The situation made Ye Jiayao nervous. She didn’t want to know other people’s secret. Secrets that were this type could sometimes cost a life. She had to restore the brush pot, otherwise, she was a dead meat.
How do I do this??Ye Jiayao tried to put the pieces back together and failed.
Damn! I’m doomed this time!??Ye Jiayao was so anxious, she kept pulling her hair. If she knew this would happen, she wouldn’t have gone into the study. They were right – the curiosity does kill the cat.
Since she was going to get killed anyway, Ye Jiayao decided to go down swinging and unfolded the small piece of paper that was hidden in the brush pot.??What the hell! If Chunyu’s going to strangle me, I might as well know what I’m being killed?over.
Wasn’t that the map of Black Wind Ridge? She could clearly see the outline of the Panlong mountain and the Yanxia lake. There were also markings that indicated covert and undercover officers. There was even a landmark that was especially?marked with “Mi”. Ye Jiayao also noted the bold, thick lines in twists and turns, drawn from Juyi hall to the back of Black Wind Ridge. Was that a secret tunnel? It seemed like there was an alternate route to the Black Wind Ridge.
This must be the top secret of Black Wind Ridge! Ye Jiayao’s heart raced and she immediately grabbed a pen and paper to copy down the map.
Her escape from the mountains might depend on this map.
However, Ye Jiayao could not rejoice just yet because there was a more pressing matter. She still had to figure out how to restore the brush pot. If she could not fix it, she was sure that she wouldn’t even get a chance to use the map she just drew.
Ye Jiayao folded the map and put it back at the notch at the bottom of the pot. She carried the brush pot and took a candlestick before returning to her bedroom. She did not want Song Qi to know that she was in Chunyu’s study. She needed to find a way to restore the brush pot even if she had to sacrifice her sleep to do it.
Peng Wu unexpectedly came back early and shouted from outside, “Sister-in-law, why are you not asleep yet?”
Ye Jiayao was so startled that she dropped the brush pot on the bed. “I am not sleepy. I am just reading some books,” she answered quickly.
“Alright,” Peng Wu said. After she heard him return to the east bedroom, she continued to study the brush pot.
Ancient people were surprisingly smarter and more advanced than she thought. The brush pot’s mechanism design was so delicate that she couldn’t figure it out, and she had been at it for more than two hours!
Ye Jiayao was already feeling dizzy from the lack of sleep?and she still hasn’t fixed the damned brush pot. She wanted to just smash the whole thing but she knew she couldn’t. Her life literally depended on that stupid thing, so she?had to force herself to figure it out.
“Big sister, haven’t you slept yet?” Peng Wu called from outside.
“Slept,” she croaked, lying because she did not want Peng Wu to suspect her.
After a while, Peng Wu said, “Be careful with the candle fire.”
“I know. I’m just afraid of being alone in the dark so I lit it up.”
Peng Wu didn’t answer but she heard him retreat to his quarters once again.
I can’t do this anymore! My brain is fried!??Ye Jiayao was frustrated and so sleepy that she decided to just take a nap. Maybe after sleeping, her mind would be clear enough to make a viable solution for her problem.
However, instead of waking up to a bright idea, Ye Jiayao woke up to someone banging on the door.
“Open the door! Ye Jingxuan, open the door!”
Oh, God! It’s Chunyu!?Chunyu was already back. Ye Jiayao opened her eyes in panic and immediately sat up.
Ye Jiayao saw the still separated brush pot she held in her arms and almost broke down in tears.?F*ck! I’m really dead this time!
She called out, “Just a second, let me put on clothes.”
Ye Jiayao hurriedly walked to the study and placed the brush pot back to where it belonged.?She put the brush in it, just like how she found it before and rearranged it so it doesn’t look like it was even moved.
After she was satisfied that Chunyu wouldn’t be able to immediately tell that something was wrong with it, she ran to open the door.
“Why did you take so long?” Xia Chunyu scowled unhappily.
