Gu Qingyu responded well to the compliment. "Oh, of course. Talented people like me are one in a million!"
"Indeed, my dear. I will take heed and treasure such talent."
"Hmm!" She smiled brightly, her heart felt as sweet as the fragrant flowers that surrounded her.
"Xiao Yu'er, let's go." Ye Jin took Gu Qingyu's hand and walked deeper into the garden. She agreed with a silent nod.
Suddenly, the ground began to tremble beneath their feet. She panicked and grabbed onto Ye Jin in that instant. "Xiao Zhezhe!"
"I'm here." His voice reassured and calmed her.
A sharp screeching sent her ears ringing and made her clasp her hand over her ears as she tried to drown out the noise. But it was not enough, the screeching continued and a headache consumed her.
"Xiao Yu'er, what's wrong?" He held her hand with worry.
"Xiao Zhezhe..." Gu Qingyu could not even hear her own voice. "Can't you hear?"
"Oh no, it's targeted at you!" He cradled her in his arms and tried to spot the oncoming threat. "Don't worry, I'm right here."
The screeching was getting louder and louder, her head felt like it was going to split open. She could not hold on any longer and fainted. As her conciseness slowly faded, there was a distinct feeling that someone was right beside her.
Darkness surrounded Gu QIngyu when she opened her eyes again. She was lying on a cold stone floor, her strength was sapped dry. She pushed herself up, holding herself up by her elbows and was surprised to find that she was lying right in front of a giant glowing crystal. Something, no, someone was encased in the clear crystal. She blinked a few times for her eyes to readjust. A naked man was encased in the crystal, his hair spread out around him while he was frozen in place. It was Qi Yichen.
"He's perfect." A voice murmured behind her. "Intelligent, unresentful. He has even given up on any unrealistic ambitions, romance or otherwise. It's rare to see such a perfectly empty vessel."
Gu Qingyu looked in the direction of the voice. A woman in a gold dress was seated on a stone. They were in a dark cave, the crystal was the only light source, it glowed with a steady white pulse.
"Hello, White Tiger." The lady smiled at Gu Qingyu. "Allow me to introduce myself, I'm the Vermillion Bird, you can call me Suzaku."
The Vermillion Bird should be another one of the Divine Beasts. "Why... did you capture him?" Gu Qingyu hoisted herself to her feet, her eyes remained firmly on the lady.
"Capture?" Suzaku blinked, looking a little puzzled, "I didn't capture him, he showed up right outside of my house. And he had been unconscious for weeks, without an ounce of magic in his system. But he is such a good vessel that I couldn't just toss him, so I'm helping him fulfill his life's true value." She hopped off the stone and circled around Gu Qingyu. "Although, the strength of the White Tiger is truly remarkable. You can stand already, the anesthetic was supposed to knock you out for a few more hours."
"What is that vessel for? Why did you bring me here?" Gu Qingyu asked further. She tried to concentrate and gather her powers, but her bones tingled with pain when she tried.
"Don't try to use your powers, it's useless." She glanced at her lazily. "He would be a great vessel to brew medicine, and you hold the last ingredient."
"Ingredient?" Gu Qingyu's eyes darkened.
Suzaku beamed in response. "Yes, the six Spirit Gems would suffice."
"Oh wow, that was a bold request." Gu Qingyu sighed and shook her head before turning to Qi Yichen. He was as pale as a ghost, without a trace of life in his skin. His brows were slightly furrowed.
"You can choose to give it to me, or I can help myself to it." The lady chuckled. "Oh, and your friend is held up by something."
Gu Qingyu was growing more flustered by the minute. "What do you really want?"
"Huh? Am I not clear enough? I want the Spirit Gems. And it would be great if I could get your powers along with it."
"Hmph, dream on." Gu Qingyu scoffed.
Suddenly, blue light suddenly appeared in a certain place in the cave. Suzaku paled and she turned around, intercepting the blue light. A flaming shield formed in her hands and collided with the blue light. White rays of light burst from the collision, lighting up the cave.
"Xiao Zhezhe!" Gu Qingyu screamed.
"Xiao Yu'er." He answered as he swung Ghost Howl with another strike. The fire shield in Suzaku's hand turned into a flaming sword instead as she blocked that attack.
Taking advantage of this distraction, Gu Qingyu hobbled to the crystal. The icy air from the crystal made her skin crawl. Her finger lightly touched the crystal, and Qi Yichen miraculously opened his eyes.
"Qi... Yichen..." Tears swelled in her eyes. In her impression, Qi Yichen was what happened when a scoundrel and a scholar merged together. Flamboyant, mischievous yet witty and intelligent. Qi Yichen closed his eyes and wriggled his fingers slightly. He was struggling to move.
"I'll free you right now!" Gu Qingyu gritted her teeth, bear the pain in her bones as she concentrated her powers to her fist and punched the crystal.
