Gu Qingyu raised her brows slightly. It looked like Leng Xuanyu was not going to attack them anymore. She slowly exhaled and shrank back to her human form. The general and his army remained on their knees, without any intention to get up. After a long pause, Gu Qingyu gestured for them to stand. "Just get up and we can talk."
"Yes." Leng Xuanyu stood up with poise, his army followed suit.
Gu Qingyu glanced between Ye Jin and Leng Xuanyu, the former was still glaring daggers at the latter. "Can-can we go back first?"
Leng Xuanyu frowned slightly. "May I ask, why you are with our enemy?"
Gu Qingyu returned his query with a different question. "What is the definition of an enemy?"
"Whoever invades our country and takes our cities." Leng Xuanyu answered without a moment's hesitation. Gu Qingyu glanced at Ye Jin with a slight frown. She never wanted to get involved with his political dealings, but if she doesn't intervene, it would be very difficult to talk Leng Xuanyu down from fighting them.
"I can agree to stop my invasion into Xiqian, for the sake of my betrothed." Ye Jin placed his arm along the curve of her waist as he watched the general with care. "Would that be satisfactory, General Leng?"
Leng Xuanyu flinched in shock, then his lips tightened to a thin line in displeasure. "Of course. Although when has the great Divine Beast of Xiqian become your betrothed?"
"You handed her over, of course." Ye Jin replied snarkily, then turned to Gu Qingyu. "The wedding would be held tomorrow, you are cordially invited to attend the ceremony."
This announcement unsettled the army around them, the soldiers discussed among themselves with hushed whispers. Leng Xuanyu glanced behind at the sound of the whispering, but he did not chastise them. The Divine Beast of Xiqian marrying the emperor of their opposing country was baffling, to say the least. Gu Qingyu sighed at the commotion. "General Leng, you can't just trap divine beasts, you know? We have our freedom too. We can protect a country, but that's because we choose to. We are not bound to it. If that were really the case, how am I supposed to sit down with the other divine beasts for a good game of mahjong, right? The apocalypse would be here by now!"
Leng Xuanyu cleared his throat. She did make a point. But, the concept of mahjong eluded him. He had never heard of anything like it, despite being well-traveled. Perhaps he had lost touch with the latest trends due to his preoccupations with the war.
"Okay, we'll go first then." Gu Qingyu wrapped her fingers around Ye Jin's hand as she waved at General Leng, bidding him goodbye. A smile tugged at her lips, followed by a surge of pain in her bones. It must be from Suzaku's drugs. Gosh, she was really heavy-handed with it.
Ye Jin held her by her shoulders when he noticed her clammy hands. "Are you alright, Xiao Yu'er?"
Before she could finish her sentence, everything faded to black and she lost consciousness again. It seemed that fainting was an ongoing trend for her. She could almost hear his anxious voice calling out to her as her mind slipped away. "Xiao Yu'er! Xiao Yu'er!"
If she could, she would tell him that she was fine, there was nothing to worry about. Even the faintest smile would do, just to reassure him a little. But even then, her body betrayed her as she collapsed like a marionette that had lost its strings.
The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes again was the intricate wooden carvings along the bed's canopy. Her right hand was oddly warm, she tilted her head a little to make sense of the sensation. Ye Jin was holding her hand as he rested his head on the edge of the bed, his brows were furrowed, and he held onto her even in his sleep. He must have dozed off as he waited for her to wake up. That must have been terribly long for such a light sleeper like him to fall asleep in such an uncomfortable position. She sighed softly. That sound was enough to wake Ye Jin, he lifted his head slightly and looked at her, still half asleep. "Xiao Yu'er?"
"Uh-huh." She answered as best as she could, her guilt had formed a lump in her throat.
"You're awake? Oh good, you're finally awake..." He mumbled and sat up, then he reached for a bowl that had been left on her bedside table. "Here, take your medicine first."
"What is this for?" She glanced at the bowl.
"You are too frail. It's something to strengthen your constitution." He answered with a worried sigh.
"Too frail?" Gu Qingyu was a little surprised.
Ye Jin nodded.
"So what did Suzaku give me?"
"It was supposed to refine your powers and increase your stamina. But the medicinal properties were too potent for your weakened body to handle, and overloaded your system instead."
She coughed incredulously. Essentially, Suzaku tried to forcibly increase her stats with a really potent all stats boost, but because of her weakened state, it knocked her out instead. What sort of logic was that?
"Alright, here. It'll help you feel better." Ye Jin scooped a spoonful, gently blew on it to cool it, then held it against her lips. "It won't burn you now."
She drank the spoonful obediently, and let him feed her spoonful by spoonful until she finished the bowl of medicine. "So, um...how long was I out?"
"Three days." Ye Jin pursed his lips.
Gu Qingyu twisted her lips. "Where is Qi Yichen?"
