Trip to the Imperial Palace(1)
That night she didn’t sleep well and kept wailing in her sleep. Her mother and grandfather were so worried about her that it led them to not being able to sleep. They couldn’t comprehend what happened.
Yue Mian woke up the next day in a daze. She felt empty and looked around on her bed. The thing she was looking for was nowhere to be found, with a hazy memory after waking up she remembered what it was and where it went.
The noisy and fluffy thing that was responsible for waking her up was no longer there. He mouth twitch at the thought. A sting passed through her heart. Tears began to form in her waterline while she mouthed his name “Gãowán”.
“YuMi?” her mother called out to her, she noticed now that she was not alone and her mother was by her side.
She asked where Gãowán was. She was told that they buried him behind their house in the garden. She followed her mother to his grave and started crying. In her heart, she kept saying she was sorry that she could not save him.
He was her best friend that protected her and all she did was watch him die. Her mother told her it wasn’t her fault, but deep down she couldn’t forgive herself for what happened to him, after all, if she never went fishing, he would still be alive and by her side right now.
After returning home he grandfather and a few other soldiers came over after hearing she was up and asked about what happened; Yue Mian told them what happened, detailing the entire fight, from the beginning to the end when she woke up, but also hiding the fact that something terrible began to brew in her heart.
They truly were shocked after hearing about it all. Her grandfather smiled, embraced her and said she shouldn’t worry and should stop crying. Gãowán didn’t die in vain, he saved her life and killed the mountain tiger.
After finding Yue Mian yesterday they searched the area for the cause and found the mountain tiger’s body not far off, it bled to death while running away, leaving a bloody trail behind, which led them to it.
She wasn’t happy after hearing this because Gãowán was already dead and nothing would bring him back to life!
During the rest of the week she stayed home and did nothing, she kept reminiscing about her time together with Gãowán, she wanted to cry, but no tears came out.
When she first got him, he scared her with his loveable behaviour, but she got used to it over time. He would constantly pull on her hair making it wet and slimy with his saliva; the bigger he grew the smaller she felt, but because she was small, she could ride his back like a horse.
The part she misses about him the most is when it was bedtime, he would always sleep with her and she could use him as a pillow and vice versa, the two of them were inseparable and the nights after he died, she struggled to fall asleep.
A week went by and she was back to normal, smiling at everyone just like how she was before Gãowán died; with this, she found out that she was truly very good at hiding her emotions, but what they all noticed was that after the incident, she became more dedicated to her studies and practised martial arts as much as the soldiers did.
Crown Prince An Cheng would come by and hang out with her, but she seemed so distant to the point where she no longer bothered to practice with him as they used to and he would always be initiating conversation when in the past, she would mumble on about nonsense making him happy and unlike now where he felt like he was being a nuisance.
Five years passed in the blink of an eye and her body changed, she had little lumps growing on her chest that were firm to the touch. Her stomach muscles were firm and you could count them, which soon will form a six pack in the future. Her arm muscles looked more manly than feminine, but no one could tell since her arms were most of the time covered.
Her relationship with her mother was also slowly growing distant and the relationship she had with her grandfather became a bit unbearable and suffocating for her since he was also her master when training. She loved him, she really did, but why did he stop her from training so hard? He wanted her to learn martial arts and sword fighting, but now that she was dedicated to both arts, it was a problem?
“Grandfather, I do not understand you. Ever since I was little we spent time together training, but now what is the problem? Do you no longer want me practising martial arts? If so why?” she asked with a confused gaze.
Her grandfather called her over and sat her down to talk, interrupting her training session because he wanted to speak to her when he would usually watch over her and speak at the same time. So why this and why now?
General Ye sighed. His little granddaughter had grown up before his eyes, but she was so different in front of him now than she was when she was a little girl. He didn’t know where the time went, “YuMi, don’t be angry at grandfather. I know I disrupted your training and I am sorry, but we need to speak.”
“Speak about what?” she questioned, glancing over at her grandfather who seemed to be a bit awkward around her.
