Late at night
Gu Qingyu and Jia Qizhe infiltrated the palace to get a sense of the layout.
"You know, this place is huge." Gu Qingyu scanned the palace from the rooftops. "Guess it's really a palace."
There are four countries in this continent, and she has been to three of them already, and visited each of their palaces? Not bad, Gu Qingyu, not bad.
"Yeah." Jia Qizhe nodded as he watched her with a half-smile. "It's so big."
Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes. "Envious?"
"No, I have nothing to be envious of." Jia Qizhe actually said the truth, "You will know the reason later."
"Why? Are you an Emperor in some country as well?" Gu Qingyu teased him.
"No, I'm not." Jia Qizhe shook his head. "But I'm not sure about the rest, especially that pretty face."
I know you don't like him, you don't have to be so obvious about it. Gu Qingyu drew her lips into a tight line. "Ok, whatever. Let's finish what we came here for, we'll split up."
"Okay." Jia Qizhe tilted his head slightly.
"Then..." Gu Qingyu looked to her side, but Jia Qizhe had already gone off.
Wow, talk about moving like a shadow. Me, on the other hand... Gu Qingyu let out a soft sigh, called out her cat demon ears and tail, then jumped down from the roof.
She kept to the shadows and avoided the patrolling soldiers, her heart pounded against her chest as she explored the palace. Then, a daring idea came into her mind, she might as well visit the King and the Prime Minister's private chambers.
With silent steps, Gu Qingyu arrived at the most heavily-guarded chamber in the palace. She leaped up to the roof and laid flat against the tiles. And then with bated breath, she lifted up a single tile and looked down. The room below her was covered in the gold. A man in a dragon robe sat in the center of the room, his whole body sank into the cushy chair. In his arms was someone dressed in white. Based on the silhouette, it was clear that the person in white was a man. Something about that man felt familiar to her, but she could not see his face. That man had buried his face in the King's chest.
Wow, I had actually guessed right. The King of Xiqian and the Prime Minister are lovers. Qi Yichen will be speechless once he finds out.
She watched as the Prime Minister slowly raised his head. Her mind went blank when she finally saw that man's face. That's Qi Yichen! Does that mean that the Prime Minister of Xiqian, who was rumored to be super upstanding and extra mysterious, practically an immortal sage, is Qi Yichen? That is nothing like the Qi Yichen I know! The Qi Yichen I know is careless, gruff, spends way too much time pretending to be cool.
She was still reeling in shock when Qi Yichen flashed a smile at her as he wrapped his arms around the King's neck. That smile was different from his usual cheerfulness. Instead, it was sinister and wicked. It was difficult to imagine a person like Qi Yichen would ever have that kind of expression. In that moment, he looked like a fox that, after a long chase, had finally caught its prey. The world in front of her eyes faded to black, her strength left her body and she fainted. The last thing she saw was that unsettling grin on Qi Yichen's face.
When she opened her eyes again, she was in some dark and damp place. Iron bars were in front of her, she seemed to be locked somewhere. She could hear rats squeaking and scurrying about in the walls. A moldy stench filled the air. She suddenly recalled what she saw before she fainted. Qi Yichen, in the arms of the King of Xiqian, smiled at her.
No one would have thought that Qi Yichen would be the Prime Minister of Xiqian. So, Qi Yichen, who is the most harmless-looking in the entire team, who could only hold up a shield in the beginning, is the legendary Prime Minister of Xiqian?
She knew that everyone must have some interesting backstory or influential identities and that they were all after the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny and the Spirit Gems. But the sudden betrayal still stung badly. Although, it would not be a betrayal if they were never on her side.
Her arms dangled above her head, everything felt heavy and stiff. She tried to move her arms a little, a rattling filled the air instead. It was the sound of chains. She was bound in chains. Gu Qingyu stared at the empty corridor outside her cell. Jia Qizhe, where are you...
The sound of steady footsteps drew close. Qi Yichen's face appeared in front of her, and beyond the iron bars, he smiled and waved his fan as usual. "Are you comfortable, Brother Zhu?"
Gu Qingyu returned with a smile. "No, I'm not comfortable. It would help if you loosened my chains a little."
Qi Yichen raised his eyebrows and waved his fan. The chain on her body disappeared without a trace.
But there was a feeling of powerlessness on her body. And without the support of the chains, she slid down the wall and slumped to the floor.
"Thanks." Gu Qingyu gave a strained smile as she gently rolled her stiff shoulders.
She froze when she was about to call Yan Zun. To make matters worse, she found that the Spirit Gems on her were missing, along with the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny.
"What are you looking for?" Qi Yichen closed the fan. "Brother Zhu, if you promise that from now on, you will not seek the Spirit Gems and the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny. Then, on the account of our past friendship, I might let you go, "
Gu Qingyu chuckled. "Sure."
"You're such a clever person, Brother Zhu. Even I have trouble reading you sometimes." The smile on Qi Yichen's face gradually disappeared. "So, it's better to cut the problem at its roots."
His fan flew out of his hands and headed straight towards Gu Qingyu.
Gu Qingyu's Soul Chain came to life automatically and defended its owner with a swift flick. Qi Yichen's fan was easily deflected. The fan kept flying, it circled around Gu Qingyu before it returned to Qi Yichen's hand.
"You still have strength to defend..." Qi Yichen narrowed his eyes slightly. Gu Qingyu smiled and slowly but surely, she stood up under his gaze. He stared at her incredulously. "How could it be..." He had locked her body by her acupoints, and his energy should have drained her of all her strength, how could she still stand?