Suzaku panicked and yelled, "No, don't!"
The crystal shattered into iridescent shards and scattered across the cave. Qi Yichen tumbled from the broken crystal, Gu Qingyu caught him immediately. He coughed weakly and opened his eyes:. "Brother Zhu..."
"Qi Yichen, how do you feel?" She asked, taking off her outermost robe and gently draping it across his shoulders.
"Bad." Qi Yichen pouted, leaning against her arms, his voice was just a whisper. "I feel horrible, Brother Zhu."
"Where?" Gu Qingyu asked immediately.
"You idiot!" Suzaku dodged the attack from Ye Jin and glared at Gu Qingyu with watery eyes. "I was trying to help him restore his powers!"
"Huh? You weren't trying to kill him?"
"Have you ever seen anyone put in this much effort to kill someone?" Suzaku stomped in exasperation.
"Uh..." She has met someone like that.
Gu Qingyu asked again. "Then why do you want the Spirit Gems, and my powers?"
"I just wanted to borrow them, you dimwit! It's just to help him restore his powers, I'll return them as soon as I'm done!" She dragged her finger over her face in despair. "You've ruined everything, everything!"
"Why do you want to help him anyway?" Gu Qingyu followed her curiosity and asked. Suzaku had good intentions, she should not have jumped to conclusions like that.
Suzaku looked at Gu Qingyu and said matter-of-factly. "Because I like him."
Gu Qingyu turned to Qi Yichen with eyes as wide as saucers. The scoundrel scholar looked at Suzaku with a dazed expression. "Miss, have we met before?"
"No!" Suzaku shook her head, without a trace of disappointment, and smiled contentedly, "It's okay. I've already finished the basics, at least you can start using your powers again. And we enhance your physical strength with other methods. It's just a shame that we could not increase your power and push them to the next level."
Ye Jin watched Gu Qingyu holding Qi Yichen from the side. Although he was unhappy, he knew Gu Qingyu's character. She was very protective of her friends, and Qi Yichen was an important friend to her. But it still annoyed him! He had a sudden urge to smack Qi Yichen topside.
"Uh..." Gu Qingyu looked at Suzaku, "You like to help people?"
"Why do you ask?" Suzaku was puzzled.
"Then...you're too full of kindness?" Gu Qingyu changed her words.
"Is that so obvious?" Suzaku was taken aback.
"Or...did you hit your head too hard?" Gu Qingyu continued to ask.
Suzaku finally understood Gu Qingyu's chain of questions and she replied with a harsh glare. "You're the one that hit their head too hard!"
"Hey, don't say that. Love and peace, right?" Gu Qingyu tried to appease her. "So, Miss Suzaku, why do you wish to save Qi Yichen?"
"I've already told you, I like him!" She was losing her patience.
"He has not even seen you before..." Gu Qingyu held Qi Yichen with one arm and supported her forehead with the other. Her worldview had been subverted yet again. Suzaku was completely smitten with Qi Yichen, for reasons that just eluded her. Trying to understand how someone could fall in love with a person that they have never met before was just too much for her.
"Miss, I'm sorry. Do not dwell on me." Qi Yichen sighed, "I've already given my heart to someone else."
Suzaku froze, she did not believe him at all. "Who?"
Gu Qingyu knew he must be referring to Qi Wan and sighed as well. Right then, Qi Yichen's lips curled into a smirk. His arms coiled around Gu Qingyu's neck as he pulled himself up and pressed his soft lips against her cheek. "It's Qingyu, of course!"
Both Gu Qingyu and Suzaku froze with shock.
Ye Jin reacted instead. He grabbed Qi Yichen by the collar and hoisted him into the air. "Say that again, I dare you."
"I like Qingyu." Qi Yichen declared as he met Ye Jin's piercing glare with unflinching eyes. Gu Qingyu did not know how to react. Either Qi Yichen was messing with them, or he was into both guys and girls!
"Oh, you're quite charming." Suzaku turned to Gu Qingyu.
"Thank you for the compliment." Gu Qingyu turned to look at Ye Jin instead. Her fiancé looked as though he was about to explode. "Um, Xiao Zhezhe, calm down..."
Ye Jin looked at Qi Yichen and laughed incredulously. "Calm down? How can you ask me to calm down! He just kissed you! This man just kissed my fiancé! I'm just calm enough that I haven't skinned him yet!"
"Xiao Zhezhe, um" Gu Qingyu looked at Qi Yichen, this guy was still looking at her with dreamy eyes. "I... I'll help you strangle him!"
The dreamy look in his eyes vanished. "Qingyu. You're serious?"
Gu Qingyu took out a ribbon from her sleeve without breaking eye contact with her new prey. "Do I look like I'm joking?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter