This was the first opportunity I had to sit down to have a proper talk with Lass Yu in years since I was either busy or had to avoid her previously. The last time I dined with her and Mountain Monster didn’t count because I was busy shutting Mountain Monster up with food. We grew apart quite a bit, seemingly, over the past six years apart.
“Tofu pudding is good for girls’ skin. Eat some more to maintain your radiant white skin.” Some people might’ve mistaken I was speaking to my bowl as opposed to Lass Yu, if you know what I mean.
“Does eating tofu whiten your skin?” Yu Feiyuan asked.
“Of course. Look how white the tofu is. This is what our ancestors meant by ‘you are what you eat.’”
“My second sister needs to eat more, then.” Yu Feiyuan set aside a bowl for Huofeng.
I wonder if Huofeng would strangle me if she learns I’m the reason…
I could tell Yu Feiyuan wasn’t focusing while we conversed, but I didn’t pry. If she wanted to tell me, then she would.
“Elder,” Yu Feiyuan looked resolutely my way and continued, “I… I have something I would like to consult you about.”
She’s being way too polite if she’s about to expose me, right? Better to not be careless, though.
Lass Yu is usually the good girl, which was why I often let my guard down around her. Whenever I thought she was harmless, though, I’d end up regretting it. One time, we came across a group of kids playing on the mountain. I wanted to eat big mantous that were just done steaming, so I pulled her off, trying to persuade her with, “You don’t need to look. If you’re envious, you can have a few kids to play with later in life.” Little did I know that I dug a hole for myself. When my shifu asked what we did during the day, I told him we went down the mountain and ate mantous. When her shifu asked the same question, she answered, “Brother Feizhen wants to have a child with me.” I won’t go into the details of how brutally Patriarch Zi smashed my shifu, but we nearly died at Emei.
I lifted my bowl to my mouth and utilised silence as a weapon: “… What is it?”
“… I want to ask if you met a man on the same day I met you and your granddaughter in the mountains. He is roughly your height but a tad thinner… He has white hair.”
Now I know why you’d bother dining with an old geezer.
“I have been searching for him for years.” Yu Feiyuan continued in a mellow voice, “The last time we met was six years ago… I have been searching for him ever since, but I have not been able to find him. Some people told me he has gone to the Western Regions. Some tell me he went to Beijiang. Some people say he is still in Jiangnan. I have been to all of those places. Sadly, I still have not found him.”
Yu Feiyuan was never one to say anything pointless; she didn’t exaggerate things, ever. If she said she went to Beijiang, she went there no matter how tough it was. I couldn’t really blame Huofeng for going off at me upon meeting me after learning how far Yu Feiyuan went to find me.
“I think I saw him in the woods that day; however, he left as soon as he saw me.”
“Why…?” I spoke with my head down on purpose to stifle my voice. “Why do you want to see him?”
“I have something to tell him.” Yu Feiyuan straightened her spine then went on, “Some things I didn’t understand. Now, I do. I haven’t had the chance to tell him yet, unfortunately. I want to convey my thoughts. I want to tell him I understand what happened six years ago. So, did you see him?”
Because I couldn’t find it in me to answer, I shook my head. It should’ve been the end for us. I couldn’t promise she’d like the outcome of our next meeting.
I finished three bowls of tofu pudding while babbling about random things to kill time, privy to the fact Lass Yu was the type to respond whenever she was asked.
“Are you engaged, young lady?” I had another small spoon of tofu pudding.
Why do I not feel as relieved as I thought I’d be? Well, it’s been so long, and she’s now an adult. It’s inappropriate to leave her in an engagement. It’s only natural Patriarch Zi would arrange a new marriage for Lass Yu knowing the former’s temperament. Nonetheless, I’m glad I didn’t harm the lass.
I couldn’t help recalling Lass Yu in her thin light-yellow robe, eyebrows locked as she concentrated during training. It was only her and the leaf in front of her that she was trying to impale until I showed up that she would beam and call, “Brother Feizhen.” Every smile and every word always stuck with me. I never expected to feel forlorn upon learning she was engaged.
“When did you get engaged?”
“Are you inquiring about me or my sect?”
“Is there a difference? Parents and teachers make the decision when it comes to marriage.”
I thought you’re here for Refining Divine Convention. How did you find a partner?! Now I know why Huofeng was no longer hostile! Wait. Wait. I didn’t know you were so easy to fool!
“It was arranged yesterday.”
“Wait, wait, who is he? Is he that perfect? Why did you decide so impulsively?”
“We have known each other for a while, but it has been a long time since we last met.”
Wait, wait, wait, wait, there must be some conspiracy!
“Tell me who he is. I’ll help you evaluate him.”
“I think… he is in this inn. I have not seen him yet.” Lass Yu’s blush seared through her cheeks: “But I’m looking forward to it.”
Oh my goodness gracious!