Gu Qingyu gulped as she took in the grand palace in front of her. Just how much money was spent on the building before her? This, this was just too luxurious...
"Xiao Yu'er, do you like it?" Ye Jin asked softly.
Gu Qingyu nodded after a pause. "Yep, I like it!" She liked anything that was from Ye Jin.
"It's all yours." Ye Jin smiled, took her hand and led her into the palace.
His hand was big enough to cover her hand completely, the warmth made her feel settled and safe. She wouldn't mind if the sky was falling, because he was with her.
Ye Jin opened the gates to the main hall, the wind rushed through the giant doors. Gu Qingyu walked in, but Ye Jin stopped just outside with his head hung low. "I'm sorry, Xiao Yu'er, for keeping this from you."
"It's okay." She whispered as her hand reached up to caress his cheek. "It's okay, it doesn't matter anymore." Her dearest person was right in front of her, nothing else mattered.
"Yeah." He joined her in the main hall, and clasped his hands around her hand. "Stay, Xiao Yu'er. Stay here with me, forever."
She flinched, then shook her head.
"You have to find the Spirit Gems, right?"
She nodded in silence.
Ye Jin sighed, lowered his hand, and flicked her forehead. "Fine, do you have any leads?"
"Yeah...It's Yan Yang City, at the edge of Xiqian." Murong Zuoyu was still waiting for them there.
"Yan Yang City? That's a ghost town."
"Ghost town? But Brother Murong is still there."
Ye Jin nodded. "I heard that the city has been abandoned for quite some time, though nothing would happen anytime soon. Although, if the emperor of Xiqian does not send in troops soon, things might take a turn for the worst."
"Then... can you send some troops instead?"
He ruffled her hair affectionately and a loud chuckle escaped his lips. "Of course! Anything for you. It would just take some time for them to move there."
"Thank you." Gu Qingyu was relieved to hear that, then her thoughts drifted to Qi Wan. He said he would be with her, but where was he? She had been attacked in the valley, was he in some sort of danger as well?
"What's the matter? You're gonna get wrinkles if you keep frowning like that." Ye Jin gently pulled her to the side and sat her down. The chair was more akin to a large sofa, it was so soft that she almost sank into it. The softness was relaxing and a little sleep-inducing.
"No, it's just..." Gu Qingyu hesitated. Ye Jin would probably be upset, but she had to ask, "Xiao Zhezhe, can you sense if Qi Wan was in the area?"
"Oh." To her surprise, he did not get upset. Instead, he sat next to her, pulled her into his lap, and closed his eyes in concentration. After a while, he opened his eyes and shook his head confidently. "Nope."
Her entire body grew tense at that discovery. Sensing her change, Ye Jin tightened his arms around her. Her question did leave a sour taste in his mouth, but he reassured her. "Don't worry, I'll send out a search party. We'll find him soon."
"Yeah, thank you." She relaxed in his arms.
"You don't have to thank me. He has helped me take care of you for so long, it's only right that I do something." He explained.
"Hmm..." Gu Qingyu looked out the window, the sun was setting. The sofa was really comfortable and her eyelids were getting heavier by the second.
"Just sleep. Don't worry, everything would be okay." Ye Jin patted her on the back softly.
"Okay..." She stifled a yawn and closed her eyes.
Her dream was dark and cold. The empty expanse stretched for as far as her eyes could see. The past she has experienced only spoke of destruction, a barren wasteland. Who would live to tell the tale? Countless betrayals morphed into everlasting friendships. They would be with her till the end, right?
Gu Qingyu slowly opened her eyes, her legs were still asleep. She squirmed at the discomfort, then realised she was still sitting on Ye Jin's lap. He had sensed her jostle and opened his eyes. "Xiao Yu'er?"
"Yeah." She answered. It had gone completely dark outside, she could no longer tell the time.
"Let's go get something to eat, if you're completely awake." He petted her head affectionately.
"Okay." She agreed and shifted to stand. But her legs gave out the moment they made contact with the floor, they were still covered in pins and needles, and she fell backwards.
Ye Jin got up in an instant and caught her with a smirk. "Are you so happy to be with me that you forgot how to walk?"
"Don't be silly." She rolled her eyes. "My legs fell asleep, that's all."
"Hahaha, you're so cute, my Xiao Yu'er." He laughed, his chest rumbling with the sound. He picked her up and carried her in his arms. "Here, I'll bring you to the dining room."
He opened the door with a kick, then walked down a corridor. Along the way, any servant that saw them dropped to their knees and greeted them. "Your Majesty! Your Highness!"
