Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The guards exchanged looks. They had heard all kinds of weird requests before so such wasn't foreign to them. A guard obliged with a smile. "Go then, don't fall."
"Thanks," Meng Fuyao bowed. As she passed the guards, she flicked her fingers, causing both to instantly collapse to the ground.
"Wow, Zhangsun Wuji, you taught them really well, I'm impressed... how obedient of them," muttered Meng Fuyao. Not spotting any other guards close by, Meng Fuyao quickly reached the top of the rockery, not casting the prince's hall a second glance.
Under the vast sky, her body could be seen jumping forward with her arms out, and into the pond.
"Freestyle! Here I come!"
Still, in midair, she flicked her fingers, and a broadleaf flew out, brushing across the water surface. With a flip of her body, she landed lightly on the leaf, on the tip of a foot.
Only a fool would jump into the water on a cold day like that.
Meng Fuyao happily scanned her surroundings and noted that there was another view behind the rockery. Before, she had only noticed a corner of the pool, but now, she realized that it wasn't a small artificial pond but a lake with jade-clear water that reflected all the strange-looking stones around. The fragrance of the vast stretch of camellia bloomed along with their deep red, pinkish-red, faint red and silk-white petals. Mixed in with those were exquisite Japanese allspices and Indian azaleas, their colors splendid and eye-catching.
In the center of the lake stood a jade-white pavilion that directly led to a long, emerald-green corridor, which was made from bamboo. It was a wonder that the rippling waves hadn't been able to strip off its beautiful color. Reflecting the bamboo's mild hues, the crystal clear lake water produced a refreshing and pleasing spectacle.
The wind grazed past, creating folds in the water layers and activating the bells hanging from the pavilion interior. The muslin ruffled, dream-like, in the wind, and amid it danced a human figure. The figure's head was lowered as it was playing the zither. The zither's music was clear and melodious, while its every note sounded like the tumbling of strings of beads into the water. Yet, the fingers that produced that solid tune were uncharacteristically beautiful and slender.
Meng Fuyao inhaled a deep breath, her chest instantly being inflated with the cool winter fragrance. "This is nice," she muttered unknowingly.
Broad leaves shot out non-stop from between her fingers as she continued advancing toward the pavilion. However, she stopped midway, as she sensed a dangerous aura floating in the air.
It was an incorporeal presence, everywhere within the plants. It drifted amid the breeze and moonlight and along the fluttering of the flower petals, and it was pressing in at a steady rate.
But it was definitely quiet, save for the zither...
Meng Fuyao's train of thought snapped. 'Right, why isn't there any other sound? Where are the natural sounds? The wind? The insects?'
Meng Fuyao flew on, but her mind froze. She could feel the murderous aura all around, except for the person in the pavilion, whose whole body was free from it. It was her only point of breakthrough.
The woman inside was probably the crown prince's entertainer and had no martial arts background. There wasn't anyone in this residence, but there seemed to be an ancient formation. Since Meng Fuyao had already charged her way in, the only exit was through.
The figure, vaguely concealed by the muslin, seemed to have noticed her as well. Her fingers stopped for a second before loosening, and a distant-sounding note rolled through the air, deep and thick.
The encircling aura had dispersed, and Meng Fuyao's body relaxed instantly as if being freed from shackles. It was utterly refreshing. She looked toward the hazy figure beyond the muslin and let out a sneaky smirk. 'You know I'm harmless, don't you, Beauty? Heh heh.'
As Meng Fuyao had calculated her movements in advance, she flicked forward the last piece of broadleaf that would get her to the pavilion. The beauty's graceful swaying of the head along with the music made it look as though he was casting glances over at Meng Fuyao, which cheered the latter increasingly.
The muslin was lifted, revealing not a beauty's slender fingers but a fat ball of white fur.
A rock flew out, landing on the broadleaf, which caused it to spin out of control but without sinking.
Rather than assessing the situation in the pavilion, Meng Fuyao set her gaze upon the leaf, not wanting to be steered away from her calculated scope. "Where's this trouble-causing rascal?" she shouted while doing a flip in midair.
However, as the rock had been dipped in an extremely corrosive poison, the leaf was already shriveled by then.
Seeing that there was no landing space, Meng Fuyao did another flip before running out of energy and plopping right into the water.
The white furball immediately dropped its catapult, grabbing onto its tummy and squeaking in delight before disappearing between the muslin again.
