Chu Li smiled widely and gave them a fist salute.
Siao Tieying was standing alongside Lin Quan, and Siao Shi with Mulin. Once he stepped into the hall, everyone looked at him.
Siao Tieying went to him and grabbed him by his arm. He smiled, "Good, you're really back alive now. That's great news!"
"Master Siao, I'm fortunate to be alive." Chu Li smiled.
"Even the most ferocious of thunders could not get to you. You truly are incredible!" Siao Tieying exclaimed in admiration.
Siao Shi's beautiful eyes were calm as water, as she gazed at Chu Li. She did not speak.
Mulin went forth and grabbed Chu Li's wrist to feel for a pulse, just to be sure. He nodded satisfyingly, "Not bad, young lad. You truly are tough!"
Chu Li smiled, "I'm sorry I made you worry, Elder Guo."
"You little brat! I consider myself unlucky for having met you!" Mulin said jokingly.
"Alright, Chu Li. You should head up and have some rest." Siao Qi said, "Take a few days' time off."
"Sure." Let nodded. He gave one last fist salute to everyone before leaving.
Siao Shi's gaze was still transfixed on him. Her eyes did not move as she watched him go.
Chu Li had only looked back at her once, smiling and giving her a slight nod. He then left the place without looking back.
"Sigh, what a lad. Since he's fine now, I shall go back too." Mulin shook his head and said, "Second Lady, you should take some proper rest too. After all, you had just recovered from a huge illness. We couldn't take chances."
"Understood." Siao Shi answered him absent-mindedly.
Only the three siblings were left in the room. As Lin Quan too had left the building.
"Thank God the stars shined upon Chu Li!" Siao Tieying grinned in delight. "It looks like our Public House's fortunes are taking a turn for the better!"
Siao Qi nodded gently, "Big brother, this time, we really have to thank Chu Li."
"That is for sure!" Siao Tieying smiled, "We shan't mistreat him in the future. If not, I will not forgive myself for being rude to our savior, and so wouldn't the rest of the people in the Public House!...Second sister, how do you think we should reward Chu Li?"
"Me------?" Siao Shi shook her head, "How would I know?!"
Siao Qi was silent.
Siao Tieying laughed, "Second sister, Chu Li seemed to fancy you a lot. What about, I let you marry him?"
"Big brother, what are you joking about?!" Siao Shi stared meanly at Siao Tieying.
Siao Tieying watched as his sister's cheeks blushed red, he laughed, "No need to be shy in front of your own brother. A good companion is harder to find than treasure! If I let Chu Li be my brother-in-law, I would not need to worry!"
"Brother, stop this nonsense!" Siao Shi glared at him, "Me and him can't be together!"
"Why not?" Siao Tieying smile vanished as he was taken aback by that statement. "Chu Li is not worthy of marrying you? Besides his lesser origin, everything else about him is perfect for you. He's smart, charming, skilled in martial arts; he's one the best! The most important thing is, he's willing to die to protect you. Where can you find another man like him?"
"I am not compatible with Chu Li." Siao Shi shook her head and admitted, "He likes Siao Qi more!"
"Huh------?" Siao Tieying glanced at Siao Qi.
Siao Qi glared at her, "What does it have to do with me?"
Siao Shi explained, "I knew exactly why he chose to save me. It was because of his affection for you, Siao Qi!"
Siao Qi sighed, "Siao Shi, you don't like Chu Li?"
Siao Shi answered calmly, "Big brother, third sister, have you guys forgotten? I'm already bound to an engagement."
Siao Tieying and Siao Qi looked at her with a serious expression, both shaking their heads.
Siao Tieying smiled, "Siao Shi, that engagement was not even official. So many years had passed, and the other party didn't seem to utter a single word about it. It's obvious that they don't intend to keep the promise."
Siao Qi added, "It was just a verbal agreement, it doesn't count."
"They didn't ask us about it because of my weak body. Now that I'm cured, we can't be so sure anymore." Siao Shi said.
Siao Tieying shook his head, "Second sister, if you're not willing to fulfil the engagement, then just let it be. Don't spread the word out about how you're already up and healthy, then it would be fine... But it all still comes down to your personal preference, don't be too hard on yourself!"
"I figured that marrying into the royal family might be a good thing after all." Siao Shi said, "Then you would never have to worry about me anymore."
Siao Tieying frowned.
Siao Qi said, "Siao Shi, our Public House is not in such a precarious position that we need you to marry yourself away!"
Siao Tieying agreed with her, "She's right!"
Siao Shi replied flatly, "I've heard that Prince An is a man of wisdom. Plus, he's a kind gentleman. You can say that he would make a good husband."
"But Alan is already forty, and he has so many consorts!" Siao Tieying looked annoyed, "It's better if you marry Chu Li. Let's not talk about capabilities, just look at how besotted he is with you! He won't ever let anything bad happen to you."
