Chapter 24: A Gift

Gu Qingyu leaned over immediately in curiosity. “What’s that?” 

It was a water bag. 

“Eighty coins.” An old lady replied. 

Jia Qizhe frowned. “So expensive?” 

“Young mister, I can tell from one look that you don’t come here often!” The shopkeeper nagged. “Let me tell you, my goods are the best and cheapest in this entire street!”

“Best?” Gu Qingyu picked out a random water bag. “This is the best? Seriously, look at this water bag. Just one touch and you can tell what flimsy material it’s made from! Look at it!” 

She brought the water bag closer to the shopkeeper. “Take a good look! This can be sold for eighty coins?” 

She tossed the water bag back to the shopkeeper and grabbed Jia Qizhe. “We would rather pay more and get better quality bags! Brother Jia, let’s go!”

“Sigh, you…” The shopkeeper seemed slightly less confident. “How could you…”

Gu Qingyu pulled Jia Qizhe along and walked away. “Let’s go tell other people not to buy from here. Gogogo…”

The shopkeeper gritted her teeth. “Hold it! Fifty coins!”

“Thirty coins.” Gu Qingyu took a step back.

Jia Qizhe remained expressionless. “Twenty coins.”

Oh my! He drives a hard bargain!

The shopkeeper glared. “You...Oh well, twenty coins it is, just count it as my loss. Don’t come here again!”

“Ok!” Gu Qingyu laughed internally. Yes! We won’t be coming back to the city anyway! “Thank you!”

Jia Qizhe looked at Gu Qingyu, he was impressed, which made Gu Qingyu even more pleased. They continued their shopping spree. bargaining and haggling along the way. Before long, they’ve cleared the list, most of the things were held by Jia Qizhe. Pretty much all of these were purchased by Gu Qingyu at a ridiculously low price, so they had some money left over.

Jia Qizhe’s lips curled into a smile. “I never could tell, you’re quite useful when out shopping.”

“Of course, do I need to remind you who I am?” Gu Qingyu just wanted to return back to the tavern. “Come on, hurry up!”

“Why the rush?” Jia Qizhe seemed curious for the first time.

Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. “Silly, I got Qi Yichen to buy me food. What if it's meat buns or roasted chestnuts? They will be cold by the time we get back.”

Jia Qizhe, who was walking in front, stopped in his tracks. Gu Qingyu failed to react in time and slammed into him.

“Ow!” She rubbed her head. “What are you doing?”

He whipped around and stared into Gu Qingyu's eyes. 

“W-What?” For some reason, Gu Qingyu felt guilty, an indescribable sense of guilt.

Jia Qizhe said very seriously. “I’m hungry.”

“Huh?” Gu Qingyu tilted her head, surprised. “What? Are you crazy?”

“I’m hungry.” Jia Qizhe repeated. “Let’s have some meat buns.”

Gu Qingyu looked at him in disbelief. “Really?”

Jia Qizhe nodded and walked to a bun stall. “Shopkeeper, five meat buns please.”

Five? Jia Qizhe took the meat buns and passed the whole bag to Gu Qingyu. “Take it.”

Oh! Jia Qizhe was not hungry, he only said that to buy these for me! Aw... since he was so sweet, I should just forgive him! Although, he did not seem to have done anything that warrants forgiveness. 

Gu Qingyu nodded as she took the bag from Jia Qizhe’s hands. Then she took out two buns, then passed one to Jia Qizhe, “Here.”

Jia Qizhe looked at her, puzzled. His hand remained at his side. 

“Hey, weren’t you hungry?” Gu Qingyu looked and smiled at him. “Just eat one.” Jia Qizhe bought these for her, it’s only polite that she shares it with him.  

Jia Qizhe took the meat bun. “Thank you.”

“You're welcomed!” Gu Qingyu looked at the steaming meat bun, then took a huge bite.

Jia Qizhe suddenly walked to Gu Qingyu’s side, then started rummaging through his bag, all while holding the meat bun with his teeth. Gu Qingyu stared at him in puzzlement. But...Jia Qizhe looked quite cute like this, his cheeks were swollen with the meat bun in his mouth. After a while, he pulled out something.

“This is…” Gu Qingyu stared at the item. It was a beautiful pastel blue ribbon.

Jia Qizhe circled behind Gu Qingyu, and started to do something to Gu Qingyu’s hair. Gu Qingyu wanted to fidget but she willed herself to stay still, worried that she would mess up her ‘handsome’ hair. She asked. “Hey, Jia Qizhe, what are you doing?”

Jia Qizhe finally stopped after a while. He walked back in front of Gu Qingyu, as if admiring a work of art. Gu Qingyu pulled out a mirror, which they’ve bought at a fraction of the price, from her bag and checked her reflection. The blue ribbon wrapped around a portion of her hair, holding it neatly with a pretty butterfly bow. Gu Qingyu eyed Jia Qizhe suspiciously. “For me?”

“Yeah, well…” Jia Qizhe said hesitantly. “I wanted to get the yellow earrings or that bracelet from earlier. But, well, your current look doesn’t really go well with those. S-So I bought this ribbon for you...Take it as your reward for today.” He rambled. 

 “Pff!” Gu Qingyu burst out laughing. “Right, sure, thank you..” 

