qingyu and Qi Yichen with curious, suspicious stares, but they were right at the door to the duke's mansion, so they kept their voices to a hush. A middle-aged lady walked by, shaking her head and sighed, "Ah, why would anyone do such things in broad daylight, and right outside the duke's mansion! The Duke is right at the side! Youngsters these days!"
Murong Zuoyu pinched the bridge of his nose with furrowed brows. He had half the mind to throw them out. At that moment, he heard Qi Wan. "Brother Murong, are you back? What about my boss?" He stepped aside with a wince.
Qi Wan saw Qi Yichen and Gu Qingyu lying on the ground and joined the fray. "Get up, Qi Yichen! Leave my boss out of this!"
Gu Qingyu had the wind knocked out of her lungs again. Xiao Qi, who noticed the commotion and walked out of the mansion, covered her eyes while Qian Cheng shook his head. "Brother Zhu really has it tough!"
After a long while, Qi Wan finally pried Qi Yichen off Gu Qingyu and helped her to her feet. She stretched her neck gently, it cracked and popped a few times. The sound sent goosebumps crawling up Qi Yichen's arms.
"Qi Yichen, you went back to Xiqian for me, I haven't even thanked you yet." She smiled at him sweetly.
Qi Yichen stepped back. "No, no, Brother Zhu, in fact, I didn't even want you to thank me..."
"Oh?" Gu Qingyu walked towards him, her smile widened. "Really?"
Qi Yichen chuckled nervously as he took a few more steps back. "Yeah!....and, ahahaha, I just remembered! A few months ago my teacher told me that he's not gonna make it, I have to hurry back now..."
Gu Qingyu raised an eyebrow. "...a few months ago? Your teacher contacted you a few months ago, and you're only going back now?"
Qi Yichen opened his fan and waved it. "Ahahaha, there's not much to do anyway, I've already made preparations. I even bought the coffin! So, it would really help if you just let me..."
"Okay, get another one." Gu Qingyu nodded thoughtfully. "You're going to need it, for yourself.."
Qi Yichen scuttled away. "Brother Zhu, I don't understand what you mean, haha..."
"It's fine, I understand." Gu Qingyu narrowed her eyes as she walked closer to him.
A few moments later
Gu Qingyu clapped the dust off her hands and turned to Murong Zuoyu. "Brother Murong, let''s head inside!"
Murong Zuoyu pretended he did not see anything and nodded. "Okay."
Qi Wan glanced pitifully at the "unknown object" on the ground, added another kick and followed Gu Qingyu and Murong Zuoyu into the mansion.
Qian Cheng and Xiao Qi had returned to the main hall and were waiting for them. "Eh, Qian Cheng? You're here too!"
"Yeah." Qian Cheng nodded with a smile that reached his eyes. "Brother Zhu, I was very worried when I heard you were kidnapped."
"Yes, thank you, everyone." Gu Qingyu looked around. Sure enough, Ye Jin was not back yet and Mo Bai...would not be here.
Xie Zang raised the corner of his lips: "Kitty, I think you can thank me."
"Sure," Gu Qingyu nodded. "You can have Qi Wan, here you go.""
"What?" Qi Wan stared at Gu Qingyu with wide eyes, "Boss, did you just sell me?"
"Not ‘sell’, she gave you to him." Murong Zuoyu calmly added as he sipped his tea.
No one expected Murong Zuoyu to chip in.
"Tch, I don't want him. Not even if you add ten boxes of gold." Xie Zang pouted.
Qi Wan gawked at him. Have you considered my feelings? Have you at all? It was obvious that Xie Zang did not consider his feelings.
"Okay, I don't want to play games, or lie to you all." Gu Qingyu changed the conversation and cut to the chase. "I want to find the remaining Spirit Gems. And I'm not going to force anyone to come with me."
"Why would I not come with you?" Qi Wan sat on a chair with his ankle resting on top of his knee. "Of course, it's fun, none of us are leaving you to do this on your own."
Murong Zuoyu nodded, as was Xie Zang.
"Me, I'm going to follow Xiao Yu..." Xiao Qi said weakly.
"Then I guess I can only give you my blessings." Qian Cheng said with a melancholic smile. He could not go with her because of the weight on his shoulders; the people of Beiying still need him.
"It's alright, thank you for your blessing." Gu Qingyu also nodded. She understood his decision, he chose to serve his people. His wisdom and decisiveness was a testament to his determination to serve his people. He was not reckless like Mo Bai, who would doom his country for one person. He understood the weight on his shoulders, and he did not think to shirk from his duties. Instead, he held onto it and carried them with steadfast steps.
Do what you have always wanted to do, protect your people, protect your country. Thank you for supporting me throughout this journey.
Gu Qingyu raised her head and looked out the window. The sky was getting darker, and Ye Jin was still not back yet. She got up from her seat. "Give me a while, I'm going to find Ye Jin."
Qi Wan's hand shot into the air. "I'll go with you!"
"No, you take good care of Brother Qi, he is probably about to die." Gu Qingyu glanced at the unknown object outside the door and sighed, "Why do you do this yourself?"
Qi Wan also sighed. "It's not like anyone can stop him. I tried, but he just would not change!"
Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes and walked out the door.
"Brother Zhu, should I get more hands to assist you?" Murong Zuoyu stood up.
"No, no, thank you, Brother Murong." Gu Qingyu smiled back and walked out.
If Ye Jin finds out that she called for help to find him, he would be even more sulky.
Urgh, why is this my life? It took me forever to land a guy like this, and I still need to manage his feelings for him! Isn't it usually the other way around? Why do I have to take care of him like this?
She walked through the streets, but Ye Jin was nowhere to be seen, so she slipped into an alley, took out the Divine Tune and blew it softly. Hm, let's see if you're still going to avoid me.
It didn't take long for her to feel a warm presence behind her back. Gu Qingyu pouted. "Hm, you're late."
"Xiao Yu'er, I'm still angry you know?" Ye Jin hugged her from behind, and his chin rested on her shoulder.
His chest was flat against her back as he whispered into her ear with a husky voice. Her ears turned red. "Angry? I've been looking for you for so long, and you are still angry? Besides, I missed you. You have to show up even if you are angry."
"Xiao Yu'er, I wouldn't dare to disobey you." His warm breath tickled the shell of her ears.
Gu Qingyu blushed. "Hurry up, let's go back for dinner."
"Xiaoyu'er, are you shy?" Ye Jin asked, looking at Gu Qingyu with a grin. As much as they needed to go back to the mansion, his arms were so warm and comforting, she almost did not want to leave.
"...no." She mumbled
"Hahaha, my Xiao Yu'er is so cute." Ye Jin laughed, turned her around, and stared into her eyes. "So, what happened there?"
Gu Qingyu's heart jolted, but she gave him a reassuring smile. "What could possibly happen?"
"You were not yourself the moment you came back." Ye Jin smiled. "Xiao Yu'er, you can't fool me."Previous Chapter Next Chapter