I’m XiXi!

Feng Tian rushes back to the boat just as Rong arrives. Behind her are two of the Chen brothers Feng Che sent to accompany him. “I thought Chen Jue was coming?”

     Chen Yang replies, “He accompanied Feng Che tonight so I replaced him.” Feng Tian thinks I wanted to ask about Hong Bo.

     “ Well, secure the crates on the lower deck, I haven’t finished yet, let’s go.”

      The sun is beginning to set and Feng Tian uses his palm to generate wind to propel the boat along. Zhang Yu watches as Myriad Cloud City gets father and farther away.

   Zhang Yu rubs his chin,  strange seeing the scholarly looking man there, I will look at my journal when I get back to confirm my suspicions, before I tell Feng Tian.

     Feng Tian looks at the pendant, then hooks it onto his necklace with the Dragon tooth. It is no longer glowing but feels warm to the touch. I wish father hadn’t been so cryptic!

     When the sky darkens he gazes up at the sky to see the constellation of the lotus, it is missing seven stars from the original formation. It has been seven days since Zhang Yu and XiXi arrived on the island. What does it mean?

     He pulls out the intricately carved box with the bracelet inside thinking of XiXi. I wonder what the little troublemaker is doing, I miss that smile of hers and her little temper tantrums.

     “Rong”

     “Yes, Young Master.”

     “The mistress you are to serve you must protect at all times, she is very precious to me. I brought you because you have the superior martial arts skills of all the servants girls.”

     “I will protect her with my life.” Rong acknowledges the fact she is the most reliable. Hui Quinqing is also talented, but Rong knows she would resent any girl Feng Tian cared about. She might even cause harm to the woman. She remembers a pretty palace maid  confided she liked Feng Tian to Hui Qingqing and she then mysteriously disappeared.

      Rong has followed Feng Tian since she was young and it is unusual to see him be protective of a girl. She is curious to meet XiXi to see what makes her special. Rong has never served a girl before and is a little anxious.

     She doesn’t like the way the servant girls in the palace fuss about, always trying to get the attention of one of the Feng brothers.

     Right now the girl Rong is anxious to meet is considering turning back into a cat for the time being. She and Zhen are happily eating the fish she caught. They are sitting in the sun, the medicine took effect and Zhen is feeling better.

     “Zhenny, do you like squash?” XiXi picks up a skewer of the vegetables.

     He shakes his head No. please just call me Zhen.. and continues to try to scratch the bones out of his fish.

     XiXi takes his fish from him and picks the bones out, she really hates that part about eating fish. It was nice when Feng Tian picked them out for her the other night.

     Absentmindedly pulling the fish apart she says, “Where is that brat Feng Tian! He acted like my shadow now he is nowhere to be seen.

     Leaving me here..deserting me..”

     The little beast is looking at the fish being shredded into indistinguishable pieces and grabs some with his paw.

     The beauty can cook too, what is that seasoning, oh, the pods smashed from the fire sticks. Spicy but quite delicious, my Imperial chefs never prepared fish this tasty.

     Zhen is staring at her with an intense look and XiXi starts laughing, “How’s the fish?” She wipes some bits of fish from his whiskers.

     “…”

     “ Zhenny Zhen..I just don’t know what to do, I’m sitting here in Yun Tai’s torn up robe, how do I explain that? I was in his bed when I woke up.

     What if he saw me…she shakes her head..no..no..no..

     I ruined LingLing’s dress..I have no way to retrieve it. I can’t face that man wearing his robe!

     Zhen I have a plan. I am going to turn back into a cat, say for ten hours, I will set a mental clock that was the step I missed last time..crucial step!. We can hide his robe in the bushes over there. He can take me to the bamboo house because he thinks I am LingLing’s pet.

     I will think of the rest later. What do you think?

     Zhen, shake your head yes or no.. I know you understand me!”

     He doesn’t move, keeps eating his fish, I am not getting involved, no I’m not.

     XiXi takes his fish away, “yes or no?

     “…”

     No, he shakes his head. Absolutely not, a very bad idea..No.

     XiXi ignores him and says , “Go behind that rock again.”

     She puts out the fire and finishes her meal, tossing the last fish to Zhen over the rock, “Eat up.”

     Then she cleans up all the remains of the fish bones, skewers and twigs. She digs a shallow hole and buries everything there under a bush a short distance away.

     XiXi follows the same spell she used last time only this time as she points at the cat in the globe she pictures a clock in her head moving it to ten hours ahead I hope this works, the unpredictability factor is worrisome.

     She also crouches on the ground and tries to muffle the sound of the globe breaking and minimize the orange glow by using her mental energy to contain it. I need to concentrate, if he rushes over here, no, I won’t think about that possibility.

