Xia Keke tightly grasped the string of bells. Just like the others, her eyes widened with astonishment.
After describing being chased by hunters back then, Lady Providence stopped and said no more. They'd wanted to hear the rest of the story, but.....
There was nothing else to hear.
Lady Providence seemed totally immersed in memories as scenes from the past played through her mind.
"Little fox, when you run, you have to watch where you’re going! Did you hurt yourself?"
The woman who the fox had collided into laughed, then crouched down. She was baby-faced and wore a pink dress. Her white, tender hands gently patted the little fox’s head.
Then she noticed the traces of blood on its leg.
"You're injured?" she raised her eyebrows, then frowned. "I don't know any healing arts, but I do have some medicine that my family prepared for me."
She took out a deep blue bead and slipped it into the fox's mouth.
Actually, you really couldn't say that she “slipped it in” since the moment it touched the fox's lips, it transformed into a wisp of spiritual energy and flew into its mouth.
"Back home, I was getting really restless and impatient, so the clan finally let me go out and get some experience. Now they’re afraid I’ll get hurt out here since I’m too short-tempered, so they prepared these pills for me. Let me tell you, these pills work really well. Before long, your injuries will be completely healed!”
A comfortable feeling spread through its body as its pores opened and its injured leg healed completely.
The fox felt gratitude deep within its heart. It couldn't speak, so it could only rub its head repeatedly against the woman’s hand to express its emotions.
"Hee hee, aren't you feeling better? That's great! But I can't play with you anymore; I’ve got to go out and train."
She waved goodbye to it, but just as she was about to leave, the fox hurriedly padded after her.
"Why are you still following me? I have to train. I'll be hunting monsters and slaying demons, so it's too dangerous for you to follow me."
Before she finished speaking, the soldiers chasing after the fox caught up to them. They readied their arrows and fired in unison.
Woosh! Woosh! Woosh!
As the arrows cut through the air, the fox yipped in terror. The woman frowned, and when the arrows were just half a meter away from her, they clattered suddenly to the ground
Seeing this, the soldiers looked at each other and trembled inwardly.
"Are they chasing you?" asked the woman, pouting her lips. She paid the soldiers no need, and instead looked directly at the fox.
"Hey! Woman!” said the sharp-tongued serving woman.” If you don't want to die, hurry and get the hell out of our way! That little fox bit the Royal Princess's hand. She’s King Zhou’s favorite!"
A horse-drawn carriage stood behind her. It seemed that the "Royal Princess" they’d mentioned earlier was inside
"King Zhou, isn't he that inept ruler who brought calamity upon the common people? My current training objective is to go make trouble for him,” she barked sharply and clasped the fox to her chest once more. “If you know what’s best for you, hurry up and scram! Then have that King Zhou of yours crawl over to see me.”
"This little fox was fated to meet me. If any of you dares hurt it... What was it you said earlier? Right, I remember: ‘If you don't want to die, hurry and get the hell out of our way!’"
"How bold, you even dare insult the emperor,” shouted the servant. “What are you all just standing there for? Hurry up and shoot her!”
The soldiers could see there was something strange about the girl, and for a moment, none of them dared move.
"Why are you still just standing there? Hurry up and shoot her!"
Just then, a dignified rebuke echoed through the clearing. Both the soldiers and the servant turned around, and when they saw who'd arrived, they all knelt to the ground.
The man who'd just arrived was tall and stalwart. He was bearded, and his hair was bound up in a golden circled encrusted with purple gemstones. His satin robes were deep maroon, and his blue-satin shoes were lavishly decorated.
His gait was powerful and majestic, with an air of imperial authority.
The man nodded calmly to the crowd, then took a few steps toward the girl embracing the little fox.
"I didn’t know an immortal had arrived. I apologize for not welcoming you earlier."
"I see they called you 'your highness,’ so you must be King Zhou of Shang?" snorted the girl.
"I am indeed," he said with a noncommittal nod. "Could I possibly learn your esteemed name?"
"Xia Liuli," she said, rolling her eyes.
"Fairy Xia Liuli," he said, smiling politely, totally unconcerned with her poor manners. "Just now, my subordinates perhaps offended you. I hope you will forgive their shortcomings.”
With that, he turned and called to the royal princess within the horse-drawn carriage.
"Qiu Wen, come over and apologize to the immortal."
“But that fox of hers just bit me."
The Royal princess pulled aside the curtains, revealing her sour expression.
"I told you to come out and apologize," roared the king.
Shockingly, she just contemptuously closed the curtains, then shouted to her servants, "Let's go, this princess is tired."
Without any regard whatsoever for King Zhou, the driver did as she commanded and drove off.
Before long, only King Zhou and one of his eunuchs remained in the clearing.
And, of course, Xia Liuli and the fox, too.
King Zhou of Shang's expression as unsightly. After a while, he got his emotions under control and smiled apologetically at her.
"I've incurred your ridicule.”
From the start, he'd presented as both modest and polite. This was totally at odds with his foolish and violent reputation.
Xia Liuli looked at him in confusion, then said despite herself, "You’re not like the rumors.”
"What do they say about me? That I'm muddle-headed and unprincipled? That I’ve plunged the people into the depths of suffering?” he said with a worn look and a hint of bitterness.
"Yup," she said.
"Rumors spread like wildfire, especially given the masses’ ignorance. It’s only natural that my image is like that, but they truly don't know what I've been through. Still, I can't blame them for it. While I’ve held the throne, the people have suffered disaster after disaster. They don’t know who to blame, so they blame me. It’s understandable,” he said, expression wounded. I’m willing to bear their curses, but now the Shang Dynasty shall fall in my hands. Such is fate,! such are the times!”
Seeing this, the eunuch by his side said frantically, "Your majesty, this isn't your fault at all. This is a chaotic era. Your ministers have split into parties and the regional lords pay you no heed. You have power in name only; no matter how capable you are at governance, you have no way of displaying your talents. All I can say is that sycophants have taken power, the heavens are unfair!
King Zhou of Shang let out a long sigh. His gaze was worn and weary as he cupped his hands respectfully at Xia Liuli and left in silence.
Behind him, Xia Liuli frowned, then called out, “Hey, just now you said all that, but how am I supposed to know if you’re telling the truth or not? Do you dare let me follow you home? I'd like to see if what you’re saying is true!”