Dragonflower Wine

 Kang Longwei wonders what he should say without insulting Wang Li Jie, but there is no way Xiaolian should have even a sip of the potent wine. He peers across the table at her shy look, she is devastatingly beautiful with her pure innocence. He notices Wang Li Jie glaring at him, he chuckles to himself, this lunch will be hard to digest with his icy demonic aura surrounding the table.

       “Wang Li Jie these dishes appear to be delicacies from this region, have you ever tried the White Ant Egg Soup? Quite delicious, the eggs pop in your mouth with a sour flavor.” Kang Longwei has visited this region many times in the past, he enjoys the unusual dishes.

     “Really? That sounds interesting! Lan An I will have some soup”. Xiaolian wants to lighten the atmosphere. She looks at these two uniquely handsome men sitting at the table. not only are their looks polar opposite but so are their temperaments. Wang Li Jie with ink black hair with strands of silver running through it and brooding purple eyes. He is wearing a black brocade robe with golden dragons embroidered on it adding to his domineering look. Kang Longwei’s looks are like a gentle breeze, golden hair and amber eyes that seem to look through her. He is wearing white silk robes with a simple design of a bamboo forest,

     Lan An has been standing at the back of the room waiting, she hurries over to serve the soup. She suddenly stops in her tracks when she sees Kang Longwei’s face. He had his back to her the entire time and she hadn’t seen his face until this moment She gasps when she looks at him. That is the stranger from the food stall! I pray he doesn’t say anything. She lowers her head hoping he doesn’t recognize her as she begins to serve.

     When it is time to serve him her hand begins to shake and some of the hot soup spills over onto her hand. Immediately Xiaolian jumps up from her seat to take the soup  and set it down “Lan An are you allright?” She inspects her hand, her wrist is red and beginning to blister. “You need to tend to this right away!” She calls out to the He Peng, “Come in quickly!” Lan An tries to protest, “Miss, I will be fine, I apologize for my clumsiness.”

     He Peng enters to see Xiaolian holding Lan An’s hand.

     “He Peng go find ointment for her hand she burnt it with the soup.”

     He frowns looking at Lan An’s red and blistered hand, “Yes! I will hurry.”

     “Lan An come sit on the couch.”

     “No Miss I can’t.” she glances at the two men who are silent at the table. Why is that man here?

     “I will sit with you until He Peng arrives.” She feels bad for Lan An but is grateful she could escape the tension at the table. “Wang Li Jie and Kang Longwei please continue to eat without me.”

     “…”

     Wang Li Jie knows Xiaolian can’t let anyone suffer so he will accept her sitting on the couch for now.

     “Wang Li Jie, I feel I should mention this to you…”

     Lan An hears him and softly mutters “No..no..”  under her breath, Kang Longwei hears her and turns around, his lips curl up, the little maid must think I am going to expose meeting earlier.

     Wang Li Jie interrupts, “What?” He is extremely annoyed watching Kang longWei sneak glances at Xiaolian. I need to get rid of this man quickly. He pours himself some wine, as he puts it to his lips Kang Longwei turns back around. “I don’t think we should drink the..what the hell..” He sees Wang Li Jie about to drink the Dragonflower wine, quickly waves his palm to smash Wang Li Jie’s wine cup, wine flies everywhere and the cup turns to dust.

  Wang Li Jie jumps up, “Kang Longwei!” He waves his palm forcing Kang Longwei to fly back into the wall and cough up blood.

   Xiaolian only sees the palm strike from him,  she shouts“Wang Li Jie are you crazy?”

   Kang Longwei wipes the blood from his mouth and is about to retaliate when he reconsiders, Xiaolian doesn’t need to see my ferocious side, let her think Wang Li Jie the beast.

    He spits out more blood then sneers, “That’s the thanks I get for preventing you from drinking evil wine?”

    Wang Li jie is furious, his clothes are stained with the wine, the cup as it shattered cut his hand. He glares at Kang Longwei ready to hurl him off the balcony with a burst of his internal energy.

    “What are you blabbering?”

    “Dragonflower wine is not to be consumed casually, you obviously have no awareness of its side effects. ”

    “What?” Wang Li Jie never comes to the village he goes directly to the Mystical Cloud Palace on the top of the mountain.

    “Dragonflower is only found in the cliffs of the Ice Dragon Mountain. It is infused with spiritual energy that affects the mind depending on the person’s mood. It is used in Sect rituals because of this to see if a person has a pure heart. It enhances one’s inner emotions and desires. A person can become unhinged after drinking a few cups or give into whatever desires they are feeling at the time.”

    Wang Li Jie directs his gaze over to Xiaolian asking, “Who suggested you try this wine?”

    “Ah, it was the girl Huang Howan..” Come to think of it why did she suggest such a wine, maybe she heard of it as a local wine but wasn’t aware of its potency.

     Lan An can’t help but think Huang Howan was scheming against Zhang Xiaolian. Wang Li Jie has an ominous dark aura surrounding him . He is standing there with his fists clenched. She will pay for plotting against Xiaolian.

     The door suddenly opens, He Peng rushes in with the ointment and some bandages.

      Xiaolian holds out her delicate hand,“Give the ointment to me I will apply it.”

     “Miss, I can mange on my own.”

