After a moment of contemplation, Du Ling decided to take the helm. Although he was from the Western Region, a place where there seemed to be nothing but the Gobi Desert, he actually had knowledge of maritime studies - even possessing previous naval experience.
Their vessel sped up quickly, and Pei Qianhao gave signals to Du Ling from time to time to help him stay on course.
Their vessel was going full throttle even in the heavy fog. All the soldiers and the naval crew watched with reverence. No one dared travel at such speed with such low visibility.
The fog began to dissipate after four hours as the sky began to brighten, and the vessel began to speed up along with it.
The boat Su Xi-er was on had also picked up speed, and she awoke with a start as she heard the waves crashing against the window. Turning to look at Tan Ge, she realised the latter was also curled up into a ball on her bed.
Someone then knocked on the door. “Ladies, our master has ordered us to send breakfast and a brazier over. Are the both of you awake?”
Hearing the word ‘brazier’, Su Xi-er got up, slipped into her footwear, and quickly adjusted her clothing.
Upon opening the door, she found two crew men outside. One held a brazier, while the other held breakfast and some water to freshen up.
Su Xi-er replied politely, “Thank you.”
The men entered and set the items down before speaking. “There’s no need to thank us, we’re just carrying out orders. You’d have to thank our master for this.” They then turned to leave, closing the door behind them and stopping the chilly wind from streaming into the room.
Tan Ge had woken, and was now staring at Su Xi-er as she sat up.
“Get up; freshen up and have breakfast. There’s a brazier today so it won’t be cold.” Su Xi-er spoke calmly, as if she and Tan Ge were still on good terms.
After freshening up, Su Xi-er quickly ate the breakfast of porridge and baozi that had been given to them. She had known that this body couldn’t withstand the cold well, but had never felt it so acutely before now. Seeing as how she had always resided in the palace, it made sense.
She felt like she could have frozen to death last night, and all she wanted now was to be in Pei Qianhao’s warm embrace. The cold would be nothing to me as long as I am wrapped up in his arms.
Tan Ge finally freshened up after Su Xi-er had already eaten half of her porridge; she smiled as she looked at the food. “Breakfast in the Western Region is beef soup and shaobing. There’s meat in almost every dish there.”
Su Xi-er was chewing on a baozi as she said, “But you grew up on porridge and baozi like these.”
Whether they were rich or poor, those living in the four nations of the Central Plains usually had porridge, baozi, and soup for breakfast. Farmers living in the countryside would usually have plain baozi, while the richer families would supplement their breakfast with some extra dishes.
Tan Ge took a small bite of the baozi and said, “Yes, I grew up on porridge and baozi. My favourites wouldn’t change after just a few months of beef soup and shaobing.” She knew Su Xi-er was indirectly reminding her that she was an imposter.
They then ate in silence, finishing their breakfast within an hour. They then gathered around the brazier, with Su Xi-er setting her robe nearby to help it dry faster.
There was another knock on the door. “Ladies, are you done? This subordinate is here to collect the dishes.”
Su Xi-er answered politely, “Come in.”
The door opened with a creak. After collecting the dishes, the crew member said to Tan Ge, “Miss, our master would like to see you.” He then turned to leave right after.
He left the door open as he walked out. In an instant, the icy wind made the entire room feel like it was carved out of ice.
Tan Ge stood up and left, closing the door behind her.
Su Xi-er looked at the shut door as she pondered. Why does Shi Mo want to see Tan Ge?
1. Baozi are steamed Chinese buns. They can come with fillings such as meat, vegetables and paste, but they can also be eaten plain.
2. It is a type of baked pancake bread or flaky biscuit, and it often comes with fillings in it, with one example being sesame paste.