Wang Li Jie has his hands behind his back deep in thought as he paces around the Ice Flower Garden. He pauses rubbing his temples staring out at the snow he considers how to deal with Xiaolian’s return to the Mystical Garden. The situation has become chaotic, he seldom is at a loss for ideas but he is baffled how she managed to disrupt his entire plan. While he is trying to figure out a new plan Jiang Bai approaches taking large strides through the snow.
He bangs his hand on the gazebo in the middle of the garden shaking the structure, attracting Wang Li Jie’s attention,“Wang Li Jie, what the hell is going on?” he has just spoken to Xiaolian when she returned to her room to freshen up. “Who is Sun Qiang? Why are you allowing a strange man to return with Xiaolian? Where is he now?” He wants to get a look at this man.
“Dammit! Can’t you see I’m trying to think here!” The last thing he needs right now is this hothead disrupting his thoughts. She just upset his entire strategy for her return, he hasn’t let his mind clear to concentrate on a solution yet.“Lower your voice and remember who you are speaking to or you can die now! Do you think I actually agree with allowing him to accompany her!”
Wang Li Jie shares Jiang Bai’s concern but doesn’t appreciate his tone or manner. “If you let me concentrate for a minute I will think of something. Just be quiet and sit down.”
Jiang Bai starts pacing around the gazebo, the sound of his heavy steps are disrupting Wang Li Jie’s thoughts. “I said, “SIT DOWN!” Wang Li Jie stands up face to face with Jiang Bai, his patience has reached its breaking point. Killing intent is coming off both of them, they are about to raise their palms to strike when they hear a shriek coming from inside the palace.
They both rush in towards Xiaolian’s room to witness Sun Qiang wrestling with a Demonic Silent Mist Viper, he doesn’t appear to have any significant martial arts skills and is using brute strength to try to kill the poisonous snake. Xiaolian is standing in the corner of the room clutching a robe around her.
“Wang Li Jie, Jiang Bai help him!” she screams, terrified of the scene. The horrifying snake slithered out from under the bed as she was dressing.
They both quickly raise their palms to strike it, the purple and black snake quickly falls to the ground and vanishes in a puff of demonic smoke.
Wang Li Jie rushes over to hold Xiaolian, wrapping her robe around her thin body more securely. She is shaking, clinging onto him terrified of what might have happened if Sun Qiang hadn’t arrived when he did.
“What happened here?” Wang Li Jie glares accusingly towards Sun Qiang.
“How would I know? I was coming back from the physician’s when I heard her scream.” He thinks I‘m lucky the old monk gave me the power to be immune to demonic venom or I would be a pile of ash right now. He looks at the two fang marks on his arm, why did he give me certain abilities yet no real martial arts? That old monk who knows what he thinks.
Wang Li Jie looks at him suspiciously they know nothing about him possibly he knows the demonic arts. But why would he harm Xiaolian, it makes no sense.
“I’m hungry, where is the kitchen?” Sun Qiang thinks being human might not be that great but at least I’m not tied to the old monk any longer. Of course if he still was the beast he could have killed that snake with the flick of a claw.
“You aren’t going anywhere until I find out more about you!”
“Let him go eat Li Jie, if he didn’t arrive when he did..” Xiaolian holds his sleeve still shaking.
“Go, but I have questions for you after you eat.”
“I will accompany you, I’m hungry also” Jiang Bai thinks this might be the opportunity to find out more about this man.
“Lead the way then I don’t know where the kitchen is.”
Wang Li Jie holds Xiaolian to his chest patting her head smoothing her silky black hair trying to calm her down. She is wearing a light pink dress that makes her look even more delicate. The layers are sheer and reveal the slender shape of her legs. Because she is still frightened her blue eyes are wide and her pink little mouth is quivering slightly. He wants to press his lips to hers and hug her tightly to take all her fear away.
She sighs as he holds her, he frowns after cultivating she must be exhausted. I can’t leave her out of my sight, trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes. How could a demonic snake be in his palace? It couldn’t have come from the outside because of his barrier. Should I take her with me to the Capitol? Then I could take these other people with no need of constructing a web of lies. No, my bastard of a brother has spies everywhere. Damn him!
Huang Howan is in her room looking at a mirror which is showing the scene in Xaiolian’s room. her face contorts in anger as she hisses “How does that wench have so many men protecting her!” That Demonic Silent Mist Snake should have easily struck and ruined her. It’s venom destroys beauty and cripples the meridians, she would have become an ugly waste! Both Wang Li Jie and Jiang Bai were outside, the timing was perfect! Who was that man? He is incredibly handsome and brave to try to rescue her without martial arts. She is so annoying, how does she attract these men! Now Wang Li Jie is lovingly caressing her? I will kill her!
