Lord Yuan Bao pondered over it for a few days as the crew made their way to Huazhou. The battle between the Rongs was still ongoing but bound to end soon. Zhangsun Wuji had passed on the matter to his subordinate to settle before starting on the journey. Naturally, he had hoped that certain people wouldn't tag along but if they had to it was fine as well. He was going to send them packing sooner or later.
What he hadn't expected was his guinea pig's scheme to sell his woman to the rival.
They rested at the foot of Huazhou's Ning Mountain to rest. Tie Cheng, also Meng Fuyao's guard, had surveyed the surroundings earlier on. By right, big figures like them should be accompanied by a lot of guards, but these few people enjoyed freedom. Zhangsun Wuji's guards had always been secretly hiding and protecting him, while Zhan Beiye had complete confidence in his own ability. Ya Lanzhu believed that it was others' luck if she didn't cause them trouble, and Zong Yue had always walked alone. The few of them cast pitiful glances over at Meng Fuyao, as though she was a little bird that required much protection.
The "little bird" was being treated very well. During tea, the War God personally filled her cup but accidentally spilled it all over her sleeves. Embarrassed he hurriedly wiped it away, only to be interrupted by Zhangsun Wuji's frosty voice. "She doesn't drink tea."
Meng Fuyao couldn't bear to look at Zhan Beiye. She stood up and announced, "I'm going to relieve myself."
Lord Yuan Bao jumped onto the shoulder immediately, gesturing that he also needed to pee.
"Kidney failure?" Meng Fuyao snorted. "Didn't you pee not long ago?" While squabbling in this manner, they made their way behind the shed.
Some time later squeaks could be heard clearly. They were long and trembly, first increasing in pitch then gradually dropping. The squeaking sounded like the inharmonious sounds a woman and man-made on the bed. Zhangsun Wuji pricked his brows and chuckled. Yuan Bao's habit of singing while doing number two had come out again, and his singing skill was getting from startling to absolutely shocking.
He sipped on his tea, and upon looking up, Zhan Beiye was gone.
Stunned, it occurred to him that not everyone could accept the guinea pig's singing voice. Listening to him sing was no different from experiencing the ten greatest torture pieces of equipment. When he sang in his low, raspy voice, abnormal scenes would start popping into people's heads. Zhan Beiye had probably interpreted that the guinea pig was calling for help, and immediately assumed, with a man's imagination, that Meng Fuyao's clothes were being torn in a dark alley.
Zhangsun Wuji smiled while refilling his cup.
'I see what you're doing, guinea pig…'
In the toilet, Lord Yuan Bao was singing at the top of his lungs while squatted on Meng Fuyao's shoulder. While he sang, he stuck his head out and looked around. 'Why isn't he here yet… she's almost done…'
"Please stop singing," Meng Fuyao begged, "I'd rather you sing 'The Eighteen Touches'…"
At this moment, the sharp-eyed Yuan Bao spotted a black figure sweeping over from afar.
"Squeak---" Lord Yuan Bao ended his call with the highest and most powerful screech before leaping out of the window.
Startled, Meng Fuyao zipped her pants and shouted, "What's wrong with this stupid rat…"
A gust of wind rolled over, and the sight before her eyes lit up.
A black and red silhouette swept toward her, pulling the curtain aside. "Fuyao, what enemy…"
Before him, stood a slim, tender lady with untidy clothes. Her blouse was slightly lifted, and her bottom wasn't exactly pulled up properly. As such, exposed in between her dark clothes was a strip of jade-like skin that appeared exceptionally bright.
She looked up in surprise with her mouth slightly parted. Feeling embarrassed over having her privacy invaded in this manner, Meng Fuyao blushed, her redness resembling that of candles. In contrast to her translucent skin, it carried a hazy radiance.
Zhan Beiye held his breath, instantly being suffocated by her beauty. It was as if he had witnessed the blooming of the crape myrtle in her mother's palace many years back. When he had turned back to the corridor, he had seen his mother standing before the flowers, embracing the gentle breeze while smiling at him with brilliantly lit eyes.
His heart ached. The pain snapped him out of his daze and into reality - Meng Fuyao was relieving herself, there was no enemy, and her pants weren't properly zipped yet.
The War God felt his body burn.
When Meng Fuyao finally came out of shock and embarrassment, she started dangerously raising her brows. At this point, especially, Zhan Beiye was basically on fire.
He withdrew in a panic, not knowing what to say. As Zhan Beiye was overly anxious, he had forgotten about the curtain cloth in his hand.
It came tearing down!
Meng Fuyao's half squat above the toilet bowl was instantly captured by the individuals who joined in.
A brief silence followed.
"Die, Zhan Beiye!"