Gu Qingyu only felt that her eyes were a little sore. She closed her eyes slightly, and the Soul Chain broke through her cell and attacked Qi Yichen. Qi Yichen jumped and dodged the attack, but right after he dodged it, the Soul Chain whipped back and lunged towards him. Qi Yichen was shocked and avoided the chains by bending down. But when he opened his fan, he looked up at Gu Qingyu, there was a red mark sliced across his cheek.
"I have underestimated you, Brother Zhu." Qi Yichen wiped his cheek without a care, and in an instant, his white robe was stained with crimson. Gu Qingyu didn't know why the Soul Chain was so powerful. She didn't control it, neither did she have the strength to do that.
She turned her head slightly, a dark green ribbon supported her back.
Qi Wan and the rest are here.
Suddenly, Qi Yichen smiled. "Qingyu, have you heard of parasites?" Gu Qingyu flinched as she sieved through her memory, she had read about it somewhere.
"Parasites can reside in the human body, and can control the host according to its owner's intentions." Qi Yichen clapped his hands and pain shot through her body. Qi Yichen's low laughter brushed against her ears as her consciousness faded.
Gu Qingyu was awakened by a burst of pain, she found herself lying on a furry carpet. The fur tickled against her nape. She looked up slightly, two pairs of boots were in front of her.
A pair was yellow, the other pair was white. She strained her neck and looked up further. The yellow boots belonged to the King of Xiqian, and the white boots belonged to Qi Yichen, who also happened to be seated in the King's lap.
"Wei, I brought her back." Qi Yichen's tone was so soft and gentle.
The King of Xiqian nodded. "Chen, well done, my Prime Minister."
I may be a fujoshi, but this is not the time!
She was going to pretend that she was unconscious but Qi Yichen commanded in a cold voice. "Come, bring a bucket of water and wake her up. Make sure it's boiling hot. "
I can still take it if it's ice water, but how am I supposed to handle hot water?
Gu Qingyu immediately raised her hand and waved it slightly. "No need, I'm awake!"
"I figured" The King smiled. "The master of the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny, and the person who wishes to collect all of the Spirit Gems, Zhu Fan."
Zhu Fan? Gu Qingyu wondered, her eyes met the King's suspicious gaze. It seems that Qi Yichen did not reveal her real identity to the King. The King continued to stare at her, expecting a reply. She nodded gingerly.
"Hehe..." He chuckled "My name is Zhi Wei."
Gu Qingyu thought for a moment, then quickly raised her head. "Hello, my name is Er Kang."
"Not Zhu Fan?" Zhi Wei froze.
Gu Qingyu shook her head. "Yeah, Er Kang is my real name!"
"Really?" Zhi Wei nodded seriously, "Very well, Er Kang."
Gu Qingyu then said, "Zhi Wei, we are born from the same root, why are we hurting each other."
"Who's born from the same root as you." Zhi Wei rolled his eyes. "I am the King."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Gu Qingyu said and nodded. "You already have the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny and the Spirit Gems, why don't you just let me go?"
"Er Kang, do you know what 'peace of mind' means?" A cunning smile spread across Zhi Wei's face.
"No idea." Gu Qingyu smiled innocently.
"Then I'll teach you." Zhi Wei smiled slightly, his hand gently brushed against Qi Yichen's cheek. "Chen, thank you."
"Wei, I would go through hell and back for you, you don't need to thank me." Qi Yichen also smiled.
Suddenly, Gu Qingyu jumped up, letting Qi Wan's ribbon control her body as she sent the Soul Chain towards Zhi Wei. Zhi Wei froze, while Qi Yichen's fan flew out from his sleeve and formed a shield in front of Zhi Wei. "Wei, be careful!"
He jumped up and manipulated his fan masterfully, countering Gu Qingyu's attack with one of his own. There was a chance for Gu Qingyu to attack him when Qi Yichen changed from defense to offense. But she faltered when she saw that determined look on his face.
"No one can hurt Wei!" Qi Yichen's attacks grew erratic, yet every blow, every strike was carefully calculated. The fan sliced open Gu Qingyu's arm, it startled her. Just when she was about to retaliate, the powerlessness swept over her again and she collapsed.
Qi Yichen withdrew his fan. "Give up, Brother Zhu."
Zhi Wei grabbed Qi Yichen and pulled him back into his arms.
"What a shame." Zhi Wei shook his head, "Remember what I just said?"
"Peace of mind?" Gu Qingyu answered tentatively.
Zhi Wei nodded as he unsheathed a dagger. Qi Yichen stared at Zhi Wei with loving, dreamy eyes and a permanent soft smile. Suddenly, his smile stiffened and his pupils narrowed. Gu Qingyu watched with clear eyes as a dagger disappeared into Qi Yichen's back. The tip of the blade re-appeared through his chest. Red, shocking red blood covered the blade.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I cried when I first read this chapter, then I proceeded to half-sob, half-rant to my family about it for the next hour. I was absolutely gutted. It still hurts when I translated it. But rest assured, you will find out what happens to our boy Qi Yichen tomorrow.
Some context on Zhi Wei and Er Kang, they are key characters from the Chinese period drama My Fair Princess, or Return of the Pearl Princess. It aired on television in the 1990s, and has remained as a cultural icon over the decades. It is one of the most influential Chinese Period Dramas of all time, do check out the show if you are interested.