“Putting on clothes takes time,” Ye Jiayao said weakly, before doing a double take, “Woah, is that blood on you? Chunyu, did you get hurt? Where is the wound?” Ye Jiayao saw the horrifying blood on Xia Chunyu’s clothes and was instantly worried.
Xia Chunyu walked into the room and said blankly, “It’s not my blood, its other people’s.”
She looked nervous and worried. Xia Chunyu was used to people who dread him, especially when they find out that he’s killed somebody. There was not a single person who would come up and care for him in the state he was currently in. Seeing her troubled by his well-being warmed his heart.
“You… You killed someone?” Ye Jiayao knew that he was a bandit and that his job was robbing and killing. It was just a shock to her eyes, seeing so much blood on him.
Xia Chunyu opened the wardrobe and took out some clean clothes. “If I don’t kill them, they will kill me. Do you want to be a widow?”
Ye Jiayao shook her head immediately. She didn’t know that being a bandit was such a dangerous job.
“Go and fetch a pot of water for me.” Xia Chunyu saw her standing in the middle of the room, looking like a fish out of the water, and couldn’t help but antagonize her.
Xia Chunyu washed his face and body before changing into clean clothes.?“I will go to first brother’s place, you can sleep for a bit more.”
After that parting comment, he left.
Ye Jiayao stared after him and saw the east chamber’s door open. Peng Wu walked out and talked to Chunyu for a bit, following Chunyu as he made his way across the courtyard.
Ye Jiayao closed the door and ran back to study. It might take a while before Chunyu can leave first-in-charge’s place. She could only pray that she could fix?the brush pot before Chunyu came back.
Last night, she couldn’t see clearly because the candlelight was yellowish. Today, as she looked at it in a better light, she noticed that one eye of the zodiac dragon head was a bit different.?Ye Jiayao used a needle to poke the eye, and it revealed three small protruded parts at the bottom of the cylinder.?They were able to fit in the notches of the bottom by matching them! Ye Jiayao rejoiced as she twisted it to put them together. She almost passed out in relief when she heard that they locked together stably.
Yes!?Ye Jiayao wiped her sweat and took a deep breath.?God! That was terrifying!?She vowed not to touch his things anymore in the future.
She returned the brush pot to where it was. The problem was, she couldn’t remember exactly how it was placed. Chunyu hid a very important item in here, its placement was surely highly considered. He?must’ve known all the details on how he arranged it by heart. Ye Jiayao intentionally brought a rag to clean the study. This way, even if Chunyu found out that the brush pot had been moved, she could find a legitimate excuse to answer him with.
Every day, Song Qi was tasked to gather the ingredients for their meal. Ye Jiayao would only cook whatever he could find in the kitchen.?Today, he barely got any food to cook, except a carp. The rest of what he was able to get was all vegetables. It was a good thing that they still have some marinated meat and mutton. Ye Jiayao decided to make braised lamb, stewed carp, stir-fried potato, green pepper, and eggplant, as well as sweet and sour lotus root.
Song Qi, just like in any other times she had cooked in the past, was her helping hand. “I heard from the village that the second-in-charge and third-in-charge got ambushed when they went down the mountain. Second-in-charge was wounded in action,” Song Qi said as he picked cowpeas.
“Was the wound grave?” Ye Jiayao asked, not really caring if others get hurt or not. She didn’t care as long as Chunyu wasn’t hurt. She was already reassured because he saw him change clothes earlier. His body was untouched. She couldn’t even find a mosquito bite.
“They said it was very serious, but I am not sure yet. We won’t know for certain until third-in-charge comes back,” Song Qi replied.
However, Chunyu didn’t come back. It was only through Peng Wu that they were informed?that third-in-charge would take people to go down the mountain, Peng Wu included.
After hearing that, Ye Jiayao put the fish she was preparing to cut back in the basin.
“It is almost lunchtime! You don’t want to eat a bit before going down the mountain?” Ye Jiayao asked.
