Crown Prince’s Protection

“What’s your name?” Xiaolian asks the feminine looking man as he escorts her to the Storm Cloud Courtyard.

     “Don’t worry about my name. Just get in here and don’t make trouble.” He opens the door of a small building and shoves her into it.

     “You don’t have to be so rude I have done nothing wrong. I told you it was a misunderstanding me being there. What?  Are there artifacts or herbs to be stolen there?”

     “Noisy! Bathe… you stink! He grimaces as he looks at her face with dried blood and scratches. Use the healing lotion on that ghastly face of yours.I will return later when they decide what to do with you. I hope it is throw you off the cloud.”

     He leaves huffing under his breath, “What an intolerable wench, what does the Crown Prince have to do with that low born.”

     What a horrible little girlish man! She goes into the other room, there is a bath prepared, she slips in washing the smell of the Beast off her body. Picking the feathers out of her hair she feels sad for him, although it was her idea, he wanted to leave that place. Why were the gods be so unmerciful as to let him die a pitiful death. The image of his body flashes into her mind. She finishes bathing and sees there is a white dress there similar to the one the women in the crowd were wearing.

     Xiaolian slips into the pristine white gown, it must be here for me to wear. Her face is stinging so she looks in the cupboard for the healing lotion. After smelling several she recognizes one and applies it to her cheeks, instantly the stinging sensation disappears. What a strange place, I am obviously a prisoner  but they must have an obsession with cleanliness and beauty.

     Exhausted she lies on the bed, her qi she can feels is circulating through her at a good speed. She wonders what she needs to do on the Soaring Cloud Continent to complete this stage. How is she going to get there now, or is this ‘Sacred’ Cloud part of it . She needs some answers but is stuck here for now. Who was the incredibly handsome man on the ground and why would he save me?

     Xiaolian gets up from the bed, tries the door it is very heavy to push but doesn’t seem locked, looks like it is made of a purple stone of some sort. I need fresh air, being in that Black Abyss was suffocating. Hmm..it’s open. She strolls through the Courtyard. I wonder why it is called Storm Cloud Courtyard it is rather peaceful. Her mouth is parched and she needs some water. There is a pitcher on a stone table so she walks over to it. She pours a cup and sits down, propping her chin up on her hands, surveying the Courtyard. The old man said guards but I don’t see any here.

     The blue stone table is under a plum blossom tree, its fragrant flowers are dropping onto the ground with the breeze. This courtyard deserves a prettier name than Storm Cloud that sounds so ominous. After gulping down the water she feels somewhat refreshed, decides to concentrate on the manual within her mind. I need to go to a training ground and compete? How?  She chuckles,with little martial arts skills I possess  I will be instantly defeated… is there somewhere here I could absorb some spiritual energy first?

     Since it appears I am under the protection for the moment of that man, I shouldn’t be in immediate danger. Where are those guards, i could ask them a few questions.

     A black clothed guard is watching from a treetop at the beautiful girl below wandering around the Courtyard unaware of the dangers within its grounds if she attempts to leave.. he almost pities her naivete. He turns to get more comfortable leaning against the trunk of the tree. He closes his eyes, the thunder and lightening will awaken him if she makes a wrong move.

     Suddenly he feels a stinging pain at his temple. “Damn!”, he rubs his temple, his hand is smeared with blood. She threw a rock at me!

     He flies down from the tree landing directly in front of her, “YOU!” his eyes are bulging out from his head with the anger rising within him.

     “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you! I was calling and you didn’t answer, I just wanted to get your attention. Usually my aim is terrible, my first three rocks didn’t even hit the fourth branch. Also with your martial arts shouldn’t you have been able to hear me?”

     He was assigned here because on his last adventure his abilities were sealed on his return. He has only basic skills right now that is why they sent him to guard this little wench.

     “Didn’t Sun Guang tell you to stay inside?”

     “No”

     “Of course not, he hates unsightly women and probably wants you to die…haha”

     “That’s not funny! Why are you people so nasty? I just came here by mistake on my way to the Soaring Cloud Continent.”

