Ying’s residence was located at the outer layer of the Imperial Palace. Houses in the area weren’t cheap by any account. Being calculative and cunning, Freya had made arrangements and bought the area so as to avoid allowing businessmen own it. As such, Ying resided on the second floor of a small building. In terms of living conditions, Ying’s life was decent. Somebody had to provide Ying with expenses, because she was unlikely to have any means of making a living.
I walked up to Ying’s door. Two guards first froze when they saw me. Then, they swiftly went down on their knees and saluted me: “Your Majesty!”
I nodded: “Uhm. Is there anybody inside?”
The two guards gave me a nod: “Ying… That is how you pronounce it, right…? Mm… Your Majesty, Miss Ying is here, except… we really want to know if we need to stop the Princesses if they come.”
The two guards seemed to be in a serious dilemma. One of them continued, “After all, if we do not handle the situation well… we may very well have a problem.. Whether or not we stop the things around you from happening, the consequences will not be good, either way… After all…nafter all… to the Princesses… Miss Ying… is…”
I didn’t quite grasp where they were going with it at first, so I responded as a puzzled man would: “Of course you’re to let them in. Why would you need to stop them?”
“Because… because… if the Princesses were to meet Miss Ying… the result would not be good, right…? Because…. it is not really a good thing to them, right? Your… Your… Your…”
The guards seemed to struggle to speak their minds. However, I wasn’t willing to waste a single second at the moment. I wanted to see Ying, and then head to the out of bounds area of the elves where my father died. I scrubbed my hair then aggressively said, “What exactly is it that you want to say? You don’t happen to think that Ying and Xia are my mistresses, do you? How could I have two mistresses here, where it’s so close to the Imperial Palace?! Am I retarded?! Ying and Xia are just my friends, and my wives know them, too, so you don’t need to worry.”
The guards nodded then made way with embarrassed smiles on their faces. The door before me was just a small white wooden door. The two paths led to a small courtyard. You could grow some stuff of both sides of the small courtyard just as Mera did. Nobody grew anything there, though.
I didn’t know if Ying and Xia led very relaxed lives. They were in a foreign land without people they knew, after all. Ying also had to take care of her sister. I presumed Ying wouldn’t let anybody into their room, since Xia was still dangerous. If she hurt somebody, we’d have a problem. The guards must’ve been Freya’s idea or somebody insisting on it; else, Ying wouldn’t have let them remain there.
I went up to the door and knocked. I heard slow footsteps approach. The door then opened with a quiet creek. Ying lowered her head: “Long-time no see, Troy. I have not seen you recently. Your wives were anxious to find you. I am glad to see you are safe.”
“I’m not completely safe, but I am back, nonetheless,” I responded. I looked inside and inquired, “Is Xia doing well? Have you adapted to life here? I thought that I should come and see you before leaving. I brought you two here, so it’d be irresponsible of me to just leave you here and ignore you.”
Ying smiled: “We’re all right. We’re fine besides the language barrier. I am doing my best to learn your language right now. Xia likes this place very much. This place is indeed very different to where we came from… The food here is also very tasty. It’s completely different to our hometown.”
I nodded: “I’m glad to know that you’re adapting. I was worried about you; I was you couldn’t adapt tp life here and would be lonely. If you have anything you need, just let the guards know. Those guards will report directly to the Imperial Palace.”
“No, I don’t have any needs at the moment. Actually… I do.” Ying contradicted herself. In saying that, she did seem to be in quite a dilemma. Her lips moved several times before she said, “I, mm… I… I can’t just receive such generous treatment from you for nothing…”
“No, you can, because you saved my life. Therefore, it’s only natural for me to repay you. Who would choose to enact kindness if it wasn’t repaid? That’s why you deserve this. I couldn’t repay you properly when we were on the island, but I now can. So naturally, I’ll repay you in any way that I can. Rather, this repayment isn’t anything significant to me. It’s just feeding two more people and sustaining their daily lives. It’s nothing luxurious. You can stay without a worry.”
