"Master, maybe you should meet the Lady more. She… she's changed." Loan hesitated.
"How so?" Hong Yue's eyes shone with clarity, even as his face seemed red from the wine. He was nowhere near drunk.
"Three assassins were dead before the shadow guards arrived to the Lady's rescue."
Loan still couldn't believe her eyes; it seemed strange saying her observations out loud, but she continued anyway: "They were all killed swiftly, dead under the hands of a master. I thought someone had helped the Lady, but then why would that person leave the other five alive?"
"You're saying Ling-er killed them?" Hong Yue's thick eyebrows rose. (note: adding '-er' at the end of names indicate intimacy in mandarin (´꒳`))
Loan had a hard time believing it herself, but that was the only possible situation that could've happened. Ling Yue's gleaming eyes flashed in Loan's memories, and she suddenly felt that it wasn't such an impossible idea after all. Having such fierce eyes… someone like that could certainly kill without hesitation.
"Yes, Clan Master. I can't quite describe it, but the Lady's aura… You'll know what I mean if you meet her yourself…"
"Interesting." He mumbled as he gulped down more wine, a streak of liquid rolling down his face, onto his short beard.
"Master, please restrain yourself, you have a meeting with Lord Fu tomorrow." Loan stopped him from drinking more. This wine was very strong, it just didn't sink in immediately. If the Master continued drinking, he'd get a headache in the morning.
"That cunning bastard An Fu? He's here to revoke Ling Yue's marriage, isn't he? I fail to see what Ling Yue admired in that boy Ting Fu. Like father like son, all bastards. I wouldn't marry my daughter to men of the like, they would never love Ling Yue whole-heartedly." Hong Yue scowled.
"Ting Fu already has a few concubines. Everyone in the capital city knows he has something going with Aina. Heck, and that girl Aina, a smiling fox. Nothing good comes from her, either."
Needless to say, clan Master Yue saw through everyone's masks. He tried to convince Ling Yue to stay away from them, that they didn't harbor good intentions, but Ling Yue never listened. She got mad every time, as she assumed he wanted to take her only friends away from her.
Ahh, poor Ling Yue, naive as a newborn deer, unaware of the coyotes prowling next to her. How would she feel if she were alive tonight, knowing Aina had sent those assassins?
The next morning, as Loan walked into the Yard of Blossoms, a round figure flashing around the yard caught her eye.
What was the Lady doing? Loan stared at Ling Yue, confused. The Lady was running laps and doing push-ups. Her eyes widened as she continued staring, dumb-founded. The Lady did some kind of martial-arts form, but she had no idea what it was. But the way the Lady did it, she seemed really familiar with it, as if... she had been doing it for years.
How could it be?
Loan trusted her instincts, but she couldn't come up with a suitable explanation for the Lady's sudden changes. The Lady behaved as if she was a whole new, even different, person. Loan shook her head, the Lady could not have been replaced by a substitute; her round body was unmistakable.
Ling Yue noticed all the shadow guards spacing out, secretly observing her every move, all confused and befuddled. She sighed inwardly, she hoped the household would adapt to her changes. She wasn't the original Ling Yue after all; she didn't want to pretend she was the previous Ling Yue. Some things just couldn't be faked, she might as well leave it as it was.
Loan was a sharp person, though. She had great potential. If she was trained to meet Ling Yue 's expectations, she'd become a great follower.
"Loan." Ling Yue smiled: "Come train with me."
Loan's back straightened as shock flashed through her eyes. She bowed reverently: "Yes, my Lady."
Ling Yue jutted her lower lip in a small pout: "Don't be so distant, Loan. You are now my people, I will not mistreat you. Don't speak so carefully. Call me Ling."
"That- that can't be, my Lady, I-" Loan stammered. The Ling Yue in front of her was so different, sometimes so cold, but she felt as though she liked the new Lady better. The Lady has never smiled at her like this before. She had always looked down on the servants. She had screeched at servants and hit them before, whenever she got upset. She didn't show them any respect.
Ling Yue is appreciating Loan's character as her equal, which shocked the servants and guards working in the Lady's yard.
"Well, we'll fix that someday. I can't expect you to change things right away, can I?" Ling Yue grinned flamboyantly. "Come, pick up that wooden sword. Spar with me. I heard the shadow guards say that you are best with swords."
Other shadow guards? Loan jumped inwardly as she glanced to a place behind Ling Yue 's back. There, she knew two elite shadow guards hid themselves. They were appointed by her after yesterday's event, to protect the Lady.
The Lady had noticed? How?! The shadow guards were very well known for their hiding abilities... the Lady even talked to them?!...
She swallowed her doubts and hesitantly picked up the wooden sword. Ling Yue felt her reluctance and smile: "Don't go easy on me, Loan. I'll tell you when I get tired."
Ling Yue 's swordsmanship from her previous life hasn't faded, they were evident in her mind. This body just needed to acclimate to hard activities. She believed in no time, her sharp reflexes from her peak period would return.
That is, if she lost weight. She couldn't move as fast as she wanted, and she got tired easily. Her stamina ran out very quickly, and in a fight, that was a deadly weakness. She had to build this body up from scratch.
Ling Yue sighed inwardly, she had a long road ahead of her.
Loan stood there, not knowing what to do. For her to attack the Lady, someone without any training in martial arts....
Loan's hand raised in an instant as she stepped back, blocking Ling Yue 's attack before it hit her straight in the face. Her heart leapt into her throat. The killing intent behind that strike.... she would've died had she not blocked.
The Lady wasn't fooling around.
A trickle of sweat rolled down her fore head as Loan got into her fighting stance.
Ling Yue smiled, lashing out a flurry of attacks.
The Yard of Blossoms was in an instant filled with clashing sounds, and as the shadow guards look on, dumbfounded, news of the Lady's determination to learn martial arts spread across the Yue Clan's estate.