Ye Jin must have told them to address her as such… A pink flush crept up her face and left her cheeks burning from embarrassment, she turned and buried her face in his chest.
Wait, speaking of…
"Xiao Zhezhe, are you an emperor? Is this an actual country?" She blinked and looked at Ye Jin with confusion.
Ye Jin tilted down and spoke right next to her ears, his blue eyes warmed by the glowing lanterns that lit the palace. "A country, or the world. Anything you want it to be, all of this belongs to you either way."
Gu Qingyu's face reddened again. "I, I didn't mean that..."
"Haha, I know." Ye Jin laughed loudly again,he was clearly having fun teasing her. The maidservants and soldiers were all gobsmacked. They had never seen their emperor this cheery before. Whoever the new empress was, she must be incredible. They had better get in her good graces soon.
Gu Qingyu, who was oblivious to their plans, glared at Ye Jin. "Hey, stop laughing!"
"Hahaha, okay, I'll stop." It took him a while to calm down, but a mischievous twinkle remained in his eyes. "You're really cute, Xiao Yu'er."
"Hmph!" She turned away with a pout.
Gu Qingyu took in a sharp breath when they finally arrived at the "dining room". The decorations were very extravagant as well.
"What's the matter, Xiao Yu'er?" Ye Jin set her down in a chair, then took a seat next to her. He clapped twice, the servants immediately began to serve plate after plate of delicacy.
"Nothing..." Her eyes sparkled as her mouth began to water.
Ye Jin couldn't help but laugh again at the sight of her gluttonous face. "Go ahead, dig in!"
She grabbed her chopsticks without a moment's delay and just like he said, dug in. He poured a bowl of soup for her as she practically inhaled her food. "Slow down, remember to chew. Say, do you want to get married? I can have everything ready the day after tomorrow."
He said that so casually, it had nearly missed her. And when she finally processed it, she choked on her food and entered a coughing fit.
Ye Jin immediately gave her a spoonful of soup, then patted her back gently. "See, I told you. Slow down."
"What did you just say? Get married?" Her eyes were as wide as saucers.
"Yeah," Ye Jin smiled calmly. "Why, do you not want to marry me?"
"No, no, no!" She shook her head immediately. "I would, maybe, one day perhaps like to get married. Preferably with you. But now? It's just-don't you think it's too soon?" She was so shocked that she almost choked to death.
"No, the day after tomorrow. There's still a day to get used to it." He ruffled her hair while grinning from ear to ear. "Beside, we've been together for so long. Are you not used to me yet?"
"No, it's not..." Gu Qing said hurriedly, "It's just...it's just a little sudden...I don't...nothing..."
"That's good." Ye Jin smiled and put down the bowl of soup in his hands. "Eat, or they're gonna go cold soon."
"Y-yeah." She picked up her chopsticks again and tried to ignore her burning face.
Marriage. That had always felt really far away. She had never thought about it, neither in her old life or in this new life. For a period of time, she was even convinced that she was gonna grow old and die alone. And now that she had found someone she really loves, it did make sense.
She had the impression that when women get married, they also get older really quickly, and suddenly become really domestic. Was that just a stereotype? But based on her understanding of married life, it was doing chores all day, cooking near mealtimes, then fetching the kids when school ends, and chatting with the neighbours whenever they meet, comparing their kids' results. Rinse and repeat that for 40 to 60 years, until she dies. The thought of living like that made her sigh.
"Pfft!" Ye Jin's laugh snapped her out of her rollercoaster of thoughts. He flicked her forehead again. "What are you thinking? It's just getting married. I just want the world to know that you're my wife, that's all."
Wife. Oh, so he just wanted to scream to the world, "That's my wife!" The thought warmed her heart. She would not be his concubine, or his queen, just his wife. It was a simple, plain title, but it felt the closest to his heart.
"Yeah!" Gu Qingyu smiled and nodded, "I see."
"Xiao Yu'er, I will give you a wedding the likes the world has never seen." Ye Jin vowed.
"I'll wait and see." Her eyes were distant because she was looking at their future together.
You will stay with me forever, right?
Fate will never be able to separate two people who truly love each other. Because both of them would work towards their happiness together, not even fate can stand in their way. He's trying his best to protect their hard-earned happiness, she needed to play her part as well. She had been working towards her goal to stand beside him, someday. That day was sooner than she expected but she was almost there. Almost, she can almost feel those words on her tongue. "I've finally caught up to you. You're really strong, but I'm just as strong as you."Previous Chapter Next Chapter