Mysterious Young Man
Liu Yue looked left and right to check that there was nobody and then dashed the lawn as fast as a flash. Nobody was permitted into the flower garden in the Imperial Palace’s inner section. The gardeners worked hard to amend the flowers. Liu Yue was aware that she was doing something she shouldn’t, but it was the only way through at the time.
Liu Yue’s father was in a meeting in the inner sections of the palace. If she went to the conference hall from the main door, guards would discover her. However, Liu Yue, who had a detailed grasp of the entire Imperial Palace’s terrain, knew there was a secret passageway in the conference hall that led outside. To reach the conference hall, she, therefore, just had to get into the secret passageway. Needless to say, Liu Yue wasn’t interested in the meeting whatsoever. She merely wanted to know what her father was doing. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that she just wanted to see her father.
Her father didn’t get angry the last time Daisy and her sisters barged into the conference hall, but when she got home, boy, did she cop an earful. And so, Liu Yue didn’t intend to see her father using such moronic means.
“That idiot is probably waiting at the door. I’ll get a step ahead. This is my secret passageway,” assumed Liu Yue.
Liu Yue liked her three sisters, but her father was a one and only. She wasn’t willing to share him.
Liu Yue briskly crossed the lawn and circled around the palace to reach the rear. The rear of the Imperial Palace was the imperial family’s garden. Usually, nobody approached the forest of trees. Nobody was permitted entry into the area in order to avoid letting anybody discover emergency exit. The guards didn’t stop Liu Yue. After all, it was her family’s forest. Therefore, it was easy for Ling Yue to get in.
The emergency exit was actually behind the small timber building that was easily mistaken for a cleaning storage room located in the forest. Liu Yue raced across the path of withered leaves to reach the back of the building. She used her enhanced sight as a fox to scan her surroundings. The forest was as quiet and peaceful as always. Her footprints were left on the dead leaves on the sun-dappled path. Additionally, the leaves rustled due to the winds, while the frightened birds fled from their nests…
“Wait, wait, something’s wrong…” thought Liu Yue, stopping in her tracks. In her mind, she reasoned, “I should be the only person in this place, so what frightened the birds? I never startled the birds when I came here in the past. What scared them off? There’s someone else in this forest!”
Ling Yue vigorously looked over her shoulder. Nevertheless, it was the same as when she arrived. She narrowed her eyes. She carefully checked to see if she could spot the clothing of one of her sisters. If there was somebody who entered the forest from the door up ahead, the only possible people who could do that would be her sisters. If anybody else entered, the guards would stop them. Consequently, she concluded that her sisters were tailing her.
“It must be Vera! Vera must’ve told Daisy and Nona to follow me here. I chose to come here when they were all having afternoon tea. Could they have not gone for afternoon tea? Was the afternoon tea a ploy? That doesn’t sound likely. I’m a fox, yet I was tailed. This is disgraceful,” concluded Liu Yue.
Liu Yue swiftly moved behind the timer building. Resolutely, Liu Yue decided, “Even if I don’t get to see Dad today, I won’t share my secret. Only I know of this path. If too many people know, this secret path may very well be sealed, so I can’t tell anyone of it!”
“Come out!! I see can you!!” yelled Liu Yue.
That was obviously a bluff. Liu Yue didn’t actually catch sight of anyone. As expected, nothing but the sound of the wind was audible. Liu Yue was cognizant of the fact that Vera was her rival.
Vera knew Liu Yue was bluffing, so she didn’t feel pressed. It was a contest of patience. Vera didn’t know what Liu Yue came to the forest for. If Liu Yue couldn’t resist and pulled the door open, Vera would find out about the secret passage, which meant that Liu Yue wouldn’t be able to use the route to go see her father.
“I can’t let anyone know of the secret passage even it means I don’t get to see Dad today…” Liu Yue told herself, biting down on her lip.
Frankly, that price was too big to pay for Liu Yue. She didn’t suffer so much before, but her predicament was the equivalent of standing in front of a chest of gold without the key to it.
Liu Yue began to analyse her next step: “I have the chance to hear Dad’s voice and see his back, yet I’m stuck here because of those idiots. Must I waste an entire afternoon tea worth of time here? Must I allow those idiots to come with me? Vera might leave soon, but I can’t be sure. Vera might not be tailing me, and maybe I’m just scaring myself. That would make me the idiot in the end for this would be for nothing, when I could’ve been enjoying afternoon tea.”
Vera had the initiative. If Vera was there, Vera just needed to watch. The original afternoon plan wouldn’t allow her to see her father anyhow. If there was something to gain out of tailing Liu Yue, fantastic; if not, that was acceptable, too. Liu Yue, to the contrary, was in a passive position. She was unsure if Vera was present or not. She didn’t dare to proceed with what she wanted to do. The one who was frustrated was Liu Yue; If Vera also had a tail, it would be wagging non-stop at this moment.
