The night was cool and the moon pale. The scent of flowers drifted along with the long breezes, making one feel as though he was in a faraway place.
It was the perfect atmosphere for one particular girl to share her troubles.
"If you were not just a guinea pig, there's no way I'd tell you." Meng Fuyao smiled, narrowing her eyes while looking at Lord Yuan Bao. "I don't believe that you'll be able to translate everything I'm about to say to that owner of yours."
Lord Yuan Bao never stopped chewing on his fruit. He did not lift his head even the slightest.
"Your owner... sigh..." Meng Fuyao turned to the glimmer that passed through the bathroom wall, a frown evident on her face. She slowly drew on the table, while confessing, "I think I like him just a little bit. What to do?"
Lord Yuan Bao chewed on his fruit with more force than before. A mouthful was all it took for the fruit's core to be exposed.
"Don't be so angry," Meng Fuyao coaxed. "There won't be a good outcome from a cross-species love. Let me advise you, Yuan Bao. You should keep your feelings hidden. Even if your owner isn't mine, he won't be yours either. Aren't you tired of blocking his love interests all day?"
Lord Yuan Bao raised his claw abruptly, flicking a seed right into Meng Fuyao's widely-opened mouth. Not expecting him to take revenge so quickly, Meng Fuyao almost choked to death. She spat it out quickly, cursing, "You! Pebrained guinea pig!"
After some more scolding, she felt better and rested her chin on the table, continuing her writing. "Sigh... won't be mine... I can't like him, no."
Lord Yuan Bao glared hatefully at her. 'What a coward.'
"What do you know," Meng Fuyao waved her hand lazily. "Do you think I'm the kind to hold back? I just don't want to harm him. I've chosen to leave so why should I carry unnecessary emotions and relationships with me? To ruin their future?"
She stared blankly at the moon outside, and slapped the table after a short pause, grabbing the wine pot and enthusiastically downing its content.
Drowning sorrows in alcohol wasn't something a bold and powerful girl like her should do. She hated it, but she needed it.
Gulp, gulp, gulp--
Alcohol flowed down her chin, wetting her shirt.
After downing three pots, she was finally drunk.
"Yuan Bao... Yuan Bao..." Meng Fuyao burped, her dreamy eyes searching about for the guinea pig. "Listen to me... Eh? Where did you go?" Eh.?"
The light from next door flickered. Yuan Zhaoxu had freshened up and was reading a book when he heard soft, squeezing sounds coming from between the wall cracks. Lord Yuan Bao crawled in shortly after.
He dashed straight to his side, and Yuan Zhaoxu immediately caught a whiff of the wine. He put his book down and smiled. "You stole some wine again?"
"Not you but her?" Yuan Zhaoxu raised his brows.
Lord Yuan Bao straightened his back and wagged his short tail.
"You have something to tell me?" Yuan Zhaoxu asked before reaching a hand out to let him sit on his palm. "What is it?"
Lord Yuan Bao scratched his head, sensing the difficulty of conveying the words Meng Fuyao had written on the table. He could recognize the shapes of those words but was unable to translate them into his language. Anxious, he spun about on Yuan Zhaoxu's palm.
Upon seeing that Lord Yuan Bao was deep in thought, Yuan Zhaoxu laughed. "I remember when we used to play the character recognition game."
He clapped his hand, and a man in black immediately appeared outside the window. "Yuan Bao's toy," Yuan Zhaoxu said.
The man in black retrieved a box from inside of his sleeves and handed it over before vanishing into the night.
Lord Yuan Bao jumped in joy, hurriedly going over to flip the box. There were many small pieces of paper inside, but upon closer inspection, one would realize that those weren't pieces of paper but meticulously crafted fungus biscuits. On them were printed words that Yuan Zhaoxu used to teach Yuan Bao, and in order to motivate him to study, Yuan Bao would get a bite of the biscuit whenever he recognized a word.
Yuan Bao jumped into the box and rummaged through it, seemingly unable to find the words he needed. He whipped his head toward Yuan Zhaoxu, who let out a small smile. "No need to find. There's no 'Meng' in it. It's not a common word, and I wasn't planning to teach it to you."
Yuan Bao replied grumpily, to which Yuan Zhaoxu responded, "No need to find her name. I know it's about her. Something's off with her. Did she tell you something?"
"Squeak, squeak!" Lord Yuan Bao turned back to his pile and started flipping around. After some time, he picked up a "Li" and "Kai".
Yuan Zhaoxu's smile faded as he focused on the characters without a word.
Lord Yuan Bao continued flipping. He knew how to express the word he was looking for but wasn't keen on doing so. A short while later he picked out the characters "Xi" and "Huan".
A light flashed across Lord Yuan Bao's eyes and he no longer flipped about frantically. With both claws, he picked up a "Ni". Upon looking at it for a long time, he couldn't get himself to show it to Yuan Zhaoxu. He bit into the biscuit fiercely.