A completely wet head shot out from the lake water. Hair flat against her forehead and ginger juice half wiped from her face, Meng Fuyao looked no different from a water ghost. Creasing her brows, she cursed, "Which scoundrel? Come out, come out!"
The squeakings got louder in response.
Meng Fuyao pricked her ears up and followed in the direction of the squeaks. As she was about to climb up a bamboo pillar, someone pulled the muslin aside, laughing. "Why do you always look so pitiful, Fuyao?"
The voice was low yet familiarly cheerful.
Stunned, Meng Fuyao tightened her grip on the pole. "Snap."
She lifted her head, and at this point, the muslin had already been rolled up by a servant. The owner of that graceful voice smiled lightly at her. His hands were on the zither strings while his crow-black hair and purple robe were fluttering softly in the wind. As enchanting as the quiet waters and glowing moon, he appeared like a drifting cloud from up above the skies; absolutely brilliant and aesthetical.
'A beauty indeed... a beautiful man.'
The 'beauty' propped his zither up before approaching Meng Fuyao. His emerging presence left her heart palpitating and breaths choppy. Now that he was merely a few inches away from her face, she could almost feel his long lashes ruffling between them as a wave of light fragrance hit her together with the cool breeze.
"Haven't you given me enough trouble..?" Meng Fuyao mumbled.
Before her voice fell she let out an unglamorous and careless sneeze.
Yuan Zhaoxu's lips curled up, his long, fair arm reaching out toward Meng Fuyao.
Meng Fuyao's eyes landed on his palm. His skin was smooth, and every palm line was clearly visible. His wisdom line was straight and long -- exceptional wisdom. His heart line was rather deep but slightly entangled... How many marriage lines? Thoughts rushed through her mind, and the man above broke into a smile.
Yuan Zhaoxu lifted a finger, sending Meng Fuyao into the air. Her body formed an arc at the highest point before being directed toward the other side of the muslin. Amid her fall she spotted the real culprit, who had the catapult beneath his feet.
When the culprit saw her, he broke into a run. Meng Fuyao pounced on it like a wolf, grabbing it viciously despite its desperate struggles. She brought it up to her face and started rubbing her face with it. "Huhu, Yuan Bao, I've missed you so much..." she cried, using Yuan Bao as a wiping cloth.
Lord Yuan Bao wiggled and squirmed but to no avail. He cried for Yuan Zhaoxu to save him from the devil's claw but to no avail. The latter continued watching passively by the side, no different from when Meng Fuyao had fallen into the water.
When Meng Fuyao was finally done expressing her unending admiration and yearning for Lord Yuan Bao, the noble-born guinea pig had turned patchy yellow and wet. Meng Fuyao had already wiped the dirt and juice on her face clean.
Only then did she willingly release the fat furball, but not without crushing the d*mned catapult.
Lord Yuan Bao rushed to a corner of the pavilion and looked into a reflective pearl, immediately letting out a painful screech.
A small ripple emerged from the water as Lord Yuanbao himself had jumped in for a bath.
As Meng Fuyao had taken her revenge, she turned to look at Yuan Zhaoxu, who was leaning against the platform. He raised a hand and his light purple robe rolled out like a swift ball of cloud, quickly binding Meng Fuyao tightly.
Then, he clapped his hand to get the attention of the servants. A servant girl appeared unhurriedly with a mini yet elaborate oven. Heat radiated throughout the pavilion, and she moved on to draw the thicker curtains together and kept them in place with rocks, constructing a temporary dressing room. Another servant girl approached with a set of dry clothes. Yuan Zhaoxu personally received and flipped them around, as if searching for something within, before handing them over to Meng Fuayo.
"Very sweet of you. How rare..." she commented. As she was about to enter the changing area she heard him ask, "Mind changing together?"
"Wha..." Meng Fuyao whipped her head around. A whole wave of curses was ready to be unleashed in response to his erotic request. Yet, all she saw was him reaching his hand toward the water and allowing a drenched and constantly sneezing guinea pig climb up his arm.
Annoyed by his deliberate misrepresentation, Meng Fuyao's face turned jet black. Nevertheless, she was able to gloat over Lord Yuan Bao's pitiful plight. It was great seeing him run about naked in the cold. His white fur was dripping wet. Meng Fuyao flicked Lord Yuan Bao's pink belly, provoking him to bite her, which she then easily avoided before dashing into the changing room, laughing to her heart's content.
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