“I really saw you!! I’m warning you, I know you want to sneak into the Imperial Palace! If you don’t hurry up, and come out, I’ll go and call for guards!!”
That was another bluff. Liu Yue shouted where she presumed somebody was present. Her voice echoed higher and higher up with the sound of the wind and birds chirping in the forest. Liu Yue sighed. She felt hopeless when she looked at the empty forest. Nevertheless, her ears twitched upon detecting movement.
Liu Yue looked up. She heard the sound of a tree branch snapping and shiny metal from overhead. Liu Yue’s shriek was followed with a heavy thud on the ground. Nona poked her head out from a corner of the forest. Just when she was about to yell out to ask if Liu Yue was all right, an imposing fox gave her a fright.
Vera blankly looked at the big fox in front of her. She was so surprised that she was left mute. The fox didn’t look all that domineering. Instead, it looked significantly terrified. The three girls quickly ran over. The fox whimpered, and then whipped her front claw. Nona shrieked as she fell into the ditch the fox created with a stomp. There was somebody who was holding his chest and whimpering. Apparently, he tried to attack Liu Yue from overhead but was whacked into a tree before being stomped on.
That was Liu Yue’s reaction to an attack. She didn’t consider the possibility of crushing her assailant underfoot. Frankly, she was more occupied with curling up and shaking as she was doing instead of worrying about the consequences.
Daisy stroked her Liu Yue’s fur to calm the latter, while Nona went to help him up. Just as she was about to ask him something, Vera zipped past and kicked away the sword he desperately tried to pick up.
Daisy coldly snorted, and then picked up his long sword to hold it up to his neck. With the imposing aura similar to her mother, she coldly exclaimed, “You an assassin? Girls, shut your eyes, I’m going to amputate all of his limbs, and then watch him bleed out to death!!”
“Don’t!” Nona shrieked. “He might not be an assassin. Daisy, don’t be impulsive.”
“Bringing a weapon into the Imperial Palace and making an attempt on Liu Yue’s life. That doesn’t constitute an assassination?”
Daisy aggressively thrust her sword to slit his neck, but Vera stopped her. Verya then surveyed the young boy. He was dressed in torn and tattered clothing. He looked as though he’d weathered harsh weather. Even his face was covered in mud. Perhaps the mud was a result of Liu Yue stepping on him. Fortunately, the dead leaves on the ground provided adequate cushioning; otherwise, Liu Yue would’ve crushed him underfoot.
He sported dirty short black hair. His startled green eyes accompanied by facial features that weren’t straight and tall, thereby making him resemble a kid who had yet to grow up. The boy resembling a young kid was definitely not trying to enter the palace given how he was dressed. So the question was, “What exactly is he after?”
Vera gave an explanation of her analysis: “I don’t think he was trying to assassinate Liu Yue. There’s no reason to assassinate her. I’ve never seen this style of clothing before. He doesn’t appear to be a resident of the North. Additionally, look, this sword handle is totally different. It proves he isn’t an original resident of the North, and not an elf. He doesn’t resemble the humans to the South, either. He must be a foreigner. If he’s a foreigner, what reason does he have to assassinate Liu Yue? Liu Yue’s family lost their noble status long ago. They’re now wealthy merchants at best. If he was trying to assassinate her, it would be easier to do so at school or at her house, wouldn’t it? Trying to assassinate her in the Imperial Palace is nothing short of suicide, is it?”
“If he’s not trying to assassinate Liu Yue, he must be after Dad’s life!”
Daisy suddenly narrowed her eyes and raised her sword again. Vera rushed to stop Daisy. She knew Daisy would’ve thrust her sword him if she was a moment late. Daisy really would amputate every limb, and maybe shave off the facial features of someone who tried to assassinate her dad. After all, Daisy liked her dad most. There was no chance Daisy would forgive someone who tried to make an attempt on his life.
“Let me kill him!! Let me kill him!! Vera! He’s an assassin after our dad! Let me kill him! I’m going to kill him!!” Daisy roared as if she had gone mad.
In truth, if he really was an assassin, Vera would gladly kill him, too, except Vera thought something was odd. Even Nona was angry. She pointed at the boy and yelled, “Kill him! Kill him! He wants to kill Dad and hurt Liu Yue!!”
Daisy raised her sword with even more determination after she heard what she perceived to permission. Vera wanted to stop her, but on second thought, she couldn’t think of a problem that would occur as a result of killing him. He was an assassin, after all.
“No! No! No! I’m not an assassin!! I’m not an assassin!” The young man desperately wriggled and shouted out in a language the four girls were familiar with…