Ying shook her head: “No, I protected you back then out of obligation. Hence, I only did what my duty required of me. It wasn’t kindness, and I’m not a kind person, either. I can’t receive your generosity for nothing. This is already too lavish for me. I, therefore, want to ask you for a job. I can be a guard as you previously suggested. I have learnt a bit about you from the guards and those around. Perhaps you are different to other Kings. I believe the statues from before were not your idea, because I know you weren’t in the Imperial City. If possible, please allow me to be your bodyguard. That way, I will not feel guilty about living here. Further, you helped me kill the wyrm in the water. I did not think there were so many of them, either…”
Ying’s said all of that without a change in her expression. My two previous bodyguards showed emotions on their faces, but Ying didn’t. It caused me to call her loyalty to me into question…
“All right. If you want, be my bodyguard once I’m back. My guard unit will surely be very happy to see you. Ying, learn about the things in this place. After I get back…”
Puzzled, Ying asked, “Where did you go? You don’t physically look out of the ordinary. Have you not already healed?”
“The truth is, my condition is much worse than I look at the moment,” I answered, smiling helplessly。 “It’s best if I can return alive. If I don’t… protect my family. While we haven’t known each other for long, I trust you. Ying, I trust you can protect my family.”
“To be honest, your trust worries me a little.” Ying turned around and made way: “If you have time, would you like to see Xia? Xia has always spoke of you, and hoped to see you.”
From the layout from the door, the inside was bound to be very simple. I believe there should’ve been lots of things inside in the first place, but Ying turned them down and sent them away. She wasn’t willing to accept too many gifts from me. She wasn’t willing to be my bodyguard at first, but she hadn’t found a good job.
“I’ll pass. I need to head out now.” I shook my head. I didn’t go in. It wasn’t because I didn’t care about Xia, but that I didn’t want to delay for any longer.
Ying nodded: “It appears that you are very busy. I cannot tell what your issue is, but I do not see the terror and despair of a terminal disease. To the contrary, I see a resilient life and the courage to live. I believe you will be fine. Oftentimes, those who die are those who don’t want to live on. Conversely, oftentimes, one will not die if they do not give up.”
I smiled: “I’ll take what you said as a good luck charm. Although I don’t know if I’ll make it or not, I do really want to live. For the sake of my family, I can’t let myself die.”
Ying smiled then turned around to look into the room. Xia was inside. Ying giggled softly: “Indeed. Life was initially not easy for me. I didn’t know how to live. I didn’t think that my life was easy to live out, either. After I had Xia, however, I changed. I knew I had to live on. I’m not living for myself alone, but also for Xia. I must live on for Xia. My stale life also became much more cheerful after Xia joined me. This must be the power of family. We live for our family, and our lives are blissful thanks to our family.
I nodded, and then chuckled softly: “That’s right. That’s exactly how it is.”
After I bid Ying goodbye, I mounted the White Deer King. There was nothing left in the Imperial City that I had lingering feelings for. I visited everybody there. As the prophet said, if I had to die, it wasn’t bad to go on a tour beforehand.
I caressed the White Deer King’s neck. It snorted in response. It revealed a very happy expression after we met again. We were reunited as person and deer. I gently caressed its neck and quietly said, “White Deer King, long-time no see. I’m very happy you searched for me. Honest. We’ve worked together for some time. If I don’t make it this time, I hope you can return and notify my family.”
The White Deer King seemed to understand what I said… Actually… the fellow understood everything said. However, it shook its head. I didn’t know what it was expressing, so I just patted its horn: “I’ll be relying on you.”
It shook its head. I couldn’t read its shimmering eyes. The two of us fell into a silence. The atmosphere was heart-warming, but that was why it was melancholic.
“Let’s go,” I said.
I didn’t say anything else. The White Deer King began to slowly take off along the street. We went in the opposite direction others went, going from prospering to sparse and from extravagant to ordinary in order to find my second life…