Leaving Mystical Cloud Palace

 Wang Li Jie presses her shivering body onto his broad chest, he sighs it couldn’t have been me in her nightmare, his restless mind is at ease. He strokes her hair trying to calm her restlessness, he can feel her heart beating rapidly as though she is still afraid, using a pampering tone he says, “What’s wrong?”

     She is curled up in his arms as though she wants to be hidden from the world, “What is your brother like?”

     He is startled by her question, why would she ask about that demon scum. “He is quite different from me.”

     “Do you love me Li Jie? Take me to the Capitol with you , I’m afraid.” She purrs like a little kitten cajoling him. She is positive that she heard him confess that he loves her while she was sleeping.

     “I have been with you most of your life of course I love you Xiaolian, I promised I would take care of you from the moment I saved you.” He is not quite ready to admit his deep feelings yet.

     “The situation is more worrisome in the Capitol than expected, I have made arrangements for you.” He is going to choke when he says this but it is too dangerous for her to go to the Capitol and she must return to being XiXi. “Don’t forget your promise to Sun Delun to accompany Sun Qiang to the Butterfly Wing Residence. Also, you are meeting Kang Longwei, you invited him to see Mystical Lotus Kingdom with you.I will send for you the moment the chaos is taken care of I promise.” He hugs her tightly, why can’t the fates let them be together .

     “You are right Li Jie”, she shakes her head trying to get the horrifying images out of her mind.

     “ What were you dreaming of that frightened you so badly?”

     “Nothing. Don’t worry.”

     “Tell me.” He desperately wants to know who she was dreaming about in her nightmare, but is trying to appear nonchalant.

     “ I just had a nightmare, I don’t really remember.”

     Wang Li Jie decides to simply extract the dream from her mind, I must know. He places his large hand on her forehead pretending to check her temperature. “Well, you don’t have a fever, take a cool bath, put some herbs from the top shelf into your bath to soothe your body.  I will send Lan An in with hot water,  tell her to place the flower petals on the jade table in the bath. The preparations are complete for travel, when you finish meet us in the outer hall we will be leave.”

     “Yes Li Jie” Xiaolian doesn’t want to leave but can’t seem to convince him to take her to Capitol. She decides maybe a soothing bath will remove the disturbing images from her dream.

     Wang Li Jie goes to his room then sits on the Dragon Bed, the images from Xiaolian’s dream vividly are  displayed before him. He knits his brow, she seems to be recalling her abduction to the other world by my brother. It appears there is a portal beyond a forest, I have had many Sorcerer’s investigate this but no one has discovered the astral entrance. That forest doesn’t seem familiar I wonder what Kingdom it could be located in. If my calculations are right if I could enter that world I might be able to change our fates. He clenches his fist and the room fills with his overwhelming rage, his internal energy smashing the tables and shattering the Night Pearls inside. 

     That bastard brother of mine dared to hold Xiaolian! If it weren’t for him the Seventh Demon King never would have seen Xiaolian, leading to her death. The rivalry for their father’s Demonic Realm coupled with their desire to possess her..he touches his side where the demonic poison blade had cut into him preventing him from rescuing Xiaolian that day. His purple eyes turn dark, I will cut off  their heads and hang them atop the tallest mountain in his Kingdom for the world to see!

     The storehouse has been emptied and  placed in four carriages headed for the town sent ahead by Yang Chang. The majority of servants are allowed to ride in three carriages each carrying their personal belongings. Huang Hua and Huang Howan left with the supplies, they are in charge of contacting the local Mayor for the distribution. Huang Howan thought this would be her chance to show His Highness how well she could handle diplomatic relations, otherwise she wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help. Jiang Bai and Sun Qiang are on horses silently heading down the mountain.

     Xiaolian sits soaking in the bath, wondering about hearing Wang Li Jie’s voice saying “I love you.” She has never had a man confess to her before but his voice sounded as if he was saying it not in the simple I love you because I have known you since you were a child. She twirls her hair thinking about him, his looks are unparalleled and he is brave, heroic, he is her idol. Could he possibly have deep feelings for me? It’s impossible though I could never share my man with a harem. Palace intrigue is not something I ever want to deal with, fighting over his attention, whooo..she gets a chill just thinking about those women she has seen at the Palace. She kicks her feet splashing  the water, it is cool and refreshing I felt so hot earlier. She puts her arms languidly over the side of the bathtub, her hair draped over the back, these herbs are making my body feel rejuvenated. What would it be like to be with a man? She giggles to herself and shakes her head.

     “Miss, can I come in to prepare your hot bath?”

     “Is that you Lan An?”

     “Yes, Miss.”

     “Certainly, enter”

     Lan An enters to fill the other bath and can’t help but stare at Xiaolian. I have never seen another girl as incredibly beautiful as my mistress, no wonder His Highness loves her so deeply, she is a peerless beauty. When I think how kind the Miss is, no one can compare.