     Zhen hears a slight sound and a faint orange glow barely rises above the rock he is behind.

     He is afraid to look and slowly comes out from behind the rock. He sees a black robe with a small white furry head and very large blue eyes peeking out.

     That girl is ridiculous!

     Yun Tai is in the bath when he hears some unusual sounds, similar to the day the girl left with her father, but more..muffled? He is too tired to care and continues soaking in the soothing bath.

     No outsider can enter and my head is killing me. I feel like an army of fire ants is crawling inside my skull.

     Luckily, he has some spare clothes here but is still wondering what happened to his robe. Did he take it off before he even arrived at the hut? That dream..he shakes his head and smooths back his wet hair.

     He closes his eyes and starts breathing exercises to remove the pressure on his head. Old Man, that wine is almost lethal.

     Yun Tai remembers the cat  wondering where it ran off to during the night. He gets out of the bath and wraps a towel around himself. Maybe I will see if Siyu saw the spirit cat at all after I went to sleep.

     That cat is meowing at Zhen to come and take a look..it worked and wasn’t that noisy! She takes her paws and drags the robe behind a bush.

     Zhen has to admit, it didn’t cause a commotion like last time but why does she want to be a cat? The idiot could have waited for Yun Tai to go back to the bamboo house then got her dress.

     Yun Tai is walking out of the hut when Siyu comes sluggishly up to his side.

     “You too Siyu?” He starts laughing, “you look terrible today!” Siyu had only turned back into the Panthera at dawn.

     He was all the way on the other side of the lake and it took all his energy to walk back to the hut. He had spent the whole night drinking and thinking of his wife Genji.

     The wine made him hallucinate she was by his side. He was the Lord of the Falcon Knights once again and they had just got married. She was laughing and he was pushing her on a swing by their small house in the mountains. It was the village of her clan, on the other side of The Great Divide.

     After his bath and cultivating Yun Tai is feeling much better.” I think I will go to the stream and catch some fish for lunch.”

     Siyu ignores him and finds a place in the shade to go to sleep.

     When Yun Tai arrives at the stream he sees the little white Spirit Cat chasing the ugly little beast. It is meowing as though it is laughing. It sees Yun Tai and quickly runs up a tree to hide.

     The little beast stops in his tracks as he watches Yun Tai fly to the top of the tree. XiXi tries to jump to the next branch but he catches her and pulls her to his chest.

     “So little kitten you made your escape while I was sleeping.”

     XiXi looks at him with her big blue eyes. She purrs and doesn’t try to escape. I will pretend I like you, take me with you to the bamboo house

     Yun Tai is surprised by this turnabout, he jumps down from the tree, holding onto he. tiny soft body. He notices her paws are full of scratches.

     “Were you running through the thistles by the grapevines?” Gently holding one of her pawswhile examining her injuries. ” I will put ointment on before I return you to LingLing. You could use a bath too.”

     Voices can be heard in the direction of the hut, XiXi can hear her father and Feng Tian talking.

     The little beast is following behind smirking, girl, this is going to be interesting, I said don’t do it!

     XiXi frantically looks at Zhen.

     Zhen ignores her…

     She realizes the only way she won’t be exposed to her father is if she tells Yun Tai she transformed into the cat. Her father told her specifically not to read further than the first three chapters of The Book of Zhang.

     I want to help Siyu transform back into a man, he saved me. If my father finds out I was irresponsible and I did this he might not let me learn how to do that!

     Siyu is Yun Tai’s friend he would want to help me wouldn’t he?

XiXi shrinks down in Yun Tai’s arms, this is bad, I didn’t anticipate them coming to the Lake, before I returned to the bamboo house.

Yun Tai feels her shift into his arms as though she is trying to hide.

     Do I take a chance, did he see me in the bed, her mind is in turmoil, What should I do? I have to help Siyu. Why don’t I think things through before.. I will have to face Yun Tai sometime anyway

     Ahhh.. meow..meow.. she hits herself in the head with her paw, I am such an idiot!

     Yun Tai looks at he little Spirit Cat meowing and hitting its furry head with its paw. He smiles, this little cat is too funny.

     She takes her paw and yanks on Yun Tai’s robe and points to the ground where there is a small dirt patch. Then she pretends to write in the air with her paw.

     She yanks his robe again shaking her head frantically writing characters in the air then pointing to the ground.

     He laughs out loud,  You want to write something in the dirt?”

     XiXi starts frantically nodding her white furry head and her blue eyes are staring into his eyes .

     This cat, I wonder if LingLing taught it tricks, “Fine, but if you run away I will eat you for lunch.”

     XiXi shivers at the thought of being eaten by Yun Tai.

     He sets her down and she takes her paw, writes in the dirt..

     I’m XiXi..

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