Peng Wu answered, “I can’t, big sister. The second-in-charge is still downhill, and first-in-charge and third-in-charge are worried. We need to get him back.”
“Peng Wu, what is going on? How did they get ambushed? Who did this? Officers and soldiers?” Song Qi asked.
“Who else can wound the second-in-charge except the Shadowless Arrow Feng Chong in Xin Yi? It was a hidden arrow. If we lose here, how do we face the prospect of surviving in the society?”?Peng Wu was filled with righteous indignation as he ranted.
“I’m done, I have to go.” Peng Wu waved and walked away irritably.
“Isn’t Xin Yi a town? It’s not a bandit nest, so why would we have anything to do with them?” Ye Jiayao asked, trying to get more information.
Song Qi explained, “Big sister, it’s understandable that you don’t know because you’re from another place. Xin Yi is a town, yes, but it is similar to a bandit nest. Most people there had the surname of Feng. They were led by Cover Sky Tiger Feng Chao Lin. There are many martial arts masters who worked for him, such as Shadowless Arrow Feng Chong and Thunder God-Fist Du Heng. They are bullies and gangsters, and have done more bad things than Black Wind Ridge.”
“Why doesn’t the government destroy them?”
“Xin Yi is building a chastity memorial arch to belie the truth of being a bitch. They have a close relationship with the local council as well,” Song Qi sneered.
After his tirade, Song Qi remembered that he was talking to his sister-in-law. He scratched his head, suddenly embarrassed by his thoughtless use of curse words.
Ye Jiayao thought that Xin Yi was smart. They were doing robbery for a living and getting recognition from the government for it. They were essentially a licensed bandit group that can act against law and reason.
“Who has more power? Xin Yi or Black Wind Ridge?”
“Of course, it’s Black Wind Ridge! We are stronger than them, especially after third-in-charge joined. Our Black Wind Ridge has already won a couple of skirmishes against Xin Yi.?This time, it must’ve been only an accident that the second-in-charge got hurt.”
No matter how strong Black Wind Ridge was, they could not win against someone with a license. Ye Jiayao wondered if first-in-charge would learn from the ancient history of Song Jiang in Shuibo Liangshan, and take a bunch of brothers to declare amnesty with the government.
“Sister-in-law, cowpeas are picked. Do I need to peel the potatoes?” Song Qi asked.
Ye Jiayao answered absent-mindedly, “It’s okay. It’s just the two of us for lunch. We can make do with frying the cowpeas.”
Song Qi wrinkled his nose, disappointed. Whenever the third-in-charge was away, the meals’ quality decreased like a straight line.
Peng Wu didn’t say when they would be back, so they took it upon themselves to find out the time of their return. At dinner time, Song Qi went to Broken Dragon Stone to wait for news. Ye Jiayao was left in the kitchen, preparing all the food to cook, as she waited.
The sky was almost dark when she saw Song Qi running back to the house. “Third-in-charge and the other brothers are back,” he panted.
Ye Jiayao asked, “Was the third-in-charge hurt?”
Song Qi shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Ye Jiayao stared at him, irritated that he didn’t pay enough attention. “Hurry and make a fire.”
The hot water had just boiled when Chunyu and Peng Wu entered the house. Ye Jiayao immediately sidled up to Chunyu’s side and said, “Do you want to take a shower first? The hot water is ready and dinner will be done soon.”
Xia Chunyu nodded, looking beyond exhausted.
As soon as Xia Chunyu was done cleaning up, a delicious meal was set and prepared on the table.
“Did you eat lunch?” Ye Jiayao asked as she scooped rice for him.
“I had a bun on the way,” Xia Chunyu answered.
“You must be hungry. Go on, eat. You too, Peng Wu,” Ye Jiayao said.
Xia Chunyu ate the hot and delicious food, his tiredness slowly fading away. This was the first time, since he came up the mountains, that he felt at home in this small yard.