Now that I mention it, this is the first time I see Jia Qizhe like this…

 “...” Jia Qizhe smiled too and walked forward. The evening light stretched out their shadows, the silhouette of the pair trailed behind them as they walked back to the tavern.  

“Hey, Jia Qizhe! Don’t walk so fast, wait for me!”

They soon reached the tavern. Gu Qingyu walked in and saw the others have taken their seat at the table, with a scrumptious meal. 

“Huh?’ Gu Qingyu was surprised. “You’ve already ordered?!”

“Yeah, we’re just waiting for you.” Murong Zuoyu kept being cool.

“Huh?” Gu Qingyu sat down. “How were you guys so fast?” 

“Because our missions were easier.” Qi Yichen smiled. “Let’s eat!”

Gu Qingyu scratched her head. “I…” Burp!

“Brother Zhu, what happened to you?” Mo Bai looked especially worried. “Anything wrong? Why did you just burp?”

“I…” Gu Qingyu stroked her head. What could she say? Tell them that she just ate four meat buns so she could not eat anymore? 

“Haha, I could be… a bit sick! Yeap, I feel really queasy! I'm just gonna go up and rest for a bit!” Even she could not believe her own lie.

“Then…do you still want dinner?” Mo Bai looked at her worriedly. “How about just eating a bit first?”

Gu Qingyu shook her head vehemently. “Nono, thank you, Mo Bai!” 

After those words, she fled up the stairs. For some reason, lying to Mo Bai left her with so much guilt...As if her heart could not take the sheer burden of it. Looking at Mo Bai’s gentle smile, deceiving him is like a sin to herself too.

Gu Qingyu laid on her bed, resting her arm under her head as she stared at the ceiling. Suddenly, the door was gently pushed open, Gu Qingyu followed the slight creak of the door, it was Mo Bai.

“Mo Bai?” Gu Qingyu sat up, surprised, “Why are you here?”

“Sorry,” Mo Bai gently smiled, “You didn’t reply when I knocked, so I got worried and barged on my own.”

“Ah, it’s okay.” Gu Qingyu looked at Mo Bai, “What is it?”

Mo Bai took out a pouch of herbs from his sleeve. “Miss Gu, these are herbs that aid in digestion, you can eat these directly… Also, whatever Miss Gu ate before might not be enough, so I brought up some food as well.” He placed the pouch on the table, along with a small bowl of rice and some other dishes.

Ah...Actually, Mo Bai already saw through her white lie…When nobody was around, he went back to address her as ‘Miss Gu’.

“Thank you.” Gu Qingyu knew she couldn’t deceive Mo Bai. She walked up to the table, “Mo Bai, you’re the only one that knows me so well.”

“You’re welcome.” Mo Bai bowed. “Then I’ll go first, okay?” 

“Ok!” Gu Qingyu nodded. “Ciao!”

“Ciao!” Mo Bai smiled and kindly closed the door.

“Hehe!” Gu Qingyu sat down and picked up her chopsticks excitedly. She was truly a huge foodie. 

Someone knocked. “Come in!” Gu Qingyu’s mouth was stuffed with food. “Yum, so good!”

It was Murong Zuoyu, he looked at Gu Qingyu. “You’re...eating while being full?”

“I guess.” Gu Qingyu ignored him and kept eating. Murong Zuoyu said nothing and just stared at her.

 His intense gaze caused Gu Qingyu to break into a cold sweat. “Um… Why don’t you join me?”

“Ha.” Murong Zuoyu actually laughed. “I am not a pig.”

He is implying that I’m a pig? What the hell! To actually call a girl a pig, right in front of her! Wait, Murong Zuoyu doesn’t seem to know she is a girl...

“Fine, fine” Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes in annoyance. Ignore him, just keep eating.

Murong Zuoyu continued to stare at Gu Qingyu as he leaned against the wall, without a word. Gu Qingyu gave him a suspicious look, then went back to her food and paid no attention to him. But Gu Qingyu quickly found she could not eat anymore. Really, her appetite was very different after eating four meat buns. 

She raised her head, then found Murong Zuoyu was still staring at her, with an elusive smile.

“What are you up to?” Gu Qingyu suddenly had a bad feeling. 

He got closer to Gu Qingyu...Gu Qingyu only felt a powerful aura. It spun around her, suppressed her powers and kept her immobile. Murong Zuoyu looked at her, seemed to be admiring her changing expression. After a while, he said quietly, “You have something at the corner of your mouth.”

Damn! Turns out he was just messing with me!

Gu Qingyu turned away in a huff. But she could not deny it, Murong Zuoyu was really powerful.

“Are you scared of me?” Murong Zuoyu narrowed his fiery eyes.

Gu Qingyu raised her eyebrows and acknowledged it. “Yeah, quite.” 

She didn’t wait for Murong Zuoyu to reply and carried on. “Hey, can you not talk in that tone? Normal people would freak out with that tone!”

“What is that to me?” Murong Zuoyu was successfully led off-topic. “I usually visit places outside the palace in casual clothes, quite a few people recognised me.”

Gu Qingyu fired back. “Recognise you? The cold and callous Duke?”

Murong Zuoyu frowned, spoke coldly. “You…” Surprisingly, he went quiet in an instant.

“What are you guys talking about?” Qi Yichen appeared at the doorway.

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