"Be honest." Xie Li continued questioning her brother as they watched Gu Qingyu ascend to the lotus platform. "What are your actual thoughts?"
Xie Zang frowned slightly. "She seems...oddly familiar."
Xie Li beamed at his response, while An Linlin's jaw tightened. She had planned to embarrass that princess at the performance, but she did not expect to be outwitted instead. How did that woman catch the Xie family's attention anyway? At this rate, even if she were to fall out of favour with Emperor Ye, the Xie family would step in and protect her instead. Damn! Just how did she manage to get them to side with her? She looked so weak and frail... Whatever, there's still plan B. She smirked.
On the other hand, Xie Li returned her attention to the performance, the dancer had reached the lotus platform at the center of the stage. The chirpy, lighthearted tune transformed into a deeper, richer harmony, as though a stone had been cast into the center of a lake, sending ripples across the surface, further bewitching the audience. Gu Qingyu paused for a moment, that did not sound like what the musician had been playing before. But it's not like she could stop, Qi Wan must have changed the song for a reason, she would just have to go with it. She closed her eyes and spun in the center of the lotus platform, the skirt of her green dress spun open into a full circle around her. The clear whistle of a flute joined the strings, blending and adding depth to the song.
Her heart jolted at the harmony, but her movements remained smooth and balanced as she prepared for the next sequence and sat down. She would have to stand up and fly up to the center of the lotus platform while spinning. She closed her eyes and readied herself. Just when she leapt into the air, she heard a soft ripping sound. She had not even noticed what had happened, the only thing she felt was a sudden chill and the feeling of fabric sliding off her skin. She was still spinning in the air, but her green dress had been ripped apart, revealing her pink dress instead.
An audible gasp broke out in the audience, no one had expected this turn of events. Right after that, their shock was replaced by delight as they applauded. She had become a lotus in full bloom, as she softly and gracefully landed at the center of the lotus platform. An Linlin could only watch in disbelief. She turned around in horror and just so happened to meet Xie Li's eyes.
"Miss An, this dance is much more beautiful than described." Xie Li narrowed her eyes slightly.
"Yes." An Linlin smiled but the sharp hatred in her look remained. Why, why could that bitch… Could it be that she was in cahoots with Xie Li, Priestess Xie?
The music sped up as the smaller lotus danced atop the large lotus platform. Suddenly, eight pink ribbons shot out from her dress, as if extending it and forming petals. The audience was completely enthralled. Even Ye Jin lowered his goblet of wine and watched intently. The song gradually slowed and faded away. The audience seemed to have returned to their senses as a standing ovation echoed through the hall.
"Indeed, she is truly the Lotus Princess! What an amazing display of the Lotus Waltz!"
"Yes, I have heard the Princess was a great dancer. She has proved her skills to be far beyond the rumours!"
Even Xiqian's emperor stared at the dancer atop of the lotus platform in shock. Gu Qingyu panted slightly to catch her breath. The sound of strings had started again. She was going to follow the music and make her exit, but a strange force stopped her. Then, the strange force pulled her through the air. Qi Wan threw away the instrument and tried to catch her, but she was not falling. Instead, she was pulled towards Ye Jin. Ye Jin stood up and with a wave, removed the chiffon veil that covered her face before catching her and pulling her into his arms by her waist.
Gu Qingyu stared at Ye Jin in a daze, suddenly unable to speak. Meanwhile, all of Xiqian's royalty stared at the imposter with shock. Ye Jin looked at Gu Qingyu and narrowed his eyes. "Emperor of Xiqian, I have accepted your gift."
"It is our honour!" The emperor of Xiqian did not expose the imposter and agreed gleefully instead. With those words, Ye Jin had guaranteed Xiqian's safety and well-being.
An Linlin's jaw was so tight, she could almost crush all of her teeth. Who was the imposter? Although, the fact that it was an imposter made more sense to her. That bitch could barely dance, of course she sent a scapegoat to perform on her behalf.
Xie Li beamed at the reveal, while her brother turned to her quizzically, "You are in an awfully good mood today, sister."
"What on earth gave you that impression? I'm not in a good mood at all." Xie Li was still smiling as she answered her brother in a serious voice. "I wanted her to be your wife, what a pity."
"Why? Has something happened between you and the Lotus Princess?” Xie Zang continued his questioning.
Xie Li shook her head. "No. But if you don't marry her, it won't be long before you will come to regret it."
"Regret?" He blinked a few times. "I don't know her at all, I've never even spoken to her before. Why would I regret not marrying her?"
"Are you doubting my ability?" Xie Li leaned back and shot a look at her brother.