“How are you doing? We haven’t bonded for a while now, how about we go buy you some new dresses at the market and visit your mother and grandmother at the store while we are at it?” he suggested.
She looked at her grandfather and frowned, “Grandfather, you should know I don’t like dresses, I am very healthy so you don’t need to ask such a trivial question. Mama and grandmother are busy so it is best that we don’t disturb them while they are working, we’ll see them when they get home later in the evening.”
General Ye wanted to grab her and drag her out of the army base and force her to go with him, but he couldn’t, he hid his urge to yell at her and calmed himself down, “YuMi, grandfather is worried about you, you don’t play with children your age anymore, all you do is train and nothing else since you finished your studies with your mother. Come, how about we go pay the Emperor a visit and Crown Prince An Cheng, mn? The Emperor misses you and so do the Empress and princesses.”
Yue Mian looked at her grandfather and gritted her teeth before nodding her head, agreeing to go with him. She and the royal siblings never got along since she was given the title Royal God Daughter. She returned to their home and washed her dirty body, fixing her hair up in a loose ponytail. She put on a white robe matched with a pale blue fabric belt wrapped at her waist. This was paired with white slippers that had a silver dragon embroidered on each side of her them.
She went out back and looked outside her bedroom window, gazing at her reflection in the nearby pond and shook her head. Doll’ing up to visit Emperor An was a hassle that she would rather be rid of. She was not looking forward to meeting up with the Royal siblings either.
She met with her grandfather outside their home, who had two horses with him. He sat on a black saddled stallion and she got onto the back of the beautiful white horse that Emperor An gifted her for her 10th birthday this year.
The army base wasn’t far away from the Xiěyè Empire’s Imperial Palace, but it was a fair distance away by foot. Nearly everyone rode a horse there because the Imperial Palace itself was huge and walking from place to place was impractical. Soldiers also tended to be efficient people. War wasn’t something they really had to worry about, but habits of readiness were ingrained in them. So energy conservation was crucial when visiting the valley-like palace.
After arriving at the palace, they were greeted respectfully by the palace guards; after entering the palace gate, a long gold and red velvet train carpet met Yue Mian’s eyes. She sighed at the sight of it. It went all the way up a stone staircase that also seemed endless when you looked at it from a distance away.
Her grandfather walked with large strides towards those stairs, past a row of one hundred palace guards stationed on each side of the long and intimidating velvet mat. She looked at her grandfather who was walking at a rather fast pace and sighed, [For what good reason should I waste my energy keeping up with you old man?] she thought to herself.
Near her, a palace guard turned his head to look her way, she saw this through the corner of her right eye; she slowly turned her head to look at him and he bowed slightly with his right hand held out towards the carpet motioning for her to walk towards the palace, she rolled her eyes at this, [Even you are telling me to walk?]
She stepped forward and slowly made her next step. She continued walking with this maddeningly slow pace while looking at each palace guard, examining them. They all looked at her one by one with a puzzled expression. Her actions were very off. Scoffing inside, she continued on and on for almost an hour and finally arrived at the top of the staircase beside her grandfather who was glaring at her.
She held her hands up in surrender looking at him innocently as if she did nothing wrong, General Ye flicked his left arm’s sleeve while glaring at her saying with his eyes, “You dare act tardy before the Emperor.” She raised her brows while widening her eyes. The eunuch who was speaking with General Ye before she arrived chuckled on the side. He then cleared his throat, making the grandfather and granddaughter pair look at him.
“General Ye, Miss Ye Yue Mian, should I announce your presence to His Majesty?” asked the eunuch, with his hands folded in front of him as a sign of respect.
General Ye looked at Yue Mian. The two of them shared a glance before she pulled her arms behind her back and looked at her grandfather with an indifferent glance. General Ye shook his head and told the eunuch he could. The eunuch walked away to fulfil his duties, leaving them waiting for ten minutes whereupon he returned and led them to the garden inside the Imperial Palace where the Emperor was awaiting their arrival.