As soon as that sentence left her tongue, she heard Qi Yichen's voice from outside the room. "Xiao~ Qing~ Qing~ You asked for me the moment you woke up, were you thinking of me all this time?"
Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I have been thinking about how to get rid of you this whole time."
"The first half of your sentence was enough~" Qi Yichen pushed open the door with a broad smile and a waving fan.
Ye Jin looked at Qi Yichen with narrowed eyes. "I ought to teach you a lesson."
"Huh? Lesson?" Gu Qingyu was taken aback, and looked at Ye Jin, "Did you write on his fan too?" She reflexively looked at Qi Yichen's fan, again with a bewildered expression, "But there's nothing there!"
Qi Yichen was confused by her. "Qingyu, why did you think of the fan?"
Gu Qingyu retorted, "Can you stand someone doodling all over your fan?"
Qi Yichen looked at Gu Qingyu with horror, then bit his bottom lip in anguish. "Oh, only you would think of such a cruel method!"
"Ahahaha, that's..." She laughed.
Ye Jin stroked her head, slightly speechless. "Xiao Yu'er, you just woke up. Don't overexert yourself."
"Oh, okay." Gu Qingyu pouted slightly and turned her attention back to Qi Yichen. "By the way, how did you know that the White Tiger would work against them?"
"Ah, I've always had an interest in history and classic literature. Many of the historical texts in Xiqian mentioned that the four great nations, Dongxuan, Xiqian, Nanyou and Beiying each had their own divine beast that protected their land and its people. The four of them together helped to balance the nations. Thus the people worshipped these beings as if they were gods."
"Oh~ no wonder! Then the White Tiger must be Xiqian's divine beast!"
"Indeed." The scholar paused, then with a flick of his wrist, opened his fan again as he grinned from ear to ear. "Now then, Xiao Qingqing. What do you have to call me? Dad, right?" All of them had spent a long time with Gu Qingyu and Qi Wan, and thus were familiar with the word "Dad". Qi Qingyu, that name does have a ring to it.
"Dream on." Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. Then, she suddenly remembered something. She had been unconscious for three days, that meant that... She started apologetically, "Xiao Zhezhe, our..."
Ye Jin immediately understood what she wanted to say. He smiled, and pulled her into his arms. "It's okay, we've just postponed it for a while."
"Postponed what?" Qi Yichen looked at Gu Qingyu curiously.
"Our wedding. We're getting married." Before Gu Qingyu could speak, Ye Jin glanced at Qi Yichen and answered on her behalf.
"Qing...Qingyu, is that true?"
"Yeah, of course it's true." She nodded and looked at Qi Yichen, "What's the matter?"
"Xiao Qingqing, how can you marry someone without telling your dad!" He looked hurt.
"Dad, I already told mom. Didn't she tell you?" Gu Qingyu returned with a jab.
Qi Yichen cringed, "Who?"
"Qi Wan~" Gu Qingyu laughed. But that laughter faded when she remembered the last time she saw him. It must have been a week by now. She asked Qi Yichen solemnly, "Have you seen him?"
"He? Isn't he with you?" Qi Yichen blinked and looked very puzzled. "Knowing him, he would be scouring the land to find you as soon as possible. You know how much he freaks out when you get caught in any sort of trouble."
His seemingly unintentional words caused her to go silent as guilt and worry settled in her stomach. She looked down at her hands. "Yes, but I think I lost him."
Ye Jin hugged her tightly and did not speak. She knew from his silent embrace that he too does not have any news of Qi Wan's whereabouts. Where did he go? Even Ye Jin could not find him, he could not just vanish into thin air. What if he had already gone back to their time, to the modern world?
Gu Qingyu willed herself to stay away from that rabbit hole and closed her eyes. As soon as she closed his eyes, Qi Wan's handsome and cheerful face immediately appeared in her mind's eye.
His every frown and smile, his voice and laughter. Every quip and banter they had.
His voice echoed in her mind, "Boss, boss..." It was a title unique to both of them, built from a language that only the two of them understood in this time, and only meant for each other's ears. It was something that could only be shared between them.
She was also hoping that they could find him in time for the wedding. She doesn't have any actual family here. Even if she tried to count the Gu family, the only person that treated her well enough to be considered family, her mother, was already dead. The other closest person to that would be Qi Wan. After all, he came with her to this world. So by that definition, he could be part of the bride's family. It seemed like a stretch, but it was her genuine feelings.
Qi Wan, please, stay safe. Don't leave me all alone here.
Ye Jin gently stroked her head. "Don't worry, Xiao Yu'er. We'll go find him, starting tomorrow."
"Yeah. With Brother Jia's current influence, we'll find him in no time." Even Qi Yichen comforted her.
"Okay," Gu Qingyu nodded. Qi Yichen was dressed in his usual white robes, but the sight of them reminded her of Yan Ruhuo instead.Previous Chapter Next Chapter