     “This is the Soaring Cloud Continent.”

     “Huh? Why did they say it is sacred ground?”

     Sun Yi rubs his head, this girl has outstanding looks but isn’t very bright, “Did you get the mark from the Beast?

     “What mark?”

     “I guess you didn’t get it or you would know what I am talking about.”

     “Stop talking in riddles! What mark? She doesn’t want to explain how the beast escaped with her apparently she didn’t complete the trial there, she looks at her arms.

     “I guess I can explain it to you, most likely you will die soon anyway.”

     “Stop saying I’m going to die, I’m not going to die here! Worst case scenario I summon Wang Li Jie to come save me.

     Sun Yi is bored, he enjoys gossip so he sits at the table stretching his long legs out. They were feeling cramped up in that poplar tree.“You don’t know those elders, they are stubborn old men and you trespassed onto their sacred cloud. The only thing on your side is you know the Crown Prince and he gave you his protection for now. They are so excited he returned they stuck you here to sort out your fate later. “How did you meet him?” Rumor has it he disappeared a thousand years ago, strange the way he returned today.”

     “I don’t kn..” Xiaolian realizes she shouldn’t tell this gossipy man and stops mid sentence. “So you are saying this is the right place, I just came to the wrong area?”

      He wipes his bloody forehead with his sleeve,“Yes, a very..very..wrong area. The disciple contest grounds are on the other side of the Continent, past the Medicinal Valley and the Swampland of Forgotten Dreams. I don’t know how you would convince them it is a simple mistake, you need to be god level status to penetrate the array surrounding their sacred cloud. Did you use some demonic energy? No..they guard against that. You would have been better off having a quick death thrown off the cloud now they will use extreme methods to find out your connection to the Lost Prince.”

     “What is your name?”

     “Sun Yi.”

     “Yours?

     “Xiaolian”

     “Sun Yi, are you a disciple here? What are the contests? If I complete them will I pass through to the next stage of cultivation.”

     He is feeling relaxed around this girl, what would it matter if he tells her, it will pass the time more quickly until his replacement arrives. “There is an enclosed arena they let Mythological Beasts enter, several participants who want to be disciples or increase their cultivation are put in with the beasts. You can picture the rest.”

     Xiaolian shudders picturing wild beasts devouring her.

     Sun Yi thinks the way she just shook like a leaf when he told her that was very cute. He can’t help but wish he could get to know her better, she is much more beautiful than the other girls here.

  “Did you compete there too?”

   Sun Yi spits out his tea, “You really don’t know the Sun Family?”

  “No”

   “Well no need to talk about me… back to the contest..” He is beginning to believe she is just a clueless girl who ended up in this precarious position by a stroke of bad luck. “That is just the first part of the test, those that survive then need to climb a mountain made of ice and pick a White Immortal Lotus Blossom from a crevice near the top. If fate is with them maybe two people crawl back down the mountain, only one holding a Lotus Blossom. The final step”…as he is about to tell her another man dressed in an elaborate embroidered white robe leaps down and kicks Sun Yi’s legs off the stool he is resting them on.

     “SUN YI! You are supposed to be watching her not sharing tea!”

     “Sun Jing..where is the other guard? Why did they send you?”

     “If they knew you were talking with this low born intruder, father would place you kneeling in the ancestral hall for ten days! Don’t you ever learn!”

     “Brother..brother..it will be our secret..I will get you some Mystical Melon wine the next time I am allowed to leave!” he tugs on Sun Jing’s sleeve.

     “Leave!”

     Sun Yi was gone in a flash leaving Xiaolian  with his stone faced brother. Sun Jing sneers at her, “Well, you look more presentable than when I first saw you.” He stares at her intensely,she really has a unique beauty to her no wonder the Crown Prince is smitten with the little wench. The first thing he asked when he woke up after treatment was her whereabouts.

     I wonder who she is, he can’t stop his eyes from wandering over her body. He comes back to his senses, this is unlike him to be impressed with a girl’s beauty. He snaps at her, “Go into the house you will have a visitor soon.”

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