Sun Qiang and Jiang Bai reach the kitchen no one is inside.
Starving Sun Qiang turns to Jiang Bai“Can you cook?”
Jiang Bai coldly replies.“Do I look like a cook”
They look around for leftovers, find some cold pheasant and pastries on a table. They both grab for the meat. Jiang Bai hand is faster and all that remains for Sun Qiang are the pastries.
“Hmmph, so you leave the guest these..”
“You aren’t my guest.” Jiang Bai begins to devour the meat.
They both are sitting there eating silently when Huang Howan enters the kitchen. She coquettishly swings her hips, walks over and leans towards Jiang Bai.
“Jiang Bai we meet again, who is this with you?”
He continues to eat while ignoring her, undaunted she bows towards Sun Qiang, “I’m Huang Howan, and you are?”
Sun Qiang looks her up and down , why is she interested in me? I smell demonic residue on her, should I tell this bastard next to me she probably has something to do with that demonic snake? No, I will stay out of it for now.
He continues to eat the dry pastries. Is this even an imperial kitchen? “Get me some water.”
Huang Howan smiles sweetly and answers, “Of course or would you care for some wine?” Who does he think he is!
He has never had wine, hmm.. “Yes wine.”
She brings back a jug of wine and pours two cups for them. Jiang Bai pushes his way, “I’ll take water.”
Her temper is about to flare when she calms herself, she needs information, “Certainly.”
She sets the water down and is about to question Sun Qiang when they both say in unison, “You can leave now.”
“But I..” she doesn’t know what to say “I can fix you some food if you like.”
“No, just leave” Jiang Bai doesn’t like this annoying woaman, she is always trying to push her way into conversations. Huwan Howan has no choice but to bow and graciously say, “As you wish.” She turns to leave clenching her fists under her sleeve, ordered around like a servant girl and she didn’t even find out the name of that man!
Sun Qiang drinks the wine, it is warm and sweet as it goes down his throat. No wonder the old monk didn’t share his wine, this is too good. He pours himself another cup and gulps it down. He is starting to feel very relaxed, the little bit of pain he had left from his injuries seems to be gone too.
Jiang Bai watches him, this man doesn’t seem to know how to drink, his face is getting flushed after two drinks. Good..very good..men tend to talk recklessly when they are drunk.
“How do you know Xiaolian?”
Sun Qiang pours himself another cup his mind is somewhere else. He sees his mother fawning over his brother telling him it was going to be all right he would be gone soon. He didn’t want to cry but his heart broke every time his mother kicked him or yelled at him. She couldn’t wait to give him to the old monk and be rid of him. Even the old monk didn’t want him, only took him out of pity. All those years just holding his misery in silently, listening to people whine to the old monk day in day out. I just wanted to be free, only this stupid girl seemed to care. Even now he said he was hungry and she said let him go eat. What a stupid girl..doesn’t she know I care for no one but myself. I won’t care for her. I won’t care for anyone.
Sun Qiang is deep in his reverie and doesn’t realize Jiang Bai is intently studying him, Jiang Bai can see no emotion on his face at all.
“Who are you?”
“They told you I’m Sun Qiang.” He pours another cup of wine
“Why are you with Xiaolian?”
“I’m asking you.”
“I said ask her.”
Jiang Bai wants to throttle this insolent man staring at him with a blank look on his face.“Well you can’t accompany her.”
“Who are you to make that decision?”
“I am her guard,” This man doesn’t seem drunk at all and he has had almost the entire jug!
“Didn’t do a very good job when someone planted a demonic snake in her room.” Sun Qiang is starting to feel the effects of the liquor or he wouldn’t have spoken two words to this idiot.
Jiang Bai reaches over and grabs his collar, “How do I know you didn’t place it there to be the’ hero that saves the beauty’?”
Sun Qiang bursts out laughing spitting the red wine all over Jiang Bai, “I haven’t laughed in I don’t know how long, maybe never, but that is funny! You are n’t very smart. I have no martial arts why would I put myself in jeopardy, I walked into the room and it attacked me.” He does wonder why he responded to her scream instead of continuing walking.
Right as Jiang Bai is about to send him flying Wang Li Jie enters the kitchen. “We need to talk.”