Still not found
The next day arrived and General Ye reported to the Imperial Palace. Yue Mian did not return home last night and wanted to know where she was.
When he arrived he was greeted by General Feng and his goddaughter. General Feng was full of smiles, smiling from ear to ear. He told General Ye about his daughter being chosen by the Crown Prince, but General Ye wasn’t in a good mood.
“I am sorry Feng maybe another day we can celebrate this but not today, my little YuMi did not return home last night,” explained General Ye was a worried expression on his face.
Hearing this General Feng’s goddaughter frowned, before General Ye rushed off she called him back and told him about what happened last night. She also overheard the Crown Prince berate his sisters who were laughing at her after the incident occurred.
Both General Ye and General Feng were shocked. They grew furious and glanced at each other. The two of them rushed to the Grand Council Hall to meet the Emperor, leaving Hǎi kuí behind.
Normally any woman would laugh and be happy about their rival going missing but Hǎi kuí was not the type who laughed at someone else’s misery. She knew Yue Mian through her godfather and had a good impression of her.
She knew that Yue Mian was together with the Crown Prince, this is why she did not want to meet the Crown Prince but fate had other plans for her. Although she was happy that she was chosen this was also an awkward position for her.
Arriving at the Grand Council Hall the eunuch announced the two general’s arrival with a yell. General Ye and General Feng entered the Grand Council Hall and was greeted by a furious look by Emperor An, but it soon changed to a guilty look.
“General Ye, General Feng” greeted Emperor An. He got from his throne and stood in front of it with his hands folded in front of him. At the bottom of the steps leading to his throne knelt the two Princesses, An Choeng and An Chong.
They were in tears and had red swollen faces. Emperor An’s personal eunuch was beside his throne, Crown Prince An too the right of the princesses with a frown on his face and Yu Sheng behind him.
To the left of the princesses, was the minister of discipline who was also the first general and Yu Sheng’s father General Yu. General Yu was also Yue Mian’s Royal Uncle from the Jīlěi Empire who married into the Xiěyè Empire after he got married becoming the disciple of the previous first General who retired due to an injury.
General Yu, in the beginning, did not know of this but Ni Xing invited him over for dinner and explained to him the situation. He too received news of their being a baby born between his cousin, the Crown Prince Rong Jīlěi and a servant.
He too searched for the two of them and was “still” searching for them when Ni Xing invited him over that day. He advised her to return to the Jīlěi Empire with her daughter but Ni Xing still refused, she also told him that if he did report them, she would kill both her and Yue Mian.
Seeing the determination in her eyes, he swore to her there and then that he would do whatever it takes to protect Yue Mian with all his power. He told his son Yu Sheng about this secret and Yu Sheng was shocked but like his father, he vowed to protect Yue Mian at all costs.
The father and son pair often travelled to the Jīlěi Empire to visit their relatives. Crown Prince Rong was his third cousin while he was the second, their first cousin was the current minister of health - their parents are siblings.
“Your majesty?” General Ye was about to greet the emperor but was waved off.
“General Ye, General Feng, the two of you have good timing, I was just about to punish the princesses,” said the emperor.
General Ye was about to say something but was cut off by Yu Sheng, he bowed and called to General Ye. “Last night the princesses arranged for her personal servant to hire a servant to burn Yue Mian’s hair but the servant they asked wasn’t brave enough and decided to cut her hair instead. She came clean about it and also the other servants in the Imperial Palace were gossiping about this before the event, in the beginning, I thought it was just a rumour but after seeing it happen,” Yu Sheng sighed and stopped explaining.
Waving his hands, the emperor returned back to his seat, he sighed and looked at General Ye, “I am truly sorry about this, I have spoilt my daughters too much, over the years they have been bullying Yue Mian and I thought that it was just their way of showing their affection for her.
Sighing once more, he placed his face, face down in his palm. A slight twitch played on Emperor An’s lips.
Removing his face from his palm and closed his hands into a fist. Slamming it down onto his thrones armrest he yelled, “is this how the two of you were raised? Playing dirty tricks on someone who is your sibling? Yue Mian is like a daughter to me, your father, THE EMPEROR, if I did not love the two of you, I would have you executed! The two of you are a disgrace, I can not believe that the two of you are my daughters!!”
Emperor An’s chest rose up and down as his anger reached the limit. He felt horrible that this happened to Yue Mian, although she wasn’t his daughter, he treated her like one. She was the daughter of the woman he loved and this was a huge disappointment and neglect on his side.
What will Ni Xing think of him?
The two princesses were shaking where they knelt and afraid to speak up. Their father was furious.