Meng Fuyao's growl sent the perching birds flying all over the sky, and under everyone's eyes, Zhan Beiye's face turned chestnut green. He attempted to fix the curtains, but Meng Fuyao angrily snatched it over, stepped and trampled on it while tying her pants properly.
Then, her face changed. As if nothing had happened she patted Zhan Beiye on his shoulder, explaining, "I was just scolding you for fun. Had to distract them so as to secure my pants."
She clapped her hands and walked off handsomely, leaving Zhan Beiye smiling bitterly in his spot. He wasn't sure if he should be thankful to or hate the eccentric side of Meng Fuyao.
She walked off laughing, not the least bit bothered. Later on, she rummaged through Lord Yuan Bao's snack box until Zhangsun Wuji asked for it back.
That night, Lord Yuan Bao had diarrhea and kept on burping non-stop…
On the same night, the few of them stayed in an inn, even paying for a whole courtyard. Since all of them were hard to please and none was willing to share a space with another, each ended up with a room of their own.
They had dinner in the guesthouse, their dishes kept warm with pots, similar to modern hotpot. They sat, enjoying all the different types of meat and vegetables, while Meng Fuyao arrived a step later after a shower. "How fragrant," she commented from afar.
Upon sitting down, two bowls of soup were handed over to her. On her left was Zhangsun Wuji, who smiled and said, "Rabbit meat. You like it." On her right was Zhan Beiye, who added, "Too much meat, too much heat. The mushrooms here are pretty delicious and soft. Try them."
Meng Fuyao stared at the soup as if staring at two bowls of poison. Ya Lanzhu slapped her chopsticks on the table, pouting. "I had neither meat nor soup."
As if she was invisible, the two men appeared indifferent. Zong Yue, on the other hand, unhurriedly put a piece of yam into her bowl. "Eat this to clear body heat and regain energy."
Hearing the sarcasm in his voice, Meng Fuyao had to bite her lips to avoid laughing. She retrieved the black pepper that belonged to Zhangsun Wuji from her robe. She had already dried and ground it into powder, so she simply sprinkled a little into both bowls. "These are best drank spicy. Come try it, you two." At that, she pushed both bowls back to them.
Zhangsun Wuji smiled before taking a mouthful of soup. Zhan Beiye, on the other hand, lifted the bowl and gobbled everything down. It was very spicy, but he drank it urgently, coughing in the process. Wanting to pat his back to ease his discomfort, Yan Lanzhu reached a hand out, only to receive a death glare from him.
Meng Fuyao pretended not to have seen it. Instead, she buried her face into the bowl and started drinking . 'How am I to survive the next few days…'
Ya Lanzhu ran over suddenly to grab her, saying that she wouldn't be able to sleep alone and needed company, but her intentions were immediately seen through by Meng Fuyao. The former was definitely afraid that Zhan Beiye would crawl on the latter's bed.
'That was just once, and an exception… can't have everyone developing the habit of crawling onto others' beds can we?'
She was secretly happy about Ya Lanzhu's request nevertheless. At the very least she wouldn't need to receive Zhan Beiye, and Zhangsun Wuji's kind acts. They started chatting on their beds when Meng Fuyao asked her about how she had fallen for Zhan Beiye. Ya Lanzhu grabbed onto her pillow with dreamy eyes, and said, "I don't know either. I only remember following my brother on his visit to Heaven Demon Nation. I got lost in TIansha palace and found a beautiful hall in the process. There he was, washing the hair of a very beautiful woman. I've never seen anything like that. Father and brother only had women washing their hair, and if the temperature was a tad too hot or cold, they would award the hairdresser with a flying kick. At that time I stood in front of the pace, looking at the crape myrtles and at how he slowly cleaned the woman' hair. As he used the cloth to dry her hair bit by bit, I fell into a sudden daze…"
As did Meng Fuyao in the mid of Ya Lanzhu's story.
Many, many years ago, the long forgotten prince was squatting before the water bucket in a secluded but flower-filled palace and washing the hair of his mad mother. The cluster of black hair in his palm was like the flowing of time. It represented the days where they could only rely on each other. While she was lost in her own world, she always enjoyed his meticulous care and protection. Be it in the winter cold, summer storm or spring rain, he had been determined to preserve her bleak yet blissful life.
Life for him was bitter, though. Someone had to bear the burden, and since it wasn't his mad and blissfully ignorant mother, it was him who had to endure the pain and loneliness. The heavy responsibility, which belonged to both him and his mother, had fallen on his tender shoulders ever since he was a child.
Meng Fuyao finally understood the reason for Zhan Beiye's radiant and heroic character. He couldn't not be radiant. His poor mother needed all the light and warm she could get to suppress the icy grief deep in her heart. If he were to remain gloomy, who could possibly illuminate her dark world? If he were to be gloomy, which of his sly brothers wouldn't take the chance to slap on a "problematic child" label onto him?