     “No, I will .” She carefully dabs the salve onto the area.

     “He Peng bring… no drag Huang Howan here! Tell Yang Chang to come here also.” He is seething with anger he lost his temper with Kang Longwei in front of Xiaolian.

     He looks over at Kang Longwei, no way am I  leaving that crafty fox alone with Xiaolian…he held back his internal energy making my palm strike appear worse than it was.

     Xiaolian finishes dressing the wound. “Wang Li Jie maybe the maid had no idea about the wine’s properties.”

     “…”

     Wan Ciufen wants to know how her plan is progressing and knocks on the door. “It’s the kitchen manager I wanted to check and see if everything was to your liking.”

    Wang Li Jie curtly says, “Enter.”Oh, the kitchen manger who supplied the wine..good..very good.

     Kang Longwei recognizes Wan Cuifen as the red headed girl from yesterday when she comes into the room and bows.. This should be good. What ever trick she was planning just blew up in her face.

     Wang Li Jie gently brushes a strand of loose hair behind Xiaolian’s ear, “Xiaolian I heard the musician who plays the zither is very well known. Why don’t you and your servant girl go have a cup of tea and watch the show. I’m need to go change and I don’t think it would be proper for you to remain here alone with Kang Longwei. We will then join you.”

     Xiaolian feels the intense pressure between the two men.  “I would enjoy that, I haven’t heard a zither in awhile. Let’s go Lan An.” She quickly pulls her up off the couch. “See you two downstairs.”

     She can’t leave the room fast enough, when they are out in the hallway she shivers..“Lan An I still want some wine..haha..especially now!”

     Lan An thinks Xiaolian is so cute, but she needs to watch over her.. “Miss, you mustn’t what if His Highness.. before she could say another word Xiaolian pulls her along..”Shhh we won’t tell him! He will be awhile it looks like he wants to scold the kitchen manager and Huang Howan.

     Lan An is thinking scold is putting it mildly Huang Howan might have gone to far with her scheming this time. His Highness looked infuriated and that means someone will die soon. That kitchen manager is sure to disappear. Huang Howan will be punished severely he won’t kill her because he cares for her mother.

     “What are thinking about Lan An your face is all twisted up.” They arrive in the restaurant and find a table towards the front. “This should be fun!” Xiaolian tells Lan An to sit.

     A young man approaches their table, because of the atmosphere upstairs Xiaolian hasn’t eaten so she is very hungry. He stares at Xiaolian she looks like a fairy,she is so beautiful, he shakes his head to come back to reality ,”Miss would you like to order?”

    She lifts her head and smiles at him, “Yes, please bring me your house specialty for two and some peach blossom wine. When does the next show begin?”

     “It begins soon, have you heard of her before she is quite beautiful and famous. Her ability to play the qin and zither can not rivaled in all the Seven Kingdoms. She is from this village so she returns for her mother’s birthday every year and entertains us.”

     “What is her name?

     “It is Zhao Jiao”

    “‘I’m looking forward to her performance!” She scans the room noticing it is beginning to fill up with people.

     She reaches over and grabs Lan An’s hand that isn’t bandaged, “Have you heard of this woman before?”

     Lan An feels very relaxed around Xiaolian but she is too friendly. “Miss”, she looks at the hand she is holding. ”I don’t think this is appropriate I’m your servant.”

     “I told you before Lan An I want to be friends with you. I have never had a girl friend. You will be coming to my Butterfly Wing Residence to serve me so I want to get to know you.”

     Lan An really likes Xiaolian, she wishes she could return to the Butterfly Wing Residence because from what He Peng told her she is in danger. It is because of His Highness’ brother Wang Chao Han that’s why she isn’t returning there.

     The young man returns, “Here is your meal and wine”, he sets it down on the table. He can’t help gazing  at Xiaolian. Zhao Jiao is beautiful but this girl is more so in a natural way. Zhao Jiao wears rouge, piles her hair up many elaborate golden and gem filled hairpieces. This girl has bright green eyes and flawless skin, those pink lips..he quickly rushes to the next table.

     “ Lan An Could you tell me what these dishes are?” The bowls are filled with exotic looking food. She was going to ask the waiter but he rushed off to another customer.

     “Not sure Miss, should we call him back over to ask?”

     “No, he seems busy let’s just enjoy them.” She taps her chopsticks trying to decide which one to taste first.

     Lan An pours the wine into Xiaolian’s cup and sets it down.

     “Pour yourself a cup also Lan An.”

     “No, I can’t.” She needs to keep an eye on Xiaolian, if she drank and His Highness found out..!

     Xiaolian can see by her expression she doesn’t want any wine,  she sips hers and places some of the noodles mixed with vegetables on her plate. The meat smells delicious so she adds some on top. It has a red sauce with specks of herbs mixed into it. Hmm… maybe wild rabbit?

     She is enjoying her meal, “Lan An eat please, I don’t like to waste food so you must have some.”

     Xiaolian puts some onto her plate so she has the noodles with the meat on top also.

     Lan An hesitantly picks up her chopsticks and begins to eat.

     “You didn’t tell me have you heard of Zhao Jiao?”

     Xiaolian pours more wine into her cup.

     Lan An chokes on a noodle, should I tell Miss the gossip?

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