"Prince An had never crowned himself a princess consort, he could be adhering to his promise all along." Siao Shi said.
Siao Tieying face turned gloomy.
Siao Qi's face looked downcast too.
This engagement promise was a wound in their hearts. Nobody wanted to cut it open, because the pain would be too much to endure.
"Big brother, father may not be here with us anymore, but can we turn our backs on a promise?" Siao Shi said, "If I had really married Chu Li, Prince An would not let us go scot-free. Who would be able to stop him then?"
Siao Tieying gripped hard on the armrest of his chair. He remained silent.
Prince An the third son of the emperor. The real reason he had not chosen a princess consort, was indeed because of the engagement promise back then. Their father had the Prince as their guest one day, and under the occasion they half-heartedly proposed the engagement. Verbally, their father agreed to marry her second daughter to the Prince as his princess consort.
At that time, Siao Shi was not even born yet. Now that their father had isolated himself from the outside world for cultivation of martial arts, he had left Siao Shi hanging, and restricted to the engagement.
After so many years, Prince An's Imperial residence had never approached them regarding the engagement. The Prince never came to take Siao Shi away with him too, because of her fragile health. They felt that she would not be able to acclimatize to the environment in the palace. They feared that if anything bad had happened to Siao Shi, a huge conflict would break out between both parties.
Now that Siao Shi's body had recovered, once Prince An had caught wind of the news, he would most certainly pursue the engagement. Even more so because Siao Shi was crowned as their state's number one beauty.
The Yi Public House's relationship with the Imperial residence had always been complicated. They had numerous work ties but at times there were minor conflicts. From the perspective of an outsider, they may look like they are united, but deep down, there were many cold wars.
If Siao Shi had really wed herself into the Imperial residence and become the princess consort, she would not be guaranteed a perfect life. She might be jumping into a hellfire pit. Siao Tieying had a special kinship with his sister, so he could not bear marrying her sister to the Imperial residence. The engagement promise was also the biggest cause of his beef with his own father.
Siao Qi sighed, "Then just pretend that we had forgotten about it. Sister, get rid of that mindset of yours, marrying yourself to the Prince wouldn't help solve our Public House's crisis!"
"That's right!" Siao Tieying followed up, "Siao Shi, even the marriage between me and the Princess would not help our Public House at all, so don't think that way!"
"Prince An is a good man." Siao Shi said, "You all don't have to worry!"
"Second sister!" Siao Tieying face turned gloomy, "So you refuse to listen to your own brother?"
"Big brother..." Siao Shi exhaled, "The truth would be out there sooner or later. Prince An and the Imperial residence would find out eventually!"
"Delay it for as long as we can!" Siao Tieying scoffed, "If our father could reach the boundaries of enlightened mastery, the engagement would instantly be voided!"
Siao Shi shook her head lightly.
Breaking through the boundary of enlightened mastery was not by any means an easy feat. She had zero confidence in it.
Siao Tieying tried to switch the topic, "Third sister, how do you think we should reward Chu Li?"
"Promote him to Rank 2?" Siao Qi suggested.
Siao Tieying fell silent, he pondered for a minute. Then, he nodded, "By law, what he did was not enough to qualify him as a Rank 2. But this time, I admit that it's different. He had sacrificed his own life to save Siao Shi's, so I could make an exception. He deserved to be promoted to Rank 2."
Siao Qi agreed.
Siao Tieying turned around and looked at Siao Shi, "Let Chu Li be the Chief of the Island of Symphony, what do you think?"
"No!" Siao Shi waved his hand to protest, "Chu Li is our third sister's favorite general."
Siao Tieying turned his glance at Siao Qi, "Third sister?"
Siao Qi sighed, "Fine. Just let Chu Li visit our second sister more frequently would do."
She understood her big brother's intentions. He wanted to use Chu Li to tie down Siao Shi's heart and prevent her from doing foolish things. He did not want Siao Shi to plunge herself into the hell pit, namely Prince An's Imperial residence. Siao Tieying would do whatever it takes to marry Siao Shi to Chu Li.
But what would this leave Chu Li with?
Siao Shi rolled her eyes at her siblings, "If you do send Chu Li to my place, I would leave immediately!"
Siao Tieying sighed, "Second sister, please don't do anything stupid!... If you really marry the King, how would I explain myself to our late mother?!"
Upon hearing him mention their mother, Siao Shi stopped talking.
Siao Qi could see through what was playing in her sister's mind. Siao Shi had feelings for Chu Li, but it was purely admiration. She had no interest at all in pursuing a love relationship. The only thing she had in mind was how to turn their Public House's fortunes around. She fervently hoped that she could help change their situation for the better.