When Xu Mo woke up again, her body felt relaxed without the unbearable pain she had imagined.
Although they were fully clothed, why was Yunfu on her bed?
She swallowed and gently removed the quilt then parted the drape. When she was sure there was no one else, she got down from the bed.
From the closet, she took out a white dress with orchids embroidered on the collar and put it on. She was just about to go behind the folding screen to get washed when the man sat upright facing away from her. His long hair was black as ink and his clothes were white as snow. The invisible light wind swayed his layers of clothing but his graceful composure remained unwavering.
Xu Mo wanted to step closer but her footsteps paused when she realised she had not washed yet. When she was about to call someone to fetch some water, he slowly turned around.
She rubbed her eyes and asked awkwardly, "Yunfu, why are you here?"
"Can I not?" Yunfu asked in a crystal clear voice.
Xu Mo shook her head, "Of course not." At that moment, she wanted to run away and wash her face as it took a lot of courage to speak to him with an unkempt appearance.
Whereas he slowly walked towards her with light footsteps.
"Do you still remember what I said last time before I left?"
The young lady stared blankly. What he said last time…
What did he say…
The man's eyes dimmed under the mask when he looked at her as she thought very hard and said, "You forgot."
Xu Mo was startled and took a step back then raised three fingers to whisper, "I did not mean to."
After a long while, he sighed, "No matter, I will tell you again……"
When he finished, the young lady was stunned as if by thunder and fixated her gaze on him.
The mask concealed the man’s slightly flushed face and he replied in an angry yet ashamed tone, “You don’t want to.”
When Xu Mo snapped out of it, she frantically shook then nodded her head in confusion. She pondered to herself, this was not a question of whether I want to or not!
She seriously replied, "Did you not say before that you wanted to live out your life in secrecy within the mountains? I am destined to stay here in the imperial city with a husband so I cannot put you under such injustice."
Yunfu stepped closer and whispered gently in her ears, "I think you forgot that in the Jing Kingdom we share wives. Even if you had married to an Emperor, you would still need to abide the law."
Xu Mo was afraid to lift her head and move, "But you clearly knew I am not from here and the place I was originally from we are monogamous. Perhaps one day I will return there but what will happen to you. The right chancellor is the legitimate husband of the princess but where will you go."
The man's eyes sparkled at her thoughtfulness and replied, "That day when you told me of your story. I had already used the art of divination* and found that the princess was long gone and you are destined to be here." Yunfu did not want to tell her that for her to return, they need to find the seven destiny dragons when the seven stars align the sun.
*TL-note: Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardised process or ritual.
"What do you mean." She said with tears in her eyes.
Is she never going to be able to go back?
He looked at the saddened figure and pulled her into his embrace then softly said, "Is it that bad to stay here? I can look after you for the rest of your life."
The young lady was deep in thought and hardly even reacted to his sudden action or words.
The man grinned, "Even if you do not agree, you've already accepted my betrothal gift."
Xu Mo hurriedly broke away and asked, "When did I accept?"
"Last time when I was applying the needles. You ate the rare hundred-year-old snow lotus pill I gave you. It can cure all kinds of poison so you be will healthy like others after two years."
Xu Mo became mad in an instance and said, "You are so crafty, I didn't even know." She does remember hazily being fed something fragrant but to be calculated like this by him made her very unhappy.
Yunfu stroked her soft hair and replied in a serious tone, "But you've already eaten it. If you can spit it out now then we can call off the wedding."
"So let's get married!" The tone was final and decisive.
But Xu Mo continued to protest, "I don't even know what you look like. Wouldn't it be unfortunate for an exquisite beauty like me if you aren't good looking?" Although she had said this, surely the face under that mask would not fall too short for someone as charismatic as him.
The man looked down and smiled even wider underneath the mask then slowly moved his hands under his jaw.
Xu Mo's eyes widened when the mask was lifted, how does one describe this face! She never thought to be stunned again by another man's appearance after Li Rufeng but it was as if this man was destined to be greatly admired. He had a pair of deep crystal clear eyes with a high nose bridge and his thin lips were slightly pursed. His skin colour was translucent and sparkling like snow while his ebony black hair swayed freely behind his shoulders. His tall refined figure stood elegantly like a celestial being from the heavens dressed in white.
She suddenly remembered verses from [Luo Shenfu*] which wrote, "Her moving step is graceful just like that of the startled swan, and as elegant and swift as that of the swimming goddess fish. Her figure is full of life like that of the thriving chrysanthemum and well developed like the thriving spring pine; now appearing and now disappearing like the thin clouds shield the moon and changeably flowing like the snowflakes dance in the hazy mist. Examining her from a far distance, you may find she is as bright as the morning rising sun. Examining from the near place, you may find that she is as pretty as the lotus flower just rising from under the clear water." She found this to be perfect for him although they were used to describe a woman. If someone were to look upon at such a person, they will surely develop a perception that all else was unimportant and there can be only him between the heaven and earth……
"Satisfied," asked Yunfu with a smile. Originally he did not like his own overly attractive appearance but it was worth it when the person in front of him liked it.
*TL-note: Luo Shenfu is a poem written by poet Cao Zhi which depicts his encounter with the Goddess of Luo River.