Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Meng Fuyao was returning from the market with a bag of herbs Zong Yue had ordered her to get. She wore a veil that concealed her lifeless gaze. She seemed to be lost in thought.
She was thinking about what Yao Xun had mentioned regarding Zhangsun Wuji.
Immediately after her encounter with the madwoman, King De's men had arrived and spoken to Zong Yue. Zong Yue had warned her multiple times not to enter the abandoned garden again, but that had instead piqued her interest even more. Then, she had brought it up to the well-informed Yao Xun, hoping that he had some inside news about the relationship between Zhangsun Wuji and the madwoman. Yet, the name Zhangsun Wuji had triggered Yao Xun to start a whole lecture on his glorious achievements, which had, unfortunately, lasted the whole night.
At the age of seven, Zhangsun Wuji had drawn out a map of Wuji Nation's military borders. He had even revised the soldiers' strategies and positions before expanding the army's strength from 100,000 to 700,000, which had successfully led them to suppress three neighboring nations.
At the age of 10, he had witnessed an armed rebellion that had risen in the southern boundary of Wuji Nation. The southern and northern tribes had been fighting over a fertile grassland, and it had been an event that had led to the death of countless citizens living nearby. In response, Zhangsun Wuji had embarked on a far yet fast journey, leading ten guards deep into the chaotic region. No one had expected him to survive, but everyone had been proven wrong three days later when he returned hand in hand with both tribe leaders. Before hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the two formidable leaders had bowed and turned from sworn enemies into sworn brothers.
The 10-year-old boy, who was a few heads shorter than the rest, had only smiled in response with hands cupped behind his back, automatically sending the soldiers to their knees. Nobody had dared to stand taller than he was.
At the age of 13, he had been subjected to an assassination attempt, plotted by the king of Linjiang. He had been invited to a feast arranged by the latter. Upon his arrival at the feast, the king of Linjiang had made him a toast with wine, or rather, colorless and odorless poison, with a well-disguised assassin standing behind. Zhangsun Wuji had accepted the wine and placed the cup back onto the tray, immediately piercing his hand through the smirking king's chest and reaching for the assassin's heart.
Amid the shock spreading throughout the hall, Zhangsun Wuji had unhurriedly retracted his hand and spat the poisoned wine he had kept in his mouth onto the king's face. "I've saved you the trouble since you're literally unable to face my deceased grandfather now," was what he had said with a smile while pointing at the king's putrefying face. After that, he had removed his skin-like glove, throwing to the ground. Not once had his skin been stained with blood.
Since then, no one in the whole of Zhangsun imperial family had dared to act treacherously.
At the age of 15, Zhangsun Wuji's visit to Fufeng as an ambassador had somehow led to a sudden war between two major tribes. After three years of battle, they had been broken into three smaller tribes and were no longer able to spy on Wuji Nation.
After that incident, the respective nations had almost cut all dealings with Zhangsun Wuji because it was too burdensome to be constantly remembered and 'cared' for.
Zhangsun Wuji had gone under the radar after the age of 15. He had stopped doing things that shocked the universe. In fact, he had stopped involving himself in political battles and did not seem interested in expanding his territory. He appeared satisfied with being the second largest nation in the whole of the Five Region Continent after Tiansha. People were thankful for that, or he would also be remembered by assassination teams all over. In fact, he had appeared in lists, and none was eager to bring his name forward.
Because Zhangsun Wuji was so amazingly capable in terms of contributing to his nation, the emperor had conferred upon him the title of Zhangsun Crown Prince. It was undoubtedly a supreme honor.
Yao Xun had ended his lengthy thesis with a sigh of admiration. "And there you have it, the world's hero, Zhangsun Wuji!"
Meng Fuyao narrowed her eyes, breaking into an involuntary smile while recalling his overly exaggerated tone.
Suddenly, black took over her vision ––– she had bumped right into someone's chest.
It was a strange feeling, somewhat soft yet hard, and a vague squeak could be heard.
Meng Fuyao shot her head up in realization, but it was too late.
A fluffy white furball had shot out, rubbing its tummy before launching a ferocious attack with its claws.
Before it could finish its attack, a fruit had been stuffed into its hands, effectively diverting its attention and anger.
As Lord Yuan Bao chewed on the object of bribery, Meng Fuyao's attention was, too, redirected to a certain pair of twinkling eyes.
Those eyes, warm and spring-like, had no regard for the sharp winter gusts, and could only belong to one unique individual -- Yuan Zhaoxu.
"What's on your mind?" he asked, lips curled and eyes smiling. While he had on a mask, those eyes of his were enough to intoxicate her.
"Yo..." Meng Fuyao uttered giggly, her eyes moving left and right, as she waited to see his face turn red.