Yuan Zhaoxu stared at the words he had seen and leaned against his chair and called for Yuan Bao before stroking his silky white fur.
His long, moistened hair draped over his shoulders, adding an additional touch of charm to his already elegant disposition. His eyes were crystal clear under the dim yellow light, and they were twinkling like the stars in the sky.
A long time later he got up and walked to the window, staring into the distance and allowing the wind to carry his hair up slightly.
The light above cast a shadow of his figure onto the wooden partition. It was a slender and steady silhouette that never seemed to drown in the complicated, conspiracy-filled world that was full of fluctuations and unpredictability.
The alcoholic on the other side of the wall was dead drunk, and she rolled a wine pot onto the ground.
The only light went off, and the cool moon shone through the window.
The wooden door creaked, and a slender figure entered the room and stopped before Meng Fuyao, getting ready to carry her up.
However, Meng Fuyao turned her body and dragged the person over, causing him to bend down. She then quickly jumped forward and wrapped herself around him like an octopus. "Blanket... how warm."
The black figure stabilized himself but did not pull her hands away. Light from the other room seeped through, illuminating his god-like appearance. Yuan Zhaoxu's eyes were gentle and soft.
He then laid down on the cooling wooden floorboard with her still grabbing onto him.
Yuan Zhaoxu observed her peaceful face under the dim light and listened to the weaving of her breathing and his own.
It was quiet and tranquil, as the flowers in the garden outside started collecting dew.
Some time later, Yuan Zhaoxu gently reached out a hand to comb Meng Fuyao's disarrayed hair.
His low, graceful voice spread through the still room, "Fuyao... it will all be okay."
December 13, Rong tribe's God-worshipping festival.
According to customs, it was a day for Rongsmen to pay respect to their God. They got up early in the morning, cleansed themselves, prayed to Garison and went out to engage in a series of activities, from archery to wrestling. This went on till night time, and massive bonfires would be set up. Young boys and girls displayed their talents and exchanged stories.
Meng Fuyao squatted in position, facing a thick invitation list of names and frowning. "Crazy people... inviting so many families at once... can't get it done even if I don't stop running..." she mumbled.
"If you miss out a random family..." Yuan Zhaoxu chimed in, while leisurely sitting down and feeding Yuan Bao. "...you're showing them that you're looking down on Garison and disrespecting the pride of the Rongsmen. If I'm not wrong, according to their habits, they will reciprocate your attitude with weapons and fresh blood."
Glaring at him, Meng Fuyao questioned, "Why are you always gloating over my misfortunes?"
Yuan Zhaoxu turned to her and smiled. "Is it?" He got up and brushed a long finger across her cheek. "I'm just extremely confident in our extremely wise and intelligent mayor, who is extremely skilled at overcoming crises."
Meng Fuyao crooked her head, noting that Mister Yuan was acting strangely. Was he unhappy that she had tried to sneak a peek at him bathing? Or, was he unhappy that she had failed to do so?
From what she knew about him, the latter seemed more plausible.
Meng Fuyao let out crude laughter, pushing the invitation cards aside. "Former mayor, Ah Shina, has been demoted due to lacking performance, and his people are displeased. Hence, they're trying all ways to challenge me. There are so many things to do today. I'll just move on to other matters first."
"I'll block if the soldiers come, I'll use mud if water comes, and I'll beat if the Rongsmen come." Meng Fuyao got up to stretch, her eyes glowing as she added, "I've only been emulated but never surpassed. Trying to make things difficult for me? Return to your mother's womb and try again."
Ever since Meng Fuyao had assumed her post, she had been held by the elbow by the seven leaders of Yaocheng's Rong tribe, who had planned to give their new mayor a hard time on that important day. All seven families had invited her to "step down from her noble status and join in the fun". They had all set the time at about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and had prepared a scrumptious feast. Their doors had been luxuriously decorated as if to emphasize to everyone in the city that they were really sincere about inviting the mayor to attend their banquet.
That way, if that little fellow of a mayor failed to show himself at any of their banquets, they would have a reason to cause a disturbance. The God-worshipping festival was an event to convey God's grace, and a refusal to attend was doubtlessly the worst offense.
Because there was an archery competition held as part of the festival, the Rongsmen would've already been in possession of their weapons. When sparks turn to flames and the whole city was enraged, they could most certainly assist Ah Shina back onto his position, which would return them their dominance within Yaocheng, even if the little gigolo did not end up getting killed.
With such a brilliant plan in mind, the seven families sat at ease, revising the ways, in their heads, in which they were going to express their fury upon getting their dignity trampled. They had even practiced against the mirror for half a day at least.
The servants of the seven families ran about, exchanging reports with one another.
It was already 7 p.m., and the mayor had yet to come out of the house. Two hours later, the office door was still shut tight, and the mayor had yet to exit!
 Li Kai - to leave
Xi Huan - to like (someone/something)
Ni - you