Published at 20th of August 2018 06:27:12 AM
Chapter 22

Seven years later .

In a small town not far from the Ning'guo temple lived a family . About ten years ago, they had purchased the best house in the town . It was said that inside the house lived a handsome man and a beautiful woman . Their servants came in and out on errands or chores, and the townsmen only knew that their family-name was Xiao as the family was rarely seen .

It was late autumn and the weather was getting cold . In the mysterious Xiao house, two men sat under the arbor . One of whom was a man In his forties with urbane manners, dressed in green . "I'll place it here" he said .

"Are you sure, grandpa?" On the other side, sat a girl at the age of fourteen or fifteen . Her eyes were gentle like water, but with a touch of coldness . Her fingers were slim and well-cared for . She was so fair it seemed as though her skin had been dipped in milk . She had roses in her cheeks, and looked as if she would melt when touched . A smile blossomed on her lips, and her long black hair poured down her back . Today, she had tied it with a silk ribbon and it casually flew in the autumn wind . She wore a floor-length white gown, which was embroidered with butterflies . In a word, she was gorgeous . She was Yun Shang, who had grown up .

Xiao Yuanshan nodded, "I am sure . "


Yun Shang smiled, and placed her black go-chess piece onto the chessboard, "Thank you, Grandpa . I've won again . "


Xiao Yuanshan frowned and looked at the chessboard for a long time . Then he sighed, "The student has become the teacher now . I've only taught you go-chess for a few years, but now you are better than me . I have to bring you to Ning'guo temple sometime to let Wu Na experience what we call failure . "


Yun Shang winked, and smiled . Her grandpa was aged, but still liked to bicker with Master Wu Na . From time to time, her grandpa would go and pick on him for fun . It was said that Master Wu Na and her grandma had known each other since childhood . When grandma married grandpa, Master Wu Na happened to be experiencing personal adversity, and so he chose to serve Buddha . But the two men were always at loggerheads with each other . According to grandpa, they were incompatible like "water and fire . " But Yun Shang believed that meant they actually had a strong friendship .

"Shang'er, Wu Na told me that the Emperor had sent for you again . The Emperor has sent word, that it's only a month away from your Coming-of-age Ceremony . He wants you to go back there before the ceremony . He is really annoying, sending for you every year . I've told Wu Na to refuse him . "


Hearing this, Yun Shang gazed at the lake in front of them . Her eyes were cold, "Grandpa, I've decided to return to the Palace this year . "


Xiao Yuanshan was packing up the go-chess pieces . He paused, "Why? Have you gotten tired of your grandpa already?"


Yun Shang stood up, walked to Xiao Yuanshan, and crouched in front of him, "No, grandpa, I have not . You have been so nice to me . In these past a few years, you've dedicated yourself to teaching me the Four Arts . And you've also asked other people to teach me the art of war, trade and business, and how to cultivate my own power . These days have been the happiest days in my life . And I will forever remember how nice you have been to me, grandpa . The Palace is the last place I wanted to go to, but Lady Jin is still there and there are other things I have to face . I'm about to come of age . Then I will be an adult . And after years of nurturing, I'm not the former Yun Shang anymore; I've become a better version of that young girl . Please be assured, grandpa, I have the ability to protect myself . I also have the ability to protect my mother . "


After a long silence, Xiao Yuanshan said, "Alas, Wu Na was right . Now I know that I can't keep you here, too . The messenger is still waiting for you at Ning'guo temple . Go ahead, Shang'er . But remember to pay me a visit from time to time . It's so boring living here alone, and your uncle is always outside . "


"I will, grandpa . " Yun Shang smiled, and sat with Xiao Yuanshan in the arbor for a long time . The next morning, she packed up her things, and headed for Ning'guo temple .

"Your Highness, are we going back to the Palace?" As Yun Shang entered the temple, Qin Yi hurried to her and asked . A woman in white sitting nearby, also got up and silently curtsied to Yun Shang .

Yun Shang smiled, "Why? Don't you want to go back there?"


Qin Yi thought for a while and answered, "It's not that I don't want to go back . I just feel that I have lived here for seven years and I don't know how things will be at the Palace, which makes me a little nervous . "


"Don't panic . Since we are going back, we will face what we have to face . I'm actually looking forward to it after this time away . " Yun Shang glanced at the woman sitting in the corner . She was quietly reading Buddhist texts . She then waved Qin Yi forward, and whispered in her ear . When she was done, Yun Shang straightened herself and said, "You can start packing now . I'll talk to Master Wu Na, and tell the eunuch who carries His Majesty's imperial edict that we will fare forth before long . "


In another room, sat a Buddhist monk among curling smoke . Yun Shang pushed the door open, went in, and sat beside him . Glancing at the statue of Buddha in the shrine, she lowered her head and chanted, "Amitabha Buddha . "


The monk opened his eyes, looked at Yun Shang, and sighed, "She is just an innocent person . If you are afraid that she will be a threat, you can send her far away . Why do you have to kill her?"


Yun Shang raised her head and looked up at the smoke rising from the burning incense, and said, "I dare not to leave such a hidden danger to myself . Only the dead can keep secrets . Master, I'll make sure I won't do it here . I will not violate the sanctity of a Buddhist temple . "


With a set of prayer beads twirling in his hand, Wu Na said, "Sanctity lies in one's heart, not in a building . You are doomed to taint your hand with blood, Yun Shang, which has been written in your destiny . I am worried about it . "


Yun Shang's face changed when she heard "doomed", but then she lowered her eyes with a smile and said, "If I can't protect the people I want to protect, what's the point of my life?"


Wu Na remained quiet . Yun Shang continued, "I don't know whether I can come back again . Master, please take care of my grandpa in my stead . "


Wu Na nodded, "That's for sure . We have been friends for so many years . Stay assured, Yun Shang, your grandpa has luck on his side . "


Yun Shang breathed a sigh of relief, and bid goodbye to the Master .

"Your Highness, that woman has been handled . And our belongings have been packed . When do we leave?" Qin Yi asked as Yun Shang entered .

Yun Shang stood at the door, and thought for a while before she spoke . "Over the years I've asked Master Wu Na to report to the Emperor that I am weak and unhealthy, and we have to add some merit to that story . Go and boil a pot of herb medicine for me, and perfume my gowns with it . I'll change into a plain dress, and you will hold an umbrella for me when we walk out even though the sun's not heavy yet . "


Qin Yi nodded, "Just two of us? What about Ning Qian and the others?"


Ning Qian was the leader of Yun Shang's own force, which she had cultivated by her own hands . Even though Ning Qian was a woman, she was as witty and brave as any man, if not better .

Yun Shang sat in a chair, and answered, "They have already been in the Imperial City, and have arranged what should be arranged . And this time, we will figure out who is more wicked and merciless . " Yun Shang flashed a warm smile, but her eyes were cold .