Apart from not blushing a bit, he did not even blink and simply waited for a continuation.
"...ur crown prince, Zhangsun Wuji." Meng Fuyao speedily finished.
Upon hearing those words, Yuan Zhaoxu looked at her strangely. "Why the sudden thought?" he asked.
Instead of answering promptly, she turned left and right before sneakily holding his hand and pulling him toward the western perimeter wall of King De's residence.
There were things on her mind, and she hadn't paid much heed to get action. Not minding, Yuan Zhaoxu obediently followed behind. Lord Yuan Bao drilled his head out from his robe and threw Meng Fuyao's hand a death glare as if hoping that his gaze could burn it to ashes.
Meng Fuyao pulled him up the wall before squatting unglamorously at the top and tossing a stone into the dark, isolated garden.
"Zhangsun Wuji, you impure-blooded. "
Her shriek was ear-splitting, but someone covered her mouth mid-sentence. A wave of disorganized footsteps approached from afar. The guards had been alarmed.
"They weren't here yesterday so why have they come today..." Meng Fuyao snorted, turning around to face Yuan Zhaoxu.
Yuan Zhaoxu looked down into the scruffy garden, and a strange expression was gradually formed on his face.
A guard shouted from afar, and Yuan Zhaoxu swiftly pulled Meng Fuyao down and into an alley outside the De residence.
Before they could stabilize themselves a wave of arrows had been released.
The guard's voice was extremely urgent and fierce, curtly piercing through the darkness like a cutting gust of wind.
The tips of Meng Fuyao and Yuan Zhaoxu's boots were immediately accessorized by a neat row of arrows, equal distance from one another, as if measured with a ruler. It was evident that if the archers had wanted, they could have easily shot the arrows and pierced their feet. The arrows just a millimeter away from their boots were proof of the archers' skills.
Opposite and above the high residence walls, a figure appeared. He was holding a bow in hand, and his eyes were coldly looking down into the darkness and flickering.
Upon seeing that the duo had lifted their heads up, the man slowly pulled his bow, its string squeaking slightly, in the process building a murderously suppressive atmosphere.
The bow was pulled taut before four arrows were being released down and toward the duo. The archer stood on the head of the wall, smirking. "Where has this bold pair come from? Trespassing the king's territory? I was merciful with my attack. Come in again and my arrows not greet your feet but your skulls."
Meng Fuyao raised her head up slowly, her eyes shrinking upon meeting the man's gaze. She hated getting warned by others.
However, the moment she lifted her head, the archer immediately launched another arrow, going straight for her forehead. "Trespassers shall not be spared."
Not only was his sharpshooting skills and control apparent, but his condensed voice was also evidence that he possessed an extraordinary level of internal energy. Even then, Meng Fuyao felt it unnecessary to accept his hostile attitude.
She executed a move from the matrix, bending her back backward in an arc as the arrow brushed past the tip of her nose. As her body was halfway to the ground, she whipped her waist around and kicked the arrow up. The arrow made a directional change in midair before whizzing like the wind toward the figure behind the wall.
The archer's eyes flashed in the darkness. Meng Fuyao's kick appeared like an easy move, but it was, in fact, difficult to execute it since almost half the arrow had penetrated the ground. How much power and precision must she have utilized in order to kick the arrow off the ground without bending it and getting up from her arched position?
The archer let out a grin, his desire to win brewing. He extended a hand, instantly snapping the incoming arrow into two, before launching another arrow at her.
Meng Fuyao sprung back up, spitting forcefully, twice. "Bah!"
The arrow that had broken into two was further split into four -- she had unleashed puffs of inner energy to do so, which again redirected the sections back toward their owner.
The archer was caught off guard and rendered speechless by her petty move. Then, he erupted into powerful laughter, further breaking the sections into eight pieces and redirecting them toward her.
Each piece was about the length of a palm, so it wasn't easy to section them even further. "Let's see how you're going to bre---" the archer smirked, but he instantly opened his eyes wide.
Meng Fuyao hadn't seen those arrows at all. She had bent down suddenly, picking up two remaining arrows and dashing toward the perimeter wall. In midair, she released the arrows, as if they were as heavy as javelins, directly aiming for his waist. "Are we chopping wood, you stupid crow? Do you really think I'll continue splitting them?"
Because Meng Fuyao's movements were so sudden and fast, the archer, who had been solely focused on waiting for her to chop the arrows, was caught off guard once again. By the time he realized the situation, the arrows were already zooming in at full speed. As a skilled man himself, he calmly chopped at them, easily dispersing the energy within.
He let out a long breath and smiled at the guard below. "I've been ignorant. How dare I embarrass myself in front of you, General..."
Before he could finish his line, a gust of wind blew from behind, and he felt a cold sensation running down his waist... his pants had fallen to the ground.
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