"No, that's not..." He avoided her eyes and stared at his hands instead.
Xie Li's visions has never gone wrong. She serves as the high priestess for the Xie royalty and was the most powerful clairvoyant in the world. It was precisely due to the clever use of her powers that the Xie family could remain in power amidst the ongoing chaos. Like the Ye Empire, they do not claim sovereignty over a certain piece of land, but govern nations instead. Their influence was only just shy of the Ye Empire.
"That's right." Xie Li narrowed her eyes slightly, "Silly brother. Keep your eyes peeled, and grab the chance to marry her the moment you can. She is more than some Lotus Princess."
"G-got it." Xie Zang looked at the girl in Ye Jin's arms, a little speechless. Poor girl, lord knows what she had done to catch such keen interest from his sister. It would be better if she had been hated by his sister. At most, her life would end in a horrible death. But if his sister liked her instead, then his sister would do anything to keep her around, even if she wanted nothing to do with his sister. Fine, since that's the case, he should pay more attention.
Gu Qingyu and Ye Jin stared at each other, time seemed to have stopped in that moment.
Ye Jin's eyes softened as his lips quivered and his voice lowered to a mere whisper, "Xiao Yu'er..."
Her heart raced at his words, he remembered her! But his recollection only lasted for that second. A piercing clarity returned to his eyes as her own face was reflected in those blue orbs. He suddenly released her and returned to his seat. "Do what you will, as long as you return to Ye with me."
A stinging pain pierced her chest, her eyes closed for a moment. "Don't you remember me?"
"No. But you do resemble someone that I know, who are you?" He scrutinised her, but the softness in those blue orbs had vanished.
"I am Gu Qingyu." Gu Qingyu also calmed down slowly, "But you always called me Xiao Yu'er."
He grabbed her by her chin and spat, "There have been many that tried to approach me with your methods. Leave, before I grow sick of the sight of you."
"Ye Jin, wake up." She was not intimidated by him at all. "Xiao Zhezhe, it's me, Xiao Yu'er. You said you love me."
Ye Jin waved his sleeve and before Gu Qingyu could dodge it, she was set flying through the air.
"Bam!" Someone caught her. She looked up at the person, her eyes met with amber. Clad in the guardsmen's silver-white armour, he was truly her knight in shining armour, always by her side.
Qi Wan landed carefully and sneered at Ye JIn. "Since you pushed her away with your own hands, don't expect her to come running back to you."
"Oh? What not? She is already my concubine." Ye Jin narrowed his eyes, "Emperor Xiqian, your guard does not seem to understand the rules."
Sweat broke from the emperor's brows as he shot up from his throne. "Fool! Someone, throw this insolent servant into the dungeons this very instant!"
Gu Qingyu was horrified. She freed herself from Qi Wan's embrace and shielded him. "Don't you dare!"
The emperor frowned and softened his tone. "Princess, you have to think about the kingdom."
"I see." Gu Qingyu steeled her heart and turned back to Qi Wan. "Let's go."
"Where are you going?" Ye Jin called with a chilly voice.
"To pack. Didn't you ask me to leave with you?" She looked back and gave him a strained smile before pulling Qi Wan along with her and left the hall.
"Tsk tsk tsk, looks that I have my work cut out for me." Xie Li sighed and shook her head.
Xie Zang could not suppress his curiosity and asked again, "Sister, just what happened between you and that girl?"
"Nothing, I've just taken a liking to her, and I want her as my sister-in-law. Don't just stand there, get to work!" She nudged her brother in the ribs.
Xie Zang was still baffled. "Work?" He paused and watched the distant figure step out of the hall. "But...she looks strangely familiar...if only I could remember where had I seen her..." Xie Li only answered with a silent smile.
Gu Qingyu and Qi Wan left the hall and returned to the courtyard. Only after she confirmed that there was no one else around did she let go of his hand and squatted down to the ground with soft sobs. Qi Wan squatted down next to her and patted her back. "Hey, just cry. Cry as much as you want, as loud as you want."
She only whimpered in between her sobs and hiccups, "What...what should I do? He...he doesn't remember me..." She had waited so long to see him again, only to be stabbed through by an emotionless ‘Who are you?’ It was simply too much.
Qi Wan wrapped his arms around her, tucking her head under his chin. "He'll remember you.
"He even called me by my name..." She pressed the heel of her hands into her eyes, but tears continued to pour down her cheeks.
"He will remember who you are, I promise." Qi Wan closed his eyes, it pained him to see her in such distress. "You have to believe in him, there's no way he would forget about you."Previous Chapter Next Chapter