     “Are you ready to go with me? I think you will like the Butterfly Wing Residence!” Xiaolian smiles brightly at Lan An, she has never had a servant girl who seemed to be around her age, she is looking forward to it.

     “Miss, it’s ready.” recalling Wang Li Jie’s words she isn’t going to respond with idle chitchat.

     “Oh, thank you Lan An.” She slips into the other tub, the flower scent of the petals drifts up to her nose, “Ahh..so beautiful and fragrant!”

     “I will leave now.”

     “Em.. wait.. take the remainder of the flower petals for yourself there are too many, they will be wasted. Maybe you can make a sachet.”

     Lan An sees the gorgeous flower petals left in the basket but doesn’t dare take them. “Thank you Miss but I think I shouldn’t. His Highness had them delivered here expressly for you from the Flower Fairies. ” Oh no did I say too much, I need to go.. before she can open the door Xiaolian gets out of the tub dripping wet ,drying her delicate hands with a towel. “Wait!”

     She takes the red, white, orange and purple flower petals from the basket then wraps them in a cloth. She puts them in Lan An’s hand, “You are my people now if I want to gift you some simple flower petals you can’t refuse.” She smiles seeing the shocked look on Lan An’s face. “You can make me a small sachet also, if you are hesitant to take them.” Go now, please lay my clothes on the bed, I think Wang Li Jie said he had a dress he would like me to wear.”

     “Yes Miss” Lan An stares at the cloth in her hand,Simple flower petals? These flower petals are priceless, His Highness had to give the Flower Fairy Zinnya a prime area of land beyond the spiritual divide in his Kingdom that is infused with special spirit energy.. He did it only for you…this girl really is naive.

     Lan An leaves, she thinks it will be interesting serving this girl. She smells the intoxicating fragrance coming from the petals within the cloth and imagines taking a bath with them sprinkled in the water like a princess. He Peng holding her commenting on how celestial she smells, she hugs them to her body. It’s good Huang Howan has left or she surely would steal them from me.

     Brr.. Xiaolian climbs back into the hot bath. Lan An is cute, I’m glad Wang Li Jie let me take her with me.. Ah.. he is so good to me. She doesn’t know which bath feels better, the cool one felt nice but this one ..she sinks under the water, the petals covering the surface.

     Wang Li Jie is satisfied everyone has left except He Peng and Lan An who will attend Xiaolian on the trip down the mountain and while they are in town. She comes walking down the hallway towards him and bows, “Your Highness the Miss is bathing.”She realizes she is holding the cloth with the flower petals , she is not a sneaky person and feels she should tell him the truth. “Your Highness”, she never has occasion to speak to him and is flustered, “The Miss gave me the rest of the flower petals, she insisted.”

     “Why are you telling me this?”

     Lan An’s face turns red as a beet, “I..I..”

     He seems not to care then interrupts her stammering voice, “Did you lay out the dress I prepared?”

    “Yes, Your Highness”

     “ I changed my mind, you and He Peng need to go on ahead we won’t be using a carriage. He Peng is waiting for you at the outer door, he will use his qinggong to take you to the village. The two of you go to the Inn, secure a private room for me, do not say my name. Speak to no one but the Innkeeper, I have given He Peng the money. We will be there shortly before midday.”

     Lan An bows, “Yes, Your Highness.”

     Wang Li Jie watches as the little servant girl scurries down the hallway. She seems honest, Xiaolian must like her to give her the flower petals. Maybe it was a good idea to place honest loyal people next to Xiaolian. He takes long strides down to the Starfire Room, now it is only the two of them here in the palace should he see if she is willing? It has been on his mind since he laid on the bed holding her in his arms.

     Xiaolian is still playing in the water, thinking about Wang Li Jie, he is so handsome and strong. She ducks under the flower petals again pretending she is a fish. Her petite body is submerged under the water, the flower petals floating on the surface hiding her.

     Wang Li Jie enters her room, she is still in the bath? She certainly is taking her time the others left an hour ago. He becomes too impatient, he is going to ask her to be his Empress, even if she needs to forget he wants to say the words.

     He walks to the bathroom door and is about to knock when he decides to just walk inside , he sees the flower covered bath but where is Xiaolian? Suddenly her head springs up out from under the water the colorful flower petals stuck to her head and she is laughing. He is stunned at how playful and beautiful she looks. Water droplets cover her face, hanging off her long black eyelashes, her cheeks are flushed from the heat of the bath. Her creamy white neck and the top of her chest is exposed, water seductively dripping down her slender body. She resembles a water nymph. Desire is rising up in him he doesn’t know if he can suppress his natural instincts. She is too beautiful.. He is still staring at her, when she opens her eyes. 

    She can feel her face turning red all the way to the top of her ears.“Wang Li Jie! Ahhh…how long have you been standing there?” 

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