After another deep sigh, he turned his attention to General Ye and said, “When you return, please ask YuMi to visit the palace, I want her to decide on their punishment, if I do, I will banish them from the palace or lock them up.”
General Ye looked down at the backs of the princesses, his blood started boiling at their despicableness, he looked at the emperor and swallowed hard, “Your majesty, YuMi hasn’t returned, I was hoping she was with the Crown Prince.”
Everyone’s hearts started trembling, the emperor jumped up from his throne and looked at General Ye and asked him to repeat what he said, after repeating it again the emperor ordered for a search party to look for her.
General Yu secretly ordered his son to check all her hiding places.
Yu Sheng rode on horseback and arrived at the back of the mountains. He found Yue Mian’s horse tied to a tree. He looked around and couldn’t find her.
Standing near the boulders he yelled her name three times and finally got a response from her. She yelled back at him from inside the cave.
Yu Sheng climbed up the boulders and awkwardly walked forward in the dark, finally meeting her who was naked in the pond. He looked at the top of her head and saw that her hair was down.
The left side was cut short while the right side was still long and floating atop the pond’s water.
Yu Sheng’s eyes turned cold. “Don’t glare at me,” she ordered him. A chuckle escaped his lips. Walking over to her, he stood behind her then knelt down and leaned against the ponds wall and placed his right hand in the water and took hold of the hair floating in the water.
After he moved the hair, Yue Mian’s naked body was exposed, the lumps on her chest were rounded and firmer. A naughty grin appeared on Yu Sheng’s face, “YuMi, when did you grow breasts?” he asked with a mocking tone.
She turned to look at him and met his grin, with her left hand she splashed water onto his face and chuckled. Turning her head back to its original position she asked, “Is there a reason why she didn’t burn my hair?”
“Yes, she was scared of the consequences but also she had no choice. An Choeng’s personal maid was instructed by her to find someone to burn your hair, she did, the girl who was told to do it just started out as a servant and has family issues, she was paid silver to take care of her mother two moons ago by An Choeng then instructed to pull the stunt last night. An Choeng and An Chong, on the other hand, did not expect the servant to be so cowardly.”
When I questioned her, she told myself and General Yu what had happened and we brought An Choeng’s personal maid in for questioning, in the beginning, she kept denying it and only gave us all the information when General Yu threatened to flog her. She also admitted to all the bullying and said that the princesses have more things planned out for u,” he ended.
Yue Mian stood up and hit the water in front of her with her hands and glared at Yu Sheng, he eyes were widened while she bit on her molars and said in a hushed but angry tone, “Do those two not know when to stop? Do they really think I will let them go after this?”
Yu Sheng swallowed hard and stood up, he looked at the angry Yue Mian, then turned his head and said, “You are being indecent.”
“It’s not like you care how a woman looks!!” she answered him back, still furious.
A chuckle left Yu Sheng’s mouth and he turned to her saying, “Correct, I do not care for how a woman looks, but for you to compare yourself to a woman…” he trailed.
Yue Mian’s body slumped and she sat back down in the pond with her back facing Yu Sheng. “Your grandfather came looking for you.”
A sigh was heard coming from her. “My family always suffers because of me.”
“But you did nothing,” he said.
“I will use this chance and leave, will you be coming with me?” she asked him.
Yu Sheng’s eyes widened, “You don’t mean…”
“Yes, its time for me to leave now, An Cheng has someone by his side and the princesses have given me an excuse to leave this empire.
“It’s too early,” he murmured. “Then when should I leave? Now is the perfect time Sheng, you don’t have to come with me, also you have to keep this from my Royal Uncle,” she turned her head to her left side and looked at Yu Sheng from the corner of her eye and said, “You absolutely cannot tell him, do you understand?”
Closing his eyes he thought for a moment then slowly nodded his head, “Good,” she spoke.
Turning her head back and relaxing once again. Before he left to report to his father, he helped her by cutting her hair to an even length on both sides.
She instructed him to stay quiet about her being here and misinform his father. Yue Mian trusted both Yu Sheng and her royal uncle but chose to keep him in the shadows for now.
Yu Sheng knew almost everything about Yue Mian and her plans to return to the Jīlěi Empire, but what he did not know was that after leaving the Xiěyè Empire she wanted to travel first.
Yu Sheng returned and told his father that he couldn’t find her, General Yu began to worry.
A day went by and still, there was no sign of her. The nobles and Royals were on their toes, their children who were at the Coming of Age banquet were questioned and weren’t allowed to go home until their statements were given and inspected.
Ni Xing was frantic and a mess.
The days started passing by slower…
Yu Sheng took food and refreshments for Yue Mian and the two of them started planning the next event.